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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120 Books to read before you die

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:

Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

The reason this book is so close is because I found it at a library book sale on Saturday for 50 cents. It’s a dust jacket-less hardcover of faded green that reminds me of the well-loved (or hated) tomes we used to be given at school. Only they smelt of dust, tears and sweat whilst this smells (quite literally) of peaches! (Take that eReaders, bet your ‘books’ don’t smell of stone fruit :p)

But this fruity aroma was not the sole reason I purchased this copy. Certainly, the rather enticing price was a major incentive, but the reason I selected this from the array of books on offer is simple; it has been on my reading list for years, and now I own my own copy perhaps I will get around to finally reading it.

As I meandered home it got me thinking of all the other books out there that I’ve been meaning to read for years. The classics that many people have read (and loved or despised) over the years that for whatever reason I never got around to reading.

It reminded me of a list I read a long time ago (2010, I believe), a collection of 100 books that the BBC had decided are the 100 Books you must read before you die, so in the middle of the night I slinked back online and tracked it down, curious to how many I’ve read and how many I have to go:

The “BBC’s 100 books you need to read before you die” list:

(Note: Bolded titles are ones that I have read; Italicised titles are ones that I have started but never finished.)

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma -Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Inferno – Dante

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In French)

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So, with eighty down and nineteen to go (for after attempting the Harry Potter books many times in my life I have zero intention of ever going back to try to finish them!) I realised I couldn’t write a post scolding myself over being a literary ignoramus because, quite frankly, eighty is an almighty achievement I should be proud of!

But as I re-read the list the anomalies I noticed all those years ago still stood out. Why is Hamlet included at (98) when The Completed Works of William Shakespeare is at (14)? Why is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on the list (36) when three places earlier there is the Chronicles of Narnia (33)? Why in God’s Earth is The Da Vinci Code on this list (42) when, after reading it, you are likely to be overwhelmed with an urge to gouge your eyeballs out with a spoon? Where is Brideshead Revisited? Where is The Forsythe Saga? Where is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay? Where the hell is Matilda?

Someone seriously needs to be spanked for that almighty error!

So, I have decided to write an addition to this list. An extra twenty titles that I think should be read before one wanders off this mortal coil:

Addy’s “Twenty more books you need to read before you die” list:

1. Matilda – Roald Dahl

Every single human being on the planet should read this book. No exceptions, no excuses. It is a sublime work of genius!

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michal Chabon

A stunning achievement in every conceivable sense that should be on everyone’s ‘before I die’ reading list.

3. The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read it, but I’ve been told (on trusted authority) that it’s excellent.

4. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

See (3) above.

5. Little, Big – John Crowley

One of the forefathers of Urban Fantasy and a work of immense imagination and beauty.

6. Voss – Patrick White

A novel of extraordinary power and virtuosity.

7. Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

Purely so people can understand the damage that bad writing and disgusting stereotyping can cause!

8. Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer

A children’s series that was (unfortunately) eclipsed by the boy wizard phenomenon. Which is a shame, because it’s much, much better!

9. The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy – Anne Rice (writing as A.N Roquelaure)

So people who have read E.L. James can see how it should be done.

10. Thongs – Alexander Trocchi

Why? I wrote a post on it here…

11. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Don’t be intimidated by its size…it’s worth the effort :)

12. The Stornoway Way – Kevin McNeil

Contemporary Scottish fiction at it’s finest.

13. Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray

See (12) above.

14. Glue – Irvine Welsh

See (13) and (12) above :p

15. The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe

Yes, it’s a poem, not a book. But seriously, you have to read this before you die!

And as it will only take you a few minutes, you have no excuse!

16. The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear – Walter Moers

Ingenious, delightful, imaginative, compelling, inspiring. All the reasons why someone should read a book in the first place.

17. The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes

Fascinating and brilliantly written book detailing the early convict history of Australia.

18. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

Personally, I didn’t like it (hence why I couldn’t finish it)…but why not make your own mind up.

19. The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

Quite possibly the best retelling of the Arthurian legend, ever!

20. ‘Anything’ – Robert Louis Stevenson

Anything is not a book title. Anything means absolutely anything from this author, whom I am stunned is not included on the BBCs list. My personal recommendation would be Kidnapped (as I’m a sucker for Scottish historical) but Treasure Island, Catriona and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are also worth every second of your time.

So, with all that said, all we need to do is convince people in this era of technological overload that reading is still one of the greatest past-times known to human kind. Perhaps if only we could break it to these people by degrees we would be able to get more people reading these wonderful works of fiction.

