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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An unusually productive day

artwork

An image Meadhbh and I found on the interwebs this morning; we loved it! :)

After seven straight days of tinned spaghetti on toast for dinner, I’ve shaken up the routine and opted for potato bake with sausages this evening. Now that vitally important piece of information has been imparted I can move on to sharing the activities of my rather innocuous day.

After yesterday’s painter invasion, my morning began after a dreamless night at my usual 9am. Within minutes of being up the routine was enacted; talk radio and internet until midday. But rather than meander around aimlessly, I decided to use my internet time for some good this morning. I discovered – and followed – a couple of new blogs (you can check them out here and here) and decided the time has come for some blog promotion. For the last eighteen months or so I haven’t done much in the way of promoting my blog. I don’t share my posts on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t Pinterest or Tumble. And my blog stats have been suffering as a result. I have a few stalwart commentators (and I love you all!) but outside of them I rarely, if ever, receive comments or likes on my posts; and I want to change that. So I’ve decided to start promoting my blog on three fronts:

1. I’m going to start Tweeting again. I used to enjoy Twitter when I was homeless as it gave me connections with other homeless people around the world, which in turn made me feel less isolated and remote. But after gaining my unit in 2012, I lost love for Twitter and let my account grow stale and unloved. But if the platform made me feel less isolated when I was homeless, maybe it can make me feel less isolated now. Plus I might make a few new Twitter friends, which would be nice. I haven’t Tweeted anything yet, but intend to re-embark on my Twitter quest in the next day or so. So feel free to follow me for random tweets of a mental health, homeless and random kinky bizarreness origin.

2. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve decided to challenge my fear of commenting on other people’s blogs. For the last several years, ever since rejoining the blogosphere in 2012, I’ve had a serious issue with commenting on other people’s blogs. A lot of this is as a result of the abusive relationship I was in, when my (lovely) abuser would punish me for sharing my opinions. She would scream at me like a banshee if I shared something she didn’t agree with. She would hurl glasses of water over my head in public venues if my thoughts were not the same as hers. And it created issues. Issues that have manifested in an inability to comment or share my opinion. But if I would like people to comment on my blogs, I have to be willing to comment on theirs. I’ve commented a few times over the last few days on blogs I feel are wonderful, unique and beautiful, and fully intend to comment more regularly from this point in time on. So expect some patented Addyness on your blogs in the near future! :p

3. I’ve set up a Facebook page for my blog and you can like it here, should you so desire. On it I will be sharing links to my various blog posts, random articles on mental health, homelessness and advocacy, updates on my life and the occasional inspiring photograph or quote. It should be quite fun, and a pleasant way to spend your Facebook time, so please (don’t make me beg!) at least think about liking it! :)

If any of you with more successful blogs than mine (which is pretty much everyone!) have any ideas or secrets in regards to blog promotion, please consider sharing them with my good self as I’m determined to grow my audience in the coming months. I think my content is unique, well written and (occasionally) entertaining; I just need to get other people to realise this!

After this unusually productive morning, I decided to continue shaking up my routine by shaving (I hate shaving, but hate being mistaken for a hipster with a beard more!) and doing a brief interlude of some yoga moves I picked up from classes several years ago. It was rather nice being all bendy again, so may consider adding this to my routine on a regular basis. Following these out of character endeavors, I continued my usual routine by walking down the road. But unlike the usual walk-down-the-road of my routine, I actually had something to do today; the second appointment with my new psychologist.

It went rather well. I was a little anxious heading into the appointment, given I’ve only met her once before, but she was able to settle my mood relatively quickly. She’s a lovely woman, kind, caring and able to listen well. When I’m speaking to her, she genuinely looks like she is taking in what I’m saying, instead of letting the words skim over her mind. She seems to have a solid understanding of my issues (PTSD, Bipolar and Social Anxiety) and understands the latter more than any other professional I’ve met.

