Cognitive Dissonance 

I’ve had to make a decision recently, about a problem that has been bothering me for quite some time. I had been waiting for a moment of clarity, a sign perhaps, to guide me in the right direction. However I have now determined that waiting for some cosmic being to tell me what to do would leave me waiting forever. I had to put on my big girl pants and make a hard decision, and hope that it was the right one. 

I am no longer willing to nurture relationships that are not healthy for all parties involved. I cannot journey healthily into the future if I am still clinging to parts of my past. No more “friends” on facebook that I don’t communicate with. No more hate-stalking, no more waiting for someone I cared for to reach out to me. I have evolved, and my evolution is bound to leave some things and people in the dust. That is not to say that I don’t care about these people or things, I will always wonder about them, but  what I’ve had to give up is wondering why they get along so well without me. I’ve spent too long on the outside of people’s lives, looking in, and feeling a sad disconnect based on the relationship we used to have. My love is always constant, and I’m learning that it is an unrealistic expectation to think that everyone operates on the same emotional plane as me. As much as I try not to be, I  am an empath. I don’t want to feel as much as I do, but it is beyond my control. This amplified feeling of rejection and loss has led to an unhealthy obsession with trying to find out where I’ve gone wrong. What have I done to drive a wedge between myself and this person that I once connected so strongly with? I must’ve done something, because I am defective. Trying to find all of my faults and flaws within each relationship has been taxing both emotionally and physically, but I needed that introspection to determine what I now know: people grow apart, and it’s not (always) anyone’s fault. It’s time to stop focusing on what I could’ve done better, and refocus on taking care of the relationships I currently have, while occasionally remembering the good times and experiences that came from the old ones. 

I no longer have the energy to chase people down, and I will not beg anyone to keep in touch – family or otherwise. I will no longer wonder how to make you like me more, it’s not my job to please anyone, nor is it OK to try to change myself based on who others want me to be. I am me, and I am enough. I am legitimately happy for everyone, past and present, that is living a happy and fulfilling life. If ever our paths cross again I will greet you warmly, as I always have, but I will no longer wait and wonder. I’m ready to let go of my past to prepare for my future. My future involves focusing on the good, fostering love and mutual respect, and finding a state that I have yet to function in – a state of being content with who I am, and with what I have. 

This is not a new years resolution, it is a promise to myself and to my loved ones that I will make a conscious effort to let go of the things I cannot control, and to look to the future with hope and positivity. It’s time to step out from behind the shadow of my past and allow the light to guide me in a healthy direction. 

I love all of you. You past demons, you present angels. I am a product of everyone and everything I’ve ever loved and cared about. I am grateful for who I have become. I am ready to move forward. 

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For the first time in my life I am choosing not to attend a Remembrance Day service, and I have received a lot of flak because of this decision. I would like now to explain  myself, in the hopes that for those of you who have judged me may understand what I am thinking and feeling. 

I have never missed a service. I have sat with dignitaries, laid wreaths alongside veterans, marched in parades, and cried while holding photos of my loved ones. I have drank with légionnaires, and argued with my husband over wearing his uniform. I have held hands with  strangers, shaken hands with people who served alongside my grandfather, and argued with people who celebrate Christmas before commemorating Remembrance Day. 

Each year I put on the equivalent of my Sunday best, do my makeup, pin poppies on my  daughters, and carry a photo of my husband and my uncle, to the service at the legislative grounds. I have gone in every kind of weather imaginable, and have tried my best to present the façade of the strong, elegant, cornerstone of the military family that is the military spouse. It is exhausting, and this year I am too tired to carry on. 

This year I will sit on the couch with my daughters, and the photos of our loved ones, and we will watch the Ottawa service on tv. If I feel like crying, I will cry. I will hug my babies and we will talk about our loved ones, their daddy, and why this day matters to us above all else. We will talk about all of the mom’s and dad’s of my children’s friends who are currently deployed or away for various reasons, and we will count every one of our blessings, made possible by all of these heroes. I won’t put on makeup, I will not present myself as anything that strangers or friends expect me to be. I will watch the service from the comfort of my home, where I am free to feel and express myself without feeling as though I have to “keep it together” for the sake of those around me. 

