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The world's longest suicide note: ONE MILLION words.

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

All opinions are my own.

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Wishing My Life Away

8 min read

This is a story about the perception of time...

The show

Smoke machines, lasers, fountains, stage lights, people in costumes, animatronics and a powerful public address soundsystem combine to create quite a spectacle, for evening entertainment in Turkish Disneyworld. There are lots of magical, surprising and delightful moments in this theme-park, with adjoining hotel, and there's lots to do. Time has passed quite weirdly slowly though.

It struck me that I won't quite let myself relax and enjoy myself, because I'm extremely paranoid that something's going to go wrong, and my paint-by-numbers simple plan to restore my life to debt-free, health, wealth and prosperity, is going to be ruined by something unexpected.

I suppose people who have borrowed heavily against their future predicted earnings, so that they could buy a house and a car, have resigned themselves to sleepless nights worrying about losing their job and being unable to make repayments, rapidly causing their entire comfortable existence to crumble and be irreparably destroyed by reposessions, bailiffs and a bad credit score. If you go bankrupt, you won't even be able to rent a place to live or get a good job, because of credit checks and general employment contract exclusions, discriminating against former bankrupts.

If you imagine that there's a safety net there to catch you, you're naïve. Every property you might hope to rent is not only barred to bankrupts, but also to anybody receiving housing benefit. "NO DSS" every single advert for every single property on the market, quite clearly states. Capitalism and banking are closing ranks, creating an system that goes beyond that of a hostile environment to actively create homeless, unemployable, economic lepers who can't get back into civilised society no matter how hard they try.

Legislation which addresses the rehabilitation of former offenders, is quite strict about who is and isn't allowed to know a person's criminal record, but the system of credit checks and your credit file is firmly in the civil sector, however the use of credit data is extensively used to discriminate against people. Those who are in receipt of state welfare benefits are discriminated against, wherever that data is available to the rentier class.

We are increasingly corralled into minimum-wage zero-hours contract McJobs, with zero security and insufficient pay to afford a basic standard of living, where every letter which hits the doormat potentially delivers an economically catastrophic blow. While wealthy ignoramuses far removed from the reality of daily life for ordinary people, imagine that the social problems must be due to poor budgeting skills, they simply haven't a clue what it's like to live your entire life not having any surplus money to set aside for unexpected demands for cash, such as parking fines and suchlike. If a person who's in receipt of £73 weekly income gets a £80 parking fine, how are they supposed to pay it?

Of course, I'm clearly far-removed from the struggles of poverty, but in fact, am I?

I am lucky enough to be able to survive more than 2 missed paycheques without ending up on the street, when 1/3rd of UK people are not so fortunate. However, my so-called financial security is due to having access to a good line of credit, which is not the same as having a pot of savings for unexpected expenses. If I suffer another period without income, I slip deeper into debt and my miserable existence continues.

It might seem foolish to spend money on a new iPhone and a holiday, when I'm deep in debt, but I worked for 10 consecutive months without a nice relaxing break. The rewards for my hard work have come in the guise of a place to live and enough money to be able to travel to work, which aren't really rewards at all. The next big reward is going to be the repayment of a significant chunk of debt, which again isn't really a reward. Working relentlessly without reward is not a sustainable situation, so I've chosen to prolong my indebtedness a little bit, because I can't put my entire life on hold and eating cold baked beans, living in a cardboard box, for the sake of getting out of debt a little quicker.

There are many aspects of my attitude and behaviour which seem very vulgar. How dare I talk about poverty and financial distress, when I seemingly have a good job and spare cash? How dare I talk about money worries and the burden of debt? How dare I compare myself with people who are two missed paycheques away from ending up on the streets?

I've been on the streets. I've slept rough. I know how quickly everything can fall apart. I can tell you exactly how I'd end up back on the streets.

Yes, I can borrow to service the interest on my loans, but that only delays the inevitable temporarily. Yes, I'm seemingly quite employable, but there's no point getting a job which doesn't pay enough money to repay my debts. Yes, I seem to have access to enough cash for rent, deposit, car and other major expenses, but that cash comes from my credit facilities, not my savings.

I've been battling a toxic combination of ill-health and mountainous debt for far too long. I'm starting to feel like it's an unwinnable battle. Of course, capitalists, bankers and the rentier class don't want you to be able to escape your economic fate - they want you to be insecure, so that you'll accept a minimum wage zero-hours contract McJob and kindly donate 100% of your income in the form of rent, bills and interest on loans, to those who really don't need the money.

This week has gone really slowly.

This year has gone really slowly.

As it stands, there's a plan in place which will dig me out of the hole I've been stuck in for far too many years. It's heavily reliant on better luck than previous years. I really don't need anybody throwing a spanner in the works. I really don't need to find myself unexpectedly looking for work again, as has happened far too often in the past.

If it seems like I'm unaware of my good fortune - unable to get things in perspective - then it's due to the present discomforts. Of course, I may look back upon this time and be unable to understand what I was complaining about so much. Unpleasant memories always fade faster than pleasant ones. I'm sure I'll look back with some regret, that I didn't enjoy myself more along the way; take more pleasure in the journey.

It's hard for those who've gotten used to having money to relate to those who've gotten used to living in fear of the letters hitting the doormat, the phone ringing and the doorbell. It's hard for those who've gotten used to regular income, to relate to those whose unreliable health has meant that financial planning is hard, and regular mortgage payments have become a tyranny; fear of getting into rent arrears and facing eviction being a constant nightmare. It's hard for those who don't have mountainous debts to relate to those who know that their entire lives could be destroyed in the blink of an eye; how quickly a small debt can become a ridiculously huge sum of money once legal fees, court fees and recovery costs have been added on. Money - or lack thereof - can destroy a person like nothing else.

Yes I could have saved myself some money here and there, but the thing that's going to save me from my dire situation is not economising and budgeting... it's oodles of cold hard cash. The thing I need is for the coming months to go as planned, so I can keep working and keep earning money. You can economise and budget as much as you want, but 100% of nothing is still nothing. If you earn nothing, it doesn't matter how great you are at financial planning, you're in deep trouble.

One big variable is my health. My health could scupper my plans to work hard. Hence the holiday. Hence the rest.

It might seem wasteful to have spent 5 out of 7 days in bed, but I needed to recharge the batteries.

It might seem wasteful to have spent so much of the last year miserable, but I needed to pay off my mountainous debts.

