Last Updated on: June 20th, 2017
Today’s post is an extra-special instalment of the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, and the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is DD, who is addicted to heroin. (Hey, some freelancers have posed nude, so don’t judge…)
Rather than have her write the post in the same style of past FITS posts, I decided to ask her a few questions.
First, let’s meet DD.
Who is DD?
DD is short for Deemster Diva. She’s probably the most productive drug addict I know… not that I know that many… anymore… 😉
We will simply know her as DD.
I’ve had many conversations with her via email, and I don’t judge her for the drugs she chooses to do. She’s still a person, and she’s a freelancer, too.
Kinda makes for an interesting scenario, don’tcha think?
Now please welcome DD to center stage, and listen to her answer a few questions.
Questions for DD, and Her Answers
Q1: I’m curious to know how many clients you have on an ongoing basis?
I have about 15 clients that are in rotation for press releases (which are a big part of my business), blogs, transcribing and website articles. I’m not writing for them all at once or anything, it comes and goes. But they are steady work.
On top at that, at the moment I have 4 other big projects going on. I’m writing recipes for a cookbook (after I got my BA in screenwriting, I went back to school and got a degree in culinary arts), writing copy for a bicycling parts manufacturer for brochures and other marketing material in preparation for their trade show season, a copywriting company from the UK hired me to create the content for their new website (which I thought was pretty funny considering they are a copywriting company!) and I’m creating content for an ebook website/emagazine.
My business is still new, so I’m still trying to make a name for myself. My favorite thing to do is write sales letters and technical material, since that’s what my background is in. One of my retainer clients hires me to do their RFP’s, which is fun. But it’s usually only about 2 weeks of work a month. I’d like all my clients to be like that eventually. But the work I’m doing now is so diverse that it at least stays interesting.
Q2: How you handle your obligations to them, given your drug use?
As far as my use goes, I have to admit, the first thing I do every morning is a shot of heroin. But I only do enough to avoid getting sick, just one balloon. One of the unfortunate things about heroin is the rapid tolerance buildup. Even with a shot of three balloons (or .3 of a gram), it’s hard for me to really get a good high where I would be nodding off or anything.
But even so, I’m conscience about getting high during work hours and save 2+ balloon shots for the evening, like someone would have a beer to relax after work. So while I guess technically I’m always in a constant state of opiate intoxication, I don’t feel it.
To me, it helps increase my productivity because then I’m not thinking about it. My therapist jokes that I have all these rules around my heroin use. And I guess that’s definitely true. I have rules for how many I allow myself to buy in a day, how long I go between shots, how many I can do during the day on weekdays vs. weekends. Vacation rules, travel rules. But without those rules, I know that I’ll let my use just skyrocket. It’s the only way I keep myself in check and stop myself from escalating back up to a 3 gram a day habit.
Q3: Is your drug use something you will ever stop?
As of this moment, I have no desire and make no plans to ever quit. But I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, lol.
I used to think that one day I would have to quit, that there was no way I could keep this up forever. But I kept pushing it out of my head as a concern for another time. During some of the short stints I’ve done off heroin, I’ve thought about stopping forever, but it’s not something I‘ve put any real stake in, to date.
All of my breaks have been for predefined periods of time. The one exception was after my bf was arrested with 15 ounces of meth and 6 ounces of heroin and was mandated to stop. It was only then my eyes were opened to how fucked up things were. I knew I needed to make a change. I needed to kick the physical dependency, pick up the pieces of my shattered life and hopefully start to put them back together again, and regain employment. But I couldn’t bring myself to say “forever.” It was always one day at a time.
While working with my sponsor, I did seriously consider making a permanent change. I began to buy into the NA way of thinking; that I couldn’t maintain a prosperous life and an addiction, and I wanted a life. But as things started to fall back in place and life became ordered and fun again, I still couldn’t kick the thought that I could have both. I talked with my sponsor a lot about it before deciding to use again.
Obviously, he was not thrilled with my plan. But he still supported me and I still talked to him about it. I still use NA and therapy and addiction treatment programs as a way to maintain my reduced use, the way most people use it to quit. Because I don’t pretend that I’ve got this. I know it could all come crumbling down around me if I’m not diligent and conscious of it all the time. But for now, I’ve got the upper hand. My goal is to maintain this for life.
