Tag Archives: smoke

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine…

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rave

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine,

You lips were bitter like a gourd but your kisses left me speechless on countless occasions.  You made my heart beat faster, my eyes widen in awe and my jaws clench in excitement. You made me impulsive, you made me deceptive and you made me provocative.

From the start I could tell you were a sinister man. You would always show up to the party early, manipulating yourself through the crowd, never passing me up to say hello. The first night we met, you introduced me to one of your friends. You pressured me to stay the night with him and even though I really didn’t want to, you convinced me that I should. You were so pleased when you saw us together, you seemed proud of your work—a brilliant self-proclaimed matchmaker but you would never admit it. You would joke how it was inevitable and claim that it wasn’t your doing. I knew that it was but I still tried to shove down my immediate feelings of regret to embrace my new life of love and drugs. I reluctantly welcomed your charm whenever I saw you, forcing a smile and saving you a dance. We eventually got closer as my ignorance dissolved any apprehensions.

I was still with your friend after sometime but that didn’t stop you from expressing your fondness of me. I even think that he noticed you making moves but decided not to do anything or even care. It’s like he didn’t mind sharing me with the man who arranged a young, pretty, foreign girl to play house with him. I tried to look past this, accepting the reputation I had built for myself: American slut. I took a week off to travel and escape you both. After several days I became bored so you came out to visit me without my lovers knowledge.

We spent some time with other travelers on the vast onyx beach one night and one thing led to another. Before I knew it, I had just cheated on the man I had been living with for a month with two people (not including you). While I should have been ashamed of myself, instead I felt exhilarated. I had a sense of pride for my promiscuity. You encouraged me to stay with you again and I told you that, “if it will be, then it will be.” And so it was. For days I kept my mouth sealed as we snuck around together every chance we got. Together, we stayed up for days, starved and drove ourselves mad.

Eventually I had to go back to the home. You told me you would come to see me and you did. We acted out the same scene we left on that dark night on the beach. Only now we were surrounded by ravers in a massive stadium covered in flashing lights and melting colours. We walked through the crowd together and danced around the beautiful people. When we sat down you welcomed a stranger by my side and told him to kiss me behind my ear. You lead his hand up my thigh and lay me on the grass surrounded by hundreds of on-lookers. You had done it again. You had me put out again.

Your presence slackened my body and made my mind weak, I lost sight of right and wrong. My moral standards were clouded by the sudden urge to lose complete control. You’re malicious and manipulative— you’re the definition of a psychopath. Don’t you see how sick it is to find such pleasure from someone in such a state of senselessness and vulnerability?

I don’t have any regrets for what I’ve done. I know that it was all because of your influence. I would never repeat what I have done with you but I am not ashamed of it anymore. I know that if we ever saw each other again, you’d try and bring me down to that level of pure, passionate idiocy and I dare you to try because this time it’s different. I have respect for myself now and I know that I deserve so much better. I deserve real love. Not these temporary fixes that were set up on a high.

I won’t miss you.

Goodbye M.D.M.A.

No regrets,

Robyn

 

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Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide…

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Acid

Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,

I sit here in the shadow of the night, watching the darkness play tricks on my eyes and it reminds me of you. Only you never played it off as a joke. It’s as if you enjoyed watching me grow increasingly more puzzled, dazed, and confused with every embrace. The world around me became blurred as you dizzied me with admiration. Everything I saw, everything I heard, and everything I felt transformed into a sensation of profound heightened clarity. I had never felt this way before. I was amused by your presence but I was not convinced that all this newfound beauty was the influence of only your love. I know you must have had some resentments towards me because I spoke so poorly of you, telling everyone that you were worthless and useless. But that only lead you to pursue me even harder, as if you had something to prove. You tried and tried, again and again but I insisted that you were never enough for me. You began to taunt me, somehow persuading me to try my luck with you. And I did— admittedly, so willingly. After a week of timid romance, I finally surrendered all self-respect as I gave myself to you completely. I will never forget that night and when you defiled my soul. I was already so weak, growing increasingly more dependent and entirely delusional about you. I would wonder when I would see you again and fantasize about what we would do. I wanted to feel your embrace and push the limits of our love. I wanted to see more than just the earth dance. I wanted to feel more than just the vibrations of every sound. I wanted to understand more than just the ease of every silence. I wanted to trip out… bad.

