By Ash Hale
Key Themes: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Addiction, Creative Writing,
Reformed addicts have to give up a lot of things; the thing that makes them feel okay, the things that they formerly devoted their lives to, the things they think and daydream about, the things that they turned to when everything goes to shit. Parapsychopia and the white grass/Blue is a story about someone trying to give up on someone else, but failing.
About the Author
The world was introduced to ash hale on December 14th 1981, some would say they got off on the wrong foot. he spent his early years in the back garden of an anonymous looking house, searching for worms and stability. After moving to Aylesbury, Bucks at the age of four, he spent an unhappy year in the shadow of a father that was merely waiting for the right time to leave. That time never came, but his father left anyway.
Ashís mother was forced to take up three, at one point four jobs (which she continues to this day) to keep the family existing. Ashís motherís mother came to live with them for a short while, and ash enjoyed a very close relationship with her, and was inconsolable when not long after coming to live with them she died of cancer. Ash never forgave himself for not visiting her more often in hospital, despite his young age.
Ashís mother soon married ashís step-father, a violent abusive bully who ash lived in fear of, quietly and desperately resenting the treatment he witnessed toward his beloved mother who became little more than an emotional punch-bag for his stepfather. He would grow up either being ignored or bullied by this tyrant (who at the same time doted on ashís young sister) until his mother made the long overdue decision to throw him out, but not before he could cause irreparable harm, both physical and emotional, to each member of the family.
Throughout this time Ash excelled in school, showing a great aptitude for creativity, which his mother had encouraged in both him and his sister, from an early age. He was a model student at the grammar school he attended until at the age of around 15 he discovered girls, music, alcohol and drugs. Having always been painfully shy (he spent break times and lunch times sat alone on a bench or in the small music room attempting, unsuccessfully to teach himself guitar, too afraid even to go into the main dining hall, he would even avoid assemblies as he could not facing walking in to the crowded room Ė since primary school he had been debilitated by blushing, at the smallest things) in drink and drugs he found a way to deal with the social pressures, and pressures at home (most days were started with his mother sobbing violently as the two children reluctantly got ready for school). At this age there was something of a renaissance of self destruction. The damage he had suffered in despair over his formative years now started to emerge as a considerable force. It could be argued that here, after being trussed together hurriedly and haphazardly, this emerging person began by falling apart. It took a while though.
After a very unhappy year of school, all ash could think about was never going back. Escaping. He enrolled at the local art college, studying film, english literature and english (along with radio, video and journalism). He dropped out after a year, a year spent mostly avoiding classes and watching endless pornography throughout the day, alone.
He spent the next couple of years working part time in a garden centre, and then a superstore, feeling deep inner anguish as the few friends he had made left the dead town he was stuck in, all of them, who had had it easier than him up to this point, then had the bonus of moving onto bigger and brighter things.
It was at around this time that he met the girl that would inspire and destroy him in equal measure, a process that is on going, and by his own admission, one that will have no end. It seemed that he did not know what to do with love until the person that showed it to him had left, too far away to touch, or even see. He still dreams about her most nights. He thinks about her all the time.
After another two years of dead end menial jobs, almost by chance, he stumbled back into full time study, enrolling back at the art college. He walked the academic side of things once again, and made a few lasting friends, but was tormented by the failing on/off relationship he had with his dreamgirl, spending most nights drinking alone in his room, listening to songs of heartbreak and talking to his bittersweetheart at three in the morning, listening to her tell him the name of the boy whoís place she was now walking home from. Jealousy and possessiveness had taken hold of him years ago, each night he was a little more torn up, a little more in despair. A year passed and ash found himself enrolled at Exeter university. Always the outsider, ash made one close friend, and together they spent a year sat in his room watching old movies, listening to music of decay, drinking really seriously and doing every kind of drug they could get there hands on. As the substance use increased and began to dominate every waking moment for him, it became clear to the few careless souls around him at this time that something wasnít right with the boy. His history at this time was written with the blood of self harm, on pages and pages of stream of consciousness writing, and filed under ďmostly inappropriate behaviourĒ. But he did begin writing. He wrote poetry, screenplays for short and feature length films, childrenís books and prose fiction. He spent days going without sleep, propelled by ecstasy, dope, mushrooms and LSD, doused with codeine, glue and the occasional swig of lighter fluid, chanelling all of his emotional messiness into (mostly) readable form.
In his own words ďa scratchy flame had been lit behind my eyes, my fingers cried and I spilt my heart blood over pages like an insect stuck to the surface of water.Ē It became clear that he had found a way of recognising and then communicating something of his inner world, in a way that could make it somewhat communicable to other people.
Something that he never thought would ever happen for him. The drug use spiralled inevitably out of control, to the point that it was his only concern. He was hearing voices periodically and started to lose any kind of grip on reality. He was skeletal thin and in massive financial debt. He was still tormented by a fractured ongoing love for the girl that he loved, and after one particularly painful incident it was then that he first tried to end his own life. It was a messy failure.