If I could go to sleep and wake up next March, with no recollection of the intervening months, then I'd absolutely love to do that. I'd gladly give up all those many months of my life, to be able to press the fast-forward button and skip the anxiety-inducing and super-stressful, boring, monotonous and unrewarding bullshit in-between then and now.

Yes, I'm wishing my life away.

 

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Alone With My Thoughts

6 min read

This is a story about bad memories...

Hotel bed

I drew back the curtains this morning and I was almost relieved to see that it was cloudy. One of the theme park rides was on fire also. I did not need much of an excuse to go back to bed.

I'm not actually sleeping that much.

It's nice to be in the position where I have quite strong cash reserves, I'm on holiday, and I have a job and a place to live when I return home. Rarely do I have all those puzzle pieces at the same time.

When things are broken and stressful in my life - beyond my ability to control things and influence the outcome - then I don't cry; I park my emotions and move myself into a neutral gear. I'm a leaf tossed through the air by hurricane-strength winds. There's no sense in thrashing around and wasting any energy.

Now is the worst time.

The time before an anticipated milestone.

I got very worked-up about my million-word milestone, and very paranoid that something was going to trip me up. My work-rate increased as I neared the finishing line, as I desperately wanted to reach the end when it was in sight.

Now, there are some major financial milestones on the horizon. In a couple of weeks I can clear half my important debts, with a whopping great big 5-figure lump sum. In a couple of months, I hope to clear the balance of what I feel I have a moral obligation to repay, because it was borrowed from a friend, not borrowed out of thin air, like it would be with a faceless corporate bank. By the end of March, I should be completely debt-free.

My mind is working overtime, thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

It seems likely that I'll get to the end of the month OK, but beyond that, recents years have shown that this is a very difficult period for me. I can't help comparing my behaviour with previous experiences, and worrying that I'm becoming too much of a loudmouth. I'm acutely aware that any bumps in the road could be disastrously psychologically damaging - it's very hard to pick myself back up after major setbacks, because the path to victorious recovery is quite plainly laid out in front of me and to snatch it away is cruel. There is absolutely nothing that I haven't seen and dealt with before - my recovery is a paint-by-numbers exercise.

I'm not sure if it's the job that's killing me... I think it's the debt. Every day when I wake up I'm still deep in debt, and I'm more in debt than when I went to sleep, because the interest on my loans accrues while I sleep, but I'm not working and earning any money. Debt hangs around like a bad smell; all-pervasive.

When alone with my thoughts, I re-analyse my actions. I wonder if I have been entirely fair in my assessment of events. I re-imagine things, admitting more fault and being more charitable towards those who deserve to receive the benefit of the doubt.

I try to make sense of everything.

Most people are too busy and they're too embroiled in everyday life to stop and think about how they arrived where they are. Most people are too swept up in the minutiae of childrearing and bickering with their other half, to particularly give much thought to anything. Most people's lives plod along, not veering too far from the top of the bell curve; safely within the boundaries of accepted norms.

My mind scans all the years of my life, but is mostly fixated upon the period filled with the most traumatic events, which covers roughly the last 6 years. Of course, I wonder why bad things have happened, and there are clear memories from earlier times in my life, which provide pretty compelling evidence of why I'd be predisposed to the vulnerabilities which have led me down a certain path. It's not a blame game; it's simple cold, hard, rational analysis of the facts at hand.

I'm bombarded with intrusive thoughts. I can see why I'd want to blot out most of my mind's activity with alcohol and tranquillisers, when I have a period like this, where I'm alone with my thoughts. The traumatic memories come at me thick and fast. It's ludicrous, when I think about the number of traumatic events I've lived through and have harrowing memories of. I haven't received any counselling or therapy to help me with any of the stuff I've been through.

My mind has constructed a kind of "map of the madness" which allows me to understand how I arrived where I am today. Without the ability to see the bigger picture, I'm sure I'd be irretrievably lost in the mists of insanity. I constantly consult my 'map' to see if I'm repeating mistakes I've made in the past. I use my 'map' frequently to ensure I'm doing all the things which have proven successful in the past, and avoiding the things which have turned out to be pitfalls.

For 5 out of 7 days of this holiday, I'll have been confined to my bed. For most of that time, I was probably suffering insomnia or otherwise alone with my thoughts.

It's been hell, but it's probably been useful.

My mind isn't "pleasantly unclouded" now that I'm off all the sleeping pills and tranquillisers. In fact, I'm a nervous wreck. My brain torments me with various day-dreams about ways in which I could be killed, maimed or suffer catastrophic economic disaster, such as being evicted, being made jobless and otherwise tormented by a society which is keen to disown and marginalise me.

Annoyingly, my thoughts can't be easily dismissed as irrational nonsense. At the root of every worry is a seed which is perfectly valid. In fact, far too often my worries have proven to be well-founded. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

In fact, I'm more comfortable when things are going wrong than I am when there are positive milestones within sight. It's agonising, not knowing what new unexpected horror is going to come and destroy the pleasant future which I'm owed.

I'm so ridiculously alone, as I don't speak to any family, friends or partner on a regular basis. My life isn't really shared with anybody, even though I publish my innermost thoughts and feelings quite publicly online. I have great friends who I chat to regularly online, but when I'm in a foreign country in the dark, alone with my thoughts, it isn't possible to get much more alone than that. I guess I could pick up my phone or open my laptop, and I've got a whole internet full of people to chat to, but it's not quite the same as having a face-to-face conversation with somebody and maybe even getting a hug.

This week has been shockingly unexceptional, because I've gotten so used to being alone.

 

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I refuse to go to the gym

8 min read

This is a story about body-beautiful and get-fit...

Ripped shorts

I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the lenses of the guy operating the theme park attraction, where I spent the day. I'm very pale and badly out of shape. There were other guys around with beer guts and less-than-perfect bodies, making me feel a little less self-conscious, but I was the whitest person I've seen all day.

I was the first person to arrive at the Float Rider attraction today, having meticulously planned how to get there and beat the crowds. I was a man on a mission: to surf the wave machine. The machine is more commonly known by the registered trademark: FlowRider. A stationary wave is created by pumping water 'uphill' which can be 'surfed' with a boogie board, short-fin, or finless surfboard.

I knew that every person who rides the FlowRider asks the staff if they can skip straight to the board riding part, but I thought I'd make my intentions known. "I want to ride on a board" I said. "I can surf" I said.

Yeah, yeah, buddy. You and every other person who wants to ride the FlowRider. Back of the queue.

