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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25 Songs, 25 Days: Journey of the Featherless

Day 08: A song that makes you hopeful

Journey of the Featherless | Cloud Cult

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My home; circa 2010.

One of the most desperate and hopeless periods of my life were the five years I spent homeless. I had no security, no comfort and no love. My days were an endless cycle of survival and time-killing. My nights, a bleak nightmare of little sleep and total discomfort.

In order to survive the nightmare, I would spend my days in the Melbourne City Library. I would read the newspapers, browse the book stacks and listen to CDs on the in-house music system. Sometimes I would listen to music I knew, music that soothed my soul and showered me with waves of contentment. Other times I would take a chance, pulling a CD from the shelf that I had never heard of, just to hear something new, something different.

One such CD was Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) by a group I had never encountered before, Cloud Cult. I was immediately taken by the intricate blend of instruments and canny, clever lyrics. Over time it became a CD I turned to when feeling lost, when feeling hopeless, because I knew it would enliven me to keep going, to keep fighting the good fight. Over time it became an anthem for my homelessness.

I still turn to the CD when feeling lost and overwhelmed. It reminds me of a bleak and disparate period of my life. A period of my life that I thought was going to consume me until, with much assistance, I found the strength to break free of its bonds.

This CD, more than any other, reminds me that hope is the one thing you can never lose, for without it, you are nothing.


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30 Day Song Challenge: Journey of the Featherless

In early 2008, Samantha and I had an epic online conversation about the power of music. After hours of sharing songs, memories and anecdotes we both concluded that music was life’s universal healer. No matter how serious or painful your problems, music has the power to make everything better.

For her, Nick Cave, Evanesence, Aqua and Biffy Clyro were more potent than any painkiller or antidepressant available.

For me? Well, I am about to embark on a thirty day song challenge that I discovered on MM172001’s blog so it would be spoilerific to share them right now.  So stay tuned to find out what songs hold the greatest power over my life, beginning with…

a song that makes me happy!

“So many people
Wondering ‘What’s the right direction?’
As far as I’m concerned
There’s only one way up

When you’re homeless, aside from whittling food-divining rods and searching for safe places to sleep, there really isn’t all that much to do. You roam the streets, work your arse off, day-dream about what life would be like if you weren’t homeless, write random blog posts and generally do whatever you can to survive. One of my survival techniques was to venture into the Melbourne City Library, pick out random CDs I’d never heard of and spend an hour listening to them on the free CD players they provided.

During one of those sessions I picked up a superbly titled album, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), by a group I’d never heard of, Cloud Cult. I was falling for it by the end of track one, pondering how many dates I’d need to take it on before I got lucky by the end of track two, declaring my unconditional love for it by the end of track four and – upon listening to track six – planning a complicated, creative and sickeningly romantic marraige proposal.

Even though this song reminds me of one of the most painful periods of my life, it also reminds me of life, love, hope, determination, passion and happiness, for even on the darkest and most coldest of nights, the memory of this song gave me the warmth I needed to keep fighting.

Journey of the Featherless | Cloud Cult

And my fingers, they are blisters
And my eyes, they are bullet holes
But my hearts still beating
Guess I’m pretty lucky”

Today, on ‘Imaginary Menagerie’: A song that makes my voices happy…
Tomorrow, on this blog: A song that helps me clear my head…


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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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But who can remember pain, once it’s over?

East Beach, Port Fairy

East Beach, Port Fairy © Addy

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see.”
  ~ Margaret Atwood ~

Seven years ago today I went to Port Fairy to end my life.
Weeks of planning culminated with me sitting on the East Beach with a knife,
my pain having grown too severe for me to deal with.

To this day I can remember with intimate clarity how much I wanted to die,
how much I craved for my insignificant ‘life’ to be over.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

As I stared out over the Southern Ocean I was reminded of all I would miss,
of the passions that burned in my soul and the desires I’d yet to achieve.

A part of me has always regretted choosing life on that lonely night,
but hidden beneath this regret is pride; of my strength, of my belief,
of my stubborn determination to not let life beat me.

Perhaps one day it will,
but not today.