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.
Pet Wombat
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?


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,”

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

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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.”

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.”


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.


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.







“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.


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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Regrets. Can they ever be forgiven?


We all have them, every single one of us stupid apes currently roaming this planet have regrets. You might meet people who say they don’t, who claim to have never made a single mistake in their lives and regret none of the choices or actions they have made, but…

…they’re lying.

Seriously, they are. If you can categorically say, no matter how old you are, that you don’t have a single regret: you are a liar!

So think about it for a second, all those milliseconds in your life when you had to make a choice on the spot – can you seriously tell me you ALWAYS made the right choice? There are so many pedantic little things in my life that I regret that some are actually quite funny!

I regret…
…dropping and breaking my mobile phone.
…eating a rather large quantity of garlic once which made me sick.
…not seizing the opportunity to karaoke Hit me baby…one more time with the undisputed queen of karaoke!

And then there are the bigger regrets:

I regret…
…not realising Rachel was having problems and helping her.
…the first time I started self harming as it kicked off the addiction.
…making a decision whilst depressed. I should have known not to make an important decision in that state
…not taking a trip to a Scottish Island in June 2002.

What defines us is our ability to realise our regrets, admit to having made them, and not repeating those mistakes in the future. I have always tried and attempted to do this, some times I have been successful, others not so. But again, this is one of the defining characteristics of humanity – we frack up, sometimes more than once, and we all do it.

What defines us is out ability to forgive ourselves for our regrets and overcome them. Forgiveness is an act of contrition, you don’t give it because someone deserves it you give it because they need it. This is true for ourselves; we must be able to forgive our own mistakes.

It’s easier said than done. A regret can be a powerful thing, the longer you go without forgiving yourself, the more your soul will be destroyed. A regret can interfere with your motivation, your future, your present happiness…regrets are perhaps the powerful of annoying critters on the planet!

So let’s have a look at some of the things you can do to help tame those regrets and forgive your inner self in the way that you so rightly deserve.

Steps you can take to overcome regret are:

  1. Determine what the regret actually is. Before you can overcome a regret you have to actually know exactly what it is.

Hold on! Let’s use me as an example! We’ll work through the steps with me as a Guinea Pig (and I reckon I’d make a pretty cute Guinea Pig!)

I have stated at various points in this blog that I have three absolutely why the frack did I do/not do that? regrets…and here they (drumroll please) are:

i) Whilst at school I didn’t say one sentence to once person. (I did talk about this one in my post on Social Anxiety Disorder, as it was one of the catalysts of me developing this condition)
ii) On one occasion 90% of me disbelieved something someone told me, the other 10% was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I listened to the 10% – something which I have always regretted.
iii) Is a little more complicated, but is basically guilt/regret over allowing the emotional abuse I was the victim of to take place.

So now you have identified your regrets, what next?

  1. Don’t blame others. Don’t blame yourself. Accept what has happened. Blame will only cause anger, anger will fester and this will create even more complications for all concerned.
  2. Allow yourself to grieve. Regrets can create all sorts of emotions of which grief is only one, and like with all feelings of grief you must allow yourself to feel this emotion. Denying it will be denying yourself an important emotion and make the path to forgiveness harder.
  3. Instead of thinking about what you have lost or the pain you caused from the regret, think about what you have learned or gained from this experience. Turn it into a positive; life’s lessons come in all shapes, forms, sizes and guises. Sadness, loss, despair, love, mania, ecstatic moments of bliss all contain important life lessons.
  4. If your regret involves having hurt other people, seek forgiveness. Apologise for what you have done and explain your actions. This forgiveness may not be awarded easily, so you will need to make amends with this person in order to show them you are sorry for what has happened. If the regret involves yourself, you must find a way to make amends internally in order to achieve the forgiveness you need.

And some tips which may help you accomplish these steps:

  • Write about your regrets. Scraps of paper, envelopes, letters you’ll never send, journals. Writing about your regrets can help you identify exactly what they are and what they have caused to happen in your/other people’s lives.
  • Use visualisation techniques to picture yourself acting differently in the future.
  • Talk to trusted friends who won’t judge you.
  • Seek out help through counsellors, psychologists, support groups. Regret, as mentioned above, can become guilt which may need professional help to overcome.
  • Perspective people! Everything – and I mean everything in life – is forgivable! Nothing is ever so bad that it cannot be forgiven – even if it may seem not to be.
  • And as I stated above – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We have all made mistakes in life so think about all the things other people have done wrong and realise what you’ve done, is nothing compared to the skeletons and actions some people hide in their underwear drawers!

