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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I don’t want to die…

Someone posted this to my Facebook wall yesterday
and I wanted to share it here as it describes how I feel at the moment:

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Update: So what am I doing about it?

Yesterday I outlined some of my current stressors; issues that are triggering my mental health into uncontrollable territory. It was a somewhat whiny, somewhat depressing post, but one that needed to be written. Life is hard for me at the moment, there is no joy, no happiness, no relaxation and no pleasure. I have virtually no energy and my loss of hope is making it difficult for me to keep fighting…but, as I have been for twenty-three years, I keep pushing myself.

First and foremost is my attempt to obtain psychiatric support, something I have been trying to obtain for the last six months. You would think this would be simple, that it would just be a case of contacting the local mental health service and – bam – I have a psychiatrist. But, as with everything in my life, nothing is ever that simple. The simple truth of the matter is Wodonga is a small town with only one public mental health service – and they dismissed me as not needing support in 2012, my first year in this town. The psychiatrist I saw back then treated me like crap, just as the psychiatrist I had seen prior to him treated me like crap. He believed (wrongly) that there was nothing wrong with me and that there was nothing the mental health service could do to assist me. He is the only psychiatrist available on the public health system in Wodonga. And I am not putting myself through another abusive psychiatrist appointment. Period. Thus, the only option I have when it comes to psychiatry, is the private sector.

For the last several months my support worker and I have been looking into this option. There are no psychiatrists in the Wodonga region that could help me, which means I have had to look further afield to Albury in order to obtain this support. And we have identified two potential candidates that may be able to help. Both are women (I am unable to see a male psychiatrist due to the misandry and distrust of men I have developed since my rape) and both have lengthy waiting lists. Also, because of the private nature of their service, I am going to have to pay to see them. But this is something I am willing to do (even if it means not eating for the week!)

Hopefully my six-months-and-counting effort in this aspect of my treatment will pay off soon. Whether I will be taken seriously is another matter. I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to psychiatrists (because I am a high functioning bipolar sufferer they tend to believe I have too much insight into my illness and, therefore, am not suffering from anything) but I’m willing (and determined) to give it a go. Whatever the emotional and financial cost!

However, I am not naive enough to believe that a psychiatrist will solve all my problems. The simple fact of the matter is (as my post yesterday attested) I am currently navigating a minefield of triggers and stressors, all of which are negatively impacting on my mental health. And the simple fact of the matter is a whole army of psychiatrists and CPNs are not going to change the stressors I am dealing with.

And my neighbour is a major source of this stress.

The noise that my neighbour makes causes me stress twenty-four hours a day. It is incessant. It is continuous. It is mind-numbing. How am I supposed to fight mental illness when I cannot relax for even a millisecond in my own house? When you’re homeless you learn pretty quickly what a home really is. It is not just a roof over your head. It is a sanctuary; a place where you can feel secure, comfortable and safe. And the simple truth is that my neighbour, courtesy of his endless noise, has made my house an unsafe place to live. Two days ago, whilst my house was under attack from his wall shaking video games, I self harmed for the first time in nearly a year. A year of hard work and determination was undone in a matter of seconds because cutting myself was the only thing I could do to deal with the cacophony of noise that batters my conscience on a daily basis. And in the moment that the blade sliced through my flesh I realised once and for all I can no longer live under these conditions: I have to move; for my own sanity – for my own safety – I need to move.

I am not under the innocent belief that moving will solve all my problems (again, I am not that naive) but it will remove a dangerous trigger from my life that will make fighting my mental illness that much easier.

The same can be said for Wodonga as a whole.

My trip to Melbourne proved one thing: I hate Wodonga. It is a town that is bad for me. It is a town that is amplifying my mental illness and making it impossible to live the life that I want to live. There is nothing to do in this town. There are no distractions. No social options. No opportunities to live and breathe. The longer I live in this town, the worse my mental illness will become. Wodonga is a trigger. Pure and simple.

Now, some people may think I’m being over-the-top, that I’m allowing the relaxation of a holiday to control my feelings in this respect. Of course I was calm in Melbourne, I was on holiday, everyone is calm on holiday, yada yada yada. But consider this: my mental health in Wodonga is worse than when I was homeless in Melbourne. I was more stable living on the street than I have been over the last few years living in this town. Why? Because even though I was homeless, I was homeless somewhere I wanted to be.

