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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Loneliness isn’t a destination…

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of my pet peeves. A short while later, I wrote about a few more. On both occasions I missed something that has infuriated me for years, something that I’d written about with some rare anger in the past.

Yes, I understand that people who are full-time employed with no health problems, who are part of a social network, have regular communication with society, have someone to go home to every night and whose family live in close proximity can feel lonely. I’m not completely devoid of empathy or the ability to understand basic human psychology.

However, I am left wondering if these people have an understanding of what it feels like to be really, truly, utterly alone.

In July 2007 I was assaulted and raped. Sitting in a dingy motel room the following afternoon all I wanted to do was talk to someone. I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. I needed someone to tell me it wasn’t my fault. I needed someone, anyone, to show that they cared. But after an emotionally abusive relationship had torn my life to shreds and a mental breakdown had left my mind in tatters, I has no one to turn to as I couldn’t risk my abuser discovering what had happened as she would have used it against me.

In October 2007, after eight months of accumulating pain and devastation I hiked into the middle of a forest and attempted to hang myself. After being taken to the hospital by the police I was discharged twenty minutes later and told I was ‘fine’. Sitting in my dingy flat that weekend, too frightened and out-of-it to leave the couch, all I wanted was a friend, but I had no-one; not a soul.

When you have spent years living in a park dealing with daily verbal abuse, sporadic physical abuse, the occasional non-consensual golden shower from a drunken idiot and months of blacked-out confusion, you begin to understand what real, true loneliness is.

Four years after my suicide attempt in 2007, almost to the day, I staggered into a phone booth in a nondescript Australian country town. With shaking fingers I dialled 13 11 14 and waiting patiently for an operator. I’d phoned Lifeline many times before, always when I had no other choice, always when I could no longer fight the isolation and pain I was feeling, always knowing that within seconds they would trigger me into feeling ten times worse.

After telling them I was suicidal, that I wanted to die, that I wanted to erase my pathetic existence from the world, they said it:

“Perhaps you should call a friend and get them to come over? Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone to distract you from these thoughts,”

“I agree,” I snapped. “If I had a friend I would call them. But I don’t. I’m homeless. I’m insane. I’ve been on my own for longer than I can remember. That’s why I want to kill myself. Because I’m f**king tired of being on my f**king own so don’t f**king tell me to call a f**king friend because that’s half the f**king problem!”

After several deep breaths I began talking (with less naughty words) about the pain that had driven me, once again, to think such bleak thoughts. There are times when I can cope with this all-consuming isolation. Having been in this position for so many years I’ve become used to spending every minute of my life by myself, I’ve convinced myself I deserve it. But from time-to-time the intense, numbing pain of being truly alone overwhelms me, drives me to plan my death and leads me toward public phone booths where I engage in humiliating conversations about my failures in life, friendship and everything in between.

Fifteen minutes into that phone call I was reduced to a trembling, sobbing, wreck. Not by the Lifeline counselor, but by the pedestrians casually enjoying their day. Like good little sadists they were relishing in the human disintegration before them. Oh, just bugger off and do it, one twentysomething male called out. Three female college students laughed at this, turned to see me, then laughed harder. Pathetic, one of them whispered at a deliberate volume.

There is nothing to hammer home the extent of your loneliness than random verbal abuse from strangers. In spite of the best efforts of the counselor, who referred me to the MH crisis team (“they’ll contact you in the next 24-48 hours”), I attempted suicide later that day.

Fortunately the attempt failed, but whenever I think of the comments those people hurled in my direction, I am reminded of my loneliness. Of my mistakes; of my failures; of the abuse I received; of all that has happened that led to this isolation.

But I am also reminded of my determination to not only pass through this place of loneliness on my journey toward recovery, but to do whatever I can to help others who have found themselves trapped in a similar, unfamiliar state. No-one deserves to live their lives alone, devoid of hugs, human contact and all the aspects of life most people take for granted.

Take it from someone who knows, a simple act of compassion can be more healing than any medication or therapy on the planet.

So why not try it today?

You can read other interpreations of today’s theme by visiting the WordPress’ Daily Post blog.

 


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Now, does anyone have any paracetamol?

Well, I survived.

I may be hung-over and hurting, but I survived, which I guess is what’s important.

Yesterday was probably the hardest 11 October for me to get through since the fated 2007 day it commemorated. All day my mind was locked into the pain of that year; of the abuse, the suicide attempts, the illness, the rape and the lack of support from friends and health services.

