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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Anxiety and its effect on my education

Most of us have experienced a moment of anxiety or two in our life. The butterflies before a make-or-break your career presentation; the urgent need for a shot of whisky before delivering a best man’s speech; the tremble in your stomach as you disrobe in front of a new love for the first time. It’s important for us to feel anxious from time to time, it keeps us human, anchors significant life moments and enables us to grow as individuals.

The moment anxiety becomes an issue is when it affects our ability to function day-to-day. For the person overcoming abuse or rape, locked in the nightmares of PTSD or the socially anxious soul unable to connect with the world, anxiety is a prison not unlike that featured in The Dark Knight Rises; easy to get into, but nigh on impossible to climb out of.

Yesterday I wrote a little about the anxiety I feel in sharing opinions. Although this impacts on my life it could hardly be considered a severe impediment to my day-to-day functioning. However, when you look at how anxiety has impacted on my educational career, it may become more apparent the damage this condition can cause.

The Impact of Anxiety
#2: Education

A-Levels

For those who don’t have a working knowledge of the British educational system, A-Levels are the examinations that come after GCSEs (the exams you take after five years in High School). Once you’ve completed your GCSEs you are allowed to leave school and never return, but in today’s age, A-Levels are pretty much compulsory should you desire a career outside of fast food or dole bludging.

When I came to choose which A-Levels to take it was a no brainer. I’d known for months what I was going to do; Media Studies encompassed my love of film, television and print media; English Lit, my passion for literature and writing; Theatre Studies, covered my fascination with acting and theatre. With these three subjects under my belt I would be well on my way to university and, in turn, a career in film-making and the arts.

So, for two years, I studied Media Studies, Math and Computing.

Yep, you read that right. For months I knew what subjects I was going to do – but when it came to registering for them, I chose two subjects I had absolutely NO interest in whatsoever.

Why?

A large part of my anxiety is an intense fear of being evaluated or scrutinized by other people to the point that I will completely remove myself from the situation in order to keep myself safe and avoid any humiliation, judgment or criticism. It dawned on me that if I were to do English Lit, my writing would be subject to scrutiny by the rest of the class and presentations would need to be made that I just couldn’t do. The latter – obviously – being a pre-requisite for Theatre Studies. So in order to protect myself, I opted for two subjects where I could hide myself from the critical gaze of the class behind a text-book or keyboard.

They were the worst two years of my school life; I failed Math and barely scraped a pass in Computing. Whereas Media Studies, being a passionate topic for me, I excelled in.

No matter how I look at it, my anxiety controlled my A-Level decisions and, with the inevitable snowball effect that followed, it has haunted my life ever since.

University

Following my disastrous A-Level experiences it is no surprise that I didn’t go to Uni straight out of school. I knew by the end of the first year of A-Levels that I would not achieve the grades I’d need to gain a place. I also knew that the courses I was interested in – film-making, writing and publishing, arts and acting – I hadn’t taken the correct subjects for. Plus, the damage done to my self-confidence and self-esteem made me believe I would never be able to handle university life.

Basically, I was screwed.

So it comes as no surprise that my mood took a massive nose dive that summer. The realization that you’ve screwed up your entire life will do that! It was a realization that became a major factor behind my running away from home that summer.

College

Following two years of full-time employment and eighteen months backpacking I had built my confidence to a level I deemed sufficient to try to correct the mistakes of my past. I craved to return to education and achieve my dream of going to university, but wanted to make sure I was studying what I wanted. A course at Inverness College called ‘TV production, photography and sound production’ had everything I desired; writing, film-making, photography, acting, arts, film studies…everything was perfect.

By the end of the year-long course I’d caned every aspect of the course. In terms of written coursework, I was told it was university standard. In terms of practical assignments, although not perfect, were of a high standard. Classmates told me I should have my own radio show. Others told me it would be a waste if I didn’t pursue a university course.

So it comes as no surprise that, once again, I didn’t.

Only this time it wasn’t wholly the fault of anxiety, for I’d fallen in love, meaning I had to make a choice between my initial plan – of going to Vancouver to continue my studies at University (where, revealing one of my big life secrets, I’d been accepted) – or continuing my relationship with my girlfriend, which if I did, moved Canada off the table.

Although love was a major part of the choice I made, anxiety did play a part, for (like with A-Levels) not pursuing my dreams was a safer option than opening myself up to criticism, scrutiny and humiliation.

College (Reprise)

It would be nearly six years before I re-entered tertiary education. Throughout that entire time I attempted various night courses (all of which went uncompleted because of my employment commitments) and continually dreamed of going to university.

By this time anxiety was ruling my life. I rarely took chances. I rarely opened myself up. I had become safely coccooned in my safe little life with dozens upon dozens of protective strategies implemented to reduce the humiliation and insult I’d grown to fear since my teenage years.

When my relationship ended in 2006 it provided me the opportunity to reflect on my life and perhaps build a new future; hence, my decision to return to college.

I have written of this event several times in the past. Of how I was shit scared of returning to tertiary education after so many years in safe full-time employment, of how terrified I was of being in a situation where my writing would be regularly criticized, of how petrified I was of the numerous presentations I would have to give in front of dozens of people, but…for the first time in my life I felt confident enough in my abilities to believe I would be able to excel in the course.

A course specifically chosen not only on the basis that it reflected all of my passions but that it provided a pathway into several university courses I would have sacrificed a limb to get into.

Alas, as previously documented, things did not go to plan. The abuse fed into the glandular fever which fed into the anxiety which fed back into the abuse and cost me the course, my dreams and ultimately, my chance of tertiary education.

The Future

Although I do still cling to the hope that I’ll be able to return to education – albeit rarely – I know in my heart my chances have passed. If I can’t write my opinion as a blog comment, how could I write it in the form of an essay? If I can’t walk down the street to purchase food without a panic attack, how could I walk to a university lecture hall? If I can’t talk to a single human being without fear of humiliation, how could I present coursework without fear of public humiliation?

When I look back on how anxiety has shaped my educational choices – from the selection of my A-Levels, through turning down Vancouver, and ending up in the abuse fuelled loss of my college course – I wonder how different my life would be if anxiety didn’t have such a hold over me.

I’m aware it’s not all the fault of this disorder, that I must – and DO – take some responsibility for my choices, but they are choices that would have been easier to make had anxiety not been a factor.

Something that, if your only encounter with anxiety is making a presentation, being a best man or slipping your undies off to flash your boyfriend, is difficult to understand.

When it comes to my anxiety, we’re not talking fluttering little butterflies.

We’re talking a life-altering, heart-stopping fear that I have no idea how to fight anymore.

If I ever did to begin with.

