I was eleven-going on-twelve – my first year in high school – when the moods developed. When they came, it was like I’d never known anything different, so perhaps they were always there, and it was only now I became conscious of them.
Sometimes, I’d become hyper, bounce on my feet, fidget, and my talking would speed up. I always wanted to do something, or nagged people to do things with me. In later years, I’d learn people thought I was taking speed.
Other times I was bleak. I’d look at the other kids – friends screwing around, doing the stuff teenagers do – feel detached and think, Why can’t that be me? It felt like something I was incapable of and disconnected from, that was broken in me and incapable of functioning. I wanted to cry.
There were other things, too. Like, I couldn’t get thoughts out of my head. Something irrational would spawn, and then I’d obsess on it. Once, when I was about thirteen, the thought got stuck in my head that one of my brothers was homosexual. He wasn’t, and there wasn’t any evidence to suggest he was. The harder I tried to get rid of the thought, the deeper it got stuck. It only left several weeks later when I was able to stop paying attention to it.
Despite it all, I was good at school. For stuff like English and Maths I always got pushed ahead a year, and I breezed through all my other subjects, even when I didn’t do the work. They bought all my excuses for not turning work in. Teachers knew I was capable. In Year 10, I barely did any homework. They really should’ve failed me I did so little.
I liked English most of all, although my writing was clunky and needed lots of straightening out, for which I credited my Year 7 English teacher, who taught me about breaking down sentences logically and in point form to see what belonged where.
I wrote epic stories, whether they were wanted or not. In Year 7 English, we wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Mine was over one hundred entries long, a spy action-adventure shoot ’em up. The teacher read it to class, letting the class choose the courses of action. They loved it. It was my first taste of sharing a story with an audience.
In Year 9, I wrote a sixty page sci-fi story. I don’t think the teacher ever read it. Who wants to read sixty pages of messily-written student fiction? Those efforts were normal, though. I just wanted to tell stories.
Writing was cool – to invent worlds, people, plots. It was something I did because I had lots of ideas in my head, and getting them down was a good way to make them real.
But it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Not then anyway.