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Repetition ad Nauseam

6 min read

This is a story about being bored to death...

Thank your wicked parents

I've had enough of alienating people. I even bore myself with my repetitive themes, labouring the same points over & over again. I know I wrote once before about changing the scratched record, but I've struggled to do it yet.

If you've stuck with me this far, I'm amazed, and I'm grateful. I will try my hardest to make it worthwhile, as the narrative hopefully turns in a positive direction. I decided that I was going to blog for at least a year, every day if possible, and I've stuck pretty true to my original objective. I'm about 8 months into this whacky project.

When I think back to some of the weird and (not very) wonderful stuff that has spewed out, during some rather strung out periods, it's a bit cringeworthy. Having all this brain dump out there for all to see is quite embarrassing, shameful, but who cares? The genie is out of the bottle.

I'm far more self aware than you probably think I am. I'm aware how bitter & twisted I come across. I'm aware how much I'm grinding my axe, and refusing to bury the hatchet. I'm aware how stuck in the past I am. I'm aware how absolutely bat shit insane I've been at times.

It's going to take months before I have most of the pieces that build a stable life. I currently have a place to live and a couple of friends that I see regularly, so that's more than I had in July 2014, homeless on Hampstead Heath, but it's still a pretty incomplete picture. I don't have a lot of control over how long it's going to take to get another job, and rebuilding a social network is going to take ages. Who knows if I'll ever patch things up with my family?

I wrote before about compassion fatigue, and besides, don't my problems look self made anyway? Doesn't it look, to all intents and purposes, that I'm a spoiled little rich brat, wailing about first world problems, or things that I shouldn't have to fix up anyway? How can I talk about being fortunate at one time, and then talk about being down on luck another time?

When I'm starting a sentence, I notice how often I'm using a personal pronoun. It's all "I" and "me". This hasn't escaped my notice. As a proportion of the world that I inhabit, I'm alone with my thoughts far more than most. No job, no work colleagues, only one friend that I see regularly, apart from my one flatmate.

If you think I've become self absorbed... or maybe that I'm always self absorbed... that's perhaps a function of isolation, loneliness, being an only child up to the age of 10, being bullied & ostracised, being moved around the country away from friends, switching schools 6 times, isolated in a tiny village in France every school holiday.

I try and fight the self-absorption, but it's a fact of where I am right now. I'm broke, unemployed and I don't see anybody face-to-face on any kind of regular basis. I have no passion at the moment, nothing to live for, nor the money to pursue a passion.

Free as a bird

There's a bird I photographed, when I was living up on Hampstead Heath. Perhaps I seem free as a bird to you, seeing as I don't have any kids to feed & clothe, seeing as I don't have a partner to buy handbags and shoes for, seeing as I don't have a mortgage to pay anymore.

Certainly, I felt free when I didn't have rent to pay, debts to service. It was exciting, an adventure, sleeping rough in London. But, I'm not stupid. Sleeping rough is no fun when the weather is bad. Sleeping rough is no fun when your luck turns, and you get robbed or in trouble with the police or park wardens.

Rejecting the rat race can only be done for so long, before you are unemployable and so far outside the system that you can never re-enter it. People and their neat little pigeon holes can't cope with a gap in a CV where you were a no-fixed-abode hobo. When you have no address to fill in your last 5 years of address history, the forms just aren't set up for that. Computer says no.

There's a very real lack of excitement and adventure in my life at the moment. The more that you play chicken with the grim reaper, the more the humdrum daily existence becomes anathema. My whole childhood and career was mostly boredom, so the chaos of even traumatic and stressful events holds more interest than yet more rat race game playing.

In a way, I want to fix up things in my life, only so that I can burn them down again. To chuck things away at the moment would be an insult to two people who've helped me not lose everything that we consider vitally important in the world of the rat race. It's a shame to admit how depressed I am at the moment though.

Am I supposed to be happy about the prospect of brown-nosing bosses and dressing up in a fancy suit every day, trying to make a good first impression with new work colleagues? Am I supposed to be excited about having the money to wipe out my debts, and to feather the nest of my landlord? Am I supposed to be pleased that while death rushes headlong towards me, I'm saving up towards some imagined future time when hopefully I have enough health & wealth left to fuck the whole thing off?