It didn't help that I'm old and in bad physical shape, in terms of being judged capable and competent enough to skip the demeaning preparatory step of riding on my tummy. I thought I'd uncomplainingly go along with things, in the hope that my commitment would soon become apparent and enable me to be allowed to ride a board.

Two other men my age - also equally out of shape - soon joined me, and we were all put through our paces, skimming over the surface of the wave on our tummies. I decided to up the ante in the hope of impressing upon the operator that I was capable and competent. I jumped up onto my knees and rode the boogie board in a kneeling position.

I thought that would be enough.

No.

"Practice your balance" I was told.

Fine.

I thought I'll bide my time and not harass the poor guy whose job it is to supervise an endless procession of people who are quite happy to spend 30 minutes riding on their tummy before they get bored and wander off. I thought to myself: "I'll continue to patiently demonstrate my keen intent to progress to the board-riding stage".

I'd been doing this for a couple of hours. I was very bored. I applied some gentle pressure. No luck.

In all, I spent nearly 3 hours patiently riding around on my goddam knees. I don't know why I didn't just wander off and return later; save some energy. I presumed that my continuous presence would eventually wear down the attraction operator, and he would relent and let me ride a goddam board.

The attraction was very quiet. Sometimes I was the only person on the FlowRider. I presumed that my dedication and commitment were noticed. I presumed that the guy would give in eventually.

Then, the operator went for lunch.

A little bit of background about him.

"Do what you love" we're told. "Follow your dreams" we're told. What if you love surfing? What then?

I love surfing -> surfing is not a job -> there aren't many surfing instructor jobs -> become a theme park ride operator.

This guy must have a tough holiday season. His job is basically a kind of lifeguard. His time seemed to be mostly spent policing spoiled rich children, intent on queue-jumping. Surf protocol is very clear about the line-up and whose turn it is to catch the next wave. Surfers get pretty mad about anybody dropping in on a wave that isn't 'theirs'. Also, surfing is pretty hard, given the combination of skills required to paddle out to the breaking waves, spot a good wave to catch, paddle to catch it, pop into standing position and then ride the wave. In a busy line-up, you're not going to catch many waves in a day. As an out-of-shape 39-year-old guy who hasn't seen sunshine for a couple of years, I'm the last person you'd expect to be able to ride a board.

Before lunch, I pressured the would-be surf instructor guy for a go riding the board when he returned for the afternoon session. He agreed.

When I returned, the FlowRider was the busiest I'd seen it. In fact, it was so busy that people were riding the wave on their tummies in pairs.

I worked my way slowly towards the front of the queue.

Then, at last, my chance to ride a goddam board arrived.

It's a lot easier than surfing.

The wave is perfect.

The takeoff is easy.

Perhaps it was sweeter, that there had been a lengthy buildup to that moment, but it was awesome that I was standing on a little foam surfboard, carving fairly effortlessly back and forth on the standing wave. In a lot of ways I was right - I didn't need to spend those demeaning hours on my bloody knees - but it was fine, because at least I was getting to ride right then and it didn't matter at all that my morning had been somewhat a waste of time and energy.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon riding the a board - catching endless perfect waves.

I very much enjoyed my status as "king of the kooks" - being allowed to ride the board and being cheered on by onlookers; getting big thumbs up from people; many wanting to ask me how long it took to learn to ride the board and make it look easy.

Embarrassingly, I've got more years of experience riding boards than I care to admit.

I suppose it must have been an odd sight - the old out-of-shape palest guy in the whole goddam theme park, riding the board like a pro. The photographs of a surfer riding a wave, plastered around the attraction, portrey the thing that everybody wants to be able to do right away.

The FlowRider probably gets busier in the afternoons, but pleasingly the demographic changed from little kids who wanted to ride for a short while before quickly getting bored, to a bunch of thrill-seekers who, like me, didn't seem to have any children and were in the theme park to have some unadulterated (sic.) immature fun.

For six and a half hours, I rode that wave over and over again. For six and a half hours, I exercised.

It was only light exercise. Real surfing would have quickly exhausted me.

However, it was the most exercise I've done in years.

But it didn't feel like I was doing exercise.

If I could carry on riding the FlowRider for the next 364 days, I'm sure I'd get remarkably fit & healthy again, and look like far more of an authentic surfer than the old out-of-shape old pale guy, surprising people by being able to ride quite competently and confidently.

I'm covered in bruises from various wipeouts and my shorts got ripped, but I feel really good from the exercise. My skin got a little sun, so it's not as white as it was.

I'd like to get fit & healthy again, but I'll be damned if I'm going to have to go to a goddam gym to do it. Today I did 6.5 hours of exercise by accident, which was a whole lot more fun than the mind-numbingly boring pursuit of a better body in a gym.

Pleasingly, I had the core strength and stamina to spend a whole day riding a wave. I'm pleasantly physically fatigued. The few bits of me that ache or are bruised are hurting in a way that's kinda nice. I didn't aggressively try to get a quick tan, but my face feels a bit sun-kissed, which is a great feeling - brings back so many nice memories of fun times on the water.

I just need to figure out some kind of fun physical thing to do regularly, which doesn't feel like exercise.

I know I'll sleep better and feel happier about my appearance if I can get fit again. I know that it's good to stay in shape. It's nice to feel healthy & attractive.

I'll be damned if I'll go to a goddam gym though.

 

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Phone in the Throne Room

5 min read

This is a story about being in the lap of luxury...

Loo telephone

As I write this now, there are no fewer than 8 buttons which control the lights in this hotel room packed with tech. There's a PlayStation 4, projector and screen which drops from the ceiling at the push of a button. There are many, many little things which surprise and delight me, but perhaps none more so than the telephone in the toilet.

The hotel phoned my room, concerned for my wellfare because the "do not disturb" button had been depressed for 3 consecutive days. They were worried, was I OK?

When the phone rang, there was also a ringing from somewhere else. I thought it was the room next door. I presumed it was some sort of technical malfunction, like when the power went off, causing the lights and air conditioning to be turned on in the middle of the night, throughout the whole hotel. In fact, it was the telephone in the bathroom ringing.

This afternoon I forced myself out of bed, put on some shorts and a T-shirt and drew the curtains for the first time in recent days, and saw that the skies were a little overcast. I expect that if I was out all day under those overcast skies I would still get a little bit of a tan, but I needed little excuse to draw the curtains again and retire to bed.

I'm starting to worry that I'm going to go back to work every bit as pale and pasty as when I departed under the UK's gloomy skies.

