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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Day 10: What is the best thing about your mental illness(es)?

For the tenth day in the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge, the prompt asks:
What is the best thing in regards to your mental illness?

best things

In all honesty, whether I can see the ‘good’ things that my mental illness(es) have brought my life depends on the day. Some days I absolutely hate them and all the pain, devastation and isolation they’ve brought my life; but others I worship all of the things that would never have happened were it not for my mental illness(es).

If it weren’t for my manic phase in June/July 2007, I would never have walked into a bar and slapped Samantha on her deliciously round posterior. If I hadn’t committed such an uncharacteristic act, I would never have had the pleasure to become her friend or undertake the soulful exploration that we did.

Also, if it weren’t for my mental illness(es), I would be a far less empathetic person. For I truly believe that these illness(es) I’ve been forced to live with have given me a far better understanding not only of the world, but of the strengths and foibles of the humans who populate it.

However, if I had to pick the best thing about my mental illness, it would be the opportunity it has given me to help others; whether it is through this blog, from speaking in public or just having the chance to share my story in support groups.

The knowledge that I am helping people realise they are not alone in their experiences makes the hell that often descends on my moods more than worthwhile.


Days 08 & 09: All of life’s most important events

After careful consideration, I have decided to join day’s eight and nine of the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge into one post. The prompts ask what age were you diagnosed/at what age do you think your symptoms began and what are some of the important events in your life that may have effected your mental illness(es) for the worse or better.

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled Your Life As You Remember It, which was a chronological timeline of my life; all of the ups, all of the downs and all of the important developmental stages of each of my mental illnesses. It is a fairly comprehensive post that, if you haven’t already read, you should do so if you’d like to get to know me more!

Shortly afterwards, as part of the Mi Recovery course I undertook, I had to draw a timeline of my life’s major events. These hand drawn images were originally posted here, but I’ve decided to repost them today for a number of reasons.

Firstly, they fit perfectly with the prompts for days eight and nine. Secondly, when they were originally posted I reduced their size significantly, so much so that it was impossible to read the hand written text explaining each stage; an error that I have corrected today.

And thirdly, because I’m rather proud of my timeline (especially page 04!) and will take any excuse to showcase it! :p

Title Page | © Addy

Title Page | © Addy

Page 01 | © Addy

Page 01 | © Addy

Page 02 | © Addy

Page 02 | © Addy

Page 03 | © Addy

Page 03 | © Addy

Page 04 | © Addy

Page 04 | © Addy

Page 05 | © Addy

Page 05 | © Addy

~ Clicking each image will enlarge the photo ~
~ Apologies for the slightly dodgy artwork and photo quality ~
~ Please note that some of the handwritten text has been digitally removed to protect identities ~

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Day 06: Do you have a family history of mental health issues?


My sister was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and OCD when she was twelve years old; illnesses that began when she was nine years old as a result of a leotard (and subsequent comments from her class-mates) she had to wear during a school-play. Following her diagnosis she was hospitalized for many years and – despite periods of relative normality – she continues to suffer from her illnesses to this day. She is currently homeless, somewhere in the UK, battling for the treatment and support she deserves.

In addition to this, both my parents have battled their own mental health demons and numerous relatives I’m too young to have met had their issues to deal with, including a Great Aunt who spent most of her life in a psychiatric institution as a result of (if memory serves) post natal depression.

Then there is my ‘other family’ – my tribe – that is made up of all the bloggers I religiously follow and the wonderful people who frequent Free Voices Speak Out and the other support groups I attend; all of whom battle their own mental health issues on a day-to-day basis; all of whom understand only too well the pain that mental illness can cause to someones life.

But even though all of my family’s lives have been affected by mental health, none of us have rested on our laurels.

During the mid-1990s my parents established MH Carers; a local charity for the carers of people with Mental Health issues. This involved fortnightly meetings, inspirational speakers, day trips, evening excursions and monthly newsletters; all to ease the burden of those whose lives had been affected by the mental health of people they cared for. This charity ran – funded by grants and donations – until late last year, having helped thousands of people affected by mental illness.

In spite of her illness, my sister has written of her struggles with mental health, whilst my tribe frequently speak publicly of their battles in an effort to raise awareness of what people with mental health problems have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

I’ve long been immensely proud of my family’s continual efforts to raise awareness of mental illness and their attempts to help others affected by it. It’s all too easy to withdraw into our own worlds when it comes to mental health, but my family (be it by blood or by tribe) understand all too well that talking about mental illness is the only way we can normalise it and in turn, eliminate the grotesque stigma attached to it.


Day 05: Nature, nurture, a mix, or something else?

Today’s prompt in the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge asks:

Do you believe nature, nurture, a mix, or something else has an impact on mental health?

__Biopsychosocial Model (CAUSES)

~ The Biopsychosocial Model I created for the ’causes’ of my mental health issues ~

I believe in the Biopsychosocial Model; which means I believe there are biological, psychological and social causes that impact on one’s mental health. We are, after all, just a combination of our unique and plentiful life experiences.

For those unfamiliar with the biopsychosocial model (BPS), it is a model that was created by psychiatrist George L. Engel in 1977 that posited a combination of biological, psychological and social factors play a significant role in human development. Which is in contrast to the traditional model of medicine that suggests every disease can be explained in terms of an underlying deviation from normal function; such as a pathogen, developmental abnormality or injury.

Earlier this year, as part of the Mi Recovery program I undertook, I wrote a post that shared my own Biopsychosocial Model in relation to the causes, symptoms and treatment of my mental health issues. This exercise was an enlightening experience and one I would whole heartedly recommend to others looking to understand the whys and wherefores of their mental health.