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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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Bi-Polar

3 min read

This is a story about Kim and Kanye...

Mood swings

This is not a story about Kim and Kanye. I don't know anybody called Kim and Kanye. I wrote the title of this essay and the little introductory line because apparently it was newsworthy that somebody wrote something on Instagram. Anyway, I realised that I haven't written much about bipolar recently.

I have a diagnosis of bipolar, but I don't particularly have any symptoms which are bothering me. I've been unmedicated for years and yet I'm fully functional. This is not to say that I think anyone who does use medication to help them with their bipolar is wrong to do so, but it doesn't work for me.

I sure as hell have a mood disorder. I'm suicidally depressed a lot of the time, but I also have periods of extremely high productivity. Sure, I'm very good at managing my condition, such that my friends and colleagues don't really know I've got a major mental health problem, but it doesn't mean it's not causing me any difficulties, despite appearing symptom-free.

I suppose the main problem I'm dealing with is the risk to my life. Being suicidal so often is pretty dangerous, and it's landed me in hospital - in intensive care and high dependency wards - a whole bunch of times. Still, I don't want to be medicated. If I die, I die. I'd rather not have the side-effects of powerful psychiatric medications.

Did I mention how functional I am?

Until I'm not.

I can cruise along just fine for very long periods of time, but then I crash. I always crash. Crashing is inevitable.

I don't think medication is the solution to the crashes. "Mood stabilisers" do not do what they claim to be able to. In fact, "mood stabilisers" can be highly destabilising, as I've found many times from bitter and unpleasant experience.

Certainly, anti-depressants are destabilising, always pushing me manic or at least hypomanic. I want them - obviously - because it's so horrible to be suicidally depressed all the time, but I know they're too destabilising and will cause my life to become chaotic and unmanageable.

So, I struggle along with commonly available mind-altering substances, like alcohol, which is a dreadful substance but I've become very experienced with using it to limp along through life.

I'm persevering with so-called "clean living" where I use a number of techniques to achieve more mood stability, naturally. I keep very strict bedtimes. I keep very strict meal times. I eat a balanced diet. I exercise. I limit my alcohol intake. I avoid all drugs and medications. It seems to be a winning formula. Also, money. Having plenty of money, a low-stress job and secure housing, are all very important pieces of the puzzle. If any one single thing is wrong, it throws my world into chaos and instability; it makes me unwell.

It's pretty dull really, the current story of me and my bipolar. Things are kinda under control and the things I'm doing to keep myself stable are - by design - super boring.

 

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Not Colourblind

6 min read

This is a story about racism...

Graffiti

If racism is the inability to be wilfully colourblind, then I am a racist. I'm sorry, but if the aim is to pretend that we don't perceive differences in appearance, then I feel that anti-racism is doomed, because it's dishonest. Instead, we should talk about what's really going on; be truthful.

Of course, my default position as a member of the metropolitan elite, is to say that I'm not a racist. To be a racist in polite, educated, civilised middle-class circles, amongst professionals, is unthinkable. There is a viceral rejection of any slight hint that we - educated middle aged white people - might possibly be a bit racist. However, it's there - in some [small] part - and we should talk about it.

Children are a good benchmark, because they have a tendency to be much more honest, unfiltered and uninhibited. Children aren't subtle and devious, and generally haven't learned to hide or disguise what they really think. In fact, adults aren't great at hiding what they really think either. Everyone knows that "anti immigration" really means anti-non-white (i.e. racism).

We should acknowledge that children will, quite naturally, bully and otherwise victimise minorities who look and act differently. Children are vicious animals who will attack anything "other"... but where does that animal - bestial - behaviour come from?

The Price equation shows us that it is a rational strategy for a person to attack and/or kill anybody who does not look similar, even if the attacking/murderous individual is killed or injured in the process. In fact, our genes encode racism into our very fabric. We are evolved to attack those who are obviously genetically unrelated from us - this can be mathematically proven to confer an evolutionary advantage. Unfortunately, at a bestial animalistic level, we are hard-wired to be racist.

Of course, we are not animals. We are not children. We are civilised people. However, we are animals, and we can easily regress into childish bestial behaviour.

That is what is happening.

Spend a moment watching Donald Trump or a Brexit voter speak, and imagine their words coming out of the mouth of a child. Do you see how the words match perfectly with a mental age of a child? We have entered an era when infantile idiots are given a voice - a platform - and they have clumped together with other thick-skulled neanderthals, and are now brazenly dragging civilised society back into the dark ages; back to a place of rampant racism, mobs, hysteria and bestial behaviour.

But, calling racists racist hasn't got us anywhere.

It's not surprising to me that 51.9% of the UK is racist, because most people in the UK are very stupid and immature; we do not have a society full of educated individuals, but instead a mountain of morons. Take a look on Facebook, where racists like to congregate, and you can see a pitiful display of bad grammar, spelling mistakes and sentence construction which would make any decent educated person blush with shame. Instead of reading good books, the racists spend their time share their views with other near-illiterate racists, hammering on their keyboard with their clumsy fists.

