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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.


Going Underground

5 min read

This is a story about national security...

Flush broken

"I've decided to take my work back underground, to stop it falling into the wrong hands". I suppose any of our creations can take on a life of their own and have unintended consequences, and I'm certainly catching some flack as a result of my 3-year daily writing experiment at the moment, which is not entirely unjustified.

My daily writing habit is a useful exercise for me, so I'm sure I'll continue to write in some capacity, but I'm almost at the point where my blog has given me the therapeutic benefit of restoring me to stability, health, wealth and prosperity, and I have to tread carefully so that I don't undo any of the good work.

I started writing when I had my back to the wall. I started writing when I didn't feel like I had anything particularly to fall back on. I started writing when I didn't feel proud that I'd achieved anything - my life was incredibly fragile. Nobody could argue that this blog hasn't anchored me in the world, bringing me into contact with many lovely people and providing me with a creative outlet, a sense of accomplishment and some routine in my otherwise chaotic and stressful life.

I doubt very much that I'll be able to change my habits completely, but I do need to adapt to my present paradigm - I can't keep writing as if I've got nothing to lose, because it's not true at the moment.

Perhaps I'll have to start keeping a private journal, because I've been using writing as a mechanism to flush out all the bad and stressful thoughts that have threatened to overwhelm me, but a large part of my present worries revolve around imposter syndrome. I make no secret of anything, but I'd still prefer it if my colleagues and other important gatekeepers in my life didn't read what I write - with my defences down - and leap to the wrong conclusions. It's been hard enough to date girls when I'm so easily cyber-stalked.

Given the choice between a digital identity, or a healthy set of local relationships, I would have to choose the latter if I was forced, although having the former is very useful as a fallback option. Three times I've lost a lot of friends due to a break-up, with one of those times very nearly costing me my life, and the other two not exactly faring much better either. I've not been very successful at building robust local social networks in the last few years. I need a group of friends I see and speak to regularly, that wouldn't be affected by any breakups. I need that safety net. In the absence of the time, money, energy, transport and a number of other things, I've not progressed things very far yet, so I'm very grateful for my online social network and I always will be, but I do need healthy local face-to-face relationships too.

Getting a girlfriend can be a quick-fix when you're lonely, as it's so easy to be the +1 and tag along to all of her social events, and ingratiate yourself into her social circle, but it's a dangerous strategy. It's too much of a dependency on one person. It's a mistake. Thankfully, I have valuable and important local friendships that predate any of my dating shenanigans. I need to continue to make friends of my own, and establish a pattern of social engagements which are not couples-only events.

Work colleagues and a great team environment can make a huge difference, and sadly that's been lacking in my life recently. Hopefully that's going to be rectified really soon. There's a slight danger in mixing personal life with work too much, when you're in the position I'm in, where I'm trying to get myself back into the respectable world - some of the recent events in my turbulent life are not office-gossip friendly. I've not got anything to hide, particularly, but I'd rather not challenge anybody to be open minded, if it's at all avoidable.

I'm treading a fine line between trying to do what I have to for my own sanity and stability, balanced with the needs of those who I have relationships with and my responsibilities regarding confidentiality, secrecy, discretion, professional conduct, respect of privacy, not causing shock, alarm or distress. It's a fine line between keeping my support network informed of what's going on during a time when I'm very vulnerable, and saying things that're going to paradoxically make me more vulnerable. It's one thing to confide in friends behind closed doors, and quite another to write publicly on a website.

Me being me, I doubt I'll be able to make a sudden overnight change, and I don't want to lose this valuable therapeutic tool, but I do need to start changing my behaviour in light of my new circumstances.

I doubt I'm going to be writing about what I ate for breakfast and live-blogging about the fresh paint that's drying on the walls, but things might have to turn a little more pedestrian for a while... at least until things are more settled.

Presently stressed out of my mind with the transition from one life to another, but hopefully everything will work out and go smoothly.




Do No Harm

11 min read

This is a story about helping people...


I'm a bit of a work-in-progress. I was on a psych ward in Manchester after a suicide attempt - homeless, jobless, single, friendless (in terms of local friends) and estranged from my family (except my sister). Then, I was plucked out of that dismal life and brought into my friends' family life on a farm in Wales. My friends are aware of my suicidal distress; my depression; my wretched situation. My friends are helping me to get back on my feet.

To leave the psych ward was an immediate improvement to my life. To have a quiet room of my own; a double bed - these were luxuries not afforded on the psych ward, where I was in a 4-bed dorm with only a curtain for privacy. I was unlikely to make new friends on the psych ward - my fellow patients were profoundly unwell and I had no plans to stay in Manchester. I didn't really have anybody to talk to. Now that I'm embedded in my friends' family life I can chat to them and the members of their immediate and extended family - I've been welcomed into the fold... instant social life.

It was my choice not to be sectioned or have the home treatment team - part of the community mental health team (CMHT) - involved in my care. It was my choice to not take lamotrigine, sertraline, lithium or sodium valproate. It was my choice to travel 1,200 miles away on business, and to go back to work in London for an investment bank. I have my reasons for making these choices, but they put my life in jeopardy - the choices are hard to understand. It seems reckless, arrogant and irresponsible to risk my life.

I'm earning money and I'm dating. In some areas, my life seems to be improving a huge amount. In other areas things are every bit as desperate as they were back in September/October of last year. At least when I was on the psych ward I was relatively safe. When I was on the psych ward I'd put myself in the hands of the state - they were responsible for feeding me, housing me and keeping me safe. I didn't feel bad about relying on the state to look after me, because I was so vulnerable. Now, my friends must feel very responsible.

At face value, my depression looks treatable. At face value, my problems look trivial. At face value, I appear to be very functional.

To treat my depression could trigger mania. To protect me from mania - with powerful medications - could leave me unable to work. Without work I will never regain my self-esteem and independence, which will lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Without self-esteem I won't be able to find a partner. Without a partner I'll be lonely and depressed and suicidal. To meet somebody special and start a new relationship could trigger mania, or bring a whole heap of feelings of inadequacy that could trigger me to seek medications - I want to be full of energy and happiness with my new romantic interest. For example, there's a feeling of pressure to have a rock hard dick and be able to have sex multiple times a night. How do I even function without medications? Uppers and downers, antidepressants and mood-stabilisers, antipsychotics and tranquillisers, sedatives and sleeping pills, erectile dysfunction drugs and refractory period suppressants... things to help me feel good. I so desperately want to feel good.

There's another risk that I don't talk about so much: Relapse into drug addiction. This time last year I was pretty hopelessly addicted - in the clutches of supercrack. Foolishly, I was looking for some Bitcoins I hadn't spent and I found them... on the Dark Web waiting to be used to purchase narcotics. I resisted temptation, but I spent a few days thinking about self-sabotage. It's been 8 or 9 months since I was a drug addict, but that's not very much time at all - it was really recently that drug addiction was wrecking me and everything I held dear.

I've got a fairly simple strategy for avoiding relapsing into drug addiction: To kill myself. Addicts die as demons; despised; hated. Addicts are blamed for their bad choices - the architects of their own destruction. My solution is simple: Die while clean, sober and sane, so that nobody can demonise me. I just want to have some dignity. That's all I ask for really... some dignity.

