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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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How to Kill Yourself

8 min read

This is a story about an explicit step-by-step set of precise instructions specifying exactly how to commit suicide...

Suicide salad

I get a phenomenal amount of readers every day, reading what I've written on the subject of suicide. Mostly, they come looking for information on suicide methods. I know this for two reasons: firstly, my inbox is stuffed full of people asking more questions about how to kill themselves. Secondly, it's possible to see what kinds of things people are searching for on the internet: these are standard tools, which are used by advertisers, all the time, to decide how best to target their online marketing.

So, if I was a manufacturer of steak knives, for example, I might do some research to see how many times people search for "what is the best kind of knife to cut meat with?". While I was doing that research, I might also - if I was an unethical company - search for something like "what is the best kind of knife to cut human flesh with?". If there are more people searching for the latter than the former, I might decide to spend my advertising dollars selling my steak knives to people who want to use them for a purpose which they were not originally designed or intended for.

It was always my intention to drive a portion of suicidal people on the internet, towards my website, and my reasons were always - I think - ethical and reasonably well thought through. I know with certainty, that there are a large number of people who will end their lives without reaching out to any of the widely publicised and well known counselling services, which are available in person, on the phone, or online. I know with certainty that the reason why some don't contact those services, is because they're not stupid: turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and some suicidal people don't go to services which are explicit and overt in their intention, which is to stop you from committing suicide.

I've brought you here, and I've disappointed many of you, because I have never once given any explicit instructions on how to kill yourself.

But.

Here it is.

Here is one way to kill yourself:

1. Buy, borrow or steal a steak knife
2. Cut yourself so that you bleed

Not explicit enough for you? Okay, I'll try again:

1. Obtain a sharp knife with a serrated blade
2. Make as many sharp slashing aggressive fast cuts to the area of your neck, which is in-between the front and the side
3. Repeat step 2 until you either see blood gushing out at high pressure, or you lose consciousness; whichever happens first

I'm guessing you're probably more frustrated than ever now. Yes, I know that what people mainly search for is the most painless, quickest, easiest, and "best" way to kill yourself. I know what people are looking for. I really really know what people are looking for.

The knife method fails, because it's not at all painless, although it is quick and easy, and also really obvious. In fact, it's so obvious, that I don't know why anybody would go to the trouble of buying rope and tying it to a tree or something, when the knife method is so much quicker and easier.

If you want painless, which I know you do, the most common method - which has been popular for years - other than an overdose, is to poison yourself with carbon monoxide from an internal combustion engine, meaning most probably a car. The method is so simple that I can write it in just one line: pipe the exhaust fumes into the interior of your car.

Okay? Are you happy now?

No.

If you were happy, you wouldn't have been searching "how do I kill myself?" would you? The question is rhetorical. I KNOW YOU ARE SUICIDAL; KINDA THE OPPOSITE OF HAPPY.

So, the next question, and a very important one, is one which I'm asking myself as much as I'm asking you now, as you're reading this: what now?

I plan to commit suicide, when the time is right, so I would be a hypocrite - and a dishonest cynical horrible man - if I was trying to tell you to live your life differently from how I live my life; if I didn't practice what I preach.

Let me answer the question with a short story.

A little over five years ago, I decided to write my own obituary. I was a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff. My life was totally and utterly wrecked beyond belief. My brain and body were trashed. The obituary writing turned into a writing habit, which eventually became this website, which eventually became the stability I needed in my life. This website brought me readers, and those readers helped me, even though I didn't want to be helped. The writing helped me, even though I didn't know it would help me.

I expect that, when I commit suicide, I will be a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff... so don't go thinking that this story has a happy ending. IT DOES NOT.

But.

This is my damn story now. I'm in control. I'm the one who writes the narrative, not the people who would gladly see me buried, and talk shit about me literally over my dead body.

So, ask yourself this: what are people going to say about you, after you commit suicide? Are they going to call you crazy? Are they gonna call you a drunk and/or a druggie? Are they going to say that you were bad with money, or a bum; a loser? Are you going to let those despicable scumbags write the ending to your story, or are you going to write it yourself?

Obviously, I'd like it if nobody felt like suicide was their only option, but unfortunately, so many people do feel like that... so we have to address that.

Of course, we all have different reasons for wanting to kill ourselves, but we all want the same thing: the pain and suffering to stop. Tell the damn story. Tell people why you're suicidal. You don't have to do it like me, so publicly. You don't have to do it to an expensive therapist. Get a diary. Get a notebook. Get it the hell down on paper, at least, so it's not a bloody mystery to the people left behind.

I know, often, we are so desperate for the pain and suffering to stop that we don't care what anybody thinks of us anymore; we don't care about any of that... we. just. want. it. to. stop.

