What you don’t Know.

Here is a rant I stumbled upon that I wrote some time ago but never felt safe enough to actually publish. It is a rant coming from a place of pure frustration in trying to navigate this world as a depressed person. I couldn’t say when I originally wrote it because I had already hit edit before I checked, but I can see that there are 25 revisions on it, which is a testament to the subject matter. Today, I just finished a sentence and then added the last two. I am grateful that I am not feeling like this today, but recognize the sentiments as ones I have felt time and again. I publish this now with angst about how it will be received, but I hope it will serve as an insight into the inner workings of someone who is experiencing a depressive episode and that it will garner further understanding into the madness that lay within (at least me), and perhaps it will also help someone else out there who knows the struggle feel less alone today.

Merci.

I don’t want to be disabled. I don’t want to tell people that I can’t get through a day. I don’t want people to know exactly how bad it really is. Sometimes I hate the life I’ve created. I don’t know how to problem solve anymore or how to fix it most days. And on the days I do I write down greats lists, and then I lose them, or I forget them. I don’t want to be one of those people that by my own terms isn’t “normal.” I don’t want to depend on people, not for stuff like this. I don’t want to have this damn illness. I don’t want to feel like I don’t have control over my mood, my emotions, my mind, my thoughts, or my energy. I don’t want to feel like I have to monitor myself all the time and be extra careful. And I’m sick to death of always doubting myself and second guessing myself. I don’t want to not trust myself but at the same time I don’t know if I can. It’s so incredibly hard not to trust your own judgement, especially when you need to be able to do that to get better. I just want to have a meal or a drink without worrying that it may have an adverse or undesirable effect – I mean a cup of coffee shouldn’t be something I need to put that much thought into. I don’t like watching how my relationships have become strained or damaged. I don’t like feeling dysfunctional. I hate remembering the person I was some days, because it such a stark contrast from how I am today. I hate that nobody knows how bad I really feel about myself. I walk around every day feeling so ashamed when I can’t do the things that other people think I should be doing, but also I have news for you, I think I should be doing them too, and I’m super frustrated that I can’t. And I feel like such a failure. I also hate how afraid I am to share anything with anyone. I’m so afraid of what people will say, the look on their face, how I will cope with their absence if they go away, their well meaning but ignorant suggestions to get better. In truth I am afraid of everything now. And I hate that. I used to be fearless. I don’t like not being able to remember things I did twenty minutes ago, or not knowing what the day of the week is, and yet being able to remember things that happened twenty years ago like it’s right now. I don’t like the changes that have happened to my body, to my skin, my hair, my teeth, my ability to move. I hate the word neurotic and I don’t think it’s a nice thing to say about people. I wish that when I stepped out my door people could see that I am actually sick and that they would be okay with that. I wish that when people found out about my illness that they would accept it for what it is and not look at me in a way that suggests it’s my fault or the result of some kind of inherent defect in my makeup. I wish that people wouldn’t start talking to me like my IQ just dropped by 50 points because I say the word mental before illness. I wish there were more organizations out there that really knew what people like myself need or were at least willing to listen. I wish people understood that medication doesn’t always work for everyone, it isn’t as simple as popping a magic pill, sometimes it takes a really long time, and even when it works it’s not enough. People need more support then that. I would like to see people truly grasp the struggle and rally behind us. Besides, if all I had to do was take a little pill to resume life as I want it, don’t you think I would do it? In a heartbeat, yes.

If Life had a Handbook;

It might read like this…for those of us who just seem to get hung up on the details…