So, my problems are not really mental health, but they're not really addiction either. I don't take drugs or medications, I'm not mad and I'm not bad. I'm just trying to live a normal life: to have a home, some friends, a girlfriend, a job, cat(s)... a few things. Not much; I don't ask for much.

My friends have helped me. I've met somebody who I really like, but it's early days... don't want to get carried away. I'm working and I've done a good job and the client wants to extend my contract. I've battled with my mental health and addiction demons, and to all intents and purposes I'm winning. I'm a bit of a success story, in a way - an example of what you'd hope would happen if you got involved in somebody's life, with the intention of helping them.

I have been helped. I am stubborn and I do things on my own terms, but not without good reason. I'm glad - for example - that I'm not doped up to the eyeballs on medications that would leave me emotionally blunted and anorgasmic. I'm enjoying the pleasure of a little oxytocin as I cuddle my sweetheart. I'm glad I'm feeling stuff.

There's been a suicide. I can relate to the victim. I also feel super bad that my friends are having to deal with the aftermath of that suicide when they know I'm a big suicide risk: it feels like they must be additionally worried about me, and I don't really know how to talk to them when they're dealing with that suicide. It's no secret that I'm having regular suicidal thoughts. It's surely too much for them. It's too much for me. My instinct is to withdraw; to remove myself from the situation.

I feel a bit ineligible for life. I shouldn't have friends; I shouldn't have a girlfriend; I shouldn't do anything, because I'll probably fuck it up. Whether I kill myself or relapse into addiction, either way I end up dead, so I'm not allowed to have nice things, like friends and a girlfriend; I'm not allowed to have self-esteem... I should just sit and rot on a psych ward.

I feel like running away. I feel like I should put every penny I've earned into extracting myself cleanly from the situation. Nice people don't deserve to get hurt and don't deserve to have to deal with the aftermath of unpleasant stuff.

That it would cause pain, whether it's suicide or relapse, is not something that's going to stop it happening. We can't beat people into submission. I need a reason to live - friends, a girlfriend, independence etc. I need my self-esteem and the natural endorphins that lift my mood, through healthy social contact, sex and other things like that. Nobody ever got better without those things. You can't 'get better' first and then build a healthy life.

My friends took a big risk trying to help me. Any girl who'd tangle with me is taking a big risk. The risk doesn't make me less likely to do myself harm. If anything, the risk I pose is something that adds a great deal of pressure, which is exhausting. What should I do? Should I exclude myself from society, just as most parts of society would very much like to exclude me? I'm a modern leper: The escaped mental asylum patient; the junkie; the tramp; the alkie; the washed-up loser.

I look back to September 9th, when I begged the staff at the Manchester Royal Infirmary not to treat me: No activated charcoal, no gastric lavage, no intubation, no resuscitation. When I lost consciousness, they helped me anyway, in the way that they're trained to help people. They saved my life, even though I made it explicitly clear that I didn't want to be helped - I wanted to die, in no uncertain terms. What if I go on to hurt my new friends? What harm would there have been in just letting me die? I'm going to die anyway, one day.

If I seem ungrateful for the help I've received, I'm sorry. This is the truth of the matter: I'm living a part of my life I didn't expect to have, but I'm not automatically grateful for it. It makes it harder, in a way - I didn't plan on being alive this long. I'm not sure who I'm alive for, because it's certainly not for me at the moment.

I'm one of the lucky ones. My situation is improving. It's quite hard for me to mess my life up any more than I've already messed it up. It's relatively easy to make improvements to my life. It seems as if I can fix things up quite quickly, depending on your definition of "quick".

I guess it seems short-sighted to kill myself when I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. There's always a chance that tomorrow's going to be better than today. There's always a chance I'm going to wake up and feel glad that I didn't die on September 9th.

People kill themselves when they don't think their life is salvageable - there's too much damage: too many dashed hopes and dreams; too much shame and embarrassment; too much loss of status... too much disappointment. A person kills themself when they're a hard worker; a high achiever; they'd worked hard to get where they'd got to, but it seemed like it was all for nothing - they were potentially going to lose everything they'd ever dreamed of having. It can't be overstated, the devastating impact that it can have, re-adjusting our expectations when we're thwarted. You might say "it's only money" or "it's only a job" but you'll find that those things are pretty important in modern society. Try going anywhere without somebody asking you "what do you do?" and "where did you study?" and "do you own your own home?" and myriad other questions that will remind you that you've crashed and burned. Try doing anything when you're poor and you'll find it's really hard - money really helps, and you can get quite used to having it and not having to stress about it anymore. Who'd really want to go back to being poor, if you've experienced poverty and debt, and worked hard to get out of that pit of misery?

Every day I face the same thought that pushed me over the edge, causing me to attempt to commit suicide: I can't do it; it's too much work; it's too hard; I've reached my limit; I can never overcome this. Of course, we feel that all the time, but when there's an event that suddenly creates a huge problem to be solved, or something that's potentially going to be life-ruining, then it's too much to handle. We're all right at the limit. None of us has the spare capacity to deal with some mountainous pile of shit being dumped on us, when we're reached the maximum of what we can tolerate.

Of course, I'm a little fragile. It's only gonna take a few bumps in the road to cause me to push the "fuck it" button. I'm delicate; vulnerable. The only solution is to act positively - to go out there, work hard, keep trying, take risks and aim to regain the things I need and want, hoping that nothing super bad happens. It's luck. I just need a run of good luck. I have to hope my luck holds, because I don't have the spare capacity to withstand a whole lot of bad stuff happening.

It's Valentine's Day, and I'm aware that my sweetheart might read this. It's early days. She should run a mile. There's too much to handle here. I'm putting it out there anyway.

My friends are dealing with the aftermath of a suicide when they haven't even managed to 'fix' me yet. I am I going to remind them of the person who successfully committed suicide, every time I talk to them?

We can't 'fix' anything. All we can do is try to leave things better than when we found them. Should we help? It's hard to not do any harm when we try to help.




The Relentless Manipulation of my Moods Using Every Means at my Disposal

9 min read

This is a story about music...

Out clubbing

The only things that seem to be capable of making me cry at the moment are Disney movies and a 90-second passage from The Tempest, which is about dreams and sleep. I quote it now for your interest, and as I write this big salty tears are rolling down my cheeks:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.

It seems remarkable to me that I'm not able to resist the mawkish and emotionally manipulative thrust of the Disney movies, and I blub in all the right places and even some of the wrong ones. To accuse me of being emotionally unstable or having a tendency towards inappropriate emotional responses to situations, is grossly inaccurate and untrue. I would agree that I'm unguarded; trusting... a little vulnerable and certainly quite naïve, although I would argue that I prefer to be naïve than cynical and guarded.

In terms of protecting myself from whimsically falling in love and getting hurt, I would say that I don't protect myself at all. My emotions go where they want to go and I let them. I use the "L" word very sparingly and tend to distrust strong emotions, viewing them as transient; fleeting. I favour loyalty above everything else. I've got no time for game playing and wimpy wusses who are afraid of getting hurt.

