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: One confession

The final day of the 10 Day Blogging Challenge asks for one confession.

bike

Many years ago, when I but a wee young thing cycling around the city of Melbourne, my (allegedly) slow cycling speed earned the ire of another cyclist. In my opinion, I didn’t think I was cycling abnormally slowly, I was just merrily trundling along the city street on my way to do a spot of shopping in the CBD. But he was adamant that I wasn’t cycling fast enough, so began yelling at me to “speed up” whilst incessantly ringing his bell and hurling expletives in my general direction. In order to cessate his anger I, on numerous occasions, rode closer to the curb in order to give him ample room to overtake, which he never did.

This flow of abuse carried on until we were both stopped by a red light. This incensed him even more, as he demanded to know why I’d forced him to slam on his brakes and risk running into the back of my ‘crappy little bike’. I pointed out that it was customary to stop at red lights, to which he responded with yet more expletives and rode on through the red light, weaving precariously through the (abruptly stopping) oncoming traffic.

Shaking my head at his idiocy (and insolence) I carried on cycling when the light turned green and tried to put the whole unpleasant event out of my mind. However, the abuse he’d been hurling had triggered my social anxiety and no matter how hard I tried to relax, found it impossible to do so. After a couple of stressful hours perusing the shops I was returning to my bicycle, still frustrated by this man’s actions, when I noticed his bike was chained up a few yards away from me.

What possessed me to do what I did next still escapes me. Normally I’m not the sort of man to allow his anger to overwhelm his actions, nor am I the sort of person to seek revenge for crimes committed against me, but I couldn’t get past the simple fact that this man’s actions had ruined my day. So I glanced around, wandered over to the man’s bike and nonchalantly let down both of his tyres before continuing on my merry way with a mischievous grin on my face.

Now, I’d like it to be known in the telling of this story that I’m not advocating people allow their anger to control their actions. What I did that day was wrong. It was irresponsible, immature, downright childish and just a wee bit naughty.

But boy, was it satisfying! :p

 


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Why are mentally-ill children tied up and tormented?

“If he was extra bad they would then chuck him on the floor there and then and put him in like a hand restraint, usually with his arms behind his back. And two people would sit side by side, sometimes with a towel over his head.”

In Australia, one of the leading news and current affairs shows is called ‘7.30’. Tonight, they featured a story that revealed a new report is warning Australian children in psychiatric care are suffering from out-dated practices of seclusion and restraint. In a country such as Australia – which is often referred to as ‘the lucky country’ – treating anyone in the manner described in this report is deplorable, let alone children as young as seven years old.

Hopefully this report will help bring the abuse of those in psychiatric care to the public eye and force the government and health services to change their archaic policies and adopt a more therapeutic, understanding approach.

cats

Clicking the above image will transport you to the 7.30 website, where you can watch a video of the report

“Just about every parent knows the angst of having a child throw a noisy tantrum in a supermarket or on a crowded street.

But some families struggle daily with much more serious behavioural problems, especially when their children suffer from mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

How to deal with those children is a major dilemma for health workers too. In some extreme cases, children with psychiatric disorders are physically restrained and placed in seclusion – something that can be deeply traumatic.

A new report has highlighted the unacceptable use of those practices on disturbed children and health professionals say it must stop.”

Watch the complete video of the report or read the transcript here >>>


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Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 08: The Close Friend

As the year quickly speeds toward its timely end, I’ve decided to polish off the outstanding challenges that I’ve commenced over the last twelve months so I can begin 2014 anew. One of these is the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge (devised by Bold Kevin over on Voices of Glass).

When I left the challenge I had reached day seven, which means today I pick up with day eight: If you had a friend who spoke to you or treated you the way you speak to and treat yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend and why?

theclosefriend

This is actually a tough prompt for me to write about, not because the answer eludes me, but because the answer is so painfully obvious it’s almost unbearable to admit to.

Most readers of my blog will know that I was once the victim of an abusive relationship; a relationship that cost me everything in my life, a relationship that continues to haunt my life seven years later.

So to admit to being in a second abusive relationship is extremely hard for me to do, especially as the abuser in this relationship is myself. But no matter how hard I try to deny the obvious, the evidence is staring me in the face every single day.

