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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


I Hate to Worry You, but You Should Worry

8 min read

This is a story about warning signs...

Night vision

One of the reasons why I write every day - and publish publicly - is because it's a healthy habit: I do it when I'm well, or at least not dreadfully unwell. One of the reasons I publish every day is because it gives a lot of clues about my state of mind, and therefore informs the reader about the risks to my life.

For example, I published every single day - without fail - while I was working in London, because I was on the brink of suicide nearly every day. More often than not, if I stop blogging, I'm either dead or dying. If you look at the previous blog posts leading up to the days I stopped blogging, then you'll see plain as day all the warning signs.

The problem is, people get used to hearing a struggling person casually saying "I wish I was dead" and they think it's part of their personality; they think that they're "crying wolf". Trouble is, many of those people will eventually kill themselves, or at least attempt to. There's a lot of bullshit about "attention seeking" and not having to worry about the ones who are talking about it: "it's the quiet ones you've got to worry about". Bullshit bullshit bullshit. There's a lot of bullshit - especially in the medical community - which equates to "I don't think you're really going to do it. Go on! Do it! Prove it! I call your bluff!".

The net result is dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. A man kills himself every 2 hours in the UK. When you visit a doctor and the number one thing that's going to kill you is suicide, and the doctor has the opinion that you're "probably not" going to kill yourself, they're arrogantly gambling with your life.

I get it. It's boring hearing about how awful people's lives are. I get it... it gets REALLY BORING waiting for a suicidal person to finally do it. DO IT ALREADY. I'M BORED OF WAITING. I'VE HEARD YOU SAY YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF SO OFTEN, SO I WANT YOU TO DIE SO I DON'T HAVE TO HEAR IT ANYMORE.

Thus, we arrive at the world's longest suicide note. 900,000 words and counting.

Nobody can say "I didn't know" or "we'd have done something if we knew" or "we don't understand".

I've documented in exquisite and unflinching detail, every single aspect of what makes me suicidal.

The photo above is taken using the night-vision mode of my smartphone. The photo is taken through the crack at the bottom of my door. You can see my bike in the hallway, but other than that the image is pretty hard to discern. This is a snapshot of psychosis - I was using the night-vision mode on my smartphone to 'peek' outside my bedroom and look into the rest of my empty apartment, but the psychosis was telling my that my apartment wasn't empty. I was looking for intruders: the shadow people.

My mental illness started as common-or-garden variety depression, meaning that I was planning to kill myself by sellotaping a bag full of pure nitrogen over my head, and asphyxiating. I bought the canisters of nitrogen gas. I bought the duct tape. I found an airtight bag big enough to envelope my head, and leave enough space so I could breathe in the nitrogen. Nitrogen is not a poisonous gas, but it's inert... if you breathe pure nitrogen, you're not breathing any oxygen, and you'll quickly pass out and die.

I bought potassium cyanide. I even put a picture of the potassium cyanide that I'd bought on Facebook and told people what it was and what I planned to do with it. The most notable reply I got was from a 'friend' who was angry that I had it in my house when he brought his kid over to visit... which I did not. It was triple sealed in airtight vacuum packaging, then placed in a hazardous chemical containment jar, then finally it was placed in a locked steel strongbox in my summerhouse - nearly 100m away from the house. His kid must be pretty special to be able to pick two locks, locate the container and open the packaging in order to ingest the deadly chemical. That was the most notable reply. THAT WAS THE MOST NOTABLE REPLY - anger that somebody's child might have died if they had the ability to time-travel and pick locks.

So... nobody gives much of a fuck.

I was immediately discharged as soon as I came out of my coma and my kidneys started working again, following my attempted suicide in Manchester, when I'd ingested enough tramadol to kill an elephant. They didn't transfer me to a psych ward. They didn't put me in a crisis house. They didn't do anything - they just discharged me, whereupon I had to go back to the apartment where I'd tried to kill myself, with its door hanging off its hinges because the emergency services had to kick it down to save me. The first thing I said to the ITU doctor when I came round was "I'm upset that I'm alive. I wanted to die. I told you not to treat me; not resuscitate me. I still want to die". What the actual fuck? Do the capitalists want to exploit me so badly that they'll keep me alive against my will?

There's an 'unsound mind' argument, but my mind is free from drink, drugs, medication and other mind-altering substances. My brain is working the way nature intended through millions of years of evolution. MY BRAIN IS FUCKING WORKING. If I'm depressed, it's because of depressing bullshit jobs, war, famine, climate change, inequality, brutality, bullying, people who don't give a fuck whether you live or die, and people who want you to stay alive so they can exploit you until the day you die of old age and exhaustion. My mind is perfectly sound. I'm having a sane reaction to an insane world.

If I'm not blogging, you should worry.

If I stop blogging, worry.

