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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Homelessness and My Mental Stability

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…

…but that’s to come (it’s called foreshadowing)…

…because no update of the blog would be complete without mention of where all of this has ended up. All of this work I’ve put in over the years – to become someone; to become me; to become who I dreamed to be; to constantly reinvent myself out of the ashes like some chubby phoenix – what all of this has rewarded me with.

All that work battling social anxiety, panic, self esteem.
All that work stabilising self harm, depression and bipolar.
All that work trying to live a normal life.
Friends
Lover
Family
Career
Home
Pet Wombat
Smiles
Happiness
Hope (always back to hope)
All that they are now are memories of long forgotten dreams because all it’s ended up with is me:

  • Sleeping in a park
  • Under a blanket
  • Being nibbled not by a beautiful woman but mosquitoes (and in all honesty, the two really don’t compare)
  • With a hole in my crotch so big I could fit a hand through it (and yes, if it weren’t mosquitoes doing the nibbling this would have a lot of possibilities, but alas…)

I spend my days valiantly trying to rebuild my life whilst piecing together the shattered remnants of my soul whilst trying not to instigate one of the six suicide plans I’ve worked out. Fun life, eh?

“When you are approaching poverty…you also discover the great redeeming feature of poverty, the fact that it annihilates the future,”
George Orwell


Homelessness and My Mental Stability

“Homelessness is a tough, humiliating experience. Everyday, homeless people experience discrimination and the threat or reality of violence. They often wake up not knowing where they will sleep that night, whether they are going to get a meal and how they will stay safe,”

My days typically begin around 5am when I wake up stiff and sore from the concrete. My days typically end around 2am when I finally drift off into a fitful sleep full of nightmare. That equates to about 21 hours to fill each day. My only thought as I’m packing up and hiding my blankets is fuck, another goddamned day! So what to do? How do you fill so many empty hours when you have no money? When your focus is so shot to frack you can’t read or write? When you have no means to divulge your passions of photography, film, art? When you have no people to speak to, share stories, communicate with, engage fantasies with (or shag, kiss, massage, naughtily poke or tickle)?

You end up walking the streets aimlessly. Listlessly sitting in alleys to avoid contact and the inevitable about it will bring. You seek out what food you can – drop in centres, soup vans and bins.

I do what I can to survive each day. To keep those vicious bipolar bears, hallucinations, ghosts and miscellaneous crap at bay. To try and come up with anything to keep the knife sheathed.

I’ve attempted a walk to Sydney to revitalise the cracks of my soul and reignite sparks of life.

I’ve done things I’ve despised, which have made me vomit in taste and disgust, to get myself into a cinema for a couple of hours to escape the drudgery.

I’ve endlessly observed the streets looking for signs of those in need. People to help. Like I said to the psychiatrist…If I’d done more for people then, as she said, I wouldn’t have lost everything. I’m not important…I’ll give change when I can, advice, comfort and support. To the homeless, the disadvantaged, the vantaged and everyone in-between.

I’ve, when able, kept track of those on Facebook I love and admire. Happy that their lives are going well. Though, in all honesty, it fills me with an agony of what could have been, but seeing their smiles, laughter and glee brings it to me to.

I’ve done anything and everything I can think to do to get me through the next minute, hour, without harm or foul.

Of course through all this I seek help, but…”many support services are unable to cope with people who have mental health problems…as many services are quick to judge and slow to understand“…and like many it’s becoming…”easier to avoid these services rather than suffer the indignity of being treated like a ‘no hoper’“…For – like with the abuse – this perception feeds my conditions and increases the chance of breaks, relapses or episodes.

And it’s these episodes, like last week, which make things so hard for me to deal with. With no distractions, stabilisers or anti-stressors to help me control things, it’s just me, and more and more frequently it’s not enough.

Almost every night the emotions become harder to deal with, because the next day, when I wake up, it’s going to be, is gonna be, exactly the same.

no longer living; just existing; surviving.

