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 Memoir, mental health, Physical Health

An Update on School and Self-Harm

Hi. it’s me. I know I haven’t written for a long time, I think it’s been two months, and a lot has happened. Some good. Some bad. I want to apologize for the lack of updates. When I entered into North Island College’s Graphic Design program I never realized the workload that it would entail. The labs and projects due every week. Assignments. Quizzes and Tests. The last two months have been a lesson in time management. A lesson that I failed for two months and now I am struggling to catch up.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-2-38-55-pm
I get to work on creative projects like this one (logo designs)

Let’s start with the good. I love this program, it allows me to be creative and work on designs while also learning about marketing. I have learned more about the creative side of marketing in the last two months, than I have in three years of North Island College’s marketing program. The profs are better. They understand of students and allow our creativity to flourish.

I realize that this was something that I needed. Other people have noticed that too. A lot of people come up to me and tell me how good I’m looking. How happy I am. It’s not that I hated myself, it’s that I hated the state that I was in. I learned a lot about theory. I can recite “Porter’s Five Forces” or the “Boston Matrix”, but throughout the Business Program there was nothing on creativity, no assignments to create ads for a business or helping with their marketing endeavours.

Being in the Advanced Communication and Interactive Design Diploma has taught me that I can be creative, look at different ways of thinking about how the world works.

Now the bad side. These past two months have been hell. Depression and Social Anxiety. It’s tough to be on a campus with a lot of people, especially after you were afraid to come to school because of the bullying that happened two years ago. I know there are good people here. Still being on campus for long periods of time causes my anxiety to flare.

It doesn’t help when you run out of money, like I did while repaying student loans and paying tuition. I ran out of money for counselling and towards the end of September I ran out of money for medication. I went a week without Citalopram. That was the week where I found out I should never go a week without Citalopram. Luckily I didn’t inflict self-harm during that time.

hank moodySelf-harm would come towards the end of the month. This past weekend I slept and had nightmares. Saturday night was the worst. I woke up inflicting self-harm. Last night flashbacks started. Nightmares about being bullied. It’s weird because you see the faces about who did it. You hear their verbal assaults. Get scared to go to work or school all because of what happened a couple years ago. They cycle repeats with depression and anxiety.

As November rolls on, I find myself back to where I was. I’m seeing my counsellor again. Somehow I think this month is going to be my hardest, it’s been a year since I tried to kill myself. I’m also writing more which I hope will counteract that. Hopefully to the point where there are 2 pieces a week.

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 Memoir, mental health, Reflection

The Second Letter – To My Early 20s

Two months ago I wrote a letter to myself in November. It was part of my counsellor suggesting that I should think about what I would say to myself in three parts of my life. Today I’m going to continue the trend and write a piece on what I would say to myself when the problems peaked in my early 20s, during my first suicide attempt.

I don’t know if I have the strength to talk to you. I do have the words to describe you: coward, selfish, afraid. What you did was not okay. Hiding the fact that you suffered from depressions was not okay. it led to you turning away from everyone that tried to help you, walking away from those who trusted you. Why? All because you were too afraid to admit to yourself that you had a problem.

You gave up on so much. Do you even remember the dreams that you had? You wanted to be a lawyer. Actually do good for others. You wanted to own a house. Someplace to finally feel at home. You wanted to have a family. Hell, you wanted kids because you knew that you would be a better father than the one you had. You replaced your dreams with masks. Drugs. Alcohol.

You shut yourself off to the world. Every day you went home, locked yourself in your bedroom, turned off the lights, and prayed for it to end. For a decade you lived in total darkness and shadows. You gave up on life. You quit. Life was hard, you’ll know that in a decade. You stopped living. There were no friends, no relationships. Were you angry, or did you hate the way life made you feel?

You tried to get help, but never admitted that you had a problem. Friends tried as well, then you walked away from them. Stop and start that’s what you did. You would see a counsellor for a few days, then walk away. Believing that you were cured. It became so bad, when you needed someone to turn to there was no one left.  You were alone.

Am I angry with you? No, for the same reason I can’t give you forgiveness when I know I should. I don’t have time for forgiveness. I want to understand. I want to know why you decided to lose a decade of your life.

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.