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The world's longest suicide note.

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

All opinions are my own.


Why Bother?

4 min read

This is a story about being put through the wringer...


Why did I fly to Warsaw to start a new job - 1,200 miles from home - and then live out of a suitcase in 12 different AirBnBs in London? Why did I put myself through the stress of spending every single spare penny I have on flights, hotels, AirBnBs, train tickets and other business-related expenses? Why did I have the miserable lonely experience of commuting hours from home and living in temporary accommodation, most of which was throughly dreadful? Why did I work so damn hard to impress my new boss; my new team? Why did I go through all the stress of going though security vetting and background checks? Why did I put up with all the anxiety of having the details of my life pored over by so many gatekeepers?

Having narrowly avoided bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown, I managed to reach the end of one contract and start another one. I managed to get through the transition from one job to another. I managed to deliver one project and start the next one. I did a good job and my client was happy. Now I've started in a new job and I've managed to make a good first impression yet again. I bought a car. I got myself into a financially OK position again.

Now I'm trying to rent an apartment. I'm not asking if I can practice open heart surgery on somebody even though I've got no experience or qualifications. I'm not asking for a favour. I'm offering to hand over my hard-earned cash so that the landlord doesn't have to work. I'll be paying rent up front and a deposit up front AND buying a tenant liability insurance policy, so the landlord is 100% de-risked - there is absolutely no risk in renting the apartment to me. It's my hard earned wages being handed over, because the landlord has wealth and assets and I don't - that's the exchange. My labour and their capital. I'm fine with this. That's the way of the world. That's capitalism, and I'm part of capitalist society so that's just the way things work.

The thing that's really upsetting me is that I'm going through yet more gatekeepers. There are all manner of checks and things that are being done on me - my credit rating, my previous landlords, my birth certificate, my DNA, my sexual preferences, my subconscious thoughts... my private life is being thoroughly poked and prodded. I'm not asking for a fucking favour. I'm exchanging my hard-earned wages for a place to live is all that's happening.

I hate the language of the whole thing - that I'm applying to be a tenant, like there are landlords out there who don't want to earn money for nothing... my money's no good for some reason. I hate the implication that I could be found wanting and rejected. I think it's inhumane. I find it offensive.

What happens if I AM rejected? Presumably it means that I'm well and truly stuck being homeless. If I can't rent a home from one letting agent, who's to say that things would be any different with another? They all have more-or-less same process of weeding out the bad eggs - those who are deemed unfit to be able to return to civilised society. There are significant barriers to entry. It's remarkably difficult to simply get a job and a place to live.

In short, why bother? Why put myself through such a degrading and horrible existence? Why should I beg and grovel and kowtow? Why am I being put through the wringer? Why is it so awful, when all I want to do is work, earn money and hand it over to somebody else for a place to live? Why bother? Why suffer this shit?

It's making me very upset. It's keeping me awake at night. I don't need this shit. I don't deserve this shit.




Hidden Homeless

6 min read

This is a story about having a place to call home...

No fixed abode map

Here's a picture of what it's like being of no fixed abode. The pins mark the 12 places where I've stayed in the last three months, with the exception of a hotel in Warsaw and my friends' place in Wales. You might not think of me as homeless because I've not been sleeping rough, but I've not enjoyed the security of owning a home or having a tenancy agreement. The process of evicting somebody onto the street is not that difficult if they're in rent arrears or defaulting on their mortgage, but things are even more insecure if you're no fixed abode. You have no rights if you're sofa surfing. This is not a criticism of the wonderfully kind and generous thing that my friends have done, letting me live with them, but it's still a form of homelessness to not have a home of your own.

It's really expensive being homeless. If you can't raise the money for a deposit you'll pay a premium for a hostel bed or to rent a room. It cost me an absolute fortune in train fares, travelling back to Wales every weekend because Friday and Saturday nights are more expensive than staying midweek in London, and there's less availability.

You might think it's laughable that I consider myself to be homeless, but I've slept rough and I've lived in hostels. I know what homelessness is. I know what being down and out on the streets is. I've lived it. I'm still homeless - one argument with my friends and they could ask me to leave. I don't have secure housing. That makes me homeless. Yes, my friends are incredibly kind and charitable, but can you imagine what it's like living without the legal protection that you take for granted? In Maslow's hierarchy of needs shelter and security are the foundations on which our entire sense of happiness and contentment are built. Can you imagine not having a home of your own, but instead being reliant on the ongoing charity of perhaps one single person? Can you imagine how insecure that would make you feel?

Undoubtedly my life has been saved by my kind friends taking me in and making me feel incredibly welcome in their family. Undoubtedly my recovery, my stability, my improved situation can be credited to the kind family who took me in. Without their love, support, food and shelter I'd have been shoved into to some godforsaken B&B in the Greater Manchester area and probably have gotten stuck in the revolving-doors of the mental health system, seen as a basket case and a drain on society; an undesirable. With support I've been able to get myself back on my feet, almost.

