The Octopus Hamstring Presents Ask Apathy vol. 1: The Road to Ridding Life of Chemical Dependency
I had an idea about a week ago.
Good ideas in my battle-torn brain are few and far between.
Recently I’ve been thinking that I should be posting more “important”, or “socially relevant” content for you. The internet already reached critical mass for “Whiny Ex-Punker/Know-It-All/Left-Leaning/Wannabe-Sportwwriters”, and my articles lately seem to be music recommendations and baseball predictions exclusively (phenomenally written as they are). But even as entertaining as you find them, and as lucky as you are to read them, the Hamstring’s been lacking substance and I plan to do something about it.
Here’s an obscure, but relevant fact about Charles Darwin: Before his groundbreaking “The Origin of the Species”, he was a regular contributor to a popular blog in those days called whatsthatnegrodoingwithmysister.com.
It wasn’t until he stopped writing interchangeable dreck and started getting serious, that he made a real name for himself…made a difference if you will.
The Octopus Hamstring wants to make a difference.
Mike Apathy wants to make a difference.
Even Tyler, whose new nickname should be “Haley’s Comet”, wants to make a difference (get it? Haley’s Comet? Only comes around every 75 years? He hasn’t written a post in 75 years, get it?) Speak of the devil! Look…right underneath this paragraph…Haley’s Comet!
Anyway, whether you see this post as “Giving Back” or not, tough shit because I’m having a bad month and money’s tight. This is all I can afford, this will be all you’re getting. Now go clean your room before you go out to the well and get water for your bath. For now, you’re gonna have to settle for The Octopus Hamstring’s new semi-regular series, “Ask Apathy.”
I’d like to preface this article by saying your Uncle Mike knows a thing or two about chemical dependency. Even the most casual Hamstring reader could deduce that much. Also…nobody really asked me, but I’m calling this new segment Ask Apathy anyway…it has a certain ring to it. The purpose for my writing this article, besides catharsis, is to try to make a connection. Lets get something clear right from the start: I am not glorifying drug use in any way, shape or form, know that much. Also, I am in no way condemning anyone who does use amd can still keep their lives from falling apart. Simply put, some people can handle their shit and balance it within the framework of their lives. Those of you who fit that mold, my hat is off to you. You’re truly a rare breed and should be studied in a lab. And lastly, those of you who do use and can’t handle your shit? Say hi to Carlos over off of 17th and Broadway, behind the gas station for me. His rocks are the bomb.
The following is a time line of Mike Apathy’s progression into addiction (to the best of his memory…why am I speaking in the 3rd person?).
• Loved the taste of beer at a young age and would sneak them out of my grandma’s fridge when I could get away with it, this didn’t happen but a few times
• Started stealing cigarettes from friends’ parents’ packs to go with the stolen beers
• Smoking cigarettes daily, at 15, started binge drinking on the weekends
• Every-other-day-or-so pot smoking
• Drinking more often, multiple times weekly
• Still smoked pot just as often, but was starting to get bored with it….
• Discovered and enjoyed methamphetamines, psychedelics and prescription pills
• Heavy drinking daily
• Stopped smoking pot
• Began using cocaine and eating the occasional Vicodin on the weekends
• First experiences with heroin and crack (luckily these never caught on)
• Discovered, fell in love with and started dealing Ecstasy (this coincided with my still-running obsession with Drum ‘n Bass)
• Dealing cocaine and using it regularly (should’ve listened to more Biggie Smalls)
• Still drinking heavily
• Using LSD and Mushrooms on special occasions
• Full-blown alcoholic
• Regular, multiple times per-week cocaine user
• Huge drop-off in Ecstasy consumption (only because it became impossible to find during this time)
• Stopped dealing drugs completely
• In 2006, faked a neck injury so I could get Vicodin, legitimately* (this, as it would turn out, was when the road split into two paths and I without realizing it, took the bad one)
*This was when things began to get really dark
• I graduated from Vicodin to Norco; Percocet and Oxycontin was waiting right around the corner
• The age when I first entertained the notion that I miiiiiiiight have a small problem
• Naaaahhhhhhh…Junkies and drunks went to meetings, not me
• By this time I had admitted to myself that I had somehow developed a crippling dependence on opiates
• Went to first of many (to come) outpatient rehab meetings in September of 2009, which I went to mainly to keep the future CDO off my back
• Not willing to make a commitment to sobriety and quickly began drinking and using again, possibly more heavily than before
Jan 2010 thru June 2010, age 31:
• Morning routine consisted of not being able to sleep and waking up early on weekdays around 6:00am with a pounding headache and tremors
• Most mornings suffering from massive diarrhea and dry-heaving (quietly as possible as not to wake the future-CDO whom I had started cohabitation with).
