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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Twelve Goals for 2014

Goals

The first item on my list is something that has been at the forefront of every ‘Goals for the Year Ahead’ list I’ve written since I was a teenager, and 2014 is sadly no different:

1. Cross item 1 from my list of things to do before I die…

The only thing which prevented me from completing this item last year was the financial cost of doing so. This year I’m adamant I will succeed, regardless of cost, anxiety and trepidation!

Last year was the year I (finally) tackled my voice hearing experiences, and even though I still have some way to go in this area, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the year I try to tackle two areas of my mental health that have caused all manner of problems throughout my life:

2. Tackle my body image issues…

So far this summer there has been several days in the high thirties and low forties, yet I have consistently worn a heavy pair of jeans and (more often than not) a stiflingly hot shirt, because I’m unable to wear shorts or reveal my upper torso in fear of causing an outbreak of vomiting and/or inciting a lynch mob. This year, even though I’ve no idea how, I want to create a breakthrough in how I view my physical appearance so that next summer I can wear shorts and/or go swimming in relative comfort.

3. Tackle my social anxiety…

This aspect of my mental health has debilitated me for as long as I can remember, yet nothing I’ve ever done has made a dent. As with item (2) above, I’ve no idea how I’m going to attempt to deal with my social anxiety, but by the end of the year I hope to be far less anxious than I am right now.

2013 was the year I threw myself into a series of psychosocial rehabilitation groups courtesy of Gateway Community Health. Even though I will be continuing with these groups throughout the year ahead, I’ve decided I need a bigger challenge:

4. Return to education

Over the last few months there have been many conversations between my support worker and I about the possibility of returning to education in 2014. The current plan is to undertake a ‘pathways to education’ course at my local TAFE to get me used to being back in the education system, before undertaking a full-time course later in the year. Only time will tell if this comes to fruition, but I resolve to give it the best shot I can.

So far my goals for 2014 – item (1) aside – have revolved around tackling various areas of my mental health and current life situation, but as we all need balance in life I’ve decided it’s necessary to set a few light-hearted (and fun) goals for the upcoming twelve months.

5. See at least six films at the cinema…

Despite this item appearing on last year’s list of goals, I saw only two films at the cinema throughout 2013 (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The World’s End). As such, I’m more resolved than ever to complete this item as quickly as possible in the year ahead.

6. Go on a holiday to Tasmania

Last year I set myself the goal of going to Melbourne; this year I‘ve decided to be somewhat more adventurous, for my holiday destination of choice shall be Tasmania! :)

7. Organize a social event for my Hearing Voices Support Group

As 2013 continued I became more and more involved with the running of the Hearing Voices Support Group I frequent, culminating with joining the committee that organizes the group. During some of these meetings the possibility was raised that we should undertake some social events outside of the regular group. As I wish to tackle my social anxiety this year, I’ve decided that it would be good to be the driving force that organizes at least one of the social events for the group.

And as with all of my ‘Goals for the Year Ahead’ lists, there needs to be a couple of immensely difficult challenges in which to test my commitment and determination, so:

8. Go on a date

To say I miss the company of women would be an understatement. Given that it’s been nearly five years since I last kissed someone, nearly five years since I last made love and nearly five years since I was in a relationship, I’d very much like 2014 to be the year that breaks my intimacy drought.

9. Write and self-publish an eBook

I can still remember the  joy and feelings of accomplishment that overwhelmed me when I had a short-story published in 2009. Since then I’ve hoped that I would be published again, but the surge of eReaders and my mental health impacting on my ability to write fiction have both impacted on this dream. So in order to be published again I’ve decided to focus my efforts on something I can do; namely, tell my journey through mental illness, homelessness and beyond. By the end of 2014 I hope to have completed and published an eBook – partially inspired by this blog – that is part autobiography and part inspirational self-help book.

10. Cross (at least) six items from my things to do before I die list

If I’m (finally) able to complete item (1) of this list, I’d be left with only five items! But even if I don’t succeed in realising that life-long dream, aiming to cross six items from the list is only one item every two months which should be an achievable goal. I just have to decide which items to focus on!

