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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Trolls, friends and narcissistic jelly beans

It’s been a strange old week.

The Paralympics are in full swing, a vagina tightening cream was revealed, ‘Jelly Bean’ was caught out praising his own work and Victoria unleashed a new license plate slogan.

Given I don’t drive, think a vagina tightening cream is just wrong, consider ‘Jelly Bean’ a narcissistic prat and can’t watch the Paralympics due to my lack of a television, there’s only one issue that has dominated my mind this week; cyber-bullying – or, to call it what it is – abuse.

Issue of the Week

The cyber-bullying monster raised its ugly head at the tail end of last week. For those who missed it, or live outside of Australia, the trigger on this occasion was the events surrounding Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson, who ended up being admitted to hospital following an apparent suicide attempt after a vicious campaign of abuse had been directed at her via Twitter.

As per usual, the deniers were out in force; she should have blocked the abusers, she should have switched off the internet, she should have realized that it’s basically her fault, she shouldn’t have goaded the trolls, she shouldn’t have walked into a bar wearing revealing clothing because, let’s be honest, that’s just asking for it.

Okay, she didn’t do the latter. I slipped that in at the end of the paragraph to illustrate my belief that all the talk about logging off Twitter, blocking abusers and how she shouldn’t have re-tweeted their tweets is nothing more than victim-blame mentality.

If someone is being bullied at work, you wouldn’t tell them to just stop going to work.

If someone is being abused at home, you wouldn’t tell them not to talk about what’s happening.

If someone is being raped, you wouldn’t tell them that it’s their fault for goading the rapist.

As with other forms of abuse, the discussion focused on what the victim did wrong (thus, bringing the abuse on themselves) instead of looking at what the perpetrator did wrong (thus, dealing with the actual problem).

Which, in my opinion, is the continual disintegration of decency within society. There has always been bullying in some form or another, there has always been abusive behavior and the intentional degradation of others, but the onset of the Internet has created a positive breeding ground for anonymous haters to unleash their bile on the rest of humanity without fear of retribution or consequence.

From the top levels of government, seeping down through all walks of life into the kindergarten playgrounds, Australia is fostering an abusive culture. Such behavior is forgiven, excused, accepted and denied as ‘larrikinism’ or ‘the Aussie way of life’. The words taken as abuse were ‘misinterprated’ or ‘deserved’. The victim is making a mountain out of a mole-hill whilst their attacker sits back and relishes in the pain they’re causing.

In spite of movements to raise awareness of bullying and abuse the victim-blame mentality continues to reign supreme in this country. The debate this week should not have revolved around what Charlotte Dawson did right or wrong, the debate should have revolved around what Australia can do to make the internet a safer, more regulated place – and what it can do to improve support services for the people who are being abused.

Blocking users, logging off the internet or telling someone to just keep their chin up are not solutions, they are not even Band-Aids; they’re just excuses voiced by people who don’t understand the severity of the problem.

Everyone who uses the internet – whether it be news forums, Twitter or other social networking sites – should be able to do so safely. Just as someone going to work should expect a safe environment to operate in or someone enjoying a night out should expect not to be attacked randomly in the street.

My final word on the matter:

Cyber-bullying is just another example of the abusive culture we’ve been encouraging for decades. It is never acceptable, under any circumstances, to bully and abuse another individual.

Until there are consequences for their actions, abusers will continue their behavior, regardless of the pain and damage they are causing to the lives of their victims.

In all honesty, how many people need to die before society admits we have a serious problem that is fast becoming out of control?

Five things I learned this week

1. I have fourteen reasons to feel incredibly depressed. Yay!
2. 57 % of surveyed Australian women over 40 who say they want to have sex at least once a week; proportion who actually do: 36%.
3. Men can – and do – suffer from Postnatal Depression. Which technically I already knew, but at least now it’s been confirmed by a reputable source.
4. 125 students at Harvard University are being probed for cheating. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance of an elite education; don’t squander it by doing something as pathetic as this!
5. A new bookshop in Melbourne allows you to take a book for free, as long as you replace it with another. This is a wonderful idea that will benefit all booklovers – especially those, like I, who are unable to purchase books because of poverty and homelessness.

Five things I plan to do next week

It’s not often I get to feel pride over my own success, but all five of the objectives I set myself last week were completed. Perhaps I should mark the occasion with a celebratory jig or an imaginary glass of champagne?

‘Asylum of the Daleks’, the first episode of series 7 of Doctor Who, was wonderful. After last season, which aside from a few highlights I was disappointed with, it was an excellent start to a series I have high hopes for. Plus, massive kudos to Stephen Moffat and the team for keeping Jenna Louise Coleman’s introduction secret; we need more surprises like this in today’s spoilercentric world.

In terms of social networking, I have begun using the site again. Although I am yet to contact anyone directly, I have been dipping into the forums and sharing a few opinions here and there.

Stiffed, the first two chapters at least, is an excellent and intriguing read whilst I had completely forgotten how wonderful Frasier is. David Hyde Pierce, I salute you :)

Meanwhile, my blog – although sporadic in quality – has been updated twice a day, every day!

As for next week, perhaps I need a few tougher challenges:

1. Watch One Tree Hill Season 9 and write a blog about how this show changed my life.
2. Make at least two new friends on the social networking site (i.e. message people…gulp!)
3. Begin…and finish…The Comfort of Our Kind.
4. Come up with a new weekly series idea for my blog; which, given it’s only a few days away, I better start working on pretty soon!
5. Post at least one constructive comment a day, anywhere on the internet.

Linky Love

My five favourite posts I published this week, in case you missed them, are:

1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit
2. My 100th Post: The past, present and future of All That I Am
3. Unsent Letter #1: The first real friend I ever had
4. Seven things that make me happy (as searched via Google)
5. Twenty life lessons I learnt whilst homeless

Five posts that other people wrote that rocked my world, are:

1. The Conversation: The Vagaries of Vulgarity and Honour Among Perverts
2. So You Think You Can Think: What If I Am Stronger Than I Think I Am
3. Becky Blanton: Mark, people, including the homeless themselves, still see the homeless…
4. Pride in Madness: I Used to Write
5. Mail Online: Men are suffering a depression epidemic too… and some of it is caused by women

and my favourite blog of the week is The Curse of the Single Parent, so be sure to check it out :)

And finally…

My three favourite photographs of the week:

The Escape Artist

The Ornament

Haunted Room


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Stop the abuse: why I left Twitter and why I’m returning!

Five months ago, after an eighteen month hiatus from Twitter, I made a return to the social network. I did so for one simple reason; being a socially isolated homeless man, with a history of mental health problems, it was the only outlet I had for interacting with society.