And, as with my noisy neighbour, no amount of psychiatric support is going to change this. Even if I do manage to obtain a psychiatrist they will be facing a losing battle as their work will be quickly undone by the triggering nature of Wodonga.

They say you only live once, maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not, so why would you live your life in a town/city that amplifies your mental health and makes living a chore devoid of excitement, happiness and social interaction?

As I’ve said twice now, I’m not naive or innocent enough to believe that moving will fix all my problems, I’m not my sister, but it will help in my battle. So, over the last few weeks, I have been looking for new housing options both in Wodonga (to eradicate the problem of my noisy neighbour) and in Melbourne (to eradicate the problem of my pathological hatred of this town)

The simple fact is something must change in my living arrangements. And I am working hard to make that change a reality.

As for my other current triggers, to be honest, there is little I can do about them at this time. My physical health problems are being monitored by doctors so only time will tell how this aspect of my life will play out. The same can be said for my current anhedonia and death fantasies; neither are going away anytime soon and, as both are intrinsically linked to my mental health, I can only combat them as best I can. Perhaps a psychiatrist will assist in this respect. Perhaps not. But even though I’ve lost all hope for a better future, I have yet to stop fighting.

I am just trying to do the best I can with the little I’ve got.

What else can I reasonably expect to do?


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Update: A wound up ball of stress and negative energy

stress

Sorry I’ve been absent lately. Life has become something quite unbearable and has not, in any way, lent itself to heartwarming, inspirational blog posts. Ever since I returned from Melbourne back in August I’ve been a wound up ball of stress and negative energy, triggered by so many things that I have no idea how to calm myself down and relax again.

First, there’s my neighbour and his daily cacophony of sound. If it’s not metal music blasting the cobwebs from my walls it’s his incessant video game playing that makes it sound like my unit is under attack twenty-four hours a day. The only peace I receive from his wall of sound is the twenty minutes he’s out of the house each morning, the rest of the time, it’s just noise, noise, noise! I’ve tried talking to him, I’ve reported the problem to my landlord, but neither has brought any relief. He just seems to have no idea (or rather, doesn’t care) how noisy he is being. And it’s been driving me insane.

Secondly, is the ongoing frustration of living in abject poverty. I can’t afford to clothe myself properly. I can’t afford to feed myself properly. I am regularly having to choose between medication and food; so much so, that a few weeks ago I went eight days without any medication so I could have a proper meal or two. Whereas the following week, I re-stocked on medication, only to find myself unable to eat for five days. It’s difficult for people to understand just how stressful it is to live having to make such decisions. When your entire life revolves around the paucity of your bank balance. There is no money for fun, no money for entertainment, no money for anything other than the barest, most essential of items. Truth be told this has been getting to me for years, but as with all the other stressors in my life at the moment, there is little I can do about it. I am too mentally (and physically) unwell to work so I just have to make do. And I’m tired of just making do.

Thirdly, is my physical health. When I was in Melbourne I felt on top of the world. Full of energy. Full of vibrancy. But since returning, since the stress took complete control of my life, my physical health has dwindled. For the past two weeks I’ve been battling through a particularly uncomfortable period of constipation, which has now rotated into a particularly uncomfortable period of diarrhea (I know, TMI!) but that’s not the worst of it. Last week I experienced another bout of abdominal pain which has my GP worried that acute pancreatitis is making a comeback. Over the last week I’ve had blood tests, X-Rays and ultrasounds, all of which has revealed no problem, but my GP is so adamant in his diagnosis that I am paranoid he’s going to put me in hospital; and that’s something I can’t deal with at the moment. Although (aside from the diarrhea) I feel fine at the moment I am stressed to high heaven over the possibility of operations and another grueling hospital stay. Yet more to stress about.

Fourthly, is the nastiness that is anhedonia. Nothing – and I mean nothing – is bringing me pleasure at the moment. Not DVD marathons, not reading, not kinky fantasies, not sleeping, not blogging, not food, not even Doctor Who. Nothing that usually brings me pleasure is working. Nothing is making me laugh. Nothing is bringing a smile to my face. It is just a constant stream of unhappiness, boredom and displeasure. And it’s stressing me out. How can you exist in life when nothing brings you happiness? How can you exist in life when all your life is just an endless array of misery?

