GUEST WRITER – Leo
My psychiatric troubles are, like many others, drug-induced. I was a consumer of large quantities of weed daily and began taking hallucinogenic mushrooms after using MDMA and cocaine. At the time I also drank enough to black out almost every time I drank during my first year in University. A friend who has been hospitalised several times once told me there’s no one in a Psychiatric Ward who hasn’t taken drugs.
After blacking out once again at a party, I witnessed my friends’ attitude change towards me. Strangers stared and laughed as I went by and the people I knew made increasingly frequent jokes about memory loss. I became obsessed with finding out what I had done but my questions remained unanswered.
Two weeks later, I introduced a friend to hallucinogenic mushrooms. I was increasingly upset and in the weeks since the party I had travelled to Boston only to blackout again after taking pharmaceutical stimulants and drinking.
This time was different, to this day I do not know what happened but I can very clearly tell you how it felt: Like my mind, all my preoccupations of this world, my cares and rules and lifelines had all been vacuumed out of my skull leaving in their place a terrible emptiness.
My first experience in dealing with this new state was an attempt at buying pizza. We arrived in the restaurant and my friend asked me what I would like. I looked around me and realised my mind made no logical connection whatsoever between the question and our presence here. No connection between the man at the counter and pizza. No connection between the menu and the act of eating pizza. I left the restaurant in a hurry and, somehow managing to find old voice half-successfully, instead of the monotone one I’d recently acquired, explained I needed sleep and left.
I walked through Montreal for five hours trying attempting to find my way home; a trip that should have taken 30 minutes. I asked people for directions then instantly forgot them. I felt alien, disconnected, far. This lasted nearly nine months until a mix of anti-psychotics and therapy helped me reconnect with reality.
The reconnection is a thread you have to clutch for dear life. A moment’s inattention and it’s all gone. And then you’re back to square one.
Over the course of those nine months I alienated almost all of my friends. I found myself in a vicious spiral of social suicide. My thought process had changed dramatically since using drugs. My thought process now went along these lines:
- They are laughing. Someone made a joke.
- They look to me expecting an emotional reaction.
- I say nothing and they stare.
- The joke was about me and I didn’t get it.
- Fuck them (fight or flight response).
- Doubting my perceptions.
- Ask for help.
- Doubt the help.
My advice to anyone considering taking hallucinogens is the following: ask yourself if you’d play Russian roulette with your sanity. Ask yourself what your sanity is worth to you.
If you happen to be going through a difficult and uncertain period after drug use or times of trouble know this:
The less you use, the better you will feel. Only you can choose to hold on to reality. Trust your psychiatrist – never be afraid to contradict him, he will help you find the cognitive dissonance in your thoughts like pulling at strings until a knot comes undone. Do not reject old friends and family. And if you are considering suicide, keep singing this mantra “Things can only get better than they are now.”
Guest Writer Bio: Leo is a second year communications student at university in Paris, France. He hopes to use his degree to work to reduce the stigma against mental illness.