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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.


Goodbye, Jinxed January

8 min read

This is a story about the bitter end...

Urine bottle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Will to Live

6 min read

This is a story about insecurity...

Sussex river

The self preservation instinct varies by individual. In theory, we should all be equally risk-averse, because all genetically heritable traits must surely code for self-preservation, by definition. Any genes that would make an individual less likely to want to live, would literally die out. However, we know that people willingly jump out of perfectly good aeroplanes, while others are afraid to leave the house.

When life becomes one long unrewarding fruitless struggle - endless anxiety - then it seems logical that you'd give up hope of things ever getting better. "This will pass" people say. It doesn't. They're wrong.

I've done most of the stressful things in life: moved house, made new friends, asked a girl out on a date, got a job, paid bills, started businesses, balanced the books, paid my taxes, fixed a broken down car, fixed a water leak, fixed a gas leak, been punched in the face, got divorced, been arrested, been locked in a cell, been hospitalised, ran out of money, been homeless.

So, I've been through a lot of shit and survived. I've dealt with a heap of very stressful situations and I managed to get through them without having a nervous breakdown. However, I'm not exactly thrilled about having to start over.

I had become careless with my life, because I'd been suicidally depressed for so long that existence offered nothing but unrelenting pain.

My life attitude has generally been this: start today with whatever I've got, and make the best of it.

It's heartbreaking when you try your best for years and years, but you're thwarted at every turn. Imagine you've patiently observed, practiced and developed your skills. You're doing all the right things, but it's not working because somebody is working against you. I try to win people over. I try to get people onside. I try to convert the bad apples into good apples, rather than chuck them in the bin.

I'm named after a heroin addict: Mr Grant. I don't know his first name. If I took my mum's name, I'd be Nick Newton. If I took my dad's name, I'd be Nick Edmonds.

I had a blazing row with my mum when I was a child, over whether it was ever ethical to write somebody off as a lost cause. Unsurprisingly, my unshakeable belief - for as long as I can remember - has been that nobody is born bad, and nobody should be abandoned. Even the idea of casual dating is unpalatable to me: pick a partner and stick with them; be loyal.

My core beliefs have been tested to breaking point. I've lain myself wide open to be taken advantage of, and people have come and filled their pockets at my expense.

"Where are your friends when you need them?" my flatmate asked me a few times. "They're not there when you need them" he said.

In fact, I never phoned my friends for help. Ironically, the one time I phoned my friends for a favour, was to get rid of my flatmate - who owes me thousands of pounds in unpaid rent and bills - when he refused to leave.

Of course, my friends have been there when I've needed them, but I have a strong instinct to take my problems away from the people who I care about. I don't suck people into the turmoil of my decaying life. If I'm in trouble, I don't want that trouble to spill over onto my friends. If I'm going to kill myself, I'm going to throw up barriers - defences - to stop people getting too close to ground zero.

I haven't been ready to have anybody in my life, because I started to believe the bullshit: I started to think that I was a good-for-nothing write-off lost cause.

Now, a couple of people have stuck by me and been physically present through some of the horrors, and we've come out the other side. With every bit of loyalty, love and care that I've received, it's helped me to heal and repair a little more. It's hard to be objective, but it feels like things are getting better for once.

Everybody needs at least one person who believes in them. One person who'll be there when you really need somebody. One person who's trying to help, not thwart.

I find myself writing with consideration for their feelings and how they might perceive things. I'm starting to think about a positive future, rather than just brain-dumping before I die.

This blog was supposed to be a time-capsule; a smoking gun; a suicide note. This blog was supposed to contain all the things that hold some horrible people to account. It's so much easier if the target of your malice goes down without a fight and quietly dies.

She said to me "awwww, you wrote me a love letter" and it's true. In amongst the bitchy sniping at a bunch of arseholes who've screwed me over, there's a new theme developing: I care about hurting somebody's feelings and damaging a burgeoning relationship. There's something precious to me that I want to protect.

It's fairly hard to think "I hope we don't break up" and "I want to die" at the same time. Obviously, it'd be a logical fallacy to hold both thoughts simultaneously. Reason is a very poor way to tackle emotion, but it seems to be quite hard to be suicidal when you're cuddling on the couch... although not impossible.

When you care about somebody, you can feel insecure: "what if I lose her?"

It's progress, of a kind. I wouldn't say that dating is ever a reason to live, but having a significant other who you're crazy about is an improvement on a situation where your own emotional pain fills your world, to the point where you have no capacity to think or care about the people who would be sad if you were dead.

"Suicide is so selfish."

No, you simply haven't understood. It's you who is selfish, if you expect somebody to endure intolerable agony for your benefit. Believe me: people don't want to die because they're selfish; they want to die because they can't stand the pain and suffering anymore.

Guilt-tripping never works, but kindness, care, compassion and loyalty seem to be a winning combo.




Who Do You Think You Are?

12 min read

This is a story about family...

Llethr melyn farmhouse

I was born in Aberystwyth, Wales. This is the first house I lived in. We moved around lots when I was growing up - I went to 8 different schools - so I don't really know where to call home. For me, home is where I make it: I have a grab bag in my apartment in London, with a tent and a sleeping bag. I'll survive, but there isn't a family home I would visit ever again. Homelessness is the only option.

I was wondering to myself earlier whether I'm a misanthrope or not. I certainly dislike the stress of rush hour travel and battling crowds. You must wonder why I live and work in London, where it's so densely populated, but I find that it has amazing people, food, culture and lots of jobs for my skills and experience. I live by the river and it's actually pretty quiet down on the Isle of Dogs, as is the Square Mile, where I often get contracts.

I've decided that I don't hate people, but a lot of people seem to hate me. Changing schools so much is disruptive to a child's life. Instead of learning how to make friends and become popular, there's little point if you're going to get yanked out of some place you're happy with and dumped somewhere else. It's fairly obvious that the more disrupted a child's environment, the more they will retreat inwards, in search of some stability and consistency.

Bullying was a big feature of my childhood. It was a daily feature of life until I went to college. It's easy to make a child into a bullying victim: just give them something that marks them out as different. Take a look at the way all the children in school are dressed and make sure you dress your kid differently: turn-ups on their trousers, a jumper when all the other kids are wearing blazers, Clarks shoes when all the other kids are wearing Doc Martens. If they're a girl, dress them like a boy and vice-versa. If they're a boy, make them ride a pink bicycle with ribbons on it. Et cetera, et cetera.

My parents' only hobby was drug taking. In their imagination, there were fucking unicorns and rainbows everywhere and everything they said was profound and important. In their minds they were hard working and intelligent. In reality, they were sat around in a dirty house, dribbling like morons and unable to say a single syllable that was understandable. Their brains were intoxicated by drugs and alcohol and they were antisocial: preferring to spend as much time as possible alone indoors with their drugs.

