This is a story about destructive relationships...
I stood up my most respected and one of my most sorely missed friends for the third time yesterday.
I was supposed to see him and his family just before Xmas, then we were going to have Tea at the Ritz, then we were going to travel to Heathrow, catch up on the train and in in the ample time before his flight.
WHAT'S GOING ON?
Well, I've never not had a girlfriend. I'm too addicted to sex. After the most almighty row at my ex-wife's brother's wedding, we took a break from each other for a few days. While she discussed my faults and possible solutions with her parents, I found a way out of one destructive relationship and into another.
I have written before about our unhealthy co-dependency on sex, and sex on drugs. "NRG-3" had no ingredients listed, but it was the last untried chemical on a legal high & research chemical website where each weekend, my ex and I would fuck on a different drug.
I would spend a bunch of spare time at Cambridge, reading about research chemicals, and then I would order one, ready for when I next saw my ex. I saw us like Alexander and Ann Shulgin, and had read their candid co-biographies about synthesising about 3,500 psychoactive drugs, and testing them all on themselves. The ones that seemed safe and interesting, as an aphrodisiac, Alexander took with Ann and they compared notes in their famous books PIHKAL and TIHKAL, which I read when I was 17/18 years old.
Only "NRG-3" was going in the bin. I did some snooping and found that "NRG-x" was the name for the old stock of unsold 'legal' highs that weren't legal anymore. Most people speculated that it was Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which Crystal Meth and Crack users were switching to because it was 1/1,000th of the price per dose. Except MDPV had terrible extrapyramidal side effects in people not regularly abusing stimulants: panic attacks, palpitations, tachycardia, hyperthermia and said to be more addictive than the illegal drugs.
John McAfee, the famous billionaire software engineer became addicted to MDPV and started posting videos of himself pointing a loaded gun at his head on YouTube. The more I read, the more convinced I was that I needed to add the pyrovalerones to my 'never try' list (heroin, crack, crystal meth, PCP).
Only, in a suicidal state after the aforementioned temporary separation from my ex-wife, I thought "fuck it, what harm can 15mg do?" 15 milligrams is 10 to 20% of the size of a dose of 'most' stimulants. The line of white powder is more of a short, thin, hyphen. Your eyes can't believe that 15mg is so tiny.
My affair started immediately. I loved this drug. I loved the effects of this drug more than the pleasure I derived from my destructive relationship with my ex-wife. I had a mistress. I was having an affair. I was also free from the fear of losing my co-dependee.
I took 800mg over 4 days when I had intended to only take 15mg, for the duration of it's effects, which could be between 3 and 24 hours. It's not a stable and predictable compound. My behaviour had always been stable and predictable: I would take a single accurately measured dose, orally, and I had never ever broken my rule.
I had tried maybe 50 drugs up to this point, so I wasn't naïve, but I found myself saying and doing things I knew were addict clichés. "I'll just have a little bit more", "that looks underweight/small, I'll just increase the dose slightly", "I'm going to have one last dose then I'm going to stop", "OK, this really is the last one".
I didn't eat, I didn't sleep until the 3rd night. When I woke up I was having a terrible panic attack. Time inched by. My pulse and blood pressure were maxed. I was convinced I was going to die. I wasn't naïve though. I downloaded a computer game called Samorst, and played that for 12 hours. I felt a bit better.
This happened a few weeks after Springboard ended. I knew I had to pitch in London a month after demo day. I remember almost turning back home as I was almost on the train to London, because the thought of leaving my drugs for a few hours was scary. Way scarier than giving a pitch while high and hoping nobody from Springboard noticed I was high, sleep deprived and I had lost weight.
Everyone said that my London pitch was better than my Cambridge one (practice? home town? drug-induced confidence? Smaller audience?).
Maybe I just didn't care so much. Jason Trost of Smarkets spotted the founder problem I had right away. I picked a startup that would be cashflow-positive, I could code in on my own in no time, and we already had a customer (5 or 6 household names by the time we started Springboard). The problem was this: I'd solved the problem in my head, written it: boring work only now, and I had no founder passion except pride in our startup.
David Hazell should have been the CEO from day one, and it took him well out of his ColdFusion comfort zone, but he can code Java and Objective-C as well as running a well administered business.
So how do you cure an MDPV addiction? Simple. Stop taking it. My ex took it as personal that I got addicted and she thought I wouldn't quit out of stubbornness and I just needed shouting at and abusing.
I had a 'man cave' (office/lounge/bedroom) built in the summerhouse I built, but she would still walk down the garden path to shout at me there.
As if this wasn't enough, my parents were ordered to come and take me away. Things didn't get off to a flying start when my ex lets my Dad in and he's been primed to start shouting "you're a junkie" too, the moment he got in my front door. I was in the middle of an email about admission to a specialist drug clinic in London, and I should have told the hypocritical c**t to get the fuck out of my house that I paid for, back to his house which was bankrolled by my mum, and the money that came from the profit of the little cottage that my granny bought her.
