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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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Manic Rant

4 min read

This is a story about image...

Ferret

I have completely forgotten that people perceive and judge me, often by the public persona which I present. I have completely forgotten that people read what I write, who are my friends and work colleagues. I have completely forgotten to present a mask; a fake artificial image of how I want to be perceived, through an entirely fabricated story, which never really happened.

Without alcohol as a crutch, I am almost entirely reliant on a daily dose of writing, as catharsis for the overwhelming thoughts and feelings, which have no other outlet.

I sit down in front of the blank page every day, and I write as if nobody is reading, but it's not true: there are people reading.

My brain has been impaired, more than usual, because of extremely low blood sugar. I've consumed an average of fewer than 300 calories, on average, during the past 4 days, which is a ridiculously low amount. Of course, I've successfully managed to drop a kilo of weight (2.2 pounds) in under a week, but I've put my already fragile mental health under extreme duress.

Thinking about what I've written from the perspective of a hypothetical person who I want to like and respect me, it seems as though my words have been regrettable. I've launched into various tirades against the whole of humanity. I've ripped ordinary folks to pieces, with long grandiose delusional rants, written in a state of temporary mania.

In fact, my mania is not-so-temporary. It seems as if my mania can last months, if not years. I suppose the kind of mania which more traditionally manifests itself - spending money, taking risks, being sexually promiscuous, gambling, drinking, taking drugs, having grandiose delusions - is pretty clearly not present, but I know that I'm quite cunning at hiding my 'true' mood. Of course, there's no hiding how I really feel, because it's all documented here, but that's by design. On average, most of my work colleagues won't be reading this, so on average, most of my work colleagues won't know how utterly insane I am; how mentally ill I am.

I've thrown caution to the wind, somewhat, and started writing whatever the hell I want, without thinking about the consequences, insofar as my professional image and reputation. I don't think it's deliberately self-sabotaging behaviour, but I certainly don't feel like I'm desperately clinging to my source of income, terrified of getting booted out of my client's organisation because of my madness... which is a big change from the preceding couple of years.

Of course, I've not yet earned enough money to retire, so any loss of income would be pretty catastrophic. There's no good reason for me to burn and bridges, and in fact there are many good reasons to preserve whatever reputation I have painstakingly built. However, I'm also really tired and in desperate need of a holiday.

I've lost all control over what comes out of my mouth, and what gets written down on this page, at least in terms of a well thought-through plan, or in terms of some in-depth thought into the possible consequences. My mouth has already run at a million miles an hour, and whatever stupid stuff I was thinking has already been heard or read, long before I've had a chance to consider the implications and regret it.

I would quite like to repair my image, and to even possibly enter a new era, where I'm perceived positively; where people once again think of me as a reliable, dependable, likeable, useful sort of person, instead of a maniac who has to be tolerated, begrudgingly, until the earliest opportunity to boot me out.

It doesn't feel, day to day, as if I'm skating on such thin ice, versus the conflict I was going through before, and the regrettable way that I was acting, but my perceptions are exceedingly wonky: I am no doubt spewing a near-continuous stream of reputation-damaging, insulting, aggravating and otherwise regrettable things, which are rapidly destroying any goodwill which I had accidentally accumulated.

There are so few working days now, for me to limp through, before I take a long-overdue holiday, but that's no reason to think that I can't totally screw everything up.

 

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Winter is a Nightmare

4 min read

This is a story about the worst of all worlds...

Snow

I was already depressed and anxious before the winter started, but now I'm really depressed. I get seasonal depression very badly every winter, but this winter seems worse than ever.

The most dreadful combination of factors, includes the exacerbated isolation of not having any local friends or family, magnified by the pandemic lockdowns, being single, not drinking, unmedicated, on a diet, tired, hungry and generally pretty pissed off with life, having worked 16 months back-to-back without a holiday; only a single day off, except for the very occasional bank holiday and a period where I was hospitalised with multiple organ failure, which doesn't really count.

Poor me. Poor me etc etc.

