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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

twitter.com/ManicGrant

nick@manicgrant.com

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Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

4 min read

This is a story about a lack of remorse...

Naughty cat

We very often anthropomorphise and we say that our cat or dog has been "naughty" or "misbehaving" which is ridiculous, because a non-human animal's brain lacks the capacity to plan, and the concepts of right & wrong are not something which could ever be taught conceptually. Yes, we can rub a puppy's nose in its own puddle of urine, believing that we are teaching it not to be naughty, but we are actually conditioning the animal to become anxious and hold in its full bladder using fear and revulsion - a kind of 'teaching by terror'.

Human morality can be learned conceptually. We know that it is wrong to murder, for example, even though almost none of us learned that by murdering somebody and being punished.

As complex social animals, we learn an whole range of behaviours purely from others' reactions to our actions. We have an incredible ability to interpret nonverbal communication - like facial expressions - and we will adjust our behaviour accordingly.

In the interests of being able to peacefully cohabit in larger and larger tribes, antisocial individuals have been weeded out of the gene pool. Those who are socially clueless about upsetting and angering others, have mostly died out.

Thus, we arrive at a situation where we know when we've done something wrong and really upset somebody and/or made them really angry. If we keep doing the same thing over and over again, we know we're doing it - we're pushing somebody's button's deliberately.

Personally, if somebody tells me explicitly that I've said or done something to upset them, or even if there are just subtle body language clues, my first instinct is to apologise.

I've had people absolutely raging and ranting at me, when the thing they were angry about wasn't even true but yet I was apologetic.

Apologise first. Apologise first and defuse the situation. The more you apologise, the more the whole of society gets along just fine.

Apologise. It won't kill you.

Apologise. It won't damage your pride.

Apologise. It's what the nice, kind and pleasant members of society do.

Apologise. It helps us all get along.

If you don't apologise, immediately, without heistation, there's probably something wrong with you. There's probably a reason why you're not having long-lasting relationships; why you haven't been married; why you never tried to have kids. Society doesn't want people who don't apologise. Society would prefer arseholes who never say sorry to just die and take their genes with them to the grave.

If "sorry" is a hard word for you to say, and you'd rather put all your effort into avoiding saying sorry, well, maybe that's why nobody wants to be your partner. 

It does surprise me how some people just stubbornly won't apologise for horrible unforgivable disgusting things they've done - they're remorseless - but I guess they're the ones who are excluded from society, by being locked up in prisons, or excluded from the gene pool because they get dumped and spend most of their life single. 

I really can't relate to those people who won't apologise for the things they've done wrong. I really can't understand why they'd waste so much effort not saying sorry. It seems like a lot of wasted effort, and it seems very antisocial to me.

I remember my ex-wife had broken my nose and given me two black eyes, and I asked her if she was going to say sorry. She literally didn't think she'd done anything wrong. "Domestic violence is when a man hits a woman, not the other way round you idiot" she said. She was completely unrepentant; remorseless.

I've got hyper-sensitivity for abusive women now. If I pick up on the fact that you think it's OK to abuse men, because you're a woman, then I'm sorry, but you're dumped.

How much abuse is OK? "I'm only teasing" - yeah, well how many people kill themselves because it's "just a bit of harmless fun" for their abusers? Teasing, yes, maybe... but I'm still a bit cautious. Where does teasing end and systematic routine psychological abuse begin? It's a slippery slope.

So, I err on the side of caution. I dump abusive girlfriends. I apologise, even if I stubbornly think I'm right.

 

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Feed and Water Regularly

13 min read

This is a story about looking after living organisms...

Drooping house plant

My drooping castor oil plant is the perfect visual metaphor for what's happened to both of us in the best part of a week - we've been dying.

I can be a little paranoid, even in perfect health. I wouldn't - for example - walk around naked without the curtains or blinds fully closed, even though there's a fairly small chance that somebody might get an eyeful of full frontal nudity, unless I was stood right by the window for ages. My ex-girlfriend throws open her bedroom shutters, often times much improving the day of the workmen retiling the roof of the house opposite. Something like that would change my behaviour, but not her - even with hard concrete evidence that a little paranoia is justified, she continues to flash her knockers at strangers every morning. There's also a school opposite her house too, so it'd be just my luck to end up on some kind of police register because an eagle-eyed kid caught a glimpse of my willy as I darted past the window to get my garments and cover up.

