…who am I?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the last couple weeks about “who am I?” I know for anyone who’s done counselling (yes, I realize I start a lot of points by saying that…but it’s true) “who am I?” Is kind of the meat and potatoes of it all. If you can figure out who you are, and how you work, all the worlds problems will be solved, the Stars will align, and you along with everything that is crashing violently through that mind of yours will make sense. You’ll be fixed… Or something like that. But it all starts with “who am I?”

I love passionately. I believe this is the greatest gift that I have to give. The problem is, I hate just as passionately. And the funny thing with “love” and “hate” is that they are opposite intense emotions that I have never quite figured out how to express properly and separately. Far too often I mix up emotions of love with emotions of hate, and leave a trail of hurt behind me. You hear the expression of “Borderlines”, “I hate you…please don’t leave me.” The first time I read that I kind of laughed. “That sounds stupid…” I thought. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s me. I love and I love and I love, then I get scared. Whether something happens, something gets missed, something gets forgotten, I have a dream… Whatever the case may be, I get scared. “Fear of Abandonment”, is what I’ve been told. I feel there’s going to be a Frey in the relationship, and in my mind it’s going to be major. Severing, even. I’m going to get hurt… And I’m going to get hurt bad. So what do I do? Obviously, I beat you to the punch. I throw a jab, a low blow. A cheap shot. And I make sure it hurts. I avoid getting hurt myself by hurting you first. You. The person I legitimately love with all of me. I. Hurt. You. 

I am a father of three. Tiegan, my daughter is nine… She’s a princess and the most beautiful soul I’ve ever held in my heart. Vincent is five. He’s my man. The lil’dude. Full of questions. And he loves his daddy. I am his hero… A title that I have not learned, have not lived up to, but most importantly… I haven’t given up on. And Dayton. Dayton was our second child, our first son born six years ago this past April. He was born with an intestinal condition called gastroschisesis, and he was unable to win the battle. We got to spend an amazing twenty six days with him. He was loved by many in that short time. I love my kids. Obviously, every dad does. But I have to fight with myself every day to reassure myself that I’m a competent dad. What do my kids have as a role model? I’m unstable. I’ve spent time in a mental hospital. I spend days in therapy… I have five hours of therapy tomorrow alone. I’ve made late night hospital visits to get sewn back up. I’ve had episodes. I’ve had tantrums. I’ve been saved from suicide cut down from the roof of my garage on the verge of blacking out. My kids don’t know details, of course… But nothing makes you feel like a piece of shit faster than hearing that your daughter is having to explain to kids at school not only why her daddy has scars on his arms, but why he cuts HIMSELF on top of it. My heart breaks. I cry. I hurt. I feel completely unworthy and inadequate.

I’m a husband. I’ve put my wife through hell. She’s had to make the adjustments. Always her. She makes the calls. Makes the arrangements, juggles the schedules all while doing everything that she can to keep me happy. She’s my queen, and she’s far more private than I am, so I’ll respect that by simply saying that she’s truly amazing. I could never give her the credit she deserves…so maybe it’s best that I don’t even try.

I’ve got Borderline Personality Disorder. I try not to let mental illness define me, but in so many ways it does. For years I was totally unaware of there being anything. I knew I had depression and anxiety, but so did everyone else. I always thought it was normal. I just couldn’t figure out how everyone was able to live as though nothing was wrong. But now, having a label, there’s so much that makes sense. I can see behavioural patterns. I can see stages in my life that were effected by how I reacted or responded. How I desperately want the people I love to be happy, while having a complete absence of care for those I hate. My emotions are still erratic. I’m medicated to help with the control of this. Right now I am unable to control myself without the use of meds, so I think I’m where I need to be. I’ve got a psychiatrist, a psych nurse, a talk therapist, a couples counsellor, and an anxiety counsellor that make up a team I work with regularly. I’m early on…first year of expected five to ten years…but it’s going well. I feel I’m in the right place. It’s hard. In so many ways it sucks. But it’ll be worth it.

  
I have dreams. This is likely the hardest part of my life. And by probably, I mean most definitely. I have nightmares. I dream vivently. I dream violently. It’s bad enough that I beat myself all day about being inadequate or unwanted, but then I’m scared to go to sleep at night because I know they’re coming. And there’s nothing I can do. And I’ll dream the same dream over and over and over. Mast of them involve my family being taken from me, or me from them. But a lot are more just personal torture. Most nights I’m awake four or five times a night, meaning I have the same dream likely the same amount of times.

I got told that when blogging, anything over 800 words people lose interest and stop reading. I know I’m way past that, so if you’re still reading, thank you, and I’m sorry. I’m hoping that I can help some of you understand a little bit more what it is that we go through on a daily basis. I’m not looking for sympathy, but would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Please share this post…I’d love to share my words with as many as possible.