Yep, this is self-pitying stuff, but I don't care: I'm miserable and this is the only coping mechanism I've got.

In an attempt to count my blessings, I guess I've only gotta work for three more weeks before attempting to take a long-overdue holiday. My finances are heading in the right direction. My weight is headed in the right direction. My fitness is headed in the right direction. The project, which has been my all-consuming passion for the best part of a couple of years, is at least not in terrible shape, which is something of a minor miracle. I don't have to waste my life commuting, which is good. I don't dread my alarm clock going off or struggle to get up in the morning, which is definitely a miracle.

My mental health is definitely in tatters, as I swing from suicidal depression to manic ranting, but the rigid structure and routine I've installed in my life, is holding me steady. It beggars belief that I have managed to save as much money as I have, work as much as I have, and produce as much as I have, while undergoing a near-continuous mental health crisis, which very nearly killed me less than a year ago... even getting hospitalised with multiple organ failure didn't much disrupt my stride.

I know that winter is a dangerous time - a threat to my life - and I had successfully employed some great techniques to cope: namely, getting the hell out of this miserable country and going somewhere hot, as much as possible during the winter. Of course, as soon as I found myself trapped here last winter, it was curtains. We will see what happens this year, but there's a glimmer of home that I might escape both the terrible winter weather, and the threat to my life which implicitly comes with being in the UK during the winter.

The period when I had the most face-to-face contact with other humans, was during the height of the pandemic, when we stood on our doorstep and clapped for the NHS. I was getting a daily dose of talking to other humans, in-person. Now, I spend the long winter evenings and the miserable weekends totally alone.

Of course, almost everything which I hate about my life, appears to be a choice: I'm choosing to not drink any alcohol, I'm choosing to diet, I'm choosing to be single, I'm choosing to be unmedicated. All of these choices are good for me though, so it's not really a choice, but a necessity. I know that in the long run I will have substantially improved my bank balance, flattened my tummy, and maintained my sanity, none of which would be possible without short-term sacrifice.

I'm sitting here with my stomach gurgling angrily. I over-indulged with food at the weekend, although I was still well below my calorie requirements and as such, still dieting. However, my weight loss is not progressing as quickly as I want it to, so I'm fasting for 40+ consecutive hours. The hunger is made all the worse, by all the other things I've got going on.

Still, just three weeks to go, I tell myself. Just three weeks before I attempt to take a long-overdue holiday.

 

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No Retreat

4 min read

This is a story about one-way streets...

Balcony

An important reason why people commit suicide, which demands further discussion, is the way that life is set up so that retreat is almost impossible. Nobody ever asks for a demotion. Nobody ever asks for a pay cut. Nobody ever wants to pull their kids out of private school to put them into state school. Nobody ever wants to cut off their kids' allowance, or stop paying into a savings account for their university education. Nobody ever wants to lose their trophy partner, because they can't afford to keep them in the manner to which they have been accustomed. Nobody wants to downsize or move in with family. It's all a one-way street.

Taken in aggregate, a small bump in the road can easily be understood as something which would prompt somebody to commit suicide. While you might say to somebody who's lost their job "just get another job" it's actually much more complicated than that: most people are only one or two missed paycheques away from major financial difficulties. The whole house of cards can collapse very easily: everybody is leveraged to the max.

Of course, you might say that it's silly to get worked up about material things. "Of course" everyone would understand about having to sell the fancy car, not go on holiday, leave the fancy school, not buy the nice things, maybe not have the same opportunities. "Of course" so the saying goes "we've still got each other" except it doesn't work like that. When the money dries up, everyone fucks off, and then the vultures move in to pick any remaining flesh off the carcass.

Yes, we really do have to acknowledge that we all become highly leveraged such that relatively small problems are life-destroying, and as such, they are life-ending.

