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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What are your beliefs about mental illness?

Part of the Mi Recovery group I began last Tuesday is homework. Why I’m so excited about this I have no idea, as when I was but a pimply faced schoolboy I’d much rather have been exploring the nooks-and-crannies of Hyrule than analyzing the ins-and-outs of Illyria.

But today, given I have nothing better to do besides fantasizing about the possible punishments that may befall should I refuse to do my homework, I’m actually looking forward to my weekly homework assignments (and/or creating ludicrous excuses as to why I didn’t do it; such as…the mouse stole it to power their cheese making machine!)


HWQ1: What are some of your beliefs about mental illness?

In all honesty I actually have no idea how to answer this question. But as I’m unsure whether the group coordinator is legally allowed to issue lines, detention, something worse (or something better, depending on your proclivities) I figured I’d have to write something.

When I was a teenager, I believed mental illness was something to be scared of. That if you admitted your mental illness you’d be taken from those you love and locked in a dark, foreboding psychiatric institution for the rest of your days. I believed mental illness should be kept secret, that it was something to be ashamed of, that it made you weak, worthless, useless and a lesser human being.

So I valiantly kept my issues hidden whilst I embarked on a quest to prove to the world I was “normal”. For a while, this actually worked, but it wasn’t long before one of my fundamental beliefs about mental illness was proved correct: that it is not something that can be magically “pretended” away.

So by the time I was a late twenty-something, broken, beaten and bloodied from the ravages of breakdowns, discrimination and, well, beatings, my mental health beliefs had changed. I believed mental illness was a punishment; a reckoning for whatever crimes you had committed in this, or past lives. I believed that because of my mental illness I deserved to live an isolated life; a life devoid of love, nurture, happiness and human interaction. I believed that if I had friends, my illness would drag them into the quagmire of my soul and ruin them as it had ruined me.

But then, courtesy of a dream involving drum playing penguins, a tap-dancing bunyip and a cigarette smoking hot woman in a multi-coloured rainbow bikini, I was forced to challenge everything I believed. Why does someone with a mental illness deserve to be punished? Why does someone with a mental illness deserve a life devoid of hugs, kisses and cunnilingus? Why does a mental illness have to define someone’s personality? It didn’t – and never had – defined mine.

It was, like diabetes, bronchitis, toe fungus and cancer, just an illness.

So, as I entered my thirty-somethings, my beliefs changed and have remained stubbornly in place ever since. I believe mental illness is just that, an illness, brought on via a combination of our life experiences. It doesn’t control our actions. It doesn’t dictate how we live. And it certainly doesn’t define who we are.

A mental illness can be overcome. It can never be cured, I firmly believe that, but someone can stabilize their illness and learn ways to cope with the demons, darkness and deities that it unleashes.

I believe that no-one should be too ashamed to talk about their mental illness. Nor should they be labeled courageous or heroic if they do. I believe that discussing mental illness should be akin to talking about a cold, a sprained ankle or – heaven forbid – “man flu”; only, in the case of the latter, with less whining from the men and less eye rolling from the women.

I believe someone with a mental illness is a human being; nothing more, nothing less.

HWQ2: How did you learn those beliefs?

A combination of:


There was also:


And, just as obviously:


As well as:


But, most importantly:

ME | my desire to EDUCATE MYSELF| and my stubborn REFUSAL TO GIVE UP!

HWQ3: Discuss what you have learned this week with your support person…

Given that I don’t actually have a support person (i.e. friend/partner/family member) that I can discus my Mi Recovery group with, I shall have to share them here:

  • The Biopsychosocial Model and how it could play an important role in the ongoing management and development of coping strategies unique to my journey.
  • If “Recovery is not a solitary process, [but] a social process,” (Jacobson & Greenly, 2001) does this mean I stand bugger all chance of recovery? I believe so.
  • For me, the most important factors that assist recovery are: empowerment, education, (personal) responsibility, advocacy, sense of self, passion, courage, hope and Serena Ryder. The latter of whom has frequently assisted me with both courage and hope.
  • Not having a support person throughout the Mi Recovery group is going to make the next nine weeks exceedingly difficult. If anyone wishes to apply, please send your resumes to all those stray thoughts @ gmail dot com. I won’t be able to pay for airfares, but I will treat you to a weekly pot of peppermint tea (and, if you’re lucky, a pastry of your choosing! :p)



Sunday Stealing: Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does

Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser, who has now passed the baton to Mr Lance (who writes the blog Solitary Haze). Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes.