Even when I quit heroin and if I ever do decide to quit heroin in the future, I will never quit all drugs. If I have my way, I will die with a joint in between my lips and acid on my tongue.
Q4: What would it take to make you quit completely?
I made a vow, to myself and to my sponsor, when I started this whole experiment — “Can I be a productive member of society who supports myself and maintains gratifying relationships, and maintain a moderate heroin intake while being physically addicted?”
If it doesn’t pan out and I’m proved wrong, then I’ll stop. No waffling, no giving it a second go.
I’ll go to an inpatient rehab this time, followed by a sober living house if necessary, and kick this thing out of my life. I will not live the life of a stereotypical junky again.
As much as I love heroin, I love myself and my family more… and I will not put any of us through that again. That type of heroin addiction is hell.
There have been times in my life where living on the streets and turning tricks was preferred to quitting, where I would have done anything for a hit, and did just about everything for a hit. I disassociated myself from anyone and everyone who loved me.
When I think about everyone I’ve lost, it turns my stomach. If I thought I was heading in that direction again, that my current relationships were in jeopardy, I would quit heroin. In addition, if I am no longer able to support myself and make ends I will quit heroin. I will never again buy more heroin than I can afford, and I will never do anything illegal or immoral to procure drug money or drugs. No exceptions.
This is the only way I can maintain integrity within my use. I have no qualms breaking the law to buy drugs.
But beyond a personal protest against the prohibition of drugs, I do not want to live a life outside the law. Despite prolific drug use, which some people find immoral, morality and integrity are very important to me.
Everyone’s version of integrity and staying true to yourself is different. Personally, I don’t believe drug use makes you immoral or in any way limits one’s value as a person or is something you should be ashamed of – unless you are doing things on those drugs or to get those drugs that is not forthright or honest. If that begins to happen, I will quit.
Q5: If you don’t get high, why do you use?
Since I am physically addicted, if I don’t use, then I’m not functional. In my ideal world, I wouldn’t have to take heroin until the evening and weekends. I’d definitely take days off and not have to maintain an addiction.
But with the addiction comes a responsibility to maintain it. Some do this with methadone.
I could choose to go that route and use methadone during the day and heroin occasionally. But a methadone habit is much harder to quit than heroin. Withdraws are worse, the PAWS last 10x longer and are more intense, and while addicted, the opiate apathy is noticeably worse. So I’d rather not put myself through that if I don’t have to.
If it came down to money, I would switch before giving up and quitting outright. If I truly never quit, then it won’t be a problem. But since I’ve only been doing this new way for a year, it would be foolish to say that without a shadow of a doubt I can maintain lifelong use. So I think of my daytime use like methadone maintenance.
During the evenings and weekends, and when I go out to special events and things, I increase my dose to a recreational level. While it will never again be like it was when you first start and don’t have much of a tolerance (except for when I take a week or two off, those highs are the best!), it’s still enjoyable, I still get a small rush, it still improves my mood and helps me relax.
The relaxation is the real benefit for me. I work all the time. When I was working for a company, I’d log 50+ weeks regularly. Now that I’m working for myself, I honestly work from sunup to sundown. I’m trying to get this business running. It’s really important to me that I’m successful. I need to do this. So I’m throwing more than I even thought I had into it.
I’ve always tied my self-esteem up with my career. By the time I was 27 I was making a six-figure income. It was devastating for me when I lost my job. But now I’m so happy to be doing what I love and working for myself, I don’t want to go back to work for someone else. But I’m looking at these long hours as a short term thing until I’m more established.
Heroin gives me something to really look forward to at night. Something to help turn my brain off. To silence that little nagging voice that’s constantly saying “You could be prospecting new clients right now, or reading up on the latest industry news, or finishing that course work you signed up for, or doing housework, or walking the dog, or calling your family…. yadda, yadda, yadda…”
People use lots of things to silence that voice —alcohol, benzos, pot, SSRI’s, MAOI, ant-psychotics. I happen to use heroin.
