menTELL MONDAY - DOM'S STORY




Not exactly sure where to start but I’ll probably give a few examples of where it all started to go wrong.


 

TW: Talks about drug usage, psychotic episodes

 

I feel it’s important to start this story at the very beginning. I was a 14-year-old boy who was just starting to become curious about the whole drug and rave scene. At this point in life, it just felt right as I was hopelessly rebellious. Flunking school and not aware of the long-term effects of what I was getting into or how it would affect me in later life. I remember smoking cannabis for the first time around this age, I had 6 drags on a joint and felt amazing. Now I don’t want to go into this whole “it’s a gateway drug” thing, I hate that, it’s a lot safer than other substances but it does kind of give a false narrative that you can safely take other substances without any repercussions and boy did I fall for that one. My first Ecstasy was around this time. Back in the old days those were not only expensive, but it was pure uncut pills that were floating around. I remember it vividly, a Pink New Yorker, damn, it was an amazing feeling, the world is a great place suddenly. At this point I had only really had half an Acid and as much Cannabis as my pocket money would allow me to buy.

I feel this is an important point in the story because as a young boy at that age my brain wasn’t fully developed, and I was starting to damage it. I always felt paranoid smoking weed but I always thought that was due to the lifestyle rather than the substance itself and I was wrong. I started getting into Cannabis more and more frequently and by the time I’d went to my first rave in 91 I was also getting into trouble with dealers because I only had a certain amount of money each week and my intake cost more than I was getting. I guess this was adding to the paranoia, a 10 spot to this guy and another 10 spot to another guy, both guys were getting avoided, it all adds up. Kids these days have no idea what they’re getting into, the drug market has changed, drastically, you never quite know what you’re getting these days unless you test and even if you do pills are beyond the 200 MG mark these days which is beyond ridiculous.





16-year-old me was a completely different person. Stupid and taking as much as I could get. I remember we used to hang about around a well-known park around these parts and the older crew all had cars with big sound systems. By the time we are at this stage the purity of pills had gone down, they were totally different, and God knows what they were cut with. So 1 became 2 and two became 3 etc, do you want a gram of whizz with that sir? hurry up and pass the joint mate. The first second you take feels just like the very first pill you took, I was dancing around like an idiot in the complete darkness of a car park in the middle of nowhere, truth is though, I felt amazing.

I stopped pills around the age of 18, haven’t had one since. I was a regular smoker of Cannabis from the age of 14 right to the age of around 23-24. This is where things started to go wrong for me mentally, still young and stupid, running about the streets high all the time. During this period the quality of drugs was poor, this is something I must make abundantly clear to people because now the drugs are completely different, stronger and there is the potential for them to do more damage. Back in the days the average street Cannabis was grade 3 Moroccan, soap bar they called it, remember that? At best, probably around 7% THC, bit of plastic, tastes like diesel sometimes etc etc. Scotland (where I live) has unfortunately long been a dumping ground for poor and generally bad drugs, I remember reading a warning in Mixmag about a batch of pills called Superman’s killing several people in Holland, I guess our guy had a contact who knew the people in Holland as he not only had them but was selling them for 20 quid a pop but was touting them as “the best thing since sliced bread”. The average pill price was probably between 5 and 10 pounds at this point to give you an insight.

Around the age of 23 I had a sneaky suspicion that something wasn’t quite right and went to the doctor for advice. She clocked the fact that I was starting to fall into the abyss right away and gave me a prescription of a drug called Mellaril and referred me to the local MHT. What she didn’t do was tell me I needed to keep taking the pills for a while and stop smoking weed. I didn’t continue with the anti-psychotic because it gave me a rather embarrassing side effect, something that is extremely common with anti-psychotic medicine, even today (food for thought). After about a week I stopped taking the pills and if I recall correctly, I didn’t bother going to see the Psychiatrist which in hindside was a huge mistake.


I remember looking at all friends and something in me told myself “These guys all look like people I know”. To try to explain that further, my friend David suddenly looked like a young Paul McCartney and my friend Scott suddenly looks the spitting image of Russel Brand. This seems to be a common indicator of Psychosis is starting to happen, I know that now, it’s been prevalent in every single one of my episodes.

At 25 I made the choice to go learn something at college, the DWP were on my back as I was claiming JSA from the age of 18 up till this point, it was different back then, you could easily claim and there would be no one checking to see if you searched for a job, every penny I got went on drugs. The next 4-5 years are etched in my mind as probably the darkest period of my life to date.


