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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.


Summer's Here

4 min read

This is a story about unseasonably good weather...

Sun tan lotion

While my colleagues have been enjoying Easter holidays, it's been 4 months since I took some time off work. Having the long 4-day Easter weekend was very pleasant, and there are two more long weekends in May. The Easter bank holiday weekend was particularly nice because it was sunny and warm.

A friend asked if I'd like to join him and his family for a picnic in the park, which I thought was madness, given that we're still in April and the nights can be decidedly cold. However, it was very pleasantly warm, even as the sun started to go down.

During the daytime over the Easter weekend, it felt most summery indeed. My skin is pretty tolerant of the UK sun, so I didn't really need sun tan lotion, but I was able to wear flip-flops and sunglasses, with short sleeves, and it felt like summer.

Summer is my favourite time of year.

There are a number of juggling balls I've got midair at the moment. Work, house, relationships, friendships, money, car, bills and admin... the usual crap that almost everybody has to worry about. Somehow, I'm managing to keep all the plates spinning reasonably well at the moment, which bodes very well for having a good summer.

Last year, a catastrophic chain of events screwed up my job, my relationships, some friendships, and put my whole situation - regarding housing and finances - into jeopardy. I got very sick and I was worried I was going to lose everything: my life is fragile.

This year, my approach has been exactly the same: I'm working hard on an important IT project, I have a place to live which I like, dating is going well, I'm starting to make friends, my finances are in good shape - things are looking extremely promising, but I know how quickly everything can crumble.

Last year, I ended up snatching a couple of days away with a good friend - a boy's trip away - which was amazing, but my life had been destabilised and my future was uncertain. By the time the summer arrived, I didn't feel in a position to enjoy it at all, and in fact I hardly saw the sunshine at all. When a new job came along, I took it immediately and worked all summer, including the day of my birthday.

Although I have had a very good run of luck, including a fantastic holiday over the Christmas and New Year period, I feel like I would like to celebrate my achievements and hard work by going away on holiday for my birthday. It's a little extravagant and it's an avoidable expense, but I feel like it would be great to have a summer break, to recharge the batteries ready for the long slog through to the autumn.

Perhaps it's not necessary to go abroad. A staycation can be just as great as going overseas. In fact, the UK is fantastic if you're lucky with the weather. Certainly, the Easter bank holiday weekend felt like being on holiday in a country with a much better climate than our own fair shores.

I guess it's something to aim for; something a little bit more exciting than domestic purchases of boring things for around the house. It feels like a way of psychologically declaring 2019 to be "a good year" which is important to me, given the number of "bad years" I've had. It hasn't been since 2016 that things were going smoothly in my life, when I went away for a lovely holiday to celebrate my birthday.

There's something really nice about having a holiday when things are going well - to be settled at home, in a relationship, work going well, financially secure, social interaction and other things which make life bearable - is important if you're going to be able to relax and enjoy yourself.

My life is becoming increasingly good, especially considering how much I was struggling with stress and anxiety very recently. I was overwhelmed and too exhausted, depressed and anxious to think about doing nice things, but now the landscape is starting to look very different.


Of course, I must say that I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I'm in, and I'm trying not to feel "entitled" to things, but it's no accident that I'm in the situation I'm in - there has been hard work, struggle and suffering to endure, so I don't feel too guilty about planning a nice holiday for myself, to celebrate my birthday in July.




British Summer Time

4 min read

This is a story about the tyranny of alarm clocks...


Before the clocks sprang forwards I had bludgeoned my body clock into co-operating with the social jetlag imposed upon me by society. Society is run in favour of "early birds" not "night owls" despite there being a 50/50 split between each different genetic variant. If you want to earn decent money for doing easy work, then you have to suffer the torture and torment of complying with hours of business which are incompatible with your body clock - it sucks.

Because I am unafraid to prescribe myself whatever medications I need, I have access to sleeping pills, which are a fantastic invention for "night owls" like myself, who are coerced into working office hours which are fundamentally incompatible with my DNA. It's as if I was a coeliac forced to eat exclusively gluten-containing foods, when there are plenty of other foods available but they're all prohibitively expensive. I could get a job which would better suit my body clock, but I would have to take an 80% pay cut, or maybe even more than that. Sleep medication has provided me with a solution to end the torture which I had to endure for the best part of 20 years.

