…be a hero.

It doesn’t matter how bad your problems are,

They will always tell you someone has it worse,

Nobody is going to care,

Til you tie that rope and kick the fucking chair.

I read this quote, and I started crying. I literally welled up and began to weep. It’s all too familiar. All to close. I’ve been there…sitting. Pondering. Contemplating. I’ve looked at my phone at 9:47 and played the “if I don’t receive a sign before 10:00, then that’s it. I’m done” This usually goes again until 10:15, 10:25, 10:45… The thing is, there’s only the potential outcomes to this situation. I’m going to either A-receive a sign…a phone call, someone finding me, whatever it may be. B-over the course of however many rounds of “let’s wait until” I chicken out or calm own and change my mind. Or C-carry out the task.

There’s always going to be those that tell you that “so-and-so has it worse”. There will be people that will think you’re being over-dramatic. There will be people that will flat-out call you a liar. And those are the people that will push you to that edge… to the point you just don’t know what to do. You feel like you’ve completely run out of options. But the thing is, that’s all bullshit!! There are people who care. It may not be your family, but if you open your eyes and look…you’ll find it. I’m extremely fortunate. I grew up in an amazing home. I have siblings that love me and care for me. I married into an equally amazing family where I have felt nothing but love. We live in a small community full of genuine, caring people. I’m blessed. I have it so good!! But on those days, when the darkness sweeps over and the chaotic haze sets in…on those days, none of that matters. I might as well be a castaway, left for dead in the street surrounded by strangers. I’m scared. I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m dying.

Here’s my problem. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I find social interaction can be stressful, awkward, and create huge anxiety. I prefer have everything bottled inside of me instead. I’ll try to act as if I’m the happiest guy in the world. And I’ll act as if I have the perfect life. I play that happy character so well, that even I begin to believe it. I’ll actually lose focus on my fears, with my fears losing grip on me. I’ll be so happy all day. But as soon as I lay my head in bed at night the thoughts come back. They always come back.

I have three children. Two living, one that passed away 6 years ago. They literally are my world. I cannot imagine life without them. It’s been extremely difficult figuring out and knowing when, where, and how much they should be let in to the truth. My daughter is 9…and smart. She gets it. She doesn’t understand, but she knows it’s there. She knows I cut myself when I’m “sad”. She knows I spent time in a Psych Hospital to get better. She knows I take “crazy pills”. My 5 year old, he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t attempt to get it. He doesn’t care. But kids are kids. They’re genuine. They’re honest. They tell you exactly what they think, tact-free. Do you know what my kids see when they look at me. They don’t see dark, empty eyes. The don’t see fear. The don’t see and anxious tremors running through my arms to my fingers. They don’t see a loser. They don’t see a failure. And they sure as hell don’t see someone who is better off dead.

No. The see me. They see Daddy. They see they’re hero. They want to be just like me. The tag along in the garage just to spend time with me. They curl up and snuggle to a movie. They literally borderline worship their dad. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the world…looking at life, specifically my life, from the eyes of a child. I am important. I am loved. I am talented. So tonight, when I tucked my kids in I couldn’t help but look at them through their doors and think to myself… “there’s my babies…and I’m there Hero!!”

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…there is hope. (**trigger warning**)

This is by far the most difficult post I’ve ever written, and I’m sure for many of you it will be a tough one to read. I’ve started this entry many times over, but it’s always too hard to try and put into words. To give you a heads up, it is my account of a suicide attempt. It may be a trigger for some, and it may be disturbing to others as well. I like to look at it as a testimony of hope.

…I turned back to see the tail lights disappear down the street. The day was long. The day was hard. I sat down on the front step. I looked up into the vast darkness. I pulled my hood up over my head, buried my head in arms, and cried.

I struggle with self-hate. It’s the biggest hurdle that’s holding me back…by far. I’ve been told countless times now that if I don’t learn to forgive myself and start liking myself, I’m never gong to be able to “get better”. But it’s not going to happen. Not now. Not next week. Not ever. How can it? How can I forgive myself? Let me put it this way…everyone has someone that they hate. Or at least you have at some point. But for now, just think of someone that just rubs you the wrong way. They’ve lied to you. They’ve hurt you too many times to remember, and they actually seem to enjoy hurting you. They don’t even let you carry out daily tasks because they are constantly nipping at your heels. You try to be nice. You try to be polite. But they just don’t take a hint. Then you have that sense of relief…that feeling of freedom when you finally get home, close that door, and bask in the quiet calm freedom you have created. You all know that feeling of relief…when that person that annoys you doesn’t notice you and just walks by. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt it.

I can hear the kids through the door. I can hear my wife trying to calm them down…and I can hear her getting more and more frustrated with them. I flip open the calendar on my phone…hockey night. I can’t handle a hockey night. Not right now. Not feeling like this. I’ve spent the whole day at work reminding myself just how big a piece of shit I am. It’s pretty incredible, really, just how exhausting it is to beat yourself down. I am spent. Physically spent. Mentally numb. Emotionally dead. I can’t deal with them right now. I can’t deal with myself right now. I literally just want to be gone…

But what do you do when that person won’t leave? Or worse yet, when that person is actually you? Welcome to the world of self-hate. You hate yourself. You get yourself right worked up about how stupid you are. How useless you are. How much you just want you to disappear. To leave. To die. You try to busy yourself…to distract yourself. But you can’t hide. You can’t get away. You put on your headphones and pound yourself numb with music, but eventually the music stops. It always stops. And when it does, guess who’s there? That’s right…that slimy piece of shit you just spent the whole day trying to get away from. That, friends, is what I think I can very accurately call “hell”.