We humans are optimists by nature. We always assume that the stock market is going to keep going up, the housing market is going to keep going up, our salary is going to keep going up: everything must always go up, according to our human proclivity for optimism. It's not that people are stupid, although of course they are that too, but there's a fundamental hard-wired kind of specific stupidity I'm talking about: the tendency towards optimism, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

If we were beasts of pure reason and logic, we'd kill ourselves as soon as we grasped our situation: a life of pain, depression, anxiety, suffering, hard work and other unpleasantness, met with an inevitable death at the end. Why put yourself through that? Our self-preservation instincts have evolved to counteract our higher brain functions, lest our species die out, but still... why bother? It's completely illogical to live your life hoping for anything: death is inevitable; illness, pain and suffering is almost inevitable. Almost nobody dies "peacefully" in their sleep: decades of slow, painful and uncomfortable dying await us all.

Obviously, we hope to achieve symbolic immortality through our genes, passed on to our children. Or rather, our genes hope to be replicated. We are, after all, just a vessel for genes to reproduce themselves, and it would be foolish - an anthropocentric arrogant delusion of grandeur - to try to convince ourselves otherwise.

In the eternally optimistic quest for a "better life" we strive to get a bigger salary, bigger house, more attractive partner, as many kids as we can realistically feed and clothe... then we move onto status symbols, like university degrees, professional qualifications/certification, fancy cars, luxury holidays... still we are not satiated.

At some point, pretty early on in our life, we become locked into a certain destiny. Pretty much, once you've got kids, you are locked-into a certain kind of life: although you might fantasise about selling your house and living in a camper van, you never will, because you are locked in, in so many ways. Even if you're wealthy and single, you're never going to sell everything you own and become a homeless nomad. You might have gone off on a gap year, you predictable tedious middle-class wanker, but you know that any more gaps on your CV wouldn't look good on your otherwise unblemished career track-record.

Those who are unlucky enough to suffer a misfortune most often go one of two ways: they're kicked out of mainstream life, and must accept their plight trapped in the underclass forevermore, or they commit suicide. There's no other line of retreat; there's no way back, for those who err or suffer a misfortune.

This might seem like a bleak outlook, but you know it's true.

 

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An Essay on the Preoccupations of My Mind

5 min read

This is a story about a stream of consciousness...

Kitchen table

An alternative title for this essay which I considered was "why you shouldn't invite me to your WhatsApp group" which might have been very true, at one point in time, but I don't think is fair, true or accurate now, today. As the title suggests, I'm writing today very much in the vein of my usual stream of consciousness as I am wont to do. Of course, this writing style is heavily over-utilised by me, but I shall explain...

I've often written about the 'creative' process of mine. I put 'creative' in inverted commas, because obviously I'm not totally utterly ridiculously stupid: I do know that there's very little 'creative' about pouring out the contents of my mind onto a page. However, thinking of a topic to write about, choosing a photo, thinking of a title, thinking of an intro, and then churning out hundreds, if not thousands, of words on that topic... it's hard not to consider that a little bit creative. I am, after all, creating content for people to read. I am well aware, of course, that the content might not appear particularly good or interesting or original or indeed hard to create, but you try doing it every day for 5+ years and see how you get on.

Anyway, I have a list of writing prompts: things which I thought "I must write about this... soon" and then made a note of, so I didn't forget. I go to my list of writing prompts whenever I can't think of something to write about.

The list doesn't always work.

Today I went to my list, and I thought "there's nothing on the list that I want to write about today". So, what do I do when I don't want to write about anything on my list, and there's no other thing which I want to write about? Well, I write about writing, obviously. Sorry about that. Sorry about this. Sorry about everything.

Another part of my daily writing process, is as already described: I try to choose an appropriate photo. This photo choosing process has changed substantially since I cleaned up my laptop, such that I now have to choose the photo on my phone and send it over to my laptop for editing. I had become very used to searching through my photo library on my laptop; familiar with the chronology of the photos, so I could easily skip to certain points in time and find a particular image which I had in mind. Now, I'm using AI to search for particular things which are in the photo, in the hope of finding something which seems - to me - to be appropriate for my chosen subject.

real artist would keep their creative process mysterious, and create deliberate ambiguity, never correcting anybody on their ridiculously incorrect interpretations of the artworks. "I think the artist was trying to express the juxtaposition between man's fear of death, and the sublime beauty of delicate natural entities" some public schoolboy wanker art critic might say, talking about another public schoolboy wankstain's 'art', when they both know it's all just a stupid game everyone's playing instead of getting a real job, because they don't need jobs... their trust funds and family wealth mean they can waste eye-watering sums of money wafting around being "aesthetic" and otherwise not contributing to society.

