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I'm a writer. I write about life with bipolar disorder - also known as manic depression - so my eponymous alter ego is MaNic Grant.

I've written more than 1 million words: it's the world's longest suicide note.

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nick@manicgrant.com

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I'm Not a Rape Apologist But...

11 min read

This is a story about the violent rape of strangers by sexual predators in a public place...

Deeds not words

I was writing a comment in response to something that a friend shared about a convicted rapist in New Zealand, and I wrote the words "I'm not a rape apologist but...". That was a red flag. That set alarm bells ringing in my head. I decided that I must write about the violent rape of women by men, who drag their victims into alleyways or bushes, silence the victim's screams for help and overwhelm the victim's physical resistance, using the male rapist's superior strength. I decided I must write about those violent rapists who proceed to penetrate their victims with their penises, despite the protestations, struggles to fight off their attackers, attempts to escape and/or scream for help, by the women whose bodies are violated, physically injured and are whose minds are left psychologically scarred for life - traumatised by these horrendous rapes - perpetrated by complete strangers in public places.

Oh yeah. Also, trigger warning.

My response to the article was motivated because my interpretation of the article being shared was not "the victim was hardly mentioned". My actual interpretation of the article was that "rape culture is so ubiquitous and normalised that average men are sexual predators", which is barely a short step away from saying "all men are rapists".

I've decided to write about a few personal incidents, which might shed some light on what it's like being an average man. Or rather, what it's like being me at least - somebody who's been married, owned a house, has had a great career and has never been known by any of his friends, acquaintances, girlfriends, exes or co-workers as "a bit of a creep" or even "a lecherous sexual predator" unlike all the very many the celebrities we read about, accused of sexual harassment, indecent assault and rape.

If you're me - a man - then you're also part of "rape culture" whether you want to be or not. I'm not exactly sure what "rape culture" is, but I am aware that some UK university students were recently banned from Warwick University for 10 years for discussing rape in a private chat group. That ban was later reduced to 1 year. I presume this is an example of "rape culture" but I'm unsure.

What I am sure about are my own experiences, so I've decided to write about a few of them.

One time...

I travelled from my home city to another city for a date. The journey took roughly 1 hour. The date commenced at lunchtime, and we were drinking until about half-past midnight. She said I could stay overnight at her house. When we got to her house, we kissed on the sofa and then she said I could sleep in her bed. We were tired and drunk. She was wearing her underwear. We kissed some more. We fell asleep. In the morning, I told her that I wasn't sure if she wanted to have sex with me or not - I was getting unclear signals - so she grabbed my hand, stuffed it into her knickers and pressed my fingers against her wet vulva. We did not have sex. Consent was not given.

Another time...

A girl had invited me to her house for a date, but it was 1 hour 15 minutes drive away. I said that I would see her later in the week, after work, because my office was just 10 minutes from her house. She said that she would immediately drive to see me, and then drive home a few hours later: A round-trip of 2.5 hours for a very short date. When she arrived, she asked "you're not a sexual predator, are you?". She then proceeded to kiss me and suggested that we move to the bedroom, because the sofa was uncomfortable. She took off all her clothes and got into my bed. We kissed passionately and she said "make love to me" which was perhaps not consent, given that I had only known her in person for about 30 minutes, and I was not [yet] in love with her. We had sex anyway. She made some other 2.5 hour round-trips presumably for the purpose of having sex with me, although consent always seemed implied, by her leaping into my bed naked and her grabbing my cock when I joined her, also naked.

Another time...

I had been on a date to the Science Museum in London with a very attractive girl, but I didn't feel much of a spark between us. She asked us what we should do next and I said we should go to her apartment and have sex. She made some protestations that my suggestion was impolite and that we definitely were not going to have sex. However we proceeded to immediately travel her apartment - led by her because I had no idea where she lived - and then we had sex. I cannot recall her ever giving consent, but I can specifically remember her saying that we would not have sex, when I first suggested it at the Science Museum. We dated for a period of some months and I fell in love with her.

Another time...

I had been on a date with a girl. She kissed me and told me she found me very attractive. She asked what I wanted to do next, and I said I wanted to go back to her house and meet her cats. She agreed, but stipulated that we would not have sex. We undressed and she gave me fellatio, despite me telling her that it's a sex act I do not enjoy. I did not - cannot - orgasm by fellatio. Then, she searched her drawers for a condom, which had passed its expiry date. Consent was never explicitly given, but she did say at one point "I think you should put the condom on". We attempted to have sex, twice, but failed to achieve penetration. We dated for several months and I fell in love with her.

Another time...

I had been on a date with two girls, one of whom was visiting from Canada. I went back to the girl from London's apartment with both girls. In the taxi I mentioned that I do not like fellatio and I cannot orgasm from fellatio. They laughed at me and said I was a fibber. Later, when leaving, the girl from London suddenly pulled my trousers down and proceeded to attempt to give me a blowjob in the lobby of her apartment block, in full public view. People in passing double-decker busses could see me receiving a blowjob, which I didn't want. On a second date with the girl from London, we went back to her apartment and she told me that she wanted to have sex without a condom, which I did not consent to. She then attempted to give me blowjob again, for what felt like an eternity, despite my protestations that she'd never be able to make me climax from oral sex. Eventually she gave up. Interestingly, her job involved the medical examination of the victims of rape cases. We went on one more date, but the relationship was not successful. We never had penetrative sex.

Another time...

In the eyes of the law I was the victim of a statutory rape. I was 15 and she was 21.

Another time...

In the eyes of the law I was the victim of a statutory rape. I was 17 and he was 30. He was also my boss.

Another time...

I had been on a second date with a girl. Either I invited her into my apartment or she was so engrossed in conversation with me that she followed me willingly into my apartment - our memories are a little different on the matter. We kissed on the sofa and she said "can we do this somewhere more comfy?". I led her to my bedroom. She asked me if I had any condoms. We had sex. I do not remember consent being given. Afterwards, she told me that she had not intended on entering my apartment, entering my bedroom, or having sex with me. I got engaged to her 1 year later. I got married to her 8 years later. In all those years, I do not remember consent ever being explicitly given. Once, when I was in hospital and we had sex during a visit, she said "you don't need to do that" when I began foreplay, which I interpreted as meaning "put your penis inside me immediately" but I cannot be certain that's what she meant, however, she seemed to enjoy our hospital sex and I believe she climaxed. However, her version of events may differ from my own.

Another time...

The girl who was making multiple 2.5 hour round-trips to have sex with me, with assumed consent, later wrote to me to say that she regretted having sex with me. Given that consent was never explicitly given, does that mean I raped her?

There are probably other examples. Perhaps a helpful guide could be prepared that can womansplain to all the many would-be rapist men what is not rape because it's all rather ambiguous and quite scary. It's quite terrifying, not knowing whether your sexual advances are wanted and welcomed, or whether you're a fully paid-up subscribing lifelong member of "rape culture" and a would-be-rapist, given half a chance.

Mercifully, I seem to get signals which are positive enough for me to proceed with caution, but these signals are most definitely ambiguous. I have never had a woman say "put your penis into my vagina now" to me. I have never had a woman say "I consent to my vagina being penetrated by your penis" or other such clear and unambiguous words. I have been asked "would you like to have sex?" or "can we have sex?" and even been told "I want to have sex" on plenty of occasions, but there was always ambiguity. "I want to have sex" does not say with whom, nor contain any detail about what the sex act will consist of.

This whole piece is not about blaming rape victims for not being clear that their consent is not given. This whole piece makes no apology for rapists.

This piece is intended to tell the story of how - in my experience - consent is always a guessing game. I have even had the misfortune of being told that some sex acts that took place were regretted. I know that consent was only ever implied. Arguably, taking a 2.5 hour round-trip, jumping into my bed naked, grabbing my cock, pulling me on top: Those things all seem pretty 'consenty' but there are a worrying amount of times where I've had sex, and I've never heard the words "you have my consent to put your penis into my vagina now". In fact, almost every time I have sex I have to guess whether consent is given or not and very often there were contradictory statements made at other times, giving plausible deniability.

One last time...

I was spooning a girlfriend and we fell asleep. We woke up and she informed me that the tip of my erect penis was inside her vagina. I asked her "is that OK?" and she confirmed that it was. We then proceeded to have sex. If it had not been OK with her, what would your verdict be, assuming I then immediately pulled the tip of my penis out of her vagina? Did I rape her?

These are questions we need to answer, if we're going to get away from accusations that "all men are rapists" and talk of "rape culture" which is unhelpful in a culture which still predominantly expects men to make the first move, and where women almost never give clear and unambiguous verbal (or written) consent for penetrative vaginal sex, in my experience.

In closing, I must make it clear that I'm not a rape apologist, and I sympathise with the victims of rape, who have suffered horrendous traumatic experiences. I apologise to anybody who's been a victim of rape, sexual assault and/or sexual harassment, who might find what I've written triggering and upsetting to read.

 

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My Sex Problem - Part Two

7 min read

This is a story about overcompensation...

Weymouth harbour yacht

I wrote yesterday about having a sex problem. Not a sex addiction, or anything kinky, but that I have too much sex because my fragile self-esteem depends upon it. I use sex as a form of reassurance, that I've banished my unhappy adolescent and late teen years, as well as my early twenties, safely into the past. I use sex as a form of proof that those bad times are never going to come back to bite me. I can never go back to those unhappy times.

There's something I need to talk about.

There's something I need to mention.

I'm not a fool.

I'm not so stupid and gullible that I believe every boast and every lie that was told, at school and at college, about how much sex everyone was getting. I'm not swayed by the common misconception that everybody else was at it [fucking] like rabbits. I'm not convinced by the gossip and the bragging and the boasts of sexual conquests, which circulated widely in the pressure-cooker of the school and college environment.

What I know are the facts.

I only care about the facts.

I don't really give a shit how much sex, how many blowjobs and how many hand-jobs were being had by my peer group. I don't really care how many sexual acts were actually carried out. These are facts that I'll never truly know.

What I DO know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that the vast majority of people's adolescent schooldays included having boyfriends/girlfriends, and all the associated relationship learning and development that's associated with that. The vast majority had crushes, thought they'd fallen in love, sent love notes, asked each other out, declared themselves to be couples, were known to be couples, called each other boyfriend and girlfriend, and had at least kisses and cuddles... intimacy and a relationship status.

What I DO know for a fact is that the vast majority of my peers learned about jealousy, cheating, breakups, reconciliations, relationship arguments and all the other things which turned them all into well-rounded average people: One giant homogenous mass of people who've all had a more-or-less identical experience of teenage love.

