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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Incidentally, what is happiness?

what is happiness

Panic Attacks…

On Tuesday afternoon, at approximately 4 ‘o’ clock, I dropped my basket of meagre foodstuffs and collapsed to the floor of a Coles supermarket. It was all I could do to stop the tears from cascading as I struggled to regain enough composure to stagger from the store to the nearest public toilet. Once safely entombed, I dropped to my knees, vomited the contents of my stomach into the toilet and burst into tears. Suffice to say, the sight of a grown man with a sick-streaked beard, blubbering like a baby, was not a pretty sight!

I have no idea how long I sat on those cold stone tiles, nor how many people I was inconveniencing with my far-too-public-for-my-liking panic attack. I couldn’t even tell you what was racing through my mind during those long, lonely minutes, though I would make an educated guess, based on previous attacks, it was am I dying, please God let me be dying liberally mixed with you’re useless, worthless, pathetic, what the frack is wrong with you man self-critical thoughts and a seasoning of both intense physical pain and intolerable emotional anguish.

That’s the problem with panic attacks; they are completely irrational reactions, but when they’re happening, when you’re trapped by their power, all thoughts of rationality and reason are replaced with the all-consuming belief you are literally in the process of dying. The speed in which your heart races, the tightness of your chest, the uncontrollable urge to vomit, the way the world spins out of control and you slip in and out of consciousness with your life’s regrets, pain and failings playing back before your eyes.

Eventually, somehow, I was able to get it together. I picked myself up, threw some water on my face and made my way home as quickly as possible. The moment I ensured all doors and windows were locked and I was completely safe from the evil of the world outside, I curled under my doona and allowed the memories of being safely ensconced within my mother’s womb to sooth my bleeding soul.

This singular event – which in hindsight lasted no longer then twenty-five minutes – has become the defining moment of my entire week.

…capsaicin…

On Wednesday, I refused to crawl out from the safety of my doona until my urge to urinate overwhelmed all else. For the first time, I missed my 8-Ball pool group, choosing instead to move my computer under the table where I built a fortress of books to hide and protect me. I crouched in my darkened solitude for the majority of the day typing a post about biopsychosocial models in the hope it would distract me before finally crawling out into the darkness to procure myself some capsaicin cream.

For those of you who are unaware of capsaicin cream, it is an ointment used to relieve the pain of arthritis and shingles. Capsaicin, as with several other capsaicinoids, is derived from chilli peppers and used, amongst other things, in the production of capsicum-spray; that delightful riot-controlling weapon of choice. As such, when it comes in contact with the skin, it can be quite painful due to the amount of heat it produces.

Although I am not (in any way) advocating its use, after discovering this information many years ago, I began occasionally using it when the urge to self-harm overwhelmed. As I am currently trying to reduce my invasive self-harm, after such a terrifying panic attack, I needed the distraction that only capsaicin cream could provide. Thus, upon returning home, I crawled back under my doona and applied it to the body part of my choice, before closing my eyes to allow its fire to burn the pain from my soul.

Regardless of your opinion of this action, without this cream I would still be lost to the nightmare of that panic attack. Without nurture, without comfort, without support, I have long had to resort to more ‘creative’ ways to cope with the ever-increasing and painful setbacks in my mental health. The fire burned to such a degree that by the time Thursday rolled around, I was able to leave my doona, demolish my fort and approach the day’s activities with far more focus and determination.

…and epiphanies.

One such activity was an appointment with my support worker. Expecting to be interrogated about the post I had written on Monday, I was initially reluctant about attending, but decided sharing this particular trigger – especially after the reaction it had provoked on Tuesday – was probably the best course of action.

However, although I shared that it had been a bit of rough week, I fell back on the usual but everything is okay appeasing attitude that I was forced to perfect throughout my abusive relationship. I said nothing of the horrifying nature of my attack nor my resorting to capsaicin in the absence of hugs or someone to talk to. Even though I had spent hours working out how I was going to explain the nature of my trigger, the insecurity I have over how this will come across prevented me from sharing it.

Instead, we continued with the Maastricht Interview before discussing my inability to exist in anything other than a heightened state of anxiety and fear.

“When was the last time you were functioning around a 1 or 2 on the anxiety scale?” They asked, following my admittance that my base-line was usually an 8 or 9.

“Probably early April 2008,” I replied, thinking about, but not sharing the details of my day in Glasgow with Samantha.

“Do you remember what it’s like to feel happy, contented and relaxed?”

“No,” I replied without hesitation. “I really don’t,”

Later that night, as I worked through my Mi Recovery and Victim to Victor workbooks, I realised that exchange had perfectly summed up my primary issue:

It doesn’t really matter how much effort I put into controlling triggers, reducing anxiety, stabilising my mood, fighting self-harm urges or combatting the debilitating panic attacks that can strike at any time or place. How can I expect to accomplish anything – to live – when I can’t even remember what happiness or relaxation feels like?

The problem is, even though I’ve had this epiphany, I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

Incidentally, what is happiness?

Since 2007 my life has revolved completely around survival; every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year has been about getting me through the next second, minute, hour, week, month or year. It has been about discovering creative new ways to control my pain and diffusing the anguish of whatever aspect of my mental health has decided to rear its ugly head. It has been about appeasing all those around me – be they friends, family, support workers or strangers – into believing that I am fine, where in reality I am vomiting in public toilets and isolating myself from the terrors of the only world that could bring me any solace.

How does one allow themselves to relax when they’ve been conditioned to believe they must work continuously in fear of being seen as ‘lazy’?

How does one share their problems and pain with the world when they’ve been conditioned to believe that no-one cares and they must fight everything alone in order to prove their worth as a human being?

How does one find happiness when they have no real memory of what this mythical state-of-mind feels like?

