Eulogy for The Living

You look like her. You look like Mum, only smaller. Compressed. Like an almost perfect replica but those close to you can spot it isn’t really you. Alzheimer’s has stolen your light, clouded your horizon & drained your reservoir. 

We never were close as a family, too many secrets & lies. Too many things shared that make us wary of each other. Unspoken understanding that we’ll never acknowledge the past. I don’t think we even liked each other that much when the flood had subsided & we tried to put everything back together. I think you’re embarrassed at the hours spent confessing to me when I was a kid. Using me as a safe place to put your fear & loathing. It helped you but it filled me up with things I’m still battling to this day.

You gave me an understanding and insight into the bestial nature of humans that no teenager should have. You forced me to grow up too quickly. Instead of support, love and affection, you dug a pit inside me and filled it with your rage. Your anger. Your hurt. Your pain. Your blame.
You used me as target practice for every male in your life that had ever wronged you. I wore a thousand masks so you could vanquish your foes. You never let me forget the sacrifices you made for us. You wore those wounds with pride & used them as weapons. But I was the only one around. I wasn’t the enemy. I was injured too. Everything you suffered, I did too. And I was a child with no understanding of why.

And now you have Alzheimer’s. And I have to look after you. I have to forget all the arguments & shouting. I have to forget cups thrown at me, being told I wasn’t a good person. I have to forget all that. I have to make sure you’re Ok, I have to listen to you wish for death. I have to listen to you tell me my sister is hiding your tv remote. I have to stand there and explain when you call the police to say I’ve broken in and shouldn’t be there.

The ugly truth? I resent the burden you have become. I rang you once a month when you were still you, if that much. Even though you lived round the corner, I barely came by did I?  But I owe you a duty of care. Being family means I have to. Even though I don’t like you, I love you.

Remember your heart attack? You were screaming abuse at me in the garden. But I still drove you to the hospital. Because you’re my mum. 

It’s conflicting. Part of me feels your Alzheimer’s is a cruel cosmic joke. 44yrs old and you still have a hold on my life. You ring and txt every single day. You didn’t do this when you were well. You were as happy as I was to have minimal contact. But now you’re ill, we both pretend everything was fine & we were a perfect family.

And I have to let this happen. Because whatever the past, you are mum. And to a child, the mother is God. I owe you this illusion now, this belief we’ve always loved each other. But there are times I resent that you still cast shadows into my life.

I’ll take you shopping tomorrow & you’ll ask for the 5th time in 10mins how my son is & how you’re proud of the man I am today.

It’s taken you being hostage to this disease for you to tell me things I needed to hear decades ago. But that’s ok.

Love you mum x


Things fall apart.

The title is a quote from the Yeats poem of 1919 “The Second Coming” and bears particular relevance given events of the past few weeks/months.
“The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity” is how the 1st verse ends.
Sound familiar?
“How did we get here? How did this happen? Are people insane?” has been the rhetoric.
How? I’ll tell you how.
Continue reading

Calm & still

Evening all.
For once I’m not writing with the alarm looming for work & trying to keep wolves from the door by howling into the Internet void.
No, for once I’m writing because I want a record of being well for when I’m not.
Continue reading

Holding my breath.

Surgery no.51 for my son today.
He came through the other side & we’re back in 6 weeks for the next. Always there’s a next in a few weeks. Always I come home on the train by myself afterwards waving goodbye to him.
Always it ends with me by myself sitting quietly trying to empty my head so I can sleep. Continue reading


Been a hard few days & find myself in the usual cul-de-sac of loneliness, confusion, tiredness & quiet resignation. And as usual I seek solace & escape in the eyes of strangers rather than burden those near to me, physically & emotionally.

Mum is deep in the ocean of Alzheimer’s at the moment. Lots of txts that veer from aggressive to frightened, apologetic to defiant and ultimately saddened. Had 3 calls in an hour tonight that adhered to the script these calls always use. I can do nothing to help except listen & go round when I can. She’ll forget tomorrow and either continue the communication assault or be bright & happy until the next seige. 

I’ve forgotten to eat for a few days, gigged and rehearsed which has left me with a total of about 9hrs sleep since Tuesday. Enjoyed playing last night. For those 2hrs I was free from everything. I drove home & sat outside till 3am unable to sleep. Smoking cigarettes & arguing with long dormant ghosts until I went to work. I smiled & played the part of Andy until I came home. Back to my box. And listened to mum for an hour trying to talk to feel better.

I’m unable to fix mum. I can only sit and watch as she disintegrates more & more each day. I’m unable to fix my son, I can only be there when surgeons do their thing. I’m unable to fix myself during these crashes. I can only sit here and write. I’d be ok if I had slept these past few days, I would be better equipped to fight. But I’m not able to tonight. Tonight I surrender. 

