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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Ruminations on (possibly) the best month in years!

I’m not travelling very well at the moment. My motivation has evaporated, my brain is foggy and I’ve (once again) been retreating from the world in the hope that isolation will protect me. Exactly what I’m trying to protect myself from is beyond me, but for the last two/three weeks something has been happening to cause my subconscious mind to adopt all manner of protective measures.

In a conversation with my counselor this afternoon, as nothing monumental could be identified as being the singular cause of my current malaise, it was decided that it was an accumulation of everything that’s been happening over the last ten months, culminating three weeks ago with the public speaking venture I undertook occurring the same week as the anniversary of a suicide attempt.

It doesn’t help that in eighteen days I will be heading to Melbourne for the first time since I was homeless there in 2011. Although I should be (and am) excited by this adventure, there is a lot of trepidation about my return to the city I used to call ‘home’ because of the number of possible triggers and negative memories that will flood me whilst there.

What’s compounding this current rough-patch is my inability to ‘ground myself’ in the moment. All of the exercises I’ve used in the past have had little to no effect on me in recent weeks, forcing me to live in a constant heightened state, unable to relax, unable to focus and unable to utilize any of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned over the years.

So, to help ground me in this moment, I’ve decided to spend a little time focusing on some of the positive things that will (hopefully) be occurring throughout the month of November.

1. Melbourne

However much I am dreading the (inevitable) avalanche of negative emotions and memories, I am desperately looking forward to my first “holiday” since 2008!

2. Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary

On the 23rd November 1963, a television series began airing on UK television that, fifty years later, is a world-wide phenomenon. I have been a fan of this television series for twenty-five years and words cannot describe how excited I am by the forthcoming anniversary special.

dw50

3. Arts and Culture

One of the things I’m most looking forward to doing on my return to Melbourne is to revisit the galleries and museums that populate the city. Although these locations were instrumental to my homeless survival, my love affair with them stretches back over eleven years and I am much looking forward to moseying around their hallowed halls once again.

4. I may get to cross “Item 1” from my list of things to do before I die (!)

There is still a big question mark surrounding this as I still need to overcome the financial obstacle in my way, but if I can make this work in the weeks ahead I’m sure to experience happiness of the like I’ve never before experienced! I’ll keep you posted! :p

5. The ocean

It has been nearly four years since I last saw the ocean. I want to stand on the beach and stare out over the inspirational rolling waves. I want to throw off my shoes and feel the seas power between my toes. During my time in Melbourne, this will be possible! :)

6. Monsters University

As with most films these days, I missed this latest Pixar classic on its cinema release and both Meadhbh and I are looking forward to watching it upon its DVD release on the 12 November.

url

7. Federation Square

This architectural wonder has its detractors, but I have loved it since I first visited it way back in 2002. I’ve no doubt that it will be one of the first places I re-visit upon arriving back in Melbourne.

8. Trains

I would never say I was a train-spotter, but ever since journeying the width of Canada by train I’ve loved being on these metallic behemoths. I will be getting to and from Melbourne by train so am gleefully anticipating this part of my trip!

9. Man of Steel

Much like Monsters University above, I missed this movie on its cinema release and am counting down the days for its DVD release next week.

10. The “15 Day Blog Challenge”

Following last month’s 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge I’ve decided that working through another blog challenge would be good for my concentration and focus. As I will be heading to Melbourne on the 18th, I decided a short fifteen day challenge would fit nicely into the time schedule so settled on a challenge I found on the blog Life of Love.

15DayChallenge

I will be commencing this challenge on the 1 November 2013…

11. The Unfinished Blog Challenges

I began the 30 Days of Kink challenge in November 2012 and never finished it. Similarly, I began the Try Looking At It Through My Eyes challenge in May of this year and never finished it. Thus, I have decided to complete the remainder of these challenges over the coming weeks. Fingers crossed! :)

12. Being able to say ‘f*** you homeless, I beat your ass’ in the Kings Domain

This was one of my goals for 2013 and I can pretty much guarantee you that, after walking through Federation Square, I will be heading to my old “home” on the first night I’m in Melbourne.

13. My birthday

Generally, I don’t celebrate my birthday in any way, shape or form…but I’m hoping this year I will be able to get through the day with a smile and giggle rather than a frown and grumble. :)

There is a lot that can go wrong…but as long as I continue to focus on what will go right, it could become one of the best months of recent years and knock my current discombobulated mind on its ass.

But like with everything in life, only time will tell what eventuates! :)


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A Bad Day of Panic, Anxiety and Triggers (including ‘The 21 Challenge, Day 3’)

Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda

Today has been one of the most difficult days in recent memory, so apologies in advance for the disconnected nature of this post.

