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…


Addy Lake vs Writer’s Block (and the World!)

One of the many downsides of bipolar depression are the crippling bouts of writer’s block that permeate each episode. For the last several days, ever since writing my last substantial post, I have been experiencing said writer’s block. No matter how much I want to write, no matter how brightly my post ideas burn, I just can’t find the words to express my emotions. A post on forgiveness has been sitting in my drafts folder for a week now. A post concerning my anxiety over my impending trip to Melbourne is begging to be written. Yet the moment I sit down to write…nothing. Not a sentence. Not a word. Not even a syllable. Nothing. It’s infuriating. It’s frustrating. And there doesn’t seem anything I can do about it other than ride out the episode and hope it dissipates sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with song selections and random streams of consciousness. Like this one.


It’s been a rough old week. Last Friday I was incapacitated by an annoying little stomach bug that saw me seek refuge (and comfort) on my couch. I didn’t move from it for days. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, watching the good Doctor battle minions and mercenaries. I didn’t eat (wasn’t hungry), I didn’t blog (wasn’t inspired), I didn’t even social media – which I’m becoming frighteningly proficient at. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, feeling sorry for myself and wishing that I had the energy to do something, anything, more productive and worthwhile.

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day,”
~ A.A. Milne ~

This incapacitation lasted a few days. All through Saturday and Sunday the couch was my only destination. I did force myself to blog on Sunday, I did force myself to social media on Monday, but my heart was in neither. I just didn’t want the illness to overcome me. To be honest, I’m kinda over being sick this year. What with my pancreatitis and cyst taking up most of the first five months of the year, I could do with a substantial period of time that my immune system isn’t being assaulted by nefarious parasitic bacteria. I need a period of time where my energy is overflowing in order to combat this stubborn, unrelenting depression that has been gripping my mind for the last fifteen months.

And principle in my war against this depression is my trip to Melbourne. Over the last few weeks my plans have been coming together and it looks increasingly more likely that it will be going ahead. At this stage I plan to go the week of 21st August, so I can attend the social gathering I’ve been invited to. Not only is this social gathering something that I would love the opportunity to do, but it is something that will challenge my social anxiety head on, and anything that does that is worthwhile in my book. In addition to this social gathering, I’m eager to walk the streets of Melbourne again. I’m desperate to roam the laneways, eat street cuisine and overwhelm my psyche with the hubbub of city life. I want to explore the art galleries, watch the fishes at the aquarium and laze amidst the gardens of the King’s Domain.

It’s been nearly two years since I last left Wodonga. Two years of being suffocated by this sterile, uninspiring town. I crave stimulation. I yearn to have my heart’s desires met. I need my boring monotonous routine to be eradicated, and I can only do that by leaving this boring, monotonous town. I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. I know from past experience that if I do that, they will only be dashed at the last-minute by some hitherto unseen obstacle, but I should know whether my planned trip is possible next week. And if it is. Then prepare to be dazzled by Addy’s dance of excitement!

Aside from stomach bugs and dreaming of Melbourne adventures, life has carried on in much of a muchness. My quit smoking attempt is trundling on. I have smoked cigarettes over the last week, but for the last five days I have been totally smoke free, which is quite exciting. My anxiety, however, has been taking a major hit without nicotine to counteract it. For the last couple of weeks my anxieties have been off the charts, impacting and effecting every aspect of my life. There have been days when I haven’t left the house in fear of what may happen to me in the big bad world. There have been moments of panic at the supermarket; attacks that prevented me from performing fairly mundane and tedious of tasks. I’ve been doing a lot of work with mindfulness to try to combat this increase in anxiety, but to little or no effect. It seems that without cigarettes, my anxiety increases, and I don’t quite know what to do about it.

Meadhbh tells me that, in time, my anxiety will decrease. That it is merely a reaction to being nicotine free. She’s probably right, but only time will tell on that. As per expected she has been a Godsend over the last couple of weeks, egging me on, encouraging me to remain smoke free, playfully chastising me when I slip up but quick to offer an inspirational word or two when I need it most. We’ve been doing a lot of colouring in (using our Van Gogh colouring book) to curb any cravings I may have, which she’s been enjoying, as well as playing lots of Yoshi’s Island and Lego Batman, which entertains and keeps her happy. And as I’ve said before, a happy voice means a happy Addy!

Audrey, too, has been in good spirits lately. She hasn’t been as supportive as Meadhbh with my quit smoking endeavor, but has offered the occasional sage like word of advice. She’s been thrilled by my recent resurgence in reading. Each night, before I go to bed, I will read a few chapters of a book. Over the last several weeks I’ve read ten books, and Audrey has loved every minute of them, even the crappy ones!