Just before I signed up to go to college, I had been helping with a PA hire company where I was basically paid with free entry to events and access to Cannabis, everyone loves free Cannabis right?

It was great, not going to lie. Met so many people who I have huge respect for, Ritchie Hawtin the lot. This was my inspiration to get off my arse and go to college, I genuinely thought I would become a sound engineer with this course and had no idea that I would be learning to write my own music which will be a huge part of this story just directly.


If you’ve ever lived the student life, you’ll know that all you do is get high all day, every day. This was a weird time; I was slipping further and further into a psychotic episode all throughout the 3 years I was at college. The 4th year was a big one though because I eventually went to Uni to get me a degree and I also met someone who I shall for the purpose of this story I’ll call “James”. James was a Cannabis dealer who was my first guy to have a constant supply of Skunk. Scotland caught onto the whole grass scene quite late in respect to other countries. I had a whole student loan to spend on Skunk, isn’t that great? Unfortunately for me the answer would be no.


After a period of regularity smoking this stuff, it was becoming abundantly clear to other people that something was going wrong with me, which is something that you don’t recognise yourself, I would catch friends making strange faces in reaction to things I had done or my personal hygiene would be lacking etc, all signs that something is drastically wrong. By this time, it’s too late, damage done. Psychosis is unlike anything I have ever experienced, people that have never experienced it will never truly understand it. It feels so right yet in reality it is so wrong, it’s hard to explain but I’ll do my best.


I remember looking at all friends and something in me told myself “These guys all look like people I know”. To try to explain that further, my friend David suddenly looked like a young Paul McCartney and my friend Scott suddenly looks the spitting image of Russel Brand. This seems to be a common indicator of Psychosis is starting to happen, I know that now, it’s been prevalent in every single one of my episodes. Then the delusions start. Those are like a never-ending jigsaw, doesn’t matter how many pieces you stick together there is always one more, everything leads to another thing. That is probably glamourising things but listen to the voice of reason, living with Psychosis is far from fun.


I think you’ve built a picture of my student life by now, so I’ll skip forward to just after Uni. Good news is I got a degree, bad news is I’ve still got money and a connection to Skunk which is something I miss terribly to this day.


Just after leaving Uni things got so bad that even I said enough is enough and I stopped the weed. The timescale of what happens next is a bit of a distant memory, but I reckon I was at least a year to a year and a half clean but as I have already mentioned the damage had already been done and with each day, I was getting worse.

Music plays a big part in my life as you might have guessed but I will say that my relationship with music is a complex story. To this day I still believe that the next part of this story was reality even though logistically it is virtually impossible that this happened, some of it did and this is where reality meets fiction, and the true reality of Psychosis becomes blatantly apparent. I’m sitting in my room playing around with music and I switch on the radio, this is something I don’t normally do, except for the odd dance music thing. As I’m listening the songs being played, I start to notice similarities in something I’ve just wrote on my computer myself and the music that’s being played in the radio show, of course this wasn’t real but even to this day there is something in the back of my mind that say it was. Not only that but it’s as if the DJ who is in the radio seems to be communicating with me in some sort of code that I can only describe as certain words or letters in words seem to sound louder than others (amplitude) and I’m interpreting this as communication. At the same time as all this I’m starting to think that I have uncovered some sort of real conspiracy, and this is where it starts to get complex.


I begin to listen more and more to the radio believing that all the DJs know what is happening to me and are in on “getting revenge”, yea I know! I’m not a big fan of pop music but I was listening to an Eminem song and completely wrongly so thinking that I had written the music for it, and they somehow had stolen it from me, Coldplay, Madonna and other people like the sugar babes all suddenly had somehow stolen music from me. Now I know this is logistically impossible for this to be reality, well unless the illuminati are real (lol) but to the person who is suffering from these kinds of delusions it is very real to them, I honestly cannot stress how important this is if you’re ever dealing with someone who is suffering from Psychosis.


