Anatomy of a relapse part 2: onset

On September 6, 2014, I made a choice that could have cost me my life. In this six part series, we will journey back and look at how I slipped into a relapse and what I did to self-stabilize and avert catastrophe.

This is part two of six in a series. For part one (Losing Grip), click here.

The following poem was written while the chemical’s effects took hold, as I succumbed to my first DXM trip in over five years:


I escaped the maze
the forgiveness I gave
Stopped losing that game
On my knees, I was saved
Patterns cycled under icebergs
Massive empires ‘neath oceans
Carnage hindered, roadblocked
Efficacy behold, risen up, strong!
Glimpse of human, peer at man
Waves of potential, growing hands
Forgiveness no longer enough
Gratitude is futile
Positivity is placebo
Divinity a sham
What we believe is what is real
and my belief is drained into the earth
With it, my reality
Dispersed to soil
Absorbed by rotting flesh
and fossilized remnants
and into vacuous nothingness
Redemption is a teasing joke
A seductive myth from sick paradigms
Poisoned into me from birth
by sham artists with holy books
Deeming unworthiness, disgustingness
Calling out humans as hopeless sinners
Blaming my childish yearnings on demons
Breaking me, hypnotizing me, calibrating me
with a tune I could ne’re keep up with
“Be gone, Satan,” my bringer said to I
I hated and wept and died
So deeply, brainwashed
No repair, recovery out of reach
Oh, I tasted triumph
I tasted control
But now it is time
Back to the hole
In five years,
didn’t dream of this day
Yet here I am,
Hellbent on decay
Misfired comet,
blasted towards Earth
stuck in its gravitational field
Round and round and round
Down and down and down
Space debris masquerading as man
Stuck in non-intuitive rituals and expectations
Faking it ’till I make it
Haha, can’t say that with a straight face
But there, truth resides
Ironic plunging, striving for authenticity
by wearing masks and doing dances
Popping through charades
’till they seem real enough
for me to forget
that it’s all delusion, anyway
It’s coming over me, I feel it
My old misunderstood friend
Long vacant from my cells
Slithering through now, affecting my sense
Electrifying, warming, enticing
Misunderstood friend
Philosophic fuck buddy
The only one who saw me for who I am
What I am
Why I am
The others, they tried
They always did, always do
Like me, like everyone, always trying
But I’m a special case
Categorized mental anguish
Spiritual depletion
Logical catastrophe
Fundamentally distraught
By default, twisted to shreds
As my hair grays
& my glow fades
All I love, I betray
All I nourish, decays
Oh, I feel it, it’s coming
Wrapping around, hugging my skull
Touching my brain, softly, sweetly
Non-threateningly, just a puppy dog
Wagging tail, shining eyes
But you’ll see a beast, ravenous
or a devil
“Be gone, Satan,” you’ll say
and I’ll cry inside
for the devil you hate is me

I’d already swallowed 60 Robitussin gel caps before writing it.

And I felt relieved.

As though a muscle I’d clenched for five years was at long last released. Finally lowered my guard, unlocked my door for an old friend I’d long ago fallen out with. An old god I’d forsaken.

There was no drama in me. No conflict, no fear.

As dextromethorphan permeated me, taking me deeper and deeper into myself, and far away from my every worry, I felt home.

As it wormed through me deeper still, it was a simple matter to forget the devastation my use of DXM and other drugs had caused in the past. I felt safe, secure, peaceful, totally justified in my actions.

My high escalated to intense heights of euphoria, where I felt like nothing could shake me, nor scratch or break me.

I laid down on the floor, flat on my back, just like I always used to “back in the day.” I put on some music. My mind surfed on the sound waves.

Closing my eyes, I took in the wonders of my mind. The chaos, the tranquility, the paradoxes. I saw things in my mind’s eye I hadn’t seen in so long. It was like revisiting a nostalgic place, such as a neighborhood from childhood. A place your heart longs for in silent moments. A place you forget how much you miss until you return to it.