My parents then insisted that we get some fresh air (it was January and I was not in a good state). Even though I wore dark glassess and a coat with a big collar, it was still mentioned at work that somebody had seen me out on the clifftop while I was off work sick.
My GP kindly gave me 5 weeks so I could attend the 28-day detox program at The Priory, where one of the country's best psychiatrists specialising in dual diagnosis (Bipolar & substance abuse) was based. A few white lies were told to protect my professional reputation and my health insurance would pick up the £12,000 bill.
My ex-wife said if I went into private hospital, she would divorce me. My psychiatrists said dual diagnosis mortality rates are very high, they disagreed that it was lack of willpower that had meant I hadn't quit by means of being shouted at, and professional care was needed, even just to see what was going on with my comorbid Bipolar II.
3 and a half weeks is what I lasted in hospital, before it dawned on me that I was going back to the same life. 3 weeks became a kind of benchmark. I could quit for 3 weeks, but never any longer. Ignorant people will say that proves a lack of willpower. Fuck you ignoramus.
When separation and divorce finally started to happen, my friend Will rescued me back to London, where I managed 2 months abstinence before my lazy ex wife insisted I travel 240 miles to get 3 valuations on a house she lived and worked less than a mile from.
I had just founded a new startup, was in advanced discussions about raising money, had built a working prototype, cycled to TechStars London every day, had a beautiful girlfriend and lived with one of my oldest friends and made new local friends as well as reconnecting with old.
Paying the mortgage on an empty property ate my savings, especially when she rejected a cash buyer who wanted to move in 6 weeks. Instead she chose an agent who didn't know the area or have any clients looking in that area, and accepted an offer from a couple in a chain who didn't even have an approved mortgage. They took 6 months.
When my parents refused to help ease the cashflow burden like they had repeatedly promised they would - not wanting stress to cause a relapse - it took me a hell of a lot of effort & distraction to raise money that I would have prepared in advance, if I knew their offer was just hot air.
I relapsed back in Bournemouth, with the idea of turning the house into a homeless shelter or something else to piss my ex off. Rang the family solicitor after all the other laughed at me, because I had trashed a hotel room in a drug-fuelled rage, and I wanted to prepare them before I handed myself in to the police.
Strangely my friend Tim turned up, got me out of there, then my Dad got me back to Oxford. Turns out the family solicitor had phoned my mum and begged them to help their son. I was very keen my dad contact the hotel and let me settle the matter with them directly. He didn't care. He doesn't have my ethics.
I had told Will (most innocent and naïve man ever) to chuck me out if I ever got any mail from Spain or Germany. Luckily I managed to find MDPV in the USA, but it still feels shitty using drugs in your friends house, even if you're trapped on the first floor with your leg in plaster in agony because the docs won't give you anything stronger than Tramadol (in case you abuse it).
Camden Town is not a good place to be a drunk or a drug addict. I would meet with Frank every day for weeks until he got a paid hostel bed. While I was making notes, to tell his story, I unwittingly took down the addresses and contacts of everywhere I had to go to try and get help from Camden.
Eventually Will did chuck me out, because of lies my Dad told him. Will did it very nicely, but my Dad destroyed the relationship we had. I remember lying in hospital, 2 canulas, torn liver, burnt abdomen, failing kidneys, and not only did Will ask for his keys back, he asked if I had made any other copies.
This is what happens when a drug addict hypocrite c**t like my Dad starts 'helping' instead of helping like he originally falsely offered to do with a modest bridging loan.
(as an aside my parents lied to my sister and said they'd lent me 250% More money than they actually did, and that I was 'emotionally blackmailing them' by being in hospital, even though they're not my next of kin anymore and I would never bother telling them if I was in hospital. No, my mum said it's ok because it's only worth making the coroner's if they need somebody to identify my body)
I survived homelessness and further hospital admissions, so I saved my mum that train fare, but Camden Council kept reneging on their promises. I got a one line email from Camden Council Housing, saying I couldn't even get a hostel bed
"On the basis of the information you have provided I am afraid that you do not meet the residence criteria to be considered for our Hostels Pathway Scheme."
What the fuck? Do you only accept people with money and houses and nice parents?
If you ever want to speak to a psychiatrist in hospital here's a little trick. Ask the the receptionist if you can borrow her phone and then dial the switchboard. Say "can I speak to the bleep holder for psychiatric liaison please?" Make sure you don't let on you're a patient until you absolutely have to. Saying "I'm trying to locate a bed in a psych ward or crisis house in London for a voluntary admission" doesn't actually contain any lies.
In this way, I was able to get 2 whole weeks of accommodation out of the council tax I pay Camden Council. I don't feel bad, because I had a massive wound in my leg and my penis was hanging off.
At the end of the two weeks, Camden Council said "here's a number for you to phone [if you haven't been mugged or stabbed, and still have your phone] in the morning for us to come check on you". I said I wanted to stay in a a derelict tennis court maintenance shed to stay dry. They said, "we need you to stay where [muggers are and people have pissed]".
