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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Bunch of Flowers: On rape and its aftermath…

Prologue: The day to end all days…

On July 7th 2007 I was drugged, physically assaulted and anally raped.

Normally on the anniversary of my rape I hide from it. I lose myself to a bottle of whisky and ‘punish’ myself with self harm. This year, I am trying not to fall back into these unhealthy coping mechanisms. This year, I wanted to talk about my rape, to bring it to the forefront of discussion. It is not a pleasant post, it is not an easy, happy, whimsical post. It is confronting. It is painful. It is everything most people chose not to read. But it is a post I believe needs to be written.

If the subject of rape is a little confronting to you, I don’t apologise. Like mental health, like homelessness, like suicide, self harm and poverty, we need to talk more about rape. For only by confronting the evil that is committed by man can we hope to end the scourge of violence that stalks our streets.

Bunch of Flowers…

zentangleflower“I could tell you ‘bout my weekend. That’s all it was. It’s a party, it’s some downtime, it’s a breather. That blew me apart like a supernova and left me on the bathroom floor. Feeling dirty, trying to scrape myself clean,”

July 2007, Adelaide

Whilst lost to the headiness of a manic episode, I found that the best way to get a woman’s attention was to slap her excellent bottom and await the reaction. Now guys, that is not advice you should follow because the only reaction any self-respecting woman will give to this action is:

a) SLAP!

b) Drink over the head…then SLAP!

c) PUNCH! Drink over the head…then SLAP!…as you try to get up!

But Immortal God Addy didn’t care because the world and everyone in it was his. However, immortality doesn’t exist outside of fiction or the delusions of a psychotic mind. No matter how powerful you feel it’s a short step to leave someone on that bathroom floor, feeling dirty and trying to scrape yourself clean.

Whilst out on the piss one night in pursuit of the feisty fillies who populate that strange South Australian city, I began to feel very strange myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now, that I had been drugged. I don’t know what drug had been slipped into my gin and tonic, maybe Rohypnol, maybe something else. All I know is that it made me feel weird. Confused. Tired. Where before I had been talking and playfully slapping excellent bottoms to my heart’s content, after imbibing the drug, I could barely stand. Staggering about that bar, I recall a man taking me under his wing and leading me out of the bar into the Adelaidian night. His face is forever shrouded by the drug addled haze but he was big, not exactly rippling muscles/at-the-gym-every-day big, but big as in could-do-with-losing-a-few-pounds big.

And for some reason that I have never figured out, he took me from that bar, to a motel, and gave me a bunch of flowers.

When I came to the following morning I was groggy, badly bruised and in a fair amount of pain. I’m used to bruises, I’ve inflicted enough on myself over the years, but these were different. I didn’t inflict these on myself so they were more painful, more invasive. I felt dirty, repulsive, degraded, insulted, weak, angry, shameful, guilty, confused, hollow, guilty, and in pain…I knew men could give other men bunches of flowers, but I had never, not even for a moment, thought that someone would give me a bunch of blood-red, sickly smelling flowers.

The man was nowhere to be seen. There was little evidence in the motel room I was in to indicate anyone had been staying there long-term. No clothes. No toiletries. Nothing. It was just me and the grimness of a seedy hotel. Gathering myself together I left the room and painfully walked back to where I had been staying. As soon as I got there I stripped myself naked, examined my scrapes, cuts and bruises in the mirror and staggered into the shower. I stood – nay, lay on the floor of the shower – for hours, slowly scrubbing my flesh raw, slowly trying to eradicate any evidence of the flowers that had been thrust upon me. It didn’t occur to me at the time to go to the police. It didn’t occur to me that cleaning myself would erase any trace of the man. All I wanted to do at the time was cleanse myself. I was dirty. I was disgusting. I was weak. And with my flesh still raw and dripping wet I took a knife and cut myself to ease the pain (the irony of self harm). But it wasn’t just to ease the pain. It was to punish myself for being weak. For allowing someone to force their bunch of flowers on me without even putting up a fight.

How could I? Whatever drug had been given to me eradicated any fight left in me. And this is something subsequent meetings with psychiatrists, counselors and other health-related professionals have failed to grasp. Why didn’t you fight back? They asked. Why didn’t you do something to stop him?

