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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Update: So what am I doing about it?

Yesterday I outlined some of my current stressors; issues that are triggering my mental health into uncontrollable territory. It was a somewhat whiny, somewhat depressing post, but one that needed to be written. Life is hard for me at the moment, there is no joy, no happiness, no relaxation and no pleasure. I have virtually no energy and my loss of hope is making it difficult for me to keep fighting…but, as I have been for twenty-three years, I keep pushing myself.

First and foremost is my attempt to obtain psychiatric support, something I have been trying to obtain for the last six months. You would think this would be simple, that it would just be a case of contacting the local mental health service and – bam – I have a psychiatrist. But, as with everything in my life, nothing is ever that simple. The simple truth of the matter is Wodonga is a small town with only one public mental health service – and they dismissed me as not needing support in 2012, my first year in this town. The psychiatrist I saw back then treated me like crap, just as the psychiatrist I had seen prior to him treated me like crap. He believed (wrongly) that there was nothing wrong with me and that there was nothing the mental health service could do to assist me. He is the only psychiatrist available on the public health system in Wodonga. And I am not putting myself through another abusive psychiatrist appointment. Period. Thus, the only option I have when it comes to psychiatry, is the private sector.

For the last several months my support worker and I have been looking into this option. There are no psychiatrists in the Wodonga region that could help me, which means I have had to look further afield to Albury in order to obtain this support. And we have identified two potential candidates that may be able to help. Both are women (I am unable to see a male psychiatrist due to the misandry and distrust of men I have developed since my rape) and both have lengthy waiting lists. Also, because of the private nature of their service, I am going to have to pay to see them. But this is something I am willing to do (even if it means not eating for the week!)

Hopefully my six-months-and-counting effort in this aspect of my treatment will pay off soon. Whether I will be taken seriously is another matter. I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to psychiatrists (because I am a high functioning bipolar sufferer they tend to believe I have too much insight into my illness and, therefore, am not suffering from anything) but I’m willing (and determined) to give it a go. Whatever the emotional and financial cost!

However, I am not naive enough to believe that a psychiatrist will solve all my problems. The simple fact of the matter is (as my post yesterday attested) I am currently navigating a minefield of triggers and stressors, all of which are negatively impacting on my mental health. And the simple fact of the matter is a whole army of psychiatrists and CPNs are not going to change the stressors I am dealing with.

And my neighbour is a major source of this stress.

The noise that my neighbour makes causes me stress twenty-four hours a day. It is incessant. It is continuous. It is mind-numbing. How am I supposed to fight mental illness when I cannot relax for even a millisecond in my own house? When you’re homeless you learn pretty quickly what a home really is. It is not just a roof over your head. It is a sanctuary; a place where you can feel secure, comfortable and safe. And the simple truth is that my neighbour, courtesy of his endless noise, has made my house an unsafe place to live. Two days ago, whilst my house was under attack from his wall shaking video games, I self harmed for the first time in nearly a year. A year of hard work and determination was undone in a matter of seconds because cutting myself was the only thing I could do to deal with the cacophony of noise that batters my conscience on a daily basis. And in the moment that the blade sliced through my flesh I realised once and for all I can no longer live under these conditions: I have to move; for my own sanity – for my own safety – I need to move.

I am not under the innocent belief that moving will solve all my problems (again, I am not that naive) but it will remove a dangerous trigger from my life that will make fighting my mental illness that much easier.

The same can be said for Wodonga as a whole.

My trip to Melbourne proved one thing: I hate Wodonga. It is a town that is bad for me. It is a town that is amplifying my mental illness and making it impossible to live the life that I want to live. There is nothing to do in this town. There are no distractions. No social options. No opportunities to live and breathe. The longer I live in this town, the worse my mental illness will become. Wodonga is a trigger. Pure and simple.

Now, some people may think I’m being over-the-top, that I’m allowing the relaxation of a holiday to control my feelings in this respect. Of course I was calm in Melbourne, I was on holiday, everyone is calm on holiday, yada yada yada. But consider this: my mental health in Wodonga is worse than when I was homeless in Melbourne. I was more stable living on the street than I have been over the last few years living in this town. Why? Because even though I was homeless, I was homeless somewhere I wanted to be.