What I DO know for a fact is that my parents blocked my opportunity to go to university, where I might then have had the opportunity to start playing catch up. At school, there were too many thick-skulled knuckle-draggers, but at university I would have been amongst my own kind: The academic high-achievers; the bookworms; the geeks and the ones who were bullied outcasts, because our brains were highly developed, but something about us painted a target on our backs, making our lives a living hell, when mixed in with a vast number of no-hopers, with no aspirations.

School was simply a holding pen, before prison for the guys, or pram-pushing for the girls. Those savages needed to be left behind, and university would have been my opportunity to heal some of the trauma, but my parents blocked and sabotaged my attempts to go, despite the ease with which I obtained generous offers from very highly regarded academic institutions.

I'm incredibly bitter that I was separated from my dear friends in Oxford - a hyper-intelligent bunch who have achieved great things - and I was dumped into a school in the middle of fucking nowhere, where the best career opportunity was some kind of unskilled minimum-wage seasonal employment. The place we moved to from Oxford was a backwater dead end, because my parents are selfish dead-end loser alcoholic junkies, who never gave a shit about the consequences they were inflicting on my life; the opportunities they were actively denying me.

The picture of me is of me aboard my yacht, age 21, with my girlfriend.

Yeah, that's right, I bought a yacht when I was 21 years old.

I worked for a bank in Canary Wharf, London, earning £470 a day. I was 21 years old and I was earning £2,350 a week, and I owned a yacht, and I had a girlfriend. I was earning over £10,000 a month and I had a red sports car, a yacht... and most importantly, I had a girlfriend.

Can you see how insecure I was?

Can you see how materialistic I was?

For Christmas presents I used to buy people Fortnum & Mason luxury hampers. I flew business class and stayed in 5-star hotels. I was 21 years old.

I was a massively insecure, damaged, insecure person. I overcompensated by spending vast amounts of money on status symbols and living a making vulgar demonstrations of my wealth, because I was still a bullied kid... I was still a lonely bullied kid. I was still the kid who didn't have those kisses behind the bike sheds at school. I was still the kid who didn't ever have a girlfriend at school. I never asked anyone out, got asked out, fell in love, cheated, broke up.... I never had any of that, unlike almost everybody else in the whole entire world.

I used my brain to get a good job. Then I used by brain to get a better job. Then I used my brain to get an even better job, until the point where I was earning six-figures annually and I got all the status symbols to pro-up my fragile self-esteem. I got a "penis extension" red sportscar. I got a yacht. I ate in fancy restaurants and went on luxury holidays. All of it was a massive "FUCK YOU" to those awful years when I felt so unlovable; so unwanted... so rejected.

I don't even care about the sex, but it's symbolic for me. I have sex when I'm not horny - not in the mood - because it's a test... I want to know I can always have it, because it proves that I'm sexually attractive. It proves that without the sportscar, the yacht, the luxury holidays and the other status symbols, that somebody loves me. I need proof beyond all reasonable doubt that I'm now a person who people want in their lives, as a lover, as a boyfriend... as a husband.

Becoming a homeless, bankrupt, alcoholic, drug addict with mental health problems was a bit of a problem, but do you know what happened? I had some great relationships. I was homeless and living in a 14-bed hotel dormitory when I got together with an extremely attractive Italian girl, and we had a passionate romance. I was sleeping rough in a park when a wealthy Parisian woman fell in love with me and took me back to her fancy home in Notting Hill and nursed me back to health, despite my chronic drug addiction and incredibly unstable mental health.

I present myself now as exactly what I am: a penniless, mentally ill, recovering alcoholic, recovering drug addict, who lives a very precarious existence. I'm never far away from becoming homeless again, or being consumed by drug or alcohol abuse. I have no wealth anymore. I have nothing to offer. I'm not a 'catch'.

Because I feel so insecure about being 39 years old and not owning a luxury home, full of expensive furniture, with a sportscar parked on the driveway and a speedboat moored in the marina, all I'm left with is some kind of physical proof that I'm loved: does somebody want to fuck me, even though I'm a loser. I'm not even young and hot anymore. My hair is going grey and I'm carrying a few extra pounds of weight. I feel like I'm every woman's idea of a worst nightmare date: No cash, no assets, no flash car, no house... nothing to show for my 39 years on this planet. Why would anybody fall in love with me?

Sex is the only thing that gives me any certainty at the moment. Sex is the only thing that props up my fragile self-esteem, because my life has fallen to pieces.

I don't care that I missed out on sex as a teenager. I care that I missed out on love.

 

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My Sex Problem

3 min read

This is a story about feeling deprived...

Pink light

I have a hangup about sex. My hangup is this: How do I know if I'm getting enough sex, unless I'm having more sex than I actually want?

The logic is actually fairly simple to explain. If I ever wanted sex and couldn't have it, then that would be proof that I'm not getting enough sex, right? Do you follow me? So, by making sure I always have more sex than I want, I guarantee that I'm not missing out. I guess it's a FOMO thing (Fear Of Missing Out).

Where my sex problem stems from is my adolescence, which was rather ruined by selfish and downright disgusting decisions made by my parents. My parents were fully aware that their wholly selfish decisions would have disastrous consequences on me and my life, but they just didn't give a fuck about me. They didn't have to suffer the consequences, so they didn't care.

Ultimately, I did not go through the learning and development phase that most adolescents do, where they start having boyfriends/girlfriends and figuring out how relationships work. I did not have the same experience as almost every teenager. My own teenaged years were quite ruined by my parents, and as such, I now have trauma: I have a hangup.

In order to know that I'm never again going to have to re-live those traumatic childhood years, I act in a way which is a reaction to the damage that was done to me.

Never again shall I feel so singled out, bullied, alone, isolated, shunned and a pariah. Never again shall I be the odd one out. Never again shall I be the one who misses out. Never again shall I be the only one who was deprived of large chunks of normal, healthy life, growing up.

Because of my hangup, I overcompensate.

My sex problem is not a kink. It's simply that I want more than I really want, just to reassure myself that I'm getting the maximum amount I can possibly get. I need to know I'm not going to feel as bad as I did, back in those dreadful years which traumatised me.

It's fairly simple really, and I suppose I could think my way around the problem. I suppose I could 'cure' myself of my trauma, now that I've identified the source of it. However, when I feel vulnerable and afraid, the damage is still there, and my compensatory behaviour is always the same.

I'm proud I outgrew my identity as the bullied outcast; the undesirable kid that nobody wanted to be anywhere near, lest they find themselves subject to the bullying too.

Of course, I had friends. A few of us outcasts were thrust together, to suffer our awful fate together: perhaps 3 or 4 of us outnumbered by 1,200 bullies, quite literally. I'm sure I'm writing with some hyperbole, given how traumatic the memories seem when I poke at them and re-live them, but the point still stands: It's fucking awful being the subject of so much bullying; so outnumbered... especially when your own parents have played a very big role in creating and maintaining that intolerable situation.

It's a strange sex problem to have, but at least it's not something totally weird, like wanting to get urine or faeces on me... not that I'm gonna judge you if that's your particular kink.

So, that's me.

 

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Paid By The Hour

6 min read

This is a story about prostitution...

One penny

It is fashionable to describe a female prostitute as a victim, which is a claim we should examine more closely. Certainly, few of us would choose sex work instead of a so-called dream job but what would that dream job need to look like, in order to fit the bill?

The bill.

How is a person supposed to pay for a crack, meth and/or heroin addiction on ordinary wages? How is a person with the chaotic lifestyle of a drug addict supposed to be organised enough to travel to work, arrive on time, and be presentable enough for a regular job?

Turn tricks. Score. Get high. Repeat.

If we examine the behaviour of an average low-income law-abiding productive member of society, we can see the same pattern of behaviour: Work a job which is thoroughly unpleasant, get paid at the end of the week, immediately spend the money on a binge drinking session, and then start all over again.

If we examine the behaviour of a high-income professional in a so-called 'good' job, we can see the same pattern of behaviour: An entire career which feels like a dead-end bullshit job, getting paid at the end of the month and immediately spending all the money on status symbols - the house, the car - in a never-ending cycle of performance reviews, pathetic promotions, job interviews and pitiful pay-rises.

"Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life" is more applicable to heroin addiction than it is to the pursuit of a dream job that doesn't actually exist.

What did those saintly Oxfam charity workers - who were presumably working in their dream job - infamously end up spending the charity's money on? Prostitutes.

Did we conveniently forget that sex work is well paid with flexible hours? Did we conveniently forget that somebody without academic qualifications can do sex work without having to attend a job interview? Did we conveniently forget that those who have criminal records or other black marks against their name, such that they would find themselves excluded from conventional employment, are able to earn money doing sex work?

Also, do we wish to disbelieve all the very many sex workers who tell us that they choose sex work of their own free will?

Women choose to be prostitutes for very many reasons, but some of the reasons we choose to ignore include the gratification, the reward of the job. Just as a chef likes to delight diners with gastronomic creations, and takes great pride in their work, can the same not be said of prostitutes: That they like to give pleasure? Should we simply forget the fact that sex is a biological imperative, which carries pleasurable rewards: It feels nice to fuck. We get a dopamine hit from having sex, just like eating, drinking, smoking, drinking tea & coffee and all the other vices.

Of course, it's true that if sex is your job, sometimes sex isn't sex... it's just work. We are all very familiar with those times that work isn't pleasurable. In fact, work is often unbearable.

"Oh but prostitution is so unbearable" I hear you cry. It's so relatable, the idea of an ugly fat, sweaty, smelly man, with bad breath, doing something so intimate with us - "to us" - that we struggle to imagine anything worse, short of painful torture. And yet we must confront this truth: You get a lot of buck for your bang.

If we examine every way of making money, we find an relationship between how much we get paid and how much exploitation is involved. The more unethical and exploitative something is, the more lucrative it is.

A company boss might earn a thousand times more than his employees, but this is because he or she is prepared to inflict misery and suffering upon everyone who toils on his or her behalf. A software engineer developing artificial intelligence might earn a very high salary, but this is because he or she is prepared to ignore the potential negative consequences to society. A university professor might enjoy a very intellectually stimulating life, but this is because he or she is prepared to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of the developing world, and its economic enslavement, to support a life of such incredible privilege.

We must distinguish between the slaves, the exploiters, and those who sit somewhere in-between.

We must acknowledge that, in the majority of cases where a man pays a woman for sex, she exploits the fact that he wants more sex than he can get for free, while he exploits the fact that she wants money to pay for drugs, sold by disadvantaged drug dealers who exploit the only money-earning route available to them. The drugs come from countries that are desperately impoverished, deliberately so that the labour and natural resources of those countries can be exploited by the men, who exploit the man, who exploits the man, who exploits the man, who exploits the man who's eventually managed to save up enough of his money to pay a woman for sex.