The blinds in my bedroom are shit - as I've said before - and one thing that's really bad is that they offer even less privacy at night, when it's light inside and dark outside. I'm not exactly thrilled at the thought of putting on a light and shadow show, which would unmistakably advertise to my neighbours that I'm having a wank to pornography. It's bad enough being single again, but most of us reserved Brits are a bit ashamed of our masturbation and porn habits.

Just ask somebody to show you the history of everything they searched for on a porn site, and you'll see that it's not just me who's the paranoid prudish freak: there's something so personal and confidential about the porn that you like and the words you use to find it. When you're searching in the privacy of your own home, with nobody looking over your shoulder, you assume that nobody will ever see those words other than you. It's one of the most unpleasant experiences to have somebody judge those words you typed, especially as nobody else was ever supposed to see them.

So, I can be paranoid, even at the best of times.

Sleep deprivation, dehydration and hunger can take a little seed of paranoia and turn it into fully-blown bat-shit insanity.

My windows were taped up so nobody could see in. Then my doorbell started ringing and ringing. I could hear my landlord hanging around. I could hear footsteps right by my bedroom windows. I could see silhouettes of people standing right by my bedroom windows. "Fuck!" I thought "what am I going to say if he knocks on the door and asks why I taped up the windows?". So, I stayed awake all night, watching shadows and not wanting to use the rest of my apartment or turn on a light. So far as anybody could've guessed, I wasn't in.

If you're "not in" you can't flush your toilet and you can't run the taps, and you have to rely on night vision and tiptoeing around, feeling your way as you go. If you're "not in" you can't be spotted through your absolutely massive windows in the living areas, which you can't draw the curtains of, because that makes it look more like you're at home, just not answering the door.

If you're "not in" and you can't flush the loo - which is right by the communal hallway - because you're paranoid somebody'll hear it, then you can't drink too much. Besides, you can't be seen filling up a glass or a bottle, through the massive window right by the sink, especially when the landlord's main hobby is hanging around by people's windows.

If you're "not in" you can't go and prepare yourself a delicious hot meal - again because you don't want to be seen or heard.

Eventually, you get like my wilted plant. Your body starts to eat itself, which would be OK ish if you were drinking to get rid of the excess creatinine by pissing it out, but you're not pissing because you can't and you're not drinking much. All that shit in your blood which your kidneys would ordinarily filter out hasn't got any carrier fluid to push it though the filter and into the bladder, so your blood gets really toxic. Your muscles start getting damaged, and the bits of damaged muscle block the tiny 'filter holes' in your kidneys, and then you couldn't piss even if you wanted to - you're blocked up; kidney failure

Once you end up in urinary retention, your body will get waterlogged, but the most worrying thing is that your potassium levels will keep rising until your heart stops, because there's no way to get rid of it and it's hard to have a potassium-free diet. Anything over 5ml of potassium in a litre of your blood means you're at pretty imminent risk of a sudden cardiac arrest. You've only got 5 litres of blood in your body, so that's 25ml of potassium. And yes, this is potassium not potassium cyanide. Bananas would be a bit of a shit way to kill yourself - you'd have to eat 51 plus extras because your body is not 100% metabolically efficient. Avocados could be a good novel suicide method though - you'd only have to eat 23 of them to reach hyperkalemia. Ironically, replacing your salt with "healthy" low sodium salt could be a fatal mistake, and it'd certainly be a lot easier to swallow a few of spoonfuls of salt than eat more than 50 bananas.

So, anyway, I started pissing blood, but at least I was pissing. It's when you stop pissing, you've really gotta worry.

I got brave and went on a raiding mission to my fridge where my friend had left me with two bottles of fizzy drink. I treated it like my ex-girlfriend's lack of paranoia about people seeing her tits when she opens the shutters - I was so quick, that I minimised the chance of being seen.

I then had to shake up the drinks and really really slowly let the gas escape, because I can't stand the bloated burping they cause... but, my body had a sugar boost and much needed fluids.

