Having been online for 14 years, and having a active websites detailing my day-to-day life and thoughts for 13 of those years is a long time, I recently wrote about the history of my online life – the different iterations of those websites, the birth of the “blog” and how I had grown up, and how so had my writing.
There have been periods of controversy in response to some of the posts, times where I have had to seriously consider ethics before writing and some serious lapses of judgement, which I regret.
In the early days, when I was still a child, I was handed something that kids these days take for granted – the gift of being able to express oneself to everybody with a modem. It wasn’t as easy as it is today, where a blog can be created in seconds, in the case of Tumblr, by filling out three boxes on a website. I had to learn how to code in HTML and work out how to upload the files to webspace, but I was enthusiastic so it didn’t take too long.
Before long I had notoriety amongst other young teenagers in Cardiff, not just in my own school, as the kid who had a website and wrote about a school life like they had, they could identify with me.
Miss Jeffries almost had a breakdown in class today, she wants us to achieve but we aren’t interested. We are, but we’re teenagers, we have other things on our minds. We can do it and we’ve promised that we will, but I can see us not living up to her expectations somehow. This saddens me.
I had my picture up on the site; I was stopped in the street, I was occasionally pointed and laughed at, I made some friends that I still keep in contact with today. This was all pre-2001, before I left high-school and before blogging was popularised by people like Jason Kottke. Word of mouth was key at this time, Google was still really in its infancy and any kind of directory of people who wrote online was still a little-way off – I was in the minority, and this is why the website was popular.
As the years went by and website names changed, until I arrived at “Hint of Sarcasm” in 2003, my writing style changed from diaristic to columinst but I still use these back-posts to track my personal development.
I feel that I have come a long way, the last 10 years have been remarkable in places and at points so dire I seriously attempted to no longer continue. After many years of erratic behaviour – where one week I’d go out of my way to organise parties and to make new friends and the next I would lock myself in my bedroom, skip school or work and not switch the lights on, followed then by months of self-destruction with booze, drugs and week long parties, I was diagnosed with a condition called Bipolar disaffectedness disorder. This was after two life-threatening personally afflicted hospitalisations, and many more serious abuses of my own body, which I am still struggling to comes to terms with.
Writing has helped me along the way, having a blog can sometimes be seen as hedonistic, self-absorbed or self-appreciative but when I started, although consciously I may not have known it, writing was a form of therapy – therapy I so badly needed, like the therapy I would later seek from a professional when my real internal issues were realised.
Looking back at some of these posts help me to remember some of the critical and often catastrophic events that let to many of my eventual breakdowns, there is a clear pattern of depression and mania that proves to be a stern indicator of what was later to be officially diagnosed – sometimes I wonder how I could have missed the signs, but I wasn’t aware of such a disorder until a psychiatrist spoke to me; I’m not a worrier, I don’t head to the NetMD symptom checker for every little thing.
There are posts about power, paranoid delusions, thoughts of suicide and a significant post where I seem to not care about what had happened after I was discharged from hospital following one such episode. For me, it’s scary reading, and most of these memories have been repressed in my mind – I read them as if I hadn’t written them, they have been pushed back into my subconscious, I simply don’t remember.
I’m well now, most of the time. I don’t take prescription medication – against doctors advice, but I feel that I have learned to control the worst of the disorder. I can tell when “episodes” are coming on and have routines to stave them off, although this isn’t always the case, and a break in routine can prove detrimental – I found that whilst I was living with my father this year, back in the family home, I could find a comfort zone and this threw everything off balance, I was acting very erratically.
Now that I have my own home, with Misia and very soon with our child, I am rapidly coming to terms with that and my balance is returning, for this I am glad.
This has been somewhat of a rambling post, let me assure you I do know this. It’s been more for me than for you, the reader. It started out as a history piece for Guardian Cardiff but as I was paging back through the posts I made a lot of realisations and it became something very personal. I don’t ask that you forgive me, only that you understand.