For those who were taking bets since my disappearance, yes, I'm still clean. Twenty-five days left until my one year anniversary. The primary psychological symptoms of my addiction have, for the most part, passed, and I am at the point that weeks pass without cravings sneaking up on me in the dark. I still miss parts of my old life, however, and find my mind wandering in dangerous places when I least expect it.

 

My main struggles are, at this point, the tangential psychological damages wrought from extended periods of exposure to high-stress, dangerous situations and environments while feeding my addictions. Chief among these is a rather debilitating stress-response akin to post-traumatic stress disorder. Living for a year in a perpetual state of hyper-vigilance due to the competing dangers inherent in an addict's "hustle" left me with a lingering paranoid anxiety every time I walk out my front door or have to spend even the slightest period of time in public. I find myself clenching my jaw and watching every face that passes me on the street, even here, an entire state away from my old 'stomping grounds.' The worst instance of this happened last week, when it was suggested that I go back to my hometown to seek treatment for an unrelated medical problem that has been acting up recently. My reaction to the thought of going back to that hell was a panic attack so violent that I spent the next two hours in a dark room, deep-breathing and meditating just to get my heart rate back under control.

 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I'm struggling with a dangerous level of boredom due to desensitization. I've always been a thrill-seeker. When I was younger, one of my favorite past-times was mosh-pitting at the most aggressive venues I could find, immersing myself in the bloody, ecstatic serenity of the orgiastic experience of willful, cognizant brutality. My twenties were spent on a perpetual pilgrimage from one experience to the next, devouring each and every sensation down to its marrow. Needless to say, this tendancy toward extremes was an ill-fated companion to experimentation with drugs. While I was able to maintain a successful, casual relationship with my psychoactive mistress for years, (which is a story for another time) when my self-control and discipline finally cracked, my fall was swift, violent, and complete. Existing on the fringes of society has a thrill and excitement all its own, and combined with the re-wiring (or, more appropriately, hijacking) of my brain's pleasure and reward systems, I can admit that I enjoyed aspects of my time in hell. Now, clean and sober for nearly a year, I am faced with a world that has suddenly had the volume turned down. For the past few months, the most excitement I get is a particularly challenging boss battle on Final Fantasy or a dinner that's just on the painful side of spicy.

 

My seclusion is coming to an end soon, and I am confused and frustrated by the prospect of re-acclimating to life in society. I am at a loss in regards to how to find a place for myself, discover a new motivation for my efforts, and find something exciting and new in this world that really seems like it has run out of secrets for me.

 

"There's something kinda sad about the way that things have come to be– desensitized to everything; what became of subtlety? How can this mean anything to me if I really don't feel anything at all?"

-Maynard James Keenan

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