Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, writing

Relapse.

Writing about my mental state seems to take up the majority of my content here on my blog these days. I know that it’s not the most exciting or uplifting subject, but journaling in my blog about how my mental health is going has been such an integral part of my recovery in the past. Sometimes I toy with the idea of writing more content that isn’t so interior and heavy in nature, and perhaps write more about what I see around me, but for the moment, I’m getting far more out of speaking out on my mental health, and mental health in general than other topics.

 

The last couple months I have been relapsing. Badly. It reminds me of how I was, back before I started planning and working on getting better both inside and out. Years ago. My moods have gotten darker. My outlook on life has also darkened, and become much more pessimistic. My general attitude, behaviour and demeanour have all become rather dour. It takes some effort to do tasks that once were easy and simple for me. Have a shower. Make my bed. Go to the gym. Write a blog post. Hunt for jobs. Brush my teeth, do the ironing. Get out of the house.

 

Even smiling has become something far more difficult than it was. I feel the muscles in my face changing and warping. My face is just in a state of constant frowning. The concern and anxiety tighten my face, causing it to furrow and knit. I feel my brows arching. My lips pursing. I sigh, I breath quicker. I smoke cigarettes, I drink a little more and chew and bite my fingernails till they bleed. My husband, somehow, conversely is usually chipper and able to grin. He’ll wake up smiling, and I ask him, ‘Just how are you able to wake up so happy?’ I can’t recall the last time I haven’t woken up feeling anxious and nervous. ‘I don’t know, I just do. It’s a brand new day, yesterday is done and today is here.’ I miss that excitement for the day that I once had.

 

I’m really feeling at a low point. It’s harder for me to bounce back than it has been in the past when this has happened. This episode has lasted some two weeks now. Perhaps more. Those thoughts of negativity and nihilism have truly come to the fore. Well, we have a unintended rhyme, people. The dark thoughts don’t need to stick to the shadows anymore.

 

Like Voldemort no longer needing to hide, these negative thoughts are free to roam about in the open and fly in black smoke and ruin the day. Or Emperor Palpatine.  I mean, at the end of Star Wars Revenge of The Sith, he’s overthrown and cast out the Jedi and proclaimed a dark and malevolent Empire. Yes. Nerdy allegories work for me.

 

I feel so bad for my poor husband for having to deal with yet more of this. To my perspective, it’s tiring and unyielding; It’s like living with another person, a bit of a Jeckyll/Hyde paradigm, as cliché as that is. I hate it myself. Some days I really wonder how he puts up with it.

 

I was at my best last year in 2017. I really think so. I was doing so great. It was peak Alex. From my standpoint, we had a fantastic year. A tough and challenging one for sure, but also one filled with love and friendship and warmth and sun and light. We did so much. We went to Italy and had the best trip and saw so much. We hung out with friends. We went out and had fun. We worked hard for this move to San Francisco. We were sad to leave idyllic Sydney, but also cautiously excited for the future. We met some special people who brought much joy to our lives. It felt like a great time.

 

In contrast, 2018 has become a year of stalling, hurdles and some hardship on my part. It’s felt like a year of miss-steps, mistakes and misfires and jolts, lurching from one meltdown to another. I can’t be too critical, as we have met some amazing people here who have been so lovely and warm and friendly and have really helped us feel at home and who are so great to be around. I’ll always be grateful to them. They really have been what has made this move worth it, and had we not, we would never have met them at all.

 

I hope that doing things like writing up this blog and exercising and going back on medication, I can turn the last few months left of this year around and make the best of it, not just for me but for the husband, friends and family and everyone around me.

 

I need to stop reminiscing and comparing the past to the present. Things have changed, and clearly I’ve not coped well with relocating as I thought I could. I know much of this relapse is due to my mistake of deciding to go it alone sans medication, and now I have to get through all of that again in order to start getting better.

 

I just sometimes wish I could explain or show what having anxiety and depression is like, to people who don’t experience it. The best way to describe it in my case is imagining 20 people standing behind you whispering terrible things about you, things that cut through to your core and trash your well-being. And, those 20 people being the people you dislike most in your life. That overbearing and mean-spirited manager. A critical family member. Someone you once had grief with, etc. Imagine it from the moment you wake up to when you fall asleep, and then back again in the morning. Saying really horrible things that you can’t help but think, yeh you’re right, I am a failure of a person and won’t amount to much.