For two months I tweeted the occasional opinion, shared articles I felt important, engaged with other users and received abusive feedback. My homelessness was criticized with comments ranging from ‘get off your lazy arse and get a job’ to ‘why not just drink yourself to death’. My mental health was attacked with comments ranging from ‘harden the f**k up you pathetic c**t’ to ‘just f**king hang yourself, retard’.

With my mood descending into depression, in part from these comments, I eventually stopped logging onto Twitter and once again slipped into uncommunicative isolation; an isolation that prevented me from writing my blog, from reading websites, from having any contact with the outside world.

Throughout this period I often wanted to return. Despite the abuse I enjoyed reading Tweets, I enjoyed having a means to connect with the outside world, I relished the ability to begin communicating again after years of pain, isolation and homelessness.

Now, upon hearing what has happened to Charlotte Dawson, I have decided to return; abuse be damned!

When I was in primary school I was regularly thrown against walls and kneed in the bollocks. I was constantly attacked for wearing glasses, for wearing braces, for being fat, for being in the recorder group. The latter, I believe, out of jealously considering I was the only boy to eight girls (gotta love those odds!)

When I was in secondary school my weight (as always) was fair game, my inability to play sports well (often as a result of being rendered blind) was maliciously used and when my sister’s mental illness deteriorated, it’s not hard to understand this was used against me.

When I was travelling I would find anonymous notes (the precursor to Twitter?) left with my food in hostels telling me I should kill myself because I was fat, useless bastard.

When I was in an abusive relationship, not a single part of my past, present or future was left untouched. Every single aspect of my life – including all the intimate, personal information I’d shared because I trusted this person – was fair game. Everything I had ever thought, felt, said or done was regularly assaulted. I was borderline stalked, cyber-bullied and told to kill myself with vicious cruelty.

Verbal/emotional abuse can be just as horrific as physical abuse

When I began my blog I would receive dozens of anonymous emails and comments  attacking every aspect of what I was writing about. I still do to this day. Mental illness, it seems, is still an accepted reason to abuse!

When I was trying to rebuild my life following breakdowns, suicide attempts and mental illness I was the recipient of a vicious cyber-campaign. Out of nowhere I began receiving emails and text messages of ever escalating length and severity. Always sent in block capitals. Always anonymously.

Selected (actual) highlights:

YOU’RE A DISGUSTING MENTALLY ILL RETARD

BEAT YOURSELF TO DEATH. CUT YOURSELF TO DEATH. JUST FUCK OFF AND DIE.

THE ONLY THING YOU DESERVE TO FUCK IS A RAZOR BLADE

WOMEN VOMIT AT THE THOUGHT OF FUCKING YOU. JUST DO US A FAVOUR, BUY A KNIFE, GO HOME, HACK YOUR COCK OFF. LET THAT MENTALLY RETARDED BLOOD FLOW.

When I became homeless the floodgates opened. I received endless verbal abuse. I had hot coffee ‘accidentally’ spilled on me. I was pissed on. I was physically assaulted by drunken AFL fans – apparently it was my fault their team lost that night. For some reason attacking the homeless is still considered acceptable by society.

As a result of the abuse: I started self-harming. I developed severe mental illness. I attempted suicide in 2000, 2006, 2007 (twice), 2008 and at least once a year since. I lost my chance of tertiary education. I lost every possession I’d ever owned. My social network was destroyed. I became homeless. And there’s a good chance I will never have anything or anyone in my life again.

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!

All of the anonymous haters that populate these web forums and social networks, venting their spleen at people they’ve never met will never have the one thing that I possess in droves: strength! They inflict pain on emotionally vulnerable people because it’s the only way they can feel better about their themselves. Their lives spent hiding behind unfunny pseudonyms because they hate who they are even more than they hate the world.

Instead of working to improve their lot in life, they just take it out on everyone else and to hell with the consequences. They don’t understand the pain of knowing someone who has taken their own life as a result of being abused. If they did, they might think twice about what they’re doing, for it is a pain that never leaves you.

By staying away from Twitter all I am doing is telling these weak, self-hating, bullies that they’ve won.

Why should I withdraw from the only social contact I have because of these morons?

Why should I take away the only chance I have to get my life back because these selfish prats have decided I don’t deserve one?

Why should I let the abusers who have tried to destroy my life win?

I don’t agree with abuse. I don’t agree with bullying. I don’t agree that a human being has the right to inflict such pain on another. No matter what, no-one deserves to be abused!

I am many things; mentally ill, socially isolated, kinky, unloved, lonely, unsupported, overweight, homeless.

But I am also; caring, compassionate, kinky (it’s a good thing!), intelligent, cute, funny, driven, creative, determined.

I may have had everything taken from me; home, possessions, friends, health, passion, dreams, hope.

But no-one will ever take my strength.

Ever.

You can follow me on Twitter @addylake but please note, due to my situation and lack of 24/7 internet access, tweets are sporadic.


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Emotional Abuse – Just FRACK off!

One of the few things I never failed in was my walk from Inverness to Drumnadrochit in September 1997. I’ll always remember how it felt during those last few miles telling myself constantly…the home stretch, not far now.

Which is where we are now. The home stretch; not many pixellated words left now.

“We have nothing to lose – nothing, absolutely nothing – that’s more valuable than our self-respect, our sense of self worth,”

“Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics like intimidation, manipulation and refusal to ever be pleased. Emotional abuse is like brainwashing in that it systematically wears away at the victims self confidence, sense of self worth, trust in her perceptions and self concept. Whether it be by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of ‘guidance’ or teaching, the results are similar. Eventually the recipient loses all sense of self and all remnants of personal value.”

Halt.
There’s something there I don’t like.
Let’s give them another chance:

“Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be longer lasting than physical ones. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victims self esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no-one else could want them. They stay in abusive relationships because they believe they have nowhere else to go. Their ultimate fear is being all alone.”

What?

Was it impossible for them to type their, them or themselves? I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read articles, opinion pieces, news snippets or whatever where the victim is always feminine and the perpetrator masculine. It’s degrading to both men and women. Now I’m aware that there are more documented incidents of abuse on women, but I am just so tired of men always being painted as the big bad; imbeciles with no emotion or feelings. I mean does it ever occur to people men don’t talk about their emotions because society doesn’t let us?

Men can self harm.
Men can suffer from depression.
Men can feel both emotional and physical pain.
Men can cry.
Men can be upset.
Men can have low self-esteem.
Men can have body issues.
Men can be abused; physically, sexually and emotionally.

Just because we have penises (and the odd hairy back) doesn’t make us immune – and just because women have ovaries (and the odd hairy back) doesn’t make them infallible angels.
It’s sexist to say otherwise.

