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The world's longest suicide note.

Writer. Published author. Collector of clinical labels: bipolar, BPD, adjustment disorder, depression. Confounding prejudices and psychiatry.

All opinions are my own.

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Help the Homeless

4 min read

This is a story about unintended consequences...

Trash strewn in the street

The UK's notorious tabloid rag, The Sun interviewed a grieving father & husband and quoted him as saying "I should never have let the bastard near my family" with reference to a homeless man who had been taken in by his wife. The British press variously reported that the woman - later murdered by the homeless man she'd tried to help - had given "her husband's dinner" to her killer, who also killed her son and badly injured her husband.

Quite unbeknownst to me, this news story had received widespread coverage at exactly the same time as I was taken in by a Good Samaritan - what risk, one wonders, to her children & husband if this is any kind of precedent?

Scanning the column inches for similarities between myself and the perpetrator of the double murder, the newspapers reported mental illness and drug abuse. My Good Samaritan collected me from a secure psychiatric institution on the day when the crescendo of media coverage reached its peak. During the car ride I explained that I had seen illegal drugs used by my parents on a daily basis, and we agreed that to do that in front of children is not normal, right or proper.

Perhaps my gracious hosts have been hoodwinked. Perhaps I have fabricated a story about my sweet innocence and a set of unfortunate circumstances that have come about due to no fault of my own. Given the extraordinary amount that I have written, it seems like a rather elaborate ruse, to write extensively about my chequered past, even when it has clearly caused me more harm than good. Is it not true that I've left my readers in no uncertain doubt about my every misdemeanour?

Further digging through the archives of the internet, I found a newspaper which reported that the aforementioned homeless murderer had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD was casually tossed into the mix by one psychiatrist that I met, as a possible additional diagnosis for my own mental health problems. The only official diagnoses I've received are clinical depression and bipolar disorder, but adjustment disorder also featured in some of my recent paperwork, although this did not appear on my hospital discharge summary.

I'm mindful that further comparison is not at all useful, and I find myself to be extremely stressed about what the kind family who has taken me in, might think about the fact that this matter has been on my mind. When I read the grieving husband's words "I wish my wife had never set eyes on him" I do worry that I never asked my own Good Samaritan "what does your husband think?" but then wouldn't the atmosphere now be a little strange if the reply had come "he's got some reservations"?

I would say that I have never quite searched my soul for any kind of malice, as extensively as I have done knowing that I would be residing under the same roof as a happy family with several kids. If I had the slightest suspicion that my behaviour could be erratic, then I would not find it conscionable to expose a family to any danger that I might pose.

That said, I'm aware that bonding is taking place and I'm still deeply troubled by almost unbearable anxiety and suicidal thoughts whenever I consider what the future holds. I'm hopeful that my state of mind will improve when my medication changes are done. I am however mindful that in the worst-case scenario, I do pose a risk to my own life, and although I would put some time & distance between myself and the family, it would be incorrect to say that it would have no effect if I were to end my life prematurely.

The question of whether to accept help is as difficult as that of whether to offer assistance to those who are in need. I'm incredibly lucky to not only receive help, but also to be able to openly discuss the obstacles and difficulties involved.

You may be surprised to learn that these 700 or so words are some of the most carefully chosen I have written, out of 700,000+. I have been shown a great deal of love, care, respect and trust, and this is why the anger, bitterness, rejection and hurt of the past, that usually flows out from me onto these pages, has been replaced with a daunting sense of responsibility towards those who I am now close with.

I'm going to publish now, because it's agonisingly difficult to write this.

 

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Habit Forming

3 min read

This is a story about breaking the cycle...

Handful of capsules

Two of these medications are addictive. Half of these tablets are dietary supplements that can be bought from a health food store. As I stop taking the three prescribed medications, withdrawal side effects that I'm suffering from include: insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks. Why stop?

If you're doing something that seemingly provides no benefit to your life, but is hard to stop, then why are you doing it?

The list of things that I could be said to have enjoyed habitually has grown to an extensive list that includes sex, spending money, alcohol, stimulant drugs, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, painkillers, pornography, computer games, reading, arguing with people, work, masturbation, driving fast, junk food, music and just about anything else that makes life liveable. Strangely, my current day-to-day life includes almost none of these things.

Given my natural tendency to binge on anything I enjoy, perhaps it is abstinence that I am now taking perverse pleasure in the over-indulgence of. I barely have the words to describe how truly dreadful it is to be withdrawing from the most addictive chemicals on the planet - abstaining from alcohol & benzodiazepines can be so hard on your body and mind, that you will die from seizures. Why on earth would I choose to go without the things that would salve the aching that my body has for anxiety & stress alleviating substances?

