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The world's longest suicide note

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

All opinions are my own

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Paradoxical Rage

9 min read

This is a story about losing my temper...

Ruined shoe

I'm blessed with the ability to observe reality and analyse it using pure reason and logic; in fact it's a prerequisite of my chosen career - to be able to decompose the world into systems which can be modelled mathematically inside a computer. Computer science is good science, because in its very essence it's repeatable. If an experiment is not repeatable it's not science. So many experiments in psychology, biology and fringe pseudosciences are not repeatable at all - when those experiments are re-run, the supposedly statistically significant findings cannot be reproduced. Even many so-called scientists are prone to being led by their gut instincts and preconceived ideas - they draw completely incorrect conclusions from their data, and publish findings which are simply bad science because they're based on small sample sets and incorrect assumptions.

A lot of scientists invent a hypothesis and devise an experiment to prove or disprove the theory, then when they find that their experimental findings do not support their theory, they look at all the data and attempt to reverse-engineer a theory from the results. For example, let's say that it's my theory that people with red hair have anger issues, and so I go out onto the streets and ask anyone with red hair to complete a survey for me, as well as a number of control subjects. When I crunch the data, I find that there's no evidence that the redheads are more angry than the control group. Instead of abandoning the research as fruitless, I look again at the data and I find out that a lot of 18 to 24 year olds have scored highly on the "anger scale" based on the surveys they filled in. Thus, I conclude that this age group has anger issues, and publish my findings as if that was the original theory being tested. This is flawed science, because there was no underlying theory or hypothesis which existed before I did my experiment, and my experiment was not designed to prove or disprove the theory which I'm publishing. I'm pretending I've discovered something profound and important, when I haven't. If the experiment is repeated the results vary wildly - at prestigious universities, the 18 to 24 year olds are not angry at all, and in former industrial towns with high unemployment the 40 to 50 year olds are even more angry than the original group. Thus, the experiment is not at all repeatable and the published conclusions are worthless.

We are often so eager to reach a profound conclusion that we believe we have discovered a universal truth, when in fact we've discovered nothing. We are keen to talk in absolute terms and declare things to be fixed and immutable, when in fact the world around us is constantly shapeshifting, making it virtually impossible to tease out cause and effect - feedback loops obfuscate the fundamental laws which govern reality, so it's ludicrous to talk about macroscopic matters as if they can be examined in isolation and behaviour will be consistent no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.

Human mood, perceptions and behaviour are particularly fickle, and to believe that a person can be simplified to the point where they behave in a predictable manner according to a convenient model or label, is laughable. To say a person is "an angry man" or to damn somebody's character with a label like Borderline Personality Disorder, is not only useless but also leads to completely incorrect beliefs, in much the same way that the 12 signs of the zodiac tell you absolutely nothing about a person's character and temperament. Not only is each individual unique, but their character and behaviour will be different dependent on their ever-changing circumstances. It might be possible to corner a person and bludgeon them to death, but it really doesn't tell you very much if you limited their options and inflicted atrocities upon them. So desperate are a group of powerful elites to believe that their theories are correct, that they'll physically restrain and force vulnerable people to comply with their flawed belief system, learning only that the more artificial constraints a person suffers the more frustrated and dysfunctional they become.

Rage can be paradoxical, but so can positive reactions and behaviours. We might believe that if somebody draws a knife or a gun, our only response should be to draw a weapon of our own in defence, which will then neutralise the situation. It seems fairly obvious that in fact there are a range of available options, some of which will have much more positive outcomes than "comply or die" diktat. Of course, somebody can pull rank or badge and say that they are acting with authority in imposing their tyranny on another human being - claiming it to be in the best interests of an individual or society - but in fact we can surely see from the available evidence that this is not successful at all.

I've suffered bouts of paradoxical rage. I've become obsessively and disproportionately angry about things, and my anger has been completely misplaced. The crap on the side of my leather shoe - pictured above - was from a walk through a garden in winter time, so far as I could remember, but I suddenly became angry about it the following summer. I apportioned blame, becoming more and more entrenched in my belief that some compensation was owed to me. I got increasingly angry and frustrated about the issue, and I was soon completely consumed by an obsession that the matter had to be settled immediately. It felt at the time as if I'd suffered the most terrible injustice imaginable.

