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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Ten works of art that have changed my life…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy Challenge we turn our attention to works of art – paintings, film, television, books, music etc. – and look at which ones have had a particularly life-altering impact on my life. Starting with the obvious…

Doctor Who (1963-Present)


My love affair with Doctor Who began during the show’s twenty-fifth anniversary, when I watched the story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. Little did I know then that this television series would go on to become one of the most important works of art in my life.

For twenty-seven years now this show has been the source of tremendous comfort, inspiration and excitement. It has soothed my soul through countless depressive episodes, been there to support me when I’ve contemplated suicide and stood by me during periods of intense self harm.

For two-thirds of my life I have had the good Doctor and his assortment of companions to guide me through life’s ups and downs. I seriously couldn’t comprehend my life without Doctor Who. It is in my blood. It is part of my DNA. And I will love it until my final, dying breath.

And now a flashback to 1988, and a clip from the very first Doctor Who story that I remember watching:

Quest for a Kelpie (1986)


It began, as far as I was concerned, with the fight.

At midday one Friday, about the beginning of September 1743, a month before my tenth birthday, my mother called me in. As there had been no fishing for a week because of storms, there was no fish to take up the country, and I had a bit leisure to play with my little brother Isaac and the twins. Not Ellen, of course. She had her own friends, always.

“Come in, Jeannie,” mam called. “Away over with your dad’s bite. You can take the wee one with you, an’ be sure he takes no harm. Now mind an’ dinna spill it or I’ll skelp you.”

“Aye, mam,”I said. I knew fine she wouldn’t – if anybody skelped me it would be my dad.

How did this work of art change me? This book made me want to be a writer. What more can I say?

Psycho (1960)


This filmed changed my understanding of what great cinema is. Before I watched it I was gorging on a diet of Hollywood blockbusters and cheesy romantic comedies. Until I watched this, film was just a sugary snack, something to munch on when you felt depressed. But watching this masterpiece of direction made me realise that film didn’t have to be a snack, it could be a hearty main meal. This film set me off on a journey that took in some of the great artists of motion picture history; Welles, Altman, Truffaut, Wilder, to name but a few. This film began my love affair with Hitchcock, a relationship that has been ongoing for twenty odd years now. It changed the way I viewed film, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)


Is a video game a work of art? Let’s end this insipid date here and now: of course it is! And this video game, this inspirational, incredible, breathtaking journey, is without question, without argument or debate, the greatest video game ever made. From the moment I placed the cartridge into my trusty N64 back in 1998 I was blown away by the commitment put into this work of art by its talented team. The graphics, the music, the design, the everything!

This is one of those journey’s that you simply have to take in life, so if you haven’t already done so, do it now. Stop reading this blog post this very second and travel to your nearest video game store, pick up a 3DS and copy of the game, and play it immediately. You will not be disappointed.

One Tree Hill (2003-2012)

One Tree Hill

In late 2010 I had been sleeping rough for eighteen months. Throughout that long, brutal period of time there was little in my life worth writing home about. Joy, happiness, inspiration…everything had deserted me. It was just me, surviving through each horrible, endless day. Then a homeless service offered me a place in a boarding house. I jumped at the chance to get off the streets and merrily made my way to the northern suburbs of Melbourne to check out my new ‘home’. It was a cupboard. There were no windows. No natural light. But it was a room to sleep in. A chance to get off the streets.

Shortly after moving in, depression took hold. I found it difficult to rouse myself from bed, spending entire days laying face down in my cupboard, unable to summon any strength for normal, day-to-day activities. I took solace in a succession of DVDs that I’d borrowed from the local library. Veronica Mars, 24, Supernatural, all were devoured as time-killing measures, all acted as white noise for my pointless existence. Until I placed into the drive the first disc of season one of One Tree Hill. Within six episodes I was hooked. Within one season I was a rabid fan.

I fell head over heels in love with the lives and adventures of the high-schoolers of Tree Hill. Peyton became an object of intense lust and admiration. Hayley, and her singing, soothed my troubled soul. Whilst I promptly decided that, were it possible to date fictional characters, Brooke would be my soul mate. But it was the shows writing that enticed me more than my carnal desiring of its female stars. Episode after episode the dialogue and interaction of the characters blew me away, with entire episodes devoted to exploring character and their relationships. Something I had never seen in a television show before.

