Emptiness

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

Faith…in the one who casts your shadow.

“Faith”

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

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

Webster gives us these basic definitions of faith.

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

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

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

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

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

A child can’t learn to walk without falling.

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

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

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

Thanks again for reading.

Dave

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

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

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

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

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I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times.

“A person who never learned to TRUST confuses intensity with intimacy, obsession with care, and control with security. “

-Patrick Carnes, psychiatrist

I remember reading a story about a young girl whose family ran a harbour eatery on the maritime coast of Canada. Her father was a fisherman who spent long stretches at sea. When she became old enough she would go on the fishing trips with her father… she loved the sea. Her parents died young in an accident, and while going through some of her mom’s old journals she realized that her mother never met her father until she was 2 years old, and that her actual father was a sailor. Through the story she tracks her father down, and spends time with him on the water sailing. She found a new love with a side of the sea she never knew before… the intimacy of the ocean on a sailing vessel, as apposed to the harsh, demanding lifestyle of a fisherman.

When I first read this quote on trust it tugged a string inside of me. I saved it on my phone, and went in to buy my coffee and carry on with my day. But every time I read it, it kind of worm-holed its way more and more into the centre of my mind. It made sense. I desperately didn’t want it to make sense. But it did. Could my trust issues have impacted my life in such a way without me even realizing it? Could this “Patrick Carnes” be onto something? Then I got into ‘Dr Phil mode’, and began analyzing what I am the way I am. I broke it down section by section, and it sadly made sense.

“A person who never learned to TRUST” …ok. This has been established already. I have trust issues. I like looking at it as you have 3 rings of trust in your life. You have those outside of the rings, the people you really don’t even know. Then you have the third ring. Good acquaintances. Soccer moms. Your kids might go to school together. You might go to the same gym. You might work together. You’re comfortable talking, you likely even get together socially. Then there’s the second “close friends” ring. The people you make plans with. You do things with regularly. Your kids have sleep overs. They’re your good friends. And then there’s that centre ring… the core. Your best friends. The people you can tell anything and everything. You trust them in all aspects of your life.

Normally, you kind of look at the rings as a target… progressively getting smaller as they get to the centre. For me, that third ring and the second ring are a lot closer in size to each other. I either don’t know you, or I do. And if I do, I very easily allow you into that second ring that is normally for just close friends. That second ring still has layers… but you’re there. But then there’s that centre ring, The core. The intimate “TRUST” zone. No one gets in there. No one. It’s like a vault. It’s off-limits.

Everybody has an internal emotional barometer. It’s your brain telling your body what emotions are coming so that the body can react. For myself, the barometer isn’t broken… it’s just no longer very sensitive. I rely a lot on other peoples emotion. When I do feel emotions it’s in extremes. I have a hard time regulating emotions, so I have a hard time showing emotion. I don’t want this to sound the least bit derogatory, but I in many ways rely on people emotionally the same way a blind person visually relies on a seeing eye dog. Without the dog, it’s hard for the blind person to physically navigate, and without that person, it’s hard to emotionally navigate. Life is so much easier with that person around.

“confuses intensity with intimacy“. This is a tough one for me to try and explain or describe without sounding predatory, but it definitely goes both ways. I don’t recognize “small gestures” as easily. The subtlety can be easily missed, or when I try and be subtle I feel it’s being missed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I pick fights, but I definitely feel the ‘intensity’ in someone I love ‘defending their feelings for me’. “OF COURSE I LOVE YOU …IF I DIDN’T I WOULDN’T BE HERE FIGHTING FOR YOU!” I get. I feel that. I understand that. But the cute little text might go unnoticed. The small gestures, though appreciated, don’t have the same impact. And it’s the same the other way. The emotion’s there. My barometer is detecting it, and Im feeling it. Now Brace yourself… Brace yourself to feel that love!!

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obsession with care“. I’m not sure if any of you can relate, but I need to be reassured of my wife’s love for me. It’s not that I question her love… I just really need to hear it… be reminded of it. I’ll text just to have her say ‘I love you’. I’ll call to hear the same thing. I’ll wake her up at night to hear those words. There’s times where I want to spend every waking second with her… cause that’s what people in love do. To me it’s crucial that she knows and sees how I feel, and that I know and see how she feels. I do it because I care. I need it because I care. I want it because I care. And it can easily be obsessive without realizing it, because I care.

