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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[NSFW] My kink and its effect on my mental health

WARNING_SPANKINGS

I’ve always been interested in the world of kink. How it relates to our personality. How it reflects on who we are. How it impacts on various aspects of our life. And how, if any, it links to the world of mental health. For someone who has battled mental illness since he was a teenager, and for someone who has struggled with his kinky self for even longer, the world of kink and how it relates to mental illness fascinates me.

In this post I ruminate on how my kinky self has impacted, or been impacted by, my various mental illnesses. From the ups and downs of bipolar through C-PTSD via social anxiety and self harm, I cast an eye over how kink has affected my life.

Given the subject matter, it should go without saying that this post is not for familial eyes. So any members of my family who just happen to stumble upon this post, please respect my need for privacy and read no further. Everyone else, feel free to join me on my journey with kink! :)

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Acting Up (Week 01: Addy vs His Triggers)

In October last year, following several years of social isolation, homelessness and severe mental health issues, I began working with a local organisation who describe themselves as being “a psychosocial rehabilitation day program who provide group and individual psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery services” in order to “maximise the social and community participation of people with mental illness“.

During the first term I was with them (Oct-Dec) I kept my participation simple by attending two groups; a Scrabble group and an 8-Ball pool playing group. In the second term, I upped my quota by adding an ‘Acting’ group (to combat my social anxiety) and the Hearing Voices Support Group to the aforementioned two groups.

Today, following a brief sojourn, my third term with GT House commenced. This time around I’ve challenged myself a further by taking on a number of groups that will tackle key components of my mental health; my anxiety, my trauma and my recovery.

Given the more educational and challenging nature of the groups I’m undertaking this term (it’s a little hard to write entertaining weekly accounts of whipping people’s asses at Scrabble unless you take a more literal, fictional viewpoint!) I’ve decided to write weekly accounts of some of these groups in the hope that other people will glean knowledge and inspiration from my (occasionally embarrassing) anxiety and determination to become a better version of myself.

One of these groups is Acting Up, which is described in the program as: “an opportunity to express yourself in many different ways. From discussing favourite films and books to experiencing some new ones. Gain confidence by participating in different drama activities and acting exercises. This is a great opportunity to learn some new skills and have some fun.”

A perfect fit for someone with a passion for film, television, books, acting, creativity and a desire to gain confidence and (finally) have some fun in life again.

Will this group help reduce my anxiety? Increase my confidence? See me gain a few new friends? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see! :)

fame-the-movie1

No denim jackets, afros, leg warmers or leotards were worn during this group…perhaps next week! :p

A polite request…

Under normal circumstances I am not a fan of the ‘read more’ button. Normally, I reserve its use only for posts of epic length and/or boredom inducing whiney tediousness. However, it’s use today is for neither of these reasons but for something entirely different.

I am aware that some of the staff at GT House (and Gateway) read this blog from time to time, so it is to them I politely request to read no further in this post. This is not because I’m about to insult the organisation (quite the opposite) but because it reveals something I’m not comfortable with the workers knowing at this point in time. It’s nothing bad, saucy or intimate, just something mental health related that I’m sure I’ll share somewhere down the track.

So, as you’re workers in the mental health field (ahhh, isn’t emotional blackmail fun!) I would be most grateful if you could respect my privacy on this occasion.

Thank you kindly :)

Everyone else may continue (if you wish to!) :)

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Your life as you remember it…

What follows, being a timeline of my life from birth to present, is a post I have been writing for nearly a year. Every time I’ve sat down to finish it I’ve found myself triggered by the memories of various events and incidents I’ve experienced, triggering which led to me being able to complete only a few sentences at a time before retreating to the safety of ‘distraction’.

As I embark on pulling my block back to basics, I felt now was the opportune time to finish this timeline so it could be used as a source of inspiration for future posts, as well as a reference point for myself (and others) to see how incidents are connected and the chain of events that led to my eventual social isolation and mental ill-health.

This, is my journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes along the way!)

My journey through life (with plenty of catastrophes!)

life

~Sometime in late February 1978~
After a romantic candlelit dinner and several glasses of wine, Addy’s parents head to the bedroom…I won’t give any further details, save for saying on this night that glint in his parent’s slightly tipsy eyes became the embryo who became the baby who became the horny teenager who became the passionate man who sits here today!

~28 November 1978~
Addy bursts out of his mother’s womb screaming into the well-lit maternity unit, as a kindly nurse smacks his posterior he tries to get his bearings in this strange new world devoid of comfort, warmth and embryonic fluid. Little did he know what this crazy planet had in store for him…

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Coping Skills: The Negative Thought Challenge

In a recent post I shared a “Coping Skills” worksheet that I obtained via Indigo Daya’s website. One of these skills was a ‘thought challenge’, wherein you write down all your negative thoughts and then make a list as to why they may not be true.