That the matter of the ruined shoe was resolved was somehow the very last thing I wanted. My rage was nonsensical and my demands were unreasonable; my blame was misplaced. I was completely in the wrong and I suppose I knew it all along, but my world had inverted and rational thought eluded me. I suppose I've lived most of my life with the burden of being the rational person who's been forced to suffer other people's illogical bulls**t, so very occasionally I flip out and cross over into the world which most people inhabit, where fuzzy-headed dunces perpetrate unspeakable acts of violence against anybody who doesn't do what they want.

I received a pair of replacement shoes, which immediately caused me to return to my senses. I was flooded with disbelief, shame, embarrassment, guilt and regret. Not only could I not believe that - for once - the world had bent to my nonsensical will, instead of vice-versa, but I was gobsmacked that I'd been so obsessed and insanely angry; my anger was completely ridiculous and misplaced. My logic and reasoning had evaporated and I'd behaved just like an average ordinary person; I perpetrated a terrible tyranny until the result complied with what I stubbornly believed; until I got what I wanted. As soon as I got the result I thought with horror "what have I done?". As soon as my point was seemingly proven, I knew with certainty that the very opposite was true - I had acted abominably and my thinking was plain wrong all along; my behaviour was outrageously unjustified.

If we step back and consider the bigger picture, we might consider that I was involved in an abusive relationship for many years, where rage and violence trumped logic and reason, and I was viciously tyrannised. I had never known known love, as my parents sought to impose their iron will over me and thought of me as an animal to be made obedient, compliant and robotic in its behaviour, through abuse. I spent about 8 years in a relationship with an aggressive psychopath who completely tormented, dominated and subdued me. Considering this, the shoe incident can be understood thusly: the most important relationships in my life had never contained any love or care for me or my feelings. The shoe incident caused me to completely reverse my stance when the reaction to my unreasonable behaviour was clearly an act of love and care; an act of kindness, the likes of which I had always hoped to receive but had never gotten from my parents or ex-wife. I had demanded proof that there are decent people in the world, and I had not been disappointed - at last - despite all the years when I had the very great misfortune of being tortured, trapped and tyrannised by abusive bullies.

My eternally optimistic hope that my strategy of being unguarded, open, trusting and loving, despite the very great risk of getting hurt, has been very successful since I cut my parents and ex-wife out of my life. I suppose I carry more baggage than I'm aware of, and it's certainly alarming that my behaviour has on a couple of occasions, mirrored that of the horrible tyrants who I suffered at the hands of. However, I on the other hand, respond immediately and positively to love and kindness, unlike my parents and ex-wife who's only objective was to subdue, control and abuse me... they never felt guilt or regret for dominating me and crushing me under their heel; they never saw their own behaviour as abhorrent, even though it was undoubtedly so.

My life's had maybe just three incredibly uncharacteristic fits of seemingly inexplicable rage, under the most extreme circumstances imaginable. Logic and reason eluded me and I fleetingly believed crazy things and acted in the most extreme and unreasonable way. My misbehaviour became quickly apparent to me - with sudden realisation - and has left me with nothing but sorrow, regret and guilt. I have no entrenched stubborn belief that my thoughts and actions could be explained or justified, unlike the total assholes who abused, traumatised, tyrannised, bullied and dominated me for far too many years of my life. If it sounds like I'm excusing my behaviour, I'm not. I live with my guilt, unlike those assholes.

I would say that alcohol and benzodiazepines play a very important role in disinhibiting thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which potentiates paradoxical rage. I don't think I would have meandered so far from the path of logic and reason, and been so stubbon and unreasonable - closed minded - if my brain chemistry hadn't been substantially destabilised by psychoactive substances.

I firmly believe that if you want to defend yourself you should lower your guard. If you want to de-escalate a situation you should be kind, not aggressive. If you want love, love.

 

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When Is A Life Choice Not A Life Choice?

6 min read

This is a story about taking responsibility...

Cookie monster

What did you do to get fat, poor, alcoholic, addicted to drugs, mentally ill, bored and unfulfilled in your job and your life, into an abusive relationship, trapped onto benefits or otherwise cornered?

Those who think of themselves as having made smart life choices are quick to criticise those less fortunate than them, believing that the difference between them was simply one of choice.

A fat person simply chose to eat more calories than their energy requirement. If you mostly sit around watching TV, you don't need any more calories than those required to pump the muscle of your heart, move the diaphragm of your lungs, and for your cells to create enough heat to keep your blood at 37 degrees Celsius.

