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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Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 07: The Day Out

The seventh day in the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge (devised by Bold Kevin over on Voices of Glass) asks: If you could be taken any place fairly local for a day, where would you choose, who would you choose to go with, what would you like to do and why those choices?

Woolshed Falls

woolshed falls

Woolshed Falls, Australia (allegedly!)

These waterfalls have taken on mythological status over the last eighteen months. Almost every week someone speaks of these waterfalls in a voice usually reserved for revealing the location of the Holy Grail (or at the least, Castle Anthrax), so much so, that I have begun to question whether or not they actually exist.

Sure, I’ve seen photographs of them – or rather, photographs that purport to depict Woolshed Falls – but have yet to lay eyes on them myself. Thus, if I were to go on a day out, I wouldn’t hesitate in choosing these falls as my destination; partly to prove (or disprove) their existence, partly because my people and I adore waterfalls of all shapes and sizes and partly because I would much rather a day out in the open air, than a day out in some stuffy shopping center or amusement arcade, which are the only other options in my locale.

Obviously, there are many people I can think of taking to Woolshed Falls; Karen Gillan or Jenna Coleman, for example. And if I were to take either of these people, I can think of a few things I’d like to do whilst there; kissing or sexy underwater cuddling, for example. But as it’s highly unlikely I will have the opportunity to underwater cuddle either of these actresses I shall have to be more realistic in my choice of companion.

Thus, my companion of choice would be my support worker, for a variety of reasons.

Given that the falls are (allegedly) 40km-ish from where I live, I would need someone to drive me. Also, their approach to life is both intelligent (for interesting conversation) and fun-loving (a pre-requisite for a day out). In addition to this, my people are comfortable in their company so there wouldn’t be any problems if I suddenly began conversing with thin air and, for safety reasons, their mental health training would come in handy if I had a random panic attack or felt the sudden urge to hurl myself from the top of the falls.

They also have a love of photography, which segues nicely into my answer to the ‘what would you do’ portion of the prompt. For I can think of nothing more relaxing, therapeutic and enjoyable than wiling away a few hours hiking in and around the Australian Bush taking random photographs of waterfalls, eucalypt trees and insomniac wombats.

Should I ever get the chance to take these photographs – and in the process, prove the existence of this mythological place – I shall let you know. Until then, it will be added to my list of things to do before I die; for any place as highly spoken of as Woolshed Falls is definitely worth a visit.


If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 | Day 06 |


Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 06: The Support Group

This is the sixth day in my sporadic interpretation of the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge devised by Bold Kevin over on Voices of Glass.

Today, the prompt asks us “If you could start a support group specific to your mental illness what would it do, what activities, what purpose etc and what would you call it?”

So, my response was to create a fictional newsletter (and I stress the word fictional) for a support group aimed at people who suffer from social anxiety disorder.

Who are we-page-001 Who are we-page-002(1)

– Click either image to enlarge –


If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 |

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Through My Eyes: A letter to my younger self

Way back in May of this year, before my untimely relapse, I began working through a blog challenge devised by Bold Kevin over on Voices of Glass. His Try Looking At It Through My Eyes challenge is one of the only ones I know that focuses on mental health and each prompt is thought-provoking, challenging and fun.

Thus, now that I am blogging again, I’d like to pick up where I left off with the fifth day of the challenge: Write a letter to your younger self telling them the things you think they will need to know about when they are diagnosed with your condition.

~ A(nother) letter to my younger self ~


Note: whenever I write unsent letters on my blog I do so as a stream of consciousness because, c’mon, who edits letters that they send to people!? Thus, this post was written between 16:28 and 16:52 on the 22 August 2013. Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors contained within, for they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

22 August 2013

Dear Addy,

If the delivery-company I’ve decided to employ does their job correctly, you’ve just had this letter hand delivered to you by a rain-soaked courier. I’m sure you get the reference. What you probably didn’t understand was why the courier was rain-soaked considering it’s a rather fine and balmy evening where you are…well, in a valiant effort to kick-start this letter with a smile I instructed the company to pour a bucket of cold water over the individual moments prior to approaching you. The way I see it, if you’re gonna go with a pop-culture reference, you may as well do it properly.