Today we talked about my routine, the fact it’s become a safety net and my desire to shake up the monotony. We talked about the safety I feel at the library, and brainstormed ideas of how I can feel safer in locations other than the palace of all knowledge. We discussed my goals of being able to go to the cinema again and my desire to join a local book club in an effort to meet new people. Both goals are on the back-burner at the moment, as the initial plan is not to upset my routine so much it overwhelms me, but with her help I think both goals will be achievable in the future.

She is a knowledgeable, intelligent and insightful woman and I’m looking forward to working with her. I think she will bring a lot to my life and could well be the addition to my treatment strategy that I’ve been looking for. She’s certainly, on the strength of just two appointments, impressed me more than my old psychologist did across several months! I have another appointment with her in six weeks (the earliest I was able to book) and am already looking forward to it.

Because of this appointment I didn’t have time to watch a movie upon my return home, so this was another shake up to my routine today. Instead I went ‘live’ with my Facebook page (which, just in case you missed the link earlier, you can like here) and settled in to read some blogs before preparing dinner. The potato bake is cooking as I speak and once this post is completed, I will begin cooking the sausages that will accompany it. And it should go without saying that, for the first time in several days, I’m actually looking forward to dinner tonight. It should be scrumptious!

Wishing you all a wonderful day. Hopefully it has been as productive, routine challenging and (dare I say it) down-right enjoyable, as my own.

 


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Torturous small talk and tumultuous big talk

My anxiety was challenged quite profoundly this morning. Last Thursday I received a phone call from a painter that had been commissioned by my real estate agent to re-paint the ceilings of my unit. For the three years that I’ve been living here they’ve been mottled, peeling and flaking quite spectacularly due to there being no exhaust fan in the bathroom, so the hot water from the shower has been creating condensation that has slowly destroyed the paintwork on the ceilings. So they really needed to be done. The phone call I received was to inform me he’d be coming today; bright and early at 7:30am.

Normally I wake up around 9am. I don’t feel bad about this. I have depression, so I like being in bed, and I’ve suffered from insomnia in the past, so I like being able to sleep for a decent time again. But this morning my sleep pattern was interrupted by a shrill alarm at 7am, so I could get myself up in time for the painter. Three snoozes later and I finally hauled my lazy ass from bed minutes before he knocked loudly on my unit’s door. But waking up earlier than usual is not what challenged my anxiety.

What challenged my anxiety was this; I don’t do small talk. I’ve never liked small talk. For as long as I can remember I’ve considered it a major and profound form of torture. I like speaking when I have something to say. I like speaking when it’s important. When it’s life altering. When it’s necessary. I don’t like speaking in order to fill time. When you feel you should say something because it would be impolite to not say anything. And having a painter in the house, I found myself in the precarious position of making small talk.

Initially, it wasn’t too bad. We just didn’t say anything to each other. I fiddled with my computer, he set about doing the job he was paid to do. But after half an hour or so my anxiety was raging; it wanted me to talk, to fill the silence, to end the awkward silence in the room. I didn’t want to. I wanted to run away. I wanted to kick him out my house and paint the damn ceilings myself. Anything to get out of small talk. Anything to allow my day to return to the usual, boring, safety net of monotonous routine. But I couldn’t do any of that, because it would be impolite to do so, and I am anything but impolite. So I started the conversation with the only thing I could reasonable think to say: “so, it’s pretty cold today?”

This precipitated a dribble of conversation. Yes, it was cold. No, I didn’t mind. Yes, at least it’s not raining. My anxiety raged every time my mouth opened. Hating every syllable of the smallest of small talk we were mustering. Eventually we started commenting on the radio that was playing in the background. Eventually we started talking about things that weren’t meteorological in nature. But at no point did my anxiety wane. My pulse was racing. My palms were sweaty. I was smoking something rotten to calm the nerves. But the conversation continued in dribs and drabs all the same. It had to; it would be impolite not to talk to someone who was kindly donating their time to paint my ceilings.

All up it took nearly six hours for him to finish. My unit isn’t that big. But painting the ceilings of three different rooms with two coats of enamel paint takes time. When he finally left, with a quick thank you and goodbye, I collapsed onto the floor of my unit and breathed a sigh of relief. I had survived the torture that is small talk. I had survived the invasion of my privacy. And I had the pungent aroma of drying paint to soothe my troubled soul.

