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…

Your life as you remember it…

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What follows, being a timeline of my life from birth to present, is a post I have been writing for nearly a year. Every time I’ve sat down to finish it I’ve found myself triggered by the memories of various events and incidents I’ve experienced, triggering which led to me being able to complete only a few sentences at a time before retreating to the safety of ‘distraction’.

As I embark on pulling my block back to basics, I felt now was the opportune time to finish this timeline so it could be used as a source of inspiration for future posts, as well as a reference point for myself (and others) to see how incidents are connected and the chain of events that led to my eventual social isolation and mental ill-health.

This, is my journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes along the way!)

My journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes!)

life

~Sometime in late February 1978~
After a romantic candlelit dinner and several glasses of wine, Addy’s parents head to the bedroom…I won’t give any further details, save for saying on this night that glint in his parent’s slightly tipsy eyes became the embryo who became the baby who became the horny teenager who became the passionate man who sits here today!

~28 November 1978~
Addy bursts out of his mother’s womb screaming into the well-lit maternity unit, as a kindly nurse smacks his posterior he tries to get his bearings in this strange new world devoid of comfort, warmth and embryonic fluid. Little did he know what this crazy planet had in store for him…

When I was a baby…

whenaddywasababy

Me (only a few weeks old) wishing my trousers were made out of yellow wool so I could perfect my chameleon impersonation! :p

  • June 1980 [?]
    ◊ After my father had gone to work, my mother goes into diabetic shock and falls unconscious, leaving my brother (2) and I (16 months) worried and confused. Although I remember nothing of the day, Lake family history tells of my brother feeding me tea bag sandwiches as it was the only food he could reach. When my father came home around 6pm he found my brother and I cuddled up against our unconscious mother with sugar liberally sprinkled everywhere, as my brother had tried to feed it to my mother to wake her up. The only clue as to when my mother had fallen unconscious was when we told my dad we’d missed Playschool – a kids TV show that was on around 9am.

When I was a child…

whenaddywasachild

Me (age 10); looking deliciously hot and sexy in the wee pink number! :p

When I was a teenager…

whenaddywasatwentysomethingincaldicot

Link leaving the forest (and Saria) as he sets out on his quest…

  • 1992
    I set fire to my lounge room for reasons too bizarre to go into (but – just so you know – it has nothing to do with latent psychopathic tendencies or the onset of sociopathic behavior!)
    ◊ My sister receives a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa and OCD from Great Ormond Street hospital and is admitted into a local psychiatric unit.
    ◊ After admitting I have a crush on a girl at school the information is leaked to all and sundry and much humiliation occurs as she is the hottest girl in school whilst I am the fattest, the most pointless and (allegedly) the most contagious!
  • 1993
    I begin self-harming.
    ◊ I ask my parents to take me to see my sister (as I miss her and am worried about her). They do…but it doesn’t go well. Cue more self-esteem and loneliness.
    ◊ My mother’s depression worsens into agoraphobia and she can’t leave the house.
    Around this time, Meadhbh begins talking to me.
    ◊ I write my first novel (which I called Lifetime, the love-child of The Goonies, Doctor Who, Indiana Jones, Neighbours and various coming-of-age tales!)
    Sometime this year, courtesy of some time-travel shenanigans, I receive a letter from my older self! :p
  • 1996
    ◊ I begin drinking alcohol regularly; including, on one occasion, hiding vodka in a Sprite bottle during a school excursion to Exeter University.
    ◊ I wonder why other schools offer trips to the Alps, beachside resorts or the Cadbury Chocolate Factory whilst all I get is Exeter-bloody-University!
  • 1997
    ◊ I achieve awesome results on my A-Level coursework but completely balls up the exams as (like with GCSEs) I can’t remember squat whilst stressed and anxious in exam situations. Thus, I fail all but two of my A-Levels.
    ◊ The years of self-harm, stress, social anxiety and bullying put me off pursuing a University Education.
    ◊ Later that month I bottle out of asking the hottest girl in school to dance at the prom, despite the fact she spent most of the evening sitting right beside me looking far too beautiful for words to describe.
    ◊ Two weeks after Princess Diana dies I write a flurry of “schizophrenic” letters to people I barely know, post them and board a train to Scotland after leaving a note to my parents that I would be ‘in touch’. My destination is Loch Ness (see, there was a reason it was mentioned). I then spend several days roaming around Scotland talking to whoever will listen to me (including someone who became known as The Funky Canadian), drinking crazy amounts of alcohol, visiting Glenfinnan for the first time and smoking the odd cigarette. I also sleep rough for the first time. I return home in the middle of the night as if nothing had happened; my parents are not too happy!
    ◊ I begin my first full-time job: working for Blockbuster Video.
  • 1998
    ◊ Absolutely nothing of note happens throughout this entire year other than the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, often regarded as the greatest video game of all time by people who have never played The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening! :p