It was suggested to me that my choice to go without all the things that would help me feel better, is akin to a kind of self-harm. Writing this now, I'm inclined to agree. All the stress and anxiety that I have avoided for years is all hitting me like a sledgehammer. Everything I've ever enjoyed and seen as a reason for living, is barred from me for reasons of self-denial.

Perhaps this is a kind of meditation. Like a monk who takes a vow of celibacy, through this difficult period maybe I will learn something that I would not be able to whilst indulging in the terrestrial temptations.

There is a deliberate alteration of my behaviour, of course. I have decided to deny myself alcohol and my prescribed medications (yes, this is in agreement with my doctor, yawn). I could very easily continue to drink alcohol and take pregabalin, not to mention illegal narcotics and prescription drugs which I could obtain through the black market, but I choose not to. I do not stop because I have an incentive to do so; I stop because it is hard and it is interesting - I'd gotten a little bored of my wanton excesses.

I could write and write and write - perhaps the armchair psychologists amongst you will speculate that I have simply transferred all of my multiple addictions into an addiction to writing.

 

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Shepherd's Delight

3 min read

This is a story about free will...

Red sky at night

Having spent the best part of a month in hospital, I am now convalescing in the Welsh countryside. It's remote, rural, peaceful and therapeutic, which is exactly what I need. Why on earth wouldn't I stay here, when this is the very best place I could be for my health and wellbeing?

If you believe in free will, then I'm afraid you're quite deluded. Every decision we make is heavily biased by circumstantial factors.

Having experienced the stress of moving to new places, getting jobs, making friends and otherwise climbing the greasy pole, I've got nothing to prove - I know exactly what to do and exactly what to expect. I have very little motivation to repeat the same well-worn moves that I learned a long time ago - I'm sick of playing the same old game. Rebuilding my life holds no surprises; only stress and misery.

Thus, I arrived at the decision to die, some time ago.

When you've decided to die, there isn't any fear of failure, shame, embarrassment or any of the other things which would usually predispose your behaviour towards more risk-averse choices.

If you look at my life choices through the prism of depression and defeatism - I have no desire to play by fucked up rules - things make a lot more sense than any stupid over-simplifications. Perhaps you think I'm infantile, immature and irresponsible? In actual fact, I'm not inflicting this shit on children who didn't ask to be born. I'm terminating the cycle of pain: somebody's gotta stand up to the relay-race of human misery, where fathers fuck up their sons.

I'm not critical of parenthood per se, but it would be irresponsible of me to spawn offspring of my own when my kid(s) might ask me one day "if you had a miserable life, then why did you bring me into the world?". Given that my children might ask about my own unhappy childhood, it seems unconscionable to take the chance that I could perpetuate that misery.

In a world of war, famine, climate change and spiralling problems, we are clearly on collision course with disaster. I don't want to add to the world's woes. To be yet another sharp-elbowed parent, concerned with the propagation of my genes at the expense of everything else, does not seem like a good idea when there's another option: to not do that.

I can end the male lineage and bury the surname "Grant" which I inherited from a heroin addict. I can do my bit and act in accordance with a conscience that encompasses more than my animal instinct to rut like a beast and impregnate willy-nilly.

Fucked up ungrateful entitled rich spoiled know-it-all brat says my shattered brain. I think about the people who've tried to help me; who care about me. I feel guilty that I feel so bad; still feel suicidal. Countless opportunities seem to be open to me - am I rejecting them? Am I throwing the 'gifts' that I have received back in the faces of the bearers? If I am ungrateful, so what?

My charmed existence has led me to a situation that's quite wonderful, but also exquisitely painful because of it - this isn't real life I think to myself. I can't stay here. The need to earn money to pay for debt and taxes will force me back onto the treadmill. The misery of the rat race is inescapable, except through suicide.

 

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Did You See Me? (DYSM)

6 min read

This is a story about being caught on camera...

TV interview

There was a time before digital cameras and Facebook when it was thrilling to see photographs of yourself that other people had taken: this was the pre-selfie age. There was a time when creating a digital identity was hard - social media wasn't dominated by the big players, and maintaining a homebrew website required expert technical skills and a significant investment of time & effort.

Some enterprising tech boffins created free software that allowed bulletin boards to be created by relative novices - these were forums where internet users could discuss topics, under the banner of a certain hobby or interest. Originally, bulletin boards were telephone numbers you could dial up from your computer, to do the kinds of things we do on the internet today, except that these bulletin boards were isolated communities.