A poor person simply chose to not study very hard at school, and to not seek a lucrative career. If a poor person wants to become richer, there is an established path of acquiring academic qualifications, and then working your way up through the ranks to gain the experience you need to get a better job.

An alcoholic simply chose to not stop drinking before their body entered a state of alcohol dependence syndrome. The first time that you get the shakes after drinking, you could quit and possibly avoid delirium tremens and having a seizure.

A drug addict simply chose to continue to seek whatever escapism and pain numbing they found comforting in their drug of choice. A drug addict could simply choose to live with the pain and issues that they're trying to escape, or kill themselves in a much quicker way.

Mentally ill, stressed, anxious, depressed people simply chose to put themselves into an overwhelming situation that doesn't meet their needs and constantly bombards them with things that they have to do that they can't cope with. A depressed person could simply stop working, draw the curtains closed, and wait to be sacked and evicted onto the streets.

People in abusive relationships are simply choosing to not give up on their partner and remain optimistic about things getting resolved, or are simply choosing to be trapped into a cycle of abuse that fills them with so much fear that they feel unable to remove themselves from the situation. People in abusive relationships are simply choosing to not run away from the family home with their children, and live where? On the street?

People on benefits are simply choosing to not take a zero hours contract McJob on minimum wage that would see their benefits slashed as well as also having to spend all their paycheque on childcare so that some stranger can raise their kids, who they never get to see anymore because they're at work the whole time. People on benefits are choosing to live on a government handout that is not enough to pay for the basic essentials that they need, and puts them into a hand-to-mouth stressful existence with no hope of escape.

Maybe you could combine all these things, so that somebody is an overweight drunk with a drug habit, depressed, anxious, under-qualified for any decent job, and wedded to both the welfare state and an abusive partner, both of which have their claws into the person such that they can never escape.

Do you think it sounds appealing, the idea of living life without the comfort of food and eating? Life without the simple pleasure of sugary and fatty snacks. Do you think it sounds appealing, being stone cold sober and straight, with absolutely zero chemicals to alter your perception of the world, when your world consists of collecting benefits cheques that disappear like sand running through your fingers, with no hope for any kind of different future? Life without the numbing power of intoxicants, and the brief moments of joy that might be brought by other drugs, in an otherwise bleak and depressing existence.

Imagine having to give up your home, your partner, your family, your chemical crutches, your favourite food, and live in the cold harsh light of a reality of being single, alone, homeless, withdrawing from drugs and alcohol, dealing with depression and anxiety with nothing other than this magical bullshit thing called "willpower" alone.

Yes, it's all very well criticising the poor and unfortunate from your villa in Tuscany or the deck of a yacht. Yes, it's all very well talking about poor life choices, while you sit in your second home counting your money.

The truth of the matter though is this: the difference between successful people and unfortunate ones is pure blind luck.

We don't pick our shitty irresponsible lazy parents. We don't pick how wealthy our family is. We don't pick our schools. We don't pick whether we will have academic aptitude or not. We don't pick whether we can apply ourselves to the task of getting a lucrative job, or whether we hold onto unrealistic fantasies of becoming a pop singer or a Premiership footballer for far too long, before reality finally dawns on us. We don't pick whether we get to throw ourselves into our careers, our homes, our families, our pets, our hobbies... or whether we end up running to the bottle, the pills, the powders and the needle, in order to deal with the extraordinary shitness of daily existence.

Life is short. Life is shit. If your life is not shit, you're in no position to tell other people that it's because they're lazy, irresponsible, stupid and they made bad life choices. If your life is not shit, it's because you were lucky enough to be born into a family of reasonable wealth and education. You were lucky enough to fall into something that was lucky enough to work out. Yes, you made choices, but there was a huge component of luck that it worked out. Plenty of people made the same choices as you, but through no fault of their own, things didn't work out well for them.

In the blink of an eye, you can have an accident that will have life-changing consequences. In the blink of an eye, your one golden opportunity can pass you by, and you'll be shunted off the smooth tarmac and onto the rocky road. In the blink of an eye, your fortunes can change, and you find yourself cast into the seething mass of humanity, all crawling over each other like crabs in a bucket, trying to escape.