And, as with my noisy neighbour, no amount of psychiatric support is going to change this. Even if I do manage to obtain a psychiatrist they will be facing a losing battle as their work will be quickly undone by the triggering nature of Wodonga.

They say you only live once, maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not, so why would you live your life in a town/city that amplifies your mental health and makes living a chore devoid of excitement, happiness and social interaction?

As I’ve said twice now, I’m not naive or innocent enough to believe that moving will fix all my problems, I’m not my sister, but it will help in my battle. So, over the last few weeks, I have been looking for new housing options both in Wodonga (to eradicate the problem of my noisy neighbour) and in Melbourne (to eradicate the problem of my pathological hatred of this town)

The simple fact is something must change in my living arrangements. And I am working hard to make that change a reality.

As for my other current triggers, to be honest, there is little I can do about them at this time. My physical health problems are being monitored by doctors so only time will tell how this aspect of my life will play out. The same can be said for my current anhedonia and death fantasies; neither are going away anytime soon and, as both are intrinsically linked to my mental health, I can only combat them as best I can. Perhaps a psychiatrist will assist in this respect. Perhaps not. But even though I’ve lost all hope for a better future, I have yet to stop fighting.

I am just trying to do the best I can with the little I’ve got.

What else can I reasonably expect to do?

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Update: A wound up ball of stress and negative energy

stress

Sorry I’ve been absent lately. Life has become something quite unbearable and has not, in any way, lent itself to heartwarming, inspirational blog posts. Ever since I returned from Melbourne back in August I’ve been a wound up ball of stress and negative energy, triggered by so many things that I have no idea how to calm myself down and relax again.

First, there’s my neighbour and his daily cacophony of sound. If it’s not metal music blasting the cobwebs from my walls it’s his incessant video game playing that makes it sound like my unit is under attack twenty-four hours a day. The only peace I receive from his wall of sound is the twenty minutes he’s out of the house each morning, the rest of the time, it’s just noise, noise, noise! I’ve tried talking to him, I’ve reported the problem to my landlord, but neither has brought any relief. He just seems to have no idea (or rather, doesn’t care) how noisy he is being. And it’s been driving me insane.

Secondly, is the ongoing frustration of living in abject poverty. I can’t afford to clothe myself properly. I can’t afford to feed myself properly. I am regularly having to choose between medication and food; so much so, that a few weeks ago I went eight days without any medication so I could have a proper meal or two. Whereas the following week, I re-stocked on medication, only to find myself unable to eat for five days. It’s difficult for people to understand just how stressful it is to live having to make such decisions. When your entire life revolves around the paucity of your bank balance. There is no money for fun, no money for entertainment, no money for anything other than the barest, most essential of items. Truth be told this has been getting to me for years, but as with all the other stressors in my life at the moment, there is little I can do about it. I am too mentally (and physically) unwell to work so I just have to make do. And I’m tired of just making do.

Thirdly, is my physical health. When I was in Melbourne I felt on top of the world. Full of energy. Full of vibrancy. But since returning, since the stress took complete control of my life, my physical health has dwindled. For the past two weeks I’ve been battling through a particularly uncomfortable period of constipation, which has now rotated into a particularly uncomfortable period of diarrhea (I know, TMI!) but that’s not the worst of it. Last week I experienced another bout of abdominal pain which has my GP worried that acute pancreatitis is making a comeback. Over the last week I’ve had blood tests, X-Rays and ultrasounds, all of which has revealed no problem, but my GP is so adamant in his diagnosis that I am paranoid he’s going to put me in hospital; and that’s something I can’t deal with at the moment. Although (aside from the diarrhea) I feel fine at the moment I am stressed to high heaven over the possibility of operations and another grueling hospital stay. Yet more to stress about.

Fourthly, is the nastiness that is anhedonia. Nothing – and I mean nothing – is bringing me pleasure at the moment. Not DVD marathons, not reading, not kinky fantasies, not sleeping, not blogging, not food, not even Doctor Who. Nothing that usually brings me pleasure is working. Nothing is making me laugh. Nothing is bringing a smile to my face. It is just a constant stream of unhappiness, boredom and displeasure. And it’s stressing me out. How can you exist in life when nothing brings you happiness? How can you exist in life when all your life is just an endless array of misery?