You will disappoint people.
You are going to let people down.
You’re not going to be there for someone at a time when they really need you.
You are going to fail at things, maybe even a lot of things.
You are going to have very valid reasons why these things happened, or why you behaved the way you did, and it won’t matter. It won’t matter to anyone else, and it won’t matter to you. Everyone will have tunnel vision.
People are going to get angry with you. Some people may even stay angry for a really long time, or even forever.
You’re going to feel paralyzed by fear.
You will be so confused you will not know what to do.
You are going to disappoint yourself.
You will have a hard time looking in a mirror.
You are going to feel grossly inadequate in absolutely every way.
You’re going to feel ashamed and guilty.
You’re going to have a really hard time having a conversation with someone.
You will lose a friend, or two, or more in your lifetime.
You’re also going to be very disappointed, and feel let down.
You’re going to feel wronged, and betrayed.
You will cry in front of someone and it will seem like they do not care.
Someone will treat you with cold indifference regarding a problem you’re having.
People will see the injustice, and tell you it’s not fair, it’s not true, it’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t deserve it. You will not believe them.
And it will not change a thing.
There will be people you desperately want in your life who will choose to walk away and you will feel abandoned and rejected and wounded and deeply flawed and unlovable.
You will feel so, so lonely, and alone at times.
You will feel so much pain, and inner turmoil and anguish.
You will think that nobody understands you, or what you’re going through.
But they do.
You are going to feel a fiery anger burning deep inside of you and you are going to lose your temper, maybe once, maybe twice, maybe many, many times.
You are going to do and say things that you will come to regret.
There will be things you can’t even imagine forgiving yourself for.
But you will.
You will have days when you feel wrung out and spent, and like you just don’t have it in you to go on for another second.
You’re going to think it’s pointless.
You will question your choices and your sanity. Repeatedly.
You will wonder why or how you got yourself into this and worry that you won’t be able to get yourself out of it.
But you will. You may need help. But you will. It may take time, maybe even longer that you want it to, BUT you will.
You will want to run away. You will want to hide. You might even do it. Repeatedly.
There will be times when you will just want to give up. And you will.
You will not feel like trying again.
You will choose to walk away.
You refuse to try again.
You will decide that you want things to be different.
You will try again, but with a twist.
There will be times when you will have no choice but to give up, and walk away, and you will know that you can’t try again. Something has come to an end.
Things are not always going to be okay, or going well.
You are not always going to be okay.
It’s okay to be sick, it’s okay to be giving less than 110%.
It’s okay to have times where you give no %.
It’s okay to not give a shit.
It’s okay to not want to do something, and it’s hella’ okay to say no.
It’s also very okay to say yes.
This is normal. It’s life. It’s part of the way we experience life as humans. It’s inevitable. You cannot change this anymore than I can change the number of species of spiders on this damn planet, much as I would like to.
But you can change your focus.
Take a breath.
Recognize that sometimes your perception can get skewed, that you can get caught up in it, and that your expectations can get out of whack with reality.
Reality is also all of the good things.
Birds that sing. Climbable trees. A lake and all the fish that swim in it. Mountains. The moon, the stars. Writing. Creating. The smell of pine, peppermint, or sandalwood. Swings. Campfires. Love. This reality is also life, and the possibilities are endless.
You don’t have to do anything to earn this life.
If the universe saw fit to bring you fourth then there is no need to argue.
Go and take up the space that is rightfully yours and just be.
No apologies.
No debts owed.
No strings attached.
You are so hard on yourself…..
You do have to kick your own ass and pat your own back most of the time and it sucks but you also have to ask for help when you need it…you have to stand up for yourself and tell people what you need, what you like, what you do or don’t want, what you will tolerate, and toughest of all, tell them how you feel….how you really feel….
BUT…
You do not have to do everything.
You can take your time. Take all the time you need.
You are allowed to screw up and make bad choices. Own them. Deal with them. Then leave them behind. Move on. Even if others will not.
And let other people own and deal with theirs.
You do not have to fix everything.
You are not responsible for everything.
It’s not always about right or wrong. Sometimes it’s more about do you want to go left or right? Up or down? It’s about if you want to stay turn to page 78…if you want to eat ice cream turn to page…
You don’t have to have all the answers or know how things are going to turn out. You just have to be willing to flip that page. Especially when you’re the author.
You do not have to tarnish your glow so someone else’s seems brighter.
You do not need to stifle yourself so someone else can appear to be growing.
There is no need to make yourself small so someone else can look big.
You do not have to be weak so someone else can prove they are strong.
You do not have to lose your voice in order for someone else to find or use theirs.
Do you see that’s okay for you to be happy? Even if other people are not? Even if those people are people you love and care about?
It is.
Things are not always going to be fair or just.
Things are not always going to be equal, and they don’t have to be.
It’s also okay for you to be sad, and angry, and excited, and let yourself feel and express all of it, and any other emotion you feel. Even when others don’t feel the same way.
Even if it makes them uncomfortable.
It’s okay if the pendulum swings your way once in awhile.
It’s okay to accept, and embrace good things happening in your life, even if they aren’t happening for other people.
It’s okay to be okay.
Yes, again, even when others are not.
Remember – You only have one life to live.
That doesn’t mean you only have one shot to get it right.
It means you only have one shot to live it.
So live.

