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…

Homelessness and My Mental Stability

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A few months ago I coined a new phrase for myself. All of the shit that’s happened to me, all of the depression, self harm, loss, to me came about from shyness, which became social anxiety disorder, which – with the emotional abuse – become something a teensy bit different…

…but that’s to come (it’s called foreshadowing)…

…because no update of the blog would be complete without mention of where all of this has ended up. All of this work I’ve put in over the years – to become someone; to become me; to become who I dreamed to be; to constantly reinvent myself out of the ashes like some chubby phoenix – what all of this has rewarded me with.

All that work battling social anxiety, panic, self esteem.
All that work stabilising self harm, depression and bipolar.
All that work trying to live a normal life.
Friends
Lover
Family
Career
Home
Pet Wombat
Smiles
Happiness
Hope (always back to hope)
All that they are now are memories of long forgotten dreams because all it’s ended up with is me:

  • Sleeping in a park
  • Under a blanket
  • Being nibbled not by a beautiful woman but mosquitoes (and in all honesty, the two really don’t compare)
  • With a hole in my crotch so big I could fit a hand through it (and yes, if it weren’t mosquitoes doing the nibbling this would have a lot of possibilities, but alas…)

I spend my days valiantly trying to rebuild my life whilst piecing together the shattered remnants of my soul whilst trying not to instigate one of the six suicide plans I’ve worked out. Fun life, eh?

“When you are approaching poverty…you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty, the fact that it annihilates the future,”
George Orwell


Homelessness and My Mental Stability

“Homelessness is a tough, humiliating experience. Everyday, homeless people experience discrimination and the threat or reality of violence. They often wake up not knowing where they will sleep that night, whether they are going to get a meal and how they will stay safe,”

My days typically begin around 5am when I wake up stiff and sore from the concrete. My days typically end around 2am when I finally drift off into a fitful sleep full of nightmare. That equates to about 21 hours to fill each day. My only thought as I’m packing up and hiding my blankets is fuck, another goddamned day! So what to do? How do you fill so many empty hours when you have no money? When your focus is so shot to frack you can’t read or write? When you have no means to divulge your passions of photography, film, art? When you have no people to speak to, share stories, communicate with, engage fantasies with (or shag, kiss, massage, naughtily poke or tickle)?

You end up walking the streets aimlessly. Listlessly sitting in alleys to avoid contact and the inevitable about it will bring. You seek out what food you can – drop in centres, soup vans and bins.

I do what I can to survive each day. To keep those vicious bipolar bears, hallucinations, ghosts and miscellaneous crap at bay. To try and come up with anything to keep the knife sheathed.

I’ve attempted a walk to Sydney to revitalise the cracks of my soul and reignite sparks of life.

I’ve done things I’ve despised, which have made me vomit in taste and disgust, to get myself into a cinema for a couple of hours to escape the drudgery.

I’ve endlessly observed the streets looking for signs of those in need. People to help. Like I said to the psychiatrist…If I’d done more for people then, as she said, I wouldn’t have lost everything. I’m not important…I’ll give change when I can, advice, comfort and support. To the homeless, the disadvantaged, the vantaged and everyone in-between.

I’ve, when able, kept track of those on Facebook I love and admire. Happy that their lives are going well. Though, in all honesty, it fills me with an agony of what could have been, but seeing their smiles, laughter and glee brings it to me to.

I’ve done anything and everything I can think to do to get me through the next minute, hour, without harm or foul.

Of course through all this I seek help, but…”many support services are unable to cope with people who have mental health problems…as many services are quick to judge and slow to understand“…and like many it’s becoming…”easier to avoid these services rather than suffer the indignity of being treated like a ‘no hoper’“…For – like with the abuse – this perception feeds my conditions and increases the chance of breaks, relapses or episodes.

And it’s these episodes, like last week, which make things so hard for me to deal with. With no distractions, stabilisers or anti-stressors to help me control things, it’s just me, and more and more frequently it’s not enough.

Almost every night the emotions become harder to deal with, because the next day, when I wake up, it’s going to be, is gonna be, exactly the same.

no longer living; just existing; surviving.

1) In my times homeless I’ve been physically attacked seven time, mostly by people who have taken offense to either a) being homeless or b) my mental health
2) I have been mugged twice; once at knife point
3) I have received an un-ending barrage of verbal abuse from all sectors of society
4) I have been the victim of theft, including; passport, wallet, money, mobile phone, blankets and clothes
5) I’ve had support refused due to my non-admittance of imaginary substance abuse problems which don’t exist

All of this is magnified due to my mental health issues. With no on-going support either medically, socially or financially (family do what they can) I am constantly trying to survive each day whilst trying to secure a future fo myself – which is hard enough for someone with no mental health issues when homeless – let along trying to manage the ongoing complications my condition throws at me.

