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…

Leave a comment

30 Day Song Challenge: A song that reminds me of something sad.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to share why this song fills me with such bittersweet melancholy. But today is not that day.

Until it comes around, enjoy the musical perfection that is Biffy Clyro‘s Many of Horror.

Many of Horror | Biffy Clyro

“When we collide we come together
If we don’t we’ll always be apart
I’ll take a bruise; I know you’re worth it
When you hit me hit me hard,”

“You said love was letting us go against what
Our future is for…”

1 Comment

015. Five songs that have made me cry

Many years and lives ago I used to cry at the drop of a hat. I always put it down to the perils of being a highly sensitive person. Weddings, births, deaths, Guy Fawkes nights, Christmas, New Year…yep, my ducts would spring a leak on each and every one of them.

Goodbyes were something that always had me welling up, as does the ending of The Amber Spyglass and Torchwood: Series 2. Whilst Doctor Who: Doomsday, well, when I first watched that I nearly cured the drought in Australia.

As for the times I kill an innocent jacket potato by leaving it in the oven for too long…let’s not go there.

These days I don’t cry. Period. I well up from time to time but never allow myself to let the tears fall. I can’t actually remember the last time that I did. I’ve put this down to a defense mechanism rather than a HTFU approach to life. I generally believe men need to soften rather than harden up, whilst women need to start understanding that there’s nothing wrong if a man needs to cry, especially over emotionally painful things.

I wish I could cry more. I miss the emotional release that a good weep would give me and believe that things would be a lot better for me in terms of coping and isolation if I could receive a release every now and then.

Therefore, for my 365 Day Challenge, writing about a song that makes me cry is impossible.

I can however write about songs that have made me cry.

1. Goodbye to You (Michelle Branch)

I first heard this song in the Buffy episode Tabula Rasa. Tara and Willow break up, Giles leaves for England…it’s all too emotional! After discovering what the song was I tracked the album down in a music store in Cardiff and listened to it one night as I moseyed back to the train station.

Whether it was residual Buffy memories or the fact my girlfriend had recently flown back to Melbourne leaving me all alone, I don’t know. All I do know is that I walked through the streets of Cardiff crying like a baby as this played on my old Discman.

2. Unexpected Song (Bernadette Peters)

This song is a key track on the soundtrack album of my second relationship and whenever I hear it I think of her. The fact this relationship became abusive means I cannot listen to this song. Ever.

I guarantee you it will make me cry if I were to listen to it…however, as the traumatic memories would probably also trigger me to kill myself, I don’t think I’ll be trying anytime soon.

3. The Story (Brandi Carlile)

The Story was an album I used to listen to a lot when I was writing the original incarnation of this blog in 2007.

Whenever I hear any song on the album I think of those confused, distorted, homeless days and all the pain I was recording for the world to read.

4.Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)

We were sitting on a ferry still in dock at Lochmaddy harbour. I had arrived on the island alone to celebrate the New Year in a place that I held dear to my heart; I was returning beside a beautiful woman.

As I tried to comprehend the massive change my life had taken she pulled out a CD player and slipped a disc inside. Popping on ear bud into my left ear, the other into her right ear, she took hold of my leg and told me she wanted to play me her favourite song.

Five and a half years later I am standing in a flat I had called home for three years. All that remains is memory as our once wonderful relationship lay in unrepairable tatters on the floor.

Slipping a CD into the player I listened to one last song to remind me of the good times before leaving. It had me in tears the moment his breath hit the speakers.

5. I Try (Macy Gray)

Oh. My. God.

This song is one of two songs that immediately takes me back to one of the greatest times of my life. For several months in late 1999, early 2000, I long-termed at an Inverness backpacker hostel with a group of some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.

That winter, this song was a huge hit and played many, many times via the stereo during the period. However, it did not make me cry until late February.

As with all travelling eventually the time comes to go home and as I was home it was everyone else who was leaving. In the space of six days I said a farewell to three of the greatest people I’d ever met and as I walked, alone for the first time in months, through the streets of London I walked into a music store off Piccadilly. As I browsed the CDs this song began to play and, even though I tried to stop it, the tears just came as I realised a chapter of my life was closing and things would never be the same again.

Yep, still no tears, but I came close with Hallelujah and I Try. And no, I didn’t dare try Bernadette Peters!

When the day comes that I cry again, I’ll be sure to let you know :)

Until then, what songs move you to tears?


008. Sadness. Anger. Hope.

A Silhouette of Sadness

“As a culture we assiduously avoid talking about social inequality – we prefer to embrace a narrative of how we are a land of luck and lifestyle opportunities, values worshipped in mainstream media (witness top-rating TV shows such as The Block and MasterChef). Australian historian and social commentator Mark Peel has written that future generations will be shocked by the callousness of a nation that ignored the growing inequalities between classes and generations. “They might ask why people in positions of influence chose to endorse and practise selfishness,” he says. [source]

This paragraph perfectly addresses my malaise for where this once great nation is heading.

