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Relativity

7 min read

This is a story about moral superiority...

Standard lengths

We are all well aware that there's no point comparing anything unless we are using the same unit of measurement. To say that my penis is 6 long is meaningless. If it's 6 centimetres then that's not very impressive. If it's 6 millimetres that's a downright micropenis. If it's 6 feet then that's just an impractical length - I'd have to coil it up or sling it over my shoulder. Clearly it's important to know what unit of measurement we're talking about.

Next comes the problem of standardisation. If you've ever bought cocaine then you'll know that your drug dealer's scales use a different set of weights and measures than those which would be officially approved. On a fully calibrated weighing scale, you may be disappointed to learn that you've been ripped off by at least 10%, not including whatever was added to bulk out the product when your precious powder was cut.

On the topic of comparing apples with apples, how should we compare 1g of cocaine cut with teething powder, with 1g of cocaine cut with powdered milk? Is it even meaningful to compare weight when we don't know the purity? You might not even be buying cocaine - there are many [cheaper] drugs that mimic its effects, and others that are added to give the classic numbness you feel when it's rubbed on your gums or snorted.

So, if we have measured length, weight and density (or purity) then what else is there that we could measure? Time. How do we measure time?

We had the movement of the sun, the flow of sand and water through primitive timing devices, and clockwork, but the devices are not very accurate. It wasn't until the miniaturisation of clockwork movements into pocket watches that we had a reliable device to keep time, but these are still quite inaccurate. It was discovered that quartz crystals had a mechanical resonance, and that an electronic device could 'count' the vibrations - 32,768 vibrations is 1 second. Temperature fluctuations will cause a quartz digital clock to gain or lose a second or two over the course of a year. It sounds accurate enough and for the purposes of this piece I won't delve any deeper into the strange workings of time.

Now, let's suppose you and I synchronise our watches and say to one another "let's meet back here at this time tomorrow" do you suppose we have both experienced exactly 24 hours, when we meet up again the following day? Do you suppose that each of our 24 hours passed at exactly the same rate?

I could explain some of the minutiae of special and general relativity, but I'm writing about the kind of relativity that we experience every day. Unless you're on a spaceship travelling at 97% of the speed of light, special relativity is not really going to apply in everyday life. Unless you're mucking about near a neutron star, general relativity is of no concern in this terrestrial tale.

So, you and your companion parted ways for 24 hours. So, when you compare your watches, they're still showing exactly the same time, right? But, did time flow at the same rate for both of you? Is it a useful comparison to say that both of you experienced the same 24 hours, as measured by your watches?

Let's imagine our two experimenters - call them Alice and Bob - went about their normal business. Alice is a scientist and she went back to her lab where she had some discussions with her colleagues about the fundamental nature of reality. Bob works in a pea factory, canning peas. Bob went back to the pea factory and did a 12-hour shift, pulling a lever that puts a pre-measured quantity of peas into a can. Alice isn't even sure how long she was at work, because she was so engrossed in her discussions with fascinating people. Bob knows exactly how long he was at work, because his whole time he was wishing the factory whistle would blow so he could go and punch his timecard. Was one hour of Alice's work the same as one hour of Bob's work?

Next, Alice and Bob go home. Alice has a husband she adores, 3 kids and a cat. She put the kids to bed and drank a glass of red wine with her husband, while updating him on the day's events. Bob lives on his own in a dismal flat. Bob sat drinking vodka because he hates his job, but he has to do another 12-hour shift tomorrow. Did Alice and Bob's evening pass at the same speed as each other's?

Alice slept for 7 hours before springing out of bed to get the kids up and prepare breakfast. She was buzzing with energy and full of enthusiasm about the day ahead. Bob slept for 12 hours and woke up with a sense of dread - he was disappointed that he hadn't died in his sleep. Clearly, there was a disparity in the amount of sleep each of them got, although their watches did not go to sleep. How can we compare two people's day, when we get different amounts of sleep?

We might agree that Alice and Bob's watches experienced the same 24 hours, insofar as can be measured using hours, minutes and seconds, but do you think that time passed at the same speed for them, in the way that they subjectively experienced it? Is time a meaningful unit at all, in this context?

Imagine if every hour we asked Alice and Bob to rate how fast the last hour had passed for them - either "quickly", "slowly" or "normal". We might see that Alice rates her hours as passing quickly, while Bob rates his hours as passing slowly. When we consider this, we see that their conscious hours are very different indeed, and the actual number of hours, minutes and seconds elapsed is not a very useful measure.

Thinking about this disparity in perceived hours, between different individuals in different jobs, it seems quite obvious that it's cruel and torturous to expect those who are suffering to tolerate the passage of time, when others find that their day flies by with ease.

What we see is that a number of people won't hold down a job, and will chop and change between different money-getting pursuits because they find most work to be unbearably shit. Some of us will find so little difference between one McJob and another, that we will be unable to work at all. Some of us know very clearly what kind of work we can't stand: working in offices and having to get up early in the morning, is very badly suited to a night-owl who has a brain and a personality, for example.

Relatively speaking, I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm extremely well remunerated and I pretty much do whatever I want - I'm not somebody you could ever 'manage' or boss around. If I don't feel like working, I don't go to work. If I want to quit, I can quit and find another job really easily. The problem with work is that it never pays enough for what's expected of you - the pay packet never fully compensates you for giving up your precious time, and the interminable tedium. Obviously, that's slightly insulting, considering I earn bucketloads, but I'll gladly switch with you and flip burgers for a while, because the monotony of my 20 year career is killing me.

The grass is greener etc. etc. Believe me I don't want to be mopping floors as my full-time occupation and getting paid minimum wage. However, it's completely bafflingly insane to be grateful for a job that's making you unwell and robbing you of your precious time. We only get one life so I don't understand why we spend so much of it bullying each other into working shitty jobs. I don't understand why those whose days are excruciatingly awful don't complain and demand a hundredfold pay increase. I don't understand why more people don't decide to go hungry and homeless, in the face of the oppressive tyranny of bullshit jobs.

Given the obvious health risks of being bored and stressed at work - as bad if not worse than smoking cigarettes - then I think we should be getting danger money. They're not paying us enough!

 

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What do Depressed People do All Day?

7 min read

This is a story about tiredness...

Corner blob

To the casual observer it might appear like I bunked off work today so I could write a blog post. In fact, writing takes up very little of my time now that I have developed the daily writing habit. I don't see writing as an alternative to work. I don't feel like writing takes any effort. I don't even care if nobody reads what I write, although obviously it helps me a lot to know that there are people who care about me.

