Ice-Induced Psychotic Episode: A (More or Less) True Story



“It’s hopeless!” he said, and when he lifted his face, he was crying.

“What’s hopeless?” I asked.

“I feel so empty!” he said. “I just want it all to end!”

“Minh,” I began, “Why don’t you put on a t-shirt and we’ll take a walk down to the Alfred Hospital?” I didn’t want him in the car in the event he freaked out, and the hospital was some distance away. I figured the walk might help him come down. If I tightened the brace, I should be okay.

“I can’t leave the house like this!” he said, tears coursing down his face. His nose had started to run, too. He sniffed, but the watery finger of mucus continued to crawl toward his top lip.

Three-day’s worth of stubble seemed to stick out of his face at every angle. Even cactuses are organized, I thought to myself.

“There is no way I can leave the house like this!” he said, slamming both hands, palms-down, onto the floor.

“What would it take to get you to leave the house?” I asked.

“At least a large vodka!” he said.

“Okay,” said I, returning to the kitchen.

“It’s got to be at least half vodka and half tonic!” he said.

As I opened the freezer for the vodka, I heard his bedroom window open. I let the door go and sprinted down the hall. My knee sang out. Pain squirted up my leg, through my groin  and into my gut.

Minh was half-in and half-out the window, one arm and leg on the bedroom floor, the other arm and leg outside on the narrow ledge. Three stories beneath him was a sea of concrete. The window slammed down, pinning him on the ledge like a four-legged Huntsman spider.

I hooked an arm under one leg and, without lifting the window, wrenched him back inside. I turned him and threaded both my arms under his, lacing my fingers behind his neck. I lifted him off the floor and carried him to the landing at the back door.

“I won’t be violent! I’m not resisting you!” he said. I dumped him on the landing and he scuttled backwards until his back was hard against the screen door of the neighboring apartment. He put his head in his hands and began to howl.

“Everything’s ruined!” he said.

“Come on mate, you’ll be okay,” I said.

“Well, I can’t stay living here now, can I?”

Getting rid of him was a bridge to be crossed later. For now, I had to prevent him killing himself in my house. “Minh, I’m going to call the ambulance.” No reply; just louder crying. “I’ll come with you to the hospital, okay?”


The ambulance arrived quickly. No sirens; they pulled up at the kerb and came up the stairs. I sure as hell wasn’t going to call the cops; I might run into someone I knew.

“Hi guys,” said the woman. “I’m Andrea, and this is Pete. You’re Richard?”

“And this is Minh,” I said, pointing at the crying, sniveling heap. Minh had his knees pulled into his chest and arms folded across his face.

“Hi Minh,” said Andrea. “How you going?”

“How does it look like I’m going?” he asked.

“We’re just trying to help you, mate,” said Pete, placing the first aid box on the stairs at his feet.

“I’m sorry,” said Minh, wiping his nose on his forearm and sniffing. He lifted his face. His eyes were like bloodshot ping-pong balls.

“What have you taken?” asked Pete.

“I’ve been smoking ice for the last few days,” he said, “And I think there was something not right with it. Afterwards, it left this yellow residue in the bowl, which doesn’t normally happen.”

I didn’t know much about users; most of my experience of meth related to chemists and dealers.

“This was in the pipe?” asked Pete.

“Yeah. And I went into my room, probably on Wednesday night, and I must have lost track of the time, and I don’t think I came out until this morning and when I did, I thought Richard had made up an elaborate conspiracy to get me out of the apartment.”

“We’re going to take you to the hospital in the ambulance, Minh. Is that okay?”

“Sure,” he said, sniffing back hard and spitting the muck over the railing.

“Can you get him some shoes please, Richard?” Pete asked.

I ran into his room and picked up the first pair of shoes I saw. I ran back outside, screen door clattering shut behind me.

“Here you go, Minh,” I said, holding them out.

“Not the G-Stars – they hurt my feet! JESUS!!!” The rage had returned. His eyes swelled up like beady, blood-streaked cue balls. Pete and Andrea both stifled a laugh.

“Do you want the blue Asics?”


I ran back to his room. New problem: Minh had lots of shoes. Green Asics and blue New Balance, but no blue Asics. I didn’t know what to do, so I took both.

“Do you want the green Asics or the blue New Balance?” I asked, holding both of them towards him.

“The blue ones! Why didn’t you just say, ‘the blue ones’?!” Minh snatched the blue ones and pulled them on without bothering with the laces.

“Should you tie the laces?” I asked.

“I’m going in an ambulance?” said Leigh, rolling his eyes. Andrea laughed and looked at Pete. He was older; he’d already had enough.

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