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…


2 Comments

We need to work together to end violence against women

There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

My thoughts today are not only with Jill Meagher and her family, but with the poor, homeless and Indigenous Australian women who have experienced violence and abuse that went un-noticed and un-reported, to the shame of us all.

There is much I could write about the tragic events that unfolded in Melbourne this week, but I will leave it to the professionals who voice my opinions far better than I am able.

Can we please stop blaming the victim?
The only thing we have to fear is being female
Women have the right to feel safe
Reclaiming the night

Resources

UNiTE
Unite to end violence against women

V-Day
A global movement to end violence against women and girls

White Ribbon
Working to prevent violence towards women. Take the white ribbon pledge today.
Australia
Canada
United Kingdom
New Zealand

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

So can anybody tell me how you do it?

The only way I can begin this post is to acknowledge how weak my posts have been this week. Every day I’ve returned to my blog to re-read what I’d written the day before, and each day I’ve come away disappointed. This dislike of my writing is hardly new. In the five years I’ve been writing this blog I’ve only ever been truly happy with five or six posts, the remainder becoming ‘things I failed to write properly’ or ‘things I failed at’.

Deep down I know this is my illness, the perpetual cycling of mood making it difficult to focus on what I’m doing. But knowing this isn’t the same as believing it.  And the more I believe in my worthlessness, the harder it becomes to create the content I yearn to produce.

So as I lie here after only six hours sleep in the last thirteen days, after four anxiety fuelling appointments in three days, after a 10km walk at 5am, I have already begun berating myself for not being able to voice my opinions on the issues of the week.

In Australia same-sex marriage dominated the press, a topic I have been passionate about for years, yet all I can think to write is:

1) Same-sex marriage should be legalised, effective immediately.
2) Same-sex marriage will not lead to an increase in bestiality.
3) Bestiality is spelt as I have just spelt it, not beastiality as large swathes of people seem to think.

Because nothing will ever change my mind on this topic and I’m tired of the endless debate surrounding this issue. Like unemployment benefits, like abuse, like the majority of issues that the media reports on, sooner or later the conversation needs to end and action taken.

I’m also tired of the media watering down events. Last week it was revealed that whilst at university, Tony Abbott punched a wall inches away from a female rival. Such an act of aggression, of violence, is disturbing. Yet some of the coverage it received was far too forgiving and sympathetic, once again reinforcing the belief that domestic violence is both acceptable and deserving. Which it isn’t, under any circumstances!

Of course, the issue of religion reared its ugly head once again, but my brain is too weak to voice my opinion on this. Similarily for the ongoing misogynistic culture Australia is promoting; the debate about reducing the alcohol drink-drive limit; and (as above) the ongoing cost of power crisis that is causing untold mental and physical health problems amongst Australia’s most poverty-stricken families.

I have opinions on them all but can muster only: I hate misogyny in all forms and am so tired of men who think they can treat women so grotesquely; I don’t like alcohol or what it does to people so make the blood alcohol limit zero; how many people have to die before we do something serious about the energy bill crisis?

Thus, because of my failings, there is no issue of the week today. Instead, a request for help.

Yep, I wrote help…

I hate asking for help.

I hate having to go to a food bank and humiliate myself by admitting I’m too pathetic to be able to afford food.

I hate having to go to a pyschdoc to embarrass myself with endless discussion over my life’s mistakes.

I hate having to go to a friend and admit I am too weak, pathetic and stupid to deal with life’s problems.

I’ve been like this my entire life. When I was self-harming as a teenager I hid it from the world. When I became suicidal I thought I needed to fight through it myself. When I was struggling after a breakdown I felt I couldn’t talk to my friends in fear of ridicule and abandonment. When I was raped I felt I had to keep it secret out of shame. When I became homeless I refused assistance in case it was confirming my worthlessness. Over and over in my life I convinced myself to cope with everything alone to prove I was worthy.

Only, it just made everything worse.

So can anybody tell me how you do it? Not just how you ask for help but everything.

How do you summon the confidence to connect with the world? To communicate and converse with people you like; to not spend days on end re-writing comments or tweets; to put your opinion out there without suffering a panic attack?

How do you curb self-critical behaviour? To just believe in yourself and what you’re doing; to find the courage to be who you want to be regardless of what other people may think?

How do you forgive yourself? To embrace your inner-self with warmth over the wrongs you’ve done rather than dwell on them for an eternity?

How do you control the demons within you? To summon the focus without flitting between thoughts at a million miles an hour?

