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We emerge blinking and traumatised from our teenage years to be told, as indeed we are told with each new decade of our lives, that coming up, without a doubt, is the very best decade of all. Horseshit — just wait until your 50s! Huge lies, the lot of them. Designed, like everything else these days — from Tinder to the iWhatever — to make us feel just slightly more optimistic and less miserable about life.
I entered my 20s just after my first stay in a psychiatric hospital. That hospital which was to be the first of many was the legacy of a difficult and painful previous 15 years. I got out shaken and stirred and mentally scrubbed, newly clean from alcohol and drugs and utterly, startlingly, terrifyingly crazy.
And I basically just shat my pants for the next 10 years. To be fair, my 20s were in some ways amazing. But they were only amazing because I was so goddamn blissfully unaware of everything important.
Deep, intimate, loving, long-term relationships? All the sex. Studying for the pleasure of learning and bettering humanity? No: a masters in psychology to try unsuccessfully to fix what was wrong with me. A job I loved that made me and the world a richer place? Shut up. The City. Financial publishing. More lies. My job was deeply unfulfilling, extremely stressful and vehemently anti-life. The only thing I loved doing, playing the piano, I had cast aside aged 18 and refused to engage with beyond listening to music and going to concerts.
I knew that the real answers to life would be found in big pay cheques, bigger distractions, five-star hotels and avoiding any kind of self-awareness like the plague. And, honestly, it almost bloody killed me. Worst of all, by my late 20s I was doing this as a father — taking responsibility for another life when my own looked as though it belonged on a reality TV show.