Skip to main content

The world's longest suicide note

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

All opinions are my own



9 min read

This is a story about individualism...


It's fun to dress up. It's fun to put on a silly voice. It's fun to wear make-up. It's fun act camp; to mince around. It's fun to belong to a subculture; to be able to identify with your 'kind' - your clan or tribe. It's fun to think of yourself as special and different. It's fun to have a sense of belonging and a strong sense of identity.

Take a walk down Old Compton Street in London's Soho and you'll see lots of men with shaved heads and moustaches wearing white sleeveless T-shirts. They call them clones. The clones are kinda über-masculine - they're generally stocky, muscly men and their bald heads and moustaches accentuate their extreme masculinity. They're so masculine that they live in an all-male world. There's a kind of hyper-sexuality to the clones coupled with a general sense of aggression and strength. It's notable that the clones appeared on the scene before the acronym LGBT started to gain all the additional letters, and vast numbers of teenagers started to become non-binary and pansexual.

In a world of toxic masculinity the pressure on cisgender (i.e. straight) white middle-class men has become unbearable. Born with original sin which means that to whisper "me too" when entering the highly charged arena where everybody claims to be an oppressed victim, is to be aggressively abused by every identity group, from feminists to LGBTQQIP2SAA gender-queers. "Check your privilege" we are told, when it's blatantly obvious that only a very tiny minority of white straight men are the ones who wield any power and control. It's highly unpleasant to be blamed for a situation that I neither created nor supported and I have no power to change.

Viewed as a "success object" I'm regularly asked about my ability to provide, which is like having somebody lecherously staring at my breasts. "Do you own your own home? What car do you drive? Do you have a well-paid job? Do you have a prestigious job title?" I'm asked, with a complete lack of subtlety that I'm being probed to find out if I'm wealthy and conventionally successful or not. It's like having my bum pinched or squeezed. It's like having a lewd pervert mentally undressing me.

I cringe with embarrassment that I wrote a blog post [now deleted] entitled "Feminazi" once, with only a hint of irony. I was trying to annoy an ex because I was in a messed up state - very unwell - and I was suffering some rather strange thoughts and ideas. I'm making excuses where none can really be made, but that's what I did, and I'm ashamed of myself. In the blog post I listed all the many disadvantages of being a man, such as 97% of workplace deaths, 99% of combat deaths, 79% of suicides etc. etc. Those things are all very good evidence that modern man has a pretty tough gig, but I was flirting with misogyny at times and presenting my beliefs with an unhealthy amount of anger and bitterness driving what I was writing.

I wish I was gay.

I've wished I was gay for a very long time. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but it's just not for me, unfortunately.

The reason why I want to be gay is that I've found the homosexual world to be more to my liking than the world in general. I like the quick and easy casual sex of Grindr. I like the flamboyancy and femininity of acting camp. I like the 'scene' and the identity that being gay brings - they don't have "hetero pride" parades, do they? I mainly like the fact that I can be ogled as a sex object and be passive, with potential sexual suitors buttering me up and massaging my ego, and all I have to do is decide who I want to have sex with. In the hetero world as a cisgender man, it's stressful taking risks, making the first move, trying to impress and having horrible knock-backs; it's a lot of pressure to present yourself as eligible and successful, and having gone to all the effort of getting a girlfriend there can be power struggles, with sex and children used as pawns and men are the usually the ones who lose out.

Of course by now, you're probably screaming at the screen that it's harder being a women, gay, trans or whatever particular thing it is that you identify as. You're probably very offended. You probably believe that my opinion is somehow encroaching on your rights and that I'm stealing valuable airtime which needs to be used exclusively by oppressed minority groups.

Everything I write, I worry that I'm somehow veering dangerously towards opinions that would be more at home on Brietbart. I consider myself to be an open-minded lefty liberal who's been through bi-curious periods of life and is quite comfortable with my identity, insofar as I don't think I'm homophobic or transphobic. I really don't think I'm a misogynist, although I admit that I rather bristle with annoyance that men's issues cannot be openly discussed without aggressive hostility being directed towards men who are suffering some very real and extremely horrible issues, and simply want to share their opinion and experiences. Obviously, to be lumped together with the likes of Donald Trump because I'm also a wealthy white man, is quite offensively racist - I'm not part of the so-called patriarchy just because of my skin colour and socioeconomic circumstances.

All these things are unspeakable.

