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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Flashbacks, heat and unexpected problems (oh my!)

Once again I find myself on hiatus from my blog and once again it hasn’t been entirely self-imposed. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing severe internet connectivity issues, which may not seem such a huge ordeal to some, but the internet is one of my primary coping mechanisms, and often the only outlet I have to the outside world, so when I can’t connect, my stress levels rise and I become more vulnerable to life’s negative emotions.

Normally I’d like to think I’d be able to handle this, but it seems that once again January is becoming a problem month. Last year, I spent the month wrestling with alcohol consumption, this year, I’m spending it locked in a battle with flashbacks. In fact, things became so bad last weekend that Sunday was lost to endlessly replaying the events of emotionally abusive relationships, homelessness and seemingly innocuous moments shared with long-gone friends.

No matter how hard I’ve tried, no matter what exercises I’ve practised, I’ve been unable to ground myself in the present. So much so that focusing on anything other than what my mind is forcing me to relive has been nigh-on impossible. I’ve been unable to watch movies with any clarity, I’ve been spending more and more time locked away in my unit and no matter how much I want to, I just can’t find the words to assemble the posts I crave to write.

Hindering all of the above has been the incessant heat of the Australian summer. Today was the fourth day over 40 degrees, and by all accounts there are going to be at least three or four more before there is even the slightest hint of a cool change. I’ve never been a fan of the heat, in fact I downright hate it! I hate being sticky, I hate sweating like a weird little sweat monster and I hate how the heat brings out the worst in my body-image issues. During summer I despise myself more than usual, so much so that this self-hatred  – considering my inability to wear shorts, go swimming or even shower without clothes on –  makes it impossible to cool down.

Unfortunately that brief moment where I believed 2014 will be the ‘best year ever’ has long since passed. The last sixteen days have been incredibly stressful and difficult to navigate and I’m sorely looking forward to February so I can banish January into the annuls of history and start the year afresh.

However, I’ve remained true to my resolution and have not drunk a single soft drink all month, which – when you consider all the flashbacks, heat and unexpected problems – is quite an achievement! :)


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Teaser Tuesday (December 03)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation
by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele and Onno Van Der Hart

copingwithtraumarelateddissociation

My teaser this week comes from a book I acquired at the World Hearing Voices Congress. Following a fascinating (and inspiring) panel on the topic of dissociation and parts of self, I decided that this book could help fill in some of the missing pieces of my life (notably, the various periods of ‘lost time’ that I’ve experienced) and help me work more closely with my various parts. As I work through the book, I will endeavor to share my learnings with you all! :)

◊~~~◊~~~◊

So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


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Days 08 & 09: All of life’s most important events

After careful consideration, I have decided to join day’s eight and nine of the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge into one post. The prompts ask what age were you diagnosed/at what age do you think your symptoms began and what are some of the important events in your life that may have effected your mental illness(es) for the worse or better.

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled Your Life As You Remember It, which was a chronological timeline of my life; all of the ups, all of the downs and all of the important developmental stages of each of my mental illnesses. It is a fairly comprehensive post that, if you haven’t already read, you should do so if you’d like to get to know me more!

Shortly afterwards, as part of the Mi Recovery course I undertook, I had to draw a timeline of my life’s major events. These hand drawn images were originally posted here, but I’ve decided to repost them today for a number of reasons.

Firstly, they fit perfectly with the prompts for days eight and nine. Secondly, when they were originally posted I reduced their size significantly, so much so that it was impossible to read the hand written text explaining each stage; an error that I have corrected today.

