Finding the Blips in the Flat Line

It’s been a long time since I’ve published anything. I’ve still been writing, it’s just that everything I’ve written is so personal (like more than usual) that I don’t want it on the Internet, at least not right now. And nothing I’ve written is about mental health.

Prior to graduating from university, I felt like I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas I was having. I was constantly being exposed to new things and I was actively involved with the mental health community at our school.

Since then, though, I’ve pretty much plateaued. I have nothing else to say. I haven’t experienced anything new in terms of my own mental health, and I haven’t experienced anything new in my personal life that’s worth publishing.

Sure, I’ve taken up rock climbing and the ukulele, done better and longer speeches, experienced my first full time office job, and met the real love of my life, but none of those things have led to any new revelations about mental health.

I guess I should be grateful that my own mental health has stabilized and that I no longer experience the depressive episodes that plagued me in the past. I have lots of time to pursue my hobbies, like writing this blog, because I’m not sad and tired all the time. But…if I’m no longer on the roller coaster, what am I supposed to write about? I still have no problem giving speeches and presentations, because I can say the same thing to different audiences. But blogging requires new material all the time.

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Promises To Myself When I’m Alone

All my life I have been scared to live alone. The closest I’ve ever come to it is when I was living in a dorm in first year of university, and I was pretty miserable.

I’ve been scared to be isolated, scared to be the only one responsible for taking care of myself, scared that without someone else helping me along my life will fall into a stagnant rut.

I’m still scared, but what I’ve been doing is no longer working for me, so I decided that I had to change something, kind of like an experiment, and I decided to start with my living situation.

Tomorrow I move out on my own, but tonight I’d like to take a moment to make a few promises to myself in hopes that this experiment will be a success.

Pulling Yourself Out Of The Hole

People, including me, always say that it takes strength and courage to reach out and ask for help.

But I don’t think I ever fully understood that until now.

My habit has always been to wait until I am at the point of crisis before REALLY telling anyone what is going on. I’ll try to reach out well before then, but not in any kind of way that would make anyone understand how much I really need them, due to the fact that people do not yet have psychic abilities. I try to make plans with people and just talk to people more, and usually other people are responsive and this works. Usually this is enough to help me slowly feel better.

But sometimes, it just so happens that all the plans I try to make with people fall through, or no one is responding to my messages. Suddenly everyone is busy. Suddenly everyone is tired. Suddenly I am not a priority to anyone. There are always days like this, which I can handle, but sometimes this will turn into a prolonged period spanning weeks or months. And the longer it goes on, the more frustrated and desperate I become, and I begin to feel like no one cares about me.

A Faded Hospital Bracelet

I’ve only ever been in the hospital three times in my life – when I was born, when I had a spontaneous tear in my lung, and exactly two years for suicidal thoughts.

I credit that day for turning my life around. Although the most difficult moments of my life were still yet to come, I’ve never felt as hopeless as I did that night since.

I will say though that I have come very close. I become depressed when I’m lonely or experiencing other social issues. And for the past month and a half, I have been very socially isolated.

I’m not really sure how it happened. There are a lot of reasons – me facing criticism that I am not used to regarding my morality, other people’s changing minds and flip-flopping attitudes, new situations in other people’s lives, me just generally being annoyed with everyone for no real reason, and the fact that it’s winter and despite the fact that this is Canada, everyone becomes a little bit hermit-like.

Every couple of hours or so a thought will fleet across my mind that I’m just wasting time and my life is meaningless, because if other people don’t want me around then what is even the point of me? What is the point of life?

Sure??

One year ago today marks the first of a series of turning points that made me who I am today and probably changed my life forever. I mean, let’s hope, anyway.

Last year I was struggling to stand on my own, caught in this place between losing everything and finding new things. And I just really wanted to die. Like, a lot.

It had been like that for the past several months but it only kept getting worse. Up until this point the only person who knew about it was my ex, except all he really knew was that I was really, really pissed at him. I had good reasons (and little did I know then that it was worse than I ever could have possibly imagined) but next to no ability to express them properly. We used to be able to have calm, rational discussions about our feelings and work through just about anything that way, but in the face of, “I don’t love you any more, not sure why,” I lost all of my ability to do that.

