It's late at night here in Cromer. The Milan derby in the Champions League semi-final is playing on the television, I'm just getting to grips with this fancy new keyboard, so I thought that now would be a good time to update my personal ramblings a little.
The past few days I've been down with flu. It's a side effect of the medication I'm on. Let me explain. One of the side effects of the zispin is that it lowers my white blood cell count, and therefore leaves me open to infection, such as flu. Normally when flu hits me, it hits me hard. With the side effects added into the equation, it felt like I hit the proverbial brick wall for a couple of days. My entire body ached, my throat hurt like hell, and everything I ate either went straight through me or made a quick return journey. Apart from a sore throat I'm mostly okay now.
Something occurred to me a couple of days ago. We're in May, 2003, now, which means it's almost a year since the proverbial shit hit the fan, since my illness was first diagnosed. Of course, there are two things I could do here - either lapse into a sulk, do the old "woe is me" bit, or just try to work through it. Buckle down, throw myself into my work, and try to forget everything that's happened to me.
One year ago I lost a hell of a lot. I lost my career, which was essentially my life. I worked damn hard at what I did, and I did it damn well. I worked damn hard to help build a business, only to see it wrecked by an idiot who really didn't know what he was doing. My health suffered a great deal, and people who I thought were my friends, and members of my own family, basically turned their backs on me and let me down when I needed them the most. I had to put up with months of anguish from my former boss, to the point where he and his wife assaulted me in the middle of my home town.
But now all of that is over. As I said before, I made a promise to those close to me that I would never mention his name again.
Although I'm going to make a stand on something - the article that I had to remove from this website is going back up in the next few days. It's my website, and I can say what I like, and if people don't like it, all I will remind myself of the words a kind and wise Scotsman said to me not long ago - don't let the bastards grind you down.
So, a year after I was first diagnosed, how do I feel? Pretty good at the moment. I still have moments when I feel like shit, but thankfully, these moments seem to be few and far between. Although a few weeks back I did fall off the wagon a little and had a couple of panic attacks. These were the first attacks I'd had in almost six months. It was probably because at the time it felt like my personal support network had let me down, when, in fact, they were just away doing their own thing. I shouldn't try to blame my attacks on them. It wasn't their fault. It was mine.
I asked someone the other day just how far do they think I've recovered in the past year. They replied by saying that they thought I was around 75-80 percent better. Over the past few weeks I've also been told that the old Julian has definitely returned, the Julian who constantly thinks of others, and one friend even told me that talking to me is kind of fun now.
But one thing I've found though is that having a good memory, especially in times of illness, can sometimes be a curse. It means that even though you know you must try and let go of the past, you don't want to, you want to hold on to it as much as possible, and even try to recreate something you had, the thing you've lost and the thing you'll never get back again.
My time at the garden centre was important to me. At a time when it seemed like no one would help me, these folks there gave me a chance to show what I could do. It was a chance I took with both hands. I made some good friends there. I had hoped that some of the friendships I made there would last me for the rest of my life, but in a couple of cases it looks like it won't.
What did astound me about nine months ago was this - while some of the older and (apparently) wiser people I worked with didn't seem to know how to handle my situation, the younger ones, people I had met when they were just kids, and who are now adults, handled my situation a whole lot better.
An example here. When I thought I was better last August, and I stopped taking my medication, and I had a massive panic attack in Norwich, the following day I spent in bed, crying my heart out, wanting to do that thing that even now I can't discuss. I saw my doctor, and got back onto the pills.
A young friend emailed me asking me how I was. I was in two minds then. Should I tell her the truth, or should I try to protect her, and sugar-coat it. This friend had never known me to be down. If I told her the truth, there was the possibility that she may run the proverbial mile. But if she was a friend, she would do the opposite.
So I told her the truth. I told her what happened to me. And you know what? She emailed me straight back, and said something to me that perhaps only a couple of others would have said to me. Despite the fact that she was ten years younger than me, and despite the fact that I still considered her to be a "little girl", she said something that belied her apparent youth and lack of experience in such matters. When I told her that I was close to doing the thing that scared the shit out of me, she said; "If something like that happened to you, I would think that, as your friend, I had failed you, and I would never be able to live with myself knowing that happened to you."
As I write this, I am reminded that I haven't been in touch with her for a while. I haven't got her phone number, but I've still got her e-mail address. I know she doesn't check her emails all that often, but I know now I'll have to take the time to drop her and line, even if it is just to say hi.
So now, the majority of the time, I feel good. Dr. Lennox is back on the case again, which is another good thing. I haven't done this before, but I really should give the Doc some credit. When I first went to the surgery the quack I saw misdiagnosed me, said I was just anxious, and put me on prozac. Boy did that fuck me up. I lost about a stone in weight in very short time. My appetite went to hell. I hardly ate anything. It was only when I went to see Dr. Lennox that things finally started to happen. He changed my prescription, put me on the zispin, and things, albeit slowly, started to get better.