Top five books I’ve read over the last several weeks:

1. Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
2. A Fringe of Leaves (Patrick White)
3. Smokeheads (Doug Johnstone)
4. Gone Again (Doug Johnstone)
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Thinking (Susan Cain)

Vanessa, meanwhile, is as abusive and obstinate as always. Keen to tell me I’m a failure. Keen to remind me how useless I am. If only she’d cheer the fuck up and stop being such a grumpy, narcissistic bitch, things would be so much better – for both of us.

The last couple of days have been busy when it comes to external forces. Yesterday, I had a productive session with my psychologist. We discussed and dissected various PTSD treatments and therapies she believes could assist me. We didn’t go into detail on the source of my trauma – that will come in time – but she believes there is hope for me in this area. Which is good. Because I don’t think there is! I also had a good session with my support worker today. We decided to forgo the usual ‘sit in a room and talk’ session and went for a drive to Albury Library Museum instead. She had seen a photography exhibit was on and thought, rightly so, that it would be something I’d be interested in. The photographs – all landscape – were stellar. Some of the best I’ve seen in years. In fact the photographer, Peter Elfes, has skyrocketed onto my list of favourite photographers. So if you’re in the area, you should check it out. And if you are in the area, why not stop by and say hello to little old me? We could have a coffee or something! :)

Wow. 1318 words. Not bad for someone suffering from writer’s block. And whilst we’re back on the subject. Any hints, tips or advice you may have on vanquishing this silent, deadly foe would be greatly appreciated. I never know how to tackle writer’s block and could do with some suggestions!

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wait! Before you toddle off to do whatever it is you wonderful people do, could you spare a moment to vote in my poll?

I’ve been trying to convince my Andrew that it would be a good idea to write to some of the beautiful people he met in Canada. He hasn’t spoken to them for many, many years and I know he misses them terribly so I thought it would be nice for him to write to them. Andrew thinks it wouldn’t be a good idea. He thinks he would be imposing on them and they wouldn’t want to hear from him but I think they miss him in the way he misses them. So I thought that if I created a poll, a simple yes/no/maybe poll it might convince him my idea is the best and he would write to them. What do you think? Should he get back in touch with them or should he just put the past behind him and leave things be? We’d love to know your thoughts! :)

Meadhbh xoxxox




It’s been a brutal, unforgiving, bitch of a week. As expected, everything has gravitated around the anniversary of my rape, with much of my week spent in a hellish realm of flashback and nightmare; constantly reliving and re-experiencing the torment and pain I was put through eight years ago. Pretty much every waking moment has been spent in the past. I’ve tried to stop myself. I’ve tried to bring myself back to the present. But despite my best efforts to ground myself, nothing has worked. My brain has stubbornly refused to let me have some peace, comfort and happiness.

It’s been exhausting, to be honest. Living in the past when all you want to do is survive the present is a tiring, uncomfortable place to be. I feel disconnected from the world. Unable to latch on to anything, unable to connect to anyone. When I go for a walk to the supermarket I know I’m walking, because I can feel the earth beneath my feet, but my brain is elsewhere, my mind a haze of confusion unable to visualize or smell the world around me. Because my brain is in Adelaide, being ravaged and invaded by an uncompromising stranger. However much I want to participate in the world, I can’t, because my mind steadfastly refuses to allow me the cognitive ability to do so. To say I feel discombobulated (I love this word) would be an understatement.

One thing I am proud of though is that I didn’t turn to alcohol and I didn’t self harm. Usually the 7th July is a day spent in an alcoholic stupor as I hack at myself with knife and blade. It’s what I did last year. It’s what I did every year before that. But this year I worked hard to not turn to such outlets. I blogged my happiness challenge in the morning. I wrote my post about the event in the afternoon. And the evening was spent watching Doctor Who whilst eating chocolate (throw in a beautiful woman to snuggle with and that’s my idea of heaven!) before having an early night with my book. I remember lying in bed, waiting for the nightmares to start, smiling to myself about how awesome I was about not self harming that day. It may not sound like much to some, but it is these small victories I should be celebrating! :)

