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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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?


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Gathering Pieces

Day 04: A song that calms you down

Gathering Pieces | This Is Your Captain Speaking

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Back in the good old days. The days when I was employed, when I had a regular income, when I had a social network of cherished individuals, when I wasn’t governed by my mental illnesses, I used to spend my days roaming the streets of Melbourne, exploring all sorts of book and music shops. I would trawl the shelves for interesting titles, fascinating blurbs and ingenious covers. Anything that attracted me to the product. Anything that inspired me. And when something spoke to my soul I would purchase it.

One such example occurred one autumn evening when I was browsing the shelves of Polyester Music on Brunswick Street. I was looking for something new, something I had never heard before, and the above album cover sparked my attention. It was simple. Delicate. Beautiful. I didn’t know what type of music it was, I had never heard the band name before or read any review of their product. So I took a chance. I strode up to the counter, handed over my hard-earned money, and carried on my way.

The next day I was rostered off from work. After my girlfriend had risen, performed her morning yoga ritual and left for work, I poured myself a bowl of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes and settled down with my new CD. Within minutes I was left speechless. The music was instrumental; the compositions spellbinding. For one whole hour I sat on the floor of my flat, completely transfixed by the musical soundscapes that were assaulting my senses.

When the CD finished I did the only thing I could possibly do. I listened to it again. And again. I was spellbound by the intricate array of instruments and the notes they played. It was, without question, one of the finest CDs I’d ever heard.

As the months passed I returned to this CD whenever my stress levels rose as the music had a calming influence over me. I listened to it when faced with a panic attack. I listened to it on long train journeys. I listened to it as I strolled around a heaving city. And whenever I listened to it, whenever I allowed the music to steal my soul, I was left breathless.

This is Your Captain Speaking; one of the finest, if not the finest, instrumental bands of all time.


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Rise Again

Day 03: A song that reminds you of one/both of your parents

Rise Again | The Rankin Family

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My father is a music aficionado.

There is nothing he doesn’t know about acid rock, prog rock, folk rock and art rock. He knows his Abba from his abbandonatamente. His geschwind from his Gershwin. And if you were to ask him who was number 1 in the charts on the 21 January 1973 he’d be able to tell you. Not just in the UK, but the US, Australia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan as well!

Because of my father I became a fan of The Eagles, Queen, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bryan Adams. Yet out of all of the great music my father introduced me to; from Heart of Glass to Booooom, Blast  & Ruin, from Chasing Rainbows to Life on Mars, the song that will always remind me of him is one I shared with him.

After arriving in Australia I saw the opportunity to introduce my father to a selection of artists he may never have heard of. A world of music from the other side of the planet that would rival those he had introduced me to. Cue My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Archie Roach, Lisa Miller, This Is Your Captain Speaking, Kavisha Mazella and Laura Imbruglia.

Amidst all these CDs was a record (as in a record, of an event, the event, of people, playing music, in a room) from a country that wasn’t Australia. And it was this record my father picked to praise during one of our telephone conversations.

And from that record, there was one song that he proclaimed to be one of the best he’d ever heard.

And it is this song I have chosen to share with you today. For whenever I hear it I think of him and the gifts he gave me.


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Sunday Stealing: Let’s Not Be Difficult

It’s Sunday, so once again it’s time to exercise our brain muscle with a series of lighthearted questions. Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. And this weeks meme was kindly stolen from surveysurveysurvey. Enjoy! :)

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(1) Horror movies (which are the equivalent of comedies to me)

1. Do you like your movies and books to be more lighthearted or serious?

This entirely depends on what mood I’m in. If I’m in a seriously depressed, melancholic funk, I prefer lighthearted comedies or horror movies (which are the equivalent of comedies to me). But if I’m in a manic, hypomanic or just feeling damn good episode, I love watching more serious, thought-provoking movies.

2. What’s more important, first impressions or lasting impact?

Lasting impact is infinitely more important than a first impression. People who draw their opinion of someone from a first impression are missing out. What if a person is having a bad day when you first meet them, and that impression means you never see that person again. You’re missing out on a potentially magnificent friendship because you assumed something that may not be correct. Better to go with lasting impact, it’s a lot kinder.

3. Order these areas of psychological health from what you need the least improvement into what you need the most improvement in: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual.

i. Social; I am the most unsocial human being the world has ever produced. I have no friends in real life. I have no acquaintances in real life. Everyone I communicate with exists on the internet. And just so that you know, my loneliness isn’t by choice, I love friends, I’m a better person when I have people around me. It’s just I suffer from a condition known as social anxiety, which prevents me from making connections and instigating/continuing conversation. It’s hard, and it’s painful and it’s everyday. And you never get used to it. Ever.
ii. Emotional; With the plethora of mental illnesses that I suffer from, my emotional well-being could certainly do with a good massage.
iii. Intellectual; I keep my brain pretty engaged through reading articles, reading books and doing brain exercises. But I could do more.
iv. Environmental; I hate the town I live in with a fiery, intense passion. I want to move, it would help my emotional well-being if I did, but alas, because I live in poverty, it just isn’t financially viable for me to move at the moment!
v. Physical; I go to the gym two, three times a week. I walk every day. I do yoga a couple of times a week. It’s not bad, but it could be better.
vi. Spiritual; I’m not a religious man, so I’m not too fussed about this particular part of my emotional well-being. I believe in faeries, though, does that count as being spiritual?

