#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.

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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

physical in presence – absent in mind

Life with Borderline Personality Disorder is an extremely frustrating existence. Anyone living with the ‘illness’, or living with someone with the ‘illness’ will be able to support that statement completely. It’s literally a cycle where everyday you gain a little more confidence in being able to handle yourself in a safe manner, but also everyday you become more and more aware of just how extensively BPD controls you. I know, I know… BPD doesn’t ‘control’ me, right?!? Well, to that I must honestly say… yes, yes it does. I spend two days a week in therapy to try and resolve that, but as for now that’s the way it is. Only because of my increased awareness of just how my ‘illness’ effects my life, it literally feels like I can’t escape it. It’s like the blinders are off, and now my demons aren’t hiding in shadows as much any more. No, now they’re in plain sight. Pouring my coffee and holding the door as I head out for the day. It sucks. I mean it… it really, really sucks!! Why do things so often seem to get harder before they get easier. Whoever wrote that proverb, wherever you are, I dislike you. #yousuck

I did an anxiety screening a couple weeks ago… and guess what? I scored extremely high in the area of ‘social anxiety’. Well, that’s just awesome. It seems every week my resume gets longer. I mean, I’m starting Somatic Trauma Therapy in addition to the modified DBT & CBT I’m already doing. And now I get to go in tomorrow to meet with another counsellor that I’ll be doing weekly social anxiety ‘group’ therapy with. I now will be spending 10+days a month in therapy of some sort. And that, my friends, is depressing. But back to the social anxiety… I knew I had it. I know I’ve hidden it. I know it effects me likely more than anything, as far as mental exhaustion goes. But I think it’s one of those things where as long as it was hidden from everyone else, I could play naive and ignore that it’s there. But the bottom line… it’s there. And it really does have a strangle hold on me. A sneaky unsuspecting bystander strangle hold. I mean, I don’t even know where it’s coming from half the time. But it’s there. It’s always there.

It’s frustrating. When I’m with people I disappear. I zone out. Mentally, I’m gone. It often takes all my mental strength to stay engaged in simple conversation. My mind is trying desperately to leave. To hi-tail it to that oh-too-familiar rendezvous which is the eerie confines of my mind. It’s almost like that person temporarily ceases to exist. But then, when I’m on my own and trying to stay task-oriented, that person is in my mind. In my head. I can’t stop thinking about them. What they’re doing. What they’re feeling. What they’re thinking of me. This is now haunting me. I’m either physically present and absent minded, or physically alone but reeling in emotion in that persons absence. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s tormenting. The seeming inability I have over controlling my presence of mind is terrifying. It really is. I long to be able to think about what I want, when I want. Not what they want, when they want. I want to be in control of my mind and not them. I’m working at it, and some days it feels like I’ve got it figured out. But then the days come when I’m very accurately in the passenger seat, holding on for the ride. R.M.Drake words it better than I ever could…

when i was with people i would doze off and look at the sky, and when i was alone looking at the sky i would think about people. i was never in both places at one time. maybe i was crazy or maybe i was like everybody else. i wasn’t happy in my own reality, i wanted more.

r.m.drake