The mood swings, self harm, suicidal desires, panic and anxiety – all factors in the seeking help conundrum. Factor in my non-existent self-esteem, lack of self worth and other issues of trust and self-belief amplified by the abuse and relationship issues.

It becomes nigh on impossible.

“Homeless people with mental health problems had to deal with the anxiety of having nowhere safe or permanent to stay. Feelings of alienation and isolation were compounded by the fact that there was little predictability or permanence in their lives…people who enter the homeless population with mental health problems have the longest and most isolated experience of homelessness. On average, mean duration of 73 months,”

There’s a lovely inclusion of some key words there. On the 28 November 2007 I wrote a post detailing my triggers. Top of the list was loneliness – isolation. Both of these have catapulted into the stratosphere this year, and have been a major cause in the massive decline of my mental stability since I became homeless three months ago.

No matter how hard it is to be homeless. The sleeping rough, lack of food, clothes, showers, the whole shebang…this is what has caused me the most anger and frustration. What has set me back so immensely, that consciously/sub-consciously I always seem to bring about for myself.

How do I deal with it? How could anyone?

If you were to look at face to face contact – factoring out family, who are usually there – this is a list of social interaction I’ve had since February 4 2009. (Social interaction being on a social level, i.e. not doctors, medical staff, potential employers etc)…

…what would your list be like? How many times have you seen friends since February 4 2009. It’s actually quite a difficult list to write if you think about it, well, not if you’re me. This is mine:

  • June 6th – Three hours in Sydney….

That’s it.

Sure there was a day in June, eons ago now, where I attempted to make new friends I had met through a group online but as I spoke to no-one and bolted after half an hour it can hardly be counted as social interaction as no interaction actually took place.

Sure there have also been phone conversations, the last in mid August, primarily with Diane through February-May (when she needed me) and again in June with someone else.

Sure there were the ill-fated email exchanges with Steph, but they serve more to back-up the conscious/sub-conscious reality and cancer statement I have previously mentioned.

But in terms of face to face contact, that really is it.

Since February 4 2009 I have had one occasion where I was in someones company, that’s about three hours out of (approx) 6574 hours.

Could you deal with that?

Honestly?

That’s isolation – and trust me – it’s not as if I haven’t tried. Being homeless is hard enough with the sleeping rough, lack of food, clothes, showers, the whole shebang…let alone with spending every waking minute of your day alone, isolated, with no home comforts, compliments, touch, laughter.

Could you deal with that? Only three hours of social contact in the length of time it takes to create a life?

But like Kathy said, like I told my psychiatrist…I didn’t do enough to care about her, or anyone back then, and that I deserved to lose everything because of it…and that’s the problem, because the social anxiety, the loss, the self esteem, the abuse…it’s made me believe – truly and utterly believe – that I deserve this, and no amount of self-help books, platitudes or inspirational quotes are going to affect this.

It’s not easy changing your mind when you spend every day by yourself, haunted by ghosts, abuse and hallucinations…hence the triggering power of isolation, and the effect it can have on the mind of someone who has a mental illness – who is also homeless.

A vicious circle.

“People with mental health issues have to deal with the unpredictable nature of their health problems, making it difficult to comply with the rules that structure social practice…people cannot simply leave mental health problems behind them and this means setbacks are common and overcoming homelessness can take a long time.”

I don’t care so much about not have much food, sure I miss salads and potatoes and flapjacks and tofu and cake and apples and so so much more…I don’t care so much about sleeping rough, sure it hurts like hell and I haven’t had a decent sleep for months…but…

All that work battling social anxiety, panic, self esteem.
All that work stabilising self harm, depression and bipolar.
All that work trying to live a normal life.

…undone through homelessness and the effects it has had on my mental stability. Years of work. A collapse which has created so many fragments I can’t see how to piece them together again.

“And as Paul said these things to himself, a wave of sadness washed over…He was understanding now that no man could live without roots – roots in a patch of dirt, a red clay, field, a mountain slope, a rocky coast, a city street. In black loam, in mud or sand or rock or asphalt or carpet, every man had his roots down deep – in home,”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Which is why I’m having so much trouble now.
Why my brain doesn’t function as it once did.
Why everything, everything that happens in our lives is a culmination of every decision we’ve made, and every decision everyone we love has made.
Why this blog was the second worst decision of my life.

“In a country as rich as Australia, it is a disgrace that anyone should be homeless, let alone the tens of thousands of people who, on a nightly basis, are forced to endure the most demeaning and brutal circumstances,”

Note:
All quotes, unless otherwise stated, are from
‘On the Outside’
by Guy Johnson, Hellene Gronda, Sally Coutts
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