Finally, are the ongoing death fantasies that have been assaulting my mind. Ever since reaching my conclusion a few weeks ago I have been plagued with haunting vignettes of my death; hanging, overdoses, slashed wrists, drowning. You name it, I’ve fantasized about it. They are in equal parts frightening and calming; frightening because, deep down, I want to live; calming because, on the surface, death is the only release I can see from my current stress. I have no intention in the immediate future to end my life, but the longer this stress continues, the more suicidal I find myself becoming.

The simple fact of the matter is life has become meaningless. It has become an endless stream of stress, unhappiness and tension. I want to feel happy again. I want to smile and laugh and joke and play and feel like my old self again. But how can I do that when nothing counteracts the high stress I find myself in day after day? Sometimes I just want to sit in my house and enjoy the quiet; but I can’t, because of my neighbour. Sometimes I just want to be able to walk down the road without running to a public lavatory; but I can’t, because of the diarrhea. Sometimes I just want to treat myself to beautiful food; but I can’t, because of the abject poverty.

Everything in my life feels wrong at the moment. Where I live. What I do. How I survive. And I can’t see any end to it. That’s ultimately where the stress is coming from. Every day from today until the day I die is going to be the same; noise, stress and death fantasies. I can’t see an end to it. I can’t see a way out. In life, we need hope to survive. It’s what keeps us going. It’s what powers us to achieve our dreams day in, day out. And the simple fact of the matter is, I’ve lost mine. It’s gone. And I don’t know how to get it back.


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I really hate change

One thing I don’t deal with very well is change. I think this is something that many people with mental health problems can probably relate to. I, like many, need some semblance of routine and order in my life. When something comes along that unsettles the carefully balanced apple cart of my life, my brain is sent scattering like the aforementioned apples bouncing away from the safety of their cart.

Yesterday, I discovered that change is afoot, and I am not coping with it at all. In fact – given how depressed, lost, confused and alone I’ve been feeling over the last several weeks – I’m a bit of an emotional wreck, truth be told.

Basically, the mental health organisation I’ve been utilising over the last eighteen months has had its funding pulled by the government; which means I will be losing my support worker in mid-late June. This may not sound like much, but it took me a long time to build a trusting relationship with this person and the thought of losing their support has totally freaked me out.

I have no idea how this is going to impact on my life. I’ve been told they will try to help find me a new support worker via a different organisation, but this is fraught with difficulties (given my lack of psychiatric support and anxiety issues) and may ultimately amount to nothing.

In fact, all I do know at the moment is that I’m not happy about the change and wish it wasn’t happening.

But it is… :(


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Thirteen Reasons why I haven’t written anything recently…

Its-good-to-admit-that

“I’m tired of trying to make it up to you.
Sweeping the ashes and hiding the truth.
I’m tired of pretending everything’s alright.
Let me feel, let me feel, what I’m feeling tonight,”
~ Serena Ryder (from Sweeping the Ashes) ~

1) I think I’ve broken my mind (seriously, does anyone know a king with any men and/or horses?)

On Tuesday 30th April, I sat on my couch staring into space from 5pm to 9am. I didn’t actually go to bed. I just sat there, intermittently bursting into tears, doing absolutely nothing. Fun times! :p

2) I have been depersonalizing and dissociating

Since Tuesday 23rd April, I’ve not been present in my mind, body or life. I have been sitting on a cloud watching a chubby mentally ill (ex) homeless man go about his mundane business whilst making a complete ass of himself.

3) I am no longer capable of laughing

On Sunday 28th April, I watched a marathon of Community and didn’t laugh once. Not once. Given Community is one of my favourite comedy series this is highly irregular!

4) I have begun making (ir)rational decisions

On Saturday 27th April, after packing a backpack, I left my unit and began cycling to Melbourne. The plan was to pick up my ‘homeless life’ after eighteen months of play-acting ‘normalcy’ (aka: an easy way to run away from all the crappy emotions I’m feeling, aka: AVOIDANCE!)

Following a night sleeping rough I came to my senses and returned ‘home’.

5) I think my tear ducts have been malfunctioning

Since Monday 22nd April, I’ve cried at least once a day. I have cried in public. I have cried during my groups. I have cried in the shower. I have cried in parks. I have cried in bed. I have cried on the couch (see [1] above). This is altogether too much crying to be normal.

