Monthly Archives: Apr 2017

Chapter 1 – Part 3

It was too early for the superstore and that meant that I had to face the long walk back into Guildford town centre to find something to occupy the time. It took around about an hour to walk the combined distance from my tent to the superstore and then into town and this was the perfect opportunity for the beast inside to stir and start making demands. It was hungry for stimulation and excitement. Vodka alone could not satisfy its needs. The beast twisted and turned in my head, digging its claws into my mind relentlessly, seeking some new exhilaration. The night before, I had asked a couple of the guys from the drop-in about the chances of getting hold of some weed and had been dumbstruck to find that nearly all of them were so hooked into ‘legal highs’ that they had lost all connections with drug dealers. They had strongly warned me off from trying the same route as it was so addictive but could offer absolutely zip in the way of an alternative. I was still struggling with low self-confidence and even asking these guys had taken a lot of preparation and build up so there was no way I was going to approach anyone on a Sunday morning to find an answer to my needs.

The beast didn’t care about such problems, though. It was getting hungrier by the minute and starting to take more and more room in my mind. Even before I had reached the town centre the beast knew that I would be trying some of these newfangled ‘legal highs’ before the day was over. It knew how to trick me into a state of conscious denial while it waited for a suitable time for my defences to be weak enough for it to take control. Until then it scratched and scraped the insides of my head. Once again, everything I thought about and everything I saw around me was devoured by the beast and twisted back to thoughts and dreams of drug use. I lasted until midday.

I had decided that my best plan of action was to casually hang around the drop-in until one of the local service users came by and then find out where the shop they had spoken about was situated. I didn’t have long to wait and was soon on my way with the beast inside singing happily to itself. I bought a new pipe and a little bag of a ridiculously named product and set off for a quiet spot I’d previously found. A few minutes later I was sat on a bench waiting for the buzz to kick in. It took its time but when it did kick it must have been wearing hob-nailed boots. It kicked me completely away from any tangible grasp of reality. I got lost in a trip that slowly stripped me of my ability to make sense of my surroundings until all I could connect with was the stream of thoughts spilling out of my mind into the universe. Words formed themselves into sentences and my entire existence seemed to depend on the continuation of these sentences. In a panic, I called out to the only thing that I knew was true, God. He reached out and gently guided me back to myself. It was a journey of forgiveness based on seeing myself through His eyes and my life’s decisions as somehow understandable considering my circumstances. Understandable but not ideal and certainly not what His way would have been but forgiveness was there for me.

As soon as I was able to stand up, I poured the rest of the contents of the bag on the ground. The beast had been beaten into a temporary submission and my fear and disgust were palpable. The whole experience had taken less than an hour but had felt so much longer. My heart was full of gratitude to my maker for being there for me and all I could do was keep thanking Him. I hadn’t experienced a touch of God as close and personal as that before but I needed to distance myself from the source of the encounter before I was able to really appreciate it. Like so many times before in my life, I felt that I just had to run away. As I walked around the town centre the fear was slowly dropping back to a normal background level and everything was going to be Ok again. All the while I was continually thanking God for this intimate experience of His love for me but the beast was just licking its wounds.

I returned to the drop-in to get a hot meal and be amongst people that I could pretend to myself that I knew. Both of these things were important to me at this time although I was keen to get away when I had had my fill of both. I had only spent a couple of evenings hanging around out the back of the superstore but it felt like a safe place to be so I picked up a bottle and headed back. It was a quiet place to be on a Sunday night and this suited me perfectly as I needed some time alone to process the afternoon’s events. The evening soon passed and I returned to my tent for the night.

The next few days saw me being kept busy talking through my problems with various service providers at the drop-in. Every now and then an idea would surface and I would be dispatched to a side room to make a phone call which invariably ended with a sudden realisation that I didn’t actually meet the requirements needed to facilitate the aid on offer. While my days were passing on board this emotional rollercoaster I was very thankful that I had managed to obtain a bag of weed on the Monday night to add some spice to the vodka I was drinking every night. The beast had plagued me until in desperation I had asked a couple of dodgy looking teenagers to score for me. I had waited on a street corner with one of them while the other had gone into a house and hey presto, five minutes later I was sat with a smile on my face. I was pleased to add an eighth of old fashioned resin to this bag on the Wednesday thanks to building a relationship with one of the older service users at the drop-in.

