Monday, December 1, 2014

Not dead.

It's been a while.

From time-to-time I am overcome with the memory of an artist who lived in a flat on Brock Street in Peterborough circa 1995. At the time he painted abstract nudes on unstretched canvases with black and white oil house paint. I think his name was Steven or Stephen. He graduated from OCA in the 1980s. He was beautiful and troubled. 

He is one of the few people I regret not sleeping with. 

I wonder what happened to him. I wonder if he lived, or if he’s online. 
And the book says, "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."
 I've been writing for a couple of days. Working on using my voice. Working on the present, active voice.

Working to be better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm going to try to work with the crazy.

This post is full of possible triggers. Protect yourself as you need to.

This tweet is the end of the story as of Tuesday, 11 August.


I am not the biggest Robin Williams fan in the world.

But like with the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen, Hunter S. Thompson, L'Wren Scott, Elliott Smith, Aaron Swartz, Wendy O. Williams, and Greg Giraldo; I have a difficult time dealing with the suicides of people far more talented, popular and wealthy than I am.

I mean, if these people can't find a reason to go on living for one more minute, what's my reason? 
What have I got to keep going for?

A little over two weeks ago I had to take my spousal unit aside and tell him that I was thinking about being dead.

I wasn't suicidal, per se, I was just at the point where if I didn't wake up tomorrow I'd be pretty okay with that.

"...I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn't feel obligated to keep existing." - Allie Brosch - Hyperbole and a Half

It's the second step down the spiral of depression for me.

Before I turned 16 I had more dead peers than I had dead relatives.

I had all four of my grandparents and a great-grandmother. My parents are still living, as are all their siblings, and their children.

But I had 4 dead friends - 2 by suicide. 2 were murdered.

By the time I was 18, that number had doubled. 1 more suicide and 3 auto accidents.

I am having a very difficult time accepting that no matter how hard I work, it's never good enough. We've been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for over a year. I really don't want to get into how we've managed to keep our plates spinning, but it can't last for much longer.

The past year has not worked out like we originally planned when we moved back east. That seems to be the nature of plans. This plan was supposed to make things better. Instead every thing is worse.

I first tried to kill myself in 1989 with an overdose of everything I could find in my parents drug cabinet.

I don't remember anything other than laying down in my bed. The next morning my mother was furious at me for drinking underage, after school, because I had come home, went directly to bed, and then proceeded to throw up for hours.

I would rather my mom think I was a terrible, irresponsible, rebellious teenager than know I was suicidal and had failed.

I was just immensely upset that I was still alive and absolutely disgusted with myself for failing. AGAIN.
I was so useless, I couldn't even DIE right.

It's difficult to have a conversation with someone who doesn't really understand how mental illness works, and is really confused because they thought that I was "over that". 

Like it was a phase, or had something to do with my level of maturity.

Trying to explain a broken brain to someone who doesn't understand can be an epic exercise of shame and self-loathing.

The second time I tried to kill myself was in 1990.

The rope broke. When I tried again, the branch broke.

The next day my mother was furious with me for trying to hide the "hickeys" on my neck.

I would rather my mom think I was big ol' slut than know I was suicidal and had failed.

I was so worthless, it wasn't something I think she should be worried about.

When I finally got it all out that I was quickly descending into depression and he, the love of my muthahfuckin' LIFE, needed to know that it was like a weight had been lifted.

Not keeping secrets really helps.

My mental health had to stop being a secret (or a big hairy lie I kept telling people) in order for me to start getting well.

It has to remain out in the open for me to deal with changes as they come up.

Suicide attempts obviously weren't the answer to my problems.
I was going to stop with the all-out *dramatic* attempts to kill myself.
I had a death wish. 

I regularly mixed drugs I knew were a bad addition to the copious amounts of alcohol I managed to consume.

I did drugs that I could not and didn't care to identify, though this happened less often.

