When I was little I was just a normal little boy. At school I was above average intelligence but nothing special. I was in the football team and captained the chess team. When I was seven I was placed in a class of eight-nine year olds. I was in a year ahead of myself until the age of ten-eleven. I am not sure why that happened but I enjoyed it. At primary school I had fun.
In my early years I had crushes on girls. When I was seven a friend and I made sneezing powder from charcoal and pencil sharpenings. We should have been studying. When I was seven I became a free reader which meant I could read whatever I wanted to. (A friend and I collected page 3s from The Sun newspaper. At Christmas we made paper chains.
In my final year at Primary School we began a business selling stamps to budding collectors. This worked fine until the headmaster intervened. Twice when I was ten we had to march down to the hall for our 11+. I found the papers difficult but I passed. At football practice the teacher who took us used to line us up on the goal lineand kick footballs at us. I didn’t like that much.
In my early teens I became very anxious. I used to hate science, especially chemistry. Yearly exams were a nightmare. I played cricket for the school, but I would pray that matches would be cancelled so I could go home. I enjoyed History and Latin. For my O levels I started revising at Christmas of my final year. I made reams of notes. By exam time I was physically and mentally shattered. I almost had a breakdown. I got through the exams, just. I felt ill all summer.
I got headaches and stomach ache at exam time. I obtained a place at Oxford University to study History. I enjoyed it but soon became ill. I started feeling sick before tutorials. During my second year I started getting headaches and suicidal thoughts. These expressed themselves as pictures of slashed wrists. Mentally I came to a complete halt.
After my second year at University I left. The suicidal thoughts and headaches were unbearable. I began seeing a Psychiatrist. This may sound strange but I was too ill to be in hospital. My time was filled with discussion groups, psychiatric appointments and yoga. I was supported during this period by my family and my girlfriend. After a year I was marginally better. I returned to Oxford but failed to finish. Since this period I have spent some months as a psychiatric in patient and I have to take medication.
In recent years I have made great progress. I worked for some time in Westminster Abbey in London. I have also worked in the bookshop at Liverpool Cathedral. I have a counselling certificate and an NVQ in History. I go to a drop-in every week. I live in a self-contained flat in a residential home. I still have to see the psychiatrist once a year.
Life is not perfect, but it is better than it was. I have a lot to be thankful for. Every day of my life is different.