…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.

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#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.

that unexpected curve…ABANDONMENT!!

i love the mountains. Everything about them. The shear magnitude of the towering peaks. The smell of air so fresh you cane help but close your eyes and breath it all in. The wildlife. It’s all… perfection! My dream is to live in the mountains. My Shangri-La . But for now I’ll just have to settle for getaway camping trips… a very acceptable compromise. But last time we went camping was a little different. There was a bit of an unexpected curve… and that curve would not leave us alone.

Being “flat-landers”, it’s always exciting entering the mountains. From the time we leave Calgary we are watching this mountain peaks get bigger and bigger as we get closer and closer. For the kids that one hour drive seems endless. But ten we get there. We are swallowed up by nature at it’s purest. Faces are pressed against the windows trying to take in all the mountains have to offer. Once in Banff we go to the campground to set up camp. We pull up to the registration window and pay for our site. Just as we’re about to pull away, the curve is throw,,,

“I almost forgot to tell you, there’s a bear in the area, so keep your site clean and your food locked up.”

Then come the questions. Is the bear in OUR campsite? What do bears eat? Do bears eat people? Can I sleep in the truck? and on and on. You don’t want to scare them, so you make sure all of your answers reinstate comfort and safety. We get the campsite all set up and head in for an early night after a long day of driving. So we all crawl into bed. We do a little visiting… ok, truth is we spent about an hour just to convince our kids to stop talking, and the only way to do that was to tell them the bear would hear. So there we were. Four of us all cozied up in the tent. Beautiful silence. The smell of fresh air. My happy place. And that’s when it happens. You hear a noise. Was it a branch snapping? What snapped the branch? Is that breathing I hear? I think I can hear its claws scratching a tree. I’m going to die!!

After finally convincing myself that those noises were nothing more than the trees blowing in the wind. It seems so simple when you look at it in daylight. The darkness truly hides a lot.

The fear of that bear, however, is a very accurate analogy of my fear of abandonment. And I mean very accurate. My wife, like the mountains, is magnificent. She is my happy place. I love living with her. But one day I got thrown a curve. My mind gave me a word of caution. Not “There’s a bear in the area”, but rather “She’s going to leave you”. I fight it every day. I come to the ‘camp ground’ and the park ranger that is my mind warns me of my possible abandonment. I try desperately not to worry and stress over it, but like snapping branches and noises in the woods, fear takes the drivers seat. It’s unbelievable the panic and the fear that blankets you in these times. I can’t even function…literally. I crash. I recluse. I think too much. I panic. I think of ways to avoid the inevitable truth. But until you have proof that the bear is gone, the bear will continue to haunt and torment you

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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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”.

…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.

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