The clock change - to British Summer Time - has been shockingly disruptive to my routine. Before the clocks changed I was waking up before my alarm clock and getting into work early, with great ease. Now my alarm clock jolts me out of my peaceful slumbers and I am immediately filled with dread at the prospect of having to leave my bed. One hour does not sound like a huge amount, but an extra hour in bed is hugely beneficial to my health, given that my body clock is not compatible with "early bird" office hours, at a fundamental physical genetic level.

To live in a perpetually jet-lagged state is torturous, and I am angry about capitalism's tyranny, in forcing me to comply with its schedule, rather than my own body's schedule. I'm handsomely financially rewarded for the suffering, but it often seems like inadequate recompense for the unpleasantness of every single morning, which I have to endure.

Further disruption to my schedule has been seen in my writing, where I completely forgot to write a blog post one day - it feels like I have less time in the evenings to do everything I need and want to do, after work. It feels like I have nowhere near enough time to deal with essential admin, do chores, write my blog, catch up with friends and get to bed early enough to avoid sleep deprivation.

I'm attempting to shift my body clock to the new schedule, but it's not a quick process.

I'm also attempting to reduce my dosage of sleeping tablets, which means it takes longer for me to fall asleep, and my sleep quality is much reduced. I was very late to work on Monday, Tuesday was a struggle, and today was OK but still not wonderful. I hope that by the beginning of next week my body clock will begin to comply with the new regime.

As far as having an "extra hour" of daylight after work, it is very nice to be driving home earlier, but it's still pretty chilly and the weather is changeable, so I don't yet feel enthusiastic about being outdoors in the evenings. It's going to be a while before the temperatures lift enough for me to think about making use of the local parks, or perhaps cycling somewhere. Given how little time I have for the essentials - such as meal preparation - I can't see that I'll be doing much with my evenings, while the start to my day is so painful: the alarm clock is such a rude intrusion on my sleep.

It might seem inconceivable that a single man with no children should complain about having no spare time, but my primary concern is getting enough sleep to make my 9 to 5 office job bearable enough that I don't lose my mind. It's essential that I keep in the routine of my job, because it provides the money which is digging me out of a hole, and it provides the stability which is useful for my health and wellbeing.

Ultimately, I still want to find a way to make life work for me, and no longer be tyrannised and coerced into the unpleasantness and boredom of the bullshit world of an office job, but a great deal of compromise is necessary for the foreseeable future, so I shall have to put up with it.




Paper Trial

7 min read

This is a story about being swamped by bureaucracy...


Once my administrative affairs are in a neat and tidy state, it's not too hard to stay on top of things. As various demands for money with menaces arrive, I can deal with them more-or-less on the spot, and my life ticks over with only a small amount of time required each day to open mail and pay bills, or complete other bureaucratic tasks.

Moving house, especially as a business owner, is a seismic event.

The more frequently a person moves, the more the administrative burden grows, until it becomes almost unbearable. Each previous address requires a significant amount of effort, to convince the various suppliers of gas, electricity, council services, broadband, telephone, water, sewerage, home insurance and a billion other things, that you are no longer liable for the bills. Each new address immediately demands that some payment is made in advance, and it is a very manual process to automate the collection of future payments, such that bills don't become a monthly ordeal.

As a business owner, I have a responsibility to change the adress on no fewer than 5 different government services, which ensure that I am compliant with taxes and my duties to the public to be transparent as a director and shareholder.

As a car owner, I have a responsibility to ensure my drivers license has my current address, my car is also registered at the correct address and my insurance is updated to the current address.

All kinds of things like mobile phone contracts, bank accounts, life insurance policies, home insurance policies, subscriptions to various services and other similar stuff, all has to be changed to my new address.

If I want to visit a doctor or a dentist, I will have to register locally, and they will want to see some proof of address.

The administrative burden of being a British Citizen is bad enough, but the deeper into civilised society you get, the greater the amount of work is required to handle all the consequences of moving house. Failure to remember any one of the very many things - such as a TV license - can result in huge fines for non-compliance with the duty we have to keep our records up-to-date and stay on top of all the millions of letters which get sent every day, demanding money with menaces.