That wasn’t really his fault; yes it was an incredibly long and complicated relationship that was breaking apart, but most people could probably keep it together. Or at the very least, they would bounce back a lot quicker.

Ghosts of Suburbs Past

Every time I go home to my parents’ house, it’s a battle to retain the progress I have made with my mental health.

The last time I lived here, I was blissfully (by my current standards) in love with someone who I now haven’t seen in more than 6 months, who I miss more than anything. And I had friends who I loved and who I hoped loved me. So every time I go home, I’m reminded of all of that, everything we did and everything we didn’t do.

Being here feels like I’m struggling with three different versions of myself – the happy one, the devastated one, and my current self. I’m okay. I’m not as happy as I was, but I’m okay.

I try to limit the number of times I come home – lately it’s been about once a month – because of that, and because I feel like I don’t belong here. I feel like everyone who is now gone from my life took this place away from me.

It Gets Dark At 5 Now

t’s still fall and relatively nice out – cold, but not so cold that I dread getting out of bed and going outside. I can still wear my nice coat.

But I am filled with dread all the same, because winter is coming. Obviously. Normally I am so excited because of Christmas, and I don’t start to feel the impact until January, but it’s starting early this year. Really early.

That’s because last winter was absolutely brutal for me, to the point where I can count the number of good days I had throughout the entire season on my hands. I was in a depressive episode, although it took me way too long to figure that out. I was constantly tired, and when I try to remember those months the weather is always dark or cloudy, even though I know that’s impossible.

Fifteen

It’s okay. You’re going to be okay, because you are beautiful, and smart, and funny, and talented, and you are stronger than you think and capable of more than you know. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you’re a guy, you are also all of those things, but if you’d prefer I can say you’re handsome instead of beautiful. You are everything – anything – that you want to be; if you’re not there yet, you can get there. You probably have great ideas, even if they only exist as tiny sparks of hope right now. I promise you that things are not as bad as you think right now. Cling to those good things and rays of hope. It doesn’t make you weak or foolish or naive to believe that things will change.

On Medication And Dysthymia

I’ve been on medication for my depression for the past two years of my life. I’m going to talk about my experience with it so far, because there are a LOT of pretty strong opinions out there. The most popular opinion that I hear by far is that medication is awful and pushed on everyone for no reason. And of course sometimes that’s completely true, and it really isn’t for everyone. I never thought it was for me and I resisted it for years. People should know that it’s not always a horror story. Sometimes, the most traditional methods really do work.

I’ve suspected that I had dysthymia since high school, but I was only diagnosed with it this year. Dysthymia is a form of low-grade depression that is chronic and lasts for many years – some people have it their whole lives. It can start so early and last for so long that people simply believe that it is who they are, and don’t realize that there is anything ‘different’ about them. This was the case for me.

THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD (Or Just Reflections On My Grandmother’s Funeral)

This year my grandmother died, and I was asked to do a reading at the funeral mass. As usual I tried to get out of it, but no luck. I’m not religious, but if it was going to help I figured I could just get through it.

When I got up to do the reading, I was already a little emotional from seeing other people crying. I started off all right but halfway through I couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t believe any of the words I was saying. Something about Jesus, and how he would destroy death and save everyone who was in pain. Not only do I not believe that, but I think it’s insulting to everyone else who DOES believe that for me to be the voice of those words. I lost it at “he will destroy death forever”, because that’s just a blatant lie, whether you’re religious or not, and it seems so wrong to tell grieving people something like that. And then it got even worse, as the reading proclaims, “the Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek.”

I’ve spent more days this year crying than NOT crying, and I can’t possibly convey how much I would like to believe that. But the thing is, no one is there to wipe away my tears. There’s nothing that anyone could ever say that will make me believe that. So I cried not just for my grandmother but for everyone and everything I have lost in the past year. There has been so much. People that I have loved with all my heart, and in one case more, have walked away from me like it was nothing. They’ve kicked me when I was already down, refused to help when I reached out. I’ve never been able to make anyone else understand that pain.