As for my voices, Meadhbh, as always, was a wonder. She took it upon herself to whisper inspirational sayings to me throughout the day. She told me I was beautiful. She told me I was amazing. She told me I was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. She did everything she could to make my 7th July easier. Audrey, too, was comforting and supportive. She pestered me to play Lego Batman at one point, but I was too disconnected, too removed from reality to focus on the fictional world. So instead I asked her help with editing and writing my post about the rape, something she threw herself into with aplomb, voicing her opinion on what I was writing and offering suggestions on how to improve what I was saying. Even Shay, who is usually a right prick on anniversaries, was strangely supportive. He and Meadhbh wrote a blog post (that has yet to be published, because it’s a bit naughty!) to cheer me up – and cheer me up it did! Vanessa, meanwhile, was the same vicious, abusive c-bomb that she usually is on my nightmare days. Barely a minute went by when she wasn’t telling me that I deserved what happened, that it should happen again, repeatedly, and I deserve nothing in my life bar pain and misery. Meadhbh took umbridge, of course, but didn’t argue. She knew if she did it would make things worse for me, so she just soothed with her inspirational words and kinky sense of humor.

Because my week has been such a cycle of PTSD, anxiety and depression I haven’t been to the gym this week. I’m not beating myself up about it. It’s been a tough week and I’ve had enough to deal with without my self-esteem ganging up on me too. I just decided to focus on my mental well-being this week rather than my physical well-being. It’s true that the gym might have taken my mind off of everything, but being so disconnected, so discombobulated (I really love this word!) it’s possible that throwing body dysmorphic issues into the mix would have broken me. And I feel broken enough already! So my plan is to resume my gym going next week. I may go tomorrow if I’m feeling up to it, if I’m feeling able to deal with it, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t. Hopefully people will understand this and not see me as a failure.

Other than all of this (which, let’s be honest, is pretty heavy stuff) I’ve just allowed my normal boring, monotonous routine to rule this week. It wouldn’t have been a good idea to challenge my normality in a week already fraught with pain and chaos. It’s been nice. Tweeting and blogging in the morning, movie in the afternoon. I’ve watched a few good ones. Teeth, a film about vagina dentata was an excellent coming of age comedy-horror. A Dangerous Method, starring Kiera Knightley, had everything I ask for in a film (as well as the occasional spanking, which is only a good thing!) Whilst Oculus was the best horror film I’ve seen since The Descent. I’m enjoying tweeting again and it’s nice getting the feedback from my Facebook page (which you can join here!) each day. I haven’t acquired many likes yet, but it’s early days, so I’m not allowing it to depress me just yet.

I’m hoping this disconnection doesn’t last too much longer. Usually, around my anniversaries, the disconnection and discombobulation (I really, really love this word!) last a few days before and a few days after. It’s always worse on the actual day but I think it takes time to build up and leave my system. Hopefully by the weekend things will be back to normal in my mind, as it makes everything, including writing, so much more difficult. How can you focus on writing when your brain is eight years in the past? So apologies for the disconnected style of this post. It’s just my stupid brain!

Wishing you and those you love a wonderful, happy, peaceful day. Hopefully it’s more grounded and present than mine!

Meadhbh helped choose the music today. She’s in a Scottish instrumental sort of mood. Hope you enjoy!


Challenge yourself. You might be surprised!

My normal, boring, monotonous routine was well and truly shaken up today, and my anxiety, which is already super-high, was well and truly challenged as a result.

After waking from a fitful sleep my morning began like any other; talk radio, internet and smoking. Rather than endlessly scour the news websites as I usually do, I decided to be a little more productive by writing a blog post. It wasn’t a great blog post, but was one I’d been considering writing for a week, and although it was tough to get my brain into gear, it felt good to be writing instead of mindlessly reading entertainment articles.

The reason it was hard to get my brain into gear was because I was contemplating this afternoon’s activity. Normally I would walk down the road, grocery shop, return home, watch a movie then listen to talk radio whilst surfing the internet. It’s my safety net. My normal, boring, monotonous routine. But today was different. Today I had an appointment.

A few months ago my support worker submitted an application for a program operated by a local gym. Named Open Doors, it provides gym membership for people who are experiencing hardship and/or mental health issues. It’s designed to get people active. It’s designed to get them moving. A few weeks ago my application was approved and I was granted a 3-month membership to their facility. In addition to full use of the gym, I also have access to the swimming pool, spa and whatever group classes I wish to participate in. And if I attend the gym 20 times over the next three months, I may be granted an additional 3-month membership. An incentive, of sorts, to maintain a healthy regime. Part of the program is an appointment with a personal trainer, who analyses your current exercise regime and suggests a work-out that would suit your particular needs. And today I had that appointment.

