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Welcome to the machine


I’ve never worked for the advertising industry. I wouldn’t do that. Nor have I worked for insurance companies, the chemical industry or Big Pharma. Or the gambling industry. Or banks.

I only worked in their offices for software companies that did.

OK, OK, I did work for a bank. Once. I was a programmer on Hill Samuel’s Macquarie Bank project. I was young and ignorant. I never did it again.

I did some direct contracting with government departments though. Education. Environment. Health. Housing. I worked for Olivetti, Xerox and NEC. I even did a few stints with the deceased dinosaur Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Wasn’t me extincted it.

I also worked for a middle league Eastern Sydney crime lord. It’s all just drug companies to me.

The best thing about the jobs was that they were mercifully brief. I could show up regularly and apply myself diligently to corporate profits and bureaucratic incompetence for six months at a stretch. Maybe a year, tops. But enough is enough. Us bipolars need our quality self-destruction time. If I didn’t take a holiday in my bedroom with drugs, psychosis and despair I took off backpacking around Asia for as long as my savings lasted. Usually about a year.

I eventually got jack of trying to conform to the needs of big institutions. It’s too much like work. Helping out activist NGOs felt much better but it sure didn’t pay well. There’d be no more long holidays overseas. I could pretty much set my own hours though and had plenty of free time for breakdowns. Among the people I worked with it was almost expected. I enjoyed proving my schoolteachers wrong. The ones who said there were no jobs out there for troublemakers like me.

It was a big change in work conditions. Instead of writing specs and code I was writing speeches, submissions, press releases and lectures. Instead of sitting in meeting rooms talking debugging and database design I’d be on the streets talking about police killings, in TV studios talking about sex offenders or in front of government committees talking about forensic DNA.

I met a lot of fucked up people. Death in custody families. Victims of crime. Drug addicts. Sex offenders. Killers. Cops. Killer cops. Lawyers. Politicians. Journalists. Most of the things I worked on either resolved as tragedy and injustice or didn’t resolve at all. It got discouraging after a while. And stressful.

It was a series of unexpected losses that finally broke me but I was piling on so much work and so many issues, both political and personal, it was only a matter of time. Then I couldn’t get my act together to do anything much for nearly ten years. By the time I came good late in 2012 I’d got old and been deskilled, most of the fields I’d worked in had moved on and, fuck it, I never did like work anyhow.

A coven of counselors and bureaucrats have filled out a lot of forms to put me on a disability pension. It seems perverse to spoil their hard work by getting better. I’m not really shirking. I’m conscientiously ill for at least five days a week. I’m not getting any younger so I recently lightened my workload by dropping the hepatitis C. But I still do a bit of crazy now and again and there’s an extensive selection of auto-immune conditions I turn on myself to ward off any threat of good health. And there’s always substance abuse to fall back on.

Yeah, I can do sick. I’ve had lots of experience in diverse disorders. I study them diligently and can speak with confidence about their etiology, pathology and prognosis as well as the current state of research and their impact on sufferers. Especially me. Some of my diseases are skills I picked up as I went along but many are inborn talents. I’m a natural. I should ask for more money.

From → autobiography

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