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…

Life is hard, sometimes…

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One of the strangest things that has come from my quit smoking attempt is an addiction to cheese. Ever since going smoke free on Wednesday I haven’t been able to get enough of the stuff. I’ve devoured toasted cheese sandwich after toasted cheese sandwich. I’ve feasted on jacket potatoes slathered with lashings of cheddary awesomeness and snacked on savory biscuits adorned with cubes of tasty cheese. Part of me feels I should be worried about this new obsession. That I am merely substituting one addiction with another. But the other part of me laughs in the face of such thinking. Cheese, after all, is not known to cause cancer. It is known to increase your waist size, but as I’m already a big fat person (okay, not that big or that fat) I’m not too worried about this. I’m just thankful for the fact I’d gone three days without cigarettes…

…and yes, you read that sentence correctly. I had gone three days without cigarettes. For this afternoon, after a brutal night of PTSD nightmares and little to no sleep, after a morning of confusion and melancholy, I turned to the sweet drug nicotine to ease my troubled mind. I know what triggered it. I know what caused the onslaught of memory and flashback. And there is nothing I could have done about it. I’m trying not to see this as a setback. I’m trying to look at it with positive eyes. Yes, I smoked a cigarette. But I only smoked one cigarette. I could easily have smoked two, three or four. I could easily have said to hell with my quit smoking attempt, give me more of that nicotine drenched goodness! But I didn’t. I smoked one, blissful, cigarette and then placed the pack in the trash before returning to my quit smoking endeavor.

You might want to give me a bollocking. You might want to turn me over your knee and give me a sound spanking. But before you take such extreme, flirtatious measures, remember that at least I’m being honest about smoking today. I could easily lie about it. I could easily ignore the fact I smoked today and go on making everyone believe I was still smoke free. But that isn’t me. I’m an honest soul. Sometimes too honest. Every quit smoking attempt is littered with setbacks and relapses. Nicotine is, after all, one of the hardest drugs to give up. It’s grip is vicious, strong and vice like. I do feel bad about smoking today, but I’d like everyone to remember how difficult my life is before scolding me.

I’m not saying that for sympathy or special treatment. I’m saying it because it’s true. My life is difficult. I live alone, I have few friends in close proximity and I battle bipolar affective disorder, complex PTSD and severe social anxiety disorder with little to no help. Just being alone all the time is enough to drive most people to despair, let alone having to deal with complicated mental illnesses at the same time. The smallest, most inconsequential thing can trigger me. I could be watching a movie that features a rape scene and bam I’m back in Adelaide being anally penetrated by a grotesque stranger. I could be walking down the road and smell a scent that sends me hurtling back into my abusive relationship. Or I could read an online article and be sent spiraling into the depths of poverty and homelessness.

Over the years I’ve come to realise just how precarious my life is. So many triggers. So many things to avoid. It amazes me sometimes how I have lived as long as I have. Chewing gum, gin and tonic, Buffy, Fitzroy, cigars, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight; all are things that I have to avoid. All have the power to pull me away from the present and send me tumbling into the abyss of panic, terror and nightmare. Just think, for a moment, how difficult that can be. How many times is Harry Potter mentioned in the media, on blogs? People who read Harry Potter don’t just like it, they obsess over it. Hundreds upon thousands of online hours have been dedicated to writing about this fictional wizard. He regularly appears in the mainstream media, on Buzzfeed, on blogs; and every time he does, my mind is triggered and I stop functioning.

Just the other day I was in the supermarket when a father asked his daughter “Would you like that?” and I was rendered almost non-functioning. For this was the exact assortment of words that my rapist said to me. And that’s not the first time that’s happened. Once, many years ago, I was in a similar situation, heard those exact words, and an ambulance had to be called to assist me as I ended up lying in the fetal position, unable to move. Can you imagine how difficult life can be when a simple four word sentence holds such power over someone’s functioning? It’s exhausting. It’s debilitating. It’s painful. It’s so many bloody synonyms I could be here til Doomsday typing them all out.

But I do the best I can. I get out of bed when it would be all too easy to remain there all day. I walk to the supermarket when all I want to do is remain in the comfort and safety of my own world. And I push myself to perform tasks that, although difficult, aid and assist my life. Just the other day I discovered that there is an event being held in Melbourne on the 21st August. A gathering of like-minded souls, congregating to celebrate their passion in a club like environment. There is going to be hundreds of people there. Hundreds of strangers that have the power to render me panic-stricken and comatose. But I put my hand up to attend. I, Addy Lake, social anxiety extraordinaire, volunteered to attend a function with hundreds of people who could render me unable to function. All because I want to go. All because I yearn to break through the hold my anxiety and PTSD hold over my life.