Other than this, my day has been somewhat uneventful and dare I say, boring. In order to ‘come down’ from my overly anxious morning I allowed the safety net of my routine to take over. I strolled down the road, visited the library, rented some DVDs and acquired my dinner from the local supermarket. Upon returning home I watched a movie double bill (Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings and Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines; because of the OCD like need that grips me until I have watched every film in a franchise, no matter how crap they may be!) before turning my attention to the internet, and replying to the comments that had been left on my blog. This too, caused my anxiety to ripple. I’ve never been good at commenting. Not on other people’s blogs. Not on my blog. But I have been pushing myself hard lately to comment more. I’ve been pushing myself to respond to every comment that is left. And I’ve been pushing myself hard to comment on other people’s hard worked-on blog posts. In a way, it was another minor victory in a day that had already seen one minor victory!

For those of you who wish to know (and who wouldn’t?) the war between Meadhbh and Vanessa hasn’t abated one iota since it kicked off last week. They are still at it. Still hurling taunts and abuse at each other. Still driving me insane with their incessant bickering and endless bogus capitulations. I’ve tried to explain to Meadhbh as clearly and concisely as possible how pointless it is to challenge Vanessa. How antagonizing her is just adding fuel to her fire. But she won’t listen. She won’t back down. She’s obsessed with getting Vanessa to stop her continual abuse of me and I don’t think anything I say is going to change that. Sure, their ongoing battles may see the end of what little sanity I have left, but at least I would be losing my sanity knowing that Meadhbh has my best interests at heart.

With all of this raging, my other voices, Shay and Audrey, have had little time to voice their own opinions of late. Shay piped up today at the sight of two women out exercising (he’s as misogynistic and annoying as always) whilst Audrey has remained relatively silent. I think she’s stepping back whilst Meadhbh and Vanessa go at it; determined not to interfere or take sides. It’s a little annoying. I miss Audrey. I miss her unique outlook on life and the various conversations we have on literature, culture and arts, her favourite topics. It got me thinking that I should organise a play-date with her; some time where it is just her and I, doing something she enjoys. We’ve done it several times in the past, and I’ve found it a useful tool to keep her on-side, to keep our relationship productive and civil rather than abusive and combative.

I know that my talking about voice-hearing may put some of you off my blog. It’s a hard subject to get your head around. And I’ve thought long and hard about not talking about my people or their actions, but whenever I do, I realise how important it is for me to talk about them. It helps destigmatise the voice hearing experience. It allows people to realise how commonplace this experience is. And that it is not something to fear or look down on. It is a perfectly acceptable experience. That’s why I talk about my voice hearing; that’s why I allow my voices access to my blog; that’s why I share my day-to-day interactions with you all. The more people who talk about it, the better. And from my own personal experience, there really aren’t that many bloggers talking about voice hearing. In fact, I know of only a handful of blogs that talk about voice-hearing, so any you’ve come across would be wonderful to hear about.

I’m feeling a lot less anxious after typing this post. The anxiety followed me today, after the gruesome forced small talk of this morning, bleeding into every action and activity I undertook. It’s nice to feel less anxious. To know that writing has the power to relax me again. Or maybe it’s the paint fumes that have relaxed me! ;) Either way I’m glad I won’t be entering this evening with heightened anxiety. I’ve had enough of it today. But it taught me a valuable lesson: however anxious you are, however debilitating you think something is going to be, it won’t last forever. You will survive. And live to fight another day.


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An epic battle involving horror movies and Bonnie Tyler!

Following on from Wednesday’s rather fraught day of voice activity, the last couple of days have been no better. In fact, when it comes to my people, there has been a battle raging in my head for the last forty-eight hours; and it’s exhausting! Meadhbh – in her infinite wisdom – has decided to take on the role of ‘protector’. It’s a role she has often undertaken over the last twenty-odd years, protecting me from everything from school yard bullies to the chaos anxiety inflicts on me, but over the last forty-eight hours her target has been Vanessa; and she’s refusing to give in.

