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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(The 21 Challenge) Day 1: I Hate Running

For the next twenty-one days I have challenged myself to do one new thing every day that scares me to help raise support for at risk homeless youth.

You can support me here…go on, it will make you feel all gooey inside. 

Today’s new thing: running.

Now, this may not seem like much to most of you, but the thought of slipping on a pair of runners and jogging through the streets of my home town scares me to the point I’d rather come face to face with my very own Saw puzzle than be seen exercising in public.

Why? Well, I’m glad you asked, for I have prepared a nifty list to explain:

Ten reasons why running scares me…

  1. Because – alas – I do not look like the gentleman to your right. I have quite severe body image issues – thanks mainstream media and the ludicrous expectations of some females – so being seen doing anything even remotely energetic fills me with the sort of anxiety that leads toward crippling, foaming at the mouth panic attacks.
    Besides, given my rather atrocious luck, if I were to run through a river I wouldn’t look as ruggedly sexy as this man does. I would either end up falling headfirst into the freezing water due to my lacklustre co-ordination and/or be eaten by a rogue crocodile.
  2. Because I have the lung capacity of a newt.
  3. because of my British heritage I have never quite adjusted to the Australian heat and thus, even on a rather mild 2 degree morning, will break a sweat by even opening the front door.
  4. Because said sweat messes up my (albeit) too long but alarmingly luscious hair.
  5. Because I don’t know this area very well and get lost a little too easily.
  6. Because I cannot exercise without music. This doesn’t sound like too much of an issue until you take into account I sound far more Bill Shatner than Gotye – and there are laws out there governing disturbance of the peace.
  7. Because I run like a girl. By that I mean I’m much faster than most men, my hips wiggle in a hypnotically attractive fashion, I should probably invest in a sports bra and workmen turn their heads and grunt disgustingly sexist remarks about what they’d like to do to my posterior.
  8. Because when I run I look like a constipated otter trying to move on only two legs.
  9. Because it reminds me of the time at school when I threw my all into winning the 200m sprint during a gym class. Surrounded by fit attractive boys and with gorgeous hot girls watching I ran…and ran…and ran…and ran…until I crossed the finishing line and promptly vomited behind a bush. It’s annoying I always remember this over the fact that I won.
  10. Because in addition to suffering from body image issues I suffer from social anxiety and despise to the point of soul crushing fear being seen in public. There’s a reason I liken myself to the majestic Tiger Quoll.

So when I rose at this morning at 4am, I was, to say the least, a trifle anxious. My reasoning for such an early start was simple: most people are far too sane to be roaming the near freezing streets at such an ungodly hour so I would have them to myself.

Slipping on a ‘No Fear’ T-shirt (purely for ironic purposes) and my AFLesque tight shorts I did a few warm ups as I checked the music on my MP3 player and ran my pre-planned route through my head: a few side-streets would take me to a park, from there I’d head to Lawrence Street, down Lawrence Street, up the train line, Thomas Mitchell Drive, then circle back home where I could die a rasping, suffocating death.

Easy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ten reasons why running still scares me…

  1. Because I was reminded when I reached the end of the drive how out of shape all this mental health/homeless malarkey has made me. Note:it is approximately ten feet to the end of my drive.
  2. Because I have the co-ordination of a drunk giraffe trying to walk on black ice. Approximately five minutes after leaving the house I successfully managed to fall over a rogue tree root and sent myself hurtling into a storm drain.
  3. Because even at such an ungodly hour there are still people roaming the streets. Not good for the socially anxious, especially when they catch you in your rendition of power ballad classic Holding Out For a Hero.
  4. Because (a) I’ve had dog phobia since I was chased up a climbing frame by a rottweiler (read: corgi) when I was five, (b) I am not yet faster than a dog and (c) their tongues are sloppy!
  5. Because even though running is (apparently) good for your bowel movements, these can occur at inopportune moments. Especially when there are no bathrooms near where you live and you suffer from IBS. Thank God for trees is all I say!
  6. Because as I veered onto Thomas Mitchell Drive, covered in dog drool, I failed to navigate the railway crossing properly, caught my foot on the track and ended up arse over foot.
  7. Because I’m a stubborn fool who doesn’t know when to quit. With a massive gash on my leg dribbling blood onto the sidewalk, I recklessly ignoring the pronounced limp that made me look like I was auditioning for The Usual Suspects and kept running.
  8. Because I’m a masochist. After running straight past the end of my road following a surprising surge of adrenalin and/or endorphins I refused to turn back. Instead, I went up the hill, turned left, got profoundly lost, and ended up adding at least 2 kilometres to my run.
  9. Because I’d forgotten what running can do your nipples.
  10. Because I have the memory of an amnesia affected goldfish and forgot to buy milk; cue dry muesli as my ‘reward’ upon (finally) returning home from this monumental achievement.