Sure, yes. I get it.

But, so many people write to me, and they all tell me a little about their story; their own personal reasons for wanting to end their lives. I mean, they don't have to. Sure, a few don't say much. Sure, lots of people read and never write to me. I don't know everything but nobody does. With the incomplete information, which is still a heck of a lot more than almost anybody you know, I'm able to say that almost everyone has something to say; wants somebody to know something.

Anyway, my inbox (and DMs on Twitter and Facebook etc) are open, but apologies if I don't write back quickly, or maybe even at all, because I have to say, every single one of your personal stories is devastatingly heartbreaking, but I'm glad to be kinda there still, as much as I can be... receiving, reading, even though I'm struggling to stay on top of replying.

You wanna kill yourself? Fine. But write to me first. I want to kill myself too.

* * *

A brief summary of what I've written already on the subject:

First, I listed out every suicide method I could think of.

Then, I wrote an essay all about the reasons I could imagine which would drive a person to kill themselves.

Most people, as I said, are interested in the 'easiest' and most painless suicide method, which I kinda wrote about, talking about my own plans to commit suicide.

 

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World Mental Health Day

5 min read

This is a story about wanting to die...

Muddy feet

I've wanted to commit suicide for years and I've made several attempts, all of which have ended up with me in hospital, either in intensive care, and or high dependency, for weeks... months and months if you add up all that time. You might say that you think that I don't want to die, because I haven't succeeded [yet] and you would be correct: I want to want to live; I want to not want to commit suicide. But I did want to die and I did want to commit suicide. When I came out of a coma in intensive care in hospital, a doctor asked me if I was pleased that they saved my life. Honestly, I was not pleased at all.

More often than not, depression - as a mental illness - has no rational explanation. Grief and other circumstantial depression, although devastating, can be explained with relative ease; can be well understood. Stranger, it seems, is depression where the cause is not so immediately obvious.

Examining my own depression and wish to commit suicide, we can see a number of obvious circumstantial problems:

  • Estranged from family
  • No social support network
  • Very small number of close friends, none of whom live nearby
  • Enormous debts
  • Single
  • Can't remember the last time I had a hug
  • Boring, unrewarding and unchallenging profession [at times]
  • Physical illness, making me unable to work [at times]
  • No [realistic] prospect of escaping my predicament
  • No hobby/passion
  • Isolated, hermit-like existence
  • Troubled past; guilt, shame and regret; some bitterness

So, if we take all of that in aggregate, it seems like no wonder that I would be suicidally depressed, discounting even the irrational and almost-impossible to explain depression, which inflicts so many people whose lives do not have these problems (although they might have their own set of problems).

Let's revisit my circumstances, today:

  • Money in the bank; savings
  • No debt
  • Plans to see my sister and niece
  • Two friends who live nearby, although one is locked down due to COVID-19, so we can't meet
  • Rewarding and challenging work
  • Well-paid work; feel respected and valued
  • Physical health is OK, just a little unfit
  • Have managed to escape enormous debts, and become debt-free, against the odds
  • Have a hobby/passion: mountain biking
  • Leave the house to go mountain biking

Okay, so there are still some areas which need improvement but it's an incredible turnaround from my situation, which I've had to endure for years. I have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. Nobody should have been able to escape from the homelessness, near-bankruptcy, crushing debts and the total destitution which I faced alone. It's like I had my death sentence commuted; it's like I received a royal pardon.

The picture at the top is of my muddy feet. Nobody goes out in the mud and the rain, in the cold autumn/winter of the UK, unless they are in a good place in terms of mental health. I'm not saying that I'm 'cured' or even that I'm 'happy' but I'm making some real tangible progress. I have hope for the first time in years and years.

My mental health is incredibly fragile. My 'recovery' (hate that word) is incredibly fragile. I have no idea whether my mood is going to crash, worse than ever, and I'll be back to being suicidal. Every time I attempt suicide, there's a very good chance I'm going to succeed. You might think that I'm just being melodramatic and/or attention seeking, and that I have no intention of committing suicide, and never did, which is why I didn't succeed. If you like, I will share my medical notes from the emergency department and intensive care/high dependency: I didn't succeed because I was incredibly lucky; for example, the medical team gave me about a 30% chance of survival, last attempt. The time before, I had even less chance of survival. There's no denying the truth: when I have attempted suicide, it's not a cry for help, nor has it been 'botched' by me... it's been pure blind chance that I've been discovered before I died. I've never phoned emergency services or phoned for help in any way whatsoever; quite the opposite.

