Choose your poison
Mephedrone. Meow- meow. Meph. The new dance party drug of choice: it’s no longer ecstasy or cocaine, due to quality problems and boredom. The average cocaine purity fell from 60% in 1999 to 22% in 2009 and by June 2010 almost all ecstasy pills seized in the UK contained no MDMA at all. MDMA is the stuff that makes you feel so god-damn good. And I loved the pills with the pictures of flying horses and clowns on them which create a flood of both serotonin and dopamine in the brain. And then they don’t.
So no more dodgy ecstasy. And more significantly, pure or no, no more of the wonder drug that made me chronically anxious as a come-down. Non-functioning kind of anxiety. I feel untethered, unable to latch onto anything that will stop me from floating away, with no ground beneath my feet or sky above my head, ultimately alone with the sick realisation that we are all ultimately alone. And I have been prone to anxiety since I was born, as far as I’m concerned – my first memory, ever, was not having a brown crayon to colour in the branch on which sat an owl in front of me. The boy next to me said I should use black and pretend the branch was dead. I lost my thin thread to what is real and not real and what is safe and what is not safe. I had entered the classroom feeling lost but having the right crayons would place me in the blend of normalcy and make me feel contained and part of something that is known and ordered. Now, without my brown crayon and a warped solution, I was subject to an authority I didn’t understand in an environment which felt alien to me every day of my life and through which I mis-stepped until high-school. When I smartened up.
Until a few short years ago, I thought that everyone felt the breath of nothingness during their days, as this had been my only truth and the hidden driver of many of my actions and decisions. So much so that I thought this was who I was, the essence of my personality. The anxiety created a drive and energy to move, run, change, question, achieve, succeed, create. Shut down, re-boot, whir into action again. Intercepted by bursts of the dopamine high and irrational behaviour associated to falling in love and the fatalistic belief in the security that this person would provide. So now that I have recognised and detangled Dread’s stranglehold on my heart, I consciously make decisions to keep him malnourished. I have always worked hard, prayed hard and loved hard: a strategy which keeps me safe. And now I have decided to no longer take party pills.
I have experienced and learnt how the chemical balance in my brain can release certain parts of my personality while containing others and how the psychiatric industry can help me tweak this to keep Dread muffled and invoke the feeling of well-being, connection, purpose and belonging that is produced by enough serotonin. It becomes quite difficult keeping the universe around you in tight equilibrium, asking people to please behave in ways you need them to behave, just so that you feel your own gravity. So now I look after my universe where I can and pay close attention to my head – and its working brilliantly for me, after years of living with my toes searching for footing while I can feel my body falling. So no more ecstasy or other commercial derivatives which may mess with my current concoction and balance: I protect my mis-understood brain with new respect. Not that the psychiatric society has a handle on how the brain works (the science is 100 years behind heart science) but there is a sense of calmness in daily scripted medication as opposed to my proclivity for self-medication.
Mephedrone. It’s been in Jhb for the last four years, and unfortunately since it was made illegal in the UK in 2010, its quality is also likely to slip over the years to come. I kept the two tablets, which looked pretty much like any slow release medication, next to the credit cards in my purse and later gave them away. My friends on the stuff did not walk around bug-eyed, did not insist that we move onto the next eight-hour party and generally had a large time dancing and getting psyched about being alive and being with friends. Mephedrone is said to be a like a mixture of E, coke and speed. Sounds awesome, especially to a happiness-seeking freak like me. I refrained and had my own unbelievable time with my new and old friends at an awesome venue overlooking the city lights. At a Flight Party organised for us older crowd who still hanker after trance/ house music. In my element. Dread came concealed with those two tablets, which I know if I had scoffed would have been an absolute blast but also an implicit feeding of Dread’s tentacles which would have woken to give a good squeeze. I have worked too hard to extend such an invitation now and instead danced harder and longer than anyone else on the dance floor.