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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


A Life of Significance

4 min read

This is a story about having skin in the game...


While I often spew words of harsh derision for those who seemingly make foolish decisions, or otherwise exhibit - in my opinion - extraordinary fuckwittery, wasting astonishing amounts of time and money, I must acknowledge that almost everyone I work with does care to some extent about delivering a good outcome. I don't have the misfortune of working with anybody, who absolutely doesn't care a single bit about their work. It's unkind, unfair and untrue to represent things that way.

Conversely, I have decided to hang my hat on the particular project I'm working on, because it somehow seems worthy of my precious attention. If that sounds arrogant, that's exactly how I intended it to come across. For sure, it's arrogant as heck to assume that I would have anything worthwhile to contribute to anything. How arrogant of me to assume that my worth is anything other than zero. In fact, I spent a long time feeling worthless. I spent a long time feeling that there was no opportunity to feel anything other than worthless. Then, one day, the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself: an opportunity, in my mind, to make a mark; to prove myself valuable beyond a reasonable doubt.

Psychologically, I have pinned all my hopes and dreams on the outcome of one particular project. I have decided that if I can play a role in making that project successful, then I will be somewhat vindicated. This is my opportunity to prove that my troubled past is well and truly done and dusted, and I'm back on my feet, in no uncertain terms. If I can make this project succeed, as much as is possible within my powers, then my achievement will be great enough to deflect, defeat, repel and reject all nay-sayers and doubters; all my critics will be crushed by my almighty victory.

Of course, I acknowledge the toxic soup which whirls in my brain, combining delusions of grandeur, inferiority complexes, guilty conscience, shame, regret and a catalogue of horrendous blunders. I acknowledge that really, being a very small cog in a very big machine, changes nothing. My involvement could never be great enough to absolve me of my sins. My contribution could never be great enough to elevate me from the stinking gutter, which I sank into due to my own flaws and depravity; my own evilness and patheticness; my own uselessness and poor choices have doomed me, and there's no escaping the consequences of my own actions.


I've never let reality get in the way of a good story before, so why would I start now? The project has given me a reason to live, when I had lived without reason for so long. Why shouldn't I fantasise about the importance of the project, and in turn, my own importance, if it keeps me alive; if it gives me purpose and self-esteem? Why shouldn't I have a reason to live, purpose, motivation, self-esteem, pride and all the other things which other people have enjoyed their whole lives? Why shouldn't I have those things?

We could easily sit back in our armchairs sneeringly and cynically criticising, saying that everyone who ever wanted to feel proud about something was a monster; saying that it's vanity and conceit which motivates me; saying that - basically - I'm just a bad person with nothing to offer the world, and any attempt I might make to contribute does nothing of the sort... I'm incapable of contributing and I shouldn't even try; I should just shuffle away into some dark hole and die. Yes, that would be very easy to say that. Yes, that's what all those armies of critics are saying, cynically, sneeringly, from the comfort of their armchairs.

Sure, yes, I'm conceited and arrogant for wanting to feel like I made a meaningful contribution to something great, before I died. Sure, yes, it's an idiotic fantasy; a delusion of grandeur. Sure, yes, you're right, I'm a horrible human being, with nothing to offer. Sure, yes, you're right, I should just shut the fuck up.

Also, no. No I will not. No I will not shut up and no I will not stop.




Self Indulgent

6 min read

This is a story about vanity projects...

3D printed girl

Do you really and truly believe in altruism? Do you really do random acts of kindness for the benefit of strangers? Are you truly charitable and selfless?

It's fairly obvious that charitable giving and sponsored fun runs are all about the warm fuzzy feeling you get, thinking of yourself as oh-so-beneficent. You're reading this page in English on a computer, smartphone or tablet, so you must be amongst the wealthiest 10% on the planet. Don't you feel a little guilty about that? Quick... give away a tiny fraction of your wealth to make yourself feel a little better!

What about that sponsored skydive or abseil?

"It was so scary and I raised so much money"

Yes, it was scary, but you still wanted to do it, didn't you? It was a tick in the box: something that was on your bucket list. You basically emotionally blackmailed your friends into paying for you to do something you've always wanted to do.

"I ran the marathon and it was really hard"

Yes, but you wanted to run a marathon so you could tell people you've run a marathon. You might like running, or even if you don't, you like telling people that you did something that was really hard. I bet you tell people that you eat things you really don't like the taste of, because they're healthy. You're a real martyr, aren't you?