I'm not sure if my parents are misanthropes, but they sure as shit don't have any friends. They have each other and they seem to think that they're the two smartest people on the planet and everybody else is thick as pig shit. When I feign snobbery and arrogance, it's easy because I just imitate my parents. They used to talk about friends and colleagues behind their back. I would get in trouble if I ever let slip a "mum says..." which taught me about two-faced hateful nasty people.

It's kind of fun to gossip behind people's backs, but having been the victim of social exclusion, bullying and also witnessed the nasty nature of horrible people who say mean things about people behind closed doors, I now try to stop myself. I'm not getting up on my high horse and saying I'm morally superior: I just mean to say that I have strong feelings about it, as it's affected my life. It's almost as if I was the one who suffered for my parents' desire to be hostile to everyone.

Evil Child

There I am. It's fairly obvious from those murderous eyes that I'm pure evil and had been plotting to do all sorts of dastardly deeds, while I was a sperm and an egg.

"My girlfriend" is how my dad referred to my mum. He made me call him and my mum by their first names. I wasn't allowed to call them "Mum" and "Dad". There was open hostility towards me, as if I had planned to ruin their drug binge and screw up their easy carefree life; as if my birth was some pre-meditated malicious atrocity. That's a pretty freaky thing to accuse a small child of.

What else do I know about myself?

Well, I was lonely. I was so desperate for secure, loyal friendships, that I would get very overexcited when I got to spend time with friends. I was super intense and hyper: I had to pack in all the friendship I could, when the opportunity presented itself. Sleep was always of secondary concern to maximising the time available, so it was exhausting seeing me for the short intense bursts that my parents permitted.

A number of my childhood 'friends' were the children of people my parents deemed good enough to hang out with occasionally, because they liked to take drugs. My parents made all objective judgements of people based on whether they liked drugs or not, rather than on personality or intellect. My dad rather styled himself on a man known literally as Mister Mean, who charged his wife and young children rent to live in 'his' house. What a cunt.

The biggest event in my life was the birth of my sister, when I was 10 years old. Parents are supposed to be outnumbered. Children are supposed to grow up with brothers and sisters. It's fucking abusive to have lonely isolated miserable children. Guess what? Children like playing together. Children like being children with other children.

It occurred to me that we spend so much of our time and energy trying to get children to act like adults, which is disingenuous and bound to lead to frustration and misery all round. If you want adult company, go make friends with people your own age. Kids need to be kids, which means play and socialising with their peers. Punishing a child for being childish is abusive.

Yeah, I'm banding round the term 'abuse' quite freely and easily. I'm sorry if there's a very specific context in which you find that English word acceptable, but it has a definition that you're at liberty to look up in the dictionary if you need to. I'm calling things abusive, because they've had life-altering negative effects on me and caused prolonged periods of abject misery. If you've fucked up your child's chances to form meaningful, secure happy relationships and partake in society as a well-rounded individual, you've really fucking abused a kid, OK?

This is turning into a bit of a "poor me, poor me" whinefest, but it's the background of the who am I type stuff I've been thinking about. I know it's horribly egocentric, but tell me, which pill do I take to just forget about this stuff and move on?

"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man" -- Aristotle

Finding myself unable to get along with my peers and finding my parents to be disappointed that I wasn't born as a grown adult independently wealthy Victorian butler, I eventually found that friends' parents and some teachers were very nice to me. Having been raised to act with 'maturity' many adults found my good manners and strong communication skills to be charming. While I could do nothing right at home, I found that the adult world was mainly about kissing arse and saying intelligent sounding things at the right time. Naturally, my peers saw me as aloof and arrogant, which I guess I was.

It's easy to see how I got a head start in life: because I was lonely and isolated. I played on computers when others were playing with their brothers, sisters and friends. When I went to my first job interview, I wasn't intimidated because I felt more comfortable in the adult world than I did with children. When it came to making a good impression at work, people judged me on the fake image of maturity that I projected. In short: I seemed more grown-up than I was.

We're all a little insecure, but I desperately wanted loyal friends and a loving girlfriend. That lifelong damage that you do to a kid when you fuck up their childhood, means that they feel unloved, they don't know how to make friends, missed out on childhood sweethearts and feel distant from their peers. That shit carries over into adult life. Where's the confidence, the gregariousness, the outgoing nature? Where are you going to get that stuff, if all you know is bullying, isolation and disruption to your life that destroys every friendship you've ever cherished?

Every time I've been clingy, intense or a little too full-on... that's coming from that hole that was left in adolescence, where most people are swigging cider in the park and having fumbling trysts in the bushes.

But, I've also been affected by drugs. I'm not afraid of drugs. I don't have a healthy fear and respect of drugs, unlike people who've never been exposed to them. I'm in the situation of having in-depth knowledge of drug taking, but I'm surrounded by educated middle-class professionals who know nothing about drugs (except that if you inject a marijuana you will immediately murder a grandmother to steal her money).

It's crazy to think that the spotty, nerdy unpopular awkward geek who was bullied as fuck, took amphetamines and lost his virginity at the age of 15. Is it crazy? Well, a lot of people think drug taking is cool. It's seen by some simple-minded fools as an act of rebellion. Idiots see themselves as being part of a counter-culture movement, when they make themselves dumb and apathetic, spending their money on a trillion dollar commercial industry, never actually doing anything revolutionary or productive because they're sitting around indoors dribbling and babbling incoherently.

Small Child with Cannabis

Doesn't it seem only natural that with insecurity and isolation, I would follow in the footsteps of my parents? It sounds like I'm blaming my parents for my addiction, but I'm not (directly). The debate about free will and our ability to make choices, is a complex one. 

"Boring! We've heard all this!"

Yes, but I'm retelling. I've been through Hell and I'm trying to understand everything myself. Through my writing, I'm coming to terms with a mind-boggling amount of experiences that I have to slot into place, in order to make sense of the world and where I fit within it. Life is not black & white; good & bad. I can't simplify things to the point of simply saying I'm a "bad kid" like my parents seemed to decide from very early on. Blaming myself for everything has gotten me nowhere.

No apology or even discussion was forthcoming from my parents, so it's up to me to figure everything out and make the correct judgements based on the evidence and rational investigation of the facts. Yes, it's nice and easy to jump on any one particular thing that seems to be the 'smoking gun' pointing to the fact that I must be an evil little shit sent from Hell to terrorise the world, but there comes a time when that story really doesn't stack up.

I've been wondering why I do a lot of looking back. I have very little control over the future. My future is bound up in the hands of decision makers, who will either give me a role that I'm qualified and experienced to do, in order to get the cash that's needed in this bullshit capitalist society. Otherwise, my life will be ripped to pieces by the vultures that prey on anybody who doesn't fit the mould.

