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I'm a writer. I write about life with bipolar disorder - also known as manic depression - so my eponymous alter ego is MaNic Grant.

I've written more than 1 million words: it's the world's longest suicide note.



11 min read

This is a story about 24-hour party people...

Oxford Tube

Here's a photo taken at 4am, capturing my journey away from everything that was good about my life - my friends, my startup, my future - back to the life that I was trying to escape; back to my wife and my house. I was in the process of separation and divorce. I was in the process of selling my house. I was in the process of beginning my life all over again - a fresh start; a clean slate.

Why am I showing you this?

It was incredibly disruptive and destructive that I had to leave my fragile embryonic new life to fulfil the mundane and trivial bureaucratic administrative task of liquidating my assets. All I wanted was to get away from the life that had become a nightmare; specifically not be dragged back into my toxic old life for the sake of something so meaningless as material possessions and money.

"Take as much as you want. Take whatever you want. Just don't destroy me" I begged of my ex-wife. All I wanted was a chance to be allowed to rebuild my shattered life. Her life was unaffected: she had her friends, her career, her home town, the support of vast numbers of people all around her. My life had been destroyed by our relationship and somewhat consequent mental health crisis. It wouldn't be fair to lay the blame at her door, but I had failed to walk away when I was strong and I had become incredibly weak and vulnerable. She was strong and I was fucked.

I tried to explain to a close friend that I felt like I was always a few hours, few days or few weeks behind where I needed to be. Everything I needed was tantalisingly within my reach, but the things I needed to happen fast were always deliberately thwarted and delayed by people who didn't give a damn whether I lived or died.

Unfortunately, I had lagged behind and I could never catch up. I was fucked.

My ex-wife demanded a £7,000 bribe in order to not sabotage the quick sale of my house. It was blackmail, plain and simple. I managed to raise £5,000 but she wouldn't accept it. She destroyed the deal I'd struck with a cash buyer who wanted to complete the house sale within 6 weeks. In the end, the house sale took 6 months because of her acts of deliberate sabotage.

I needed money but I couldn't raise enough to avoid getting into financial difficulties. I was being bankrupted by those who supposedly loved and cared about me. It was a ridiculous situation, because I was liquidating my highest value asset, which guaranteed that everyone was going to get paid back as soon as my damn ex-wife stopped sabotaging and delaying the house sale, but my "nearest and dearest" are absolute cunts, with the exception of my sister, who offered me every penny she could lay her hands on. My kind and caring sister has the least amount of savings and disposable income of anybody I know; she's the most hard-up, but she immediately grasped the gravity of my situation and was prepared to do everything in her power to help me.

I didn't borrow from my sister. I didn't borrow from my parents. I didn't borrow from my family. I didn't borrow from my friends.

I took the £5,000 which my ex-wife said wasn't enough to meet her blackmail demand, and I bought Bitcoins at an average price of $123 each. At the time the exchange rate was roughly $1.60 per £1, which equates to 65 Bitcoins. The value of those 65 bitcoins at more-or-less the same time as my house was finally sold, was approximately $80,000, which was lucky because my ex-wife was refusing to release my fucking money until our divorce was finalised.

That total cunt was trying to ruin me.

My parents were trying to ruin me.

My family - with the exception of my sister - were being a bunch of cunts.

Hence why I don't talk to any of them anymore, except my sister.

I'm a bad brother.

I'm a bad uncle.

I'm the black sheep of the family... well, almost. My parents and the wider family tried to make it stick, but they didn't manage to ruin me despite their best attempts. Despite their most thorough and diligent efforts in pursuit of my ruination, I refused to let them do that to me - to destroy me and forever have a convenient scapegoat for all the family's problems; to have successfully artificially created a failure who'd be too weak and decimated to ever defend my good name. It's nice to have somebody to blame. I've been blamed by so many. Those who blame me and point the finger far outnumber me. How could I ever stand a chance against the bullies? How could I ever hope to win when I was so outnumbered?

* * *


* * *

I started writing this blog post on Tuesday. I was feeling rushed. I had a date. I was going to the cinema. There wasn't a lot of time before the start of the movie.

I started writing this blog post and I've thought a lot about whether to delete it and start again.

I started writing this blog post, but I've had a lot of time to notice how my feelings change very much from day to day. In the course of writing a short blog post I can become enraged and bitter about things that happened in the past. Although I find writing to be therapeutic in the most part, I can kick a hornets' nest of unresolved anger occasionally. When I start with a certain thread - which many regular readers will have seen repeatedly - I re-live the injustice, frustration and abandonment I suffered, which nearly ruined my life unnecessarily, avoidably and inexcusably, because my parents are a pair of druggie aklie cunts who don't fucking listen to a word I've got to say.

Hence the blog.

I love this blog.

I've got so much to say.

So much of what I say is driven by bitterness, resent, unresolved anger and frustration, a sense of injustice and feeling 'hard done by' and the rational, logical conclusions that I would expect any reasonable person to reach, given the same set of facts.

This is a one-sided story.

I can tell you the things that I think will make you sympathise with my suffering and omit the pieces of the story which are incongruous with my narrative. I can manipulate my readers with a one-sided and heavily biased viewpoint, if that's what I want. I don't have to argue with anybody. I don't have to suffer ad hominem attacks. I don't have to struggle in the unwinnable battle, which comprises little old me against a gang of bullies.

As the days have gone by with this blog unfinished and unpublished, I've thought more and more about how I could write a more balanced viewpoint in the second half. I've thought about toning down my hateful bitter language, which lashes out at people who are very much out of reach and beyond reproach. My parents had managed to selfishly ignore me and my needs throughout my childhood so utterly completely, it's ridiculous to think that there would be any getting through to them as an adult who really needed some help during an acrimonious divorce.

It's me who's got the problem.

My sense of isolation - being ganged up on - is almost indescribably awful, but there is no sense in thinking of myself as a victim. There are a whole shower of cunts who failed in their moral duties, who lacked the basic decency of showing some fucking concern and compassion, and who spectacularly failed to put the slightest fucking effort into the minimum duty of care expected by society. I could get mad. I could get even. Instead, I simply feel no debt to those who are supposedly sworn to keep children safe, or obliged by loyalty, social convention and shared genes, to look after the weak and vulnerable members of a group, tribe, family or other such thing that exists amongst basic fucking decent people.

My mind and my mood flit wildly between rage at being let down during formative years and moments in my life when I was extremely vulnerable, and my more general worldview and philosophy that I should be rational and logical. It's entirely illogical and unhelpful to hold a grudge. It's a complete waste of effort to exert myself, expressing myself at great length and explaining my complex damaged feelings - my trauma - when I'm so absolutely certain that my words fall on the deaf ears of those who inflicted that trauma.

I've been writing almost daily for more than 3 years.

Writing helps.

I don't know what this is - this blog post - but I know that it's an accurate representation of what my inner world is like. I swing violently between moods. I feel sudden gut-wrenching sadness and bitter resentment at how much I feel like I missed out on and was denied, in terms of a healthy normal childhood, free from the kinds of things that children are supposed to be protected from - loneliness, misery, isolation, bullying, abuse, negligence, deprivation. I use those words without much caution, well aware that they carry connotations of life-ruining events for very many unfortunate fellow humans. Should I not use those words, because I took all that anger about how fucking shit it was to be bullied for so many years and I turned it into $1.3 million of Bitcoins, essentially?

This is my fucking life.

My life is full of ridiculous contrast.

You want me to be balanced and unbiased about things? You want me to be objective and empirical? You want me to consider all my experiences versus the entire range of human existence, throughout history?

My ex-wife isn't and wasn't the worst. My parents aren't and weren't the worst. My childhood wasn't the worst.

Am I able to look back and see good as well as good? Yes, of course.

Am I able to recognise that in all likelihood I should have died a horribly drawn-out painful death long ago, caused by a preventable disease, after a lifetime of hunger? Yes, of course.

* * *


* * *

There are so many good reasons to regret what I've written. There are so many good reasons to delete this whole entire blog and allow any memory of this endeavour to be expunged from the digital archives. There are so many good reasons to proceed with life, without living in the past, being consumed by bitterness and anger, and holding grudges.

However, this blog post and indeed this whole website captures the range of moods which had become so destructive in my life as to make me completely dysfunctional. Those moods are driven by quite easily analysed and expressed things, but the resolution of the issues is demonstrably impossible, despite an individual's best efforts, where there are a greater number of others who have a vested interest in seeing somebody dead and buried.

I'm in a difficult phase of being a sore winner now. I dodged the bullets and I proved everyone wrong, with the exception of a tiny handful of very special people who saw my potential and were brave enough to support me.

I have extremely strong views about the way a parent should behave towards their childen, the way that a wife should behave towards her husband, about the way that the strong should behave towards the weak, and the way that the gang should behave towards the isolated loner. I am extremely opinionated about the right-and-wrong of matters concerning those who are in a powerful position; who are able to ruin lives.