One quote I’ve always remembered from the great Methos is “Just because I choose not to fight doesn’t mean I don’t know how.” I may look like someone who, if he slapped an excellent bottom, would produce only the feelings of a feather landing on her flesh – but if I want to, I could leave a lovely hand print or two. I can, only if necessary and/or provoked, defend myself and/or others with a violent Spike-like relish. It’s very un-Addy of me not to. That night however, because of the drug, I was unable to.

Once the bruises and cuts were tended to I sat on the floor for what felt like hours. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to do. I cried, certainly, huge, blubbering, caterwauling, cries that filled the room and left my eyes red raw and cheeks sodden wet. At some point I stopped crying (probably when I had nothing left to release) and decided the only option was to take my mind off things. I slowly walked (because it was still painful to walk) to the nearest internet cafe to take my mind off things. I perused the kimnyk sites, soothing my soul with the passion that burned brightly within it. I looked up self-help sites. I looked up sites about being given bunches of flowers. I checked my email – and almost immediately wished I hadn’t. For Kathy (my ever abusive ex-girlfriend) had decided to launch a fresh attack on me. I was selfish. I was rotten. I was responsible for her stress. I was useless, worthless, nothing. The very last thing I needed at that moment was more attack and abuse. So I severed contact. I deleted my email account so she couldn’t contact me again, changed my phone number, walked to the nearest park and, with everything bubbling to the surface, threw myself into a tree.

When I came to, I decided I should probably go to the hospital. After all, it’s not everyday you knock yourself unconscious after being given a bunch of flowers. I said nothing of the flowers I’d been given. The cuts which accompanied the bruises and welts made it easy: I was just another naughty self harmer. What was the cute nurse gonna do, spank me? She gave me a stern scolding, the contact number of the crisis mental health team and sent me on my way.

On my way home from the hospital I thought about telling people what had happened, but who? Mae was too closely entwined with Kathy’s life, and the last person I wanted to know of this latest event was Kathy. She already thought me weak and repulsive, selfish and rotten. To her, I was nothing. A non entity no human being could ever care about. The simple truth of the matter is, she would have adored the bunch of flowers that had been bestowed on me. She would have seen them as the beautiful payback she believed I deserved for not helping or caring about people enough. Maybe that’s what they were for anyway. A punishment. A life lesson from Him up There. Grace, also, was too close to Kathy. Plus, they were both female. I felt degraded and emasculated enough as it was. My family, nope, not going there. Psychologists, too expensive. Mensline, I tried, but couldn’t. It was like Kathy had said, I was weak and worthless and I was like a cancer, I deserved it and so much more – she had already taught me what to do anyway:

You must always hide your problems and pain from the world. It’s what we must do, always make people happy and never share our problems. Ever.

So I spoke to no-one about what happened. As per usual, I bottled it up, refusing to let anyone in on the pain I was feeling. I returned to my motel, turned on the television (the Rugrats Go Wild movie) and cried myself to sleep. Over the coming days my mania waned. I’ve always cited the bunch of flowers I was given as causing this. My time at my hotel came to an end. I began sleeping in a park in the suburb of North Adelaide. My bruised, beaten body barely finding any comfort on the rough, hard earth. As the days progressed I self harmed as a matter of ritual. I cut. I hit. I burnt. I did whatever I could to stop the emotional pain from overwhelming me. I had never, in my entire life, felt as isolated as I did during those days. From those dark, lonely, pain riddled days, three memories stand out:

1. A night in Ararat that I spent in tears, desperately trying to make sense of the previous few weeks. I needed a hug. I needed a friend. I needed Grace.

2. Sitting on the balcony of the flat which was home for a while in Melbourne, Grace’s number lit up on the screen of my phone. She would be angry that I had gone dark. Angry that I had cancelled my email and changed my phone number. I convinced myself she wouldn’t understand, that she was, after all, on Kathy’s side. Anyway, I couldn’t connect the call. She was about to leave for a six month student-exchange in Mexico and I didn’t want to upset her trip. Like Kathy had drilled into me; you have to make everyone happy, always, and never share your problems under any circumstances.

3. The opening and closing scenes of the Doctor Who episode Gridlock, which reminded me even my hero can feel pain:


Over the coming months, the bruising healed and all that was left to indicate a bunch of flowers had been bestowed upon me was the scars cut deep into my brain. But even that was doing it’s utmost to protect me. For reasons unknown to me it blocked out the event and I found myself lost to a deep depression, unable to work out how or why I had fallen into it. Then, as things do when you suffer from mental illness, everything got too much.

