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

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

All opinions are my own.

twitter.com/ManicGrant

nick@manicgrant.com

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Sorry For Not Replying

8 min read

This is a story about having a miniature nervous breakdown...

Blurry phone

I know it's offensive to say "I'm a bit OCD" just like you can't be "a bit in a wheelchair". However, I'm a bit of an authority on life implosions. It's not hyperbole to describe myself as on the brink of a breakdown and/or a suicide attempt. If anybody could know just how close I am to breaking point, I would be me, given that I've lived far too much of my life on the limit; I've had far too many breakdowns and brushes with death.

What do I mean by a breakdown?

There's the fairly tame stuff, like not going to work, not answering the phone, not answering the door, not opening the curtains, not getting out of bed, not washing, not eating, not socialising, not paying the bills, not opening the mail, not doing any kind of activities, sleeping all the time, unpredictable random bouts of uncontrollable crying, suicidal thoughts and plans... that kind of stuff. That's your common-or-garden depression tame breakdown stuff, which destroys your job, your finances and your relationships with friends and family.

I can pretty much manage to stay functional and not lose my job, even when I'm spending 40 hours a week at my desk plotting to kill myself. I can quite literally spend a whole day in the office thinking about what poison I'm going to buy, where I'm going to get it from, how I'm going to use it, which tall buildings I can access the balconies of, what pavement or other area there is beneath the balcony, how I would gain access, how I would get there... all the little details.

Nowadays, I plod along like it's ordinary to have those thoughts and feelings. That sort of stuff is just ordinary background noise to me.

There's other tame stuff like spending vast sums of money on expensive consumer electronics and plane tickets. Casual sex, alcohol and drug abuse; extreme sports, bad driving and other excessive risk taking. All of that stuff is part of my day-to-day existence.

I'm able to quell both my impulse to stay in bed and my impulse to run away, to such a great extent that I've given an excellent false impression of a highly functional adult human being, for 10 or more consecutive months. A large number of people have been fooled.

I've dragged myself to work after drinking 3 bottles of wine. I've dragged myself to work after a multiple-day drug binge without any sleep. I've kept the receipts for thousands of pounds worth of consumer electronics and mostly resisted the urge to walk out of the office and jet off to an exotic location with a fat wad of £50 notes in my pocket, yelling "SEE YOU IN HELL" and flicking V-signs at my colleagues as I exit.

It's the last part that's been my biggest success.

My brain mostly tells me I'm brilliant and other people are slow and dimwitted. I work with very smart people, and the less I say about my colleagues the better. Let's just focus on the me part, because it's a confusing issue. My thinking goes a little bit like this...

"I was a drug addict sleeping rough in a bush in a park, nearly bankrupt, and now I'm putting together this massive software system for a gigantic organisation, even though I'm as mad as a box of frogs, and yet everybody seems to respect my opinion, trust me and follow my leadership; they pay me an obscene amount of money"

So then I start thinking...

"Who else in my organisation is a nearly-bankrupt severely mentally ill person who was sleeping rough in a bush in a park and physically addicted to multiple dangerous drugs?"

When I arrive at the conclusion that my colleagues have not faced the same adversity, it fuels delusions of grandeur. Why would it not? It seems only logical that the reason I'm not destitute or dead and instead I'm earning big bucks and doing important work, must be because I'm special and different. I write this paragraph dripping with sarcasm, the reader should note.

On the matter of the success part: turns out that it's a good idea to keep your mouth shut most of the time, if you want to get along well with the literally hundreds of thousands of employees who work with you in some of the world's biggest organisations. It turns out that it's an even better idea to keep your mouth shut and not say what you think, if you're plagued with delusions of grandeur, brought on by the sheer ridiculousness of seemingly being able to drag yourself out of the gutter and reach the stars at the drop of a hat.

It's quite mind-fracturing to believe at the same time that you're worthless and that the world would be better off without you, while also believing the hard evidence that no matter how hard you try to destroy your life, you still remain eminently employable and in-demand; no matter how many times you walk out the office shouting "GO TO HELL FUCKTARDS" somebody somewhere still will offer you a great big suitcase filled with £50 notes to sit at a desk and think about killing yourself.

It should be noted that I like my colleagues and I think they're very smart people.

It should be noted that there hasn't been a "GO TO HELL..." moment for quite a while.

Like, there probably hasn't ever been a "GO TO HELL..." moment.

Not ever.

I get very worked up about the systems, the organisations, the politics, the structural problems, the inherent unfairness and absurdity of it all. I get very worked up about perfection, utopia and engineering elegance. I get very worked up about management incompetency. I get very worked up about the speed with which things get done, which feels painfully slow.

