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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


Airbrushing History

5 min read

This is a story about the right to be forgotten...

Twitter 404

If you're transgender, you might want all records expunged which could link you to the gender you had previously identified as. Similarly, if you're recovering from an illness or being otherwise rehabilitated, you don't really want the whole world to know you were sick. We have specific laws which stop people from revealing a person's old name or other identity details, after they have changed gender. We have specific laws which allow criminals to be fully rehabilitated after their convictions are 'spent' - nobody is allowed to know that they were in prison after a certain amount of time has elapsed since they "served their time". Our medical histories are private and confidential, and to reveal details of somebody's medical records would be a criminal act.

We work very hard to ensure that people's entire future isn't jeopardised and prejudiced by things that happened in the past. We have laws that specifically forbid discrimination, and others which prevent questions being asked and requests for information which is an invasion of privacy, and would be liable to be used against a person in a discriminatory manner.

Things get a bit harder when we start to talk about things that we ourselves have somehow made public. If you decided to put your full name, date of birth, place of birth, where you work and what you ate for breakfast onto Facebook or Twitter, should you suffer the consequences for your naïvety when sharing such things on the internet?

Sometimes the internet doesn't forget.

Google has quietly dropped access to its caches - you used to be able to see copies of a webpage that Google had stored, so you could see things that had been deleted or changed - you can't do that anymore.

In theory, if you put something up on the internet which you later regretted, removing it should eventually mean that it's digitally deleted and therefore it's as if it never existed - it's not like a newspaper or a book, where ink and paper were combined to create a permanent physical record. If some of the 1s and 0s of binary data get changed on the internet, it's virtually impossible to prove that any data has been deleted or amended at all. I could forge a copy of any webpage I wanted, saying whatever I wanted it to say - how is it possible to prove that a copy of a webpage is a bona fide snapshot of what it looked like at a certain point in time? It's impossible.

There are parts of the internet that have been copied so many times onto so many different computers that the archives will probably never be lost. "Blockchain" is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot at the moment, which is just another word for a load of data which is held on loads of computers, all connected together on the internet. This is what we understand to be an "immutable" record of how a piece of data looked at a certain point in time, because there's consensus amongst multiple sources, such that it's highly likely that a person did write something on a certain date, back in the early days of the internet, preserved in the archives... or that a certain transaction took place, preserved in the blockchain. However, the internet is now far too large for there to be any kind of archive of everything, let alone multiple copies which could prove conclusively what a webpage looked like on a certain date.

Thus it's almost but not quite possible to airbrush history on the internet. The internet is somewhat amnesic.

I've tried to avoid deleting anything from my website or editing stuff that I've published, but occasionally I think that discretion is the better part of valour, and I modify or delete things. Often times I regret deleting and modifying things... there always seems to be a consequence for removing information which could hold people accountable... better to hold your ground and simply take a position of truth and honesty, I think.

We have laws which protect people who are honest and truthful. Journalism would not be able to survive the libel lawsuits if we didn't enshrine the right to speak truthfully into law. In the UK we don't have absolute freedom of speech like in the United States, but we do have the right to speak and write provided we speak truthfully and our opinions are the fair and reasonable ones that any person would be likely to share, given the same set of facts.

My strange crusade of the past few years has been to write with candid unflinching honesty, everything about myself, both good and bad. Sometimes however, I've had to write about things that are upsetting me, which has involved writing about other people and sometimes about organisations. It's difficult to know where to draw a line. If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that 99% of people have completely different feelings about risk and privacy from me. I'm sacrificing my privacy and taking a huge risk, which most people don't want to do, so I need to be careful I don't accidentally co-opt anybody into my personal crusade. It should be noted that I take extreme care not to identify anybody or share anything private which could be linked to any individual.

Thankfully, most people don't give a shit about anybody other than themselves, so I've been able to write pretty much whatever the hell I want and nobody gives a damn.




Surviving Suicide

6 min read

This is a story about psychological impact...


I don't have a photo to capture the moment I regained consciousness in the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) of a hospital, but it was a bit like the photo above, but scaled up.

