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

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

All opinions are my own.

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Hitting the Wall

3 min read

This is a story about having a breakdown...

Broken glass

This broken glass in my sink is symptomatic of whatever the hell is happening to me at the moment. I'm too exhausted to get out of bed. I sleep all night, then I sleep all day, then I'm sleepy and clumsy and I knock glasses into the sink, but I'm too exhausted to safely dispose of the shards of broken glass.

I knew I was tired. I knew I needed a holiday. A proper holiday, which was relaxing and allowed me to recharge the batteries. I basically needed two weeks in a hot country, with no pressure or responsibility or guilt or financial stress or any of the other things which have completely and utterly exhausted me.

I knew I was close to breaking point. How long had I been complaining for? How long had the warning signs been present for?

I've started to screw up. I should be showing my face in the office. I should be attending work social events. I should be on top form and leaving a good impression everywhere I go. Instead, I'm making mistakes; I'm unreliable, clumsy.

When things start falling apart it can set off a domino-like chain of events. My life feels like it's imploded. Nothing's going my way and I don't have the energy to fix anything, or even clean up the mess properly.

It's strange. I don't feel as suicidal as I have done in the past, so it makes me think that this must be something physical. Maybe I'm just completely physically exhausted. Being stressed out is hard on the body, I think, being so tense all the time. I know I'm depressed, but I don't feel like the exhaustion is just a mental problem.

I feel like I've destroyed the good reputation I worked so hard to build, while also at the same time, I'm losing confidence in my own abilities. I've always been able to bounce back from setbacks. I've always been able to save myself from disaster. I'm worried I can't pull off those escape-artist tricks anymore.

I'm in a lot better position than I was this time last year, but it's been a year from hell. I'm in a lot better position, but that's not saying much. It would be pretty hard to be in a worse position than the one I was in last year.

Yes, things are not the very worst that they've ever been in my life, but they're still pretty dire by most people's standards.

The trouble is, I've started to go backwards; I've started to sink.

 

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Sugar Craving, Caffeine Addicted, Alcohol Dependent

4 min read

This is a story about shelf life...

Red bull cans

Objectively comparing feelings at different times in your life is a virtually impossible task. What you would have described as 'low' mood a few years ago might have now become your new standard for a 'good' day. All I can tell you is that I don't remember ever feeling as tired as I have felt today.

I spent 5 hours driving, 7 hours waiting around in airports and 5 hours flying, which was all exhausting. However, in the last week or so there's something else that's been quite different about my behaviour - I've been drinking coffee and energy drinks.

A couple of weeks I desperately needed an extra bit of 'get up and go' to get me through a tough couple of weeks. I reached for caffeine as a crutch. I gave up - although perhaps only temporarily - my many years of caffeine-free existence.

When I was away with my friend over the weekend, it was tempting to just move from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant, café to café. We drank fizzy drinks, strong European coffee, had ice-creams and I drank quite a lot of beer. We guzzled sugar, caffeine, and I had plenty of alcohol.

Yesterday, because I had to drive home from the airport, I had to stay sober all day. I also didn't want to be wired and jittery from having loads of coffee. I was exhausted, so I wanted to sleep on the plane ride, so that I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel while driving home.

I think to say "alcohol dependent" is an over-exaggeration, but having slept most of the day, and generally felt like everything was far too much effort, it was the lure of alcohol that finally managed to get me off the sofa and out of the house.

If you look at most of my behaviour, it's motivated by the tiny dopamine hits from sugar, caffeine and the mellowing effect of alcohol. I used to ride a dreadful chemical carousel when I was a lot younger, working in London: I would have 8 or more espresso shots a day, and then had to have a bottle of red wine at night in order to be able to sleep. It was a vicious see-saw of uppers and downers, that were quite legal and indeed the consumption of coffee and alcohol was quite ubiquitous amongst my friends and work colleagues.

I've felt like my sleep quality has improved and I find it a lot easier to get up in the mornings, since going caffeine-free.

I've never really managed to get rid of alcohol completely. I find that I suffer terrible anxiety and depression whenever I try to stop drinking.

Sugar is something I have a mixed relationship with. I crave it like crazy when I'm tired. When I'm well rested I don't have a very sweet tooth at all. I think I associate sugar with getting an energy boost, which in fact never happens. If I'm craving sugar I should probably take a nap.

