Now Or Never

Finding sleep and safety after the 'nightmare' of meth addiction

The best night's sleep come when you feel at your most comfortable and safe. It's a feeling that Winnipeg's Myron Bateman didn't know for nearly twenty years.

35-year-old Myron Bateman was addicted to meth for over 18 years

Myron Bateman shared his story with Now or Never host Ify Chiwetelu at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. (CBC)

The best night's sleep come when you feel at your most comfortable and safe.

It's a feeling that 35-year-old Myron Bateman didn't know for nearly two decades. 

Bateman's mother died when he was a teenager. That's when the Winnipeg man started to spiral into addiction. 

Myron Bateman in younger days. (Submitted/M.Bateman)

By 2000, Bateman was struggling with an addiction to alcohol. Soon after, he discovered the highly addictive substance known as methamphetamine. 

"I was searching for something else to spend my 10 dollars on," he said. "And then I bumped into somebody who was like: 'Try this out for your 10 bucks and come back and let me know.'"

"I ended up being at his door every six to eight hours."

For the next 18 years, Bateman was more concerned about getting his fix than resting or sleeping.

"Sleep was really irrelevant for somebody in that scene," he recalled. "My motto was: 'Sleep is for the dead. No rest for the wicked.'"

When night came, he would spend more time awake than asleep.

"My nights would [consist of] walking end-to-end of the city," he explained. "Just being fascinated with the euphoric feeling that meth gives you."

Instead of sleeping, Bateman would often spend his nights in a frantic state. 

"[I'd do things] like taking apart electronics and thinking I knew what I was doing," he said. "Or I'd end up drawing on a piece of paper and didn't realize how much time had passed. I'd drain a whole pen just drawing things that made no sense."

"The sun would rise and the sun would set and then finally that fix ran out or the money ran out," he continued.

"I'd be so exhausted and I'd come to Main Street Project and I'd be like: 'Hey I just need to sleep, eat,' and they'd say: 'Sure Myron, grab a mat at the back.'"

It was that kindness that brought Bateman back to the shelter in early Sept., 2018. He was in a meth psychosis. He was incoherent and hadn't slept in days. Peer counsellor Phil Goss encouraged him to check himself into rehab with the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. Goss was once an addict himself and is committed to helping others now.

For Phil Goss, psychosis followed long periods of sleeplessness after using meth. He spent several years behind bars before turning his life around. He now works as a peer advocate at Main Street Project. 1:57

After numerous overdoses and ending up in the hospital, Bateman knew he had had enough.

"What made me want to change my life was feeling depressed," he said. "That sense of hopelessness — that I wasn't going anywhere, and wondering 'Hey, am I going to wake up this day?'"

"I don't just want to exist. I want there to be a purpose in my path."

One of his big motivations is his family.

"I'm just proud to be a Bateman. Proud that I got those tools from my father mostly — like hard work," he said.

"You can accomplish anything you put your mind to and that's what I want to do in my journey through sobriety."

When Bateman committed to getting treatment at AFM, he was nominated to be a senior peer. It meant waking up fellow recovering addicts every morning, reminding them to start another day of sobriety, and leading the meetings.

"The agenda for the day is to wake up, have your shower, come down to the board room, offer tokens to clients that have passed the program," he said. "We pass them their gold coin and send them happily along their way." 

"After that we'd have lunch, more programming, counselling, meditation. At 3:45 we made a daily review and that would be the day."

Myron Bateman is thankful to Phil Goss of Main Street Project in Winnipeg for guiding him towards rehab at Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. (CBC)

Things have improved since Bateman entered treatment. When asked what constitutes a good night's sleep, he is quick to reply.

"The key to having a good night's sleep probably would be putting in a good eight or 10 hours of hard honest work," he said. "Just like everybody else in the whole entire world."

"It's been a very restless 18 years. The only time of peace and rest I got was down at Main Street Project," he said. 

"Now, at AFM, it's all peaceful. It's easy to go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 5:00."

Bateman is looking forward to someday having his own apartment, starting his own business and living a clean life.

"I like to think of myself as a gentleman, a good, solid person to have when you're scared, and a good listener," he added.

"I thank my mom for that."