And yet it didn’t occur to me until this morning, lost in the quagmire of hung-over deadness, why it was so much harder to get through than the last few years. It wasn’t just because it was the fifth anniversary but because the situation I am currently in is so similar to where I was in 2007; living alone in a dingy flat, no-one in real life to turn to for support, the belief that my life will never be better than this and the ongoing, ever-present loneliness that permeates through my life.

Five years and nothing has changed, despite all my best efforts.

I keep feeling I should apologise for my mood this week. For not writing decent blog posts and for filling those I have written with continual mentions of that day. It may look to some that I’m sympathy/pity seeking…but I’m not. I write what’s on my mind – and whether I like it or not – what’s been on my mind these last several days has been that day at the end of that year and the cavalcade of questions that have crippled me over the last half decade.

If I’d been kept in hospital, could the events of the last five years have been avoided? What if someone had believed the abuse, could I have avoided that noose? Would it have been better had I succeeded? What did I do to deserve what happened to me? Will I ever forgive myself? Will I ever be able to move past the pain? Or is this all I have to look forward to? Is this endless punishment all I deserve in life?

I know the answers to some of those questions; I just don’t believe them. It’s an unfortunate bi-product of the abuse, of being repeatedly told you’re the most worthless person to have ever lived, and when no-one is taking your side and telling you otherwise, sooner or later your mind just accepts it.

I’m still feeling mentally numb – something the hang-over isn’t really helping with – but I’m hoping that the worst is over and I’ll be able to return to writing and focusing on what I need to do to keep fighting. It is getting harder, I’ve been honest about that in the past, but until I have nothing left I will keep going.

For now, thank you to everyone for your support this week, it means more than I have words to describe :)

Now, does anyone have any paracetamol?


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1 Phrase that describes me…

The first thing that came to mind was a three word phrase made famous by the television program Top Gear:

But the more I think about it, this is doing myself a massive disservice, for it is not my thinking – but that of my abuser.

For the last five years I have been through some of the most horrendous shit you could possibly imagine. In fact, don’t even try to imagine it, you really don’t want to! Yet, despite all the darkness; the mood swings, hallucinations, isolation, psychosis, mania, anxiety, depression, homelessness and god knows what else life chooses to throw at me. I’m still here. Still being me. Still trying to sort out my life. Still pushing myself to be a better person. Still trying to help others whenever I can (and yes, I’m not perfect, but what human being is?)

No matter what gets thrown at me I’m still the slightly insane, far-too-caring, slightly kinky, honest, deeply passionate, creative, hard-working, effing magnificent bastard that I always have been!

So, the only phrase that comes to mind was made famous by someone very famous indeed:

Tomorrow: A Brand spanking new challenge
(which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s about spanking, but who knows, maybe it will be :p
)


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10 People I can’t live without…

Given I have lived with only family interaction for so many years, I have absolutely no idea how I am going to answer this question. Do I take a dip into my past and write about the 10 People I couldn’t live without in 2006? Or do I just skip this question as it’s just going to trigger my loneliness and send me spiralling into a flaming pit of perpetual pain for an indefinite period of time?

But if I were to do that I would be failing in this challenge, and that would trigger all sorts of even more unbearable pain, so…

…I will tell you the ten people who have left a gaping hole in my heart, the ones I miss each and every day, the ones I’d have been able to keep as friends if it weren’t for my insanity and selfishness.

I once described Annie as being the first person in my life that I had an instantaneous connection with. Normally, upon meeting someone new, especially someone as ravishingly beautiful, my anxiety would rocket into the stratosphere and I’d be rendered either mute or able to communicate only in monosyllabic grunts and humphs.

Not so with Annie.

We first met at a backpacker hostel in Canada and talking with her was easy. I’m not sure if it was the alcohol or the fact I was feeling overwhelmingly confident because of the travelling, but gone were the grunts and in were the comprehensible questions and sentences. After that first night we made arrangements to visit the hot springs the following night, but she became trapped up a mountain so we altered our plans for the third night, only the car ran out of gas so we had to cancel once again. By now we were spending most of the day together – hiking the wilderness, boating, consuming subways – and on the fourth day we finally got to the hot springs.

After farewelling her I continued my travels but the thought of our time together lingered, and after completing my west to east coast travels, turned around to spend some more time with her. For a little over a week I crashed at her place. We watched random movies, went on tourist trips, hiked up a mountain and camped together. She probably knew I had a massive crush on her – and if she didn’t, she certainly does now – as I’ve been fairly vocal over the years on this blog about the amount of time I’ve spent scolding myself for not sharing my feelings with her all those years ago. But, as I’ve said before, her boyfriend interfered with my annoying ethical code.

