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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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nick@manicgrant.com

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GO AWAY SPAMMERS

6 min read

This is a story about information overload...

Spam comments

This is why we can't have nice things. I've written more than 1,100 high quality essays, most of which have undergone some kind of proofreading, and some light editing, amounting to an aggregate total well in excess of 1.3 million words. Those words were not written by a machine-learning algorithm at the click of a button. No. They were written by me, by hand. Every. Single. One.

Some of my readers were kind enough to leave comments.

A lot of my readers were kind enough to leave comments.

There was a time, before I got beaten by the spammers, when I was able to read all of those comments, and reply to most of them. The battle is lost. The spammers have won.

I have removed the ability for members of the public to comment, although you can still reply to my content on Twitter or Facebook if you want your comment to be public, otherwise email me or direct message me. I promise, I do read everything that reaches me, but it was very hard to see the real comments, lost in amongst the vast quantity of spammy rubbish.

I find it regrettable that I've had to disable public commenting, because in just a few short months some half a million people - many of them in crisis - have been brought to my website looking for information relating to suicide. Many of my readers write to me and tell me one very important common thing: my writing is honest and authentic, and relatable, in a way which so much of the "stop! don't do it! you've got so much to live for!" clichéd stuff out there, causes a bunch of suicidal people to immediately ditch that site and move onto the next.

I'm not so big-headed, egotistical and suffering from delusions of grandeur, to claim that I'm offering anything other than what it says in big bold letters on the carton: I have a mental illness and I'm plagued by suicidal thoughts, which I write about; I have attempted suicide several times, which I write about. If you came here looking to be saved, you should try crisis counselling. The number for suicide crisis counselling appeared when you searched on Google. It was literally the top hit. If you didn't phone them or click the number one Google suggested website, that means that you know what you're looking for, and it is not somebody saying "don't do it!" over and over and over and over again, ad nauseam.

You've heard it all before.

Anyway.

Sorry. I had to turn off comments. I had to hide all the spammers comments. I had to get rid of that horrible load of spammy crap. I should have done it sooner, but I was putting it off. I put it off for too long and the situation got out of hand.

I know which posts were the spammers favourites, and it really makes no sense.

I seriously don't advise you read these, but I'm going to list them here, because I need Google to realise that they should re-index the pages, and they should hopefully see that all the horrible spam is now gone.

The kind of stuff that they were spamming with was mostly harmless, but there was a lot of illegal stuff, and immoral stuff too. Basically, it was a bunch of bad people, trying to leverage my 1.3 million word artwork for their own financial reward, which sucks.

The posts, which I really don't advise you read were:

Day nine of my attempt to write a novel in a month, while publishing the draft manuscript live.

The fourteenth day of that novel writing attempt.

Something I wrote while I was on secure psychiatric ward, five years ago.

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and other parts of the well known acronym.

My profile... although people are probably just clicking that. I have no idea if it's the spammers or not.

Some stuff about being a sensitive soul... who'd have thunk it?

Day thirteen of that same half-finished novel.

Some weird rantings from five years ago... the day before I lost my job

Typical political dross as you might expect to find anywhere on the internet.

Some stuff about burnout. I write a lot about burnout.

... etc etc ...

 

There are about 500 of these, which have been spammed in the last week alone. I should painstakingly go through all 400 of them, and link to them somehow, so that our friends at a well known and popular search engine know to go take a look: the spam has gone now. The horrid people trying to peddle their illegal, life-wrecking wares are gone from my website now. The horrid people who profit from human misery are banished forever, at least from this little island in the swamp of excrement.

I don't know what else to say or do.

To give you an idea of how bad the problem appears to have gotten, it seems like the average number of comments on my 1,100+ essays is somewhere in the region of 2,000, which is a total of 2.2 million spammy comments. I presume that when my 1.3 million words, lovingly crafted by a prose-smith (me) were vastly exceeded by a tsunami of spam, our chums at the well-known tech giant decided - algorithmically - that enough was enough and they shouldn't send me any more readers. For sure, there are very good reasons not to send people to a den of nothing but spammy illegal crap. For sure, I understand why it happened. For sure, I blame myself for being too lazy, tired, depressed and otherwise consumed with my chaotic and often suicidal life, to deal with some spammers.

This website is a lifeline for me. Writing is a lifeline for me. If I hadn't started writing then I wouldn't have had friends from all over the world, frantically contacting emergency services, which saved my life... in which case, you wouldn't be reading this. I'm not saying I'm glad I'm alive because I'm not, but I'm glad that I have my friends, my readers, my writing, my website and many things. Spammers robbed me of a whole load of readers, which I'm frustrated and really upset about, but I'm working as hard as I can on rectifying the problem.