I hadn't slept for two nights at this point, and I was too paranoid to rummage for food which could be eaten cold - I knew everything in the fridge had gone off, and there simply wasn't anything that I could eat without cooking.

I passed out for a couple of hours and when I came to, I had no idea where I was. I was uncontrollably shivering: my body just hadn't had the calories it needed to power my cells and keep my blood at a toasty 37 degrees centigrade.

I wrapped myself in my duvet and warmed myself up as best as I could, but I'd ripped though the soft drinks. In my boldest and most daring feat of anti-paranoia bravery - perhaps with that time unconscious giving me a 'rest' and a sugar boost from the fizzy drinks - I grabbed two bottles of squash and a can of baked beans. I made 3.5 litres of very weak squash in the bath, where I couldn't be seen, although the noise of running water was a concern... but the bathroom is at least a door further away from the front door than the toilet.

As I guzzled a seemingly inexhaustible supply of weak squash, I told myself "this is the best lime cordial I've ever tasted". I greedily scooped cold beans in tomato sauce out of the can I'd grabbed, and I had to pace myself, because my stomach had shrunk so much after 4 days not eating. Also, I had to remember to chew - I was so desperate to fill my stomach that I think I could've just gulped the can down, like lumpy soup.

The food and drink started to vanquish my paranoia, and I moved away from the bedroom door, where I had been a sentry for 5 nights. I lay in bed snuggled under the covers, and my exhaustion finally revealed itself to me - I was trying to write a few messages to say I was OK, and I probably didn't need to go to hospital cos I'd sorted myself out, but I'd keep falling asleep and being woken up by the sound of my phone dropping onto the floor.

I had a longer, warmer, more comfortable sleep in an actual bed, and when I woke up my paranoia was vastly diminished. I felt brave enough to turn lights on, have a shower, use the kitchen and generally no longer have to pretend I was "not in". I was also famished and I desperately wanted to eat a hot meal and use a spoon or a fork, and a plate or a bowl, instead of a laminated business card as a makeshift way of getting beans out of the can and into my mouth.

My bedroom looks every bit like it's been lived in for 5 days by a person who's too paranoid to leave, turn on a light or flush a toilet, but that's a problem for tomorrow. Being well enough to go into the office on Monday looks dubious, but I don't look as bad as I thought I did. I'm overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting out my bedroom, but perhaps I can get a pro-cleaning team to give it a proper deep clean and a decorator to tidy up the marks on the paintwork, where I stumbled into a wall in the pitch black, while sleep deprived, dehydrated and hungry.

I'm so sad that my life was so close to almost perfect - a holiday booked, plans to go sailing and a girlfriend who was alright when she was being nice, rather than trying to unmask me as some kind of god-knows-what, by asking the same rude, impertinent questions that insinuated and alleged that I'm Hitler, Stalin, Osama-bin-Ladin and every serial killer who ever lived, all rolled into one. I would've got away with it, if it wasn't for her pesky asking the same identical question over and over again. Actually, I dumped her - you can't treat a person like they raped, tortured and murdered their whole family, by constantly making untrue horrible allegations about past and future. I really see no justification for being horrible, assuming the worst and treating a person like they'd smash up all your stuff and burn your house down unless you told them not to and supervised them at all times.

So: situation vacant. I'm looking for a girlfriend who doesn't say "don't murder anybody today" instead of goodbye in the morning. I'm looking for a girlfriend who sees my potential, trusts me, respects me and imagines me at my best, not some over-active imagination version of me at my worst. I value loyalty and tactility - somebody who likes hugging and snuggling and spooning - and I have a very strict 3-strike rule if you use withholding of affection, silent treatment, sulking and other negative behaviours which are abusive, instead of a combination of physical reassurance of the bond, and non-aggressive communication.

I'm gutted, because I'd almost taken my 'conversion project' and turned her into somebody who wanted the same kind of secure, loving relationship, packed full of affection. 99% of the time we had a nice time, and when she was being shit with me, we never had an argument... I taught her how to use affection to produce a more effective and quicker resolution, instead of passive-aggressiveness, open hostility, arguing and withholding of affection.