I'm no stranger to canulas, having spent far too many weeks in hospital receiving intravenous fluids, but I came round with about 6 different tubes all pumping stuff into my bloodstream through various canulas on both arms/wrists. I instinctively knew not to panic and start grabbing at stuff - there were a couple of ITU staff who were present when I came out of my coma to make sure I was OK and keep me calm. I noticed a canula coming out of a strange place in my arm with a thin red line of my blood within the plastic walls of the tubing... blood isn't supposed to flow in that direction. "It's an arterial canula" one of the ITU staff explained. "It's monitoring your blood pressure very accurately" they said. I could look up at a screen where, sure enough, all my vital statistics - blood pressure, blood oxygenation, respiration rate, heart rate etc. etc. - were all displayed.

I was put back to sleep.

When I came round again, I'd been lain flat on my back and I was looking at the ceiling. Somebody poked their face into my field of view. They seemed to be asking me a question. I tried to reply but I couldn't. I was confused and a little alarmed. They disappeared. When they reappeared I tried again to speak to tell them that I was mute for some reason. My breathing stopped when I tried to speak, then when I relaxed my breathing started again after a couple of seconds delay. It was a strange sensation but it didn't alarm me. I felt snot running down my face and reached to touch it - there was a rubber tube going up my nose. I fumbled gently across my face with my fingers and felt the tube going down my throat for the first time. Of course! I was on a ventilator - a machine was breathing for me - and I hadn't realised. I was relieved that I hadn't lost my voice. The tube must've been blocking my vocal chords, I reasoned.

I lost consciousness again.

I came round and I had been sat up a little bit. A nurse was asking if I wanted the tubes out. I nodded. He pulled the tube out of my nose, warning me that it might tickle a little bit. There was a sponge lollipop I needed to suck on after they pulled the tube out of my windpipe and out of my mouth, he explained - having been intubated for days was going to have irritated the delicate flesh. The big tube came out, I sucked on the liquid and my throat felt fine... I made a small noise and was relieved to feel the vibration of my vocal chords, reassuring me that I hadn't permanently lost my voice, which had been the most distressing part of the experience.

There was a bag of piss next to me. I was wearing a gown which was completely open at the back. I hadn't been wearing a gown when I'd arrived in hospital. It dawned on me that I'd been undressed and somebody had inserted a catheter while I was unconscious. I was glad that the first and only time I've been catheterised I was unconscious. It did feel very strange knowing that somebody had put a tube into my penis while I was unconscious, and I felt more tethered to the medical apparatus than I've ever felt before - I still had about 7 tubes attached to me, along with 8 cables which were monitoring my heart... 15 connections to machines that were pumping stuff in, taking stuff out, or monitoring my vitals. At its peak when I first regained consciousness, there had been 18+ tubes and cables attached to me.

I closed my eyes.

A doctor was telling me that my organs had started working again and I was going to pull through... I was going to live and wasn't that good news? "Honestly?" I asked. I had failed: It wasn't a cry for help; I hadn't expected to live; I had wanted to die. What had changed?

The arterial canula was removed and I had to shuffle across from the ITU bed onto another bed so I could be wheeled into the High Dependency ward. My bag of piss sloshed and the catheter tube tugged on my penis. I still had a bunch of other tubes attached to various canulas which threatened to snag on things, but I was starting to feel a bit more comfortable - I'd wheeled trolleys with drips and drip pumps around enough times, taking care not to get my tubes in a tangle.

On the High Dependency ward I had a little more time to contemplate what had just happened, but it had been surprisingly physically exhausting considering that most of the time I'd been unconscious in a coma.

A psychiatrist was telling me I could come back to A&E any time if I was feeling suicidal. They gave me a piece of paper with a number to phone if I was having another crisis. Hospital discharge was arriving swiftly.

The catheter was pulled out and I was incredibly grateful that I was unconscious when it went in. I had a shower. In the blink of an eye I was discharged... still struggling to process quite what had just happened to me. What day was it?

I guess I'm still processing what happened to me.

They say that the victims of accidental poisonings very often suffer severe psychological issues for at least a year after they're discharged from hospital. What about deliberate suicidal poisonings?

