2012 was the year for collecting passport stamps and serious air miles.  Flying to the U.K. twice (also around Europe), Africa (for the funeral, on my bday could you believe) and a trip to Vanuatu.  With any long haul flight the consequences tend to be jet lag and boy I got it good.  Sleeping patterns were a mess from crossing so many time zones and eventually I was so accustomed to feeling like crap it felt normal.  Instead of addressing my tiredness issues and how I was coping (or not) with the loss of my dad, I became obsessed with looking aesthetically pleasing (beach body).  This meant lots of time working out.  I worked long hours at the gym, starting at 6am, finishing at 7pm, Monday to Friday along with Saturday mornings.  In my mind, I had convinced myself hard work is the only way to happiness and no one was getting in my way.  To my clients, partner and friends I probably looked fine, however my body was constantly in pain and my digestion was a massive concern.To help combat the aching body pains alongside the digestion problems (diarrhoea or constipation), I opted to use prescription medication.  I mean if the doctors and pharmacists recommend it then it has to be good for you surely!

During my time in Africa, I was taking antibiotics, sleeping pills and lots of Imodium (I got food poisoning the day before flying back to New Zealand).  Adding to this delightful combination I was drinking heavily and began using recreational drugs to escape reality.  I had no worries apart from enjoying myself and living for the weekend #YOLO (apologies for that).  That being said, the comedowns were terrible and the only way of masking them was taking more prescription pills and eating my happy food.  Being half African, KFC was my happy food, actually any fast food place was and when mixing that delicious food with crazy amounts of sugar all of life’s problems seemed to disappear – that is until I sneezed and nearly shat my pants because my stomach couldn’t handle my food choices.

The relationship I was in had turned into a toxic warzone where both parties were not showing our most endearing qualities, eventually leading into a stressful break up.  Because of our lease agreement I was paying rent at two places. The knock on effect resulted in me constantly stressing about money, well the lack of it, I was paying over NZ$750 per week for rent to work and live.  The ending of the relationship created another problem, I was in New Zealand on a relationship visa and was close to being renewed.  No relationship = no visa.  By then depression and anger loomed over me like a dark cloud, turning me into a negative moody individual that wanted everyone else to feel as bad as me!!

My YOLO mentality usually kick in on a Friday, where I transformed into ‘good time Ben’ the weekend millionaire.  I would be out in town ‘living the dream’ drinking and taking drugs.  One Saturday something wasn’t right, I felt like I was having a heart attack and started to panic.  The panic pretty much lasted all night into the following morning (this did not stop me from partying though).  By the end of my night around 9am, I felt so ill and depressed I knew something was horribly wrong.  To make matters worse I was moving into a new flat that afternoon. I could barely walk or talk, so as you can imagine I was thrilled about the situation.  Luckily, I had some good people to help with the move (they did it all), even to the point of making a bed for me to sleep in otherwise I would have slept on the couch or floor.  I felt so pathetic after everyone was gone, that I actually started crying and hated myself so much at that point.