 

 

Two men, a crow and a seagull. (Hey Trudeau read this.)

Yesterday while my daughter and I were waiting for a bus we were delighted by a crow who had found himself a prize in a nearby garbage can. A discarded KFC bag. We laughed at how he poked holes in the bag, and marvelled at his skills to pry the contents from within.

My attention was drawn by the sound of a honking car and I turned to see a man so focused on getting across the street he was oblivious to the oncoming traffic and was narrowly being missed. I assumed he was running to catch a bus to the ferry as he was carrying a blue duffle bag. Why else would he put himself in such peril? As the man approached the sidewalk the crow flew away and I thought to myself silly bird, he doesn’t want your garbage.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My daughter and I and the crow stood and watched as the man began digging through the same KFC bag the crow had been rummaging through just a few moments ago. He began eating the scraps and making an equally big mess as the crow had been but for entirely different reasons. It was obvious he was ravenously hungry.

To look at this man one would never have guessed that he was that poor, and that the blue duffle bag he was carrying likely held all of his worldly possessions. I didn’t have any money to offer him. All my daughter and I could do was turn sideways in an attempt to offer him some dignity and eat his meager meal in privacy, after which he went back to the other side of the street.

We then watched as a seagull and the same crow began scavenging through the KFC bag picking up the remaining bits of fries, and flying off with the remaining bits of bun. No more delighted by the sight but acutely aware of the stark reality of life in this moment.

But the story did not end there. As we waited to board our bus a man with a large hiking back pack disembarked and as we made our way to the back of the bus to sit I could see him stop by the garbage can and put his bag down. I again naively assumed it was so he could adjust himself and put it on his back before carrying on.

Wrong again.

Didn’t this man pick up the very same KFC bag to examine its contents, and after eating a bite or two I guess he found it lacking and moved on to a Starbucks cup that seemed to have a bit of smoothie left in it. He then took several big sips of what remained and ran to get back on the bus using a day pass. A few blocks later he disembarked again in front of another plaza full of restaurants.

So many things struck me about this situation.

First these men, these fellow human beings were literally reduced to competing with other animals for enough food to stay alive. Such would be the case for all of us should some great catastrophic event take place, and this was likely the case many, many years ago for most of our ancestors. Neither of these men looked like they fit the stereotypic definition of “homeless” men. They were not dirty, they were not inebriated, and they certainly did not seem to be behaving erratically or mentally ill. In fact had they not been digging in the garbage I never would have known of their predicaments.

Neither was looking for alcohol or drugs, or cigarettes, and neither was asking for handouts. They were simply looking for food.

I wondered if the man with the day pass had gathered $5 and instead of buying food chose to buy a day pass so he could scrounge as many garbage cans as he could for the day.

I felt guilty. I had just left a restaurant with my daughter because I didn’t want to go grocery shopping hungry, yet these men truly knew what hunger was.

I also felt scared because it brought to mind the precariousness of the current situations that so many of us find ourselves in. Even my own.

The frequent cold hard reality of being born poor in Canada is that you can stay poor, and die poor. You have the illusion of equal opportunity, and a better life. There is nothing inherently wrong with being poor. But it does preclude you from alot of opportunities in life, and living a quality life. It does isolate, and it does stigmatize. It does lead to health problems. Many go out and work hard to obtain a better life, and sometimes move from lower to middle class, but very rarely upper. Maybe they are able to maintain it, but often things happen and they get knocked back into lower class, despite their best efforts, very, very hard work, and trying over and over again to get ahead.

