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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Mental Health Blog Award

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The Mental Health Blog Award aims to recognise those who promote Mental Health Awareness in the blogosphere. So I am greatly honored to have received this award from not one but two fellow bloggers in the last few weeks. So a huge thank you to Charlotte at Panic Disordered and Aimee at Borderline Functional for nominating me for this award. It means that not only do people read my inane ramblings about mental health but may actually take something positive away from my scribblings! This makes me more than happy! :)

The rules are simple. Nominate five bloggers who promote Mental Health awareness to receive this award and give reasons for your choices.

My Nominees are:

1. Bipolar Maniac
2. Many of Us
3. Blahpolar Diaries
4. Imillnotcrazy
5. The Elephant in the Room

And my reasons for choosing these blogs is simple. Each of the authors care passionately about mental health issues, and write about the topic with verve, panache and passion. Their stories are unique, but they are all equally inspirational and their honesty contagious. They are blogs that should be read and enjoyed by all. So a huge thank you to each of these marvelous bloggers for shining light onto this difficult, most important, of topics.

 

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6 Comments

Blogger Recognition Award

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

‘Blogger Recognition’ Award Rules:

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

How my blog got started…

The place, Melbourne.

The year, 2007.

October; a month during which several things happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dad, I’ve started a blog,”

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

“A what now?”

“A blog, dad?”

“A bog?”

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

“A what now?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Six of the best: Advice for new bloggers…

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

And my nominations are…

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

 


11 Comments

Sunday Stealing: I want you to be free from me

Okay, so I was somewhat slack last week. I had a lazy weekend curled up on the couch and didn’t get around to indulging in my regular Sunday Stealing. But today is a new week, and I have a bit more energy, so settle back and enjoy another jaunt through the magnificent world of Sunday Stealing! :)

Are your nails painted a dark or light color?

I’ve never been one to paint my nails. Sure, some men feel the need to decorate, but I don’t. So at this precise moment in time my nails are normal, fleshy coloured.

Have you ever order pizza online?

I have. When I feel like treating myself I order Dominoes online. They’re not the best tasting pizzas in the world, but their online ordering system is simple and easy to use. Plus, they offer a tracking service so you can see how far along the production line your pizza is. Which is kinda cool! :)

What color was the last candle you lit?

Red. The best colour of candle. For that matter, the best colour of anything!

Is there something written on your shirt right now?

Nope, I’m just wearing a plain green T-Shirt. No writing, no picture, no adornments of any kind.

Is there a bookshelf in your room?

I have bookshelves all over my unit. I love books. They make me feel safe and secure.

Do you own a treadmill?

No. I’m too far under the poverty line for such a luxury.

Have you ever signed up for a gym membership?

I have. And like most people I’m active at the gym for the first couple of months and then never visit it again.

Is there a garbage can in your room? What color is it?

No. I’m too far under the poverty line for such a luxury. I just have a plastic bag hanging off a cupboard handle.

Have you ever read in the bathtub?

Unfortunately, I currently don’t have a bathtub, so there is no reading in the bath for me. But when I did used to live somewhere with one, I would frequently read in the tub. In fact, there’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in a steaming hot tub of water whilst reading your favourite book.

Have you ever had to wear a hairnet?

No. Like treadmills and garbage cans, I’m too far under the poverty line for such a luxury! :)

Do you know how many pages the last book you read had?

The last book I read was The Dead Beat by Doug Johnstone. A gripping, page turner of a thriller that had 250 action packed pages.

What day of the week does the laundry usually get done?

Sunday. Easily the best day of the week to do laundry. Unless it’s raining, in which case, any day will do really!

Do you use the Facebook chat often?

I never use Facebook chat. My social anxiety precludes the use of any real-time communication software. I’m much more at ease liking and commenting as I can take hours thinking of the right words to express my point of view. Something you can’t really do in chat.

Do you have any baby pictures of yourself on your computer?

I do. And to prove it, here’s baby Addy:

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Baby Addy | Leeds (1978)

Do you eat onion rings?

No. I don’t eat onions of any kind. Disgusting, horrible things that they are.

What flavor of tea did you last have?

Peppermint; my favourite flavour of tea.

Do you own a bathrobe?

Yep, you guessed it. I’m too far under the poverty line for such a luxurious item!

Did you/will you have coffee or some other form of caffeine today?

I abhor coffee. I hate the smell, I hate the taste, I hate everything about it. My only caffeine comes from the copious amounts of coca-cola that I drink. And yes, I have had some today, as I do most days.

Do you have a mailbox or do you collect your mail from the post office?

I have a mailbox! But only because there was one already in place when I moved in. If I’d had to buy my own, I wouldn’t, as – that’s right – I’m too far below the poverty line to afford such a luxury.