After watching four seasons back to back, I left my cupboard for the first time in four weeks, desperate for seasons five and six. Watching that show provided me with a renewed zest for life. It inspired me to return to writing. It forced me to reevaluate my decisions and where I was heading. Without One Tree Hill I would be dead. I’m not saying that to be over dramatic, I’m saying it because it’s true. One Tree Hill saved me from myself. And for that, I will forever worship and adore Mark Schwahn’s poignant creation.

Not my top 10 One Tree Hills scenes, but the top 10 scenes of a fellow YouTuber:

The Pioneer (1904)


This is my favourite painting of all time. I first saw it not long after arriving in Australia, whilst exploring the lengthy hallways of the National Gallery of Victoria. From my first viewing of this intricate, soulful piece of art, I was transfixed. I wanted to know more about the couple, about their life and family. I wanted to know how they survived each day and what drove them toward a better, brighter future.

When I became homeless in 2007 it took on an even deeper meaning, for I could relate to the various stages of their life. The first panel with them sleeping rough, dreaming of a better future, was exactly how I felt during those first months of being homeless. Whereas the second panel, and the start of the couples family, reflected my own dream of family and togetherness. Whilst the grief (and change) reflected in the third panel mirrored the changes and grief that I knew would follow me throughout my life.

It is a magnificent piece of art and, in my humble opinion, should be regarded alongside the Mona Lisa or The Kiss.

Memory and Dream (1994)


But that’s what we all are – just stories. We only exist by how people remember us, by the stories we make of our lives. Without the stories, we’d just fade away.

How did 50pence change my life? It’s not a huge amount of money, it’s pretty negligible, if truth be told. But in late 2001, my life was changed by this paltry amount of money.

I was perusing a charity shop in Inverness, on my way to work another tedious shift at the YHA, when I saw Memory and Dream peeking at me from the bookcase. It was only 50pence, a bargain, so I took it to the counter and purchased it immediately. The author, a Canadian, had been recommended to me by my friend Deborah, and I had been on the lookout for him for months, so finding such a bargain was a stroke of good fortune.

That night at work, given it was quiet because of the off-season, I settled down to read my new purchase. Within minutes I was spellbound. Charles de Lint has a way with words that few other writers can match. He is lyrical, spinning wondrous stories populated by charismatic, compassionate characters. You genuinely care about the people de Lint writes about. They get under your skin. They make your heart hurt.

But it’s not just because Memory and Dream is a remarkable story that it makes this list. No. Memory and Dream did something no other book had ever done. It made me realise that there was a market for the sorts of stories that my soul wanted to tell. I was forever blending the mythical and magical with the humdrum of contemporary life, but until I read Memory and Dream, I didn’t realise there was a name for it; Urban Fantasy.

That’s how 50pence changed my life.

The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses (1926)


This painting used to fascinate me when I was younger. I was drawn to it by the vibrant colours, sharp angles and subject matter. For better or worse, this piece of art has probably changed my life more than any other, for it was instrumental in setting me off on my journey with kink; a journey that I have been traversing for over thirty years now.

The Stamping Ground (2001)


The first single I ever brought was Naked, by British pop starlet Louise. A particularly loathsome piece of music that I purchased only because my teenage self wanted to imagine Louise stark naked. The first album I ever brought was Naked, by British pop starlet Louise. A particularly loathsome collection of music that I purchased only because my teenage self wanted to imagine Louise stark naked. But the first album I brought that actually resonated with me, that I brought for reasons other than teenage lust, was Runrig’s The Stamping Ground. And it blew my mind. There was actually music out there that spoke to me, that made my soul sing and my heart quiver. Runrig has gone on to become my favourite musical act of all time. Their songs resonate within me more than any other. Their music has formed the soundtrack of my life. Without them, I wouldn’t be Addy.