I knew with certainty that I wanted to die and I never felt a bit of regret or fear or self-doubt. When I got the news I was going to live I felt like I'd failed... I wasn't flooded with relief or any kind of feeling that I was glad to be alive. How do you move from the feeling you want to be dead to the feeling you want to be alive? There's a considerable gap between those two extremes.

In the months following this suicide attempt, I've repeatedly wished that I'd succeeded - I wasn't supposed to go through all the stress and awfulness that I've experienced subsequently... it was all supposed to be over; I was supposed to be dead.

I don't really know what else to say... this is just my raw honest reflection on the 10+ months since I tried to kill myself, and what I can remember during those moments when I regained consciousness.




Are People Just Humouring Me?

5 min read

This is a story about sanity...

Clinical psychology department

Some days I feel like I have very good "insight" - that is to say I'm able to discern between the thoughts and feelings which are caused by mental illness, and those which would seem sane and rational to a "normal" person. Other days, I'm quite clearly as mad as a box of frogs - some days I make terrible decisions and I'm absolutely convinced of things which later prove to have been quite illogical and irrational, perhaps even psychotic, delusional and even hallucinatory.

In the months where I was living with a doctor - although I was working away for most of that time - the doctor seemed particularly intent on picking me apart psychologically; psychoanalysing me. I should note as a caveat that the doctor was not qualified in psychiatry or psychology, which is probably why their conclusions varied from a firmly held belief that I had no mental illness whatsoever, to some pretty wild and random diagnoses.

When you're living with a doctor and they can't decide whether your 100% sane or 100% insane, it's pretty hard to know yourself where you are on the spectrum. I'm pretty confused.

Certainly, when economic necessity imposes itself upon me, I can work for fairly lengthy periods with my colleagues completely unaware that I've been living with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder for the best part of a decade. When the wolf is at the door, I seem to be able to keep a lid on the madness, even though I'm completely unmedicated.

Does this ability to "pick and choose" when I'm "well" and when I'm unwell provide strong evidence that I'm not mentally ill at all? My own father is on record as saying that he doesn't believe I have a mental illness, but instead that I use it as an excuse for my [mis]behaviour... but then he's not a doctor, and neither is he sympathetic towards people who suffer from mental illness either.

I don't know if I do "pick and choose" anyway. I work whenever I can, for as long as I can. Sometimes the timing works out OK, and the very worst of my symptoms can be kept hidden so that my colleagues remain none the wiser to my diagnosed condition. More commonly though, I eventually struggle to keep my mental illness a secret, because it either causes me to be off work sick, or I'm manic in the office, which is never a good situation to be in.

Perhaps the obvious tell-tale signs of something being wrong with me are there all the time, but people are too polite to say anything: they're just humouring me. Sometimes I can't keep my mouth shut and I'm over-enthusiastic. Sometimes I literally cannot drag myself into the office. We all have good days and bad days, but I must be atypical in my working patterns, which would be a giveaway that there's something strange about me.

I was reluctant to use the photo of me not wearing my cunning and infallible disguise, but I decided to use it anyway. A colleague Google'd me and found my blog at the last place I was working. He didn't say anything, but one day he asked if I wear contact lenses. I wonder if there's anything inherently wrong with having a candid, honest blog out on the public internet for all to see. Certainly it was used against me by one or maybe even two unscrupulous bosses, but on the whole I've found that most people read looking for the best rather than digging for the dirt and thinking the worst of me.

I was tempted to do some blog-sanitising, given that I've managed to survive a period when it looked as if all my hard work was going to be destroyed by a period of illness, but I've come out the other side and I'm working again. I really need to have a sustained period of regular income, so that I can sort out my finances and get back on an even keel. It would be quite catastrophic if I was hoisted by my own petard: that my own website was the reason why I lost a lucrative job.

I haven't really proven my worth yet at the latest organisation I'm working for, but I certainly did at all the previous places, which makes me wonder whether I'm just as "normal" as anybody else, or whether I really have a serious mental illness which I'm only just managing to cope with. It certainly feels more like the latter than the former, given the stress, anxiety and struggles I feel I'm going through, even though I'm doing the same kind of work that I've been doing for 20+ years... it should be a walk in the park; easy-peasy, but it's not.

