Viking’s Valour

Here it is, my first post of the new year. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time that I’ve actually felt like writing. I still don’t feel like it, but her we are. I have been avoiding my blog for a few reasons, mostly because I haven’t been able to feel cheerful in some time, and who wants to read a post in which I report that nothing has changed? I had a lot of great things happen to me in the past year, but it’s not in me to be the person that only focusses on the good. I dwell on anger and sadness, it’s what helps me relate to humanity. Pain makes me feel human.
On Christmas day, my dog collapsed while we were on our family walk, and could not get up. He didn’t seem like he was upset or was in pain, so we waited for him to get up to finish the walk to home. After finally realising that he couldn’t get up by himself, a friend picked him up with his car and brought him to the house. (we were less than a block away)
After a day of pretending that he was just tired, and a night of panicking, on the morning of the 26th, I took him to the emergency animal hospital. I was separated from him for most of the day, which was very stressful for me. I was so worried, but the office was so busy that it took us a few hours to be seen. Because of his size and his inability to use his back legs, they made a bed for him in the back office, and were monitoring his vital signs. Every now and then a nurse would come and tell me that he was doing good, looking happy, he didn’t seem like he was under too much stress. Thankfully M stayed with me, in spite of her allergies, and helped me maintain my sanity while I waited. Even though I wanted to be with my boy, I was also a little bit happy that I was still waiting, because if I hadn’t seen the doctor, no one could give me bad news.
When the doctor finally came I was full of cautious optimism. Perhaps he had a pinched nerve, maybe a pulled muscle, maybe he was faking it because he had a flair for the dramatic (true story). Things went downhill so quickly that there were points that I struggled to stay breathing. After blood test analysis, it was determined that he had cancer in his blood, and it was so advanced that there were tumours in his hip and surrounding his heart. They could operate on the hip, but it wouldn’t do him any good. He had a week left at most, and according to the doctor, we were ‘lucky’ that he collapsed when he did, otherwise he probably would have died at home. I went in expecting to spend a few hundred bucks on treatment and medication, maybe he wold have an overnight stay at the hospital. It was then that I realised that I would be leaving without my dog. My boy. My Murphy, my Viking’s Valour, at the age of 7 human-years, was going to die that day – and I had to be the one to sign the form and say yes; I authorise you to take my dog’s life. I had his life in my hands, and I had to make the choice that was right for him, not the choice that was easiest for me. The doctor was so kind to me, I can’t imagine having to tell someone that they are about to lose their pet. He wasn’t a pet, he was my boy. My best friend, my biggest source of emotional support, and my foot warmer. He was one year less two days older than my oldest daughter, and we have had him since he was born. He loved my kids and they loved him. He was almost always a good boy. Never rowdy, never too loud, and only sometimes would he get into the garbage. (he had a thing for diapers and coffee grounds). In the end he was calm and ready; I was a total mess. We laid with him on the blanket while the vet first put him to sleep, and then euthanised him. As I felt his breathing stop I felt a piece of my soul die. I really did. i am forever altered by the loss of him, and although I know that it will get easier to live without him, I will never be the same. One of the lights in my heart has burnt out, and nothing can reignite it.

Good things have happened this year, so I will end on a high note. Most importantly, baby H was born this year! She is a magical little person and we as a family are so lucky to have her. Every day with my three girls is wonderful, especially during these few weeks of sadness. They have been able to help me through the darkest of days, and as always, I am eternally indebted to them for keeping me alive.
This year has given me new relationships, some unexpected and some long overdue! I look forward to growing with these new found treasures, and one goal for the year that I have is to better connect with the people that truly mean something to me – and not just via social media. I have spent so much time isolating myself, but the grief of losing Murphy has helped me reach out to people that I had forgotten how much I care about.
The girls have continued with their 100 acts of kindness project, I will make a separate post in the coming days about their progress!
Christmas brought us lots of treasures, including (for me) a signed copy of Col. Chris Hadfield’s new book, a new Nintendo 3DS to replace my old one that the kids broke, and a Jawbone Up24 band to help me step up my fitness game. New Year’s eve was spent with good friends, lots of food, and a bottle of wine to myself. I am continuing to work with Speak Up!, and was in YVR over the weekend to work on a project, and will return mid-month for a wellness fair. I find my time with them very fulfilling, and I am determined to not let my interest or commitment peter out, as so often is the case for me.
I have also decided that my 30th birthday will bring travel with friends. I have finally found the people who I want to travel with, and feel like by the time I reach 30 I will not only have enough money, but also have less anxiety over leaving the girls and Big Daddy. I still have a few years to hammer out all of the details, but I’ve decided that this year is going to be a year of change for me. No resolutions, just an overall life goal of making better decisions, committing to things that I say I am interested in, and making conscious behavioural changes that will benefit myself and my family. It is an ongoing process that will last the rest of my life, I will not put an end date on it by calling it a resolution.
Its finally time to say out with the old me, and in with the new. Im really ready, and I look forward to transforming myself in front of this blog, and I trust that my reader(s) will hold me accountable for the promises I make.