The miraculous thing is that I was already tripped out but I hadn’t fully realized it. I had tripped out after meeting you on the first night. You managed to steal more of of my time and I was curious to get to know you, only feeling disappointed by the end of the night— unaware of what you had done to me. That disappointment was irrational, I had made the mistake of unknowingly falling for you. You had me under your spell. I only just figured that out. For weeks I had tried to get a perfect trip, thinking all along that I had never actually had one (as though everything I experienced was real). I had left the confines of reality and I didn’t even think of looking back. I was losing it and eventually I lost it.

For days I was coming down from your high only to have you swing me up again in your charm as I would ignorantly insist that “we weren’t working.” You were so adamant to convince me and I was so naive to taunt you like I did. I had no idea what you were doing and what you were capable of. If I would’ve known that your seduction would have destroyed my mind for years to come, I would’ve never provoked it.

But thats a lie… I still would have made love to you.

And that’s why I am writing:

I never had the chance to tell you the truth: I am an addict. I was before I ever met you but I didn’t want you to know. I had already been with countless of other drugs but I never thought you would all be the same. Its true though, your all just as cunning, untrustworthy and frightening. You were the most devious of them all. The way you manipulated me is unparalleled and I will never forgive you for that. Even after months of our separation you were still harassing me. Using men to lure me back to you. Hypnotizing me with ideas of false admiration and recreational sex. Luckily, I didn’t fall for it so easily that time. Sure, I spoke of surrender but I never sought out any action.

I had a feeling you would come back for me and I know we might run into each other in the future. Thats why I want you to know that as much as I hate leaving you on a sour note, its for the better. We would never work. We would always be at each others throat. You would never be enough for me and I could never make you happy without going mad. I mean, I am still picking up the pieces from my last high… I thought torrent of insanity I experienced for months after we had last met would never end. While I eventually managed to collect my mind and find a sense of stability, I still experience some side-effects of our heated past. You are still with me in my mind. From time to time I see these vivid colours and flashing lights and I know that that’s remnants of your binding spell. I can’t believe that you have threatened me with these flashbacks, saying that I will have them for years to come. You blame it all on the length and progression of our relationship at the time, telling me that it was all my fault; “if you hadn’t doubted me, if you hadn’t belittled me…” All I can say is that I am sorry. It was I who instigated the relationship. My curiosity was convincing and my ego was big. I went in with greedy intentions but after all you have put me through, I think its safe to say that we are even now. You have hurt me enough, striping me of sanity and making me feel so helpless and vulnerable. You can chose show me mercy or remain cold and bitter. But I know that you have a heart somewhere to forgive me and I look forward to the day when you finally release me from your grip. For now, I wish you nothing but peace and solitude.

 

Goodbye L.S.D.

Your old valentine,

Robyn

Take Twelve

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This is about the time we begin to ask if she is still alive…

And she is!

And now we ask if she is still sober..

She is!

But is she still sane?

It appears so…

What a happy day! She spent three hours in total driving to and from the unbearably busy mall to get her computer fixed and while it does turn on, there are fuzzy technicoloured lines that remind her of tripping… no matter.

She has spent the past few weeks unpacking, painting and decorating her rooms in her new house. Her mom was kind enough to give her two little rooms to use as a massage room and a bedroom. She’s had fun placing all her nick-hacks and art work on her walls. But thats boring stuff! We don’t care about the day to day, we are curious about her head.

Smoking

She woke up— everyday seemed to be the same. Time was dragging on. It seemed like it was taking forever to get things done. Would she ever find a sense of normalcy again? She felt guilty for not going to the gym, for eating poorly and waking up only minutes from noon. She grabbed a bottle of water and went out on the back porch and find her mom rocking in a wicker chair with a cigarette hanging from her mouth. She sat down next to her and lit one up for herself.

“It’s like we’re here decorating someone else’s house and we’re going to go home when its all over,” her mom spoke softly.

“Yeah.”

“Theres just so much to do. The trip down here was so hard. So stressful. Everything is… so stressful.” A tear fell down her face.

