#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.

Help ME – Help YOU!!

“Bloggers…don’t they have anything better to do than sit on their computers playing Candy Crush and writing their stupid feelings? SERIOUSLY…get a real job!!”

This was me. And not even that terrible long ago. I never ever saw myself a blogger. I’ve always found writing to be fairly easy, and after the passing of our son I had aspirations of writing a support and encouragement book related to that. That idea’s still in the plans, but placed on the top shelf for the time being.

But my blog. I’ve really come to enjoy it. I find it therapeutic. Most people with mental illnesses are encouraged to journal. To keep an ongoing log of their progress or decline. And it’s a great idea. I journal as often as I can, but there was something that always bothered me. The day to day stuff was easy. What did I do…what made me happy…what made me sad. No problem. It was the actual issues. The hurts. The struggles. Those are the things that were/are extremely difficult. My whole life has been hiding. Bottling emotions and feelings. I’ve worn a mask that became not some much comfortable but reassuring. With the mask I was safe. With the mask people couldn’t hurt me, but with the mask people couldn’t know me either. Journalling the heavy stuff opens some pretty deep wounds. Difficult times and haunting memories. It brings out all this pent up emotion, gets written on paper where I can see it. Read it. Relive it. It all becomes fresh and painful all over again. Then you just close the book, swallow it all down, and bottle it tight.

I suffer extreme social anxiety. I scored very high on my screening test, and I start group sessions for that in a couple weeks. If you know me you’re likely thinking “But you’re so social, how can you have social anxiety?” Well, I’m really good at hiding it. To me, throwing myself to the wolves sometimes helps. I can’t shut down. I can’t dissociate. It’s hard. It’s trying. And it’s exhausting. I often have to go ‘debrief’ in my bedroom when I come home just to clean out the mental cobwebs that were being spun by that spider that is chaos in your mind. I don’t like talking about my BPD. “WHAT??!! But your blog…?” Yes, talking about my health is hard. I’m forcing myself to do it, but it’s still very hard to do in person. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, but the social discomfort is unbearable when talking BPD at times. That’s where the blog is a perfect fit. I can vent, let out emotion, let out hurt. Be vulnerable and open up without seeing anyone. Without feeling the fear, and the judgement. I don’t have to close the book and bottle up, but instead I can post and breathe that sigh of comfort in knowing that I did it. I shared my heart. I went out of my comfort zone to influence others. And that’s where the purpose of this blog comes in.

Because of my BPD being hidden for so long, most of my family and friends were completely caught off guard with the diagnosis. They have done lots of ‘google’ research, and have lots of questions. My blog started out as a way for my family and friends to read and stay involved with my ‘journey’. But the response has been huge. I’ve had people who suffer mental illnesses contacting me to thank me for putting the words out there. That they can relate, and that it’s nice to know they’re not alone. I’ve had family members or friends contact me thanking me for bringing some understanding to the subject. I feel a great deal of honour and privilege to be able to have the platform and the opportunity to use my “illness” in a positive and influential way.

With that, I have a request. Please share my blog. I think the movie with the most well-known movie quotes has to be Jerry Maguire. I’m going to steal one more… “Help me, help you… Help ME Help YOU.” So please, If you’re on Facebook, share my link. Twitter, retweet. I believe very strongly I have a good thing going, and the more people I can reach, the more effective this can be.

Thanks…
Dave

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”.

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.

We are all frozen children…

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

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

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

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

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My Dark Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scars…

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

Whatever doesn’t kill me

is going to leave a scar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness?!?

Social settings are about as difficult an environment for me that there is. It’s not that I don’t like people… I really love people, actually. But it’s hard. I was trying to think of the best way to describe, or “name” the situation. “Social Retardation” seemed to drastic, and seemed like it may also cross some lines of political correctness… possibly. “Social Recluse” is not really accurate. There are many times I want nothing more than to be a recluse… but I know myself enough to know that that could get ugly (I’ll get to this more later). “Social-phobia” is actually fairly accurate, but I don’t like how ‘psychological’ it sounds. So, I went with “Social Awkwardness”. Kind of like a high school freshman at his first dance with acne and braces… only I’m far from being a high school freshman, and my acne and braces are battles of the mind.

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Those that know me are likely thinking to themselves “huh??” right about now. And for those that don’t know me, I AM a very social person. I like being around people. I love crowds… sporting events, fairs, concerts. I interact with people well. I am a social person.

But wait a minute… you said social settings were as difficult as they come?

And with that every one of you is likely thinking “huh???

I am a very smart person. I’m not saying that to brag, and I don’t mean book smarts, but when it comes to bottling up feelings and emotions, I know as well as anyone how to do it. I can remember having extreme depression/anxiety right back to high school. Initially my reaction was to pull back. Not be involved with people. School was difficult, attendance was spotty, and outside of school I did little. But it was through my late high school years and college that I began consciously “coping” in my own way.

Social settings, like I said earlier, are very difficult. But the alternative, Depression, is tougher. I can handle the social setting. I can maintain control of the social setting. I can swallow fear, and force conversation if I need to. And if all else fails I can sit back and be a spectator. But when depression sinks in, I’m done for. It’s just sit and hate myself and hope I fall asleep. I’ve spent countless nights awake just angry at myself. And if my depression shifts to anxiety, then I’m in real trouble. Red Alert. Good… Bad… now, UGLY. I refer to this as “freaking out“, really because… well, there’s no other way to describe it. The chaos takes over and I just want to make it stop. To do anything to make it stop. And that anything is often to hurt myself. Whether I’m wanting to punish myself, implement justice for my actions, or simply wanting to stop my mind from racing. That’s when it happens. The gloves drop, the helmet comes off, and the blade comes out.

But you see, the “freaking out” only happens when I’m alone. With the exception of my wife, I’ve never gotten 10/10, fight or flight freaking out around anyone. Whether it’s fear of making a fool of myself… fear of hurting (emotionally) my family/friends… Or having the presence of mind to see it coming and stop it, I really don’t know. All I know is that when I’m in a social setting I can regulate my “limits”. Don’t get me wrong… there’s times I am freaking out on the inside… and my reality of loneliness blankets over me, but I am very strong. Those that know me well can tell I’m worked up, but for whatever reason I’m able to harness it. Reign it in. But when I’m on my own, I let the floodgates open and all hell breaks loose.

and every once in a while it would hit me, the horrifying truth of being alone. and it did not matter if I was with good company or not. i would slowly feel the violent pull of loneliness; shaking inside of me like a wild beast in the night

r.m. drake

Me, Myself… and Social Awkwardness… By choice. It’s a safety net, a security blanket. No matter how difficult it can get, speaking as someone who is admittedly suicidal, it ranks head and shoulders above the potential alternative. And that’s the way I want it to stay. That’s the choice I hope to make every time.

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(I need to insert a *NOTE* here. I don’t want you to get the impression that I hate social settings. I still find them emotionally exhausting, but I do enjoy them… especially when it involves friends/family. This is more to show the “other side” of the coin)