It's remarkable how much I can sleep. I'm not at all short of sleep. I slept for 12 to 14 hours a day, at a minimum, throughout November. I slept for 8 hours a night through August, September, October and January. During the Christmas and New Year break, I slept for 14+ hours a night. Surely I can't be short of sleep.

Today, I dozed until nearly 3pm in the afternoon. My alarm was going off from 8am to 12:30pm, before I finally admitted defeat and decided that there was no way I was going to make it into the office today.

It's exhausting worrying about having to get up and go to work. It's exhausting worrying about the next time I'm going to have to pack my bags and travel across the country. It's exhausting being on a constant cycle of packing and unpacking, and washing and preparing everything for another week in yet another AirBnB that I've never visited before. It's exhausting preparing for yet another week in the same office, with no work colleagues to speak to or work to do - sitting there pretending to look busy so I can scrape together a bit of cash. It's exhausting that my needs are so out of alignment with the demands placed upon me. It's exhausting to be forced into a situation that's so toxic to my mental health and that destroys any sense of happiness and wellbeing.

I'm usually awake before my alarm. If I wake up early enough, I'll go to the toilet and try to get back to sleep, otherwise I'll lie there dreading the moment that my alarm will go off, which is always a lot sooner than I expect. Then, I try to rouse myself but I can't. Even though I would easily have sprung out of bed to use the toilet at 7am, I flatly refuse to get up at 8am. There seems something really wrong with getting up and then going back to bed, so I stay in bed, even if my bladder is really uncomfortably full.

After I pass the point where I would walk into the office ridiculously late, I then start to tell myself that I can walk in at lunchtime with a sandwich and sit down to eat my lunch at my desk as if I'd been there all day. This is my new strategy. It worked for 3 days, but today I couldn't even face half a day. As the clock ticked past 1pm, I realised that I would be late for lunch - by the time I sat down at my desk it would clearly no longer be lunchtime. I gave up on the idea of going into the office at all today.

What have I done all day? Surely I can't be asleep for 15 hours when I'm not tired. Well, there's a kind of emotional exhaustion that's created by this job where I've got nothing to do. I loathe going into the office and sitting all on my own with nobody to talk to. I hate it so much that I get tired just thinking about it. I'd rather lie in bed full of dread thinking about how awful things are, than be sat at my desk pretending to look busy. It's a sane response to an insane situation, to stay away from the source of such sheer misery.

You'd think I would be hungry, having skipped breakfast and lunch, but I'm not. You'd think I would be bored taking so much time off doing nothing at all, but I'm not. When the prospect of being in the office is so abominable to my mental health, I can easily lie in bed avoiding it.

"We'd all like to lie in bed doing nothing!" you might chide. Well, why don't you?

If you're thinking of all the ways that I could put my time to more productive use, then good for you, but I don't think like that. It's not like I'm visiting art galleries or going shopping when I'm bunking off work. It doesn't work like that. I can think of plenty of ways to fill my spare time, but this time is not spare, you see - this is time where I'm laid low; subdued by depression created by the intolerable conditions that I must endure.

"Why must you endure this?"

Well, it's still very lucrative to just work 2.5 out of 5 days a week. I'm still earning more money than I'd get as an artist or a poet. I'm still earning more money than I'd get volunteering to stroke puppy dogs at the local animal sanctuary. I'm clinging onto this job in the hope that my mood will lift and things will get easier, but even if things don't get any easier, I'm still managing to earn quite a lot of cash and inch my way closer to the end of the contract. No matter how unbearable it is, I don't want to give in. I want to push myself. I want to find out if I can push through this difficult period.

Sometimes I sit and I don't do anything at all. I don't read, listen to music or watch TV. I don't talk to anybody. I'm not really thinking. I'm not occupied by anything - I'm in a trancelike state, zoned out. I'm just sitting and waiting. I can wait. I'm really good at just patiently waiting. It's harder at work, because I get anxious that somebody's going to ask me what I've been doing with my time, and I can't really reply that I've just been sitting in a trance. I feel like I should be doing stuff, but there's nothing to do. The company are happy enough to pay me to keep a seat warm and do nothing, but it's pretty unbearable even if it's helping my bank balance a lot.

So, I guess I'm tired. I'm really irrationally, illogically, weirdly tired. I'm tired all the time, but I have no obvious reason to be tired. My job is not demanding in the conventional sense of the word. My life is not particularly physically demanding. I'm apparently not doing anything so I should have no reason to be tired, but I am tired. Sleeping is the main thing that I do. I live to sleep at the moment.

You'd think I'd get bored of sleeping and doing nothing, but I'd rather be sleeping and doing nothing at home, than doing nothing at my desk. It's a blessed relief to finally give myself permission to bunk off the whole day, even though I'm squandering the time in bed. It seems strange that I'm not doing anything with my time, when I'm complaining that I've got nothing to do at work, but that's the way it is - I feel shackled to my job, and it's emotionally draining, having nothing to do.

That's my life at the moment: Sleeping and dread.

 

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High Availability

6 min read

This is a story about keeping the lights on...

Bright city lights

There used to be a time, not so long ago, when banks were closed at weekends and on bank holidays, and the only way to do financial transactions was with cash, or otherwise with cheques that used to take 3 working days to clear and could 'bounce'. Today, we can do credit and debit card transactions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Today money flows across the globe in the blink of an eye - pay for some sunglasses in Singapore and your current account will be immediately debited back home here in the UK.

There used to be a time, not so long ago, when getting online meant phoning up another computer. We weren't online all the time - we'd connect once in a while to check our emails, but the rest of the time our telephone line had to be left free so that people could call us. Likewise, computers weren't always available to be connected to - the dial-up number might be engaged because somebody else was connected, or maybe the computer would be switched off or having maintenance done to it. Today, you can access websites 24 x 7 x 365 and you'll never see a message that says the service you're trying to access is offline because of maintenance or some kind of problem. That's what "high availability" means.

So, did we stop turning off the computers, or install some more phone lines or something? Did we get rid of the need to upgrade and do maintenance on the computers? Are the days of engineers having to take a service offline now gone? From a consumer's point of view, that's certainly the way it appears.