You see, when it comes to my voices, they’re not only able to speak to me, but they can speak to each other. Sometimes this is vastly entertaining, like eavesdropping on a particularly naughty conversation, other times it can just be debilitating, as they valiantly attempt to gain my attention by speaking over each other. For the last forty-eight hours my attention has not been the goal. After the endless, onslaught of abuse on Wednesday, Meadhbh has taken it upon herself to defend me against the “pure evil that is Vanessa”. And she has decided to protect me by ceaselessly arguing with Vanessa, picking her up on every comment, every word and every syllable that she decides to voice. It’s been pretty deafening, this constant bickering, and only marginally entertaining. But it’s nice to know that I have at least one voice on my side; such has been the volume of Meadhbh’s defense.

According to Meadhbh Vanessa is the useless one, not me. According to Meadhbh, Vanessa is scum of the universe, a selfish, self-righteous, condescending bitch of the highest order. And she has said all of this to Vanessa over the last couple of days. And Vanessa’s reaction has been obvious. You see, when you antagonize an abuser all you are going to do is make everything worse. And Meadhbh doesn’t grasp this. So as Vanessa’s abuse grew louder and more toxic, Meadhbh’s defense of me had to become more prominent, and at a greater rate of decibels. The fight has been raging for two whole days now – neither one giving any ground, neither one any closer to being the ‘winner’. Personally, I think they’re both enjoying themselves too much. Meadhbh loves to talk, and if she thinks she’s on the side of right, there’s no stopping her. Meanwhile, Vanessa also loves to talk, and her narcissism means she is always right. So really, there will never be a winner in this argument. And the loser will always be me – because I’m the one who has to sit here and listen to the chaos hour after hour!

Meadhbh also got a trifle annoyed after I let Vanessa program the songs on Wednesday’s post. She wants to know why I didn’t let her choose the songs. She doesn’t understand that I was trying to placate Vanessa, that I was hoping allowing Vanessa the choice would lessen her abuse. This is why I’ve had to promise Meadhbh she can choose the songs today. To keep Meadhbh happy. Oh, for the life of a voice hearer; the constant daily battle to keep everyone happy, to keep everyone on side. It’s damned exhausting, it really is. Just once I’d like other people to be able to hear what I hear, what I have to put up with, then and only then would they realise how hard I work each day just to get even the most basic things done!

Anyhow, aside from the endless battle between Meadhbh and Vanessa, my day has been rather uneventful. I woke up after a dream about being trapped in a vat of liquid cheese and fell into my usual, boring, monotonous routine. I listened to talk radio, I walked down the road, I visited the library, rented some DVDs, purchased some spaghetti for dinner and then came home and watched two of the worst films I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through; Wrong Turn 2: Dead End and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead. Seriously, if you ever find yourself in a position of watching these films, find the nearest wooden spoon and gouge out your own eyes, it will be a lot less painful than sitting through this horror-stereotype laden tripe!

In fact, as I was forcing myself to watch such garbage, I began to wonder why the horror genre has more crap in it than any other. Sure, there’s a lot of dodgy comedies and thrillers out there, but there seems to be a dirge of atrocious horror movies. In fact, pretty much every horror movie that  is released is derivative nonsense. Sure, there is the occasional stand-out – The Descent springs to mind – but most is just boring, unfrightening wankery. The trouble is, when I’m depressed, I crave films that make me feel something and as laughter is thin on the ground when I’m depressed, I tend to seek out horror movies, hoping beyond hope that they give me a scare. They rarely do, and today’s Wrong Turn double feature, made me cringe more than startle. So I’m left wondering what horror film I should watch next; what horror movies have scared you? What horror movies have made you hide behind your sofa in pure terror? I genuinely want to know as I genuinely want to be scared by a movie again.

And the first person to say The Blair Witch Project gets a good spanking! :p There is nothing scary about The Blair Witch Project. Nothing.

