31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 7: Have you ever dissociated? If so, how often?

Seeing as I’m having a hell of a time battling this tonight, I re-read this blog post and decided to share again. Do you dissociate? How often and for how long?

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I want to start off with a little bit of a disclaimer…a warning. Me doing a blog post on Dissociation is a little bit the blind leading the blind. It’s not that I don’t have experience with dissociation. It’s just that I don’t understand it. It’s not something I’ve even touched on yet with my counsellors or my psychiatrist. So really, I have no idea what brings it on, or “triggers” it. But I definitely experience it, I know what it’s like, I just have no idea as to the why. I guess that will have to be a follow up post.

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Have you ever had that feeling, where you’re in control of what you’re doing, but it almost seems like you’re not really there? It lasts a few seconds, then you snap out of it, and it feels almost like you were dreaming? Maybe you have no idea what…

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My Dark Paradise

nyctophilia (n.) love of darkness or night, finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness.

One of my kids favourite movies right now is A Knight’s Tale. It’s a story of William Thatcher, a squire who, after his masters passing, creates a new identity as “Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein”. He rises to all kinds of fame, but it’s all being done as a farce. He is unable to reveal who he really is to anybody at all. At the point in the movie where his true identity is revealed, there is a sense of relief of not having to fake it anymore, even though his punishment for his deception is death. Now I don’t want this to come across as over-dramatic. For me, darkness is like William Thatcher’s true identity being discovered. Days are exhausting. Especially when the involve social interaction. It’s not that the are always bad, but they are always exhausting. There’s either the anxiety over the days work, thinking about the next counselling session, or uncertainty over upcoming events. Being able to come home, find a dark and quiet space to just be alone with my thoughts is a relief. Of course my thoughts don’t often cooperate. Actually, they very rarely do. This is where the self hate, the guilt, the grief can really take their toll. They come in, they snowball, and they very quickly become toxic. But, It still is a relief from whatever’s been eating at me all day. It’s very much a place of comfort. It’s not a place of safety. It’s not a place of security. But it is a place of familiarity… it’s a dark paradise. Borderline Personality Disorder. Anxiety/Depression. Mental Health in general. You really do become a victim of your own mind. You are at the mercy of your thoughts that you seemingly have no control over. There’s very little it seems you can do but simply roll with the punches. Accept your disorder and start dealing with it. For me, I’m a cutter, but the adage that “my thoughts have hurt me more than blades ever could” holds very true. Thoughts are cruel. Thoughts are ruthless and invasive. And thoughts have absolutely no limitations.

IMG_0972-1 So what do we do? How do we escape our Dark Paradise? How do we leave the old self behind and move forward? That, my friends, is a question that I don’t have an answer to. It’s scary. The darkness and the night don’t raise fear in me… It’s the silence where there is nowhere to hide from my own screaming demons. It’s well known that darkness is the absence of light, so in order to rid yourself of darkness you have to bring in light. Light can come in countless ways, and it is said that “without darkness one cannot know light.” Finding light in the darkness is the key.

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“Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.”

I’m not there yet. I’m so incredibly far. I battle my thoughts day in and day out. I am haunted at night with dreams. I dissociate in the day without even knowing. Last week at work I was gone for 3 hours… how does that even happen? I have a very difficult life. Every morning I wake up not knowing at all how the day’s going to unfold. Knowing full well that it could be great, but there’s a better chance that it’s going to be a rough ride. That’s just the reality. It makes things difficult, but I approach it as a challenge. I want to be able to one day look back at how I took a strangle hold on Mental Health, I controlled it. I won.

“When I look back on my life, I see pain, mistakes and a heart ache. When I look in the mirror, I see strength, learned lessons, and pride in myself.”

But until then I plug away. I don’t give up. There will be good days. There will be bad days. Just stay strong and don’t give in. Don’t give up.

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Be Courageous

Am I Courageous?