In a post 9/11 world, disaster recovery is seen as an essential requirement for business. A terrorist organisation could blow up the headquarters of your bank, but to you as the customer, the computer systems have been designed so that things should function just like normal - business as usual as far as you're concerned. Does that mean that computers are now bombproof? From a consumer's point of view, it certainly seems to be the case.

The reality is that behind the scenes there is a lot of redundancy and failover design so that if anything catastrophic happens, other parts of the system can take over from the parts that have failed. If a computer blows up, another one immediately takes over its work, seamlessly. If a hard disk fails, the data has been copied across a bunch of other ones so no information is ever lost. Software is designed so that it can be upgraded without the users even realising that it's happened - you get new features on the websites you use all the time, but you never notice any interruption in the service. That's high availability in action.

Behind the scenes, there's an army of developers, testers, devops, support analysts, network engineers, sysadmins, database administrators and other flavours of infrastructure engineers, who keep things running smoothly. To keep you plugged into the digital world 24 hours a day, allowing you to send and receive emails, text messages and naughty photos whenever you want, a huge stack of systems have been designed, built and maintained with the principle that they must be "always online". It's a bit like repairing a broken-down car while it's still driving down the road at 100mph.

The net result is that the main skill in IT is not creating the hardware and software anymore, but in keeping the lights on all the time - 100% uptime. Teams of people work in shifts around the clock just waiting for something to go wrong so that they can spring into action and fix it, even though faults are not fatal to the overall functioning of the system, and the users won't even notice that there's been a problem. Computers still fail and hardware still needs replacing. Things need upgrading; things need maintaining, but it all happens without anybody ever seeing a message that says "SERVICE NOT AVAILABLE".

Personally, I do not enjoy sitting waiting for something to go wrong. I'm currently working for a team whose role is to keep the lights on, and it got briefly exciting when the air conditioning failed and a whole datacentre shut itself down, but that was the briefest possible thrill. I'm like a firefighter in this modern world where modern fabrics, improved electrical safety and central heating systems mean that fire is an increasingly rare occurrence in the domestic home. I'm built to fight fires, but everything's built to be so resilient. There are no crises that demand heroics anymore.

I'm pretty much in the wrong job. I deal with machines all day long but I want to deal with people. I'm bored but banking is supposed to be boring - when it gets exciting it means stock market crashes and people not getting paid. I need variety but once you've grasped how to build a computer system, they're all the same - I've built everything from torpedo guidance on nuclear submarines, to bus ticket machines and iPhone apps, and it's all built exactly the same way. I am devastatingly depressed about my job. I think banking is 99% evil, with only 1% of it having anything to do with keeping people's wealth safe from robbers or facilitating transactions that are easier than barter. I need to be solving problems, but I've already solved the same ones a million times, and if I do a good job upfront then there aren't many to solve anyway. It's a dismal existence.

So, I sit at my desk and I get paid an obscene amount of money for doing nothing, just in case something goes wrong... which it very rarely does. I'm highly available, but like a disaster recovery site, hopefully I never have to spring into action, because things are really bad if I'm put to good use. It's really horrible, sitting and waiting for something terrible to happen, and really wanting a crisis to develop because I'm so bored and under-utilised.

I really need to find some kind of app which serves some kind of societal function, beyond stupid distractions from the point of living. Surely the point of living is to spend our brief time on this earth with our family and friends, eating, drinking and making merry, not chasing money and other made-up bullshit.

 

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Cry for Help

5 min read

This is a story about compassion fatigue...

Man on the edge

I imagine that the boy who cried wolf was probably telling the truth every time he raised the alarm, but the villagers just wanted him to shut up - they wanted him to quietly deal with the wolf on his own and to leave them alone. I mean, what kind of monsters would leave a little boy to protect sheep from wolves? The moral of the story is "don't complain" and "fuck off and die".

I'm sick and tired of explaining that my depression and suicidal thoughts aren't going to be cured by yoga, kale smoothies, exercise, mindfulness, whale song recordings or other quack cures. I'm sick and tired of explaining that I've had enough of swallowing a heap of different pills to try to level out my moods - one to counteract another, and so on ad nauseam. I'm sick and tired of explaining that my job is making me unwell, but I can't quit because I need the money. I'm sick and tired of explaining that my living and travel arrangements are toxic to my mental health, destroying any sense of wellbeing. I'm sick and tired of hearing simple solutions to an oversimplified version of my complicated problems. I'm sick and tired, and I want to die, because that's the only easy solution.

I was pleased to reach the end of Jinxed January. I was pleased to start dating again. I was pleased that money has started to flow again. However, it's all too little too late - the demands which have been placed on me are too great. The things I've had to battle through and overcome have exhausted me, and I've got nothing left to give - I'm spent.

In the last year I lost two girlfriends, two apartments, two jobs. In the last year I spent 7 weeks in hospital. In the last year I quit stimulants, opiates, benzodiazepines, neuropathic painkillers, sleeping tablets and a host of other pills, powders and potions. I moved between several cities and slept in so many different beds that I can't possibly count them all. You'd think that all the hard work would pay off, but it hasn't. For all the agony and anxiety, there's no reward at the end of it. For all the stress and strain, it hasn't got me anywhere. For all the self-denial and good behaviour, there's been no benefit.

I emerged from work this evening and the sky wasn't completely dark. Longer days are coming. Better weather is on its way. However, sustaining myself until the first warm days of this year is going to be impossible - I'll never make it to mid-spring, because I'm fucked right now. "One day at a time" is the problem - the days are unbearable.

I thought my suicidal thoughts had subsided, but this evening I had the strongest urge to end my life that I've had in quite a long time. My suicidal thoughts had turned into hopes and plans for the future, but this evening those hopes seemed too far out of reach. I've done the maths and the figures just don't add up. There's no way that I can carry on. The money's not coming in fast enough to stop the rot. I can't keep myself afloat like this any longer.

I found some Bitcoins I'd forgotten about. They're sitting there ready to be spent on the dark web. I'm not going to relapse, because that would be slow suicide. If I'm going to kill myself, I'm going to do it quickly and suddenly, not in the drawn-out and degrading way that happens with drug addiction. If I'm going to kill myself, it's going to be with pride and dignity, knowing that I tried as hard as humanly possible to rescue myself, but it wasn't enough. If I'm going to commit suicide, I'm going to be clean, sober and sane.

Life's not worth the aggravation. Life's not worth the effort. The rewards just don't match up with the stress, exhaustion, loneliness, isolation, boredom, trauma, suffering, grief and inevitable death.

Why bother?

