Nothing

I feel alone and lonely. 

I wish…I don’t know what I wish for. And even if I did wish I know it wouldn’t come true. So there’s really no point. 

My world has shrunk and before long I will probably be nothing and I will have no one to blame but myself. 

For I am nothing. 

How Misleading a Good Day Can Be

Today I had a really good day.

For starters, it was a nice day outside. Not too hot. No rain, and no rain expected. And almost no humidity (because humidity is my enemy right now). Just blue sky, some sunshine, and white clouds.

I had woken up early, with no alarm clock, and well-rested, for an early doctor’s appointment. And as if everything was on my schedule, I caught all the buses on time, and even got a seat, making it to the doctor’s office with time to spare. During my appointment, I had results from a couple of tests come back that were positive or normal. No bad news on the medical front. And no lectures or stern frowns from the doctor for things I should change or be careful about. Just good news to be had and I was on my way. Which was great because I needed to have bloodwork done too and then I was to meet a friend for a late breakfast.

So I got to the lab, and had my blood drawn with no issues, and I didn’t have to pee in a cup. I consider that a bonus because I hate peeing in the cup.

And just as I was done in the medical building, my friend pulled up to the side of the building to pick me up, as if she knew I was done and it was time to go eat. It was like the planets aligned and everything was in sync with my schedule. So I hopped into her SUV, and we were off for breakfast. I had such a good time with her; hanging out, talking, and laughing. It was really nice. Breakfast was good too. Cheese and pepper omelet with home fries. Yum.

After saying goodbye to my friend, I then made my way to my second appointment, again with time to spare. I was able to sit outside, have a cool drink and a bite to eat, and enjoy the nice weather. I remember noticing too that my anxiety levels were very low. I quickly scanned my body and was pleased that, nope, no anxiety was there. I didn’t even feel anxious about not having anxiety. I wasn’t calm exactly, I was just okay, neither good nor bad. And despite the rarity of the feeling I didn’t even probe around my mind to see if I was sure, or if it was okay to proceed, I just let it be as it was.

It felt good. Just enjoying the sunshine and my apple and my water. No rush. No worry thoughts. No anxiety. Just a girl sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. And then that second appointment also went well. Not as much good news as the earlier one, but still good.

And then I found myself thinking, how am I not doing more? How am I not out like this every day? Enjoying the nice weather and being outside. How am I missing all of this? How can I deprive myself of all the day can offer when I stay inside and hide? How am I not all up in everything all the time?

Ad then it hit me… of all the hows I was asking myself, how was I not remembering that not all of my days were like this? How was I not remembering that just yesterday had been a bad day? How was I not remembering that not all of my days were this good?

Somehow I had gotten so lost in the good day that I started to believe that this one day meant that every day could be like this, and that every day I would be in a good place to function, explore, and enjoy, without other obstacles, worries, or anxieties, cropping up. Somehow I had forgotten that good days didn’t happen every day, and that bad days did not outnumber the good days. Right now, bad days outnumbered the good days. It wasn’t a bad thing to believe that all days could be this good. It just wasn’t realistic. It wasn’t what I experienced every day.

Yes, some days were good, some days were even great. But some days were bad, and some days were even worse. And at some point the good days may start to outnumber the bad days. But right now, they didn’t. Right now, each day was a roll of the dice as to whether it would be a good day or not. And believing that one day dictated how all of them would be was a little shortsighted on my part.

Fortunately the reality of my experience didn’t crap out the good day that I was having. The remainder of the day stayed pretty good (relatively speaking). But it did sober me up from believing that this was an indicator of where I should be and what I should be doing. This was a good day. And that was all I needed to know.

Tomorrow might be another good day, or it might suck worse than anything. Whatever it may or may not become really didn’t matter. I had today and today was good. And whatever tomorrow would be I would just have to deal with it when it happened.

I’m glad I realized the reality before I started to have unrealistic expectations of myself…again. I’m proud of myself for not only taking in the day and leaving it at that, but also for realizing that I was getting ahead of myself, and reining in my expectations. Something I have struggled with for years.