Do you really know what the company you work for is up to? Do you really know where the money in your paycheque came from?

If you follow the money, you'll see that most of the so-called economy is a massive money-laundering scheme, involving banks, accountancy firms, law firms and numerous shill enterprises, funded with dirty money, which originated in weapons, war, slavery and waste of natural resources. If you're not a slave - working for nothing - then you're probably an exploiter, so who are you to say who is doing the most exploitation?

Those who have the luxury of time to sit around pointing the finger and wringing their hands about 'victims' they know nothing about, are probably the ones who are the biggest beneficiaries of human exploitation, for how else did they achieve their opportunity for such idle talk?

Wouldn't we all dearly love to idly pontificate in some revered institution, and get paid for our trouble? Wouldn't we all choose to think, write, talk and create art, instead our daily toil, if we were given the choice?

I respect the prostitute. I respect anybody who has figured out how to get money and get what they want, by exploiting the minimum number of people. Give me your money, here is your sex. It's a simple transaction of two-way exploitation: No victim, both are slaves.

We're all junkies and prostitutes, in one way or another.

 

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Playing the Long Game

10 min read

This is a story about sustained effort...

Mound of wires

I like to concentrate on one thing at a time. I like to be hyper-focussed and blinkered, and to devote all my energy and attention towards achieving a single goal. I like to live my life in an artificially simplified way, by aggressively cutting away anything which seems superfluous; a distraction from my main task.

Unfortunately, I have several concurrent tasks:

  • My work
  • My debts
  • My writing
  • My love-life

There are more - such as friends, family, health & fitness, hobbies etc - but I'm not listing those, because I've deemed them temporarily nonessential.

In fact, I had deemed dating to be nonessential, but my life had become too lonely and austere to be bearable. I was torn between investing in my [nonexistent] social life and looking for love. I chose the latter, because of how long it had been since I'd hugged or kissed anybody. Intimacy is important.

My work is arguably a task which will never be completed, but my debts have almost been dealt with. The sum total of my savings is £30,000 and the sum total of my debts is £29,000, so I'm finally 'in the black' although it will be some time before I'm able to release the money and free myself from the bonds of usury. Then, the question is how much money do I really need to live a happy life? I have to decide about this thing people call "work-life-balance" which I always thought was a myth. Without the millstone of debt around my neck, suddenly I gain enormous freedom of choice.

My writing has been the casualty, of late.

Hypomania was rearing its ugly head, threatening to destroy all my hard work building a good reputation in the office. I got a cold and my brain was horrendously sluggish. I suffered alcohol abuse, bad diet, lack of exercise and general neglect of everything in my life, because I was so single-minded in my mission to pay back my debts. My mind was telling me how brilliant I am, that I've managed to rescue myself from a dire situation, successfully deliver some software projects, impress my colleagues, work hard and generally function in society pretty well. I've been getting up early and going to the office. I haven't been taking time off sick. I haven't had much time off on holiday. I've just worked and it's paying off, but I'm so exhausted that I'm going a little crazy. It's hard to deal with the reversal of fortunes; my boom and bust real life triggers psychological problems.

During 3 years of writing my blog almost daily, I never start writing a blog post on one day and then finish it on another. My mind races so much and my feelings change so violently that the tone and content of what I'm writing can veer from one extreme to another, faster than I can pour out words onto the page. One reason for writing so much so quickly, is to capture the variety of my moods and give myself a fighting chance of being able to spot more general trends. In fact, I rely heavily on my regular readers to spot those trends - they're a far better judge of whether I'm swinging into a high or low episode, than I am myself.

To have skipped days of writing really upsets me. I feel really bad when I neglect my writing and my readers.

I have no idea where my writing will take me, especially when I suffer major setbacks such as a sudden loss of thousands of Twitter followers. These things shouldn't matter, but they're psychologically damaging. My digital identity does serve as a substitute for a lot of the things which are presently missing in my life, such as a group of local friends, social engagements and a healthy relationship with my family.

That my life is so damaged should come as no surprise when you consider the magnitude of the tasks which I've been set. Divorce, drugs, alcohol, homelessness, debt and all the accompanying loss of status, stigma and family estrangement - the sense of failure, disappointment and "letting everyone down" - can each be fatal on their own. In combination, those things are a toxic whirlpool; a quicksand which nobody could ever hope to escape from. I could be very upset and depressed about all the things which are broken in my life, but instead I struggle not to get carried away with the minor miracle which has happened: I've bounced back and re-entered civilised society, seemingly without any permanent damage.

So many parts of our society are set up with the optimistic presumption that people are capable of turning their lives around and being rehabilitated, but it very rarely happens. While those who work with addicts, criminals and the debt-laden are very keen to see lives transformed for the better, the reality is that most of the stories do not have happy endings. Most of the stories have sad predictable endings, which are quite tragic.

I'm terrified that I'm going to hit a glass ceiling soon. I will have a mental illness until the day I die. I will always suffer from social jet-lag and a personality which is incompatible with the rat race. I can't change the past - the stigma of addiction and the paper trail which got left in my wake, during an unfortunate period of my life, will follow me around forever. There is no limit on what the organisation I'm presently involved with is able to see: they have access to a vast database of unflattering things, which can never be deleted. My mistakes can never be expunged from the archives.

I could delete this blog, but then where is my reply to the opinions of me expressed upon records kept by organisations who I unfortunately came into contact with?

I would be so much more vulnerable to stigma, prejudice and discrimination, if I allowed other people to lazily sum me up in a few short sentences. Human lives are so much more messy and complex than any amount of words on a page could ever possibly express. It seems like the most natural reaction to being pigeon-holed, to do something like this: to create a document so large that it doesn't even fit in a goddam pigeon hole.

It might seem obvious that I'd be quickly identified as a nut; a crackpot; a madman. That seems like an easy label to attach to me.

However, my long and successful career, the vast sums of tax I've paid, the wealth I've generated for the economy, the tangible products of my labour and intellect - all of these things contradict any attempt to lazily dismiss me as a ranting madman, of no use to anybody, who should be quietly nudged towards the fringes of society until I'm completely marginalised.

My writing is the only thing in my life I have complete control over. I can write as much as I want. I can publish as much as I want. Every act of writing and publishing is an act of rebellion - a protest at the excessive burdens of life - as well as an addition to a growing cache of proof of my productivity and usefulness. I write because it will frustrate and contradict any attempts to write me off.

On paper, I was a write-off.

Nobody would touch me with a barge pole.

If you were presented with a list of all the unflattering things about me - my mistakes; my debts; my problems - as a bullet-pointed list, then you'd have dumped me straight onto the "no hope" pile.

Technically, I don't exist, because my existence is too improbable; my problems were too insurmountable. I should not be alive. I should not be debt-free. I should not be clean. I should not be working. I should not be housed. I should not have money. I should not be out there in the big wide world, walking around like I'm a regular normal member of mainstream society.

I could place put my faith in those who have sworn to make decisions without prejudice or discrimination. I could entrust my whole future - my happiness and my livelihood - to people who've never met me, who will judge me based on a few bullet points. That seems pretty risky to me though.

This is what I anticipated would happen. I knew that sooner or later, if I kept telling my story, I'd reach a point where the rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches-to-rags cycle would either conclude - in my suicide - or else I would finally get a chance to have a liveable life. This document contains a vast number of mistakes and unflattering things about me, but it also charts the course of a stupendously unlikely journey, which was almost certainly doomed to failure. If somebody in a position of power is going to thwart me, I want them to do so with a guilty conscience, because they were too lazy to consider all the available information. I'm so much more than a few bullet points on a page. I cannot be dissected with a 66-page form.

Of course, it's terribly teenage angsty to think of myself as a misunderstood character. It's horribly conceited and arrogant to think I'm special and different. I try not to concern myself with such judgements and instead to concentrate on my continued efforts to produce tangible things: to create.

Lots of people have written lots of novels, journals, diaries, blogs, newspaper columns, magazine articles and all the very many other works of printed words. There are quite a lot of prolific writers, who have churned out vast quantities of prose. Does that mean I shouldn't bother? Does that mean I shouldn't even try?

I haven't been very productive during the past couple of weeks, but it doesn't matter because what I've produced is cumulative. Every little effort is slowly adding up to create some big achievements. It's painfully slow, but the progress appears to create sudden overnight success. Nobody really notices all the hard work and nobody can see where it's headed, until one day a huge milestone is reached and everything all makes sense.

The relief of having more-or-less reached one of my most important goals, is highly destabilising and is triggering hypomania: it's hard not to get carried away with the perceived magnitude of my achievement. It's hard not believe my own bullshit - that I'm invincible and that I can overcome any obstacle. It's tempting to act recklessly, believing that I'll always be able to rescue myself from disastrous situations. It's hard to keep reminding myself that my luck will run out eventually, if I keep tempting fate.

I've missed this blog and I've missed writing. I've been destabilised, but I'm going to force myself to continue with my routine, because I think it's very healthy and stabilising for me.

Sorry for the gap in my regular writing.

 

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Every Time I Masturbate I Feel Like a Failure

11 min read

This is a story about self-esteem...

Hand shandy

The idea that we should be able to happily exist without external validation was concocted by smug twats who enjoy an abundance of ego-massaging. It's all very well and good saying that it's needy and insecure to require compliments, praise, flattery, applause, positive feedback and sexual advances, but people who say that we shouldn't need those things in order to feel attractive, valuable and cherished, are morons who completely take for granted the privileged position they enjoy.

I was one of that small group of kids who get labelled as the bad weirdos. There are good weirdos - everybody loves the outrageously camp kid. Everyone loves the goth kid. Everyone loves anybody who is a cool weirdo. Nobody likes the handful of kids who are freakishly cerebral. In fact everyone hates those fucking know-all boffin geeky nerds. "Fuck those guys" says literally everyone in the whole goddam school. "Let's make those kids' lives sheer uninterrupted misery for their entire childhood" everyone says.

Away from school, where my reputation didn't precede me, I was able to lose my virginity at 15 and snog tons of girls. Away from school, I wasn't held back by the label attached to me by all the ill-considered things my parents did to single me out. At school I was fucked over very badly by my parents insistent and completely selfish decisions to make me a marked man. Example: sending me to school on a girls' bike, with obvious and predictable end results, completely in line with any reasonable person's expectation of what would happen, and completely ignoring my protestations. I had no other means of transport available over a considerable and unwalkable distance, so I was quite literally forced into a situation which any parent with a smidge of care, compassion or empathy for their child would never dream of doing to fuck their child over in such an extreme way, with lasting and traumatic consequences.

Net result: ostracised child, bullied every day. Extremely bullied every day.