October 2007, The Dandenong rainforest.

That wacky day of fun!

By the time I made it to the hospital after my suicide attempt, my brain had finished it’s subconscious act of protection. In order to protect me from the bunch of flowers, my brain had liberally doused my mind with fertilizers and all that was left were the fallen petals around my sweat ravaged bed sheets every morning.

August 2009, Alice Springs.

It was a full year before everything that had happened came flooding back. For some reason – which I believe was triggered by the abuse a friend received – my brain unleashed that bunch of flowers back into full bloom. I’ve never been able to figure out why my brain was so evil. Why it stopped protecting me. The colours, smells and feelings the flowers had provided me came rushing back, affecting everything I had cultivated in my ‘new life’. My job suffered. My relationship with Diane suffered. My friendship with Grace suffered. My mental health, unsurprisingly, suffered. The impact was immense. As I ran from the stream of petals my mind was unleashing, my life collapsed. My medication was tripled. I lost friends. I nearly lost my job. I made stupid decisions that I could never come back from. I tried to tell Diane what was happening, what had happened, but I couldn’t muster the words to describe the pain, so as per usual, I suffered in silence. After all, how could I talk about what had happened to me? Who would believe me? Who, on this earth, would believe that a man can be the recipient of a bunch of flowers? It is, according to the mainstream media, the domain of women. Only they can be given bunches of flowers. Men; we’re meant to be strong, defiant, unrelenting in our masculinity. Silence was the only option – even though it increased my pain and made everything ten times worse, the reality, admitting to what had happened, would have been far worse.

November 2009, Melbourne.

A year after everything came flooding back. A year of wallowing in memory, in pain and in torment, and the bunch of flowers was just another event I had to deal with. Another event that I should never speak of. Until I became lost to homelessness, to delusion and psychosis. Until my mental health collapsed to the point that the only thing I could do was come clean and let people know what had happened to me, which I did, on my trusty blog.

“I’ve got a tattoo, of a bleeding heart and a moon inside a sun. I wear it everywhere, it’s a part of me and how I see everyone,”

Epilogue: Long-standing scars…

Like all traumas, being raped has left long-standing scars. It’s doubtful I’ll ever return to Adelaide, for example. Smells (BO), tastes (gin and tonic), sounds (someone chewing gum) and vision (the river Torrens) all remind me of the trauma that befell me. My trust and intimacy issues have been badly damaged. I can’t have sex. I can’t kiss people. I even struggle to hug them. In fact, any physical contact, especially from men, reminds me of what happened. I can’t deal with people being behind me; so much so that I will stop if someone is approaching and wait for them to pass before continuing. I have recurrent nightmares about what happened that prevent me from sleeping soundly. And I have become a misandrist; a card-carrying hater of all things man and masculine.

To say that being raped is a defining moment of my life would be an understatement. It has defined me as a man (weak, worthless, a walkover) and rendered me unable to love myself in any way, shape or form. Being raped made me hate myself on a level I never thought possible. I have always blamed myself for being raped, even though deep down I know it wasn’t my fault. It was a random moment. Something I had no control over. A man – a sick, twisted, weak man – took it upon himself to drug me, assault me and forcibly rape me. And in the process, destroy me.

Over the years I have tried to talk to people about what happened but few have believed me. They believe I am making it up, that it is the product of my mentally ill mind. But I know it happened. I know what befell me. Psychiatrists laughed at me, counselors downplayed the incident. It was only my first support worker, whom I trusted, that believed me and understood the pain it had caused me. I have never spoken to friends or family about what happened to me. They know, as they read my blog, but I don’t think they fully understand just how much impact the event had on my life. I don’t think anyone can understand that, no matter how concisely I write about it on the blog.

The 7th July 2007 will always be forefront in my memory. It is a day of pain. A day of unimaginable torment. It is the day I ceased being Andrew.

~ The quotes from this post were taken from the song “Fortune’s Wheel”, by the always incredible Serena Ryder ~

Note: ‘Bunch of Flowers‘ was written in Nov. 2009. The version that appears in this post is a heavily edited, updated version.


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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.