Tomorrow: Anxiety and its effect on my body >>>


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101 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

I first wrote this on a beautiful summer’s day just before Christmas 2005 and recently came across it buried in the dregs of the internet. After re-reading it – and remembering the fact I was topless in Edinburgh Gardens whilst writing it (oh, how things change!) – I decided to post it for all to see.

Technically, I can’t call it a Bucket List as it was compiled long before I became aware of that term. So it’s just a list of things I want to do before I head off to explore the undiscovered country.

Note I: Aside from the first five items, the list is in no real order.

Note II: Those crossed out have already been completed!

Note III: Some of the items have been amended or altered given the changes in circumstances between then and now. For example, item (2) was written referencing my then partner – and it would seem a little odd now to have fathering her child as an item on my bucket list.

If anyone feels like giving me a hand with any of the uncompleted items, I’ll reciprocate however/whenever you wish…especially if that item is (1) Anyone who helps me with that will receive infinite thanks and an eternity of favors :p


  1. I know what this is but I can’t write about it here. It’s not illegal in any way, shape or form and is something most people have experienced at some point in time. It’s ridiculously simple, something I’ve wanted for over two decades and no matter how hard I’ve tried to cross this item off the list it still eludes me…and yes, it’s bloody annoying I still haven’t crossed this off!
  2. Become a father
  3. Visit Uluru
  4. Go to university
  5. Be able to talk to people about who I am, what I believe and the things I feel without suffering crippling panic attacks.
  6. See a fictional story I wrote published
    Note: Completed in 2009 when I had a short story published in a magazine.
  7. Write The Ghosts That Haunt Me
    Note: Completed in 2007 (initial first draft) to 2009 (final draft)
  8. Be able to walk into a bookstore and purchase a copy of The Ghosts That Haunt Me and say to the cashier “I wrote that” with a stupid grin on my face!
  9. Write and direct a film version of The Ghosts That Haunt Me.
  10. Visit the Shetland Islands
  11. Do a nudie run
    Note: Completed in 2007 courtesy of a manic fuelled desire to win a bet Sammi posed.
  12. To be able to say I have a best friend
  13. Visit Tasmania
  14. Read Jane Eyre
    Note: Completed in 2008, back when I had the ability to focus on reading.
  15. Create a time-machine and travel back in time to hang out on Glenelg Beach 26 January 1966, so I can discover what happened to the Beaumont Children.
  16. Perform one of my public renditions of Shakespeare with someone else reading a role.
  17. Become a citizen of Australia.
  18. Again, I apologise for the mystery, but I can’t talk about this one as it’s a companion to item (1)
  19. Adapt and direct a film version of Macbeth.
  20. Have a pet turtle, whom I shall name Magnus
  21. Visit South America (specifically the Incan Pyramids)
  22. Star in an episode of Doctor Who
  23. See a live Runrig concert.
  24. Reconnect with my Canadian friends.
  25. Once more, I can’t talk about this one either as it’s (once more) connected to item (1)
    Note: Completed in Adelaide, 2007 and Glasgow, 2008.
  26. Visit Tasmania
  27. See my sister again
    Note: Completed in July 2007 when my sister came to Melbourne following a suicide attempt. Probably the worst thing that could have happened to me given all I was going through at the time!
  28. See my sister reach a healthy, stable state where she can live a ‘normal’ life and achieve all her dreams.
  29. Visit Antarctica
  30. Meet Colin Hay (at the time my favourite singer, now, my second favourite singer)
    Note: Completed in March 2006 at the Port Fairy Folk Festivalwhen he signed my favourite album of his (Company of Strangers) and then again a few weeks later when he played a gig in Melbourne.

    Item 30…Completed 2006!

  31. Cuddle a wombat
    Note: Completed sometime in 2010 whilst homeless. There was a mini Aussie animal petting zoo set up in Federation Square so I stole the opportunity.
  32. Live for a year in the Outer Hebrides, writing a book about my experience. Possibly with my pet turtle (a la Ring of Bright Water)
  33. Have an exhibition showcasing my photography in a gallery.
  34. Create a time machine and journey back to Scotland, 1745.
  35. Obtain a doctorate so I can officially (and somewhat arrogantly) nickname myself ‘The Doctor’ :p
  36. Spend the day on a nude beach!
  37. Hike the West Highland Way.
  38. Karaoke Holding Out For a Hero with a group of friends
  39. Definitively prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
  40. Become Grace’s friend.
    Note: Completed 2006. Then I royally screwed up in 2008. Closest I ever came to item (59).
  41. Learn how to drive.
  42. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway
  43. Travel the Gahn Railway (Adelaide to Darwin)
  44. Travel the Indian Pacific Railway  (Sydney to Perth)
  45. Again, this one is connected to item (1). Sorry.
  46. As is this one! Bigger apology!
  47. Visit every state in Australia.
  48. Overcome my mental health issues so I can live a normal, productive life.
  49. Be a member of a regular Pub Trivia Team
  50. Undertake a ‘silly boy’s project’ and then write a book about my adventure!
  51. Be the recipient of a surprise birthday party
  52. Cycle the Bay in a Day
  53. Climb Ben Nevis
  54. Visit Sydney
    Note: Completed in June 2008. Seeing the Opera House and Harbor Bridge was awesome. As was the National Gallery. Aside from this, I’m not a huge fan of this city.

    Item 54… Completed 2008

  55. Attend a High School Reunion and not be seen as a pointless failure in life!
  56. Cycle across the Nullabor
  57. Hug Toni Pearen.
  58. Live to see the day when same-sex couples can marry legally in Australia
  59. Be someone’s “friend” for at least three years!
  60. Write a non-fictional book about Scottish folk and folklore.
  61. Learn how to play the fiddle
  62. See an Otter in the wild
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when I saw one casually swimming down the river Ness. I immediately thought of my first girlfriend, who always wanted to see an otter in the wild.

