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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30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 07

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
List 10 activities that help you calm down.

– in no particular order –

1. Playing with the contents of my self-harm safety box

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Writing

Writing

3. Dancing

Dancing

4. Cuddles/Hugs – not that I get many of these anymore :(

SONY DSC

5. Sex – again, not that I get the chance to indulge in this anymore :(

Censored

6. Being with friends – and once more, not that I get the chance to do this anymore :(

Being with Friends

7. Watching my favourite movies/TV Shows (yay Doctor Who!)

Doctor Who

8. Having a bath (preferably with candles and quiet)

Having a bath

9. Eating favourite foods

Jacket Potato with Cheese

10. Crying

Crying


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30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 03

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What is your motivation to recover?

This is a difficult question for me to answer at the moment because like other habits that are not good for me (such as smoking) I feel that I need self-harm in my life right now. The depressive episode that has consumed me over the last few months has been all-encompassing and self-harm has been one of the few ‘highlights’ of my life. In fact, over the last couple of months it has become a rigid part of my day-to-day schedule.

However disturbing this daily implementation of self-harm may sound to some, I know that I’d be hard pushed to survive without it. Like the cigarettes I smoke each morning and evening, like the medication I swallow each day and night, I need my daily ‘purge’ of emotional pain in order to get through the day.

But I know this will not always be the case. Once this depressive episode is over I’m sure I will become (once again) more motivated to recover, more motivated to stop doing these things to myself. Whether it be to eradicate the scars and marks from my body, whether it be to stop being controlled by such insidious action or whether it be to no longer be controlled by the addictive nature of my condition, I will stop self-harming again.

Hopefully for good.


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Well, I was doing okay…

In the lead up to Christmas I  had several conversations with my support worker over how I could keep myself safe during this insidious time of year, there was the thirteen heart-felt tips I prepared for myself (and readers of my blog) and all manner of coping mechanisms in play in case things became bad. Sure, there were missteps, but all in all I was immensely proud of how I’d handled myself over the Christmas period…until three days ago, when everything completely fell apart and I resorted to my alcohol bingeing, self-harming ways.

I’m not sure what caused it exactly. Perhaps it was the disappointment I felt over the Doctor Who Christmas special (Jenna Coleman, a few great scenes and that surprise appearance aside), perhaps it was the fact I completely exhausted myself over the Christmas/Boxing Day double-header, perhaps it was a layover from the emotionally charged weekend before Christmas, perhaps it’s because today is the anniversary of a major event in my life, or perhaps it’s just something that’s going to happen every year at this time and I’m just going to have to get used to it.

Today, I went outside for the first time since Friday and all I saw as I meandered as quickly as possible around the supermarket were families, groups of friends, couples, mothers and children. In fact in the forty-five minutes I was outside the house I was the only single person around. It was beyond depressing. After days of being reminded left, right and center about how wonderful it is to spend this time of year with people you care about, having my isolation thrust in my face was all too much for me today. I ended up ditching my shopping basket and high-tailing it home with my tail between my legs before the panic attack fully took hold.

The frustrating thing is I knew that this was going to happen. That’s why I spent so long preparing for it. That’s why I borrowed a bag full of animated classics from my support worker, that’s why I checked out some distracting TV shows from the library, that’s why I stocked up on comfort food and endeavoured to save Skyloft from catastrophe. I threw so much into surviving this Christmas period without resorting to self-harm and alcohol that now I’ve indulged in both, I’m beyond angry and disappointed with myself.

For three days now I’ve been in a hyper-vigilent state. I’ve been unable to eat, unable to relax, unable to focus for extended periods, unable to concentrate, unable to think on anything other than my loneliness and the fact I let myself (and everyone else) down. And that, whether it’s true or nor, I feel that I’m (more or less) in exactly the same position I was this time last year.

I know I need to do something different tomorrow. I know I need to break the cycle of self-blame and depression I’ve slipped into. I know I need to eat something. I know I need to do something other than wallow in my own loneliness. I just don’t know what. So I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what the new dawn brings.

I’ve listened to this song many times over the last few days.
A powerful song from a superb musical talent.


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Addy and the Day of Pure Evil

Something many people have problems with are anniversaries.

Not the happy, fuzzy-bunny-feeling filled anniversaries of marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences, but the miserable, hell-would-hurt-less filled anniversaries of deaths, traumatic experiences and (I suppose in some cases) marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences.