So, on World Mental Health Day, I'm really sorry for all the people in the world who are suffering. I feel your pain. I share your pain. It makes me very sad that mental health problems are so prevalent in the world. I wish we would do something to help improve the circumstances of people's lives, because that can make a huge difference. Instead of giving trillions of dollars/pounds in bailouts to banks, we should be giving each and every family a life-changing amount of money, so that they can afford to live without debt, in secure housing, and not have to work shitty soul-destroying jobs; we need the time to connect with our community and maintain a social support network; to make [and keep] friends.

Look after yourselves today, and every day. Email me if you're feeling suicidal.

 

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Profligacy

7 min read

This is a story about out-of-control spending...

Wallet

This is my wallet. It doesn't contain any cash. In fact, it doesn't contain very much at all. It's very thin, although not as thin as my favourite wallet, which unfortunately wore out. I like having a thin wallet.

My wallet contains a 'debit' card for my personal account (known as a checking account in North America, I think), a 'debit' card for my business account, and two credit cards. Also, I keep my drivers license as photo ID, and some stamps, in case I need to mail anything. So, that's 4 bank/credit cards and a card-sized driving license: 5 cards in total. That's all I need.

Sure, I need a little cash from time to time. Frustratingly, I had used the small amount of cash that I carry to pay for something, when I needed to pay the guy who cleans the windows in our street, so I had to live with dirty windows for a little while longer than I would have liked to.

Cash tends to stay in my pocket for so long, that often it ceases to be in common circulation: the UK is replacing all of its 'paper' banknotes (they were actually more like a kind of fabric, but that's just a geeky fact for you) with 'plastic' ones. The UK is probably the world's number one place to launder money, so of course we need to have wipe-clean waterproof money.

Anybody who's used a plastic banknote to insufflate a powdered substance into their nose - not me, obviously - will tell you that the new banknotes will damage the delicate membrane of your nose and cause it to bleed, quite often. However, at least you can wipe the blood off. Paying for stuff with bloodstained banknotes is rather embarrassing (but not the reason why I don't carry much cash - I just don't need/use the stuff, for any purpose).

If you've followed my blog, or you know me as a close friend, then you'll know that I've suffered from depression which has been quite relentless and uninterrupted; interrupted only by suicide attempts, I should probably add. My will to live has been long absent.

I was starting to give up and abandon all hope of surviving for more than a few more months. I was certain that if Christmas didn't kill me, like it almost did last year, then I'll certainly die in April or May next year. Basically, I could see no future for myself; no point in suffering any longer.

Then, I had a great idea: I'll buy a really fancy gaming computer, so I can play driving simulators, flight simulators, turn-based strategy games on a big monitor, and retro console games... generally get into gaming in a really big way.

But.

It was not a good idea.

Part of the reason for my depression, is because I'm home alone, in front of a screen all day. Part of the reason for my depression, is because of my sedentary lifestyle. Part of the reason for my depression, is that I lack real-world social interaction with people.

In short: the gaming PC was a bad idea.

But.

Then I had a really great idea, which was to buy a mountain bike.

I mean, I already have a mountain bike, so why would I buy another one? The mountain bike I have is the best that money can buy (to me at least) so why would I buy another one, if I couldn't buy a better one?

Good question.

Mountain biking is hard work. I used to be young, skinny and fit, but now I am old, fat(ter) and unfit. I am by no means obese and I am by no means so unfit that I can't do exercise, but my health and fitness have been grossly neglected during my interminable depression, as well as during lockdown, which made things even worse. I did try to finish the lockdown fitter, thinner and generally healthier than when I started, but, it was very hard. The best I managed to do, was to stop the rot, a little bit.

Pedalling a mountain bike uphill is hard work. You have to move the weight of the bike, the equipment, your clothes and your body, uphill. My super nice mountain bike weighs 24 pounds (11kg), my equipment could be zero I guess, if I was going for minimum weight, my clothes, including shoes, could be as little as 4 pounds (2kg)... but the heaviest thing is me. I weigh at least 22 pounds (10kg) more than I did when I used to ride my mountain bike regularly. So, basically, if I was to ride up a hill, it would be like me riding up that hill with a whole extra mountain bike on my back. Plus, I'm unfit too.

So what's the solution? Lose weight, right? Catch 22.

The best way to lose weight is to exercise, but if your favourite form of exercise - mountain biking in this case - has gone from something which is difficult but enjoyable; rewarding... into something which is so exhausting that it will destroy you to just go up one single hill, then the barrier to entry is too high.

What did I do? I bought a mountain bike which assists with my pedalling, to make it feel like I'm 22 pounds lighter. In fact, the mountain bike I bought can also assist with the pedalling so much, that it's like I'm young and fit too! Of course, I still have to pedal, and that still requires energy, so I'm getting the exercise I need to lose weight and to get fit again.