I accept that I receive a great deal of services in return for my money, but because my life is supported by a patchwork-quilt of organisations, each making their own unique demands to be dealt with and paid in different ways, the complexity and effort involved becomes quite staggering.

For some segments of society, they are paid in cash, they pre-pay their gas and electric by loading "credit" onto a key, which they slot into the meter in their house, they buy mobile phone credit in shops, and otherwise they're relatively free from the burden of the very many organisations which I regularly have to deal with. Moving house, for some people, is as simple as moving their stuff - nobody will be chasing them for money, simply because they forgot to tell anybody they were moving out.

When my life became chaotic, I got very badly behind on my administrative duties, but I did manage to avoid total disaster. My paperwork is a dreadful mess, but I can find the relevant pieces of paper that I need, eventually. The process of getting on top of things is extremely distressing, but I usually manage to make the effort required before I'm overwhelmed with punitive fines and costs added by organisations, who seek to profit from people who are swamped by the unfair burden placed on individuals.

Individually, the demands being made do not seem unreasonable, but cumulatively it becomes an absolute nightmare. I count 24 items on my todo list for today alone, all of which are urgent and essential, and delays would be very costly. If I was unwell for a month or two, I could easily be financially ruined by the bloodsucking parasites who hope to profit handsomely from a mental collapse; the circling vultures.

I opened two letters which recently arrived, and was gobsmacked to see demands for £3,000 worth of services I haven't even received yet plus I have decided to defer other costs which most people would consider essential, such as insuring the contents of my home. When I add up all the charges I'll have to pay, for example for getting a new driving license and for changing my car insurance address, it amounts to a sum of money which would be financially ruinous for most ordinary people. No wonder so many are in financially distressed situations, having to borrow from loan-shark payday lenders just to cover ordinary everyday household expenses.

I am fortunate that my dogged determination to protect my credit rating and persevere through a period of illness which would have seen me bankrupted, unemployable, unable to rent a home and unable to get gas & electric supplied - plus all the other unseen consequences of having a black mark against your name - has now seen me emerge from a very precarious period in a much more financially robust situation, where I won't be forced to borrow money to cover unexpected expenses, I hope.

It seems like a very rigged system. Those who are struggling are very harshly punished, further compounding their misery and stress, and destroying any hope they might have of escaping their predicament.

I don't understand why it's not possible for me to simply put a vast sum of money into a bucket and let the bloodsuckers and the vultures squabble over who has a valid claim for it. It upsets me that such a heavy burden falls on me to do the work of figuring out all this crap for these organisations, lest they inflate their demands for money so much that they'll ruin me, despite my ability to pay - I'm able and willing to pay, but for god's sake make it easy for me, can't you?

The pile of mail that's accumulated in my new house, even though I've not yet told anybody I've moved, is quite frightening. The complexity of running a modern life is too much, on top of the demands of commuting and working a full-time job. It's unfair to ask a single person with no support, to plough through the bureaucratic bullshit.

I can see why people kill themselves over seemingly trivial things. Life is pretty easy when you have a settled and secure home life and everything is set up so that it ticks over with almost zero intervention, but you must understand that life's not like that for me - I'm swamped with paperwork, and a single error can easily be compounded to result in a demand for life-destroying sum of money, once all the bloodsuckers and vultures have added their unreasonable fees.

It might seem silly to worry about "just a bit of admin" but in actual fact, it determines my entire life outcome. To ignore any one single thing could cause a cascading catastrophe, and see me destitute, homeless; ruined. Living with constant housing insecurity is unimaginably awful, compounded by the ridiculous situation of all the various organisations making competing demands all at once.

I'm in the depths of admin hell.




Adjustment Disorder

7 min read

This is a story about provocation...


I suppose the reason why my episodes of mania synchronise perfectly with periods of high stress and exhaustion, is some kind of defence mechanism - perhaps an evolutionary adaptation; something deliberately left in my genes, because it's served a useful purpose during unsettled times throughout the history of humanity.

It's problematic for me to work in an open-plan office at the moment. It's problematic for me to be surrounded by so many mild-mannered and quiet individuals, who seem happy to spend all day looking at their email inbox, waiting for something interesting to appear.

