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And So I Walked

by Kurse30 on 2 June 2010

A wise man once told me “time waits for no man, including you!” That never made much sense to me then. At 15 I was naïve and beyond reproach but sadly this wasn't to last much longer. I was a musician at school, deeply into music of all kinds and was heavily involved in performing arts under the direction of my musical instructor. We produced many performances one memorable occasion was the musical My Fair Lady it was going to be the first time one of my compositions had been selected for the show, it was a great feeling. Shortly afterwards I was caught by my Physical Education teacher bringing alcohol on to school premises and being drunk. Doing this sort of thing was unheard of in my school and from me was unexpected. It was a good school and I had brought the name of the school into disrepute how I had solely done this was beyond me since it was not during school hours but it was the beginning of a downward spiral that was to last for some time.

Two decades of life experience has thrown obstacles into my path from every direction and though I have tackled them vigorously they have swayed me from what can only be described as the pathway to enlightenment to the promised land. Had I followed the teachings of Marcus Aurelius more so in those early years perhaps I would not have ended up where I am now, perhaps I would be more promising, or have made more life affirming choices about my own direction, but sadly hindsight is a wonderful thing and cannot be undone, for want of trying.

My earliest memories of my father are unusual, I'm young, about 3 years old, wearing white tights playing with dad with the television, an old black and white in the background. This life was not to last long as my father killed himself, we think, he died from falling from height whilst intoxicated so we are uncertain but I will always think he killed himself. My mother therefore was an only parent but I wasn't an only child. I had a sister Marie Victoria, an elder sibling by 1.5 years. She was stubborn and headstrong but kind and thoughtful and always looking out for me. We are a close family though I always thought of myself as the black sheep of the family, my present condition has done nothing to sway me from such thoughts.

I was born and spent my early years in North Yorkshire, going to school are memories I hold fondly. Money was tight but our home life was secure and warm as well as loving. To try and make life better for us my mother decided to move us to Germany to live with my uncle, Malcolm and his wife and child. We were only there for three months before returning to the UK. It was years before I found out why we could no longer stay with our uncle and it was because my mother had found a syringe in one of his cupboards so she knew he was using drugs and we were on the move once again. A long train journey home and we were back in England living in a flat in a small village in the vale of York where we would stay for some time and have a stable education. Our move back to North Yorkshire was promulgated by my sister's university placement and my 6th form college placement. I left 6th form college and embarked on a course at the College of Music.

I had a great time and was immersed in music from the start. Our move back to West Yorkshire from my point of view was not a good one. I met up with Lewis a friend from school who had changed greatly and was now a drug user. I became a drug user smoking weed and taking cannabis regularly. I left college, obviously I could no longer study effectively. I managed a year at music college before leaving. And so this lifestyle choice was to continue and get worse rapidly. I continued working at Kroustie European Bread during the summer and during the move and eventually started working there full time. I was offered the position of manager of a concession in the White Rose Centre in West Yorkshire which paid twelve thousand pounds per annum a huge wage at that time in my life so I accepted and left college and started working full time. I because friendly with a woman who worked on a sweet stall in the centre and eventually a group of us went out for a few drinks and to pubs and clubs around West Yorkshire. She offered me ecstasy and stupidly I took it. That was the beginning of a problem that would get a little worse. I started stealing from work to fund my habit though the majority of this money did not go on drugs it went on clothes to wear when going out and I frequently started shopping at Harvey Nichols in West Yorkshire wearing the best gear and the most expensive clothes.

It wasn't fun or enjoyable but it was a big part of my life for an extended period of my youth. So what is addiction, the dictionary states it is to be physically dependant on a drug, was that now me? An addict? My state of being had all but become dominated by a habit. Had I in the words of the World Health Organisation sustained a period of chronic intoxication so much so so as to be described as an addict? You might think so but you'd be wrong. I was not nor ever have been a drug addict, dependant on a quick fix to feel normal. I don't know what that must feel like and to be honest I'm glad I'll never know. Not long after I told my mother and sister I had a drug 'problem' my sister joined the army and my recovery was quickly overtaken by this new phenomenon the Armed Forces and we heard lots about her development both physically and mentally and this aided my recovery to a greater degree, so much so that in fact I started to see the benefits of some easy money and a healthier lifestyle choice – though it did take me two years to visit the armed forces careers office and sign up rather than sign on as I had been doing for many years previously. And so it was I promised to bear true allegiance to the Queen and all of her heirs and successors.

You might think I've missed out a whole paragraph or even a whole chapter on my recovery and perhaps I'll include it as an addendum but for now just feel satiated in the knowledge that I recovered and baring one time never took an illegal drug again. So the army was good, great in fact. I got fit, healthy and rich, in that order. I was sent to Germany to undertake my first tour and from there to Oman in Saudi Arabia to take part in a combined forces exercise. I had to take an anti malarial drug, 'Larium' which is known to affect the central nervous system and create psychotic changes to the person. I was returned to the UK to take part in the final stages of my training to be a soldier in the army whereupon I started to experience changes to my personality. I started drinking and drove whilst intoxicated. I was caught three times in the space of a month for the same offence. I was taken to court by my commanding officer. When first presented to the court I shouted “Get that man out of my courtroom”. The magistrates left for me to calm down and resat again once I had regained my sences, I was convicted and sent to prison for 4 months. Upon my release I joined college to study law, gained a distinction in law from a college in West Yorkshire and then went to university.

I studied for three years before experiencing difficulties in mood and on one occasion I was acting strangely, shouting at the walls being crazy. So the police came and took me away under an air of secrecy flapping a bit of pink paper in front of my face stating that it contained the legality of my detention. I was swiftly conveyed to hospital and locked in. I saw the doctor the very next day. Amongst all his muttering the doctor said “We think you have schizophrenia.” Now what is this disease? The media portray this illness as something to be afraid of. I'm sure that there could be studies upon how the media creates fear of psychotic illnesses but it is not for this book. Schizophrenia is not just a disease it is a group of diseases identified by symptoms of emotional abnormality, or thought disorder with a combination of disturbance of motivation and delusions often associated with hallucinations both aural and oral. Perhaps worst of all the cause of the disease is unknown though often talked about as having 'triggers' and worse than that it is incurable. Facts and figures are in short supply but about 20% of all schizophrenics attempt suicide and my life expectancy is about half that of the general population. Perhaps it is hereditary and that is why my dad killed himself. Who knows; certainly the disease is more talked about now and there is better care for those suffering with it but perhaps it will always be a disease to be afraid of. So what is left, the final footsteps, moreover, whose to follow. And so I walked

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