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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Melbourne 2015: Spotlight on Street Art

One of the things I’ve always loved about Melbourne is the assortment of street art that decorates its streets, alleys and laneways. No matter where you look, a talented individual has painted an awe-inspiring image upon brick, stone or wood. One of the major locations for street art in Melbourne has always been Hosier Lane, which runs between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane. There is so much street art on this single laneway that you cannot help but be impressed by the skill some of these artists display.

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Back when I was homeless, you could walk down Hosier Lane and be the only person in sight. Not so now. No matter when I took a detour down this alleyway there were always dozens of camera wielding tourists analysing the artwork and taking selfie after selfie with their favourite piece. It was a tad saddening, to be honest, the touristification of a once peaceful street. But this is happening all over the world as more and more people come to know about a city’s hidden secrets.

Collected below is an assortment of the street art I encountered during my recent adventure in Melbourne. And next time you’re in town, pay attention to the walls around you, for you never know what you may find when you least expect it! :)


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Melbourne 2015: Spotlight on the National Gallery of Victoria, International Collection

After yesterday’s excursion through the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, today we’re taking a brief stroll through the magnificent collection on offer at the NGV International. You see, the NGV’s collection is so extensive they need two galleries to display the work; one focusing on Australian artists, the other focusing on several centuries of international artists!

NGV International

NGV International

In 2011 the NGV celebrated its 150th birthday and acquired a highly important masterpiece by Correggio, one of the most influential figures of the Italian High Renaissance. The work, titled Madonna and Child with infant Saint John the Baptist, was painted circa 1514–15. The painting was purchased at Sotheby’s London for $5.2 million and is the single highest priced acquisition in the NGV’s history.

Personally, I much prefer the NGV Australia to the NGV International. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because the Australian collection speaks to me more than the international collection, perhaps because I’m more Australian at heart than I would like to believe, but either way, I still relish and adore the international collection. Wandering the dimly lit halls of the exquisite building still fills me with the same calmness, the same serenity, that the Australian gallery infuses me with.

In 1959, the commission to design a new gallery and cultural centre was awarded to the architectural firm Grounds Romberg Boyd. In 1962, Roy Grounds split from his partners Frederick Romberg and Robin Boyd, retained the commission, and designed the gallery at 180 St Kilda Road (now known as NGV International). The building was completed in December 1967 and opened on 20 August 1968. One of the features of the building is the Leonard French stained glass ceiling, one of the world’s largest pieces of suspended stained glass, which casts colourful light on the floor below.

The Leonard French stained glass ceiling.

The Leonard French stained glass ceiling.

So why not join me on a brief tour of the NGV International. Its collection is wide, varied and covers all cultures and countries. It is, without question, one of the best collections of art in the world; certainly the best collection in Australia.

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham)

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham) [Note: this is my second favourite painting in the collection, mainly because is depicts a tragic chapter in Scotland’s history]

Mount St Michael, Cornwall (Clarkson Stanfield)

Mount St Michael, Cornwall (Clarkson Stanfield)

Susanna Highmore (Joseph Highmore) [Note: I have a bit of a crush on this beautiful woman!]

Susanna Highmore (Joseph Highmore) [Note: I have developed a bit of a crush on this ravishingly beautiful woman!]

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Margit Pogány)

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Margit Pogány)

The upper level of the NGV International is devoted to contemporary art. Sculptures, installations and mixed-media from a variety of artists that, usually, I wouldn’t much care for. For as long as I can remember I have never been fond of contemporary art. There is something about it that irks me, that rubs me the wrong way. It’s not that I don’t understand it, it just leaves me feeling cold.

However, on this occasion, there was a beautiful installation from Borna Sammak that caused my soul to sing. A large, rectangular screen was suspended from the wall. Upon the screen ran a continuous loop of colour. Colour that exploded, danced and pirouetted before you. Unable to take a video of the installation I settled for a series of still images that I hoped would capture the ever-changing melody of colour that played out before me.

So when viewing the following nine images, imagine them moving, imagine the colour dancing, imagine a glorious symphony of animated wonder!

Splash Into Me Yeah [Still] (Borna Sammak)

Splash Into Me Yeah [Still] (Borna Sammak)

~ Click each image to enlarge ~


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Melbourne 2015: Spotlight on the National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Collection

One of the most beautiful places in all of Melbourne is the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Ever since I arrived in Australia, back in 2002, I have been positively in love with this magnificent building and the collection of inspirational art that is housed within.

Back in my heyday, when my mental health was stable and I had a loving group of friends, I was a regular visitor to the NGV. On my days off from work I would travel into the city just to walk the halls of this building and gaze lovingly at the artwork on display.

During my homelessness, when my mental health was far from stable and my loving group of friends had long since departed, I was a regular visitor to the NGV. During those long, brutal days, it offered solace from the chaos of my life. I would leave my bag at the cloakroom and spend hours studying the brushstrokes on display, losing myself (and the pain I felt) to the beauty of the art.

The NGV was founded in 1861. Victoria had been an independent colony for only ten years, but in the wake of the Victorian gold rush, it was the richest colony in Australia, and Melbourne was the largest city in Australia. In addition to donations of works of art, donated funds from wealthy citizens have been used by the NGV to purchase Australian and international works by both old and modern masters. The NGV currently holds over 70,000 works of art.

So it’s no surprise that upon my recent return to Melbourne, it was the first place I headed for. In fact, throughout my week-long adventure, I returned to the NGV Australia four times. It is, for me, one of the most calming and relaxing places I know. No matter what is going on in my mind – PTSD flashbacks, anxiety attacks, waves of depression – being in the NGV Australia soothes my soul and negates the evilness bubbling away within.

Collected on this page is just a small sample of the artwork on display at the NGV Australia. For those of you who don’t live in Australia, who have never had the honor of exploring this magnificent gallery, it is a chance to see the brilliance of what is on offer. For those of you who live in Australia, who perhaps have never been to Melbourne, it is an opportunity to urge you to find time for a visit.

It is impossible to be disappointed with the NGV Australia. Its collection is diverse, enlightening and comprehensive, covering every major movement in the Australian arts scene. Its collection is beautiful, ravishing and truly inspirational. As I’m sure this sample of artwork will attest.

So settle back and enjoy this beautiful array of art. You won’t be disappointed! :)

Collins St 5pm (John Brack)

Collins St 5pm (John Brack)

An Emigrant's Thoughts of Home 1859 (Marshall Claxton)

An Emigrant’s Thoughts of Home 1859 (Marshall Claxton)

Lost (Frederick McCubbin)

Lost (Frederick McCubbin)

Swanston Street from the Bridge (Henry Burn)

Swanston Street from the Bridge (Henry Burn)

The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, from Mr Glover's Farm [Detail] (John Glover)

The River Nile, Van Diemen’s Land, from Mr Glover’s Farm [Detail] (John Glover)

~ Click each image to enlarge ~


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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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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.

lesson4

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

 


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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?