It's hard to put into words the things I struggle with. If you've never experienced anxiety and depression, they're nonsensical to you; irrational. If you have no tendency for your moods to become unregulated and you've never experienced racing thoughts, flight of ideas, pressured speech and becoming completely obsessive about projects, then you'd probably struggle to relate to somebody who has to constantly monitor and alter their natural behaviour.

Sometimes I reflect on my actions and I can see that there are mental illness symptoms which are driving my behaviour, and I try harder to change how I behave in the office. Other times, my moods are just too extreme and I can't self-regulate.

The question always remains in my mind though... how obvious is it that I've "got problems" and how much to people humour me and ignore my weirdness out of politeness?

It's so hard to perceive yourself as others do. It's so hard to be objective about yourself and the thoughts and behaviour you exhibit.




Home Sweet

4 min read

This is a story about boredom...

Hotel room

As if living alone in a city where I only have 2 friends [who are completely unconnected with my work] wasn't boring enough, I at least had to stumble to the local corner shop to buy the various unhealthy snacks and bottles of wine, which were the main constituents of my diet for the last month. Now, I'm in a very bland hotel room and I imagine that boredom is going to drive me to drink... not that I take much persuasion.

Aspects of normal domestic life, such as cooking, cleaning, doing the washing up, taking the bins out, laundry, watering the plants and other things that would occupy a little of my time midweek, are now going to have to be done at the weekend. Perhaps you're envious of me, having my 3 meals a day cooked for me, and having my bedroom and bathroom cleaned and tidied by somebody else every day. I'd have my shirts ironed by somebody else too, but at £3.90 each it seems a little profligate.

As I write, the air conditioning unit squeals and whirrs to my left, while the traffic noise of the nearby motorway is clearly audible to my right. Whenever you change your sleeping arrangements, it always takes a while to get used to the new noises, bed, pillows, bedding: an unsettling change from the familiarity of home, no matter how much of a seasoned traveller you are.

I'm in the land of the industrial estate; the science park; the new enterprise development area - basically loads of offices and warehouses. I'm in the stomping ground of the sales rep, with the car park full of shiny new company cars and the hotel rooms full of men and women who travel all over the country for a living. There are no shops round here. There is no local life - I decided to book a hotel that was as close as possible to the office, until I've gotten to know the city a little bit better.

There's a pub next door to the hotel, which is presumably where I'm going to eat tonight. There's also a bar in the hotel. It's all a little too tempting to camp out with a book while tipping pint after pint of beer into my greedy face.

Back in the hotel room there's a TV and of course I can watch Netflix etc. I guess it's a comfortable enough existence, but it's going to get pretty boring and monotonous. Also, it's not like I'm going to be socialising and making local friends: everybody here is transient like me; just passing through.

I'm killing time even writing this. Of course I want to go to the pub and look at the menu; choose my food. Of course, I don't really need an excuse to start getting drunk... it'll occupy the time.

I do have a friend in the city who I've known for a long time, but he's always busy doing fit and active things: at the climbing wall or the canoeing centre. His life is filled with purpose, energy and enthusiasm, where all mine seemed to just seep away over the past few years. I used to be obsessed with extreme sports and I was a total adrenalin junkie, but now I seem to be just a sad, lonely, functional alcoholic.

It feels horribly wasteful to spend the best part of the next year simply treading water; concentrating on earning money and otherwise parking my life; being drunk all the time to minimise the amount of time I'm fully conscious. If life had a fast-forward button, I'd gladly press it down and hold it for at least 6 months; I'm wishing my life away.

There's an idiom that springs to mind:

The sun is over the yardarm

I'm trying to figure out what's a respectable time for me to abandon this bland hotel room and go to the pub and get drunk, armed with the excuse that I need to have my evening meal.

The boredom of my life seems to have asserted itself in my writing. I'm ashamed at how boring this blog post is, but I'm going to publish it anyway. I promise I'll write something more interesting tomorrow.





2 min read

This is a story about persistence...