This week, we continue the epic 100 Question meme that began here and continued here.

Part 3: Past

Looking Into the Past: Union Station Square, Washington, DC

34. What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?

How many people are going to say ‘their birth’?

Well, I’m not. Yes, that moment was rather pivotal to my life but there are other things that have happened since that have been instrumental in the direction my life has taken. For a start, my sister’s mental illness had long-term ramifications in my development, my own mental illness has had a major effect on the course of my life and then there was the emotional abuse I received, several months that erased my sense of self in every way, shape and form.

Interesting that all of these, including my birth, were not caused by me.

35. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I have three: (in no particular order)

1) My inner strength
2) Writing this blog to share my experiences with the world
3) Standing up for what I believe in

36. What is your greatest regret?

Again, I have three: (in no particular order)

1) Letting Grace down in 2008.
2) Not telling Annie how I felt about her.
3) Turning down the uni course I was offered in order to emigrate to Australia. Good choice! :p

37. What is the most evil thing you have ever done?

Letting Grace down in 2008. For someone who had always prided himself on being there for people I have never, nor probably ever will, forgive myself for what I did during that period. Although there were extenuating circumstances, there is no excuse for letting a friend down and I deserved everything that happened as a result of my evilness.

I also abhor some of the things I do when I’m manic. Being someone who respects women (in my top ten list of people I know that I admire, respect and aspire to, nine of them are female) I hate that I illicit misogynistic tendencies during these times of insanity; such as seeing women as conquests or randomly slapping stranger’s posteriors. Someone once told me I shouldn’t feel bad about it as some ‘non manic’ guys treat women far, far worse – but I can’t help but hate myself for these periods.

Aside from these I consider myself more ‘naughty’ than ‘evil’. The sort of mischievousnessthat requires a smacked backside rather than criminal prosecution and incarceration!

38. When was the time you were the most frightened?

Here are three occasions: (in no particular order)

1) When I was being abused; at it’s worst I was too scared to leave the house, speak, or engage with society in any way, shape or form, as I was terrified about what the repercussions would be.
2) When I was five and trapped on the toilet by that Tolkein-esque spider!
3) When I was sleeping rough; there is little that can be said to truly describe the feeling of having nothing and no-one.

39. What is your best memory?

I will list three: (in no particular order)

1) Spooning with Sammi after helping her realise a dream (2008)
2) Canada (2000)
3) Wednesday 26 September, 2007.

And then direct you to read two posts in which I shared some of my greatest, happy memories:

Thirteen happy places
My life in happy memories

Part 4: Beliefs And Opinions

40. Are you basically optimistic or pessimistic?

At heart I am an optimist, but I’ve noticed throughout my life that many people mistake my realist streak for pessimism.

When I became homeless I stated that it would be years before I stood a chance of having a home and life again. This wasn’t because I was thinking negatively about what was in front of me, but because I assessed the situation realistically; 10-12 year waiting list for public housing, unsupported mental illness, isolation, no money or income…it would have been ridiculous of me to believe anyone could resolve these issues in a couple of weeks.

My abuser would often hone in on this and state I was lazy, selfish, negative and not working hard enough. Principally because I wasn’t dancing, going out on the piss, making new friends, learning how to drive, engaging in photography sessions or covering shifts at a job I’d quit twelve months earlier. Whereas I was positively looking forward to doing all of these things, and more, once I’d recovered from the glandular fever I was suffering from at the time.

41. What is your greatest fear?

Being trapped on a plane that is transporting hundreds of female psychiatrists, doctors, dentists, journalists and academics to an International Health Conference where I am the keynote speaker delivering a lecture on Arachnophobia. As such, the cargo hold is full of poisonous spiders – all of whom escape after a nasty period of turbulence breaks open their containers!