I'm quite well aware of experiments such as this one: Two groups of psychiatrists are given identical case notes on a fictitious person, but one group is told that the person is black, and the psychiatrists in that group will view the fictitious person as much more violent, suspicious and dangerous, even though the only difference in the available evidence is skin colour. Clearly, people of colour still experience dreadful prejudice and discrimination, but we should be able to discuss other instances of prejudice, discrimination, oppression and abuse without considering certain things to be 'off limits'. I know that anybody who said "all lives matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, was heavily criticised for seemingly undermining the central point: that black people suffer a grossly disproportionate amount of police brutality, incarceration and general mistreatment by the criminal justice system. I don't write in reply to movements which seek to reduce rape, sexual assault, discrimination, racism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, hate crime, oppression, exploitation and all the other awful things that are going on in the world; I write in addition. Holding and expressing my opinion does not diminish, discredit or undermine anybody else's struggle.

I'm on extremely dodgy ground.

I feel vastly outnumbered. I can't count myself amongst the angry white working-class disadvantaged men who swill lager and spout racial hatred with a St. George's flag draped around their chubby shoulders. I can't count myself amongst the highly-educated metropolitan liberal middle-class elites, although this is the group I most closely identify with. I can't count myself amongst the homeless addicts and alcoholics, although this is the group I'm most socioeconomically closely related to, surprisingly. I've tried my very hardest to be gay but I'm clearly not able to join the LGBTQQIP2SAA club, despite my best efforts. I know that there are men like me - at least in terms of gender, sexual preference, skin colour, education and wealth - who have successfully infiltrated feminism and groups of Social Justice Warriors. Perhaps I could ally myself with a group of outraged individuals and add my angry and aggressive voice to the unified noise that they create. I would certainly like to feel that I safely belong to a group, rather than being an outlier who holds very untrendy opinions which could even be mistaken as similar to those held by horrible gangs of knuckle-dragging thugs.

Am I a racist, bigot, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic fully paid-up member of the patriarchy, responsible for the oppression of all the very many minority identity groups who'd gladly queue up for an opportunity to abuse me? I certainly lose a lot of sleep at night worrying that I've unwittingly wandered into the less extreme fringe territory of the groups that I detest: the right-wingers.

I'm somebody who's had a lefty liberal multicultural upbringing, and who has been open minded to the point of being almost a terrorist apologist, so desperate am I to distance myself from the Islamophobia sweeping the UK and US. I'm somebody who's always aspired towards equality in the workplace and at home, and has lived and worked in environments more diverse than any other place on the planet: 110 languages are spoken in London, which is twice as many as the next most multicultural city. Is it possible that I'm actually the enemy? Is it possible that I don't know myself at all, and I'm actually chomping at the bit to get swastikas tattooed all over my body and then go tell some women to get back in the kitchen, before kicking a transexual to death?

What has happened in the world where I feel like I've done something wrong and I'd better keep quiet for fear of causing offence and becoming a target for abuse? Why do I feel like I'm speaking the unspeakable? Why do I feel like I'm uttering heresies which no member of the lefty liberal metropolitan elite should ever utter? Why do I feel like I'm risking further isolation, loneliness, exclusion and being viewed as the enemy by people who I like and respect?

I wonder what my right-thinking right-on friends would say if they read this. I fear that they think I've been driven into the arms of the Brietbart brigade and I've become a nasty horrible right-wing scumbag. Is that possible? Have I missed something? Am I sleepwalking into enemy territory?




I'm Sick of Moving

9 min read

This is a story about putting down roots...

Cardboard boxes

It looks like the smartest short-term decision for me right now is to go back to London. Third time lucky, maybe.

London was amazing the first time, so I guess third time lucky is not really accurate.

London was pretty amazing when I went back, but my damn acrimonious divorce and evil ex-wife conspired to disrupt and destroy my chances of re-establishing myself back in the capital. I'd reconnected with lots of old friends, incorporated a company and had started doing business. The last thing I needed was the distraction of the divorce, so I went and sold my house to a cash buyer - I had the sale organised within a few hours, and should have completed with cash in the bank in about 6 weeks.... except my evil ex-wife sabotaged the whole thing and put it back on the market with the worst estate agent she could find, and accepted an offer - for the same amount as I'd already agreed with the cash buyer - from some clueless idiots who were part of some horrible chain.

