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The world's longest suicide note.

I write about life with bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

All opinions are my own.


Conservation of Energy

5 min read

This is a story about working...

Phoenix rising

I want to be busy. I want to have the distraction of being engrossed in a project. I want to feel like I have a purpose and I'm working towards a goal. I want to feel like hard work will get me to the end result quicker. I want to feel like there's a relationship between the effort I put in during my waking hours and the net result. The rewards should feel commensurate with the energy expended.

I'm writing less and that's because I'm making some progress. In the absence of another outlet for my creativity, all my pent-up energy gets poured into writing. In the absence of another more productive distraction, I write a lot.

I've still got a lot to say but I don't feel the pressing need to write about anything at the moment. I have a huge list of blog post titles that I could use to get me started, but I'm actually feeling fairly content to have a period of lower output. I expect that if something upsets me I'll be pouring my heart and soul out, but I'm feeling alright at the moment.

Work is going alright. I'm in the process of renting an apartment. My cashflow is OK at the moment. Things are going OK with my girlfriend. I'm seeing friends and doing activities. My life's generally a lot healthier and happier than it was a few weeks ago.

Writing doesn't feel like it's very energy-consuming, but it's exhausting living with a lot of anxiety and in fairly dreadful and toxic circumstances. It's awful living without much hope of life getting better. I feel like things are improving and I've got some hope for the future, so I don't need to write so much. Things are not so desperate.

I need to learn how to take it easy and plod along at a steady pace. I need to stop working as hard as I possibly can and travelling as fast as I can. I've been rushing everything because I've been under so much pressure. I've been so close to disaster for so long that when there's a window of opportunity to fix my life I have to be quick. Things are going alright, so I need to back off the gas pedal and engage the cruise control for a while.

My life has become quite sensible all of a sudden. I go to bed early. I get up early. I'm in the office on time and I work less than 8 hours a day. I take my time and I don't rush my work. I'm working at a sustainable pace, rather than burning myself out.

It's been incredibly draining to get to this point, but hopefully I can limp along and I'll slowly recover from the ordeal that led me up to this point. To all intents and purposes my life appears to be getting fixed up very rapidly, so you might find it offensive that I talk about the struggles I've been through, but it's true - it wasn't very long ago that I was absolutely screwed and had no hope of fixing my life.

It's going to take months and months before I'm well and truly in a good position with an apartment of my own and a pile of money in the bank. It's going to take a long while before I prove that my stability hasn't been just a fluke. I can't really believe that I've managed the best part of 4 months at work without a major incident, despite it being the crappiest time of year and there being a heap of stress in my life. I need to keep going and get into a really good routine. I need to get back to position of financial and housing security and regular social contact, and maintain that for a good long while. I'm slightly nervous that I might be experiencing the calm before the storm, but I've managed 6 months without a destructive mood episode or any self-sabotaging behaviour, so it's a good omen.

The next challenge is to get the keys to the apartment I'm renting and move in without having some kind of breakdown. When I rented the place in London on the river it nearly killed me. I don't want to repeat past mistakes, but everybody needs somewhere to call home. No more sponging parasites trying to ride my coat tails and ripping me off for thousands of pounds of unpaid rent and bills this time. No more Klingons.

I'm optimistic. I'm enjoying my new job. My finances are in reasonable shape, although cashflow's going to be a little tight what with buying a car and renting an apartment in the space of a few weeks, plus buying some clothes I need for work and other unavoidable expenses. You have to speculate to accumulate.

I thought I was going to write just a few hundred words but I seem to have written much more than I was expecting to. Oh well. Better out than in.

It's Friday and I feel like I've worked hard to get to this point and I'm seeing some rewards. I know that I don't really 'earn' my money per se, because my job is very easy and I'm overpaid, but there are lots of ways that I DO work really hard, so I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for what I've achieved. I know there's lots more hard work ahead, but I'm going to celebrate a little bit - another working week completed and more money on the way, hopefully. I'm digging my way out of the hole little by little.

It's frustrating that hard work often doesn't pay off, but I feel like I've always been rewarded for my efforts.




On This Day

3 min read

This is a story about anniversaries...

Leg in plaster cast

Today is my niece's 5th birthday. A year later I woke up from my general anaesthetic to this - the emergency repair of a muscle, 4 tendons and 2 nerves, when my leg was guillotined by a huge piece of broken mirror glass. The start of 7 years bad luck, perhaps.

My leg was mostly repaired and back to normal. I went kitesurfing in July 2016 and my leg was fully recovered. Then I got DVT and it caused that leg to swell up to twice its normal size and both my kidneys stopped working. Since then my foot has either been numb or very painful, although the nerve damage has started to repair itself again since I stopped taking powerful painkillers.

This day isn't about me, but in some ways it is. It's my niece's birthday, but I haven't been a very good uncle because my life's mostly been in bits since she was born. Divorce, moving back to London, rehab, homelessness, near-bankruptcy, two suicide attempts, more hospitalisations than I care to remember, psych wards, breakups, people owing me thousands of pounds, getting jobs, working jobs and getting sacked, moving flats, moving to Manchester, drugs and medications, trouble with the police, mental health problems... it's been a rough ride.

