…be a hero.

It doesn’t matter how bad your problems are,

They will always tell you someone has it worse,

Nobody is going to care,

Til you tie that rope and kick the fucking chair.

I read this quote, and I started crying. I literally welled up and began to weep. It’s all too familiar. All to close. I’ve been there…sitting. Pondering. Contemplating. I’ve looked at my phone at 9:47 and played the “if I don’t receive a sign before 10:00, then that’s it. I’m done” This usually goes again until 10:15, 10:25, 10:45… The thing is, there’s only the potential outcomes to this situation. I’m going to either A-receive a sign…a phone call, someone finding me, whatever it may be. B-over the course of however many rounds of “let’s wait until” I chicken out or calm own and change my mind. Or C-carry out the task.

There’s always going to be those that tell you that “so-and-so has it worse”. There will be people that will think you’re being over-dramatic. There will be people that will flat-out call you a liar. And those are the people that will push you to that edge… to the point you just don’t know what to do. You feel like you’ve completely run out of options. But the thing is, that’s all bullshit!! There are people who care. It may not be your family, but if you open your eyes and look…you’ll find it. I’m extremely fortunate. I grew up in an amazing home. I have siblings that love me and care for me. I married into an equally amazing family where I have felt nothing but love. We live in a small community full of genuine, caring people. I’m blessed. I have it so good!! But on those days, when the darkness sweeps over and the chaotic haze sets in…on those days, none of that matters. I might as well be a castaway, left for dead in the street surrounded by strangers. I’m scared. I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m dying.

Here’s my problem. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I find social interaction can be stressful, awkward, and create huge anxiety. I prefer have everything bottled inside of me instead. I’ll try to act as if I’m the happiest guy in the world. And I’ll act as if I have the perfect life. I play that happy character so well, that even I begin to believe it. I’ll actually lose focus on my fears, with my fears losing grip on me. I’ll be so happy all day. But as soon as I lay my head in bed at night the thoughts come back. They always come back.

I have three children. Two living, one that passed away 6 years ago. They literally are my world. I cannot imagine life without them. It’s been extremely difficult figuring out and knowing when, where, and how much they should be let in to the truth. My daughter is 9…and smart. She gets it. She doesn’t understand, but she knows it’s there. She knows I cut myself when I’m “sad”. She knows I spent time in a Psych Hospital to get better. She knows I take “crazy pills”. My 5 year old, he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t attempt to get it. He doesn’t care. But kids are kids. They’re genuine. They’re honest. They tell you exactly what they think, tact-free. Do you know what my kids see when they look at me. They don’t see dark, empty eyes. The don’t see fear. The don’t see and anxious tremors running through my arms to my fingers. They don’t see a loser. They don’t see a failure. And they sure as hell don’t see someone who is better off dead.

No. The see me. They see Daddy. They see they’re hero. They want to be just like me. The tag along in the garage just to spend time with me. They curl up and snuggle to a movie. They literally borderline worship their dad. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the world…looking at life, specifically my life, from the eyes of a child. I am important. I am loved. I am talented. So tonight, when I tucked my kids in I couldn’t help but look at them through their doors and think to myself… “there’s my babies…and I’m there Hero!!”

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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.

I AM… a tangled mess;

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”

-C.S.Lewis

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is the human equivalent to a box full of Christmas lights. There’s so much beauty and brightness and colour in that box, if you’re willing to untangle the strings. How many times has Christmas come around… you go to the closet on a mission. This year you are going to have the best decorated house on the block. You pull the big bin of lights off the shelf, and remove the lid. And every time the same thing happens. You find an end to a string of lights, you begin pulling it out of the box, and suddenly you have the mess of who-knows-how-many strings of lights tangled and hanging from that single strand in your hand. Annoyance. Frustration. And usually anger to a boiling point where the lid is put back on and the bin is heaved back up on the shelf.

That annoyance. That anger. That frustration. That is life with BPD. We try countless times to remove the lights from the box in a tidy and untangled manor, but the reality is our lives…our minds are a tangled mess. We can’t make sense of it all. We try. We make progress. and then there’s another tangle. Always more tangles. And no matter how many lights we remove and untangle, when we look in the bin it’s always full. Always tangled. Always overwhelming. This is what I like to call the journey of therapy. It’s hugely beneficial. HUGELY!! But it’s one of those things that just when you start feeling like you’re getting it…like you’re understanding a bit of whats going on, a relapse happens. No matter how far you’ve come you look in the box and see a mess of lights and wires. It’s overwhelming. The weight of the world gets dropped squarely on your shoulders. You retreat. You recluse. You shut down.

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” I hate this quote and love it at the same time. I hate it, because it’s a difficult concept to accept. I like to think that my problems are “out of my control”. I like to feel that I’m the victim to the wrath of mental illness. I like to believe I’m helpless and hopeless. But why? Because it’s easy. It’s not an easy life… not by any means. But it’s easier to just live with it. Live in misery. Live tormented. Or maybe not even live at all… maybe taking the route of ending everything is appealing. The fact of the matter is that any of these is easier than the gruelling challenge of actually dealing with your illness. Of taking the steps of getting help. Of changing that course and shifting that weight around. But as much as I hate that quote, I love and take comfort in it as well. “It’s not the load that breaks us down.” It’s not the illness. It’s not the anxiety. It’s not the depression. It’s not the anger. It’s not the self-hate. “It’s the way you carry it.” That you can change. That you can adjust. That you can alter.

BPD is maladaptive, or learned behaviours. We have the power and the ability to relearn, to alter the way we carry the stresses and the effects of our illness. We can keep carrying it the way we have been, letting it beat and bury us into the ground. Or we can chose a different course of action. Adjust the load. Sometimes it helps, other times it’ll make it worse. But the key is that “I” have the ability. The power. The authority to change the course of my life. I can either throw those strings of lights back into the bin on the shelf, or I can slowly, painstakingly, ad seemingly impossibly sort through the chaos and the mess in hopes that the end result will be a continuous strand. That is the question. That is the challenge. That is Borderline Personality Disorder.

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.



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

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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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

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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)