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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Twelve Goals for 2014

Goals

The first item on my list is something that has been at the forefront of every ‘Goals for the Year Ahead’ list I’ve written since I was a teenager, and 2014 is sadly no different:

1. Cross item 1 from my list of things to do before I die…

The only thing which prevented me from completing this item last year was the financial cost of doing so. This year I’m adamant I will succeed, regardless of cost, anxiety and trepidation!

Last year was the year I (finally) tackled my voice hearing experiences, and even though I still have some way to go in this area, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the year I try to tackle two areas of my mental health that have caused all manner of problems throughout my life:

2. Tackle my body image issues…

So far this summer there has been several days in the high thirties and low forties, yet I have consistently worn a heavy pair of jeans and (more often than not) a stiflingly hot shirt, because I’m unable to wear shorts or reveal my upper torso in fear of causing an outbreak of vomiting and/or inciting a lynch mob. This year, even though I’ve no idea how, I want to create a breakthrough in how I view my physical appearance so that next summer I can wear shorts and/or go swimming in relative comfort.

3. Tackle my social anxiety…

This aspect of my mental health has debilitated me for as long as I can remember, yet nothing I’ve ever done has made a dent. As with item (2) above, I’ve no idea how I’m going to attempt to deal with my social anxiety, but by the end of the year I hope to be far less anxious than I am right now.

2013 was the year I threw myself into a series of psychosocial rehabilitation groups courtesy of Gateway Community Health. Even though I will be continuing with these groups throughout the year ahead, I’ve decided I need a bigger challenge:

4. Return to education

Over the last few months there have been many conversations between my support worker and I about the possibility of returning to education in 2014. The current plan is to undertake a ‘pathways to education’ course at my local TAFE to get me used to being back in the education system, before undertaking a full-time course later in the year. Only time will tell if this comes to fruition, but I resolve to give it the best shot I can.

So far my goals for 2014 – item (1) aside – have revolved around tackling various areas of my mental health and current life situation, but as we all need balance in life I’ve decided it’s necessary to set a few light-hearted (and fun) goals for the upcoming twelve months.

5. See at least six films at the cinema…

Despite this item appearing on last year’s list of goals, I saw only two films at the cinema throughout 2013 (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The World’s End). As such, I’m more resolved than ever to complete this item as quickly as possible in the year ahead.

6. Go on a holiday to Tasmania

Last year I set myself the goal of going to Melbourne; this year I‘ve decided to be somewhat more adventurous, for my holiday destination of choice shall be Tasmania! :)

7. Organize a social event for my Hearing Voices Support Group

As 2013 continued I became more and more involved with the running of the Hearing Voices Support Group I frequent, culminating with joining the committee that organizes the group. During some of these meetings the possibility was raised that we should undertake some social events outside of the regular group. As I wish to tackle my social anxiety this year, I’ve decided that it would be good to be the driving force that organizes at least one of the social events for the group.

And as with all of my ‘Goals for the Year Ahead’ lists, there needs to be a couple of immensely difficult challenges in which to test my commitment and determination, so:

8. Go on a date

To say I miss the company of women would be an understatement. Given that it’s been nearly five years since I last kissed someone, nearly five years since I last made love and nearly five years since I was in a relationship, I’d very much like 2014 to be the year that breaks my intimacy drought.

9. Write and self-publish an eBook

I can still remember the  joy and feelings of accomplishment that overwhelmed me when I had a short-story published in 2009. Since then I’ve hoped that I would be published again, but the surge of eReaders and my mental health impacting on my ability to write fiction have both impacted on this dream. So in order to be published again I’ve decided to focus my efforts on something I can do; namely, tell my journey through mental illness, homelessness and beyond. By the end of 2014 I hope to have completed and published an eBook – partially inspired by this blog – that is part autobiography and part inspirational self-help book.

10. Cross (at least) six items from my things to do before I die list

If I’m (finally) able to complete item (1) of this list, I’d be left with only five items! But even if I don’t succeed in realising that life-long dream, aiming to cross six items from the list is only one item every two months which should be an achievable goal. I just have to decide which items to focus on!

And to complete my list, I thought it would be nice to add a couple of blog related goals:

11. Write at least one blog post in every month of the year

This was an item that appeared on last year’s list, but courtesy of a relapse into a depressive episode, I unfortunately failed to complete it. This year, I hope to be able to manage my mental health enough to complete this seemingly simple of tasks.

12. Manage my comments and responses more successfully

This, as with other goals this year, ties in with my hope to tackle my social anxiety. Quite often I fail to respond to comments, emails and queries in a timely fashion because my anxiety intervenes and prevents me from doing so. Hopefully, in the coming months, I will be able to place myself in such a position that I can respond quickly, compassionately and entertainingly to any comments or emails I receive, and in turn, be able to increase my readership and online friendships.

All in all, I feel that I am being fairly realistic with the goals I’m setting for myself this year. Sure, there are a few complicated goals in the above list, but what would life be without a challenge?

Only time will tell how I go, and I promise to keep you all informed of my progress as the year continues.

