Archive for I’m a survivor

Mental illness is not a game.

Nor is it a joke.

Prior to September 3rd 2009, I was a relatively normal, mostly happy, pretty well adjusted person.

Then I lost one of my closest friends.

I’ll never forget that day. Depression robs you of so many things (including your memory), but some things are forever etched so firmly into your memory that no matter what you do, you can’t forget even if you wanted to (and yes, sometimes you really want to).

Everything changed for me that day, I didn’t know to what extent until quite some time later. I just knew that I wasn’t OK and didn’t feel like myself. I had never lost someone so violently and so unexpectedly until that point. I’m no stranger to death as most of my family is gone. It wasn’t until several months later that I started to do some digging into what was wrong with me.

Diagnosis: Type A-Typical depression (typical when you suffer a traumatic event including death or a really bad break up and more). It generally doesn’t last forever and if you’re fortunate, talk therapy is usually the ‘cure’. I say ‘cure’ because depression doesn’t truly go away. It’s a disease and it can lie for a long time before rearing it’s ugly head again. Something that rears it’s ugly head whenever I loose someone that I love.

I also got diagnosed with anxiety, which is depressions best friend.

Along with OCD.

Having to live with all three of these things changes you, it changes who you are. It constantly affects every aspect of your life. Personal and professional and there’s not much you can do except learn to cope with it.

Depression is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. It robs you of your memory, it robs you of energy, it robs you of having a normal life.

It’s not something that I often talk about, there’s a huge stigma and a lot of ignorance surrounding these things. People mean well, but it’s so frustrating that it’s just easier to not say anything at all and try and deal with it the best way you know how. I am also a private, somewhat introverted person. I don’t often share my feelings with most people because they really don’t get it.

I don’t hold that against anyone because it’s not their fault, they haven’t walked the same path(s) that I have, nor have they suffered the same losses that I have either.

It does not however, make it any less real.  

Just because it’s not something that you don’t understand, it does not give you the right to dismiss it, nor does it give you the right to mock someone who suffers from these things (and more) so that you can have a laugh at someone else’s expense.

So needless to say, it really upsets me greatly when I hear incidents of people being the butt of someone’s jokes or the punchline or people who deliberately go out of their way to upset someone because THEY think that’s it’s funny.

Because it’s not. 

Mental illness is not a game. We have no control over how we react to things, believe me, if we did, we would. So when you openly mock someone that you know, care about or love, you are not only dismissing them, you’re also dismissing their disease.

That’s not okay, that is never, ever okay. 

When I see/hear/experience these incidents, it calls into question a persons character. I can’t speak for anyone else but it truly makes me wonder what on earth is wrong with you.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

End the stigma, don’t contribute to it.

Dear depression, grief and sorrow:

*orginally written June 4th 2011 updated with additions:

I’m not sorry that I finally had to kick you out of my life.  Mostly because you almost ruined it.  I thought I was going to be OK after I came to terms with Jason’s death, I foolishly thought that the minute that happened that life would magically fall back into place for me once again.

I’m smart, I’m strong and countless other things.  Yet you held me in captivity for far, far too long.  It wasn’t bad enough that fate decided that my friends life should be snuffed out far too soon, wasn’t bad enough that living conditions in my home got to the point that they were UN-bearable, that I live in a province that winter seems to live on far past it’s expectancy, that three more people that I knew had to take it upon themselves to play God and cut their lives too soon.  No matter what I did, you were always there.  Hanging around and turning me from a bright and vibrant person into something so dark that I couldn’t stand myself anymore.

So much to the point that I was sitting there with a proverbial noose around my neck, waiting for the courage to kick that stool out from underneath me and just end it all.  The others did, why not I?  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that life/fate/the universe/God or some other spiritual being had dealt out so many lousy avenues in my life and yet somehow I got up, got out of bed and made it through the day.  I was still alive, however I had ceased to actually live.

It’s so easy to say to someone that there’s help out there.  Because there IS.  That however takes effort.  Far too much effort for some.  You’re left to wonder if you’ll ever truly live again, if your life will ever be the same.  Except it never is, life as you know it ceases to be the same ever again.

Updated: July 5th 2011

It’s hard to accept that you life will never be the same again…  Yet, you want it to be.  Desperately so, you think to yourself that if you stick it out just one more day; you’re going to make it.  Some things are just far greater then you can ever begin to imagine.  In spite of all that you have managed to overcome thus far in life, it’s no match for this.

At least for me. 

Faking it becomes your new full time job, one that you don’t want and certainly didn’t ask for.  You think that people buy into it, yet somehow you know deep down inside that they don’t.  In reality you’re hurting them as much if not more then you’re hurting yourself.  I lived this way for far, far too long.  I was dead inside emotionally, I had lost my ability to care, to cry, and several other things.  I hated myself, hated what I was doing to myself and others and yet I felt hopeless and helpless (in spite of the fact that they are not mutually exclusive) until one day you get so fed up with being this way that you can’t take it anymore.  Something happens, something that’s in reality quite trivial in hindsight and you completely loose it on someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Therein almost totally destroying a relationship that you have with that person.