 

Imagine your breathing quickening at the slightest thing. A bit of bad news. Costly needed dental procedures. Someone on social media bragging. Looking for jobs.  Having to attend interviews. Heck, even friends or family succeeding in life and wanting to let the world know [rightly so], will trigger a panic attack. Resulting in yet again feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

 

It’s become harder and harder for me to mute these thoughts in my head. I exercise almost daily. I try to get myself out of the house, and keep myself busy. But the truth is, lately I’ve felt incapable of much other than inhabiting our flat and looking out the window, so to speak. I don’t want to let the new friends we’ve made here fall by the wayside, and to them I apologize if that’s the case. I don’t want to push people away, but even so, that’s clearly emblematic of this depression.

 

I know that things will get better for me, however. I was doing great up to the start of this year, so I at the very least have something to work towards. As the other half said, today is a new day.

 

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2018, America, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Off my meds.

Edit: Some time ago, I wrote the below. I decided to come clean about my medication to the world, and to write about it. I never published it on my blog, for whatever reason. Months later, and my feelings are somewhat different. This post is more about the ‘journey’, [blegh I really do hate that phrase but in this context, it’s entirely applicable], that I’ve been on for the last few years: the decades worth of breakdowns, the ups and downs and emotions, the final realization that I do indeed need help, the development and recovery of my mental state, and at the latest stage, my decision at the time to decide to come off my medication, and the ramifications thereof. 

 

Today, I’ve indeed decided to go back on my meds. I’ve decided to seek professional help and get myself to being a healthier person on the inside. I’ve noticed a relapse in my behaviour, how I see the world, my mental state and my general outlook on life, as well as the decrease in the ability to simply get on with my life and bounce back from when I have my down periods. Those ‘dark clouds’ seem to hang about far longer these days and are far darker, hearkening back to how I was years before I started to look after myself. 

 

Its taken me this long to get here, but like someone told me recently, there’s no failure, only the next step towards your betterment. Thanks for reading. 

 

 

‘I’m coming off my meds,’ I told a new[ish] friend that I made here in San Francisco. My heart quickened as I said it, as in my mind, a world of thoughts populated themselves within my neurons.

Recently, I came to the decision to stop my medication. I’m not sure who knows if I’ve been on anti-depressants for almost three years, and at this point it doesn’t really bother me too much. I don’t feel any shame in divulging this, as mental health is something that should be spoken about in a frank, honest, congenial and even humourous manner, if we’re ok with it of course.

There’s no point hiding, as hiding things like this just exacerbates the problem. Its something difficult to speak about, but being transparent and honest is a concept that we all have to take on board in life.

I remember my husband once saying that we all have multiple ‘coming outs’ in our lives; we may come out as gay for instance. We might more than one of these instances in our lives, where we may have to open up and tell all something. For me, having depression was one such ‘coming out.’

Much of the reason I started this humble little blog was for me to process and to have an outlet; to speak about my mental health and issues and experiences pertaining to it. For years now, I’ve kept a series of cute small Moleskine A5 journals on me, which I would scribble down any thoughts and problems I was encountering. I decided to carry on this with something a bit larger and more open. It was time for me to open up and come out as it were.

 

So, why have I decided to come off my meds?

 

My medication has done so much for me, there is no denying that. It has helped me become a better person. I still recall the day I just broke down in front of my boyfriend.

 

I get chills thinking about it.

 

It would have been about 2.5 plus years ago. We were living in our homely little flat in Erskineville, and had been there for a few months at this point. We had a social life that was flowering and blooming; our friendship circles were expanding, our relationship was getting stronger. So, in hindsight, I can’t explain why I was so down. Not just with regards to mood, but my general countenance, my demeanor, how I acted. The entire thing.

 

Perhaps a large part of it was my at the time workplace. A place that, looking back, was highly unsuitable for me to work in. A place that exacted so much from me, expected so much, yet gave me nothing in return, and never made me feel like I should be there, was worthy enough or a valuable part of the team. I used to dread going there every day. My heart would sink as I would walk to work, weary of what may come each day. It started off so bright and fun. Yet a number of things occurred, and I wasn’t in a position to leave.

 

This environment in hindsight was the powder keg for everything to blow up. From the stand point of the future, everything in our past can seem logical and clockwork in its action/reactions.

 

I’ll never forget the day I had the meltdown which caused me to start my quest to get myself better. Years of not being able to come to terms with my depression, due to how I was brought up in a household where things like stress and depression and mental illnesses were simply fables and excuses were compounded the fact that I was living a lie as a kid. On some level I always knew I was different yet was unable to vocalize this. A strict Catholic all-boys school coupled with my authoritarian father will do this.

 

Suffice to say by my mid twenties, I can see now I was like an old bridge that couldn’t shoulder its burdens anymore. I remember echoes of advice and help one of my old flatmates would tell me. She was the first to say, and I can hear it in her voice still to this day:

 

‘Mate, you have depression. You really need to speak to someone and get better.’

 

She was the first to get me on this road to being better. I feel like I owe her so much, and if you read this, thank you.

 

By that fateful day however, it really felt like life was crashing down upon me. Everything felt so dire, so drawn out with complete and total fear and horror. Unless you’ve experienced this yourself, there is no easy way to explain it. Like the worst day you’ve had but multiplied by an order of ten. And the days like this continue, and it feels like it’ll never stop.

 

I just couldn’t see the good in anything. I wanted to not be present; I felt like I wanted to be in a state of non-existence. I wasn’t suicidal, it was more the sentiment that I simply wanted to never have existed in the first place. So emo, in hindsight. Thinking back to this day, I still get pangs of sadness and fear. I can still sense how heavily I was breathing, how the tears just fell out and how I was a howling mess. I never give enough credit to my now husband for being there for me. Honestly without him I really don’t know where I’d be.

 

A week later I went to the doctor to finally get some help and resolution, and more importantly, I began a mental health plan and started on medication.

 

The change was gradual, yet even just 6 months in, differences were being noticed. It wasn’t as though I was changing as a person, it was more the attitudes I had, the ability to not let the downs be so debilitating, and the highs lasting longer were becoming more pronounced and nuanced. Personally I didn’t think much was happening. It was more that others were noticing; my boyfriend, our friends.

Whereas earlier before the meds, getting me to do anything productive would have taken a very inordinate amount of effort, I became more motivated and resolute and able to simply do more with more ease, less stress and worry, and with more compunction. I became more jovial, I became more social and more willing to say yes and be a part of life. I started going to the gym regularly. I could smile easily and without feeling forced. I became a funnier person, and more likeable as a whole.

The downs and blue periods of darkness and self hate have lessened. I still get them, yet with less regularity. Right now, being jobless, these moods sometimes touch my mind. Yet, in my personal experience, I began to learn how to deal with these periods. I learned how to change my thought patterns, how to stop those self sabotaging thoughts and put them to rest. I make sure I still exercise regularly, as I have found that going to the gym has become more beneficial than relying on my meds.

 

And that, in the end, is the reason why I have decided to stop my meds. I’m now about two months down since coming off. I’ve noticed a bit of a change, but not as bad as I thought. I’m still the person I have been on the meds.

 

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Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Breaking The Rules.

I’ve never been the type to break the rules flagrantly like some who have that marvelous capacity to. Perhaps bent a little, but never shattered. I don’t know, guess I’ve never been that at the core rebel type of guy.

As a kid, I rarely broke the rules and got into trouble. Think I only ever had a single detention, and it was for something minor. I slipped through the cracks as it were. I was hardly ever singled out, I tended to make myself squirm into the shadows, or hide in plain sight. All part of being a nervous and anxious soul who was very unsure of himself and for the lack of any better terminology, clearly a latent homosexual who could’t come to this fact and face it. I was only a kid after all. One who was clearly petrified of any attention, and anybody holding him under suspicion for any reason.

This is why I never went the route of the rule-breaking rebel at school. I opted out of pursuing that class of character. I preferred to be a slinking unseen Rogue than a boisterous Bard or Fighter. Those costumes never really fit me. In hindsight, perhaps it would have done me well to be a more maverick archetype.

I still find it amazing how some teenagers are so very self aware at such a young age. I was never this. Some in their adolescence opted to be rule-breakers as a means to hid their vulnerability, some have this confidence from years of being that popular kid at school; a selection of whom carry this bravado/machismo all through their lives.

That handsome school kid who was popular and great at sports graduates, broke some rules as he was a decent, larrikin type the teachers all loved and adored who then goes on to uni or some form of further study, is popular with the girls, marries, has a kid, and still retains that singular sense of bravado and braggadocio that he had from such a young age.

 

Thank you Facebook for allowing me to facestalk former fellow school pupils.

 

 

This kind of person was at the core of what my schooling was about, and lauded over, actually. Some broke the rules but as they were lovable rogue Han Solo types, they simply got the fuck away with it. He was everyones golden boy, was almost always Captain of a Cricket or Rugby team, possibly the School Captain himself or at the very least a Prefect. He was the kid every parent wants.

Meanwhile, someone like me saw that they had to tow the line, make as little attention or fuss as possible and yet retain my independence at an early age. I mean I just really didn’t want to be there, I was such an ungainly slither of a person.

Well. Wait. Actually, I’m wrong. As I type, I guess the biggest rule I ever broke comes from all of this, actually.In hindsight, as a kid I never broke the rules per se, but when I did, boy it was a catastrophe.

I went to a quite strict Catholic all boys school [believe me it wasn’t hot like some people today think it would’ve been], whose ethos espoused terms like ‘mateship’ and ‘brotherhood.’ We wore fancy uniforms including long socks and ‘slouch’ cricket hats in primary school, [which in hindsight was cute and adorable] and particularly snappy dark coloured blazers with a gold trim in Senior school, all in an effort to indoctrinate a sense of privilege into us. There was an internal society within the school, with a system of ethics and hierarchy at its core. We were told again and again that we were lucky and priveleged to be in such an esteemed institution. Deviance was not allowed. Uniform, appearence, hair, everything was regulated. A big part of this system of ethics they instilled in us was the co-curricular program; every single student had to play a sport. It was compulsory for us to either play Rugby or Soccer. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening practice would be on, and Saturdays were for matches in the inter school competitions. We would have to wake up really early and rope one of the parents to take us to schools miles from home. Yuck, I had no time for this at all, I was far too busy eating Chilli Kettle chips and reading Star Wars novels.

Going back, I really wasn’t an ok kid. I was living on fear and doubt and on nerves. So, I was always too scared and fearful to go to tryouts for the aforementioned sports. I managed to slip my way past the tryouts my first year when I was 9 years old, and so I did the same the year after. I kept this all the way up to Year 10, when I was about 15 or 16.

I don’t know how I did it, to be honest, but I somehow kept up the pretense that I was playing a sport or co-curricular activity like Debating, [which I thought was all very stupid really, I’d rather have been at home reading] for about five years of my life. Everyone thought I was playing something, but I just never delineated upon it. I gave vague answers and would artfully change the subject when needed.

 

I really, really would have made quite a fantastic and cunning Slytherin student at Hogwarts. Honestly I would’ve ruled the place.

 

So came the day when the inevitable happened, and my shirking the rules came to light.

I was exposed.

I got called to the Sports Master’s office during afternoon Homeroom. I still recall how pale my complexion looked in a glass door as I walked to the Sports Master’s office to face my judgement. It was an expellable offence. I knew this as I had the biggest talking to of my life. I cried. It was that bad. I had my friend with me who also was quite pale at the verbal tirade I underwent. I quite honestly had the wits scared out of me. A figurative shitting of the pants as it were.

Not a month later I found myself in a school Soccer team, in the worst team the school had to offer, no less. Really, we were. The top team were the A’s, and we were D’s. Yes. D’s, all of us. I’m pretty sure we got called the D Dicks as we were so bad.

I was oddly proud of how I ended up in the worst team in the school, coached by a very enigmatic Drama teacher who clearly was out of her depth but hey good on her she was trying and so was I truth be told.

So because of my breaking the rules, I learned to feign interest in things I didn’t really want to do. An admirable trait, really.

 

Some will say its a good thing, breaking the rules. You learn more by being a rebel. You test the limits, you develop character and charm and wits, all necessary to form a rounded individual.

 

I have to say, this is also a very Australian characteristic. We tend to honour those who we regard as larrikin-rebel-maverick-underdog types. For example, Prime Minister Bob Hawke was this archetype. He loved nothing more than drinking schooners of beer with his mates in pubs and getting sloshed even while he was on duty as PM.

 

Others might say following the rules is imperative, that rules are the for a reason. For me, following the rules meant less attention cast on me, less questioning and less criticism. I reveled in being left alone and unseen.

 

Were you a rule breaker? Did you follow the rules, or did you live in that grey area between?

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2018, America, Opinion, Thoughts

Media Deprivation

This week, as part of my Artist’s Way book course, [which is a self-guided course in creative rejuvenation and recovery], I underwent what is termed as a ‘Media Deprivation’ week.

Media Deprivation could be thought of as the ‘Digital Detox’s’ cousin; similar in many respects, with similar aims and justifications for what they do, but with a slight difference in each.

So what is a Media Deprivation, you may ask?

It’s any stretch of time without any taking in of media of any sort. Kinda like a fast for your mind.

So, no reading. At all.

This is the big point that the author makes. She wants us all to stop taking in information and consuming, and start producing. Instead of reading a novel, she would have us write instead. Or paint, or jog or exercise, take up a class in language, etc. And no news means having to actually get your information from a person, not a newspaper, website or social media site, with the hopes of re-engaging with live people.

No tv, no films, no visual media at all.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I was feeling quite apprehensive. To me, all of these things are so important to most, if not all of us. Many of us rely upon social media for their livelihood, not to mention keeping in touch with loved ones and family, and most of all, for entertainment.

Believe me, I love nothing more than spending hours on Youtube watching anything and everything or wasting time on Facebook and Twitter.

And, at this point of view after having completed this Media Deprivation week, I see that I personally waste so much time on these things, not getting up to much at all.

 

So, how was it?

 

I hated it. At least at the start. The first 2 or so days felt as though I had been crushed by an anvil and deflated of any sort of emotion besides panic and boredom. I didn’t know what to do with myself besides continue on with my job hunt, write and journal, or go out for walks about town and sit in parks with my trusty journal or camera.

I felt resentful. I felt downcast and frustrated as well as panicked in those first few days. I could sense my mood darkening as I struggled to make sense of what I was to do with myself to occupy my time, and more importantly, my mind.

But, after this initial period of confusion, I did begin to notice some change. As I grew to accept the fact that I couldn’t simply google something I didn’t know, I would jot it down on a piece of paper to ask my husband when he got home. We would sit and talk, and he would look things up or inform me of things going on.

I couldn’t sit around and waste time on Youtube, so I wrote instead. It became easier for me to sit down and just start writing or typing. Anything. It didn’t have to be of any magnitude. It didn’t have to be Shakespearean prose. I just had to get writing. I began to think, ‘well, if I can’t read, I may as well be writing something’.

I noticed that my conversations with people became slightly more enriched, as I wasn’t constantly reaching for my phone and being distracted by it and its constant notifications. I was able to look people in the eye with clarity and not look away in shyness.

I felt lighter and a touch better about myself as I wasn’t going on dating apps or on Insta, with its endless parade of gorgeous gay men to make my spirits deflate.

By Wednesday I felt almost giddy as I got dressed and went to perform at the opera that night. A lightness came over me, as though I could do anything, as I skateboarded up to the grand old SF Opera house.

In the dressing room, where I would usually be stuck on my phone waiting for the call to head up on stage to perform, I instead sat there and just took it all in. The way the room looked, the heat of it as it was underground and stuffy, the fantastic costumes sitting on their racks, the din of my fellow supernumerary extras chatting away. All minor details that I may have missed, and that soon enough I would as it was my second last performance. I thought that I may never be back here so be sure to take it all in now.

I spoke to one of my compatriots, who upon asking me how I was, I responded with my being on a media deprivation week and it being a challenge. His eyes lit up and he made note that my attention and spirits seemed far more present than usual, as he noticed that I tended to be on my phone quite a bit.

We chatted briefly upon the merits of media deprivation and digital detoxes as means for clearing out the mind and helping one be aware of their usage of social media, and the repercussions thereof. He too had done some similar work and found it to be challenging yet engaging and of worth.

The next night, I attended my very first Baseball game.

I felt exhilarated and most importantly at all, present. The lights somehow shined brighter, the colours appeared far more vivid and the noise of the crowds heightened.

 

By the weekend, [which was San Francisco Pride], I felt pretty great. I’d not been on Facebook or Twitter the whole week and felt no compunction to check back in, I kept my checking on emails to a minimum and I had logged out of the apps; I enjoyed a weekend of sipping beers in sunny, packed with people Dolores park with friends; attending the Trans march, and dancing the night away.

 

The lesson that I learned from this week was that we have killed collectively the idea of ‘boredom.’.

 

We are always stimulated, much of the time overly, if not terminally, so.

We are bombarded every day, every moment from when we wake to when we sleep with imagery, sounds, visuals and new fads and memes and celebrity gossip and bad news over and over in wave after wave.

 

It feels like some kind of dystopian sci-fi nightmare sometimes. I often wonder what someone from any point up to the early 1990’s would make and think of our world today, and how we are quite addicted to social media.

Just slightly jiggling out of this all for just even a week was like taking a great big breath of fresh mountain air.

It has made me aware of how I consume and use media, specifically social media. Of how much time I waste there, how much of my life is there, and how it has caused the death of boredom. Of how neglectful I can be of interpersonal relationships.

 

Believe me, I know I won’t get rid of social media for a very long time, if at all. It is all something we do really need, and it has made our lives all the better in many ways.

 

Perhaps I’ll make it a more prolonged experience in future.

 

Still, I recall as a kid mum always saying ‘only boring people are boring’. She was kind of right, as I would always go back to my mainstays of reading or playing with lego or going bike riding down the park back in those pre-internet days of the early 1990’s. The point was, I always managed to find something to occupy my time without just simply consuming passively.

 

This last week, I found boredom to be a good thing.

It got myself busy, it got me to be more productive, thoughtful and importantly, social with everyone I came in contact with.

 

It helped me to see life a little more clearer, and to be a bit mindful of how I use all of this technology, as we’re all people underneath this shroud of social media, and I feel we are easy to forget this.

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2018, America, Gay, Gayblog

6 months later…

It’s been six months since we moved here to the US, and this past week I’ve felt really up and down. I guess as we’ve reached that six month mark I can;t help but reflect, and as humans we tend to frame our lives through measurements of time.

I’ve felt up as the weather is becoming great; the sky is clearer, the sun is out and little by little there seems to be a bit of warmth in the air. Not much as yes, this is San Francisco, and as I continually get educated by the locals, there is no Summer here. Again and again I seem to be told this.

However, Spring slowly seems to be encroaching upon us, little feelers slowly creep in. A flower blooms in the park, a leaf grows on a tree outside our flat in the drab back alley.

The seasons are changing, and its a good thing to see. We came to San Francisco right in the middle of a blustery and grey Winter. It really did seem to colour our time here initially. I can see that in hindsight. We can learn so much from looking back, and looking back to our first couple months here, I see that we really did struggle.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like, had we moved here at this time of the year, or perhaps in the middle of Summer, when everything is at its heightened best, and more things are happening. Perhaps we would’ve dealt with the change of moving countries much better than we did, perhaps not. All I know is that we moved at a particularly tough time, and now that the seasons are changing, my mood is perceptibly far loftier.

On the other side of things, I’ve felt a bit down as I still feel a bit purposeless here, having been waiting for my EAD which is a document which allows me to work here in the US to come through which took months.

However, that brings me to another stumbling block: I’m unsure of what I should do here, what job I should go after, and what it’ll be like to work here. I’ve now been out of work for almost six months so its going to be tough to readjust. I’m genuinely quite anxious about this. But, I will deal with it when I get to this.

The other big thing is I’ve also started as a volunteer extra in the opera. Which is fucking mental to be honest. I never thought I would be an on-stage extra in a professional production. I’m literally acting and running and even tumbling around on stage with professional opera singers, decked out in costumes. Crazy. As is the giant blue bruise featured on my right butt cheek from all the tumbling.

Doing something like going to an audition on a whim and getting it, and being a part of an opera is something so unlike me to do. I have never acted in my life. I’ve really tried my best to say yes more the last few months. I do this in order to grow and to experience as much in this town as I can. I’ve tried my hardest to get out and experience more and not hole myself in my flat too much. Although I still have days where I do just that.

I’m really glad I took a chance and applied to audition for the opera. It is something so unlike me that the Sydney version of me would never have done. I’m happy I didn’t just pike out and not turn up like the voice in my head was telling me to do on the day of the audition.

And that’s the thing really. This whole endeavor of moving here to the US has taught me that I need to consciously rally against that negative persona that sometimes comes to the fore in my mind. I have to willingly and purposefully fight against it, tell it to quiet down, and do the opposite of what it says. Otherwise I won’t get to do anything fun, and I’ll just be forever more in my comfort zone and miss out on so much.

The last six months have been so full of ups and downs. I’ve missed my home and family and loved ones; I’ve grappled with coming to a new country and city as well as the tasks of building a new home, a new life here.

Looking back, I start to see that I’ve done a great job of it. It has been a monumental task, but I can truly say I’ve made the most of it.

I sometimes feel like it’s almost like a strategy game that I’m playing. Like Civilization. I start with a small town, and after a while it grows and expands. Our little home here is like that. It’s a bit small now but it’ll grow month after month.

Our life here is like that. Right now it may be on the smaller side, but I know with each month as we become more established, it’ll grow more and more.

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2018, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Decision Making

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you make it? Was it the right choice?

 

The biggest decision I’ve ever had to make was to decide whether to go with my partner of 8 years to San Francisco, possibly for an indefinite time, or stay home in Sydney Australia. It’s really been the biggest, monumental and life-changing decision I have ever had to make. We’ve had to make. It was tough. It was draining.

 

It was also exciting and something to look forward.

 

It’s been just about six months since we moved. I still can’t believe that we’ve done this. I still can’t believe that I’m here. That we’ve made this seismic shift, this gigantic earth-shaking change that has indelibly transformed our lives. It’s not been easy. There have been second thoughts, concerns, arguments and fights.

Moving with a partner to another country is a very challenging thing, especially when you move so far from your home. Home for us isn’t a short plane trip away. So far from the familiar, from the known and from what is comfortable. You only have each other for support and guidance, and that can be quite a lot for just two people.

There are times when I miss my family, my home city and friends and logical family too. I’ll see a post on instagram and my heart breaks a little. Blue skies, beaches, Victorian terraces, pubs filled with people and queer parties where everyone looks so happy and bright.

We came to this decision after months and months of unending talks and discussions. Almost a year of back and forward in fact. We went over everything. Every possible outcome, scenario, issue and challenge. Pros and cons. At one point the entire thing was cancelled out as we thought it wasn’t going to happen.

We spoke and spoke and disassembled, had little tussles about it, and tried to be as honest to each other as we could. Even once it was all confirmed, we had months and months to go till we moved, as the move date kept getting pushed back. So yet more time to think and deliberate. Originally we were to move in April. Then May. Then September. And then finally November came around, and our ticket was bought. We had so much to do and take care of.

I remember the printed calendar I made and all the tasks we needed done for each day on little post-its.

No wonder we both felt so frayed and worn once we finally arrived here in SF. And in the middle of winter to add. We really don’t give ourselves enough credit.

 

Yes, at times, we have both questioned what we have done, and the choice we have made. The first few months here especially so. It felt as though we were thrown into a washing machine, spun around, rinsed repeat spun, then thrown out into this new and strange place.

We fought, we got on each others nerves, emotions became frayed as we tried our hardest, our best, to keep ourselves and our lives together. We tried hard to stay upbeat and positive, to get out more and meet people. It wasn’t easy at all. Again, really this move has been the hardest thing I personally have ever done, considerably so as I’m quite the reflective person. It is in my nature to think upon life, choices made and those encountered upon the way.

 

But, do I think this was the right choice we made, to come halfway across the world, and leave all those we love and all that we know?

 

Yes. In a heartbeat.

 

Sometimes I imagine what life would have been like if we stayed in Sydney, and the opportunity to move to America never came up. Life would be sublime. Comfortable. Bucolic. Fun. Always full of laughs and light and sun. That rhymed. I actually didn’t mean for it to.

 

But, nothing would have changed. I know this. I would have stayed in this comfort zone for such a long time. I feel as though my growth would have been stunted, and we would be in static. As much as I miss the place and the loved ones there [really I do], moving to another country and town has been the best thing for me. You need change in life in order to evolve and experience. Sometimes we need to be picked up and shook about.

 

My regret would be if we didn’t do this. The regret would be impossible for me to live with. I would hate myself for not giving it a go. I picture myself in this alternate world where we never moved, and I imagine myself living in San Francisco, and I can feel the envy.

I’m in the right place. I can feel this with every part of me, and I don’t regret our decision for a second.

 

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make?

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Ten years ago.

We often look ahead without taking the time to look at how far we’ve come.

Today I thought on what my life was like ten years ago.

 

Ten years ago, in 2008, my life would have looked like this:

 

I would have been about a year into my Photography degree back in Sydney, which I can say I remember fondly. I did have a lot of fun going to the art college I attended, and living the life of an art student.

Relatively carefree, at the peak of my creativity. Living life in a light and harmless manner.

Sometimes, I do miss that carefree aspect of life that many like myself were lucky enough to have had, even for a few short years. I really do wish I had made more out of it and experienced more of life back then, but I refuse to put myself down anymore, as life only gets better with each passing month and year.

I remember the flexibility, the freedom, the time spent working on tasks that felt so very important in my life. I remember the staff there, including the sweet and amiable head of photography, as well as the arrogant teacher whose ideas were terrible and lied about his past experiences [he once claimed to have taken photos of Twiggy and designed an Electric Light Orchestra cover], as well as his almost opposite in the form of the most capable, sweet and genius teacher whose skill in lighting was phenomenal.

How to light something correctly. How to edit something with finesse in photoshop.

The irony is, all of that is pretty much now done away with.

It’s a funny thing, realising you may have wasted years of your life on a discipline that was dying, and now a decade later, really kind of is in its death throes. Instagram really did a number on photography. At times, I do regret having not switched over to graphic design as I know it would have been far more applicable and adaptable for a career. Mistakes are made to be learnt from.

However, the truth is, I write this in another country and in a relationship with a guy who would change my life just a year later.

Had I not attended this art school or even did photography there, the chances are we would never have met, and I wouldn’t be writing this in San Francisco. Most likely I would not be writing this at all.

Ten years ago I would have been right in the midst of agonising depression. I spent years living with this without any help or assistance or outreach, and it would be a very long time indeed until I would work on this part of myself. My moods ran to darkness very easily; I found it difficult to enjoy life. I found it difficult to make lasting friends.

I felt so isolated and alone. This is the aspect of this time in my life I recall vividly. I craved any human contact with anybody, and by this point in life I was almost entirely celibate. I worked weekends at restaurants owned by relatives; a gruelling, thankless and difficult line of work I now refuse to go back to. I rarely had the opportunity to go out as after a shift on a Saturday night I tended to head home from exhaustion. Sometimes, we may have gone to a local pub for a drink perhaps. I think I may have been to a gay bar only a few times at this point.

Besides attending bars and clubs, back then there was really no way to meet people like today with apps and social media. All of that was still in its infancy and only just starting to gain traction. I still had a flip phone Motorola Razr which I absolutely adored and consider the best phone I ever had.

So, meeting people was tough.

I did have a friendship with someone in this year; which in hindsight meant something very different for the both of us. It was a very heightened, almost manic friendship. We hung out a lot and did a lot together. This time was replete with emotion, and confusion, and a lack of awareness and intention that I subsequently learned from. We had a lot of fun, yet this friendship ultimately ended for a number of reasons, and did not end in the most positive manner, which took quite the while for me to work through and process.

But, like everything, we all learn from our past transgressions.

Thinking back to this point in my life, it was rife with aimlessness, a sense of airiness, confusion, insecurities. And a lackadaisical attitude generally towards the future. It’s difficult for me to reflect too much on this time. Yet I can see just how far I have come.

Physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m a far more centred and relaxed person. I am far more confident in myself and my abilities. I am in a great relationship. I have lived and experienced life in as best a way I can and will continue to do so.

 

What were you doing 10 years ago?

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