After the service, we are going for a walk. Maybe we will go to the park, or perhaps the lagoon. From there we can see where their daddy works when he is alongside, and we will count the days until he is home, together. This year I am not doing this for anyone but my family. For too long I have placed too much importance on  appearances, and trust me, keeping them up on a day like today is more exhausting than running a marathon. 

After a decade of being a military wife, and a lifetime of being a military family member, I think I have earned the right to observe this day in a way that is healthy for both me and my girls. My love has missed countless birthdays, holidays, moments that cannot be recreated – including the birth of one of our daughters. He will spend the next year away from us, and I will be strong while I wipe the tears away from my daughters’ eyes, check their homework, take them to lacrosse, doctors appointments, and read them emails from their daddy. I spend 364 days of the year being strong, today I would like, even if only for a few hours, to let my guard down, and feel what I try to avoid the rest of the year. 

So no, I’m not going to a service today, and if you disagree with my decision, I respect your opinion. I am not a bad wife, I am a tired one. If you don’t agree that I deserve to observe how I choose, I suggest you reread this post, or any of my posts, until you feel empathy for what I have to do to survive. If that doesn’t work, I will politely ask you to mind your own damned business – but I’ll only be polite once. 

Reflective Fragments 

The first time someone called me delusional I was seventeen. The librarian called said that I must be delusional because she was positive that I hadn’t returned a book that I was positive I had. 
The first time I questioned my mental health, truly, I was sixteen, and was largely rebuffed by the professional I confided in. I was lazy, ungrateful, ambitionless, and angsty. Get out of bed, brush your hair, show up to class on time. You’ll feel better. You have so much potential. 
The first time I wanted to die I was fifteen. I had a panic attack over having to tell my mother that I had failed math again. I had myself in such a lather that I began cleaning out my closet, and I had every intention of hanging myself in it with a belt. A pink belt with green stars that I bought at Forever 21, the only souvenir from my school band trip that I could afford. My mother called and asked me to do the dishes before she got home. I missed my window. That feeling of wanting to end would simmer in the recesses of my mind, bubbling over at different times later in life. 

The first love of my life came at fifteen, and has remained my only love. He nurtures the good parts of me, and forgives the bad. I owe him my life. 
The first novel I remember reading was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. My dog was my best friend, and the book helped put my emotions into words. It also destroyed me emotionally for a few weeks after finishing it. Being able to read independently (i was in the third grade) offered a method of escape that would save my life more than once as I got older. 
———————————–

On the foggiest days I can reach out and touch the ragged fabric with which my reality is created. It’s frayed edges like worn burlap glide through my fingers as I struggle to grasp something tangible. As the mist coats the flora in the early morning, so does my fragmented reality coat my mind. My thirst for normalcy never quite sated from such a thin layer of moisture. 

When the wind picks up I am carried into the lives of others. Today I’m a parent volunteering at the school. When the wind changes I am an acquaintance in a tattoo shop, a fraud in a bookstore, a friend via text. I can never commit enough energy or attention to any one person or thing for too long. Lights flash in front of my eyes, I want to entertain all of them but instead cannot focus on even one. 
I feel so many things, yet I am paralysed by the thought of expressing them. Truly feeling them. It would be more apt to say that I think about feelings. If I start allowing myself to feel, I won’t be able to stop. I am an emotional implosion waiting to happen. The only thing I feel is fear. 

Fear of loss. Fear of change. Fear of success. Fear of self confidence. Fear of finding out who I really am. Fear of failure. Fear of faith. 
I couldn’t tell you who I am if I had all of the words in the world. I am a collection of grand ideas, half-truths, fears, and open wounds. The embodiment of an overactive imagination. I am an actual metaphor. Or is it a simile? I could never keep them straight. 

Affairs of the Mind 

With suicide prevention in the news, I thought given my somewhat intimate knowledge of the subject, I would throw my two cents in. While I believe in talking openly about suicide, I do not, necessarily, believe that it can be prevented. In my  experience, if a person is in the mindset that they need to take their own life, they will make that attempt regardless of how many people try to intervene. For those who have attempted to die, many will say that they needed that experience, for many different reasons. 

