Citation: Jay See. "Speed Caused My Stroke?: An Experience with Amphetamines (exp23669)". Erowid.org. Feb 15, 2006. erowid.org/exp/23669
How I fell out of love with my favourite chemical.
Rewind to 1976, I was 20 years old, high on life and playing in a rock band in England. Every week we'd be playing in some town, usually huddled in the back of an old bedford van, trying to get some kip (sleep) sandwiched between piles of PA and amplification equipment. My memories of this period are very happy, on the way home from gigs we'd be pretty high simply from the buzz of performing live, joints were routinely passed around in the back of the van, so there was a lot of manic giggling and 'band' comeraderie as you can imagine.
Only when I tried to combine this free and easy 'nightlife' with a regular day job did my problems start. I'd arrive at work (a miserable post in the UK civil service) usually late and completely knackered (exhausted) I mentioned this to our roadie/driver and he gave me a few 'slimming' pills which he said would do the trick. I thought it was great, boundless energy, alertness, enthuthiasm. The only unpleasant side effect I noticed was my tendency to become engrossed in some simple boring menial task, hoovering my carpet for example! I'd set out to tidy my flat and notice a small dirty spot on the carpet which annoyed me. I'd begin a manic 24+ hours of cleaning to eradicate this offensive stain. I'd hoover, sponge, wash the area in question but still be unsatisfied. So I'd go to the hardware store and buy some carpet shampoo, 'stain devils' treatments and generally beaver away for a day and a night to get rid of this terrible blemish on my otherwise spotless carpet. After 24, 36 or more hours when I started to come down did the folly of my actions occur to me. I'd wasted the potential offered by this wonderful energy enhancing drug doing fuck all!! I'd turn round and realise the rest of the flat was a tip or a garbage can, but I had one tiny perfectly cleansed spot on the carpet for my efforts. Crazy days!
I bade farewell to amphetamines for a long time after that, during which time I took a degree in music, my principal study being 'voice'. As I matured I discovered my singing voice and realised I had a potential career as an opera singer, an operatic Basso in fact. After leaving college at the age of 28 I embarked on a succesfull career as a professional opera singer with one of the major companies in the west end of London. I sang many principal bass roles both there and in many foreign opera houses. I tended to spend most of my spare time in the company of stage technicians rather that other egocentric fellow musicians, they were better company, drank more, partied harder and most importantly toook 'lots' of drugs!
I dabbled with coke for a while but hated performing on it as it made mr feel jittery and unsure of myself, shame, as I'd expected it to give me additional confidence.
Also as an opera singer has to be very aware of of resonances in the sinus's in order to make the 'right' noise, snorting anything which effectively anaesthetises that area is a nono!
`early in my career I was bullied by egotistical conductors, a power crazed breed of nasty individuals. Around 1988 I found my 'speed' contact on the stage crew. Initially I'd take a 'dab' of amphetamine sulphate powder on a finger, that would last for a whole opera, in which I felt supremely omnipotent on stage, I would dictate the tempii to the conductor, who usually withered before my bristling self confidence and drug induced self belief and authority. Of course my high would last much longer than the performance, I'd generally not sleep that night and be worn out for a couple of days till the next show. OK if I was only doing one opera at a time.......then I'd be asked to rehearse one show whilst performing another in the evening. I'd turn up the morning after a show feeling shattered and take another dab in the morning to keep my energy levels up.
After several years like this my dose had increased for a dab of maybe half a gram, to a tea spoonful, to a desert spoonful, to a habit of an ounce (28 grams) per week.
After this it got very silly indeed. I was regularily consuming 48 grams per week and getting extremely bad side effects like awful paranoia and psychotic delusions of persecution. I became convinced that an incredibly complex surveillance operation was in place monitoring my ever move. One notable episode was seeing an entire audience of policemen in the auditorium of of the Royal Opera House covent garden mid performance..... (I consulted a Spanish psychiatrist around this time who alas was unfamiliar with colloquial English.......I complained that I could no longer concentrate on minutae (as in above hoovering episode) he said 'but you're no wearing a tie!' I gave up my counseling sessions afte this interview.) I was on stage at the RaOH covent garden absolutely terrified! Funny anecdote but a horrible memory. I'd hallucinate that the crew, who were making innocent lighting cue requests to the electrics desk via their motorolla walki talki's; I'd see them and vividly hear my name and hear comments like 'That's him, we'll get him when he comes off stage OK'. I was stuck on stage for most of the show, afraid to go into the wings!!
I bought a scanner to scan the radio frequencies coz I was convinced I was being discussed on air, I darent sleep in case I missed a vital bit of information..... terribly draining traumatic time of my life.
As if the psychosis wasn't enough to contend with, I started getting health problems from my amphetamine sulphate abuse. I got heart failure and water retention which resulted in a bout of pneumonia in hospital. Eventually in '99 I suffered a severe stroke at the age of 43 which ended my singing career and left me paralyzed on my left side and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. If you're thinking of dabbling in speed, just be careful, it can fuck you up good and proper, mentally and physically.
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