Within my deepest inner sanctum, my narcissistic wonderland, I vowed to never leave again.

My mind was abundant with creative power and grandiose plans. I felt absolutely omniscient.

Can you imagine?

By all appearances, I was dead on the floor. In my mind, though, I was a rip-roaring shooting star, an unstoppable superhero. That little boy who only wanted to be important, satiated beyond measure.

By appearances, I was hurting myself by eating too much cough medicine, a selfish and stupid act.

From my perspective, it was the rest of the world that was selfish and stupid, for expecting me to deprive myself of the one thing that made me feel so deeply alive.

That is what I longed for my loved ones to understand through my times of drug use.

Through those years, I desperately craved for my family, my friends, my lovers to understand.

To comprehend that I did not use drugs to hurt people, or cause dissonance, shame, or drama.

I used, because it made me feel purposeful and alive in ways I did not know how to feel otherwise, and I resented people for making such a big deal of it, for fighting me tooth and nail, for labeling my behavior as a sick deviation of what was acceptable.

For years, I did not see resistance to my choices from others as love. I saw disapproval as an insult to my autonomy, a threat to my right to determine my own way of life.

Now I can see and understand the other side, the perspective of my loved ones. I know they cared, and they were afraid, confused, inconvenienced.

But through it all, I had a perspective too. And mine was so often looked at by others as a repugnant sickness. I felt like my reasons were automatically disregarded as weightless excuses to perpetuate a “disease.”

When I was using regularly, many friends, acquaintances, and health care professionals treated me as less than a person.

“Don’t call me until you’re you again,” someone told me once.

And it hurt, because I was very much, indisputably from my point of view, the one and only me. Just vacationing on a different mental wavelength.

So there I was as September 6th, 2014, bled into the 7th. Exploring that wavelength again, back flat to the floor, tripping through the folds and contours of my mind.

I couldn’t help but smile.

After my trip’s pinnacle, I reached out, confided in a few close friends that DXM was back in my life. That I couldn’t tolerate life without it anymore, that my inner peace depended on it.

One of my closest friends, quite surprised by this turn of events, said to me:

“I am not trying to judge but I would be failing at my duty as a friend if I didn’t point out that what you just said about inner peace puts you squarely in the same mind set as other addicts.”

And he spoke the truth.

I was in a seductive trap. Reverted to a former version of myself.

So caught up I was in the relief of letting go, of getting swept away, of parading about in the narcissistic paradise of a DXM trip, I’d conveniently forgotten the darker sides of the chemical’s influence on me.

The insanity of relentless instability, the misery, the alienation.

Broken friendships. Solitary confinement, both self-induced and involuntary.

Court dates and fines. Bankruptcy, moral and financial. Breaking hearts, left and right.

Stuck in mire, no forward motion. No approval or acknowledgment from those whose approval means everything.

No life.

At some point on the afternoon of Sunday the 7th, my brain’s chemicals whooshed around in just the optimal manner for me to have a deep and profound realization that my actions were, well, deeply and profoundly going to annihilate my world from the inside out.

I knew it was unlikely that I could divert my collision course with obliteration without help, so I called the one person I trust more than anyone: my mum.

I asked her to pick me up the next morning, take me to the hospital.

Chose morning, because I wanted to sleep first, to be more capable of expressing myself. To salvage some dignity, and have the ability to articulate myself to the health care professionals.

Basically, I did not want to go into treatment and be seen as a strung out junky. Was important to me, to clearly convey my desire to participate and cooperate in the treatment process.

My plan was to enter into Sparrow Hospital’s inpatient treatment for substance misuse.

Things did not, as it turned out, play out exactly as planned.

An email I wrote to a concerned party while under the influence (click image for larger version)

An email I wrote to the same concerned party just before heading to the hospital (click image to enlarge)

Part three (Healthcare barriers)

Also published on Medium.