And thirdly, because I’m rather proud of my timeline (especially page 04!) and will take any excuse to showcase it! :p

Title Page | © Addy

Title Page | © Addy

Page 01 | © Addy

Page 01 | © Addy

Page 02 | © Addy

Page 02 | © Addy

Page 03 | © Addy

Page 03 | © Addy

Page 04 | © Addy

Page 04 | © Addy

Page 05 | © Addy

Page 05 | © Addy

Notes
~ Clicking each image will enlarge the photo ~
~ Apologies for the slightly dodgy artwork and photo quality ~
~ Please note that some of the handwritten text has been digitally removed to protect identities ~


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Ruminations on confronting an emotional trigger

To say I’m still lost to the negative emotions that have been circling me of late would be an understatement. Living in a perpetual state of heightened anxiety is an exhausting place to be. It has already cost me hope and is draining me of what little energy, focus and concentration remains. However, this blog has always been a place of solace and therapy, so where better to try to make sense of a monumental moment of my life (and dent my current writer’s block) than here?

This post was written as a stream of consciousness on Sunday 5 May 2013, between 15:32-16:04. Apologies for any spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and confused rambling that may occur; they’re all part and parcel of streams of consciousness.

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~Humiliation

For the better part of twenty-five years, when confronted with a trigger, my gut reaction has always been to run. Whether it be out of the room, out of my place of employment or even, on some occasions, out of the county. I will do whatever it takes to remove any possible chance of encountering that trigger again. I will avoid songs, movies, streets, shops, suburbs, people and cities – regardless of the detrimental effect this will have on my life. After all, half a decade of isolation has fine-tuned my survival instinct into a brutal, instinctual beast.

However, a few weeks ago, for the first time ever, I confronted a trigger head-on.

I sat in a room with the person who has been triggering me and told them that they were triggering me.

Everyone – from support workers to family to Meadhbh – have been telling me it was a massive achievement; something that I should be proud of, something that I should see as a turning point in the way I approach the trauma and anxiety that has ruled my life for so long.

But I felt nothing but shame, shit and utter abject humiliation. So much so that last weekend I submitted to that brutal beast and left my home with the intent to return to a homeless life far from the town that has been my home for the last eighteen months-ish. So much so that I have taken to spontaneously bursting into tears purely to release the tension within me. So much so that in the last three weeks I’ve had only half a dozen conversations as I resume a state of protective hibernation.

Everywhere I’ve been, everywhere I’ve cycled, every occasion I’ve found myself in has seen me staring rigidly at the ground, never once looking at the world around me for fear people will see me for the wretched creature I believe I am. My cheeks have burned red with blushing embarrassment, my silence – even more than usual – has been deafening and my mind lost to the demons of self-hate, negativity and near constant (irrational) criticism.

But every time I’ve been asked why I’ve felt so humiliated – I’ve not been able to rationally explain it. Not once.

Perhaps because I was admitting a weakness to someone I look up to admire. Perhaps because it proved my inferiority in comparison to the rest of the world. Perhaps because I’m just a worthless piece of shit destined to feel nothing but negative emotions.

Or, as Meadhbh put it, “perhaps it’s easier to wallow in humiliation rather than bathe in the stunningly kick ass awesomeness of Addy!” (She’s a smart one, that Meadhbh!)

~Repetition

Throughout my abusive relationship whenever I showed a glimmer of strength it wasn’t long before my abuser upped-the-metaphorical-stick to beat me back down. She had to, as it’s much easier to control someone who is vulnerable than someone who is showing signs of kick ass awesomeness!

I was conditioned to appease; to say only the things she wanted to hear, to do the things she wanted to do, to share the opinions that she wanted to hear. Any sign of weakness, any sign of individuality, any moment of awesomeness, would lead to abusive tantrums, vicious insults and public humiliation; all to keep me vulnerable and her in control.

As I sat in that room with my trigger only a few feet away, I wasn’t appeasing the situation, I wasn’t doing what (my abuser) would have wanted me to do, I was being the kick ass awesome Addy that only Meadhbh seems to be able to see. I stood up to emotions that – only a couple of weeks earlier – had left me vomiting and bawling on the floor of a public toilet.

Yet, rather than applaud this show of strength, my mind reverted to the mindset of how my abuser would have made me feel. In essence I (in conjunction with Vanessa, the voice of my abuser) ensured I was punished for this (in her words) “outrageous display”.

~Flagellation

So, as Vanessa yelled, screamed, tormented and abused, I succumbed to a flagellating state. Not physically, but mentally lashing my soul with a cat o’ nine tails. How dare I believe I could be so strong! How dare I possess such strength! How dare I demonstrate such a determination to be someone other than a repulsive piece of shit!

Cue the focus on shame. On humiliation. On the tears, cycle of self-hate and irrational decisions to appease she who must always be in control.

Cue the depersonalization. The dissociation. The removal of my self from mind, body and soul as a means of protection against such powerful pain.

Cue the self harm. The self-medication. The repetitious acts I’ve become so accustomed to perform in a valiant effort to reconnect the shattered remnants of my mind.

Cue never once realising that the only reason my abuser, my voices and my traumatized self act like this is because we are scared.

Morbidly terrified of losing control over someone they can see is growing in strength, stature and confidence.

~Amelioration

A few weeks ago, for the first time ever, I confronted a trigger head-on.

I sat in a room with the person who has been triggering me and told them that they were triggering me.

Everyone – from support workers to family to Meadhbh – have been telling me it was a massive achievement; something that I should be proud of, something that I should see as a turning point in the way I approach the trauma and anxiety that has ruled my life for so long.

And they’re right. I know that. I don’t believe it yet, but I know that they are.

Everyone has triggers, not just people who deal daily with mental ill-health and trauma, but everyone.

Confronting a trigger in the manner that I did three weeks ago is something not everyone could do. To put yourself in such a dangerous position, such a vulnerable and humiliating position, is something most people (myself included) would run from. But I didn’t. I may have blushed, I may have looked everywhere in the room but eyes, I may have felt nauseous from fear and humiliated beyond belief. I may have forgotten every goddamn thing that was said after admitting what was happening!

But I still did it.

I still took the first step on the path toward finding more productive ways of dealing with triggers than doing Monty Python and the Holy Grail impressions.

Later this week I will be meeting my support worker to review some of the ideas that were discussed that day (I am being completely honest when I say I can’t remember any of it! Hence, dissociation!) and perhaps from that – and my Biopsychosocial Personal Treatment Plan ideas – something can be implemented to re-empower myself against this particular trigger.

In time, I’m sure I will begin to believe the kick ass awesomeness of Addy.

Until then, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to feel; regardless whether those emotions are positive, negative or somewhere in between.

fdfdb8b55728d8649dec18a01ca8e43b69


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Addy and the Day of Pure Evil

Something many people have problems with are anniversaries.

Not the happy, fuzzy-bunny-feeling filled anniversaries of marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences, but the miserable, hell-would-hurt-less filled anniversaries of deaths, traumatic experiences and (I suppose in some cases) marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences.

Amongst the plethora of ‘bad memory’ days that fill my year (e.g. the day I became homeless, the day of that psychiatrist appointment, the day my sister attempted suicide) there are four dates in particular that are excruciating for me;

  • October 11 (the anniversary of a suicide attempt, aka the day I should have died)
  • July XX (the anniversary of when I was assaulted, aka the day I wanted to die)
  • May 7 (the anniversary of another suicide attempt and the anniversary of Stephanie’s suicide, aka the day I nearly died and the day a friend did)
  • February 26 (the anniversary of the beginning of my breakdown, aka the beginning of the end).

The most astute of you, my dear readers, will have noticed that three days ago was one of these dates.

So if you’re itching to know what calamities (if any) befell me, read on! :p

very bad day

Seven out of Ten (3am-4am)

The day began as most of my days do; being woken from a fitful sleep by a vicious nightmare. On this occasion it was a recurring dream that has been haunting my sleep for several years.

In this dream I am being attacked by the man who assaulted me in Adelaide. We are in the same motel room, we are wearing the same clothes, we are basically reliving the events of that traumatic night. The only difference is Grace and Kathy are sitting on the bed watching the events unfold. Sometimes they are munching on popcorn; sometimes they are sipping glasses of champagne. Other times they are sharing a box of chocolates or recording the events on a video camera. What they always do is ‘score’ the assault upon its completion; a simple ‘out of ten’ rating of the pain inflicted on me.

The scores change from dream to dream but some things remain constant; Kathy always scores less than Grace, they always write their scores using my blood and they rarely give anything more than an eight. Even if he amputates multiple limbs or flagellates me with a strip of barbed wire, the pain he inflicts on me is never ‘good enough’ for the audience.

As per usual when this dream disturbs my sleep, I woke up startled, screaming and gasping for air.

Unlike usual, I woke up with someone else lying in my bed.

Stop peeking, pervert! (4am-5am)

Vanessa knows that this day is her day. For the last five years she has relished in it, using my ‘vulnerability’ to increase her presence both audibly and visually. When I woke up on Tuesday morning she was lying on her side staring at me.

VANESSA: That dream again?
ME: What the fuck do you want?
VANESSA: Your soul, idiot. Did you have that dream again?
ME: You know I did.
VANESSA: Tell me about it.

So I did, just to shut her up, but the problem with Vanessa is that no matter how much information you give her, it’s never enough. After nearly fifteen minutes of interrogation – erasing any hope I would get back to sleep – I began rearranging my blanket so I could make myself more comfortable.

VANESSA: What the fuck? Don’t you dare.
ME: It’s my blanket!
VANESSA: But I’m naked under here.
ME: So? I’ve seen it all before.
VANESSA: But I don’t want you seeing it now. Have some decency, dickhead!
ME: If you don’t want me seeing you naked, why are you naked?
VANESSA: Because I don’t want you seeing me naked, moron!

From there she bombarded me with questions, comments, observations, insults and hopes for the day ahead, including: “It would be beautiful if you sliced your arm open today”, “Please tell me you’re going to kill yourself today” and “But meltdown first, you know, one of those panic attacks that leaves you a cowering, dribbling fetus. Preferably in public!”

This continued until Audrey woke up and demanded I ‘get my lazy ass out of bed!’.

It was 5am – not exactly the greatest start to the day!

When distractions aren’t distracting! (5am-1pm)

In my recent post about coping skills, I mentioned that ‘distraction’ was my primary method of coping with emotional distress. Whether this is whacking on a DVD, reading my favorite websites or blogs, listening to music, playing Scrabble on the DS, completing jigsaws or just writing blog posts, sooner or later I will become engrossed in my chosen activity and forget about the chaos that drove me there.

On Tuesday, this forgetting didn’t happen. In fact, my mind was so focused on the events of 26 February 2007 that nothing I did provided any relief from the bad memories or consistent badgering from Vanessa. I wasn’t intelligent enough to read Conversation articles, I was too childish for playing on the DS, I was too old to complete jigsaws, I was too untalented and boring to blog. No matter what I tried to do, she slipped in and tore me to shreds, leaving me sitting on the carpet staring at the wall wondering whether I should drink, self-harm or commit suicide. Perhaps all three!

By mid-morning my day was already shaping up to be worse than last years…unless I took affirmative action.

VANESSA (as I grabbed my bike helmet): Where the fuck do you think you’re going?
ME: Out.
VANESSA: But it’s my day.
ME: Not anymore!

‘Distraction’ is worth 14 – or 64 if you use all seven tiles – in Scrabble (1pm-3:30pm)

For the second week in a row I was the only person at the Scrabble group I attend. Vanessa was quick to point out this was because no-one liked me and couldn’t stand being around me. I was quick to tell her to piss-off because she was seriously starting to get on my tits!

I’d originally told the organisation that runs these groups that I wouldn’t be at Scrabble, that I thought I was going to be hiding away as I usually do on these hell-would-hurt-less anniversaries. But as none of my distraction techniques had worked and my self-harm urges had increased I needed to do something to pull my mind from Vanessa and the memories.

For two hours I played Scrabble against the group leader. With Vanessa blathering in my ear it’s no surprise that I made several tactical errors early in the game, all of which amounted to me failing to reach 400 points (I ended with 387) and sending my mind into a tailspin of negative thinking about how useless I was at Scrabble (totally untrue!) Vanessa relished in this thinking and used it to fuel further abuse as I walked around town following the match.

To put the frustration (and annoyance) of this cycle of self-hate into perspective; I had won the game by over a hundred and fifty points and been able to play a seven-letter word during the match – not too shabby, all things considered!

coopers

Coopers and Comfort (3:30pm-7pm)

Within thirty minutes of leaving Scrabble, the cycle of self-criticism I’d become locked in over my failure to reach 400 points, coupled with Vanessa’s constant presence drove me to a local bar. However ashamed I am to admit breaking my three-week plus sobriety, I sat with Vanessa in the corner of the bar and drank through a couple of bottles of my favourite beer; Coopers Pale Ale.

Following this, the shame continued, as I moseyed around town purchasing things willy-nilly in a rare ‘retail therapy/comfort buying’ binge.

After sixty-two minutes I’d spent $112 and become the (not so) proud owner of:

  • A (fourth hand) Wii with seven (fourth hand) games.
  • A hairbrush.
  • Two bottles of white wine.
  • Michael Ondjatte’s XXXXX
  • A block of Rolo chocolate
  • Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (seasons one and two)
  • A bag of Kettle Honey Baked Ham potato chips (my second favorite flavor of chips)

The sheer number of carrier bags I had weighing me down, coupled with Vanessa sitting on my handlebars (what is it with hallucinations deciding to ride on my bike?), led to my cycle home becoming a carefully orchestrated balancing act!

Seriously…filthy…mind…! (7pm-9pm)

Pretty much the moment I got home I cracked open one of the bottles of wine and threw myself onto the couch to slurp it straight from the bottle. By the time I’d drunk half the bottle I’d connected up the Wii and whacked on Lego Batman (one of the seven games I’d got, the others being: Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Metroid: Other M, Link’s Crossbow Training, Mario Kart and EA’s Grand Slam Tennis).

After two levels I had to stop playing; not because I was drunk, not because I wasn’t enjoying myself, not because I felt bad about buying the Wii, but because Audrey was freaking me out with her seriously filthy mind and all the things she wanted Lego Batman to do to her!

I can’t really go into them without password protecting the post, so just think Fifty Shades of Grey meets Harry Potter meets Twin Peaks meets (JG Ballard’s) Crash meets Batman (where does he get those wonderful toys?).

Even I don’t have that dirty a mind…and that’s saying something! :P

The Book of Pure Evil (9pm-11pm)

By this point I’d finished one bottle of wine and was feeling relatively tipsy. I’d lost the ability to focus on the Wii and was being driven nuts by Vanessa’s constant bullshit; so I cooked some coconut rice with tofu and vegetables then whacked on the DVD I’d purchased.

For those of you not in the know, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is a Canadian comedy-horror TV show that centers on a disparate group of High School students who band together to take on the bloody consequences of the Book of Pure Evil.

Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer; only with a miniscule budget, more blood and a deliciously warped sense of humour!

I don’t know whether it was the strange mood I was in, the alcohol I had consumed or the junk food I was pigging out on, but after half a dozen episodes I was loving the show. Audrey and Vanessa, not so much! Where they thought the acting was “squirmily bad”, the writing “a rip-off of the far superior Buffy” and the humour “totally unfunny, much like everything Canada produces”; I thought the acting improved with each episode, the writing showed moments of inspired genius and the humor was laugh-out loud brilliant on many occasions.

VANESSA: I don’t like it when you laugh on my day.
ME: Do I look like a give a fuck?

todd and the book of pure evil

Threesome (11pm-12am)

It’s unusual for me to head to bed so early but my desire for this day to be over was overwhelming. By eleven ‘o’ clock I was lying in the middle of my bed with Vanessa to my left and Audrey to the right.

And yes, I get the symbolism behind the positioning; whenever Vanessa and Audrey are around they will adopt these positions.

AUDREY: And I could…[censored (trust me, you don’t want to know!)]…and then he would…[censored]…then around that point he’d…[censored]
ME: Wouldn’t you rather fantasize about Christian Bale?
VANESSA: Or Adam West?
ME: Can I fantasize about Anne Hathaway?
VANESSA (singing): There was a time when men were kind…
AUDREY: And when he puts that…[censored]…in my most…[censored]
VANESSA (still singing): …when their voices were soft, and their words inviting..
ME: What do I have to do to get you two to go to sleep?

Perhaps it was the emotional exhaustion, perhaps it was because sleeping with someone is nicer than sleeping alone or perhaps it was the alcohol I’d consumed, but I fell asleep soon after – despite the constant singing/babbling that was occurring around me.

Silence (3am-4am)

Following another recurring nightmare (where I painfully melt into a bubbling pool of blood) I woke up in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t notice at first, but neither Audrey nor Vanessa were present.

The silence was beautiful! :)

Coda

Many of you may look at this day as a failure. I blew my budget on un-necessary crap, broke my three-week long sobriety and spent (virtually) the entire day communicating with visual/audible hallucinations.

But I see things differently.

Direct transcript from my Mood Journal, 26 February 2012:

4:12am
Had that dream again. The one where Grace and Kathy watch as the Adelaidian does whatever he wants to me. The one where they score him out of ten for pain inflicted. Tonight they were both disappointed, Grace gave him 7, Kathy only 5. They want him to work harder next time. No wonder I always wake up screaming and caked in sweat. What the fuck will the neighbours think?

2:56pm
Should be in a great mood today given that I’ve just moved into my own place after years of homelessness, but I’m really not. So I’m self-harming again. Not unsurprising given what today is the anniversary of. Just binged on copious amounts of junk food and alcohol. Feel fat, grotesque, worthless, disgusting and repulsive. Just want to curl up in a ball and die.

9:14pm
Vanessa thinks I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. Nay, she knows I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. She’s not wrong. What was it Kathy said? That I will always be alone. That I deserve to always be alone. They were right, all of them, every word they said. Vanessa told me to slit my wrists. Maybe I should.

10:12pm
Can’t focus. Can’t think. Can’t concentrate. Can’t sleep. Want to die. I have a bed. So why am I still sleeping on the floor? Oh yeah, it’s all I deserve.

11:42pm
Pished. Nearly over.

12:03am
Over. Thank fuck.

  • Today I ate: four toblerones, one bag of jelly babies, quarterpounder w/chips, pizza, potato chips (BBQ flavour)
  • Today I drank: three bottles of white wine, one bottle of red wine, six cans of beer, two WKDs.
  • Anxiety/Panic attacks: 7am, 10:30am, 12:12pm, 4:30pm, 7:22pm.
  • Time spent outside the house: Didn’t leave the house

midnaSure, my voices had a greater presence than last year and I spent way more money…but…I had fewer panic/anxiety attacks, I was aware my coping techniques weren’t working so took alternative action, I left the house, I socialized, I cooked a healthy meal, I slept in my bed, I ‘stood up to’ Vanessa on multiple occasions and didn’t self-harm once.

Yes, I brought a Wii (so 2008!)…but, in the spirit of trying to improve my self-love…I brought a Wii! Methinks that Lego Batman, two Zelda adventures and Mario Kart may prove useful weapons in my increasing arsenal of coping strategies. Especially when all I need to do to stop Audrey criticizing and abusing is to whack on a single game and let her fantasies roam free! :p

All things considered, I’m quite proud of myself this year! :)

 


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Coping Skills: The Negative Thought Challenge

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

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

negative thoughts 1

Part I: My negative thoughts…

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

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

Part II: Why they may not be true…

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

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

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

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

But, in the spirit of the challenge…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

negative thinking 2

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

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

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

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

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

Part IV: Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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