So I booked myself into a suite at the Royal Camden Golf & Spa Resort (a 14 bed dorm in a hostel) and proceeded to go into drug withdrawal. The think about London hostel dorms is, there's bunks, and there's a bathroom, and then outside there's the capital city of London, but if somebody is going through drug withdrawal in one of the bunks, fuck London, you should stay and watch them cos there's no privacy. It's like "Trainspotting" as a live play with one of the best actors you'll ever meet.
Fuck rehab at £430 a night... a hostel is a great place to get clean, provided you have a Laurence. Laurence could see that this was a dress rehearsal, and opening night would be never hopefully, and ushered a disappointed crowd of rubberneckers off around the sights of London.
I'd managed to hang onto enough money to put myself through the cheapest rehab in the country, which is in Bournemouth believe it or not. I told my mum to hang on though (could hae been yet more lies anyway) because I needed to finish my round of golf and I had a massage booked for later [as in, hostels are like cheap rehab anyway].
Before long I had a group of friends. Laurence from the mountains. Rory the Lidl vodka stealer. Jody the poet. Definitely not French Jack. Psychic Laura. "I just want a baby" Priscilla. "Quite Old But You Still Would" Marla, Gorgeous Flavie, My later ex (banned) Antonella. DJ Kristos.... and many many more, including Paolo who had previously been acting tourguide, but with about 8 times as many years in the Big Smoke than him, I accidentally stole that role.
The thing about a hostel is, if you want drugs, everybody else wants to share, and you have to be high in public. Also, there's none of this pious "not a drop of alcohol shall pass my lips bollocks", and it's a lot easier to get clean with a beer in your hand than an herbal tea being told by some ex-junkie "drugs are bad mmmkay".
It took me a month to get clean and another month to get a job (and stay clean) and then I stayed clean until I dumped Antonella for being abusive, and then Laura got all mumpy that I didn't move onto her. Jody, who was in Love with Antonella, also was angry with me. My entire group of friends in London (except Rory) fell apart, and then my contract ended.
- Abusive relationship = multiple relapses
- No money + massive stress = relapse
- No job + no friends = relapse
- Innocent/naïve middle class person + lies about drug addiction = no friend
So I was nursed back to health by the nicest family in Ireland. The O'Riordan's of Killlavullen, Cork [The Rebel County]. I owe them my life.
The thing about the O'Riordans is that they're the smartest most hard-working and make do people you'll ever meet. Eddie, Laurence's dad's climbed 8,000m peaks and can sail, as well as repair just about anything. Breda, Laurence's mum is just so full of love & care, without all that œdipus complex bollox that my mum needs to deal with. There's sister Maria the nurse who all the boys in Magners drink in to look at and chat to, but they know they'd get the beating of a lifetime if they touched her. Then there's Danielle, with her scholarship, but she's practically already [unofficial] #2 in a company that's about to IPO. She's got Dublin culture but no arrogance.
Anyway, seeing and staying touch, and not falling out with friends is hard. Imagine if all your money just takes you deeper into debt, and keeping your mind quiet is harder than working any job... and it used to say lots of interesting things, but now it just says one: "MDPV"
Just about anything and anything that could have hurt my self esteem has happened. Showing a nurse your penis hanging off is a good one. How's about the police leading you out of a hotel, handcuffed, just wearing boxing shorts ["I'm sure you deserved it, you devil"].
And I keep having to go back to doing what I have done since the age of 17 to stop myself from going bankrupt, but I hate it and it's so easy I can type and have a conversation at the same time. And then when I've got just enough money, I'll walk into the boardroom and I'll tell the board exactly what I think, and I always get fired, but they're too scared I'm going to whistleblow to not give me a reference, so they just quietly sack whoever needs to actually go.
So, I came up with a couple of lists of things I like doing and don't like doing, and I've come up with a bunch of ideas that bring in money, keep me busy, and doing the things I like not the things I don't.
I'm sending it to Jakub, because he's the only man alive who can judge whether I'm talking pie in the sky bollocks or it might be worth a go (maybe with some discussion with his dad).
I have a practical speculative list too, which I might send to Rory, as he's the only man alive who'd come in on me with some mad scheme to stop both of our minds from driving us mad.
Jakub, it just remains to say, I'm so sorry for standing you up, but I was 6 months clean in San Francisco, but I had to ethically walk away from the HSBC corruption and incompetence. Since then, it's been promises, promises and false starts, but I'm waiting for the day when I either die cos I'm dumb enough to figure out how to get high for 14p a day, or smart enough to do something I can be proud of and it was my destiny.
So cute (9 October 2013)
P.S. - Sansa (Happy Birthday!), Lydia, Margaret, Nicola, David, Willian, Will, Jess, Cameron... I'm going as fast as I can. It's like trying to get a 10,000kg ball rolling.
Tags; #startup #addiction #friends