Anyhow. Aside from the endless battle between Meadhbh and Vanessa, and my quest to find a truly terrifying horror film, I’ve actually felt quite proud of myself today. You may have noticed that yesterday saw me (finally) complete the 31 Days of Bipolar challenge. It’s the first blog challenge I’ve completed for quite some time, and am immensely proud that I saw it through to its conclusion, rather than give up halfway through as I’ve been known to do with blog challenges in the past. All in all, I had a good time writing the challenge. Some of the prompts were a little pedestrian and uninspiring, but the vast majority had me find the writing spark that I’ve sorely missed over the last several months. The only problem is that now it’s completed, what do I do? Am I seriously going to have to come up with my own post ideas again?! How annoying. I will actually have to think original thoughts and write them in a way that entertains, enlightens and amazes. That seems a little too difficult. Perhaps I’ll just find another challenge. Either way. You’re not taking my pride away from me this time! I’m over the moon I completed the challenge and have had a daffy grin on my face for most of the day because of it.

And after saying that, it appears this blog post has come to a sort of natural conclusion. Sure, I could force it to go on a little longer, come up with something random and pointless to extend the post by another 500 odd words, but I really don’t think I can be bothered today. I just kinda what Meadhbh and Vanessa to shut the hell up for five seconds as their war is starting to grate. Meadhbh has just fired off insult number 8907, which just made Vanessa laugh, which has made Meadhbh fire off insult 8908 in retaliation. Like I said. There’s no way either one is going to give up, so ultimately, I’m the loser.

Don’t forget to leave your horror movie recommendations in the comments section below. I’d love to know which one of you is going to suggest a movie that truly freaks me out! Hope you’re all having a wonderful day, whichever timezone you find yourself living in! :)

Note: As mentioned, today’s music has been chosen by she who is named Meadhbh. As if I would choose a Bonnie Tyler song! :p


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It’s hard for people to understand what it’s like to hear voices

Vanessa has been raging hard today. There’s barely been a minute that she hasn’t been assaulting me with her unique brand of vicious abuse. One moment I’m the most useless human being to have ever lived, the next, I’m the most pointless human being to have ever lived. I should kill myself. I should carve wanker, evil fiend and bumder into my flesh. I’m weak. Pathetic. Worthless. I’m insignificant. Mediocre. Wretched. On an on, over an over, her abuse has slowly been driving me to despair.

She gets like this from time to time. And when she is like this there is nothing I can do to counteract it. There’s no amount of ignoring, there’s no amount of distraction, that will make a difference. I just have to put up with her. I just have to listen to her. On and on, over and over, her relentless, unending abuse slowly driving me to complete insanity.

It’s hard for people to understand what it’s like to hear voices. It’s hard for people to grasp the endless, ongoing quest for a tiny scrap of peace. I have four people, four unique voices, four virtual human beings, talking to me twenty-four hours a day. They never stop. They never give up. They just keep endlessly prattling on, vying for attention, vying for prominence, vying for affection. And when they’re like this, it is devastating.

Deep down I know I’m not useless, I know I’m not worthless, weak, pathetic, mediocre or wretched. I know that I’m not an evil fiend. But when they’re like this. When Vanessa is this loud, this repetitive, I have to stop and question her validity. I have to question whether or not she is right, because it’s all I’m being told. Usually I have Meadhbh to help me fight her, usually I have Meadhbh on my side, but today, Vanessa has been too dominant. She has eclipsed all other voices and subjected me to an endless, ongoing stream of continuous, vicious, abuse.

It has affected everything I’ve done today. Listened to the radio; I can barely hear it she’s so loud. I went for a walk; but that only triggered her more. When I watched a movie; she just interrupted at every opportunity, unrelenting in her quest to destroy me, to make me question everything I believe about myself. Everything I’ve done, from housework to prattling about the unit, has been scored by this incessant, ongoing soundtrack of hateful words, abusive outbursts and vicious attacks. Even now, as I valiantly try to type these words, she keeps hurling insults in my general direction. Attacking everything from the way I type to the words I choose to use. Everything analysed. Everything critiqued. Not a moment missed to abuse me. It’s just who she is. It’s just what I have to put up with, day-in, day-out.