There's nothing to say that caffeine is particularly bad for you, and in fact there's good evidence that it has a neuro-protective effect against dementia in older people, but anecdotally I can definitely report feeling improved mood, energy and sleep, since cutting my caffeine intake to zero.

Sugar is obviously fattening, and is very unhealthy, although an essential part of our diet - every cell in our body is powered by glucose, so any faddy sugar-free low-carb diets are pure idiocy.

Alcohol is fattening and seems to have a firm grip on me, even if I'm not physically dependent on it. The strength of the cravings I have for alcohol are quite shocking, and the regularity and quantity I consume is definitely unhealthy. I would like to cut down, or even quit for a while, but I'm never quite able to.

In short, I'm feeling really tired, old and unhealthy. My mood is dreadfully low, I'm lacking motivation and I seem to have lost all enjoyment of life.

I wonder if I'm past my sell-by date.

 

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Blind

4 min read

This is a story about living on the edge...

Broken blind

Strangely, this broken blind is the only thing that's keeping me safe at the moment. I could replace the blind, but then I'd lose the safety that it gives me. I deliberately chose an apartment with a ground-floor bedroom with terrible blinds, because of the lack of privacy. It's strange, but this lack of privacy - this broken blind - is keeping me safe.

It's been 21 consecutive months since I had a proper holiday. For two consecutive Christmasses I've been with a family that's not my own, which has meant the exhaustion of being on best behaviour, and struggling to adjust to the unique way that those families observe the festive season. Other than that, I've had some long weekends, but not a proper break. A lot of the time in the last 21 months, I've had the threat of bankruptcy, eviction, destitution and homelessness hanging over me. A lot of the time in the last 21 months, I've been recovering from illness, which has seen me hospitalised. A lot of the time in the last 21 months, I've been very sick.

I'm exhausted.

I'm burnt out.

I'm sick and tired of working my bollocks off, being responsible and working hard when I'm too sick to shoulder that burden. I should really have declared bankruptcy and put myself at the mercy of the state, to house me and to give me a pitiful welfare payment so I could buy a few cans of baked beans, and otherwise live like a pauper - at least this torture would've been over.

I left work, I went to the supermarket, I drove home, I washed up, I put some laundry in the washing machine, I tidied up, I put the shopping away, I cleaned the kitchen, I hoovered the carpet. All in a day's work, but I've already done a day's work. I've done 21 consecutive months of work without a proper holiday.

You might not think it's work, being sick, but it's certainly not holiday. You might not think it's work, recovering from illness, but it's certainly not holiday... and it's certainly not restful when you're running out of money and you're worried you're going to be evicted. You might not think it's work, spending Christmas with people you only just met, but it's exhausting to be on best behaviour and minding your manners; making smalltalk with everybody and asking all the right questions that would be expected in polite middle-class company. You might think I've been on a jolly holiday for the last 21 months, but I haven't. I've moved house 4 times, been hospitalised 3 times, been sectioned, had various crisis visits from psychiatrists, doctors, social workers and the like, plus I've been dreadfully sick... both physically and mentally. I've not been having a jolly holiday.

I've had enough. I want to abandon my responsibilities. I want to give up.

I'm exhausted and I want to give up.

The only thing keeping me safe is that blind.

So long as I keep that blind deliberately broken, anybody can spy on me; peek into my world.

If I had perfect privacy I think I'd just give up; I'd relapse. If I thought that I could withdraw into a private world - close the curtains and pretend the world's not there - then I'd do it in a flash because I'm so exhausted and fed up with the relentless never-ending saga of month after month of work, work, work.

I've done well to get to this point, but I'm pretty much spent. Every penny I've earned has gone on rent, bills, interest and living expenses. I feel like I've got very little to show for my efforts, but I do have an apartment, a car, a job, a girlfriend and some new friends. I feel like I've made very little progress, but I've managed to get myself into a good position to start to dig myself out of the hole... but I'm exhausted and I've hit the wall. I'm burnt out; I'm frazzled. I'm a wreck.

That blind is broken and it means I have no privacy. It's a funny thing to keep me safe, but I knew it would. I'm really on a knife-edge though. I could so easily throw everything away and say "fuck it" because I'm just too damn tired to go on.

I'm really at my wits end. I really need a holiday.

 

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