Good vs. Evil
March 2016 and I’d made a decision; one which I’d made dozens of times before. Actually I’d ‘made’ the decision hundreds, if not thousands of times, but only acted on that decision on some of those occasions. I was going to stop drinking.
I was living in Peasholme, a homeless hostel, and was determined that I was going to withdraw from alcohol in my bedroom. I took my decision back almost immediately when I went down to the reception and asked for my bottle of wine that I’d left there. I stumbled around Fishergate trying to keep the wine down, occasionally throwing up in the street. I was determined to stop, but I was scared; and drinking this would prolong the agony a little while. When it was all gone, I recommitted and went to my room. Room 6.
The staff were aware of what I was attempting and carried out welfare checks every so often. After maybe 12 hours since my last drink I was in pretty bad shape, but I was determined that I wasn’t going to hospital again. I’d been detoxed 16 times from alcohol, mostly in the previous 3 years, and it was going to stay that way. I was going to rattle this one out on my own.
I remember everything getting very loud and I was jumpy and agitated. The sound of me putting my cup of water down made me jump; anything with a percussive attack to it was extremely loud. That was a new one, the loudness, I’d not had that before. I spoke to staff downstairs and had to cover my ears because it was like everything was amplified and I was next to a PA speaker. Weird, but bearable. I was shaky as fuck at this point and dripping with sweat; this was normal.
The paramedics were called in at some point to check me over and I thought that I was going to hospital. But they left, knowing that the staff were keeping an eye on me and I did my best to present as ‘okay’. I wouldn’t normally do that, I usually wanted to be taken in where I felt a bit safer. I was used to exaggerating my symptoms to be seen quicker, not downplaying them so I could ‘tough it out’ on my own.
At some point I slept and it was quite peaceful - very trippy and remarkably vivid. When I awoke, I was hyper; it felt like Christmas morning when I was a child. I was determined to get stuff done; book a slot to wash my clothes, have a shave, a shower, and have telepathic conversations with people; the lot! It had been around 48 hours since my last drink. I got ahead of myself and thought I’d done three whole days, but it was two.
I was so sweaty and so restless that I found it hard to get a shave. All of the hair was sticking to my sweaty face and I just wouldn’t stop sweating. But I was so excited and I’d decided that I was going to an AA meeting and they were going to let me share about this phenomenal experience I was having. I could talk to people telepathically! I was talking to God and God was answering my every question. I felt quite overwhelmed. What was I going to do now that I had these powers? I couldn’t just keep talking out loud when no one else was there; people would think I was mad. I wasn’t mad. I had to keep this under wraps. Those who I’d been chatting with telepathically this morning; they’d understand. I‘ll ask them how they cope with it. I needed to lie down this was all too much, my pupils were massive and I felt genuinely on a high! Again, this was different, and I was hopeful. Had I really gotten through it already?
Over the next few hours this psychosis continued and got increasingly intense. I went out in public, all the while having an internal dialogue with some kind of God. I’m not religious, but this was 100% proof of a God and I had its undivided attention. I made it to an AA meeting and saw familiar faces. I was drenched in sweat, my pupils were huge, I was hyper; talking fast and recounting how I’d walked in front of a moving bus and escaped and that it was a miracle. I simply had to tell my story.
I did walk knowingly in front of a moving vehicle the previous day. I had a thought, not a voice, just a very definite thought; …“there’s a large vehicle coming, walk around these people in front of you and slip off the kerb so you get hit but it looks accidental”’…
I did it and I was brushed by a bus. The driver had seen it unfold and slammed his brakes on. I ended up sitting on the road with my legs under the bus between the sets of wheels, still holding my bottle of wine. The driver got out, paramedics were called and an incident form filled in, which I still have. From my perspective it was a miracle. I sat on the bench next to where it happened, outside what was 'The Copper Kettle' on Walmgate, drinking my wine and feeling blessed. I wanted to live.
I babbled some of this out to the guy at the AA meeting. “Yeah, right. Are you on drugs?!” he scoffed.
I resented that. Quite the opposite I thought; I’d just rattled for 48 hours and gotten through the worst. I sat in the meeting full of resentment, his words resonating in my head. I got up and left the meeting. I went to a shop and was tempted to buy alcohol. My Community Care Coordinator had said he’d stop working with me if I went back on my decision to stop. I’d come this far. Fuck ‘em! I’m getting some food and going back to my room.