Marathon rubbish

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time etc. etc. There are plenty of contrived platitudes about persistence, perseverance, dedication, determination, tenacity, doggedness, pertinacity and all of the many other synonyms that get lightly banded around, generally by people who've led lives of ease, comfort and contentment.

Tomorrow I have to prove myself all over again with a new team, a new boss, a new company, a new project; new challenges and lots of new things to learn.

In the last 12 months, I'll have moved home 4 times, worked for 4 different organisations and tried to string it all together into some form of continuity to allow myself to avoid death, destitution, bankruptcy, career failure, madness, being permanently committed to the loony bin and generally being consigned to the scrap-heap. The number of air miles I've clocked up probably doesn't set any records - not even a personal best - but the number of different beds I've slept in certainly must be some kind of world record; at least indicating just how little stability I've had in something most of us take for granted: where I lay my head to rest at night.

I need to pack a bag for the working week. Tomorrow I need to drive to a new office; a new city; a hotel I've never stayed in before.

One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. One day at a time. The platitudes rain down on my head and they feel like insults: easier said than done.

The money flows in but it must flow out too - I've got to speculate to accumulate. I don't feel well enough to be working, but work I must otherwise I'll fritter away the gains I've made: I've got to run just to stand still.

The needle creeps into the red "danger zone" on the anxiety meter. I'm not sure how I'm going to cope; I don't feel like I am coping.

The demands are relentless.




On The Road Again

4 min read

This is a story about a nomadic lifestyle...

Packed bags

In theory a digital nomad should be able to work from wherever they want, provided there's a decent WiFi signal and somewhere to charge your laptop battery. Why not work from the beach in a hot country? In practice, bosses want bums on seats. I suppose it'd be hard to justify the high income I've come to expect if I was living amongst equally intelligent and capable people, who just happen to have a less desirable nationality on their CV.

I'm washing and drying a whole bunch of shirts, ready for the working week ahead. I'm trying to prepare myself mentally for the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 routine. I'm trying to psych myself up for another period of kipping my mouth shut, my head down and generally trying not to let on that I'm crazy; I'm unwell.

Is it deceitful to pretend to my colleagues that I'm not sick and mentally unstable? Is it dishonest not to declare my mental illness up-front? I don't think it is.

It's my personal life that causes me most of my difficulties, which do unfortunately overspill into office hours sometimes, but I'm more than capable of doing everything that's asked of me and more, provided I have a little leeway on particularly bad days. I don't get paid for the time I take off sick and as long as the work's getting done, I don't see what the problem is.

If I can figure out how to get the support I need - some social fabric in my life - then I'm much more stable and reliable. Perhaps I need to get into the routine of phoning friends more often. I hardly ever speak to anybody except in a work capacity, and at work I'm always presenting a façade of cool, calm, controlled professionalism, no matter what inner turmoil I'm suffering.

Through economic necessity, I've made a choice that is a particularly bad one for my mental health. Living out of a suitcase and going to a place I've never been to and don't know anybody is going to have fairly predictable results: stress, suffering, loneliness, misery.

"You're doing so well" and "you've made such a lot of progress" and "keep going" are the kinds of things that friends say, and I guess they're not wrong. If I can keep going - even just for a few months more - then I'll be cementing a period of progress which has turned my life around, although not yet managed to put me in a financially secure position, yet. Call me impatient if you like, but the suffering I've endured on the journey is not to be taken lightly.

6 or 7 months ago my biggest worry was cashflow - I was so close to bankruptcy. Now my biggest worry is feeling lonely and isolated in a strange new town. It's progress, of a sort.

My lifestyle is a strange one. I can't particularly let my guard down at work. I really don't think my work colleagues could wrap their heads around the journey I've been on during the last 12 months... at least, not until they get to know me better in a work capacity and can see that I'm quite capable of doing a good job. It does however mean that I can never really get close to anybody and confide in them about how I'm really feeling: for that I must look to my friends and my blog.

The danger, of course, is that I try to cope independently. I often forget that I can pick up the phone and try to speak to a friend. Instead, I turn to alcohol, sedatives, tranquillisers and sleeping pills, as I attempt to blot out as much of my consciousness as I can... the less reality that seeps into my brain, because it's numbed by chemicals, the less the horrendous isolation and loneliness robs me of every bit of happiness and contentment.

