…happines

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… I’m not a great writer. My grammar sucks. Composition a mere shot in the dark. My spelling is atrocious, thank you spellcheck!! Actually, my spelling is so bad that I’ve omitted so many cool, words because spellcheck can’t even figure out what I’m trying to say. So no, I’m not a great writer. But I love writing!! Sometimes I write to vent. Sometimes I write to encourage. Sometimes I write to shine light on living with mental health. But I write. And you read. So many of you read. Now over 7,500 of you have read, which to me is insane…go get girlfriends, or hobbies, or ice cream. (kidding…I’m so glad you read) I’ve been published more than a half dozen times in online mental health magazines. I really am blessed!!

Now here I’m going to attempt something a little bit different. I’m going to try my hand at some poetry. I love reading poetry…I’ve tried writing it before, never with much success. The last month has been extremely tough for me. In so many ways I’m completely lost to what’s going on. Happiness has been drained for years, but lately it feels so much like just a fleeting memory. So here goes…happiness.

…happiness

people talk about you …happiness

like you’re free for all to receive;

But with a life so overgrown with anguish,

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

.

people talk about you …happiness

this warm-fuzzy, contagious thing;

while i spend most my life in sadness,

anger, torment, lonely suffering.

.

when I see you …happiness, you ignore me

if i look at you you drift away;

then there’s times you feel so close to touch,

but then my fears comes to sweep you away.

.

I see you touching others lives …happiness

with love, with warmth, with grace;

Like an artist you once knew me too,

and brushed a smile on my face.

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i’ve mad it a life goal of mine …happiness 

to be brim-filled with you one day;

whether it be weeks, four months, three winters,

maybe after the kids graduate.

.

the point is i won’t give up fighting for you …happiness,

however long this great journey may be;

through rivers, and mud, and scary dark roads

i’d risk crossing the vast, angry sea.

.

people talk about you …happiness

and there’s definite glimpses i see;

moments of you holding and warming my heart,

leaving memories that will always remind me

.

but i don’t want to have just memories anymore,

i want to have you all day and all night;

i want to hold you, to protect you, to keep you for good

but for now i’ll cherish these moments and fight.

Be happy! Be blessed!! Hug a Borderline…

Dave

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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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My Dark Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 11: Is there anything that helps keep you grounded?

“‘…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. ~ Isaiah 7:9

Staying grounded is one of, if not THE biggest challenge that I face. And the funny thing… the longer I have my diagnosis, the longer I’m aware of the difficulties I face and work on methods of coping, the harder I find that it is to stay grounded. Maybe I need to clarify what I mean by “grounded”. By grounded, I’m simply saying “not freaking out”. To me that is grounded, and to me that is the most difficult task I face.

I’ve found a few ‘coping methods’ that I find really useful to bring me back down. Music is a big one. Music drowns out all chaos in my mind. A pair of headphones and some loud music, and I can usually find myself back in the stratosphere. There are also things I can do to prevent things from escalating… breathing exercises, walks, working out. They all can keep things somewhat under control. But they don’t keep me grounded. To me, the things that you use to stay grounded have to be constants in your life. And for me, there are a few… they are important to me, and without them I don’t know how I would be able carry on.

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My faith. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Without faith, I have nothing. I know that there’s many of you that are not men or women of faith. And I’m not here to push any beliefs on you. That’s not the way I do things. I’m simply telling you what keeps me going. What gives me hope. What keeps me grounded. I’ve had to live through my share of hard times. I’ve been asked many tomes “how can you still have faith?” It hasn’t always been easy. There’s been times it’s been very hard… almost impossible. I spent twenty-six days in a hospital praying for a miracle as my child died. If there’s something that will test your faith, it’s the feeling that the most important thing you have is being snatched from your hands, and the one you’re supposed to love and pray to is the one thats taking him. Yes, my faith has most definitely been tested. Time and time again.

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My family. “Home is where the heart is!” That phrase has to stay true. You keep family a priority, and with their support you’ll be amazed at the strength that you have to stand up to your demons. I have a wife and to kids that I have the fortunes of seeing every night. I am my sons hero, and my daughter is the most beautiful princess I’ve ever seen. We are a family of faith. We believe in prayer, and my children are counting on me to ‘get better’. If you need more reason than that, then you have no heart at all. The love of my family gives me strength.