Life's definitely a lot easier when you're not penniless, sick, homeless and addicted to drugs, but it's not as simple as that. What's your purpose? Who are you? What's your identity?

Being a vagrant is actually a fairly strong identity. There is something cool about being half-dead. There's something attractive about the hollow eyes, pale skin and skinny body of heroin chic isn't there? If you don't belong to a sports team; you weren't one of the popular ones at school; you aren't trying to get as many letters after your name as possible; you haven't conflated your professional and private identities... then who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing?

Drugs neatly encapsulate both identity and reward. Instead of getting small dopamine hits by bragging about your promotion at a dinner party, you can get a big dopamine hit by staying at home and taking drugs. Also, you feel that you 'belong' to a special club: you learn to identify other addicts and you feel a connection to them... a sense of belonging.

If you can roll a joint and you have weed, you'll have 'friends'. If you have enough money to buy cocaine, you'll have 'friends' and you'll want to share it because you're not an addict, right? Except you are.

I found - by accident - that drugs gave me the self-confidence that had been stolen from me by my parents. I was able to chat to girls. Pretty much most of the time that I had sex, it was on speed (amphetamine), mushrooms (psilocybin) or Ecstasy (MDMA).

Eventually, I discovered - through dangerous experimentation - a drug that was so powerful that it was a far superior substitute for my abusive ex. She was no longer needed. She was abusive, mean, selfish and unpleasant and I was very glad that the spell was broken, even though it cost me a period of addiction and a lot of money. I wasn't strong enough to leave her, without the drugs.

Now, I'm all cleaned up. I'm a good boy.

But, I'm left wondering about that whole purpose & identity thing.





6 min read

This is a story about setting a good example...

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Drug induced paranoia can cause you to see threats and conspiracies where they don't exist. Drug taking can cause poor judgement. Being intoxicated and high on drugs impairs your perception, so you do not see reality as it truly is.

I have extensive experience of witnessing drug paranoia, poor judgement and impaired perception. I was raised by a couple of alcoholic drug addicts.

According to my dad, he was a model father. I'm sure he was, in his head. I'm sure as he sat on that sofa, high on drugs, he was being the greatest dad who ever lived. The drugs addled his brain, so he was unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.

According to my dad, I was a terrible child. I'm sure I was, in his head. I'm sure that as he sat there on that sofa, high on drugs, his brain was telling him what an evil little shit I was, and how I was out to get him. My dad used to talk about the Masons and the Illuminati. There was a conspiracy. The world was out to get him. In particular, his own son was out to get him. I was sent to ruin his drug binge. I was sent to ruin his life.

According to my dad, he knew best. I'm sure he did know best, in his head. I'm sure that as he sat there on that sofa, high on drugs, he thought he knew everything. Drugs tell you that you're really smart and that you've figured out the meaning of life, the universe and everything. When you're high on drugs, you think you've got all the answers. Sadly, those of us who dwell in reality find that the drug addict's answers don't really add up.

In the pursuit of drugs and booze, I was always a secondary consideration. My parents like to joke about putting my moses basket or carrycot on top of the jukebox, while they spent all their time in the pub. Ha! Ha! Ha! GOOD ONE MUM AND DAD THAT'S HILARIOUS.

My mum always seemed to get romantically involved with fucking drug addict losers. My surname - Grant - comes from some heroin addict guy who my mum finally decided was a waste of space. She swapped Mr Grant for my dad, who is also a drug addict waste of space.

My dad spends a great deal of time telling my mum what an evil son they have. Get my mum on her own, and she's OK. Mums know best. Mums know their own children. Presumably, away from the drug intoxication, reality and rational thought prevail, and it's possible to understand that children are not born evil. If you're not high on drugs, you can see what's really going on, and you can see that your son is not part of some conspiracy. If you have a normal brain free from mind-numbing chemicals, you can see that it's a crazy idea, that your son is out to get you.

My dad has always assumed the very worst about me. Instead of having a "birds & bees" conversation with me, I remember my dad telling me that it's not OK to rape women. What the fuck goes on in HIS head, if he thinks that people need telling not to go raping anybody?

I would have thought that most parents want the best for their children. I would have thought that most parents want to give their children as many opportunities as they can.

In his drug-induced paranoia, my dad was convinced that I would take any opportunity I could to perpetrate crimes against the family. My dad seemed convinced that his job was to simply protect the world against me. My dad was never pleased with my achievements, but instead was just waiting to uncover the 'evidence' of my wrongdoing and evil intent.

My childhood was about arguing that I hadn't done anything wrong, or defending myself against complete fantasy allegations that I would commit some act of wrongdoing given half a chance.

You just can't treat your kids like that. You just can't treat your kids like they're your enemy.

Why did I make my dad feel so threatened? Why did my dad think I was so evil? Why did my dad think I could do no right, and I was pre-programmed to perpetrate evil acts at every opportunity? Why did my dad find nothing to praise in my achievements, believing that they were only some elaborate ruse to cover up my true nature? Why did my dad go to such great lengths to accuse me of everything he could think of, and attempt to find evidence of my mistakes, failings and immorality?

Because I'm a forgiving and open-minded person, who believes that no person is born evil, I am minded to think that it was all the drugs that my dad used to take, and the fact that he was acutely aware of his own shortcomings and immorality. It feels like my dad projected his own failings onto me, so I grew up feeling guilty about stuff that wasn't even true about me.

I find it particularly telling that my dad and my ex-wife got along very well. They both had a delusional belief that they were whiter than white, while trying to make me feel responsible for their fucked up blame avoidance and over-inflated egos.

In the end, I thought "fuck it".

If you gaslight somebody, telling them they're a bad person the whole time, eventually they'll prove you right.

But I'm not a bad person, so I couldn't even bring myself to actually commit an act of evil.

I briefly had a very confusing period, where I was eventually so bullied and abused that I began to believe that I was a bad person, but everybody who knows me and everybody who is independent and nonjudgemental was telling me that it wasn't true. Despite the condemnation and criticism I had suffered at the hands of my dad and my ex, it turns out that nobody else agreed with them.

When I cut my dad and my ex out of my life, everything improved, and I was suddenly no longer an evil person, out to rob, lie, cheat and swindle the world. Coincidence?




Drug Addiction: The Appliance of Science

16 min read

This is a story about fact vs. fiction...


It's hard to defend yourself when you're sick. It's easy for people to take advantage of a soft target, and invent their own version of events. It's easy to discredit somebody, when you've left them dead and buried. The dead can no longer speak up for themselves.

I needed to break up with my abusive ex-wife and rebuild my life in London. London is where all the good IT contracts and jobs are. London is where I have a good chance of reconnecting with significant numbers of friends and business contacts. London is where good stuff happens.