Under a railway arch in Vauxhall, I experienced what the children of doting parents must experience their whole lives - to be loved, cared for; adored. I felt a sense of contentment and security that had been absent throughout my bullied childhood. I felt the warm embrace - the hug, if you like - that had been absent in my life and had turned me into an insecure person who completely lacked self-confidence and a sense of identity. I'd been through 8 schools and lost countless friends due to my druggie alkie loser parents not giving a shit about the damage they were doing. The experience of clubbing under the railway arches was curative - this was the love that had been sorely absent in my life. The catalyst? MDMA.

Fifteen years later, my marriage was collapsing. I needed to go to hospital. I was admitted to The Priory thanks to my private health insurance.

It's actually unremarkable that I grew out of a brief period where I dabbled with recreational drugs - ecstasy - and went on to have a 15-year blemish-free career, before the stress of a toxic and abusive relationship tipped me back into the very state I was in when I was a child: in desperate need of some unconditional love. It seems obvious that depriving a person of their identity and security, and bullying them, would result in trauma and psychological damage. It seems obvious that the same negative stimuli would elicit the same negative response.

While I was in The Priory, I handed in my iPod after a couple of weeks. I had decided that I was using music as a way of manipulating my moods, in a similar manner to people drinking, smoking and using drugs, in response to stress and other negative situations. I decided that if I was going to take treatment seriously, I would have to avoid things which I could use and abuse to alter my mood.

Presently, we seem to think it's virtuous to deny ourselves all the things we enjoy. Cream cakes (too fatty), fizzy drinks (too much sugar), beer and wine (alcoholic), masturbation ("wanker", "tosser" etc.), spending money (too fun) and all the other things that make life mildly bearable are given up for January, while we run on a treadmill in a gym, or lash ourselves with a bunch of nettles or whatever the f**k it is that 'virtuous' people do these days.

When I was seized with the notion that pure devotion to a 'natural' life would lead to happier, healthier times, it became as obsessive as anything else that might be characterised as an addiction. I became addicted to making every single tiny health tweak in my life that I could. I cut out dairy and gluten. I washed out my sinuses with saline. I probably would have done colonic irrigation if I'd thought about it at the time. The whole thing was dumb - pure superstition and pseudoscience.

Today, I take dietary supplements - 5-HTP, tyrosine and magnesium - which are supposed to provide my brain with the building blocks it needs to restore normal mood and improve my sleep. However, I've also abused simple amino acids and even pure dopamine - in the form of L-DOPA - to put my brain into a completely unnatural state, with the intention of achieving an otherwise unattainable euphoria or level of performance.

I've abused stimulants to stay awake and give me the energy to dance all night. I've used prolactin-suppressing medications to allow me to have multiple orgasms. I've used erectile dysfunction medications to allow me to sustain an erection for priapic lengths of time. I've used drugs to move my mood up, down and sideways - attempting to 'play god' if you like.

How many drugs and medications have I tried? Two hundred? Three hundred? More? This is not hyperbole - I had the time, the money, the determination and the means.

If you think I'm an idiot who makes bad choices, I ask you to look again. Imagine what my upbringing was like before I discovered that there was this chemical - MDMA - that unlocked me from that miserable prison. Of course I was going to mistakenly believe that it was a trick that could be repeated. In my desperation to escape a toxic abusive relationship 15 years later, I tried heroin, crack and crystal meth - amongst innumerable others - and none of them grabbed me. I methodically worked my way through everything I could get my hands on - illegal drugs, legal highs and black-market prescription medications.

The net result was not a predictable one. Instead of being dead in a ditch due to poly-substance abuse, I'm now quite averse to any psychoactive substances. I'm one of the few people you know who doesn't drink caffeinated beverages. That I'm unmedicated for my mental health problems is not because I think I'm "well" but because I know that I prefer to suffer the symptoms - very few people you know are prepared to tolerate depression and anxiety, but I do so on a daily basis without medication to assist me.

There's a part of me that wants to quit carbs, quit booze and join a gym, but frankly I've got enough shit on my plate just trying to get up in the mornings and not kill myself.

I loosened the purse strings and bought a few new clothes at the weekend. I went on a couple of dates. I'm listening to euphoric dance music, eating what I want to eat and drinking quite a lot. Fuck it. Life's too short to be miserable.

Last night, a woman ran up behind me as I was crossing the road and started asking for money. I said "sorry". She launched into an escalating level of abuse, accusing me of saying "no" and for toying her when she was "begging [for my] help". She was too busy yelling and screaming horrible names at me to be interested in the fact that I would've helped her, absolutely. In fact I still would. Fuck it, even if she was just rattling for "B and white" (heroin and crack, also known as "dark and light") and she was short for the score, I'd have helped. You've got to acknowledge the complexities of life and human nature if you want to help anybody. Expecting everybody to be gym-going, kale-eating, alcohol and drug free totally fucking ridiculously 'virtuous' people is absurd. Most of us have a vice.

When I think about how long I lived without my cat to stroke, and without the pleasure of snuggling with a girl I'm really into, I'm surprised I made it this far. What's the point of life without a good healthy dose of oxytocin? Is life even liveable without the bonding hormone? I really don't think it is.

So, as we approach the end of Jinxed January, I'm throwing caution to the wind little by little. I'm buying myself new clothes and having a haircut, because it's great for my self-esteem. I'm dating and having sex because it's fucking awesome. I'm letting myself do a million little things that just make my day a little bit more bearable, because that's what life's all about if you don't want it to be suicidal misery.

There's a chance that all the little changes in my life will destabilise me. It's all quite stressful, even if it's also fun. I'm quite well aware that something as simple as a late night can throw my world into quite a lot of chaos, but sod it, life's too short and I've waited and been sensible for long enough.

I don't think I'm going to go clubbing and take any MDMA any time soon though.




"Don't write about me on your blog"

5 min read

This is a story about invasion of privacy...

Sex shop

I've lived my life online since the nineties, writing using my real name on parts of the internet which are preserved for posterity. Many websites have ceased to be maintained and entire online communities have been lost, along with myriad digital identities and all the words that were written. However, there's always the chance that something shared publicly might become permanently recorded. Sometimes, the internet never forgets.

It kind of goes without saying that I write mindful of the fact that people I care about might not appreciate being splashed all over the pages of a website. A friend writes a blog where he refers to people by the first letter of their name, but I tend to prefer not to write about my face-to-face relationships at all. It's a strange kind of double-life, where bloggers follow the trials and tribulations of each others' lives, but I have a completely private part of my life which I don't write about. It might seem like I'm a completely open book, and I certainly don't keep any secrets per se, but I do respect the privacy of my friends.

I've written in the past using the personal pronoun "her" to refer to my [ex-]girlfriend, but I wasn't broadcasting intimate details of our relationship. At my lowest ebb, when I was extremely unwell, I did share some stuff on Facebook - restricted to just my friends - which I regret and I deleted when I got better and understood that it was a stupid mistake. I enjoy the public scrutiny of my life, but it's not my place to share the parts of the story which overlap with other people. When something's very important to me, and I'm not able to write openly about what's bugging me, I write cryptically and I hope it obfuscates precisely who and what I'm writing about.

Being an open book and living a life that is unflinchingly candid, honest and authentic, is very important to me. I think I'll always write this blog, because it's been the best thing I've ever done to help me with my mood stability and generally regain control of my life.