Finally, are the ongoing death fantasies that have been assaulting my mind. Ever since reaching my conclusion a few weeks ago I have been plagued with haunting vignettes of my death; hanging, overdoses, slashed wrists, drowning. You name it, I’ve fantasized about it. They are in equal parts frightening and calming; frightening because, deep down, I want to live; calming because, on the surface, death is the only release I can see from my current stress. I have no intention in the immediate future to end my life, but the longer this stress continues, the more suicidal I find myself becoming.

The simple fact of the matter is life has become meaningless. It has become an endless stream of stress, unhappiness and tension. I want to feel happy again. I want to smile and laugh and joke and play and feel like my old self again. But how can I do that when nothing counteracts the high stress I find myself in day after day? Sometimes I just want to sit in my house and enjoy the quiet; but I can’t, because of my neighbour. Sometimes I just want to be able to walk down the road without running to a public lavatory; but I can’t, because of the diarrhea. Sometimes I just want to treat myself to beautiful food; but I can’t, because of the abject poverty.

Everything in my life feels wrong at the moment. Where I live. What I do. How I survive. And I can’t see any end to it. That’s ultimately where the stress is coming from. Every day from today until the day I die is going to be the same; noise, stress and death fantasies. I can’t see an end to it. I can’t see a way out. In life, we need hope to survive. It’s what keeps us going. It’s what powers us to achieve our dreams day in, day out. And the simple fact of the matter is, I’ve lost mine. It’s gone. And I don’t know how to get it back.


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Death is the only answer

As I’ve been having trouble writing lately, mainly because my stress levels have been so high, I’m experimenting with stream of consciousness writing as a way to overcome my current malaise. As such, this post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Tuesday 29 September 2015 between 10:09 – 10:33am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

death

Last night I lay in bed unable to sleep. The demons of my past forcing me to relive the emotional abuse I received from my sociopathic narcissistic cunt of an ex-girlfriend. Words like useless, worthless, repugnant, repulsive, selfish, waste of space, evil, pointless, unlovable reverberated around my mind making sleep an impossible dream. They were all the words my abuser used to use; all the words my abuser specifically chose to control my life, minimize my emotions and render me a quivering, isolated, self-hating freak. That was her intention. That was her goal. To make me hate myself; to render my emotions invalid; to destroy the very essence of my soul. And she succeeded. Last night wasn’t a one-off. It wasn’t an isolated incident. Every night and day for the last eight years, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, her voice echoes in my mind, continuing her vicious quest to assault my soul and control my life past, present and future.

For the last six days it has been the same. Night after sleepless night of reliving the abuse I was the recipient of. Night after night of hating myself on a level few could ever conceive of. Night after night of the ghost of my abuser pushing me ever closer toward the precipice of suicide. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. I’m clinging on to the last minuscule threads of sanity. Even when I wake up, even when I try to distract myself from her cruel, taunting voice, she is still there; still forcing her abuse upon me, still pushing me to rid the world of the repulsiveness that is me. That’s what she wants, you see, it’s what she’s always wanted; my suicide. An act that she believes would save the world from the most evil, selfish, repugnant human being that has ever lived.

And she’s convincing. Last night, as the minutes dragged into hours, I started trying to work out how many pills I would need to take to successfully end my life. I started to plan how best I could slash my wrists to rid the world of the scourge of humanity. I started to concoct elaborate, complicated plans involving a combination of pills, cutting and trains; the end result always being my death, to rid the world of a voice so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone it talks to. And as the plans formulated in my mind, I started to feel at peace, I started to feel content, for it dawned on me that this is what I want. This is really the only way for me to find happiness.

They say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And I have always hated that saying. My problems are not temporary.

There is no cure for bipolar affective disorder; it is an illness that I will suffer from until the day I die. It will assault me with its mood swings, with its madness, with its intricacies, and it will always, in the end, win.

There is no cure for post traumatic stress disorder; it is an illness that I will suffer from until the day I die. It will assault me with its flashbacks, with its reliving of past trauma, with its heinous nightmares, and it will always, in the end, win.