When Thursday came and nothing concrete had come about from any of the suggestions I had received at the drop-in I was ready for a change. My knees were still in pain causing me to walk with a limp and the distance I was walking between my tent and town centre was aggravating this issue. Shortly after my arrival in Guildford I had gone through the usual procedures at the Hospital in the hope of restocking my supply of codeine smarties but had left with a box of the lower grade co-codamol. I knew for sure that I would be given more di-hydro-codeine at the doctors in Leatherhead and this was reason enough for a return and after a number of phone calls to the benefits office throughout the week a payment had been put into my account and so I had enough money to travel again. I started the day with a good breakfast at the drop-in, explained my plans to the guy in charge, used their phone to book an appointment at the docs and then caught a bus back to Leatherhead.

I popped into the Pitstop for some food and to see what supplies I could put to use and was surprised by the warm reception I received. One of the lads there had been living in a tent out behind the football club by the river and he was keen to tell me that there was a spare tent there. The guy that had set it up had gone off a few days before and it was mine if I wanted. Together we dragged a few sleeping bags, blankets and a second large padded mat out to it and I quickly arranged them into a bed before nipping off to the doctors for my smarties. I picked up some more vodka on the way back and was delighted to see that he had started a small fire in front of his tent. He didn’t drink but was happy to take a handful of my smarties before turning in for the night just before six. I sat there for a while just enjoying the simple pleasure of feeding fallen branches to the fire while the beast inside was being satisfied with a mixture of pills, vodka and weed.

When I had had my full of playing with the fire I took off into town for some distraction. As I was strolling along my phone began to ring and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that it was my closest friend, Danielle. She was bubbling over with the exciting news. Having been living in a women’s refuge since the summer she had just been allocated a flat on the outskirts of Redhill to move into. I was absolutely thrilled for her and after being given the new address promised to meet her there the next day for a viewing. This good news helped the rest of the evening slip by in a glow.

I popped into the Pitstop in the morning for breakfast and then headed off to the bus station. I caught a bus from Redhill town centre to the block of flats where she was waiting for me with the biggest smile I had seen for a long time. She was absolutely dying to show me the best features of her new home and it was so easy for me to join in with her pleasure. So many aspects seemed so perfect for her especially the fact that it was situated directly above a row of shops. We spent the afternoon catching up, keeping her kids occupied and repeatedly getting excited about one aspect or other of her new home. She only had the keys for the day and would be starting to move in on the Sunday so when her mum came to take her back to the women’s refuge I grabbed a lift into town to get my train back to Leatherhead with the promise that I would be returning to help her move in.

Saturday dragged its heels for me and slowly slipped into Sunday. I was really excited about having a complete change of circumstances and the chance to get out of the weather for a few days. It was good to get away from my problems and involved with helping someone else and the week started out well. Furniture would arrive in dribs and drabs and my job was to get it into the flat. Up a flight of stairs, along a walkway and then up a second flight of stairs. Straightforward but tiring and frustrating work. By the end of Monday, I was so glad that it was dribs and drabs, I was proper done in.

Then a phone call from the benefits office spun me out on Tuesday morning. Due to my obvious inability to sign-on at the Eastbourne office, they would have to stop my claim for jobseekers. It all seemed so simple when I was on the phone, I just had to start a claim for ESA. Simple. Once I had ended the call the reality clicked in. I needed the right form to fill in, I needed an address for the benefits office to contact me at and most of all I needed to be able to survive for three to four weeks without any income until my new claim had been processed. I wandered downstairs to the row of shops hoping that the community services running out of one of the properties might offer some help. I walked out of their office an hour or so later with a completed form, a tiny bit of hope and a bucket full of gratitude for their help.

