MENTAL ILLNESS STORY

My name is Alexey Kruglov. I was born in 1990 in a small town of Yaroslavl, 150 miles away from Moscow. During my mother’s pregnancy she got into a minor car accident and that may be the reason my brain doesn’t function as well as it should.

I was raised in a strict household and did my best to be a good boy which wouldn’t save me from violent behavior from my mother and indifference from my father. I used to get the best grades at school and later at the university where I studied to become a teacher of English.

During my childhood I remember to have both psychological breakdowns out of nowhere and terrible headaches that would go away only if I made myself throw up. My parents thought it was because I have poor hygiene and punished me for this. Learning something was very hard for me, especially learning how to play the piano but I basically devoted my life to get higher grades.

When I was 18 I met the mother of my daughter and tried to be a good husband and father for the next 5 years suffering from constant headaches and depression. After 5 years my wife left me with my daughter, Agatha, who is now being raised by my parents. They have realised their mistakes and treat her as a little princess who she really is. Or maybe they just always wanted a girl?.

Nevertheless a year after the divorce I quit my job as a mortician (my 13th or 14th job in 8 years) to fulfill my old dream – building strange gear. During this year I have produced and sold over a hundred wild pedals with the help of the kindest people on Earth – the gearfreaks.

Throughout the years I have visited a lot of doctors in Yaroslavl searching for help mostly for my anxiety and depression as by that time I got used to the headaches and just thought that feeling like crap all the time and not being able to remember things I experience visually is normal.

I had no luck with heavy tranquilizers and modern antidepressants so with the help of my friends I went to Moscow to see some top Russian psychologists and neurologist and in October 2016 I was diagnosed with bad vascular brain and neck conditions. Doppler ultrasound tests have shown that the bloodstream to my brain is slowed down to a half of a normal one, several in-brain connections are damaged and my intracranial pressure is way too high. My body tried to adopt which has caused tachycardia and breathing problems – but my brain was still suffocated. Other symptoms included problems with hypothalamus functions, bad memory, photophobia, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

I went to Moscow for a two week course of intensive treatment and everything I could think about was getting better and getting back to building pedals. The treatment seemed to have helped and a new pedal was finally released along with new orders, more PCB stuff etc.

Two months after I tried to hang myself in my workshop. It was my third attempt to end everything that was happening to me but luckily I was to heavy for the rope and fell on the floor crying and screaming for the next countless hours. When I stopped crying I decided to go back to the only working distraction – building pedals.

Summer ment hard work and a lot of new amazing ezhi&aka pedal users.

Unfortunately it seemed to drain too much from me and I faced a doctor again.

Simply put, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Apparently my brain damage affected my psychological state and this had a name. After that I was put into a mental institution.

Funny thing is though bipolar disorder has two polar conditions in itself Russian doctors only treat you from mania (tied to bed and being injected high doses of meds) or from depression. No one addressed my anxiety issues and no one gave me any normotimics.

At first lovely psyciatrists from Yaroslavl State Hospital promised a two week stay, then a month stay, and then they just did’t know (a year maybe), so I left to fulfill numerous orders.

For more than two years now I’ve been visiting the single psychiatrist in Yaroslavl who seems to take my problems seriously and wants to help.

Unfortunately there is no recipe of treating biapolar disorder so these two years simply turned me in a guinea pig for myself, swallowing countless pills and tripping between super active nervous state and a dark dark depression.

In summer 2019 my doctor said I’ve reached a remission state so for the very first time in my life I more or less feel like I should have wihout the illness and braindamage.

That meant, it was a perfect the time to do my best and provide you with the most insane yet controllable pedals and finally release the new series pedals.

Unfortunately the remission latested for only two weeks and I went back to being a guinea pig trying to balance my state.

Though it sometimes suffered from me not being able to cope with my illness, work has always been my best medicine and you – my friends in gear – my best doctors.

If not for you I would have killed myself three years ago. Thank you for saving me numerous times.

Working with only one doctor has some negative sides too. Yes, decisions are made pretty quickly, yes, he seems to remember the whole course of your treatment but a doctor is a human being after all and not a all-knowing robot dedicated to treating you only. My psychiatrist finally was frustrated but the lack of decent improvements in my condition and the longer it went, the less he seemed to care.

2020 was a nighmarish year for most people, I wasn’t an exception. I somehow held on till August and fell into the deepest and the most painful depression of my life then. I stopped eating and sleeping, lost more than 30 pounds in a month, faced neglect from my currect doctor and was 100% sure nothing would help me and my last chance was electroshock therapy.

This therapy is very costly even in Russia, not to mention long and scary, very scary with a pretty large chance of complications including memory loss. But I really wanted this hell to stop.

I’ve found two medical institutions ready to provide elecroshock therapy in Moscow and Saint Peterburg. First variant was closer and cheaper so I went to Serbsky Clinic in Moscow to try and persuade them to treat me from my illness.

Being probably the best psychiatric doctors in Russia they didn’t even try to listen to me, almost immediately diagnosing me with heavy depression and benzodiazepine addiction from which they agreed to treat me, their way of course. I didn’t want to spend months in a mental institution again with no guarantee of anything and denied their kind offer only to be immediately threatened to be involuntary hospitalized. The only choice they gave me was hospitalization to their pretty nice Moscow clinic or our nighmarish soviet style institution in Yaroslavl. I somehow managed to escape promising everything they wanted from me and returned to Yaroslavl.