On any given day I put myself down, make myself feel bad about myself, call myself names, play mind games, humiliate myself, make myself feel guilty whenever possible and deny the abuse is happening; often blaming external sources for the grief I am bringing to myself. My abusive side forces me to control what I do, who I see, what I read and where I go, thus limiting my outside involvement and preventing me from forging new relationships. The abuse is so bad that I am frequently afraid of myself, especially when threats of self-harm and/or suicide come in to play. In fact, the abuse is so extreme that I frequently feel like a prisoner in my own mind; a servant to the whims of a controlling overlord.

All of which are signifiers of an abusive relationship.

So how long would I allow a friend to speak to me/treat me in this way?

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t put up with being treated this way for any period of time, for having been in one abusive relationship there’s no way in hell I want to be in another.

But the fact I believe I deserve to be treated this way makes me think I would put up with it.

And I don’t know what to do about that.

~◊~

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 | Day 06 | Day 07 |

 


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Your life as you remember it…

What follows, being a timeline of my life from birth to present, is a post I have been writing for nearly a year. Every time I’ve sat down to finish it I’ve found myself triggered by the memories of various events and incidents I’ve experienced, triggering which led to me being able to complete only a few sentences at a time before retreating to the safety of ‘distraction’.

As I embark on pulling my block back to basics, I felt now was the opportune time to finish this timeline so it could be used as a source of inspiration for future posts, as well as a reference point for myself (and others) to see how incidents are connected and the chain of events that led to my eventual social isolation and mental ill-health.

This, is my journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes along the way!)

My journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes!)

life

~Sometime in late February 1978~
After a romantic candlelit dinner and several glasses of wine, Addy’s parents head to the bedroom…I won’t give any further details, save for saying on this night that glint in his parent’s slightly tipsy eyes became the embryo who became the baby who became the horny teenager who became the passionate man who sits here today!

~28 November 1978~
Addy bursts out of his mother’s womb screaming into the well-lit maternity unit, as a kindly nurse smacks his posterior he tries to get his bearings in this strange new world devoid of comfort, warmth and embryonic fluid. Little did he know what this crazy planet had in store for him…

Continue reading


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Coping Skills: The Negative Thought Challenge

In a recent post I shared a “Coping Skills” worksheet that I obtained via Indigo Daya’s website. One of these skills was a ‘thought challenge’, wherein you write down all your negative thoughts and then make a list as to why they may not be true.

Given that I could write a dissertation on why my negative thoughts are all valid criticisms of myself, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to take on this challenge, whatever happens as a result!

negative thoughts 1

Part I: My negative thoughts…

Note: I’m not going to write every negative thought I’ve ever had in my life (otherwise this post would win an award for the longest blog post in the history of the world!) so I’ll focus only on the last twelve hours.

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m worthless
  • I’m useless
  • I have no passion(s)
  • I’m a waste of space
  • My voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone I talk to
  • I’m pathetic
  • I’m weak
  • I’m weak because I can’t just ‘get over’ the abuse I received
  • I’m unintelligent
  • I’m the most selfish human being who has ever lived in the history of the world
  • I’m the world’s worst kisser
  • I’m the world’s worst lover
  • I go down on women too much
  • I care too much about my partner orgasming
  • I’m not (sexually) selfish enough
  • I should just die
  • I don’t deserve to be alive
  • My life is pointless
  • I am pointless
  • I’m a terrible writer
  • I’m a terrible blogger
  • I’m a terrible emailer
  • I’m a terrible photographer
  • I’m a terrible everythinger
  • My photography is uninspiring, boring and monotonous
  • I use too many commas!
  • I use too many exclamation marks!!
  • My shoulder hair makes people want to vomit
  • I’m the fattest fattiest fatty who has ever lived
  • My weight is contagious
  • My self-harm is contagious
  • My illness(es) are contagious
  • I’m contagious
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’m evil
  • I’m grotesque
  • I’m insane
  • I’m too depressing
  • I’m too shy
  • I’m too anxious
  • I’m boring
  • I deserve to live alone
  • I deserve to die alone
  • I deserve to live alone and in pain
  • I deserve to die alone and in pain
  • My mind is repulsive
  • My body is repulsive
  • Heck, I’m repulsive
  • I’m a terrible friend
  • I don’t deserve to have any friends
  • No-body likes me
  • Everyone hates me
  • I should just go and eat worms!
  • It’s my fault I was abused
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My arse is too hairy
  • It’s my fault I was raped
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My mental illness(es) are a result of my own inability to cope with life’s stressors
  • Hell, my mental illness(es) are a figment of my imagination!
  • Homelessness is all I deserve out of life
  • I don’t like Harry Potter, thus I have no taste
  • My hugs are suffocating
  • I’m talentless
  • I’m a blob
  • I’m the blob!
  • My thoughts mean there is something wrong with me
  • My desires mean there is something wrong with me
  • My dreams mean there is something wrong with me
  • My thoughts/desires/dreams mean I am evil
  • There’s just something wrong with me.
  • I’m lazy
  • I don’t work hard enough
  • I don’t work hard enough to change
  • I don’t sacrifice enough
  • My opinions are invalid and deserve mockery and humiliation

