WATCHING DETOX AND RECOVERY AS THE EGO BABY SCREAMS AND SCREAMS
It begins easy: the detoxification. Detox. The time was right. The environment was ready. My cousin had taken his last drop of fentanyl sublingually on May 31st, 2016. The last ‘tickle’ of heroin had been given its swansong a month prior.
I provided a safe venue and a round-the-clock support for this unpredictable process in the hope this would do what could be done to make the process a success.
I’ve put together fragments some short, some longer, in a general narrative - if only for our private consideration. My role in this detox and recovery was little more than a generally helpful observer, truth be told, but I think this can be important when someone is going through the awful experience. Paying the piper a long overdue price.
-YMS / London / JULY 2016
NOTE: This is a stub. More will be added as I wrest more content from the moody originator!
INSIDE THE MIND OF DETOXIFICATION
There's no need to spend a couple of days battered between uncontrollable vomitting, diarrhetic surprise visitations, joints in electric shock and a rollercoaster of boiling hot and inescapable cold, sweating and snotting and wailing an inevitably self pitying, often despairing protest. "Make it stop!" you may cry, real tears mingling with the streaming mucus. This is not necessary.
The first few days are the physical withdrawal symptoms playing out the cold turkey battlefield of sense and body panicstate. Benzodiazapines and clonidine are a godsend. Hardcore anti-psychotics can help too. With enough clonazepam and clonidine in the system, the symptoms and indeed conscious thought gets shut down into fake stupor (at best) or dark waking dreamstate where detachment from one's own suffering body makes the detox bearable; and quickly forgettable.
There's little to say about this part the much caricatured, exaggerated and tyrannical 'cold turkey' as opiates are expunged and the body and brain are partners in trauma, masked by the medication, 48 to 72 hours to become physically clean and no longer dependent on three heroin shots a day.
So far so easy. There may even be a day or two immediately after detox where the brain remains in shock at the revelation of a world without the drugs, it holds onto some expectation sobriety is going to end and this expectation creates a deadspace that engenders an emotionless, disbelieving connection with things external. Reality is like a movie, one's own body an unfeeling contrivance without appetite yet alive and carrying a foetal version of who you are.
This foetus must reach out, in the mind, then by extension in the world. It is fundamental to being human. But for a day or two, the foetal self might remain insouciant and furled. It might even seem like the hard part is over...
Then the real fight for recovery begins.
The damage to the brain has a legacy far more profound and frightening than mere days of grotesque physical expunge and protest. After all, if you need to vomit, you puke and it provides occupation if not a moment's relief. Physical symptoms are cause and effect and reaction, to mitigate. But the mind? Therein madness and maddening confinement: the fragmentation of your one and only personality, separation of the trinity of the self (superego, ego and id), emotionless isolation as the perfectly comfortable placenta of the opiate womb is drained suddenly by detoxification and what's left behind is nothing tangible yet it is you: all that you are...
There is just one scene playing in your mind: you, pure ego and nothing more, suspended in a seemingly infinite space. All sense of superego (the world and everyone in it) and id (emotion, volition, love, warmth, joy, vitality, libido) has been separated from you and remains impossibly out of reach, out of sight. From a thousand directions spotlight beams corruscate the infinite space, all pointed at the you, unable to move away, writhing suspended: an adult head and a naked rash covered baby’s body. Crawling vying with miasma across the undermost layer of skin unreachable sudden illumination, every angle imaginable exposed by light that burns a remorseless interrogation like an automaton sadist. There is no escape because this is inside your own mind and it is a manifestation of consequences: warped brain chemistry where only personality and intellect and consciousness must face the emptiness without feelings or communion with any other soul. You are doomed to a blind wakefulness, stripped bare in the harshlight and commentating every excruciating second.
And the ego screams in this terrible prison, knowing there is no escape, knowing there is no solution except to endure the torture.
The joints are arthritic, the muscles flaccid, the skin crawls to every touch yet it is impossible not to touch something! No position is comfortable, no succour can be gained because it is the very mind, the core of your once inviolate being, turned against itself. No patience helps. No meditation or self-therapy avails. This is reality and the bloated indulgence must pay for what was done. It is a hell whose penal term is of unknown length and of course the thought it may be permanent, that this time the mind may be broken permanently, adds panic to the screaming impotent ego-baby. There isn't even anyone to blame, or anyone to help. Sympathy is irrelevant.
All eyes are inward and the loveless, joyless, desolate "I am" writhes pathetic and hunted by a brain chemistry warped and trying to right itself; the organ that is our everything spinning in emergency mode and you have no choice but to be you, all wounds internal, all of them open, exposed, biting and without respite.