When I was a twenty-something in Caldicot…

whenaddywasateenager

Caldicot; which is like Portlethen, but several hundred miles south and devoid of pretty much everything!

  • 1999
    ◊ After spending several hours dancing (and gyrating) with a beautiful co-worker, she invites me back to her place but – courtesy of my social anxiety – I panic and make my excuses. I never see her again.
    I begin an online (somewhat complicated) non-sexual relationship that dramatically improves my self-confidence and self-belief.
    ◊ I quit working for Blockbuster Video and head to Scotland on a backpacking adventure – only this time I tell my parents where I’m going. My reason for leaving is to force myself into challenging my social anxiety and self-confidence, knowing that if I don’t succeed I’ll probably kill myself; I tell everyone it’s because I want to see Scotland.

When I was a backpacker…

whenaddywasabackpackerinscotland

Me (age 20); looking somewhat unfashionable beside the Ring of Brodgar! :p

  • 1999 (cont.)
    ◊ After spending an evening with a cute Scottish girl in Portree, I panic when she invites me to her room. I leave Portree early the next morning so I don’t have to deal with the embarrassment of seeing her again.
    ◊ After beginning to long-term at a backpacker hostel in Inverness I try to stop self-harming. To do this I make the (terrible) decision to begin smoking on a permanent basis.
    ◊ In December I slip back into a depressive episode and run away from the hostel (and the friends I’d made) and begin thinking of suicide. I am gone for several days and upon returning, one of the friends I’d made threatens to ‘beat my ass’ if I do something to make her worry like that again. This threat, for the first time ever, makes me feel like I have a friend who cares about me.
    ◊ I begin smoking marijuana.
  • 2000
    ◊ After leaving the hostel I visit the Outer Hebrides with friends, it is here that I come up with the idea for The Ghosts That Haunt Me (whilst walking around Stornoway) and visit Berneray for the first time.
    On a trip back to Caldicot I nearly tell one of my new-found friends all my secrets whilst sharing a spliff. I don’t, but it’s the first time I’ve ever considered sharing anything personal with anyone.
    ◊ I am accepted into a college Course in Inverness.
    ◊ I travel to Canada, where I spend three months falling in love with this great country.
    ◊ I fall head over heels for a woman I meet in a backpacker hostel and decide the time has come to man up and tell one of my numerous ‘crushes’ how I feel. This is a decision Rachel agrees with and informs me of this by slapping me across the face when I refuse to share personal information with her. This slap begins a short-lived, but beautiful, friendship.
    ◊ I spend six straight days on a train travelling from Moncton, New Brunswick to Vancouver, British Columbia in order to tell the woman I have a crush on how I feel. On the fifth day I discover she has a boyfriend, my moral and ethical code kicks in, and I don’t tell her. We do however share several wonderful days together before I bid her adieu forever.

When I was a twenty-something in Inverness…

whenaddywasatwentysomethingininverness

Berneray. In the room on the right of the furthest building, that’s where I lost my virginity! :p

29thI meet Louise.
30thI have my first kiss since 1990 – only this one is much less peck and far more tongue! :p
31st – I lose my virginity (although technically this was the early hours of the 1st January 2001!)
1st – I continue losing my virginity many, many, many (many, many) times! :p
2nd – Louise returns to Inverness to move in with me. She also meets my parents.

  • 2002
    ◊ Louise and I leave Inverness, I feel like I am losing my home; which technically, I was!
    Louise leaves for Europe leaving me living in my teenage bedroom. Within weeks my self-confidence has collapsed to levels pre-backpacking (1999) and I begin self-harming as my depression and anxiety worsens.
    ◊ Louise returns (early) from Europe but doesn’t really say why. She spends a couple of weeks in the UK and then leaves for Australia.
    ◊ I make the startlingly stupid decision to turn down the deferred uni course nd travel to Australia; officially the worst mistake of my entire life!
    I arrive in Melbourne, Australia on the 29 October to begin my new life.