Facebook and Twitter have taken the bulletin board - where we build a community around a common interest - and allowed us to build a community around our personal identity, with the bait of seeing ourselves tagged in photos or mentioned in tweets. On forums, there was a thrill in seeing a thread of discussion getting many views and replies - to be the original author of a popular thread was something to take pride in. We covet 'likes' of our updated profile photographs and our pouting selfies, as we preen our digital identity.

With the ubiquity of smartphones that are capable of capturing and uploading photos and videos, making them instantly available on social media, we are amassing a huge library of images of ourselves, as well as projecting an identity that goes well beyond the people we see on a daily basis, face-to-face.

Our skill in presenting ourselves as we want to be seen - Facebragging - is something that we have had to recently learn, especially as we increasingly mix work colleagues with our close friends, online. Our digital identities can overspill unless we are careful to manage the audience with whom we share things.

A sinister and creepy cyberstalker made a horrifying boast to me:

"I know"

I'm sorry, what? What do you know?

"I've read your blog. I know"

What? What do you know? Have you really read my blog? There's the best part of three-quarters of a million words here - I seriously doubt you've read much, and I seriously doubt you know much.

Those words - "I know" - were said to me by somebody who was making a very important decision. Because of the sheer volume of noise on social media, I'm relatively hard to find. Thanks to my concerted efforts over a number of years I can laugh at anybody's attempt to "know" me - stalkers only scratch the surface. Yes, I am applauding myself for writing so much that even the most determined cyberstalker would be exhausted.

I live in fear of cyberstalking.

Don't we all live in fear of cyberstalking a little bit? There's probably a sex video of you and somebody else that's hidden somewhere on your computer or smartphone. What about all those sexts that you sent between you and your sweetheart? What about all those paedophiles who want to molest your children? What about all those rapists who are following your every move on social media? The world is out to get you.

My fear of cyberstalking is a little different.

I'm now convinced that almost everybody is far too wrapped up in their own self-centred little world, to give two fucks about much of what anybody else is doing. The cyberstalker who said "I know" in a very sinister and horrible way, was intent on harming me just as much as you'd expect of any stalker - zero fucks were given about my health and wellbeing, and a very great deal of harm was rendered to me.

Perhaps I should set my privacy settings to the maximum and erase everything that's personal and accessible to malicious attackers?

To protect myself from a determined cyberstalker would be nearly impossible. Our lives are lived online nowadays - to reject social media and not cultivate a digital identity, will leave me isolated and without access to online communities. To have to always consider how anything I share could be used against me is exhausting, and how am I supposed to ask for help or otherwise indicate to my friends that I'm in trouble? Pretending that my life is awesome and I'm totally OK is ridiculous, if I'm doing it just in case a cyberstalker goes digging.

I'm not suggesting we all post our mother's maiden name, social security number, credit card details and other data that would lay ourselves open to fraud... or maybe I am. In an open and trusting culture, the bad apples are easier to spot - nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

The fact that I've suffered significant financial loss due to a cyberstalker is akin to a kind of fraud that has been perpetrated against me. I'm no fraudster: who I am is plain for all to see. That somebody would steal my data and use it against me is criminal. Why should I be persecuted and discriminated against, because of what dirt you think you've dug on me? It's like a kind of blackmail to use my digital identity against me.

I wonder what kind of person would think that whatever I choose to write on my blog is more important than the facts, which have included things such as being in intensive care in hospital with a 50/50 chance of living or dying. Wouldn't you care about the person - i.e. me - and not about the digital identity? "Are you feeling OK because I was really worried you were going to die?" would seem like the more appropriate human response, rather than the extremely creepy and sinister "I know". I mean, what the actual fuck?

So, I've been cyberstalked, and the stalkers have caused significant harm to me. Just hearing "I know" from somebody who seems to be a respectable member of society, does show that there are some downright evil fuckers out there. However, I stand my decision to be brave and publicise who I am and what makes me tick.

In my experience, it's better to be brave and bold, even if it feels scary and nasty people try to fuck you up.

 

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Periodic Paranoia

6 min read

This is a story about justification...

Bathroom blockade

What do you suppose this stack of laundry baskets and boxes full of clothes is? Perhaps this is a new modern art installation at the Saachi Gallery?

200 days ago - April Fools' Day - I was so paranoid that I believed that somebody was going to break into my ensuite bathroom on the 4th floor, and invade my bedroom. I was also so unwell that I believed I could secure my bedroom by tying my dirty laundry baskets to the door handle.

Paranoia does not generally trouble me during my day-to-day life: nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

I'm about to make a factual declaration that might shock and disgust you.

Men's libido will drive them to relieve themselves - through sex or masturbation - on a relatively frequent basis, depending on each individual. You might consider a man who masturbates every day to be a twisted pervert. You might consider a monk who has taken a vow of celibacy having undesired nocturnal emissions - he ejaculates in his sleep - to be the finest example of a man that is biologically possible, without castration.

