Raised in Essex UK, Neil had a high-pressure Financial career before the (very) long hours and high-stress lifestyle was coupled with a flu-like illness and a genetic immune system weakness which led him to begin suffering from M.E.
Whilst he originally saw M.E. as his downfall, he now realises it was the start of a new life.
Brought up in Essex, like many others I failed to get on in the comprehensive education system. With the encouragement of a local college tutor, I made up for lost time in day and evening courses planned around part time work. I then joined Marconi electronics as a management trainee where people encouraged me to go and get a University education. Without the thoughtfulness and guidance of those involved in my education and early career I would not have progressed as I did. I graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a BA Hons in Economics and Accounting winning the top student prize at the end of the second year which helped my job prospects no end.
From university I joined Arthur Andersen & Co qualifying as a Chartered Accountant before moving into the commercial world where I worked in a number
of sectors before becoming the Group Finance Director for a six billion pound multinational company which formed part of the FTSE 100. Again there are many people who helped my career along the way, either providing sage advice or taking a chance on someone who seemed young to be doing the high level jobs.
I loved my time in high level business, it had an ideal mix of technical and mental challenge and it gave me the chance to meet and work with some fantastic people around the world. The downside was the (very) long hours and high stress lifestyle which coupled with a flu-like illness and immune system weakness led to my world falling apart when I was diagnosed with M.E.
The first few years were extremely hard. It took me a long time to acknowledge the illness, accept it and then to adapt my life. I thought that M.E. was my downfall but now it is easier to think of it as just a different life to make the most of and hopefully one where I can help other people as much as some helped me.
Being diagnosed with M.E., (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis sometimes known as CFIDS or CFS), in 2003 was devastating; from believing that I was indestructible, I found that I could hardly get my head off the pillow and that walking fifty yards was a serious logistical challenge.
The pain and frustration suffered during the early stages of this cruel illness which seems to affect those who are driven by nature and used to success is humbling and makes you view life through new eyes and really appreciate your family and true friends who stick by you through thick and thin.
Over the course of many years, using pacing techniques and various medications to help manage symptoms, l have recovered sufficiently to can enjoy a relatively normal life although I still need to plan events around energy usage and take a Spanish siesta being an hour or so of sleep every afternoon to recharge the batteries.
I started to write after trying to get some good friends to put their disastrous year down on paper, where their passive investment in a lap dancing club went horribly
wrong. Over a glass or two of wine, it seemed to backfire and somehow I was going to write the book…. I looked at online courses and then read a quote from Stephen King saying they were pointless ‘just get your ideas down on paper’. So here we are; I write books for fun, but as ever, expending energy on writing comes with consequences I am lucky to have an understanding wife!
For those who would like to understand more about M.E. / CFS the two charities below help to educate the general public and medical profession about the illness while providing tremendous support to sufferers and newly diagnosed patients.