I had put the Pitstop on the form as my address and so would have to return there by the end of the week to pick up, sign and return a second form. This offered me the opportunity of grabbing a break from Danie. We would both benefit from some time apart. She was settling into a three bedroom flat with her four boys and I was not only taking up room but also time she needed to manage this transition from the refuge. I was far from balanced emotionally and mentally and had little to do when I wasn’t shifting furniture. Neither of us could offer the kind of support the other needed at this time so a break seemed sensible and so I took off for Leatherhead on the Friday.

I had picked up, filled in and posted the form for the benefits office as planned on the Friday and found that tent that I had occupied during the previous weekend was still available. The following day was rained out which just made it a lot harder to get things done as the Pitstop was closed. I had been given a good long overcoat that was keeping me dry but getting into and out of the tent when dripping wet just caused more problems than I cared to have. And then I got a phone call and the result was that things got just a little bit silly. I had started the month on a psych ward, been reliant on 3 separate drop-in centres and been taking a range of mind-altering substances but I wasn’t ready for the next twist that life had for me. Due to the fact that Danie had been a resident of a womens refuge with little possibility of being rehoused before the new year, her mum had booked up a room with the Premier Inn chain so that Danie and her family would be nearer to her mums over Xmas. Well now that had changed, the room was still booked and would I want to stay there instead? Would I? Rather than stay in a tent? Oh bloody hell, yes, please!

That evening found me getting a lift to the Premier Inn at Tadworth for a night of luxury. I was dropped off with a rucksack containing tea-bags, coffee, sugar, milk and a variety of biscuits and snacks and given twenty quid to cover any other needs. My beast was growling loudly within, calling for its own luxuries though and it had its eye on the cash and so instead of just being grateful, I was impatiently waiting for my friend’s mum to leave me so that I could go and find a shop to buy some vodka. It was a distinctly weird evening for me. Within half an hour of being left alone, I was quite pissed to go with the pills and a little smoke. I was in a fairly luxurious setting and could do what I wanted but my head was a proper mess and I just couldn’t settle and relax. Eventually, I gave up and turned in for the night. In the morning I was given a lift back to Danie’s with the promise of another lift that evening to the Premier Inn on the other side of Redhill. Some of the day was filled with taking a train to Croyden to score some weed, in a decidedly dodgy manner, from Danie’s cousin and the rest of the day seemed filled with getting Danie’s two eldest boys off to their dads for Christmas. Damn, but the whole family were getting involved in one way or another.

When I woke, the next day, it was to find that a fairly major storm had hit the country and on stepping outside for my morning coffee and a fag I could see the after effects. The river that ran past the Premier Inn had burst its banks and spread out in a particularly disconcerting manner across the A23. At first, I was able to enjoy the scenes of confusion as traffic built up either side with only the brave and foolish drivers attempting to cross but as time wore on and it became apparent that the possibility of getting a lift back to Danie’s was getting slimmer by the minute, my enjoyment was somewhat tempered. A quick look on Googlemaps showed me where I was and what route I needed to take to walk back through Redhill and onto Danie’s and so after getting permission to leave the rucksack at reception, I started to walk. Once I got into Redhill town centre I found that some of the local buses were operational and so grabbed a bus to Danie’s. One more night at the Premier Inn and it was Christmas eve. It was decided that I would stay at Danie’s over the Christmas period which made a lot of sense and that night she and I hammered the weed whilst I drank freely from a bottle of vodka with the refrain of ‘more, more, more’ rattling through my head.

I woke the next morning to really regret the over-indulgence of the night before. Danie’s mum was cooking Christmas dinner and I was invited, along with Danie and her two youngest. It was a horrible time for me, I felt really rough and just so out of place. I tried my hardest to be present and show gratitude for all that was being done for me but it was an uphill battle and I was so relieved when we could get out and back to Danies. Slowly, bit by bit I was shutting down. I was finding it incredibly hard to accept that financially I was dependant on Danie and what money she could spare from feeding the family was spent on weed for herself and me. I could give back by being the one to go score from people that her cousin knew but other than helping a bit with the kids, cleaning and cooking I felt useless. When this was added to the general feeling of hopelessness that was creeping over me, I was left aching inside with no understanding of how to communicate it. I knew that Danie was struggling to get a grip on how to be the mum that she could be to her kids and I kept feeling that I was just in the way.