When I was a twenty-something in Australia…

whenaddywasatwentysomethinginaustralia

Pirate Me (age 27); back when I had a “life” (and possessions!)

  • 2003
    ◊ I am granted temporary residence and commence working full-time for the Australian branch of the backpacker hostel organisation I’d worked for in Inverness.
    ◊ Shortly after, I become the co-manager.
    ◊ Despite many attempts, I cannot break through the Australian ‘cliques’ to make any friends, prompting feelings of isolation and loneliness.
    Sometime this year, Shay begins talking to me.
  • 2004
    ◊ Louise asks me if I’d marry her. We set a date for 14 November 2004 (when my parents are in Australia) and begin planning the event.
    ◊ I meet Grace for the first time.
    ◊ Louise decides that she cannot get married until same-sex couples are allowed the same privilege and calls the wedding off. I am left monumentally confused and rejected, as surely there are better ways we could protest this issue than just not getting married (e.g. both of us wearing a dress for the ceremony!)
    ◊ My parents visit Melbourne for the first time; they later describe me as being ‘happier than they’d seen me in years’.
    ◊ Despite many attempts, I cannot break through the Australian ‘cliques’ to make any friends; my feeling of isolation and loneliness continues to grow.
    I self-harm for the first time since arriving in Australia (the infamous ‘box of matches’ incident!)
  • 2005
    ◊ I become the sole manager of the backpacker hostel.
    ◊ I meet Kathy for the first time.
    ◊ I begin slipping back into depression. By the end of the year I am in a full flung severe episode.
  • 2006
    Louise casually informs me she began having an affair before I arrived in Australia and kept seeing him after I arrived. It puts my decision to come to Australia in doubt. Two days later I begin to crack up. I want to smash things at work and very nearly self-harm in front of staff and guests. I spend the evening drinking and self-harm for the first time since December 2004.
    ◊ My depressive episode becomes unbearable and I begin formulating a suicide plan.
    I instigate my suicide plan and quit my job. I travel to Port Fairy to commit suicide but I once again convince myself not to go through with it. It is a decision I would grow to deeply regret.
    ◊ For the first time since being in Australia I believe I have finally beaten the Australian ‘clique’ system and made some friends. I would later realise I was wrong.
    ◊ I consider talking to Grace about my recent suicide attempt and history of mental health problems. Believing it will destroy my newly made friendships, I don’t.
    ◊ Three weeks after the aborted suicide plan, Kathy informs me matter-of-factly that ‘if things get any worse’ I can go to the top of Melbourne Central (a multi-storey shopping mall) and jump. Much later I would question why a friend would say such a thing to someone who was so obviously suffering from depression? Even later than that, I would look back on this moment as a signal of what was to come.
    ◊ Louise and I begin counseling to help save our relationship but, a few months later, we officially break-up.
    ◊ The day I move out of our ‘home’ and into a boarding house, I begin self-harming regularly since 2002.
    ◊ Kathy and I officially commence our relationship. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the abuse had already begun.
    ◊ Kathy is diagnosed with Glandular Fever.
    I begin suffering from Glandular Fever shortly after.
    ◊ I am accepted into a college course and begin finalizing my five-year plan (incorporating a uni course, multiple social groups and other activities to enable me to become the person I believed I could become.)
    Kathy begins telling me my friends do not consider me a friend and don’t want me talking to them anymore. I begin talking to them less and less as a result.

The year my life ended (January – July)…

theyearmylifeended1

Adelaide. Now a major trigger for ALL of my illnesses! :(

Sunday – My sister (in the UK) attempts suicide and ends up in hospital.
Monday – Kathy begins sending me abusive emails that continue through the week.
Thursday – A nasty bout of self-harm causes me to visit the hospital.
Friday – My sister’s condition worsens.
Saturday – I am assaulted and raped.
Sunday – Kathy sends me two incredibly long abusive emails forcing me to sever contact with everyone I know in order to stop the abuse once and for all. I am completely alone and friendless (again!)
Monday – I sleep rough for the first time since 1997 in a park in North Adelaide.

The year my life ended (August – December)…

theyearmylifeended2

The Dandenong Rainforest. I very nearly died here.