Please, if you came here feeling suicidal, check out everything I wrote about by clicking on the tag, or check out the previous thing I wrote on the homepage, and follow links from there. I guess that's what a spammer would say, but I promise you that a spammer would not spend 5+ years of their life pouring their heart and soul into a writing project, as a not-for-profit venture and half-assed attempt at creating a work of art.

Thank you, readers, for persevering.

Normal service has resumed.

 

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How to Kill Yourself

8 min read

This is a story about an explicit step-by-step set of precise instructions specifying exactly how to commit suicide...

Suicide salad

I get a phenomenal amount of readers every day, reading what I've written on the subject of suicide. Mostly, they come looking for information on suicide methods. I know this for two reasons: firstly, my inbox is stuffed full of people asking more questions about how to kill themselves. Secondly, it's possible to see what kinds of things people are searching for on the internet: these are standard tools, which are used by advertisers, all the time, to decide how best to target their online marketing.

So, if I was a manufacturer of steak knives, for example, I might do some research to see how many times people search for "what is the best kind of knife to cut meat with?". While I was doing that research, I might also - if I was an unethical company - search for something like "what is the best kind of knife to cut human flesh with?". If there are more people searching for the latter than the former, I might decide to spend my advertising dollars selling my steak knives to people who want to use them for a purpose which they were not originally designed or intended for.

It was always my intention to drive a portion of suicidal people on the internet, towards my website, and my reasons were always - I think - ethical and reasonably well thought through. I know with certainty, that there are a large number of people who will end their lives without reaching out to any of the widely publicised and well known counselling services, which are available in person, on the phone, or online. I know with certainty that the reason why some don't contact those services, is because they're not stupid: turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and some suicidal people don't go to services which are explicit and overt in their intention, which is to stop you from committing suicide.

I've brought you here, and I've disappointed many of you, because I have never once given any explicit instructions on how to kill yourself.

But.

Here it is.

Here is one way to kill yourself:

1. Buy, borrow or steal a steak knife
2. Cut yourself so that you bleed

Not explicit enough for you? Okay, I'll try again:

1. Obtain a sharp knife with a serrated blade
2. Make as many sharp slashing aggressive fast cuts to the area of your neck, which is in-between the front and the side
3. Repeat step 2 until you either see blood gushing out at high pressure, or you lose consciousness; whichever happens first

I'm guessing you're probably more frustrated than ever now. Yes, I know that what people mainly search for is the most painless, quickest, easiest, and "best" way to kill yourself. I know what people are looking for. I really really know what people are looking for.

The knife method fails, because it's not at all painless, although it is quick and easy, and also really obvious. In fact, it's so obvious, that I don't know why anybody would go to the trouble of buying rope and tying it to a tree or something, when the knife method is so much quicker and easier.

If you want painless, which I know you do, the most common method - which has been popular for years - other than an overdose, is to poison yourself with carbon monoxide from an internal combustion engine, meaning most probably a car. The method is so simple that I can write it in just one line: pipe the exhaust fumes into the interior of your car.

Okay? Are you happy now?

No.

If you were happy, you wouldn't have been searching "how do I kill myself?" would you? The question is rhetorical. I KNOW YOU ARE SUICIDAL; KINDA THE OPPOSITE OF HAPPY.

So, the next question, and a very important one, is one which I'm asking myself as much as I'm asking you now, as you're reading this: what now?

I plan to commit suicide, when the time is right, so I would be a hypocrite - and a dishonest cynical horrible man - if I was trying to tell you to live your life differently from how I live my life; if I didn't practice what I preach.

Let me answer the question with a short story.

A little over five years ago, I decided to write my own obituary. I was a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff. My life was totally and utterly wrecked beyond belief. My brain and body were trashed. The obituary writing turned into a writing habit, which eventually became this website, which eventually became the stability I needed in my life. This website brought me readers, and those readers helped me, even though I didn't want to be helped. The writing helped me, even though I didn't know it would help me.

I expect that, when I commit suicide, I will be a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug-addict, with no friends, no family, and nothing in my head except guilt, shame, regret, anger, bitterness, resentment, trauma, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole lot of other bad stuff... so don't go thinking that this story has a happy ending. IT DOES NOT.

But.

This is my damn story now. I'm in control. I'm the one who writes the narrative, not the people who would gladly see me buried, and talk shit about me literally over my dead body.

So, ask yourself this: what are people going to say about you, after you commit suicide? Are they going to call you crazy? Are they gonna call you a drunk and/or a druggie? Are they going to say that you were bad with money, or a bum; a loser? Are you going to let those despicable scumbags write the ending to your story, or are you going to write it yourself?

Obviously, I'd like it if nobody felt like suicide was their only option, but unfortunately, so many people do feel like that... so we have to address that.