How my colleagues manage to cope in an environment that's pretty stale and ultra-conservative, I don't know. Big personalities and loudmouths are not the kinds of people who become long-serving members of my organisation. In fact, a girl I dated from my office said she cried when she got her security pass, because its expiry date was 10 years in the future. "Nobody would choose to work here" she said.

It's not that bad.

I like it.

I'm just not so sure that everyone who's within earshot of me is my greatest fan. I have a foghorn-like voice in two situations: 1) when I'm scared and insecure, and 2) when I'm manic, like I am now.

I suppose I knew that mania was cropping up - rearing its ugly head - but it served a purpose. I needed to find a place to live and make all the necessary moving preparations. I needed to continue to work hard at my job, while also finding the extra energy and the motivation to do something I hate: Moving.

The mania has propelled me to move very fast, but it also causes my brain to speed up dangerously. A colleague told a joke about friction coefficients - a classical physics joke - and I said I could come up with a better one about quantum mechanics, in only a few seconds. According to my colleague, it took me no more than 15 seconds to invent a "XXX walks into a bar..." type joke, which was actually pretty good considering I thought of it on the spot AND it involved two really fundamental things about quantum mechanics. Nothing to do with Schrödinger and his cats, but actually to do with Planck and his constant... but I digress... both jokes have a very small audience who'd appreciate them.

I'm fizzing and crackling with so much energy at the moment that I'm physically uncomfortable to be around. I think I'm literally giving people near me headaches.

One of the first things I said this morning was "do chairs really exist?" which was supposed to be funny, but my colleagues reaction was to tell me it was too early to start talking about philosophy.

I didn't get to sleep until 3:30am or maybe even 4am.

Does the lack of sleep cause the mania, or is the insomnia a symptom of the mania? It's impossible to know.

It's not like I couldn't sleep, but I can't see how else I can fit everything into the 24 hours of the day, without some late nights. I know that I need regular bedtimes. I know I need lots of sleep. But, there's so much to do.

The busier I am, the more productive I am, strangely. Today I did all kinds of horrible jobs that I wasn't looking forward to, like buying a washing machine, booking a van to move my stuff, arranging to have broadband internet installed, arranging to have my post redirected and a zillion other admin jobs, but I also managed to do a piece of work that I'd been putting off for days and days.

Where I'm finding the energy from to maintain my daily writing, as well as the development of NickBot™ and the migration of my website from one hosting provider to another, I have no idea, considering that I also have a demanding full-time job and I waste at least 50% of my time saying stupid things out loud and distracting people.

I guess I was wasting a lot of time and energy on a bad relationship, so escaping that has released me from a lot of pointlessly exhausting nonsense. I was very trapped. I was very miserable.

I'm very stressed now and I felt momentarily like I was very alone, but perhaps that's what prompted me into a frenzy of activity, sending out lots of messages to people I care about, trying to surround myself with people who care about me. There's a horrible period of stress approaching rapidly - moving day, and subsequent days - but I'm pretty well prepared for it, which I'm surprised about, because I can often become too overwhelmed by anxiety to even leave my bed. I'm surprised that depression hasn't laid me low.

All of my psychiatric problems can be considered acute: i.e. they have been spontaneously provoked into existence by the extreme set of life circumstances that I'm simultaneously dealing with. This is adjustment disorder which is just another way of saying "your life is hell right now" and that quite rightly, my brain and body are compensating for the extreme demands placed upon me.

I'm pretty terrified right now, of screwing up the good relationship I have with my colleagues and my workplace. People have been patient with me, but that patience is wearing thin. It's unusual for a manic episode to last so long, but I've managed to keep myself sustained for periods of 6, 8 and even 13 weeks before... but it always led to a horrible crash. There have always been disastrous consequences for allowing too much of my mania to overspill into the open-plan offices which I work in.

I try to rein myself in. I try to put my headphones in and keep my head down. But, then somebody wants to ask me something. Then I overhear something and my red-hot brain which is travelling at a million miles an hour immediately sparks off and I'm talking - interjecting - with something which I think is profound, but nobody can keep up with me... I'm just acting a bit weird and annoying, from the point of view of my colleagues.