I routinely got into cars with, entered the houses of, and had sex with strangers.

I was voted "Most Likely To Be Found Dead in a Dumpster" by my friends.

I was first hospitalized because of my mental state in 1988.

I lied to every doctor, nurse, social worker, and occupational therapist they had.

According to my mother, there was nothing wrong with me. I was just a bad, selfish, irresponsible, rebellious teenager that would grow out of it.

My parents never missed an opportunity to remind me of my badness, selfishness, and irresponsibility.

Whenever depression becomes an issue (again) that's the mental narrative that begins.

I am bad, selfish, and irresponsible.

As it gets worse, it will become bad, selfish, irresponsible and attention seeking.

The last time I decided that I was going to die was July 12, 2004.

I had my plan. I was going to wake up in the morning and go at a certain time because, while this method was fool proof, it would inconvenience a few people, so I wanted to make that as least chaotic as I could.

I went to bed that night feeling like I was finally going to be free.

Here's the thing about crazy.

It's just crazy. 

It's no more selfish than cancer, or MS, or any of the other myriad of diseases and conditions that can fuck up your life and kill you. It's not attention seeking. It's crazy.

A friend of mine put this on Facebook: 

""Suicide is the coward's way out" 
translates to "My pain in mourning your death (is/will be) greater and more important than your current suffering which drove you to this place, so in an attempt to avoid future pain on my part, I will pile more shame on you and on all other people who contemplate suicide. You think you're lesser than me, and I think you're right."

There is absolutely no judgment or slur or negative thing you can say about me that I haven't already said to myself a thousand times.

There are more days in my life when I have felt worthless and that my life does not matter than there have been days that I have felt that I have worth and that my life means something.

On July 13, 2004 I was woken up, not by my alarm, but by a knock on my apartment door.

I didn't die because two people from the internet - One in Birmingham, Alabama, and the other in Sunderland, England sent me a bouquet of Stargazer lilies.

And then Margaret Cho told me I didn't have to die because I had failed.

So I went to the doctor the next day.

It doesn't matter that you love me now, or ever. Someday, depression is going to kill me. I know this. I have a plan for this.

It isn't going to kill me today. It's not even going to kill me soon.

Your love isn't going to save me. And as crazy as it may sound to you, and as angry as this may make you, my love for you isn't going to save me forever.

It's saving me right now. And that's what matters.

Right now.

I am only alive today because of Canada's strict gun laws, floral delivery, and SLUT PRIDE.

Which brings me around to that tweet.

A little over 2 weeks ago, I hit bottom and bounced.

I told my husband my dirty little secret.

I pulled out my notes from cognitive behaviour therapy.

I started writing again. I started adding structure to my completely unstructured days. I stopped thinking about it.

For a while.

“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.” - Jean Paul Sartre

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Week In Review

I did four things differently last week.

  1. I wrote every single day. I worked on blogs. I worked on a couple of longer/larger works I've been kicking around.
  2. I turned off the notifications on my smartphone except for the ringer. I went from 8 AM Monday, August 4 to 8AM Monday, August 11 without being signaled by my phone. I only used it to answer calls or respond to messages (Hangouts, SMS) sent directly to me.
  3.  From 10 PM Friday night to 10 PM Saturday night I did not use technology. My smartphone was off. My laptop was off. If I owned a TV it too would have been off. I went "No screens" for 24 hours.
  4. I started x-stitching again. I'm using someone else's pattern to get my hands/fingers nimble again, but I will start creating new patterns next month.

So what does this all mean?

     a)  It means that my brain is less foggy.
     b)  It means that I both appreciate and respect the screens in my life a little more.
     c)  It means I got a METRIC SHIT TONNE done around the house.
     d)  I really enjoy stitching swear words and odd things into fabric.