There is no cure for social anxiety disorder; it is an illness that I will suffer from until the day I die. It will assault me with its panic, with its control, with its neurosis, and it will always, in the end, win.

Sure, there is medication that can help control the symptoms, but there is no medication that will eradicate them completely, they will always control me, always take everything from my life, as they’ve been doing for the last eight years. Eight years. I used to have a life. I used to be happy. I used to have hopes and dreams, passions and friends. But now? There is nothing. There is just me. Continually hated by the world and every human being who populates it. I am nothing, a nobody, a repugnant isolated freak that, as my abuser so relished in informing me, no human being could ever love and/or care about.

It’s no surprise to me that I’ve lost hope for a better, brighter future. Over the last eight years, despite homelessness, despite rape, despite physical assault, isolation, mental illness, trauma and abuse – all of which I have fought on my own – I have worked my cute little arse off to become the person I want so desperately to be. Over the last eight years I’ve helped people whenever and however I can; I’ve replied to thousands of emails from lost souls searching for meaning, and done whatever I could to provide them with the hope they’re looking for; I’ve shared my journey on this blog in the hope it would help people feel less alone; I’ve even helped people actualize their lifelong dreams. Over the last eight years I’ve continued to write even when the world did everything it could to stop me; I’ve sent manuscripts to publishers for consideration; I’ve written for websites on all manner of topics; I’ve even self-published my work online because writing has, since I was a child, been one of my primary passions. Over the last eight years I’ve been there for people when they’ve needed me; I’ve offered support and kindness when they had done little to earn it and I have always put other people’s emotions ahead of my own. Over the last eight years I have clung onto the hope that my life wouldn’t always be so isolated, so painful, so irrelevant. But eight years of hard work, eight years of fighting mental illness, trauma and loneliness, all on my lonesome, has seen that hope evaporate. My abuser was right; there is no hope for me, I will never amount to anything, no-one will ever love me.

Last night I lay in bed unable to sleep. Memories of abuse and trauma assaulted my mind and I came to the inevitable conclusion: I am an inconsequential member of the human race. It doesn’t matter what I do, it doesn’t matter how hard I work, it doesn’t matter what I sacrifice or how many people I help. No-one will love me. No-one will care about me. Nothing will ever change. It will just be me, living in abject poverty, devoid of happiness, killing time until the inevitable happens.

Last night I lay in bed unable to sleep. And as the hours drifted by I came to the inevitable conclusion: death is the only answer.


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Robin Williams gave us a lifelong masterclass in comedy

Today, the world lost one of its most outstanding human beings. A consummate professional, a brilliant actor and a comedian whose talent was unmatched by any other. Even sadder, it appears that the world lost him through suicide.

In celebration of his life I am republishing an article written by Stayci Taylor that first appeared on The Conversation.

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Robin Williams gave us a lifelong masterclass in comedy

By Stayci Taylor, RMIT University

American actor and stand-up comedian Robin Williams has died today, aged 63. Today, Barack Obama posted a statement about his death and noted, in a rather odd turn of phrase, that “he arrived in our lives as an alien”. Williams’ break-out role was as the alien Mork who arrived on earth to observe human behaviour.

Though his long and successful career comprised sold-out tours and feature film leads, including Oscar nominated and winning turns in dramatic roles, I am still not surprised that it is Mork-from-Ork related tributes crowding my Facebook and Twitter feeds today, posted by my shocked and saddened Gen-X peers. I have now lost count of those making some reverse variation on “Mork calling Orson”.

These could be misconstrued as flippant responses to the tragic and untimely end of a complex and creative life. But for many of us, Robin William’s performance in the spin-off Mork and Mindy (1978-82) was our first exposure to this free form style of improvised physical and verbal comedy.

Fonzie’s water ski jump in the fifth season of Happy Days (1974-84) was famously deemed so ludicrous that the term “jump the shark” became television parlance. Specifically, shorthand for those moments when TV shows pushed the content past what their once loyal viewers considered believable.

Undeterred, Happy Days ran for another seven years and, in episode 22 of that same apparently questionable season, introduced an extra-terrestrial craft piloted by a character named Mork. That legend has a shark, not an alien from Ork, derailing the credibility of this popular 70s sit-com is a testament to the performance of then relatively unknown stand-up comedian Robin Williams.