Time from Boxing day to New Years eve crept past somehow and then we were there, eager to fulfil the preconceived ideals and projections of what a New Years eve should be but quite incapable of putting any of them into action. Danies mum wanted to see her daughter and the kids again before the year ended and somehow this led to us falling out. I can’t remember what it was that got me upset and angry but I know I ended up sat in a massive pile of self-pity and wide open to allow the lies that had dominated my life to take a stronger hold and mess with my head. I was throwing blame around and was quite happy to include myself in that blame game. Danie was late returning from her mums and by that time I had disappeared deep into my own head. The rest of the night scraped by painfully for me and by the time the new year had started I knew that I had to get away, far away. I started the day rolling up a large collection of fags in preparation for my journey and with very little idea of how I was going to get there I said goodbye to Danie and set off for Leatherhead. For some unknown reason Leatherhead still felt like a safe place to be and I had run out of other ideas.

It rained all through the day as I marched along the road from Redhill through Reigate, on into Dorking and then to Leatherhead. I stopped a few times for rest breaks and to empty the rainwater that was continually collecting in my shoes. The rain was just something else to hate and use to fuel my self-pity, confusion and hopelessness. By the time that I got into Leatherhead the daylight was beginning to fade. I took what I thought would be a good short-cut along the river but hadn’t accounted for the effects of the storm the week before. Before long I found that it was impossible to keep out of the puddles and I had to wade through ankle deep water to get to the patch of ground where the tents were. This was now a waterlogged mess and the tents were holding about three inches of water. All the contents were soaked and useless. I walked round to the entrance to the football ground to find the gates locked with a large padlock and chain but I had to get in and find if there was anywhere to get out of the rain. It took quite an effort to climb over the high gate and then I approached the clubhouse where the drop-in had been. Although my heart had dropped into my stomach at the sight of the tents, I now found out what it felt like to have it drop further down. The whole place was a mess. The area that the drop-in had been using was washed out and lacking in any sign of recent occupation. The furniture was gone and the bins outside were full of the wet remnants.

I stood and stared for a while, just lost in utter despair and then made my way round to the pitch itself because I knew there was a covered stand that held seating. I sat for what seemed an age just incapable of taking it all in. The drop-in was going to be closed for at least the foreseeable future and any help that went with it. I was entirely on my own and had no idea what I was going to do next. It was still raining and so the idea of trying to sleep under a hedge was gone. What to do! What to do! The ache inside me was growing deeper and deeper. I knew I couldn’t bear to stay there but I didn’t know where else to go. I had to get away from this dreadful place and so climbed over the gate and wandered off in a complete daze. I just stumbled around for a few hours, wracked with internal pain, until I eventually found a shop doorway that offered a place out of the wind and rain in which I could lie down and try to sleep. It was a fitful night containing periods of sleep interrupted by the need to stand and relieve the pain that lying on the ground caused. When I got up in the morning I had but one plan for the day and that was to get some more of the painkillers and take the lot with some vodka in an attempt to end my life. I had to make an appointment for the doctors and then get through the day til I could get a new script and then end all the pain.

When I got up in the morning I had but one plan for the day and that was to get some more of the painkillers and take the lot with some vodka in an attempt to end my life. I had to make an appointment for the doctors and then get through the day til I could get a new script and then end all the pain. I walked up to the doctors, glad to have something to do, and arranged an emergency appointment for 5 pm and then wandered back into town. As I was getting into town I saw the guy that ran the Pitstop walking up to the shops and I headed his way to say hello and enquire what was happening about the drop-in. Once again, he was obviously pleased to see me and proceeded to fill me in on how the drop-in was now up and running in a village hall situated in Fetcham. This was a village that was tacked on the south-west side of Leatherhead and within easy walking distance. He told when they would be open for breakfast and gave me directions for getting there but I was still quite shut down and so other than knowing which road to head down I was none the wiser but made out that I could remember his instructions and told him I would be there.

