Learning to live with bipolar — Year 2
An account of how my bipolar condition has affected me over the last twelve months including a sever manic episode in Bali
Tomorrow is exactly two years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at The Priory psychiatric hospital in London. This time last year I wrote this blog called Learning to Live with Bipolar as part of the process on trying to understand the condition from which I suffered.
Now you would think that with two years’ experience ‘under my belt’ things would be better — that I would have learned how to manage my condition but that has not been the case. In fact, I am really no better off than I was a year ago, still lacking in knowledge of how to avoid the ‘triggers’ of the mania side of bipolar.
However, through experiencing a severe manic episode in late May this year and having fully recovered from that, I am able to look in the rear-view mirror and analyse what happened leading up to it. This, combined with the strict medicine regime I am on will, hopefully, prevent another such episode.
In this blog, my main aim is to share the story of what happened to me in May and how I have recovered since that time. I’m hopeful that in doing so it will be useful for other sufferers of bipolar and for psychiatrists and therapists to understand fully what goes through the mind of a person in psychosis.
First though, I need to give some background information to give context for what will follow.
Bali, October 2018
As I mentioned in my blog a year ago, it was a visit to see my friend Jacqui in September 2018 that led me to leave London and move to Bali after spending the year trying to get on with life in the way I always had done. Jacqui said that I needed to ‘change my life’ and, with that and being lonely and unemployed, I moved to Bali, a place where I had spent a lot of time over the previous five years.
Soon after my arrival, I went to a psychiatrist called Dr Monika Joy and much to my pleasant surprise she reduced my medication from that which I had been on since leaving The Priory ten months earlier. And there was a very good reason for that.
Dr Joy told me that it was likely that what she called ‘socialisation’ was a big factor in my mental state. By this she meant the importance of the social setting in my daily life, which was something that I had long felt to be the decisive factor in how I feel at any particular time — and the absence of being around my work colleagues in 2018 had been especially troublesome.
Dr Joy was confident that because I was in Bali where I had a good group of local friends that I would be much better off and happier than I had been in London. And it proved to be true.
After spending my first two months just trying to get healthy again and having come to the decision that I wanted to stay in Bali long-term, I decided that I needed to get a job and I thought teaching English would be a good option. I found a local company called English First, applied and got the job, which would start in February 2019.
Another ‘event’ happened during December — I started dating an Indonesian woman called Yuni. We started to meet up once a week, took a two-night trip to a nearby island together and by the time it came to New Years Eve, we were in love.
It’s hard to put into words how good this made me feel after 6.5 years on my own since my wife’s suicide in 2012. Yuni made me feel safe, loved and cared for — she became my companion.
Starting my new job
Up until February 2019, I had been living in the town of Ubud but with my job being based in Denpasar I decided I needed to move. Yuni and I started looking at places near where she lived in Kerobokan and we soon found an apartment that was ideal.
I started my job and almost immediately I realised that it was not only something I was good at but that I also really enjoyed it. The job was teaching in a virtual classroom, mainly with students based in China but also in South America and Europe.
After 15+ years working in corporate companies, I found it so interesting to hear what the rest of the world did. And, soon I found that it was not only about teaching my students English — I could help them with other things too, such as job interviews.
My relationship with Yuni
Just before I started my job, I told Yuni for the first time that I had bipolar disorder. She actually already knew this having read the blog that I wrote in November 2018.
So, at this point we were three months into our relationship and were very much in love. Over Easter we took another trip away to the Gili Islands and it was a magical weekend together.
However, as we now know, I was becoming manic. I started talking about us moving to Gili, opening a coffee shops, running English teacher training courses, opening a water sports business and there’s probably something else I have missed off this list.
While work was going really well, the issue of my work permit which I should have had in February was still not sorted. Visas and work permits are something Yuni knows a lot about because she’s an HR Manager and it was clear that there was something ‘fishy’ about my situation.
So I began to do some digging and I became deeply suspicious of the agent handing my application. But, by getting so so involved in the process, I became stressed.
On top of this I was working a lot of overtime, not exercising and not eating as well as I should have been. Although I didn’t realise it at the time I had also lost a lot of weight.
By this time Dr Joy had reduced my medication to just a small dosage of an anti-depressant so I was not longer taking mood stabilisers or anti-psychotics. Dr Joy reasoned that if we could avoid me becoming depressed, it was unlikely I would become manic.
Over the second weekend in May, I went to New Zealand for Mum’s birthday and Mother’s Day and had a wonderful time with my family. Everyone remarked how great I was doing but, as we were soon to find out, I was manic.
During the week after I came back from New Zealand I barely slept and when I got to work on the Saturday morning, I realised that I was in no state to teach, so I went home and texted Dr Joy to say I needed some sedation. I called in sick on Monday and went to see Dr Joy and she gave me a whole lot of new medication but, by this time, it was too late — I was severely manic.
Bipolar essentially means two poles which in basic terms means a sufferer can swing between depression and mania. More than that though, as I have found out, when mania strikes my actions are the opposite of what they should be and psychosis is when thoughts become delusional.
Just before I left for my appointment with Dr Joy, I started a test on my laptop to see if my wifi was strong enough to cope with the technical requirements to teach English online from home.
When I got back from the doctor’s I saw a message on my laptop screen and I totally freaked out. Why? Because, at this stage, I was totally untrusting of my company.
Why? Because they had been trying to organise a work permit for me and I had seen documents that seemed fraudulent and so I did not trust the agent that was handling my application. So, when I saw that message on my laptop, I thought that my company was trying to exploit me in some way — it was totally deluded thinking, it was just a test error but I didn’t see it that way.
I thought my company was out to ‘get me’ and so I cleared out my room of all important stuff and called Yuni to say “don’t go there, it’s not safe”. She was, rightly, totally confused but we agreed to talk later and agree a plan where to meet.
From there, I got a taxi to a shop to get a new iPhone because I reckoned that my company had infiltrated my email account and my identity. And while at the shop I realised that because we had a finger print scanning system at the front door at work that my company could hack everything. So I bought a new phone and reset my password without Touch ID and did the same on my laptop.
From there, I walked to a hotel that I knew and checked into a room and put all my important things in the safe including my old mobile which I knew had incriminating evidence against my company on it. I then walked next door to my doctor’s clinic and asked him to keep my passport safe.
After that, I had an English class to teach at a Balinese bank and by now I believed that it was also in on the conspiracy. I arrived late and the first class went well but the second class less so. Two guys were texting much more than normal and this worried me — I felt that they were in on a plot with my company to ‘get me’.
Of course this was complete nonsense but that was what my bipolar mind was telling me. The same was true after class when one of my students asked me basic questions about where I was going and where my girlfriend worked — I was fearful of everyone.
I got dropped off at Yuni’s sister’s place and, naturally, her and her husband were wondering what I was doing there. I’d only met them a few times and here I was turning up fearing for my life — or more so for my identify, which I felt my company was stealing from me.
Soon Yuni arrived and we were off on what one might call a ‘wild goose chase’. We ended up staying in an expensive guesthouse/hotel and at this point neither of us knew what was going on other than that I said I was not safe and I needed to know how to get out of Indonesia in case of a medical emergency while my passport was at Immigration — and of course there was no such emergency.
I didn’t sleep at all that night and in the morning I called a friend to ask him to send a driver for the day. I was relived when Ketut arrived and he took us to a beach bar where we sat and contemplated what to do about the stuff in the safe at the hotel.
I should say at this point that Yuni had spent the night with me at the guesthouse, leaving her mum and son at home by themselves which she never does and now she was taking a day off work to be with me. And of course she had no idea what was going on with me.
We convinced Ketut to go to the hotel and pay for an extra night for the room and I said to him to pay exactly the price I had paid the previous day — I did not want to bribe them. Again, a totally crazy thought.
From the beach bar, Yuni and me went for a walk and found a nice place to stop for a coffee. By this time I had been given the week off work to recover and this place seemed ideal to be safe and recuperate.
I agreed to pay 13 million rupiah for six nights which equates to around £700. It was an absurd amount of money to spend but I figured that I would claim it back from my company for causing the situation — another totally deluded thought.
I agreed that I would rent a luxurious villa on a no names basis. I would only be known as the ‘sick guy’ and only family calls would be allowed. The staff were amazing in what they did for me that day.
That night we visited Yuni’s auntie for dinner and then took a taxi to meet my friend Jero who had been to the hotel to get everything out of the room. Yuni had, quite rightly, convinced me that it was crazy to be paying for a hotel room and also that we needed to get my medication which I had also left in the room.
After meeting Jero and her family, we took a taxi back to the safe place in Berawa and, on the way, Yuni said to me that I needed to show her some affection. It wasn’t that she needed it, but I did and she was right.
When we got back, around 11pm we sat down on the sofa and I looked at Yuni’s tummy and laid down on it. It was as if she was my mum and I cried my eyes out — it was enough to get me to sleep. And Yuni stayed the night with me again.
The craziest day of my life
The next morning, I woke early and had a surreal experience. It started by cleaning the table so that it was spotless to which Yuni remarked “you don’t normally do that” — in other words I was usually quite messy.
I went with Yuni to collect her son from school then Yuni went home to her house and she put me in a taxi to the safe house at Berawa. As I arrived, I felt totally serene, it was a feeling that I had never experienced before — life felt perfectly in sync.
I got out of the taxi and walked into the NZ consulate, which happened to be right next door, to say I was in danger and I had an irrational thought — that the consulate was not safe because it was somehow ‘in bed’ with the Indonesian government, which was now my enemy.
So I walked out and even though I was right next to my safe place, I got spooked and, instead, I ran into a hotel next door. I was at the reception of a hotel near Berawa Beach and was about to book a room because I thought my safe place next door was no longer safe.
I was worried that the bad guys, whoever they were, would be waiting for me. Then I noticed the receptionist was on a walkie talkie, I assumed to the guy at the front gate, and concluded I was walking into a trap.
