Lost and Found
The last year of my life has truly been extraordinary. I have written my debut stand-up comedy hour called HERE COMES YOUR MAN which is all about the entirety of my love life in this year. It’s show all about every time I’ve kissed a girl, every romance I’ve had and every time I’ve had moments of passion…
It’s a very short show.
I am a hopeless romantic, with “hopeless” being the operative word, and my mental health has always affected me in this way, and really been a barrier between me getting into relationships. This is because when I’m messaging a person, I’m so anxious about every syllable I’ll write, trying to craft a perfect response and make them retain interest. When I do finally send the message, my stress levels are through the roof as I wait hours for a response, assuming I have alienated them forever! I shout at myself in the mirror and I panic at any slight vibration from my phone. However this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it’s too much and it forces people to away from me. And when I am not messaging anyone, (more likely scenario) I am continue to life live in a depressed haze, living isolated and alone, with not many friends in my mother’s house.
I have repeated this cycle of anxiety and depression for the entirety of my adult life. For me, Romance is a minefield and love is worry. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m romantic man and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love the idea of love, but never have seemed to get it right. My desperate anxiety has led to cringe-worthy displays of affection and an intense and personable relationship with finding "The One". (My Anxiety and depression affect in me in many other ways, but I’m sticking to the relevant bits for this story).
However, at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, I fell in love with a woman called Matilda. I didn’t expect to fall in love, but it was the first time I had experienced true love. It was a tempestuous romance and I fell hard into the love, and so did she. She was different to other girls, because she was just like me, weird, warm and intense. We got on famously.
After the fringe we decided to make it work. She lived in Edinburgh and I lived in north Yorkshire and we made a go of it. We didn’t see each other often but when we did, we’d make it into a romantic weekend away. Our first elope was not in Paris. Nor in Venice – but yes, you guessed it, in Scarborough, the home of romance (as long as you find dead seagulls romantic). She loved travelling and wanted to go somewhere she hadn’t been before. She was Finnish and had always wanted to go there (and wrote a poem about it as a teenager – the poem was far more flattering about Scarborough, than I would give it credit for). Despite my anxiety at an all-time high, I had a nice time, and I was surprised I hadn’t messed up.
A couple of months afterwards, it was her birthday. We only had been together for a couple of months and it’s hard to gauge what to get someone for that first birthday you don’t want to be TOO MUCH. However I am THE KING OF TOO MUCH. That’s why I will be sending you ALL 18 drafts of this story as well as headshots of me to EVERY employee of BBC OUCH.
However I decided to get her 3 gifts. The first was a box of vegan chocolates. If you’re vegan, you will know how romantic that is, because you know how expensive that is. Those who aren’t vegan are probably thinking – “DO YOU HATE HER?!”. She loved this gift.
The second gift I gave her… Now I don’t want to say I am the most romantic man in the world. Don’t want to say I’m a modern day Casanova, however I spent 5 pounds of a Funky pigeon card. FIVE POUNDS.
THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY FOR A CARD! I’m from Yorkshire – I could buy a house for that much! (THAT’s what I wrote on the inside of the card). To add insult to injury, the order actually arrived late. I was fuming.
The third gift I got her was my favourite one. I decided to make her a playlist. It is called “FOR MATILDA” and it features 24 songs for her 24th Birthday and it features very romantic songs that I listen to when I think of her. Which is really sweet isn’t it?! Well, apparently it was not.
She thought it was too much, I was being too intense once again. My anxious fears were becoming a reality. She thought we couldn’t compatible; I obviously liked her far more than she liked me. She broke up with me the day after her birthday.
I was so heartbroken.
I stared numbly at the playlist I had made for her on my phone. And it I was like “I can’t keep this. It is a testament to everything I have lost.”…But then again, I couldn’t delete it, because it’s quite a banging playlist??! It was really good! So I kept it but with one key difference and I think this is a master stroke. I changed the title of the playlist from “FOR MATILDA” to “FFS…. I SPEND £5 ON A FUNKY PIGEON CARD” which is genuinely available on Spotify - (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3KLbSP1SGoKRZFpVZLsOZU).
After the break-up, The stability of my life was gone and really had nothing. I lived at home and comedy wasn’t going great for me. It was a dark and lonely winter. I had lost the final Jenga piece which was keeping everything from falling down and everything in my life started dissipating. I had no prospects, and my mental health was at a record low. It wasn’t really even about MATILDA any more. My depression was more overwhelmed at the fact that I was 25 and my personal life was atrocious. I have never had a real romance, whereas other people were getting married and having kids (intentionally). I struggled doing comedy, where people where having star-lit careers. I was struggling to stay afloat financially where others were buying houses. I was a massive failure. I felt like I had nothing going for me, but my depression didn’t allow me to seek an alternate perspective.
