Ad G. — September 2, 2021

I was a good student at school. I wasn’t entirely great, but I understood that hard work would pay off. Sadly, I was to learn about work-life balance the hard way. At eighteen, I did a gap year (from England to Canada – in Banff). I had been practising martial arts like t’ai chi for years already, so my party piece at weed parties was that I could hold my breath for a long time before expelling the smoke. I realised that I didn’t need any kind of personality to gain acceptance in a group over there. I was a “globe-trotting stoner” and when I returned to the UK, I had no real character since these were commonplace qualities already. I’d also heard that cannabis could make you psychotic. Until this point, I was willing to stick with the martial arts and develop this “hyper-vigilance” that way over many decades. I underestimated the power of paranoia. I returned to the UK in 1996, attempting to study psychology, but my mind was askew. In 1999, I was first admitted to hospital – it was one of the bravest decisions for my Mum to raise the alarm with our GP and soon, I was on a mental health ward. For the next ten years or so, I was in and out of hospital. Each time I was admitted, I’d have a brief respite from the cannabis and my meds were upped. I’d be discharged and get high and be admitted again. Each time my meds were increased or tweaked again. Throughout these times, the cannabis was the wild card. I was hooked, but I didn’t realise it – no matter how much my Mum (thoroughly researching cannabis and its effects on some) would try and convince me. Since, 2010, I’ve not been back into hospital and all signs are stable. I had a book published of my recollections of that time and I’ve also lectured and spoken at a good few universities and schools. Since Lockdown, I’ve started three podcasts showcasing my poetry and summaries (with spoilers) of movies and “Ad Gridley’s The Geographer” – an audio version of the book.

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