Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Story (god, that sounds so much more pretentious than I was intending)

Starting at the age of thirteen, I was caught up in some heavy mind-fucking shit. This continued almost every day until only a few years ago. The best way to describe it is a mix of an OCD mentality and an extreme existential crisis... having to be dealt with by a young teenager without the ability or life experience necessary to cope with such problems. My worries stemmed from the fragility of life and having to grasp everything that came with that realisation.

I was thirteen, living in America at the time, and in between the end of the American school year and the beginning of the Australian one, was on an extended four month school holidays before coming back home. I was always pretty fragile as a younger child, with a proclivity to say sorry more than the average kid. It sounds like a good quality, but when 'sorry' isn't necessary, you only worry yourself and bug others. So when I started worrying about things a little more at thirteen, I didn't really see the writing on the wall. But when I found myself needing to tap my fingers the same amount of times on each hand, I instantly knew something was wrong and I remember not liking it at all. And from there it grew, and fast. I was now spending more days by myself than ever before, and this is when I started to have a sense of guilt about some things. I was soon spending everyday, from the time I woke up to the time I went back to bed, studying every thought, even the thoughts of the thoughts. I didn't want this, but it was starting to become uncontrollable. I had impulses in the form of voices telling me to do something I didn't want to do, and in turn I would feel guilty for even thinking it. I did think for a while that it was the devil's voice. Having a conversation with my parents was unbearable for both parties, as I would end up not being able to listen or concentrate on things being said and when I did, I would feel irrationally guilty for whatever it is I said or thought. None of these conversations would ever end up being a shouting match or anything aggressive, but I do remember my dad getting justifiably frustrated often and wondering why his son was such a wimp. I remember a conversation with my mum in which she said that they might have to take me to a mental institution. We actually had a name for all this, 'The Guilty Feeling'. That term would be used all the time over the next year.

Towards the end of my time in America, I had a thought. Needless to say, it was a very convoluted one, but it can be summed up: If I can't feel what I felt in the past, then what was the point of doing it. And if what I'm doing right now will become the past, then why am I doing this.

This single thought is what drove me to depression. Let's call this thought 'The Thing'. Whenever I thought of 'The Thing', I saw everything around me as almost non-existent and pretty much life itself as a black hole. I learned pretty soon to avoid the thought when it arose.

On the plane back to Australia, I was excited. But when we arrived and flew over Sydney, I couldn't enjoy it. I looked out the window and heard a voice in my head that said, "what's so special about this place, it's just a piece of land attached to the other piece of land I was on a few hours ago." It's like I was determined to sabotage any happiness I could have...

Once I was back in school, I had enough distractions that I only thought about 'The Thing' a few times a day. And then once a day. And then once a week. Until finally, it would pop into my head once every few months, where I would literally clench my teeth and wait for it to leave.

I felt as if I knew a secret but I didn't want to tell anybody because if they knew, they would feel what I felt and I didn't wish that on anyone. I had a vivid image in my head of myself standing at a podium, telling a crowd of millions about 'The Thing', and I genuinely thought that if that if that were to happen, there would be chaos.

By year 12, 'The Guilty Feeling' and 'The Thing' had mostly eased up, but if you ever saw me drunk back then you could tell that something was under the surface and it didn't take much more than a few beers to get it out. The more often I got drunk, the more often I had to face the fact that I didn't really see much point in living. I knew as soon as I started thinking of suicide that it was the wrong idea, but just like only a few years earlier, I didn't really have much control over my mind.

People talk about being a born again Christian and the day that they were saved. Well, if Buddhism is a religion then I was saved by a man named Dr Barry Davie. He is our family doctor, but also a family friend and an amazing person. I sat in his office in July of 2006 and told him everything. He listened with understanding and told me about a place where you can go and meditate with Buddhists for ten days. Let me remind you this is a doctor telling me this! I walked in to his office prepared to be sent to a specialist that deals with depression, not to sit in a room for ten days and not talk to anyone. After hearing Dr Davie's reasons for why I should go, I said I would, and a month later I was practicing Vipassana meditation for ten days in the Blue Mountains. On day six, I was meditating in my room and had the key moment that changed me, and since then, I've had many more and I hope they never stop arriving. Those ten days definitely changed my life and my attitude towards it.

Since then I have lead a pretty awesome life, meeting Helly, reforming Vienna Circus, and finding some amazing friends. I also find humor in more things than I ever have, and that to me may be the most important thing to come out of this, as it affects everything and everyone else. I can have some downer days too, but they're few and far between. I don't have 'The Guilty Feeling' at all anymore and when it comes to 'The Thing', I can stare at it straight in the face without fear or pain. In fact, there's an irony there, because when I was at the meditation camp, one of the wonderful things I realised was that if I can't feel what I felt in the past, then what was the point of worrying about it. And if what I'm doing right now will become the past, then why am I worrying about this. Remind you of something?

Turns out the thing I was in a funk about was the same thing that got me out of it.

 - Lee


  1. haha.. funk

    Nice article man, I like how open you are about your past and your emotions - it's very refreshing.

  2. I think after reading this and talking to you about it, the best thing to take out of it is perspective. The last line suggests that you changed your outlook on life and thats what led you to be a happier person...weirdo

  3. Eden, my brother... you and your friends are an interesting bunch...
    thanks for the stories guys, you are giving me some great insights into the practice of my social sciences and counselling! Why don't you all come to coogee with eadz next time?

  4. Fude, that was awesome. An amazing look into the mind. Makes me think, as I am one to be stuck in the chaos that is the mind. But your words give me hope. Hope that life itself will guide you.

    Real words lee, keep them coming.