Skip to main content

The world's longest suicide note

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

All opinions are my own

twitter.com/ManicGrant

nick@manicgrant.com

www.facebook.com/manicgrant

 

What's Missing from this Picture?

4 min read

This is a story about unnecessary packaging...

Holiday essentials

I've had a stressful morning. I had to package my Macbook carefully so that it could be safely sent away to be repaired. I had to locate the original packaging for my Virgin broadband router and box it up so it could be sent back to them, even though it's defective junk. I then had to find a UPS parcel drop-off point and a Collect+ drop off point to drop off the respective parcels. This required a trip to purchase bubble wrap, a suitable sized box and packing tape, as well as two more trips to two different drop-off places.

While I was out dealing with those chores, I also had to purchase a piece of carry-on luggage and some flip-flops. The flip flops were sold to me in a box. I don't know why flip flops need a box - just a simple cardboard clip to keep the left and the right flip-flop together is more than sufficient.

Anyway, I'm home now. I have located my passport. I have located some leftover Euros I had from the last holiday I took... 22 months ago. I opened the box containing my new flip-flops and lo and behold, there was a discrepancy in the number of flip flops present in the box - 50% of the required number of flip-flops were missing.

Do I drive back into town, park my car, walk to the shop and explain the situation in the hope that they admit their mistake and remedy it without quibble? Do I just purchase a second pair of flip-flops and then open and check inside the box before i leave the store? Do I just abandon the whole ill-fated exercise, and buy a pair at the tiny departure airport, where the shops will probably be closed? Do I take time out from the one single whole day I get to spend with my friend, without either of us having to worry about airport arrivals/departures, hotel check ins/out and all the rest of that crap, just to go looking for some suitable summer footwear?

I don't know why this is making me upset, because I don't even know if the nerve damage to my left foot/ankle is so bad that I can even wear a flip-flop on that foot. The last time I tried, I didn't have enough sensation and motor control to keep a flip-flop on my foot.

Also, my flight's delayed - French air traffic controllers on strike or something. My flight barely enters French airspace, but whatever... everyone should have the right to go on strike for better pay and conditions.

My 'holiday' is really just a day spent with a friend who I hardly ever get to see, then we both fly home on Monday. I have another week to go before my current gig comes to an end, so I need to make sure I take the money while it's there on offer.

"Have you got any holidays planned?" asked a person I spoke to on Friday, which is code for "we want you to work solidly until you drop dead". We'll have to see how badly they want me, because I really need a holiday - a proper holiday.

It seems churlish to complain, but I've had a month of hell. Breakup, losing my local job, getting sick, holiday plans pretty much cancelled, the stress of finding a new gig, the prospect of going back to London, the never-ending pressure to generate vast sums of cash to dig myself out of the hole... the hole I can never quite escape from. FML.

What was supposed to be a romantic beach holiday with my [ex]girlfriend has now turned into a very brief weekend meetup of two old friends. It'd have been far easier for us to meet in London, as he was there yesterday. He's travelled London -> Prague -> Lisbon -> Faro -> Lisbon -> Prague, and I'm travelling Wales -> Bristol -> Faro -> Bristol -> Wales. Our carbon footprint is criminal.

Hopefully I'll be in a better mood when I wake up in Faro tomorrow and I can hang out with my old friend for the whole day, free from commitments and responsibilities... I can put up with sweaty feet.

 

Tags:

 

Nice Place to Die

12 min read

This is a story about fear of death...

London panorama

I had 3 major admissions to the Royal Free Hospital on the hills of Hampstead, overlooking central London. I snapped this shot after waking up with canulas in both my arms, 10 cables attaching me to an ECG machine, a motorised drip pump shoving fluid into me as fast as it could go. I was a pincushion from all the blood samples that had been taken.

Doing a quick body scan, my right leg was horrifically swollen. My right knee was damaged. The operation to reunite the two halves of my calf muscle, repair 4 severed tendons and reconnect 2 nerves, was still healing. I had a big burn on my lower abdomen. There was throbbing dull pain just under my ribcage at the front, and either side of my back, where my liver was torn and my kidneys were failing. There was fluid on my lungs. My chest was tight and constricted.

Was I scared? Did I call out for a loved one? Did it bother me that my prognosis was pretty grim? Do you think it even crossed my mind that I might die alone, except for one or two strangers in the mostly empty ward?

The photo captures the sun low in the sky, not long after dawn.

As long as I die in London, I know I tried my best to find my way back to the land of the living. I have no fear of death in London. Nobody dies of shame in London. If you can't find your will to live in London, you can slip away peacefully. You're never truly alone in London.

I had a 4 hour operation under general anaesthetic to fix the injury inflicted upon me by my parents. I travelled home on the bus on my own after a few days recovering in hospital. My leg was in plaster cast, held in severe dorsiflexion and was not weight bearing. I was as weak as a kitten. I let myself back into my friend's house, hopped up the stairs to the guest bedroom and collapsed in bed.

I had already spent several days in Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital in their high-dependency care unit, while they tried to stabilise my muscle damage and save me from kidney failure. I'd made my way back to London with a blood sodden bandage that was little better than the field dressing that I had improvised with sanitary towels and a dressing gown cord, before paramedics arrived. I had assumed that despite the wound being down to the bone, it was nothing that a couple of stitches at a minor injury clinic couldn't fix. It wasn't me who called 999. I was just trying to get back to London.

Back in London and finding myself with a spare evening before my operation, I had gone to a adventure sports film festival, hobbling along with my lame leg. The severed tendons meant that I was not even able to raise my foot any more, and it dragged and caught on kerbs and steps, causing great pain.

Having never experienced a general anaesthetic, I felt the same trepidation that I felt before my first skydive or another extreme leap into the unknown. However, there was never any doubt that it was something I couldn't face on my own. Just go along with it. Trust to fate, skilled professionals and technical equipment. Blind faith.

You should see the way I ride my bike. One slip and you're a goner, when you thread your way in-between the massive heavy goods vehicles, transporting steel beams for the construction of Crossrail. The double-decker bus drivers are amazingly skilled and seem to manage to not squash too many cyclists. However, when you mix together the debutanté Über drivers in their Toyota Priuses, hard-up black cab drivers, various small delivery vehicles, plus the unpredictable mix of abilities of people driving around central London, it's no wonder that paramedics call bike riders "organ donors".

