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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1 Phrase that describes me…

The first thing that came to mind was a three word phrase made famous by the television program Top Gear:

But the more I think about it, this is doing myself a massive disservice, for it is not my thinking – but that of my abuser.

For the last five years I have been through some of the most horrendous shit you could possibly imagine. In fact, don’t even try to imagine it, you really don’t want to! Yet, despite all the darkness; the mood swings, hallucinations, isolation, psychosis, mania, anxiety, depression, homelessness and god knows what else life chooses to throw at me. I’m still here. Still being me. Still trying to sort out my life. Still pushing myself to be a better person. Still trying to help others whenever I can (and yes, I’m not perfect, but what human being is?)

No matter what gets thrown at me I’m still the slightly insane, far-too-caring, slightly kinky, honest, deeply passionate, creative, hard-working, effing magnificent bastard that I always have been!

So, the only phrase that comes to mind was made famous by someone very famous indeed:

Tomorrow: A Brand spanking new challenge
(which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s about spanking, but who knows, maybe it will be :p


2 Languages I know or would like to know…

For the first time since beginning the challenge I came within a hair’s breadth of not posting today (and thus ensuring failure).

Although most may not understand, given it’s all a bit irrational and weird, this week has the potential to go a bit dolally. I will leave a more complicated, introspective examination of this for another time, but the upshot of it is, this Thursday marks the five-year anniversary of one of my most serious suicide attempts (and the most effed up treatment I’ve ever received from a mental health service) and every October around this time the memories of that day become all I can think about.

After the triggers of last week, my current writer’s block (a strong signal of my mental state), the stresses of yesterday and the hellish nightmare of a dream I had last night, I’m becoming increasingly scared that my unwanted memories will trip me back into the nasty depressive episode I was in a few months ago; in fact, terrified would be a better word than scared.

Given this is all I’ve thought about today – not exactly productive, inspiring or healthy – everything I’ve tried to do has fallen apart within minutes, hence why I very nearly didn’t post today. But, failure (and whinging) are not acceptable options.

So…languages, eh?

Once upon a time, when I was but a mischievous schoolboy, I spoke near perfect French. Then, when I was a ruggedly handsome yet still mischievous backpacker, I spoke not quite so perfect French but more than enough to make a fool of myself in Canadian backpacker hostels.

Now, I couldn’t speak French to save my life. In fact the only language I do speak is English, and it’s debatable how well I do that, so my answer will be two of the eight languages I’d like to learn how to speak one day (the others being  Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Latin, Japanese and one of the Aboriginal Australian languages).

As for the other two, the first is obvious to anyone who knows me, and the second is one I’ve always had a strange fascination with.

Scottish Gaelic

My desire to speak Scottish Gaelic has been present since I first visited the Outer Hebrides. I first made an effort to attend classes later that year, but my college commitments interrupted this attempt. Undeterred I went about purchasing ‘teach yourself books’ until, in 2007, I contacted an organisation in Melbourne that offered Gaelic language classes. After ensuring it didn’t interfere with my college classes I signed up and was preparing to begin my first lesson when I suffered a breakdown and my life went to hell in a bicycle basket.

Since then I have continued attempting to teach myself this language – not only because of a strong desire to learn it, but because 45% of the Scottish characters in my Chronicles speak Gaelic fluently so it rather helps the author has an understanding of it to. Alas, I fear this will never come to pass (what with homeless, mental health et al) but when I’m stable enough I like to dip into it to remind myself of who I once wanted to be.

Thus, should you find yourself stranded in Gaelic speaking Scotland, here are a few phrases to help you blend in:

How are you? Ciamar a tha sibh?

I love you Tha gaol agam ort

Where’s the toilet Càite bheil an taigh beag?

My hovercraft is full of eels Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan

Who was that sheep I saw you with last night Cò an caora sin còmhla riut a chunnaic mi an-raoir?

That was no sheep, that was my spouse! Cha b’e sin caora, ‘se sin mo chèile a bha innte!

Will you give me a kiss? An toir thu dhomh pòg?

No, but I’ll slap you! Cha toir, ach bheir mi dhut sgailc!

And a few proverbs to keep in mind throughout your life:

Whoever burns his backside must himself sit upon it Fear sam bith a loisgeas a mhàs, ‘s e fhèin a dh’fheumas suidhe air.

The little fire that warms is better than the big fire that burns Is fheàrr teine beag a gharas na teine mòr a loisgeas.

It’s not easy to put trews on a cat Cha shoirbh triubhas a chur air cat.

Plus, should you ever fancy breaking into a rendition of the Canadian national anthem in Scottish Gaelic, you can:

O Chanada, dùthaich nan gaisgeach còir,

Crùn air do cheann de dhuilleag dhearg is òir. Bho chuan gu cuan le òran binn,

Do chliù nì sinn a luaidh,

Fo dhìon do sgéith tha saorsa ghrinn

Nach spìon an namhaid uainn.