The year ended on a low note, but I have never felt more encouraged to be a better version of myself, and not just on the outside – on the inside, too. My pity party is over. Is anyone else making big changes to their lives? If you feel comfortable, please share your plans with me. We can all learn a lot from each other!

Cheers to a new year of adventure.

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Baby Haych

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Big Daddy and I with Murphy when he was a wee pup

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Christmas morning

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Parallel Lives

Does the term ‘parallel listening already exist’? If not, I’m going to take it upon myself to give it a definition. I am a parallel listener. Meaning, while I listen to you, I don’t necessarily absorb what you are telling me. It’s like when you read a book but after a while you realise that you haven’t absorbed any of it. Your eyes read the words, but their meaning doesn’t reach your brain. The same goes for how I have conversations. I hear the words, but not the meaning. This of course, can cause problems for me. I have trouble retaining directions that I’m giving, my attention span is short, and I have issues recalling simple facts about the people that I should know fairly well. I am constantly inwardly focussed, and I only came to realise it when I was recently called out on it.

I was called self-involved, narcissistic, egotistical, and standoffish (all by the same person). Unfortunately for me, these are all right – it is part of being a psychopath. I couldn’t even defend myself; it is all true – and it needs to change, but how? I like talking about myself (obviously, see: blogging), and when I talk to people I often drift off into thinking about myself, or what I would do in the situation that they are talking about. I honestly don’t do it on purpose, and I am trying very hard to change that. I am asking more questions, not talking to so many people at once, and trying not to respond with something about myself. It isn’t easy, and I’m sure everyone I know is extremely tired of it. My memory is terrible (thanks, depression!) so often I am repetitive. I ask the same things over again because I either wasn’t paying attention, or I was but can’t remember. Wow, being friends with me seems like garbage when I write it down!

Another contributing factor to my parallel listening is my lack of energy. As shallow as it seems, it takes a lot for me to want to engage with others, and when conversations go on too long I peter out and can’t focus. I find that not many people can relate to me, and I can’t relate to them; either. My life has been so different from most of the people in my age and peer group. I can’t connect because I haven’t had the same experiences as everyone else. I have three kids; most of the people I went to high school with are just now getting married or buying houses. The peripheral friends that I have are few in number – the friends I have who actually have life experience that I can relate to are even fewer. I don’t really fit in to the military wife community, but I certainly don’t fit in to civilian life. I’m not a typical PTA mom, but I still want to be involved in my kids’ lives. I’m in my own category and it isolates me from all of the communities I should be able to connect with.

Trying to connect with people on a deeper level takes actual physical energy. I get tired, and sometimes I have to withdraw and not talk to people for a few days. I try to be a good listener, but most of your struggles are foreign to me, and some feel like a waste of time to listen to. I feel bad for saying that, but my priorities have become so different over the past 6 years that I don’t understand where people are coming from anymore. Something that is a big deal to you feels trivial to me, and I have trouble getting past how I would feel in that situation (see: narcissist). I know that being outwardly rude would lose me the friends that I do have, so I try my very best to listen, and give opinions or advice should the situation warrant it. (Word to the wise, never take my advice).

Long story short, I’m sorry that I’m a shitty listener. I promise that I’m working on it, but I don’t know that my level of narcissism will ever change. I have a lot of things going on in my life that I want to talk about, and like you, I feel like the things that I have to say are more important. I know that some of you reading this are also parallel listeners; I have started noticing it in my conversations with people lately. I’m seeing what I do in some of you, and I don’t fault you for it – we’re all self-involved to a certain degree, n’est pas?