I open the door. I don’t even get the door closed behind me and I’m telling Sherry I can’t do it. I can’t go to the kids hockey. Not tonight. Not like this. Of course she’s frustrated. She’s spent the last two hours trying to get the kids organized after school. Getting them fed. Getting their gear together and having them ready to leave when I got home. “You should really come…the fresh air will do you good, and the rink is one of your “happy places”. My heels were firmly planted. I was not budging. My wife was frustrated. My wife was hurt. My wife was exhausted. So what do I do? Why, I lash out and make everything a hundred times worse, of course. She gives in. She takes the kids, and I’m alone.

My logical side can see how I should be able to work through this. My counselling really does make sense, but it’s like my mind refuses to allow things to compute at anything beyond an observation level. I firmly believe that I’ll get what I deserve. Like I said in an earlier post, I’m almost certain that I will end my own life at some point. The reason for that…I just can’t stop hating myself. I don’t think I deserve to be happy. In the ‘grande scheme of things’, I think the world would be better off without me. Without my mistakes. Without the hurt I cause. Without the influences I have in others lives. You can tell me all you want that that’s not true. That I deserve a good life. That I’m a good person. But at the end of the day, I won’t believe you. Even if I convince myself that I’m not so bad, when my head hits that pillow and my mind opens up, it’s pure hate.

I sit on the piano stool, face in my hands, crying…again. I look continually at the clock, then when I know hockey’s started and Sherry won’t be home, the darkness in my mind wins. Literally everything on the outside disappears. I remember the walk like it was yesterday. Moving snow pants and backpacks to get to the door. Right now the sound in my head is absent. Just like the sound of being underwater…muffled silence that is somehow deafeningly loud. I close the garage door behind me and sit on the floor. I don’t remember thinking. I don’t remember any internal dialog. I’m not processing, but I know exactly what I’m doing. On the floor is a towrope. I’ve many times come out and worked that rope. I’ve formed it into a noose so many times I’m sure I could do it with my eyes closed. I’d tie it, then sit on the floor, rope around my neck, until the feelings of hate lessoned. Then I’d untie the noose and go back inside. But today was different. There were no feelings. There were no thoughts that I was fighting. I made the noose the same as I always have, but rather than hang it around my neck, this time I secured it to the overhead door rails.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that life isn’t fair. I wish it was, but it’s not. When I was twenty-eight years old, I buried my son. I have never in my life prayed harder. I have never in my life been more supported. I have never in my life wanted anything as much as I wanted that boy to live. But I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t prevent what happened. I gave up on him. I agreed to have him taken off life support, then I spent a month in the hospital watching MY SON slowly die. I’ve spent countless hours at my boys grave…just laying there. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I yell and scream. Sometimes I’m terrified. But it’s comforting. It’s calming. It’s one of my most favourite places to be. And before I leave, I always apologize.

“Can you come home?”

“Ok”

“I’m in the garage”

As I put my head through the noose I never even felt any fear. There was no second guessing. No questioning what I was about to do. I was calm. Calm and focused. It’s not that I wanted Sherry to ‘find me’…but that I didn’t want her to open the garage with kids in the car to see their dad hanging there. I knew the kids were at hockey, and she’d be coming alone. I had 10-15minutes before she’d be there. I closed my eyes, everything went quiet. I tipped the stool over and dropped.

Panic!! Absolute panic. Intently all air was gone. I was able to get my fingers on one hand in the rope, but the more I moved, the tighter it got. I desperately reached for anything with my feet. I was able to reach the fallen stool with my toes and take a little bit of the weight off, but the rope was tight and there was no breathing. Everything started getting cloudy. I closed my eyes and everything went red. I opened them to see my wife running towards me. I remember the garage door opening, and then I was sitting on my knees on my garage floor in my wife’s arms, sobbing. 

I was flooded with emotions. Still looking back, I get bombarded with emotions. That minute or so of panic was the scariest moments of my life. Absolute helplessness. I am thankful to be alive. But there’s also anger and frustration. I failed. So often now I get down on myself and the thoughts of “if you would have just done it right” fill my mind. But I do know that I’m alive for a reason. It’s not the first time I’ve been “saved” from suicide in one way or another. You see, Sherry wasn’t at the arena like I thought. I never got the 15 minutes I planned on. Sherry was upset over how things left off when I got home. She was out driving with her dad. She was literally at the end of our street when she got the text. She was there in a matter of minutes. Now I am a man of faith…and I believe this was no coincidence. And even though my demons have me convinced that one day I WILL take my own life, it’s those times that I was saved that I cling to. They are my hope.

There is always hope.