What I also did was buy a bunch of other stuff: waterproofs so I can go out in the rain, super-padded underwear to protect my ass (because it got soft since I didn't ride a bike for a long time) and a whole bunch of other really expensive stuff. Could I have done without that stuff? Sure. I guess I could carry a heavy mountain bike for miles and miles because I got a puncture. Sure. I guess I could get soaking wet, because it's autumn now and will soon be winter. Sure. I guess I could get run over by a car on the way to/from where I'm riding, in the dark autumn/winter bad weather. For sure, I could have avoided getting that stuff and said "I'm not going out on my bike today, because it's raining/dark/I've got a puncture or whatever".

You bet I'm worried that my spending is out of control. I spent a whole month's income.

Every. Single. Penny.

Like, no money for rent, no money for food, no money for bills, no money for transport... no money for anything except my bike, and the stuff to go with it. I spent every single penny of last month's 'wages'.

So, am I stupid? Am I rubbish with money? Am I a lost cause.

Well, I wanted to commit suicide for a very long time, but now I'm just excited about riding my bike; now I've got a reason for living again. I'm not sure how long that's going to last, but money really can buy happiness, it seems; or at least money can get rid of depression, temporarily. Maybe, like a drug, the depression will only go away for a really short time and I'll have a terrible hangover/comedown. I expect that's true, but let's not be too hasty. Last time I did something like this, I got fit, healthy, happy, more social, more attractive athletic body, identity, self-esteem, and I had a lot of fun. Let's wait a while before we start calling me stupid for doing this.

 

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Cone of Shame

5 min read

This is a story about being mute...

Kitten

I suppose my beautiful baby girl is not mute, per se, because she's actually a very vocal cat; she makes a much bigger variety of cat noises than I've ever heard - everything from growling deeply, like a big wild cat, to sweetly mewing like a tiny kitten.

I often play a game when I'm making myself a sandwich at lunchtime, where I will say to her "meow if you would like some ham", to which she always replies with a meow, indicating that, yes, she would very much like a little ham.

My bengal - heartbreakingly still missing after 3+ months - didn't really have manners, shall we say. If she wanted something she would grab it, and if I didn't let go, she would have a tug-of-war competition with me. Of course, that kind of behaviour is intrinsic to the bengal breed, and part of the appeal: they are incredibly intelligent and determined animals, who will always do what they want; get what they want.

My ragdoll - pictured - had to wear the cone of shame for a couple of weeks. It's a common misconception that bengals are smart and ragdolls aren't. In fact, my ragdoll will play fetch, open doors and copy other stuff she sees me doing, or just figure things out for herself because she's smart. She is, however, a lot less prone to getting bored and becoming destructive. My house is in need of a number of bengal-related repairs, and that's even after cat-proofing my entire home.

I used to have to wash my duvet and bed linen at least 3 times a week, because my bengal would get into my bedroom and urinate on my bed. If she couldn't get in my bedroom, she'd urinate on anything of mine she could find: clothes, bags, blankets, tea towels, bath mats... whatever. She had no fewer than *FIVE* litter trays to choose from, and I used the special pheromone spray to try to help calm her down, but she basically was on a one-cat mission to urinate on everything I own.

I would not get another bengal, although of course I am desperate to be re-united with my poor lost baby.

My ragdoll is the perfect cat: she's very entertaining, just like a bengal, because she's smart and wants to play fetch and other games; she can be trained to do stuff. But, the main thing is, she doesn't urinate on any of my stuff. Well, actually, there was one time, which is the point of this essay.

Every time I go in the bathroom, my cats have always wanted to be in there with me, playing. I got into the habit of shutting the door with my bengal, otherwise she would shred all the toilet rolls, pull all the towels and bath mats onto the floor and urinate on everything. So, I kept the door shut. However, the cats love being in there with me, for some reason.

With my ragdoll, whenever I'm in the bathroom, she wants to be in the bath for some reason. I suppose it's like a hidey-hole or something for her. We even play a game where she thinks I can't see her, as she's poking her head over the edge of the bath. When she notices I'm looking at her, she ducks her head down, but her ears are still poking up. If I peer over the edge, she ducks even lower.

My ragdoll's love of the bath is immense, it would seem. So much so, that when I picked her up, because - instinctively - I didn't want to leave her in the bathroom, given the habit I'd gotten into with my bengal - when I carried her through to the bedroom and put her down on the bed, she urinated on it... first time and last time she's ever done that.

I guess it must be hard, not being able to communicate effectively. I try my best to figure out what's going on in my cats' head, but - as all cat owners will tell you - the mind of a cat is quite impenetrable. However, I let my ragdoll play in the bath whenever she wants now. In fact, I pretty much let her do whatever she wants, because she's such a gorgeous affectionate loving creature, who just wants to eat, sleep and snuggle, with the occasional mad moment where she wants to play rough, or just run around like a lunatic.