Obviously, my choices look dangerous and unhealthy; the risks are massive. Economic necessity drives me to act out of desperation.

It would be good if I could find healthy coping mechanisms. Maybe I should stay in a hotel with a gym and a swimming pool, and exhaust myself physically each evening while getting fit, rather than squandering the time watching serious documentaries on TV. As I said before, it would be good if I could develop the habit of phoning a friend, as opposed to reaching for a glass of wine or a tablet.

We'll see what happens.




Hit Me Where It Hurts

7 min read

This is a story about failure...

3D Foot

How many times have I bounced back from a situation that looked dire? It was getting so repetitive - the cycle of boom & bust - that I decided to start documenting things, properly; I decided to commit to attempting to write every day for a year. If I could write every day for a year, that meant I had the discipline to be a writer; I could at least achieve something.

I didn't set out to write for 3 years when I started. I didn't set out to write a million words. I didn't set out to build a Twitter following, get likes on my Facebook page and crawl up the Google search rankings. I didn't know why I was really writing, except that it was a kind of heartbeat: if I was writing, then it meant I was alive.

I haven't achieved my arbitrary goals yet, but I've had some major setbacks. The biggest setbacks have been self-inflicted, I expect.

The gaps where I haven't written tell their own story. When there have been periods when I haven't been writing every day, it's fair to assume that my life was being decimated, usually at my own hands.

It's not a simple case of self-sabotage, when things don't go well in my life and there are problems which appear - to those who don't look too carefully - to be problems of my own making.

I've lashed out. I've written things which, in a different state of mind, I'd have never written. I've written huge amounts which, with retrospect, is quite regrettable. However, I've always tried not to edit and censor. If I'm feeling a certain way at a certain time, I've continued to write in the same style and with the same unflinching honesty, and I've revealed hidden parts of my character - my personality - that have not been very flattering. Perhaps my character and personality are not always the same. Depending on how tired, hungry, scared, lonely and myriad other things I'm feeling will obviously affect my behaviour, and so my writing will contain periods where those strong feelings are expressing themselves through my writing. I'm an open book, and some of the pages - maybe even whole chapters - are not very nice at all.

We all know that families, far from being nonjudgemental places full of unconditional love, can be a battleground where long-held grudges, anger at perceived injustices, shame, regret, secrets, lies and a toxic mix of everything else that goes on behind closed doors, gets thrashed out in quite a violent way, even if the violence is not physical. You know that the way your mother can just look at you in a certain way and you know what she's thinking: she's judging you, and she's disapproving and you know that you're not the only one who's getting the message loud and clear. Malicious information circulates around the family. You can be the golden child or the black sheep. Your image is not yours to own, and nobody can decimate you like your own family.

Relationships - all relationships - have an element of conflict; adversarial negotiation. Each party is trying to best serve their own interests. Whether it's you trying to get a pay rise out of the boss, or whether it's you trying to seduce a lover, there's conflict as much as there's co-operation.

I've lost all my school-friends so often, because of being moved schools 8 times, that it's carried over into adult life and I've struggled to maintain any friends from city to city, from job to job... there's never any continuity. I'm always starting all over again, from nothing.

But, it's not nothing; I'm not starting from nothing. The internet has allowed me to keep a presence in the lives of those who want to stay in touch. The internet's 'social gathering place' has moved around. Websites have closed. Some groups of us migrated from one place to another. I've retained a little continuity.

Having this website - my own ego-domain if you want to be aggressively insulting about it - does at least mean I live somewhere consistent no matter where the wind has blown me. Consistency is important. That's why it upsets me when I get inconsistent. When I skip days. When there are gaps in my writing. If I'm not writing regularly, people think I'm flakey and unreliable: this ceases to be the best place to find out if I'm alive and well or not.

The reasons for losing whole chunks of my blog and whole blocks of followers are complex, but it really upsets me; it hurts me. The reasons why people drift away are more obvious: when I start lashing out and showing an unpleasant side to my character, or when I become inconsistent, it's only natural that people would be turned off by that; be unwilling to use their precious spare time to keep up with a pretty repetitive and grim story, which is extremely self-absorbed and self-pitying. I can only blame myself and cringe with embarrassment at what I've put people through; those who've stuck with me for any length of time.

