Whilst glancing at the published posts title a moment ago I realised that this is in fact my
but unlike my 100th blog post celebration there will be no such extravagant self-love here. I have after all cheated (a little) by importing several dozen posts from the early days of my blogging adventure, which have thrown the stats off a little :p
So I’ll put the cake away for later and instead focus my efforts on today’s daily challenge, which is six things I can’t live without.
For someone who’s life is a series of carefully manufactured protective measures this question is actually quite simple for me to answer. Balancing precariously over the abyss of self-harm and suicide on an almost daily basis I’d be long gone if it weren’t for several things I turn to when I slip into these darker emotional states.
1. My strength
I’m not talking about my physical strength here, but my emotional strength. Sure, there are many people out there who would question this. How can someone with emotional strength suffer a breakdown, from anxiety and panic attacks, from PTSD fuelled nightmares? Hell, how can someone with emotional strength attempt to kill themselves on a yearly basis or self-harm?
The reason I have such an insane pride of my emotional strength is because of all this. As I wrote recently:
But you know what?
I’m still fucking standing!
After years of misery, isolation, judgment, abuse, discrimination, homelessness and pain so intense I’d never wish it on my worst enemy…I’m still standing here, I’m still breathing and I’m still laughing!
from “Stop the abuse: why I left Twitter and why I’m returning“
No-one, no matter what they do or say, will ever be able to make me doubt my strength. Ever.
Without it, I would have been dead years ago!
2. Cold Showers
This has nothing to do with the fact I haven’t got laid in years. Many years ago, when I first began trying to control my self-harm, I read that having a cold shower could distract you from committing an act of self-injury. So I tried it, and it was bloody cold, and it worked.
Although it’s not something I do on a daily basis I still, from time to time, force myself under a jet of cold water when the urge becomes too strong and nothing else works. For anyone battling with self-harm, it may be worth giving it a try one day.
Anything is better than self-harming, believe me :)
3. Red Felt Pens
This is something I only really started doing after I became homeless. I’d read in the past how it could help control self-harm urges but always talked myself out of giving it a try.
One particularly dark night in 2011; with no access to a cold shower, a friend to talk to, a TV to watch, music to listen to or any of my other fail safes, I walked to a Safeway supermarket and purchased a red pen. Retreating to my park in the northern suburbs of Melbourne I whipped my shirt off and began writing on my arm.
I wrote I fucking hate you followed by piss off c**t and a myriad of other self-hate syllables directed at both myself and my inner demons.
But after a while, after I’d vented all the swear words I could think of, I drew a picture of a sheep. And then a pig. And a worm. And then an owl staring at the worm as if thinking mmmmm, lunch. After half an hour I had the cast of Animal Farm drawn on my arm – and I was laughing!
A few days later I found myself doing it again, this time drawing a panorama of Scotland. The next night, a really bad portrait of The Doctor. The next night, a completely random abstract pattern of lines, dots and swirls that stretched across both arms, chest and belly.
I had become obsessed with drawing better and better images on my body, things I would be proud to display; something I’ve never felt about my scars.
4. My computer
Most people take certain things for granted: iPod/MP3, smart phone, computer, roof over your head, daily food stuffs, clean underwear and friends. The last five years of my life I haven’t had any of these things on an ongoing basis. Aside from friends, the one that I missed the most was my computer.
I missed having the ability to write (my mind works too fast for pens sometimes), to browse news sites, random beautiful blogs and porn sites (don’t…give a homeless guy a break!) I missed having a means to communicate with the outside world and make me feel like I had something in my life.
When my counselor offered me a brand spanking new fourth hand computer shortly after I moved into my unit I did a happy dance outside the local Safeway supermarket. Literally! Sure, it took me several weeks to get a working operating system and I still rely on internet cafes and libraries for internet, but the computer allows me to do all that I listed as well as watch DVDs, occasionally listen to music and give me an outlet for my creativity.
I know what I’m like when I don’t have a computer, and it ain’t pretty. It has definitely saved my life.
I’ll be honest. I have a sock fetish.
Ever since my homelessness ended I budget to buy seven new pairs of socks a week. A waste of money, definitely, but when you’ve worn the same pair of socks for three months straight (2010) you begin to develop a complex about dirty socks.
Yep, it’s a hangover of anxiety and PTSD from my time on the street, but I get seriously bad if I don’t have a new pair to wear each day!
6. My mind
However much I despise the mental illness, I could not live without my mind.
My imagination is something I have cherished and adored since I was a child, my ability to emphasise with other people, the memories of better times and beautiful people who provide a source of solace, happiness and hope, my creativity can keep me occupied for days (or is that hypomania or other such bipolar related shenanigans) whilst my endless need to keep myself stimulated is both a curse and blessing.
Directly linked to my strength, I would be nothing without my mind.
Tomorrow: 5 Photos of me when I was little…