During periods of exhaustion and particularly poor mental health due to extreme stress and pressure, I've talked about wanting to teach deprived kids physics, write a book, solve the riddles of the Universe, set up a hostel for refugees... basically jack in the rat race and do something worthwhile. There's a social conscience and a curious mind that are completely unfulfilled, and 36 years of trying to keep it at bay is just as damaging as anything you can do to yourself with drink & drugs.

But, when I'm well, I'm a realist. I will choose the path of least resistance. I won't burn every bridge.

However, I do worry that the day has finally come when I've burnt every bridge. This website, where my entire psyche and darkest secrets are out on display for all to see... it could be the end of my professional reputation. It could derail my gravy train. If it does, I'll feel guilty for those who tried to protect me from myself, but I'll probably be happy, deep down. The rat race is a miserable existence.

Lego Train

There's a Lego gravy train. Adults like playing with kids toys. What does that tell you about how pointless and boring most jobs are?



Narcissist's Survival Guide

10 min read

This is a story about unusual techniques to stay alive...

Flash Face

I once filled up a law firm's email server with pictures of myself. I was quite concerned that I was dying and wanted to get the attention of the family friend who was mediating on a matter that was very stressful - an acrimonious divorce was threatening my life & livelihood. Still, very strange behaviour.

When I was getting completely nonsensical replies via email from somebody, I started CC'ing more and more people, so they could see that none of my questions were being answered and an ulterior motive was being pursued by this other person.

Obviously, letting people know when I was in hospital was a bit 'attention seeking' apparently, but messages of support were gratefully received. I know I still have to reply to quite a few people who were kind enough to reach out, but you can believe me when I say your messages did really make a difference.

There was a guy in London who was going to kill himself, but he decided that if, as he walked along, one person looked him in the eye and smiled at him then he wouldn't go through with it. The urban solitude of London had made him feel invisible, uncared for, alone. Thankfully, somebody did look him in the eye and smile. Human connection is important. Somebody saved that man's life with the simplest of gestures that cost nothing.

Urban solitude is a problem for many new arrivals in the capital. People have their headphones plugged in, reading a book, or their kindle, watching a movie on their tablet or perhaps just idly playing with their phone. Especially in the morning rush-hour, nobody is talking or in any way acknowledging that you're all crammed together like sardines in a stuffy tube carriage, on the way to that job that you all hate, from some far-flung flat that you can barely afford.

Anybody who shops in a town centre is probably expert at avoiding the people with clipboards who "just need a moment of your time" to fill in some survey or sign up to direct debit some regular donation to a particular charity. We have become experts in walking right through people giving out leaflets, who aggressively thrust them into areas of our body near our hands, but yet we avoid actually taking a damn leaflet. We can walk right past the beggar and the Big Issue seller without even acknowledging their existence. 1,000-yard stare, off into the distance, and pretend like you didn't even hear them, didn't even see them.

I was thinking today about the improvements that Frank made to his story he told me, in order to seem like a more worthy cause. He shaved 4 years off his age, and showed me his forearms and asked me to inspect for the track marks of an injecting drugs user. It makes me feel bad that I've told my own story of homelessness, if people are going to dismiss it because of my drug use that I'm being completely honest and open about.

When you meet homeless people, they are often very keen for you to know that drugs and alcohol play no part in their homelessness. To be honest, I was very surprised, when I sat down to have a chat with a homeless person, Matt, underneath the bridge outside Chiswick underground station. Matt was extremely articulate and erudite, and I owe him a big debt of thanks for some of the nuggets of information that were later to serve me well on my own journey through homelessness. I have to admit that although I believed him, I was extremely shocked when he told me he had no drug or alcohol abuse in his past. He was simply p**sed off with the system.

If it looks like I'm dropping all this stuff about getting to know the homeless, and trying to help Frank, into this narrative in order to big myself up as some kind of philanthropist, you're wrong. Actually, I found it fascinating, informative, later useful and certainly helping Frank helped me to avoid dealing with my own life at the time, and feel better about myself. There was no alturism there. It was escapism.