The academic year ended, not that ash really noticed, until he was forced to return home when he was evicted from the room he had been shut away in for a year. At home the drug use did not subside, he did not even try and hide it from his family. Upon returning he found his sisterís boyfriend was now living there too, they were about as opposite as two people get. Arguably ash was already deeply lost in psychosis, but if the symptoms had been minor, things then changed, forever. It was as if his mind literally snapped. He was thrust into a world he had no way of getting out of. He lost his mind.
He became deeply paranoid, fled from phantom enemies, ran away periodically, stopped eating and sleeping; stopped talking, stopped living. Here began a battle with mental illness that was as enduring as the love he used to feel.
But this was different, it was malignant and cancerous, it burnt his soul and crushed air from his lungs. He was sectioned into a mental institution, with an initial diagnosis of drug induced psychosis. He spent the worst weeks of his life there, believing he was being stored in order to be burnt and eaten alive after being forced to watch his ex girlfriend gang raped and killed in front of him. He lived this way for months.
Eventually he learnt that the only way to escape from that place was to measure his replies when talking to doctors, to act best he could as if everything was okay. He was released from the hospital gradually, whilst secretly being ordered by voices and hallucinating, tearful with fear and paranoia. He went back home to his mother, sister and sisterís boyfriend, and spent months believing that the boyfriend had been hired to kill him, and was just waiting for the right moment.
The belief that he was about to be killed didnít go away, and soon things took a dramatic turn for the worst. Ash had attempted suicide a couple of times when in hospital, but his most serious attempt occurred within months of his release; believing he was about to be tortured and murdered, he went into the garden shed with a stanley blade and slashed his wrists repeatedly in every direction. Believing he could then escape he walked into the house where he encountered his mother, and he was rushed to hospital, feinting periodically in the car. Upon reaching the hospital he became convinced he was about to be killed again and attempted to steal his mothers car and drive away, fighting with her and threatening her with the blade. She would not desist so he attempted to hijack a car from members of the crowd now watching him. The police were called, en masse, and eventually after struggles and broken glass he was arrested, taken to the cells, and eventually taken to a secure unit, where he was to spend the worse three months of his life. Enough can never be said about his time there, the fear he felt is too cruel for a sane mind to ever really comprehend.
After he showed some signs of improvement he was moved into a regular ward back in his home town, and slowly he was regulated back into living at home, this time with a little more support. Amidst all of this ash started writing his first novel, slob. It was over the following years of recovery as a virtual recluse, that he continued writing, and gradually began to forge some kind of life for himself out of the shattered remains and beneath the ugly scars of someone who genuinely has been to hell and back. He isnít sure yet if itís been worth it, perhaps you can decide.
The next few flakes who came up were just as easy, the technique never fails. It
was weird though how many of the girls looked like the coffee shop girl who stole
my book. Every time they came up and sat down Iíd have to play helpless for a
little while until I could be sure it wasnít her, but usually it was easy to tell
because theyíd be all over their flake boyfriend and Iím pretty sure this girl was
the real person. Even if she didnít really speak to me because I guess I can be
pretty unreal sometimes and perhaps itís some of the flakiness wearing off on me
and I better be careful and take my own browsenning dips a bit more regular, itíd
help with the blood coughs too and itís not all the time but itís scary.
Some of the flakes had such the wrong idea of the place that a few who were
down at the cabins, before it was there time would come up and cause trouble,
nothing regulation just pranks and rowdiness, I have no time for either and they
even nailed some wood above my door that read kintra cooser and they donít
know the first thing because they donít know I like real people. They even started
calling me kintra cooser when they came up; lifeís a joke to these
Street poet Ray once told me that these flakes live in the same way a blind and
dying fish tries to reproduce, spastically spraying seed into communal waters all
twitching and desperate, with only a thin and unconscious hope their essence will
somehow prevail and live on, but it doesnít, it gets drunk and spat out by river
dwelling tourists who feel a bit funny for a while but then go back to longing
secretly longing for comfort. Their essence has always been lost and itís the
kingís work to show them that. Iím a fucking water purifier but Iím still sick and
coughing up blood.
I need to get back to the mess to pick up to stop this blood cough. They wonít
let me in on the processing and Iím too tired to experiment. Itís ok though as Iíll
get to see Ray and tell him about the new crop and how good itís going and listen
to some of his new talk because he always has some for me but I canít tell him
I spat blood like clotted ounces of retribution for long distance dreaming where I
like the states Iím in but hate the disturbance, I wipe my mouth on my sleeve
which is a red check shirt anyway and so it doesnít matter but the blood thickens
and clots and I forget where I am and need to sit down and I look up and Iím in
the same coffee shop drinking the same tea and feeling the same.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 14 June, 2012.