All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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I’m so useless that…

I haven’t been feeling all that great over the last couple of weeks. So I thought I’d try freewrite something to see if getting it out will cleanse the soul a little. Apologies if it’s a little ‘woe is me’. It’s just how I’ve been feeling lately.

lake hume

Lake Hume (where I went for the camp)

Last year, I didn’t want to attend the camp that my mental health organisation organized. I was stressed. I was exhausted. And I wanted a few days to myself in order to recharge my internal batteries. But one of the staff members (unintentionally) manipulated my appeasement mode and I ended up going. As it turned out, I was ultimately happy that I’d gone because I ended up having a wonderful, relaxing time.

So this year, I was looking forward to it. In fact, for many weeks it was the bright spot that kept me going. I was anticipating a few days of relaxation; a few days of chilling with random people; a time to recharge my batteries away from the monotonous hell of Wodonga. So it stands to reason that I ended up having a miserable time; a time that left me emotionally raw, traumatized and desperately in need of a hug!

In fact, the camp was such a hideous time that nearly two weeks later I’m still feeling emotionally delicate, unable to function and filled with a lethargic flatness that is beyond annoying.

My reaction to the camp had nothing to do with how it was organized (which was with a military like precision) or how supportive the staff and other attendees were (which was immensely supportive) but because it served as a stark reminder as to how utterly useless I am at pretty much everything.

  • I’m so useless that I had to sleep in my tent because I’m unable to move past the trauma of my various boarding house experiences in order to sleep in the shared accommodation that everyone else was sleeping in.
  • I’m so useless that in the four days I was there I had three conversations with people who weren’t staff; two of those on the same day.
  • I’m so useless that whenever I was in the presence of a beautiful woman I froze up and became a gibbering, monosyllabic idiot.
  • I’m so useless that I attended only two of the activities because I couldn’t deal with getting on the various buses/boats that were necessary for the remaining activities.
  • I’m so useless that four people felt the need to point out how much weight I’ve put on recently, you know, just in case the guy with body image issues hadn’t already noticed!
  • I’m so useless that I ended up cooking lunch and dinner on all the days I was there, not because I enjoyed it, but because it made me feel a little more useful. And once I’d cooked the food, I was the first person in the kitchen to help with the clean up because – you guessed it – it made me feel that bit more useful.
  • I’m so useless that I have no idea how to relax anymore; hence my need to busy myself with kitchen duties to make me feel less superfluous.
  • I’m so useless that I couldn’t even organize a trivia night without it being filled with errors.
  • I’m so useless that by the third day I was spontaneously bursting into tears as my mind plagued me with suicidal fantasies as punishment for how useless I believe I am.
  • I’m so useless that, as a result of these suicidal fantasies, I had to leave the camp early and return to my home where I could curl up on the couch and weep away from prying eyes.
  • I’m so useless that I couldn’t even remember to pack my phone charger, which means I’ve been without a phone for the last two weeks and will be until I can obtain a replacement.

And as I write this list I realise that I could keep going with many more examples of how useless I am, but won’t because I’m so useless that I can’t risk typing any more in case I begin to start crying again.

*DEEP BREATH*

The other reason I don’t want to continue writing that list is because I know it’s not helpful. It’s just a chance to whinge about how pointless my life feels from time to time; a chance to unload weeks of negative emotion in the hope that it will allow me to find a way to move onwards and upwards.

But I know what’s been happening to me isn’t just ‘me feeling bad’. A large part of what’s been happening over the last few weeks is down to the medication change-over I’ve been going through. It was running rampant in the days leading up to the camp and continued plaguing me throughout. But it would be easy (and a little simplistic) to blame the woes of that week on medication alone.

The simple fact is I’ve been on my own seven years, doing nothing but surviving, that I have forgotten what it means to relax, I have forgotten how to communicate with people and I do feel useless most of the time.

I know that how I view myself lies at the core of all my mental health issues. And what this camp did was take all my fears, all my failings, all my inadequacies and throw them to the forefront of my existence.

It made me realise how little I’ve actually come since my breakdown in 2007 and how far I still have to go to become the person I so wish to be.


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Addy’s Trivia Extravaganza!

Well, I’m currently camping in the Australian Bush as part of a week-long holiday organised by the mental health organisation I frequent. I will no doubt share my experiences upon my return home at the end of the week, but due to the luxury of post-scheduling, I’ve decided to share one of the activities I’ll be undertaking during the trip.

In addition to canoeing, drawing, BBQ boating, badminton and karaoke, we will be enjoying a trivia night of my own creation; thus allowing me to fulfil a life-long dream of being a trivia host! :)

So, for a bit of fun, here is (in a slightly edited form) the quiz I will be challenging people with. This way, you can play-a-long at home and impress everyone with your immense knowledge of all things trivia! But be warned, some of the questions are not what you would call ‘easy’! :p

- Addy’s Trivia Extravaganza -

1.      GEOGRAPHY: Name six countries that contain only one vowel, repeated three times (for example, Bahamas) (6)

2.      MULTIPLE CHOICE: In 2010, what species produced offspring in the wild in the UK for the first time in around 400 years after reintroduction to Scotland: Beaver, Bear; Wolf; or Reindeer? (1)

3.      PICTURE: Who is this person and what comedy series does she regularly appear in? (2)

Q3

Q3. Who is this person and what comedy series does she regularly appear in?

