Merry F'kin Christmas

Are you feeling a little grumpy as we near Christmas? Or is it just me?

To be fair, it could just be me.

It’s been 6 weeks since I stopped taking my anti-depressants cold turkey (I’m sure there’s a joke about Christmas leftovers here somewhere). And I’m definitely more irritable.

Though I’d much rather be irritable than depressed.

Actually, I’ve had consistently good moods: literally 6 solid weeks of 4/5 or 5/5 days (as measured by the excellent Pixels app by Teo Vogel).

I can’t remember the last time I had 6 weeks of solid good moods. Over the last few years, it’s been rare for me to go more than 2 or 3 weeks without a few days of depression in which I struggle to get out of bed or have enough motivation to do anything at all.

I’m definitely feeling more irritable than usual, but not so much that it has a significant impact on my happiness levels or general satisfaction with life. Phew!

Many Reasons to be Grumpy

At this time of year in particular, there are plenty of reasons to be feeling grumpy.

There’s the stress of preparing for the big day – buying and wrapping presents, tidying the house (if you’re having guests over), trying to make sure you’ve got all those extra little jobs sorted out in time.

And then there’s incompetent delivery companies… yes, I’m looking at YOU, Hermes UK. You’ve managed to lose a parcel which contained a little boy’s Christmas present, despite the fact it was sent two weeks ago.

Yes, it was insured, but that’s not the point, is it. This present can’t easily be replaced. And by now it’s certainly too late.

You had ONE job, Hermes. ONE.

Managing Emotions

So yeah, there are a 1001 things to do and even more reasons I could use to justify why I’m a bit irritable and grumpy.

But that’s not how I want to feel.

And so I remind myself of a few things which help to return me to a place of calm.

I remember that there are people sleeping on the streets this Christmas, so I should consider myself lucky that I can even afford to send presents.

I remember that although it’s difficult to totally avoid all of life’s little irritations, I can choose how I respond to them.

I can choose to stew on those annoyances, obsessively ruminating on all the reasons I’m justified in feeling angry.

Trust me, I’m an expert at making mountains out of molehills. That’s a big part of why I ended up with clinical depression.

If I continue down that path, pretty soon I’ll have backed myself into a corner, filled with rage. I’ll be a dark, angry, depressed mess, just in time for Santa.

You should have seen me one year ago. I was depressed as fuck. I refused to actually run during the Christmas Day Park Run. Instead, I walked it, stubborn as Mary’s mule.

I hastily deleted the photos taken by the official race photographer. I’m surprised my miserable face hadn’t cracked his lens!


I can choose just to Let It Go (credit: Frozen). I can choose not to let those irritations get to me.

I can acknowledge the feeling of irritation in my mind. I can notice the tension in my body. And I can just… breathe it all out.

Ahhh, peace. Now that’s how I want to feel this Christmas.

And If All Else Fails…

… just get drunk and start a violent altercation with the nearest bystander.

See you in prison!

Merry Christmas, love from Rock Bollinger x

The Pros and Cons of Psychosis

On Tuesday 13th August 2019, I took a large quantity of mind-bending drugs. During the next few days, my wife and I realised I seemed to have changed in quite a dramatic way. Whether these changes are temporary or not, remains to be seen.

On Monday 19th August Friday 23rd August [I’ve been having some trouble keeping track of the days], I underwent an in-depth mental health assessment, yielding a provisional diagnosis of drug-induced psychosis.

It was difficult to resolve my feelings around this. Surely psychosis = very bad… and yet on balance I’d say this has been 90%+ a positive experience for me. (Though it’s been much less easy for those around me.)

On Monday 19th August, I began attending a 12 Steps fellowship to help with my addiction issues. I don’t feel this is totally unrelated to the unusual experiences I’ve been having.

I’m not sure if this state will last forever, so I’ve been blogging like crazy to document all the ideas and insights which have been occurring to me. Some of my posts may turn out to be nonsensical – the products of a mentally ill mind. Some may turn out to be very useful indeed.

So, I’m wondering if it’s actually fair to consider what I’m experiencing as a form of pathology. It feels much more like a gift.

Here’s a quick summary of the Pros/Cons of the psychosis I’m experiencing.


