…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.

…hurt

I’m being tormented at work this morning…so here I am, Wednesday June 17, sitting on my lunch break… Broken…
I believe the loss of a child is THE most unnatural emotional event to have to deal with. We literally are not wired to process and digest the overwhelming hurt and emotional anguish that comes with it. 
I know I’ve made a point of not making this a “religious blog”, but bear with me for a minute. You look in the bible…God tests Abraham’s commitment and loyalty by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Why? Because it is the hardest thing Abraham could ever possibly have to do. And When God saw his commitment He provided a ram to sacrifice in place of his son. Why? To spare him what was sure devastation and unbearable grievance. Or how God chose to display His love for us? By sacrificing his son. Why? I believe it’s because it’s something we can all relate to…at least all of us with children. That sacrifice has meaning because we all know we would do very thing we could to save and protect our children. There’s no way we would “choose” to allow a child to die, never mind by sacrifice.
I feel like I had to make that sacrifice, only minus the choice. On day three, when we found out our son wasn’t going to make it, there was unbearable hurt and anger. It was literally physically paralyzing. There was confusion. There was doubt. There was denial. And then there was numbness. Dayton loved twenty six days, most of that a fog. Yes, there was emotion…but all of that emotion was bottled up. None of it was shown. My wife and I were stoic. We handled the situation in stride, and we did it amazingly well. Only thing is, we didn’t. Now I can only speak for myself, not for Sherry…but I never grieved. I refused to grieve. I refused to show weakness. To show hurt. I just swallowed the pain and showed strength. But that’s a it was… Show. Five years of show.
What kind of father doesn’t grieve the loss of his son? Seriously?!?! You have to be a pretty shitty dad to refuse to honour your son and recognize him through grievance. But I didn’t. In many ways I ignored the fact that it happened. Now here I am six years later sill reeling from all this bottled up pain. I’ve been haunted by nightmares of watching my son die before my eyes. Im terrified of something happening to one of my other kids, but I don’t want to be “that dad”, so instead I stand back. I’ve made myself distant. I’ve deprecated myself from the world. I get lost in my mind, and find contentment there. I hate who I am, or who I’ve become, but I don’t know how to be anything else. I’m scared to be anything else. I don’t know what to do…I only know how to bottle up, so that’s what I’ll continue to do.
So there you have it… That’s my shitty day. Sorry to vent, but that’s what blogs are for, right?!?

When ANXIETY & DEPRESSION Collide…

For months now my wife has been trying to get me to write down my dreams. To write down how/what I feel during my anxiety attacks, or when I get locked into depression. For her, she wants to know… she wants to understand so that she knows how to best support me. For months I have refused. Partially because for literally 15plus years I have put all my efforts into hiding my hardships. Presenting myself as normal, and avoiding anything that may possibly provoke questions. I’ve allowed myself to be socially outgoing enough to avoid questions, but also private enough to not allow people to get to know me. But the longer I go writing this blog and sharing my story, the more I realize that it’s my being authentic that is having the impact on people. Anyone can search “Borderline Personality Disorder” and learn about ‘the illness’, but my goal is to present that ‘illness’ in the most intimate and authentic way I can. Understand that this blog is MY story on life and BPD. It’s not by any means a guide-book… but simply my life in my own words.

“Anyone can search “Borderline Personality Disorder”” and learn about the ‘illness’, but my goal is to present that ‘illness’ in the most intimate and authentic way I can”

 I wrote this while I was still in a state of severe depression. The anxiety/depression that I’ll be describing took place over the course of about an hour. I’m going to write it directly from my notebook, so there are parts that may not make sense… but you’ll get the just of it all. Here’s an example of when my Anxiety and Depression collide.