Let's just re-iterate this for emphasis: biologically, the human race has evolved a reproductive imperative that is as strong as breathing, sleeping, shitting, pissing, drinking and eating. If you can stop doing all of the latter for a few years, then you're welcome to then argue the point with me.

If you consider the unpleasant combination of being so horny that you need to masturbate, with the belief that you're being watched at all times, then you might understand that it's an impossible situation, assuming that you value your dignity and your privacy. At present there are at least 3 webcams watching me and 2 microphones listening to me. Of course, I presume that no ransomware is recording me without my permission, but such software exists in the wild. How much do you trust the manufacturer of your phone and your laptop, to not co-operate with your government, giving them the ability to spy on you?

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

I'm guessing that you wouldn't want your family, friends and work colleagues, or even complete strangers, to see you tugging your todger; yanking your chain; bashing your bishop, or whatever your preferred euphemism is for masturbating to orgasm. I'm guessing that you'd find such voyeurism to be unacceptably compromising and distressing enough to destroy your mental wellbeing.

Do you note that I'm leaving aside any discussion of anything 'kinky' or not otherwise in accordance with plain vanilla biological imperatives?

Of course, we could all just have sex, and then we've got a partner in crime - we have safety in numbers; at least there's somebody else who's looking ridiculous with us, as we make the beast with two backs. However, this is not always practicable. Natural urges do not always align with the competing demands of the world around us. Sometimes, we are horny and single.

If you're thinking "eeeewww" or otherwise troubled by an undesirable mental image, you understand perfectly that the vast majority of us wish to maintain some privacy around this particular activity. I cannot relate to men who take a thrill from masturbating at somebody, flashing their genitals or sending unsolicited dick pics. I am not writing about the exceptional cases, where men act in an antisocial or illegal way - these matters are excluded from the discussion, because they are unusual and those men do not think and behave like I do.

In short, the only way that my behaviour seems at all unusual, is the exceptional lengths that I will occasionally go to in order to not be spied upon while masturbating. If we consider our desire for privacy, it doesn't seem odd. If we think about the fear of the indignity and shame of having explicit images and videos of us masturbating, shown to other people, that fear is not irrational - it would be extremely distressing, for almost everybody.

Just over 6 months ago my mind was shattered. Today I'm barely troubled by paranoia.

My paranoia doesn't come from nowhere - of course it needs a seed. The internal source of my paranoia is sleep deprivation, hunger, thirst and mind-altering substances: I have a choice over whether I disturb my mind with these things or not. The external source of my paranoia could be explained simply in this way: do you imagine that men in psychiatric hospitals no longer need to masturbate?

Ask yourself where it would be appropriate to masturbate, when you're being checked on regularly by nurses and support workers. Ask yourself whether you think you could quietly do the deed in a dormitory with other men. Presumably, you'd go to the toilet or the shower, wouldn't you? If you're masturbating in an institutional environment, with the noise of staff and patients all around you, does that make you a twisted pervert?

This topic is the most sensitive that I could write about. Nothing could shame me more than you knowing these deeply troubling things, which is why I write about them - I'm grasping the nettle.

If you care to read back through what I've written, you'll see that I stop short of painting an explicit picture - the images in your head are entirely from your own imagination. I'm not attempting to upset anybody, nor am I discussing matters that have no place outside of a basic human biology lesson.

I believe that honesty is the best policy, and I'm taking that to its extreme conclusion, despite the detrimental effect it seems to be having on me and my life. I started the questionable experiment, to publish my inner monologue, and I'm compelled to continue, even though it causes me a great deal of anxiety.

Why do I need to live in fear of people learning who I am and how I feel? Why would I need to wear a mask? Why do I need privacy, when so many are determined to sneak a peek behind the curtain anyway?

What happens when a person lays themselves bare, instead of letting paranoia destroy them?

 

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Bloodbath

5 min read

This is a story about picking on an easy target...

Pink sink

Has anybody ever died of shame and embarrassment? I feel horribly exposed all of a sudden, having published my entire psyche into the public domain - all the inner-workings of my mind; every dark secret is out on display.

I'm acutely aware that I've kept writing and publishing throughout periods where I was incredibly unwell. I'm acutely aware that I've published unedited things, despite being exhausted, stressed and unable to make a sound and rational judgement call on whether or not to publicise private matters.

It's quite apparent that my rather strange and questionable mission - to submit my private journal to public scrutiny - has been incredibly costly.

Have I made a mistake?

Clearly, I've made a whole string of mistakes. Every day, I think about millions of mistakes I've made that I could write about. Even the process of exploring all my feelings and admitting my fault, is somewhat of a mistake.