I literally bolted and ran for the nearest door, leaving my flipflops behind as I dashed to the beach. I figured that it would be safe and no one could get me there.
I made my way to a small beachside bar and hid for a while. I checked my pockets and found the piece of paper which contained my important phone numbers — the problem was my phone battery was flat.
I needed to get a message to Yuni urgently to not go back to the safe place but no one that I asked on the beach had credit on their phone. I couldn’t believe it, how could it be that people don’t have credit on their phone these days — sod you What’s App I thought.
At this point, with my mind racing, I had somehow concluded that only Balinese people could be trusted which of course was mad given that Yuni is Javanese. So when a guy appeared out of nowhere and said he was from Sumbawa, another Indonesian island, I totally freaked out and ran for it.
I could have just sat still on the beach and waited — maybe Yuni would come and find me? I mean who is going to attack or, worse still, shoot someone on the beach in broad daylight but I was taking no chances.
At this point I could have either run south towards Kuta or north to Caangu. I figured that going north would mean going past Finns, the beach club where we had been with Ketut the day before, so I decided that was a bad option because I might be recognised there.
This decision gives you an idea of how crazy my mind was at this point but, of course, I felt in control. It was only later after what was a crazy day that I realised, at this juncture, I should have just waited on that spot until I calmed down — but I was manic and out of control.
And so I made my way south staying close to the sea and keeping a close eye on the land to make sure I was not being followed. I also developed a tactic of staying close to other people walking on the beach — surely I would be safe from sniper fire there.
But there were also some stretches of beach that were empty so I ran as fast as I could in the sea which created a new problem for me — my new iPhone got saturated. So even if I had a charger, which I didn’t, there was a good chance that it would not work.
At this point I decided that if I stayed on the beach all day I would make it to Jimbaran, a place Yuni and me had always wanted to go to together and if I was able to do that, she would know where to find me. It might take her a while to work it out, but I had to make sure I kept myself safe now.
And so as I made it past Batu Belig and Seminyak beaches I found the relative safety of Legian where there were plenty of tourists and, most importantly, Balinese people. I’d had one close shave — a man on the beach posing as a sunglasses salesman in fact had a gun in his bag but I managed to out run him.
I came off the beach, walked into a hotel and had a good look around deciding on what level of safety it afforded me. I found a cupboard in which I could hide if I needed to and saw that there were a few different ways out if I needed to run.
And with that I relaxed, took a seat by the pool and while I decided what to do next. It was around 2pm at the hotel in Legian and I was desperate to get a message to Yuni.
She works at a hotel quite out of the way but I thought that if I could get a motor bike ‘courier’ to get the message to a nearby restaurant, the message would eventually get to Yuni. I talked to some of the staff at the hotel and although they were friendly, they could not help me.
And so I began to become suspicious of everyone — why was it that no one could see my crisis?
So, I decided to walk for a while and and soon I was in the crowded shops of Kuta and bought myself a new outfit so that I would not be recognised. I went for a Bintang hat and a red Balinese shirt and I kept walking feeling pretty sure I was safe now.
Eventually I found my way to Siolam Hospital where I had seen Dr Joy two days earlier and across the road was a big shopping mall. I walked through the mall into the car park and decided that this would be a good pick-up point if I got in contact with Yuni or another friend.
From there, I started walking down a backstreet and began to think about how I would disappear. I thought back to the hotel and how I had run out the back door — I would have been caught on CCTV cameras but, helpfully, I was sure that no one would have been able to positively identify me from that point.
As I walked, I came across a place called “Rima’s Salon” (the name of my deceased wife), down an alleyway. It was closed and I took it as a sign that it was meant to be — this was the place that I lay the tracks of my disappearance, that of Andrew McLean.
I began to think about where to dump my driving licence and my bank cards, and what to do with my phone. And I kept walking through the backstreets of Denpasar while pondering a name to call myself, a new identity.
At this point I had dumped my shirt and my hat, it was time for another disguise. But, also, at this point funds were running low and I did not want to use an ATM as it would trigger an alert as to my whereabouts.
This gives you an idea about how deluded my thinking had become. Not only did I have to find a way to disappear in order to be safe, I believed that the bad guys could track me based on using my UK bank card at a foreign ATM.
I needed a hat, anything that would help me be anonymous and as I meandered through many shops no one would sell me a hat for the 10,000 rupiah that I had left. That’s around 50p in UK terms.
By now I was getting very close to the road to South Bali, the road that would take me to Jimbaran where Yuni would find me. I knew no one down there so it would be completely safe yet something told me to stop and, by this time, I was getting tired so I decided to go back into Kuta.
I wasn’t sure where I was going and I came across ACE Hardware and went inside to buy a phone charger which I paid for with my UK credit card but giving a false signature. By now I had decided that my new identity was “Tian Strauss”, a former South African rugby player.
It’s worth saying something about how I came up with the name. Tian is short for Christian, who was my manager at work, while Strauss is short for Andrew Strauss, a former England cricketer.
I figured that once I had my new documents that would show me as half Zimbabwean and half Austrian, the change of identity would be complete. I had to think about my accent but that could wait a while.
Once outside ACE Hardware, I found an electricity point and, as I had feared, the sea water had killed the phone — it was dead. “Oh well” I thought and I kept moving as I thought that I needed somewhere to rest and sleep for the night.
I arrived at the first hotel en route but soon the manager was asking too many questions and soon I was at a small hotel where a lovely young Balinese lady greeted me. What I liked about this place was the CCTV and I soon readily agreed to pay 600,000 rupiah (£30) for a one-night stay.
At this point I was concerned for a safe place for Yuni to meet me and I left to get some money to pay for the room and some food — I was starving at this point. So I went to the ATM and then into a restaurant and ordered a pizza and a beer.
While sitting there waiting, I noticed a lot of people looking at me and, wrongly, I assumed they were spies. They were just ordinary customers enjoying their night.
I decide to take my pizza as ‘bungkus’, a takeaway, finished my beer and was soon on my way to check into my room. I approached feeling good but soon a horror scene hit me.
As I walked up to the door, I saw six men surrounding the receptionist and, thinking quickly on my feet, I threw the money for the room at her and said my girlfriend would be arriving soon. I said her name was Dayu Aryiana which had been the waitress’s name of the restaurant that I had just come from.
Yuni is Yunita Aryani but something triggered a response. The agent handling my work visa application was called Ayu and somehow I had thought a random restaurant staff member called Dayu was somehow caught up in the whole thing.
It was total madness and somehow out of all of this, I decided that that the room I rented would become a trap for Ayu, the visa agent and Kumara, a work colleague. It would be they that would become trapped and got caught on CCTV and not me.
The question at this point is: were there really six men at the hotel reception or was I seeing things? It’s so unlikely that in the space of less than an hour six men would have arrived, so I am certain it was a hallucination.
Was it a tiny dose of alcohol or was it fear that caused it? Or was it something so nasty that bipolar does to someone?
It reminded me of the time when I was in The Priory, the psychiatric hospital in London when five people came into my room and I feared for my life. Was that, in fact, a hallucination as well?
I’m sure that it wasn’t because I knew exactly who was in the room whereas here, in a Kuta hotel, all of the men looked the same. They were simply a mirage of evil.
With that out of the way, I was soon on the move again through the streets of Kuta carrying my takeaway pizza. I passed a restaurant where I was greeted by a lovely girl from Sumbawa but, once again, I did not feel safe to enter.
As I walked I wondered what it was that had triggered my whereabouts to the bad guys who had been in the hotel — was it me trying to charge my phone or was it the use of my credit card at the hardware shop that had tipped off the people that were now following me in Kuta? If six men could appear out of no where at a hotel, how bad could it get?
So, as I walked down the street feeling unsafe, I decided to ditch my phone. I had figured out that it must be the source of the bad guys wanting to get me, that they must have been to the shop where I bought the phone and got the phone details from the staff. And it seemed to me that it was too unlikely that it would be my UK bank card.
And so, I threw a brand new iPhone into a bush and marched on, to where, I had no idea.
I was in a part of Bali that I did not know which I cursed myself for. Why had I not headed to Ubud, for example, where all my friends lived? Why had I not just got into a taxi with a Balinese driver and get to safety quickly?
I came upon a major intersection and staked it out. One road was far too dark to walk down and I wasn’t going back the way I came.
So, I walked into Burger King and immediately saw two huge guys that I assumed were the Russians I had run from at the start of the day. So, I ran outside and the police that had been at the intersection had disappeared — so I was on my own again.
At this point I could have just sat down in Starbucks and chilled out but the manic mind doesn’t allow for that. I was in a state of panic and needed an escape route.
I could have taken the road towards Kerobokan where I lived, but I did not know that road so I ruled it out. It left me with two choices: either get in a taxi or run over to the petrol station across the road where there were two families begging.
I stopped a taxi and asked to see the driver’s KTP (his Indonesian ID card) and it checked out. But, by this stage, I was distrusting of everyone, and so I bolted for the petrol station and said ‘hello’ to the kids that were begging to people in passing cars.
Then I went over to their mums and offered them my pizza and a beer. And, with that, I began to relax and probably spent an hour resting there while I figured out my next move.
I reasoned that these Balinese women were totally safe and so I was also safe there but I knew that it could not last. And then a car stopped in close range to us and I freaked out again — there must be a sniper in the back seat.
So I ran once more, this time up Sunset Road back towards Legian, looking for places to hide if I needed to. The road was quiet and I was pretty sure I was not being followed.
The pressure was now off and soon I found a pipe under a bridge that was, well, safe as houses. I could well have stopped there but because I was manic and because I wanted to get back to Yuni, I kept moving.
Soon I had another crucial decision to make when I arrived at another intersection. The road to the right was one I knew that would take me home but it was very dark so I opted to go left, into Legian.