For a man to be a victim it doesn’t make them weak or not masculine. It means they have emotions, it means that they are human. I’ll stand up for my beliefs more than most do – but I’ll also crumble and cry when I need to. It’s not a case of whether I’m manly, masculine or any of that stereotypical crap propagated by the media and society.

It means I feel.

However the common perception, at least from my experiences, is that if a man is abused he is therefore weak for allowing it to happen to him in the first place. He deserved it. Therefore he is not worthy of a place in society. Sure, some hold the same perception for women, but both are absolutely fracking wrong. No-one deserves to be abused in any way shape or form. They are not weak for allowing it to happen to them.

They are actually stronger than the abusers for surviving the abuse in the first place.

If I was to stand up and say I was raped I would (quite possibly) be called a liar and (most likely) laughed at for allowing it to happen. For not fighting back. But ten percent of all rapes have men as the victim. If I was to stand up and say I was raped I would (quite possibly) be ostracised and judged as unworthy, unmasculine, by the women in my life or society in general.

Me admitting to being emotionally abused is the same.

All abuse is the same and should be treated as such. Whether the victim is male or female…and more needs to be done to raise awareness of abuse in all forms and protect the victim. Too often the abuser gets off Scot-free and gets to live a perfectly normal happy life – whereas the abused has their life destroyed and lives in silent pain for the rest of their days.

“It’s the non-stop, nagging, nit picking voice in your head, telling you that nothing you do will ever be good enough, that you’ve missed all your chances and messed up all your opportunities, that you don’t deserve love, respect and happiness,”

Like I said to the psychiatrist…tell someone something enough, they’ll believe it…which I nicked from Tony Hill in ‘Nocebo’…“Oh c’mon, did it ever occur to you if you tell a little girl over and over again that she is evil she’s gonna believe it!” Ahh, Robson, we love you and you delivered that line so so well :)

The same goes for anyone.

Child
Adult
Male
Female

The more you attack someone the more you criticise, the more you abuse – the more damage you are doing to the most fragile organ of the body. It changes processes, patterns, thoughts, affects the inner working of the synapses and lobes. Like I’ve said before there is a difference between criticism and criticism…but you know, it’s all bullshit. I can sit here waxing lyrical about emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, but what’s the fucking point? No-one believes the victim. Especially the male, he’s just a useless, worthless, weak willed, good for nothing fuckwit who should just go kill himself. Women are perfect little angels who never do anything wrong. They can sleep with whoever they want, whenever they want and bugger how their boyfriends might feel. They can be fully aware their boyfriends have serious illness and assignments to write but still see absolutely nothing wrong in dumping someone by text message. They’ve got a broken heart cause they dumped their boyfriend, yep, it’s up to him to fix it. He’s not ‘caring’ enough – yep – have a go at him because you should always care for someone who ends a relationship and friendship with no warning or explanation by text message. Attack everything your ex-boyfriend has ever done, said, felt or thought – even if it’s exactly what you’ve asked him to do. NO problem. Nothing wrong there. He’s a man, he’s supposed to just take it. He has no feelings or emotion. Never tell him why the relationship ended? Expect him to sacrifice friends? Manipulate his friends away from him? That’s how it should be. Blame him for everything he’s ever done in his life. Fine. Blame him for everything that’s gone wrong in your life, even when he hasn’t had contact for weeks, again, fine! Remind him in detail of every mistake he has ever made ever. Over and over again? No worries. If a man were to do any of that… Yeah, none of this is gonna have any bloody ramifications, just because I’m a man! Fuck. Fuck!! FUCK!!!

You see this is the problem with emotional abuse.

It!

Never!

Fucking!

Goes!

Away!

Ever!

“The victim of emotional abuse isn’t always aware of just how much pain and danger he or she is really experiencing,”

The emotional abuse – in reality – ended in July 2007 when I severed contact with my ex. I had to change my phone number, cancel my email account (losing 18 months of emails in the process) and for a period even sever contact with friends whom I missed dearly in order to limit the potential contact. It had been one of the most fucked up weeks of my life (well, since February 2007); mania, feeling like I was God, streaking in public, singing Song for Ten

in a casino complete with dance routine improvised on the spot, severe self harm. The last thing I needed was more arrogant self-grandiose bullshit by email, especially in tandem with the other event of that week. You see this was also the week I was triggered out of the manic phase and the last thing I needed was more abuse. Like I said in an earlier post – the timing of that email was second only to the text message of February 2007 in terms of destruction caused.

The emotional abuse – mentally – has never ended. Whether I’ve been in Melbourne, Caldicot, Cardiff, London, Inverness, Fort William, Drumnadrochit, Alice Springs, Sydney, Perth, Albury, Cootanumbra…there is always something to remind me. Places, people, faces, songs, smells, clothes, conversations, words, grunts. It doesn’t take much to force that fragile organ to remind you of something. It doesn’t even need a trigger, not really, the words are there, branded into my mind like some twisted Overlander Restaurant gimmick or fetishists dream.

The illnesses I endure feed off them; bipolar, self harm, hallucinations (they all love it)…all of them!

Almost every waking minute all those words, sentences and intent pulsate and surge through my mind. Little quells them. Self harm does, for a while, but I think only a lobotomy – or death – will rid me of these internal scars completely.

Sure this may make me weak. I don’t care any more.

Harden the fuck up! as the Aussies say Don’t let it get to you. Prove how strong you are.

Ummmm, I think I already have. What I went through in early ’07 would have killed most people. You hear about people who kill themselves because they lost a job, lost a relationship, had an argument, lost a gerbil, were a bit stressed at work, got a cold. All tragedies. I’ve lost everything, multiple times, but I’m still here.

“We have nothing to lose – nothing, absolutely nothing – that’s more valuable than our self respect, our sense of self worth,”

The abuse I received took these from me.

I didn’t want it to.

I’ve fought hard for this not to be the case.

As I said to the psychiatrist…it’s had me questioning the essence of “me” for years…I started writing the blog to help find it again; sharing my soul which I refused to believe was selfish, uncaring, wrong, repulsive, like a cancer, but as the words which cut me deep continue to bleed. Me, Addy, Andrew, continues to bleed with it. Eventually he’ll be gone, and a mere shell will remain. I know this to be true. It’s not what I want. I loved Addy, in many ways I still love Andrew, but unless I can find a way to heal the wounds, he’ll be gone.

Dead.

Not physically, I’m not talking about that.

But emotionally; because death, ultimately, occurs when the soul is destroyed.

A few months ago I coined a new phrase for myself. All of the shit that’s happened to me, all of the depression, self harm, loss, to me came about from shyness, which became social anxiety disorder, which – with the emotional abuse – become something a teensy bit different…


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Psychiatric Help 5c – The Doctor is in!