And the third is Hope. Hope in myself. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that this can be overcome, and Hope that I can come out of it a better man. This is by far the most difficult because it requires putting my faith in myself. And if there’s anyone I have little confidence in it’s myself.

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It is these three things, Faith, Hope, and Love that keep me grounded. They’re what I have no choice but to live for. They’re what keeps me going. Find what keeps you grounded. Make that your focus, and don’t give up.

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 6: How’s your love life?

IF YOU EVER FALL IN LOVE…

fall in love with someone who wants to know your favourite color and just how you like your coffee.  Fall in love with someone who loves the way you laugh and would do absolutely anything to hear it.  Fall in love with someone who puts their head on your chest just to hear your heart beat.  Fall in love with someone who kisses you in public and wants to show you off to everyone they know.  Fall in love with someone who makes you question why you were afraid to fall in love in the first place.  Fall in love with someone who would never ever want to hurt you.  Fall in love with someone who falls in love with your flaws and thinks you are perfect just the way you are. Fall in love with someone who thinks that you are the ONE they would love to wake up to each day.

When I started thinking what to write on my “love life”, I looked my wife in the eyes, rubbed my hands together and made some animal-growling sounds that can only be described as the furthest thing from sexy, and about as creepy as it gets. But by the hairy eyeball that was sent my way at the idea of a post on our love life…I know she got the message, loud and clear. But after 12 years of marriage i know full well what the hairy eyeball means. It means different things all the time, but this time it was in BOLD letters, with flashing lights, siren and fog horn…“POST ON OUR LOVE LIFE…AND KISS YOUR LOVE LIFE GOOD-BYE” I often don’t process the message in time, and end up creating blog-worthy situations. But this time the message was clear. “Do not post about how amazing, wild, passionate, and spicy our love life is. Don’t even think of mentioning that I have the pursuit of a black panther, the pounce of a tiger, and the endurance of a gazelle.” So in respect of my wife, I’ll heed her warning and leave our “love life” out of it.

But in all honesty, this last year has been an extremely trying one for my love life. Not my sex life, but my Love Life. I never focused on my love life. I never really understood my love life, and I was basically terrified at the thought of love. I was 33 years old, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, realizing that I really didn’t understand at all this “crazy little thing called love”. You see, my whole life I’ve loved out of fear. It was full of emotion… I’d even say full of passion. But it was completely driven by fear. Fear of losing it… Fear of damaging it… Fear of the unknown of it… and greatest of all, Fear of being hurt by it. Do I know where this fear came from? Not at all… not a clue… not even a sniff. All I know is that to this day, without question, my biggest fear is that of abandonment. Of losing the one(s) I love. Of being left hurting and reeling. It’s literally, at this point, an uncontrollable fear. Sherry reassures me everyday that she’s in it to the end. And I believe her. I do. In my heart and in my mind. Here’s the thing though. Right now, there are far too many times where I lose control of my mind. And when this happens, all hell literally breaks loose in my head. And when all hell breaks loose, life simply hurts.

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When you suffer severe anxiety and depression, you don’t need someone to beat you down. You do more than enough of that yourself. For me, things usually will play out in a circle. I know I explained this in a previous post, but I will quickly do it again. There will be times where I’ll be thinking about the past… reminiscing, we all do it. I’ll be thinking about a time where Sherry and I were taking the day and going up to the lake. The drive, the beach, supper and drinks… all good. But that’s when it happens. I call it the demons, because they might as well be the way they eat at my mind. There’s that thought… that so often just little and meaningless memory. I commented on us working on our beach-bodies, which made her just a little bit upset that I was implying SHE needed to work on HER beach-body. No big deal, an apology, a squeeze of the hand and a wink… like it never happened. It’s back to having drinks and making fun of the couple at the next table. That’s how it played out 3 years ago, when we were actually on that ‘date’. But now, 3 years later, that thought hits me like a sledge hammer. I am the worlds biggest asshole. I might as well have taken her food out from in front of her and given her some shaved ice. Or maybe stand on the chair and announce to the entire bar how embarrassed I am of my ‘horse’ of a wife, and ask for a paper bag to hide her head. Obviously this is not at all what happened… but when the ‘demons’ are in control of your thoughts, that’s exactly how it may as well have been.

