“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now …”
Leanne’s writing style is up there with the best, descriptive, articulate and richly metaphorical; the recall of her experience so detailed – as only the memory of someone who has been through extreme trauma can be.
Leanne takes you through the phases of bulimia, from the socio-psychological foundations of this condition – for example, the bullying at school – to the ‘fasting’, ‘binging’, ‘purging’ and ‘recovery’ that then plays out – each stage intricately narrated for the readers understanding and at the respective pace.
You find yourself so in-tune with Leanne’s story and so fond of her personality that you wonder how in our society this self-denunciation could be allowed to happen, or to go unseen – particularly brought home as Leanne details hiding her bulimia from all those around her
My favourite line is the book is “But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now” and the most touching part for me is when her friends stand fast to support her recovery.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is invented. The Girl with the Eating Disorder is real life. Take your pick … I know which book added more to my life …
Chris Thrall is the author of Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland– a bestselling true story
Chris Thrall advises people on how to quit drugs
By AMY JONES The Sun
WHEN handsome young Marine Chris Thrall left the Forces to move to Hong Kong, he expected to make his fortune.
But within months he was homeless, alone and fighting an enemy more dangerous than anything he faced serving his country — crystal meth.
Chris almost lost his sanity and his life after becoming addicted to crystal meth, also known as ice. Now he supports others how to quit drugs and has written a bestselling book, Eating Smoke, about his experience.
Click HERE to read about how Chris’s life was before he quit drugs and showed others how to quit drugs.
He says: “I loved my time in the Marines and the challenges that came with each day. But looking back, it was nothing compared to what I faced at the height of my addiction to crystal meth.”
Sadly, Chris is one of a growing number of the drug’s victims.
Meth is twice as addictive as heroin and more damaging to health than crack cocaine.
After ravaging communities across Asia, Australia and the US, it is now on Britain’s streets, sold for as little as £10 a gram — which is enough to keep a user on a permanent high for nine days.
Chris, from Plymouth, never dabbled in drugs during his time in the Royal Marine Commandos. He joined up at 18 and served seven years, including stints in Northern Ireland, before quitting to launch a marketing firm in Asia.
He said: “I loved being a Marine. I was doing something for my country and earning better money than friends who’d gone to university. But I got involved in an exciting business venture and went to Hong Kong to make my millions.”
Unfortunately, the venture failed and his company went bust.
Chris, now 42, says: “It was hard. I had racked up a lot of debt and suddenly I was jobless.”
He found a job at a Hong Kong firm marketing computer chips after answering an ad.
A few months after joining, Chris walked in on a colleague in the toilets smoking meth, which can also be snorted or injected.
He recalls: “He offered me some and I thought, ‘Why not? How harmful can it be if he’s smoking it in the middle of the day?’ I took two puffs.
“Back at my computer, I suddenly felt this rush. It was like nothing I’d ever felt. I knew I was addicted straight away. The next day I wanted more.”
At first crystal meth — scientific name methamphetamine — made Chris feel fantastic and there was no shortage of dealers.
He says: “I could pick it up on the way home from work. It was as easy as buying milk.”
But things soon got out of control.
Chris said: “I was getting nowhere in the office so I got a job as a nightclub doorman in Wan Chai — the red light district. I thought if I worked at night, I wouldn’t be able to take drugs.
“But that soon went out the window. My addiction was life consuming. I was on it constantly. It overloaded my brain and I began to lose the plot. You’re incredibly tired so you hallucinate. On top of that, psychosis starts to develop. I found myself wondering how to quit drugs.”
Chris Thrall is the author of Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland– a bestselling true story. He now gives his advice on how to quit drugs.
Chris will shortly be writing a post on how to quit drugs
A former drug user publishes his memoir of working for the 14K Hong Kong triads
In the 1990s, former Royal Marine Chris Thrall found himself being sucked into a downward spiral in Hong Kong, when his work as a Wanchai bouncer drew him into the world of triads and crystal meth addiction. Now 42, off drugs and pursuing a new life, Thrall reveals how he saw the end — and found a future — in his autobiography “Eating Smoke.”
CNNGo: Considering your addiction, how were you able to remember things so clearly?
Chris Thrall: Using crystal meth and the psychosis I experienced didn’t affect my memory. I think when you’re young and finding yourself in the world –- especially in such a memorable setting as Hong Kong -– you remember an awful lot, particularly the pertinent things like relationships you had with people and the crazy things you get up to.
“Eating Smoke” is a collection of those memories. I also experienced a great deal of highs, lows and trauma. Incidents you don’t forget in a hurry. There’s probably also a lot I don’t remember and probably just as well.
“Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.
He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the ‘Foreign Triad’ – a secretive expat clique in cahoots with the Chinese gangs.
Alone and confused in the neon glare of Hong Kong’s seedy backstreets, Chris was forced to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, hooked on the world’s most dangerous drug.