I've worked a million jobs and delivered a zillion projects. I've moved house so many times, built fortunes, created companies and invented products. I've travelled. I've lived and loved. I've taken everything to the extreme. I've had enough. I'm sick of this shit.

Don't try to persuade me to live and don't be sad when I'm gone. I've lived a thousand lifetimes. I just can't stand having to live one more, when it's just repeating the same old bullshit I've done a million times before.

Don't ring the police or whatever. I'm not going to kill myself immediately. I just really want to die and I'm planning when and how I'm going to do it.

 

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How to be a Philosopher

8 min read

This is a story about thinking...

Thought bubble

There's a bit of a monopoly on thinking. I mean, you're allowed to think and stuff, but you're not allowed to share those thoughts. Well, you can share your thoughts but nobody's going to care, because you're a nobody. People want to know the opinions of a rich spoiled heiress who's famous for having her sex tape plastered all over the internet, but not your opinions. People want to know the opinions of those whose opinions are already well publicised, and those who already have a platform and a group of devout followers. Nobody wants to hear any new thoughts, ideas or have their cherished philosophies challenged.

Thus, we arrive in the quagmire of modern day living. We are heavily weighed down by our attachment to notions of what we consider to be virtuous, conferring greater social status and conforming to acceptable social behaviour - norms, if you like.

If you wish to conduct a real-world philosophical experiment, try asking a person on a crowded bus or a train if you can sit where they're sitting. There's nothing written into law to say that you're not allowed to ask if you can sit down without a socially accepted reason, such as being old or pregnant, and I very much doubt you were taught by your parents or in school that you shouldn't ask for somebody to give up their seat for you, so where did the protocol come from? How did it become enshrined that we accept "they had it first" as validity for possession of something we desire?

One might argue that thieves are an example of an antisocial behavioural pattern that, nevertheless, allows a person to get the things that they need in life, just as any one of us might steal the milk from a cow, or the seeds from a plant - we see numerous examples of behaviour that is criminalised and stigmatised in some forms, but accepted and even revered in others. Why is it that we call welfare claimants "scroungers" and "parasites" but we don't we criticise bosses, managers, slave-owners and similarly idle people who profit from the labour of others?

I feel compelled to caveat what I'm writing, and say that there's a kind of absolute morality which decrees that any action which has a victim - rape and murder, for example - is always wrong, while theft and fraud could arguably be said to be victimless, because wealth always needs to be redistributed. In actual fact, in a godless world with no afterlife, there is no place for morality - when you're dead you're dead, so you might as well do whatever the hell you want, provided the profit to you is greater than the potential societally-imposed consequences.

If you were asked to say what the prevailing philosophy of the present day is, what would you reply? Would you say that we are still religious and subscribe to the ancient belief systems of the major religions? Would you say that we have adopted the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks? Would you say that we have adopted modern politico-economic philosophies, which could broadly be described as socialist or conservative? How would you react if I suggested that we are like a rudderless ship at the moment - we have no guiding philosophy and we are led by vapid celebrities who are incapable of imagining a culture beyond wealth worship and superficial bullshit.

The terrifying truth is that atheism and capitalism have won, ushering in an era of scientific progress, technological advancement and incredibly efficient industry, but without a guiding philosophy. Nobody seems to care that we've forgotten to ask a fundamental question: Why?

Why are we here? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we even alive?

Ultimately, we may come to realise that we might as well live completely hedonistic reckless irresponsible lives, because it's immediately rewarding and death is inevitable. In a godless world with no afterlife, what possible reason is there to consider anything other than maximising our pleasure, right now? There is nothing after this - we just die.

Because it's deeply disturbing to see your family and friends dying, and to know that we are mortal too, we arrive back at the need for religion: Comforting bullshit to allow us to cope with the fact that we're soon going to die. Religion offers an answer where there is none to be found. Science needs no opinion on what existed before time itself, because the question is nonsensical. Science needs no opinion on where our consciousness goes when we die, because it seems self-evident that it doesn't go anywhere at all - you just cease to exist.

Taking the thought experiment - life without any guiding philosophy - to its ultimate conclusion, we can see that we might as well perpetrate rapes and murders and leave the surface of the planet scorched and barren, as we wring every ounce of pleasure out of the present instant. Who cares about tomorrow when we're all going to die? This seems to have a ring of truth about it, when we consider the direction the human race is travelling in. Our laws are nothing versus the power of global capitalism, celebrity, wealth worship, drugs, slavery and the general abandonment of philosophies that sought to make the world a fairer place, where human excesses were curtailed and greed was considered sinful.

There is a vacuum at the moment, left behind when we rejected religion as superstitious bullshit, which of course it is, but religion is also the glue between the pooh - religion at least gave us a kind of consensus of opinion about right and wrong, and why it's better to live life with some view to improving the world for future generations. Governments, politicians and civil servants are not the right people to become a new church. We cannot rely on power-hungry busybodies to provide us with any kind of societal structure, because rules and regulations are nothing if there's no guiding philosophy that people subscribe to. It's a bit like speeding: we all know what the speed limit is, but very rarely do we feel like it applies to us, because rules are there to be broken.

We have created a generation who believe in nothing and want to commit suicide. We have created a generation who are smarter than ever before, but who have nothing to look forward to, and we don't have an answer for them when they ask: Why was I even born?

If you're looking to me for an answer to the big question - why are we here? - then I can give it to you but you're not going to like it. In fact, it rather deserves a blog post of its own, although I've hinted at my answer when I mentioned the scorched earth, created by raping and pillaging all the planet's resources, and the death of consciousness. I've written before about quantum immortality. You really don't want to hear all that stuff again - it's not very nice, even if there's a pretty decent chance it could be correct and it'd be really easy to prove.

Are you still looking for an answer to the big question? If you are then I have good news [sic]. The argument for not being hedonistic and short-termist is that one person can make a difference. Of course, one person on their own is just a blithering idiot who can rant and rave in isolation. We might see that those who live their lives as an example to others are often taken advantage of and lose out because they don't cheat, steal and otherwise conduct themselves without a shred of moral decency. What's the point in voicing an opinion in a world that doesn't care who you are or and whether you live or die? Well, there's a slim chance that your tiny contribution might become part of a bigger movement - a billion whispers become a deafening roar. In a world where no almighty church is going to impose itself on you and declare any wayward views heretical, we have both collective and individual responsibility to formulate our own life philosophies, that are hopefully capable of improving the world, rather than continuing to perpetuate patterns of behaviour that will destroy everything.

