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…

Should I stay or should I go?

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In April 2014, when this crippling depressive episode started, I was sitting at home watching an episode of Monarch of the Glen. Although not the greatest television series of all time, it is one that means the world to me because of its, and my, connection to Scotland. Alongside Hamish Macbeth, it is one of the television series I return to whenever I’m homesick and eager to bask in the glory of Scotland. On this particular occasion though my homesickness overcame me and I said out loud: “I don’t want to be here any more, I want to be there,” whilst pointing at the glory of the Scottish countryside. It is a moment that has stayed with me because it was the moment that I realised I was no longer happy living in Australia.

Monarch of the Glen

Monarch of the Glen: what I was watching when I realised I was no longer happy living in Australia

I first moved to Australia in 2002 for one reason and one reason only; to be with my then girlfriend, Louise. I sacrificed my home (Scotland), my family, my friends, my education and my country of birth (England) to continue a relationship that had begun in the wilds of the Outer Hebridean winter. For a while, things worked out for me in Australia. My mental health was relatively stable, I had a job that (for a brief period) I loved, and my relationship with Louise was secure and loving. But then came 2006; my relationship with Louise faltered and failed, my mental health collapsed and I became deeply unstable, causing me to lose my job. And then came 2007; the loss of everything I owned, the end of my friendships and a complete breakdown in my psychological functioning. Since then, my “life” in Australia has been meaningless.

Certainly, there was a brief period of time in 2008 when things looked like they might work out, but that was a mirage, a mistake of epic proportions, and ever since my life has paid the price; homelessness, isolation and pain on a level most people couldn’t comprehend.

Although a large part of this has been down to my unstable mental health, an equally large part of it is that I know I’m not happy here anymore. I dislike the town in which I live with a venomous passion; there is nothing to do, nowhere to go and I feel as if it has been slowly sucking my soul dry for the last three years now. The unit which I call “home” is unpleasant, noisy and altogether boring. I dislike living here just as much as I dislike the town in which I live. It too, is a succubus attached to my soul, draining me of any passion, excitement and my ability to live. I have also lost any passion I had toward Australia as a country. I no longer enjoy living here. I no longer feel happy about calling myself an honorary Australian. In fact, I feel more disenfranchised and irrelevant than I have at any other point in my life, for it is hard living somewhere that you have no passion for.

As such, ever since I was discharged from hospital back in February, I have been seriously considering leaving Australia and returning to Scotland. But in doing so I would be risking much. I would lose my benefits. I would lose my home. I would, in essence, be homeless again; and I’m not sure I have the energy to rebuild my life from scratch all over again; which is what I would have to do if I returned to the United Kingdom, my home.

Inverness-2008-0021

Inverness, Scotland: my ‘home’

My desire to leave Australia has been so strong, I even had a discussion with my support worker about it, who agreed that I had little to keep me here. I have no friends. I have no family. I have no connection to the land. In fact, the only reason I’m here is because it’s where I’ve ended up. I didn’t even choose to be living in this town, I just ended up here during a particularly unpleasant period of my homelessness. And its hard living somewhere you don’t love. During this conversation with my support worker we wrote a list of pros and cons of staying/returning:

PROS

  • I would be living close to my family
  • I would get to see my niece & nephew for the first time
  • I would be living in Scotland; a country that I am passionate about
  • I would be able to cross off many items of my ‘things to do before I die’ list, as they are related to Scotland
  • Cheese is infinitely better tasting in the UK
  • Free medication
  • Free health care (albeit on the NHS)
  • Good public transport (albeit a trifle expensive)

CONS

  • Benefits situation is complicated. Although I would qualify for job seekers almost immediately I would have to wait two years before applying for disability. And as I’m not stable enough to work or look for work, this could cause problems and potentially leave me income-less.
  • Living with my parents on initial return to UK could prove troublesome as I am so used to living on my own.
  • If things don’t work out with my parents, I would be at risk of being homeless again.
  • Finding accommodation would be difficult, especially on job seekers allowance (which is approx. £60/fortnight)

So at this point in time, the pros of leaving Australia and returning home are winning. So I should go, right? But it’s not as simple as that, because of the risk I would be taking in terms of benefits and accommodation; two areas of life that are at lease stable if I were to remain in Australia, given I have the unit and am a recipient of the Disability Support Pension.

It all comes down to what I mentioned above; do I have the energy to rebuild my life from scratch?

And that’s a question I can’t answer at the moment.

So I’ve decided to turn to you, my wonderful blogging friends. Would you leave somewhere you have no passion for in order to return to where you felt at home? Would you risk homelessness in order to be close to family and friends? Or would you continue living somewhere you dislike, solely because you are the recipient of a reasonable benefit and have somewhere to live?

