Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Friendship of a Cat

“Isn’t it lucky that cats have two little holes in their fur just where their eyes go.”
Victor Lewis Smith
  
I genuinely feel quite sad for those people out there who have never made friends with a cat; who have never felt the unique peace of laying their ear against a perplexed-looking kitty’s chest and listening to the perfect contentment resonating from a deep purr.

Even some people that have cats (although, that’s technically incorrect, as it’s well known that cats ‘have’ humans, and not the other way around) don’t take the time to experience the bond that could be. To them, their moggies are reluctantly fed and shooed out of the way – just another peripheral to family life, like the saucepan set and garden furniture.

I love dogs, too, but with their lanky legs, easy excitability and over-enthusiasm, they’re buffoons all of the time. Cats are graceful, elegant, cunning and only buffoons some of the time.

It’s a curious relationship we have with our pussos, and odd that we weave our lives around them so willingly. Some say this is due to mind-control, but I think it’s actually down to love.

They make even the clearest headed and most sensible person act like they have serious psychological problems. It’s like all that crazy talk and speaking in tongues, from both women and men, when their child is born. Upon meeting a kitten for the first time, it’s etiquette to talk to it in a very silly voice… and it’s a voice that stays with you for all your days together, unlike with human children, unless you’re a very, very patronising parent. I talk in different voices to all three of my cats. I just want to point out that I’m not mental – this is a cat thing.

Cats are known for their love of comfort, warmth and Sunlight, yet how many of us self-proclaimed ‘cat lovers’ have delighted in dropping our worried kitty into a foot of snow, just to see how they’d react? That’s not very nice, really, but we’ll be doing the same the next time there’s heavy snow.

Likewise, in a bath, with kitty at one end and the water creeping up toward them, waiting to see how close it can get before the cat decides enough is enough and take a hike.

Why can’t I walk in a straight line up the stairs without the cat trying to trip me up? And how come, most often, cats stroll lazily around, yet they seem insistent on running up stairs?

Why is it, when I make a mug of coffee and carry it back to my room, that the cat insists on walking directly below the steaming, hurty hotness?

What is it that makes cats think that it’s fine for them to scratch the bathroom door and barge in to watch you on the toilet, when if you watch a cat doing the same, they give you a look that lets you know you’ve temporarily become their enemy?

I shouldn’t need to be a champion Twister player to get into my own bed. I guess it would be easier if I were to shoo them off and not clamber around them, but for some reason, I’ve never tried that out. Mind control?

And there are times when they really spook you out, especially in the middle of the night. I went down for a coffee in the early hours of one morning and Orion, my big, fluffy, black cat, quickly ran down the stairs, skidded in front of me, looked at me with ears back and mystery in his eyes, then turned tail and hurtled straight back upstairs. He never explained why.

Particularly freaky is when they go stock still and look intently at something… that isn’t there… and you conclude you have a ghost in the house that only kitty can see – but kitty’s just doing it to mess with our minds. There is no ghost!

When human babies grow up, they become different and rubbisher, but dangle a string in front of a cat of any age and you have your kitten back, for a moment. Not even the grumpiest and non-compliant of our kitty friends can resist the wrigglies!

There’s nothing like a friendly head-butt from a happy cat, or a chilled-out snuggle on the bed, both just watching things and going nowhere in particular for a while.

I guess that’s why cats seem the more popular companion for writers. They’re happy to sit on the desk beside you and be stroked now and again; they’re rarely in a hurry, whereas a dog wants you to take it on a walk and throw things for it.

Anyone who can say ‘just a cat’ and mean it misses out on one of the greatest joys of life: real friendship and love that has no conditions attached.

(P.S. If anyone has the will and ability to contribute to my ‘fighting fund’... I need carpets... donations would be most welcome through PayPal, at ‘Lesism@btinternet.com’. Anything would be greatly appreciated.)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Dream Breaker


The Dream Breaker

 by Les Floyd


And again, she summoned him to her dreams.

