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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Six things that have happened in my absence

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I think it goes without saying that – given my elongated absence – the last few months have either been filled with all sorts of wonderful excitement (such as restorative sleep, marshmallow fountains and rolls in the proverbial hay with Daenerys look-a-likes) or filled with the sort of nightmarish negative mental health episodes I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Given that last week I spent the better part of two hours writing a list of reasons to die/live in my journal (for the record, 28 reasons to die opposed to 1 reason to live!) I think the ‘nightmarish negative mental health episodes’ is the safest bet as to my absence. 

Thus, as I attempt to slowly ease my way back into blogging mode (and deal with all the WordPress changes!) I shall fill you in with a few of the occurrences in my life over the last few months.

And, given my somewhat depressive mood of late, the first couple of things on this list fall into the ‘it’s okay to admit you’re not okay’ category…

1. I have suffered a relapse of my mental health

There’s a hell of a lot to discuss in this area and, to be honest, I’m not really in a mental state to do so right now. But, to sate any ‘where is Addy?’ appetites: I have been self-harming on a fairly regular basis for the last month or so, I have been considering suicide (as the above list-admission attests), I still haven’t got all that much hope for a better future and my voices, PTSD issues and sleeplessness have gotten way out of control!

Not fun! :(

2. I discovered I have dangerously low levels of Vitamin D…

…as well as worrying discrepancies in several other vital substances that are essential for human life!

Thus, I am currently on a strict regime of supplements – which I keep forgetting to take – and hope that by the next blood test in a couple of months my levels will more closely resemble an ‘acceptable level’.

But it hasn’t all been self-harm, suicidal ideation and ‘what is the point of living?’ depression.

Some of what has happened has been downright embarrassing…

3. I locked myself in my house (!)

Most people can claim to have locked themselves out of their house at some stage or another, but how many can claim to have locked themselves in? Last week, I did just that!

There I was, nonchalantly opening the back door so I could have my morning cigarette when the key snapped off in the lock. No problem, I hear you say, I can just use the front door. Wrong! Because my front door has two locks – and one of them uses the same key as the back!

So I was trapped in my own home for nearly two hours until the real estate agency could sort out a spare key in order to release me from my not very comfortable prison!

…whilst other things have actually been rather wonderful…

4. I am now the creator and co-facilitator of a group at GT House

The group I created is called Creative Therapy and its mission statement reads like this: “To provide participants the opportunity to explore their life’s journey in a safe, supportive and (hopefully) fun environment via a number of creative activities, writing prompts and lively discussions.”

Basically, for two hours every Monday afternoon I babble away to a miniature group of people about how therapeutic creativity can be. So far we have written letters to our younger selves, decorated a brand spanking new journal (you know, to take ownership of them), had a lively debate about the power of books and examined our personal positive experiences.

Basically, it’s what I’ve spent the last several years doing on this blog, only with a live studio audience! Some of it has been fun, some of it has been challenging, all of it has been severely anxiety inducing. But not enough to stop me from hoping there will a second term of creative shenanigans as I’m actually rather enjoying it! :)

5. I have joined a gym

The last time I was a member of a gym was late 2006; the glory days when mental health was a manageable nuisance and my life revolved around preparing for tertiary education, hanging with my social network and rolling in the proverbial hay with my then Daenerys look-a-like of a girlfriend.

But – courtesy of the wonderful people at GT House – I am now the proud owner of a free six month gym membership. My goal is that by the end of the membership I will more closely resemble a shaggable human being, instead of the hideous (body dysmorphic suffering) blob monster I currently am.

Last week (my first under this new regime) I put in 180 minutes of cardio (treadmill and cross trainer) and three sets of ten on four differing weight machines; I’m hoping to push myself harder in the future!

And yes, my menagerie are going mental at this attempt to alter my grotesque appearance, but more of that later!

6. I have obtained a camera!

Courtesy of a generous family member, who lovingly decided to send their distant nephew a camera they were no longer using, I now have the facility to take photographs again. Given it has been over five years since I really dabbled in this field – and given photography is now a bit of a trigger for me – it may take a while for me to get my form back, but expect numerous photographs of my ‘life’ appearing over the next few weeks, beginning shortly with a 30 Day Photo Challenge that I hope will help me get my photo-mojo back!

Just a wee photo I took as I played with my new camera. He is Meadhbh’s monkey and his name is Ceenem (pronounced as if C-N-M)

Aside from these things, ‘life’ continues as per usual.