My favourite song from the album The Stamping Ground, performed live in 2014:


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)


Little did I know that wintry January day that reading a magazine would change my life. I was browsing the shelves of Forbidden Planet, a comic and genre store in Cardiff, when I picked up the latest issue of SFX. Flicking through the pages I stumbled upon a review for a brand spanking new television series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The review was favorable so I decided to keep an eye out for it.

A few days later I was flicking through the various television channels when I came upon an episode of the said television series. It was the fourth episode – Teacher’s Pet – so I watched it to see if I agreed with the magazine review. I did. I was taken by the characters, the sparkling dialogue and blend of fantasy and reality. So it became weekly viewing and, by the end of the first season, I was obsessed.

Like Doctor Who, Buffy has changed my life because it saw me through some of the trickiest, more painful, chapters of my life. It was there for me during the loneliness and depression of post-school life. It was there for me when I decided to take a chance and go traveling. And it was there for me when I made the even bigger decision to emigrate to Australia.

But after it played an integral part of my abusive relationship, I wasn’t able to watch Buffy. It became a trigger for me. A source of pain and frustration. An endless reminder of the trauma my abuser had put me through. For years I wanted to watch it, but couldn’t. And I thought it would be relegated to the dusty archives of my life; the show I used to cherish but can no longer relish. But earlier this year I decided to face my trigger head on. I missed Buffy. I missed Willow and Tara. I missed the sage-like advice of Giles. So I curled up with some chocolate and endeavored to watch every episode; to relive one of the greatest television journeys ever made. It did trigger me, I’ll be honest about that, but I got through it. All 144 episodes were watched, all 144 episodes were enjoyed. And I found my love of this show hadn’t dwindled.

It will, like Doctor Who and One Tree Hill, remain one of the most influential television series of my life.

A fan’s collection of favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer moments. let’s be honest. All moments are awesome!

So there we have it. Ten works of art, picked out of millions, that have changed my life. But what about you? What works of art have changed your life for the better (or worse)? I’d love to know! :)


Thirteen things that have saved my life…


Whilst working through the Skins DVD box-set I received for my birthday last week something strange happened. Something I wasn’t expecting but, in hindsight, should have.

In April 2009 I was living in a dodgy boarding house in Inverness. The boarding house was a converted kindergarten school, complete with child-size toilets and Playschool-esque wall decorations. With sixteen other people living in the house personal space was limited, and I spent most of my time huddled in my room, twiddling my thumbs and trying to find something to fill the void.

At the time I was suffering through a particularly nasty depressive episode, veering in and out of suicidal ideation and desperately trying to procure some professional help from the local mental health services.

On one night, in an effort to provide some relief from the self-harm I had been engaging in, I walked the two kilometers to the local Tesco supermarket at around eleven in the evening. Although I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up purchasing a copy of Skins Series 3 from their entertainment section and returned home to watch it.

As I had done countless times in the past, I ended up staying up the entire night to watch the ten episode series in a televisual marathon. By the end of it all urge to self-harm had evaporated and for the next several days no suicidal thought crept into my mind. Courtesy of a simple television show, for several days I was calm, at ease and able to focus on what I needed to do.

Whilst watching the same season over the weekend, I was taken back to those dark days and reminded that were it not for Skins there is a reasonable chance that I wouldn’t be here to write these words today.

All of which got me thinking about other entertainment products that have saved my life over the years.


1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1993)

This is the video-game that began my life-long love affair with the world of Hyrule and a game that, more than any other, defines my child-hood. At a time when my depression was first starting to bite and the urge to self-harm was becoming increasingly difficult to overcome, having a world to escape to was a tremendous solace to me. So much so that when the game was re-released for the Gameboy Advance in the early naughties, I was one of the first in line to add it to my collection purely so I could relive some of the happier memories of my teenage years.

2. Doctor Who: The Classic Era (1993)

There is a reason why I was so excited by the recent fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. It wasn’t just because I have been a fan for over twenty-five years of my life, but because during the mid-nineties, when I was first becoming lost to depression, self-harm and suicidal urges, it provided me with an escape like no other. Although heavily criticized for its effects, the classic-era of Doctor Who will long be held in my heart, and not just because one of my strongest memories is of Sarah Sutton stripping down to her underwear in the story Terminus!