“I know. Its a lot. I’m struggling too. I’ve tried not to let it out.” Her mom looked up at her as she said this, cocking her head to side suggesting to tell her more. “Its unpacking all my things… It all comes rushing back. I left it all behind when I came down here earlier to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. Living out of a bag for a month, it was like an escape.. But now its all back. Every little thing reminds me where I’ve been. What I’ve done. How I’ve hurt everyone…” She hesitated and continued, “I found a letter that Daddy wrote to me and hid in one of my travel documents before I left for India. He had so much faith… but so much fear. I could tell. It broke my heart.” She burst into tears. Together they sat crying.

“You know we love you. No matter what, we will always be here for you.”

Her throat knots as she writes this and recollects this moment of weakness. It’s always in the back of her mind but every second of every day she pushes it out. She has learnt to recognize when she is about to slip and quickly resists those feelings. She doesn’t want to break down. She does’t want to fall into depression and get lost in the past. But she remembers it all. The letters she opened on the plane to France from her parents, her sister. They left so much love in those few pages. So much hope for her future. She let them all down.koorg

She ventured into the depths of the messages that were sent from her parents while she was in India.

Tears are rolling down her face now. She could tell when she was going crazier and crazier. She can see the dates. The times. Those words. Those lies.

I have been catching up with time, got lost in koorg for those few days hanging out with my friend pooja —3/22, 10:52am (11:22pm India-time)

‘Getting lost in Koorg.’ Koorg was where it began. The unraveling of her mind. She remembers the trip that set it off. Physical and mental.

Right now its too hard to write about. Maybe later, she thinks as she tries to shove it off. She’ll probably post it, password protected, on her blog soon. Stay tunes I guess. 

 

Take Eleven: The 90th Day

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(A recollection of my last relapse)

This is the perfect time, she thought. The party her parents had thrown was winding down and there was only one guest left standing. Her dad was drunk, that was obvious. Her step-mom might have been a little tipsy…
Its been hard for her to find the perfect moments to steal booze from their butlers pantry for a while. Every time she took some, she took it from another bottle, switching off, hoping no one would notice. Sure enough, no one did. But this time she could get away with not only enough for tonight, but enough for the nights to follow. She took her first chance to grab the largest coffee mug and fill it to the brim with vodka. She made her way upstairs unnoticed. She rolled her eyes when she saw the new meds she had got prescribed earlier sitting on her dresser. She picked up the sample packet and read: “Do not consume with alcohol. May cause dizziness and poor concentration.” That doesn’t sound so bad. So she popped the pill in her mouth and held the mug to her lips. It went down her throat, burning, as she gulped down what she assumed was about 4 shots.
She made her way downstairs, making pleasant conversation, laughing, joking and flaunting her best wit. Then she dismissed herself to her room where she lay on her bed typing away.
It was well into the night and as she was journalling about her latest relapse. She cocked her head up and thought, if I’m going to relapse, I want to relapse on something hard. Something worth relapsing over. She got up, stumbling and made her way down the hall, tip-toeing and jumping from carpet to carpet. When she reached her parents room, she glanced in cautiously and then took a bolt to the medicine cabinet. She reach in pulling out an old dusty green basket. She slid each prescription up and read the fine print. Blah blah-pin, blah blah-izon, Vicodin! She opened it and examined one of the oval pills. Classic, she thought, I replaced these all with generic Aspirin… She shoved the bottle back in with the rest. But then, there it was; Tylonal 3’s with Codine. Codine, Codine, I know about Codine… She took the bottle and placed the basket carefully back on the shelf.
With the bottle on her desk, she lay her head on her folded arms, gazing dreamily at the pills. She smiled and knocked down every last one. She knew they were old, so they probably weren’t very strong and she knew she had a tolerance for opiates at this point.
The night went fast as she sat there embracing the tingling in her body. Her parents had gone to bed and after a few hours, all her symptoms had run out. She was bored. Not tired. Her mouth was dry. What now? She searched her own medicine cabinet and found a box of Benedryl and an unopened bottle. She never thought it would resort to this but she was desperate for a high. Her friend had told her about how hard he tripped once and she was intrigued. She had tried it once but it only knocked her out. She figured she didn’t take enough that time. So she quietly ripped of the aluminum seals and collected the pink pills in a pile on her bed. 20 pills. She went and got some water, forgetting about the alcohol sitting on her nightstand and swallowed them all at once. She wrote again:

20131203-174703.jpgEntry 17: August 25th, 4:45am

I feel it kicking in. First noises, are they real? Now flickering lights. O wee, I’m in for a trip! I took a shower and brushed my teeth. Put on some fresh clothes. Now i lie in bed waiting for the right moment to get up. Maybe daylight. Im kinda scared! Paranoid… Noises all over :S no one is up im sure. Ill type again if it becomes foo much. Ill pay attention to the time. It took about 50 min to feel this little feeling. Im parched and my lips are dry. We will see, we will see.