Thanks agan,

Dave

…roadblocks

This last month or so has been really tough sledding for me. It’s been so incredibly frustrating and morally deflating. Therapy is in full swing… Right now I’m doing between 4 and 6 hours a week, which is mentally overwhelming on it’s own. I think things are going good… I’m in an anxiety group right now that is really making me see that hey, I’m not the only nut-job out there. There’s been some milestones as well, which although rewarding are also very difficult. I’m two months free of cutting, and now six months since my last suicide attempt. It’s reassuring to know that I’ve been able to hold off on my urges/desires. I’ve learned methods to cope. To redirect the negative thinking. But it’s frustrating because those thoughts are still there. And not only are they there, they weigh heavier on me now than they ever have. I have nightmares. Vivid and violent nightmares. Every. Single. Night. I blame myself for everything. Literally everything. My self worth is at an all time low. But what do you do to fix that? I mean, how do you learn to love and accept the person that you hate and dispise the most. I pray for that person to die. To just vanish. But I know that’s not going to happen. But the reality of learning to accept and live with that person is so far in the distance it’s really not even a reality at all. 

Stigma. Stigma is a bitch, really. I wish that more of it was true, really. Like attention seeking. I know full well there’s people that think I just want attention. That I’m just trying to avoid having to take responsibilities and shift the focus to poor me. To those that think that, you don’t know how much I wish that was true. 6 hours of therapy a week is not fun. Only being able to work 75% time is not comforting. Knowing that your nine year old daughter is having to explain cuts on her daddy’s arms does not make me feel good about myself. The fact that I literally got cut down from the ceiling of my garage in an attempt to end it all is not something I celebrate. I wish I just wanted attention, because then at least it would be an option to just make this all end. I could just accept enough is enough… I’ve hurt far to many people, it’s time to grow up and accept responsibility. Just be a man, say your sorry, and move on. I wish that was case. But it’s not.

The amount of people I’ve hurt in my wake over the years is excruciating for me to think about. Directly or indirectly I’ve hurt every single person of importance in my life. I’ve burned bridges, some very intentionally, but others not at all. I’ve lost friendships, and I’ve damaged the hearts of those that mean the most to me. I try to find reason. I try to justify actions. But the reality is I hold myself 100% responsible for everything. And the reality is that I can’t forgive myself for my actions. I just swallow it. Grit my teeth and bear it. Why? Because it’s the only option? Of course it’s not the only option. I could just accept that mistakes were made. Learn from them and move on. But I just can’t do it. I can’t find it in me to forgive myself. All I know is directing anger and hate inward, I can bear it, I can handle it. I don’t expect anyone to understand me. I don’t understand myself. Hate me all you want, and know I feel the same. If you think I’m attention seeking, so be it. Just know that I’m trying, and failing, but still trying. And the only thing I have to say for myself is… I’m sorry.

…he’s my son

Spring has arrived to welcoming arms here in Saskatchewan. The snow has gone, the temperatures have risen, and the leaves are finally showing up again. We’ve had a few showers (and an extremely unwelcome 12″ April snowfall) and things are clean, and fresh, and green. Spring really is a beautiful season…full of re growth and new life. I love it!

Spring is also an extremely difficult time of year for me. A mixed bag of unforgettable timeless memories, gut-wrenching pain, and sorrows that have left scars that will never heal. This year is no different, only it’s much heavier. The last year has brought on all new challenges that have just added to the heaviness of the memories that were already there. I’m now in month eight of counselling, for one, and we have literally had to learn a new way of life in so many ways. This afternoon was fairly typical. I started getting anxious and worked up a bit. I went upstairs to my room and flopped down on the pile of my daughters bedding piled on my bed. I was on my iPad and listening to music when I heard my son walk in. Vince is 5, and I’m so proud to say is a little daddy’s boy. We have lots of “man-time”…we go for coffee, work on my truck…he even helped pick out my new truck!! I love my boy to no end. He’s my man, my lil’dude. But when I’m needing MY time and space, even he knows I need it and both the kids are very good at just leaving me be. So when Vince walked in, my first reaction was annoyed and upset. I turned to say something, but I realized that he wasn’t even there to ask me anything. Not to bother me, but just to be close to me. He didn’t even look at me, just curled up on the floor beside me with his iPad. 

I rolled over and kept reading when I heard it… And when I heard it it tore right into my chest through my ribs, grabbed my heart and ripped it out holding it in front of me… A heart full of sadness. A heart full of pain. I heart full of rejection. Of anger. Of fear. Of an answered questions. Of unanswered prayers. Of Hate. But also a heart full of pride. Of excitement . Abundant affection. Of peace. Of hope. Of love. He was watching the video Sherry and I had made for our son Dayton’s funeral six years ago. Both our kids love watching it. Tiegan was three when Dayton passed, and Vince came the following year… So that video and pictures are all they really know of their brother. And it made me think of Mother’s Day, and that Mother’s Day we spent in the RUH NICU six years ago. It was perfect. It sits extremely high on my “best days ever” list. My daughter got brought in wearing a beautiful new dress, just for Mother’s Day. She got to spend some rare personal time with her brother. And we got to spend some rare time with our, at the time, completed family. The joy on my wife’s face to this day and forever etched into my memory. Knowing that this would be the only Mothers Day she’d ever share with both her children, but full of pride and joy for the moment. Her strength is undeniable. Her poise is amazing. And her character I view with such pride.

In that moment I couldn’t help but pull my son up into bed with me. I pulled him in, like a little owl under my wing. “Do you want me to start it over?” He asked. “I sure do, buddy.” 

“I sure love Dayton…and I miss him a lot. Do you, dad?”

“Everyday… everyday.”

 
Click here for link to Dayton’s video.

fix me…

I just want to be fixed…

This is the point that I’m at. It’s been far too long. The novelty has long since worn off. Counselling sessions continually reveal to me in all sorts of new ways just how messed up I really am. Every book I flip through defines me more and more. Every article I read makes me aware of something in my life I was previously unaware of… But now it’s all I can think of. 10 days. 10 days a month. That’s my scheduled “fix me” time each month. 10 appointments a month. What has my life turned into? Were things really that bad before? Or have things escalated over the last few months? Seriously, what is going on?

“Awareness” is a word that anyone who’s done any sort of counselling likely knows all too well. Aware of your thoughts. Aware of your surroundings. Aware of your emotions. Aware of things you didn’t even have any idea were happening…before they actually happen. It’s great, it really is. It’s helped so much in understanding and coping with things that are going on both in my head and my surroundings. But here’s the thing… The problems that I thought I had could be summed up and held like an apple in the palm of my hand. Now, after months of therapy, that apple makes a whole lot more sense. I understand it’s make-up. I’m somewhat confident I can protect and control THAT apple. But the problem is that I’m now also very aware of the orchard that that apple’s been plucked from. What I first saw as a pool I needed to wade through has turned into an ocean. And I’m right there in the middle, holding my apple of understanding, but completely overwhelmed and underprepared. 

Some days I see the progress, and it is rewarding. Most days I just see the never ending road that I know I have ahead of me and I’m completely overwhelmed. Fear has recently consistently found its way into my head. Fear for things that I have no control over. I have panic attacks. Worse than ever. Way worse. I used to get them, small and manageable. Today I found myself locked in the bathroom sitting on the floor crying and freaking out over something completely out of my control. I have fear because all I’ve ever known as a sure way to end the chaos and the happenings in my head is to hurt myself. I’m coming up on 2 months free of that, but I think about it everyday. I have dreams and visions that haunt at me. The take over my mind. Is this something new? Or is it just something I’m more aware of now? Sometimes I really wonder if I was better off unknowing and simply deeply troubled. I’m still deeply troubled, but now my trouble has a label, an agenda, and a timeline.

Please don’t take this as me questioning the benefits of professional help. I’m not at all. There’s a very good chance that professional mental health has saved my life. I just wish I could be writing about how easy things are. How daily rewarding it all is. How there’s been a night and day change in my life. But that’s not true. Yes, it’s rewarding…but the challenges that I face often overshadow those rewards. But the rewards are there. I still struggle with suicide daily. Self harm has been the biggest thing I’ve learned to control, but at what cost? That used to stop my thoughts from escalating to suicidal, but know I just trust my coping methods and safety plans to protect me when the cuttings not there. Training IS crucial. Therapy a very key piece to it all. I wish it was simple. I wish it was easy. I wish I could just wake up from one of my terrible dreams and have everything just realign and have me be normal. Be fixed. Be freed.

Writing is an escape for me. Not in the sense that I escape, but that it allows some of my tensions. Some of my thoughts. Some of my hurts to escape my mind through writing. I’ve blogged very little over the last month or two. I’m hoping to be back sharing my thoughts more frequently again now. In so many ways I’m lost way deeper in my mind and in my anxiety/depression than I ever have been before. But I also know there’s improvement both mentally in my mind and spiritually in my heart. I have so much I want to say… I just hope I’m able to find the words to say them. Thank you for taking the time to follow, and as always, please feel free to share.

Thanks again,

Dave