The small number of things which I need to do to prepare for a day at the beach or in the theme park, comprise having a shower, getting dressed, putting my money, laptop and other valuables in the safe, and packing a bag with a towel, sunglasses, sun screen and stuffing a fistful of Turkish Lira into my pocket. However, these minute tasks, along with the ever-present worry that it's a bit weird that a 39-year-old single man is hanging around a family resort, have conspired to keep me locked up indoors.

I spend a lot of my time tormented by the sensation that I have unfinished business at home. I've made a decent dent in my debts, but debt still looms large in my life. It doesn't feel like I can relax and enjoy myself, when I'm still so deep in negative territory. My lucrative contract leads me back to wealth and prosperity, theoretically, but losing the contract would leave me high and dry, as has happened so often before.

As you would expect at the end of the holiday season, during school termtime, midweek this resort is quite quiet. Mercifully, I've identified some other guests who are waving their phones around with gawping mouths, appearing to be other man-children who've decided to embark upon a ridiculous holiday unbecoming of our advanced years.

I'm starting to feel quite a bit of pressure to give my skin some colour in the few remaining days. I did need the sleep though; to spend some time liberated from the tyranny of daily working life demands.

I spend the night cursing myself for having used sleeping pills again - causing rebound insomnia - and the day cursing myself for not being able to overcome my depression, exhaustion and anxieties, such that I'm able to get out of this hotel room and enjoy my holiday.

I'm glad I went away on holiday, even if I'm crippled by insecurities about how people are judging me. I'm glad I'm away on holiday, even though the prospect of doing simple things - like ordering food or walking to the beach - is overwhelmingly daunting. I'm glad I'm away on holiday, despite being quite unwell, which is never great when in a foreign country.

At home, I stay in the same hotel and eat in the same gastropub every night. At home, I maintain the same identical routine each week, wearing the same pre-planned outfits at work and in the evenings. At home, I have controlled the variables, to give myself as little stress as possible, and the greatest chance of success in my battle to dig myself out of debt.

At home, the tiniest inconveniences can be harbingers of doom. I'm highly attuned to any hint that my controlled environment - my well-laid plans - are about to be bulldozered.

This resort is perfect in every way. There are no beggars or homeless. There are no shopkeepers trying to hawk their wares. There are no less-salubrious areas. There's nothing that would give rise to an unexpectedly negative or traumatic experience. Not a single thing is out of place, except me perhaps.

I'm crushed by imposter syndrome, both at home and abroad. I live with the daily threat of being asked to leave hanging over me, which would destroy any prospect of me being able to escape from under the dark storm-cloud of debt. I fully expect to be told: "you don't belong here" and to be cast back onto the streets.

I don't belong. That's the truth.

 

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In a Darkened Room

7 min read

This is a story about invisible sickness...

Psych ward

I'm not throwing up. I haven't got diarrhoea. I don't have a fever, sweats or chills. I don't ache or have physical pain. I haven't got a rash. My skin isn't discoloured. I can pass urine. I'm lucid; conscious.

Symptomatically, I'm not sick. I'm perfectly fine and healthy.

A few years ago - back in 2015 - I got so exhausted and stressed at work and I felt so unable to say "no" and ask for some time off, that the only legitimate way I could lift the pressure upon me was to be hospitalised. Being in hospital somehow legitimised the 'sickness' I was feeling, due to invisible illness. I felt protected from the relentless pressure which was being applied to me constantly, in the workplace and with mountainous debts. I felt safe in hospital.

I slept.

I slept so much.

I slept for 12 to 14 hours a day at least, for a whole week.

I was voluntarily admitted to the psych ward - I could leave whenever I wanted - but I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay safely protected within the walls of the hospital. I wanted to stay safely protected from the world of work, the world of debt, and the world of intolerable and unreasonable expectations; insufferable pressure which was killing me.

Unless my sickness is externally validated, by a doctor, I don't feel like I've got a legitimate reason to not work as hard as I can, and bash my head against a brick wall in a futile attempt to deal with an unreasonably huge burden of responsibility placed upon me. Unless somebody tells me it's OK to not be OK dealing with the mountainous tasks placed in my path, then I work until I reach breaking point.

Breaking point in 2015 meant getting myself admitted to a psych ward. Breaking point in 2017 meant killing myself.

I've been at breaking point for most of this year.

Today, I've spent a second day in my hotel room with the curtains drawn. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Today I'm just plain exhausted. I'm a little sad and regretful that I've wasted another day of my holiday, but I really think I needed the rest. I was at breaking point.

You'd think I'd get bored or hungry, just lying in bed. You'd think that the prospect of a dip in the sea and the sensation of warm sand in-between my toes would tempt me to get out of bed. You'd think that the rollercoasters and water slides, which I haven't yet ridden, would tempt me out of bed. You'd think that the excitement of having a whole week with nothing to do but enjoy myself would give me an energy and mood boost.

I have a very busy mind. I'm constantly bombarded with thoughts. I don't need TV, films, books and other distractions to keep myself entertained. My brain will constantly bombard me with invasive memories and other groan-worthy things, as well as a steady stream of things to worry about. I don't get bored, even when I spend 2 whole days in a dark room with the curtains drawn.

I probably work too hard. Fundamentally, I'm a bit of a workaholic. The root of many of my problems is working too many hours at high intensity. I never switch off. I never relax. I never plod along at a steady pace - I always tear through things as fast as I can.

The mountainous debts have only amplified my tendency to work too hard, for too long, without taking enough breaks. I cannot take my foot off the gas pedal for a single second, because I'll easily be swallowed whole and disappear into a debt black hole; go bankrupt.

Debt is with you 24 hours a day, just as mental illness is. There isn't an on/off switch which can control depression, and similarly there's no off switch on the anxiety and pressure of mountainous and unmanageable debts.

Working an 8 hour day and having weekends off provides some relief from the pressures of the workplace. Although I spend most of my leisure time anxiously dreading having to go back to work, there are moments when I relax and enjoy the fact I'm not at the office.

There's never a moment's relief from debt.

Debt just has to be paid.

If you don't pay your debt off quickly enough, it'll never be repaid. If you don't earn enough money, you'll never repay your debts. Interest accrues on your debts, even when you're sleeping.

My situation got so bad that I cannot take an average salary job. I cannot take a break. I cannot relax.

Things were headed in the wrong direction in 2015. My mental health was causing problems in the workplace - being too outspoken due to hypomania - and I was living on borrowed time. I'd recently rented an apartment, which was going to cost me an arm and a leg, heaping a load more pressure onto me when I was already struggling to cope.