The Doc, from what I heard, has had his own share of problems this past year. I don't know the exact details, but it appears that the surgery in Cromer were literally overworking him. It's a shame that when that place gets a decent doctor, they work the poor sod into the ground. Lennox disappeared for a short while. I don't think I saw him at the surgery for about three months or so. But I'm glad he's back on the case. He's a top bloke, a bloody good doctor, and someone who should take the credit for what's happened to me in the past year as much as anyone else in my life.
One thing that the Doc and I talk about is what they call my personal support network, the people I can turn to whenever I need to talk to someone. He was amazed at just how strong it is, at the fact that I could list five or six people who would just talk to me whenever I was feeling down. The sad thing is that I can't count that many people in my family in that network, which is a shame.
All the while I was growing up, the one thing that my parents kept telling me was that family was everything, that when someone in your family needed you, you should be there for them. This wasn't the case last year. One member of my family won't even let me put a picture of them on this website. So they didn't want me to say to the world "this is my relative, and I love them." So I guess I learned what the phrase "family values" meant this past year or so.
I did have some rather bad news a week or so ago. I had my first proper job interview in over a year, with a company called Sportizus. They're a sporting memorabilia company, who are opening a new store in Norwich, in Castle Mall to be exact, at the end of the month.
Before the interview I was as nervous as hell, but once inside the office, things seemed to go well. The guy looked at my CV, and, when he saw my wrestling connection, the conversation strayed to the obvious. He asked my opinion on this and that, and we seemed to really hit it off. I was told that I would hear if I'd got the job or not that afternoon. But I heard nothing.
So I left it a couple of days before ringing the head office in Coventry. Guess what? I didn't get the job. Even though things seemed to go very well, the guys didn't even bother to check my references or anything, and decided that I wasn't good enough to work for them. Although I am left to wonder if my illness had anything to do with it. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But if it did, it shows that this world is full of bigots who just don't understand just what mental illness really is.
The writing, as you can probably tell from this overly long column, is still going well. The Power Slam article didn't get published, but Fin Martin, all power to him, still paid me for the job, and offered me some work in the future. The guy takes a lot of heat about Power Slam's content, but I say if people don't like Power Slam, why in the hell do they buy it? Just so they can criticize everything in it? Then again, this seems to be the norm with the wrestling industry.
The Total Wrestling article idea is still on, although I may have to change my idea, a guide to British wrestling, a little, with the news that Scott Conway is relocating his company, The Wrestling Alliance, to Thailand. I've only met Scott once, just over a year ago, but talked to him quite a bit via e-mail. He's a top notch bloke, a nice guy who really doesn't get the credit he deserves. Hopefully my contacts will take me down to his final few shows if they're booked (hint hint Julia!)
This coming Saturday I'm doing my second commentary stint for WAW at their latest charity show in Lowestoft. Steve Quintain, the guy organizing the show, offered me the gig, which, despite the fact it meant I wouldn't be able to review the show, I accepted.
In a company filled with nice guys, Steve is probably one of the best. He's been around WAW for years. Yet when people see a guy covered in tattoos, they put two and two together, and come up with three.
This seems to be the case with a lot of professional wrestlers. People outside the industry seem to think that a professional wrestler is a thug, the sort of guy who, when it rains, keeps his feet dry by using his forehead. They think that most wrestlers are as thick as two short planks, when, in fact, with the majority of wrestlers, it's the total opposite.
Most of the guys I've met in the wrestling industry have been real nice guys. Sure, in their private lives, some of them do things that I don't exactly agree with, but as long as they're fair to me, I'll be fair to them.
I really must give a big shout out to Steve's nephew Danny. He's a top notch kid, who always greets me with a big hug whenever I see him, and if you're reading this Danny, thanks for emailing me after Fightmare over two years ago.
One thing that really annoys me about the pro wrestling industry is this - in my near eighteen months in the business, I've met tons of people. Some of these guys have been great. But I've found that it's the veterans, the people who have been in the industry for many, many years, who treat you with the most respect. They shake your hand, make you feel welcome, and treat you like a friend, so the next time you see them, it's like seeing an old friend again.
I'm not going to name anyone here, but there are people in the wrestling industry who have only been around for the proverbial five minutes who really annoy me. They think so highly of themselves. Some of them have achieved great success at an early stage in their careers, and they let this success go to their head. They look down on you, walk around as if they own the world, and at times can't be bothered to help an writer trying to get a break in the business by agreeing to an interview with them.
But then again, reading back what I've just read, I find myself turning into one of those smart marks that constantly picks at everything in the wrestling industry, and that's something I really dislike. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, etc etc.
Needless to say that out of all the wrestlers I've been in touch with over the past few months, it's mainly the guys who have been in the ring for over ten years who have agreed to interviews.
Well, I really can't think of much more to say. It will probably be another month before I have enough material for another one of these columns. Thank you for reading. And to a certain group of people, just plain thanks. You know what for.