 

7am. So i saw my sheets fiddle about. Left for a bike ride. Everything spinning, beautifulllll, strrangegege. Things take form, illuminatingggg and all appears as something its not… It paints my reality in a stop-motion patterns >><<<>>>. Im so thirsty! Some nausea, shaking, memory loss. Zoning out….

20131203-174710.jpgThat all she has left of that day. That day she now sees as the one that changed her life. The day when she decided to give it all up and really try to get clean. She remembers lying in bed for another hour, her blood vessels in her legs were dancing, she thought they were going to shoot out through her skin. She got up and looked in the mirror. Her eyes were dilated so big she could only see a sliver of her iris’ blue outline. She looked closer at herself, her skin had dots all over it, was it peeling? She reached up and scratched it.. It was falling off! Her jaw dropped, her tongue huge with large pimples glowing. Her teeth looked yellow and decayed. Then, there was someone behind her. Her heart jumped as she spun herself around quickly… No one was there. She began to cry. Now the feeling that was in her legs was all over her body. Her blood wanted out. She was so afraid. She ran to her phone and called her mom as quickly as possible. Delirious, she sobbed quietly, begging her to not get mad. Begging her to listen and too please, please not get mad. She explained to her what she had done. She asked her to drive her to the hospital. Her blood was going to explode, she just knew it. Her mom hung up; shocked, pissed, but on her way. The girl ran to her parents bedroom. “Guys, guys, wake up. moms coming to get me—don’t get mad— I was stupid, Im so stupid. I took a bunch of pills. Moms coming to get me…” They were frazzled, sitting up in their bed blinking up at her. What? What was going on? “Okay honey…” was all her step-mom could think of.
She ran down the stairs and lazily fell into her moms car. They were silent. When she walked into the hospital they placed her on a bed in a room with no windows, chairs, nothing. Her mom sat there in silence. The doctors came in and out asking if she was suicidal. She promised she wasn’t, “I just wanted to get high.” After her mom had a long talk with one of the doctors she signed some papers and two buff looking women stepped in. They brought a gurney to the left side of the bed where she was resting and picked her up. Her mom came to her side and explained to her what was going to happen, “There taking you to a psych ward.”

 

Take Ten

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What if she woke up one morning and actually listened to that little voice inside her head? The one that tells her go outside and practice yoga, to read instead of waste time online, to eat smaller portions, to go to the gym, to paint, to journal, to pray, to live? Sometimes she’ll just lay there, listening to the voice as it goes on and on. Later, she says. She begins to make excuses.

She’s been in Florida about a month now. Doing not much else but sleeping, eating, driving from doctor to doctor and playing the day by ear. Some days are good; she reads, she writes, she works out a couple hours and makes it to a meeting. But now, ever sense she broke down at the gym a week back, she hasn’t visited since. It was terribly embarrassing. One second she was doing crunches and the next she is balling into tears. Likely PTSD caused.. She sees her time now here as doomed. When she thought all insanity was forgotten, she was suddenly hit by an episode of uncontrollable guilt and remorse. If she would’ve known that the music of Indian trance would set her off in a crying fit of hysterics, she may have not played it in the first place. Then again, there was that voice, in the back of her mind, that did warn her. She’s been ignoring that voice ever since. “Why ignore the voice that tried to help you?” the voice says. She doesn’t reply.. “Your in denial.”

Maybe she is in denial. Its been harder and harder to be the girl she was before her world came tumbling down but she thought this fresh start could really help her.  She thought she could spend this time to search for that girl she thought she was. It has been meaningful, there is no denying that. She’s written countless journals, poems, and spoken to many friends to find some reminisces of serenity. She sees the clouded skies and rainy days as an excuse to stay in. An excuse to withdraw from the world. Now she just waits for Sunday. The day she suspects her mom will arrive with all the furniture they packed. Then she will be busied with moving in, finding a new healthcare plan, applying to college and getting a part-time job.