Said same evil ex-wife then tried to screw me over with the division of the house sale proceeds, which was a more than fair and reasonable 50:50 split. The contracts had been exchanged and the deposit had been paid. I was quite happy to have us both get sued if she wanted to drag things on any longer... she'd already delayed everything by 3 or 4 months. My final signature was needed for completion and if I didn't give it, we'd have breached our contract. So, I didn't give it until I had it in writing that she'd take her 50% and let me get the hell on with my life. She's an idiot, because I'd have gladly paid more if she'd just let me get on with rebuilding my life in London.

So, that changed the complexion of my second jaunt back to the capital completely. Gone was the momentum of my new business. Gone was my new girlfriend. Gone was a holiday I'd been planning on treating myself to. Gone was every bit of optimism and energy, wasted on worrying about cashflow and legal wranglings with one of the most thoroughly unpleasant individuals I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with.

I never quite caught up. You need a lot of money behind you if you're going to get ahead in London. If you haven't got the working capital - the comfortable financial cushion - you'll never be able to handle the challenges of the city AND fret about money.

Out of pride and stubbornness, I tried and failed and tried and failed again. I kept almost but not quite reaching the point where I was financially comfortable, only for the stress and effort of it all to finally scupper me, plus some bad luck too. I lost a contract simply because I refused to kiss the arse of one guy who thought he was indispensable. They terminated my contract, and then the guy who did it got the sack for getting rid of me. Another time, I was just too exhausted from living in a hostel while working on one of the most demanding projects - and indeed important projects - I've ever worked on in my life. I got myself out of the hostel and into my own apartment, but the stress and exhaustion of it made me very unwell. I tried to get myself sacked while I was on holiday in San Francisco, so I could stay for longer, but they didn't take the bait - I got sacked as soon as I walked back into the office, which I knew I would.

I took a shitty contract in a shitty part of Greater London. That was awful, but I did it out of necessity.

Finally, I got a great contract, great team, great project, great company... then my kidneys failed and I was on emergency dialysis on a high dependency ward for weeks. DVT in my leg. Nerve damage. Unbelievable pain.

That was me done for. Broke. Game over. I was lucky to escape bankruptcy.

Now, I've had a little taste of small town provincial life, and it's OK. I liked it when I could drive to work and walk to my girlfriend's house. I liked it when my income was 20 times as much as my rent, and I was living like a king... or at least I'd have been able to if the gravy train had continued to run on it's scheduled timetable.

There's no opportunities here. It's a small place. I was lucky to have a few months when I had it all, but I always knew that when it came to an end, there wouldn't be anything else here for me that's comparable.

No girlfriend. No job.

Gone off the place a bit.

I had a look at what London has to offer and I'll be increasing my already obscene income by 50% if I go back there. Make hay while the sun shines. Get rich quick, or die trying. The number of jobs I'd be a perfect match for was quite staggering... so reassuring to know that I've got the right skills that still command such high remuneration.

There's nothing round here. At least, nothing for somebody who's trying to get ahead. I'm sick of being behind. I'm sick of playing catch-up.

If I go back to London and keep this Welsh seaside town as my primary residence, I can live on expenses - my rent, meals, travel... all that will be reducing my tax bill as well as giving me a lovely lifestyle. No more shitty AirBnBs and pot noodles. I can have my own little central London apartment and eat takeaway every night. I can take black cabs everywhere and even reclaim the expenses of having my suits dry cleaned, shirts laundered and shoes shone. What the hell am I doing, having to cook, clean and do laundry, in this sleepy seaside town where I don't know anybody except for my ex-girlfriend and some of her friends, who all hate me.

I can go on Tinder and there will be gazillions of drop-dead gorgeous highly educated well travelled professional career women, who are pretty up-front about what they want. Tinder in this Welsh seaside town has 15 identical looking Snapchat filter photos of women who look like they've put make up on with a trowel and can't string a sentence together, and then that's it - you've swiped them all left, and there's no more to swipe.

I shouldn't do the place down, because it makes sense if you've got your wife & kids sorted and mortgage paid off, plus a big fat wedge of cash in the bank, but it makes no sense at all for me to be here, single and still struggling to get back to a position of financial security.

So, at some point I'm going to push the button and the calls will come flooding in and the contract negotiations will start, and before I know it I'll be on the train back to London, except I'm not slumming it this time.

When I sign on the dotted line for my third attempt at making things work in London, I'll be going to live in a serviced apartment, and I'll be living there for the duration of the contract. I've got my little seaside retreat - my second home - where I can leave most of my stuff, but I'll also have a permanent base in the capital, where I can leave my suits and shirts and smart shoes and everything else I need midweek.