I am often inside of a mood, good or bad, and I have a hard time seeing past it and believing that another mood is even possible. The mood, or the day, feels so concrete that believing it can change is hard to imagine. It feels so enveloping that I often forget that moods, and days, are subject to change. And having good days are just as possible as having bad days are, and vice versa. But in the moment of the day, I often miss that.

The good news is that good days are possible, and I can enjoy them, without worrying about the next day, or the day after that.

No matter what happens tomorrow I’m glad today was good. And I’m glad I was able to enjoy it. I hope that I remember again that one day doesn’t dictate how every other day will be, and that a good day can be just that, a good day. And I really hope that soon the good days will start to outnumber the bad days. For now though it’s going to have to be one day at a time.

Until next time… 🙂

What a Difference a Year Makes

It occurred to me yesterday that it had been exactly one year since I had been hospitalized. One year since I had felt the bottom drop out and sought help. And it got me thinking of how far I had come, how far I still had to go, and the journey thus far.

At first, I thought I haven’t come far enough. I’m still struggling. I still have some very bad days, and I still have some emotions and thoughts that overwhelm me.

And then I realized that I was being really unfair to myself, and negating what progress I have made. When I actually compare where I was and how I felt last year this time to where I am and how I feel this year, I couldn’t ignore that I had made way more progress than I gave myself credit for.

Last year I was teetering on the edge, and was thisclose to standing on a ledge. I was inconsolable and suicidal. I was self-harming and doing anything I could think of to ignore and suppress all the pain. I was sleeping fewer than four hours a night and eating everything in sight. My dreams were killing me, with images and ideas that left me disturbed and scared so bad that they would wake me almost every night. I was afraid, hopeless, helpless, and I felt more alone than ever. I couldn’t even imagine seeing the next day, let alone a year later.

So I asked for help. I took myself, in my pj’s, crying my eyes out, down to CAMH 24-hour emergency down at College, and I asked them for help. I told them that I was afraid for myself and that I wouldn’t make it if I was left alone any longer. And just like that, they took me in. They said they could help and they wanted to. That floored me. They wanted to help me?! Why? Well I still don’t know why, and frankly I don’t need to know anymore. All I know is they did.

I spent six weeks in their care, and the team that was built around me, saved my life.

To be clear, they had saved my life, but I still wasn’t totally sure that life was worth living. And I was pretty sure that I would end up right back where I had started. It was only a matter of time.

I had very few illusions about my prognosis. I had been low before and somehow managed to claw my way back. Several times. Granted it wasn’t really ever a recovery so to speak, it was more just getting to a point where I could function. Enough to work and pay bills and keep a home, but just enough.

My relationships were stressed, at best, my health was on a downward spiral that I’m still working to manage, my work was a joke with no purpose or enjoyment on any level, and my thoughts were slowly deteriorating my will and my sanity. I wholly assumed that this time would be no different.

But…it was.

I don’t know exactly why this time turned out differently. I just know that it did. Maybe it was the team I had behind me, maybe it was the medication, maybe it was me, or maybe all of the above. Whatever it was I had somehow found a path towards living a life worth living. I was able to get into, not one, but three different programs that would help me work through my destructive coping methods, address my overwhelming thoughts and emotions, and teach me how to build a life worth living.

Every day poses an obstacle that can still stump me, and there are days where I am filled with uncertainty and anxiety, but I am learning, and despite the uncertainty and anxiety, I am making changes that are positive. I am learning better ways to cope that are not destructive.

It is by no means, an easy journey, and there are no guarantees that everything will turn out okay, but it’s farther than I’ve ever come before. It’s far more progress than I’ve ever made before. And the changes, so far, have stuck around. I can only hope that this is a turn towards a better life that will last.

And hopefully, this time next year, things will have improved from today, and I can tell of all the latest progress I will have made. At least, that’s the hope.

Until next time… 🙂

*TW* Thinking About Suicide

Ever since last Friday and hearing about the tragic suicide of Chester Bennington I’ve been thinking about suicide. It has sadly already been a week since the news first broke and my thoughts are still heavily on him and suicide.