Yet today is only Thursday. She still has time. She still has seven more days to finish her ’90 in 90’ and one more day until she’s been clean for 90 days. That’s all good. That’s something to be proud of. For the meantime though, she should listen to that voice.

Today she woke up early, watched the sunrise and had a lunch wrap. She sits here writing this thinking about how the rest of her day might pan out. Her grandma wants to get her nails done, thats something. She has to blog, thats obvious. If the sun comes out she could go to the gym, maybe read/bike for an hour then do the usual drill. She hopes she won’t run into that guy she went on a date with. That was a bad idea. He claimed she was looking at him and he caught her doing so several times. The only thing is, she could’ve sworn she’d never seen him before. They had nothing in common but they still talked for hours. More like he talked for hours… She knows all but his last name. He loves to workout (used to be fat) has a kid but has been separated from the baby-mama for a few months. He was wearing camo shorts and a tee shirt— so not her type. He had a messy apartment and ADHD.. just boring southern fellow really. Not an ounce of creativity and not an ounce of wisdom, from what she gathered. She ignored most of his texts trying to give him a hint, it worked eventually. She has to admit that it was nice to finally talk to a local enough to share even a glimpse of her story. But that glimpse, while it may be interesting, is very strange. She has decided to remain a mystery to anyone else she meets. They don’t need to know her past, she’s not there anymore…

Where she is now is a place of comfort. A place that doesn’t remind her of her past. Well, not the one she is ashamed of. She recalls the first time she snorted cocaine in her house. It was all fine until she took it a little too far. She snorted a little too much. Just after dinner, just before bed, she was ready to feel that surge of energy. She wanting to make art—she hadn’t in so long. That night she did stay up but instead of drawing she worked on making a schedule for work and homework and other meaningless stuff. She doesn’t quite remember. What she does remember was the look on her face when she looked in the mirror and saw the whites of her eyes gradually being sunken in red blood. She opened her laptop, searching for an answer on the web, she found that her blood vessels had popped due to the pressure of her amateur inhale. She freaked out but by the time morning came her shift was about to start— she took another line. When she came home her eyes were completely red, nothing but her blue iris’ left, bright with the contrast.

Blue Eye Blood Vessels PoppedShe looked like a vampire.

She made up some story about sneezing in the night after eating too much cayenne pepper (which, according to online sources, stimulates blood cells). People just shrugged it off.

She had to deal with that embarrassment for a week before she quit her job at the local coffee shop and began her new one at Starbucks. What a great first impression… From then on she was afraid to to take another hit. So she developed a new way to get her high. This way was a much lighter way, a more hidden way. She would ration out enough powder for a day in a small baggie. Stealing her moms cigarettes (for first few times), she would lick the edges, roll them in cocaine and light up when she could get away from work or school. She would smoke on her breaks occasionally, before she went to the gym, on her way to school, and before she went back home. She’d stay up late into the night and crash in the afternoon. It worked for her. She got a lot done.

She was very meticulous about how much she used a week, knowing she had a limited supply, she would never waste any on a lazy weekend. She was pleased with this drug, it was nothing like the opiates she had used in High School. The rush, the fire, it’d burn inside her but she was able to still be in control. It kept her out of the dumps. It actually brought her quickly into mania. She was shopping like crazy and inhumanly productive. She began to stop eating and people would praise her for her good looks. She’d smile and offer some grandiose advise; lying through her teeth about how it all had to do with her vegan diet and exercise. It wasn’t until she began to run out that things started to fall apart. She had tried cutting it down little by little but she couldn’t stop herself from using more and more. Until one day, poof, it was gone. She went into work a complete disaster. She was unbelievably tired, completely depressed and horrendously lost. Her mind was going a mile a minute, wondering how on Earth she would find her next fix. She thought about everything; asking strangers, going to a strip club, prostituting, ect. She knew she couldn’t do any of that, at least in that moment, all she wanted to do was fight. She was hanging onto the moments before she started using. They were never as great as when she was but they were livable.

