This experience was shared by a young, queer Māori man as part of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Aids Foundation and NZ Drug Foundation.
The next round of Rewired starts early September. Find out more and register here.
My life hasn't always been normal. And that's OK, I like it like that.
As a kid I was incredibly smart but always felt like I didn't quite fit in. In my late teens, I was introduced to many things by my peers. Drinking, smoking cigarettes, half a pill, a whole pill, sparkles, disco-lights, saunas.
I finally felt a sense of homecoming.
These people were just like me. I fit in. They understood me, my new found family.
A couple of my older friends had a bag of drugs and injected it. And I eventually followed suit. Everything in my life was going so well, a little try wouldn't hurt right?
Worlds opened up from that moment. My third eye, my pineal gland, my asshole.
Not only did I feel connected, I felt fierce, glamourous, and ultra popular.
Yes I cracked a few fabulous jobs and made some money over the years. Dabbling, thinking I was mature now and in control.
My career was booming, and I started using more and more to be fierce again. I started injecting others, getting deeper into debauchery. My trips to the city became greater in number.
I had months where I can't even remember anything.
But my life was crumbling around me.
My pretty friends became few. I was using the excitement of sex acts to give myself greater worth. Then all the bullshit started arriving. Putting myself in situations where I hadn't always given consent.
Confused, I lost everything. Homeless. I fell from the ivory tower.
I used grinder to get to the next sex party for free drugs, a shower, and charge my phone. I was pretty, but I was cooked.
The comedowns were getting longer.
One time I'll never forget was waking up being stuck to frozen concrete. It was pretty scary. I often would find myself roused by the police or paramedics. So I carried a note on me with instructions if I had died.
Then came seroconversion. HIV.
I was alone.
The sleep deprivation meant that everything I saw on TV, every person in public, every word in a random book was directed at me. Thinking all these people were on the roof, under the floor, inside the mattress, in the next room.
I wasn't having fun at all.
I couldn't get hard and I must have looked ghastly. Sores on my tongue talking absolute rubbish. Could not have been fun for the other guys.
I had had enough.
100 steps forward, 50 back, 20 forward, 10 to the side.
I had to find new ways of doing things. I need to give it up or die, probably soon.
A handful of incredibly patient, compassionate and resilient people became my angels. I let them come into my life and I apologised when I fucked it up.
I kept trying. I didn't need to prove anything to anyone.
The shallow ones, they fizzled out pretty quick.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Those endorphins are the best high.
Listening to my gut I could see my potential when I put myself to good use. When I don't take drugs, it's like I have all the good luck, and all the bad luck when I start to use again.
I have a new relationship and a new job. My partner doesn't use drugs and that helps me by giving me a safe place to dream of a new life. I want a house, car, a dog and kids. I can't promise that it won't happen again, but it doesn't fit in with the vision that I have of my future.
Better known as party ‘n’ play or PNP here in New Zealand, chemsex refers to combining certain drugs with sex, and is associated pretty exclusively with men who have sex with men.
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