Every fun-run that you go on. Every sponsored walk or abseil, or parachute jump or whatever it is... you probably did it because you wanted to do the activity, to feel part of the event, to feel like you made a difference. Sadly, you didn't, except to your own sense of wellbeing and achievement. Yes, we salve our middle-class guilt by making paltry charity donations and taking part in fundraising. Charity doesn't work. It's failed.

We are arriving now at a situation where we are in the middle of a refugee crisis, a housing crisis, a benefits crisis, a pension crisis, an economic crisis, a mental health epidemic. Cancer, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis and a heap of other diseases are still rife. Poverty has not been made history by any rock concerts.

I'm absolutely not discouraging you from getting involved with philanthropic work, and if you're a volunteer or you're doing your bit to directly help in the lives of others then I applaud you... not that you want or deserve such condescension. Sorry about that.

Everything's just so damn broken. Life's really not working well for the vast majority of people on Planet Earth.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem, and I feel very guilty indeed.

Slumdog Millionaire

Here I am being driven to work through a massive slum in Mumbai from my 7 star hotel. I'm off to help JPMorgan process $1.16qn of Credit Default Swaps, with a team of underpaid Indians who travel for hours on dangerous and overcrowded busses and trains to get to the office. Do you think I was helping this nation of 1.1 billion souls?

I was there in the middle of Ganesh Chaturthi and the monsoon rains. The streets were crammed with trailers with idols and flowers being towed to the sea, with dancing neighbourhood groups beating drums and dancing in the road behind them. The roads are pretty much gridlock anyway, without some gawping tourist of an investment banker sitting in the middle of the chaos with his private driver.

We can feel very special being driven around in the developing world, and living like a king relatively speaking. Many people fall for it. Many people fall for the trick and start believing they actually are special and they deserve their place in the world. That, for me, is where a person can cross the line and stray into narcissism and a sense of entitlement.

Several friends have told me virtually the same story, about thinking they were a hit with the ladies in South Asia or South America, and having 'pulled' a local girlfriend, they were surprised when later asked for cash. Just because you're not obviously in a whorehouse, doesn't mean that you're not participating in prostitution. Just because you're not obviously on a cotton plantation, doesn't mean you're not participating in slavery.

Economic slavery means using your hard currency (Dollar, Sterling, Euro, Yen etc.) in order to buy labour (and all labour's fruits) far more cheaply than you would be able to in a country with a hard currency. You can't get pedalled across a European city in a bicycle rickshaw for less than $1. In London it's £10/minute to be ferried around in this manner, and you can be stung with a £200 bill for a journey that would take 3 minutes by bus.

So, I'm able to sit about on my arse writing the equivalent of two novels all about myself on a blog, peppered with photographs of me. This can only happen at the expense of everybody who grew my food, stitched my clothes and manufactured the expensive laptop on which I type these very words. You could say I'm the ultimate narcissist and profiteer from the hard labour of others.

However, modern life can make you very sick. My friend Klaus often says "it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a sick society". I think he's right. Just because we are dry and warm and well fed and comfortable here in the UK, doesn't mean that our island is now 'full' and we should 'look after our own'.

We are beginning to pay the price for Imperial aggression and an unwillingness to share. That we don't even redistribute enough wealth to end homelessness and poverty within our own borders, shows just how far we have taken small-minded 'look after number one' attitudes. The tabloid reader's belief that immigrants are not an integral part of our society, is ironic when a great many of Britain's working class are clustered together on sink-hole estates that they can never escape. Nobody from higher social strata would ever have cause to venture into the isolated community of poor white Brits.

Do I think I'm better than those people? Am I above living in a council flat, claiming JSA and integrating with the [not] working class? Actually, I feel rather angry that these people have been manipulated by the media into scapegoating the wrong group of people. It's the moneyed political elite who are the reason for economic inactivity and stressful hand-to-mouth existance of the ordinary British public, not the immigrants and refugees.

Yes, I'm privileged. Yes, I still have some shred of self-esteem. Yes, I'm somewhat conceited in writing so much about myself and plastering photos of me all over it. But am I unaware of my actions? Am I unable to perceive the self-absorption of it all? No.