How does anybody escape from a shitty situation and get themselves back into civilised society? It takes time and it's really hard. I'm trying to rent a flat and it asks whether I'm renting or living with parents at the moment... the answer is neither. The form asks if I've ever declared bankruptcy... no, but I've been living with the threat of destitution for a very long time. Presumably if I managed to get a couple of black marks against my name I wouldn't have a job or a place to live - a criminal record and a bankruptcy would mean I'd be jobless and homeless and unable to get a job or rent a place to live. I've been so close to finding myself completely shunned by society; marginalised.

I write this stuff and it's really risky. I'm taking a big chance writing this honest stuff about the difficult journey I've been on, but people need to understand how hard it is to get back on your feet after a destructive event like a divorce. Why should I be punished? Why should I be marginalised; rejected by society?

The gatekeepers would have a field day if they found this stuff out about me. I'd be unemployable and homeless, for sure. I'm pretty undateable given the fact I'm not your average regular guy who collects stamps and works in the glue factory. I don't fit neatly inside a box. I'm a "computer says no" kind of guy, if I was to give the honest answers to the questions on the forms, not that I'm exactly lying or being misleading either. I wrote "OTHER: Living with friends" on the damn form.

So, happy birthday to my niece. Maybe I'll be a better uncle in subsequent years if I can get back on my feet.




Living Out of a Suitcase

4 min read

This is a story about three snapshots in time...

Pile of clothes

Here's a picture of what my life looks like tonight. That pile contains almost everything that I need each week. In a single holdall, I can transport my work clothes, my regular clothes, a few toiletries and a handful of other things that I use regularly. I live out of this bag. This is my mobile life.

Psych ward bags packed

This is what my life looked like 6 months ago. Here are my bags in the psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) where I was locked up for a week. I was discharged from my section at tribunal after 12 days. I stayed in the psychiatric hospital for about 3 weeks in total, most of it voluntarily. Note: it's the same black holdall as pictured at the top.

Wheelie suitcase

This is what I managed to reduce my life to so that I could leave my apartment in London, when I was forced to take a job in Manchester because I was close to destitution. This is everything that I took with me when I left the city I've lived in for most of my adult life - in fact longer than anywhere I've lived in my entire life - to go to a city I'd never visited before and a flat I'd never set foot inside.

Most people take a stable home for granted. Most people have friends or relatives who they could live with if they fell on hard times. Most people find moving house to be one of the most stressful things they ever do, and they don't do it very often.

I was no fixed abode. I slept rough and I slept in hostels. I slept in dorms with up to 13 other farting, snoring people, making noise around-the-clock. I've been either on the streets or on the verge of being back on the street for longer than I care to remember. I've either been homeless or had the threat of homelessness hanging over me for an unbearable amount of time.

Sea view

I viewed an apartment this evening. That's the view from the lounge. Yes, it's really soon to be thinking about renting my own apartment, but I've been on a hell of a long journey. I was born in Wales. I've come home to Wales. I want to live here. I want to put down roots. I want to stop moving from place to place. I want to stop living out of a suitcase. I want to feel like I have a place I can call home that's mine.

I'm incredibly grateful to my friends for letting me live with them. Taking in a mentally ill homeless junkie alcoholic thief beggar bankrupt loser murderer baby-eater was a brave thing to do. It was so kind and generous of my friends to risking having a horrible monster like me in their family home. It shouldn't be understated how much of a big risk it is to take in a homeless person and give them a chance to get back on their feet. My friends have nursed me back to health.

The journey isn't over. I need to keep all the plates spinning. I need to continue to maintain my friendships, keep doing a good job at work, keep developing my fledgling romance, keep my car running and the money flowing... it's not easy. Theoretically, I have enough money to pay 12 months rent. In practice, cashflow is going to be really tight. It's going to be super stressful going through all the hassle of renting a place to live... like, how do I explain that I haven't got a reference from a previous landlord? Perhaps I can show them the excellent feedback that I've got on my AirBnB profile from all those different places I stayed in London during the last few months.

Oh my god it'll be so good to finally unpack. It'll be so good to have my own place. It'll be so good if I can get a bunch of the pieces of the puzzle all in place at the same time.




Step Count

1 min read

This is a story about data...


I'm not going to write a proper blog post today - there isn't enough time. However, I don't want to skip a day so here's a random graph. I'm thinking about how my step count is steadily increasing despite the fact I've had a chest infection for a couple of weeks. I'm thinking about how all the data - such as the consistent daily word count - is indicative of my improving situation.

I've got plans to create a map of every bed I've slept in during the last 4 months, my bank balance over time, the sentiment of my blogs using certain keywords (e.g. "depression") and some kind of cross-correlation of it all.

It's great to collect data. It's great to be able to see trends.




Official Secrets

6 min read

This is a story about spying...

