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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…and everything in between

Today’s WordPress Daily prompt is:
Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.

Photograph #1:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a poster for the latest Bond movie.

Standing dead centre in the frame, atop a familiar planet earth, is a man wearing a suave black tuxedo. He is the very definition of sexy; the sort of male you’d create if – in a random genetic experiment – you were to blend the DNA of Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling and Ian Somerhalder.

On his left arm is a woman with shoulder length brunette hair. She wears a scintillating scarlet dress that clings to her curvaceous figure as if it were a second skin. Her hand has slipped under his shirt to caress his muscular chest whilst he takes a firm hold of her hip. Hanging onto the man’s right leg is a second woman, a blonde in a purple cocktail dress that reveals acres of bare flesh. She is draped at his feet, her head bowed out of apparent submission to this God like man.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

The man is not standing on any old globe; he is standing on a photo montage made to represent the planet Earth. There are contracts for business deals, hundreds of receipts for lavish altruistic purchases, reams of telephone bills totalling thousands of dollars, several novels he’s written and millions of scribbled ideas, grand schemes and elaborate plans for world domination.

There are heavy bags under the man’s eyes from weeks without sleep, the odd bruise partly hidden by his shirt and a whisky bottle secreted in the pocket of his tuxedo jacket. In his right hand he holds a mobile phone, partly obscured by the blonde woman’s head, but the message on the screen is visible: 78 missed calls. As this message becomes clear, so does something else. The blonde woman is not bowing in submission, but out of pain; her face streaked with tears.

A caption at the bottom of the image reads: Manic…

Photograph #2:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a black and white artistic photograph of a bed. The sort of image you’d get if were you to cross Ansel Adams with Tracey Enim.

There are no pillows in sight, just the crumpled heap of a black and white patterned duvet haphazardly thrown across a dishevelled mattress. Scattered around the sides of the bed are half filled bottles of an unidentified liquid, crumbled tissues, discarded clothing, books and empty cans of beer. On a bedside table sits a half drunk glass of water, a few unused condoms, a mobile phone and an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

On the screen of the mobile phone is a message informing 0 missed calls. Lost amidst the sea of junk around the bed is a knife, in close proximity several scrunched up tissues splattered with a dark substance that could only be blood. There are also letters, thrown aside and unfinished, that speak of not being able to do this anymore, no longing wanting to be a burden and I’m sorry. Another note, written in more feminine handwriting, sits on the bedside table with the ashtray as a paperweight. It reads: Can’t do this anymore. Call me when you’re better.

Poking out the end of the bed, barely noticeable, is a human foot; the only visible limb of the person hidden beneath the duvet.

A caption at the bottom of the image reads: …depression…

Photograph #3:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a piece of photojournalism capturing day-to-day office life.

A man sits at a desk in a pristine office environment, behind him a cityscape of high rises, cathedral spires, scattered trees and a winding river. He is typing at a computer, a phone nestled at his ear and a mug of coffee steaming nearby. Walking into frame is his colleague, she wears a stylish skirt suit and is smiling at the man as she passes.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

The man bears a striking resemblance to the person in the first image; in fact, if he wasn’t overweight, wearing glasses or dressed in a cheap brown suit you’d swear it was the same man. The woman is also eerily similar to the scarlet dress wearing femme-fatale that was hanging of his arm in the first panel. Her smile, which at first glance appears warm and inviting, hides a hint of derision and disgust, as if she is smiling out of forced politeness rather than any degree of friendship.

There is a bandage hidden under his white shirt, a memo on his desk RSVPing to a social function and an award hanging on the wall behind him indicating employee of the month. Attached to the monitor of his computer is a post-it note written in the same hand-writing as the note hidden under the ashtray of the second image. It reads: Have a beautiful day, beautiful boy :) PS…antenatal scan, tomorrow, 10am. Don’t forget! Love you xx

A caption at the bottom of the image reads:  …and everything in between.