Engaging, honest and full of Chris’s irrepressible humour, this remarkable memoir combines gripping storytelling with brooding menace as the Triads begin to cast their shadow over him. The result is a truly psychotic urban nightmare …”
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“Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong. Sacked from a bizarre series of jobs, he found himself homeless, hooked on crystal meth and working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest crime family, as a doorman in the Wanchai red-light district. Dealing with violence, psychosis and the ‘Foreign Triad’ – a secretive expat clique that unbeknown to the world works hand-in-hand with the Chinese syndicates – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, with addiction to the world’s most dangerous drug…”
– The Man in the Mirror –
“Do I know you…?”
“You’ve never known him at all…”
Sitting on the filthy concrete, I convulsed occasionally and whimpered like a sick dog. I hadn’t slept for days, the crystal meth pulsing through my veins denying all refuge from the madness enveloping me.
Now that the anger had passed, I found myself suspended in a ghostly calm, trying to focus my mind and piece together a life as fragmented as the mirror I’d smashed. I needed to make sense of what happened and put a stop to the Voice.
I leant forward, slowly, to examine the claw marks in my scalp and a haunted face I hardly recognised.
“Is this me…?”
The only thing still familiar was the eyes – although now they were bloodshot and yellow with pupils raging deep and menacing. I wondered if these black abysses would dilate further, triumphing over the turquoise rings around them, heralding the madness had claimed my soul.
I was in my flat, the Killing House, with its strange blood splats on the walls, not knowing whose blood it was or how it got there.
The Voice had named it that after the Special Air Service’s anti-terrorist-training house at Hereford Camp back in England. I’d seen it in the film Who Dares Wins and on a visit to the base during my own military career.
In my mind, people surely suffered a terrible death up here, the top-floor apartment of an decaying tenement in a rundown part of Wan Chai District.
As a mosquito whined in the glow of an underrated bulb, the sound of cats wailing, dogs barking and the hustle of the street scene below hardly made it up to the solitude of my smashed up hovel.
It may well have been a dive, but I called it home, a humble abode by day but an enigmatic one that came alive at night, a place I loved a great deal more than the two-bedroomed new-build I owned in Plymouth. It was a fleapit with character…my very own piece of Hong Kong…That’s exactly what it was.
“Where’s it all gone…?”
“I don’t know…I don’t know where…”
Memories of better days floated up out of the insanity like bubbles of clarity rising to burst atop a glass of mad soda…
…dining on top of the World Trade Centre with Dan, as teenage marines on our first proper holiday. Windows on the World they called that place, its lift shaking as it went up a hundred floors of a building already swaying in the downtown Manhattan breeze, then the ritziness of gold, marble, glass, and satin tablecloths, lobster, with strawberries and more of New York’s awesome skyline to follow.
I’d chuckled to myself as the elderly toilet attendant ran the gold-plated taps and, with a respectful smile, handed me soap and a towel – only three days earlier we’d been lying armed to the teeth and covered in shit in a ditch in the Belfast countryside.
After our meal, the evening just got better. A limousine picked us up with the girls from Texas and we drank a load more champagne.
“Yeah…a great night…”
I’d left the Forces to run my own business in Hong Kong – or Heung Gong, to use the colony’s rightful title: the Fragrant Harbour.
But that was all bullshit now. I had to think about my family. Despite all the difficulties over the years, they were always there for me, my friends, too – the real ones, not the superficial ones struggling to understand themselves in this ego-fuelled city. There was no way I was going home, though, a failure with a bankrupt dream. How could I do that?
None of them would recognize me anyway. They certainly wouldn’t like the dump I lived in, the amount of drugs I took, or that triads followed me home, again, the other morning. I knew they were tailing me – hardly surprising after the bizarre chain of events unfolding that night…
An inch from rock bottom, I’d taken a job as doorman in Club Nemo. As with many nightclubs in Asia, although owned by a local businessman, the dominant crime syndicate organized the security, bar, prostitutes and drug deals. In Wan Chai, this was the Fourteen-K – said to be the most ruthless brotherhood in existence.
It was ‘Paul’ Eng, a cross-eyed psychopath, who’d asked me to come and work for them. He was the resident Dai Lo, or ‘Big Brother’, a middle-ranking triad who managed Nemo’s and the mobsters who ran it.
I was leaving the club the night they set me up to be murdered. I hadn’t been scared…okay…a little, but I wasn’t going to show these guys that. If they had put themselves in my shoes they’d have realised I was tougher than I looked and wouldn’t have played their sick game in the first place.
Laughed at them I did – frickin’ gangsters with their expat cronies and weird secret hand signs. I was still laughing when glancing over my shoulder I noticed a black Mercedes stalking me slowly from a distance through the morning-after litter adorning the Jaffe Road.
I was heading back to the sanctuary of my flat, off my face on the meth I’d smoked the previous evening and looking forward to smoking some more, wondering if this would be another twenty-four hours clocked up without any sleep.