Things are headed in the right direction at the moment. My important debts could be cleared by the end of the year. I could be completely debt-free by March next year.

I worry that I'm screwing-up at work. I've been far too outspoken lately. I'm sure I'm pissing people off and making myself unpopular. I'm worried that my mental health problems are starting to adversely affect my behaviour in the office.

My coping strategies are unhealthy. I eat too much. I eat junk. I drink too much. I use sleeping pills and tranquillisers, when things get too unbearable.

As far as my colleagues are concerned, I've gone off on a holiday which was pre-approved and everybody's known about it for a while. As far as my colleagues are concerned, everything's ticking along just fine. As far as my colleagues are concerned, everything is pretty much normal.

This is good.

Back in 2015 I'd had several problems with my mental health, which had caused me to be absent from the office without any notice, or otherwise acting strangely. My colleagues were sympathetic, but they were well aware that something wasn't right with me. There were issues.

If things go to plan, I'll go back to work feeling refreshed and in a much better state of mental health. If things go to plan, the mania which was spilling over into my office behaviour, will be back in-check and I'll be able to resume my tight-lipped and poker-faced game of keeping quiet and fitting in as best I can; not being noticed. It's important to blend in and not be noticed, if you want to keep hold of your job when you've got a mental illness and mountainous debts.

If things go to plan, I'll go back to work and I'll finish October, work the whole of November and December, and then take another well-earned holiday for a couple of weeks, having cleared all my important debts. It seems feasible, doesn't it? Two and a half months of working my bollocks off, then I'll have dealt with the bulk of my woes - most of this crippling bloody debt.

If things go to plan, each of these holiday breaks arrive just in the nick of time, to save me from exploding in the office and losing my job. If things go to plan, each holiday allows me to recharge my batteries and carry on going.

Previously, I had been working until I reached breaking point, and becoming so unwell that I was unable to carry on working.

This year has been unsustainable and has ruined my health. This year has been horrible. However, the plan has been working and my debts are being rapidly repaid. I've been digging myself out of the hole.

Everything's taken its toll. I suppose I should not be surprised that this year has made me so sick that I've been in bed for two whole days, when I'm supposed to be on holiday enjoying myself.

I don't look sick.

It's a shame to waste a couple of holiday days, but so far this year I haven't been hospitalised and I'd like to keep it that way.

It's my holiday and I'll spend two days in bed if I want/need to.

 

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Addiction World Tour

5 min read

This is a story about drug smuggling...

Tablet

I never intended on becoming a narcotics trafficker. It happened by accident. To say that I'm a helpless puppet with my strings being pulled by the unseen hand of addiction, is not the whole truth. My executive brain functions and rational mind are still present, but there's quite a battle that rages within me. I'm mostly unaware of powerful subconscious thoughts which are often driving my behaviour, with my superego unable to perceive that I'm being steered towards addiction-sustaining acts, or indeed omissions.

Travelling from a rich country to a poorer one, customs might not expect illegal narcotics to flow in that direction, and as such might be caught off-guard by anything smuggled across the border by a wealthy Brit. My rational conscious brain says it's not worth taking the chance. Each country has their own drug laws and their own attitude towards those who flout them, with some countries being very punitive indeed, in an attempt to make an example of those who are part of the narcotics trade.

I've carried controlled substances across international borders a few times, quite by accident. Obviously I'm not talking about kilos of cocaine. I'm talking about the occasional tablet which escaped my notice when I was packing my bags.

I tried to buy some zopiclone - sleeping tablets - on the day I arrived here in Turkey. I hadn't planned to, but I saw a sign for a pharmacy and I thought I would enquire if it could be bought over the counter. It turns out you can't buy it without a prescription from a Turkish doctor.

Then, predictably, I had a sleepless night.

The last few weeks at work have been quite bearable, but perhaps only because I've been drinking heavily, taking sleeping tablets and also taking tranquillisers. I knew I was creating a problem for myself with the impending holiday, but I also needed to get through the seemingly unending and almost intolerable working weeks, without having a nervous breakdown.

After hardly sleeping all night, I then had very vivid nightmares. A lot of my nightmares revolved around drug addiction.

Feelings of overwhelming depression and anxiety have kept me in bed all day.

I expected this.

I'm paying the price for having made my working day more bearable using addictive sleeping pills and tranquillisers, because now I'm going cold turkey in Turkey. Lolz.

I knew this would happen. I was prepared to accept some panic attacks and sleepless nights; some horrible anxiety and gnawing dread; feeling like the world's about to end. This the deal with the devil that I struck: to be able to keep working my full-time job and able to cope, but to pay the price later.

I could have sworn I searched my bag thoroughly, to ensure I wasn't carrying anything through the airports that I shouldn't have been. In fact I did search my bag thoroughly, but my subconscious prompted me to be not quite thorough enough. I genuinely believed that I was travelling with not even a single solitary tablet to salve my anxiety and insomnia, my my subconscious was much more alert - as anxiety reached its peak, it told me to search more thoroughly and it knew I would find something. One lonely blue tablet, nestled in the stitching of the fabric, which could only be located with an obsessive search.

Of course, one blue tablet does not an addiction make.

Lots and lots of 'accidents' do however add up to an addiction.

It's unavoidable that I'm going to have to suffer some cold turkey withdrawal from sleeping pills and tranquillisers this week. It's unavoidable that I'll return to the UK far less addicted - dependent - on medications than when I left. That's one of the reasons why I chose to spend my holiday in a foreign country, where I'd be less likely to be tempted to fall back into old habits, although of course addictions follow you everywhere.

I would argue forcefully that the worst of my addiction is dealt with, and I'm using medications to help me keep working and earning money, in order to pay off mountainous crippling debts. I would argue that I'm using medications reasonably responsibly, and not in an abusive or recreational manner. I would argue that I'm hyper-aware of the risks of becoming physically dependent on benzodiazepines, and would not risk that happening again now I've managed to escape the clutches of that dreadful class of drugs.

It does however somewhat surprise me that I've managed to do it again - to smuggle drugs by accident - although mercifully this one tablet has therapeutic, not abusive potential. It's a bona fide medicine. It's not the dreaded slippery slope; the thin end of the wedge.

I need to be aware of the risk that I could back-slide gradually into an increasingly abusive and regular pattern of drug abuse. I need to be careful. I'm well aware that the worst of my addiction was prolonged for a very long time, because I thought I was able to get away with casual, occasional or so-called recreational use, which lulled me into a false sense of security; I was deluding myself.