When I hear that yet another of my fellow commuters has hurled themselves under a tube train, I burst into tears. It's too much to bear, thinking that some of my fellow Londoners have reached the end of their rope too. Perhaps those less personally affected by suicidal thoughts are the ones who tut about how selfish it is that a huge underground station has to be evacuated so that the human remains can be bagged and carted off to the coroner. The disruption to the capital's transportation network seem huge, but there are so many other veins and arteries in the heart of the nation, that people find alternative routes quite easily, with minor delays.

I'm not emotional when it comes to my own death.

I have fantasised about going on a scouting mission to a nearby tower block that has an open-air balcony with a 40 floor drop. My only concern would be landing on some poor unfortunate on the pavement below - hence the need to check the drop zone in advance.

I would never throw myself in front of a train. It would be too traumatic for the driver and the people on the platform. Even people on the train would feel a bump and judder as the wheels crushed bone and flesh. I know they would. People have described to me exactly what it's like for a tube train to run over a passenger, and I've had to run out of the office crying. Strangely, I don't cry for myself.

Jumping off a bridge in London would be pointless. None of the bridges are high enough, unless you were able to scale Tower Bridge.

Killing yourself in a public place is a bit selfish though. It's bound to leave a big mess to clean up and cause distress for an unpredictable number of people.

I didn't want to commit suicide while I was staying with friends. I felt that it might have been seen as some negative reflection on their hospitality, and would leave bad memories in the guest bedroom where I had been staying, which would tarnish their home.

I'm mindful that whoever I'm living with is burdened already with the uncertainty over whether my resolve to keep myself alive and well is not slipping.

When I am seized by the sudden urge to take myself and a sharp knife to the bathroom and open my radial arteries into the bath, I worry if I would cry out in pain as I dug into the joint on the inside of the joint of my arm, searching for the blood vessels with the sharp point of the blade. Then I worry whether I would be able to contain the mess within the bath, as my heart pumped my circulatory system dry.

Before I have gone any further with these thoughts, I realise that it would be grossly unfair to leave the discovery of my body and handling the police to a friend who doesn't deserve such a responsibility.

I think about setting myself aflame with petrol, in political protest at capitalism, inequality and social injustice, right in the centre of Canada Square. I think about how desperately agonising it would be to be burnt alive. I think about how suffocation would be as deadly as the heat, as the flames consumed all the available oxygen. Gasping for breath, and in unimaginable agony, death would be neither swift nor immediately assured. Dying of the burns over the course of the coming days would not be a great way to contemplate any last regrets.

It's the halfway situation that's the problem. A failed drug overdose so often results in organ failure and a much slower and more painful death than originally intended. Being knocked off your bike while wearing a helmet could mean paralysis rather than death. I know what it's like to score my arms with a razor blade. I know what it's like to wonder what the scars are going to look like when they heal. I know what it's like to experiment to see how deep you have to cut to reach the veins. However, so many cuts will stem the bleeding enough to preserve life, despite leaking profusely at first.

If you spend any time in psychiatric instituions, you meet suicide survivors. Most have had their stomachs pumped or filled with activated charcoal. Many will have their wrists bandaged. Scars from previous half-hearted failed attempts and self-harm, indicate a certain revolving doors nature to our treatment approach. Some of my fellow patients confide in me that they are saving up the very pills that were prescribed to them to prevent their suicide, so that they can have another go. One guy saved his tablets for 8 months and had things well planned except for an unexpected visitor. He was in intensive care for several weeks. He now faces a life of dialysis because his kidneys failed due to the toxic load. He was planning on attempting suicide again at his earliest opportunity.

I met a beautiful young Australian paramedic in hospital. You would have thought that she would value life higher than anybody, but the lesions to her neck indicate that she'd used her medical training to attack her jugular veins.

I read that media coverage of suicide can trigger a spate of copycat suicides. Newspapers are discouraged from reporting on the suicide method used. It's said that jails are like universities for criminals to swap tips and make connections. Could it be that mental health institutions are the same for the suicidally depressed, with more people being likely to end their lives using ideas gleaned while in hospital?

Frankly, there isn't much stopping a resourceful person from finding a way to kill themself. I've considered everything from inert gas to the application of an electrical current across my chest to send me into ventricular fibrillation. The one that is most appealing is drifting off to sleep and not waking up.

There's a famous quote by one of the few people who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, where they said they regretted it as soon as they had let go.

When I once took a drug overdose, there was a momentary twinge of regret that could have lasted about as long as it would have taken me to fall and hit the water, having jumped off a high bridge. There was a period where I would have been able to eject the toxins from my body, if I was suddenly determined enough to save myself. Instead, I then found myself accepting my fate, and a strange calm came over me before the chemicals hit my bloodstream. I was resigned and relaxed about whatever happened next. Death or organ failure. I didn't care.

It was only after a couple of days when my paralysis temporarily lifted and it was clear that the only way I was going to die was very slowly through the accumulated damage to my body, malnutrition and dehydration. I was pissing copious amounts of blood, and I knew I had to make a choice: an agonising slow death where I could be discovered, but it would definitely be the end of my kidneys, or a trip to the hospital and re-evaluate the situation.

I tidied my room. Took a shower. Packed my bags. Called a taxi. Sat in Accident and Emergency for hours.

When I was examined I was immediately admitted and I spent nearly 3 weeks in hospital.

It wasn't the right time to die. This was before I had worked my contracts at Barclays, HSBC and my current client. This was before I had somewhere nice to call a home of my own again. This was before I put together a 370,000 word document that explained who I was and how I arrived at the decision to take my own life.

I lay on the floor, semi-paralysed, and I thought about what kind of message I could scrawl in my incapacitated state, that would make it clear that I knew what I was doing. The circumstances leading up to that moment were a mess. It was too ambiguous. Even a suicide note would be seen in the context of great misfortune and stressful events in my life leading up to that point.

I had planned on starving myself to death or in some way doing myself in on the 1st of January, as some kind of protest at the way that we surmise a suicide with a neat soundbite that's supposed to explain all the reasons why somebody took their own life:

  • "depression"
  • "financial worries"
  • "drug problems"
  • "broken heart"
  • "loss of status"

Take your fucking pick.