There are many adjectives that we, especially as males, strive to live up to. To uphold in our daily lives. To be seen as bearing. Integrity. Strength. Wisdom. Honour. Courage. I look at these, and most are fairly straight forward. Reasonably easy to measure, to an extent. Integrity… how well one can carry out their lives in a way that is honest and fair, without putting priority on himself. Strength… physical, pretty self explanatory, but mental/emotional…? I would say how one reacts to tension. To conflict. Hardship. “When the going get’s tough, the tough get going.” Wisdom… smarts, and how to use those smarts in an intelligent manner. Honour... much like Integrity, but outward. Integrity is how you live your life, honour is publicly carrying out that integrity even when you don’t want to. But Courage... I’ve always kind of gotten hung up on courage. The dictionary defines courage as:

the ability to do something that frightens one: “she called on all her courage to face the ordeal.” • strength in the face of pain or grief: “he fought his illness with great courage.”

It’s simple enough. It’s straight forward. But to me it’s always seemed so… storybook. When I think of courage I think of medieval warriors storming the castle, powerful knights slaying the dragon, David facing Goliath. But how does that fit with the life of a 34 year old carpenter with BPD? There’s no castles being stormed. No dragon’s to slay. No Goliath’s being taken down. Or is there? How, in a non storybook world can I live my life courageously?

Courage is asking for a time out, to shed a tear, to dust yourself off, and then getting back in the ring to fight like you’ve never fought before

My wife sent me this quote, and I absolutely love it. It puts a sense of reality on the idea of courageousness. Sometimes it’s hard to be courageous. Or let me rephrase that… Sometimes it’s hard to be courageous. I’ve faced a whole lot of challenges in my life. And I haven’t made it out of all of them unscathed. BPD… anxiety and depression, this is the most frustrating thing I’ve had to deal with. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no concrete answers. It’s working your ass off towards an unknown, in many ways. That’s hard to do. How do you stay motivated? How do you even set goals? How do you stick it out when after every step of progress it seems you are hammered with some overwhelming slump. The shut down. The recluse. So, how do you stay motivated? How do you stay the course? I’m not going to lie, therapy sucks. Medication sucks. Dissociating out of nowhere with no warning sucks. You feel defeated. You feel “what’s the point?” 

But this definition of courage is different.

Courage is asking for a time out, to shed a tear, to dust yourself off…”

The medieval warriors may have to retreat and regroup. The powerful knight may get knocked from his horse. David may miss with his stones and have to run off to collect more. The key is that these trials are not defeat. They’re not the way the story ends. They are mere setbacks. Take your time out. Shed your tears. I’ve shed many, and of every type imaginable… pain, fear, frustration, anger, anguish… you name it. It’s ok to cry, this coming from a 34 year old carpenter. Sometimes crying out is the only physical act you are capable of doing, and that’s ok. But it’s not the end. It’s not defeat. Dust yourself off… compose yourself. Wipe those tears and take a deep breath.

and then getting back in the ring to fight like you’ve never fought before”

And the best thing about courage, it’s not a one-trick-pony. It’s not a one-time-offer. It doesn’t expire. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked of that horse. It doesn’t matter how many times you feel beaten down… the weight of the world feels like it’s driving you into the pavement. Those hardships ARE going to come. And trust me, they’re going to come often. You’re going to want to give up. That blade is going to come out. Life is not going to feel worth living. But call that time out. Shed those tears. Dust yourself off. Because you ARE Courageous, and you are NOT Defeated.

I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times.

“A person who never learned to TRUST confuses intensity with intimacy, obsession with care, and control with security. “

-Patrick Carnes, psychiatrist

I remember reading a story about a young girl whose family ran a harbour eatery on the maritime coast of Canada. Her father was a fisherman who spent long stretches at sea. When she became old enough she would go on the fishing trips with her father… she loved the sea. Her parents died young in an accident, and while going through some of her mom’s old journals she realized that her mother never met her father until she was 2 years old, and that her actual father was a sailor. Through the story she tracks her father down, and spends time with him on the water sailing. She found a new love with a side of the sea she never knew before… the intimacy of the ocean on a sailing vessel, as apposed to the harsh, demanding lifestyle of a fisherman.

When I first read this quote on trust it tugged a string inside of me. I saved it on my phone, and went in to buy my coffee and carry on with my day. But every time I read it, it kind of worm-holed its way more and more into the centre of my mind. It made sense. I desperately didn’t want it to make sense. But it did. Could my trust issues have impacted my life in such a way without me even realizing it? Could this “Patrick Carnes” be onto something? Then I got into ‘Dr Phil mode’, and began analyzing what I am the way I am. I broke it down section by section, and it sadly made sense.