With hands raised and fingers intertwined, taking the weight of each other on pressed palms, they kissed; behind closed eyes, a swirling euphoria.

“I missed you,” she said, breaking away and looking up. She smiled. Her arms slid tight around his back as she nestled her cheek against his chest.

He held her, placing a kiss on her scalp.

They were on the shore, as dusk settled. The sinking Sun lit mountainous grey clouds in gold and red, and they drifted across the horizon on a canvas of powder blue and swirling pink that faded to indigo overhead, then on to inky darkness and the glitter of starlight behind. It was a skyscape never seen beyond this place.

They walked in the sand, barefoot, as the lazy ocean yawned to and fro, the sigh and thump of gentle waves a slow drum roll in lament to their lost love.

She hadn’t remembered that, yet… but she would, as she always did.

At the edge of the expanse of ocean and heavens, they found a throne of rock, carved from millennia of wind and tides, and there they sat, together. She curled in to him and held him like he were priceless, her head in the nape of his neck, her face turned towards the zenith of a blood red Sun that would never set.

“Do you remember when we first met?” she said, words warmed from the heart.

“I do. You were the most beautiful woman in all the Universe. You still are. I knew from that first moment together that I’d love you for all of my days.”

She hugged him tighter.

“You didn’t believe me when I told you that. You never did,” he said.

“I believe you now.”

The screech and cackle of a flock of seagulls passing high above lifted her eyes to the flickering starlight and, puzzled, she looked again towards the setting Sun.

He whispered in her ear. “Let your mind rest. It’s not important.”

So easily, as it was when she remembered, the tension left her body and she was at peace again. Her thoughts were gone and she drank joy from the vision on the horizon, letting it frame her moment.

He looked down and gazed at the light in her eyes, and smiled for the smile on her face. It was the last time he would see it.

“We can’t see each other again,” he said, as he had to say.

She sat straight and looked at him, locking eyes, biting her lower lip and drawing it into her mouth. For a while, she just stared, watching his face.

“Don’t say that. Why?”

He stood up, lifting her with him, and took her hands again. “Because for all these moments of perfection, they have a far greater magnitude of pain in the other place.”

“I don’t understand. What ‘other place’?”

“Do you remember my funeral?”

She jerked her body away and fixed an intent glare. “No!” she protested, her voice breaking as the fog of confusion began to clear.

“That’s because you didn’t go.”

“What?”

“We hadn’t seen each other for nearly a year. You didn’t want me in your life.”

A sob rose from her chest and she fell into him again, wrapping herself around him.

“I felt guilty,” she said, as she cried.

“It wasn’t your fault. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what happened. I was as surprised as anyone.”

“But if we’d stayed together; if I’d kept you close, you wouldn’t have been there. You’d have been safe.”

“Or we’d have been there, together.”

“I don’t care. I would have been with you.”

“You didn’t love me, so why do you grieve for me?”

With a sharp exhale, she withdrew and looked at him through tearful eyes. “How can you say that?”

“Every day, you wish me back; you wish I were there, that I’d never gone; that you’d never pushed me away. And every time you dream, I come back to you.”

“Because I love you,” she said.

“And every morning when you open your eyes, the elusive sorrow of that parting claws against all your day, and you destroy yourself, over and over again, mourning a love that never lived.”

“But I loved you!” she insisted.

Loved… emphasis on…” he said, and they fell silent for a while.

“If I had lived until I were eighty,” he supposed, “you’d never have seen me again and I’d have barely crossed your mind, except when you were walking up the vegetable aisle of a supermarket.”

A brief smile lit her sadness.

“I was just someone from your past; someone you cared about but didn’t love, and, like the others, I would have dwelled in vague and dusty memory. But when you heard what happened, you let it crush you. You tried to bring me back and held those memories so tightly that they became as dense as diamonds, cutting your hands as you clenched them.”