And it’s on days like these that make me hate my voices. That makes me want to medicate them into oblivion. It’s pointless to talk to Vanessa, to reason and rationalize with her, because she never gives any leeway, she never wants to stop abusing. Meadhbh is different. She is conducive to change. She listens to me. Takes into account how I’m feeling. She is able to communicate with me in ways that Vanessa isn’t. Vanessa just attacks. That’s all she does. Whenever she talks to me it’s just insult after attack after abuse after criticism. When Meadhbh talks to me it’s different. It’s a two-way conversation. That’s how I wish it was with Vanessa. I wish we were able to communicate, to move past the abuse, to have some form of dialogue and discussion. But she doesn’t want to. She chooses not to.

I know deep down that Vanessa is linked to my PTSD. She is, after all, the voice of my abuser. She speaks to me in the way my abuser used to speak to me. With that same condescending, superior tone. She believes she’s better than me, that she knows the real me; exactly as my abuser used to think. I know that when my PTSD is triggered, Vanessa is too. The two go hand in hand together. They live off each other. Grow stronger off each other. But there’s little I can do with this knowledge; there’s no answer, no easy option to sever the connection between the two. Either one of PTSD or Vanessa is bad enough, but both together is destructive, potentially mortally so. When Vanessa is in full swing, as she’s been today, it would be all too easy to slash my wrists on her command. Just to get her to shut up. Just to get that sliver of peace I so desire.

But I don’t. I don’t slash my wrists. I don’t carve words into my flesh. I just put up with her. I just try to get on with my day, to concentrate on the next activity, whilst listening to this endless stream of abusive content being hurled in my direction. If people knew what I put up with. If they knew what it was like to hear voices, how loud they can be, how ceaseless in their efforts to undermine me, they would be astounded. They would realise just how strong I am. But they don’t. Instead they look at me as if I’m mad, as if I’m insane. He hears voices, they say, he’s a fucking nutcase, they say. But I’m not. I just hear voices, an experience that 4-10% of the population share. It doesn’t make me insane; it just makes me human.

So with Vanessa being as prominent as she has been, my day has been wasted. All I’ve done is listen to her whilst trying to ignore her. The movie I watched slipped away from me, the radio has blathered to itself and my housework errands were given up on. It’s just been Vanessa and me today. The double act of abuser-victim; of victim-abuser. And it’s been exhausting. Hopefully tomorrow she will calm down. Hopefully tomorrow she will realise that this incessant critiquing of my life, of my being, is utterly pointless and will lead to nothing but ruin. But deep down I know that’s what she wants; to ruin me. To destroy me. So all I can hope for is that if it continues, if this repeats itself tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, I will be strong enough to counteract her commands. That I will find the strength to keep on fighting as best as I can.

Note: all songs featured in this post were chosen by Vanessa. My valiant attempt to placate her; to give me one moment of peace.


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In which I dream of unicorns and valiantly challenge my routine…

It’s been a strange old day today. I woke up earlier than usual after a series of disconcerting dreams. The first dream was one of my recurrent rape dreams; in which two old friends observe my rape and score my rapist out of ten for performance, pain inflicted and style. The second dream saw me ride a unicorn across a vast meadow of multicoloured flowers, valiantly trying to escape the clutches of an evil squadron of ferret-people. The third, and final, dream involved a bottle of whipped cream, a wooden spatula and two naked women; but the less said about that the better! ;)