Mork’s attempt to free an egg in the pilot episode (above) might just have been the funniest thing this 9-year-old had ever watched on the small screen.

As with all good fish-out-of-water stories, through Mork’s eyes we were encouraged to develop our own curiosity around human behaviour; which recalls a much earlier carnivalesque tradition whereby, as comedy scholar Frank Krutnik has observed:

the comedian figure’s alienation from or resistance to everyday social codes […] also displays the comedian’s creative dexterity as a performer.

If one function of comedy is to question the status quo, then watching Mork drink through his finger or sit upside down on a chair was an early masterclass in what was possible.

Williams of course went on to carry comedy feature films, many of which we might call “comedian comedies” – what film academic Geoff King defines as those films where:

The name of the comic performer, and the promise of the routine, is usually the main box office draw.

In other words, as engaged as we might be by Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning Vietnam, 1987) or Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), we remain aware we are watching the comic skills and techniques of Williams whom, fittingly in the case of these two examples and others, is often playing a character who is required to “perform” himself.

Good Morning Vietnam. BagoGames

English comedian David Walliams notes in his 2012 memoir Camp David that:

no one wants to be laughed at, and certainly not the comedian. He or she creates comedy to control the laughter at them, and turns it into being laughed with.

As a Mork and Mindy-watching, laugh-seeking child, I recall the same discomfort with unsolicited laughter, and was not comforted by (probably insincere) assurances that adults were laughing with me, not at me. Thus John Keating’s quip (Dead Poets Society, 1989) “we’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing near you” some ten years later was both funny and validating.

Whether it came from the pen of screenwriter Tom Schulman or not, it felt to me like Robin Williams telling the truth.

I can only speculate as to what level of responsibility must be felt when the promise of one’s routine is, as aforementioned, “the main box office draw”. But though Mork’s “constant displays of humour [were] not welcome here on Ork” (according to Orson in the pilot episode), those of Williams were most welcome here on Earth.

And will be missed.

If you have depression or feel very low, please seek support immediately. For support in a crisis, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. For information about depression and suicide prevention, visit beyondblue, Sane or The Samaritans.

Stayci Taylor does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.


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World Suicide Prevention Day: Breaking the silence

In 2000, I discovered that a wonderful human being I’d spent time with in Canada had taken her own life. Even now, twelve years later, I still think of the hole that Rachel left in my heart.

In 2009, I befriended a beautiful soul who had contacted me through this blog. She was searching for hope, someone to help her fight the demons inside her as all her friends had fled. Unfortunately, her pain overwhelmed her and she committed suicide. I’ve never forgiven myself for Stephanie’s death.

In 2010, a homeless man I had acquainted myself with decided to end his isolated, unloved life. He never revealed his hopelessness to me or anyone as he believed no-one cared. He was wrong.

In 2011, an acquaintance in a boarding house I was living in ended his life during a drug induced episode.

Suicide has touched my life far too much. Two members of my family have attempted suicide on multiple occasions, on at least two of these it was only good-timing that enabled them to get the medical intervention needed to save their lives. Close friends have attempted suicide; all good, beautiful, talented people who felt they could no longer deal with this crazy little thing called life.

The first time I considered suicide was during my teenage years. The first time I actively acted on these thoughts was in 2000, a few depression filled months after learning of Rachel’s death. In 2006, my desire to end my meager existence overwhelmed all rational thought. In 2007, I took both an overdose and, a few months later, tried to hang myself following months of loss, pain and abuse.

Since then I have done what I could to seek help before these desires overwhelm me, but that hasn’t prevented at least one attempt a year for the last half a decade; the most recent of these being at the end of last year. All attempts to gain support have failed, leaving me fighting these feelings alone.

Something no-one should ever have to do.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Today is the day I can’t stop thinking of Rachel, Stephanie, Gareth and Malcolm; of the losses that could’ve been and the surprise that I am still here to write these words. There hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t mourned the un-necessary loss of these radiant souls. Not a week where I don’t feel the river of tears that coursed my cheeks or the sticky wet blood that stained my arm.

Our society has a tendency to bury suicide with codes and cleverly worded articles. To a degree I understand this need for caution; this need to protect those most vulnerable. But fostering such a shameful silence only encourages people who need help the most to remain silent themselves.