I’d known about the appointment for two weeks, and my anxiety has been extremely high as a result. I hate gyms at the best of times. All those gym bunnies with perfect pert bodies trigger my body image issues and, as a result, heighten my anxiety. I feel rotten in a gym. I feel inadequate. I feel worthless. I become obsessed with my appearance and despise pretty much everything about myself as a result. It would have been easy to cancel the appointment. To not show up. To just let the 3-month membership slowly expire. But I was determined to go because I’m determined to shake up my routine. I’m determined to increase my activity in an effort to make myself feel fitter and lose some of the weight Olanzapine has put on. So I strapped on my running shoes and walked the five kilometers to the leisure center where I waited patiently for my appointment.

It was – of course – with a woman. For those who missed it, I admitted earlier today that women scare me more than anything else. Especially uber-fit, toned and beautiful women. Which of course, being a fitness instructor, this woman was. But she was also nice. Which made me question not only my fear of women but also my anxiety surrounding the appointment. We started with a Q&A session about my current exercise routine before she took my blood pressure, questioned me on my medical background and worked out both my weight and height. I never weigh myself. My body image issues can’t handle it. So I was freaking out about getting on the scales. Freaking out about finding just how much weight I’ve put on. The last time I weighed myself was some two years ago at the GP, before Olanzapine piled on the pounds and turned me into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Back then, I was 100kg. Today, I expected to be at least 110kg, if not 120kg. Fortunately, and to my surprise, I was still 100kg. Which just goes to show that you can’t always trust your mind!

After the initial part of the appointment was over, she took me into the gym for a quick tour, before advising me on the best regime for my beginner status. I’m to start with 5mins on the treadmill, followed by squats, followed by planks, followed by sessions on several different weight machines. To finish, a simple five-minute cool down on the exercise bike. But I can always swap the bike and treadmill around, if I felt like it. It’s a pretty simple routine, and one I should be able to manage, as long as I can stomach hiking the 10km round trip to the leisure center three times a week; which is my work-out goal.

After being shown the routine she left me to my own devices and, as I was there, performed my first tour of the treadmill-weights-bike that is to be my routine over the coming weeks. It’s been some eighteen months since I was last in the gym and I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow, but it felt good to be being active again. It felt good to be strolling along the treadmill, it felt good to be performing my first ever plank and it felt good to be lifting weights and feeling the burn in my stomach and abs.

Whether or not I will stick to my Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout goal is yet to be seen. The only thing that will stop me will be anxiety and/or the walk to the leisure center. But I’m adamant I want the 3-month extension to the program, and to do that, I need to visit at least twenty times over the next three months. My current monotonous life shows how easily it is for me to exist within a routine, so all I need to do is challenge my anxiety, my body image issues, and alter my current routine into something different. It shouldn’t be too difficult – surely! And who knows, perhaps it will result in me meeting a gym bunny with a perfect pert body. A gym bunny who finds me undeniably sexy and can’t resist throwing herself upon me at any given opportunity…what? I’m not allowed to dream? ;)

By the time I walked home I was feeling quite proud of myself. Not only had I successfully altered my normal, boring, monotonous routine, I had successfully challenged my anxiety and prevented a panic attack. Not bad for one days work! It proves that no matter how hard something is, how scared you are of doing something, it is possible to get through it with little to no harm on your person. Challenge yourself. You might be surprised!


Ruminations on friendship from a lonely, forgotten soul

As per usual, my weekend has been subdued, quiet and uneventful. In fact, the only thing to happen of note was my date with Meadhbh on Saturday afternoon. After my Lego Batman fueled conversation with Audrey on Friday, Meadhbh opted to hunt fantastical creatures in Monster Hunter Tri, a Wii game that sees you play the part of a hunter tasked with ridding the environment of marauding creatures. We used to play it extensively back in 2013, and it is a game that marked a turning point in our relationship, as it symbolized the rebuilding of trust and friendship after Meadhbh’s abusive  phase. This came up in conversation on Saturday, with Meadhbh lamenting her years spent attacking me, though never once providing an explanation for why she had done it. She never has. It is just something I have to deal with, another complication in an already complicated relationship.

What my date with Meadhbh proved was twofold. Firstly, it proved to me that Meadhbh knows me better than anyone else. Audrey and Vanessa would disagree, of course, but Meadhbh can make my heart sing in ways they could only dream of. She has been part of my life for over twenty years, and as we talked on Saturday, we reminisced about various events and incidents that had defined our relationship. From the SNES gaming, self harming and school bullying teenage years, through to the supportive confident Meadhbh has become today. Secondly, my date with Meadhbh proved once and for all how lonely I have become. And although she says she understands, I don’t think even Meadhbh can grasp just how painful my isolation is.