    Item 62…Completed 2008

  63. Create a time machine and journey back to Caldicot, 1993 and give myself a good beating for being such a shy, anxiety prone pillock!
  64. Have my own radio show on 3RRR
  65. Write, produce and direct a feature film and then have it featured at the MIFF.
  66. Establish the website I’ve had in mind for three years relating to item (1)
  67. Karaoke Paradise by the Dashboard Light with a friend.
  68. Fly around the world on the back of a Dragon.
  69. Live to see the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!
    Note: Completed November 2013 when I watched ‘The Day of the Doctor’ worldwide simulcast.
  70. Read a Patrick White novel
    Note: Completed April/May 2012 when I borrowed Voss and A Fringe of Leaves from the library.
  71. Create, write and edit a fanzine style publication featuring fiction, poetry, non-fiction and photography.
  72. Hug David Tennant!
  73. Spend some time lurking around that bookstore in Paris you’ve always dreamed about!
  74. Visit Spain and learn how to salsa whilst there.
  75. Write travel book(s) about my time backpacking, calling them “A Shy Guy in…[country]”
  76. Learn how to tango
    Note: Completed in Adelaide, 2007 whilst manic. And yes, I was pretty darned awesome at it!
  77. See the musical Spamalot
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when I spent a couple of nights in London. Alan Dale played King Arthur!
  78. Adapt and direct a version of the book The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
  79. Become owner of my own Backpacker Hostel.
  80. Meet Charles De Lint.
  81. Slap Louise’s brother for being an arrogant, self-absorbed, pretentious prick.
  82. Visit Luxembourg. Just so I can say I’ve been there!
  83. Swim with sea turtles
  84. Be able to look at myself in the mirror and not vomit (curse my body image issues!)
  85. Read Death in Brunswick
  86. Establish my own independent publishing company.
  87. Realize my business plan for the café/bar/shop business you’ve been working on for years!
  88. Publish a photography book celebrating the female form (tasteful and creative a la Bernadine, not cheesy soft-core)
  89. Write a short story collection related to item (1) and have it published for people to enjoy!
  90. See my name published in a newspaper
    Note: Completed in 2002 when I had a letter published, and then on several occasions until 2009.
  91. Run the London Marathon
  92. Introduce Australia to the joys (if not health benefits) of sausages in batter!
  93. Chill out in Rome
  94. Watch a live snooker match
    Note: Completed in February 2008 when I spent a day at the Welsh Open in Newport, South Wales. First match watched was the brilliant Ronnie O’Sullivan. Second match, Mark Williams. Great fun!

    Item 94…Completed 2008

  95. Take my daughter – upon completion of (2) – on a trip around Scotland to show her how beautiful, varied and amazing the country and its history really are!
  96. Visit Newfoundland
  97. Ride an elephant whilst dressed as Indiana Jones circa Temple of Doom
  98. Learn how to swim with my eyes open.
  99. Hug Audrey Hepburn (may have to utilize the time-machine for this one!)
  100. Make a positive difference to someone’s life.
    Note: Completed in March 2015 when I received an email from someone who wishes to remain anonymous asking me to tick this item off the list. Plus, I believe I’ve helped a number of people by writing this blog, thus making a positive different to their lives. If you disagree, please contact me and let me know! :p
  101. Wear a kilt (in the traditional fashion) to a public event!
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when my brother and sister-in-law allowed me to wear one at their wedding. Not sure if they knew I was ‘traditional’ beneath the kilt though…ahh well, they do now!


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031. Friendship, Anxiety and Isolation (Stream of Consciousness)

The 365 Day Challenge…a blogging endeavour I began when I restarted this blog a few months ago lasted all of thirty days before my depression cruelly yanked me from the keyboard and into the abyss of self-hate and worthlessness.

Given I was supposed to post each and every day for a year, it has obviously failed, but as this blog is about rediscovering who I once was I shall continue where I left off and hope no-one noticed :p

Today’s prompt is ‘a bit about your social life outside of your blog’.

So…

…ummm…

…errrrrr….

…bollocks!

I have no social life outside of my blog. I have no social life period. That much should be common knowledge for anyone who has had even a cursory glance around these pages. My tally of friends is zero. My family lives on the other side of the world. My budget is so tight I have no chance of going anywhere or doing anything to make new friends. In other words, I am a monumental joke, the very definition of a sad, pathetic, loser.

Yay, me!

It wasn’t always like this.

When I was a child, growing up in the rather odd little town of Portlethen, I had several friends. We would go on cinema trips to Aberdeen; Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Who Framed Roger Rabbit being stand-outs. We would play on a giant pile of mud, pretending we were wolves and then getting epic bollockings when we got home caked in smelly dirt and grime. We would play Curbie (a random game where you throw a ball and try to hit the edge of the curb), football and British Bulldogs. I even had a crush on the local hottie and, slipping on the rose-tinted glasses, it may even have been reciprocated.

But then we moved.

And then my sister’s mental illness hit.

Swiftly followed by the initial collapse of my mind.

So whilst my school mates were gallivanting around drinking, having random sexual encounters and generally acting as if they were living in a 90s version of Skins – I was sitting in my room self-harming, writing random fictional stories and having odd conversations with a hallucinated faerie called Meadhbe. All of which reduce the chance of making friends and having a social life!

In the late 1990s I decided to spank my faerie into submission and tackle both my social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Throwing my life into backpack I headed off into the wilds of Scotland where I ended up in a backpacker hostel. I remained there for four months, cunningly pretending I was part of a social network where in reality I didn’t share a single iota of information about myself, caught in a cycle of fear that were any of them to know how pathetic I was, they’d never talk to me again. But, in spite of this, the weekly drinking marathons, late night conversations, cinema trips with people, excursions and random Highland based shenanigans were excellent fun.

And then came Canada.

And then came a relationship.

And then came a year of isolated hell whilst my girlfriend did whatever she fancied not caring a jot about how I felt.

And then came Australia.

And then, four years later, an actual social network with actual human beings whom I actually shared personal information with. Not everything, I was still adamant they would despise my existence were they to know the true extent of my madness. But there were trivia nights, binge drinking sessions, long conversations in pubs with fireplaces, cheap pizza, sharing of anecdotes, shopping trips, cinema visits and the whole gauntlet of wonderful fuzzy bunny feelings that being part of a social network brings.

And then came the abuse.

And then came the breakdown.

And then came the mania.

And then came the isolation.

From then, five years ago, nothing has really been the same. A couple of days with Sammi, a few months trying to reconnect with an old friend before I screwed up, a terrible decision to move to the desert, a relationship doomed to fail because of my own inadequacies.

And then nothing.

I cannot recall the last time I was touched.

I cannot recall the last time someone called just to talk to me instead of wanting me to help them.

I cannot recall the last time I spent time with anyone.

The circle of life has returned me to those long, painful teenage years of nothing and nobody but hallucinations and an anxiety so severe I cannot even comment on websites let alone maintain conversations with actual, living, human beings.

For a while I tried to use Twitter to re-engage with society, but that fell apart when the depression hit and I haven’t returned there for months. I was also a member of a social networking site (that shall remain nameless) where I attempted to connect with people of a shared interest, but once again, since the depression hit and my anxiety escalated to uncontrollable levels, I haven’t returned – despite enjoying my time there tremendously.

In both cases I am too afraid to go back. How do I explain my months of absence? How do I explain my complete lack of a life?