“You’re alive, with me, now – here and now,” she said. “Isn’t that where you always told me was the most important place to be?”

“You are in love with your memories, not me. If I'd have lived, you’d have held on to all the things that made you push me away. It’s time to let them all go; to forget me.”

She balled her fists and softly pounded at his chest, tears dripping down her face again. “I don’t want to let you go. I don’t want to forget you.”

“But you must…”

“Why?” she cried. “Why must I? Why do you keep coming back to me if you’re not in love with me? Why would you end this for us?”

“Because I love you. I loved you to my dying day. In my dying breath I called for you… and then on, here, eternal, I love you… and this agony has to end.”

In her grief, the stars twisted in the sky and fell like jewels, slapping the sand as an angry wave thumped and rushed the shoreline, spray whipped up from a following squall.

Putting his hands on her shoulders and looking at her one last time, he said, “Wake up.”

Resigned, she closed her eyes and held him.

A great wave swept in, impossibly high and fierce, and under its pounding weight the dream was broken.

And so she awoke, compelled to rise from her bed and, without knowing what, she sensed that something was different – something good.

She had no memory of the flash in his blue eyes, his grin, the smell of him, the timbre in his voice, the sound of his laughter, the warmth and protection she once felt from his arms, and she breathed deeply and smiled, standing at her bedroom window, gazing out over the patchwork fields, bathed in joy from the early morning Sunlight.

He was gone. The path they once walked had been brushed away, to be forgotten, almost forever, until the moment that all trails converge.

Peace bubbled up from the unblocked spring inside her.

It was a new day and true love approached.


The End

Friday, 23 March 2012

Ian Taylor & Harry Moseley

With Aston Villa, Ian Taylor was a League Cup winner and FA Cup finalists, and he scored against some of the biggest teams in the world, including Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. He also scored against Leeds.

Other clubs he’s played for include Port Vale, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County, and while at his final club (as a player), Northampton, he helped them gain promotion from League Two – they came second behind the glorious Carlisle United… my home team.

(Incidentally, before Ian arrived for the interview, I mentioned Carlisle United to Steve Jacques - who organised the meetings of that day, at the Belfry golf course - and Steve replied: “Do they have a football team up there?”)

Reinstalled at Villa as Club Ambassador, I can see why they made that choice. Ian is a good, good man and the following is an excerpt from a powerful and emotive interview with him, about his friend, Harry Moseley:


You can follow Ian on Twitter at: 


And please follow Harry Moseley’s Mom, Georgie, on Twitter, at:


If you’d like to make a donation to Harry’s ongoing fundraising efforts, his website is here:


* * * * *

There’s now a Lesism Facebook Page! I’d be most appreciative if you’d give it a LIKE:


You’re also very welcome to befriend me on my regular Facebook account, here:

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Fabrice Muamba, Football and Life

Although the situation still looks very grave, I’m heartened to hear that Bolton Wanderers footballer, Fabrice Muamba, is now in a ‘stable’ condition in hospital and breathing by himself, after collapsing on the pitch during the FA Cup match with Tottenham.

And apart from one particularly disgusting incident – where someone rushed to edit his Wikipedia page and put today’s date as his date of death (which was, to the site’s credit, quickly removed) – the outpouring of concern and radiance of positive energy from people all around the world reinforced the fact that us humans are actually pretty great when unite.

The hair on my arms (unfortunately, not on my head, since they’re mostly absent, there) stood up as I read through the well-wishes and tributes to Fabrice on Twitter.

Football is such a passionate sport, for the players and the followers of their beloved teams, and often it can seem so divisive that it appears there’s real hatred between the opposing clans… but something like this reminds us that there’s no division and that, in the end, it’s just a game; the hate is mock. It’s just part of the dramatics that makes football so enthralling.

