Addictions, Dependencies and Vices

I think virtually everyone has at least an addiction, dependency or vice. As an undiagnosed Autistic child I liked to consistently eat and drink the same things. I think my Mother noticed this so I was made to drank Orange squash and Tea. She kept me away from sweets and fizzy drinks. I still eat a fair few vegetables and fruits thanks to the habits created by my Mum. Though she knew I liked crisps and I used to eat a lot of them. Crisps is something I have given up this year.

I’ve never been someone who has been addicted to alcohol, smoking, drugs or gambling. I found alcohol useful as a student at University to cope with Social Anxiety but once University ended my interest in Alcohol soon disappeared. I think most students are into Alcohol though perhaps its less common than it was in my youth.

I am hugely dependant on my medication. I take prescribed medications like Lithium and Anti-psychotic medication. I have been on them for 13 years. The doses aren’t as high as they used to be and I haven’t took anti-depressants in years. I’m not sure if they help anymore. One medication certainly helps me sleep at night. I have difficulty falling asleep and if I don’t fall asleep I do have psychiatric episodes. I would definitely be open to try to come off them slowly but there isn’t much support for that. We have a medical culture of overprescribing. It’s possible I could just stop taking them but without support I am more likely to relapse. Then if I relapse I will be forcefully put back on them under section 2 or 3 of the Mental Health Act.

The welfare system means I am more eligible for benefits (social security) if I take medication. The challenges I have are more recognised as a disability if I take the medication. So I largely see medication as part of the Social Contract and in a Biblical sense as well.

One thing that helped me cope with depression was running. I experienced a high from running and the journey to running a marathon was transcendental. I found Stoicism as a philosophy helpful in suffering the pain of long distance run and ultimately I found Christ as well. Now I have a combination of these practised beliefs and no long need to run. The medication I am on this time round (it has changed) means I also struggle to run these days.

In recent years, I have begun to drink a litre of Pepsi Max in the late morning to overcome, as best I can, the sedation of my medication. It’s not healthy and certainly not good for my teeth. Though the caffeine makes a difference. I love the taste and I have to be careful not to drink too much (sometimes I fail). I have a SodaStream to manage my consumption and it makes it easier than carrying heavy bottles.

Twitter like Social Media for many people could easily reach the threshold of addiction for me. As I don’t have a living family (that care) anymore I find Twitter something I am dependent on. Part of it is being Autistic as it plays to my strength on textual conversation. I struggle with noise and people can have unconscious bias toward me. I’m not a “cool person” or socially expedient person to socialise with. I don’t have the body language or verbally oratory that many neurotypical people require. Though I can mask my true self if I want to but that is not being authentic and that upsets people as well. I have developed some good friends and acquaintances on Twitter. These people often have similar issues as me and understand. When I abruptly disappeared from Twitter a few weeks ago they immediately thought I was unwell and looked to find help for me.

Sometimes though I try to control my Twitter use as I waste too much time on it and it becomes overwhelming. This year I have tried to use the Freedom App on all my devices to prevent me using it and reading News except between 8am to 10:30am, 12pm to 2pm and 5:30pm to 9pm daily. It seems helpful but sometimes I disable it as I want connection. I am stilling learning to get the right balance with this. I think if I was able to build a social life outside Twitter then I would be less dependent on it. Though I return back to the challenges of Autism and an Atomised Society that cares less about people.

Star Trek is a particular TV Show that helps me cope. I know Star Trek as well as some Theologians know the Bible. I have also every episode on DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s not necessary for me to collect every episode but knowing I have them does help me. I go through periods of rewatching entire seasons when I need to. I have even written blogs about it here. My Star Trek collection could be described as a Vice.

Life is full of difficult choices and compromises. We all need things necessary to stay well and sane. We wouldn’t be Human if we were perfect. Yet we live in a society which is always telling us to be more perfect and making us feel that we just aren’t good enough. I know I’m doing the best I can in my circumstances and I try to always be open to getting better where I can.