The point I'm making is that all projects are vanity projects. We can't help but wonder how we're going to be perceived at any moment. Every photo you share on Facebook or Instagram, every word you write on your CV, every time you get dressed... it's all driven by vanity.

"Oh no, not me. I don't care what I look like"

Actually, you do. Perhaps you wear scruffy clothes and leave your hair all messy. But, that's your identity: you like telling people how much you don't care about your appearance. In fact, you've very deliberately cultivated a look. You care very much that people think "hey, look at that person who doesn't care about their appearance" but those people have been duped... you care as much as anybody else. It takes effort to not care as much as you do.

What do we have to do if we want to avoid being accused of being self indulgent and vain? Sit in silence, naked in the corner of a room facing the walls? Never have a personality of our own, an opinion or tastes and aesthetic preferences? Are we supposed to step aside and let the writers, artists, musicians, photographers, actors, dancers, models, poets, interior designers and everybody else do their good work because they're humble and authentic, but anybody else would be vain and self indulgent if they were to attempt self-expression?

I write a lot about my thoughts and feelings. I write a lot about my personality: who I am and where I've come from. I write a lot about what makes me tick. I relate every part of the human condition to my own experiences. I'm totally egocentric, aren't I?

How else are we supposed to understand and relate to the world, except through direct comparison with our own unique set of experiences? Am I supposed to only talk by sharing dead philosophers' quotes and dry academic articles, full of meaningless statistics gathered from faceless opinion polls and psychological tests? Am I supposed to bury my whole personality and shut the fuck up, because only great minds have the right to write and publish, and the hoi polloi exist only to buy and read their great works?

I've given a few university lectures and done a bunch public speaking and let me tell you: it feels good. They say that public speaking is as terrifying as anything you could ever do. I've jumped out of aeroplanes on my own with no instructor holding my hand, and it's true, that first time you stand up and speak is quite scary, but then you relax into it and enjoy it. When people laugh at the right moments and you look at all those attentive faces in the room, lecture theatre or debating chamber, it's a rush; it's a buzz.

If a teacher doesn't have a certain theatrical flair and a desire to be adored by their audience, are they going to be a good teacher? It's always a little stressful, standing up in front of people and performing. There's always a chance that you're going to say something wrong and have a whole bunch of people laughing at you. There's absolutely no way that anybody would put themselves through that kind of ordeal unless they were getting a kick out of it.

I'm not saying teachers and lecturers are bad people; I'm just saying that there's a certain amount of vanity involved. We wanna be adored.

We all want an audience. We all want to be rock stars. We want Twitter and Instagram followers. We want people to read what we write, look at our photographs, like, comment and share. We want to be noticed.

I'm kind of an introvert. I get tired of people and the social performance. I get tired of being on show and playing a role: good boyfriend material, an attentive and loyal friend, a well behaved schoolboy, an obedient slave. Sometimes I just want to draw the curtains and be alone with my thoughts.

However, we all need a stage. We need to feel smart and funny and likeable. If you're sharing passive-aggressive memes on Facebook, you're cultivating the image of somebody shy and introverted, dryly humorous, ironic, witty. If you're putting videos of yourself on Youtube, pulling funny faces and talking nonsensically, you're broadcasting your carefree extrovert big personality. Either way, you want to be adored and you care what the world thinks.

Show me one person who's not self indulgent. Show me one person who's not vain.

Even the most quiet and stoical are well aware that they've become known for being quiet and stoical. We grow into roles, and we feel like we have to maintain that image, because it's so integral to our identity: it's what people expect from us and we don't want to let our audience down.

So, I make no apology for the lack of utility to my writing. I've given up on the idea that "if I can help just one person with my writing, it will have been worth it". Fuck that. I want readers, and millions of them. I want fame. ADORE ME!

What the actual fuck is wrong with a little vanity? Vanity props up self esteem. Vanity makes us feel self-confident, which allows us to get good jobs, attractive sexual partners and be popular amongst our friends. What the fuck is wrong with that?

Excuse me. I now need to go and stand in front of the mirror for a few hours, staring at my own reflection.





6 min read

This is a story about star quality...

Cambridge Union

Hey! Is that Nick Grant pitching a Dragons Den panel at Cambridge Union? Isn't that the same podium in Cambridge where UK prime ministers and US presidents have wowed crowds? Isn't that the same podium where the world's best and brightest have stood? Yes. Yes it is.

