About

Last updated:  1st May 2018 @ 4:00pm

For anyone who might be interested, the following may be useful in understanding more about my life throughout the years.

Background

Me in 1974 (age 3)

Age 3

I was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1971.  My parents were born and raised in Guernsey, an island in the Channel Islands, part of the United Kingdom.  They decided to relocate to New Zealand in the 1960’s to settle and start a family.  I have an older brother and an older sister who were also born in New Zealand.

All my immediate family (and some of my extended family) live in New Zealand, while I have other relatives in Guernsey as well as Australia, Germany, England and even Scotland.  Occasionally we use Skype to keep in touch.  I have been to Guernsey three times, when I was 6, 16 and 21.

I only lived in Palmerston North for the first year of my life, and then the family moved to Wanganui.  Following that we moved to Wellington (the Hutt Valley), then to Christchurch for a few years, then back to the Hutt Valley.  I have been in the Hutt Valley from the age of eleven until the present day.

Education

My first year of primary school was when I lived in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt.  My family then moved to Christchurch for about six years where I attended two other primary schools.  When the family moved back to Lower Hutt in 1981, I attended Naenae Intermediate forms one and two from 1982 to 1983.  I then attended Naenae College secondary school between 1984 and 1987, which was located right next to Naenae Intermediate.

Me in 1985 (age 14)

Age 14

We lived in Kelson, a hill suburb, and I usually walked to school unless it was raining or unpleasant, or if I was just feeling lazy.  It was a 40-minute walk, and I struck up friendships along the way which made school more enjoyable.  Going back home after school was quite arduous having to walk back up the hill, especially on very hot days, but we were never in any great hurry anyway.

At one time when I was attending school in Christchurch I had very little, or even no friends to speak of.  I felt isolated, and it was a very difficult eight months.  Yet, I feel this allowed me to treasure the new friends I was making in the Hutt even more.

Time in intermediate was spent attending classes, looking forward to lunch-breaks where we would play tag-ball, sports, and see how many marbles we could win off each other J.  My teacher in form two (1983) was married to an All Black at the time, although she had to leave before the year completed as she was to have her first child who turned out to be the very talented New Zealand musician Brooke Fraser.

During college, I had an interest in drawing cartoons which carried over from my younger years, but I eventually let that go for an interest in computers (my father won a computer through his work for being New Zealand’s top Honda salesman).  It was probably one of the reasons I wasn’t that focused at secondary school, as my mind was often occupied with the computer games I was developing.

I studied the usual classes in forms 3 and 4 (maths, English, science etc.), and in the 5th form attended Computer Studies classes which I excelled at.  I also took fifth form art.  I passed my fifth form School Certificate qualification easily.  In the sixth form, I didn’t manage to pass the Sixth Form Certificate, but I was near the top of the school for Computer Studies.

I had various sporting interests during my college years.  I won a trophy for the most improved junior tennis player, and often played tennis with friends during school lunch breaks.  I was also part of the school badminton team and would sometimes be driven after school to various other locations to compete.

I enjoyed playing table tennis when I could, and I played backgammon and belonged to the school club which I enjoyed too.  I wasn’t very athletic though and tended to shy away from anything too serious, and I wasn’t that keen on contact sports either as I was always afraid I would come out second-best.

I left school when I turned seventeen to begin work (as I wasn’t interested in doing the seventh form), and I applied to do a computer course at Wellington Polytechnic but was not accepted.  However, this was perfect for me, as better things were to come…

Work

My father found an employment notice in the newspaper asking for people to become computer operators, for the Government Computer Service (as it was known then).  I applied for the job, and along with several others was given an aptitude test.  I received a letter not long afterwards saying that they would keep me on file as all their positions had been filled.  I wasn’t to hear from them for another eight months.

In the meantime, I knew I would have to get a job or else return to school for the seventh form, which I didn’t want to do.  I found an advertisement from Westpac Bank looking for trainee bank-officers, so I applied for the job, went for the interview, and was successful.

Initially, I found the days long as I wasn’t used to working full time, but the people were great and after a month or two the job became more interesting.  I made some great friends, and there was the odd occasion where chocolate fish would be sent in the mail to say thanks and for a bit of fun too.

The social aspect was good, with drinks every Friday night, and a group of us even travelled up north to try out skiing, which I barely managed to survive J.

Eight months into the job at the bank I received a letter from the Government Computer Service (GCS) asking if I would like to meet for an interview, as it seems my scores from the aptitude test were very good.

After the interview I was offered a job as a Trainee Computer Operator, which I eagerly accepted.

Trentham Computer Centre

Trentham Computer Centre

The period before a Trainee Computer Operator lost the “trainee” tag was twelve months, but my enthusiasm and interest in the job meant I completed my trainee period in just eight months, the first time that had been achieved.

Eventually, thanks to a good friend who “sang my praises” I was approached by the programming team upstairs and asked if I would like to train to become a Systems Programmer, as I showed such promise.  I was excited, and after a brief interview, I landed the role and moved upstairs as a Trainee Systems Programmer, with my own desk and terminal which was wonderful.

The first year was self-training and learning to code in Algol.  I struggled to a degree, but the team around me were very supportive and my enthusiasm stayed strong.  I created my first programme called POX25 which would be used for many years to come.