How do you beat the triggers? To be able to listen to the radio without freaking out; to be able to read articles on suicide without becoming overwhelmed; to be able to listen to a song without a minor-breakdown?

Never did I think I was perfect, but I thought I was doing okay. I thought I had implemented a decent array of safety measures that enabled me to cope with the bipolar, anxiety and chaos that reigns in my mind, but recently I’ve been questioning this. Each day the loneliness cloaks me like a dense fog and obscures my thoughts to the point of stagnation. I read Twitter feeds and envy the ease at which people write witty retorts, marvel at the focussed beauty of other’s posts, admire the ease at which people voice their opinion, and scold myself for being a failure, for being wrong, for being everything but normal

I guess I’m just tired of trying to do everything by myself. Balancing bipolar with severe anxiety whilst trying to access help, support services, disability pensions whilst trying to figure out what I did that was so wrong whilst trying to be a productive member of society whilst spending every minute of my life alone. I’m trying to put myself out there, connect with people, build the life I want, but it just feels like every step I take I end up four steps backward.

I guess I’m just having a whine as it’s one of those days.

Sorry.

But if you have any advice I’ll bake you a virtual cupcake – with the topping of your choice :)

Five things I learned this week

dead SIM

1. SIM cards will just inexplicably stop working for no reason causing you to have to buy a new one.
2. Trying to write a comprehensible blog post after six hours sleep in thirteen days is nigh on impossible.
3. “Digital Estate Planning” is one of the most brilliantly bizarre episodes of a sitcom, ever!
4. One person found my blog using the search term ‘advice on women who dance because of being homeless’.
5. Brian Cox was in Frasier.

Five things I plan to do next week

Bipolar Disorder

Once again my fluctuating moods had an adverse effect on my plans this week. I gave up on reading The Comfort of Our Kind not because it was bad (I was quite enjoying it) but when I’m so unfocused I can’t concentrate on reading. This lack of concentration also saw it impossible for me to focus on Homeland, instead resorting to Frasier marathons to keep me sane.

However much I want to, I can’t blame my moods on my failure to post a weekly series this week. Most of the posts are written, I just couldn’t muster the courage to post them. Perhaps next week. Whilst in the social world I did make two new friends on the social networking site, took a few steps closer toward attending an actual social event (I’ll keep you posted) and managed to post comments – which is something to be proud of, even if it wasn’t an every day occurence.

I also directly mentioned the author of an article I liked in a tweet, which is a very rare occurence for me!

Perhaps next week, if my moods settle, I will be more productive:

1. Write better blog posts!
2. Import the original Blogspot posts to increase the archive of this blog.
3. (Re)complete my DSP application and submit.
4. Post at least one constructive comment a day, anywhere on the internet.
5. Increase my Twitter followers to at least 200.

Linky Love

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

1. My Sister and Me (2): Anorexia Nervosa
2. My Sister and Me (1): Childhood, the most beautiful of life’s seasons
3. 20 Dreams I have…
4. Twenty of the Best: George Mackay Brown, A Poet’s Magic
5. 19 Quotes I love…

and five posts that other people wrote that rocked my world, are:

1. The Age (Daily Life): The Undiagnosable
2. Bipolar Burble: Escaping a Bipolar Brain
3. Anne Summers: Her Rights to Work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister (R-Rated)
4. The Conversation: Housing stress and energy poverty – a deadly mix?
5. The Age: The science of a break-up

And finally…

My three favourite photographs of the week:

View from Stac Pollaidh, Assynt, Scotland

Томас

Mama in the Corner

Disclaimer
I do not claim ownership of these photographs.
Copyright remains with the individual artist.
Please click each image to view their Flickr gallery.


Leave a comment

The Vagina Conundrum (and other oddities)

Triggering, is one word to describe this week.

Random would be another.

With World Suicide Prevention Day occurring on Monday and R U OK?Day happening yesterday, I found myself overwhelmed with memories from the past that didn’t exactly have a positive effect on my mental functioning.

Fortunately, Roald Dahl Day assisted in bringing a smile to my face, as well as some rather random articles, including: Fifty Shades of Wrong, Mothers I’d Like to Slap (MILS) and Today Ridiculed Over Choice. The remainder of the news seemed to focus on the continuing internet ‘trolling’ debate, the unfortunate death of an AFL player in Las Vegas, the redefinition of homelessness and suicide.

Lots and lots of suicide. Yay!

So, in an effort to stop yet more painful and disturbing memories and think more positive and happy thoughts, my issue for the week is the vagina.