If I hesitate, I'll just burn through all the cash I've managed to tuck away during the last 6 months of nonstop hard work. If I hesitate, I'll lose all the ground I've gained. If I hesitate, I'll lose momentum. If I hesitate, self-doubt will creep in and I'll dither and dawdle.

I might be sick of moving, but as long as I'm able to keep on sending my invoices every month, and every month my net worth moves rapidly from the negative to the positive, there's a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I might be sick of proving myself over and over and over again, and having the stress of yet more reference checks, security vetting, credit checks and criminal records checks, but in London if one contract doesn't work out, there are literally hundreds of others. If one relationship doesn't work out, the London is literally jam-packed with mind-blowingly beautiful intelligent women who have dedicated themselves to their careers, and are making themselves known to be single via the Tinder app.

I have friends in London. I know my way around. There's a drinking/socialising culture, instead of the "going home to the wife and kids" culture of the provinces. What am I doing here in this place where I suddenly feel so out of place?

In the blink of an eye, I'll be available again - back on the market.

In 2 or 3 weeks, I'll be meeting my new team and learning about my new project; my next opportunity.

It's actually quite exciting. It's a fresh start in a place I already know and love. It's another opportunity to stick two fingers up at my ex-wife for ruining my chance to have a clean break and rebuild my life back in London. It's another roll of the dice - maybe I'll be lucky this time and I'll prove I can make it work. I've certainly tipped the odds massively in my favour.

I'm sick at the moment, of course. My mania must be plain as day to anybody who has any dealings with me. My colleagues kindly and patiently indulge my endless stream of ideas and words, delivered so fast they can't keep up, but it's good timing: things are late and everybody's stressed. To the uneducated eye, it just looks like I care a lot about the end of the project, as opposed to being in a fully-blown manic episode in the middle of an office full of mild-mannered civil servants, who normally move at glacial speed, as is the way of the public sector.

I'm sick, but I haven't pissed anybody off or burnt any bridges yet. I'm sick, but I do remember to shut up and try to act normal once in a while. I'm sick, but I obviously made enough of a good impression that I'm being given the benefit of the doubt.

I'm sick and I'm sick of moving, but move I must. I must move and I must maintain momentum.




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.




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.




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.




Body Parts

6 min read

This is a story about unsolicited pics...


I'm kind of an asexual being, which is unusual for somebody with bipolar disorder. Of course, I have my moments of madness, where I'm convinced that I'm irresistible to the opposite sex, but it's life experiences that have inflated my ego. With a seemingly unending stream of positive examples that I can draw upon, there is no pin to prick my ballooning self-confidence and self-assured manner. Similar to irritating arrogant idiotic cocaine-snorting men - puffed up with grandiose notions of my own importance - I exude something that draws susceptible creatures in, like attracting moths to a flame.

It is with some guilt and worry that I search my conscience to see if I have become a sociopathic narcissistic conman, out to take advantage of anybody who's ensnared in a web of self-delusion that I have not acknowledged until now. Perhaps, I have lied to myself so successfully, that I believe my own bullshit. I've adopted a strategy of unrelenting introspection and examination of the morality of my behaviour, accompanied by complete heart-on-sleeve emotional openness and vulnerability. However, I must admit that making myself vulnerable appears to have the opposite effect to that which the most masculine of men would imagine - that of bringing out protective instincts and something feminine in women who no longer need protecting from wolves and sabre-tooth tigers... not that I ever believed in such patriarchal fables anyway.

Am I a feminist? Absolutely no way. I prefer boobs that have spent their life supported by a brasier, so that their youthful protestations against the force of gravity have been assisted. I like long hair, not short; I like skirts, not trousers & dungarees; I like giggles & heart-melting eyelash batting, not being told I'm guilty for all the sins of those who share a Y chromosome.

Every female friend of mine reports the phenomenon of receiving - via the medium of electronic communication channels - pictures of the erect male member from somebody with whom they have engaged in the preliminary stages of the courtship ritual. Not a single woman I can name has found this either desirable or sexually arousing, but yet the practice seems to continue unabated. Perhaps these men would have better luck on Grindr, with those of their own gender.

I'm a passive observer. It's as if by having my sexuality neutered by stress and chemicals, I'm able to see the bizarre nature of human behaviour in the same way that you would impassively and objectively view a BBC television documentary about the mating of birds or bees.

