When people ask why I don’t drink anymore, they are usually taken aback when I feed them some line about the calories in alcohol being second to that in fat. You see, I didn’t drink until I was 18 simply because my doctors had warned it wouldn’t be smart and could hurt my psyche further but once I started drinking at university it was a regular part of my day. And not just one or two ciders, I mean proper university drinking, drink until you pass out and then keep drinking when you wake up kind of drinking. Sometimes even day drinking to get through bad hallucinations or to write an essay that I knew none of the content for. I was known for drinking basically so to suddenly stop the one thing I am good at has shocked a lot of people. While it is true I am no longer drinking because of the calories, the main reason I’m not drinking is that it stopped helping my brain and started making everything much worse, it stopped making me sleepy and instead kept me up for days and so on. So, to be sensible, I’ve cut it out meaning the only other drug I have available is weed. Yes, I know, for a lot of people weed makes paranoia worse, it increases anxiety and can even worsen hallucinations but for me, all it has ever done was mellow me out and give my brain room to breathe. Knowing this, I thought nothing of having a few pot brownies with some friends yesterday just to try and calm my mind down and allow me to enjoy the sun. We left the house, walked for a few minutes and finally lay down in the warm grass of a big field and waited for them to kick in. One of my friends felt it there and then and was quiet and calm next to me, the other didn’t really feel much of anything and after a few hours, we returned home. As I was dropped off at my house I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, it had been over five hours and I had felt nothing but oh well, there was always next time. Fast forward an hour and I am gearing up to take the dog for a walk when I suddenly feel reality slow down like it mattered not how quickly I waved my arms and clicked my fingers, everything was going at less than half speed. Realising what was about to happen, I texted a friend to come walk with me, hurried (well, not really) past my mother and headed outside. At first, it just seemed like the weed had hit me pretty hard all at once but it soon became apparent that actually, it had triggered a psychotic episode. Fantastic. I am lucky the guy I texted knows a little about schizoaffective disorder because I have spent years teaching him so he knows that the only thing to do when I start having a really bad episode is to either let me burn myself out or call my doctor if it gets too bad. We walked around a field for a while as it got worse and worse until I had to sit down on a nearby log to prevent myself from running off. It felt like we sat there for years, his face morphing and melting, sliding off and decorating the grass over and over before I closed my eyes. Reflecting on the incident, up to that point it was pretty manageable, just hallucinations, loss of time perception and I couldn’t feel anything below my neck, all fairly standard. Hallucinations are a part of my everyday life so they weren’t too hard to handle although they usually aren’t that grim, dead bodies dragging themselves about in front of me and the trees being full of hanging children etc. Then, just as I thought I had sorted out the worst of it, a helicopter started flying above us and every word that came out of my friend’s mouth was suddenly about convincing me that it was the police ready to get me. It started with just a simple, ‘I think the chopper’s circling, don’t you?’, then ‘I heard the police are out tonight looking for someone, someone who’s done terrible things, maybe they killed a family.’ and so on until he said, ‘Nate, I am telling you, it’s the police, they’re coming for you, they’re finally going to lock you up again.’. After years of living with psychosis, I have learned techniques to combat this sort of thing so the whole time I was only replying with simple friendly statements like, ‘maybe it is, that’s okay’ and ‘I’m sure I haven’t done anything wrong but if I have then they’re just doing their job’. Internally, of course, I could feel the panic rising with the bile in my throat and I knew that if this went on much longer I would lose my composure completely. Luckily, after asking him several times on a timed schedule if there was a helicopter above us, it left. By this point, I was only hearing half of what my friend was saying and only half of what I thought I was saying was getting out to him but I knew I had to reassure him that everything was fine and that he was doing a great job because one of my habits while deeply psychotic is to ask people to kill me while repeating how bad everything is, something people tend to find rather worrying understandable. It took all my effort to get out something about what I was currently experiencing so he could understand what was happening and words trying to get the message across that I would be fine in time. Eventually, it got too cold to sit in the dark anymore so we went back to my house to drop my dog off and then continued to walk around the area where we live until I asked him to go home because it was midnight and he had done enough for me already so, after some convincing, he left and I walked myself home, still with no feeling in my body. I really detest not being able to feel below the waist because I don’t know if I’m wetting myself the whole time. Not that I would, but I just have no way of knowing. I was still a bit doolally when I put my head to the pillow but I knew when I woke up I would be back to ‘normal’. It’s currently about 7.00pm the next day and although I can now feel everything again and I can pretty much tell what’s real and what’s not, I have awoken with the bell jar surrounding me on all sides once again so I guess it’s back to waiting for mania as I spend my days glued floor. Unfortunately, this all means weed is off the table from now on so who knows how I am going to cope.
Watch this space.