It was nearly 25 years ago that my brain broke. A cool spring evening in a small town in Scotland. Having just returned from living in Florida for two years, I was taking the opportunity to spend some time with my parents and old friends. Life in Florida hadn’t panned out the way we had wanted but I would never regret taking the opportunity to give it a go.
I think it was a Friday night. My memory of the whole situation is a little vague. I was with my friend Nick. A great friend from school who I had known for nearly 15 years. I was 25 at the time. We had decided to go round to another friend’s house to see how he was doing and if he wanted to come out on the town with us. Gareth was a music man. Ever since I had known him, he was playing guitar or some other instrument.
It had been around 5 years since I had seen them both. Nick hadn’t changed much. He was living with his girlfriend and seemed to be doing well. Gareth had gone from a long-haired heavy metal grunge guy to an electronic dance music creator. That struck me as strange but pretty cool. Especially since I was a DJ and organized raves in our local area prior to going to Florida.
It didn’t take long for us all to get comfortable with each other again. How do you get comfortable when you’re 25 and getting ready to go out? Well, smoking some weed was always a good start! In truth, I hadn’t smoked for a quite a while. I was married with kids and had given it up when I was around 20. No particular reason, just preferred life without it. Gareth on the other hand seemed to be the quite the expert. He popped up with a pipe and passed it around.
When it got to me, I didn’t want anyone to think I was inexperienced. So, after a large exhale, I sucked on that pipe like it contained the elixir of life. And then………nothing. No, not as if it didn’t affect me. I think I blacked out. It was weird. We were all in Gareth’s bedroom at the time and when I came too, I was still there but they were outside. I could see them in the garden through the window.
“What the fuck is going on” was the only thing I could think. Why are they in the garden? Why is my brain all fizzy? That’s the only word I could come up with to explain it. It was kind of like “pins and needles” in my brain, similar to the sensation if you bang your funny bone. They noticed that I was back in the realm of the living and came back to the bedroom. No mention of what had transpired was uttered from either of their mouths.
We proceeded to go to the local pub. I knew I wasn’t quite feeling right. It was like a bad trip without the hallucinations. The bar was busy. Dozens of people squeezed into a small space. The music was loud, and people were doing the best to overcome this by shouting their conversations. It was starting to overload my senses. My mouth started to go dry. My senses were tingling like Spiderman but not in a good way. And then bang. My first ever panic attack. Why is everyone looking at me? Do they know I smoked weed? Is it stamped on my forehead? My brothers here, did he notice? Will he tell my parents? It got so bad I had to get the hell out of there. Fast!
I walked back to my parents’ house. It was where I was staying during this visit. The walk was around 10 minutes, but it was filled with utter paranoia. It wouldn’t leave me. I couldn’t reason with it. It was like my brain had a life of its own and was determined to make sure I was nervous about everything. I was questioning everything. Noises, people, shadows. Oh shit, what the fuck do I do?
And that was the start of a really rough period. Find out more next week as I describe how a broken brain can affect your life yet be invisible from everyone. This will then lead into how I overcame the difficulties and started on the road to repair. It’s a nice ending. I promise.