What would you do in my situation?

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16 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I go?

  1. I`m sympathetic as we all have mental illusions about our current state and tend to look back at what we have done and say `what
    if` Obviously things will have changed back home which is the normal way transformation happens over a period of time. You need to believe in yourself with the help of others and maybe you should join in something that may interest you with other people. Even go to a church and find that fellowship you sorely miss. There are people everywhere who have problems and a problem shared can mitigate the extremism of ones own situation if you can put your mind in another direction and be there with a listening ear to someone who will put their trust in you for that as you expect from someone else possibly.
    With your own individualism, which you admit to have, that you have to compromise if you can and branch out.
    Invite your family to Australia when ready and that way you can see if you can show some self esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree 100% with you Kres. I am very sure that there are several, or indeed many, people who read Addy’s blog and really have his best interests at heart. It is rather altogether to easy to develop a false mindset that everyone is against one and just want to add to the misery. I find my church friends very helpful. They serve a twofold (at least) purpose. Firstly I can speak with absolute honesty about the things that are most important to me and receive a hearing and secondly I can hear their perspective on things. After talking with my church friends almost invariably I come away feeling much better about things. I would describe it as coming away with a very good buzz and surely that must be all good.

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. The last time I returned home, in 2009, I was amazed about how much things had changed in Inverness. It didn’t stop me from loving the city – which I still do – but did make me aware of just how much places can change in a short space of time. This isn’t a major issue for me, although part of my yearning for home right now is probably linked to my memories of the place as it was fifteen years ago. In terms of finding something that interests me, there aren’t many social options in the town that I currently live in, and my support worker and I have been on the look out for social groups for several months now. I’m not a religious man, so church isn’t a viable option for me, but I’m hoping something will turn up eventually. As for my family coming to Australia, I’m sure they would love to come, but financially it isn’t viable at the moment – but who knows what the future holds! :)

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  2. Used to live in Scotland… Twice actually; Portmahomack in Easter Ross (I just googled it and dear Lord it has grown a bit since the 70s lol) and Edinburgh in the 90s.

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  3. Hi there Addy. Have you asked yourself what if you were to return to Scotland and found that it did not work out for you. As you are used to living independently what if you found it not to work out living with your parents. The matter of Benefits and Accommodation are two very important considerations. Sometimes where we are is not ideal. I would like to travel overseas but financially I don’t find that to be possible. At times it is needed that we settle for how things are and make the most of the situation that we find ourselves in.

    Whatever decision you make to stay or go I wish you the very best and trust that things will work out for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The issue about what would happen if I returned to Scotland and it didn’t work out is constantly on my mind, as is the issue about living with my parents, which I’m not sure would work out in the long term because I’m so used to living independently. They are just two of the questions I can’t answer at the moment but will need to do so before I make my final decision. I do agree though that sometimes we need to settle for how things are and make the most of it, which is what I’ve been doing for that last three years, only to find myself asking these questions now. It’s a tough decision to make and I’ll make it at some point, I’m just not rushing into it, for that way chaos would ensue! :)

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      • Addy you have a very sensible approach. I cannot imagine what such a quandary must be like for you after having been in this same position for three years. I feel for you. Thank you for your kindness in reading what I and all the other friends you have online have posted to you and for replying to me. If it helps you to keep things together by posting and replying please continue to so do. For me to hear your story has opened my eyes to just one situation that someone else finds themselves in and helps me not to be so insular. Thank you very much.

        Your Friend
        Keith Smith

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  4. Job seekers allowance is £73.00 a week and I believe you have to wait 3 months to claim it. It’s a very big decision for you but only you can decide. . Thinking of you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooo, job seekers allowance is more than I thought it was! :) It’s not enough to sway my decision either way at the moment but it’s good to know. I’m not rushing this decision, but hope that I’ll make the right one in due course. Hope you are both well! :) x

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  5. Dear blogger, should I stay or should I go?
    My heart rushed out to you, dear fellow blogger. You are a deep thinker and are trying to make a very serious decision about your life, your future. I do not envy you. This is how I see what you say:
    Your heart has been broken and it not easy to fix.
    Your depression is killing your real self and your passion.
    You long for love and friendly places you know.
    You are suffering grief and loss x 2 by losing your home and stability and love.

    All the pros and cons of Scotland v Australia are superficial to your inner torment.

    There is no easy fix for this dilemma. You have been robbed of your soul, your love, your passion and your natural rights to pursue happiness and live life to its fullest.