I picture myself as a fucked-up scared little kid who doesn't know how the world works, but has gathered incontrovertible evidence that I'm seen-but-not-heard and a convenient punchbag. "That kid fucked up my life" etc. etc.

Of course, I paint a vivid picture for artistic effect. I don't take myself as seriously as I sometimes sound. I'm genuinely well aware that the world is filled with unimaginable suffering.

I would dearly love to demonstrate greater magnanimity, but do you know what? It's too fucking soon and I'm still salty. It's my blog and I'll whine, moan, complain and be a bitter twisted miserable fucker if I want to. Fuck you. I didn't ask to be born.

In case you were wondering, some of the time I am hoping that you will laugh and none of the time I am hoping that you will cry.




On This Day

3 min read

This is a story about anniversaries...

Leg in plaster cast

Today is my niece's 5th birthday. A year later I woke up from my general anaesthetic to this - the emergency repair of a muscle, 4 tendons and 2 nerves, when my leg was guillotined by a huge piece of broken mirror glass. The start of 7 years bad luck, perhaps.

My leg was mostly repaired and back to normal. I went kitesurfing in July 2016 and my leg was fully recovered. Then I got DVT and it caused that leg to swell up to twice its normal size and both my kidneys stopped working. Since then my foot has either been numb or very painful, although the nerve damage has started to repair itself again since I stopped taking powerful painkillers.

This day isn't about me, but in some ways it is. It's my niece's birthday, but I haven't been a very good uncle because my life's mostly been in bits since she was born. Divorce, moving back to London, rehab, homelessness, near-bankruptcy, two suicide attempts, more hospitalisations than I care to remember, psych wards, breakups, people owing me thousands of pounds, getting jobs, working jobs and getting sacked, moving flats, moving to Manchester, drugs and medications, trouble with the police, mental health problems... it's been a rough ride.

How does anybody escape from a shitty situation and get themselves back into civilised society? It takes time and it's really hard. I'm trying to rent a flat and it asks whether I'm renting or living with parents at the moment... the answer is neither. The form asks if I've ever declared bankruptcy... no, but I've been living with the threat of destitution for a very long time. Presumably if I managed to get a couple of black marks against my name I wouldn't have a job or a place to live - a criminal record and a bankruptcy would mean I'd be jobless and homeless and unable to get a job or rent a place to live. I've been so close to finding myself completely shunned by society; marginalised.

I write this stuff and it's really risky. I'm taking a big chance writing this honest stuff about the difficult journey I've been on, but people need to understand how hard it is to get back on your feet after a destructive event like a divorce. Why should I be punished? Why should I be marginalised; rejected by society?

The gatekeepers would have a field day if they found this stuff out about me. I'd be unemployable and homeless, for sure. I'm pretty undateable given the fact I'm not your average regular guy who collects stamps and works in the glue factory. I don't fit neatly inside a box. I'm a "computer says no" kind of guy, if I was to give the honest answers to the questions on the forms, not that I'm exactly lying or being misleading either. I wrote "OTHER: Living with friends" on the damn form.

So, happy birthday to my niece. Maybe I'll be a better uncle in subsequent years if I can get back on my feet.




Stubbornly Refusing to be Cured

12 min read

This is a story about being bloody minded...

Hospital wristband

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




All Your Whales Are Belong To Me

11 min read

This is a story about living out of a suitcase...

Hotel room feast

This is my life now. Spreading mustard and mayonaise onto long-life bread with a shoehorn, placing sweaty pre-cut cheese squares in-between the slices and chowing down on a hotel-room made sandwich, while swigging from a can of strong European lager. This is the life of a business traveller who can't really afford the expenses - I'm faking it until I make it. I'd be sleeping in my car... if I had a car.

It'd be fairly easy to look back on the journey that started with near-certainty that I was going to get sued for non-payment of rent, whilst also being evicted... of course, I had no money. I still don't have any money. I have negative money. I have negative negative LOTS OF DEBT MONEY. When I get paid, things won't be so bad. When I've been paid for a few months, things will look positively rosy. "That wasn't so bad" you'll say. You're wrong. It was bad.

Things are often a lot easier said than done.

A lot of the experiences in my life have been awful at the time, but later on I've been able to laugh about the dire straits I was in. In fact, the only way I've been able to come to terms with some ridiculous stuff I've been through is to tell my hair-raising tales of near-death experiences and destruction to the world. You might think that I glorify events of the past, or wear bad stuff as a badge of honour. That's not true, but what am I supposed to do with all those negative experiences? Am I supposed to walk around with a glum face and tell everybody how terrible I am? Am I only alive to serve as a living reminder to people that they shouldn't make bad choices like I did?


Yes. Do you really believe in free will? I imagine that you believe in Santa Claus too. There's no free will. Our choices are always heavily biased. We're cornered and coerced. Would I have gone back to IT consulting for an investment bank in London if I wasn't flat broke? Am I making free will choices, or am I just doing what I've got to do to survive?


My version of survival probably looks pretty ridiculous to you. The kind of money that's going to be coming my way soon is pretty obscene - banks pay very well. So, does that mean that I'm not surviving? Am I actually completely fine and dandy? I'm just making a fuss about nothing, right? In fact, if you saw the numbers, you might be angered; you might conclude that I've been fine all along... nothing to worry about and never in any danger.

A friend often challenges me on why I would keep myself on the endangered species list. Why would I continue to advertise my distress? Surely I'm safe and secure now. Well, how long ago was it that I was made homeless, jobless, having some dealings with the police, locked up on a psych ward and facing certain bankruptcy with mountainous debts?

So, I got a job. I worked that job. I did a good job. Money is on the way now. Case closed?

Actually, can you imagine how stressful it was to have to hit the ground running and pretend like I've got my shit together all of a sudden? Just because I'm pretty damn good at acting like I'm a cool customer and I can handle anything that life throws at me, the reality is that my inner monologue goes pretty much like this: "shit! shit! shit! everything's on fire! everything's too hard! it'll never work! everything's ruined and it'll never be fixed! it's too hard! I can't do it!".

Of course, a lot of people find new countries, new cities, new jobs, new work colleagues, new offices, new challenges, new accommodation and the stress of the unfamiliarity of circumstances, to make them very anxious. I'm not the only one who feels stressed and anxious when taken out of my comfort zone. I'm not the first person ever to have butterflies in their tummy about a new job.

Ha ha.

If only it was just a new job. Try plucking homeless unemployed bankrupt drug addicts who are known to the police, up from locked psych wards, giving them a scrub down, putting them in a suit and plonking them at a desk in another country. See how many times that works out for you.

To top it all off, there is the ever-present danger - and there still is - that I'll run out of money before that first payment lands in my bank account. If you think it's just a case of budgeting you're an idiot. You can't budget if the numbers just don't add up - sometimes there just isn't enough money to pay for everything. Sometimes, you can't afford to go to work, because you can't afford to get there. Catch 22.

If you think that I'm not a representative example, you're right. Most people will fall at one of the many hurdles. Most people would find themselves marginalised and excluded and blacklisted and without a hope of ever recovering their poise; hope of ever returning to normal life. You're right. I'm not most people. I'm not special though. I'm not different.

I cashed in one of my "get out of jail free" cards. I don't have any aces left up my sleeve. I've called in pretty much every favour. I had help, of course. People don't survive without help.

Arguably I wasn't a very worthy cause to help. Arguably, I'm arrogant and ungrateful; I credit myself where no credit is due - surely the situation I find myself in today is entirely thanks to other people, and I'm just a passenger... I've been gifted everything I've got from generous people; I haven't worked a day in my life.

To a large extent, I agree that luck and other people's generosity are the main factors in my life. So what? Would you prefer me dead?

Of course, I question my utility; I question the value of my productive output. I'm not rescuing children from burning orphanages after all, am I? Isn't it about time that I built a school in Africa or distributed food and clean water in some war-torn area flooded with refugees? With all my software development expertise, why haven't I created an app that cures cancer, or programmed a supercomputer to find the solution to world hunger? Isn't it about time that I stopped being so pleased with myself and did something to help other people? Isn't it high time that I stopped being so selfish and self-centred?

Easier said than done.

Take a look around. OK so your friend Sharon did a fun run that raised a lot of money for spastics, but she went on and on about it A LOT, going on about how fucking amazing she is for having done that, didn't she? Those 30 minutes that she spent puffing and panting, running around the school sports field hasn't changed anything has it? Did that rock concert that you went to succeed in ending poverty? That's right... you were really philanthropic, by going to see those bands play. How wonderful of you.