I'm really not biting the hand that feeds me. I'm incensed that it's so hard to find security in British society. All I want is a secure place to live and a tolerable job that pays enough money for a modest little life. Why is it so hard to re-enter civilised society? Why are there so many gatekeepers and obstacles, stopping people from pulling themselves by their bootstraps and getting themselves back on their feet?

The stress and anxiety of the bureaucratic nightmare involved in getting a job and renting an apartment is a utterly dreadful. I've had to produce so many documents, fill in so many forms, answer so many questions and have my life poked and prodded by an army of nosey parkers, intent on discovering any black mark that might give them an excuse to reject me. I don't know why people even bother subjecting themselves to such an ordeal. I can see why so many people find themselves homeless - it's just so awful and stressful to keep the plates spinning and the wheels turning and remain a member of civilised society. There's an enormous barrier to entry, and I'm one of the lucky ones because I don't have a criminal record or a bankruptcy that makes me one of society's rejects.

One week today I might get the keys to an apartment that I can call my own if I'm lucky. I'm going through a tenancy *application* process. It should be noted that it's seen as an application - I'll only be allowed to hand over my hard-earned cash to somebody who's not going to work for it if I'm lucky. I'm only allowed to be a slave of the rentier class if I'm lucky. I shall have to doff my cap and kowtow and pray to the sky monster that I am allowed to have something that should be a basic human right.

It's awful that property is seen as an asset. It's awful that we have to mortgage ourselves up to the eyeballs or pay rent for all eternity, to line the pockets of the capitalists. Property isn't something we should profit from. Property is essential for life, and to attempt to profit from it is wicked and evil. It's no different than buying up all the insulin and then price gouging, because the alternative to not having it is death. Profit and capital gain is not driving efficiency, it's driving misery. Property speculation is not rewarding hard work and useful contribution to society... in fact it's rewarding the most antisocial people in society.

While the headline news for the best part of two weeks has all been about a man who got sick but hasn't actually even died, have we forgotten how many people are living in poverty? Have we forgotten about the mental health epidemic that's ruining so many lives and causing so many suicides? Have we forgotten about how many people are just about managing, or in fact are not managing at all - those who are on the brink of financial ruin, poverty, destitution - and are having a thoroughly miserable time? Have we forgotten about the tens of millions of British people who are living lives of quiet desperation, because the media has an agenda to push - that we should supposedly give a shit about one former spy who hasn't even died yet - instead of the very real suffering of a vast and ever-growing proportion of society?

I can understand why they call the magazine sold by the homeless The Big Issue. Why aren't homelessness and housing issues top of the political and media agenda? I couldn't give two fucks about a half-poisoned spy when so many people are freezing to death on the streets.




Conservation of Energy

5 min read

This is a story about working...

Phoenix rising

I want to be busy. I want to have the distraction of being engrossed in a project. I want to feel like I have a purpose and I'm working towards a goal. I want to feel like hard work will get me to the end result quicker. I want to feel like there's a relationship between the effort I put in during my waking hours and the net result. The rewards should feel commensurate with the energy expended.

I'm writing less and that's because I'm making some progress. In the absence of another outlet for my creativity, all my pent-up energy gets poured into writing. In the absence of another more productive distraction, I write a lot.

I've still got a lot to say but I don't feel the pressing need to write about anything at the moment. I have a huge list of blog post titles that I could use to get me started, but I'm actually feeling fairly content to have a period of lower output. I expect that if something upsets me I'll be pouring my heart and soul out, but I'm feeling alright at the moment.

Work is going alright. I'm in the process of renting an apartment. My cashflow is OK at the moment. Things are going OK with my girlfriend. I'm seeing friends and doing activities. My life's generally a lot healthier and happier than it was a few weeks ago.

Writing doesn't feel like it's very energy-consuming, but it's exhausting living with a lot of anxiety and in fairly dreadful and toxic circumstances. It's awful living without much hope of life getting better. I feel like things are improving and I've got some hope for the future, so I don't need to write so much. Things are not so desperate.

I need to learn how to take it easy and plod along at a steady pace. I need to stop working as hard as I possibly can and travelling as fast as I can. I've been rushing everything because I've been under so much pressure. I've been so close to disaster for so long that when there's a window of opportunity to fix my life I have to be quick. Things are going alright, so I need to back off the gas pedal and engage the cruise control for a while.

My life has become quite sensible all of a sudden. I go to bed early. I get up early. I'm in the office on time and I work less than 8 hours a day. I take my time and I don't rush my work. I'm working at a sustainable pace, rather than burning myself out.

It's been incredibly draining to get to this point, but hopefully I can limp along and I'll slowly recover from the ordeal that led me up to this point. To all intents and purposes my life appears to be getting fixed up very rapidly, so you might find it offensive that I talk about the struggles I've been through, but it's true - it wasn't very long ago that I was absolutely screwed and had no hope of fixing my life.