When I first heard the news I was just truly shocked and speechless. Chester Bennington had died? That couldn’t be right. That can’t be. Please don’t let that be true. I sincerely hope this is not true. But it was. He had died. And he had killed himself.

That was a heavy blow I am still unable to get past.

I couldn’t help but wonder how such a talented and insightful singer/songwriter could take his own life. Just weeks after a new album release, and practically days to the start of a North American tour. He was the frontman to a wildly successful group, and had millions of adoring fans who looked up to him and listened to his beautiful words with a ferocity that few can claim. And he had killed himself?

I just can’t understand it. I can’t understand how it could be possible. I can’t understand how he decided to make the choice that he did. I can’t understand it. I question this as if I myself have never struggled with suicidal thoughts before. But I can’t help it. I can’t help but feel confused. How could someone seemingly doing so well would commit suicide? Why? Why did he do it? Why would he feel that this was the end? Why would he feel that life was no longer worth living? What was it that broke him?

I was fortunate to see Linkin Park in concert with one of my best friends a few years ago, and it was one of the best nights. Their concert still resonates with me today when I hear their music, and I was hoping I would one day see them in concert again. They were just so good. But alas it is not meant to be. The one concert I was fortunate enough to see will have to be my single concert memory. Fortunately it’s a good enough memory it should last. But it certainly doesn’t make that we will never see Mr. Bennington in concert again any easier. In fact, it makes it harder.

His death is truly heartbreaking. He was so talented and his lyrics were beautiful poems. Listening to some of their music was like coming home. It felt like not only did he understand what you were feeling but he knew how to articulate it. He knew how to weave the words together so well that he could make the hardest emotion seem poetic and lovely.

I know that fame and success, no matter how much you have, doesn’t guarantee anyone anything when it comes to struggling with mental Illness. Having family and friends around you doesn’t guarantee anyone anything. If anyone understands the fragmented, disjointed, scary thoughts that can accompany mental illness it’s someone else (like me) who is also struggling with mental Illness. And for those of us who do struggle with mental illness, and have had suicidal thoughts, we know all too well how quickly things can go south, and how close many of us have come to dying by our own hands.

Those who struggle with mental illness tend to take solace in each other’s struggles. There is something about knowing that we are not alone, and that what we are feeling or struggling with is not just us. That others have scary thoughts like we do. That others have overwhelming emotions and urges that we try so hard to manage makes it seem a little less daunting. We hold onto each other and our respective struggles or demons or disorders and feel just a little bit less hopeless and alone. We hold fast that we will make it out alive. That we will all make it out alive. We hold fast that if others can make it then maybe we have a chance too. And when we lose one it can set us back. It can put a stop on any progress we’ve made thus far, and it can relegate us back to old habits and patterns, and the belief that we won’t be able to beat this. It can throw us into a tailspin that leaves us wondering and scared that we might be next.

We sometimes can’t help but think, if he can’t make it then what hope do I have?

It is always difficult to hear about the loss of a fellow sufferer. When the light of one of us is darkened by their own hand I think we all take it a little personally. Whether you knew the person or not. Because it means one more of us who didn’t make it. It means one of us didn’t make it out alive. It means the darkness took another light. It means that there is one less of us to hold onto and hope for better things. It means there is one less of us hoping to pull through. And we need all the hope we can get.

As anyone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts can tell you that often the thoughts are not on a linear path. In fact, they rarely go in any kind “logical” order. Feeling blue to sad. Sad to depressed. Depressed to severely depressed. Severely depressed to suicidal. It would be great to track it from phase to phase but it just doesn’t work that way. The path of mental health and mental Illness almost never goes the way of order. It is chaos personified.

It is sporadic and temperamental. It is tenuous and fragile. It is scary and dangerous. It is subject to change without a moment’s notice, and can leave you feeling like you’ve just been hit by a truck. You can wake up feeling okay and on a good path, and mere hours later you could be feeling like suicide is the only way out. Certain behaviours and moods can certainly help to identify and intervene before it gets that bad but as many signs that can be seen there are double the amount that can come out of nowhere. And the scariest part is that you can be feeling better and doing better and still have suicidal thoughts come on. You can be in recovery and moving forward and still find yourself falling backwards.