Both the Bolton and Tottenham supporters were chanting Muamba’s name as he was stretchered off, after those traumatic scenes of him receiving frantic attention from the medics.

This was an FA Cup match – one of the greatest and most revered competitions in all of global football – so, before and during the game, both tension and passion was peaked, but all that energy of rivalry and wanting to beat the opposition quickly changed focus when they saw the horrific developments on the pitch.

I’m sure every single person that was in the stadium is in shock, now, but unified by the overwhelming will that Fabrice recovers, as do the rest of us, whoever we may be and wherever we may be in the world, whether we love football or not.

It leads to questions of the fragile nature of our mortality…

I mean, if a 23-year-old athlete – who, it goes without saying, has taken care of himself to reach that peak level of fitness and performance - can collapse and lie, literally, on the brink of death, then it should remind us that this mortal life is not forever.

We too often fear what’s to come in the days, weeks, months and years ahead, yet this is always at the expense of the contentment and happiness we could fill our living moment with.

Look around you, right now, and everything you may fear to lose in future is still here… so enjoy it… enjoy them… enjoy life, right now.

Face the changes when they come… don’t fear the changes and lose your ability to enjoy life right now.

And as a closing note, I would like to thank all the medical staff who treated Fabrice – and send the same sentiments to every paramedic, nurse, doctor and first-aider who has helped save the lives of countless other people in such situations.

If Superman came out of the sky and saved one person from dying, it would be global news…

If that live-saving comes from an air-ambulance, an off-duty nurse or some bystander who happens to be trained in first-aid, it’s just a couple of column inches in the newspaper, if that.


* * * * *

As you may perhaps drop coins into a busker’s guitar box as you pass them on the street, if you’ve enjoyed this, or any of my other blogs, then I would be most appreciative if you’d consider throwing a few electro-shinies into my cyber-hat, by making a donation via PayPal, either by clicking the button below...


... or, if you’re having trouble using that link, you can log in to PayPal and send any donation to my email address, thus:

Lesism@btinternet.com

Thanks in advance to those kind souls who assist and allow me to keep writing the things!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Steve Jacques & Harry Moseley

Steve Jacques may not be the most well-known name on the growing list of people interviewed to collect tributes for the inspirational Harry Moseley, but he’s certainly been one of the most passionate and influential supporters of the project and I have a great deal to thank him for.

Meeting, last month, at the world-famous Belfry golf course in the West Midlands, in England, Steve brought with him four more of his and Harry’s close friends: James & Ollie Phelps (the Weasley twins from the Harry Potter movies) and footballers, Michael Johnson (Notts County, Birmingham City, Derby County) and Ian Taylor (Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Port Vale, Northampton).

It was good fun and a great day, but most importantly, Jen and I got some superb, poignant and powerful interview footage that’s perfect for the book.

The interview with Steve was brilliant.

I hope you can follow Steve on Twitter at @stevejjacques – and also check out @StadiaSAL – a collaboration with Michael Johnson and Ian Taylor.

Please follow Harry Moseley’s Mom, Georgie, on Twitter, at:


And if you’d like to make a donation to Harry’s ongoing fundraising efforts, his website is here:


* * * * *

There’s now a Lesism Facebook Page! I’d be most appreciative if you’d give it a LIKE:


You’re also very welcome to befriend me on my regular Facebook account, here:

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Music, Frequency, Ego and Peace

Music can be one of the most accessible and effective gateways to the tranquil realm of present awareness, but – as a mirror to our minds – how it moves you depends on what you listen to.

If you’re feeling low or depressed and you start listening to depressing music, it’s a good bet you’ll remain in that subdued state.

If you’re happy and listen to upbeat, cheerful music, you’re most likely going to remain in good spirits.

If you’re happy and then listen to depressing music for hours on end, there’s a strong chance your mood may lower.

If you’re feeling low or depressed and you start listening to upbeat, cheerful tunes, it may even give you a smile and remind you that life isn’t so bad after all.