Calling racists racist hasn't got us anywhere, but we do need an outlet for our frustration with them.

So, am I colourblind? Absolutely not. It would be an absolute lie if I pretended that I was unable to make an educated guess about a person's ethnic background based on their skin tone, along with other clues, such as hair and facial features. Likewise, I can probably make an educated guess about where a person grew up based on their accent. To claim that I couldn't do such a thing would be disingenuous.

Do I discriminate? If the question is whether I go out of my way to thwart, undermine or otherwise prevent a non-white person from enjoying the same opportunities as a white person, then the answer is no, I do not consciously do that. I do - absolutely - change how I speak and act, depending on my audience. If I'm speaking to somebody who doesn't speak English fluently, I will simplify my language; slow my speed of speech; speak with clearer enunciation. I do discriminate, but I don't do so maliciously.

Am I guilty of unconscious bias? Absolutely. The whole point of unconscious bias is that I'm not even aware it's there. I've grown up in a society dominated by whites, so it's totally expected that I am riddled with all kinds of prejudices and biases, which I haven't been able to iron out and get rid of through sheer force of will and hard work, although I do try my hardest to think in an inclusive and unprejudiced way.

Am I guilty of white privilege? Yes.

Whoever said "it is not enough to say you aren’t racist, you have to be anti-racist" summed it up very well. Knowing what we know about the Price equation and our genetic predisposition towards racism, we have to fight against our DNA. Genes are risk not destiny so it's not true to say that because our genes code for racism, we are automatically racist, but if we do nothing then we do revert to racism as a default position. This is why we have to actively choose to be anti-racist; our natural instincts are wrong and this is why populism has led to terrible things.

These are my thoughts on a charged subject, and I expect I have made mistakes. I hope to be corrected.

 

Addendum:

I realise that "colourblind" is an aspiration - although unachievable literally - which metaphorically means treating people exactly the same, regardless of skin tone. I think that when racists speak out against multiculturalism, they are really saying that they hate non-whites; they don't hate Northerners or Scottish people moving to the south of the UK, for example, despite the cultural differences. For my part, I think that the "melting pot" as exemplified by London, is the ideal picture of modern society, although of course it suffers socioeconomic segregation and many problems. I think that we should aspire to the level of multiculturalism and tolerance we see in the capital.

I also see that I am prone to being too literal sometimes. For example, "Semitic" relates to both Hebrew and Arabic, therefore Islamophobia is anti-Semitic, technically and literally, although it's so often used to mean "Jew hating" that the literal meaning is not relevant and I realise it's wrong to point out that quirk of etymology.

 

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Drinking in Moderation

3 min read

This is a story about the insidious creep of alcoholism...

Fridge

I decided that I was putting on weight, and that I didn't like that; I wanted to get fit and healthy. At the start of the lockdown I was drinking every day - 7 days a week - and I started drinking straight after I finished work each day. I was drinking far too much; it was excessive.

I went teetotal for a couple of months. My liver needed a break. In fact all of my brain and body was extremely grateful for a break from intoxicating liquor. I'd like to say that I felt great after a couple of months of non-drinking, but I didn't. However, if I had carried on drinking at the rate I was, then my health would have suffered immensely, and I would be very depressed about being overweight. As it stands now, I'm not happy with my weight, but I'm not unhappy either.

After my lengthy period of tee-totalling, I decided to try to drink in moderation. I was going to allow myself to drink 1 (one) bottle of wine per week, on a Saturday night, as a treat.

Keeping the amount of wine I have in the house to a minimum is a good idea. If I have it in the house, I'll drink it.

Soon, all my plans went out of the window. I decided I was allowed two bottles of wine per week - one on Friday and one on Saturday - but I foolishly decided to buy both bottles at once, and then ended up dipping into the second bottle on Friday night, and buying another one on Saturday.

The weekend just gone, I ended up drinking about 4 bottles of wine, although I did share some of it. I drank on Sunday too, which is against the rules.

I've paid a high price for heavy drinking. My sleep has been appalling. I've been tormented with invasive thoughts, stress and anxiety. I've had a dreadful tic - an involuntary vocalisation like Tourette's - due to the extreme change in brain chemistry. My brain is not in a good state to segue from stone cold sober, to very drunk, and back to stone cold sober - it's far too anxiety-inducing. I was stuttering and almost unable to speak at one point, due to the anxiety induced by abruptly stopping drinking. I don't get the shakes, for some reason.

But is it alcoholism?

Well, given that I am managing to minimise the harm that alcohol is doing to my health and my life, it is not alcoholism. I meet neither the medical definition, of physical dependence on alcohol, nor the other definition, which says that a person is an alcoholic if harm is being done to them by their alcoholism. Alcoholics are also not able to start and stop drinking at will, obviously.

I've definitely failed at drinking in moderation, though. Alcohol is definitely a crutch; a medication. I don't have a good relationship with alcohol, even if I am able to avoid its harm.