4.      SPORT: In which years during the 1990s were the Winter Olympics held? (1)

5.      MENTAL HEALTH: EMDR is a therapy commonly used to treat which symptom of mental distress? And for a bonus point…what does EMDR stand for? (2)

6.      MENTAL HEALTH @ THE MOVIES: Can you identify the movie from their short description? (5)

a.       After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

b.       A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility.

c.        A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one

d.      Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse.

e.      Based on writer Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.

7.      AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Sydney was established first, but what Australian state capitol city was founded second? (1)

8.      MENTAL HEALTH: The Happiness Trap, The Reality Slap and The Confidence Gap are books by which author? (1)

9.  SPORT: Since 1940 there have been three AFL Grand Final replays due to the first match being drawn; in 1948, 1977 and 2010. Can you name the three teams who were triumphant in these replays? (3)

10.  MENTAL HEALTH: On what date every year is World Mental Health Day? (1)

11.  PICTURE: Who is this person? (1)

Q11

Q11. Who is this person?

12.  AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR: Who was the first Australian of the Year…who was Australian of the Year in 2010…who is the current Australian of the Year? (3)

13.  MENTAL HEALTH: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was first published in what year? (1)

14.  MUSIC:  What kind of sandwich did the man in Brussels give the singer in “Down Under”? (1)

15.  MULTIPLE CHOICE: Which of the Rolling Stones has a cameo role as Captain Jack Teague, father of Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End’: Mick Jagger; Charlie Watts, Keith Richards; or Ronnie Wood? (1)

16.  PICTURE: Who is this person and what is the name of his regular side-kick on the quiz show he hosts? (2)

Q16

Q16. Who is this person and what is the name of his regular side-kick on the quiz show he hosts?

17.  LITERATURE: Who wrote Puckoon and Hitler: My Part in His Downfall? (1)

18.  TELEVISION: Which Lord of the Rings star played Diver Dan in the hit ABC television series Seachange? (1)

19.  MULTIPLE CHOICE: One member of the children’s sensation “The Wiggles”, Anthony Field, had his musical beginnings in a pretty mediocre 80’s rock band called “The ______________”; Koalas, Wombats, Cockroaches or Praying Mantises? (1)

20.  MENTAL HEALTH: SMART Goals are an effective way to prepare for the future, but what does the acronym SMART actually stand for? (1)

21.  LITERATURE: Which author wrote the novels Voss, A Fringe of Leaves and The Tree of Man? (1)

22.  SPORT: Excluding foul shots, what is the maximum break attainable in a frame of snooker? (1)

23.  PICTURE: What artist painted this picture? (1)

Q23

Q23. What artist painted this picture?

24.  MOVIES: Silvermist, Rosetta and Fawn are all characters in which Disney franchise? (1)

25.   AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: When did Australian women get the vote (nationally)? (1)

26.   MULTIPLE CHOICE: Melanophobia is the irrational fear of what: The colour black; Punishment; Fruit; or Children? (1)

27.   MOVIES: Classical pianist David Helfgott’s story was told in what movie? (1)

28.  MUSIC: Can you name five of the top ten selling (in Australia) albums of all time? (5)

29.  SPORT: “The Thunder from Down Under” and “The Melbourne Machine” are nicknames of which Australian sports star? (1)

30.  MENTAL HEALTH: Graham Green, author of Brighton Rock, suffered from which mental illness? (1)

31.  MULTIPLE CHOICE: Vermillion is a shade of which colour: Green; Blue; Red; or Yellow? (1)

32.  MOVIES: Who directed the feature films Amistad, The Terminal and War Horse? (1)

33.   FLAGS: Can you identify the country from a description of their flag? (5)

a.      Three equal vertical stripes of blue, white and red?

b.      Three equal horizontal stripes of black, red and yellow?

c.       A red flag with a black triangle superimposed on a slightly longer yellow arrowhead bearing a white star in the center of the black triangle?

d.      Two equal horizontal stripes of white and red?

e.      A rectangle divided in the middle with black top, red bottom and yellow circle?

34.  PICTURE:  What is this character’s name, who voices him and in what movie series does he appear? (3)

Q34

Q34. What is this character’s name, who voices him and in what movie series does he appear?

- END OF QUIZ -
Total Points available 60
[Click here for the answers]

 -♦-

So, how did you go? If you’ve got over 40 I’ll be deeply impressed! :)


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Nauseousness, camping and paranoia…oh my!