Then the cross over to dance music happened and again same thing, these people have stolen my music! Unlike big pop stars the DJs involved in dance music are easier to get a hold of as they have emails plastered all over the net. I’ve always been into drum and bass as well as other types of dance music so naturally those shows that feature this kind of music on the radio I’m drawn to. Now this is probably one of the most cringeworthy things I have ever done but as I’m listening to Fabio and Grooverider on the radio 1 drum and bass show I start to believe that they’re also in on this getting revenge thing with me. I start to email them, daft things like “it’s me” “I’m heading down to London, will get you outside the BBC”. It’s around this point that my first “trip” to London happens. I managed to scrape enough money together for a flight down to Luton with a few quid left over for cheap hotel and a night in the end where I saw Nookie, Fabio and Bukem, I mean if a guy like Fabio starts to call you don’t let him down right? I was also convinced that Bukem was in on this, in fact by now most of my attention had shifted away from Fabio and Grooverider and switched to Bukem at this point, and I started to approach Nookie asking him “when’s Dan on mate” and other things like this, mega funny looking back on it and highly cringeworthy now that I’ve had time to sit and look at it. Cringing while looking back at the things you did during a psychotic episode is actually part of the disease, probably one of the reasons why there is a high amount of suicides in the people who suffer from it, well just one of the reasons, flashbacks are pretty horrendous, it’s just something you learn to live with, to begin with it’s really hard but if you’re lucky you figure out a way to live with it, you need to be strong, no matter how bad you get just remember there is someone out there who loves you, that one has kept me going till now.

So, standing in the End thinking how to approach Bukem and then he appears and begins to start his set. Casually I walk up to him and present an internet café ticket with my online name written on it, he looks at it and just looks at me with a confused face, hands me the ticket back and continues to mix. That was the end of that then, wasn’t it? Nope. I’m devastated, felt like I’d been let down by an old friend and by now my delusions are of the type that I truly believe I’m going to be a huge star. So back to Scotland I go. At this point I’m carrying around 29 CDs full of all my music files thinking that it's damaging evidence and I’m extremely paranoid about someone getting a hold of them. I’m carrying them all around everywhere I go. On the train back to Scotland I notice someone looking at me with a rather angry look, probably because I was starring at him for ages but I started believing he was a hitman.


When I get back the first thing I do Is start taking notes about what is “happening” and I’m sitting wrecking my head, literally, thinking how am I going to deal with this? I’d been using cracked software, it’s just something that people did back then. I had a spontaneous idea that I could use this to my advantage by phoning up Scotland’s Cyber Crime squad and telling them everything about how I had been downloading pirated software from a website soundstudio.ru and had been hacked by someone who had stolen all my creativity and sold it to other musicians. To be fair to the police they did send two officers out to discuss this with me and they basically told me there was nothing they could do. It all added to the devastation and cringing later. The notes were starting to become lengthy, 41 pages in all, every single letter was a delusion.


Still had no idea what to do next but I knew that I had to somehow step it up a notch. I’m starting to become a danger to not only myself but other people by this point. Not one rational thought is going through my head. What you must recognise in a person suffering from this type of illness is that the person does not actually recognise that they have mentally slipped away, insight is usually the first thing to go, common sense is usually next. My next step was a stroke of genius, I thought at the time. I happen to live in an area where the constituency MSP happened to be the first minister of Scotland. With an office close by I thought I would step it up a notch by getting Mi5 and the government involved, to me at the time, it was the next logistical step, I mean if you’re going to do something do it right?


I ended up in Portugal, nowhere to stay, no money, hungry and drastically ill as you can probably gauge by now.

Off I go to his office, 41 pages of delusions and 29 CD’s full of music files in hand. Four days in a row I go there, in a state, telling his secretary all about how all these big named stars had somehow stolen my creativity from a computer which at this point wasn’t connected to the internet. I couldn’t explain how they done it; they had just done it. This opened another rabbit hole, a feast of “researching” stuff online and I’m pretty sure I might be on some sort of list considering some of the places I was looking at. Looking back in it now probably the most frightening thing I have ever done because this added another dimension to the whole paranoid delusions and about a week later the realisation of what I had just done started to sink in and suddenly, I started having delusions about Mi5/Military involvement in this, it made sense to me even though it was completely outlandish that ANY of this happened in the first place. Quite a common delusion for Schizophrenics and extremely scary as you begin to think of assassins with a licence to kill. With this in mind I was utter convinced that the whole thing was set up by some elite military group and you start to link past events to the whole situation, and you start to become mentally fatigued but utterly focused on a goal. Around about now the auditory hallucinations begin, I’m definitely not going into too much details on these because a real Schizophrenic will know EXACTLY how those happen and between you and I, I’m a little worried about going into too much details for various different reasons.