It's going to take months and months before I'm well and truly in a good position with an apartment of my own and a pile of money in the bank. It's going to take a long while before I prove that my stability hasn't been just a fluke. I can't really believe that I've managed the best part of 4 months at work without a major incident, despite it being the crappiest time of year and there being a heap of stress in my life. I need to keep going and get into a really good routine. I need to get back to position of financial and housing security and regular social contact, and maintain that for a good long while. I'm slightly nervous that I might be experiencing the calm before the storm, but I've managed 6 months without a destructive mood episode or any self-sabotaging behaviour, so it's a good omen.

The next challenge is to get the keys to the apartment I'm renting and move in without having some kind of breakdown. When I rented the place in London on the river it nearly killed me. I don't want to repeat past mistakes, but everybody needs somewhere to call home. No more sponging parasites trying to ride my coat tails and ripping me off for thousands of pounds of unpaid rent and bills this time. No more Klingons.

I'm optimistic. I'm enjoying my new job. My finances are in reasonable shape, although cashflow's going to be a little tight what with buying a car and renting an apartment in the space of a few weeks, plus buying some clothes I need for work and other unavoidable expenses. You have to speculate to accumulate.

I thought I was going to write just a few hundred words but I seem to have written much more than I was expecting to. Oh well. Better out than in.

It's Friday and I feel like I've worked hard to get to this point and I'm seeing some rewards. I know that I don't really 'earn' my money per se, because my job is very easy and I'm overpaid, but there are lots of ways that I DO work really hard, so I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for what I've achieved. I know there's lots more hard work ahead, but I'm going to celebrate a little bit - another working week completed and more money on the way, hopefully. I'm digging my way out of the hole little by little.

It's frustrating that hard work often doesn't pay off, but I feel like I've always been rewarded for my efforts.




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.




Living Out of a Suitcase

4 min read

This is a story about three snapshots in time...

Pile of clothes

Here's a picture of what my life looks like tonight. That pile contains almost everything that I need each week. In a single holdall, I can transport my work clothes, my regular clothes, a few toiletries and a handful of other things that I use regularly. I live out of this bag. This is my mobile life.

Psych ward bags packed

This is what my life looked like 6 months ago. Here are my bags in the psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) where I was locked up for a week. I was discharged from my section at tribunal after 12 days. I stayed in the psychiatric hospital for about 3 weeks in total, most of it voluntarily. Note: it's the same black holdall as pictured at the top.

Wheelie suitcase

This is what I managed to reduce my life to so that I could leave my apartment in London, when I was forced to take a job in Manchester because I was close to destitution. This is everything that I took with me when I left the city I've lived in for most of my adult life - in fact longer than anywhere I've lived in my entire life - to go to a city I'd never visited before and a flat I'd never set foot inside.

Most people take a stable home for granted. Most people have friends or relatives who they could live with if they fell on hard times. Most people find moving house to be one of the most stressful things they ever do, and they don't do it very often.

I was no fixed abode. I slept rough and I slept in hostels. I slept in dorms with up to 13 other farting, snoring people, making noise around-the-clock. I've been either on the streets or on the verge of being back on the street for longer than I care to remember. I've either been homeless or had the threat of homelessness hanging over me for an unbearable amount of time.

Sea view

I viewed an apartment this evening. That's the view from the lounge. Yes, it's really soon to be thinking about renting my own apartment, but I've been on a hell of a long journey. I was born in Wales. I've come home to Wales. I want to live here. I want to put down roots. I want to stop moving from place to place. I want to stop living out of a suitcase. I want to feel like I have a place I can call home that's mine.

I'm incredibly grateful to my friends for letting me live with them. Taking in a mentally ill homeless junkie alcoholic thief beggar bankrupt loser murderer baby-eater was a brave thing to do. It was so kind and generous of my friends to risking having a horrible monster like me in their family home. It shouldn't be understated how much of a big risk it is to take in a homeless person and give them a chance to get back on their feet. My friends have nursed me back to health.

The journey isn't over. I need to keep all the plates spinning. I need to continue to maintain my friendships, keep doing a good job at work, keep developing my fledgling romance, keep my car running and the money flowing... it's not easy. Theoretically, I have enough money to pay 12 months rent. In practice, cashflow is going to be really tight. It's going to be super stressful going through all the hassle of renting a place to live... like, how do I explain that I haven't got a reference from a previous landlord? Perhaps I can show them the excellent feedback that I've got on my AirBnB profile from all those different places I stayed in London during the last few months.

Oh my god it'll be so good to finally unpack. It'll be so good to have my own place. It'll be so good if I can get a bunch of the pieces of the puzzle all in place at the same time.




I Don't Miss London

7 min read

This is a story about life in the provinces...

Primrose hill sunrise

For four years I tried in vain to get back my old life where I was an eligible bachelor living in the Angel Islington, zone one, and I could walk to work in the City and all the trendy bars and restaurants on Upper Street or skateboard into the West End. I used to park my car right outside my flat and go kitesurfing on whichever beach tickled my fancy on any given weekend. I used to jet off to exotic locations for several holidays a year. I was living the dream, and I tried to recreate that dream but I failed.