So, I'm sure you didn't come here for cat breed advice, or indeed an essay on the subject of my hit-and-miss experiences of cats who like to urinate on everything - bengals - versus the "perfect" domestic cat - my gorgeous ragdoll girl.

No matter how much I might moan and complain about how miserable and pointless life is, cats are the best.

 

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False Economy

3 min read

This is a story about value for money...

Torn jeans

I watched a documentary about the manufacture of jeans, and I was surprised to learn that most of the jeans which we buy in our high-street shops come from a handful of factories, in Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Indeed, almost 80% of the jeans we buy come from nearly identical factories. The premium brand jeans are made in exactly the same factories, using exactly the same method, and by exactly the same machines and people. The only difference between £300 jeans and £30 jeans, is the label, and the style.

Of course, you might say, style is everything. For sure, I don't want my jeans to be too heavily faded, too baggy, too skinny... but also too plain. Having a bit of character is what makes a pair of jeans look good - fashionable - instead of being just a plain old pair of blue denim trousers.

You might think that, knowing the facts that I do, that I wouldn't be so foolish as to assume that my mid-priced jeans would last longer than a cheaper brand... but you'd be wrong.

The knee just tore on my premium brand jeans, which cost me about twice as much as I've ever spent on a pair of jeans in my life. I suppose I've owned these jeans for two years, and worn them almost every day, so in terms of value for money, we could say that they've cost me something like 18 pence per day... which sounds quite reasonable, to me.

The problem with "pre-distressed" jeans is that, although they look 'good' from the moment you put them on, they end up looking progressively more and more scruffy, until people just assume that you're so poor that you can't afford new clothes; until they cease to be fashionable and instead become part of a dishevelled look, which nobody finds particularly attractive.

Anyway, I've done something which I've never done before in my life, which is to purchase clothes without trying them on in a shop. I had a horrible retail experience on Sunday, where I had to queue in the rain to get into the shop, and then queue again to purchase the product I was buying. Also, given that my city is in a second lockdown, it seemed more civic minded to do my shopping online.

At least I don't have to be in the office anytime this year, so nobody at work will see me wandering around in jeans with a massive rip in the knee. I literally only ever own one pair of jeans which I love and wear all the time. I suppose I should buy several of certain items, when I find something I like, so that I have a like-for-like replacement when the item(s) eventually wear out. I've done that before, with a few things, and it's a good strategy for somebody like me, who has a very small wardrobe.

I'm sure you probably came here hoping to read something a little less mundane than a 500 word essay about my worn-out jeans. Sorry.

 

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Living With Bipolar

3 min read

This is a story about false advertising...

Books

The subject matter which my website deals with, is either "living with bipolar disorder" or it's "the world's longest suicide note". In fact, it can be both. The two are not mutually exclusive.

However, I don't tend to write very much specifically on the subject of my life with bipolar disorder, because I've always had it and it's so intrinsic to me, that I find it very hard to imagine life without it. Although bipolar has caused me significant problems in my life, those problems were present before my diagnosis, and I've not found it particularly useful, in recent years, to think about my diagnosis at all: I certainly don't seek 'treatment' for the illness, or otherwise involve myself with quacks, and the like.

I suppose I write about bipolar in a tangental way, given that the mental illness does dominate my life. Suicide, for example, would not be such an ever-present danger, were it not for my bipolar disorder. Also, various behaviours, many of which would not be seen particularly as symptoms of mental illness, are driven by my bipolar disorder.

Pictured above are two books which are on my coffee table at the moment. I thought that this accidental juxtaposition served as a brilliant summary of my state of mind. As my mood plummets into depression, I pick up the book about suicide. As my mood soars into mania, I pick up the book about mountain biking.

The mountain biking is a new thing. I used to ride mountain bikes when I was a teenager and as a young man, before graduating on to other more extreme sports. Since approximately 2013, when my life disintegrated during an acrimonious divorce, I haven't done anything which you might call 'sport'... with the possible exception of riding through London traffic on my bike at top speed, which is one of the most extreme 'sports' that you can take part in; one of the activities most likely to kill you.

I'm sorry if you came to my website, hoping to read more about bipolar, but were left feeling disappointed; let down. Most people - from those who write to me at least - tell me that they wish I would provide an idiot-proof step-by-step guide, in minute detail, of exactly how to commit suicide. I am not going to do that. No. Never. No way.

Anyway, despite winter being just around the corner, which always sends my mood nosediving, and other things which aren't right in my life - I'm single, don't have a social life etc - I am extremely keen to go for another ride on my new mountain bike, as soon as my backside has recovered enough, such that I wouldn't ruin this weekend, for the sake of a short midweek ride.