~◊~

And this marks the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge. I hope your Christmas holidays have been  as happy, safe and enjoyable as can be. For those of you who haven’t done it yet, your decorations need to be taken down by the end of today otherwise bad luck will befall you, so get to it! :p

If you missed any of the previous installments of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge you can catch up on them via the links below…and you can always play along next year when the challenge shall return! :)

| Day One | Day Two | Day Three |
| Day Four | Day Five | Day Six |
| Day Seven | Day Eight | Day Nine |
| Day Ten | Day Eleven|

~◊~

Other wonderful bloggers participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Marci, Mental Health and More | Many of Us |
| Looking for Lucy |

If I’ve missed you from the above list, please let me know in the comments field below and I’ll add you as soon as humanly possibly so everyone can read your magnificent responses! :)


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Nine places I’d like to go in 2014

One of the hardest things about living in poverty is how hard it is to actually go anywhere. Most of the time I’m thinking exclusively about food and survival, not where my annual vacation is going to be. But after last year’s Melbourne trip, I realise the power that having something to look forward to can provide. As such, I haven’t simply chosen destinations that I know I’ll never get to, but rather a mix of the highly unlikely and absolutely doable.

I may as well kick off this list with the places that, if money were no obstacle, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit over the next twelve months, beginning with Canada. Ever since visiting this wide, luscious land in 2000 I’ve wanted to return. I’ve wanted to hike the great lakes and forests of Jasper, meander the endless streets of Toronto and visit, for the first time, the provinces of the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. But as such a trip would be a mammoth (and expensive) undertaking, I can’t see it happening unless I happen to win the lottery. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop dreaming! :)

Up there with Canada as dream destinations would be a return to my home away from home, Inverness, and a couple of weeks in the European city of Greece, not because I want to help them fiscally but because in October they are hosting the World Hearing Voices Congress, which I would rather like to attend.

But like I said, in order to succeed in some of these destinations, I’ve had to think a little closer to home, with the obvious starting points being Woolshed Falls and Tasmania, the latter of which I’ve wanted to visit since before I arrived in this sunburnt land.

Two more places I’d like to visit over the next twelve months are rather non-specific, as many destinations all over the world would suit my purposes. Following last year’s regret of not visiting the ocean when I was in Melbourne, I am more resolved than ever to paddle in the cool sea this year. I’d also very much like to attend a pub trivia night so will need to manufacture a trivia team to compete at any of the plentiful local venues who offer such entertaining evenings! :)

And lastly, I have chosen a place that is far more spiritual than geographical, for I would very much like to pay a visit to the state of complete relaxation; where none of life’s stressors, worries and frustrations are invited.

Complete Relaxation

~◊~

Previous installments of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Day One | Day Two | Day Three |
| Day Four | Day Five | Day Six |
| Day Seven | Day Eight |

~◊~

Other wonderful bloggers participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Marci, Mental Health and More | Many of Us |
| Looking for Lucy |

If I’ve missed you from the above list, please let me know in the comments field below and I’ll add you as soon as humanly possibly so everyone can read your magnificent responses! :)


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Eight minutes to share my opinion on New Year’s Resolutions

happy-new-year

~ This post was freewritten between 12:13am and 12:21am on the 1 January 2014 ~

For as many New Year’s as I can remember, I’ve never made a resolution. Not one. Ever. The way I see it, New Year’s resolutions are a token gesture, a promise we make ourselves that we have no real intention of keeping.

Sure, people start off meaning well. If they’ve resolved to quit cigarettes they may make it to the 4th or 5th of January, others may last until March or April, but the moment a particularly enjoyable night on the turps occurs the resolution is forgotten and the smokes come out. Similarly, you can bet your beautiful bottoms that gyms the world over will be heaving over the next few weeks as everyone who’ve resolved to spend more time at the gym hit the treadmills and pump the weights until their hectic lives take over and all good intentions are forgotten.

The problem with resolutions is that they are an absolute. There is no room for error in a resolution. If you resolve to stop eating cake, even eating one crumb of delicious chocolate gateaux means you’ve failed. And as a smarter man than me once said, there are no absolutes in life, so why do people persist in imposing them on themselves? Surely that’s just setting yourself up for failure?

A better option is to make plans; specific, accountable, trackable, achievable hopes for the year ahead. Goals are not absolute; they are organic, easily interchangeable with the fluctuations and constancy of life. Instead of resolving to go to the gym, why not make a goal to lose weight, this way if things come up in your life (which I guarantee they will) you can alter your plans to replace the gym with nightly walks and/or eating healthier food?

But with all that said – and with the statistics weighted against me (they say that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within the first two weeks of January) – I have decided that 2014 is the year that I make my first resolution. The first time I’ve decided to set myself an absolute. Where there is only success of failure.

This year, I vow to stop drinking all forms of soft drink!
(Note, this does not include non-sugar cordial with soda water)

And the reason behind this decision? The reason why I’m setting myself this resolution now, after thirty-five years on the planet without making one? Simple. I want 2014 to be different. I want it to be epic. I want it to be the sort of year people will one day tell their great-grandchildren about. And what better way to state this intention than to do something so grotesquely out of character?

So you could say that in 2014 I’m setting myself two resolutions:

This year, I vow to stop drinking all forms of soft drink!
(Note, this does not include non-sugar cordial with soda water)

And, I vow to make 2014 the best year in my life. Bar none.

Who wants to start a poll as to which one I’ll fail in first?

~◊~

Previous installments of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Day One | Day Two | Day Three |
| Day Four | Day Five | Day Six |
| Day Seven |

~◊~

Other wonderful bloggers participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Marci, Mental Health and More | Many of Us |
| Looking for Lucy |

If I’ve missed you from the above list, please let me know in the comments field below and I’ll add you as soon as humanly possibly so everyone can read your magnificent responses! :)