A second trip to London was in order, still sending “it’s me” emails to Fabio and Grooverider from various library computers, from different email addresses as my home computers were all dangerous to use, right? One of my biggest regrets now was that I took my first synth and sold it in order to fund a flight to London, 800 it cost me, and I was so desperate I think I got 120 for it but it was enough to get me to London, so I sold it in a pawn shop. I had to get away from the Scottish government and their assassins who had called in the troops and had surrounded me everywhere I’d went. This is where it starts to get scary, you begin to think your fighting for your life, but reality is that it’s all made up by thoughts in your head. Still, I know that I’ve said this before, very real to the person. A danger to myself.


If I recall I think the flight cost me something like 80 which left me with enough money for a very cheap hotel for a night. I hadn’t even considered my next move, but I started roaming around London hopelessly ill and scared to go back home, in fact I still had a little cash to begin with as I had enough money to get from London to Luton airport on the bus and back a couple of times. I slept on the floor in the airport, I guess I didn’t look like I was homeless, or I would’ve been hunted. I did have 12 and a half kilos of clothes in a bag though. The airport had armed police at this point which I found comforting as no-one would dare shoot me in front of the police but inevitably paranoia took a hold of me after a few days, and I saw someone who was wearing a long coat who I thought was Mi5. I immediately got on the phone to home and asked for some money to be put into my bank account and as quickly as it arrived it was gone as I jumped onto the first available flight to ANYWHERE.


I ended up in Portugal, nowhere to stay, no money, hungry and drastically ill as you can probably gauge by now.


Walking about the streets of a foreign country, homeless, in a place where you don’t speak the main language, thinking you’re surrounded by people who are out to kill you I can only describe as beyond scary. I was ready to die, it felt like that. Mental fatigue soon become physical fatigue as lack of being able to sleep on the streets set in. I must be honest though to begin with I found myself in Faro and like my time in Luton I slept on the floor on the airport for a while but again paranoia got a hold of me, and I was seeing things in my head that didn’t make sense or looked like they had something to do with this whole conspiracy, it was all in my head, psychosis is cruel. The body language is different in Portugal, for example, in the UK if we nod our head a certain way directionally you would think they meant go that way!


I was sectioned under the mental health act for the first time no less than an hour later.

Now I thought I was a body language expert by now as it was another way people on my side had been communicating with me. One of the people who worked in the airport “nodded” his head in a general direction as our eyes met and I took it up on myself to go through the door that happened to be there. Turns out it was directly into the background of the airport, and I almost sparked a major security thing, the airport police swooped and stopped me from going any further. I’d hate to have been brown skinned at this point. They threw me out the airport and told me not to come back so I headed down towards the coast which if you know Faro at all, isn’t that far from the airport. I found myself drawn to a caravan site where I went into the office and told them I’d been robbed in the airport, a completely fabricated story and had no money or a place to sleep and asked them if I could sleep in the laundry room. They agreed after I told them I would give them my passport in case they thought I would steal anything, and I did. It was at this point I met, have to say, a lovely English couple who gave me some bread and cheese to eat, this was probably my first meal in a couple of days.


They introduced me to an Irish couple who just happened to have an empty VW Camper van that was sitting empty, they use it for smuggling tobacco into Ireland. Yea right, Tobacco that close to Morocco lol. Everything I did was adding another dimension to the paranoia, but it was starting to get gnarly as I was beginning to think this was the IRA. So, Peter, the Irish guy then turned round and said I know someone who will be able to give you a little work for some cash. Obviously, I jumped at the chance considering and I was introduced to a guy named Michael who had a spare bed in his orange orchard which I could have in return for doing some work around the orchard, brilliant. Genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve had the chance to meet, and I told him the whole story and I think he was the first person to question me on it but calmly and probably wisely said to me “you’ll be safe here, no-one can get to you here”. It was an orchard in the Algarve that was way out of the road of a main road etc, but the paranoia was so intense that after a while I started to believe that “they” had got to him as well.


After some debate with Michael about how daft this was, jumped on the train to Lisbon, 20 euros to my name. I didn’t care how daft it was, I didn’t want to stay in the same place for very long as Mr Mi5 was trying to kill me right? This was the start of the brunt of the episode, everyone was out to get me, EVERYONE, and I was just helplessly wandering about the streets, night and day, physically and mentally fatigued and desperate for someone to help. I found some comfort in the Irish bars around Lisbon obviously thinking the IRA were there, lol, someone seen me struggling and bought me something to eat, again it was probably the first thing I had to eat in ages, damn it, she was fit too. I’m carrying all my clothes in a bag weighing 12 and a half kilo which didn’t help as I’m wandering around the streets becoming more and more fatigued both mentally and physically. The sound of people receiving texts on their phones has become the latest thing I’m finding strange, have these people somehow put a but on me and the “beep beep” is from tracking devices? I’m hearing this everywhere I go. Obviously (lol) I’m still a body language expert and people are directing me around with nods of their heads and other movements with their hands and things like that. It feels like I’m in a military exercise, teams of people in different colours, blue, green, yellow and red. Every time I see the colours, I think that there are groups of people helping me or blatantly just “going along” with the war game, I’m being directed too and frow. Of course, this was all in my head, in fact I have to point this out, the people of Portugal are lovely.