Without a conversation, we desecrate the memory of a dead person, by trying to oversimplify the complex problem of what could drive a person to arrive at the decision to kill themself.

In Japan, suicide is an honourable thing. The act of seppuku might be a protest over a decision or a preferable fate to torture. Preparation for the act includes writing a death poem.

Do you really want to be that crazy old homeless guy, yelling "I used to be somebody" as the world pays no attention and the streets finally swallow you into anonymity?

All glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.

 

Tags:

 

Whipping Boy

5 min read

This is a story about my family...

Sad little boy

What better example can I give you of the way I've been treated by my family, than the one from last night. At 2:15am - the wee hours of Monday morning - when I have to get up before 7am, to catch the train to work, I receive a phonecall from my drunk mother:

"You look fucking shit"

Yeah, thanks for the continued abuse. Because that's what it is. There's no beating about the bush here. When drunk drug addicts beat up on their kids, physically or verbally, that's child abuse. Your offspring are your children, and as a parent, rule #1 is don't fucking abuse your kids, OK?

My sister didn't arrive in this world until I was 10 years old, and my Dad was in too much of a drugged up haze to realise that I wasn't like his pet dog. You don't obedience train a child. A child is not a subservient pack animal, that can be taught to roll over, play dead, beg. You haven't got a bad kid, if you find that your human child can't be trained to perform tricks. You've got idiot parents who think they're training a fucking animal, not raising an infant.

Was I badly behaved? Was I fuck. Ask my teachers. Ask my work colleagues. I'm polite and well mannered. I'm courteous and considerate. That's why I got good exam grades and always had top jobs. That's why I was successful enough to buy my own home, pay for a lavish wedding & honeymoon, enjoy a playboy lifestyle with all the luxury trimmings, while my own misbehaving parents have amounted to nothing: not even able to support their children, and with inadequate pension provisions for themselves. In short: they fucked up.

What could be worse, than having failed your children?

If you offer your children worse opportunities than you yourself enjoyed, you have failed. If you expect your children to miss out on school trips and accept a worse education than you yourself enjoyed, you have failed. If you have prioritised your own alcohol and drug abuse, above your child's welfare, you have failed. If you expect your children to go without, because you can't be bothered to get a proper job and work hard to give your children the life that you and your peers enjoyed, you are a selfish failure. If you take out your frustrations on your children - abusing them - then you have failed.

Me on balcony

This is what I look like, right now. I just went out onto my balcony and took a photograph of myself, so you know exactly what I look like, right now. This hasn't been Photoshopped, airbrushed or anything. This is me. Warts 'n' all.

Do I "look fucking shit"? Do I deserve to be phoned up and drunkenly abused, in the middle of the night? What did I ever do to you, other than interrupt your fucking drug binge?

It's fucking hard going, being abused throughout your childhood. You start to doubt your self-worth. You start to feel like you deserve the bullying and abuse. You start to comply with the victim-blaming. You start to think it's OK to be used as a convenient scapegoat for your family's problems and shortcomings.

But you know what? I came to London, and I escaped from the horrible household where I was always to fucking blame for something. I was always the bad kid. I was always in the wrong. Nothing was ever good enough.

And you know what else? I forgave myself for all the shit my parents never said sorry for. They never said sorry for treating me like shit, for being abused in their drunken, drugged up rages that they don't even fucking remember. They never said sorry, and they never will, because they're a lost fucking cause.

I forgave myself, and now I don't think that I "look fucking shit". I'm not shit. I'm not a bad kid. I'm not badly behaved and I'm not to blame for all the things that have been pinned on me.

I'm just me, and I try hard, and I work hard, and I take chances on people, and I try to improve the lives of others, rather than just pointing the finger of blame and abusing those around me. I certainly don't phone people up in the middle of the night and tell them that they "look fucking shit".

You want to know what looks fucking shit?

My leg

Yeah, that's right. The injury you did to me looks fucking shit. I have to look at this scar every day, and it looks fucking shit. Maybe this is what you're referring to? You're right. It does look fucking shit. It's fucking shit that parents would injure their child like this. It's fucking shit.

You did this injury to me, because you're abusive parents, rather than people who treat their children with the respect that they deserve. Rather than treat another human being with the respect that they deserve. That's fucking shit.

So, like a cancer, I have cut my parents out of my life. I have blocked their phone numbers. I have set their emails to go directly to the trash can. I have unfriended them on social media. It's goodbye and good riddance.

I've tried for long enough to be the peacemaker and leave the door open, but if this "you look fucking shit" abuse is the result, then it's over.

It may sound harsh, but I think it's more than fair.

 

Tags:

 

Overdose

8 min read

This is a story about dying while doing something you love...

Autocorrect

Please forgive the gallows humour. I find death quite darkly comic, having lived in its shadow for far too long.

I found myself in possession of a year's supply of Supercrack once. It cost me less than $150 including shipping. A whole year of drug abuse, in one little baggie. Addiction never leaves your side. You can go anywhere you want, but you can't escape yourself.

Having a year's supply of your drug of choice should be an addict's wet dream, right? Well, it depends on the nature of your addiction. If you're still managing to eat and sleep, then perhaps you will make it to the end of the year. If you're not eating or sleeping, then you're simply committing suicide, slowly.

When I was trapped in an abusive relationship and kept away from London, I had given up on life. I was dying. I used to occasionally get scared of death, and clean up my act for a few weeks, but then I would always relapse, because of the same old abusive relationship and isolation from the city I call home.

I finally made it back to London, but there was pointless crap dragging me back into things that were far less important than saving my life.

Hassle Harassment Letter

That's a letter I received, in my mother's handwriting, hassling me about some divorce paperwork that could have waited until I had completed the treatment that I was undergoing to save my life. I had explicitly stated that I didn't want my wife or parents to be in any form of contact with me, while I was trying to get better. During this second attempt, I explicitly forbade my wife and parents from having any contact with me or the professionals who were paid to take care of me.

It was time to get better, get away from the s**ts who nearly hounded me to my grave. It was time to move on. It was time to recover.

