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CHOICES OF AN OLD JUNKIE, CLEAN OR UNCLEAN- swimming as therapy
three recent photos of me
HOW LONG WILL I BE A DRUG ADDICT?
I am a 53 year old drug addict, the photos above are recent. I can remember joking with others in my 20's and 30's about still being a junkie when I was old (somehow , even to us, then, a disgusting and unbelievable idea. In my 40's I remember discussing with other users and proffessionals the possibility of picking-up a 'dangerous drugs' script as a pensioner.
Now, I am still a using addict, prescribed and addicted to Methadone, Dexamphetamine, and Diazepam, by the NHS, supplemented by the occasional spliff; Now I feel so embarassed, will I be a drug addicted pensioner, supplied by the State, am I a member of a fast dying breed, or will I go to Rehab and get clean?
I have all these, and perhaps more, potential futures in front of me. I am visiting a rehab on 27th April, I still don't know what I will do and would like to talk about and think through these issues in further articles.
SWIMMING AS MENTAL THERAPY part two of my junkie life
I think I am part of a very small sub-group. I am a using addict (prescribed opiates et al), who has gym membership and who uses it. Now I may well be wrong about this, using addicts usually have many and far more important priorities than joining a gym. It is an unnecessary luxury, it requires some small degree of commitment, it requires that you accept the concept and practice of regularity and time-keeping into your life. The cheapest kit and shoes are expensive. You need to stick to basic rules about using the equipment, or not diving in the pool area. there is an appropriate dress code, and an implicit, but unstated behavioural code. You need to be fit enough to withstand the high temperature of the steam-room without passing out, and you don't really want fall off the cycling machine because you're so gauched out that you literally "drop off". In the same vein, snoring during yoga is frowned upon, as is perving, swearing and coveting your neighbour's possessions. A 'Robin Hood' philosophy about redistribution of wealth, would not be considered to be good form.
Then there is the state of you body, be prepared to circulate solely with people who are at the very least clean and groomed, right up to the real body beautiful souls - young, with flat stomachs, or real six-packs, thick glossy hair, clear eyes, glowing skin and the understated confidence which is so often a result of wealth and education. Not everyone has a great body by a long shot, but yours may well be one of the worst. Tattoos are O.K. these days but not on the face or hands, and Prison Tattoos are soon recognised for what they are. Open wounds and scabs are a definite no-no. Scars are of course perfectly acceptable. even quite large ones, scars that are track marks, or are the result of frequent I. V. use are a different thing altogether, and are surprisingly hard to explain away as the result of some other form of bodily illness or injury.
I think that joining a gym, for the first time ever, as a middle aged single woman, who hasn't even got one single solitary friend to go with her, ever, is an experience that virtually anyone in that position would find a bit intimidating. Add to this just some of the additional baggage carried by a user of any age or sex, and a whole new dimension of insecurities and difficulties is unavoidably added to the situation.
Now, it must be obvious to everyone who has read the very few and short hub capsules I have published over the last few days (never done this before either). that I am not a person in possession of great, strength and determination of will, nor do I possess one shred of bravery either for myself or on behalf of others. Plus I've got to admit that i have never either enjoyed or been good at any form of sport or physical exercise.
I mention all this because it started floating round in my mind whilst the rest of me was floating around the gym swimming pool. This is only 20m x 10m in size with a constant depth of 4', but this is more than adequate for far better swimmers than myself to put some serious distance in and build up stamina. Also the pool is just great, because it is never packed, usually about 3 or 4 in pool at any one time, and sometimes I can be alone in it for 10 mins or so. because this. This is important to me because I'm not worried about getting in others' paths or they in mine. I can just swim my way into an almost hypnagogic state of mind, where thought comes easily, as though of its own volition. I love this, it is similar to dreaming in that it is effortless, and entertaining. I feel like I'm watching a movie I've never seen before, or listening to some never before considered ideas on the radio. For me it has one additional pleasure, which dreaming rarely gives me: the ability to consider my thoughts ar the time and the ability to recall them fairly accurately later.
During this process of recollection, came to me the reason for my belonging to such a sociologically small sub sub group, because of all the barriers mentioned above, and at the same time why I'm prepared to ger over some of rhese barriers. it is because of the sheer simple joy of being in, floating on and moving through water. My brain does feel rinsed clean, not weighed down by dust and litter it is able to wander off by itself again, and because I can't quite fall to sleep in the water, I can srill keep half an eye on it and reel it in ready for later use.
Yes, swimming is an excellent form of mental therapy, well it works for me.