In a perfect world, I'd tell this fucked up world to fuck off and I'd become an artist. I'd quit my god-awful boring unchallenging piss-easy pointless bullshit job, and I'd go do something creative. I'd be a 'bum'. I'd be a 'loser'. I'd reject 'civilised' society and go have some damn fun. 21+ years in the rat-race full time, and 13+ years in full-time 'education' which was just bullying and absolute bullshit box-ticking for the sake of school league tables. I don't give two fucks about pieces of paper to wave around - they prove nothing - and I don't give two fucks about inflated job titles for work that is ABSOLUTELY USELESS. Take a long hard look at yourself - you're all talk and no action; you produce nothing; your job is completely and utterly useless; you're very busy doing NOTHING.

However I kill myself - quickly by jumping off a tall building, or slowly with drugs and alcohol - it's the same end result. We all die in the end anyway, so I really don't see the point in prolonging the suffering. Cut to the chase. Jump to the end. Skip the awful bit, with the commuting and the BORING BORING BORING bullshit made-up pointless jobs.

Yes, at one point I had lots of lovely holidays and lots of friends, plus lots of material trimmings like sports cars, yachts, speedboats, hot tubs, summer houses, a house, a garden, a cat... then I said to myself "but I'm still depressed that my job is utter bullshit which doesn't do anything of any use for anybody". So I became an electrician. I can proudly say that lots and lots of families have lights, and power sockets, and electric ovens, and electric hobs, and electric showers, and power to their hot tubs, and power to their sheds and outbuildings, and power to their electric gates and power to a million and one other things. Work that I did is responsible for improving the lives of all the tons and tons of families for whom I installed the electrics in their homes. Trouble is 1) people begrudge paying tradesmen, expecting them to work for minimum wage, 2) the work destroys your health, because there's so much brick dust, asbestos etc, and 3) the responsibility for doing a safe installation to safeguard the lives of everybody who will ever be in those houses, is not reflected in the wage or the health damage aspect.

Pushing paper around my desk and pretending to look busy carries zero risk that a mistake of mine might kill somebody, but yet I get paid 5 or 6 times more money... but I'm intolerably bored.

I might as well be an artist. At least with the creative arts, you're paid fuck all but it's lots of fun, intellectually stimulating, free from responsibility, and nobody gets electrocuted to death if you make a tiny mistake... in fact, can you even make a mistake as an artist?

This blog is an artwork; it's a piece of evolving art - it's durational to use the wanky arty term.

But, when the art stops my heart stops.

If I stop blogging, you should worry about me.




Suddenly Summer

4 min read

This is a story about the pleasant months of the year...

The park

I was psychologically prepared for a miserable winter. I was psychologically prepared for seasonal affective disorder to lay me low after the clocks went back and the days were short, dark and full of drizzly cold awful weather. I was psychologically prepared to knuckle down and work hard during the unpleasant British winter. I achieved a lot, especially considering how suicidal depression, intolerable anxiety and unbearable stress were constantly with me as I attempted to avoid bankruptcy and tried to get myself back on my feet.

Yesterday I was at the marina looking at a yacht I'm going to be sailing soon. Today I took a walk along the seafront and had a picnic in the park.

Theoretically, I have a source of income that lasts until the end of July.

I have a holiday planned in June.

My life is awesome.

Well... my life looks awesome to an outsider. There's nothing too much to complain about except for my crippling debts, the uncertainty about the future, I'm bored and unchallenged at work, I'm still struggling with depression - desperate to feel hopeful about the future, but knowing that things have been quite unsustainable. I've been getting up too early - because my work colleagues are all early birds - and I've been finishing my work too quickly. I hate being bored, but I hate pacing myself too - I'm not capable of deliberately going slow.

I knew winter was going to be hard, but I imagined summer was going to be easy. Perhaps I mismanaged my own expectations. Perhaps I didn't psychologically prepare myself for the whole long slog to freedom. I'm 6 to 9 months away from getting my life sorted out, and that assumes that nothing goes wrong. I could lose my source of income at the end of July. I could lose my source of income sooner - I have no idea what I'm going to be doing after the end of the month.

I shouldn't complain, of course.

I shouldn't complain.

My life is awesome.

So I keep telling myself.

It certainly makes a difference, the pleasant weather. I'm more motivated to leave the house and enjoy the nice things in the local area where I live. I'm planning on going sailing. I'm planning a holiday.

However, uncertainty looms large. My income is insecure. My mental health is quite dubious - I'm struggling to get to the office and get through the days. My job is a lot better than the last one I did in London but I can't cope with being bored and having nothing to do: I've got to be busy busy busy.

It seems churlish to complain. I'm not really complaining - it's a statement of fact. Summer is here but life's harder than I expected... things are still a struggle, although I guess things are a lot less of a struggle. The problem is that I've struggled for so long and I really need a break to recharge my batteries, so that I can carry on without having a nervous breakdown. I haven't had a proper holiday in 21 consecutive months.

The warning signs are there - I had to take a couple of days off sick last week. I'm having an extra-long weekend, because I'm spent; I'm exhausted. It's taken so much to get to this point and there's so much potential for me to really make some good progress now, and start to get my life sorted out, but it's been a ridiculous journey during the course of the last year. The last year has been hell.

Yes, some really nice great stuff is starting to happen. Yes, my life is really improving loads. Yes, I'm really knackered from all the effort I've put into getting myself to this point. Yes, I'm exhausted and I'm struggling to carry on at the same pace; to work as hard as I worked to get me to this point.