I had an excellent credit rating. I was going to arrange for a bridging loan to cover the expenditure of relocating back to London from Bournemouth. The loan was risk free, because I had such a large amount of equity in my house. The credit risk was underwritten by the fact that as soon as the house was sold, the loan could be repaid.

I was going to arrange credit with a commercial lender, so that I had the security of knowing that I had the funds to cover me until I got a new job back in London. However, my parents insisted that I could count on them. My parents told me that I didn't need the extra stress and hassle of arranging credit, and worrying about money and administrative affairs, when I had the extremely upsetting task of leaving my home and setting up life again in London.

However, when I then said that I needed to borrow the money - secured against the large lump sum of equity tied up in my house that was being sold - they then reneged on their promise. They left me high and dry. They dumped me in the shit. With no excuse, they fucked me over. Unacceptable.

Don't make promises you have no intention of keeping.

Don't offer to support vulnerable people, and then screw them over.

It's not a fucking joke.

It's not fucking funny.

It has consequences.

Far reaching consequences.

I never got an apology or an explanation from my parents for fucking me over like that. I can only assume that they liked the idea of sounding like real parents, but actually they don't have a single shred of decency. They don't have an ounce of honesty. They are untrustworthy. They are liars. They are utter c**ts.

It wasn't like I'd asked them for support. I was putting my own commercial borrowing arrangements in place to cover my relocation. My parents insisted that I could count on them to bridge the gap. It made sense... there was no risk, because the debt was underwritten with the equity in my house, which was vacant and being sold. It made sense that they should profit instead of a commercial lender. I was doing them a favour, because they would earn a better rate of interest off me than they would from any savings interest.


Let's assume that they decided I was going to blow all the money on drugs.

My drug of choice - the one I got mixed up with by accident during the agonising destruction of my relationship and my business - is something that I've jokingly nicknamed "supercrack". As the name suggests, it's highly addictive. It used to be legal, not so long ago.

A strong dose of supercrack is 15mg. That's 0.015 grams.

The length of time that a dose of supercrack will last is about 18 hours. It's an incredibly potent stimulant.

On the dark web, you used to be able to buy 5 grams of supercrack for $150, including postage. That's enough to last 333 days, assuming you sleep 6 hours a night.

If you take supercrack around-the-clock you will not sleep, and therefore your immune system will get very low and you will soon die. The longest I ever took supercrack in a round-the-clock binge was 10 days. That's 10 days without sleep or food. I don't think you could go much longer without dying.

When I moved back to London, I was no longer using supercrack.

If I was using supercrack, from the day I moved back to London to today, I would have spent the princely sum of $450.

In fact, to use supercrack for 50 more years - long past my natural life expectancy - would only require 274 grams of the dangerous drug, which would easily cost me less than $10,000. In fact, I could probably have bought 1kg in bulk for $5,000, which would have been enough for 200 years of drug abuse.

So what did happen to all my money?

Well, I made it to my first Christmas back in London by buying Bitcoins on my credit cards and with my overdraft, which then increased 1,200% in value. I hadn't been able to work, because the stress of not having any money, and having your parents and ex-wife completely dicking you over, while also having to move the contents of a 3 bedroom house into storage and rebuild your life again, was rather too much to ask.

My parents expected me to go to their house for a jolly fucking family Christmas, when they had royally fucked me over. What a joke.

December was all too much, and by the 27th I was in full-blown relapse (which only cost a few dollars in drugs).

However, rehab doesn't come cheap... and guess who was going to pay? ME!

I've paid around £30,000 for private treatment. Guess what? It doesn't work.

Unless you have a supportive environment, treatment doesn't work. Don't bother going into rehab, unless you're going to get rid of toxic people, toxic places and toxic jobs from your life.

My first stay in rehab (The Priory) was long enough for me to see that I was being abused by my ex-wife and we needed to break up. My next stay in rehab was long enough for me to get over being dicked over by my parents. My last stay in rehab gave me just about enough strength to make a plan to cut my toxic parents out of my life altogether.

Since then, I now know the knack of quitting drugs.

Amino acids such as 5-HTP, L-Tyrosine and Phenylalanine replace the depleted neurotransmitters in your brain. Bupropion and amphetamines (like dexedrine) can cushion the cravings and depression, lack of energy and cognitive impairment.

Benzos and Z-drugs are a great way to amplify an addiction. Sleeping off the comedown by taking 'downers' to take the vicious edge off the 'uppers' means that you start to believe you are able to get all the upsides without any of the downsides. However, all you're doing is storing up the mother of all comedowns for a later day.

Coming off benzodiazepines is the single most awful thing you are likely to ever experience in your life. I'm not sure if you've ever had a panic attack or insomnia. Certainly, you must have experienced stress and anxiety. Imagine having a round-the-clock sense of horrible unease, fear, dread. If benzos calm you down, the payback is in rebound anxiety. What goes up must come down, and living with anxiety is terrible.

Something like diazepam is very long acting, so you find it's in your bloodstream for ages even after you stop taking it. The withdrawal from it lasts weeks: insomnia & anxiety.

Coming off stimulants isn't that bad. You're exhausted, suicidally depressed, physically weak, uncoordinated, slow witted, and cognitively impaired. You might be in terrible physical shape from lack of food, lack of sleep and over-exertion. It's nothing that a month in bed can't fix.

Obviously, coming off all drugs at the same time is a clusterfuck, because you'll have anxiety and insomnia, keeping you awake through your exhausted suicidal depression. But, this is the payback for polydrug abuse. What goes up must come down.

In September 2013 I escaped addiction by swapping from supercrack to dexedrine and then tapering my dose down. I further cushioned the blow by using zopiclone to get my sleep back on track. It was relatively easy and painless, especially as I also completely changed my whole environment by moving to London and reconnecting with old friends. I got a new girlfriend and started helping my homeless friend, Frank.

Drug addiction is a teeny tiny bit about the brain chemistry, and it's a whole lot more about toxic environments. Believe me, the more stress, disruption, isolation and mistreatment is perpetrated against me, the more I'm itching to pull the "fuck it" trigger.

Drug addiction is both an easy and a difficult existence. If you haven't got the guts to actually end your life quickly and cleanly, it will get you to your grave faster than you think. I think every addict knows where they're headed, but they don't give a fuck because everybody else is pushing them down that road too.

You would have thought that addicts would be our most cared for and nurtured members of society, because they're pretty much walking around with a noose around their neck, advertising their intention to kill themself. However, my experience was that my own parents and ex-wife couldn't wait to see me dead and buried.

When I eventually accepted that experimentation had become addiction and I needed professional help, I said to my ex-wife that I needed a 28-day detox. She said she would rather that I died. She actually categorically said that she would rather be a widow. These were her words. This was not a general comment. This was her saying that she would prefer it if I didn't have 28 days treatment and get better. This was her saying that what she wanted was for me to die, not get better.