I don't feel manic, but then, I never do. My bank balance probably tells a different story. I spent three times as much on my mountain bike as I did on my car, for example. I have been spending money like crazy, which is usually a sign I'm manic. Also, I am struggling to sleep. Other symptoms too.

Of course, I'm happy to be happy, but I also need to be careful that my mood isn't getting too elevated. I need to be careful, although many would say that spending a ludicrous amount of money on a bike could only be explained by a mental illness.

 

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Electronicat

5 min read

This is a story about technical stuff...

Electronics

Of all the hobbies I thought about getting into, most of them were sedentary; indoors. I thought about getting some kind of retro games console. I thought about getting a new games console. I thought about getting a gaming PC. Then, I thought about maybe doing something really geeky. I started looking into software-defined radio, with the intention of making a home-made radar, perhaps, or doing my own mobile phone base station. All of this, I decided, was expensive and wouldn't help me with my need to get outside and exercise.

I did some of the projects on the cheap. I managed to turn my 5 year old laptop into a pretty decent retro console, with nothing more than a cheap game controller pad. I got a whole buttload of electronics experiments I could do with a super cheap tiny little computer (pictured). I managed to make a home-made sonar. Not quite radar, but not too bad for a bodger.

Still, I found myself spending most of my time looking at a screen, indoors.

Also, although the projects have provided some intellectual challenge, they haven't really opened up any social avenues. I'm sure that if I got really involved in - for example - the software defined radio community, online, then I would kinda get 'social' contact out of that, but I already get more than enough online social contact. The thing I'm missing is real world social contact.

I know from past experience that when I've done something ridiculous, like suddenly deciding to get into kitesurfing, it's taken my life in a brilliant direction. I've travelled the world, in search of the best wind and waves, and made lifelong friends along the way.

My life is very nice - enviable - in a lot of ways. My beautiful cat keeps me company, and she likes company too; always wants to be nearby, getting involved with everything I'm doing, which is not always ideal when working on a microelectronics project, for example. For sure, I have options and opportunities which a lot of people can only dream of.

However.

I am also more socially isolated than you can possibly imagine. Estranged from my family, far from friends, without a support network. The litmus test is this: if you're hospitalised for a major medical emergency, who's there for you? I can answer that question. I can answer that question very well, and the answer is not good, although mercifully I did have a work colleague and a friend who happened to be visiting from abroad, who were kind enough to visit me, hooked up to a dialysis machine for 4 hours a day; a hospital stay of more than 2 weeks; a medical emergency that pretty much nearly killed me.

That's not a dig at my friends, of course. They've become used to leaving me sleeping rough or otherwise homeless. They've become used to leaving me in hospital, dying, alone. That's fine. I've come to terms with that.

I do have some VERY good friends. I am lucky enough to have one or two friends who would help me, if I asked. The rest... I'm not sure if I can even call them friends... more just people who I used to know, but now they're just strangers who I happen to see updates from on Facebook. They might as well be celebrities who I read about in tabloid newspapers or gossip magazines.

This wasn't supposed to be a dig at my acquaintances [former friends]. This is about what I'm doing to sort my life out, to make it bearable.

Possibly, by getting back into mountain biking, I have opened up the possibility of making some friends and building a support network; having a social life. We'll have to see. "Social life" might just be something which I'll never regain; I'm too old to be able to [re]build one now, having lost my old one. Anyway, I remain optimistic.

For the first time in forever, I felt motivated to start to plan for the future, in a way that's not just planning for my suicide. I've been planning what to do when my backside isn't so sore, and I can ride my new mountain bike again - where am I going to go?

Suddenly, winter doesn't look quite so bleak. I have good winter clothes and a reason to be outdoors, in the wind, the rain, and the mud. Not many people have the strange twisted kind of brain that I do, where I love extreme weather: keeps the fair-weather tourists away. On the bike ride I went on, on Saturday, there was not a single other soul on the mountain. I'd hardly describe it as "perfect conditions" but in the forests around the summit of the mountain, I hardly noticed the rain; I was going to get covered in mud anyway. It was delightful; ecstatic; euphoric... to be hammering down deserted mountain tracks, without having to worry about crashing into anybody. A far cry from the queues to get into shops, which seems to be something that the ordinary folks are spending their time doing.

Of course, everything's more fun when there's a social aspect, so I'm hoping to find some people to go mountain biking with, but people are already contacting me (which is unheard of) to arrange some biking trips, which is a good sign; a sign that I might get the healthy habits which I need in my life, along with a truckload of fun and adventure.

 

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Bad Decisions

5 min read

This is a story about getting into debt...