I worry that I'm becoming a bitter, twisted, poison pen writer sometimes. Anything that's upsetting me and otherwise causing me emotional distress, gets written about here. Writing is a great way to work out my frustrations, without being snappy, bitchy or sharp-tongued with anybody. Writing publicly means that I write more considerately than I would if I felt my words would only ever be read by my intended recipient.

Because often times, private correspondence is now being shared far and wide, there can be unintended consequences for shooting your mouth off when you think it's just between you and another person. The more public scrutiny I'm under, the more my behaviour moves in the direction I want it to. There are things I'm incredibly hurt and upset about, and there simply isn't any way I could communicate healthily in 'private' because my blood boils. Writing publicly is brilliant, because I'm forced to be fair and reasonable, keep things civil, and I know that my words don't fall on deaf ears - even if my intended recipient ignores me, other people are reading and that means that those who have upset me are held accountable, so I feel satisfied that my point has been made. I feel like I've finally managed to get my tormentors - the bullies, the abusers, the oppressors - into the dock and I'm having my day in court. It feels like justice.

The unintended consequence of having a large digital footprint - a social media identity - is that those who are in your life who do not live their lives in the same way, have to be treated separately. It would be unfair, for example, to share the gory details of how my dating is going, or the particulars of life embedded in my friends' family (see The White Wolf and the Black Sheep).

Perhaps it's a good omen, that an increasing proportion of my life is off-limits for my blog. I won't write the name of the client I'm working for at the moment, although it's pretty obvious that it's an investment bank. I won't write about how I spend my weekends. I'm not documenting the details of relationships that are beyond the realm of social media and the internet.

It does pose some difficulties, that some of the things I really want to write about have to bubble and boil away until I burst into an incoherent rant, which hopefully could never be connected to the real-life events that precipitated it.

So, I'm not being quite as open, honest, candid and authentic as I could be, but I do have a responsibility towards people who don't want lurid details splurged all over the internet, becoming an unwitting part of the Nick "Manic" Grant show, although I do occasionally receive extremely angry messages from people who felt that they very much should have featured.

In conclusion, I'm pretty happy with the balance I'm striking. One of my closest friendships was tested, but I think things are all better now. Generally, it's better to assume I'm not writing about you.

To save you a lot of digging, you might be interested in reading So Lonely if you want to see the kind of stuff I write about other people.




Dick Pics

1 min read

This is a story about unsolicited photos...

Pill and injection

As I browsed through my photo library looking for a suitable image to accompany a boring blog post about economics, instead I noticed that I had a lot of photos that girls had sent me showing me what their preferred method of contraception was. I'm not a psychologist, so I don't really know the significance of them sending me pictures of their contraceptive method.

I really must re-iterate that these pics were sent to me without solicitation. I may have to create a folder to keep all the pictures in, in case I'm browsing through my photos and somebody was to see them.

If anybody's an expert on female psychology, they might want to drop me a line and tell me what it means when a girl sends a guy a picture of her contraceptive pill and/or the plaster when she's had a contraceptive injection/implant.

It's all rather mystifying.




Am I... Evil?

12 min read

This is a story about seeing red...

Red alert

My dad had a fairly simple moral code for me, when I was a little boy: boys shouldn't hit girls or boys wearing glasses. That's about it. I remember guns were bad and I got in trouble (age 3.5) for looking like I enjoyed myself playing with a friend, who had brought his plastic guns with him. I eat anything and everything today, but I also remember being terrorised into eating rice pudding - which was slimy and disgusting in texture to me, before the age of 4 - so much so that I started throwing up with stress and anxiety, before every mealtime and lost so much weight I had to be hospitalised.

Perhaps it's clear, in retrospect, why I would turn to a hospital to protect me from bullies.

But, perhaps it's me who's evil, and needs to be locked away from the general public? Certainly, now that I've got chance to stop and catch my breath, I'm finding I've finally got time to examine the morality of the way I've acted in the past.

If you hit your kids or generally terrorise them to the point that they need to be hospitalised, trust me, they're not having a brilliant home life. At playgroup and school, I took this pacifism thing that my dad had been very angry about - a.k.a. playing with a friend with a plastic gun - very seriously and I got the crap kicked out of me by other kids... it wasn't until many years later that my dad suggested fighting back, which seemed somewhat odd given that I'd received these hippy lectures about being nonviolent. Anyway, I went down the path of pacifism and that's where I stayed. I was not having a brilliant school life - I was picked on every single day, to the point where, again, it would leave me collapsing in uncontrollable sobbing fits, while on the way to primary school.

Boo hoo! Get the violins out!

My first experience of domestic violence was me crying and being punched in the face, giving me two black eyes and a broken nose. I didn't even defend myself, let alone strike back... why would I need to? I didn't understand why I was being victimised like this, by somebody who was supposed to love me. I had to go into work with a bullshit story about having collided with a buoy while kitesurfing, to explain my two black eyes. It was the male extreme sports equivalent of "I walked into a door". I had to lie to her parents, when we went to see them for a planned visit soon after my face had taken that pommelling.

I'm 6ft tall (183cm), 13 stone (82kg) and I still retain some of my muscle bulk from rock climbing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding, although I'm obviously not in peak physical shape. I've got the mindset of a terrorised 3-year-old, ganged up on by two fully grown adults, but I'm in a body that can do some damage and defend itself now.

The problem - if there is one - is that if I feel bullied and attacked, and you managed to corner me, I'll smash my way out of the situation. I don't hit people - I'm still nonviolent. I don't get into fights. However, very occasionally I will trash something - more often than not it will be my own property - because the insanely horrible emotions just have to come out.

"Do you think that was the right thing to do?" a stern-faced looking policeman asks me. "Do you think there might have been a better way to handle that situation?" comes a second question, as if the first one - which I haven't had chance to answer yet - was not clear enough for me. Of course, I would have loved to handle things differently. Of course, I feel guilt and regret when I snap; when I can't take the onslaught anymore, and I've done something that I wish I hadn't - some property has been damaged.

She's asked me to travel out to the suburbs from the city centre; it's a considerable car ride away, including some travel on a dual-carriageway - the main road South, which turns into the motorway and would safely take me back to London, if we stayed on it. I get the cab to stop at a shop so I can buy some things for a romantic evening. I'm greeted with a hug, we lie on the bed kissing and cuddling... this is all how I hoped things would be; I'm relaxing and enjoying a pleasant evening; this is very nice. Then, she's hurling abuse at me, telling me I'm a terrible person... I'm sitting down while she's standing up, verbally attacking me and generally bullying the shit out of me. She suddenly asks me to leave... alright, no problem. I jump up, grab a rolling pin from the kitchen where it lies idle on the worktop and I smash her laptop to pieces, then I leave immediately. I regret it instantly and text her that I want to replace it, as I make my way to the nearest cab rank, to get a taxi to retrace the journey that I took hardly any time ago. Why had I been summoned to the suburbs for this abuse? Certainly, my loss of temper at the injustice of it all is in no way a justification for destroying her laptop - it was a disproportionate response.

I don't think people really see what's going on underneath the surface, even though I tell them.