1) In my times homeless I’ve been physically attacked seven time, mostly by people who have taken offense to either a) being homeless or b) my mental health
2) I have been mugged twice; once at knife point
3) I have received an un-ending barrage of verbal abuse from all sectors of society
4) I have been the victim of theft, including; passport, wallet, money, mobile phone, blankets and clothes
5) I’ve had support refused due to my non-admittance of imaginary substance abuse problems which don’t exist

All of this is magnified due to my mental health issues. With no on-going support either medically, socially or financially (family do what they can) I am constantly trying to survive each day whilst trying to secure a future fo myself – which is hard enough for someone with no mental health issues when homeless – let along trying to manage the ongoing complications my condition throws at me.

The mood swings, self harm, suicidal desires, panic and anxiety – all factors in the seeking help conundrum. Factor in my non-existent self-esteem, lack of self worth and other issues of trust and self-belief amplified by the abuse and relationship issues.

It becomes nigh on impossible.

“Homeless people with mental health problems had to deal with the anxiety of having nowhere safe or permanent to stay. Feelings of alienation and isolation were compounded by the fact that there was little predictability or permanence in their lives…people who enter the homeless population with mental health problems have the longest and most isolated experience of homelessness. On average, mean duration of 73 months,”

There’s a lovely inclusion of some key words there. On the 28 November 2007 I wrote a post detailing my triggers. Top of the list was loneliness – isolation. Both of these have catapulted into the stratosphere this year, and have been a major cause in the massive decline of my mental stability since I became homeless three months ago.

No matter how hard it is to be homeless. The sleeping rough, lack of food, clothes, showers, the whole shebang…this is what has caused me the most anger and frustration. What has set me back so immensely, that consciously/sub-consciously I always seem to bring about for myself.

How do I deal with it? How could anyone?

If you were to look at face to face contact – factoring out family, who are usually there – this is a list of social interaction I’ve had since February 4 2009. (Social interaction being on a social level, i.e. not doctors, medical staff, potential employers etc)…

…what would your list be like? How many times have you seen friends since February 4 2009. It’s actually quite a difficult list to write if you think about it, well, not if you’re me. This is mine:

  • June 6th – Three hours in Sydney….

That’s it.

Sure there was a day in June, eons ago now, where I attempted to make new friends I had met through a group online but as I spoke to no-one and bolted after half an hour it can hardly be counted as social interaction as no interaction actually took place.

Sure there have also been phone conversations, the last in mid August, primarily with Diane through February-May (when she needed me) and again in June with someone else.

Sure there were the ill-fated email exchanges with Steph, but they serve more to back-up the conscious/sub-conscious reality and cancer statement I have previously mentioned.

But in terms of face to face contact, that really is it.

Since February 4 2009 I have had one occasion where I was in someones company, that’s about three hours out of (approx) 6574 hours.

Could you deal with that?

Honestly?

That’s isolation – and trust me – it’s not as if I haven’t tried. Being homeless is hard enough with the sleeping rough, lack of food, clothes, showers, the whole shebang…let alone with spending every waking minute of your day alone, isolated, with no home comforts, compliments, touch, laughter.

Could you deal with that? Only three hours of social contact in the length of time it takes to create a life?

But like Kathy said, like I told my psychiatrist…I didn’t do enough to care about her, or anyone back then, and that I deserved to lose everything because of it…and that’s the problem, because the social anxiety, the loss, the self esteem, the abuse…it’s made me believe – truly and utterly believe – that I deserve this, and no amount of self-help books, platitudes or inspirational quotes are going to affect this.

It’s not easy changing your mind when you spend every day by yourself, haunted by ghosts, abuse and hallucinations…hence the triggering power of isolation, and the effect it can have on the mind of someone who has a mental illness – who is also homeless.

A vicious circle.

“People with mental health issues have to deal with the unpredictable nature of their health problems, making it difficult to comply with the rules that structure social practice…people cannot simply leave mental health problems behind them and this means setbacks are common and overcoming homelessness can take a long time.”

