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.

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Loved and Lost

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this blog post today or not. It is not cheery, and I am not sure what message of hope can be found within it. At the very least perhaps it will serve as an example of the hardships people with mental illness and their families face.

My daughter and I left my fiance standing out front of the house we shared on September 30, 2012. He was very unwell, and honestly I was desperate to get away from him. There was a moment of clarity where like the sun parting the clouds, he was with us again and we three stood out front in a family embrace, saying our heart felt good byes, and other words that go a long with recognizing the moments of intolerable cruelty in life and how helpless you can be to do anything about them. We cried, and we consoled and as always, it was clear that in spite of everything, love was still with us. It was also bitterly clear love was not enough to change or alter our course. He had chosen to stay and we had chosen to go.

At the time I thought it was one of the most difficult things I had to do, but what proved even more difficult was turning him away from my door the following year and putting him into the arms of the law. I was talking to the psychiatrists in the background, and the police, and I was writing statements and calling on his family to help. He was homeless and in trouble.

I knew that walking away meant a world of trouble for Jon and it is that piece that I cannot reconcile with. But at the time I really felt I had no more options. I was very sick and wouldn’t know until a few months later that I had cancer. We were facing losing the very roof over our heads, and Jons behaviour had become so erratic I just didn’t know how to cope with it anymore. In truth I had stayed longer than I should have because I feared what would happen if I left.

Jon was no longer living but rather he was just barely keeping himself alive for his family. For a time his only motivation had been his alcohol but even that couldn’t drown out the demons anymore. He was an amazing man. A brilliant man, and a self taught mason whose work compared to master masons twice his age with years of experience and training. He was witty, and charming, and one of the most loving, caring people I have ever known. But his addiction and illness caused him to do things so completely out of character and so far removed from who he was as a person that when he had moments of wellness he could not live it down and so would start the cycle again.

For my part I had lost my ability to have compassion for him anymore. I had begun to take things personally and I was unbelievably angry. What Jon would not do I would do for him and I was resenting him for it instead of taking responsibility for my own choices. I was making decisions in his life that were not mine to make, and I was ignoring his right to live his life as he saw fit. So determined was I that we would have our life back and be a happy family again, that I would do almost anything to make that a reality, no matter how miserable it made us.

My lovely was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when he was in his 30’s but the illness itself had begun to manifest when he was 19. Over the years his suffering increased, the episodes became more frequent, and so too increased his need to drink. He did not drink everyday, but would rather binge drink on the weekends after stuffing his urges down all week.

Despite what people might think, Jon was fully capable of having a normal life, and many times he did. He would get up and go to work, sometimes working full time for others, and at other times for himself. He kept house, and his family. He was the king of the coffee machine and he could make a mean potato salad. The neighbours loved him and would often stop to chat with him when he would be out walking the dogs or running up to the store. He was the type of fellow who would offer the shirt off of his back for family or friends who needed help and would often stop to assist complete strangers on the street. He was generous with his money, his time, and his love. He always forgave and never judged. He was quite simply a beautiful man.

I  had always held onto hope that there would be a Jon and Cindy Part Deux, but sadly that was not meant to be.

Jon is no longer with us. He passed away in January of 2014 the circumstances of which were somewhat unclear but eventually ruled an accident. In my opinion it does not matter whether or not Jon lifted his own hand and ended his life that night, or by the choices he had made over many nights in the years leading up to his death. He had ended his life and the world had stood back and watched him. I think it would be unfair to Jon to say that the sole reason he is no longer with us is because of the choices that he made however. No. The world abandoned Jon. The systems failed him. His family and friends turned their backs on him, justified or not, this was his reality. He spent almost two years in a homeless shelter and had only been in his apartment for less than a week when he passed away. There were professionals involved with him when he passed away, and by that I mean a psychiatrist and a probation officer. Finally after years of trying to get a psychiatrist someone finally saw fit to take him on as a patient.

I try not to feel bitter and angry but to me it was mostly too little too late. I often felt very alone in trying to help Jon restore his wellness. I had been with him countless times when he reached out for help, when he was turned away, or the services were either non existent or terribly inadequate. People do not realize how much stigma can get in the way of treatment but it does. People also do not realize how lacking services are for men, especially men who are seeking treatment for trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) which Jon also had. It is heinous that a woman can seek and receive counselling for free but a man seeking help for the same issues must pay regardless of means. It is a sorry state of affairs that a man with such a severe illness would be denied psychiatric services because he had been drinking, or because he was homeless because the hospital is “not a hotel”. It is unforgivable that a man with problems of this magnitude, who reached out time and time again, would only be taken seriously and provided help once he had become in trouble with the law. Sadly this is the cold reality for many of our men out there.

My hope is that Jon will be remembered as the beautiful man that he was and that people recognize how unjust things were for him. Jon is gone but there are many men still out there. Please do not turn a blind eye to their plight. They deserve more.

This is Jon. He would have been 35 today, August 24, 2014. He was loved and he was lost.

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This is the message I would have liked Jon to hear. Perhaps it can reach other men instead.

Mentally Me – C/P

Of Depression

Dear Reader – This poem does not reflect how I am feeling today but rather another time when I was feeling so depressed I was suicidal. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal please call 911 without hesitation. You can come back from black!

Of Depression

I had believed myself victorious. But at night a tap on the window of my mind. Distracting at first and then demanding. The days at first glorious now grow tirelessly long. The sun too bright.

I tried, feign, oh how I tried. To be a part of your world. To belong to it. I laughed, I cried. I made jokes. I took buses to your pretty buildings and looked up. I walked barefoot in your green grass. I sampled your food and smiled at your people.

I did rise up but only so that I could fall. The world assaulted my senses. Too intense, too loud, too fast, too harsh.

I had taken up the sword time and time again, but now it lay rusting by the door. Even if useable I had no will to pick it up, my muscles having grown slack.

Alas I felt lost and at odds. I didn’t understand my reactions, and wondered if I was unwell. Happiness was an ill fitting shirt, always awkward, always askew, always needing adjustment. Something I couldn’t wait to take off. It was foreign.

Withdrawal is easy. I am already hidden. Having constructed my world so that nobody knows where I am or what I am doing but they all think I am somewhere, doing something. Important.

I don’t believe I ever fully lost sight of her, my black Goddess. Once I thought her lost but soon realized she had never left my side, and it was only because I had turned my head. She had merely lain in tempered silence awaiting my return, her teeth and eyes gleaming when I looked upon her. Her ability to predict me unmatched by any other I had encountered. It is strange to be known so well by such a creature, since her continued presence surely means my demise, yet I imagine it is akin to love.

Rising up from the darkness she beckons me come to her side, to nestle in her bosom, to suckle her pale teat and swallow the poison. Drink it down, and fill me into my boots. She whispers to me, a familiar lull. Not aloud, yet somewhere in the depths of my mind, and I hear her. And when I pay her mind it becomes a deafening roar.

Her embrace is suffocating, consuming, intoxicating. I lie on a slab and use her frock as a blanket, her hair as a pillow. I am so very weary. Perhaps she grows tired of this torturous dance also. Maybe this time she will put the dagger in me, and finish us off.

Only time holds answers. But for now I am compelled to close my eyes and dream of dark things in a funerary world and hope to awake to silence.

I am not afraid of this dark abyss in which she dwells because I have been here before. I have lived here with her for decades.

You see she is me, and I am home.

Mentally Me – C/P