Two police officers are interviewing me. It's 2am in the morning. I was just discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt, and my kidneys are still not fully functioning. My body is bruised as hell from where the emergency services had to kick in the bathroom door to get to me, slumped in the dark, dying. My muscles ache from the damage that was done to them by the massive overdose of opiates - prescription painkillers I had stockpiled. I answer the police questions. I admit smashing up that laptop - of course I did it and I want to replace it. The last messages I ever sent while still alive were attempts to get her bank details, so I could transfer her enough money to get a brand new replacement... although of course the destruction of her laptop must have been a shocking over-reaction in her eyes and upsetting for her, and I can never fix that.

Don't people see me as vulnerable? I feel like a 3 year old, being beaten up by grown-ups. I feel vulnerable; scared. People must see me as an easy target, because they certainly don't hold back when they're ripping into me. I find myself back in my trashed apartment at 3:30am on Wednesday morning. How did this happen? Why do people think I'm perfectly fine - OK to chuck out from hospital as soon as my kidneys are working a little bit? Why do people think I'm physically and psychologically indestructible? Why would the massive overdose that I took be seen as unimportant, and that I'm perfectly able to pick myself up and carry on with life?

I feel like I get a double-whammy. I feel that people take advantage of my good nature: my trusting and happy-go-lucky approach to life, where I try to be generous and loving. I take the risks - I make the first moves - and I put myself out there in the hope of getting something back. If I get nothing back, that's fine - let's just leave it there and move on. Why did I have to get dragged all the way out of the city centre and far from my home, simply to receive cruel and unpleasant treatment and be told to get out? My reaction was out of proportion though, so I also get the guilt. I'm guilty of smashing up that laptop. I'm guilty of seeing red, losing my temper, retaliating at the injustice of the situation, in a totally unjustifiable way. Now, I still carry that guilt and I always will - it stopped her hurling abuse at me, but that doesn't make it right. In fact, I can never make things right - I'm always going to feel terrible about her stunned silence, and the fact that it must have seemed like a crazy over-reaction to a bit of 'light-hearted' bullying and abuse in the place she'd dragged me out to, to do it - in the middle of fucking nowhere. If it sounds like I'm conflicted, I am. Where's the sympathy for the fact that I was taken advantage of, abused and left feeling totally abandoned in a strange city? Where's the consideration of the fact that it's obvious that I was on the edge: I very nearly succeeded in killing myself, as the very next thing that I did.

This whole traumatic episode has forced me to dredge up every 'bad' thing I've ever done, and reconsider whether I could have handled things better. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Turn down friends and girlfriends when they cross my path? Am I supposed to be negative and untrusting? Am I supposed to shut myself away, isolated behind closed doors and be anti-social, because I always end up just feeling like a mug... financially taken advantage of and cleaning up after my 'guests'. Should I not give people a chance? Should I be closed and negative, assuming everybody's out to get me? Certainly, everybody's come and picked my fucking pocket, quite gleefully.

I'm no angel. This is certainly not a piece that argues things in black & white. If you want to talk about black & white, then you have it in black & white: I smashed up her laptop with a rolling pin in a sudden fit of rage. My regret and remorse is meaningless - I did it, so that's that. I'm guilty of being an "angry man" right?

I wonder what percentage of my life I've been angry for. Certainly, most people who've known me for any length of time would not think "angry" as one of the first words that sprang to mind. Perhaps I just hide it very well. It's not really for me to judge anyway, what my personality is in the context of this tale and the wider issue of whether I'm some kind of crazed nutter, intent on smashing up the entire world.

I guess you could consider the nature of a dog, as an analogy. How much can you abuse the dog, before it bites you? Are the best dogs the ones that just whimper and maybe even shit themselves? Does a dog - even though it has sharp teeth and powerful jaws - only qualify as a good dog if it never turns on somebody who's abusing it? If you can answer that question, you might have gone some way to answering the question that fills me with doubt at the moment: am I a bad person; am I evil?

Frankly, I think we're all capable of saying and doing regrettable things, in the heat of the moment. The question is, how do you feel about what you did? Do you do horrible things on a regular basis? What's your predominant personality - are you a victim, victimiser or something in-between?

I don't want to fall into the trap of feeling too sorry for myself; feeling too victimised. I've said and done things I wish I hadn't. Also, why can't I stick up for myself? Why can't I avoid the people who think it's OK to pick my pocket? Why can't I tell those who would take advantage of me, to fuck off, before they bleed me dry?

I've seized upon this word "vulnerable" which neatly sums up me and my situation. I trust when I shouldn't; give when I shouldn't; take a chance when I shouldn't and generally end up fucked. Surely nobody would argue with the facts: I'm the one who ended up isolated and alone, dying of an overdose, losing all my property, losing a lucrative consultancy contract and an employment offer. I'm an example of the person that lawmakers had in mind, when they created laws that protect me from mental health discrimination and prejudice based on confidential matters.

There's a line in a song I've probably never heard, but I know the lyrics because my guardian angel told them to me. The song talks about how bullying a kid every day created a monster.

Am I a monster? I certainly seem to fight with monsters. Perhaps I would be wise to remember the words of Nietzsche, and be careful that I do not turn into a monster myself, if I continue to fight monsters.

It's not my instinct to fight. It's my instinct to be nonviolent. I only fight* when I've got nothing left.




* - I don't mean fight her. She's got the money to replace her laptop now, I hope, and I really hope we can move on with our lives as best as we can, although I do appreciate that it was traumatic and seemingly an over-reaction from me. I feel very bad about what I did.


Hacked: I'm not one of the bad guys

1 min read

This is a story about hurt feelings...

WhatsApp message

Let's just be nice to each other. We're all soft and squishy and vulnerable on the inside.

I'm one of the good guys - I value friendships & loyalty, and I wouldn't abuse my tech superpowers for malicious purposes. I just want us all to get along, man. Peace out, brother.




My Single Summer

6 min read

This is a story about all-night fun and frolics...

Alarm clock

I had an interview today. I mean yesterday. I made a new friend last Wednesday, or was it Thursday? Once you go past midnight, things get complicated.

I lead a follow-the-sun existence. During the morning, I'm saying good night to my friends in Australia and New Zealand. As the day wears on, it's bedtime for my friends in India and other parts of Asia. At around noon, I say good morning to my friends on the East Coast of North America, and at about 3pm I say good morning to my friends on the the West Coast - we chat all day, all evening, into the night. Then, my friends in the Czech Republic, Italy and France remind me that it's almost my own bedtime, but I skipped my medication: I'll sleep when I'm dead. By the time 5am comes around, those friends in Canada and the United States are starting to think about getting some sleep themselves... but for friends in New Zealand and Australia, it's a whole new day. It's only me who hasn't been to bed and is getting confused about whether it's today or tomorrow.

I keep skipping my medication, so that I can be alert and on top of my game for job interviews. Without a job, I'm going to be bankrupt in no time. I'm already being turfed out of my apartment without getting a penny of my deposit back. Where am I going to live? How am I supposed to feed myself?

This isn't supposed to happen. I have mood stabilisers. I have sleeping pills. I have strict instructions to keep to the same bedtime every night and not to over-sleep: 8 to 10 hours is plenty, which will make many parents grit their teeth with envy. Under normal circumstances, I live a heavily medicated existence where I shuffle around and speak frustratingly slowly. The hospital staff who visit me at home to check on me are happy to see me in that state: I should be no trouble to anybody, in that chemical straightjacket.