My chest feels heavy… like my lungs are having to operate at 300% capacity to just breathe. My heart is pounding… pounding so hard it actually, physically hurts. My throat is tight, feels like a towel being wrung out of water. I can’t tell if I’m having a hard time swallowing, or if my brain has just given up on telling me how to function properly for the time being. There is so much noise and chaos in my head and mind. It’s a strenuous chore to track down even a hint of an actual thought. It’s a mentally painful process. It literally hurts like a headache… it comes, then it goes as quickly as it came, then before you know it it’s back again. It’s driving me crazy!! I don’t know how to stop it! I barely know how to slow it. The room spins. My stomach turns as the room spins. I focus on a picture on the wall, but I can’t stay focused. My eyes and mind drift to the left. I have the sensation of falling…a vertigo of sorts, slowly to the side. Then my eyes and my focus return again and again to the picture. My perception of reality is slowed down… life is happening in slow-motion, but then a thought will grab me and grip me, and take me off for a ride with or without my approval, or my knowledge for that matter. My head is now throbbing, not in pain, but literal pounding. Like there’s a party going on in the apartment next door… the music is loud and the beat dictates the pace of you thoughts to an unbearable level of disturbed frustration. Only you can’t bang on the wall or call the police. I can only live with it. Bare down and tough it out. My hands are numb and tingly, alms as if my arms are no longer attached to my body.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a switch is flipped…

I’m now EXTREMELY aware of EVERYTHING. My senses are all simultaneously firing. The fan running outside my bedroom window is obnoxious. The pilled lint on the comforter is a huge annoyance. I can smell the day old essential oils in the defuser. The shadow of my hand trying to write down thoughts frustrates me to the point of throwing in the towel. My heart is no longer pounding, but is now racing. My breathing accelerates. My focus now is there, but is shuffling from thought to thought faster than I can make sense of it all. But I do see each and every thought in a barrage of mental images. But I see them. The negative thoughts stick. They sink in. They hurt me. Tell me how desperate I am. Pathetic I am. Un-needed. Un-wanted. A waste. An embarrassment. Now the thoughts start slowing. The breathing, the heartbeat, the mind. Everything slowing to allow mw to give 100% of my attention to how terrible a person I am. How I don’t deserve the good in my life, and the bad that I do deserve is coming. I need to be held accountable for all the hurt I have caused. That I need to pay for it, and I need to face my punishment head on. This now has full power and control of my mind. I hate myself. I really, REALLY HATE myself. And for good reason. The same reason I lose everyone I care about in my life. I am unlovable. I am unlikable. It’s just a matter of time before everyone I love realizes this and leaves. I hate myself. I HATE myself. I want to hurt myself. I want to kill myself.

This is my life. This is what I live with every day. Some days are worse than others. Some days are a whole day and sleepless night of episode after episode. Others are less, but what I’ve described is very much routine. I’ve grown used to it. I can hide it very well, and I allow it to have minimal effect on my life. But I’m guessing others that struggle with anxiety/depression would suffer similar “episodes”.

Get out of the Harbour!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William H Shedd

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

Emptiness

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

Faith…in the one who casts your shadow.

“Faith”

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

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

Webster gives us these basic definitions of faith.

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

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

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

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

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

A child can’t learn to walk without falling.

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

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

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

Thanks again for reading.

Dave

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 7: Have you ever dissociated? If so, how often?

Seeing as I’m having a hell of a time battling this tonight, I re-read this blog post and decided to share again. Do you dissociate? How often and for how long?

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I want to start off with a little bit of a disclaimer…a warning. Me doing a blog post on Dissociation is a little bit the blind leading the blind. It’s not that I don’t have experience with dissociation. It’s just that I don’t understand it. It’s not something I’ve even touched on yet with my counsellors or my psychiatrist. So really, I have no idea what brings it on, or “triggers” it. But I definitely experience it, I know what it’s like, I just have no idea as to the why. I guess that will have to be a follow up post.

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Have you ever had that feeling, where you’re in control of what you’re doing, but it almost seems like you’re not really there? It lasts a few seconds, then you snap out of it, and it feels almost like you were dreaming? Maybe you have no idea what…

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31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 11: Is there anything that helps keep you grounded?

“‘…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. ~ Isaiah 7:9

Staying grounded is one of, if not THE biggest challenge that I face. And the funny thing… the longer I have my diagnosis, the longer I’m aware of the difficulties I face and work on methods of coping, the harder I find that it is to stay grounded. Maybe I need to clarify what I mean by “grounded”. By grounded, I’m simply saying “not freaking out”. To me that is grounded, and to me that is the most difficult task I face.

I’ve found a few ‘coping methods’ that I find really useful to bring me back down. Music is a big one. Music drowns out all chaos in my mind. A pair of headphones and some loud music, and I can usually find myself back in the stratosphere. There are also things I can do to prevent things from escalating… breathing exercises, walks, working out. They all can keep things somewhat under control. But they don’t keep me grounded. To me, the things that you use to stay grounded have to be constants in your life. And for me, there are a few… they are important to me, and without them I don’t know how I would be able carry on.