If I was ever going to struggle with self-esteem, I was bound to struggle doubly because I was a pariah at school. I went to 8 different schools. At the penultimate school I attended I had managed to make friends over the summer months, in places away from my parents' life-destroying fucked up selfish cuntishness, and I was enjoying popularity and attention from girls. I went away to Reading music festival and enjoyed the attention of girls. I went dancing - underage - to nightclubs and enjoyed the attention of girls and even managed to lose my virginity.

When school started - school number 7 - I had no option but to ride the only bike which was capable of the journey on Dorset's steep hills, of many miles to the school. My dad had stolen the bike. It was a girls' bike.

Wouldn't you just buy your kid a decent bike, if you were going to expect them to ride to school every day from the stupid house you've bought in the middle of fucking nowhere with no other option, to travel the fucking miles to get to school. The only life lesson I learned is that my parents are fucking cunts.

My paper round brought in a weekly income of £10 per week. My washing up job at the local pub brought in a further £10 a week. Theoretically, that's enough to save up enough money to buy a mountain bike or a road bike with high enough quality gears to be ridden every day on extremely steep hills for many miles, but by the time I'd saved enough money the damage had been done.

Perhaps, you might say, I should have kept my bike out of sight and walked the final mile to and from school, but you have to understand also, that my route to school passed the boarding house, and the children who were boarding were driven by minibus past me cycling as they were ferried by minibus to and from school. Some of the boarders also walked, instead of waiting to catch the minibus. There was no fucking way I could avoid some degree of exposure of this life-destroying single example of my parents cuntishness.

You could say I was "cock blocked" by my parents.

The friends I had made over the summer remained friends, but had to publicly distance themselves from me at school, lest they become bullying targets themselves. You might say that they're not very good friends for doing that, but you fail to appreciate just how fucking awful it is to be hated by 1,200 kids.

I was ostracised; I was an outcast; I was an untouchable.

My self-esteem was decimated.

I did not have a normal childhood. I did not have a childhood sweetheart. I did not have girlfriends. I did not have anything, until I finally escaped from my parents cuntish meddling, by getting the fuck away from them and their selfish deliberate actions which ruined my childhood.

I then embarked upon a crusade to have as much sex as possible as a reaction to the sex starvation of my adolescence.

I fucked everyone I could, as much as I could. I fucked even when I really didn't want to fuck, because every single time I had sex, I felt like I was winning. I felt a desperate need to catch up. I felt like if I could have enough sex, I'd feel better about myself; I'd feel attractive and sexually desirable.

I went to gay clubs and I absolutely adored having my bum pinched and men wanting to dirty dance, try to kiss me and make indecent proposals. So many men asked for my number and said flattering things. I felt good about myself.

Every time I feel lonely and want a cuddle. Every time I wish I had somebody to kiss. Every time there's no hand to hold or significant other to tell my good news, and my bad, then I'm transported back to my unhappy adolescence, and by extension my entire ruined bullied childhood. I don't care about the bad decisions I made when I was 18+. I care that my opportunity for a childhood sweetheart and normal adolescent development was denied to me. I care that my self-esteem was so badly damaged and my childhood was such misery, because of things which were entirely preventable, if only my parents weren't so fucked up on drugs and alcohol: I expressed clear and well articulated opinions. My needs were simple and I explained the drastically negative consequences of their selfish cuntish fucked-up shit that left me no recourse to salvage any shred of dignity.

This was a long time ago.

Why am I writing about it now?

Why is the bitterness re-surfacing?

All parents fuck their kids up, don't they?

On balance, my life is not the most fucked up it could have been. At least my parents didn't peel off all my skin and pour salt and lemon juice on the bloody flesh, huh?

I have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life so it's up to me to say how terrible things have been.

One of the consequences has been my extreme prudence with contraception and a great deal of thought and effort put into the handling of any so-called 'accidents'. One of the consequences has been my decision to behave in a way which absolutely guarantees that I'll never become like my parents. It's not one single decision. It's a decision which gets made over and over and over, ad nauseam. It's physically nauseating and painful to deny a fundamental part of my humanity. It's easy to go along with the crowd and do what everybody else is doing. It's easy to be one of the herd. It's hard to make an ethical decision, and a decision which goes against every gene in every cell of my body. Every physical part of me screams to reproduce, and I have to overrule that innate instinct using my fucking brain because it's obviously the only way to guarantee I'm 100% nothing like my father.

Sure, I could fall in love and be talked into almost anything, while my brain is flooded with serotonin and oxytocin, but my normal childhood development was so fucking messed up that I have no idea what a normal healthy happy relationship looks or smells like. I have a gaping big hole in my life, where most people have happy childhood memories and a set of formative experiences which govern the way they approach love, romance and sex. Sure, I adore my childhood friends - the nerdy geeky bullied outcasts - but each tiny handful children who were my friends, were snatched away from me during each of the unnecessary school changes and house moves thrust upon me by my selfish fucked-up druggie alkie loser work-shy cunt parents.

Why such vicious, clumsy words?

Why such bitterness?

I felt like I'd managed to shake off the stigma of being the nerdy geeky bullied kid and re-invent myself. I felt like I'd managed to escape my past. I went to London and re-invented myself. I got far far away from anybody who might seek to undermine my newfound self-confidence, in a place where nobody knew me and I was free to forget the things which were perpetrated against me, forcibly and inescapably.

I had fucking won.

The reasons why I suffered a major financial setback, and indeed ended up without major pieces of my life again, are beyond the scope of this self-pitying essay. I can easily analyse the root causes and trace the origin of my insecurities, hangups and damaged self-esteem back to childhood trauma. However, my life philosophy and personality drives me to look forward and achieve positive things, as opposed to living in the past.

Working very hard to rebuild my wealth has been a slow and painful process - which still continues - and it denies me the coping mechanism which I developed as a young man: yes my childhood was fucking shit, but I'm rich now so it doesn't matter. Ergo, if I'm not rich, then all I'm left with is a shit childhood. The bitterness is inversely proportional to my wealth.

I have a very money first mindset, which assumes that if I get rich first, then everything I want and need in life will follow. My life experiences have reinforced this worldview. Where the hell would I find the self-confidence to date without a wad of dollars in my fat wallet? It sounds very vulgar, but we must consider how dreadfully damaged my self-esteem was in childhood, and how I've compensated using money.

To be heavily reliant on a steady flow of sex and money to prop up my fragile ego is not at all pleasant. Masturbating in isolated poverty is an insufferable cruelty, salting the wounds of childhood, which feel as fresh as ever. It shocks me that I can be plunged back into angsty teenaged hatred and resentment of the injustice of my situation, by something as trivial as a temporary setback in my finances.

This is the vulnerable exposed throbbing pulsating nub of my insecurity. This is the thing which anyone can easily prod and poke at, cynically and sadistically, to make me wither and collapse. If you're the kind of sicko - who I've encountered far too many of in my life - who enjoys making a person writhe in torment, then you'll find that you'll be richly rewarded if you choose to bully me on this topic.

Why do I write about this at such length?

I own the story now. I expose my most vulnerable things, so that nobody else can threaten to do it and have power over me. I have agency.

 

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Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

4 min read

This is a story about feeling overwhelmed...

Rare steak

My favourite movie is Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. I am almost able to recite the script, verbatim, from memory. I don't re-watch films. I don't re-read books. This movie is my one exception. I've seen it dozens of times.

I don't tend to use a lot of quotes or epigraphs in my writing. Why would I borrow somebody else's words when mine say exactly what I want? I'm confident enough in my own thinking and writing abilities to avoid the insecurity of believing that my own words have less value than somebody else's.

I do however offer this one quote from my favourite movie:

"Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another." -- Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now

Having spent vast parts of this year tormented by extreme boredom, I am now swamped. I have something to get my teeth into at work, which also has quite a lot of pressure associated with it. I have a creative writing project - my novel - which I've been struggling to write due to poor preparation. I have my blog. I have dating. I also need to get fit, resume some of my hobbies, collect my mountain bike from the other side of the country and make some new friends. My work routine is well established and I'm making excellent progress financially, but it's time consuming and exhausting.

I wanted to be busy.

Now I am.

Never a dull moment, presently, but there's always something or somebody I'm neglecting. Sleep and a stable routine are early casualties, as I flit between many competing demands. Of course I'm having a lot of fun and I have boundless energy at times, but I crash down and become paralysed by anxiety.

Earlier today I thought it might be easier to just kill myself, rather than have to get two taxis and a train, wash and dry all my clothes for the week ahead, and drive to the office at the crack of dawn. It was only a fleeting moment of suicidality and it wasn't particularly serious because I didn't start to plan the act, but I definitely couldn't face the heap of tasks ahead of me. It depressed me that my novel and my blog were going to potentially become casualties - so much writing to do.

I'm somewhat regretting having asked for so much, and been given it all eventually, all in a short space of time. For a while almost none of my needs were being met, and then suddenly I've been swamped by everything all at once.

I can't quite figure out how to balance all the things I need. Money, challenging work, sleep and intimacy are probably my top four priorities, but each one brings a swathe of other complications. The more things I add into my simple life, the more destabilised I become. I worry that I'm going to end up repeating the mistakes of previous years, when I became over-tired and over-stressed, which pushed me into a state of mania. Mania will be fatal to my career. Mania will be fatal to my relationships. Mania will be fatal to my financial stability.

I wondered to myself if I've made a mistake in being unmedicated. I think I was just desperately sleep deprived though.

My life violently see-saws between the dread of Sunday night and Monday morning, binge drinking on a Thursday and Friday night, stopping my sleeping pills and tranquillisers at the weekend and suffering dreadful insomnia and anxiety, and some other rather destabilising things, such as dating. I swing between the fear that my life is going to become over-complicated and stressful, and the fear that I'm going to die alone. I know that my simplified life brings vast financial rewards, but the lack of kisses and cuddles is almost unbearable. Living out of a suitcase is awful. Drinking alone is unhealthy. Changing my routine is destabilising and exhausting. Other people are unpredictable.

It's a difficult balancing act: trying to live a sustainable and stable life when I'm naturally prone to mood instability, and I am dealing with a number of things which are dreadfully broken.

This sounds like quite a whinge-fest. On the whole, I have lots of things to be very grateful for. A lot of my problems are nice problems to have.

I shouldn't complain.

I'd rather be busy.

I wanted a mission.

 

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I Am Ridiculously Exposed

6 min read

This is a story about laying it all on the line...

Glasses

My livelihood, any realistic prospect of me being able to pay back my mountainous debts and the impossible dream of restoring myself to health and wealth - escaping the nightmare - hinges upon successfully blending in as a part of an organisation which is particularly noted for being intolerant of anybody with bad character.

