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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20 Dreams I have…

The abject failure of my 365 Day Challenge is a perfect example of biting off more than I can chew.

Given my moods are cycling rapidly, sleep has become something of legend and my loneliness has never felt more suffocating, the urge to run from this blog is strong. I know if I stop writing things will only get worse, so I’m trying to push on regardless.

Whilst browsing the internet the other night I came upon a wonderful blog called The Bipolar Place written by bpshielsy; the writing is wonderful, the content inspiring and the fact his name contains my favourite Loch is probably only relevant to me, but you really should swing by and take a look.

Some of his posts form a twenty day challenge that I’ve decided to undertake myself (i.e. steal). The hope being that I will be able to complete this much shorter challenge, and at the end of it, be in a more stable mindset to keep going in all areas of life.

For Day One, we look at some of my hopes, aspirations and dreams.

20 Dreams I Have

1) To get my social anxiety under control so I can actually function as a human being.

2) Go on a date with Karen Gillan. What? She might have a fetish for kinky homeless people!

3) All I’ve ever wanted in my life is something most people take for granted; to be called a friend, a husband and a father.

4) To see a multi-Doctor story in celebration of Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary next year.

5) To be able to get through one day without flagellating myself for something I did in 2008. My self-hate is exhausting and destructive.

6)  I want to visit Uluru. No. I need to visit Uluru!

7) Achieve item 1 from my bucket list.

8) To meet my nephew.

9) Each day I am constantly hovering over the abyss; I would love to be able to focus on living instead of surviving.

10) To live to see the day where abuse against males is taken seriously in society.

11) To be able to walk into a cinema and watch a movie version of Chuck.

12) Go to university – even though I no longer believe it will happen as I fear I’m too far gone.

13) To be able to re-read any post I’ve written on this blog and actually like it.

14) Summon the confidence to publish the post I’ve had written for two weeks but still can’t bring myself to click the big blue button.

15) To see a world where homelessness is a thing of the past.

16) Karaoke Paradise by the Dashboard Light as a duet.

17) See my sister receive the mental health treatment she needs.

18) To be hugged again (as it’s been so long I’ve literally forgotten what it feels like!)

19) To know what I did to deserve the abuse I received in 2007.

20) To forgive myself.

The problem that I have with writing about my dreams is that even though I know what I want to do, where I want to go and how I’d like my life to be, the lack of support for my MH issues coupled with the doubler header of complete isolation and homelessness, makes me believe I’ll never achieve any of them. It’s frustrating, annoying, depressing, exhausting and makes me feel like a complete failure.

But until I’m dead, I’ll keep trying to find a way to realise them.

Now. Does anyone have Ms. Gillan’s email address?

Tomorrow: 19 quotes I love…


Teaser Tuesday: From Where You Dream

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My teaser for today is From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Pulitzer Prize-Winning author Robert Olen Butler.

“But eventually a thing kicked in that psychologists used to call functional fixedness. That is, if you have a certain place and certain objects that you associate only with a certain task, eventually the associational values build up in such a way that when you go to that place and engage those objects, you are instantly completely focused on that task.”

from From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
by Robert Olen Butler.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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My Sister and Me – Childhood; the most beautiful of all life’s seasons

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more,”
~ Jane Austen ~

Kathryn is a writer. She is a philosopher, an academic and witticist. She is a woman with a voracious appetite for literature, who dines on Shakespeare and Pynchon with a side salad of Homer before washing it down with a refreshing glass of Bronte.

Kathryn is an actress. She is an artist, an activist and a raconteur. She is a woman with an eidetic memory; who can recall grammatical mistakes from fifteen years past, quote passages from Dante and recite King Lear in perfect rhythm.

If you asked her who said: “A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others”, or what book began with: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day”, she could tell you before your heart had the chance to beat.

If you asked her who said: “Everyone’s getting spanked but me,” she would tell you with a smirk on her face, a grin that would only get wider if you asked her what started with the line: “There’s moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you’re gonna be.”

Kathryn is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known.

She is homeless.

She is mentally ill.

She is a stranger.

And I’ve wanted to write about her since first beginning this blog in October 2007, but the words would never come. If I didn’t love Kathryn as much as I do perhaps it would be easier to write about her; of her achievements, of her life, of everything that makes her who she is. But I do love her, more than words can describe, for big brothers always love their little sisters, no matter what.

These are some of the hardest words I’ve ever had to write; this is the story of my sister and me.

