Working while the madness allows. On and off. As little as possible, to tell the truth. It’s fuckin killing me. Shattered image of me in desolate dream mirror and somewhere outside me, floating. Holding it together and holding it down, best as I can. Opioid void of nowhere droid.
Tramadol, Morphine, Temgesic relief. Stolen from medicine cupboards and begged off anyone with a bad back, or broken bones. Prescribed for shoulder injury, used for cracked mind. Takes the edge off. Keeps the shadows from closing in. Stops the terrible doom feeling it’s all going to come crashing down around me. Everything I’ve tried hard to create as a better life. An illusion of peace and sanity. All removed by madness. Deleted. Love too? Without the love, I’d disappear. Dissolve into background of blue blur fuzz. Leave only eyeballs floating in air against blue backdrop.
Tramadol, Morphine, Temgesic and piece of hashish, washed down with a shot of rum to melt in me. And I melt into me. Opioid void, or paranoid. What a choice. Can’t go back to brown street smack. Anti-psychotic medication is poison. Grow fat and die from heart disease, while avoiding visions and delusion. And it shuts you down, all the good parts too. No dreams, no sex, no care, no joy, nowhere, nosedive. What a choice.
So I drift crooked between delirium love, lopsided laughter and nowhere despair. And the pills get hold of me, only three days in. I can sweat it out. Not too bad. Not like my old love, my heroin. Always there, watching, waiting. When I stop the pills, I shiver and cough a bit. My legs are irritable and gut cramps up. But I can get through it. It’s not unbearable, like the withdrawal horror of diamorphine morbid more pain than Hell has.
I can escape the fear. I can fuck my way to freedom and dream. I can laugh and love, so it’s not all bad. I work while I can and when I can’t, the world keeps turning and the bills pile up, so I commit crime to take up the slack. And I get by this way and make the most of being functional. Sometimes, I’m so functional, it’s like the me I really am died and left my body on auto-pilot. Robot calm of everyday chore. All the time pressure of bland existence and the next job and the next task. Automaton rational, make sense of nonsense. Until malfunction again.
I always enjoy the onset of a new malfunction. I’m more me than ever. Me bursting out of me. Spilling over the edge. Running all down me, out my eyes, my mouth, my ears, my fingertips, like a raving torrent of unhinged, unafraid me. The colours are brighter, more vivid. Every thing is strangely wonderful. Special effects. My mind is a constant flow of images and ideas. I want to destroy everything for love and lust and creation. It builds like that, until the noise is too much. The images are confusing. My thoughts are so fast, I can’t understand them. Voices and visions capture reality and alter meaning. Glitch. I start to believe. And it all goes wrong.
Invasion of a bathroom cabinet. What goodies in here? Opiate state of soft fuzz fate. Feeling at least a bit better, albeit medicine magic. I take quite a few and I’m almost there.
I have to go to see a specialist. I’ve had ulcers before and the symptoms are back. Can’t eat much. Feel sick. Pain in the stomach. I need to have a camera put down my gullet. My GP sent me to a private clinic through NHS. The consultation room is comfortable. The Doctor is friendly. He looks at my notes.
-It says here, you’re schizophrenic.
-What? Why does it say that?
Anger. Fear. Panic.
-It’s ok, don’t worry. It just means that at some point, you were diagnosed schizophrenic.
Somewhere, deep inside, I remember this, but I hate that word and refuse to accept it. I’ve buried this for a long time. Psychotic episodes sounds better. Episodes. Not long term disintegration of self, resulting in bleak hospital ward stupor. I snatch the paper from his hand and stare at that frightening word.
-Let me see. Why does it say that? I’m not schizophrenic.
-It’s alright. It doesn’t matter. I was just going through your medical record. Calm down. It’s ok.
The doctor looks nervous and I realise I’ve been shouting. I pass him his notes and lean back in the chair.
Drive back home in terror of judgement, gripping the wheel like I might fall out the van if I relax.
I ain’t fuckin schizophrenic.
-I ain’t fuckin schizophrenic, I shout out the open window and some pedestrians look round, surprised. But I remember I am. I get home and look up symptoms on the www. I got them all. Including denial. Ha. The doctor must have thought he had a right one there. Fear bloom, like an explosion. Stress induced madness hits me in uncontrollable bursts of frenzied flapping. Anxiety of no reality. I never want to be like that again. Nowhere freak in a bleak ward, lost. Sitting in a chair, rocking back and forth. Terrible fear of empty room. Everything a possible threat. Haunted. Shadows closing in. It don’t even seem like that was me somehow.
I’m called in for the procedure. He’s very kind. They all are. I ask for a sedative and mention that the last time I’d had this done, they didn’t give me enough diazepam and it was like being tortured.
-Would you be alright with Pethidine?
Something lights up inside.
-Yeah, but whatever dose you work out from my weight, take it to the upper limits.
He smiles and, as the others prepare for the camera invasion, he injects me gently.
I come round in a recovery room.
-Are you alright?
I look around the room. Blurred fuzz, dream picture. A nurse asking me something, as I try to focus.
-Do you need help?
-No, I’m alright.
I get up and nearly fall over. The nurse holds me up.
In the reception, I remember my father is picking me up. I’d been told to arrange a lift before. I stagger to the door, unsteady on my feet and the nurse helps me to the car.
-You want me to take you ‘ome?
-They said I shouldn’t be on me own.
-Oh, fuck sake.
-You’re a pain in the arse int ya?
-I was gonna go down the shed an’ practice me darts.
-I tell ya what, don’t worry. Take me home. Jane ‘ll be back at five or six.
I sit on the sofa nodding out. This is nice. I remember this. Soft focus blue room, emptiness of silent mind. Broken moments of lost time. Opioid void for soul destroyed, uplifted in euphoria morphine haze of blurred fuzz and fear dissolved. Nothing matters.
Rob True was born in London in 1971. He left school with no qualifications, got lost in an abyss and spend a decade on another planet. He returned to earth just in time for the new millennium and married a beautiful, strange girl. She taught him how to use paragraphs and punctuation and his writing has been a bit better ever since. Stories published in Burning House Press, Sick lit Magazine, Open Pen Magazine, The Arsonist Magazine, Low Light Magazine and Occulum Journal.