I've been required to fill in a 66 page form which legally obliges me to disclose criminal convictions, psychiatric problems, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, partners from the last 3 years, marriage, divorce, bankruptcies, loan defaults, debt repayment agreements, financial conduct and details about my parents. Most employers are only entitled to know about any unspent criminal convictions, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, but I work for an organisation that knows everything.

Of course, I'm ahead of the game, because I've already publicly declared every single unflattering thing about myself.

Luckily I've never been convicted of a crime, but there are still some things I'm legally bound to disclose which would portray me in a less-than-ideal light to the powers that be, who will judge me based on what they see on paper. My life and my future will be reduced to a few scribbles on a form.

Many people have been through rough breakups and divorces and had breakdowns. Many people suffer from mental illness. Many people have had periods where they've drunk too much or dabbled with recreational drugs. Nobody is squeaky clean.

I'm in the ludicrous situation where I'm more-or-less managing to plod along and keep my mouth shut, and demonstrate that I'm a competent and capable valuable team member at work, but I've continued to write and publish this blog using my real name. I've continued to write with unflinching honesty about some of the terrible stuff I've been through and the aftermath of problems I'm dealing with, as I desperately attempt to get back on my feet.

I'm in the ludicrous situation where my hard work is beginning to pay off and my debts are getting rapidly repaid. I'm in the ludicrous situation where there's an end in sight, provided nobody screws me over.

It appears to be self-sabotaging that I would continue to write and publish stuff which makes me so exposed and vulnerable, but in fact my online presence has been one of the big factors in my recovery. Without being able to share my story and connect with kind supportive people, I couldn't have gotten this far. Without having the sense of identity, pride in my achievement and the structure and routine that daily public writing gives me - the scrutiny - then I would have been destroyed by my problems and would have perished in obscurity long ago.

Whaddya want to know about me?

Trouble with the police? Sure. I got caught with legal highs a couple of times.

Psychiatric problems? They don't call me Nick "Manic" Grant for no reason. I make no secret of having bipolar disorder.

Drug and alcohol abuse? Not the former anymore but the latter is a bit of a problem, although my drinking doesn't seem to be any more abusive than that of most of my colleagues. Arguably I'm successfully self-medicating, because I'm functional and unmedicated.

Partners from the last 3 years? I haven't co-habited since separating from my wife.

Marriage and divorce? Tied the knot in Hawaii. Divorced 18 months later.

Bankruptcies and other debt problems? I pay my bills. I've never defaulted. I'm a good debtor.

Financial conduct and credit score? I need to pay back half my credit card debt ASAP but that's the only bad thing on my credit file.

Parents? They're not seditious traitors. They're not Russian, Chinese or terrorist sympathisers. They're not political agitators.

What about my character in general? I've had a successful career spanning more than 2 decades, working for some very big organisations on important projects. If I was some kind of fraudster or con artist, my true character would surely have been unmasked by now.

There's a lot written down here which could easily be twisted and used against me by somebody intent on casting me in a bad light. I write a lot of things about myself which are very unflattering and wouldn't usually be publicly declared by people. I spend a lot of time asking people to take the things I voluntarily tell them and to decide for themselves how they want to judge me.

It's a ridiculous thing to do.

For one reason or another I've become easier and easier to find, for anybody who bothers to look. Because of a recent mistake I made I've become even easier to find than ever before. All the effort that I've put into projecting myself into public consciousness, because I've been on the verge of suicide for so long, is finally gaining traction and I'm becoming a victim of my decision to make myself exposed and vulnerable.

Every time I write and publish I have to consider the consequences to my life. I have to make a decision between my ideological belief that we have a right to live with the freedom to be proud of our identities and to be open and honest, without fear. If we really live in a free country I should be free to be candid and not suffer persecution and tyranny. If we honestly believe in equal opportunities and our laws forbidding discrimination, then we need to take the brave and bold step of speaking without fear of repercussions.

This vast repository of information that I've created is the polar opposite of a 66 page form, designed to distill me down to a few ticks in boxes. This 1.1 million word document is intended to frustrate the reader who is looking for a convenient pigeon hole to stuff me into.

Do your worst. I'm not afraid.

 

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The Supercrack Diet - Part Two

8 min read

This is a story about body dysmorphia...

Christmas photo

It's strange to look at a photo of myself with an old friend from not-too-many-Christmasses ago - at least according to my faulty memory - and not really recognise the face looking back at me as my own. It's not that I'm younger. It's that I can clearly see in many features of my face that I'd failed to escape from an abusive relationship and an acrimonious divorce unscathed. My life reboot had been sabotaged and it seems as plain as day to me that I was very sick.

My eyes appear at first glance to be bright and alert, but in a stimulant-induced way, so I wear a glassy stare into the distance, not looking at anything in particular. On closer examination, there are tell-tale signs around my eyes that I've been sleeping both too much and too little.

It surprises me how easily I can see from my face that I have hardly any body fat. In 2013 I had my body fat very precisely measured at circa 2%.

The body I'm in today feels very alien to me.

But the face in the picture above is also a different person, I feel.

Every couple of weeks I start skipping breakfast, having light lunches and smaller, healthier evening meals. Every couple of weeks I take a break from drinking alcohol. It doesn't make any difference.

For more years than I care to remember, I've woken up and I've dreaded going to work, and I've felt oppressively burdened by debt. My life is very simple, and in many ways very enviable, but it's also thoroughly awful. Theoretically the awfulness is only a temporary situation, but somehow it's turned out to be a nonstop nightmare lasting half a fucking decade.

The nightmare could be lazily attributed to drug addiction, but you might be surprised to learn that the truth is far less conveniently simple.

Having spent more than two decades trapped in the rat race, being a very stoic, quiet, boring, obedient and subservient tiny cog in a massive machine, and suffering the incredible boredom of going to bland beige offices, attending endless interminable meetings about nothing, shuffling paper around a desk and pretending to look busy, it was fucking exciting to go insane and embark upon a drug-fuelled rampage.

You might think that police, paddy wagons, Accident & Emergency, high-dependency wards, psychiatric hospitals, police cells, intensive care, sleeping rough and hostel dorms would be the worst thing imaginable - and those things probably were terrible at the time - but you need to understand the psychology of a person who wants to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and plummet towards the ground at terminal velocity. If you think that only stupid people get addicted to drugs, it's you who is stupid, because you haven't appreciated the value in calculated risks.

I would thoroughly advise every person on the planet to avoid supercrack like the plague, but it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge some attributes of my experiences of the last 5 years, which might be considered surprisingly beneficial.

Weight. Loss.

We'd all like to be a bit skinnier, wouldn't we? We'd all like to lose a bit of that hard-to-shift belly-fat.

I look in the mirror at the slight gut which has appeared in the ten months which I've been working, without the interruption of a drug-fuelled rampage, and I think "where the fuck did that gut come from?"

It depresses me that I've put on weight.

It depresses me that my appearance has changed.

I'm not fat. I'm not overweight. I'm just kinda 'normal' for a 39-year-old bloke, but that fucking sucks, because I took for granted the fact that I was as skinny as a racing snake on a diet. There's something attractive about an 'athletic' body, and that's not the body I have anymore... or rather, that's not the body I have at the moment.

One of the reasons I kept ending up in hospital, is because my body ran out of fat to break down to keep itself alive, so it started breaking down my muscle. When my muscle was broken down to provide energy to keep my cells fuelled and save my life, there were a lot of toxins released too, which totally fucked my kidneys. Basically, I was starving to death but dying of kidney failure faster than I was dying from lack of glucose, because I was so unnaturally lacking in body fat. My body made a very tough decision at a certain do-or-die moment, to destroy muscle allowing my heart to keep pumping for a little while longer, at the expense of my kidneys.

I eat.

I eat a lot.

I drink.

I drink a lot.

I eat and drink whatever the fuck I want and however much I want. I have juicy fatty steaks with butter sauce, washed down with lashings of red wine, every single night of the week.

I'm a disgusting old man.

I've been so depressed and oppressed by my awful circumstances, that I've barely been outside all summer. My skin is pale. One of my arms is covered with ribbons of self-harm and suicide attempt scars. One of my wrists has a big lump where a bone was broken by police who were kindly assisting me in getting to hospital. I've got this gut. This fucking gut. Where the fuck did it come from?

Have you heard of DNP?

It's a fat burner.

I'm highly tempted to take a week or two off work and just burn off the fat using this drug which increases your metabolic rate. Of course, a side-effect is malignant hyperthermia, but that's nothing I haven't already experienced a great deal of, as a supercrack addict. Also, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, tachycardia, organ damage and death... all risks I'm prepared to accept in order to be skinny and gorgeous again.

Although I'm crippled by mountainous debts, I drive a wreck of a car which is worth less than my phone, I live in rented accommodation and my body is covered with scars from drug-fuelled insanity, self-harm and suicide attempts, the most damaging thing to my self-esteem is what I've done to myself during this period of so-called health and wealth. While I've been earning megabucks for massive organisations and being mostly abstinent from supercrack, my life has materially improved massively - I've earned an absolute fortune - but psychologically it's been awful, and my body has suffered far more than even the very worst days of my supercrack addiction insanity.

I don't think supercrack is a solution, although the weight-loss is arguably a very desirable side-effect, in much the same way as a bout of explosive diarrhoea or a tapeworm infestation might be. Unfortunately, society worships the skinny, just as much as it worships the bipolar, even though those people might not be very healthy people at all.

As a single man - and rapidly approaching 40 years old - of course I want to feel sexually attractive. While girlfriends have always said "I like a bit of meat on your bones" fnarr fnarr, they have had a vested interest in my health and robustness as opposed to my raw attractiveness, in terms of a skinny athletic body.

The temptation to restore my athletic figure with a week or two of unpleasant suffering, taking a fat-burning drug and feeling like shit, seems like a small price to pay for the prize of being more sexually attractive. With the insecurity of feeling like I'm a washed-up has-been loser, dirty old man filthy pervert, useless debt-riddled, asset-less waste-of-space, with nothing to offer womankind, it's sorely tempting to take some short cuts. What happened to my house, sports-car, yacht, speedboat, cash pile and other desirable material things, which would be highly coveted? What value is there in a 39-year-old who's pale and average build? I'm ten a penny.

This is the calculated gamble. Presently, my gamble is to get rich quick, or more precisely, to pay off my debts incredibly quickly at the expense of my health, social life and mental wellbeing. The price I pay is my appearance: I eat and drink too much; don't exercise.

Of course, I have no plans to resume my supercrack-fuelled insanity, but to not acknowledge the rewards and unexpectedly positive benefits of better living through chemistry would be disingenuous.

