Some go to learn, others go to find themselves. I went to college to ultimately become a junkie.
Of course, this wasn't my intention. It was just that I hated college from day one. New place, new people, new buildings - none of which appealed to me.I got stuck in a dorm which was not at all what I had wanted, with people who were beyond opposite to me. I wasn't willing to make the effort with them, as they simply did not fit the bill of my college life expectations.
As is often the case, the first night of college entailed partying till the wee hours of the morning, drinking and roaming about the new confinements of campus. I wandered into one of the dorms which was known to be the party Mecca of the university and found people as inebriated as I was at the time - if not more.
It seemed innocent enough - a few empty bottles of alcohol, some balloons lying around, and people chilling around a kitchen table. "Must be someone's birthday" I remember thinking. The door was open, so I went in. The balloons weren't for someone's party - they were for inhaling nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas! Seemed harmless, I thought, and so I too joined in on all the frivolous laughter and games. I felt really buzzed and began to reconsider this whole university experience. Maybe this little three-year bubble wasn't going to be so bad after all. I mean, people were friendly, there seemed to a be a good party atmosphere and, well, I was already having a laugh a minute - quite literally, thanks to my newfound friends.
Classes began the week after and I distinctly remember a professor saying something along the lines of university being a place in which we had to take our grades into our own hands: "It's on you - if you want to attend your lectures you will, and if you don't that's on you too - it's your choice”. Seemed like a no-brainer. And so I chose not to. Instead, I befriended an American girl who was on a semester abroad and seemingly as uninterested in what this university had to offer academically as I was. She had quite the penchant for pot, and I acquired this habit easily and quickly.
Once I was dextrous enough to roll my own joints, I began smoking on a daily basis. My candle holders, which had been a good luck present from former friends, became graveyards of many a stubbed joint and cigarette. I would occasionally show up to lectures, to save face, when I would receive emails of concern from academic advisors. But I was so high all the time that I might as well have not bothered to go at all. One could probably tell from my glazed eyes and apathetic demeanour that I was not mentally present.
My second year saw me move into a house with three other people who had found similar lifestyles as I in first year. Our first night in the new house was marked by popping prescription pills and smoking pot. Since we were off campus this year, I don't much remember going to classes at all. Then again, I don't much remember anything as my mind was constantly ablaze or on a trip of some kind. My flatmates began experimenting more - moving on to "harder" stuff like acid and drugs like Ecstasy. They were trying something even more potent, which I don't recall the name of now. I wasn't there yet, the fear was still inside me when it came to doing more. I'm thankful of that till this day. Watching them bounce off the walls from one substance to another was enough of a glimpse into the realm of pseudo-reality that they were creating for themselves.
Summer term came around and a couple of my flatmates suggested we do some mushrooms. "Herbal" I thought, and told them that I was in. We ordered them online and waited for them to come. Two weeks later they did, and we set off in search of a location that would be worthy of this experience. We found such a place - a beautiful meadow on a hillside, overlooking a valley to watch the sunset. Perfect. We infused our cider with the mushrooms and took our turns to swig away. (I keep mentioning being in the company of my flatmates - I should add that this was because by the end of second year my competency for meeting anyone outside the house was zero, and my indifferent nature towards the old friends of mine had negated any hopes of keeping in touch for the future. Heavy consumption of weed will do that to you.) So we did our mushrooms and had an overall pleasant day. We had chosen to spend the night in the house that we would be living in the following year. Somehow we made our way back there, clambering through the forest. Pretty out of it, we all fell asleep.
Panicked and without a clue in the world, I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating and shaking. I was having a comedown. I burst into one of the other rooms where two of my flatmates were sleeping and demanded they keep me company. "I want cocaine!" I remember exclaiming, much to their - and my - surprise. They calmed me down and sat with me while I saw my life pass before my eyes. I was hallucinating. I still remember there being a brick wall right outside my window. My English teacher, famous historical figures and former flames and crushes were coming to me on that wall. I was narrating the entire experience to the other two sitting beside me when I fell, thankfully inward, and passed out for the night.
I got into chemicals in my third and final year of university. Popping MDMA tablets and powder as though they were Tic Tacs and icing sugar. Sometimes we would go out, sometimes we would stay in and awake for 36 hours or so, listening to music. The fear of silence was enough to just keep listening to music. It wasn't pleasant, but I couldn't stop either. The voices in my head were getting too loud and too much - I needed the music. The comedowns were terrible. I would lie in bed for three or four days at a time, guzzling orange juice and hoping for any semblance of myself to come back. I couldn't even relate to the girl I saw in the mirror anymore. Feelings of emptiness and a lack of self-worth overtook any joy, and I felt as though I were an empty vessel - soulless and irrelevant.
Naturally, I didn't graduate. I didn't tell anyone this, though. Rather, I came home from pretending to submit my thesis and celebrated with the rest of my family as though nothing had happened. Somewhere, I think I believed it too. I had completely lost my ability to distinguish between reality and delusion by now.
Back home for the first time since college started, I suddenly found myself sober for the first time in three years. My holidays had been spent with my flatmates too, and my family thought I was taking trips with them. I was - trips inside my head. While my family asked me about the future and what I wanted to do, career-wise, I went into deep, deep withdrawal. I would wander around the house aimlessly all night long, sleep through the day and wake up screaming and shivering in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I would head out of the house and drive around town, looking for a fix. I don't know what lies my family told themselves to keep pretending that there wasn't something severely wrong. Until the time I didn't come home for three days at one go. Then they got me help. Against my wishes.
A year passed. I stopped having those nightmares. I was still disconnected from the world, but at least I knew what was real again.
One of my flatmates is now what can only be described as a lifelong addict. Another made it big and opened his own company. Another one died. Me? Instead of embarking upon a journey of self-discovery as a "grown-up" and moving forward, I wonder about the lost parts of myself that I will never quite get back. I wouldn't even know where to begin.
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