Bike

I was desperate for a halfway-decent car when I was 17 years old. The car I had when I first passed my driving test was the most disgusting horrible thing you've ever seen in your life, and that was before my mum crashed it, and then a blind man was paid to repair it using household paint of the wrong colour, which was daubed thickly onto the crumpled bodywork, and left to drip and generally look worse than it would have done if somebody had simply lowered their trousers, curled out a shit onto the bonnet, and then smeared the excrement.

The car, absolutely, was not a gift. In fact, the car was a curse. Firstly it was extortionate to repair, because nobody has a disgusting shit car like that for their first car, so no insurer would offer me an affordable policy. That wiped out every penny I had. Then, it was ruined: my mother crashed it, and it was shit in the first place. It was so old, that basically, it was mechanically fucked in every conceivable way. So, the insurance financially ruined me, then repairing it left me with a gigantic debt to the garage. Then, after all that, it was a hideously ugly shit unreliable horrible, horrible, horrible car.

So, I was keen to have a car that was not shit.

I got a bank loan. I got a bank loan to buy a car, which wasn't a piece of shit, looked like shit, drove like shit... I took out a bank loan to buy a fucking OK-ish fucking car, alright?

In actual fact, it was a good decision to get that bank loan, because I was happy with my not-shit car. In fact, I was fucking ecstatic to have a car which wasn't a complete pile of shit, that was financially crippling me.

Predictably, my OK-ish car was not a pile of fucking horrible ugly shit, and consequently cost me far less in garage repair bills. Predictably, my OK-ish car did wonders for my self-esteem, and I was quite proud of my OK-ish car. My OK-ish car was very enjoyable to drive, and I was very glad that I had taken out that bank loan.

Of course, I hated being in debt, but I paid it off pretty quickly, especially as the garage bills were a fraction of what they were for the horrible ugly old piece of shit, which was good for nothing but the scrap yard.

So, where am I going with this?

Today is payday. Actually, I don't really have payday, to to speak. I don't have a salaried job, in any sense that you'd understand. I run my own company, so it's not like payday is really a thing for me. But anyway, for the sake of simplicity: imagine that today is payday for me.

I've been trying to buy a new bike for a little while. Pictured above is my city bike: designed for zooming through traffic in London. I love that bike. It's great.

I don't live in London anymore. I live somewhere where there's hills.

The new bike I've been trying to buy is a mountain bike. I don't live super close to any mountains - maybe 45 minutes away - but it's pretty hilly where I live, so I need gears. As it happens, I already have a mountain bike, which I bought on motherfucking credit, OK, motherfucker not long after I got my OK-ish car. My 22 year old mountain bike is brilliant and I love it, but I want one which is better for going up and down hills. I mean, that's what my old one is designed to do, but I want a better one.

So, I'm buying something that I don't need but I want and I can afford because it's payday. I can pay cash. I don't need to borrow money or otherwise get it on some kind of credit agreement. I can just walk into a fucking shop, hand over the cash, and walk out with the brand new mountain bike.

I'm getting one.

Actually, it looks like I'm getting one which is going to cost twice as much as I had budgeted for... but I don't care. I want the one that I want, and I want it now... or rather, I want it tomorrow, because the shop needs to build it for me.

It feels - having been relatively recently homeless, horrendously indebted, and almost bankrupt - to be an incredibly bad decision. Sure, it probably is, but I've got the money - surplus - and I'm going to spend it all on this thing that I want; this thing that I don't need.

For sure, I'm not spending money that I don't have; I'm not spending money before I've earned it. For sure, this could be the beginning of a spiral back into debt, but I really don't think it's going to be. Even if it is, I don't give a shit. I've put up with too much for too long, to fuck around any longer.

Sorry for the stream of expletives. I've had to justify myself and my very real human needs, for far too long. If you ask my dad, you can get a bike that's just as good as a £30,000 full-carbon Tour de France pro-rider bike, so cheaply that somebody will pay you to take it off your hands, and buy you a fucking house too for your trouble.

By the way, I am not buying a £30,000 full-carbon pro-rider bike. I am buying a mid-range bike: not the cheapest, and not the most expensive. Mid-priced.

Okay?

Happy now?

 

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Monetization Strategy

4 min read

This is a story about mixing work and pleasure...

Billion dollar banknote

My inbox is full of an ever-increasing number of requests for me to publish a guest blog. On closer inspection, these are really requests to pay me to put advertising on my website, or links to help other websites to improve their Google search rankings. Basically, I don't get genuine requests from people who legitimately want to share anything here... only online marketing and search engine optimisation people, trying to piggyback on my hard work.

What about that hard work?

Why would I do that hard work, if I'm not getting paid?