When I got clean and moved back to London, my parents essentially made the same choice. Rather than honour their unsolicited offer to profit from my need for a bridging loan, they saw the opportunity to pull the rug out from under my feet and plunge me back into chaos, stress and destruction.

When things are going wrong now, I assume that I'm totally alone, and that everybody is totally hostile. I assume that doors are going to be kicked in by an abusive and violent ex or parent. I assume that treatment is going to be withheld. I assume that people would rather that I was dead.

Abuse leaves psychological scars. Calling somebody a liar, and treating them disrespectfully denies them any self esteem. Pulling away a person's means of supporting themself, and generally attacking their opportunities to escape and recover is not proof that the person is a failure and vindication of your decision to fuck them over. Let's take a look at cause and effect.

Drug addiction is a place that a person turns to when their life is unliveable. The more you mistreat a person and deny them any opportunity to recover, the more they're going to say "fuck it" and go back to killing themself slowly.

Recovery can be quick and painless if action is swift, decisive and early intervention is taken. Addiction is like a house on fire. The sooner you put out the fire, the more of the house you save. There's no point sitting around to see if the fire goes out, and then putting out half the fire. "The fire is mostly out" or "we'll just put a bit of water on the fire and see if things improve" is just utter bullshit. You're looking for an excuse to fail that person if you act like that.

I'm angry.

I don't know if this is coming across. I'm really fucking angry.

I'm spinning everything like I'm a victim. Well, that's because I'm sick of victim blaming. I know that taking the position of the victim is not a good place to start, but it's maddening because the facts are clear: the strong have exploited the weak, and tried to kick a vulnerable person into an early grave. Secrets die with a person, and it's a lot easier if a victim is dead.

I made plans for my business and my future based on the idea that I had a loving, supportive partner. I made plans based on a "for richer, for poorer" and "in sickness and in health" marriage vow that we made to each other. I made divorce and recovery plans based on an unsolicited offer of support from my parents. Parents are supposed to support their children. People are supposed to honour their word. Plans are based on agreements.

How can you make any plans or do anything if nobody keeps their word? How can anything function without people acting with a shred of integrity.

I paid for nonjudgemental reliable support, at great personal expense. The rest I did on my fucking own. Who the fuck got me out of the park and into a hostel? Who the fuck got me out of the hostel into a contract and a hotel? Who the fuck got me out of the hotel and into a flat? Who the fuck got me more contracts when the previous ones didn't work out for long enough for me to get ahead?

Recovering from depression, bipolar disorder, the destruction of your business, ruining of your career reputation, divorce, the selling off of your home and the giveaway of many of your precious possessions, having to relocate across the country, having to re-establish your life again. You think that comes easily? You think that comes cheaply? You think that can be done all on your own? You think that can be done while people jeer and take the piss from the sidelines, calling you horrible names and creating additional obstacles for you?

Now, sprinkle in substance abuse.

Drug addiction is the easy part. I should be getting a fucking ticker-tape parade for what I've been through. I should get a fucking gold medal. I should get my picture in the motherfucking paper, with lots of quotes from all my adoring fans.

Some drug addicts are driven to lie, cheat and steal. We are told that addicts leave dirty needles in children's playgrounds and try to sell drugs to your kids to get them hooked.

What exactly could anybody's problem be with me? I've paid for all my own treatment. I've never stolen any money to buy drugs. I never even bought drugs from anybody who could conceivably be accused of putting money into crime and terrorism. All I've ever wanted to do is get back to London, and restabilise myself.

What does stability look like?

Like this:

  • Place to live
  • Income to pay for food & accommodation
  • Social contact
  • Free from debt and financial stress

And I've come to realise it also means:

  • No more toxic people in my life: especially my parents
  • No more klingons: I can't carry any dead wood
  • No more arbitrary measures: being teetotal is unnecessary. I'm going to do whatever works.
  • No more shame: I've got nothing to be ashamed of

The compromises, sacrifices and things that I put up with to keep hope alive are not inconsiderable. My adherence to integrity and personal standards means that I am taking on additional challenges that I could easily circumvent by simply declaring bankruptcy and depositing myself in the care of the welfare state.

I've paid an absolute fucktonne of tax in my life, so I should feel entitled to a handout, but I don't. I don't want a life that's dependent on the state giving me a small amount of the money back that I've paid into the national purse. I'm proud and I've worked hard all my life. I've worked hard to dig myself out of a very deep hole, and I deserve a fucking break.

I'm writing this now, completely free from any drugs. My mind is my own. I have let my brain recover, and now I have nothing but pure rational thought.

Where's my money gone? It's been spent on surviving. It's been spent on keeping the possibility of recovery alive.

Recovery from drugs?


Recovery from the shit that drove me into the arms of addiction.

Will I be able to recreate the past, and get back the things I lost? No, never. Of course not!

So, am I bitter and full of regret?

Actually, I'm working my bollocks off just as hard as I've always done throughout my life FOR THE FUTURE. In 4 or 5 months I could be back in the same financial position that I was in before everything imploded, except I will be in pole position to continue at a much accelerated pace. I have a much greater chance of building a happy new life, now that I am rid of the toxic people who sabotaged everything I had worked so hard to build.

Every day in the rat race is an unpleasant reminder of the fact that I got screwed over, and this is the source of my bitter rants. I am tired. It has been exhausting to rescue things.

But, it's in my nature to build and repair. It's in my nature to look to the future, not look to the past. The only reason I do look to the past, is that I'm saddled with the consequences of being dumped in the shit by people who let me down and broke their promises.

In the world of startups we talk about a pivot. Take your lessons learned from going in one direction, and take them in another to find your sustainable competitive advantage.

Through this fucked up world of pain that I've been through, I've found several important stories that need to be told.

There is the story of the people who are disadvantaged. Those who are discriminated against because they have mental health problems or who have struggled with addiction. There are society's undesirable members. There is the issue of homelessness, and the harsh and uncaring world that waits for single people who fall on hard times. There is the arms race in the war on drugs, with legal highs and the cat and mouse game between chemists and governments. There is the battle that rages inside our heads: mania and depression. There are the differences in perception: who is mad and who is sane.

A rich white middle class investment bank employee, IT consultant, software engineer, homeowner, husband and neatly presented boy with good manners, well educated and well behaved. Young, fit and active. Adventurous, outgoing and gregarious.

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.

The stories have got to be told.





6 min read

This is a story about star quality...

Cambridge Union

Hey! Is that Nick Grant pitching a Dragons Den panel at Cambridge Union? Isn't that the same podium in Cambridge where UK prime ministers and US presidents have wowed crowds? Isn't that the same podium where the world's best and brightest have stood? Yes. Yes it is.

If you're into astrology, you should know I'm a Leo. Apparently this means that I adore being the centre of attention. However, I've always had somebody yelling louder than me for the spotlight to be directed onto them.