Clear desk policy

I'm not doing very well in terms of burying my blog. I've not been very successful at writing a load of non-contentious stuff that would bore any person who stumbled upon my website and decided to go digging in the archives. I've not done a very good job of being sensible and writing stuff that wouldn't be controversial if it was discovered by somebody connected with my work.

Where I live is a fairly small place. In theory I should be more careful, but I haven't been. It's been too difficult to change my habits. I've written candidly with authenticity and honesty for so long that it's become a habit. I'm unguarded. I'm vulnerable. It's been so long since I kept up the corporate mask and pretended like everything was A-OK for the sake of my job.

This Monday has been completely different from last Monday. I'm starting to become hopeful that life might become sustainable and pleasant. Happier times might be ahead - I'm really close to making a breakthrough. My life is more good than bad at the moment.

It makes me a little paranoid knowing that I've got some things that I want to keep. I'd be upset if I lost my local job and my imagined future crumbled into dust. Without money how am I going to get a place of my own? How am I going to be able to go out on dates and on mini-breaks with my girlfriend? How will I continue to escape from the circumstances that made my life so awful, without some means of bankrolling it? There's a temptation to hide my real personality; to hide my inner monologue; to bury my true feelings; to present a fake corporate-friendly mask instead of my honest self. I'm economically incentivised to become Mr Boring.

Obviously I'm not going to ditch my blog. I need my daily writing outlet. I need the stability; the security; the comfort blanket.

I'm very worried that mania is going to rear its ugly head and ruin everything. I'm really worried that I'm going to self-sabotage as soon as I get myself into a better position. It's been so long since I had all the pieces of the puzzle. It's really dangerous when I get everything, because I'm busting my balls and on the brink of a breakdown the whole time. I can imagine that I'll be hit with an emotional tsunami when I finally get the keys to a place of my own, for example.

I can detect a lot of unpleasant aggressiveness in my demeanour at times, due to the fact I'm so stressed about crossing the finish line. I'm super defensive and super protective over the progress I've made. I have so little tolerance for anybody who might stand in the way. I have no time for anybody who thinks they've got any ideas of how I should be living my life, because I've got such a clear idea in my mind of what I'm doing and where I'm going. It's so stressful to be so close, but yet so far.

I'm under so much pressure to make my struggles secret. I can't imagine that my work colleagues would understand the journey I've been on to get to this point. It's too mind-blowing for a corporate drone to think about an atypical path through live. It's too much of a taboo to talk about any off-piste moments that aren't CV-friendly, in the world of business and large organisations.

I'm going to keep the details of my working day secret, as is my professional duty, but it's too much to ask of me to bury my blog; to hide my identity. Yes, it's risky, but I need the stability; I need the consistency; I need the continuity.

By writing, hopefully I'm making myself more normal in the flesh. I think that without this outlet I struggle to deal with people face-to-face. Without this outlet, there's no way of getting rid of the bad thoughts and feelings and harmlessly de-fusing things that threaten to blow up in my face. Without this outlet, there's a greater chance of me losing my mind and screwing everything up. I just did 6 months incident-free. 6 months of stability is an amazing achievement, especially considering the toxic circumstances I've had to deal with. By writing, I hope that I can maintain the steady stable changes that have helped me to improve my life, working towards happier times.

I don't even particularly feel like writing today, but I'm doing it because it's part of my routine. Some days we don't feel like going to work, but we do anyway because we need the money. The routine is necessary. The routine is healthy even. It can be easy to give up and stop... to refuse to carry on.

Keeping secrets is a burden. I can't handle any extra burdens right now. I'll do my professional duty and avoid any situations that would infringe my code of conduct, but I can't afford to go stealth; to bury my identity.

Perhaps I seem reckless. Perhaps I seem like I want to have my cake and eat it. I certainly seem to be getting everything I want. I guess I should be humble. I guess I shouldn't take any risks. I guess I shouldn't take any chances. I should grovel and kiss arses, declaring my undying gratitude for a few crumbs from the cake, shouldn't I?

I've been put through the wringer to get to this point, but that doesn't make me want to hide my personality; it doesn't make me want to put the corporate-friendly mask back on. I think it was the fake corporate mask that made me unwell. It was so exhausting pretenting like I'm the perfect employee... a perfect CV; a blemish-free record - no black marks against my name.

So, the open secret is staying here. Fuck it. If you want to buy 100% of me - my brain, my body, my past, my future - then it's going to cost you a lot more than I'm being paid at the moment.




Mother's Day

5 min read

This is a story about thankless tasks...

White rose

If you wanted a companion animal, you should've gotten a dog. If you wanted unconditional love from your dependent, you should've gotten a dog. If you expected to get more out than you put in, you should've gotten a dog.

Children are not dogs. Children can't be trained to be obedient creatures that adore their owners. Children don't owe their parents anything. Respect is earned. Trust is earned. If you want to be loved, love. The arrow of responsibility is clear - parents are responsible for their children, but not vice-versa. Parents make a selfish decision to bring children into existence, without their permission. Existence is agonising. Unless you can give your children the opportunity to do anything they want and fulfil their potential, what the fuck are you doing creating more mouths to feed on this overcrowded planet? To inflict the agony of existence onto an innocent child is a sin. To bring kids into the world when you care more about your studies, your career, your sex life, your drugs, your alcohol, your cigarettes.... what the actual fuck?