Well, although I have moaned about crippling debts for many years, I actually have enough money. Very nearly - once - I came within £23 of bankruptcy, but I've always managed to service my debts, pay my rent, pay my bills, buy food and otherwise pay my way in the world. I wouldn't say money has been plentiful but it has been adequate even though a lot of it has been borrowed in order to bridge the gap between the necessary expenditure to stay in the game, versus being cast out from mainstream society and trampled underfoot. I don't really need whatever pitiful sum of money I could get, by perverting my artwork into a commercial artefact.

Wut?

Yes, that's right. I prefer it that my folly - this monument to my madness and stupidity - is kept as something entirely non-commercial. That means no advertising. No selling data. No product placement. No backlinks. No quid quo pro. You can't offer me anything that I would accept in exchange for turning my idiotic endeavours into a money-making scheme. If I wanted to make money, I'd have done something else. I'm not in this for the money. I don't want to become yet another lifestyle blogger, influencer, social media expert, or other person in that particular area. I'm a writer, and I'm able to write and publish whatever I want, and reach thousands of readers every day, which surely is a writer's dream? I mean, sure, some writers have to eat but c'mon! There are so many easier ways to make money than writing! Surely nobody would be stupid enough to try to make writing into their main profession, when they could just as easily work a fraction of the time, and have the majority of their working week available - free - to pursue any writing project that a writer would want to pursue.

Okay, so I only managed to complete a single novel manuscript to an acceptable first-draft standard, in the 5+ years I've been writing 'full-time' but I also produced a couple of 80% complete manuscripts, plus a 1.3 million word blog with thousands of readers, which appears on the first page of Google for a whole bunch of things that people are searching for. I don't mean this as a boast, but merely to point out that if writing was my objective, I've managed to do plenty, without having to earn a writer's pittance of a salary.

Of course I would love to call myself, more legitimately, a writer. I wish I had the balls to give up my main profession, and pursue writing to combine passion, vocation and work into a single thing, but then, I think I would feel very insecure and touchy about my work. Anyone can tell me "your writing is shit" at the moment, and I'll know that they're wrong, but it's not professional grade either; it's a damn sight better than your average keyboard-mashing internet-dweller, so they can fuck off. If I called myself a writer by trade then I'd probably take it very personally, and get really upset. I've not been writing for long enough, nor had enough external validation, to fend off criticism of my writing, if I was doing it in a professional capacity.

So, if you're thinking of contacting me, asking if I can - basically - help you sell you or your client's product or service, don't expect to get a response back from me, other than an unpleasant one. I don't go out of my way to be unpleasant to people, but some of the people who email me are really aggressive and get unduly unpleasant when I ignore them, which is uncalled for. Also, it pisses me off when people want to use me and my artwork - my folly - to further their contemptible commercial endeavours.

You will never see any ads on this website, and I will never sell the data (what data would I even sell anyway?).

 

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Second Lockdown

3 min read

This is a story about a broken record...

Names

What's the exact idiom? A broken record surely wouldn't play at all, so I always reject the idiom "broken record" thinking it must instead be "scratched record". However, I don't think we really use the idiom "scratched record" so I'll stick with my original preamble, which was probably correct insofar as being a well-understood idiom, but literally wrong, like so many things in life.

Anyway.

I've been a bit of a broken record, meaning that I've been repeating myself a lot.

I'm in lockdown, again. Last time I was in lockdown, I stopped writing because I didn't want to drive myself and everyone else round the bend with my repetitive days; I knew that it would be a marathon, not a sprint, to the finish. The first lockdown lasted longer than almost everyone had anticipated, but I had psychologically prepared myself for it to last many months, so I was OK. I also anticipated that this second lockdown was a certainty, so I was psychologically prepared, except I haven't taken the step of stopping writing.

I was planning on having a totally sober October, as has been my tradition. Also, I was supposed to get a new mountain bike, so I could start getting fitter and shedding some korona kilograms: I've put on weight, having been more sedentary than normal, and also utterly devastatingly depressed about the lack of opportunity this year to have travel and adventure, like normal.

I'm not sure I could stand the sound of my own voice - or my words - if I have to write for a whole month, sober and in lockdown. I might have to take a break from writing again.

The world is pretty toxic to mental health at the moment. The impending US presidential election, the impending no-deal Brexit, the never-ending pandemic, the impending economic armageddon, the rioting... the lockdown of course, and the effect of being under the same roof 24 x 7 x 365.

I find writing therapeutic, but what am I going to tell you about my present situation every day: it'll be the same. Still need that mountain bike so I can go and exercise, still need to stay sober, still need to eat less, still working on an important project I can't tell you about, still under lockdown, still depressed, still suicidal. It's going to be groundhog day; repetitive.

So, I'm warning you: if I keep writing and you keep reading, things might get pretty samey.

 

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