I think it’s probably safe to say that, after many years of personal trauma and much struggle with myself mental-health-wise, I at last feel, aged 45, in May 2004, that I am making quite a few significant inroads regarding my overall sense of ‘well-being’. In addition I feel that there has definitely been a big improvement in my general attitude towards what life may throw at me in the months and years to come!!
Although I have progressed on so many psychological fronts over the last few years, this is also more than down to the unstinting and extremely loyal support of my very good friend and, as he has become over a period of time, my ‘confidante’, David. David and I originally met in February 2002, in a pub in Cambridge, where I have now been staying, away from London, for the best part of 12 years. In fact he now practically lives with me and acts for the most part as a kind of unofficial ‘carer’ to me. We were both in effect suffering from our own loneliness in our separate lives, when a mutual friend first introduced us. David has given me some extremely sound advice since we originally came together. He is 60 this October and he has seen rather more of life than me, seeing as I was relatively isolated as I went through some extremely tough periods in previous years.
I certainly feel extremely fortunate to have met him at all, at what was really quite a crucial period of personal development for me! We’ve also virtually never had a cross word to say to each other in our time together, so equable are our personalities. I am certainly not given to nearly as many ‘mood swings’ as was the case before and his calming influence on my life generally has much to do with this, in addition to the fact that I have done quite a bit of personal development work on myself, with various amounts of effective input from several professional people including my CPN and my psychiatrist whom I have seen for over 20 years. At some point he may discharge me from his care if I can maintain my recent good improvement!
As a teenager I could have looked forward to life eagerly. However, everything went so badly wrong for me mental-health-wise in London in 1974 when I turned 15. I recall with some angst how everything in my life came to a grinding halt at this time in terms of expectation and general enjoyment of life. I began to find that I was no longer able to function in a reasonable way: my thinking became very clouded, I lost my enthusiasm and hope for life completely, indeed to such an extent that it became necessary for me eventually to be placed in several hospitals and clinics. Suffice it to say, I had no option but to leave school after my O’ level exams. I couldn’t have any kind of normal relationship with anyone as I was too caught up with myself. It is only in the last five or six years that my condition began to improve, and this was slow enough to start with.
I was up in Cambridge, having moved here in 1992, when my psychiatrist, (himself having moved here from the capital to take up a new position) helped me find a psychiatric rehabilitation establishment in the city. From about 1998 things have generally been on a general upward curve, thank the Lord! 30 years of psychiatric problems have fashioned the person I am today. I have become much more settled in my own mind, and I hope more compassionate to what are primarily ‘mental health problems’ in others, because I have many times over, ‘BEEN THERE, DONE IT AND GOT A T-SHIRT!’. I might say at this point that my live over the last 30 years has not panned out by any stretch of the imagination how I had originally envisaged it.
I have already mentioned certain youthful aspirations and ambitions to have a happy, healthy existence, probably settling down eventually and maybe even being successful enough to have the mandatory ‘2.4 children’ and a reasonable job that many of my peers from school seem to have had. However, all things considered, things could have turned out a lot worse. Now I have an excellent, cerebrally intelligent friend like David in my life, thank God! I think the salient difference in my day-to-day existence today compared with the ‘bad years’ is that now, in 2004, I have that thing that is, to me, even more precious than diamonds and rubies: I HAVE HOPE! Hope in a better tomorrow, with at least some of my latter-day aspirations at least slightly nearer, potentially realised, and with the hope and fervent wish that I can finally lay a good deal of the ghosts of the past to rest, and go on into the future, mentally refreshed and indeed, as the title of this piece very appropriately describes…REINVENTED AT 45!!!