So with my regrets in mind:

Regret i
1. The only person I have to blame is myself. This blame became anger which I directed at myself, which initiated the self-harm and social anxiety which later led to severe depression. So yeah, never hold on to blame or anger!
2) I did grieve for this regret after I stopped being angry with myself for it. With everything that was going on in my life, this took many years, and after the grief subsided I felt better able to deal with how not to allow it to happen in the future…
3) …so learned from this experience and realised that if the situation ever arose again I would do everything in my power to not take the same path (not easy for someone with social anxiety disorder)…
4) …thus when the situation arose again on the Isle of Mull with a woman I desperately wanted to get to know better I asked her out. Granted she stood me up, but hey, that be life! I made amends with myself by not allowing the same regret to resurface again.

Regret ii
1) …and once again the only person I have to blame is myself! And once again the blame became anger which I directed at myself (but not in a self harm way) and I am currently trying to work through this anger now. I’ve written about it a lot, including an unsent letter I would love to send but can’t.
2) I am in the grieving process at the moment for this regret, it’s mixed with self anger, but the grieving process is underway and has been for some time.
3) I’ve learned from this regret…I know to follow my gut instinct with what people are telling me especially in regards to the issue that this instinct was about. I have talked about it on this blog on several occasions and am using my regret in this instance to try and help other people.
4) As the person in question is no longer part of my life I cannot seek forgiveness from them, and I am finding it hard to forgive myself for this regret because of what could have happened as a result of acting differently. I’m working on it and will keep you posted :)

Regret iii
Is the complicated one! The problem with abuse is that the victim is often “blamed” by the abuser for what is actually happening as they do not want to take responsibility for the actions. I am aware of the mistakes I made in the relationship so have allowed myself to feel responsible for the abuse which I was given as if it were somehow “deserved”. This is a common problem for survivors of abuse in any form, and thus where the professional help can come in. Even though I know I didn’t deserve the level of treatment I was subjected to and I am not to blame for the abuse I suffered because I feel on some level it was deserved punishment, I do not know how to combat this particular regret in my life. I am trying to by educating others on what emotional abuse is in the hope it will prevent other people from being in the situation I am currently in.

Regrets are tricky things.
They eat away inside you and it is important not to dwell on them for years on end as this could cause irreparable damage and could lead to: severe depression, self harm or suicidal thoughts. Which if you already suffer from any/all of these is a pretty nasty situation to find yourself in, let me tell you!

If you know garlic is gonna make you sick – don’t eat it!
If you have the chance to go to a Scottish island – seize it!
If you get the chance to duet a Britney number – go shake your sexy butt!

Always learn from regrets and don’t allow yourself to repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again! Learn from them, live from them, grow from them…and forgive other people’s mistakes and regrets, else how can you expect them to forgive you for yours?

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Let’s talk about my nervous breakdown…

I’ve skirted, danced, bogled and boogeyed around it and kinda explained why it happened but never really gone into much “depth” as to – what happened, how it happened, how it felt – so I’m bored, have a few hours, am tired of talking to Meadhbh so am gonna blabber here for a while.

What is a “nervous breakdown”?
You could also call it an emotional breakdown or perhaps a mental breakdown, but in essence a “breakdown” has occurred when someone becomes unable to deal with normal day-to-day life.

It can be ignited following a particular trauma, a series of events, or can even happen randomly and out of the blue with no precipitating identifiable cause.

“Nervous breakdown” isn’t even a medical term: it’s a colloquial phrase designed to try and hide what is actually happening, which is the sudden acute attack of a mental illness, because a breakdown is far more easily accepted than bipolar, depression or anxiety; it is stigma at work!

Why I had a breakdown…
A breakdown generally occurs when your circuits become overloaded. Your brain, heart, soul, emotions – whatever – are under so much stress that they short circuit, and then shut off, and then you can’t find a nice clean unbroken fuse to mend them.

As mentioned previously, I was diagnosed with CLL and then dumped by my girlfriend by text message which set in motion a chain of events which caused me to lose my college course, my income, my best friend and all of this happening whilst I was suffering from glandular fever – a pretty serious physical illness which could have killed me – and all in the period of ten days.

I think any one or two of those things could have the power to trigger a breakdown, but to have so many stressful emotional events hitting you when you are already physically, mentally and emotionally devastated from glandular fever, the fact I had a breakdown doesn’t surprise me.