#TBT …stepping out

For I guess sort of a “throw back Thursday” I go back 194 days to my very first blog post. It seems like forever ago!! My writings still choppy as ever. My problems have not gone away. And I still have as many down days as up. But…I have hope. And that, 194 days ago seemed even more distant!! #hope

I recently celebrated my 34th birthday, and with that I did the regular coming to terms with the reality that I’m not as young as my mind likes to convince myself that I am. Having an end of January birthday also gives you a ‘do-over’ for all my failed New Years resolutions…and this year was no different. So here they are: (1) Eat Healthy/Get in Shape/Feel Good (so simple, yet so required to be made…Every. Single. Year.) (2) Do more with family (and friends) My wife got me camping gear for Christmas, so I’m already looking forward to putting that to use this summer. (3) Build stuff!! I know this is very broad, and leaves lots of room for variety…but I want to build stuff. Accomplish things. Let my creativity unfold. (4) To write…which is what brings me to starting this blog today.
I find that birthdays also bring on a time of reflection…looking back on the year that was. Analyzing, evaluating, and critiquing. And let me tell you, this year was something else!! From start to finish, the best way that I can describe it is that 33 was that unexpected punch in the chest that completely knocks the wind right out of you. It started out slow, built up into an absolute whirlwind in the middle, and in many ways both extreme hurt and numbness to end things off. This last year was one for the books. I wish I could say it was forgettable…but it’s not. It’s all too memorable.
I told my wife, Sherry, that I wanted to start a blog. I’ve wanted to start writing. She’s wanted me to write. It seemed like perfect timing to get on that. Seemed, being the key word. “What do you want to blog about?” she asked. Especially after this last year I had no doubt in my mind what I wanted to share. “My Life…a window into my life. A little bit of what I go through, how I see things, and what it’s like to live with someone like me.” For those of you that know Sherry, and to those of you that don’t, my wife is an extremely private person. She hates attention, avoids surprises, and is completely content just blending in. I threw a “30 and Fabulous” surprise party for Sherry, and my biggest fear was that she was going to HATE the surprise. To soften the blow, I told her there was going to be a party, when that party was going to be, and what to wear. To her I don’t know what would have been worse…the surprise, or the anticipation of the unknown. Bottom line is it was a great party. She’s now 32, and still absolutely fabulous!! But the thought of putting our private life on display in any way struck literal fear in my wife. At first she very much resisted, but over time that resistance lessoned, and here I am today…writing my first blog entry with the support of the most beautiful ‘proof-reader’ I could ask for.
I don’t know what my expectations are with this. I don’t even know who or how many people will even read it. But what I do know is that I want it to be real…a passage into my life. To make myself vulnerable, and break down walls I have spent years building up. It’s putting my life on display in hopes that I can maybe give a little encouragement to ‘people like me’. And to shed some light for those who have to live with, or simply don’t understand what makes us tick. Why we are the way we are, think the way we think…my life, my reality, and my future.
My name is David Stone, and I live with Mental Illness. There, I said it. And with hearing those words, most are struck with awkward discomfort. Lost on how to respond. How to react. And most importantly…how to change the subject, close that door, and put a lid on that box. No one wants to know or hear anything about a grown man who’s ‘off his rocker’. That’s a book that’s best left closed on the top shelf…out of reach. Out of sight. Out of mind. There’s a stigma that comes with mental illness, and my opinion is that stigma is rooted deep in misunderstanding, misinformation, and in many cases complete ignorance. That’s what my approach is hoping to influence…I want you to get to know me. My challenges, my struggles. Accomplishments and failures. A taste of life both as a person living with mental illness, and those having to go through life with that person. I don’t intend to put myself or my family on display. I’m not looking for accolades or sympathy. Not to sound cliché, I hope to in some way be a voice to those who read this… Family. Friends. And you who somehow stumble across this. To shed some light on what it’s like living under the label of ‘mental health’, and in some way… #stopthestigma(<cliche overload)
We all know someone who suffers from some form of mental illness. Wether it be anxiety, depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia, or any others. We’ve seen the impacts it has on their lives, and the lives of those close to them. It’s difficult, it’s challenging, and in many ways it’s overwhelming. But…it doesn’t have to be defeating. Life is most definitely different, but I’m slowly learning that that doesn’t mean it has to be worse. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I never once thought of it as an illness, but just the way I was. It came and it went. Many days were better than others, and I grew accustomed to it. Not knowing any differently, it all just seemed normal. Looking back, the area that had the biggest effect on my life, and still continues to this day, is in the area of trust. I’m not a completely untrusting person…not even close. But to trust someone to the point of making myself vulnerable to them is nearly non-existent. I’ve had many friends over the years, but I’ve only allowed a few to get close. I’ve never been one to have ‘best friends’, to have people to confide in…or people to confide in me. Closeness and intimacy scares me to the core. This is a fear I fight daily, and I expect to fight for as long as I live. It’s just one of the realities that is my life.
This past spring/summer there were a series of events that ultimately led to my diagnosis as having ‘Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder’, or BPD. My depression and anxiety were spiking more than they ever had before, and I was becoming increasingly erratic and irritable. Sherry finally convinced me to see a doctor about antidepressants and mood stabilizers. This was just the beginning of what is proving to be the most challenging phase of my life. I got hit very hard by the Robyn Williams suicide. That really carved into me the reality that this depression/anxiety is not something that’s just going to go away. I began to self-harm, which until this point is something I was able to keep hidden and under control. The self-harm led to a trip to RUH emergency, which resulted in getting admitted to the Dube Centre for Mental Health. It was during my stay here that I was diagnosed with having BPD. My life since then has been, and continues to be a time of major adjustment, both for myself and my family. I work only 80% now because of my new reality, which is counselling once or twice a week, as well as regular appointments with my psychiatrist.
I guess to end off this first entry I’d like to leave you with who I am: Yes, I’m BPD. Yes, I’m suicidal (yet so far not successful. <-(captain obvious)) Yes, I’m medicated. Yes, I have a life filled with therapy and psychiatrists. Yes, I self harm…as I write this I’m looking at my most recent stitches on my arm. But that’s not all that I am. I am a caring father, a loving husband, and a considerate friend. And also very importantly, I’m working my ass off to learn how to take control back of my life. I know BPD will never go away, but I also know that through hard work I can become in control OF it, and not suffer being controlled BY it. Here is a quote that I love. I share it quite regularly with Sherry, as I feel it describes quite accurately the person she has been strong enough to live with for the last 15 years of our lives.
“I’m not an easy person to be with. I know that. I probably won’t even try to make it easy for you. I’ll be real difficult at times. It may seem, at times, I don’t want you, and I don’t like you, but I do. I’ll be a challenge, because I’m not the type of person who people walk all over. I’m not the person who puts up with bullshit. I’m not the person who will give you sympathy comments. When I say something, I mean it. If people are assholes to me, I cut them out of my life. I’m annoying, I’m hilarious, and I’m the worlds biggest jerk. I’ll make you want to scream and punch walls; I’ll ruin your day and then save it at the very last minute. I’ll drive you crazy and, sometimes, you’ll hate my guts. But even though all that’s going to happen, and I swear it will, I have an amazing side to me. I do. I have a giant heart. I’ll always be there when you need me. Even if my life is impossibly knotted, I’ll try and untangle yours by listening and loving. I won’t sop caring about you, not even if you push me away. You’re different from everyone else, and I like that. It’s refreshing to find someone different in the world because way too many people are all the same.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Feel free to comment, and please…if you know anyone who might be interested in or be of benefit to what I have to say, please pass this on. Until next time,