“A person who never learned to TRUST” …ok. This has been established already. I have trust issues. I like looking at it as you have 3 rings of trust in your life. You have those outside of the rings, the people you really don’t even know. Then you have the third ring. Good acquaintances. Soccer moms. Your kids might go to school together. You might go to the same gym. You might work together. You’re comfortable talking, you likely even get together socially. Then there’s the second “close friends” ring. The people you make plans with. You do things with regularly. Your kids have sleep overs. They’re your good friends. And then there’s that centre ring… the core. Your best friends. The people you can tell anything and everything. You trust them in all aspects of your life.

Normally, you kind of look at the rings as a target… progressively getting smaller as they get to the centre. For me, that third ring and the second ring are a lot closer in size to each other. I either don’t know you, or I do. And if I do, I very easily allow you into that second ring that is normally for just close friends. That second ring still has layers… but you’re there. But then there’s that centre ring, The core. The intimate “TRUST” zone. No one gets in there. No one. It’s like a vault. It’s off-limits.

Everybody has an internal emotional barometer. It’s your brain telling your body what emotions are coming so that the body can react. For myself, the barometer isn’t broken… it’s just no longer very sensitive. I rely a lot on other peoples emotion. When I do feel emotions it’s in extremes. I have a hard time regulating emotions, so I have a hard time showing emotion. I don’t want this to sound the least bit derogatory, but I in many ways rely on people emotionally the same way a blind person visually relies on a seeing eye dog. Without the dog, it’s hard for the blind person to physically navigate, and without that person, it’s hard to emotionally navigate. Life is so much easier with that person around.

“confuses intensity with intimacy“. This is a tough one for me to try and explain or describe without sounding predatory, but it definitely goes both ways. I don’t recognize “small gestures” as easily. The subtlety can be easily missed, or when I try and be subtle I feel it’s being missed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I pick fights, but I definitely feel the ‘intensity’ in someone I love ‘defending their feelings for me’. “OF COURSE I LOVE YOU …IF I DIDN’T I WOULDN’T BE HERE FIGHTING FOR YOU!” I get. I feel that. I understand that. But the cute little text might go unnoticed. The small gestures, though appreciated, don’t have the same impact. And it’s the same the other way. The emotion’s there. My barometer is detecting it, and Im feeling it. Now Brace yourself… Brace yourself to feel that love!!

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obsession with care“. I’m not sure if any of you can relate, but I need to be reassured of my wife’s love for me. It’s not that I question her love… I just really need to hear it… be reminded of it. I’ll text just to have her say ‘I love you’. I’ll call to hear the same thing. I’ll wake her up at night to hear those words. There’s times where I want to spend every waking second with her… cause that’s what people in love do. To me it’s crucial that she knows and sees how I feel, and that I know and see how she feels. I do it because I care. I need it because I care. I want it because I care. And it can easily be obsessive without realizing it, because I care.

And this ties right into “and control with security.” This is huge for me. I’ve been working at this since long before i had any diagnosis. Like many BPD, fear of abandonment is far and away my greatest fear. It’s not a matter of if, but when people are going to leave. It’s 100% the reason why my inner core ring is so extremely exclusive. I believe with everything in me that anyone who gets in that circle will hurt me and leave me. (it’s times like right now that I have to just sit back and thank God that he put the amazing wife in my life that he did). I require constant reassurance that I’m still loved. I get needing to know what’s going on, solely so there’s no surprises. It’s not even that I am looking to be in control, I’m just preparing myself for what might come. If she leaves me, I can justify it because of this, this, and this. My life is constantly preparing myself for being alone. And that part is uncontrollable. And by fighting for security through control, it triggers one viscous circle. I have an uncontrollable sense of insecurity that i try to compensate with a false sense of security through trying to maintain control. (And yes, I read that last sentence over 15 times to make sure it’s saying what i want it to say.)

I’ve always been really torn. I know I’m an emotional person, but there’s times I feel so emotionally dead. Emotionally cold. But I’m a kind person. I love deeply. I know that I’m not a heartless person. I feel very strongly about a great deal of things. I’ve kind of just come to the conclusion that I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times. But the bottom line is I love… and am loved back by the ones that I love. And last time I checked, that makes me a fortunate man.