What happened?
The day I realised something was seriously wrong was the Tuesday I spent walking around the sleepy hamlet of Port Fairy talking to myself at an audibly obvious level for six continuous hours before sitting on a beach and burning myself with a flaming stick. Now I had wanted to phone someone at this point, I knew something was brewing and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to stop myself…but no working public phone box anywhere close and…dammit…mobile phone battery was dead!

So I burnt myself twice, used the ocean to cool the burns, and then stood there for an hour or so staring at the black expanse of the horizon before retreating to where I was staying whilst I was in Port Fairy.

I spent the next day glued to the bed, unable to move, writing obscure journal entries which skipped, danced and evaded the actual events which had happened the night before. I thought that by not writing about them I would be able to forget them. I watched an entire season of 24 that day and wished to high fracking heaven my mobile phone charger had been packed because at this point I really desperately needed to speak to someone. Oh well.

On the Thursday I crawled to the Doctor, on the Friday I saw a psychologist, on the Saturday I sat on a beach again, on the Sunday I spent another 7 hours walking around talking to myself, on the Monday I returned to Melbourne.

How did it feel to have a breakdown?
I literally felt nothing. I literally could do nothing. There was all this stuff I needed to do, all this stuff I wanted to do, but I just – couldn’t – I literally could not do any of it. My brain was not functioning on any level, all I could do for a few days was lie there watching other seasons of 24 (as this had helped the week before) trying not to harm myself.

Now that I had my charger back I couldn’t even bring myself to phone anyone because I didn’t have any words to say. I was doing that wee dial the number, delete the number, toss the phone across the room dance.

On the Wednesday I woke up having a panic attack, spent the day in a constant state of anxiety, panic, despair and fear. I wrote in my journal on and off, and for the first time ever mentioned my self harm in it’s pages (which you can read here). Then something happened that night which – well – let’s just say really really really really didn’t fracking help!!! I have never understood why that person thought it was a good idea, never will, but what they did that night was fucked up to the extreme!

On the Thursday I wanted to kill myself. I sat on the floor of my room staring at a knife and wondering what it would feel like. Tears were streaming down my face and I know I made two phone calls, but I can’t remember which order they came in. I either phoned a friend and then the suicide helpline, or I phoned the suicide helpline and then phoned a friend. Either way I spent the vast majority of that day in a constant state of fear of what I may do to myself.

After that week the specific days become blurry, everything is just a mess in my mind. I know I fought my self harm tendencies, I know Meadhbh came back, I know I did self harm, I know I was suicidal, I know I saw friends, I know I tried to rebuild my life, I know I saw doctors, I know I saw the occasional psychologist, I know I tried to do anything and everything that I could to fight what was happening to me and get my life back to something I was able to enjoy.

I wasn’t able to work. That’s a fact. Simple and pure. My health was fucked up to the point of unbearable, I couldn’t concentrate on a job advertisement let alone work an 8 hour shift, but I job hunted nonetheless.

As all this was happening I was having to sell all of my possessions in order to survive (rent, food, occasional social outings or cinema trips to make myself feel normal, which I would have to plan in advance in order to have the strength to do it without a panic attack) and try not to tell any of my friends what was really happening because, well, you have to pretend and not ever talk about your problems or negative incidents remember! Internalise, never externalise, because it was attempting to externalise that contributed to the problem in the first place!

My decision making capacity was shot to fuck, my conversational ability had gone; anxiety, depression, suicidal inclinations and self harm reigned supreme. The fact I had overcome all of this only a few months before contributed to the continuation of my depressive episode – all of those years of work for nothing!

My conversations with Meadhbh were driving my ever more insane, my ex was driving me nuts with her consistent emotional/psychological abuse, which Meadhbh was loving because it backed up everything she was telling me. Meadhbh would often say something which my ex would then reiterate word for word a few weeks later; “You have to help people,”, “You’re selfish,”, “You should kill yourself,”, “You never care about anyone!” oh how Meadhbh loved those moments!

Physically I was a wreck; fighting glandular fever was made almost impossible and my recovery time was lengthed by months. I had chronic pain in my back, splitting migraines, I wasn’t able to sleep and never felt hungry. I had to go to hospital several times for a recurring polynoidal sinus, though unrelated to the breakdown, has been recurring ever since due to the stress I have been under and have been waiting for an operation to have it removed. The meds I was on threw all sorts of side effects in my direction, which further messed with my body (and mind) and viruses seemed to claim their hold on my body on a regular basis.