Note on Question #3
While some of those relationships were mendable and back to normal, the people who I was closest to, the people I thought I’d share my life with until we cried at each other’s funeral, who were closer to me even than family, who were daily parts of my life, those are the relationships that have yet to be repaired and show no signs of healing.
It’s been years since I was in that place.
But the hurt I caused, no doubt because we were that close, apparently is unforgivable. It crushes me to this day; I’m tearing up right now, even.
The most devastating realization in my life so far has been that some mistakes I can’t take back. There is nothing I can say or do, no amount of pleading or begging or groveling that will undo those wrongs. If someone doesn’t want to forgive you, they won’t.
It’s not a concept I can easily wrap my head around because I’ve never held a grudge or not forgiven someone or cut someone out of my life who I cared for. Probably because I know what it’s like to make these kinds of mistake and so I have more of a tolerance for it. But while I can’t change the past, I can affect the future.
And I will not let history repeat itself.
The people that stuck with me and made it out to the other side, and accept the fact that I’m still using (heroin, at least, If I was to get back on tweek they might leave too), our relationship in most cases got stronger. And I will not lose them. I appreciate friendship and love more now than I ever had.
One of the most heart-wrenching moments in my life, one that turns my stomach just thinking about although many years have passed, is when my best friend, my companion in life, my soul mate, and even lover for many of our 14 years together, took me to dinner and said, “Me or heroin” and I didn’t even think about it. I stood up, said something like “I will not tolerate and ultimatum, no matter what it’s about.” And walked out.
From that moment, on she’s never returned a phone call, email or text, deleted me as a social media contact and removed herself from any social activity we were both a part, or cut me out if she had the power. No looking back, no second chance, no relenting. And that was only one of the three most important people in my life, each one, including my fiancé and bf of 7 years, ended that absolute and devastatingly. And it was all my fault.
Even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t true. That if she had asked for anything else, if she had said “me or –” to anything except heroin, I would have accepted the ultimatum without a second thought. I would have done anything for her at one point. But I was in such a dark place, I couldn’t see what I had to lose.
Living in a tent on Skid Row turning tricks for drugs was preferable to quitting.
I can justify what happened ten ways till Tuesday, as all addicts have a knack for doing. But in truth, the blame is squarely on my shoulders – for all of my broken relationships. And while I would never treat a friend with such lack of compassion and think their refusal to accept my apology harsh and unjust, it’s their right.
They don’t understand addiction or the complete and total hold it can have on you. I’m eternally grateful to my friends who did stick it out with me, some of whom are also recovering addicts, and my family who has unwavering support for me. They’d throw me in rehab tomorrow if they believed I’d come out and stay clean. But they are smart enough to know better and compassionate enough to accept me unconditionally.
Q6: Do you have a gf or bf? Are you bi? (You refer to a female soul mate in #3’s note but then say you have a bf/fianacé – so that’s why I ask…)
I’m bi. I’ve had 2 long-term girlfriends and 3 long-term boyfriends so far in my life.
Q7: To clarify, what does “tweak” refer to? A drug?
“Tweak” is just slang for meth. You are not the first person to ask me that; I get it all the time. But it’s so common to me, I think everyone knows it. A meth addict(or tweaker) is said to be tweaking, so meth is “tweak.” It a super common thing to say in the gay community; I think that’s where I picked it up. And they LOVE their meth.
Q8: Where does the name “Deemster Diva” come from?
Deemster Diva started on the Phish forum PhantasyTour.com. It’s a drug band message board and that’s where my scandalous reputation really started.
DMT is my favorite psychedelic drug. Actually, it’s my favorite drug, period. It’s the most powerful hallucinogen on the planet. Deemsterdiva is a slang word for it. I had a big reputation for loving them despite how intense they are and how bad they smell/taste. So Deemster Diva it was, lol.
What do you think about DD’s addiction?
Would you ever hire a freelancer who was an addict? Why or why not?
Do you have any skeletons in your closet that might “put off” potential employers? Care to share what they might be? (Sophie Lizard and I had a discussion about this a while back…)
Check out the other freelancers in this series:
If you want to raise your freelancing rates, read How to Ask for a Raise (and Get One!) from your #Freelancing Client.
If you want to know why you should be gathering testimonials you can use on your website, read about The Power of Client Testimonials.