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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Hearing Voices Q&A: What do you want to know?

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A few days ago I had a conversation with someone about my hearing voices. The person I was speaking to is not a voice hearer, and they were explaining their difficulty in understanding this aspect of my mental health. It got me thinking that there are probably many people around the world who have trouble understanding the voice hearing experience. It is, after all, not something many people can get their head around.

Over the years I have tried to explain, to the best of my ability, my own experiences with hearing voices, for example:

But I probably haven’t covered all of the questions that you may have about this aspect of my mental health. Which is why I’ve decided to open it up to you. In this brand spanking new blog series, I’m giving you the opportunity to ask any question you may have in regards to voice hearing and my experience of it. Perhaps you want to know how I handle multiple voices talking to me twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps you’ve been burning to ask when all this started in my life, but were too afraid to do so. Whatever question you may have, I will answer it as honestly and openly as I can.

But this Q&A isn’t just for me. My voices have also agreed to answer any questions you may have of them. So if you’re keen to find out what gets Meadhbh all excited, or what books are Audrey’s favourite, now’s your chance. All you have to do is ask, and they will answer, as honestly as they can.

In order to make it user-friendly I’ve decided to offer several ways that you can ask questions:

If you’re happy for your question to be viewed publicly, you can;

But if you’d rather the question be kept private, you can;

Just remember to direct your question to who you’d like to answer it. Either myself, Addy, or my voices, Meadhbh, Audrey, Vanessa or Shay. This will prevent any confusion and/or avoid everyone offering their opinion when it isn’t wanted.

We’re happy to answer any question you may have, and look forward to opening up a conversation about the voice hearing experience.

So, let’s get the questions rolling! :)

 


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Why am I so damned hard on myself?

In response to my Ask me Anything post, Mind of Mine posed this question:

I want to ask this question but I am worried it might offend you. But what the hell, I am going to ask you anyway.

Do you think the reason why you are so damned hard on yourself and haven’t gotten over your issues is because you are worried that they make you the person you are and if you didn’t have them, then what/who are you.

In other words, do you think they define you as a person?

First of all, it takes a lot to offend me and this question doesn’t even come close to nudging my offense-o-meter. It is however a very interesting question that I will answer as best I can.

The simple answer is no. I don’t think my issues define me as a person, nor do I worry about being thrown into an existential crisis if I suddenly stopped being so hard on myself. With or without them I am who I am;  a passionate, creative, strong, beautiful, courageous, compassionate individual who has many wild, varied, kinky and inspiring talents that elevate him into the realm of pure awesomeness :)

However, as one of my favourite movies points out (cue Scottish accent) No, Dr Dempsey. You have to believe it before you can see it,” I’m so hard on myself because although I know who I am, I don’t believe in myself enough to allow this person to shine. All courtesy of the emotional abuse I received five and a half years ago.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching”, or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person. It creates scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones. In fact there is research to this effect. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to the abuser.

Emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no one else could want them. They stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go. Their ultimate fear is being all alone.

Source: The Mighty Phoenix

By the time I realised what my girlfriend was doing it was too late. I had lost every aspect of my personality, my self-worth, self-concept, self-confidence and self-belief. I had been brainwashed through months of insidious insult, attack, abuse, control, humiliation and manipulation into believing I am the most worthless, useless, repulsive piece of human excrement that has ever existed in the history of human kind. I had been transformed from a man on the cusp of achieving everything he had ever dreamed and worked for into a hollow, empty shell who firmly believed that the world would be a better place if he was dead.

Perhaps f it had only been this abuse the damage would not be so severe, but the addition of the victim blame mentality I received from my friends, all of whom informed me I deserved what my abuser was doing, cemented her words as ‘truth’ rather than the bitter ramblings of a sociopathic narcissist.

Thus, as I had no-one to ameliorate the effects of the abuse, my brain convinced myself that (a) everything that was said was a true and correct description of who I was and (b) I should be punished for whatever it was I had done to ‘deserve’ the abuse in the first place.

Everything I’ve experienced since – the assault and rape (which further eroded my already weakened masculinity), my mental health (which [erroneously] added to the perception I am ‘weak’), the social isolation (which further fuelled my abusers belief that I was unloveable and worthless), my homelessness (which annihilated what little I had left) – has made any attempt to repair the psychological damage caused all but impossible.

Hence the continued belief that I deserve what has happened to me and that I should be punished for past sins; both aspects manifesting in a continuous cycle of self-hate, self-criticism and self-judgement.