Finally, after some hefty debate with my head, I phoned home for some cash after receiving a number where I could call the UK free and ask my parents if they would reverse the charges for a call from Portugal. I was in the British embassy at the time where I learned that my Gran had passed away and I’d missed her funeral, tears were streaming down my face. Of course, she had been murdered by the pop stars and co-conspirators was my instant thought. Losing your Gran is a traumatic thing normally, but the trauma was ten-fold in this position, even that wasn’t enough for me to head home. It was too dangerous in my head. I stayed in Lisbon wandering about the streets for probably about a month, with each day passing by, becoming more paranoid. If you’ve ever been homeless, you’ll find that you’re desperate for a safe place to sleep and as I was completely wrong that I was being tracked by someone who was trying to kill me, the airport was my weapon of choice because there were always armed police there it was strangely comforting knowing that there was some sort of safety. It’s twisted, makes you think that way. Suicidal thoughts were constant, this is something else you must learn to live with. Am I still glamorising it?


Ending up in Porto was the cream on the cake, I’d been daft enough to fly from Lisbon to Porto at a cost of around 80 euros or something leaving me once again skint. Same thing, wandering around trying to keep going before the fatigue starts to become too much and you fall asleep under a bridge, motorway pass or just somewhere out of the road, it went on for weeks. I have no idea how this happened, but I jumped on a train, no ticket, out into the middle of no-where close to Porto and ended up in a town that had a military base and as absurd as this thought seems I had considered joining the Portuguese military, that’s how delusional I was. I was ready for walking up to the front door and asking for a form. Fatigue now is huge and I’m starting to get sore feet from constantly walking around so I ditched my bag with all my clothes. The trouble with that is that my college and university degree papers also went, in fact, the only thing I kept at this point was my passport. I’m beginning to really let me personal hygiene go. As I’m walking around a shopping centre, I look into a shop that is just closing and see someone “nod”, of course this was my chance to get away from the people who had surrounded me, so I confusingly walked into the back of the shop and ended, God knows how? Into the shopping centres changing rooms after stripping all my clothes off and putting them in a bin, well, down to my underwear. I should’ve clicked here that something was wrong because the police came and asked me what I was doing as I stood there in my boxer shorts. I don’t recall what I said to them but they took me to the station where I became increasingly paranoid that they were talking in Portuguese and looking in my general direction. They took me to a hospital where I told a doctor that there was something wrong with my feet and they examined me. It upsets me to this day the fact that I wasted the time of the police and also several medical staff.


In Porto I found myself around the actual port area of the city. The perfect way for me to escape these people is to go into the port and jump on a boat, right ? I did this and the port police were called and once again I was taken away by a police officer are where they photocopied my passport. I was told to leave the port and not come back but the lour of getting on a boat to England was too much and I started hovering around the port again. Luckily, I wasn’t arrested again.


Eventually my mum started to click onto the fact that something was going wrong, the money I was asking for was basically going in on one hand and out on the other, I must’ve phoned home 6 times in all and she basically ordered me to come home, paying a further 800 for a BA flight from Porto to London. I don’t even recall how I got from London to Scotland, but I was back home. My dad is a mental health nurse who was 37 years in the game before he retired, I got lucky, he knew exactly what to do. I won’t disclose what he did, but it basically got the police here and as they took me away, I grabbed my 41-page essay. The paper was plastered with the names of big pop stars all over it, honestly, the police took one look at it and called in a doctor who took me into a room and basically ordered another policeman to take me to a psychiatric ward for an assessment. I was sectioned under the mental health act for the first time no less than an hour later.

I’m beginning to rant about this but there are other things that I think are important which may to a person who has never been through this might find really confusing, like throwing my passport in the bin while abroad, talking to yourself out loud, thinking I had been drugged and had a baby which I’d never set eyes on. At the time it all made sense at various points in the journey.



PICTURE: DOM