My day didn’t start badly at all, in fact, I awoke quite jovial following an unusually pleasant dream that involved talking lizards, Stephanie Bendixsen, a giant Goomba, a couple of beautifully choreographed sword fights, Princess Zelda and a bunch of grapes.

Then, as is my usual ritual on a Sunday, walked to the local garage to collect a copy of the Sunday Age. The weather was pleasant – not too hot, not too cold – and I returned to browse the newspaper whilst nibbling on berry flavoured toast and sipping green tea.

It was around about the fourth mouthful that things began to go downhill as I read:

“The definition of domestic violence has been expanded to include emotional manipulation, withholding money and harming the family pet under controversial changes to family law.

The changes, which become law this week, for the first time broaden the definition of violence beyond physical abuse to other damaging actions to which a child may be exposed, including:

– Stalking
– Repeated derogatory taunts
– Intentionally damaging or destroying property
– Preventing someone from having contact with family and friends

Woman’s groups say the changes tip the balance of family law back towards putting the safety of children first, while men’s rights group say tehy will rob children of time with both parents.”
(from The Sunday Age, June 3 2012)

For it was around this time that I began to get an itch at the bottom of my stomach. As I continued to read, this itch spread, invading my spleen, kidney and lungs. The moment it reached my heart – around about the time I read “…a message to all involved in the ‘many violent family situations in Australia and who remain invisible to the legal system’ that violence has no place in society” – I was choking on my berry jam as I began to hyperventilate.

Within seconds my green tea had been inadvertently knocked to the carpet (yay, stain!) and I was struggling to breathe. Having experienced many panic attacks in my life I knew the signs were not an allergic reaction; but a triggered reaction.

My panic attack stemmed from the mention of emotional abuse. This is all that was required to send my mind hurtling back into the pain and desolation I experienced throughout that period five years ago.

Gone were the heady memories of Hex, Zelda and I duelling a giant Goomba.

In were every attack, insult and narcissistic action that I suffered through five years ago.

All because of one article in a newspaper that described changes to Australian law that I whole heartedly agree with. For years I have campaigned for greater rights and treatment in every sense to those who are the victims of emotional abuse, and these legal changes are an absolute step in the right direction. Whether they will be in any way successful and not just a token gesture remains to be seen. I mean, how can someone be prosecuted for emotional abuse when few ever bear witness to this abhorrent treatment? No-one believes what happened to me, so why should people believe someone else claiming emotional abuse?

Once the panic attack faded I gathered a pen and a piece of paper and lay on my floor to write. I had planned on writing the latest installment of ‘reflections on being homeless’ but drifting back into the territory would have been dangerous after that reaction. Instead, I wrote a list of things that trigger me (whether big or small), a list I shall share with you now:

Note: this list is in no particular order and whilst the bigger things are SHOUTED, the huge things are shouted REALLY LOUDLY!

  • BRUNSWICK STREET
    This is a street near where I used to live when the abuse was occuring. My favourite street in Melbourne, no less.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Once my favourite television show of all time, now, something I cannot watch at all.
  • Any situation where I encounter the name (first or last) of the person whom abused me
    I was recently browsing the library and saw a book written by an author who shared the first name of my abuser. Being an uncommon yet beautiful name it is not one I come across all that often, but in this and every instance, it has negative consequences.
  • LYGON STREET
    Another street close to where I used to live when the abuse was occurring.
  • Bernadette Peters
    I wrote about her here.
  • ADELAIDE
    I didn’t state this was merely triggers of the emotional abuse.
  • Toasted cheese sandwiches
    One of my all-time favourite snacks. I used to make them for my abuser and received several criticisms for my efforts. Also, one night, I was attacked for one hour for eating a toasted cheese sandwich without her.
  • DOING ANYTHING FOR MYSELF
  • Harry Potter
    She was a big Harry Potter fan. I’m not. So not an easy trigger to avoid.
  • AMERICAN PIE
    I received nine hours of criticism for going out for dinner with my parents instead of staying at home and watching this movie on the television. I love this series and doubt I will ever be able to watch the recent Reunion installment as a result of this.
  • Forgetting someone’s birthday/Birthday Parties in general.
    I received over half an hour of abuse for not wishing a friend a happy birthday. On another occasion I was told I had destroyed someone’s life for not going to their birthday party.
  • Badgers
    Difficult to explain, but badgers remind me of her.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    After making her a handmade calendar of my own photographs as a New Year present I was told in no uncertain terms my photography was “boring”, “uninspired”, “pointless”, “a waste of time”, “garbage”, and that she didn’t understand “why I bothered to continue taking photographs”. On several other occasions my efforts to extend myself in this arena were criticised and attacked. Whenever I have taken photographs since I have become so paranoid about what I’m shooting I usually end up focussing only on this criticism rather than the subject I am photographing. It should be noted this boring, uninspired, pointless, hand-made piece of garbage remained on her wall for at least four months after the sexual side of the relationship ended.
  • TALKING TO PEOPLE
    “Your voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone you talk to. You should kill yourself,” As I’ve said previously, I’m not a sadist, nor do I wish to inflict pain on anyone. This criticism is hard for my social anxiety to get past in any way, shape or form
  • The Queen Victoria Market
    A location for many incidents of abuse.