This is a bit of a churlish whinge-fest, but I wanted to write about my divided feelings: so happy that summer weather has finally arrived, but also really worried about how much hard work still lies ahead.

I just feel like I should be further ahead than I am, given the suffering and effort involved, but I guess a lot of people feel like that. At least I'm getting somewhere I suppose... I do feel sorry for people who get nowhere, no matter how hard they try.




Self Defamation

6 min read

This is a story about making yourself look like an idiot...


I started this blog as a suicide survivor who was interested in suicide prevention. I started this blog because my head was buzzing with ideas for how technology could be used to help people at risk of suicide. I started this blog because trying to explain to colleagues, friends and family what was going on with me had nearly killed me - it was an unwinnable battle, because nearly everybody makes the same incorrect presumptions and carries near-identical prejudices.

Only a fool would try the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, but if I had a pound for every time somebody has suggested yoga, mindfulness, jogging, kale smoothies and all the rest of the "wow thanks I'm cured" quick fixes that a person with mental illness gets bombarded with, then I'd be a very rich man. Equally, explaining the same thing over and over again - "yes I've had mental health and substance abuse problems, but no I'm not going to stab you in your sleep or rob you" - was an exhausting madness.

I needed to move from the position where my work colleagues had no idea that I'd been a homeless drug addict when they hired me to work on the number one project for the biggest bank in Europe, to the position where my colleagues had seen me working very effectively in the office and been a valuable member of the team, yet they began to understand a little of the difficulties I'd faced in my personal life. I didn't want to have to hide my mental illness - bipolar disorder - and I didn't want to have to hide my problems of the past, which included homelessness and substance abuse.

Pretending to be Mr Boring Corporate Worker Bee was exhausting, and I already had been through enough, trying not to run out of money, trying to get off the streets and trying to get clean.

In June 2015 I was a homeless junkie, arranging interviews while sleeping in a park. I got an interview for a job, which I was nearly an hour late for because I fell back to sleep after the agent phoned me to wake me up, and then I had to get showered, changed and rush across London. In July 2015 I was living in a hostel in a 14-bed dormitory, trying to do my job, but I was still a junkie. In early September 2015 I started this blog. In late September 2015 I managed to get an apartment. By December 2015 I had 2,000 Twitter followers, so I decided to go fully public and write a blog post called "Cold Turkey" on Boxing Day, which was about my problems with substance abuse.

By accident or design, my blog has recorded every aspect of my illness: homelessness, depression, mania, self-harm, suicide attempts, hospitalisation, near-bankruptcy and destitution, eviction, relationship problems, family estrangement, poly-substance abuse and my attempts to get back on my feet, plus the relapses.

I've written down every single thing that you never wanted to know and that nobody would ever tell you because it'd be too likely to lead to prejudice, discrimination, reputational damage, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, loss of face, bullying, victimisation, taunts, jeers, social isolation, marginalisation, undesirable labels, being laughed at behind your back, becoming unemployable... a pariah.

Perhaps you think I'm stupid.

I did this because there are lots of people who try and fail to deal with debilitating mental illness and dreadful addictions. People try the same old things, which have terrible results. We know that the things we often try are spectacularly useless, because so many people are suffering and so few are recovering. Particularly in the field of addiction, the things that people try are not successful at all. For people who have the triple-whammy of mental health problems, substance abuse problems and money problems, they're screwed - they're almost definitely going to wind up destitute and dead.

There's nothing particularly interesting in yet another story about somebody who went to Alcoholics Anonymous and found God, only to then be caught up in a never-ending cycle of recovery and relapse that eventually destroys their health and takes them to an early grave, along with a lot of time and effort wasted thanking the sky monster and a lot of lying and deception... telling people they're clean and sober when they're really not at all.

I did this because it's hard and it's risky, but at least it's different.

Once or twice I've suffered prejudice and discrimination because of this public document which tells the world about my very worst faults and failings, but mostly it's served its purpose, which is to save me the time and energy that's wasted answering the same stupid questions, humouring people when they offer the same lame "quick fixes" and suffering the prejudice and discrimination because people guess, and they guess wrong, unless they can see the truth for themselves.

It annoys me that I can be a good co-worker, boss, friend, tenant, borrower, boyfriend, citizen... whatever... but only until people know my labels: homeless, junkie, bankrupt, mental health issues. As soon as people think those labels are attached to me, they treat me like a thief or a murderer. As soon as people hear those labels in connection with me, they think I'm going to steal their money for drugs, leave HIV infected needles in their baby's cot and murder them in their sleep because "the voices told me to do it".

The labels I attach to myself - currently only bipolar - I do so freely of my own choosing, because it's convenient shorthand for me.

I'm toying with the idea of switching out "bipolar" for "drug addict" because I think it's more provocative. I think that most mental health problems elicit sympathy, except for substance abuse disorder, which is seen as a bad choice made with free will - addicts are to blame for their own predicament. So, what about somebody who doesn't take drugs calling themself "drug addict" then? If addicts choose drugs, how's about I choose the label, even though I don't take drugs?

