Monday, 29 October 2012

A Tribute For Two Amazing People

I had some terrible news last weekend.
Two very close friends of mine were killed in a car accident..

I've been trying to come to terms with this all week, I can honestly say I've shed more tears over the untimely death of these people than I have for family members that have passed.

They were called Cat Asche and Chris Bava.
I met them (I say met, more started talking online) about three years ago, I started talking to Chris originally I think from the 'Mindvox' Ibogaine mailing list.
His comments always made me laugh and I usually agreed with him 100%
He was a character, he invited me to join his facebook group the 'Ibogaine Survivors Club' and I duly accepted the offer!

Boy, am I glad I did, I've met and become close friends with so many people through that group!
It's funny, and even difficult for people around me in my real life to begin to understand what these people mean to me, especially Cat & Chris!
I started contributing anyway, when I first joined I was at a stage with my using that I had become totally ambivalent about recovery. I'd sort of come to the conclusion that I'd just never be clean.
Over the weeks and months I started to change my mind, these people, just by recounting their stories, inspired me to have another 'go' at getting clean.
The rest is history so to speak.. I started thinking about trying another iboga detox, I was given very honest opinions and experiences of Iboga, I'd done one flood before but it didn't work, I was coming off a hefty methadone habit though, plus heroin and crack.
The more I've learnt about the way iboga works, I now understand that it struggles with the long acting opiates, methadone or subutex.
So, with the groups support I began to stop using methadone, I got my MST prescription and used 600mg morphine daily for the next 18 months or so.

It must have been around then that David Graham Scott contacted me, he told me he was in the process of filming a follow up documentary to 'detox or die', the film he was in ten years ago, coming off methadone with iboga very successfully.
It all sort of fell together, we planned my flood and filming for mid August.
Cat put a call out in the group for help with costs, I wasn't working and just couldn't afford the £600 I'd need just for the medicine.
Amazingly people donated towards it!
I blogged about this before! ... Anyways, the majority of the money came straight from Chris & Cat, they were so incredibly generous I was humbled really.

So, I do my flood, great, I had one slip a couple weeks later, I was so pissed at myself!
It was around this time I confided my slip in one person in the group I thought I could trust, I had no idea she was quite so unpredictable at the time but she preceded to tell people, including Cat & Chris.
She forced my hand, I was going to tell people in my own time, sadly I had to then  write to people privately and make a public statement.. (I think I blogged about all this too but bear with me!)
I wrote personally to Cat & Chris, scared that they would reject me or be angry that they had given me money and I had let them, myself and the group down!
I actually left the group, my support group so that this girl wouldn't have to 'cover my lies' as she put it.
Chris had made me an 'admin' of the group some time before too so I naturally gave that up too.

So, You know what they did?

Put me straight back in the group, re-instated my admin role, gave the girl that caused the problem 24 hours to apologise, which she didn't so they took her out the group!
They then told me that I was a valuable member and that he wouldn't hear of me leaving and instead of being angry they offered to pay for my next treatment if I wanted to try again!
Just constant, unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness with no judgement or anger!

I was so bowled over..!

Anyway, the point of all that was to illustrate what kind of people they were.
Chris had a very colourful past too! He was an international drug smuggler back in the day, really leading the life, sailing round the world, driving Harleys and living off China White heroin.
He had a wake up call when they got busted, he ended up doing six years in a federal jail!
He's often recount the story of at intake he told the guard that he had a hefty CW heroin habit on top of 80mg of methadone and that he would need some kind of maintenance medication. The reply was 'welcome to the big time son, here we go cold turkey!'
He had no choice in the matter!
I think he said he didn't really recover properly for a year!

So, during this time he met a guy that practised Siddha yoga, he talks of a spiritual awakening and he was hungry for more. It was a huge turning point in his life, when he got out he went to India and became a 'seeker'. Living in ashrams with guru's .. He often said he loved the 'Seva', basically service, helping others, he got a buzz from it. He was totally clean for 17 years.

