June 29, 2020:

Ann Marlowe says addiction is essentially nostalgia: backward longing for "the irrecoverable glories of the first time".*

Mine was far less romantic. I knew no glories. I just wanted to sleep. And when I had to be awake I wanted to not be in pain.

Without assistance I was sleeping two hours in twenty-four. I'd doze-off at say 11pm, sit bolt upright at 1am, weep till dawn. From grief, from loss, from loneliness, from the despairing conviction that I'd be lonely the rest of my life. From the quiet in the room.

Because I misunderstood my breakdown as grief I misinterpreted the anxiety symptoms and the psychosis symptoms as artifacts of insomnia. Fragmented perception, stop-motion reality which unfolded frame-by-frame: consciousness manically racing. I thought: This is what happens when you're awake for six weeks.

So I self-medicated. It seemed the rational thing to do. I had reliable sources of free drugs I knew would drain the anxiety right out of my body and relax me into a state where I could function, eventually where I could sleep. It had not one thing to do with getting high.

Daytimes I'd snort it to be able to succeed at work. It's a Hollywood myth that people on dope are half-asleep, or in some other way functioning with diminished capacity. In reality mental powers are enhanced, especially concentration. It stilled the crowded chaos of despair in my brain, leaving just one or two voices at a time. Mine, thinking, This is not my life this is not my life this is not my life. Plus the voice of the supervisor handing assignments or the coworker instructing in necessary new skills. Not one person could perceive that I was using.

Nighttimes I'd curl on a settee and shake, chasing the dragon until the tension in my muscles relaxed and the pain seemed to drain down my limbs and out through the soles of my feet. Then I could write, whether prose or poetry or music.

Some of the vignettes I wrote in that period have a dark luminance that still glows for me today as I read them for the first time in years. This is one, or this or this.

Eventually I could sleep. At some point I'd find myself drifting: slipping into a half-dream state where I could still somewhat direct my thoughts, but the semi-conscious imagery took me where it wanted. But I was relaxed, and after a time I'd feel myself slowly falling backward and down, slowly as if the hands of angels cradled and protected me, so that gravity was a friend, and sleep a companion, and the darkness behind my eyelids a comfort not a terror.

* (Ann Marlowe, how to stop time, Anchor Books 1999, p. 9)