I did take my pills tonight, probably more than 12 hours late. I doubled up on the sleeping pills, but I practically wrote the book on sleep deprivation. I can tell you exactly what happens after 3 or 4 days, then 6 or 7 days without sleep. After 9 days of 24-hour consciousness and not so much as a snooze, I can give you an approximate description of what this state of sleeplessness is like. At the 10 day point, who knows if or when I'll regain consciousness - psychosis consumes anybody who didn't sleep for as long as 10 days. Calendars and days of the week become as alien to me as a smartphone would be to an Amazonian tribe who've remained completely undiscovered in the densest and most inaccessible jungle.

I've been packing up my stuff, and I found some headphones I really love and an amplifier for them. I used to dance at all-night raves and club nights. I might not have been writing my blog so much, but I was having important online conversations. I decided I did't want to die angry with the world, so I started writing more conciliatory words; I started writing to say "thanks" instead of "f**k you buddy". All this while, I'm listening to music that I hadn't been able to stand because none of it matched my mood; none of the lyrics spoke to me; there was nothing I could relate to.

The last happy thing I remember doing with her was watching the sequel to Trainspotting. We were both buzzing. Reading - the town - was a special place for us both and the music festival in 1996 is where I watched Trainspotting in the cinema tent, and then heard Underworld play Born Slippy in the dance tent. The soundtrack to the movie got us both listening to the classic tunes and their modern remixes, and speculating about the meaning of the lyrics.

Dirty numb angel boy

And tears boy

And all in your inner space boy

You had chemicals boy

I've grown so close to you

She said come over

She smiled at you boy.

I then decided to repurpose a song I liked into a poem for her.

The poem is a sad goodbye if you like. I got the job. I'm leaving the city where we currently live. I'm leaving all those reminders of a time when I thought we'd be together forever, and she'd look after me if I got sick, and vice-versa.

Summer Break-Up

A thousand words
captured in a photograph
of me and you
drinking prosecco on the grass
so hard to breathe
the way you made me laugh.

That summer dating
ended all right
seemed like you would be
the only one for me
and seemed like I was too
the only one for you.

Later when we were alone
we promised everything we owned
and every little bit of me
tingled excitedly
this thing was so right
was exactly what it felt like
how could it go wrong?
now it's all gone.

People told me all the time
that love is just a state of mind
but they don't know love's hard to find
and that's why I'm not changing mine.

I called you up
the hundredth try
and I'm still out of luck
your number changed
and I guess so did you.

But I'm not the same little
helpless dying flower
that you nurtured and saved
because now I do believe
that inside of me
you set me free.

When I see your picture, I smile
because I think of you happier
without my weight on your shoulders
I must take my wings and soar
but I've never felt afraid like this before

It's 7am now. I'm going to get a couple of hours of sleep. I've probably been writing complete drivel, and I don't want to upset her. I did promise her that we'd leave each other alone to move on with our lives, but I lied... I felt like I was going to die. I just had to hope she'd never find out I'd killed myself. Now, there's a chance that things could work out for me, and I could get a fresh start; a new challlenge to hurl myself into to forget all about love and heartbreak for a while.

Time is a great healer, and if you're awake 24 hours a day, you're living about 33% more than everybody else, but you don't get over a breakup any quicker.

Sleep is also a great healer, so to bed, I must.





12 min read

This is a story about changing beyond recognition...

Missing boy

This 25 year old Londoner was hopelessly addicted to kitesurfing, and had secured a job in Bournemouth, where he would work mornings and evenings, leaving his afternoons free to go to the beach. Working for a huge international organisation, he had secured a ludicrously good deal - salary and relocation allowance - and the Human Resources (HR) people who he negotiated with had no idea that the real prize was to be able to kitesurf every day.

Despite being confident and outgoing, he was hiding crushing insecurities about his attractiveness to the opposite sex - a complete lack of self-esteem - and was struggling to find the girl of his dreams, who would be the cherry on top of a lovely cake. Being a hopeless romantic, and pretty inexperienced despite his 25 years on this Earth, he could fall in love at the drop of a hat and be heartbroken when a simple fling didn't turn into anything more serious.

Hot blonde

Overcoming his ineptitude with women, he got together with a girl who looked perfect on paper and she was a pretty and petite blonde. He was smitten. She was a science graduate and a computer programmer. She even worked for a client that he'd worked for 6 years before, and he knew many of her colleagues.

In the words of one of his best friends, she was a "conversion project". He would teach her to kitesurf, and then they could travel the world together, chasing warm wind, soft sand and water that was mirror flat or had perfect waves. Brazil, Venezuela, Cape Verde, South Africa, The Canary Islands... there was an endless list of exciting countries to visit with this beautiful girl, and kitesurf together.

Poole harbour

There she was, giving it a damn good go in Poole Harbour, under his tuition. Why she was wearing a buoyancy aid in water that's so shallow you can stand up in it, was anybody's guess, but I guess it made her feel more confident. Kitesurfing in those days was super dangerous - the emergency release mechanisms were just being developed, and if you let go of the bar, you'd be dragged along out of control, like being tied to the back of a speedboat being driven by a maniac, until you crashed into one of those harbourside houses.

After a year, he decided to propose. He asked her dad's permission. He did all the things that he thought he should do: buy a house, get married, get a pet, have kids. Thankfully - for the kids' sake - they stopped short of doing that last one. Just looking after their a cat had a very strong bonding effect. Their cat is probably the reason they stayed together as long as they did.

Hawaii wedding

They got married in Hawaii, of course. He was allowed to wear flip flops, but not board shorts. In fact, he had a tough time from bridezilla for almost the whole trip until he put his foot down and said he just wanted to sit by the pool or on the beach, drinking ice cold beverages. She wanted to be sightseeing in a decrepit camper van that they weren't insured to drive. He checked them into a luxury hotel, which cost a small fortune - it was Christmas time after all - and finally, for a brief moment, he had a tiny bit of holiday relaxation.

Notably, they didn't take their kites or kiteboards. Travelling with a wedding dress and linen suit was a teeny bit difficult, but not as hard as lugging a 30kg bag that's nearly as tall as person. However, Hawaii has wind, waves. warm water and beautiful sandy beaches. Barely a few hundred metres from where Barack Obama was spending his holiday break, our missing young man was forced to try pole dancing (windsurfing) for the first time, in desperation to get his 'fix'. There was the shame and indignity of being a beginner windsurfer he was an experienced kitesurfer in a paradise location, who could have been having the time of his life.

Pole dancing

After landing at London Heathrow, after over 20 hours of flight time, it turned out that his new wife had used an online booking website to arrange the taxi home, but had not accounted for the fact that they would be away over New Year's Eve. An innocent mistake, but it left them stranded, exhausted, in the middle of the night.

Within a month, he was in private hospital. It was all too much for him. She would rage and throw tantrums when things didn't go her way. He would bite his tongue and try to fix everything. The pressure to please her was unbearable... but it was never enough. He'd bought her a hot tub because she said she had loved having one in California. He'd shown her the world, staying in the best hotels and eating in the best restaurants. He'd married her in one of the most romantic destinations you could ever choose, and he'd even agreed not to wear board shorts. She was threatening divorce while he was sending her a different flower every day, from hospital, to show he still loved her. Despite him being a generous lover, she was on 'no strings attached' dating websites, looking for sex.

