…battle wounds

“I think scars are like battle wounds – beautiful in a way. They show what you’ve been through & how strong you are for coming out of it.”

– Demi Lovato

I Instagram’d this quote earlier today. It’s a quote that i read quite regularly…I’ve got it saved on my phone, it’s shared often on Mental Health sites, and you google “mental health quotes” and it’s sure to pop up. But as much as I love the quote…I love the triumphant overtone amidst the soft and subtle almost romantic undertone. It’s a beautiful quote by an equally beautiful advocate for mental health. But where I get hung up…I’m not there. I’ve got scars… I’ve got hundreds of them. And they are most definitely battle wounds. But there’s nothing beautiful about them. I haven’t been ‘through’ anything. I am stuck in the midst of a battle that has no beginning and no foreseeable end. There’s no ‘through’ on the horizon, no matter how distant I strain to see. The idea of strength and perseverance is what I have, and the hope of coming out is what I cling to. Persistence. Perseverance. Hope.

I have a love/hate relationship with my scars. I don’t hide them. I want to hide them. I want more than anything to just cover them up and pretend they’re not there. But I’ve made a point to not hide them. You see, I did an amazing job of keeping things together. I’ve really struggled with depression/anxiety for as long as I can remember. It got really bad when I went away to boarding school for grade twelve. But I was always able to keep things under wraps. I made it through all my years of high school, two years of college, and ten plus years beyond that keeping everything bottled in. I found my ways to cope. To blow off energy. But mostly I hid. Sleeping in as long as possible became routine. I stayed up late at night because thats when I could most easily be alone. I had friends, but no close friends. I never allowed anyone to get close…that might result in me having to open up. I learned early how to appear social. Extremely social even. If you look at your story as a book, I had a theory. Say your book is twelve chapters long. I very easily opened myself up to say chapter five without any prompting. This usually was more than enough to satisfy any questions people had. I opened up quicker and easier than most, to that point, then the book closed. I let very few people read beyond chapter five. Like count on your fingers few. You got it…it’s depressing, but I’ve had single digit close friends. Everyone else I kept at a safe distance. I do it to this day. It’s something I’m working on, but I have ridiculous trust issues that I’m just unwilling to get past. Hopefully in time…you know, when I “see how strong I am for coming out”.

But I consciously decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. As much as I was able to bottle things up and cope, the thought of suicide has always been there. It actually goes beyond that…I’ve dreamed of suicide many times. It scares the shit out of my wife every time I say this, but I am 99% confident that that is how I’m going to die. I don’t know why…it’s not that I’m wanting to go off myself tomorrow or anything. This isn’t my “note” or farewell or anything like that. It’s just that’s where my belief has always been. It’s a seed planted deep, I guess. Last spring was when the thoughts started becoming more and more prominent. My dreams were getting darker, and it was getting harder and harder to manage and block out the chaos in my mind. I made many late night drives out to the bridge. Some with intention, others just to scream. (screaming does help, by the way). I ended up spending some time in the mental health centre after I had gone a little excessive with the self harm. It was coming out of the hospital that I decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. My kids were aware of them, and I didn’t want them to feel they needed to hide or lie to people about their dad because I was trying to keep private. The scars aren’t going anywhere. It’s live with them, or spend my life continuing to hide.

So I bare my arms. I don’t do it proudly…quite the opposite. I am very much embarrassed and ashamed of my arms. I hate the fact that my daughter is already having to explain to her friends that her dad cuts himself when he’s “sad”. I’m terrified that she’s going to see this as an acceptable way to deal with pain. But at the same time, what do I do. I feel like people are staring at me all the time. I go crazy trying to figure out what they are thinking. Just today I got asked to look at my tattoos. I turned around to show, and her eyes locked on what are five not yet healed cuts. She didn’t know what to say…I didn’t know what to say. SCARS SUCK!! I hate them so bad.

