Right, first things first.
I'm a 24 year old male living in Bedford in the UK. Currently, I work in a call center on the weekend graveyard shifts, decent wage and it gives me a fair amount of free time during the week. I live with my fiance and we have 3 cats. I'm the sole provider as she is disabled and unable to work. That should be enough for a quick bioshot of my current life : b
Now for the backstory. It has holes, you'll understand when you read through it all.
I've lived most of my life fascinated with computers and more specifically programming, I knew what I wanted to be when I was a kid and originally that was writing games for the unbelievably awesome Spectrum ZX, and I did just that and this continued when we got an actual PC, designing really simplistic games in Basic. I lived in South Africa, so opportunities weren't exactly the cream of the crop throughout my schooling there. We had a computer course which dealt with PASCAL and I lived for that single course in my school week. I A+'d every time. In 1998 my family immigrated to the UK, I had just turned 16. Personally, I was devastated by the move, I had friends and dreams and they all seemed to have fluttered away, despite th UK being a land of opportunity for me really.
I had to attend Year 11 in a seedy school in Dartford, Dartford West Boys School it was called. And in all honesty, it was an awful school, really jaded me against learning. I made some friends there and we created a band with me playing bass guitar. It filled my days because I wasn't very interested in learning anymore (I was a teenager, came naturally I think). Unfortunately, I started on alcohol and weed at this time, it was something I did with my friends while we tried to make music.
After school ended, I went to the local college to start a BTEC in Computer Studies. After a year I had dropped out. I still played in the band, and was smoking more weed every day. I went through several jobs until I ended up working in a Sushi bar called Yo!Sushi. It was a great job, and between the band, my friends, weed, alcohol and this job I felt my life was pretty much as sweet as could be.
The fact that I had completely forgotten about my dream probably should've alerted me to the problem that was developing alongside my other problems with education and general life motivation. I started to forget things. At first it was silly things, like telephone numbers, people I'd met weeks before. The usual, the kind of things you expect to forget really. It grew worse over time, forgetting my friends faces, names, home telephone numbers, what I'd eaten that day, where I was going, what I was doing 5 minutes ago. It took me a long time to realise what was happening to me. I had stopped caring about my life, my addiction to weed was pretty much all that mattered, if I had a joint I could get through anything.
I met a woman, 35 she was. We went out, I ended up living with her at some point. She bought a house, I moved there. I was still smoking weed, but I kept it a secret from her. I didn't love her, I was convinced I did at the time though, so I let myself fall deeper and deeper into the trap I was setting for myself. The band had broken up around 6 months earlier at this point. I realise now that part of it not working was that I couldn't keep up anymore, I wasn't able to remember songs, notation, lots of things.
A conversation I remember with her was talking about what we wanted to do with our lives, and remembering my dreams for once, I said I wanted to write computer games or programs. She thought it was fascinating, but nothing came of it. It's one of the few memories I have of any conversations with her, ever.
I'm not sure exactly how or why I realised that my life was pretty fucked up. But I woke up one morning, I was at my parents house, and decided to give up drugs and to some extent alcohol (It wasn't really an alcohol issue anymore, though I don't drink very much at all since then). I like to think it was because I couldn't remember something important and it was very distressing causing me to have some kind of epiphany, but I don't actually know.
I broke up with that woman, and met my current fiance all around the same time. I was 21, I hadn't been what could be called completely sober or "not-high" in nearly 4 years. I had very large gaps in my memory, some of them including my childhood. Most importantly the gaps also covered several large sections of learning.
4 years on now, I've got to the point where I can safely say that I can remember most things I learn pretty well, I can't say it's been a constant struggle, it's been a mostly private form of training for myself. Remembering my fiances birthday, my familys birthdays, telephone numbers, that sort of thing.
I feel I'm ready to pick up my dream again, but I'm bit confused as to where to start really and sometimes worry about whether it's worth me getting into it again. My fiance encouraged me to get started on something at last to help me get back into learning in 2002. So I started on a course at a private learning center for a MCSE/CCNA course. It cost a fair amount, but it was on a CDL (Career developement loan). Unfortunately I was still dealing with my memory problems and failed the majority of my prepaid exams. I can still do the exams now but it'll cost around Â£90 per exam.
The advice I'm looking for is what options are open to me, what paths? Books I can buy, courses I can go on, people I can speak to, and what I'd need to do to even get anywhere near the field I want to get into.