…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.

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…happines

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… I’m not a great writer. My grammar sucks. Composition a mere shot in the dark. My spelling is atrocious, thank you spellcheck!! Actually, my spelling is so bad that I’ve omitted so many cool, words because spellcheck can’t even figure out what I’m trying to say. So no, I’m not a great writer. But I love writing!! Sometimes I write to vent. Sometimes I write to encourage. Sometimes I write to shine light on living with mental health. But I write. And you read. So many of you read. Now over 7,500 of you have read, which to me is insane…go get girlfriends, or hobbies, or ice cream. (kidding…I’m so glad you read) I’ve been published more than a half dozen times in online mental health magazines. I really am blessed!!

Now here I’m going to attempt something a little bit different. I’m going to try my hand at some poetry. I love reading poetry…I’ve tried writing it before, never with much success. The last month has been extremely tough for me. In so many ways I’m completely lost to what’s going on. Happiness has been drained for years, but lately it feels so much like just a fleeting memory. So here goes…happiness.

…happiness

people talk about you …happiness

like you’re free for all to receive;

But with a life so overgrown with anguish,

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

.

people talk about you …happiness

this warm-fuzzy, contagious thing;

while i spend most my life in sadness,

anger, torment, lonely suffering.

.

when I see you …happiness, you ignore me

if i look at you you drift away;

then there’s times you feel so close to touch,

but then my fears comes to sweep you away.

.

I see you touching others lives …happiness

with love, with warmth, with grace;

Like an artist you once knew me too,

and brushed a smile on my face.

.

i’ve mad it a life goal of mine …happiness 

to be brim-filled with you one day;

whether it be weeks, four months, three winters,

maybe after the kids graduate.

.

the point is i won’t give up fighting for you …happiness,

however long this great journey may be;

through rivers, and mud, and scary dark roads

i’d risk crossing the vast, angry sea.

.

people talk about you …happiness

and there’s definite glimpses i see;

moments of you holding and warming my heart,

leaving memories that will always remind me

.

but i don’t want to have just memories anymore,

i want to have you all day and all night;

i want to hold you, to protect you, to keep you for good

but for now i’ll cherish these moments and fight.

Be happy! Be blessed!! Hug a Borderline…

Dave

…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.

…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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again for taking the time and interest,

Dave

DISCLAIMER!! “I am Grateful…”

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

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

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

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

 

#mentalhealthawareness… Please share.

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

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

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

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

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

Labels…

Labels…oh how we’ve grown to rely heavily on them. We quite literally no longer base our decisions and choices on product quality, but base it 100% on the labels. I’m totally guilty of this. I love fashion. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. And I love brand name clothing. I’ll go to Value Village and go through the racks of clothes looking at tags. “Robert Graham”, “Barney’s NY” “Bugatchi”, “Armani”, “Versace”, “Robert Sherman”… the list goes on and on. One of my proudest shopping moments was the day I hit up both VV thrift stores in Saskatoon and cashed in on over $5000.00 retail worth of brand “label” clothing for $150.00. And some still had tags! I was on ‘cloud 9’. Did it all fit? Heck no… but for $30 a shirt I can get them tailored downtown, and I’m still ahead $4500.00. I win. My wife laughs at me. “No one but you is going to know or care what kind of shirt you have on…” To that I say “B.S. I’m going to know, and that matters. People who know clothes are going to know, and there opinion matters. And to those that don’t… they’ll just know I have a damn nice shirt on, and that matters.” But does it? Does it even a little?

I never paid much attention to ‘status labels’ before. Even as a kid there was the awareness that so-and-so lived in a shabby house and wore hand-me-downs two sizes to small. But did it matter? Not at all. But wait… did it matter? Come to think of it, he was the first one to not ‘make the cut’ for birthday parties, because you knew you weren’t going to get the coolest gift. As you got older, you wanted less and less to be associated with him. But why? Because he didn’t have a ‘designer label’ tattooed to the back of his neck? Because he never acquired enough ‘return-value’ to be worth your investment? I can honestly say that I’m fairly non-biased when it comes to human-labeling. I know I do it to an extent, but I think I let ‘labels’ play a very small role in how I see people. I would say I quite simply played little attention to the labels that were out there. That is, until I got my label sewn on me. When you are all of a sudden extremely aware and self conscious of your own label, you tend to start seeing those that everyone else is wearing as well. You feel for them, because you now know that there are labels you choose, or earn for yourself… but there are others that are simply stamped on you. You’re stuck with them. Good Luck my friend.