I know I’m too hard on myself. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, therapists, blog friends, real-life friends, commentators, family and random people on the street have all noticed this over the years and pointed out how I’m actually a decent human being who doesn’t deserve to berate himself on a minute-by-minute basis no matter what it is that he does. But this does nothing to repair the damage the abuse caused.

The old adage sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me is crap!

There is a reason that many psychologists believe emotional abuse to be the most damaging form of abuse. However traumatising physical and sexual abuse is (which I learned the hard way that it is!) at least people see the bruises, believe that it’s happening and take action to help.

Emotional abuse doesn’t leave bruises, it attacks you from the inside until your soul is shattered into a billion tiny pieces that are impossible to put back together without help. Help that rarely comes as people cannot see what is happening until it’s too late.

The reason I am so hard on myself is not because I don’t want to get over my issues or that they define who I am, but because the repair job of slotting those billion tiny pieces together again is a long and grueling process, especially when you’re doing it all by yourself.

I live in hope (and bloody hard work) that one day I will be able to believe what I know is true. That I am a remarkable human being who deserves all the happiness in the world. Whose passion, creativity, strength, beauty, courage and compassion will be seen not only by everyone around me, but also by myself.


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If you were famous, why would you be famous?

In response to my Ask me Anything post, Pride in Madness posed this question:

If you were famous, why would you be famous?

The Dream…

Other than when I’m a tad manic, I’ve never believed (nor wanted) to write a book that catapults me into the realm of world-wide recognition and reward that J.K Rowling or E.L James inhabit, but I’d be lying to say I haven’t dreamed of writing a much-loved series of novels or an opinion-dividing trilogy of erotic fiction.

Ever since I was a child I’ve dreamed of being a writer, of publishing a book that is as loved as Matilda, as genre-defining as Moonheart or as poetic as Greenvoe. A novel that transports readers to another time and place, that touches their heart in ways they never thought possible and inspires them to follow their dreams no matter what anyone thinks of them.

I’ve dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing my name on the spine of a book and hoping that someone – anyone – loves that book in the way I cherish Quest for a Kelpie, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Hotel New Hampshire or Thongs.

If I could choose how I could be famous, being an author would be it, for it’s one of my oldest dreams.

The Reality…

But the reality is it’s unlikely I will ever achieve fame as a writer or, in complete honesty, anything.

If I were to become famous it would most likely be for another reason entirely. Something much quieter, much smaller, than anything most would consider worthy of world-wide fame.

Perhaps it would be for being an advocate for those members of society that the all-powerful middle class has deemed unworthy of having a voice; the mentally ill, the homeless, the poverty-stricken, the victims of abuse (both female and male). Perhaps for being someone who never gave up on his beliefs regardless of the perils he faced along the way. Perhaps for being someone who did whatever he could to help those less fortunate than himself, no matter the cost.

In many respects this fame would be preferred over that of being a writer.

For who wouldn’t want to be famous for helping the lives of others?


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Ask me anything. Go on, I dare you…

It can no longer be denied or excused; I’m in a rut.

Yes, I’ve had a virus. Yes, my tooth is in excruciating pain. Yes, my birthday is fast approaching to further remind me how old and lonely I am and yes, all writers have natural ups and downs that prevent us from plying our trade so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

But given I’ve not published anything of merit in over a week, have lapsed in both my blog challenges and – unless I can conjure up 40,000 words in the next 9 days – categorically failed in my NaNoWriMo attempt, it’s pretty obvious I’m in a state of writer’s block.

So here’s your ‘once in November 2012’ chance to ask me any question you want!

They can be personal questions, random questions, weird questions, odd questions, Trivial Pursuit questions, homeless questions, pointless questions, hard questions, metaphysical questions, sociological questions, creepy questions, humourous questions, mental health questions, embarrassing questions…in fact, like the blog post titles says, you can ask me anything you like and I’ll do my utmost to answer it as honestly and truthfully as I can.

You can ask me questions in the comments field and I’ll either reply there or, should the answer warrant it, in a blog post dedicated to you.

You can ask me questions via email (all those stray thoughts @ gmail dot com) and I’ll reply on the blog, or privately if you’d prefer.

You can ask me questions via twitter (@addylake) and I’ll reply there, via the blog, or both – depending on what I feel like :)

You can ask me questions via carrier otter (if you have one handy) and I’ll return in kind, although that answer could take longer to reach you :p

However you’d like to ask, whatever you’d like to ask, here’s your chance :)

Ready…set…go…!

Please note
Due to time differences and the like, answers may not be immediate. But I will endevour to answer all questions within 24 hours of being asked :)