Part II: Why they may not be true…

…and this is why I’m so terrible at thinking positively about myself.

All the bolded thoughts above were said to me by my abuser, those bolded and italicized were said to me frequently. As no-one believed she was doing anything wrong and I was told by many people I ‘deserved’ what she was doing…my mind concluded that they must be true, otherwise, why did I deserve being told them?

Given that the majority of these thoughts had been present prior to the abuse (some I specifically told her about), all the abuse did was make rational the irrational fears my social anxiety causes me to think.

And once a fear has been rendered rational…it’s almost impossible to deny as being untrue.

But, in the spirit of the challenge…

Is my photography really uninspiring, boring and monotonous? Although they never reach triple figures, whenever I post a ‘weekly photo challenge’ post, more often than not I receive dozens of ‘likes’ and twenty odd plus comments. Unless all these people are suffering from mass delusion, there must be something to like about my photography, isn’t there?

Ditto for my writing! People are often telling me how inspiring and enjoyable they find my blog. Plus, would an editor spend weeks helping me polish a short story and then publish it in a nationwide magazine if it was truly bad?

As for not making enough sacrifices, frankly, what THE FUCK?! I sacrificed my home, family, friends, uni course and future plans in order to move to the other side of the world purely because I loved someone. When my abuser was suffering from Glandular Fever I phoned in sick for work several times purely to look after her, in fact, for over a month I become her 24/7 nurse-maid, never once putting myself first throughout that entire period. Before that, I spent three years putting my life on hold for the benefit of my employer and staff, regularly working in excess of 60-80 hour weeks without overtime, cancelling night classes, social events and social groups in order to do so. Even though I live in abject poverty, I still find money for monthly donations to charitable organisations and have frequently done all I can, when I can, to help whomever I can (including complete strangers!) Even when I was homeless I would regularly give other homeless people money, clothes, food and blankets that I couldn’t afford to part with. Does that really sound like someone not willing to sacrifice things for the health, wellbeing and happiness of others?

You could even use the above to argue over the validity of my alleged selfishness…but the fact I wasn’t there for Grace when she needed a friend instantly renders all this evidence ineligible and one hundred percent proves my selfishness.

However, what about the negative thoughts relating to deserving to be abused? Astute readers amongst you will have connected what I was told following the emotionally abusive relationship to these thoughts. I was literally told I deserved it, ergo it must be true. But the rape? No-one told me I deserved to be raped…and I have no logical argument other than ‘guilt’ as to why I think this is true. But think it I do.

So what if I don’t like Harry Potter? There are so many better young adult fictional series (His Dark Materials, The Dark is Rising, Hunger Games, Narnia) than the tale of this young wizard. Or rather, in my opinion there are so many better young adult fictional series! Just because my opinion differs from others does not make me tasteless, it just makes me different. And while we’re at it…I don’t deserve mockery and humiliation for sharing an opinion, no-one does!

Ditto for all the my desires/dreams means there is something wrong with me thoughts. Just because I have cravings, needs and desires that are considered ‘deviant’ and/or ‘weird’ does not mean that they, or I, am wrong. It just means I’m different. Where’s the problem with that?

As for everything else…I’m afraid I can’t come up with reasons why they may not be true.

The simple fact is I have been living a socially isolated life for the last six years (give or take six months), so if I really am a decent person, deserving of friends, company and relationships, someone who doesn’t deserve to live and die alone, why is it that none of the efforts I undertake to create real-life connections work?

It is impossible to live alone for as long I have without believing that this is all you deserve in life.