Amongst the plethora of ‘bad memory’ days that fill my year (e.g. the day I became homeless, the day of that psychiatrist appointment, the day my sister attempted suicide) there are four dates in particular that are excruciating for me;

  • October 11 (the anniversary of a suicide attempt, aka the day I should have died)
  • July XX (the anniversary of when I was assaulted, aka the day I wanted to die)
  • May 7 (the anniversary of another suicide attempt and the anniversary of Stephanie’s suicide, aka the day I nearly died and the day a friend did)
  • February 26 (the anniversary of the beginning of my breakdown, aka the beginning of the end).

The most astute of you, my dear readers, will have noticed that three days ago was one of these dates.

So if you’re itching to know what calamities (if any) befell me, read on! :p

very bad day

Seven out of Ten (3am-4am)

The day began as most of my days do; being woken from a fitful sleep by a vicious nightmare. On this occasion it was a recurring dream that has been haunting my sleep for several years.

In this dream I am being attacked by the man who assaulted me in Adelaide. We are in the same motel room, we are wearing the same clothes, we are basically reliving the events of that traumatic night. The only difference is Grace and Kathy are sitting on the bed watching the events unfold. Sometimes they are munching on popcorn; sometimes they are sipping glasses of champagne. Other times they are sharing a box of chocolates or recording the events on a video camera. What they always do is ‘score’ the assault upon its completion; a simple ‘out of ten’ rating of the pain inflicted on me.

The scores change from dream to dream but some things remain constant; Kathy always scores less than Grace, they always write their scores using my blood and they rarely give anything more than an eight. Even if he amputates multiple limbs or flagellates me with a strip of barbed wire, the pain he inflicts on me is never ‘good enough’ for the audience.

As per usual when this dream disturbs my sleep, I woke up startled, screaming and gasping for air.

Unlike usual, I woke up with someone else lying in my bed.

Stop peeking, pervert! (4am-5am)

Vanessa knows that this day is her day. For the last five years she has relished in it, using my ‘vulnerability’ to increase her presence both audibly and visually. When I woke up on Tuesday morning she was lying on her side staring at me.

VANESSA: That dream again?
ME: What the fuck do you want?
VANESSA: Your soul, idiot. Did you have that dream again?
ME: You know I did.
VANESSA: Tell me about it.

So I did, just to shut her up, but the problem with Vanessa is that no matter how much information you give her, it’s never enough. After nearly fifteen minutes of interrogation – erasing any hope I would get back to sleep – I began rearranging my blanket so I could make myself more comfortable.

VANESSA: What the fuck? Don’t you dare.
ME: It’s my blanket!
VANESSA: But I’m naked under here.
ME: So? I’ve seen it all before.
VANESSA: But I don’t want you seeing it now. Have some decency, dickhead!
ME: If you don’t want me seeing you naked, why are you naked?
VANESSA: Because I don’t want you seeing me naked, moron!

From there she bombarded me with questions, comments, observations, insults and hopes for the day ahead, including: “It would be beautiful if you sliced your arm open today”, “Please tell me you’re going to kill yourself today” and “But meltdown first, you know, one of those panic attacks that leaves you a cowering, dribbling fetus. Preferably in public!”

This continued until Audrey woke up and demanded I ‘get my lazy ass out of bed!’.

It was 5am – not exactly the greatest start to the day!

When distractions aren’t distracting! (5am-1pm)

In my recent post about coping skills, I mentioned that ‘distraction’ was my primary method of coping with emotional distress. Whether this is whacking on a DVD, reading my favorite websites or blogs, listening to music, playing Scrabble on the DS, completing jigsaws or just writing blog posts, sooner or later I will become engrossed in my chosen activity and forget about the chaos that drove me there.

On Tuesday, this forgetting didn’t happen. In fact, my mind was so focused on the events of 26 February 2007 that nothing I did provided any relief from the bad memories or consistent badgering from Vanessa. I wasn’t intelligent enough to read Conversation articles, I was too childish for playing on the DS, I was too old to complete jigsaws, I was too untalented and boring to blog. No matter what I tried to do, she slipped in and tore me to shreds, leaving me sitting on the carpet staring at the wall wondering whether I should drink, self-harm or commit suicide. Perhaps all three!