Eventually people were starting to notice. At school she would shy away, this time not with her head in her books or hovering over her laptop; she was sleeping. She would drag her feet on the floor and plop down in the hallways, sometimes dozing off so long she would miss class. She hid herself in her room during these dark times. Her insides crumbled as she woke in the morning to another cold autumn day. Going to work became a pain, customers would ask her what was wrong. When she was behind the counter she just shrugged them off. Until one day when she was sweeping the cafe and taking out the garbage, one of the regulars threw the question at her one more time. She looked up, tears began to fill her eyes. In a low voice she let it all out. She didn’t know where it was coming from or how she was able to trust this guy (maybe it was because he looked a bit like a druggy, perhaps more likely a dealer given his oddly formal yet rugged attire). As he stirred the sugar in his coffee, she looked up at him to say something, anything. He paused returning the glance and said, “I’ll be right back.” He left his coffee cup steaming as he took large steps out into the parking lot. The next thing she knew he came back with a bottle of pills.

“It’s Adderall,” he said. “I’m prescribed but I don’t really use them, I use other stuff. Try it, it’ll help you come down. You look too young, you can’t get into that stuff.”

Adderall 20mgWas this guy serious? She felt a little piece of him was looking out for her. She didn’t bother wondering what that ‘other’ things was, she was just pleased to have a solution. After cautiously taking the bottle she whispered, “But I don’t have any money on me now and I just can’t pay for something like this.” The truth was that she had spent all her money on clothes but she desperately needed this.

“Don’t worry, consider it a gift, its cheap…ish. Just throw in a free biscotti for me when I come in.” She smiled, he winked and shouted “take care,” as he exited the shop.

She ran into the bathroom and immediately downed two pills of 20mg. Having no idea if that was enough, she raced into the back storage room and threw the bottle in her bag. Within 30min she began to feel it. Her teeth clenched, she couldn’t stop moving—she was back.

 Chicago at Night

Reminiscing of the days before her rock bottom are very strange. Its almost as if she wasn’t there. Like it was a different person and she is watching it all play out from afar. It’s a movie of some girl she used to know but hasn’t talked to in a long time. She left her at home. She didn’t even say goodbye.

Mayan Calender She also never said goodbye to the city. Sometimes she wonders if she should have wandered the streets of Chicago once more before she took off for Florida. The last time she went she was in psychosis: She walked for hours in flash delirium as pictures of the the people bounced off the reflection of the nameless buildings, staring them down believing fully that she could feel their energy and read their minds. The concrete was hard against her feet as she pounded her way through the crowd as though she had a purpose. And when she reached the river she stopped and caught her breath. It was so surreal. Everything had changed. Well, not the city— she had changed. Symbols and sounds were mocking her now. Her thoughts spun an intricate web of destruction, telling her she was the saviour. A Mayan princess. The last one standing. The only one who knows
the secrets of the elements and the power of air.

 

Now she closes her eyes and imagines she’s there again. She imagines how she would’ve felt if she had gone; she’d probably have been overwhelmed, sick to her stomach, her mind would’ve gone crazy with flashbacks of not only her life pre-India but of all the delusions she had post-India— she’d probably break down and cry.

She was grateful she was no longer in that stuffy suburb, just a train ride away from those memories. She had soiled everything by walking around for miles thinking too much, pushing her mind through the endless brinks of insanity. When she was home she was trapped by those thoughts. Everything reminded her of everything she was trying so hard to escape. The only reason she agreed to go to the psych ward in the first place was because she knew she had to get away. That month that was spent jumping from one facility to the next kept her mind from unfolding. It was all almost heaven-sent. But when she returned it was waiting for her. She can see herself crying and crying throughout the day, just wanting out of her head. Questioning why she couldn’t just be someone else, if only for a day. Death looked inviting. But death was not the answer.

She was lucky to have a family that loved her. She was lucky to be so young. She had another chance at life. She had wasted too much time drowning in her sorrow, disappointing herself, disappointing everyone. She was ready for a change. She wanted to change. Now this is the only thing she has left. This journal keeps her going. Her words like vomit; cleansing her spirit, detoxing her soul. She imagines a day when she will run out of things to say. Right now that seems impossible, but maybe someday. Maybe someday she will look back on all her journals (private and public), all her poems, all her letters and nicknacks she collected on her crazy journey through the wormhole and out. She will spend time reading for hours, laughing at her past. And thats all it will mean to her, nothing but the past. She won’t dwell on it, she won’t worry about it, she won’t find herself in the depths of despair. Instead, she may take it, throw it in a box and hide it away. Or maybe she’ll show it, share it with people who have gone through similar things. Consoling them, giving them strength and courage, letting them know that there’s hope. Letting them know that someday, they too can come down from their cloud. They can still follow their dreams. They can overcome their mind. After all, our minds are a powerful thing… And no one knows that better than someone whose experienced insanity.