If this week has proved anything it’s that regardless of how far I thought I’d come…I still have an awful long way to go!

~◊~

Six things I’ve learned this week:

  • Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you feel; for the trap of “always putting on a ‘brave face’ when in reality you’re dying inside” is almost impossible to escape from!
  • If you are going to attack a trigger head-on; make damn sure you have a network of support in place who know what you’re doing, for if you don’t, chaos will ensue!
  • Women have a much, much, much, better selection of clothing (especially underwear!) than men do. In fact, I’m so jealous I’m considering becoming a cross-dresser! :p
  • It is much easier making a fort out of doonas or blankets than it is books. Especially if you decide to read a book you’ve used as a foundation stone.
  • Do at least one thing every day that makes you happy. For the longer you go without happiness, the harder it will be to find again.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t let anyone make you think otherwise!

Six things I want to do next week:

  • To give myself permission to do something I enjoy and enjoy it! (i.e. to not allow my negative self-talk and fear of being perceived as lazy prevent me from doing it!)
  • Share my trigger with my support worker, regardless of my insecurity over how insane, pathetic and weird this will make me look.
  • Stop scaring people away from my blog with talk about voices, pain and badly written blog posts. It’s starting to look like a ghost town around here! :/
  • Complete my Mi Recovery homework assignments; what are my beliefs about mental illness and how did I learn those beliefs?
  • Catch-up on my favourite blogs as I’ve been incredibly slack of late, sorry! :)
  • Brainstorm ideas of what I could do to bring some happiness, joy and relaxation back into my life.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! And remember…there is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be happy! :)

 


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I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?

 This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on 15 March 2013 (beware those Ides! :p) between 20:38 – 21:09. Apologies for any grammatical/spelling errors that occur, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

exhaustion

The title of this post comes from a quote by the late (great) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The full quote is:

I am somewhat exhausted;
I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?”

And I’ve bolded the first four words because it amply describes exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. Ever since forcing myself out of the nightmare that was DecJanFeb I have been pushing myself harder and harder in so many directions I’ve forgotten which way is south.

Canny readers of my blog will have noticed that my postings have become a daily assortment of questionnaires, memes and random photographs not of my taking. Even cannier readers of my blog may also have worked out that the vast majority of these posts are written well in advance of publication.

Over the last few weeks I’ve sat down on a Friday evening, whipped out my daily posts for the week and scheduled them for publication. Is this cheating? Not really. They are still products of the warped, kinky and occasionally brilliant mind of me. They are just not written when people may think they were written. Instead, during these moments, I am usually spread-eagled on the floor dribbling onto my carpet wishing my traumatized mind would allow me a few hours of peace for a good night’s sleep.

The simple fact is, for the last several weeks I have barely stopped for breath.

If it’s not social groups where I whip ass at scrabble (285 points this week from playing five words), it’s lengthy conversations with my support worker about my not-so-merry-band of voices.

If it’s not hearing voices support groups where I sit in the corner terrified of making a sound, it’s lengthy conversations with my not-so-merry-band of voices about my support worker.

Throw in the work books I’m working through (Hearing Voices, Mindfulness, Mind Over Matter and Self-Harm), the munches I’m attending (two in the last month) and the ongoing duel with my social anxiety, there is no time left for me or that most beautiful of states, relaxation.

Emails are stacking up unanswered because after logging onto the computer I fall sleepily off the chair, DVDs I want to watch are stacking up because I can’t find a spare ninety minutes to watch a movie and my health issues are stacking up because there’s only so much the mind and body can take without respite.

Hell, I don’t even have the energy to click the mouse button to display images of excellent bottoms on my monitor! And when you’re too out-of-it to use the internet for what is was designed for, you know you have a problem with exhaustion! :p

In fact, I’m so tired that I’ve contemplated turning to coffee because it seems to work for everyone else. To hell with the fact it would probably make me violently vomit, if it allows me to be awake long enough in the evening to do something productive, it’s a price I think I’m willing to pay!

But it’s not really just the sheer emotional and physical exhaustion that’s getting me all down and distracted. I’m proud of the efforts I’m making to put myself out there and tackle head-on some of the serious problems I need to hurdle in order to continue my journey along the road to recovery.

It’s that it doesn’t feel like I’m actually getting anyway.

I don’t feel like my anxiety has improved, in fact, because of the exhaustion, it’s getting worse. My voices are as confusing, demanding and abusive as ever; Meadhbh aside, but we’ll get to her odd behavior in another post! My mood swings are still uncontrolled and volatile. Whilst my urges to turn to self-medicating behavior (alcohol, cigarettes and self-harm) are getting harder and harder to withhold; I am, after all, using a lovely little Sauvignon Blanc (such beautiful hints of lemon and passionfruit) to fuel the writing of this stream of consciousness. :/

And then there are the things that I’ve had to turn down, things that would actually make me feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Tonight I was invited to a party in Melbourne, a party where there was a 99.9% chance I would have crossed item one (item one…ONE…FFS!!!) off my bucket list! A party I had to turn down from attending because I couldn’t afford the $15 return train fare to Melbourne.

In two weeks, the organisation I use for my social groups are going on a two night camp, a camp that I was originally hoping to attend but now believe I will have to turn down because I have been receiving letters threatening to cut my electricity and gas off due to unpaid bills.

Throw in the invitation to coffee I had to turn down last week due to my anxiety, the invitation to lunch I turned down today because of my exhaustion and the library led Scrabble tournament (that there’s a good chance I would have won) I had to miss yesterday because of anxiety and exhaustion, and I’m left wondering why I even bother.

Sometimes I just want to scream.

Loudly!