And to complete my list, I thought it would be nice to add a couple of blog related goals:

11. Write at least one blog post in every month of the year

This was an item that appeared on last year’s list, but courtesy of a relapse into a depressive episode, I unfortunately failed to complete it. This year, I hope to be able to manage my mental health enough to complete this seemingly simple of tasks.

12. Manage my comments and responses more successfully

This, as with other goals this year, ties in with my hope to tackle my social anxiety. Quite often I fail to respond to comments, emails and queries in a timely fashion because my anxiety intervenes and prevents me from doing so. Hopefully, in the coming months, I will be able to place myself in such a position that I can respond quickly, compassionately and entertainingly to any comments or emails I receive, and in turn, be able to increase my readership and online friendships.

All in all, I feel that I am being fairly realistic with the goals I’m setting for myself this year. Sure, there are a few complicated goals in the above list, but what would life be without a challenge?

Only time will tell how I go, and I promise to keep you all informed of my progress as the year continues.

~◊~

And this marks the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge. I hope your Christmas holidays have been  as happy, safe and enjoyable as can be. For those of you who haven’t done it yet, your decorations need to be taken down by the end of today otherwise bad luck will befall you, so get to it! :p

If you missed any of the previous installments of the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge you can catch up on them via the links below…and you can always play along next year when the challenge shall return! :)

| Day One | Day Two | Day Three |
| Day Four | Day Five | Day Six |
| Day Seven | Day Eight | Day Nine |
| Day Ten | Day Eleven|

~◊~

Other wonderful bloggers participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Challenge:

| Marci, Mental Health and More | Many of Us |
| Looking for Lucy |

If I’ve missed you from the above list, please let me know in the comments field below and I’ll add you as soon as humanly possibly so everyone can read your magnificent responses! :)


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Twenty (more) things I’d like to do before I die

The latest prompt in the 15 day blog challenge asks:
write about something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t.

bucketlist1

Just before Christmas 2005 I wrote my one (and only) things to do before I die list. Given seven long years has passed since writing that expansive list, I’ve decided it’s about time I updated it…and today’s prompt in the challenge is a wonderful excuse to do just that.

So here are twenty brand spanking new things I’d like to do before I die!

1. Visit the Table Mountains of Southern America

2. Publish an e-book about the journey I’ve taken through mental illness and homelessness

3. Participate in a nudie run

4. Be someone’s ‘best man’

5. Spend two weeks in Iceland

6. Achieve a better relationship with each of my voices (primarily Vanessa and Shay)

7. Have a beer with Serena Ryder

8. …and give the divine songstress a hug! :p

9. Read every book on the BBC’s list of ‘100 book to read before you die

10. Participate in a Russ Harris led Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training session

11. Perform in a stage-version of any Shakespeare play

12. Obtain a Wii U so I can play (and complete) the only Zelda game I’ve never played: The Wind Waker.
Note: Completed in June 2014 after my brother lent me his Wii U and a copy of the aforementioned game. Not the greatest Zelda game (that remains Link’s Awakening) but certainly not the worst (that remains The Adventure of Link).

13. Learn how to play the piano

14. Visit every state of America

15. Visit Prince Edward Island; home to Anne of Green Gables

16. Live to see a film adaptation of every novel in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

17. Cycle from Melbourne to Sydney

18. Live to see the 100th Anniversary of Doctor Who

19. Create my range of “Spank the Stigma” merchandise…
Note: this is a range of T-Shirts, underwear, bikinis, other miscellaneous clothing, temporary tattoos, key rings, badges, car stickers and other miscellaneous giftware that I’ve imagined. Each item is emblazoned with a logo related to giving mental health stigma and discrimination the spanking it rightly deserves.

20. …and establish a website to sell said merchandise to raise money for mental health related causes.

Only time (and my own personal hard work) will tell if I’m ever able to cross any of the items from the list. But rest assured, should I ever do so, you wonderful people will be amongst the first to know! :)

Previous installments in the Challenge:
Day One | Day Two | Day Three
Day Four | Day Five


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Days 29 & 30: The Long and Winding Road to Recovery

The final two prompts in the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge ask:
~ Day 29: what are a few of your goals regarding your mental health? ~
~ Day 30: what does ‘recovery’ mean to you? ~

road_to_recovery

A little over a year ago, on the 22 October 2012, I wrote a post about recovery that just happens to be the namesake of the final prompt of this challenge. I began the post in my usual random style:

As one half of my psyche lurks in the dangerous yet intoxicating world of nostalgia; recanting the painful, pleasurable and painfully-pleasurable events of the last five years, the other half of my psyche continues on its journey down the road to recovery.

Before continuing with my personal definition of ‘recovery’:

Recovery means living; not existing or surviving.

Recovery means allowing myself to be better version of myself. To not be controlled by the demons, anger and confusion of the past. To accept that these events happened and that I was strong enough to not let them drag me into the undertow. To understand that mistakes were made and to learn self-forgiveness. To give myself permission to move on from these mistakes and not let them define me.

Recovery means learning how to love myself. To accept that I do not deserve to be alone for the rest of my life because I am a caring, loving, talented and passionate human being with much to offer the world. To not allow the abuse I received to continue defining my personality. To understand that I am a wonderful person who deserves everything his heart desires.

Recovery means believing in myself. To set realistic goals that I can work toward; goals that I know I deserve to achieve. To stop endlessly belittling and playing down my achievements and realize that I am a man of many talents and skills. To give myself permission to be the man I know I am in my heart.

~ from “What does recovery mean to you?

Compared to where I was when I wrote this definition, I have moved further toward the mythical (yet achievable) realm of recovery; I’m partaking in more meaningful activity, I’m (very) slowly forming new friendships, I am (slightly) more contented with my life and although I don’t have hope for a better future, I do have dreams that I would like to achieve.

When it comes to my mental health, some of these dreams/goals that come to mind are:

1. Social Anxiety
  • Reduce my anxiety in social situations, such as: shopping, walking down the street etc.
  • Broaden my social options, such as: (re)continue going to munches, find new avenues to make friends etc.
  • Be able to contribute more, such as during support/social groups or online (comments, emails etc.)
2. Hearing Voices
  • Build a better relationship with Vanessa and Shay.
  • Continue building a better relationship with Audrey.
  • Maintain the relationship I’ve built with Meadhbh.
  • Co-facilitate a session of the Hearing Voices Support Group I attend,
  • Find a way to contribute more with Hearing Voices Networks across the world.
3. PTSD
  • Reduce the amount of nightmares/flashbacks I experience.
  • Re-empower some of the more prominent triggers I experience.
  • Reduce the amount of time I spend in a ‘heightened state’.
4. Bipolar
  • Stabilize my mood swings/episodes
    I’ve crossed this from the list as now I am back on a medication regime, I am close to achieving this! :)
5. Body Image Issues
6. Related Issues
  • Manage my finances more proficiently; such as reducing comfort spending etc.
  • Continue eating a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Continue going to the gym three times a week (at least!)
  • Continue blogging in order to share my experiences and (hopefully) inspire others.
  • Find a way to tackle my crippling car/bus anxiety so I can take more trips outside of Wodonga.
  • Co-facilitate another social/support group for people with mental health issues.
  • Undertake more public speaking, with the hope to inspire others by sharing my story.
  • Continue working with GT House so I can continue having help with all of the above! :)

With all of that said, I promise to keep you updated as to if/when I am able to cross items from this list! :)

And this marks the end of the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge! If you missed any of the installments, you can catch up on them by checking out the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge category. :)

Society does need to talk more about mental illness, and even though this challenge has been completed, I vow to continue talking about it (in my own random way!) until the stigma against it has been spanked into submission once and for all.

I’d like to thank everyone for their wonderfully kind and supportive comments over the last thirty days and a huge thank you to Marci, who created this challenge and made all my posts this Mental Health Month possible! :)


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Thirteen goals for 2013…six months on!

Almost six months ago to the day, I wrote a post in which I set myself thirteen goals for the year ahead. Today, I thought it might prove fruitful to review how many I’ve succeeded in…and how many more I’ve yet to go!

ADDY’S

goals for 2013

~ in no particular order ~

1. Cross item one from the 101 things I want to do before I die list [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I’m not really off to a good start, am I? I will be honest that I did have the opportunity to cross this item off back in July, but a combination of my health issues and lack of finances rendered me unable to afford/make the trip to Melbourne.

It is still on the agenda, although it is now looking less likely, with only one possible opportunity left; namely a planned trip to Melbourne in November for the Hearing Voices World Congress (which happens to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who and my birthday!)

Perhaps all this means that fate is conspiring on my side for a change!

2. Return to the Kings Domain so I can scream ‘Fuck you homelessness, I beat your ass!” [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I still miss it. I still want to go back. I still need to scream those seven words to find some form of closure from that nightmare time of my life…but as I just mentioned, I’ve so far been unable to afford a trip to Melbourne this year, so I’m desperately hoping that November will work in my favour.

DSCN0235

“Fuck you homelessness, I beat your ass!” (Photo of my ‘home’ circa 2010 © Addy)

3. Continue going to the Hearing Voices Support Group on a weekly basis

Okay, I’ll be honest here. I haven’t been every single week. Sometimes health, exhaustion and life have gotten in the way. But I am still attending the group sessions and I’ve begun attending the committee meetings so I’m fairly linked in with the group now…so, I think I’m allowed to cross this off the list at the half way point.

Hopefully you’ll agree…if not, there is a comments field below! ;)

4. Keep working toward obtaining ongoing mental health support

Yep, I’m gonna lop this off the list as well.

I may not have psychiatric support (given my previously acknowledged hatred of the system courtesy of a c**k of a psychiatrist in 2011) but I have kept up regular meetings with my support worker at GT House, as well as a pretty decent attendance record when it comes to the social and self-help groups.

I am also properly medicated (at a decent dosage) for the first time in years and feel that people finally give a damn about me. Which is a wholly strange and un-natural feeling given the complete lack of compassion and support since 2007.

5. Start writing my novel(s) again [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

Given the rollercoaster I’ve been riding over the last six months, I’ve yet to start writing fiction again. I’m still hoping that by the end of the year I will have begun doing so again…hopefully NaNoWriMo will help!

6. Smile more [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I still rarely smile. Sometimes I think I’ve absolutely forgotten how.

It’s not because I don’t like smiling (I really, really do!) It’s because I don’t really have all that much to smile about. Hopefully if I keep working my arse off, by the end of this year, smiling will seem as natural as frowning does to me now.

I am, however, becoming more aware of the things that make me smile – and always look forward to those moments.

lostyoursmile

7. Stop procrastinating about writing and sending emails [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I’m still an atrocious emailer. As I said in February, it’s all tied up with my confidence and anxiety, but I’m doing my best.

8. Expand my social networking presence [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I haven’t used Twitter since I wrote the original version of this post back in February. The whole thing kinda annoys the crap out of me now so it’s doubtful I will be returning unless I suddenly become hypomanic again!

9. Go on a holiday [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

There aren’t enough synonyms for ‘desperate’ to fully capture just how badly I want a holiday. My only real hope now is the aforementioned Melbourne trip this November…as money issues have rendered all my dream destinations unaffordable.

10. Make at least one new friend (in real-life) [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

Although I am trusting a few more people than I was in February – my support worker, a few cyber people (some of whom I’ve met up with in real-life) – I’m still isolated and incredibly lonely most of the time.

Perhaps (hopefully) come New Year’s Eve, I won’t be any more!

11. See at least 6 films in the cinema [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

So far this year I’ve seen The Hobbit and The World’s End…which means I now need to aim for one every month.

Jeepers!

moviesin2013

Films I’d like to see in 2013 (clockwise from left): City of Bones, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Great Gatsby, Iron Man 3, Kick Ass 2, Oz: The Great and the Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Thor: The Dark Worlds, White House Down..to name but a few!

12. Write at least one blog post in every month of the year [IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLETE! :( ]

Alas, courtesy of my most recent episode and relapse, I have failed to complete this item. Sorry.