I'm working from home for a couple of days. I'm going to try to pace myself and remind myself that I've got a nice long overlap of my tenancies, so I don't have to move everything all at once. If I forget anything, I can always make more trips. There's no need for me to put so much pressure on myself.

I'm pushing hard in every area of my life, simultaneously. I want my colleagues to think I'm a brilliant genius who can do anything. I want my perfect house, fully furnished and looking beautiful. I want to feel instantly at home in a city which I've barely visited. I want my side project - this website - to make a giant leap forward, in terms of technology.

It's too much, and there will be a price to be paid.

I need to be super careful.

I can't afford to lose my job, for example.

I can't afford to lose anything, in fact.

Everything teeters dangerously on a cliff edge.

But, I've kind of gotten used to living on the edge.

If nothing else, at least this period is quite life-affirming and I'm coping remarkably well. Even when I got in trouble with the big boss the other day, I managed to rescue things very rapidly and get back on good terms. Even when I wasted days and days procrastinating, I caught up very rapidly. Even when I felt that there was too much to do in too little time, to move house without dying of stress and anxiety, everything seems to be falling into place.

I've written twice as much as I meant to, of course, because I can't quite rein myself in; I can't quite pump the brakes and slow myself down.

So long as I keep doing what my colleagues are doing, which is mostly killing time looking busy, then I'll probably get through this difficult period without doing too much damage. Less is more.




The Banality of Existence

4 min read

This is a story about the less glamorous jobs...

Car tyre

Some very simple things in my life are surprisingly difficult to organise and cause a great deal of anxiety. The accumulation of things which most people would consider trivial, is a consequence of a phase of my life which I should not probably be living through.

Those who have stuck together with their peer group, going through school, further education, higher eduction, university and forays into academic realms beyond, have had a well-trodden path to follow, which has made it extremely easy to go along with the herd.

Society corrals us through life, into jobs, relationships, and the process of "settling" somewhere. We become attached to a place, either because it's where close family live, where we spent the bulk of our time studying, or perhaps because it was where we spent the bulk of our career.

The weight of expectation placed upon us by our families, friends and the media, pushes us towards marriage and children.

We're carried along by a rapidly flowing river, with the currents too strong for us to swim against. The bulk of our destiny is inevitable, not free will or choice, like we would like to believe.

My car needs servicing, I need a haircut, I need a new belt, there is administrative paperwork which must be submitted to a government agency, there are numerous annual insurance policies which require renewal. I am continually harried and harassed for my time and money, by an unending queue of people who won't leave me in peace.

I try to comply with the demands of so-called 'normal' society but I find that there are gatekeepers everywhere, intent on frustrating me, delaying me, or thwarting me altogether.

I attempt to do my job to the best of my abilities, and I feel guilty about doing non-work tasks during my working day. I attempt to invest time each day in relationships outside my workplace: friends and family. Once commuting time, meal preparation time, housework time, washing time, hygiene time and all the other mandatory deductions from my leisure time have been made, there are then the other tasks: The letters to open, which no doubt demand money with menaces, or require me to fill in some ridiculous form and mail it, so that a bureaucrat somewhere can justify their job.

My photo album contains a depressing number of photographs which are not of pleasant things I've observed, but do in fact contain details I need for the operation of a fairly simple and humble life. The picture above is of one of my tyres, so that I could find a place to fit my car with the correct ones.

My photo album contains numerous pictures of my passport, driving license, bank statements, utility bills, council tax bills and other official documents, which are regularly demanded as proof of my identity. I spend my life perpetually proving that I exist and satisfying other demands of gatekeepers, who would prefer to see me homeless, penniless and destitute.

I suppose I'm not alone in this farcical existence, but it gives me little comfort to know that many of us - those who don't have the security of a permanent job and the ownership of our home - are constantly asked to jump through so many hoops.

My perceptions might be warped, but I feel like I'm more time poor than ever, which isn't supposed to be the case for a childless man who has been working a full-time career for over two decades.

I'll stop moaning now and get back to my administrative tasks.




Employment Status

5 min read

This is a story about fitting neatly in a box...