I'm gutted, because I'd been generous and attentive and taken my time in the bedroom and turned her into a little sex addict. We had a good sex life. Not every girl can relax enough and forget the lazy and incompetent lovers of the past, so she really wants sex and initiates it, because of the months and months of investment, making sure she's super satisfied every time and spending lots of time on the pre/post affection aspect, which is arguably the most important thing... way more than a rushed bit of foreplay, ram it in dry, two pumps and a squirt and then immediately roll over and go to sleep.

I'm actually angry I had to dump her, because rules are rules and the last couple of times I didn't stick to my rules, I got domestically abused. I'm a sensitive guy; vulnerable; I'm emotionally unguarded and I leave myself exposed, because it creates a much more bonded happy relationship than two people who just make smalltalk and never really know each other and what they want.

I feel so much more upset about the breakup, because it's a really small city I live in, and it's hard to find somebody who'd love nothing more than to watch an arthouse movie, or eat something really exotic. It's really hard to find somebody who's cultured and well travelled enough to feel like a good match. Damn, I'm fussy, aren't I?

I also feel 100x more alone, even though it's just one person, and I still have local friends Gail and Liam, plus my sailing buddies (only met one - and I work with him) and all the people I work with, some of whom are proper friends too.

It's kinda 'final straw' stuff though. Life's so hard on your own. Everything's easier with two of you, backing each other up.

I haven't got the energy to woo another girl and go through that super intense bit at the start again. She's really pissed me off, that I wasted so much effort, only for her to make yet another horrible allegation, and crossed the threshold - I spent 8 years in a relationship where somebody spoke to me like shit, and it was hell on earth. Walk away. Walk away. Walk away.

I really think I'm going to suffer without regular hugs and cuddles, and reliable companionship. It's a bit like plant food - they don't need it, but it does make them thrive.

Anyway, that was most of the past week. Please look out for me; I'm super fragile.

 

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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

4 min read

This is a story about absolute c**ts...

DVT Leg

Those are my legs. The leg on the left has deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I think this photo is a far better illustrative image than the photo which is featured on the Wikipedia article about DVT.

The cause of DVT is well understood: a blood clot caused by restricted circulation. Again, you just have to read the Wikipedia article and you can understand it very easily.

In fact, you don't even need to read the Wikipedia article. You can just ask me, because I've had DVT. The answer to "what happened to your leg?" is a really simple one: "I got DVT".

Asking the question "why did you get DVT?" also has a really simple answer: "the circulation in my leg was restricted".

Can you see where this is going? It's not rocket science.

Asking the question "why was the circulation in your leg restricted?" yet again has a really simple answer: "I sat on my leg".

By now if you're asking "why did you sit on your leg?" you're quite obviously a complete and utter c**t. Why don't you fuck off and die.

People sit on their leg all the time, and people get DVT all the time, so why don't you fuck off and die you utter c**t.

Asking all these questions ONCE is OK, except for the "why did you sit on your leg?" one, which is just a total c**tish question to ask, unless you're some sort of freak who never once in your entire life sat on your leg. There's even a very common phrase in regular use: "dead leg". If we bothered to invent the term "dead leg" then it must be because it's a super common thing to do.

To ask the c**tish questions must mean you're a c**t.

THEN TO KEEP ASKING THE C**TISH QUESTIONS MUST MEAN YOU'RE A COMPLETE AND UTTER TOTAL C**T OF THE VERY HIGHEST MAGNITUDE.

I was asked the same question, again and again and again and again and again. Unsurprisingly, the answer was always the same, because THAT IS THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION.

Anybody who keeps asking the same question again and again and again is obviously a complete and utter C**T.

IT IS A SIMPLE ANSWER.

I EXPLAINED THE ANSWER AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN using simple language that a developmentally retarded partially lobotomised chimpanzee would be able to easily understand. So why keep asking the same question again and again? Easy: because YOU'RE A COMPLETE AND UTTER CUNT.

Here's the Wikipedia article, which is worth a look just to compare the photo of my leg above with the pathetic example on the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_vein_thrombosis

Anyway, I've had enough. You can ask me the same question a million times, and I'll patiently explain the answer for the millionth time, but the 1,000,001st time you ask the question, you're fucking dumped, I'll block your phone number, I'll block your email address and I'll completely cut you out of my life, because I've got no more time or energy for horrible c**ts like that.