Not once, before any of my attempts did I turn to family or friends first, terrified of the judgmental shame I had convinced myself would follow.

Every day in Australia six people lose their life by suicide. Every year, over 2000 lives are needlessly lost, leaving behind millions of family, friends and loved ones who will never be able to heal their broken hearts.

Forever left wondering what could have been had they known of the pain their loved one was in.

If they had just asked “Hey, are you okay?”

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Today is the day my heart goes out to all who have lost people to suicide. The day where I beg of you to think of those you love and show them you care. To raise awareness of suicide and convince the world it needs to be talked about.

Today is the day I urge you to end the insidious silence surrounding the most preventable cause of death.

My articles:

In memory of Stephanie: Her Grace, My Guilt
In memory of Rachel: Because you never know if today will be your last

World Suicide Prevention Day (conversingwithnovels.wordpress.com)
Suicide prevention a responsibility of all of us (napavalleyregister.com)
WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY – Sept 10th (thedepressedmoose.com)
The Funeral – world suicide prevention day (thedepressedmoose.com)
Creative not destructive – Suicide Prevention Day (radioadelaidebreakfast.wordpress.com)
World Suicide Prevention Day (gempayten.wordpress.com)
A deadly silence that has to end (theage.com.au)

In memory of
Rachel, Stephanie, Gareth and Malcolm

You will never be forgotten


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Unsent Letter #4: Because you never know if today will be your last

The idea for this series came to me last week whilst writing about how social anxiety has affected my life. How my inability to share myself with others prevented me from saying the things I really wanted to say. So, last night, I tore a sheet of paper into 100 pieces and upon each one wrote a name. These names were partners, teachers, acquaintances, ex-work colleagues, family members, old friends and random strangers who made a significant impact on my life.

Each day this week I will draw one of these names at random and then write them a letter.

The only rules for this challenge are:

1) The person will remain anonymous.
2) The letter should include unsaid things I always held back.
3) It shall be written as a sixty minute stream of consciousness. (i.e. no painful seven hour editing sessions, so please excuse any grammar and/or spelling mistakes)

So with all that in mind…[shakes beanie, shakes beanie again, once more for good measure, plunges hand into sea of scrunched up piece of paper, selects, reads name]…okay. Let’s get going.

6 September 2012

Dear ——–,

Once upon a time, I wrote the following advice in a blog post: ‘Life is a gift! Grab it, tear the wrapping off and play til your heart’s content’. It’s the only line of my blog I’ve memorized, because as you know, I didn’t say it, you did.

Four days. How do I write a letter to someone who I knew for four days some twelve years ago? A woman who carved her name on my heart for all eternity? Your sassy savviness, ——-, was always an inspiration to me so any pearls of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

In the numerous emails I sent you did I ever tell you that you were the first woman to leave your handprint on my cheek? That I wore the stinging pain like a badge of honor until the imprint of your studded ring faded three days later? If I didn’t, then I am now. If I did, please feel free to chastise me for repetition. Or not…because the only reason I bring it up is to thank you for it.

Since that night, there was only one woman who understood me enough to do what you did. Only they were less sadistic, so did it metaphorically, not physically. You know that was an option, right?

Sitting here, thinking not only of you but the potential people reading this letter, I’m starting to realize how messed up this sounds. There we were, sitting in a pub, drinking whisky, chatting nonchalantly, when out of nowhere you slapped me so hard my cheek was pink for hours! All because I wasn’t telling you what you wanted to hear. They’ll be thinking ‘that’s effing abuse’ or ‘Jesus, she sounds like a right a-hole!’

They won’t understand that it was exactly what I needed. You knew I wanted to tell you about Annie, about my life, about all the things you’d been trying to draw out of me. You knew my anxiety was holding me back and you needed to shock me out of it.

That’s what I always think of when I think of you. Your innate ability to delve deep into someone’s soul and yank out the person that you knew was buried deep within, even when they couldn’t see it themselves.

To my shame, and eternal guilt, I didn’t possess that ability. If I did, perhaps you’d still be alive, slapping anxious men into baring their soul before dancing with them through the silent Nova Scotian streets.