…and once I reached this point I stopped writing for one reason; I was triggering myself! Merely writing these words were enough to send me boomeranging back into the realm of panic attack.

As I sat on my back steps smoking a cigarette I realised – not for the first time – just how well and truly fucked up I am. How could one relationship cause so much psychological damage? How could I be so weak to allow the damage to occur? These events happened five years ago; why are they still destroying me now?

Quickly gathering my stuff I headed out for a walk. I needed to turn to the internet to take my mind off the groundswell of negative memories that were flooding my mind and with the library closed I figured a few dollars at an internet cafe would be money well spent.

It was and it wasn’t.

On the positive, as I read a few blogs and websites I got the answer to my how could I be so weak question: because I am “naive, vulnerable and easy to manipulate”. In other words, I was right, I was abused because I was/am weak and therefore deserving of it.

On the negative, yay, I’m weak, naive, vulnerable and easy to manipulate. Awesome!

On the positive, I figured out what I could do for today’s 21 Day Challenge.

On the negative, I was stupid enough to think my idea for today’s 21 Day Challenge was a good idea!


The 21 Challenge, Day 3: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)From internet days of old I am the official Keeper of Willow’s giggle and tongue slip and of the creepily easy familiarity with which Willow handles the torture instruments.

This geeky admission is how ginormous a fan of Buffy I used to be!

I wasn’t one of those hipsters that tagged on in season 5 onwards just as it was becoming popular in the mainstream. Nosiree, I was a fan back when people used to cack themselves laughing at the mere mention of the show’s title. I was a fan from the very beginning!

Despite not having seen the show for half a decade I can still recall every episode title in sequence, recant dozens of monologues and air-conduct the score like a pro. I was uber-fan.

And this passion was taken away from me by one woman.

So after vacating the internet cafe I rented season 3 (my favourite season) from the local video store (not a great move considering how broke I am) and walked home locked in full stressed out “conversing with hallucinations” anxious mode.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch the whole season, so I selected a few episodes at random, namely the ones I used to adore: Lover’s Walk, The Wish, Doppelgangland and Graduation Day.

I managed to get through Lover’s Walk without incident, mainly because I used to do a cracking impersonation of James Marsters’ monologue:

You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be
in love ‘til it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and
you’ll hate each other ‘til it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be
friends. Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood
screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at
least I’m man enough to admit it.”

But The Wish was fraught with triggers as my mind reeled in the ‘what if’ scenarios of an alternate world where I hadn’t met my abuser. Not even Beck’s beautiful scoring of the final fight scene was enough to prevent this panic overtaking me.

This panic remained throughout Doppelgangland (“Can you believe the Watcher’s Council let this guy go?”) and peaked half way through Graduation Day where I had to stop watching as a full-blown panic attack raged once more.

The DVD set isn’t due back until next weekend so I may give it another go later in the week when I’m less ‘wound up’, but from the strength of today’s reaction, it does appear my ability to watch this show has been stolen from me. Although I am proud I was able to return to the town of Sunnydale, however brief the visit turned out to be.


Sitting alone in my flat afterwards I couldn’t help but despair at how difficult and frustrating my life has become. The array of things I must avoid in order to save myself the pain of panic, anxiety and depression. The dearth of anything that resembles pleasure and enjoyment. The sheer amount of hard work I must put in to achieve even the most pointless of tasks, let alone the larger dreams I hold within me.

On days like today I wonder what the point of working so hard really is. Five years of nothing but pain because I was too weak, naive and vulnerable to realise I was being used and abused by the woman I loved.

Thinking back on this weekend it is one I would rather forget.

I just hope that the changes Australia has made to its domestic violence laws will help others from suffering the losses that I have. No-one should live as I do. Not a soul amongst us deserves isolated loneliness because of the actions of an abuser so insecure they need to attack others to feel better about themselves.