I'm defaming myself to see what happens. I'm defaming myself because I want to push boundaries. I'm defaming myself because I want to shake up your idea of what a homeless, bankrupt, junkie person with mental health problems looks like. I'm defaming myself, because I'm pissed off with the shame, the stigma and the prejudice.

I've done the hard work. I've earned the right to be myself. Go ahead... judge me.

I've provided everything you could ever possibly want to judge me. Knock yourselves out.




Self Pitying Poser

4 min read

This is a story about victim playing...

Skeleton face

Apparently the world is full of attention-seeking malingerers who aren't really sick, but who in fact choose to be depressed and miserable, and to self-harm and attempt suicide, because it's a lifestyle choice. Apparently everybody knows exactly what they're doing all the time and we all have complete free will - our hand is never forced, we're never coerced or pressured into doing things we don't want to do, and we can choose how we want to feel. If we want to be happy, we can just choose to be happy.

Those who are suffering aren't really suffering - they're victim-playing; they're attempting to get sympathy, so they can bunk off school or work. Thankfully though, there are some clever people out there who can see straight through you and understand everything about you in an instant. Thankfully there are clever people who are qualified to immediately judge you, and to declare you fit and well, except you're just too damn bloody minded to snap out of your silly pointless melancholy.

Those clever people who declare that you're so definitely faking it are so clever and infallible that they're prepared to risk your life. They'll call your bluff. They don't care if you die. It's more important that you're unmasked for what you really are - a self pitying attention seeking malingering poser - than you staying alive.

This situation, where those clever people call your bluff, is clearly working very well, because suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. If somebody commits suicide, clearly they were telling the truth, but if they don't immediately kill themselves that then proves that the clever person is really clever and can carry on killing people.

It's a bit like the witch-hunts. If a woman floats, she's a witch, and if she drowns she wasn't a witch. It's a flawless system.

I do often wonder - as I'm programmed to do by society - whether I'm feeling too sorry for myself; whether I whinge and moan too much. I'm certainly not wedded to depression as part of my identity and I wouldn't be sorry to see it go. I can see my part in my problems, in as much as I had ability to make other choices. You really don't understand the pressures and biases and other factors that influence a person's decision making, if you think that life is all about free will and making the right choices.

Yes, it is nice to have a reason for why life is shit. Yes, it's nice to have a diagnosis that says that there's a very good reason why life is harder than it should be. These things aren't excuses, they're explanations. Yes, it's comforting to know that there are very good reasons why I'm predisposed towards certain negative feelings and behaviours, and it's not because I'm lazy, stupid, immoral, bloody-minded, evil or of bad character. Yes, it's useful to think of myself as a victim of circumstances and a victim of disease, rather than some evil bastard who deliberately makes bad choices and is depressed and suicidal out of spite.

If I'm victim playing, fine, whatever - put me down as a victim player. If I'm self-pitying and saying "poor me" far too often, fine, whatever - put me down as an attention seeking poser.

I have some choice in the matter of what happens in my life, but mostly I don't. Most of what happens to all of us is dictated by fate - when we were born, where we were born, the socioeconomic circumstances we were born into, the people we came into contact with, the things that happened to us that were completely outside of our control. Even my choice of what to eat for dinner is heavily influenced by my upbringing and everything else that's going on in my life - I might crave salt or sugar, because my body needs it because of the activity I've been doing. How much do you want to blame the victims?

If you get your kicks from fat-shaming, then you're the kind of person who probably enjoys victim-blaming the suicidal too. You're the kind of person who'd rather see people die, than show them any sympathy. You're a bluff caller. You're a gambler with people's lives. You probably think of yourself as very clever.

Do you think it's worth it, to have suicide being the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, just so that you can feel big and clever?




Frayed at the Edges

7 min read

This is a story about being run down...

Pile of rusty bikes

I'm tempted to have a moan about the various ailments that have been hanging around for a couple of weeks, and the fact I'm really exhausted. I'm tempted to compare myself to my work jumper that was attacked by moths and is full of holes. There's something tired and tatty about me. My laptop has taken a battering, just like my poor body. There are plenty of clues that I've had a rough few years, but I'm feeling like I've gone on about it far too much. I've written so much about my distress that I'm reluctant to write any more - I'm aware that I've been a broken record for far too long.

I feel like I've overstated the case. I feel like I've protested too much. I feel like I have been unfair; unkind. I feel like my response has not been proportionate; reasonable. What about the starving Africans? What about the other people who have it so much harder than me?

I pretty much only have one strategy for getting out of a bad situation, and that's to work. Most of the time I'm not able to work at work - I'm underemployed - so I write. I write a lot. The amount of writing that I do is inversely proportional to the amount of actual paid work that there is to do. The more I'm writing, the more indicative it is that I'm distressed and trying to keep myself occupied. It might not look like a useful endeavour, but it's a kind of productivity that I can derive some satisfaction from, even it it's a bit counter-productive at times.

I wonder how run-down I've got. I sleep a lot, but I also have lengthy periods where I'm in a state of anxiety that's very exhausting. To be on high-alert all the time demands a lot of energy - it's draining. I can't explain it. I don't have much to do at work, but somehow that's worse than being really busy. I don't know why I've arrived at a point where I feel so run-down, but there's plenty of evidence - my immune system's really low, I'm prone to random bouts of crying, I'm tired all the time, I'm not coping.