I have been feeling absolutely shocking this weekend. Constantly nauseous, hot/cold flushes, aching limbs and smelling strange odours that I cannot place. I’ve also been feeling obscenely paranoid, from firmly believing that I was being followed/about to be arrested by police officers, to thinking my house is on the verge of being invaded by a swarm of marauding maggots. I can’t relax. I can’t settle. I can’t concentrate and no matter how much I want to, can’t sleep.

Normally I would be grotesquely – verging on mental breakdown – worried over such an array of physical and mental symptoms, but as it stands my worry has been displaced by the weekly sessions I’ve had with my GP over the last few weeks; who informs me that all of the above is to be expected, given the recent change I’ve undergone in my medication.

In the first major change of my medication since my initial diagnoses in 2007/08, I have dropped from taking 12.5mg of olanzapine to only 2.5mg daily, replacing this most hated of drugs with 200mg solian daily. I have also changed antidepressants, from citalopram to fluoxetine. I’m told that this change will have a positive effect on my mental state, once the drugs start to have an effect in 3-4 weeks time, but until then have to ‘ride out’ the side-effects of stopping the drugs I’m used to and moving onto the new ones.

Normally, in the face of such crippling side-effects, I would stock up on DVDs from the library and hide away from the world until I start to feel vaguely normal. But alas, I cannot, for tomorrow I embark on a five-day long camping excursion that’s been organised by the mental health organisation I frequent. So instead of a week of chilling at home trying to convince myself I’m not dying (I suffer occasional bouts of hypochondria) I will be indulging in a week of badminton, boating, drawing, more boating, trivia nights and yet more boating. All whilst sleeping in a tent. All whilst feeling like I’m about to throw up.

If I wasn’t feeling so horribly unwell, I would be looking forward to the camp. I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy some of the activities we’ll be doing. I enjoy being in a tent. But not when I feel sick. And not when my meds are going through such a period of upheaval.

All I can hope is that the symptoms I’ve been feeling this weekend will mysteriously vanish by the time I get up tomorrow morning, because I’m seriously starting to think that it’s not side effects from meds at all. I’m starting to think that I’m coming down with a virus. And who likes camping when they’re full on, properly unwell?

However the week goes I will be sure to update you all upon my return (no internet access in the bush, I’m afraid).

Hope everyone is having a better (more healthy) weekend than I! And that everyone has a wonderful week ahead of them! :)


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Friday Finds (March 28)

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list. Whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

 

~ Clicking each book will reveal why I’ve added it to my to be read list ~

What books have you added to your TBR list this week?


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Day 10: One confession

The final day of the 10 Day Blogging Challenge asks for one confession.

bike

Many years ago, when I but a wee young thing cycling around the city of Melbourne, my (allegedly) slow cycling speed earned the ire of another cyclist. In my opinion, I didn’t think I was cycling abnormally slowly, I was just merrily trundling along the city street on my way to do a spot of shopping in the CBD. But he was adamant that I wasn’t cycling fast enough, so began yelling at me to “speed up” whilst incessantly ringing his bell and hurling expletives in my general direction. In order to cessate his anger I, on numerous occasions, rode closer to the curb in order to give him ample room to overtake, which he never did.

This flow of abuse carried on until we were both stopped by a red light. This incensed him even more, as he demanded to know why I’d forced him to slam on his brakes and risk running into the back of my ‘crappy little bike’. I pointed out that it was customary to stop at red lights, to which he responded with yet more expletives and rode on through the red light, weaving precariously through the (abruptly stopping) oncoming traffic.

Shaking my head at his idiocy (and insolence) I carried on cycling when the light turned green and tried to put the whole unpleasant event out of my mind. However, the abuse he’d been hurling had triggered my social anxiety and no matter how hard I tried to relax, found it impossible to do so. After a couple of stressful hours perusing the shops I was returning to my bicycle, still frustrated by this man’s actions, when I noticed his bike was chained up a few yards away from me.

What possessed me to do what I did next still escapes me. Normally I’m not the sort of man to allow his anger to overwhelm his actions, nor am I the sort of person to seek revenge for crimes committed against me, but I couldn’t get past the simple fact that this man’s actions had ruined my day. So I glanced around, wandered over to the man’s bike and nonchalantly let down both of his tyres before continuing on my merry way with a mischievous grin on my face.

Now, I’d like it to be known in the telling of this story that I’m not advocating people allow their anger to control their actions. What I did that day was wrong. It was irresponsible, immature, downright childish and just a wee bit naughty.

But boy, was it satisfying! :p

 


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Day 09: Two smileys that describe my life right now

The penultimate day of the 10 Day Blogging Challenge is the hardest so far:
two smileys that describe your life right now!

-1-

Emote___Smiley_by_Sinister_Starfeesh

This first smiley was chosen by Meadhbh as she believes it’s a perfect representation of her and me. I’m the big yellow one having his anxieties and stress soothed by her, the small green one.

-2-

Angry_Mob_by_Sinister_Starfeesh

Whereas the second smiley I’ve chosen is a representation of my current battle with flashbacks and demons from the past; all of whom relentlessly pursue me on a daily basis.

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