For the past few years I have been constantly shuffled in and out of hospitals, the separate occasions in the ER a blur, its entrance turned into a revolving door. Each one of these brief stints in various hospitals across the U.S. feels like an eternity, but acts as a much needed rest from the chaos of my everyday life, a chance to charge the batteries. The interesting (or uninteresting) thing about spending an extended period of time in the hospital is the different shapes and forms that boredom can take. It’s like the feeling you get from different weather fronts moving through the county you live in, or the temperature difference you feel as you move from inside to outside. You can actually watch the boredom collect on different objects in the room, akin to the morning dew collecting on a leaf above your head, the water repeatedly condensing and forming a bead on the tip, and than slowly, dropping onto the surface of your forehead wile you try to sleep in the early hours of the morning…drip…Drip…DRip…DRIp…DRIP! Driving you fucking crazy!!!
I hate being bored. I don’t “do bored” well. Don’t get me wrong, my life has been a complete shit show, and can be labeled many names, but one thing it has not been, for the most part, is boring. The revolving front door spins faster and faster sending me on a helicopter ride back in time through memory after memory.
I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is “JOE”, I am both the good guy and the bad guy, I am a lover and a fighter, an athlete and a bum, A musician and a junkie,
I am a heroin addict submerged in addiction, yet I am working hard at a program to attain sobriety. I am a good and honest person capable of gaining those who surround me’s trust and friendship. But I am also an extremely dark and manipulative person, capable/guilty of destroying relationships with lies and deceit. This is my story. A story that everyone seems to think is worth telling.
It seems as though my depression takes a form similar to black ice in my life. I’m aware that it’s there…..somewhere….. but by the time I realize it’s upon me it’s too late….. I have already slipped and started to fall – there is no stopping the crash.
I think that’s where the root of my addiction lies. I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 11 or 12 and prescribed Zoloft, but I was too embarrassed/prideful to continue taking it once my life started to go well. I guess I was too young and naïve to realize that once things start to go well, it’s not guaranteed to continue going well – life’s road tends to be filled with bumps and hills, go figure. Instead of willingly riding out the dips in the road, I tried to bypass them completely (or ignore them, I guess) by sneaking through a tunnel – heroin. Needless to say…. that never worked.
You have heard the story a million times, and mine is no different. First I tried a couple of vicodins – this lead to Percocet – followed by oxycontin. Then I got a girlfriend and started hiding my opiate use and doing it a little less. I was doing about 40-50 mg of oxycontin twice a week, sometimes once. I was selling copious amounts of LSD, MDMA, and Marijuana. I actually managed to make a lot of money and began partying more and more and my days were filled with day-long trips followed by heavy drinking to come down from the acid.
Unfortunately, I had developed a tastes for whiskey during the year and a half I spent at college. With my combined alcohol and opiate use came violent outbursts and increased depression. I had a pretty girlfriend whom I originally treated like a queen. But I became depressed, dissatisfied, and angry. I started treating her like shit and pushing her away.
CONVERSION TO HEROIN…. NECTAR OF THE GODS ?
People always ask me the same question: “ You seem so smart, you’re educated ! You’re such a nice young man…. What on earth would possess you to stick a needle in your arm and try heroin ??!?”
Well, aside from my history above, I’ll tell you what would possess me to do such a thing, but it’s no simple explanation. It involves a perfectly brewed storm, ultimately several different fronts converging with one another, forming a tornado of depression, drugs, lies, and deceit.
COLORADO – 2010 ?
I had been living in Colorado for about a year – working for the ski resort and living life as a ski bum when I moved my girlfriend out with me. Our relationship was already on the rocks, and I was not a thrill to be around. As my depression sky-rocketed, so did my drinking and drug use. It was sometime in October that my girlfriend dumped me – 2 months into a 6 month lease. I had to live with a girl that I was crazy about, but who was no longer crazy about me, and interact with her on a daily basis.
One day a good friend came over and asked if I wanted to smoke some opium and, of course, I happily indulged. The little piece of tarry substance ( what looked to be about the size of a pearl) was placed on a piece of tin foil and lit from underneath, thus creating smoke. As the black tar dripped down the tinfoil, I chased the smoky trail with a straw (can you say, “Puff, the magic dragon ?”) I was instantly filled with an almost god-like euphoria – sheer ecstasy. I had finally discovered the nectar of the gods… and thus my 5 year chase after the dragon had begun.
What I didn’t know was that I had just smoked black tar heroin. Not opium. I began spending all of my extra money on “opium” which was sold to me by my “friend” who was taking the heroin out of the balloons the way it’s regularly sold, and transferring it to wax paper – the way opium is usually sold – so that I would not connect the dots until it was too late. And then the picture became clear. I had been turned into a full-blown heroin addict.
Once it became painfully obvious what I was smoking, instead of seeking help, I thought, ” Well, how can I get more bang for my buck ?” At this time I got online on my Mac, and looked up how to cook and shoot up black tar heroin. Needless to say, through trial and error I slowly figured out he art of hitting a vein. I had found my sanctuary.
So for me, the perfect storm in the forms of 1) depression, 2) my first bad break -up and 3) bad luck – all converged during one of the most vulnerable times of my life. And THAT is what possessed me to stick a needle in my arm.
OREGON = PTSD
I know where I am…. It’s a familiar place, where I am doomed to revisit over and over again. A situation I am destined to be terrorized by at least a couple of times a week. I know where I am and what is happening, but everything is foggy – like when walking through a field that I’ve lived next too all of my life, but it’s in the early morning and still blanketed with milky and steamy mist. The scene is the same as always. I am kneeling on the floor with a pistol to my forehead and the man holding the gun is screaming at me…. But I can’t quite make out the words. His words are muffled as thought I’m listening to them from underwater. But then I break through the surface and the words become clear as day. “ I’ll blow your fucking brains out !! I swear to God I’m going to kill you ! Say goodbye, Mother fuc-“
I bolt up in my bd. Where am I ? Why is it so fucking bright here ? Why is there a cop in my face with a hand on my shoulder ? What the hell is going on ???
“ Joe??? JOE ???? Jesus Christ, I thought you were having a fucking seizure ! You ok ???”
Then everything becomes clear… a sigh of relief washes over me, and the fear subsides. The tide of chaos and confusion recedes, leaving me in its wake. Back in reality. I am sitting in jail, looking at the corrections officer who is unfortunate enough to come across me shaking like a leaf and moaning in my sleep, suffering through one of my weekly PTSD related flashbacks. The CO is new and apparently was not warned that this frequent unconscious behavior of mine is not at all unusual. So I gather my bearings and calmly respond.
“I’m good, man…. Just having a flashback, sorry. Last shift should have warned you”
“ Ok, good…. I thought you were going to fall out of your bunk !”
The experience I just described really happened and it was the final act in a string of traumatic events that occurred after I moved form Colorado back to Portland, Oregon. Drugs, Violence, Death. Love, and overdose. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest section of MY heroin diary…..