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This is where things bottom out. The lowest place. It’s dark, it’s lonely, but it’s deserved and it’s comfortable. There are times where I just sit there, feeling like the worst human being on the face of the earth, and not giving a shit. I’ll lay in bed for hours. Won’t eat, won’t talk, and if I do talk it will be to cut myself down… reinstate in everyones mind how terrible a person I am. But the other thing that can happen, is I find that thought that I can’t stop focussing on… and instead of shutting down, anger comes in. I blame myself, I beat myself down. How worthless I am. I’m a terrible husband. Terrible father. Waste of flesh. It builds and builds until I can’t even think. I’m freaking out. Seeing red. Fight or flight. And the sad thing, the only thing that makes this stop every single time… the knife. I’m working at other coping methods, but right now that is the fall back plan.

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I know I went off on a trail there, but all that is to show just how my view of love is skewed. It is controlled by fear. Completely. I love out of desperate fear of losing that that I love. I cling. I smother. But then I doubt. I panic. I fight for what I “love”, but as soon as my mind thinks I’m losing it, I push it away. I’m hurtful. I’m hateful. I’m scared. I’ve done things to sabotage and cut off friendships out of fear they’re going to leave me many times. I’ve done it in my marriage. My understanding of love is foggy. It’s unclear. It’s like ikea instructions… I get the picture, but not a clue the words. But I want to. I need to. For the sake of my marriage and my family I have to. And I’m optimistic. Why? Not because of my own doing… but my support. I have, without question, the most amazing wife. I have pushed her face first to hell and dragged her back countless times, and she still chooses to wake up with me. Every. Single. Morning. I have the most amazing example of love at my fingertips, almost literally at all times. She’s patient. She’s doing everything she can to be understanding. She’s a pit bull when she needs to be, and a teddy bear when I need compassion. There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for Sherry, I would not be writing this today. She is my Queen.

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So in response to “How is my love life?”. I’d love to say awesome! But as you can see, it’s hurting. It’s damaged. It’s weak. BUT… it’s going to get better. It already is. The bad days still out number the good, but the good ones are there. And that’s something that I could not stake claim to six months ago, and for that I am happy. For that I am proud. And because of that I have confidence that one day I’ll be writing a post on my Amazing LOVE LIFE!!

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31 Day BPD Challenge – Day 4: Have you ever attempted suicide?

“In the depths of hell, I learned who I was. It takes a strong soul to endure so much pain and heartache and still make it out alive; to not get stuck in the deep burning pit of misery. It takes a resilient creature to claw their way back up out of the darkness and back into a reality where your nightmarescan finally turn into dreams.

-Jordan Sarah Weatherhead

This is another post that for me has me completely unsure as to what I’m even going to say. I try and at least have an idea what I’m wanting to say before I start writing, but this entry is going to be 100% written as I go. I apologize in advance if my ramblings don’t make sense…but I’l do my best. So, here goes…

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Suicide…is there a darker place in all of existence than standing at the doors of death, feeling so much hurt and pain and conflict and confusion that you’re not fighting to get away from those doors, but you are actually pushing those doors open and willingly walking through. Avoiding death is the most natural aspect of human nature. Our bodies are literally designed to avoid dying. Just try and stop breathing… your body won’t let you. We are wired to fight death, everything in us longs to live. So how can anyone possibly get to the point where not only do they willingly die, but they take the course of action to carry out that will. Mental Health is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. Self-harm takes that discomfort to the next level. Suicide… well that takes discomfort to a level few are willing to tread. I don’t care who you are, there is no easy conversation on suicide… there never has been, and there never will be. It’s another one of those “if you’ve never been there, you just won’t get it” things. And you can’t get it. But, what I am going to try and do is help you understand, from my experience, what the attraction of suicide is. Again, this is my opinions based on my experience…

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I read a book on suicide that referred to it as “an illicit lover“. And that, at least for me, is about the most accurate description. Suicide… thinking of it as a forbidden love affair is actually very accurate. I am suicidal. I would even say I’m very suicidal. I’m not ready to share publicly yet details, but I have had two extremely close calls over the past six months. “How can someone in they’re right mind commit suicide?” To me, that’s an easy answer. They can’t. For someone to stand on a stool, putting their head through a noose for the sole intent of ending their life… the only thing for certain is that they’re not in their right mind. Instead of asking “why?” or “how could they?”, focus more on “what is hurting this person so much, that DEATH is more desirable than life?” Just think about it for a second. Life, in the mind of someone contemplating suicide, is so bad that cutting it off seems and feels desirable. Not seeing another day is actually seen as a relief. It’s awful. It’s sad. It’s true.

