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

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

All opinions are my own.

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Vile Hateful Little Man

8 min read

This is a story about misanthropy...

Lift selfie

On this day 5 years ago, I tried to help a homeless alcoholic called Frank. I made a lot of notes. As my divorce disrputed my attempt to get my life back on track in London, dragging me back to Bournemouth to empty and sell my house, it destroyed my fragile new life and plunged me into the very world of homeless hell, which I had usefully compiled notes on. I did manage to help Frank, but ironically crosssed paths with him later on - as I was descending into hell, he was well on his way to recovery.

On this day 4 years ago, I got myself off the streets, out of the 14-bed hostel dorm, and back into banking. I went to Barclays, which quickly dug me out of debt and restored some long overdue health, wealth and prosperity to my life.

On this day 3 years ago, I went to HSBC and repeated the same magic trick of managing to get myself back off the streets, out of the hostel, into a lovely Thameside apartment, and out of debt. Feeling like my life was going well, I went to a hackathon to create technology solutions to the refugee crisis.

On this day 2 years ago, I was lying to my girlfriend and my guardian angel, because the project I'd been working on had ended prematurely and I hadn't bothered to get another contract. Instead, I had tried to treat my own depression with medication prescribed by an online pharmacy, destabilising my mental health - inducing hypomania - and causing a subsequent relapse.

On this day last year, I woke up as a resident of Wales for the first time since being born here. The day before, I had been discharged from a psych ward in Manchester, England, following a suicide attempt which was very nearly successful.

I'm pretty upset that divorce was such a destabilising distraction at a time when I desperately needed a clean break, and I'm struggling to forgive and forget my ex-wife and parents sabotaging all my hard work; destroying my chance to follow through with well thought out plans which were subsequenty proven to be correct and successful.

I can blame the Barclays thing not working out on a couple of idiots who got fired for trying to screw me over, but in all truth, I wasn't very stable. I was too outspoken. I didn't keep my mouth shut. I made mistakes in my personal life. I had lapses.

I can blame the HSBC thing not working out on the sheer pressure and workload of working on their number one project, while also dealing with homelessness and cripling debt. I can blame a friend who asked me to help him get a job. I can blame a few loafers who benefitted from my hard work. But, again, I was too outspoken. I wasn't at all stable. I was so exhausted and stressed that I was very strung out and very manic.

I can blame not wanting to immediately get another contract 2 years ago on the fact that the project had been so mind-numbingly spirit-crushingly boring, and I'd been so de-skilled, that I'd lost all self-confidence. I really couldn't face any more of the same awfulness without taking a break. However, it was still my so-called 'choice' to relapse and I knew the consequences were likely to be dire, although I kinda "got away with it" that one time.

I can blame attempting suicide and nearly dying on the fact that I knew instinctively that I was in deep trouble. The contract in Manchester didn't pay enough to get me out of debt. I knew I was going to get shafted by a very unpleasant and immoral wannabe Labour MP, who embodies none of the values of socialism. I was working too hard for too little reward, but I also made bad so-called 'choices' such as getting mixed up with a social group who mostly bonded over recreational drug abuse. There was no way I was going to be able to quit physically addictive sleeping pills, tranqulisers and neuropathic painkillers, as well as working a very demanding job which didn't even pay enough to make any kind of dent in my debts. Suicide was my choice, in the face of overwhelming odds stacked against me.

So, here I am in Wales.

What's going to be different this year?

I'm in approximately the same financial position that I've been in all those previous years. My mental health seems to be the same, swinging between suicidal depression and mania.

Just gotta keep my mouth shut.

Gotta make sure I don't go on any crusades, trying to save anybody.

Put on my own oxygen mask before helping others.

This year is different because I've been working for 10 consecutive months without a major fuck-up. Of course, there have been fuck-ups, but they haven't caused me to lose my contract or otherwise let my client down. I've delivered a couple of projects quite successfully, to the great satisfaction of my clients.

This year is different because I've had an affordable place to live of my own since March, and I don't have anybody mooching off me or otherwise trying to ride my coat tails. I don't have anybody pressurising me to subsidise their laziness and inability to make good on their financial commitments. I don't have anybody using my gas, electric, water, sewerage, council tax and broadband, and running up thousands of pounds worth of rent arrears.

This year is different because I've had contract extensions and managed to have consecutive contracts, such that I've hardly stopped working at all.

This year is different because I've been working on my skills and making myself more confident and employable. I've felt increasingly capable and good at my job, without getting too deep into the territory of delusions of grandeur.

This year is different because the pressure is markedly reduced and the stress levels are more manageable, despite crushing mountainous debts. There have been really awful times - such as renting a place to live - but I seem to be well established in a good routine now, such that I just need to keep turning the pedals.

I drink too much. I'm unfit.

However, in the space of 11 months I'll have managed to buy a car, rent an apartment, pay off £21,000 of debt, and save up enough money to pay a hefty tax bill. I don't enjoy living out of a suitcase, but I'm not slumming it anymore. I've been able to take a weekend break to see old friends in Prague and I have a week-long holiday to Turkey booked, which will be my first proper holiday for over 2 years. I stay in a nice hotel midweek and I eat in a gastropub. This is the self-care aspect, which didn't really get taken care of in previous years. There's no point working as hard as I do unless it's delivering some quality of life; I might as well just kill myself if life's going to be an unrewarding slog.