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In defence of Inverness

Today’s WordPress Daily prompt is:
You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

Inverness © Addy

Most people who travel to Scotland will visit Inverness as it makes an excellent base for the aspiring monster hunter. However, once they’ve stared out over the loch and concluded a rogue wave was indeed the monster they move on, speeding down toward the world-renowned hubs of Edinburgh or Glasgow, relegating the wee city that could to become ‘that place I slept in when I went to Loch Ness‘.

Which is a shame. For there is so much more to Inverness than lochs and monsters.

For a start, there is a rich and vibrant music scene, with venues such as Hootananny, Ironworks and a wealth of pubs offering local and international musicians on a nightly basis. Whereas the exceptional Eden Court provides a wide range of entertaining, educational and inspiring live theatre and international cinema.

History, too, is richly served. Culloden Moor, site of the last pitched battle fought on British soil, is minutes away. Whilst a little down the road are the Clava Cairns; always overlooked in favour of the more promoted neolithic sites but equally impressive all the same. Fort George is on your doorstep, as is Craig Phadrig, the Caledonian Canal and the Black Isle.

There are altruistic options galore, a wide selection of local and international cuisine and the greatest bookshop in the world!

So the next time you’re in Scotland, forget the glory of Edinburgh or Glasgow and spend a week exploring the city at the heart of the Highlands. Savor its flavor, relish its laid back approach to this crazy thing called life and inspire yourself with all it has to offer.

I guarantee the moment you stop seeing it as a stopover for monster hunting is the moment you fall in love with one of the greatest cities in the world.

And c’mon? Where else will you find a castle that looks like it’s been constructed solely from pink Lego bricks?

Inverness Castle © Addy


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Dear Older Me,

Today’s prompt from the WordPress Daily Post blog is: write a letter to yourself in 20 years.

Dear Older Me,

You are probably dead.

Here’s hoping it was quick, painless and didn’t win a Darwin award.

Love and Hugs,

Younger You xx

PS: If you’re not dead:

◊ Give your wife a kiss and a bum squeeze from me. Don’t look at me like that! I’m you remember, only more Hobo-Chic than Silver Fox. There’s not a chance in hell you made it to fifty-three trapped in the same isolation you used to be in. You know as well as I that would have killed you long ago :) Besides, I know how hard you worked to get where you are because I’m the one doing all the hard work – and there’s no chance someone as awesome as us could work so hard and not get a payoff from it!

◊ Are you still writing All that I am, all that I ever was. Please tell me we’re at least in contention for longest running blog in the history of the world? You know that would be freakin’ awesome!

◊ I’m hoping that you told our family tales of yesteryear when you took them on a tour of Scotland. If you didn’t, why not? Seriously. Do you not remember how happy you were back them; gazing out over the loch hunting for Nessie (your kids will love that), hiking through Glen Nevis, taking boat trips to the Isle of Rum, skinny dipping in Loch Shiel? Okay, perhaps save that last one for your wife only, don’t want to scar the children for life! Hell, you better have fulfilled your fantasy of skinny dipping with someone in Loch Shiel…if not, the two of you should go back there this instant and get all nekkid! :p

◊ If I were to time-travel to a bookstore twenty years from now, will I be able to find a copy of The Ghosts That Haunt Me? Because if I do time-travel and I don’t find a copy with our name on it…you and I are going to have a serious conversation, young-at-heart man!

◊ If you haven’t already, you need to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made in the past against those you love. They wouldn’t want you holding onto that guilt forever. Well, not all of them, anyway.

◊ Are your kids close to P&K’s kids? I’m seriously hoping that they are. If not, get to it!

◊ Please, please, for the love of all those mystical things in the shadows, tell me you never became homeless again? If you did, then we’re really gonna have that serious conversation!

◊ If you haven’t crossed at least 50% from your bucket list you’re going to have to promise me you’ll dedicate the next twelve months of your life to succeeding in that goal.