There are so many reasons I’m writing this blog post and none of them are for advice and/or sympathy. Not that I would expect any anyway…I’m tired – exceedingly, dribbleingly, so – but tired nonetheless. A perfectly normal, perfectly understandable human emotion that anyone undertaking the sheer volume of work I’m currently doing would be feeling.

I think I just need to prove to myself I still have an ‘emotional’ blog post in me. One that I write and post without scheduling. One that reflects who I am and what I’m feeling. One that will hopefully get me writing more thoughtful, analytical, unique posts again.

So, for the first time in months, if you’ll permit me, I’ll end this post with a list of six things I’d like to achieve this week. Perhaps this way, I will find a way to better manage my time, gift myself some ‘self-love’ and be able to stop this downward spiral into depressive emotional exhaustion.

Six things I’d like to achieve this week:

  • Have at least one night where I get at least three hours sleep.
  • I’ve had Zelda: Twilight Princess sitting in the corner of my room since purchasing the second-hand Wii over two weeks ago. Given my passion for all things Hyrulian, my crush on Midna and my life-long love bromance with Link…how have I not played this game yet? It will make me happy, it will make me feel something other than blarrrraggghhhhhh, it will be doing something wonderful for myself. Thus, this week, I vow to at least get to the point where Link must spank the evil monkey with his sword…and I mean that quite literally! :p
  • Write the first in my series of planned posts around the Mindfulness techniques I have been working through in order to deal with my trauma. I think this is something many people may find useful, for it’s certainly been helping me! :)
  • Write at least two other ‘non meme, questionnaire etc’ posts. This is something that really shouldn’t be all that hard considering I currently have 68 half-written drafts in my WordPress posts folder!
  • Spend at least thirty minutes using the internet for what it was designed for! What? I did say only a few moments ago I needed to gift myself some ‘self-love’! It’s perfectly natural! ;)
  • Clear my email inbox, which is starting to look like the online equivalent of this photograph!

paperfilledoffice

Hope you are all well and slightly less exhausted than I am at the moment! :)


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[SOC] Demons of depression

I wrote this confused stream of consciousness last night (1/1/13) but was unable to post it due to my current internet issues. I don’t know why I’m posting it today as it’s merely me realising I have once again become lost to depression and no longer know what to do about it. But…at least it’s a post, something that has been sorely lacking from this blog of late.

Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing. Additional apologies for the depressing nature of this post. Not all of us are happy at this time of year.

Demons_of_depression_by_flina

Demons of depression © flina

To say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement.

On numerous occasions in the lead up to Christmas, and in the only post I have been able to write over this period, I wrote of my hatred of this time of year. The endless stream of articles, radio shows, television reports and newspaper columns devoted to letting us know how wonderful it is to share this time of year with family and friends, with scant regard to the millions of people who have no-one. The people who exist in an isolated state desperately hoping that one day their sentence will end and they’ll finally be able to find some peace.

When I used to write journals, way back when I had a ‘life’, I would always write the obligatory ‘year that was/year that will be’ entry. I would relive the joyous moments I did not want to forget and plan for twelve months that would move me closer toward my goals. But I can’t do that anymore. The only highlight of this year was getting my unit, but I am starting to look on that as a curse, rather than a gift. Years of hunting and working myself to exhaustion finally paid off but for what? All it has done is become my prison.

Every day I wake up to be reminded of how alone I am, how poor I am, how uneducated I am, how worthless I am, and every moment I am reminded of this my abuser laughs her cruel laugh and reminds me that this was all I would ever amount to. That this is all I deserve.

Her, and my other voices, have increased in volume and frequency over the last few weeks. Each and every day a cacophony of voices accompany my every waking moment, rendering me unable to think, focus, work or function. I have done little to nothing of value aside from resort back to alcohol and self-harm in order to achieve even a few moments of peace amidst the din.

I cannot leave the house. I cannot eat. I cannot shower. Smile. Or laugh. And I definitely can’t sleep. The moment I close my eyes the demons rise and the nightmares reign. Over the last few weeks the dreams have become more vivid and painful than ever; no longer flashes of confusion but HD replays of the most painful, regrettable and destructive moments of my life.

All of which reminding me that I have achieved nothing in (nearly) six years. In fact with every year that has passed since my breakdown I have devolved. My mind has slipped further and further into the abyss with every month that passes. Every effort I have made to gain support, education, employment, respect or to achieve something that I could be proud of has failed, and as a counselor put it a few weeks ago,each successive ‘failure’ proving (to my broken mind) that everything my abuser said about me was the truth. All those words of colorful description; pathetic, useless, a waste of space, better off dead, disgusting, repulsive, worthless, evil, becoming much harder to fight, much harder to believe are not an apt description of myself.

Six years ago today she publicly humiliated me for expressing an inconsequential opinion – yet the burn of my blushing cheeks, the sound of the laughter, the shame that filled my heart, the wetness of the water that cascaded over my hair, the dampness of my shirt as it clung to my chest can still be felt as if it were yesterday.

The event played out in my dreams last night, was relived at various moments throughout the day, feeding into the whirlwind of negative thought that has ravaged my heart and soul over the last several weeks, further proving that no matter what effort I make to move past it, my mind is still lost in the trauma and pain of that period.

At least when I was on the streets I could focus on survival; a repetitive cycle that distracted me from the ‘failure’ that is my ‘life’. But now I am in my prison the only cycle is the endless reminder that she was right. That no matter what I do I will never succeed in anything. That her words and actions were not insult or attack but incidents of truth, all of which I deserved.

A cycle that feeds, rather than distracts from, my depression.

Yes, to say I am struggling at the moment would be an understatement. My mind once again has become the residence of the hideous demon that is depression; a demon that with every year that passes is becoming harder and harder to fight.