I will speak only on my own behalf; each person’s experience is as intricate and unique as a snowflake. For me, my attempts on my own life came at various stages. After the murder of a  friend, after attempting to seek help for mental illness was rebuffed as ‘in my head’, after a quiet but tumultuous battle with PTSD, all very different situations that resulted in the same self-loathing, shame, disgust, rage, and confusion. Each attempt I made was in earnest; I didn’t want to survive and receive treatment, I wanted to throw in the towel. Tired of fighting, battle worn, I needed sleep. I needed to sleep. 

No one could’ve prevented what my body was telling me to do. So how, as bystanders, care givers, do we help those afflicted by suicides disease?

Here are my suggestions, based on what I did and didn’t receive during the aftermath of my attempts. 

The person who wakes up from a failed suicide attempt is not the same person who made the attempt. It is naive to think that your loved one will emerge with a new zest for life, ready to take on the world with a new appreciation for all of the sights and sounds that the world has to offer. Shame, anger, regret, frustration, more anger: that is what is felt when you realise that after your best efforts to end the terrors in your life were not successful. The hate that consumes you cannot be abated with get well cards, flowers, or whispered conversations between family and medical staff. You don’t need to understand, but a little bit of empathy can go a long way. 

Make freezer meals. 

Bring books. 

Make horribly inappropriate jokes. 

Stand up against anyone who plans to lecture or belittle the fragile psyche of your almost departed loved one. 

In a shitty situation, Nibs always help make things better. 

In short, be who you’ve always been. No one is made of porcelain (except perhaps Tilda Swinton). Being handled with kid gloves only accentuates the above mentioned feelings of shame, guilt, anger, etc. Yes, things are different, your loved one has changed, but by offering a steady hand you are providing an incredible feeling of unity and support. As survivors we know that nothing about our situation is easy for anyone. We know the fear, the anger, the burning desire to grab us by the shoulders and shake us; we feel these things too – amplified exponentially by the demons inside of us that got us to the point of suicide in the first place. 

I’ve said it before, and I will say it until I’m blue in the face, suicide is a disease. The only cure is death. No matter how many good days we have, suicide is always lurking, waiting for a vulnerable moment to hit us from behind. Remember this:

Suicide. Is. Disease. 

Suicide. Is. Disease. 

Find the balance between constant vigilance and being over bearing. That’s where we need you. Always be on the lookout for ‘signs’, but don’t make us feel guilty. The bomb is ticking, but no one knows when the clock will stop. Remember this:

We love you. 

We aren’t punishing anyone. 

You can’t prevent something that has been preordained. 

Your patience means more than you know. 

We will work on prevention, we need you to work on acceptance. 

Suicide is disease. It cannot always be prevented. Like a cancer it can be aggressive, all consuming. Some strains have cures, some are fatal. In the end, making those afflicted feel normal, valued, unashamed, wanted, needed, those are the things that will make the periods of remission better for all parties involved. 

Death Song

What does suicide sound like?

Suicide is different for every person who attempts it. Unfortunately for the living, we can not ask questions of the dead. We can however, question the survivors. I am a survivor. I have made several attempts on my life, and although I’m not proud of it, I will not shy away from talking about it. My vow of transparency about mental illness has no conditions, and I will not hide the less than glamourous parts.

An attempt on your life starts well before you even acknowledge your want to die consciously. Your thoughts change slowly, the taste of the things that you love gently fade. The retreat into the vast darkness of your mind is generally an even descent, with sadness and desperation compounding hourly. The poison floods your veins like ink in water, and soon, you hear the sounds of suicide.

Everyone’s experience is different, and I encourage who is ready to share their story. Mine continues…

A slight ringing in my ears, just loud enough that I feel irritated. The constant drone of my inner monologue, highlighting every painful event, every negative feeling, running like a nonstop ticker tape behind the rest of my thoughts. It is background noise, but when things go quiet, the sounds become more clear. The music I love becomes muted when I listen to it, the voices of my loved ones sound far away. The monologue gets louder, its hurtful thoughts getting nastier, more aggressive. It whispers to me while I read, while I do the dishes. 

