I’ve always had a huge appetitie. I was in okay shape as a younger kid but when I started at an enormous secondary school, a rising sense of anxiety and a distinct lack of friends forced me to look for a place to hide: I hid in food. Quite literally. I ate and ate, getting bigger and bigger until – by the time I left school – I was morbidly obese. At the same time, I was starting to experience fairly major mental health problems associated with becoming increasingly isolated and with feeling, as I was increasingly starting to look, like a freak. These days, it’s pretty horrible to use words like ‘freak’ to describe anyone, especially as a kid…but back in the 80s and early 90s that epithet was banded around quite a bit.
One day after my daughter found an entire crop of grey hairs in my beard, something pretty terrifying happened to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my wife laugh so much…but I still haven’t recovered. Here’s what went down:
Your horoscope might not be important….but your personality type definitely IS. How well do you know yourself? This was a question I was asked the second I walked into some fairly intensive therapy sessions. I said to the therapist: ‘I’m worried I might be a psychopath and I’m definitely a sociopath. People hate me. I’m always overthinking stuff. I’m worried I’m not a good person. I really long for the past. I keep making terrible decisions. I hate being around other people but I get bored if I’m on my own. I’m worried that I’m ALWAYS bored and I do really stupid stuff to make me NOT bored. I think I’m drinking too much wine and definitely too much coffee. I fancy far too many woman. I’m worried I’m going to blow up a petrol station BECAUSE I’m so bored. I really miss my career. I used to write books. I’m worried that I used to be somebody I knew and now I don’t really know who I am. I might be a love addict….oh…and I HATE pretty much everyone.’ My therapist said: ‘Do you want to sit down?’ That’s right. I said all that while I was still in the DOORWAY.
I’ve never been able to cope with the passing of time and over the years this single fact has got me into so much trouble I can barely even describe it. When I make a decision or don’t follow my heart or even occasionally when I feel I’ve made the RIGHT decision, I still absolutely yearn to go back and do things differently. It’s like a sort of emotional heartbreak and without any exaggeration, I find it practically impossible to cope with.
This is the way I always describe depression to people who haven’t experienced it.
I actually hate the title of this post, yet it suited the content perfectly because it was the reply I was given when I told somebody a few years back that I could be mildly sociopathic. ‘Yeah, me too,’ she admitted. ‘I’m a little bit socio.’
Occasionally, I stop setting up elaborate practical jokes to break with tradition and talk about something quite serious and important to me. This is one of those times. Last night, I had the privilege of accompanying my wife to 2015 Make Awards, created and administered by Not on the High Street. She and her company, Hoobynoo World, were nominated for Best Pet Product. I am fiercely proud of her achievements, but to underline just how much work she has put in, just how far we have come as a family and just how virtually important NotHS has been – as a company – to my wife and to her endeavors to create a business, I need to explain the background to our journey…
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer: that’s the saying. Is it true, though? Well….in a really unexpected sense, it is.
“Daddy? I want a hamster.”
“You’re not a having a hamster.”
“The ant died.”
“The ant wasn’t even REAL.”
“It was real.”
“Look – if you put something down on the floor and it runs away, it’s real.”
When I was a kid at Ramsgate Pleasurama during the 80s, the beat ’em up landscape was pretty much dominated by Double Dragon, a side-scrolling fight game that arrived in the arcades sometime during ’87. It was stupidly addictive and really exciting, to the point where kids in Ramsgate would queue up to play it. I vaguely recall that the owners of the boating pool at the other end of town once managed to get their hands on a Double Dragon machine of their own and the place was practically overrun…