If you're hoping to get a different answer, you're a total fucking c**t. There's only one answer: the full and completely exhaustive truthful answer, and if it's not the one you want, you can fuck off and die. You're an absolute c**t for wanting an answer that's not the truth.

Here's all the evidence. There's the damn photo of my damn leg with the damn DVT. It's that fucking simple.

Goodbye and good riddance you c**t.

 

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Domestic Bliss

9 min read

This is a story about insecure housing...

Paying rent

She said she wanted to be a widow. She marked my suicide note with red pen, filling it with abusive language. I didn't feel safe in the house with her - she would rage and kick and punch the door I'd put between us to protect myself. I was afraid to use the toilet or otherwise leave the room I'd barricaded myself in for my own protection. I wasn't eating. I wasn't afraid without good reason - she'd battered my face not once, not twice, but three times. She'd had her three strikes and I'd had to go to work saying "I walked into a door". I'd had to make excuses for her violence to her parents... to explain away my black eyes, my broken nose.

The abuse had caused me to start self-harming. Later, I started smashing stuff up. We had blazing rows, but, it was always me who ended up locked in the spare bedroom, afraid for my own safety. It was her who got stronger and stronger, while I got weaker and weaker; sicker and sicker; more and more afraid; more and more isolated. I was suicidally depressed and I was trapped. How was I going to escape this abusive relationship? Where would I go? I'd lost so many friends because of her. I'd lost my identity. I'd lost my self-confidence.

She said she'd rather that I died rather than go into hospital. I needed to go to hospital. I was suicidally depressed, but she said if I did go into hospital she'd divorce me. I said that it was life or death... that my suicidal thoughts were so bad I couldn't keep myself safe. She said she'd rather be a widow.

My friends in London took me in. They tried to keep me safe during an incredibly acrimonious divorce. They supported me. They cared for me. I stayed in their spare bedroom until the house was sold and the divorce had been through the courts.

Then I tried to kill myself.

I moved out of my friends' house and I immediately tried to kill myself.

I couldn't kill myself while I was living under their roof - it wasn't right, because they'd helped me so much. They'd helped me escape my ex-wife, but I'd lost my house and what little self-esteem I had. I'd nearly lost my new business. I nearly lost everything. I had just about enough money and energy left to move out, but then I tried to kill myself because I was jobless and sick, living in a shitty shared apartment in a crappy part of London. I was all alone.

Things got worse. The hospital discharged me into a hotel. I said I didn't want to go back to that town where my ex-wife lived. There couldn't have been anything worse psychologically than being forced to go back to that town where she lived. The hospital took pity on me. They discharged me to a hotel. I had 2 weeks to sort out my life.

Inevitably, I became homeless. It was impossible. I was sick. How was I supposed to navigate the complex bureaucratic nightmare that is the UK housing system? I was refused a hostel bed. I was refused supported accommodation. I was told I could get housing benefit, but no landlord will take somebody who pays their rent with "DSS". Housing benefit doesn't pay enough to rent a place in London anyway. What was I supposed to do?

I ended up sleeping rough in Kensington Palace Gardens, and later Hampstead Heath. I bought a tent and made camp in dense undergrowth far away from the main paths. I used all my expeditionary experience to hide myself and sleep under the stars.

I lived in hostels. The hostels brought me into contact with a social group. Socialising made me feel better about myself  - people liked me; I was popular. My self-esteem started to improve.

I rented a little room in a student apartment. It was cheap, for London. They were nice kids, but they were messy students - they were trashing the place. They were partying all the time. It was hard for a thirty-something man with a full-time job at a bank to mix those lifestyles. It was hard when I left the homeless community. It was hard when I transitioned from being homeless to re-entering civilised society. There was a culture clash. I lost most of my friends.

I went back to living in a hostel.