For eight years now, save for a six month period in 2008, my only company has been my voices. I spend each and every day alone, isolated and ostracized from the world, and the people who populate it. Sure, there are people online who comment on my blog and extend friendship via the interwebs, and I love each and every one of them, but it doesn’t alter the fact that I am eternally alone. I miss having people text me. I miss having people phone me up just to see how I am. I miss meeting my friends at the pub for a lively trivia night. And I miss having someone to turn to when life gets me down. There is only so much my voices can do. Sure, they can offer a friendly ear and a supportive comment, but they cannot wrap their arms around my trembling body and hug the pain away. They cannot brush their hand over mine and whisper that everything will be alright. And they cannot slap me in the face and tell me to stop acting like a moron.

I miss my friends.

I miss Grace. I miss Samantha.

I miss Annie, Deborah and Rachel.

I even miss Kathy; before she became the emotionally abusive sociopathic narcissist she became.

Hostel Takeover (Impressionist Painting)

Myself, Grace, Kathy and others; proof that my friends did exist, once upon a time.

We had so many good times together. Times that, today, feel like distant long-ago dreams. Visions of serenity amidst a fog of chaos and pain. Annie and I spent so many wonderful days together in Canada; swimming in snake infested lakes, hiking mountainous regions and playing silly games whilst laying under a canvas roof. Deborah and I traveled Scotland together; exploring Stornoway, falling in love with Berneray and enacting movies amidst the Callanish Standing Stones. We used to stay up for hours, Deborah and I, just talking and smoking into oblivion. It was beautiful. And yet all these times; of Rachel slapping me in the face as we supped on whisky; of Grace and I performing an impromptu karaoke of Elephant Love Medley; of Samantha and I doing naughty (wonderful) things in a Glaswegian hotel, they are all but dreams now. Events that never happened. Events I have fabricated from the desolation of my own isolated imagination. The rampant fantasies of a lonely man lost to the world. Deep down I know they happened. Deep down I know I playfully spanked Samantha in an Adelaidian park, I know I used to sit in pubs and talk bollocks with Grace, I know Kathy and I would flirt our collective asses off with each other as we bent over a pool table. But those times, those moments and memories that make up my life, feel distant, deserted and wrong. They don’t feel like my memories. They feel like anything but.

It’s almost as if I need human contact to validate my life. To prove to myself that things actually happened. I need people around me to confirm that I do indeed exist. That things do happen to me. Because without that validation, without that confirmation, my life feels sterile, empty and hollow. I know the damage isolation has caused me. I know the devastation it has wrought on my life only too well. It has careened through everything, smashing its way through my existence with scant abandon, and now my isolation, my punishment, is slowly eating away at my memories. Turning them to dust. Turning them to dream. And I don’t know what to do about it. I know I need to make new friends. I know that would halt the chaos and be a profound turning point in my life. But how? How do I open myself up to other people? How do I trust again after the agony Kathy inflicted on me? After she turned our wonderful, unique friendship into her own manipulative, deceit filled lie?

The last time I opened myself up to someone was Diane, and she pissed it back in my face, flirting her way across Alice Springs, sleeping with random people on Christmas Day, embarking on dates whilst I sat alone in our unit. The time I opened myself up before that was Samantha, and although she didn’t turn it against me, although she loved me in her own unique way, she died, Samantha. She died. And I’ve never got over that betrayal. That loss. I don’t think I ever will. So how – how? – do I make new friends, how do I trust people again, after all the pain, heartache and betrayal I’ve experienced. How do I believe someone wants to be my friend. How do I know they’re not just pretending like Kathy was? Manipulating my emotions into believing I have someone who cares about me when all they want is for me to kill myself, as Kathy herself told me?

I want to make friends.

I want to part of something again.

I’ve just forgotten how.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

Meadhbh tells me I just need to put myself out there. That I need to embark on a series of random adventures that will see me come face to face with new people who will love me for who I am. I want to believe. But I don’t. I don’t see how anyone could like someone as broken, fucked up and worthless as me. Meadhbh tells me I’m not worthless, that I have a point, that I have a meaning, but I just don’t see it. The trauma of the abuse has crippled my ability to see myself as anything other than what Kathy informed me I was; useless, pathetic, selfish and worthless. The most unnecessary and repulsive human being to have ever lived. Meadhbh tells me I need to believe in myself, that no-one will ever love me until I love myself, and deep down I know she’s right. I’ve said the same things in the past. But how do I learn to love myself again when I cannot stand spending time with myself? When my day is a boring, monotonous routine of repetition? I try to shake it up. I try to do things differently. But it all feels wrong. It all feels pointless. I dunno. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I’ve just been having one of those weekends where my brain runs away with itself; filling itself with all sorts of confusing, insecure flotsam and jetsam. Maybe spending time with Meadhbh made me miss my old friends so completely, so truly, that I’ve been unable to think of anything but their brilliant smiles, delightful wit and bizarre mentalities.