Not the happiest story ever told, having spent the day in bed with the curtains drawn, but I often have days like this on holiday, where the accumulated stress and anxiety of the preceding months suddenly swamps me. I've hardly taken a day off sick, so it should be expected that I'd get sick as soon as I relaxed.

It'll soon be Monday morning, but at least I don't have to go to work this week.

 

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Kids With iPhones

5 min read

This is a story about a lack of imagination...

Mr Squiz

There's global moral panic - hysteria - that screen time is rotting our children's minds. There's a widely-held belief that our kids are not getting enough wholesome 'playing in the dirt' outdoors growing up time as we nostalgically remember getting in our own childhoods. "All this used to be fields" we say, even though we grew up on a housing estate in a dismal suburb, and watched lots of TV, with our parents worrying that 4 or maybe even 5 whole channels of colour audiovisual entertainment would warp our fragile young minds and leave us as dribbling morons.

I was dragged around museums, art galleries, stately homes, ancient ruins, churches, cathedrals, mosques, cobbled streets and other sites of historical and cultural interest, in the hope that some of those educational experiences would rub off on me and undo some of the dumb. Never was there an opportunity missed for extreme panic that I was enjoying my childhood too much, and I should be forced to endure some interminable excruciating lecture from an insufferable bore about their particular academic fetish.

I suppose it's a parenting strategy, to provide your children as a captive audience for people who're so lacking in charisma and life skills that they're unable to cope in the real world - roundly ignored by people their own age - while meanwhile the parents can get drunk, smoke and take drugs, and otherwise leave the bothersome business of raising offspring to a state or charity funded organisation masquerading as an educational establishment.

Why the obsession with constant education and cultural experiences anyway?

Oh, you're taking little Hugo to the museum are you? How wonderful of you. How original. Slow clap.

[I stole that line from a poster on the London Underground, mocking sharp-elbowed ambitious middle-class mothers, eager to cram their children's heads full of stuff that'll make 'em sound smart at a university interview, in the hope of barging to the front of the queue; getting a so-called head start in life]

You should read about Asian tiger parenting if you want to get a chilling glimpse into the kind of future we're headed into. Instead of worrying that iPhones and iPads are rotting your children's minds, you should be more concerned that exam result league tables, homework, extracurricular activities and the obsession with your children's academic achievements, is psychologically destroying your precious little darlings. The anxious, withdrawn, introverted adults who prefer to communicate almost exclusively via memes shared via the internet, aren't a product of the internet and modern technology, but actually the very predictable and unfortunate result of placing an excessively heavy burden of expectation on little kids.

"They'll thank me for it later in life" /  "If I don't give them a head start in life they'll end up working in McDonalds"

Wrong.

I do empathise with the fears of parents, of course, but I must point out the consequences of the collective insanity of believing your precious little darling is special and different, and they need to be pushed to the limit during every waking hour in order to realise their full potential.

Both childhood and parenthood look to me - as an outside observer - like an unpleasant pressure cooker for all involved, producing a plethora of psychiatric problems. There's an obsession over school catchment areas, 11-plus examinations, grammar schools and a set of metrics, which measure children's academic abilities at an ever-earlier age.

Children are somewhat cursed with filial obedience - they naturally want to please their parents. What's a kid got to these days to get their parents off their back. Seemingly, they need to completely eschew iPhones, iPads, video game consoles, television, and bury their heads in scrolls of parchment (novels would rot their fragile brains, of course).

Culturally, we seem to celebrate abstinence at the moment. We loudly boast about how little sugar we're eating. Every month seems to have a catchy name - like Stoptober - related to giving something up like alcohol or tobacco. Low-fat, low-carb, low-fun, low-stimulation, low-enjoyment seems to be the name of the game. It's as if we're seeing the rebirth of the puritans. Should we all thrash ourselves with nettles too?

I feel guilty for spending a week at a Disney-esque resort, with rollercoaster rides, water slides and other low-brow entertainment, with no historical or cultural authenticity at all - everything's brand new and made of modern materials. I feel guilty for enjoying things which were created to entertain, not to educate. I feel guilty for having a good time instead of expanding my mind. That guilt has its origins in upbringing; in a childhood dominated by my parents' panic about my mind melting and me forgetting everything I'd learned, if I stopped being educated for a single second and just got to sit and watch cartoons with my bad influence friends.

I see no evidence that technology, entertainment, games and screen-time in general, is creating a generation who are less imaginative, less creative, less academically gifted, less talented, less well-informed and less knowledgeable. If anything, the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Give a child access to YouTube and Wikipedia and they will willingly and eagerly embark upon a self-directed learning journey, which will deliver far more valuable facts for your precious darling to regurgitate, into their brainbox, than an unlimited amount of nagging, arguments, tears, tantrums, private tutors, private schools and trips to sites of historical and cultural significance.

What do I know though? I'm an idiot who likes mindless entertainment.

 

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Midnight

3 min read

This is a story about turning into a pumpkin...

Carvings

I wasn't going to write tonight. I'm lying on the couch of my very good friend and fellow co-founder of what was once a promising profitable startup. We drank wine, drank beer and ate curry. We discussed every topic under the sun, from relationships, children, getting rich, becoming poor, going mad, and the absurdity of existence. Then, it was time to go to bed because we have to be up early in the morning: him because he has 3 young children, and me because I'm a jet-set playboy who's off to the airport to catch an early flight.

Ironically, my friend has given me a book to read while on holiday, about the importance of getting good sleep.

I know how important sleep is.

My flight starts boarding in 8 hours, but I still need to drive to the airport, check-in, clear security and get to the gate. It shouldn't be too bad, but I haven't packed my bag yet. I imagine that I'll be frantically decanting clothes from one massive suitcase - into which I threw every bit of clean clothing I own - into a more reasonably sized piece of luggage. It seems ludicrous to travel across the globe with my entire wardrobe, but carting everything I own around with me from place to place, is how I lived when I was homeless in London.

The concepts of home and away-from-home are unfamiliar to me. Wherever I happen to be sleeping on any particular night is 'home'. If there's somewhere comfortable to lie down and I've got my stuff with me, then I can make myself at home anywhere.

I wasn't going to write, because it's been a long week and it's been a long year. It's taken a lot of hard work, suffering and time to get to the point where I'm able to go away on holiday, and not worry about having a place to live and a job when I come back. The future's uncertain, but there's a good chance that I'll be able to recharge my batteries and continue to earn money, paying off my monstrously crippling debts and re-filling the war chest.