The human brain.

One of the most impressive yet fragile organs in the body.

It gets us up in the morning, helps us move, make breakfast, choose our undies, let’s us walk and talk and run and eat (and shag). It remembers our friends names, stores our most treasured memories and enables us to work and schedule and plan and hope (and shag). It even gets us through the night, entertaining us with movies and song and dance (and shags to help us nod off in the first place). When we get in trouble it even steps in to protect us, blocking out painful memories with smoke and mirror and repression. Sure this doesn’t always last forever, even the tiniest reference or conversation or smell (or shag) can bring things flooding back. You can’t blame it though, it has a lot to do and nobody – or thing – is perfect.

But what happens when it does go wrong?

If any other organ or body part fails…heart, lungs, legs, arms, eyes, ears, penis, feet, toes, kidney, pancreas, spleen, ovaries, fingers, epidermis…we notice, people can see, people believe.

Yet our brain?

When it goes wrong we can’t see it, no-one can, so it’s harder to believe something is wrong.

In the eyes of many, Mental Illness becomes nothing more than a figment of the imagination.

So where in this big ole jigsaw puzzle of the last couple of years are we, it’s been a random few days of blindingly confused thoughts and mood shifts so I need to remind even myself where I’m up to.

Following the events of Alice and the collapse of my life (again)…
Following the unsuccessful attempts to rebuild in Inverness…
Following the suicide of Stephanie…
Following the appearance of the mysterious {screwyou@}…
Following the increasing isolation I was experiencing…
Following the resurgence of self harm and suicidal thoughts…

It doesn’t take a genius to know I needed to see someone!

I’d been trying to access the MH services since my arrival in Inverness, but nothing came of it until a visit to the GP where I outlined my suicide thoughts. The appointment they made was for the following morning so I spent a restless night keeping things sedated with olanzapine, Planet of the Dead, Skins and 24 and took off to the psych hospital at 8am.

One psychiatrist. One nurse. One student.

The questions flowed thick and fast from all but the student – they’re generally not allowed to talk, just sit there and observe (and occasionally look cute)

Conversation #1
(where I’m in a really bad mood and not really giving all that much information, only one word or short sentence answers, as I tend to do in a ‘low’ mood!)

When did you start feeling suicidal?
Few weeks ago
Do you have a plan?
Always
Tell me about your childhood?
Bullied, self harm, ya know
What about your relationships?
What about ’em?
You said you still love your last girlfriend?
Yes
But she…?
Yes
So why?
Because
Are you still in touch?
Yes. When she needs me.
What about when you need her?
No
Why?
(shrug)
You blame yourself?
For what?
Things that go wrong?
Yes. I have to.
Why?
That’s the only person you can blame
But you said you were emotionally abused
Yes
Wasn’t she to blame?
No.
We’ll come back to that. 2007?
What about it?
You had a breakdown, self-harmed then you had a period of euphoria. When?
June/July
Where?
Adelaide
Why?
Have you ever been to Adelaide?
No
Go, you’ll understand :)
How did it feel?
Like I was an immortal misogynistic God.
God?
Like I could do anything or have anyone I wanted for supper and then oral for dessert
Oral?
Sex. I like the taste…and the smell.
Oh.
Oh indeed.
So you had an increase in sexual appetite?
Yes
Did you think about protection?
Sex isn’t purely about penetration
How long did this period last for?
A few weeks
Do you remember it all?
No, just fragments
What about your friends, couldn’t they fill in the blanks?
My friend at the time never saw me. No-one I knew did.
And you came down naturally?
No
Triggered? What was it?
Next question
Triggers are important.
I know they are, I wrote an article on them once. I don’t want to talk about it.
Anything you say is confidential.
Well after I came down I hit a deep depression and then tried to hang myself.
Hang yourself?
In October 2007
Is that the plan now?
Seems as good a way as any
Do you often feel like this?
Mostly, don’t have much I like about life
What do you like about life?
(shrugs)

…and etc and onwards and blah blah blah.

Been there before, will no doubt be there again. They sent me off after alternating my medication (this was when I started the AM/PM olanzapine dosages) and I spent the rest of the morning sitting on Craig Phadrig before heading home to think about the second meeting they had arranged for me – and to divulge myself once again in the rather obvious mystery of “He will knock four times” which I’d kindof already figured out but it’s still a wonderful scene, and hey, Michelle Ryan is kinda hot :p

The second meeting went along much the same lines. Only one person this time, one of the ones who had been in the room the day before. It was in another location, on the other side of town.

The only difference was my mood had swung a little and I was more vocal, uncontrolled in my emotions, somewhat angrier and more inclined to give detail and ramble on tangents I don’t really believe 100% as I do when I go a bit hyper. It’s because my in-built guards are down and I’m not bothered about what I’m saying or what people think of me. Inhibitions, that’s the word I was looking for. They dissipate when I go “up” in my moods…

Conversation #2
(some of the answers I’ll give as links as they’re things I’ve covered previously – plus this is an edited account, a couple of things we talked about are not for public digestion)