After meeting Cat in Australia they moved back to the states and opened a nightclub in the LA artist district, they did this for a few years, putting on the annual burning man 'decompression' event.
During this time both of them struggled with their own demons, Chris relapsed on heroin and Cat methamphetamine mainly.
They had moved to Tijuana, Mexico a few years ago to clean up.
Chris underwent treatment with iboga a few times and readily admits it didn't work for him, he could see the potential though and advocated it's use for others after that.
He eventually got clean in an 'intervention' style Mexican rehab. The family took him down to this beautiful looking clinic which boasted equine therapy and a swimming pool and gym.
As soon as the family left he was basically bundled into a sub-terranian, cockroach infested cellar. locked up and left for three weeks!
Cat would call to see how he was doing and would be told 'Chris is doing great! He's been riding horses today and sends his love'

As horrendous as this sounds, he attributed his getting sober to this place, he was always saying 'when the addict is ready the solution will appear'

Cat & Chris spent the last few years opening their home to addicts coming for treatment in Mexico, they would arrange cheap treatments and feed and home people needing help.
They loved animals and would take in strays, they had eight cats in total and two lovely little dogs.
Chris would spend a lot of time in Zone Norte, the red light district of TJ, befriending the homeless deportees. There was a trust there and Chris started to photograph them with stunning results!
He had a blog here
They were both working with a small charity called Prevencasa which helped the deportees and sex workers with clean injecting equipment and clothes etc.
If anyone is looking for a way to donate and continue his work seriously consider donating to them!

They were both artists in their own right too, Chris's brother Mark was an amazing sculptor, Mark sadly died in the accident too.

It's come to light after their passing just how extensive their 'Seva' was. There are lots of people they supported financially and emotionally, never expecting anything in return, they were truly selfless people and we should all take a lesson from them!
Cat was the kindest, sweetest woman I've ever known, so gentle and caring. She was always there for me when I needed advice or support. I'm so glad I got to say how much I appreciate them in our last few messages and I got to give her some money back too which felt good, I was sold by someone that she was very touched I had as 'most people never bother' .. It made me cry hearing that actually.
Cat had lent me the money to pay for a new piano recently, she was really keen I got back into playing again, it's made me more determined than ever to play more music!
I'd asked her to request me a song and I'd record it for her. Sadly she never got to hear it but I recorded it the next day and uploaded it to youtube.. It's a bit messy with a few mistakes but it was a first take recording and I was trying hard not to cry! Here it is anyway

I could write more on these two, there was so much more!

Although what has happened is incredibly shocking and sad there were some blessings, they went together being the big one. I think one passing would have been too painful to bear.
They had also just gone to see Bob Dylan in concert so had had a great night!

They weren't even driving when this happened, they had pulled over to the hard shoulder for a rest and were ploughed into from behind by a little Honda doing 65mph.. (the driver survived)

It's been interesting to see peoples behaviour too, people that have acted with little respect and taken stuff from their house within a day of the news fills me with rage, people they had supported financially for the last six months too!
But in general the group has become tight and we've all supported each other.
As the only other admin at the group I've had to continue day to day admin duties, all pretty stressful!
Chris used to do it, and although he rarely chastised anyone publicly and he always managed to keep up the appearance of little intervention in the running of the group, they both spent hours and hours in PM with members and 'vetting' new requests to join as sadly facebook is full of trolls, people that just want to cause trouble.
I feel as though Chris has entrusted the group to me and I will do everything in my power to make sure the group continues.

Well, I only covered a fraction of what I wanted to here, I'll leave you with some of Chris's best quotes!

  • "Time, time ... so much to do and so little of it. :))"  Chris Bava 09/22/12

  • "There's a thin line between breakdown and breakthrough." Chris Bava 10/10/2012

  • "Speaking of twilight zone, how about deceased people still posting on FB?! Christopher Hitchins still posts and a local Mexican artist we knew (who died last year) just updated his cover pic. It's kind of charming. I put a 'like' anyway smile" Cat Asche, 10/10/2012

  • "We're all going to lose parents, loved ones and family members .. that's life. As addicts we're or the addiction is always looking for a reason to re-establish or continue itself. You certainly can get by without having to shoot heroin, first make sure you prevent that from happening." Chris Bava, 10/11/2012

  • Test, whether it is or isnt who can say but it's life compressed in months .. and it seems to happen, if you can hit the warrior switch like I mentioned before in other words tell god to "bring it" it will all seem not so bleak and devastating .. anyway that was my trick ... and I'd say to myself "savage grace, savage grace" ... in the world of yoga they say it's the shkati burning away the samskaras .. they call it tapasya .. or doing austerities .. passing thru difficulties as a means of purifying .. it worked for me and believe it or not there's a kernel of truth to it." -  Chris Bava

  • " No? Because the truth is we're aren't anybody .. whatever importance we ascribe to ourself is a fantasy, it has no importance to anything other than to a tiny blip in time .. primarily "our" time ... it's easier to let go as a the nobodies we are." - Chris Bava

