Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's because he's on a leash...

God some people irritate the hell out of me.

Scenario: Me and my dog at the off leash dog park. I have left the leash on my dog as he plays, because if I don't I cannot catch him when we need to leave. I'm using it as a training tool.

A pitbull begins playing really rough with my dog. I understand the "establishing dominance" theory, and that some dog play is pretty rough. I watch and it gets too rough. The Pitbull's owner says it's okay, the dog won't hurt my dog, but I see the pitbull hanging onto and pulling at my dog's lips and soft areas of his skin. I intervene. The owner gets huffy.

After a short time out I release my dog again, this time the pitbull and two other big dogs gang up on him. This sometimes happens when too many dogs get too rambunctious together (sort of frenzied behaviour).

My dog is tired and I see the play is getting out of control. I step in again and pull my dog up and out of the frenzy. I hold my dog close to me in a heeling position, but the dogs continue to attack and now even more aggressively than before. None of the owners pull their dogs off.

The pitbull's owner yells at me: It's the leash. They are attacking because the dog is on a leash. Remove the leash!

WTF? I don't give a shit if that is true (that dogs attack dogs on a leash). As an owner, even in an off leash park, it is your responsibility to control your dog and ensure it does not hurt another dog or person.

The idiocy and of the owner continuously reprimanding me for having a leash on my dog, and then having the gall to suggest I was responsible for her dog's viciousness because of the leash, irritates me so much I can't stop thinking about it.

...I fucking hate people sometimes. It seems too many people have, lost their ability to be neighbourly, thoughtful and responsible.

Why does it keep playing through my mind and making me more and more and more irritable? I was irritable all day today and yesterday and the day before. Every little thing is angering me and setting me off. I have that sense of heartburn in my chest because the anger has become a very physical symptom...I feel on edge, easily annoyed, overly sensitive to even small injustices. I hate this feeling

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Choose to Reach Out For Help: That is Truly a Choice

Today's post is a philosophical look at suicide and life. I believe, in most instances, choosing the latter over the former even when in your bleakest, blackest moments is both the moral imperative and the choice people would make if they were feeling well. This is my opinion, but I believe there are good reasons to hold this belief. I hope the reader sees those too.

I am a great proponent of personal choice. I do not believe the State has any business interrupting a person's choice to do whatever it is they wish with their body and their life. As long as you are making your choice of your own freewill, and your choice is not harming another human being, or any sentient being, you should be able to do what you want in any given situation.

Your choosing to commit suicide may seem like it should be your choice. It is after all your body, and your life. In some instances, I believe it truly should be your choice. However, in many, probably most, instances suicide both is not a fully informed choice, nor is it one of those choices in life that harm no one else.

Even a Libertarian, those avid endorsers of freewill and choice, might agree. I suggest this because based on my initial criteria: "You have the right to choose any action as long as it is a choice based on freewill", and, "As long as it harms no other sentient being". Suicide as a valid, moral choice is limited by both.

Is suicide a choice based on freewill? I argue most times it is not. I say this in a moment of clarity, in a moment where suicidal thoughts are not floating through my mind enticing and often imploring me to end my life. Many times over the years (even a few days ago) I would have argued the opposite. When my brain is thinking clearly I can see living is important for so many reasons.

When I feel well, or even if I have brief remissions from my symptoms, I recognize my capacity to "choose" suicide is severely limited by my depression and its symptoms. It is not me who chooses to end my life. It is my illness.

I never plan or decide to commit suicide, or have suicidal ideation, or start pulling out all my hoarded meds, or plan to hang myself when I am thinking clearly. I do these things, think these thoughts, when my illness takes hold of my brain, when it renders me helpless and makes my life seem worthless and hopeless. When I believe suicide is a choice; when I believe I should be allowed to decide to die, I cannot truly choose because reason has left my mind and fear, sadness and desperation have taken over.

The scary thing is the thoughts and plans seem perfectly reasonable, and of my own freewill, at the time. It is only afterwards that I understand my capacity to choose has been impaired by my depression and my cycling mood. I cannot tell the difference between reason and false reason while in the midst of my suicidal sufferings. This is where I have learned to listen to my friends and my psychiatrist, Dr. X. I understand my brain is not "well". I need medication and therapy and extra support. I have learned that when my mind is moving, or stuck in this direction, I need external support and help. When depressed, mentally unwell, or thinking about and planning suicide I need to trust and accept an other's support and opinion.

What about the criteria of not harming another sentient being? The choice to commit suicide, actually the action of committing suicide, cannot fulfill this criteria either.

A very close friend's father committed suicide when my friend was 9 years old. He is 43 right now and he thinks of his father's suicide, is saddened by it, every single day of his life. His father's suicide led to a chain of events that may have been avoided had his father sought treatment and support rather than hang himself.

I won't go into details, but every single person in my friends family, and his family's life has been devastated by a choice his father made while his father was severely depressed. The sad thing is his Dad should have known he was not thinking clearly. His dad was a psychiatrist.