When everything else in my life is shifting sands I take comfort in knowing that I've travelled a long way on this writing journey. It's been a useful exercise in terms of staying in contact with people who care, and making new friends. It's been a useful exercise in proving to myself that I can do something which takes time, patience, commitment and dedication to achieve.

When I've tried to use what I've built maliciously, it's always backfired spectacularly. In theory, I have leverage; influence. In practice, I'm simply exposed and vulnerable, and if I'm saying and doing bad things, I'm more exposed than you can possibly imagine; I'm more scrutinised; I'm subject to the wisdom of the crowd, which is kinda dangerous for somebody who's so isolated - I very rarely get to sanity-check what I'm thinking with another soul, before it pours out onto the pages of this website.

Perhaps my perceived setbacks are my comeuppance for the times I've lashed out, which have been far too frequent, especially of late. Every blow I seek to strike seems to glance off my target and land back upon me a hundredfold. Why should I expect anything else, when my whole soul - my whole psyche - is laid bare for all to see? Why wouldn't those who've already done me harm use this repository of my every weakness against me? I've loaded the gun and handed it to my enemies, haven't I? I've provided the weapons; the ammunition.

I don't feel too sorry for myself. I feel like I've brought misfortune on myself, insofar as the setbacks I perceive with where I've wanted to take this writing project.

It still hurts though, to know that I've lost pieces of something that's so valuable to me, even if it only exists "virtually". If you want to hurt me, this is definitely the place to do it.

The challenge for me now is to try to turn things around. Can I redeem myself? Can I make sense of any of this and give it any meaning, beyond an angry bitter rant? Can I leave any kind of legacy other than the ravings of a lunatic?




Recovering Regularity

3 min read

This is a story about rhythm and routine...

No hands clock

I've had a shaky couple of months with a breakup and a work project finishing. My life of simple domestic bliss was smashed to smithereens. My routine was shattered and my life had become chaotic; it looked like I was on collision course with total disaster.

I wouldn't say that disaster is averted. I now need to get into a completely different and quite uncomfortable routine than the one that I was enjoying a couple of months ago. Already, I'm lacking any routine social contact, love, care or affection. Getting back to work will at least give me some social contact from Monday to Friday. As far as domestic bliss goes, that's gone out of the window: I shall be living out of a suitcase again, living in hotels and AirBnBs until I figure out how long I'm going to be working away from "home".

As I've written at length, I don't really know where to call home. Estranged from most of my family, having made perhaps only one or two local friends, having no other local connection other than the bizarre circumstances that brought me here, having had two unpleasant periods of conflict which have been distressing and upsetting, I'm left feeling generally unwelcome in the area... unwelcome anywhere perhaps. It's always me who's the odd one out; the weirdo; the freak; the outsider.

All I can do is try to force myself to comply with a very unpleasant routine, which will leave me feeling even more unsettled, but will at least keep the cash rolling in. I have this unshakeable belief that if I concentrate on achieving financial security and freedom, then I can dare to dream about where I really want to be, and what I really want to be doing. At the moment, there's no point tormenting myself with unattainable dreams.

Early Monday mornings and Friday evenings are going to be spent bumper-to-bumper on the motorway, along with every other poor soul who can't find a local job. I'll be hoping I have packed everything I need for the working week. I'll be throwing myself into the new job, immersing myself in the work, but what will I do in the evenings? Watching TV and movies in a hotel room on my own, I expect. What will I be looking forward to? The weekends? There's not a lot of excitement in returning to a place where you don't really have any friends or family. Think of the money and count down the days, weeks and months until I'm free: that's all I can really do.

It's an exercise in clock-watching, much more akin to serving a prison sentence than waiting for the end of your working day.

What is it you look forward to at the end of your working day? Seeing your loved ones? Seeing your pet(s)? Relaxing in the comfort of your own home? Eating a home-cooked meal?

What if you have none of those things to look forward to?

Watch the clock.