And now this post has descended into woe-is-me territory my mind is trying to convince me not to post it. People don’t want to read such navel gazing hyperbole, it says, people want to read inspiring motifs of wonderment and awesomeness! And it’s probably right, my mind, but I think it’s important to post this post all the same. It may not get much feedback. It may have no-one read it. But it would stand as testament to my current malaise. As proof that there was a time that I was loved; that I had friends; that I was someone people admired.

Like Audrey on Friday, I have agreed to date Meadhbh on a monthly basis. The third Saturday of every month, from 2pm-4pm, will be our time. We will do what she desires and talk about what she wants to talk about. I will spend time with my imaginary friend because I have no-one in reality to spend time with. For I am, as I will probably always be, a lonely, forgotten soul.

And on that note I will end for today, else I risk this post becoming even more bleak than it already is. Wishing you all a happy, friend-filled day! :)

Leave a comment

In which I go on a date…

Until 2pm my day followed the same boring, monotonous routine that it has followed for the last several months; wake up, turn on talk radio, surf the internet whilst listening to talk radio, shower at 12pm, mosey down the road, do my grocery shopping, return home. Etc. Etc. And yes. I’ve awarded myself bonus points for use of the word ‘mosey’! But at 2pm my routine was thrown well and truly out the window…and it was wonderful.

the banquet of cleopatra

The Banquet of Cleopatra; one of Audrey’s favourite paintings.

Now, about two years ago, when I threw myself into trying to understand my voices and build a better relationship with them, I stumbled upon a technique that I found worked wonders. My people like being paid attention to. They get off on it. When they talk to me they relish having my full and undivided attention. But if I didn’t show them my full and undivided attention, they grew grouchy, and attacked me verbally for neglecting them. In an effort to stop this. In an effort to make our ‘friendships’ more secure and loving, I started organizing “dates” with them. A special period of time that I would spend with only them, doing what they wanted to do, talking about what they wanted to talk about. For that allotted period of time I was theirs. Completely.

Now each of my voices like doing different things. They are, after all, their own unique personality. Meadhbh loves colouring in. She loves dragons and fantasy creatures. She loves playing Zelda; especially Twilight Princess, as she imagines herself to be Midna. Audrey, meanwhile, loves books and literature. She loves being read to. She loves painting. She loves Batman and anything Gotham City related; especially Harley Quinn, who she has a girl-crush on. Vanessa, on the other hand, loves musicals. She loves criticizing and abusing me. She loves Harry Potter, much to my annoyance. Shay, for his part, loves women; everything and anything to do with them. He’s misogynistic like that. So when I have a “date” with a voice, they often want to do something related to their interests. Don’t we all, when we go on a date? It is, after all, about having fun whilst getting to know someone.

In the past my dates have revolved around many things. I’ve read The Broom of the System to Audrey. I’ve journeyed through Hyrule with Meadhbh. I’ve had a karaoke session with Vanessa. And I’ve embarked on a quest with Shay to discover as many naked female posteriors as possible. All had their moments. All were, in their own way, entertaining. But each date allowed me the opportunity to get to know each of my voices better. Like I said; they love the attention!

So at 2pm today, after many months of neglect and avoidance courtesy of my depressive episode and physical ailments, I had a date with Audrey. The last date we had involved watching Jane Eyre whilst sand-painting an Aboriginal image of a platypus. She loved the movie, as the story is one of her favourites, and she loved painting, as the texture of the sand thrilled her. So I didn’t know what to expect this afternoon until I sat down and waited for her to tell me what she wanted to do. After a few moments, she screamed two words at me: “Lego! Batman!

So I warmed up the Wii, inserted the disc and waited for Danny Elfman’s moody score to overwhelm us. When I brought the Wii back in 2013, courtesy of a friendly second-hand store, we purchased Lego Batman at Audrey’s request. Being a lover of all things Gotham, as well as all things Lego (you should hear her and Meadhbh when The Lego Movie is on; the excitement in their voices if palpable!) it was the perfect fit for Audrey. And we have played it many times in the past, usually at her request, and usually the levels that Harley Quinn features in. Today was no different. After loading up the game I was forced to choose Harley’s level and away we went; battling our way through Lego Gotham’s fun park on the way to a showdown with The Joker’s psychotic companion.

