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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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Vitamin D

4 min read

This is a story about agoraphobia...

London Balcony

This is how I used to get fresh air and sun-kissed skin a year ago. You might say that central London has terrible air quality, but the city where I now live has worse air quality.

My apartment in London cost me more than three times as much as my current apartment, but there were hundreds more opportunities for work, if not thousands more - all accessible by public transport.

I had to get my car roadworthy today. It looks like I'm going to be joining the commuting masses, all clogging up Britain's roads. After dropping my car at the garage, I opened the Uber app on my smartphone. There are no Uber drivers in the whole city. I rang the city's biggest cab firm and they said I'd have to wait 90 minutes or more. I walked home from the garage in the sunshine. I did need the fresh air, the vitamin D and the exercise, but remember... I now live in a city that's more polluted than London.

I think I'm taking a wrong turn. I think I should be going back to London, because I can guarantee a steady stream of work there within the space of a few square miles: The City of London - the Square Mile - and Canary Wharf are the gifts that keep on giving. Sure, London is overcrowded and overpriced, but at least it's somewhere I know and I have friends. I'm going to end up in places I've never visited before, temporarily, and feeling very unsettled. I think it's a mistake.

I didn't mind isolating myself in that apartment in London so much, because I could sit on the balcony and soak up the sun. I could sit on the sofa and watch the boats go past. I could open those big patio doors and have a lovely breeze blowing through my whole home. It blows my mind that I felt more connected to nature in the middle of a city with 10 million inhabitants, than I do in this small seaside place with lush green valleys and hills no more than a 20 minute car ride away.

I probably need a bit of both. I might as well be in London if I'm working full-time. But I need somewhere to call home - I need a base, and that base should be somewhere cheap. It's a lot of pressure to keep working all the time when you need to find £500/week just to pay the rent... plus you've got all the bills on top of that.

It was a mistake to put myself into the situation where I had sole responsibility for paying all that rent, and no way to get out of the contract when I was too sick to work. If I went back to London, I'd have my company rent a place on a month-by-month basis, so I could leave whenever I stopped working.

I don't know what's keeping me indoors. There's some kind of force-field. I haven't reached the point where I feel I can relax, take my foot off the gas pedal and just coast a bit. I should be enjoying the summer, but I'm not; I'm really not at all. My summer has been ruined.

I think I need to plan to go away when the days are getting shorter, it's getting cold, wet and miserable, and the clocks go back. I need to get an autumn/winter sun boost. That's the next thing I can start to pin my hopes on.

If I can get through the next 3 or 4 months relatively uneventfully, keeping the cash rolling in, maybe I'll be in a position to sit in the sunshine and actually relax and enjoy myself. At the moment, I don't feel like I deserve to enjoy the summer... there's still so much work to do; there's still so much stress ahead, and uncertainty.

 

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Back in the Land of the Living

8 min read

This is a story about a worrying disappearance...

Pot noodles

My flat's a bit of a nightmare really. The landlord slides the garage door up and down all day long, and seems to be endlessly sawing up bits of wood, then he stomps up and down the stairs, slamming the door - all of this is within a few feet of me in my lounge. At the back of the house, the bedroom is basically a viewing gallery for perverts - the blinds are about as much use as opera glasses.

I don't want to disturb anybody, but I don't want to be disturbed either - catch 22.

Ventilating the front of the apartment is OK, but to keep the temperature down the best thing to do is keep the curtains closed at the moment. Ventilating the back is impossible, save for setting up a load of seats for prime viewing position into the only one of 2 rooms which most people want privacy in: bedroom & bathroom.

The heat is a real problem, but so is the as-yet undealt with problem of getting some air circulating.

At the moment I'm sleeping on the sofa and spending the days on the sofa with the curtains drawn, which somehow feels like I'm doing something I shouldn't be. It also seems to announce to the world that I'm at home, but perhaps sleeping during the day... I feel I should 'act normal'.