Crepe suzette

If crêpes Suzette, flambéed at your table, with the best views of any restaurant in Malta, is not enough to whisk a girl of her feet, he was left bamboozled as to how he could possibly please her. He was completely naïve, believing that if he treated her like a princess, she would love him as much as he loved her. He was wrong. It hurt and he was heartbroken.

It made no sense. People would come to their summer garden parties and be served home-made burgers and marinated chicken, plus endless varieties of sausages hot off the barbecue, while a range of delicious salads that she had prepared, were laid on for the vegetarians and to garnish the plates with. Fire pits and patio heaters kept people warm after the sun went down, and there was the hot tub kept at a toasty 38 degrees (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

It made no sense. People would come out for trips on his boat to see one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Him and his wife were a natural host and hostess. They were a great team when they were entertaining guests.

For her birthday one year, he took her in his boat up the Wareham River, moored up outside The Priory Hotel, and they ate lunch on the patio, which was some of the finest dining in Dorset - cooked by Michelin star standard chefs - with beautifully manicured lawns leading down to the river bank.

Why they quarrelled and grew apart is a mystery. She wanted to learn to sail and he was an RYA dinghy sailing instructor and experienced yacht skipper. She wanted to rock climb and he had the qualifications and experience to teach her. She wanted to climb mountains, and he had spent months in the high Alps and was a mountain leader (guide) experienced in dealing with emergencies, working with groups of varying ability, and acclimatising to altitude. He taught her how to snowboard and was grinning from ear to ear when she followed him off piste without a moment of hesitation.

All the things

However, he was baffled and slightly insulted that she spent a lot of money to go and learn from other people. He'd taken her sailing multiple times, and taught her a lot. He'd taken her rock climbing, and shown her the ropes; pardon the pun. He'd taken her into the mountains and shown her the basics of navigation, safety, route planning and even how to retreat when things don't go to plan. That's our missing man and his ex-wife, in every picture above except the mountain one. where he's the one taking taking the photo.

He was, undoubtably, looking for the love of his life, but married the wrong person. Friends warned him that him & her weren't a good match. "The poison dwarf" was too hot to handle, especially for a sensitive guy who was relatively inexperienced with women and still nurtured the Disney "happily ever after" idea of finding true love. He mounted a kindness offensive - an attempt to satisfy her every whim, her every ambition, but yet it still wasn't enough. He was delicate. She was aggressive.

It made him sick - mentally unwell - all this arguing and rejection. He wanted to just grab her and squeeze her tight until she felt safe and loved. Maybe that was the problem: she felt trapped and smothered. They met when she was only 23, which I guess is quite young, considering that he proposed when she was only 24. For their parents' generation, that would not have been unusual, and he did things the old fashioned way: buying a house to start a family. However, she complained she hadn't seen enough of the world; experienced enough of life's adventures. He set out to rectify this, but what she was really saying is "I'm not ready to be a one-dick woman just yet".

His best friend coined the phrase "conversion project", which is to take a girl and turn her into a kitesurfer; a sailor, a climber; a mountaineer. This friend literally asked "are you ready to be a one vagina man?". Soon after that, this friend went on a trip to sow his wild oats across Scandinavia, before coming home to marry the poor girl who'd had to tolerate this temporary break-up in the full knowledge that his motive was completely unreasonable. They're a happy couple with twins and a lovely house now, so maybe he was right. At the time, his wife wanted to punch his friend in the face or testicles, or probably both.

Before his petite blonde wife, the happy smiling 25 year old - pictured when our story began - had tried to make it work with a kitesurfer who lived 186 miles away, and nowhere near the sea. He'd tried to make it work with other kitesurfer girls too. An incredibly beautiful Burmese kitesurfer girl seemed to be flirting with him when she was on holiday with him in Sardinia, but he was so shy and inexperienced, he didn't dare try to kiss her.

Our missing man tried to make it work with his wife, again and agan and again and again, and eventually it broke him. He broke down and sank into depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse and made a stupid mistake which was his ultimate demise: the abuse of legal highs. This was the beginning of the end.

In the chaos, confusion, stress and trauma of divorce, selling his house, saving his most precious possessions, leaving the town he'd called home for 8 years and all his friends... all mixed in with toxic additives like mental health problems, addiction and alcoholism, he was a little lost boy. He's been missing for nearly 11 years. There have been times when somebody who appeared to be him popped up briefly, but like an apparition, he melted away into nothingness again.

Is it any wonder that he disappeared? He gave so much of himself away - his love - trying to make relationships work; trying to make girls feel special and cherished and loved and like princesses; trying to please; loving unconditionally.

This blog contains the bitterness; the accusations of wrongdoing - the evidence of the inexcusable and terrible behaviour that was perpetrated against the author. This blog tells the story of why that young man went missing, and why he's still missing. Perhaps why he'll never be found. If he's missing, perhaps, you shouldn't search for him.

Perhaps there's no place in this world for a naïve little boy who has so much love to give, but nobody to give it to. So many times in life he was left reeling, hurt and wondering what he did wrong, when all he tried to do was to be as nice as he could possibly be. Perhaps that silly little boy got it all wrong, and life's not about being nice and kind to people; it's about using people and getting what you want at all costs. The boy was not made for this world - he was like an alien from another planet.


Look at this old man. Look at the sadness that he tries to hide, but something in his eyes betrays him. He knows he's nothing like that happy smiling 25 year old young man, photographed 12 years ago. He knows that all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put him back together again. He knows that whatever it was that happened, it damaged him badly. Unconditional love, infectious happiness, a sense of contentment and the enthusiastic exuberance that characterised our missing little lost boy, are qualities that this old man doesn't possess - they're completely different people.

It's a tragedy when we lose somebody who brought fun & excitement, adventure & exhilaration, thrills & spills, into people's lives. It's a tragedy when many lives are touched - improved - and then we lose that person.

I don't think we'll ever find him though. He's gone forever.




Giving Thanks to Her

10 min read

This is a story about gratitude...

Boxing up

In happier times, I could cycle through a tunnel under the River Thames to go and see her. During a blissfully warm Indian summer, we courted on the hills above the capital, enjoying spectacular panoramic views across London: far better than even my overpriced central London apartment can provide. Sipping Prosecco out of plastic glasses and eating Marks & Spencer finger food, it was clear that our borderline alcoholism and gluttony made us a well-matched pair, or so it seemed as we muddled through the tail end of summer, autumn and the winter.

This is not a portmortem of our relationship. If anybody was looking for that, including her, I would hope they'd read So Lonely, which gives some insight into my half of the story of our breakup: a story that would never get told to her mum, brother, best friends and work colleagues. Instead, I'm a pariah. No; worse... I have instigated protective instincts that only a short time before extended to me, as a loosely connected family member: her partner and somebody fully committed to a lifelong future together. Her brother hates me, I assume.