I'm tired of being miserable. I'm tired of writing about depression and anxiety. I'm tired of worrying my friends. I'm tired of writing the same old things. I'm tired of the repeated themes; the monotony.

Some things are better. I have a lot more people to talk to at work. I'm managing to get through 7 or 8 hours and it's bearable for quite a lot of the day.

Some things are worse. I have to get up early. I have to prove myself in the new job.

Some things will get worse before they get better. I'll rent a place of my own soon(ish) but it will be stressful. I'll take a holiday, but I need to get through the first few weeks at work before I can have some time off.

I know that the days are getting longer and spring is on its way. I know that I have a huge head start this year, versus all the terrible winters I've had in previous years. I know that I'm very lucky that multiple important things in my life are going alright at the moment. In theory, things are looking up.

In practice, I'm battling to get into my new routine and get my body clock used to early morning starts. I've started from a run-down position, due to a rough couple of months working in London. I shouldn't complain, but it's a bit of a struggle.

Versus Monday morning, things have improved. Monday morning was dreadful. Every morning is dreadful, but hopefully things are going to improve day by day, provided I keep going. It feels tough but I'm sorry for whinging. Hopefully the really bad moments - like Monday morning - are becoming more infrequent.

I worry about tomorrow morning, as I do so often. I worry that I'm going to hit the wall and be unable to face the day. I worry that if I'm unable to face the day, I won't be able to face making my excuses either... I'll just abandon everything and turn my phone off. If I abandon everything then I won't be able to face the world again - it's been too hard to get to this point. I worry that I'll abandon hope, and life. I don't feel hopeless presently, but I worry that I will feel hopeless and that my hopes are dashed. Hopelessness is what leads me to feel like I should end my life.

I'm not sure how I feel about tomorrow - if I can get the horrid morning bit out of the way - but I think it's a little bit hopeful. I'm not exactly looking forward to going to work, but I'm not dreading it in the same way as I was with the previous job. I've got some stuff to do, which is better than having nothing to do. I speak to people at work now, so that makes the day more bearable. I don't feel useful, or that anybody's depending on me, which are reasons to get up and face the day. Perhaps things will improve though. The fact that I think that things might improve shows that I have hope, which is progress - maybe it'll make things a little easier tomorrow.

With lots of tiny marginal improvements, like not stressing so much about arrangements for showering and work clothes tomorrow, and my commute becoming more routine, the anxiety and dread is diminishing. It's mundane but it makes a big difference. I had been routinely bored out of my mind, isolated and lonely at work, which was causing me a great deal of distress, but things are changing. I need to get out of the habit of feeling anxious about the working day, because it's not going to be as awful as it has been in the past couple of months.

It's a shame I'm run down and in danger of hitting the wall, but if I can just muddle through the next few weeks then I should establish a healthy working pattern - things will become sustainable; tolerable.

There have been moments during the last three days that have reminded me of what I've been so desperate to get away from. I've thought that I'm broken and I can never work again. I've thought about getting up and walking out. I've thought about quitting and never going back to work. I think it's just going to take time to re-adjust from a job where there was nothing for me to do, and no way of filling the time that I could cope with, to a new paradigm where I at least have people to talk to. The last job was unbearably toxic to my mental health. This job is gonna be alright probably, but it'll be a little while before I'm busy and into the routine - there are going to be moments where I feel a little bored and isolated, but things will get better because I'm part of a team of people I can chat to.

I'm so reluctant to speak optimistically because I'm scared that I'm going to hit the wall. I feel like I have so little in reserve. I feel like I'm running on an empty fuel tank. On the other hand, I'm getting on with it - I'm managing to take things one day at a time.

Time is the healer. That's what I keep telling myself - if I can just keep creeping along one day at a time, then time will do its work. I just need to keep getting through one day at a time and then easier times will arrive, provided I don't hit the wall and give up.




Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

8 min read

This is a story about past performance as a guarantee of future performance...

Boy racer cars

In the space of a few photos - arranged chronologically in my album - we jump from my wedding, a Formula 1 racing circuit, skydiving and dawn breaking over London, photographed from Primrose Hill. These were the only things that seemed worthy of a photograph, sandwiched in-between my honeymoon and my separation from my wife. My niece was born in this period, but I keep my special photos in a different place from my everyday snaps - I photograph a lot of random things for my visual diary.

I was chatting to a friend and former colleague and he asked me if I'd "dealt with any of [my] demons?". I wonder what he meant. When we started working together I was nearly bankrupt, living in a hostel (i.e. homeless) addicted to drugs and having mental health problems. Yes, I suppose I've dealt with a few demons. I don't want to make excuses for past mistakes, or assume that everything's going to be plain sailing again in future, but that job we did together where I was working six and a bit days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, and trying to get myself clean and off the streets.... it was a challenge.