◊ If you haven’t crossed off item one – WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!? DO IT NOW!

◊ And c’mon, am I not allowed to fantasize about giving future Mrs. Addy (or did you take her name…I bet you did, didn’t you?) a wee squeeze on her beautiful posterior? She probably secretly loves it. No way someone would have married you if they didn’t like the occasional surreptitious bum squeeze when you give them a passionate kiss :p

PPS: Rejoice! You finally wrote a PS longer than the body of the letter!

PPPS: In all seriousness, I hope that when you read this letter you will look back on the last twenty years of your life and be kind to yourself. Remember, but don’t dwell, on all the dark places you visited. Remember all those times when you wanted to give up, when you lived completely alone, when you had to fight the daily ‘getting out of bed’ battle, when your home was a park in Inner Melbourne.

And as you remember all those times, look around you; at your wife, at your children, at your home, at all the wonderful things in your life, and just let yourself have one moment, just one moment when (out of earshot of the kids) you stand up and proclaim “I fucking did it!”

Because you really are awesome, Mr. Used to be Addy til you took your wife’s name!

But hey, you don’t need me telling you that. You’ve known it all along.

You just didn’t believe it until now. :)


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A postcard to my fourteen year old self

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is: write a letter to your 14-year-old self.

A few months ago I sent an open letter to my thirteen year old self. If you haven’t read it, you really should, as it’s a post that has passed my strict regulations of awesomeness to become one I’m proud of:

Unsent Letter #7: And before you think it – no, I’m not trying to flirt with you!

Not wishing to inundate my younger self with letters from future me, I decided to send him a postcard instead.

~ CLICK THE IMAGE TO DISPLAY AN ENLARGED VIEW ~

 Callanish Standing Stones (Isle of Lewis, 2000) © Addy


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Loneliness isn’t a destination…

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of my pet peeves. A short while later, I wrote about a few more. On both occasions I missed something that has infuriated me for years, something that I’d written about with some rare anger in the past.

Yes, I understand that people who are full-time employed with no health problems, who are part of a social network, have regular communication with society, have someone to go home to every night and whose family live in close proximity can feel lonely. I’m not completely devoid of empathy or the ability to understand basic human psychology.

However, I am left wondering if these people have an understanding of what it feels like to be really, truly, utterly alone.

In July 2007 I was assaulted and raped. Sitting in a dingy motel room the following afternoon all I wanted to do was talk to someone. I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. I needed someone to tell me it wasn’t my fault. I needed someone, anyone, to show that they cared. But after an emotionally abusive relationship had torn my life to shreds and a mental breakdown had left my mind in tatters, I has no one to turn to as I couldn’t risk my abuser discovering what had happened as she would have used it against me.

In October 2007, after eight months of accumulating pain and devastation I hiked into the middle of a forest and attempted to hang myself. After being taken to the hospital by the police I was discharged twenty minutes later and told I was ‘fine’. Sitting in my dingy flat that weekend, too frightened and out-of-it to leave the couch, all I wanted was a friend, but I had no-one; not a soul.

When you have spent years living in a park dealing with daily verbal abuse, sporadic physical abuse, the occasional non-consensual golden shower from a drunken idiot and months of blacked-out confusion, you begin to understand what real, true loneliness is.

Four years after my suicide attempt in 2007, almost to the day, I staggered into a phone booth in a nondescript Australian country town. With shaking fingers I dialled 13 11 14 and waiting patiently for an operator. I’d phoned Lifeline many times before, always when I had no other choice, always when I could no longer fight the isolation and pain I was feeling, always knowing that within seconds they would trigger me into feeling ten times worse.

After telling them I was suicidal, that I wanted to die, that I wanted to erase my pathetic existence from the world, they said it:

“Perhaps you should call a friend and get them to come over? Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone to distract you from these thoughts,”

“I agree,” I snapped. “If I had a friend I would call them. But I don’t. I’m homeless. I’m insane. I’ve been on my own for longer than I can remember. That’s why I want to kill myself. Because I’m f**king tired of being on my f**king own so don’t f**king tell me to call a f**king friend because that’s half the f**king problem!”

