“Jaysis Gar….ya look like a massive bag of shite buddy.” This wonderful assessment of my person was provided to me the other day by (believe it or not), a good friend of mine. Hmmmm… with friends like that, who needs enemies? But he was right. I’ve looked terrible lately….I’ve felt terrible lately. But the most shocking thing for me is, I allowed myself to manifest into this negative entity. I gave up. I stopped trying. I felt sorry for myself. And as a result, I made all the problems I am currently dealing with, worse than they truly are. Lately, the majority of my thoughts have been of the negative variety – “Why is it always me?” / “Why can’t I catch a break?” / “Why won’t someone help me?” I hope, by the end of this blog, that you will understand why I was asking myself such sad and negative questions. But, I also hope, in fact I pray (and I’m not even slightly religious) that you will see how, initially, I gave up…initially, I became an even bigger gobshite than usual. But, I have been working so hard to eradicate those feelings of self-pity and sorrow, and I now feel like I am emerging from my “bunker” – the war is coming to an end. How very dramatic!
I am a firm believer in sharing, and those that know me, know how I try with all my might to champion the idea of talking about your problems. I always offer myself to others, in the hope I can help them through the “shitty times.” But lately, I have found that I’ve been unable to follow my own advice.
So, with that in mind, I decided to write this blog. A blog I can promise, is wrote with honesty. Yes, this blog deals with my current situation, but I really, really hope, that it may help someone who might be experiencing some “shitty times” themselves. Sometimes, just knowing you are “not the only one,” can be a good place to start your rebuilding. This is how I’ve dealt with my problems, and it may not be a good fit for all…but hopefully it might just help someone emerge from their own “bunker.”
And for those who may read this, and are lucky enough to be quite content with how their life currently is, maybe reading this blog will make you more aware of those around you who may be struggling, so you can offer yourself to them and help them get through it.
Either way, I just really hope you enjoy the read…and I hope you enjoy meeting “Freddie The Fly!”
So, here we go: Me, Myself and Fly 🙂
“Your health is your wealth…” Well, if that’s the case, then I am currently flat-broke! I find it hard to remember when it all started. Sometimes it feels like the pain, discomfort and feelings of “meh” have been around forever…but that’s silly right? I have always tried with all my might, to push-on through my current health situation, and up until recently, I feel I’ve done a pretty good job. I have been blessed to be able to launch two books, one year apart, but it was the launch night of my second book, Life After Joy: A Prisoner No More, that the mortars started flying over my head.
That night was one of the most amazing nights I have ever experienced in my life. I got to meet some incredible people for the first time, and (I hope), we all shared a really special evening together. My only glitch on the night, was the fact I was crippled in pain…the same pain I have been experiencing for quite some time now, but on this particular night, it seemed to be more uncomfortable than usual. I remember standing in front of all these wonderful people, as I gave my “thank you” speech, and read a chapter from my book. I remember feeling like I was actually going to pass out…the pain and discomfort was almost unbearable. But I got through it. Myself and my partner Antoinette headed home that evening, and as we sat in the back of the taxi, I cradled my head into Antoinette’s lap, and felt an immediate comfort from her soft touch, as she slowly and lovingly stroked my head. “Fuckin’ hell Annie…I’m in bits,” I say to her as the tears come streaming down my face. “I know Gar, I know,” came Antoinette’s soothing reply. Little did we both know, that the war had only just begun….
The next few days and weeks began to amalgamate into one great-big blur. The pain and discomfort was increasing, yet I refused to give up. You know what I mean here folks…I’m sure you have been there before. The thoughts that flood your mind can really weigh heavily: “I have to keep pushing…” / “I’m becoming a nuisance…” / I CAN’T GIVE UP!” With my own situation, I sometimes find walking to be…well, to be a massive ‘pain in the arse’ if I’m honest! But, I had convinced myself that I needed to keep going…keep pushing. I just hadn’t factored in the damage I was inflicting on my mental-health, until it was too late. Every day felt like a battle of sorts, and the day I retreated to my bunker, is one of the most embarrassing moments in my life.