Our current thought leaders have provided nothing except the perpetuation of the status quo, the nihilistic vacuum left behind by the decline of religion, and the boom of free-market capitalism. The free market believes in nothing. Politicians believe in nothing. We can no longer survive in a world where we are led by leaders who simply tell us what we want to hear. We can no longer survive as a species when we worship those who exhibit the least capability for free-thinking, the highest preference for elitism and the concentration of the monopoly on thinking in a few powerful hands.

To call myself a writer, a thinker, an intellectual - these things are laughable, of course. However, why do you think that?

 

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California Rocket Fuel

4 min read

This is a story about wanting to feel better...

Venlafaxine and mirtazepine

My mood viciously see-saws between two poles at the moment. Thursday night and Friday night were delightful. Monday morning and Friday morning were abysmal. Sometimes I feel like I have boundless energy and enthusiasm, and other times I just want to curl up and die. I feel weirdly mixed up - both manically high and suicidally low at the same time. I think I'm experiencing what's known as a "mixed state".

Not wanting to get too bound up in navel gazing and examining every minute change in my mood, I'm not going to write too much today. It's the same old stuff that's bothering me - a job that's boring and isolating, and a lifestyle that's unsettled and exhausting. In a few hours I have to get on a train, travel to the other side of the country and then check into yet another AirBnb that I've never been to before: The bedroom will be different; the bathroom will be different; there will be different noises that go bump in the night, waking me up. My life has very little stability and consistency.

I desperately want to reach for substances that will make me feel better. I'd love to pop some pills - like the California Rocket Fuel pictured above - in order to feel more happiness than sadness, but it would be highly likely to push me into out-and-out mania. I really want to quit my job and hide under the duvet for a month or two, but I can't afford to do that.

By the end of February, I'll have run out of money again. I'm burning lots of money on expenses, and I only get paid 61 days after having done my work, because of a strange contractual arrangement. Big outlay and big risk - I'm spending money I don't have in the hope of recouping it in future, which leaves me with nothing but stress.

It seems worthwhile to continue to work through February, even though it's making me sick. If I can finish the month, then I'll have a big paycheque at the start of March and another at the end of March, which will make me solvent again. If I quit now, I'll almost be worse of than if I hadn't bothered. It feels like I've achieved nothing.

My mood is desperately low, but at least my thoughts have turned away from suicide, and instead I think about running away to a hot country, or just stopping work and refusing to get out of bed.

I'm carrying some extra weight from Christmas. I'm unfit. My skin is pale and pasty. I'm still having to carefully budget, lest I run out of money before I complete my contract - my finances are still in a pretty dire situation. I wonder where the reward is for not killing myself. I wonder when - if ever - I'm going to feel glad that I'm alive.

My life is not entirely bleak, and I have brief moments where I'm really happy. There are things I look forward to occasionally. However, it's pretty misery-making that the pressures on me - career and financial - are taking me away from the things I care about, and the things that are good for my mental health. Circumstances demand that I continue to suffer long train journeys, lonely hotel rooms and a bullshit job that's pure torture.

I'm trying to vent and whinge and complain and moan like crazy, in the hope that it'll help me to limp along until the end of the month. I keep telling myself "it's only another X weeks" and counting down the hours, minutes and seconds, but it's pretty unbearable.

I wonder to myself if I should start drinking coffee again. I wonder if there's some kind of pill or powder I can get my hands on that will give me some relief from the dreadful depression. I wonder if there's some way I can earn money and retain my sanity, because the present situation is killing me.

I'm going to stop writing now, because I'm just making myself more miserable. There's nothing more to say. There's nothing that can really be done. I know what I have to do, and I know how much I hate it and how sick it's making me, but I've got to do it.

 

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Black Mark

7 min read

This is a story about disadvantages...

Semicolon sticker

There are a number of ways to get a black mark against your name. Every exam grade that's lower than a "C" is not going to be looked upon favourably. A degree of class 2:2, a third or - heaven forbid - a pass, is something that's going to follow you around like a bad smell. Any gaps on your CV are all damning indictments of your character. These are some of the least bad disadvantages that could be working against you in life.

Police cautions become spent on the day they're issued so you don't have to declare them to any prospective employer - unless you are subject to enhanced checks, because you work with children or vulnerable adults - but a criminal record has to declared up-front. Bankrupts are often compelled to admit to their financial misconduct and being a former bankrupt is often grounds for not employing a person. It even seems commonplace to perform credit checks on people now, as part of vetting for a job.

These are the disadvantages that people have, arguably because they're victims of circumstances beyond their control. The education we had, the friends we made, the wealth we've enjoyed... these are luck, not good judgement. We don't choose our parents. We don't choose to be born into poor uneducated families with a history of criminality, living in poor neighbourhoods - council estates and the like.

Then, we come to matters that are more obviously in our control - the choices we make as an adult.

What are all the things you'd think about when considering whether to get a tattoo or not? If you're a sensible chap or chapess, you'd think about all the bad fashion decisions you've made over the years, and rationally you would think that you wouldn't be able to choose a design that you'd be happy to wear for the rest of your life. Many 'tattoo fixers' are asked to erase the name of an ex - the ink was committed to skin when the relationship seemed as if it was going to last forever, but it didn't.

If you were still intent on making a permanent mark on your skin, you might consider where you're going to do it. If you get something on your foot, it's going to be visible when wearing summer shoes. If you get something on your arm, it might be visible when you roll up your sleeves. Why would anybody get a tattoo on their neck or face?

To all intents and purposes, I come up smelling of roses when the usual background checks are done. I have a fine set of academic qualifications, I have an all-star cast of multinational corporations on my CV, I don't have a criminal record, I've never been bankrupt. I enjoy a considerable advantage over many hopeful job applicants, who are paying a hefty price for something that happened years and years ago. To look at me, to study me on paper and pore over the vetting checks that are routinely done, you would see no evidence of any problems that the checks are supposed to find.

Did I say "look at me"? The careful observer might detect one little clue that I've not led an entirely blemish-free life. I have a black mark that clearly advertises that I've had problems. I write this blog, but you'd have to search for it to find it - you'd have to cyberstalk me - but there's a mark on my body in a totally visible place that you should be able to see, whatever clothes I'm wearing... I can't cover it up.