Given that I could write a dissertation on why my negative thoughts are all valid criticisms of myself, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to take on this challenge, whatever happens as a result!

negative thoughts 1

Part I: My negative thoughts…

Note: I’m not going to write every negative thought I’ve ever had in my life (otherwise this post would win an award for the longest blog post in the history of the world!) so I’ll focus only on the last twelve hours.

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m worthless
  • I’m useless
  • I have no passion(s)
  • I’m a waste of space
  • My voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone I talk to
  • I’m pathetic
  • I’m weak
  • I’m weak because I can’t just ‘get over’ the abuse I received
  • I’m unintelligent
  • I’m the most selfish human being who has ever lived in the history of the world
  • I’m the world’s worst kisser
  • I’m the world’s worst lover
  • I go down on women too much
  • I care too much about my partner orgasming
  • I’m not (sexually) selfish enough
  • I should just die
  • I don’t deserve to be alive
  • My life is pointless
  • I am pointless
  • I’m a terrible writer
  • I’m a terrible blogger
  • I’m a terrible emailer
  • I’m a terrible photographer
  • I’m a terrible everythinger
  • My photography is uninspiring, boring and monotonous
  • I use too many commas!
  • I use too many exclamation marks!!
  • My shoulder hair makes people want to vomit
  • I’m the fattest fattiest fatty who has ever lived
  • My weight is contagious
  • My self-harm is contagious
  • My illness(es) are contagious
  • I’m contagious
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’m evil
  • I’m grotesque
  • I’m insane
  • I’m too depressing
  • I’m too shy
  • I’m too anxious
  • I’m boring
  • I deserve to live alone
  • I deserve to die alone
  • I deserve to live alone and in pain
  • I deserve to die alone and in pain
  • My mind is repulsive
  • My body is repulsive
  • Heck, I’m repulsive
  • I’m a terrible friend
  • I don’t deserve to have any friends
  • No-body likes me
  • Everyone hates me
  • I should just go and eat worms!
  • It’s my fault I was abused
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My arse is too hairy
  • It’s my fault I was raped
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My mental illness(es) are a result of my own inability to cope with life’s stressors
  • Hell, my mental illness(es) are a figment of my imagination!
  • Homelessness is all I deserve out of life
  • I don’t like Harry Potter, thus I have no taste
  • My hugs are suffocating
  • I’m talentless
  • I’m a blob
  • I’m the blob!
  • My thoughts mean there is something wrong with me
  • My desires mean there is something wrong with me
  • My dreams mean there is something wrong with me
  • My thoughts/desires/dreams mean I am evil
  • There’s just something wrong with me.
  • I’m lazy
  • I don’t work hard enough
  • I don’t work hard enough to change
  • I don’t sacrifice enough
  • My opinions are invalid and deserve mockery and humiliation

Part II: Why they may not be true…

…and this is why I’m so terrible at thinking positively about myself.

All the bolded thoughts above were said to me by my abuser, those bolded and italicized were said to me frequently. As no-one believed she was doing anything wrong and I was told by many people I ‘deserved’ what she was doing…my mind concluded that they must be true, otherwise, why did I deserve being told them?

Given that the majority of these thoughts had been present prior to the abuse (some I specifically told her about), all the abuse did was make rational the irrational fears my social anxiety causes me to think.

And once a fear has been rendered rational…it’s almost impossible to deny as being untrue.

But, in the spirit of the challenge…

Is my photography really uninspiring, boring and monotonous? Although they never reach triple figures, whenever I post a ‘weekly photo challenge’ post, more often than not I receive dozens of ‘likes’ and twenty odd plus comments. Unless all these people are suffering from mass delusion, there must be something to like about my photography, isn’t there?

Ditto for my writing! People are often telling me how inspiring and enjoyable they find my blog. Plus, would an editor spend weeks helping me polish a short story and then publish it in a nationwide magazine if it was truly bad?

As for not making enough sacrifices, frankly, what THE FUCK?! I sacrificed my home, family, friends, uni course and future plans in order to move to the other side of the world purely because I loved someone. When my abuser was suffering from Glandular Fever I phoned in sick for work several times purely to look after her, in fact, for over a month I become her 24/7 nurse-maid, never once putting myself first throughout that entire period. Before that, I spent three years putting my life on hold for the benefit of my employer and staff, regularly working in excess of 60-80 hour weeks without overtime, cancelling night classes, social events and social groups in order to do so. Even though I live in abject poverty, I still find money for monthly donations to charitable organisations and have frequently done all I can, when I can, to help whomever I can (including complete strangers!) Even when I was homeless I would regularly give other homeless people money, clothes, food and blankets that I couldn’t afford to part with. Does that really sound like someone not willing to sacrifice things for the health, wellbeing and happiness of others?

You could even use the above to argue over the validity of my alleged selfishness…but the fact I wasn’t there for Grace when she needed a friend instantly renders all this evidence ineligible and one hundred percent proves my selfishness.

However, what about the negative thoughts relating to deserving to be abused? Astute readers amongst you will have connected what I was told following the emotionally abusive relationship to these thoughts. I was literally told I deserved it, ergo it must be true. But the rape? No-one told me I deserved to be raped…and I have no logical argument other than ‘guilt’ as to why I think this is true. But think it I do.

