The downside of happiness 

On December 1st, our eleventh anniversary, my husband and I finally got married, surrounded by friends and family. The day was everything we wanted, and was a beautiful recognition and celebration of how far we have come together. 

In the months leading up to the wedding I was in peak condition. Big Daddy was sailing, and I was planning. I made a lot of things myself, including decorations, the bridal party’s shoes, the cake, the ring box. I worked alongside the caterer to create the perfect menu, helped the commisioner create a ceremony that best reflected our personalities, booked hair and makeup appointments, made all of the wedding favours. I felt a sense of purpose that I don’t feel very often. I was creating something, and it felt good to be the driving force behind something that meant so much to me. 

 The day was a huge success, and it meant so much to us that so many people put in the effort to be with us. 

   
 My bouquet 
   
 Our cake
  Mashed potato bar!!

  One of the favours 

  Ring box

   
  
  Happiness 

———————————

With all of the excitement over and all of our guests gone, I am at a loss for what to do with myself. I was so busy with wedding prep that I couldn’t feel the sting of my depression in the background. It never left me, but waited patiently in the shadows for the perfect time to re-envelop me once again in its cold cloak. I wasn’t expecting it for once. I was legitimately very happy, and proud of what I was accomplishing. The weight of depression has crushed me. I can’t stay awake, I’m cold, my head hurts. I have so much to do in my every day life, but lack the energy and the focus to complete anything. I have gained 10 pounds from irregular eating and poor food choices. I’ve picked my face and arms raw. My brain and my body are no longer lining up, like a poorly dubbed kung fu movie. I watch my life happening around me, but cannot participate. I can see that I am no longer thriving, and the judgement from my mind increases, and the cycle repeats. I don’t want to be an illness, but if not that, what am I? 

I literally cannot focus enough to finish this post. 

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The Maker Makes

I have three daughters, aged 7, 4, and 10 months. As my beautiful ladies grow older and develop their own interests and personalities, I find that I’m discovering parts of myself in them. My biggest fear for them is that I will pass my poisons onto them, and not recognise that I’ve done it. 

When I was a child and even a teenager, not many people subscribed to the idea of childhood depression. Many people, my mother and father included, believed that the brain wasn’t capable of mental illness until after the age of 18, and also that “teenage angst” was a choice – not a symptom of mental stress. 

After discussing my youth in-depth with my psychiatrist and councillor, we mutually determined that I have been suffering from anxiety since childhood, major depressive disorder since my mid to late teens, and bipolar disorder stemming from around the same time. Looking back at those times in my life I can quite clearly see the signs and symptoms, which of course, seem obvious in retrospect. 

Now, as a mother in this new mental illness enlightened age, I worry for my girls- my eldest especially. Certified gifted, I was told that I may experience behavioural problems with her, and was giving a few books about “coping” with the gifted child. My amazing, hilarious, friendly, little L has trouble getting out of bed, especially if her dad is sailing. Prone to fits of rage, sometimes physically attacking me, sometimes not being able to eat. Happiness countered immediately with sadness, coupled with anger and obsession. 

It’s hard to deal with. 

I have my own emotional shitstorm to battle with every day, sometimes trying to deal with her is too much for me. I check out, lock myself in my head, and hope that the kids will engage autopilot before I crash the plane. But they deserve better. L needs my compassion, my understanding, my experience, but most days I’m just too tired to give it to her. We do battle on a daily basis. It’s hard on all of us. No matter what, I always try to validate her feelings. She is entitled to feel. Whether I agree with her or not, she gets to tell/yell her thoughts to me. I don’t know if it helps or hurts, but at this point I feel like she’s constantly on the cusp of exploding, but it seems like the yelling and stomping keeps her from diving over the edge  

I’ve read the books, the blogs, the listicles, the forums, and the truth is: I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing when it comes to my girls’ mental health. I have no clue. I barely have a grip on my own mental health, how am I supposed to be responsible for that of these precious beings? I’m terrified daily that I’m causing permanent emotional damage, or passing on my mental instabilities (or both). On the other hand, I don’t want to see symptoms in them that aren’t there. We all know what tricks the mind can play to spike our anxiety and send us spiralling. For now I’ll keep reading, keep fighting, keep cuddling, keep trying, keep failing. I owe them my best, even if some days my best is merely existing through the day. 

I need so desperately to protect them, but I can’t save them from themselves. Or, maybe I can. I wish someone had tried to save me.  

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