So many of us say "I'd like to do more, but I'm struggling myself". It's true, people really are struggling to find the time and the money to get through ordinary life, let alone perform selfless self-sacrificing philanthropic amazing acts of charity. There isn't a culture of helping each other. We mainly eye each other up suspiciously: are our peers getting more money than us? Why does SHE have a bigger house than me? Why are THEY getting a new car this year?

It's pretty easy to take a superficial glance at a person and say "WHY ARE YOU JUST SITTING THERE? GET UP AND DO SOMETHING". We've got all the solutions to other people's problems, haven't we? Isn't it the easiest thing in the world, solving other people's problems? If only people would listen, right?

I am thinking about changing my alarmist "suicide note" blog title to simply read this: addict.

I want people to stigmatise me. I want people to jump to the wrong conclusions. I want everybody who thinks they've got an easy answer to come forward and 'save' me from myself. "Have you tried not taking drugs?" being one amazing suggestion that I'd never thought of before.

I've failed to wean myself off sleeping pills. I've failed to stay off the pregabalin - painkillers - that I worked so hard to quit. I started drinking again, and I've been drinking a whole bottle of wine every night. I'm an addict, even though you might take a lazy glance at my life and conclude that I'm perfectly fine.

As I journey back to Wales for a Christmas break, having completed a nervy few weeks back at work, you could be forgiven for thinking that my life's back on track. Talking to me, you'd think that I've overcome all those obstacles that would normally cause a person to stumble and trip - a mentally ill homeless junkie bankrupt known-to-the-police type person. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm normal. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm just like you.

I am normal.

I am an addict.

Surely this is cognitive dissonance. Addicts aren't normal, right? Well, how's about this one: I don't even abuse substances. Why on earth would I label myself as an addict? Surely I've won? Surely I've broken free from everything that threatened to destroy me? Why would I want to publicly wear the most awful label that we can give to a person?

I'm not going to write a world-changing app. If apps had the capacity to change the world for the better, they'd have done it. I'm not going to start a world-changing charity. If charity had the capacity to change the world for the better, it'd have succeeded.

So am I giving up?

Am I putting on my oxygen mask before helping others?

The answer is neither. I'm not doing either of those things. I neither accept that the world's fucked and there's nothing I can do about it, nor do I believe that I have to help myself before helping others. It's true that my situation was unbearable, and it will continue to be unbearable for some time. I'm going through some awful stuff, even if you think my life is blessed and I live a charmed existence.

There's a family in Wales who've helped me. They've seen me during periods when it appears to them like I'm not helping myself. They've torn their hair out with frustration that I've been stubborn at times, when there's been obvious solutions that have been right there, just waiting for me to reach out and grab them. The whole world's problems could be solved overnight if only people would listen, right? Simple. Things are really simple, right?

The asceticism of my life - making my own sandwiches in a hotel room - seems like an obvious solution to a problem to you. No knife to spread the mayonaise on the bread? No worries, here's another solution for you...

However, if you have to actually live with a person while they go through the millions of trials and tribulations in their life, then you start to get a sense that things are not as simple as they appear at first. The case of getting my passport back from a bank in Manchester being a particularly illustrative example.

I'm about to spend Christmas in the bosom of a loving family, living on a gorgeous farm in the Welsh countryside. Of course, things aren't all about me. Christmas is about family; it's about giving, not receiving. How must this family feel though?: they've succeeded. They've nursed me back to health. Money is on the way. I'm back in the saddle, aren't I?


January is my nemesis. Of course, I'm not the only person on planet earth to feel down in January. Of course, we all have winter blues and credit card bills hitting the doormat in January. Great. Let's just see how things go, shall we? I'll be back to living out of a suitcase in January.




Kevin Ghora with Vow-er

6 min read

This is a story about life on the farm...

Barbed Wire

Yesterday, I was too depressed to get out of bed. Being awake was horrible - I tried to doze for as long as I could. I was irrationally afraid of having to get up for some reason; on edge that there might come a knock at the door. My friends make me feel incredibly welcome, and I would always have somebody to talk to if I was feeling lonely and desperate, but I also feel like I should demonstrate my willingness to help wherever I can.

Today, it's been sunny and mild; very good weather for the time of year. Hiding under the duvet doesn't feel so bad when it's grey skies and raining, but I feel guilty about wasting the day when it's nice outside. Nice weather can paradoxically make me feel even more depressed.

I'm naturally a restless, anxious and fidgety person. "Where am I going? What am I achieving?" I continuously ask myself when I'm not consumed by a task; fixated on a mission.

At the beginning of the week, I dragged myself out of bed to go to the seaside. It was a drizzly foggy day, so the picturesque beach wasn't going to yield any nice views, but still, it was an outing. Rain-drenched families trudged through puddles. "Why are all these children not in school?" I asked. Apparently, it's half-term school holiday time in England - not so in Wales.

This jarring disparity; this acute difference between what consumes my thoughts, and what most other people are concerned with, is being well highlighted in my current environ. I was cut off from the world in my London apartment. It was wonderful to have the space & time to think & write, but I was very far removed from the day-to-day reality that most of humanity experiences. In the past few weeks, I've been reminded about school-runs, commuting to work and long days in the office, car maintenance, housing, pets, children, cooking and cleaning, although I can claim absolutely zero personal involvement in the running of these affairs - I'm an idle observer; a tourist.

Of course I worry that I'm lazy; worry that I'm mooching; worry that I'm a leech; a parasite.

"Yes, we'd all like to be a thinker; a writer; an artist; an intellectual; a professional layabout" I imagine people saying. "Your art is just a hobby... get a job" is what I imagine people are thinking. I feel guilty for not producing anything more tangible than the words on this page.

I started to get a little stressed about November, when I plan to write my second novel. "How am I going to find the time to write?" I wondered to myself, which must sound a little ridiculous to you. Why am I even writing anyway, when I'm not overtly commercialising my creative output?

There's something more socially acceptable about saying "I'm sorry, I need to write my book" as opposed to just "I'm sorry, I need to lie in bed feeling incredibly anxious and depressed". I wonder if more people would have breakdowns and refuse to go to their stressful and boring jobs, if it wasn't so stigmatised. Wouldn't we all love to just spend all day with our children, and not get out of our pyjamas? Why can't we skip breakfast and have cereal instead of a cooked meal, and completely reject the demands of society?

I feel immense guilt for not having a proper job, spending hours of my life stuck in traffic, being bored to tears by a bullshit job. What's my contribution to society? Why am I allowed to pontificate, when I haven't done my 9 to 5 grind?

I'm not so naïve as to think that the good life doesn't have to be bought and paid for with human misery. For every beautiful countryside cottage set in manicured gardens, nestled in lush green countryside, there is also an immense amount of suffering that's gone into delivering that dream. The children who wait 5 minutes, staring at a single marshmallow on the table in front of them, will receive two marshmallows as a reward for their patience. Those same patient children will shed tears when they are packed off to boarding school, but it'll all be for a good reason one day.

Are we even supposed to be so patient; so tolerant of intolerable cruelty? Are we any happier for all that homework? Are we any happier when we get "A" grades and go on to get a fancy job, miles and miles away from our home and our family? Are two marshmallows sweeter than one?

I feel like the cuckoo in the nest: I'm no genetic relation of the lovely family who I'm living with. Why do I get to enjoy the comfort of a farmhouse straight from the pages of Country Living magazine? What's my contribution to the household? What's my contribution to humanity?

Extrapolating, I can easily imagine that I will have produced my second novel in a little over a month from now, but I will have very little else to show for my time, not to mention the food and energy that I will have consumed. To say that I have been working on restabilising my mental health and attempting to rediscover my reason(s) for living, feels a little untrue given the trajectory of my mood. To turn a blind eye to my very real concerns about the difficulty of obtaining paid employment during the Christmas & New Year period, seems short-sighted - November will be over in the blink of an eye.

Throwing a ball for the dog in the garden, sucking in lungfuls of clean fresh air that's blown inland straight from the Atlantic Ocean, my physical health is undoubtedly improving. I'm seeing an aspect of existence that I'd long forgotten, trapped in a polluted concrete jungle, and surrounded by the seething masses in densely overpopulated cities. This life is so much healthier and happier than the rat race, but I can't afford it - it feels as if I'm enjoying a retirement I haven't paid for.

Perhaps you imagine that my time is free for the pursuit of leisure. Perhaps it is. If so, why am I so damn stressed?




Help the Homeless

5 min read

This is a story about unintended consequences...

Trash strewn in the street

The UK's notorious tabloid rag, The Sun interviewed a grieving father & husband and quoted him as saying "I should never have let the bastard near my family" with reference to a homeless man who had been taken in by his wife. The British press variously reported that the woman - later murdered by the homeless man she'd tried to help - had given "her husband's dinner" to her killer, who also killed her son and badly injured her husband.

Quite unbeknownst to me, this news story had received widespread coverage at exactly the same time as I was taken in by a Good Samaritan - what risk, one wonders, to her children & husband if this is any kind of precedent?