  • Tonnes of energy and motivation
  • Ability to concentrate and pay attention has improved considerably (with the occasional exception, especially when tired).
  • A strong sense that my life has meaning (which wasn’t present before, or at least not as strongly)
  • Ability to link together different ideas in creative and novel ways. (Look at the sheer volume of blog posts I’ve written in the last 10 days or so!)
  • I literally feel like I’m “sped up”… to perhaps 150% of my usual cognition.
  • An almost supernatural feeling that I’m always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. It’s a bit like I’ve take the magic luckiness potion from Harry Potter.
  • Virtually zero anxiety, fear, depression or stress.
  • A near constant (yet gentle) sense of serene love: for living in the moment, for myself and for others.
  • I feel as if I’m more closely aligned with the Truth, in several senses.
  • Zero social anxiety. I used to avoid speaking to people on the phone because it made me anxious; Now I embrace it. I used to pass people in public and hope they wouldn’t catch my eye or talk to me; Now I’m actively seeking out social interactions and I feel totally at ease.
  • Crazy levels of intuition about all sorts of things.
  • An ability to come up with powerful visual analogies for complex concepts, almost at a moment’s notice.
  • I can almost feel my field of attention around me (which I like to call my AT Field in deference to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.)
  • I’m far more assertive, able to (hopefully gently) bring up difficult truths where previously I’d simply have bitten my tongue and buried my feelings.
  • My wife and I are talking more openly and honestly than ever before in our almost 20 years of being together. As a result, my sense of connection to her has deepened and my feelings of love and respect towards her have increased even higher than they already were. Although I’ve listed this last, it’s easily the best of all the good side-effects.


  • My sleep is a total mess. I’m maybe averaging 4 hours of broken sleep per night. This disturbs my wife during the night too (for which I feel very guilty).
  • My energy levels can be very strong for most of the day, but I’m also getting crippling periods of tiredness where my brain feels like it’s trying its hardest to shutdown. This is most problematic after 8pm. This tiredness makes it hard to function until I’ve had some sleep.
  • Sometimes, I have total “brain farts” where my concentration goes completely and I need prompting for what to do next. I had these before, but they seem more common now.
  • My short-term memory has been shockingly bad. I’m relying on calendars, alarms and my wife to get me through the day and ensure I don’t miss important tasks.
  • I am unintentionally annoying sometimes in conversation. If someone asks a rhetorical or hypothetical question, my brain immediately sets to work trying to find a valid answer. So, often I’ve been providing detailed and complex answers to questions which didn’t really need answering.
  • Unfortunately, in one case, I’ve been a little too forthright with my insights and opinions. This has alienated me from a couple of good friends who were not ready to hear what I had to say because it challenged their egos too strongly (or too soon). So – I’ve been much more cautious with other people since then. I’m on my own path, they’re on theirs. It’s not up to me to attempt to intervene in their lives. I can only hope that I’ve not permanently damaged the friendships. Hopefully, with enough time, things will get better.

(I’ll update the above lists as and when I recall other symptoms / side-effects).

My hope is that any reasonable observer might take a look at the lists above and also conclude that I seem to be getting much more positives out of this experience than negatives.

I kinda hope I don’t lose it, ever! Ideally I’ll be able to keep the pros and find ways to cope with the cons (especially the disrupted sleep).

Nooo! I’ve lost my phone!


My heart sank. I couldn’t find my phone anywhere.


Me, eyes wide in terror

The sense of panic was snowballing. Where could I have left it? Did I drop it somewhere?

If I retrace my steps, will it still be where I’ve left it? Will someone have stolen it? Maybe a kind stranger will find it and hand it in to the police. I really hope they do.

How much would it cost to replace? I’m sure it was over £500. And I have no phone insurance. Can I realistically afford to get a replacement?

My internal monologue was fully revved up. My heart was hammering and my breaths were short and fast.

And then I remembered: It doesn’t have to be like this.

I don’t have to feel this way if I don’t want to. I can choose how I think, feel and behave. And that’s all I can do.

I can’t control anything outside myself. What will be, will be.

For a while now, I’ve been learning about Stoic and Buddhist ideas. They share quite a few things in common. I’ve been trying to implement many of their ideas in my life, with some success. Yesterday was perhaps my greatest success yet.

If I’m meant to find my phone, I will find it. Fate has already decided. If my phone is meant to leave my possession now, or if it’s broken, then it was the right time for these events to take place.

What will be, will be, and I can’t affect it.

So, I may as well stay calm and enjoy myself until I’ve finished what I need to do. Then I can calmly and quietly try to find my phone.

And I was calm. And I enjoyed myself. The stress, panic and anxiety just melted away.

I returned home at precisely the time when destiny intended for me to get home.

And there, waiting for me, was my phone.