Music, and the Universe in general, is all about frequency. We have frequency in light, sound, matter, potatoes… within us and all around us… in fact, the only thing I can think of that doesn’t abide to frequency is my local bus, the 685.

It stands to reason, then, that as microcosm of a mighty cosmos, humans and their fate have an inseparable union with frequency, because we are it.

Fortunately, we can change our frequency. Unfortunately, most people don’t like to admit they know how to change their frequency.

Regard ‘low frequency’ as abuse, anger, depression, disaster, war, famine and all of the bad things of this world, then ‘high frequency’ as all the great things, such as laughter, love, peace, family, friendship.

Unless you’re in a very, very dark place right now, your impulsive preference is for the high frequency qualities of life – to smile, have fun, enjoy what you do, laugh with your mates down the pub or breathe the joy of the world in on your Sunday walk.

Nearly everyone on this planet (even emos) wants to be happy, whether that’s a deep down wish or a one they’d freely share with all around them. Yet… look at the news and you’d think there little more than hatred and ignorance to our species. We seem so entrenched in the negative, low-frequency spectrum of living.

Shrink the problems of the world into a single human body then listen to its rattling mind, and you’ll hear a similar, subjective dialogue: “I don’t like this! Why are they doing that? Are they going to hurt me? They did me harm! This must change. They can’t live there! I’m never going to forget the pain they caused me. They’re doing everything wrong. I’ll never forgive them. Bieber is a wanker.”

But underneath that cacophony of egoic ranting and chanting, most would say something along the lines of this: “I wish to be free, to love, and live a happy, peaceful life.”

So, how can it be that there is so great a will of the high-frequency, good stuff, when most of us dawdle around in the mid-range and some feel their only place in life is at in lowest vibrations?

Yes, it’s the ego again! The bloody ego!

As with your chosen mood of music, likewise with the company you are and the company you keep:

If you’re sad and you’re with a sad person, you’ll stay sad.

If you’re happy and with a happy person, you’ll stay happy.

If you’re happy, with a sad person, then you may find it difficult to stay happy.

If you’re sad, with a happy person, then you may find it difficult to stay sad, unless you’re so good at making the other person sad that the happy person becomes sad, too.

And on, this applies to the human mind and the dreaded ego:

If you’re low or depressed and continue to listen to the thoughts in your head that locked you in that sadness in the first place, you’re going to stay in a low or depressed state and most likely sink lower.

If you’re feeling great and you allow only positive, creative, constructive thoughts to fill your mind, you’re going to continue to feel great.

If you’re feeling great and then decide to focus on negativity, fear and worry, you’re not going to be feeling great for too much longer.

If you’re feeling low or depressed and you charge yourself with only positive, creative, constructive thoughts, you will begin to lift yourself up.

Sadly, it’s a common truth that the egoic mind will attempt to anchor itself in the negatives of life, so even when relatively happy, it will look for a way back down to misery. Even if there’s perceived perfection all around, it will be waiting for something to go wrong, and if that doesn’t happen on its own, soon enough, it’ll find a way to make sure its self-fulfilled prophecy comes true.

It will also look for misery when miserable. It will want those around it to know that it’s miserable. It will try to make them miserable, too. The ego is an skank like that.

Fortunately, as much of an arse the ego is, it only exists in your head and you have the ability to turn it off, through the engagement of present awareness…

Reader’s Voice: “But Les, present awareness is so difficult to learn and I just don’t think I’ll ever find it.”

Blah-blah-blah, is my response to that!

As I opened this blog with, music can be one of the most accessible and effective gateways to the tranquil realm of present awareness… but so can painting, writing, fell-walking, bird-watching, love-making, footballery and an almost limitless supply of other activities that focus our attention on the living moment.