 

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Notes From My Disastrous Dating Experiences

9 min read

This is a story about romantic aspirations in the provinces...

Nick in pink

It would unforgivable of me to kiss and tell but I feel the urge to share with you - dear reader - the trials and tribulations of an urbane metrosexual man's attempts to find love outside the capital city, in places which might politely be described as: the arse-end of nowhere.

The first thing that becomes immediately apparent, when venturing onto the dating scene in the provinces. is the priority which young adults have placed upon having rampant quantities of unprotected sex and producing as many unfortunate single-parent children as possible, with no economic means to pay for them. Did these people never receive any sex education? Have they never heard of condoms, the pill, the rhythm method, anal sex, oral sex or simply pulling out and ejaculating in any direction away from the the birth canal? What the fuck were they thinking?

Accidents don't "happen". We aren't organisms with pea-sized brains. We have birth control, the morning-after pill AND abortions. Why the big hurry to bring an innocent child who didn't ask to be born, into a world where you can't afford to pay for its upbringing? Idiocy.

So, there needs to be a certain amount of sifting through all the cretinous idiots who are no more intelligent than a herd of humping beasts, spawning offspring without any restraint, planning or any semblance of rational thought.

Relationships can break down irreparably, I accept that. Despite 8 long hard years banging my head against a brick wall, my own longest relationship was broken beyond repair and I got divorced. My ex-wife and I didn't have any children, which was my choice because I wanted to stabilise my mental health before making an irreversible life-changing decision to procreate. However, I can imagine that some perfectly decent nice intelligent people have had children, only to later find out that they're met with irreconcilable differences and their relationship cannot be salvaged, even for the sake of the children.

I was unquestionably influenced by my parents' relationship, which was toxic and abusive. I use the word "abuse" with a little caution, because it means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but what I mean is that my parents were absolute assholes to each other and everyone around them. They were co-dependent alcoholic druggies; selfish cunts. They stayed together, perhaps correctly sensing that mean-spirited selfish self-centred people who drink and take drugs, and have failed at life, are not highly in-demand people. They clung together because they were the only people who'd support each others' lies and fantasies, justifying their obnoxious treatment of everyone around them.

I grew up believing that a person should be loyal and work at a relationship no matter how toxic it is; to put up with any amount of abuse.

I guess that's why I ended up in an abusive relationship myself.

This is how I remember things progressed:

  1. Date one: She liked me lots; I was full of confidence. She wanted more. I held back because I had serious feelings about her.
  2. Date two: She thought I was great. She 'accidentally' invited herself into my place.
  3. Date three: I treated her like a princess
  4. Date four: She left me waiting for 30 minutes outside her place. I told myself I was going to leave after an hour, because it was a shitty thing to stand me up. She turned up after 45 minutes. I said I was going to go because it was no way to treat somebody. She begged me to stay.
  5. Some dates later: she got in a strange mood when we were out with friends. When we got back home to her place she told me to leave. I asked her why. She wouldn't tell me. She threatened to call the police, which I said was unnecessary, I just didn't understand... could she explain? She flew into a rage, destroyed some curtains and slammed some doors. Then she calmed down and said she was glad I stayed. She thanked me for being loyal and patient We made love and everything seemed OK.
  6. We went on holiday together. I casually suggested living together and she was enthusiastic. She openly said she was swept off her feet by my open-hearted romanticism.
  7. I gave up my apartment paid for by JPMorgan to be closer to her workplace. She was angry and aggressive a lot. I cried a lot. One time when I was crying, she punched me in the face several times.
  8. When she got angry, I sliced my wrist open with a knife. She briefly got more angry, but it temporarily stopped her rage in its tracks.
  9. When she got angry, I smashed a mirror; a bed.
  10. I asked her dad permission to marry her. I bought her the engagement ring of her dreams.
  11. Two of my best friends came to visit. She flew into an inexplicable rage. I threw her engagement ring out of the window.
  12. She raged with anger about everything in my life I held dear: kitesurfing, my friends from London and all over the UK. Nothing I could do would make her happy. I isolated myself. I gave up everything. I became a prisoner of her unpredictable rage.
  13. We fought. She'd had her three strikes. She'd broken my nose, given me black eyes. I'd lied to my work colleagues about my black eyes. I'd lied to her parents about my black eyes. I'd lied to our friends about my black eyes. Now we fought. Two of us, fighting. We beat the shit out of each other.
  14. I went back to self-harming; smashing stuff. I was suicidal. She cheated on me.
  15. I caught her cheating. She was nice to me. I forgave her. It was nice that she was being nice to me.
  16. She was strong and I was weak. I needed to get out of that toxic relationship before I died. She said "I'd rather be a widow than divorced". She knew I had 2 grams of potassium cyanide. She knew she stood to gain a vast sum of money from my life insurance and the value of my house. She marked my suicide note in red pen and told me if I went to hospital she'd leave me.
  17. I went to hospital. We separated. We divorced.

That's my long-term relationship experience.

My first girlfriend was the nicest person in the world - which was an on-off relationship spanning a couple of years. I remember my second girlfriend fondly - a relationship lasting about 18 months. Then, there was 8 years of hell, which I feel completely equally responsible for: I should have walked away. Subsequent girlfriends were all relatively short-lived, but they were all wonderful. My longest relationship since my wife was with the love of my life, which lasted 9 blissful months, ending in calamity when I was driven insane by sleep deprivation and a toxic cocktail of prescription medications and other things, such that I temporarily believed that she didn't care about me and I decided to break up with her in a very regrettably - and irreparably - public manner, given the fact we both have Twitter accounts with reasonably large numbers of followers (although, many work colleagues are followers of her, causing the unforgivable reputational damage).

"What the fuck are you doing with that madman?" her colleagues must have asked.

She would have defended me.

She was loyal.

I loved her. She loved me.

But I was stubbornly ridiculous. At the time, my brain said to me "I'll never end up in another abusive relationship" but my thoughts were horribly twisted and corrupted; unreliable. To say anything bad about my poor ex-girlfriend would do her a terrible disservice. My amazing ex-girlfriend was incredibly attentively and at my bedside constantly for weeks when my kidneys failed. She was faultless, always.

Presently I've been consigned to the provinces, where I'm punished; cursed to suffer for my foolishness. Wimmin, wimmin, everywhere, and if none of them seem to meet my exacting standards then it's only because of the awful way I've treated - particularly - my last serious girlfriend. My ex cared for me so much, loved me and and demonstrated the loyalty I so desperately craved, but I threw it away during a hyper-complex period of joblessness, debt, mental health issues and drug abuse relapse, when I felt like an complete-and-utter failure. Insecurity destroyed me, despite her making me feel great about myself and working really hard to make sure I was OK. She looked after me. She put so much effort into looking after me.

So, now, today, I'm a 39-year-old man who's gotten badly out of shape and carries a whole heap of baggage.

"What car do you drive?"

"What job do you do?"

"Do you own your own house?"

"Show me your bank balance"

"What's your net worth?"

"Do you think you could afford to provide a life of idle luxury for me and my fatherless children?"

These are the questions which I face in the provincial dating game.

When I'm not looking my wallet is slipped from my pocket and felt for its fatness.

I'm not-so-silently judged as the sucker who's gonna pick up the tab for all that badly thought through unprotected sex and all those irrational decisions to not terminate unaffordable pregnancies.

This is my penance for not walking away from an abusive relationship - and admittedly becoming a so-called consensual partner in co-dependency - and also for throwing away relationships with some amazing women. This is my penance for my wrongdoing: to be somewhat trapped in the provinces, where every woman's dating profile picture has a Snapchat filter applied to her face, sending barely-literate messages saying: "If you're ex-girlfriends we're so great then how come there no longer wiv U? Their a bunch of snooty bitches wot kno grammar innit. Your fucking up youself U posh twat. They're's the truth layed out for you bear."

They do not mean "bear" in a cute cuddly way.

 

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My Misogyny

8 min read

This is a story about the battle of the sexes...

Bookshelf

"Secretly, you'd love to know what it's like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl" is a quote from Ian McEwan's 1978 book The Cement Garden which was released as a film in 1993, then sampled in a Madonna song released in 2001.

Right.

"You think that being a girl is degrading" is another quote from the same work of fiction.

Wrong.

Half right. Half wrong.

Why should we ever expect to be more than 50% correct on a binary matter?

I'll never know what it's like to carry a baby for 9 months and eject it from my body, but I do know what it feels like to be penetrated with a penis and have somebody ejaculate inside me. I'll never experience what it's like to live with the heavy burden of knowing that I carry the reproductive capability of bringing new life into this world - post-fertilisation - from the tiniest quantity of love snot squirted into a bodily orifice, to several pounds of blood and mucous covered incontinent midget incapable of supporting the weight of its freakishly large head, tearing its way out of the same hole the love snot went into. If you're a girl, you'll never know what it's like to be a member of the expendable sex, who account for 99% of all combat deaths, 97% of all workplace deaths and who die four whole years earlier just because of the dangly bits in-between our legs.

"It's a hard life being a beautiful girl and having horny men throwing themselves at you" I hear you say. "Passively fending off all these explicit offers from people who want to sexually satisfy me - to give me pleasure - is a real chore" you churlishly complain.

Of course, because I'm cursed with the so-called gift of empathy, I can see that shaving legs and armpits, putting on make-up, wearing high heels and a bra and other expectations of societal conformity are quite demanding on wimmin. Furthermore, I can see that while both sexes are expected to make themselves look as artificially young as possible, such as men removing their facial hair, wimmin definitely get a rough deal during the period when no amount of make-up can plaster over the obvious effects of ageing. I'm privileged to be able to wear my greying hair and slight beer-gut as a badge of honour, conveying my status as a cash machine. I'm honoured to be able to provide the cold hard capital to support a lifestyle that a woman has become accustomed to.

"I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings" goes a Destiny's Child song. Yes. Very good. Slow sarcastic clap. I refer you to earlier stats about 99% combat deaths and 97% workplace deaths. Call me when you dig your own ditches too.

Why are we at war like this?

In the past year fully 50% of the female computer programmers I've worked with have been transexual.

I can see the appeal.

50% of the female computer programmers I've worked with have received indisputably preferential treatment.

I'd quite like to play dressing-up games every day and have horny potential mates fawning all over me, while I passively decide who gets to pleasure me and who doesn't. That sounds like quite a nice life, doesn't it?

Would I have my testicles and Adam's apple surgically removed, my vocal chords adjusted, my breasts augmented, my hormones meddled with, and still suffer the taunts and jeers of insecure man-children, threatened by the fact that they'd really like to put their penis inside me, but they're too afraid of what other people would think? I'd fucking love it.