Eventually, the vultures f**ked off and thankfully I had enough money left to pay the deposit on a flat and the first couple of months rent and bills, so I could get myself settled, get into a new job etc. etc.

I rented a room in a shared house near some friends in Kentish Town. My time up to this point had been wasted on pointless divorce crap that could have been deferred. I had been relentlessly harassed. Also, having my leg in plaster cast and being on crutches didn't help. My treatment was ruined by people not respecting my wishes. I was in a worse state than ever.

I hobbled into my new room and collapsed. I spent a week crying myself to sleep, I was so exhausted by the trauma of everything that had gone before. I had just about enough money left to make a go of things, but not quite. Everything had to go perfectly.

I had resolved not to commit suicide in my friends' house, where I was a guest, as it would have been a very unpleasant legacy to leave behind in somebody's home. They seemed committed to making that house their forever home, so there was no way I could do that to them.

After moving out and having a week where I felt that I didn't have the reserves of strength and money to continue, I decided to shut up shop. I decided to commit suicide.

The final straw was when my Dad tried to poison my friend's opinion of me, with his warped version of events. People were talking behind my back, and my confidentiality and consent to share information were completely breached. The place where I had spent the best part of £8k on treatment became some kind of counsellor and general centre for misinformation for my parents, despite explicit instructions that they weren't allowed contact.

I took a massive overdose and collapsed on the floor. The three metal prongs of a plug were sticking painfully into my thigh, but I couldn't move. The hot transformer for my laptop was burning my abdomen, scorching the skin, but I couldn't move. My arms were in the most uncomfortable position, but I couldn't move. The weight of my head rested uncomfortably on my chin, with my neck extended very awkwardly, but I couldn't move.

When you have taken an overdose, and you realise that it's overwhelming you, you start to panic. Can you make yourself throw up, if you've swallowed your poison? You know that it's too late... the chemicals are already entering your bloodstream and vomiting will make no difference. There was a moment's regret, and then resignation.

My body spasmed and twitched for quite a long time. There were a lot of auditory disturbances (I heard weird things). My mind kinda went blank for ages, or was caught up with weird confused thoughts. Then it dawned on me that I was alive but still on collision course with death. Day turned to night, and night turned to day, and so on. About 4 days went by with me paralysed like that... just breathing, and my body spasming.

I then started to think about death. I started to consider the possibility that I was going to discover if there was an afterlife or not. I started to think how embarrassed I would be to meet some deity who I never believed in. I didn't start believing in any god, but I considered how sheepish I would be if I met my maker.

Next, I started to think about the waste of it, the waste of life. Not that I was wasting my life, but that there was nothing positive that was going to come from my death. I started to consider how I could leave a message that would somehow prove useful to those who survived me. I started to consider how frustrating it would be to discover something in death, but have no way to pass on that discovery to the living world.

I started to imagine a weird experiment, where two suicidal people would risk their lives to discover if it's possible to communicate from beyond the grave. They would be in two isolated chambers, each with a keyboard. There would be a randomly timed event that would kill them, but they would get about a minute's warning before they were about to be killed. They would then type messages, and only in the event that the messages were co-incidentally the same, would the time be extended.

Eventually, one of the experimenters can type no more and rushes out of the experiment exit to safety. The other experimenter is killed. When the messages are later examined, we can see that the co-incidence of the messages being the same is immensely unlikely, but yet there were a sequence of messages that were identical, despite death being inevitable at that point.

Don't worry, I didn't decide to start a cult with a suicide pact. I did however decide that dying alone, leaving no note or anything was rather silly. I summoned the strength to claw myself off the floor and onto my bed, where I lay in agony for some time.

I urinated into a pint glass - I was virtually immobile - and saw that my urine was cloudy and the colour of orange juice with a lot of blood in it. My organs had started to shut down. My thigh was a painful mess from the plug that had dug into it, and my abdomen was burnt from the laptop transformer. My kidneys hurt and my tummy was tender and painful. My muscles were weak as hell. I had a lot of fluid on my lungs and my chest was tight. Breathing was difficult.

I decided to try and make death a bit quicker by severing my jugular vein, but my blood pressure was so low and it was actually really hard for me to even find a pulse. I kept blacking out with orthostatic hypotension.

Later, my ex-girlfriend discovered me in this dreadful state, and got me to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where the hard-working lovely people of the NHS saved my life.

View from the Royal Free Hospital

Here's the view I woke up to, from my hospital bed. I was quite surprised to wake up (May 2014)

 

 

Tags:

 

Dead Programmer's Society

11 min read

This is a story about captains of industry...

Moulin Rouge

The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled. Is my task yet done? Rats leave a sinking ship but a skipper will go down with his vessel.

There's just no way you can have a meltdown halfway up a rock climb or a mountain that's higher than a rope's length. You wouldn't be able to lower that person safely down to the ground. There's no way you can have a meltdown in the middle of the sea or ocean. There's no chance of you being harmlessly blown into a tranquil harbour.

If you have experience leading a rope party or skippering a yacht, in the hostile environment of the sea and mountains, then you tend to be quite a stoic, calm, rational individual.

I remember we broached my yacht when I was on the foredeck trying to take the spinnaker down. I was hanging onto the spinnaker pole, with nothing but sea underneath my feet, as we heeled right over on our side. It seemed to take an absolute age for her to right herself. I looked back, and my crew were up to their thighs in water that had flooded the cockpit. I yelled "let go of the spinnaker sheets" and my crew member who was gripping the ropes that held the 'kite' in full sail were still gripped in his white knuckles, and his face was blank with terror. I had to repeat myself several times, and change the tone of my voice, so that he would break from his trance and release the wind, allowing me to then pull the sock down the sail and stow it below decks. It's interesting how people respond to catastrophe and stress.

A whole expedition party that I was in, found ourselves at the top of a large rock buttress, which we had to abseil off. There was a single thin metal piton, hammered into a crack in the rock, as an anchor point for our abseil rope. This piton was clearly bending under the weight of a person abseiling. I wasn't leading that expedition, and I was told to shut up and be quiet, when I whispered my concerns to the leaders. This was a decision motivated purely by money. The leaders didn't want to leave behind valuable equipment, in the interests of safety. You should never belay or abseil on a single anchor point, as my friend Sam was to later find, with tragic consequences.