I cannot look forward to 2013 because no matter what I would like to achieve (return to education, have a holiday, write an eBook, cross item [1] off the things to do before I die list, move past the trauma of the past) I am convinced it will amount to nothing, for all five of these things have been on my list of ‘things to achieve in the year ahead’ since 2007; only now, the trauma of the past is ten thousand times worse than it was then!

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. This endless pain is becoming harder and harder to deal with without external aids (such as alcohol) and, not for the first time, I am losing hope not only for myself but for the world.

You’d think I’d be used to ‘living’ like this by now. That being alone should no longer get to me. That having nothing shouldn’t bother me. That I should have just accepted being inconsequential is my destiny. But I’m not. And I don’t think I will ever get used to living like this.

For no matter how much I’ve been convinced that I deserve all that has happened to me, I still have vague memories of the man I once was; creative, passionate, caring, determined, imaginative, sensual and the things he used to do; laugh, talk, hug, kiss, tickle, squeeze and smile. And as long as those memories are there, however distant, however unbelievable, I will keep trying to prove that the world has me wrong.

That this is who I am – not who she made me believe I was.

So although I’m not looking forward to this year in any way shape and form, I do have one sneaking suspicion. This is the year that will change everything; 2013 will either make me or break me completely.

Simply because I can’t deal with another year like the last six of my life.

I just can’t.

I won’t.


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Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits…ahhh, no!

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

ME: No.

WORDPRESS MODERATOR: Excuse me?

ME: I said no.

WPMOD: Did you just say no?

ME: I did. No, no and thrice times no.

WPMOD: I would think very carefully about what you’re saying if I were you young man.

ME: I always think carefully about what I’m saying. Every time I write a blog post I think carefully about what I write. Can I use a better word here? A more entendre laden word there? Is there a better pop culture reference I can slot in? Or a more oblique reference that only those who really know me will raise a sly smile over. So when I say no. I really, one hundred percent, mean no.

WPMOD: You do realise if you don’t answer this question, I’ll have to send you to the Principal’s office.

ME: For starters, I’ll have the vegetable spring rolls. For seconds, you’ve just illustrated my point. For thirds, go ahead, ain’t nothing she – or he, given I’m not one for gender bias – can do to make me change my mind.

WPMOD: Addy, your task was simple, you are supposed to write a glowing puff piece about the amazing merits of something that repulses you. So unless you have a reasonable excuse…

ME: …I’m assuming a dog ate my computer is not a reasonable excuse…

WPMOD: …no, it most definitely is not. So unless you have a reasonab…

ME: …what about a dragon?

WPMOD: What?

ME: What if a dragon ate my computer? Or a wombat? Or a feral gerbil?

WPMOD: There’s no such thing as a feral gerbil.

ME: You obviously never met the gerbils we had as pets. They attacked my brother in the middle of the night, you know.

WPMOD: Now you’re just being silly. Until you’ve written your assignment based on today’s topic, you are not leaving that chair.

ME: What if I need to pee?

WPMOD: Then you hold it in.

ME: What if a friend pops around for an uninvited visit?

WPMOD: You’re socially isolated, Addy, there will be no unscheduled visits as you don’t have anyone who will visit you.

ME: How could you possibly know that?

WPMOD: We’re WordPress, Addy. We know everything.

ME: Then you do realise what I’m thinking right now.

WPMOD: Yes. An Orwellian reference? Really? You have nothing better than that.

ME: Anything to keep me from writing today’s assignment.

WPMOD: Why do you always have to make everything so difficult. All you need to do is think about lungbutter, or canine excrement, or octopi…didn’t you say recently you hated Octopi? Why not write an amusing post sarcastically pointing out the merits of eating Octopus?

ME: Well. One, I don’t want to. Two, that would be a stupid post for a blog written by a kinky (ex) homeless romantic with mental health problems. Three, I don’t want to. Four, who the frack wants to read a post sarcastically pointing out the merits of eating Octopus? Five, I don’t want to. And six, well I can’t think of one right now but I tend to write lists in sixes, as you should well know.

WPMOD: Yes. We’re aware of your proclivities.

ME: So why don’t we just agree to disagree on this one, you can totter off and freshly press something and I can make a sandwich.

WPMOD: You are the one who set yourself the challenge of answering our prompts. As such you entered into a contract with WordPress and will be subject to recrimination should you fail.

ME: Firstly, I am not contractually obligated to you for anything. Secondly, punish me, see if I care. I’d happily get sent to the principals office. Then, I could stand in front of him and declare I was standing up to my principal for not answering the daily prompt. Granted, it would work better if WordPress could arrange for the deputy to be in the office as well, as then I would be standing up to my principals. Geddit?

WPMOD: Unfortunately, I do.

ME: Meh, it’s late, and I’ve had a long day. You do realise your prompt is keeping me from writing a post I want to write entitled The Pleasures of a Painful Posterior (and other alliterations), don’t you? Which isn’t password protected, by the way, it’s about bicycles.

WPMOD: Well, if you answered the question you could write that absurdly titled post, couldn’t you?

ME: How many times do I have to say it? I. Am. Not. Answering. Your. Prompt. So ground me, spank me, give me lines, arrest me. Do whatever you want for there is nothing that will make me write what you want me to.

WPMOD: I may do all of those things, young man, should you continue to show such obstinace.

ME: Fine. Whatcha gonna do first?

WPMOD: This isn’t supposed to be complicated, Addy. This prompt is supposed to produce fun little posts that make people giggle and laugh…

ME: …exactly!

WPMOD: You don’t want to make people giggle and laugh?