When I was younger, I couldn't imagine being in the navy or on some kind of seagoing vessel, oil rig or working another kind of job where I would be away from the steady supply of sex, on demand. It was unthinkable to me that hundreds of men might be confined inside a metal hull, surrounded by seawater and lashed by the waves - for weeks or even months at a time - without the comfort of kissing, spooning and the joy of pure unadulterated fucking.

Even today, as my virility declines, I am still insistent on proximate co-location with any prospective sweetheart, despite the fact I'm lonely and single.

It's probably true that free high-quality pornography, streamed over the Internet for instant gratification of any sexual peccadillo that takes one's fancy, has contributed to a world where every male fantasy is fulfilled - rule 34, which states that porn exists for everything you could possibly imagine, and more that you can never un-see.

What a world we currently live in, where sex tourism is openly discussed without shame, despite it being a form of slavery. Craigslist advertises rooms that are available to young women 'rent free' - the payment being made in kind, not in cash. Webcams and stripping become irresistibly attractive income sources for female students looking to fund their education.

We have become culturally indoctrinated by a myopic and ill-educated worship of money - fiat currency - where we obsess over salaries, bank balances, the cash in our pockets and the value of our homes and other assets. We worry about pension funds and funding our kids through college/university. Yet, we are not smart enough to perceive our own obsession over the ridiculously abstract concept as exchanging pieces of paper with numbers written on them, all day long. The entire globe has been perverted by 'wealth' into a place where girls and women are preyed upon by lecherous disgusting old men. I hope you're happy, with the 'value' of your stock portfolio, while your daughter parades herself in front of an unthinkable number of horny tossers, masturbating furiously... your obsession with 'money' made this happen.

Who am I to talk about such things, when I've been so close to ground zero? There's an easy answer to that - I'm the guy who's well read in economics as well as having first-hand experience of every aspect of banking... I know what money actually is. There really is a magic money tree - the stuff just gets invented out of nothingness.

I have no right to talk about moral bankruptcy when I'm a white male, living in the developed world and after enjoying a life that so many people dream of having - it's a terrible hypocrisy. I glamourise and glorify things that are truly atrocious, don't I?

Perhaps I will be vilified after my death, like those who profited from the more conspicuous forms of slavery and human trafficking of the past. My only defence is that I did not choose the time or place of my birth, nor my parents or my gender - this defence is fairly watertight until when, exactly? At what point do we become culpable for our part in some global conspiracy to enslave the vast majority of humanity? At what stage in life do we accept responsibility for our conscience, our decisions and our moral compass?

This is why I write: when I am dead you will have a corpse, but you will not have the contents of my mind. I'm uploading myself into the cloud, so that you may judge both my inner and my outer self.

You could be the world's expert on human anatomy, but the fatty tissues of my brain would be virtually indistinguishable between my cadaver and any other.

These corporeal vessels which we temporarily inhabit tell us nothing about our minds and our personalities, although I cannot deny that I sometimes receive a sexual thrill when I see a woman's nipple.

"Send nudes" is the precursor to 'Netflix and chill', so I'm told.




I'm Her Bit of Rough

5 min read

This is a story about fragile male egos...


Insecurity. Wrenching away my self-confidence, my self-esteem, my sense of value. Insecurity is degrading and causes me to say things through fear and pain, further undermining my decaying self respect. Those sensitive subjects; the nerves; the over-reaction. What am I even arguing about? I can't admit it, because it's too shameful and it leaves me even more exposed. I feel so vulnerable. I can't tell anybody what my weaknesses are.


She never said it, but she could. It's not normal to like sex. I'm a freak; a weirdo. I'm a dirty old man for wanting sex. I'm too much of an easy target. It's too much fun, to knock somebody back when they're vulnerable. What power! What fun!

I haven't worked since September and I'm rapidly running out of runway. I feel pretty useless. I can't risk spending money on holidays and eating out. I don't feel like a provider. I don't feel very manly.

Without work or hobbies, I don't have any projects to feel proud of. I have this blog, but it's easily dismissed as a ranty diary, with no real substance behind anything I write. Anybody can voice their unqualified opinions on the Internet, can't they? Just another ignorant stupid voice. Nobody cares what I've got to say, because I'm not speaking in a professional or academic capacity.

The antidote to the fear that my chequered history might be discovered, is to write candidly about it. However, I'm no more than a couple of months away from being bankrupt and evicted onto the streets. I'm no more than a few clicks of the mouse away from relapsing into drug addiction. I'm months - if not years - away from financial security, luxury holidays, fine dining and the rest of the trimmings of wealthy urban lifestyle.