As I have said, the bipolar mind, when in a state of mania makes me do the opposite of what is right. I don’t know if it’s the same for other sufferers but it’s frightening what it does to me.
Soon I was in a busy street of Legian and felt a relative sense of safety. By this time through I had become deeply suspicious of the motorbike taxis as one company had been my client at work.
My contact was a lady called Ayu from Jakarta and even though it’s a really common name even in Bali, I associated her with the visa agent that had caused all my problems. I figured that the drivers of her company, Grab, were out to get me too.
And there were many of them on the main street of Legian so I ran and walked, ducked and weaved and sometimes shouting at the Grab drivers to ‘get away’. It must have been pure comedy for anyone watching — seeing this crazy guy acting like this in a busy tourist area.
At one point I sat on the street curb weighing up the pros and cons of going into a busy bar. I assumed on the one hand it would be totally safe but on the other I could become trapped, so I kept moving and soon found a quiet street that seemed to be safe.
I wandered down and it was virtually empty and I found temporary peace in the reception of a hotel. When I think back, I don’t know why I didn’t call Yuni at this point — I guess my mind was still racing.
After an hour or so, my mind cleansed, I took a business card from the hotel, called The Mango Tree, and found a guesthouse. I booked a room under my assumed name, Tian Strauss, and lay down.
I felt completely safe at this point, yet I felt a strong urge to make my way back to Yuni. So I left the hotel business card behind (Yuni knew I love mango juice) along with a 500 rupiah coin, something I knew would positively identify me if she made it to the guesthouse.
What I also knew was that I now had a safe room for her or me. If either of us was in danger, this was a place we could go to be safe.
It was quiet outside as I wandered on and stopped outside a shop. By now, it was past 10pm and I had been walking all day — I was tired and needed to rest.
Quite why I did not just go back to the room I had just rented defies belief. I was utterly exhausted yet mania brings the ability to soldier on.
And so, I found a taxi whose driver was from Karengasem, the same place as the bigger families that I had met a couple of hours earlier. With him, I felt safe and we were soon on the move, headed for Yuni’s sister’s place.
Why I didn’t just go straight to Yuni’s place makes no sense at all but, maybe, I thought that because her sister was married to a Balinese man, Gede, that it was a very safe option. As it turned out it was a move that got me back to Yuni.
I didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi so I left the driver my credit card and he gave me his business card. I promised that we would hire him as Yuni’s family driver.
I walked down the alleyway to Gede’s place and found the lights on but everyone was asleep. So, I lay down behind the family temple, safe in the hands of God, but I could not sleep.
So, and bearing in mind that Gede hardly knew me, I woke him up and told him I needed to get to Yuni’s place. He must have wondered what on earth I was doing but he was amazing and he ordered a motorbike taxi for me (and paid for it).
The ride, which was around 20 minutes, was fine as I kept my head down — I was sure that I was not being followed. I got off at a convenience shop near Yuni’s place and then had an important thought — was her place being watched?
So I proceeded with caution. I checked the street ahead of me and there seemed to be a guy on lookout so I decided it was an unsafe area and that I needed to lie low for a while.
I made my way along the main street and lay in a ditch. In the distance I could see a taxi that was not moving — once it moved, I would too but it stayed for what seemed an eternity.
I looked at other options to escape including an alleyway on the other side of the street but I had no idea where it led so I sat still. Maybe I could have fallen asleep there but I was still wired and in the knowledge I was less than half a kilometre from Yuni’s place.
It was probably around 3am at this point and I had been on the wake since around 7am. I was tired but also alert.
As I lay there pondering my crazy day I heard a sound that I liked, that of a stream of water and I crawled towards it. I then saw that that stream cut between the houses and I was soon on my feet, knowing that it led towards Yuni’s house.
As I came to where the stream intersected the road I looked left and right and saw no danger. So I crept quietly down the road that led to Yuni’s house and, as I peered around the corner, I saw a motorbike with its light on outside her house.
Clearly, at night, this was not a safe place for me to go so I found refuge in an empty lot at the top of the street and laid down to rest. I don’t think I slept at all that night and when day broke I made my move.
With no obvious danger around, I walked into Yuni’s apartment complex around 6am. I’d never been there before and I crept around as the residents started to wake.
I got talking to a lady called Nita, short for Yunita, like Yuni, and she was just lovely. She was from Sumatra but had lived in Bali for many years with her Australian husband.
She calmed me down and pointed me to where Yuni’s flat was in the building. She even offered up a company where I might find work, called Karma.
With that, I knocked on the door I now knew to be Yuni’s and we embraced and sat down outside for a coffee to reflect on what had happened. She was relived to see me but not as happy as I was to see her — she was alive and well.
Getting me back to a safe place
It was now Yuni’s third day in a row that she had not been to work because of me and she needed help. Probably she should have called my doctor but instead she called my friend Yani, who lives in Ubud.
Yani was soon on her way to collect us and so we relaxed and had some food. I sat close to the pavement to keep watch and I probably did all the talking — I don’t remember — but I felt safe.
Yani arrived in her car and with her fiend Joanne and me and Yuni climbed in. I ducked down, lying on Yuni’s lap and tried to rest. Surely I was safe now — I mean who would attack a car with three women in it?
Although we were headed to Ubud, Yuni told Yani that we should first go to the Berawa safe house to collect my possessions but I didn’t realise this was the plan until we arrived. Yuni and Joanne got out of the car to go inside as I peered out the window to check to see if anyone was watching us — it had been at this exact spot that I began my crazy day on the run a couple of days earlier.
It had been more than 24 hours hours since I was last there, and two days after we checked in. Luckily I had not paid the full price up front and Yuni was able to say to the staff that I needed to leave.
As we started to move, I lay down on Yuni’s tummy once more and when I was certain that we were safe, I sat up. It felt like freedom and, no doubt, I talked incessantly. After spending the afternoon in an Ubud cafe, Yuni and me went to Yani’s house.
I don’t remember much about what happened next other that they tried to put me to sleep on the sofa and when Yuni left to go home, I could not see her face clearly. I knew it was her but I could not see her — it was a scary feeling.
I’m pretty sure I was hallucinating again and I can only assume that it was my bipolar illness that caused it. At this point, I probably needed to be in hospital under medical care.
Soon I was asleep but it did not last, I was awake at 1am and, with the lights in the house on, I got up and began to write. This is what happens when mania hits me — I’m alert and always want to be ‘doing’ something.
At first my writing was totally incoherent as I struggled to write in a legible form but fairly quickly I was writing with a precision that I had never managed before. I had perfect handwriting and began writing various notes with well-ordered numbering systems.
Between 1am and day break I wrote a lot and to all sorts of people. The thoughts just flowed endlessly.
Resigning from my job
It was now the morning of Friday 24 May and after everyone had woken up and we’d had breakfast, I decided to go for a walk to post a letter — that of my resignation as an English teacher in Bali. It was full of demands and anger and when I showed it to Yani, she suggested that I talk to Yuni first and I said I didn’t need to.
I had no reason to resign and, at this point, someone needed to sit me down and be forceful with me. Maybe someone like my good friend Kadek could have helped me to see sense and I’m pretty sure Dad could have but he was in New Zealand and had no clue what was going on — at this stage my family knew nothing of my psychosis.
And of course I should have discussed it with Yuni — she was my girlfriend and we wanted to have a life together. Her opinion mattered the most.
Then again, as you will have guessed by now, it is very hard to reason with or influence someone in the defective mental state that I was in. I was totally out of control.
And so I walked into the centre of Ubud to the post office. I assured Yani I would do that and then come straight back to her place.
When I arrived, I found out that the post office did not offer same-day delivery to Denpasar and I wanted the letter to arrive at work before the weekend. So I decided to try to find someone on a motorbike to deliver it for me.
Eventually I found my way back to Kafe (owned by Kadek), and asked a security guy if he could help me and went inside to wait. A man approached me and I immediately became suspicious so I went outside and could not see the security guy.
I freaked out and ran out of back door of Kafe and into Kadek’s house. Kadek was not there and I was so paranoid at this stage that I even started quizzing his cleaner and established that she had worked for Kadek for six months.
I asked to use the phone and called Yani who said our friend Jero was at her place and she would come to collect me in 10 minutes. I waited on the front steps of Kadek’s house and soon Jero arrived, and I felt safe again.
We got on her motorbike and went to my friend’s warung, a small restaurant, where Jero forced me to eat someone. And we talked, although I have no idea what about other than my ridiculous question: was it normal for a muslim woman to work at the post office?
Jero took me back to Yani’s house and then I did something unthinkable — I sent a resignation email to work. I kept it brief but said I resign as of today.
When I say unthinkable, I mean that I did it with no thought of the dire consequences of doing so. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, I loved my job but, by now and because of the psychosis I was in, I was unable to comprehend what it would mean for me in the future, namely that I would be unemployed in a place where it’s almost impossible to find regular employment.
I feel angry at myself for being so irresponsible for my own welfare. As Dad says, everyone needs a job for the stability it brings as well as the money.
I don’t remember much more about that day but I think I slept for a while because my next memory was it being dark at there was no one at Yani’s house. Why had they left me alone I wondered? Perhaps it was to show me that I was safe there?
I walked outside and I immediately felt peaceful — indeed I was safe here. I thought everyone, whoever everyone was, must be at a restaurant waiting for me so I went looking for them.
And I walked and walked with no sign of anyone that I knew at any of the obvious places to look in an area that I knew well. Eventually I came to a big restaurant complex that I had not been inside of before.
The next part of the story is totally surreal as I went into some sort of trance. I wandered into what I thought was some sort of reception party for me even though the place was virtually empty and was handed a beer by one of the staff members.
I sat by the water feeling peaceful and waited. I saw people sitting at tables who looked like they might be from China — were they my students that I taught online and they had come to see me?