(Okay, apologies for that. But I realised I hadn’t technically worked the line into the post so had to squeeze it in somehow, sort of!)

What about you? How many of the BBC’s books have you read? And do you have any that you think should be on the list?


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Be the change you wish to see in the world

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

When I started writing this blog, my goal was simple:

I am not my mental illness(es); I am so much more than that.

For years, anyone who was aware of my mental health problems saw only the illnesses. Whether it was the “unhappy, negative depressed man”, the “self-hating self-harmer”, the “selfish suicidal idiot” or the “freak with bipolar”, my illnesses were all I was judged on.

I was lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, uncaring, uncompassionate and a waste of space. I was useless, worthless, weak and someone who would never amount to anything. I was suffering from ‘a figment of my imagination’. I was a terrible friend. I was a cancer that sucked the life out of everyone I met. I was better off dead.

I was someone who didn’t understand what hard work was and I would never – ever – amount to anything as a result.

Since then I’ve endured more pain than any human being should in their lifetime. And yet through all the pain, all the sadness, trauma, tragedy and unhappiness I am still standing, I am still breathing, I am still laughing and I am still doing all I can to further my life, inspire others and become the change I want to see in the world…

…and yet I am still judged only on the labels that people have attached to me. Labels that are no longer based solely on mental health, but the added stigmas of homelessness, social isolation, disability, physical health, lack of education and unemployment.

More than anything else in the world I abhor discrimination. I hate (with an intense and fiery passion) anyone who judges someone they do not know based on their health, appearance, colour, creed, religion, nationality, sexual proclivity or any aspect of their personality.

None of this affects who are we and no person on this planet is better than anyone else. No-one has the right to judge others, let alone discriminate against them based on things that most have no real-world experience of.

That’s what I want to change in this world.

I want to shatter the perceptions people have of homelessness, mental health, social isolation and poverty. I want to spank the stigma and start making society understand that people living with these issues are not mere statistics, but unique, beautiful human beings with unique, beautiful hopes and dreams.

And the only way I can do this is to share myself completely the only way I know how.

My writing is raw. I don’t pull any punches, I don’t sugar coat my experiences nor use airy-fairy language.

My writing is challenging. I want people to think after reading my posts. I want them to ask questions over how they see the world.

My writing is personal. It would never win accolades from professional writers, but it’s true to who I am.

My writing is brutally honest, more so than many I’ve come across. Why? Because I’m tired of the lies and masks we’re forced to wear to be accepted.

Writing the way I do is exhausting, emotional, upsetting and at times traumatic. And if I feel the way I do after writing some posts, I can only imagine how it affects other people.

But if I can challenge just one person’s view of the world they live in; if I can alter just one person’s perception that people are more than their illness(es) and circumstances; if I can stop just one person discriminating against another; then I have succeeded in what I wanted to do.

Even if that one person is myself.

 


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I appear to be suffering from Blonguoritis

Today’s WordPress Daily prompt is:
Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

[blong-ger] noun;
Origin: derived from ‘languor’

1. a lack of energy or vitality when it comes to creating and writing blog posts
2. a lack of spirit or interest when it comes to the past time of blogging
3. a state of listlessness; sluggishness in relation to updating one’s personal web log

~ see also ~

[bi-blong-ger] noun;

1. a state of blonguor specifically arising from the mood swings associated with bipolar affective disorder; e.g. their depressive episode has resulted in biblonguor

~ both can lead to ~

[blong-ger-ahy-tis] noun;

Pathology: a prolonged period of writer’s block and lack of energy that affects the ability to create, write sentences, or voice opinion. Normally accompanied with a sensation that the brain no longer functions, a heightened confusion of the blogging platform’s intricate dashboard and a sense of paranoia that one’s blog isn’t good enough, normally leading to long periods of inactivity, curling up under the duvet and overconsumption of ‘Pineapple and Tahitian Lime’ Gelati.

Cure: there is no known cure for Blonguoritis. However, treatment options include:

1. Getting a friend to slap you in the face (or body part of choice)
2. Listening to 1980s power ballads (such as The Final Countdown or Eye of the Tiger)
3. Sexual intercourse
4. Writing prompts (such as the WordPress Daily Prompt, Plinky or a Blog Challenge)
4. All of the above, simultaneously.


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Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits…ahhh, no!

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

ME: No.

WORDPRESS MODERATOR: Excuse me?

ME: I said no.

WPMOD: Did you just say no?

ME: I did. No, no and thrice times no.

WPMOD: I would think very carefully about what you’re saying if I were you young man.