Mostly watching these two men left me feeling helpless. A little more disillusioned then I already was. And really, really angry.

This is Canada for crepes sake. What happened to good governance? Where are all the social programs that are supposed to make sure everyone has their basic needs met? Last I checked food is a basic need. So is shelter. I guess I am supposed to take solace in the fact that I live in one of the richest cities in Canada so people can afford to discard garbage enough to sustain two men, a crow and a seagull.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am sickened by it. And I am sickened by the ignorance, judgement and lack of empathy other so called “polite” Canadians possess about people who are struggling like these two men.

Maybe somewhere along the line these two men got tired of trying again, and again. Maybe they couldn’t because something prevented them from doing it. Maybe their Government failed them from the day they were born.

Or maybe, just maybe, this time they just chose to pay their rent instead.

At the end of the day two men, a crow and a seagull were all trying to eat the same remnants of someone else’s discarded meal. That’s ugly. Nothing can change that moment. But there are many more moments to come – and maybe we can change those moments.

I’ll leave you with my favorite expression. Many drops make an ocean.

And here I sit…

…alone in a room…nothing but the sound of the drip, drip from last nights rain outside my window….sometimes maddening…demanding that I march, pick up my pace, run with it.  But I am not like the remnants of last nights rain, for surely it is harried because it’s own end is in sight…whether the sun comes out or not it will be gone by days end…and so there is an urgent need for it to be seen and heard one last time lest it be forgotten.

I understand. I too have lived in the shadow of this fear. Once I am gone from here who will remember me. Who will recall the way my voice sounded, or the way I carried myself. Will I have had an impact, and was it good. Will I have made a difference. I very clearly remember the day I said when I die I don’t want the only mark I leave behind to be on a tombstone. It was born out of a great desire to do good, and a faith in self that I was just coming to know. In honesty, however it was mostly born out of the unshakeable fear of being forgotten.

Every year it seems I start down a new path of discovery, as if there is a theme running through my life. There are years that have been more difficult than others, like when I was dealing with old wounds. It’s amazing how we can be so unwittingly enthralled by echoes. Then there were years that had me feeling on top, years of growth and rebirth, years of testing the limits of strength, years of conquering. Last year was one of those years for me, and I am grateful because so far this year is quite different.

This year the theme seems to be ugliness. Not the ugliness of the world, but the ugliness of self. I have always believed that most people are born with equal measures of good and bad in them. Always stood by the notion that each of us capable of great things and heinous things alike, and that our direction, the shift of the scales toward good or bad, usually comes down to two things, choice foremost, and then opportunity.

But I have stared that beast down before. This is a different beast.

The one that lives inside of me. My Beast. Full of all the things I do not like about myself. The real things. Not the things we all like to get caught up with, or distract ourselves with, the things we either have no control over, like our hair colour, or the things we secretly hope someone else will chide in on and tisk tisk away. No I am talking about the real ugly. The deep rooted character flaws. The things we would never admit to someone else. The things that despite our best efforts are inherently are a part of our make up, or more precisely they are who we are.

This is one ugly beast…

…and I have been struggling a great deal with it. I have been trying to hold back the ocean by using the blackened sky as proof the moon was never there – in other words I have been fighting a losing battle, attempting the impossible.

I have discovered that the reason for dancing with this beast is not so that I can change her but merely so that I may know her.

Acceptance in its purest form. Acceptance not of the beast, but of myself.  And in doing so I can learn more of myself. Like I suspect the reason I don’t want to be forgotten when I’m gone is because I desire greatness, to be admired, not by a few, but by many. Vanity.

So I am learning to embrace this beast, in spite of myself. And so doing I am also learning to embrace myself. My whole self.

After all, how can I know, and love myself, if half of me remains hidden, even to my own eyes?

How could I stand tall? What pride is to be had in owning the garden but never having planted the seeds?

How can I be vulnerable? What risk is there in revealing that which is already seen?

And in fairness how could I ask someone to love me,  if I cannot say with great conviction…this is my Beauty, AND this is my Beast.

…know thyself….still some of the worlds most powerfully written words.

C/P