It's been so long since I had all the pieces of the puzzle: the job where I'm an expert, the income that exceeds my expenditure, the savings that give me a safety net, the comfortable and secure place to live, the friends who give me a social life, the hobby that I'm good at, and the girl to share the good times with. Who wants to share in my misery, depression and the unravelling of my life?

Every insecurity - am I fat, ugly, stupid, worthless? - becomes amplified the longer I languish in obscurity. I'm a hermit, writing in my bedroom and pushing my words out into the ether. Who even knows that I exist? Who am I? Why was I even born?

My entire existence is fixated on financial income. Without money, I'm nobody. Every failed interview is a disaster and depression threatens to consume me. I drink copiously to cope with the stress and anxiety, but it's a flawed solution. I know I could take a low-paid job that I could do with my eyes closed, but it would pain me to be so undervalued; under-appreciated; unchallenged.

On Saturday night we meet some people; I'm drunk. Making polite conversation, I'm asked what I do. Nervously, I say that I'm an IT consultant, but it feels like a lie. I work for less than half the year and it makes me unwell; I hate it. My debut novel is mentioned and a dam is broken; I'm gushing forth with rabid enthusiasm about my writing. I can sense that my eyes are wide open and there's an intensity to the way that I'm speaking. My speech is almost pressured; rushed. Then, I think that I've become horribly egocentric. I regret talking expansively about myself, in response to polite middle-class smalltalk. I'm embarrassed about how narcissistic I am.

She tries to reassure me, but I struggle to believe what she says. She's a famous bird off the telly and she even passed her O-levels without cheating or nuffink, so what does she see in me? Surely she's dumbing herself down, so that I don't feel as intimidated?

Gender roles are reversed. She takes me out for dinner. She says she'll protect me. I could easily become her cheerleader; idolise her; put her on a pedestal.

I dig into my archives, looking for things that I'm proud of. The problem is that most of it was years ago. What am I doing at the moment that I'm proud of? I haven't yet managed to find a publisher for my novel, let alone a new IT contract. What opportunity do I have to strut my stuff?

A game of Monopoly: now's my chance to demonstrate my entrepreneurial business talents!

But, there's too much pressure on this rare opportunity and it's a game of chance. Luck doesn't go my way and I'm losing, despite playing a winning strategy. The board gets flipped over and the pieces go everywhere. What a bad loser!

What can I do? I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't.





5 min read

This is a story about compatibility...

Bath salts

Very often, when you're acutely aware that there's something that you need to avoid crashing into, you'll end up staring at it, unable to tear your eyes away. When riding a board or a bike, flying, driving or otherwise in motion, you tend to go in the direction you're looking. If you want to avoid a crash, you should look at a spot away from danger.

Is this the reason why we don't talk about taboo subjects, because we're worried about tempting fate? We turn our back on the ugly truth and try to pretend like everything's OK.

My Christmas stocking included some bath salts.

White lines

Clearly, Santa has the same dark sense of humour as me. That's great. I think humour is a fantastic way to exorcise the demons of the past. First comes talking, then understanding and finally you can laugh and joke about a topic that was originally quite painful and difficult to remember. Repressing memories and walking on eggshells is no way to move forward.

If we don't have honest conversations where we can talk about how we really think and feel, then we build up a load of sensitive topics. Secrets and lies lead to paranoia and weak relationships. Keeping schtum about my parents' drug use - when I was a child - was too much of a burden. Writing openly has been liberating and has allowed me to move on from shame and regret, to regain my self-esteem and confidence.

I remember a desperate scramble to cover up my admission to The Priory. My psychiatrist had made a referral to a "private hospital" for treatment of an acute episode of bipolar disorder. All perfectly true, but there was a certain economic use of the truth. What would most people think, if they found out that I was spending weeks in the UK's most notorious treatment specialist for drug & alcohol abuse? They would leap to the wrong conclusions, surely?

It's so bloody exhausting keeping up appearances. One must be aware of how things can be [mis]interpreted and people aren't likely to share their true thoughts and feelings: "better keep him away from the kids if he's mentally ill" or "I bet he's a raging alcoholic behind closed doors if he's been in The Priory".

We're brought up to believe that our reputation is like a balloon: one little prick and it goes pop. We're scared to take time off work, because we'll have gaps on our CV that need to be explained. We're scared to share details of our private lives, lest our employers decide we're unreliable and judge us on preconceived notions. Who wants to work with a madman?