Racked with self-doubt and feeling a mounting sense of vulnerability, I've thought about back-pedalling - haven't I made myself look like a buffoon in front of enough friends, family and strangers? Shouldn't I now clam up with shame and regret that I ever opened my mouth? Shouldn't I bury this blog and hope that nobody ever brings up the matters I've made public?

It would be so easy to press the "delete" button and destroy the digital identity which I've created. It would be so easy to deny all knowledge of ever sharing extremely personal matters. Don't believe everything you read online.

If I loaded a gun with bullets and handed it to you, I turned around and you shot me in the back, would you feel victorious?

I don't understand why anybody would take the ammunition which I give them and use it against me. I don't understand why anybody would take the opportunity to sucker-punch me, when I'm making myself so vulnerable; such an easy target. Is there really any pleasure in picking on somebody who's laid wide open to attack? Where's the sport?

I've started to wonder what happens to the people who pick my pocket, blame things on me or thump me in the face, knowing that I won't defend myself or retaliate. Do they feel pleased with themselves? Do they feel happy and are they able to sleep soundly at night?

If I'm starting to sound like I think of myself as sweet and innocent and free from all sin, that's not the case. There's more than enough admission of wrongdoing on these pages, if you want to go digging. I'm not some butter-wouldn't-melt, holier-than-thou, whiter-than-white person who claims to never have said boo to a goose. I admit that I'm a deeply flawed individual.

I'm struggling with a cloudy brain. I feel like my wits are dulled and my thoughts swim through treacle. I feel run-down; unwell. I feel like I'm not well enough to be writing. I regret things I wrote when I was sick, in the past.

As the truest version of myself - free from drink and drugs - emerges from under a dark storm-cloud, I struggle to reconcile the way I feel now with how I felt when I had the protective armour of intoxication. I'm full of stress, nervous tension and anxiety, while my brain is raw and damaged from abuse - I'll recover, but it's taking time.

I'm defensive, because I can't afford to lose any more opportunities. I can't afford to have my reputation tarnished anymore, even if it appears to be me who's doing the tarnishing. I can't afford to have influential people leaping to the wrong conclusions. Why continue to write so honestly? Why take the risk? Why not shut down this crazy experiment?

The fact you're reading this means that you're either going to use it against me - shooting me in the back with the weapon I handed to you - or you'll dig a little deeper; try a little harder. It's all too tempting to kick a man when he's down though, isn't it?

It's too obvious and easy to shut down; shut up. I've come this far, so why shouldn't I keep writing? What does it matter if I make myself unemployable? What does it matter if I can never return to the part of society that routinely lies and wears a mask of insincerity? Why the fuck do I want to live in a world full of absolute arseholes, who stab each other in the back?

Come; come and beat up on me; come and put the boot in; come and strike me with sticks and stones and whatever weapon you can grab, while I lay battered and bruised, unarmed on the floor, naked, afraid, defenceless, outnumbered and in pain.

I invite you to martyr me.

 

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Don't Scare the Horses

6 min read

This is a story about comfort...

New Forest Ponies

Halley's Comet will next be visible in our skies on the 28th of July 2061. If I live that long, I'll be 82 years old, which is not inconceivable given that the current life expectancy of a man in the United Kingdom is 81.6 years old. As a lifelong non-smoker, I've also enjoyed a highly nutritious diet and not done a lot of manual labour or worked with particularly toxic chemicals - in theory, I can reasonably expect to live longer than the current national average, which increases quite steadily. In fact, on average, most men my age can expect to live into their 90s.

Edmund Halley was able to calculate how regularly the comet that now bears his name, would be visible in our skies, in 1705 - just 18 years after Isaac Newton published Principia Mathematica which famously contained the inverse-square law of gravity.

Today, we are lucky enough to have telescopes capable of tracking celestial objects with incredible accuracy. We are also blessed with Albert Einstein's General Relativity which allows us to calculate the movement of the heavenly bodies, in agreement with our observations. Before Einstein's GR superseded Newton's law, the orbit of Mercury had not matched up with the predictions of the prevailing theory.

The question that we are left with is this: were the scientific community to discover a huge space rock hurtling towards Earth on collision course, would it be ethical for them to tell the general public?

I'll rephrase and repeat that question again for emphasis: if it were to be discovered that we're all going to die when a massive asteroid smashes into the planet at 38,000 miles per hour, then should we know about it?

Ignorance is bliss.

There will be a certain proportion of society - those who believe all the plants, animals and the Earth were created by a sky monster in just 6 days - who would be resistant to anything that challenges their dogma, no matter how incontrovertible the evidence. There are people who are ridiculously wilfully ignorant, despite the facts, scientific consensus and oversimplifications that spell things out in words of four letters or fewer, complete with cartoon picture-books.