The closest I ever got to being happy in London was when I was homeless. Sleeping rough in Kensington Palace Gardens will be a memory I'll treasure forever, as will the hostels where I made friends with heaps of junkies and alcoholics. I started to rebuild a social group amongst my fellow homeless, and that made me happy; secure.

Blending a 'normal' life with one of homelessness and fraternising with the homeless is not easy. Keeping regular office hours is hard when your friends work doing casual labour and as part of the gig economy. Living in a hostel dorm, but having to go to work suited and booted in a crisp shirt and sharp suit, is something that's quite difficult. In the end, I lost everything again.

I wouldn't opt for the high-risk, high-reward strategy again, in London. It's too much pressure to maintain a high-living lifestyle. It wasn't really my choice to rent a luxury riverside apartment... I asked a friend if he'd help me find a place to live - given that I was homeless - and he decided that 25% of my monthly salary didn't sound like too much of a big financial commitment.... except it was actually thousands of pounds a month that I *HAD* to keep earning after I signed the lease. I wouldn't do that again.

Everything's a little easier in the provinces. I can drive to work. I can park for free. The roads aren't congested as hell and I don't have to pay a congestion charge. People are more laid back and they work shorter hours. It's easier to impress the bosses and the work's really easy too. Things are less competitive. Things are less hectic; stressful.

I feel bad that my lifestyle's quite polluting, but I can drive into town and park to go shopping. I can drive to see my girlfriend and park outside her house. I can leave work at 4:30 and be home before 5pm. I can drive to the beach. It's not an energy-efficient global-warming conscious lifestyle at all, but it's a hell of a lot less stressful and exhausting than living in an overcrowded city.

I love the social aspect of London, where there are so many interesting people and fascinating cultural events, but I was always too stressed out and unwell to participate. I was barely surviving in London for most of those four years. I was able to hang out in my lovely apartment for two years, but I was completely withdrawn - I hardly ever left the apartment.

I never quite got back to having everything I needed in London - there was always one thing that was badly broken in my life. When I had the apartment, I lost my job. When I got a girlfriend, I ran out of money. When I had money, I lost my friends. It's really hard to get and keep the things you need in London, mostly because everything's really expensive and takes a lot of effort and energy. You need to run just to stand still in London.

I commuted home from work just now and I sat in a big queue of traffic, but it was moving slowly and it didn't take long before I got through it. The sun was shining and I was in my little car, which is actually thoroughly decent for the money I paid for it, and it was alright. I could've phoned somebody for a chat. You can't phone a friend for a chat when you're stuck on an underground train.

Life's a hell of a lot simpler outside London. Things are within the realms of possibility quite easily. It won't totally bankrupt me to rent a nice apartment locally. Buying, taxing and insuring a car hasn't completely bankrupted me. The cost of living is substantially cheaper than London, to the point where money should hopefully quickly accrue. Tomorrow I will have earned enough money to pay for 6 months rent, which is great because I'll soon get to the point where I have more financial security. I need to have more security. It's been too long that I've been hustling like hell, trying to get back into civilised society.

I wish I could've made it work in London because I'm a proud person and it feels like I failed, but I made a few wrong choices and mistakes are costly in London. Everything's costly in London. At least London's big enough that you can make some really big screw-ups and get away with it.

There's pressure in the provinces to not screw things up, because your nosey neighbour is gonna know about it and never let you forget if you make a mistake, but life's a hell of a lot easier. Yes, you might have to hide your face in shame; you might have people gossiping about you behind your back; you might become a 'known' face, rather than just an anonymous member of the seething masses, like you are in London. I'm glad I went through all my troubles in London, where nobody will ever remember me - in theory, I live my life without prejudice, because I've been able to leave that part of history behind. That's one of the reasons why I've not gone back to Bournemouth - because of my messy divorce and the fact my ex-wife still lives there... it's her place now.

My life's got the potential to be delightfully simple and straightforward. I can almost sense the possibility of having a work:life balance. Things might become sustainable - it's certainly within the realms of possibility. I earn bucketloads and the cost of living is so much less here in the provinces, there's a good chance I can quickly get back on my feet.

I've only worked a week in the new job, but I'm making good progress and I'm managing to cope with the early morning and the lack of sleeping pills. I've managed to get where I wanted - local friends, local girlfriend, local job, car, roof over my head, money in the bank. There are things that still need fixing, like having a place of my own and getting more job and financial security, but those things will come soon enough as long as I can keep turning the pedals; keep getting up in the morning and going to work.

The guy I work with works a snail's pace, but that's OK. It's a marathon not a sprint. It's good for me to learn to work at a slower pace - it's more sustainable. I can't believe that we've achieved so little in the best part of a week, but who cares? The pace of life is slower in the provinces. We'll get there in the end. No rush.

If things go wrong, I'll probably end up eating my words and rushing back to the capital, because there's bucketloads of easy money to be made there. Here in the provinces, there are fewer choices. Of course I'm going to go back to London, chasing girls and big money contracts if this provincial life doesn't work out for me. London has rich pickings, where the provinces have only a few options that you'd be really happy with. I'll try to make it work, but it'll be more heartbreaking out here in the sticks, where it's hard to be philosophical about things not working out - there are only a few companies that you'd want to work for, and there are fewer potential soulmates.

