Up or Down?

Today feels like another of those pivotal moments… depending on how I handle things in the next few hours, my life could take a turn for the worse…

…Or maybe I’ll be able to use my arsenal of mental health tools’n’techniques to dodge the knockout punch which life is aiming my way.

If today was happening just a year or two ago, I’d say there would be a good chance I’d be heading into another depressive episode.

Fortunately, I have an ever-increasing belief that I (probably) have the inner strength to handle this. I hope I’m right.


So, What’s Going On?

Let’s start with the facts: Physically I don’t feel great: tired & achey. Mentally I’m not so hot either… brain fog, lingering sadness.

My old friend’s suicide is affecting me a little… but to be fair I haven’t seen her in ten years, so I’m less distressed than if she’d been my closest friend and we’d been better at keeping in touch.

12 Steps

I’ve been pulling away from Narcotics Anonymous. I’m coming up against barriers inside my own mind which are making it hard for me to feel close to people within the fellowship. I’m losing the sense of community I felt previously. I’m also intentionally avoiding my sponsor because much of what he tells me I find unhelpful. I haven’t attended a meeting in at least a week – I’m questioning its value for me personally.

On the plus side, I don’t see myself quitting Narcotics Anonymous completely. I still can very much see the value in doing the “stepwork” from the NA Step Working Guide book. It forces you to carefully consider your relationship to the 12 Steps. It helps you become a better person. And yet I’ve been procrastinating getting stuck into it for weeks. I’m at the start of Step 2, but I keep finding way more interesting things to do around the house… mostly DIY, which at least has felt productive. Yeah, I suck at routines and discipline.

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, there are lots of things I dislike about the 12 Steps. However, overall, I still feel it’s beneficial for me. So I’m going to keep going.

Anti-depressant Withdrawal

It’s a little over 3 weeks since I cold-turkeyed from Fluoxetine. This is precisely the timeframe where I might expect to feel the withdrawal effects on my moods and emotions.

I’m certainly feeling emotions more strongly now. The other day, I nearly cried while listening to some emotive music – that’s not happened to me for years.

Physical Effects

Recently, I’ve been really struggling to establish a good routine with diet, exercise and sleep. Again!

I know those 3 factors are very important for my mental health. When I consume too much sugar, don’t get enough exercise and keep staying up into the early hours of the morning, it’s an almost guaranteed recipe for worsening mental health.

Bad Dream

Last night I had a bad dream which repeated many elements of another disturbing dream I had recently.

I was in London and wanted to get home. “Home” in my dream was Hampshire, where I grew up. It’s westwards from London. But I got on the wrong train and accidentally headed North. I didn’t even realise I was on the wrong train until the train was outside London.

Once I realised, I got off at the next stop and planned how I would get back to Hampshire. It was going to take forever.

I would also need to walk through a place where I knew a lot of old acquaintances would be using drugs. It would be hard for me to resist.

This morning I’ve been trying to work out if the dream holds any significant meaning. What is it trying to tell me?

I find it alarming if my unconscious thinks that going North is/was a mistake. My wife and I moved North 9 years ago. Sure, we’ve had some difficulties, and it’s been tough for me being socially isolated (I’ve not made much effort to make new friends locally).

However, I can’t stress this enough: I have zero regrets about moving to Yorkshire. I love it here. My hometown holds a lot of painful memories for me and I have no inclination to return.

I’m 100% committed to my wife. My intention is that we’re going to be together until we die.

Moving North was very much NOT a mistake. So, what else could the dream mean?

Perhaps it simply means I’ve been heading in the wrong direction recently. Maybe I’ve been spending way too much time being obsessed with DIY when really it would be wiser to get stuck into NA meetings and stepwork.

Or perhaps the dream holds no meaning at all and I’m too eager to read something into it.

Maybe I should just “collapse the house of cards” – remove all sense of meaning and interpretation from these recent events. Maybe I need to get back to my “being mode” – experiencing life as it is, mindfully, without layering on so much meaning, which only exists inside my own head.

Taking Action

Practical steps I can start taking immediately to wrestle control of my life away from any impending depression:

  1. Remember that nothing holds any meaning unless I decide it does. That immediately reduces any emotional valency.
  2. Get busy. Do some DIY or something productive. Be mindful whilst doing this.
  3. Exercise, eat better today, get a good night’s sleep tonight.
  4. Listen to my favourite music.
  5. Be kind to myself.
  6. Reach out to my NA sponsor. I’ll chat with him at 3pm today.
  7. Get stuck in to working Step 2 this weekend.
  8. Cry if I really need to. Don’t bottle up emotion, but equally don’t wallow in it.
  9. Remind myself I’m on the right path, despite what the dream might suggest.
  10. I just felt this list should have 10 items and not 9. LOL.