1. The most beautiful of all life’s seasons

“Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?”
Louis de Bernières ~

When I was but an innocent child I saw it my duty as a big brother to educate my sister in the ways of the world. Whilst having a bath one cool summer’s evening I pointed at my sister and informed her that she shouldn’t worry, when she got older she would grow a penis too. Given I was four and oblivious to the field of anatomical studies I didn’t use the word penis, just the word ‘it’, and she nodded at me with a slight smile that seemed to say ‘you’re a blithering idiot’ before throwing a rubber duck at my head.

As first memories of your sister go this has it all; embarrassment, sibling love, humiliation, rubber ducks and a rather random anecdote that will bring head shakes to those who hear it. At the time we were just carefree, innocent children, unaware of the demons that existed in the world. We spent our days sitting around watching Saturday morning cartoons, playing in the park, throwing mud at each other and generally making our parent’s life as miserable as possible. We were kids; it was our job to be as mischievous and naughty as we could.

If we wanted to dig up the garden looking for buried treasure, we would, and if I wanted to cover my sister in worms to make her squeal while we searched, then I did. Just as she would throw mashed potato at me for no reason other than she felt like it. We were siblings, teasing goes with the territory.

But no matter how much I teased her, I was always there to protect her. Whether that was accompanying her to school because she was afraid of Moss Monsters or receiving lines in detention for hitting someone who dared insult her. She was my little sister; I would have done anything for her.

We were vacationing together, my sister and I. For the life of me I don’t remember why my parents and elder-brother weren’t with us, but for a week we hung out with our Nan and cousin. On one occasion we visited Chessington Zoo (in the days before it became the World of Adventures) where upon arrival our Nan became ecstatic about seeing a robin in a tree. With all the elephants, bears, penguins, giraffes and hippopotami that resided beyond the entrance our cousin cracked us up by saying “We haven’t come all this way to see a robin.”

Whilst later that same week my sister chose a book she wanted as our bedtime story. A rather cliché story of children enjoying a day on the beach became a confusing, David Lynch-esque nightmare when our Nan failed to grasp the concept of the ‘Choose your own adventure’ format. Instead of allowing us to choose the fate of these two children, our Nan simply read the book cover to cover and upon finishing declared to us that it was the worst book she’d ever read as it was complete nonsense.

This is how my sister and I were when we were children; normal. One minute concocting grand schemes of world domination involving buckets of tadpoles and our pet cat; the next having our said plans foiled by mum’s slipper. One day we were re-enacting heartfelt scenes of sibling love we’d seen in Neighbours; the next we were creating scenes of such domestic hostility they wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in that Antipodean soap opera. Kathryn would give me advice on how best to play my role as the Ugly sister; I would help her with her times-tables; she reciprocated with my grammar (something she always had a better grasp on) so I would offer assistance with her history (something she always had a better grasp on as well!)

In those halcyon days we were just Addy and Kathryn; brother and sister. But all that changed around the time of my sister’s ninth birthday, when she was cast in a school play and had to wear a leotard as part of her costume. Three years later, at the age of twelve, Kathryn was admitted into a psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder.

She was still my little sister, the girl I’d played with, laughed with and planned world domination with.

But I was no longer her brother, I was contagious.

To be continued…
Wednesday 19 September:
  My Sister and Me (Part 2)
Friday 21 September: My Sister and Me (Part 3)

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I love the things I love about me

When I was younger (so much younger than today) I used to sit around writing my thoughts into a journal. Sometimes they were sad, sometimes extravagant. Other times they were poignant and/or personal. Often I would challenge my anxieties over my self-worth and lack of self-esteem by undertaking random exercises I would read about in books or on the internet.

This, completed in 2006, was one such exercise.

The premise was simple:

1) Sit yourself somewhere comfortable and relaxing
2) Take a fresh sheet of paper
3) Write “The Things I Love About Me” at the top of it, and then
4) For fifteen minutes write down as many things you love about yourself as you can.

It didn’t matter what these things were, it didn’t matter how stupid, pointless or irrelevant, it didn’t matter if anyone else agreed with you. This was your list of things you love about yourself; the rest of the world be damned!

Normally I’m not very good at such things (I have a lot of self-hate festering away inside me) so when I sat myself down I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, especially as I’d just come out of a long-term relationship so wasn’t exactly feeling the love.