For myself there was something truly terrifying and so very fragile about moving away from depression. I was feeling better and I was seeing things clearer but there was still this nagging darkness behind me. In some ways it comforted me that my old familiar darkness was there, but it also scared me because it could creep up over and take me down again at any moment. And in fact, it did.

I remember the night I walked the floors of my hallway holding a knife and feeling like there was just no other way out. I was so terrified that night that blood would spill on the hardwood floors in my bedroom that it still shocks me I somehow managed to survive that night. I am still not sure what got me through to morning but whatever it was it stayed my hand long enough to call for help.

What really shook me about that night was that I had been doing so well. I had been seeing a therapist and making great strides in finally understanding a lot of my past and my trauma. I only recently discovered that back then I was really just scratching the surface, but I digress. I was working full-time, I was in a relationship that I loved, and I was doing stuff that interested me. I was generally feeling okay about things overall. It was by no means a complete recovery but it was certainly better than it had been.

Back when I was crying every day and feeling like the world was crushing me. When I felt so alone and lonely and that no matter how many words I used no one would ever understand me or be able to help me. When I felt so weighed down by life I could barely make it out of bed. Comparatively-speaking I was doing really well.

And then that night happened.

As the sky darkened outside my windows I suddenly felt this crushing weight on me that literally pushed me to the floor. Where I remained for a few hours crying until my tears ran dry and I was totally numb. I suddenly felt so hopeless and helpless that I was forever doomed to pain and suffering no matter what I did. I felt as if life was just not something that I was meant to have. I was never meant to be happy or have good things. I was forever destined to darkness. And it crushed me. I mean it broke me right down. As depressed as I had felt before, this weight that came over me literally left me breathless. I remember sitting just outside my bathroom gasping for air because something was breaking me down. Something was suffocating me. And it wasn’t long before I suddenly found myself with a knife in my hand and the will to live just fell away.

I didn’t care that I could die. I didn’t care if anyone might miss me. I didn’t care who found me or how. I didn’t care about anything. Literally. I lost my connection to the world so profoundly that it wasn’t until I saw the blood running down my leg that I realized where this was going. I frantically searched the apartment for bigger knives and drugs that I could take and things I could use to end it all. Anything was fair game. Jumping out the window, slicing my body to pieces, taking every drug in the apartment, or all of the above. I was on a mission and the completion was death.

Whatever carried me to morning did so without my knowledge.

I remember seeing the sun peak through the window and as I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling I was amazed that I was still alive. I laid there on the floor for most of the day after, as if I had run a marathon the night before, and at some point I fell asleep as the adrenalin dissipated. And it wasn’t until the following night before I finally moved off the floor. I slept most of the next few days away and spoke to no one. I’d like to say that what happened that night was cathartic and that it was a breakthrough for me, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t even close. It had terrified me. It had set me back to a place where I couldn’t even trust myself. It had literally almost killed me. It had not left me unscathed and I did not feel any better about life. It took months and serious therapy to bring me back to where I could function again.

One thing I did learn from that night was that even someone on the recovery can still be broken. I learned that being in therapy and coming back from depression did not mean that everything was okay, or that I was fully functioning again. It did not mean that the darkness couldn’t take me again. And that’s not to say that therapy and recovery are a lost cause because they aren’t. And it doesn’t mean that recovery will be negated in one fell swoop. Yes, that night blindsided me but that might not be true for others. And when I look back I can see in some parts why I turned to suicide that night.

That night almost killed me AND I still believe in recovery and I still believe in hope.

I wrote earlier that the path to suicide is not linear, or constant, and it often makes no logical sense, which is true. However, it is still a path. Suicidal thoughts rarely just spring out of nowhere for no reason. There are usually some signs that show where things are headed. Sometimes we see the path, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes others see the path before we do. And sometimes we don’t care what path we are on, or where it will end up, as long as it ends the pain and suffering.