I rented an amazing apartment on the River Thames with panoramic views over London. It wasn't my idea. A friend thought it'd be a good idea to spend a hefty portion of my monthly income on a super-luxury apartment. "You deserve it" he said. Seemed like a good idea at the time. He wanted to live there rent-free, of course. Other parasites came, wanting to live there rent-free too. I found it hard to turn them down, because I'd been homeless. I was a soft touch. I was taken advantage of. I'm owed thousands and thousands of pounds in unpaid rent and bills.

I spent the best part of 2 years living in the same amazing apartment. It was stable, but it wasn't. I had to have an incredibly well-paid job to pay for the rent. It was well beyond my means when I wasn't working. When I was well enough to work, it was a nice reward for my efforts, but the pressure to maintain the lifestyle wasn't sustainable. I got into debt, just so that I could have a place to live and not end up back on the streets. Moving is stressful. I didn't want to have to move again. I had the threat of financial ruin hanging over me the whole time.

I took a contract in Manchester because it came with a relocation allowance - an apartment. I never wanted to live or work in Manchester, but I was desperate. Out of sheer desperation - I was almost broke - I accepted the job and relocated. I didn't know anyone in Manchester. I tried to kill myself.

Of course I tried to kill myself. It was all too much to bear.

I ended up in hospital in Manchester. Of course I ended up in hospital again. I'm so vulnerable; my life is so fragile. I needed that safety; that security.

A stranger contacted me via email to say they'd read my blog. Did I want to live with them in Wales, they asked. At the time, I was living on a psych ward in a dormitory. Of course I wanted a bit of peace and quiet; a change from the insanity of the psych ward. Of course I wanted a stepping stone to a better life... the revolving doors of the institutions and welfare benefits have little to offer, except for days spent dribbling while watching daytime TV, doped up to the eyeballs on incredibly strong psychiatric medications.

I rented another apartment.

The stress peaked and I wanted to kill myself. I thought that the local job was going to fall through, I thought that the apartment was going to fall through, there was conflict with some people. Everything was falling to pieces. The stress was too much to handle. I was going to kill myself.

The stress peaked and now I'm lying on my sofa writing this, in my own place. I've got my own roof over my head, which is affordable. I've got the things that most people take for granted: money, a place to live, a partner, a job, a car. I've still got stuff that'll take time to fix, but it's so much easier when your living arrangements are acceptable, rather than impossible. Living in a hostel is OK when you're unemployed and single, but I've tried working a 'straight' job while living in a 14-bed hostel dorm, and it's impossible... trust me on that one.

You might think I'm spoiled and privileged. You might think that it's unfair that things are working out OK for me, when there are so many people who have things so much worse than me. Vulnerability is vulnerability though, and I've been so close to death so many times. How many times have I been in hospital, in the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) or high-dependency wards? How many times have I been on the brink of bankruptcy? How many nights have I slept rough? How long have I lived in hostels? Do you begrudge me my recovery?

There's more work ahead. I still need to dig myself out of a hole. I'm not out of the woods yet. I ran up debts just staying alive, which I need to repay. I need my income, to allow me to pay down my debts and build up a financial cushion in case I get sick again. I've got bipolar disorder, which means depression, mania and hypomania can all cause major problems in my life - there's no cure for this, and it can be really destructive when I have an episode. I need to stay well, but I don't have any choice in the matter.

So much of my precious stuff was lost, stolen, broken or has otherwise disappeared, during my lengthy escape from that abusive relationship. It's caused so much damage to my life, getting away from my ex and that horrible situation. I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Yes, it's true that at times in London I felt like I was making some progress, but there was too much pressure on me... too much pressure to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle.

Here in Wales life seems simpler; easier. There's less traffic, less crowding, less congestion, less pollution, fewer people, less competition, less crime, less noise... it's just a lot calmer. I feel like I'm calming down.

I can see the sea from my apartment. I can see the sea.

I used to own a house by the seaside.

I'm happy by the seaside.

Now, I'm starting to get my life back. I live by the seaside again. I'm not far from the beach. I can see the sea.

This is the journey I've been on. From domestic violence - domestic abuse - to domestic bliss. I'm a lot happier now I'm not having to barricade myself behind doors to protect myself.

 

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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.

 

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Do No Harm

11 min read

This is a story about helping people...

Dialysis

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.

 

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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.

 

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"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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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* - 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.