Growing up, my dad had this horse-shit narrative about how cool he was because he took drugs. My childhood achievements were nothing compared to the amount of drugs and alcohol he could consume. Growing up, life was all about worshipping how smart he was for obtaining and taking intoxicating substances. Woo!

My longest relationship, with the girl who my friends affectionately called "the poison dwarf" was dominated by her tantrums if the attention was diverted from her. She completely ruined our joint birthday and engagement party, simply because her unpleasant nature had brought her few friends in life, and the event was mainly my friends, despite my efforts to help her encourage people from her own social circle to attend.

OK, I'm not that humble, but I'm not that arrogant either. If I'm bigging myself up, it's because it's a defence mechanism because I've been dragged down by my own parents, bullies and an abusive ex-wife. I've had a rough fucking ride, so let me have this one, OK?

I haven't lost perspective. I'm well aware that my achievements amount to nothing. I never got so much as a "well done" out of my parents for everything I've ever accomplished. It's tough fucking going, living life with insufferable cunts who just want to see you fail.

Normally, when things are going well, people are supportive and want to help you to continue to achieve your potential in life. Not so, in most of my story to date.

Often times startup founders receive their initial funding from friends and family. My friends contributed generously to my ambitions to build a profitable business, and they were repaid with the dividends from the company. My own parents saw no potential in what I was doing, even though billionaire investors took me under their wing and agreed to help my co-founder and I to build a valuable business. My ex-wife took particularly cruel delight in watching my dreams get shattered.

Yes, I'm subject the fatal flaw of a little too much desire to be loved and liked. When an acting coach suggested that we try my co-founder out to see if he was any better at delivering an investor pitch, I was mortified by the idea that I wouldn't get my moment of fame. For sure, I'm subject to big-headedness and delusions of grandeur as much as the next person, but in a way, I can argue that I deserved my little headlining moment, because I had always been kicked to the sidelines by self-centred parents and partners.

You know what? Give your kids their moment of fame. Let your kids bask in a bit of adoration. Don't hoover it all up for yourselves. You know what your input was? You had sex. Well done. Gold star. But that's nothing that every couple didn't already do for hundreds of millions of years. All you did was do what your fucking body was programmed to do. Now get the fuck out of the spotlight and let your kid enjoy their little moment. Your time is over. It's no longer your chance to shine. It's your moment to tell your kid well done, and that you're proud of them.

Butt the fuck out and acknowledge a good performance when you see one. Congratulate your fucking kid on their hard work and try and pretend like you're pleased, even if you're too fucking drug addled and self centred to even see straight.

You know what else? I'm fucking taking this one. I'm fucking taking this moment to tell myself well done, because nobody in my family is going to. My ex-wife isn't going to. Basically, the people who mattered most to me when some fairly monumental stuff happened to me in my life couldn't have given two shits about anything that wasn't to do with them and their selfish fucking world, so I'm going to relive this little moment and applaud myself.

Well fucking done me.

It ain't fucking easy battling for your moment of fame. It ain't fucking easy getting that chance, and then performing when it matters. It ain't fucking easy at all. And what's it all for if the people who you think care about you couldn't give a toss?

Well, guess what? I had that limelight. Not because I was a drug-taking fucktard like my parents, but because I worked hard to get that opportunity. I had that opportunity, not because I demanded it and stole it from my child, but because I wanted to impress, because I wanted to do something great.

Isn't that awful, that my parents made my entire childhood about them, shoving me into a dark corner so they could harvest all the ill-gotten attention? Isn't that awful, that my longest relationship was dominated by an abusive partner who demanded that the spotlight was always directed on her, and abused me to the point that I lost my confidence and became a withdrawn and shattered version of my former self?

Bygones. Regrets. Yes.

I'm just telling the story because nobody else is going to tell it. If you ask my parents they'll tell you that I was an evil waste of space who never achieved anything, and that's plain wrong.

This is me sticking up for myself. This is me fighting against the complete collapse of my self esteem that will render me hopelessly suicidally depressed. This is my defence mechanism.

I'm sorry if this comes across as arrogant or self-centred. I hope it comes across in the context of my desperately low sense of self-worth, given how I've been treated most of my life. I need a little pride and self confidence to be able to continue.

God damn, I'm so low right now.




Why You Should Never Marry a Partner Who Cheats

6 min read

This is a story about what people do when they think nobody is watching...

Hawaii wedding

Integrity. What does it mean to have integrity? Let's explore a hypothetical example.

The year is 2011. I'm running a profitable tech startup called Hubflow, and we have just been through a 13-week TechStars network technology accelerator program in Cambridge, run by Jon Bradford and Jess Williamson. We have a bunch of investors who are ready to help us raise a seed round. Mike Butcher has written about us in TechCrunch. We are kicking arse.

The sticking point that is stressing me out is that my partner won't support me. My company needs to relocate to London, Cambridge or somewhere on the M4 corridor so that I can hire the talent I need and get to my customers and investors whenever I need to see them. My partner is a teacher. She can literally work anywhere in the country.


I financially supported my partner through her retraining to be a teacher. She had a huge income drop, when she left the investment bank where we both worked, but I made sure that she still enjoyed the 5-star luxury lifestyle that she had gotten used to with me.

Even when I quit my salaried job so that I could build my startup, I had substantial savings and profits, to allow us to maintain the same standard of living. I had bankrolled her when she wanted to make a career change, and she'd never had to tighten her belt or compromise.

This was now my turn to shine. I had done it. I had built a profitable company with a good valuation that was ready for investment to take it to the next stage. It was now time to leave the sleepy little seaside town where we lived and move things closer to the action.

My co-founder had left his pregnant partner behind in his home town, to come and live with me in Cambridge for several months, while we built our business together and got ourselves ready for investment. He had made sacrifices and compromises with his growing family. Now it was the turn of my partner to step up and make a small compromise herself.

However, she wouldn't budge an inch.

I could have left her. And perhaps - in hindsight - that's what I should have done. She had never been very kind or supportive. In fact, she was pretty mean spirited and selfish. I don't know why I stayed loyal to her. I'd had opportunities to fool around while I was working away from home, in Boulder, Colorado, in London or in Cambridge, but I stayed faithful. I stayed faithful because I have integrity.

I then got very depressed. She had refused any kind of compromise. I had to leave her, or my business was screwed. There was no way that me and my co-founder could make it work over such a geographical hurdle. We needed to be together, on the ground, raising money and winning more customers. And we were so close. It was heartbreaking.

By the time Christmas rolled around that year, I had gotten so depressed and suicidal that I was hospitalised. My unsupportive mean ex had instructed my parents to come and take me away, and had involved my doctor, all against my wishes. This was an incredible betrayal. Now she wanted me removed from my own home, that I had bought and paid for. This was a horrible act of selfishness.

