A year ago yesterday was the Brexit vote. Which means a year ago today I had a breakdown. A year ago today was also my last day working a day job, for that reason.
My wife is a disabled, bisexual, immigrant, and one reason we chose to live in the UK rather than the US is that the rights we have under the European Convention on Human Rights made this a much, much, safer place for her than the US. When I brought her here, I was protecting her.
So when the UK voted to leave the EU (and staying in the EU was the one reason that our current Prime Minister, then Home Secretary, Theresa “hostile environment for immigrants” May had for not leaving the ECHR, so we *will* be leaving that), that meant that I had failed to protect the person I love most in the world. This was a direct, personal, failure on the deepest level of my being — whatever else I thought of myself, I was someone who protected his wife. Now I wasn’t.
I’ve never had the best mental health in the world, but that plunged me into a depression unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I spent literally two months having suicidal thoughts every single day. I spent huge chunks of the first fortnight just screaming. For the first time in my adult life I was too ill to work — yet I also wasn’t provably ill enough to claim disability benefits. I had to become a freelance writer.
(If people think I’ve been too obsessed with Brexit on my Twitter in the year since, this is why — I essentially have PTSD (undiagnosed but I think real) which is triggered regularly by mentions of this ghastly decision).
And the intervening year has had two more giant disruptions which have affected my mental health — the Trump election, which did to Holly much the same as the Brexit vote did to me, and the neverending election (which started for those of us in Manchester Gorton in *February*). I am only now, a year on, recovering my stability — hence my recent spurt in productivity.
But I have managed to survive as a freelancer thanks to knowing good people. Just before my breakdown my friend Jennie pointed me to someone who would commission the occasional script for a YouTube video from me — those scripts have paid the mortgage and utility bills, just about.
But everything else — food for me, Holly, and our dog, any occasional luxuries, emergencies like replacing my computer when it broke — has been paid for by the readers of this blog, either through buying my books or backing me on Patreon.
So I’d like to thank all of you who’ve donated money, or bought books, or posted links to my posts on social media, or done anything else to make this blog the difference between me, my wife, and my dog eating and us starving. I’d especially like to thank Jennie for her getting me the freelance work. I’d also like to thank the person who knows who they are, but who I won’t name here because I don’t know if they want their act of generosity publicised, who increased their Patreon donation *massively* after my breakdown. That person was already someone I liked and admired, now they’re someone I will literally do *anything* for.
I’m aware that some of the kinds of posts that many of you most like — the complicated, idea-based, comics and Doctor Who ones in particular, have been lacking for the last year. Those require a kind of mental state from me that it’s been impossible for me to get into while I’ve been unwell. As I’m getting better, I plan to have them return to this blog over the next few months. I hope it’ll prove worth the wait.
I also have a lot of bits of work I’ve been doing piecemeal over the last year, all of which are nearing release. I hope that the deluge of stuff that’s coming up will be a big payoff for those of you who’ve been so generous.
So, one year into my life as a freelance writer, thank you all. You’ve literally saved my life. Thank you.