And this ties right into “and control with security.” This is huge for me. I’ve been working at this since long before i had any diagnosis. Like many BPD, fear of abandonment is far and away my greatest fear. It’s not a matter of if, but when people are going to leave. It’s 100% the reason why my inner core ring is so extremely exclusive. I believe with everything in me that anyone who gets in that circle will hurt me and leave me. (it’s times like right now that I have to just sit back and thank God that he put the amazing wife in my life that he did). I require constant reassurance that I’m still loved. I get needing to know what’s going on, solely so there’s no surprises. It’s not even that I am looking to be in control, I’m just preparing myself for what might come. If she leaves me, I can justify it because of this, this, and this. My life is constantly preparing myself for being alone. And that part is uncontrollable. And by fighting for security through control, it triggers one viscous circle. I have an uncontrollable sense of insecurity that i try to compensate with a false sense of security through trying to maintain control. (And yes, I read that last sentence over 15 times to make sure it’s saying what i want it to say.)

I’ve always been really torn. I know I’m an emotional person, but there’s times I feel so emotionally dead. Emotionally cold. But I’m a kind person. I love deeply. I know that I’m not a heartless person. I feel very strongly about a great deal of things. I’ve kind of just come to the conclusion that I love very passionately; at the most inopportune times. But the bottom line is I love… and am loved back by the ones that I love. And last time I checked, that makes me a fortunate man.

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)

Behind the Mask – the comfort of the Masquerade Ball

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

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

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 10: What kind of impulsive decisions have you made?

Me: “Hey Sherry, do I make any impulse decisions?”

Sherry: “Bwaaaahahahahah… oh, you’re being serious?”

That’s all the conversation that I needed to remove any doubt there might have been in my mind. To me, most of these “impulse decisions” are merely just “decisions”, but looking more closely at them from the outside perspective, they may have been a bit (or very) impulsive. Actually, when I really think about it, my life is a entourage of impulse decision after impulse decision. After thinking about it and discussing it with my wife, the first thought to run through my head was “… Do I ever think before I make decisions?”

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I’ve made countless small everyday decisions on a whim, I think we all have. But the big decisions… surely I’ve thought those out, haven’t I? I’ve bought 7 vehicles in my life… 2 trucks, 2 Jeeps, Sherry’s BMW and Range Rover, and a motorcycle. I think my current truck and my first Jeep (which was my first vehicle bought with the assistance of my parents) are the only ones that weren’t impulsive. And my current truck was totally impulsive as well… it was just a bit more “necessary” because my other one broke down.

How about houses? When we lived in Calgary we decided to “go look at show homes” one day. We had talked about wanting to look into buying a house, so decided to go see what was out there. We looked at a few show homes, then looked at the sales office for a condo project that was a few months from completion. I wanted it. We needed a $1000 dollar hold deposit, so I wrote the cheque for the deposit (which I didn’t have money in my account to cover). But a few months later we were proud owners of a 1100sqft loft in the trendiest area of Calgary.

Notice I said “when” we lived in Calgary. We now live in small town rural Saskatchewan, and the move here was pretty much impulsive as well. We got a phone call from a realtor that had a client interested in buying in our building. I told Sherry that if it sold we’d move. It sold immediately, with a 14 day possession. I went in the next day to give my 2 weeks notice, we quickly finished the small reno we had started, and we packed up and left our entire life behind… all on 2 weeks notice. No jobs lined up, moved into our parents house, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It seems crazy now to look back at decisions that were made, really, with next to no thought put into them at all. And there’s many more daily examples. “Why is it that I make these impulsive decisions?” Honestly, I have no idea. To me they aren’t impulsive… they’re just decisions. I don’t think about them. That, I guess, is where lies the problem. I DON’T think about them. There have been countless small projects stated. We’ve had so many ‘coffee dates’ in the city, spur of the moment. (Note: living half an hour out of the city, our coffee including price of gas is roughly $17 per cup… but oh, do we enjoy it.) My impulsiveness is so second nature that I don’t notice it at all. Even my wife, I’m pretty sure has grown so used to my quick decisions that she just sort of “rolls with the punches” most of the time.

