Whats in a name?
Having grown up in relatively masculine environments, initially in my apartment complex in Hong Kong, playing Rugby (or at least being on tour) around the globe, spending my formative years at a British boarding school, attending university in cardiff (undesputed best in its country) and then later working in the financial markets. My name seemed to change to match the occasion, Daniel, Danny, DB, Brownie and to the Americans Dan.
Nicknames were a part of the territory, and, I would often be quick to dispatch nicknames to members of my respective tribe, giving little thought to the effect on the recipient. In turn I had my own nicknames that usually made some reference to my weight or my alter-ego as a filipina tour guide, Delores.
It had never occurred to me that I was in essence donning an armour that protected me from being wounded, whilst at the same time, placating my own insecurities by claiming dominance over my audience.
To be fair, it wasn’t malicious and most were in good spirits. I don’t think anyone lost any sleep over them and I dont begrudge the ribbings I have received over the years.
However, as I was called upon by my counsellor Sean to correct the entire group of my peers at rehab in Chiang Mai, I found myself feeling surprisingly vulnerable.
This was masculinity week in rehab, and on account of an administrative error upon arrival my bag was emblazened with “Dan”. With no correction forthcoming, my fellow community members had come to use this title to address me. As my nicknames go, Dan was both harmless and pretty close to the source, but it is not my name. And much like a performer having a stage name, my use or acceptance of alternative monickers allowed me to not have to emotionally engage with what was going on around me.
In therapy speak I was allowing myself to disassociate from my reality. So having only known the people around me for a total of about 5 days, I was being outed and made to confess to my disguise. Thus began my journey of finding out what, or who exactly, I was introducing to those outside of my amazingly compartmentalised existence.
Here is the tricky thing about life, its only when shit goes wrong that we get to see how stable our foundations are. To quote Mike Tyson, “everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth”. As it transpired when I was hit with a combo of personal, professional and psychological punches in quick sucsession I was like Bambi on Ice (literally).
In a very short period of time, I went from being a trader in an investment bank featured in the wedding special of Tatler, to being divorced, unemployed and a methamphetine addict
In writing this series of posts, I am hoping to get some perspective on what has been a pretty rollercoaster existence. I am seeking to address areas that I probably would rather not (at least up until this point) have disclosed to my friends let alone publish. However, in the weeks leading up to this point I have discovered that whilst I may well be batshit crazy, I am by no means alone.
I also hope that in writing this, I may give someone else the comfort that they are by no means alone in their “craziness”. Or perhaps,that at least one person is more fucked than they are, and, he has the courage to write about it.
Despite being pretty early on in my sobriety I feel like I am a hell of a lot closer to knowing what I am, if not completely the who.
Mental Health issues in men are often silent and its not until you start the conversation you realise just how common these problems are.
So at the risk of losing my audience before I have one, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Danny, and I look forward to taking you on my journey with me.