Trigger Warning: Mentions of drug abuse, sexual assault and violence
He said, “Try it once”
“What is it?” I enquired
“This is just like poppers, it will make you feel good”, he assured
There was a pause. He knew I was confused.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“It’s nothing like that, but I am not sure about it”
“Okay, I will smear a little in your cigarette and you smoke, it’s like weed, don’t worry”
“Just once! You will like it …!”
“Okay! Okay! Just once…”
One smoke led to a streak and there was no turning back. I got used to it in no time and was injecting!
I was born in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. Raised in a conflicted region, it was the drugs and guns which were a part of Manipuri Society then. My only dream was to leave my state to pursue my higher education. I was lucky enough to be born in a family which gives education the first priority. I left Imphal in 2007 for my studies and shifted to Mumbai in 2013. I didn’t like the city at all. Being from a place where there were more trees than people, Mumbai was a cultural shock. More people but nobody seemed to care for each other. There were lesser trees and it seemed there were lesser hearts too.
I met a man, and he forced me have bareback sex. I knew about HIV precautions but he was adamant enough and I was ignorant and gullible, indeed a guy from the hills who believes and trusts people easily. One of my friends on knowing I did unprotected sex took me for testing. However I had to be under Post Exposure Prophylaxis for 28 days. I wished the guy whom I once fell could show up and test himself too to support me and avoid my PEP experience. Those days were hell. It screwed up my mind, health and work. I died every day. I did learn a lesson. Don’t trust people easily!
It did not stop there, one bad experience led to many and the trust in people had a final word. Sadness led to Depression. I never realized I gave up on everything. I started hating my life. I loathed going out, I started analyzing people, I could easily reject people and people also started rejecting me. Among the crowd I met another guy. Besides all the odds, I met him and on the way fell for him, again. I started meeting him regularly and in the meantime he offered me a sort of powder. I asked about the substance and he said it was MD. On refusal to inhale, he smeared it in the cigarette and offered me to try. I smoked and it gave me a kick. A kick of feeling relieved and excitement. A kind of enhancement in our love making. However with the increase in the usage, I started feeling restless and my sleep disturbed. I tried to quit but by then I was addicted to the man and the meth. It took two years of my life, two overdoses with hospitalization and two suicide attempts. I was almost thrown out of my college. With dozens of counseling & therapy sessions, medications, relapse, changing cities and meet ups with many mental health professionals, I fought back to my life. I accepted all my ignorance and vulnerabilities and life gave me a third chance.
I always believe It’s better to be late than never. We all often feel vulnerable at one point, but isn’t it human to feel that way? We are also made to feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But if we carefully think, don’t you think It is a sign of strength? It only shows we can take care of ourselves even in the worst phase. Self-care is not selfish. Love yourself first, others can wait.