I Predicted a Terrorist Attack – And it Happened!

During the peak of my drug-induced psychosis in August 2019, I predicted there would be a terrorist attack today, 09/11/2019 (UK date format).

And it’s happened.

What Exactly Did I Predict?

I predicted the following things about the attack:

  • It would be like the UK version of the 9/11 attacks in New York – a huge disaster. This is why the date is 9/11 in UK format.
  • There were no people in the city at the time of the attack, meaning no people would be injured or killed. But lots of property would be damaged.
  • I would be responsible in some way for limiting the severity of the attack. I’d pilot the giant robot UNIT-01 from the anime Evangelion and fight an Angel in order to save mankind.
  • I would need to link together my conscious and unconscious minds in order to be effective. This is what happens when I sync with UNIT-01 to be effective in combat.

So What Actually Happened?

OK, I admit it: I only dreamed of a terrorist attack in the early hours of this morning! As far as a I know, there hasn’t been any attacks in the real world, only inside my head.

Here are the detail of my dream:

I was back working at an old employer from many years ago. A disgruntled customer had hacked in to the company’s IT systems and was systematically wrecking all of the servers and networking devices. This was designated as a terrorist attack against the company. It seemed the hacker just wanted to destroy the company, he wasn’t interested in extortion or blackmail.

System after system went offline as the hacker’s viruses and other tools wrecked everything. In a desperate attempt to save some servers, they were ripped off shelves and disconnected from the network. But we weren’t entirely sure if the hacker had already managed to infiltrate them.

The hack brought the entire company to its knees. None of its IT systems were working. It would take weeks, if not months, to rebuild all the systems. Most of the company’s data had been irretrievably lost. In my dream, the company didn’t appear to be using any off-site backups.

We had no idea how the hacker so easily bypassed all of the company’s layers of security. It was one of the most advanced and devastating hacking attacks the world had ever seen.

Some years earlier, I had developed an automated system which would help us to rebuild the company’s systems. After I’d spent a little time refreshing my memory about how it all worked, I felt confident I could help the company get back onto its feet.

How Accurate Was My Prediction?

Elephant in the room… I didn’t predict a real terrorist attack. And the dream I had was probably just my unconscious acting out the earlier predication.

The attack happened to a UK company, so the location was right.

The date of the attack was correct.

I thought that a city would suffer severe damage. But in my dream, only IT equipment was damaged.

I correctly predicted that no people were harmed, only property (IT equipment).

I correctly predicted that I would have a role in reducing the severity of the attack (by helping to rebuild IT systems).

My conscious and unconscious minds are linked by virtue of the fact I had a dream (unconscious) and then remembered it when I awoke (conscious). So that’s correct.

What Does My Dream Mean?

I have no idea. Seriously.

Summary

Basically, my dream was an almost perfect manifestation of my earlier prediction. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like this before.

I don’t think I can call myself a psychic. All we can say is that the unconscious mind works in mysterious ways!

From my point of view, this has all been an amusing distraction, nothing more really.

Now let’s see what happens on the 29th November!

A New Suit

Let me tell you about a dream I had last night…

It had been a rough night. I’d been out partying with my friends. Things had gotten a little wild – I felt hungover, the expensive suit I’d bought not long ago was damaged and torn. I didn’t feel good about the state I was in, my head was foggy and I felt thoroughly sorry for myself.

I was at the suit shop, eager to see if my suit could be repaired or replaced. I eyed the gaggle of slick salesmen warily. I didn’t trust salesmen. I felt they could sense my emotional vulnerability and would use it to manipulate me.

They didn’t.

They genuinely helped me. They wanted what was best for me. They weren’t interested in fleecing me for money. They were only concerned with making me look as good as possible, without costing me an arm and a leg.

As the salesmen attended to my needs, they told me funny stories. They were tapping into my emotional state. They were helping me to feel better. They started to feel like friends. They were fixing me on the inside as well as the outside.

I looked in the mirror as I tried on new clothes. I looked a million times better than before. I felt better too.

The clothes they’d suggested for me weren’t particularly conventional, they certainly weren’t what I would have chosen for myself. But I had to admit, I did look stylish. It was a crushed black velvet suit! But the salesmen knew what outfit would work for me. And thanks to the funny and honest anecdotes they’d shared, I felt much better in myself too.

It was almost too much for me, I was on the verge of tears. I was so grateful to these guys for the help they’d offered. They completely turned me around. They obviously weren’t doing their jobs for money – they were doing it because they loved helping people.

As I left the shop, I realised I had something like ice skates on the bottoms of my shoes. This meant I could travel very fast… and I did. As I accelerated through the shopping mall, it started to feel like I was driving a rally car at breakneck speeds. Even when there were bumps in the road, my ice skates kept me secure and perfectly safe. I was travelling faster than I’d ever managed before.