I'm completely mental, and take some crazy risks, but I don't put other people's lives on the line. When I climbed Crib Goch with friends, I took them to a saddle in the hills beneath the mountain where we could get a good view of the ridge, and I showed them the route I was proposing. I told them it was very challenging, and talked about the exposure to steep drops either side. I told them that we would quite possibly have to retrace our steps, if we couldn't find a suitable gully in which to make our retreat. I shared the information, so that each person could make their own decision about the risks. We were all grown ups.

Crib Goch

The sign reads "CAUTION: Route to Crib Goch". The choice to continue up to this knife-edge ridge is yours. You read the sign. You stepped over the stile. You knew what you were doing. Individual responsibility.

Our nanny state is trying to protect people from themselves all the time. We have railings at road crossings, so that you can only cross at one specific place. We have warning signs on hot drinks and for hot water taps, cautioning us that hot water is hot. I'm surprised that we don't yet have laws outlawing running with scissors.

From April, the UK is going to have bizarre legislation in place that attempts to outlaw all drugs except for nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Does this sound sensible to you? Well, it makes about much sense as banning the sale of parachutes, mountain bikes, horses, skis etc. etc. If you look at the statistics, many sports and hobbies are more dangerous than most of the drugs that are being banned.

Drugs are dangerous, don't get me wrong, but the government concentrates on making things illegal, rather than minimising harm and risk and treating those who do get into trouble. I myself became addicted to a legal high, which was made illegal with absolutely no plans around supporting those addicts who were criminalised. There was no treatment plan or alternative offered to me. I was forced to turn to the black market, and then my own savings in order to get treatment in the private sector. If I hadn't had a pot of savings, I would have been picked up by criminal justice, rather than by national health. That's appalling.

If we were to, say, make mountain climbing illegal because it's dangerous, do you think that would stop people wanting to climb? If the danger didn't discourage people, why the hell do you think laws are going to be any deterrent. The laws are flying in the face of human nature.

Imagine every mountain and cliff in the UK, surrounded by a razor-wire fence, with policemen at the gates and patrolling the perimeter. Perhaps there would be guard towers with powerful searchlights, just in case anybody tried to scale or cut through the fence at night. Perhaps the fence could even be electrified. Does that sound like a sensible plan, for the protection of society?

People talk about drugs causing an increase in crime. Yes, there is a mountain of data showing that alcohol causes monumental problems in society. Anti-social behaviour is rife in town centres across the United Kingdom. Binge drinking is out of control. You don't tend to hear a lot about fights at raves though, do you? Yes, not a lot of anti-social behaviour amongst people who just want to dance, even though they have taken loads of pills. Also, Ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding, as Prof. David Nutt once famously commented.

We really do need to end this war on drugs, which is a load of hot air, rhetoric, causing the needless destruction of so many lives. Being tough on drugs is just another way of saying that you're going to chuck your friends and relatives under the wheels of the bus because you're too ignorant to educate yourself about the damage of criminalising somebody, demonising them, excluding them from society, offering them no treatment and generally shaming and isolating them, blaming them for society's ills.

Knife Edge

Prohibition puts every man woman and child at risk of slipping and falling into the death-trap of the 'undesirable' bucket. We label drug takers as undesirable members of our society, and push them through the revolving doors of a criminal justice system that makes people unemployable, while also connecting together a criminal underworld that has to survive on its wits, given no lawful alternative.

The police are being forced to make judgement calls about whether to pursue prosecution against members of the public, who have made wayward decisions, but are they really criminals? While we haven't solved violent and sexual crime, and the poverty that drives people to steal, how can we be wrecking people's lives for messing around with recreational drugs?

I bought a yacht at the age of 21, and it cost me a buttload of cash. Boat ownership is a costly addiction. Mooring fees, antifouling, repairs, insurance, fuel... all of this nautical dependency was hazardous to my wealth. Did you know that there is no legal requirement to be qualified to navigate UK waters? I could buy a boat and go and get myself in big trouble in some part of the sea that I'm completely clueless about, and then just phone the coastguard to come and rescue me. Does that not seem a little more anti-social, than a gay man taking poppers in the privacy of his own home?

Perhaps I'm not a very good mascot for the anti-criminalisation movement, because I've most definitely cost the NHS a buttload of cash, as they struggled to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. However, maybe I am. If there was actually a plan to help and treat addicts, my issues could have been resolved before I even got so sick that I ended up needing emergency treatment to save my life. A stitch in time saves 9 and all that.

I think I count 32 stitches in my leg. All those stitches were completely avoidable. It was pure ignorance and stupidity and manipulation by government and media that led to me being cornered and attacked. You're looking for victims? Try taking a look at the early deaths and health complications of people who are marked as black sheep, disowned by their own families, labelled as criminals by a 'justice' system and shunned by society, to the point where sure, the needle seems more of a friend than any of the hostile sneering faces.

Why should alcoholics and addicts have to be anonymous? Why should they have to hide themselves away in groups of their own kind, recounting tales of their own weakness, their faults, their shame and their regret. Why do you refuse to give a homeless person money, because "they'll only spend it on drink/drugs"... yes, they probably will, if that's your attitude.

We're kicking people into the gutter, and I'm not OK with that.

Stitch not in time

When my friend John had completely ballsed up the interview I had gotten for him, and he was facing the reality that life is a little bit harder than just larking around doing whatever the hell you want, he started to become critical of me. He started to attack me rather than make a critical appraisal of himself and his own choices. It was interesting that he tried to use my prior misdemeanours, that I had told him about in confidence, as a weapon against me. It's amongst the reasons why I chucked him out of my flat.

Addicts are not weak people. In fact they are probably a lot stronger than you, because they not only endure the crushing guilt they place on themselves, but they're also a convenient scapegoat for anybody else who's feeling a bit s**t about their own life. Calling somebody a junkie is a lot easier than admitting that you've failed as a fellow member of society. A junkie's life is no way easy. It's a wall of death, with the addict having to ride faster and faster to stay stuck to the wall, while gravity tries to pull them downwards to their untimely demise, destruction.

Step Stat

There's some stats for you, on your common junkie. 15,000 steps a day on average. That's a lot more than your average couch potato, sitting around reading rubbish newspapers, watching crappy TV and sitting in judgement over groups of people they're totally ignorant about.