Ah yes... I promised to let you know what's on my mind, didn't I.

Work is front and forefront of my mind. Hunger is a big part of my existence at the moment, as I'm on an extreme diet. I've been very tired and irritable, so I've been thinking a lot about how rude and impatient I've been with people; considering what damage might have been done, what repair needs to be done, and how I might better manage foul mood and suchlike in future. Various mundane things are on my mind, often: tax return, personal finances, cleaning the house, some correspondence I need to decide whether or not to deal with. I think about current affairs a lot, and I have a selfish reason for taking more of an interest with pandemic developments, because I plan on taking a holiday in the not-too-distant future. I sometimes worry about the damage inflicted on my house by my cats, which will need somewhat remediating next year, I imagine: some new carpet, a hole in the wall to plaster, plus some other bits to hide as best as I can, like clawed curtains. All pretty boring stuff.

I've over-shot my daily word count limit, which I've set for myself to stop myself from rambling interminably. It's a slippery slope: once I start writing thousands upon thousands of words every day, it makes it very difficult for any regular readers to get any sense of what I'm blathering on about.

Anyway, there it is: a brain dump, as best as I can manage within the word count limit I've set [but exceeded by 20% oops].

 

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Diet

4 min read

This is a story about hunger...

Burger

I've only ever been on a diet once before in my life, about a year and a half ago. I was going on a beach holiday and wanted to get thinner, for reasons of vanity, which must pretty much be the main reason anybody ever goes on a diet, surely. I remember that it was pretty easy: the weight came off quickly. This time has not been so easy.

I wanted to avoid talking about things which are long and difficult, lest it become boring and repetitive. The combination of lockdown, sobriety, dieting, exercise and various other health-related activities - or more specifically, non-activities - was going to make for pretty boring reading, so I shied away from writing altogether.

My diet is, I'm told, quite extreme. I've been aiming to eat a maximum of half my calorie need, every day: 1,250 calories. In reality I've probably been eating closer to 1,500 calories per day, but it's still substantially less than the bare minimum needed to maintain my weight, which of course is the whole point. I don't want to bang on about the hard numbers, because it's very boring.

Psychologically, I wanted to cross a threshold quite quickly, to get below a certain weight because it then seemed like I was the 'right' side of a bad number instead of the 'wrong' side of a bad number. Ultimately, I'm trying to get my BMI down into the 'healthy' range again, but I've had to set myself some milestones along the way.

I've never owned a set of scales. My reason for dieting the previous time was that I wanted a flatter tummy. My reason for dieting this time is the same, but I bought some scales thinking it would be good to have some hard numbers. I WAS WRONG. I was in for a big shock when I stepped on the scales for the first time. I had let things get pretty bad, even though I was kidding myself that things weren't that bad, and it wouldn't take long to sort the problem; wouldn't take long to lose the weight.

I think I'm about 5 weeks away from reaching a healthy weight, which is not bad at all. I have the motivation of a holiday, which helps.

It's a fairly tough regimen, not drinking at all, trying not to snack, calorie counting... I'm not used to it. I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, but lockdown has tipped the scales, as it were... I've been fighting a losing battle. I didn't think it was difficult or even necessary to watch what I ate; I didn't think I'd ever find myself in the position of dieting. I was wrong.

I wouldn't say I'm hungry all the time, but I am cold all the time, and I am tired all the time. Low blood sugar is playing havoc with my mood and energy levels, and also my ability to think and concentrate. There are lots of times I notice that I'm craving sugar. This could, of course, be as much my sobriety as much as my diet: for sure, being teetotal should be taken into consideration.

