Skip to main content

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

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

All opinions are my own.

twitter.com/ManicGrant

nick@manicgrant.com

www.facebook.com/manicgrant

 

So Hungry

10 min read

This is a story about rushing...

Pub grub

My life doesn't have a lot of highlights. I'm struggling to get up in the morning. I'm bored at work a lot of the time. I'm trying to eat fewer calories, so I'm skipping breakfast and having a very light lunch. My writing has become a bit of a marathon slog as I attempt to write the final few thousands words to reach my 1-million target. The only thing I've got to look forward to is my evening meal.

Because I try to do my writing before I go to the gastropub to eat, I'm always in a bit of a rush. It's a challenge to write ~2,000 words in between a full day at my desk in the office, and the ideal time to arrive at the pub in order to get a table and eat. I write doubly quickly, because I know that the sooner I've finished my daily blog post, the sooner I can go and choose my meal. With that incentive, I have no difficulty pounding out the words very rapidly on the keyboard, before rushing off to enjoy the highlight of my day - pub grub.

You shouldn't do your supermarket food shopping when you're hungry, because you will strip the shelves of products and buy far more than you could ever hope to eat, before the expiry date of the perishable groceries which you've purchase. My eyes are always far bigger than my belly when I've been hungry for a while. I think that being hungry also affects the speed with which I do everything, and my attention to detail. I'm rushing everything and being sloppy, because I just want to get things done as quickly as possible.

I need to earn money, lose some weight and cut down my drinking, but I expect instant results. My writing target is within spitting distance now, but I'd have never reached this point if I tried to do it too quickly - I've had to pace myself. My finances are improving but I'll never get financial security if I don't keep turning up at the office every day - even though it's torturously boring - for many many more months. I'm really not enjoying my semi-sobriety, but I'm not going to feel the benefit unless I keep it up for a decent length of time.

It's been a month since I started my new job in a new and unfamiliar city. For a whole month I've been living in a hotel midweek and eating in the same pub every night. For a whole month I've been dividing my time between the city where I have my apartment and the city where the office is.

In the last month I've managed to quit the sleeping pills and painkillers I was using to cope with stress and anxiety. In the last month, I've managed to cut down my drinking drastically. In the last month, I've stopped being so antisocial and wasting the whole summer indoors drinking wine. I've earned some more money, which is slowly making a dent in my debts. It's reasonable progress.

I don't feel particularly good.

My working day is a struggle. My living arrangements are a struggle. My life lacks an adequate amount of things to look forward to; moments of joy. I keep losing hope that I'll be able to maintain the stability and keep up the routine, because there are so few moments when I'm happy and content. The struggle to get up in the morning is not just a phase - it's going to be a struggle every morning for months, if not years. The struggle to get through the working day is not just a temporary struggle... it'll be permanent while I remain trapped in a career which I outgrew very quickly when I was young.

There's no obvious reason why I shouldn't be able to keep up the routine. What's so bad about a well-rehearsed sequence of actions which starts with me washing and ironing my clothes for the week ahead, packing my bag, driving to the office, checking into the hotel, eating in the pub, driving home. What's so hard about that? The problem is the lack of all the other 'stuff' which makes a liveable life. Where's my social life? Where are the holidays? Where are the hobbies and interests? Where's any of the 'stuff' which gives my life any meaning?

Work is meaningless because it's the same old crap that I've been doing full-time for 21+ years, which was easy and boring when I was in my late teens, let alone now. Work cannot be the thing which defines me and is all-consuming, because that's unhealthy and I know I'm never going to find fulfilment as a member of a huge team in a gigantic organisation. I feel a lot better about the morality of what I'm doing since I quit investment banking and moved into the public sector, but the waste is pretty sickening. Of course the public sector was never going to be particularly dynamic and fast-paced, but it's not that much slower than most of the big private sector organisations I've worked for. I know that startups are too demanding and too much risk though, and they'll make me sick by using and abusing me.