Do you see an obese junkie? No. Do junkies drain loads of NHS money by giving themselves diabetes, because of all the sugary drinks and junk food they stuff into their faces? No. Junkies are hard working and resourceful.

How would you rather that resourceful intelligent people spent their time? In the getting and taking of drugs, or perhaps put to some more productive aims and objectives?

We are wasting talent. We are wasting human lives. We are destroying people's dignity. We are robbing people of opportunities to shine and show us the better side of their character. We have untapped resource and we are wasting other resource in locking people up and dealing with preventable consequences of terrible drug policies.

There are good people out there... sheep in wolves clothing. We have tarred people with the junkie brush, and it's a crime to write people off like that.

It's a crime to kick people into the gutter.

 

Tags:

 

Core Dump

9 min read

This is a story about brain damage...

Monkey Brain

When George Ricaurte and his team vivisected Rhesus monkeys and dissected their brains, after having given them enormous intravenous doses of Methamphetamine, they found that their neurons had been damaged. The very cells of their cerebellum had withered and died.

It's very hard to objectively judge whether you have driven yourself irreversibly insane, or how stupid and brain-dead you have made yourself, through the abuse of drugs & alcohol. But both are freely and relatively cheaply available in massive quantities to almost anybody who wishes to avail themselves of such substances.

I have a rough measure for the strength of my sanity. I can tell you, in terms of number of nights of sleep lost, at what point I will become psychotic, and at what point I will lose consciousness. 10 seems to be the magic number.

I had to go back to my house in Bournemouth, leaving behind my new home, my new friends, my new girlfriend, my new startup and my newly incorporated company, in order to rummage in my attic and find some crap to sell in order to raise some money, because my parents had reneged on their promise to save me the stress and hassle.

For 9 nights, I was hopped up on Supercrack, just about managing to sell my car and gather a few high value things, but otherwise totally out of it. On the evening of the 10th night, just as it was getting dark, I was convinced that the house was surrounded by police, and climbed into the attic without the ladder and tried to close the hatch behind myself.

I blacked out, and when I came round I didn't know what I was. I literally couldn't understand my blurry vision or what any of my senses or thoughts were telling me. Then I didn't know who or where I was. Was I in a rustic farm building? Was I a farmer? Then it became clear to me that I was in an attic, and I remembered who I was, but I had no idea how or why I would be there. Then it became clear that I was perilously close to the edge of an open hatch, with an 11 foot drop onto steep stairs, which descended another 10 or so feet onto a hard wooden floor.

A previously absent sense of self preservation caused me to cautiously lower the ladder and descend from the attic, whereupon I noticed that it was late afternoon. At least 18 hours had elapsed. I surely could not have slept, for I'm sure that movement in my sleep would have sent me tumbling through the hatch.

Remembering then, why I had entered the attic, I was surprised to not see any police. As a precaution, I then went and hid in my shed for another day or two, before I phoned a friend and asked if he could drive me back to London with the couple of valuable items I was going to sell.

It must be re-iterated that these items were not going to be sold for drink & drugs. Supercrack costs just 18p per day, remember? I'm not really built to sell junk from attics and sheds. I find it stressful. My Dad's 'job' since getting my Mum pregnant with me had been to buy & sell junk. My job, for almost my entire professional career, has been to write computer code in an air conditioned office.

Anyway, you can see that my window of opportunity had closed, and my life had become rather dysfunctional.

As soon as I got my share of the house sale money I put myself through 8 weeks of rehab, before remembering that there was some Supercrack hidden inside a golf brochure sent to me from Canada, in my stack of unopened post from 2 months prior. Given how much I hated my parents for tossing me to the wolves, I saw no reason not to pay them a visit and have a massive relapse in their home.

My left leg was destroyed as I tried to leave, in an unnecessary tussle with my Dad. I then tried to O.D. in some terrible flat in Kentish Town. As the amount of blood in my urine grew and grew, as my organs slowly shut down, I phoned an ex-girlfriend for help, when I felt sure that I only had about 24 hours left to live. The hospital gave me about a 30% chance of survival, and treated me for about 3 weeks, 6 intensive days of which were very touch-and-go.

Camden Council were most uncooperative in helping me, despite letters begging them to support me, from my GP and Psychiatrist. Finally, with no state support, I ended up in a hostel in Bayswater, and then living in a bush in Kensington Park Gardens.

Obviously, life was rather unstructured and dysfunctional, and again after the magic 9 nights of madness, I believed I was being pursued by police, ran across a rooftop, fell through a glass window, and then went and hid 80ft up a massive tree with a huge shard of glass sticking out of my 'good' leg.

Leg Scar

The scar on my leg is about 5 inches long and nearly an inch wide. I lay in my bush in Kensington Park Gardens, in agony, until it healed enough for me to hobble to Paddington Station, where there is a public shower. I got cleaned up enough to get myself a hotel room.

A friend invited me to come and stay at her flat in Notting Hill, but I was so mad by this point that I tried to hide under a mop bucket in her basement. A fully grown naked man cannot be concealed by a mop bucket on his head.

She coaxed me out of the basement, whereupon I then tried to hide in a fortress of pillows and sofa cushions, and then decided to hide in her shed. I then took offence to my own penis and tried to rip it off my body. Having made quite a mess of it, and clearly sanity having escaped my grip for far too many weeks, I decided to try St. Mary's Hospital and Westminster Council.

Westminster Council beat up Camden Council for being so beastly towards one of their residents, and UCLH Androgyny were quite helpful in repairing my male member. One of the mental health Crisis Houses took me in for a couple of weeks while a search party for my marbles was despatched.

Fundamentally, I still believed that the state would keep its word in helping somebody who became addicted to a legal high, which the government then made illegal. My social worker had promised imminent admission to treatment services. There was also the promise of supported accommodation, post-treatment. This was salvation.

However, it all got botched. One social worker lost all my paperwork and had to restart the process entirely, and the next one decided to keep deferring my case, because she believed I could recover without state support.

It was me who blinked first, after 6 months of this hell. I used my credit card in order to get myself a hostel bed and no longer be sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath. In a way my social worker was right, I had been sufficiently scared, shellshocked and traumatised. It helped that when I once got arrested, the police doctor was very surprised that I didn't die in custody when she saw how low my blood pressure was. Being in a cell, dying, is not a very nice experience.