If you're into astrology, you should know I'm a Leo. Apparently this means that I adore being the centre of attention. However, I've always had somebody yelling louder than me for the spotlight to be directed onto them.

Growing up, my dad had this horse-shit narrative about how cool he was because he took drugs. My childhood achievements were nothing compared to the amount of drugs and alcohol he could consume. Growing up, life was all about worshipping how smart he was for obtaining and taking intoxicating substances. Woo!

My longest relationship, with the girl who my friends affectionately called "the poison dwarf" was dominated by her tantrums if the attention was diverted from her. She completely ruined our joint birthday and engagement party, simply because her unpleasant nature had brought her few friends in life, and the event was mainly my friends, despite my efforts to help her encourage people from her own social circle to attend.

OK, I'm not that humble, but I'm not that arrogant either. If I'm bigging myself up, it's because it's a defence mechanism because I've been dragged down by my own parents, bullies and an abusive ex-wife. I've had a rough fucking ride, so let me have this one, OK?

I haven't lost perspective. I'm well aware that my achievements amount to nothing. I never got so much as a "well done" out of my parents for everything I've ever accomplished. It's tough fucking going, living life with insufferable cunts who just want to see you fail.

Normally, when things are going well, people are supportive and want to help you to continue to achieve your potential in life. Not so, in most of my story to date.

Often times startup founders receive their initial funding from friends and family. My friends contributed generously to my ambitions to build a profitable business, and they were repaid with the dividends from the company. My own parents saw no potential in what I was doing, even though billionaire investors took me under their wing and agreed to help my co-founder and I to build a valuable business. My ex-wife took particularly cruel delight in watching my dreams get shattered.

Yes, I'm subject the fatal flaw of a little too much desire to be loved and liked. When an acting coach suggested that we try my co-founder out to see if he was any better at delivering an investor pitch, I was mortified by the idea that I wouldn't get my moment of fame. For sure, I'm subject to big-headedness and delusions of grandeur as much as the next person, but in a way, I can argue that I deserved my little headlining moment, because I had always been kicked to the sidelines by self-centred parents and partners.

You know what? Give your kids their moment of fame. Let your kids bask in a bit of adoration. Don't hoover it all up for yourselves. You know what your input was? You had sex. Well done. Gold star. But that's nothing that every couple didn't already do for hundreds of millions of years. All you did was do what your fucking body was programmed to do. Now get the fuck out of the spotlight and let your kid enjoy their little moment. Your time is over. It's no longer your chance to shine. It's your moment to tell your kid well done, and that you're proud of them.

Butt the fuck out and acknowledge a good performance when you see one. Congratulate your fucking kid on their hard work and try and pretend like you're pleased, even if you're too fucking drug addled and self centred to even see straight.

You know what else? I'm fucking taking this one. I'm fucking taking this moment to tell myself well done, because nobody in my family is going to. My ex-wife isn't going to. Basically, the people who mattered most to me when some fairly monumental stuff happened to me in my life couldn't have given two shits about anything that wasn't to do with them and their selfish fucking world, so I'm going to relive this little moment and applaud myself.

Well fucking done me.

It ain't fucking easy battling for your moment of fame. It ain't fucking easy getting that chance, and then performing when it matters. It ain't fucking easy at all. And what's it all for if the people who you think care about you couldn't give a toss?

Well, guess what? I had that limelight. Not because I was a drug-taking fucktard like my parents, but because I worked hard to get that opportunity. I had that opportunity, not because I demanded it and stole it from my child, but because I wanted to impress, because I wanted to do something great.

Isn't that awful, that my parents made my entire childhood about them, shoving me into a dark corner so they could harvest all the ill-gotten attention? Isn't that awful, that my longest relationship was dominated by an abusive partner who demanded that the spotlight was always directed on her, and abused me to the point that I lost my confidence and became a withdrawn and shattered version of my former self?

Bygones. Regrets. Yes.

I'm just telling the story because nobody else is going to tell it. If you ask my parents they'll tell you that I was an evil waste of space who never achieved anything, and that's plain wrong.

This is me sticking up for myself. This is me fighting against the complete collapse of my self esteem that will render me hopelessly suicidally depressed. This is my defence mechanism.

I'm sorry if this comes across as arrogant or self-centred. I hope it comes across in the context of my desperately low sense of self-worth, given how I've been treated most of my life. I need a little pride and self confidence to be able to continue.

God damn, I'm so low right now.