Before I was literally dragged away by my Dad, I decided to install a keystroke logger on my personal laptop, which was running my personal account & password. This was clearly an act of paranoia, due to the fact that I was extremely mentally unwell, having recently been released from a mental hospital. Clearly I was out of my mind.

I was driven away from my home, my business, my friends, my possessions, to a village where I had never lived since the age of 4, where I have no friends. Miles away from any cities where I had business contacts, investors, customers. I had just been totally fucked over. This was not in my best interests. I didn't even have a doctor or a psychiatrist nearby.

So then, was my partner interested in my wellbeing? Did she call to see how I was? Was she concerned about me getting better?

I thought it rather strange that she wasn't at all involved in trying to 'help' me, now that I was out of the way. In fact, it was rather strange that all the 'help' was simply to tell people to remove me from my own home. Must have been more paranoia though, right? I was mentally ill, remember?

I levelled my accusations about being dumped like this, and dragged away from everything I held dear. My partner and parents conspired to keep me trapped in this shitty village in the middle of nowhere. They even involved the police "for my welfare".

Anyway, after about a week of this shit, I decided to see if anybody had been using my laptop with my username and password. Strangely enough, and totally co-incidentally, they had been.

On examination of the logs, it looked like somebody had used my laptop and username to set themselves up an online dating profile and start messaging men. How strange. How curious.

Surely this could not have been my partner, for if she was using a computer at all, I'm sure it would have been to research the best possible treatment available for me, or to better understand what had happened to me, so that she could be as loving and supportive as possible, no?

My partner continued to treat me like utter shit and told me that any suggestion I made that she was not acting in my best interests, was purely in my imagination and fuelled by mental illness, paranoia.

Finally, I showed my hand, and she back-pedalled rapidly, begging my forgiveness and swearing that it was all a misguided mistake. She suddenly became nice as pie and started treating me with a tiny fraction of the respect and decency that I deserved.

I then had a brief taste of how I should have been treated all along, and it was nice. My stupid mistake was to then marry the evil *****. A leopard never changes its spots.

Be careful if you get mentally ill with a vindictive, selfish, mean-spirited little **** of a partner, because they might just try to chuck you out of your own house and replace you.




What the Fuck am I Doing in London Anyway?

13 min read

This is a story about deja vu...

Bus ride home

What the fuck am I still doing here? This is the endgame, surely ?

Around the year 2000, I moved to the Angel Islington, and lived right next door to where Boris Johnson now lives on Colebrooke Row, just by Upper Street. I revere my time there as the best time of my life. I had a pretty girlfriend, lived with two strippers in an achingly trendy area of London, had a red sports car, went kitesurfing every weekend and generally lived the high life. What the actual fuck went wrong?

It had always been the plan to live and work in London, and I'd pretty much lived and worked in the Big Smoke since the late 1990s. I had fallen in love with glamorous West London on cultural museum trips with my mother, to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, like all well mannered little boys who are supposedly destined for great things, in the eyes of their pushy parents.

What was attractive about London, in my mind, was the tube. The tube epitomised freedom for me. I just wanted to ride the metropolitan transportation system all over town, on my own.

There's something about an A to Z map of London that's wonderful. The colour of it, with all the intricate streets. The index is an impenetrable list of roads and lanes. There are pages and pages of brightly illustrated street maps, and it seems like you could never truly know every nook and cranny of London. The very complexity of London is its entire draw, its appeal.

Having discovered drugs in my late teens - namely Ecstasy - London was clearly the place to rave. Under the grubby railway arches, and in grim venues in dingy suburbs. There was always some unlikely place that was attracting the best DJs, despite the fact that everywhere looks largely the same when it's dark and you're off your head on pills.

Of course I went to the superclubs. The Ministry of Sound was the first club I ever went to, as a friend was able to get me on the guest-list. Seeing DJs Sasha and Pete Tong play in The Box was a precious moment, and I hadn't even discovered the joys of MDMA at that point. I just liked the music, the atmosphere.

I saw DJ Paul Oakenfold play a set where he was paid a record-breaking fee, at an ill-fated club on Leicester Square, that had none of the character or charm of the grimy places that were in otherwise unusable parts of London, due to the noise pollution of nearby rail or tube trains.

The goods yard, out the back of King's Cross was one particular mecca for the clubbers of the 90s. Bagley's Studios and The Cross were legendary, and The Scala wasn't far away.

I can remember the opening of clubs like Fabric, as if they were the new kids on the block. I still think of the East London clubs as the newer challengers to the well-established set of clubs in North London, the railway arches of Vauxhall, and Brixton.

I remember when the Ministry of Sound chucked out all the drug dealers, and it became a tourist attraction, bereft of any heart & soul.

Turbo mitsubishi

Here's the tablet that launched more brilliant nights than I care to remember. Reminiscing about drug taking experiences is probably not healthy or useful, but there we go. There's no denying the past. This was a formative period, and perhaps defined my entire adult existence.

It's a strange Catch 22. I could never live anywhere outside London. I just can't survive, thrive. However, London is brutal. The crowds are relentless. The stimulation of your senses is overwhelming. There is nothing ordered, clean, predictable. It's not in the least bit relaxing.

But, there is the very essence of the city: in the place where you can never quite be off-guard, and fully relaxed, how would you ever re-adjust to a slower pace of life? How can you sleep at night without the sirens, horns and dull rumble of traffic and aeroplanes overhead? How could you feel alive, without humanity all around you, at all times?

When you go clubbing, you are crammed into an overcrowded venue, pressed together with other sweaty bodies. There is no personal space. You literally have to barge people out of the way to get to the toilets or to the bar. You are bumping into people all the time, for hours and hours of dancing. Nobody loses their cool. In fact quite the opposite. You flash smiles to hundreds, maybe thousands of strangers. You hug. You share your energy with strangers and together you build a crescendo of frenzied dancing.

I've arrived at this weekend, feeling exhausted and depressed, and like I just want to sleep for the whole time.

I travel on the tube every day, and there is all the invasion of personal space but none of the celebration of the brilliant experience that is dance, trance and magic plants. People are silent, unsmiling. It must be hard to understand why anybody would subject themselves to the daily onslaught that you experience in London's brutal rat race.

I forgot...

I used to live for the weekends. I could put up with any amount of boredom, because there was always going to be another weekend of smiles, of pure ecstasy. Yes, I was tired, my feet hurt and I wanted to cry around the middle of the week, but the cycle carried me along. There was anticipation that started to build on Thursday, and on the Friday I was happy because it was nearly the weekend.

This is how so many people live - living for the weekends - and it's all I've known all my adult life. I'm not built for consistency. I'm not built for Monday to Friday. I'm built for Saturday & Sunday.

My life is unliveable, miserable, depressing. Without my weekend fix of dancing & drugs, I'm absolutely fucked.