I went to an upstairs area and found some special Balinese outfits and decided that these must be for me and Yuni and that there was going to be a big party celebrating our relationship. But, perhaps it would be tomorrow night instead of today and maybe this was all part of a grand plan to make me feel safe again, that my ordeal might soon be over with a happy ending?
With that thought I headed back towards Yani’s house. I wandered into a ricefield towards what looked like a mini village, was soon stopped by some men asking what I was doing and they sent me on my way.
I walked along the road and saw the the word “Lekker” on a shop sign which I immediately associated with a South African company that I used to work for. Maybe my old colleagues were also in town for the party?
I was now feeling tired and went back to Yani’s house. She had organised a room for me at a neighbouring house and I lay down and thought about Yuni.
I wanted to tell her about what had just happened but I didn’t have a phone. Exhausted, I was soon asleep.
Becoming a secret agent
On the Saturday night, me and Yuni went to a local restaurant that we knew well to get some dinner. And it’s at this point that my psychosis became full blown.
Yuni and me had our food and then the owner, Albert, came to sit down and chat with us. We knew him well from many previous visits.
As we sat there, and I don’t know how I received it but I now had a message which revealed that I was a secret agent. I never actually received a message, written or otherwise but it was a vivid experience.
In essence, I had just been told that my family were secret agents, somehow involved in plot to bring down corrupt oil companies. The details were sketchy but it somehow related to when my granddad worked for Mobil Oil and also to the real reason why my family had lived in the Chatham Islands, a group of Islands 300km east of New Zealand, when I was a young boy.
And now my mission had been revealed, I was take the lead in setting up a bank on the island of Bali. How this linked to the oil scandal I am not sure but, at this point, it mattered not.
I quickly found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down how I would do it and who would be involved. It only took me a few minutes as, essentially, the people were all friends of mine at the South African bank where I had worked for many years in its London office.
More on that later but, for now, I went back to the table and showed my plan to Yuni and quickly realised that Albert might have seen it — and this was now a top-secret matter. So, I tore up the plan and we left quickly.
At this juncture, I must have assumed Yuni was also a secret agent but I did not know how she was involved because I as soon suspicious of her. And, of course, she had no idea of what was going through my mind.
As we walked down the street towards my place I had a sudden, random thought: when was my next doctors appointment? So I called Dr Joy and demanded to know why I had been hallucinating and saying she should have warned me that it would happen.
It was around 8pm on a Saturday night and I could hear Dr Joy’s kids in the background — she must have got the shock of her life! But, she handled the call and my criticism well, and we did agree to meet on Monday.
I was, totally unjustifiably, concerned that a little white pill that Dr Joy had prescribed earlier in the week was causing me to hallucinate and that’s why I demanded answers from her. In truth, as I later discussed with her, I was so manic about what was going on at work that when I saw her that I did not do what I always did — to ask exactly what I she was prescribing and what it was for.
When we got back to my place, we had a shower and then I set up two chairs in front of the CCTV cameras to interview Yuni, about what I don’t know. And I decided to do it naked, and I never get naked.
Perhaps at this point I was so disorientated as well as angry with my family for not telling me that I was a secret agent that I just decided to take the piss out of the whole situation. As I asked her questions, Yuni just sat there smiling.
While this was going on, Niko, a fellow resident in my block of apartments, stopped by and I grabbed a chair so he could join the interview. Quite who we were broadcasting to I will never know but he said “whatever you’re taking, I want some of it”.
And the interview rambled on for a while. I guess Niko just thought it was what I did for fun while Yuni must have been delighted to have someone else present to work out WTF to do with me.
Yuni tells me that she slept only for a few hours that Saturday night and is unsure about me. The only thing to be sure of is “whatever I was on” as Niko put it, totally fucked me over the next day.
Cracking the secret code
On the Sunday morning, I was awake early and began take things out of my room and put them on the balcony. I was, I thought, cleansing my room of evil spirits.
For example, I still had my wife Rima’s suicide note from 2012 in my possession so that was one of the items that needed to go — it had hung over me for too long. I also put my English teaching uniform outside, as being another source of evil.
At some point Yuni woke up and asked what I was doing. She also told me that I needed to not put my things outside my neighbours room so I moved them back into my area.
At this point it is worth saying something about my other neighbour, a lady from Russia, who I had never talked to but who had made complaints about me recently. It turned out that she had also made complaints about Catherine.
She had now gone from being quite rude and abrupt to being mildly friendly, at least acknowledging me. For some reason she now also had a dog which seemed to me to be a little strange.
It was probably on this morning that I concluded that she was in fact a secret agent who was part of plot. But, at this point, I did not sense any danger so I assumed she was safe for the time being.
At some point during the morning I began working on cracking the code. I don’t know how I got given this part of my mission or why it was given to me.
I can’t even really remember what ‘cracking the code’ actually meant. All I know is it was my task to do and, from here, the story gets even more perverse.
I sat down outside my room with a note book working through the clues as they appeared, from where I have no idea, but every time I took a break or spoke to Yuni another clue appeared when I got back to my seat. Maybe it was the Russian lady who left the clues or perhaps it was Niko, the guy who lived a few doors along?
It’s impossible for to describe what I was actually doing because I didn’t keep my notebook from that day. All I know is that I was methodically working through the clues and I was quite unsure of what it all meant.
One thing I did work out was the safe zone, which was in the triangle shape of a yacht’s sail which extended from Ubud in the north, to the airport in the south to Kedungu in the west. With this knowledge, the unsafe place was Kuta, although I knew that already from my day on the run earlier in the week.
It was around 11am when Yuni made us breakfast because, I assumed, she knew I would needed some energy to keep me going. I thought, incorrectly, that Yuni knew exactly what was going on because, by now, I was certain she was also a secret agent working with me.
As we ate our eggs, I talked to Yuni about the task of cracking the code and showed her what I had figured out so far. I showed her a map of Bali that I had drawn and asked her to point to Ubud.
She must have wondered what the point of it all was as she had lived in Bali for 20 years. But, she said nothing, so I again assumed that we were both on the same page and that she had a role to play in all of this craziness.
I’ll now try to describe what was going through my mind at this time. My memory of what happened is good rather than great but I will try to give as much detail as possible.
Broadly speaking, I had found out that people that I knew were working on a plan that had been in existence for a long time, dating back to when my grandad worked for Mobil Oil. The plan was, in summary, to right the wrongs of the past and there are many facets to it.
On one level, the bad guys were to end up in the gas chambers of Poland. On another the world’s riches were to end up in Bali, in the bank I had been tasked with setting up and would be distributed to rid the world of poverty.
This all made perfect sense to me as, although Bali is a Hindu island in a Muslim country, it’s known as the island of the gods. It’s also located near the equator which, for some reason, I thought was significant.
Also, I had been teaching English at a Singaporean bank with an operation in Bali. In other words, I had been planted at the English teaching company to gather intelligence.
So, my company was, in fact, not my enemy but it was involved in the plot in some way. There were others that were involved too.
I somehow deduced that the hotel where Yuni worked in Kedungu was a facade and the reason it had not opened yet was not because it was not ready to open but because it was somehow involved in the plot. My starting assumption was that its owners were on the side of the bad guys, even though I had not yet figured out who the bad guys were.
The more I thought about it, I decided the owners of Yuni’s hotel were crooks who were involved in the plot and that the hotel was a cover for some sort of illegal activity.
But, I did not doubt Yuni at this point — she was merely a pawn in a messy game albeit one that was a secret agent. I felt that she was put there for a reason, other than to be the HR Manager.
The perverse thing here is that the hotel was inside the safe zone but I could not attach significance to that one way or the other. On what was the most bizarre day of my life, this just added to the confusion.
This brings me to the involvement of my family and my old boss Chris. The only connection between them is me and they have never met.
Yet, I was now convinced that Chris was, in fact, my brother, and had been working as a secret agent all his life from the time he moved to South Africa as a child. There is a lot more to how I concluded this was the case but that’s a story for another time.
Chris was a senior manager at my old company and I somehow concluded that his mission had been to rid the company of evil which basically meant siding with the good guys, the Jews in the company. In summary, Chris had spent his whole life working towards righting the wrongs of the past and my old company, which was founded in South Africa was the vehicle through which he was doing it.
But, I now realised that Dad and Chris had hatched a plan to somehow intercept a huge amount of the world’s riches and stash it on an island in Fiji where Dad’s yacht had been shipwrecked two years earlier. And I now believed that Chris wanted to steal my identity and move from London to New Zealand where his wife’s family lived.
I was livid and with all these thoughts swirling around my head, I had to get on with the task of cracking the code and working out which side would get the money. A plot that had been decades in the making had come down to this moment.
The plot had been planned after World War Two in such a way that the money would move around the world by ship to get to its final destination of Bali. But, in the year 2019, funds could flow at the push of a button.
I laughed at how ridiculous it all was but I had a decision to make and it came down to choosing between red and blue. Quite why I don’t know.
For me red represented good and blue was mainly bad. Red was Liverpool (my favourite football team) and Labour and now, as I saw it, blue was National which my family and friends all voted for.
I thought about what some other people that I liked would do as well as what I thought would be best for the world, such as China becoming a superpower and Trump trying to befriend North Korea. Everything was pointing towards red and my mind was made up.
Red would be the winner but this is only a thought that I had as I was not sure what I needed to do with this information. Also, I had another problem to contend with, and I have no idea how this came about.
Because I had been the one chosen as the arbiter and my exact location was known, I now felt a huge amount of danger around me and felt far from safe. Yuni had been so quiet all morning so I even doubted whether she was really on my side or not.
It had got into my head that we could be attacked at any moment, from any angle and so I told Yuni to stay inside while I kept watch outside. In doing so, I saw what appeared to be a helicopter hovering in the distance and assumed it had guns pointed directly at my room.
Now I had to work out the angles at which we would be safe and where we could be hit. I ran inside and held Yuni close to me and told her to not move until I said so.