What I want to really be clear about here is that suicide is something that should always be taken seriously. Whether the person is asking for help or whether they fully intend to end their life, the threat should be treated as real and true. I want people to understand that suicide is scary at times, even for the person who is attempting or committing suicide.

I want people to understand that suicide is rarely about not having a great life or great success. It is rarely about the people around us and in our lives. It is often about us, and our own pain and suffering. It is something that can happen to anyone and there may be times where it seems to come out of the blue. It can hide and spring on you when you least expect it. It is something that can happen when you’re in the darkness or trying to come out of the darkness.

There are as many reasons to commit suicide as there are people in the world. And what is enough reason for one may not be reason for another. So that is a lot of reasons and a lot of chances for the path to turn dark. And it’s important to keep in mind that feeling suicidal is not a weakness nor does it mean failure. It means that you need help. You are struggling, out of ideas, and out of options, and need help. You are boxed in, overwhelmed, stuck, lost, and need help. You feel helpless, hopeless and worthless, and need help.

The bottom line is that you need help. And you are entitled to it as much as anyone else is. You are NOT worthless. And even if you’re hope has diminished then let someone else hope for you, until yours comes back.

I am going to close this by saying that I hope anyone who feels suicidal, please reach out for help. Or if you know someone who is suicidal, please try to offer them support, whether it’s making the call for help for them, or just sitting with them to let them know they aren’t alone. Please take all suicidal threats seriously because it could cost a life.

I know that there will be some suicides that won’t be able to be stopped. There will be some who will not see the next day. There will be some who you won’t know are struggling. There will be some who will go out of their way to not tell you they are struggling. There will be some of us that won’t make it out alive. But if you see it, or they ever do tell you, please try to help.

For those who find themselves in the darkness and are unable to find your way back to the light, I sincerely hope you find peace, no matter where it lays.

Hope and hugs for everyone out there 🙂

SUICIDE LINES – CANADA:
Call 911
https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
https://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/
http://www.yourlifecounts.org/need-help/crisis-lines
http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/canada-suicide-hotlines.html

The Unsettling Feeling of Calm

I wanted to share this because I’m curious to know if anyone else has experienced this. Or if it’s just me and I’m losing it. 

Today on my way to an appointment, I was on the bus and it was about halfway through my trip when I realized that I felt calm. It hit me quite suddenly as I was just looking out the window and thinking. Was I…calm? Was my body…calm? Wait a second, was calm? Really? Are you sure? Me? Calm? That can’t be right. Okay, what’s going on? 

So I scanned my body to look for anything that might be there, a flutter, some tension, anything to tell me that my body was in a state that wasn’t even close to calm. And as I reached my toes and still had not found anything, it started to sink in that I wasn’t really feeling anything at that moment. Say what? I wasn’t feeling anything? 

I thought maybe I was numb then. That made sense. I wasn’t feeling anything in my body because I was numb. But the body scan told me it wasn’t numbness because even when I’m numb I physically feel a certain way. There are still physical sensations that tell me I’m feeling numb. And this time there was nothing. Just…nothing. No anxiety. No tension. Nothing. My breathing was normal and my body was calm. 

What the crap was this?

I scanned my body again, looking for the slightest twinge or tension, thinking I needed to double-check this out because I couldn’t be just calm, could I? And again the scan told me there was nothing. My body was not in a state of anything. Was this what riding the bus with no anxiety looked like? Was this what an anxiety-less body felt like? Was this simply riding the bus? Was this what just taking a bus looks like? Was this what just taking a bus feels like? 

Well I don’t like it. 

Now don’t get me wrong, when I say I was calm I don’t mean that my mind was blank or quiet because it was neither. I don’t mean that by being calm I was not having a swarm of thoughts going through my mind because I did. In fact I was thinking about my life and my emotions when I realized how calm I was. I was not really relaxed, meditative, or even happy because I wasn’t. It was just…calm. 

For whatever reason, I was not tense or anxious or feeling like I would pass out or freak out. I was not worried that I might die or anything. The absence of the chaos I usually carry within me was very unsettling. It wasn’t long before I wondered if I should be freaking out. I mean this was not my usual feeling. This was not my usual state. This was not the way I normally take a bus. This was new, and weird, but suprisingly even when I thought of freaking out my body just stayed calm. For a moment I was unable to even stir myself into feeling anxious. I have no idea how. And I have no idea why. I just was. So this was calm? This was just sitting with myself? This was just being?