I don’t want to be shallow, and I want to set the best example that I can for my little ladies; I’m terrified that I will pass on all of my personality defects to them – but how do I avoid it? So far my answer to that is:

  • By staying self-aware,
  • by critiquing my behaviours and trying to modify them,
  • by being as honest as I can with my doctors
  • by thinking before I speak around them, and
  • By talking to them about their feelings, likes and dislikes, and really listening to what they have to say.

These answers will evolve I’m sure, and there are days when I fail miserably at being the example that I want to be; but I am committed to taking life one day at a time, and waking up each day with the desire to try again no matter what happened the day before. Each day I am waking up with the intention of listening to the things that matter to my loved ones, and I’m trying to appreciate that everyone’s story is important – just because we don’t go through the same things doesn’t mean that it matters less, your story is important to you, and if you matter to me, it should be important to me too.  I’m slowly coming out of my hidey-hole…but sometimes I need to go back. It’s where I keep my Spock Snuggie. Please forgive me the days when I can’t control my interest levels, it really isn’t anything personal. I’ll figure this out eventually.

Here are some signs that you may be parallel listening:

  1. You respond to a message with something completely unrelated to what the person is talking about
  2. If you don’t find the topic interesting, you wait long enough to respond that you can change the subject without making yourself look bad
  3. You respond with an anecdote about yourself in relation to the topic that doesn’t really contribute to their side of the conversation
  4. You have NO IDEA what’s going on with your friends even though you talk to them daily

Any of these sound like you? Can you come up with any examples of this behaviour?

You’re Always Right. Now, Shut Up!

willy-wonka-meme-dumpaday-23

Believe it or not, I know some things about some things. I’m certainly not the smartest person, but I am pretty OK at general things. Have a question about Canadian labour practice? Want to know what a specific political party’s running platform? Have a question about European history? Ask me! If I don’t know the answer, I more than likely have a book that I can reference to find it. My level of intelligence is directly related to my self-esteem. I take great pride in having a good education that I worked very hard to achieve. I had no free rides, and I put a lot of sweat and tears into improving myself, and proving to myself that I was capable of doing it. I LOVE debating things with friends and loved ones, I love learning peoples opinions, and I love defending my own. Friendly debates are healthy and mentally stimulating and should never hurt feelings or cause anger from any party involved.

I’m sure we all know that one person who knows everything – and no, I’m not referring to myself. That one person who will argue you until they are blue in the face – and when you prove yourself right? They are pissed at you and refuse to keep talking to you. They are the bully on the playground who takes the ball and leaves when he is called out. So here is my rant to you; oh brilliant one who has all of the answers to the questions of the universe, oh wise and omniscient know-er of all facts, including the ones that pertain to subjects you know nothing about. Are you ready? Pay attention.

Does my brain intimidate you? Good. It wouldn’t if you didn’t think yourself inferior to me. I’m starting to like that you get so frustrated that you resort to mindless insults or silence. You’re giving me a superiority complex. I don’t make you feel that way, you do. Being alive longer does not guarantee that you are smarter than anyone, and age does not entitle you to always be right. No one wants to discuss anything with you because the risk of making you mad isn’t worth it. The last time I tried discussing politics with you, you got mad and had tears in your eyes. How is that defending your opinion? If you think you’re right, fucking prove it! Use your knowledge of a subject to teach me something new! Change my opinion! We don’t have to agree on everything, but if you can’t appreciate that I have an opinion, I won’t respect yours either. The real kicker for me is that we have a mutual acquaintance who acts the EXACT SAME WAY as you, and you constantly bitch and complain about what an arrogant asshole he is, and how irritating it is that he has to always be right; but you are NO DIFFERENT. You’re both in the same category as  far as I’m concerned. The only difference between the two of you is that you shower occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with me thinking that I’m smart, everyone should celebrate their intelligence. I’ve worked DAMN HARD to know the things that I know, and I continue to learn and evolve daily, why can’t you do the same? If you aren’t interested in changing your beliefs or opinions based on new evidence and facts, at least have the courtesy not to yell at me every time you ask for my opinion and I give it to you.