At this point, I was certain that we could both be shot and I got up off the floor and positioned myself in front of her. If a shot was to be fired, and I assumed it could well happen, then I would take the bullet.
As I looked up, I could still see the helicopter in the distance and I moved us to an angle where we were safe and the pressure was off momentarily — we had survived. We couldn’t relax quite yet, but the danger had been averted for now.
I assume at this point that the helicopter must have disappeared or that somehow I worked out that I actually could just do nothing — that cracking the code was actually irrelevant — because I realised that if I did nothing, then there would be no winner and no loser. It was time to take a moment to figure out what to do next.
It was probably early afternoon by now and Yuni said she needed to go shopping for her family’s weekly food and suggested we go together. I said this was a bad option because we’d be a target at the supermarket and we wouldn’t be safe.
She must have been so conflicted as to what to do. She needed to feed her family on the one hand and not to mention make sure they were okay but, on the other, she was worried about me.
At some point soon after this, I decided my mission was complete, that I had decided that by doing nothing, The Great Heist was over. There would be no winner because I had given the code to neither side.
The blue team, which Dad, Chris and all my friends were on the side that had lost because I did not trust their motives and they had totally misjuded me. The red side, which my friends James and Jamie at my old company were on and who were both Jews, had not won either.
Maybe I was The Chosen One for a reason, that I didn’t want harm or riches to come to anyone? But, being in this situation as a secret agent, was something I did not like.
Perhaps this was the point of it all, that I was chosen for a reason, that I would not chose a side and I was in Bali where I could hand over responsibility to God? But why had I been put in this position?
By now, I felt that with no winner, both me and Yuni were in danger and I concluded that if one of us had to be sacrificed, it should be me. So I said to her it was time for her to go home — I wanted her to be with her son and mum and be safe.
As we walked down the street, I apologised for abandoning her but said I would do my best to make it to her birthday dinner on 3 June and that I loved her. As she walked into the distance she waved at me, and I waved back — it was a very sad moment as I did not know when or if I would see her again.
My family’s involvement in The Great Heist
It was the late afternoon of Sunday 26 May 2019 when, normally around this time, I would be teaching English. However, I was in no state to teach — my mind was miles away from my job.
As I left Yuni to make her way home, I went back to my apartment now feeling that the area was totally safe. And I began to think.
I thought about the enormity of what had just happened. I literally had a gun to my head albeit from a helicopter far off in the distance yet, somehow, I had averted danger because I was some sort of freedom fighter. Neither side in The Great Heist wanted me dead.
It was probably around this time I started to think about the people that I admired: Mandela, Gandhi, Branson and the Dalai Lama. All people that took no sides.
Nonetheless, I felt really vulnerable but was happy to be in this safe triangle in Bali. However, by now, I had a lot of anger directed at my family — my sister Rebecca, Dad and my uncle, David.
I figured that they had all played a part in The Great Heist, that they all had duped me in some way. My biggest resentment was reserved for David and I’ll now explain why.
David is the brother of my step grandma Brenda and so he’s the uncle of Brenda’s son Scott, who visited me, Mum and Dad in the Chatham Islands when I was in my infancy. I always liked David but I’ve had very little contact with Scott over the years.
Scott has no active role in this story but David does. He came to see me when I was in The Priory in London in late November 2017 and had the chance to get me out of there.
But, after listening to a black nurse, who I distrusted, but who he was most probably attracted to because he likes black ladies, he took the decision to leave me where I was. And I resented him for that — he and my mates Nick and Rob decided to leave the hospital to have a beer.
Of course I now know that they were going on the best information that they could get and my words, in a state of mania, mattered little at that time. They left and I never forgave David for it.
And, at this time Dad and David were together in France looking to buy a yacht and I now knew why — they wanted to profit from The Great Heist. “Fuck them” I thought.
At this point, around late afternoon, I was feeling ecstatic for breaking the code for what it was — an utter nonsense put together by some of the world’s smartest minds — but feeling unsure of what was to follow. What I knew for sure though was that my decision to not pick a side meant that the world had been saved and would be rid of corruption forever.
At some point Niko, my neighbour, came to see me to see how I was and we started to chat. He asked me a totally innocent question from which I interpreted that he too was a secret agent.
At this point it seemed to me that the whole building was full of secret agents so I began to talk to Niko about what had happened. I talked about how I could be compensated for what I had gone through and he must have wondered what on earth I was on about.
After Niko left, I walked to Gapet and, by this time, I was experiencing a feeling of elation. I’d cracked a code that turned out to be such a simple task that made the masterminds behind it look like idiots.
I sat down at the table closet to the Balinese temple, so that I would have God’s protection, and ordered a beer — I felt that I had earned it. And, as I gazed out across the Gapet lawn, I saw lots of kids dancing and playing.
I was a long-term customer of Gapet and had seen nothing like it — it was often just me and Yuni there. This was the hard evidence that I needed to confirm that my mission had been worth it.
This must have been the utopia that the world was waiting for, it had just been freed from poverty and corruption. The scenes of jubilation were amazing to see.
I spoke to the waiter and asked him to get a message to Yuni who lived around three kilometres away. I gave the basic location, close to a petrol station, and figured that the people that worked there would know where she lived.
At this point, my delusional thoughts were in overdrive. Firstly, would Gapet really send someone to find Yuni and, secondly, would they be able to find her?
It was such an unlikely scenario but one that I hoped would come to be true. And, as I sat waiting at Gapet, I began to think of the culprits in all of this mess.
I pointed a packet of cigarettes, Yuni’s favourites, towards Kerobokan jail. And I ordered another beer, one of three or four that I had that night.
I decided that the people that would be going to jail would be my sister Rebecca, but only long enough to ‘wake up’ to be a better daughter and mother, Dad, Chris and David. They all deserved to be in jail for what they had done to me.
In the case of Chris, after doing time in Kerobokan, he would be sent to Robben Island in South Africa, David would spend time in Belmarsh in England while Dad would serve all his time in Bali.
Soon after this Yuni arrived with my friend Jero. It wasn’t because of my request to the waiter to find Yuni, it was because she was seriously worried about me at this point and she had enlisted the support of Jero. And Yuni knew where to find me — at Gapet.
When they arrived, I outlined my plan to put my family in jail, in the infamous Kerobokan. They seemed to agree but what they were really needing to achieve was to get me to a safe place where I could sleep and rest.
I also began to write a series of notes that I asked Yuni to send to Rebecca. It must have been a truly bizarre experience for Rebecca to receive what she did.
One of the notes said “no more yachts”, while another said “and don’t interrupt my dinner again”, a reference to the previous night when I had first received the message that I was a secret agent. The reason that was important was because it was the six-month anniversary of mine and Yuni’s relationship.
And most bizarrely of all I wrote a demand that Chris, Rebecca, David and Scott meet in the Chatham Islands to sort the mess out, whatever that meant. And that they had only 45 minutes to come up with a solution.
It was around midnight in New Zealand at this point so Rebecca would not have received the messages until she woke in the morning, Monday 27 May. But, when she did, she would have been on high alert!
For some reason, I decided to take my food as a takeaway and Yuni and me were alone again as Jero went home to Ubud on her motorbike. What I really needed at this point was both Yuni and Jero to put me to sleep but that did not happen and, soon, things spiralled out of control.
The night from hell
Once we were back at my place, instead of calmly sitting down to eat dinner, I began to quiz Yuni about her father (who had died some years earlier) and suggested to her that, in fact, Kadek was her father. I still remember the look of shock on her face and, of course, she denied it.
I don’t have a good memory of what happened next but I do remember at one point Yuni giving me a look which said “sit down now” and I did. Yuni is a petite woman so this was a powerful moment — she held the power.
But I was still in a manic state and the moment did not last as I became obsessed about what was going to happen to me. I had gone from elated to extremely fearful and this fear soon turned to anger directed at Yuni.
I started yelling at her pleading with her to help me and, of course there was nothing she could do even if she knew what I meant by ‘help me’. Yuni simply froze and I still remember the look of terror on her face.
She sat there on the bed helpless and her eyes were like frozen ice. It was an image I will never forget and one I never want to see again — it pains me to have to write these words because she did not deserve the treatment she suffered from me that night.
But, because she couldn’t or wouldn’t help me I just got even more angry and this anger soon become violent as I hurled my dinner across the room in her direction and started kicking over the chairs outside.
At this point Yuni curled up in a ball on the bed, most likely sobbing and praying for it all to end. I sat down outside and as I pondered what to do, my thoughts became morbid — I decided that either Yuni or me would have to die.
I went back inside the room told her this and begged her to make some suggestions about how to resolve the situation and eventually she wrote down some ideas in my notebook. “Finally”, I thought, we were making some progress.
Yuni is such a calm person and even though I had just terrorised her, she was able to focus. She showed amazing resilience that night when really she should have probably just run away at the first available opportunity.
Instead, she eventually got me to sleep and started calling people. She called my friend Tim but he was in Australia and, as I now know, he urged her to ask someone from my family to come urgently.
I have not asked Yuni if she slept that night but I doubt she did. If there is a hero in this story it’s her — she was under immense pressure and she never wavered in her support for me.
The following morning I woke and the first image I saw was my friend Candice sitting outside my room. I got up and went outside.
This part of the story Candice can actually tell herself as we have talked about what happened. Again, it wasn’t pretty as, while I sat there, I felt like I was looking at my sister Rebecca.
In short, Candice has told me that I spoke for 45 minutes without letting her speak, which Yuni has also confirmed. Candice said I was rude and aggressive as well as criticising her for why she was struggling with her business.
I don’t remember it this way, for me it was a much shorter conversation. But, I do remember thinking that it was as if I was talking to Rebecca and that Candice would not listen to what I had to say.
Once I was finished with my tirade and god knows how I filled 45 minutes, I got up and let Yuni take over. I began sweeping the floor on the balcony and then went to a shop across the road and sat down to have a cigarette to calm down.