Just because you were lucky enough to make your escape, doesn't mean that anybody else can follow your special recipe, doesn't mean that anybody else can find their perfect job, can find fulfilment, contentment. Just remember: one slip and you're just as fucked as all the other people who weren't lucky like you were.

One slip and you're fucked.

 

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Regression Therapy

10 min read

This is a story about hypnosis...

Many mes

Dredging up the past is meant to be unhealthy, but how are we supposed to move forward without letting go of things that are holding us back? How are we supposed to be secure and happy, until we find a stable base to build upon?

I've been going back through the memory banks, trying to figure out how I arrived here, today. I've been wondering whether I should repair and renovate, or whether to build anew, to start again afresh, from scratch.

As I've recounted my story, I realise there's a repeating theme: having to leave stuff behind and rebuild everything. Every time I do that, I feel like it's a test of true friendships - to see if they'll survive long-distance. It's insecurity that drives a lot of this, so please don't feel I'm actually testing people.

Thinking about it, I've actually become hypersensitive to feelings of rejection. I will now push people away, as soon as their commitment to friendship seems questionable. I've learned to not let people into my heart anymore, and to try and be a person who can withstand the shock of losing all my friends, at any moment. "I'll just make new friends" I tell myself, as I find myself feeling all alone, yet again.

The first times I lost all my friends, circumstances were out of my control. I was moved from school to school, and around the country. These were early, formative lessons in the value of human relationships. The message was clear: I don't deserve stable relationships.

Later, I lost groups of friends due to relationship breakups. This was part of the learning process of growing up. You need to have your own friends, or else you're too heavily dependent on your partner for your social life, and you have a double-whammy when you break up.

Finally, I tried to move out of London to live on the coast, and hoped that I would be able to have friends come visit from the city, to keep me going. In actual fact, the change wasn't so bad that time, as I made local friends through kitesurfing, plus my friends from London did come to visit quite often.

Unfortunately, my life completely collapsed, what with an abusive all-consuming relationship, that poisoned a lot of relationships and a malicious ex who campaigned against me and caused many of my friends to take sides, in a way that I've never experienced before. The place I used to live in was small, and rumours and gossip became unbearable. I needed a clean break from that microcosm.

In that instance, every area of my life was intimately connected to every other area. People from completely different areas of my life would say to me "I heard..." and repeat some vicious propaganda from my ex, that was completely one-sided. Because I was very sick, I couldn't stand it, I couldn't defend myself against the onslaught of a person intent on defacing my character, I couldn't match my ex's energy and I couldn't bring myself to stoop to the level of retaliation. Believe me, I could have dished the dirt on her, just like she did on me.

But, this is about moving on. I'm determined that I'm not going to let bitterness and regret overwhelm me, even though I feel terribly hurt, isolated, alone and treated unfairly. There's two sides to every story, but my side doesn't have to be told if it's just tit-for-tat. I'm bigger than that.

Pendulum

You know, you should go ahead and judge me. If you don't know and like my character by now, then I'm not going to try and convince you. I'm not going to twist your arm. I don't know why more people don't unfriend me on Facebook, block my number on WhatsApp and generally send the message that I'm dumped, as a friend... I've been judged unworthy, unpleasant, and having bad character.

A recent ex-girlfriend started throwing plates and knives at me in a stroppy rage, having a tantrum. I thought "here we go again" as I shielded myself from blows, with her screams echoing throughout the building. She stormed out of the flat. I didn't let her back in, it was over. I'm not going to be an abuse victim again.

I lost a whole bunch of friends, when I broke up with that girlfriend. Some of them even said that they didn't agree with the way I mistreated her. Errr, you mean, like, I should have allowed myself to remain a victim of domestic abuse? I was very hurt by the way that people took sides, and what was clearly a corruption of the truth of the reasons why we had broken up. Clearly, my ex had painted a different picture from the one where she was being violently abusive towards me. But, I guess I've gotten used to such bullshit. I cried and cried, but at least it was over relatively quickly.

Maybe there's something just unloveable about me? My parents could look at me and say "it's cool, he doesn't need his schoolfriends or any stability in his childhood". A couple of ex-girlfriends could look at me and say "that face really needs a couple of black eyes and a broken nose". A load of friends could say "well, we've heard one side of the story. I'm sure that's enough, and now our opinion of this guy's character is completely changed and we no longer want anything to do with him".