When I was homeless (by the definition of the word)…

Glenfinnan, 2008; my first trip ‘home’ in over six years.

  • 2008
    ◊ Shortly after New Year, following a nasty period of self-harm, I visit the MH team where I beg them to hospitalize me as I am fearful I am about to attempt suicide again. Despite the tears, despite the recent cuts and burns on my arms and legs, despite the homelessness, despite everything, they tell me they “cannot hospitalize me as I am not a danger to other people” and send me back out on the streets.
    Less than twenty-four hours later I post a suicide note on my blog titled …all that I will ever be and attempt suicide.
    ◊ I have to leave Australia. I return to the UK a broken shadow of my former self.
    After several appointments with a Mental Health service and a psychiatric hospital I am (re)diagnosed Bipolar Type 1 with PTSD and begin taking medication.
    ◊ I return to Scotland for the first time since 2002.
    ◊ With encouragement from Sammi, I try to reconnect with some of my old friends in Australia. I succeed in reconnecting with Grace.
    Following months of online friendship, Sammi and I finally match our calendars and we meet up in Glasgow where I help her experience a life-long dream.
    ◊ My brother marries; in order to combat my anxiety he and his wife allow me to attend the wedding wearing a kilt. I look like world-conquering sex on a stick! :p
    I become hypomanic and find a way to return to Australia.
    ◊ I return to Australia where I begin moseying around Melbourne like a (semi) Immortal God.
    ◊ My father suffers a TIA.
    I attempt suicide and spend the night in hospital.
    ◊ I begin working for the same backpacker hostel organisation I have spent my life working for. The same organisation that once upon a time, contributed to my suicidal ideation. Later, I realise how completely insane this idea was.
    ◊ The memories of my assault and rape that I’d tried to bury resurface with abandon and I lose even more of my mind.
    I fail to be there for Grace when she needs me and our friendship ends. Cue a lifetime of self-hate, regret and guilt.
    ◊ I meet and enter into a relationship with Diane.
    ◊ My hypomanic mood ends and I am left to assess the damaging situation I have found myself in.
    My medication is tripled following my recent episode and the damage it’s caused.
    Shortly before Christmas 2008, Sammi dies by ecstasy overdose. No-one knows whether it was accidental or intentional. I prefer to think accidental.
  • 2009
    ◊ I have sex for the last time. (26 January 2009)
    I receive my last kiss. (4 February 2009)
    ◊ In the space of twenty-four hours: I am fired from my job over something I didn’t do, my father’s health worsens and I am forced to return to the UK.
    I am alone again for the umpteenth time in my life, finally understanding that I don’t deserve to have friends, relationships, support or happiness like other people do.
    ◊ I return to Scotland where I find accommodation in a boarding house and begin trying to find work.
    ◊ Sammi’s sister pays me a visit and I accept then mourn my friend’s death for the first time.
    ◊ I complete the final draft of The Ghosts that Haunt Me and begin sending it to publishers. One is interested, but the GFC sabotages this opportunity.
    ◊ My writing is published for the first (a short story in a national magazine) and second (an opinion piece in a local newspaper) times.
    Stephanie contacts me via my blog and I become worried she’s suicidal. After a short friendship she takes her own life, further proving my failures and deserving isolation. By complete coincidence, Stephanie kills herself on the 7 May 2007 (see 2007 above!).
    ◊ Alone, lost and exhausted, I attempt suicide.
    ◊ This suicide attempt finds me integrating into the mental health system where I begin having daily psychological appointments. After questioning my diagnosis, they convince me my future is not in Scotland, but in Australia.
    ◊ As a result, I return to Australia.
    ◊ I receive my last hug. (5 June 2009)
    I begin sleeping on the street on a full-time basis (7 August 2009)

When I was homeless (by most people’s interpretation of the word)…

whenaddywashomeless2

I slept in this spot for over three months in 2010. Ahhh, memories! :p

When I was (ex)homeless…

whenaddywasexhomeless

My ‘home’ (late 2012)

~ The future ~
Seriously, who the frack knows what’s going to happen to me next?
Hopefully something blissful and exceedingly happy because I’ve had enough pain and torment to last several lifetimes!