After that, I went back to my apartment as Candice was getting ready to leave. At this point I told her that the $250 debt she owed me from a week earlier was forgiven because she had come to my rescue that morning and I was grateful for that.
Soon after this Yuni left me to go to work. She had hardly been in the office for the past week and at some point, in a moment of madness, I had kicked her work mobile off the balcony and shattered it.
So for the rest of the day, Monday 27 May, I was on my own. I became lost in my thoughts, the most important of which was to work out who my new family would be.
The day I thought my life would change forever
By now, I had figured out that, because I was a secret agent, my life in the future would be radically different to what it had been in the past. For starters, Dad and my sister Rebecca would soon be in Kerobokan jail.
But, more than that, I came to realise that, as a secret agent, I was no longer in control of my life. Maybe, as my friend Kadek says, life was set out for me.
So, I began to think through the consequences of what had just happened. Clearly Mum was still my mum and Sam was still my brother — that much I could be sure of but the rest was a big question mark.
Kadek and Dad share the same birthday so I assumed at this point, with the new identity I was about to have, was that Kadek would now be my father. I also assumed that my friend Jamie, from my old company in London, would become a new brother, one based in Bali where we would be setting up a new bank.
I’m not sure where this left Sam but what I do know was that Candice would replace Rebecca as my sister. Candice is Canadian about the same age as Rebecca, so there were numerous ways for that part of the story to work.
My overriding emotion at this time was the feeling of loss of my Dad. For 43 years I had been his son and I did not want to lose him.
But, it was what it was and I had to deal with whatever trauma I would face. After all, I was a secret agent and there was no way of opting out of it.
With all of this now apparent, things started to make sense and I had an idea why I was put on my mission. And, about this time, I had another extreme thought.
As the day passed by, I pondered what life as a secret agent would be like. I thought of James Bond, a favourite of my brother Sam.
At some point, I got a message to ask me what I wanted for my next mission. When I received it, I was in my bathroom and, as best I can remember, it involved diving and I said “no” immediately because I did not feel fit enough for that type of challenge.
At this stage, I believed that my room was ‘on camera’ and my every move was being watched and my words listened to. And I began talking to whoever was listening expressing my thoughts as they came to me.
In the safety of my bathroom, I was put through my paces to get an idea of how fit I was. I did a lot of running on the spot and concluded, especially after my day on the run the previous week, that I was actually quite fit despite having become a smoker again.
What happened next was truly odd. I sat on the toilet wiping my bum and blood appeared on the toilet paper.
This in itself was not a surprise as I had an infection at the time but what was weird was how I methodically laid the pieces of paper out on the floor until there was no blood left. I felt that leaving evidence of this infection was somehow important.
Eventually, I figured out that there were different options for me: to disappear immediately (as in that afternoon) on a new mission or to take some time out before being assigned my next mission.
As I pondered these options in the bathroom, I began to sort out what I really needed to take with me and what would have to stay behind as evidence of someone living there for the next secret agent that would arrive.
I also scoped out the bathroom to be sure of worked and what didn’t. One of the lights didn’t work and I made a mental note of that for later.
I methodically worked through the room placing clothes on my bed that I might need to take if I had to leave quickly and generally securing the room. I also had to work out what clothes were plain enough to not identify me.
For example, many of my t-shirts held significance to a certain date and, at this point, I didn’t know whether they would be needed or would have to be left behind. I settled on a pair of jeans and a plain white shirt, signifying peace, as my next outfit.
About this time, I began to think of my lost years and what this new life as a secret agent would afford me. And, at one point, I thought about losing Yuni and, for some reason, I thought it would be okay, that it was part of the game I had suddenly found myself in.
Eventually I concluded that I needed sometime to think, and told whoever was listening that I needed a break for a few hours in order to make my decision as my mind was scrambled at this point.
So I left my room and walked the short distance to After Taste, the cafe that I had driven past with Yuni the previous week where I had hallucinated. On the way, I passed a small shop, owned by a muslim couple, and pondered its significance.
I had been going to the shop every day for three months and at one point I had checked out one of the rooms they rented out — I’d thought I might need to stay there if Mum came to stay with me. It felt totally safe, as did the muslim kindergarten next door.
There didn’t seem to be anyone around, the streets were quiet and so I felt calm. I sat down in the cafe, ordered some food, and began to think. Although I had no idea what another type of mission might be, I figured out that my life could be erased from any point in its history.
For example, I could have a new story written for me from age eight if that’s what I wanted, I could have my entire life wiped out, or I could accept it for what it was and start afresh from age 43 with a new identity.
None of this of course makes any sense as I write it now but these were the thoughts I was having that afternoon. For a fleeting moment I considered the option of starting from the beginning, back in the Chatham Islands but that came with one major drawback — it was a certainty that I would lose Yuni and, most likely, my family.
In the end, I somehow came up with a four-year mission based on the fact I had lost four years of my life since 2015. In other words, the clock would be rewound four years and those years would be erased.
That four-year period had been particularly painful for me with long periods of unemployment, no place to call home and considerable amounts of depression. It seemed a very fair ask to be compensated for the situation I now found myself in as a secret agent.
I also reasoned that my new mission could be in Bali and I would get to choose what it was. It could be setting up the new bank but it didn’t have to be — whatever the case I would get to set the terms of my next deployment.
Most importantly, I could remain together with Yuni, which was my overriding thought that afternoon. And, with that, I went back to my apartment, although it didn’t feel like mine anymore.
I communicated my decision to the people that were listening and prepared a small bag of clothes. The rest of my possessions would be left behind and, no doubt, disposed of by someone.
After doing another check of the room to make sure the gas and air conditioning was working, I received a message (again I don’t know how) that a car would come to collect me at 8pm. So, with it just being a matter of waiting, I went for a walk and when I got back, it was now dark outside.
Worryingly, there were a lot more cars in the street than usual, so I approached with caution. Was it some sort of trap? And who was I being trapped by?
I felt unsafe and, once more, felt angry for being put in this situation. But, I was in this game now, and had to just be calm and work through what I faced at this moment.
The road I lived on ran east-west and I figured anything to the north would be safe, that being where Ubud was located and where I felt God was watching over me. So I ruled out an attack on my from the north and felt the real danger would be from the south, the direction of Kuta — but there was good protection from houses on that side.
At this point I was expecting Yuni to arrive from the west but that could also be a trap, as she could be used as a pawn to get to me. So I hunched down behind a car close to the small shop I knew to be safe and waited.
Slowly the cars to the east cleared, so I felt that direction was now safe too. But, there were still cars parked on the street to the west and that worried me so I stayed in the shadows and inched closer to my building.
At one point, I lay down flat on the road beneath a car that I was now certain was empty and watched the road to the west. Still no sign of Yuni.
I can’t really recall how I satisfied myself that I was not under threat but, eventually, I did and I crept back to my room once I was certain the coast was clear. Obviously there was no danger at all but there was a lot at stake now so I wasn’t taking any chances.
‘Where was Yuni?’ I thought and so I decided to walk to Gapet, maybe she was there with Albert and it turned out she was. I was so relieved to see her — she was alive and well.
At this point, as we began to talk, I noticed that I had developed a new way of talking — very fast and in short sentences. It had all come about from when I was in my room when I was discussing my next mission with my ‘bosses’ and I needed to revert to normal speech as quickly as possible.
It had been a traumatic day but now I felt somewhat relaxed and began quizzing Yuni about her previous missions, including one that had taken her to a dive resort in Sulawesi some years earlier. As best I can remember, I was careful to talk in code as I was still not certain that everything was as I hoped it would be.
Yuni answered my questions as best she could, no doubt wondering why I was asking only now, six months into our relationship, about her previous relationship. And, of course, I thought it was obvious — I wanted to know what happened to relationships between secret agents when one person was assigned a new mission.
I was satisfied with her answers and after talking a while longer about what I had learned that day, we went back to my room and waited to be picked up. Soon, I saw a car pull up and told Yuni to wait while I checked it out.
And, as I walked down the stairs, I met someone who I least expected to see at that moment — Dad. I got the shock of my life.
Raging against Dad
It turned out that Yuni had sent an SOS to Rebecca, and Dad was the family member chosen to come to Bali urgently.
At the time Dad was in France and he had to leave for Bali on two hours notice. When he arrived, my friend Dewa picked him up from the airport and delivered Dad to my place and it was around 8pm when he arrived.
Dad was the last person I expected to see that day but his arrival made sense. After all, he was a secret agent and, now, with what had happened, he needed to be with me to explain everything to me.
I felt a huge sense of relief and was excited to introduce Dad to Yuni. We sat and chatted outside my room for a while and then Dad suggested that it was time for Yuni to go home.
Remember, at this point, Yuni had more or less been with me non-stop for a week and had done everything in her power to keep me safe. So Yuni went home and Dad and me walked to Gapet so that he could have something to eat.
We sat down at the table next to the Balinese temple where we would be safe and I decided there was no point waiting any longer. “Who do you work for?” I demanded to know.
As you can imagine, Dad didn’t have a clue what I was talking about but my questions continued. I asked him if he told the truth and he assured me that he was — that he did not know what I was talking about.
At this point, I expected Dad to explain how things worked in the world of secret agency and that we would enjoy a brief time together before I left him for my new life. And, when no such explanation followed, I didn’t know what to make of it all.
By this stage, because Yuni had been communicating with my family, Dad would have known that I was far from being well and so, maybe, he might not have been surprised when I said to him that I was terrified of losing him. And I proceeded to tell him the story of what had happened to me and how I was about to lose him forever.
After we finished dinner we walked back to my place, stopping for an ice cream, and I assumed that Dad was somehow an innocent victim in all of this. I also assumed that whoever was behind the whole situation would give him the room next mine — the one previously occupied by Catherine — for Dad to sleep in.