The fact of the matter is that I just don't want to be trodden underfoot, so I'm yapping like a little dog. I don't want to end up dying young, with everybody wondering what happened and whether they could have helped at all, whether they could have intervened.

Suicide might be a sane response to an insane world, but I do appreciate that it's not a pleasant thing for other people to have to deal with, when you're gone. I've written before about compassion fatigue, and it must be hard when one of your friends or a family member becomes unwell with something so poorly understood as a mental disorder.

Drinking yourself to death, or slowly killing yourself with drugs... these things are clearly part of the spectrum of mental disorders. Substance abuse is just part of a complex picture of declining mental heath that is tightly bound up with prejudice and urban myths.

I had to quit drinking for 101 days, and all drugs and substances for 6 months, in order to be taken seriously. I suffered for my art and my cause: to draw attention to the plight of ordinary human beings who are suffering, not because they are corrupt and immoral, but because our very society is sick, and we are turning our back on our own friends and relatives, because of stupid media bulls**t.

Things have to be pretty bad in somebody's life for them to take a risk with a deadly substance. Things have to be really bad in somebody's life for them to be driven into the arms of a chemical dependency, in preference for choosing life.

Why did I choose not to choose life? Why did I choose something else?




Hipster Flu

8 min read

This is a story about chronic fatigue...

Cute Doggie

Smart bosses have figured out that happy employees are more productive. If you don't have the right culture in your organisation, you will make people very sick. You will be burning people out in order to achieve your unrealistic targets.

Forward thinking organisations are letting people have dogs at work. They are promoting more flexible working arrangements. They are seeing their employees as people and not just numbers in a spreadsheet.

I wrote an IT Roadmap for a company which had just been spun off by its parent company, and sold. I took one look around the little company, and I knew immediately that they had got the culture spot on. I wrote my roadmap with this culture as the guiding principle.

I urged the new CEO of the spin-off company to preserve the culture, in order to maintain the high productivity and excellent morale of the staff. I tried my best to pursuade him of the benefits of investing in technology that would support the staff, that would preserve the brilliant working environment. He ignored my advice.

I quit that job, because my opinion wasn't valued. You can't pay me enough to rubberstamp the wrong decisions. If you're looking for a "yes" man, a sycophant, then you've got the wrong guy.

So, after I left, the culture was destroyed, money was burnt on stupid vanity projects, all the good people left. The profits dropped 90% and naturally, the CEO was fired. I take no pride, only sadness, in saying "I told you so".

But one cool thing happened. At a conference a little over a year later, the CEO of the parent company presented my ideas. They had implemented them. Ideas are worthless, and the implementation must have been very hard - although I had done a proof of concept with my team - so I can take no credit. But it was so nice to be vindicated that I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.

I've been bumping along like this for quite a few years now. The problem is, that I'm exhausted. I've got enough energy to do the job, but not enough energy to endure the idiots. I tend to get the important stuff done, and then I have to bow out and allow the sacking of the egotistical dead wood to happen.

Fundamentally, I burnt out in 2008, working on JPMorgan's #1 project. Instead of going off work sick, I decided that I needed to change jobs and as soon as I did the wall of exhaustion that I had been holding back hit me like a steamroller.

I was so flattened by it, that my doctors thought I might have AIDS. We tried every test under the sun, but fundamentally, I now believe that I was simply overworked. I had worked hard and played hard for far too long. My body & brain just couldn't cope anymore.

I was a bit of 'swan'... looked very serene and calm on the surface, but my legs were going like crazy beneath the surface of the water. During some 'time out' I remember playing golf, trying to putt with my phone jammed to my ear while I attempted to resolve some issue a team member was having.

I am so passionate about my work that I tend to dream about it. I even have 'eureka' moments sometimes and wake up and start writing code or an email. There is no switching off when I'm in the 'on' position.


Rush Hour

My commute to the office (September 2007)


It's not very healthy, but my parents, school, partners, lazy friends, bosses, society and the surrounding culture has driven me to this unsustainable level. People say 'take it easy, slow down' but as soon as I do back off the gas, they soon start complaining. People get used to a certain level of contribution. They start taking you for granted.