Dammit, ——–! I would give anything to smack some sense into you right now! Why didn’t you talk to someone? Why didn’t you talk to me? Why didn’t you get help? Why didn’t you see just how fucking awesome you were?

When Teri told me what happened I couldn’t speak. I tried to, so hard, but nothing came out. It was like being punched in the chest by a twenty-foot polar bear wearing brick laden boxing gloves. The thought that someone as vibrant, outspoken, intelligent, compassionate and downright sexy as hell  could see no way out other than…other than…dammit, ——–, what the FUCK?

Why? Why? Fucking WHY? Do you have any fucking idea how many times I’ve asked myself that question? Teri couldn’t say, she didn’t know, you didn’t tell anyone. No note. No letter. No email. You just walked into the fucking bedroom in the fucking I Heart Halifax T-Shirt that I fucking brought you and slashed your wrists! What? Huh? Fucking why? Was it my fault? Was it because of me? Do you know how many times I’ve asked that question? You were wearing the fucking shirt I gave you, ——–, you expect me to believe that when you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror I didn’t flash into your mind? I had a T-Shirt given to me once; an artsy-hipstery green thing with a print of a girl swinging from a tree branch, whilst on the opposite branch a man was hanging himself. Whenever I saw that T-Shirt for months I thought of her! I didn’t even have to be wearing it; just the sight of it in the drawer brought her back to me. So NO, I don’t believe I didn’t cross your mind as you lay on the bed and bled yourself dry over the one present I gave you. I’ve gone over those four days so many times ——–, every second we spent together, every word, every syllable, every dram, every touch, every hug, every near kiss and hip-bump and I can’t for the life of me think of anything I did to make you kill yourself! So please, I need to know what I did! It’s been eating at my heart for over twelve years. Maybe if I’d done this, or that, or whatever, you would still be here; dazzling the world with your killer smile and warped sense of humour. Why? Jesus Christ, WHY? I could have helped you, ——–. Teri could have helped you. Anyone could have helped you. We all loved you! So why didn’t you let us? Why didn’t you confide in us? Why couldn’t you share what was going on? FUCK-ING-WHY? God I want to scream! So many times have those words filled my head. Day after week after month after year. Replaying, repeating, analyzing, endlessly trying to answer the question even though I’ll never know for sure. Ever. Bound to live a life in limbo, hating myself for not sensing your sadness, for not seeing the black dog had taken hold and wasn’t letting you go.

Oh, ——–, I am so sorry for not helping you. For not seeing the pain you were in. For not being a better friend. A better man. Despite the hole you’ve left that will never be filled, I hope, I pray, that you found the peace you so desperately needed. I know…because I’ve been there. I know how you felt when you pressed the knife to your wrist, feeling the blade shake in your hand as you wrestled with the dilemma of a lifetime of pain against the blissful relief. I just wish you’d dropped the knife like I did. That you’d chosen to fight on, like I did.

We’re approaching the anniversary, by the way, not long now before I spend the day celebrating your life. I’ve done it every year for the last eleven years. Last year, I recited Henry V next to a stream in the park I was sleeping in (I couldn’t find a fountain). The year before, I toasted your life with a special treat of fish’n’chips. A few years ago, I even wrote you a story, a crazy adventure about a woman who goes in search of a man named Hope.

I don’t know what I’ll do this year, maybe purchase a studded ring and slap myself hard in the face for old time’s sake! You should know that I’ve never stopped trying to overcome my anxiety. There have been a few times I got close, but without a friend like you to catch me, I just kept falling back.

All I know is that I’ll spend the day locked in the endless torment of the ever-present why?

——–, you taught me life is about seizing every opportunity you can. Of grabbing the world with both hands and squeezing it dry. If you want it, go for it, because everything is possible.

“Life is a gift! Grab it, tear the wrapping off and play til your heart’s content.” Is what you told me once. “Because you never know if today will be your last,”

You were an amazing woman, ——–, we could all see it. I only wish that you could have too.

Wherever you may be, I hope we meet again someday, if only to get answers to the questions that have tormented my mind these last twelve years. If only so I can sit and share whisky with you again, laughing and smiling as if the world was our private ball pit.

Wherever you may be, ——–, I hope you’ve found the peace and happiness you craved.

With love, hugs and hip-bumps,

Addy xx