But, when we got back to my apartment block, there was no sign of anyone and the other room was locked. Dad was exhausted at this point and we agreed to go to sleep, sharing my large double bed.
The next thing I remember was Dad’s phone ringing at around 2pm. He got up, took the call, went to the bathroom and closed the door.
At this point I was still awake and I went to see what was going on and, as I did, I could hear the distinct voice of David. He said something about using a Dutch company, I assumed for their yacht purchase, and this sent me into meltdown.
I became convinced that Dad and David were involved in The Great Heist. Dad finished the call and despite his protests for me to go to sleep, I went outside and sat on the balcony.
This is the point where the story becomes really morbid. As I sat there, I could see in the distance to the south a helicopter and I now knew why I had been put through the ‘test run’ with Yuni a couple of days earlier.
Me and Dad were now in serious danger and it was up to me to see that we averted it.
At this point, I had no clear idea of how safe we were. For example, the room to the left was unoccupied but had its curtains closed so I could not be sure if it was empty or not.
Perhaps there was a gunman in the room, or maybe it was where Yuni was. I had no idea.
To the right was the room occupied by the Russian lady and I wasn’t sure if she could be trusted or not. The only thing I knew was that, a few days earlier, I had worked out all the angles so I knew where the safe spots were in case of gunfire.
As I sat in my seat, the helicopter off in the distance, a woman walked up the stairs. I desperately hoped it was Yuni, but it was not, and I assumed that women probably had nothing to do with what was going on.
At some point, with the helicopter still hovering, I began to fear for Dad’s safety. He was sleeping in the exact position where I knew he could be shot from the helicopter.
I told Dad to move to lie in the other direction of the bed so that his head was out of the way, which he did. Then, he moved back to his original position so I thought ‘what is he doing?’ and I became suspicious.
At this point all Dad was trying to do was get some sleep and countless times he asked me to come to bed. But, I knew the danger we were now in, and so I stayed outside.
I was on high alert as I patrolled the space outside my room. It’s really hard to write this part because I know what happened but it’s hard to put into meaningful words.
In essence, it felt like another test of whether I was up to the task of being a secret agent, not that I needed another one at that point. There were all sorts of emotions going through my mind at this point.
As I worked through the game I was now in, I figured that Dad’s true colours would become apparent. At some point, he would get up and put a stop to it all.
The game as I put it, somehow involved yachting terminology which I was reasonably familiar with. And I somehow believed we were anchored at the centre of the world.
I gave Dad a running commentary of how things were progressing outside and gave him numerous opportunities intervene and put a stop to it. But, instead, he didn’t move a muscle.
And all the while I was outside, taking all the risks and could have been shot at any minute. ‘Surely, he’s going to tell me what to do’ I thought but he never did.
At this point, I decided to go into my room to boil some hot water, to make a cup of coffee for Dad as I assumed that he would be taking over from me on watch, as if we were on a yacht. But, again he was unmoved.
Back outside the helicopter was now gone and Yuni had not arrived yet. ‘Was she going to be used as a hostage? I wondered.
Everything had become so messy but I still felt calm and in control of the situation. By this time I had been around the whole building and decided it was secure, other than the room next to mine from which I still thought I could be shot.
Because the curtains were closed, I had no idea if it was safe or not. I also thought it could be where Yuni was being kept safe.
At this point I was forced into a situation that I did not want to be in. Because he was not cooperating, I had to assume that Dad was willing to die rather that reveal the truth behind The Great Heist.
I had to decide what to do with him as I now thought of my room as a gas chamber — not that it was possible to be one — and not that I actually wanted Dad to die either. But, by now, I was beyond angry at the situation I had been put in.
I decided to lock the door of the room and turn the air conditioning off and, as I did this, Dad sat up and was on his mobile phone. I assumed he was deleting the evidence linking him to The Great Heist.
I yelled at him to stop or else there would be consequences. Still, at this stage, I felt the situation could be resolved but it did not happen.
I began telling Dad what a bad man he was, that he’d had two failed marriages and never given a cent to charity. He said that maybe we could do something together but I said it was too late for that.
As I now know, having spoken to Dad about it, he feared for his own safety as I talked about putting him in Kerobokan jail and mentioning something about having a gun. And with that he said he was leaving and after a short physical struggle on the bed, Dad walked out the door.
Dad’s version at this point is that he escaped. Mine is that I let him go as I knew he would not get far before the police picked him up and throw him in jail.
And so Dad left the building, I was on my own once more, and my first thought was ‘where was Yuni?’. I figured it was just a matter now of waiting — and I waited and waited but she never arrived.
The Chosen One
I was still angry with Dad and so I threw his luggage into the empty lot next door and also his watch into some bushes on the other side of the road. “Fuck him” I thought for abandoning me.
It was probably around 4 or 5am at this time and feeling that my surrounds were fully safe, I set up a table in view of the CCTV camera. And I wrote down on a piece of paper the punishments to be handed down to the culprits of The Great Heist.
I don’t recall exactly the sentences that would be given but Dad, David and Chris were all to do time in Kerobokan jail. Rebecca too would serve a week for aiding and abetting them.
At this point, I assumed the whole world could see what was going on through the tiny lens of a CCTV camera in Bali on the balcony outside my room.
And, with that, I came to realise the significance in all this. I had saved the world and there would be a celebration to follow, in the form of a football match between Liverpool and Bali United on 19 July — the date we were due celebrate Rebecca’s birthday in Bali.
This, of course, was a totally deluded thought but, by now, my mind was beyond deluded as I began to think about how it would all work. For starters, the only people that would be allowed to attend the game were Balinese people and other Indonesian fans of Liverpool.
The match would be broadcast on Indonesian television and radio all over the country. It would be also be shown live in Kerobokan jail.
I began to lay out chairs, facing the CCTV camera, and began to think about who would sit in them. First up, on the good side, was my mate Tom who was a Liverpool fan.
On the other side of the table would be Chris, the evil man, and he would be forced to explain to the world about his wrong doing. The next two seats, either side of the table and facing towards the CCTV camera, were reserved for James and Jamie, my friends that worked under Chris at my old company.
Jamie was red, a Manchester United supporter, while James was white — he was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur. So, I figured that I needed to swap them over as both were innocent in The Great Heist, although I am still not sure how I reached this conclusion.
The seat at the head of the table was reserved for God, as he would be the ultimate arbiter in the fates of The Great Heist culprits. And representing God would be Kadek.
Behind God on one side would be Mum and on the other, Yuni. I needed more chairs so I went upstairs and took them from outside my neighbours’ rooms.
With the basics now in place, I began to take things out of my room and place them on the table, on the the ground and on the chairs that I had laid out. I would love to get a recording of the CCTV video of this moment as it would be pure comedy.
In essence, I found a place for more or less every possession I had in my room, including all my books. For example, the Dalai Lama’s book went on Mum’s chair while Man’s Search for Meaning went on the chair assigned to Chris.
Branson’s book went on God’s seat as, by now, I reasoned that his connection to Mandela was significant. I also put my Under Armour t-shirt on God’s seat to afford him protection.
There were many more items of clothing and possessions laid out but I think you get the picture. I think this whole process took around an hour to complete and the scene was set.
The next thing I remember was taking the fridge out of my room and putting it on the balcony behind the ‘grandstand’ of chairs. After all, these VIP guests would need to drink something when they were watching the match.
With this the side of good was complete and I began to work on the side of bad. They would face the other direction and I symbolised this by hanging my suits, which represented the evil of corporates, on the balcony rail.
I didn’t need any chairs for the bad side — they could sit on the floor. Maybe they would get a cushion if they were lucky, even if I didn’t really know who ‘they’ were.
At this point, the details get a little hazy but I do remember setting up my laptop on top of the fridge and pointing it towards the empty lot next to my building, which I had decided would become known as Jungle Pool.
Jungle was the name of Dad’s previous yacht but how it linked to having a swimming pool next door, I have no idea. What I do remember was how the whole situation had become completely comical and I was lapping it up, enjoying my moment in the spot light.
The next part of the story, which is very close to the end, is still vivid in my mind but it’s hard to write. As best I can remember it, I gave a running commentary of the lead up to the football match and it somehow involved my nephew Hugo, who acted as the producer and as a roving reporter.
You see Hugo was totally innocent and it seemed to me that he was more capable than adults. I seem to recall talking to Hugo while he was reporting on proceedings from Kerobokan jail — it was total madness.
At some point, I took my water dispenser down onto the road outside my building and placed it in the centre of the street. As an irrelevant side detail, I also hung a broken coat hanger from it.
As best as I can remember it, I stood in the street commentating in the lead up to the football game with the whole world watching. Although the game was due to start, I felt that the world, which had fucked me over, could wait.
I was just wearing a pair or shorts at this time, not supporting any side in The Great Heist. My Liverpool shirt was on my friend Tom’s (a big Reds fans and my best expat mate in Bali) seat outside my room upstairs.
Through the process of breaking the code two days earlier, I had figured out it all came down to ABC and it was a formula that could be applied in any situation.
At this moment A was for Aceh, B was for Bali and I was not sure what C stood for. Perhaps it was the Chatham Islands where I lived when I was a young boy?
Aceh was significant as it is known as a place of extreme Islam in the far west of Indonesia but that didn’t bother me. I had no cause for concern for muslim people, after all Yuni was one of them.
Eventually, I finished my commentary and told the world that it was time for a break. I went back upstairs to my room and soon my landlord, Made, arrived, probably around 8am.
I don’t know why he came to the building but, no doubt, he was alerted to the fact there was a problem by another resident. But, as far as I was concerned, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Made was great, we talked and I did not expect anything to come of his visit. But, of course, something did come of it — I ended up at Sanglah Hospital — but my memory of what happened is still different to the reality.
The next thing I remember was a lot of people being outside on the street and being tied up. My head was resting on Dad’s blue bag which had been retrieved from the Jungle Pool and my red Liverpool shirt was also right there.
