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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Addy’s Adventures in Melbourne, Part 02

The Yarra River, Melbourne

The Yarra River, Melbourne | © Addy

Yesterday’s jaunt through my recent trip to Melbourne ended with a day of stress, triggers, anxiety and bottoms so spectacular they make you glad to be alive. Today, we pick up on Wednesday 20th November, the first day of the World Hearing Voices Congress.

This was the first time the congress had been held in Australia and, with over 700 people in attendance, was the largest World Hearing Voices Congress so far. It has to be said that, for someone who doesn’t like being around lots of people, the congress was a very stressful, overwhelming and exhausting experience for me. But regardless of these negative issues, I am immensely glad that I attended as being around hundreds of people who accept hearing voices as simply another characteristic of being human, rather than a symptom of illness, was a truly liberating experience.

However, as we pick up my journal entries, one of my people was somewhat miffed by my actions of that day:

20th November 2013, 10:46pm
Room 806, Darling Towers

For the last forty-six minutes Meadhbh has been feral. I mean chomping at the bit, hurling abuse, potty-mouthed feral! The cause? Well, it’s four fold:

1) We didn’t say goodbye to Emilia after the Mad Hatters Party this evening
2) We didn’t really talk to anyone at the Mad Hatters Party this evening
3) We didn’t really talk to anyone at the Congress today
and
4) She’s decided that I should hook up with a woman who was presenting at the Congress. A woman who Meadhbh believed was wearing a “splendiferously awesome green dress” and was the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen.

So her incessant abuse, coupled with another all out stressful day, means I am ending the fifth day on the trot in a stressed out and anxious way. I’m sick of not feeling relaxed. I’m sick of hating myself. I’m sick of not being able to show my awesome self to the world. And it seems Meadhbh is – once again – sick of it too. Right now, I just want to curl up and hide from the universe.

Before I go any further with the journal entries, I feel I should explain what I mean by the Mad Hatters Party. On the evening of the first day of the Congress, a party had been organised at a pub in the city, a pub that (just by chance) held triggering memories for me. To make the party more “fun”, it had been decided that the theme for the evening was Mad Hats (as in Mad Hatter, as in Alice in Wonderland) so everyone who attended had to be wearing a hat of some description. Not being one who can pull of hats, I opted for a fluffy wombat hat that we found in a tourist shop a few minutes before the party, a hat that was dubbed the Warmbat Hat given it was bloody hot to wear!

Thus, it should be fairly obvious which one I am in this image below!

At the Mad Hatters Party

Addy (with some of the Gateway entourage) at the Mad Hatters Party. Alas, we’re all suffering from a severe case of Pixelitus! | © Addy

A photo that further increased my stress and anxiety!

To top off the day, I saw a full body photograph of myself for the first time in years tonight…fuck me am I an ugly, grotesque, lump of an overweight fugly person! (Note: I suffer from body image issues, remember!) So year, feeling really really crap tonight. And I mean really crap. Really, really really crap!

But, like yesterday, I’m going to try to focus on some bright spot(s): Emilia was, as always, super awesome in helping me deal with my stress and anxiety, the congress is really interesting (even though I can’t focus because of the stress) and Shay saw a woman this evening with the bounciest breasts he’s ever seen and wishes this incident to be recorded for posterity.

Methinks it’s gonna be a bad night! :( Grrr!

It was a bad night. Because of the stress I forgot to take my medication, which led to a sleepless, flashback laden night.

21st November 2013, 10:23pm
Room 806, Darling Towers

Because of the continuing stress, I haven’t felt all that good today. I couldn’t focus at the congress, so panels, featured speakers and life stories when in one ear and out the other. Fortunately, to offer an olive branch for last nights feral-ness, Meadhbh kept detailed notes – especially during the talk from the woman she has a crush on, so I’ll use these to catch up with all the learnings when I’m more ‘with it’.

As for bright spot(s)…I did purchase a book at the congress, Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation, that I’m looking forward to reading and…ummm…I’m in my own room again tomorrow night! :D

By the third day of the congress rolled around I was full-on, out-of-my-mind exhausted. Every muscle in my body was aching after days of little sleep and mustering as much concentration as I could. Unfortunately I couldn’t go straight to the hotel to relax as I first had to cycle backwards and forwards around the city to collect my backpacks, a five kilometre round trip that well and truly knackered me out.

22nd November 2013, 6:57pm
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

It (literally) feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. However much I like the people I was sharing the accommodation with, being in my own room – with my own bathroom – for the first time in days feels as close to bliss as I fear is possible this week. Well, Doctor Who and Zelda aside!

At this point in time I’m lying in my undies watching ABC2 whilst I try to decide whether to go to the midnight opening of EB Games tonight. My copy is all paid for (yay!) but I’m fearing the event may kill me, given my total lack of energy.

I may just chill for a bit and see how I feel after The Name of the Doctor has been watcher! :)

23rd November 2013, 1:51am
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

Well, you can probably guess from the time that I did indeed go to the midnight Zelda launch. Although I didn’t really participate, I did get a free Windwaker poster (which just makes me want to play the game even more), a copy of the game (yay!) and the opportunity to perve on several cosplay goddesses and gods. My personal fave was a delightfully cute woman dressed as Marin and a woman who – rather disturbingly – thought dressing as Tingle was a good idea!

From the 45mins I’ve played of the game thus far:

It is beautiful to look at. Seriously good frame-rate, gorgeous design and wonderful resolution.
It plays like a dream.

It’s sooooo nice to drop back into the world that made me a Zelda fan in the first place!

Anyway, bright spot(s) for today included: my own space again, Zelda and meeting Marius Romme (grandfather of the Hearing Voices Movement)

8:53pm

Only ten hours until The Day of the Doctor! :D As part of the fiftieth anniversary the ABC is screening a (pretty dodgy) documentary about the show. It’s all ham-fisted humor, fast edited montages and inappropriate dance music. But, it’s Doctor Who, so I love it! :p

The rest of the day has been rather bland and unexciting. I had a rush of energy this morning that saw me spin around the NGV’s new Melbourne Now exhibition (moments of sublime inspiration but I’m not a fan of contemporary art) before picking up some new undies at Big W before returning to the motel to enjoy the land of Lorule a little more.

After the hectic nature of the last five days it’s been rather wonderful to just kick back and enjoy some quiet ‘me’ time today. So, bright spot(s) for today? I guess the solitude (not the loneliness), exploring old/new Hyrule and anticipating tomorrow’s festivities. :)

Now, in August of last year I shared my things to do before I die list on this blog,and I’m ecstatic that – for the first time in years – I’m able to cross an item from this list, for the sixty-ninth item on this exhaustive list was: live to see the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!

At 6:50am on Sunday 24th November 2013, I tuned in to the worldwide simulcast of the 50th anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor! And it was magnificent! So magnificent in fact that I tuned in to watch it during an encore screening that night. So magnificent that, for the only day I was in Melbourne, I was too psyched to actually write in my journal.

Aside from Doctor Who, the penultimate day in Melbourne saw me visit the NGV International (where I was reminded how obnoxious and self-centered some Melbournians are) before taking a trip to Sexpo with Shay and Meadhbh.

Although I have no problem with sex, people expressing their sexuality or celebrating all things sexual, attending Sexpo on my own – with my somewhat acute anxiety – was a confronting experience that tainted an otherwise enjoyable venture. However, as I wrote last week, my two companions did work together to purchase me a birthday present that I hope one day to get some use out of.

Now, initially I was due to return home on Monday 25th November. However, a vicious panic attack about the train ride home caused me to miss the train and, as a result, forced me to stay an extra night in Melbourne. Something Meadhbh had no issues with considering we had yet – due to my lack of energy – to go to the zoo.

25th November 2013, 8:12pm
Room 217, Flagstaff City Inn

Currently the Zygons are implementing their plan for Earth-domination and the Doctor’s are bickering their hearts out in the Tower of London. Yes, due to my extra night in Melbourne I am able to watch The Day of the Doctor for a third time courtesy of a repeat screening on ABC2! :)

Anyway, for my (hopefully) final day in Melbourne I kept my promise to Meadhbh and went for a mosey around Melbourne Zoo. She was sooooooo excited about the whole thing! Every time we passed an exhibit she would squeal loudly and want to know what was inside. Her favourite animals were: wombats, koalas, platypus, giraffes and turtles. She also loved the pelicans, meerkats and giant tortoises. However, she didn’t like the emus one bit because they scare her something awful!

After this wholly enjoyable excursion I ummed and ahhed about visiting the aquarium (I didn’t) before perusing Fed Square, ACMI and various city landmarks for the final time.

What with the massive panic attack this morning and all this activity I’m now exceedingly exhausted and completely unsure what to do for the rest of the evening. I think I’ll try to get an early night and do lots of grounding in the hope I won’t freak out too much about tomorrow’s train ride. I don’t really want a repeat of today’s attacks! :/

Fortunately, despite a heightened state of anxiety, I was able to board the train and complete the four hour journey back to Wodonga incident free. Since then I have been somewhat out-of-sorts, mostly as a result of exhaustion, but also as a result of ‘what next?’

I’ve spent the better part of twelve months looking forward to both the Melbourne trip and Doctor Who’s anniversary. Now that both are over I’ve been left wondering what I have to look forward to now? Christmas? Yuck! Another year of nothing much happening? More stress and anxiety? Yet more loneliness?

At some point in the near-future I will need to work out something to plan for next year otherwise who knows what chaos will befall me. After all, we all need something to look forward to, don’t we?

Regardless, the time I had in Melbourne, however stressful, was a wonderful holiday and one I’m glad I found the courage to undertake.

Watching 'The Day of the Doctor'

Watching ‘The Day of the Doctor’ (sorry about the unappealing hairy legs! :p) | © Addy


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Quietly freaking out!

A last minute emergency

Usually when I vanish from my blog it’s because some naughty little depression demon has started running riot in my mind…but not this time. The reason I’ve been absent for much of November is because I’ve been in full preparatory mode for my upcoming adventure to Melbourne. I’ve been running back and forth booking accommodation, changing accommodation, sorting out train tickets, making sure I have enough clean clothing to take with me and generally dealing with every minor (and major) emergency that could threaten the awesomeness of the trip.

All in all I haven’t done too badly.

A last-minute change to my train plans was sorted easily, whilst an unexpected hiccup with my accommodation plans was (in my mind) handled with aplomb. In fact, the only thing which has destabilized me is something that no-one could have seen coming.

Earlier today, as I nonchalantly cycled to Albury to procure some new socks, I was forced off the road and into a sign post after a car-passenger opened their door without warning. Nothing too bad, I hear you say, but when you take into account that the collision with the sign post broke my only pair of glasses (which I actually need to see with!) it becomes something a little more urgent.

Unfortunately, five different optometrists were unable to fix my glasses, so unless I can fix them with superglue this evening, vision will be something of a problem during my first holiday in over five years!

Bargaining with my little devils…

Anyway…trying to look on the positive side of things…I am not the only one getting excited (and fearful) of my forthcoming trip. Each of my people have been reacting in their own unique fashion: Meadhbh is gloriously excited by the thought of moseying around her third favourite city again; Audrey is chomping at the bit over the possibility of bumping into her real-life counterpart (which isn’t all that likely, but the possibility is still there); Vanessa is angry about the whole affair and would prefer me to stay at home rather than do something I’m actually looking forward to doing; whilst Shay – being the annoying misogynist he is – is eagerly anticipating the chance to check out a whole city worth of female talent.

However, all of them (bar Meadhbh) are not looking forward to the World Hearing Voices Congress that I will be attending for three days next week. Much like the Hearing Voices Support Group I go to, they would much rather me forget about this element of the holiday and focus on other (more fun for them) things instead.

So, in an attempt to deal with this potentially damaging problem, I’ve struck a bargain with them. We’ve decided that if they behave themselves during the congress, they can each choose one thing for us to do during our time in Melbourne. In spite of many noisy conversations over the last few days they’ve each agreed to behave themselves if they can do the following:

  • Meadhbh has decided she wants to go to the zoo to check out all the cute and fluffy animals.
  • Audrey wants to spend time admiring the art at the National Gallery of Victoria.
  • Vanessa wants to go and see the musical King Kong.
  • Whilst Shay wants to go to a nightclub (!)

I have made it abundantly clear to both Vanessa and Shay that their chosen activities may not be possible due to monetary funds and/or severe anxiety so their choices may change over the coming days, but whatever happens they have each agreed to write a blog post about their ‘treat’ as/when it occurs.

Quietly freaking out!

I’m actually quite proud of myself for striking this bargain and easing their criticism of my attending the congress as it gives me a little more peace and quiet to deal with my own issues over going.

My fears are four fold:

1. I’ve never been to a mental health related conference so I really have no idea what to expect,
2. Over 700 people are registered to attend (and I don’t deal well with large volumes of people)
3. Because Gateway have paid for me to attend I feel obligated to see as many of the talks and/or demonstrations as possible, even if I have been triggered and/or just need a breather to calm down.
and
4. I’m still unsure how I will actually go being back in Melbourne (and all the memories it will entail)

Only time will tell how things pan out with the congress, but right now, I am quietly freaking out about the whole thing.

But aside from these (to be expected) anxieties over the congress and being back in Melbourne after all that happened there, I am looking forward to my holiday. I’m looking forward to meandering around the shops, cycling along the beach front, reading books under a gum tree, enjoying an eclectic choice of foodstuffs and doing as much as possible to chill out and relax.

And I’m soooooooo looking forward to watching the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who…so hopefully by then I will have found a fix for my glasses emergency, otherwise I won’t be able to actually see it!