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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Blogger Recognition Award

bloggerrecognitionaward

The most excellent Brighton Bipolar and magnificent Aimee from Borderline Functional recently nominated me for the ‘Blogger Recognition Award’. It is an absolute honor to accept! :)

‘Blogger Recognition’ Award Rules:

1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
2. Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post. Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
3. Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
4. Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night . That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!

How my blog got started…

The place, Melbourne.

The year, 2007.

October; a month during which several things happened.

A revelation that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given it’s quite normal for several things to happen in every month; something would be seriously amiss if they didn’t.

But in this particular month, several things happened in my life.

For starters, my sister turned twenty-seven. On the same day, I tried to hang myself after walking 50 kilometres into the middle of nowhere. These events, I should point out, were unrelated. I ogled the finest police posterior I’d ever seen, cooked the greatest jacket potato in the history of the world and decided to write a blog.

This would be one of those life changing moments people often talk about.

Following the decision there was much umming and ahhing about what to call it and, whilst walking through Carlton Gardens, I settled on the name Geoff. Shortly after I decided that this was a poor name for a blog about mental illness, so opted for All That I Am, All That I Ever Was instead.

I put fingers to keyboard to write a post called My War against Mental Illness. An introductory post that discussed in far too intimate detail the secret life I’d lived. A life chock full of self-harm, depression, suicide and social anxiety; a life that my parents no doubt suspected, but knew little of fact.

After spending days perfecting this post and making Geoff – sorry All That I Am, All That I Ever Was – look as pretty as I could I launched the blog, took mobile to hand and set off into the damp night to make a rather tough call.

After finding a cracked green milk crate I sat in the drizzle and smoked a cigarette, my mind awash with how best to form the sentences I needed to speak.

I’d spent days writing personal accounts of how and when I’d thought of ending my own life; hours perfecting paragraphs detailing moments of self-harm, self-doubt and self-loathing and yet as I ploughed through cigarette after cigarette I couldn’t come up with a single syllable of how to tell my parents that everything they thought they knew of me was wrong. Even their work in the mental health industry wasn’t enough to calm my nerves over their possible reaction.

With damp fingers I rolled another cigarette and dialled the number. For several long minutes I talked with my father about John Howard, the political dilemmas being faced by Uzbekistan and Jaffa cakes. We debated the age-old ‘who would win in a fight, polar bears or raccoons?’ before arguing over whether the Pussycat Dolls could take P!nk in a no-rules jelly wrestle.

It was whilst I was politely informing him P!nk would kick their gelatine covered asses that I knew I was merely stalling.

So I took a deep breath of nicotine and went for it.

“Dad, I’ve started a blog,”

In the three days it had taken me to decide on these five simple words I’d imagined every possible response he could give. Everything from the simple what about? to have you thought about how best to monetize it? to will there be pictures of wildebeest? But, as always, he was able to surprise me.

“A what now?”

“A blog, dad?”

“A bog?”

Yes, dad. I’ve created a quagmire of dead plant material in central Melbourne. The council really don’t mind, they said they actually preferred it to Fed Square. I took another lung full of smoke and tried again. “A BLog, dad,”

“A what now?”

Six cigarettes and a lesson on what a blog is later, I was finally able to tell him what it was about. As I explained (and smoked, oh lord did I smoke!) he listened.

He listened to me tell him there were things I’d written about that he, and mum, didn’t know; things that probably wouldn’t make them very happy. Things that might upset them or make them angry I hadn’t said anything.

And if he was thinking of any of these things he never said it.

What he did say, as a comment on My War against Mental Illness was:

Brilliantly written, one of the most honest and frank pieces I have ever read in my 14 years in supporting people with mental ill health. You are right, this is a war that most people don’t know anything about it’s happening day in day out the whole world over and few people take any notice, unless they find themselves caught up in it as a sufferer or a carer. Let’s hope that with the ever increasing numbers of people suffering from stress related mental problems that things improve for everyone.

All those days and weeks and years of bottling up my feelings had been for nothing. If I’d said something earlier then my life now may be different, but I was scared.

I didn’t want to admit the problems I knew I had, I wanted people to respect and accept me – not judge and abuse me; something I was paranoid they would do if they knew of the things I’d done and felt.

That’s the problem with mental illness. The world teaches us to hide it, to never admit the things we feel in fear of being ostracised, isolated, judged or abandoned.

Although not as omnipresent as it was five years ago, the stigma against those who suffer from mental ill health still casts a shadow.

Hopefully, if people keep speaking up, in five years time it will have vanished completely.

lesson4

Six of the best: Advice for new bloggers…

1. Never compromise; always remain true to your vision.
2. Write what you want to write, not want you think other people will want to read.
3. Find your voice; it is unique, it is beautiful, it is what people want to hear.
4. Spellcheck is your friend; treat it with courtesy and respect.
5. Be yourself; as no-one else can.
and
6. Remember the difference between your and you’re.

And my nominations are…

  1. Panic Disordered
  2. Strong Enough to Break
  3. Shaming of the Shrew
  4. Imillnotcrazy
  5. Marci, Mental Health and More
  6. Heather’s Helpers
  7. Many of Us
  8. Dearest Someone
  9. What the Living Do
  10. The Elephant in the Room
  11. Blahpolar Diaries
  12. Diary of a Social Phobic
  13. This is a Depression Blog
  14. My Journey to Freedom from Anxiety
  15. Bipolar Maniac