Of course, we all have different reasons for wanting to kill ourselves, but we all want the same thing: the pain and suffering to stop. Tell the damn story. Tell people why you're suicidal. You don't have to do it like me, so publicly. You don't have to do it to an expensive therapist. Get a diary. Get a notebook. Get it the hell down on paper, at least, so it's not a bloody mystery to the people left behind.

I know, often, we are so desperate for the pain and suffering to stop that we don't care what anybody thinks of us anymore; we don't care about any of that... we. just. want. it. to. stop.

Sure, yes. I get it.

But, so many people write to me, and they all tell me a little about their story; their own personal reasons for wanting to end their lives. I mean, they don't have to. Sure, a few don't say much. Sure, lots of people read and never write to me. I don't know everything but nobody does. With the incomplete information, which is still a heck of a lot more than almost anybody you know, I'm able to say that almost everyone has something to say; wants somebody to know something.

Anyway, my inbox (and DMs on Twitter and Facebook etc) are open, but apologies if I don't write back quickly, or maybe even at all, because I have to say, every single one of your personal stories is devastatingly heartbreaking, but I'm glad to be kinda there still, as much as I can be... receiving, reading, even though I'm struggling to stay on top of replying.

You wanna kill yourself? Fine. But write to me first. I want to kill myself too.

* * *

A brief summary of what I've written already on the subject:

First, I listed out every suicide method I could think of.

Then, I wrote an essay all about the reasons I could imagine which would drive a person to kill themselves.

Most people, as I said, are interested in the 'easiest' and most painless suicide method, which I kinda wrote about, talking about my own plans to commit suicide.

 

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Monetization Strategy

4 min read

This is a story about mixing work and pleasure...

Billion dollar banknote

My inbox is full of an ever-increasing number of requests for me to publish a guest blog. On closer inspection, these are really requests to pay me to put advertising on my website, or links to help other websites to improve their Google search rankings. Basically, I don't get genuine requests from people who legitimately want to share anything here... only online marketing and search engine optimisation people, trying to piggyback on my hard work.

What about that hard work?

Why would I do that hard work, if I'm not getting paid?

Well, although I have moaned about crippling debts for many years, I actually have enough money. Very nearly - once - I came within £23 of bankruptcy, but I've always managed to service my debts, pay my rent, pay my bills, buy food and otherwise pay my way in the world. I wouldn't say money has been plentiful but it has been adequate even though a lot of it has been borrowed in order to bridge the gap between the necessary expenditure to stay in the game, versus being cast out from mainstream society and trampled underfoot. I don't really need whatever pitiful sum of money I could get, by perverting my artwork into a commercial artefact.

Wut?

Yes, that's right. I prefer it that my folly - this monument to my madness and stupidity - is kept as something entirely non-commercial. That means no advertising. No selling data. No product placement. No backlinks. No quid quo pro. You can't offer me anything that I would accept in exchange for turning my idiotic endeavours into a money-making scheme. If I wanted to make money, I'd have done something else. I'm not in this for the money. I don't want to become yet another lifestyle blogger, influencer, social media expert, or other person in that particular area. I'm a writer, and I'm able to write and publish whatever I want, and reach thousands of readers every day, which surely is a writer's dream? I mean, sure, some writers have to eat but c'mon! There are so many easier ways to make money than writing! Surely nobody would be stupid enough to try to make writing into their main profession, when they could just as easily work a fraction of the time, and have the majority of their working week available - free - to pursue any writing project that a writer would want to pursue.

Okay, so I only managed to complete a single novel manuscript to an acceptable first-draft standard, in the 5+ years I've been writing 'full-time' but I also produced a couple of 80% complete manuscripts, plus a 1.3 million word blog with thousands of readers, which appears on the first page of Google for a whole bunch of things that people are searching for. I don't mean this as a boast, but merely to point out that if writing was my objective, I've managed to do plenty, without having to earn a writer's pittance of a salary.

Of course I would love to call myself, more legitimately, a writer. I wish I had the balls to give up my main profession, and pursue writing to combine passion, vocation and work into a single thing, but then, I think I would feel very insecure and touchy about my work. Anyone can tell me "your writing is shit" at the moment, and I'll know that they're wrong, but it's not professional grade either; it's a damn sight better than your average keyboard-mashing internet-dweller, so they can fuck off. If I called myself a writer by trade then I'd probably take it very personally, and get really upset. I've not been writing for long enough, nor had enough external validation, to fend off criticism of my writing, if I was doing it in a professional capacity.