ME: I always think carefully about what I’m saying. Every time I write a blog post I think carefully about what I write. Can I use a better word here? A more entendre laden word there? Is there a better pop culture reference I can slot in? Or a more oblique reference that only those who really know me will raise a sly smile over. So when I say no. I really, one hundred percent, mean no.

WPMOD: You do realise if you don’t answer this question, I’ll have to send you to the Principal’s office.

ME: For starters, I’ll have the vegetable spring rolls. For seconds, you’ve just illustrated my point. For thirds, go ahead, ain’t nothing she – or he, given I’m not one for gender bias – can do to make me change my mind.

WPMOD: Addy, your task was simple, you are supposed to write a glowing puff piece about the amazing merits of something that repulses you. So unless you have a reasonable excuse…

ME: …I’m assuming a dog ate my computer is not a reasonable excuse…

WPMOD: …no, it most definitely is not. So unless you have a reasonab…

ME: …what about a dragon?

WPMOD: What?

ME: What if a dragon ate my computer? Or a wombat? Or a feral gerbil?

WPMOD: There’s no such thing as a feral gerbil.

ME: You obviously never met the gerbils we had as pets. They attacked my brother in the middle of the night, you know.

WPMOD: Now you’re just being silly. Until you’ve written your assignment based on today’s topic, you are not leaving that chair.

ME: What if I need to pee?

WPMOD: Then you hold it in.

ME: What if a friend pops around for an uninvited visit?

WPMOD: You’re socially isolated, Addy, there will be no unscheduled visits as you don’t have anyone who will visit you.

ME: How could you possibly know that?

WPMOD: We’re WordPress, Addy. We know everything.

ME: Then you do realise what I’m thinking right now.

WPMOD: Yes. An Orwellian reference? Really? You have nothing better than that.

ME: Anything to keep me from writing today’s assignment.

WPMOD: Why do you always have to make everything so difficult. All you need to do is think about lungbutter, or canine excrement, or octopi…didn’t you say recently you hated Octopi? Why not write an amusing post sarcastically pointing out the merits of eating Octopus?

ME: Well. One, I don’t want to. Two, that would be a stupid post for a blog written by a kinky (ex) homeless romantic with mental health problems. Three, I don’t want to. Four, who the frack wants to read a post sarcastically pointing out the merits of eating Octopus? Five, I don’t want to. And six, well I can’t think of one right now but I tend to write lists in sixes, as you should well know.

WPMOD: Yes. We’re aware of your proclivities.

ME: So why don’t we just agree to disagree on this one, you can totter off and freshly press something and I can make a sandwich.

WPMOD: You are the one who set yourself the challenge of answering our prompts. As such you entered into a contract with WordPress and will be subject to recrimination should you fail.

ME: Firstly, I am not contractually obligated to you for anything. Secondly, punish me, see if I care. I’d happily get sent to the principals office. Then, I could stand in front of him and declare I was standing up to my principal for not answering the daily prompt. Granted, it would work better if WordPress could arrange for the deputy to be in the office as well, as then I would be standing up to my principals. Geddit?

WPMOD: Unfortunately, I do.

ME: Meh, it’s late, and I’ve had a long day. You do realise your prompt is keeping me from writing a post I want to write entitled The Pleasures of a Painful Posterior (and other alliterations), don’t you? Which isn’t password protected, by the way, it’s about bicycles.

WPMOD: Well, if you answered the question you could write that absurdly titled post, couldn’t you?

ME: How many times do I have to say it? I. Am. Not. Answering. Your. Prompt. So ground me, spank me, give me lines, arrest me. Do whatever you want for there is nothing that will make me write what you want me to.

WPMOD: I may do all of those things, young man, should you continue to show such obstinace.

ME: Fine. Whatcha gonna do first?

WPMOD: This isn’t supposed to be complicated, Addy. This prompt is supposed to produce fun little posts that make people giggle and laugh…

ME: …exactly!

WPMOD: You don’t want to make people giggle and laugh?

ME: You want to know what repulses me? Sure, I don’t like eating Octopus…or olives, or veal. I don’t like Jeggings, for starters, I look terrible in them, for seconds, why do they even exist? Nor do I like The Frog Song, or reality television, being alone, academic wank, spiders, Alan Jones or, as you so eloquently put it, canine excrement. But I don’t find any of those repulsive. What I do find repulsive is hypocrisy. Arrogance. I find someone who decides that a homeless person is a worthless piece of canine excrement without talking to him – or her, given I’m not one for gender bias – to find out the what, why and wherefores of how he – or she – got there, to be repulsive. I find discrimination, whether it’s against race, gender, skin colour, religion, political opinion, Bond preference, class or health to be beyond repulsive. And don’t, ever, get me started on abuse, abuse sympathising or victim blame mentality.