Scanning the column inches for similarities between myself and the perpetrator of the double murder, the newspapers reported mental illness and drug abuse. My Good Samaritan collected me from a secure psychiatric institution on the day when the crescendo of media coverage reached its peak. During the car ride to the family home I explained that I had seen illegal drugs used by my parents on a daily basis, and we agreed that to do that in front of children is not normal, right or proper.

Perhaps my gracious hosts have been hoodwinked. Perhaps I have fabricated a story about my sweet innocence and a set of unfortunate circumstances that have come about through no fault of my own. Given the extraordinary amount that I have written, it seems like a rather elaborate ruse, to write extensively about my chequered past, even when it has clearly caused me more harm than good. Is it not true that I've left my readers in no uncertain doubt about my every misdemeanour?

Further digging through the archives of the internet, I found a newspaper which reported that the aforementioned homeless murderer had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD was casually tossed into the mix by one psychiatrist that I met, as a possible additional diagnosis for my own mental health problems. The only official diagnoses I've received are clinical depression and bipolar disorder, but adjustment disorder also featured in some of my recent paperwork, although this did not appear on my hospital discharge summary.

I'm mindful that further comparison is not at all useful, and I find myself to be extremely stressed about what the kind family who has taken me in, might think about the fact that this matter has been on my mind. When I read the grieving husband's words "I wish my wife had never set eyes on him" I do worry that I never asked my own Good Samaritan "what does your husband think?" but then wouldn't the atmosphere now be a little strange if the reply had been "he's got some reservations"?

I would say that I have never searched my soul for any kind of malice, as extensively as I have done knowing that I would be residing under the same roof as a happy family with several kids. If I had the slightest suspicion that my behaviour could be erratic, then I would not find it conscionable to expose a family to any danger that I might pose.

That said, I'm aware that bonding with the family is taking place. I'm still deeply troubled by almost unbearable levels of anxiety, and suicidal thoughts intrude whenever I consider what the future holds. I'm hopeful that my state of mind will improve when my medication changes are done. I am however mindful that in the worst-case scenario, I do pose a risk to my own life, and although I would put some time & distance between myself and the family, it would be incorrect to say that it would have no effect on them if I were to end my life prematurely.

The question of whether to accept help is as difficult as that of whether to offer assistance to those who are in need. I'm incredibly lucky to not only receive aid, but also to be able to openly discuss the obstacles and difficulties involved.

You may be surprised to learn that these 700 or so words are some of the most carefully chosen I have written, out of over 700,000. I have been shown a great deal of love, care, respect and trust, and this is why the anger, bitterness, rejection and hurt of the past, that usually flows out from me onto these pages, has been replaced with a daunting sense of responsibility towards those who I am now close with.

I'm going to publish now, because it's been agonisingly difficult to write this.




The White Wolf and the Black Sheep

4 min read

This is a story about storytelling...


I'm stood in a sunny garden, sheltered from the wind by mature shrubs. Beyond the confines of the walls and fences are lush green fields; rolling hills leading down to the sea. The air is fresh and clean, blowing in off the Atlantic. There's a smell of mown grass, which has been cut for the last time before winter - the trimmed blades clump on the lawn. Gravel crunches under my feet - I'm stood on the driveway where the cars are parked. There's a sound of a 2-stroke engine which powers a hedge trimmer, being used to tame the runaway growth in the hedgerows; the exhaust fumes blown away by the prevailing wind.

I'm throwing a ball for the white wolf. Eyes on the front of his head, not the side - that's how you know he's an apex predator; he's not worried about anybody creeping up behind him, although his ears are pricked up, listening intently. He's a smart wolf - anticipating me throwing the ball but not so eager to run and collect it that he would be fooled by a dummy. Besides, why would I want to trick a wolf? What satisfaction would I get by proving I'm smarter than an animal with a much smaller brain?

The wolf pants and drops his ball some distance away from me. The game is over. I fetch a water bowl for the wolf and he laps up the cool liquid with his long pink tongue. He brings his ball to me again, ready to play - the game starts over.

My throwing gets erratic and the ball lands on a rockery. I'm fearful that the wolf will injure himself. I stop throwing the ball.

A running sheep; a chasing wolf - he's found a new game.

Clambering over fences, the farmer holds the wolf while he strains to get at the flock which has retreated into a corner of the field, unable to flee further because the sheep are enclosed by a fence. The wolf has to learn that this is not a game.

I feel guilty. Did I get the wolf over-excited by throwing the ball for him? Was I the immature adult who gets the children over-excited before bedtime? Was I irresponsible; inconsiderate of the consequences?

I want to tell stories but not everybody wants to feature. I want to tell stories but invariably people will wonder if it's about them. I want to tell stories, but I have to be careful that I respect the need for peaceful private family life.

I'm lying on a bed with sunlight in my eyes, telling a story. It's warm and quiet and I'm very comfy and calm. My brain buzzes with thoughts; ideas - I've written a list of 49 stories that I want to tell, and I have another list with 70 more, some of which I've already told. There are more words than there are waking hours in the day to type them. Now that there is some calm around me, the dam has burst and I'm struggling to not be swamped by the deluge.

I think about tenses - why is this told in the present tense if it's a story?

So much has happened in the past and it's hard to not relive and refine the story. I do not embellish or exaggerate, but stories improve with retelling. With each iteration, a more accurate and engrossing account emerges. I have a mountain of material, and the temptation is to weave it all into a captivating patchwork quilt of tales; adventures.

Here in the present there's plenty going on but I'm a guest in somebody else's story, and it's not my place to tell it. It's strange for me to observe quietly and not pass comment. In all honesty, I swing between "where did it all go wrong [in my life]?" and gawping in awe at what's been built; forged - the achievements of the loving, kind, generous and humble family who've taken me in are breathtaking.

Outside, there's a well. It's blocked, but it's obvious what's down there - a dark cavern filled with cold water. To fall into the well would be deadly: you could never climb out. Why unblock it? Why go down there?

Obviously, the well is a metaphor for my past. I have an aquifer of hair-raising tales that I could never drain, even with a million buckets. I can draw upon my dark murky past, but perhaps I shouldn't - perhaps to plumb those depths will lead nowhere new. Haven't I written enough already, about the past?

I'm planning on writing another novel in November.




Blogging at Work

9 min read

This is a story about office life...

Image within an image

Look closely at the image above. It appears like I already wrote this blog post. It certainly feels like that. Haven't we been here before? Deja vu?

When you get stuck into a cycle, how do you break out of it? When the loudspeakers scream with feedback, because the sound that the microphone captures is being amplified and re-amplified, how do you reset, without cutting the power?

My behaviour might look self-sabotaging, but I'm actually deliberately burning bridges so that I have no line of retreat back to the places that made me unhappy in the first place.

When I worked in the City the first time around, I used to have 3 or 4 strong macchiato coffees every day. That's 12 espresso shots. I used to get drunk most lunchtimes and after work. I needed 2/3rds of a bottle of red wine to get to sleep, after all that coffee.

Uppers and downers, round and round. We rode the rollercoaster nonstop until we were sick. Every day, every week, every month, every year... they were the same.

When I was in my early 20's it wasn't such a big deal. We used to tank up on caffeine, churn out a load of code that would form the backbone of the world's economy, and then go get drunk to try and calm down a bit. We thought we could carry on like that forever, with our uppers and downers.

I saw colleagues get sick with stress, anxiety, depression, alcoholism. Some of my colleagues needed liver transplants. Some of my colleagues died. The system chewed us up and spat us out.

By my mid 20s I'd owned a yacht, a speedboat, sportscars... for some reason no amount of material possessions and status symbols seemed to quench the massive insecurity and frustration with life. Take a socially awkward, unpopular geek, sprinkle in wealth and the illusion that you're being 'successful' in life, and you wind up with a pretty confused adult.

While my schoolfriends paired off with lifelong partners and started to have children, I would suddenly decide that a loving relationship would be my salvation. I moved to a Surrey commuter town with a girlfriend, and started to play golf and generally start to think & act like a middle-aged family man. That was a bit of strange thing to do for a 21 year old.

Back in London after my first experiment into becoming a happy adult had failed, I satisfied myself with extreme sports, Internet discussion forums and lots of holidays and weekends away with nice big social clan. The London Kitesurfers 'club' was a lovely thing to be part of for several years. However, I still felt that I was missing that 'love' piece of the puzzle.

Some nice scientist kitesurfer girl seemed to tick all the boxes, and I launched myself with great intensity at a long-distance relationship that was never going to work. Relocating to the South coast, I quickly got involved with a geek girl who was into adventure sports: she seemed ideal, on paper.

I set about building the framework for a comfortable family life: the house, the steady job, the sensible car. However, I ignored the massive red flag: my girlfriend was a mean person.