People say it is easier to find a job when you already have one. Ditto for housing. The same goes for friends. If you have friends you are more likely to find yourself invited to parties and social events where you are more likely to find yourself in a position to talk to new people. Plus, regular contact with others improves your ability to communicate (see my backpacking years, and the social network in Australia period) than if you were to be, say, living in a park for three years talking to hallucinated faeries and going completely insane.

My parents believe the isolation has caused more damage than the bipolar. Something I agree with. I like to think I’m not a bad person. I like to think I’m creative, passionate, interesting, caring and…and…even as I wrote those words my inner demons are instantly dismissing them as crap.

Like others I’ve tried to befriend over the years have said. What’s wrong with me? There has to be something pretty darned wrong with me to have no-one in my life who cares whether I live or die. And there lies the problem. The moment people discover I have no friends, their mind races around trying to figure out why I don’t – usually, as I do, settling on the he’s just an evil, worthless human being.

I would love to have a social life.

I would love to have friends.

I would love to reconnect with the world.

But with my anxiety off the charts, my mental health unsupported, my inability to trust anyone (including myself) since the abusive relationship and my determination to convince myself I’m the worst human being that has ever lived (again, a product of the abuse)…I have no idea what to do but remain alone.

Like my abuser said, my voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone I talk to, thus, I should kill myself to end the agony I bring to everyone.

When you don’t love yourself, when you don’t believe in yourself, when you don’t trust yourself, how can you create a social life? How do I get past the anxiety and find a way to talk to people again? What can I do to beat down the walls I’ve created to protect myself?

I honestly have no idea – and until I can find one – I can’t see me having any social life other than the isolated one I’ve been living.

This post was written as a stream of consciousness between 9:59 and 10:22. Please excuse any spelling, grammatical and woe-is-me depressive whining. I know it’s my fault I don’t have any friends and I’m trying to correct it, I just don’t know how.


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The impact of anxiety: #01. Commenting

As I explained in this recent post, writing has become a casualty of my current depressive episode, and as such I can only apologise for the lack of posts in recent months.

Without any real support fighting these episodes has become increasingly more difficult. What worked five years ago no longer has any effect or I simply don’t have access to anymore, but I need to continue pushing back toward stability. The next red mark on my calendar is swiftly approaching (October 11) and I dread what may happen if I can’t attain a better head space before then.

Part of that pushing comes in the form of trying to blog on a daily basis again. Over the months I’ve been away I’ve missed indulging in my own form of wacky therapy. No matter how bad my writing gets when I can’t focus properly, it’s better than not writing anything at all (cue the Lord Byron quote!)

Another part of working toward this better head space is attacking the parts of my being that cause the most problems. Namely the anxiety that has crippled me since I was a child and overtook my being courtesy of the abuse, not the crazy shifts of mood bipolar thrusts upon me.

I wrote a little of my anxiety back in the early months of this blog, but this series deals primarily with individual aspects of life that my anxiety has affected; past, present and future.

Today I look at something most people take for granted; commenting on newspapers, blogs and websites.

The Past…

When I was growing up I had no problem sending my opinion(s) to national publications:

At the age of 9 I sent a detailed letter to Blue Peter regarding the school garden we had created at my school. This letter was read and I become the humble recipient of a green Blue Peter badge (Brits will understand the magnitude of this!)

At the age of 13 I wrote a series of hints, tips and walk-throughs for the video game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that were published in an issue of a video game magazine I cannot recall the name of.

At the age of 16, a letter and quote I sent to Doctor Who Magazine was published, albeit with a misspelling of my surname.

At the age of 22, I had a comment published in a local newspaper, the first of many over the coming decade.

At the age of 30, an opinion piece I wrote and randomly sent to a local newspaper was published.

At the age of 31, I stopped.

Now, I cannot comment on newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites without suffering a major panic attack. The reason being quite simple; throughout my emotionally abusive relationship I was frequently insulted, criticized, attacked and publicly humiliated for sharing my opinions, so now, I fear a reprisal of the pain these incidents caused.

On one occasion I had a full glass of water poured over my head in a crowded restaurant on New Year’s Day for expressing a preference of one actor over another. There was no conversation following my voicing of this opinion, no questions or rebuttal. As soon as the name was spoken she picked up her glass and poured it over my head in full view of dozens of diners, staff and random people sneaking in to use the bathroom. After the incident I did as I was supposed to do; say nothing, share nothing and always ensure that what I was saying was what she wanted to hear for fear of further humiliation.

On another occasion, following a four hour monologue (I cannot call it a conversation as she said nothing throughout my talking) everything I’d shared with her was instantly disregarded with “That’s never gonna happen,” and “You’re just wrong.” Over the following months the information I’d shared with her was regularly raised whilst on trams, trains, walking through crowded shopping centers and street festivals. Never in private. The public forum, given the intensely personal and intimate nature of the information, was intensely humiliating as judgmental eyes and random comments were leveled at me from complete strangers.

On other random occasions comments and opinions I shared (even if they were true facts or a view shared by herself) were instantly shot down with numerous insults ranging from “you’re evil” to “no wonder you never went to college” to “you’re the most worthless human being I’ve ever met” to “yep, you’re gonna fail at college” – none of which being spoken with irony, sarcasm or humorous intent.

So over time I learned to shut the frak up. From actresses, film and television to my viewpoint on social and political issues to personal feelings, fantasies and desires, I made sure that whatever I said would meet with her approval, and thus, reduce the chance of humiliation and abuse.

The Present…

This self-sabotaging strategy of protection has continued ever since, aside from the odd random manic/hypomanic state where I can’t stop myself. Now that I’m homeless, a lifestyle that doesn’t exactly lend itself to being taken seriously, I don’t share any opinion in any forum outside of my control.

This week, for the first time in over a year, and only the third time since 2009, I did.

For the army of largely anonymous commentators (and trolls) who comment on a half-hourly basis, this sounds laughable, but for someone whose life has been annihilated by abuse, anxiety, and mental health, it was a big victory for me, despite the journey to the comment being littered with hazards and panic attacks.

I first read the article on Monday 13 August – the day it was published – and after reading both it and the report it discussed, began writing a three paragraph comment, prompted by the fact I am intimately acquainted with the topic being discussed; namely, homelessness.

I scrutinized each and every line ensuring there was no grammatical or spelling errors that I could locate. Every five minutes I rewrote individual sentences and entire paragraphs, removing any point that could prove contentious. After four hours my initial impassioned comment on the state of homelessness in Australia had morphed into a comment that was cold, emotionless and safe. Before clicking the ‘Post Comment’ button I quickly switched off the computer and ran from the room.

The mere thought of someone – anyone – criticizing my opinion, as had been the case throughout the relationship, was too great for me to go through with.

For the next seven days I read and re-read the article, constantly pondering whether I should write my comment again, let alone post it.

