“The Addict Suite”
Not many people in my life know this, but around April and May of 2015, I began abusing Adderall again, after nearly one year of sobriety from the drug. I was teaching music at a school for students with emotional disabilities at the time. The intensely stressful nature of each workday took more of a toll on MY mental health (ironically) than I realized, and when I was pushed to my breaking point, I ended up convincing myself that drugs were a way I could push through.
Indeed they did, and my return to using this form of speed gave me incredibly manic highs that helped me “perform better at work”. However, on the inside, I was going crazy. I was very much self-aware of my problem, but I was writing music faster, and with a stronger intensity, than I ever had before. My inner conflict with both the great and terrible effects that this drug caused me manifested into the four songs we ended up calling “The Addict Suite”.
These two songs were written and recorded at the same time. I remember finishing the mixing of their instrumental compositions one night, and telling myself that I would record the lyrics the very next morning, at 5am, before work. How would I do this? By waking up with 30 mg of Adderall, of course.
This is exactly what I did- hating myself as I did so. Why was I using this drug, as I had convinced myself, for the sake of keeping my job and creating art? Why was I so comfortable with the highs, as well as the lows?
As I recorded the vocals to this song in the early morning hours, I rewrote the lyrics entirely. The original lyrics were about something completely different, but as the high kicked in that morning, I knew things had to change. I sang my ass off and wrote lyrics about my addiction, as I recorded. This was great catharsis. Getting all of the emotion out and into these songs helped me ween myself off of Adderall over the next month. For good this time.
I equate the sonic qualities and lyrical thoughts in “Buried” to that of one’s hellish 45 minutes or so before the effects of a pill have kicked in- after it has been swallowed, yet still during the last, and usually the worst moments of mental pain and stress that occur before the high takes effect. The acoustic guitar solo passage at the end of “Buried” will always feel to me like that final release of tension right before the high. It then connects to the beginning of “Relapsing” with the euphoria of the high, but with the tension of knowing that you have relapsed and fallen back into the hole, by the turbulence of the lyrics in its chorus. The second half of “Relapsing” is meant to create the come-down from the high, first reflected in the musical escalation of the bridge (the strongest point during the high), as it then morphs and calms into the “understanding” felt in both the reiteration of the chorus lyrics and smoother musical style of the outro: the come-down back into a sober mind…
…but, into the sober mind that craves the next high, and that is not able to feel anything resembling clarity. “Prism” brings back the lyrics from the beginning of “Maybe She Was Real”, questioning my decision to start a new life. These lyrics then dive into the ultimate low that one feels, and that I have so often felt, of craving a drug, but knowing it is wrong and destructive at the same time.
This short piece is a somber and stripped-down idea, simple and direct. I wanted to paint a picture of how I felt when I was confined to the psych ward of the hospital to which I was taken after I attempted to take my life in 2013. This “bare” and emotional representation of that experience seemed to be the perfect way to convey my feelings after having relapsed; I felt trapped and helpless, yet able to better understand myself through a “rock-bottom” feeling.