"Are you in full-time employment, part-time employment, self-employed, full-time student, retired or unemployed?" the person on the end of the phone is asking me. What should I reply?

Technically, I'm in full-time employment. Let's proceed with that conversation and see how we get on, shall we?

"OK. Can I have your manager's name or somebody who we can contact to verify your employment and your salary, please?" the person on the end of the phone asks. What should I reply?

Technically, I'm employed by the board of directors. Given that I'm the managing director - the CEO - then the reply is that they should contact me to verify my employment and my salary. Let's see how we get on with that, shall we?

"I don't understand, sir. Are you self-employed?"

Technically I am not self-employed. I have an employment contract with a company and I get paid a salary by that company. The company which employs me is a legal entity, which was incorporated, has memorandums and articles of association, a board of directors (me), shareholders (me) as well as employees (also me). The company has its own bank account, compiles and submits annual accounts to the relevant authorities, and operates as a limited company, which is very different to being "self employed". I'm going to tell them I'm not self-employed, because that would be fraudulent. Let's see how we get on, shall we?

"OK. Who should we write to who can verify your employment and your salary? Do you have a human resources department?"

Technically the company does have a human resources department, as well as every other department that a person might imagine exists in an organisation - finance, accounts payable, accounts receivable, sales, marketing, IT, operations, admin, customer support etc. etc. - so this person on the phone could certainly write to one of these departments. Let's see if they'd like to write to my accountant and see how we get on with that, shall we?

"So your accountant can confirm your employment and your salary?"

Technically, anybody can confirm my appointment as company director, because it's a matter of public record. My salary is not the same as my financial compensation so we're going to have to have that particularly difficult conversation now. Let's see how we get on, shall we?

"So how much do you earn each month?"

Technically, I could earn £702 in one month and 20 times that amount the next. My financial compensation is based upon the company's profits, which are variable, and it's the decision of the board of directors as to when dividends will be paid and how much they will be. Let's try explaining that, shall we?

"So you're self-employed? Or do you work in sales? I don't understand"

Technically, part of my job is sales, in that I am responsible for selling my company's consultancy services. I do not, however, "work in sales". My financial compensation is not based on commission or targets or any of that other crap. I am not self-employed and I am getting rather frustrated about having to repeat myself with this person on the end of the phone.

I could relent, and either misrepresent myself as "employed" with a salary based on my average earnings over the past 3 years, or I could misrepresent myself as "self-employed" which is going to result in them asking me to show them detailed account statements, proving a steady stream of income.

What I really want is for the person on the end of the phone to understand that I'm in the box marked "other" and the way to find out what they really want to know - can I afford to make a monthly payment? - can be answered by my chartered accountant, who's professionally obliged to give truthful and accurate answers.

That I have to answer these questions at all comes about whether buying a car on finance, applying for a loan, applying for a mortgage or even changing from one mortgage provider to another. Given that even the wealthiest amongst us are not able to afford their houses without at least some part mortgaged, the neat set of boxes, which do not include "other" causes a lot of stress and hassle - it's surprisingly difficult to navigate parts of society, where most other people do neatly fit into one of the boxes.

Obviously I hope to one day be rich enough to buy a house in cash - which will probably be a tiny cabin in the woods - but for the time being I'm forced to suffer this arduous form-filling exercise and rigmarole with people on the telephone, who are using systems which are unable to cope with us "others".

Perhaps this is capitalism's way of nudging me towards a minimum-wage McJob, just so I can avoid this kind of hassle.




Never Be Grateful For A Job

5 min read

This is a story about profit...


If you work in a free market capitalist economy, the company you work for is run for maximum profitability. In order to maximise profits, a company will have the fewest possible admin staff it can, to keep overheads low, whilst also having as many revenue generating staff members as the demand for the company's products and services can support. There are no jobs that are created, solely for the benefit of the employee.

Think about it: if you were to quit, the things that you do wouldn't be getting done. If you're in an administrative function, perhaps that means bills not getting paid, invoices not being issued or regulatory requirements not being met. Sooner or later your business is going to get shut down if it neglects its backoffice functions. If you're in a sales function, that means less revenue for the business. Less revenue means less turnover, which lowers the company's valuation, making it harder for them to raise money for expansion. Less revenue means lower profits, meaning less champagne at the shareholders' annual meeting and tough questions asked of the board of directors.