The same argument can be used for the kissing, hugs and sex negative thoughts. There is a reason why I don’t get to do any of these things…and it can’t just be because of severe abuse trauma rendering me untrusting and fearful of intimacy. Can it?

The simple fact is, for every single item on that list I could come up with at least a dozen individual reasons for why they’re true. These reasons would be backed up by comments multiple people have told me throughout my life.

As I’ve said in the past, the more you are told something, the more you believe that something to be true. When all you’ve had in your life is negativity, insults, criticism, isolation and abuse…how can you possibly believe you’re a good person?

negative thinking 2

Part III: What would I tell a friend who thinks like this…

If any of my friends thought like this I’d put them over my knee and spank some sense into them!

But once I’d been released from prison on assault charges (unless the spanking had been consensual, that is :p) I would sit them down and tell them how unhealthy it was to think like that, how brilliant, beautiful and awesome they are and how these thoughts were the product of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and (possible) mental health and abuse trauma related issues.

I would then ask them what I could do to help them think more realistically about themselves. If that meant surreptitiously sending stories to magazines to prove how awesome a writer they are, let them cry on my shoulder, help them organize counseling to defeat their guilt over abuse and/or just spending time with them doing things that make them feel good, I would, without any hesitation.

In fact, I have done all of those things (and a lot more besides) to help friends defeat their demons in the past!

Part IV: Conclusion

Over the years I have exasperated psychologists, counselors and therapists with my negative thinking. Every time any of them issued compliments, positive reinforcement or adulation, my mind would immediately source from my history of bullying, abuse and criticism several comments that proved they were lying. There have been times when these psychologists, counselors and therapists have told me they can see this process occurring; from the moment they issue the praise to the moment I discard it as an irrelevant lie.

None of them have been able to help me find a way to combat this cycle of thinking.

No matter how hard I try to break free, no matter how many times I tell myself I’m wrong, no matter how often I can see the awesome bastard that I am, the damage from all the bullying, abuse and isolation seems to run too deep to be overcome.

And if you don’t believe me, if you think I’m just being lazy and not working hard enough, go and spend six years on your own, living on the streets, frequently being physically and emotionally abused whilst receiving no praise, positive reinforcement, human contact, touch or compliments…then get back to me and tell me how easy it is to think ‘positively’ about yourself and your life.

However much I would like to think less negative thoughts, it is going to take years of intense work to fix the damage caused by abuse, homelessness and isolation.

But, as with everything, I’ve already begun to work on it. This challenge is part of me moving toward fixing the damage, as are the social and support groups I’m trying to attend, as is this blog and so many other skills, therapies and treatments that I’m currently undertaking.

It would be easier to lose myself to these thoughts, to let them overcome me, but I refuse to let them simply because there is no way in hell I’m going to let my abuser win.

I’m way too freaking awesome to let that happen!

(Even if I don’t believe this most of the time!)


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The A-Z of my emotional triggers

The other day I was reading an article dealing with triggers and their predictability. Last week, I was talking to a counselor about my voices’ triggers. The month before that, I had another detailed triggers conversation with a different counselor. In fact, for the last several years I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had regarding triggers.

Which isn’t wholly unexpected, I suppose, given that any one trigger can send me careering into a near comatose state that can last for weeks on end. Knowing what triggers these states is vital to my recovery, for only by knowing them can I build coping strategies to deal with and move past them.

So, as I had little else to do this afternoon, I decided to see if I could come up with at least one primary trigger for every letter of the alphabet. Aside from a small cheat (which I’m sure you’ll spot) I was successful in my endeavour.

Although I’m not sure having so many triggers is something to be proud of! ;)

THEA-ZOFMYTRIGGERS

ADELAIDE, ALICE SPRINGS, APPLE PIE and AMERICAN PIE
Adelaide is where I was raped; Alice Springs was a nightmare from (almost) beginning to end; Apple Pie was being baked whilst I was assaulted in a boarding house; American Pie was part of one of the worst abusive tantrums my ex threw.