After fifteen minutes, I’d surprised myself:

♥ I love my small patch of back hair ♥ I love how I care so much about the people that populate this crazy planet ♥ I love my laugh ♥  I love how my tongue always gets bitten when I’m concentrating ♥ I love my bum ♥ I love how I get all goosebumpy sometimes, say when I’m watching a film or listening to music or having a really good idea ♥ I love the sparkle in my eye when I’m happy ♥ I love that even though I was shit scared I still got on a plane and came to Australia ♥ I love my eyes ♥ I love how I feel when I’m around someone I care about ♥ I love my unending array of giggles ♥ I love the cute sheep I draw ♥ I love that I love going down on women soooo much. The smell. The taste. The way it feels. Bliss! ♥ I love my mind in all its warped wacky kinky bizarre exotic erotic insane madness ♥ I do love that I give good hugs ♥ I love that I cry when I need to ♥ I love my eclectic musical taste ♥ I love I can sing and dance in the street without caring ♥ I love my giving nature ♥ I love my characters, because they came from me. I give birth to them and then allow them the freedom to evolve as individuals ♥ I love I cry when I write my stories from time to time ♥ I love how peaceful and serene I feel when looking at the stars ♥ I love that no matter how low, depressed and suicidal I get I always manage to find a reason to not kill myself ♥ I love my kimnyk ♥ I love my ability to remain quiet and listen when I need to ♥ I love my penis ♥ I love my eclectic taste of movies ♥ I love that when I travel I try to get a feel/taste/smell of the place rather than merely explore the well-worn tourist tracks ♥ I love I can sit for hours on end in a single spot and allow my thoughts to roam free ♥ I love my cuddly toys ♥ I love they all have names ♥ I love that they all have their own personality ♥ I love that I’m a proud self-confessed Doctor Who fan, even before the new series came along ♥ I love my bendy little toe ♥ I love that I have a thing for dungarees ♥ I love my odd decisions – such as hiking the A82 to Drumnadrochit with a fracking heavy backpack on ♥ I love my bum (said it before, will say it again) ♥ I love that by nature I am kind and genuine ♥ I love that my favourite sport is snooker ♥ I love my soap opera dreams ♥ I love I truly believe in all the mythical creatures; from dragons and demons to faeries and pixies, and of course, Nessie ♥ I love how my backside feels after being given a playful slap ♥ I love my stories, no matter how crap they are ♥ I love being a sooky romantic ♥ I love continually challenging myself ♥ I love being brave enough to write journals ♥ I love how they’ve grown and evolved and become a part of me rather than just being a book of actions and moments ♥ I love looking after people ♥ I love my sentimentality ♥ I love my memories ♥ I love that even though I lose sight of it at times I do have a solid understanding of (a) who I am at heart and (b) who I am continually working to be ♥ I love that I have such wonderful, kind, inspiring and down-right fantastic friends ♥ I love pulling fluff from my belly button ♥ I love my flaws – all of them ♥ I love that my favourite character from The Wizard of Oz is the lion ’cause he’s awesome ♥ I love the two freckles on my left hand ♥ I love that I love female bottoms – ’cause they are absolutely gorgeous ♥ I love how yummy it makes me feel when I caress a woman’s butt ♥ I love my asides and babbles and incoherent (often public) rambles ♥ I love my cuddly figure ♥ I love my nipples ♥ I love my massages (they ain’t professional but at least they’re caring) ♥ I love how giving massages makes me feel ♥ I love my hair and the style I’ve settled on ♥ I love my ability to try and see the goodness in people ♥ I love how I try to hug stuff in my sleep ♥ I love that I just love cuddles ♥ I love how I try to write massive streams of consciousness in my journals that capture that moment’s emotions for all their strange, upsetting, happy, sad, excited, elated insanity ♥ I love my hobbit feet ♥ I love dancing naked to cheesy 80s music even if people are watching ♥ I love my accepting nature ♥ I love how I can , at times, feel very passionate about even the most minor and irrelevant of things ♥ I love my beard after I’ve conditioned it ♥ I love my intense passion for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland ♥ I love how my favourite book is an obscure Scottish Children’s book about facing up to your fears ♥ I love that it’s been my favourite book since I was 7 ♥ I love my kindness ♥ I love how I want to change the world – even though I feel it’s pointless sometimes ♥ I love being who I am ♥

Note: The above list was written in August 2006, shortly after the end of a long-term relationship and before the abuse, breakdown, isolation and homelessness rendered me non-functioning. It is an exact word-for-word transcription of the things I wrote in my journal and was originally published on November 22 as the second post on the original version of this blog.

Remember, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have. Love yourself; because you are awesome, no matter what anyone tells you.

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Behind the Lens #7: Montreal Airport

This week’s theme ‘Behind the Lens’ is a combination of photography and memory. Each day a random image will be plucked from my archive and – regardless of how good it is – showcased on the blog along with the story behind the image. Today, an ending, Montreal Airport.