I'm not easily dissuaded from my goals. Whatever obstacles I encounter, I just go around them. I'm a completer-finisher. I try to fix, improve, change, rather than throw things away or start again.

Anyway, I was flogging a dead horse. No matter how many times I painted a perfect picture postcard of how life could be, I'd found somebody who was stubbornly resistant to the idea of being nice and kind and supportive of the person who potentiated a 5-star luxury lifestyle for both of us. There was plenty of space for us both to shine, but sadly, she wanted me to be subdued and subserviant. She had gotten used to being showered with praise and being top of her class. She wasn't used to sharing the stage. She wasn't prepared for both of us to be happy.

I abandoned that life. I lost my business, my reputation with the major employers in the local area, my house and a substantial chunk of my wealth. I was fighting for survival, so I didn't have the time to go and carefully unpick the things that I had spent years building. I had no need of a house and shedful of things. What was I going to do with all that stuff? It was an unncessary millstone around my neck.

Now I find myself following a tried-and-trusted formula for wealth and 'success'. I'm rapidly putting together a lovely home again. I'm rapidly rebuilding my cash position. I'm rapidly rebuilding my reputation. However, I've seen it all and done it all before. I'm just going through the practiced motions.

"How did you know that was going to happen?" my colleagues ask me, like I'm some kind of clairvoyant. My ability to 'predict' the future is nothing more than making educated guesses, because I've been seen it all before. It looks prescient, but it's no more amazing than somebody who's learned from their mistakes.

That means my day job is pretty dull. I finish people's sentences, and I take great delight in giving people things they need before they ask for them. I'm ahead of the game. In the oft-quoted words of Wayne Gretsky, I'm skating to where the hockey puck is going to be.

I'm aware that this seems very arrogant. I'm not delusional. I know I'm not special or different. I know I'm no smarter than your average Joe.

I've done a 'gap' analysis, of my unsatisfying, unfulfilling and depression-filled life, and it seems like I need a dog, a cat, some kids and a loving supportive partner. If you ask children to draw a picture, they'll normally draw a house, the sun, some clouds, their parents and brothers & sisters, their pets. It seems like a pretty tried-and-trusted formula for life.

However, I even feel guilty about my cat living with my parents because he comes from a broken home. My cat, Frankie, has had to move house once in his kitty life, and I feel bad about the disruption and stress I caused him. I would love it if Frankie could live with me, but it would be cruel to make him live in a 4th floor apartment in a busy city. Having Frankie adopted by my parents, with their generous garden and surrounding Cotswold countryside, was the least bad option, but I still feel guilty.

Can you imagine how bad I'd feel if I had kids and they had a stressful home life? Can you imagine how guilty I'd feel if I knew that I selfishly chose to have children because they would give my life purpose and meaning, but I failed to adequately consider that the world I bequeathed to them is dying?

I'm running in autopilot at work. My brain is on tickover, doing my job. This unfortunately leaves a lot of time to consider the plight of the world's poor and struggling people. I have a lot of time to think about war and preventable diseases. I have a lot of time to think about inequalities and morality. I seem to be like a sponge, sucking up all the pain, suffering, cruelty, anger, hostility, selfishness, greed and immorality that seems to characterise the human race.

I could cut myself off from reading the news, but what would I do all day while I'm bored at work?

I can read the news, and if I get caught then nobody's really that bothered because I'm on top of my work and performing well. If I write my blog and try to stay on top of these feelings that threaten to overwhelm me, then I'm always nervous that my mask is going to slip.

I'm flirting with disaster anyway, wearing a semicolon tattoo just behind my ear, that advertises my struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

When you have a problem, you can try to solve the root cause, or you can find a workaround. I know what the workarounds are. I know what the root cause is. I'm just not really satisfied that I can either do much about human nature and a selfish race intent on destroying itself, and neither am I very happy to attempt to insulate myself from reality, using drugs and money to put myself into a protective bubble

Begging is illegal in the City of London. Canary Wharf is a private estate, so undesirable members of society can actually be thrown out of the rich little enclave. You can kid yourself that there aren't any problems in the world, because you don't see them - out of sight out of mind - but that's why we got in this mess in the first place.

What happens next is as much a question of morality as it is a question of personal survival. Is it better to have lived life with some values and standards, rather than just saying "I was just doing what everybody else was doing" as if that's some kind of defence.

I know this is very lecturing, and once you've got skin in the game you have no choice but to try and do the best for your tiny tots, but I have a choice. I actually choose not to get a dog, because they're polluting (dogs need to eat masses of meat) and I choose not to have a family, because I can't make any guarantees that there's going to be a liveable planet for them to grow up on.

It doesn't make me a morally superior person. It's just the way I personally think. I know parents are racked with worry about the kind of world that their kids are going to inherit. I do empathise with the stress and challenges faced by families. Doesn't mean that's an excuse for me to join in though.




Gold Rush

5 min read

This is a story about getting rich or dying trying...

Irish Gold

People come to London seeking their fortune. I went to Ireland seeking my salvation. In a way, I kinda found it.

My life had fallen apart. I had lost a lucrative contract with Barclays through no fault of my own (the guy who terminated my contract was then sacked because of his stupid decision) as well as breaking up with my girlfriend, being evicted from my apartment in Swiss Cottage (again, through no fault of my own) and had once again found myself homeless and unemployed. Many friends took sides during my breakup, and I ended up suddenly alone.

It was January, in the depths of a depressing British winter. No job, no money, no friends, no girlfriend, no nothing. I was fucked.

A friend who I met in the summer, when I first became homeless, had returned to the emerald isle. He had generously made an open offer that I could go and stay with him and his family if I ever needed it, and oh boy did I need it. I was suicidally depressed and a big danger to myself. Camden council had been supremely unhelpful to a resident who they owed a legal duty of care, but they didn't give a shit whether I lived or died.

I guess a lot of unimaginative runaways go to London, and a huge proportion of them will end up in Camden Town. Camden is cool, undoubtably. Camden is full of wide-eyed young people, tourists, and huge amounts of recreational drugs, casual sex and music venues. It's a great place to spend a summer on a shoestring, smoking strong cannabis and chatting up girls.

I had made a couple of similarly Peter Pan-esque pals in Camden, in their mid thirties and working dead-end jobs on low pay, forced into living in hostels and dreadful squat-like houses with several people sleeping in every room. For me, it was a hugely novel experience, having been a wealthy IT consultant working in banking since I took my first big money contract at the age of 20, for Lloyds TSB in Canary Wharf. After 17 or so years of fabulous wealth, slumming it for a summer was almost fun.

My girlfriend at the time was a waitress at an Italian restaurant. Despite having a degree in economics from the University of Bologna, she had rejected the rat race in favour of a minimum wage job and getting ridiculously stoned every day. She was fun and easy going, just so long as all you wanted to do was sit around while she chain-smoked joints, and have great sex of course.

I wouldn't say I outgrew my circle of friends, because I loved them dearly, but the stresses and demands of my contract at Barclays were not really compatible with the lifestyle of casual labour and the pursuit of recreational drugs. At some point, the worlds were going to collide.

My girlfriend and most of my friends felt that I had arrogantly snubbed them, but in fact I was desperately dependent on our social circle for my wellbeing and happiness. When things all fell apart, I did too. I was devastated by the collapse of my social life, as well as losing the structure and routine of my employment.

I ran away to Ireland, and my friend picked me up from Cork airport and took me back to the little village of Killavullen, that he and his family call home. Nestled in the hillside above the village, looking over the valley below and just at the edge of a vast forest, my friend's family home is a peaceful idyll that is completely unlike the rat race of London.

The timing was not ideal, and I arrived in the middle of various challenges facing the family, but they welcomed me and treated me with incredible warmth, kindness, care, despite the crises that they were dealing with. It's not my place to be indiscreet about the family matters that I became aware of, but suffice to say the last thing they needed was some sick burnt out heartbroken citydweller suddenly thrust into the mix.

My state of mind collapsed still further, as it became clear that there would be no reconciliation with my former friends: I was a pariah. There was nothing for me back in London, except a certain collapse in my will to live. My friend's family insisted that I should stay with them until I felt fit and well enough to return home. I missed my return flight and didn't book another.

I tried to go along with the flow of family and village life, getting to know the people that my friend grew up with, and his family.

My friend and I went panning for gold - I had bought him a kit while in England and had brought it over to Ireland for him - as well as climbing to the top of the 'mountain' that he lived on. We drove around the vast forest that covered the hillside, and explored the neighbouring villages, as well as nearby Cork city centre. Although I had visited Ireland twice before, I had missed the point about stopping to smell the shamrocks. I'm always in the mode of rush, rush, rush.