What am I living for, if it's not for work? Nothing is ever good enough for my parents. I haven't had a nice caring kind girlfriend for far too long. I haven't got any kids. What's the point of life if it's not to make some kind of epic contribution?

It's not about heroics, and I really don't expect anybody to get the violins out and say "ooh, poor you". It's literally that work fills an otherwise empty void in my existence. Without work to dedicate myself to, do I really exist? My day to experiences would suggest not.

Yes, I know that work is a dangerous addiction that is damaging my health, but it's the only place that I ever hear "well done" or "thank you". My parents and ex-girlfriend/ex-wife would never sink so low as to actually show me any respect. It's expensive, apparently, to show somebody some appreciation.

During seemingly interminable periods of fatigue, depression, you can obviously reflect and see that you are repeating the same vicious cycle. It doesn't mean that you can beat it though. Nobody stops the world so that you can get off the rollercoaster.

So, everybody will be very relieved when I'm 'recovered' from a crash, but the fact of the matter is that recovery actually only starts when the exhaustion and depression have passed. All that time in bed is not recovery... it's staying alive. It's surviving, not thriving.

Yes, I'm surviving, but I'm not thriving. Nobody will let me get that far. When I have an opportunity to thrive, everybody says "Oh, you're fine now. We don't need to help you, we can go back to taking from you" not that I really receive help anyway.

My friend Klaus brought me a bag of stuff in hospital. That was one of the kindest things that anybody has ever done for me in a couple of years. Does that mean I owe him a favour? Well, he was already living rent free on my couch so I guess we can call it quits!

I do keep a very careful eye on my karma balance. I have paid it forward big time, and I always want to run a net karma surplus. If you do your accounting with some surpluses, with contingency, then you don't have to sweat the small stuff.

There are some people who feel hard done by at my hands. My friend John who thought it was OK to use me for free rent, spending money and as a personal life coach to help him over his gambling addiction and general idleness, for example. When life became unmanageable, I chucked him off my back to save myself. Am I supposed to be sorry about that? Why was I carrying him in the first place?

I don't really understand why I attract klingons. I guess it's because I'm a kind and generous person who gives off an aura of success and I make what I do look quite easy, so other people think there's not much effort required to achieve the same things. That's the thing about being good at what you do. You make it look easy.

I certainly have suffered from the "I could do your job" mistake. When CxOs and managers have been fired because they didn't listen to my expert advice, I certainly wouldn't want to take their place. I'm not trying to steal anybody's job. When I was younger, for sure I thought I could do my manager's job, and do it better. The fact that I have proved it, does not actually mean anything... I hated doing those managerial jobs!

Yes, management really is not for me. Somebody else can have the pressure and stress and responsibility. I think it's a vocation, not a job title. I think it's a demotion not a promotion. Those who can, do. Those who can't, must depend on others to do for them, and must be more organised themselves to compensate for the fact that they can't both be both organised and productive.

So, I'm exhausted by having to design, build, lead, argue with idiots who don't know what they're talking about and make dead wood losers look good.

I'm laid low with depression, fatigue.

Sorry about that, klingons.

That is all.

Tucked up in Bed

Frankie loves being tucked up warm in bed. We all do during winter. Fatigue and depression are much more serious. I'm suicidal and I can barely get out of bed (November 2007)



Self Medication (Part One)

5 min read

This is a story about psychoactive substances...

White Water

Here's an example of the kind of run-of the-mill parties I used to throw for all my friends. I once spent £700 on sparkling wine during one particularly lavish garden party. I think I was a bit of a 'lush'.

Drinking culture is sometimes celebrated. Certainly throughout the City, we thought it pretty normal to be slightly sloshed at our desks after lunch quite often. After work was carnage. A copious amount of alcohol was consumed by all involved.

I worked for HSBC for a little over 4 years, and JPMorgan for a further 3 and a bit, before my body really needed a break. At my leaving do I was downing shots at 4am with an alcoholic who later needed a liver transplant. The consumption was unchecked and rampaged out of control.