Ultimately, this is what I learned:

  1. My brain, some days, is not as broken as I think it is.
  2. My Pavlovian response to my smartphone notifications isn't strong. That's actually a surprise. But I appreciate what they do for me to make my life easier and respect the fact they can also allow me to fuck up my day fast and efficiently.
  3. I require 7 hours sleep to properly recover from a day of light activity. I require 9-10 hours sleep to properly recover from a day of heavy lifting and physical activity. This helps me with my time management more than I can possibly explain.
  4. I really, really like to swear. A lot. Like as much as I love coffee and baked goods, I love to swear.
  5. I really love lists, too.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Self-pity is a helluva drug

I had a really difficult time with my mental health the past month.

I had spectacularly bad times with the nerves in my right foot and right cheek.

And I still have the nagging post-viral cough from that cold I had two weeks ago.

Turning 40 was the worst fucking thing. I started falling apart 10 days before it even happened.

I bottomed out emotionally and mentally about a week ago.

I can't discuss details here because it involves private communications between my spouse and I, but what I can say is this...

Not having a goal, destination, or outcome to shoot for makes me crazy. I don't necessarily need that goal, destination, or outcome to be the thing that happens, I just need a direction. I spent my life up until my 30s with no direction. I can't go back there.

That still doesn't mean that I have any real idea about what I really want to do. So for the past couple of weeks I've been reading, writing, and stitching again. I'm doing these things because I know I like them.

Until I can get this nerve-pain thing in my left foot worked out, I'm not supposed to lift weights.

I found this sugar-free bread that is so good I can only bring myself to put butter on it when I make toast.

I can't say what's going on next weekend, but I hope two of my favourite people have lots of wine to drink with me.

Happy Lord Simcoe Day, BC Day, Heritage Day, New Brunswick Day, and/or Civic Holiday, Canada!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dear Future Me:

Today is the first day of the year 2013. If things have gone well, you are reading this on your 40th birthday and a year and a half (or so) has passed.

In summation: you've been out of work for all intents and purposes since April 1, 2012. Your EI claim runs out in three months. You've just launched a website that boasted 129 unique hits in December, and you're wondering if it was worth all the fuss and money to put together posts that only 12 people read.

You have no idea what the future holds, but you've got an email out to a woman who wants to fire her assistant, and you know that Craigslist will start to pick up as soon as tomorrow, and as late as next week. Your career counsellor quit, and applying for a job she recommended you for didn't even get you an interview, so maybe that career counsellor isn't worth the time or effort when they assign you a new one sometime this month.

This new year finds me at the cross-roads. I don't know what to do, all I know is that I need a job. I need money because Joe quit school and thought he would find a job in just days, but it's now been two months, close to three. He has a bunch of applications out there, but they went out so late in the year it might be next week before he hears anything at all...

I don't know what I really want to tell you. What I really want to know is that shit worked out. I want to know if we made it Windsor in April of 2013, or if we had to wait until later in the year, or if we had to do something completely different...

I don't feel well. I have a wee bit of a cold, I haven't been out for regular exercise in months, and I've been off Copaxone for almost a year. I have regular headaches. I have regular bouts of insomnia, but lately I've been doing okay with getting up at 7:30 AM. That means I'm usually asleep by midnight or so. I'm usually in bed by 11 PM.

I've been packing my days full of stuff to do, most of which I don't get to because I am tired, bored, don't want to disturb Joe, or just don't fucking feel like it. I am so tired of not having anything to do so I make work for myself. I also fill my list with things I think I "should" be doing. I hope I've stopped this, or started finding some of those things useful.

I am fascinated by the future, because the present is just so bleak. For all the drudgery of the day today around here, Joe and I are doing okay...

I really don't know what else I can say to you. Life really isn't fun right now, and I hope that by the time you read this on July 13, 2014 things will be better, more secure, and more fun.

Or more - something...

I look forward to this year because looking back only makes me want to slash my wrists. I'm looking forward because the only way to go. I'm looking forward because I am sure that Future Me hasn't let me down, and life is different where Future Me is.


Past Me