I sometimes can't believe what comes out of my mouth, in terms of the fucking rage which is somewhat pent-up inside me. This is a summary of the many false starts I've had, and nearly-but-not-quite moments, where it looked like I was going to make a breakthrough and get properly back on my feet. It's incredibly frustrating to repeatedly do the impossible - quitting addictive drugs, getting off the streets, out of the hostels and back into mainstream civilised society, while also dealing with a major mental health problem - and to see that there's nothing wrong with my approach per se. On paper, everything should go perfectly and quickly restore me to health, wealth and prosperity, but it does require a run of good luck, and that luck is very much dependent on the co-operation of other people.

Who do I want to blame? Capitalism? Banking? Bad bosses? Wimmin? Parents? Even friends?

I spend a lot of time writing very aggressive angry stuff.

I can't believe what I write.

Maybe this year won't be any different, because I'm a spoiled overprivileged vile bitter old man, who doesn't take any personal responsibility; I'm too quick to blame others.

We shall see. The story continues.

 

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Mourning Loss

5 min read

This is a story about processing emotions...

Modern art

My premonition was right. I knew things were too good to last. My hope and optimism were misplaced. My fears proved to be well founded. My instincts were correct.

The one thing which remains mostly intact is my home, but yet I feel completely differently about it versus a month or so ago. I'd started to imagine a pleasant summer spent living and working by the seaside, but instead the reality is that I'm having a sink or swim moment. If I stay where I am I'll sink, and to survive I will have to swim like crazy to get back to London. My home doesn't feel like home - I don't know why I came here; I don't know why I am here; I'm not happy to be here.

It feels like I've violently swung from crisis to salvation; boom and bust. My life has been a jagged saw-tooth of highs and lows, which briefly started trending upwards, but I know from bitter experience how quickly and easily the trend can nosedive.

For the briefest moment, I connected with a lot of unprocessed emotion; I cried. Then the tears dried up and I went back to my more usual state of torment: PTSD flashbacks.

It's all piling up... the stuff I haven't dealt with properly. There's a huge mound of grief. How could I possibly start to process all that mess while I'm still in the middle of dealing with the non-stop crisis? The task of finding somewhere to live and work and getting myself on an even keel financially sounds simple and easy enough, but you'd be surprised: you need a run of good luck if you want to succeed.

The places, the friends, the companies, the colleagues, the projects... so many have come and gone and I've retained practically nothing. Money runs through my fingers like fine dry sand: there's been plenty, but of course it's all frittered away just staying alive. It's expensive, staying alive: the rent and the bills and the food and the drink, let alone the cost of transport and clothing and everything else that constitutes part of normal existence.

To mourn money is foolish, but the relationships I've developed with people and places shouldn't be dismissed lightly. Even the tiny city-centre apartment where I tried to kill myself in Manchester, I had developed some emotional attachment to; the city itself - although alien to me - was growing on me slowly. It's rather tragic how I've fallen out of love with my current home town. I'm sure I'll feel differently, in time.

Tomorrow's the last day when anything makes any sense at all. My income comes to an abrupt and early end, which is arguably unexpected and no fault of my own. Why am I here?

13 years ago a picked a seaside town and I imagined the life I wanted to build there. I did it. I got everything I wanted.

Then everything collapsed.

All I knew was that I wanted to get away. I wanted a clean break. I wanted to go back to the only other place I knew and where I'd been happy before: London. I went back to London because I was trying to get away from something, someone... everything that reminded me that my dream had been ruined; sabotaged.

That's been my life for 5 years, more or less: trying to get away from dreadful things. Trying to get away from divorce. Trying to get away from the past. Trying to get away from the sadness and the sense of failure. Trying to get away from the grief.

I've been running for so very long, and the grief has piled up unprocessed. I need to stop and mourn my losses, but I can't because I have to run so damn fast just to stand still.

Where now? What next? I have no idea. Away, away... always away.

It seems easy to blame myself: how much have I self-sabotaged? In truth though, how hard have I worked to give things their very best possible chance of success? If you want me to blame myself, fine, but I don't see how I could've done any more to tip the odds in my favour, and try to make things work. Yes, I've made bad choices and done regrettable things, but without a steady supply of paid work everything else falls apart.

Maybe I could succumb to 'magical thinking' and imagine that things would have been different if I'd approached life with more positive mental attitude. Maybe if I hadn't pre-empted disaster, the disaster would never have happened. It's folly: of course the bad things that were going to happen were always going to happen.

So I guess if there's one over-riding feeling at the moment, it must be a sense of loss. I'm sad that another potential nice pleasant life fell to pieces, and I'm left wondering where the hell it all went wrong.

 

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I'm Sick of Moving

9 min read

This is a story about putting down roots...

Cardboard boxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No girlfriend. No job.

Gone off the place a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Poison Pen

7 min read

This is a story about pseudonyms...