I need to find some other kind of [healthy] outlet.

 

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How To Kill Yourself - Part Two

12 min read

This is a story about worst-case scenarios...

The wall

I've brought you here under somewhat false pretences. Possibly you have read what I wrote on suicide methods and have decided to continue reading. Perhaps you haven't read anything I've written before, and an internet search has brought you here. Either way, I kinda lied: this is much more about why to kill yourself than how.

Why kill yourself?

Good question.

If you're reading this, then I'm sure you have your reasons. Perhaps you don't need me to explore the many reasons why, but I'm going to anyway, because you didn't need me to write about all the suicide methods in detail either, but I did and thousands of people read it every day.

It's because so many thousands are reading what I wrote about suicide methods that I felt I should follow up with something about why to kill yourself. I hope you will forgive me if you feel I have brought you here under false pretences, but anyhoo, let's begin.

 

Why Should You Kill Yourself?

You shouldn't.

The end.

 

Just kidding.

Unless we acknowledge that there are very real and valid reasons why people kill themselves, then we are gaslighting. We can't pretend that people don't commit suicide, and that those people didn't have good reasons for doing it. People don't just do stuff for no reason. To pretend like there weren't reasons - and there isn't justification - is disingenuous and unkind to those who have died, and unkind to those who are suffering suicidal thoughts.

So, excuse my jocularity. I'm quite serious. We need to talk about why you would kill yourself.

 

Breakup/Divorce

We've got to start somewhere, so why not with a relationship ending; a broken heart? There's little more gut-wrenchingly sad than losing the love of our lives. Many suicides will be prompted by a breakup, so we need to discuss this. I needed to start somewhere, so this is what I've chosen.

First, we need to acknowledge what love is: a combination of serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine that's released in the brain in order to foster human bonding, sex and produce children; it's a biochemical trick created by our genes, in order to get us to make more copies of the genes.

Is it sad when we get our hearts broken? Yes. Incredibly.

Is it the end of the world? Will we be sad forever? No. Get another girlfriend/boyfriend/significant-other and your heart will soon mend.

Of course, we need to acknowledge that it's absolutely terrifying - as well as a massive inconvenience - to be thrust back into the world of dating. As we get older and fatter, we feel increasingly insecure, and we fear dying alone. Of course, nobody wants to feel fat, old and desperate, fearful of dying alone. I can totally relate to the feeling that I'd rather die than suffer the agony of dating, and the knock-backs; to be thrust back into the crappy world of adolescence with all its accompanying awkwardness, uncertainty and insecurity. "Does he/she like me?" we wonder to ourselves, in seemingly eternal torment.

In my opinion, a breakup is no reason to commit suicide, because - although inconvenient and awful - it's possible to mend your heart by meeting somebody new.

 

Bereavement

Okay, so I didn't really cover the death of a loved one in the breakup/divorce section, so I'll cover the death of a partner in this section. The answer is pretty much the same, but I do make an exception for childhood sweethearts who've lived into old age. I'm not suggesting that everyone who's been in a super long-term relationship should be in a suicide pact, but it's understandable that after a certain age and many decades of happy marriage/civil-partnership, that life could continue with somebody new is almost unthinkable. Where to draw the line is not up to me, but I feel certain that being a geriatric widower is not how I plan on spending the last years of my life.

Am I advocating for suicide for bereaved older people? Absolutely not. I'm just saying that I can totally understand why heartbroken seniors might decide that their reason for living expired when they lost the love of their lives.

Death of a pet. Sad but no.

Death of a friend. Sad but no.

Death of a parent. Sad (most of the time) but no.

Death of a child... oh damn. Where to begin? Well, we must acknowledge that the grief would be exceptional, and the guilt no doubt. The thing which would never be uttered, but must be discussed, would be the feeling that time's run out to make another kid, mixed up with all the same fears about fertility, carrying the baby to full term, giving birth, having a healthy child etc. All those horrible emotions would have to be re-lived, with the accompanying magnifying effect of knowing how devastating it was to actually lose a child, or - god forbid - children.

It seems quite understandable to me that some horrendous combination of bereavement, such as losing your whole family in some kind of accident, would be far too much to bear. Sure, plenty of people have had tragedies in their lives, and gone on to rebuild their lives with somebody else. That's not to say that everyone can or should. I can totally understand why bereavement(s) would be a reason to commit suicide, and although I can see that many people have been able to get over the tragedy, I don't think it's right to say that suicide should never be considered.

Usual caveats apply: I don't condone or encourage suicide, but I do understand why people kill themselves, although I desperately want a zero suicide world.

 

Debt, Financial Ruin; Destitution etc

It feels a bit wrong to put debt on a par with the death of a child, but it's also right - debt can destroy lives just as effectively as a road traffic accident. We need to acknowledge how life-destroying debt is, because it can wreck so much more than a person's credit rating.