Earlier in this haphazard, convoluted, unfocused post I questioned whether these changes were merely a token gesture. I sincerely hope that they are not, and over time, prove an excellent addition to combatting the grotesque pandemic that is domestic violence. But I fear, in much the same way as mental health stigma, that little will change until the general public and society at large stops advocating the abusive behaviour of others.

We shall just have to live in hope.


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003. My reason for being is…ummm?

Reason for being?

Reason for being?

This is day three of my 365 Day Blog Challenge. The prompt for today: “what you think your reason for being here is” Ummm…I don’t know? Or do I?

Blimey.

This challenge may be over before it’s even begun.

I don’t like this question at all.

I have no idea how to respond to it.

[Pauses…puts on thinking cap…walks around chilly unit…too cold to think…puts on thinking jacket…flips on kettle…says FFS…fills kettle…flips kettle on (again)…waits for kettle to boil…brews a mug of green tea…sits on chair…stares at white screen…throws thinking cap across the room because it looks silly…puts fingers to keyboard…removes them…burns tongue on tea…ouch…puts fingers back to keyboard…]

When I was a fetus my reason for being was to become the greatest kick-boxer the world had ever known. Until I realized there was a far better reason to be alive; and that was to be the naughtiest person the world had ever known. A life purpose I succeeded in quite admirably until my mother’s slipper convinced me there was a far better reason to be alive; and that was to be the naughtiest person in the world who never, ever, got caught.

[Pauses…hovers finger over the ‘backspace’ key…stops…thinks about possible meta value of leaving in bad text to demonstrate difficulty in answering question… puts fingers back to keyboard…]

When I was a teenager my reason for being was to be the world’s greatest boyfriend. She was the most beautiful woman in school; a smile that could light up the world, eyes that cast a spell upon all who gazed at them, a bottom so resoundingly excellent it featured in many…

[Pauses…realizes this is supposed to be reality, not fiction…fiction is so much easier…everyone has a purpose in fiction…sips cold tea…ick…puts fingers back to keyboard…]

When I was a teenager my reason for being was to be the world’s greatest Zelda game player. Being the introverted, shy individual that I was I was unable to even speak to the most beautiful girl in school, let alone fulfill my fantasy of kissing those delicious looking lips. With my family in disarray over my sister’s illness I realized that focusing on myself was selfish and I needed to do all I could to help those around me. In the times I couldn’t cope I stuck to this credence and tried to cope alone, instead, losing myself to worlds of fiction and self-harm.

[Pauses…too many bad memories…but…smiles…puts fingers back to keyboard…]

Through those lost, lonely formative years I put others first. As I did through my first job, and the period I spent backpacking. When I look back on those years I see myself roaming from town to country hamlet to seething metropolis to quaint campsite like the Littlest Hobo helping whomever and however I could.

If someone needed a shoulder to cry on, mine was there. If someone needed some food, I opened my satchel. If someone needed some spare change, I dug deep. If someone needed a punching bag, I grit my teeth and let them unleash.

No matter what I wanted, who I wanted, where I wanted, how I wanted as long as I put others first I would be accomplishing what I wanted most in the world; to put others first.

That is my reason for being; to help others.

[Pauses…the harmonious chords of ‘Get Me Through December’ fill my mind…followed by ‘Weak in the Knees’…and then, as always, the tears flow…]

Ay, there’s the rub.

For my entire life I’ve thought my reason for being was to be there for others; to be a brilliant friend, a supportive partner, a loving father.

[Pauses]

To rise above selfishness and do all I could to make the world a better place for others. But I failed.

For every time I’ve given my blanket to a homeless person, there’s Rachel. For every time I’ve helped others find housing, there’s Kathy. For every time my shoulder has absorbed the tears of others, there’s Grace. For every time I’ve sacrificed the things I loved, there’s Stephanie.

[Pauses…walks outside to have a cigarette…returns…puts fingers back to keyboard…]

I wish this post was different.

I wish I’d made more of an effort to succeed then it could have been the shortest post in the world. A simple:

To always help others however I can; to be a brilliant friend, a supportive partner, a loving father. That is all.

But instead it is just a rambling succession of failed friendships, lost souls and self-made isolation. My ex used to tell me I was like a cancer; a hideous disease that sucked the happiness from all I encountered. Rather than being someone who brought hope to the lives of others, I filled their lives with pain and misery. And she made me believe it.

[Pauses…emotional abuse sucks…puts fingers back to keyboard…]

My reason for being here is to help others. It’s just I’ve failed spectacularly.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep trying.

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