You are also incredibly smart, and talented in a variety of areas, but your own unwillingness to accept other people’s talents tarnishes your own. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to tell you anything, nor should I downplay my successes to make you feel better about yourself. There are always going to be people in your day-to-day that know a multitude of things that you don’t know, and that’s not wrong. Your high horse is growing weary under the weight of your ignorance.

I love you, and I look forward to the day that I don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings over trivial events or conversations. Until then, I will continue to make you feel inferior because you think I do it to you intentionally. Just remember, it’s not me; it’s you. I’ll keep forgiving you because I have to, but I’m running out of patience and fucks to give.

Now that I have gotten that off of my chest I will admit that I sound completely arrogant in this post, but come on – there’s only so much I can take. EVERY WORD that comes out of my mouth is an affront to this person. They are the type of person that asks me a question and then argues over the answer I give. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t discuss a TV show without it ending in a fight and the silent treatment. Why ask my advice or opinion if you just want to rip me apart? Or is that what this is about? You feel intimidated and that upsets you, but you can’t figure out a way to refute my arguments, so you resort to anger and rudeness in the hopes that I will stop sharing with you and you can go back to feeling superior. I get it, I personally love feeling superior, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t – but part of actually being a superior human being instead of just thinking that you are is acknowledging that you are not the be-all end-all of the universe, and that quiet intelligence is always more attractive than loud arrogance or ignorance. The point of being educated is not to rub it in people’s faces, but to all exchange information and learn from each other. Being superior is knowing that you can learn something from everyone.

The bottom line is this: I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to make you feel bad about yourself; but I also don’t want to make myself feel bad to try and appease you. I have self-respect, and I cannot allow you to get in the way of it. Instead of bullying me, why don’t you take a look inward and see what it is about yourself that is causing you to attack me constantly. I get defensive easily, just like you. You try to make me feel bad, I will make sure that you feel bad. I don’t like that part of myself – I can admit that. We deserve to be happy around each other. Can we please work on that?

Temper tantrum over. For now.

#ilovesentencefragments

The Darkest One

*This post originally appeared on my Blogspot in July*

‘My reality’ VS ‘actual reality’
The world in which I exist is a circus-style microcosm of the world that you live in. My emotions are heightened by senses. Smells, colours, and sound are exaggerated and burned into me so quickly that sometimes I break down. My senses become overloaded and I cease to exist on any plane, and become enveloped in every emotion I have ever felt all at once.
I am constantly parallel to you, but we will never reach an understanding on anything, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. We can both look at the colour red, and though I know you say it’s red, my mind will tell me that it’s something different. I prefer blood, you prefer cherry.
It’s not wrong that I am hyper emotional, in fact, I believe that sometimes it makes me a better decision maker. To see abstractly is to see from all sides, and to pick the prettiest one. Or more like me, perhaps, pick the darkest one.
The kicker is this: knowing that I am more emotionally aware than you puts me in the position to find everyone that isn’t like me confusing, hard to reach, and sometimes not as…evolved, as I am.
 I fear spikes in my emotions and senses because I know that no one understands them. I am not dramatic, I am not a raw nerve, and I’m not an emotional wreck. I feel and love and hear and taste with my whole body and soul, and I know deep down that this is a beautiful gift that I must nurture.
But there is a cycle to this beauty, a cycle that leaves me feeling bloodied and angry – and it never ends. To fit in I change the way I express myself – sometimes subtle things, to let you know that I can cross the tracks and enter the ‘normal human reality’.
Repressing these colourful flaws causes panic that rises from my chest and chokes me in the throat. Anxiety attacks, they are terrifying, and I’m learning slowly that to not have so many, I have to not try to impress anyone with how normal I am.
When I’m angry, I am the angriest person you will encounter. I have no filter on how to control myself when I feel threatened. When I feel loving, there is nothing that would stop me from making you feel like the only person who’s ever been loved.
My point is this: just because the apple I bite tastes sweeter than the one that you bite, doesn’t make me a freak. You can throw buzz-words and pretend psychology at me, but it won’t stick anymore. I am allowed to live my emotions, regardless of if you feel comfortable or not – I am not damaged.
I am always open to hearing your feelings. If I have hurt you, I want to know. I crave openness with all of my loved ones. I crave honesty and hugs and the knowledge that we are all better for having each other. We are all beautiful, and I’ll stop calling your emotional volume too quiet if you stop calling mine too loud.

