Craig Davidson is a Canadian novelist. He got all bulked up on steroids because, well, the character for the novel he was writing took steroids, he explains in The Guardian. "My character goes down dark roads. For the sake of the book, I thought I'd travel those roads with him. He begins to work out obsessively. I began to work out obsessively... He takes steroids. I took steroids." Method writing at work! It turns out that gearing up, however, is not so simple. It made his life an utter, living hell. By the fourth day: "I appeared to have breasts. Pendulous, malformed breasts." Other bad things happened. To his testicles. To his... prostate.

I had a misconception that being 'on steroids' involved the ingestion or injection of a single substance, but that was quickly dispelled. Many steroids on their own are either singular of purpose or not terribly effective. This is where 'stacking' comes in: you can put on mass (75mg of testosterone), promote muscle hardness (50mg of Winstrol) and keep water retention to a minimum (50mg of Equipoise).

Then the real fun began!

Then, one sleepless night (the steroids also triggered insomnia) my testicles shrunk. Testicular atrophy is the most well-known side-effect of steroid abuse. It's an inherent irony: here you are trying to turn yourself into an über-man while part of the most obvious manifestation of your manhood dwindles before your eyes... Basically, you pump so much testosterone into your system that you rob your gonads of purpose, they lie dormant for the duration of your steroid cycle. And while I knew this would happen, the physical sensation was beyond horrible. I felt this rude clenching inside my scrotum, like a pair of tiny hands had grasped the spermatic cords and tightened into fists. It happened that fast - like a door slammed shut. 'No more testosterone!' my gonads cried. 'Closed for business!' I sat up, gasping, clutching my testicles to make sure they were still there.

He also got "cranial swelling," meaning a caveman-like size of his brow. His hair—all his hair—fell out. He peed constanttly. And then... the prostate:

The prostate is an organ I associate with old men... Not, in any way, an organ I should be aware of. And yet I was, because the benign little organ had swollen to the point where it felt like a fist-sized balloon pressed against my testicles. This is a fairly common side-effect; some professional bodybuilders get prostatitis to such an extent they require a catheter.

We can all learn from this! Some of us want to suffer for art. Or maybe we want an excuse to suffer, period—which Davidson admits as much: "I persisted in the belief that all suffering on my part was long overdue." Anyway, he's off the 'roids now. Totally.

From Mr. Average... to Superman [Guardian]