First, let's talk about the very real, and very devastating consequences of financial difficulties: loss of status, loss of home, loss of relationships... loss of freedom; agency. To have a bad credit rating is to become a leper - unable to buy or rent a house, buy a car, get a job. "Get a job?" you ask... yes, that's right - many jobs will check a person's credit rating and/or ask if they've ever declared bankruptcy. Bankrupts are shunned from almost all parts of society, such that they're ruined for life; unable to get a decent job and therefore shut out of every aspect of ordinary life. That's a bad deal. That's a rough gig.

Without your house, your car, your job and the other accompanying status symbols, how are you going to provide for your family? It follows that you'll be ditched by your partner and your kids; labelled as a loser. This is how people lose everything, not just their credit rating.

Debt is life-destroying.

Okay, so I'm probably laying it on a bit thick. However, this is all the stuff that is on the mind of the poor suffering individual who is struggling with debt, and has decided to commit suicide. Having been hounded by debt collectors, bailiffs and other parasites/vultures, people are driven to end their own lives rather than suffer any more stress, loss, ruin and distress. I empathise.

Although bankruptcy and financial ruin are devastating, the process of being financially destroyed is worse than being destitute. Being destitute is quite liberating. Having struggled with debts for years, being hounded by creditors and other leeches, once the bankruptcy process - or some other kind of insolvency procedure - is in motion, the creditors can't harass you anymore. You'll get an opportunity to rebuild yourself, albeit with the impediment of the black mark on your records. Plenty of people function without credit cards, car loans, mortgages and other financial instruments, and many of them are very successful. In fact, many entrepreneurs talk about their bankruptcies as badges of honour; they're proud of their failures.

I think loss of status is not to be underestimated. If you're used to having a nice house, car, and being a provider for your family, there is an incalculable amount of shame, bitterness and regret, which is almost impossible to deal with. Losing everything is not easy, and we should acknowledge how fatal it can be; how it can be the worst thing in the world to have your life fall apart. Saying stuff like "it's only money" is profoundly unhelpful, because money is such an intrinsic inseparable part of modern life. We shouldn't forget that wealth and status are the things which allow us to get an attractive partner, as well as to feel good about ourselves.

Killing yourself because of bad debt or financial problems seems like the most ridiculous thing to do, but in fact it's one of the hardest things to deal with, because it's such a taboo to talk about financial difficulties and debt. Debts are so toxic to our mental health, keeping us awake at night, and causing us untold anxiety, as we fear the domino-like collapse of our entire lives - job loss leads to defaulting on our mortgage, leads to our house being repossessed, leads to bankruptcy and destitution, as sure as night follows day.

Yes. Debt and financial difficulties cause suicides, in vast numbers. We need to acknowledge that's true. I wish it weren't true, but it is.

The solution? Be prepared to be destitute. Treat it as an adventure. Be a tramp. Enjoy the freedom of it.

 

Injury, Sickness and Disability

Chronic illness, chronic pain and other lifelong conditions - such as diabetes and kidney failure - have a devastatingly detrimental effect on our quality of life, and to pretend otherwise would be dishonest. However, we are notoriously bad at estimating how bad it's going to be. For example, people with type one diabetes, who are insulin dependent and who must closely monitor their blood sugar, are able to adapt and report far higher quality of life than their initially pessimistic outlook. However, people who require dialysis because of kidney failure, often vastly underestimate how badly their quality of life is going to be affected.

Many people would say that they would want their life support to be switched off if they were paralysed - quadriplegic - but there are well documented cases of people reversing the decision in their advanced directive such that they have indicated that they wanted to be kept alive by machines, most famously by a man who was only able to blink in order to communicate.

However, we must be realistic. In the vast majority of cases, people who are suffering incredibly awful lives, because of chronic pain and other suffering, who've had their reasons to live snatched away by some cruel twist of fate, which has rendered them incapable of ever enjoying a minimum quality of life, are absolutely entitled to reserve their right to die. I must make it absolutely clear: I am pro-euthanasia.

Another thing I must make clear is that I'm well aware that there are very many people who live full and happy lives, despite sickness and/or disability. I am absolutely not an ableist who believes that only the able bodied have a reason to live, and everybody else is somehow less worthy of life and happiness. I am absolutely not saying that - for example - being unable to walk is always a reason to commit suicide.

Nothing could be more personal than weighing up the pros and cons of our own unique situation, and arriving at a decision of whether it is better to be dead or alive. I can't make that decision for anybody, but we should definitely consider that it is very difficult to face a life which promises nothing other than pain and suffering, and regret, sadness and resentment, that we are no longer able to enjoy the things which we used to, in the past.

 

Everything Else

There are an infinite number of reasons why we might kill ourselves, which might include things such as martyrdom, infamy, to hurt people and other motivations. Suicide can be weaponised, and it often is, especially by marginalised, oppressed and otherwise powerless people.

A completely exhaustive exploration of all the reasons why we might commit suicide is beyond the scope of this essay, although I feel as though I have made a decent attempt.