So, if you're thinking of contacting me, asking if I can - basically - help you sell you or your client's product or service, don't expect to get a response back from me, other than an unpleasant one. I don't go out of my way to be unpleasant to people, but some of the people who email me are really aggressive and get unduly unpleasant when I ignore them, which is uncalled for. Also, it pisses me off when people want to use me and my artwork - my folly - to further their contemptible commercial endeavours.

You will never see any ads on this website, and I will never sell the data (what data would I even sell anyway?).

 

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Second Lockdown

3 min read

This is a story about a broken record...

Names

What's the exact idiom? A broken record surely wouldn't play at all, so I always reject the idiom "broken record" thinking it must instead be "scratched record". However, I don't think we really use the idiom "scratched record" so I'll stick with my original preamble, which was probably correct insofar as being a well-understood idiom, but literally wrong, like so many things in life.

Anyway.

I've been a bit of a broken record, meaning that I've been repeating myself a lot.

I'm in lockdown, again. Last time I was in lockdown, I stopped writing because I didn't want to drive myself and everyone else round the bend with my repetitive days; I knew that it would be a marathon, not a sprint, to the finish. The first lockdown lasted longer than almost everyone had anticipated, but I had psychologically prepared myself for it to last many months, so I was OK. I also anticipated that this second lockdown was a certainty, so I was psychologically prepared, except I haven't taken the step of stopping writing.

I was planning on having a totally sober October, as has been my tradition. Also, I was supposed to get a new mountain bike, so I could start getting fitter and shedding some korona kilograms: I've put on weight, having been more sedentary than normal, and also utterly devastatingly depressed about the lack of opportunity this year to have travel and adventure, like normal.

I'm not sure I could stand the sound of my own voice - or my words - if I have to write for a whole month, sober and in lockdown. I might have to take a break from writing again.

The world is pretty toxic to mental health at the moment. The impending US presidential election, the impending no-deal Brexit, the never-ending pandemic, the impending economic armageddon, the rioting... the lockdown of course, and the effect of being under the same roof 24 x 7 x 365.

I find writing therapeutic, but what am I going to tell you about my present situation every day: it'll be the same. Still need that mountain bike so I can go and exercise, still need to stay sober, still need to eat less, still working on an important project I can't tell you about, still under lockdown, still depressed, still suicidal. It's going to be groundhog day; repetitive.

So, I'm warning you: if I keep writing and you keep reading, things might get pretty samey.

 

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Stock Footage

5 min read

This is a story about creativity...

Shave

If you were to ask 100 people "can you draw?" most of them would answer that they cannot. If you were to ask 100 people "can you paint?" I expect that more would answer that they cannot. If you were to ask 100 people "can you compose and play music?" then most would say that they could not.

However.

If we asked 100 people if they could do a dot-to-dot picture, or paint-by-numbers, or indeed play a piece of music which had already been composed, then most people would say that they could do all of those activities.

What's the difference?

I suppose it must be self-confidence. Since smartphones became ubiquitous, most people would consider themselves to be professional photographers, curating their Instagram pages full of their 'art'. What happened, to change photography from an art into something which the masses think they're brilliant at, and would have no problem answering "yes" if they were asked if they can take photographs. It seems to me, that having taken away the complexities of shutter speed, aperture, film speed, lux levels, considerations about depth-of-field and whether the subject is moving... now that photography is point-and-shoot, everyone thinks that they're brilliant at it.

Why not painting?

I suppose we take photographs all the time. If you have children and/or pets, your phone will be filled with photos of your progeny and/or your fur babies. If you are a youth, your phone will be full of selfies and suchlike. We are, perhaps because of the social changes which have occurred due to technology, getting a lot of practice taking photos, but we are still getting almost no practice painting, unless you are a professional fine artist.

Why not writing?

I find it unusual that, given how much screen time we all have now, writing isn't going in the same direction as photography. For sure, I suppose that people have a Twitter account, but not a blog. People have a blog, but don't write for a newspaper or magazine. People write for a website - like Buzzfeed - but don't have any published books. Perhaps everyone is writing more, which - like photography - makes it seem like people are still rubbish at it; amateur (myself included, of course).

An interesting thing happens when you make a piece of art and put it into the public domain: people who lack the confidence to be creative, connect with that artwork; they are moved by the artwork. If you love a particular song, why don't you learn to play the instruments so that you can make more of that music? It seems a little mad, to think that we each possess the ability to scratch our own itch, but perhaps it isn't true: maybe the world really does divide into creators and consumers.

I wonder why I don't include more quotations and references in my work. It's not because I'm not well read, or I can't think of where my thoughts and ideas came from: I know my source material, almost without exception. However, while my influences are well known to me, I don't see any value in parroting the authors whose work I admire. For sure, I could write a lot about other people's ideas, but it's the amalgamation of the accumulated wealth of knowledge in my mind, which is interesting. I'm not here to masturbate the dicks of the academics who had the good fortune to be afforded the time and space to formulate their own ideas, and publish. No, I already paid for their books; they already got my money. I took the best bits - cherry picked - and used that knowledge to build my own worldview.