I don’t think anyone can truly understand what having a breakdown feels like unless they have experienced one. Like depression “breakdown” is an overused word and does not in any way fully describe the pain and torment your mind is constantly under. You literally cannot function on a normal day-to-day level; your body is besieged with physical pain and your mind is engulfed with the sort of emotional pain I would never wish on anyone.

Overcoming a breakdown…
Like with all forms of mental illness there is only so much help you can garner from other people. You can see doctors and psychologists and MH professionals but you still have to do a hell of a lot of work yourself. I saw my GP regularly and fought for months for professional mental health care, which even after two suicide attempts only really came a few weeks ago.

So how can you help yourself fight an emotional breakdown? These are some of the things I tried:

  1. Be kind to yourself!
    You are going to have bad days and you are going to have good days. Don’t berate yourself for the bad days and think of yourself as a failure as this will only feed the breakdown demons.
  2. Find ways to reduce your stress level…
    Eat healthily; brown rice, fruit, vegetables, natural foods…
    – Find ways for regular relaxation (I used to walk, play in parks in the night-time, sit under trees, watch movies, write [we’ll get to that in a minute])
    – Have baths!
    – Try to socialise with friends and do things you enjoy (trivia nights, movies, coffee and tea, pizza lunches)
    – Do regular relaxation exercises.
    – Keep a daily ‘things to do list’ to refer to.
  3. Be physical
    Regular exercise and activity helps relieve stress and tension and keeps your body fit and active, in can be hard to do this after having a breakdown or going through a depressive phase, but it is important. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates…if you do something you enjoy it will make things easier.
  4. Research and learn about what is happening to you.
    Understanding your problems/illness better may make it easier to cope.
  5. Find your own coping strategy
    Everyone is different, what works for one person will not work for another. So find your own ways to deal with what you are feeling and your own techniques to get you through your bad days.
    – Writing is something I did, the vast majority of my novel “The Ghosts that Haunt Us” was written during this period. However, in order for me to achieve the state of mind I needed to be in, in order to write, I had to self-harm (sometimes severely) in order to get there.
    – Other people find art, music, drawing or poetry effective.
    – To get through the bad periods I would play video games. I’m a Zelda aficionado so would replay my Gameboy Zelda games to occupy my mind.
    – Meditation and yoga can help.
    – Although I was unable to write a journal (still can’t to this day, won’t go into why), I did keep a mood diary to help identify and chart what I was feeling.
    There are lots of ways you can find to cope with what is happening. I would be interested in hearing your own coping strategies as they may help other people.

Relationships and Friendships following a breakdown…
One of the hardest things I had to deal with was being told repeatedly that who I thought were my friends were not really my friends (an example of being isolated by my abuser) and wouldn’t be there for me. Thus I was unable to talk to them about what I was going through as I was afraid of pushing them away – which was inevitably going to happen anyway – so had to fight my breakdown alone. They knew I had had a breakdown, and self harmed to some extent, but were not aware of the full extent of what I was dealing with.

After a breakdown your self confidence and self worth will be virtually non-existent, thus your ability to retain friendships and relationships will be put under further strain. As you are not thinking clearly your actions may cause harm to those people you care about, even if it is inadvertent, so you may need to apologise for anything which happened during the breakdown and work on rebuilding those friendships.

Although you will need to work out whether the problem was caused by you, or by them, if it was their problem they will need to find a way to deal with it as you should not have to accept responsibility.

I can’t sit here and talk about friendship really, I don’t have any, and as I am still fighting my breakdown cannot give profound advice on healing rifts and repairing damage.

I will say however that, like everyone, a show of kindness and love can help someone who has suffered from a breakdown. We all want to feel loved, we all need kindness, to help us get by.

Can you overcome a nervous breakdown?
The breakdown I experienced earlier this year was singularly the most painful, distressing, chaotic and fear inducing period of my life. I literally just could think straight in any way, my brain shut down and wasn’t functioning on any level. It was a constant daily fight to get through each conversation, each hour, each day.

The road to recovery following a nervous breakdown is hard work, it could take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years to fully recover. It can be done however, it’s not going to be easy, pretending it isn’t there won’t help but just cause longer term problems, it’s going to be painful, destructive and the hardest fight of your life.

But it can be done, never lose hope of that.