* * *

As always, I must remind readers that my personal stance is that suicide is understandable but absolutely undesirable in all but the compassionate circumstances, where it is intended to give relief to a person whose life is unbearable; unliveable; intolerable.

We must distinguish the temporary - the acute - from the permanent; the chronic. We must avoid permanent solutions to temporary problems, although I am aware that agony can feel eternal when we are in the grips of it. I am very sorry that people are suffering and I wish they weren't.

This essay is intended as something thought-provoking, and as an open and honest discussion-starter, so that people who feel that they can't talk about their anguish and pain - that suicide is the only option available to them - might feel as though it's OK to talk about the things which are bothering them.

If you choose suicide, I won't judge you or tell you that you're wrong, but I hope that you think about everything, and choose to live in the end... although of course you might decide - based on your personal pros and cons - that life will never be tolerable and pleasant ever again, which is very sad but I understand that people need relief from their torment.

I do not encourage, endorse or recommend suicide.

 

Want to read part three? Here it is.

 

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I Can't Afford to Dream

3 min read

This is a story about being stuck in a hole...

Concrete beds

Why did I get so angry and upset yesterday over something so seemingly trivial? I think I'm exhausted from 3 years of uninterrupted hard work, stress and struggle. I've been battling to dig myself out of the hole I'm in, so I certainly haven't had the opportunity to dream.

For those people who are surrounded by their friends and family, comfortably in their routine: paying their mortgages, kissing their husbands/wives and kids good night, working their steady jobs, stuffing money into their sizeable savings accounts and pensions... those people can dream, because they're in a position of security and stability. Their lives are predictable, so they're able to dream. Of course, they are somewhat trapped by domestic bliss, so they kinda have to dream, because it's unthinkable that they would ever cut loose from their comfortable lives... but also, they know they really don't want to have a life of stress and insecurity like I have.

"What do you want to do with your life?" people ask me. A seemingly innocent question, but it's not. The question presupposes that I have any choice, when I obviously do not. My choices are between what I have to do - I'm forced to do - or death. Well, perhaps not immediate death, but in fact a much, much worse death.

If I don't do what I have to do, then bankruptcy, eviction, destitution and exclusion from society swiftly follow: I'll be a homeless tramp, unable to get a job, unable to rent a place to live, unable to do anything, except die from the loss of dignity and the harshness of homelessness and sleeping rough.

I'm creditworthy, so of course I could get into heaps of debt, pretending like I'm able to live a certain lifestyle without consequences. That seems to be what students do in the UK, where tuition fees are £27,000 and maintenance loans add another £30,000... £57,000 of debt, living a lifestyle you can't afford; putting off today's problems until tomorrow. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to get myself into that much debt.

There's no point dreaming until I've got the money to pay for those dreams.

Sure, you go ahead and have your dreams. You can afford to dream. Even if you can't ditch your husband/wife, kids, mortgage and job, you can still dream, and it's harmless. You can dream about getting a new kitchen or bathroom. You can dream about re-carpeting your hallway. You can dream about whatever you want, because you're in a position of wealth and privilege; security.

My dream consists of getting enough financial security to be able to afford a nervous breakdown without capitalism destroying me; killing me.

 

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Why are you homeless? Just buy a house lol

3 min read

This is a story about people who are so privileged they don't realise they're incredibly privileged...

Nettles

I was having a pretty good week. I've made good progress financially, and I'm proud of the work I've been doing on an important project. I've achieved a lot; I've been highly productive.

I'm gaining some financial security, slowly but surely.

Then somebody sent me a listing for a remote piece of land.

Utterly depressing.

In fact, suicide-inducing.

In order to be able to afford said piece of land - with an asking price of half a million pounds - I will have to work flat-out for another year or two just to be able to afford the deposit and then I wouldn't be able to live on the land, because I would have to work for the rest of my life to pay the mortgage. Naturally "remote" does not correlate with "within commuting distance of employment".

Utterly demented.

As an act deliberately designed to make me depressed and suicidal, it could not have been more perfectly designed.

I don't plan on working until my health is failing, and then dying the moment I'm able to escape from the rat race. I'll just kill myself now and save myself the effort, energy, stress and misery.

I'm utterly furious.

I spend my time thinking about perhaps buying a piece of land and a caravan for £15,000 in order to escape from the rat race. I am not in the league of people who think that a half million pound piece of land in the middle of nowhere is anything other than something which I can't afford and is utterly impractical, given it's nowhere near any place of employment; anywhere it would be possible to generate the income to pay the massive mortgage. My priority is to have secure housing. My priority is to escape the clutches of the parasitic idle class, and to live free from the tyranny of rent or mortgage for a while.

Of course I'm privileged to have the vague possibility of being able to live in an old caravan in a grotty field, but I would also settle for a tin shack, or even a tent. Basically, I'm prepared to live like a person in a developing world slum, if I can escape the rat race.