What the hell is a 35-year-old man who works in offices for prestigious organisations doing getting a tattoo in a visible place? Surely it would be career suicide? Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos don't get hired into positions of professional responsibility. Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos are not made of the right kind of stuff to enjoy positions of senior management responsibility. Everybody knows that people with visible tattoos are trash; scum; the dregs of society.

Getting a tattoo was stupid, of course, but it was also brave. Getting a tattoo was direct action: a protest about my sister having a hard time from my parents about her inked body. Getting a tattoo has been the best way to thumb my nose at bosses who desperately want my skills and experience, but who would never dream of giving an opportunity to somebody who's been less fortunate in life. Getting a tattoo is a running gag - a joke - which attacks all the gatekeepers who are seeking to keep the riff raff from getting ahead in life. When I sit down for an interview, my tattoo can't be seen face to face - it's behind my ear. It's usually too late - I've been hired - when the bosses first notice it. So many people don't get their foot in the door, because there's a black mark that causes them to be dismissed out of hand as an unsuitable candidate.

Why a semicolon?

If I was ever asked by a colleague, my answer would be that it's a programmer thing - I finished every line of computer code I've ever written with a semicolon.

The truth is that I'd been trying various ways to restabilise my life, which mainly revolved around earning bucketloads of cash as an IT contractor. The pressure and stress of one particularly nasty IT contract had pushed me to the brink of what I could survive. I'd asked to be hospitalised for my own safety. I flew to San Francisco, leaving myself just 4 hours to get to the airport from the time I booked the tickets, and went directly to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was erratic. I had no idea what to do, so I did everything. There was one thing that was constant: writing. The idea of the semicolon has come to mean that my story - this suicide note - could have come to an end, but I chose not to end it and keep writing. I jumped on a popular bandwagon. I joined a movement. I copied something that other people were doing. I tend to zig when everybody else zags, so getting a tattoo like other people's felt really good; it felt right.

Everything seems to piece together and make sense when seen as a whole. Writing under my real name and writing without a filter - completely candidly - and declaring my every fault is career suicide. Having a visible tattoo is career suicide. Those things together are the only way that I was going to cope when constantly dealing with gatekeepers who want to check my criminal record, check my credit rating, check if I'm a bankrupt, check my academic qualifications, check my references, check my passport and birth certificate. If the gatekeepers could, they'd pry into every single part of my private life... so I'm letting them. Here it is - come and fill your boots!

Who knows where this experiment's going to lead me. Perhaps I will suffer more discrimination. I've already lost two lucrative contracts as a direct result of living my life as an open book. Perhaps the disadvantages will continue to stack up and I'll be derailed from the fast track and shunted into the sidings, like so many people who've had the misfortune of accruing a black mark against their name.

If I seem at all disrespectful towards those who don't have any choice - they have criminal records, bad exam grades, a CV full of gaps and roles that don't have fancy job titles - then I apologise. Perhaps my little game can only be played by me because I'm so privileged.

I hope that what's going to happen is a move towards a more open society, where we can be honest about our past transgressions.


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Goodbye, Jinxed January

8 min read

This is a story about the bitter end...

Urine bottle

For a devout atheist, I can be surprisingly superstitious. I seem to have survived Jinxed January without losing my job, becoming homeless, going bankrupt, being hospitalised, getting sectioned, getting arrested, getting anybody pregnant, committing any crimes, taking any illegal drugs, contracting a terminal illness or dying. Epic win.

I looked in my photo archives to see what I was doing this time last year. Apparently I was pissing in a bottle, hospitalised on a high dependency ward with kidney failure. On my blog, I was writing about "what would Jesus do?" so I was clearly pretty deranged, but then I was on dialysis for several hours a day, which was not exciting so I'm sure my mind must have been wandering a lot. On Facebook I was jabbering about a cocktail of painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquillisers I was taking to try to get some sleep on the ward. I feel relatively sane and happy by comparison - my life looks quite peachy compared to that unfortunate period.

I looked back two years ago to see what was going on at the end of January and there's a gap. I simply ceased to exist for a few days, before popping up and writing over 3,000 words about all manner of things. It looks pretty conclusive that I was in the vice-like grip of madness and shenanigans.

I can't look back three years on my blog, because I only started two and a half years ago, but I do know that three years ago today I was staying with friends in County Cork, Ireland. My contract with Barclays had been terminated early, I'd broken up with my girlfriend, lost loads of friends because of the breakup and I had been evicted from my apartment in Swiss Cottage. I needed to escape from London for a bit, because I couldn't take any more, and so my friends looked after me in rural Ireland. Not so jinxed, but pretty jinxed because my life was still totally messed up.

I can see from an email that four years ago I was receiving inpatient treatment for dual diagnosis - bipolar and substance abuse - after the messiest and most acrimonious divorce you can imagine. My life was profoundly dysfunctional - I'd only just managed to escape "the poison dwarf" and the relationship that nearly killed me. My stuff was in storage and I was living with friends in Kentish Town. My new business had been put on hold because the divorce and house sale had been too much for me to handle. I'd been surviving by mining bitcoins, but the price had crashed and I was in big trouble, even though I'd managed to cash in at $1,100 per bitcoin.

I can't see my email from five years ago, because I lost my original Google Mail account, which I'd had since soon after GMail launched for public beta testing. I can see that I was late for my appointment to see a psychiatrist who I'd found (albeit a week later) so I imagine that things were pretty dire... although I clearly had the presence of mind to find a private psychiatrist and arrange my own treatment, so I'm guessing this was the beginning of the descent into Hell. This time five years ago - roughly - my new wife told me that she wanted to be a widow and that she wouldn't let me have the treatment I needed. This time five years ago, I was trying to find people to help me, while my wife and my parents broke my heart. This time five years ago, I realised that I needed to get my parents and my wife out of my life at all costs - I realised they're toxic people and that if I wanted to have any kind of future, they couldn't be part of it.

Five years of insanity is a hell of a long time. In those five years, things got a lot worse before they got any better. In those five years, I sorely missed my house and my cat. In those five years, I sorely missed the life I'd built for myself, with my friends and my good reputation and my good job. I threw away a lot, taking a gamble that I'd be better off in the long run. The last five years have been insane, but I don't see how I could have extricated myself from the situation any better. I've played the best I could with the cards I was dealt.

I'm sick and tired of Jinxed January, and I hope I've seen the back of it; I hope I've broken the curse.