There was that time that I moved to a city I'd never visited before, moved into a flat I'd never set foot in before and started work on an incredibly ambitious project, with no team supporting me. I had a tiny hiccup - also known as a medical emergency that left me in a coma in intensive care - which caused me to lose two days at work, and that was the end of that, even though I'd delivered 85% of the project.

A guy rang me up, asked me if I could do a piece of work for him. I said it would take me 6 weeks. He asked if it could be done in 3 weeks. I said it could, but the end result would be rubbish. I've been working on that project for 12 weeks and the result is great... in fact, I finished 6 weeks ago and I've been killing time ever since, because there isn't anything left to do but the guy wants to retain my services. This guy STILL wants to retain my services. One very happy client. I'm not good at being bored though.

Wherever I've gone, I've delivered value; I've improved things; I've earned my money. Wherever I've gone, I've made stuff work, on time, exceeding expectations. Wherever I've gone, it's been of substantial net benefit to my client. However, the mileage has varied.

During that period when I didn't take many photographs, I spoke to my boss. He'd rung me up to congratulate me on a really important piece of work that I'd done, and tell me that I was getting a special commendation award and a hefty extra unexpected bonus in my pay packet. Ironically, I was just about to go into hospital for a month-long stay. I knew I was sick. It was bizarre to be having this conversation, knowing that I was in the middle of a crisis.

Some people are steady Eddies. Some people will be consistently mediocre. Some people will never disappoint you, because they inspire such abysmally low expectations. I've never really had much interest in steadily and slowly plodding my way towards low quality, late, over-budget and depressingly below-average outcomes for projects that ultimately end in failure. Fail fast.

We're very afraid of failure in the corporate world. Nobody fails, in fact, we just succeed in unplanned ways: "think about all the lessons we can learn from this project" we say, as we realise that it's a pile of stinking crap that's never going to fly. It's not really in my DNA to be part of that culture.

Failure is a huge part of who I am. Failure to get to work on time. Failure to get through an entire year without having a single sick day. Failure to be content to just take my wages and ignore problems; not try to improve things; not to try to make things into a success. I fail. I can get sick. I can drink too much coffee and start shooting my mouth off - become overconfident, arrogant and deluded due to lack of sleep and too many stimulants - and I can become depressed and unable to get out of bed. Sue me. I get shit done. There's my consistency: when there's a deadline, I consistently meet it. I consistently deliver on time and on budget. I'm highly INconsistent when it comes to when I'm going to turn up in the office, or even IF I'm going to turn up in the office for a few days.

With this do-what-the-fuck-I-want kind of attitude, I've had a string of successful projects and happy bosses and clients, but it occasionally causes resentment amongst the morning-lark steady-Eddies whose only virtuous attribute is that they're always there at their desks on time, despite the fact they're fucking useless at their jobs. In fact, this statement is unfair. An organisation needs a mix of steady Eddies and sprint'n'coasts. I don't really sprint and coast... it's more like work my bollocks off and burn out a little bit, but it gets stuff done.

It's difficult for me, because there will always be some bosses who will gleefully receive the fruits of the labour from those incredibly productive periods, and then think that it's 'normal' and sustainable. When it becomes expected to work at a super high level of intensity, there's no gratitude for the incredible cost of such a feat, and there's no allowance for the fact that for every up there must be a down - people have to be given time to recover after exerting themselves.

I really don't think that there's a 'slow and steady' way to achieve some things. Fast is the only way to go, and the faster the better. The sooner you see something that's real and tangible and working, the sooner you know whether it works the way you expected it to or not. There's no value at all in something that's only half-built. I'd rather have people say "I wish it did this AS WELL" rather than "I wish it worked". Even if people say "that's not what I expected" at least they've got something that they can use, or can serve as a prototype.

A lot of managers don't really know what they want when they're recruiting. They'll hire a lot of folks who are very good at playing buzzword bingo, answering interview questions and keeping a low profile in organisations so they can keep getting paid - but those aren't exactly great qualities for getting projects delivered.

The precarity of my situation should have pushed me towards meek compliance - perhaps I too should have learned to keep my mouth shut, cover my arse and spin jobs out so that they last as long as possible. Perhaps I too should have learned the fine art of looking busy and coping with the soul-destroying nature of pointless work and projects that are doomed to failure. Perhaps I need to stop caring so much. Not my circus, not my monkeys, right? Not my money, so I shouldn't care, right?

I feel terrible imposter syndrome, because I've had a turbulent few years. I feel terrible imposter syndrome because it wasn't very long ago that I had a pretty horrendously insurmountable heap of problems. I feel terrible imposter syndrome because my past performance is no guarantee of future performance, despite a 20+ year career where my achievements completely eclipse and nullify any of the very few hiccups, none of which has meant that there hasn't still been a successful project outcome.

I don't know how to characterise myself. In the corporate world, nobody talks about any difficulties they've faced - everything is given a positive spin. In the corporate world, gaps in your CV and things like that are severely career-hampering blemishes; black marks. I think it's a huge strength, that I've made positive contributions to important projects, despite having to deal with some incredibly difficult things in my personal life at the same time. If the corporate world could wrap its tiny mind around it, I'd love to give the background context to my employment history.

