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My name is Nick Grant and I have manic depression. I write every day about living with bipolar disorder. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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An Apology

6 min read

This is a story about remorse...

My kitty

There's a lot of good reasons why we don't steal people's medication.

Firstly, theft is illegal. There is no defence against the crime of theft. You could rob a bank and claim that you were going to give the money to charity, but I'm afraid that's no defence. You could claim that you didn't know theft was a crime, but ignorance is no defence. You could claim that you were keeping somebody safe, by stealing something of theirs that was dangerous: perhaps you stole a fast motorbike, and your defence is that you wanted to prevent injury or death. Unfortunately, while these arguments might give the court judge cause to be more lenient in their sentencing, the crime of theft is a clear-cut thing: you simply need to permanently deprive the owner of something that they own, and you have committed a crime. No defence. It's a crime. It's that simple.

Secondly, some medications require you to have a prescription to have them in your possession. There are lots of medications which are controlled drugs and as such, to have stolen those medications would mean that you have committed a second crime: possession of a controlled substance, without a prescription. Again, there's no defence for being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, unless you have signed documentation proving that you are authorised to collect a prescription from a pharmacy, on somebody else's behalf.

Thirdly, some medications will cause seizures and death if the patient abruptly stops taking them. Many medications raise the seizure threshold, and when medication is stolen and the patient is forced to abruptly cease taking the pills, then the seizure threshold is lowered so substantially that the result is very bad seizures - grand mal - which can cause physical injuries as well as death. This would be gross negligence, or gross negligence manslaughter in the event of a death.

Fourthly, while incredibly ignorant people might think that they are being "helpful" by stealing medications, if their fantasies are incited by other people - abusing a position of respect and making misleading representations that they know what the f**k they're talking about - then those people become part of what's called a joint enterprise or common purpose crime. It doesn't actually matter who committed the crimes - all the parties in the conspiracy are equally guilty.

Fifthly, it does not even matter if the crime(s) are actually committed or not. If there was a conspiracy to commit a crime which was never acted upon, then that conspiracy can still be prosecuted as a crime.

In short, don't steal other people's medications, or even plan or advise to attempt such a thing, because you are breaking at least four laws. Criminal law is not based on precedent and interpretation. It's open-and-shut: you clearly broke the law, so you must be prosecuted and punished.

Because I suffer from Bipolar Affective Disorder, I am prescribed lamotrigine, which is an anticonvulsant. Epileptics are prescribed lamotrigine, because it raises the seizure threshold. It is extremely dangerous to stop taking lamotrigine abruptly, whether you are epileptic or not, because you are likely to have life-threatening seizures.

My ex-girlfriend, with incitement from 5 others acting in a criminal joint enterprise, conspired to steal a large number of different medications from me, with no fewer than 3 of the medications being likely to cause seizures, injury and death, when I discovered the theft and was unable to take my pills as normal. The theft was a smash-and-grab, where there was clearly no consideration for the immense harm that was likely to come to me, but also, medications were stolen in a manner that clearly proved that it was an act of incredible stupidity; utter recklessness and shocking ignorance.

Would you rummage through the drawers and medicine cabinet of a home in which you were a guest? If you were so incredibly rude and privacy-invading as to do so, and you happened to find items which were embarrassing, would you tell all your friends? Would you humiliate the poor person who trusted you to act with the duty of care towards their privacy, which they were owed?

It shocked me when a friend sent me a message asking about a particular medication - which it later emerged had been stolen - and was mocking and humiliating me about this. My most private, confidential, embarrassing, secret and sensitive medical information had been abused in the most horrible disgusting way. Without a single care about violating my dignity, humiliating me, embarrassing me and betraying my confidence, my ex-girlfriend carelessly boasted to her co-conspirators about the medications she had stolen from me. This medication can be bought over-the-counter in any chemist, without a prescription, has no abuse potential and has no potential to cause an overdose. Why steal it? Why boast to her co-conspirators she'd stolen it?

I did get an apology from my ex-girlfriend, but I doubt she feels any remorse. I suspect it would take criminal prosecution for her to realise that her actions were wicked and wrong, and there was no excuse for the risk she placed my life in, the violation of the sanctity of my private home, the violation of my dignity, the humiliation and embarrassment she caused me by violating my confidential medical details. She's a horrible person, although I will say that without the incitement of the co-conspirators in the criminal joint enterprise, she would have been less likely to commit the crimes - although this does not forgive her behaviour, nor absolve her of her crimes.

Getting an apology out of the ex-friend who was a co-conspirator in the criminal joint enterprise, who then began to criminally harass me, sending me numerous unwanted offensive messages, emails and letters, which caused me a great deal of humiliation and embarrassment, violated my dignity, and was particularly intimidating regarding the confidentiality of my private medical details.

My ex-girlfriend's mother did feed my cat while I was in hospital, which was very kind of her, and I want to thank her, but when I arrived at my ex-girlfriend's house and demanded the return of my keys, the atmosphere was not conducive to saying thank you for the mother's kindness, which she had shown to my cat.

I suppose when you are faced with an individual who has threatened to pursue criminal charges against your daughter, the parental instinct probably kicked in and she would have denied that her daughter was a murderer, even if she'd seen her plunge the knife repeatedly into the victim's body.

Anyway, this is a simple message: don't steal people's stuff, OK. Especially medication, which is a matter of life-or death. If somebody tells you that it's "OK" or "the right thing to do" then they're wrong - they are inciting you to commit a crime, and they themselves are co-conspirators in that joint enterprise crime too, and will be prosecuted equally under the law.

 

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I Let My Friend Commit Suicide

8 min read

This is a story about playing god...

Phone

On the 10th of December 2017, a very close friend of mine got me a job at an investment bank. He knew that I was virtually bankrupt. He knew that I had very nearly managed to commit suicide. He knew that my self-esteem was at rock bottom and that I had nothing going for me: no fixed abode, no money, mountainous debts, alcoholism and large gaps on my CV which were difficult to explain.

My friend rang me up and asked if I was sober enough to create a piece of software for the bank he was working for. I said that I could be as drunk as a skunk and still make a decent software system, but that I wasn't in too bad shape - he could count on me to deliver a successful project, if he recommended me as a freelance software engineer to his boss.

If you're particularly interested in the more identity-theft worthy items of my story, I present to you above, the proof that I had proudly put on my suit and gone to work in the Square Mile - also known as the City of London - thanks to the endorsement of my friend. I had spent the day before with my friend and his boss in Warsaw, where they were based, and I was allowed to work in the London office, which is pictured.

A year later my friend phoned me and told me that he was going to commit suicide, by taking an overdose of insulin. I asked him how much insulin he possessed and in what form - vials and 'rapid delivery' pen cartridges - so I could calculate how many doses of insulin he had, and whether it was a lethal dose.

Insulin aspart units is what the layman needs to understand. One 10ml vial might contain 1,000 units. One 3ml pen cartridge might contain 300 units. The important thing is to add up all the vials and cartridges that somebody has, and then you can work out how many units of insulin aspart they have in their possession. My friend confirmed that he had many thousands of units of insulin aspart. The highest recorded survival of an insulin overdose was much lower than the amount my friend possessed, and that patient was left very badly brain damaged. In short, it was a credible suicide threat.

(FYI: people have made surprisingly frequent disclosures to me that they plan to commit suicide by overdose, but this was the first credible overdose plan I'd heard)

So, having scoured the medical literature for the LD50 - the dose that will kill 50% of people - and found that my friend could definitely commit suicide with his insulin, I then did further reading about how long it would take him to die, how long he would remain in a state where he could be saved, and how much suffering and pain he would endure.

Incidentally, he phoned me on a Monday morning while I was at work. I was in Wales and he was in Poland. I was frantically doing this research as rapidly as I could, while trying to keep my friend talking to me; stalling him from following through with his plans.

My research concluded that he would suffer a short period of panic and disorientation - including extreme hunger - before blacking out. He would quickly fall into a hypoglycaemic coma, and would suffer no pain.

Far more disturbingly, my research concluded that he could be 'saved' by rapid medical intervention - an intravenous infusion of glucose - for a substantial period of time: 2 or even 3 days would be 'survivable'. The worst possible outcome would be that he would be 'saved' after 12 to 36 hours, when he might still be in a coma, but he would have suffered terrible brain damage. The case study I had read of the patient who holds the 'record' for the highest ever insulin overdose which was survived, was left with terrible brain damage. All my research led to a single conclusion: if my friend injected all his insulin then I had to call the emergency services IMMEDIATELY or wait until he was beyond the point of 'saving'.

This sounds like playing god, doesn't it?

You remember that time your kid was choking on a bit of Lego and you whacked them on the back so they coughed it up? That was playing god. You remember when your dog was getting old and sick, and you decided they had no quality of life anymore, so you had the dog euthanised? That was playing god.

I'm not a doctor.

I'm not a vet.

I'm not a parent.

What exactly qualifies a person to make a life/death decision?

In this instance, I knew that my friend's diabetes had ruined his circulation and his feet were becoming gangrenous, that he was becoming jaundiced and that his eyesight was failing, because of his mismanagement of his diabetes. In short, he struggled to go about his ordinary daily business, and his health was rapidly deteriorating. I'm not a doctor, but I'm not a magician either - nobody can wave a magic wand and make the chronic irreversible health damage from alcoholism and diabetes disappear. I'm not a doctor, but I know that they don't give liver transplants to alcoholics. I'm not a doctor, but I know how long somebody has to live once their liver is starting to fail and they continue to drink multiple bottles of vodka every day.

Ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make.

My friend phoned me because he knew that I would understand the situation and that I wouldn't panic and phone the emergency services. He knew that he could say goodbye to me, and I would let him die with dignity; in the manner of his own choosing.