By mid-morning my day was already shaping up to be worse than last years…unless I took affirmative action.

VANESSA (as I grabbed my bike helmet): Where the fuck do you think you’re going?
ME: Out.
VANESSA: But it’s my day.
ME: Not anymore!

‘Distraction’ is worth 14 – or 64 if you use all seven tiles – in Scrabble (1pm-3:30pm)

For the second week in a row I was the only person at the Scrabble group I attend. Vanessa was quick to point out this was because no-one liked me and couldn’t stand being around me. I was quick to tell her to piss-off because she was seriously starting to get on my tits!

I’d originally told the organisation that runs these groups that I wouldn’t be at Scrabble, that I thought I was going to be hiding away as I usually do on these hell-would-hurt-less anniversaries. But as none of my distraction techniques had worked and my self-harm urges had increased I needed to do something to pull my mind from Vanessa and the memories.

For two hours I played Scrabble against the group leader. With Vanessa blathering in my ear it’s no surprise that I made several tactical errors early in the game, all of which amounted to me failing to reach 400 points (I ended with 387) and sending my mind into a tailspin of negative thinking about how useless I was at Scrabble (totally untrue!) Vanessa relished in this thinking and used it to fuel further abuse as I walked around town following the match.

To put the frustration (and annoyance) of this cycle of self-hate into perspective; I had won the game by over a hundred and fifty points and been able to play a seven-letter word during the match – not too shabby, all things considered!

coopers

Coopers and Comfort (3:30pm-7pm)

Within thirty minutes of leaving Scrabble, the cycle of self-criticism I’d become locked in over my failure to reach 400 points, coupled with Vanessa’s constant presence drove me to a local bar. However ashamed I am to admit breaking my three-week plus sobriety, I sat with Vanessa in the corner of the bar and drank through a couple of bottles of my favourite beer; Coopers Pale Ale.

Following this, the shame continued, as I moseyed around town purchasing things willy-nilly in a rare ‘retail therapy/comfort buying’ binge.

After sixty-two minutes I’d spent $112 and become the (not so) proud owner of:

  • A (fourth hand) Wii with seven (fourth hand) games.
  • A hairbrush.
  • Two bottles of white wine.
  • Michael Ondjatte’s XXXXX
  • A block of Rolo chocolate
  • Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (seasons one and two)
  • A bag of Kettle Honey Baked Ham potato chips (my second favorite flavor of chips)

The sheer number of carrier bags I had weighing me down, coupled with Vanessa sitting on my handlebars (what is it with hallucinations deciding to ride on my bike?), led to my cycle home becoming a carefully orchestrated balancing act!

Seriously…filthy…mind…! (7pm-9pm)

Pretty much the moment I got home I cracked open one of the bottles of wine and threw myself onto the couch to slurp it straight from the bottle. By the time I’d drunk half the bottle I’d connected up the Wii and whacked on Lego Batman (one of the seven games I’d got, the others being: Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Metroid: Other M, Link’s Crossbow Training, Mario Kart and EA’s Grand Slam Tennis).

After two levels I had to stop playing; not because I was drunk, not because I wasn’t enjoying myself, not because I felt bad about buying the Wii, but because Audrey was freaking me out with her seriously filthy mind and all the things she wanted Lego Batman to do to her!

I can’t really go into them without password protecting the post, so just think Fifty Shades of Grey meets Harry Potter meets Twin Peaks meets (JG Ballard’s) Crash meets Batman (where does he get those wonderful toys?).

Even I don’t have that dirty a mind…and that’s saying something! :P

The Book of Pure Evil (9pm-11pm)

By this point I’d finished one bottle of wine and was feeling relatively tipsy. I’d lost the ability to focus on the Wii and was being driven nuts by Vanessa’s constant bullshit; so I cooked some coconut rice with tofu and vegetables then whacked on the DVD I’d purchased.

For those of you not in the know, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is a Canadian comedy-horror TV show that centers on a disparate group of High School students who band together to take on the bloody consequences of the Book of Pure Evil.

Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer; only with a miniscule budget, more blood and a deliciously warped sense of humour!