So, to summarise; I fell over, was heckled, mauled by a sloppy dog, injured my leg, got profoundly lost, chafed my nipples atrociously and ate dried muesli for breakfast.

Could have been worse!

Now, only twenty more days to go in this 21 Challenge; how can I injure myself tomorrow?


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014. Do one thing every day that scares you…

In 2010 I was going to undertake The 21 Challenge but my homelessness and mental health got the better of me and I was unable to follow through with my plans.

However, being slightly more grounded this year, I want to do something to help those who are going through the same pain and isolation that I did.

For those who aren’t familiar with The 21 Challenge it is an initiative run by Open Family Australia to help homeless youth in Australia.

From June 1st to 21st you challenge yourself, or your friends, to do, or not do, something to fundraise for the various services this organisation operate to help the 32,000 at risk homeless youth in Australia.

When trying to decide what to do I considered the suggestions listed on their website, including:

  • Give up smoking for twenty-one days.
    Declined given that it would, based on my current stress and anxiety levels, lead to some form of breakdown and/or death. And this would possibly be bad.
  • Go on a date everyday for twenty-one days.
    Reluctantly declined given the complete lack of interest from the opposite sex. Funny how no-one wants to date an ex-homeless romantic. Ah well, their loss!
  • Write a novel or short story.
    Declined given I’m doing this anyway, so it would (sort of) be cheating.
  • Go twenty-one days without chocolate.
    I can’t even remember the last time I ate chocolate. Maybe eat chocolate every day for 21 days…nah, too fattening.

But none of them clicked with me.

Yes, giving up soft drink would probably be good for me whilst dress in flannel pyjamas 24/7 sounds far too comfortable. The other problem was (like giving up cigarettes) I needed to find something I could do that took into account my stress, anxiety and mental health concerns.

The last thing I need at the moment is to feel like a failure, hence why I needed to come up with something that (a) I thought I could comfortably manage (b) challenged me in some way and (c) would be helpful to my ongoing recovery.

Eventually, after much pondering and nicotine, I had a brain wave.

What if I took the old saying “do something new every day that scares you” and run with it. This way, on days I was able to leave the house I could do things out there, whilst on days I had to remain indoors, I could do something in there.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Every day, from June 1st to June 21st, I will do something I have never ever done before, something that scares me, something that sends chills down my spine at the very thought of it. And each day I will report upon this ‘thing’ in a blog post of questionable quality so everyone can keep up to date with what I’m doing and laugh at my occasional insanity.

Sometimes I believe we think a little too grandiose when it comes to this. How many of you had images of skydiving, running with the bulls and wrestling a hippopotamus when you read that quote?

Just so you all know now, I will not (unless the opportunity presents itself) be doing any of this.

What I will be doing is challenging my inner self to overcome some of my personal fears and foibles. To achieve some of the dreams I held onto whilst homeless and challenge myself to become someone again.

I know from first hand experience the pain homeless people go through. When I first became homeless I was terrified but, over time, I found the strength to fight and overcome this phase of my life. It’s now time to help others who are experiencing what I once did.

People who are just as scared, just as alone, just as lost as I once was.

If I believe in anything in life it is that we are all here to fight for a better future. Not just for ourselves, but for those who are not as privileged, ‘lucky’ or fortunate. There are too many homeless people in Australia, and it’s time we did something about it.

Given my isolated state I may not be able to fundraise much, but I at least want to try. If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so here via my 21 Challenge Profile Page here or by clicking on the 21 Day Challenge image in the sidebar.

And from June 1st, I will be posting daily updates on this blog under the tag ‘The 21 Challenge’