We travelled to the huge cliffs at Old Head, and I stood there on the edge, having had a haircut, a shave, a bunch of hot meals and having slept in a warm comfortable bed in a welcoming family home for some time. Instead of wanting to jump off the edge of the cliff, I was actually happy to be alive.




I Hate All Parents

2 min read

This is a story about sowing your wild oats...

Pregnancy test

I don't know if you remember, because you've got baby brain or maybe your raging hormones are affecting you, but I wrote a comprehensive guide to parenthood, including every intricate detail that I know about the lives of mummies and daddies, and imparting the extensive experience that I have of being a parent.

Given that it is now the school holidays, and the loveable rugrats are nipping at your ankles and the consequences of your decision to bring new lives into this world are brought into sharp focus, I think it is apt that I re-share this mighty tome of literature, so that hard-pressed mothers and fathers everywhere can leaf through its pages and gather valuable insights.

Don't stay up all night reading it, because I know that your sleep is precious, as your little darlings will be waking you up really early in the morning to be dressed and fed. That is if they haven't been up all night vomiting or with an ear infection.

Without further ado, please allow me to (re)present my hefty thesis on the matter of all things childrearing related: here.

You can thank me later.




How to Break Your Children's Hearts

7 min read

This is a story about respecting your elders...

My granny

Who's the responsible one round here? Who's got to carry the can, at the end of the day? Who's got to live with the consequences of bad decisions, and clean up other people's mess?

There isn't a class war going on. There's a generation war.

The baby boomers drove around in gas-guzzling cars, burnt dolphins to stay warm, dynamited the glaciers, blew up nuclear weapons under the polar ice caps, and generally whizzed around the globe spraying deadly chemicals on everything and saying "FUCK YOU GRANDCHILDREN, HA! HA! HA!".

I remember at school, when I was 10 or 11 years old, me and my friend Ben used to write long rhymes about saving the environment, and read them out at school events. We basically urged a modicum of control over the unmitigated climate disaster we saw all around us.

Growing up in the Thames Valley, huge numbers of my friends were asthmatic. Particulate emissions from internal combustion engines, gathered in the river valley, and in central Oxford the percentage of kids suffering from respiratory conditions was at the highest level in the country.

My friend Ben's parents had responsibly given up smoking for the health of their children, but mine would not listen to my pleas to stop wasting a significant proportion of the family income on something that was destructive to the health of us all. It was selfishness, plain and simple.

I still vividly remember one time when I begged my Dad to stop taking drugs. "Do you expect me to be a boring old fart?" he asked, incredulously. The tragic thing is, that I didn't need him to take drugs to look 'cool'. It was his own insecurity and pathetic attempt to impress young family members like my cousin Sue, that meant that he thought he was some kind of counter-culture hero, just because he took addictive drugs.

My Dad was adamant that I should not get to go to University, nor my sister, even though him and my Mum both enjoyed a free University eduction. My sister and I were both educated in state schools, even though my parents enjoyed the option of private/selective schooling.

My parents had substantial financial help from my grandparents to purchase their first home. No such help has been forthcoming from our parents, and indeed I bought my house without any financial support from my parents, as well as paying for my wedding & honeymoon out of my own pocket. My sister has - as a percentage of her income - possibly been even more financially independent than me.

As kids and adults, my sister and I have certainly been very economical, responsible, mature, in ways that my parents don't even come close to. We've paid our own way in life. We've grafted harder than my parents could possibly imagine.

And for what? So that my parents' generation can tell us that we're profligate, reckless with money, irresponsible, lazy? My parents' generation tell us we should save money for a rainy day, when the pensions that they draw bear no relation to the actual amount of money that they've saved up. The baby boomers are hoping to have hefty final salary pensions that far outstrip the amount of money they've paid into the schemes, to the point of causing a massive black hole in the nation's finances.


The upper-class Victorians used to say "children should be seen and not heard" but those children were reared by wet-nurses, nannies and au pairs, plus all the other servants. If you don't have servants to rear your children, you don't get to say such obnoxious things, because you're the only person in your child's life.

Infant mortality used to be very high, so ordinary Victorians cherished their children. Having a healthy child was a blessing, and something to be celebrated. There wasn't this strange culture of worshipping people with old-fashioned ideas, who sat idle for 30, 40 years, just criticising everything. Yes, we'd all like to retire and just sit around in our favourite chair reading shit newspapers and being mean to everybody, but the retirement age was always supposed to be just 1 year more than the average life expectancy.

Our economy is structured around the 'grey pound'. After the banks, the most powerful institutions in the country are the pension funds. These massive piles of money, managed by asset managers and institutional investors, for the benefit of their pension-drawing clients, decide everything about how this country is run. When we talk about things being run for the benefit of shareholders, those shareholders are mostly pension funds.

If anybody ever says to me "what have you given back to your parents?" or  "be grateful your parents gave you the gift of life" I'm going to struggle not to scream in their face with rage.

My whole life has been generating value for shareholders. Every penny and pound of profit that I have generated for my masters has gone into dividends and higher stock prices, to inflate the asset value of a pension fund somewhere. My whole life has been toiling to allow the baby boomers to have a life of idle luxury, not that they're fucking grateful.

But you know what? Things have gone way too far.

The older generation has fucked up the environment, fucked up the economy and demanded that young people suffer austerity, University tuition fees, job insecurity, wage stagnation, eye-watering rent, impossibly over-inflated house prices and listen to a sneering arrogant bunch of lazy grey-haired cunts telling them they're lazy and stupid the whole fucking time.

They say you should be nice to your kids because they'll choose your nursing home. Damn fucking straight, but you don't get to have 20 years of idle luxury before you go so damn senile that you have to be put in a home, so that your hard-pressed children can continue working all hours to pay for your profligacy, laziness and arrogance.

Yes, it's true that a huge proportion of wealth has been diverted into the hands of a few eye-wateringly rich families. However, WHO THE FUCK WAS ASLEEP ON THE JOB WHEN THAT HAPPENED?

Why the hell is it me who has to go on political marches, to demand that wealth is more fairly redistributed? My parents were too busy sat on their fucking arse taking drugs and reading books and newspapers to actually get off their lazy backsides and engage in the political process, for the good of the country and the good of us kids and grandkids.

Don't pretend like voting to leave the EU is somehow in the best interests of the country and future generations. One lazy pencil cross in a box doesn't make up for the idle years spent enjoying a free University education, job security, high pay, reckless drug taking, low cost of living, great housing, foreign holidays, new cars, superb pension and lots and lots of disposable income. YOU HAD IT FUCKING EASY, YOU STUPID OLD CUNTS.

As you can tell, this is a fairly calm and measured response to being sold down the river, and having my future destroyed by a bunch of people who won't be around to suffer the global warming and economic depression.

Literally, almost everybody I know my age or younger suffers from depression and/or anxiety. What a legacy!

Global warning

We used to sing "he's got the whole world in his hands" but where is your fucking God now?



Work Will Set You Free

14 min read

This is a story about ingratitude...

Big gates

Give me liberty, or give me death!

How do you like living in the free world? Freedom of speech, not that anybody's even listening and you'll never get into print. Freedom to work, if you can get a job, and you'll have to pay exorbitant taxes. Freedom to do what you want, if you're not dead and have any spare time and energy after working a job until you're nearly 70 years old. Freedom to buy what you want, except you probably can't afford it.

There: that's the ingratitude part out of the way. Do I actually think like that? Some people think I do. You'll have to read between the lines to see where I am being self-mocking, humorous, sarcastic and even a little farsical in the interests of courting controversy.

This talk of death and suicide sounds a little flippant, a little melodramatic, but in actual fact, it's shaped my mindset.

I was always impossible to manage, and fearless talking to people of all ranks and status. I refuse to be cowed by credentials and hierarchy. I refuse to know my place.

If you were to just dip into part of my story, and try to make a knee-jerk assumption about me, you might assume that I think I'm better than other people. You might think I'm an entitled snob, a spoiled little brat. You would have misjudged me, and instead you've failed to understand that I'm coming at things from a totally different end of the spectrum.

I'm not claiming that I'm hard done by and that I've made my own luck and worked my way up from the bottom. On closer examination, these claims always prove to be horse-shit. When we look at people who claim to be self-made success stories, the tale is always ridiculous. For starters, many of the ones I've encountered came from loving homes in middle-class families, with parents who had a profession, a job for life. There has been financial security and a good education, even if they paint themselves as some sort of working class hero.

My tale is slightly different. I'm judging things based on the experiences I had when I had nothing. No roof over my head, and no money. I'm judging life based on how close I came to death. I literally made a life-or-death decision... actually on a couple of occasions.

So, I write from a position of knowing how it feels to have nothing. I write from a position of knowing how it feels to have to choose to act to stay alive, or else inaction would lead to death.