On Sunday 26 August I spent ten hours working on a new comment before deleting it.

On Tuesday 28 August, I spent another five hours writing yet another variation of the comment, before once again having a panic attack and erasing it from existence.

By Wednesday 29 August, my mind had been totally consumed by this bloody comment. It was now a week and a half since the article had been published. It was no longer being read, consigned to the graveyard of online journalism for the rest of eternity. But a strange determination had overpowered me.

So, I sat down, and for another four hours (making the total spent on this ‘project’ now 23 hours!) I wrote yet another variation of my initial comment – only now it had been written and rewritten so many times it was soulless, lacking in passion and as safe as a man wrapped in bubble wrap visiting a bubble wrap factory.

So I posted it

…and promptly had a panic attack!

The Future…

The thought that my opinion – albeit a heavily diluted one – is out there makes my skin crawl. Such a heightened emotional reaction to something as simple as writing a comment makes me think I won’t be doing it again in the near future, but I know I must if I ever hope to bring myself back from the brink and achieve a state of mind where I’m no longer controlled by this insidious anxiety.

So this week I hope to leave two comments and the week after that, three, and then four…until I finally feel comfortable enough doing it whenever the urge takes me. That’s the plan anyway, so hopefully any of the myriad of sites I try to visit for my news and opinion will write something that stirs my soul enough to concoct a comment, otherwise this personal challenge will amount to nought.

Tomorrow…The impact of anxiety: #2. Education >>>


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My Life in Happy Memories

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called My Life in Movies that was swiftly followed by My Life in Books. Throughout my depression fuelled hiatus I came up with other ideas to continue this series, so to coincide with an attempt to reignite this blog, here is another installment; the somewhat personal, My Life in Happy Memories, where I pluck a happy memory (or two) from each year of my life.

My Life in Happy Memories

1978 – Sleepy

A blissful state of calm, relaxed, inspirational contentment as I chilled in and out of sleepiness in my mother’s womb.

1979 – Aardvarks!

In March of this year I saved the world from an invasion of aardvark like aliens with an aversion to sherbet.

Or am I just writing something silly because I remember nothing from being 3 – 12 months old?

1980 – Tea Bag Sandwiches

In mid 1980 my mother passed out as a result of her diabetes. This occurred early in the morning, before Play School, leaving my three-year old brother to ensure I didn’t stab myself in the eye with a fork or ingest oven cleaner. At some point in the day he realised I would need to be fed (presumably around the time I kept screaming I was hungry) and made me a tea bag sandwich to sate my appetite. This filling was not chosen out of spite or a cunning practical joke, but merely because the bread and tea bags were the only things he could reach in the kitchen.

Unlike the two years above, this is actually true. My mother was in a coma for two weeks before finally coming out of it.

1981 – Blankie!

All I remember about this year is being a cute little boy with an addiction to his blankie. I loved that blanket!

1982 – Blankie! (Reprise)

All I remember about this year is…ummm…still being a cute little boy with an addiction to his blankie. I really loved that blanket!

1983 – RIP Blankie!

See 1981 and 1982 above…until my blankie was mysteriously destroyed in a freak washing machine ‘accident’!

Treharris Library – the site of my first memory!

1984 – My first memory

My earliest memory in life is walking from my home to the public library several miles away all on my own. In hindsight, the distance was more like a few hundred metres, but I still think it’s awesome my first memory is going to the library to indulge in a variety of literary delights.

1985 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! I must have sustained a head injury as it’s too early in my life to have been the result of an alcohol fuelled blackout.

1986 – Let no more be said on the matter!

My only real memory of this year isn’t so much a happy memory, but an embarrassing one, as it involves Indiana Jones pyjamas and partial nudity. Let no more be said on the matter!

1987 – Rats!

Or rather, gerbils! For this was the year my brother staggered out of his room at two in the morning proclaiming his pet gerbils had escaped and woken him up. It took several hours to find them, and the whole bizarre hunt around the house still makes me laugh to this day.

1988 – Agatha

December 1988 saw the single greatest piece of acting the town of Portlethen had ever witnessed. This may sound like arrogant modesty, but my turn as Agatha (one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters) was exquisite. And yes, I looked remarkable in a pink nightie!

1989 – Summer Holiday

In 1989 my family went on a holiday to Jersey, the crown jewel of the Channel Islands. Aside from an early addiction to fruit machines my strongest memories of this wonderful holiday are play acting Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the holiday camp’s swimming pool, and this amusing oddity.

Loch Ness © Addy

1990 – The Loch

For the five years that we had been living in Scotland, my parents had always promised to take us to Loch Ness. A few weeks before we moved to the land of leaks and marauding male voice choirs, they followed through and we set off on a day trip across the country where I, for the first time, became haunted by the epic body of water that I have since spent so much time exploring.

I recall little of the journey to Inverness, but remember arriving at the loch and beginning the circular journey around its shores. At one point we stopped for a picnic lunch. At another my father drove faster and faster, freaking out my sister, with every increase in speed. At another I swore I saw Nessie, as indicated in photographs and the old-school speech bubble stickers that were popular at the time.

I’ve often seen this visit as one of the moments that solidified my love of Scotland and, in my mind, the last time I can remember the family doing something together before the effects of my sister’s mental illness fully take hold.

1991 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! Possibly the result of a sugar overload as I don’t recall any head injuries and it’s still too early to be the fault of alcohol.

1992 – Girls, or rather, just one girl

This was the year I developed a crush on the most beautiful girl at school. She who had such a beautiful smile and, with her excellent bottom, looked spectacular in her netball skirt. I would love to write that I got to know her beyond this, but alas, my anxiety had already started taking hold.

Damn you anxiety!

1993 – The greatest video game of all time!

If you were to ask people what their favourite Zelda game is the most common response would be “Ocarina of Time“. Occasionally, you’ll have someone respond “Majora’s Mask” which will instigate an argument of epic proportions, despite the latter being far superior. Even rarer, someone will say “Twilight Princess“. Rarer still, would be the answer “What the frak is Zelda?” because it would be easier to find a flying pig than a Battlestar Galactica fan who doesn’t know the Legend of Zelda series.

When someone asks me what my favourite Zelda game is I always respond with Link’s Awakening. Not the dodgy colorized reboot, but the monochrome original, which is simply the greatest video game of all time. From the quality music score (yay, Ballad of the Wind Fish), to the storyline, to the awesome bosses (yay, Genie in a bottle), to the Pegasus feather, to the fact you can steal from the shop (yay, THIEF!) every single aspect of this game is pure excellence.

In a year when my mental health issues were beginning to escalate I have never forgotten my trip to Cardiff that summer to purchase an imported version of the game, and then playing it with a massive smile on my face until – twenty-four hours later – I’d uncovered every nook and cranny of the game.