I need to get to the point where I've served my time and been thoroughly miserable for enough years that I have a substantial sum of money saved up, such that I can dare to dream. Perhaps things will be better when I'm financially secure enough to be able to spend my boring days in the office planning my next holiday. The misery of the unchallenging office job was much more tolerable when I spent my weekends kitesurfing, and I was jetting all over the globe looking for the best kitesurfing locations in all kinds of exotic locations. Perhaps my misery is largely due to the fact that all I do is work work work - I'm on a very tight budget.

There's no rushing my finances, unfortunately. There's no way I could earn money any quicker than I am doing. Money floods in at a fairly obscene rate, but I was very very deep in the hole, so it also costs a lot of money just to stand still. I can't believe how much money I'm earning, but yet it's still taking agonisingly long to get ahead.

Playing the waiting game is awful. I'm clock watching all the time. My alarm clock is the most dreadful intrusion on my day - the worst moment. Sometimes I'm not even tired, but knowing that I have to go and sit at a desk and be bored out of my mind is thoroughly depressing in a way which is soul-destroyingly exhausting. Mid-morning I panic about how slowly the day is dragging. Lunchtime is over in the blink of an eye, especially since I started having a super-light lunch which always leaves me still feeling hungry. The period from 2pm to 3:45pm is the very worst - at 2pm I can't believe how much of the day there still is to go, with nothing to occupy or entertain me. I often think I'm going to have to walk out, because I can't stand it. It doesn't matter how much I'm earning - it's not enough. Finally, it's a respectable time to leave the office - even though I'm frequently late for work - but all I have to look forward to is another long wait until it's a respectable time to eat my dinner. It's 6:23pm right now, which is very early for an adult with no children to eat.

My evenings were also unpleasant, and especially so since I've drastically reduced my alcohol intake. My cravings for booze were pretty incessant and it was hard to read or watch TV when all I could think about was how much I wanted to get a glass of wine. However, I've found some stuff that I'm enjoying watching and I'm starting to find it easier to relax and enjoy my solitary leisure time in my hotel room, without getting drunk.

I had planned to get drunk every single night until I'd regained financial security. Getting drunk was going to be my reward for doing a job I hate in a place where I don't want to be, all alone living in a hotel. I was prepared to put my entire life on hold so I could earn as much cash as possible as quickly as possible, and I'd have virtually unlimited quantities of alcohol to help me white-knuckle my way through to the end. The problem is that my health was being destroyed surprisingly rapidly - I was putting on weight and feeling very unfit and unwell. If I'd kept drinking as much as I was until the end of my contract in just over a year's time, I wouldn't be able to enjoy my hard-won wealth because I'd be fat and quite possibly have some very serious health issues to deal with as a consequence.

Comfort-eating is my only pleasure at the moment, as I'm single, living away from home, trying not to drink, not socialising and generally in a temporary state of suspended animation. I can fulfil the very few demands of my day job with less than 1% of my brain and I'm just waiting for enough paydays to restore my financial security. I've stopped everything except for the few core things which keep the hamster-wheel turning.

It's not particularly as if it's worthwhile making friends and getting a local girlfriend. It's not particularly worth investing in life in a place where I have no intention of staying beyond the maximum I absolutely have to in order to achieve my purely financial objective.

I pound out the words on the keyboard every evening after work, in groundhog day repetitive scenario. I pound out the words because it's a fleeting distraction from the endless waiting. Waiting for the money. Waiting for the end. Wishing my life away.

Some people would imagine that I'm impatient and impulsive, because of my mental health problems and my struggles with addiction. Stimulant abuse is particularly bad for damaging the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for executive decision-making, and importantly the ability to curtail stupid impulses. In fact, I spend my whole day suppressing the nearly-overpowering instinct to get up and walk out; to walk away from the torturous bullshit boring job. In fact, I'm one of the most patient people you know. Why do you think I get paid so much? If my job was pleasant and easy, everybody would be doing it.

I spend all working day in front of the keyboard and screen, then I flip open my laptop lid and spend some more time in front of the same type of keyboard and the same type of screen. The clock is in exactly the same position in the top-right hand corner of the screen, which my eyes instinctively flick up to, constantly aware of the slow passage of time.