You’re worthless. You’re a burden to your loved ones. You will never get your life together. Everyone is tired of you being sick. If you love them, you’ll leave. 

 After weeks, months, years, of the sybiote wearing you down, there is no longer any light to fight it with. The fire in your soul is now ashes, ashes that make it hard to breathe, hard to see. As you try to fight your way through the cloud of ashes the demons within blow it in your face, and your soul is scattered into pieces that you think can never be put back togeher. This is when the biggest change happens: you believe your monstrous ticker tape. The fog clears for the first time in ages, and you are thinking more clearly than ever before. I AM a burden. My loved ones deserve better. This is the ultimate sacrifice I can make for them. Free them from the shackles I have placed them in. 

The ringing in your ears stops, you can no longer hear your own heartbeat. You are finally filled with the calm that you have been craving. 

What does surviving sound like?

Waking up is knives in your head, sirens blaring in surround sound. Metallic ringing so loud you feel nauseous. Then the yelling starts. That inner monologue is angry, and it takes no prisoners. It screams at you, over everything else that you’re hearing at full volume. YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE FAILURE. YOU DON’T DESERVE TO STILL BE ALIVE. YOU CAN’T EVEN DIE PROPERLY, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO LIVE? 

You drift in and out of consciousness while the medication being pushed through your veins starts to work. The volume inside decreases, and if you’re lucky, a tiny fire is lit in the brassiere. The anger subsides, and you promise yourself that you will do better. You feel ashamed and embarrased, but the fire warming you convinces you that you will survive, and thrive. That hideous ticker tape retreats back into the dark annals of your subconscious, but it takes those angry, bitter, ashamed, thoughts with it to save for a rainy day. 

You apologise profusely to your loved ones, you promise your numerous doctors that it won’t happen again; but you know deep down somewhere inside of you that suicide is a disease, and the only cure is death. It becomes dormant, you smell flowers and love and giggle with friends, but it’s always there, ready to spread through you when the timing is right. Thats when you hear the ringing in your ears…
Remember why your life is worth living. Bottle happiness, listen to every song that you love until you can sing every part, including the bass guitar. Accept and be thankful for complements, and give them back tenfold. Look your loved ones in the eyes when you tell them you love them. Eat cake. Sleep in. Feel sand in your toes. Walk barefoot when possible, and store all of these beautiful thoughts and feelings away so that when the ticker tape starts, you have a fighting chance.

Olive Me

I am enough.

I won’t change, maybe I can – but I won’t; and no one should expect me to. There are a lot of things about me that can be frustrating, confusing, downright maddening, but those things are all pieces of who I am. You are also made up of myriad things, and maybe some of those things are harder to deal with than others; but I have chosen to. 

l love you, so it’s settled. You are enough.

I’m not a peaceful person. I’m  temperamental, angry, linear, intelligent, obnoxious, and I swear too much; but I am enough. If I were to lose you after having loved you so long I would never love anything again; my soul would curdle like milk. You are enough for me. Slit my throat and kick sand in my face; you will always be the only enough I need. 

There are a handful of people who love me for me, and if you cease to be one of them, everyone else will count for nothing. You are the good inside of me – you are the reason that I am OK with just being enough. I don’t seek validation from anyone else. I’m an abandoned, dark-haired gypsy and you are my Catherine. That’s all there is  to it. Together, we are enough.

I will be in your corner until the day I die. After I die, I will come back as a ghost and haunt your corner. There is no getting rid of me, we are bonded for life; and nothing on my end can ever change that.

You are the only person I haven’t given birth to whom I love unconditionally. Truly. unabashedly. You have loved me through the times in which I am not capable of loving myself. You save me from poor decisions, from over doses, from violence, from  dark alleys, and poorly tied ropes around my neck. I owe you a life-debt. I will protect you always.

You and me kiddo, this is it. I’m soppy over you, and I truly hope that i am, in fact, enough.

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: 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