I’ve long believed that if we’d lived in the same country I could have had a wonderful friendship with Annie, perhaps this is just looking back with rose-tinted glasses on one of the people who made my Canadian odyssey so special, but whenever I think of her, I think of how happy I was and how, for the first time, I communicated with someone without being held back by my anxiety.

My biggest memories of Annie: she was the first woman I ever applied sunscreen to, her minor panic attack when she realised we may run out of gas in the middle of bear territory, hugging her goodbye, when I used my rancid socks as a fire starter whilst camping, the fact that she made me laugh more than anyone I’d met up to that point and she was responsible for my first taste of cherry. In terms of the fruit! The fruit people!

It should go without saying that I miss both Rachel and Stephanie. Over the years that I’ve been writing this blog I have spoken of them both regularly. Rachel, whom I met in Canada, took her life in Autumn 2000 leaving me reeling with answers that I will never know the answers to.

My biggest memories of Rachel: endless drinking in Halifax, drunken karaoke of Northwest Passage, a public Shakespeare rendition and the fact she physically slapped the anxiety out of me.

Stephanie, meanwhile, took her life in Spring 2009 after we connected online via my blog. Both women are people I sincerely believe I could have remained friends with – Stephanie, especially, as we shared a similar history and odd sense of humor – but alas it was not to be. As I have said before, I blame myself for both deaths, and no matter what that guilt will never leave me.

My biggest memories of Steph: long email & MSN chats and hope.

 Both Timothy and Lisbeth are people I didn’t know all that well, so perhaps the ‘left a whole in my heart’ tag is a little over the top, but both are perfect examples of how my anxiety affected my ability to make friends.  Timothy and I went to the same school and shared a few classes but didn’t really spend much time together until we ended up working together after school finished.

My biggest memories of Timothy: driving to work, and sharing the shock of Stanley Kubrick’s death.

Lisbeth, on the other hand, I worked with at a hostel much later in life and she had an innate ability to make me laugh. Very intelligent, she had  fantastic personality and was always someone I’d wished I’d been able to get to know outside of work.

My biggest memories of Lisbeth: a brilliant shift we worked together in 2006 with lots of laughs and pointless fun.

Louise is another name that would be familiar to readers of this blog. She holds the honor of being my first relationship and a woman whom I sacrificed pretty much everything in my life to be with. Unfortunately, the relationship did not last, but I have long hoped that her life became something wonderful for after spending so many years living with, it’s hard to want for anything else.

My biggest memories of Louise: too many to list here!

Deborah, meanwhile, was my first real friend. We met in a backpacker hostel in Scotland where we were both long-terming over the winter. A source of great knowledge and compassion, Deb and I slowly developed a friendship that carried on via letters for years. I haven’t heard from her in years, and probably never will again, but I’ve always cherished our friendship.

My biggest memories of Deborah: seeing her again in Canada, lighting a fire for her at 4am, endless late night conversations, wondering if she saw the porn on my computer when she walked in unannounced one evening.

Sammi was the last friend I made in the non cyber-world. I’ve written of the night we met (and my shame over how) in the past but have yet to truly explain the gift she brought to my life. Although we only knew each other for a short period of time, face-to-face even briefer, she taught me that the most important thing in life is to accept who you are and not be afraid of whatever that may be.

My biggest memories of Sammi: the night we spent together in Adelaide and the time we had in Glasgow.

Russell, on the other hand, taught me many things as he was one of my teachers – one of the best I ever had! Often maligned within our school as an easy grade he was a delightfully eccentric man who I often wish I could catch up for a beer to thank him for the support he gave me in my early years of writing and for the bullying I received.

My biggest memories of Russell: the conversations we had over the various scripts and stories I would write.

It’s hard for me talk about Grace; on the one hand she is a source of great admiration, respect and inspiration, on the other, she is a trigger that has the power to shut me offline for days.

I first met her in 2004 when she worked for me for a brief period before she became a full-time colleague in 2005, and then friend the following year. I’ve never forgotten that, until Sammi, she was the only person who seemed to accept me for who I was rather than the myriad of labels that had been applied to me. After my breakdown in 2007 she was the only person to offer me support, rather than the endless stream of criticism and ‘advice’ on how to ‘cheer up’ that everyone else was giving me.

Unfortunately, to my shame, I failed to reciprocate this support in 2008 and I deservedly lost her friendship and sentenced myself to the lifetime of guilt that I have mentioned previously.

She has the honor of being the smartest human being I’ve ever met and to say I miss her would be an understatement. Like everyone on this list, she deserves all the happiness her heart desires.

My biggest memories of Grace: a drunken duet at my leaving BBQ, numerous lunches around Melbourne, numerous heart-to-heart conversations, the fact that she metaphorically slapped the anxiety out of me and my failures.

It should go without saying that my old friends were not Alyson Hannigan, Serena Ryder, Amber Tamblyn, Jenna Louise Coleman, Zachary Levi or the numerous other celebrities I’ve used to illustrate this post. I chose these images for, whether it be physical or personality, these celebrities always remind me of those people who helped shape me into the man I am today. People I miss, admire, respect and feel privileged to have known.

Tomorrow: 9 Movies I love


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SOC: ‘There’s no amount of social media connection that can fix this…’

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Thursday 27 September 2012 between 2:30-3:00am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Jean Jacques Henner, Solitude

Jean Jacques Henner, Solitude (Wikipedia)

For a soul that has always strived for balance this post, marooned within a sea of positivity, will stick out like a sore thumb. But I have to write it. I can’t shy away from it. Things have been building for days and if I don’t try to release them they’ll fester inside me and cause all manner of bad things to happen.

It’s one of the many problems with living a solitary life. Most people when they have a problem turn to their friends, a quick phone call to someone who loves them and a date is arranged. Perhaps coffee and cake, perhaps beer and peanuts, possibly hard-core liquor and cigarettes. Whatever the case may be there is someone there to listen to you, to absorb your pain and help you spank it away.

For a moment I want you to think about a few things. I want you to think about the last seven days of your life. I want you to think about everything you’ve done and then answer these questions:

In the last seven days, how many times did you have a conversation with someone?

In the last seven days, how many times did someone touch you?

In the last seven days, how many times were you hugged?

In the last seven days, how many text messages, emails or phone-calls did you receive?

In the last seven days, how many times were you thankful for the people in your life?

Now I want you to think of the last month and ask yourself the same questions.

After that, think of the last year.

Then, the last five years.

I want you to think about everything you’ve done, all the people you’ve met, all the moments you’ve shared with others.

Okay?

Are you thinking about it all? All the drinks, the parties, the cinema trips, the excursions, holidays, family Christmases, birthday presents? Do you have all the love you’ve received in your heart? All those moments that a friend sent you a quick text that put a smile on your face? Or turned up at your doorstep with a hot chocolate and kiwi fruit just because they wanted to make sure you were okay. Are you reliving it all? Smiling? Perhaps giggling over the odd moments you’ve enjoyed in the last five years?

Good :)

Now I want you to imagine not having any of them.

Erase them all from your mind and imagine the last five years of your life with no-one there for you.

No friends, no text messages, no phone calls, parties, presents or cuddles.

Just you.

Can you even imagine it? That level of isolation? That level of loneliness? That level of pain?

Honestly?

One of my favourite websites in Australia is called Mamamia. Although written with a female audience in mind I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. Their site helped me through homelessness, has assisted me through depressive episodes and, on one occasion, stopped me from self-harming. I even mentioned it in my list of pleasures on Tuesday.

Recently, they published a post written by a woman who moved from Melbourne to Sydney and thus was away from her family and best friends and the feelings of loneliness felt like a slap as she’d never felt alone like that before.

And I felt for her, I really did; anyone who knows the pain of loneliness has my utmost sympathy.

I’m not getting at that article at all, I thought it was a wonderful piece of emotional writing. What made me angry was one of the tweets Mamamia sent out to promote it. A tweet that – hand on heart – made me immediately rise from my computer, walk to the bathroom, open my SI kit and cut myself for the first time in weeks. Their words struck such despair in my soul that self harm was all I could do to alleviate the despair.

If “no amount of social media connection” could fix the author’s loneliness – what fucking chance do I have?

Seriously?

If I had slashed my wrists that night no-one would have known. My body would probably still be decomposing, unfound, as I wouldn’t have been missed. Social media is the only thing I have and this tweet made me realise it is basically all for nothing.

Nothing I do will ever make a difference to my life; all the pain I’ve been through alone, the abuse, the rape, the assaults the homelessness, is all my life will ever be.