Since I wrote what time it was, nearly 20 minutes have elapsed. I'm 20 minutes closer to my meal. I'm 20 minutes closer to the day when I've earned enough money to start to dare to dream. I'm 20 minutes closer to the moment I die, when I can finally enjoy some peace from this torture.

I'm off to the pub. I'm tempted to have a drink.

 

Tags:

 

Crumbs on the Keyboard

6 min read

This is a story about lunch breaks...

Pret a Manger sandwich

I'm struggling to get to work on time. I've suffered periods in the past which have felt like agonising torture, getting up early in the morning to go to the office, but I've also had periods where I managed to adjust my body clock to become more of a morning lark than a night owl. My body clock seems to be driven by my stomach.

I never used to eat breakfast - there simply wasn't enough time, because I was always late for work. However, I've found that breakfast is the best way to tell my body what time it needs to adjust itself to, so I can cope with "normal" office hours. Unfortunately, the breakfast trick hasn't been working for the last couple of weeks.

I spent a whole month drinking wine every night until 1am or 2am, and not getting out of bed until midday, so I guess it should be expected that my body and brain would complain loudly about the rude intrusion of the working day upon my pleasant slumbers.

I also had a very unsettled period where my delicate brain chemistry was sent haywire by a combination of drugs, insomnia, lack of food & drink, drug and sleep-deprivation induced mania, plus a breakup and some other madness, all of which completely destabilised me. I'm quite lucky that I managed to put the brakes on that particular period of instability and resume working without doing serious damage to myself, my finances, my home or my career... I've managed to pick up pretty much where I left off, minus the girlfriend of course.

I feel bad that I turn up late to work and I want to go home early. My working days are mostly excruciatingly boring - I don't have enough to do, to keep me busy and my mind occupied. There's no torture quite like having to get up early to go and sit at a desk, watching the clock until it's finally time to go home, bored out of my mind.

I'm trying to justify the fact that I'm not working as many hours as my colleagues, or being anywhere near as productive, because I'm new and also I only take a short lunch break. If there was work I could do, I would do it, but I always seem to tear through any tasks at breakneck pace and I'm left with nothing to do again. I need a really huge project to completely immerse myself in, but instead my paymasters are quite happy to have me sitting idle - they really don't seem to care that it's an enormous waste of my productive capacity. Of course, nobody knows just how awful it is for me to be bored too; just how terrible it is to feel alone with my thoughts for 7 or 8 hours a day, trapped at my desk with no distractions.

At home, I can read a book, write or watch TV/films. At home, I can distract myself from the constant noise of my brain. At home, I can easily waste time. At work, I'm simply getting paid to be present. At work, all there is to think about is how much I earn every day, every hour, every minute... every second even. Tick... that's 2 pence... tick... that's 2 pence... tick... that's 2 pence... tick... that's 2 pence... tick... another 2 pence...

Yes, if I saw a penny on the floor it wouldn't be worth my time to stop and pick it up. I would quite literally lose money if I watched the pennies. If my job was literally to pick up pennies that were covering every inch of the floor, and put them in my piggy bank, I would be earning less than I am now, assuming that I had to pick each one up individually. My job isn't to watch the pennies. My job is to sit at a desk doing nothing. It pays very handsomely to be bored doing nothing.

Things aren't as bad as they were back in February, when I didn't even have any colleagues to talk to. Things will get better as my colleagues start to get to know and trust me, and they ask me to do more and more stuff; bigger and bigger bits of work, hopefully. I want to be swamped with work, so that I don't have to sit at my desk bored with nothing to do.

My brain's a bit broken and I feel stressed and anxious; on edge. I'm acutely aware that I'm in a lot of discomfort during most of the working day, despite the fact that it seems quite enviable to be highly paid to sit around doing nothing. At the end of every month I submit an invoice, and each invoice makes a considerable dent in my debt. By all "normal" people's standards, I'm rocketing my way from poverty to wealth and the timescale seems like nothing... only a few more months and I'll be getting on top of things. There's got to be something wrong with me, because time is passing so painfully slowly.

That's all I've got to do: sit and do nothing, and everything gets sorted out in my life... at least financially.