As I had nowhere to run, I decided to take my chances with a new private psychiatrist who seemed to care and prescribed some of the heaviest medications I have ever experienced.

My depression and desperation were too hard to bare and the very next day I mixed a lot of new heavy pills with as much alcohol I could drink and collapsed.

Some time after this I woke up to my surprise and since I’ve survived again I decided to apply every bit of energy and hope I had left to try and overcome my issues.

New tests showed I did have some brain damage in my right frontal lobe so I was prescribed some more vascular medication to help provide my brain with oxygen. New, carefully chosen antidepressants, normotimics and some additional pills were prescribed too and I started my new journey to remission.

After two months all the new pills started working and I literally jumped out of my misery becoming a lot more hopeful, strong and devoted to live a happy life than ever.

After some time my bipolar cycle continued dropping me into depression again. More new meds to come to try and fix it.

Here are my explanations and they will inevitably sound like excuses and I am sorry for that. I putting everything here and in my about and warning pages for you to know who you are dealing with.

In 2017 I took a lot of preorders for Moomins, Tape Ts and then Terverbs, then early autumn happened and I had a suicidal eposide, was finally (I was 27 at the time) diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder and admitted to a mental institution here in Yaroslavl. Their treatment was fine, I guess, but they moved very slowly with it and basically wanted me to spend 6-12 months in the mental hospital before being put in front of a comission and being released and put on disability retirement.

I believed it was too slow and I had a lot of pedals to build, so I signed the papers stating I was not a danger to myself and others and left. I got my new meds from a private psychiatrist, they started working and I spent last months of 2017 fulfilling numerous orders quickly and rather easily. Another massive number of orders came in spring and were succesfully finished by July.

I was full of energy, making plans, announcing new large series of pedals and then… Then autumn came and my cycle moved back to depression. Current meds were not working, though I was taking them religiously, gave up alcohol forever and even sugar and carbs for couple of month at a time, numerous times – but I still got worse. And I didn’t notice the transition point.

One day in winter I woke up to a room full of unfinished designs, schematics and messy breadboards and realised I haven’t built or even really prepared to build anything from the new preorders. Mild deposit policy also didn’t help since I not only had very limited funds to pay for the development, parts. etc, I had no income – and I was so scared of the amount of money I earned in summer for all those orders, I just gave it all to my parents for them to pay off their mortgage.

2019 was not great but I had some dealers’ orders which helped me to refund all the autumn 2018 deposits. In 2020 I slowly returned with a new design – Polarized Flutter and the reception was great, even the global shitshow and shipping issues couldn’t stop me from getting back into business.

But then August came and along came the very worst depression drop in my whole life. Old meds thought updated and being taken in aboslute maximum dosages were not capable to keep me from falling. I lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks, could barely walk, left my previous psychiatrist, nearly put myself through some shady clinic offering 30 procedures of electroconvulsive therapy to finally treat me, swallowed 50 xanax pills with vodka, somehow survived a fire and finally found a new doctor, new meds and in a couple of month I felt not only better – I felt amazing going from depression straight into the next hypomanic episode.

I guess you can already see the pattern – depression, new meds, hypomania, new work, new orders, depression, rinse and repeat.

So yes, when I took those 200 orders in January and February this year, I was 100% convinced I’m healed now, full of energy, can sleep 4 hours a day and be super effective until hypomania inevitably turned into slow dive into depression with no energy, work slowing down, sleeping for 12 hours and still exhausted, looking for new meds and trying to be at least somehow effective in work and life. Since early August I’m on twice the maximum dose of two last antidepressants, double maximum dose of Lamotrigine and tons and tons of caffeine to be as awake and capable as I can.

It’s not the first time. I working and will finish all the orders. I am really ashamed for my false waiting time promises, my excuses and my weakness. And I am really sorry to keep you all waiting. And I am also very tired of these cycles, feeling too good for two months only to be useless and slow for the rest of the year, new meds, rinse and repeat. I am trying to break the cycle. In the meantime I am slowly working on your pedals. This is who I am. I am sorry to disappoint you and keep you waiting. But you should know.

I will be continuing working on these pedals and take preorders for something like 5 pedals at a time for already released pedals like MDT21, DTT and Brom…fuzzes to help fund finishing and shipping your early preorders. I will also work on small dealers’ orders containing released pedals and sell one-off and b stocks. I’m hoping to finish and ship every last early preorder pedal by the end of the year, including New Terberbs and Brom…Fades finilized versions of which will be shown soon.

Since I have nearly all early preorder pedals prepared (populated pcb, drilled and finished enclosure etc) the plan now is to assemble and finish two-three pedals a day providing maximum quality and attention to detail.

I just need more time, hope you understand.

If you have any issues which make your life miserable, please search help and try not to lose hope. This might be a long journey, but every life is precious and is worth it. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk or share your pain and you don’t know who to talk too. I know how it might feel and I’m here for you if you need me.

Feel free to contact me alexey@ezhiandaka.com or DM me on instagram @ezhiandaka

Your friend,

Alexey