Nearly twenty years later, I can still remember the laugh that erupted from my mouth as the timeless Zelda fanfare chimed out to the text “You’ve got Marin…!”)

1994 – Assembly Anxiety

In a year that saw my self-harm and anxiety escalate, the conversation I shared with the girl of my dreams (see 1992, above) as we bumped into each other on the way to assembly stands out. She really was incredibly hot!

1995 – The Secret of Mana

Given my admittance that I screwed up in choosing my A-Levels, my early weeks of this period were markedly improved with an epic multiplayer game of the SNES classic Secret of Mana with a school friend.

1996 – Even Andrew is drinking!

In 1996 I embarked on a school trip to the University of Exeter for a series of Maths based lectures. Yep, other schools got trips to the Alps or Venice, I got to go to Devon to listen to old men talk about algebra!

Upon arriving we were shown to our share rooms and sat around talking. As a couple of the girls walked past the room discussing their boredom one of them glanced in and saw me sipping on a bottle and proclaimed “Even Andrew is drinking!” – which, given I was one of the ‘geeks’ of the school was considered somewhat unbelievable. One of the boys in my room called back that it was just Sprite – unaware that I’d cunningly replaced the contents with vodka before leaving that morning.

1997 – My first homeless experience

Although many would consider it selfish, immature, heartless and plain naughty (rightly so) my happiest memory of this year was when I ran away from home. I understand how that sounds, but, in a valiant attempt to defend my choice, after years of dreaming, wishing and self-hating I got off my arse and did something for myself.

I can still recall the shrieks of the gulls as I disembarked the train at Inverness station and gulping in the fresh sea breeze as I ignored the enormity of what I was doing. That first day I walked nearly 30 miles down the A82 with a ridiculously heavy backpack purely because I (irrationally) decided it would be a good idea. The second day I explored the legend of Nessie. The third day visited Fort William (my home from home) for the first time. The fourth, my introduction to Glenfinnan occurred. The fifth, back in Inverness. Then, over coming days, Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh.

No matter how much of an arse I was disappearing, for which I spent a considerable time apologising, I can recall few times in my life where I felt as happy as I did exploring my adopted homeland as I did that week.

1998 – Ummmmm…

I have no memory of this year whatsoever, sorry! This one is most likely an alcohol fuelled blackout.

1999 – A Shy Guy in Scotland: Addy’s Scottish Adventure

After years of depression, anxiety and angst I jacked in my job, my home and the promise of a secure future to tackle my social anxiety head on with a backpacking jaunt around my favourite country in the world; Scotland.

Months of traversing Glens, Lochs, Sounds and Cities marked the coming of Addy and one of the greatest periods of my life; four months long-terming in a backpacker hostel in Inverness. Hence why I will shortly be writing a retrospective of this period on this very blog!

So keep your eyes peeled for A Shy Guy in Scotland: Addy’s Scottish Adventure.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney © Addy

Athabasca River © Addy

2000 – A Shy Guy in Canada: Addy’s Canadian Odyssey

The year 2000 will always be the year of Elks, endless train journeys, Kittyfantasticobeaver and Loonies. Three months of heaven yo-yo-ing across this great nation is one of – if not the happiest memory of my life. Hence why I will shortly be writing a retrospective of this period on this very blog!

So keep your eyes peeled for A Shy Guy in Canada: Addy’s Canadian Odyssey.

2001 – My first time (laugh if you will)

As previously mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I was a virgin until the early hours of the 1 January 2001. However pathetic this sounds, my first time was actually remarkably wonderful, hence why it, and the relationship that followed, will always be forefront in my mind for the year 2001.

2002 – Arriving in the land Down Under

After, quite frankly, a frustrating and annoying year of feeling like shit whilst living in my parent’s house as my girlfriend gallivanted around Europe and then returned to Australia without me, my year took a more positive turn at the end of October when I left the UK and journeyed to the other side of the world.

My first week in Australia was marked with randomly falling asleep on the beach (cheers, jet lag), getting lost trying to find a bookshop in Elwood and ending up in Elsternwick, a somewhat anxiety challenging party and falling in love with the recently opened Federation Square.

Good times.

2003 – Residency

It was November 2003 and I was walking along the Princes Street bridge in Melbourne. My beautiful girlfriend’s hand was in my own and as we walked toward the city she stopped, turned to me and smiled. Before she gave me a soft, delicious kiss, she told me that for the first time in over a year I looked perfectly happy and relaxed.

She was right; twelve months of stress, residency applications, unemployment, adjusting to a new country and oscillating in and out of depression had ended. I had just attained a full-time job, was deeply in love, financially fine for the first time in years and had slowly begun accepting Australia as my ‘home’ after being granted temporary residency.

2004 – Mum and Dad, this is Australia.

It had been over two years since I’d last seen them when my parents arrived in Australia for a three-week visit. I’d taken this entire time off work so I could relish in showing them around Melbourne and Australia. Cue tourist trips to Melbourne Zoo, the Aquarium, the Great Ocean Road and many of the finer places Victoria has to offer.

This period is populated with wonderful, happy memories – my parents have often said this is the happiest they’d ever seen me – one of which has been written about already, with more to follow.

2005 – An Oasis in the North

At the tail end of this year I had, after years of hard work, managed to turn a rather crap little backpacker hostel in the North of Melbourne into one of the finest accommodation options in the state. An achievement I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if not for the sterling work of my dedicated, talented team.

2006 – No comment

The happiest day of the year involved: ice skating, the circus, bikinis, an embarrassing public display that happens to men from time to time, salad sandwiches, a moonlit stroll, pasta and a woman covering herself in raw meat.

I shall leave it to your imagination to piece all this together.

2007 – A bet that is best described as Fifty Shades meets How I Met Your Mother!

Glandular fever, breakdowns, self-harm, manic phases, suicide attempts, the loss of everything I owned and my spiritual and emotional death dominate every week and month of this year, thus making happy memories few and far between.

Aside from the state of mind I reached in January/February, where, for the first time in my life I was happy with who I was, where I was and the direction my life was heading, there is only the viewing of series 3 of Doctor Who and Samantha left.

And however much I love Tennant’s sophomore year in the role, not even he can eclipse the night I met Sammi.

I read somewhere that episodes of mental health don’t change a person’s personality completely, they merely remove inhibition and amplify a person’s innate character. Under normal circumstance I would never in a million years walk up to a woman and say ‘hi’, let alone introduce myself by smacking them on the backside, but this is exactly what I did…and followed it with a near ninety minute monologue.

Sammi once told me she didn’t know what to do during that initial ninety minutes. Torn between being totally freaked out by my incessant talking and driven by curiosity to see whether I would stop talking before I passed out.

