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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My Life in Animated Movies

Over the last several months I have been writing a sporadic series titled  ‘My Life in…‘ where I highlight the films/books/moments/music that have defined me through each year of my life. As it’s been a while since I wrote a fun post, here is ‘My Life in Animated Movies’.

For each year since I was born, until last year, I have chosen an animated movie that has resonated throughout my life. Not necessarily the best animated movie of the year, but the one that would feature in a DVD collection that speaks of who I am in my soul.

Animated Movies

1978       The Lord of the Rings    

This was my introduction into the world of Tolkien and, unlike the recent adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’, can be watched without the sudden need to fall asleep.

1979       The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This was my introduction into the world of C.S.Lewis…although it’s not as good as the 2005 movie or the classic BBC serial.

1980       Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!)

Charles M. Schulz. ‘Nuff said.

1981       The Fox and the Hound               

This is the first animated film I can remember seeing at the cinema. My mother took my siblings and I to see this in Richmond (London) at a time when I was completely unaware of who Kurt Russell was.

1982       The Secret of NIMH       

Why are rodents so popular when it comes to animation? When the finished product is this good, who really cares?

1983       The Wind in the Willows            

This film used to freak me out. Seriously.

1984       Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind        

Hands up who can pronounce Nausicaä correctly? I saw this for the first time during a Studio Ghibli retrospective at the Cinema Nova in 2005, a magnificent feat of animated storytelling.

1985       The Black Cauldron        

Do you remember heading down to the newsagent as a child and spending your hard earned pocket money on pointless packets of stickers? Do you remember ripping open the packets hoping this time you’d find the one bloody sticker that was preventing you from completing the album, but you never did?

Disney’s The Black Cauldron was the only (the only) sticker album I ever completed and remains in all it’s disheveled, disintegrating glory in a box in my parent’s house as proof completing a Panini album was indeed possible.

1986       The Great Mouse Detective      

If this film hadn’t been made it’s entirely possible my life-long love affair with Sherlock Holmes would never have occurred, for this was my introduction into the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved creation. (see, animated rodents :p)

1987       Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale     

John Clarke provides one of the voices; ‘nuff said!

1988       My Neighbour Totoro   
Runners up: Grave of the Fireflies, The Land Before Time

Simply the greatest animated movie of all time…ever…period! The only people who could possibly disagree with this accolade are those who have never seen it. Hopefully you’re not one of them.

1989       The Little Mermaid        

I used to have a crush on Ariel. Just saying.

1990       Duck Tales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp            

This film will forever remind me of my childhood. And dodgy NES games. And rediculously addictive theme songs.

1991       Beauty and the Beast    

Until I saw My Neighbour Totoro this was my favourite animated movie of all time. At one point I knew it word for word…not exactly something a childless man should be admitting to, which I guess is why I live a socially isolated life :p

1992       Aladdin               

A film I can no longer watch due to it being a trigger to the abusive relationship I was in.

1993       The Wrong Trousers      

Wallace and Gromit were never better than they were in this masterpiece!

1994       The Lion King    

As those who have read this blog know, I once served Jeremy Irons coffee. Squee!

1995       Toy Story            

The second best Toy Story movie, after its first sequel, of course..

1996       James and the Giant Peach        

Better than A Nightmare Before Christmas. Oooooo, controversy :p

1997       Princess Mononoke      

Often forgotten fact…Neil Gaiman worked on the script for the English language version.

1998       A Bug’s Life       

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again; David Hyde Pierce is a genius.

1999       My Neighbours the Yamadas    

Perhaps Studio Ghibli should consider using the word Neighbour in all of their movie titles, for this lesser-known animated masterpiece is superior to some of their better known films.

2000       Titan A.E             

I watched this in Halifax with Rachel. She didn’t like it. Although she, like I, did enjoy the very-Whedon ‘Bob’ exchange.

2001       Monsters Inc   
Runners up: Waking Life, Shrek, Spirited Away

For years after watching this movie Louise (and anyone who I told/found out) teased me mercilessly over the fact I bawled my eyes out when they say goodbye to Boo; one of my favourite animated characters in the history of animated film!

2002       The Wild Thornberrys Movie   

This movie was on the television the day after I was assaulted in 2007. I watched it curled up in a ball and remember thinking ‘why couldn’t you be the Rugrats Movie’? (as I have always loved the Rugrats!)

2003       The Triplets of Belleville             

Magnificent. Beautiful. Inspirational.

2004       The Incredibles               

One of the all-time great CGI movies and easily one of Pixar’s finest.

2005       Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit          

I very nearly didn’t get to see this movie as I refused to switch my phone off for the preview screening I was attending. The phone had no camera facility and I needed to have it on for work (as I was on call). Fortunately, they relented as long as they witnessed me putting it on silent (something I always do when going to the cinema anyway!)

2006       Happy Feet

I watched this with my parents on Christmas Day 2006; my last ‘enjoyable’ Christmas. Given I was suffering from Glandular Fever at the time I fell asleep when Mumble arrived at the zoo so, to this day, have no idea how the film ended as I didn’t wake up until the credits had started rolling.

2007       Ratatouille        

This is a film I watched during an anxiety ridden flight from Melbourne to London in 2008. My least favourite Pixar film, most likely because of the bad memories it brings of this horrible flight! Also, more animated bloody rodents!

2008       Ponyo  

Another Studio Ghibli gem.

2009       Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs        

A film that never failed to make me smile…until three days ago, when even this was unable to break the insidious depressive episode I’ve found myself in.

2010       How to Train Your Dragon
Runner up: Tangled

My favourite CGI animated movie of all time. Simply stunning.

2011       Puss in Boots    

I’ve never really been a fan of the vastly overrated Shrek movies, but this spin-off was quite marvellous. The short that accompanies it on the DVD is also wonderful :)

2012       Brave   

Perhaps it’s the red-headed Scottish heroine. Perhaps because it reminds me of Miyazaki. Perhaps because it’s highly under-rated. Perhaps because I watched it on a good mood day. I don’t know. All I do know is that I loved this movie from beginning to end and it should have received far more acclaim than it did.

See also:

My Life in Movies
My Life in Books
My Life in Happy Memories
My Life in Music

and

Addy’s Top Twenty Animated Films of All Time


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I Forgot to Remember to Forget

victimblaming

For the last several weeks I have been considering ending my blog for a myriad of reasons, most notably because I am tired of being told that all I need to do to rectify over twenty-one years of mental health problems, trauma and abuse is to simply ‘get over it’.

Over the years I have done my best to describe the difficulty of living with mental illness but in recent weeks I’ve come to realize that my writing is not good enough to explain the complexities of these conditions and the challenges some people face in order to live more contributing lives.

Living with unsupported (not by choice) and un-medicated (again, not by choice) mental illness is beyond difficult – especially when that ‘living’ is done in abject poverty and isolation.

In recent weeks the ‘get over it’ mentality that has been thrown at me has caused tremendous distress and self-hate. It has fuelled my descent into alcoholism, my withdrawal from the world, increased self-harm and confirmed my belief that I am a failure; that I am simply weak because I have been unable to move past the (multiple forms of) abuse I received.

I am all too aware of what I need to do. I am not an idiot. I am not stupid. I am not lazy and I am certainly not someone who doesn’t work for a better future. If it was as simple as just ‘getting over it’ I would have done this years ago.

All I have done for six years is work myself to the bone for a better future (my years of fighting to get off the streets, my years of battling for support and mental stability, my years of trying to break free of social isolation and poverty, my years of combatting the trauma of abuse, my years of trying whatever therapy option I can get my hands on, my years of trying to improve my education and employment opportunities, my years of trying to raise awareness and help others who are suffering to realize they are not alone in this war) when it would have been all too easy to give up and drink myself to death.

But telling someone to just ‘get over’ trauma is naïve, pretentious and deeply insulting. It is akin to telling someone suffering from depression to just ‘cheer up’ or a victim of rape to ‘forget about’ what happened to them. A counselor I saw a few weeks ago described it as victim blame mentality, for it shows a complete lack of understanding of mental illness, abuse trauma and how these two issues feed into each other. It minimizes the effort someone is making to overcome their illness and blames them for not being strong enough to just ‘get over’ whatever is happening to them.

Three days ago I woke up following one of the most visceral dreams of my life. A dream so vivid I thought I had Quantum Leaped back into my July-2007 self! Upon waking, the pain I had relived was so intense – so real – I promptly vomited over my bed, bedside bookshelf and books. I haven’t slept since because I’m too scared to do so.

I cannot control my subconscious dreaming any more than the next person can, and no amount of telling me to just ‘get over’ these events is going to stop the constant parade of nightmares that constantly hurl me back into those times, especially without support or distraction.

Many people struggle to fight issues of mental illness, abuse and homelessness when surrounded by friends, family and professional support – let alone someone who has spent almost every minute of the last six years (bar six months in 2008) completely on their own.

So if this failure to just ‘get over’ my illness and trauma makes me weak, useless, pathetic, lazy, selfish, worthless and someone who isn’t working hard enough – all things people have called me for not being able to fix myself over the years – then I guess that’s who I am.

Personally, I prefer to see myself in a different way.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Postscript:

I haven’t decided whether or not I will be ending my blog yet. Although the reasons are real and valid (in addition to the above: I’m a bad writer, I have nothing original to say, I’m effing tired of life, there are many people who raise awareness far better than I) with all I’ve been through over the years I am more than aware my current depression is the central voice beyond this thought. I have made irrational decisions based on my mental health in the past – such as the instigation of my suicide plan in 2006 – and do not wish to make a firm decision whilst lost in this state. Until I’ve made this decision my blog will remain and I am going to try to post more frequently than I have of late.

As for other areas of my ‘life’:

  • I have made efforts to begin dealing with my current alcoholism (however much I hate to use that word, I can no longer deny it, for I have consumed more alcohol in 2013 than I have in the five years between 2008-2012 combined! Hmmmm? Does that mean people will now begin accepting me as ‘Australian’? :p)
  • I am also trying to seek psychiatric care but have been told an appointment will not be available until March/April at the earliest as I’m not in ‘crisis’. Yay the mental health system in Australia!
  • I have also begun working with a new therapy called ‘Mindmapping’, which I will explain in a post later this week (hopefully).
  • My internet connectivity is still buggered. I humbly apologise to people who have emailed me over my lack of reply. I am not deliberately avoiding doing so. Sorry.
  • This is the first time I’ve logged into my blog for weeks, so more apologies for not responding to comments that have been left. I will endeavor to get to them soon.
  • Current 2013 smile count = 3½  (upon receiving a Christmas card, listening to Amy MacDonald, upon waking following a dream about Stephanie and whilst watching the Doctor Who episode ‘School Reunion’ – although this was a bittersweet sad smile upon seeing Elisabeth Sladen (RIP), hence the ½.)

Here’s hoping you’ve all had a better start to the year than me :)


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[SOC] Demons of depression

I wrote this confused stream of consciousness last night (1/1/13) but was unable to post it due to my current internet issues. I don’t know why I’m posting it today as it’s merely me realising I have once again become lost to depression and no longer know what to do about it. But…at least it’s a post, something that has been sorely lacking from this blog of late.

Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing. Additional apologies for the depressing nature of this post. Not all of us are happy at this time of year.

Demons_of_depression_by_flina

Demons of depression © flina

To say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement.

On numerous occasions in the lead up to Christmas, and in the only post I have been able to write over this period, I wrote of my hatred of this time of year. The endless stream of articles, radio shows, television reports and newspaper columns devoted to letting us know how wonderful it is to share this time of year with family and friends, with scant regard to the millions of people who have no-one. The people who exist in an isolated state desperately hoping that one day their sentence will end and they’ll finally be able to find some peace.

When I used to write journals, way back when I had a ‘life’, I would always write the obligatory ‘year that was/year that will be’ entry. I would relive the joyous moments I did not want to forget and plan for twelve months that would move me closer toward my goals. But I can’t do that anymore. The only highlight of this year was getting my unit, but I am starting to look on that as a curse, rather than a gift. Years of hunting and working myself to exhaustion finally paid off but for what? All it has done is become my prison.

Every day I wake up to be reminded of how alone I am, how poor I am, how uneducated I am, how worthless I am, and every moment I am reminded of this my abuser laughs her cruel laugh and reminds me that this was all I would ever amount to. That this is all I deserve.

Her, and my other voices, have increased in volume and frequency over the last few weeks. Each and every day a cacophony of voices accompany my every waking moment, rendering me unable to think, focus, work or function. I have done little to nothing of value aside from resort back to alcohol and self-harm in order to achieve even a few moments of peace amidst the din.

I cannot leave the house. I cannot eat. I cannot shower. Smile. Or laugh. And I definitely can’t sleep. The moment I close my eyes the demons rise and the nightmares reign. Over the last few weeks the dreams have become more vivid and painful than ever; no longer flashes of confusion but HD replays of the most painful, regrettable and destructive moments of my life.

All of which reminding me that I have achieved nothing in (nearly) six years. In fact with every year that has passed since my breakdown I have devolved. My mind has slipped further and further into the abyss with every month that passes. Every effort I have made to gain support, education, employment, respect or to achieve something that I could be proud of has failed, and as a counselor put it a few weeks ago,each successive ‘failure’ proving (to my broken mind) that everything my abuser said about me was the truth. All those words of colorful description; pathetic, useless, a waste of space, better off dead, disgusting, repulsive, worthless, evil, becoming much harder to fight, much harder to believe are not an apt description of myself.

Six years ago today she publicly humiliated me for expressing an inconsequential opinion – yet the burn of my blushing cheeks, the sound of the laughter, the shame that filled my heart, the wetness of the water that cascaded over my hair, the dampness of my shirt as it clung to my chest can still be felt as if it were yesterday.

The event played out in my dreams last night, was relived at various moments throughout the day, feeding into the whirlwind of negative thought that has ravaged my heart and soul over the last several weeks, further proving that no matter what effort I make to move past it, my mind is still lost in the trauma and pain of that period.

At least when I was on the streets I could focus on survival; a repetitive cycle that distracted me from the ‘failure’ that is my ‘life’. But now I am in my prison the only cycle is the endless reminder that she was right. That no matter what I do I will never succeed in anything. That her words and actions were not insult or attack but incidents of truth, all of which I deserved.

A cycle that feeds, rather than distracts from, my depression.

Yes, to say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement. My mind once again has become the residence of the hideous demon that is depression; a demon that with every year that passes is becoming harder and harder to fight.

I cannot look forward to 2013 because no matter what I would like to achieve (return to education, have a holiday, write an eBook, cross item [1] off the things to do before I die list, move past the trauma of the past) I am convinced it will amount to nothing, for all five of these things have been on my list of ‘things to achieve in the year ahead’ since 2007; only now, the trauma of the past is ten thousand times worse than it was then!

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. This endless pain is becoming harder and harder to deal with without external aids (such as alcohol) and, not for the first time, I am losing hope not only for myself but for the world.

You’d think I’d be used to ‘living’ like this by now. That being alone should no longer get to me. That having nothing shouldn’t bother me. That I should have just accepted being inconsequential is my destiny. But I’m not. And I don’t think I will ever get used to living like this.

For no matter how much I’ve been convinced that I deserve all that has happened to me, I still have vague memories of the man I once was; creative, passionate, caring, determined, imaginative, sensual and the things he used to do; laugh, talk, hug, kiss, tickle, squeeze and smile. And as long as those memories are there, however distant, however unbelievable, I will keep trying to prove that the world has me wrong.

That this is who I am – not who she made me believe I was.

So although I’m not looking forward to this year in any way shape and form, I do have one sneaking suspicion. This is the year that will change everything; 2013 will either make me or break me completely.

Simply because I can’t deal with another year like the last six of my life.

I just can’t.

I won’t.