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…

SOC: Writing is hard work at the best of times

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This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Wednesday 17 October 2012 between 11:32am – 12:13pm. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Writing is hard work at the best of times, let alone when you suffer from mental illness and have to deal with poverty and the day-to-day demands this holds over your life and health. Posts that set out to be one thing end up becoming something entirely different. Posts that could be brilliant become obscure bile regurgitated by a bipolar controlled mind.

Yesterday I had a job capacity assessment at Centrelink. This interview is an integral part of my disability support pension application and could not be missed. I woke early – around 4am – following a vicious nightmare that pulled my mind back into the events of Adelaide 2007. This isn’t an unusual event, these nightmares are a major factor of my five-year long insomnia, and set me on-edge for the remainder of the day.

So, instead of a calming and focussed 10km walk to Centrelink, the nightmare heightened my MH issues, throwing my anxiety and hallucinations into overdrive – which in turn had a physical reaction by amplifying my IBS and forcing me to run to both public toilets and trees throughout the long walk. By the time I arrived at Centrelink I was a mess; which some could argue would assist in my claim. The answers to my questions became rambling, confused, bullet points as my mind fought with the voices and the urgent need to visit a bathroom.

By the time I had walked the 10km home I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t think straight, the voices were deafening and even though I was starving I knew I couldn’t eat anything as I couldn’t pull myself together to cook the tin of baked beans that was my food for the day. Instead I collapsed in front of the computer and tried to force my mind to action; I read articles that angered me, articles that infuriated me, tweets that made virtually no sense and even before I attempted to write anything I knew my day was done.

I collapsed onto the sofa and stared at Pretty Little Liars for three hours before beginning to spontaneously cry. At first it was only a few tears but within minutes I was full on bawling; the sort of bawling that, had I had anything in my stomach, would have resulted in vomiting.

All I could think was my life used to be so much more than this. I used to be able write at the drop of a hat. I used to be able to form sentences and complex plots involving multiple characters and incidents. I used to be able to write well enough to be published.

Yesterday, like many days in recent years, I wanted to write. I wanted to engage. I wanted to contribute. But I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t get off the couch; the din of the voices, the emptiness of my life, the disconnection of my mind, the simple fact I’m broken and have been for so long I don’t think there’s enough superglue and liquorice to put me back together again.

And as I thought these thoughts my mind turned to all the writers who were producing. Who were able to focus their minds into blog-posts that are retweeted hundreds of times or produce fiction of such brilliance that it is applauded around the globe.

And all these thoughts did were amplify my own failings, my inability to come up with inspiring blog posts, my inadequacy of voicing the stories that burn within me. Thoughts that nourished the voracious circle my mind was locked into.

Eventually I stopped crying and just stared at the ceiling. I did that for hours; whilst other people were contributing to society, writing inspirational words, engaging in conversation and furthering their lives. I lay on a couch memorizing every blemish of my white ceiling.

Several hours later I crawled off the couch and logged online. All I could do was correct the mistake I’d made about scheduling my Teaser Tuesday post and reblogged an artwork that made me smile. No matter how much I wanted to I couldn’t locate the words within me to write the posts I wanted to write. Not for the first time, my mental health was controlling me.

Minutes later I was lying in bed wondering how other people do it. All the millions of blogs. The billions of stories. How do people do it? How do they come up with new ideas? How do their keep their content fresh? How do they keep writing when their minds don’t let them?

 

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7 thoughts on “SOC: Writing is hard work at the best of times

  1. When I read that your only food for the day is a can of baked beans, it stays with me because it is hard to believe so many people are in this situation. You will have to excuse my ignorance in this subject matter. Are there not places that give food to people who need it? If so, what are they called and how does it work for people in your situation? Interested & concerned. If you would prefer to email me. [email address edited by Addy] Kat

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    • There are charities that can help with food. Most larger towns have a ‘Food Bank’ where people on low-income (you need to produce a concession card) can get food parcels whilst in larger cities there are also soup vans, which anyone can go to. The nearest soup van to me (being away from a major metropolitan centre) is a 10km walk (near to the Centrelink) but there is a food bank closer that I use when I can. A lot of these places have a limit on how many times you can go (most I’ve come across are once a month) otherwise they run the risk of being inundated with people visiting several times a week and rorting the system.

      Because of bills and unexpected emergencies, the last couple of weeks have been financially tough for me as it’s always the food budget this money has to come out of. I went to the food bank last Wednesday (they give you enough for a few days) so it’s now just a case of rationing what I have until I get my next payment on Saturday. It’s tough, but I’ve lived like this for a while now so I’m kinda used to it…although it doesn’t stop me from dreaming of visiting a restaurant for a slap-up, three course meal sometimes :p

      PS…I edited the email address from your comment incase nasty spammers got hold of it :)

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  2. This is an extremely well-written piece, a great contribution, Addy.

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  3. What struck me most was your words “whilst other people were contributing to society, writing inspirational words, engaging in conversation and furthering their lives” I’m wondering if you realise that you just did that? Some times I know this struggle well, and I forget that I’m not alone in that struggle. Go easy on yourself Addy, You had a bl**dy hard day, and while it probably doesn’t feel like it, it is okay. And this is a great post.

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  4. Hi Addy. I hope your application for DSP is successful. It will give you more room to move in terms of buying food and keeping up with bills. You deserve this. I’m sorry the other day wasn’t a good one. It can be overwhelming and stressful during these appointments. I get anxious with the most basic of outings so I can relate to the way you feel. I’ve been on the DSP for over a year now, and whilst I continue to struggle both mentally and financially, having this in addition to having my own place has given me time to focus on recovery and trying to be positive about the future. Again, I wish you the very best. I’m sure things will improve when your DSP comes through. Good luck mate!

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    • I really don’t know what I’d do if they reject the DSP application. I know things would still be tough if I got on it but it would make my journey toward recovery much easier as things have reached breaking point :/ It’s just a waiting game now (I’ve been told 2-3 weeks before decision) so I just have to sit tight and try not to stress about it too much.

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  5. Your piece made me remember the times of sitting on my couch and thinking, “Tracy, move. You need to pay bills. Dishes…” Then, I blinked my eyes because my eyes seemed to be dried out from starring at the wall. I also remember being so upset that I started crying all over the place until I vomited. Don’t give up on blogging. Some of my blog entries are good ones and others are bad ones.
    Good luck with your application.

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