Interesting. 

I actually managed to stay calm for the next hour or so, and frankly I’m just stunned. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know why it happened. I have no idea how I managed to stay calm in my body as my mind pondered life’s questions. But there it was. Me. Calm. 

Alrighty then. Good to know. 

I’ve decided not to analyze this to death because I have a feeling it will never be explained. I have a feeling that it actually doesn’t  matter why it happened. So I am going to accept it for what it was, a feeling of calm while going to an appointment. 

I’d like to say that I was able to stay there, in the calmness, but unfortunately my anxiety about not having anxiety managed to build my anxiety level, and within a couple of hours I was back up to a 7 or 8 on the anxiety level scale, and also had a slight panic attack on my way home from the appointment. 

On the plus side, I was super pleased that I had at least caught a glimpse of what a zero on the anxiety level looks like. It’s nice to know that it can happen, that it is possible, and that I can get there. I’d like to know why or how it had happened so I could harness it for the future but I know that is probably not possible. Some things can’t be harnessed like that. At least, not yet. 

As unsettling as it was to just be calm and not have anxiety and all the baggage that goes with me wherever I go, I’m really glad it happened because maybe it will happen again. And maybe it might even last longer. Or maybe I’ll never see it again. Who knows.  But at least knowing it’s possible is good. 

Has anyone else experienced this? I really hope it’s not just me. 

A Lesson in Fairness

I have always believed in fairness. As naive as it will sound I have always thought that life should be fair. I know that is a utopian dream that unfortunately will never come true but I still can’t help but hope that life will be fair. That life should be fair. Life should respect the efforts people make to lead healthy, uncluttered lives. Life should respect those who prepare and plan. Life should not be able to shatter all efforts and plans as if they never existed. To me, that is not only unfair, it’s wrong. Life, however, disagrees with me. Strongly and loudly. 

This past week has been extremely stressful and if I have learned anything from it, it’s that you can do everything right and still have things go very wrong. You can follow all the rules and guidelines; you can do everything the textbook said to do; you can do everything the doctor told you to do; you can prepare yourself, and have all the necessities at the ready; you can do everything perfect to the letter…and then…you may still fail, you may still miss something; you may still get sick, you may still get crapped on, your world may still shatter and completely fall apart. You can do everything right and still have things go wrong. 

That, my friends, is the humility that life bestows on us every chance it gets. 

Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Nothing. 

No matter how much you plan, how much you prepare, how much you brace yourself against the worst, the worst can still happen. 

Good people have bad things happen, bad people have good things happen, the undeserving get promoted while the deserving are skipped over, the healthy are inflicted with disease and the unhealthy live to a hundred, the list of contradictory, illogical things that can happen is endless. And most likely, someone will be hurt at the end of it. Life is incredibly unfair. It craps all over your well-laid plans. It rips the rug right out from under you without warning. It seems to take more than it gives, and when it gives it’s usually much less than expected, wanted, or needed. 

This is heartbreaking for me, and it’s something I have to learn to accept. Life is unfair.

Life is filled with disappointment, betrayal, deception, corruption, heartbreak, loneliness, pain, and death. It doesn’t matter who you are, life, at times, will not be fair to you. Life will rip you apart like it has never even heard of the word “fair”.  Life will eat you up and spit you out. And, to an extent, there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about it. 

That, to me, is so unfair that it should not be allowed to happen. Life should not be allowed to ruin plans, or throw curveballs at you. Life should not be allowed to do whatever it wants for no reason. I know that sounds absurd but that’s how I feel. I know that life is unfair. I get it, that’s just how life goes. Believe me, I know. Yet I still find it so hard when life deals this blow. I have a hard time accepting it. And I try very hard to find a justifiable reason that this bad thing happened. 