Front door

I've moved house. I now live at the following address:

Mr Nick "Manic" Grant
Number One
Wales
United Kingdom

Send me a letter. I'm sure it'll get delivered. Pay me a visit sometime. Search for my address on Google Maps to see where I live.

The man who has nothing has nothing to lose.

I got used to the anonymity of London; the urban solitude; the crowds. I got used to my life being completely destroyed. I was always closer to death and destitution than I was to recovery and happiness, so I didn't care about my privacy. In fact I really did care about my privacy: specifically I didn't want to have any privacy, because I wanted the world to know all the reasons why my life was falling to pieces. I wanted witnesses. I wanted people to understand why I was dying or dead.

Things are different now.

When I recovered in London and got off the streets and back into civilised society, I still wasn't part of a community. In fact, I lost the community that I belonged to. I used to be a member of the homeless community, but then I got a nice apartment and I was no longer homeless. Twice I got myself off the streets and into a place of my own. Twice I dug myself out of a deep hole and sorted myself out... perhaps even three times. Each time everything fell to pieces.

I leapt at the chance to move to Manchester because I was homeless and bankrupt. I found a kind of community in Manchester... a community of addicts. That wasn't good.

When I was offered the chance to move to Wales, I was homeless and running out of money fast, and I was a patient on a locked hospital psych ward. In Wales I have found a community. It's a small place. People know each other. There are fewer degrees of separation. There isn't the anonymity of a giant city with millions of inhabitants. London has 9 or 10 million people. Manchester has the best part of 3 million people. That's more than the entire population of Wales.

I've made numerous assumptions about people's ability to make connections. I've assumed that by not mentioning names, places, dates etc. then I've managed to obfuscate anything that would allow anybody to be identified. I've assumed that nobody would have any idea who I'm talking about - or ever be able to discover who I'm talking about - when I write "my friends" or "my girlfriend" for example. I've steered clear of using the initial of the first or last name, or anything else that might be vaguely identifying.

Having lived out my life publicly on the pages of this blog for the best part of 3 years, I'm quite used to having visitors from all over the world reading my stuff. It's quite normal for me to tell the entire world all the gory details of my murky past and dodgy deeds. I'm pretty transparent; an open book.

Somebody from where I work has found my blog. I've upset some people who are very important to me, inadvertently, by writing something that I have subsequently deleted. To refer to these events is a risk. Those people will be able to identify themselves even if nobody else would ever be able to discover who I'm talking about. I guess my work colleague - for example - is thinking "how the hell?" and feeling a little spied on. My justification for writing whatever the hell I want has always been that you chose to come here and read all about me, which kinda means I'm allowed to know that you've been reading. If you have an opinion about me, I'll have an opinion about you... and I might share that opinion, although anonymised so only you know who I'm talking about.

Upon reflection, I've got too much to lose. I like my friends, my girlfriend, my job, my apartment. My life is going OK and we're coming into spring. My mood is improving. The future looks really great. Things are going really well now that I've overcome a whole heap of super-duper stressful stuff. Upon reflection, I'm no longer the man who has nothing, who has nothing to lose.

When I was down on my luck, I had no responsibilities because I couldn't handle any responsibilities. I didn't owe anybody anything, because I didn't have anything. I'd lost everything, which liberated me. I'm no longer liberated. I have to act responsibly.

I need to treat friends with respect. I need to treat my girlfriend with respect. I need to treat the local community with respect. I need to treat my colleagues with respect. I need to treat my profession with respect. My conduct needs to completely change from the kind of conduct that was appropriate for a destitute homeless guy with mental health problems, into conduct more befitting of the fine upstanding member of society that I'm now supposed to exemplify.

It's a transition period. I need to move from the old world to the new paradigm, where my life is improving and I've got lots of good things that I want to hang onto. I'm bound by the Official Secrets Act, as if to remind me that my old life of writing whatever the hell I wanted is now over.

I'm not sure how I'm going to use my blog as a healthy coping mechanism anymore, but I've just been through one of the most ridiculously stressful periods of my life, and it literally nearly killed me - I'm not being hyperbolic. I hope that I'm naturally not going to need to write "cry for help" or "angry rant" type pieces to dissipate the negative emotions and avoid killing myself. I hope that one day this might change from being a suicide note to something else. I have hope. I'm working towards a brighter, happier future.

There are going to be bumps in the road, I'm sure, but I really don't want to piss off my friends, girlfriend or work colleagues. Obviously, I have those people in my life and it might be unavoidable to mention them using those anonymised monikers, but I'm not going to be writing about them if you know what I mean. It'd be nice if can hang onto some of the good things I've gained in my life. It'd be nice if I can start to grow my group of friends rather than continuing the destructive patterns.

I doubt I'm going to write under a pen name; a pseudonym. I'm loud and I'm proud. This is the journey I've been on and I'm good at what I do. Why should I hide? Why should I be anonymous?

However, I appreciate that most other people are at completely the opposite end of the privacy/openness spectrum from me, and don't appreciate even the tiniest little things being splurged all over the pages of the internet, no matter how anonymised they are. Though I can't fully relate, I can respect those wishes and attempt to change my wicked ways. Sorry.

 

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