They are the things I find repulsive, and given you know ‘everything’, as you so kindly pointed out, do you honestly think I’m the sort of person to sacrifice my moral standing to write a puff piece in favour of any of those things? On Addy’s blog today there’s a post talking about how everyone should discriminate against the mentalyl ill because, hey, stigmatizing a health condition is fun! See that woman in the pub, yeah, the one flashing the base of her butt because her shorts are on the tiny side, you should go over to her and pinch her ass. You should fondle her, degrade her, objectify her and generally do whatever you want to her because she’s a woman, and she was put on this planet to be your plaything. Obama was re-elected? W.T.F? What the frack is a black man doing in the white house? In fact, why are black people even allowed to walk freely in society? Same goes for gay people, and overweight people, those lazy bastards.

As for people who have been the victims of abuse? They absolutely deserved everything that happened to them. Of course it’s their fault. Don’t they realise that the abuse happened because they invited it with their clothes, their actions, that they dared to be born with a vagina – or a penis, as I certainly don’t have gender bias when it comes to abuse – and why stop there? Why not launch into a wee diatribe about how the abuse was a good thing, that their nightly nightmares merely make them stronger, that their ongoing pain is simply punishment for being a bad person who deserves to kill themselves.

Oh, but all sarcastically, of course. Just to give people a wee giggle.

WPMOD: I think you’re taking this a wee bit too seriously.

ME: I probably am. But, like the word hate, repulse is a strong word for me. I use it only to describe the things I am vehemently opposed to. And they are all things I would never – even if you grounded me for a decade, beat my ass raw, made me write a billion gazillion lines or put me in prison for the rest of my natural life – never, write anything positive about in any way, shape or form. Even sarcastically. Because all someone would need to do is highlight, CTRL+C, CTRL+V, delete the ‘this is all sarcastic’ line and they turn me into someone I would never be.

WPMOD: Who would do something like that?

ME: Who would tell someone who’d had a breakdown to kill themselves because their voice was so boring and monotonous it inflicted pain on everyone they talked to? Who would tell someone they deserved the months of emotional abuse they’d received that had destroyed their life? Who would tell someone that the rape they experienced sounded like a bit of fun? The world is full of shitty people, doing and saying shitty things, in order to get whatever they want in life and to hell with everyone else.

Personally, I want to focus on the awesome people. Sure, I want my blog to be entertaining, but I also want to make people think, to challenge them and their perceptions. And writing a puff piece about lungbutter is only going to make people think I’ve lost my mind, and I’m a hard enough person to like as it is.

WPMOD: You do tend to ramble on a bit.

ME: Yes, yes I do.

WPMOD: You have no idea how to end this post, do you?

ME: No, no I don’t.

WPMOD: Well, to help you out, I will let you off this once. But any further refusal to answer the prompts will result in immediate punishment. And you know what that means, don’t you?

ME: A password protected post?

WPMOD: Exactly. And we don’t want that now, do we Addy.

ME: I dunno. Sounds kinda fun if you ask me.

WPMOD (Shaking head): Good night, Addy.

ME: Goodnight, WordPress. Until tomorrow.


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Six things I’ve done that I would recommend you never (ever) do

Yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt was:
Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.
(What? I’m running late. Sue me :p)

1. Opt for love over a university course…

Once upon a time I was accepted into a highly regarded university photography course. If I’d taken the course I’d most likely be a world-famous photographer by now, spending my day’s shooting inspiring landscapes and releasing erotic/fetish folios under a pseudonym.

Instead, after chosing love, I’m an (ex) homeless socially-isolated mentally-ill man after the person I emigrated for had a relationship with another man, lied to me for years and never once understood how her actions made me feel in light of the sacrifices I’d made for her.

Yep, don’t even think about it. Choose education.

2. Turn down the chance of realising one of your dreams…

In 1999, my anxiety seized control of my mind and body and pulled me away from realising a life-long dream. To this day, no matter how hard I’ve tried this dream has remained unfulfilled. I hope it won’t stay that way forever…

3. Watch Catwoman

I watched it once…and then wanted to gouge my eyes out with a spoon!

If you really need a Catwoman fix, I recommend Batman Returns or a session playing Lego Batman :)

4. Let a friend down…

I’ve done it. And I lost their friendship forever.

If you value your friendships always be there for those you love, otherwise your regret will eat away at you from the inside like a vicious parasite and leave you an empty, hollow, husk of the person you once were.