I’ve forced myself to eat something. I’ve forced myself to interact with people on Twitter to give me a slim anchor to myself. But tonight I do not want this. Tonight I do not want to be. I don’t mean kill myself. I just mean I would like to not be for a while. It’s hard to explain. I don’t want to talk to people. I don’t want to sit here with my thoughts. I don’t want to have to wake up tomorrow & do this stupid fucking dance. I just don’t want to be me.

I’m tired of fighting. Tired of hoping someone will be nice to me. Tired of being tired. Tired of coughing. Tired of sitting in my room waiting for a phone call or an email or a tweet so I can grab a moment of not drowning. I’m tired. Tired of missing people no longer with me. Tired of the people that are. I hate these times I hold my own head under the water. Nobody is forcing me to feel this bad. I’m doing it to myself but I don’t want to. I wish I didn’t do this to myself. I’d like someone to tell me it’s ok & to stroke my neck until I fell asleep.

Tired of being lonely in a world with so many ways to communicate. But what do I say? “Hey, I’m a good person but sometimes I get lost & confused but please don’t be scared, I get better eventually. Just be near me & don’t think badly of me, please”. Yeah right. People love grief tourism & reading Sylvia Plath but don’t want to actually be near it for real. That’s why so many of us write late at night & go to sleep wondering if tomorrow will be better. And it will be better, this I know. If  not tomorrow then the next day, or the next.

But tonight it’s not ok. Tiredness, helplessness & sadness have all popped round for a party, they all laugh & point & whisper nasty things at me as I nod and say “I know, I deserve this” sitting quietly in the corner. It’s fucking pathetic to anyone reading this who doesn’t suffer from depression. It won’t make sense at all, will sound like the teenage bullshit diary. But it’s not, I promise you. I would give anything to be free of this. I’ve had counselling & medication. And it helps mostly. But some nights you just give in & give up.

Tonight’s one of those nights. I need sleep and a day off from this all and it’ll be ok. It WILL be ok. It will. Promise.


Been thinking past couple of days about choices & the results. Choices you make, choices made for you. Things that happen & the long term consequence you may not even realise until it’s miles down the road & you’ve forgotten about how you got there.

I’ve had my son for the weekend & it’s been a really nice time as usual. Just me & him doing our thing. And I put him to bed Friday evening & sat downstairs reading quietly in my own bubble.

I’ve arrived at where I am today because of my choices in life. All the good & bad things in life have been, for the most part, solely down to choice. My car accident that almost killed me, left me with metal in my body & a head full of broken thoughts. I chose to leave home at that exact moment, I chose to go the route I did, I chose to stop for cigarettes on the way. Any other decision and it wouldn’t have happened. Life took a 180° turn that morning because of choice. I was told I would be paralysed, probably wouldn’t walk again. I chose to disagree & chose to spend weeks in rehab.

My choice.

I chose to not pursue the career chosen for me in Law. I chose to learn the drums, be in bands & take a day job that wouldn’t interfere with that dream. I chose to jack in a large salary & play for the past 20yrs in everywhere from headlining The Barfly & Dingwalls to pubs in Southend. Choice. I chose to reconnect with my dad after 27yrs silence. I chose to seek help, counselling & medication to help with bipolar disorder. Choice.

It would be easy to blame others for the bad things that circle when I have a downswing. But I choose to embrace & write it here. I choose to have no filter on my brain & words. I choose to be the person I’ve always wanted to be instead of who I think would be popular & fit in. Sometimes choices are made for us, we don’t have much say in things but we do have a choice in how we react. 

Look, I know I have a tendency to be waaay to open & forthright about the insides of my head, heart & soul. But it’s your choice to read, comment, whatever. I choose to just be me in the only way I know how. I’ve made the choice to reject the violence I grew up immersed in, cycles of abuse & terror. I choose to not allow that to define me. I choose to not treat others like that. I choose to make stupid jokes & post songs. 


I choose to share these parts of myself from time to time because it helps me sort out my head & gives me space to breathe & calms me enough to sleep. Some of you may snigger at the bald, tattooed dude peeling open his innermost things. And that’s cool, that’s your choice. I choose to share these moments when I feel a bit lost & lonely because it’s OK to feel like that sometimes. Sometimes you find yourself by yourself through no choice of yours, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. We all have moments when we don’t know what we’re doing & feel the ground tilt beneath our feet. And I choose to expose myself, to make myself vulnerable when this happens. Because the other choice is to soldier on & bury it deep in your vault.