For years I have been watching Australia bury it’s head in the sand over every issue that paints this country in a bad light. The increasing homeless problem, the mental health system, the social inequality of indigenous Australians, the poverty-stricken, the aged care system, disability. The list is endless.

For three hours on Monday I stared at my Twitter stream as it filled with the hashtags #thevoice and #masterchef. As I read the words, some of which I’ll admit made me chuckle, I was thinking not of these wannabe chefs or would-be superstars, but the thousands of homeless people who at that moment were trying to sleep in near freezing temperatures.

“A staggering 2.1 million Australians reported having been homeless at some time in their lives, with relationship and financial problems the most common reason. That’s 13 per cent of the population.

More alarmingly, the same survey determined that 251,000 people had experienced homelessness in the previous 12 months. Homelessness has become as significant a part of Australian culture as football or the Holden.” [source]

I have been one of the 2.1 million who have reported being homeless. I was one of the 251,000 who experienced homelessness in the last 12 months. And yet on the same day this article is published, I am told that an OECD survey finds Australians are living the good life and loving it. How is this possible when so many people are suffering?

It’s not just the plight of the homeless that saddens me, it is Australia’s endless quest to ignore it in the hope it will go away.

Which is what we are, apparently, supposed to do about sexual discrimination. Through all these years of fighting to end discrimination why didn’t anyone think of this? Why don’t we ignore racial discrimination as well, surely then it will just go away. The discrimination against the mentally ill, pah, let’s just ignore it. Ditto for homophobia, religious discrimination, indigenous Australians, the homeless. In fact let’s just bury our heads in the sand over the pain these marginalised groups experience and tweet about State of Origin instead. A much happier way to pass our time.

It fills me with sorrow that there people who still think like this. The fact discrimination still exists is a shameful blight on what we consider important.

No-one has the right to discriminate on any grounds. This segregation from society based on what is considered acceptable breeds nothing but pain and loneliness.

This latter reaction fills me with such melancholia I don’t know where to begin. Due to my mental health and homelessness I’ve been on my own for nearly half a decade. Each day I rise, log onto the computer, write, brew myself a mug of green tea, listen to the radio, write, walk down the road, share syllables with librarians and shop assistants and then return home for Norman the quiz, a cold bed and a book.

There are days when my anxiety is so great I can’t leave the unit, imprisoned and isolated by the psychological damage being the victim of abuse has inflicted.

But I’m not sad for me, I accepted my deserving of this isolation many years ago. I’m sad for others who have to experience life without friends to turn to for comfort, partners to share in life’s ups and downs or connections to make life feel worthwhile.

I feel for the forgotten on the street or the bullied school child with no friends.

I feel for the ill, the disabled, the elderly.

My sadness and sympathy goes out to all the alienated, isolated and friendless. To all those who have no comfort or support, to everyone who has trouble smiling each day.

Smile. A word that conjures so many emotions and buried memories. How can something so full of life and joy make someone so sad? Perhaps because I rarely smile these days, perhaps because this song brings on the tears like only one other thing can.

With that other thing being abuse.

An estimated 1.2 million women in Australia aged 18 and over had experienced sexual violence or its threat since the age of 15. More specifically, one in six adult women in Australia had experienced sexual assault since the age of 15 years. [source]

In a study of 1,000 women 15 years of age or older, 36% had experienced emotional abuse while growing up; 43% had experienced some form of abuse as children or adolescents; 39% reported experiencing emotional abuse in a relationship in the past five years (Women’s College Hospital, 1995). [source]

1 in 10 women who had ever been in a relationship disclosed an incident of sexual violence by an intimate partner. [source]

Over half of the women surveyed (57%) had experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence over their lifetime. [source]

My reaction to these statistics is an overwhelming desire to weep. As a victim of abuse I’m only too aware of the pain and damage it can cause.

Nothing we do in our lives is deserving of this treatment, yet, as I sit here, this justification is being made by a father who is beating his child to a pulp. As you read these words, somewhere in the world a woman is being raped for ‘wearing the wrong clothes’. As a tear trickles down my cheek over the torment these innocent victims are enduring, someone is being emotionally attacked to the point their soul has crumbled to dust.

It angers me that domestic violence is on the rise. That in spite of campaigns, initiatives and crackdowns there are people out there who still believe they have the right to treat their fellow human beings in this despicable manner.

Jonathan Safran Foer once said “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”

Much emphasis is placed on happiness in this world. How we should ‘put on a happy face’ and ‘pretend our problems away’, but we forget that happiness would not exist without sadness.

For through the darkness there are rays of hope.

People are speaking out of their abuse, rallying society’s naysayers to take notice of the malaise that is plaguing this world. The stigma against the mentally ill is slowly being whittled away, bringing hope toward its end in my lifetime. The homeless and disenfranchised have taken to social networks to voice their frustration over the prcrastination in tackling this issue.

I do not wish to push away all that brings me down, I wish to embrace it. For without sorrow I would have no appreciation of the things that elate me.