I think to attempt to be original is foolish; a childish mistake. When we are young and immature, we choose unusual hairstyles and wear atypical clothes, in an attempt to achieve originality. Of course, there's nothing original about red trousers or a leather skirt studded with metal spikes: those superficial and pathetic attempts at originality are, in fact, the very opposite; the classic clichéd attempts of immature insecure people, to appear original.

I often worry that perhaps I'm trying too hard to be original, making the same immature insecure attempts to deliberately avoid the typical; the common; the ordinary.

I hope that what I'm achieving, is a kind of beautiful simplicity. The authors who I admire the most are the ones who have mastered the English language to such a great extent, that they don't feel the need - driven by insecurity and pomposity - to pepper their prose with long and obscure words. As [George] Orwell wrote: Never use a long word where a short one will do. I know it's a fucking cliché to quote Orwell, which is why I'm fucking doing it: because to deliberately avoid quoting him, in a desperate attempt to appear like more of an original thinker, ironically achieves the opposite.

Of course, there's always a danger whenever we start thinking "I know enough now" and that we can stop reading; stop looking around for influential figures. My worldview is, however, difficult to substantially influence now that I'm older. My mind isn't closed, but don't expect me to suddenly U-turn on some views which are quite integral to my personality and identity, such as being a socialist; a scientist. Don't expect me to suddenly find God, or start writing about how poor people are lazy and we should kill them (or at least let them die; same difference).

To write about writing is a self-indulgence which I too frequently embark upon. Apologies.

 

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I'm Not Sure This is a Good Idea

4 min read

This is a story about hindsight...

Disguise

Imagine this: you've spent your whole life dreaming of becoming a published author, with a fucktonne of readers; perhaps being a bestselling author. Then, one day, you hit the jackpot: your books are flying off the shelves; you have a ton of readers around the world. Thousands of people read your writing every day. Millions read what you wrote every year. Are you happy? Are you content?

What was your objective?

Did you want to get paid for doing something you love? Did you want to convert your love of writing into a profession? Did you want approval; did you need for a publisher to tell you that what you wrote was good, before you'd believe it for yourself? Did you want fame and adulation? Did you need for the general public - en masse - to recognise your brilliance, by luxuriating in the delicious prose which decorates the pages of your books? You've got it now. Are you happy?

Then.

Suddenly you feel very exposed. Your psyche is exposed for all to see. Was it really worth it? With all the money in the world - the best paid author in the business - was it worth the effort, and the sacrifice? Was it worth it to be out there in the world, for everyone to judge?

Now the academics will pore over your words, gaining so-called "insight" into things which never existed; imagining that there is more deep meaning in your writing than ever existed; creating layer-upon-layer of intellectual mastubatory wankstain bullshit, if you're so lucky as to be considered a literary figure of great importance.

You must remain enigmatic. Never explain yourself. Culture your eccentricities: this is your life now. You are creating a myth; a legend. You have to maintain a certain image, if you want to achieve a cult following, and to be somewhat immortalised, insofar as making your way onto the undergrad reading list of an English degree at a substandard academic institution; well-thumbed copies of your book being kept on the shelves of every pretentious student in the land.

Still, is it worth it? Is this what you wanted?

Still, you have to ask yourself, why did you embark upon this fool's errand? Why did you start writing in the first place? What was the point? When will you be satisfied? When will you say that enough is enough?

Then.

There's a backlash. People hate you now. The mood of the country has turned against you. Your so-called 'overnight' success (which took decades to achieve) which inflated your ego to the point that you thought you would be welcome in the national dialogue - the daily discourse - was grossly miscalculated. People fucking hate you. You're the cunt who wrote those bestselling books, and in the popular imagination you're another elitist wealthy shitbag, disconnected from the plight of ordinary people no matter how humble your origins were.

Why did you do this?

Sure, you're rich now; you're a household name. Your face is recognisable. You can court a little controversy and fill the tabloid headlines, easily. Is that what you wanted? Was that your aim, all along?

Ultimately, aren't you infamous? Aren't you known for all the wrong reasons? If there was ever a smidgin of integrity which lurked at the centre of you, isn't that now long lost? You're just an attention seeking publicity whore. You're just a disgrace. You're not an artist. You're not a creator. You're just part of the newspaper-selling, avertising-sellling, merchandise-selling, capitalist machine. You couldn't be more distant from your original "I like writing" origins, even if you tried your hardest.

How did it end up like this?

 

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Nick, What's the Best Way to Kill Myself?

