You’re here already?
I wasn’t expecting anyone JUST yet, I’ve only just started writing this, could be another hour, no idea. But you’re welcome to hang around while I see where this is going.
Oh, I know. Let’s start with a song lyric:
“When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye…”
This is going to be something ostensibly about mental health. Mainly mine, but who else’s would I be an expert on, eh? Eh? Stop interrupting me with these things, and listen. Ya divil. Fortunately for you, I like divils.
When I was ten, I collapsed and was admitted to intensive care and apparently very lucky to have lived. Luckily, while all this was going on, I was comatose, so I don’t remember much, just a couple of weeks in hospital, a few spinal injections, the purpose of which I’d no idea, but even scarier neither did they, I suspect. No one knew what caused it, but I’d retrospectively put it down to stress.
I’d a LOT of shit going on for a ten year old. A lot of, probably ‘normal’ for 1980, family strife. I was the oldest of four then, and I think even at that age it was becoming apparent that my folks weren’t coping too well. And being the eldest, well, you’re gonna get used as a sounding board by either one when alone with them, particularly if they’ve been fighting. I don’t say this as a dig at my folks, I imagine a lot of people our age had that.
I remember on the day I collapsed, we had had to walk home from town earlier, after going in to buy my scout uniform, ‘cos my ma had no busfare. Or maybe not, maybe there was a bus strike. I’ve no idea, it was 40 years ago, point is exhaustion probably played a part too.
I was also quite a gullible kid, and a YOUNGER kid had convinced me a year earlier, that I was going to die a year on, after I’d touched some decaying flesh we’d found on a dead animal, in an ‘abandoned’ factory. I know. Very ‘Stand By Me’. But I carried that belief / stress for a year too. Yes, alright, I’m an idiot, I know that NOW!
And then there was the depression. A giant heavy depression, like my brain could almost grasp the size of existence, which then became a weight. But I don’t know if the depression was caused by the collapse, or the other way around. Let’s just say, it was a busy summer for me.
The Empire Strikes Back was the thing back then, but every memory I have of the comics and toys at the time, I associate with that darkness. I still, to this day, get flashbacks if I pick up an AT-AT driver, or a 2-1B. No, they’re NOT tools. Stop pretending you’re not a nerd.
I remember walking through the school corridors that year, at the sunlight coming in through the windows, acknowledging to myself that I could live with myself as long as the sun shone, but I dreaded the night. I was also struggling with the whole religion thing, convinced I was getting God angrier and angrier by thinking any swearwords to myself. I was buckets of fun on the school bus trips, I can tell ya.
It was also the year I discovered Doctor Who, but don’t worry, I won’t start any of that nonsense ’til the next blog, ok? Here, have a biscuit. they’re just behind you, yeah.
So, the result of all this is, in that sunny July in 1980, I came out of hospital broken. And I stayed broken. Until 40 years later, to the week.
Hang on ’til I go out for a smoke, back in 5. Shtick on the kettle?
Right, needed that. Or DID I?
What I want to get to is the cure, so I won’t go into too much of the ‘between’ years. Sex and drugs and rock and roll didn’t even enter the picture ’til my 20s, and I made up for lost time like a fucking demon. When I was 21 I lost my Uncle Michael and Freddie Mercury in the same year. Oof. A bit of respite when I sobered up in my 30s, then back to relapsing in my 40s. That’s about it. I’ll leave it all for the book one day. Or maybe I’m just ready to move on from even thinking about it anymore.
The last 3 years of my life is where we’ll wind this up? Are you ok? You can grab a hoody there if you’re cold, I’ll wait…
Through a series of misfortunes, circa 1980 – 2017, I ended up in rehab (in the ‘care’ of the nuns), for about 9 months, and then homeless, upon drinking in rehab! That’s what we do! THAT’ll show the fuckers!
So then, two years ago now, I’m in the unenviable position of having to use the night-time only hostels around Dublin, my siblings barely talking to me, and understandably so, and then losing my ma a of couple months later, and the chest pains came.
Though the one thing I did have, that a lot of other homeless people DON’T have, was friends. If not for them, I’d have been fucked. And I think I only have what friends I do DUE the grace of the sobriety I got in my 30s, when I spewed myself out into the greater Dublin comedy scene, which would lead on to the most varied and wonderful array of people from all walks of life, and of all different creative spheres. My people. The people I’d hankered for in my lonely teens. The people I could mentally engage with, and belly laugh. That I could have even have female friends. That wasn’t something you saw a lot of back in the day. When I was first engaged to a lady at 30, it was very much the ‘way’ that you had your 3 or 4 mates, and the only woman in your life was your wife. The life I NOW have was a totally alien concept at the time. Sure look, I wouldn’t be talking to YOU here now, if Robbie 30 had gotten married. (This is not a dig my ex fiance if she’s reading, I just meant EVERYONE was like that). Phew. I should probably also add that I thought I was straight until I was 43.