The reason for my sobriety is obvious: alcohol is so calorific; so fattening. Also, when drunk or slightly tipsy, I make poor decisions about food - I get takeaways, eat snacks and generally lose self-control. It's not unheard of for me to eat an entire can of Pringles, or suchlike, when inebriated. It's an easy way to cut a lot of calories, by simply not drinking.

In absolute terms, I've lost 3.5kg (almost 8 pounds) in 4 weeks, which is OK; pretty good. I want to try to lose a kilogram (2.2 pounds) per week, just for easy maths, and also because psychologically, it seems like a good milestone. However, there's no way I can reduce the amount I eat without putting myself through hell. Having used food and alcohol as coping mechanisms, life's very difficult without those crutches.

My clothes are looser and my tummy is flatter, but according to the scales I have a long way to go. If I can keep it up though, I will be looking nice and slim for my holiday.

I know this diet stuff is a bore, but I wanted to tell you about it anyway.

 

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Always On

4 min read

This is a story about following the sun...

Kitten and pen

I've worked for plenty of global organisations. I've worked on plenty of projects which have spanned time zones. I've worked with teams of people, collaborating from the four corners of the planet. I have plenty of experience working at places where the hours are long. However, I always used to be quite strict about work/life balance. I used to be appalled by the idea of an organisation infringing into my personal time. Not anymore.

That I might be expected to be on-call was something which overstepped the mark: back when I used to be a poorly paid junior, climbing up the rungs of the corporate ladder, the idea that I would give any more time to a company which was already exploiting me, was outrageous; I rejected it aggressively. The idea that I would pick and choose when to take my holidays, depending upon the demands of the project(s) I was working on, was something I rejected, in the strongest possible terms.

What changed?

Well, for sure, if you pay me enough then you will get my undivided attention. If you pay enough, you can buy most of me. If you pay enough, I will be dedicated.

Also, there aren't that many projects which are interesting, challenging, and frankly worthy of my time. I'm not going to give up my evenings, weekends and preferred holiday dates, for the sake of some meaningless busywork; no way.

So, what happened?

Well, obviously, the magic double: decent pay and a decent project.

The problem is, that I always assume that with enough hard work, I can conquer any [tech] problem. This is mostly true, but most of my problems are not tech. The tech is fine. It's the people and the politics which are the problem. I don't understand why anybody would hire highly paid experts, and then ignore their advice. I mean, if you want to screw something up and create a complete disaster that wastes loads of money, you sure don't need or want my help to do that. The problem is, that I will try to make things successful which is a direct conflict of interest with the fuckwits who want everything to fail disastrously. Sure, the fuckwits 'pay my wages' effectively, so you'd think that they could pay me to fuck things up, but that's not really how I work. I'm not in the business of fucking up projects, I'm afraid, no matter how much you pay me.

I'm burning myself out, trying to make a big project successful, despite the very best efforts of a whole raft of fuckwits who are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I've been extraordinarily quick, in order to try to sneak through some success while they weren't looking, but unfortunately they noticed that things were going to succeed, and have swung into action, destroying everything in sight. Of course, I find it very hard not to try to fend off that kind of vandalism; that kind of sabotage. I find it very hard to break the habit of a lifetime: making large software projects succeed, in spite of the army of fuckwits.

Things were going alright. Everything was under control. I mean, it hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been very hard either. I've worked very hard for a sustained period of time, but the hard work was paying off: the project was running on time; everything was going smoothly. Of course the fuckwits were going to swing into action. Of course they would try their very best to sabotage, vandalise and otherwise destroy any chance that the project would succeed. My mistake was to assume that we were working together to achieve a successful outcome; that they would be pleased that things were going to succeed, not fail.

I find it very hard to switch off. I find it impossible to concentrate, when I'm supposed to be enjoying some rest & relaxation. I can't sleep. My life revolves around one thing, and one thing only: trying to make the gigantic project a success, in spite of the enormous efforts to ruin it.