3 days later, you have the opportunity to see that person face to face and that’s when you fall apart.  Even though in your mind your trying to convince yourself not to cry, thinking to yourself I haven’t been able to cry for months and all of a sudden you Can’t. Stop. Crying.  It’s in that moment that you hit rock bottom so hard that you have road rash on your ass for the next month.  Who knew that you would hit rock bottom wearing a fuzzy bathrobe, sporting bed head, standing in a puddle from the snow on the other person’s feet, crying all over them saying that you’re sorry again and again because you are.  Sorry that you hurt that person for too long, sorry that you waited too damn long to get yourself the help that you damn well knew that you needed and waited far too long to get.

Everything happens for a reason and I believe that what happened was supposed to happen.  In fact, that random incident on March 2nd 2011 quite likely saved my life.  Which sounds ridiculous perhaps, however it made *me*aware that I couldn’t do this anymore.  I had become a prisoner in my own mind and I needed to get the hell out of that prison.  So I did.  On March 5th, the day I hit rock bottom I had an epiphany of sorts.  I was recalling a conversation with said person that we had about 12 step programs and how there’s one for pretty much everything.  That’s when the serenity prayer crept into my head:

”  God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Then it all made sense to me.  It all seemed so painfully easy and simple; let go of what I can’t change for the past is that, UN-changeable.  However you can learn from those past experiences and move onto something better.  There’s something wonderful about letting go and chasing down your demons.  I made a promise to myself at that moment to get help, and I had to look pretty hard to find something that would cater to my needs and my budget.  Which was frustrating, I didn’t however give up and thought I had found something that would work.  There was no harm in trying, I had nothing to loose at this point.

The next day I grew a pair and made the call.  That was hard, reaching out sucks.  Especially when that person is a virtual stranger to you.  However, the great thing about strangers is that they don’t know you from a hole in the ground so they don’t say all the cliche things to try and fix you, they just want to help you because you’re putting forth the effort to help yourself.  The next day, Monday, was it.  I had a really hard time walking through that door.  Even a harder time walking down those stairs and into that room.

But I did.   And it was wonderful!

There was something strangely freeing having someone ask you what brought you there and having the balls to say  “I’m broken, please help me so I can be whole again.”  and not feeling like a freak.  It was in fact a relief.  I did it.  Not because I felt that I had to, because I wanted to.  Which made all the difference in the world.  Later that night, I was privy to a conversation dealing with grief when someone had asked: “How do you pick up the pieces and move on?” I waited for someone to answer because I didn’t feel that *I* personally knew what it was and the person who responded kept it simple, all they said was:”You don’t.  You start over.”

Which made So. Much. Sense.  
So I did exactly that.

I kicked all the toxic people out of my life that were doing nothing but weighing me down.  It was a shame to have to break up with some of my friends but they weren’t good for me and I feel better not having them in my life and having no contact with them since then.  I moved out of the hell hole I once called home, discarded all the things that didn’t matter and managed to hang onto the job and the people I loved.  People who loved me in return and made me feel grateful that I was still alive to see it, acknowledged it and be a part of it.

It’s been a long, hard, tedious road.  I’ve been in recovery for 121 days, and every single one of them has been nothing short of extrodinary.  Far from perfect, however I have yet to return to that dark place and in truth I hope that I won’t ever encounter it again.  Technically as far as my depression goes, most would consider me cured since I do not suffer from a chemical imbalance, I was the unfortunate victim in too many circumstances.  Depression after all, isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you’ve been too strong for too damn long.

Most importantly, I have an amazing life.  A life where I wake up happy to be alive, a life where I no longer take anything for granted, a life where I choose NOT to be taken for granted any longer, a life where I live by my own rules.  Yes it’s selfish, I am not however hurting anyone by doing so, especially myself and that’s what counts the most.

I gave grief the finger a long time ago, said good bye to sorrow and as for you depression I only have one thing to say to you:

Fuck you! I took my life back.



Things aren’t always what they seem…

So I came clean about my depression.  To the whole freaking world.  As I am quite fond of saying: “go big or go home” right?  Although I have to say that it was strangely freeing above all else.  Except one person was keep in the dark, until I seen them Wednesday past.  I can’t totally recall exactly what they said but it was something to the effect of:

” I can’t believe you’re having a hard time, you look better then I’ve ever seen you!”   (granted I showered, threw on some mascara and French braided my hair.  Apparently I clean up real good 😉 ) Perhaps they’ve read David Hume’s Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, include:  “Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”  In any case, they’re very sweet.

Read more

A survival story

Kevin Haines story

The bridge rail project