At the moment, I'm quietly optimistic. It's Friday tomorrow, and despite the dreadful Monday morning, the trajectory of the week has been one of steady improvement. It bodes well.




Rock Bottom

7 min read

This is a story about quality of life...


You would have thought that rock bottom would come when you're sleeping rough, arrested by the police, thrown into a cell, you've spent all your money on drugs, you've got a physical dependency, you end up hospitalised or locked on a psych ward. You would have thought that losing your job, your apartment and tarnishing your otherwise squeaky clean CV, credit score and other things that are important to give you access to well-paid respectable work, would be the most crushing blow. In fact it's the lead-up to the point where you lose everything that's far worse. Once you're cut adrift and tossed by the wind and the waves, then you might as well just relax and go with the flow.

I woke up this morning, having been awake since 3am, worrying about the tricky transition between two contracts that are worth six figures, annually. It's a nice problem to have, right, to have two companies offering to pay you big fat wads of cash for your time and expertise, but the reality is somewhat more complicated.

I've drained my business bank account, because I've needed to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms, train tickets and AirBnB rooms. I've been working for three months, but I'm still waiting to be paid - these are the commercial challenges I face. You've got to speculate to accumulate.

I have borrowing facilities available to me, but a substantial portion of my income is wasted on interest, paying for the money which I've needed for cashflow. Cashflow is tight when you're only managing to work 12 weeks a year, because you've been so unwell. I was hospitalised with DVT and both my kidneys had failed. I was hospitalised after a massive overdose - a suicide attempt. I was hospitalised and sectioned for mental health reasons, for my own protection. These are considerable obstacles to earning money, despite the fact that I discharged myself from hospital against medical advice, so that I could struggle into the office and not lose my job... but I lost it anyway. After my suicide attempt I struggled into the office, but I lost my job anyway.

I'm struggling into the office every day. I'm working Tuesday to Friday, for 4 hours each afternoon. My colleagues look at me like I'm taking the piss, as I saunter in at lunchtime and leave soon after 5pm. I travel across the country on a Tuesday morning, and I travel back the other way on a Friday evening - over 3 hours each way, which some people might scoff at. I know that there are many people who do long commutes, but I doubt many of them do them in the same year they were hospitalised as many times as I've been, due to medical emergencies.

This is my rock bottom - I'm only able to work about 16 hours a week, but it's killing me. I woke up this morning and I'm properly physically sick. If it hadn't been for the fact that I had to check out of my AirBnB, I would have stayed in bed. You'd have stayed in bed too, if you felt like I do. This is rock bottom - struggling along and barely managing to survive, even if you think that my situation is not very desperate.

I'm quite qualified to tell you what's desperate and what's not, because I've slept rough on the streets; I've lived in 14-bed hostel dorms and psych ward dorms. It's not a competition. Either you accept that I know what rock bottom looks like, or you don't.

What you can't see - because you only look at the good bits - is how quickly my life could unravel. I've got no safety net; I've got no cushion. My life hangs by a few slender threads. Of course I accept that I've had a run of good luck, such that I haven't ended up bankrupt and sleeping rough again. Of course I accept that I've had a run of good luck that there are still opportunities available to me; there's still a slim chance that I might rescue myself from my desperate situation.

There's an infantile attitude that I have to constantly suffer, like life is simple and all I need to do is get a job stacking shelves in a supermarket. You don't understand how real life works. You're not acknowledging reality. In reality we can't just abandon all responsibility and pretend like it's not psychologically destructive to lose hope; to have our dreams shattered. Loss of status and having a black mark against your name is a big deal. Being chased by debt collectors and bailiffs is a big deal. Having court summonses and court judgements and being sued into oblivion is a big deal. Getting fines and charges and all the other things that get slapped onto a poor person whose life is imploding, is a big deal. Real life... REAL LIFE involves earning as much money as you can, so that you don't have to take a calculator with you to the supermarket and ration out the value-price beans. Your infantile fantasies that we can just abandon everything that society holds dear - bank accounts and credit checks - and instantly switch our lives to be free and easy... this is complete and utter horse shit.

The reality of life is that there's a great deal of precarity. It might not look like it, but I've worked very hard to get myself back on my feet and I'm still a long way off. It might not look like it, but I couldn't have put in any more effort; I couldn't have handled any more stress - it's enough to give the most stable and secure person that you know a massive nervous breakdown. Eventually, we all reach our breaking point. We can't tolerate mental torture forever.

I've got my 3+ hour train journey, then a night in one place, a night in another, a night somewhere else, then it's back on the train, back to my job, time to check into yet another AirBnB I've never set foot in before. I need to buy two birthday presents, get a haircut. I need to do some washing. None of this is beyond the wit of man, but I'm so mentally and physically sick that I need to spend at least a week in bed, but I can't. I've got to keep the plates spinning.

Yes there are parents out there who are stressed out of their minds. Yes there are starving Africans. Fuck the fuck off. You think I've only got nice problems to have? You think my life is rainbows and puppy dogs and candy floss? Fuck the fuck off.