Let's not fuck about here: sitting doing nothing, waiting for your friend to die before you ring the emergency services to go and get the body before it starts decaying, is an awful, awful, awful thing to have to do.

Can you imagine knowing that your friend is dying, and that the best thing to do is to do nothing? Every single moment of your childhood, you were told to dial the emergency services if somebody was sick or dying. There was no ambiguity about what to do when somebody's life's in danger: ring the emergency services. EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!

If I phoned the emergency services too soon, my friend would have been 'saved' and then would no longer have had the opportunity to end his life in the manner of his own choosing. He probably would have been extremely brain damaged, and therefore unable to attempt suicide again. He would have lived out his short remaining time in a hospital bed, dying of liver failure, which is a very unpleasant way to die. Sure, the hospital would have made him as 'comfortable' as possible, but what comfort is there in being bedridden, watching your friends and relative weep and wail about your imminent inevitable demise. My friend had considered all these things.

Did I mention we discussed all this? We discussed all this at length. I went to a great deal of effort to persuade my friend of more positive alternatives. I tried my very best to convince him that it might be much better to use the short time he had left - before liver failure killed him - in order to take a trip of a lifetime, and/or see loved ones.

We have to understand that this was his decision, based on the terrible choices he faced. There were no 'good' options. He had to choose between a quick painless death or a slow painful one, with all of his family, friends and co-workers by his bedside, watching him slip away.

What my personal opinion of the 'right' choice was, is of no concern. My friend asked me to keep it a secret that he was killing himself, until he was dead, and that's what I did. I honoured his wishes. I was a loyal friend who did a very difficult thing, because I knew it's what my friend wanted.

"Oh but your friend really wanted to live" or "it was a cry for help" or "you should always phone the emergency services; you're not qualified" etc. etc. are all the very many opinions I have to defend myself against. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

I spent 3 days, not sleeping, not able to think about anything other than the fact that my friend was dying, and then I phoned the emergency services to go and retrieve my friend's lifeless body and notify his next of kin. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It was also the right thing to do because it was the dying wish of my friend. There were no good options. I chose the least bad option.

Today is the anniversary of the phone-calls, the discussions and the decision. Today is the last time I spoke to my very dear friend. For exactly one year, I've had to live with the guilt of knowing that I kept a terrible secret, for just long enough that my friend could pass away painlessly.

It's a terrible thing, but I let my friend commit suicide, and I did nothing.

 

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Universal Basic Income

7 min read

This is a story about late capitalism...

Bank notes

Having been part of the JPMorgan team who built a system to process more than a quadrillion dollars of credit default swaps per annum, and also the system to find out who was holding the pass-the-parcel when the music stopped, only to discover it was full of dog shit, I feel pretty responsible for the credit crunch and financial crisis, which has plunged us into a global recession many times worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. I'm pretty disillusioned with capitalism.

I've had front-row seats for most of the insanity of the past 25 years - dot com, Y2K, 9/11, credit crunch, financial crisis of 2007/8, Bitcoin etc. etc. - and I was a fully paid-up subscribing member of the 2% profiting handsomely from others' misfortune with my snout deep in the trough.

By 2008 I was sickened by the way I'd turned a blind eye and ignored my moral compass, because I enjoyed the wealth and privilege. I was able to buy a house, a yacht, a speedboat, sportscars and go on enough luxury holidays to help me set aside my misgivings about what the investment banks were doing to the global economy, by creating fabricated securities such as derivatives, which were somehow valued at a vastly greater sum of money than the aggregate value of all the precious metals, gems, land, property, cattle, food, commodities, industrial plant, machinery, companies and cash that exists on the whole planet. I was shackled with golden handcuffs - who in their right mind would give up their trophy wife and pull their kids out of private school, to slum it with the hoi polloi?

I decided that I was sickened by the bullshit synthetic world of digital securities and digital bank balances, and the global computer network with all its software and data, which actually doesn't create anything real or tangible. It seemed like the infamous tulip speculation bubble in the Netherlands during the 1600s. It seemed like utter insanity to place so much importance on a bunch of binary ones and zeros which exist nowhere but as a tiny magnetic bump on a disk platter, an electron in a memory chip or a photon in a fibre optic cable. The entire weight of the internet is estimated to be about the same as a golf ball, if you add up all the electrons. It's madness to think that any of our digital scorekeeping - i.e. your bank balance - will matter at all when global warming really starts to bite.

I quit my investment banking IT job at JPMorgan and I retrained as an electrician. I wanted to build real and tangible things with my hands. I wanted to learn a trade which couldn't be outsourced or automated. I wanted to escape the virtual realm of high finance and software and into a field which could make a real difference in people's lives. Try living for a day without your lighting, heating, hot water, power shower, cooker, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, kettle, toaster, fridge, freezer and the myriad other electrical appliances which you don't even notice are there in your life, saving you untold time and physical labour.

It turns out, we don't value tradesmen as much as we value bankers.

I could've scraped a living, but it was hard work with little reward. The work was dangerous and dirty and the general public expected to get everything for virtually nothing. I didn't much fancy working my whole life with the threat of bankruptcy and my home being repossessed, never having enough spare money to enjoy what little leisure time I had. Economically, it wasn't viable to be a tradesman, except as a kind of break-even hobby. It made no economic sense to use 100% of my brains and brawn, but receive so little reward.

Subsequently, I've returned to making software systems for banks, doing so as a consultant and getting paid even more. I've been a leech on a leech, and the cash has poured in.

Throughout this journey my priorities have completely changed. Instead of aspiring to acquire and accumulate vastly more than I would ever need, and fantasising about buying bigger and better houses, yachts and other material possessions, my fantasies have taken on a completely different guise.

I've been fantasising about quitting the rat race, and having secure housing. I've been fantasising about having enough money to read books and write. I've been fantasising about having time and being free from the tyranny of the alarm clock and bullshit jobs.

I'd live in a Soviet-style apartment and have beige products - no consumer choice - if I could be intellectually free. I'd travel on the bus and give up exotic foreign holidays if I no longer had to play along with the charade of late-capitalism, where we are all commuting too far, working too many hours, and living under constant threat of losing our jobs, losing our homes and subsequently being made destitute. Given the choice, I choose equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

It seems pretty obvious that the equal opportunities experiment has run its course and it would be inhumane to continue. Free markets are efficient, but they are only efficient at stripping away people's security, happiness, dignity and any hope of ever feeling content or satisfied. Capitalism is - by its very nature - a force which will price gouge humanity for the basic essentials, such as food, housing, transport, healthcare, medicine and to some extent education.

Our poorest 50% struggle to afford the basics, while even the very rich are miserably struggling to attain the academic qualifications which will allow them to compete, lest they be trampled by the struggling masses, desperate to realise their opportunities. The competitive element of capitalism has turned us into slaves. Our lives our wretched and appalling.

I desperately want to drop out of the rat race, but to do so would see me persecuted. I wouldn't even be allowed to sleep rough and beg for food without being arrested and locked up. Society offers me no ability to house, feed and clothe myself, with any degree of security or quality of life. Working a zero-hours contract McJob is not going to earn me enough to pay rent and bills, buy food, travel to work and have any kind of life worth living. The theft of our time and freedom is an awful crime perpetrated against most of society. The chance to stop and smell the roses is denied to us when we do not have secure food and housing.

The only viable solution that I can see is universal basic income (UBI). I just don't see how else we're going to be able to stop the terrible decline in living standards and save humanity from the tyranny of exploitation by the capitalists. It seems like we're at breaking point when even the middle class children are becoming slaves to the capitalists, with enormous loans for their education, which might win them a low-paid job in a completely unrelated field from their university degree if they're lucky - the unlucky ones end up unemployed.

It's a sad state of affairs when our fantasies revolve around basic needs, such as secure housing.

It's not my idea of a good time, sitting at home smoking cannabis and playing computer games, but I don't see any reason why it's not morally acceptable or right to allow people to do that, and not threaten them with homelessness and starvation if they don't get a bullshit McJob and otherwise comply with the tyranny of late-capitalism.

The idea that we live in a land of opportunity and that hard work will bring rewards has been proven to be a lie, and ever more-so during each passing year. It's time to let people live lives of quiet dignity, rather than frantic futile desperation.

It's time to just give everybody enough money to live in peace.

 

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My Government Made Me a Criminal

9 min read

This is a story about changing the law...

Legal high packets

In 1920 in the UK, heroin and cocaine were made illegal to possess - if you were alive when heroin and cocaine could legally be bought and sold, you're 98 years old, or older. Assuming that becoming a drug addict isn't generally possible until you're old enough to obtain money, score drugs and get high without your parents noticing, let's assume that you'd have to be a 12-year-old heroin addict back in 1920, in order to have been affected by this change in the law, which means that you'd be 110 years old today, assuming you're still alive.

Having tried various antidepressants and mood stabilisers which were prescribed by my doctor, I became frustrated with the fact that most of the medications available to those who are suffering with depression, are slow acting - taking some 6 to 8 weeks to become effective - and they cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction and somnolence. Given that I valued my appearance, my sex life and my job, the side effects of the medications on offer were intolerable.

Through extensive research, I found many medications which are not commonly prescribed, but which had shown considerably better efficacy in clinical trials than the SSRIs and other antidepressants which were on offer through the NHS. These medications were not controlled substances, so I was able to legally purchase them from overseas pharmacies and have them delivered to me in the post.

My self-experimentation led me to a medication called bupropion - marketed as Wellbutrin - which is actually France's most popular antidepressant, but doesn't have a license for use as an antidepressant in the UK. Bupropion was very effective and fast-acting - it alleviated my symptoms of depression, and appeared to have no intolerable side effects. However, at higher doses I suffered insomnia and panic attacks. I discontinued its use.