From The Archives: ELEUTHEROMANIA

*This post originally appeared on my Blogspot in July*

ELEUTHEROMANIA is an intense desire for freedom, or a break from your usual routine.

Moi sans toi.. Ça n’existe pas!
My life as a Navy wife
Every military spouse has their own unique story. We all have a lot of the same challenges to overcome, and we all find different ways to overcome them. Here is a brief version of my challenges as a military wife, and why somedays I consider growing a moustache and assuming a new identity.
My military spouse career started almost 10 years ago. I already had a good idea of what the life was like, thanks to various family members serving in various branches and countries. We had our first daughter, and for the first 18 months, I was pretty sure that I had everything figured out. I was at the top of my game, going to school, looking after my kid, being supportive of my husband.
Now, three postings and (almost) three kids later, I am waving a white flag from my fox hole.
My oldest daughter, now six, is gifted – with an exceptionally high IQ, and the ability to rationalise thoughts that should be too complex for her age. After she was tested I read several books on how to help her, but there is no book on how to deal with the gifted child of a military member. During his first major deployment on this coast I learned that children like her can develop depression at an early age. It took several months to accurately diagnose what was wrong with her, and the stress of her not eating, barely moving, trying to quit her life, was very hard to handle. (Understatement)
I went to every professional I could to discuss why she ceased to function as a human child. I blamed myself entirely for not being able to kiss her emotional boo-boo’s. Why wasn’t I good enough to make her feel better? Finding out about the cyclical depression she suffers from was a huge step for all of us, though the knowledge didn’t make our day to day any easier.
Our second child was introduced in 2011, while my husband was on a course for his trade. Giving birth without him was surprisingly easy for me, because I knew I had no choice. What was hard was driving myself home from the hospital, and going back to business as usual with kid 1. I celebrated my birthday (2 days after she was born) by taking myself to Costco and buying a slab cake. I ate most of it. My husband’s first view of our daughter was via a text message that my mother sent him. I count myself lucky that I am always the one with the kids, because I have no idea what it feels like to miss out on these milestones. I’m sure it is a guilt that he will harbour for his whole life.
My primary job is to assuage him of that guilt. Be a constant reminder that he is our hero, and is always doing what is best for our family. 97% of the time I believe this to be true. The other 3% I wish he were at home more often so I could shower by myself.
We are now expecting our 3rd child, and a few weeks ago he was called away on less than 48 hours notice. While I am good at last minute planning, my children are not. This sail has been confusing and frustrating for both of them. I try daily to keep them engaged with activities. Take them to see friends, plan movie nights, to to events, but as a pregnant lady and cardiac patient, I need breaks. Between depression, PTSD, and a heart that will never function like it used to, (thanks to it stopping and then having a mild infarction when I came back to life), I am not the 10/10 mother that I wish I could be. (5/10 on a good day).
It’s a vicious cycle. I have fun, I slow down, I feel guilty, I exert myself, I have fun, I slow down, I feel guilty. I feel weak, and some days want nothing more than to lay down and hide while my kids destroy the house.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, it’s not an option. With a spouse who isn’t home, I don’t get to take the day off. As much as I feel sorry for myself, I can’t make my kids suffer. Although on days like today, a pillow over my face doesn’t seem like a bad idea….
As I mentioned earlier, I live with a gifted child – now two gifted children (Kid 2 was also tested). These two beauties that I love and cherish and blah blah blah can be ASSHOLES, and I say that in the most loving way possible.