Something to explain why me? Something to help me understand. Something to show me where I failed, where I didn’t plan or prepare enough. Something to justify why I was chosen. Why me and not someone else? What did I do to deserve this? Did I make a mistake? Did I miss something? How can I do everything right and still have things go wrong? I did everything right. So what is it? Well, unfortunately, that’s just how life goes. 

Sometimes you can do everything right and still have things go wrong. 

I feel somewhat groundless that life can just crap all over me, for no reason, at any time, in any way, and even if I do everything I can to prevent this stuff from happening, life can just waltz in, smash things around, and waltz back out, leaving me to deal with the cleanup and the aftermath. If life can be so unfair then why try to prepare? Why make the effort to be healthy? Why set everything up to be braced at the point of impact, only to have it shattered to pieces? Why should I follow the rules and the guidelines if life doesn’t? 

I know I should find a way to accept that life is unfair. I know by not accepting it I only suffer more. I know that some things I will never have an answer for. That’s just the way life goes. 

And yet…I still can’t help but feel that life should be fair. Good things should happen to good people. Bad things should happen to bad people. And when you do things right they should stay right. I really don’t think that’s asking too much. I think it’s fair that life should be fair. But it’s not. 

I know it isn’t all bad, and sometimes you can do everything right and things turn out right, but the fact that it can just as easily go wrong, well, it scares me. Actually, it terrifies me. That life can give and life can take it away. Just. Like. That. Makes me want to crawl into a padded bunker and lock the door behind me, and stay there until life plays fair. Sadly, that would be a long wait. 

And no doubt someone might say that living in a padded bunker is no way to live, I would respectfully disagree with that. I believe I can stay in this here bunker and wait out life. A pointless endeavour that will end with my death, and life winning? Absolutely. Totally pointless. And life will take me down in the end anyway. It’s a vicious belief that I need to change. And no matter how much I know I will ultimately lose against life doesn’t make me want to crawl into that bunker any less. It should. But it doesn’t. 

I guess…I guess I just hate that it scares me. I hate how helpless it makes me feel. And I hate that it’s so random and precarious. So much of life is already random and precarious, and there is so much we have no control over, and never will, I can’t help but hope that maybe life will cut us a break. 

I already know that it just doesn’t go that way. Sadly. I hope that one day I find a way to accept that. 

There Is Nothing Wrong With Having Mental Health Issues

This past weekend brought up the conversation of mental health issues in a number of ways for me; from hearing about Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna speaking publicly about struggling with anxiety, and not feeling himself, to conversations I’ve had with family and friends. I feel like it needs to be said again, and again, that there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues. I’m going to be repeating this often throughout this post, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HAVING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

I think Roberto Osuna’s decision for opening up about what he is struggling with, which is no doubt much more common in baseball, and sports in general, than is reported, was exceptionally brave. It isn’t easy to open up about something so personal and something that can be subject to judgement, criticism, and misinterpretation.

Mental health is absolutely vital to our well-being. Without it, we are open to literally falling apart. Mental health is just as important to our being able to function and cope as physical health is. In fact, there are a number of situations where mental health may be even more important than physical health.

The dozens of disorders and diagnosis that encompass mental health are never something to be taken lightly, no matter how, where, when, or why, a person finds themselves struggling with them. Whether it’s a disorder that has been a part of your life since childhood, or whether it’s something that pops into your life in later years, it is always, repeat always, something to be taken seriously. And at no time is it ever a reflection on what kind of person you are, nor does it ever mean that something is wrong with you.

Admittedly, you may need treatment, you may even need medication, but that does not mean you are broken, or flawed, or weak, or a bad person. It doesn’t mean you should be treated differently nor does it mean you should be shunned, judged, ostracized, or criticized. It means that you need help and support, encouragement and compassion, and understanding and patience for a difficult situation or period in your life. That’s really all it means, that you need help. And there is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with that.

I can understand that there are people who have not struggled with mental health issues and may not be able to fully grasp what it means but that is no excuse to treat someone with mental health issues any differently than had they been struggling with something physical that can be seen or quantified. People struggling with mental health issues are still people.

You don’t have to have mental health issues to be compassionate.