That’s why I’m not beating myself up for smoking one cigarette. My life is hard, it’s painful and it’s every day. There is very little joy in my life and very little relaxation. I exist in a constant state of hyper-vigilance; endlessly on the lookout for the next thing that could send me cascading into the past. But I keep fighting. I keep pushing myself. And I keep seeking out new and hitherto untried strategies that could break the hold mental illness has on me. And that is something to be proud of. Regardless of the occasional slip-up or setback.

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6 thoughts on “Life is hard, sometimes…

  1. You’re right to not beat yourself up about smoking a cigarette. One thing I found useful when trying to stop self-injuring was, when I had a relapse, I’d count the days I’d gone without self-injuring. And I gradually went longer and longer without it until I was able to give up altogether. You could include the number of cigarettes smoked as well. Well done on only having one, and don’t worry about the cheese addiction. :) As you say, it’s healthier than smoking, and will probably wane if you are able to successfully quit smoking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do something similar to keep track of my self harm, and I’ve been doing something similar with my quit smoking attempt. Although I have had to reset the counter since that setback on Saturday, but I’m trying not to be too harsh on myself over that. I’m not too worried about my cheese addiction. In fact, I’m quite enjoying it. Cheese rocks! :)

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  2. First, I wouldn’t want to have to live with those crippling triggers and I’m sorry you have to. I do know there is desensitization therapy available and I am wondering if you had thought of that to deal with at least the common triggers you write about? I wish you the best in your quit smoking adventure. Good for you loving yourself enough to be willing. Big hugs, gerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t tried desensitization therapy before, and to be honest don’t know too much about it. I will head off and do some research, or bring it up with my psychologist, as perhaps she could help me with it. Thanks for the idea! :)

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  3. Hi there Addy. I do realise how difficult giving up smoking is. Thank you for your honesty in revealing to your blog readers this information. You could so very easily not mentioned that one cigarette. I so love how honest you are. Your honesty blows me away. I just don’t know how you do it. Congratulations for it and that it was only one and that you have the desire to end this habit. I am on your side. You did give me very interesting thoughts when you mentioned that by way of punishment someone might put you over their knee for a spanking. I would love to do just that very thing to you not as a punishment but as something that you would enjoy. Yes spanking can be very enjoyable. I would be very disappointed if you were not to enjoy a spanking that I would give you. It can be a very erotic experience. No Addy, I am not gay. I have discovered in my experience that the gender or orientation of a person I am in a spanking relationship with does not matter a hoot. All I ask is that they know what they are doing. I have been spanked by both females and males. I have really enjoyed most of them. One I did not enjoy as during that one things were done to me that I did not at all like. If I were given the choice I do prefer to be spanked by a female as that adds an extra spice to the occasion. Just by the way while we are on the subject of spanking I am very excited as I write to you as tonight will be a very special occasion for me. I will be teaching a woman, who has asked me, how to spank me. This particular woman I am looking forward to very much as it will not only be the first time (other than with my wife) that I have taught someone how to spank me but the fact that she is a sex worker strikes me, unfortunate or maybe fortunate choice of words – ha ha!, with a real thrill. She wants to learn how to spank so that she can add this skill to her repertoire for using in her business. The fact that at the Play Party venue where this event will take place no sex or exchange of body fluids, including blood, is allowed suits me just fine as it is BDSM experiences with others as well as my wife that I and she very willingly have in my life. Indeed my wife wants to see the results upon my return home. Just let me know if you would like me to give you a rundown of how it all goes tonight.

    As regards your forthcoming trip to Melbourne to meet with lots of other people congratulations are in order for your courage. You will doubtless not be the only one there with social anxiety disorder and the fact that you will be there will encourage others. I just know that you love encouraging others. That is a particular gifting or skill that you have. I share that same skill of encouraging others myself. Interestingly I have spent a lot of time this week watching videos of Melbourne trams. The one I particularly liked was the 59 minute one of the driver’s view of the run to St Kilda. I fell in love with those trams and with Melbourne. There are not that many places that I would love to visit outside of New Zealand but Melbourne tops the list for me. Just a thought Addy I wonder if while you are in Melbourne you could seek out the possibility of relocating there as a place for you to live. I am very sure that there would be organisations there that would assist you should you desire to live there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My trip to Melbourne isn’t definite at this moment. I need to work out whether or not I can afford to go first, but if it works out, I will most definitely be going to the gathering on the 21st. It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun and might help me with my social anxiety issues. Also, I would happily move to Melbourne if I could. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s financially viable at the moment. Rent is much dearer in Melbourne than where I currently live, and I don’t think I could afford hotel/motel accommodation whilst I was looking for a flat. But it is something I’m considered should the situation present itself in the future. I’ll keep you informed! :)

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