Raving, drugs and the mid 30’s mother

I went to the Parklife festival in Manchester a few weeks back and while I had an absolute blast dancing around in the mud to some amazing music, I was also struck by the amount of kids completely off their face on some type of Class A drug. I say kids, they were clearly all over the age of 18, but I’m nearly 36 now so in my eyes they were kids.

There was an unconscious girl being carried out on a stretcher as soon as we walked into the festival, a few people throwing up, and thousands upon thousands of people with eyes like saucers and jaws going ten to the dozen. It was quite a sight, especially as I was relatively sober. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post berating the youth of today, far from it…this used to be me. I spent a large proportion of my late teens and twenties doing exactly the same thing. E’s were my drug of choice, and dancing all night in various clubs/festivals around the world were all I lived for.

I wasn’t a drug addict, but like most young people I used them recreationally in order to turn a good night into a great one. While I don’t want to paint ecstasy in a glowing light, after all, it is illegal and can sometimes kill, what I will say is that I have had some of the best nights of my life dropping pills, dancing and chatting absolute shit to all my mates. We were always careful, and we were always safe. My close circle of friends are close for that very reason. We feel like we’ve shared an experience that not many people have, and we’ve had such heartfelt conversations that have cemented our love for eachother in such a way that alcohol or sobriety could never have done.

That feeling you get when you’re on the dancefloor, the bass is pumping, and the rush of chemicals that starts from the tip of your toes all the way up to the top of your head is so intense, I’ve actually got goosebumps just thinking about it. And then to be surrounded by the people you love who are all experiencing the same thing, big massive smiles all round…wow, it really is esctasy. It was a complete escape from reality for a few hours, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my weekends.

However, as the old saying goes, ‘what goes up must come down’. The aftermath of a heavy weekend on E is awful. We usually took the edge off a comedown by smoking weed and listening to Massive Attack, but the dreaded Blue Monday (I actually always found Tuesday was worse) was a killer. As most ravers will tell you though, you were generally feeling better on Wednesday and by Friday night were raring to go again.

For me, my anxiety worsened after starting to do pills. In fact, my very first major panic attack occurred a week after a session. I have always been an anxious person and a natural worrier, so would I have had that panic attack anyway? Who knows. I definitely think the pills exacerbated the situation. After all, you can’t mess with brain chemistry without expecting any consequences.

Despite my anxiety, I carried on using E’s occasionally. For me, my friends, and every other clubber I knew, going to a club and dancing until 6am required some kind of stimulant. I tried it once with just alcohol and hated it. Pills and dance music just go hand in hand, the chemicals blend with the beats. Personally I loved the fact that they gave me so much confidence where I was always so shy in social situations. I’m looking back on it now in a kind of shimmery haze, where I existed in a happy dream world for years. While there were certainly moments like that, there were also some very dark ones.

Being sick, not being able to sleep, and covered in spots and cold sores were just a few of the side effects of caning it for too long. I had constant water infections as my immune system was so low, and my mental health deteriorated. While you’re high you think you’re on top of the world and it gives you the feeling you can do anything. I cheated on a boyfriend with his best mate for months as a direct result of these intense ecstasy binges. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I knew I had to stop.

It kind of all came to a natural end. The last pill I ever took was on my 30th birthday, and I didn’t enjoy it. It was too intense and I spent the night throwing up and wishing I could just sleep. We were talking about starting to try for a baby at that time too so that was it for me, my ecstasy honeymoon was officially over.

I class myself as a ‘semi-retired’ raver nowadays. My friends and I get together as often as we can for major club nights, gigs and festivals. I’ll never stop doing that because I love the music so much and it is such a release to be able to dance all your stresses away. You’ll find us dropping very different pills these days (we were home at 11pm from the festival taking vitamins and drinking tea)! However, the drug culture surrounding these events still exists, in fact it’s more prominent than ever (or am I noticing it more because I don’t do it?). Of course I’ve been offered them, but each time I’ve declined. It’s just not on my radar. I don’t need them anymore as I’ve found as I’ve got older that I can actually have a better time without them.

To be old and wise you must first be young and stupid

The actual thought of dropping a pill now fills me with absolute dread. Not just because of the risks involved in taking them, but because of Molly. At best I would have to deal with her the day after on a massive comedown, and at worst something terrible might happen to me and she would be left without a mother. Either way, it’s just not worth it. I used to take ecstasy to feel pure happiness and euphoria…but I have felt that without them. The moment I saw Molly for the first time was more intense than any drug I have ever taken, and absolutely nothing would ever top that.

I don’t believe in regret, it is a pointless emotion, and there is nothing about my past that I am ashamed of. I had some unbelievable times, too many to remember, and I’m so glad I did it all when I was young. I’m completely at ease with my role as a mum, and happy to just have the odd night out now and again. My hedonistic days are mostly relegated to looking at photos and occasionally whacking Trance Nation on at full blast. I had a little nostalgic moment the other day when I found Human Traffic (the ultimate film for the chemical generation) in a pound shop. I felt a sharp pang of sadness when I saw that, but then smiled. I was there, I did it all, and man have I got some stories to tell….

Any fellow ex-clubbers and now parents out there? Would love to hear your tales!


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