Of course I tempt fate by saying that now I've had one un-jinxed January then I've got things sussed and it'll all be plain sailing from here. Of course there are going to be Foul Februarys and Miasmic Marches but January has been my nemesis for so long. I don't want to get cocky and complacent, but it's a big deal that I've beaten this dratted month. February and March are going to be dreadful, but at least I have a few quid in my pocket, no imminent threat of homelessness and nothing particularly awful on the horizon. I have another month of paid work ahead of me. For once, I have a few things going in my favour.

You might see that my biggest fight is with myself. Of course, there's work available year-round and my skills mean that I'm never going to go hungry and homeless, except through spectacular self-sabotage. It seems obvious that I should just quietly and obediently pop the pills and behave myself. It doesn't look that hard to just get my head down and concentrate on working hard to get myself back into a position of financial security. To say that by the end of the year I could be well and truly wealthy again, seems like no time at all to you. However, you must remember that I march to a different beat. My timescales are not the same as your timescales.

I'm not going to get paid for the whole of February. A very Frugal February beckons. The weather's just as dark and miserable in February and my job will be just as isolating, lonely and boring. The unfavourable conditions very much remain unpleasant and unconducive to any mood improvement. However, the so-called short month of February does seem like a less daunting proposition than Jinxed January was. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Another month without an almighty fuck-up is a huge achievement, in the context of my messed up 5 years of Jinxed Januarys. If I'm being superstitious, so be it, because it's helped me to avoid going off the rails.

I'm really pleased with where I'm at actually. Drink and drug free, unmedicated, as sane as I'll ever be, relatively settled in my home life, regular(ish) income and gainful employment. There aren't too many loose ends to tidy up. I'm on top of my taxes and my paperwork. To be in this position, at this dreadful time of year, where I don't have anything looming that's of major concern, is a really big deal.

I submitted another invoice to my client, and even though I lost over £4,000 of potential earnings this month, I'm still in profit after expenses. The money's not in the bank yet, but it's on its way. Perhaps it will be good to spend another month being a little thrifty - money after all, can be something that's triggering.

Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm imagining that by the end of February, my financial woes will be mostly ended. I'm imagining that by the end of March I'll be feeling positively wealthy again. I'm projecting into the future, and that's bound to end up making me miserable. I still have a whole month more of my miserable boring contract to do. I need to start looking for the next job, at some point sooner rather than later. I can't make tomorrow come any sooner, and I shouldn't wish away today.

What can I say, except I'm slightly glad that I didn't throw away a perfectly salvageable situation. I'd still rather be dead, because it's been a lot of stress and hassle, but I'm alive so I'll carry on for a bit longer and see what tomorrow brings.

 

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The Relentless Manipulation of my Moods Using Every Means at my Disposal

9 min read

This is a story about music...

Out clubbing

The only things that seem to be capable of making me cry at the moment are Disney movies and a 90-second passage from The Tempest, which is about dreams and sleep. I quote it now for your interest, and as I write this big salty tears are rolling down my cheeks:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.

It seems remarkable to me that I'm not able to resist the mawkish and emotionally manipulative thrust of the Disney movies, and I blub in all the right places and even some of the wrong ones. To accuse me of being emotionally unstable or having a tendency towards inappropriate emotional responses to situations, is grossly inaccurate and untrue. I would agree that I'm unguarded; trusting... a little vulnerable and certainly quite naïve, although I would argue that I prefer to be naïve than cynical and guarded.

In terms of protecting myself from whimsically falling in love and getting hurt, I would say that I don't protect myself at all. My emotions go where they want to go and I let them. I use the "L" word very sparingly and tend to distrust strong emotions, viewing them as transient; fleeting. I favour loyalty above everything else. I've got no time for game playing and wimpy wusses who are afraid of getting hurt.

Under a railway arch in Vauxhall, I experienced what the children of doting parents must experience their whole lives - to be loved, cared for; adored. I felt a sense of contentment and security that had been absent throughout my bullied childhood. I felt the warm embrace - the hug, if you like - that had been absent in my life and had turned me into an insecure person who completely lacked self-confidence and a sense of identity. I'd been through 8 schools and lost countless friends due to my druggie alkie loser parents not giving a shit about the damage they were doing. The experience of clubbing under the railway arches was curative - this was the love that had been sorely absent in my life. The catalyst? MDMA.

Fifteen years later, my marriage was collapsing. I needed to go to hospital. I was admitted to The Priory thanks to my private health insurance.

It's actually unremarkable that I grew out of a brief period where I dabbled with recreational drugs - ecstasy - and went on to have a 15-year blemish-free career, before the stress of a toxic and abusive relationship tipped me back into the very state I was in when I was a child: in desperate need of some unconditional love. It seems obvious that depriving a person of their identity and security, and bullying them, would result in trauma and psychological damage. It seems obvious that the same negative stimuli would elicit the same negative response.

While I was in The Priory, I handed in my iPod after a couple of weeks. I had decided that I was using music as a way of manipulating my moods, in a similar manner to people drinking, smoking and using drugs, in response to stress and other negative situations. I decided that if I was going to take treatment seriously, I would have to avoid things which I could use and abuse to alter my mood.

Presently, we seem to think it's virtuous to deny ourselves all the things we enjoy. Cream cakes (too fatty), fizzy drinks (too much sugar), beer and wine (alcoholic), masturbation ("wanker", "tosser" etc.), spending money (too fun) and all the other things that make life mildly bearable are given up for January, while we run on a treadmill in a gym, or lash ourselves with a bunch of nettles or whatever the f**k it is that 'virtuous' people do these days.

When I was seized with the notion that pure devotion to a 'natural' life would lead to happier, healthier times, it became as obsessive as anything else that might be characterised as an addiction. I became addicted to making every single tiny health tweak in my life that I could. I cut out dairy and gluten. I washed out my sinuses with saline. I probably would have done colonic irrigation if I'd thought about it at the time. The whole thing was dumb - pure superstition and pseudoscience.

Today, I take dietary supplements - 5-HTP, tyrosine and magnesium - which are supposed to provide my brain with the building blocks it needs to restore normal mood and improve my sleep. However, I've also abused simple amino acids and even pure dopamine - in the form of L-DOPA - to put my brain into a completely unnatural state, with the intention of achieving an otherwise unattainable euphoria or level of performance.

I've abused stimulants to stay awake and give me the energy to dance all night. I've used prolactin-suppressing medications to allow me to have multiple orgasms. I've used erectile dysfunction medications to allow me to sustain an erection for priapic lengths of time. I've used drugs to move my mood up, down and sideways - attempting to 'play god' if you like.