BRUNSWICK STREET, BOARDING HOUSES and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Brunswick Street was where I lived during the abusive relationship; Boarding Houses are some of the worst establishments in the history of the world and I would rather sleep on the street for the rest of eternity than have to deal with living in one again; Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of my favourite shows of all time and one I’ve seen every episode of at least 12 times each) is a major reminder of my abusive relationship and can no longer be watched under any circumstances! I miss it :(

CIGARS, COLLINGWOOD FOOTBALL CLUB and CARLTON (the entire suburb)
Cigars were the favored smoking choice of my rapist, he STANK of them; supporters of the Collingwood Football Club beat the crap out of me whilst I was homeless; Carlton is the suburb where my abuser lived;

DANDENONG RAINFOREST, THE DARK KNIGHT
The Dandenong Rainforest is where I once attempted suicide; The Dark Knight is a reminder not only of Alice Springs but of one of my biggest failures/fuck-ups.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE
This basically means anything dealing with emotional abuse. If there’s a trigger warning I might be able to deal with it. If there isn’t a trigger warning it can send me spiralling into chaos.

FROZEN (Tegan and Sara)
Frozen was one of Stephanie’s favourite songs.

GIN AND TONIC and GRACE DARLING HOTEL
Gin and Tonic was my drink of choice the night I was raped, I’d never really drunk it before, I’ve never touched it since!; the Grace Darling Hotel was my ‘local’ from end 2006 to mid 2007, I wrote most of one novel and half of another there and it is my favourite pub in Melbourne, I just can’t ever go back :(

HARRY POTTER and HOMELAND
My abuser was a big Harry Potter fan and forced me to watch all the movies (up til year 4 at the time) so this entire phenomenon is a massive reminder of that relationship; when I first tried to watch Homeland I was triggered by the first episode and have never been able to watch it since.

I TRY (Macy Gray)
I Try is a song that reminds me of a bittersweet time of my life

JACK’S MANNEQUIN
My abuser’s favourite band. This trigger causes serious problems as the group features heavily in one of my favorite episodes of One Tree Hill and their music several times on the soundtrack!

KISSING
Attacking my kissing was one of my abusers favorite hobbies. It wasn’t just every now and then. It was CONSTANTLY! To say I have developed a complex about it is an understatement. It was a major issue in my relationship after the abuse and has affected many other things, including my self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem.

LYGON STREET
Lygon Street is the primary street in Carlton (see above).

MXXXXXXXXXXX and MELBOURNE
The XXXXXs are because the first is a person; Melbourne, because it treated me like a piece of shit – even though it’s still my favorite city in Australia.

NEVER AGAIN (Kelly Clarkson) and NORTH MELBOURNE
Never Again was a big hit in mid-2007 and reminds me of the manic phase and rape; North Melbourne is where I used to work.

OPINIONS
Whenever I tried to share an opinion my abuser would attack, insult, abuse and publicly humiliate so I learned to shut up quickly! I am now paranoid about sharing opinions in case people will react in the same way.

PHOTOGRAPHY
My photography was frequently and repeatedly attacked by my abuser. Not having a camera is not the only reason I don’t take photographs any more!

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
A frequent destination for my abuser and I. Many incidents of public humiliation, abuse and manipulation occurred here.

RAPE
Do I really need to explain this one?

SXXXXXXXXXXX AND SELF-HARM
Again, the XXXXXs are because they are hiding a name – a name that can render me self-harming and suicidal upon hearing it; Self-harm, especially implicit discussion and images of, can be a major trigger depending on my state of mind.

TALKING TO PEOPLE
“Your voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone you talk to. You should kill yourself.” For someone with social anxiety who had recently suffered a mental breakdown, this was one of the worst things she could have said. Once described as one of the most vicious and cruel things a counsellor of mine had ever heard.

UNEXPECTED SONG (Bernadette Peters)
A song I can no longer listen to because it was one of my abuser’s favourite songs and became a personal ‘anthem’ of that time of my life.

VICTIM BLAME MENTALITY
Articles dealing with, actual victim blaming and/or discussion of can be a massive trigger because of the amount of victim blaming I’ve received.

WOULD YOU LIKE THAT? I THINK YOU WOULD”
A sentence said to me by my rapist. It was once spoken by someone with a similar accent as I walked past them in a supermarket. I was rendered frozen in the foetal position and the staff had to call an ambulance to assist me. Exceedingly embarrassing!

(E)XTRA GUM
Okay, a little cheat, but I think I can be forgiven given my rapist chewed this brand of gum throughout the entire incident.

YXXXXXXXXXXX
Not a person’s name, but an establishment I used to work for. Bastards.

ZATHURA
A film that was playing whilst I wrote my suicide note in October 2007. I tried to watch it last year…highly unsuccessful.