physical in presence – absent in mind

Life with Borderline Personality Disorder is an extremely frustrating existence. Anyone living with the ‘illness’, or living with someone with the ‘illness’ will be able to support that statement completely. It’s literally a cycle where everyday you gain a little more confidence in being able to handle yourself in a safe manner, but also everyday you become more and more aware of just how extensively BPD controls you. I know, I know… BPD doesn’t ‘control’ me, right?!? Well, to that I must honestly say… yes, yes it does. I spend two days a week in therapy to try and resolve that, but as for now that’s the way it is. Only because of my increased awareness of just how my ‘illness’ effects my life, it literally feels like I can’t escape it. It’s like the blinders are off, and now my demons aren’t hiding in shadows as much any more. No, now they’re in plain sight. Pouring my coffee and holding the door as I head out for the day. It sucks. I mean it… it really, really sucks!! Why do things so often seem to get harder before they get easier. Whoever wrote that proverb, wherever you are, I dislike you. #yousuck

I did an anxiety screening a couple weeks ago… and guess what? I scored extremely high in the area of ‘social anxiety’. Well, that’s just awesome. It seems every week my resume gets longer. I mean, I’m starting Somatic Trauma Therapy in addition to the modified DBT & CBT I’m already doing. And now I get to go in tomorrow to meet with another counsellor that I’ll be doing weekly social anxiety ‘group’ therapy with. I now will be spending 10+days a month in therapy of some sort. And that, my friends, is depressing. But back to the social anxiety… I knew I had it. I know I’ve hidden it. I know it effects me likely more than anything, as far as mental exhaustion goes. But I think it’s one of those things where as long as it was hidden from everyone else, I could play naive and ignore that it’s there. But the bottom line… it’s there. And it really does have a strangle hold on me. A sneaky unsuspecting bystander strangle hold. I mean, I don’t even know where it’s coming from half the time. But it’s there. It’s always there.

It’s frustrating. When I’m with people I disappear. I zone out. Mentally, I’m gone. It often takes all my mental strength to stay engaged in simple conversation. My mind is trying desperately to leave. To hi-tail it to that oh-too-familiar rendezvous which is the eerie confines of my mind. It’s almost like that person temporarily ceases to exist. But then, when I’m on my own and trying to stay task-oriented, that person is in my mind. In my head. I can’t stop thinking about them. What they’re doing. What they’re feeling. What they’re thinking of me. This is now haunting me. I’m either physically present and absent minded, or physically alone but reeling in emotion in that persons absence. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s tormenting. The seeming inability I have over controlling my presence of mind is terrifying. It really is. I long to be able to think about what I want, when I want. Not what they want, when they want. I want to be in control of my mind and not them. I’m working at it, and some days it feels like I’ve got it figured out. But then the days come when I’m very accurately in the passenger seat, holding on for the ride. R.M.Drake words it better than I ever could…

when i was with people i would doze off and look at the sky, and when i was alone looking at the sky i would think about people. i was never in both places at one time. maybe i was crazy or maybe i was like everybody else. i wasn’t happy in my own reality, i wanted more.

r.m.drake

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I AM… a tangled mess;

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”

-C.S.Lewis

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is the human equivalent to a box full of Christmas lights. There’s so much beauty and brightness and colour in that box, if you’re willing to untangle the strings. How many times has Christmas come around… you go to the closet on a mission. This year you are going to have the best decorated house on the block. You pull the big bin of lights off the shelf, and remove the lid. And every time the same thing happens. You find an end to a string of lights, you begin pulling it out of the box, and suddenly you have the mess of who-knows-how-many strings of lights tangled and hanging from that single strand in your hand. Annoyance. Frustration. And usually anger to a boiling point where the lid is put back on and the bin is heaved back up on the shelf.