After that first year, again I lost the “trainee” tag and became a fully-fledged Systems Programmer.  A few years later GCS was bought by the American computer giant EDS, and my title changed to Systems Engineer (Software Advanced).  The work was always interesting, I achieved a great deal, helped a lot of people, staying in the job until the middle of 1998, having to leave because of an illness (which I go into next).

In 2001, I worked for Unisys (another American company) doing much the same kind of work I did at EDS, but I was a little out of my depth as it was a new area and one I was not accustomed to.  Because I had been out of the picture as far as the technology was concerned (I hadn’t been involved since 1998), I was a bit rusty.  However, I worked there for eight months upon which time my contract ended.

In 2003, I started working doing general duties at a printing firm (owned by my then brother-in-law).  This was simply just a stop-gap until something better came along, and it eventually did.  Late in 2004, I landed a job as a web designer for a small local company and worked there for about six months.  The job came about due to a work scheme run by the Ministry of Social Development.

This was extremely useful as I learned some interesting web design techniques such as PHP, MySQL and JavaScript.  Even though I was on the minimum wage, it was like paid training, something I would find of benefit in the years to come, and I am grateful for having the opportunity.

In 2008, I started my own very small-scale web design endeavour, and I mainly gained work through word-of-mouth.  Web design has been an interest of mine since 1998, even though I would call myself more of a programmer rather than a designer.

My struggle with mental illness

At the age of 23 I suddenly left my high paying job and travelled to the South Island, with no thought of how I would support myself afterwards.  I felt as though I could “hurry up” my spiritual progress.  After I returned from my “holiday”, I felt lost, and after contacting my old manager, I was able get my job back.  I didn’t realise it then, but this was a strong sign that not everything was right.

When I was 24 I experienced mental illness for the first time, and went downhill rapidly, quickly going into a state of psychosis.  I ended up in Wellington Hospital (ward 27), where I stayed for 3 months, being diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I didn’t recognise the importance of medication (thinking it was a chemical that would be bad for my physical purity), and chose not to take it, with no-one being any the wiser.  This was the reason I was in hospital for so long, even though everything worked out in the end.

After coming out of hospital I returned to work.  I decided to start my medication, but this only lasted one day as the side-effects were so extreme I basically couldn’t function.  Rather than talk this over with my psychiatrist, I chose, again, not to take my medication.

Te Whare Uhuru - Mental Health Ward, Lower Hutt

Te Whare Ahuru

I was fine until 1998 until I chose to leave my job once more, and as a result I ended up back in hospital, suffering from delusional thoughts and an unrealistic sense of self-importance.  In 1999, when I was 28, I experienced my first depressive episode where I constantly thought of taking my own life and felt worthless.  I was like this for eight months.

Gradually I came right, but I was still refusing to take my medication even though everyone thought that I was.  In 2001, I landed a job with a computer company in the city.  I was there for eight months and then became unwell again.  This time I experienced mania.  I was readmitted to hospital and my diagnosis was changed to bi-polar disorder (or manic depression to use an outdated term).

Between 2001 and 2003 I must have been admitted into hospital about seven times, every time with mania and/or psychosis.  I was not taking medication, but finally my doctors caught up with me.  Realising I was not taking my medication they gave me an anti-psychotic injection, and for the first time in three years, I saw clearly.  It was like looking into a mirror, where I could see all my inappropriate and embarrassing behaviour.  It was a revelation.  Since 2003 I have only had two other admissions, one of these, again, for not taking my meds.

In 2010, I had the good fortune to listen to an audio “podcast”, where I realised that for seven years, since 2003 when I began on an injection, I had been clinically depressed.  I talked to my psychiatrist and she recommended that I try an anti-depressant, and this helped immensely.  Even though I still had my “ups and downs”, I was much more settled than I was before.

To a lot of people this might seem as if this could be one of the worst things that could ever happen to a person.  I however look at it differently.  Yes, it is difficult, but I would not want to change anything that has happened to me.  If someone was to say – “I can take it all away as if it never happened”, I would say, “No thanks, everything that happened was perfect for me, and I wouldn’t want to change a thing”.

I have seen a different side of life that I feel fortunate to have experienced.  It has taught me compassion, tolerance and understanding.  This can only serve me well in the future.

My interest in spirituality

Age 40

I have been interested in “all things spiritual” since I was twenty-one, when I became involved in an eastern-style meditation group in 1992 through a friend.  I even travelled to India to meet the leader of the meditation group, the Guru, and spent about a month there in an ashram.

In 1994, I moved away from this teaching partly because I had had enough of the whole “bow to the Guru” philosophy, but also because my life situation changed, and new spiritual opportunities arose.

In 1998, I had one of my most powerful spiritual experiences where I experienced a new way of looking at things, communion with God, and I discovered some of what lay ahead in the future.  Basically, it was about fifteen minutes of being in a high state of consciousness.  It was at this time I realised that I could achieve a great deal in my life spiritually.

In 2005, I began to travel my own path without any sort of formal spiritual teaching or spiritual support whatsoever.  During this time, I had many profound and beautiful experiences which kept me moving forward.

In 2006, I became aware with 100% certainty of what my role was spiritually, and the last remaining traces of doubt were removed from my mind.

In 2011, I began writing down my thoughts and feelings relating to spirituality.  This covered the various aspects of spiritual knowledge that I had gathered throughout my journey, as well as what I have learned and understood while being in communion with Spirit.  This evolved over time and reached a state of near-completion in 2018.  The publication that you are reading now is the result.

square-800

Age 46 (2017)

Thank you for listening,

Jason