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on meth, meds and mental illness
singapore sunset
amw
When I was in that window of not reading or updating LiveJournal very much (aka the black hole of my previous job), there was a nifty feature that said "read one of your posts from 10 years ago".

In my case, that was when I had just arrived in Canada. The post talked about how I had quit drinking after noticing I was only using it to avoid dealing with J's family sober. That was a poor decision. Over the next year I was in and out of the emergency rooms and eventually I ended up as a psychiatric inpatient for 6 weeks.

My mood continued to be a shit-show until I became a meth addict, which was a great period in my life where everything made sense. Weekends were completely amazing. Weekdays were a terrible slog. Any residual emotions or love I had for J evaporated. But my life finally made sense. It was pure and clean.

That drug destroyed the lives of many of the people I was hanging out with. Arguably it destroyed J's life too, by association. But it set me free.

I just read the post on ONTD about how Kanye isn't taking medication for his bipolar and the commentariat were all up in arms about how irresponsible it is to say that, bla bla bla. The idea that the moment anyone exhibits difficulties managing their mental health they should be medicated is so fucking American. Not that psychiatrists don't prescribe meds elsewhere - they certainly do - but medication is not seen as the sole and final solution.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a long time ago. I tried all kinds of different meds - anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-convulsants/mood stabilizers... Some of them kept me reasonably stable for years. Others sent me spiraling off in one direction or another. Still more just made me feel dead inside. I spent a lot of time doing talk therapy too. None of it worked as well as meth.

On meth my moods were entirely predictable. Good felt great. Bad felt terrible. I could deal with the terrible because I knew next time I scored I'd feel great again.

But you know what has worked at least as good as meth, and better than any of the drugs the doctors prescribed? Getting a divorce. Giving up on relationships. Giving up on gender and passing. Giving up on friendships. Giving away all my stuff and packing my entire life into a rucksack.

Now I have true freedom. I am not sure that I "solved" my bipolar disorder, but I don't feel like I suffer from it any more.

So many of the triggers that sent me to very dark places were to do with me trying to please my partners, or trying not to disappoint them, or whatever. Feeling like I had to buy a house, or even just buy stuff to put into a house, it was like falling into a yawning chasm that would swallow me up and trap me forever.

And then the manic moments, those psychotic breaks when all the pressure had gotten too much and real life became like a lucid dream. If I closed my eyes I felt I could fly. The universe sent me messages, or maybe they were for everyone but I was the only one who could see. I was in my own world where I didn't need to bend to other people's will or expectations.

Meth stripped all that away. If you feel good on meth it is thunderingly obvious that it is artificial. Everything you do is a complete waste of time, and you know it's a complete waste of time, and you do it anyway because the drugs make it feel exciting. When you feel bad, you just fucking feel bad because you didn't sleep enough or you didn't eat enough or you are in withdrawal. You feel good because of what you did, you feel bad because of what you did. The end. It's a simple life.

I realized that I could reconstruct my sober life in a similar way. I could remove every external influence from my life that had a negative (or positive) impact and just be me. Obviously work is the one exception to this because fuck capitalism and also fuck nationalism. But as long as I can push myself to work just enough to earn some cash and qualify me for residency in whatever country I am in, then the rest of my life is free. No obligations. No responsibilities. Just me.

So now I can waste my time any way I like. If I spend all weekend lying in bed, that's fine. If I go climb a mountain, that's fine too. I can quit my job, move countries, it's all fine. Depressed? Manic? Fine. I'm just doing what I want to do. When I feel good, I just feel good. When I feel bad, I just feel bad. I roll with the punches. As long as I work enough to pay the bills, nothing else matters. Many people don't realize that when you're an addict you still need to go to work too, otherwise you won't have much success sustaining your addiction. It's just another bill to pay. So, you work. Outside of work, who fucking cares?

I guess you can also look at this as growing up. Part of growing up is realizing that nobody really cares about you, so you can just do whatever you want. Another part is realizing that life is essentially pointless, so you might as well spend the time you have on things that make you feel good. I still have a healthy love for humanity and our universe in general, so I would never take this as a ticket to be an anti-social jackass. But it is a ticket to just be me.

And, I guess, it turns out, just being yourself can do a lot to tame the destructive symptoms of mental illness.