However, one would have to assume that a large proportion of society would accept that they're going to die in an incinerating fireball, earthquake, tsunami, shockwave or some other catastrophic consequence of a huge rock vaporising at millions of degrees, as it collides with the globe.

We could know the specific day that almost everybody is going to be wiped out. Any survivors are likely to die soon after the asteroid impact, due to a cloud of dust and ash that will block out all the heat from the sun. If we were to burn all the coal, oil, gas, trees and use every other energy reserve we have on the planet, we'd only be able to keep ourselves alive for a matter of hours.

Leaving the planet to go and live on the Moon or Mars is a ridiculous idea - only a handful of people would be able to go, and they'd soon die without shuttles from Earth to restock them with everything that moons and planets lack to support life.

The choices are: stay and die, or leave and die.

Given that most of us are going to die in a horrible catastrophe here on Earth, do you think we're just going to sit back and calmly let the billionaires leave and watch our death from space, like some kind of firework show?

Knowing that we're going to die on or around a certain date, along with our family, friends and virtually everybody else on the planet, do you think we're going to act like normal until it happens?

Obviously, there would be anarchy, chaos, looting, barbarism.

If the general public were to learn of the impending doom, wouldn't they plunge civilisation into such chaos that any efforts to save the planet would be derailed - it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the scientists and engineers who might be able to save the entire Earth and its residents, would be ripped limb-from-limb by a crazed mob.

The public might not mean to shoot themselves in the foot, but they surely would. Some people who've seen too many Hollywood movies would endlessly insist that we fire off our entire nuclear arsenal to vaporise the asteroid in space, which would in fact cause masses of fragments of highly radioactive rock to be rained down on half the globe, in a far more destructive bombardment than anything we'd suffer in a single impact.

Deflecting an asteroid could never be done on its impact orbit - the object would be too heavy and travelling too fast - so we simply wouldn't have enough time once we'd discovered the huge rock on collision course to kill us all.

We would be rabidly demanding the impossible, or simply wanting to live a few hours, days or possibly months longer, at the expense of 7.6 billion other souls - diverting our precious resources into lifeboats that would carry us into the hostile vacuum of space: out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Those who grasped the hopelessness of the situation would resign themselves to their fate. Knowing that it would be unethical to bring children into a doomed world, would we kill ourselves, live with the melancholy or become hedonists in our remaining time on Earth? Why bother going to work? Why bother paying your rent or your mortgage or otherwise attempting to lead any kind of life like your ancestors, when an extinction event is inevitable?

If the general public learned of their imminent demise, the collapse of civilised society would be inevitable. So, is it ethical to tell people? In some ways, I'm glad that the world is full of climate change deniers and people who believe that the Earth is flat. It seems plausible that we may have already reached the point of no return, and there are individuals who know beyond all reasonable doubt that we're all going to die, but they are comforted to know that the general public are sufficiently stupid to not realise until mere moments before their death.

Don't scare the horses.

 

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Stroke

5 min read

This is a story about neurotoxicity...

Eye droop

What's happened to the left hand side of my face? My eyelid has drooped; my face is no longer symmetrical. Why do I have a facial tic? Why is my speech slow and slurred? Aren't these all symptoms of cognitive impairment; brain damage?

I decided to read back through some of my blog - I read from February through to June, when I was very unwell. I was surprised that a lot of it was gibberish - I thought that I had written with lucidity, but I had mis-remembered things.

As is so often the case with me, I dice with death and I dodge bullets. I'm still very sick, but I'm getting better. I'm going to make a full recovery. My speech is normal; my face doesn't tic and my eyelid no longer droops. The brain is a remarkable thing, but I do need to stop abusing my body.

A month ago I was livid; I was unbelievably angry. I was fighting for my income, my home and my liberty - I was fighting for my legal rights - and I was spitting venom; I was furious at being abused; mistreated; taken advantage of.

I re-read the lengthy blog post I wrote a month ago, which started OK, but then I got plunged into repetitive thoughts - you can tell that my brain was stuck on a loop and I repeated myself several times. It's surprising that I could express myself fairly well, given the circumstances. I imagine that it took me a long time to compose what I wrote, and I clearly struggled to remember what I'd written at the start, as I reached the end.

It's tempting to edit and airbrush history, but it's much more interesting to maintain a public record of exactly what I was thinking and feeling at a certain point in time. Inadvertently I also capture other details about my state of mind in the way in which I express myself.

I've now been writing for long enough to capture two periods of total abstinence from all mind-altering substances, including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. I'm a lifelong non-smoker. I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages in 2013. During this particular period of abstinence, I've not drunk any alcohol for 35 consecutive days.