I flipped my addiction to clubbing over into an addiction to kitesurfing at weekends, in my mid twenties, but it was exactly the same kind of rhythm and routine. The pursuit of adrenalin neatly slotted into my life and replaced the pursuit of MDMA and pounding techno music.

My life is incomplete at the moment, and it's leading me to drink to numb the pain, boredom, lack of purpose, lack of direction, loneliness.

Never too late

I'm not sure whether I'm going to get those pieces of the puzzle back in place in time. I'm writing now - at 3am - because my soul is screaming out for something that it's been deprived of for so long. I'm crying now as I write this. I'm sobbing my eyes out, as the waves of emotion sweep over me, as I realise how unfulfilled and empty my life has been.

I need kites and I need a vehicle to get to the coast. These are simple practical considerations, but you have no idea how dysfunctional my life has been. It seems like I'm close, as money is now flooding in from my latest contract, but everything is so finely balanced, so fragile.

It's never too late to start over, but the more broken things become, the harder the journey back to the safe road. I don't even give a shit about trite platitudes, or other people's attempts to tell me that they've been through some rough times too. I know how close I've come to prematurely reaching the end of my rope, and if that sounds melodramatic, you can go fuck yourself.

What I know about hardship, fear, challenges and hard work, is that it all looks very different when you're looking back. "That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be" is something we often think. But, the truth is, it was fucking hard... it's just that once you've been through it you're flooded with the sense of relief. When you've pulled through, you're full of joy that you made it, and that colours your memories, so you don't remember just how fucked you were, and how awful things were.

I've got this problem, where I'm thinking "I've already overcome obstacles like this before". Getting an IT contract, finding a place to live, making friends, finding a passion, overcoming boredom and loneliness... these are problems I've already solved once in my life. It was awful when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I had forgotten. It's just as shit now I'm in my mid 30s, even though I have all the advantages of knowing how to do it all over again, and knowing that I can do it.

There's a temptation to re-live my youth. I wanted to go out dancing and take drugs, tonight.

There's no reason why it wouldn't work. Every time I've tried to re-apply the well proven formula to my life, it's worked just the same as it did nearly 20 years ago.

However, I don't have to repeat the steps. I know that kitesurfing brought me more happiness than clubbing and taking drugs, so I can skip that step. It's hard though... because I know that I can walk out of my front door and go dancing pretty much any night of the week, for the modest cost of the entry fee and a few cans of Red Bull.

Pascha London

Hopefully, I will choose to do something at least a bit positive - like going dancing - rather than killing myself, but life is tough as fuck at the moment. You might think "he's been working for months and he earns a buttload of cash" but you've failed to see the reality: my life is desperate, unsustainable.

Life's not all about pleasing your boss and earning heaps of cash. It's a good start, but that's the easy part, in actual fact. I'm employing strategies that I learned when I was 19 years old, when I first started IT contracting. Nothing's changed there. But do I want to go back to how I felt when I was 19? I was so lonely, so depressed, and didn't know how to express my feelings and solve my distress.

Where do we run to in times of great stress and need? We run to places of known sanctuary. For some people that might be their family home. For others it might be drink or a drug. For me, it's London and clubbing, IT contracting and the gentrified life of the yuppie.

I left the misery of parents who I could never please and schools where I was relentlessly bullied and re-invented myself. Ecstasy helped me to love myself and feel connected to humanity, in a way that transcended simple hedonism. I had an identity, and it was all mine. I was secure and happy for the first time in my miserable life.

The detail that's almost irrelevant here is how I was let down by my ex-wife and parents, who were supposedly decent human beings, but turned out to be more selfish and untrustworthy than many strangers who I've had the good fortune to receive assistance from during my eventful return to London.

So, what have we got now? Well, it's a clean slate. It's a chance to start agin. I know the moves to make. I know the magic formula. Everything seems to still work, but the instructions still have to be followed. There are no short-cuts.

I find myself dusting off my CV, contacting agents, putting on my suit, and going out into the world of work again. It's just the same as it ever was. I earn about 25% more than I did when I was 20 years old, which is actually still plenty of money, even though it's 16 years later.

But I'm not 20 years old, and I'm not fumbling my way through life anymore. I know where I'm headed. I'm no longer guessing or making things up as I go along. There's a master plan, and everything is falling into place. But I still can't make the hands of the clock move any faster.

I learned some new tricks. Like benzodiazepines are a good way to wake up one day and wonder what the fuck happened to a large chunk of time. Like supercrack is a good way to kill yourself if you don't have the guts to actually run a blade across your major blood vessels.


However, I can cherry-pick. I can point at times in my life and say "THERE! I want that back!". And why can't I have it back? Why can't I recapture that lost youth? There's no reason that I've found so far.

It just takes time and it's fucking unbearable in the 'short' term. It's fucking unbearable because I've been here before, and I know how bad it was then, but it's twice as bad now, because I know just how hard it was to climb up the greasy pole once already, and I know that there's no rushing things, no short-cut.

Very few people, perhaps even nobody, can follow my thought process. Until I present a fait accompli nobody can see and understand where I was headed all along. You think this is fucking luck, that I am where I am? You think that through all the ups and downs, dead ends and disruption, there isn't still a single thread that guides all this? You think there isn't a goal? You think there isn't a fucking plan?

Yes, it's lucky that I haven't sustained life-altering injuries, brain damage. It's lucky that I've escaped prison and a criminal record. It's lucky that I've avoided bankruptcy. It's lucky that I'm no longer homeless, drug addicted or unemployed. But those things were never part of the plan, so is it luck?

There's no arrogance here, only frustration that people and events have gotten in my way. Only frustration that promises have been broken, and people haven't gotten with the program and supported me. Only frustration that those who have sought to thwart me or try to ride my coat tails have had to be cut out of my life, like a cancer. Only frustration that a whole heap of unnecessary shit has delayed me from reaching the original goal I've had all along.

I'd say "don't get in my way" but I don't operate like that. If you share the risks, you share the rewards. I don't think it's delusional to say that I add value wherever I go. I build, I improve, I inspire, I share, I teach, I take whatever resources I'm given and make them into something greater than the sum of their parts. If I'm not doing this, then I have truly lost touch with reality and I don't deserve to be alive.

I've mentioned this, but we used to say "Peace, Love, Unity, Respect" when we were raving. We were loved up, and we knew how to wear our hearts on our sleeves and be kind to one another.

London and its inhabitants have done more to keep me alive and make me happy than my parents and 99% of the people who I went to school with, so why wouldn't I consider myself reborn into this great sprawling metropolis? I couldn't live anywhere else. I could never leave.

That's what the fuck I'm doing in London, and I'm so fucking close to making a breakthrough.




Regression Therapy

10 min read

This is a story about hypnosis...

Many mes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Round window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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