Issue of the Week

The Great Wall of Vagina (yes, I’m aware of the inaccuracy) | Jamie McCartney

Yes. I wrote the word vagina. Oops, I wrote vagina again. And again. And three more times…

And now I’ve duly annoyed Net Nanny, made several people uncomfortable and reduced my meager blog hits dramatically, may I enquire as to just why so many people have an issue with this word? Why there is such an obsession with euphemisms whenever this part of the female body is raised?

As a man, I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I’m genuinely asking.

Women have a vagina, men have a penis, women have a clitoris, men have trouble with directions. What is the problem? Why, with all the pain and misery in the world, do people have such trouble talking about this perfectly normal part of the body?

This week Apple censored the word vagina with v****a on the Apple iStore listing of Naomi’s Wolf’s new book Vagina: A New Biography. In recent months, there was a nationwide furor when a television advert for tampons dared to mention the word vagina. Yet despite the fact we’re raising generations of men (and women) who don’t know the difference between the vagina and the vulva, it remains a word that is spoken in hushed tones or gestured in spontaneous charade games whenever it’s discussed in conversation.

Maybe it’s just me that’s so annoyed with this. Maybe I’m supposed to have a problem with the word vagina. Maybe the fact I don’t has contributed to my mental ill-health and homelessness. Maybe all my problems stem from my inability to take offense at this word.

I’m genuinely confused by this.

My final word on the matter:

The word vagina is not offensive, it is not explicit, it is not disgusting.

It is normal. It is beautiful. And if you don’t believe me say the word aloud…vagina…see? Gorgeous :)

So can we quit with the censoring and the euphemisms and the deafening outcry whenever it’s used and just accept there’s nothing wrong with the word vagina.

Scrotum, on the other hand…that’s a whole other blog post!

Further reading on this topic

Vagina by Naomi Wolf covered up by iTunes (The Guardian)
iTunes Censors ‘Vagina’: Feminist Author’s Book Title Allegedly Considered Explicit (Huffington Post)
Naomi Wolf Gagged by Apple (The Age)

Five things I learned this week

1. Twenty-one people found my blog by searching for “socks fetish confessions”
2. ‘Mad Men’ is apparently the best television show of the last twenty five years. Sigh.
3. How One Tree Hill ended. But I won’t tell you, in case you plan on watching it.
4. I am actually a woman, at least when it comes to how I fantasize.
5. One person found my blog by searching for “is there a mental illness of sitting on the toilet all day”.

Five things I plan to do next week

This week has been one of mixed success. Unlike last week, where I completed each of my goals for the week, I didn’t fully complete any of my tasks this week. As is often the case with mental illness the rollercoaster I found myself on this week prevented me from focusing as clearly as I would have liked, leaving me feeling somewhat frustrated that I failed.

I did begin The Comfort of Our Kind, but failed to finish it. One Tree Hill was watched, somewhat bitter-sweetly, but I’ve yet to channel my feelings into a blog post. In terms of the social network, my anxiety has prevented me from going near, the same issue affecting my ability to leave comments, no matter how wonderful I found the blog post.

Perhaps next week, if my moods settle, I will be more productive, with:

1. Watch Homeland and write a blog post about it.
2. Finish The Comfort of Our Kind.
3. Find the confidence to write the weekly series I want to write.

and lingering from last week:

4. Post at least one constructive comment a day, anywhere on the internet.
5. Make at least two new friends on the social networking site (i.e. message people…gulp!)

Linky Love

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

1. Twenty of the Best: Roald Dahl, Champion of the World
2. The only time I can be myself is in my dreams
3. Unsent Letter #7: And before you think it – no, I’m no trying to flirt with you
4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far
5. Unsent Letter #6: In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took

and five posts that other people wrote that rocked my world, are:

1. Crikey: The worst thing you can imagine
2. justb.: Trolls, Fame and Blame
3. Far from Paradise: Healing the Heart
4. Mamamia: I’d never felt alone like that before
5. The Punch: I’ve lost two loves to suicide. Ask someone if they’re OK

And finally…

My three favourite photographs of the week:

Early Morning Swim [EXPLORED]

hypnotised

001

Disclaimer
I do not claim ownership of these photographs.
Copyright remains with the individual artist.
Please click each image to view their Flickr gallery.


1 Comment

Trolls, friends and narcissistic jelly beans

It’s been a strange old week.

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

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

Issue of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My final word on the matter:

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

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

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

Five things I learned this week

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

Five things I plan to do next week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linky Love

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

My three favourite photographs of the week:

The Escape Artist

The Ornament

Haunted Room