What was the last animal you saw, and was it a pet?

The last animal I saw was a bird, nonchalantly sitting on my back fence. The last flightless animal I saw was a koala at Melbourne Zoo in 2013. Neither were pets.

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Koala | Melbourne Zoo (2013)

What was the last documentary you watched focusing on?

The last documentary I watched was West Of Memphis, which focused on the trials and tribulations of the West Memphis Three.

Is there anything you need to remember to do before the day ends?

Eat dinner. My depression has been pretty bad today, so if I don’t remind myself to do it, I’ll go hungry.

Is your car messy, or do you like to keep it clean?

I don’t own a car. Surprisingly, as I can’t even afford a garbage can, I’m too far under the poverty line to afford such a luxury! ;)

Are you the type to wake up before the sun has even risen?

I used to be. I used to be a very early riser. But these days, courtesy of the psychiatric medication I take, I’m rarely, if ever, up before the sun.

Do you get uncomfortable when people stare at you?

Yes. What gives them the right to stare at me. It’s not as if I’m good-looking or sexy. If they’re staring, it must be because they think I’m a hideous oaf.

Have you ever been admitted to the hospital for a long period of time?

The longest I’ve ever been in hospital was in January/February of this year, when I was forced into a two and a half week stay due to pancreatitis. One of the most boring and uninspired two and a half weeks of my life!


11 Comments

Sunday Stealing: Shout Out The Answer

Another Sunday, another installment of Sunday Stealing. This week’s meme was politely stolen from My Random Randomness. Enjoy! :)

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Garibaldi, in British Columbia, Canada

Do you shout out the answers at the TV while watching quiz shows?

I don’t so much shout the answers out, I just mutter them under my breath.

Do you get over-involved with TV or movie plots at times?

Frequently. I love television shows with a fiery, intense passion. I love the (at times) over complicated character arcs and deftly plotted story developments. To be honest, if you don’t get involved with the plots, there’s no point watching the show. Getting involved is what it’s all about.

What’s the highest hill or mountain you’ve ever climbed?

Garibaldi, in British Columbia, Canada. I hiked it with my friend Annie one balmy summer’s day in 2000. We were going to swim in the lake at the top but decided that it was far too cold for a playful dip. We were having such a good day we didn’t want hypothermia to spoil our fun.

Do you have a piggy bank?

I don’t, but Meadhbh does. She has a Disney Fairies piggy bank that she uses to save up cash to spend on fun and frivolity. It’s got about $10 in coins in at the moment, only $10 shy of her goal of $20 for the Tinkerbell and the Neverbeast DVD.

What’s the fastest you’ve ever traveled in a car?

I have absolutely no idea.

Could you ever hand milk a cow?

If my life and/or the lives of others depended on it, I’m sure I could.

Which was your favorite science? Biology, Physics or Chemistry?

I hated all science subjects at school, although if I was forced to choose, it would probably be chemistry. I loved playing with all the test tubes and bunsen burners.

Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise)

Nope. No-one’s ever loved me enough to organise one. :(

Have you ever worn clothing with the labels/tags still attached?

Nope. Can’t say that I have.

Have you ever slipped on a banana skin?

Nope. Surprisingly, the last time I checked, I didn’t live in a slapstick comedy.

Are you scared of the dark?

Nope. I love the dark. It makes me feel wonderful.

Do you have a lawyer?

Nope. I live and abide by the laws of the land so have never needed the services of a lawyer.

If you had a paid year off, what would you want to do?

I would travel the world. I have pretty itchy feet at the moment and would love to revisit Canada, before traveling the length and breadth of the Americas, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately I live in abject poverty, so can’t afford to quell my traveling urges right now. But a paid year off…I’d be gone in a heartbeat! :)

How long did you last phone call last?

I can’t remember the last time I spoke to someone on the phone, but it was probably my parents, and would have been 40mins or so in duration.

Have you ever helped someone across the road?

Yes. Many times. You have to help people whenever possible. It’s the decent thing to do.

Have you ever been wolf whistled in public?

No. And if I was ever wolf whistled, the perpetrator better be ready to receive a flying bitch slap.


8 Comments

Sunday Stealing: I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly

Well, I’ve been incapacitated over the last couple of days with some sort of stomach bug/virus/assault on my immune system, but I’m not going to let that interfere with my participation of Sunday Stealing. So I’ve doped up on drugs (all legal, over the counter ones) in preparation for this week’s meme, which was kindly swiped from Gabs survey. So settle back and join me on another random adventure! :)

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(2) I do love Scottish terriers, because they’re cute and from Scotland!