Both girls deal with their dad being gone through anger. Kid 1 will tell me she hates me, tell me how much better life is when he’s home, how she wishes that I was gone instead of him. She knows that these things hurt me, and I’ve recognised that at the tender age of 6, she is a major manipulator. When I don’t bend to her I feel guilty. I know that she loves me, I should be more kind when she has these outbursts. When I do give in, I know that I’m enabling her to continue to treat me this way.Vicious cycle.
Kid 2 has found her voice and her fists. She kicks and punches and screams at the top of her lungs, and it’s getting harder and harder to dodge her blows. (Maintaining agility with beluga belly is not my strong suit).
Today after a particularly rousing screaming session that lasted from the park to our house, she grabbed a wrench out of the tool bag and threw it at me when I told her she was on time out. The first thing I thought was, ‘time to put the fucking tool bag away.’ 
On top of dealing with my charming kidlets who are currently in the process of planning my murder, I have a house to maintain. This is where I fall short. I have several friends who are also military spouses, and their houses seem infinitely more cared for than mine. It drives me batty, but most days I don’t have the energy for entertaining the kids and doing housework. It’s one or the other. Today I was up at 0700 doing the dishes and trying to clean up, while kid 2 sat on the floor cutting paper and scattering it.
On days like today, I put my kids to bed early, and daydream of the day when I finally have the balls to pack up my shit and run away. Make no mistake – I love my family – but when I am feeling stressed I yearn for a life with no responsibility. Laying on a beach in Europe, gently and consistently buzzed, sounds so appealing, and the psychosis inside of me has me convinced that I would feel very little guilt.
Are there flaws in my plan? Absolutely. We don’t make enough money for me to run away. I could get a flight, but I wouldn’t take the food out of my children’s mouths to fund my own sick fancy.
Also, the thought of knowing that I could never return prevents me from doing anything irrational. I would eventually get bored and want to come home, but I know in my heart that I would not be welcomed back – which is totally reasonable and understandable. I know the feeling of being abandoned by a parent, and just as I would never forgive my father if the opportunity presented itself, I would not expect my girls or my husband to ever forgive me.
So I plan little vacations in my head, picture going to fabulous places, imagine not speaking to anyone for days at a time, I read books in the middle of the night, and I remember that the little shits who want to murder me are also the best things that have ever happened to me, and they are the glue that bonds me to my amazing husband while he is away.
He is under an immeasurable amount of stress while he is away, worried that he’s left me at home with a broken lawn mower, broken washing machine, and children who pine for him. He deserves to know that I am working my hardest to keep things stable while he’s away. That is my biggest job as a wife. Keeping a home that is deserving of his daily sacrifice. He has given up being with us so that I can be at home, getting hit with wrenches. When he is home is a super dad, and I fade nicely into the background – free to do what I want. So should I complain while he’s away that it’s hard to parent? Whether I should or shouldn’t, it’s hard not to. Staying positive when I talk to him can be very hard. Choosing what to omit or gloss over so that he isn’t worried can be difficult, and sometimes I break down and tell him that I’m useless without his help and guidance.
Afterward I apologise, pull myself together, and remind myself that we live a very good life, and counting my blessings is just as easy as whining about my shortcomings.
The point of my story is this: my life as a Navy wife is a roller coaster of holding myself together and completely falling apart. Vicious cycle. Would I trade it for anything? Never. I’m proud of how far we’ve come, and I know that my kids won’t always be monsters. It’s all about perspective. Other women’s houses may seem cleaner, their children better adjusted, but I don’t ride their roller coaster, and I cannot stand in judgement or jealousy of any family that works as hard as we do.
If my children are still throwing punches when they turn 12, I will definitely consider the running away plan, but I’ll take my husband with me. He deserves the break, too.