The hard part for me about depression & bipolar is the feeling of helplessness. The feeling you don’t have a choice in the matter. I don’t choose to spend hours staring down both barrels of the early hours wondering if I can make it to morning. I don’t choose to feel worthless, lost & alone. So I choose to write. I choose to force myself to maintain a connection with the world, I choose not to silently sink into the depths. However appealing it may feel at the time. I choose to deal with that awful, awful onset by ensuring I have a tight grip on whatever flotsam there is & just keep my head above water.


Choosing how I handle these dips because I can’t control them keeps me going. I choose to chain smoke, listen to music & write. I choose to throw these missives into the ether because then I know I exist when everything is telling me the opposite. Leaving a virtual trail of breadcrumbs as I get pulled into the dark woods so I can find my way out again.

As ever, thanks for tolerating my stupid shit. Right now I choose to go to bed & wait for tomorrow to arrive. Tomorrow is a over day and another chance.

Down in  hold

Not doing too well right now. Stuck at the bottom of this hole & it’s slowly filling with water. About neck deep at the moment & standing on tiptoes. Was doing ok, had my son for the weekend & we had a brilliant couple of days before I had to take him back.

And when I had to leave he clung to me in floods of tears asking me not to go, not to leave him and I could live next door so he could see me every day & woildnt feel so sad all the time. And I had to leave. Had to walk away with him standing at the window crying his soul out. And that broke me. Managed not to cry on the train home but when I got back it just spilled out of me onto the floor. His mum texted me about 10pm to say he’d finally fallen asleep in her bed inconsolable. And that makes me feel like the shittiest dad on earth. I would do anything to take his sadness away.

But I can’t. I wish he was ok. I wish sometimes I’d stayed with his mum in a dead relationship defined by her living on Facebook at one end of the sofa as I sat listening to music at the other end and neither of us talking. I wonder if that would be better for him? That way he’d have both parents around all the time & he wouldn’t have to see me walk away from him. 

I’ve been prescribed different drugs to control my feelings today. Citalopram wasn’t working anymore. I could still feel under 200mg of that & was getting more and more confused and lonely. I’m staying with sister for a couple of days until I’m numb again. I don’t want to be alone, I don’t want to sit staring at the floor waiting for sleep to claim me so I can mark another day on the wall. 

I would give anything to make my son not sad because I can’t be with him all the time. I don’t operate correctly most of the time, I’m a broken toy left under the bed mostly. I wake up, go to work & bare my teeth in a smoke. I come home & listen to music until I fall asleep. Haven’t gigged in a while. I’m afraid of disappearing into myself. I am 42yrs old & I spent a majority of my time by myself. I ring my lad every evening & make myself happy, hold my breath inbetween his visits. I’m better than I was yesterday, I can find words & think properly so I guess the medication is working its way into my veins.

My friend was worried because he hadn’t heard from me in a while. Wasn’t intentional, when I’m at the bottom I cannot move to use the phone or make words in my brain. And it was a good thing to realise there are people out here who give a shit about me. Because I don’t when I’m in this grip.

I sat Monday thinking how easy it would be to not be here anymore. I’ve worked out how, to not leave a mess for anyone to walk in on. And I sat there, complete honesty, thinking how much more peaceful it would be to not have to get up the next day. All these voices would stop. All these fears would go away. All this confusion would end. A simple, peaceful ending. But I can’t. I can’t leave my son with that legacy. I can’t do that to him. Funnily enough it was a song that ends with the refrain “it’s gonna be ok, it’s gonna be ok” that stayed my hand.

And a couple of friends who reached out when I was utterly alone, sad & confused. To remind me that good exists in this world. A tiny sliver of driftwood in the ocean of despair that I clung to & waited to be rescued.

Unless you’re in this place, you won’t understand, and that’s ok. There is not rational thought when you are down on the ground. No reason, no sanity. You just feel a million years old & so completely worn out by life and being hurled around. Every single little thing that upset you in your entire life is rendered in IMAX size and points at you, sneers & laughs at you. And you have no control over this. It’s not a conscious choice to feel shit. You’d give anything to not. But you can’t break out of that box. You feel completely alone & adrift in this life. A tiny signal from a distant planet floating through space looking for something, anything to hear you & tell you it’s going to be ok.

“Such a pretty white lie, a beautiful lie”

But you’ll believe it because you need to. Because you don’t want to give in, give up & leave. You really don’t. The drugs will do their job & suffocate receptors in the brain & in a day or two I’ll be back on my feet & will forget this moment until the next.

Right now I’m so tired & don’t have anymore words. Keep going kid, keep going.