Keira... singing?
Music is special, though – like a gift to our species. It’s an appreciation that almost all people share, in its many expressions. I’ve never seen a deaf person dance (which is an apt caricature of how I dance, now I come to think about it), but I’m sure there’s a joy of release from boogying to a thumping bass they can feel through their whole body.

Have you ever listened to something that you just loved, that made the hair on your arms stand on end and your spine and scalp tingle with energy? Have you ever just lost yourself in an album, feet up, headphones on, and let the rest of the world do its own thing for a while? Have you ever danced with someone, with a smile on your face, and interrupted for a few minutes all the miserable and worrisome stories your ego likes to repeat to you?

If yes, then if you think you’ve never experienced that peace of present awareness, or it’s too tough to reach and not worth trying for, know that you’ve already experienced it. Far from being elusive or unachievable, you’ve been there and it’s in you, waiting for you to go back.

Once you recognise this place, within, you can return just about whenever you please, and you don’t have to use music to take you there.

Granted, there are situations and events in life that throw up a fog which makes it very difficult to navigate back to that peace, immediately, but trust your heart and ignore the deception of ego, and you’ll find your way home.

Go put some music on (I’d suggest something upbeat. Radiohead or Evanescence may not help with this experiment)… listen to the instruments in the back of the song; the drums, the bass, the strings… feel the depth. Every time your mind tries to take over, focus your attention back on the sound. When your ego becomes upset about the peace you’re experiencing and tries to throw a spanner in with random thoughts of past and future, relax back into the moment and understand that everything is okay, right now.

Every one of you reading could go do this, right now, and in ten minutes understand that the same place of peace I so annoyingly bang on about is actually right there within you, too. And it’s quite nice, isn’t it?

Once you’ve got that basic sorted, it’s just a case of practice to feel that way pretty much all of the time.

And remember, you’re like a song to the people around you. If you pump a room full of happy frequency, you may even make grumpy people dance. If they don’t, tell them to get the heck out, then keep dancing.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Angry Sun


Although the solar storm we’re experiencing at the moment is only a ‘worst in five years’ event, it’s chilling to consider the implications of something much stronger hitting our planet.

Solar storms come in the wake of violent activity on the Sun, such as a solar flares, causing mind-boggling amounts of gas to be flung out into space, travelling at around 2,000 kilometres per second (which is too fast even for a speed camera to take a photo of).

When this material pounds against Earth’s magnetic field (the magnetosphere), it causes a geomagnetic storm, and this can really create problems with anything electrical.

In 1859, the most powerful solar storm in recorded history knocked out telegraph systems, with poles sparking and operators being shocked at their desks. The telegraph was just about the height of technology at the time.

In 2012, rather than electrical contraptions being few and far between, or just for the wealthy, they’re everywhere. Modern society is totally reliant on hi-tech electrical and electronic equipment; even the Taliban use mobile phones.

But it’s not just smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, satellites and so on that we’d lose, should the planet be hit by a significantly more powerful solar blast wave… it’s not that we’d be sitting twiddling our thumbs at home, with nothing to play and nobody to talk to, online, and that would be the full extent of our problems… it’s that all of our systems would collapse at the same time, because they’re run with electronic equipment.

It could silence our communication system, so the only way you could deliver a message to someone would be to hand-write it and take it there yourself. Almost all vehicles have electronic systems and they’d all be redundant. There’d be no fuel… no heating… no water supply… no restocking of supermarket shelves… no banking… no effective police system… no government… no money any more.

Imagine a city the size of London or New York suddenly without water, food and heating, with no way of resupplying when stocks ran out, knowing that even if they tried to make a break for it, wherever they go, people are going to be in the same position – slowly starving to death, drinking from polluted rivers and literally fighting for their lives. Billions could die across the planet as the rest of humanity learnt to adapt, again, to a life without electronics.

It sounds like the scenario of a disaster movie, but this is something that could actually happen within our lifetime… even within the next year. The Sun reaches its Solar Maximum in 2013, and many more large solar flares are anticipated as that occurs.