When it comes to dating, the same applies. Who wants to date somebody with flaws; defects? Who wants to take a risk on a ticking time bomb; an unsteady ship? And so, I should have found myself unemployable and undateable. "Take your pills, sit in the corner and shut up" says society.

However, if you ever meet me in a work or social context, you may gain the [false?] impression that I'm pleasant company: a healthy, happy and capable member of society, engaged in productive endeavours. Strangely, you might have the wool pulled over your eyes so much that you actually mistake me for a normal human being.

Surely this is thanks to the excellent medication that I take?

Well, no. I don't take any medication. I don't do therapy. I haven't had a course of electro-convulsive shock treatment. I don't even have a psychiatrist at the moment.

"But you're going to murder everybody if you don't take your pills."

Yes, that's right. I'm your worst nightmare. I'm out there, on the dating scene, luring unsuspecting vulnerable young women into my web. I'm a dangerous fantasist; a con-man. I'm so good at living a lie that I've constructed an elaborate fable that looks, smells, tastes and sounds very much like an authentic real life, but it's all fake. It can't be real. What about the secrets we now know?

If you take your secrets and turn them into jokes, you defuse that ticking time bomb... or at least that's my working hypothesis.

I certainly feel a lot happier knowing that I've met somebody with enough of a good sense of humour to make a joke on Christmas Day about my chequered past. I feel less sensitive, paranoid and insecure than ever before. I feel like I'm myself, and that's OK.

Maybe it's just a getting old thing: the realisation that we're all flawed in some way. We're all human. We all have weaknesses and strengths, and we all have history; baggage even. It seems better to wear my heart on my sleeve than present myself as some whiter than white, holier than thou saint who never put a foot wrong in their life.

I doubt I'll ever unify my professional and private identities, but I certainly don't regret jettisoning the traditional approach to dating. Honesty seems to have been the best policy in this case.




The Mum's Network

9 min read

This is a story about being in touch with your feminine side...

Me with butterflies

When I was a pre-pubescent boy, I read a book by Judy Blume about girls getting their period and having their first kiss with a boy. Before you boil over into a fit of inexplicable anger (as women are prone to do because they're completely ruled by their emotions) I'm not actually saying I know what it's like to menstruate, have boobs and to carry a baby inside me for 9 months and deliver it into the world through my vagina.

My education and upbringing was pretty heavy on the whole sex-ed thing. My sister was born when I was 10 years old, and so I clearly remember her birth and my Mum's pregnancy. My teacher at school was pregnant when we were being shown childbirth videos, and the schools in Oxford are actually pretty progressive. We were taught about the reproductive cycle in the first year that I went to middle school, when I was 9 years old.

Of course, I will never have the first-hand experience of having my cervix dilated by the large head of my child, to the point that it tears, and other painful sounding childbirth related stuff. I know that I would get yelled at with hormonal illogical female rage, if I was to suggest that other stuff that's happened to me has been painful. The muscle on the front of my calf was sliced in half, severing 4 tendons. The hospital in Oxford kept me for 3 days to re-stabilise my kidneys - no painkillers - and then sent me back home to London for the operation 2 days later. My whole journey on the train and across the capital was done without crutches or pain relief. My bandages were soaked with blood. I'm sure those 5 days where my calf had a muscle that was sliced in two down to the bone would give me no capacity to imagine having my vagina ripped to bits by a baby though.

I genuinely don't want to insult mothers. You're right, I'll never know what it's like to have a bad back from carrying round all that weight of a baby bulge for 9 months. I'll never know what it's like to have my internal organs being squished by the life growing inside me. I'll never know what it's like to be woken up by my unborn child kicking. I'll never know.

If you think I'm being flippant or sarcastic, I'm sorry, but I'm actually being genuine. I've often given consideration to the things I'll never know.

What man hasn't given consideration to how much fun they might have, if they got to swap bodies with a woman for the day. Of course, we'd like to play with our tits, but we're also fascinated to know what it feels like for a girl. There's a <blush> slightly kinky element. What does it feel like to be penetrated? Are multiple orgasms as good as they sound? Errr... did I just say that? Moving swiftly on.

Yeah, it's pretty shameful to admit this stuff, but I've made it my mission to vicariously experience what I can of the feminine. I don't think I'm one of those men who thinks that they're a woman who got born into a guy's body. I've just made it a goal in life to empathise. Empathise with everybody. Including the opposite sex.