Your salary is a payment for your time. Your time is then used to enable the company to continue to trade, or to make it directly more profitable. Your salary is offset by profits. Your salary is not a gift, out of the kindness of the heart of your boss. Your salary is way less than the profit that somebody else will pocket, for your efforts. Your salary is a price worth paying because the things that you do while at work will generate more money than it costs to employ you.

The business of employing people, is the process of getting somebody to do something instead of you doing it, but you get to keep a proportion of the fruits of their labour. The profit generated is many, many times more than the cost of the wages.

And so, we have described the ragged trousered philanthropists. It is the workers who are generously donating the vast proportion of the fruits of their labour, to an idle wealthy elite who employ them. The wages of those who toil at the bottom of the pyramid scheme, are inadequate to pay for high quality housing, the education of their children and nutritious food. Instead, the people who pick your vegetables and build your houses, and generally give themselves arthritic joints, bad backs and knackered knees, are left with ill health and a pittance of a pension when they are so overworked that they can no longer remain in the workforce.

But, we are told, you should count yourself lucky to have a job!

Lucky? Lucky? Oh, how terribly fortunate that I have enabled members of the board of directors to buy another yacht, or to purchase another rare artwork to hang on the walls of their mansion. La-de-da, how lucky I am to have been able to plump up the trust funds and offshore bank balances of rich shareholders.

But, there's nothing to stop the likes of you or I from quitting our jobs, and starting our own companies, is there?

Well, there are economies of scale and there are monopolies. Certain businesses will not be very profitable for the likes of you or I, because they have a low gross margin. When a company grows very large through acquisitions, swallowing up all of its competitors, it is better placed to capitalise on a market, because it's a dominant player. Also, the cost of administrative, legal and tax obligations as percentage of the overall running costs, is much lower for the very large company, which makes it more profitable.

When a company becomes very large indeed, it is even able to headquarter itself in a country with a favourable tax deal, so all the wealth that is generated by those ragged-trousered philanthropists, flows out of the country where they live and work, so even their public services become deprived of their vital cash.

Yes, you must consider yourself lucky to be able to have grown your company so large that it is able to cheat even the government out of the taxes that would pay for higher quality housing, healthcare and eduction, that would at least be some recompense for the fact that you see such a tiny share of the profit that you generate.

But don't companies offer their staff share options, and bonuses? No. These schemes are just scams to buy your loyalty cheaply. Share options cost far less than offering an attractive salary that would keep you with the company. When you really look into how much money you're going to make when you can finally exercise the options, you will see that your employer has bought your loyalty extremely cheaply.

The pips have been squeezed too much, and the wealth has not been shared. Large companies have not made the societal contributions that we must all make - taxes - to prevent the ordinary workers from suffering a drop in living standards. Education, healthcare, public transport, housing: these things are all chronically underfunded, while the mega-rich are opulently wealthy, living in a totally different world from those who toil tirelessly to add yet more zeros onto obscene bank balances.

It's time to soak the rich, not be grateful for our jobs.




101 days clean: Bankrupt to Bankrolled

6 min read

This is a story about bouncing a dead cat...

St James Park

How does one break an addiction to supercrack and benzodiazepines? How does one go from certain bankruptcy, destitution, madness... back to normal life, complete with 9 to 5, Monday to Friday office routine and all the outward appearance of having one's shit together?

Well, it's not through abstinence.

I tapered off the benzos, using a combination of, Zopiclone, Diazepam, Nitrazepam, Mirtazepine, Valerian and bucketloads of wine.

Getting off the supercrack meant simply hitting a brick wall of depression, lethargy and anhedonia. I could have used weaker stimulants to stop myself from going off a cliff edge, but I just sucked up the cognitive impairment, extreme exhaustion, and rebound depression.

Because I abstained from all stimulants for nearly 3 months, I've been able to re-addict myself to caffeine in the last couple of weeks, in order to limp myself through the difficult period of getting back into the working routine.