At the hardest part of my time, I called Samaritans. I just needed to talk. I don’t think I was suicidal at that moment but I just felt so isolated, so numb and needed to be heard. I had no one to talk to. Lots of my guy friends are so emotionally unavailable and I didn’t know who to talk to.
It was very helpful and it was lovely, however at one point during the conversation, the phonecall was cut off. I was under the impression that Samaritans hung up on me (turned out I had just lost reception) When this happened my anxiety and depression were saying “Not even Samaritans want to talk to you. YOU ARE THAT WHINY!”. This actually made me a laugh a lot in the circumstances.
It was a long hard couple of months of the worst depression I’ve ever had. I tried to go on dates but they also ended disastrously. Writing this comedy show was the only thing which inspired me to get out of bed in the morning.
However something really turned me around and put a smile on my face. I got a phone call from an unknown number.
“Hello Mr. Hoss, We’re really sorry about our service”
I thought it was Samaritans at first, finally calling back. But it wasn’t them.
“Sorry about your order with us. We acknowledge our issue, and we do strive to do better”
“Sorry, who is this??”
“Oh, it’s Funky Pigeon. Your card arrived late a few months ago. We’re sorry, and we’ve issued you a full refund”.
I MANAGED TO GET MY FIVE POUNDS BACK!
It was a magnificent moment for me. It really made me laugh. I hadn’t felt that light in a long-time. For the first time I could see through the haze of my illness.
I didn’t want to feel like that forever, so I really wanted to feel better. As stupid as it sounds, that moment gave me the license to do better (as well as another factor). I threw caution to the wind and do all the things I’ve put off doing.
The best thing about Break-ups is that it give you the opportunity in your adult life to inspire you to do new things and grow as a person. That’s why I started to care about doing stuff. I started to find things about myself. I found new skills.
I started running as I heard it’s good for your mental health. As a big guy, I also wanted to lose a lot of weight. I tried exercise in the past and hated it. I didn’t enjoy it, but I stuck at it. I started to feel better, more full of energy and generally happy and healthier! I have always wanted to learn the keyboard, so I bought one and started learning. I also have always wanted to be a Radio DJ. So I applied to two Community radio stations and I now do “The Matt Hoss Show” on Radio Stockton and Darlo Radio weekly. I started gaining these new skills. They were impossible for me last year, but I have grown. I have found more about myself.
I also decided to go travelling alone. I had made tentative plans with Matilda to go to Dublin together. And I hadn’t been on holiday for years, because I had been broke and had no one to go with. But I had realised that life is too short to not experience life’s wonders.
So I went by myself and it was excellent. I saw the city and went to Guinness Factory which is essentially like Willy Wonka for adults. You can like the walls and be like “YUM! It tastes like Ash!”
So through the scorched earth of the relationship, I had finally got up. I was down but not out. I built my own stability. I was responsible for my own happiness and I have established a new ecosystem to survive in. I lost weight, bought a new wardrobe and I became happy. Happiest I have ever been. This positivity started improving other aspects of my life. I got more gigs, and I had pep in my step. It would be easy to finish the story here, but I had to put these newfound strengths to the test, as I had to climb my own Everest.
I saw Matilda again. I went to Edinburgh to do a gig and we decided to meet-up.
I wondered if it would be hard to see her again. Whether, I would, fall back in love with her. We had coffee; we cleared the air and caught-up. And that was it. I had gotten over it. I was fine. Better than fine actually. We start had that banter, but the whole felt healthier now, as all my anxiety was gone. I had lost a lover, but I had found a really amazing friend.
When I first started writing this, I had thought that I had lost Love, a relationship. Warmth and Happiness, but think honestly, that it’s hard to pin that on Matilda - It’s unfair. I think that I have always been lost and trying to find my own way with the candlelight of what love offers. But this year, I have found the most important thing. I have found myself. I have found that I can live my life alone and be happy with that fact. I have found that I have so much more to offer the world.
I have found that you can build your path, create your own platform and cultivate your own stability. The fact that I’m doing this Edinburgh fringe show is a testament for perseverance, and that I’m able to overcome my own demons. I may not be famous, may not be rich and I may not be in love, and honestly none of that really matters, because I am so proud that I have made it this far, and I’m alive to tell my story. I’ve found the best version of myself and I have a reason to exist. My anxiety and depression are still there, but they don’t control me anymore. I have found out what it means to be Matt Hoss, he is one to never give up on the idea of true love. Through the adversity, I will still be there for the one I love, because, Here Comes Your Man.