Based on this standpoint, I judge things very differently. You might think I'm ungrateful to have a "good" job. You might think I'm ungrateful for my opportunities. In actual fact though, I'm just judging things relatively. I think to myself "am I more or less happy than when I had nothing" and "am I more or less inclined to die, than the time that I nearly died before".

There's a cold hard rational core within me, that could quite easily slice my veins open, in a sudden brutally decisive act, if I decided that the effort of maintaining myself in a state of perpetual unhappiness and struggle would be ridiculous.

British Commerce

As a subject of Her Majesty the Queen of England, I was indoctrinated in the state schools of the United Kingdom, to become a loyal wage-slave, contributing to stability, increase and ornament of British commerce. Does it give me any pleasure or pride to say that? No, not really.

My very first job was for a Ministry of Defence subcontractor, and I actively contributed to Great Britain's military capability, as a naval power, to further their imperialist ambitions. Should that give me a lump in my throat when I see the Union Jack and hear the national anthem? Actually, no, it makes me think about the high price that is paid by the nations we have subjugated, in order to pay for the lifestyle I enjoyed.

Do people enjoy their lifestyle? Huge numbers of ordinary working age people can't afford a house, a family, a wedding. Most ordinary working folks hate their shitty jobs and their long commutes. Most ordinary working folks fret about getting ahead in the work rat race, or getting their kids good exam grades so that they can die an early death due to stress-related illness. But the good news is that you're not going to have to die in poverty if you drop dead at your desk, given that the pensions are in a meltdown.

It looks so hypocritical. The Westeners sit there in their sedentary jobs, comfort-eating themselves to death through obesity-related illness and giving themselves repetitive strain injury from their mouse and keyboard, cataracts from their computer screen and a bad back from slouching in a chair all day. Our short life expectancy is a function of stress, depression and poor lifestyle 'choices'. Meanwhile, the developing world slaves away, with the dream of attaining a western-style lifestyle. Supposedly, the West is the model the world should follow.

However, maybe we got it wrong. In other cultures, the smartest member of the family gets sent away to study and work, so that they can send money back to their family to support them. Isn't that something to get out of bed in the morning? Being the breadwinner for your family.

Instead of the young, fit and active people being the economic providers, we have instead tipped our society on its head, where we worship the 'grey pound'. Since the pension funds became the biggest investors in all our companies, and all the wealth pooled in the accounts and property portfolios of the baby boomers, we now have an impoverished youth, who have a much lower quality of life than their mothers and fathers, and far fewer opportunities to provide for even themselves and their own offspring, let alone feathering the nest still further of their elderly relatives.

I went to the Southampton Boat Show last year, and instead of successful young businessmen treating themself to a toy, as a reward for their hard work, ambition and ingenuity, it was baby-boomers who were spending their kids and grandkids inheritance, as a reward for having created an asset bubble that has meant crashes in both the stock market and the housing market.

I know that all the pounds of economic output that I generate will simply disappear into a pensions black hole, to pay out final-salary schemes for a generation who have nothing but contempt for their kids and grandkids.

Would you toil and toil, if you had no prospect of ever being self sufficient? If you were simply working for ungrateful masters who called you lazy and stupid? If the wealth that you generated simply inflated asset prices further out of reach, concentrated in the hands of the idle coffin-dodgers who didn't work to create the very assets that they own?

Tie Die

Since when did it become a bad thing to be motivated to work? Why should we be so fearful of immigrants, who are young, fit and economically active? The very language smacks of greedy hoarders who are like a dog in a manger.

Every year we have more students than ever before achieving the top exam grades, yet we print headlines and stories asking if exams are getting easier. Homework and the pressure to succeed is driving ever increasing numbers of young people to suicide, but yet it isn't good enough.

The prospects for young people are awful. The minimum wage is lower, and they'll never be able to get married, have kids and buy a house like their parents did. Why do we label them as 'gangs', 'hoodlums' and 'thugs' and mock them for their materialistic attachments to modestly priced bling, like gold cellphones and other trinkets that cost a fraction of the homes and cars that their parents had as their status-symbols?

Why do we not see the link between demanding endless dividends on our shares and ever-increasing capital gains, and the need for corporations to suppress wage inflation, which impoverishes our working-age people?

There are many people who would say that I'm not entitled to ask these questions, given my six-figure income. There are many people who think I should just shut up and take the money, because it's there.

In actual fact, I'm going further than just asking difficult questions. I'm actually putting my job on the line.

I lost two big money contracts because I refuse to be bought. I refuse to stay my tongue, just because I'm being paid a lot of money. Is it unprofessional, arrogant, reckless, stupid? Actually, it's none of those things.

I struggled a lot with middle-class guilt, but predictably, I did very little about it. I used to wring my hands and say "but what can I do?" while reading the Observer and The Guardian newspapers, and having passionate discussions about putting the world to rights, while quaffing expensive wine in fine restaurants in North London. This was hypocrisy. The final straw would have been going on a sponsored run and doing some kind of gift-aid contribution out of my salary every month, to salve my conscience and give me some kind of sense of smug satisfaction that I'd played my part.

Instead, I went on a journey. I've been to the bottom and back again. You might think that my risk was underwritten by my middle-class family, but they actually turned their back on me, when I had apparently left my social rank and become 'untouchable'. I was disowned, disinherited.

I can never claim to know what it was like growing up in abject poverty. My parents might claim that they never had any money, what with my mum being a student and my dad working behind a bar in a caravan site, when I was born. However, my granddads were both professional men with good pension provisions, who were able to bail out my drug-addled hopeless parents whenever they really hit hard times. The same privilege was never extended to me. Perhaps I should have recklessly sowed my wild oats, and then pled poverty when there were extra mouths to feed, like they did.

Me in the office

A parent's relief that their child is alive and physically healthy has no bearing on whether a person feels grateful to be alive. I didn't choose to be born and I don't want to go on living, if life is just endless misery and suffering. If you expect your kids to love you unconditionally, you're just plain wrong. It totally depends on how you treat them, and there's a real generational problem.

Handing over a planet and an economy that's absolutely fucked, and then retiring, is pretty ridiculous if the generation who are going to have to clean up the mess, accept austerity measures and live a lifestyle that is unimaginably frugal, in order to allow pollution to return to safe levels. It's a bad deal, by anybody's reckoning.

It's in my nature to question everything and anything. There are no taboos for me. There is no 'respect your elders' bullshit, because the first question is "why?". Why should I respect the generation that proliferated nuclear armaments, caused global warming, deforestation, pollution of the water table, an asset bubble that's priced ordinary working people out of the market, an unprecedented increase in the rich:poor gap and widespread economic calamity and didn't think about how they were going to afford their retirement, except by mortgaging the future of their children and grandchildren.

Why do I work? I can't tell you, but I can tell you what damage working does to humanity.

The wealth that I generate goes to corporations, who pay it out in the form of dividends or use it to inflate asset prices, to generate growth for their majority shareholders, who are institutional investors - asset managers - whose job it is to generate yet more wealth for an idle elite who expect to receive final salary pensions and an amazing lifestyle, in return for having wrecked the world.

And you wonder why I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and get excited about going to work?

People that I've worked with throughout my career have read what I've written, and I'm slowly making myself unemployable. How could you employ me, knowing that I don't subscribe to the groupthink? How could you employ me, knowing that I speak my mind, and have no respect for the instruments of power? How could you employ me, knowing that I'm not cowed by fear and insecurity?

I'm impossible to control, using the millstone of debt and the threat of destitution. For me, destitution is freedom. Freedom from the oppression of working a job that only serves to line the pockets of an ungrateful elite who have no respect for the workers of the world, and are only interested in a comfortable retirement at the expense of over 50% of the world's people.

Obviously, I think to myself "I must take this down" or "I must cover this up" or "I must keep my mouth shut". There's a part of me that just wants to take the king's shilling and let him call the tune, no matter how maddened I am by degrading myself as the court jester.

There is so much false promise. Work today and be happy tomorrow. Fritter away my cash on good times to forget about the soul-less day-to-day existence and futility of it all, is what I could so easily do. I've done it before.

I sometimes laugh at myself, so full of middle-class angst, but there's a deep seriousness here. It's just bullying groupthink to call somebody a hypocrite or a champagne socialist. The fact of the matter is, somebody has to do something, because we're sleepwalking towards disaster. The middle classes are just about comfortable enough to write letters and furrow their brows with concern, but not enough to actually risk their jobs or their reputations and good social standing.

Every day I sit at my desk, unable to not think about the bigger picture, unable to put the futility of it all out of my mind. I think "what the hell am I doing here?" and even though I'm good at my job and I am perfectly capable of toeing the line and keeping my bosses happy, I inevitably start to rock the boat, just because I have so much barely concealed contempt for a system that so obviously fails to serve the bulk of humanity.