I feel very anxious about the fact that I'm not being productive or working the expected number of hours in the office. I'm acutely aware that my colleagues might become resentful of the fact that they're at their desks for longer than I am. I go to bed and wake up with a horrible feeling of dread, knowing that I've got another working day tomorrow - and for months and months more - where I'll be bored, underworked and overpaid. It might sound like a nice problem to have, but I promise you that you'd have walked away already if you experienced what I'm going through.

What can I tell you? Maybe I'm a spoilt brat. I really don't think I am - I'm a mercenary who's figured out how to make a lot of money very quickly, but my task is not one that sits comfortably with my soul, although at least the work is not as immoral as it was when I was working for the investment banks.

I skip breakfast, eat my sandwich at my desk, and try to stay at the office for as long as I can possibly can, before the boredom becomes unbearable and I have to escape to somewhere where I can distract myself for a short while, until it's time to do it all over again, and again, and again... ad nauseam.

 

Tags:

 

Home Sweet

4 min read

This is a story about boredom...

Hotel room

As if living alone in a city where I only have 2 friends [who are completely unconnected with my work] wasn't boring enough, I at least had to stumble to the local corner shop to buy the various unhealthy snacks and bottles of wine, which were the main constituents of my diet for the last month. Now, I'm in a very bland hotel room and I imagine that boredom is going to drive me to drink... not that I take much persuasion.

Aspects of normal domestic life, such as cooking, cleaning, doing the washing up, taking the bins out, laundry, watering the plants and other things that would occupy a little of my time midweek, are now going to have to be done at the weekend. Perhaps you're envious of me, having my 3 meals a day cooked for me, and having my bedroom and bathroom cleaned and tidied by somebody else every day. I'd have my shirts ironed by somebody else too, but at £3.90 each it seems a little profligate.

As I write, the air conditioning unit squeals and whirrs to my left, while the traffic noise of the nearby motorway is clearly audible to my right. Whenever you change your sleeping arrangements, it always takes a while to get used to the new noises, bed, pillows, bedding: an unsettling change from the familiarity of home, no matter how much of a seasoned traveller you are.

I'm in the land of the industrial estate; the science park; the new enterprise development area - basically loads of offices and warehouses. I'm in the stomping ground of the sales rep, with the car park full of shiny new company cars and the hotel rooms full of men and women who travel all over the country for a living. There are no shops round here. There is no local life - I decided to book a hotel that was as close as possible to the office, until I've gotten to know the city a little bit better.

There's a pub next door to the hotel, which is presumably where I'm going to eat tonight. There's also a bar in the hotel. It's all a little too tempting to camp out with a book while tipping pint after pint of beer into my greedy face.

Back in the hotel room there's a TV and of course I can watch Netflix etc. I guess it's a comfortable enough existence, but it's going to get pretty boring and monotonous. Also, it's not like I'm going to be socialising and making local friends: everybody here is transient like me; just passing through.

I'm killing time even writing this. Of course I want to go to the pub and look at the menu; choose my food. Of course, I don't really need an excuse to start getting drunk... it'll occupy the time.

I do have a friend in the city who I've known for a long time, but he's always busy doing fit and active things: at the climbing wall or the canoeing centre. His life is filled with purpose, energy and enthusiasm, where all mine seemed to just seep away over the past few years. I used to be obsessed with extreme sports and I was a total adrenalin junkie, but now I seem to be just a sad, lonely, functional alcoholic.

It feels horribly wasteful to spend the best part of the next year simply treading water; concentrating on earning money and otherwise parking my life; being drunk all the time to minimise the amount of time I'm fully conscious. If life had a fast-forward button, I'd gladly press it down and hold it for at least 6 months; I'm wishing my life away.

There's an idiom that springs to mind:

The sun is over the yardarm

I'm trying to figure out what's a respectable time for me to abandon this bland hotel room and go to the pub and get drunk, armed with the excuse that I need to have my evening meal.

The boredom of my life seems to have asserted itself in my writing. I'm ashamed at how boring this blog post is, but I'm going to publish it anyway. I promise I'll write something more interesting tomorrow.

 

Tags: