Born in 1971, I’ve lived in Upper Hutt for the past 30 years. From twenty-one I’ve had a real interest in “all things spiritual”, where meditation, informal study, and mindfulness have all been strong themes for me. A visit to India staying in an ashram for a month is one of my most treasured memories.
Balancing my spiritual interests while working for the Government Computer Service was challenging at times, but things always worked out. Driving from Wellington to Auckland most weekends with friends for spiritual and personal development was a mission!
With health problems there was support from family, but also some “guidance from within” — the latter proving more useful than any self-help book I have ever encountered.
A pocketbook, “Fuel for the Mind and Soul”, is a collection of my own spiritually inspired thoughts, feelings and sentiments which really rang true to me when the lightbulb went on. The need to jot these down began 20 years ago, each needing to be written down otherwise disappearing into the clouds 🙂
With this, and a couple more books on the way, I find the writing process an inspiration in itself.
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.
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.
For curiosities’ sake, my first year of primary school was when I lived in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt, at Arakura School. In Christchurch I attended two other primary schools, the first being Kendall School, in Burnside. 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.
Work started for me in 1988, at Westpac Bank on Lambton Quay, Wellington CBD. I was there for eight months.
Then I started a new job as a Trainee Computer Operator for the Government Computer Service (GCS), an S.O.E. The Trentham Computer Centre where I worked (pictured right) is an absolute monolith, and now belongs to the New Zealand Defence Force.
I excelled during the normal twelve-month training period, and became fully qualified after just eight months, a first for the company. A couple of years later after showing a real interest and ability in my work, I was promoted from my Computer Operator role to become a Systems Programmer, something that again, had never been done before.
From what I heard, the operators I “left behind” looked to me as their “voice” amongst the elite, i.e. someone who could champion their needs and concerns. GCS was bought by the American company EDS, and I worked there as a Systems Engineer until 1998.
My experience 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 really couldn’t function. Rather than talk this over with my psychiatrist, I chose, again, not to take my medication.
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
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 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.
Thank you for your interest,