So, about your childhood. What stands out the most?
The bullying mainly. Mostly verbal, sometimes physical. I mean c’mon, I was an overweight kid who looked 9 months pregnant, glasses, Scottish accent – at an age when it wasn’t sexy! One time I was thrown up against a wall and kneed in the bollocks for no reason. One time I remember I was called to the front of French class to say something or other and as I was getting up two girls decided to hook something onto my belt and yank my trousers down. That wasn’t embarrassing in the slightest. Then all the name calling and verbal insults, they always hurt the worst. Oh, and Natalie, I remember.
Who was Natalie?
Two people. Well, not really. Well, what I mean is she wasn’t one Natalie with a split personality, but two Natalie’s with the same spelling. One Natalie, we’ll call her Natalie, had problems, the other we’ll call Nats and as far as I know she didn’t have problems, just a really excellent bottom and a slayer smile. It would have been much easier if they’d had different spellings, but that’s the way of the world.
Natalie, what sort of issues?
Anorexia, OCD, it started when she was young
How young?
About 9
That is young
That’s what I said, she was young
How did it affect you?
Hard. I was overweight, as I said, and as I remember it she had it in her mind she could “catch” it from me so we couldn’t touch, be in the same room, speak…it was hard.
And the other Natalie?
She was someone at school
With an excellent bottom?
And a slayer smile…hey, I was a guy even then :) She was the most beautiful girl in school and I had it for her bad. I wanted to talk to her so much, but, I was shy, painfully so, didn’t know how and the bullying all the time. It got impossible to talk to people…which is when I started self-harming, which turned to depression, which turned to social anxiety. I really want to talk to people but I just find it so hard.
Ok. After school, did you go to Uni?
I did not. I probably could have got in somewhere but the self-harm and all, kinda screwed up my GCSEs and I fucked over my A-levels so…I dunno…I kinda knew what I wanted to do but didn’t have the confidence to pursue it because of…well, it’s as if the bullying put me off education. Does that make sense?
You equated education with bullying?
Yes. It took me ages to get the confidence to go to college in Inverness – and then again in Melbourne, the demons were still there both times.
So what happened in Melbourne?
I tried really hard, really fracking hard, ya know. It had been a rough year in 06…
That was the year you and Lucy broke up?
…yes. We tried to make it work but, we couldn’t. It was painful, affected me badly.
Which was partly behind your suicide attempt that year?
Yes, in March, pulled me back into a deep depression and re-ignited self-harm urges. Everything got too much. Anyway. I worked really hard that year to get over everything, get it all sorted and under control. You know what they say, friends are the best medicine and I had friends, had a new relationship, I felt better than ever by the end of the year.
How so?
My confidence, self esteem, belief in what I could do. Everything. I got glandular fever then, which really fucked me up, but i tried to give it my all – all I could anyway.
That can be a rough illness, I had it once. The PFVS got to me quite badly?
Absolutely! Screwed me around that did as well. But hey, for the first time in ages I didn’t feel depressed. I was happy with where I was, where I was going and what was happening. I had a five year plan for the first time in, well, ever.
And then?
CLL, dumped by text, really screwed me up and I had all these assignments, worked my arse off but…
…you lost college, I remember you saying that yesterday.
It was really hard going back, but I had to, stepping stone to uni and all. I’ve never understood what the frack happened that year.
Did she tell you why she ended it?
Not really. The only straight answer to the question as I remember was in April.
That would have given you some form of closure at least…
…if you can call the answer “I don’t know, I didn’t want to, why are you shouting at me?” a solid answer to the question ‘why did you break up with me’ yeah. But I don’t. That to me is bullshit. Sorry, language.
And then the abuse started?
It had always been there in some way or another, when we were together I was more willing to push it aside or let it go…but it went to a whole new level after she broke up with me. I dunno, the way she acted sometimes was as if I’d broken up with her, she just didn’t seem to understand things from my point of view. It fucked me up.
That’s a common issue with people who fall into abuse, not being able to see things from other perspectives than their own.
Yeah, I wrote some articles on it once, did some research.
Did that help?
No. Nothing I’ve done has helped with that.
Your history with bullying wouldn’t have helped either.
Nope. To be told every day that whatever you do, say, think or feel is wrong…fucks you up. I’m sorry about the language by the way.
That’s ok. I want to skip on for a moment, your next relationship was with…(checks notes)
Yes. That was a hard one to get into. I was attracted to her from the word go but, well, trust isn’t exactly my strong suit – especially with my history. Self confidence was shot to fuck, trying to rebuild my life, but I definitely wanted her.
You liked her?
Hell yeah. I was trying so hard to get my life back on track. I wanted to feel good again, especially with my 30th coming up.
Did you have trouble trusting her after the abuse?
Yes. It was hard but I didn’t let it be an issue, not openly because I knew it was my issue and not hers. I didn’t think…well, maybe a little.
Did she ever give you a reason not to trust her?
A few times.
Did she…?
Yes.
How did that feel?
My first girlfriend cheated on me whilst I was sacrificing everything in my UK life to move to the other side of the world for her and then directly lied to my face about it whilst expecting me to sacrifice friends for her. My second girlfriend lied to me and then emotionally abused me after instigating a situation which shouldn’t have happened had she had the ability of empathy which set about the destruction of my life and then spent months attacking me for not caring about her and her feelings. How do you think it felt?
(breath)
Sorry. I didn’t mean to get angry, moods a bit, and this is a whole sore point for me. It’s just, I know I made mistakes, we all do, we’re all human, but sometimes I wanna know what I did that was SO wrong, ya know? It just feels that they were all ‘take’ relationships, that’s how it feels, anyway.
What do you mean?
Lucy, she had a four year visa for the UK, stayed for just over half that time. She could’ve worked there for another year and then we could have gone to Australia together, gone to Europe together. I understand why she wanted to go but…sometimes it’s like, was she expecting me to go to Australia? Did she even want me to? And then there was…which opened up a whole barrel of bilbys. Then Kathy, when she had glandular fever I was there for her, always, whenever I could cause I wanted to help her get better, not feel so shit. Then when I have it? I’m not being nasty here but she did fuck all, actually pushed me harder than when I didn’t have it. Then it’s like she knew I had glandular fever…knew about the assignments…what was she seriously expecting to happen when she dumped me like that? Happy bunny feelings and nothing go wrong. You can’t dump someone by text message when they have an illness like that and expect things to end well.
Do you think she did it deliberately?
Sometimes, yes, she’s a smart girl, one of the smartest I’ve ever known…but I’ve never thought her as malicious. Then Diane. She had problems, depression and etc and sometimes I was there for her 24-7; leaving work, having to make up hours, calling in sick, putting her above me and friends whenever she needed me. Full time job, full time carer, mental illness. It was bloody hard. Then when I got down or self harmed or whatever…she was never there for me, then Christmas. I dunno. It just feels that it was always about them and to me a relationship should be two way – give and take for both people. I gave whatever I could but it just feels that emotionally and supportively they gave nothing back. Ya know? I’m venting, sorry.
That’s ok. Let’s move away from the relationships for a bit. After college?
I had my nervous breakdown
And then mania?
A few months later in Adelaide
And your hallucinations?
My imaginary friend? Well, enemy. Well, complete bitch…jeez, I only just got it, that’s funny.
What is?
Nothing, sorry, personal joke.
OK. Then your suicide attempt?
Indeed. Fun day. Barrel of wacky entertainment.
You’ve been through a lot.
Thank you. You don’t know the half of it!
Let’s talk about “now” for a while. You’re living in Kingsmills.
Up near the gold course
What’s it like?
It’s a room in a house, a rooming house. Well, a nursery. Well, a kindergarten. Converted kindergarten.
Bathroom?
Two showers, two toilets, sixteen people, can be hard.
Kitchen?
One. Small. Not much space.
Entertainment?
No TV, lounge, nothing. Just me…in the bedroom…alone…with an empty bed. I have a computer but no internet, tried a wireless drongo thing but no signal in the house.
So what do you do?
Nothing really, watch stuff on the computer, the odd DVD if the drive decides to work. Sit. Stare. Self harm. Don’t have much money so can’t go anywhere. No friends, no social life.
And with no money…
…it’s impossible to do anything. Plus the trust and social anxiety issues makes it impossible anyway. The only people I talk to are my parents…and Diane, when she needs me.
You must be lonely.
That is the understatement of the year.
When was the last time you saw a friend, not family, face to face?
February – just over three months ago
You mentioned Stephanie yesterday?
Yep. Steph. She was cool.
Do you blame yourself?
Yes
It wasn’t your fault, you did your best.
In ’07 I was blamed for everything. To put in perspective how much she blamed me for – the September 11 terrorist attacks, if she could have pinned me in New York that day, I would have been responsible – tell someone something enough, they’ll believe it. If I’m to blame for everything in my life and everyone elses then I’m also responsible for everything, and everyone.
It appears to me the emotional abuse has affected your self-esteem quite badly.
Second understatement of the year :)
So what about you?
What about me?
Who looks after you, other than family?
Me
No-one else?
Not now.
And if you’re trying to look out for everyone else when do you find time for you?
They take priority. Kathy used to tell me that I didn’t do enough to care about her, or anyone back then, and that I deserved to lose everything because of it. I did, lose everything. If I try harder with others maybe things will be karmically resolved.
Even at the expense of yourself? Your health, happiness?
If I’d done more for people then, as she said, I wouldn’t have lost everything. I’m not important.