Montreal Airport (Canada, August 2000) © Addy

“The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche~

Approximately ten minutes after this photograph was taken I was walking through the departure gates to bid Canada adieu. For three months I had travelled the breadth of the country two and three-quarter times; Vancouver to Halifax to Vancouver to Montreal. I had met dozens of amazing people, spent time with old friends and fallen in love. Or rather lust, considering we barely knew each other. Each day in that land of elk and beaver I’d challenged myself to become a better person.

I ate strawberries and cherries for the first time, I kept a running tally of women in dungarees (the CDC), I skinny dipped, hiked mountains, leapt ravines, gave a massage for the first time and took a swim with a few snakes. Realising a childhood dream I’d purchased a hat that made me look like Indiana Jones, lost it in Toronto, purchased a new one, then lost that one about two hours before this photo was taken. I’d even performed an impromptu Shakespeare rendition and hugged a tarantula.

This photo, taken after a twenty-four hour period at the airport, will always remind me of those three months. Sure, it was an ending, but it signalled a new beginning. I was stronger, more confident, oozed self-awareness and believed in myself for the first time in my life.

It will always remind me that, once, for a brief moment, I attained a state of blissful ecstasy. A happiness I fear will never be felt again.


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Sunday Stealing: The 88 Meme (Part 2)

Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes.

Last week I tackled the first 68 questions of this epic meme, today, we have the last twenty questions. So when you’re sitting comfortably, you may begin.

The 88 Meme (Part 2)

69. Song you’re thinking of right now?

Thin Blue Flame by Josh Ritter, one of my favourite songs of all time. If you don’t know it I suggest watching the video below :)

70. Want someone back in your life?

Absolutely. Putting aside Rachel, Stephanie and Samantha, I can think of three people who I would walk naked over fiery coals in the middle of Federation Square whilst being pelted with rotten tomatoes (and the occasional poisoned arrow) if it meant getting them back in my life.

71. Will tomorrow be better than today?

I bloody hope so! This week has been somewhat rough in terms of mood, memory and triggers. I need things to get better, soon.

72. What’s the color of the underwear you are wearing?

Red. I like red underwear.

73. Who was the first best friend that you ever had?

The first best friend I had was Louise, my first girlfriend. Discounting that sexual relationship it would have been Kathy, who turned out to be an abusive sociopathic narcissist. Other than those two I’ve only had one best friend where my feelings were purely platonic but I screwed up.

Now, there’s just me.

74. How do you react when someone disappoints you?

Disappointed, obviously, but after that initial emotional hit I’d give them the benefit of the doubt as we all make mistakes. After several chances, I may be less forgiving, but depending on how I felt about them and what they meant to me, forgiveness would always feature.

But that’s just who I am.

75. Is there anyone who understands your sexuality?

Throughout my thirty-three years I’ve only ever encountered one person who understood my sexuality. After years of being stereotyped, misjudged, insulted, accused and humiliated; after years of being forced to ‘fix myself’, ‘cleanse the disgusting urges from my soul’ and labelled ‘pure evil’ over my less-than-normal desires, I met a woman named Samantha.

After a somewhat random first night in Adelaide we developed a cyber-friendship that involved several email exchanges about the hows, whys and wherefores of my impulses and – unlike other people I had opened up to about this – she aimed questions rather than critisisms, offered understanding rather than ultimatums and accepted that this part of me was merely that. A single aspect of my personality rather than a definition of it.

I’ve only begun telling the tale of my short-but-beautiful friendship with Samantha but without her I’d still despise this part of my being.

love project 2

76. Are you a naturally happy person? Or is your happiness forced?

Given I suffered from various mental illnesses from my teenage years I have come to understand that happiness is never happiness when it’s forced, it is merely someone pretending to be happy for the benefit of others which usually means they’re making themselves sadder.

I would much rather someone allow themselves to feel whatever they’re feeling without feeling that they have to manufacture their feelings for the sake of other people’s feelings. And yes, I’m going for the world record of how many times I can write feelings in one paragraph, hence my lack of synonyms :p

As for myself, I think I am a happy person, but most people see the depression and/or anxiety and think I’m not. They don’t realise that just because I’m not smiling all the time doesn’t mean I’m not happy. You can be happy within yourself without looking like the Cheshire Cat. My abuser used to make all manner of wild, unfounded conclusions based on her inability to understand this.

77. Is there anyone you wish would fall in love with you?

Yes; Karen Gillan, Vanessa Hudgens, Helen Mirren, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan…but, okay, it’s highly unlikely any of them ever will, but I can still dream of cooking Karen Gillan breakfast in bed before giving her a massage, can’t I?