I don’t care so much about not have much food, sure I miss salads and potatoes and flapjacks and tofu and cake and apples and so so much more…I don’t care so much about sleeping rough, sure it hurts like hell and I haven’t had a decent sleep for months…but…

All that work battling social anxiety, panic, self esteem.
All that work stabilising self harm, depression and bipolar.
All that work trying to live a normal life.

…undone through homelessness and the effects it has had on my mental stability. Years of work. A collapse which has created so many fragments I can’t see how to piece them together again.

“And as Paul said these things to himself, a wave of sadness washed over…He was understanding now that no man could live without roots – roots in a patch of dirt, a red clay, field, a mountain slope, a rocky coast, a city street. In black loam, in mud or sand or rock or asphalt or carpet, every man had his roots down deep – in home,”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Which is why I’m having so much trouble now.
Why my brain doesn’t function as it once did.
Why everything, everything that happens in our lives is a culmination of every decision we’ve made, and every decision everyone we love has made.
Why this blog was the second worst decision of my life.

“In a country as rich as Australia, it is a disgrace that anyone should be homeless, let alone the tens of thousands of people who, on a nightly basis, are forced to endure the most demeaning and brutal circumstances,”

Note:
All quotes, unless otherwise stated, are from
‘On the Outside’
by Guy Johnson, Hellene Gronda, Sally Coutts


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BPD – WTF IGO IMM?

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! :)

I looked down at the piece of paper and read the words, I wasn’t really taking it all in as I read it on that first occasion. Just processing the information enough for it to register, the actual processing to the point of confusion would come a little while later.

The piece of paper had a list of nine symptoms listed, and these symptoms are as follows. Now, I would like you to see if any match yourself:

Symptom List 1:

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
  7. chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms

How many do you have?
They are by the way straight from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. They quote:

“A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.”

How many do you have?

Now, have a look at these, which are also from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association:

Symptom List 2:

  1. Characteristic symptoms: Two or more of the following, each present for much of the time during a one-month period (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
    • Delusions
    • Hallucinations
    • Disorganized speech, which is a manifestation of formal thought disorder
    • Grossly disorganized behavior (e.g. dressing inappropriately, crying frequently) or catatonic behavior
    • Negative symptoms—affective flattening (lack or decline in emotional response), alogia (lack or decline in speech), or avolition (lack or decline in motivation)
    If the delusions are judged to be bizarre, or hallucinations consist of hearing one voice participating in a running commentary of the patient’s actions or of hearing two or more voices conversing with each other, only that symptom is required above. The speech disorganization criterion is only met if it is severe enough to substantially impair communication.
  2. Social/occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.
  3. Duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least six months. This six-month period must include at least one month of symptoms (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).

Okay, I included that second set, which were listed on the paper for a reason I will get to in a moment. Let us return to the first set.

How many did you have?

One?

Two?

Three?

Four?

All?

Well, if I was being honest I have seven of them. Technically, if you have more than five, then you may be suffering from something called Borderline Personality Disorder.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the “borderline” of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women. There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases. Patients often need extensive mental health services, and account for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations.”
(from the National Institute of Mental Health)

Now, the reason I included a quote there instead of writing about BPD in my own inimitable fashion is because I haven’t got a clue what it is. In fact some GPs and MH workers I’ve spoken to have been unable to fully explain to me what BPD is. There are even some health professionals who don’t believe in the validity of the condition because of the wide variety of and frequent overlap of symptoms with other disorders.

Which is why I included the second set of symptoms…

…and of those three, I have demonstated over the years to have all of them, including the “at least six months” part.

Those symptoms are for schizophrenia.

So, following this, I have an official diganosis of bipolar type 1 – but according to the criterias above, I’m also suffering from borderline personality disorder as well as schizophrenia.

Which is where things get complicated!

What the fuck is wrong with me??

Borderline Personality Disorder – What The Frack Is Going On In My Mind?

After months of pondering, thinking, researching and trying to work it out – I have come to the conclusion I will never know.