Anyway, now we’ve got that wee explanation out the way, let’s get down to business shall we. In order to prove my credentials (that I am in fact you from the future…again!) I shall now tell you exactly what you’re doing: you are currently sitting on the East Beach in Port Fairy, a small knife in your trembling right hand, a mobile phone in your left. You’ve just read a text message about insects and are beginning to question your decision to end your life tonight. Am I right?

Of course I am.

I’m you, remember.

Now, put that fucking knife down you imbecilic moron and pay attention to me for a moment. What you do afterwards has no bearing on me whatsoever, just so long as you listen to what I have to say.

A little over eighteen months from now you are going to be diagnosed with an illness called Bipolar Affective Disorder. This diagnosis is going to turn your life upside down and I’m here to prepare you so the transition is as painless as humanly possible.

Now, I know you’re familiar with the term bipolar, but I’m going to start with the basics…okay? Good. From here-on-in I shall be referring to bipolar as manic depression. Why? Well, contrary to the PC do-gooders, you will come to realize that you much prefer the phrase Manic Depression to describe what you suffer from. Unlike Bipolar, it is far more descriptive of the illness and will one-day resonate with you far more than Bipolar ever will.

The reason for this is that many people (namely arsehole psychiatrists) will stick permanent labels on you with their trusty DSM approved label makers, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. It will take you many – many – years after that first psychiatrist to realize that you and only you can decide what label (if any) applies to you…so you may as well learn that lesson now.

Got it?


Now, Bipolar Affective Disorder is a mental illness in the ‘mood disorder’ classification of illnesses; which means that your moods are – for want of a better term – fucked. This deep suicidal depression you’ve just slipped into courtesy of Louise’s betrayal, your ludicrous workaholic mentality and years of untreated mental health problems is part of the bipolar cycle. Soon enough (I won’t tell you when as it will take all the fun out of it) you’re gonna experience something called mania. You’ve been there before, without realizing it, but when you experience it next it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever experienced in your life. To whet your appetite, imagine yourself as an immortal God where nothing you do, say, think or feel is wrong; where you are the most perfect individual to have ever existed and everyone (regardless of how cute and untouchable their posterior) thinks you are the bees-knees.

(Note to self – when you come to write this letter, please find a better phrase than ‘the bees-knees’!)

Of course, this is all bollocks. You are not an immortal God and regardless of how you perceive yourself during these periods, you are actually acting like a major twat. You just don’t realize it. Of course, nothing I do or so will stop you during these periods so…what the hey…go with it! Just enjoy it, because soon enough these depressive thoughts will creep back in and life will turn to hell in a hand basket once more.

That’s the nature of Manic Depression. This endless cycle between mania, depression and (what everyone forgets about) all the shit in between!

I won’t bore you with all the details, but there are gonna be days where you go from walking on rainbows one minute to frying in the depths of hell the next. There are going to be weeks where you believe that you can save the universe by hanging yourself. There will be days that erase themselves from your memory and months that you will never again be able to remember.

It’s a bastard, Manic Depression, and you’re gonna hate the crap out of it for destroying your life.

But what I need you to understand – what I need you to remember – is that it isn’t all shit.

Sure; there’s gonna be a crap-load of medication that will leave you zombified, more self-harm than you can possibly imagine, people (friends!) fleeing your life faster than you think possible and an entire society turning against you because you dared suffer from an illness that you have no control over.

But…your creativity will (as it always has) blossom. You will take some of the most beautiful photographs in the world, paint some of the most random (and obscure) images ever known to humankind and write like some possessed demon on steroids, churning out page after page of the most detailed, random, gut-wrenchingly honest collection of letters known to blogging kind.