Anyway, I went cold turkey in a 14 bed hostel dorm, in full public view, on street bail with the police.

After a couple of months, I got a job and things appeared to be going swimmingly. However, the lifestyle of a completely insane, drug addicted homeless person, is somewhat incompatible with the life of a middle-class IT consultant working for a global bank. There was a certain amount of friction between old life and new.

Somewhere between losing all my friends, losing my job, the contract ending on a room that I had let and the general disintegration of my life, the whole horrible cycle started again. Recovery is fragile.

By May 2015, I believed that my mobile phone was talking to me and giving me instructions. Under its direction, I then embarked on a half-marathon, with a fully loaded backpack with all of my most valuable possessions in it.

Finsbury Park Fun Run

This is your brain on Supercrack. Pre-existing mental health problems + drugs + gentle external encouragement = completely bat shit insane behaviour. Somebody doesn't just run like this just because they're on drugs, but it doesn't take much to get them going.

Don't worry though, because by June I had a job working for HSBC on the number one project: Customer Due Diligence, which is naturally where you would expect a homeless, insane, drug addict known to the police to find themselves. The global bank is clearly an expert in doing due diligence background checks on people.

Anyway, I might have made all this stuff up just to embarrass HSBC and the CIO in charge of the number one project, plus the rest of the management team, who are making a bit of a botch job of things. You'd need to do the due diligence to find out, which presumably HSBC did?

So, I leave it to you, dear reader, to judge. How do you find me? Completely bat shit insane on a permanent and irreversible basis that means I should be 'committed' immediately to an institution, where I will shuffle around for the rest of my heavily-medicated days, no longer a menace to society... or is there a question mark hanging over the whole infernal affair?

This very document, this entire blog, seeks to challenge your presumptions about addiction and mental health. Has it succeeded yet?

 

Tags:

 

Middle Class Guilt

9 min read

This is a story about burying your head in the sand...

Oxford Bound

The gravy train has left the station. The party's over. The song has stopped. If you haven't got a place to sit you're out of the game of musical chairs.

The middle classes have been very busy playing musical chairs with their make-work jobs in bloated service industries that contribute nothing to the real economy. Meanwhile, in the real world, climate change and poverty have been largely ignored.

Sadly, a large swathe of older middle class people are very lazy. They sit at home in their big houses, watching TV, reading newspapers and criticising everything, but never lifting a finger to do anything. Many don't even vote or destroy their ballot paper.

Today, at the climate change march held in London, I saw many grandparents who are very concerned about the world that is going to be left for their grandkids. Sadly, my parents have no concern for their children or grandkids. You can't make a difference to the world by sitting around taking drugs, sorry Mum & Dad... the world doesn't work like that.

My parents have sucked a great deal of money out of the state to pay for illnesses relating to their abuse of alcohol, drugs and smoking, but they give so little back. It's really embarrassing. When they were contacted because I was in hospital with a 30% chance of surviving, they decided to wait for the call from the coroner... they decided it wasn't worth the 45 minutes or so to travel from Oxford to London Paddington.

Okay, so I'm not doing a great job of changing the direction of my writing yet. I'm trying to move it from the angry rants into some more positive stuff, and finishing my own story. However, I had to deal with my parents earlier in the week, and I just found it incredible that they would sit there and tell me that London is too far for them to visit a gravely ill son or daughter in hospital. Today I saw many thousands of pensioners who are far older and in much worse health than them, out in the wind & rain, protesting against man made climate change.

My parents live not far from David Cameron's constituency home, and I think that they epitomise the Conservative mindset of out of sight, out of mind. Because these ridiculously selfish people never actually see suffering and pain first hand, they can smugly sit there in their multi-million pound Cotswold houses and do nothing except criticise the victims of the world's cruelty.

Leg Injury

That's an injury that was inflicted on me by my own father. He seemed to think that treating his own son like a human was somehow optional, and it was OK to perpetrate an act of savagery against me. I really don't think there could ever be any justification or reasonable explanation for somebody of sound body and mind doing something like that to a person, so I'm not even going to go into the circumstances surrounding it. I'm totally appalled by the way that my parents speak to me and treat me, and the things that they have done to me. I'm over it. They're pretty much dead to me.

There's a simple formula for looking after a human life: be kind. That's it. It's not hard. If you're hitting humans, abusing them, telling them they're bad, calling them names, criticising and undermining them, humiliating them and generally robbing them of self esteem, disrespecting them and treating them like utter shit... yeah, that's not good. That's probably going to fuck them up.

The National Health Service (NHS) was kind to me. After I bandaged up my leg with sanitary towels and a dressing gown cord, I came back to London. The Royal Free Hospital repaired 4 tendons and 2 nerves in my leg, so I could move it and have feeling again. God bless the NHS.

God Bless the NHS

I've always looked after myself and it's ironic that the first time I needed an operation is because my own parent attacked me. My dad has actually had to have a few operations because of his poor lifestyle choices. Drinking and smoking and taking drugs f**ks up your body and it's the NHS who have to pick up the pieces.

It's better to build happy healthy children than to try and fix f**ked up adults. Surely it seems to make more sense to hug your kids and make them feel loved and cherished, to look after them, rather than just dump them on the state? I don't believe in this difficult child horse-shit. Kids respond to their upbringing. Be nice, and your kids will be nice too. It's that simple.

I've been trying to get all of my travelling and entrepreneurial ambitions out of my system, and I know that drug-taking in front of children is a complete no-go. I have even delayed fatherhood while I figure out what's going on with my mental health. I take the responsibility of parenthood very seriously. If you don't alter your lifestyle at all for your children, you're a terrible person.

My Gift

So my friend Klaus keeps reminding me that "your wound is your gift" and I think he's right. I look at the huge scar on my leg, and I'm reminded just how toxic even my own parents could be, and that I need to be kind and compassionate and work hard for the benefit of humanity. I'm reminded just how irrelevant such terrible people are in my life, in the lives of the ordinary people of the world and in the future of the planet.