So, I've not been drinking for 52 days and I don't go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, so I can't be an alcoholic, can I? The definition of somebody who is an addict or an alcoholic is somebody who can't stop taking a substance, despite the detrimental effects on their life. Seeing as I don't drink or take drugs, I can't be an alcoholic or an addict. Quod erat demonstrandum.

In fact, I'm not somebody you normally meet. I don't drink tea, coffee or other caffeinated beverages, such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't take any medication. I don't take any legal or illegal drugs. That makes me a real oddity.

People like to say "I can quit anytime I want" and are particularly adept at avoiding their most obvious addiction... caffeine. I've written about it before, but it's worth reminding people... you're probably addicted to caffeine but in denial. You need to give it up for over 3 days to really experience withdrawal, because you have reached steady blood-plasma concentration which means that it will take that long before you start feeling the withdrawal and cravings.

Ahoy Sailor

So, basically, don't lecture me on addiction until you reach the level of clean living that I have achieved. I'm not lecturing you. I'm just giving you the facts and telling you why I won't listen to a hypocritical word you say until you prove your 'willpower' to me.

On the topic of mood stability: I self-medicated successfully for years using caffeine to fight depression & somnolence, especially during winter. I used alcohol to calm my anxiety and racing thoughts, and treat my insomnia. I had a high-powered job and successful career throughout, so it's hardly like anybody can argue that I was not extremely adept at self-medicating.

Except that one day, my body decided it had enough. I was struck with extreme fatigue and depression that was completely debilitating. If you say "oh just get out of bed and stop complaining" after somebody has worked as many hours as I have done, don't be surprised if you get punched in the face.

It's not a competition. Except that it is. There's an arms race in the City. Who can stay later than their boss to try and impress and get that big bonus. And then when everyone has stayed later than the boss, the game is to stay later than each other. How late can you send an email to the boss, basically saying "just leaving the office now [you should know that I won the prize of working hardest]".

Sadly, that's pretty much how the bonuses and promotions get decided... who's worked the longest hours and raised awareness of just how hard they've been working, louder than anybody else. If you want to get to the top of the pyramid scheme you have to clamber over the other clawing bodies in the pit with you.

Getting ahead in your career is also dependent on how well you handle your ale. Yes, there is a lot of machismo in drinking culture. Going home and not going out drinking can damage your career. You need to be seen to be seen. You have to wait until everybody is so drunk that nobody remembers you leaving, before you slope off home.

So, between strong coffee and lots of beer & wine, that pretty much fuelled the first 11 years of my career. It certainly worked, in terms of pay & promotions, but it cost me a lot in terms of health. Not obvious health, like having to have a liver transplant luckily, but more subtle than that. My body & brain are just not very good at managing without stimulants and depressants to manage my mood... I've been drinking heavily with workmates since the age of 17.

So, if you think I'm less of a person for struggling with my moods and you are looking for an obvious thing to point the finger at, you are going to be disappointed if you want to point at drink & drugs, because I'm abstinent from both.

You might also want to consider your own relationship with alcohol and caffeine before you brand any labels on anybody. You would be surprised to learn about your own 'addictive personality'.

There's actually no such thing as an addictive personality. We are all programmed to like food, sex, gambling. Our brains are all affected by plant alkalis and alcohol and other substances that will cross the blood-brain barrier. You're no different from me.

That is all.

Pimms O'Clock

Cheers! (July 2009)




Compassion Fatigue

6 min read

This is a story about manipulation...

Art Imitates Life

My ex told her side of the story so much that our friends got sick of it. She then moved onto my parents. Sadly, my father was taken in by it.

Damsel in distress? I really think not. She spent a huge amount of time cultivating self-pity and a warped story that attempted to completely exonerate herself of any responsibility for our destructive relationship. I went quiet. I was slowly dying. I was self-harming and suicidal. Meanwhile, she vociferously attempted to turn friends and family against me. It didn't really work, as most people are mature enough to listen to both sides of the story before judging.

I certainly admit to my equal responsibility in an unhealthy co-dependent relationship based on hate sex. But I was the 'weaker' in this relationship, and I was beaten into submission. I think my friend Wiktor accurately summed up our marriage with the following image.