I'm a bit of a workaholic bore, sorry.

 

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Overdue Holiday

4 min read

This is a story about stamina...

Me

It's been over 13 months since I had a holiday. My holiday plans for last year got really screwed up. I need to have a couple of winter holidays, for mental health reasons - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) exacerbates my bipolar, and can make me suicidally depressed, as was proven last Christmas. I ended up spending Christmas and New Year in a hospital bed, instead of on a beach, because that's what happens.

Of course I can technically keep working for years, without a holiday. The problem is, I get tired and irritable, which damages my relationship with my colleagues. Nobody wants to work with somebody who's tired and irritable.

The past 13+ months haven't just been a continuous slog at work, without a holiday. The past 13+ months have included an enormous amount of work on a very high-profile project of national importance. There's a lot of pressure. Sure, I thrive on pressure, but not everybody's going to be a fan of my style, when I'm tired and stressed, which is to not suffer any fools gladly; I can be extremely impatient and intolerant of fuckwits.

Of course, if I get the chance to keep working on the project I've been involved with for a long time, then I'm going to have to look after myself. I'm going to have to take some holidays. My health - mental and physical - demands that I take some holidays.

In a lot of ways, it's great for colleagues to have the consistency of me being around, all the time. In other ways, it's bad for me to be around all the time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and familiarity breeds contempt etc.

One of the bosses who I admired the most, even if I didn't particularly like him, was notoriously short-tempered and impatient. He was extremely quick-witted and blazingly quick at everything he did. I always swore I would never ape his demeanour, because it wasn't very pleasant for colleagues, but when I came to building and running my first startup, I admit that I had a very sharp tongue; I reduced my co-founder to tears.

The boss who I attempt to copy, is a guy who was a 'shit umbrella' for the team: he fended off all the pressure, and kept the workload and general demands at a reasonable level, so that the engineering team could work without unhelpful and annoying people hanging around saying "is it done yet?" constantly. He used to give estimates which were extremely conservative - being over-optimistic, over-promising, will always lead to stress, pressure, being rushed, and ultimately a poor quality, late and disappointing outcome. My ex-boss created a great environment to work in, and I'll never forget that.

As discussed at length, I'm desperate to achieve financial security, and as such there's a great temptation to never take any holiday, when I suffer a double-whammy financial blow when I take a holiday: the loss of earnings AND the cost of the holiday. Of course, it's a false economy if I end up getting sick or losing my job, because I've overworked myself, but I've always taken things to the extreme.

I have no idea how or when I'm going to take a holiday, especially in the context of a second-wave of Coronavirus and the subsequent second lockdown. Already, the UK has more new cases than the UK's own threshold for quarantining visitors from another country. I feel pretty certain that I would end up spending my entire holiday in the hotel room, under quarantine. Another consideration is that I'm now single, and as such, would be holidaying alone, which I would hate.

I do need to take a holiday, and I will always find a way to achieve something if I set my mind to it, but there are many reasons not to take a holiday - money, coronavirus - and the prospect of being abroad, alone, is not enthusing me to the idea.

 

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What Next?

4 min read

This is a story about dreams...

Penny

Here is money. Don't spend it all at once. A starving African child would be grateful to have this money. A boomer could buy a house, go out to the cinema, get a taxi home and still have change left, from this money.

A conversation I keep having with a friend who also suffers from existential angst, ennui and general loathing of the rat race, is what I'd do if I was free from the tyranny of rent/mortgage and career considerations. My friend thinks that things would be no different, except perhaps I would be bored. I disagree, but I don't have an easy answer. I have no burning desire to re-train as a landscape gardener or a vet. I have no desire to swap one career - profession - for a different one.

Having had a 23 year long career, and previously - as a child - suffered the consequences of my parents being lazy loser drop-out druggie bums, who refused to get a job and stop scrounging off their parents. My childhood experiences certainly made me want to go a very different way with my life: to be a valuable, productive member of society; to make a contribution; to have a career and a profession. Now, I want to drop out. I want to drop out of the rat race. I want to be a bum; a tramp even.

The time I spent homeless was chaotic, traumatic and stressful at times, but I have very fond memories of a lot of the time, where I connected with people, community; I had a social life. Life was enjoyable. Now it is not.

The friends who I have, who are free from the tyranny of a bullshit job which they can't afford to lose, lest they lose their home, their money, their credit rating and their dignity... they are not bored. They are busy. They spend time talking to people, about stuff other than how horrible the commute to the office is, and other job-related stuff. They find people they like and they hang out with them, instead of being coerced into spending the vast majority of their waking hours, corralled together with people who are equally resentful about having the prime years of their lives robbed so cheaply.

The gap-year-university-I-built-a-school-in-africa-yah-boo-jolly-hockey-sticks brigade are perhaps happy with their lives, because they had pleasant privileged upbringings, in private or selective schools, surrounded by other socioeconomically advantaged kids at all stages, including when they went to university, which continued into first jobs... marry the girl of your dreams and you've always got plenty of money for a house, car, holiday, and school fees for the next generation to carry on doing what you've always done - the best of everything, always.

We must consider that I never went travelling and I never went to university. Couldn't afford it.

I enjoyed a bit of the London young professional scene, but it's quite an uphill battle if you don't have your group of university buddies as a social group.

I found a group of kitesurfers, who became my social group, which was wonderful.

But it all went wrong. They've all got kids now, but I'm divorced. The childless man, who doesn't fit in anywhere. People have moved on with their lives.

Being homeless was great. Homeless people are a community. It's important to be part of a community.

Obviously I don't aim to be homeless, but I am considering it. Such is the extreme level of my misery, that I feel like I'd be happier homeless; cut loose from the tyranny of capitalism, rent/mortgage, career, salary, job, office, commute and all the rest of it, which makes no sense when none of the rewards are there - I'm not supporting a family, I'm not raising children, I'm not benefitting from any work-related social life.

What next? Seriously, I just want to drop out, and to find other drop-outs; other people who couldn't stand the rat race so much, that they ditched their mortgages/rent, careers and other things which are like a miserable trap, unless you are coerced into that system, because you need to provide a decent home for a child to grow up in, which my parents never did. I can be a nomad and at least I won't be fucking up any children's lives.

 

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Antisocial

3 min read

This is a story about FOMO...

Street art

Saturday night. Saturday night is supposed to be the highlight of the week. Saturday night is supposed to be special. For me, I dread Saturday night, and indeed the whole weekend. I used to live for the weekend. What happened?

In order to dig myself out of a desperately dire situation, I had to knuckle down and work super hard, for a very prolonged period. I was sick for 9 months out of 12, for a few years, which cost me a fortune in rent and bills, when I had no income to pay with. I've been paying a heavy price for simply being alive. I was being crushed under the enormous financial burden of breathing, sleeping and eating.

I've dug myself out of the hole now.

However, I'm still running scared.

In order to get well and truly out of the hole, I've not been on holiday, I've not travelled, socialised, or made any purchases. I've been living a monastic life.

Seriously.

In the space of nearly 6 months, I saw three people. That's about half a person per month. I've been seing less than one person every month, for half a year. That's crazy.

It's not that I haven't wanted to socialise, but my life got pretty smashed to bits, plus lockdown made things complex. Lots of people endured lengthy lockdowns, seeing very few people, but nobody's had a lockdown quite like me. Nobody who's working and seemingly functional, I must say... I'm sure there are lots of elderly people who have a greater claim to loneliness and isolation than I do.

Why aren't I doing anything about it?

Well, it gets difficult in later life. I moved away from London and Bournemouth, where I have most of my friends. Making friends in a new city is hard at the best of times, and worse still when you're 41 years old; worse still in the middle of a global pandemic.

I have my cat. She's lovely. She's my companion; my furry friend. She keeps me company.

A friend invited me out on Saturday evening, and we met a mutual friend. It was extremely nice. Total surprise, to be out socialising on a Saturday night. I hadn't planned for it at all. I was at home getting drunk; drowning my sorrows. Poor me, poor me; pour me another drink... lol not really, I don't feel sorry for myself except the near-impossible task of digging myself out of the aforementioned hole, but at least I have the opportunity, unlike some.

I'm not antisocial, I'm just under a lot of pressure; I'm fighting for my life; I'm trying to get back to a position of financial security - health, wealth and prosperity.

I don't suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) because my life has been dysfunctional for so long. When I do go out socialising, I enjoy myself immensely, but I can't see an easy way to get a social life at the moment. I'm lucky that I have a handful of local friends who make the effort to invite me out, from time to time.

I'm not antisocial. I'm getting back on my feet, slowly.

 

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Repeating Myself

4 min read

This is a story about being in lockdown...

Rat race

I didn't write during the total lockdown of the pandemic, quite deliberately, because I knew that I would get very repetitive, and that I would drive myself slightly insane. Having insight into my own mind, and being able to introspect, is a great gift - at times - but when artificially constrained, such as being in lockdown, it's difficult not to overthink, and to over-fixate on the discomfort of the situation; better to just go with the flow.

I'm still in lockdown.

Of course, I can now travel to the shops, visit a café or restaurant, travel, and do lots of other things, which I previously couldn't. That's correct in theory but in practice, I'm still in lockdown. I only leave the house to buy food.

It's not through choice that I'm in lockdown, although it appears, at first glance, to be the case.

Theoretically, I'm rich again; debt free and with some savings in the bank. However, the economy looks totally screwed, forcing me to consider the security of my future income, and of course my housing security and other important essential needs. Having been homeless and slept rough, I'm more reluctant than most to go back to living on the streets, especially after working so hard to get back on my feet.

So, I'm working as hard as I can, for as long as I can. Given the opportunity to earn money in a global pandemic, and a global recession, I'm going to fill my war chest as full as I can.

It's miserable.

Most people have got their "summer holiday" heads on in the Northern Hemisphere. Most people's moods are 'artificially' lifted by the warm summer weather, despite the backdrop of a rampaging pandemic and terrible recession. Of course, things have been artificially propped up, to temporarily stave off the wave of redundancies, evictions, bankruptcies and other cataclysmic economic events, which will hit like a tsunami in the autumn. Most ordinary people are overjoyed the lockdown is lifted and are enjoying their regained freedoms, with seemingly little regard for the bleak future.

Not me.

I'm miserable.

Of course, if I've managed to "make hay while the sun shines" then I'll be somewhat better placed to ride out the storm than those ordinary people who are currently frolicking in the sun. On the flip side, they'll be happier and more well rested. I'm risking burnout and/or breakdown, pushing myself as hard as I'm pushing myself... but all I want is COLD. HARD. CASH. As much cash as possible AND I WANT IT NOW.

Waking up every morning, there's a finite amount of money I can earn, because time and energy are finite quantities. This is simultaneously a motivation ("I can earn a lot of money today") and a something which is quite depressing ("I can only earn a small amount versus what I need").

Perhaps if you saw my personal finances, you would think that my mentality is vulgar; privileged. However, my mentality is based on many years spent homeless; destitute. Of course, I'm fortunate that my life isn't ruined irreparably, and that I've enjoyed the occasional period of exceptionally high quality of life, in-between the chaos, trauma and near-death experiences.

Because it's a marathon, not a sprint, I am whinging and complaining the whole way. I try not to, but I'm not built for steady plodding. I want to get rich quick, or die trying... anything else is intolerable.

Of course the reality, compared with most ordinary people, is that I am getting rich quick. I'm absolutely sure that you would have no problem at all, thinking of really great ways that you could spend my so-called 'disposable' income. However, I don't look at that money as 'disposable'... I look at it with despair, knowing that it's not enough to give me the security I need, to protect me against homelessness, destitution, bankruptcy, and all the other things which nearly killed me.

Sorry for repeating myself.

 

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