BUT…ready for this? I love my scars!! Confusion…but you just went on for 915 words (according to my word counter in the corner of my screen) about how much you hated your scars… Yes. Yes I did. But many of those cuts came when I wanted nothing more than to end my life. I fought and wrestled with my demons to not take that drive. To put away that rope. To lower the blade from my throat, and to turn over that wrist. Cutting has literally saved my life on multiple occasions. That’s not to say I don’t need to find better ways to cope… I most definitely do. But when I look at my arms I can remember the moments that drove me to cut. I remember the battles being waged in my mind. And I remember how that cut made all those thoughts go away.

I hope that one day I can look at my scars romantically beautifully. A testimony of what I’ve been through and come out of. But for now they are just battle wounds. Affirmation of the mental hell I’m trapped in. A reminder of my minds desires which my heart and my will have to this point prevailed. Yes, my scars are battle wounds…but they are a far cry from beautiful.

…just another Thursday 

I am livid. By the time I actually get through the front door, I don’t even remember what it is I’m mad about. And I don’t care. There’s only one thing I know for sure… I’m done. I’m gone. I. Am. Outta’here. I’m up the stairs. I don’t even know if I’m breathing anymore. I can’t tell. My heart is pounding right out of my chest, my eyes are leaking, and my jaw is grinding the shit out of my teeth as I rifle through clothes jamming them into my bag. Where am I going? I don’t know, and I don’t care. What am I doing? Again, don’t know…don’t care. I just want out. I just need out. My mind is killing me. Some days slowly and inconspicuous-like. But then there’s days like today where my mind is gouging my thoughts like a blade through butter. It’s blaring like an alarm the extent of my self-hatred. It’s literally eating me on the inside. It’s killing me.

I grab my bag and head down stairs. I head to the kitchen to grab my meds…silence. Suddenly my thoughts are a fog. Like slow motion in a movie I reach for my pill-pac. I can hear my heart beat. I’m not thinking, but I’m understanding. My mind is functioning. It’s controlling my thoughts, but I’m not even aware of my thoughts. I’ve emptied into a zippy-bag all the meds I have. Lithium. Prozac. Lemotragine. Seroquel. Pain killers. Sleep aids. They’re all there. A colourful little congregation in a zip-lok bag. I’m gone. I’m out. I’ve got my bag of pills, a couple knives and a sleeve of blades. They’re tucked in the console, and I’m ready.

The drive is a blur. I stop at a service station and stock up with energy drinks. I don’t even remember how many…two, four maybe. All I know is that by the time I get to the city, they’re gone. Just a trail of empty cans scattered across my passenger seat floor. I’ve left my phone. I didn’t want it. I don’t want anyone knowing where I am. Where I’m going. I don’t want to be interrupted, and I certainly don’t want to be found. But as I get to the city I feel something. Fear. Uncertainty. What if I’m making a mistake? What if this goes bad. What if I fail. Then what? I reel inside of my head. I fight to find some order. To make some sense of the blur. The chaos. I have to reach out… Don’t I? I grab my iPad and pull into a McDonald’s lot. Free wifi…and the only option for contacting help I have. I make myself a deal…if there’s response to this message, I take it as a sign. I pack it in. Abort the plan, and take it as a sign that today’s not the day.

“So…am I still banished?”

A simple text. An asshole text. A text that’s going to sting it’s recipient. But a text sent. And delivered. I wait, and I wait, and I wait. I wait for what seems like an eternity. No response. I close my iPad and leave the restaurant. I wipe away tears as I start my truck and continue on my way. I head downtown to the movie theatre. I find parking right outside the theatre doors. I check my iPad one more time to see if maybe I had just missed seeing a reply. Nothing. I take a few pills to settle me down. Quite a few. I head into the bar connected to the theatre and take a seat in a corner booth. I’m obviously in a rough state emotionally, as the waitress inquires if everything’s ok. I assure her that it is, and order myself a double. Then a second. And finally a third.. Between my meds and the drinks I’m settled in a comforting fog. I pay for my drinks and head out the door. I am ready. I’m ready to finally step out of my shadows. To step out of my shell and be a man. To finally take control in my life…something I can’t even remember the last time I had. I go to my truck, I grab my pills and a knife, and I head into the theatre.