As for people in real life, well, there weren’t many around last time I checked – damn you social anxiety – but there are people I crush on.

78. What do you wear when you sleep?

Usually pyjamas. Sometimes I wake up naked completely unaware of removing them. Other times I just wear whatever I fancy.

79. Are you obsessed with something right now?

I’m always obsessed with something, a little OCD here, a little there, just another part of my personality I have little control over.

80. The first person you loved is?

Louise. Who I’ve talked about many times before, most recently, an unsent letter.

81. Something terrible happened to you?

Pick a page of this blog, any page…I’ve had far too many terrible things happen to me. Some were my fault. Other weren’t. Kinda over it.

82. You are locked up with your celebrity crush for days, what happens?

Seriously? How R-rated do you want me to get?

If I was locked up with Karen Gillan the first thing I’d want to do is talk about Inverness. Not only would this take our minds off of our imprisonment but would serve as a lead in to clumsy flirtatious gestures and possible sexual shenanigans just to pass the time. If said flirtation failed, I would just ask her all sorts of questions to get to know her as a person in the hope a friendship could develop, for who wouldn’t want to be friends with Karen Gillan?

83. If you could wish something, what would it be?

To no longer be alone. It’s killing me. Or less selfishly, the end to all forms of discrimination.

84. Ever try to force someone to do something?

No. You should never force anyone to do something they don’t want to do.

85. When you are alone, what do you think about?

Pick a page of this blog, any page…I’m alone all the time so what I think gets written here. Some of it pretty, some of it poignant.

Most of it is random, obscure, self-loathing, unpredictable and strangely enjoyable.

86. How was your first sex?

Beautiful. Seriously, it was. I lost my virginity in the early hours of the 1 January 2001 (officially the new millennium) to a wonderful woman on an island that is my favourite place in Scotland. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

87. What’s your favorite music genre?

If I had to pick a genre it would be folk/rock, but my musical taste is so eclectic I rarely if ever think of the genre.

88. Are you happy I only wrote 88 questions?

Yep. Although I’m curious if you’d be able to come up with 888 questions, care to take up the challenge?

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Behind the Lens #6: Light (Abstract)

This week’s theme ‘Behind the Lens’ is a combination of photography and memory. Each day a random image will be plucked from my archive and – regardless of how good it is – showcased on the blog along with the story behind the image. Today, an abstract; Light [4].

Light [4] (Port Fairy, February 2006) © Addy

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong.
No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first,
and is waiting for it.”
~ Terry Pratchett ~

It should come as no surprise that after arriving in Australia I found myself succumbing to the occasional bout of homesickness. Being thousands of miles from my home, my family and the culture I grew up in was a lot more difficult than I’d imagined. At times I would lose myself in Scottish music; allowing the haunting melodies of fiddle and bodhrán to soothe my aching soul. On other occasions I would transport myself to my homeland though the literature of MacKay Brown, Gray, Stevenson or Burns. Occasionally neither of these strategies would work, so I would head to my home from home, the wee town of Port Fairy on the south-western coast of Victoria.

From the moment I first visited this town in November 2004 it felt like home. The proximity of the ocean reminded me of Inverness, the air recalled Portree, the calming nature transporting my soul to the distant West Coast villages I’d fallen in love with during my backpacking years. Over a number of visits I began to be known around the town; in the hotel I always stayed at I was the writer-photographer working on an urban fantasy novel, in the pub I was the whisky (with no ‘e’) drinker, in the milk bar I was the apple and blackcurrant juice drinker and to everyone else, I was just another citysider who had succumbed to the beauty of their town.

In February 2006 I was in a dark place. Months of depression and stress had taken their toll and the discovery of the affair my girlfriend had been lying about for three years hadn’t helped. I was lost, alone, confused, teetering toward suicide and desperate for home. For five days I retreated to this magical town. One day spent cycling around the local area, another spent staring out to the ocean, across them all throwing myself into the healing power of literature. As I cycled and stared, as I read and pondered, I would take photographs in an effort to pull myself from the abyss. To lift my spirits so I could once again soar toward happiness.

One night, following a nasty panic attack, I took my camera onto the darkened streets and took a series of abstract photographs focussing on light. Perhaps my intention was to distract myself from my thoughts, perhaps it was to focus on something I needed to guide me from the darkness, either way, for a moment it worked.

Of the six photographs that comprise this series, this is my favourite, perfectly capturing the delicate balance of my soul at the time; the light bleeding into the dark, the confusing, interconnected maze of light battling for prominence mirrored the battle my soul fought between life and death.