Well this is nice. We’ve ended up with a transatlantic conversation here on the idea of Self Medicating. Bipolar Barb has just blogged regarding this, on her own site, in response to Elle’s last post Self Medicating (Elle) on here. Much thanks for your input Barb and now I’ll add mine to the mix.
I definitely see my past as that of an addict but I struggle a bit with the term self medicating. To me the term suggests taking a substance for (percieved) beneficial or calming results. That was never the case with me, I just LOVED the buzz of the high. I think Bipolar types experience these highs a wee bit more acutely than others. I loved it so much that the detrimental problems it could cause for my fragile mental health seemed worth the risk. The main substance I was addicted to was cannabis. I would smoke it on almost daily basis for 10 years. Nowadays it’s a drug I don’t even like to smell in my presence. These days if I was to have one puff I would automatically descend into psychosis. That’s how dangerous it is to me. I think part of being addicted to cannabis is that the fact that it has quite a benign public profile…Hey it’s medicinal, hey Bob Marley smoked it all the time and look at how cool he was, hey just chill out man.
Of all the drugs I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot, cannabis is the one that was most detrimental to my mental health. I don’t want to put a damper on the party for everyone else, but if you have a condition like mine I would best avoid. When I first became ill I arrived two hours late for an appointment with an unsympathetic GP. I was disoriented and confused, I was rambling and I was really worried about how my mind was behaving. The GP asked me about my lifestyle. I told him and he said, “So this is what you do all day is it? Sit around the house smoking dope and now you’ve come here for some pills.” With that I was chucked out with a packet of antidepressants in my hand. I took them as prescribed and 24 hours later I was taken off the streets and put into a psychiatric hospital, having started to enter a lower level of psychosis. Thanks Doc.
My love of the high and eventually walking away from such nights took a while in my life. The usual long periods of relative clean living peppered with late night binges. Haven’t had any of them for a while now either. Bad hangovers just remind me I’m never far from my condition. I’ve had one in the last 18 months.
So now the ‘high’ comes from work and study. I do a lot of this. But it’s a different high. The hangover from this high tends to be either more creativity or a need to shut my brain down and play on my X-Box. I believe William Burroughs finally quit it all around the same age I am now. He produced a lot of good work once he did.