When interpreting dreams, it’s important not to over-interpret. The part of myself that was dreaming – it was trying to communicate with me as clearly as it could, just in pictures.

Here’s what I make of the dream…

The wild night represents me taking drugs, with things often getting out of control. My ripped suit represents my severely damaged life and battered self-esteem.

The suit shop is the 12 Steps fellowship. At first I was suspicious and sceptical of the people there. But I soon realised they just wanted to help me. They weren’t trying to con or manipulate me.

The salesmen shared their heartfelt stories… and it changed me at a deep level emotionally. This was at the same time as the salesmen were finding a better life (suit) for me to try on.

For most of my adult life, I’ve had dreams where I can fly. I absolutely love these dreams. To me, they represented freedom from the everyday life most other people took part in. While others had to walk around, I could effortlessly fly.

But quite often with flying, I could see where I wanted to go, but I just couldn’t get there. Often I’d be looking at the top of buildings I wanted to fly over, but something was preventing me from gaining enough height to get over them. It was like I was stuck, moving very slowly in mid-air. No matter how much willpower I applied, I was stuck.

Now, in this dream, I had ice skates. These represented being grounded. For once, rather than trying to escape normal life (by flying), I could become even more connected to it.

Not only that, but the ice skates allowed me to travel at incredible speeds through life, in perfect safety, even when there were bumps in the road which would throw other people into the air.

I was no longer stuck, I could move forward… and quickly. I couldn’t see very far ahead, but I was able to just trust that everything was going to be OK. I no longer needed to rely on my own willpower to force myself to move. It just happened naturally, thanks to the ice skates the salesmen had given me.

Maybe the ice skates are the 12 Steps (known as “stepwork”). They are what are going to keep me grounded and safe whilst also accelerating my progress through life.

P.S. I don’t recommend ice skating whilst wearing a business suit.

P.P.S. Want a cool soundtrack to me ice skating through a shopping mall whilst wearing a suit? Hear you go.

A Circle of Monkeys

One of my favourite stories in the history of chemistry is about a man called August Kekulé.

Once upon a time, long ago, Kekulé was trying to determine the chemical structure of the organic molecule known as benzene. It had several strange properties.

One night, Kekulé had a dream which involved a circle of monkeys, each holding onto the next one’s tail.

On waking, he realised his dream explained the structure of benzene: a ring of carbon atoms with alternate single and double bonds.

At the time, Kekulé’s model of benzene was widely accepted as accurate. Skip forward to today and we now have a more accurate and refined model of the nature of the chemical bonds in benzene, but for a long time Kekulé’s model reined supreme.

What can we learn from this?

Inspiration can come from the strangest of places.

– Bollinger, R. 2019

We still don’t have an accurate idea of how the human brain works. As time marches on, our understanding of neuroscience improves, but there’s still huge amounts we don’t have a clue about.

Some of the stuff the human brain is capable of might seem strange or spooky. But just because we don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.

Is it possible to extract any useful meaning from our dreams? The legendary psychologist Freud and his successor Jung certainly thought so. And I’ve demonstrated above that Kekulé was able to advance the science of chemistry thanks to a dream.


So if dreams can sometimes be useful, what about mental illness? You’ve probably heard some people say that creative geniuses often have a touch of madness about them.

What about drug-induced psychosis? Should we automatically dismiss the ideas and supposed insights of someone who has psychosis?

What does psychosis even mean? Well, all it really means is that the person experiencing psychosis has altered perceptions of reality, compared to most other people.

Altered. Not wrong. Certainly not useless.

Sure, some of the ravings of a madman might be useless nonsense. But some of it might just be genius.

Why would we arrogantly throw the baby away with the bath water? And yet this is a common mistake which even the cleverest of us are inclined to make.

Surely it makes more sense to take each idea on its own merit. If it’s patently absurd, and doesn’t withstand scientific scrutiny, then reject it. But if it looks like it might have a kernel of truth to it, why not examine it a bit more closely?

Perhaps the person with psychosis hasn’t expressed themselves using terms which make much sense to others. But if we attempted to interpret what they’re saying in the same way we might attempt to extract meaning from a dream, what might we learn?

Human brains seem to have an ability to think in pictures. And that ability seems to have been enhanced for me recently. It feels like I found a way to tap into my unconscious mind more deeply. I think of it as a little like dreaming while awake.

It’s now over a month since I last consumed any drugs. I feel back to my usual self (more or less). And I am utterly convinced that 95%+ of the insights I’ve documented in this blog are valid and useful.

Perhaps my work needs a little refining. Maybe some rewording would help scientific-leaning minds to find my ideas more palatable.

But my ideas and insights are certainly not useless. Only those with huge egos and blind arrogance would think so.