#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

  

…let me have it!!

I’ve been blogging for about nine months now, and I’m asking for some feedback. Many of you have cemented or sent messages, which I’m so grateful to receive. But now I’m ASKING you for some feedback. I know I’ve read some blogs that have been incredibly helpful for me in “figuring myself out”. I hope that I can help others in the same way. So please, let me know what you think!! Send me a message letting me know IF you find things helpful, or beneficial. Let me know where I can make improvements…I’m not a great writer, so feedback on that side would be awesome. I’m really hoping to expand and reach a broader group of readers, but don’t want to do so until I’m confident what I’m doing is worth while. Thanks in advance… And thanks for reading and all the support!!Grateful,

Dave

…i am, a loser

You know it’s coming!! For those of you that follow me on Facebook or Instagram, and if you aren’t, why aren’t you?!? (IG – @inkeddad_2.0 or FB – https://www.facebook.com/hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight <–click link). But I posted today about an incident that happened that I’ve never had to deal with before… and I kind of left the door wide open to expand my thoughts.

I’ve been working up in PA for about a month now. I’m a carpenter, and we’re finishing out a condo complex up there. There’s some things about PA that might kind of help give you a feel for the setting. First off, I love PA… I really do. It’s a great little city cut into Parkland forest with a beautiful river valley. Some observations I have made, however… 8Ball leather jackets are still beIng represented by a scattered few. (Side note…I confess, I was the owner of an 8 Ball leather jacket. I got it 22 years ago, I was 12, and I’m really not sure it was cool even then), but these guys are rocking them, even when it’s 28deg. Celsius. Also, Ugg boots are the duct tape of the fashion scene. They have unlimited uses. With leggings, with skirts, with shorts, with flannel pj bottoms…limitless, and again at 28deg Celsius. Baby strollers fit unlimited kids, cars can be driven with dummy tires on diagonally opposite corners. Bikes don’t need seats, inflated tires, or both pedals (that’s right, one will do). And there was an ad, hand written in all lowercase letters. “3 left shoes, ladies size 9, brand new, still in box. never worn. $25 obo.” I kid you not…you cannot even make this stuff up. Apparently she was in a walking boot for six months after surgery and the right ones were worn… Might as well sell the lefts, I mean, they are still in boxes!!

Now I know I make fun of PA…and I do. A lot. But like I said, I love PA. I’ve worked there often now. We bring our kids, there’s great water slides…and the people, as quirky as I make them out to be, and they are quirky. But they’re nice!! They’re typical Saskatchewan Super Nice people. They wave at you when you drive by. They hold the door for you. Tell you when you forgot your son in the parking lot. (I knew he was there, but still…nice people) That’s why what happened today caught me so off guard. I was in the confectionery buying some drinks. I noticed the guy in front of me look back at me, then look forward again shaking his head. I didn’t really think much of it, but then when I walked out of the store he was in his car kind of just parked in the middle of the lot. I walked over to my truck, and just as I opened the door I heard him. “Hey!” I looked around my open door to where he was, and he said…and I quote, “Nice fucking arms, you loser!” And drove away.

Now for those of you that don’t know, I am a cutter. (Over 2 months cut free!!) But my arms are covered in scars. Hundreds of them. They’re definitely not something that I’m proud of, but they’re there. And for the rest of my life they are a part of me. A part of my story. I made a very deliberate decision a while back not to hide my scars. I live in a very small town. A awesome community of under 2000people. And when I say awesome, I mean AWESOME! But it’s small. I’ve gone through a lot if shit over the last year. We have close friends that have been there for my wife and I the whole way. But being a small town, everyone knows bits and pieces. It’s one of those things that as hard as it is to do, I’ve decided that rather than hide I would open myself up. Make myself vulnerable. People don’t know how to approach me. No one wants to set me off. No one knows how I’ll react. I honestly think people are scared of me. I guess it’s kind of my way of saying “I’m not hiding.” I really hope that it will help eliminate some of the gossip (yes, shockingly my awesome small town does this too) when people see that I’m being open. That they’ll talk to me, or my wife, or our friends rather than try and figure things out for themselves by talking. How’s that working out for me? Honestly… I have no idea. Maybe I should be covering up…I don’t know.