ME: You want to know what repulses me? Sure, I don’t like eating Octopus…or olives, or veal. I don’t like Jeggings, for starters, I look terrible in them, for seconds, why do they even exist? Nor do I like The Frog Song, or reality television, being alone, academic wank, spiders, Alan Jones or, as you so eloquently put it, canine excrement. But I don’t find any of those repulsive. What I do find repulsive is hypocrisy. Arrogance. I find someone who decides that a homeless person is a worthless piece of canine excrement without talking to him – or her, given I’m not one for gender bias – to find out the what, why and wherefores of how he – or she – got there, to be repulsive. I find discrimination, whether it’s against race, gender, skin colour, religion, political opinion, Bond preference, class or health to be beyond repulsive. And don’t, ever, get me started on abuse, abuse sympathising or victim blame mentality.

They are the things I find repulsive, and given you know ‘everything’, as you so kindly pointed out, do you honestly think I’m the sort of person to sacrifice my moral standing to write a puff piece in favour of any of those things? On Addy’s blog today there’s a post talking about how everyone should discriminate against the mentalyl ill because, hey, stigmatizing a health condition is fun! See that woman in the pub, yeah, the one flashing the base of her butt because her shorts are on the tiny side, you should go over to her and pinch her ass. You should fondle her, degrade her, objectify her and generally do whatever you want to her because she’s a woman, and she was put on this planet to be your plaything. Obama was re-elected? W.T.F? What the frack is a black man doing in the white house? In fact, why are black people even allowed to walk freely in society? Same goes for gay people, and overweight people, those lazy bastards.

As for people who have been the victims of abuse? They absolutely deserved everything that happened to them. Of course it’s their fault. Don’t they realise that the abuse happened because they invited it with their clothes, their actions, that they dared to be born with a vagina – or a penis, as I certainly don’t have gender bias when it comes to abuse – and why stop there? Why not launch into a wee diatribe about how the abuse was a good thing, that their nightly nightmares merely make them stronger, that their ongoing pain is simply punishment for being a bad person who deserves to kill themselves.

Oh, but all sarcastically, of course. Just to give people a wee giggle.

WPMOD: I think you’re taking this a wee bit too seriously.

ME: I probably am. But, like the word hate, repulse is a strong word for me. I use it only to describe the things I am vehemently opposed to. And they are all things I would never – even if you grounded me for a decade, beat my ass raw, made me write a billion gazillion lines or put me in prison for the rest of my natural life – never, write anything positive about in any way, shape or form. Even sarcastically. Because all someone would need to do is highlight, CTRL+C, CTRL+V, delete the ‘this is all sarcastic’ line and they turn me into someone I would never be.

WPMOD: Who would do something like that?

ME: Who would tell someone who’d had a breakdown to kill themselves because their voice was so boring and monotonous it inflicted pain on everyone they talked to? Who would tell someone they deserved the months of emotional abuse they’d received that had destroyed their life? Who would tell someone that the rape they experienced sounded like a bit of fun? The world is full of shitty people, doing and saying shitty things, in order to get whatever they want in life and to hell with everyone else.

Personally, I want to focus on the awesome people. Sure, I want my blog to be entertaining, but I also want to make people think, to challenge them and their perceptions. And writing a puff piece about lungbutter is only going to make people think I’ve lost my mind, and I’m a hard enough person to like as it is.

WPMOD: You do tend to ramble on a bit.

ME: Yes, yes I do.

WPMOD: You have no idea how to end this post, do you?

ME: No, no I don’t.

WPMOD: Well, to help you out, I will let you off this once. But any further refusal to answer the prompts will result in immediate punishment. And you know what that means, don’t you?

ME: A password protected post?

WPMOD: Exactly. And we don’t want that now, do we Addy.

ME: I dunno. Sounds kinda fun if you ask me.

WPMOD (Shaking head): Good night, Addy.

ME: Goodnight, WordPress. Until tomorrow.


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SOC: Writing is hard work at the best of times

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Wednesday 17 October 2012 between 11:32am – 12:13pm. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Writing is hard work at the best of times, let alone when you suffer from mental illness and have to deal with poverty and the day-to-day demands this holds over your life and health. Posts that set out to be one thing end up becoming something entirely different. Posts that could be brilliant become obscure bile regurgitated by a bipolar controlled mind.

Yesterday I had a job capacity assessment at Centrelink. This interview is an integral part of my disability support pension application and could not be missed. I woke early – around 4am – following a vicious nightmare that pulled my mind back into the events of Adelaide 2007. This isn’t an unusual event, these nightmares are a major factor of my five-year long insomnia, and set me on-edge for the remainder of the day.

So, instead of a calming and focussed 10km walk to Centrelink, the nightmare heightened my MH issues, throwing my anxiety and hallucinations into overdrive – which in turn had a physical reaction by amplifying my IBS and forcing me to run to both public toilets and trees throughout the long walk. By the time I arrived at Centrelink I was a mess; which some could argue would assist in my claim. The answers to my questions became rambling, confused, bullet points as my mind fought with the voices and the urgent need to visit a bathroom.

By the time I had walked the 10km home I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t think straight, the voices were deafening and even though I was starving I knew I couldn’t eat anything as I couldn’t pull myself together to cook the tin of baked beans that was my food for the day. Instead I collapsed in front of the computer and tried to force my mind to action; I read articles that angered me, articles that infuriated me, tweets that made virtually no sense and even before I attempted to write anything I knew my day was done.

I collapsed onto the sofa and stared at Pretty Little Liars for three hours before beginning to spontaneously cry. At first it was only a few tears but within minutes I was full on bawling; the sort of bawling that, had I had anything in my stomach, would have resulted in vomiting.

All I could think was my life used to be so much more than this. I used to be able write at the drop of a hat. I used to be able to form sentences and complex plots involving multiple characters and incidents. I used to be able to write well enough to be published.

