Posted in Depression, Memoir, mental health, Musings

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

“Nothing happens unless first we dream”
– Carl Sandburg

When I was younger, I used to think that dreams were a way that we could replay a choice. We could enter a dream and choose another option. Like a looking glass, you could go to another one of your lifelines and see how an event transpired. It was a way of realizing that there was always something better. At least, when I was a child.

As I grew up, I slowly found out that we could only make one choice. We would have to live with that choice whether it was good or bad. There was no second life in our dreams. There was no place where we could go to know that there was something better. Both mere illusions of a child who longed to be happy. That wanted something better. The one choice we made would affect us for the rest of our life.

Every choice has the potential to haunt us. They’re like memories. We look back on them and wonder, what if? What if we made a change? What if we chose differently? What would happen? Then, within seconds we forget. Many of us continue on with our lives without thinking of our past. We don’t dwell on choices we made because we know there will be new ones to make. There will always be another choice, every moment, every second of our life.

I know this, and yet I still find myself going over choices that I have made. I replay them in my mind. Over and over again as if they are movies. Thinking that if I just changed one thing, made one different choice that my life would be better. I have done this since my mid-twenties. My counsellor would say that it’s a way that I mentally inflict self-harm. That I replay my life through worry and regret. That it’s a form of punishment that I don’t live my life.

For a week now I have had nightmares. They started before my last counsellor visit. The Saturday night before Halloween, I dreamt about inflicting self-harm. For nights afterwards I replayed choices in my mind. Bullying, A woman that I liked two years ago. My own self depreciation. Most nights I would wake up yelling. Cold. Unloved.

See I know that we can’t go back and undo the choices we made. It hasn’t stopped me from trying. Part of my problem is that I can’t seem to let go. That part will always come back to haunt and hurt me. No matter how much I know better.

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

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Posted in anxiety, Depression, mental health, Musings

Why?

I’ve been thinking about why I tried to kill myself last November, trying to understand everyone’s anger, misjudgments, and emotions. Those pass in time, but it was their looks that never did. The one’s that made me feel like I was damaged.

One thing that counselling teachers is you is personal responsibility. That your actions are things that you can control, what other people think about you and what they say about you is something that you can’t. We’re supposed to look at the things we can control and change them if they are negative, forget about the things that we can’t.

I have a damn good counsellor, something rare for those who seek help. In the past six months I have started to learn how to take responsibility for my actions. For the decisions that I made in the past and the decisions I will continue to make. Responsibility was something that was missing from my life. Masks were more common. Masking my problems with other things like food and pain instead of focusing on the real issues. My real issues.

Masks only last so long until time catches up with you. Inflicting self-harm made me feel good for a little while, then I masked it with food. Food made me good for a little while, then I gained weight. Gaining weight made me feel worse and I started to spend my money on things I never needed. Problems would get better for a little while, then I would begin to feel worse renewing the cycle. Everything would repeat. I never took care of issues, as my counsellor said I waited until I bottled everything up and then it popped.

Since November I’ve been asked by friends, family, my doctor and counsellor one question, why? My entire life I knew how to act “okay” even when I wasn’t. Things had been bad for a couple of years. Within 2014 to 2015 they slowly went downhill. The world is full of problems, nobody needed to know about mine.

I hid from people that I felt alone, like a failure, that I had nothing to offer to the world. You live long enough with these ideas in your head they begin to become real. I kept these things inside since I graduated from Vancouver Island University in 2011. Masked them with meaningless jobs that I was good at but never felt I was a part of. I worked on leadership, found I was good at it, and in the end hated it. I drove friends and family away.

I ended up at a beach at the end of November where I gave up. That’s where I began to change my life.

 

Posted in anxiety, Depression, Musings, Reflection

Alone

I’ve been doing okay for the most part, better than the past couple of months. I’ve been walking, going out on my own, and trying to feel comfortable with other people around me. As a friend said a couple of weeks ago I am different than the person I was back in January, or when I tried to kill myself last November. The only question that I have is why do I feel so alone?

hank moodyI have had a love hate relationship with the city that I live in. That’s partially my fault, having lived here off and on for that past six years, I have never really given this place a chance. It’s also partially this city’s fault. This valley is devoid of the stuff that I want to do: arts, culture, going out to the theatre to catch a play, or to a coffee shop to write for an hour or two.

It doesn’t matter how many kilometres I walk, or that I’ve felt comfortable enough to leave my house. I still feel unwanted in this town, like a shadow. I have had this feeling that I am still the outsider after six years of living here. This place is beginning to remind me of my childhood, and anyone who has read this blog knows that I don’t like being reminded of my childhood. It feels like a jail cell, where I’m trapped and there’s no way out.

Maybe I am being too hard on myself. Maybe it’s my depression or social anxiety that is talking. I do know that when I was growing up in Sidney I felt the same way as I do living in Comox. In Sidney I tried to desperately to move to a larger city, somewhere like New York, hell Vancouver with its high cost rent would have been nice. I held a romanticized view of being able to do a new thing to do every day, rather than go down to the pier, watch boats, go home, and do the same thing the next day.

charlie brownThe feeling isn’t helped by having social anxiety. Friendships are hard to handle, you ask someone if they want to do something, make a plan then nothing happens. A normal person would blow if off as just being busy, a person with anxiety would think “I did something” and they would repeat it over and over again. Here I’ll give you an example:

  • I ask a person if they want to go for coffee
  • We make plans to go for coffee
  • Then I never hear back from them when we’re supposed to go for coffee

A normal person would think, hmm, we’re both busy, maybe I should text them. This is what I think:

  • Omg if I text them I worry that I’m pushing them and I won’t go for coffee

Or if it’s a girl:

  • Omg if I text them they’ll think I’m stalking them; they’ll never want to hear from me again

Which is why I stopped making plans until last month with friends. Tried to make plans, and nothing happened. Social Anxiety set in and I stopped again. I hate feeling alone.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, mental health, pop culture

Watch Mr. Robot if You Want to Know What Living with Anxiety and Depression is Like

It’s rare that I look forward to something, but the season premier of Mr. Robot is tonight, in an hour. As much as it is about hacking, and the darkness that we face in the world, for me it was about the main character, Elliot, and his battle with mental health.

elliotRami Malek does an amazing portrayal of a person who suffers from Social Anxiety and Depression. I can say this because throughout much of my twenties and even into my thirties I lived like Elliot. I went through the motions of life without living. I Kept to myself. I was afraid of those around me and leaving my house. Two weeks ago a friend said that I live a lot in my head, she’s right. For me it is easier to live in my head than to live in reality.

Mr. Robot draws a realistic line between reality and art. For much of my life, when I leave my home, I wear a hoodie, like Elliot does, drawn over a hat on my head, and headphones in my ears blaring loud music. I distance myself. We’ve talked a lot about me pushing other people away, what people don’t know is why. I push away because I’m scared of people hurting me as much as I am scared of hurting other people.

I like the sadness that you see portrayed in the character as well. You can see it in how Elliot interacts with his world, work, friends, and life. How he tries to mask his depression and anxiety with drugs, and hacking into other people’s lives. Most of us suffering from Mental Health do the same thing, in my twenties it was alcohol. In my thirties it has been pain.

One way or another we all suffer from addictions, in fact, my counselor and I have discussed addiction, especially the one of self abuse and destruction, on numerous occasions. I masked my condition with addiction because I did not want to deal with real symptoms that determined my life. Again, living in my own world was easier than living in reality.

That’s not to say there isn’t a great deal that we can learn from Mr. Robot. Our penitence for a false sense of online security, hacking, and rising up against corporations and government. Others write amazingly about online security and culture. One blog I want to share with everyone is The Cryptosphere run by Lorraine Murphy, a good friend who has done a great job over the past few years covering cyber security. When you watch Mr. Robot watch for both, how Elliot deals with depression and the undercurrent of the lack of security that we have as a society.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, mental health

Bounce Back

It’s been a weird two weeks, but in a way they’ve been good. I took a break from almost everything when I started with a new counselling program. I wrote a blog piece about it in early May about being angry when my Doctor asked me what I wanted to do next. I did not take responsibility for what I should have done. It was my fault for not knowing what else I could be doing, including looking for other programs that I could do.

healing 2At the beginning of May my Doctor and I decided to place me into a program run by the Government of British Columbia called “Bounce Back”. It runs through their Mental Health department. Bounce Back helps those who suffer from anxiety or depression. It allows us to understand the problems the problems we have, the stigmas we face, and to learn to live our lives rather than hiding behind a veil of depression.

It was difficult to get in but the program is well worth it. My family doctor had to refer me, then an intake interview. All pretty standard since January. I have been through the procedure before, before seeing my counsellor, and group therapy. After the intake I got a call from my “coach”, a person who talks me through the program on the phone and works with me one on one to get better every two weeks.

This program works for me because it’s self-study. The first two books are pretty standard. They explain what depression is and why I feel this way. There is a section on thought processes that those with depression and anxiety go through. Especially good because I often feel lost in thought when I have free time. Within the books there are activities that we do, so it makes it like studying for a university/college class, which is great because I’m wanting to get back to school in September.

I like that this program is that I can deal with a counsellor one on one without anyone else within the room. It’s the one thing that I know I can do right now. I can’t work within group sessions discussing my problems. I don’t have the trust yet to talk about my issues within a group setting, especially when I have to sit and have others staring at me.