Unless you've lost years of your life to sickness - hospitalised and otherwise unable to work - you don't understand that the things you take for granted, like your house, can be snatched away if you have a period of ill health. I know I can't have a huge mortgage, because I can't guarantee that I'll be able to work 12 months a year. At times I've barely managed to be able to work 3 months a year. I know what it means to lack financial security and housing security: I've been homeless, penniless and almost bankrupt; destitute.

I refuse to go back to that life, of having my health, wealth, home and dignity all snatched away from me. I'll just kill myself instead.

I deliberately haven't looked to see if I can buy a tiny piece of land and a caravan for £15,000, because if I can't then it's time to kill myself. I'm worn out. I'm burnt out. I've had enough. I need a break. My health is failing and I can't participate in the rat race any longer.

Thanks, buddy. Why don't you fuck off with your half-a-million-pound remote fucking shit? Good for you, cunt. I'm just trying to not end up sleeping rough again, you piece of shit.

 

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Insane in the Office

4 min read

This is a story about vacation...

Pixelated

It's been pretty much four whole months since I saw my colleagues face-to-face in the office. As the lockdown wore on, my hair got longer and longer. Working from home, I've tended to wear scruffy clothes instead of wearing a smart shirt. These things make a big difference.

Business attire is important. There are plenty of useless idiots in the working world, commanding high salaries simply because they wear a nice suit. Wearing the right clothes is an effective way of getting people to respect you and to value you, and your opinion. Without the visual cues of the business attire, people can only judge you based on what you say and what you do, which they are hopelessly under-qualified to do.

Being face-to-face is important. So much of nonverbal communication - such as reading a room, or looking for body language - is useful to know if you're rubbing somebody up the wrong way, and therefore to know whether to back off; to let something drop.

In the office, a vast amount of the working day can be eaten up by simply moving around the building - looking for meeting rooms, walking to the toilet, walking to get a sandwich, walking to get a drink - plus there's a lot of opportunity for ad-hoc chats with colleagues. At home, I'm alone with my thoughts for most of the day. I'm incredibly bored. When we have a meeting I'm desperate to talk to somebody; so isolated and lonely.

At the office, if I'm acting a bit strangely, somebody can have a quiet word in my ear. "Is everything OK?" they can ask, kindly. At home, nobody really checks in on me; there's no human connection.

I'm so bored.

I get through all my work so quickly, because there isn't enough to do, and I'm alone with no distractions.

The autumn, winter and spring are going to be incredibly hectic, stressful and high-pressure, so I'm keen that the workload should be managed effectively; expectations have to be set appropriately. I find myself being very forceful, trying to protect myself and my colleagues from being overwhelmed; overstretched. I push back hard on the insidious scope creep; the relentless push to overpromise and underdeliver; an army of soft-skilled fuckwits saying yes to everything because they're yes-men; people-pleasers who don't actually have to do the work themselves - it won't be them who have to work late into the night and over weekends in order to deliver the undeliverable. Nobody thanks you when your project is late, you don't deliver everything you said you would, and the quality is atrocious.

I should stop caring.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

I should just take the money and keep my big mouth shut.

It doesn't make sense to rock the boat. I should be diplomatic. I should smile and take the money, and ignore the problems; ignore the disaster that's brewing. I know it'd be better for my bank balance to just keep my mouth shut.

It's difficult. My mental health is not compatible with office jobs working for huge organisations, but it's easy money. It's a LOT of easy money. Hard to turn down that kind of money, even if it's toxic to my mental health.

I haven't taken any time off since the start of the year. I have been working as hard as I possibly can. I just want this atrocious period - of financial insecurity - to be over.

When you're going through hell, keep going... and go as fast as you can!

I opt for ripping off the sticky plaster as quickly as possible; a short sharp shock.

Except this isn't short and sharp... it's prolonged.

Interminable.

I'm not sure what I'd do with time off anyway. UK citizens are not exactly welcome in a lot of places, given that our nation is riddled with deadly disease. I hate travelling alone.

I do need some time off though, before I have a breakdown; before I get too sick to work. It's strange, my mental health is very bad, but I'm still very productive. I assume that I'm very difficult to work with at the moment though, but I don't really know, because I don't get any feedback; I don't have normal interactions with anybody. I'm completely isolated and losing my mind.

 

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Habit

4 min read

This is a story about routine...

Laptops

Despite the chaotic - and often traumatic - backdrop to my life, during the past 5 years... I have still managed to write on a very regular basis. I've written from a hospital bed on multiple occasions. I've written from a psychiatric ward on multiple occasions. I've written when I've been dreadfully sick - both physically and mentally - and I've documented the path I've taken, from near-bankruptcy and destitution, to stability.

It might not look very healthy, but it is - my writing is a healthy habit.

I skipped writing over the weekend because I was busy. That's OK. I'm allowing myself to skip the occasional day when I'm busy. I'm not going to force myself to write every single day, without fail.

I have decided that I need to get into the habit of writing fewer than 700 words - it's a limit which forces me to be a bit more focussed on what I want to say, and discourages me from aimlessly rambling. Given that I mostly just write my stream-of-consciousness, it makes sense to create an artificial limit, because my thoughts are unending.