Yesterday, like many days in recent years, I wanted to write. I wanted to engage. I wanted to contribute. But I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t get off the couch; the din of the voices, the emptiness of my life, the disconnection of my mind, the simple fact I’m broken and have been for so long I don’t think there’s enough superglue and liquorice to put me back together again.

And as I thought these thoughts my mind turned to all the writers who were producing. Who were able to focus their minds into blog-posts that are retweeted hundreds of times or produce fiction of such brilliance that it is applauded around the globe.

And all these thoughts did were amplify my own failings, my inability to come up with inspiring blog posts, my inadequacy of voicing the stories that burn within me. Thoughts that nourished the voracious circle my mind was locked into.

Eventually I stopped crying and just stared at the ceiling. I did that for hours; whilst other people were contributing to society, writing inspirational words, engaging in conversation and furthering their lives. I lay on a couch memorizing every blemish of my white ceiling.

Several hours later I crawled off the couch and logged online. All I could do was correct the mistake I’d made about scheduling my Teaser Tuesday post and reblogged an artwork that made me smile. No matter how much I wanted to I couldn’t locate the words within me to write the posts I wanted to write. Not for the first time, my mental health was controlling me.

Minutes later I was lying in bed wondering how other people do it. All the millions of blogs. The billions of stories. How do people do it? How do they come up with new ideas? How do their keep their content fresh? How do they keep writing when their minds don’t let them?

 


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SOC: And not for the first time, it scares me

THIS POST CONTAINS MENTION OF SELF-HARM, SUICIDE, ABUSE, VICTIM-BLAME MENTALITY AND RAPE, PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION SHOULD YOU FIND ANY OF THIS CONTENT TRIGGERING AND/OR OFFENSIVE. IT ALSO CONTAINS SOME WOE-IS-ME WHINGING WHICH SOME MAY FIND ANNOYING, JUST SO YOU KNOW :)

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Monday 8 October 2012 between 1:22 – 1:52am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

All the signs that I’m heading back to depression are there. The withdrawing from Twitter, the confused (rambling) blog posts, the writer’s block, the increase of voices and hallucinations, the drop of focus, the loss of enjoyment, insomnia, the heightened loneliness and desperate craving for human contact.

And it scares me.

The depressive episode I found myself in a few months ago was the worst since 2007 and I’m terrified of falling into another so soon. For the last few weeks I’ve felt as if my triggers have been on overdrive, with everything from radio shows to smells sending me back into the past and the plethora of painful memories that threaten to keep me there.

A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day...

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I logged onto Twitter and discovered a woman had gone missing from an inner-suburb of Melbourne. Although I never lived there, aside from a few occasions whilst homeless, I would cycle through this suburb on the way to work. I attended gigs there, hung out with friends, danced at street festivals, got legless drunk, worshipped the library (the 2nd best in Melbourne) and, on one occasion, had a rather enjoyable sexual encounter near the creek with my girlfriend.

It was a suburb I loved, a suburb I still love and a suburb in which some of my old friends still live.

As soon as I heard a woman had gone missing my first thought was to find out her name because I was terrified(/paranoid) it was someone I used to know. All sorts of nightmarish scenarios were multiplying in my mind about my old friends and the only way to stop them was to know the woman wasn’t one of them. Whether it’s heartless to say or not, when I discovered the missing woman’s name, I breathed a hefty sigh of relief as the people I care about were safe.

Throughout the following week Twitter and the Australian mainstream media exploded in a way I had never seen before. Virtually every tweet that appeared in my timeline was about Jill Meagher, the missing woman; the police were searching her apartment, the police were removing things from her apartment, the police were interviewing the husband, was the husband responsible (Note: Australian’s seem incapable of learning from their own history), what happened to Jill Meagher?, the police have found her missing handbag, the police have identified her on CCTV…and on it went, a massive blow-by-blow account of the investigation along with tens of thousands of tweets sending prayers, well wishes, thoughts and hope for her and her family.

And then, almost as quickly as I expected, the victim blame mentality began.

“She was obviously at a bar/club, left there in the early hours of the morning, obviously partially pissed/drunk, and she ‘lead someone on’ [sic] and the consequences followed her. if she is going to flirt with someone, make sure that you go through with it because someone is obviously pissed off with her….in my opinion, it’s now old news, she met with foul play as a result of her actions inside the pub/bar OR as I mentioned before…ask the husband.”
~ Comment posted on a Facebook page about the disappearance.

“But for a stranger looking around in daylight, there seems no obvious reason why a young woman would choose to walk this way home late at night … There are better spots for a young woman to be walking alone after a night out drinking with workmates”
~ Andrew Rule, Journalist

Fortunately, several intelligent female journalists leapt straight on this and gave it (and the people responsible) the thrashing they deserved!

Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – no-one deserves to be abused! No woman deserves to be abused. No man deserves to be abused. No child deserves to be abused. No living thing on this planet deserves to be abused in any way, shape or form. The moment you say they do you’re removing blame from the abuser and burdening the victim with yet more guilt for what has happened to them. In essence, you are punishing the victim and rewarding the abuser.

But, unfortunately, victim blame mentality is part and parcel of abuse; even though it should never be.

Like I said moments earlier, I support all the positive articles that have been written about this issue. Since my abusive relationship, since the rape, since the physical assaults, since my failure to be there for someone I cared about, I have done whatever I can to fight the scourge of domestic violence and abuse against women in this world. I’ve written previously of a time when I intervened during a physical altercation between a boyfriend and girlfriend and clearly remember thinking better me than her because I fucking deserve this as he beat seven shades of shit out of me. So I actually mean doing whatever I can and not just signing the white ribbon pledge before swigging back a pot of beer feeling all chuffed with myself.