This is my rock bottom, because I want to throw everything away. It's too much effort. It's too much stress. It's causing too much anxiety. It's too exhausting. You think what I do is easy? If it's so fucking easy why isn't everyone doing it? If it's so easy, why aren't more people bouncing back from divorce, losing their home, drug addiction, alcoholism, bankruptcy, trouble with the police, mental health problems, suicide attempts, physical health problems and all the other things that bury people? Why aren't more people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting themselves back on their feet?

It feels like I'm really close to a breakthrough, and that's what makes it so hard. All the time I'm thinking "it's only another 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months... until I'm all fixed up and back to health, wealth and prosperity". It seems like it's no time at all, but that's because you're an idiot. You just don't understand how the shortest possible time can feel like an eternity, when you're in agony; when you're in such distress.

So close but yet so far.




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.





6 min read

This is a story about being overwhelmed...

Park bench

I sit sunning myself in the park. It all looks very idyllic, doesn't it? How enviable my life is - I have not a worry in the world. Wouldn't you too, love to be as footloose and fancy free as I am? Wouldn't it be great if you were unburdened from all your responsibilities and worries, and could just cavort around doing whatever the fuck you wanted, just like me?

A friend phones me. He tells me that all my problems are all my own fault. I can't disagree with him. He tells me that I'm self-centred. I can't disagree with him. He tells me some stories about some problems in his own life. I can't say that my woes are worse than anything he's been through. He tells me about how tough things are in the developing world. I can't disagree.

My head buzzes with thoughts. My thoughts aren't racing; they're quite rational, reasonable, structured and logical. My thoughts aren't warped by a broken ability to correctly perceive reality - I corroborate how I'm feeling with people who are considered to be sane, to validate that I'm not thinking what I'm thinking because I'm unwell.

I've been seriously unwell before. I sat in ice-cold bathwater for hours with a sharp knife at my throat, keeping my elbow on the bathroom door so that if it was opened it would drive the blade into my jugular vein and carotid artery - that was unwell.

I've been seriously unwell before. I've imagined people abseiling down the side of my apartment block who were going to smash in my windows and come into my bedroom. I've imagined that I'm being spied upon. I'll leave it to the reader to conclude what psychiatric label is usually attached to such thoughts.

I've been seriously unwell before. I spent 12 or even 18 hours at a time, trying to make something out of cardboard, string, plastic, rubber, metal, wicker, cloth or whatever else was lying around. I was once convinced I was building a house around myself, but when I had a moment of lucidity, I realised I had simply been moving the same cushion around in a small circle, in a trancelike state.

Of course, I'm not claiming to be well at the moment.

It's been suggested to me by a few people that I could be malingering - that I took an overdose that was very likely to kill me in circumstances where I was very unlikely to be saved, fully knowing that I would survive... somehow; that I managed to fake mental illness so well that I was brought to hospital under a section 136 by the police, and that I continued to fake mental illness so well with the team who assessed me, that I was detained in hospital under section 2 of the Mental Health Act. It's either the greatest ruse - a masterful piece of deception and death-defiance - or maybe it's really easy to abuse the few brain cells I still have left, for nefarious purposes.

Anyway, I'm not supposed to be writing about myself. Think about the starving African children.

Where do you think I live? How do you think I eat?

I'm dependent on charity.

Park bench.

Yeah, damn straight I'm glad I was born in Northern Europe, in a wealthy country where we have a welfare state. Damn straight I'm glad I don't live in some hot dusty shithole, where hunger and disease are rife.

"I want to go home"

My home is this park bench. It's true, I have received kind offers to live with a couple of very charitable people. It's a big deal, to invite a mentally ill, recovering alcoholic, recovering addict, into your home. I bet you wouldn't do it, would you? I probably eat newborn babies and stomp on kittens' heads, just for my own sick amusement.

"I want to go home"

I hear people asking to go home a lot. Every day I hear people shouting that they want to go home. I don't ask to go home. I wonder why?

I chat to somebody about living in a caravan and hiding from debt collectors. My heart leaps. I yearn to escape the relentless pressure I feel to get back to work and start turning the pedals again, but I'm conflicted - I'm a principled man and I want to service my debts; I want to play by society's rules.

Nobody plays by society's rules, except those at the bottom who are trapped into poverty - they have no choice. I've played by the rules for long enough, and it's made me so miserable that I tried to kill myself. People urge me to take a break from the rat race, but they don't understand that the house of cards is going to collapse - there's a lot of money riding on me being able to get back on my feet.

Like a sportsman who chokes at the critical moment, I feel immense pressure to perform and it affects me.

It sounds like I'm pointing the finger of blame everywhere other than myself. Is that your signature on a contract that says you would accept Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) on that loan? Why didn't you read the contract? Did you take out that endowment mortgage or didn't you? How come you didn't understand something that was completely straightforward? Why won't you take responsibility for your obligations?

My friend is right. My life is a problem of my own making.