I now have a flat white coffee every morning, pre 10am, and I sometimes have wine in the evenings, although I have pretty much managed to cut out midweek drinking. Ideally, I'd just like to drink on a Wednesday night when I meet up with a friend at the pub, and on Friday & Saturday nights.

However, it's not adequate. I'm struggling to get up in the mornings, even though I addicted myself to coffee with the idea that it would be a 'treat' for getting up and going to work, and incorporating addiction into my routine would mean that I'm kinda addicting myself to work. But it hasn't worked.

In the evenings, I could easily polish off one, two bottles of wine. Bizarrely, I find it easier to get up in the morning with a stinking hangover than I do when I'm stone cold sober. However, alcohol is a horrendous drug for your health. I hope that perhaps my brain is still getting used to life without tranquillisers. Coming off benzos is the most horrible thing that can happen to anybody, ever. Imagine just feeling on edge, anxious, the whole frigging time.

I'm not sure what I can do to lift my mood. I've flipped my suicidal thoughts from being something I felt all day, when I was at work, to now being something that I feel as I repeatedly press the 'snooze' button and hide under the duvet, putting off the start of the day.

I literally feel in two minds whether I'm going to get up and have a shower, or get up, run a hot bath and go fetch a sharp knife in order to slit my veins.

Things are supposed to get easier, aren't they? I keep waiting for my mood to lift, for the anxiety to dissipate, for the days to go quicker, for the routine to feel sustainable, for the demotivation and lack of enthusiasm to subside, for energy to return, to start enjoying things again. I'm still waiting.

I've tried to give myself some things to look forward to, to give me some light at the end of the tunnel, but perhaps I've been too ambitious in putting them way off in the future. My perception of time is totally warped. Weeks seem like months, years even.

I keep telling myself I gave my brain a hell of a beating, and it will recover in time. I'm so close to giving in and marching to the doctor for some happy pills, and some medically sanctioned tranquillisers, as opposed to just continuing to drink far too much alcohol.

This is the difference with this recovery: I've decided to do whatever works, and ignore the bad advice of people who've never been there, never done it, don't know what it's like. I'm ignoring all the failures - the pill-poppers and alcohol abusers - who hypocritically tell me that I'm doing it wrong, despite their own substance dependencies.

Complacency is a big danger, and I keep having scary moments where I become aware that addictions don't die easily, they just hide in your subconscious and try to tell you that life is terrible and you should just give up and relapse.

I found myself having dreams about using drugs, and thinking about how I could maybe employ strategies to use drugs in moderation, but I've been around the block enough times now to know that those are just addict's lies we tell ourselves, as we backslide into addiction.

It feels like cravings have well and truly gone, but what's left instead is a miserable life of quiet desperation, where I'm barely able to get through the day without thoughts of suicide or running away to Timbuktu.

It's all too much to bear, rebuilding your life. It takes so long. There are so many things you take for granted, in your ordered existence. Rehabilitation is just that: so many things are neglected, broken.

Something as simple as changing your address on all your post might seem simple to you, but when you've also got to get a job, a place to live, reconnect with friends, get back into a hobby/sport, fix broken stuff, replace lost stuff, get back into a routine... plus all the things that got neglected: the unpaid bills that piled up, the passport that needs renewing, the zillion and one little bits of admin that didn't get done, which include everything from a tax return to a request to tell some bureaucrat the name of my first pet, so that they can justify their pointless job.

One day at a time the idiots say. Fuck the hell off. I can extrapolate. If every day is going to be as hard, and it's going to take a zillion of them before I'm getting anywhere, how am I ever going to sustain it? Counting the days is so disheartening - not that I do it - when you think, jeez, I should be feeling a lot better than I do, after 101 days already.

Perhaps there's a simple desire for a time when I had abandoned all responsibility, and knew I was on a collision course with disaster, destitution. I enjoyed the fatalism of it. I enjoyed being relieved of the relentless struggle to get, where? Where did all that struggle get me anyway? What was the point in struggling, in stressing?

The current plan is to tidy up my affairs, and then leave this shitty lifestyle behind. Not the drug taking, but the wage slavery, the working to simply pay rent and consume crap, get fat and die of old age or stress/obesity-related illness.

It's strange, when your fantasies revolve around being destitute, homeless, penniless again.