3. The Famous Five (1995)

One of my strongest memories of childhood is of my parents reading me the Famous Five books each and every night. They owned the complete collection in – what I remember being – first edition hardbacks. Although I may have seemed a little too old for these stories at the time, during the harshness of those teenage years I would often delve back into the world of 1950s innocence as a way to escape the pain that I was feeling.

Famous Five

4. Highlander (1997)

During the late nineties there were only a handful of television series that I was passionate about. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one, Due South another, but the biggest of the three was the Vancouver based series Highlander, inspired by the Christopher Lambert starring motion pictures. This series was a huge source of escapism for me at the time and inspired countless aspects of my own writing (from the historical aspect of the storytelling to the presence of immortals). It was also a series that made me want to visit Glenfinnan, which would go on to become one of my favourite places in this world.

5. Doctor Who: Utopia, The Sound of Drums and The Last of the Time Lords (2007)

In late 2007, courtesy of losing everything after my breakdown, I owned just one DVD; the final three episodes of Doctor Who’s third series. As a result, over the course of six traumatic months, this became my go-to option in times of distress. As such, they are my three favourite episodes of new Doctor Who, and probably always will be.

6. Brandi Carlile, The Story (2007)

Along with Chasing Cars, this album provided me with the inspiration to begin writing this blog. When I hear songs such as The Story, Turpentine or Again Today I am taken back to the early days of my blogging career, and the hope that this venture provided me with at the time.

7. Supernatural (2007)

After attempting suicide in October 2007 I was a total, complete and utter mess. I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t formulate ideas and I was unable to express how I was feeling to anyone. In fact, for weeks after the event – before becoming homeless – all I could do was sit on the sofa and watch random DVDs. It was during this period that I discovered Supernatural; a dark and humorous urban fantasy that enabled me to stay connected to the real-world and prevent the actualization of any further suicidal urges.

8. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2008)

Returning to Scotland in 2008 was a bittersweet experience for me. Although I relished being back amidst the mountains, glens and lochs of the world’s most beautiful country, I was overrun with memories of times past throughout my entire trip. Fortunately, this gleefully enjoyable video-game was at hand to beat back the demons and keep myself from doing anything stupid. I’ve been a fan of the Lego games ever since, and still turn to them in times of distress to this day.

9. Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars and The End of Time (2009)

As David Tennant was starring in the RSC’s production of Hamlet, there was no complete series of Doctor Who in 2009. Instead, we were treated to four ‘specials’ throughout the year; Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars and the two-part tenth Doctor’s finale, The End of Time. It was the latter two, which arrived during my initial months of homelessness, that helped ease the distress I was in and provided me with hope and inspiration for a better future.

10. One Tree Hill (2010)

Possibly the most important entry in this list is Mark Schwan’s stunning television series, One Tree Hill. Whilst living in a violent boarding house in late 2010 I essentially became agoraphobic, unable to leave my measly room for any reason for over four weeks. It was only the desire to watch more seasons of One Tree Hill that lifted me from my despair and enabled me to find the strength to rejoin the world. Without the magnificence of One Tree Hill I would definitely not be here, period.


11. Chuck (2011)

Although I had been a fan of Chuck since watching the pilot episode with Samantha in Glasgow, 2008, it was only when I was re-watching the series in internet cafes whilst homelessness did I realise the positive effect it was having on my ideals of hope and determination. Ever since that realization, this show has lived in the forefront of my heart. One of the greatest television series of recent years.

12. Fringe (2012)

After procuring my new home in early 2012 I was a mess. Years of homelessness, despair, depression and hopelessness had taken their toll. Regardless of my new-found privacy and security I couldn’t shake the person I had become in the preceding years. I still believed I deserved nothing but pain, misery and a painful death. Fortunately, the decision to watch Fringe Season 3 changed all that. Within twenty-four hours I had polished off the 22 episode season and began working my way through seasons one and two before watching season three for a second time. As such, I have long credited this exquisite science-fiction show for giving me a renewed hope in the world and the strength to keep going when all felt lost.

13. The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (2012)

Last Christmas was a particularly brutal period for me. For nearly two months I was overwhelmed by the demons of depression, who pushed me against my will into the realms of alcoholism, self-harm and suicidal ideation. Luckily, courtesy of a birthday present from my parents, I had the world of Zelda to retreat into and, much like it did when I was but a fresh-faced teenager, it helped me quell the demons who were threatening me with extinction.


Thirteen completely random thoughts…

In my most recent Sunday Stealing post, I mentioned that I’d written this week’s Thursday Thirteen post around things I do to relax and de-stress. In reading through the post this morning I decided it was crap and needed to be re-written (most likely because of my intense self-critical nature!)

However, as I am in an insanely flakey and unfocused mood at the moment, I’m lacking the ability to concentrate on re-writing the planned post so have decided to do something different, something that more reflects my current mood.

Thus, I present to you…thirteen completely random things I’ve thoughts about this week!


1. How bored (and frustrated and annoyed and pissed off) I am of the ‘whingeing British’ stereotype, especially as Australians whine far, FAR, more!

2. This one actually came courtesy of Meadhbh who wondered why so many men act like assholes around women? I couldn’t come up with anything that couldn’t be described as misandry.

3. How long is too long for a man’s fingernails? As my left hand pinkie’s nail is nearly one centimeter long!


Not my nails…just so we’re clear! :p

4. Why is Australia so obsessed with politics? For that matter, why do most Australian bloggers see themselves as political journalists, even though they have nothing new, original, thought-provoking or educational to say on the matter?

5. On Tuesday I found a 960 page book in an op-shop for $1.50 titled “1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die”. In reading through this book I found myself experiencing a cavalcade of emotions; from anger at the absence of Kirby’s Dream Land, frustration over how many different versions of Mario Kart were included, pride at the inclusion of games my brother helped make and absolute nostalgia as I was reminded about games I used to love that I’d completely forgotten about, including:

  • Fantasy World Dizzy (ZX Spectrum); I freaking LOVED this game!
  • Pilotwings (SNES); the only ‘flight simulator’ I ever really liked.
  • Ecco the Dolphin (Sega Megadrive); seriously, how could I possibly have forgotten this?
  • Flashback (Various); this game had great character animation for its time!
  • Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (PC); I think I preferred this to Monkey Island!
  • Gunstar Heroes (Sega Megadrive); one of the few Megadrive titles I ever actually loved.
  • Lemmings (Various); how? Just how could I forget this insanely addictive game?
  • Pac-Land (Arcade); this had to be an inspiration for Super Mario!
  • New-Zealand Story (Arcade); a bow-n-arrow carrying Kiwi bird!
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (PC); so much better than Crystal Skull!
  • Mario Golf (Gameboy); the only golf game I ever really liked.
  • The Longest Journey (PC); the last great brain busting graphic adventure game.
  • Star Wars (Arcade); the original Star Wars video game, from way back in 1983. Vector graphics, woohoo!

Which just me thinking, what were your favourite video games when you were growing up?


They don’t make games like they used to! :(

6. Why are people so obsessed with how ‘liveable’ their city is? Seriously, why do people even care? Does it influence where you decide to live? I don’t get it!

7. This one actually came courtesy of Audrey during an epic conversation I had with her on Saturday. Is there a family more talented in the field of literature than the Brontes? I honestly can’t think of any.

8. Am I the only person on the planet who, when depressed and anxious, finds it almost impossible to use a keyboard? In the last hour I have: hit 134 incorrect keys, written sentences that look like anagrams, closed the tab without knowing how, accidentally gone into full screen mode 8 times and forgotten how to touch-type. It’s bloddy annoying!

9. How young is too young to start masturbating? I may tell you how young I was when I have a better idea of the acceptable average age.

10. Is Metroid: Other M sexist? If you’re not familiar with the game, the lead character (Samus Aran) is a female kick-ass bounty hunter who decides to withhold using her huge arsenal of weaponry until some guy from her past ‘allows’ her to use them; which takes him forever to do! There are even times in the game that he stands back and allows her to experience intense pain that could have been prevented had he given her permission to use her weaponry! Isn’t that physical abuse?

Samus Aran

Samus Aran (Image © Ivan Flores)

11. Would the world be a better place if home video gaming hadn’t moved past the ZX Spectrum? Like I said, totally random thoughts.

12. After watching the series finale to Fringe (pure brilliance), I was left wondering about my favorite last ever episodes:

  • Highlander: The Series; Not to be is possibly my all time favorite last-ever episode.
  • Blackadder the Fourth; does this count when you factor in the special they made in 2000?
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you sleep, you die!
  • Chuck; am I the only person who genuinely loved this finale?
  • One Tree Hill; my heart broke when Logan said ‘mom’…and then, of course, there was Bevin’s return! :D
  • Quantum Leap; so different to what many people were expecting! :)

Which just got me wondering what everyone else’s favorite last ever episodes are?

13. Should I return to Facebook? So many people have been telling me how supportive Facebook can be with an array of groups aimed at mental illness, support and recovery. All I remember about Facebook was how vicious, facile and pointless the whole exercise was.


“Yeah, Buffy? What are we gonna do now?”

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Movie Review: Ten Reasons Why You Must See “Scott Pilgrim vs The World”

1. I have never in my life applauded the studio’s logo at the start of the film. Occasionally I’ll smile, sometimes I’ll giggle, but I’ve never before APPLUADED…until now! Whoever decided upon the design and sound of the Universal logo should be immediately Knighted by the Queen and revered for all eternity as a genius. I can’t tell you what they do, it’ll spoil it, but it is reason enough to watch the film itself!

2. Hate is such a strong word so let’s just say I don’t have high regards for Michael Cera. He was mildly entertaining in Arrested Development and Superbad was good, but mostly for Carla Gallo! However, Cera’s performance in this movie almost makes up for the atrocity he inflicted on us with Year One.


4. You get to see Superman have his ass kicked! Nuff said.

5. The greatest hair in the history of cinema!

6. In fact the owner of (5) is reason enough to see the movie. Having perused the CV of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, I have seen her in only five movies – and of those five, liked only one. After her superb performance in Scott Pilgrim vs The World I not only want to watch those five movies again, but also her entire back catalogue.

7. It is THE most visually stunning movie of the year. And yes, I’m including the overrated Inception in that! If you have any love of visual invention, composition, style and cinema trickery you have to watch this movie. Again, I won’t give anything away as who wants to be spoiled – but prepare to lose your mind at how good this film looks (and I’m not just talking about Mary Elizabeth Winstead!)

8. This movie redefines the action sequence. Even when it came down to the final evil-ex I did not have any ‘meh’ feelings toward them. Even though they could easily have become tedious and boring, each is unique, each ups the game, and each is choreographed to perfection.

9. Anyone who knows me even a little will know how much I love Edgar Wright. I haven’t always had these feelings toward him, until 2001 I didn’t even know who he was…but then Spaced winked at me across the living room and I couldn’t help but think how much I wanted to be having long squelchy nights of carnal intimacy with the inspired genius that was the direction of that show. Shaun of the Dead would have been met with a proposal. Hot Fuzz would have been that moment in the relationship where you remember all the reasons you fell in love in the first place and embark on a weekend of illicit sexual activity in order to celebrate. Scott Pilgrim vs The World is like knowing every day of your life will be spent with the person opposite you – and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Edgar Wright, you sir, are a genius of the highest order! So let’s forget I’ve basically stated I want to have perverted sex with your creative outputs for the rest of my life, as that’s a bit weird, don’t ya reckon?

10. For this, I could say: the rest of the cast (especially Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Jason Schwartzman and Alison Pill), I could say the brilliant songs, I could say how damned funny it is, I could say so many things for this final reason but there is only one thing I keep coming back to…THEY USE MUSIC FROM THE LEGEND OF ZELDA AS PART OF THE SCORE OF THIS MOVIE! SQQQQUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Final Verdict: 9.2/10 – Knockout! This film is truly and utterly stunning in every detail. A near perfect movie.