When I was a teenager I read female erotic fiction. I tried to get into the mind of what women want. I tried to learn how to be a generous lover, so that I could please my girlfriends. I put a lot of effort into my 'research' and I have to say, I got a big kick out of it. However, I read an article recently where the author - a woman - was actually offended by how much of an ego boost guys get by knowing they've moved the Earth for their lover. Well, guess what? That's been added to the long list of considerations too.

So am I painting this picture of me as some sort of perfect guy? No. Don't be ridiculous. What I'm saying is that I'm an information gatherer, and I was born as a sensitive little soul who takes in a lot of what people say, how they feel and whatever I can divine from the media I have consumed. I guess I figured out from an early age that I wasn't going to learn everything I needed to know from pornographic magazines and videos.

It's laughable isn't it, to say that I empathise with women, mothers. and it's actually not true, I don't. I try to, but of course I fail on so many levels. You can't possibly know how much you don't know. Dunning-Kruger effect. Blah blah blah!

But, if you can have a tomboy, can you not also have a tamgirl?

I remember when a friend was talking about her hen do. I enthusiastically gushed "OMG! When is it?" without thinking that I would not actually be invited. I just kinda assumed that I would be. It was a strange situation, because she was a "one of the lads" kind of girl, and I'm a "comfortable with my sexuality" type of guy, so the gender exclusion of the event didn't even register with me.

So, why have I taken a wordplay of Mumsnet, turning it into something that's supposed to sound like The Social Network? Well, because I'm jealous. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

My same friend who I mentioned regarding the hen do was at one time (I'm not sure if she still is) an active contributor on the Mumsnet forum. I actually met her on a forum to do with kitesurfing, many years before. We were both active forum contributors. In fact, I think we competed for the top spot, quite often.

Another friend, a wonderful geek girl whom I very much enjoy the pleasure of the company of, is also another active Mom social networker, who I think also frequents the pages of Mumsnet.

The blogosphere is heavily colonised by mommybloggers, looking for some kind of activity to connect with the world in a way that fits with the demands of family life. Family members eagerly devour every last detail of life of the youngest members of the clan, and will scour the pages of every social media source in order to gather any updates and juicy pictures of the cute little kids as they grow up. Blogging about your family life is a natural extension of that.

However, I imagine that having kids can be a fairly bleak and isolating existence at times. Just as being single can leave you left out from all those couples events - who's going to invite sad Dave to dinner on his own? That'd be weird! - so the stressed out mom who's had to spend all day with fractious children is going to be overlooked by friends who don't want their peaceful child-free existence shattered by the arrival of mountains of childrearing equipment and tantrum-prone toddlers disturbing the peace.

Yes, unless you have a good baby circle of other moms who have kids of a similar age, it's kinda hard for anybody to relate to the particular struggles that you're immediately facing, whether that be teething and nappy rash, or the defiant "NO!" phase as the loveable darlings assert their own personalities. Which of your friends understands that they need to remove all the sharp, swallowable and fragile ornaments from the low surfaces? That bowl of potpourri looks terribly decorative on the coffee table, but to a parent of a young child, that's just a choking hazard. The worlds are going to collide.

And so, sleep-deprived moms get isolated, as social lepers because they're no longer footloose and fancy free. Not only must the children travel with mom, but also the changing mat, clean nappies, wet wipes, sterilising equipment, bibs, blankets, toys, teething rings, potties, spare clothes, medicines, high chairs, carrycots, pushchairs and every other bit of parenting paraphernalia to keep the tiny tots clean, comfortable, fed and watered, in the hope that they'll smile and giggle, not cry.

I have no idea if an Internet forum can provide some of the camaraderie that is necessary to make things seem a little less desperate, when Junior just won't go to sleep and he's driving you nuts with that noisy toy that grandma bought for him. I have no idea if getting together online, as moms who've been through it all too - they know all the shit that you're going through - in some way makes getting through the day a little easier.

I know that I miss my time being a top contributor on a forum. I know that I miss those familiar nicknames. I know that I miss the purpose and routine that it gave my life, trying to read absolutely everything, and make comments in the most active threads. I miss those virtual friends, who actually turned out not to be virtual at all. Some of the best friends I have, I made through forums. Some of the best experiences of my life, were when a bunch of us nerdy Internet dwellers met up, in the evening for drinks, for weekend trips away, or for adventures around the world.

The gender-blind part of me thinks that I should sign up for Mumsnet and join in the discussion and debate, but something tells me that might not go down too well.

There is a considerable hole in my life, without an online community to belong to.