Thus, mileage can vary. If you hire somebody who's never had a problem in their life, assuming that their spotless record is going to remain so forever, you might be disappointed if they ever face any difficulties, because they're probably not the kind of person who's ever had to deal with challenging circumstances. You might hire somebody because they've never had a mental health problem, but anybody can get depressed. A person who's experiencing problems for the first time in their life is going to be less able to cope and communicate and manage effectively, than the person who's been functioning with those kind of problems in their life for years and years. Every set of circumstances is different. Every set of pressures is different. Every time is different.

I just keep rolling the dice. As long as I'm allowed to keep rolling the dice, I'm winning more than I'm losing.




Stubbornly Refusing to be Cured

12 min read

This is a story about being bloody minded...

Hospital wristband

I've been subjected to the most bizarre accusation: That I can "get better" anytime I want; that I enjoy being depressed or somehow need to have a mental illness because it's part of my identity; that I want to be unwell. Part of the accusation hinges on my Twitter following - I'm accused of being two-faced: Writing blog posts and tweets which don't somehow manage to convey that sometimes I'm not suicidal.

I'm a bit confused to be honest. I don't think I could be any more authentic. I don't think it would be possible for me to be any more candid and open. My blog isn't supposed to be a diary, accurately recording the day's events. My blog is therapy for me - I write about the things that are upsetting me the most; the things that are causing the most pain and anguish.

Perhaps I'm being given credit where no credit is due. Perhaps I'm perceived as intelligent enough to be able to rationalise away my problems and force my moods to bend to my will. Perhaps the decisions I've taken out of desperation have been mistaken for choices. Perhaps my determination to stick with a plan which will boost my finances and continue to give me a lucrative career, is seen as deliberate self-sabotage: I'm purposefully making myself sick, in the eyes of my accuser.

I can see the positives and the negatives of different "choices" without assistance from somebody else to help me 'see'. I'm not so cognitively impaired that I need somebody to point out the bleedin' obvious to me. For everything that I moan about because it's making me ill, there are many benefits which make my choices worthwhile. My work, travel and living arrangements are not conducive to good mental health, but neither is poverty and hinderances that would make me less employable. The playing field is not level. I do not get to make unbiased choices - I've got to do what I've got to do, even if it's unpleasant.

I'm accused of being the problem. It's not the job, it's me. It's not the commute, it's me. It's not the lonely AirBnBs, it's me. Apparently, everything's all my own fault and I can choose to be healthy and happy any time I want, according to my accuser. Personally, I think that life's a lot easier when you've got money behind you and you've got a stable home life. Personally, I think that we are healthier and happier when we get the pieces of the puzzle in place: friends, family, a home, an income, financial security and something we're passionate about. Let's leave aside the blame game of how I ended up in the present situation. We can even assume that everything's all my fault if you want to, but that doesn't change the fact of the matter: I am where I am and I need to get back on my feet. Blame doesn't change my needs. Blame doesn't change my situation or my mood. To accuse me of fucking up my life AND deliberately keeping it fucked up is dumb. One of the big reasons why I'm suicidal is because I've tried so hard to fix the things that are broken, but it's been a miserable exhausting experience and my life's still pretty messed up. I really am trying very hard to get things sorted out. It's a lot easier said than done, I'm afraid. Sorry about that.

I think there's a lot of ego involved. People want to be helpful, but then they start thinking like they've understood me and I can be 'cured' with simple solutions. When the simple solutions to an oversimplification of my problems don't work, then the 'helpful' people get annoyed with me... like I'm deliberately messing up their useless suggestions. I seem to have really frustrated my accuser, that I'm so determined to be a real living person, with a real life, instead of some simple little thing that can easily be fixed. "Oh I'm so silly! How brilliant of you to point out the completely obvious solution to an easy-to-solve problem that I don't have! Thank you!" I'm expected to say all the time, on top of dealing with real life.

There aren't any quick fixes. Things take time and effort to get better, and it's exhausting. Things have to be done in the right sequence. Sometimes, it costs a lot of money to make changes. Sometimes we have to wait for the things we want and need, because we can't get them immediately. I can't - for example - switch jobs until I have a financial cushion to give me some runway to make the change. Every change I make brings with it a whole new set of problems, so I need to deal with things in a step-by-step way. There's a plan, even if somebody thinks that I can just teleport straight to the end goal. Sadly, life doesn't work like that - we have to suffer in the short and medium term, to achieve our long term objectives. You have to pay to play.

I'm not short of ideas for what to do when I have surplus time and money. I'm not short of ideas of what I'd do if I could do anything, because money's no object, but it's bullshit to suggest I'm able to just abandon my current source of income and go off and do something else. I can't be a student again. I can't be a poet or a dog walker or a sculptor or a circus clown. Life doesn't work like that. Even if I took a shitty McJob, I would still need to afford to travel to work every day for a month or so until I get paid. How do you think capitalist society even works? I'm making smart economic choices which are painful at the moment, but will give me the financial means to pursue something more rewarding and better for my health. I'm giving myself the working capital to be able to pick and choose my next options.