It's driven me a bit crazy to be honest, feeling like I can't be in my bedroom during the day (or at night with privacy) and like I can't have the lounge curtains drawn during the day, or sleep on the sofa at night... it's all behaviour that would raise eyebrows; provoke speculation.

The gap in my writing has been valid cause for concern. I feel so hyper-sensitised to all the noises around me, and I've been struggling not to attach my own negative interpretation of what I hear: "oh it's terrible" I hear somebody say, and "what are we going to do?" and I presume it's something to do with me. If I hear a stamp on the floor from the neighbour above, I presume my attempts to be as quiet as mouse have failed, and I'm annoying them.

The bathroom, with its lack of windows, and equidistance from ever-present landlord and neighbour who I can hear above, has become my place of refuge. It has a door with a lock - nobody can just barge in unannounced. Also, unlimited cold water.

One thing that's very difficult to do though is to sleep on the cold floor tiles of a bathroom, in the pitch black, with only a towel as both blanket and something to lie on. It's disorienting - a sink appears out of nowhere; you reach for the door handle, but realise you're 90 degrees out of alignment; the shape of the floor space doesn't seem well thought out for a person lying on those cold tiles for many hours.

There are 3 legitimate entrances into my apartment, and I sometimes just want to feel like I know what's coming a little bit in advance. Last night, somebody was walking on my windowsills for f'cks sake, which is unnerving, but not as unnerving as having 3 doors that your ever-present landlord might decide to walk through at some unpredictable moment.

Anyway, I had something to eat, and I've not been too bad with the dehydration thing, having now found that the best thing to do is take a cooling shower. I do need to air out the revolting sweatiness though.

How I get back to any semblance of normality seems an impossible task at the moment, but I suppose with time and patience I'll get things sorted. I'd cleared half my TODO list, but now it's bigger than when I started, and I worry about the logistics of the things I can't do myself. Even the logistics of the things I can do myself are complex, given that my whole life is on public display, barring the bathroom.

I'm sorry for severing all contact, but I can't wrap my head around what next and when. There's home life to sort, I need to be rested and ready for my next opportunity and then there's the exhaustion of dealing with all the phone-calls and emails; interviews; requests for documents, forms to be filled in, new office, new team... blah blah blah. I don't even know whether to go for something reasonably close to home, but there's no way I want to be commuting 1hr+ every day. No point thinking about it while things have rather been in crisis at home, and there's enough to be done sorting myself and my apartment.

It'll be just my luck... after all the days and days of waiting for the worst to happen, the sky will fall in and my world will implode just as I've started to take care of myself a bit more. I've stopped letting my days be dominated by either trying to hold my breath and tiptoe around, or move to whichever part of my home feels most secure; least surprises; least peeping Toms. It'll be just my luck that now I'm no longer living with the anticipation of the most awfully intrusive home invasion, today or tomorrow - before I've had time to sort things - the dreaded event(s) will happen.

What a waste of a summer. What a waste of an opportunity to keep moving forwards without losing too much momentum. That's the fragility I've been talking about for so long; that's the bomb going off, after I've been talking about it ticking for a long time. Did I precipitate all this? Is it all my own fault? Try to remember that rebuilding an entire life from the ground up is hard, and without the usual safety nets of local social network and family - let alone simple familiarity with the area - meant that removing a couple of key building blocks brought the whole Jenga tower crashing down, although - in theory - there exist superhuman people who can endlessly move house, move area, make new friends, get new jobs, get a partner, get a hobby, stay fit & healthy and turn up and work their full-time job, week after week, month after month... relentless.

This isn't much of a holiday; in fact quite the opposite, but there we go... I'm still present, at least bodily. I'm not sure I want to live if the next bit of shitty luck - the thing I've been dreading - rips out another one or two of those Jenga blocks.

Wish me luck, that I have an unmolested couple of days and I can start to get on top of things; that the sky doesn't cave in now of all the bloody times it could've done it.

Interestingly, when that sharp knife's been at my throat  - at least 3 or 4 times - ready to be plunged into my jugular vein and carotid arteries the moment my sanctuary was breached, things went quiet and I thought clearly... the madness and the terror ended, and the immediate threat of a life-destroying event disappeared. I took a cooling shower, put on some clean clothes and started to look after myself. It's as though things have to get to that point: if you're not prepared to die, you're gonna have unimaginably awful events happen. It's the Schrödinger paradox, except I'm the cat - in all the universes where the the worst happened, I killed myself.

I'm not optimistic or positive. In fact, I'm anticipating that things are going to be very very very hard for what will feel like an eternity, but for those who've been worrying about me committing suicide, it's perhaps been well over 24 hours since that blade was lined up in position, and I don't feel suicidal now that I'm not quite as trapped and cornered as I was... famous last words. In short: I'm safe at the moment.

I wish I was writing regularly. I wish my writing quality hadn't gone to s**t because of mania, sleep deprivation and general malnourishment. I wish... I wish... I wish. But, there was an inevitability: cut enough of those slender threads and I'll fall further than most would; further than you'd expect, because you take for granted the social fabric you're woven into... it's almost tempting to abandon the attempt to return to wealthy middle-class life, because at least when I was homeless I was part of a community. How ironic, to immediately want to go back to those homeless days when a couple of bits of my 'respectable life' were lost.

I'll try and write again, and write less. Little and often.

Anyway, still here.

 

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Drop Out

6 min read

This is a story about life falling apart...

Pile of stuff

I've started to put my life back in good order, but I still have to get well enough to go back into the office sometime soon. I look like a tramp at the moment. A very tired tramp.

My bedroom carpet has been deep cleaned. The walls really need a wipe down and there's a bit of decorating touching-up to do. Considering I barricaded myself in there for days in very unsanitary conditions, it's not too bad. I need to buy a new bed, but I hated the old creaky one anyway. It's alright, but has a very ugly repair to one of the bars, which I decided I needed for my barricade, so I bent it in half until it broke.

As you can see, my temporary window coverings have been taken down. The low-tack masking tape I used hasn't left any marks or pulled off any paint. However, in the very worst case scenario, I could replace the underlay and carpet, replaster and repaint all the walls, and re-do all the caulking, which'd cost me about £1,000, plus the cost of replacing the bed. Frankly, if I stay for a couple of years and do a bit of touching up with roughly colour matched paint, nobody'll really notice - there's a huge patch where the paint is a whole shade darker, because I moved the wardrobe out of my bedroom and into my dressing room.

As for me, I'm exhausted. I had to get up and tidy my bedroom before the carpet cleaner arrived at 10am. I slept on the sofa. I probably didn't fall asleep until about 3am, even though I had sleeping pills and tranquillisers.

I have a mountain of towels and bedding to wash. The bathroom needs a good clean.

I need to re-stack up all that crap that's on my bed behind my second, superfluous, bedroom door. Perhaps I could get things a bit more organised while I'm at it, but I'm too tired.

During all this craziness, there's been a Royal wedding and apparently there's a big local music thing that all the locals are going on about, like it's not just some random concert. So many people have told me that "the place will be gridlock". London can put on a marathon all round the centre of a city of 10 million people. I think the Billy Ray Cyrus cover act playing "Achy Breaky Heart" headlining Wales' "Big Weekend" isn't going to cause too much of a problem for a city which is about 1-2% as big as London.

So, I've dropped out at the moment. I'm not going to the office. I'm not seeing anybody. I'm not leaving the house. I'm not leaving my apartment. Sometimes, I'm not even leaving the same room for days.

Problem is, in London you can pretty much shove your thumb up the Queen's arse and get away with a slapped wrist, but here it's a proper community and people stick together. You can't misbehave without getting in serious trouble. People gossip. Messages and emails get forwarded again and again and again. Faces get remembered. You bump into people you know.

If all else fails, try Wales, but I still need to be careful not to shit on my own doorstep cos what I got away with in London FOR YEARS just will not fly round here. I wanted a clean break, a fresh start, but I've already fallen out with a GP who was partially responsible for a young man's suicide, and a girlfriend who seemed to think the worst of me, despite evidence to the contrary. I've been accused of writing stuff on my blog about people and their families and generally sharing private stuff. Bullshit.

I need to act a bit differently now I live in this tiny city, so that I don't fall out with any more friends and break up with any more girlfriends, but you know EXACTLY who I am and EXACTLY what I think, without naming names or sharing private things... of my friends. If you're not my friend, you're fair game, except I'm not nasty and vindictive.

I'm feeling a bit sad that I've only got 2 non-work friends in the city, and that a great opportunity to socialise is currently a bit difficult because I don't want people from work seeing me when I'm looking so unhealthy.

I went on a site to find drinking buddies, and meetup.com. Jesus, that's depressing. My ex-girlfriend was always worried that I was "downdating" because the pool of available hotties in this tiny town is nothing like London, where Tinder brings an endless stream of stunning intelligent and cultured women.

If the work dries up here and I fail to find a social group I like, I think I could end up going back to London, now that I have the money to do it in style. Being able to drive to work is brilliant, but I'm so worried that I'm not going to find friends and a girlfriend who have similar values, goals and ambitions.

You know what I really miss? My cat and my girlfriend's cats.

It's amazing how quickly I went from viewing a yacht, drinking in the sun at a food festival, having a picnic in the sunshine, and finally getting a bit of a tan... to losing my girlfriend, risking my job, wrecking my bedroom, losing my mind.

I think I just want to drop out completely. I'll empty my bank accounts to pay back my guardian angel, and the taxman and the banks can go fuck themselves. I'll leave the country and go live and work somewhere you don't have some god-awful experience every time you just want to get a bit of money or a place to live, somewhere laid back. It's stressing me out too much, the pressure of staying in the rat race and keeping squeaky clean - one black mark and you're f**ked.

My ex-flatmate who owes me about £6,000 in unpaid rent and bills, also owes thousands to basically anybody who would give him any kind of credit agreement. The red bills - final demands - and debt collectors started appearing soon after I threw him out (I gave him SO MANY chances, but he kept lying and the debt kept getting bigger). Now, if his Instagram is to be believed, he's living the high life, so maybe there's a lot to be said for being a thoroughly disreputable and immoral piece of shit.

Personally, I've contributed the best part of a million quid to the economy, and I've worked my arse off to never default on a debt and always honour my commitments. Maybe that's where I'm going wrong. I need to just be a flakey drop-out. I think it'd be more fun. It'd certainly be a lot less stressful.

 

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My Life in Pictures (Part Three)

7 min read

This is a story about thirteen doors...

Bedroom

I just woke up. There are my shitty blinds. It's the blind on the right that has the massive gaping hole for people to peek through. You'd have to be able to get into my back garden to peek at me, and go round to the area where the patio table is, and press your nose up against the glass, but you would wouldn't you? It's interesting seeing inside somebody's private world.

Broken blind

There's the little peep hole. I know it doesn't look like much, but believe me it's enough to make me feel a little paranoid. Obviously when I'm unwell my small amount of paranoia can become a large amount of paranoia. That innocent looking small gap is equivalent to being stripped naked in front of a packed theatre full of gawping onlookers, when I'm not very well.

Hello world

There I am waving, stood in my bedroom next to my bed. My apartment has a really weird layout. I'll show it to you. Let's try to walk down the corridor to get out of my bedroom. Come on! It'll be fun!

Blocked door

Oh dear, we're not going to be able to get out that way, are we? The door's all blocked up with stuff I've piled up. What the hell? How are we going to get out?

Long corridor

Oh hello again! As you can see there's a second door that leads out of my bedroom. This door leads through my walk-in wardrobe type thingy, and through to the rest of my apartment. I've stacked all those boxes up behind the other door because that other corridor is completely useless, so I use it for storage.

Bedroom door

That's my bedroom door.

Wardrobe door

That's the door to my kinda-walk-in wardrobe. Similar to my bedroom door, isn't it?

Blocked door

That's the other side of the first door I showed you - the one with all the stuf stacked up behind it. Don't open it!

Bathroom door

That's the bathroom door. I'm not going to show you the bathroom. If you've seen one bathroom you've seen them all. Doors however come in all shapes and sizes and I'm sure you're fascinated by this parade of plain white doors that I'm showing you.

Back door

That's my back door which leads into my back garden/patio. I don't go out there much. You could go out there and go and peek at me through the gap in my blinds.

More doors

There's my toilet door and the door that leads into the main hallway, where the front door is. How many doors is that so far? I count 7. I'm going to show you 13 doors and I'm sure you're riveted. We're not even halfway through and I bet you can't wait to see the next 8 doors!

Front door

There's the front door. Let's not go out there because somebody will see me taking photos of doors and think that I'm a weirdo. Spoiler: I'm a weirdo.

Basement door

What the HELL is THAT goddam door? Let's have a look shall we?

Garage door

Oh it's a door to the garage. There's the garage door. I'm glad we're seeing this door because I was getting a bit bored of all those plain white doors. We're well over halfway through and here's a bit of welcome variety to keep us enthused about this journey through my life, told via the medium of door photographs. Let's go back into my apartment!

Kitchen door

That's the door into my kitchen. I mostly leave it open. I should shut it when I'm cooking, but I mostly keep it open. I like the smell of fried onions when I wake up in the morning.

Dividing doors

These doors divide my kitchen/diner from my living room. Perhaps I shouldn't have counted these doors, but I think they're doors like any other and should be included in the full total number of doors in my home. As you can see, you're getting a sneak preview of my living room thanks to the glass panels in the doors.

Kitchen

There's my kitchen/diner. As you can see by the unwashed dishes and letters piled up on the dining table, I live like a total slob. Also, you might be getting the impression that my apartment is rather spacious for little old me, living all on my own. It seems a bit wasteful to have so much space for myself, but I did used to live in a bush in a park, so I think I deserve it, as much as anybody deserves anything, of course.

Snack attack

There's the sofa where I can usually be found reclining. As you can see, I haven't put any effort into tidying up and there's plenty more evidence of my slobby lifestyle - the floor is strewn with discarded crisp packets, cheeses string packets, Pepperarmi sausage packets and mini chicken bite packets, which are within grabbing distance of my preferred relaxation spot: lying watching the TV or tapping away on my laptop.

Castor oil plant

I'm not allowed to have pets but I'd have a cat if I could. Instead of a cat I have house plants. This one is a castor oil plant. I like the castor oil plant the best, because the seeds have ricin in them, which is an incredibly potent poison.

Pot plant

This is my least favourite plant. I don't even know what type it is. It's not really thriving. It's not very interesting.

Umbrella plant

This is my umbrella plant. I like this one, but I really want a cheese plant. A cheese plant is probably going to be my next major household purchase.

London sunset canvas

Here's the last photo I took from the balcony of my apartment in London, before I had to leave and go to Manchester because I'd run out of money. That apartment was lovely. The one in London I mean, not the one in Manchester where I tried to kill myself. You can see what my life in London was like in my previous blog post: My Life in Photos (pt2)

Lounge door

Oh no! I had quite forgotten why you're here: to see 13 doors. I nearly forgot to show you the last door in my little photo exposé. Your life would have been quite incomplete if I hadn't shown you the final door in my home. This one leads directly from my lounge and into the entrance hallway, where you can exit the front door and beat a swift retreat. Are you going now? Really? So soon?

View from the sofa

Good I'm glad those visitors have gone. I can lie down on the sofa in my usual spot. I might watch something on the idiot box. I've got a great position here, lying down watching crappy TV shows. I'd love to just spend all day every day lying right here.

Bye bye

Thanks for visiting! Bye! I'm not going to get up. You can show yourselves out. You know the way now. You've had the full tour, now piss off. I'm just going to lie here on the sofa and treat myself to a nice little rest after the exhaustion of giving you a tour of my life, told through 13 photos of 13 doors.

If you're still hungry for more, you can see what my life was like at a couple of other points in time in the last year, although there are no more pictures of any doors, I'm sure you'll be disappointed to learn. Check out:

Please, when you're reading my old stuff bear in mind that I was very unwell when I posted that stuff. I preserve it for posterity, as I am wont to do.

I hope you enjoyed peeking through my blinds.

 

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Nothing to Complain About

4 min read

This is a story about seeing things through a blue filter...

River thames

Three years ago I rented a lovely apartment by the River Thames. It was very stressful going through the process of getting off the streets, out of the hostel and into a place of my own, but I did it. Soon after moving in, I realised that the whole ordeal had taken me to the brink of a nervous breakdown. I had myself admitted to hospital - a psych ward - because I was afraid that I was going to commit suicide. The London apartment completely over-stretched me financially, necessitating a big money contract to pay the rent, although as a proportion of my income it was very affordable.

I'm attempting to rent somewhere new. The cost is only a fraction of what my rent was in London, but I'm earning the same amount of money as I was in London. The cost of living is so much less in Wales. I've managed to earn enough money to pay lots of rent up-front if I really needed to, so I'm in a much stronger position than I was in London. It's still stressful though.

What am I going to do if everything goes to plan? I'll have nothing to complain about.

Perhaps I seem like a broken record, complaining about my lot in life when I'm very lucky, fortunate and blessed. It must seem to you like I lead a charmed existence. It must seem to you like everything goes my way and I get everything I want. It must seem to you like I worry and complain about nothing.

I complained about my cashflow; my finances. I complained about living out of a suitcase. I complained about being bored, isolated and lonely; not working with a team of people. I complained about having to go through a security clearance vetting process. Now I'm complaining about the tenancy application process. It seems like I just love complaining.

I don't love complaining. I need the things that you take for granted: friends, a partner, money, a job, a car, a home. I complain when I'm missing something essential from my life. I complain when something's not right and it's unbearable; intolerable. It's true that I had a job and I complained about it... that's because I didn't have any work to do or anybody to talk to, which was horrible. I don't complain without good reason.

For three consecutive years it appears like I managed to get everything I ever wanted and needed, but then I screwed it all up and threw it all away. Only a year ago I apparently had it all, only to then self-sabotage. Maybe I don't really want to sort my life out?

The amount of time and effort involved in repairing my life is quite staggering. It's not easy to come back from the brink of irreparable disaster. It's not easy to come back from the dead. The kind of self-resurrection process that I've made appear quite easy and routine is not easy at all. The kinds of 'everyday' stress and anxiety that you think that you face in life - such as starting a new job or moving house - are actually incredibly rare occurrences that cause you a great deal of distress. Imagine having all the most stressful experiences in your life condensed into a time period of approximately a month - that would surely be too much stress to handle, wouldn't it?

Yes I'm a broken record and I'll probably keep repeating myself until I have a signed tenancy agreement and a bunch of apartment keys in my hand, or my [current] worst fear is realised and I'm marginalised; destined to remain homeless.

Yes, other people experience stressful events in their lives too. Good for them. I'm not looking for reasons to be negative. I don't think that I'm not going through the same kind of job-hunting and apartment-renting processes that other people have experienced in their lives. It's just that things are a little more life-or-death for me because I've been through hell to get where I've got and I'm exhausted; I'm at the limit of the shit that I can take.

Sorry for repeating myself.

 

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