There is a singular moment. That one moment. You know it. It's the moment where everything you did, created, and touched felt like it was nothing. That moment where a simple word could cause everything around you to come crashing. I write this from about that moment. I write this in opposition to those feelings.
Life is a complicated beautiful mess, and mine is no different. I am a person learning how to live with a past of addiction while dealing with moments of relapse in the present. I have multiple drugs of choice. There are two that are the most misunderstood and most stigmatized -- depression and crystal meth. Those are my main drugs of choice.
I have struggled with depression since my early teenage years. I was about 13 or 14 when I was able to actually name it -- with the help of therapy. Since my diagnosis I have struggled with drug use, sometimes self-medicating with illegal or underground substances to feel better and other times with prescription antidepressants that zombified my personality. Depression in itself feels like a being on a drug that I can't quite shake. I once described depression as a monster that hides under your bed. You turn on the lights, check under the bed several times, and even though you can't see it, it's still there.
During my fight with the depression monster, I would eventually find out he had a bestie that I would be equally addicted to. I was introduced to this substance at the young age of 18. At that age I thought I was able to conquer anything. I survived an abusive parent, being poor, in a neglectful family, and graduated high school (barely). I wanted to explore, which was really code for being reckless and dangerous. What started with a quick snort quickly spiraled into years of addiction, depression, and chasing acceptance.
Crystal meth was the substance I found to always be in close proximity to my depression. They were inseparable. Whenever I have a really bad meeting with the depression monster, the one thing I know that can numb me faster than any other substance is meth. Depression gives me the "excuse" to numb myself. Meth gives me the "excuse" to not leave the house for days on end. Either way it's an "excuse" -- or as a trained professional might recognize, it's an escape from my own reality. It never really makes things better, but it feels good at the time.
My most recent tumble in this cycle was earlier this year. I went out with some friends, had a few cocktails, and had a really good night. Then all of a sudden, the minute I got home, "the monster" (which is what I call my depression) jumped me from behind. I was sitting on the edge of my bed crying, unable to stop. I wanted to hurt myself. I looked for anything that could slice. I found nothing sharp enough. I hadn't self-harmed in almost four years, so this was a nervous breakdown. I woke up the next day so drained that it hurt to move. And along came a boy on Grindr.
Him: Did you still wanna come over and hang ouT?
Me: ABSOLUTELY I will be there in 5 minutes.
For those that don't know, using the capital "T" on hook-up apps typically is a way to communicate you want to use crystal meth. It's also referred to as parTy and play, chemsex, or Tina.
I knew in my heart of hearts that I shouldn't do it, that this moment of exhaustion and depression would pass. I simply needed to sit with these emotions and process them. But I wanted to numb all emotions I felt at that time. I wanted my energy back. My head was screaming that we can/should do this. My wants won over my needs. The feeling of becoming numb outweighed the stress of dealing with my emotions. This was my first relapse in a very long time. If you have ever been addicted to something, you should know, or maybe assume, that once you taste that "magic" again it never lasts, but you immediately start to seek out that same magic again. That one moment of wanting to be numb turned into a two-day-long binge.
I spent that time binge-watching porn in between finding more drugs to continue numbing my senses. I was eating very little (if anything at all) and drinking gallons of water. I wasn't able to even talk about what I was going through, because of all the stigmatization around being a black gay boy in a relationship with his depression who uses meth to numb the pain. Looking back at my long history with these two, I wish I would have known any other black gay boy going through even something remotely similar. I hope a young gay black boy is reading this right now. I hope you read this and know that someone stands with you, someone understands what you're going through, and someone accepts your story and narrative.
There are other resources out there if you feel the need to reach out to something or someone bigger. Resources that understand a black boy's struggle with meth and mental health. Those will be listed below, but I want to leave you with one last thought.
You are valid, your struggle does not define you, it's going to be OK!
For information about crystal meth, harm reduction, and black gay men, visit Harm Reduction Coalition.
For information and support in suicide prevention, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Trevor Project.