As I have repeated oftentimes before - ad nauseam - I am aiming to try to be more forward-looking, and to not dwell in bitterness and regret from the past; to not wallow in my life's misfortunes and my shitty childhood.

I can tell you for certain that I WILL NOT be writing any kind of "things I'm grateful for" vomit-worthy rubbish. Of course I have things I'm grateful for, and I have a great deal of perspective - I know I'm fortunate in many ways - so I don't need or want to have to write down all those things; it's pretty boring.

I'm glad that my skin isn't all peeled off and dipped in salt and acid. I'm grateful my eyes haven't been gouged out by rusty spoons. I'm grateful that my penis hasn't been cut off and stuffed in my mouth...

No.

I spend a significant proportion of my day reading the news, and whenever I see starving African children - etc - then I think "poor starving African children. We should improve the living conditions for human beings". I do not think "I'm glad I'm not a starving African child" because that's just sociopathic. Obviously it's better not to be a starving African child, but I'm afraid I'm cursed with enough empathy to think "we should improve things" as opposed to "I'm so grateful other people's lives are so shitty".

My routine consists of lying in bed reading the news, a shower, feeding the cat, reading the news, catching up on anything I missed at work, reading the news, work, meetings, reading the news, work, lunch, reading the news, work, meetings, work, reading the news, writing, dinner, reading the news, speaking to friends on the phone, watching documentaries about human suffering, social media, sleep... repeat.

As you can see, I read a lot of news.

I do not watch any TV.

I'm certain that I would be happier if I replaced some of that news reading with socialising, but my routine is predictable and somewhat in my control. The only thing I can't control is the human suffering which I see in the news, but I do care and I do what I can - from the confines of my routine - to improve the lives of humanity. Mostly, I do a lot of thinking about the suffering of humanity, but don't mistake me for somebody who doesn't care and doesn't do anything. The emotional labour is exhausting; the mental labour is exhausting. This shouldn't be underestimated.

Of course I want to change my routine. I want to exercise more. I want to socialise more. I want more excitement; variety. However, the routine gives me a great deal of stability, and the stability gives me health and wealth. Stability is very important to me, having had so many years of chaos and trauma.

My routine is important.

 

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Death Cult

5 min read

This is a story about suicidal people...

Pageviews

I received an email, approximately a month ago, telling me that something I wrote back in February was getting a lot of readers, via Google searches. I dismissed that event, because the email said I was getting a small amount of visitors to my website. It turns out that I was getting a huge amount.

When I finally dug into the stats, they shocked me.

  • Hypercapnic alarm response - 1st
  • Can you drink yourself sober - 4th
  • How do you suffocate yourself - 5th
  • Easiest way to kill yourself - 6th
  • What is the easiest way to kill yourself - 7th
  • Most reliable way to commit suicide - 7th
  • Easiest way to commit suicide - 10th
  • Quickest way to kill yourself - 14th

That's just a selection of the things people are searching for on Google, along with the position where my website is ranked in the search results.

I wondered why I was getting many more emails from suicidal people. Now I know - I'm on the first page of Google for most of the things which people search for when they're feeling suicidal.

Obviously, this feels like a big responsibility.

I immediately went back to what I wrote and checked it, to ensure that it didn't encourage, endorse or otherwise prompt or promote anything remotely approaching a suggestion that suicide might be a good idea. Of course, I acknowledge that suicide is a choice which is forced upon people, who are suffering unbearably horrible circumstances, but I want there to be zero suicides; I desperately want for society to take suicide prevention seriously.

The problem is not the suicidal people.

They don't need to fix things.

The problem is their circumstances.

They can't change their circumstances.

If they could, they would.

I don't think suicide is ever the answer; the solution... however it does offer relief from interminable unbearable suffering, so I understand why people consider it, and I understand why some people choose it. I wish there were alternative choices, but society does not wish to offer any, oftentimes.

Having spent time on numerous psychiatric wards, attempted suicide and suffered from persistent suicidal thoughts, for many years, I have been well aware of the mental health epidemic and the growth of suicide to be the number one cause of death in men under the age of 50, and the fastest-growing cause of death in girls and young women. I was well aware of what was going on in society, and the statistics, but I wasn't fully plugged in to that raging torrent of human misery. Now, the world's suicidal people are beating a path to my door, desperate to know how to end their suffering and pain. It's a heavy burden.

Although I've already asked myself this question many times, I have to consider whether it's responsible to talk so freely and openly about suicide methods, and to be empathetic and understanding of people's struggles, and the desire to end their lives. Aren't I supposed to treat the subject as taboo and immediately condemn anybody who's feeling suicidal as "taking the easy way out" etc.? Of course I'm not going to do that, because that's what the whole of this dreadfully shitty society is doing, which has resulted in the vast numbers of deaths of despair we see today.

Another thing I have to ask myself is what I have in common with cult leaders and others like them, who have presided over the suicide of their devoted followers, and other unwilling people swept into their death cults. I have to ask myself whether narcissism is playing a part, and whether I am leading people astray. I have to suspect myself as being a bad, dangerous person, who might cause harm.