6 min read

This is a story about email...

Inbox

When I wake up in the morning, I'm greeted by an inbox full of emails from people asking what the best way to commit suicide is. This shouldn't come as a surprise, given the thousands of readers I have every day, reading stuff I wrote about suicide methods. However, I thought I made it pretty clear in what I wrote that, deliberately, I wasn't providing any step-by-step instructions, or otherwise endorsing, encouraging, enabling or recommending suicide at all.

I think, at the root of this, we are looking for figures in authority, to make the difficult decisions for us.

It's completely insane to me, that a person in reasonably good physical health, would consider physician-assisted suicide. Why bother? It's really not hard to kill yourself. I think that we -mostly- live in a safe world, with a nanny state attempting to 'protect' us from everything. We scurry to the doctor, asking the dumbest most common-sense questions, because we feel reassured that a person of high social status - a demi-god - is dispensing blatantly obvious advice from a 'magic' building, while wearing a 'magic' white coat, and with a 'magic' stethoscope draped around their neck. It's bullshit; it's a sham - your doctor is no more qualified to guide you out of this world than a stranger you met in the street: at some point, everyone is on their own.

I understand perfectly, that we are socially and psychologically conditioned to respond to authority figures. The Milgram experiments have chillingly shown that most of us will administer lethal electric shocks to a person, who is screaming in agony, if we are told to do so by a person wearing a white lab coat, with a clipboard, who officiously tells us that we should kill one of our fellow human beings. Of course, we retain plausible deniability in that we can always say "I was just following orders" just like the Nazis in the concentration camps, who killed millions of Jews.

In a way, perhaps it's a good thing that people reach out to me, hoping that I will give my rubber-stamp of approval for their suicide, which I obviously do not give: I'm not in the business of dishing out those kinds of instructions. If you want to kill yourself, I'm not going to stop you. If you come to me, telling me that you're suicidal, then I'm not going to talk you out of it. I promise. However, I'm also not going to be the person who tells you to do it, or otherwise encourages, endorses, enables or in any way says that suicides are OK. Suicides are inevitable. Suicides are necessary. However, I have made it absolutely crystal clear in everything I've ever written: I don't want any suicides. Zero suicides. No Suicides. I can't make it any clearer than that.

If we want to talk about euthanasia, that's a whole different conversation. For sure, I'm pro-euthanasia. For people who literally can't end their lives with dignity, because their medical condition(s) have robbed them of the physical ability to end their own lives, for sure I am in favour of physician-assisted suicide.

What the fuck do you want from me? Surely you're not so stupid as to know that there are an almost infinite number of ways to kill yourself? You don't need me to tell you what the 'best' way is; to make a recommendation. I already provided ample information on all the methods. OF COURSE I am not going to give you a step-by-step guide: it's your death, so it's your responsibility.

Although it breaks my heart that so many people contact me in crisis, on the verge of committing suicide, it's a good thing that they are looking for my recommendation, approval and very basic instructions on how to end their lives. It's a good thing, because it means that the trivial obstacles are enough to keep them in the land of the living.

Of course, I do not wish to prolong another human being's suffering for a single second longer than absolutely necessary. Absolutely, if I possessed the means to wave my magic wand and take away anybody's suffering, I absolutely would do that. Me telling people - step-by-step - the exact way that they should kill themselves, in a way that shifts personal responsibility onto myself, is not responsible, right, useful, ethical, or otherwise conscionable. If you want to kill yourself, you'll find a way. If you NEED to kill yourself, you'll find a way. There's a whole internet of information out there, for those who are properly motivated.

I hope nobody sees what I've written as a challenge. I hope nobody sees what I've written as calling anybody's bluff. I believe, absolutely, that everyone who contacts me professing a desperate suicidal crisis and the imminent end of their life, is telling the truth; they are to be wholeheartedly believed. Their situations are desperately sad, and my heart bleeds. However, I am not operating a euthanasia clinic. I am not qualified to judge people's lives as hopeless, and dispense the means to end lives. Only YOU are qualified to judge whether your life is bearable - liveable - or not, and to then take the necessary steps as appropriate. If you wail that you do not know what those steps are, then I'm afraid that your fate is sealed: your desire to remain alive is stronger than your desire to pursue one of the infinite avenues open to you, to end your life.

I'm absolutely not asking you to stop writing. Please continue to write. However, I'm setting your expectations quite clearly: I will not, ever, tell you the "best" method of suicide, nor will I do anything to enable your suicide, nor endorse it, nor approve it, nor in any way get involved in your life-and-death decision, other than to say that I empathise very strongly with your plight - your crisis - and I'm very sad that things reached such a desperate situation. I will listen. I will understand, as much as possible. However, I won't try to talk you out of it. Think about all of this, if you get in contact: I'm totally not going to say you shouldn't do it, but I'm totally not going to say that you should either, or tell you how you should do it. That's your business, not mine.