I had decided to go for a walk. Easy right? I am currently out of work, and it is driving me insane, as I am not the type to just sit around and expect things to just happen for me. So, I headed out for my walk, fully aware that I resembled a John Wayne inspired cowboy, as I walked with my legs further apart than usual. “I don’t give a shite what people think,” I thought to myself. How very wrong I was. Twenty minutes into this walk, and a complete stranger approaches me from behind on a very busy Dublin street. “Here mate…can ya stand up again’ the wall there?” says this guy to me. “What…are you fuckin’ An Garda or somethin’?” came my ridiculous reply. “Mate…yer destroyed in blood man…all around yer arse!” I froze. I was completely rooted to the spot. Myself and this lad shared the most awkward of silences, neither of us knowing what to say. Eventually I mutter an embarrassed “thank you,” and then I began my personal “walk of shame” back to my apartment, feeling every single set of eyes from the people passing me, bore into my soul. I have never…ever, been more embarrassed in my life. I got home, and the very first thing I contemplated doing was drinking a bottle of whiskey, and as a recovering alcoholic, this wasn’t my smartest idea. Thankfully, I have chosen to remember the damage my drinking caused in my life…and I never want this world to see that gobshite again. So, I trudged up my stairs, and I entered my man-cave…my room where I write and create…my “happy place.” But, what this room offers my soul was about to come under heavy attack. Depression, self-pity and “acting like a wanker” were all circling overhead, ready to strike. The war had begun.
I slowly dissolved more and more as each day passed, my only comfort (not including Annie) coming form my interactions on Facebook and other social media platforms. I always try to inject a bit of positivity into the worlds of my Facebook friends. They are an amazing bunch, and have buoyed me with their love and willingness to share their admiration for my books…and their lives…with me. But as I hunkered down in my man-cave, or my “bunker”, I began to realise that I had to be honest. I couldn’t tell my friends to ‘keep the sunny side out’, when it felt like I was walking through a thunderstorm. I am a firm believer in being able to share the bad days, as well as the good, on social media. There is so much ‘fakeness’ on social media, with people trying to keep up with the Jones’s as they portray the ‘perfect life.’ But, if I was to post what I was actually feeling, then I would run the risk of depressing the life out of all my friends. So, I took the decision to take a break from it all…and this decision killed me. Not only was the timing atrocious, as I was trying to promote my second book, but I knew how much I was going to miss the interactions. “Sure, it’ll only be for a week or two,” I told myself. How wrong I was. And as I sat at my desk, writhing in pain, I can hear the low, irritating buzzing of a small housefly, as it makes it’s way around my bunker. I catch sight of it a couple of times, but don’t really pay it much heed. I just sit there…feeling like a massive bag of depressing shite.
Minutes turn into hours…hours into days…days into weeks…
I don’t know how long I’ve been enclosed in my bunker now. Myself and Annie are are at breaking point. I am being a complete dickhead to her…again. Only this time? She is giving as good as she gets. It’s ripping us apart. I reach out to the hospital for help, and come to the stark realisation that I am now a statistic in the crippling waiting-list scandal that Ireland is currently experiencing. I am sat in my bunker, and all I can hear, is the same fucking low, irritating buzz of a fly. “It can’t be the same fecker,” I say to myself, and as I do, the brazen little shit lands right on my arm!! Not a bother to him! I don’t immediately brush him off. I almost admire his ballsy approach. “Yer some man Freddie” says I as I begin the same procedure that I know you have tried yourself…GET THE FLY, TO FLY OUT THE FECKIN’ WINDOW! I mean, how hard is it for them? The came in through the massive hole in your wall that is your window…they were smart enough to do that. But now? Now they are fucking blind to said “massive hole” and will fly at it, beside it, near it…but never fucking through it! “Ahh, stay where ya are so Freddie,” I shout. Little shite!
Pain, discomfort, feeling dirty and unclean. Each of these emotions were like grenades being lobbed into my bunker, as I tried with all my might to stay positive. But I was losing this battle…my supplies were depleting. Freddie on the other hand, was having a rare aul time. He invited two mates over at one stage. But, I felt he was taking liberties, so I managed to eject them from my premises. “A heads-up next time yer having’ yer mates around Freddie yeah?” I said to him…fully aware that I am now speaking to a fucking housefly.