• After shower, swallow a handful of Norco’s or Perc’s and wash them down with 1, 2 or 3, just to feel normal
- 3 chugged beers
- Jack straight from the bottle
- Vodka mixed with Monster Energy Drink, but still in the can so it could be taken in the car and/or to the office
• Continuous drinking throughout the day while also swallowing Norco/Perc’s or snorting Oxycontin multiple times daily, as needed (the snorting didn’t take place toooooooo often)
July 2010 thru June 2011, age 31:
• Took 3 weeks from work and checked into a rehab program with the support of friends, family and my boss
• 2 and a half months of clean time before 1st relapse
• The beginning of an off-and-on sobriety routine thru April ’11 until faced with impending divorce, the real possibility of losing my job and my steadily declining health
• The first time I realized that there was no choice but to come clean with the new Mrs. Mike Apathy
• Begged her to help me with a “you-hold-onto-the-drugs-and-taper-me-off-at-home-system” (rehab wouldn’t prescribe suboxone due to using up my mulligans on earlier relapses)
• Wife agreed under the condition that I attend multiple NA meetings weekly and if I slipped, lied or didn’t hold up my end of the deal, it would signal her leaving my pathetic ass for good
July 2011, age 32:
• Successfully stopped drinking and using opiates with the help of wife, family, friends and NA
• In early July and during a moment of panic and high-anxiety, started popping Xanax
- Without thinking things through, lost track of how many Xanax I had eaten, came close to overdosing **and was taken to the ER by the CDO and 2 other friends (ended up okay…no major physical damage, was prescribed a new antidepressant)
• Later in that same week learned of an old acquaintance’s suicide by overdose, taking place on the same weekend I almost killed myself
• While depressed over the loss of a good man/husband/father whom I considered a friend and in a rare moment of honest reflection, finally chose to read the writing on the wall and take steps toward real change
• The very next day I embarked on day-1 of real sobriety (living it, breathing it, enjoying it and putting in the effort it takes to support it)
**I realize how this must have really looked, and I know it injects serious doubt into this next sentence, but I’ve never been more serious: the Xanax/near-OD/Emergency Room incident was not intentional. It was not a conscious choice…was it done subconsciously? Gonna be honest with you as well as with myself…can’t completely rule it out…
Current, age 32:
• I’m alive after living my whole life not caring if I ever made it past age 27
• I’m healthy, relatively speaking, after a 17-year run of altering my brain chemistry and poisoning my insides
• I’m still employed, gainfully, when I should probably be scavenging for cans to recycle
• To quote the great poet Blake Schwarzenbach, I live by one simple rule: “Every day be sure you wake.”
If any Hamstring readers have a story that’s similar, and are comfortable with sharing it, write about it and share it with us. With your permission, I’d love to post it as a follow-up. If any Hamstring readers have a good chunk of clean-time under their belts and are living life to the fullest, I want to know how you’ve made it this far. What’s your story?
I joke around a lot on this site, but this journey…these trials. This. This is life. My story is no different that anyone else’s and I’m most certainly no better or worse off than the guy with 30 years clean, or 30 minutes. All I know is that when I first decided to clean up my act…seriously clean up my act (there’s a difference), hearing stories from folks who had been down a similar path helped. I couldn’t tell you why exactly, but I know that it did and I know it still does.
Part 2 of Ask Apathy vol. 1 will be coming later…maybe this week. Maybe next month. Basically, the next time I find myself in one of these moods. I plan to go into detail, some of the things that have triggered my relapses and what I’ve done to combat them. I’ll go into more detail about life after drugs, where I won’t lie and tell you the grass is always greener, but that’s the fucking point. It doesn’t need to be.
Either that, or I’ll just write more articles about baseball. Those seem to get the most clicks anyways…
For Tyler and for anyone else who has a similar story, or is close with somebody who has,
This is Mike Apathy singing off.