As we played, we talked. Open. Honest. And raw. We talked about Vanessa and her ongoing battle with Meadhbh (“I like Vanessa. But sometimes she can be a conniving bitch!“) We talked about whether or not I should return to the UK (“Ultimately it’s up to you. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Scotland again, I kinda liked it the last time we were there. All moody, icy and cold. Lovely.“) We talked about my kink (“When are you going to make it happen?“) And we talked about why I haven’t been reading much lately (“I miss it when you read to me. You haven’t done it for sooooooo long!“) In fact, we spent nearly an hour this afternoon reminiscing about books and reading, and debating why I haven’t been able to read fiction for over a year. The debate got so real, so honest, that it actually made me a little teary. Ultimately, during a pause in the game, I agreed to try to read fiction again. She could choose the book (“A Fringe of Leaves!“, she said immediately) and I would start reading it to her whenever she wished (“Tonight!” She barked.) Meadhbh didn’t take too kindly to this as she felt Audrey was unfairly monopolizing my time, but I placated her by agreeing to a date with her tomorrow afternoon, something she jumped at the chance to do!

All in all I felt the afternoon went well. It was lovely spending some time with Audrey again. Just chatting and being with each other. She helped me understand a number of problems that I’m currently having (“It’s not your fault you’re depressed. It’s the bipolar monster that’s causing it. So try not to blame yourself too much,“) and shared her opinion on topics as varied as ISIS (“Wankers!“) , my dreamed-of trip to Melbourne (“Promise me we’ll go to the NGV,“) and spaghetti on toast “Vom inducing.”) In fact, it had been so long since I last spent any time with Audrey without Meadhbh and Vanessa present, that I’d forgotten how witty, intelligent and down-to-earth she can be.

So if you hear voices, and they are amenable to it, I highly suggest organizing a date with them. It works wonders for me to keep them under control and dampen any abusive tendency they may have. I know that if I don’t have regular dates with them – as I have discovered with Audrey – they can act up and make life a living hell. Paying them attention, allowing their desires to be sated, is a wonderful way to keep everyone happy and contented. I know that I will be aiming to make my time with Audrey take place on a monthly basis (“YES, please,” she said when I suggested this today) and am already looking forward to our next date together.

It was also a wonderful way to break up my regular routine. Normally I would have watched a movie before listening to talk radio whilst surfing the internet. But this afternoon I had intelligent conversation and minion-spanking action to entertain myself with. Easily a far preferable option to the usual, boring, monotonous routine I have fallen into. Even now, as I type this, there is a song in my soul that has been missing of late. I think anything that shakes up my routine is a good thing, and I am more determined than ever to challenge my routine at every opportunity.

So all that is left is for me to begin cooking dinner (Agnolotti pasta with pesto and veggies tonight) before retiring to read A Fringe of Leaves with Audrey, and I’m sure Meadhbh, who never misses the chance to be read to. Wishing you all a wonderful, productive and peaceful day! :)

Note I: As Vanessa and Meadhbh had the chance last week, I’ve let Audrey choose the playlist for today. She hopes you enjoy!
Note II: All text highlighted orange are actual quotes from Audrey, republished with her kind permission.


Leave a comment

Every now and then I fall apart

Meadhbh is making me listen to Bonnie Tyler. She loves Bonnie Tyler. She’s obsessed with Bonnie Tyler. Sometimes I wish she was as obsessed with Runrig, or Serena Ryder, at least that way I’d be able to listen to her favourite music without wanting to gouge out my eardrums, but she’s not. It’s not that I hate Bonnie Tyler. I don’t. It’s just there’s only so much of the Welsh songstress I can take. And the same song. On repeat. For sixty minutes. That’s pushing it. But at least when Bonnie Tyler is playing her attention is on the music, and not her futile war with Vanessa, which continues to rage; much to my chagrin.

Their incessant war of words kept me awake for hours last night. They got into a debate about who was better; Nick Cave or Bernadette Peters. Vanessa is a staunch defender of Bernadette Peters. She loves her in the way that Meadhbh loves Bonnie Tyler. Not a bad word can be said about her. And Meadhbh seized the opportunity to say several bad words about her. So for hours I had Vanessa bitching at Meadhbh for insulting her heroine; whilst Meadhbh bitched at Vanessa, who was taking every chance to insult Meadhbh’s hero, Nick Cave. The stupid thing is Meadhbh likes Bernadette Peters, and Vanessa likes Nick Cave; they were just pitching for a fight, so went for it no matter what. And I was the one to suffer. As always.