As the terror began to take hold, I decided to give them the slip by scooting up a back alley – a dark stinking shortcuts that crawled with fat rats thriving on scraps thrown out of the backdoors of restaurants. They weren’t ordinary rodents, either. These dirt-matted mutants only scurried out the way so they could watch with contempt as you passed through their patch, jeering as stale water dripped down from antiquated air conditioners.
I ducked into the doorway of one of the grey buildings and shot up the backstairs, heart pounding the living daylights out of my ribcage, my breathing frenetic.
After several futile attempts at smashing through the aging exit door, I found myself out on the roof, desperate for a place to hide and fumbling in the leather pouch around my waist for the Mini Maglite and chain.
Illumination I didn’t need – only the blunt force the torch delivered when connecting with someone’s head. I’d never had cause to use it in the club – at least not as a weapon. It had come in handy at the end of the night, though, for scouring the disco’s dirt-caked floor searching for any drugs or valuables the customers may have dropped – a trick I learnt from Di Su, the ‘Violent Hand’ assassin.
They may well be coming with their meat cleavers – after all, that’s a triad’s prerogative – but it wouldn’t faze me. Not much does when you’re a mental ex-marine flying high on the world’s most potent drug. I would do my utmost to f### ‘em up, and badly if necessary. This wasn’t a place to mess around. There are no Queensberry Rules in Wan Chai.
Still, a hiding place might prove worthwhile.
Scanning around I spied a recess set down into the roof like some kind of utility shaft. I grabbed the rusting ladder but only managed to get a foot on a rung before slipping, falling headlong into the darkness and – “Umph!” –landing on some god-awful mess below.
“F###! What the f### is this?”
Something broke my fall, but it was far from pleasant. I sensed hair and cold, hardened flesh and a stench – “Urrrh!” – that would have been unbearable in anything less than a crisis.
It wasn’t just rancid, dead and decomposing…it was human, my mind flashing back to a corpse I’d stumbled upon on a riverbank in Cairo.
The next thing I knew the Maglight was on, and because of this being Hong Kong, where situations can always get worse, I believed what I saw.
I don’t know if it was a mother and her baby, or a woman and a baby. Nor what she’d done or why. What I did know was she’d been hacked to pieces as a result.
Her face – what was left of it – still contorted with fear, as if she’d realised death was imminent, grimaced and, after the chopper sliced from crown to ear, her features had stayed that way.
I wondered if her tormentor had lopped her arms and legs off before or after that fatal blow, as they now lay awkwardly against her torso.
The little boy was on his back, draped across her midriff, with eyes gently closed and mouth slightly ajar, as if in peaceful sleep.
His tiny belly wasn’t so composed. Through a single slash, a rainbow of entrails spilled onto the woman’s emaciated chest, time and bodily fluid welding them together.
I tried to back into a corner but could barely move my own limbs. Bodies or no bodies, I would lie low here until the danger passed. Although the meth had stolen it all – friends, health, career, possessions – I still respected myself and could sit in the darkness next to two corpses and say, “F### ’em! F### ’em all…!”
The Chinese have an expression: Life is meat. It explains how the country can lose a hundred people in a coal mining accident, hide it from the world and carry on the next day, business as usual. Well, I had my own saying as I listened to my heartbeat in overdrive: Meat is life.
Besides, waiting shit out in adverse conditions is what the Forces train you for and the Royal Marines are the best at it. Lying up all night in an ambush position in the Norwegian Arctic has that effect on you. I could wait. I could wait as long as necessary…
I awoke later that day on the Hawaiian-patterned mattress covering my rickety bamboo bunk – the one I’d built to make use of the room space I didn’t have. Cold in the tropical heat, ravenous and shivering with exhaustion, I gathered my thoughts and contemplated my next move.
It slowly dawned it was dark already and I should have been back at work by now. I reached over, flicked the light switch and checked the Casio G-Shock.
It had gone 10pm. I was over two hours late. Along with pawning my treasured Swiss watch, it was another reason to feel like crap.
I threw off the rough blanket lying across my midriff and eased my legs over the edge of the bed, hopping the five-foot drop to land unsteady on my feet.
In amongst the other junk littering my gone-to-pot attempt at tatami flooring was a crumpled page from an old newspaper. As I shoved a Marlboro between my lips and set it alight, an aerial photograph on the yellowing sheet caught my eye.
It was some kind of brick construction set into the roof of one of the colony’s tower blocks. Filling the recess, as well as my attention, was the picture’s focus. It looked as though someone had tried to create a grotesque three-dimensional Picasso using real people…although in reality, the woman and baby had been hacked to death in signature triad revenge.
An eerie déjà vu spread slowly through every cell in my body, like a banshee’s wail building to a crescendo that both chilled and electrified my being.
Frantically I scanned for the date on the newspaper…
…May 15th 1995…was three days before I arrived in Hong Kong…
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