I'm an antinatalist. "There's never a right time to have children" - you're damn straight there isn't. Take a look around. Poverty and suffering is rife and living standards are declining. The reason why you were in two minds about getting an abortion is because you know that you should have done. You should have used birth control. Children aren't accidents. We're not primative beasts. We know where babies come from and how to prevent pregnancy. We know how to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Children know when they're unwanted. Children are receptive little sponges, who pick up on all those subtle hints that they've somehow made life more stressful and unpleasant. Children didn't ask to be born.

"What if my child becomes the next Mozart or Einstein?" some mothers might ask. There's a presumption that by choosing not to have children, we might be depriving society of potential geniuses. The truth is that 99.99999% of children will be useless fucktards, tormented by the agony of existence and a total waste of oxygen. The truth is that it's a very flimsy excuse for inflicting existence onto an innocent child, to argue that it's a contribution to society.

There are very good data to suggest that abortions have been hugely beneficial for society. When birth control and abortions became more commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s we saw a huge fall in crime rates 15 or 20 years later. We know that lower birth rates lead to more advanced civilisations. If you consider yourself to be educated and intelligent, you should make the smart choice and not have children, because it's immoral to eject these unfortunate creatures from your vagina into the present harsh reality. The world is a shitty place and it's getting shittier by the day. It would be better not to exist.

If you want a companion animal, get a dog.

Even getting a dog is pretty cruel. Dogs are hungry all the time, bored, and we cut their balls off and cut out their ovaries. Dogs are enslaved for our enjoyment, sitting at home all day in their crates (i.e. cages) waiting for us to return home, patiently waiting for a bit of attention. The life of a child is worse, because a human has greater intellect. A human can better perceive their own suffering. Existence is agony.

If you've got kids, fine, whatever. You did your thing. Whatever. Don't expect me to fucking congratulate on doing what every ancestor of yours did, back to the time when life first sprung into existence. Don't expect a fucking medal for acting just like every other stupid beast that ever existed. There are no medals for acting like slime mould or an amoeba. There are no medals for procreation - it was inevitable that you were going to spread, like bacteria or a parasite; it was inevitable that you were going to act like lichen or moss, or any other kind of fucking brainless organism. No medal.

Being a mother is a thankless task because no thanks are owed. There's no debt. There's nothing to be thankful for. You didn't do anything, except that which every ancestor of yours did back to the first replicating organism that ever existed. No thanks for simply being are owed.

It's harsh, but it's true. I have no reverence for mothers, fathers, parents or any other replicating individual. There's nothing special. There's nothing to be celebrated. There's nothing, except what is demonstrably inevitable given the universal laws of physics and evolutionary biology. I'm sure dads are pretty chuffed that they managed to get somebody pregnant and they've passed on their genes to some unfortunate offspring, but don't ask the children to be grateful. Existence is agony. Existence is a curse.

This is super bitter and aggressive, but this is the fact of the matter. Existence is a curse. No thanks are due. If you had a shred of morality, you wouldn't inflict existence on the innocent. If you had a shred of moral decency, you wouldn't perpetuate the suffering.

Yes, children bring joy. Yes, children have moments of happiness. The point is though, do they owe you any thanks? Are children inheriting a world they're going to be able to have a nice life in? Perhaps there would be thanks due if living standards were improving, but they aren't. All that awaits is a life of indentured servitude. All that awaits is climate change, economic collapse, housing crises, pensions crises, debt crises and all the other problems that have been stored up for the younger generations; the childless.

It's immoral to just hope for the best, when the evidence is quite clear - the world's a fucked up miserable place. Thanks for nothing.




No Fiction. No Fantasy

7 min read

This is a story about novels...

Why I write

I wonder why I don't write more fiction. I wonder why I haven't retreated into a fantasy world. I think it's because my reality has been stranger than fiction; my life has had more drama than any fable I've read. I wonder why I'm not compelled to delve into the realm of science fiction. I think it's because I'm entranced by the mysteries of the universe - the possibilities of scientific discovery are far more interesting and important than made-up stuff, even if it does fire the imagination.

The first novel I wrote was important, because it allowed me to explore the hardest thing in my life: my addiction. I felt like I was trapped into a destiny that could only lead to health problems, getting in trouble with the police, being locked up on psych wards and in prison, and a premature death. I felt like it was all my fault - because of bad choices - and that there was no escape. In fact, the solution was to take things to their ultimate conclusion in a fictional world. In writing the story of Neil and his descent into the world of addiction, I was forgiving myself. By telling the story, I could understand that addiction is not about moral weakness, stupidity, bad character and individual responsibility. By telling Neil's story, I could see that he was as trapped as I was and that it wasn't his fault that circumstances led him to the brink of the most awful death imaginable.