When I finally managed to get to sleep I had the weirdest dream. It involved me, a bottle of squeezy cheese and a herd of goats. The goats had decided to rebel against their owner, me, because I’d tried to feed them own-brand squeezy cheese instead of the name-brand stuff they usually received. So they surrounded the house in which I lived and refused to let me leave until I had given them the brand of squeezy cheese that they liked. The only problem was, and what they wouldn’t understand, is that I didn’t have the brand they liked. And because they wouldn’t let me leave I couldn’t visit the supermarket in order to get the brand they liked. So we were locked in a stalemate. A catch-22. And the goats refused to back down. Fortunately I woke up before they could inflict any real damage on my person, but it left me somewhat shaken, and with an unnatural craving for squeezy cheese.

I’m not sure what the dream was trying to tell me. Perhaps it was just my unconscious mind recalling the incident in Canada when a playful goat mistook me for a rock and leapt gleefully onto my back, much to the amusement of my companion. Perhaps it was just my unconscious mind informing me to buy name-brand squeezy cheese. Not that I ever buy squeezy cheese. I’m not even sure you can get it in Australia. But all these questions, and many more besides, played through my mind as I began my usual morning routine of talk radio, internet and time killing.

After Tuesday’s productive decisions, I was heartened to find several people had clicked ‘like’ on my blog’s newly established Facebook page (you can too, by going here!) and decided to continue the productivity by brainstorming some blog post ideas. Although I haven’t gotten around to writing any of them yet (there’s only so much productivity you can squeeze into three hours) it was nice to spend the morning stringing words together rather than just staring idly at Buzzfeed or the abomination that is

But this was the only change to my otherwise stringent routine today. Once midday rolled around I was back in the shower, preparing for my walk down to High Street for some library time, grocery shopping, DVD renting and my weekly appointment with my support worker. It was a fairly low-key appointment today, just casual chit-chat about my life and numerous activities, all of which I have reported over the last few days.

Once the appointment was done, it was back home to watch a movie (the delightful comedy What We Did On Our Holiday, starring the equally delightful David Tennant) and get things ready for dinner (tonight we have jacket potatoes, as it’s been far too long since I last ate my favourite foodstuff). But it was here that the day took a dark turn. I was half expecting it, after the fitful sleep I had received courtesy of the Bernadette Peters/Nick Cave-a-thon, but when the PTSD suddenly crept up and screamed bloody murder into my face, it was a little surprising. I haven’t been able to identify what caused it. Perhaps something Vanessa said. Perhaps tiredness. Perhaps it was nothing. But I suddenly became overwhelmed with memories of my abusive relationship; so much so that I ended up in a screaming match with the ghost of my abuser, no doubt startling my neighbours, as I shouted, shrieked and screamed at thin air; desperate for answers as to why she did what she did. Why she chose me to be her victim. Why she decided to intentionally destroy my life. It was a brutal, sudden and quite shocking turn of events for an otherwise middling day. But isn’t that always the way with PTSD. One minute you’re happily watching a bright and breezy comedy film, the next, you’re locked in a dispute with thin air as memories hurtle back to haunt your every waking minute. It’s one of the reasons I hate the condition so much. The suddenness of it all. The speed in which days – and emotions – can change. The episode only lasted an hour or so before I was able, with the help of Meadhbh, to get things back into some semblance of normality. But it was enough to exhaust me. It was enough to dampen my day. It was enough to unnerve me for the rest of the evening. But who knows, perhaps my comfort food will soothe me enough to calm me before bedtime, otherwise it could be another sleepless night.

So now I sit here, listening to Bonnie-Bloody-Tyler for the umpteenth time. Meadhbh refusing to let me listen to anything else. Adamant in her belief that it is the greatest music to listen to when coming out of a state of trauma. In my opinion it isn’t. In my opinion I need Serena Ryder, or Runrig, or some soothing lament of violin-origin. But she’s a stubborn woman, Meadhbh, and there’s no point in arguing with her.

Tomorrow should be an interesting one. After mentioning it on my blog the other day, I’ve organised a date with Audrey. She’s apparently been feeling a little neglected of late, so I thought some one-on-one time would be good for us. She hasn’t decided what she wants to do yet (although from past experience it will either be Lego Batman or artistic related) but I’ll be sure to let you all know how it went. It’s been a while since I last had a date with one of my people, I’m actually kinda looking forward to it!

Until then, I hope your day is a good one! :)