I think. A lot.

Of the people who've contacted me over the years, while in a suicidal state, most are alive. A few are dead, including a very close friend. Am I to blame?

I think about stuff all the time. I can't switch my brain off.

I'm never going to reach any fixed and immutable conclusions. The whole point of this entire endeavour was to have an open dialogue. Only through discussion can any progress be made. Only through discourse can any thorough examination of things occur. Only by grasping the nettle, is it possible to help people who are thinking about suicide - taboos and knee-jerk reactions aren't going to help anybody.

It's very alarming to see - first hand - the vast number of people trawling the internet in a suicidally distressed state. It's daunting to be in a position of influence. It's a big responsibility to say and do the right thing. However, I hope that what I write is helping, not making things worse. I like to think it is, but I'm always open to input.

 

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Something to Take the Edge Off

5 min read

This is a story about crutches...

Office chair

Trawling through my photos from the past three and a half months, I found very few which would be suitable to accompany what I wanted to write today. The photos on my phone are mostly of my cat(s) and not much else. However, this photo does - rather cryptically - allude to what I am now writing about.

When I started the lockdown, I decided that I wasn't going to bother with a desk or an office chair at home; that I would muddle by with my laptop on my lap. I decided - wrongly - that it wouldn't be worth the effort of setting up a proper office at home.

As I already wrote a few days ago, I started the lockdown drinking copiously. Every day after work, I would pour myself a large glass of wine. I would estimate that my alcohol consumption was somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 bottles of wine per week.

As I already wrote a few days ago, I started the lockdown physically dependent on medication. Every night I took sleeping pills. Every day I took tranquillising sedatives.

Then, it became obvious that there would be dire consequences to my physical health.

I didn't want to finish lockdown as a fat alcoholic pill-popper with a hunched back.

Because I delayed setting up my home office, I didn't have a lot of choice for a desk and an office chair, hence why the ugly garish monstrosity - pictured above - has become part of my home office. The desk is super ugly too. However, it's good to have a more professional set-up instead of reclining on my sofa.

The health improvements to my life don't feel like they're paying dividends. I still feel overweight, unfit and I still crave alcohol. Ostensibly, I feel much the same as I did when I was guzzling booze, popping pills and spending 16 hours a day reclining on my sofa. However, we must acknowledge that there is a very significant difference between an alcoholic pill addict, and somebody who drinks in moderation at the weekends, and is entirely medication free. That I have stabilised myself and found almost liveable and almost bearable sustainable routine without my crutches, is not an achievement which should be underestimated.

The backdrop to the past four months has been the global pandemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and threatens the livelihoods and living standards of hundreds of millions, if not billions of people. If there was ever a time to feel insecure about money, work and housing, it would be now.

I wouldn't describe myself as a particularly anxious person, but the past 5 years of my life have been spent with the threat of destitution hanging over me. I've been forced to generate vast amounts of money each year in order to protect my credit rating and employability, as well as to simply pay rent, bills and service debts. The amount of money needed to escape my predicament was so vast that I was forced into high-risk high-stress situations, which were potentially high-reward. Eventually, perseverance paid off. There was no other choice: a crappy salaried job would have inevitably led to bankruptcy; the books simply didn't balance with some crap paying job.

So, I've suffered 5 years of incredible, immense stress. I've suffered 5 years of living on the edge of ruin.

When the pandemic started to get very bad in Europe my mood improved considerably. The havoc wrought by the pandemic has brought the stress and suffering that I was enduring into the lives of vast numbers of my fellow people. Suffering collectively is far more bearable than suffering alone.

At some point, I want to stop talking about the difficulties in my past and to talk about the future. I want to put some distance between my past and the present. I want to have a period of wealth and security, which clearly delineates 'now' from 'then'.

I note that my abysmal childhood became unimportant when I started to have success and get ahead in life, in my late teens and early twenties. My rapidly growing bank balance, exotic travel, status symbols - like houses, cars and boats - and adventurous hobbies, felt like I could forget about past transgressions against me: the bullies and abusers were rotting, and I was thriving, so I wasn't bitter and angry; I had broken free from the misery of the past.

My rage at my parents - which has been a repeated theme of the past 5 years - and sad memories of a ruined childhood, which has caused me vast amounts of problems... all becomes irrelevant again, as my health and wealth are regained, and my quality of life improves manyfold.

Yes, my crutches are going to change from alcohol and medications, to be luxury holidays and other trappings of wealth, but I don't care. Alcohol and medications lead to misery and death - they're a dreadful trap, which leads nowhere positive.

I still have suicide as my 'retirement plan' but that's a simple matter of practicality, given that I'm now unable to be likely to accumulate enough wealth to enjoy a comfortable retirement before my health starts to deteriorate. It's something I'm going to have to learn to live with. Or rather, it's something that's going to kill me. C'est la vie. C'est la mort.

 

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