5. Attempt suicide…

Overdoses…hanging…wristcutting…jumping…drowning…been there, done that, got the scars to prove it. However bad you feel, however lost you find yourself, however confused you become, however much pain you’re feeling, it will get better.

So if you feel suicidal, seek help. Talk to your friends, call a helpline, tell someone…anyone!

The alternative is not worth thinking about.

6. Streak down a major shopping mall in order to win a kinky bet…

…actually, no. I would whole-heartedly recommend you do this whenever the situation presents itself :p

W00T! Lego Batman!

W00T! Lego Batman! (Photo credit: Carol Browne)


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…and everything in between

Today’s WordPress Daily prompt is:
Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.

Photograph #1:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a poster for the latest Bond movie.

Standing dead centre in the frame, atop a familiar planet earth, is a man wearing a suave black tuxedo. He is the very definition of sexy; the sort of male you’d create if – in a random genetic experiment – you were to blend the DNA of Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling and Ian Somerhalder.

On his left arm is a woman with shoulder length brunette hair. She wears a scintillating scarlet dress that clings to her curvaceous figure as if it were a second skin. Her hand has slipped under his shirt to caress his muscular chest whilst he takes a firm hold of her hip. Hanging onto the man’s right leg is a second woman, a blonde in a purple cocktail dress that reveals acres of bare flesh. She is draped at his feet, her head bowed out of apparent submission to this God like man.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

The man is not standing on any old globe; he is standing on a photo montage made to represent the planet Earth. There are contracts for business deals, hundreds of receipts for lavish altruistic purchases, reams of telephone bills totalling thousands of dollars, several novels he’s written and millions of scribbled ideas, grand schemes and elaborate plans for world domination.

There are heavy bags under the man’s eyes from weeks without sleep, the odd bruise partly hidden by his shirt and a whisky bottle secreted in the pocket of his tuxedo jacket. In his right hand he holds a mobile phone, partly obscured by the blonde woman’s head, but the message on the screen is visible: 78 missed calls. As this message becomes clear, so does something else. The blonde woman is not bowing in submission, but out of pain; her face streaked with tears.

A caption at the bottom of the image reads: Manic…

Photograph #2:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a black and white artistic photograph of a bed. The sort of image you’d get if were you to cross Ansel Adams with Tracey Enim.

There are no pillows in sight, just the crumpled heap of a black and white patterned duvet haphazardly thrown across a dishevelled mattress. Scattered around the sides of the bed are half filled bottles of an unidentified liquid, crumbled tissues, discarded clothing, books and empty cans of beer. On a bedside table sits a half drunk glass of water, a few unused condoms, a mobile phone and an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

On the screen of the mobile phone is a message informing 0 missed calls. Lost amidst the sea of junk around the bed is a knife, in close proximity several scrunched up tissues splattered with a dark substance that could only be blood. There are also letters, thrown aside and unfinished, that speak of not being able to do this anymore, no longing wanting to be a burden and I’m sorry. Another note, written in more feminine handwriting, sits on the bedside table with the ashtray as a paperweight. It reads: Can’t do this anymore. Call me when you’re better.

Poking out the end of the bed, barely noticeable, is a human foot; the only visible limb of the person hidden beneath the duvet.

A caption at the bottom of the image reads: …depression…

Photograph #3:

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a piece of photojournalism capturing day-to-day office life.

A man sits at a desk in a pristine office environment, behind him a cityscape of high rises, cathedral spires, scattered trees and a winding river. He is typing at a computer, a phone nestled at his ear and a mug of coffee steaming nearby. Walking into frame is his colleague, she wears a stylish skirt suit and is smiling at the man as she passes.

However, on closer inspection other elements begin to become clear.

The man bears a striking resemblance to the person in the first image; in fact, if he wasn’t overweight, wearing glasses or dressed in a cheap brown suit you’d swear it was the same man. The woman is also eerily similar to the scarlet dress wearing femme-fatale that was hanging of his arm in the first panel. Her smile, which at first glance appears warm and inviting, hides a hint of derision and disgust, as if she is smiling out of forced politeness rather than any degree of friendship.

There is a bandage hidden under his white shirt, a memo on his desk RSVPing to a social function and an award hanging on the wall behind him indicating employee of the month. Attached to the monitor of his computer is a post-it note written in the same hand-writing as the note hidden under the ashtray of the second image. It reads: Have a beautiful day, beautiful boy :) PS…antenatal scan, tomorrow, 10am. Don’t forget! Love you xx

A caption at the bottom of the image reads:  …and everything in between.