From The Archives: Reaching Out

*This post originally appeared on my Blogspot in August*

How do you approach a loved one on the topic of their mental health? This post has no answers; I am reaching out to my community for support and guidance in the hopes that we can open a dialogue on a touchy subject, and hopefully pass on the knowledge that we have to each other to piece together a better understanding of mental illness.

If you have read my blog before, you are no stranger to the mental illnesses that I live with. I try my best to be completely transparent with my symptoms, sufferings, and downward spirals, in the hopes that I can encourage others to be honest with themselves and others on the topic of their mental health. So what do I do when I recognise symptoms in a loved one? My concerns have been mounting for several years, and I always try to counter my own arguments to avoid projecting my own symptoms onto this person. However, after a few years of studying, I feel confident in saying that this person IS suffering from mental illness, but does not realise it. I have tried bringing it up in conversations about my own mental health, bringing up genetics, talking about the similarities that we share in personality and the way we react to situations, but so far, nothing has clicked. The biggest problem that I find blocks us from making any progress is, this person believes themselves to be somewhat of a psychology expert – an armchair psychiatrist even. They are quick to point out the damage that they see in me, and even offer ideas on ways that I could improve myself, but refuses to recognise these symptoms in themselves.

Sometimes these conversations are infuriating. I am not always the instigator, and to be told sometimes relentlessly that I am damaged goods, and that I need more help, and that I don’t see in myself what this person sees, eats at me, and causes me extreme anxiety. My first instinct is to lash out, respond with extreme anger (as I am prone to), but I try very hard to repress these feelings, mostly so that I don’t prove this person right. I get so offended at the implication that I don’t know my own suffering. I have been dealing with some of these problems my whole life, and have been very proactive in finding ways to help myself, how dare anyone tell me that I am not trying hard enough? I am tired of receiving ‘advice’ from this person, but at the same time, I understand that they are also suffering; probably more than I am, because they don’t realise that anything is wrong with them.

To be direct with this person is out of the question. Confrontation is not their strong suit, unless they are the confronting party; and being confronted even gently about any subject causes them to shut down and regress into a very angry survival attitude that is unreasonable and impossible to deal with. I have tried to introduce the common-denominator theory to them, obviously with no success. In case you aren’t aware of the common denominator theory, I’ll explain it quickly: If you have more complaints about life, people, work, weather, etc. in a day than the people you normally associate with, then the common denominator in your poor day is you. (A very simple way of putting it, but I think that gets the point across). I have also entertained the idea of staging some sort of mental health intervention. After giving it a lot of thought, I have determined that if it were I that were being confronted about my mental health by a group of people, especially after decades of refusing to see the problems within myself, it would likely cause a large emotional breakdown at the least, and violence, extreme rage, or even suicide at the worst. No one wants to hear from a group that they are questioning your mental stability, no matter how much they need to hear it.

So what options am I left with? Guided discovery hasn’t been successful, hint-dropping hasn’t been successful, and asking them to read articles about mental health has only lead to them finding more problems in everyone else. I feel like I am running out of options, which is a scary feeling. I love this person very much, and I care deeply about their well-being. Their treatment of me and their constant chipping at my own health is wearing me down, however, and I fear that I won’t be able to control my own anger for much longer. I don’t want to cause this person any damage.

I am going to include some links on this page for some helpful resources regarding mental health. I know that the person doesn’t read my blog, but I am hoping that if enough of the people surrounding them have a good understanding of signs and symptoms, it will be easier to help them find their way to acceptance, and ultimately, help.

If anyone reading this has ANY suggestions for how I can better help this person, please leave me a comment or reach me on Twitter (@thesagemum).

My goal is not to shame this person or make them feel the stigma that I have lived with for most of my life, but to offer them support, love, and an understanding person to talk to about all of the new things they will be dealing with as a card-carrying member  of the mental illness club.

CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION – UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/

THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY for BIPOLAR DISORDERS

http://www.isbd.org/

ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA – FACTS AND STATISTICS

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

A link to my favourite poem about war-time: And Death Shall Have No Dominion, by Dylan Thomas

Some of my family went to the cemetery where my granddad is buried and put their poppies on his memorial tree. Had I been home, I would have done the same.
Some of my family went to the cemetery where my granddad is buried and put their poppies on his memorial tree. Had I been home, I would have done the same.
The high-browns of the Mountie who stood guard at the Cenotaph today. This is where my daughters and I placed our poppies.
The high-browns of the Mountie who stood guard at the Cenotaph today. This is where my daughters and I placed our poppies.

My Remembrance Day started a few days ago, when I asked my husband to have his uniform dry-cleaned for the service. Each year we argue over whether or not he is going to wear it, and each year he pitches a fit; but I always prevail, and he wears it to the service. This year, he didn’t, and it threw everything off for me. I tried to explain why it was important to me, but I am not always great at expressing myself when it matters. Both of our families are rich in military history, and when he wears his uniform he is a visual representation of everyone that I have loved who has served. I can’t be with them to hug them and see that they are still here (for the ones that are in fact, still here), but I can be with him and see his uniform as a representation of everyone else. That’s the best that I can explain it. Maybe I should have explained it that way to him. My mama compares my marriage to that of her parents quite a lot, and this situation reminded her of them at this time of year. Every year my grandmother would argue with my granddad about wearing his uniform, and every year he would stubbornly say no. I understand that a lot of our members choose not to wear their uniforms because they don’t wish to draw attention to themselves, but I feel like for one day a year they deserve it, and the rest of us deserve it too. We need to feel that they know how much we appreciate them. Selfish? Maybe. Don’t care. I want my pride in him to be validated by a sea of civilians who respect and admire the sacrifices he makes that others cannot. He works hard and deserves his one day of accolades, n’est pas?