I was losing everything, the casualties of this battle were mounting. I do need to say, that the sound of silence from some of the people in my life while I was at my lowest, was at times deafening. I contemplated having massive arguments with these people, but why should you fight to be cared for? If someone doesn’t give a shite, then your not going to change them. Yes, they might be around when your days are good, but if they disappear when your days are “shitty” … well, don’t get mad, get even. Never change the person you are for anyone. Don’t call them names or fall out with them. Just remember what they did…or didn’t do…during your lowest ebb, and reciprocate. Treat them exactly how they treated you. And if they have the nerve to ask you why you are off with them? Give them both barrels of your opinion. In stark contrast to this, was the outpouring of love I was (and still am) receiving – daily – on social media. Every day I have had people reach out making sure I am okay. I don’t feel I deserve such love and concern sometimes, but I can’t lie to you … it feels amazing. People like Tony or Siena, who just never give up on you. Deborah and her constant stream of love. Dee with her mantras and positivity. Maggie with her spiritual guidance. Eilish with her unconditional love. “I’m a very fuckin’ lucky bloke really Freddie aren’t I?” says I to Freddie, who has now become so comfortable (or brazen) around me, that he has taken to strolling across my desk, or landing on the rim of my finished coffee cup. I wonder is it the caffeine that’s keeping the little fecker going?
The thinking behind the “Law Of Attraction ” is quite simple: “What you put out, you will receive.” And lately, all I have been putting out is negativity. So, what do I expect? “I’ve a pain in me hole…excuse the pun…Freddie,” says I to my winged friend as he circled around the bulb above my head, over and over again (he’s not the smartest our Freddie…prob too much caffeine). Since the day I was stopped by that stranger and told I was covered in blood, I have done nothing but feel sorry for myself. It also led me to remain indoors…like I was once again, incarcerated. Yet, it was during my shameful incarceration that I found the ‘real’ me. I tapped into a reservoir of creativity I had blocked out through drinking and being an arsehole, and I ended up doing quite a lot. In fact, one of the things I did, was write a musical, Journeyman, whilst I was sat in cell 27 on C1 in Mountjoy. I looked around my bunker and realised, just like back in prison, I had very little equipment to fully express how I thought this musical should sound. “Here, Freddie?”, I shout to my little buddy, “It’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself, and to start to make things happen for me. No one is going to help me, so I have to help myself.” Freddie just sort of looked at me, as he slowly ambled across my computers keyboard. “He looks a bit off-colour,” I thought to myself. Jaysis..I hope he’s okay?
So…that’s just what I did…and have been doing ever since. And I swear to you, this shift in thinking, this ceasing of “feeling sorry for myself” really worked! I have watched countless YouTube videos and read as much material as I could, in order to teach myself the fundamentals of mixing and mastering music. I created a list of sorts, like an agenda for my day, which brought back focus in my life. When things go wrong for us, we lose our focus. This, in my opinion, is when the war begins, the war between you and the depression of feeling “shitty.” If you feel that way at all, I urge you to compile a similar list. Find some structure, and watch your confidence slowly return. Annie and my family immediately noticed, with Annie doing what she is so incredibly blessed with. She cared for, loved, and looked after me on levels I have never experienced before. She is incredible. My family too all railed around and provided their balls rough sibling with as much TLC as they could muster. I began finding my feet again. Even Freddie seemed to be enjoying watching me lay down some guitar tracks, as he’d almost always land on the feckin’ neck of my guitar as I was mid-solo!! My mood was lifting, and I began putting an abundance of positivity “out there,” in the hope it would be returned…and, by-jaysis, it was! I suddenly began receiving calls from the hospital, pertaining to my problem, and after a few false starts, I am …. wow … my hands are actually shaking as I type this .. I am to have my surgery…….TOMORROW MORNING @8.30AM!! I honestly cannot believe it. I have never…ever…been more fucking excited to go to the hospital in my entire life. Freddie is loitering around the window in my bunker. I turn to him and almost shout, “Freddie me aul mucker…surgery is tomorrow morning. GerrrrUPPP outta tha’ wha’?” Freddie does another couple of laps of the window, and then……he fly’s straight out of the feckin’ thing! “Freddie!” I shout after him, but soon realise that Debbie, my neighbour, is out on her balcony, and now most-probably thinks I am a bigger fuckin’ weirdo than usual. Maybe he was sent to me to help me through my funk? Maybe he was my “spiritual insect”, sent to remind me to never give up and to always look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Orrrrrrr, maybe “he” was actually a number of different flies, and I am now actually losing my feckin’ marbles! Either way, I am really gonna miss that little guy. I even complied a “mix-tape” of our favourite songs, including Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away”, Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon,” and of course the Westlife version of “Flying Without Wings.” 🙂
