I am 43 years old and I was born in Japan.
I grew up in a middle class conservative family. I lived in a good home, was provided with a good education, and was raised with very high standards of social morality.
When I was 18 years old, I came out as “gay”. My parents were not happy about it. My mother especially felt guilty and assumed full responsibility for the situation. She blamed herself as well as me.
She believed that being gay was a disease or a mental illness and even tried to place me in a mental health institution. This was a very difficult time, and we had a lot of drama about this issue.
I had always been a “good boy” my entire my life and had a very good reputation for doing the right thing. Although I started smoking tobacco; I only did so at the legal age and I never touched any illicit drugs. When it came to drugs, I always said “No thanks, I am not interested.”
To be honest, I always looked down a bit on people who: used drugs, who were alcoholic, or who were living by lower standards etc. It could be from the influence of my strong Japanese culture.
The problems between my parents and I never went away. They struggled to accept me.
When I was 27 years old, I finally ran away from Japan and came to Sydney, Australia. I started to explore gay life and met a guy. We had a great relationship for six years. But the second relationship I had in Australia was not great. We were together for three years and I genuinely cared about him and gave 100% of my energy towards our relationship. But this relationship had very ugly ending. He kicked me out from his house where I was living.
He told me that he never trusted me and that he would always worry about my HIV status… because yes I was HIV positive. I had been living with HIV for a long time. This relationship was a traumatic experience. I made my mind up to not have a relationship again.
So I started to enjoy single life and began hooking up with many guys. It wasn’t too long before someone offered me the drug ice. After the way my awful relationship ended, I was really sick of being a “good boy”. I wanted other experiences, and I was curious about drug use. So I started smoking ice with sexual partners.
The experience was great. There were always many people around when I used drugs and I could have amazing sex as well. So two months later I tried injecting ice. I started partying every two months and before long it was happening more and more. It became every month, every two weeks, and then every weekend.
Two years after my first experience with ice, I was injecting at home alone almost every day. I was totally isolated from the outside world and I was really alone…
In this period, my life was just about sex and drugs – that’s all. Nothing else was important.
During my drug use I had very unpleasant experiences. I have decided not to use drugs anymore. But I have never regretted my journey around drug use and recovery.
I realised I started to feel someone monitoring me, and I started to hear the voices of people whispering. The voices got stronger and began to criticise everything I did – my drug use, my cooking, my cleaning, my behaviour – everything.
Looking back now I understand what the voices were. As I mentioned before I grew up believing in a high social morality, and that everything had to be perfect. So I felt I was failing in every way possible. The voices whispered that I was a bad person, that I was rubbish, and that I did not deserve my Australian citizenship (which I had only just received).
Now I know that the voices were a drug- induced psychosis, coming totally from my inner mind. The voices became overwhelming and were whispering to me all day, every day. In the end I could not stand it anymore, and finally attempted suicide.
I was hospitalised in a psychiatric emergency care centre for a few days. I was crying, crying, crying for 5 days….
When I was discharged from the hospital I was given a range of support service information. I decided to try and get into a residential therapeutic community rehab. I contacted them but there were no spots available.
During this time I kept drug free, because that was part of the eligibility to get into the rehab centre. For over two months I called the rehab centre to try and get admitted. But I could not get in.
I gave up. I started back into my old patterns and my life returned to sex and drugs. I was repeating exactly the same things, and the voices came back. I was in a lot of pain.
This continued for eight months, and again I wanted to disappear from this world. I was crying at home alone and passed out. But the next day something clicked in my head and I decided to contact a different rehab centre.
I was so fortunate that there was a spot available for me. So two days later I packed my bag and stayed in the residential rehab for six months.
One of the good things about the rehab was that I was able to be totally isolated from the outside world. So there were no triggers or temptation to use drugs. Centrelink paid for the cost of rehab directly from my Newstart allowance. I could focus living there without drugs and facing my issues.
Everyday there were group sessions where we shared our stories. I heard many unexpected stories from people who had been through terrible things in their lives. I used to judge people for living differently to me. I have learned the importance of not judging people without knowing their whole story.
Everyone has their own journey and this needs to be respected.
For the six months that I lived in the residential rehab, my head totally cleared. I was able to think more clearly and I gained confidence to live in the outside world again without drugs.
It is now four years later.
I have got the best job, a little bit of savings, my own car, and a good place to live with my dogs.
During my drug use I had very unpleasant experiences and I have decided not to use drugs anymore.
I have never regretted my journey around drug use and recovery. It was a good opportunity to stop and look back my life, gain personal resilience, and increase my acceptance of others.
I have more respect and kindness towards others and I have also grown into a much better person.
Even though now is not a perfect time, I am still having the best and happiest time of my life.
There are many different types of support available. For example counselling services, peer group sessions and residential rehabs (even with residential rehabs there are many different methods they use). Until you find right service you are comfortable with, shop around!
If you are thinking about stopping, you are already in right place. You have started the journey.
It may be very slow to progress, it may be backward. But this is the journey. Don’t give up the journey and take it easy.