O Chanada, dùrachd ar cridh’,

Sonas le sìth is maitheas Dhè d’ar tìr.

Sonas le sìth is maitheas Dhè d’ar tìr.


Whilst at school I did study German for a little while and according to my teacher (a rather strange little man who rated a mention in my 100 Things About Me list) because of my Scottishness I was perfectly placed to handle the rolling r’s and -ch’s of the language. Alas, I didn’t pursue an education in German (choosing instead to study French because the teacher was, quite frankly, gorgeous!) but later in life – as I did with Gaelic and Spanish – I attempted to learn the language myself through CD, books and DS games.

Unfortunately, as with most things in life, it’s a lot easier to learn a language when you have people to speak to.

But, should you ever find yourself marooned in Germany, here are a few choice phrases that may help you on the way:

Good Day Guten Tag / Morgen

Good Evening Guten Abend

With Pleasure Mit Vergnügen

Have a nice day! Einen schönen Tag allerseits!

And a few inspirational proverbs to take to heart:

One Learns from one’s mistakes Aus Schaden wird man klug. (Darum ist einer nicht genug.)

He who eats with the devil must have a long spoon Der muß einen langen Löffel haben, der mit dem Teufel essen will.

Poet’s are born, but orators are trained Zum Dichter muß man geboren sein, Redner kann man werden.

Better an end with pain than pain without end Lieber ein Ende mit Schmerzen als Schmerzen ohne Ende. or Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende.

Tomorrow, in the finale to the 20 Day Challenge: 1 Phrase that describes me

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3 Letters to three different people…

Given I recently wrote a series of unsent letters and felt I needed to creatively unwind after a &*$%^*$ stressful day, I hope my deviation from today’s task isn’t too disappointing. Instead of three letters, here are three postcards to three different people:


Tomorrow: 2 Languages I know (or would like to know)


4 Places I would like to go…

I think my desire to go to Rome began whilst watching the classic motion picture, Roman Holiday. As a teenage boy enamoured with the beautiful woman on-screen, perhaps I believed if I visited the Italian capital I too would meet someone as magnificent as Audrey Hepburn.

But when I think about it more, I’ve had an on again/off again romance with this city since my primary school days studying Roman history, art and the Empire.

It has always been one of my bigger regrets that I didn’t skip across the continent to this country when I was living in the UK, but like most things in life, other aspects (i.e. mental health and anxiety) took priority and it was only after I arrived in Australia did I glance back in hindsight.

I still live in hope that one day I will get to visit this fair city…and if I were being honest, still live in hope I will meet my Audrey Hepburn one day.

What? I’m a homeless romantic :)

My desire to visit Antarctica stretches as far back as I can remember. For most of my life I’ve thought of this land as the closest on the planet to a mythical landscape; completely alien to any other part of the world (with the sole exception of the Arctic, obviously!)

It would be the culmination of a lifelong dream to catch a boat to this continent (so I can experience the sense of scale and distance that a plane wouldn’t provide) and spend a few weeks exploring and photographing this spectacular place.

Although I regret none of my Canadian odyssey, I do wish I’d been able to find the time (and money) to travel to both Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. For as long as I’ve been studying the Highland Clearances I’ve wished to visit these places. Writers such as Alistair McLeod, Robert Finch, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Annie Proulx only increased my craving for these hauntingly beautiful locations.

Machu Picchu, and other Incan and Mayan locations throughout Central and South America (including Chichen Itza and Coricancha), have long been on my list of places to visit in this world. In 2008 I watched a fascinating documentary film about the caves of the Peruvian tablelands that only reinforced my desire to visit these countries and landmarks.

What’s long been a source of frustration to me is that an opportunity arose that could have seen me visit these lands, but the disintegration of my relationships and friendships, as well as the breakdown and loss I suffered in 2007, rendered it impossible.

As with all other places on this list I still hold onto the hope that one day I will have the opportunity to visit these places, but right now it’s becoming harder to harder to hold onto this hope….but cling to it I do!

Tomorrow: 3 Letters to three different people…

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5 Pictures of me when I was little…

This is either a dog, a hippo or a 1980s Doctor Who enemy!

I know it looks like I just stuffed my cat’s head through a piece of cardboard, but I didn’t. Honest.

In 2012, this is called “inappropriate touching”

The beginning of my torrid love affair with jug licking

In 2012, this would be called ‘cruel and unusual punishment’

Tomorrow: 4 Places I would like to go…


6 Things I can’t live without…

Whilst glancing at the published posts title a moment ago I realised that this is in fact my

but unlike my 100th blog post celebration there will be no such extravagant self-love here. I have after all cheated (a little) by importing several dozen posts from the early days of my blogging adventure, which have thrown the stats off a little :p

So I’ll put the cake away for later and instead focus my efforts on today’s daily challenge, which is six things I can’t live without.