The problem is (and why this incident was the starting point of my collapsing mood) however much I and other people care about violence against women, very very few people care about abused men. Now, I know this is a touchy subject and I fully expect an avalanche of tweets, emails and comments (as has happened in the past) calling me everything under the sun but men can also be the victims of violence; men can also be afraid of what may happen to them; men can be the victims of victim blame mentality.

Just as I’ve been. Repeatedly.

In 2007 a friend told me that “I deserved” the emotional abuse my ex had been giving me. Another friend informed me that I “needed to understand that I’d brought it on myself”. A housemate told me they wanted to “beat me” for “how badly I had been treating [my girlfriend]”so I should “just suck [her abuse] up and take it like a man”. A fourth friend, again, politely informed me “I deserved everything” my ex was doing to me.

All four of these friends were women.

Over the course of the following eighteen months I was called a misogynist on thirteen separate occasions for talking about the emotional abuse my ex had given me (I repeat, for talking about the emotional abuse not her gender) and even total strangers informed me I must have done something to deserve it. [Note: a list of the things I did wrong in the relationship can be found in this blog post from 2007, so I shall leave it to you to decide whether I actually deserved it or not. Personally, I think I treated her pretty well.]

Only one of my friends believed I was/had been abused, but she’s dead now, so no-one does. To everyone else…nah, it was her prerogative to treat me like that. It’s just a woman’s right.

As for the rape…hell, who’s gonna believe that? Of course it’s my fault!

When I told a counselor in 2007 they rebutted with me being a bit ‘out of it’ at the time and the most likely scenario was ‘I’d consented but just didn’t remember consenting’. Excuse me? I consented to being drugged against my will and whilst mind-fucked, consented to being anally raped and physically beaten? Really? I consented, but I don’t remember doing that because I was a bit ‘out of it’? Ahh yes, when all else fails, blame the mental illness. In 2008 a psychiatrist in the NT laughed when I tried to tell him about what happened (he was a dickhead that I never saw again). Later that year, I was told by a friend that it ‘sounded like a bit of fun’.

Again, only one of my friends believed I was raped, but she’s dead now, so no-one does. To everyone else…nah, it was just mental health inspired lunacy, a bit of a jape, something I should look back on with smiles and laughter. You know, when I’m waking up screaming night after night and prostituting myself so I can be punished for allowing the rape to happen in the first place.

When I was reading all the articles about the victim blaming of Jill Meagher, when I was reading all the thousands of syllables about violence against women, I was asking myself why anyone would want to inflict such pain on a woman, on anyone of any gender. I was asking myself who cares about the female victims of abuse who don’t fall into the ‘white, beautiful, wealthy’ category  and every other minute of the day I was flashing back to the moments in my life where I was blamed for the abuse that happened to me, where people I trusted as friends would tell me I deserved it; that ultimately, I deserve this lifetime of eternal pain and isolation the abuse has given me.

I was flashing back to waking up on the floor of a motel, naked from the waist down, battered and bruised beyond belief; of sitting in the shower for an eternity; of desperately wanting to tell people but terrified the news would filter back to my emotional abuser who would have used it against me as she had everything else (mental health, suicide, anxiety, loneliness) that had ever happened to me.

I was flashing back to the alcohol I would drink to drown the pain, to the knives I would use to medicate my tortured soul and the weeks I went without food because I was too scared to walk to the supermarket to buy food incase someone – anyone – was lurking in the shadows.

I was flashing back to standing in the middle of a forest months later with a noose tied around my neck begging for an end to the pain.

Jill Meagher’s body was found seven days later, followed, rightly, by an outpouring of grief. Tens of thousands of people marched through the suburb she had been abducted from to raise awareness of violence against women. Radio call in shows wanted to know what we could do to ‘remember Jill’ and the newspapers were blanketed with coverage of the aftermath, the man who had been arrested and the funeral.

But to many the damage had already been done.

The sheer volume of triggers I received that week set off all my victim guilt, survivor guilt, weakness guilt and every other form of guilt I’ve carried over the years. It affected my thinking, writing, sleeping and daytodaying. Not a minute went past without a nightmare memory of some description slipping back through the cracks of my mind and no amount of positive thinking was able to prevent them.

Whilst these nightmares were flooding my mind I was trying to navigate the complexities of a disability application (100s of questions are not a good thing for a mentally ill man with no concentration, let alone the trips to doctors and organisations to gather evidence of support.) All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and beat myself with a sock full of rocks but instead I tried to carry on a ‘normal’ life; blogging, online socializing, commenting, writing.

All the while being bombarded with memories of my past; tweets, challenge question prompts, forgotten photos and long-lost blog posts constantly reminding me of my pain of five years ago. Of my failure to retain friendships, of my selfishness, of my weaknesses.

Then came Friday, and the panic attack laden trip to Centrelink to fix a problem I had no warning over (I don’t deal well when something like that is thrown on me at the last-minute, especially with the possible ramifications (i.e. homelessness) if I hadn’t been able to sort it!)

Then came yesterday’s WordPress Photo Challenge asking for photos of happiness…every photo I have of Happy Addy is with someone else. Dozens of people I miss more than life itself. Dozens of people my actions and illness pushed away. Dozens of reminders of how lonely I am and – courtesy of triggers from the Jill Meagher tragedy – how I deserve how I’ve ended up.

And with all of this coming shortly before the 11 October; is it any surprise I’m scared of slipping back into a depressive episode?