The second novel - almost but not quite completed - allowed me to play out a fantasy instead of acting it out in real life. I needed to move from an individualistic to a social mindset. I needed to think about people other than myself. Having a cast of characters to play with was important to take me back to a time when I had healthy friendships and a sense of purpose. I was undecided whether to write a utopian novel or a dystopian one. In the end I decided that it would be both, because life is messy. I was very strict with myself, trying to keep things grounded in reality and not fudge awkward details. It was very hard. Some of the point of writing fiction is to allow the author to fantasise about whatever they want and construct the back story to conveniently fit the world they want to create. I didn't allow myself that artistic freedom - I wanted the reader to understand how hard it would be for somebody to create a better society.

I wonder why I write. In my mind I've been writing every day for three years, but the reality is that I've skipped a lot of days and it's more like two and a half years. In my mind, I've written a million words, but the actual word count is 844,000 and it's more like 750,000 if you subtract the word count of my two novels. In my mind, this blog tells a clear and consistent story of rags to riches, and explains the complexity of mental health and addiction. In reality, I've written 750,000 words of self-centred drivel and a very great deal of it is quite vindictive and passive-aggressive. Undoubtedly though, it's a project I feel proud of, despite the realisation that a lot of what I've written is garbage, spewed out when I was very unwell. It makes me cringe to read stuff I wrote when I was high or otherwise strung-out due to sleep deprivation and drug abuse. It's very difficult to re-live periods when I was extremely distressed, due to bad jobs, financial woes, housing insecurity, depression, anxiety and lots of other awful things.

I have regularly proclaimed that I'm going to make a change, only to fail spectacularly to enact one. When I stopped writing my blog during November of last year to write my second novel, I found it really hard to live without my daily blog post. I write because it's a habit and a coping mechanism, and without it I struggle. I write because it gives me stability in an otherwise unstable life.

It surprised me how little traction I was getting in terms of getting readers and Twitter followers, until 6 months ago or so. My social media engagement - likes, comments and shares - was abysmal. Why on earth was I pouring my heart and soul into a project when so few people were reading? Who would spend two years of their life writing stuff that hardly anybody wanted to read? Turns out there aren't any short-cuts; there's no easy way. If you're not writing regularly then you're not going to get regular readers. It's hard damn work to build something that anybody thinks is worth reading. I don't think that my stuff is "worth reading" but I'm glad that I exist in the form of these words on the page; I'm glad I've put myself out there for the world to judge me.

I regularly read quite a few blogs and I enjoy the sense of participation in the lives of those people. I like knowing what's going on in their worlds, and what the history is that led them to the present day - what makes them tick. To begin with, it's easier if a person writes short and sweet little updates and a relationship is formed slowly over time, but then I'm often left feeling I want more - I wish people wrote more. I'm always surprised by how infrequently some people write and how reserved they are. I guess we can't all have verbal diarrhoea like me, huh?

A friend describes how he listens to the radio or watches Youtube vloggers because he's used to the voices, the personalities - it's company. I hope that if I can be consistent that I'm providing a kind of company for my readers - I'm a familiar voice too. I worry that I'm droning on and that I transmit far more than I receive, but it's helpful for me to keep this regular thing going. At least I'm still here in the land of the living if I'm writing. It serves as a kind of heartbeat if nothing else - if I go quiet then people will worry, and not without good reason. Thinking "what am I going to write about today?" is a purpose, in the absence of another. A purpose is important, in life.

If you wanna be a writer, you've got to write. I'm not sure if I want to be a writer, because they're very badly paid and their artistic freedom is restricted by the need to write commercially-viable pieces. In fact, I am a writer, first and foremost. I have a job that pays the bills and gives me plenty of time to write - I'm one of the best paid writers you know. I'm not sure I'm a novelist, but I'm definitely a writer. I'm definitely going to continue until I've reached my 3-year anniversary and a million words published on this blog, later this year.

I'm not particularly motivated to write fiction at the moment because I want to know how my own story ends. My life is going through an exciting period with some very real "will he?/won't he?" jeopardy. It's a nail-biter.




Poets Day

6 min read

This is a story about the gravy train...

Ikea meatballs

If you think that I'm in a cyclical pattern that I need to break out of, you might consider that we are all in a cyclical pattern - Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, weekdays and weekends, morning and evening, summer and winter. Round and round we go.

It occurred to me that I'm repeating so many things I've done in the past - buying a car, starting a new job, renting an apartment, getting through the working week. The paycheques will start to get queued up and one month will look very much like any other. I'll be well and truly back into the never-ending cycle, but the 'good' one.

Renting an apartment is going to be stressful, and the last time I did it I was left exhausted and financially exposed, which tipped me over the edge - I presented myself at my doctor's surgery and said that I was afraid that I couldn't keep myself safe. I was hospitalised after 13 hours of waiting. Could I be risking a repeat of that?

