About

Last updated:  12th January 2016 @ 6:55pm

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 of 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.  Sometimes we use Skype to keep in touch.  I have been to Guernsey three times, when I was 5, 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 for forms one and two from 1982 to 1983.  I then attended Naenae College secondary school between 1984 and 1987, which was right next to Naenae Intermediate.

Me in 1985 (age 14)

Age 14

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 then married to an All Black, 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 which he then gave to me).  It was probably one of the reasons I didn’t do very well at secondary school, as much of my mind was occupied in ideas for creating computer games and the like.

I studied the normal classes in forms 3 and 4, and in form 5 I started taking the Computer Studies classes which I excelled at.  I also took fifth form art, science, maths and English.  I passed my fifth form School Certificate qualification easily.  In the sixth form I didn’t manage to pass the Sixth Form Certificate, but was in the top few for Computer Studies.

I left school when I turned 17 (as I wasn’t interested in doing 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.

I then decided I would start working instead of returning to seventh form.

Work

My father found an employment notice in the paper asking for people to become computer operators, for the Government Computer Service (GCS).  I applied for the job, and along with about five others was given an aptitude test.  I received a letter not long after saying 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.

The days were 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.

Eight months into the job at the bank I received a letter from 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 of time before a Trainee Computer Operator lost the “trainee” tag was twelve months, but my enthusiasm and skill at the job meant I completed my trainee period in just eight months, the first time that had been achieved.

Eventually thanks to a 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 job and moved upstairs as a Trainee Systems Programmer.

After a 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 a Systems Engineer (Software Advanced).  The work was always interesting, and I stayed in the job until the middle of 1998.

In 2001 I worked for Unisys 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.  I worked there for eight months upon which time my contract ended.

In 2003 I started working for my brother-in-law (as he was then) doing general duties at his printing firm.  This was simply just a stop-gap until something better came along, and it did.  Late in 2004 I landed a job as a web designer for a small local company, and did this for about six months, and then moved on.  This was really useful as I learned some interesting web design techniques such as JavaScript, and PHP.  It was like paid training, and I am grateful for having the opportunity.

In 2008 I started my own very small 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 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 allowed to 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 schizo-affective disorder.  I didn’t recognise the importance of medication (thinking it was a chemical that would be bad for me), and chose not to take it, with no-one being any the wiser.  This was the reason I was in hospital for so long.

After coming out of hospital I returned to work.  I did decide 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 any medication.

Te Whare Uhuru - Mental Health Ward, Lower Hutt

Te Whare Ahuru

I was fine until 1998 until again I chose to leave my job, ending 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 any 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).

Between 2001 and 2003 I must have been admitted into hospital about 7-8 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.  For the first time in three years, I saw clearly.  It was like looking into a mirror, where I could see all of my inappropriate and embarrassing behaviour.  Since 2003 I have only had two other admissions.

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 the injection, I had been clinically depressed.  I talked to my psychiatrist and she agreed that I could 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 about 21, when I became involved in an eastern-style meditation group in 1992 through a friend.  I even travelled to India to meet 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 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 a bit 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 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.

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Current – Age 46

Thanks for listening,

Jason