Do you think she was right?
She was about everything else.
Emotional abuse can leave bad scars, inside. Do you really believe she was right?
Tell someone something enough they’ll believe it to be true. Criticise, tell them they’re useless and worthless and a bad friend and a waste of space, pour water over their head in a restaurant for stating an opinion – which is gonna make stating an opinion in the future difficult – keep this going for months…what do you think’s gonna happen. It’s had me questioning the essence of “me” for years.
We need to work on that.
Be my guest :)
Guilt is a funny thing, sometimes we blame ourselves – punish ourselves even – for things we have no say in. No control over.
And other times, like Steph…Rachel…and…
And…?
…(pause)…sometimes we blame ourselves for things because we screwed up. Period. It was our fault. Therefore the blame is ours, the guilt is ours, and we should have the strength to admit that to ourselves instead of endlessly blaming others.
And…?
That’s it. We screw up.
I get the impression there’s something else, is this what we mentioned earlier?

(later in the conversation)

Ok. We’ll need to talk more about that but we’re out of time for today.
Ok
Before you go, I’d like you to have a look at this. It was something that came to me yesterday…and I wanted your thoughts.
Ok

She went over to a file and produced a piece of paper, which I had – for a brief moment – hoped contained some mystical spell/incantation which would magically cure my ailing mind – but alas – it was just something that made things even more complicated!

Cool, just what I need right about now! :)


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Let’s Talk About Suicide – Part IV: Stephanie. Her grace, my guilt.

For Stephanie,
…Would you mind if I pretended we were somewhere else…


…doing something we wanted to…

Suicide is one of the great ugly words which few like to say and even fewer hear. It’s one of the touchiest subjects out there, even more so than paedophilia or child abuse. We’re not allowed to talk about it in public, nor in private. Not to our family, friends or lovers for fear of upsetting them or causing worry. So who do we talk about it to? We’re encouraged to phone Lifeline, the Samaritans or – preferably – seek professional help. Have you ever seen the prices of psychologists or counsellors? Checked the prices lately for a visit to the GP? Ever had the courage to admit yourself at ER when suicidal? Wanna take that chance? Unless you have extreme confidence, or can access a free service or have a shitload of money you’ve no chance. Even those helplines are hard to talk to without courage unless you’re seriously desperate. We live in a society where one of the most important topics is one of the last great taboos. So who does one talk to when you don’t know where else to turn? What if you don’t have many friends? Like me…or Stephanie?

…cause all this living makes me wanna do is die cause I can’t live with you…

Stephanie was 23 years old. A gifted photographer with a knack for seeking out the beautiful in the forgotten, bizarre and sad. Physically, in an ironic twist of fate, very much a cross between Kathy and (later) Sa5m, only with red hair. She made me laugh, she was whip-smart and if we’d ever actually met I’m sure a friendship would have blossomed. We never did meet though because she took her life before we had the chance. A bright life lost and it was my fault. I was responsible.

…and you don’t even care…

Steph first contacted me because she didn’t know where else to turn. Her email just said Hey and found your blog and a few other niceties which I hear from time to time. They’re, well, nice to hear, they bolster me up a bit. Then it said I think about death too, that must make me as looney as you, hey? and then signed off with a single thanks only with an x in place of the k and s.

I didn’t write back after reading it. I didn’t spend much time online back then other than when job hunting – and I had enough enough problems of my own after the events of Alice a couple of months before, moving back home and trying to rebuild my life. I just left the Internet cafe after signing off and headed into town.

I spent the night walking through the islands, my favourite spot in Inverness, thinking a whole pantheon of thoughts. Of my stupidity with Grace, my guilt, of that line, of wombats and shinglebacks and CVs and vegemite and feather dusters and pizza and Jack Bauer and Kathy and Mae and Diane and pyjamas and promises both kept and broken and jam, who doesn’t think about jam? But always my mind kept coming back to Grace, my guilt and that line. When I eventually returned home in the early hours I curled into bed and when I woke up in a sweat after a particularly disturbing dream knew what I had to do.

…Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else…

There was only reason for putting that word there. The amount of things she could have written are endless: cheese jam, butts, the Doctor, pancakes, whipped cream, wombats, Battlestar Galactica, voles, badgers and the whole army of small mammals which invaded all those blog posts, sex, undies and a whole plethora of other random things which I love which popped up on the blog. Why death? Why empathise that word?

I’d known from the fist time I’d read it, I just hadn’t wanted to admit it. I’d wanted to forget about it. I didn’t need more proof that Kathy was right all along. I should move on and forget about it. But shouldn’t I be proving her wrong? That flashing two word sign and arrow had been blinking away for a day – nope, not “LIVE NUDES” but “CLASSIC INDICATOR”

So after cleaning off from the dream I headed back into town to use the Internet for the second day straight. I had enough guilt coursing through me, I had to write back. It was a response that I kept controlled; thanking her for the kind words and then, without being confrontational, asked if she was okay and that if she wanted, she could talk to me. She didn’t have to be alone.

…with courage in love and war…

When her response came a couple of days later it was – and excuse the crude metaphor – as if she had vomited her life onto the screen. Far longer than the first, far more emotional, and from the first read through I could sense two things:
1) that she had obviously kept so much bottled in from everyone she knew for a long time.
2) How similar she and I, and our experiences, were.