The Electric Infrastructure Security Council – a massive, international panel of politicians and scientists, brought together to look at ways of preventing or coping with such an event - say, on their website: “… the probability that modern society will face such an event is essentially 100%

Maybe it’s time to stock up on tins of beans and bottled water?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Time

I’m not an astro-physicist, but I’ve come to the conclusion that time doesn’t exist – that, rather than a dimension, it’s a measurement.

There is nothing that has happened, in time, that can’t be explained by the natural change of things.

The illusion of the Sun rising on this Earth comes from movement… the turning of the Earth and its rotation around the Sun. Yet, our Sun is perpetually moving around the gravitational centre of our galaxy, and our galaxy moves, too.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp… because it means that there really is just one moment, and everything changes within it. We are in a constant state of restructuring, and – in the sense of time – this is the same moment the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth; Christ was here; the Sun has gone into supernova; the Universe began… the Universe ends.

If you consider a mountain, and if you believe that it’s been there for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, unmoving, then you’re wrong. It’s just a massive soup of atoms, in constant travel. A mountain is always moving.

Things change. Humans have a problem with this. It doesn’t sit well with our feelings of superiority over the rest of this world we live in, and on. But we die. In 100 years, everyone who reads this will be dead and gone. This is our fate on this small rock in the incomprehensible vastness of space.

The concept of time is just a way of us rationalising the change we can’t understand.

It’s actually quite liberating, when you remove the illusion of time, because you see that life is just this constant process of change and improvement, and we are the architects of the change we want in our own lives.

I’m not an astro-physicist… just a reminder, there.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Brief History of Depression

“I’ve been to hell and back so many times, I must admit you kind of bore me.” – Ray LaMontagne

Being that I’m generally very happy, positive and enthusiastic about life and living, I sometimes encounter people who seem baffled as to how I could possibly talk with any authority on the subject of depression, let alone suggest it could - in many cases - be cured… which I firmly believe to be true.

Perhaps they hold the opinion that my life must always have been a bed of roses and I blog these bold and arrogant statements without having experienced anything more than feeling a little low?

There have even been suggestions that - because I didn’t kill myself - I can’t have been suicidal, as if the lack of making the final cut, so to speak, was a weakness.

What they don’t realise is, I went through hell…

I know that many, many people who have walked this planet have gone through or are going through worse ordeals of suffering, but in the sense of Western-world depression, I’ve ticked just about all the boxes except for executing a successful suicide… though that’s a very grim oxymoron if ever there was one.

I write about depression from the perspective of someone who’s been there. I spent over twenty years - more than half my life - inside that living nightmare and I speak openly and candidly about my experiences because I’d like to help others find their way through, too.

So… I’m going to use this blog to do two things: firstly, to give greater insight into the scale and depth of the depression I experienced; and then to explain the reasoning for my conviction that we can overcome it and remove it from our lives, as I have done.

If you’re already gritting your teeth and possibly whistling steam out of your ears at the suggestion that depression can be cured; if you think I’m meddling with things I can’t possibly understand… then I recommend you don’t read any further.

And before I carry on, I want to say that I’m not looking for sympathy in explaining some of the more intimate details of my experiences. From my perspective, here and now, I see every dark moment as a slab in the crazy-paved path that led me right to here, and I love my life. I am truly happy and have made peace with myself and all the content of my mind.

Scotland’s Action on Depression website lists the following as symptoms of depression:

http://www.actionondepression.org/depression/symptoms-of-depression?gclid=CJTc4uebwq0CFYuIfAod625rBg

• Feelings of hopelessness
• Inadequacy
• Anxiety
• Self-hatred
• Negativity
• An inability to enjoy things which were once pleasurable in life
• Guilt
• Agitation
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Loss of energy or motivation
• Loss of sex-drive
• Disturbed sleep
• Poor concentration, indecisiveness
• Irritability, anger
• Social withdrawal
• Unexplained aches and pains
• Self-harm
• Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

That list pretty much encompasses how my life used to be. I can relate to and have experienced every symptom, and they never came one at a time – they gang up.