You see diagnosing mental illness is not an exact science, there are many factors which must be taken into consideration and with the frequent and intense overlap of symptoms – especially with the personality disorders of BPD, bipolar and schizophrenia – of course I am going to exhibit symptoms of all three illnesses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I suffer from all three illnesses. Even the medication which is used to treat these illnesses are very similar, in some cases, exact.

It’s obvious I do have traits of all illnesses, but regardless of the label (which is all the diagnosis really is) I just suffer from a mental illness.

It doesn’t matter if it’s called borderline personality disorder, bipolar, schizphrenia, narcissitic personality disorder, Bob or Fanny Craddock’s Apple Pie Disorder (who wouldn’t want to have that!)

They’re just my condition, not who I am.

They just complicated things because I like knowing what it is I am fighting, it gives me a focus and something to hold onto. It took me long enough to come to terms with bipolar, let alone a possible new addition to the wealth of frackedupness in my mind. All this incident did was create further confusion and complication in an already confused and complicated mind.

It wasn’t what I needed.

Not after everything that had been happening.


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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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Ultradian

Apparantly it’s called ultradian, didn’t know that, guess you learn something new everyday :)

[Ultradian: distinct episodes of mood swings in a twenty four hour period]

This post wasn’t part of this weeks jigsaw puzzle of trying to piece together the events since I stopped writing the blog but as my mind is doing what it’s doing at the moment I thought it apt to get across what it’s like during my mood flucuations.

I dunno, maybe they’re just normal human emotions and reactions.
Who knows.
Who cares.

Wednesday: (times are approximate)

2am –
Self harming; despair; severe depression
4am –
Finally fall asleep
5am –
Wake up and start crying for no reason
7am –
High; conversation with dog owner about MCG, cricket and the pros/cons of smooth peanut butter. Sing myself into the city.
10am –
Whilst reading newspaper slip and throw my tea over the drop in; staff think I’m having some form of seizure; they seem disappointed to realise I just slipped; first staff member really cute; mind races with possibility
10:15am –
Self harming and crying in an alley; don’t know why
12pm –
High again; have 2 hour conversation with Meadhbh, Kathy and Diane in a park
3pm –
Tears; suicidal inclination whilst on bridge
5pm –
Up again!; singing songs on street corner; am offered 20cents to shut up; I don’t!
6pm –
Mood dropping
6:30pm –
Mood raising
7pm –
Massive sever anger due to article on The Age website (this could just be normal! Stupid naive bloody article!)
9pm –
Anger rages through soup van; yell at cyclist
10pm –
More tears; more self harm
11pm –
Severe depression swings high and I start doing circuits of the park until…

Thursday: (times are approximate)

5am –
…sit staring at ducks; numb physically and emotionally
10am –
Toast; stare at drop-in centre wall for an hour
11am –
Have scaldingly hot shower to relieve numbness and make me feel something
12pm –
Right up; try to convince hotel I’m a famous author who should immediately be given a suite on the house; they nearly believe me
2pm –
Another try; another hotel; this time I’m a singer who needs digs; break down in front of them
2:30pm –
Cut myself in alleyway; quite bad
3pm –
Sit in hospital waiting room for medical attention; getting impatient
3:15pm –
Leave hospital; kick a bin in anger; bum $5 off a stranger; buy bandage; bandage cut;
5pm –
Anger has risen; yell at cars who annoy me (and their drivers)
7pm –
Feeling hyper; have conversation with woman in library and decide to go into business with her, now I just need $75,000!
9pm –
Low mood strikes; massive paranoia; tears; suicidal thoughts return; try to sleep

But as I say, maybe that’s how everyone spends their days! I just know they’re bloody frightening, scary and draining physically, mentally and emotionally so I don’t like them.

Can’t stand them.

It’s no wonder I have no-one in my life. If I can’t live like this, how are others supposed to cope?


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Mental Health in Film & TV #1: "Takin’ Over the Asylum" (BBC Scotland)

The show, first screened in 1994, is generally considered to be one of the finest television shows dealing with mental illness. Virtually everyone who has seen it acknowledges it as brilliant, and yet, despite a cast of excellent (and well known) actors, an IMDB rating of 9.5/10 and winning several awards (a BAFTA for best serial and editing, RTS award for best writing, Mental Health in the media award and Scottish BAFTAs for best serial and best writing) it has yet to see either a VHS or DVD release.