How many times have I managed to start a new job and get myself into a place of my own without having some kind of breakdown? 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017... every year I managed to keep a roof over my head and enough money to pay the bills, although I got into debt when I got sick. I don't think it's the wrong thing to do, to get a job and rent an apartment. One of these days things are going to go smoothly for me. One of these days I'm going to have a run of good luck.

Yes, there's a lot of repetition in my life. There's repetition in your life too - you eat three meals a day, sleep in the same bed every night, drive the same car, go to the same job, sleep with the same partner. It's not the repetition that makes my life have repeated crises. In fact it's the disintegration of good things - social groups, stable accommodation, secure employment, healthy finances - that prompts and gets intermingled with the problems... cause and effect are hard to unpick, but you need a whole host of things if you want to have a sustainable and liveable life. You should try living in a hostel, losing your job, losing your friends, running out of money... those things are horribly stressful and destructive to anybody's mental health. When you get a whole clusterfuck of issues all at once, that's more than anybody could ever cope with.

I tried to focus on money alone, knowing that other things would slot into place more easily with money behind me. It was three months of hell, but I built up enough of a financial cushion to make some big changes, like getting a girlfriend, buying a car and getting a local job. Next is getting a place of my own and building up some more cash reserves. Life is more tolerable, now that I'm no longer having to work in London, live in AirBnBs and be isolated and alone. Life is more tolerable now that I work with a nice team of people who I see every day.

My week was very relaxed, except for the early morning starts. The early mornings have their perks - it means I can leave early and beat the evening rush hour. I was home by about 4:30pm this afternoon, which is phenomenally good. I'm very lucky.

A couple of weeks ago I dreaded going to work, I dreaded going to London and I had hit the wall - I couldn't go on anymore. I'd reached the limit of what I could endure anymore. Now, I've actually finished the working week feeling really good about how things have gone. It was a rough start to the week, but things have steadily improved. I can't quite believe how quickly and easily the week has gone. I've managed to work 40 hours instead of the dismal 16 that I was managing in the previous job, and the time has flown by. It was such a struggle in the previous job and the time really dragged, but this week's been so great in comparison to my working weeks in London.

Things are so damn relaxed in the new job. Yes, people get to work early but they leave really early too. My colleague left the office at 2pm. I left the office at 4pm. I've really not been working very hard at all, but yet I've achieved plenty - I'm exceeding expectations. I'm quite comfortably able to meet the demands of my job without much effort, which is actually a good thing. I could do with coasting for a bit. I could do with some easy laid-back living for a while.

Round and round I go, stuck in my cyclical pattern, but hopefully I'm getting into good habits now. I'm going to bed early so I can get up early to get to work. I'm cutting down my drinking and I've stopped taking sleeping pills. I'm socialising. I'm shopping and going to the cinema and having meals out. My life is very rapidly becoming quite pleasant. Monday morning was shockingly awful, but Friday afternoon has been every bit as good as it should be - a good job well done and a load of money earned... another step closer to getting back on my feet.

As always, I'm a little paranoid that something's going to go wrong. I don't want to be completely crushed if something doesn't work out. I don't want to be psychologically destroyed if things don't go as planned. I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic, and not allow myself to get carried away. "Don't spend it until you've earned it" is a mantra I've always subscribed to, but you don't get to be financially prudent when your life and your health disintegrates. I've always kept rainy day money aside and not over-stretched myself. I had a life that could withstand a lot of shocks, but so much stuff got broken that I've ended up in pretty deep shit, but I'm on the mend. I'm not going to relax until I have a substantial financial cushion again, plus the friends, girlfriend, job, apartment etc. etc.

So, it's Friday evening and my work is done for the week. I'm not dreading Monday morning, which is great. Maybe I'll get that sinking feeling on Sunday. We shall see.





I Don't Miss London

7 min read

This is a story about life in the provinces...

Primrose hill sunrise

For four years I tried in vain to get back my old life where I was an eligible bachelor living in the Angel Islington, zone one, and I could walk to work in the City and all the trendy bars and restaurants on Upper Street or skateboard into the West End. I used to park my car right outside my flat and go kitesurfing on whichever beach tickled my fancy on any given weekend. I used to jet off to exotic locations for several holidays a year. I was living the dream, and I tried to recreate that dream but I failed.

The closest I ever got to being happy in London was when I was homeless. Sleeping rough in Kensington Palace Gardens will be a memory I'll treasure forever, as will the hostels where I made friends with heaps of junkies and alcoholics. I started to rebuild a social group amongst my fellow homeless, and that made me happy; secure.

Blending a 'normal' life with one of homelessness and fraternising with the homeless is not easy. Keeping regular office hours is hard when your friends work doing casual labour and as part of the gig economy. Living in a hostel dorm, but having to go to work suited and booted in a crisp shirt and sharp suit, is something that's quite difficult. In the end, I lost everything again.

I wouldn't opt for the high-risk, high-reward strategy again, in London. It's too much pressure to maintain a high-living lifestyle. It wasn't really my choice to rent a luxury riverside apartment... I asked a friend if he'd help me find a place to live - given that I was homeless - and he decided that 25% of my monthly salary didn't sound like too much of a big financial commitment.... except it was actually thousands of pounds a month that I *HAD* to keep earning after I signed the lease. I wouldn't do that again.