Why comedy. Oh, wait ’til you get this… ready? I did it for therapy.
I know, right? That flashing light is NOT a Tardis. Oh yeah, sorry, no Doctor Who. Right. Cure.
While the chest pain was developing, I’d been lucky enough to get into the hostel I now live in. A few bumps and bruises along the way (there would still be a few more relapses etc) but it’s a great place, this. And they give you a chance, if you stop taking the piss quickly enough. I won’t say where it is right now, but when I have a place of my own, I will sing its praises from the mountain. Possibly with a full band. (I do that now, too). I did the usual doctor / hospital stuff, to try sorting the pain, to no avail, and in fact still it hasn’t been medically resolved. I ended up in hospital 2 or 3 times with it, or it and a combination of vodka I’d taken to ‘kill’ the pain, and that craziness ended in October, when I last drank.
I managed to get on Etalopro, which although didn’t stop the pain, lessened the panic attached with it, making it more controllable, but until recently, it still crippled me the second I stepped outside. This was a temporary dampener, but I don’t think I was going to find my answers there.
Also, I’ve been in and out of AA since I was 26 (my late ma was an ardent flag flier of Al-anon) and although I can see it ‘works’ for some people, it is not for me. I decided, with my last drink, to find MY way to STAY sober.
Now, remember earlier I mentioned friends? One such friend , let’s call him Hunter S… yes, that’s him giggling just now. A beautiful man, in every way. He knew the potential ‘me’. He could see it, he went above and beyond to pull me out of trouble. Like Jacob’s chiropractor, in Jacob’s ladder. My Angel. Would that we all had people like that. I’ve several of them, and I hope I’m that to some.
And then he introduced me to the mushroom. I know, right? At 50?
Now, I don’t want to say this is a miracle overnight cure, but it’s not far off. Last week, as I said, 40 years to the week since that switch got flipped down, after 9 dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms, it was flipped back up, and I’m left with a sensation of ‘where have I BEEN all my life?’
Fear is gone. Worry is gone. Worry of the things you can’t control in life. But that journey started maybe a year and a half ago? Lots of stops and starts, I’d try them every 2 months or so, relapses were still happening. I’d a lot of other shit going on that hadn’t been helping, like having to constantly justify my existence to Social Welfare, despite being homeless, and too ill to ‘work’, or punished for trying to claw your way back to whatever small financial normality you can achieve, it’s all very messy.
But it’s one of the many many things that I feel I no longer need to stress about. Things will happen as they happen. It feels like… okay, I’m really sorry, and we ARE very close to the end, but I gotta nerd bomb you:
Remember that episode of Red Dwarf, ‘Back To Reality’, where they wake up from a simulation they’ve all been playing, all along, and it turns out Rimmer has been playing the ‘Twat’ version of himself the whole time, not realising he was supposed to be a super spy early in the game? THAT’s what it feels like. I was playing the Twat version of Rob the whole time.
I write this blog mainly to offer my own experiences as an example of mushrooms being something you yourself could investigate, if you think it might be for you. I’ve even let my doctor in on the whole process, and he too is curious about it. I think it’s were human evolution, particularly in the field of mental health, needs to go now. Mental Health care, especially in Ireland, is shockingly neglected. The proper help is very rare and hard to find. I think it’s a field I’d like to work in some day. There are plently of people you check out on Youtube etc., such as Paul Stamets, or even Joe Rogan. You’ll find them.
But I’ll finish on my experience of my very first ‘deep dive’, 18 months ago. It is a very pleasurable experience, first off, fuzzy and warm, lots of astounding imagery and visuals, the coloured geometry, the old tribal race memory stuff, Gods, Demons, all of it. Inca, Mesopotamia, Ancient Japan, you see it all. Then the lights kick in. Then your head is opened up, and your ego and conscience separated, so the two of you can sit down and have a proper conversataion. And it knows EVERYTHING about you. Oh yes. And you know what you find out?
You’re not as dark as you think.
You’re not as unforgivable as you think.
You work out how good versus bad works, right versus wrong, and control versus lack of control, and that the answer is love, because evil CANNOT triumph, it would have nothing to triumph TO, and that love can ONLY win, so give what of it you can, when you can.
So, there ya go. That’s where I am today. No fucking worries.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope it helps someone.