Such horrible selfish people need to be outed from their positions as moral authorities, and stopped from gaining any kind of political influence. If you don't have empathy, kindness, compassion... what the hell are you doing having any influence over children and grandchildren? You don't deserve anything more than to sit and rot in your home in lonely misery.

So where is my own empathy, compassion? Well, I'm very beaten down, but when my parents are eventually as weakened and old as the oldest and weakest member of the climate change march that I saw today, then perhaps I will approach them again with the olive branch of peace. Until then, they are far too vicious and cruel and ignorant and horrible to be approached. Let them stew in isolation for fear that their toxic ideas might permeate.

I'm very jealous of friends who have good relationships with their parents. I would like to have a loving, caring family with close ties between us all, but my parents are so toxic that they have poisoned many of the relationships between our family members. They spend a lot of time cultivating their woe betide me tales of their own suffering. Yes, it's called karma. If you drink and smoke and take drugs and treat your kids like shit, then you'll be sick and miserable and you'll deserve it.

Weirdly, I do still love my parents. I guess this recurrent feeling of feeling unconditional love for somebody who treats you like shit could be the basis for a mood disorder. Always trying hard to please a parent, and receiving an unpredictable response dependent on their state of intoxication with drugs or alcohol can create a lot of uncertainty in a child's life. It can shape a personality into one that has issues with boundaries and healthy forms of self-expression.

Quake Scar

Communicating my distress via a blog looks like really strange behaviour, but believe me, I've tried all the other ways, and the above scar is my reminder that the result is never good. I had successfully managed to keep my parents at arms length for many years, much to the benefit of my health and happiness, but sadly my ex-wife managed to screw that up with some kind of bullshit story that brought my dad and his heavy-handed aggression, violence and woeful ignorance into play, with disastrous results for me.

When your back is against the wall, when you're cornered, when there is a lynching mob out for your blood, whipped into a frenzy with lies and ignorance... you have to resort to unusual tactics if you want to survive. I'm not really sure if I want to survive. I'm very exhausted by death by a thousand cuts, and everybody wants to put the boot in. However, unfortunately the survival instinct seems to prevail even though I'd love to just curl up and die.

So, I'm lashing out again. Sorry about that. Maybe you shouldn't corner and cruelly torture somebody who has been so badly beaten and bruised. They say that an injured animal is the most dangerous.

I'm trying to redirect my energy into more positive things though. I'm trying to be heard again, not in the hope of saving myself, but in the hope that somebody else who's in a similarly dark place can see that they're not alone. I'm hoping that somebody else who's going through hell might read my story and feel a little bit less alone in the world. I'm hoping that anybody who can relate, feels a little bit less like an unwanted freak.

I'm going to continue on my path of brutal honesty. I'm not out to name & shame anybody. This is my unedited story. There's a lot more to come, and a lot of it is going to be shameful and embarrassing for me, but I'm going to tell it anyway. I'm going to tell it because it needs to be told. People need to know what happens when you bully and abuse somebody. People need to know what happens when you repress and oppress and humiliate and exclude and destroy self-esteem and take away somebody's hope and reason for living.

I also want to try and keep going on a positive path of recovery, and discover if there's a path back to happiness and light. If the story has a message of hope in it that is emerging, that's a good thing. It might help somebody else who's going through hell, and then it was worthwhile me sharing and facing my fears of ridicule and shame.

I'm trying to do good deeds.

Oxfam

You can take the boy out of Oxford, but you can't take the Oxford out of the boy (November 2015)

Tags:

 

An Ode to the Nurses

4 min read

This is a story of the people who see you at your most tired, afraid, and in the most pain and discomfort...

Ooops

I owe the hard-working, caring and dedicated nurses of the National Health Service my life, along with the Radiographers, Cardiologists, Phlebotomists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Nutritionists, Physiotherapists, Pathologists, Porters, Caterers, Cleaners and of course the Doctors, Consultants, Surgeons and Anaesthetists. It would be ridiculously selfish of me to not continue living after all the hard work that a huge team of people made in putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I always seem to expect that things will heal overnight, and indeed I rushed everything after a fairly major leg injury. After the accident, which luckily seemed to avoid any major blood vessels, despite severing a load of muscle, tendon and nerve. I hastily cobbled together a 'field dressing' with sanitary towels and a dressing gown cord, and wanted to make my own way home, but paramedics insisted on checking me out. It was them who discovered I couldn't actually raise my foot anymore, due to a severed tendon, and had lost feeling on the top of it, due to a severed nerve.

The operation took a long time and must have cost a lot of money. I have paid a lot of tax and National Insurance during my career, but that does not make me entitled. I need to repay my debt to society somehow. I haven't thought how I'm going to do that just yet, but I do think about it. I do have a list I'm working through, although I'm obviously never that mindful of the "one step at a time" mantra... I tend to sprint everywhere.

Running before I can walk, running with scissors (not how it happened, just a metaphor) and all the other things my Mum warned me not to do never ended in tears because I was always told to MTFU (Man The F**k  Up). A kind friend told me the other day that excess mucous and swollen mucous membrane might indicate a backlog of tears. I guess my tear ducts are fairly full.

But let's keep this about those in the caring professions. These people have to mop up your blood, pooh, pus, vomit and mucus, while you wince and generally try and hide your discomfort and be as polite and courteous as you can under the circumstances.

We should pay people in the caring professions a living wage, and more to reflect the important role they have in society.

I, for my part, am going to ensure that I pay full income taxes on my earnings when I am inside IR35, which is anytime that I have a regular place of work and commute to the same office on a regular basis... like now.

Coming from a startup and small business culture, I have always re-invested any profits into Research & Development projects in my time between contracts, but I think I need to just get a regular hobby... probably a safe one, given my accident prone nature!

I also think that a socially responsible proportion of my disposable income that I have should go as Gift Aid to Macmillan Cancer Support, because Cancer is a disease which blights all our lives, and the nurses in Palliative Geriatric care are really doing an extremely tough job and should receive all the support that we can possibly give them, as highly qualified professionals in a job that demands them to be kind and caring, loving and supportive, dealing with the inevitable painful loss of loved family members.

This by no means absolves me of my social conscience, but it's a public declaration of starting as I mean to go on. Some might see this as pathetic hypocrisy. Fine. Send me a postcard with a better idea.

Tags: