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…

Day 02: How have I changed in the past two years?

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change

Where I was in early 2011…

“In spite of the pride I was taking in my writing, the ‘life’ I was living was continuing to destroy my mental health. I missed conversations with friends, trivia quizzes and pub nights. I missed walking the streets lost in conversation and being needed and wanted by people who cared.

All I had were the power games, endless bitching, stolen food, sudden explosions of violence, constant verbal abuse and continual drug and alcohol problems that plague all boarding houses. After the events and assaults of 2010, I kept completely to myself but, as I expected, I began to lose control. My hallucinations returned in force and my screaming fits in the night started up again (as pointed out by fellow housemates.)

Eventually, these issues overpowered me, and I was once again sent hurtling into the abyss of inaction and unstable mental ill-health. As my moods cycled rapidly, and with no support from anyone, I began blacking out again. Entire days and weeks lost to the darkness of my mind until, one day, I found myself back on the streets.

Unable to deal with the city I lived for a time in a park close to the boarding house, before tiring of this area and returning to the park that had served me well during my nights in the motel in the year before.

For weeks I lived up and down the Merri Creek corridor, visiting the city only rarely (once a week mainly) to stock up on food van sandwiches and bread to feed me throughout the week. My days were spent reading newspapers, scribbling artwork (around this time I took to using my skin as a canvas with a red pen to try to curtail the increasing self-harm) and talking to rogue possums and the occasional pigeon.

With the amount of rejection I had received from mental health and homeless services over the years I was adamant I would never return to them. I was tired of rejection. I was tired of being spoken down to. I was tired of being treated as a statistic; a meaningless non-entity who didn’t deserve to be alive.”

From ‘Reflections on Being Homeless, Part 6’ (written June 2012)

Where I am now…

The most obvious change that has occurred in the last two years is that I am no longer homeless. In a few weeks I’ll celebrate the one year anniversary of finding a place to live after years on the street.

Although I still feel disconnected from this ‘home’, I am eternally grateful I was able to muster the strength to keep fighting through those long, painful nights, for I know without this unit I would most likely be dead.

Another major change has been my return to the blogosphere. After ‘ending’ the blog in late 2009 I’d not expected to return. Even though my blogging is sporadic at best (both in terms of quality and frequency of posting) having it back in my life means the world to me.

This blog has also connected me to other wonderful bloggers, all of whom have become friends, whom I hope will understand my silence over the last several weeks as being a product of my illness and not my dislike of them; for they are all awesome people whom I think of often.

The third major change is the effort I’ve been making to reconnect to society after being ostracized from it for so long. The groups I began late last year have recently recommenced, and in addition to pool and scrabble, I have taken on an additional two groups in order to keep working toward a better version of myself.

On Mondays I partake in an “Acting” group, which is less about showing the world my kick-ass Macbeth or Ugly Sister performances and more about connecting with one’s voice in order to increase one’s self-confidence and abilities. I have only attended one group so far this term, so will update you as I go.

Whilst, on Fridays, I will be attending a Hearing Voices Support Group. By the time you read this I’ll have (hopefully) gone to my first session, but as this post is being written in advance and scheduled, I haven’t gone yet, so will update you on this a little later :p

The ongoing hope of these groups is to build my confidence, make some social connections (possibly some friends?) and begin to combat the destructive negative self-opinion my abuser created all those years ago.

As for more internal changes, this is where I become frustrated. Despite my efforts, my mental health has remained on par with 2011 and (in some respects) has worsened.

My hallucinations are more frequent and volatile, my mood swings are becoming increasingly more difficult to deal with (hence my recent return to alcohol), my social anxiety and isolation are also more severe than they were and, due to the shocking psychiatrists I have seen, any hope of support from the mental health community has been destroyed by my complete lack of faith in the system.

So although several advancements have been made – especially in where I live and my efforts to become socially included – the continuing disintegration of my mental health is what’s preventing noticeable change from occurring.

However, I’ve known for a long time I’m always far too hard on myself…so instead of punishing myself for not working hard enough, perhaps I should – for once – pat myself on the bum for the tremendous effort I have made over the last two years!

After all, two years ago I genuinely believed I didn’t deserve to be alive.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Tomorrow: What kind of person are you attracted to?

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6 thoughts on “Day 02: How have I changed in the past two years?

  1. I think you have done very well and deserve a big hug :)

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  2. You are truly a survivor. I am so glad that you have shelter now and are able to interact. Shame on the mental helps lack of support. But don’t lose hope on that. xx

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  3. I always love reading your posts. You write so well, so matter of fact without mincing any words. Looking forward to the next post!

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  4. Woot! Amazing progress!! And I hope the meeting tonight went well…you DID go, right?? Many hugs and assurances that you DO matter!

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    • Yep, I DID go to the group yesterday – and was rather proud of myself for doing so :) I’m currently writing a post all about it which should be up today/tomorrow (fingers crossed!)

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  5. You’re an inspiration to me Addy. Others too I am sure. Well done for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. My only wish for you is that you are able to find the treatment you deserve and are entitled to. Take care my friend!

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