I might have spent some of today playing like a big kid and enjoying myself, but that doesn't mean that my mood can't be plunged dangerously low when reality bites: Monday morning will come around, along with the realisation that almost nothing in my life is quite where I want and need it to be. There's so much unpleasant hard work ahead, and so little reward in the short term, that it's quite understandable that I'd get worn down and decide to reject life altogether. What looks like a few short months of hard work to you, is somewhat of an insurmountable obstacle for me, because of the journey I've been on. I've fought my way back from nothing, and I'm still fighting, but yet it feels like I'm getting nowhere. Where's the reward for my effort? Why is life still so miserable, most of the time?

In the company of my friends, or going on a date with a girl - for example - life can briefly seem wonderful, but the bulk of my existence feels like packing and unpacking bags, moving from place to place, sitting at a desk and hating every second... unsettled and unpleasant. The dread of the rat race - the treadmill - is enough to cast a dark shadow over other times. When I should be enjoying the last few hours of my weekend, I'm already depressed about another week shackled to the job I do out of economic necessity. I make a fuss, but it's not over nothing and it's not me. I'd pick up dog shit if it paid as well as my current job... at least it would feel like I was making a real tangible difference to my local community, if I was doing something like that.

There are a whole raft of issues at play, including my desire to be free from medications. It might seem obvious that my depression could be 'cured' with pills, but it wouldn't be a cure - my depression is a reaction to my toxic circumstances. I don't want to become medication dependent, when I've worked so hard to wean myself off so many different pills. I'm quite close to being 100% substance free.

I want to plan a holiday. I want to buy a car. I want to dream, but dreams require money. The dreaming part is the easy bit. Life's a lot more complicated than it seems for a casual observer. It's easy to come up with a million "you should do..." ideas, but they're infeasible if you don't have the time, money, company, energy, motivation and a million other things that are the product of getting some building blocks in place: a home, a girlfriend, some friends, a tolerable job, some money in the bank, disposable income etc. etc.

There are myriad broken things in my life, and no quick fixes. If I haven't fixed something yet, it's not because I want it to be broken. I'm not choosing to be depressed. I don't want to be sick. I'm perfectly capable of imagining a life that would be healthier and happier, but it takes time, money and energy to make it happen.

Moaning on my blog is what I do for therapy. Moaning on my blog is what I do, because it's cheap and it helps me to limp along while I'm getting the cash together to be able to do whatever I want to do next. Moaning on my blog is not my identity - it's my outlet because there isn't any other healthy way to cope. I'm trapped by circumstances and there's no escape, except through the path I've "chosen". I do not choose to be depressed, miserable and suicidal.

I don't know why I'm accused of being the architect of my own depression, when I'm working so hard to fix my life. The accusations don't even make any sense - they just seem to be an egotistical version of "have you tried being more simple so that I can solve the problems that you don't have?" and "have you tried being me instead of you, because I think I'm great?".

I've exhaustively documented the challenges that I'm facing. It upsets me that somebody would want to oversimplify things, just because of their own ego and a desire that I should blame myself and generally feel like I'm lazy and stupid, despite the fact that I HAVE TO LIVE 24 HOURS A DAY WITH SUICIDAL DEPRESSION and I'm the one who does all the actual hard work fixing my life. Pointing out the blatantly obvious is not a hard thing to do. Leaping to incorrect conclusions is not a hard thing to do.

There is a prerequisite condition for having an opinion on "what's wrong with me" which is to have read what I've written. If you want to know what's wrong with me, I've exhaustively documented everything I'm going through right here. If you want to tell me what I should and shouldn't do with my life, it needs to take into account the reality of my day-to-day existence, which I have accurately explained the most challenging parts of on this blog. If you want to give me "you should..." type instructions, then they need to be grounded in reality or else I'm just going to ignore them. Please don't get upset when I ignore your unhelpful suggestions. Please don't accuse me of wanting to be miserable and depressed.

I've written more than I intended to. I'm wondering why I'm writing. What's the point? But, that's what this blog is. It's not an attempt to manipulate sympathy out of my audience. This is a living document that records my distress in unflinching detail. This is where I pour out all the stuff that's really upsetting me. Here's where I work things out that are going round and round in my head. This is therapy for me.

One other accusation that I've faced is that my blog is making me sick - my blog is causing me to get stuck, ruminating on things that I'd otherwise let go. I think that's bullshit. My blog is where I've been able to finally let go of things that have been upsetting me. It's taken a long time, and I've repeated myself A LOT but that doesn't mean it's not working. If you take a lazy glance, you might think that I always write about the same stuff and that I'm therefore stuck in a rut, but if you look at the full story, you must surely see that I've been through some pretty traumatic stuff and this blog has helped me to cope. Writing is my healthy coping mechanism. People don't often pull through the things I've been through, and go back to being healthy happy productive members of society. I give credit to this blog for allowing me to deal with things that would otherwise have caused me to lose my mind.

I could probably edit this down, or just delete it and rewrite it, but I'm going to publish it because I want the public scrutiny. I want to document what I'm going through. I want to capture a piece of my consciousness, without censorship.

Yes, I'm lashing out, but I don't deserve to be accused of not helping myself, when I'm working so hard.




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.




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.




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.