After being rudely awakened from my whipped cream powered slumber I halfheartedly smoked my ‘just awakened’ cigarette before switching on the radio for my usual morning routine of talk radio and surfing the internet. It was at this point in time that I decided to try to shake things up for once. My routine – as I have written about previously – has become so ingrained it has begun taking on the effect of a safety net; that without my usual, boring, monotonous routine my brain would somehow implode. So I decided to do something different. Instead of tuning in to talk radio, I instead tuned into Triple JJJ, an FM based alternative music channel. At first it was altogether too much. I am so used to hearing the dulcet tones of Neil Mitchell (the talk radio host) that listening to music instead was deeply worrying. As the beats continued, my anxiety began to rise. My brain kept telling me I should be sticking to my routine; my heart kept telling me to leave the radio alone, that this attempt to shake up my routine had my best interests at heart. So I ignored my growing anxiety and listened to my heart. After a while (an hour or so) it wasn’t too bad. My anxiety was being lulled by the rhythm and melody that the radio was serenading me with. So I decided to continue my day in this vein; doing whatever I could to shake up my routine, although that didn’t involve logging off the internet, I’m not that insane. I need the internet to survive, it is, after all, one of the only connections I have with the outside world. So as the music lulled my thoughts I read various blogs, webpages and Facebook posts, planning the remainder of my day.

The routine is usually; talk radio until midday, then a shower, then a walk to the supermarket, followed by a movie and more talk radio before cooking dinner, watching another movie, then bed. In order to shake up my routine my first goal was simple; no shower today! As the clock ticked around to midday I found myself walking, almost zombie like, into the bathroom to begin running my shower. Only once the water had begun cascading did I remind myself that I was not to shower today. That today was to be ‘routine free’. So I turned off the shower and instead decided to watch a movie, as I was also foregoing my stroll to the supermarket that is so ingrained in my routine.

Two and a half hours later I switched the radio back on and kept the dial tuned to Triple JJJ; there was to be no talk radio today, under any and all circumstances. Around this time I realised how smelly I was after skipping my shower and decided that, as it was no longer midday, having a shower now would be outside of my usual routine so headed into the bathroom to make myself smell of limes; which is the scent of my shower gel. Following my shower I decided to do something vastly different to my usual routine, and settled down to read a book; Rough Justice, by Robin Bowles. Several chapters later, as Triple JJJ continued to serenade me with foreign music, I realised just how adventurous I was being. It may not sound it to you. Sitting there with your action packed lives. But for the last several months my days have been exactly the same. Precisely the same routine. Over and over. Every day exactly as the last. The same boring, monotonous routine. So reading a book in the middle of the day? That’s huge for me. And it was stunningly relaxing and altogether enjoyable.

By the time I finished reading I decided to begin preparing dinner. Normally my Friday meal is an omelet with cheese and capsicum. It has been for the last several weeks. Like I said. Precisely the same routine. The same boring, monotonous routine. So continuing my theme for the day I peeled some potatoes, sliced them up and whacked them in the oven to cook an amazing, cheesy potato bake. It’s cooking as I type, and the smell is delicious! There’s nothing better than potatoes. Once I’ve finished this (let’s be honest, rather inconsequential) blog post, I’ll be frying up some sausages to add a little protein to my meal and serving it with a side of broccoli, one of my favourite vegetables. Of course, I’ll be watching a movie with dinner, as I suffer from misophonia and can’t stand listening to people, including myself, eat. Plus, it’s a little hard to read whilst you’re eating and really boring sitting down at a table when you live on your own, with no-one to converse with.

But once dinner (and the movie) are done, I’ve decided to continue shaking up my routine by continuing to read my book in the hours leading up to bed. Like I said, it may not sound like much to you, but anything that shakes up the boring, monotonous routine of my life is a good thing, however silly and inconsequential my activities may sound.

Like I said, it’s been a strange old day today. A day that, unlike every other for the last several months, saw me deliberately trying to shake up my routine. Instead of allowing the safety net to catch me, I challenged my actions and allowed myself to do something different. Sure, they were little changes, like having my shower at a different time, reading instead of talk radio and altering my usual meal, but the path to good intentions starts with a single, small step. There’s no point trying to vastly change your actions with huge, sweeping gestures from the get-go. It’s always best to start small. Measure your footsteps. And not allow things to become too overwhelming. Altogether, although it may not sound like much to you, I’m immensely proud of what I’ve achieved today. I challenged my routine. I challenged my anxiety. And for once, came out on top. Yay me!