Why We Smoke SO Much!

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” When I first started smoking, I thought I was cool. Then I stopped. When I picked up smoking several years later, it was a way to get high. Then I stopped.  It wasn’t until I found myself in recovery that I really started smoking like a chimney. My parents were concerned and frankly annoyed my this new habit. There was a sense of relief  however, when they discovered in their NAMI class (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that this was commonly seen in people who have mental disorders and addiction. So I went on their website and found the article that explains it all! So if your a smoker, you may relate to this bit of text! It does focus on mental illness but a lot of the information can be useful to all.” -Peace, Robyn

Smoking and Mental Illness

People living with mental illness have a very high rate of smoking. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 44.3 percent of all cigarettes in America are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. This means that people living with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons.

A positive note is that people who live with mental illness had substantial quit-rates, which were almost as high as the group without mental illness. NAMI has led many changes in our mental health system─getting access to the tools to quit smoking is a way to improve the quality and quantity of life. Improving lives is a new advocacy pursuit.

The Connection between Mental Illness and Smoking

There is no one single, certain reason why so many people who live with mental illness smoke. It may be a combination of brain effects, psychological effects and the social world in which we live.

From a brain-based perspective, research is being done to determine if and how nicotine is involved in some of the brain’s memory functions. If nicotine is a factor, then this could explain why so many people living with an illness like schizophrenia or other illness involving cognitive deficits may smoke. Even though smoking is thought to enhance concentration and cognition, the effects are short in duration.

Researchers and the medical community have a great deal to learn about how smoking impacts the brains of those living with mental illness. It is known that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often smoke before the onset of symptoms and that they smoke more often and inhale more deeply than smokers without schizophrenia.

While we still have a lot to learn about why people smoke, there is plenty of information to support the serious health risks of smoking. So while there may be good reasons why you were attracted to smoking, the key is to figure out ways to increase rates of quitting. Nicotine isn’t a health problem on its own, but when smoked and combined with hundreds of other chemicals that are present in cigarettes the practice of smoking is toxic.

Psychologically, all addictions soothe cravings. People often find themselves relaxed and less tense when their addiction is fed. This is true of cigarette smoking. Smoking can also be part of a social norm, one where people in your social circle all hang out and smoke. Some people who live with mental illness learned to smoke in a hospital or in group-living settings. These examples help illustrate how the mental health culture needs to move forward to reduce the tie between socialization and smoking.

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Facts About Smoking

People die from smoking-related illnesses. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and diminishes your overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer-related death.

Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke and lung disease. With the increased risk of heart disease from second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs), individuals living with mental illness must try to quit.

Inhaled cigarette smoke is made up of 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, benzene, ammonia and carbon monoxide to name a few. There is no safe tobacco product, so switching to a smokeless or chew product will not eliminate your risk of smoking-related diseases.

People are finally waking up to the fact that smoking is a true health hazard, and people need to quit in order to live longer. More psychiatric facilities are going smoke-free, and NAMI is advocating for access to smoking cessation in outpatient settings.

State mental health commissioners and state medical directors are committed to changing the way the public mental health culture relates to smoking. Check out their toolkit (http://www.nasmhpd.org/general_files/publications/NASMHPD.toolkitfinalupdated90707.pdf) to see what policy changes and strategies they are using to create a healthier mental health system environment.

Smoking’s Effects on Symptoms and Medications

Research shows that people living with mental illness do not have worse symptoms after they quit. It is understandable that this is a concern with quitting smoking. Quitting is hard work, and it may take many efforts to be successful. Be sure to get support, talk with your doctor, set a quit date and explore the tools for success (Link to tools for success section) that are available to help you quit.

If you are a smoker and you quit, you can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications. Smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in your body, so smokers need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke. Without cigarettes you may need to take less medication. An additional benefit is that a dose reduction will likely reduce side effects of medicines, such as weight gain and other side effects.