Count the money.

Count down the days.

Inch along at snail's pace.





No Culture Kid

2 min read

This is a story about national identity...

Passport place of birth

It's pretty clear from my passport what my national identity is: Welsh. Other people might ask "where were your parents born?". I only know where my dad was born, so what can we decide?

I moved around so much growing up I'm not sure where my home town is, my home county, the part of the country or even the nation to which I should pledge allegiance.

"Anyone but England" say the Welsh and the Scots. Certainly if it's rugby, there's no doubt that I'll be supporting Wales.

When I think of "The English" I immediately think of racists; I think of the St. George's flag, and the bigotry that it's emblematic of. When I think of "The English" I can't reconcile them with the cosmopolitan and multicultural people of London: the city where I've spent the majority of my adult life.

I'm having an identity crisis. Coming 'home' to Wales has been a challenging and confusing experience, which has ultimately left me feeling very isolated and lonely; rejected.

As we speak, England have just scored in the World Cup semi-final. Fewer than 6 minutes of the game have elapsed. I'm emotionally unmoved.

Perhaps I don't belong anywhere.

I don't feel like I belong anywhere.




The Tuesday that Didn't Happen

4 min read

This is a story about not going anywhere...

Unmade bed

The question of free will - whether we have it or not - is one that often troubles me. The problem with assuming that we have absolute freedom of choice at all times, is that it does not take reality into consideration. Often times when we see people who have been affected by a natural disaster - or even a man-made one - we might naïvely ask "why don't they just move?". It must seem fairly obvious that a low-lying country like Bangladesh is regularly going to suffer terrible flooding, and in the long run it's going to be underwater due to rising sea levels. Surely people - with their free will - should just do the rational thing and move somewhere better than Bangladesh?

To now talk about not being able to get out of bed because I felt depressed, when I've just been talking about some of the world's poorest people, whose whole country is under threat of being wiped out, is rather vomit-inducing, so I'm going to need to find a segue which doesn't imply that I consider my first-world-problems to be comparable.

Why this obsession with comparison anyway? Why should we compare ourselves to a starving African child but shouldn't we compare ourselves with a professional footballer? Who gets to choose who it's right to compare ourselves to, and who it's wrong to compare ourselves to? Who decides that?

I often think about that one person - the only man or woman on the whole planet - who can genuinely claim in all honesty that their life is worse than anybody else's. It's obvious that one single individual exists at any one time, who by all objective and subjective measures, everyone would agree is the only person in the world who can feel sorry for themselves, because they're the most wretched and unfortunate; they're suffering the most. Nobody can say to that one person "things could be worse" because they really couldn't be. For that one person, none of the oft-quoted platitudes are applicable.

Again, am I inducing vomit, talking about the world's most unfortunate human being - the one who's suffering the most - in the same piece of writing where at some point, presumably, I'm going to segue into talking about myself, which implies that I'm comparing my own suffering with that of the world's current #1 sufferer, who obviously must be suffering unimaginably, given the very great suffering that the bulk of humanity endures.

Let's return to the troubling question of free will. Given free will - absolute freedom of choice at all times - why choose to have children in war-torn and disaster affected countries that live in dire poverty? Why choose to carry on living, when your life is full of misery and suffering? Are these not two sides of the same coin? Who wants to watch their children suffer and die? Are we not certain indeed, that all life eventually leads to pain, suffering and death quite naturally anyway? Who wants to grow old and infirm? Who wants to be sick and senile? This isn't one of my antinatalistic rants, this is a genuine puzzle to me: in a world of free will, who would knowingly inflict this moral suffering onto their offspring, and indeed continue to suffer themselves, when it seems far more logical to just kill yourself - quickly and painlessly - at the first opportunity.

Given absolute freedom of choice, why did you choose your mediocre life, with all its suffering and stress? Why didn't you choose to be the world's most attractive quintillionaire and king/queen of the universe? It seems rather stupid of you to have used your free will to make all the choices that have led you to the point where you're just waiting for you and all the children you've created, to die in suffering and pain.

The fact that my Tuesday didn't happen seems quite irrelevant in the face of the question: "why don't I just kill myself?".