After several deep breaths I began talking (with less naughty words) about the pain that had driven me, once again, to think such bleak thoughts. There are times when I can cope with this all-consuming isolation. Having been in this position for so many years I’ve become used to spending every minute of my life by myself, I’ve convinced myself I deserve it. But from time-to-time the intense, numbing pain of being truly alone overwhelms me, drives me to plan my death and leads me toward public phone booths where I engage in humiliating conversations about my failures in life, friendship and everything in between.

Fifteen minutes into that phone call I was reduced to a trembling, sobbing, wreck. Not by the Lifeline counselor, but by the pedestrians casually enjoying their day. Like good little sadists they were relishing in the human disintegration before them. Oh, just bugger off and do it, one twentysomething male called out. Three female college students laughed at this, turned to see me, then laughed harder. Pathetic, one of them whispered at a deliberate volume.

There is nothing to hammer home the extent of your loneliness than random verbal abuse from strangers. In spite of the best efforts of the counselor, who referred me to the MH crisis team (“they’ll contact you in the next 24-48 hours”), I attempted suicide later that day.

Fortunately the attempt failed, but whenever I think of the comments those people hurled in my direction, I am reminded of my loneliness. Of my mistakes; of my failures; of the abuse I received; of all that has happened that led to this isolation.

But I am also reminded of my determination to not only pass through this place of loneliness on my journey toward recovery, but to do whatever I can to help others who have found themselves trapped in a similar, unfamiliar state. No-one deserves to live their lives alone, devoid of hugs, human contact and all the aspects of life most people take for granted.

Take it from someone who knows, a simple act of compassion can be more healing than any medication or therapy on the planet.

So why not try it today?

You can read other interpreations of today’s theme by visiting the WordPress’ Daily Post blog.

 


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Hug a Homeless Person Day

I’ve just realised an obvious problem in my decision to take on the WordPress Daily prompts as a challenge throughout November. Being in Australia, I will always be a day ahead (or a day behind, depending on your perspective), as new prompts are posted in US time.

The lateness of this post comes from hoping WordPress would post their 1 November update in time for me to write something, but alas, they did not. Thus, for my 1 November post I’m answering the prompt for 31 October. Whereas tomorrow I will answer the 1 November prompt, and so on.

Only tomorrow I will answer the prompt much earlier as I’m so sleepy at the moment I can barely keep my eyes open!

Invent a holiday! Explain how and why everyone should celebrate.

If I could invent a holiday it would be Hug a Homeless Person Day. Whether they are real life bear hugs, online {{HUGS}} or hug-like acts of donating time to volunteer with homeless services; showing you care about the homeless is all that’s required to celebrate this day.

With homelessness an ever-increasing problem more needs to be done to help those unfortunate enough to find themselves in this predicament, so why not form a holiday to help those individuals too often forgotten within our society?

For years I slept in parks, alleys, storm drains and doorways, never once receiving any form of human contact. Throughout those long, lonely years I became withdrawn and disconnected from society. I forgot what it meant to be loved or cared about and became ostracised from society at large. The hardest part of trying to regain my life is trying to relearn all the basic communication skills I forgot throughout my homelessness. Skills that would never have been lost if society treated the homeless as human beings instead of animals.

On any given day a hug would have made all the difference. It would have proved to me that I was visible. That even though I was in the direst of situations there were people out there who cared. The simple act of someone sitting down to talk to me, to take an interest in my personality rather than their preconceived stereotypes, would have given me hope. Hope that I, like many, found so hard to hold onto.

No-one chooses to be homeless. So why is society ignoring the plight of those most in need of support? We have holidays to gather candy, to celebrate horse races, ignite the sky with fireworks, commemorate monarchs and feast on chocolate eggs…so why no holiday to care about those less fortunate?