Remembrance Day is emotional for me for various reasons. The most obvious being that my husband is an active member. (See: paragraph 1). The next reason is my granddad. He died in 1978 when my mother was just 11 years old. Before the war he was a farmer, and during the war he sent money home to his father to help out. When he returned from war after storming the beaches of Normandy, being shot twice, watching his friends and brothers die in front of him, he came home to nothing. The farm was gone, the money was gone. A resilient man, he worked at the CN Rail yard until his death. Every year we mourn his loss on his birthday, death-day, and Remembrance Day. It is a day of great sadness as well as pride – pride in his exemplary service and dedication to his family, and sadness that I never had the chance to meet him, ask him questions, have him brush my hair. He loved children, and even though he would be well into his 90’s now, I know that he would have loved to meet all of us, and I often think of what it would be like to have a granddad, and my girls have a great-granddad. They are lacking in grandparents on my side of the family.

He instilled in my mother and her siblings an honourable sense of familial responsibility, and they have handled their jobs as matriarchs and patriarch of our family quite gallantly. They in turn have passed that on to my generation. Pride in family, hard work, and respect for the past. We are all descendants of him, and us living our best lives is a tribute to him, and to his service as a young man.

The other soldier for whom I pray on this day is my father’s brother, the bravest man I have ever known. He served in the American Armed Forces for as long as I’ve known him and much prior (we met in 1997ish), and had an incredible career. Each Remembrance Day in which he was deployed – which was most of them – I would attend the service feeling sick to my stomach. Before the days of Skype or Facebook I would go months without hearing from him, and the terror of not knowing if he was safe or not caused me more sleepless nights than any kid needed. I’m not complaining, he deserved my worry. I would cry for him through the moments of silence, shakily sing the hymns (still crying), clutching a book of photos of him that I have amassed over the years. My worry for him didn’t fade on the days that weren’t marked for remembrance, but November 11th amplified it exponentially. He finally retired after my second daughter was born, and the Remembrance Day after his last tour overseas I cried with relief that he was finally safe forever. I am closer to him than I am my own father, and the thought of losing him still sends my stomach into a horror-spiral. He is the one hero I have had in my life, and I am so  grateful that he is safe. If I weren’t blonde I would definitely have grey hair from worry!!

My life as a military wife has been a roller coaster that I keep paying to ride. I love my life, and I am so unfathomably proud of my husband. The time that he goes away is hard on my soul, because I worry about his physical and mental well-being, but I am normally good at coping with keeping our home running while he is away. I owe him that. I take good care of our girls, I pay our bills, I get on with our lives. I don’t have crying fits, I don’t need breaks from my children, I operate in survival mode so that he doesn’t have to worry about us. As strong as I can be through deployments and training, I still cry when I hear songs that remind me of him, and my insomnia gets worse when I think about him being so far away, and some nights I shake with fear from the knowledge that I am the only one protecting our house; but I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I am so proud of how far my family has come, and it is because of the man who gives up his family time to protect us globally. He has missed birthdays, holidays, and was away for the birth of our second daughter. As hard as it was for me, I can’t imagine how it felt for him. I am so grateful to him that I don’t miss out on any milestones, although I regret that it is at the expense of him experiencing things first-hand.

I gave him a very hard time today for not wearing his uniform – I had hurt feelings and chose to take it out on him, even though ultimately it’s not up to me whether he wears his spiffy’s or not. I don’t regret cajoling him, but I hope he knows that I love him past all of the stars, and am so proud of him that sometimes I fear my chest will burst. Our daughters are proud of him whether he’s in uniform or not – he is their super hero every day. Their eyes sparkle when they think of him, and I hope that they will continue to accept and understand our lives as they grow older.

At the end of today we took some nice family photos, and I popped several Advil for the migraine that I get every year on this day. We ended our solemn day with smiles and full hearts, happy that another year of safety for our loved ones has passed. Not every year will be happy ones for us, it’s a hazard of the life that we live, but for now I will focus on the good. Everyone we know is safe, my girls are learning to respect the past and enjoy their history, and I have one day where everyone else has my husband on the same pedestal that I do.