All the effort I have to make – fighting with my bipolar mood swings, my crippling social anxiety, my PTSD nightmare fuelled insomnia, my massive distrust of every human being on the planet – just to write a single 140 character tweet to try to reconnect with the world is all for nothing.

A waste of time.

Pointless.

I was so proud of myself for rejoining social networks, to start blogging again, to start commenting on websites, but for the last two weeks I haven’t been able to get this comment out of my head.

If “no amount of social media connection” could help an intelligent, talented, witty, admirable, gorgeous young woman…what bloody chance does a fat, ugly, abuse-traumatised, mentally ill, (ex) homeless, socially isolated thirtysomething male have?

The pride I felt has evaporated, replaced with a single damning question that’s been permeating my thoughts for weeks:

Why do I even bother fighting when my life will never be anything more than this?


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

This week’s photo challenge is ‘solitary‘. As I mentioned yesterday my first choice of photograph for this topic is unusable as I don’t have permission from the model. Therefore I present instead a frog, lost in a world of isolated contemplation, yearning for company. Or munchies.

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence”
~ Thomas Wolfe ~

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary
(jinancitydailyphoto.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary
(natsukashii55.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary
(aphroditesmusings.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge:Solitary
(keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary
(danajoward.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary
(pakos.me)
Weekly Photo Challenge : Solitary
(cherylandrews.wordpress.com)


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19 Quotes I love…

 

Searching for quotes online will throw back thousands of unsourced inspirational messages designed to tell you how to live your life. However inspiring they may be, ultimately, our lives are our own, what we do with them and how we choose to live them is solely up to us.

The quotes I have chosen for todays challenge are words from literature, film and folklore that have resonated within my soul over the years. Some you may know, others may be new, but they are words that have always meant the world to me. How about you?

19 Quotes I love…

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything…affects everything.”
~ Jay Asher ~

“We end up stumbling our way through the forest, never seeing all the unexpected and wonderful possibilities and potentials because we’re looking for the idea of a tree, instead of appreciating the actual trees in front of us.”
~ Charles de Lint ~

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”
~ Charles de Lint ~

“What is fear after all? It is indecision. You seek some way to resist, escape. There is none.”
~ Anne Rice ~

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
~ Oscar Wilde ~

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
~ George Eliot ~

“I don’t think that loneliness is necessarily a bad or unconstructive condition. My own skill at jamming time may actually be dependent on some fluid mixture of emotions, among them curiosity, sexual desire, and love, all suspended in a solvent medium of loneliness. I like the heroes or heroines of books I read to be living alone, and feeling lonely, because reading is itself a state of artificially enhanced loneliness. Loneliness makes you consider other people’s lives, makes you more polite to those you deal with in passing, dampens irony and cynicism. The interior of the Fold is, of course, the place of ultimate loneliness, and I like it there. But there are times when the wish for others’ voices, for friendliness returned, reaches unpleasant levels, and becomes a kind of immobilizing pain.”
~ Nicholson Baker ~

“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves…”
~ Federico García Lorca ~

Sally: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy: What’s good about sad?
Sally: It’s happy for deep people.
~ Sally Sparrow and Kathy Nightingale, from Blink ~

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”
~ Roald Dahl ~

“It was the time of year when the atmosphere streamed with unexpected hints and memories, and a paradoxical sense of renewal.”
~ Alan Hollinghurst ~

Jace: I was trying to remember all the deadly sins the other day. Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry…
Clary: I’m pretty sure irony isn’t a deadly sin.
Jace: I’m pretty sure it is.
Clary: Lust. Lust is a deadly sin.
Jace: And spanking.
Clary: I think that falls under lust.
Jace: I think it should have its own category. Greed, envy, gluttony, irony, pedantry, lust, and spanking.
~ Cassandra Clare ~

“The way I see it, life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
~ The Doctor, from Vincent and the Doctor ~

“You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying, like you’re going to get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible: that maybe you survive.”
~ The Doctor, from The End of the World ~

“Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”
~ The Doctor, from Planet of the Daleks ~

“We’re all made of stories. When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on. Not forever, perhaps, but for a time. It’s a kind of immortality, I suppose, bounded by limits, it’s true, but then so’s everything.”
~ Charles de Lint ~

“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
~ A.A. Milne ~

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
~ A.A Milne ~

“Fear sam bith a loisgeas a mhàs, ‘s e fhèin a dh’fheumas suidhe air
(Whoever burns his backside must himself sit upon it)
~ Gaelic Proverb ~

Tomorrow: 18 Names I Like…