The Observer (Kampala)

13 November 2012

Uganda: Spotlight - Now That My Pills Are Out of the Way

I wanted to scream out in frustration. I couldn't believe that I had gone through so much trouble to get the pills that Chris was now so casually confiscating but I knew that such an action would only reveal just how hooked on the pills I really was. Instead, I struggled to maintain my composure.

"That's really not necessary, Chris. I've promised to stop taking the pills; so, you'll only be straining your friendship with Dr John over something that we've already put behind us."

"Hmm, perhaps you're right," he said thoughtfully, and then went on: "Alright, I won't call John, but I will hang on to the pills to ensure you don't get tempted."

From the finality of his tone, it was obvious that I wasn't going to succeed in changing his mind any further than I already had; so, I let the matter drop. The next couple of days were a living nightmare; I struggled to deal with my emotions without the aid of the pills that Chris had hidden.

Wrapped up in a pain I couldn't describe, I buried myself away from the real world by taking care of C.G with an almost feverish compulsiveness, spending all my energies on him and none on myself.

I started to neglect my own personal care and it became a common occurrence for me to spend the entire day in a nightgown with dishevelled hair, and to go for days without crossing the front door.

Chris dismissed my deteriorating state as 'withdrawal symptoms', and since I was looking after C.G., didn't see cause for alarm or intervention. He handled the problems that arose from this state by coming up with innovative ways to get around them; when I stopped bothering with the cooking, he started buying takeaway on his way home, and when I stopped cleaning the house or paying attention to my personal appearance, he stopped inviting his friends over and spent most of his free time in bars rather than at home with me.

In his quest to hide what was going on, when his mother showed up at the house unexpectedly, Chris went as far as to ask me to remain out of sight in the bedroom while lying to her by saying I wasn't home.

It wasn't until I fell terribly ill and I was too weak to get out of bed without his support that he was forced to acknowledge that the situation had spiralled out of his control - he needed help.

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