But those words…”you loser”. I know they’re just words. And I know they came from some irrelevant person I’ll likely never see again. But they are ruminating in my mind. Firstly, I do believe these words to be true. I’m told over and over In therapy that my self-hate is something I need to work on, but it’s there. I am my biggest critic. I’m my biggest hater. So I call myself a loser on the daily. But no one else ever has. I know that people think it, but no one ever says it. It’s another one of those overly nice Saskatchewan things, I guess. But with those words. Those two words from a total stranger. It was like all these thoughts. All these visions. All these feelings that I hold against me were no longer just mine. They say sticks and stones break bones… Well words, they don’t break bones, but they hold power. And for me, that power is confirmation of what I already know. What I already feel. Does his opinion really matter? No. Who knows what his story even is. But to someone who hates themselves. To someone who feels that everyone walks on eggshells around them. That thinks people are scared to “set me off”. Is this guy just saying what everyone else has too much tact to spit out? 

I don’t know….

What I do know is I have a 9 year old daughter that has to explain her dads scars, and the fact that he cuts himself when he’s sad. I have a 5 year old son that has helped his dad cut stitches out of his arm, and gets hauled around with me all over the place for MY safety, because one of the only things I’m 100% sure of is that I’ll never, ever hurt myself around my kids. I have a wife who has to come up with the $2000 a month my therapy costs us, as well as finding time to come to therapy herself. And, on top of that, lives in constant fear of what she’s going to walk into. I have next to nothing to do with family anymore because I don’t know how to explain myself. It’s hard to say “yeah, I’ve been dealing with this for 25years” to your unknowing family. (And it’s not they’re fault at all. I’m sure looking back now they see signs, but I hid this very very well. I lied to countless people to cover up what I was going through) But I have nothing to do with anyone from my past at all anymore. I live completely in the present, because that’s all that I allow myself to do. I’ve hurt countless people. There’s some things in my past I want to forget. And then there’s that that I would do anything to go back and hold on to. My life has not been easy. I haven’t allowed it to be. But I’ve made my bed. What comes, comes. I get what I deserve. I am, a loser.

My (un)Beautiful Mind

**I wrote this entry 3 months ago in mid-March. Many areas I’ve made progress since, which I’m very happy about…but I reading this this morning I realize how real the struggles are, and that they don’t just “go away”.**
This is likely going to be a little bit more depressing a post than what I’d like, and for that I’m going to apologize right off the start. The main reason is because this last 4-6 weeks has been really tough, and it’s been progressively getting tougher. In the middle there you throw in a stretch of 5 days where I was without meds… Which most of you know is a recipe for disaster. It’s literally been close to the toughest stretch I’ve had yet. The good news is I’ve toughed it out so far, even though it took a lengthy battle of the mind while locked in the bathroom… Just me, a knife, and the longing to end things then and there. But here I am… So Yay (I guess).

I met my psychiatrist, who first gave me shit for going of my meds…(um, yeah. Believe me, it wasn’t planned). So what was my reward? Increased meds… 40mg Prozac, 300mg Lamotrigine, 750mg Lithium, 250mg Quetiapine. That is my new daily life partner. But the positive… Without my meds I was freaking-out!! So… I know they’re doing something. Right?!?!
But it got me to thinking… What the heck is wrong with me? I mean, in my head… Why do I need so much assistance just to feel normal? And I don’t even feel normal. It’s hard. Therapy is great. I’m actually learning so much. I’m learning pretty crazy and cool things about myself. About my eff’d up mind, and how it works. It’s amazingly insightful! But the problem is it’s equally discouraging as it is encouraging. I’m a pretty smart guy. I’d even go as far as to say I’m very smart… But I am biased… You know, being me and all. I honestly can remember “hiding” for as long as I can remember. I didn’t know or understand why I felt the way I did. I knew it wasn’t normal (normal being the way everyone else felt/thought) but there’s no way I could tell you why that was. All I knew from a very young age… “I have to bottle this up… This isn’t right.” So that’s what I did.
I’m now 34 years old, and my guess is that close to 25 years of that have been “played out”, “acted”. And you know something? I was really, really good at it. I never realized just how much I did…it all just became so natural. But now looking back there’s so many things over the course of my life that now make sense. I think anyone who knows me likely sees the same thing. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I’ve thought “this sucks… I want to just go back to my charade. I can do that.” And I could. But, I know that I was becoming less and less in control. My mind was taking over. As smart as I am, I wasn’t able to maintain control. My mind outsmarted me, and it did it very very well. And it did it very very regularly. My mind was no longer me… It was controlling me, and it was trying to kill me.

A beautiful mind? Not a chance… My mind is not beautiful.

My mind is not beautiful.
it is a growing heap of discarded
thoughts, and half written sentences.
it is branches, fallen far from the tree,
or wet leaves which collect on the
corner of the flowerbeds. It is the color
of the sky as the dawn is coming; and
the smell of gasoline rising from a fire.
it is a rose petal, long lost forgotten, pressed
between a book. It is the last second
of consciousness before drifting to sleep,
and the first breath of air you take after parting
the lips of your love. My mind is a growing
frenzy, a wasteland of abandoned roads.
but my mind is not beautiful.

(Julie Martinez)

…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.

…brains are stupid

…and they really are. 

I can feel the pressure. It’s pressing on my lungs. Holding them. Pressing them. And the beat of my heart in my ears, as if I’m being held underwater. The sensations are getting stronger and stronger as I make my way down the field to my truck. The last twenty feet I actually run as I feel the dizziness and nausea hitting me. I get to the back of my truck just in time to unload a little projectile tension. (As a side note, I do not handle puking well at all) As I stand up the dizziness hits full force. My ears are ringing. The light is all of a sudden blinding, just as though I’ve just emerged from a dark room into midday sunlight. I’m sweating. My palms are clammy. I open the door to my truck and I do the only thing I know how to do at times like this. I medicate. And I cry. Standing beside my truck, keeled over the drivers seat I cry. My head spins. My thoughts splatter my coherence like bugs on a windshield. I wait. I know it’s coming, it always does. That calmness. It starts in my chest…my breathing requires less effort. My heart stops pounding, and I actually break free from its throbbing echo in my ears. My mind becomes quiet. I know where I am. I recalibrate my senses. I hear the kids laughing. I feel the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze on my back. I made it. I always do, but every time I wonder if it’s the last. It sucks.

This was Saturday… My daughters soccer tournament. I love watching my kids play sports. I love seeing them active and enjoying the social competition. Seeing her running and laughing is pure joy. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. They make my heart happy. That’s why I find “the brain” so incredibly frustrating. I’m sitting here on a beautiful day out in an open field watching my kid play soccer along with some of my closest friends and fellow parents. The kids are having a blast and there’s no bugs at all (a rarity here in Saskatchewan) . This is a happy place. This is almost literally a happy place that I escape to in my mind at times when things get too difficult. But it happens. That little though creeps it’s way through the cracks and and starts multiplying.

  
First it’s just a random thought. Nothing serious at all. A little criticism over something that happened earlier in the week. Easy to brush off and enjoy the game. But then it comes back, but this time it’s brought some reinforcements to help back the story. It’s not quite so easy to brush off. I get back to giving my attention to the game, but that thought is now seeded and taken root in the back of my mind.it sits there and laughs knowing that it’s in the drivers seat. And one by one it allows more and more thoughts of doubt in until that’s all I see. It’s all I can think of. It’s literally established itself and has stolen 90% of my attention. I can’t handle this. I begin to panic, and as I panic things get worse and worse. I know I have to leave. I love my daughter, but all of a sudden she’s not even in my train of thought. I leave Vince with another parent and quickly make my exit to the comfort of my truck.

This is a sad reality that has become common and anticipated in my life. It’s hard because it is almost constantly on your mind. I’m always wondering when things are going to rear up. Where I’ll be. How I’ll go about handling the situation. Exit or escape routs. I find that it’s unavoidable, but it is manageable, at times, especially with meds. I hate the groggy medicated feeling, but I’ll take that over the smothiering feeling of anxiety and panic.

…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.

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.

 

what if the bride is bitchy?

“Don’t beat the bride…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, my name is…”

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

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

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

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

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