13. To stop being so hard on myself all the time and begin believing how seriously freaking awesome I am! [CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE!]

I’m probably harder on myself now than I was back in February. Whether this is a product of my recent relapse or just because I’m a little older, I don’t know…we’ll just have to see what happens over the next four months! :/

Which means that at the six month mark, I’m two down, ten to go (as one is now impossible to complete!). Blimey, I think I have my work cut out for me…but, with number 13 in mind, if anyone can do it…I can! :)

 


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Working with Voices: Dreams

Previously, in my series completing the Working with Voices: Victim to Victor workbook…
~ Introduction
~

stars

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
~ Louisa May Alcott ~

My life goals…

“Close your eyes and think about what you want to achieve by working though this workbook. Spend at least thirty minutes simply thinking about where you want to be in your life.”

Several weeks ago, during the second week of my Hearing Voices Support Group, we completed this very same exercise. During that group we had considerably less than thirty minutes to think about where we would like to be in life, but I wrote the following dreams:

◊ To feel more connected to myself both physically and mentally
◊ To no longer be afraid of being homeless again
◊ To be able to talk to people without intense anxiety (making me look like a twat!)
◊ To acknowledge my achievements instead of constantly berating them
◊ To feel happiness again
◊ To see my writing published again
◊ Increase my confidence
◊ To no longer be isolated and alone
◊ To have a better relationship with my voices
◊ To love and be loved in return (cheers, Moulin Rouge!)
◊ To believe in myself
◊ To have a pet turtle (whom I shall name Magnus)
◊ To have a family
◊ To no longer be traumatized by abuse
◊ To be able to share my thoughts without fear of judgment, ridicule and humiliation

Now that I have had more time to contemplate, I would like to add the following to that list:

◊ To better manage my insomnia and sleeping patterns
◊ To build a stronger and more varied set of coping skills
◊ To become a functioning and contributing member of society
◊ To find a head space where I am not controlled by fear, negative thought or anxiety

If, in the future, I think of any further dreams I will add them to the above list alongside a notation of when it was added.

My goals for 2013…

“Then ask what would be realistic to achieve in one years’ time.”

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post in which I shared thirteen of my goals for 2013. As it fits neatly into this section of the workbook I have rewritten the thirteen goals, along with any updates of my progress (if there has been any).

1. Cross item one from the 101 things I want to do before I die list
Having narrowly missed out on this a few weeks ago (cheers poverty and anxiety!) this may (and I stress MAY) happen on July 13th…if all goes to plan! :p
2. Return to the Kings Domain so I can scream ‘Fuck you homelessness, I beat your ass!”
As item (1) involves travelling to Melbourne, this may (and I stress MAY) happen on July 14th…if all goes to plan! :p
3. Continue going to the Hearing Voices Support Group on a weekly basis
So far I’ve missed only one group this year and am actually looking forward (!) to attending on Friday after the break for Easter last week! :)
4. Keep working toward obtaining ongoing mental health support
I still haven’t found the courage to see a psychiatrist but I haven’t ruled it out, yet. I will also be doing more therapy focussed groups next term.
5. Start writing my novel(s) again
6. Smile more
7. Stop procrastinating about writing and sending emails
8. Expand my social networking presence
9. Go on a holiday
10. Make at least one new friend (in real-life)
11. See at least 6 films in the cinema
Still only seen the one. So now I have to see five films in eight months. Not looking good! :/
12. Write at least one blog post in every month of the year
January…check, February…check, March…check, April…check! Yep, all going well so far!
13. To stop being so hard on myself all the time and begin believing how seriously freaking awesome I am!
No change yet.

And as I am no longer constrained by the limitations of a Thursday Thirteen post, I would like to add:

14. To exchange a ‘hug’
Because it’s been far (FAR) too long since I was last hugged!

hugs

As it’s been so long since I hugged anyone I realised some research was necessary if I stand any chance of achieving this goal. I’m not sure if I’m capable of a “flying hug” just yet…perhaps that will be something to work toward in 2014! :p

~ Next ~
Nightmares