What's the net result of all this?

Me as a kid

Nah, I'm only kidding... that was me when I was twenty years old. However, I'm sure there's been a marked improvement now that all the crap is out of my system.

A few friends spoke to me soon after I arrived on the psych ward. Although I sounded like my old self and I was in good spirits, my recovery was only just beginning - friends who see me and speak to me on a regular basis report that I'm much improved from how I was a month ago.

My hair, my skin, my nails, my teeth, my breath, my sweat and most importantly, my brain - all of these things are completely different, now that I'm not glugging gallons of booze and popping loads of pills.

I cringe with shame a little bit, to think that I made myself very exposed and vulnerable at a time when I was very unwell - the public got a little bit of a behind-the-scenes peek at me when I was extremely poorly. You can go digging in the archives, if it pleases you, or you can take my word for it: there's no surprises and there should be no pleasure in gawping at somebody when they're sick.

If we've not spoken for a while, I highly recommend that you get in contact and we actually speak on the phone - my email is nick@manicgrant.com. You might be very surprised to learn that your friend is in possession of most of his marbles, and not the raving lunatic that you might have guessed I would be, after such a traumatic couple of years.

Recovery selfie

Here's another one for the photo album, taken only seconds ago. My left eye is not yet 100% and I'm still suffering a lot of brain fog and other recovery-related problems - it'll be a month or two before I'm fighting fit. My face still tics when I'm stressed, but it's less pronounced.

I'm struggling with horrible anxiety, depression and confusion; memory problems. None of this is a surprise to me - it's to be expected, given what I've been through and I'm still going through.

I've got no idea what I'm really writing about, or what my purpose is now. Is this still the world's longest suicide note, or am I now campaigning to end the stigmatisation and discrimination that our less fortunate members of society must face: the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts and homeless people... the dregs that nobody wants to touch with a bargepole. I know that I want to be the voice of the voiceless, although I know how clichéd that sounds.

I'm swimming through a fog of confusion, but I know I'm slowly getting better.

 

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Regretting Suicide

7 min read

This is a story about last regrets...

Golden Gate Bridge

The first time I took an overdose it was half by accident. It was 2014 and I was living in Kentish Town, London, with 3 strangers in an apartment that I'd just moved into. One of my best friends revealed that he had been harbouring a bunch of stuff that he was really upset about, but he'd been keeping secret - he'd lied whenever I asked if everything was OK. He suddenly let rip as if he knew my whole story, when in fact he only had one side - from my dad. I'd never felt so alone in my whole life.

I didn't mean to take such a massive overdose. When I was in the process of committing my semi-accidental suicide, I realised I could either evacuate the poison from my body, or I could let it dissolve into my bloodstream and kill me. I remember taking the decision to relax and take no action. I remember deciding to die.

I took a piss and it was full of blood. My chest was 'wet' with fluid on my lungs; my breathing laboured. My sides and tummy hurt, where my kidneys and liver were badly damaged - I was suffering renal and hepatic injury: multiple organ failure.

I collapsed and I couldn't move. I thought "this is it - I'm going to die".

Then, I realised that my death might look accidental.

I was upset that somebody might think I died by accident. I was annoyed that a coroner might conclude that my death was "misadventure". It was frustrating to think that nobody would understand that I wanted to die.

I started to think "I need to leave a note".

When you're collapsed on the floor and you can't move, it's quite hard to leave a suicide note. I had collapsed onto a laptop power supply & cable that was really hot and burning my skin - it hurt a lot and I desperately wanted to move, but I couldn't. "Dammit this is frustrating" I thought.

As I became more convinced that I was going to die, I started to think about what I would tell somebody, if I could communicate a message from beyond the grave. I wanted my death to be useful to the advancement of human knowledge, as opposed to a senseless waste.

* * *

I went to my local doctor's surgery and told the receptionist that I wanted to kill myself. She made me an emergency appointment. I went back to my apartment, where I couldn't even talk to my sofa-surfer. I was going to talk to medical professionals, or I was going to kill myself: those were the choices.

The doctor wrote me a letter and I took it to the Royal London Hospital.

After 13 hours, I was admitted as an informal patient onto a psych ward at Mile End Hospital, London.

One week later, I suddenly decided to record a video called "Goodbye Cruel World" and flew to San Francisco.

Some people might think my behaviour is rash; impulsive. In fact, I had a whole trans-Atlantic flight, plus the flight from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast, to contemplate what I was going to do. I'd booked flights leaving myself barely enough time to get to the airport. 12 hours later I was stood on the Golden Gate Bridge, peering over the edge, having borrowed a bike from my friend and cycled there.