If I have done this right, then you are reading this blog, after heading to the link on my Facebook page…which means I am now in surgery…or my op is over….”thanks be-ta-jaysis!” I wanted to share this blog to, firstly, explain to my friends were the hell I’ve been for the last while, but to also highlight that even the most positive of minds can be pushed to their limits. I urge you, if you feel any of the depression I have disclosed in this blog, to talk to someone about it. We live in an age where depression is becoming a silent killer. Don’t do what I initially did. I convinced myself I was “okay,” when I clearly wasn’t. I was fixated on “not letting Annie down,” and yet, my moods were pushing her further and further away from me. I gave up and shut the world out. It’s incredible how lonely you feel…almost instantly. But, a concentrated effort to change your thinking…an effort to compile a “list” of sorts to rebuild some structure in your life, can really go a long way to helping you get back on your feet. There is fuck-all wrong with being down…you are not abnormal or a “freak,” for feeling low or dejected. But, you don’t deserve to live there…no matter what you might feel you have done in your past. Look at me (“nah..you’re alright Gar,” says you 🙂 )! I have done some atrocious things in my past. I would give “deadbeat fathers” a bad name. I was a scumbag of the highest order. But I have paid (and am still paying) the ultimate price for that, so instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to show the world how sorry I am, and how much I’ve changed. Because, I too, deserve to be happy…contrary to what some people might think.
AND SO DO YOU! So please…chase your happiness and dreams. Believe in all of your amazing abilities, and know that the dark days can return at any time. The only difference is, you will be more prepared next time. And remember, they won’t last forever.
“Even at the end of the darkest days, the sun will always rise again…”
As for Journeyman? I am almost finished the album, which consists of the songs from the musical. My thinking behind the album is that each song will be like a chapter in a book, and it will tell the story of “one man’s journey through life, death, and everything in between.” The first draft of the script is complete (and feckin’ amazing…thanks Dee), and Maggie and myself are gung-ho as we try to bring to the stage, what we started together in Mountjoy prison. We are going to need actors, and we would rather you have no, or little experience. We want to strip peoples inhibitions and make them see how amazing they can be. Now…where would I find such people?? I’ll give you a hint….I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU, THE PEROSN READING THIS!! I’ll be in touch 😉
In the meantime, I really hope you enjoy this little snippet. This song is called “Fathers Brat”, and it is the character of The Father (who is an alcoholic wanker) showing his disdain for his son. Oh…and I should point out, that I am a ‘rocker’ at heart, I even sported long-hair in my teens (and looked like a complete gobshite), so this is a “rock musical.” Expect a lot of heavy guitars lol. Also, for those that are well-versed in music production, I am fully aware how amateur this sounds. But I am out of work, so funds to buy fancy equipment are not, in the slightest, available to me. But in prison, myself and Fitzer were given lemons, and, in my humble opinion, I feel like we made some sweet lemonade. Journeyman, which I wrote in prison, is my way of showing you that anything is possible with the right mindset and the ability to believe in yourself. I highly recommend you use headphones 😉
Here is the idea I have designed for the cover, and as you can see, Annie and Fitzer will be ‘doin’ their thang’
I know the aul song is a “bit bleedin’ mental there Gar me all mucker,” but it’s meant as a scene in a musical. So, some headcase is going to have to stand on stage and sing that! Any takers? 🙂
Thank you so much for making it to the end of, what could be described as, my next jaysis book. I really hope all is good with you right now. Maybe take a second and give yourself an aul scan…make sure everything is okay. And if you find something a little off? Tell someone about it…tell me if you think it will help. Just don’t carry it alone. And be comfortable in the knowledge that it really, really is ‘okay not to be okay.’ You deserve to be happy…never forget that.
I think ‘yizer all bleedin’ rappa‘ 🙂
Over and Under folks….take care.
I’m off to see a surgeon … wish me luck 🙂