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But how do you stop impulsive behaviour if you are completely unaware of your impulsiveness? I mean, I literally have no idea when I’m being impulsive and when I’m being more rational. “Sleep on it” is one approach I’ve heard. Write down on paper a “decision” you are needing to make, and put it on the fridge. Don’t make your decision until the next day, after you’ve thought the choices and effects out. If spending is a problem, keep a spending log, or journal. Write down everything you spend so you visibly “see” your financial choices. This along with “sleeping on it” should prevent some of the new vehicles in the driveway, which is not a bad thing.

There are so many areas of my life that, as I work through DBT and counselling, I realize are interconnected with each other, and are all branching out from the core of BPD. It’s hard, as these habits and patterns have been formed over years and years. But on the flip side, they are habits and patterns that have been created, and therefore are habits and patterns that can be altered. Impulsiveness has played a surprisingly major role in my life from how I interact with peers and friends to how I handle business, how I run my home. To answer the question… Yes. I have made countless impulsive decisions in all different areas of my life. Just one more area that has lasting effects on relationships as well as regular day-to-day life living with BPD.

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Helplessly Watching me “Trapped in my Cage”

I’m not normally all that big on keeping up with the news of the world. I didn’t know of the Asian Air crash until someone linked the dashboard cam to Facebook. I get angered by online political debate, and I don’t care “why” gas prices dropped… I’m just glad I don’t need to finance my trips to the city anymore. But this morning on my drive into the city listening to CBC radio2, a news story came on that even I couldn’t let go unnoticed. A Jordanian pilot, being held in ISIS captivity was burned alive. now I don’t care if you’re a God-beliving man/woman or not, either we as the human race or evolving back to the Dark Ages, or the world is coming rapidly to an end. They burned a man alive… to make a political point. To flex some muscle. To strike fear. Seriously, what is wrong with people. And how callused and jaded are we that stories like this are become “normal”. There are videos all over the internet of executions, beheadings, physical torture. We aren’t even content “hearing” the horrific news anymore, we have to track it down and watch it for ourselves. It’s really quite disgusting.

Now after all the spiel of an intro, I must shamefully admit, that when I got to work I got out my phone and brought up trusty old Mr. Google. If anyone knows what’s what… it’s him. I started typing in my search. “J-… I only typed in the letter “J” and auto-fill brought up “Jordanian Pilot burned Alive video”. At 9:00 this morning, this video was already so widely searched that you merely have to touch the “J” on your keyboard, and it’s there. Dilemma time. I knew full well that I didn’t want to watch it. I suffer enough from nightmares. My mind gives me a hard enough time with out throwing graphic images of burning flesh into it. But it’s kind of like the old car wreck analogy… no mater how hard you try… you just can’t look the other way. So I did the exact thing I did not want to do… I pushed play.

I had kind of built myself up for what I was about to see. “I’ve seen people burnt in movies, I just have to think of it that way” or “I’m sure it’s recorded from a distance, you’ll likely hardly even be able to see anything.” Friends, I was all kinds of wrong. This was far and away, without a doubt the most haunting and disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I HIGHLY advise AGAINST watching this. All the preparing that I had done did absolutely nothing to soften the blow. It was like a professionally made video, not from afar, but from numerous angles…some extremely close up. It was like the movies. Just like the movies, but it wasn’t. It was real, far too real. That was someones son in there. It could have been someone’s husband or father. Locked in a cage, and burnt alive.

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This got me to thinking. Now I don’t want you to think I’m trying to compare living with mental illness to being burnt alive in a cage, but I think that it would be fair to say that the hopelessness of being on the outside watching in, though not nearly as horrific, could be similar. In many ways I feel that having mental illness is like being trapped in a cage. Not in the sense of feeling like a prisoner, not even from the perspective of the one suffering the illness. But to the family and friends that are on the outside looking in, it can seem like you’re trapped. That you are in confinement. You can get the captive to reach out and grab for your hand, but no matter how hard the try, how far you stretch, those bars are still there. The only thing is the bars are not made of cast iron. For me, living with BPD & NPD, those bars are depression, anxiety, fears of abandonment, self hate, dissociation, self-harm… We all have our bars, and we all know how sturdy they really are. They’ve been forged in fires of hostility, and are welded strong with insecurity. Often even when the doors are open, that insecurity is what keeps us inside. And all we do is allow those bars to close us in. to confine us until we are no longer even able to reach for that outstretched hand. It’s sad, it’s cruel. It sucks.