I'm on the little horse

I should have walked away. I tried to walk away very early in our relationship, when it became clear to me that she wasn't ready for a committed relationship. I tried breaking it off loads of occasions, but she kept begging forgiveness for things like cheating, and I kept forgiving her. Fundamentally, I loved her and she didn't seem to love me.

That was a life lesson I couldn't really seem to learn, because she isolated me from my friends, from the activities that I loved and even from my GP and my family. The conflict of interest was appalling. I literally ended up with almost nobody fighting my corner. She cultivated such a convincing 'woe is me' story of her own suffering.

I was suffering in silence.

However, I'm a very forgiving person. She vindictively destroyed me, and I forgive her.

I'm struggling to forgive my parents. They should remember that it was me who eventually reached out to both sets of parents and got them to negotiate my release from captivity, and allow my life to be spared. I found her parents to be extremely supportive, understanding and kind. It's really upsetting how my own were so twisted by her manipulative and one-sided bullsh1t.

I also have a problem with the way that my GP acted. She took my wife on as a patient - which I believe was an unprofessional conflict of interest - and started to see my ex on a very regular basis, and began to become compromised, sympathetic to the patient who she saw more and more of. I honestly believe that my GP was convinced by my ex to act in a manner that was by no means in my best interests.

I have evidence for this. When it became clear that I had few human allies, I turned to technology. I installed a keylogger on my spare laptop, which I left in my house. When my ex eventually subdued me into being taken away by my gullible and manipulated idiot father, I was able to see what was typed on the keyboard of that laptop.

My horrible ex immediately joined a dating website and started messaging men. Supposedly she justified conspiring with my father and GP for my safety, health and wellbeing. In actual fact she showed her true colours straight away. The front door had barely closed behind me.

This 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' fake image of a person had her mask torn down. At first, I didn't even resort to looking at the keyboard transcripts. I just had great intuition that something was wrong. Naturally she played the "he's just paranoid... mentally ill" card. She bare-faced lied to the Crisis Teams in Bournemouth and Oxford when confronted by them about my concerns that she was not loving, supportive and faithful.

When I showed her the evidence, she backtracked with remarkable speed and started acting with some human decency. Foolishly, I forgave quickly. I married her. In sickness and in health and all that. I bought in to all that love and marriage vows crap. Strangely, I still do.

Darkness is Coming

I don't think the end justifies the means. I wish I hadn't had to resort to snooping on the use of my own laptop (which is completely legal... it was my property, running my login account) in order to retain my own sanity. Can't people just be honest? Moral?

One of the moments that I clung to when my character was being assassinated, was when my ex recounted a tale of her trying to elicit yet more sympathy from our friends (I was not present, naturally). She was outraged that they were so dismissive of yet another here we go again tear-jerking tale of woe is me and pity party for the biggest martyr I have ever had the misfortune to meet, let alone date and foolishly marry.

Yes, fundamentally, this is a story of me growing up. This is a story of me finding out that relationships can be abusive, with cheating, lies, subterfuge and people are even prepared to take a life to perpetuate their disgustingly twisted image of self-righteous perfection. Whiter than white. Ha! I think not.

I accept now that I played my part in this. I should have taken responsibility for the safety of my own life much earlier, but so much of my support network was perverted by this manipulative character. Many of my friends went quiet, reserving judgement. They didn't reject me as a friend, but our relationship went cold.

I really hope she's OK. I don't think she's a bad person. I actually don't think anybody is 'bad' per se, Instead, we are all animals that respond to stimuli, to our environment, to factors outside of our control. I tried my best to make it work - that's what my parents taught me to do - but I didn't know how to walk away.

I didn't know how to walk away and it nearly killed me.

I got to keep our cat, but nothing else. My 'half' has been spent on putting this heartbroken chap back together again. I'm off to hospital again now. Hopefully I'm going to have an echocardiogram soon and see how bad the damage is.

Victim of Divorce

This poor animal was the victim of a horrible divorce. Frankie the cat didn't have a great time either (October 2014)