For those who don’t know, on the 11 October 2007, I left a suicide note (described by a mental health professional as ‘schizophrenic’) and walked fifty kilometres from Melbourne CBD to the Dandenong rainforest where I attempted to hang myself. The attempt failed and I was ultimately taken by the police (who had investigated me as a missing person) to the hospital…

…where I was discharged 19 minutes later with three 20mg antidepressants (I had no other medication at home) and told I was fine! So, at 3am, a few hours after trying to hang myself, after walking 50kms with little to no food or drink, I had to walk home. The trip would normally have taken me 25 minutes, tops, but given I could barely move my legs and was about to pass out from the pain, that night it took me two hours. I spent the next three days sitting on a couch on my own (I had no friends to call) in a borderline comatosed state of fear, exhaustion, pain and emptiness. All I wanted was a hug, for someone other than my parents to show they cared. They didn’t.

As a result, around this time of year (end of September/beginning of October) this day and its events are all I can think about. And this year, being half a decade since the day I should have died, on top of all the shifting moods, reminders of the abuse I received, painful memories and lack of happiness, I’m scared what this week will bring.

Perhaps nothing.

Perhaps something.

As an old friend once told me, perhaps its all one great self-fulfilling prophecy.

All I know is that when I’m cohesive enough to look at what is happening right now, all the signs that I’m heading back to depression are there. The withdrawing from Twitter, the confused (rambling) blog posts, the writer’s block, the increase of voices and hallucinations, the drop of focus, the loss of enjoyment, insomnia, the heightened loneliness and desperate craving for human contact.

With my lease hanging on a knife-edge; with my disability application to sort out; with my lack of food and sustenance; with little to no distractions; the last thing I need is to slip into a depressive episode.

But everywhere I go, everything I do, the world seems to be pushing me toward that place.

And not for the first time, it scares me.


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SOC: ‘There’s no amount of social media connection that can fix this…’

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Thursday 27 September 2012 between 2:30-3:00am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Jean Jacques Henner, Solitude

Jean Jacques Henner, Solitude (Wikipedia)

For a soul that has always strived for balance this post, marooned within a sea of positivity, will stick out like a sore thumb. But I have to write it. I can’t shy away from it. Things have been building for days and if I don’t try to release them they’ll fester inside me and cause all manner of bad things to happen.

It’s one of the many problems with living a solitary life. Most people when they have a problem turn to their friends, a quick phone call to someone who loves them and a date is arranged. Perhaps coffee and cake, perhaps beer and peanuts, possibly hard-core liquor and cigarettes. Whatever the case may be there is someone there to listen to you, to absorb your pain and help you spank it away.

For a moment I want you to think about a few things. I want you to think about the last seven days of your life. I want you to think about everything you’ve done and then answer these questions:

In the last seven days, how many times did you have a conversation with someone?

In the last seven days, how many times did someone touch you?

In the last seven days, how many times were you hugged?

In the last seven days, how many text messages, emails or phone-calls did you receive?

In the last seven days, how many times were you thankful for the people in your life?

Now I want you to think of the last month and ask yourself the same questions.

After that, think of the last year.

Then, the last five years.

I want you to think about everything you’ve done, all the people you’ve met, all the moments you’ve shared with others.

Okay?

Are you thinking about it all? All the drinks, the parties, the cinema trips, the excursions, holidays, family Christmases, birthday presents? Do you have all the love you’ve received in your heart? All those moments that a friend sent you a quick text that put a smile on your face? Or turned up at your doorstep with a hot chocolate and kiwi fruit just because they wanted to make sure you were okay. Are you reliving it all? Smiling? Perhaps giggling over the odd moments you’ve enjoyed in the last five years?

Good :)

Now I want you to imagine not having any of them.

Erase them all from your mind and imagine the last five years of your life with no-one there for you.

No friends, no text messages, no phone calls, parties, presents or cuddles.

Just you.

Can you even imagine it? That level of isolation? That level of loneliness? That level of pain?

Honestly?

One of my favourite websites in Australia is called Mamamia. Although written with a female audience in mind I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. Their site helped me through homelessness, has assisted me through depressive episodes and, on one occasion, stopped me from self-harming. I even mentioned it in my list of pleasures on Tuesday.

Recently, they published a post written by a woman who moved from Melbourne to Sydney and thus was away from her family and best friends and the feelings of loneliness felt like a slap as she’d never felt alone like that before.

And I felt for her, I really did; anyone who knows the pain of loneliness has my utmost sympathy.

I’m not getting at that article at all, I thought it was a wonderful piece of emotional writing. What made me angry was one of the tweets Mamamia sent out to promote it. A tweet that – hand on heart – made me immediately rise from my computer, walk to the bathroom, open my SI kit and cut myself for the first time in weeks. Their words struck such despair in my soul that self harm was all I could do to alleviate the despair.

If “no amount of social media connection” could fix the author’s loneliness – what fucking chance do I have?

Seriously?

If I had slashed my wrists that night no-one would have known. My body would probably still be decomposing, unfound, as I wouldn’t have been missed. Social media is the only thing I have and this tweet made me realise it is basically all for nothing.

Nothing I do will ever make a difference to my life; all the pain I’ve been through alone, the abuse, the rape, the assaults the homelessness, is all my life will ever be.

All the effort I have to make – fighting with my bipolar mood swings, my crippling social anxiety, my PTSD nightmare fuelled insomnia, my massive distrust of every human being on the planet – just to write a single 140 character tweet to try to reconnect with the world is all for nothing.

A waste of time.

Pointless.

I was so proud of myself for rejoining social networks, to start blogging again, to start commenting on websites, but for the last two weeks I haven’t been able to get this comment out of my head.

If “no amount of social media connection” could help an intelligent, talented, witty, admirable, gorgeous young woman…what bloody chance does a fat, ugly, abuse-traumatised, mentally ill, (ex) homeless, socially isolated thirtysomething male have?

The pride I felt has evaporated, replaced with a single damning question that’s been permeating my thoughts for weeks:

Why do I even bother fighting when my life will never be anything more than this?