Sitting in the back row my head starts spinning. It’s actually painful, and I literally have to hold my head in my hands to slow the spinning down. I lay back in my seat as the previews begin to start. Alone in the back row, I reach into my pocket and pull out the knife. I roll up my shirt sleeve, place the place on my skin, and press it firmly into my skin. As the burn sets in and the blood starts surfacing I pull the blade though my flesh, eyes clenched shut as the blade pulls away from my skin. Opening my eyes I see the blood running down my arm and dripping to the floor. Control of my thoughts is slowly returning. I cut myself three more times, and I’m laying back in my seat almost delirious. I reach again into my pocket pulling out my meds. My Baggie of pills. A congregation about two hundred strong ready to serve their leader. I start out a couple pills at a time. Then a few. Half dozen. A handful. Before I know it, the bag is gone. 

My chest is heavy. My head foggy. What have I done? I feel fear creep in. I reach for my drink, and I falls to the floor. I reach up to try and force myself to puke, but my motor skills have seized. The previews end, the lights go dim. I close my eyes. I open them, the lights go dim, I close my eyes. Again I open them. The lights go dim…

But but there was a response to that text. A simple “I’m coming home” My conditions were met. I was able to avoid the grasps of suicide one more time. But I’m haunted. My plan, my plan to end it all. The conclusion that I described in this blog is a nightmare. It plays over and over in my sleep. In my awake hours. It’s so real. I feel the blades in my arm, a feeling that although I’m over two months cut-free, oh how I miss that feeling. I see the blood. I feel the pills going down. It’s all so real. I see it. I know the outcome. I’m in love with the outcome. And there lies my greatest obstacle, and one of my most real fears.

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

Get out of the Harbour!!

I am a ‘Prairie Boy’, born and raised on the bald, flat prairies of Saskatchewan. Maybe that’s why I have the intrigue of the ocean that I do. My wife and I have different times talked about the east coast as a landing spot for our family. The reasons? Obviously fresh seafood. I love the history and the culture of the eastern coast. And I’m fascinated by the ocean. Watching the waves crash in. The sounds. The smell of the salt in the air. I could definitely get used to all that. Maybe someday… maybe.

The fascination of the ocean is what got me thinking today. There’s just something awe-striking about the sheer expanse of water… as far as the eye can see and not a hint of land. How water at one moment can be calm and serene, looking more like a mirror reflecting the expanse of the sky above than a body of water. But then that same water can later be found crashing into the shore with such force that it destroys anything and everything in its way. It’s amazing. It’s intriguing. And it demands such a fearful respect out of anyone who’s willing to venture out on its seemingly infinite sprawl. To be out on the water, just you and the vessel, completely at the mercy of the sea.

The parallel can so very easily be drawn between the sea, and the mind of one Mr. David Stone. Just like the sea, the human mind is a ridiculously fascinating subject. I mean, we… well not me, but scientists believe that we are only using a small percentage of what our brain is capable of. Our brain is near infinite in its potential capabilities. It’s huge, not in physical size, but in mental capacity. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing I’ve navigated about as much of my mind as I have of the sea. And that’s crazy to think about. It’s overwhelming. And for someone like myself, who suffers from mental illness… it’s scary.

In one hand, it makes it much easier to see and attempt to comprehend why it is that I so easily get lost in the voids of my mind. How one minute I’ll be working, or reading, or looking at my phone, and the next I’m gone. Completely gone. Like I’m floating in the middle of the sea on a moonless, starless night. Not a clue where I’m at. Not a clue how to come back. Just drifting… in emptiness. Then I’m back again. It sucks. Yesterday was terrible. The last six weeks have been bad. It’s like suddenly, out of nowhere, there I am in my boat… drifting along …empty.