Thankfully, the curiosity won out, and as the evening progressed into alcohol fuelled manic insanity it was she who suggested the bet that I will never forget; cue streaking Rundle Mall in order to win it :)

2008 – I am come home

This year will always be remembered by my two trips to Scotland, the first time I’d visited my homeland in six years.

The first, a catalogue of memories beginning with walking through the High Street of my home from home as I made the journey from train station to hotel and continuing through day trips to Rhum, hiking Glen Nevis, a blissful three course meal in Drumnadrochit, making video diaries in the middle of a storm on Aberdeen beach and ending with the lesson that you can never go home again upon witnessing the changes Inverness had gone through.

The second trip was less outward exploration, more inward reflection and soul-searching. Meeting up with Sammi in Glasgow saw philosophical and intimate conversation take the front as she demolished my barriers to bring out the person she could see buried deep beneath the surface. A tact that saw the realisation of a dream and one of the greatest memories of my life, which alas, my anxiety prevents me from writing about in detail.

2009 – Geckos!

In the year that saw me become homeless, one of my last happy memories was a moonlit hunt for geckos (and other reptilian delights) in Central Australia.

Central Australia © Addy

2010 – One Tree Hill

Being the second worst year of my life (given that the vast majority of it was spent going insane in a park), my only real happy memory amidst the cavalcade of assault, insanity, loneliness and self-hate is the period I spent watching the oft-maligned, oft-misjudged One Tree Hill. I’ve written about this previously, and with the imminent Australian release of season 9, will most likely write about it again soon.

2011 – Taken for Granted

After months of sleeping on the street I managed, with the help of my parents, to afford a motel for the night of my birthday. Only once you’ve been away from the comforts you take for granted – running water, toilet, bed, warmth, shelter – can you fully understand how blissful this was for me :)

>>NEXT WEEK: MY LIFE IN…well, you’ll just have to wait and see!


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Booker Award: My top five books of all time!

Even though I’ve been too dragged down by the whirlpool of depression to post recently, I was nominated for a blogging award by Heather of the wonderful blog BitsnBooks.

This made me smile – who wouldn’t if they won an award – so a hearty thank you :)

The rules of this award are simple:

1.  Nominate other blogs, as many as you want but 5-10 is always a good suggestion.  Don’t forget to let your recipients know.

2.  Post the Booker Award picture.

3.  Share your top 5 books of all time

As I wrote in my previous post, I am a little incoherent at the moment, but I’ll do my best. Despite this incoherency, I do know that my top five books haven’t changed since 2009. In fact, three of them have been in the list for over a decade – one, for twice that time!

Enjoy, and if you haven’t read them, perhaps you should. Maybe you’ll love them as much as I do.

My Top 5 Books of All Time


1. Quest for a Kelpie (Frances Hendry)

“I sat, and listened, and smiled, and said little, and thought my own thoughts. It could just be an old woman’s fancy that the men seemed pompous and weak, the boys stupid and thoughtless, and the women vain, shrill and useless, in comparison with the folk of my youth; but I think not. Perhaps it is simply that they have never known, any of them, real hardship, which makes folk mature,”

When I was eight I played the recorder as part of my school’s recorder troupe. What few realized was that my decision to be part of this group had little to do with my love of this magnificent wind instrument and more to do with the fact I was the only boy in the group; and a ratio of eight girls to one boy is pretty awesome :p

In addition to using the recorder to entice beautiful girls with my cheeky magnetism I was also interested in books; Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and the Beano being my authors of choice. One afternoon my teacher, Miss Atkinson, began reading us a novel with a rather odd title. I had no idea what a Kelpie was and a quest was something Knights embarked on, not nine-year old lasses from fishing villages.

Over the course of the several days Miss Atkinson read this book to us, I became so enchanted by the writing, characters and period that I did not want it to end. But, as with all books, it did. So, I took my recorder clad self to the local library and borrowed the book so I could relive the adventure in my own time. I read it in my bedroom. I read it in on the Moss. I read it in my Aunt’s house. I read it so many times I memorized the book so that when I, finally, returned it to the library I was able to recall it whenever I desired.

When I was eighteen I ran away from home. It had been ten years since I’d read Quest for a Kelpie but my love of the book had never left my mind. One morning, after a particularly strange night in Stirling, I was browsing a charity shop whilst waiting for a train to Edinburgh. Sitting in the middle of a shelf was a small paperback copy of this much-loved childhood tome and all they were asking for it was a measly 50 pence.

The short train ride to Edinburgh was spent lost in the world I had loved so much growing up. As soon as I arrived in Edinburgh, I sat in the Princes Street gardens and finished the book before immediately starting it again that night.

This dog-eared, much read copy remained in my position for over ten years. Everywhere I went – Scotland, Belgium, Canada, emigrating to Australia – I made sure it came with me. Whenever depression took hold I would throw myself back into it to remind myself of the cheeky recorder player (pun intended) I once was.

2. Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

I first read this book in October 2009. After months of being homeless I had lost all hope of having a future and my mind was skipping around the edges of the abyss.

I read it in one sitting under a street lamp in the Kings Domain, interrupted only once by an old man out on a walk who seemed taken aback that a homeless person was reading a novel rather than shooting up or downing alcohol.

The moment I finished it I knew it should be required reading for everyone. It should be introduced into the school curriculum and studied at length. On one hand a touching account of youth, on the other an important treatise on depression and the indicators of suicidal ideation.

I have never forgotten the above quote, important words we should all live by. Even the most innocuous and random of actions can have devastating consequences on someone’s life.

I should know.

3. Memory and Dream (Charles de Lint)

“I finally figured out that I’m solitary by nature, but at the same time I know so many people; so many people think they own a piece of me. They shift and move under my skin, like a parade of memories that simply won’t go away. It doesn’t matter where I am, or how alone–I always have such a crowded head.”

Charles De Lint; my favourite author of all time, was introduced to me by a once great friend who has now faded into the mists of time. She told me of him one night over wine and cigarettes in a backpacker hostel and for months I kept a keen eye out for his books in every bookstore I visited.

Eventually, I found a copy of this book in a charity shop in Inverness. Again, a mere fifty pence provided me with a book I have long-held dear to my heart.

De Lint has inspired me more than any other writer in history. The genre he pioneers, Urban Fantasy, is the setting of 80% of my fictional writing and I have read all the work he had published up to 2009.

An event I have never overcome following my breakdown was selling my De Lint collection – years of scouring second-hand book stores and eshops – lost to the mayhem of mental health.