I wasn't going to write because I'm tired and a little drunk, but screw it.

I wasn't going to write because it's past midnight.

I like to write every day.

Technically, it's tomorrow already.

According to my clock, it's almost 1am

I didn't turn into a pumpkin.

The next time I write to you, perhaps I will be officially on holiday, for a whole entire week.

Wish me bon voyage.

 

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The Supercrack Diet - Part Two

8 min read

This is a story about body dysmorphia...

Christmas photo

It's strange to look at a photo of myself with an old friend from not-too-many-Christmasses ago - at least according to my faulty memory - and not really recognise the face looking back at me as my own. It's not that I'm younger. It's that I can clearly see in many features of my face that I'd failed to escape from an abusive relationship and an acrimonious divorce unscathed. My life reboot had been sabotaged and it seems as plain as day to me that I was very sick.

My eyes appear at first glance to be bright and alert, but in a stimulant-induced way, so I wear a glassy stare into the distance, not looking at anything in particular. On closer examination, there are tell-tale signs around my eyes that I've been sleeping both too much and too little.

It surprises me how easily I can see from my face that I have hardly any body fat. In 2013 I had my body fat very precisely measured at circa 2%.

The body I'm in today feels very alien to me.

But the face in the picture above is also a different person, I feel.

Every couple of weeks I start skipping breakfast, having light lunches and smaller, healthier evening meals. Every couple of weeks I take a break from drinking alcohol. It doesn't make any difference.

For more years than I care to remember, I've woken up and I've dreaded going to work, and I've felt oppressively burdened by debt. My life is very simple, and in many ways very enviable, but it's also thoroughly awful. Theoretically the awfulness is only a temporary situation, but somehow it's turned out to be a nonstop nightmare lasting half a fucking decade.

The nightmare could be lazily attributed to drug addiction, but you might be surprised to learn that the truth is far less conveniently simple.

Having spent more than two decades trapped in the rat race, being a very stoic, quiet, boring, obedient and subservient tiny cog in a massive machine, and suffering the incredible boredom of going to bland beige offices, attending endless interminable meetings about nothing, shuffling paper around a desk and pretending to look busy, it was fucking exciting to go insane and embark upon a drug-fuelled rampage.

You might think that police, paddy wagons, Accident & Emergency, high-dependency wards, psychiatric hospitals, police cells, intensive care, sleeping rough and hostel dorms would be the worst thing imaginable - and those things probably were terrible at the time - but you need to understand the psychology of a person who wants to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and plummet towards the ground at terminal velocity. If you think that only stupid people get addicted to drugs, it's you who is stupid, because you haven't appreciated the value in calculated risks.

I would thoroughly advise every person on the planet to avoid supercrack like the plague, but it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge some attributes of my experiences of the last 5 years, which might be considered surprisingly beneficial.

Weight. Loss.

We'd all like to be a bit skinnier, wouldn't we? We'd all like to lose a bit of that hard-to-shift belly-fat.

I look in the mirror at the slight gut which has appeared in the ten months which I've been working, without the interruption of a drug-fuelled rampage, and I think "where the fuck did that gut come from?"

It depresses me that I've put on weight.

It depresses me that my appearance has changed.

I'm not fat. I'm not overweight. I'm just kinda 'normal' for a 39-year-old bloke, but that fucking sucks, because I took for granted the fact that I was as skinny as a racing snake on a diet. There's something attractive about an 'athletic' body, and that's not the body I have anymore... or rather, that's not the body I have at the moment.

One of the reasons I kept ending up in hospital, is because my body ran out of fat to break down to keep itself alive, so it started breaking down my muscle. When my muscle was broken down to provide energy to keep my cells fuelled and save my life, there were a lot of toxins released too, which totally fucked my kidneys. Basically, I was starving to death but dying of kidney failure faster than I was dying from lack of glucose, because I was so unnaturally lacking in body fat. My body made a very tough decision at a certain do-or-die moment, to destroy muscle allowing my heart to keep pumping for a little while longer, at the expense of my kidneys.

I eat.

I eat a lot.

I drink.

I drink a lot.

I eat and drink whatever the fuck I want and however much I want. I have juicy fatty steaks with butter sauce, washed down with lashings of red wine, every single night of the week.

I'm a disgusting old man.

I've been so depressed and oppressed by my awful circumstances, that I've barely been outside all summer. My skin is pale. One of my arms is covered with ribbons of self-harm and suicide attempt scars. One of my wrists has a big lump where a bone was broken by police who were kindly assisting me in getting to hospital. I've got this gut. This fucking gut. Where the fuck did it come from?

Have you heard of DNP?

It's a fat burner.

I'm highly tempted to take a week or two off work and just burn off the fat using this drug which increases your metabolic rate. Of course, a side-effect is malignant hyperthermia, but that's nothing I haven't already experienced a great deal of, as a supercrack addict. Also, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, tachycardia, organ damage and death... all risks I'm prepared to accept in order to be skinny and gorgeous again.

Although I'm crippled by mountainous debts, I drive a wreck of a car which is worth less than my phone, I live in rented accommodation and my body is covered with scars from drug-fuelled insanity, self-harm and suicide attempts, the most damaging thing to my self-esteem is what I've done to myself during this period of so-called health and wealth. While I've been earning megabucks for massive organisations and being mostly abstinent from supercrack, my life has materially improved massively - I've earned an absolute fortune - but psychologically it's been awful, and my body has suffered far more than even the very worst days of my supercrack addiction insanity.

I don't think supercrack is a solution, although the weight-loss is arguably a very desirable side-effect, in much the same way as a bout of explosive diarrhoea or a tapeworm infestation might be. Unfortunately, society worships the skinny, just as much as it worships the bipolar, even though those people might not be very healthy people at all.

As a single man - and rapidly approaching 40 years old - of course I want to feel sexually attractive. While girlfriends have always said "I like a bit of meat on your bones" fnarr fnarr, they have had a vested interest in my health and robustness as opposed to my raw attractiveness, in terms of a skinny athletic body.

The temptation to restore my athletic figure with a week or two of unpleasant suffering, taking a fat-burning drug and feeling like shit, seems like a small price to pay for the prize of being more sexually attractive. With the insecurity of feeling like I'm a washed-up has-been loser, dirty old man filthy pervert, useless debt-riddled, asset-less waste-of-space, with nothing to offer womankind, it's sorely tempting to take some short cuts. What happened to my house, sports-car, yacht, speedboat, cash pile and other desirable material things, which would be highly coveted? What value is there in a 39-year-old who's pale and average build? I'm ten a penny.