She told me of abuse both emotional and sexual, of being dumped by text message with no explanation, of self harm and depression and no official diagnosis. She told me she had no friends as most had sided with her ex and the rest had fled from her “down” mood. Her family didn’t understand why she couldn’t just “cheer up”. She’d lost her college course because of her illness. She was lost, alone and scared. She told me she’d been researching ways to kill herself when shed come across my blog. She’d read it all (one of the few, and thus gets a medal) and wishes she’d had the courage and strength I had. She’d written to me out of desperation, fear and that she felt she knew me somehow.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it wasn’t me any more. That events had changed me. I wasn’t strong or courageous. I was weak, selfish and guilt ridden. I was then, as I am now, as far from “Addy” as I’ll ever be. He’s gone.

…I used to think that’s what I was…

Instead I told her how she was brave for admitting her feelings, for seeking help. She was courageous for surviving the abuse she suffered. I asked her to seek help, go see a Doctor, a professional, talk to her family and make them understand things were not all okay. I also asked her questions; who she was, what she loved, where she was, talk to me. Not just about how she felt but anything. In other words I was trying to distract her, get her to focus on her passions instead of the darkness whilst also encouraging her to seek professional help.

This is how I found out that she resembled a red haired Kathy/Sa5m with a naughty grin.
This is how I found out about her love of photography and art, and her obvious skill.
This is how I got to know who she was and what made her tick and smile and laugh and cry and feel all gooey.

…but now this lying hurts too much…

All this from just a half dozen or so emails, a few MSNs and the need of two lonely people to feel as if someone cared. Two people who seemed so alike, whose experiences had been so similar, who had known agony and loss and the exquisite incomprehensible link between pleasure/pain of life/death, had found each other when she needed help.

…And I don’t know what for…

So why, I’m sure you’re asking, if you got on so well did you not meet? Well, there’s the rub, the further irony, for she lived in Australia, Sydney to be exact. Whereas I was 15000 miles away in the Highlands of Scotland. If I hadn’t gone home would she still be here?

So why, I’m sure you’re asking, if you got on so well, and were so concerned, did you not get help for her? Well, how could I? I had only an email address – she wouldn’t give me her phone or snail mail. Plus, I’m not Willow; blogs, HTML, websites and porn – sure, we can all do that – but hacking, nope, not a chance.

I did what little I could. All I could think to do. I talked, communicated, offered support, all those things which had eaten away like maggots of the Guilt of grace and Rachel. I’d let her down, should have saved them. Here, now, with Stephanie, I had a chance. I was getting through to her.

And then…nothing.
And then…still nothing.
And then…even more nothing.

I checked emails less, threw myself deeper into job hunting and self harm and Wire in the Blood and had to stop watching during the last scene of “Hole in the Heart” because the silence from Steph was deafening my mind.

I’d hoped she was on holiday.
I’d hoped she was in hospital.
I’d hoped she was happy.
Getting laid.
Getting hugs.
Getting kisses.
Getting bum squeezes and tickles.

She wasn’t.

I found out after nearly two weeks of silence that I had failed (yet) again. That the second email I read that day was right. In yet another ironic twist Stephanie had hung herself.

…How could I be such a fool to think that there was anything that your love could bring to my life to my eyes what I wanna see that I wanted your love to belong to me…

It was my fault. I was responsible. I should have saved her. Through writing a blog she had chanced upon me, me, who she had asked for help, had failed to save her like she had reached out to me for.

Maybe if I had never written this blog she would still be alive; snapping photos, cracking smiles and relishing her love in the lost, forgotten and sad.

It was like Kathy had said to me once…

…but I’ll stand if you want me to…

In June, I returned to Australia. The UK wasn’t my home, I knew that, and I wanted to be back there. I flew into Sydney. I wondered what it would have been like had she still been alive, whether we would have met. I took time to visit her favourite piece in the gallery, seeing her reflection everywhere. I took time to sit on a bench she’d loved and anecdoted about. I took time to walk over the bridge at night, stare into the icy depths. When I visited her grave I sat for a while, thinking of her, of Rachel and so many souls lost.

I hate neither Rachel nor Steph. I hate myself for not helping them.
I do not blame them for being selfish. I blame myself for not being there for them.
They were in pain and I had let them down.

The world had let them down.

A world where helplines must be paid for, where GPs charge over $60 and medicine and psychologists enter into the realm of extortion.

A world where there’s a blanket ban on ever talking about the dreaded S, D, A and MH words. Where empathy is now a swear word, it’s meaning forgotten.

A world where work, status, money, expensive jeans, over priced restaurants, fat cat politicians, alcohol and self – the increasingly onmi-present “me” – take precedence over the raw emotion of human kind.

Heaven forbid we talk about how we feel in fear of upsetting someone. In fear of not making them eternally happy. In fear of so many things. Too many things. I’m as guilty as anyone.

…my legs are strong and I’ll move on but honey I’m weak in the knees for you…

Coda
The night I had found out about Steph I listened to so many songs that they became less individual compositions and more a comforting doona of sound. Something to wrap my emotions into and hide away from the world as I skipped, repeated and drowned my thoughts into oblivion.

As the music surged my mind became a hurricane of confused thoughts, pain, grief, memory and guilt. Imagine the opening of The Gift – only lasting a few hours.

Through it all I just kept coming back to that email. Not the one from Steph, but the one I had read moments later, the second one.

The one from {screwyou@}.

I have unfortunately lost the actual text. But it told me I was a mentally ill useless retard who never helped anyone and that I should just fuck off and die (amongst other things…of which this is the polite version).

The most perfectly timed email since Kathy’s of July 2007 – which will always be second only to the timed perfection of that text message in terms of destruction caused.

And it was right. My efforts had failed. I had failed all of them. Another friend lost and more guilt to consume me.

It was like Kathy had said to me once…you’re like a cancer, sucking away our happiness, destroying our lives.

The grace and ecstasy of the guilt and grief made me realise that night I wasn’t who I believed I was. It had been clear for years, so many people telling me, trying to let me know. Kathy, Mae, Grace, Diane, Addy…Rachel…

…now Stephanie…

…someone else to miss, to cry tears for, to wish for peace and happiness as I enveloped myself into that doona of sound, noise, images, memories, ghosts, guilt and grief.


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Hope in Retrospect

So, here we are again. Right back to where it all started. The original layout, the old photos, those wacky animated gifs…though come to think of it with all the current wooden spoon outrage maybe I should remove the spanking one for fear of promoting abuse! And frack me look at all those words! Blimey, what was I thinking?? Hundreds upon thousands of tiney weeny pizellated letters chronicling over ten years of my life. Nay! My whole life! A life jam packed full of inner pain, exhaustion, stigma, endless fighting, endless judgements, confusion, lies, joy, smiles, laughter and hope.