I don’t know whether it was the strange mood I was in, the alcohol I had consumed or the junk food I was pigging out on, but after half a dozen episodes I was loving the show. Audrey and Vanessa, not so much! Where they thought the acting was “squirmily bad”, the writing “a rip-off of the far superior Buffy” and the humour “totally unfunny, much like everything Canada produces”; I thought the acting improved with each episode, the writing showed moments of inspired genius and the humor was laugh-out loud brilliant on many occasions.

VANESSA: I don’t like it when you laugh on my day.
ME: Do I look like a give a fuck?

todd and the book of pure evil

Threesome (11pm-12am)

It’s unusual for me to head to bed so early but my desire for this day to be over was overwhelming. By eleven ‘o’ clock I was lying in the middle of my bed with Vanessa to my left and Audrey to the right.

And yes, I get the symbolism behind the positioning; whenever Vanessa and Audrey are around they will adopt these positions.

AUDREY: And I could…[censored (trust me, you don’t want to know!)]…and then he would…[censored]…then around that point he’d…[censored]
ME: Wouldn’t you rather fantasize about Christian Bale?
VANESSA: Or Adam West?
ME: Can I fantasize about Anne Hathaway?
VANESSA (singing): There was a time when men were kind…
AUDREY: And when he puts that…[censored]…in my most…[censored]
VANESSA (still singing): …when their voices were soft, and their words inviting..
ME: What do I have to do to get you two to go to sleep?

Perhaps it was the emotional exhaustion, perhaps it was because sleeping with someone is nicer than sleeping alone or perhaps it was the alcohol I’d consumed, but I fell asleep soon after – despite the constant singing/babbling that was occurring around me.

Silence (3am-4am)

Following another recurring nightmare (where I painfully melt into a bubbling pool of blood) I woke up in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t notice at first, but neither Audrey nor Vanessa were present.

The silence was beautiful! :)

Coda

Many of you may look at this day as a failure. I blew my budget on un-necessary crap, broke my three-week long sobriety and spent (virtually) the entire day communicating with visual/audible hallucinations.

But I see things differently.

Direct transcript from my Mood Journal, 26 February 2012:

4:12am
Had that dream again. The one where Grace and Kathy watch as the Adelaidian does whatever he wants to me. The one where they score him out of ten for pain inflicted. Tonight they were both disappointed, Grace gave him 7, Kathy only 5. They want him to work harder next time. No wonder I always wake up screaming and caked in sweat. What the fuck will the neighbours think?

2:56pm
Should be in a great mood today given that I’ve just moved into my own place after years of homelessness, but I’m really not. So I’m self-harming again. Not unsurprising given what today is the anniversary of. Just binged on copious amounts of junk food and alcohol. Feel fat, grotesque, worthless, disgusting and repulsive. Just want to curl up in a ball and die.

9:14pm
Vanessa thinks I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. Nay, she knows I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. She’s not wrong. What was it Kathy said? That I will always be alone. That I deserve to always be alone. They were right, all of them, every word they said. Vanessa told me to slit my wrists. Maybe I should.

10:12pm
Can’t focus. Can’t think. Can’t concentrate. Can’t sleep. Want to die. I have a bed. So why am I still sleeping on the floor? Oh yeah, it’s all I deserve.

11:42pm
Pished. Nearly over.

12:03am
Over. Thank fuck.

  • Today I ate: four toblerones, one bag of jelly babies, quarterpounder w/chips, pizza, potato chips (BBQ flavour)
  • Today I drank: three bottles of white wine, one bottle of red wine, six cans of beer, two WKDs.
  • Anxiety/Panic attacks: 7am, 10:30am, 12:12pm, 4:30pm, 7:22pm.
  • Time spent outside the house: Didn’t leave the house

midnaSure, my voices had a greater presence than last year and I spent way more money…but…I had fewer panic/anxiety attacks, I was aware my coping techniques weren’t working so took alternative action, I left the house, I socialized, I cooked a healthy meal, I slept in my bed, I ‘stood up to’ Vanessa on multiple occasions and didn’t self-harm once.

Yes, I brought a Wii (so 2008!)…but, in the spirit of trying to improve my self-love…I brought a Wii! Methinks that Lego Batman, two Zelda adventures and Mario Kart may prove useful weapons in my increasing arsenal of coping strategies. Especially when all I need to do to stop Audrey criticizing and abusing is to whack on a single game and let her fantasies roam free! :p

All things considered, I’m quite proud of myself this year! :)

 


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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.