How many drugs and medications have I tried? Two hundred? Three hundred? More? This is not hyperbole - I had the time, the money, the determination and the means.

If you think I'm an idiot who makes bad choices, I ask you to look again. Imagine what my upbringing was like before I discovered that there was this chemical - MDMA - that unlocked me from that miserable prison. Of course I was going to mistakenly believe that it was a trick that could be repeated. In my desperation to escape a toxic abusive relationship 15 years later, I tried heroin, crack and crystal meth - amongst innumerable others - and none of them grabbed me. I methodically worked my way through everything I could get my hands on - illegal drugs, legal highs and black-market prescription medications.

The net result was not a predictable one. Instead of being dead in a ditch due to poly-substance abuse, I'm now quite averse to any psychoactive substances. I'm one of the few people you know who doesn't drink caffeinated beverages. That I'm unmedicated for my mental health problems is not because I think I'm "well" but because I know that I prefer to suffer the symptoms - very few people you know are prepared to tolerate depression and anxiety, but I do so on a daily basis without medication to assist me.

There's a part of me that wants to quit carbs, quit booze and join a gym, but frankly I've got enough shit on my plate just trying to get up in the mornings and not kill myself.

I loosened the purse strings and bought a few new clothes at the weekend. I went on a couple of dates. I'm listening to euphoric dance music, eating what I want to eat and drinking quite a lot. Fuck it. Life's too short to be miserable.

Last night, a woman ran up behind me as I was crossing the road and started asking for money. I said "sorry". She launched into an escalating level of abuse, accusing me of saying "no" and for toying her when she was "begging [for my] help". She was too busy yelling and screaming horrible names at me to be interested in the fact that I would've helped her, absolutely. In fact I still would. Fuck it, even if she was just rattling for "B and white" (heroin and crack, also known as "dark and light") and she was short for the score, I'd have helped. You've got to acknowledge the complexities of life and human nature if you want to help anybody. Expecting everybody to be gym-going, kale-eating, alcohol and drug free totally fucking ridiculously 'virtuous' people is absurd. Most of us have a vice.

When I think about how long I lived without my cat to stroke, and without the pleasure of snuggling with a girl I'm really into, I'm surprised I made it this far. What's the point of life without a good healthy dose of oxytocin? Is life even liveable without the bonding hormone? I really don't think it is.

So, as we approach the end of Jinxed January, I'm throwing caution to the wind little by little. I'm buying myself new clothes and having a haircut, because it's great for my self-esteem. I'm dating and having sex because it's fucking awesome. I'm letting myself do a million little things that just make my day a little bit more bearable, because that's what life's all about if you don't want it to be suicidal misery.

There's a chance that all the little changes in my life will destabilise me. It's all quite stressful, even if it's also fun. I'm quite well aware that something as simple as a late night can throw my world into quite a lot of chaos, but sod it, life's too short and I've waited and been sensible for long enough.

I don't think I'm going to go clubbing and take any MDMA any time soon though.

 

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Too Sick to Work

5 min read

This is a story about hitting a brick wall...

Rat race skull

What happens if I can't get up and go to the office? I presume I lose my contract pretty promptly. I didn't have an interview to get my job and I'm very well paid. It seems like madness to risk losing my income, but perhaps that illustrates just how much I'm struggling at the moment.

By about 4:30pm this afternoon I was hungry enough to get up and go and find something to eat, so I can't be very sick, can I? When I was feeling too unwell to work a couple of weeks ago, I was suicidal. Today I haven't been suicidal, so I must be a lot better. Why would I throw away a great opportunity to earn some big bucks?

It's true that my contract was a gift which was perfectly timed to rescue me from financial ruin. It's true that I've been able to mess around with new technology and add some desirable skills to my repertoire. It's true that working has been good for my self-esteem. However, I've been too lonely, bored, stressed, isolated and having to pretend to look busy, for far too long. It's impossible to go into an office and sit all on your own, shuffling papers around your desk for 40 hours a week. I know it sounds like a cushy number, but I've been alone with my thoughts and with no distractions for far too long.

If I lose this contract I know I'll regret it. I don't mean to play with fire. I don't mean to be turning down well paid work when it's offered. I genuinely couldn't face it today. I genuinely couldn't face the many days I've bunked off this year, even though I very much wanted to work.

"You can't have wanted to work that much, can you?" you may ask.

I want to work and I want the money, it's just that there's a fundamental incompatibility with my current state of mind and my mood, and the grim task of having to sit and look busy at my desk, with nobody to talk to. The suggestion that I start random water-cooler chats with strangers is absurd. People are very busy. People have jobs to do. It would be far worse to draw attention to the fact that I'm idle, than to attempt to simply sit and wish away the hours, minutes and seconds, being miserable at my desk.

There are limits to how miserable you can get. There's a point where depression switches to the active pursuit of suicide. Once you go beyond the point where depression exceeds the survival instinct, you die, or at least attempt to die. Once you go beyond the point where work is far more miserable than being destitute, you'll cease to force yourself to go a job that's devastatingly awful for your mental health.

There's a chance that things could change at work and I could get a new project, but today's the first day that my client's back in the office after a two and a half week holiday, so they'll be dealing with a backlog of emails and other things to catch up on. Nobody really wants to have to find things for a so-called 'self-starter' to do, but I'm a thousand miles away from my colleagues, so it's not like I can just chat to them and see if I can make myself useful in some way.

I've always found that there's a certain amount of thumb-twiddling and doing pointless time-filling tasks just to keep busy, in the job I've chosen. I made some career changes to allow me to retain my sanity, but averse life events have caused me to have to go back to doing work that pays the bills, despite the detriment to my health.

It's true that I'm very lucky to be very well paid to do what I do, but it doesn't change the inescapable fact of the matter: I'm not coping without daily interaction with a team of people, and a certain amount of variety in my daily grind. Nobody's job's perfect, but mine's definitely not really helping me struggle through Jinxed January and stay stable through a stressful and testing time for my mental health and long-term wellbeing.

You know, lots of people choose their jobs because they're night owls, or because they can't stand working in offices, or because they thrive off the energy of people and their souls would be destroyed by having to sit and stare at spreadsheets for a living. Lots of people choose their jobs because it's something they want to do and it suits their personality. I'm doing my contract because I need the money.

I know I sound like a scratched record, but I'm barely limping along to the end of the month.

Would I rather be unemployed and broke? In a lot of ways, yes.

 

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