6) I can no longer concentrate on anything

On Wednesday 24th April, I couldn’t focus on children’s animated classic A Bug’s Life, let alone any of the books/articles/journals/MH workbooks/activities I normally undertake each day.

7) I have entered a (frightening) new stage of dreaming

Normally my PTSD fuelled dreams revolve around either the various assaults I’ve received in my life (especially July ’07) or the emotionally abusive relationship I was in…but now, I’ve begun having incredibly lucid dreams centered around one particular person. To say these have unsettled me would be an understatement.

8) I seem to have lost the ability to control my anxiety

On Friday 26th April, I cycled the thirty minutes or so to my Hearing Voices Support Group but instead of attending, I sat in an alley behind the meeting room for twenty minutes, had a quick cry and then returned home – all due to an inability to control my anxiety as I normally would have.

9) I seem to have become obsessed with bracketing (things)!

Given that in this post alone I’ve bracketed the (ir) of irrational as well as half a dozen other words, letters and phrases, I thought this would be altogether too obvious!

10) I am no longer capable of smiling

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who (Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS) saw Clara wearing a little red dress. Given Sammi was wearing a red dress when I met her, and Jenna Louise Coleman reminds me of Sammi, a smile should have accompanied the cavalcade of memories. It didn’t.

11) I have begun self-medicating again

Since Tuesday 23rd April there has been a (noticeable) increase of: alcohol, cigarettes, coke (as in cola not narcotic) and pizza; all self-medicating substances for me.

12) I have begun self-harming again

Since Monday 22nd April there has been a (noticeable) increase of both invasive and non-invasive self-harm. Part distraction, part release, part trying to re-connect the dissociated parts of myself and part succumbing to my voices.

13) I have lost hope (and I’m not sure I know how to find it again)

Admitting to having lost hope is not easy for me, especially given the importance I’ve placed on it in the past. Thus, this is not a sentence I would ever use lightly, let alone definitively.

“Give us some hope
We haven’t got enough
To keep ourselves filled up
When you drink us empty, drink us dry
And ask us why we’re dry,”

~ Serena Ryder (from Dark as the Black) ~

Apologies for the dark(er) post, I’ve been feeling incredibly humiliated since admitting to my recent trigger face-to-face that they trigger me (I’ll get to that once it’s been processed) and haven’t been dealing well with the fallout it’s had on my anxiety/self-esteem/mood/control/etc. Hopefully ‘normal service’ (i.e. slightly kinky, rambling, occasionally inspiring, perky, strong Addy) will resume soon. Hmmm…given it’s nearly 3am, perhaps some sleep will help!

Until then, I hope you’re all well and having a better run of it than I am at the moment! :)


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Word of the Week: Hope

there__s__always_hope__by_this_is_the_life2905-d3hmcmu

There’s Always Hope © this-is-the-life2905

Over the last few weeks I have devoted a post each Wednesday to the blogging meme ‘Wordless Wednesday’. However, given my current lack of photographic equipment in which to take brand spanking new photographs, coupled with my desire to redirect this blog back to its roots, I have decided to move away from this meme for the time being in favour of a new idea that explores different aspects and emotions related to mental ill-health.

Each week, I will choose a word that relates in some way to mental health and see how the fantabulous artists on deviantART and Flickr have interpreted the theme. These artists are – after all – far more talented and creative than I, so should hopefully be able to provide some inspiration to us all!

This week I have chosen the emotion hope, something that is vital for each and every one of us. For, as Martin Luther King once said if you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.

hope_by_ryky-d5g8fbr

Hope © Ryky

hope_by_raipun-d4mqp2v

Hope © Raipun

Hope_and_Despair_by_yuumei

Hope and Despair © Yuumei

hope__by_danydiniz-d5j8iyx

Hope © Danydiniz

“Hope is
Folding paper cranes
Even when your hands get cramped
And your eyes tired,
Working past blisters and paper cuts,
Simply because something in you
Insists on
Opening its wings.”
~ Elizabeth Barrette ~

cranes_of_hope_by_starca-d3bwpms

Cranes of Hope © Starca

Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of any of the artwork featured in this post. All images are copyright to the respective artists, as indicated above. All care has been taken to respect the wishes of the artists as per their deviantART and/or Flickr profile in terms of sharing work, but should offense be taken by its inclusion, please contact me and I will remove it forthwith.