That annoyance. That anger. That frustration. That is life with BPD. We try countless times to remove the lights from the box in a tidy and untangled manor, but the reality is our lives…our minds are a tangled mess. We can’t make sense of it all. We try. We make progress. and then there’s another tangle. Always more tangles. And no matter how many lights we remove and untangle, when we look in the bin it’s always full. Always tangled. Always overwhelming. This is what I like to call the journey of therapy. It’s hugely beneficial. HUGELY!! But it’s one of those things that just when you start feeling like you’re getting it…like you’re understanding a bit of whats going on, a relapse happens. No matter how far you’ve come you look in the box and see a mess of lights and wires. It’s overwhelming. The weight of the world gets dropped squarely on your shoulders. You retreat. You recluse. You shut down.

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” I hate this quote and love it at the same time. I hate it, because it’s a difficult concept to accept. I like to think that my problems are “out of my control”. I like to feel that I’m the victim to the wrath of mental illness. I like to believe I’m helpless and hopeless. But why? Because it’s easy. It’s not an easy life… not by any means. But it’s easier to just live with it. Live in misery. Live tormented. Or maybe not even live at all… maybe taking the route of ending everything is appealing. The fact of the matter is that any of these is easier than the gruelling challenge of actually dealing with your illness. Of taking the steps of getting help. Of changing that course and shifting that weight around. But as much as I hate that quote, I love and take comfort in it as well. “It’s not the load that breaks us down.” It’s not the illness. It’s not the anxiety. It’s not the depression. It’s not the anger. It’s not the self-hate. “It’s the way you carry it.” That you can change. That you can adjust. That you can alter.

BPD is maladaptive, or learned behaviours. We have the power and the ability to relearn, to alter the way we carry the stresses and the effects of our illness. We can keep carrying it the way we have been, letting it beat and bury us into the ground. Or we can chose a different course of action. Adjust the load. Sometimes it helps, other times it’ll make it worse. But the key is that “I” have the ability. The power. The authority to change the course of my life. I can either throw those strings of lights back into the bin on the shelf, or I can slowly, painstakingly, ad seemingly impossibly sort through the chaos and the mess in hopes that the end result will be a continuous strand. That is the question. That is the challenge. That is Borderline Personality Disorder.

that unexpected curve…ABANDONMENT!!

i love the mountains. Everything about them. The shear magnitude of the towering peaks. The smell of air so fresh you cane help but close your eyes and breath it all in. The wildlife. It’s all… perfection! My dream is to live in the mountains. My Shangri-La . But for now I’ll just have to settle for getaway camping trips… a very acceptable compromise. But last time we went camping was a little different. There was a bit of an unexpected curve… and that curve would not leave us alone.

Being “flat-landers”, it’s always exciting entering the mountains. From the time we leave Calgary we are watching this mountain peaks get bigger and bigger as we get closer and closer. For the kids that one hour drive seems endless. But ten we get there. We are swallowed up by nature at it’s purest. Faces are pressed against the windows trying to take in all the mountains have to offer. Once in Banff we go to the campground to set up camp. We pull up to the registration window and pay for our site. Just as we’re about to pull away, the curve is throw,,,

“I almost forgot to tell you, there’s a bear in the area, so keep your site clean and your food locked up.”

Then come the questions. Is the bear in OUR campsite? What do bears eat? Do bears eat people? Can I sleep in the truck? and on and on. You don’t want to scare them, so you make sure all of your answers reinstate comfort and safety. We get the campsite all set up and head in for an early night after a long day of driving. So we all crawl into bed. We do a little visiting… ok, truth is we spent about an hour just to convince our kids to stop talking, and the only way to do that was to tell them the bear would hear. So there we were. Four of us all cozied up in the tent. Beautiful silence. The smell of fresh air. My happy place. And that’s when it happens. You hear a noise. Was it a branch snapping? What snapped the branch? Is that breathing I hear? I think I can hear its claws scratching a tree. I’m going to die!!

After finally convincing myself that those noises were nothing more than the trees blowing in the wind. It seems so simple when you look at it in daylight. The darkness truly hides a lot.

The fear of that bear, however, is a very accurate analogy of my fear of abandonment. And I mean very accurate. My wife, like the mountains, is magnificent. She is my happy place. I love living with her. But one day I got thrown a curve. My mind gave me a word of caution. Not “There’s a bear in the area”, but rather “She’s going to leave you”. I fight it every day. I come to the ‘camp ground’ and the park ranger that is my mind warns me of my possible abandonment. I try desperately not to worry and stress over it, but like snapping branches and noises in the woods, fear takes the drivers seat. It’s unbelievable the panic and the fear that blankets you in these times. I can’t even function…literally. I crash. I recluse. I think too much. I panic. I think of ways to avoid the inevitable truth. But until you have proof that the bear is gone, the bear will continue to haunt and torment you

what if the bride is bitchy?

“Don’t beat the bride…”

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a “man of faith“, a Christian. I’m not an in-your-face Christian. I’ve made the choice to Not have my blog be “religious” blog. I’ll never PUSH any beliefs on anyone. But I’m also not going to deny my beliefs. Hopefully we can all get along.

For those that don’t know, the “church” is often referred to as “the bride of Christ“. I’ve heard the reference made many times of “don’t beat the bride” when it comes to any criticism of the church. You wouldn’t go point out all a brides flaws to the new groom, is usually the argument. But what if the bride’s bitchy? What if the bride’s actions are causing hurt in my life? Or in someone I care about’s life? Then what? Smile and stay silent? That’s what the church promotes. “Pray“, “Forgive“, and “Reconsile” are words the church likes to use. Those words though, for anyone who’s been hurt by the church like I’m sure many of you have, are painful. They’re like sandpaper. They’ve become meaningless…fake. Just words church people use to make problems go away. It feels like, “OK, repeat after me… Person 1: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I want to reconsile. Person 2: I accept your apology. I forgive you. I want to reconcile.” Perfect, problem solved. Let’s move on.

The thing is, for me, that’s a bunch of bullshit. I get the “Christian” concept of forgiveness. I believe in forgiveness. But if you hurt me, I’m not going to just “ok, let’s reconcile and be friends“. Hell. No. I can without hesitation tell you, as a Christian, my greatest hurts have come from the church, or fellow Christians. You can read my “I’m just a Coward with an Illness” post to see where some of that hurt comes from.

A lot has happened in my life over the last year. There were events that happened over the spring and summer that led to triggering my anxiety/depression beyond where I could control it any more. Let me make very clear…I’m not blaming ANY of my actions on my “illness“. All of my actions were choices that I made. Although they lead to things unravelling, they weren’t caused by my BPD. It frustrates me because there’s some, including leaders from our old church, that blame my actions on my illness. That I just manipulated, lied and controlled situations. A pastor even came into my home and told my wife that she should “consider herself fortunate that Satan saw her ‘worthy’ enough to use her husband to ‘attack the church’.” I’m sorry, but WTF?!?! Even if that’s what you think or believe, who tells someone that to their face. I’ve been blamed and held at fault by our church leadership. When my wife defended me to her church friends she was told she couldn’t prove anything. We’ve left that church, and in many ways I have been completely turned off of ‘organized religion’.

So when is it that “don’t beat the bride” becomes “buddy, your girl’s bitchy“? I don’t know. Maybe the right thing to do is just forgive and forget. Maybe I’m in the wrong for not being able to do it. But for me there’s been so much hurt caused in my life, and in the lives of those I love most, that I’m unwilling to forgive. Maybe someday, but right now I’m angry. I’m hurt. There’s zero trust there any more. Me forgiving would simply be an empty procedure. It would mean nothing. Do I still have faith in God? Yes, very much so. But I am far more sceptical and cautious for sure. Do I believe God can heal me from mental illness? I believe he can, but I’m always reminded of the quote…

“In times of storm, Pray… But row away from the rocks.”

BPD is part of my life. I believe everything happens for a reason. My focus is to do all I can to get a handle on things, and be as much of an encouragement and provide support to others who maybe are having a tougher go at things than me.

Labels…

Labels…oh how we’ve grown to rely heavily on them. We quite literally no longer base our decisions and choices on product quality, but base it 100% on the labels. I’m totally guilty of this. I love fashion. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. And I love brand name clothing. I’ll go to Value Village and go through the racks of clothes looking at tags. “Robert Graham”, “Barney’s NY” “Bugatchi”, “Armani”, “Versace”, “Robert Sherman”… the list goes on and on. One of my proudest shopping moments was the day I hit up both VV thrift stores in Saskatoon and cashed in on over $5000.00 retail worth of brand “label” clothing for $150.00. And some still had tags! I was on ‘cloud 9’. Did it all fit? Heck no… but for $30 a shirt I can get them tailored downtown, and I’m still ahead $4500.00. I win. My wife laughs at me. “No one but you is going to know or care what kind of shirt you have on…” To that I say “B.S. I’m going to know, and that matters. People who know clothes are going to know, and there opinion matters. And to those that don’t… they’ll just know I have a damn nice shirt on, and that matters.” But does it? Does it even a little?

I never paid much attention to ‘status labels’ before. Even as a kid there was the awareness that so-and-so lived in a shabby house and wore hand-me-downs two sizes to small. But did it matter? Not at all. But wait… did it matter? Come to think of it, he was the first one to not ‘make the cut’ for birthday parties, because you knew you weren’t going to get the coolest gift. As you got older, you wanted less and less to be associated with him. But why? Because he didn’t have a ‘designer label’ tattooed to the back of his neck? Because he never acquired enough ‘return-value’ to be worth your investment? I can honestly say that I’m fairly non-biased when it comes to human-labeling. I know I do it to an extent, but I think I let ‘labels’ play a very small role in how I see people. I would say I quite simply played little attention to the labels that were out there. That is, until I got my label sewn on me. When you are all of a sudden extremely aware and self conscious of your own label, you tend to start seeing those that everyone else is wearing as well. You feel for them, because you now know that there are labels you choose, or earn for yourself… but there are others that are simply stamped on you. You’re stuck with them. Good Luck my friend.

I find I am once again label shopping, but in a whole new way. I’m sitting in the familiar retail change room… but I’m not able to go choose the clothes myself. They are being brought over, one item at a time, and draped over the door to try on. Many of them don’t fit at all. Some are a style I like, but the wrong colour. Some too big, some too small. But when I walk out the door, they’re all waiting for me, in a bag, charged to my account. “I didn’t pick these… most of these don’t even fit!” I walk toward the store again, receipt in hand. But when I hold it out I see in big bold letters. FINAL SALE – NO RETURNS/NO REFUNDS. How is this fair? It’s like they said to themselves “Oh, Dave likes clothes” and then gave me anything and everything that fit the category of”clothing”.  It’s an outrage. Well, yes, in a retail world it is unfair. It is an outrage. But when it comes to society and ‘social labelling’, it’s par for the course. You have some say in your labels. You earn many of your labels. But many of them are just ‘thrown over the door’ to you. They may sort of fit, but not really. Some you can’t even get into. Some you have no idea where they came from. It’s like they just heard you suffer a mental illness, so you must be completely off your rocker and unstable. It’s, an outrage.

I remember the first time I felt the sting of a label being sewn on. First off, it was from someone I wasn’t even aware knew what my diagnosis was, but they were informing that “because of my illness…”. Because of my illness, nothing. I’m making a effort to not use my having BPD as an excuse for anything, so don’t you go and do it. Dump on me all you want in your mind, whatever makes you feel better. But don’t come out and use ‘labels’ of my “illness” as a way to give you peace of mind.

We all have wardrobes full of clothing of all kinds of labels. Some we’ve hand-picked and tailored, some have just been thrown over the change room door. It’s not at all fair. But we’ve all got to live with it. Wear the clothes you like. Wear them often. And those other ones… stuff them in the back somewhere and hope they don’t get dragged out.



Still, soft voices…

The engine shuts off. You look in the mirror to see your faint reflection looking back at you through the soft glow of light rising up from the dashboard. You see those eyes. Dark. Empty. Emotionless.

You sit. You stare. A still, soft voice rises up from your heart. It enters your mind begging you to just start your truck and go home. you stop for a moment to acknowledge it. It brings with it photos in the form of memories trying to sway your decision and alter your outcome. It pleads, it begs. But it gets ushered out of your mind by the demons, leaving broken and rejected in the form of a tear.

The faint lights go dark. The music goes quiet. You, for the first time absorb in just how dark it really is. No moon. No stars. Complete silence. Your thoughts can speak clearly now… clearer than they ever have before. You reach through the darkness and feel around the back seat. That soft voice is trying again, and actually has you hoping you feel emptiness, but it’s silenced as your hand feels the harsh weave of the rope. You stop, momentarily, and take in a deep breath. Letting that final breath of reason out, you scoop up the rope and open the door and in one motion hop out of the truck before reason knocks at the door again. Your feet crunch down into the frozen slush of the March night. The cold, crisp air enters your lungs with a sweet sting, and exits with the warmth of fire. That soft voices teared trail freezes quickly to your face, being wiped away quickly as you begin this final trek.

Your feet crunch loudly through the snow and ice. It’s as if everything else stops and stands silent. The night is literally dead of all sound. Of all movement. Of all light. “How fitting” you can’t help thinking to yourself. You walk that path quickly. Partially the cold, partially the fear, and mainly to avoid the return of reason. The soft light begins to break through the trees ahead. You stop momentarily. Close your eyes and take a deep breath of that now comforting cold air. You open your eyes, put the rope in the other hand, and start walking up the slope to the road. You look up at that last light as you walk under it’s glow. You are half mesmerized by it’s rhythmic um that breaks the cold silence. The light flickers and goes out momentarily. Silence. Darkness. Then with a flicker it returns to light my final walk. You reach the centre of the bridge and look down at the jagged frozen river below. You can here the broken ice shifting against itself, a welcoming chorus of monsters waiting to witness this final act. You drape the noosed rope around your head and shoulder like a dark sash. Beginning to wrap the other end of the rope around the rail of the bridge the unthinkable happens. The silence is disrupted. The darkness is pierced. You turn to see headlights approaching the bridge. You pick up the coiled rope from the ground, holding the rope in your now-trembling hands you send out a prayer. You don’t even name a recipient…just the words “please-please-please don’t stop. I beg you”.

You lean over the rail of the bridge and just stair into the river below. You hear the engine slowing as it approaches the bridge. As it comes closer you hear the brakes squeal softly. Your head drops as the car comes to a stop behind you. “You alright?” a woman’s voice calls out from the car. “I‘m good.” you quickly reply. “Are you sure?” she responds. “It’s cold…let me give you a ride.” Your head drops in annoyance, but that soft voice begins rising in you – “listen to her“. You unclench your fingers and open your hands, the rope dropping down into jagged audience below. You wipe away what you’re unable to distinguish wether are tears of relief or tears of failure, and turn around to see the humblest of ladies in the car.. and baby seat in back. “Let me give you a ride.” she again offers.

You convince her you’re ok to drive yourself home and return to your truck. You make your way up the approach and turn onto the highway. You look in the rear view to see those headlights follow you from just of the bridge. Just like she insisted. As you drive home those feelings of hate and failure are slowly being pushed aside…pushed away. A small army of still, soft voices is raising up from with in, and pouring out of your eyes and down your face. Memories of those that will be WAITING FOR YOU at home clog your throat like a lump and you weep. As you approach home, the headlights of the angel behind you turn off on another road. You smile. You say another prayer. “Thank you…” and you feel that relief. But there’s that thought. That demon that will not let you be. And your shoulders once again drop. Your heart once again hurts. And the truth is revealed.

Until next time…” you think out loud…

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“Hello, my name is…”

Have you ever been at a function where you have to wear the “Hello, my name is…”tags? Or maybe tried a dating service? What if real life was like a dating service? I mean, what if we had a description… A profile that was presented to everyone before the actually met us. Would it work in your favour? Truthfully? I’ve thought of this lots lately… And I really don’t like it.

My profile: I’m a 34 year old husband and father of 3, a 9 year old daughter, a 4 year old son, and a son we lost 6 years ago. I have as long as I can remember struggled with anxiety and depression, and in the last year gotten the following resume of diagnosis: Clinical Depression, Advanced Social Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am a carpenter, however with weekly talk-therapy, bi-weekly couples counselling, weekly group-counselling, and psychiatrist appointments I’m only able to work about 60-75%. I love sports, especially hockey… however because of trouble controlling my anxiety I had to quit playing this year…it was just too hard. I love watching my kids play hockey. I even help coach my sons hockey team. Well, I did. But it got to be too hard. I would go home and crash, it was so mentally exhausting. I have pretty much only been able to be a half-time dad it feels like, I have to miss so much. I am considered extreme high risk of suicide. Basically what this means is that if I go to the doctor for a runny nose I get asked if there’s firearms in the house. I have attempted suicide…my file says seven times since last March, and what the file says matters more than what I say. I have been hospitalized at the Dubè Centre. This is where I got my initial diagnosis. I cut myself. Lots. I have cuts more often than I don’t. I used to hide my scars. Even though I’m extremely embarrassed about them, they’re what I am. I can’t just hide all the time. The last 20-25 years I have hidden my depression/anxiety. I’ve made a life out of bottling feelings and emotions. I have EXTREME trust issues. I trust very reluctantly, and I have most definitely been burnt in the past. I dissociate, regularly. Sometimes for seconds, sometimes for hours. I am haunted by thoughts and dreams. Every. Single. Day. I dream vividly, both good dreams and nightmares. I get tremors. I have anxious twitches. I battle my thoughts all day, every day. Oh yeah, and I’m pretty heavily medicated.

So… What do you think. Those of you that know me are quite likely surprised to read all that. You’re likely saying ” yeah, but there’s way more to you than that…” And I do know there’s way more to me than that. But the thing is, my mind has a whole lot of control. I’m working at fixing that, but when I look at myself, that is what I see. The description I wrote is all that I see. That is why it’s so hard for people to understand. It’s not that I don’t know the “truth”. It’s kind of like the kid who is tormented by bullies. Emotionally he gets beaten down and beaten down until he mentally gives in. He starts seeing himself the way the bullies see him. As worthless. It’s the same with me. Only the “bully” is my mind, and I can never get away from it. I’m learning methods to cope, but it’s still very natural to resort to self-harm. I believe that I’m worthless. I tell myself everyone would be better off if I was dead. And I often convince myself it’s true.

I think that’s where most people get hung up. “How can you hate yourself so much?” I don’t want to. It sucks! But when that’s what I am being told, you break down. You give in. You fight like hell not to give up.

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When ANXIETY & DEPRESSION Collide…

For months now my wife has been trying to get me to write down my dreams. To write down how/what I feel during my anxiety attacks, or when I get locked into depression. For her, she wants to know… she wants to understand so that she knows how to best support me. For months I have refused. Partially because for literally 15plus years I have put all my efforts into hiding my hardships. Presenting myself as normal, and avoiding anything that may possibly provoke questions. I’ve allowed myself to be socially outgoing enough to avoid questions, but also private enough to not allow people to get to know me. But the longer I go writing this blog and sharing my story, the more I realize that it’s my being authentic that is having the impact on people. Anyone can search “Borderline Personality Disorder” and learn about ‘the illness’, but my goal is to present that ‘illness’ in the most intimate and authentic way I can. Understand that this blog is MY story on life and BPD. It’s not by any means a guide-book… but simply my life in my own words.

“Anyone can search “Borderline Personality Disorder”” and learn about the ‘illness’, but my goal is to present that ‘illness’ in the most intimate and authentic way I can”

 I wrote this while I was still in a state of severe depression. The anxiety/depression that I’ll be describing took place over the course of about an hour. I’m going to write it directly from my notebook, so there are parts that may not make sense… but you’ll get the just of it all. Here’s an example of when my Anxiety and Depression collide.

My chest feels heavy… like my lungs are having to operate at 300% capacity to just breathe. My heart is pounding… pounding so hard it actually, physically hurts. My throat is tight, feels like a towel being wrung out of water. I can’t tell if I’m having a hard time swallowing, or if my brain has just given up on telling me how to function properly for the time being. There is so much noise and chaos in my head and mind. It’s a strenuous chore to track down even a hint of an actual thought. It’s a mentally painful process. It literally hurts like a headache… it comes, then it goes as quickly as it came, then before you know it it’s back again. It’s driving me crazy!! I don’t know how to stop it! I barely know how to slow it. The room spins. My stomach turns as the room spins. I focus on a picture on the wall, but I can’t stay focused. My eyes and mind drift to the left. I have the sensation of falling…a vertigo of sorts, slowly to the side. Then my eyes and my focus return again and again to the picture. My perception of reality is slowed down… life is happening in slow-motion, but then a thought will grab me and grip me, and take me off for a ride with or without my approval, or my knowledge for that matter. My head is now throbbing, not in pain, but literal pounding. Like there’s a party going on in the apartment next door… the music is loud and the beat dictates the pace of you thoughts to an unbearable level of disturbed frustration. Only you can’t bang on the wall or call the police. I can only live with it. Bare down and tough it out. My hands are numb and tingly, alms as if my arms are no longer attached to my body.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a switch is flipped…

I’m now EXTREMELY aware of EVERYTHING. My senses are all simultaneously firing. The fan running outside my bedroom window is obnoxious. The pilled lint on the comforter is a huge annoyance. I can smell the day old essential oils in the defuser. The shadow of my hand trying to write down thoughts frustrates me to the point of throwing in the towel. My heart is no longer pounding, but is now racing. My breathing accelerates. My focus now is there, but is shuffling from thought to thought faster than I can make sense of it all. But I do see each and every thought in a barrage of mental images. But I see them. The negative thoughts stick. They sink in. They hurt me. Tell me how desperate I am. Pathetic I am. Un-needed. Un-wanted. A waste. An embarrassment. Now the thoughts start slowing. The breathing, the heartbeat, the mind. Everything slowing to allow mw to give 100% of my attention to how terrible a person I am. How I don’t deserve the good in my life, and the bad that I do deserve is coming. I need to be held accountable for all the hurt I have caused. That I need to pay for it, and I need to face my punishment head on. This now has full power and control of my mind. I hate myself. I really, REALLY HATE myself. And for good reason. The same reason I lose everyone I care about in my life. I am unlovable. I am unlikable. It’s just a matter of time before everyone I love realizes this and leaves. I hate myself. I HATE myself. I want to hurt myself. I want to kill myself.

This is my life. This is what I live with every day. Some days are worse than others. Some days are a whole day and sleepless night of episode after episode. Others are less, but what I’ve described is very much routine. I’ve grown used to it. I can hide it very well, and I allow it to have minimal effect on my life. But I’m guessing others that struggle with anxiety/depression would suffer similar “episodes”.

…too much to dream last night. “Carnival”

It’s a hot, muggy and overcast summer day. Sherry and I, along with the kids are walking along a brook… the kids running ahead to throw rocks in the stream. It must be the 1920’s-30’s based on our period clothing. We come up to a small trestle bridge going over the water with a train sitting at rest crossing the bridge. The sound of music and laughter can be heard and the smell of burnt coal can’t be missed as we walk up the embankment and around the Engine car of the train. There on the other side of the tracks is a country fair and traveling circus. A true country carnival. Evening suddenly falls quickly as we make our way into the fairgrounds. Bells and whistles from the games are drowned out by the shouts and laughter of the children. A little blonde boy with his sister in hand is selling lilacs for a penny. The smell of popcorn is heavy, and of cotton candy, you can almost taste it. Without even realizing it, everything is dark. The lights are enchanting. The band is playing music and people are dancing. Everyone is beginning to gather in the open midway to watch the fireworks. The whistle shrieks as the rocket takes flight. Then with a tremendous BANG it bursts and green embers rain down from the sky. It’s beautiful. It’s Mystical. It’s haunting.

I’m caught of guard and find myself taking a step back from the sound and brightness of the explosion. I look down at the kids… both of them laughing with their fingers in their ears, but everything else is different. The bright lights are still flashing. The  children are still running around laughing and playing. The smell of the carnival food is still heavy in the air… but its gone grey. With the exception of the lights and the children everything else is black and white. And emotionless. Faces looking straight forward with blank stares. I look back to comment on how eerie this all is, and my wife and kids are gone. Nowhere to be seen. I’m frantically working my way through this crowd of never-ending emotionless people. Then I see a man and a woman ahead of me. They are both in colour, but his face is distorted. Not disfigured, but out of focus. The woman is beautiful, and wearing a bright red dress. She sees me and raises her hand to wave but the man grabs it and begins leading her through the crowd. She keeps looking back over her shoulder and motioning for me to follow. I have no idea what they want or where they’re going, but I follow. I fight my way through the crowd trying to catch up to them, but they’re constantly the same distance ahead. They duck into one of the sideshow tents, and I follow.

Darkness. Absolute darkness. I mean jet black.I can’t make out a thing. And silent. I can’t hear anything other than my breathing. I reach back for the tent door, but all I feel is wall. I work my way around the walls of the tent hands combing the walls in search of a door… a seam… anything.I can hear the woman’s laughter ahead of me, but it sounds somewhat distant. I take a step towards the voice and the ground starts moving… starts sinking. I’m trying to stay on my feet, but I start sliding downward towards the centre. A faint blue glow starts coming out of the ground that is opening before me. So faint that I can make out the outlines of the eroding ground, but that’s it. I reach back in desperation and grab ahold of a piece of rope that is tied to a peg to anchor down the tent. Then a hand reaches in from underneath the tent wall and grabs my arm. Then a second hand grabs my other arm. They pull me out from the tent and into a pile of loose straw. When I roll over to pick myself up, no one is there. The fair is completely deserted. The music is still playing, bells are still ringing, and the smells are still there, but totally desolate of people.I look back and the entire tent is collapsing down into the hole. The ground around me starts breaking loose and I’m slipping as I try to run through the straw. As I run away, even though I can’t see anyone, the midway is full of people. I’m fighting my way through an invisible crowd. And as the ground is opening I’m fighting more and more to get through.

The opening catches up to me and I begin falling down into the hole. I can hear screaming as those around me are being swallowed up. I’m starting to slide down and I grab and claw at anything I can get my hands on. I can feel peoples legs and feet as I grab hold, and as I grab them, they become visible to me. All of them turn to shake me off. Their faces blank… still void of any emotion.No fear. No panic. Nothing. Just as I finally pull my self up and to my feet again, another BANG, and blue embers falling from the sky. Now everything is visible. All the people, still in black and white. Still emotionless. Behind me everything is getting absorbed into the earth. Children are screaming and trying to flee. Then I hear it. Through the crowd and in the distance I hear the cry of my children. They’re calling my name. They’re calling for help. Then I see them. They’re in some sort of cage, and they’re reaching through the bars and calling my name.as I get closer, the cage becomes further away as if the ground between us is expanding. I’m fighting and fighting to get closer, working my way through the crowd. I look back to see the earth catching up to me. I start slipping. I begin falling. I lose sight of them completely. And now I can’t even hear them calling. I continue to fall backwards. I’m free falling. Then… I’m awake.

I have no idea how many times I’ve had this dream… countless. Some weeks every night. Some nights multiple times. But it’s always the same. Exactly the same. I hate it. It eats at me. My sleep is not restful, not at all. But… that’s just the way it is.

…too much to dream last night

…too much to dream last night. That’s the title I chose when I decided to start blogging about my experience and my “journey” through mental health. I am haunted by dreams. I have been for as long as I can remember. Not necessarily your typical “nightmares”, but very haunting dreams. What makes them haunting? They are so vivid. So detailed. So complex. And more often than not in real time. I don’t dream multiple days, or multiple events when I have these haunting dreams. I dream one thing, one event at a time. A few minutes of a day, a few hours. And detailed. There’s sights. There’s sounds. There’s smells. But the main reason they haunt me… I have them over and over and over again. Always the exact same. Right down to the tiniest of details. Like the little boy in the first dream I’l write about with his dirty face and untied shoe as he sells lilacs to the ladies for a penny.

I have awoken with a jolt many times. I’ll wake up flailing. I’ll wake up crying. And there’s been times when my dreams have been very intense and I’ve woken up to a bloody nose. But basically what I’ve decided to do is to put some of these dreams in writing. Put them as blog entries, and let others see what they think. I will mark them all as  “…too much to dream last night” so if you’re not interested you can skip right over it. But it’s just one more way I can try and get across the things that I experience and live with every day. I hope you enjoy, and as always… please feel free to comment.