1. Have you ever had a pen pal?

Not really. After I moved from Scotland to Wales as a child, I kept in contact with some of my friends, but the communication was sparse and only lasted a few months. It is, after all, incredibly difficult maintaining a relationship over several hundred miles, especially at such a young age. Although it probably doesn’t count as a ‘pen pal’, the long distance relationship I maintained with Louise, whilst she was in Australia and I the UK, involved dozens of letters, care packages and surprise phone calls in order to keep our relationship afloat.

2. What’s your favorite breed of dog?

To be honest I’m more of a cat person, but I do love Scottish terriers, because they’re cute and from Scotland! :)

3. Can money buy happiness?

No. There is no amount of money on the planet, not even a quadrillion billion dollars, that can buy someone happiness. It only buys the illusion of happiness.

4. Do you listen to music when you’re down?

Sometimes. I’m more of a TV/Film person when I’m down. There’s something soothing curling up on the couch to watch my favourite show/movie that never fails to cheer me up. Which is why, over the last few days of my illness, I’ve spent my time blanketed up on the sofa working my way through seasons of Doctor Who.

5.What is one thing you spend way too much money on?

Coca-Cola; my most frustrating and unquenchable of vices.

Although, it should be noted, that up to a couple of weeks ago my answer to this question would have been tobacco. But since giving up I have spent only $14.10 on this product. Something I am eternally happy (and deeply proud) of! :)

Coca-Cola

(5) Coca-Cola; my most frustrating and unquenchable of vices.

6.Can you honestly say you’re okay right now?

No. I’m sick with some annoying bug, which is increasing my depression, and causing untold damage to my anxiety. Throw in the constant battle I have with PTSD and related trauma issues…and I’m really not okay. In fact, it’s been several years since I would have answered ‘yes’ to this question.

7.What was the last thing you spent money on?

Panadol. I’ve just got back from a short walk to the local pharmacy to stock up on this delightful painkiller. It’s not something I wanted to do. I was quite happy curled up on the couch. But I was in pain, and had used the last of my Panadol last night, so I was forced to acquire new stock.

8.Is your current hair color mostly your natural hair color?

Yes. A dark blonde/hazel coloured concoction. The last time my hair wasn’t its natural colour was in mid-2007, after I dyed it a tragic shade of red whilst lost to the pain and trauma of mental breakdown. To this day I’ve never been able to explain why I chose such a shocking colour to dye my hair, but dye it I did, and looked like a massive tool for a couple of months. Just the ramifications of a mental breakdown, I guess.

9.Who have you texted in the last 24 hours?

No-one. I haven’t sent a text message in months. One of the downsides of living a socially isolated, lonely life! :(

10.Were you in a good mood last night?

No. I was sick and feeling nauseous much of the evening. One of the downsides of a viral infection! :(

Sick-Ecard

(10) No. I was sick and feeling nauseous much of the evening. One of the downsides of a viral infection!

11.Do you have a reason to smile right now?

Not really. As I have explained, I’m not in the best of physical health right now, and few people smile their way through an illness. It’s zapped me of all energy and left me pretty deflated. I’m hoping it’s not going to last for much longer as, after my pancreatitis and cyst earlier this year, I’m pretty over being ill this year. I could do with a few months feeling relatively ‘normal’.

12. How often do you hold back what you want to say?

Always. It’s one of the perils of social anxiety. Rarely do I speak what’s on my mind, rarely do I say what I really want to say. I’m too scared of upsetting people, of creating an (avoidable) confrontational situation, to do such a proactive thing. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t the case, sometimes I wish I could unleash what I really thought, but I can’t see that happening any time in the near future.

13. Do you think that in the end, everything will fall into place?

Up until this year, I did, but I lost hope for a better future sometime around my hospital stay in January/February. I now no longer believe that things will get better. I firmly believe that my life will be this miserable, lonely, socially ostracized nightmare for the rest of time. It’s frustrating, but until I can rediscover my hope, it’s how things have to be.

14.Are you currently looking forward to anything?

The only thing on the horizon that I’m looking forward to is a holiday to Melbourne. It’s not confirmed as yet, but I’m hoping to go the week of 21st August as there’s a gathering I’ve been invited to which would be a wonderful challenge for my anxiety. The rest of the week would be spent re-exploring my old home, visiting galleries and museums and generally enjoying a break from my humdrum, monotonous life. It’s what I need at the moment after such a rough, hope-lost year! :)

15.Do you have any TV shows on DVD?

Yes. To name a few: Eureka (all seasons), Nikita (all seasons), Supernatural (seasons 1-9), Doctor Who (series 1,2,3,4,5,6), Game of Thrones (seasons 1 thru 4), 24 (all seasons), True Blood (all seasons), Twin Peaks (seasons 1 and 2), Parks and Recreation (seasons 1,2,3,4,5,6) and Stargate Universe (seasons 1 and 2). I am a huge lover of the medium of television and have been most of my life. In fact, when they started released TV shows on DVD, my life was made infinitely better. So thank you to all manufacturers of such DVDs; you have made me a blissfully happy man! :)

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(15) Thank you to all manufacturers of [TV Show] DVDs; you have made me a blissfully happy man!

And that’s it for another week. I hope everyone is feeling both physically and mentally better than I am at the moment. We’ll be back to do the whole Sunday Stealing thing at the same time next week! Until then, wishing you all a happy, joyous Sunday! :)


4 Comments

25 Songs, 25 Days: Maybe Tomorrow

Day 05: A song that is often stuck in your head

Maybe Tomorrow | Terry Bush

littlesthobo

One of my favourite television shows when I was a child was the classic The Littlest Hobo. A delightful programme about a homeless German Shepherd dog who roamed the country seeking out people to help. After helping them he would then move on in his quest to be the most helpful dog in the history of the known universe. It was never made apparent why Hobo wanted to help so many people as his back story was never explained on-screen, but help people he did, and we all fell in love with him in the process.

The theme song to the show was written by Terry Bush and it is, without question, one of the most catchy theme songs ever written. In fact, when I began traveling in the late 90s I adopted it as my official backpacking anthem. Whenever I was moving on to my next destination I would begin singing the song, sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud, but always with a smile on my face.

In fact, I love the song so much, that when I established my first website in 2001, I named it Come Travel Light in honor of this fantastic tune.

Today, the song reminds me of my childhood, and it reminds me of those endless days I spent traversing the globe. An adventure that saw me encounter dozens of beautiful souls, whom I would try to help in whatever way I could, out of respect for my childhood idol.

So, without further ado, everyone sing along now…

There’s a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road is where I’ll always be

Every stop I make, I’ll make a new friend
Can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on

Down this road, that never seems to end
Where new adventure, lies just around the bend

So if you want to join me for a while
Just grab your hat, come travel light
That’s hobo style

~ from Maybe Tomorrow ~


8 Comments

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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It’s been a while since my blog was nominated for an award, so I can only thank Brighton Bipolar from the bottom of my heart for bestowing upon me the Sunshine Blogger Award. It is heartening to know that my words are read and enjoyed by people other than me. Inspiring and entertaining others is, after all, why I dedicate my time to write about such complicated and necessary topics.

The rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award are simple:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post
  • Answer the 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 blogs to receive the award, and write them 11 new questions

My questions from Brighton Bipolar:

1. What’s your most treasured possession?

My external hard drive. It contains a plethora of music, photographs and personal information. I would be devastated to lose it.

2. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I would be a wombat. Because wombats are cool! They’re cute, they’re furry and they’re built like little tanks, able to bound through any obstacle in their path.

3. What was the last book you read?

Smokeheads by Doug Johnstone. An addictive ride through the Highlands of Scotland featuring psychotic cops, illegal whisky distilling and love.

4. When was the last time you cried, and why?

I cried last Saturday. I became overwhelmed with nostalgia and melancholy and couldn’t resist a cleansing weeping.

5. If you wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

All that I am, All that I ever was. I know it’s the title of my blog, but it would also be the title of my autobiography, as it suits what I would write about.

6. If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?

Invisibility; it would be interesting to roam around, casually helping people without them knowing I was there.

7. What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour?

Mint. I love mint flavoured ice cream with a fiery, intense passion.

8. Do you remember your dreams, and if so, are they in black and white or colour?

I don’t always remember my dreams, but when I do, they are in absolute rainbow tinted technicolour.

9. What would you say is your best quality?

My determination to be there for people when I’m needed. I have failed in this endeavor in the past, but we all make mistakes.

10. If it were possible to live for hundreds of years, would you and why?

No. Life is complicated, painful and altogether depressing. Why would you want to extend the agony?

11. Are you good at keeping secrets?

Yes. When I know something that other people want kept secret, I will take that information to the grave.

The eleven blogs I nominate are:

  1. Panic Disordered
  2. Blahpolar Diaries
  3. Borderline Functional
  4. Many of Us
  5. Marci, Mental Health and More
  6. Strong Enough to Break
  7. Rose with Thorns
  8. Dearest Someone…
  9. Summer Solstice Musings
  10. Resurfacing and Rewriting
  11. Heather’s Helpers

 

And the eleven questions for my nominated blogs:

1. If you could have a pet dragon, what would you name him/her?
2. What is you favourite book of all time?
3. If a movie was made about your life, who would play your love interest?
4. What country would you most like to visit? And why?
5. What are three things that fill you with happiness?
6. What is something that no-one else knows about you?
7. How do you think mental health services could be improved in your country?
8. Chocolate or Ice-cream?
9. What is one of your favourite quotes?
10. What is your happiest memory?
11. Why do you blog?