Hmmmm, methinks there’s a dodgy B-Movie in there somewhere. Trapped in a inescapable location, check. Vicious spiders, check. Plenty of opportunity for bulging bosoms, check. Handsome, sexy as fuck lead, check. Is it too late to change my NaNoWriMo idea? :p

42. What are your religious views?

Once upon a time I used to be, but not any more. I respect other people’s beliefs but instantly switch off when they try to push them onto me. I don’t go around trying to convert people into what I believe in, so I don’t see why others try to convert my to what they believe.

43. State a random opinion?

However much I love Firefly, I believe it is one of the most overrated television shows in the history of the medium and can completely understand why it was cancelled. It’s interesting that one of the guest stars of Firefly stars in another of the shows on my ‘most overrated’ list.

Cue Sunday brain teaser: who is this star and what is the show?

44. What are your views on sex?

Sex is something wonderful, beautiful, amazing, exciting, scintillating and blissful. It can result in one of the most powerful highs in the world, it’s one of the greatest medications there is for stress and depression and we are all far, far, far too judgemental about it.

We let people watch movies where people are decapitated, tortured, disembowelled and torn apart. We let children play video games where they get to do all of these things and more. But flash a nipple, bare a butt cheek or – horror of horrors – mention the word vagina and all hell breaks loose! Placards are raised, opinion pieces about the encroaching apocalypse are written and infomercials released to tell us all we’re going straight to hell for thinking such inhuman thoughts.

I’m a sexual person. I love having sex. I love thinking about sex. I love creating new positions, ideas and deviant devices. Yet I am made to feel ashamed of this side of my personality by a society that is way too judgemental about this day-to-day aspect of human life.

Why don’t we all just get over it and start having a bit of fun with the ones we love?

Three sexual things I choose to live by:

1) If it’s not consensual, it’s not sex. So if someone says no (be they male or female) you STOP!
2) No-one will ever be able to turn you on if you don’t know how to turn yourself on. So start exploring…now! :p
3) Someone’s sexuality is not the sole aspect of their personality. So stop judging, as there’s nothing that kills sexiness than discrimination.


Fifty Shades of Addy
30 Days of Kink
One Night in Adelaide

45. Are you able to cook?

I make the greatest omelette sandwiches in the world. I can also make a mean coconut rice, potato bake, jacket potato and pesto pasta.

In fact, I’m actually not all that bad a cook at all. In my second and third relationships I did over 95% of the cooking (my second girlfriend cooked two meals for us throughout the entire six month relationship) and although I would never win Masterchef, I do win the occasional heart. Which is a far more valuable prize :p

46. In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?

Intentionally inflict pain on another human being. Whether it is physical, emotional or sexual in origin. Whether the victim is male, female, adult or child. All forms of abuse are completely insidious and should never be supported or defended in any way.

47. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?

Yes. Although I don’t think there’s one for me.

48. What do you believe makes a successful life?

Forget money, fame, power and control.

What makes a successful life is the ability to accept ourselves, our desires and our beliefs.

49. How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings?

Far too, way too, stupidly (or courageously, depending on your point of view) honest.

Sometimes I am proud of this desire to communicate myself in every way, shape or form. Certainly it can be confronting, painful, raw, honest, embarrassing and – at times – downright humiliating. But there are other times when I question why I have a desire to share my soul in such a way. Why do I not hide myself like many others do? Why do I not have a wardrobe of masks to choose from any more?

I guess because I wore masks for many, many years, and all that period taught me was that I’m a much better person when I’m being myself and not caring about what others may or may not be thinking.

50. Do you have any biases or prejudices?

No prejudices, or biases, really. But I dislike: (in no particular order)

1) Hypocrisy
2) Arrogance
3) Discrimination (of all types)

51. Is there anything you absolutely refuse to do under any circumstances? Why do you refuse to do it?

I refuse to hide who I am, pretend to be someone I’m not or change things that I love about myself so that others will like me.

I am who I am, if you can’t accept that, then you don’t deserve me.

52. Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?

No-one’s life is more important than anyone elses. I would be willing to die for anything; whether it be someone I care about, a family member, a friend, an old friend, a complete stranger, a cute wombat, or a cause/belief that I am passionate about.