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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Working with Voices: Dreams

Previously, in my series completing the Working with Voices: Victim to Victor workbook…
~ Introduction
~

stars

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
~ Louisa May Alcott ~

My life goals…

“Close your eyes and think about what you want to achieve by working though this workbook. Spend at least thirty minutes simply thinking about where you want to be in your life.”

Several weeks ago, during the second week of my Hearing Voices Support Group, we completed this very same exercise. During that group we had considerably less than thirty minutes to think about where we would like to be in life, but I wrote the following dreams:

◊ To feel more connected to myself both physically and mentally
◊ To no longer be afraid of being homeless again
◊ To be able to talk to people without intense anxiety (making me look like a twat!)
◊ To acknowledge my achievements instead of constantly berating them
◊ To feel happiness again
◊ To see my writing published again
◊ Increase my confidence
◊ To no longer be isolated and alone
◊ To have a better relationship with my voices
◊ To love and be loved in return (cheers, Moulin Rouge!)
◊ To believe in myself
◊ To have a pet turtle (whom I shall name Magnus)
◊ To have a family
◊ To no longer be traumatized by abuse
◊ To be able to share my thoughts without fear of judgment, ridicule and humiliation

Now that I have had more time to contemplate, I would like to add the following to that list:

◊ To better manage my insomnia and sleeping patterns
◊ To build a stronger and more varied set of coping skills
◊ To become a functioning and contributing member of society
◊ To find a head space where I am not controlled by fear, negative thought or anxiety

If, in the future, I think of any further dreams I will add them to the above list alongside a notation of when it was added.

My goals for 2013…

“Then ask what would be realistic to achieve in one years’ time.”

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post in which I shared thirteen of my goals for 2013. As it fits neatly into this section of the workbook I have rewritten the thirteen goals, along with any updates of my progress (if there has been any).

1. Cross item one from the 101 things I want to do before I die list
Having narrowly missed out on this a few weeks ago (cheers poverty and anxiety!) this may (and I stress MAY) happen on July 13th…if all goes to plan! :p
2. Return to the Kings Domain so I can scream ‘Fuck you homelessness, I beat your ass!”
As item (1) involves travelling to Melbourne, this may (and I stress MAY) happen on July 14th…if all goes to plan! :p
3. Continue going to the Hearing Voices Support Group on a weekly basis
So far I’ve missed only one group this year and am actually looking forward (!) to attending on Friday after the break for Easter last week! :)
4. Keep working toward obtaining ongoing mental health support
I still haven’t found the courage to see a psychiatrist but I haven’t ruled it out, yet. I will also be doing more therapy focussed groups next term.
5. Start writing my novel(s) again
6. Smile more
7. Stop procrastinating about writing and sending emails
8. Expand my social networking presence
9. Go on a holiday
10. Make at least one new friend (in real-life)
11. See at least 6 films in the cinema
Still only seen the one. So now I have to see five films in eight months. Not looking good! :/
12. Write at least one blog post in every month of the year
January…check, February…check, March…check, April…check! Yep, all going well so far!
13. To stop being so hard on myself all the time and begin believing how seriously freaking awesome I am!
No change yet.

And as I am no longer constrained by the limitations of a Thursday Thirteen post, I would like to add:

14. To exchange a ‘hug’
Because it’s been far (FAR) too long since I was last hugged!

hugs

As it’s been so long since I hugged anyone I realised some research was necessary if I stand any chance of achieving this goal. I’m not sure if I’m capable of a “flying hug” just yet…perhaps that will be something to work toward in 2014! :p

~ Next ~
Nightmares


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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. :)