I was brought up to be a pacifist. I was brought up to turn the other cheek. I was brought up to believe that two wrongs don't make a right. Every time I ever lashed out in retaliation, it was always me who suffered the consequences, so I became passive. I've been everybody's punchbag and convenient dumping ground.

I've cast my mind back as far as I can go, searching for a memory of security, a sense that somebody is loyal, that they'd treat me the same as I'd treat them... clearly, I'm carrying a lot of hurt, a deep sense of loss and abandonment.

Round window

It's a new challenge for me, to improve not move. It's a new challenge, to repair, not throw away and start again. It's a new challenge, to stand my ground and refuse to let my character be defaced by horrible people.

I've got to learn how to defend myself in a more positive way. Just being a passive punching bag, and letting people say what they want about me, and paint me in any light they like, is not good.

My new approach has been to be brutally honest, about every tiny flaw, every little mistake I've ever made. I've tried to fess up to every regrettable action.

People told me I'm a bad person for so long, that I decided to live up to my character. However, I couldn't do it. I couldn't lie, cheat, steal or do anything to hurt anybody. I ended up hurting myself. You would barely believe how much I've beaten myself up, harmed myself and taken myself to the brink of death.

I've paid the price, plus surplus too. I don't give a fuck now, if people want to hold me to account for something I was never to blame for in the first place. If you corner a dog and beat it, and you want to put it down because it bit you, when it was cornered, frightened, beaten and suffering, with nowhere to go except through you... go right ahead.

I've examined my entire history, and I see a caged animal. I see a person who's been trusting, who's taken a chance on people, been brave enough to risk getting hurt. People have taken advantage of my trusting, innocent nature, my kindness and want to feel accepted, included. I've forgiven those who have hurt me, not that it makes the blindest bit of difference to me.

At least I can sleep at night. Those who bully, abuse, slander and take advantage of those who show the slightest weakness, must surely have a conscience. Those monsters must surely feel filled with regret at their abhorrent behaviour. At least I can put my hand on my heart and say that I never set out to hurt anybody or exploit the weak and the needy.

There's so much stuff that I'm dredging up, and I wish it could stop, but stress, pressure and the fragility of my situation, plus the dysfunction and neglect of all my relationships, mean that I'm pretty much trapped alone with my thoughts. I'm trying to write, to expel the toxin of all this hurt, but writing's all I've got. I sit at work, bored, unchallenged, while the thoughts and the feelings pile up like a traffic jam. When I get home, the words just flood out like a raging torrent, and I can't stop. I always write more than I mean to.

I have a friend who's stuck by me, even though he saw the very worst of my character, and was deeply involved through the death throes of my normal life and my long-term relationship. He caught some of the flak, as I thrashed around like an injured beast, blindly lashing out, due to fear and pain. Surprisingly, he is one of my biggest supporters, despite the fact that I brought a great deal of stress into his life, and dragged him though months of hell, as co-founders of a startup.

I have few examples I can hold up, to support my belief that my character is sound, and that I should remain living. Even my own parents have always made it clear that I'm a "bad kid" and that I'm worthless, a disappointment.

I've been digging and digging, to see if there's some evidence in my childhood history of an evil streak. Perhaps I committed a genocide when I was an infant? Perhaps I perpetrated torture on a global scale? Perhaps I murdered my real family, as a psychopathic toddler, before being adopted by an experimental cult where I was reprogrammed to believe I was worthless and to act passively when I'm abused?

Anyway, I'm going to leave it there. When I get into this trance-like state, I can just write and write and write (I know, right?) and before I know it I've written far more than anybody would have the time, patience and indulgence to read.

I'm going to start limiting myself again, to how much I write. It would be good if I can break out of this regression, this state of backwards-looking. It would be good if I can look forwards, and think positively, but there's no external trigger to do so. The world is stunned into silence, or the void is simply too cavernous to even care about the white noise, the hot air that spews forth.

Looking for some nugget of security in my past has yielded nothing. Looking back to see if I can remember some happy, stable, secure time has brought chequered results. Perhaps I might have found some compassion for myself, even if I haven't managed to elicit it in anybody else. Either that, or I just have enough accumulated evidence of mistreatment to assume that the world is nearly entirely hostile to me, and it's time to say goodbye.

Hanging

If I look at the trend, I appear to be spiralling downwards.

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