Ten or twenty minutes later, as I was sat trying to work out whether or not I would be able to find the village hall, one of the local lads turned up and stopped to say hello. He told me he was heading off to the drop-in and asked if I wanted to join him and so off we went with me assuming that he knew exactly where he was going. This soon turned out to be a mistake and he was asking me for directions as if I was the local. After a fair amount of guesswork, we rounded a corner and he turned round and announced that it was just up the road. Once we were there, I got myself some toast and a coffee and then went outside for a fag. When I had finished that I searched out the toilet and noticed the main hall which wasn’t being used and so after checking that I wasn’t being missed I went back and made myself comfortable. I hung my dripping wet overcoat above a radiator, stuck my shoes on a separate radiator and lay down on the stage to try to get some needed sleep. I managed to doze on and off for a while getting up only to get some lunch when I got hungry. As the afternoon wore on, I began to make plans for the evening. I had the doctors appointment for 5 pm and I knew they were going to be closing the place up around 4 pm, so I figured that if I left a window ajar it might not be noticed and I could come back later and hopefully let myself in.

After a final cup of coffee, I took off for the doctors just before they closed the hall. I hung around the surgery until the time of my appointment and headed back into town afterwards. By the time I had got the prescription made up I was mentally ready to go into the supermarket and shoplift a half bottle of vodka and a bottle of energy drink. The overcoat was being useful again as it had deep pockets for the bottles. As soon as I was round the corner, I mixed some of the vodka in a spare bottle I had and began the task of drinking and taking the painkillers. I had decided to take my time with downing the pills because I only had one shot and didn’t want to make myself sick and waste this chance. I then began the slow walk back to the village hall. When I got there I took my time with checking the place out, making sure there was no-one around and making note of the properties overlooking it. When I was ready, I snuck up the side of the building and checked my window. I was incredibly relieved to find it still ajar and I opened it fully and climbed in. I quickly closed both it and all the curtains in the building before starting to set myself up for the evening. I kept one window ajar to use for when I wanted to smoke and as soon as I had set everything up I slipped outside to check if any of the lights I was using were visible from the street and then got back to the vodka and the pills.

The evening passed uneventfully and the pills were finished by half ten or so. I then made myself a bed from some of the supplies that had been gathered for the drop-in and laid down to try to sleep. I managed to get a few shortish bursts of sleep interrupted by fag breaks until I awoke around half past five with the knowledge that not only was I still alive but I wasn’t going to get any more sleep. This hurt even more and added to this was a very uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. I made my way to the toilet and began the drawn out procedure of emptying its contents. This was something that continued for the next hour or so and each time I was sick I noticed little white lumps in the contents. After I had been sick the first time and my stomach had settled a little bit, I got my act together and exited the building leaving the window ajar again. I then started a slow circuit of the area, stopping occassionally to throw up and all the time finding myself unable to take on board what had happened and what I was going to do next.

For the want of anything else to do I headed back to the village hall when I felt that I had finished being sick. I got myself some breakfast and went outside for a fag and this was when things took an unexpexted turn for the good. A friend that worked for the drug services in Eastbourne phoned me to tell me that Big Al had been arrested for a violent crime and therefore my flat was empty. I quickly explained my situation including the fact that I had no money and no way to get back to Hailsham, so he told me to wait there while he looked into sorting this out at his end. Shortly later he phoned again to tell me to go to the local train station and pick up a ticket that he had arranged for me and so I set off for Hailsham. With this friends help I was fast tracked into rehab due to being considered a vulnerable adult with long standing drink and drug issues and after two months of hell I was signed into Yeldall Manor rehabillitation centre to begin my new life.

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Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in Uncategorized