Thursday, 18 October 2012


Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun"

A mate of mine just texted. He told me a girl we know/knew just committed suicide.
He didn't know how she did it, just that she'd been smoking Crack very recently. I used to smoke Crack. If you're a psychiatric patient under the care of the NHS, it's not exactly difficult to find.
I'm a suicide survivor. The reasons for my attempt (and yes, the intentions were very serious) are too wrapped up in my artistic persona that all I remember is that I couldn't bear the thought of having sex again, so essentially life was not for me. I tried to understand why during the writing of my debut novel SMOKING IS COOL, but no answer was forthcoming, only more questions.
I was first sectioned under the Mental Health Act of 1983 in 2002, just over a year after 9/11. I'm not American, but I remember sitting on the bonnet of a friend's car, smoking a joint, staring up at the empty sky at two in the morning (Tony Blair grounded all flights) and wanting to join the army. I got into work the next day okay, but I was as paranoid as everybody else. Every Muslim I saw wanted to blow me up. Unless they were as scared of being lynched as I was of them wandering up to me and flicking a detonator.
I actually missed the live TV coverage of the second plane. I have a habit of missing things like this. I was in a secure psychiatric hospital during the London Olympics, doing press ups in my room and hallucinating that Absolute Radio worked for MI5 and were sending me subliminal messages. Most of the other 'clients' (the PC way of referring to the patients) were sex offenders and murderers. Unlike them, I have no history of sexual assault or violence on my record, which is why "The Shawshank Redemption" is my favourite movie, even if I share this view with Moors Murderer Ian Brady, possibly the most horrific killer in British history.
I woke up today and the first thing I did was have a JD and Coke. I suppose I'm an alcoholic now. In my defense, so was Charles Bukowski, whose wry, 1989 autobiography "Hollywood" is resting under my sunglasses on the windowsill as kids with Dr Dre headphones wander past, oblivious to my introspection.
Who was this girl? I won't tell you her name, that's the least I can do for her. She loved Eminem. She would obsessively listen to nothing else. I shared a house with her in supported accommodation. She had the downstairs flat, and when I would go for observed medication, all I could hear was Slim Shady screaming from her room. She was a sex abuse victim, had been raped by members of her own family and self-harmed on a serious daily basis. Every time I would see her she was a different person. She dressed like a boy. She had half-hearted tattoos of flowers and teardrops. She had no idea how to be human. She never had a chance. I have tears in my eyes right now, because the weight of her unfortunate life has hit home. I have known a lot of suicides. Maybe twenty? If you're a psychiatric patient it goes with the territory. I'm going to pour myself another drink.
I've been listening to Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" on repeat for about an hour now. I used to play saxophone. I took it with me to Amsterdam when I was 19, six months before I was sectioned, busking for beer money by Centraal Station. All I could remember were the opening notes to the Pink Panther and the E-Minor scale. The sax is mainly down to breathing and knowing how to tongue the reed, so I would scratch enough to get a room in a hostel and a bag of weed. All I wanted back then was to be a writer. I obsessively fetishize everything, I've been doing it since I was a kid. I was writing sex scenes when I was eleven. The worst part about this news is that I will forget about it. I am no longer shocked by death. Think about Tony Scott. Michael Winner. Heath Ledger. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. Jim Morrison. The members of the 27 Club. How is one supposed to react to these things? The answer is there is no answer. I've tried to deal with this girl for a long time, we all wanted to help her. One thing you learn after you understand the basic tenets of psychiatric hospitals? You can't save them all. What else can I say?

Andrew Moody, 18/10/2012

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