4. Do you react appropriately to things and control your feelings?

Most of the time I react appropriately to things. But there are always going to be times when there’s an overreaction or loss of control. That’s just part and parcel of living with severe mental illness. It’s frustrating, but something I’ve just had to get used to.

5. Do you have stable relationships?

I don’t have any relationships, stable or otherwise. Which is pretty sad, when you think about it.

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(5) I don’t have any relationships, stable or otherwise.

6. Do you need to be in a relationship to feel good about yourself?

No. When I’m in a relationship I find I have an increased level of confidence and self-esteem, but I don’t draw my energy from the other person. I’ve learnt over the years that you must have a good perception of who you are otherwise every relationship you attempt will fail. If you can’t feel good by yourself, how can you expect someone else to make you feel good?

7. Which is the clearest and most concise, your thoughts, your speech or your writing? Which is the least clear and concise?

My writing is the most clear and concise because I can spend time thinking about it, writing it and editing it to convey exactly what I wish. My speech is the least clear, because it is governed by my social anxiety, which makes it difficult for me to think on the move or react swiftly to speech cues, facial movement or body language.

8. Are you always trying to learn new things?

Yes. Life would be pretty boring if we didn’t keep trying to educate ourselves.

9. Do you feel at peace?

Certainly not. Another disadvantage of suffering from severe mental illnesses.

10. Do you have strong morals and ethics that you believe in and adhere to?

Yes. I’ve found that fewer people are living to an ethical moral code these days. They just do whatever they want, whenever they want, and to hell with other people. The only thing that matters to most are themselves, and I abhor such an arrogant, self-centered view on life. So whenever possible I adhere to my strict moral and ethical code. Putting other people first; it’s just who I’ve chosen to be.

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(10) Fewer people are living to an ethical moral code these days

11. Do you think of the needs of all humanity or just the needs of yourself and those you know?

As I just said, I abhor people who put themselves first. Other people, creatures or the environment are far more important than your own self-absorbed life, and if more people thought the way I do, this world would be a far friendlier, more pleasurable place to live.

12. Do you recycle?

I do. Every week.

13. Are you active in your community?

No. My social anxiety prevents my involvement in community or social based activities. It’s frustrating, as I would love to be more active in the community, as it might mean I would make new friends and acquaintances, but I have to protect myself first. And if that means avoiding social interaction, so be it.

14. Are you sensitive to the needs of others?

Yes. I’d like to think that I am.

15. Do you dress up to go out?

I rarely, if ever, go out. But if I did I would dress for the occasion. So if that meant a suit and tie, I would don a suit and tie. And look jolly spiffing in it if I may say so.

Sheilas-Feb-Casual-sexism-3

 (16) Sexism

16. What could make you lose respect for someone?

Arrogance. Abuse. Defending an abusive person. Selfishness. Murder. Rape. Torture. Not accepting of sexual proclivities. Sexism. Homophobic. Doesn’t like jam. You know, all the important things.

17. If you won $1,000 every week until you die, would you still go to work?

Work isn’t just about making money. Work is something we do to feel alive, to feel connected to the world, to feel important. Without it we are essentially nothing. And I should know, as I haven’t worked in over six years! I would love to work, regardless of how much money I’m being given each week.

18. What trend has been getting on your nerves lately?

Selfies. Especially selfies being taken at the location of a tragedy, like those people who flocked to the beach in Tunisia, or think it’s acceptable to take a picture of yourself at the scene of a car crash. Have some bloody respect for your fellow humanity, you self-centered, narcissistic assholes!

19. Do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?

No. I am atrocious at forgiving myself. Mainly because very few people have ever forgiven my mistakes, so I don’t know what it feels like to be forgiven. My mind has decided it needs to hold myself accountable for everything I have ever done wrong. It’s painful. It’s exhausting. It’s who I am. Just the other day someone asked me to forgive myself, and no matter how much I want to, I can’t. I did the wrong thing. It should never be forgiven.

20. Is ignorance really bliss?

No. Bliss is lying naked in bed, smothering your partners genitalia with honey before licking it off with all your might! :p

Honey

(20) Bliss is lying naked in bed, smothering your partners genitalia with honey before licking it off with all your might!

21. What can be described as ‘even better than the real thing’?

My homemade toasted cheese sandwiches. Coca-Cola (which I have an unfortunate addiction to!) Chocolate HobNobs. And spanking.

22. What’s in your wallet right now?

Some receipts. Some coupons. A photo of my niece and nephew. A few moths. And, alas, no money.

23. Do you write letters that you never send?

All the bloody time. (Note: you can check some of them out here!)

24. Do you ever get the feeling people are laughing at you?

All the time. It’s part and parcel of my social anxiety. I’m forever adamant that I’m being judged, laughed at or people are planning my ritual public humiliation. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, but it’s something I’ve learned to live with over the years.

25. Who’s the one person you’d like to drop a house on?

Kim-effing-Kardashian! She annoys the living crap out of me! And if Tony Abbott should happen to be standing next to her, so be it!


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25 Songs, 25 Days: White Noise

Day 02: A song that reminds you of your most recent ex-boyfriend/girlfriend

White Noise | The Living End

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The first woman who took my fancy in Alice Springs was Rochelle;
a French backpacker whom I pashed in an alley (she was tasty!)

The second woman who took my fancy in Alice Springs was Sophie;
an Australian firecracker whom I spanked in my office (she was naughty!)

The third woman who took my fancy in Alice Springs was Kellie;
a shy Brit whom I got to second base with (she was perky!)

The fourth woman who took my fancy in Alice Springs was Diane;
an Australian Goddess who stole my heart (she was breathtaking!)

Once I met Diane my hypomanic self didn’t need to trawl the bars for fleeting sexual encounters anymore, because everything I craved was before me. A stunningly beautiful woman with a magnetic smile, magical eyes and magnificent posterior. It wasn’t one of those love-at-first-sight unions. It was a relationship born out of mutual loneliness; two isolated souls adrift in the middle of Australia, longing for love, longing for companionship.

Our flirtation began at the Camel Cup, an annual event that stops the town, and carried on through numerous evenings at the backpacker hostel where I worked until, finally, we ended up sleeping side-by-side. The next night we fell asleep in each other’s arms. The night after that, the same. We were a couple who hadn’t embarked on any dates, but had found ourselves drawn to each other regardless.

Over time we learned more about each other. Diane; with her love of takeaway food, Family Guy obsession and sociable nature complemented my lack of cooking ability, Family Guy naiveté and quiet confidence. We formed a unique bond. One that erased our loneliness and allowed us to feel connected to that strange, bizarre, town in the middle of the desert. We regularly visited the video game arcade to hone our shooting skills, debated the merits of takeaway pizza and embarked on camel riding adventures to thrill our bored souls.

But my hypomania wasn’t to last. When it ended, when my mood collapsed into depression, I wasn’t much fun to be around. I was tetchy, I was cranky and things that had once brought me pleasure now provided me nothing but pain. My mood, it goes without saying, dented our relationship. In time Diane began looking for other, more positive and exciting, people. I tried to remain the person she had fallen for, the person who had caused the magnetic smile to widen across her face, but the depression was too ingrained, too imposing. Throw in the ramifications of my rape affecting our sexual life and my time being stolen by my demanding, management job, and it wasn’t difficult to spot our relationship was in jeopardy.

When it ended, seven months after it started, it was painful. Tears were shed. Hearts were broken. But we knew it was for the best. We had sated our loneliness for a time, but knew deep down that this wasn’t enough to maintain a healthy relationship. The attraction wasn’t as intense as it should be. The love didn’t run as deep as we wanted. I miss Diane. I often think of our time together, the laughter we shared and the adventures we had. I often remember the smiles and the joy that marked the early months of our relationship rather than the pain and isolation that marked the end of our relationship. And during those early days, during those heady days of laughter, smiles and excitement, one song scored our love.

And whenever I hear it, whenever the rhythm takes hold, I am transported back to that time, and her magnetic smile that filled my heart with joy.


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Naked

Day 01: A song from your childhood

Naked | Louise

LouiseRedknapp

What better way to start the 25 Songs, 25 Days challenge than with the first single I ever purchased. There I was, a pimply faced teenager, naive to the ways of music and what makes it such a powerful medium. All I cared about were the pretty girls; girls who kept me entertained with their luscious legs and plunging bosoms. I didn’t care about the music, it was just throwaway bubblegum pop. For me it was about who bared the most flesh, who danced the most provocative dance and who made my heart skip a beat when I gazed upon them. I was, after all, a teenager, and teenagers can be forgiven for being slightly misogynistic! ;)

First and foremost of my musical based fantasies was Louise. She began her career as a member of Eternal, then left the band to cement her musical prowess with a solo career, her first release being the sensually titled Naked. How could a pimply faced teenager, obsessed with pretty girls, ignore such a title? It promised all sorts of sexual fantasies and illicit (wet) dreams. So I journeyed to the local music store – some twelve miles from where I lived – and picked up the CD single. A song that began a year-long obsession with Louise and her unique brand of ‘music’.

To this day I am not ashamed by my first musical purchase. Sure, I would love to say that my first single purchased was by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Queen, someone with actual music credibility, someone who doesn’t produced titters of amusement when talked about in conversation, but it wasn’t. My first musical purchase was a song called Naked by a woman who looked good in skin-tight attire; Louise. I can’t change that. All I can do is celebrate it. So sit back, turn the volume up to eleven and relish in a song that captured my heart when I was but a young wee thing.