Thanks again.

Dave

  

…let me have it!!

I’ve been blogging for about nine months now, and I’m asking for some feedback. Many of you have cemented or sent messages, which I’m so grateful to receive. But now I’m ASKING you for some feedback. I know I’ve read some blogs that have been incredibly helpful for me in “figuring myself out”. I hope that I can help others in the same way. So please, let me know what you think!! Send me a message letting me know IF you find things helpful, or beneficial. Let me know where I can make improvements…I’m not a great writer, so feedback on that side would be awesome. I’m really hoping to expand and reach a broader group of readers, but don’t want to do so until I’m confident what I’m doing is worth while. Thanks in advance… And thanks for reading and all the support!!Grateful,

Dave

…my suicide.

I have made a point of trying to keep my blog “my story” rather than a general opinion. Some of my thoughts definitely are not ‘across the board’ feelings, but they are all where I’m at. I want to keep this my focus. Keeping my blog about me. Where I’m at. My progress. My decline. Its personal. It’s authentic. It’s not comfortable. And it’s not easy for me to do…but I feel it’s important. I feel it’s helpful and beneficial to me, and I hope it can influence and help others as well.

There’s a few things I’ve discovered since starting this whole blogging thing. First…it’s much harder than I expected. I mean, when I started it was easy to pump out entries day after day. Now I’m lucky to post once a week (which I am hoping to change, by the way). Second…if you want to weed out your friends and followers on social media, talk about suicide. People don’t like that. It’s not comfortable…it’s not “appropriate”…people simply would rather just not know. My thought is those people I simply don’t need in my life anyway. Thirdly…if you want to gain a lot of followers, simply hashtag #churchstigma #churchcoverup or #churchhypocrisy. People lap that up like gravy. But I’m going to weed out a few more of you today, because my topic of choice is, you ready? …my suicide. And to some of you, this is farewell.

The comment I hear all the time, and I’ve said this before, is “I just don’t understand…” Which my answer to that is, “of course you don’t understand… I don’t understand.” You hear “suicide is selfish”, “suicide is cowardly”, “suicide is attention seeking”. All of those have some truth behind them…the attention seeking I would argue against more strongly. Suicidal threats, yes, are often times empty and attention seeking. However, every suicidal threat or consideration EVER uttered is a cry for help. And as a little FYI strictly from my own experience…nothing tips you more when you’re in a suicidal state than hearing someone make light of your situation. You might not agree with where someone’s at. You might not even believe they are where they’re at. Maybe they are ‘attention seeking’. But if that’s what you think, especially if you’re not close to me, shut up and keep your expert opinions to yourself. 

I’ve been suicidal my entire adult life. That doesn’t mean I’m a ticking timebomb ready to blow. I’ve had times, for sure. Many of them. But far more often than not I’m completely stable. But, I have always believed that’s how I’m going to die. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. And maybe it won’t even happen…but it’s what I believe. And I very strongly believe it. I have a daughter. She’s nine years old. One day she’s going to grow up, get married, and have her own family. It’s what I believe. It might not happen. Maybe she’ll stay single…never marry, never have kids. But I believe she will. To me, in all likelihood she will. I can do things to try and prevent it. I can do things to try to delay it. But it’s likely going to happen no matter what. Sometime. Somehow.

This is exactly how I look at suicide. I just believe it’s going to happen. Sometime. Somehow. I can do things to prevent it, which I am. I can do things to delay it, which I am. But I believe it’s going to happen. And it’s a horrible feeling.

Nobody looks forward to dying…at least not at thirty-four. It’s not something I want to happen. It’s not something I’m excited about. Death is pretty permanent. But when you believe you’re going to die. When you believe you deserve to die. And you believe the world will be happier and better off without you here, then the idea of death becomes far more attractive. And how do you prevent it? I’ve done my firearm safety course, but refuse to send it in because the idea of firearms in my house scares the shit out of me. My wife has stashed away roped from my garage, but new ones are only $20 away. I’ve got enough meds ground into powder and ready to be cubed to easily kill me…I think. There will always be knives. There will always be bridges. There will always be cars. There will always be multiple options. Suicide is unavoidable. It is physically unpreventable. Mentally it feels damn near impossible. 

There’s so much more to share than this. This barely scratches the surface. But my lunch break is over, so for now this will have to do. If I still have followers, friends, and readers I’ll continue with my thoughts in another post. As always, feel free to comment or share. I love hearing feedback.

Dave

…happines

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… I’m not a great writer. My grammar sucks. Composition a mere shot in the dark. My spelling is atrocious, thank you spellcheck!! Actually, my spelling is so bad that I’ve omitted so many cool, words because spellcheck can’t even figure out what I’m trying to say. So no, I’m not a great writer. But I love writing!! Sometimes I write to vent. Sometimes I write to encourage. Sometimes I write to shine light on living with mental health. But I write. And you read. So many of you read. Now over 7,500 of you have read, which to me is insane…go get girlfriends, or hobbies, or ice cream. (kidding…I’m so glad you read) I’ve been published more than a half dozen times in online mental health magazines. I really am blessed!!

Now here I’m going to attempt something a little bit different. I’m going to try my hand at some poetry. I love reading poetry…I’ve tried writing it before, never with much success. The last month has been extremely tough for me. In so many ways I’m completely lost to what’s going on. Happiness has been drained for years, but lately it feels so much like just a fleeting memory. So here goes…happiness.

…happiness

people talk about you …happiness

like you’re free for all to receive;

But with a life so overgrown with anguish,

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

.

people talk about you …happiness

this warm-fuzzy, contagious thing;

while i spend most my life in sadness,

anger, torment, lonely suffering.

.

when I see you …happiness, you ignore me

if i look at you you drift away;

then there’s times you feel so close to touch,

but then my fears comes to sweep you away.

.

I see you touching others lives …happiness

with love, with warmth, with grace;

Like an artist you once knew me too,

and brushed a smile on my face.

.

i’ve mad it a life goal of mine …happiness 

to be brim-filled with you one day;

whether it be weeks, four months, three winters,

maybe after the kids graduate.

.

the point is i won’t give up fighting for you …happiness,

however long this great journey may be;

through rivers, and mud, and scary dark roads

i’d risk crossing the vast, angry sea.

.

people talk about you …happiness

and there’s definite glimpses i see;

moments of you holding and warming my heart,

leaving memories that will always remind me

.

but i don’t want to have just memories anymore,

i want to have you all day and all night;

i want to hold you, to protect you, to keep you for good

but for now i’ll cherish these moments and fight.

Be happy! Be blessed!! Hug a Borderline…

Dave

…battle wounds

“I think scars are like battle wounds – beautiful in a way. They show what you’ve been through & how strong you are for coming out of it.”

– Demi Lovato

I Instagram’d this quote earlier today. It’s a quote that i read quite regularly…I’ve got it saved on my phone, it’s shared often on Mental Health sites, and you google “mental health quotes” and it’s sure to pop up. But as much as I love the quote…I love the triumphant overtone amidst the soft and subtle almost romantic undertone. It’s a beautiful quote by an equally beautiful advocate for mental health. But where I get hung up…I’m not there. I’ve got scars… I’ve got hundreds of them. And they are most definitely battle wounds. But there’s nothing beautiful about them. I haven’t been ‘through’ anything. I am stuck in the midst of a battle that has no beginning and no foreseeable end. There’s no ‘through’ on the horizon, no matter how distant I strain to see. The idea of strength and perseverance is what I have, and the hope of coming out is what I cling to. Persistence. Perseverance. Hope.

I have a love/hate relationship with my scars. I don’t hide them. I want to hide them. I want more than anything to just cover them up and pretend they’re not there. But I’ve made a point to not hide them. You see, I did an amazing job of keeping things together. I’ve really struggled with depression/anxiety for as long as I can remember. It got really bad when I went away to boarding school for grade twelve. But I was always able to keep things under wraps. I made it through all my years of high school, two years of college, and ten plus years beyond that keeping everything bottled in. I found my ways to cope. To blow off energy. But mostly I hid. Sleeping in as long as possible became routine. I stayed up late at night because thats when I could most easily be alone. I had friends, but no close friends. I never allowed anyone to get close…that might result in me having to open up. I learned early how to appear social. Extremely social even. If you look at your story as a book, I had a theory. Say your book is twelve chapters long. I very easily opened myself up to say chapter five without any prompting. This usually was more than enough to satisfy any questions people had. I opened up quicker and easier than most, to that point, then the book closed. I let very few people read beyond chapter five. Like count on your fingers few. You got it…it’s depressing, but I’ve had single digit close friends. Everyone else I kept at a safe distance. I do it to this day. It’s something I’m working on, but I have ridiculous trust issues that I’m just unwilling to get past. Hopefully in time…you know, when I “see how strong I am for coming out”.

But I consciously decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. As much as I was able to bottle things up and cope, the thought of suicide has always been there. It actually goes beyond that…I’ve dreamed of suicide many times. It scares the shit out of my wife every time I say this, but I am 99% confident that that is how I’m going to die. I don’t know why…it’s not that I’m wanting to go off myself tomorrow or anything. This isn’t my “note” or farewell or anything like that. It’s just that’s where my belief has always been. It’s a seed planted deep, I guess. Last spring was when the thoughts started becoming more and more prominent. My dreams were getting darker, and it was getting harder and harder to manage and block out the chaos in my mind. I made many late night drives out to the bridge. Some with intention, others just to scream. (screaming does help, by the way). I ended up spending some time in the mental health centre after I had gone a little excessive with the self harm. It was coming out of the hospital that I decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. My kids were aware of them, and I didn’t want them to feel they needed to hide or lie to people about their dad because I was trying to keep private. The scars aren’t going anywhere. It’s live with them, or spend my life continuing to hide.

So I bare my arms. I don’t do it proudly…quite the opposite. I am very much embarrassed and ashamed of my arms. I hate the fact that my daughter is already having to explain to her friends that her dad cuts himself when he’s “sad”. I’m terrified that she’s going to see this as an acceptable way to deal with pain. But at the same time, what do I do. I feel like people are staring at me all the time. I go crazy trying to figure out what they are thinking. Just today I got asked to look at my tattoos. I turned around to show, and her eyes locked on what are five not yet healed cuts. She didn’t know what to say…I didn’t know what to say. SCARS SUCK!! I hate them so bad.

BUT…ready for this? I love my scars!! Confusion…but you just went on for 915 words (according to my word counter in the corner of my screen) about how much you hated your scars… Yes. Yes I did. But many of those cuts came when I wanted nothing more than to end my life. I fought and wrestled with my demons to not take that drive. To put away that rope. To lower the blade from my throat, and to turn over that wrist. Cutting has literally saved my life on multiple occasions. That’s not to say I don’t need to find better ways to cope… I most definitely do. But when I look at my arms I can remember the moments that drove me to cut. I remember the battles being waged in my mind. And I remember how that cut made all those thoughts go away.

I hope that one day I can look at my scars romantically beautifully. A testimony of what I’ve been through and come out of. But for now they are just battle wounds. Affirmation of the mental hell I’m trapped in. A reminder of my minds desires which my heart and my will have to this point prevailed. Yes, my scars are battle wounds…but they are a far cry from beautiful.

…mind > brain.

“Tell Dave I’m proud of him. He did a full week!!😊 and probably wasn’t easy but he did it!!

It was with Sherry sharing that text with me from my mother-in-law that I realized a few things. Firstly…it’s been 10 months since the last time I worked a five day week. That’s crazy to think of…I’ve literally worked four or fewer days a week for the better part of a year now. I never even really paid much attention to that. I know I’m in counselling at least one day a week, so it makes sense. And even when it hasn’t been counselling there’s been days that I’ve gotten myself worked up. I’ve been too down to function. I’ve freaked out and cut myself and had to go home. But surely there had to have been some weeks in there I toughed it out? Not even one? Nope…not even one. 

I went into the hospital the end of August last year. The long and the short of it was I mixed a lot of meds with a lot of alcohol and carved myself up. I had cuts up both arms, across my chest, the sides of my neck and across my throat, and across my face and forehead. I was home alone, and actually texted a “selfie” of me cut up to a bunch of people…messed up, I know. Some were family, some were friends, some…I don’t really even know. As a result though I ended up in RUH ER. (And on a side note, my house getting searched through by RCMP…that’s what happenes when you mass-text self-harm pics, FYI) But little did I know that that night…taking those pills and sitting on the floor drinking as much and as fast as I could, would end up altering my life in so many ways. Life-changing, to say the least. 

Being in the Dubè (Dubè Centre for Mental Health) was…interesting. At first I really didn’t want to be there. At. All. But after talking with the Psych nurses and doctors there I decided that it could be a good thing. I now saw glaringly that my life was decaying. That I was in a downward spiral that I needed help with. But there’s one problem. And it’s a really big problem. My mind…not my rational brain, but my mind, does not see it that way. I’m a smart guy. I can see that I have issues that I need to work through. That I am a danger to myself. It’s clear. It’s obvious. But that’s my brain talking there. My mind, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with my brains logical thinking. My mind is easily threatened. My mind catastrophizes everything. My mind is completely anti-trusting. My mind will have me sabotage  anything and everything that gets in my way. My mind pretty much sucks.

But like I said earlier, I am a smart guy. I sat with Sherry in the Dubè one of the first days. We were waiting to see one of the psychiatrists, and I said to Sherry “I’m going to lie my way out of here, you know…” Did I want to be there? Of course not…who in their right mind wants to be in a mental hospital. But I knew that I needed to be there. I knew it was the best thing for me. But there was beginning to be a shift. My mind was voicing louder and louder its destructive opinions. The clutter and chaos in my mind was getting harder and harder to sift through. What made sense now seemed threatening. I was paranoid and on edge. I was now on the defensive.

I’ve gotten, and continue to get lots out of my counselling. It’s definitely not a waste of time. But as soon as I’m uncomfortable with where things are going I start lying. Either to change the direction things are going, to avoid more questions, or to make them see progress. I went into a session feeling like garbage. I was angry. I was hurting. I was lost. I filled out the stupid chart you have to do, my counsellor looked at it and said “oh, it looks like you’re doing better this week than last week…” My response… “Yes, I am.” Everything I went in there wanting to talk about went out the window. I stopped thinking with my brain and my mind took over. There was an hour of lying, basically, to fill up that session.

And it’s frustrating. After 10 months, that’s still where I’m at. I lie whenever things get uncomfortable. I lie to avoid questions and conversation. I lie to make the conversation end. I lie to get what I want. But want to hear the stupid thing? I lie to hurt myself. I lie to punish myself. When things feel like they’re starting to look up, I’ll lie to hurt someone, usually my wife, which in turn hurts me. I’ve missed countless events because of lying to myself…but I just can’t push my mind away.

…i am, a loser

You know it’s coming!! For those of you that follow me on Facebook or Instagram, and if you aren’t, why aren’t you?!? (IG – @inkeddad_2.0 or FB – https://www.facebook.com/hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight <–click link). But I posted today about an incident that happened that I’ve never had to deal with before… and I kind of left the door wide open to expand my thoughts.

I’ve been working up in PA for about a month now. I’m a carpenter, and we’re finishing out a condo complex up there. There’s some things about PA that might kind of help give you a feel for the setting. First off, I love PA… I really do. It’s a great little city cut into Parkland forest with a beautiful river valley. Some observations I have made, however… 8Ball leather jackets are still beIng represented by a scattered few. (Side note…I confess, I was the owner of an 8 Ball leather jacket. I got it 22 years ago, I was 12, and I’m really not sure it was cool even then), but these guys are rocking them, even when it’s 28deg. Celsius. Also, Ugg boots are the duct tape of the fashion scene. They have unlimited uses. With leggings, with skirts, with shorts, with flannel pj bottoms…limitless, and again at 28deg Celsius. Baby strollers fit unlimited kids, cars can be driven with dummy tires on diagonally opposite corners. Bikes don’t need seats, inflated tires, or both pedals (that’s right, one will do). And there was an ad, hand written in all lowercase letters. “3 left shoes, ladies size 9, brand new, still in box. never worn. $25 obo.” I kid you not…you cannot even make this stuff up. Apparently she was in a walking boot for six months after surgery and the right ones were worn… Might as well sell the lefts, I mean, they are still in boxes!!

Now I know I make fun of PA…and I do. A lot. But like I said, I love PA. I’ve worked there often now. We bring our kids, there’s great water slides…and the people, as quirky as I make them out to be, and they are quirky. But they’re nice!! They’re typical Saskatchewan Super Nice people. They wave at you when you drive by. They hold the door for you. Tell you when you forgot your son in the parking lot. (I knew he was there, but still…nice people) That’s why what happened today caught me so off guard. I was in the confectionery buying some drinks. I noticed the guy in front of me look back at me, then look forward again shaking his head. I didn’t really think much of it, but then when I walked out of the store he was in his car kind of just parked in the middle of the lot. I walked over to my truck, and just as I opened the door I heard him. “Hey!” I looked around my open door to where he was, and he said…and I quote, “Nice fucking arms, you loser!” And drove away.

Now for those of you that don’t know, I am a cutter. (Over 2 months cut free!!) But my arms are covered in scars. Hundreds of them. They’re definitely not something that I’m proud of, but they’re there. And for the rest of my life they are a part of me. A part of my story. I made a very deliberate decision a while back not to hide my scars. I live in a very small town. A awesome community of under 2000people. And when I say awesome, I mean AWESOME! But it’s small. I’ve gone through a lot if shit over the last year. We have close friends that have been there for my wife and I the whole way. But being a small town, everyone knows bits and pieces. It’s one of those things that as hard as it is to do, I’ve decided that rather than hide I would open myself up. Make myself vulnerable. People don’t know how to approach me. No one wants to set me off. No one knows how I’ll react. I honestly think people are scared of me. I guess it’s kind of my way of saying “I’m not hiding.” I really hope that it will help eliminate some of the gossip (yes, shockingly my awesome small town does this too) when people see that I’m being open. That they’ll talk to me, or my wife, or our friends rather than try and figure things out for themselves by talking. How’s that working out for me? Honestly… I have no idea. Maybe I should be covering up…I don’t know.

But those words…”you loser”. I know they’re just words. And I know they came from some irrelevant person I’ll likely never see again. But they are ruminating in my mind. Firstly, I do believe these words to be true. I’m told over and over In therapy that my self-hate is something I need to work on, but it’s there. I am my biggest critic. I’m my biggest hater. So I call myself a loser on the daily. But no one else ever has. I know that people think it, but no one ever says it. It’s another one of those overly nice Saskatchewan things, I guess. But with those words. Those two words from a total stranger. It was like all these thoughts. All these visions. All these feelings that I hold against me were no longer just mine. They say sticks and stones break bones… Well words, they don’t break bones, but they hold power. And for me, that power is confirmation of what I already know. What I already feel. Does his opinion really matter? No. Who knows what his story even is. But to someone who hates themselves. To someone who feels that everyone walks on eggshells around them. That thinks people are scared to “set me off”. Is this guy just saying what everyone else has too much tact to spit out? 

I don’t know….

What I do know is I have a 9 year old daughter that has to explain her dads scars, and the fact that he cuts himself when he’s sad. I have a 5 year old son that has helped his dad cut stitches out of his arm, and gets hauled around with me all over the place for MY safety, because one of the only things I’m 100% sure of is that I’ll never, ever hurt myself around my kids. I have a wife who has to come up with the $2000 a month my therapy costs us, as well as finding time to come to therapy herself. And, on top of that, lives in constant fear of what she’s going to walk into. I have next to nothing to do with family anymore because I don’t know how to explain myself. It’s hard to say “yeah, I’ve been dealing with this for 25years” to your unknowing family. (And it’s not they’re fault at all. I’m sure looking back now they see signs, but I hid this very very well. I lied to countless people to cover up what I was going through) But I have nothing to do with anyone from my past at all anymore. I live completely in the present, because that’s all that I allow myself to do. I’ve hurt countless people. There’s some things in my past I want to forget. And then there’s that that I would do anything to go back and hold on to. My life has not been easy. I haven’t allowed it to be. But I’ve made my bed. What comes, comes. I get what I deserve. I am, a loser.

…hurt

I’m being tormented at work this morning…so here I am, Wednesday June 17, sitting on my lunch break… Broken…
I believe the loss of a child is THE most unnatural emotional event to have to deal with. We literally are not wired to process and digest the overwhelming hurt and emotional anguish that comes with it. 
I know I’ve made a point of not making this a “religious blog”, but bear with me for a minute. You look in the bible…God tests Abraham’s commitment and loyalty by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Why? Because it is the hardest thing Abraham could ever possibly have to do. And When God saw his commitment He provided a ram to sacrifice in place of his son. Why? To spare him what was sure devastation and unbearable grievance. Or how God chose to display His love for us? By sacrificing his son. Why? I believe it’s because it’s something we can all relate to…at least all of us with children. That sacrifice has meaning because we all know we would do very thing we could to save and protect our children. There’s no way we would “choose” to allow a child to die, never mind by sacrifice.
I feel like I had to make that sacrifice, only minus the choice. On day three, when we found out our son wasn’t going to make it, there was unbearable hurt and anger. It was literally physically paralyzing. There was confusion. There was doubt. There was denial. And then there was numbness. Dayton loved twenty six days, most of that a fog. Yes, there was emotion…but all of that emotion was bottled up. None of it was shown. My wife and I were stoic. We handled the situation in stride, and we did it amazingly well. Only thing is, we didn’t. Now I can only speak for myself, not for Sherry…but I never grieved. I refused to grieve. I refused to show weakness. To show hurt. I just swallowed the pain and showed strength. But that’s a it was… Show. Five years of show.
What kind of father doesn’t grieve the loss of his son? Seriously?!?! You have to be a pretty shitty dad to refuse to honour your son and recognize him through grievance. But I didn’t. In many ways I ignored the fact that it happened. Now here I am six years later sill reeling from all this bottled up pain. I’ve been haunted by nightmares of watching my son die before my eyes. Im terrified of something happening to one of my other kids, but I don’t want to be “that dad”, so instead I stand back. I’ve made myself distant. I’ve deprecated myself from the world. I get lost in my mind, and find contentment there. I hate who I am, or who I’ve become, but I don’t know how to be anything else. I’m scared to be anything else. I don’t know what to do…I only know how to bottle up, so that’s what I’ll continue to do.
So there you have it… That’s my shitty day. Sorry to vent, but that’s what blogs are for, right?!?