Confessions Of The Degraded: 3

In the final confession of his three-part series, DOUGLAS THOMSON comes to terms with a new start next year.

Nauseous on the verge of passing out, I cleared my room. I mumbled the odd goodbye in response to confused looks at ‘the boy loading one and a half terms of memories’ into a car. One last trip to the Plodge, and I handed in my key and left college as a shadow. Now well and truly back in my old skin, scars and all.

I didn’t hear from uni bods for weeks, and the radio silence was as confusing as it was terrifying. I just wanted some kind of indication that they hadn’t forgotten about me, and that coming back was possible. Without it I lost a sense of identity, no longer the man I had created as the fresh-faced Cambridge Undergrad.

The feelings of failure, disappointment, guilt and shame caused me to shut myself off. I held back from family, not understanding why they were so concerned. I wanted them to leave me as the vegetable I had become. Festering by myself, Cambridge was again on the far horizon, the details of the spires fading to the point of an odd dream. The laptop charger moved next to the bed, as did the T.V. remote, ashtray and a collection of empty mugs. A hole of fear grew: I was done, stuck in this shite town with a pile of regret.

Fluoxetine is a mild anti-depressant which rebalances levels of serotonin in the brain, or something along those lines. I treat it more as a multi-vitamin, giving a sense of health and well-being without leaving the home. MDMA floods the brain with serotonin, so the little rock star in me is happy. This is what happens when you drive home wasted with one eyebrow and have a bizarre conversation with your parents – the truth will out. They sent me to the doctor, still smashed, and I came back with a prescription and a plan of action. Everything rose to the surface like a Victoria sponge, and as I ate my cake the gentle realisations of the past month just chundered everywhere.

I have been running, sprinting to get out of my head. Not in a suicidal way, but with a desire that causes my throat to close and jaw to lock. I don’t want to take responsibility for my actions; I don’t want to produce failure with my name on it. I don’t want to live my life, but I need my life to be lived. So I hit this middle ground, following the path I had decided on taking at such a young age, always hoping that someone would come along and take the reins. I cultivated this white noise at the back of my mind, a constant penetrating hiss, to produce a kind of comatose consciousness.

Add the substance abuse and it grows louder, trying to burn out all senses, trigger happy synapses lusting after complete lack of control, trying to revert to some primal beast flinging shit at walls. Be rage, love, guilt, orgasm, agony, sublime joy or manic depression, but please let me be not myself.

It’s so ridiculous, this coiled thought process. This deep remnant of my psyche, which speaks thus: “you can put it off, do it later, take more chemicals and everything will turn out sunny side up”. This naivety, coupled with terror in the face of any accountability.  This is not looking good.

However we all know that the first step to recovery is acceptance, so here I am. Sure, I’m on a much more public setting than should be socially acceptable, but whatever floats your boat, right? The plan for this impromptu Gap Year is change, because going through this again would just be absolute effort. As personal experiences go, I’ve found it to be lonely, scary, and unique.

I finally received the final notice, I have degraded. I have rendered this laziness since October into a kick up the arse. The kind sovereigns of Cambridge will open their doors again with the approval of my local physician, and I’m even allowed to visit for May Week.   I made a good decision, a decision that didn’t need reasons, or a table of pros and cons, but just trust. Yeah I’ll admit it, this is some clichéd moment with everyone hugging and crying, babbling about the meaning of friends and family, but fuck it. They got me into this mess and they saw me out of it. I didn’t want to do it, they didn’t want me to do it, but we all knew it was a good decision, and things like that are inevitable.

Despite my reluctance I can now say that I wasn’t ready, that I am unwell and that I can’t handle it. I’m not special in this respect – by no means – but this is what University is all about, it’s the push in at the deep end that shocks you into living. Most float, a few sink, and some blow the emergency whistle and get back on the side ready to jump in again.

This is myself. I shall “Carpe diem cras” – seize the day, tomorrow.