I've been comfortable enough with my sexuality and identity to experiment with homosexuality - or bisexuality to be more accurate - and I found many parts of the experience to be liberating and a boon for my self-confidence. I can see that the accumulated unwanted advances of horny men could become bothersome over a lifetime, but isn't that rather taking your good fortune for granted? While the so-called patriarchy is accused of not being aware of its own privilege, the same accusation could easily be levelled at wimmin.

I appreciate that the specialisation of the sexes each bring their own unique challenges. I'm well aware that the hashtag MeToo movement has hit upon a raw nerve of the unpleasant consequences of a system of mate selection which simultaneously demands men to be bold, confident, forthright, daring and to make the first moves, while also expecting telepathic mind-reading abilities in order to preserve a woman's birthright to unlimited offers of sex without ever having to make her own wants explicitly and overtly known.

Thus we arrive at the InCels' anger over Chads and Staceys.

I'm not an InCel.

I can have sex whenever I want.

I have literally hundreds of millions of wimmin who will have sex with me.

For money.

Oh yes, there's that rather unspeakable truth, isn't there? There are fucking loads of prostitutes, escorts, sugar babies and other wimmin out there who will have sex for material gains. Female chimpanzees will trade sex for tokens which can be spent on desirable products.

When we talk disparagingly about the patriarchy what I think we're really talking about is paternalism. We all hate to be patronised, but anybody can be patronising... not just men. In fact, men hate to be patronised so much that 79% of suicides are men, who often feel like they've failed and cannot face the indignity of being down on their luck. That's right - more than 3 times as many men kill themselves than wimmin.

You still wanna be a man?

You can be.

On the internet, nobody knows that you're a dog.

Computer says no.

I live in a binary world.

Computer programming is an almost almost exclusively male profession. Investment banking is an almost exclusively male profession. For most of my career I've been a computer programmer for investment banks.

Do you think we sit around plotting ways to thwart wimmin? Do you think I'm part of some big conspiracy to stop wimmin getting the super highly paid investment bank programmer jobs?

I married an investment banking computer programmer. I know they're a rare commodity.

They know they're a rare commodity.

Can't we all just admit that we're getting some kind of kicks out of our own special place in the universe?

I've spent more than 21 years in a full-time career which has essentially been spent wrangling with a cold unthinking and unwaveringly rational calculating machine, which doesn't give a fuck about your emotions. If your work is bad and wrong, it's fucking dog shit and the machine is not going to be nice about it to save your feelings.

Computer says no.

It doesn't matter how much you bat your eyelids and do a pouty Instagram sex duck-lip face at the computer, it's not going to roll over and let you get away with jack shit. There's no twisting an emotionless calculating machine around your little finger. If your work is wrong it's wrong and that's tough shit. Fix it.

This is my worldview and it's uncertainly corrupted by wealth and privilege, but I've also had the benefit of spending more than two whole decades working full-time for a boss who nobody could ever in their right mind accuse of having a gender bias. My computer quite literally does not know whether a girl or a boy wrote the code it's running, so fuck you.

If you want to hide within the shades of grey and obfuscate your obvious incompetence with your emotional intelligence, gained through your genetic predisposition towards maturing earlier than your brothers, so they didn't try to fuck you, while meanwhile twisting your daddy round your little finger because you were the apple of his eye and a spitting image of the woman he spurted his love snot into, perpetuating the whole miserable cycle of life, then be my guest. I'm afraid to say that it is you who is upholding the status quo, not the conspiracy of the so-called patriarchy. I'm sorry to say that there's a price to be paid for the considerable benefits which you enjoy, wimmin.

Am I a rape apologist? Do I condone overt sexism and sexual discrimination, where it obviously exists.

No.

 

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Nick Grant

6 min read

This is a story about secret identities and alter egos...

Nick Grant's glasses

I'm Nick Grant and these are my glasses, which are my cunning and infallible disguise to protect my real identity. It would be a disaster if anybody found out my real name - Nick Grant - because this blog is pretty unflinchingly honest and contains a lot of very unflattering things about me. I'm pretty damn exposed, hence why I wear my disguise.

Today I'm celebrating 3 years of blogging. I've been writing every day for 3 whole years, with only a few gaps due to sickness and near-catastrophic events in my personal life, which have threatened to see me bankrupt, evicted, homeless, penniless and destitute. To have kept writing regularly throughout all the ups and downs of the past 3 years is a huge achievement.

To date, I've written and published 1,013,091 words in that 3-year period.

The last 36 months could be summarised thus:

  • September 2015: working for HSBC, living in a hotel, dating a BBC journalist. Rent an apartment on the River Thames.
  • October 2015: working for HSBC. Suicidally depressed. Hospitalised. Fly to San Francisco.
  • November 2015: fly back to the UK and deliberately get sacked from HSBC. Dating a PA to one of the directors of a major investment bank. Meet my guardian angel.
  • December 2015: protesting against bombing Syria. Sober for 100 consecutive days. Relapse back into abuse of legal stimulants and benzodiazepines.
  • January 2016: self harm and drug abuse. Start drinking again. Destroy my bed.
  • February 2016: abuse of sleeping pills and tranquillisers
  • March 2016: poly-drug abuse, combining legal highs and medications
  • April 2016: holiday to Southend with my guardian angel. Start dating again
  • May 2016: working for undisclosed major multinational organisation, with 660,000 employees worldwide. Replace destroyed bed.
  • June 2016: working. Suicidal. Bored.
  • July 2016: holiday to Fuerteventura for my birthday with my guardian angel.
  • August 2016: working. Suicidal. Bored.
  • September 2016: project cancelled. Meet love of my life. Minor relapse. Lies. Antidepressants and tranquillisers.
  • October 2016: in love. Mini-break to the New Forest. Weaning myself off tranquillisers.
  • November 2016: in love. Drinking a lot. Writing my first novel.
  • December 2016. in love. Christmas with her family. Eating and drinking a lot.
  • January 2017: DVT and kidney failure. Hospital and dialysis. Working for Lloyds Banking Group. Neuropathic pain from nerve damage. Taking tramadol, codeine, dihydrocodeine and pregabalin for the pain. Abusing large amounts of Valium and Xanax. Lose contract
  • February 2017: fully-blown supercrack relapse. Completely addicted to prescription opiates.
  • March 2017: supercrack. Abusing sleeping pills and tranquillisers. Quitting prescription opiate painkillers. Drinking. Still in love.
  • April 2017: supercrack. Still in love.
  • May 2017: attempting to quit supercrack by staying at girlfriend's and taking dextroamphetamine. Not succeeding
  • June 2017: drug and insomnia-induced mania, paranoia and general insanity. Break up with love of my life. Regret
  • July 2017: run out of money. Get a job in Manchester. Put all my stuff into storage. Leave London. Fling with girl from work.
  • August 2017: working for a startup in Manchester. Dating a different girl. Still physically addicted to painkillers, tranquillisers and sleeping pills.
  • September 2017: breakup. Suicide attempt. Hospitalised. Sectioned. Locked up on psych ward.
  • October 2017: move to Wales.
  • November 2017: writing my second novel.
  • December 2017: working for undisclosed bank in Warsaw and London.
  • January 2018: working for same undisclosed bank in London. Dating a Welsh girl
  • February 2018: bank. London. Girl.
  • March 2018: working for undisclosed government organisation. Rent an apartment in Wales.
  • April 2018: successfully quit all drugs and medications. Job, girlfriend and apartment all in Wales and very close.
  • May 2018: relapse. Breakup.
  • June 2018: government project finished. Mini-break to Faro, Portugal to see old friend.
  • July 2018: working for another undisclosed government organisation. Living in a hotel.
  • August 2018: government. Hotel. Single. Depressed.
  • September 2018: still working for same government organisation. Dating again.

By my calculations, 27 out of 36 months have been relatively OK, but 9 months in the past 3 years I've been a complete and utter train-wreck. The damage that's been done in that quarter of the year where I've been struggling with addiction, has been enough to completely screw up my life the rest of the time, but not quite bad enough to lead to me becoming unemployable, bankrupt and homeless - I always find a way to bounce back.

Somehow I've managed to fit 5 serious girlfriends and 5 major IT projects into the madness of my day-to-day existence, as well as 3 hospitalisations for major medical emergencies, being sectioned, two psych wards, an arrest, two evictions, moving 5 times, 6 cities, 5 countries, 13 powerful prescription medications, 5 street drugs, 121 consecutive days sober, 56 consecutive days sober, 799 blog posts, 1 million words, 14 thousand Twitter followers and a couple of hundred thousand pounds... and all I've got to show for it is this poxy blog.

The story of Nick Grant and his ups and downs might be a bit repetitive, but I'm sure it's not boring. I would argue that it's pretty remarkable that I'm still alive and kicking, and able to string a sentence together. It's remarkable that I'm reasonably mentally stable and I'm working full time on quite an important project. It's remarkable that my colleagues don't suspect a thing. It's remarkable that I haven't made myself unemployable or otherwise ended up excluded from mainstream society. It's remarkable that I'm unmedicated and yet quite functional and productive.

Along the way, I managed to lose my original pair of glasses, but I had a new identical pair delivered today, which I'm wearing now. I had no idea when my replacement glasses would be delivered, because they were being hand made to order, so I find it deliciously wonderful that they were delivered on the day I'm celebrating the 3-year anniversary of starting this blog.

When I think back to my very first blog post 3 years ago - Platform 9.75 - it's amazing to reflect on the journey I've been on and marvel at how effectively my daily writing habit has functioned as a stabilising influence. I very much doubt I'd have been able to recover and continue my journey without the huge amount of help and support it's brought me. I feel really proud of what I've achieved, which gives me some all-important self-esteem in the times when I need it most. I'm sure I'd have killed myself long ago if it wasn't for the people who've engaged with me and what I write, and encouraged me to keep going. I feel loved and cared for even during some very dark and dismal days.

Obviously what I've written is not particularly palatable or compatible with dating and my professional life, but they'll never be able to find me - Nick Grant - because I've been so careful to disguise my identity and make sure that nobody could just Google me and find out all my closely guarded secrets. Nobody will ever be able to make the connection.

My next objective is to get through September 9th - the anniversary of my most serious suicide attempt - without incident. I plan on phoning a couple of the people who managed to get the emergency services to rescue me in the nick of time, to thank them for saving my life.

 

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Online-Dating-Friendly Content

6 min read

This is a story about marketing yourself...

Naked torso

The image I present of myself online is thoroughly incompatible with my professional life and my aspirations to meet a girl and start a relationship. I speak my mind and I'm very honest about some things I've experienced which are taboos. It's not very common in our society to talk about our failures and other unflattering things which might paint us in an unfavourable light. I would attract a lot of stigma and prejudice if I was up-front about unpalatable things from my past.