Because of your illness you will meet some of the most beautiful souls that you will ever know. People who will put a smile on your face with one word in an email, people who (for the first time in your life) understand you completely and – even if you find this hard to believe right now – never judge you, not even for that!

You will blossom, Andrew, because of your diagnosis – but only if you let it.

So let it.

Once you get through all the confusion, pain, agony, torment, loneliness and social hate.

Once you get through all the labels, meds, misdiagnoses, re-diagnoses and psychiatric bullshit.

Once you stop getting hung up on a word and start getting hung up on yourself, you’ll not give two shits about being diagnosed bipolar because – even when the entire world disagrees, which it will at times – it’s just another small stitch in the multi-coloured tapestry that is you.

And everyone who doesn’t see that isn’t worth knowing.

So, stand the fuck up, throw the knife in the trash and phone Ms. I’m-sending-you-a-text-message-about-ants because she can help you a helluva lot more than I can right now.

Just remember one thing: one day you are going to be fine, Andrew, one day you will be happy again.

I’m just not going to tell you when, because…spoilers!

Love and hugs always,
Addy xox


If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |

Also, you can find previous letters I have written to myself here:

| A letter to my younger self | A postcard to my younger self | A letter to my future self |

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Day #4: The Trade Off

This is the latest installment in the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge, as devised by Bold Kevin on his blog Voices of Glass. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can read them via the links below. I’d also like to take the opportunity to apologise for the break in daily posting. Unfortunately, part and parcel of suffering from mental illness is that horrible thing known as a ‘bad day’; where someone’s mental health becomes so bad they find it difficult to function at a normal level. Well, I am currently in the midst of what it known as a ‘bad week‘. I’m doing my best to stop it developing into a ‘bad fortnight’ and will post as frequently as I’m able! :)

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 |


Day Four – “The Trade Off”
You walk into a fun fair or state fair and see a small tent entitled “The Trade Off”.  Curious you go and look at the writing under the sign only to learn that for 1 dollar, euro or pound, you get to take a pill which will allow you to trade your mental health condition for another mental condition of your choosing for a whole week.  The only rules are that you have to trade one for one and there are no returns until the end of that week.  Would you do it, what would you choose and why?


However bizarre this answer may be, it is one I didn’t have to think about. I knew it before I even reached ‘the only rules are…’ sentence in the question.

Not only would I take advantage of the offer, I would keep taking advantage of the offer until I’d worked my way through the entire pantheon of psychiatric conditions.

When I was at school – beit Kindergarten, Primary or High – learning revolved around either hour-long lectures that were tediously boring and completely hands-off or re-writing passages from text books in our own words. Certainly, there were occasions when we were allowed to let our imaginations run wild with creative writing and/or creative essaying, but generally these flights of fancy were kept to a minimum. Personally, I found this had a severe impact on my education as I’ve always learnt better from actually doing or feeling something rather than merely reading or being told about it.

This is why I learnt more about Scotland in my four weeks backpacking the country than I had in the previous four years of reading about it. Although I enjoyed immersing myself in those tomes I found it difficult to recall or repeat any of the information I’d read. But now, if you were to ask me about Culloden, Scapa Flow, the Glencoe Massacre or the Loch Ness Monster, I could share hundreds of facts and historical anecdotes because I’ve walked the moor, stared at the wrecks, smelt the blood soaked earth and tasted the loch. My knowledge of these events are intrinsically anchored to my physical experiences of being there.

In fact, through my life, there are dozens of examples of where I fought though my anxiety to experience something purely so I could understand it better. From hurling my naked body into a deserted lake in the middle of the Rocky Mountains (so I could experience ‘freedom’) to allowing myself to be strapped to a birching block during a tour of a jail museum (so I could experience ‘captivity’). In fact, my 101 things to do before I die list is littered with things that I wish to experience purely because I want to know what they feel like, such as: go to university, spend the day on a nude beach, ride the Indian Pacific railway or some of the secretive password protected things.

Having spent the better part of the last five years researching and writing about mental illness, it frustrates me that there are certain illnesses that I will never truly understand. Although I know (only too well) what it’s like to battle the rapidly fluctuating mood swings of bipolar or the crippling panic attacks of social anxiety, I will never fully possess the knowledge of what it’s like to be lost in a paranoid schizophrenic delusion or confined by the all-controlling thoughts of anorexia nervosa, for this knowledge can only truly be gleaned from experience, not from the cold, dispassionate font of a text-book.

For someone obsessed with physical experiences, the opportunity to experience something I would never normally have the chance to, would be too great to resist. For my $1 (bargain!) I would begin by swapping bipolar for schizophrenia, then exchange schizophrenia for BPD or anorexia. Perhaps I would then swap my social anxiety for narcissistic personality disorder or PTSD for Misophonia. Whatever combination or order I would choose is largely irrelevant, all that matters is I would relish the opportunity to experience these conditions so I could increase my knowledge toward building greater empathy and understanding.

Some may think I’m mad to want to experience such potentially debilitating conditions for whatever reason.

Perhaps they’re right.

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Day #3: A great big magical button!

This is the latest installment in the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge, as devised by Bold Kevin on his blog Voices of Glass. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 |


Day Three – “The Miracle Button”
If I offered you a miracle button which when pressed would instantly take away your mental health issues – would you press it or not?  And why?


If I were standing in front of a miracle button which would instantly take away my mental health issues, the conversation would go something like this:

Who exactly are you?

(fixed grin as he realises this could be his only chance to do something he’s always wanted to do)
Well. That’s the question.

(confused, not realising he’s playing right into Addy’s hands)
I demand to know who you are!

(imitating the Miracle Button Man’s rough voice)
See, there’s the thing. I’m Addy, but beyond that, I– I just don’t know. I literally do not know who I am. It’s all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?
(winks cheekily)
Right old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor? A liar? A nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I’ve certainly got a gob.
(points up at the button with an insane smile)
And how am I gonna react when I see this? A great big magical button. A Great Big Magical Button Which Must Not Be Pressed Under Any Circumstances. Am I right? Let me guess, it’s some sort of control matrix? Hmm? Hold on, what’s feeding it? And what’ve we got here? Blood?
(dips his finger in it and tastes it)
Yeah, definitely. Blood. Human blood. Bipolar. With just a dash of iron.
(waggles his tongue around at the nasty taste and wipes his finger on his dressing gown)
Ahh. But that means… blood control…blood control! Oh! I haven’t seen blood control for years! You’re controlling all the Manic Depressives! Which leaves us with a great big stinking problem. ‘Cos… I really don’t know who I am. I don’t know when to stop. So if I see a Great Big Magical Button Which Should Never Ever Be Pressed… then I just wanna do this!

…and right at this point, if I were to continue with my loyal re-enactment of the classic Doctor Who scene, I would raise my hand into the air and whack it down onto the button without a pause. Only, if pushing the button meant my bipolar would be instantly removed, there isn’t a part of me that would be able to continue with this re-enactment, as there is only a small part of me that wants my bipolar removed.

Regardless of the pain, devastation, confusion and chaos that bipolar has inflicted on my life, it is still a part of who I am, and I part of it. We are one, my bipolar and I. Removing it would be like removing my eyes, my hands, my fingers or toes. It would be like erasing memories from my mind, eradicating my passions or expunging my innate playful kinkiness. I would still be breathing, still be walking and roaming the earth a living human being, but I wouldn’t be me.

I wouldn’t be the man who sits up all night writing hundreds upon thousands of words because the world would be a lesser place if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be the man who solves the world’s problems between the hours of five and six before sitting down to a nice cup of green tea. I wouldn’t be the man who streaked down Rundle Mall to win the posterior (and, as it turned out, friendship) of a drunken Scots lass. I wouldn’t be the man who tries to sneak spanking and/or obscure pop culture references into as many blog posts as possible purely because it makes me smile to do so. I would never have written I, Georgina whilst trapped in a state of hypomania or edited The Ghosts That Haunt Me to publishable standard. Without my bipolar I would never have met Annie, or Deborah, Louise, Kathy, Rachel, Annabelle, MsB, Stephanie, Sare, Layton or Grace.

Without my bipolar, I wouldn’t be Addy.

And without Addy, what would this world be?

(interrupting my rambling, self-congratulatory train of thought)
It’s not just bipolar.


It doesn’t just erase bipolar. It erases all your mental health problems. If you push that button say goodbye to your social anxiety. Say goodbye to those vomit inducing PTSD fuelled nightmares. Say goodbye to your demons, your depressions and despair. If you push that button you could walk down the street without crumpling to the floor in panic. You wouldn’t spend weeks on end locked away in your unit, nor hours on end sitting on the floor of your shower with a bloody knife in your hand. You would be able to sustain conversations, make people laugh and smile and want to be with you. You would have friends, Addy, who didn’t think you were a toy to be played-with or a project to be fixed. They could love you, truly, unconditionally, but only if you push that button. If you push that button…you can live again.

(smiling at the thought of it)
My anxiety would be gone. Forever. I could smile again…

…and dance…and sing…and hug…and kiss…and fuck…and whatever your heart desires. But…

…only if I push that button. Only if I sacrifice everything that makes me me to be rid of this insidious anxiety.

Yes. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be happy? To be someone who isn’t controlled by fear or ruled by the temperamental whims of mood and memory ? Or do you want to be Addy? Whoever that may be.

(muttering under his breath)
The man going hiking says it. The misunderstood Viking says it. The man at the rodeo. And the lonely old Eskimo says.

Last chance, Addy. Who exactly are you?

I’m good, thanks.

You’re sure?

Would my life be better if I pushed that button. Something happier? Something more successful? Something less lonely? Something worth living? Absolutely.
But I wouldn’t be me. That’s what’s important. And that’s who I am.

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Day #2: What do you see of my soul?

This is the latest installment in the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge, as devised by Bold Kevin on his blog Voices of Glass. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here:

| Day 01 |


Day Two – “My Eyes”
Take and publish a photo of your eyes (or if you prefer simply look in the mirror). Using no less than 50 words imagine those eyes belonged to a stranger and you are looking into them for the first time. What do those eyes alone say to you about the person whose eyes they are?


[NB: This is the most recent photo I could find of my eyes, circa homelessness 2010!]

More than bellies, more than breasts, more than legs, noses, knee-caps and toes, the eyes are the part of the body I am most drawn to. That is, unless I’m walking behind someone, in which case the posterior is the body part I’m most drawn to…for reasons all too obvious (and irrelevant) to get into right now! :p

Ever since I was a child and read the phrase in a book I’ve long forgotten the title of, I’ve firmly believed that the eyes are the window to the soul. Through them we can see everything that someone stands for; their hopes, their beliefs, their loves, passions, desires and dreams.

Someone’s eyes reveal if they’re lying or being honest, if they love or loathe you and whether they are on the side of good, evil or occasional naughtiness.

Someone’s eyes tell us all we need to know about who they belong to, as long as we know how to read them.

In the case of my own eye(s) above, looking at them if they belonged to a stranger, the first things that come to mind are:

♥ Bewildered ♥ Lost ♥ Alone ♥ Confused ♥ Tired ♥ Melancholic ♥
♥ (Possibly) on the side of occasional naughtiness ♥
♥ (Definitely) in need of eyebrow pluckers ♥
but also,
 ♥  Strong ♥ Sexy ♥ Cute ♥ Lovely ♥
♥ Keen eye for fashion! ♥
♥ Passionate ♥
♥ Broken ♥

What do you see, bearing in mind I’m a stranger and you’re looking into them for the first time?