Everything's a little easier in the provinces. I can drive to work. I can park for free. The roads aren't congested as hell and I don't have to pay a congestion charge. People are more laid back and they work shorter hours. It's easier to impress the bosses and the work's really easy too. Things are less competitive. Things are less hectic; stressful.

I feel bad that my lifestyle's quite polluting, but I can drive into town and park to go shopping. I can drive to see my girlfriend and park outside her house. I can leave work at 4:30 and be home before 5pm. I can drive to the beach. It's not an energy-efficient global-warming conscious lifestyle at all, but it's a hell of a lot less stressful and exhausting than living in an overcrowded city.

I love the social aspect of London, where there are so many interesting people and fascinating cultural events, but I was always too stressed out and unwell to participate. I was barely surviving in London for most of those four years. I was able to hang out in my lovely apartment for two years, but I was completely withdrawn - I hardly ever left the apartment.

I never quite got back to having everything I needed in London - there was always one thing that was badly broken in my life. When I had the apartment, I lost my job. When I got a girlfriend, I ran out of money. When I had money, I lost my friends. It's really hard to get and keep the things you need in London, mostly because everything's really expensive and takes a lot of effort and energy. You need to run just to stand still in London.

I commuted home from work just now and I sat in a big queue of traffic, but it was moving slowly and it didn't take long before I got through it. The sun was shining and I was in my little car, which is actually thoroughly decent for the money I paid for it, and it was alright. I could've phoned somebody for a chat. You can't phone a friend for a chat when you're stuck on an underground train.

Life's a hell of a lot simpler outside London. Things are within the realms of possibility quite easily. It won't totally bankrupt me to rent a nice apartment locally. Buying, taxing and insuring a car hasn't completely bankrupted me. The cost of living is substantially cheaper than London, to the point where money should hopefully quickly accrue. Tomorrow I will have earned enough money to pay for 6 months rent, which is great because I'll soon get to the point where I have more financial security. I need to have more security. It's been too long that I've been hustling like hell, trying to get back into civilised society.

I wish I could've made it work in London because I'm a proud person and it feels like I failed, but I made a few wrong choices and mistakes are costly in London. Everything's costly in London. At least London's big enough that you can make some really big screw-ups and get away with it.

There's pressure in the provinces to not screw things up, because your nosey neighbour is gonna know about it and never let you forget if you make a mistake, but life's a hell of a lot easier. Yes, you might have to hide your face in shame; you might have people gossiping about you behind your back; you might become a 'known' face, rather than just an anonymous member of the seething masses, like you are in London. I'm glad I went through all my troubles in London, where nobody will ever remember me - in theory, I live my life without prejudice, because I've been able to leave that part of history behind. That's one of the reasons why I've not gone back to Bournemouth - because of my messy divorce and the fact my ex-wife still lives there... it's her place now.

My life's got the potential to be delightfully simple and straightforward. I can almost sense the possibility of having a work:life balance. Things might become sustainable - it's certainly within the realms of possibility. I earn bucketloads and the cost of living is so much less here in the provinces, there's a good chance I can quickly get back on my feet.

I've only worked a week in the new job, but I'm making good progress and I'm managing to cope with the early morning and the lack of sleeping pills. I've managed to get where I wanted - local friends, local girlfriend, local job, car, roof over my head, money in the bank. There are things that still need fixing, like having a place of my own and getting more job and financial security, but those things will come soon enough as long as I can keep turning the pedals; keep getting up in the morning and going to work.

The guy I work with works a snail's pace, but that's OK. It's a marathon not a sprint. It's good for me to learn to work at a slower pace - it's more sustainable. I can't believe that we've achieved so little in the best part of a week, but who cares? The pace of life is slower in the provinces. We'll get there in the end. No rush.

If things go wrong, I'll probably end up eating my words and rushing back to the capital, because there's bucketloads of easy money to be made there. Here in the provinces, there are fewer choices. Of course I'm going to go back to London, chasing girls and big money contracts if this provincial life doesn't work out for me. London has rich pickings, where the provinces have only a few options that you'd be really happy with. I'll try to make it work, but it'll be more heartbreaking out here in the sticks, where it's hard to be philosophical about things not working out - there are only a few companies that you'd want to work for, and there are fewer potential soulmates.

At the moment, I'm quietly optimistic. It's Friday tomorrow, and despite the dreadful Monday morning, the trajectory of the week has been one of steady improvement. It bodes well.




Frayed at the Edges

7 min read

This is a story about being run down...

Pile of rusty bikes

I'm tempted to have a moan about the various ailments that have been hanging around for a couple of weeks, and the fact I'm really exhausted. I'm tempted to compare myself to my work jumper that was attacked by moths and is full of holes. There's something tired and tatty about me. My laptop has taken a battering, just like my poor body. There are plenty of clues that I've had a rough few years, but I'm feeling like I've gone on about it far too much. I've written so much about my distress that I'm reluctant to write any more - I'm aware that I've been a broken record for far too long.