    You are here now. You are talking, i.e. to your social worker and to your blogger mates. You are getting everything out in the open (unamiously but still out there). This is a very good place to start.

    Message from the heart:

    Deep inside your heart there are answers that you have not heard. The Holy spirit holds your dreams and if you want real, heart answers you have to look into that spiritual part of your mind and heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a place of peace and healing.

    I am deeply concerned that if these deep and real heart and soul emotional and spiritual issues are not addressed before you make a move, you will find that they are still haunting you and if the same things happens again you will be in deeper distress than before.

    I am Irish, an actor and have family in Scotland too. Monarch of the Glen is fictional entertainment, not reality. I did enjoy the show too. But we cannot live in a fictional world. Reality is always hard and spiritual living is the key to surviving harsh reality. Fiction has its place (I am a Fiction Author), but it is only a short relief from daily grind.

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    • I agree with you Marie 100%

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    • Thank you for your kind words of support! :)

      Your comment about how I long for the love and friendly places that I know is spot on. Not feeling connected to the town or country that I currently live in is difficult, and I yearn to be somewhere that feels like home, that fills me with the sort of passion that I used to have when I lived in Scotland. I know the place will have changed in the time I’ve been away, which could prove problematic to begin with, but it is still a place I hold highly in my heart. Your comment about how my depression is killing my real self is also spot on, and is something I’m acutely aware of as I try to make this decision. I know that it would be all too easy to allow my depression to rush to a conclusion and risk making the wrong choice, and find myself in the deeper distress you refer to. Something I seriously don’t want to happen.

      You have given me much to think about with your words, so thank you once again for taking the time to voice them.

      Wishing you all the best :) x

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  6. Dear Addy,

    I cannot express how amazing you are. You act responsibly, know how to put words in their proper places, write like a genius author, and express your feelings extraorindarily well. You have a brilliant mind that is being hindered by your social situation and your dour outlook on life.
    Is it possible to get out of this town you are presently living in and go somewhere more friendly? The friendliest place in Australia that I have lived in is Canberra. It had an amazing social scene, probably because of the transient population that needs a new social scene. Also, we seemed better off there as electricity is cheaper, and there are more free services for children.
    But, if you could live in a place like Aberdeen, NSW or Inverell NSW, you might find a tad of happiness.
    In the meantime, plan for a trip back to Scotland to see your family.
    Your blog posts are extraordinary and worthy of being published in a book.
    I am a publisher and if you wanted to publish your content in book format, I could do so for you (free).
    I think you should be teaching others, or if you are brave enough (and you do have that stuff inside) to speak to people struggling with depression and other mental health issues.
    Your story is heart gripping and full of insights into the human psyche, and who doesn’t want to know more about that?
    Even if you are not religious, (probably because of some bad experience) there is a spirit world out there and in there and it is real, more real than reality. Your spirit is unique and that part of you will remain forever, and I know God’s spirit is hovering over you, waiting for your responses to Him. Until you walk through that spiritual door, you can never know its truth and reality.
    (Sorry, I used to be a preacher).
    I was lost and then found, like every other wanderer and I say these things because I love you. (Don’t worry, I am a grandmother, old enough to be your mother probably). I live in Queensland near the Margate Beach, which is a nice place to refresh.

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    • You’re too kind. I’m not quite sure I would liken myself to a genius author, but I’m not adverse to hearing it come from someone else! :)

      I’ve thought long and hard about leaving the town I presently live in, and believe that it would work wonders for my mental and spiritual state, especially if I were to move to somewhere that I do like, such as Melbourne. Unfortunately my present financial situation would make a move all but impossible at the moment, but it’s something I will be looking into should I decide to remain in Australia.

      I’ve also thought long and hard about publishing a book of my journey through mental illness. It’s something I keep coming back to time and again and at some point in the future will surely get around to compiling one based on my blog posts and other writings, so I may just take you up on your publishing offer in the future! :)

      A couple of years ago I did a public talk to both people with and those without mental illness, about my journey and lessons I’d learned. Although it was a highly anxiety provoking situation, it was something I tremendously enjoyed. It made me feel quite wonderful to be able to use my journey to help others, which is also one of the main reasons I blog, so hopefully in the future more public talks/teaching will be on the agenda.

      Wishing you a wonderful day! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Addy. I can see that all that I am and All that I ever was has another chapter. Again, you are caring and courteous and the hurting world out there needs you. I look forward to your volume. I will also be praying for your move to Melbourne and the finance for that. :0 Have a day that is like a blue sky with wispy clouds.

    Liked by 1 person

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