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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SOC: The problem with poverty

As I’ve been having trouble writing lately, mainly because my stress levels have been so high, I’m experimenting with stream of consciousness writing as a way to overcome my current malaise. As such, this post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Sunday 13 September 2015 between 10:15 – 10:33am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Ever since I returned from my (much-needed) holiday my neighbour has been exceedingly loud. If he’s not playing duff-duff music at extremely high volumes, he’s shaking the foundations of my unit with his bass heavy television sound system. It’s got so bad, and has such a dramatic effect on my mental health, that I can no longer be in my house. Every day for the last two weeks I have left my unit by 11am and haven’t returned until at least 7pm. Throughout that eight-hour block of time I do nothing. I just sit in a park, or camp out on a bench, and wait aimlessly for time to pass. It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. It’s a permanent reminder of my homelessness. For during that long five-year period all I did was sit around, waiting for time to tick on.

The whole situation has been a massive blow to my wellbeing. My stress levels, from being forced out of my house, have been exponentially high. My boredom, from being forced to sit on a bench and do nothing, has been off the charts. My anxiety, from being forced to be around other people when all I want to do is hide away, has elevated to a whole new level. To say I am unhappy would be an understatement. For the last three weeks I have been miserable, positively saturnine. All I want to do is be able to relax within my own house, but my neighbour, and his ‘to hell with the rest of the world’ mentality, is making that impossible.

And it’s making life unbearable. Last week, I ruminated on my hatred of Wodonga and how I believe my mental health will never get better as long as I live in this suffocating, gloomy little town. And my neighbour isn’t helping. Is it too much to expect a modicum of serenity within my own walls? Is it really necessary to deafen your neighbours day-in day-out? Sure, every now and then would be okay, but a constant stream of noise with bass so loud it (literally) shakes the walls of my unit? How is this acceptable? How is this decent?

Perhaps I’m being too sensitive. Perhaps I’m being a little finicky. But when my stress levels are so high that I feel a heart attack will shortly befall me; something has to be done. I want – nay, need – to move away. To leave this rotten town behind me and start afresh somewhere more inspiring, somewhere that speaks to my soul and doesn’t drive me into a suicidal stupor every two minutes. I need things around to entertain me; to inspire me; to speak to my soul and enable my brain to flourish. But no matter what angle I look at the problem from, no matter how I approach the dilemma in search of an answer, I can see no respite. Accommodation in Melbourne is simply too expensive. Even the outer suburbs are not cost-effective for my poverty-stricken life. Even alternative accommodation in Wodonga, which would at least get me away from Mr. I Play Deafening Music At All Hours Of The Day And Night, won’t fit into my extremely limited budget.

I am trapped here. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. There is nothing I can do. And that just adds to my already disintegrating mental health. I can’t keep sitting on a bench for eight hours a day, too scared to return to my unit because of the incessant noise that blasts from next door. I can’t keep living with this elevated stress. I can’t keep living in a town that suffocates me; that drives me to madness; that has imprisoned me within it’s soulless walls for the rest of eternity. But I just can’t see the answer.

And that’s the problem with poverty. You have no choice. You eat what you can afford, not what you want to eat. You live where you can afford, not where you want to live. You wear what you can afford, not what you want to wear. You spend your meager life making do with what you have instead of becoming the person you could so easily become. Your life, when you live in poverty, is nothing. It is just something you have to put up with until the sweet release of death comes along to end your suffering.

I am miserable at the moment. I am stressed. I am unhappy. I am sad. I am despondent. I have toyed with suicidal thought and have found myself harboring self-harm urges for the first time in months. All because of my neighbour. All because of my home town. All because I have no choice over what to do with my life.

 


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007. There is no normal

A film or television program that has changed me. This is the top for today’s installment of the challenge and trying to pick one from the many is proving somewhat difficult, so I will choose three of them.

I have already mentioned Doctor Who, Chuck and One Tree Hill as being three television series that have given me hope when all felt lost. Skins, meanwhile, has also been previously plauded for saving my life in 2009. Thus each of these have been automatically excluded from being mentioned here.


Neighbours

Granted, not something many people would think of, but this show was a necessity for me growing up. My wall was plastered with posters of Kylie and Jason and whenever I got my latest copy of Smash Hits I prayed for a big fold out poster of the Blakeney twins. Alas, this desire to fulfil my burgeoning ‘urges’ failed to materialise and just as I’ve carried my affection for this show over the years, I’ve continued to hope that one day I will discover such a poster.

The top three reasons Neighbours changed me:

  1. It helped me deal with self-harm and depression.
    During the early to mid nineties when these issues began dominating my life, Neighbours helped me deal with them. Every night at 17:35 I tuned in to share in the ongoing lives of the Erinsborough residents and for those twenty five minutes was able to forget my problems and be happy.
    As such, when I think of Neighbours, I think of this era. Of Christina going into labour in an ice-cream van, Paul fooling around with his wife’s twin sister, Phoebe hallucinating her dead boyfriend in the bedroom mirror, Julie’s murder mystery and the introduction of the ‘sad piano music montage’ when a character died.
    To my shame – or pride, depending on mood – I even began taping the episodes on a nightly basis, accumulating nearly a year of episodes so I could indulge in ‘marathon’ sessions when things got tough.
    Over the years, whenever my MH episodes fluctuated into depression I returned to this show to help me cope. If I had a television, I still would today!
  2. It taught me that television lies.
    My first memory of Neighbours is the introduction of Clive. Subsequently, when I had an allergic reaction from a bee sting at the age of ten I fully expected one of my neighbours to appear and perform emergency surgery using a pen knife, a biro and a kitchen table.
  3. It inspired me to move to Australia.
    True fact.

The Cradle Will Rock

My first viewing of this tremendous film came when I was in Canada.

The friend I was staying with suggested a movie night and we drove to the local Blockbuster to hire it. I’d never heard of the film, written and directed by the wonderful Tim Robbins, but boy had I heard of the cast: John Cusack, John Tuturro, Bill Murary, Joan Cusack, Hank Azaria, Susan Sarandon, Vanessa Redgrave, Emily Watson, Angus McFadyen, Jack Black.

This film, more than any other, changed my perception on the movie industry. I have never – and I mean never – understood how such a brilliant film could be so unknown. Even with my love of all the actors it featured and reading two movie magazines monthly (at the time) I had never heard of it.

So after being so captivated by my viewing of it, I praised it to all I could. Yet all of these people – film students, people who claim to be highly knowledgable in the world of film, random strangers – just looked at me blankly.

It made me realise that even the greatest films with the most talented of casts can be reduced to the realm of obscurity courtesy of a few negative reviews and poor box office performance.

To illustrate what I mean, look at Australia, where this film didn’t receive a cinema release. Nine years after it was released it received a TV premiere and then…nothing. You can’t even find it in your local DVD store as it never scored a release!


Secretary

After a lifetime of watching the classics, the comtemporary, the independent and the just plain appalling a low key film is released that changes my perception of what film can achieve and re-affirms my belief in the world.

There are no stereotypes over what a relationship should be, there is no Prince Charming on a white stallion, the “one” is often a flawed individual rather than the personification of perfection and there is no ‘normal’.

And finally, after nearly a quarter of a decade of inspid stereotype and hope, this film made me finally believe the film industry could write complex, real, female characters.


There are many others that have changed me, and perhaps I’ll share some more at a later time. As for now, has anythinig from the world of film and television changed your world?