I feel like I've overstated the case. I feel like I've protested too much. I feel like I have been unfair; unkind. I feel like my response has not been proportionate; reasonable. What about the starving Africans? What about the other people who have it so much harder than me?

I pretty much only have one strategy for getting out of a bad situation, and that's to work. Most of the time I'm not able to work at work - I'm underemployed - so I write. I write a lot. The amount of writing that I do is inversely proportional to the amount of actual paid work that there is to do. The more I'm writing, the more indicative it is that I'm distressed and trying to keep myself occupied. It might not look like a useful endeavour, but it's a kind of productivity that I can derive some satisfaction from, even it it's a bit counter-productive at times.

I wonder how run-down I've got. I sleep a lot, but I also have lengthy periods where I'm in a state of anxiety that's very exhausting. To be on high-alert all the time demands a lot of energy - it's draining. I can't explain it. I don't have much to do at work, but somehow that's worse than being really busy. I don't know why I've arrived at a point where I feel so run-down, but there's plenty of evidence - my immune system's really low, I'm prone to random bouts of crying, I'm tired all the time, I'm not coping.

I'm tired of being miserable. I'm tired of writing about depression and anxiety. I'm tired of worrying my friends. I'm tired of writing the same old things. I'm tired of the repeated themes; the monotony.

Some things are better. I have a lot more people to talk to at work. I'm managing to get through 7 or 8 hours and it's bearable for quite a lot of the day.

Some things are worse. I have to get up early. I have to prove myself in the new job.

Some things will get worse before they get better. I'll rent a place of my own soon(ish) but it will be stressful. I'll take a holiday, but I need to get through the first few weeks at work before I can have some time off.

I know that the days are getting longer and spring is on its way. I know that I have a huge head start this year, versus all the terrible winters I've had in previous years. I know that I'm very lucky that multiple important things in my life are going alright at the moment. In theory, things are looking up.

In practice, I'm battling to get into my new routine and get my body clock used to early morning starts. I've started from a run-down position, due to a rough couple of months working in London. I shouldn't complain, but it's a bit of a struggle.

Versus Monday morning, things have improved. Monday morning was dreadful. Every morning is dreadful, but hopefully things are going to improve day by day, provided I keep going. It feels tough but I'm sorry for whinging. Hopefully the really bad moments - like Monday morning - are becoming more infrequent.

I worry about tomorrow morning, as I do so often. I worry that I'm going to hit the wall and be unable to face the day. I worry that if I'm unable to face the day, I won't be able to face making my excuses either... I'll just abandon everything and turn my phone off. If I abandon everything then I won't be able to face the world again - it's been too hard to get to this point. I worry that I'll abandon hope, and life. I don't feel hopeless presently, but I worry that I will feel hopeless and that my hopes are dashed. Hopelessness is what leads me to feel like I should end my life.

I'm not sure how I feel about tomorrow - if I can get the horrid morning bit out of the way - but I think it's a little bit hopeful. I'm not exactly looking forward to going to work, but I'm not dreading it in the same way as I was with the previous job. I've got some stuff to do, which is better than having nothing to do. I speak to people at work now, so that makes the day more bearable. I don't feel useful, or that anybody's depending on me, which are reasons to get up and face the day. Perhaps things will improve though. The fact that I think that things might improve shows that I have hope, which is progress - maybe it'll make things a little easier tomorrow.

With lots of tiny marginal improvements, like not stressing so much about arrangements for showering and work clothes tomorrow, and my commute becoming more routine, the anxiety and dread is diminishing. It's mundane but it makes a big difference. I had been routinely bored out of my mind, isolated and lonely at work, which was causing me a great deal of distress, but things are changing. I need to get out of the habit of feeling anxious about the working day, because it's not going to be as awful as it has been in the past couple of months.

It's a shame I'm run down and in danger of hitting the wall, but if I can just muddle through the next few weeks then I should establish a healthy working pattern - things will become sustainable; tolerable.

There have been moments during the last three days that have reminded me of what I've been so desperate to get away from. I've thought that I'm broken and I can never work again. I've thought about getting up and walking out. I've thought about quitting and never going back to work. I think it's just going to take time to re-adjust from a job where there was nothing for me to do, and no way of filling the time that I could cope with, to a new paradigm where I at least have people to talk to. The last job was unbearably toxic to my mental health. This job is gonna be alright probably, but it'll be a little while before I'm busy and into the routine - there are going to be moments where I feel a little bored and isolated, but things will get better because I'm part of a team of people I can chat to.

I'm so reluctant to speak optimistically because I'm scared that I'm going to hit the wall. I feel like I have so little in reserve. I feel like I'm running on an empty fuel tank. On the other hand, I'm getting on with it - I'm managing to take things one day at a time.

Time is the healer. That's what I keep telling myself - if I can just keep creeping along one day at a time, then time will do its work. I just need to keep getting through one day at a time and then easier times will arrive, provided I don't hit the wall and give up.