Half-naked photos of yourself and presenting yourself as an all-round faultless great guy - a real man's man - is not a particularly successful strategy. I include the image above ironically. Unsolicited dick pics don't work either, but there are a lot of men who seem to think that they do.

For a brief time I had included the fact that I'm a writer on my online dating bio, but I realised that my blog doesn't exist in a particularly sanitised form and I would hate to be writing with hesitancy, thinking about how my words would be received by an online love interest who's just getting to know me. I'm very exposed in a way that most people usually aren't. You almost never have the opportunity to peer deep into somebody's psyche and read about all their deepest darkest secrets.

Earlier in the year I tried dating with my blog offered as part of the package of information presented. Usually the information we have when dating is a name, age, a few photos, a very short bio, then after some discussion we know what a person does for a living, whether they have kids, whether they have pets, where they studied, where they've travelled and a few other details which actually tell us very little about that person's character. It's not a lot to make a decision about whether it's promising enough to warrant an actual in-person date, but we have the writing style - from text message chat - to gauge whether a person is intellectually stimulating and easy to converse with or not. Subtle language cues tell us whether we're of a socioeconomically similar group, which is important not least for reasons of insecurity and feelings that we were hard-done-by in some way. Nobody likes feeling poor in the company of somebody who's enjoyed wealth and privilege, or feeling stupid in the company of somebody who's been lucky enough to enjoy a great education.

The problem with having my blog as part of the information bundle, is that there's an almost unlimited amount to be consumed and processed, which is available anywhere, anytime. It's tempting for almost anybody with even a casual interest in other people's lives, to dig and dig, and it raises troublesome questions which would normally never come about in the course of a relationship, because we don't usually have access to the inside of somebody's mind.

I'm quite comfortable with friends and the general public having access to the entirety of the dark recesses of my mind, because I've found that most people are sympathetic and kind, and they've used the information for purposes which have been very beneficial to me. I get messages of support. I make connections with people, and that feels good. I feel that people care about me.

When somebody who I have a romantic interest in starts to read my blog, however, it can make me somewhat paranoid about being judged negatively. Indeed, many people have a very negative view of those who do online dating, believing the online world to be a hotbed of murderers, rapists, sadists, perverts, pedophiles and other unsavoury characters. If you're looking to find out something bad about me, and you're hoping for your worst fears to be confirmed, then there's a lot of material here which can be twisted by the mind of a sad, miserable, negative and mistrusting person, who has no ability to perceive their own flaws and less-than-perfect personality. I make a leap of faith every day by choosing to expose myself and make myself vulnerable, sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings as honestly and candidly as I can. To abuse my trust by twisting my words and turning me into a monster is not very nice, but it's what a lot of people do, because they're looking for reasons to reject, not reasons to connect.

Similarly, prospective employers are looking for reasons to reject, and this is the reason why my blog is not at all compatible with my professional life. There's an unwritten rule in the corporate world, which is that you never talk about your flaws and failures. It would be career-ending if I was to include a link to this blog on my CV or LinkedIn. The contents of this blog is gold dust to the gatekeepers who very much want to see me penniless and destitute; unemployable.

I need companionship and intimacy. I need a job. I have to play by the unwritten rules of society, so that means keeping certain parts of my life under wraps. It would be too much for your average small-minded square to process, and it's almost too much for even the most kind and compassionate, to get beyond the usual knee-jerk reaction which is to reject anybody atypical.

There's nothing I need to tell anybody per se. I don't have any secrets particularly. I'm not trying to cover up a drug habit or pretending to be something I'm not. I'm not trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes. I'm not withholding important or relevant information.

To mistreat people by treating them with suspicion and mistrust is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think somebody's going to let you down or do something bad, you're increasing the likelihood of that happening, because you're ostracising and persecuting that person, just like so many others do too. If you're expecting bad things to happen and you're withholding trust and commitment - refusing to take a leap of faith - there can only be one outcome, ultimately.

I think the decision to have this open document is the right one, but I still need to get laid every now and again.

 

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Context Switching

8 min read

This is a story about screen time...

Phone icons

The button to silence my smartphone has broken so I leave it permanently in "do not disturb" mode, which suits me just fine. Hardly anybody ever phones me except for agents and other cold caller sales types. My time is mostly spent in the 12 apps pictured above. Perhaps I'm not on my smartphone all the time, but essentially I'm context-switching non-stop throughout my waking hours, so I thought that warranted a little examination.

Starting with my 35,225 unread emails, my inbox has gotten rather out of control. Email has become such a victim of its own success that no IT professional I know even uses it anymore - we're all on Slack. Most communication is entirely transient and there's no need to have a record of anything except some kind of chat transcript to catch up on - anything old can be archived and forgotten. I spend all day every day chatting to my colleagues on Slack, including colleagues from organisations where I don't even work anymore.

Messages comprises SMS messages - mostly telling me about voicemails I haven't listened to - and a handful of iMessages from people who aren't using WhatsApp for some reason. WhatsApp deserves special note though, because of the group chats. I was removed from the only group chat I was a member of - discussion between cryptocurrency enthusiasts - and I was usurped by a guy who screwed me over last year when I was on my deathbed, which is kinda besides the point but it galls me.

Instagram I don't actually use very much. I live in a text-based world and the photos I take are in 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio, not 1:1. I don't take very many selfies.

Facebook Messenger is my most active chat app, but I only use it to chat to one person - my guardian angel - and we mainly exchange memes about suicide, mental health problems and the ruined economy. Facebook messenger also makes calls - as do many of the apps - and I occasionally speak to a friend in Poland, which is about the only time I speak to anybody on the telephone.

Recently I've been using Tinder and Bumble in an attempt to meet girls. It adds additional complexity to my context-switching life.

I'm not really sure what I use Facebook for. I do browse through the feed once a day - not on my smartphone - and I occasionally like and comment on things which are especially noteworthy, but I generally try to avoid over-investment in that particular walled garden. I used to share a lot and indeed I've managed to rather make a fool of myself in front of all my friends and scupper my chances of ever working in some organisations, because I dragged my own good name through the mud. I don't put my dirty laundry on Facebook much, only for it to be conspicuously ignored. Instead I write over a million words on my blog and broadcast my ups and downs to thousands of followers and anybody who does Google searches.

I don't use Twitter properly. I don't generally retweet stuff and I don't spend enough time reading the tweets of the 6,000+ people I follow. How anybody could sift through it all I have no idea - Twitter is a pretty noisy place. Generally I just look to see if anybody I know is tweeting about any of the trending topics, and I otherwise rely on an email I receive in the morning each day, which tells me what my favourite people have been up to. I must admit, it's sometimes a struggle to stay on top of my notifications and DMs and then I turn turtle and hide for a while until things quieten down.

I don't bother with LinkedIn much. I don't struggle to find work. I don't much see the point in ploughing much time and effort into my corporate image - I've got a perfectly professional CV and LinkedIn page, and otherwise I rely on my contacts, skills, experience and references to be able to get work when I need it.

I wake up in the morning and I quickly scan through my notifications - mostly Twitter - to see if there have been any comments, which I make a mental note to reply to later in the day. When I get bored around mid-morning, I have a glance at my inbox to see if there's anybody demanding money with menaces or otherwise harassing me. Approaching lunchtime, I might kill a bit of time with Facebook, but I don't want to get too engrossed in my phone when I'm at work. If I'm having a really dreadful day, I might reach out to a couple of friends via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and see if I can get them to send jokes, memes or anything that might provide a moment's distraction from the boredom. After leaving the office and generally before my evening meal, I write a blog post. I often scan through my website analytics to see if there's anything notable going on. If my mind is busy and distracted I frequently find myself flipping between half-watching something on Netflix and several tabs in my browser - a mix of Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes I read the news, but I find that I spend less and less time engaging with current affairs at the moment, because I've been stressed out of my mind with basic survival. A new part of my routine is chatting to girl(s) via the dating apps and if I'm ever lucky enough to get a phone number, then chatting on WhatsApp.

The amount of context switching is pretty remarkable. In any given day I might have to switch between fully professional mode, with colleagues who I want to present with a squeaky-clean corporate-friendly version of myself, and a more relaxed but still guarded version of myself which allows a little bit of my personality to show, but hopefully keeps my bad not-safe-for-work (NSFW) stuff hidden. I might be chatting to somebody who I've known for a long time online who's in a different timezone - ahead or behind - and they'll know an incredible amount of personal stuff about me and we'll be talking very frankly and honestly about everything and everything... then I'll be talking to a girl who I've just started chatting to who doesn't know me at all... then I'll be chatting to work colleagues who I spend 40 hours a week in close proximity with and they think they know me but they don't [and I don't want them to know everything]. Then, there's the image I present and the interactions I have via my blog and social media. and all the people who I have frequent and infrequent contact with, and the different ways I know people. Facebook is a particularly weird melting pot, where former work colleagues mingle with people who I know through kitesurfing, my startup days, the time I was homeless and living in parks and hostels, people who I've just randomly friend requested when I was mentally unwell. Facebook is kinda the worst, because I never know which guise I should be in, so I'm probably too honest and I'm tarnishing my own reputation and good standing that I once had with friends.

My brain has to switch between survival mode - where I've been worried about money, housing, addiction, alcoholism, transport, sex, isolation, suicidal thoughts, self harm, depression, anxiety and odds that have been very much stacked against me - and professional mode - where I'm expected to perform at a very high standard and navigate extremely complicated large organisations and know all the ins and outs of massive and complex software systems and the infrastructure they're deployed on, plus all the many teams and the zillions of people and the processes and procedures - and my digital identity which I'm cultivating - which needs me to compose a blog post every day and stay on top of any replies, messages and emails, and generally keep in touch with an ever-growing list of friends who I've never met in person, but who've been amazingly kind and supportive during rough times - and Mr. Eligible Bachelor mode, which requires me to present myself in the correct sequence, so that I can be understood without at the same time being overwhelming and off-putting.

To some extent my life looks quite simple. I have a job and not much else - I don't socialise and I'm not in a relationship. To the casual observer, all I do is move between my home, the office and a hotel, and I'm always in front of my laptop, tapping away at the keys quite furiously.

I suppose my life is quite simple, if we imagine that my fixation is the screen and the keyboard, but the screen time is a red herring - it's a window to an unimaginably gigantic and complex world of thousands of interactions with people all around the globe.

The context-switching is pretty hard though. I've struggled to stay on top of everything during the last couple of days.

 

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LGBTQQIP2SAA

9 min read

This is a story about individualism...

Disguise

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?

 

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