  • Yes, and I think advice good or bad is about the same, worthless, if there is any benefit in the group it's not getting advice but maybe a kind of resonance with others that makes some people not have to feel so all alone ... everything else is fluff, entertainment while something else beneficial could be going on for a few who might otherwise be on the tipping point. Advice is the worst kind of helpfulness, unless someone specifically asks for it and even then, who really pays attention or uses it?" - Chris Bava June 24 2011

  • "All I know is one day you'll be whistling along with all the time in the world & at some point you'll wake up with a start to realize there's no going back and now you're like an asteroid hurtling helplessly through space toward your demise where the end could as well be today as tomorrow. Some days it's alarming, others exhilarating but time & life become vastly different from when mortality was just an abstraction, something far off and unimaginable somewhere on the other side of my universe.  We're all doing time and living under a sentence of death, if you're lucky you'll find out that you're nobody or you'll be cursed in believing that you were somebody that did something remarkably important."                      -  Chris Bava 9/23/2012

  • "Screwballs, and gangsters" had to go into centro yesterday to pick up a young man from Boston who is here for ibogaine treatment while waiting I crawled the car around the deep back streets on the city, Cat asked why I'm attracted to the worst sections of the city. I think I find the best stories there written on the faces, streets and walls ... life's pathos so obvious here. Mine breaks more for the animals too, for me the saddest thing of all is the innocent beautiful look in the eyes of birds and all the animals suffer illness & pain with such dignity, it seems.Maybe this tragedy will teach people humility, though I kind of doubt it.  xocb " - Chris Bava , June 30, 2010 (he's referring to the animals hurt in the oil spill )

  • "I dont feel any need to sit for formal meditation, it sometimes just comes over me. I prefer the very late hours too (or very early) and seems regardless of when I go to sleep I wake up around 3 or 4. I think in India they called it the nectar hours when the world around you was asleep, considered an auspicious time to be awake. That was the thinking around the ashram anyway. Once you become tuned into a particular teacher, I like the concept of the teacher being not the person but the resonance between sage and seeker then I guess that resonance would be there whether the entity was or not." - Chris Bava, June 21, 2010

  • "it's not necessary to have daily interactions (with a guru) .. maybe a few to develop a kind of bond .. or even online .. by asking questions, something happens .. anyway, it's all about a bond .. I suppose that isn't confined to time and space but happens more often in time and space...a guru isnt a person it's a resonance, a principle that will inevitably cause a lot of trouble for you ... a good teacher will always." - Chris Bava, August 15, 2012

  • "Yeah, I understood your question and actually feel it silly to think somehow meditators will automatically be spared life's unfortunate circumstance because they sit regularly doing whatever they do to meditate. Delirium is as much part of the universe as daffodils and bliss, why is that one spared and the other isn't? The better question would be "Why not?" So, someone falls, becomes confused and then delirious in hospital they'd not only have to feel humiliated enough by the experience but also made to feel guilty because they somehow fell short of something they should've been better at or doing more of. Somehow they screwed up the deal and it was their fault. Since I turned 50 I've been saying intentional communities should to be set up, run by seniors for seniors in a loose, hip way that would appeal to our generation of fringe people. Probably doesn't help that hospitals look and feel the way they do, sterile, scary with staff too stressed out and busy to be personable and why the many who go to hospitals for a 'bad' acid trip wind up getting worse and given awful anti-psychotic medications. I bet that'd eliminate a decent portion of the nightmare. Community can do wonderful things. I used to be able to stay awake until all hours, and sleep few. Now I have no control, I fall asleep relatively early and wake up very early. I guess this lack of control comes with age, though I believe our sense of control is just an overlay on whats really in control anyway. xocb" -Chris Bava , June 22, 2010

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Just a quick post.

My old psychiatrist, Vanessa Crawford is now on twitter!
She is seriously the first and only doctor that I felt really gave a shit about me.
Sadly due to NHS budget cuts she left east London and went to work for another trust.
A real shame, she's sorely missed at my local addiction unit.

She's highly respected in her field, addiction, regularly giving talks at conferences etc
She's a credit to her profession.. If you hadn't noticed I think she's bloody marvellous! Haha

So, yes, she's on twitter now, under the username 'addictionpsych'
She's happy to answer questions about drugs, addiction treatment in the UK and so on
I highly recommend you follow her!

While your there, I'm on twitter too as 'exheroinjunkie'

That's all for now folks! :)