Notes
~ Bolded items indicate monumental moments in the development of my mental health problems ~
~ To celebrate Schadenfreude, incidents that have already had prior posts written about them have been linked to ~
~ Any future edits (as/when memories come back to me) will be written in CAPITOLS and noted ~

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9 thoughts on “Your life as you remember it…

  1. I understand how difficult this has been to write. I cannot even pretend to understand what you have gone through / are going through. I just hope beyond hope that 2013 will be the year that your life turns around for good.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment :)

      I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been/going through on my worst enemy, let alone anyone else. I try to look at the fact I’m still breathing as a sign of my strength; smiling in the face of adversity and all that! :)

      Like

  2. We share the same birthday.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, you are far to hard on yourself.

    Like

    • Us 28th Novemberers are an awesome bunch! Proved by the fact that Judd Nelson, Joe Dante, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paul Shaffer and (the magnigicent) Karen Gillen also share our birthday! :)

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am working on eradicating how hard I am on myself. Proven by the fact that I’m nowhere near as hard on myself as I was a few years ago! ;)

      Like

  3. Time lining is helpful in so many ways to help on the road to recovery. I time lined all my relationships and my god, I really attract people who see/feel the sickness with in me and exploit it to their own gain. With your time line, see a new shrink. The one that said “hey your fine” needs to stop taking his patients meds and get real.

    I am working on forgiving myself….. This a hard part. I have made so many mistakes that need to be let go. Addy, proper meds, proper shrink and a peaceful environment could make all the difference. Have you ever had that combo? My shrink tells me ” it has taken many years to become fucked up, it will take time to be unfucked”

    Addy, I found your blog and YOU and YOUR struggle are making me see into some dark places of my own. If you want to remove yourself from this world; why blog? You are helping with the struggle.

    Please take your time line to the medicals, I’m across the world from you and YOU are helping me. Thank you and I look forward to your next blog!

    Like

    • Thanks for your comment :)

      The combination of meds-shrink-peaceful environment is something I’ve never had. In fact, at any given time in my life, I’ve only really had one of those things; the meds. I’ve never had much luck with supportive psychiatrists as the ones I’ve seen throw meds at me and nothing else. And when you’re homeless, even if you remember to take the medication with everything going on, the environment in which you live is counter-productive to the medication. The other aspects of recovery (talking therapy, support, social inclusion) are all things I’ve never really had, so it’s no surprise to me that my journey toward recovery has been long and strewn with obstacles.

      My parents have long believed that my isolation and lack of supportive friends/MH professionals etc. over the years is one of the primary causes of all that’s happened to me; it is, after all, exceedingly difficult to deal with mental illness when you’re alone.

      I don’t like being removed from the world, I want to be connected and a productive part of society again, and blogging is one way I can do that. So I’m glad you find my blog helpful, it makes writing it that much more worthwhile. :)

      Hope you’re having a wonderful day! :)

      Like

  4. Addy, thank you for sharing this with us. I imagine that it must be difficult to relive these situations but I hope you feel that it has also been healing, even a little. You really have made great progress even if it doesn’t feel that way to you right now.

    Like

    • Thanks for your commemnt. :)

      Time-lining my life has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The reason it’s taken me so long is the sheer number of bad memories that resurfaced as a result. The problems weren’t the ones I remember as if they were yesterday (such as the various abuse and not being there for Grace) but the ones I had played down or forgotten about (such as how lonely I’ve been through my life, esp. during my teens/twenties and some of the mistakes I’ve made).

      The jury’s out as to how healing it’s been. It did feel wonderful to finally finish writing it and after reading it through a couple of times some connections I hadn’t made before leapt out at me, so that’s certainly a good thing. It’s also given me some inspiration for future posts, which is also a good thing! :)

      Although I can see some of the progress I’ve made, it really doesn’t feel like I’ve come all that far, but I’m hoping this perception will change as I continue chiselling away at my anxiety and self-belief. :)

      Hope you’re well! :)

      Like

  5. “Despite many attempts, I cannot break through the Australian ‘cliques’ to make any friends, prompting feelings of isolation and loneliness” – I can’t help but agree with you. I’m sure, if not, I hope that you do realise that not being able to break through the Australian cliques has nothing to do with you.

    There’s nothing I think I can do to help. Except that I really value your blog and you, the author, who has written it. Even if you hadn’t written this blog, I still think you are a great person to get to know.

    Cheers from a random stranger passing by.

    Like

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