These opposing forces within me - the depression and the mania - seem to express themselves quite suddenly as an exhaustion which confines me to bed for many weeks, jetting off around the world or getting very angry with one particular situation. The anger one is probably the most destructive; the other two are recoverably destructive.

I'm particularly fearful of waking up one day and being unable to go to work, which is strange because that would probably be the least damaging of all outcomes. Yes, it doesn't look great to disappear and not answer your phone for weeks, but understood within the context of a major episode of depression, most people's reaction is sympathetic.

Past experience has taught me that becoming arrogant, cocky and full of myself leads to saying and doing stupid things in the office, which is far more damaging than being off work sick. As hypomania boils over into all-out mania, I know that I can be prone to say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time; patience and tolerance wear thin.

Somehow, I manage to navigate a path through both extremes, so long as I'm not too depressed or too manic. I build up some goodwill which carries me through difficult periods. I prove my worth and make myself useful, such that I get second and third chances.

Knowing myself very well, I feel like I've been skating on thin ice for far too long. I feel like I'm well overdue a meltdown; a major catastrophe.

I don't have any spare energy left to maintain my mask of sanity; I can no longer keep up my "game face".

The mask is slipping.

My main preoccupation should be remaining civil.

So long as I can remain civil, I'll probably be forgiven for having a breakdown.

I'm too outspoken, as usual. People are getting to know me. I'm super exposed.

Some poor bastard usually feels the sharp end of my tongue and I desperately attempt to apologise and take back the things I said in the heat of the moment. My regret and remorse are heartfelt, but it's usually too late. Gotta keep things civil, no matter how much pressure and stress I feel I'm under.

Perhaps worst of all are the lies and the boasts, which come at the very end of a long period of fake it until you make it when I actually no longer need to fake it anymore. Lolz. Irony.

The fear of being exposed as an imposter - having my secrets revealed - has followed me around for an incredibly long time, but now I'm almost-but-not-quite back on my feet. This is the very worst period.

I need to consolidate my gains.

But.

I'm so close to having a breakdown.

 

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Back in the Land of the Living

8 min read

This is a story about a worrying disappearance...

Pot noodles

My flat's a bit of a nightmare really. The landlord slides the garage door up and down all day long, and seems to be endlessly sawing up bits of wood, then he stomps up and down the stairs, slamming the door - all of this is within a few feet of me in my lounge. At the back of the house, the bedroom is basically a viewing gallery for perverts - the blinds are about as much use as opera glasses.

I don't want to disturb anybody, but I don't want to be disturbed either - catch 22.

Ventilating the front of the apartment is OK, but to keep the temperature down the best thing to do is keep the curtains closed at the moment. Ventilating the back is impossible, save for setting up a load of seats for prime viewing position into the only one of 2 rooms which most people want privacy in: bedroom & bathroom.

The heat is a real problem, but so is the as-yet undealt with problem of getting some air circulating.

At the moment I'm sleeping on the sofa and spending the days on the sofa with the curtains drawn, which somehow feels like I'm doing something I shouldn't be. It also seems to announce to the world that I'm at home, but perhaps sleeping during the day... I feel I should 'act normal'.

It's driven me a bit crazy to be honest, feeling like I can't be in my bedroom during the day (or at night with privacy) and like I can't have the lounge curtains drawn during the day, or sleep on the sofa at night... it's all behaviour that would raise eyebrows; provoke speculation.

The gap in my writing has been valid cause for concern. I feel so hyper-sensitised to all the noises around me, and I've been struggling not to attach my own negative interpretation of what I hear: "oh it's terrible" I hear somebody say, and "what are we going to do?" and I presume it's something to do with me. If I hear a stamp on the floor from the neighbour above, I presume my attempts to be as quiet as mouse have failed, and I'm annoying them.

The bathroom, with its lack of windows, and equidistance from ever-present landlord and neighbour who I can hear above, has become my place of refuge. It has a door with a lock - nobody can just barge in unannounced. Also, unlimited cold water.

One thing that's very difficult to do though is to sleep on the cold floor tiles of a bathroom, in the pitch black, with only a towel as both blanket and something to lie on. It's disorienting - a sink appears out of nowhere; you reach for the door handle, but realise you're 90 degrees out of alignment; the shape of the floor space doesn't seem well thought out for a person lying on those cold tiles for many hours.

There are 3 legitimate entrances into my apartment, and I sometimes just want to feel like I know what's coming a little bit in advance. Last night, somebody was walking on my windowsills for f'cks sake, which is unnerving, but not as unnerving as having 3 doors that your ever-present landlord might decide to walk through at some unpredictable moment.

Anyway, I had something to eat, and I've not been too bad with the dehydration thing, having now found that the best thing to do is take a cooling shower. I do need to air out the revolting sweatiness though.

