Five months ago, after an eighteen month hiatus from Twitter, I made a return to the social network. I did so for one simple reason; being a socially isolated homeless man, with a history of mental health problems, it was the only outlet I had for interacting with society.
For two months I tweeted the occasional opinion, shared articles I felt important, engaged with other users and received abusive feedback. My homelessness was criticized with comments ranging from ‘get off your lazy arse and get a job’ to ‘why not just drink yourself to death’. My mental health was attacked with comments ranging from ‘harden the f**k up you pathetic c**t’ to ‘just f**king hang yourself, retard’.
With my mood descending into depression, in part from these comments, I eventually stopped logging onto Twitter and once again slipped into uncommunicative isolation; an isolation that prevented me from writing my blog, from reading websites, from having any contact with the outside world.
Throughout this period I often wanted to return. Despite the abuse I enjoyed reading Tweets, I enjoyed having a means to connect with the outside world, I relished the ability to begin communicating again after years of pain, isolation and homelessness.
Now, upon hearing what has happened to Charlotte Dawson, I have decided to return; abuse be damned!
When I was in primary school I was regularly thrown against walls and kneed in the bollocks. I was constantly attacked for wearing glasses, for wearing braces, for being fat, for being in the recorder group. The latter, I believe, out of jealously considering I was the only boy to eight girls (gotta love those odds!)
When I was in secondary school my weight (as always) was fair game, my inability to play sports well (often as a result of being rendered blind) was maliciously used and when my sister’s mental illness deteriorated, it’s not hard to understand this was used against me.
When I was travelling I would find anonymous notes (the precursor to Twitter?) left with my food in hostels telling me I should kill myself because I was fat, useless bastard.
When I was in an abusive relationship, not a single part of my past, present or future was left untouched. Every single aspect of my life – including all the intimate, personal information I’d shared because I trusted this person – was fair game. Everything I had ever thought, felt, said or done was regularly assaulted. I was borderline stalked, cyber-bullied and told to kill myself with vicious cruelty.
When I began my blog I would receive dozens of anonymous emails and comments attacking every aspect of what I was writing about. I still do to this day. Mental illness, it seems, is still an accepted reason to abuse!
When I was trying to rebuild my life following breakdowns, suicide attempts and mental illness I was the recipient of a vicious cyber-campaign. Out of nowhere I began receiving emails and text messages of ever escalating length and severity. Always sent in block capitals. Always anonymously.
Selected (actual) highlights:
YOU’RE A DISGUSTING MENTALLY ILL RETARD
BEAT YOURSELF TO DEATH. CUT YOURSELF TO DEATH. JUST FUCK OFF AND DIE.
THE ONLY THING YOU DESERVE TO FUCK IS A RAZOR BLADE
WOMEN VOMIT AT THE THOUGHT OF FUCKING YOU. JUST DO US A FAVOUR, BUY A KNIFE, GO HOME, HACK YOUR COCK OFF. LET THAT MENTALLY RETARDED BLOOD FLOW.
When I became homeless the floodgates opened. I received endless verbal abuse. I had hot coffee ‘accidentally’ spilled on me. I was pissed on. I was physically assaulted by drunken AFL fans – apparently it was my fault their team lost that night. For some reason attacking the homeless is still considered acceptable by society.
As a result of the abuse: I started self-harming. I developed severe mental illness. I attempted suicide in 2000, 2006, 2007 (twice), 2008 and at least once a year since. I lost my chance of tertiary education. I lost every possession I’d ever owned. My social network was destroyed. I became homeless. And there’s a good chance I will never have anything or anyone in my life again.
But you know what?
I’m still fucking standing!
After years of misery, isolation, judgment, abuse, discrimination, homelessness and pain so intense I’d never wish it on my worst enemy…I’m still standing here, I’m still breathing and I’m still laughing!
All of the anonymous haters that populate these web forums and social networks, venting their spleen at people they’ve never met will never have the one thing that I possess in droves: strength! They inflict pain on emotionally vulnerable people because it’s the only way they can feel better about their themselves. Their lives spent hiding behind unfunny pseudonyms because they hate who they are even more than they hate the world.
Instead of working to improve their lot in life, they just take it out on everyone else and to hell with the consequences. They don’t understand the pain of knowing someone who has taken their own life as a result of being abused. If they did, they might think twice about what they’re doing, for it is a pain that never leaves you.
By staying away from Twitter all I am doing is telling these weak, self-hating, bullies that they’ve won.
Why should I withdraw from the only social contact I have because of these morons?
Why should I take away the only chance I have to get my life back because these selfish prats have decided I don’t deserve one?
Why should I let the abusers who have tried to destroy my life win?
I don’t agree with abuse. I don’t agree with bullying. I don’t agree that a human being has the right to inflict such pain on another. No matter what, no-one deserves to be abused!
I am many things; mentally ill, socially isolated, kinky, unloved, lonely, unsupported, overweight, homeless.
But I am also; caring, compassionate, kinky (it’s a good thing!), intelligent, cute, funny, driven, creative, determined.
I may have had everything taken from me; home, possessions, friends, health, passion, dreams, hope.
But no-one will ever take my strength.
You can follow me on Twitter @addylake but please note, due to my situation and lack of 24/7 internet access, tweets are sporadic.