I first started self-harming aged around 13. There was probably an element of bravado to begin with, because I used to do it with my mates, at school. We’d drag craft-knife blades across our forearms and see who could bleed the most, but when that fad wore out amonst my peers, I kept doing it. I’d cut myself, alone in my bedroom, choked up with deep, shoulder-rocking sobs and blinded by tears.

I was bullied at school, but also a bully. I’d get the occasional beatings, jibes, slaps across the head or punches in the back when I was walking along the corridors… and then I’d take it out on some other poor bugger (David – he forgave me, latterly), because it felt like my only means of control, when everything else in my life was so chaotic.

My parents had split up when I was nine or ten and my mother had to work crazy hours just to keep the proverbial wolf from the door. She’d leave for her factory job at six in the morning and return at nine at night. I had two older brothers still at home, but they both had jobs at a local hotel and usually worked in the evenings. I was almost completely unsupervised during those formative years, and without guidance, so began the descent.

I had a morbid fear of nuclear war and of people close to me dying. During my early teens, I lived in a constant state of terror, with the absolute certainty, however deluded, that I and all the people I loved were going to die in a fiery, atomic apocalypse. (This is why I advocate that people don’t live every day as if it’s their last… the last day is the shitty one.)

I was 22 ½ stone (315lbs/143kg) when I was aged 14. I was probably around six foot in height by then (being I’m 6’4” now), but I was disproportionately fat. It wasn’t condusive to the attraction of girlfriends.

I used to truant from school and buy – on credit, on my Mum’s account, from my local shop – loads of food. I remember Mr Kipling’s caramel slices, particularly. Afraid of every knock on the door, I used to hide away from the world and just eat. Sometimes, I made myself throw up, but most often I just hated myself and kept eating.

I stood on the outside of the parapet of Victoria Viaduct in Carlisle, on a ledge of about a foot, talking to policemen and explaining why it was my time to die. There was something like a hundred foot fall one step back from me, and I wanted to take that step. (The policeman lured me into talking to him, grabbed my arm and with the help of other rushing officers, pulled me over that wall.)

I’ve slit my wrist and seen the glutinous pool of blood spread across the desk, watching it and being afraid that this was it… that I’d be no more. Blood pumps out of you faster than you’d expect, if you have no expectations.

I remember being stomach pumped after a particularly nasty overdose, when I combined everything I had: sleepers, painkillers, anti-depressants… I wanted to die. I remember the tube down my throat, sucking out all the toxins, and not being able to swallow without pain the next day; and the next day, I still wanted to die – lying in my hospital bed, totally void of emotion, wishing I wasn’t there.

There were times I could watch women’s tennis and only be interested in the score.

I spent two occasions in mental hospitals. You don’t go there for fun.

I had agoraphobia and social phobia for years… I can’t remember most of my 20s. I didn’t step out of the house for months at end, at one point.

I almost pulled the life from myself, with that ligature in the woods.

I worried about everything… my past, my future… how I’d fucked up and how I hoped for better, but knew I’d fuck up again.

Now, I know I’m happy.

What I want to teach is that this really is possible – happiness is yours to take - and those who may pour disbelief and criticism upon my words are really not helping you or I.

I don’t pretend to know every form or manifestation of depression, but I’m guessing that a lot of you out there have experienced something of the above – and if you have, then the good news is that there is a cure… there is the truth that you don’t have to suffer until the end of your days believing that you have an eternal disease.

Depression is a lie we tell ourselves. It is nothing more than that.

It’s self-deceit.

Your own mind is attacking you; making you believe that you are it, when you are much more powerful than your thoughts.

This is the ego.

So, anyway, this is why I feel I’m qualified to talk about depression.