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That look in her eyes. I’ve seen it far too often. I wish there was something that I could do to ease that pain. That sorrow. She desperately wants to help. She would do ANYTHING to help. but she can’t reach me, and I’m not reaching out. I want to reach out. I long to reach out. I even try to reach out but it feels like my hands are tied. I’m stuck, trapped, confined. Alone. It’s like she can see what’s coming and desperately wants to save me before it’s too late. She doesn’t give up, She’ll never give up. Standing on the outside of mental illness, I believe, is extremely challenging. I would, in some ways say more. I’ve lived most of my life dealing with emotions, and now I expect my wife to just “get it”. You have to be strong at all times, as showing weakness causes instability. You have to keep life as chaos free as possible while risking the very strong possibility of being yelled at for not being able to release me from my cage. And you can do nothing but watch as that cage gets smaller and smaller, and the bars tighter and tighter. It can feel like all you can do as watch as “Mental Illness” reaches down to light that fuel.

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

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

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Have you ever had that feeling, where you’re in control of what you’re doing, but it almost seems like you’re not really there? It lasts a few seconds, then you snap out of it, and it feels almost like you were dreaming? Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. But that’s how my dissociation is. The only thing is, it lasts way longer than a few seconds, and I don’t just ’snap’ out of it. This happens most frequently, or I might even say exclusively when I’m on my own. When I’m working on my own is the killer… all I have is me and my thoughts. It starts out just getting foggy, or groggy. That ’slow-motion’ feeling, like you’re dreaming what you’re doing. But then it takes that next step. My dissociating almost always takes me to events in my past, usually painful events, or events that caused hurt in someone else’s life. It’s like in my mind I go back to that event, and relive it in excruciating detail. It’s torture at times. About six years ago we lost our son, Dayton. My most frequent dissociation by far takes me there. Back to the hospital. The sounds, the smells, and the sights. Going back over the impossible decisions my wife and I found ourselves in the position of having to make. The gut-wrenching reality that we were hopeless. There was literally nothing that could be done but to sit and wait for our son to die. I have many, many fond memories from the hospital too, but those aren’t the ones that I return to. All it allows me to relive are the agonizing moments. Those memories I’ve spent 5 years trying to forget. But like I mentioned before, the worst part is I don’t just snap out of it after a few seconds. I’m stuck there. There’s been days at work when it’s bad that after finally coming back, I’ll realize that literal hours have gone by.

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And that’s not even the worst part. What really sucks, is there’s no coping methods for dissociation, at least none that I know of. Anxiety I can do “mindfulness” exercises, drown it out with music, or if nothing else, cut myself to make it stop. Depression I usually sit in. I feel it’s earned, or deserved. It’s lonely, but it can be comfortable. But dissociation… I’m completely at the mercy of my mind. Distraction brings me back, but if I’m on my own, there’s usually not distraction. I don’t feel it coming on, so it really just happens. It’s like a dream that you want to wake yourself up from…but you can’t. It’s disturbing, it’s frustrating, and for me…it just is. I’m on meds that help me sleep better now, but before I’d dissociate at night too. I’ll wake up and be wide awake, and before I know it, I’m gone. Still awake, but gone.

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I’m reading back over this and starting to feel like I’m making myself out to be a real ‘nut-job’. It’s one of those things that I don’t like to think about, and definitely don’t want to talk about. That’s where I love the concept of blogging. I truly do find it therapeutic. I can write things out, see the words, and then things sort of start making sense in a new way. I have lots of friends and family that simply don’t understand “me”. What makes me tick. What’s broken in me. I’ve said this many times, but my ‘hope’ for this blog is that it will be a support and an encouragement to those that suffer mental illness, and that it will be somewhat a “window of understanding” for those that have to live with us, and not understanding. Please comment, I love feedback. Please share, especially if you know someone on either side of mental illness that might benefit from what I have to say. And please follow. It means the world to me that people are wanting to share this “journey” of BPD and NPD with me. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!!