 

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Infamy

3 min read

This is a story about wanting to be noticed...

Why I write

This is not a pity party, and everyone has an equally valid claim to misery and depression, but it's important - to me - that I relate this part of the most influential period of my life.

At home, I could do nothing right, and was largely ignored other than as an ornament; a clothes horse; a performing animal, let out of its cage to delight the adults, as a party trick, and otherwise told to be quiet and keep out of the way.This, I think, is not unusual, but was greatly exacerbated my lack of a sibling until the age of 10, and my parents' extreme anti-social behaviour, which left me isolated in the extreme: often in very remote rural areas; far from friends and schoolmates.

At school, I could not avoid attention of the wrong kind. My parents' obsession with training me as their performing animal, for their party tricks, meant that I was either alone, or doing my routine for adults. I had no relationships with children, before school. If you want to fuck up your children and ruin their lives, it's quite easy: do everything in your power to make them different so that they don't fit in; deprive them of every opportunity to socialise; force them to act like little adults, instead of allowing them to be children - that will guarantee that they won't fit in at all at school, and they will be bullied from dawn to dusk, every. single. fucking. day.

Good manners and confidence in the company of adults did, briefly, confer an advantage in the workplace. This supposed 'maturity' was useful for making a good first impression. Employers certainly mistook me for a person who was mature beyond their years, but this was entirely superficial: a party trick learned, because it was the only way I was able to receive praise as a child - from the small amount of adult company my parents kept; those rare occasions when I was trotted out and expected to perform. However, I had no maturity at all - the social isolation, the neglect and the deprivation, was masked and hidden behind impeccable manners and precise diction; expansive vocabulary, learned from books.

As life has worn on, my age relative to my peers has become less obvious, less remarkable. Instead, those deep wounds inflicted in childhood have come to the fore. Exacerbated by extreme stress and intolerable circumstances, the socially isolated child, deprived of a social life and otherwise ill-equipped to face the world with the same skills and experience of his peers, has resurfaced. I feel as though I'm suffering the same horrors again.

In extreme circumstances, we revert to 'type'... our 'true' personality surfaces, and our mask slips.

I wonder to myself, as I write stuff which is read by thousands of people who are suffering a life-and-death crisis in their lives, whether I am flirting with infamy. Why do I not implore them to seek professional help and bombard them with crisis counselling phone numbers?

Maybe I'm evil.

[Note: I lost a few hundred words here, because of an auto-save glitch, but I can't be bothered to re-type what I wrote. I hope it still makes sense without the conclusion, as I originally wrote it]

 

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Aide-Mémoire

4 min read

This is a story about writing prompts...

Book

During a more exciting and varied, but also chaotic period of my life, I habitually made a note of writing prompts for myself. I was able to stay somewhat on top of these sparks of inspiration, and turn them into essays, but the list still grew longer and longer.

I've started writing a list of writing prompts again. Currently it has 10 items on it, which have inspired me to write 3 completed essays, which I've now published.

The other thing which inspires me to write, I must admit, is my readers. My readers write to me, which I'm very grateful for, but even those who do not are inspiring me by reading, because there's nothing worse than feeling ignored, irrelevant or otherwise non-existent. However, there's also a temptation - which I try to avoid - of writing stuff which I know will bring me more readers. What's the point of making art, if you're doing it just for popularity and notoriety - surely that isn't art at all?

The majority of my readers - thousands per day - are new readers. Perhaps [most of] my social media followers and [most] friends have tired of the repetitive nature of my writing; the repetition of my story; the lack of any dramatic change in my circumstances. There isn't much narrative in my writing, because there isn't much narrative in my life. In the adventures of employee man, one day looks very much like the next.

Of course, I am grateful that I have a semi-secure source of income - albeit only in the short term - and I have stability and routine. My health and wealth are thriving, relatively speaking, thanks to the boring repetition which is the backbone of my life.

Perhaps I'll dig some more hair-raising tales of near-death and destitution out of my memory banks, to amuse and entertain my readers, but I did promise myself that I wouldn't dwell on the past, and I would attempt to start a new chapter. I would very much like it if I had a substantial period of boring "this is what I ate for breakfast" type typical run-of-the-mill yawnfest blog vapid bullshit, to put some distance between the chaotic, traumatic and nearly fatal period of my life, and the stable, secure life which seems within touching distance; tantalisingly close.

