#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

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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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

r.m. drake

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

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