This whole fucked up mess is a problem of our own making. We are joint and severally liable - do you understand what that fucking means? Do you own up to your part that you've played in all of this?

I'm trying to do my bit and it's making me unwell. So unwell in fact that I tried to kill myself. I mean proper kill myself - dead, forever, gone, finito, sayōnara, the end.

Either I'm the most devious bastard that ever disgraced the surface of the Earth, or circumstances are somewhat out of my control - I'm not fully responsible for the gigantic mess I'm in. Of course, I'm a very convenient scapegoat though.

Although it seems very disjointed and jumbled, this blog does not write itself effortlessly. This blog is not unimportant. This blog is important to me, so that's at least one reason why it's important - I don't need any more than that. Call me selfish and self-centred all you like but I've tried to remove myself from the picture, and I failed. Am I supposed to be sorry that I'm not dead, and I'm still wasting your precious oxygen? Am I supposed to apologise for writing something that you could choose not to read, if you wanted to?

Think about the starving African children. Wow I'm cured!




A Man Slept Here

11 min read

This is a story about winos...

Cardboard city

If you've ever spent a night in a cheap sleeping bag, you'll know what it's like in the small hours of the morning, when the temperature plummets and you can't get warm - you're frozen to the bone and your body shakes to move your muscles, burning energy to heat your blood, which keeps you awake. All you can think about is how nice it would be to be snug and warm and cosy. A rough night will teach you to appreciate your duvet, blankets, heating boiler or furnace, roaring fire and other sources of warmth, like spooning with your sweetheart.

I've slept on a glacier, and it's horrible how quickly the ice leeches away the heat from any body part that strays off your sleeping mat. Concrete is just the same - without some insulating barrier between you and the floor, the cold seems to rise up and enter you... your lips turn blue and your teeth chatter.

In this city of concrete, brick & cement, limestone and granite, there are far more homeless people than I'm ever used to seeing. I've been homeless and slept rough in London. The UK's capital city is a magnet for those seeking to improve their fortunes, through employment opportunities, begging from rich tourists or simply the high quality narcotics.

"Have you scored?" yells a man behind me, to a man at the other end of the road. It's 9:30am on a Wednesday, and these two beggars look familiar to me. My ten minute walk to the office takes me past almost 15 men, who all congregate along the route between the city's two main railway stations - each with their own 'patch'. Some sit quietly with a paper cup on the pavement in front of them; eyes downcast but intently watching the world go by in their peripheral vision. Some look me square in the eye from several hundred metres away - well aware that I am pretending to not notice them - before timing a polite and muted "spare some change please?" request to perfection... all I can say is "sorry mate". Some linger at an intersection, where they step into my path... "excuse me" they say, and my eyes flick up to meet theirs... they know immediately that the element of surprise has not worked - I saw them before they saw me - and I continue my walk undiverted.

How do I know that it's a man who slept rough in that doorway, and he was probably an alcoholic and/or a heroin addict? If one wishes to be pedantic, I don't.

Speaking frankly, a woman who sleeps rough is is at risk of becoming a rape victim at some point. Another unspeakable and unpalatable truth is that a woman in the grips of addiction is not going to spend her nights having her body illegally violently sexually violated against her will, when she could spend that time turning tricks - there are an insatiable number of punters for blowjobs and sex - to pay for just enough heroin and crack to numb the pain of another shitty day of human existence.

What I say is not sexism, prejudiced or anything other than the situation as it stands in the UK - sadly, there are enough rapists out there to make sleeping on the streets a dangerous thing for a woman to do, so our local government will ensure that they are not complicit in any acts of rape or sexual assault that get perpetrated on the streets, though their negligent inaction.

A single man with an alcohol and/or drug problem is not considered to be vulnerable enough to be housed by the local government. In fact, the alcoholics and addicts who line the busy thoroughfares of this bustling city, are viewed as a liability with regards to giving them money and a place to live. "They'll only spend it on drink and drugs" completely misses the point about cause and effect, but statistically it's proven to be mostly correct. Council houses (a.k.a. social housing) and apartments have been turned into absolute shitholes by so many men in the past, that the local authority treats their homeless adult single male population like a plague of modern-day lepers.

Thus, I can make an educated guess that this almost entirely unused fire exit doorway, was where a man laid his head to rest last night. He was probably a heroin addict, but this means nothing - whether it's a symptom or the cause of his destitution is a non sequitur, because homelessness and addiction are intractable. It is as if we ask "which came first? the eggshell or the egg yolk?" without considering the ridiculous notion of having one without the other, and completely ignoring the chicken.

The United Kingdom was flooded with cheap alcohol during the boom years of the 1980s, when the British pound sterling was strong versus the French franc, and enterprising men and women set off across the English Channel to bring back vast quantities of wine. France grew grapes and fermented them in a country that was predominantly rural and agricultural. England, by comparison with our nearest neighbour, has dense areas of population clustering around factories, coal mines, steel mills, dockyards and other organs that were necessitated for the functioning of an empire, as well as the defence of the realm.