So what if I don’t like Harry Potter? There are so many better young adult fictional series (His Dark Materials, The Dark is Rising, Hunger Games, Narnia) than the tale of this young wizard. Or rather, in my opinion there are so many better young adult fictional series! Just because my opinion differs from others does not make me tasteless, it just makes me different. And while we’re at it…I don’t deserve mockery and humiliation for sharing an opinion, no-one does!

Ditto for all the my desires/dreams means there is something wrong with me thoughts. Just because I have cravings, needs and desires that are considered ‘deviant’ and/or ‘weird’ does not mean that they, or I, am wrong. It just means I’m different. Where’s the problem with that?

As for everything else…I’m afraid I can’t come up with reasons why they may not be true.

The simple fact is I have been living a socially isolated life for the last six years (give or take six months), so if I really am a decent person, deserving of friends, company and relationships, someone who doesn’t deserve to live and die alone, why is it that none of the efforts I undertake to create real-life connections work?

It is impossible to live alone for as long I have without believing that this is all you deserve in life.

The same argument can be used for the kissing, hugs and sex negative thoughts. There is a reason why I don’t get to do any of these things…and it can’t just be because of severe abuse trauma rendering me untrusting and fearful of intimacy. Can it?

The simple fact is, for every single item on that list I could come up with at least a dozen individual reasons for why they’re true. These reasons would be backed up by comments multiple people have told me throughout my life.

As I’ve said in the past, the more you are told something, the more you believe that something to be true. When all you’ve had in your life is negativity, insults, criticism, isolation and abuse…how can you possibly believe you’re a good person?

negative thinking 2

Part III: What would I tell a friend who thinks like this…

If any of my friends thought like this I’d put them over my knee and spank some sense into them!

But once I’d been released from prison on assault charges (unless the spanking had been consensual, that is :p) I would sit them down and tell them how unhealthy it was to think like that, how brilliant, beautiful and awesome they are and how these thoughts were the product of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and (possible) mental health and abuse trauma related issues.

I would then ask them what I could do to help them think more realistically about themselves. If that meant surreptitiously sending stories to magazines to prove how awesome a writer they are, let them cry on my shoulder, help them organize counseling to defeat their guilt over abuse and/or just spending time with them doing things that make them feel good, I would, without any hesitation.

In fact, I have done all of those things (and a lot more besides) to help friends defeat their demons in the past!

Part IV: Conclusion

Over the years I have exasperated psychologists, counselors and therapists with my negative thinking. Every time any of them issued compliments, positive reinforcement or adulation, my mind would immediately source from my history of bullying, abuse and criticism several comments that proved they were lying. There have been times when these psychologists, counselors and therapists have told me they can see this process occurring; from the moment they issue the praise to the moment I discard it as an irrelevant lie.

None of them have been able to help me find a way to combat this cycle of thinking.

No matter how hard I try to break free, no matter how many times I tell myself I’m wrong, no matter how often I can see the awesome bastard that I am, the damage from all the bullying, abuse and isolation seems to run too deep to be overcome.

And if you don’t believe me, if you think I’m just being lazy and not working hard enough, go and spend six years on your own, living on the streets, frequently being physically and emotionally abused whilst receiving no praise, positive reinforcement, human contact, touch or compliments…then get back to me and tell me how easy it is to think ‘positively’ about yourself and your life.

However much I would like to think less negative thoughts, it is going to take years of intense work to fix the damage caused by abuse, homelessness and isolation.

But, as with everything, I’ve already begun to work on it. This challenge is part of me moving toward fixing the damage, as are the social and support groups I’m trying to attend, as is this blog and so many other skills, therapies and treatments that I’m currently undertaking.

It would be easier to lose myself to these thoughts, to let them overcome me, but I refuse to let them simply because there is no way in hell I’m going to let my abuser win.

I’m way too freaking awesome to let that happen!

(Even if I don’t believe this most of the time!)


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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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Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else, with courage in love and war.

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is:
Take a line from a song that you love or connect with.
Turn that line into the title of your post.

We spend our lives wanting to be someone else, deriding and criticising every aspect of our appearance, personality and heart.

Our bums are too big, our bodies are too fat, our nipples too inverted, our courage too slight, our bank balance too small, our toes too abnormal, our hearts too broken, our mistakes too defining, our lips too thin, our backs too hairy, our fantasies too twisted, our lives never good enough, our days spent trying to earn love, recognition, forgiveness and respect from everyone under the sun (including ourselves).

Yet through all this self-hate and self-criticism we never realise how perfect we are in our entirety.

We are unique. We are beautiful. We are amazing. Every single one of us.

So perhaps we should stop wanting, dreaming, desiring, criticising, hating and pretending to be someone else. Perhaps we should just be who we are and be happy with that person.

For there is no-one else in the world quite like us.

Weak in the Knees, officially my favourite song of all time, from my favourite artist of all time.