I think it’s great that the conversation of mental health is fast becoming more mainstream, and less a “closeted” discussion, saved only for professionals. With places like CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), here in Canada, CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), also here in Canada, the annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign, and several sports and television personalities opening up about their own mental health struggles has made a HUGE impact in people starting to realize and understand that mental health is something that can affect anyone, in any capacity, or social standing, and that it is NOT something to be ashamed of.

I firmly believe that places like CAMH and CMHA are leading the fight in bringing awareness to mental health, bringing the discussion to the masses, and especially with bringing help to those in need. Addressing mental health openly has come a long way in starting to lose the stigma that has been attached to it for so long. But there is still more work to do. And it starts with us, talking to someone when we need help, and not feeling ashamed about what we are going through.

I’m not saying that you need to speak about what you might be struggling with to everyone you know and everyone you meet. It may mean only sharing it with one person, it may mean sharing it with a group of strangers at a support group, it may mean sharing it only with a professional. It isn’t about who you choose to share it with, it’s about owning that you are struggling right now with mental health issues, and that is nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I’m going to repeat that, “struggling with mental health issues is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Life is hard. Very hard. This is not new information for anyone. Sometimes trying to handle all that life throws at us, and coping with difficult situations, emotions, and difficult people can be more than just a challenge at times. It can be something that permeates your whole being, and for some, it may also mean using more destructive than constructive methods to cope. It can be something that filters down into your relationships, your work, your interests, your family and friends, and even your ability to function at a basic level. Mental illness can grip you like a vise and twist itself around you so that you feel like you can’t breathe. It doesn’t care if you have the time, or the space, or whether you’re ready or not, it can come on without warning and take you over, or take you down. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, what you do, where you work etc, you could be someone who finds themselves struggling with mental health issues just as easily as anyone else.

Mental health isn’t selective in who it affects. No exemptions or discrimination here. Mental health is an equal opportunity assailant.

I don’t want to compare mental health to physical health because I don’t think they really can be compared. The each have their own struggles, symptoms, treatments, and perspectives. But I will say that with as many differences that lie between physical/medical issues and mental health issues, there are also a number of similarities between them too. There a lot of physical illnesses or disorders that can often strike at will to whomever, whenever, without warning or cause, and mental health issues can be just as arbitrary and random in who becomes affected too. There are a number of physical/medical issues that cannot be seen just by looking at someone, and that cannot be measured with a blood test or x-ray, just like not being able to tell just by looking that someone is struggling with mental health issues.

Someone struggling with a physical/medical issue is as important to address as someone struggling with a mental health issue. One issue is not necessarily any more urgent to address than the other. Of course I understand that there are some serious medical issues that can be life-threatening and are important to treat as soon as possible, and that there are some mental health issues that are not as urgent in the moment to treat, but they are still important enough to treat, regardless.

Someone struggling with mental health issues may be able to wait a few more days for help than someone requiring urgent medical assistance, but it doesn’t mean that the person struggling with mental health issues should be dismissed or indefinitely delayed in getting treatment.

All issues that can befall us, whether physical, emotional, or mental, each have their own urgencies or not, in how and when they are addressed, but the important thing to remember is that they ALL deserve addressing.

Repeat: THEY ALL DESERVE TO BE ADDRESSED.

I would like to close this by saying to all those struggling with mental health issues, please seek help if you need it, don’t wait. And please don’t be ashamed or feel less than because you need help. Talk to someone. Share with those you trust in your own time. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, nor do you owe anyone an explanation. You are struggling and you need help. Please remember that. You are struggling and you need help.

For those who have a loved one struggling with mental health issues I would encourage and hope that you give as much time and space to your loved one as you can for them to deal with things as they need. Be compassionate and patient. You don’t need to understand someone to be kind to them. You don’t need to have experienced it to have patience for it.

Your loved one may be struggling to live at some point, and this is NOT a weakness, nor is this something to be taken lightly. Anyone feeling like life isn’t worth living anymore should ALWAYS be taken seriously and at their word. They need help. Please do what you can to help them get help.

Most importantly, for all, please remember that there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues.