Please, please read me… I want to Thank-You!!

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat here illuminated by the obnoxious glow of Mr MacBook Pro… entirely too long. Truth is, I’ve been torn. I’ve been torn between writing a blog about what I believe, and writing a blog about what will be most ‘politically correct’ and acceptable. And because of this stupid battle being waged in my mind, I’ve written nothing. I’ve had ideas… many wonderful ideas that I will most definitely be sharing, but as far as what approach to take to these ideas…mental gridlock. A stalemate. We’re getting nowhere. So what’s the problem? I’ve got ideas. I know how to write. Just get on with it already. Figure out your approach, and get on with it. So to do this, in many ways, we have to go back and start at square one. Re-lay the foundation that I’m building this blog on. Be honest both with myself, and with you reading this. So what do I need from you? Just let me reintroduce myself to you. Myself. My Blog. My Motive.

Mental Health Awareness, I guess you could say, is the purpose of this blog. Specifically Borderline Personality Disorder. My official diagnosis is Adult Male Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder, with severe Social Anxiety and Depression. There’s blog after blog out there about ‘Stigma’, and ‘labels’, and how ‘nobody understands’. I know this. I’ve seen them. And at different times my blog was becoming one of them. I’m not saying that those blogs are bad, or wrong. They’re informative. They’re eye-opening. They’re raw. They’re authentic. They make my heart ache for the ones sitting in front of the keyboards. But over the last 9 months or so there’s one thing that has become more and more apparent to me. Yes, it’s very true, people don’t understand. They don’t get it. And it’s really frustrating that they don’t. But there’s another side to that coin. Of the people that matter… they want to get it. They want to understand. They don’t want to be ignorant. It kills them that they hurt unintentionally. I 100% without a question of doubt in my mind guarantee you that out of those people that matter…the family, the friends, the supporters…every single one of them wants to understand and support you the best way possible, more than you just want them to understand. I live with BPD. I’ve lived with it for years. I have years of experience. But my wife, my kids, my family and friends. This is new to them. It blind-sided many of them. Yes, I can sit here and complain that they don’t get it when I can’t go to something because my anxieties making my brain feel like a kaleidoscope. I can get mad when they don’t get it that I just want to be alone for a while because it’s taking every ounce of strength I have to hold in tears, and no…I really don’t know what over. It’s frustrating. It hurts. And we convince ourselves that we’re all alone and nobody cares. Poor eff’n Me…

These things are frustrating, for sure, and I’m not at all trying to say that I’m past that…because I’m not. But I do have a wife that reads book after book on BPD, DBT, CBT…you name it. Sits in my Psych sessions. Drives with me to therapy to keep me calm. Goes to couples counselling with me. Keeps the kids downstairs when I’m shutting down in my room. Holds me when my minds convinced me that there’s not a soul on earth that cares about me. She’s wiped tears off of both our faces countless times. She’s been on the receiving end of an embarrassing amount of tantrums over some of the most nothing things ever. She’s always put our kids first, which is why she’s the most amazing mother ever. She’s never belittled me. She’s never said a single negative thing about our life and what we’re dealing with. She’s always treated me like a King and protected me like a true Queen. If there is anything in this world that she could have…it would be to “understand”. But yet we ‘mentally ill’ throw around the terms like #stopthestigma like the world is covered by an all-encumbacing blanket of ignorance. That not only does nobody understand me, but nobody even gives a shit to try and understand me. Yes…there are people out there like that. Many of them. Millions of them. That is why there’s such a HUGE need for #stopthestigma, #timetotalk, #suicideawareness. Mental Illness is very misunderstood and unknown. I’m not trying to cover up or make less of that. But I guess what I’m saying is that I want to acknowledge those people that don’t fit in that group. That aren’t ignorant, and that do want to ‘understand’. You are heroes, for real. You are the ones that make us feel loved. That give us self-value. That keep us alive. Thank-you.

I guess where I want to shift the attention of my blog is to help give more insight to those that aren’t in the dark, but are looking to continually better understand mental illness. Not a finger-pointing, the world hates me rhetoric that is not at all helpful to any of us. By no means am I claiming to be all-knowing or superior to anyone. My blog is 100% from my experiences in my life. I’m not going to turn this into a ‘religious blog’, but I’m also not going to shy away from the role that my faith plays in my life, and in how I view my life unfolding. Mostly, I want to help. Help support and encourage those that are battling in the trenches of mental illness. Help encourage and praise those that are trying to help rebuild the lives of us complex human beings. And to shed some light of understanding on those that are still wet behind the ears as far as mental health/mental illness goes.

So Please…follow my blog. If it’s helpful and encouraging, let me know. Share it with everyone you know, especially those that are loving on and trying desperately to understand you. If it can’t get out there, it can’t be effective. I’m also on Instagram @inkeddadBPD, on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/toomuchtodreamlastnight, and on Twitter @InkedDadBPD. Please follow any and all of these social media outlets.

Thanks again for taking the time and interest,

Dave

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DISCLAIMER!! “I am Grateful…”

This post comes with a disclaimer… “I am grateful”! I know that I often times find myself hung-up on the negatives of mental illness. How I have BPD and no one gets it. Poor me. Feel sorry for me. Leave me alone. But that’s not how it really is. Not at all. I’ve tried to stay grounded. Stay even keeled. Not let the “no one gets it” take over. My blog is about living with mental illness, specifically Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s meant to be a aid and a benefit to those on both sides of the illness… That being the sufferer and those living with (and very realy suffering with) that person.

The reality is, as a ‘supporter’ you don’t understand. You can’t understand. And that’s not a bad thing. The important thing is you don’t give up. You learn. My wife hates me talking about her in my blogs (she’s the most beautiful, amazing and modest woman I know) but there’s lots that I’ve learned from her. I keep telling her she should blog on living with me… Maybe she’ll agree to a guest blog. But the reality is that she is the most crucial cog in my support wheel. First off, she’s the one that’s there through thick and thin. When I’m freaking out punching holes in the wall, she’s there for me to hold when I’ve calmed down. When I’m down and depressed and dreaming of exiting my body and this world, she’s there… Bringing me a hot tea or coffee, not saying anything because she knows I don’t want to talk, but the fact that she’s there…just breathing beside me makes me feel loved. And at those times that’s what I dearly need. She’s never, ever not been there when I’ve wanted to talk, and she’s never ever complained about having to ‘deal with me’. I have counselling 10 days a month, and she does everything she can to come with me. She keeps me calm and relaxed on the way into the city. I know I take it for granted. And I also know that when she’s not there I freak out on the way in. I think the worst of everything, and it takes everything to ride that elevator. By the time I get to my appointment I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted. My wife truly is my barometer. She knows me so well that she sees my anxiety coming on before I do. By simply putting her hand on my arm or my leg she helps me become aware so I can work on coping before things escalate. Does Sherry understand? No. But she gets it. She gets that she doesn’t understand. She gets that she’ll never understand. But she also gets that that doesn’t mean that she can’t be the most crucial support in my life. She’s willing to go above and beyond to learn about BPD and living with BPD. Not so that she can understand what’s going on in my head, but so she can understand how I might react, and how she can most effectively be there for me. 

She loves me. She shows me that love everyday. She’s sacrificed for me. I am unbelievably blessed for all the people in my life supporting and encouraging me. I have friends willing to drop everything at 11:00 at night to drive into the city for a drink just because I need to get out and talk to get my mind out of my mental hell. We have friends and family that support both Sherry and I in countless ways, from watching our kids, covering our work, meeting for coffee or supper, or just the daily “how’s it going?” texts. We are blessed. We are fortunate. And we are grateful!! Beyond words!!

Again, I know I focus on the “you don’t understand” element more than I maybe should. Just please know it’s not meant to be a defensive “you just don’t get it!!” If that’s how it comes across, I’m truly sorry. It’s meant to be a “I know you can’t understand what’s going on in my head, but here’s the best I can explain it so you might get it.” Speaking from experience with my wife, ‘getting it’ allows you to be a much more effective supporter. I have great counsellors. I have a great psych nurse. I have a great psychiatrist. But it’s my wife who’s making the difference. She’s there everyday of the month doing that thing she does to keep me grounded. She’s the one I can’t do this without.

 

#mentalhealthawareness… Please share.

Some of you likely read my Instagram rant today… I’m not even going to apologize, it’s something that really eats at me and pisses me off. I’m actually going to run with that a bit and see where we go. I usually mention at the end of my posts to share with anyone you feel could benefit. The response I’ve received has been amazing. I am constantly blown away by the amount of people that are affected by mental illness and are bravely living life ‘flying under the radar’. It is because of this that I’m going to flat out ask you to share this blog post, or the link to my Facebook page. (you can click on the word ‘Facebook’ to directly link to my page.) I know theres so many people out there that are getting by undetected. I did this for 20+ years. Stepping out was the hardest thing I ever did, but I was at the point I really felt that if I wanted to live… if I wanted to be a father and a husband, it’s what I had to do. I’ve been blogging some of my thoughts as I’m working through my life with Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder with clinical depression and severe social anxiety. I’m hoping in doing so I can help some of you that are fighting your own demons, and for the rest of you I hope to maybe help you understand what it is we go through that makes life so challenging. Again, please share. And please respond, whether by comment or direct message. I want to hear from you.

#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder. It’s actually kind of relieving to have a ‘label’. As much as I HATE being labeled, I at least now know what I am. I’ve known I’ve been depressed. I’ve known that social settings make me anxious and uncomfortable. I’ve known I’m moody and emotional. I just didn’t know why. Yes I’ve hurt myself in different ways… it’s always replaced the more unbearable hurt that is the demons in my head. But I was a hockey player. I wasn’t weak… and only the weak hurt themselves when the can’t handle it. So I handled it. I bottled things in. I swallowed the pain. I recluses. I dissociated. I lied to myself each and every day that hey, you’re alright. This is normal. This is what everyones going through. And do you know what? I believed myself. Right up until the day I imploded. Looking back, I don’t know how I was so stupid. So gullible. But then, I do know. I wanted so badly for it to be true. I wanted so badly for those words, “You’re normal. Everyone’s going through the same thing. Everything’s going to be okay” to be true. I gripped that false sense of hope with every fibre in me. I beat myself blind of such glaring truths… truths I just couldn’t figure out. It just didn’t add up…

Why the hell is everyone so happy all the time? Seriously?!? Does no one ever have a bad day??? This is still how I feel… some people are just so damn happy it makes me uncomfortable. Like seriously, if you don’t stop laughing you’re going to wear your pumpkin-spice-latte (I detest that drink, by the way.) I don’t want you all to think I’m just miserable. But what I do want you to know is that there are many times that I am being extremely brave, extremely courageous. Putting myself out of my comfort zone and into complete vulnerability. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. Yet I willingly do it day in and day out, for you. For the ones I love. For the ones I care about. For the ones whose faces I want to see donning smiles, and enjoying their non-pumpkin-spice-latte beverages. Seeing you happy makes me happy, and it really does give me a feeling of normality. I enjoy time spent with friends. Very much. Close friends become a comfort zone. A safe place that I can let down my guards. And oh, I have guards… I have guards that have guards I’m sure.

Social anxiety and depression are the two main avenues my BPD chooses to occupy. And they completely feed off each other. My anxious spikes turn into bouts of depression. They often travel back and forth multiple times a day. My depression reminds me of laying in a pitch dark room with a smoke detector. All you can see is the smoke detector light. You know it’s the smoke detector light. There’s no surprises. Nothing to worry about. But you can’t stop thinking about the smoke detector light. You can’t stop looking at it. It’s occupying 100% of your thinking. But the light hates you. And it tells you it hates you. It won’t let you believe anything else other than it hates you, and you should hate yourself too. That’s the difference between depression and a smoke detector light… a whole lot of hate. Likely a stupid comparison. Anxiety is like the most difficult game of mental wack-a-mole. Thoughts pop and before you can hit them their gone. You try desperately to find some focus, to reign in those thoughts. To make sense of everything. But the thoughts keep popping up and down. It literally physically drives you mad. And then it’s like your thoughts are dumped and scattered like a spilled cereal box. Thoughts everywhere. No idea where to start. And now you’re depressed. This is the emotional yo-yo that is my life. That I’m supposed to just suck it up and get over.

The thing with labels is that on the flip-side there’s often ‘product information’. What we are made of. Dreams, hopes, ambitions. Hurts and struggles. Warnings and Advisories. Stats and figures. The stat that scares me, and actually is a major driving force behind me working my ass off in therapy is this. One in ten people with BPD will successfully commit suicide. Let me say that again. If you have ten people standing in front of you with BPD, one of them will commit suicide. Still not getting it? I come from a small town of about 1500 people. If all 1500 of us had BPD, 150 of us would SUCCESSFULLY commit suicide. Who knows how many others would fail at trying. Those stats are staggering. STAGGERING. But you know, stop seeking attention. Stop milking it. I never really understood stigma. I always kind of thought of it as a marketing gimmick. A way of raising awareness. #stopthestigma. Yes, it’s a way of raising awareness, but stigma is also a very real thing. And the thing is, it 100% of the time comes from the uneducated and the ignorant. So many people have told me they were unaware of the complexity of mental illness. That they simply had no idea. Most still don’t get it, but are making efforts to understand. Some simply have no idea or desire to know. It doesn’t affect them. They have their bubble, and until mental illness penetrates that bubble, they have no desire to walk that path. And that I can respect. It’s foolish, but I get it. It’s the ignorant people that I have literally absolutely zero respect for. Those that belittle the fact that your ‘illness’ is anything more than a gimmick. A gimmick for attention. A gimmick to avoid taking accountability for action. A gimmick to manipulate and persuade for a more favourable position or outcome. Those are the ones that aren’t worth the time it takes to even curse them. I, fortunately, haven’t had to deal directly with stigma that often, but I have had to. And I’ve also had to on fairly personal levels. And because of this I have gained a whole new understanding of the hurt. The pain. The literal suffering that many of us trudge through. The murky hate-infested waters we find ourselves drowning in. It sucks. And it’s so avoidable. SO AVOIDABLE!! Please pass this on. Follow my blog either directly through my WordPress blog (<-click ‘wordpress’ for link), ‘Like’ and follow my Facebook page (<-click ‘Facebook’ for link) Follow me on Instagram (<-click ‘instagram’ for link). The unknown, the unsure, the confusion and the misunderstanding of mental health is where lies the problem. We have to start looking past the labels. Seeing whats inside the package. Learning how to properly handle the product. If we can help clear the confusion. Make known what we deal with, and give understanding to those wanting to help, then we can go a long way in breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Help ME – Help YOU!!

“Bloggers…don’t they have anything better to do than sit on their computers playing Candy Crush and writing their stupid feelings? SERIOUSLY…get a real job!!”

This was me. And not even that terrible long ago. I never ever saw myself a blogger. I’ve always found writing to be fairly easy, and after the passing of our son I had aspirations of writing a support and encouragement book related to that. That idea’s still in the plans, but placed on the top shelf for the time being.

But my blog. I’ve really come to enjoy it. I find it therapeutic. Most people with mental illnesses are encouraged to journal. To keep an ongoing log of their progress or decline. And it’s a great idea. I journal as often as I can, but there was something that always bothered me. The day to day stuff was easy. What did I do…what made me happy…what made me sad. No problem. It was the actual issues. The hurts. The struggles. Those are the things that were/are extremely difficult. My whole life has been hiding. Bottling emotions and feelings. I’ve worn a mask that became not some much comfortable but reassuring. With the mask I was safe. With the mask people couldn’t hurt me, but with the mask people couldn’t know me either. Journalling the heavy stuff opens some pretty deep wounds. Difficult times and haunting memories. It brings out all this pent up emotion, gets written on paper where I can see it. Read it. Relive it. It all becomes fresh and painful all over again. Then you just close the book, swallow it all down, and bottle it tight.

I suffer extreme social anxiety. I scored very high on my screening test, and I start group sessions for that in a couple weeks. If you know me you’re likely thinking “But you’re so social, how can you have social anxiety?” Well, I’m really good at hiding it. To me, throwing myself to the wolves sometimes helps. I can’t shut down. I can’t dissociate. It’s hard. It’s trying. And it’s exhausting. I often have to go ‘debrief’ in my bedroom when I come home just to clean out the mental cobwebs that were being spun by that spider that is chaos in your mind. I don’t like talking about my BPD. “WHAT??!! But your blog…?” Yes, talking about my health is hard. I’m forcing myself to do it, but it’s still very hard to do in person. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, but the social discomfort is unbearable when talking BPD at times. That’s where the blog is a perfect fit. I can vent, let out emotion, let out hurt. Be vulnerable and open up without seeing anyone. Without feeling the fear, and the judgement. I don’t have to close the book and bottle up, but instead I can post and breathe that sigh of comfort in knowing that I did it. I shared my heart. I went out of my comfort zone to influence others. And that’s where the purpose of this blog comes in.

Because of my BPD being hidden for so long, most of my family and friends were completely caught off guard with the diagnosis. They have done lots of ‘google’ research, and have lots of questions. My blog started out as a way for my family and friends to read and stay involved with my ‘journey’. But the response has been huge. I’ve had people who suffer mental illnesses contacting me to thank me for putting the words out there. That they can relate, and that it’s nice to know they’re not alone. I’ve had family members or friends contact me thanking me for bringing some understanding to the subject. I feel a great deal of honour and privilege to be able to have the platform and the opportunity to use my “illness” in a positive and influential way.

With that, I have a request. Please share my blog. I think the movie with the most well-known movie quotes has to be Jerry Maguire. I’m going to steal one more… “Help me, help you… Help ME Help YOU.” So please, If you’re on Facebook, share my link. Twitter, retweet. I believe very strongly I have a good thing going, and the more people I can reach, the more effective this can be.

Thanks…
Dave