I find I am once again label shopping, but in a whole new way. I’m sitting in the familiar retail change room… but I’m not able to go choose the clothes myself. They are being brought over, one item at a time, and draped over the door to try on. Many of them don’t fit at all. Some are a style I like, but the wrong colour. Some too big, some too small. But when I walk out the door, they’re all waiting for me, in a bag, charged to my account. “I didn’t pick these… most of these don’t even fit!” I walk toward the store again, receipt in hand. But when I hold it out I see in big bold letters. FINAL SALE – NO RETURNS/NO REFUNDS. How is this fair? It’s like they said to themselves “Oh, Dave likes clothes” and then gave me anything and everything that fit the category of”clothing”.  It’s an outrage. Well, yes, in a retail world it is unfair. It is an outrage. But when it comes to society and ‘social labelling’, it’s par for the course. You have some say in your labels. You earn many of your labels. But many of them are just ‘thrown over the door’ to you. They may sort of fit, but not really. Some you can’t even get into. Some you have no idea where they came from. It’s like they just heard you suffer a mental illness, so you must be completely off your rocker and unstable. It’s, an outrage.

I remember the first time I felt the sting of a label being sewn on. First off, it was from someone I wasn’t even aware knew what my diagnosis was, but they were informing that “because of my illness…”. Because of my illness, nothing. I’m making a effort to not use my having BPD as an excuse for anything, so don’t you go and do it. Dump on me all you want in your mind, whatever makes you feel better. But don’t come out and use ‘labels’ of my “illness” as a way to give you peace of mind.

We all have wardrobes full of clothing of all kinds of labels. Some we’ve hand-picked and tailored, some have just been thrown over the change room door. It’s not at all fair. But we’ve all got to live with it. Wear the clothes you like. Wear them often. And those other ones… stuff them in the back somewhere and hope they don’t get dragged out.



Still, soft voices…

The engine shuts off. You look in the mirror to see your faint reflection looking back at you through the soft glow of light rising up from the dashboard. You see those eyes. Dark. Empty. Emotionless.

You sit. You stare. A still, soft voice rises up from your heart. It enters your mind begging you to just start your truck and go home. you stop for a moment to acknowledge it. It brings with it photos in the form of memories trying to sway your decision and alter your outcome. It pleads, it begs. But it gets ushered out of your mind by the demons, leaving broken and rejected in the form of a tear.

The faint lights go dark. The music goes quiet. You, for the first time absorb in just how dark it really is. No moon. No stars. Complete silence. Your thoughts can speak clearly now… clearer than they ever have before. You reach through the darkness and feel around the back seat. That soft voice is trying again, and actually has you hoping you feel emptiness, but it’s silenced as your hand feels the harsh weave of the rope. You stop, momentarily, and take in a deep breath. Letting that final breath of reason out, you scoop up the rope and open the door and in one motion hop out of the truck before reason knocks at the door again. Your feet crunch down into the frozen slush of the March night. The cold, crisp air enters your lungs with a sweet sting, and exits with the warmth of fire. That soft voices teared trail freezes quickly to your face, being wiped away quickly as you begin this final trek.

Your feet crunch loudly through the snow and ice. It’s as if everything else stops and stands silent. The night is literally dead of all sound. Of all movement. Of all light. “How fitting” you can’t help thinking to yourself. You walk that path quickly. Partially the cold, partially the fear, and mainly to avoid the return of reason. The soft light begins to break through the trees ahead. You stop momentarily. Close your eyes and take a deep breath of that now comforting cold air. You open your eyes, put the rope in the other hand, and start walking up the slope to the road. You look up at that last light as you walk under it’s glow. You are half mesmerized by it’s rhythmic um that breaks the cold silence. The light flickers and goes out momentarily. Silence. Darkness. Then with a flicker it returns to light my final walk. You reach the centre of the bridge and look down at the jagged frozen river below. You can here the broken ice shifting against itself, a welcoming chorus of monsters waiting to witness this final act. You drape the noosed rope around your head and shoulder like a dark sash. Beginning to wrap the other end of the rope around the rail of the bridge the unthinkable happens. The silence is disrupted. The darkness is pierced. You turn to see headlights approaching the bridge. You pick up the coiled rope from the ground, holding the rope in your now-trembling hands you send out a prayer. You don’t even name a recipient…just the words “please-please-please don’t stop. I beg you”.

You lean over the rail of the bridge and just stair into the river below. You hear the engine slowing as it approaches the bridge. As it comes closer you hear the brakes squeal softly. Your head drops as the car comes to a stop behind you. “You alright?” a woman’s voice calls out from the car. “I‘m good.” you quickly reply. “Are you sure?” she responds. “It’s cold…let me give you a ride.” Your head drops in annoyance, but that soft voice begins rising in you – “listen to her“. You unclench your fingers and open your hands, the rope dropping down into jagged audience below. You wipe away what you’re unable to distinguish wether are tears of relief or tears of failure, and turn around to see the humblest of ladies in the car.. and baby seat in back. “Let me give you a ride.” she again offers.

You convince her you’re ok to drive yourself home and return to your truck. You make your way up the approach and turn onto the highway. You look in the rear view to see those headlights follow you from just of the bridge. Just like she insisted. As you drive home those feelings of hate and failure are slowly being pushed aside…pushed away. A small army of still, soft voices is raising up from with in, and pouring out of your eyes and down your face. Memories of those that will be WAITING FOR YOU at home clog your throat like a lump and you weep. As you approach home, the headlights of the angel behind you turn off on another road. You smile. You say another prayer. “Thank you…” and you feel that relief. But there’s that thought. That demon that will not let you be. And your shoulders once again drop. Your heart once again hurts. And the truth is revealed.

Until next time…” you think out loud…

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…too much to dream last night. “Carnival”

It’s a hot, muggy and overcast summer day. Sherry and I, along with the kids are walking along a brook… the kids running ahead to throw rocks in the stream. It must be the 1920’s-30’s based on our period clothing. We come up to a small trestle bridge going over the water with a train sitting at rest crossing the bridge. The sound of music and laughter can be heard and the smell of burnt coal can’t be missed as we walk up the embankment and around the Engine car of the train. There on the other side of the tracks is a country fair and traveling circus. A true country carnival. Evening suddenly falls quickly as we make our way into the fairgrounds. Bells and whistles from the games are drowned out by the shouts and laughter of the children. A little blonde boy with his sister in hand is selling lilacs for a penny. The smell of popcorn is heavy, and of cotton candy, you can almost taste it. Without even realizing it, everything is dark. The lights are enchanting. The band is playing music and people are dancing. Everyone is beginning to gather in the open midway to watch the fireworks. The whistle shrieks as the rocket takes flight. Then with a tremendous BANG it bursts and green embers rain down from the sky. It’s beautiful. It’s Mystical. It’s haunting.

I’m caught of guard and find myself taking a step back from the sound and brightness of the explosion. I look down at the kids… both of them laughing with their fingers in their ears, but everything else is different. The bright lights are still flashing. The  children are still running around laughing and playing. The smell of the carnival food is still heavy in the air… but its gone grey. With the exception of the lights and the children everything else is black and white. And emotionless. Faces looking straight forward with blank stares. I look back to comment on how eerie this all is, and my wife and kids are gone. Nowhere to be seen. I’m frantically working my way through this crowd of never-ending emotionless people. Then I see a man and a woman ahead of me. They are both in colour, but his face is distorted. Not disfigured, but out of focus. The woman is beautiful, and wearing a bright red dress. She sees me and raises her hand to wave but the man grabs it and begins leading her through the crowd. She keeps looking back over her shoulder and motioning for me to follow. I have no idea what they want or where they’re going, but I follow. I fight my way through the crowd trying to catch up to them, but they’re constantly the same distance ahead. They duck into one of the sideshow tents, and I follow.

Darkness. Absolute darkness. I mean jet black.I can’t make out a thing. And silent. I can’t hear anything other than my breathing. I reach back for the tent door, but all I feel is wall. I work my way around the walls of the tent hands combing the walls in search of a door… a seam… anything.I can hear the woman’s laughter ahead of me, but it sounds somewhat distant. I take a step towards the voice and the ground starts moving… starts sinking. I’m trying to stay on my feet, but I start sliding downward towards the centre. A faint blue glow starts coming out of the ground that is opening before me. So faint that I can make out the outlines of the eroding ground, but that’s it. I reach back in desperation and grab ahold of a piece of rope that is tied to a peg to anchor down the tent. Then a hand reaches in from underneath the tent wall and grabs my arm. Then a second hand grabs my other arm. They pull me out from the tent and into a pile of loose straw. When I roll over to pick myself up, no one is there. The fair is completely deserted. The music is still playing, bells are still ringing, and the smells are still there, but totally desolate of people.I look back and the entire tent is collapsing down into the hole. The ground around me starts breaking loose and I’m slipping as I try to run through the straw. As I run away, even though I can’t see anyone, the midway is full of people. I’m fighting my way through an invisible crowd. And as the ground is opening I’m fighting more and more to get through.

The opening catches up to me and I begin falling down into the hole. I can hear screaming as those around me are being swallowed up. I’m starting to slide down and I grab and claw at anything I can get my hands on. I can feel peoples legs and feet as I grab hold, and as I grab them, they become visible to me. All of them turn to shake me off. Their faces blank… still void of any emotion.No fear. No panic. Nothing. Just as I finally pull my self up and to my feet again, another BANG, and blue embers falling from the sky. Now everything is visible. All the people, still in black and white. Still emotionless. Behind me everything is getting absorbed into the earth. Children are screaming and trying to flee. Then I hear it. Through the crowd and in the distance I hear the cry of my children. They’re calling my name. They’re calling for help. Then I see them. They’re in some sort of cage, and they’re reaching through the bars and calling my name.as I get closer, the cage becomes further away as if the ground between us is expanding. I’m fighting and fighting to get closer, working my way through the crowd. I look back to see the earth catching up to me. I start slipping. I begin falling. I lose sight of them completely. And now I can’t even hear them calling. I continue to fall backwards. I’m free falling. Then… I’m awake.

I have no idea how many times I’ve had this dream… countless. Some weeks every night. Some nights multiple times. But it’s always the same. Exactly the same. I hate it. It eats at me. My sleep is not restful, not at all. But… that’s just the way it is.