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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I’m so useless that…

I haven’t been feeling all that great over the last couple of weeks. So I thought I’d try freewrite something to see if getting it out will cleanse the soul a little. Apologies if it’s a little ‘woe is me’. It’s just how I’ve been feeling lately.

lake hume

Lake Hume (where I went for the camp)

Last year, I didn’t want to attend the camp that my mental health organisation organized. I was stressed. I was exhausted. And I wanted a few days to myself in order to recharge my internal batteries. But one of the staff members (unintentionally) manipulated my appeasement mode and I ended up going. As it turned out, I was ultimately happy that I’d gone because I ended up having a wonderful, relaxing time.

So this year, I was looking forward to it. In fact, for many weeks it was the bright spot that kept me going. I was anticipating a few days of relaxation; a few days of chilling with random people; a time to recharge my batteries away from the monotonous hell of Wodonga. So it stands to reason that I ended up having a miserable time; a time that left me emotionally raw, traumatized and desperately in need of a hug!

In fact, the camp was such a hideous time that nearly two weeks later I’m still feeling emotionally delicate, unable to function and filled with a lethargic flatness that is beyond annoying.

My reaction to the camp had nothing to do with how it was organized (which was with a military like precision) or how supportive the staff and other attendees were (which was immensely supportive) but because it served as a stark reminder as to how utterly useless I am at pretty much everything.

  • I’m so useless that I had to sleep in my tent because I’m unable to move past the trauma of my various boarding house experiences in order to sleep in the shared accommodation that everyone else was sleeping in.
  • I’m so useless that in the four days I was there I had three conversations with people who weren’t staff; two of those on the same day.
  • I’m so useless that whenever I was in the presence of a beautiful woman I froze up and became a gibbering, monosyllabic idiot.
  • I’m so useless that I attended only two of the activities because I couldn’t deal with getting on the various buses/boats that were necessary for the remaining activities.
  • I’m so useless that four people felt the need to point out how much weight I’ve put on recently, you know, just in case the guy with body image issues hadn’t already noticed!
  • I’m so useless that I ended up cooking lunch and dinner on all the days I was there, not because I enjoyed it, but because it made me feel a little more useful. And once I’d cooked the food, I was the first person in the kitchen to help with the clean up because – you guessed it – it made me feel that bit more useful.
  • I’m so useless that I have no idea how to relax anymore; hence my need to busy myself with kitchen duties to make me feel less superfluous.
  • I’m so useless that I couldn’t even organize a trivia night without it being filled with errors.
  • I’m so useless that by the third day I was spontaneously bursting into tears as my mind plagued me with suicidal fantasies as punishment for how useless I believe I am.
  • I’m so useless that, as a result of these suicidal fantasies, I had to leave the camp early and return to my home where I could curl up on the couch and weep away from prying eyes.
  • I’m so useless that I couldn’t even remember to pack my phone charger, which means I’ve been without a phone for the last two weeks and will be until I can obtain a replacement.

And as I write this list I realise that I could keep going with many more examples of how useless I am, but won’t because I’m so useless that I can’t risk typing any more in case I begin to start crying again.

*DEEP BREATH*

The other reason I don’t want to continue writing that list is because I know it’s not helpful. It’s just a chance to whinge about how pointless my life feels from time to time; a chance to unload weeks of negative emotion in the hope that it will allow me to find a way to move onwards and upwards.

But I know what’s been happening to me isn’t just ‘me feeling bad’. A large part of what’s been happening over the last few weeks is down to the medication change-over I’ve been going through. It was running rampant in the days leading up to the camp and continued plaguing me throughout. But it would be easy (and a little simplistic) to blame the woes of that week on medication alone.

The simple fact is I’ve been on my own seven years, doing nothing but surviving, that I have forgotten what it means to relax, I have forgotten how to communicate with people and I do feel useless most of the time.

I know that how I view myself lies at the core of all my mental health issues. And what this camp did was take all my fears, all my failings, all my inadequacies and throw them to the forefront of my existence.

It made me realise how little I’ve actually come since my breakdown in 2007 and how far I still have to go to become the person I so wish to be.


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Working with Voices: Nightmares

Previously, in the ‘Working with Voices: Victim to Victor’ workbook series…
~ Introduction ~ Dreams ~

MOnsters INc

“Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.”
~ Stephen King~

My nightmares…

“Close your eyes and think about all the things in your life that have caused you pain, distress, anger and frustration. These things could be brought to the fore as you work through the workbook so it useful that you write them down so that they do not take you by surprise later in the process. These can be states of mind as well as actual occurrences and symptoms of your mental health problems.”

This particular exercise in the workbook is incredibly difficult for me to do, which is probably why it’s taken several months for me to attempt it! There’s something about revisiting my ‘nightmares’ that causes such distress I’m often left unable to function, and without someone to help pick up the pieces and put me back together again, my fear of such an occurence increases ten-fold.

However, as it’s an important part of the workbook I will endeavour to do my best. The manner that I’ve chosen to complete this exercise is to separate the list into three different sections: actual events, symptoms of illness and emotional states/reactions. Please note that these lists are in no particular order.

Actual events

  • The emotionally abusive relationship I was a victim of
  • The (numerous) physical assaults I’ve been the victim of
  • The sexual assault I was a victim of
  • My sister’s mental illness
  • The bullying I was a victim of during my primary and high school years

Symptoms of illness

  • My greatest nightmare when it comes to symptoms of illness is who I become whilst manic. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I live in constant fear of ‘becoming’ that person again!
  • I abhor my socially anxious self. This part of me is a source of great frustration and anger.
  • Incidents of self-harm often bring on feelings of fear, emotional pain and anger, more often than not after the act.
  • I am terrified of the frequency and severity of my suicidal ideation, especially in times of severe depression.
  • The frequent nightmares and random night-time behaviour that occur as a result of PTSD scares the bejesus out of me!
  • The negative (nay, abusive) content of my voices – especially from Vanessa and Shay – causes tremendous distress.
  • As does Shay’s preoccupation with misogynistic and sexist content, as it goes against my values and beliefs.

Emotional states/reactions

  • I am frequently distressed by my lack of self-esteem, confidence and image of self, not because it scares me, but because I know when trapped by these emotions I am incapable of showing the world my awesome self.
  • The same can be said for the mute-idiot I become when in any social situation – be it conversations with support workers/GPs, supermarket queues, support/social groups or the rarity of an actual social situation.
  • Although it doesn’t happen all that often, when I become truly angry I scare myself; which is why I’ve spent many years honing my skills of controlling my anger so that no-one ever sees this side of me…ever.
  • My lack of physical and emotional intimacy, i.e. hugs, kisses, sexual intercourse etc.) causes pain so intense it’s impossible to describe.
  • For that matter, my isolated state in its entirety is a source of tremendous negative emotion.
  • The unfocused and lost to pain states I fall into during the evening and weekends cause me great distress.

My fears about the ‘Victim to Victor’ process…

As mentioned above, my primary fear of the Victim to Victor process is opening a Pandora’s Box of negative emotion that will cripple my ability to function. The work-book recommends you work through the book with the help of a supportive person, but as I am isolated, I lack such a person so have to brave through it myself.

As such, the actual work-book could be classified as a personal nightmare, for it is yet another reminder of my loneliness.

But, as I’ve managed to work through various negative situations all on my lonesome (such as the anxiety I feel whilst shopping or pushing myself to attend support groups), I’m hoping that the skills I learned in doing these things will hold me in good stead throughout the remainder of the book.

Only time will tell, I guess!

~ Next ~
Identifying Your Experiences