Let me begin by saying that this post is my experience and it is different for every person. I am not using this platform to glorify the use of illegal substances, it’s not to paint this amazing picture of happiness, I’m doing this because so many people judged and labelled me. I want people to see just how many of us hide it so well and make you think that everything is just fine. The main thing I want to get from this post is understanding.
What I want to speak about is where I was at in this stage of my life, what was happening, why I turned to this drug and how it helped. So I guess this is where I lay all the cards and begin this interesting story. I had just turned 18 and was well and truly on the party scene, I often overcompensated for my lack of confidence. I was tall, fat and wore glasses so my confidence was nowhere to be seen, yet on top of that I was dealing with the ideas of sexuality, I was gay and ashamed. To me this was not something that was normal and something my family wasn’t going to be ok with, I often found myself dating girls to hide this and turning to various substances to dull the pain I felt.
The feelings I got at the thought of disappointing my family were far too much for me to handle, in turn I found that I was turning to drugs like cocaine to numb those thoughts. Although as the situation changed so did the drug, if I was fighting with my parents weed was usually enough. The situation was getting worse for me, the fighting was now constant as well as my internal struggles becoming increasingly confusing and I soon discovered that these substances couldn’t stop me feeling this hurt. I decided at this point to embrace the possibility of being gay, so to take my mind off everything I went to Oxford Street.
This was my first time going to a gay club and it was my first time being surrounded by people I could identify with. It was a rush for me because it’s like nothing you have ever experienced, this was also pre lockout laws so the partying went on forever. It was one of the best nights and I could feel myself becoming content, I met someone that night and in a bid to keep the night going I ended up going home with him. This one night was about to change my life for the next few years and I couldn’t see it coming. While I was at this persons house we continued drinking, we even bought a few bags to share with each other. We really kept that party going and all of a sudden the sun was rising and we hadn’t slept. That morning I felt like everything was going back to normal for me, I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t get back to that content state I was in the night before.
Having not slept at all and needing to go to work for the day I was up for trying anything to get me out of this mood. It was about 8am and I was handed a clear glass pipe, not asking questions I thanked him and assumed it would help me through the day. I began to smoke whatever I was handed and within about 15 minutes I was starting to feel alert, it eventually felt like I hadn’t been out at all. As I kept smoking I realised I was thinking clearer, I was even reflecting on issues in past as well as things I needed to truly focus on. Over the next few months this guy became a regular smoking buddy, which in my mind would mean it was only social and there was no way I could ever develop an addiction.
This went on for months and for once I felt happy and wanted, this was obviously because of the drugs and I soon found myself slipping back to that dark place I knew all too well. I started becoming dependent on this drug, cloud nine vanished faster and faster and as a person I began to fall apart. All those amazing feelings I had experienced were disappearing, the clarity and energy was gone and it became a matter of getting the next hit. Things were getting worse with my family and I soon found myself in that depressive state once again, yet instead of going to get help I started to smoke more and more. Whenever I smoked this drug I was looking to regain that feeling of being on cloud nine as well as trying to get as far away from reality as possible, it was my happy place, an alternate universe where I wasn’t experiencing these issues.
That may seem incredibly selfish and in all honesty, everything I was doing at that time was exactly that. I’d spent so long trying to impress everyone else, trying to be the perfect son or boyfriend and I was too blind to see that I was doing the complete opposite and really messing people up in the process. My relationship eventually fell apart and my work started to suffer as well. The problem with being addicted to something like this is that no matter how bad things get you always think the next high will make it all go away. So I continued to chase that high until it got so bad that I was forced to leave my job, this was a job I had been at for four years. My work took a horrible nose dive and there was no point in me being there any longer, I finally got the wake up call I needed and chose to get clean and put my life back together somehow.
Even though I had never been close to certain family members it still really hurt to see how far away I had pushed them. I never really stopped doing drugs but at least this time it really was for social reasons (no excuse I know!), in saying that I was nothing more than MDMA and weed so it was hardly up to the same level as ICE. My one major downfall was that I never really dealt with all those underlying issues completely. This is where we fast forward to 2016, I’m now 24 years old and I was coming up to 3 years since I’d regularly used the drug although I had a few slip ups along the way. I now faced a new test in my life and found myself add odds with people I loved and respected, information was coming to me that I didn’t necessarily want nor ask for.
I’d not really been drinking much or doing any drugs in a bid to really clean up my act, work was increasingly stressful and unbearable yet I was trying my best not to focus my energy on that. The information that was really going to test me came from a family member that wasn’t aware of what I did and didn’t know, I found myself being told at a family event that my father was in fact not my father. I played it off to avoid awkwardness, but while doing that I was processing just how much this information was going shake me. I messaged my aunt later that night, she’d been with me but I wanted to avoid creating a big scene. Soon after sending that message I got a call from my grandfather, to say it was unexpected is an understatement and in my mind I knew this wasn’t going to be good. They have always been blunt and to the point and nothing was different this time around, we said our hellos and got straight to the matter at hand.
I will never forget the wave of emotion I was overcome with, between the tears I was actually thankful for the honesty, angry at the lies and then found myself wanting so many questions answered. Naturally at that point I turned to the one thing I’ve always relied on, I drank 3 bottles of wine in at a very quick pace to the point that if I wanted to go to another room I had to crawl. Over the next few weeks I was increasingly testy and drugs and alcohol were slowly working their way back into my life. As more information came to light and tensions grew worse I found myself going all the way back to where I was years before. I couldn’t function without something in my system, I didn’t want to talk to people about it and I certainly didn’t want to personally deal with it at all.
I guess what I am trying to show in this post is that for the most part I was completely normal by societies standards. I’ve been able to hold a job for most of the time I’ve used and I still managed to have a life outside of this even if I was medicated for much of it. My friend Jodie put it into words the best while we were discussing this issue. “As soon as you mention those words (drugs or mental illness) you’re shoved into a box and left there. Regardless of who you are, you are given this label that people use to put judgement on you”. The problem is that this is so true, it’s what stopped me from reaching out and talking for so long. The fact I could never be 100% honest pushed me further into that box. I ended up having a full blown breakdown, I went crazy and I can say that it’s the best and scariest thing I have ever experienced.
All of a sudden everything was out there, no more hiding from my fears or people and at that point it felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. For the first time I was letting all that pent up emotion out, of course I understood the severity of a breakdown but I was finally doing something I’d never done before and that was admitting I wasn’t ok. It should never come to that though, there is such a negative stigma attached to addiction and the people you think are there for you often distance themselves from you. Sometimes what people need regardless of addiction is a shoulder to lean on and someone to listen without judgement.
Some have a better experience than I did but what people need to know is that you never have full control of a drug like this, it sneaks up on you and takes hold when you least expect it. If we drop all these stereotypes people will be more open and willing to discuss their struggles, they’ll be more open to getting help and getting better. Going to get help will never truly work unless the person wants help, forcing us or judging us will just push us further away. Most importantly though remember that absolutely ANYONE can struggle with drug addictions of any kind, that mum, the CEO of that major company and even that teenaged family member. There is no type when it comes to drug addiction, so just make sure anyone going through this knows they have you to talk to and confide in if needed.
I’m going to end with an apology to anyone I hurt in those dark times, my anger and craziness was never directed at any of you. I was in my own world and it was imploding in front of me. Thank you to Jodie who was has been a massive rock for me in the last few months as well, you are truly appreciated and the respect I have for you is mental xx.