I've let a genie out of the bottle, by considering the wider questions that we face as a species. I've gone down a rabbit-hole of thought, and I can't stop chasing that rabbit, even though I'm throwing away golden opportunities that people would love to have themselves.

Please try not to get caught in the trap of thinking this is a simple case of ingratitude.

Office worker bee

My values and my work are really not at all aligned, and it grates with me, to the point where I really don't give a shit if I lose my job, but I'm not stupid... I know that I only have to play by the rules for a short amount of time, and then I can let the world know what I really think and who I really am, before my horrified bosses get rid of me. Please just kill me.



Counter Cyclical

4 min read

This is a story about being a contrarian...


I remember sitting down with a mortgage broker in 2007, and he said "just focus on the teaser rate, don't worry about the interest rate after the initial 2 year discount. When your 2 years is up, we'll get you another great deal!". I said to this guy "you do realise I work with Credit Default Swaps, don't you?". Naturally, I ignored his advice and went for a deal that I could afford if there was a credit crunch.

I didn't even want to buy a house anyway. I wanted to put all my money into gold, in 2005/6, and I had opened an account at a bullion vault and bought a small amount... at $550 a troy ounce. The dollar was also really weak so it was a cheap buy.

I thought the housing market looked massively dodgy and the amount of money I saw flying around at JPMorgan, in the credit markets, was ridiculous. Clearly, the bubble was about to burst and a store of wealth in a scarce commodity looked like the best bet. There were plenty of dumbasses around though.

In Cambridge in 2011, I read the original paper on Bitcoin. I thought it looked a damnsight more interesting than my startup. By the end of that year, I had started buying Bitcoins. I bought hundreds.

By the spring of 2012, I wanted to pump all of my wealth into Bitcoin. I was buying Bitcoins at $5 a pop. I was certain that there were big capital gains to be made in the emerging Cryptocurrency. Again, dumbassses didn't see the potential, but even I frittered away those first Bitcoins that I bought, rather than keeping them as an investment. Unless I was going to make a sizeable bet I wasn't interested.

Come the summer of 2013 I was running out of money. My solution: invest in Bitcoin miners and buy bitcoins at $100. I borrowed every penny I could lay my hands on and sank it all into Bitcoin. I offered to cut friends and family in on the potential rewards. Two friends let me manage an investment for them. My family wouldn't give me a cent, even to help me keep a roof over my head.

An idiot - my father - called me "lucky" when I sold my Bitcoins for well over 1,000% return, later that year. I sold my bitcoin miners for a profit. I made money for my friends.

At some point, you've been "lucky" so many times that it's statistically improbable that it's luck, and in actual fact, all the analysis and reading, and time spent thinking about the macroeconomic environment, somehow seems to beat "luck".

If I'd taken the advice of the idiots, I'd be working in a factory in the provinces for minimum wage, or I'd be dead, although the two things sounds pretty much the same to me. Is it "luck" that means I'm not? Well, I'm not arrogant enough to believe that it was smart choices or hard work that mean I am where I am. I know that I'm "lucky" to be alive, to have functioning kidneys, to have enough brain cells left to not be left as a vegetable.

How do you unpick luck from your story?

There's a snobbery that's coming across, and perhaps you even think I imagine myself as some kind of smarty pants. Well, it's pretty clear from this tale that I've taken some pretty dumb risks and done some staggeringly dumb stuff, lately.

I like to think of it as some kind of karma. If your family treat you like a worthless piece of shit and a know-nothing waste of space, then why shouldn't the wider world be a little kinder to you, and gift you the occasional lucky break when you really need one?

These are my fundamental rules for life:

  • Be nice to your kids
  • Invest in scarce commodities

That is all.




Am I a Bad Person?

7 min read

This is a story about how to lose friends and alienate people...

Primrose Hill

It's remarkable what we assume, and what we're unaware of. It's remarkable how our opinions can be coloured, and prejudices triggered, which completely change our impression of a person, and the way we treat them.

I had declared myself as "fighting mental health stigma" but in actual fact, things like Clinical Depression are so damn commonplace that nobody bats an eyelid if you say you're taking powerful psychiatric medication to stop you from killing yourself. In actual fact, I get more criticism for being medication free and letting my brain achieve its own homeostasis.

When I moved back to London, one of my oldest friends was incredibly sweet and understanding about the fact that I was struggling with my mental health. He took time out to read a bit about what Bipolar Disorder was, and was actively concerned with my wellbeing.

My friends are always playing catch up. By the time I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression, I was already having hypomanic episodes that were beyond the 'healthy' and 'normal' range of moods. Spending copious amounts of money, working ridiculously long hours, hypersexuality, risk taking... these things are not conducive to good health, wealth and stable relationships.

By the time I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I was already trying various forms of self medication. Depressions had gotten so severe that suicide was a very real risk, and hypomania had reached the point where I was starting to get delusions of grandeur, and was at risk of getting into money problems.

By the time I got free from the horrible relationship that was stoking my mood disorder, substance abuse was a big threat. When my divorce sapped my energy and sucked me back into the nightmarish world that I was trying to escape, I gave up and just decided to be a total junkie.

By the time I got cleaned up and back on my feet, word had been spread by my unpleasant family, that I was somehow untrustworthy, a waste of space, a lost cause.

So, I'm pre-empting all of that. This is a pre-emptive strike. I'm telling the world my very worst things, so everybody can get all that prejudice out of the way. I'm putting my worst foot forward.

I'm still here.

My friends and family are still stuck in the position of trying to deal with their prejudice, even though I've already moved on. I'm dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, while people think I'm probably scoring heroin on a street corner and injecting drugs in some crack den.

This 'lag' is extremely annoying. It means I have to deal with a shocked silence. It means I'm isolated, alone, with people who should know me better, thinking terrible things about me. The culture of fear that we've grown up in is powerful, and all those images that the media has put into your mind are suddenly applied to me... it wouldn't surprise me if my own family has imagined me stealing car stereos or mugging grannies.

Eat Crack

There's a lag with me too. It messes with your mind, being homeless one minute, and then working for a massive bank on a really important project, all dressed up in your suit with people giving a shit about your opinion.

How can you go from being the lowest of the low, to the point where there are people who actually think that death's too good for you, to suddenly one of the highest paid people in one of the world's most profitable enterprises, because the market value for your skills and experience is so high?

Is it any wonder that it messes with your mind? Is it any wonder that your brain doesn't know whether you're a worthless piece of shit, and the world would be better off if you were dead, or if actually you deserve a 6-figure salary, and people are telling you that what you're doing is really important and you're a key figure in the delivery of a super important project. How are you supposed to reconcile that?

Just saying that I should remain "grounded" is ridiculous. I have no frame of reference. I have no evidence to suggest that any possible conclusion I could reach would be the right one. Everything that my experience has taught me has been counter-intuitive.

Working hard, being humble, keeping my head down has gotten me nowhere. It hasn't led to greater happiness, more stable mental health, nor has it repaired damaged friendships and improved my relationship with my family.

Equally, taking reckless risks with my health & wealth has brought surprising results. Instead of being dead or destitute, I actually ended up making a fantastic group of friends, as a result of winding up homeless on Hampstead Heath, just after my birthday in 2014. In actual fact, being chucked onto the street by Camden Council ushered in one of the happiest periods of my life in many recent years, probably since I was in Cambridge in 2011.

I don't see any of what I've done as wrong. I've not resorted to lying, cheating, stealing. I've not screwed people over, manipulated them or in any way committed any offensive act against anybody.

However, people seem to take it very personally, when I apparently screw up my opportunities. One of my closest friends was absolutely besides himself when I lost my contract one Christmas. He thought I had deliberately sabotaged it. He was angry that I had seemingly chucked away a golden opportunity.

Things aren't so clear-cut. I'm rarely in a fit state to work. Either I'm suffering from depression, hypomania, or the exhaustion and cognitive impairment of recovery from stimulant abuse. I just don't have the time and money to properly prepare my mind and body for work, so my colleagues and bosses get a rather fucked up version of me, with all the weird highs and lows associated with an extreme mood disorder.

It's not a moral choice, whether I work, whether I relapse, whether I just collapse in a heap and don't do anything.

I know that people like to judge, and I've given away so much ammunition that it's really easy to think you know my character, my morality. I'm very easy to label, to criticise, and to apply your prejudices to.

I'm fed up of feeling guilty, just because people are shocked and unable to see beyond their prejudice and preconceived notions. I'm fed up of having to carry the can for a load of blame and scapegoating that doesn't even apply to me.

In some ways, I'm tempted to rob, to steal, to lie, to cheat... I'm being treated as if I do those things already. If I'm already 'the bad guy' then I guess I should act the part?

Bipolar Memory

People are more sympathetic to mental health problems like depression and bipolar than they are to substance abuse, even though the latter can be a feature of both of the former. I think the problem is the fact that people try and view it as a moral issue