Dave

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 5: Have you ever written a suicide note?

I can honestly say that I have never written a suicide note… and I don’t think that I could. Suicide is a very selfish act, I don’t think anyone can deny that. There’s actually not likely anything I can do that is more about “me” than choosing to end my own life, and leaving all my problems behind. I’m not saying this at all to be critical to those that have committed suicide, or that contemplate it. I can say right now that it is selfish, because to me, there’s not much of an argument to say otherwise. But that being said, when I’m reeling in my depression there’s nothing you can tell me that could possibly make living any less desirable. It’s not that I think dying is going to be enjoyable. It’s not that I’m excited about it. I hate it… I dread it… but it’s the lesser of two evils, so to say. In those moments, the agony of life seems greater than the cost of death. In the moment, death feels comforting.

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I don’t think that anyone “wants to die”. Like I said it yesterdays post, it’s human nature to live. We are created to “choose life“. Death is the the end, the final curtain call, the last dance. There’s no second chances once that choice is made. There is literally nothing on earth that is more final than death. I think more than “wanting to die“, it’s “not wanting to live” that plagues people. Death is less excruciating than life. I like to use the analogy of a burning building… Imagine yourself trapped on the twentieth floor of a high rise building that is on fire. The fire is growing closer and closer. The heat more and more overwhelming. You go to the window to get a gasp of fresh air. You see the firemen below, but they are so distant. The help is there, but it’s out of reach. As the flames come closer and closer, the heat gets more and more excruciating. You now are faced with a choice… do you stay in the building, bearing the the unbearable pain of the fire, or do you jump out the window, escaping the flames, but inevitably falling to your death?

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Now before you start, I’ll let you know that this is not a completely fair comparison, but it is an accurate analogy. Life, when you battle with severe depression or anxiety, burns… it hurts. Bad. The flames can feel unbearable. The fire dies down, but it always comes back roaring. The burn of the flames, or the pain of this life that is playing out in our heads can be too much to bear. And yes, I very deliberately said the pain of this life that is “playing out in our heads”, because thats what it is. I know that depression and anxiety are battles in my mind. I know that seeing my psychiatrist, going to my therapy, taking my meds… they all help. And they help a lot. But I’m far from being fixed. And when I’m depressed or anxious, that is the only reality that I know. It’s no longer just in my head. It’s no longer a “me” thing. It is now engulfing my entire life, my entire being. Everything is fuel to those flames. My thoughts are stoking the fire. Nothing feels like it is for me, and everything is against me. I feel as helpless as a man trapped in a burning building holding a glass of water. It’s get swallowed up by the flames of the cruelest of lives… or jump.

I know that sounds like an extreme analogy, but the unfortunate thing is that it is, in many cases, very accurate. Think about it again for a minute. He/she chose death over life. You know that there’s some pretty drastic happenings playing out in their head for that choice to be made. And speaking from my own experiences… you can feel incredibly helpless and alone. It’s a painful place to be. It’s a scary place to be. And its the loneliest of lonely places to be. Suicide is an escape from life. Is it selfish? It’s hard to argue otherwise. But I think it’s important to look past the surface. That last act carried out might not have been a last “selfish” act… it was likely more accurately a last “helpless, hopeless” act. Because that’s what living with depression/anxiety and feel like… a helpless and hopeless life.

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As far as suicide notes go, for me, and this is 100% my opinion, but for me a suicide note would be selfish, or a cry for attention. I know that everyone is different. I’m not saying that everyone who writes a suicide note is crying for attention. But, that’s not the way I am. It’s not the way I do things. For me, a suicide note would be a way of pointing blame at someone other than myself. Or wanting someone to feel guilty for not doing enough. People don’t need a note…they’re going to feel guilty. They don’t need me to inform them of that.

I’ll conclude the same way I always like to… with some incredibly important, life changing advice. For those of you that are suicidal, please-please-please get professional help. Have your doctor refer you to a psychiatrist. Counselling makes such a huge difference, and this is coming from someone who up until this summer was anti-therapy. Come up with a safety plan, and have the people close to you familiar with that plan. Find a network where you can safely and comfortably share and learn. It’s a long, difficult journey… so make it worth it. Suicidal is what I am… but it’s not who I am, and it’s not how it has to end.