Heroin's quality and availability once fluctuated wildly in the UK. The fields of opium-yielding poppies flourish in Afghanistan and Thailand, but the trade routes - the Silk Road - were at the mercy of incredible geopolitical forces. Now, thanks to the intervention of the USA and the UK in illegal foreign wars and 'regime' toppling, the supply of high-quality cheap narcotics has never been in more rude health.

If you think a homeless heroin addict single man is a fool and a failure, you are wrong; completely wrong. If you think in terms of 'bang for your buck' a £10 bag of heroin is going to get you a lot more fucked up than £10 of alcohol. If you think that injecting drugs is insane, you haven't considered the insanity of putting something you've paid your hard-earned money for, into your acidic stomach, where nearly 1/3rd of it will be destroyed. The rational thing to do is to put 100% of your intoxicant directly into your bloodstream.

If we followed the logic of the homeless man, we would all have a canula in one of our veins, and we would pay £1 for pure ethanol to be squirted into our bodies from a syringe, whereupon we would be immediately intoxicated to the point of near-blackout.


Before we go any further, I should make it clear that I am not advocating injecting drugs - or drug abuse of any kind - nor have I ever injected any drugs, or had another person inject me with narcotics.


If one wishes to consider the desperate plight of an addict or alcoholic, one only needs to think about the period when many homeless men would drink methylated spirits. Methanol differs from ethanol chemically, but methylated spirits - known colloquially as meths - has been deliberately poisoned by manufacturers, in an effort to discourage human consumption, without success. I can buy 5 litres of meths - roughly the same volume as 7 bottles of wine - for around £10, but to drink it would kill me. Out of desperation to avoid delirium tremens, which can cause seizures and death, alcoholics will drink small amounts of meths to self-medicate for their physical dependence on alcohol, despite the fact that it will cause them to go blind.

The war on drugs and the war on terror have now created a reliable supply chain, whereby the most powerful narcotics on the planet are available at unsurpassed purity and at rock-bottom prices, as never before witnessed in human history.

Competitive free-market economics has given rise to a swathe of pharmaceutical giants, vying to innovate with new medications that are 'better' than anything seen before, in a race for profits. Fentanyl and carfentanil were born into this world in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively. Carfentanil is so potent, that an aerosol mist of it could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Although the Russian government does not officially acknowledge it, carfentanil has been used in a terrorist hostage situation - pumped into a building as a gas - resulting in the deaths of 125 innocent civilians in a single incident, from opiate overdose.

The rise and rise of the zero-hours contract McJob and a hopeless future for unskilled labourers, in the face of global capitalism, has created insecurity and the total destruction of the prospect of happy and contented family life for a scandalous number of men. While pram-faced mothers, with gold hoop earrings and their hair held back tightly in a scrunchie, will be prioritised for social housing, our entire welfare system discourages work and parental bonds. Economically, a single mother is better off than one who stays with the father of her children. Dads have been made redundant by cheap Far-Eastern labour. People respond to incentives, and so we have created a generation of children from broken homes. We have created an unacknowledged mountainous scrap-heap of homeless single male drug addicts, in a society that has no better use for them, other than to let them rot.

We are all familiar with the concept of supply and demand, but there is also something intrinsic in our genetic programming that makes us seek out value for money. It seems obvious that given the choice of intoxicants, I would select 1 gram of carfentanil instead of 1 gram of morphine. An amount of carfentanil the same size as a grain of salt is enough to kill me by overdose - carfentanil is better value for money, being about 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

The opium smokers became morphine addicts, then diacetylmorphine (heroin) addicts, then fentanyl addicts and now carfentanil addicts. The subsection of the population who have abandoned hope are always driven to seek the strongest mind-altering substance that they can obtain, for the money which they beg (panhandle), borrow or steal in order to support their 'habit' each day.

1 kilogram of carfentanil could kill the entire population of the United Kingdom. Carfentanil is produced in bulk quantities in the Far-East, where - ironically - all the manufacturing and mining jobs have gone, leaving vast numbers of men economically redundant.

In this city where I now live, the capitalists drove the cloth-making industry into a race to the bottom, negatively affecting the prosperity of nations such as India, which has over a billion inhabitants. It seems apt that the 'payback' for this global suicide pact should be so publicly conspicuous. Homelessness and addiction are openly on display, as symptoms of a world that is sick with an illness that's called capitalism; vulgar greed and hoarding of wealth.

I am full of sorrow that so many of my fellow citizens are left bewildered as to what happened to their once-great nation, and seek solace in all the wrong places. To help even one man (#frank) exhausted my economic reserves. All I have left is the power to spread word to more people than I could ever manage to speak to individually, using the power and freedom of the Internet. I preach to the converted, so often, but to stop and speak to the abandoned men - each in their 'patch' - is impossible in the face of a capitalists waving a fistfuls of dollars in front of a sea of hungry people.

All I can say to my readers who own computers, smartphones and Internet connections - you have a golden ticket that the man who slept on the cardboard in the doorway last night, does not have. He's viewed as trash, just the same as the remnants of his existence left behind when he awoke and moved elsewhere this morning.