My amazing friends in the Bay Area were so great that I decided to get a semicolon tattoo to commemorate my trip instead of jumping off the bridge to my death.

* * *

I swallowed enough tramadol, codeine and dihydocodeine to kill me several times over. I had plenty of time to make myself vomit up the pills and phone the emergency services. Instead, I patiently waited to die. If I was going to feel any regrets, I would have felt them in the hour or two before help arrived. I had assumed that none of my Twitter followers knew where I lived, and I would not be found in time to save my life.

"What did you think would happen?" a doctor asked me. "I thought I'd fall unconscious, start having seizures and never wake up" I replied. "You're going to die slowly and painfully" I was told. "Oh well, at least I'm going to die" I thought to myself.

"No activated charcoal!" I yelled. "Don't pump my stomach!" I shouted. "Don't resuscitate me if my heart stops!" I demanded. "I don't want to be treated!" I commanded.

When I was off life support and no longer in a critical condition, I felt no regret. I still wanted to die. My intention had been to die. I didn't feel like there was some higher power looking out for me. I never thought for a moment that there was some plan or purpose to my existence on the planet.

* * *

The response to my fully premeditated suicide attempt, with a proper suicide note - the world's longest - has been incredible, and now I'm filled with a mixture of shame, embarrassment and a feeling that I owe friends and strangers a great deal of gratitude, for the love and care that I've received.

I find myself being looked after by an amazing family - who read my story and contacted me out of the blue - in beautiful Welsh countryside.

Friends who I haven't spoken to in years have gotten back in contact, and there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the future.

I wonder if people think of me as attention seeking. I wonder if people think that this was all a cry for help.

There's no doubt that when I swallowed those pills I wanted to die. I should have died - there was little chance of surviving; I had done the calculations; I had done the research.

I'm hoping that my mood will improve and circumstances will continue to be kind to me. I need work - a job; I need money. I can't stand still. To sit back and do nothing will only plunge me deeper into a destructively stressful world of pain, which will scupper any slim hope I have of rebuilding my life.

do regret the distress that I've caused to my sister, my friends and kind strangers who've followed my story. What now though? Do I attempt to go back to life as normal and pretend like nothing happened?

I've gone as far as it's possible to go to the edge of the abyss, without actually plunging to my death. I've learned everything there is to know about mental illness, hospitals, doctors, medications and psychiatry, without actually losing my mind and disappearing into an institution forever. I can tell you everything you never wanted to know about addiction and alcoholism. I can tell you about "hidden homeless" - hostels and sofa-surfing - as well as what it's like to lose everything and sleep on the streets. More importantly, I can tell you what it's like to fight back; to recover.

Fundamentally, this journey started when the odds seemed insurmountable.

The challenges ahead still look to be more than I can possibly tackle.

 

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If you're Happy and you Know it Shake your Meds

2 min read

This is a story about pill popping...

Chemist prescription

If you're unfortunate enough to find yourself on a psych ward, you might be surprised to discover that you don't have a choice about whether you take your medication or not - you can be treated against your will. That's worth repeating one last time: you can't refuse your treatment.

At the moment, I'm effectively unmedicated. I'm taking pregabalin for neuropathic pain, but I'm reducing my dose by 50mg every 4 days, so I will stop taking it altogether in just 12 days time. I'm taking zopiclone for insomnia, but I will halve the dose in 7 days time and stop taking it altogether in 21 days time. Meanwhile, I've been taking a tiny dose of lamotrogine - just 25mg - which is too little for it to have any effect.

But, presumably I was on some heavy medications while I was in hospital?

No. No I was not.

Since the 9th of September 2017, I've stopped drinking altogether - I'm teetotal - and I've stopped abusing benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium). I've also not taken anything other than pregabalin and zopiclone. It was less than 3 weeks ago that I started taking a tiny dose of lamotrogine, which is not capable of controlling any mood disorder that might be troubling me.

I must admit that I rather toyed with the poor psychiatrists who saw me. I casually dropped olanzapine and sodium valproate into conversation, and their faces lit up like a Christmas tree. My fellow patients were acutely unwell, and injections of Depakote - colloquially known as "depo" - were dished out to anybody who exhibited troublesome behaviour. It's a sad sight to see somebody who's just had their injection, shuffling along the corridor like a zombie.

Although strictly speaking this is not supposed to happen, I dictated the medication I wanted. My notes from my psychiatrist in London had not travelled up to the North of England with me, and my new doctor (General Pracititioner) knew nothing about me. The clinical team had to take my word as gospel.

I'm now wondering whether to be compliant with the medication that I decided I wanted, or not.

 

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