4. The Stornoway Way (Kevin MacNeil)

“I hope she’s having stupendous dreams, maybe of diamond ballgowns and glittering clifftop castles and golden tigresses thundering along naked beaches, and maybe she’s swimming whitely through the sky on a winged horse, surveying her pastel-tranquil world and there are pink roses like innocent kisses in her silken hair and the air all around her wherever she goes is exactly the temperature of a wraparound hug. Bless her. I’m in love.”

I can’t read this book anymore.

It is a trigger.

I read it in the latter months of 2006, as I was preparing to embark on my tertiary education journey, as I was solidifying my plans for the future, as I was feeling more confident and self-assured than I’d ever felt, as I was falling in love with a beautiful kind-hearted woman who turned out to be the sociopathic narcissist whose abuse would be the catalyst for my life’s destruction.

I want to read this book again.

But I can’t.

I think it would tip me over the edge.

Books I love, books I adore, books that enter my top five, I guard with an intensity that is hard to describe. In the months following my breakdown I knew, as with my De Lint collection, that I would end up selling my copy of this book for rent or medical expenses. I couldn’t bear the thought that this novel – which contains some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read – would end its life gathering dust on the shelf of a second-hand book store, so I gave it to a friend as a birthday present.

Where it is now, I have no idea, hopefully as with the other books on this list, it has found a loving home.

5. The Hotel New Hampshire (John Irving)

“Keep passing the open windows,”

Cars stress me. Buses scare me. Aeroplanes freak me. Trains…trains are another matter entirely. I love trains. I love the sound, the movement, the fact you have an understanding of scale and distance. Throughout my life, there have only been a handful of train journey’s I’ve ever taken that have stressed me out.

  1. A trip from Glasgow to Oban in 1999; the toilet was out-of-order and I desperately needed to go for nearly three hours. VERY uncomfortable.
  2. A trip from Glasgow to Fort William in 2008; a blissful time with Samantha saw my anxiety rising after saying farewell at Queen Street, cue panic attack.
  3. A trip from Edmonton to Toronto in 2000; after a week of pure happiness in the Rocky Mountains I was missing my new friend and wished to be heading west, not east.

What alleviated the frustration of that long trip across the prairies was one of three books I had picked up in a second-hand book shop prior to the journey. I’d read Irving before (the brilliant Owen Meany) but my newly made friend had recommended The Hotel New Hampshire and I always read recommendations from people I respect.

I read it in one day – not surprising, given I was trapped on a train. I re-read it almost immediately. I fell in love with Fran and Lily and Egg. I relished Irving’s prose and witty dialogue and keep passing the open windows became a mantra of sorts.

Like all other books on this list it is not merely a brilliant book, but a book that reminds me of a specific time and place. Of a state of mind that I have never been able to return to.

Quest for a Kelpie; the innocence and excitement of youth.

Thirteen Reasons Why; the faint glimmer of hope amidst a desolate, empty existence.

Memory and Dream; the joy of late night conversations with long ago friends.

The Stornoway Way; embarking on a new chapter of my life.

The Hotel New Hampshire; a period that was probably the closest I’ve ever come to pure happiness.

Today, every library, bookstore or charity shop I visit sees me looking for this book. I find copies of Widow for One Year, Garp, Owen Meany, The Fourth Hand, Cider House…but never this. Not once, in five years, have I found a copy of this book.

One day I will, and when I do, I will smile with pure happiness before opening the cover.

My Nominations

With my depression being as severe as it has been lately it is not just writing blogs that I’ve had trouble with, but reading them also. I feel bad about this, but hope to begin reading my favourite blogs again in good time.

1. The Wrong Road Home

2. Fringewalk

3. Story Treasury

4. Buckwheatsrisk

5. Fish of Gold

6. Writer’s Block

Until next time :)


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Tha mi ag iarraidh briosgaid!

This is the eighty-eighth blog post I have attempted to write since the last time I blogged. Each and every one deleted from my hard drive after a couple of incomprehensible paragraphs – usually accompanied by throwing something across the room with a loud expletive.

The simple fact is when I’m depressed, I cannot write, I cannot think, I cannot feel, I cannot do anything.

And right now, I am DEPRESSED with a capitol bloody everything!

I barely leave my unit. I do absolutely nothing every day. I sit on the sofa having day-long conversations with my abuser in a futile quest for answers or lying on the floor flagellating myself for being such a worthless, weak numpty. Yes, I’m too critical of myself. I have to be.

I have been eating less and less with each week and criticizing my ineptitude more and more.

On the odd occasions I leave the house I do so only to pay rent or swing by the library to accumulate DVDs to watch during my insomnia fuelled nights; my attention span and concentration being so low reading is (once again) off the table.

Nothing brings me pleasure. Nothing causes a smile. Nothing produces happiness.

I feel empty. A once strong, creative, passionate turtle who has walked so far he has shriveled up and dissolved to dust leaving nothing but a hollowed out shell for people to smash to smithereens.

Every day I’m haunted by the abuse I received; nothing I do shuts her up. Not alcohol, not knives, not Doctor Who. Every minute her voice assaults me to the point I have screaming matches in both public and private. Everything reminds me of the pain she put me through and the catastrophes that followed.

Every day I’m haunted by who I could have been had my hard work paid off. Had I pushed myself that bit harder. Had I put myself first. Had I not made the occasional mistake. Every minute my inner voice informing me of how useless I must be to have become the biggest failure the world has ever known.

Every day I am haunted by endless self-criticism; every minute my inner voice critiquing everything I have ever done in my life. Like I said, I have to. Criticism has far outweighed praise throughout my life.

It’s exhausting, destructive, soul-destroying and more painful than I can currently find words to describe.

These last few months have been (in my mind) the worst depressive episode I‘ve been in since 2007 – and it’s scaring the shit out of me. Back then, I slipped into an isolated state of nightmare following months of abuse, physical and mental illness, wild mood swings and horrendous assault that culminated in a suicide attempt that has, ever since, been referred to as ‘the day I should have died’.

I’m not scared of becoming suicidal again, nor of an actual attempt. I’m scared that I won’t.

I’m scared that I’ve been alone for so long I’ve convinced myself that all I deserve in life is punishment for whatever I did to “deserve” the abuse my abuser directed at me.

This is the eighty-eighth blog post I’ve attempted to write since the last time I blogged, and it comes nowhere close to explaining why I haven’t been writing anything, but unlike the others, I’ll post this purely for the small victory of ‘doing something’; even though it feels like I’m writing in a foreign language I can’t decipher.

I’m sorry for the depressing post and being gone for so long. I’m trying to right myself, but sometimes you just feel what you feel.

I’d like to write more of the happier times in my life but can’t figure out where to start. Any prompts and/or questions and/or anything you’d like to know would be appreciated. I can’t promise anything but it may be a start :)