For someone who’s life is a series of carefully manufactured protective measures this question is actually quite simple for me to answer. Balancing precariously over the abyss of self-harm and suicide on an almost daily basis I’d be long gone if it weren’t for several things I turn to when I slip into these darker emotional states.

1. My strength

I’m not talking about my physical strength here, but my emotional strength. Sure, there are many people out there who would question this. How can someone with emotional strength suffer a breakdown, from anxiety and panic attacks, from PTSD fuelled nightmares? Hell, how can someone with emotional strength attempt to kill themselves on a yearly basis or self-harm?

The reason I have such an insane pride of my emotional strength is because of all this. As I wrote recently:

But you know what?

I’m still fucking standing!

After years of misery, isolation, judgment, abuse, discrimination, homelessness and pain so intense I’d never wish it on my worst enemy…I’m still standing here, I’m still breathing and I’m still laughing!
from “Stop the abuse: why I left Twitter and why I’m returning

No-one, no matter what they do or say, will ever be able to make me doubt my strength. Ever.

Without it, I would have been dead years ago!

2. Cold Showers

This has nothing to do with the fact I haven’t got laid in years. Many years ago, when I first began trying to control my self-harm, I read that having a cold shower could distract you from committing an act of self-injury. So I tried it, and it was bloody cold, and it worked.

Although it’s not something I do on a daily basis I still, from time to time, force myself under a jet of cold water when the urge becomes too strong and nothing else works. For anyone battling with self-harm, it may be worth giving it a try one day.

Anything is better than self-harming, believe me :)

3. Red Felt Pens

This is something I only really started doing after I became homeless. I’d read in the past how it could help control self-harm urges but always talked myself out of giving it a try.

One particularly dark night in 2011; with no access to a cold shower, a friend to talk to, a TV to watch, music to listen to or any of my other fail safes, I walked to a Safeway supermarket and purchased a red pen. Retreating to my park in the northern suburbs of Melbourne I whipped my shirt off and began writing on my arm.

I wrote I fucking hate you followed by piss off c**t and a myriad of other self-hate syllables directed at both myself and my inner demons.

But after a while, after I’d vented all the swear words I could think of, I drew a picture of a sheep. And then a pig. And a worm. And then an owl staring at the worm as if thinking mmmmm, lunch. After half an hour I had the cast of Animal Farm drawn on my arm – and I was laughing!

A few days later I found myself doing it again, this time drawing a panorama of Scotland. The next night, a really bad portrait of The Doctor. The next night, a completely random abstract pattern of lines, dots and swirls that stretched across both arms, chest and belly.

I had become obsessed with drawing better and better images on my body, things I would be proud to display; something I’ve never felt about my scars.

4. My computer

Most people take certain things for granted: iPod/MP3, smart phone, computer, roof over your head, daily food stuffs, clean underwear and friends. The last five years of my life I haven’t had any of these things on an ongoing basis. Aside from friends, the one that I missed the most was my computer.

I missed having the ability to write (my mind works too fast for pens sometimes), to browse news sites, random beautiful blogs and porn sites (don’t…give a homeless guy a break!) I missed having a means to communicate with the outside world and make me feel like I had something in my life.

When my counselor offered me a brand spanking new fourth hand computer shortly after I moved into my unit I did a happy dance outside the local Safeway supermarket. Literally! Sure, it took me several weeks to get a working operating system and I still rely on internet cafes and libraries for internet, but the computer allows me to do all that I listed as well as watch DVDs, occasionally listen to music and give me an outlet for my creativity.

I know what I’m like when I don’t have a computer, and it ain’t pretty. It has definitely saved my life.

5. Socks

I’ll be honest. I have a sock fetish.

Ever since my homelessness ended I budget to buy seven new pairs of socks a week. A waste of money, definitely, but when you’ve worn the same pair of socks for three months straight (2010) you begin to develop a complex about dirty socks.

Yep, it’s a hangover of anxiety and PTSD from my time on the street, but I get seriously bad if I don’t have a new pair to wear each day!

6. My mind

However much I despise the mental illness, I could not live without my mind.

My imagination is something I have cherished and adored since I was a child, my ability to emphasise with other people, the memories of better times and beautiful people who provide a source of solace, happiness and hope, my creativity can keep me occupied for days (or is that hypomania or other such bipolar related shenanigans) whilst my endless need to keep myself stimulated is both a curse and blessing.

Directly linked to my strength, I would be nothing without my mind.


TO WRITE LOVE HER ARMS 2009 by jcasianman, on Flickr

Tomorrow: 5 Photos of me when I was little