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My faith. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Without faith, I have nothing. I know that there’s many of you that are not men or women of faith. And I’m not here to push any beliefs on you. That’s not the way I do things. I’m simply telling you what keeps me going. What gives me hope. What keeps me grounded. I’ve had to live through my share of hard times. I’ve been asked many tomes “how can you still have faith?” It hasn’t always been easy. There’s been times it’s been very hard… almost impossible. I spent twenty-six days in a hospital praying for a miracle as my child died. If there’s something that will test your faith, it’s the feeling that the most important thing you have is being snatched from your hands, and the one you’re supposed to love and pray to is the one thats taking him. Yes, my faith has most definitely been tested. Time and time again.

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My family. “Home is where the heart is!” That phrase has to stay true. You keep family a priority, and with their support you’ll be amazed at the strength that you have to stand up to your demons. I have a wife and to kids that I have the fortunes of seeing every night. I am my sons hero, and my daughter is the most beautiful princess I’ve ever seen. We are a family of faith. We believe in prayer, and my children are counting on me to ‘get better’. If you need more reason than that, then you have no heart at all. The love of my family gives me strength.

And the third is Hope. Hope in myself. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that this can be overcome, and Hope that I can come out of it a better man. This is by far the most difficult because it requires putting my faith in myself. And if there’s anyone I have little confidence in it’s myself.

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It is these three things, Faith, Hope, and Love that keep me grounded. They’re what I have no choice but to live for. They’re what keeps me going. Find what keeps you grounded. Make that your focus, and don’t give up.

Behind the Mask – the comfort of the Masquerade Ball

Tonight I was flipping channels between love story after love story on this “most romantic night of the year” and I came across Romeo and Juliet… more specifically the ‘Masquerade Ball’ scene from Romeo and Juliet. Romeo sneaks his way into the ball to be able to see Juliet under the false coverage of a mask. Behind this mask he was undetected to all in the ballroom. Behind this mask his identity was unknown. This mask, which Romeo put on, drew attention completely away from who he actually was. It made me think… what masks do we put on? What is it that we feel the need to hide when we don those masks? And why are people so reluctant to get to know the [wo]man behind the mask? Is life just one extensive masquerade ball? Are we so used to hiding behind masks that we actually search out others who are the same? I know for myself, I’ve made a life, in many ways, of hiding behind masks. When I wear my mask I am confident. I am strong. I don’t have fears and insecurities. My mask is who I want to be rather than who I am… isn’t it? IMG_0870 What is it I’m trying to hide? What is it I’m afraid of letting others see? Why is it I’m so scared to make myself even the least bit vulnerable? Over the last few months I’ve been really making an effort to not just remove the masks, but try and figure out why I felt the need to put them on in the first place. For me, the mask hides a past that I’ve allowed very few to really, actually be a part of. For as long as I can remember I’ve tried to protect myself. Guard myself. Not allow myself to be even the least bit vulnerable. To me, in my mind, no one could possibly like who I really was… so no one was going to see who I really was. The thing with masks, if people don’t like you, you can always tell yourself that it’s not you they don’t like, but the man in the mask. You see, it really does all make sense. It’s a complete false sense of self, and sense of confidence that I had, but the masks served their purpose. I was protected. I was safe. But was I happy?

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I think the best way you could describe me was emotionally numb. Like a freezing needle, my masks numbed me from feeling true emotion. I felt emotion, don’t let me mislead you. But it was false emotion. It was harnessed emotion. And it was regulated. If things got too intense, I could pull that mask down a little bit further and let things just brush off. The mask, without question, serves it’s purpose. And that’s why they are so widely worn in this masquerade ball we call life. They are heavily relied on. There’s nothing that makes you rely on your mask more than being hurt by someone you’ve allowed behind the mask. When you’ve opened up. Shown trust. Left yourself vulnerable. I can likely count on one hand the people I’ve allowed behind my mask. And by likely I mean I can absolutely tell you, without question. There’s four. There have been four people in my 34 years that I have allowed to see me. To see the real me. No walls… no masks… just me. If there’s anything that makes the mask a more permanent fixture on your face, it’s the hurt you have experienced without it. Being honest and getting hurt. Making yourself vulnerable and getting burnt. False hope, False trust, real hurt. Three of the four have hurt me, and the fourth holds my heart literally in the palms of her hands. My wife is my everything, she’s my emotional barometer, and my strong soul. And she’s the one person, more than anyone, that I’m most terrified of losing. But… I’m working on that. Mainly with her, but across the board. I’ve decided I’m tired of hiding. It scares me, but I want people to get to know me. Who I am. What makes me tick. That’s the main objective behind this blog. I know some of you reading this, but most I don’t. But I feel that it’s an opportunity for me to help give understanding into the world of mental illness. Because I know that I’m not alone. I know there are many, many more like me. That have masks. That wear them tightly. That are very literally terrified of what others will think of the [wo]man behind the mask. That I can be a voice, that I can help you all understand a little bit what it’s like to feel the need to keep your life completely masked. IMG_0401 Please, I’d love to hear feedback. Whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or here on WordPress. Whatever it is, please let me know what you think. Add me, follow me, talk about me with your friends. And if you know anyone you think could benefit from my blog, please share.

**Vent Alert** Just something that’s been eating at me lately.

There’s a word that I hate. I hate the sound of it. I hate the way it gets thrown around. I hate how it gets used as a guilty accusation. But more than anything, over the last few months, I hate how accurate it is. How relevant it is. And how much it hurts. That word… “Stigma”. You’ve likely heard it a million times, especially if you’re at all familiar with mental health. “Stop the Stigma” “Stand up to Stigma” or #stigma #stopthestigma. But now that I’m more involved in mental health, I’m more attentive to the “stigma” that really actually is present. It’s there. In our day to day life, and without us even knowing, in a huge way. And the sad part is, the greatest accusations and opinions so often come from either those that have no idea what they are talking about, those speaking out of fear, or defensiveness. Any which way, the defences are up, and if there’s anyway they can pass blame, ownership, or responsibility on someone else, they will. They love “pawning” off responsibility wherever they can. They watch out for number one without worrying about havoc left in their wake.

There are a couple things that I’m pretty sure we all have. We all have demons, and we all have skeletons. Demons are those things that we are in outright war with. We battle with them every day. They haunt us in our sleep and torment us when we’re awake. We fight tooth and nail to resist them, and we do all we can to not be overcome by them. Those are Demons.

Then there’s skeletons. Those are the things that we keep tucked back in the closet. No one needs to know about them. Out of sight. Out of mind. Sometimes the demons from those skeletons haunt us, but there’s just one rule when it comes to skeletons… They do not, under any circumstance come out of the closet. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

But what happens when skeletons share closets? What is the ‘code of conduct’ when dealing with the “non-exclusive skeleton”… Those skeletons that aren’t just yours? How do we handle the situation… or more specifically, how do we react to mishandling? I mean, don’t we have enough on our plates as it is, but then we have to worry about things out of our control? I’ve got skeletons, and I’ve got more than my share of demons… believe me. They figuratively and emotionally eat me alive. But the one thing that you will never hear me do, and that is use my “illness” as an excuse or justification for anything. And there’s literally nothing that angers me more than others pawning things off on my “illness”. If you are not my doctor, psychiatrist or my counsellor, I don’t want to hear the word “illness” in reference to me come out of your mouth. It’s as easy as that. I’m not going to let myself off easy under the shroud of BPD, and I’m most definitely not going to take responsibility for others actions under the ‘tag’ and stigma of “my illness”.

This past year has been a mess. So much has happened in my world that I wouldn’t even have the slightest clue as to where to start. But through the fall and winter I began hearing that “my illness” was being very easily offered up as the reason and the blame for different things in my life. Am I trying to say that it had nothing to do with it? I have no idea… it very well could have. But I’m 100% positive that me having BPD had nothing to do with many of the choices and events that took place over the past year. It’s easy to point the finger in that direction… you can make sense of it. “It’s the sick guy’s fault. He should know better. This is a pattern of his illness. Me… I don’t know what happened… I just got ‘used’ and ‘manipulated'”

I speak both out of hurt and from experience. I have been blamed for and accused of different things, “because of my illness”. Some things, yeah… I’m sure my BPD may have something to do with. But other peoples actions I have no control over. And I’m not willing to take that blame either. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made poor decisions. And I’ve felt hurt in ways I never saw coming. But I’m a big boy. I take responsibility for all of my decisions and actions… and  unfortunately, apparently more.