Here’s hoping that you’ve all had a far more profitable, entertaining and joy-filled time since we last met! :)


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Day 02: How have I changed in the past two years?

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Where I was in early 2011…

“In spite of the pride I was taking in my writing, the ‘life’ I was living was continuing to destroy my mental health. I missed conversations with friends, trivia quizzes and pub nights. I missed walking the streets lost in conversation and being needed and wanted by people who cared.

All I had were the power games, endless bitching, stolen food, sudden explosions of violence, constant verbal abuse and continual drug and alcohol problems that plague all boarding houses. After the events and assaults of 2010, I kept completely to myself but, as I expected, I began to lose control. My hallucinations returned in force and my screaming fits in the night started up again (as pointed out by fellow housemates.)

Eventually, these issues overpowered me, and I was once again sent hurtling into the abyss of inaction and unstable mental ill-health. As my moods cycled rapidly, and with no support from anyone, I began blacking out again. Entire days and weeks lost to the darkness of my mind until, one day, I found myself back on the streets.

Unable to deal with the city I lived for a time in a park close to the boarding house, before tiring of this area and returning to the park that had served me well during my nights in the motel in the year before.

For weeks I lived up and down the Merri Creek corridor, visiting the city only rarely (once a week mainly) to stock up on food van sandwiches and bread to feed me throughout the week. My days were spent reading newspapers, scribbling artwork (around this time I took to using my skin as a canvas with a red pen to try to curtail the increasing self-harm) and talking to rogue possums and the occasional pigeon.

With the amount of rejection I had received from mental health and homeless services over the years I was adamant I would never return to them. I was tired of rejection. I was tired of being spoken down to. I was tired of being treated as a statistic; a meaningless non-entity who didn’t deserve to be alive.”

From ‘Reflections on Being Homeless, Part 6’ (written June 2012)

Where I am now…

The most obvious change that has occurred in the last two years is that I am no longer homeless. In a few weeks I’ll celebrate the one year anniversary of finding a place to live after years on the street.

Although I still feel disconnected from this ‘home’, I am eternally grateful I was able to muster the strength to keep fighting through those long, painful nights, for I know without this unit I would most likely be dead.

Another major change has been my return to the blogosphere. After ‘ending’ the blog in late 2009 I’d not expected to return. Even though my blogging is sporadic at best (both in terms of quality and frequency of posting) having it back in my life means the world to me.

This blog has also connected me to other wonderful bloggers, all of whom have become friends, whom I hope will understand my silence over the last several weeks as being a product of my illness and not my dislike of them; for they are all awesome people whom I think of often.

The third major change is the effort I’ve been making to reconnect to society after being ostracized from it for so long. The groups I began late last year have recently recommenced, and in addition to pool and scrabble, I have taken on an additional two groups in order to keep working toward a better version of myself.

On Mondays I partake in an “Acting” group, which is less about showing the world my kick-ass Macbeth or Ugly Sister performances and more about connecting with one’s voice in order to increase one’s self-confidence and abilities. I have only attended one group so far this term, so will update you as I go.

Whilst, on Fridays, I will be attending a Hearing Voices Support Group. By the time you read this I’ll have (hopefully) gone to my first session, but as this post is being written in advance and scheduled, I haven’t gone yet, so will update you on this a little later :p

The ongoing hope of these groups is to build my confidence, make some social connections (possibly some friends?) and begin to combat the destructive negative self-opinion my abuser created all those years ago.

As for more internal changes, this is where I become frustrated. Despite my efforts, my mental health has remained on par with 2011 and (in some respects) has worsened.

My hallucinations are more frequent and volatile, my mood swings are becoming increasingly more difficult to deal with (hence my recent return to alcohol), my social anxiety and isolation are also more severe than they were and, due to the shocking psychiatrists I have seen, any hope of support from the mental health community has been destroyed by my complete lack of faith in the system.

So although several advancements have been made – especially in where I live and my efforts to become socially included – the continuing disintegration of my mental health is what’s preventing noticeable change from occurring.

However, I’ve known for a long time I’m always far too hard on myself…so instead of punishing myself for not working hard enough, perhaps I should – for once – pat myself on the bum for the tremendous effort I have made over the last two years!

After all, two years ago I genuinely believed I didn’t deserve to be alive.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Tomorrow: What kind of person are you attracted to?