Ahhh, hope :)

That’s what it all comes down to in the end. All of our lives being endlessly guided by the hope we’ll be liked, loved, accepted, happy. The hope that before we die we’ll be someone to someone. Hope is life, without it, we’re pointless. For hope breeds passion – and without passion, we’re truly dead.

(Well, that’s not bad, only a few paragraphs in and already the old pop culture references hit the screen!)

I decided to write these updates on the 11 October 2009, the two year anniversary of the day I should have died. A day I will never forget. How can you forget a day which saw you nearly take your last breath? What’s made it all so difficult though is trying to work out where to start. How do you look back on two years which you’d hoped would have seen the start of your new life – but in actual fact has found you in an even worse place?

Easy.

You read…

It’s been sometime since I read a lot of these posts, maybe I need to pick out my favourites. A man who has no future always runs to his past (reference number two, different show, just as beautifully written) so where else to start? So newbies, oldies and those who dipped in from time to time let’s review the main piece I wrote all those years ago. So pour yourself a whisky (no “e’s” people!) and learn a wee bit about my life…and there’s no better place to start than where it all started for me. The foundation stone of this whole journey.

My War with Mental Illness
I wrote this before I even considered writing a blog. I’m still proud of it now, just as I was back then. Without it this blog would never have been born…so in hindsight I should probably left it unsaid. There’s also the video version, if you can’t be bothered reading the actual post, or even if you felt like watching it as a companion piece.

The idea for the blog came a few days later in Carlton Gardens. I’d taken one step toward beginning my fight – why not get it all out there? Every sordid detail which I had tried to hide in the hope I would be accepted. For some reason I followed through, so as days became weeks became months, these followed:

(Some) True Confessions of Self-Harmer
Until 2007 no-one knew I had self harmed since my teens. In fact I would be tempted to say no-one had even suspected it I had become so good as hiding it. Self harm is something few people get, and this was a tough one to write. How do you explain to people why you deliberately hurt yourself? I do like this, but it could have been so much better (a sentence which sums up my whole life really)

Social Anxiety Disorder
Unless you suffer from SAD/social phobia it is VERY HARD to understand how debilitating and destructive it is. More than depression, more than self-harm, more than bipolar – this is what destroyed me. I got so close to thrashing it in ’07 (pre breakdown) that I’ve never been able to recover from how close I came.

Desideratum
I remember this for one reasons…probably the most random post title of the whole blog :)

Men and Mental Health
Everyone who has a mental illness will experience a vast amount of stigma at some point in their life – but try being a man and having to deal with the inherent sexism of suffering from a mental illness at the same time. I wrote this post in bed and even though it’s not all that well written, is still a personal favourite of mine.

The “Let’s Talk About Suicide” Series
There were a lot of recurring themes on the blog but only a couple of multi-part posts. This was the first.
Part I…I STILL stand by to this day. Sure it received the finest ever single word comment any post received in the history of the blog (“Pathetic”) but I STILL stand by it.
Part II…VERY hard for me to write, like the self harm posts, few knew in detail of my suicide attempts until now.
Part III…All I remember from writing this are tears. The first time I’d told anyone of Rachel.
Part IV…will be coming this week :)

Let’s Talk About my Nervous Breakdown
This event is why my life will never be what I hoped for. A seismic event from which the ripples ar estill reverberating to this day. It didn’t have to happen, that’s what kicks me in the gut every morning. For ultimately, the breakdown is what led to…

Coming to Terms with Bipolar
…the revelation that I was bipolar. Which made a lot of sense to me but still confuses the hell out of me. (unfortunatel my post detailing my manic phase in Adelaide was lost along with my domain earlier this year)

What Do I mean by Stigma?
Still a great question and is unfortunately something that I have come to realise will never go away :(

“Emotional Abuse” Series
Of all of the posts I wrote throughout this journey these posts – without question – received the biggest reponse, still do. To this day I still receive emails on an almost weekly basis from people writing to thank me for writing it, from people who find themselves in the same painful situation, who don’t know what to do. it is still unfortunately something which doesn’t receive enough attention, and the perceptions that it is not as destructive as other forms of abuse are bullshit! The abuse I suffered is in my mind everyday, my social anxiety feeds of it, and in my mind has destroyed any chance of me having close relationships in the future for the simple reason that I trust no-one. Blimey, I sound like Mulder, but alas, it’s the truth.

They’re the main ones. They’re the core. But it wasn’t what the blog was all about. Sure I suffer from mental illness – bu tthe point of what I was doing was getting across it wasn’t who I was. I was Andrew! All of my loves, passions, desires, kinks and dreams were scattered through the blog for all to digest and discover. From my crushes (Oh Carey, Maggie, how did you become so beautiful? And if you’ve never seen Blink watch it NOW! I mean NOW! Just make sure you come back to finish reading :) to my dungaree fetish (ahh the memories of the CDC, why can’t Aussie’s wear them as much, sure they ain’t fashionable but they’re sure sexy :) to all manner of other things which were oh so obvious if never spoken of directly. Check out the I love list and write your own, or have a gander all over the place to learn more of then non-mental side of me. If you’re brave enough! :)

So as this blog post rattle on in it’s own pointless banality I’m thinking a lot about who I was and how I felt back then. It’s funny the memories which come back somtimes. More than anything remembering how much hope I had back then. How much strength still surged through me. How much I was determined to prove I was worth something more than what I had.

Hope

Always back to hope.

Sitting here in Southern Cross waiting room preparing to head back to the park in which I now sleep I know that hope has gone. Eaten away by mental illness, abuse, loneliness and the utter futility of pursuing your dreams. I would have lved to be writing now how I had succeeded in overcoming or at the least controlling the illnesses and pain which plague me. It would have meant she was wrong, that one of the reasons I pulled myself down from that noose had been correct. Alas, my “life” now is worser than it was then, so much so you can’t even call it a life. This is the curse of mental illness.

All I can therefore do is write these updates and conclude my journey as best I can – and hope that at some point the hope I once had will find a way back into my soul :)

So as I prepare to click ‘publish post’ and send even more memories flooding back here are some of the stops we’ll be taking on the journey this week:

– Let’s Talk About Suicide: Part IV…It never gets any easier
– Thirteen Reasons Why
– Bipolar Bear
– BPD WTF?
– Emotional Abuse: Just Frack OFF!
– Social Paralysis Disorder
– Starter for Ten: The Grand Final (email any questions you would like answered by Friday)

The next post: :”My Life, post blog…” will be published later today :)

Plus a few more along the way :)

[oh, and a side note, some of the links are broken as I haven’t had the chance to update and check them all…so sorry if something takes you somewhere it shouldn’t. I don’t mean viruses, I just mean some random dead page or changed page :)]