There's the unresolved issue of the fact that I loved that she had some association with politics, by fluke of her career, while I had made political matters the core of my thinking; political ideologies were the thing I most passionately believed in. When I write pieces which show that my thinking is ahead of the pack - unencumbered by the corrupting influence of living and working too close to the very elites who have grown apart from the electorate - I can't help but wonder what my former best friend, lover and lifelong partner, would have to say, with the benefit of her amazing intellect... but she also benefits from her privileged position of having to do nothing more than to turn up at an office each day, to soak up the status quo and entrenched beliefs of the Westminster bubble. I hoped she would read Labour's Catch 22, especially as it predated Graham Jones and Gloria De Piero's rebellion over Labour arrogance that Corbyn's popularity will be enough to sweep the party to power at the next general election.

Before continuing further, it's important to note that I'm boxing up my belongings, putting them into storage, and it's likely that I will be leaving this city of nearly 9 million inhabitants - where bumping into somebody you know is incredibly improbable - and she should know that I respect our agreement to leave each other in peace; to move on with our lives, despite the pain and heartache of a breakup. I could be in a city in the North of the country, or I could even be abroad: the chance that we should ever meet again is close to zero percent.

It should be noted that she used to read everything I wrote, proofread it, help edit it, provide feedback and even helped shaped the plot of my debut novel. This is the first thing I want to say thank you for doing, whether she reads this or not.

Bad boy

I'm doing this in a kind of reverse order of importance, so the next thing I'm thankful for is her tolerance and even good humour, over things that very few partners could be so kind and understanding about. She might not have understood what bath salts were at first; she might not have understood that I suffer from a dual diagnosis, which makes understanding me a whole lot harder than buying the Amazon bestseller on bipolar disorder, but she damn well did buy that book. By way of a comparison, my ex-wife bought the book "Nag your Loved one Sober". That epitomises of the difference between my relationship with my my ex-wife and a loving relationship.

Photo frames

The next thing I've got to give thanks for is how she listened & observed. My walls were bare even though I had a photo of nearly 20 of my best friends, a photo of me that reminds me I was a young cool kitesurfer dude once, and a photo of an animal I have always professed a desire to keep as a pet. The frames that hold these pictures were part of a Christmas bonanza of gifts that I'm now bursting into to tears thinking about. Not so much because of the thoughtful gifts - although this was without question the best Christmas of my adult life - but because I was brought into the fold of a bonded and caring family and received so much love, care and acceptance.

The sickie

Early in the New Year, I secured a new IT contract. Sadly, I sat on my leg and caused a kind of crush injury normally only seen in car accidents and building collapses. My kidneys stopped working and I found myself as a high dependency case in hospital, on dialysis. She burnt herself out trying to look after me for weeks, but not only that, she marshalled the troops: my friends and her family, in order to make me feel loved and supported. In all the multiple hospitalisations I've suffered over the last few years, I'd never received a single get well card and one of only two visitors came to demand I returned a copy of the keys to his house after a suicide attempt [not in his house]. It's imperative that I thank her [and her family] for their efforts in returning me to good health, through love and support.

Mr Squiz

Apart from raccoons, squirrels are another animal that I'm mad about. I guess that, living in London, squirrels are a cute animal that has gotten so used to human contact that they come right up to you and take things out of your hands, if you pretend to have food for them. If you do have food for the squirrels, they'll crawl all over you and put up with a certain amount of petting, even though they're wild. With the collapse of my second attempt at domestic bliss - my marriage to my ex-wife - my cat had to go live with my parents, from whom I'm estranged. I'm thankful that she gave me a third period of domestic bliss, with Mr Squiz as our inanimate pet [who she bought for me]. The lovely bedclothes, quilt and pillows are all thanks to her. She made me feel loved, and that I could love again.

Domestic bliss

No domestic bliss is complete without the trimmings of high quality kitchenwares and other day-to-day luxury items. Everthing from my tatty tea towels to my budget Ikea cutlery received a quiet makeover. My cheap-brand supermarket goods were replaced with the best that Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have to offer the upper-middle-class consumer and I started to develop a penchant for lime cordial made with 30% Mexican limes... available exclusively in the top-tier supermarkets. The hoi polloi have never tasted such delicious concentrated drink products, nor have they used John Lewis' or Joseph & Joseph homewares... they haven't lived. I must be thankful to her - without even a hint of sarcasm - for giving me a simidgin of a taste of the finer things in life.

Camper Shoes

Our final quarel might seem rather ludicrous to you. It resulted in me slicing deep gashes into the length of my forearm and making footprints in my own blood, on her walls. The only thing you can really know from this is that I was incredibly unwell, but you could also infer that there was something that was deeply important to me, about whatever was going on. It's very hard to understand people who are in an extreme mental health crisis, but my crisis was deepened and exacerbated by her decision to try and ignore me. I had tried and failed to walk to the local shop - a very short distance away - wearing my Brazilian Havaiana flip-flops, but due to the aforementioned leg injury, my left foot is completely numb and I'm unable to even feel if my big toe has become dislocated, which it easily can because of damage to my tendons. This is all highly complicated, but you should know that I've spent months each year wearing those Brazilian flip flops, and they had become intricately linked to my identity. She had offered - a parting gift if you like - to buy me a pair of summer shoes, which I could wear with my numb left foot. The Camper shoes pictured offer a wide footbed, allowing my toes to spread naturally: otherwise I would have no idea if I was getting a blister on one side or the other of my foot. She will probably never understand how important these shoes were to me; nor how important it was that she at least humour me, when our relationship had fractured and virtually disintegrated. She seemingly made an overnight change in how much care and attention that she lavished on me, in what was supposed to be a love to last until our dying days. My final thank you is for something that looks purely cosmetic or materialistic, but she eventually had the faith to make a final pyrrhic effort and expense, which she would never see any benefit of, to get me those shoes. I wear those shoes every day and the quality of life improvement they have brought me would astound anybody who hasn't experienced partial loss of the use of a limb or extremity, and the loss of the choices they get to make about their attire. This is more than simple vanity: it's identity, which is tightly bound up with self-esteem.

To write the best part of 2,000 words, in thanks to a partner who you've promised - mutually - to never be in contact with ever again, seems to plumb the depths of insanity, but while she has her resurgent career, I've had a close shave with being hospitalised and have been visited at home every day by somebody checking to see if I'm still alive. I'm not saying it's been a cakewalk for her, but she hurled herself back into her career, which was both therapeutic as well as beneficial to her ongoing job aspirations.


I'm not completely insane, and I know from the analytics of my website when I've had a visitor which is her, in all likelihood. I want to honour our "no communication" and "move on with our lives" agreement, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have have the evidence to show that somebody's had a peek to see if I'm still alive.

What I need to do is lick my wounds; to try to forgive myself for acts that were driven by mental illness; to try and accept that her choice to break our no-communication agreement was for the private swallowing of her pride and to publicly swallow her pride and for any reconciliation to take place, would be unthinkable when she thinks of herself as some kind of minor celebrity.

While that final paragraph might seem bitter and harsh, given the thankful tone of everything I've just written, perhaps it's just part of the baggage that I struggle with, alone. With any breakup, there will be unanswered questions and what ifs. With any breakup, it's hard not to look backwards until the next love of your life enters the picture. I really hope that nothing I've said would detract from my overall gratitude that I met her, shared time with her, had hope for the future with her, felt loved by her and ultimately had my life enriched by her.

It's rather tragic, but where in life can you say you don't find tragedy and regret: tragedy in what might have been if only things had played out slightly differently?