It feels a little odd to not be in the mood to write, because of low social media engagement, given that I almost exclusively transmit - never receive - and otherwise do not engage myself in discourse; do not engage with the community; do not socialise on social media, per se. A cynical accusation that I want to take, but I never give, could be levelled at me, and I would have little defence; I admit that I don't spend a lot of time keeping up with the lives of my Twitter friends, although I am extremely grateful for their continued support, and the occasional message or cat pic.

Also, I'm a little burnt out. I've been working very hard on a demanding project, and I'm extremely emotionally invested; I've been working with maximum intensity. In addition, of course, I pour my guts out every day onto the pages of this website. Writing and publishing a halfway-decent essay every day is not trivial. Those who say I'm not generous with my time and effort, are being unnecessarily cruel and unkind, if not downright wrong.

I'm not out in the community helping little old grannies cross the road or picking up litter, but people do write to me from all around the world every day, to say that my writing has been helpful - in some way - to them. I'm not saying that what I'm doing is particularly praiseworthy, or patting myself on the back in general, but I do put a lot of effort in, and that effort is not entirely a fool's errand.

Anyway, that was today's essay. I hope you liked it. Even just a teeny tiny bit.

 

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Vanity Publishing

5 min read

This is a story about a crowded market...

Art stuff

Remind me again why only certain people are allowed to make music, literature and art. Remind me again why the rest of us are banned from releasing our creative endeavours into the world. Remind me again why the creative arts are the sole preserve of the spoiled brattish kids of rich indulgent parents.

Oh yes. That's right. The internet changed all that.

Sure, the old gatekeepers are still there. Sure, if you want to get signed to a record label, a publishing house, a gallery or some other elitist institution, and publish using their marketing machine, then you'll need to kiss their arses and play by their rules.

Sure, the new gatekeepers are now in place. If you want to have a heap of subscribers on your YouTube channel, listeners on Spotify, or readers on your website, then you'll have to play by the rules of the algorithms; you'll have to comply with the demands of those digital platforms.

But.

Previously, only the likes of a multimillionaire rock star - like Brian Eno - would be able to afford professional-grade music production equipment. Previously, only the likes of a multimillionaire famous author - like Jeffrey Archer - would have been able to self-publish a book. Previously, only a multimillionaire artist - like Damien Hirst - would have been able to get their art seen by vast numbers of people.

Now.

Now is the time of self-publishing.

Sure, it's not great being locked into a platform like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, Apple, Spotify or suchlike, in order to get your art out into the world, but it does level the playing field a little. Sure, self-promotion is hard work, and it's still impossible to give up the day job, unless you have a trust fund; the barrier to entry is still extremely high. However, in some ways, the barrier to entry is quite low.

A friend of mine has a YouTube channel, filled with 90+ minute monologues. I sometimes browse the latest videos which my friend has published, and I think "oh god, that's me, isn't it? Pumping out long insane monologues, out into the ether of the internet, where nobody really takes any notice". Not to denigrate my friend's creative output at all, but I am incredibly fearful that I'm adding nothing but noise into the world.

I offer you a quote (as I very rarely do) which I often think about:

"[George] Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. [Aldous] Huxley feared those who would give us so much [information] that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism" -- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

I think we are living in Huxley's feared dystopia, in the context of being overwhelmed with information. The 4th industrial revolution - the information revolution - has created the most complicated man-made object: the internet. I often worry that the internet is a curse, not a blessing, given that I end up empathising with the plight of a Fijian villager whose prize pig was stolen, literally on the other side of the world. I rarely leave the house; I rarely talk to my neighbours, but every morning I wake up to an inbox full of people asking me "what's the best way to kill myself?" and "why are you not dead?". The internet is a mixed blessing.

I might look back on this period of creativity with cynicism, bitterness and a jaded outlook, which causes me to think that I was wasting my time. I might - feeling depressed and anxious - reflect that my writing wasn't very good; that I was making a fool of myself in public. The whole endeavour might seem very cringeworthy and embarrassing, with retrospect.

The internet doesn't forget, very easily. I'm somewhat etched into the fabric of the internet now. Stuff I've written is quite literally etched onto metal with lasers, and buried in the Arctic, to preserve it for posterity. Not, I might add, at my own expense. My vanity and ego are gigantic, but not quite big enough -yet- to embark on such a folly as burying some digital keepsakes beneath the frozen tundra; a monument to my own stupidity.

Of course, nobody in their right mind spends 5+ years of their life, writing and publishing 1.3 million words, which remained for the vast majority of that time, largely unread; unnoticed. I am, obviously, more unhinged than my friend with a YouTube channel: at least they didn't have to go to the effort of painstakingly constructing pleasing prose, checked for spelling and grammar, and accompanied by a hand-chosen photo which was Photoshopped to improve it, before publishing. Only a madman would go to all that effort, unpaid; unrewarded.

 

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