At this point, I felt like a martyr as I was surrounded by muslims and hindus as well as men who appeared to be Maoris from New Zealand. I distinctly remember them laughing, as if the whole thing was meant to be.
I was, after all, a freedom fighter and I was sacrificing myself for world peace. The laughter of all these groups of men represented to me that the whole episode had been a joke.
As I lay there, arms and legs tied and unable to move, I asked for some water and, later, a cigarette, both of which were forthcoming. But, as these things were happening, the men were laughing at me.
From this, I deduced that the whole thing was part of my mission, some kind of set up. There must have been around 30 men on the street at that moment as well as an ambulance.
Eventually, I was untied and began talking about how everyone had underestimated me. On the side of the ambulance were the red and black colours of Canterbury, which I had supported as a child and so I laughed at the people that thought I was a blue, National, supporter in politics.
We’re getting very close to the end now and I don’t know exactly what happened, other than to say I was, most likely, drugged. And, my memory of it was very different — that the whole situation was in reverse.
The way I remember it went like this. From being tied up I was released and being tied up was all part of the plot.
From there, I went on to say that the medical profession was also fraudulent because bipolar was a far too convenient term. I reasoned that we all have ups and downs and, basically, anyone at all could be called bipolar.
But, most extreme of all, it was impossible to prove that I was the son of my parents.
So, at this point, it was as if I did not even exist and I could now get on with the thing I wanted more than anything else — to create a life with Yuni. I was free forever.
Admission to the psychiatric ward of Sanglah Hospital
At this point it was around 9am on Tuesday 28 May and my next memory was being at Sanglah Hospital with Yuni. How I got there no one is quite sure but, as I mentioned in the last newsletter, I was probably drugged to sedate me.
By this time Dad would have been in contact with Yuni after he spent the early hours of the morning finding a hotel. And soon Yuni and my friend Jero came to my apartment and were told that I was at hospital.
They then came to Sanglah to find me. I distinctly remember being at the hospital with Yuni and seeing posters on the wall about anti-corruption.
I also remember being scared and security coming to restrain me and that was my last memory until I woke up the next morning, strapped to a bed.
It turned out that I had been drugged to put me to sleep and I was put in a room on my own. Well not quite, Yuni spent the whole day with me while I slept.
And, later, she went back to her place to check on her family and then came back to the hospital to be with me. Yuni spent that night sleeping on the floor on a yoga mat while I was strapped to the bed.
When I woke the next morning, I was so relived to see her and, after that, my experience in hospital is a blur. Dad has told me since that the doctors said that I wouldn’t be able to remember it, and that is more or less correct.
It’s a bit like my time in The Priory hospital in London in late 2017 where four weeks seemed to just disappear. But before I get onto talking about life in Sanglah Hospital, I want to say something about Yuni.
Yuni — the best woman I have ever met
I met her in November 2018 at a cafe in Sanur, where she struck me as pretty and quite funny and unlike the other girls I had met online, she seemed to be interested in actually communicating. Over the months that followed we forged a really good relationship where we met more or less every night for dinner and we spent our weekends together.
Yuni was my first real girlfriend since the death of my wife in 2012 and I was elated to have met her. She was so calm and, as she said to me early on, she was seeking companionship.
At the point of my psychosis we had been together for six months and even though Yuni is a single mum with responsibilities for her son and her mum, she kept doing everything she could to make sure that I was okay. I can’t praise Yuni enough for how she handled the whole situation — she was like an angel from heaven.
Yuni afforded me something I had not had for seven years — the feeling of love and belonging. Through all of the mania and psychotic thoughts, she was there, and still is.
My time in Sanglah and escaping
I was in Sanglah public hospital for ten days and it was a vastly different experience from that at The Priory. Whereas at The Priory we were allowed to roam free and mix with the staff, at Sanglah we were kept behind bars.
But, in some ways, I preferred Sanglah although I can’t explain why. I guess I just felt safe there, much more so than I did at The Priory where I was genuinely scared of some of the staff.
The other patients in Sanglah were Balinese although there was one lady from Austria there as well. And she had a mobile phone from which I was able to send emails, which gave me some connection to the outside world.
At any one time, there were around eight patients and everyone was friendly. There were two Balinese girls that were really nice to talk to and it was hard to work out what was really wrong with them.
The real character of the place was a large Balinese guy that had his own room and was always ordering food from outside which he shared with us. We called him Big Baby because he was gentle and kind.
Soon after my arrival in hospital, my brother Sam arrived in Bali to support Dad and Yuni. They worked out a system where Dad and Sam would visit me during the day and Yuni would come in the evenings after work.
One day Sam bought me a pair of blue flip flops but because of the association with the National Party, I refused to wear them and, instead, I kept taking and wearing Big Baby’s white pair. No doubt this frustrated him immensely but he never got angry with me.
After I had been in Sanglah for a few days, Yuni’s birthday was approaching and it angered me that I could not spend it with her in the way I had planned — a dinner for family and friends at a restaurant in Denpasar. The best I was able to do was convince one of the members of staff to buy Yuni a small cake, which she kindly did.
My recollection of my stay is not very good but I distinctly remember looking forward to Yuni coming to visit me each evening. What I am less sure about is how I felt about Dad but at some point my thoughts must have switched to becoming normal again and the idea of The Great Heist disappeared.
My task now, as it had been at The Priory, was to escape. I figured that it would be easy and it was just a matter of picking the right moment when everyone was asleep and the staff were talking amongst themselves.
The patients area was a large compound and there was a room that I could easily reach if I balanced two chests of drawers on top of each other. It was just a matter of manoeuvring the drawers out of one of the empty rooms and waiting for the right moment to make my move.
The night I picked was Saturday 1 June, the night of the Champions League final. I had pleaded with the staff to let me out to watch the game but they had refused and I was determined not to miss it.
And so, I climbed my way out of the compound onto the hospital rooftops and made my escape. I knew the area and walked to the Ibis Hotel where Dad and Sam were staying.
I checked in after getting the receptionist to call Sam who came down to pay for the room. I turned the TV on and found the football channel and it showed Liverpool as champions.
It was probably around 4am at this point and after ordering some food, I went out of my room to scope out the hotel. There was an Indonesian man leaving the hotel and he offered me his cigarettes, the same brand as Yuni smoked.
This was a positive sign I deduced, I was being protected. I walked to the front of the hotel and found two flags, a red and white Indonesia one and the other was green and white.
For some reason, I felt they were left for me to find so I took them to my room and locked them in the safe. What I should have done at that point was go to sleep but, instead, I went back outside.
As I lit a cigarette I noticed a lot of people and it was the hospital staff. They had found me and soon I was in an ambulance headed back to Sanglah.
How they found me is a mystery to me but they did and my mission to escape was over. I was now back in the Sanglah psych ward.
The period after Sanglah
I remained in Sanglah until 7 June when they agreed to release me into the care of Dad and Sam. As I said previously, the whole experience in Sanglah was a bit of a blur for me.
For example, Mum called the hospital one day but I have no recollection of speaking to her. Apparently too, I stood in front of the exit door for 45 minutes one day so that Sam could not leave.
It must have been a bewildering time for Dad and Sam, especially having to deal with Balinese staff who seemed to be changing every day. What they did do though was visit Dr Joy, my psychiatrist, who told them about what to expect — it would take 90 days for me to recover.
When I got out of hospital, I am not sure that I was yet fully out of the psychosis, as I seem to remember still be suspicious of some people on the street in Legian, where Dad had booked rooms for us to stay. But, I liked my new surrounds, and I was happy to be staying by the beach.
Dad stayed with me for another 12 days, Sam for a bit less, and what’s strange about that period is that I don’t remember it in the amount of detail as I do when I was in a fully psychotic state. One day just blended into the next as my mind began to calm down.
Dad’s main goal was to get me into a healthy routine of eating well and getting back to a normal sleeping pattern. And, of course, getting on a strict regime of taking my medication.
When Dad left Bali and headed back to France on 19 June to pursue his dream of buying a new yacht, I went to Ubud where my Balinese friends were and I stayed in the upstairs room of my friends Wayan and Wayan. I stayed there for a week before moving into a small house near Yani’s place.
It seemed like a good idea and the time and it’s a sign that I was still manic at this stage as I soon hated it whereas I really like it at Wayan’s place. Because I was still manic, I began to immediately do things that would compromise my happiness.
It wasn’t such a big deal but, for me, it always really nice to be around people whereas now, I was on my own, alone with just my thoughts and that’s not a healthy place for me to be.
Over this period of time, between coming out of hospital on 7 June and the end of the month, there’s no doubt I was still manic — a quick look back at my emails is proof of that. I was sending emails to so many people and started booking random trips.
I also formally brought an end to my employment with English First to an end and they, very kindly, gave me a good reference. I also returned all my teaching materials to the company, even though it had not asked for them — I always believe in preserving relationships.
The mania wore off in early July when my sister Rebecca and my nephew Hugo came to visit but, as happens after a period of mania I soon became depressed. It was my love for Yuni and seeing her a few times a week that kept me going.
Life as it is today
I am now back teaching English both in the classroom here in Bali and also online. My job gives me purpose and I feel alive and well again.
I’ve moved back to Kerobokan to be close to Yuni and I’m happy in the place that I’m staying in at the moment. A few weeks ago Yuni told me straight out that I was not taking good care of myself — and she was right.
Yuni and me saw Dr Joy last week and I asked her how I ended up in a state of psychosis. Her answer was simple: “you pushed yourself too hard Andy and were not taking good care of yourself”.
Since Yuni’s stern words I have joined a gym and have been eating more regularly. Ironically, with this more healthy regime I got horribly sick last week but I feel fine now.
So life’s good again and I am really enjoying my work. But, the one thing that matters most to me is Yuni — she’s been my rock for the last year and I love her dearly.
Written in Kerobokan, Bali on 20 November 2019.