This is generally considered to be because of it’s incredibly good soundtrack tying up the music rights – even it’s episode titles were music tracks (including “Hey Jude”, “Fly Like an Eagle” and “Let it Be”)


So, what’s it about?

Eddie McKenna, a double glazing salesman moonlighting as a radio DJ takes a job at a mental health institute to establish a hospital radio station. As the station gets up and running Eddie begins to forge close relationships with several of the patients, including; Campbell (a manic depressive), Francine (a self harmer), Fergus (a schizophrenic) and Rosaline (suffering from OCD). Campbell too dreams of being a DJ, and through his inspired antics, the pair become closer to their aim.

Outside life however interferes, his double glazing boss bans Eddie from working at the radio station and his eccentric grandmother returns to her home country leaving him alone and penniless. He is also drawn to the troubled Francine. These problems see him returning to alcohol to ease his pain.

As the roles reverse, Campbell begins to regain his life and courts success with his dreams whilst Eddie drifts into decline and has to face up to dealing with his own illness, alcoholism.

So, who’s it by?

The show was written by Donna Franceschild, produced by Chris Parr and directed by David Blair.

So, who’s in it?

Ken Stott as Eddie McKenna
You may know him from: Rebus, Shallow Grave, King Arthur, Messiah, Casanova
David Tennant as Campbell
You may know him from: Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Blackpool, Casanova, Bright Young Things
Angus MacFadyen as Fergus
You may know him from: Braveheart, The Cradle Will Rock, Titus, Saw III, Alias (TV)
Ruth McCabe as Rosaline
Katy Murphy as Francine

So, why is it so good?

This show, more than any other TV production or movie I have seen dealing with mental health, portrays those suffering from mental illness as normal people with illnesses – that they can overcome. They are not painted as psychopaths, insane gibbering idiots, worthless people who should be locked away…they are normal people, like you are, like I am (if you can get past the labels).

The show deals with issues such as self-harm, manic depression, alcoholism, OCD and in one incredibly powerful episode suicide, with heartfelt emotion which neither glorifies nor belittles the conditions.

They are seen merely as illnesses and do not define the personality of the sufferers.

So, when will it be released on DVD (if ever)?

Who knows? As I mentioned earlier one of the reasons floated around for it’s lack of release was regarding the rights to the music which featured heavily in every episode. Some research on the ‘net indicates that a lot of these rights issues have been resolved so we can only hope that one day the BBC will see fit to release this series so it can garner a much wider, much deserved audience. This show deserves to be seen by everyone, not just those interested in mental health.

There is an online petition you can sign campaigning the release of this show on DVD, so you can SIGN THE PETITION TO RELEASE TAKIN’ OVER THE ASYLUM ON DVD if you’d like to.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a clip from the show, one of my favourite scenes and one which now means a lot to me (since being diagnosed bipolar/manic depressive). Watch, enjoy, and hopefully we will all one day get the chance to see this fantastic show in it’s entirety.


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Smoking and Mental Illness

A report from SANE Australia claims that 40% of smokers have a mental illness.

I can believe this completely – we have to do something to help control the stress and frustration. In fact a lot of people with mental illness would very much like to quit, they’re (like me) just not able to do so effectively because they don’t have the support in place to quit whilst feeling so unwell. Giving up smoking is hard enough at the best of times, but when you’re unwell, it’s exponentially harder.

Some interesting facts from the report:

• People with a mental illness make up 38.8% of all adult smokers
• Overall there are 1.27 million Australians with a mental illness who smoke
• The total cost of smoking by people with a mental illness is $33 billion a year
• People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are more than three times more likely to smoke than otherAustralians
• People with a mental illness tend to smoke at least 16% more heavily than others
• People with a mental illness pay about $2.8 billion every year in tobacco tax
• People with a mental illness consume at least 42% of all cigarettes sold in Australia.

Read the full media release…