This is the calculated gamble. Presently, my gamble is to get rich quick, or more precisely, to pay off my debts incredibly quickly at the expense of my health, social life and mental wellbeing. The price I pay is my appearance: I eat and drink too much; don't exercise.

Of course, I have no plans to resume my supercrack-fuelled insanity, but to not acknowledge the rewards and unexpectedly positive benefits of better living through chemistry would be disingenuous.

 

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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics on #WorldMentalHealthDay

7 min read

This is a story about data science...

Non bank threats

What the hell is big data anyway? Well, some companies - particularly well-known dot coms - have amassed huge data sets capturing the online behaviour of their millions of users: particularly the journeys those users took to discover products, discover and view media - and to see advertising of course - before eventually making purchases. If you like that, you'll love this.

Did you ever think that Google is kinda clairvoyant in being able to predict the question you're asking it before you even finished typing it - its suggested searches are almost always on the money. That's because Google has such a ridiculously huge dataset, while the range of dumb questions asked by idiots is quite narrow, such that Google 'knows' what you're asking it before you even finished typing "where do babie...?". Yes. So many other people asked that very same question before you.

With big datasets, there comes the temptation to believe that we can predict a person's future. If we see a high degree of correlation between rates of absenteeism at school and exam grades in our data, it might be tempting to assume that high absentee rates are a good predictor of poor exam grades. However, correlation is not causation, and it's entering dangerous territory to attempt to predit future outcomes, just because there are statistically significant findings in our historical data.

The financial services industry is particularly interested in your past behaviour as a debtor, as a predictor of your future likelihood of reliably making your loan repayments. Your credit score is - in essence - a number which tells loan sharks how much of a compliant and obedient slave you are.

You will spend the most healthy, energetic and productive years of your life, making student loan repayments, mortgage payments, car loan repayments, overdraft payments, credit card payments, store card payments, loan payments and other regular instalments, payable in return for the privilege of being alive. Try living your life without a mobile phone and some sort of internet connection for a few months, and you'll soon see that there's a high price to be paid for the oxygen you breathe.

The burden of debt is not trivial.

Debt is natural to us, whereas altruism is not. Every act of apparent altruism can be unmasked as a selfish act, when analysed using statistical methods across large datasets. Unfortunately, your momma's so-called unconditional love for children and your daddy's obsession with sex, are two sides of the same coin. Your poppa wanted to shoot his love snot and your dear mother wanted to receive it, with the genes of both individuals aiming for a pregnancy - neither asexual partner can claim that they were intent on giving the so-called "gift" of life. Your parents were simply obeying the will of their genes, in much the same way that any mould, slime, bacteria, worms, fleas etc. will multiply with impunity, given favourable environmental conditions. Sex is sold, not given freely.

We often think life conforms to some kind of natural order and mistakenly hold the belief that there is stability and equilibrium in the world, when in fact the very polar opposite is true: the world is an erratic and unpredictable place, with evidence of continuous events considered cataclysmically catastrophic for whole species, with or without human intervention. We are prone to succumb to the gullible belief in the divine right of kings, and law & order, such that the majority of us meekly comply with the oppression of the many by the few and our general exploitation. There is nothing natural at all about a handful of individuals tyrannising and enslaving so many.

The so-called miracle of the information age - often called the fourth industrial revolution - can perhaps be unmasked as nothing more than a fancy way to tell you what other products you might like to buy after making a purchase. It's unquestionably true that Amazon will make a very accurate prediction of something else you'd like to squander your dollars on, but to suggest that this advances the human condition in a positive direction is demonstrably ridiculous and downright wrong.

I can't really imagine a worse time to be alive.

While the threat of death from diahorrea or a bacterial infection - arising from the tiniest of skin punctures - has receded dramatically, we must be mindful that the single biggest cause of death amongst people like myself, is not road traffic accidents, drug overdoses, cancer, or any disease. Suicide. Suicide is the biggest killer of men like me. Suicide is preventable. What kind of advanced society are we living with, when the thing which kills most of its biggest economic contributors, is 100% preventable? Does that sound like an advanced society to you; a paradise?

Fundamentally, you've been reduced to a handful of numbers from the very moment you were ejected from your mother's womb, and your destiny was foretold.

Birth weight is the number one best predictor of your life outcome. Hands down. No argument.

Second, household income.

Right there, before you even got to suck on your mother's titty, are two things which have absolutely nothing to do with you or your life choices, or even your unique DNA. You could have the greatest genes given to a baby in the history of humanity, but because you were underweight and born into a poor family, you're destined to be used, abused, forgotten and discarded, as a minimum-wage McJob worker who can barely make your rent payments.

Statistically, we can predict whether you're going to get those all-important "A" grades, graduate university and enter a highly paid profession. Statistically, we can predict whether you're going to reliably repay a big mortgage, and hence be able to buy a big house to fill full of genetic clones of yourself. Before you've even sat down to take a single exam, big data has predicted that you're going to be a no-good washed-up good-for-nothing piece of worthless human trash.

Surely there's been a mistake.

Is it right that 98% of humanity will wake up each morning with a heavy heart, knowing that they are heavily in debt and they have been economically enslaved? Even those who did not directly incur the debt - by knowingly and willingly signing contracts - have incurred massive amounts of financial burden, because their governments borrowed against their predicted economic potential. We are sold into slavery before we're even born, because of our anticipated life-preservation instincts.

Economics, statistics and data science are indeed dismal sciences, which are corrupted by financial incentives to tease out the most efficient ways of exploiting humanity. We are ill-equipped to deal with the vast investment in the academic pursuit of knowledge, which equips the wealthiest elites with a suite of tools to push our buttons and make us dance to the beat of their drum.

If we are looking for a single cause of the epidemic of mental health problems which sweeps the globe, we should look no further than the vast quantities of data which have been gathered on us, and the treasure trove of insights which can be exploited by those who are so lacking in ethical contraint, that they're prepared to consign the majority of us to a living hell, in pursuit of material gain.

Yes, it's quite possible to use every bit of data available to predict the life outcome of an innocent child - a blank canvas - before they start school, and to consign them to the reject bin... but should we even look at that dangerous data? I say that the temptation to believe that we hold good predictors is too great, leading us to playing god, ruining countless lives.

Past performance is not a guide to the future.

 

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