Learning to Love Yourself: Ideas for Self Love

~ 1 ~

Strip naked (yep, get it ALL off!)
Go stand in front of a full length mirror.
Now, instead of focusing on all those moles, hair patches and love handles…
…concentrate on all the drop dead gorgeous things about yourself.
Yep, it’s bloody hard, but you can do it!
Try three things to start with.
Say them out loud to yourself – and mean it! Things like:
“Addy – my god – you have the cutest smile you’ve ever seen!”
“Look at those nipples, they’re damned awesome, how could anyone not like those?”
“And good god, look at that adorably spankable ass? Absolutely mind blowing,”
See, you’re starting to see yourself differently already…
…now do this everyday, every-single-day!
Adding one more thing each time.
Within a few weeks there’ll be nothing left you don’t love.


~ 2 ~

Go out and buy five A4 pieces of paper in your favourite colour.
Grab yourself some coloured pens and some blu-tac as well.
Now go home…
…make yourself your favourite beverage…
…stock up on a healthy snack…
…light some candles…
… and sit at your desk.
That’s the easy part…
…now comes the hard part!
You are going to fill one side of 4 of the pages of A4 with…
…things that you love about yourself.
Begin each sentence with “I love…” and go from there.
Absolutely anything! Physical. Mental. Metaphysical. Anything!
It’s a hell of a lot easier than it sounds – my list ended up looking like this: “Addy’s ‘I Love…’ list“…
…and it’s still growing!
Once done, stick them somewhere on your wall so you can see them.
(Stick the blank page beside them so you can add to it whenever you think of it)


~ 3 ~

Sick of all those couples pashing, snogging and fondling in the street?
Beat them at their own game.
Go on a date with the person you love – YOU!
Cook your favourite meal (or order take-away), light some candles, throw on your favourite movie.
It sounds silly…
…but enjoy it…this is you time…anyway…
…the fun parts still to come!
What do all those sickening couples do at the end of their dates?
So get nekkid!
And get that butt to the bedroom for some naughty fun and games!
It’s purrfectly natural.
So don’t go feeling all guilty about it.
Remember his is ‘you’ time – so love yourself in every way that you want to.
Your mind and body will adore you for it!


~ 4 ~

It’s dead easy to beat yourself up about being wrong.
We’ve all been there.
Sitting there alone, bemoaning to ourselves about all our mistakes…
…whilst spanking our inner moppet for all those silly things we’ve cocked up.
It’ll take time, but start catching yourself doing things right.
Instead of smacking yourself for messing up…
…hug yourself for doing something awesome.
You didn’t burn the cheese sandwich this time? HHHUUUUGGGGGG :)
Yay! You’ve remembered to take the garbage out! HHUUUGGGG:)
Bugger…forgot to sign the report…but hey, it was a damn well written report. HUUGGG :)
Get the idea?


~ 5 ~

If S.A.D is making you feel crappy what can you do?
(for those not in the know – S.A.D is Social Anxiety Disorder)
Talking is so hard isn’t it?
I know.
Been there.
Done that.
Always coming up with that awesome story or wit-tastic one liner about three days too late. Well, there are things you can do…
Start small!
Don’t aim for that big conversation first time out. Build up to it and you’ll be feeling so much more positive about yourself in no time. So to prepare yourself for that potential panic attack at the big night out with your mates on Friday, start earlier in the week.
a) On Monday, ask a stranger for the time.
b) On Tuesday, ask a shop-keeper about the weather. It’s a cheesy way to start but a small conversation will follow.
c) On Wednesday, do both Monday & Tuesday’s things for practice
d) On Thursday we need to up the anti – try start a conversation with a complete stranger. Make it about something you like so as not to throw yourself into the deep end.
e) On Friday, have your absolute favourite food for lunch. You want to feel really positive for that big night out – no chickening out now with excuses about being sck just ’cause you don’t want a panic attack in front of everyone.
And then by the time you hit the pub with your mates you’ve got several spontanious conversations with complete strangers under your belt.
So starting a conversation with people who actually know you should be much easier,
Take your time until you’re comfortable,
Then start a conversation with the person you are most comfortable with.
This will ripple on to bring someone else in.
And another.
Soon, everyone there will be chatting because of you.
How awesome is that!
No panic attack.
So then all you need to do is try and have a fantabulous evening…because next week, you’re gonna do it all over agian – upping the anti each time. By the end of the year you’ll be feeling so much better about yourself.


More ideas will be posted soon…so keep loving yourself until then…you are awesome :-)