…be a hero.

It doesn’t matter how bad your problems are,

They will always tell you someone has it worse,

Nobody is going to care,

Til you tie that rope and kick the fucking chair.

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

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

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

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

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

…there is hope. (**trigger warning**)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can you come home?”

“Ok”

“I’m in the garage”

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

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

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

There is always hope.

#TBT …stepping out

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

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

Thanks again.

Dave