How I get back to any semblance of normality seems an impossible task at the moment, but I suppose with time and patience I'll get things sorted. I'd cleared half my TODO list, but now it's bigger than when I started, and I worry about the logistics of the things I can't do myself. Even the logistics of the things I can do myself are complex, given that my whole life is on public display, barring the bathroom.

I'm sorry for severing all contact, but I can't wrap my head around what next and when. There's home life to sort, I need to be rested and ready for my next opportunity and then there's the exhaustion of dealing with all the phone-calls and emails; interviews; requests for documents, forms to be filled in, new office, new team... blah blah blah. I don't even know whether to go for something reasonably close to home, but there's no way I want to be commuting 1hr+ every day. No point thinking about it while things have rather been in crisis at home, and there's enough to be done sorting myself and my apartment.

It'll be just my luck... after all the days and days of waiting for the worst to happen, the sky will fall in and my world will implode just as I've started to take care of myself a bit more. I've stopped letting my days be dominated by either trying to hold my breath and tiptoe around, or move to whichever part of my home feels most secure; least surprises; least peeping Toms. It'll be just my luck that now I'm no longer living with the anticipation of the most awfully intrusive home invasion, today or tomorrow - before I've had time to sort things - the dreaded event(s) will happen.

What a waste of a summer. What a waste of an opportunity to keep moving forwards without losing too much momentum. That's the fragility I've been talking about for so long; that's the bomb going off, after I've been talking about it ticking for a long time. Did I precipitate all this? Is it all my own fault? Try to remember that rebuilding an entire life from the ground up is hard, and without the usual safety nets of local social network and family - let alone simple familiarity with the area - meant that removing a couple of key building blocks brought the whole Jenga tower crashing down, although - in theory - there exist superhuman people who can endlessly move house, move area, make new friends, get new jobs, get a partner, get a hobby, stay fit & healthy and turn up and work their full-time job, week after week, month after month... relentless.

This isn't much of a holiday; in fact quite the opposite, but there we go... I'm still present, at least bodily. I'm not sure I want to live if the next bit of shitty luck - the thing I've been dreading - rips out another one or two of those Jenga blocks.

Wish me luck, that I have an unmolested couple of days and I can start to get on top of things; that the sky doesn't cave in now of all the bloody times it could've done it.

Interestingly, when that sharp knife's been at my throat  - at least 3 or 4 times - ready to be plunged into my jugular vein and carotid arteries the moment my sanctuary was breached, things went quiet and I thought clearly... the madness and the terror ended, and the immediate threat of a life-destroying event disappeared. I took a cooling shower, put on some clean clothes and started to look after myself. It's as though things have to get to that point: if you're not prepared to die, you're gonna have unimaginably awful events happen. It's the Schrödinger paradox, except I'm the cat - in all the universes where the the worst happened, I killed myself.

I'm not optimistic or positive. In fact, I'm anticipating that things are going to be very very very hard for what will feel like an eternity, but for those who've been worrying about me committing suicide, it's perhaps been well over 24 hours since that blade was lined up in position, and I don't feel suicidal now that I'm not quite as trapped and cornered as I was... famous last words. In short: I'm safe at the moment.

I wish I was writing regularly. I wish my writing quality hadn't gone to s**t because of mania, sleep deprivation and general malnourishment. I wish... I wish... I wish. But, there was an inevitability: cut enough of those slender threads and I'll fall further than most would; further than you'd expect, because you take for granted the social fabric you're woven into... it's almost tempting to abandon the attempt to return to wealthy middle-class life, because at least when I was homeless I was part of a community. How ironic, to immediately want to go back to those homeless days when a couple of bits of my 'respectable life' were lost.

I'll try and write again, and write less. Little and often.

Anyway, still here.

 

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Too Many Late Night

2 min read

This is a story about paying the penalty...

Nightclub

I thought this week was going to be impossible - I'd lost a lot of sleep over the weekend and I was freaking out that I'd never catch up. However, I seemed to get through 3 normalish days in the office somehow.

Something's screwy with my mood and body clock. All of my rules about early bedtimes and no caffeine have gone out of the window.

The net result has been 3 late nights, and 3 days when I've been quite manic, which is exhausting in and of itself.

It all caught up with me today, and all the exhaustion has seemed to hit me at once.

Frustrating, because it's my last chance to make a good impression at the old place, and possibly find a way so that I can carry on working locally. Also frustrating because I need to be sharp and at the top of my game tomorrow, first thing in the morning.

I've got so much to do tomorrow. It's going to be a horribly busy day.

Then, I'm seeing an old friend over the weekend, which I'm really looking forward to, but I'd hate to ruin it by being half-dead from exhaustion.

Things should be alright, but I really need that early night I keep talking about but never actually managing to get. Also, less wine. I've been drinking far too much.

Not been looking after my physical or mental health at all well.

 

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