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 4: Have you ever attempted suicide?

Was asked to share this post again… Please Share/Reblog/Retweet.
Thanks
Dave

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“In the depths of hell, I learned who I

was. It takes a strong soul to endure so

much pain and heartache and still make

it out alive; to not get stuck in the deep

burning pit of misery. It takes a

resilient creature to claw their way

back up out of the darkness and back

into a reality where your nightmares

can finally turn into dreams.

-Jordan Sarah Weatherhead

This is another post that for me has me completely unsure as to what I’m even going to say. I try and at least have an idea what I’m wanting to say before I start writing, but this entry is going to be 100% written as I go. I apologize in advance if my ramblings don’t make sense…but I’l do my best. So, here goes…

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Suicide…is there a darker place in all of existence than standing at the doors…

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Scars…

Mothers… it’s in our nature to love them, and they more than deserve it. Years of night time tuck-ins, morning wake-ups, uncountable meals and snacks and more snacks. They drive you all over the country for hockey. They help you with your homework. They pick you up when you fall. They kiss and bandage the boo-boos. And most importantly… they love you. Unconditionally. You can do all kinds of heinous acts, and mom will always be there to welcome you back… to make you that snack… to kiss that boo-boo. But there’s something that many mothers try and instil in the minds of there children, and I don’t really know why. Maybe they are trying to raise “non-confrontational” children. Maybe it’s hopeful thinking. Maybe it’s ignorance to social reality.
To all you moms that read my blog, I promise you this is the only negative I have to say about you. Does this sound familiar? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve all heard it, and many of you (and most kindergarten to grade 4 teachers) have done the preaching of it. But it’s a lie. I would rather take a physical beating than some of the verbal and emotional beatings I’ve received over the years. Words do hurt. Badly. And that hurt is long-term, even permanent. A beating you heal from. You can’t say the same about cutting words.

Whatever doesn’t kill me

is going to leave a scar

Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger” is one that I like… and it makes sense, especially now. There’s no flowery false hope in the statement. It’s acknowledging that times will be tough… or at least that to me is what “whatever doesn’t kill you” means. It might feel like you can’t do it. It might make you want to just give up. Give up on your job. Give up on relationships. Give up on family. Give up on yourself. But pushing through and coming out alive (figuratively and literally) will make you stronger. You learn from the school of hard-knocks. Now you know a little better how to avoid the situation. Handle the situation. Rise above the situation. Be a stronger [wo]man all around. But it comes at a cost… and costs suck.

You don’t forget. You never forget. You try to forget… but you don’t forget.

You are left with scars. Emotional scars. Deep emotional scars. But these wounds you can’t just walk in to your local ER and get sewn back up. No, these wounds you are stuck leaving open until over time they heal on their own. And some of those gaping wounds will never heal. Never… not ever. Yes’ you can mask them and cover them with proverbial sleeves, you can bottle the hurt. I think the most common ‘sleeve’ that we mask our internal wounds with is the smile. A smile can go such a long way in appearing “normal“. I’ve been in public with short sleeves. I’ve felt the reactions of some to arms full of scars. And if that’s the reaction I get to the physical scars, I can only imagine the reaction I’d get to the wounds you can’t see.

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So if we can’t go to a doctor and get sewn up, then how to we treat these wounds? How do we keep them free from infection? What are we supposed to do? Many cope with the pain and anguish by drowning it out… drinking and drugs are two great medicines for coping with the pain. Some take a more holistic approach. Positive meditation, calming exercises, yoga, running, swimming. But most do nothing. They just sit and let it sting. At times others will come by and rub salt in the wound… or we might even do the salting ourselves.

Healing those wounds is a ‘uphill battle‘, a ‘slippery slope‘, a ‘tall task‘. But it is doable. It has to be doable.. Doesn’t it??

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But, the thing you don’t understand is that at the end of the day you’ve got to come home and take off your shirt. You have no choice but to take a look in the mirror and see them glaring back at you. Those scars. They refuse to go away. And no matter what momma’said… They Hurt!!

Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness?!?

Social settings are about as difficult an environment for me that there is. It’s not that I don’t like people… I really love people, actually. But it’s hard. I was trying to think of the best way to describe, or “name” the situation. “Social Retardation” seemed to drastic, and seemed like it may also cross some lines of political correctness… possibly. “Social Recluse” is not really accurate. There are many times I want nothing more than to be a recluse… but I know myself enough to know that that could get ugly (I’ll get to this more later). “Social-phobia” is actually fairly accurate, but I don’t like how ‘psychological’ it sounds. So, I went with “Social Awkwardness”. Kind of like a high school freshman at his first dance with acne and braces… only I’m far from being a high school freshman, and my acne and braces are battles of the mind.

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Those that know me are likely thinking to themselves “huh??” right about now. And for those that don’t know me, I AM a very social person. I like being around people. I love crowds… sporting events, fairs, concerts. I interact with people well. I am a social person.

But wait a minute… you said social settings were as difficult as they come?

And with that every one of you is likely thinking “huh???

I am a very smart person. I’m not saying that to brag, and I don’t mean book smarts, but when it comes to bottling up feelings and emotions, I know as well as anyone how to do it. I can remember having extreme depression/anxiety right back to high school. Initially my reaction was to pull back. Not be involved with people. School was difficult, attendance was spotty, and outside of school I did little. But it was through my late high school years and college that I began consciously “coping” in my own way.

Social settings, like I said earlier, are very difficult. But the alternative, Depression, is tougher. I can handle the social setting. I can maintain control of the social setting. I can swallow fear, and force conversation if I need to. And if all else fails I can sit back and be a spectator. But when depression sinks in, I’m done for. It’s just sit and hate myself and hope I fall asleep. I’ve spent countless nights awake just angry at myself. And if my depression shifts to anxiety, then I’m in real trouble. Red Alert. Good… Bad… now, UGLY. I refer to this as “freaking out“, really because… well, there’s no other way to describe it. The chaos takes over and I just want to make it stop. To do anything to make it stop. And that anything is often to hurt myself. Whether I’m wanting to punish myself, implement justice for my actions, or simply wanting to stop my mind from racing. That’s when it happens. The gloves drop, the helmet comes off, and the blade comes out.

But you see, the “freaking out” only happens when I’m alone. With the exception of my wife, I’ve never gotten 10/10, fight or flight freaking out around anyone. Whether it’s fear of making a fool of myself… fear of hurting (emotionally) my family/friends… Or having the presence of mind to see it coming and stop it, I really don’t know. All I know is that when I’m in a social setting I can regulate my “limits”. Don’t get me wrong… there’s times I am freaking out on the inside… and my reality of loneliness blankets over me, but I am very strong. Those that know me well can tell I’m worked up, but for whatever reason I’m able to harness it. Reign it in. But when I’m on my own, I let the floodgates open and all hell breaks loose.

and every once in a while it would hit me, the horrifying truth of being alone. and it did not matter if I was with good company or not. i would slowly feel the violent pull of loneliness; shaking inside of me like a wild beast in the night

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Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness… By choice. It’s a safety net, a security blanket. No matter how difficult it can get, speaking as someone who is admittedly suicidal, it ranks head and shoulders above the potential alternative. And that’s the way I want it to stay. That’s the choice I hope to make every time.

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(I need to insert a *NOTE* here. I don’t want you to get the impression that I hate social settings. I still find them emotionally exhausting, but I do enjoy them… especially when it involves friends/family. This is more to show the “other side” of the coin)

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 11: Is there anything that helps keep you grounded?

“‘…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. ~ Isaiah 7:9

Staying grounded is one of, if not THE biggest challenge that I face. And the funny thing… the longer I have my diagnosis, the longer I’m aware of the difficulties I face and work on methods of coping, the harder I find that it is to stay grounded. Maybe I need to clarify what I mean by “grounded”. By grounded, I’m simply saying “not freaking out”. To me that is grounded, and to me that is the most difficult task I face.

I’ve found a few ‘coping methods’ that I find really useful to bring me back down. Music is a big one. Music drowns out all chaos in my mind. A pair of headphones and some loud music, and I can usually find myself back in the stratosphere. There are also things I can do to prevent things from escalating… breathing exercises, walks, working out. They all can keep things somewhat under control. But they don’t keep me grounded. To me, the things that you use to stay grounded have to be constants in your life. And for me, there are a few… they are important to me, and without them I don’t know how I would be able carry on.

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My faith. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Without faith, I have nothing. I know that there’s many of you that are not men or women of faith. And I’m not here to push any beliefs on you. That’s not the way I do things. I’m simply telling you what keeps me going. What gives me hope. What keeps me grounded. I’ve had to live through my share of hard times. I’ve been asked many tomes “how can you still have faith?” It hasn’t always been easy. There’s been times it’s been very hard… almost impossible. I spent twenty-six days in a hospital praying for a miracle as my child died. If there’s something that will test your faith, it’s the feeling that the most important thing you have is being snatched from your hands, and the one you’re supposed to love and pray to is the one thats taking him. Yes, my faith has most definitely been tested. Time and time again.

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My family. “Home is where the heart is!” That phrase has to stay true. You keep family a priority, and with their support you’ll be amazed at the strength that you have to stand up to your demons. I have a wife and to kids that I have the fortunes of seeing every night. I am my sons hero, and my daughter is the most beautiful princess I’ve ever seen. We are a family of faith. We believe in prayer, and my children are counting on me to ‘get better’. If you need more reason than that, then you have no heart at all. The love of my family gives me strength.

And the third is Hope. Hope in myself. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that this can be overcome, and Hope that I can come out of it a better man. This is by far the most difficult because it requires putting my faith in myself. And if there’s anyone I have little confidence in it’s myself.

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It is these three things, Faith, Hope, and Love that keep me grounded. They’re what I have no choice but to live for. They’re what keeps me going. Find what keeps you grounded. Make that your focus, and don’t give up.

Behind the Mask – the comfort of the Masquerade Ball

Tonight I was flipping channels between love story after love story on this “most romantic night of the year” and I came across Romeo and Juliet… more specifically the ‘Masquerade Ball’ scene from Romeo and Juliet. Romeo sneaks his way into the ball to be able to see Juliet under the false coverage of a mask. Behind this mask he was undetected to all in the ballroom. Behind this mask his identity was unknown. This mask, which Romeo put on, drew attention completely away from who he actually was. It made me think… what masks do we put on? What is it that we feel the need to hide when we don those masks? And why are people so reluctant to get to know the [wo]man behind the mask? Is life just one extensive masquerade ball? Are we so used to hiding behind masks that we actually search out others who are the same? I know for myself, I’ve made a life, in many ways, of hiding behind masks. When I wear my mask I am confident. I am strong. I don’t have fears and insecurities. My mask is who I want to be rather than who I am… isn’t it? IMG_0870 What is it I’m trying to hide? What is it I’m afraid of letting others see? Why is it I’m so scared to make myself even the least bit vulnerable? Over the last few months I’ve been really making an effort to not just remove the masks, but try and figure out why I felt the need to put them on in the first place. For me, the mask hides a past that I’ve allowed very few to really, actually be a part of. For as long as I can remember I’ve tried to protect myself. Guard myself. Not allow myself to be even the least bit vulnerable. To me, in my mind, no one could possibly like who I really was… so no one was going to see who I really was. The thing with masks, if people don’t like you, you can always tell yourself that it’s not you they don’t like, but the man in the mask. You see, it really does all make sense. It’s a complete false sense of self, and sense of confidence that I had, but the masks served their purpose. I was protected. I was safe. But was I happy?

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I think the best way you could describe me was emotionally numb. Like a freezing needle, my masks numbed me from feeling true emotion. I felt emotion, don’t let me mislead you. But it was false emotion. It was harnessed emotion. And it was regulated. If things got too intense, I could pull that mask down a little bit further and let things just brush off. The mask, without question, serves it’s purpose. And that’s why they are so widely worn in this masquerade ball we call life. They are heavily relied on. There’s nothing that makes you rely on your mask more than being hurt by someone you’ve allowed behind the mask. When you’ve opened up. Shown trust. Left yourself vulnerable. I can likely count on one hand the people I’ve allowed behind my mask. And by likely I mean I can absolutely tell you, without question. There’s four. There have been four people in my 34 years that I have allowed to see me. To see the real me. No walls… no masks… just me. If there’s anything that makes the mask a more permanent fixture on your face, it’s the hurt you have experienced without it. Being honest and getting hurt. Making yourself vulnerable and getting burnt. False hope, False trust, real hurt. Three of the four have hurt me, and the fourth holds my heart literally in the palms of her hands. My wife is my everything, she’s my emotional barometer, and my strong soul. And she’s the one person, more than anyone, that I’m most terrified of losing. But… I’m working on that. Mainly with her, but across the board. I’ve decided I’m tired of hiding. It scares me, but I want people to get to know me. Who I am. What makes me tick. That’s the main objective behind this blog. I know some of you reading this, but most I don’t. But I feel that it’s an opportunity for me to help give understanding into the world of mental illness. Because I know that I’m not alone. I know there are many, many more like me. That have masks. That wear them tightly. That are very literally terrified of what others will think of the [wo]man behind the mask. That I can be a voice, that I can help you all understand a little bit what it’s like to feel the need to keep your life completely masked. IMG_0401 Please, I’d love to hear feedback. Whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or here on WordPress. Whatever it is, please let me know what you think. Add me, follow me, talk about me with your friends. And if you know anyone you think could benefit from my blog, please share.

**Vent Alert** Just something that’s been eating at me lately.

There’s a word that I hate. I hate the sound of it. I hate the way it gets thrown around. I hate how it gets used as a guilty accusation. But more than anything, over the last few months, I hate how accurate it is. How relevant it is. And how much it hurts. That word… “Stigma”. You’ve likely heard it a million times, especially if you’re at all familiar with mental health. “Stop the Stigma” “Stand up to Stigma” or #stigma #stopthestigma. But now that I’m more involved in mental health, I’m more attentive to the “stigma” that really actually is present. It’s there. In our day to day life, and without us even knowing, in a huge way. And the sad part is, the greatest accusations and opinions so often come from either those that have no idea what they are talking about, those speaking out of fear, or defensiveness. Any which way, the defences are up, and if there’s anyway they can pass blame, ownership, or responsibility on someone else, they will. They love “pawning” off responsibility wherever they can. They watch out for number one without worrying about havoc left in their wake.

There are a couple things that I’m pretty sure we all have. We all have demons, and we all have skeletons. Demons are those things that we are in outright war with. We battle with them every day. They haunt us in our sleep and torment us when we’re awake. We fight tooth and nail to resist them, and we do all we can to not be overcome by them. Those are Demons.

Then there’s skeletons. Those are the things that we keep tucked back in the closet. No one needs to know about them. Out of sight. Out of mind. Sometimes the demons from those skeletons haunt us, but there’s just one rule when it comes to skeletons… They do not, under any circumstance come out of the closet. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

But what happens when skeletons share closets? What is the ‘code of conduct’ when dealing with the “non-exclusive skeleton”… Those skeletons that aren’t just yours? How do we handle the situation… or more specifically, how do we react to mishandling? I mean, don’t we have enough on our plates as it is, but then we have to worry about things out of our control? I’ve got skeletons, and I’ve got more than my share of demons… believe me. They figuratively and emotionally eat me alive. But the one thing that you will never hear me do, and that is use my “illness” as an excuse or justification for anything. And there’s literally nothing that angers me more than others pawning things off on my “illness”. If you are not my doctor, psychiatrist or my counsellor, I don’t want to hear the word “illness” in reference to me come out of your mouth. It’s as easy as that. I’m not going to let myself off easy under the shroud of BPD, and I’m most definitely not going to take responsibility for others actions under the ‘tag’ and stigma of “my illness”.

This past year has been a mess. So much has happened in my world that I wouldn’t even have the slightest clue as to where to start. But through the fall and winter I began hearing that “my illness” was being very easily offered up as the reason and the blame for different things in my life. Am I trying to say that it had nothing to do with it? I have no idea… it very well could have. But I’m 100% positive that me having BPD had nothing to do with many of the choices and events that took place over the past year. It’s easy to point the finger in that direction… you can make sense of it. “It’s the sick guy’s fault. He should know better. This is a pattern of his illness. Me… I don’t know what happened… I just got ‘used’ and ‘manipulated'”

I speak both out of hurt and from experience. I have been blamed for and accused of different things, “because of my illness”. Some things, yeah… I’m sure my BPD may have something to do with. But other peoples actions I have no control over. And I’m not willing to take that blame either. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made poor decisions. And I’ve felt hurt in ways I never saw coming. But I’m a big boy. I take responsibility for all of my decisions and actions… and  unfortunately, apparently more.