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.

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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.

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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.