The dialogue with God continued. I also had real life conversations with my Mum, my old AA sponsor and my partner. I wasn’t well and I had them worried, although I didn’t know it then. My mobile phone was a bit fucked, I'd started using it during my relapse when my usual phone packed in, but I had a box full of phones; over a hundred. I started to work my way through them, trying to find one that worked on my network. This was a long process and very hard for my shaky, sweaty hands. I had to keep popping the SIM card into an adapter and then out again for different phones. Some phones needed charging first. I ended up with phones and chargers plugged in everywhere; the SIM adapter getting more damaged the more times I fumbled around with it. I thought that this was a test and I was talking out loud to ‘God’, laughing and seeing the funny side of it.
This test got a whole lot bigger. I became convinced that I was going to heaven – today!
I had to pass a number of tests. Questions were put to me via the fan on my wall. It moved ever so slightly when I wasn’t looking and demon-like hands would reach out from behind it, which I’d see out of the corner of my eye. It communicated by moving the slightest amount. 'The test' was so hard! I was dripping with sweat, very tired, but also determined that I had what it took to get into heaven.
Now, this test was to become impossible, as, although I didn’t realise it, I was the one setting it and it kept growing. There were written elements, memory tests, acting tests, visual tests and there were hurdles put in my way to make it more difficult. When I unplugged my alarm clock, I’d unintentionally reset the time to 00:00, so I had no idea what time it was, and the Nokia 3310 which I finally found and which worked on my network, also powered up at 00:00.
There was now a timed element to my test and I had no idea what time it was. Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to leave my room - only when the test was done. And when I would leave my room; it would be to either go straight to heaven or straight to hell. The stakes were high and to top it all off, there was a black, winged, bull-like creature pacing up and down my room, menacingly.
I could write pages about the whole experience, but I’m trying to capture the key points. When I thought the test was over, I looked for the slightest movement from my fan to indicate what my fate was, but there was nothing. Perhaps I’d missed something. I stood on the TV unit to get right up close to the fan (which I was at this point scared of and in awe of), and pleaded with it. Nothing.
Something had changed. I was no longer hyper in a good way, I was now hyper in a bad way; in a desperate way. I’d been tricked. There was no God. It was the devil all along and it was sniggering and tormenting me. There were little people living in my Tesco crates full of mobile phones, jeering through the cracks and holding on to them like prison bars.
I needed a drink.
I couldn’t go out like this. I didn’t want any of my fellow residents to see me like this. I felt trapped. I left my room and ran down to the reception and blurted out a load of nonsense about a test and people in my room. The staff came up and started to read my scribbles. I showed them the fan and tried to explain the unexplainable. I turned and was greeted by an enormous evil face and I jumped out of my skin. My whole face contorted and I felt like I was now to go permanently insane; in a constant state of terror. And it was; terror.
(The staff saw this and we spoke about it when I was better). My face was like a cartoonist’s impression of a terrified person; I didn’t recognise myself, but I knew it was me, I was there, my senses were heightened more than they’d ever been.
I’d tripped on drugs many times, I’d withdrawn from alcohol and tripped many times, but on those occasions I knew that it was alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This was something else. This, I feared, was how I would remain and I’d taken one chance too many.
I remained in a state of terror for a long time. A member of staff stayed with me and I was jumping frequently as the devil remained in my room laughing, sneering and spitting on me. I could see the spit flying over both of us. I was swearing at the devil, telling it to fuck off and the staff member was telling me to calm down, talking to me about my story I had written down. At times I wasn’t sure where I was, it looked like my room, but the situation was inexplicable - like a nightmare.
I was finally taken by an ambulance. The devil got in with me. The sound of the doors sliding shut sent me into fits of terror, convulsing, jumping uncontrollably. The devil stayed with me in the ambulance and followed me into the hospital. The hairs on my arms were standing straight up and remained that way for hours. It was like I was in shock. If I ever got out of this intact, I would surely never touch a drop again, or any other drugs, because they led to the drink and drink was my biggest demon. You wouldn’t think I’d ever drink again would you? I started my seventeenth detox that afternoon….