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Another day survived (aka The safety net of monotony)

Another day survived.

That’s what my life boils down to these days. I don’t live. I don’t even exist. I just survive.

My days are about surviving each minute that comes along, doing whatever it takes to not give up, to not give in, to not allow the natural progression of time to swallow me whole and spit me out a mucus covered globule of pointless waste. I wish my days were about more than this. I wish my days had point, had meaning, had relevance, but they don’t, ever. They’re just the same, monotonous continuation of time. I wake up at 9am, I haul myself out of bed, I listen to talk radio whilst surfing the internet, at midday I have a shower, then I walk down the road to the library and supermarket, then I walk home where I indulge in a movie before listening to talk radio whilst surfing the internet, then I cook dinner, watch another movie, retire to bed to read the latest installment of whatever true-crime book I’m reading, then I drift off to a fitful, nightmare laden sleep. Every day the same. Every day exactly as the last. No change in routine. No monumental moment. Nothing to write home about, nothing to write blog posts about, just the same, endless, monotonous routine, over and over, killing me slowly from within.

My life has become so much about routine that no matter what I do I can’t shake it. The routine has become my safety net. The routine has become my squishy, comfy, blankie. Without it I would probably implode, I would probably quiver and cave into an anxiety-laden, panic-stricken mess of pain and torment. In fact, the only times my routine is shaken is when I have a panic attack, and I have come to look forward to them. I have come to bridle with anticipation about having a panic attack, about having the world fall out from beneath my feet, because at least whilst it’s happening, at least while the panic is rocking me to the core, I am doing something different. My routine is being shaken. My safety net is being challenged. And I like it. What is wrong with me when I actually come to look forward to the panic? When I anticipate with baited, salivating breath, the inability to breath, the trembling of the limbs, the racing heart, the sweat glistening on my flesh as it rolls down my terrified face. What is wrong with me when I look forward to that? When a panic attack becomes the highlight of my week.

Today I had another session with my support worker. Fortunately it was not like the last. Fortunately there was no chaos or dissociation this time. Or should that be unfortunately there was no chaos or dissociation this time; after all, it would have broken up my routine had there been. No. Today we just chatted nonchalantly about a myriad of topics; ISIS, the fate of the Australian politician, libraries, the joys of DVD purchasing, anxiety, and the endless, monotonous routine that has become my life. It was suggested that I should do something to break up the routine. To interrupt the monotony with something new, something fresh, something unexpected. But the routine has become my safety net, without it, who knows what would happen, who knows what new level of hell I could descend to if it wasn’t present, if I wasn’t doing the same exact thing, day in and day out. And if I were to interrupt it, what do I interrupt it with? I have no money to go anywhere. I have no money to do anything. And in this small, isolated town in which I live, there is nothing to do without money. Aside from the library, and I go there every day, it’s part of the routine. Part of the safety net.

I want to go to Melbourne. No. I crave to go to Melbourne. I’ve wanted to go for months, for over a year, but being on the disability pension I can’t afford it. Can’t scrape together the $700 I need to spend a week in the capital of Victoria. I don’t want to do much there. Just explore the galleries, gaze at the fishes in the aquarium and wander the alleys and streets of the city that used to be my home. I want to go there to break up the routine. To break up the monotony. To challenge my safety net with something new, yet something safe, all at the same time. But where to get the money from? How to fund the trip when I can’t save anything because I live beneath the poverty line, unable to afford clothing, let alone a trip to the Paris of the South, a trip to my home in Australia. And that’s the other reason I want to go to Melbourne. Maybe it will help with my decision. My ongoing unsureity about whether to remain in Australia or return to the UK. A decision that I need to make sometime this year. A decision that I can’t make whilst my life is just an endless procession of the same activities, the same time-wasting routine, day-in, day-out.

So yeah, another day survived.

That’s what my life boils down to these days. I don’t live. I don’t even exist. I just survive.

And I have no idea what to do to change it. I have no idea how to cease my safety net, and start living again.

Any ideas?