ICE is so aggressively attacked in the gay world and in the media.
When I first started using it, I had never really used drugs before. I had smoked a little bit of weed and drank alcohol, but nothing that has a Government-funded fear campaign to eradicate its use.
In an attempt to make myself not seem pathetic, I usually say ‘I just wanted to try it’. But the truth is, I had a boyfriend named Clarke*, who I had no clue was an ice user when we first started dating.
I had never been around ice before and seeing the pipe scared the shit out of me at first.
He was a troubled man and as time went on, he would start to ‘borrow’ money off me even though he had a stable job and I was on the dole. He would call it borrowing but he never actually paid me back.
I had just the right level of low self worth to never question why he would always borrow money off me.
It wasn’t until a year into our relationship that I discovered he was an ice user. He would always disappear off the face of the planet. When we made plans to have a date or for me to stay at his place, he’d vanish for days on end.
“Is he cheating on me?” I’d worry. I didn’t really talk to my friends about my relationship issues because I was still newly out to my family and friends, who didn’t take it well. I just assumed they’d already dealt with me enough that year.
One night when Clarke and I were supposed to see each other, he disappeared again. I went out and got drunk with my friends instead of sitting at home, worrying about it.
And then he rang me while I was walking home from the bar.
He told me he was “smoking some stuff” with his friends and I assumed he meant he was smoking weed. I joked that it sounded like he was “smoking crack” and then there was a long silence.
Instead of getting mad, my 19-year-old self was curious.
I wanted to know what all the fuss was about so I asked him if I could try it.
This seems monumentally stupid to most people but this is also how I started smoking cigarettes. It didn’t even take peer pressure – I’ve always just been a curious person, and what better than to try new things with the guy you think you’re going to be with forever, right?
When I first saw the pipe, I had no clue how to use it. It was actually frightening for me, and gave me vivid flashbacks to my high school’s drug education program where they try to scare you with videos of ‘junkies’.
At first, he would hold the pipe and lighter – all I had to do was inhale and exhale. I watched the crystals melt into a fluid and then eventually begin turning into a vapour. He told me not to hold it in because the crystals would reform in my lungs and “fuck them up good”.
I exhaled the vapour and then I laughed. I had tried ice. I felt amazing.
I never was a popular person in high school – I was actually the fat kid. Even though I had lost all my weight and was seen as attractive by people now, I still felt like that fat kid.
But that fat kid died when ice was in my system and I didn’t think that way anymore. Suddenly I had self-esteem. Selfies became a big part of my routine.
My routine was pretty mundane until using ice. I wasn’t in university or working at the time, I was living at home with my parents and played Call of Duty in bed all day.
I was diagnosed with depression about three months before my first use because of my lack of motivation to do anything. I sometimes saw my friends but most of the time I couldn’t be bothered leaving the house.
That all changed. I became more talkative and outgoing when I used ice. I don’t know if it was just a delusion or if it was real, but I suddenly felt like someone with a razor sharp wit and snappy comebacks. That person I had always envied.
I was surrounded by pretty shitty friends at the time who would always talk negatively about everything and never did anything with their lives. They would always talk about going to TAFE or university, but never actually did it.
They also had a knack for making me feel like I couldn’t do anything either, so why bother trying?
We would just sit there and drink all the time and reminisce about things that happened in the past. We were 19 and already reminiscing about our lives, and that was acceptable to me.
Ice took that away and I realised how depressing and repetitive the “remember when” conversations were.
Suddenly I had motivation and enough self-esteem to defy what people said to me. I enrolled into university and said to myself that I would stop using ice before it started.
I eventually broke up with Clarke* when university was beginning but I also didn’t quit ice like I said I would. I now had to find my own supply of shard since we had been using his dealer to get it – and Grindr was more than happy to supply me with dealers.
It’s actually easier to find ice on Grindr than it is to find weed. I would meet up with guys about once a month or so when I wanted to use. I had told myself that if I only used once a month there was no problem and I was going just fine.
One night I met up with a guy who was having a party. I didn’t see any pipes around and then I was led into the kitchen. I quickly realised they were not smoking, they were shooting up.
Needles scared the shit out of me but what did I do? I got them to help me inject.
One of them was a doctor so I deemed it to be the safest opportunity to shoot up if I was ever going to.
It happened two more times after that and on the last time, while I was in a public bathroom with a guy from Grindr shooting me up, I looked at the moths hitting the caged light bulb and I said out loud without realising, “this is the last time. I can’t do this anymore”.
He laughed and under his breath said, “everybody says that.”
I haven’t used since.
Reflecting on my use, there was major self-esteem and self-worth issues.
My environment and social surroundings were not turbulent but they were problematic
I didn’t have a particularly bad childhood and both of my parents loved me a lot. When people would talk negatively about me I used to fight and take it on board, I would believe that I was a shit person.
Ice took that away. And it hasn’t returned either.
It might have just come with age – I had self destructive behaviour for sure, but I knew my limits and I am grateful.
*Clarke’s name has been changed to protect his identity.