And then there are times where I’m just doing my regular daily activities, and the next minute I’m on that boat again. But this time I’m not drifting in empty darkness. No, this time I can see everything. The waves that are tossing me around. The rain beating my face in. The wind roaring and the thunder crashing. I see it all. Past hurts. Regrets. Guilts. Everything. I see perceived future consequences. Tragic events happening to those I love. The demons of the life that is mine. But it’s completely parallel. This is where I know I’m going to lose you… but bear with me while I try. All these unbearable things are going on in my head. They are beating me up and tearing me down. But while it’s happening, it’s 100% on the inside. No evidence on the outside. My face would be still. My eyes in a blank gaze. My breathing calm. On the outside, nothing is happening. Nothing at all. But trust me. It’s a very different story on the inside. It’s my own personal hell… figuratively. I go back regularly. The events, though the unfold differently all the time, hit me with the same blow. There’s pain. There’s hurt. There’s fear. And then I come out of it. Often times I can’t even remember where I was. I don’t remember the voyage. But just like a storm at sea, the carnage is spread for miles. The hurt… it’s there. The pain… yup. The fear… more and more each and every time.

You know how you can mentally psych yourself right out? For a lot of people it’s actually water. Sailing. For days before they cast off, all the ‘worst-case scenarios’ are playing out in their mind. They board that ship and leave port. They try everything they can to stay calm. Act calm. And most importantly… look calm. But inside things are going off. They’re freaking out. It’s cranial hell. But then the boat docks. They walk off the ship. “I’m alive… that wasn’t so bad.”

Life is a voyage. It’s overwhelming. You want more than anything to hide where it’s safe. Keep anchored in the harbour. The sea… it’s unpredictable. We haven’t mapped much of it, and that’s scary. And that fear often wins over. We shut down. We recluse. We sit and we suffer inside. And no one understands how we got there. Why we’re anchored there. Why we won’t leave the harbour.

“A ship is safe in the harbour, but that is not what a ship was built for.”

William H Shedd

We aren’t built to stay in the harbour. That’s not our life’s purpose. We are created to navigate the seas. Sail the world and take it all in. We are meant for so much more. And I know this. The thing is… I’m just not there yet.

Emptiness

Tonight I’m feeling emptiness. Tonight I wanted very badly to describe the way I felt, but with each failed attempt I always came back to the same blank page… which in all honesty is the absolute best description for how I feel tonight. Complete… Emptiness.

Faith…in the one who casts your shadow.

“Faith”

I think in many ways this is one of the most crucial and underdeveloped beliefs. I believe wholeheartedly that the number one contributor to failure is lack of faith. But what is faith? What does it take to have faith? And why are we so unwilling to place confidence in what faith we have?

I am a “man of faith“, in the sense that I believe in a God that I cannot see, or tangibly prove his existence. Whether you believe in a god or not, this is likely what you associate “faith” with. But that’s not the faith I’m talking about… similar, but entirely different.

Webster gives us these basic definitions of faith.

1. (a) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (b) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.

2. (a) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (b) : complete trust

If you want to succeed, the first one you need to convince casts your shadow.

I have BPD. I suffer depression/anxiety. I self-hate. I self-punish. I have an unhealthy fear of abandonment. Needless to say, “self-faith” is not one of my strong suits. I made up this quote (at least I think I made it up) as a simple reminder of the significance of “me“. There are many things that you can be assisted in doing. People can feed you. Bathe you. Fight your battles. Machines can keep you breathing when even your brain refuses to function. You can get organ transplants. Pace makers. Pretty much anything. But there’s one thing that no one will ever be able to do for you… and that’s cast your shadow. As simple and as nothing of a thing as it is, you and you alone are able to carry it out. And you and you alone are the most important person that needs to believe in you. Support you. Have FAITH in you.

It sounds simple. It seems basic. But believe me, having faith in yourself sometimes feels about as easy as painting a Picasso with a single wax crayon. And a white one to boot. I’ve had many days where the desire to even live is a flame barely flickering. I’ll be honest, I lean heavily on the support of my wife, and the faith SHE has in me. But without faith in myself I will never get anywhere. Counselling and therapy is great, but until you start believing in yourself it can only go so far. This past month or so of sessions has been frustrating for me. I’m going through my DBT, things are making sense, but the faith is missing. Therapy is awesome when you’re seeing progress. But sometimes it feels that progress is completely gone. One step forward, then bowled over backwards.

A child can’t learn to walk without falling.

I cling to the simplicity of those words. They make sense. Being a father, I’ve seen my kids learn to walk. I’ve seen countless falls. My daughter even refused for a while to even pull herself up. But they learned to walk. It took time. It took bumps and bruises. But they did it. I feel like I’m a child learning to walk. If steps are faith, I’ll pull myself up on my feet. I’ll see the outstretched arms across the room. Sometimes I’ll take that first step, but most often I’ll fall on my ass and cry. It’s hard. Having faith in other people can be very difficult, but faith in yourself when you’ve never learned to “walk” seems like an impossible venture. And there’s many, MANY days I, like my daughter, refuse to even pull myself up. Never mind attempt that first step. With no faith, taking that first step can feel like a baby bird being pushed out of the nest… with no wings… and a rocky landing awaiting. So… we turn around.

But how do we get over this “lack of faith“? How do we turn ourselves into not just walkers, but runners? What is the key to confidently walking out every morning to take on the world and cast that first shadow? Honestly… I don’t know. If I did I would have a lot more followers and a nicer office than the mattress of my bed. But just like spiritually I believe that faith in God is in the heart, I believe faith too in yourself is in the heart. Wisdom, knowledge, doubt, and worry are things of the mind. Faith, Hope, and Love come from the heart. It’s one thing to have knowledge. It’s another to have the wisdom to use that knowledge. But to have the faith to not succumb to the worry and doubt in your mind… to have the belief and confidence to tell your mind “yes I can” when it’s telling you “You Suck!! Turn around“. That’s what it’s going to take to walk. That belief, as little as that flame may be, has the power to light a room. But it has to start somewhere. Laying down will never work. Falling will happen, but so must getting back up. Stumbles aren’t failure. Crawling back isn’t failure. There are going to be setbacks. Many, many setbacks. But as sure as you can cast a shadow, you also have the ability to walk. But it all starts with Faith.

IMG_0995

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. You have no idea how much it means to me to have the opportunity to be able to share my journey and my story. Please pass on and share my blogs. I also share regularly on Twitter (https://twitter.com/InkedDadBPD), Instagram (https://instagram.com/dave__stone/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight), and Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/-hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight)

Thanks again for reading.

Dave

We are all frozen children…

Today when I was lying in bed doing my “morning scroll” through my Facebook feed, I came across a video that was shared that caught my eye. I saved the link so I could come back and watch it later (this is without question the best feature upgrade EVER!! No more sharing posts just so they’re on my timeline for later). A little further down the feed someone else had shared the same video… You know what? It’s Saturday, I’ve got nowhere to go, let’s give it a look-see. It’s a social experiment video. I love social experiments… I find them fascinating seeing how the human mind reacts in social settings. But more often than not, as much as I find them fascinating, I find them DEEPLY troubling… and this was no exception. Here’s the YouTube link. It’s 6+ minutes long, and worth watching… but if you don’t have time, just Favourite, Like, Share, ReTweet, or save for later.

Now one thing you have to remember is that I’m the father of a nine year old BabyGirl, and a four year, three-hundred and thirty-six day old Lil’Dude (yes, the countdown to 5 has officially started). Also, I’m from Saskatchewan, Canada. Last week we had -45degree F temperatures. I’m accustomed to cold, and 5degree F in a tee-shirt, IT’S COLD!! There is no way in Hell I would ever walk by a CHILD with no proper clothing on, ever. For any reason. But what happens here? 2 HOURS pass, and nobody stops to help this kid out?!? No offence, but WTF!! What is wrong with the human species? How have we adapted (or corrupted) ourselves to be so self-absorbed, so self-centred, so absolutely jaded and emotionally dead that we can walk by a freezing child, who partway through crawls inside a garbage bag for shelter from the wind, without the notion to even from a distance ask if he’s ok. God-forbid you touch him… he is homeless after all (insert sarcasm, incase it went undetected). But not even a “are you ok?“, “is there anyone I can call?“, or at least make a call to the police!! But nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s shameful. It’s shocking. It’s utterly disgusting. And worst of all… it actually happens. Every. Single. Day.

But it got me to thinking… “What is our freezing child?” Don’t be so naive as to think that to some extent we don’t see examples of this every day. I know many of you are shaking your heads right now… “Not me!” or “Not in Canada…we’re pretty damn polite!!” (And it’s true, we are pretty damn polite, eh?) But do me a favour. Entertain me for just a few minutes. Take off your self-absorbed, self-centred, jaded cloak for just a moment and allow yourself to be brutally honest. What is your freezing child? What do you turn a blind eye to? What do you under your breath and in the back of your mind “Thank-God that’s not me” about? As much as we all hate admitting it, we’re not perfect. And sometimes the best thing you can do is just take a step down, take off those self-righteous glasses, and simply observe realistically. Take an un-tainted, un-influenced view at the world around you. There is only one thing that I can 100% guarantee you. If you are honest with yourself. If you are really genuinely doing this… YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY!! There are “freezing children… EVERYWHERE!!” We drive by them on our way to work. We walk by them in the halls. We interact with them each and every day, but fight like everything the notion that they are there. It really is disgusting.

Because I blog for Mental Health Awareness, I’m going to put a little bit of a focal shift on things here. I know mental health has come miles from where it once was on it’s acceptance and understanding. But I live in Saskatchewan, Canada… And trust me, we grow the nicest, friendliest people here and export them all over the world… I’m sure you even know one. But since starting blogging on my experiences on mental health, literally hundreds of people have messaged, approached and supported. Almost all of them I had no idea were effected by mental health at all. From those battling, “You’re not alone.”, “It’s like you’re describing my life“, and “Thank-you for being a voice” are what I most frequently hear. From those on the other side of mental health, “I never realized...”, “Now some things make sense.” and “I had no idea” are common. All in all, for me it’s been a great and rewarding experience thus far. So please, share my posts. Pass my links on, and keep sending your messages of support. Speaking strictly as a 34 year old father with BPD, we all have our bags. We crawl into them to shelter us from the wind. We wrap them around ourselves for a bit of protection. And from my experience, more often than not we use them to completely make us invisible. To blend in. To avoid people’s “assistance“. It’s really unfortunate, but we tend to make it really hard for you to unveil us. But we’re not invisible. We’re there every day. You drive past us on your way to work, walk past us in the halls. You likely even shake our hands and share meals with us. But we’re freezing. We’re hiding. We’re huddling. But it’s just bags. And we want them removed. We need them removed. Our lives depend on them being removed. So look for that child. Don’t just pass by. Talk to him. Provide some warmth. Provide some strength. Provide some hope.

IMG_1014

My Dark Paradise

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

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

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

IMG_0984

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

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

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

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

IMG_0989

I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times.

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

-Patrick Carnes, psychiatrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_0963

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

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

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

Scars…

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

Whatever doesn’t kill me

is going to leave a scar

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

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

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

IMG_0917

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

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

IMG_0918

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