Growing more desperate to find something as effective as bupropion - which had given me welcome and much needed relief from my depression - I turned to a group of medications for treating Parkinson's disease. These had terrible side effects, including a period where I became narcoleptic. Clearly my self-experimentation had become risky and I even induced in myself pseudo-Parkinson's symptoms briefly, which mercifully went away soon after discontinuing my experiment with L-DOPA, without lasting damage.

You have to understand that it was my desperation to feel better after years of suffering with depression and low mood, which drove me to take these risks and use myself as a human guinea pig. Given how suicidal I had been, there was only upside for me - if I died, that was likely to happen anyway through suicide; if I felt better - even briefly - then I had succeeded.

Through a tabloid newspaper, I became aware of legal highs. The tabloid newspaper's sensationalistic coverage of the legal highs was a great advertisement for something I hadn't known about or tried before. I was ready and willing to experiment with legal highs, given that I had already exhaustively experimented with all the medications I could lay my hands on.

The very first legal high that I obtained was bk-MDMA, also known as methylone. This chemical cousin of MDMA - also known as ecstasy, Molly, Mandy, X etc. - had similar properties but lacked a lot of the telltale giveaway side effects of MDMA, such as jaw-clenching and other involuntary mouth movements known colloquially as "gurning". Its mildly stimulating effects restored the energy and enthusiasm for life that had been stolen from me by depression - it was instantly curative, which is everything I'd ever hoped for.

bk-MDMA was made illegal in the UK in April 2010, but thankfully I was not addicted to it. No plan had been made to help any of the people who had become addicted to the legal highs, which overnight became illegal highs. No detox and rehab places had been made available. No medical support was available. No addiction counselling had been made available. Nobody thought about what would happen to all the people who had become addicted to substances that were completely legal one day and illegal the next. I was one of the lucky ones - I was able to abruptly stop taking bk-MDMA, but of course my depression then returned with a vengeance.

After 2010 followed a period of cat-and-mouse where those people who were addicted, or like me were self-medicating using legally available substances, were then driven out of dependency - not through choice - to then seek an alternative, which global free-market capitalism was only too happy to provide. Out of desperation, I obtained and experimented with every legally available substance I could obtain, in order to treat my medication-resistant depression.

Sadly, during this time I experienced total burnout due to the demands of my business, the collapse of my marriage and subsequent divorce, and other factors which put me at risk of addiction. In this perfect storm, I was careless and ended up experimenting with a substance which all my research had told me was exceptionally risky and should be avoided. Out of desperation I tried a substance I said I never would. It turned out to be fiendishly addictive, even though it was legal.

The cat-and-mouse game of making substances illegal - criminalising the unfortunate addicts caught the trade war - had absolutely nothing to do with health and public safety... I was one of the victims finally caught me in the net and criminalised, through no fault of my own. I had an addiction to a substance that had become illegal overnight, with nothing put in place to help me escape addiction's vice-like grip. No detox, no rehab, no treatment, no legally prescribed substitute, no medical advice, no support, no guidance, no nothing - I just woke up one day, and I was a criminal. I was wilfully and knowingly criminalised by my own government.

My attempts to stay on the right side of the law are documented above. Pictured are legal high packets of substances that could be legally bought until as recently as 2016. These could be bought in shops or via the internet. I attempted to find a legal substitute, so that my addiction did not make me a criminal, but even this route became barred to me. Addictions do not respect the law, just as much as you cannot make a law that says "all people called fred must by law become dogs" and POOF! suddenly all Freds magically turn into a dog - that's wishful magical thinking. One cannot simply legislate to get rid of addiction - addiction is an illness and it needs to be treated.

I'm not pro-legalisation. I don't think that all drugs should be legal. I think that drugs are dangerous. However, it's clearly immoral to criminalise an addict.

If I was committing crime - such as theft - to fund my habit, then I agree that those crimes have been crimes for a very long time. However, what is my crime? What crime did I commit? How did it come to pass that I'd become a criminal, with no opportunity to avoid it given my dependence on the substances in question?

The police, using their discretion, saw fit to caution me on multiple occasions for the same offence - namely possession of a controlled substance. Normally this wouldn't happen and breaking the law for a second time would automatically lead to prosecution, but perhaps the Crown Prosecution Service saw that as a test case, it would have set a disastrous precedent for their new laws.

The New Psychoactive Substances act of 2016 hinges on the central word: psychoactive. In order to obtain a conviction, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the substance deemed illegal is in fact psychoactive. However, as anybody who has read the mighty tomes Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved and Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved by Alexander Shulgin, will know that it's impossible to predict which substances will be psychoactive and which will not, without experimenting on a human test subject. Ethically it is not conscionable to experiment on humans, purely for the purposes of obtaining criminal convictions, but it's the only way that a conviction could viably stand under the government's new law - otherwise the test of beyond reasonable doubt cannot possibly stand because the burden of proof has not been met to prove the psychoactivity of a new and novel substance.

Today I'm clean and substance-free, but I have police cautions which will remain on record for life, and will not be 'filtered' until 6 years have elapsed, which prevents me from working in jobs which require an enhanced level of background checks. I cannot, for example, use my outdoor pursuits instructor qualifications to teach children to rock climb, abseil, sail dinghies or walk in the mountains. I leave it to the reader to decide whether my punishment is commensurate with my crimes, and what danger I pose to the general public.

I take a huge risk writing about this so publicly, but I feel that it's more important to publish this information than it is to maintain my privacy and anonymity. I feel sorry for those who, like me, have been criminalised by a government that doesn't give a damn who's victimised by their legislation, and whose lives are consequently ruined. I'm very lucky that I don't have a criminal record. Others have not been so lucky, because they are not so well educated and informed as me - they're vulnerable.

Drug addicts will always be a convenient scapegoat, because they're weak and vulnerable. I hope that in telling my story, you can see that addicts aren't evil, immoral and lacking in willpower. Our circumstances dictate the outcome - we don't make our choices freely.

 

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PTSD Flashbacks

7 min read

This is a story about re-living a nightmare...

Walls closing in

Setting aside the when, how, who, what, why and any presumption of blame, guilt, morality, karma... I've been through a load of awful shit in the last few years. For longer than I care to remember, I've regularly had some very harrowing stuff happen to me. I don't care to recite the details because there are so many things - these things pop into my head randomly and they stab me like a knife in the guts. These flashbacks make me gasp aloud because the memories are so difficult to handle.

Periods of time that I've written about - like the Finsbury Park Fun Run - contain multiple distressing and traumatic events. For far too long, my life was a series of similar stressful and awful calamitous episodes, which contained everything from the mildly shameful, embarrassing and a bit surreal and ridiculous, to experiences that could pretty much destroy a person.

Of course, mental health problems and drug addiction have featured heavily, but my memory has functioned perfectly well and I've been fully conscious almost the whole time, experiencing the awful events and being affected by the trauma of it all.

Some of my experiences I've managed to integrate and cope with by telling the story, like I did with Finsbury Park Fun Run, and other experiences are bundled up into a great big ball of trauma, which I can sometimes laugh about, sometimes forget about, but memories are constantly surfacing and causing me to wince with pain, as if I was being physically stabbed with a sharp object. I screw up my face and I make an involuntary exclamation. I exhale and I mutter stuff under my breath to make it go away, which it usually does.

When I get an invasive thought, which is a memory of a traumatic moment that I'm struggling to cope with, I write down a little 1-line summary of what it is. If the thoughts keep popping up, then I write about them: I use my notes as a writing prompt, so that I can work through whatever trauma is bothering me the most. I'm writing as fast as I can, trying to stay on top of these negative memories that could easily drive me insane, or cause me to collapse under the sheer weight of them. I could easily kill myself, trying to escape the torment of these invasive awful flashbacks.

If you imagine a heroin addict who's having to resort to a life of crime to fund their drug habit, they'll be forced to commit a lot of acquisitive crime: thefts, robberies, burglaries, muggings, stealing off friends and family. That addict will have their morals completely corrupted by the need to avoid getting junk-sick, which means they'll probably have a lot of stains on their conscience. Shoplifting could be seen as a relatively victimless crime, because shops have insurance against theft, but burglaries have a lasting impact on the victim, because of the violation of their home. It's not that the heroin addict doesn't care, because they're evil and immoral, it's that the need for their fix is a primal urge that's far greater than hunger, fear, pain, or anything else you've ever experienced in your sheltered little life.

I've never been a heroin addict.

I've never committed any crime to get money for drugs.

I haven't even particularly had my morality corrupted by addiction, but I came close. I understand what it's like when you're in the grips of addiction. I can see that morality is relative, not absolute.

My own traumatic experiences come from being desperately sick and vulnerable. When you're sick and vulnerable, broke and sleeping rough, trapped into a life of addiction and health problems... you're constantly traumatised. My life had so many episodes of trauma, because I was trapped into such a destructive cycle.

You'd think that if things were really bad, you'd do something about it - surely the trauma I was experiencing was there to bump me back onto the right track; to get me back on the straight and narrow. Well, no not really. When you're trapped and vulnerable, you're pretty fucked. It's very hard to escape from such a vicious cycle.

Getting yourself off the drugs and off the streets is only the tiniest part of any meaningful change. What about the pre-existing mental health problems? What about the trauma?

The longer I spend in a safe and stable environment, the more trauma seems to bubble up to the surface. When I was in the vicious horrible cycle, there was no time to stop and think about all the awful things that had happened. When I was right in the thick of things, and barely surviving, I was far too busy staying alive to be bothered by the traumatic flashbacks.

Which came first? The trauma or the unhealthy coping mechanisms?

Definitely the trauma came first.

But the unhealthy coping mechanisms led to more trauma.

I got out of the frying pan, but I ended up in the fire. I got out of a horrible abusive relationship, but the destruction to my life - at a time when I was already really vulnerable and traumatised - was too much to handle. Things got a lot worse before they started to improve.

Today, my life looks much improved. Today, my life looks sorted and peachy. Today, you might be mistaken for thinking that I'm hunky-dory and A-OK, but it's not true... I'm not out of the woods yet.

I have no idea how I'm going to deal with everything and come to terms with what I've been through, but my healthy coping mechanism is to write. I write down the particularly traumatic things that I keep getting flashbacks about, and then I write down these little stories, which attempt to explore my feelings. I'm attempting to deal with all the horrible traumatic stuff in a way that lays it to bed; gets rid of it out of my brain and down onto paper.

I feel like I should tell you about some of the stuff that I'm dealing with, so you can see that I really have been through some horribly traumatic experiences that would cause anybody significant psychological damage. I feel like I want to list off a whole load of experiences that were off-the-charts in terms of how awful they were. However, I only want to do that because I feel unworthy somehow. There are people out there who've been through unimaginable trauma - is it a competition? Should I shut up, because there's one person out there who's had it worse than every other human being on the entire planet?

I'm not even going to tell you what it is, because this process can't be rushed. I've written about plenty of traumatic stuff, and it doesn't fix it or make it all ok suddenly. Even stuff I've written about still bothers me, but every time I write I feel like I'm making some progress towards a time when I feel I can cope; a time when these PTSD flashbacks won't be so aggressively invasive and hit me so hard.

If you think I'm being hyperbolic and complaining about nothing, you probably haven't spent any time in relaxed company with me. These flashbacks regularly assault me. At work, I can barely conceal the fact that I'm hit with these awful memories, which cause me to gasp, groan and wince. At home, I can't conceal it... my close friends and girlfriend hear me yell like I'm in physical pain, and worriedly ask "what's wrong?".

The brain is a plastic organ and it will heal itself. It takes time though.

 

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How to be a Philosopher

8 min read

This is a story about thinking...

Thought bubble

There's a bit of a monopoly on thinking. I mean, you're allowed to think and stuff, but you're not allowed to share those thoughts. Well, you can share your thoughts but nobody's going to care, because you're a nobody. People want to know the opinions of a rich spoiled heiress who's famous for having her sex tape plastered all over the internet, but not your opinions. People want to know the opinions of those whose opinions are already well publicised, and those who already have a platform and a group of devout followers. Nobody wants to hear any new thoughts, ideas or have their cherished philosophies challenged.

Thus, we arrive in the quagmire of modern day living. We are heavily weighed down by our attachment to notions of what we consider to be virtuous, conferring greater social status and conforming to acceptable social behaviour - norms, if you like.

If you wish to conduct a real-world philosophical experiment, try asking a person on a crowded bus or a train if you can sit where they're sitting. There's nothing written into law to say that you're not allowed to ask if you can sit down without a socially accepted reason, such as being old or pregnant, and I very much doubt you were taught by your parents or in school that you shouldn't ask for somebody to give up their seat for you, so where did the protocol come from? How did it become enshrined that we accept "they had it first" as validity for possession of something we desire?

One might argue that thieves are an example of an antisocial behavioural pattern that, nevertheless, allows a person to get the things that they need in life, just as any one of us might steal the milk from a cow, or the seeds from a plant - we see numerous examples of behaviour that is criminalised and stigmatised in some forms, but accepted and even revered in others. Why is it that we call welfare claimants "scroungers" and "parasites" but we don't we criticise bosses, managers, slave-owners and similarly idle people who profit from the labour of others?

I feel compelled to caveat what I'm writing, and say that there's a kind of absolute morality which decrees that any action which has a victim - rape and murder, for example - is always wrong, while theft and fraud could arguably be said to be victimless, because wealth always needs to be redistributed. In actual fact, in a godless world with no afterlife, there is no place for morality - when you're dead you're dead, so you might as well do whatever the hell you want, provided the profit to you is greater than the potential societally-imposed consequences.

If you were asked to say what the prevailing philosophy of the present day is, what would you reply? Would you say that we are still religious and subscribe to the ancient belief systems of the major religions? Would you say that we have adopted the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks? Would you say that we have adopted modern politico-economic philosophies, which could broadly be described as socialist or conservative? How would you react if I suggested that we are like a rudderless ship at the moment - we have no guiding philosophy and we are led by vapid celebrities who are incapable of imagining a culture beyond wealth worship and superficial bullshit.

The terrifying truth is that atheism and capitalism have won, ushering in an era of scientific progress, technological advancement and incredibly efficient industry, but without a guiding philosophy. Nobody seems to care that we've forgotten to ask a fundamental question: Why?

Why are we here? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we even alive?

Ultimately, we may come to realise that we might as well live completely hedonistic reckless irresponsible lives, because it's immediately rewarding and death is inevitable. In a godless world with no afterlife, what possible reason is there to consider anything other than maximising our pleasure, right now? There is nothing after this - we just die.

Because it's deeply disturbing to see your family and friends dying, and to know that we are mortal too, we arrive back at the need for religion: Comforting bullshit to allow us to cope with the fact that we're soon going to die. Religion offers an answer where there is none to be found. Science needs no opinion on what existed before time itself, because the question is nonsensical. Science needs no opinion on where our consciousness goes when we die, because it seems self-evident that it doesn't go anywhere at all - you just cease to exist.

Taking the thought experiment - life without any guiding philosophy - to its ultimate conclusion, we can see that we might as well perpetrate rapes and murders and leave the surface of the planet scorched and barren, as we wring every ounce of pleasure out of the present instant. Who cares about tomorrow when we're all going to die? This seems to have a ring of truth about it, when we consider the direction the human race is travelling in. Our laws are nothing versus the power of global capitalism, celebrity, wealth worship, drugs, slavery and the general abandonment of philosophies that sought to make the world a fairer place, where human excesses were curtailed and greed was considered sinful.

There is a vacuum at the moment, left behind when we rejected religion as superstitious bullshit, which of course it is, but religion is also the glue between the pooh - religion at least gave us a kind of consensus of opinion about right and wrong, and why it's better to live life with some view to improving the world for future generations. Governments, politicians and civil servants are not the right people to become a new church. We cannot rely on power-hungry busybodies to provide us with any kind of societal structure, because rules and regulations are nothing if there's no guiding philosophy that people subscribe to. It's a bit like speeding: we all know what the speed limit is, but very rarely do we feel like it applies to us, because rules are there to be broken.

We have created a generation who believe in nothing and want to commit suicide. We have created a generation who are smarter than ever before, but who have nothing to look forward to, and we don't have an answer for them when they ask: Why was I even born?

If you're looking to me for an answer to the big question - why are we here? - then I can give it to you but you're not going to like it. In fact, it rather deserves a blog post of its own, although I've hinted at my answer when I mentioned the scorched earth, created by raping and pillaging all the planet's resources, and the death of consciousness. I've written before about quantum immortality. You really don't want to hear all that stuff again - it's not very nice, even if there's a pretty decent chance it could be correct and it'd be really easy to prove.

Are you still looking for an answer to the big question? If you are then I have good news [sic]. The argument for not being hedonistic and short-termist is that one person can make a difference. Of course, one person on their own is just a blithering idiot who can rant and rave in isolation. We might see that those who live their lives as an example to others are often taken advantage of and lose out because they don't cheat, steal and otherwise conduct themselves without a shred of moral decency. What's the point in voicing an opinion in a world that doesn't care who you are or and whether you live or die? Well, there's a slim chance that your tiny contribution might become part of a bigger movement - a billion whispers become a deafening roar. In a world where no almighty church is going to impose itself on you and declare any wayward views heretical, we have both collective and individual responsibility to formulate our own life philosophies, that are hopefully capable of improving the world, rather than continuing to perpetuate patterns of behaviour that will destroy everything.

Our current thought leaders have provided nothing except the perpetuation of the status quo, the nihilistic vacuum left behind by the decline of religion, and the boom of free-market capitalism. The free market believes in nothing. Politicians believe in nothing. We can no longer survive in a world where we are led by leaders who simply tell us what we want to hear. We can no longer survive as a species when we worship those who exhibit the least capability for free-thinking, the highest preference for elitism and the concentration of the monopoly on thinking in a few powerful hands.

To call myself a writer, a thinker, an intellectual - these things are laughable, of course. However, why do you think that?

 

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Lazyitis

8 min read

This is a story about social coercion...

Unshone shoes

You might not feel like working and that's fine - it's a personal choice - but how do other people feel about your idleness? Although most jobs are utter bullshit and produce nothing of any value to humanity, there is immense social pressure to work anyway. Try not working for a bit and see how people react. You'll see quite a nasty, aggressive, bullying side to people's character, if you tell them that you're not going to work because you can't be bothered. It incenses people that you might make the smart decision not to bother with your bullshit job. It enrages people that you'd be smart enough not to just go along with the madness of pointless makework.

Thus, we see people continuing to 'work' when it's patently obvious that there isn't really a job at all - the tasks that are being performed are entirely superfluous to anybody's needs. Do we really need any more spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations and emails and meetings about meetings?

"Everybody's got to work"

No they don't.

"But how else are we going to get money?"

We don't need money.

"Yes we do"

No we don't.

You don't need to get a job as a baker, so that you can get paid a salary so that you have money to buy a slice of the bread you just baked. Capitalism's argument that money is more efficient as a means of exchanging value, is demonstrably absurd. Yes, it seems obvious that barter is inefficient, but so is a system where we spend our lives on packed commuter trains and in offices, having our children raised by strangers while we shuffle papers around our desk, trying to look busy. There's so much busywork. It's all bullshit.

"But if we said that nobody has to work, then nobody would work"

Yes. Nobody works anyway. Did you build your house? Did you grow the food you ate? No. You work in the service industries. You sit in front of a computer, pretty much doing nothing. Only a tiny fraction of society are actually producing goods and providing services that are essential to humanity. Most people are busy doing stuff that's of no use to anybody.

To choose not to work is a smart choice. To choose not to work is to deprive society of nothing at all. To choose not to work is a protest at the insanity of being shackled to a system that provides nothing but anxiety, depression and misery. Work really isn't working. Wouldn't you much prefer to stay at home playing with the kids, or smoking cannabis and playing computer games? Wouldn't you much prefer to make music, write poetry or paint pictures? Well, why don't you? They're certainly not paying you enough for all those boring boring hours of so-called 'work'.

If we all stop putting up with boring bullshit jobs that don't pay very well, then we force society to be restructured in a way that gives us back our lives. We shouldn't be spending hours every day commuting. We shouldn't be so bored all the time. We shouldn't be wasting our precious time doing pointless made-up bullshit jobs.

Imagine what life would be life if we stopped calling each other "lazy". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped bullying and abusing each other into doing the most ridiculously menial, degrading and laughable tasks and calling it "work". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped feeling so smug and self-satisfied that we'd been busy doing the pointless bullshit that passes for a so-called job. It's madness. There's no pride in your work if your job is utter bullshit. There's no such thing as a work ethic, if your work is unethical and profoundly stupid and pointless.

Yes, there are jobs to be done, but guess what? Those jobs will get done. Don't worry about it. The fact that there are some jobs to be done doesn't mean that we all have to have pointless bullshit jobs. If you want to work, you should be a farmer or a builder. If you don't want to work, then don't. Don't go to an office and call it a job though. It's not a job. It's bullshit.

Most so-called 'work' is just new and elaborate ways of counting beans. Counting the beans doesn't make any more beans. It's far better to have a surplus of beans and not bother counting them, than to have vast numbers of useless people, idly counting beans instead of doing something more productive.

Yes, to toil in the heat of the midday sun, or in the wind and the rain, on a muddy building site or in a muddy field... it's not most people's idea of a good job. Well guess what? Good news! Hardly any of us actually have to do those jobs. We're able to use high-yield farming techniques to feed vast numbers of people with very few workers. You only have to build your house once, and then you can live in it for the rest of your life. There really isn't very much work to do.

When we remove the need to commute to our bullshit 'jobs' every day, we find that vast amounts of infrastructure isn't needed. Who needs all those offices, when office work is demonstrably bullshit? Who needs all those roads and railways? Who needs all those desks and office chairs and fluorescent lights? Who, in fact, needs to take up all that space - office space during the day and home space at night? Who needs to waste so much energy travelling between the office and home? It all becomes superfluous to requirements.

Imagine a world where you get to see your kids grow up. Imagine a world where you're not stressing yourself out of your mind, trying to get to the office on time. There's no need for any of that. Almost the entire world of work is complete and utter bullshit.

If you really think that money and capitalism are a good thing, why don't you demand a salary that would allow you to have the lifestyle you've always dreamed of? In fact, aren't you saving up for retirement? Isn't the ultimate goal to get enough money together so that you don't have to work any more? If your aim is to stop working, why don't you just stop working? Surely capitalism and money can't be working that well for you, if you're having to work when your ultimate aim is to stop working. Surely you're not being very smart, are you?

Your reaction is to bristle with annoyance at the very suggestion that you might be able to just stop working. It seems patently absurd to you, to live in a world without work and money. "Where will the things come from?" you ask. "How will anybody pay for anything without money?". It seems so obviously unworkable, to not have to work any more.

But, think about it. There's a pensions crisis and a housing crisis. Wages are shrinking in real terms. Household budgets are feeling the squeeze. Things are getting worse, not better. Your dreams of retirement are sailing over the horizon. How can we even afford all the old people who want to be idle anyway? There simply isn't enough money to pay for all the pensioners. There are too many old people and we don't pay our young people enough to allow tax receipts to exceed the bill for all those old people who don't want to work. The only solution; the only fair solution is to allow us all to stop working. Right now. Today.

Figuring out how to divide the tiny amount of labour that is actually essential, is a trivial detail. The biggest challenge facing civilisation at the moment is that the division of labour is currently so unfair, and this is creating social unrest and human misery. The biggest crime of the century is the theft of all those precious hours of our time, doing and producing nothing except anxiety, stress and depression.

Unless you think to yourself "I'm staggeringly well paid for what I do - I have everything I want and need - and I really love my job" every single day, then what the hell are you doing, you imbecile? If you think "I'm staggeringly well paid" and you want for nothing, but you hate your job, you're at least a little rational about things, but you're still an imbecile. If you're underpaid and your job is mostly pointless boring bullshit, what the hell are you doing? Quit! Do nothing!

We didn't ask to be born, and unless there's something worth living for, then what's the point of working? If there's no chance of owning a home and having some security and prosperity, then work isn't working. That 'money' that you think's so important, is actually just a mug's game. Money is supposed to represent value, but it's worthless if it can't buy the things you need.

I implore you. Be a famous pop singer. Be an actor. Kick a ball. Do those things that children do, because they're fun, and call that your job. Don't do the made-up boring bullshit. Vote with your feet. Deprive the system of your precious time - they're not paying you enough.

Only by striking, can the workers ever escape the crushing oppression of bullshit jobs.

 

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Prince of Wales

17 min read

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

Another hospital

One week ago, I was shovelling pills into my mouth, washed down with pints of white wine. The LD50 is the lethal dose that will kill 50% of the test subjects. Lethal doses are normally calculated in milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Tramadol is quite a reliable way to kill yourself, with plenty of examples of successful suicides in the literature, for anybody who wishes to trawl the medical journals.

Most opiates will cause respiratory arrest. Tramadol seems to kill more often through serotonin syndrome, according to what I read in advance of my suicide attempt. I can tell you exactly what it feels like, to reach your wits end, decide to end your life, and follow through with the necessary steps. I can tell you exactly what it feels like, during the periods of consciousness, as you die.

Once I had downed all the capsules and their gelatin shells had started to dissolve, I started to become quite intoxicated, thanks in no small part to the wine I used to wash my legally prescribed pain medication - tramadol - down my throat. Of course, I had stockpiled the capsules, which is not what my doctor had anticipated I would do, when they wrote the prescription, but I was getting a box each visit to the pharmacist, with each box containing plenty to end my life.

I decided to send out some final Tweets, when I believed I was beyond the point of no return. I have no idea whether I inadvertantly saved my own life or not, by alerting my social media contacts to the fact that I was on my way to meet my maker.

Discussion of what pushed me over the edge is not really warranted here, suffice to say that I simply had nothing in reserve when my fragile embryonic new life in this Northern city started to crumble. I had given 100% to my new job, my new girlfriend and my new friends. I had no safety net, when the slender threads that supported me, snapped suddenly.

Firstly, it should be noted that it takes quite a long time for your stomach and large intestine to process enough capsules for you to start to experience the onset of a fatal overdose. I had imagined that 40 minutes would be plenty for the first wave of powerful tramadol to hit me, and to make me unconscious or at least delerious and incoherent. I was wrong - I was able to send out several Tweets that actually seem to make sense now - one week later - as well as being gramatically OK and without spelling mistakes.

Secondly, it should be noted that the ideal scenario of falling asleep and not waking up, did not happen at all. I did get waves of soporific effect from both the alcohol and the tramadol, but I imagine that the adrenalin of knowing I was on my way to the grave kept me mostly conscious. My eyelids would get heavy and my head would drop, but my body fought to stay alive and I kept jerking awake.

Thirdly, I have horrible snatches of memory. I can remember exactly what it was like to fill my mouth with capsules, and gulp them down with wine from a pint glass. I remember how agonisingly long it took to empty out all the packets into the box, which I used as a kind of cup, from which to tip a load of tramadol into my mouth before swallowing it. I can remember the emergency services battering their way into the bathroom, where I had slumped in the dark, waiting to die. I can remember telling them where all the empty pill packets were.

I can remember telling somebody - was it somebody at the hospital? - who my doctor was and exactly what overdose I had taken. I can remember the very worst moment, when the hospital told me that death was likely to be slow and painful, not the unconscious affair I had imagined.

I can remember when I started to have seizures. I can remember begging the hospital not to treat me with activated charcoal; not to pump my stomach; not to resuscitate me if I went into cardiac arrest. I can remember coming round after 12+ hours under sedation, breathing with a ventilator. I had a tube coming out of my nose, one down my throat and one up my dick - I had been intubated, catheterised and had several canulas installed, including an arterial one that was measuring my blood pressure. It felt like I had snot running down my face, but it was just a tube that was being used to put stuff into my stomach to neutralise the deadly chemicals.

I can remember a nurse or a doctor came and asked me a question, and I tried to reply but I couldn't. Every time I tried to speak, my lungs pushed air against the ventilator, and I would be left momentairily be gasping for air until I allowed the machine to breathe for me again.

I can remember a different nurse or doctor reassured me that I would be able to speak once the tube had been pulled out of my throat, where it was impeding my vocal chords. I was so relieved, because it was deeply distressing to lose my ability to talk and have moments where I couldn't breathe.

I can remember being asked how I felt about the fact I had survived an overdose that should have been fatal. I felt terrible about telling the hard-working intensive-care nurse or doctor that nothing had changed... in fact things were worse than ever, as I imagined that the overdose would have caused horrific organ damage. I expressed in no uncertain terms that I still wanted to die.

I can remember drifting in and out of consciousness. From Saturday night to Tuesday morning, I had no idea whether I was in A&E resus, intensive care or the high dependency unit. I can vaguely recall being told, but the memories seem all out of sequence, and dreamlike - quite unreal.

I can remember being wheeled into a general hospital ward at some point on Tuesday, and then wheeled off to my own private room. I can remember slowly regaining some mental capacity. I can remember a visit from a psychiatrist, where I again expressed my distress with my situation and fear that I would not be able to guarantee my own safety - what had improved since I had tried to end my own life? Nothing. In fact, my situation had worstened: I had no idea what kind of state my apartment would be in when I got home - my wallet, keys, phone and other personal effects had gone missing. It seemed unthinkable that I would have to face potentially being locked out of my apartment, with no money or credit cards on me, and no means of contacting anybody.

When I did finally make it back home, things were worse than I had even imagined. My laptop and digital camera had been stolen. Every single prescribed medication had been stripped from my shelves and drawers and cupboards. There was one single solitary pregabalin capsule, almost left mockingly on my bedroom floor which lay in disgraceful mess. I need pregabalin for nerve damage in my left ankle/foot... as a non-opiod painkiller. I desperately needed some of the zopiclone that I had stockpiled, in order to sleep after such a horrific ordeal. These are not dangerous medications, ironically. I had moved myself off the tramadol, because it was not desirable to use it as a long-term painkiller. I had stockpiles of zopiclone, because it was useful for these very eventualities. The home treatment team had thrown bucketloads at me, because sleep is so important for good mental health. Where was all my prescription medication?

There was no sign of my mobile phone anywhere, and without my wallet and laptop, I was completely stuffed in terms of being able to get a message to anybody. From Saturday night until around 3 or 4am on Wednesday morning, I had been completely cut off from the world... mostly unconscious, and without access to telephone, email or social media.

Wednesday daytime, the way I was treated at the office - where I went to store the few valuables that had not been stolen - was extremely odd; if not downright rude and unpleasant. It was most unsettling indeed to be treated so oddly at my place of work, especially after surviving a suicide attempt and having suffered a burgulary. I was also fighting off panic attacks and pain, because my legally prescribed medications had been stolen too.

After a quite baffling experience at the office, where I was ushered out of the door as if I was an interloper, the CEO of the company I had been doing consultancy work for, spoke to me to say that he would be very happy to see me for a beer, but that I could spend the rest of the week sorting out everything that now dauntingly lay ahead of me: repairing the damage from the break-in and replacing the stolen items. Life is profoundly difficult without your credit and debit cards, mobile phone and laptop.

I managed to get an emergency prescription for 7 days of pregabalin and zopicline, so that I could restabilise my medication regimen. I managed to get enough cash out from the bank to replace my laptop, but not my smartphone or pay for repairs to my flat. I was starting to be overwhelmed with the enormity of the task that was expected of me: for a suicide survivor to carry on with their life as if nothing had happened. My home felt violated and insecure. There was something weird going on at work. It was deeply unsettling.

Gladly, I was re-admitted to hospital at Accident & Emergency, because I was driven into crisis by the horrendous near-death experience, only to then find that my two most valuable and prized possessions - my smartphone and laptop - had been stolen, and my flat had been ransacked; my front door and bathroom door were smashed up; the place had been turned upside down.

The fact that I was discharged from hospital and ended up back at my trashed apartment at 3 or 4am on Wednesday morning is something that should never have come to pass. What the fuck are you doing discharging a suicidal person in crisis, into a situation where they've got more on their plate than they can handle? How the fuck am I going to go back to life as normal, without my smartphone, laptop or a secure home to keep myself and my possessions in? How the fuck am I going to get through life without the pain medication for my nerve damage, and sleep medication for the horrendously stressful circumstances.

Being re-admitted to hospital - first the Accident & Emergency department, and then psychiatric hospital - was inevitable, and essential for my safety and wellbeing.

I could have bounced back, but the strange experience at the office and the amount of things I had to sort out due to theft or loss, was simply too much for somebody as sick as I was then.

I managed to get a replacement debit card for my business bank account, and make some cash withdrawals using my passport, but after replacing my mobile phone and laptop I had very little money left; I was exhausted stressed and in no mood to return to my home that not only felt violated, but also not a secure place to keep myself and my valuables.

My very worst fear was realised: that of finding myself completely alone in this Northern city with nobody to turn to for support. Without a smartphone, I felt completely cut off from social media. By some strange co-incidence, my work colleagues were both out of town. This was the perfect storm. This was exactly what I never wanted to ever happen - to be isolated and alone.

I thought about throwing myself off a high building, or under a bus. In the end, I finally made it back to where I should have been allowed to stay: the safety of hospital. Surviving a suicide attempt is a big deal, and then to have shit to deal with at work and home, was horrendous.

My memory about how I arrived back in hospital is just as fucked up as you'd expect of somebody who's been through a near-death experience and survived, but only barely. I'm not sure what's real and what's dream. I feel like I died all over again. I have these strange memories of trying to replace my mobile phone, laptop and get enough cash out of the bank to replace my iPhone too. I can remember waking up on a hospital trolley and re-orienting myself with reality... there were lots of things that I could vaguely remember, but they seemed to be from a different life. Had I died and had my heart restarted? Certainly, there was a period where I was sure I was dreaming. Perhaps I was still having seizures, because of the unbelievable disturbance to the stability of my life, including the regularity with which I was able to take my medications and soothe my jangled nerves with alcohol.

I write to you now, in stone cold sobriety. My alcohol consumption has been practically zero for a whole week... cut at a rate that would easily cause problems, especially considering that all the other medications that I have been prescribed have been very irregularly given to me too. Rebound insomnia from suddenly stopping zopiclone would be expected. Suddenly stopping pregabalin will have terrible consequences, as with any of the GABA agonists. I'm surprised I haven't had MORE seizures or perhaps even been killed by the sudden withdrawal of medications that I had become physically dependent on, as well as alcohol. You can't just suddenly stop drinking and taking the pills that I had been prescribed - you have to taper down gently.

In a way, I'm in a good situation now that I'm off all the alcohol and most of the meds that I had become dependent on. My sleep is terrible, I'm in a lot of pain, and I'm overwhelmed by anxiety and a general sense of unease, but it's good to not be drinking so much and having to take pills just to stay calm through some incredibly stressful events.

My housing, employment and general situation is dreadful. I'm being royally dicked over by everybody who has sensed that I'm in a vulnerable state. It's an abosoute disgrace, how people have tried to put the boot in and deal the final death blow to me, when I was already bruised and bloodied and at death's door.

I'm in psych hospital until Monday at least, which is a blessed relief. I have a room with a door that hasn't been kicked in and has a fairly sturdy lock, with which to protect my valuables. I get three hot meals a day and there's plenty of hot water. There are loads of mental health professionals on hand if I was feeling suicidal again.

Sadly, I am having to turn to the law to defend me from mental health discrimination, illegal eviction, and hopefully recover my valuables that were lost or stolen due to negligence. At least I am in a safe place from which to defend myself. Justice will prevail.

I think it's outrageous that I was ever declared fit and well enough to be let out of hospital, especially given the ransacked shithole I had to go back home to, and the mistreatment I received at work. However, I am also sympathetic towards the police, who have a difficult job to do, as well as to the fact that I have received a substantial amount of hospital care, to save my life.

There's a fairly simple ethical guiding principle here though: don't fuck with vulnerable people. I'm pretty mad that I'm the one with the stolen iPhone, MacBook, the battered and bruised body, the missing medications and having faced some terrible stress, on top of the situation that was already so horribly desperate that it drove me to try to end my own life. Nobody is coming to me and offering me compensation of any kind, despite my phone and laptop being supposedly covered under a company insurance policy.

I have a fully functioning conscience - a moral compass - and I am trying to set matters straight that I am responsible for. Even in the midst of what might have been the final hour or two that I walked upon this Earth, I still had concern for rectifying certain things, and I still do. I'm being treated like shit, but I don't feel that entitles me to treat others like shit. I'm in a horrible situation, but I'll do what I can from where I can... although I do expect to be treated fairly and in accordance with the contractual obligations, housing obligations and obligations to not be discriminated against because of my mental health crisis. The door swings both ways, and I take my ethical conduct very seriously.

Sadly, the law and solicitors of various flavours are being involved, which means I can do little until they're back at work again on Monday. I need to proceed through the official channels, seeing as I'm being beaten with a legal stick. I'm outraged that my housing and income is under threat, simply because the opportunistic shits that I've been doing some work for have sensed an opportunity to try and scam me.

I wish everybody would just do the right thing, or offer to rectify things when they have made a mistake.

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm feeling quite sorry for myself, given the shitshow of my life. My guardian angel has arrived in the nick of time to help me stay afloat, but I'm still battered, bruised, organ damaged, hospitalised, under threat of illegal eviction, my client is in breach of contract with unpaid invoices, my employment offer has been withdrawn due to mental health discrimination, and the dreadful ordeal on Tues/Weds with being released from hospital too early, has pretty much fucked any chance of recovering my delicate poise. Everything was so fucking fragile, and it burned down in the blink of an eye.

Fundamentally, where is my girlfriend, my friends - my support network - as well as my work colleagues, income, housing and all the other pieces of the puzzle that make a liveable life? All I can see are circling vultures, greedily eyeing me up as a piece of carrion.

At least we have a decent legal system here in the UK and justice will prevail eventually. Nobody can get away with acting unethically and abusing vulnerable people. I'm safe in hospital. I can defend myself from here.

Finally... I got my replacement laptop working and I'm back online.

Without the structure of being able to capture images and compose my thoughts on the pages of this blog, I've been rather cut adrift. Without my social media contacts, I've felt totally isolated and that nobody knows what I'm going through, although my guardian angel has bridged the gap very well, so I must give a great deal of thanks to her.

Nobody knows just how close to the edge you are until it's too late. What an absolute shitshow.

 

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Winning Friends & Influencing People

15 min read

This is a story about trying too hard...

Coke can

"You've got to meet my friend..." she enthuses. "Can [my friend] stay at your place on Saturday?" she asks, well in advance of the weekend. "You two were separated at birth - you share the same spirit animal" she tells me. The pressure to get along with this new person - talked about in reverential terms - is immense.

She's planning a meal out. At the restaurant, I'm told that I'm going to be sat specifically next to this over-hyped friend, because it's assumed that we are going to get along like a house on fire. That's an arson joke, but we'll get to that later.

Friday - the night of the meal - all my new friends-to-be had signed a card to welcome me into their lives. There was a helium balloon on the table, like at a 5-year-old's birthday party. Nobody ever went to such elaborate lengths to make me feel a sense of belonging; acceptance. I was almost moved to tears, but I had a job to do that night: to meet & greet and make a good first impression.

We were eating dinner - Brazilian barbecue meats - and my 'spirit animal' was sat in the corner of our booth, not eating. It was announced - against her wishes - that she had been on a 4-day drug binge, taking what is colloquially known as "meow meow". Unsurprisingly, an exclusive diet of powerful stimulant drugs does not give you an appetite for anything of nutritional value. Sitting in a restaurant is probably the last place on earth I'd ever want to be after a binge like that. I decided to temporarily park any "getting to know you" chit-chat with her until a time that my spirit animal was in a better place, physically & mentally.

After dinner, the group began to fracture. There were some who wanted to go to a packed noisy pub selling lousy overpriced drinks, and others who preferred to come back to my nearby apartment, where we could all have a comfortable seat on my big couches, and converse without having to shout - a bona fide middle-class thirty-something cliché: the house party.

One reason for the success of the house party is that it's a far better environment for the consumption of recreational drugs. I'm not foresworn from drug use, but to me, addiction is not a social activity. My general personality and attitude - no fear & everything to excess - had led me to drug overdoses of supercrack that put me in hospital with multiple organ failure. My drug taking was not recreational - it was abusive, reckless and akin to playing Russian roulette with a 6-bullet revolver loaded with 5 bullets.

If you have successfully made yourself a comfortable wealthy middle-class life, it's your mortgage repayments and other household bills that keep you awake all night, not powerful Class-A narcotics. To lose just one night of sleep and have the mentally destabilising effects of recreational drugs, has a profoundly negative effect on the week that follows. I never noticed that my weekend partying had a negative knock-on effect on me when I was young, but now my age has now become a factor.

One of my new friends - who's the same age as me - did the sensible thing and headed home at a reasonable hour. He had his sister's wedding on the Saturday and he appointed me as the responsible adult, in charge of putting the girl who was going to drive him to the wedding, into a cab, in time for her to then drive a gazillion miles across the country. "How are you going to stay awake and concentrate on the road after partying all night?" I asked her. "Amphetamines" was her answer. I can't fault her logic - if it works for fighter pilots, then why wouldn't it work for an ordinary car driver.

Fighter pilots have "go pills" and "no-go pills" which are taken respectively at the beginning and end of a mission. I offered to make her one of my special "no-go" preparations, so that she wasn't wired as hell at the wedding and clearly off her nut on speed, but she declined.

At the first ever party I've thrown in my new apartment, it was snowing. When the "good stuff" started to run out, Billy Whizz came out for a run. The white dusting on a makeup mirror started to become a hybrid mix of different substances. Molly came for a visit too.

Predictably, like any party that Charles is invited to, the whole room was talking over the top of each other and making boastful claims. For some reason, my reaction to this was to admit that I'm a grower not a show-er. This prompted one of the guys to claim that he was both a grower AND a show-er. Having been dared to get my dick out and show him I duly obliged in front of my guests. This guy then took me in the kitchen to prove one part of his aforementioned claim: he did have a substantially proportioned soft penis.

I then asked the room for their opinion on a classic ethical philosophical dilemma thought experiment, knowing that it would provoke lively and entertaining debate. Soon, this prompted a couple to leave the party, almost without saying goodbye because they were still arguing about the 'right' answer to a question that divides legal, moral and scientific opinion. "Bullseye" I thought to myself.

With Charles still having a strong influence on the room, oneupmanship raged out of control. We ended up comparing scars. While the girls were not exactly thrilled to show off any evidence of self-harm, me and the guy with the big [soft] dick debated who had the better scar from an operation. This segued into "who's spent more weeks in hospital?" as I steered the competition towards "who's the most insane?" knowing that I would easily be the undisputed champion.

At this point I was getting a bit bored with the war of words, so I just rolled up my sleeve and slashed 3 or 4 cuts into my arm with a kitchen knife. I then became immediately aware that I was so desperate to impress my new friends that I had just mutilated my body in a sudden act of self-harm.

With the theme returning to dares again, my 'spirit animal' dared me to suck my own penis. I explained that without an erection, it would be a difficult act to fulfil, but in the spirit of the dare, I asked if she would be content to see me lick my own foreskin. She confirmed that it would satisfy the conditions of the dare. Without hesitation, I dropped my trousers and got my soft penis as close to my mouth as I could, and then pulled my foreskin until I could touch it with my tongue - it was actually easier than I thought it would be. Obviously, there are not that many people - especially growers not show-ers - who would drop their trousers and suck their own dick for the amusement of their guests. This was a far more impressive feat of courage than cutting my arm with a kitchen knife.

After that, the number of crazy anecdotes that I could tell were stories that all revolved around a similar theme: being hospitalised or locked up in police cells. The stories that drug addicts tell are not that varied or interesting.

I decided to demonstrate my culinary skills in the kitchen. With an unspecified secret ingredient - some of the snow that was falling earlier in the evening - I gave a practical demonstration of a chemistry experiment. Namely the conversion of a salt to a "free base" where water, carbon dioxide and sodium chloride are isolated as 'useless' byproducts. This chemical reaction allows a salt with a high melting point - which would combust in the presence of a naked flame - to be altered into a crystal with a low melting point, allowing it to be vaporised without burning.

With sodium bicarbonate mixed with the mystery ingredient, in a spoon, a few droplets of water were added. The carbon dioxide fizzed away in a delightful effervescent chemical reaction. A few pinches of sodium bicarb later and we reached the point where the fizzing stopped. Then, I heated the spoon and boiled away the salty water, leaving only the "free base" crystals.

What would you do with this crystalline substance, one might ask?

Well, first, you need to take an empty beer or soda can and make an indentation at the opposite end from the bit you drink out of. Then, perforating the thin aluminium of the can with a pin, you can create an area where air may enter the can, when you to suck on the end you'd normally drink out of. Another option - if you can find such an object - is to take a hollow glass tube and put wire wool (Brillo pads work well for this) into one end.

Having allegedly made this concoction and strange contraption - which was all part of me showing off what a badass I am - I had allegedly demonstrated how to make crack cocaine and a pipe to smoke it. There couldn't have been a more "fuck you - I'm fucking hardcore" demonstration of how 'streetwise' I am, unless I'd whipped out some rubber tubing, a thin aluminium spoon, clean pins (hypodermic syringes), a small ball of cotton wool and proceeded to 'cook' a batch of heroin and prepare it for injection. I've never injected heroin by the way, although I did have fentanyl - which is 1,000 times more powerful - injected into me in hospital. Most people are afraid of needles and associate needle use with people whose drug addiction has led them to a completely dysfunctional life that consists of a miserable merry-go-round of theft/robbery/prostitution, 'fencing' stolen property, scoring herion and then getting high until there's no drugs left and there's only 4 hours until you get "junk sick" and have to repeat the whole exercise again.

Before I put the last of my party guests into a taxi - my friend who was driving to the wedding - at about 6:30am, three of us insufflated a few final lines of white powder, allegedly.

My spirit animal had a nice time until the drugs started to wear off, and then cognitive impairment, a drug-induced panic attack and akathisia (inability to stop twitching/tic'ing and/or jiggling of legs) left her in a rather sorry state where it was pretty clear that she was suffering from an unpleasant ordeal. I tried laughing at her. I tried telling her to stop being such a wuss, given the relatively 'mild' binge that she'd been on - just 4 or 5 sleepless nights, and relatively low doses of very impure drugs. In the end, I took pity on her and made her a little shot glass with things to cure her anxiety, replace lost dopamine and serotonin, and basically put her to sleep - there's no 'magic bullet' for insomnia and sleep deprivation, but sleeping pills damn well help. I threw all manner of things into my special 'comedown cure' that would ease her suffering. She was talking gibberish; she couldn't understand what I was saying, and I had to spend 20 minutes trying to maintain her concentration and eye contact for long enough that she could swallow what I'd prepared for her. Then, finally she fell asleep with a look of calm on her face. I don't mind babysitting the occasional person who's going through the consequences of 'self-inflicted' shit, but it would have been inhumane to let her suffer unnecessarily.

Saturday night, I made her another concoction that would prevent "the Sunday from Hell" where the consequences of an outrageous drug binge were brought into sharp focus by the need to start work again on Monday. "I want to order a pizza" she announced at about 11:30pm, having swallowed the curative remedy only 10 minutes earlier. "You have 10 minutes to get into bed, otherwise you're going to pass out on the floor" I warned her. My earlier good work had moved her out of binge mode and into a state where her appetite had returned, but 8 more hours of quality sleep was vital for both of us. The die was cast.

10 minutes later, I pulled her mobile phone out of her hand - the pizza company's number half-dialled - picked her up from the floor where she had collapsed in a most unladylike position, and carried her to bed. I was so tired that I could barely see straight to send a couple of texts before I passed out too.

After 9 hours sleep, we both awoke feeling pretty damn refreshed, considering the way we'd abused our bodies. I'd improved her average daily sleep time for the week, from 2.5 hours to 5.3 - more than 100% better. Ideally, we would all have perfect sleep hygiene and get 8 hours a night. I needed to end her drug binge, save her from many hours of unnecessary suffering and let her catch up on desperately needed sleep. I was giving her a fighting chance of not losing her job, thus spiralling even further downwards. This is about the best you can ever hope to do for an addict until they're ready to acknowledge that their addiction is rampaging out of control. Addiction always leads to complete & indiscriminate destruction of your entire life, health and will prematurely kill you.

I incurred the wrath of my 'spirit animal's' best friend for not condemning her addictive behaviour. Do I have the moral authority to lecture anyone on their lifestyle? I know better than anybody else I've ever met, how you can go from riches to rags. Supercrack was the paving stones of the road to Hell - hospitals, police cells, hostels and sleeping rough. I overcame my addiction to one of the most powerful drugs on the planet, as well as dealing with the total destruction of my life - divorcing my wife, selling my house, losing my job. So it would seem that if anybody's got an opinion that's worth respecting, it'd be mine. However, humans' relationship with drugs & alcohol is way more complex than "this is bad for me so I'm going to stop"... otherwise nobody would take drugs, get drunk, smoke cigarettes, drink coffee or energy drinks.

We live in a world where we try to find somebody with anatomically opposite genitals to us, squirt some love snot into them, and then spend the next 18+ years looking after our blood and mucous covered alien-like midget progeny, that was painfully ejected from the girl's sex hole. Human behaviour does not follow purely rational rules.

Human use of intoxicating beverages and preparations of plants that contain bitter alkaloids - with the intention of seeking psychoactive effects - is behaviour that's almost as old as cave painting, making fire and sharpening pieces of flint to make spears.

My kidneys are over 50% recovered from my last hospital visit. The facial tic that was caused - quite literally - by brain damage, has now repaired itself. The people and places that are no longer in my life because of supercrack addiction, have been replaced by a new city, new home, new job and new friends. Yes, it could've been worse, but believe me... nobody needs or wants to be told the bleedin' obvious. If it was just a case of saying "fire is hot and will burn you" and "knives are sharp and will cut you" then we'd see a 100% reduction in those injuries, by the bullshit logic that we need to nag and shame addicts into fixing their dirty little habits.

Often an addict is conveniently labelled as a black sheep, and becomes entertainment for the group that surrounds them. Lots of concerned hand-wringing and "we need to do something" empty talk goes on, but all that really happens is that the addict becomes a pariah, with nobody nonjudgemental left to turn to - it's the loneliest thing... lonelier even than being a homeless person injecting heroin under a bridge. Trust me: to spend time in the company of addicts and alcoholics who make no secret of their loss of control and the destruction of their lives, is to gain a nonjudgemental social support network that can make the difference between life & death. Fuck any condescending prick who thinks they're a moral authority who can sit in judgement and save you from yourself. Even with my stories of drug-induced insanity, hospitals, police cells and psych wards being by the far the most extreme you've ever heard, I can't tell an addict or alcoholic what to do with their life.

To hear the same hectoring, lecturing bollocks from people who [do or don't] know what it's like to realise you've overdosed and you've got 30 seconds to dial 999, or just let yourself die... it's not working, is it? I don't know if you've seen the stats, but only Portugal is winning "the war on drugs" and the way they're doing that is to destigmatise and decriminalise drugs, despite immense pressure from the United States to stop saving lives and improving the wellbeing of the Portuguese people.

So, that was the weekend that was full of drug-fuelled insanity that would supposedly trigger me to relapse back onto supercrack. Bullshit.

 

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What Would Jesus Do?

7 min read

This is a story about seeing the light...

Sign from above

Nobody preaches louder than the convert. I've been accused of speaking like a sanctimonious prick on several occasions, but let's just have a little think about a book I've never read, shall we? I had the good fortune of avoiding almost all religious indoctrination, despite attending Church of England schools, the occasional event at Easter, Christmas and observing a few other antiquated religious customs.

So, let's start with revenge.

I'm pretty sure that Jesus wasn't a "never forget" and "make those bastards pay for what they did to us" grudge holding kind of guy. In fact, despite my lack of bible study, I'm pretty sure there was something he said about turning the other cheek and forgiveness. Yes, now I think about it, all that "eye for an eye" stuff definitely wasn't attributable to Big J and his disciples. You could say that bloodthirsty acts of revenge and 'pre-emptive' strikes are definitely not Christian at all.

What kind of dude was Jesus anyway? Like I say, I never read the bible, went to Sunday school, went to church or got taught much about his life, but I know this: he didn't think being disgustingly wealthy was a great idea.

I probably can't name all 12 disciples, but if I had to guess I'd say: John, Paul, George, Ringo, Sleepy, Dopey, Dasher, Dancer, Thomas, Henry, Edward and Gordon. For some reason I think that Matthew and Luke should be on that list, but those names don't exactly sound like fishermen and farmers from the Middle East.

What I can tell you about Matthew and Luke, is that they both reckoned that Jesus used to say that we should stop building piles of treasure on Earth. Both those dudes said that Jesus was all about giving up your worldly possessions so you could donate to the poor. The upshot being, Jesus wasn't intent on being a billionaire, building big tower blocks with his name on and decorating everything with blinging gold.

The Bible - although I've never read it - comes in two parts and is translated from Aramaic. Basically, it's a Syrian book... you know, the place where Saint George the patron saint of England came from. The most popular English translation runs to some 750,000+ words. It's not all the disciples' account of Jesus' ramblings and crazy shit that happened to him. There are also some fairly simple commandments in there.

The first three of the famous ten commandments are all about God being a really jealous imaginary dude who demands your undivided attention. If the commandments were in order of importance, numero uno is that you're not allowed to so much as think about another God. In fact, it's not until commandment number 6 that we get onto trivial things like not killing other people. In fact, so many commandments are given over to not saying God is a stinky pooh-pooh head and other weird rules, that rape didn't even make the list. No to murder. No to adultery. No to theft. Rape... well, it's not as big of a deal as worshiping an idol is it?

In fact, most of The Bible is full of absolute garbage. Exodus 23:19 forbids us from eating cheeseburgers. Leviticus tells us we can't get tattoos, cut the hair on the side of our head, trim our beards and most bizarrely of all, you can't mix cotton and wool clothing.

"a garment mingled of linen and woollen [shall not] come upon thee"

So, basically, we know that to study The Bible is to study a laughably backwards culture and a book written by many authors, with many agendas, over several ancient periods of time. You simply can't use it as an instruction manual for modern life.

Now, back to the original question: what would Jesus do?

It's a fairly serious question. If the dude was alive today - walking around in his sandals and his dusty robes - what kind of shit would piss him off and how would he act?

I'm pretty sure he'd be straight into the temples of the money lenders, turning their tables over and kicking their arses for the sin of usury. We can be certain that Jesus was no fan of banks and financial services.

On the pro-life debate, Jesus seemed pretty sympathetic towards mothers and the choices they want to make with their own bodies. Basically, the bible's pretty clear that other people's unborn foetuses and fertilised eggs are none of your goddam business, as explained in this passage from the bible:

"As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything" -- Ecclesiastes 11:5

Most telling of all, the bible contains this passage:

"[an aborted foetus] does not enjoy life's good things, and also has no burial, I say that an [abortion] is better than [an unwanted child]... [that] has not seen the sun or known anything" -- Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

Jesus would have one thing to say to those pro-life people who harass poor women who are trying to get into abortion clinics: "he who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". In other words, who the fuck are you to judge? Who the fuck are you to intimidate a poor frightened woman who's faced with an incredibly difficult decision? Jesus would be pretty mad about supposedly Christian people, acting with so little compassion and forgiveness.

All this Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiment would certainly piss Jesus right off. He would be angry as fuck about the way that the wealthy West is slamming the door in the face of refugees they created, through bombing and drone strikes. What part of "thou shalt not kill" didn't you understand? What part of "love your neighbour as you love yourself" got mangled into "look after your own"?

How dare Theresa May - an alleged Christian - and Donald Trump, leader of "God's own country" carry on in such an unchristian manner. There isn't an ounce of Christianity in these greedy megalomaniacs, who care nothing for the poor and needy.

I'm an atheist by default, because my scientific studies have answered questions and provided truth that makes all religious faith look like a mental illness, but the sentiment - the morality - of Jesus Christ is perfectly relevant, and a useful guide for us all when thinking about how we should treat one another.

I'm never going to become some born-again Christian, repent my sins and start banging on about The Bible, but when I weep at the cruel, callous, greedy, selfish and inhumane leadership demonstrated by British and US politicians and business leaders, I do sometimes think we need a decent human being as a moral beacon for us all. Aspiring to be like the fanny-grabbing billionaire bigot Donald Trump is going to be a rocket ride straight to a metaphorical hell.

Religion has been perverted by a clergy who've lined their own pockets and committed atrocious acts of paedophilia, as well as other abuses of power. We can reject religion, while also saying that Jesus Christ sounded like a pretty cool dude. The world would be a better place if we all tried to be a bit more like Jesus: a bit more Christian.

I really don't give a fuck what fictitious character we decide we love and want to emulate - perhaps Robin Hood? - but reality TV idols and wealth worship has taken us to a terrible, terrible place.

This is obviously written from my hospital bed, where I'm a bit loopy from kidney failure and painkillers, but I hope my writing is still reasonably cogent. All I can tell you is how I cry and cry and cry when I read the news right now, because the action of our leaders doesn't match their rhetoric about peace, compassion and care for the poor and vulnerable.

 

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