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With my BPD, I suffer both extreme anxiety and depression. When I get depressed, the thoughts of suicide come in. Every. Single. Time. And I’m depressed a lot. I literally contemplate, rationalize, and justify ending my life every day. Sometimes multiple times. I beat myself up when I’m depressed. I carve into my mind how worthless I am. How I do nothing but hurt and destroy peoples lives. That every single person would be better off if I no longer was here. I know that this isn’t true, of course. My family loves me. My kids idolize me. For sure I’d be missed… I get that. But when I get down, none of that matters. I think of dying. I dream of dying. I pray to die. But the depression, and my thoughts and desires when I’m depressed are not what scares me. When I’m depressed, I know I’m not going to kill myself, no matter how much I want to. When I’m depressed I’m definitely not thinking straight… but I am rational. “What if it doesn’t work?” for me is usually more than enough to prevent thoughts from “going into action”. “What if it hurts?” or “what if my kids find me?” Basically, when I’m depressed I’m having a big, massive, “my life sucks – poor me” pity-party. It’s my anxiety that scares the shit out of me… especially when it piggybacks my depression. My anxiety is not rational… not at all, not even a little, not even close. My brain operates in split-second reactions. I described yesterday the “noise” in my head that often leads to cutting. That absolute inability to focus on anything…anything at all. Then when I finally grab something to focus on it’s something extremely negative. I beat myself up over it… feel the need to punish myself. This is where the anxiety ramps up again, only this time it has a focus… and that focus is me!! How bad a father I am, how selfish I am, how terrible I treat my wife, how incompetent I am at my job, how my friends only are my friends because they’re my wife’s friends, how I can do absolutely nothing right. This often leads to me texting Sherry and going off to her about how much I suck… getting angry at her for anything she says… being a complete asshole. I’ve gone off on friends before. I’ve gotten so worked up at work I can do nothing but sit in the corner pulling my hair and sobbing (Note: the me sobbing part is strictly between me and you). This is when I cut to punish, rather than cut to relieve chaos. This is the deserved cutting, the angry cutting. And this is when I’m at extreme high risk for suicide. I’m seeing red… It’s fight or Flight.

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A comment I hear quite regularly is how well I present myself. I am very smart. I definitely know how to manipulate situations. I am a liar, although my wife and my mother-in-law hate me describing myself that way. When I got admitted into the Dubé Centre, I told the psych nurse “I’m going to lie my way out of here…” and I did. I warned my counsellors and psychiatrist that I lie and manipulate situations to avoid discomfort. But the reality is that life is full of discomfort. All the lying and manipulating I can throw at the world will not change that. Life hurts… for me, the easiest way to describe it is that emotionally, life simply hurts. I’m used to it. I’ve had years of living with it. Putting on a smile and pretending it’s ok. Now don’t get me wrong… I do this very willingly. Pretending things are good and that I’m happy makes the people around me happy, which is far more enjoyable, even for a depressed guy like me. But it is EXHAUSTING!! When I come home after spending a day in social settings, I just want to lay down and be left alone… for the rest of my life. And after a couple days of this, that exhaustion puts me into a state of complete shut down.

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How many times have you heard, after a suicide, “I had know idea… he/she seemed so happy.” or “I just don’t get it… they had so much going for them.” Here are my responses to those comments. “Seeming happy” is not hard to do. I’m sure you’ve gone to a work meeting, or a dinner party you didn’t want to be at, but “acted happy”. We all have. I put so much hate and guilt on myself for “ruining peoples lives”, that I make pretty damn sure to be happy most places I go. And lots of times I am. But aside from my wife, I can pretty much guarantee that no one knows when I’m not. And hey… I’m suicidal. “They had so much going for them” Hello… I’m just going to base this on me again. I’m a blessed man. I have an amazing, hot and sexy wife… the two best kids on planet earth. A job that I love, more supportive family than you can imagine. I’ve got more than I need. But guess what? I’m suicidal.

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Suicide does not make sense. If it did, we could likely do a lot better at preventing it from happening. For those of you that are suicidal, please-please-please get professional help. 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.

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