Even professionals who treat others with depression, or any mental illness, may lack the capacity to reason, to clearly choose, when it comes to their own suicidal thoughts, urges and actions. The thing is there are always people hurt and affected when a person commits suicide.

I know in my darkest moments I have sat down and written letters to my family, believing I could explain why I needed to go, and how they would eventually understand that my "choice" was best for us all. I have been so sick that I didn't care if I affected others; times where I kept thinking over and over again I just cannot take it anymore.

When I become less depressed I see how much my suicide would impact those I love. Even if I have no one, which in my depressive episodes has sometimes seemed the case, maybe my death would impact others I am not yet aware of, others who need me, or want me to live.

When depressed, or mentally ill the brain sometimes attempts to, and sadly too often succeeds at, telling us suicide is a choice; that it is the right choice, that it will not harm others. This is an illusion. The choice is not free, nor is it true others will be left unscathed.

Please, please, please...before you make a decision that is not really based on freewill and unbiased choice, a choice all too informed by depression, or an untreated/or undertreated mental illness; before you make a decision that will devastate the people you leave behind (and it will) please seek help.

There are family doctors, therapists, social workers, nurses and psychiatrist who really care about people struggling like we do. I know because I have a psychiatrist who makes my worst days survivable and sometimes even worthwhile because I am able to learn something about myself and others.

Please seek help. Every human being deserves to want to live, to have the option to live, and to build there sad or difficult life into a life that is worthy of their beautiful selves.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Anonymous

Dear Anonomous,
(You posted a comment on my recent post, "Disorganized, Disconnected and Despondent"),

You started your comment with the words, "I am struggling; I think about dying most every waking moment. I came here trying to find some reason to live..." I hope you will read more of my blog and know that there are so many reasons to live, even if the depression seems unbearable.

I am glad you felt safe post on my blog. I am very worried for you and the ones you once loved. It sound like you have so much pain inside. I feel for you, because I have so much pain inside me too.

It really struck me on two levels when you wrote, "They must sense it because they don't really enjoy being around me unless I am doing "fun" things with them such as movies, shows, or amusement parks. I don't think they enjoy being around daddy for daddy's sake. On one level I saw myself and how it seems my family needs me to be the happy, playful aqua in order for them to connect with me. Everyone wants and try very hard to avoid any reference to how depressed I am. So I feel like I need to be fake.

The other thing that struck me about your statement is that maybe I expected my Dad to play that role too. Maybe I have been too quick to judge him and too short on understanding that in divorce, and leaving the family he would have, and may still have a difficult time.

You mention both suicide and avenging those who hurt you. Those thoughts are difficult to have. I really hope you have the support you need to help these thoughts remain thoughts. Please reach out and find a therapist, or a psychiatrist who can help you.

Many many people feel like you do, or have felt like you feel. Medications and therapy can help you strengthen your love for yourself, and your compassion and love for others; even others who have hurt you.

I am not sure where you live, but most communities have mental health resources like Drs, nurses, or social workers and many others who support people with mental health issues. Also, the hospital is always there if you feel you may harm yourself or others. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know my stay in the hospital really helped me when I needed it. It allowed me the time to just be, and to have no other responsibilities to manage.

Know I am thinking of you and all around you. I pray you are able to reach out and make your life one you feel is valuable and worthwhile. It may seem impossible from where you sit right now, and so much of the time it feels impossible to me to, but change and positive growth is possible with the right support. This blog is a celebration of that belief.

You may be wondering how I can say that when, with really good support I am still depressed. Yes, I am still depressed, but my psychiatrist has really helped me create a life worth living. I forget that sometimes, but he is there to support and remind me, and keep me on track when I fall off the path. Someone can help you discover yourself too. I know it.

Please let me know how you are and

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Try, Fail, Try, Fail, Try, Fail Ad Infinitum

A strange dynamic takes place on a regular basis in my therapy. I will sit across from Dr. X. and protest that I can't cook, eat well, clean, keep up, take care of myself etc. (which prior to the protest is the case)...and then either later that day or the next I end up doing the very thing I could not do earlier.

This happened last night. On Thursday I proclaimed an absolute inability to cook, eat well etc. Last night I had two friends over, made a beautiful salad of various types of lettuce and garden greens, mangoes, avocados, eggs and black beans. I cooked fresh corn; melted brie with roasted garlic and served it with a fresh baguette. I made raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing. Both the food and the process of cooking was enjoyable and seemed easy.

I believe my whining in therapy about the things I can't do rallies the fighter inside me to actually do that for which I confess a lack of motivation and ability.

I am a fighter, but I get tired of fighting to survive all the time. Last night I ate more vegetables than I have this entire month. Unfortunately, based on previous experience I probably won't manage to succeed like that again for a while.

Despite a sense of connectedness with my friends last night, this morning I feel morose, detached, and wish I weren't here. I walked the dog and most of the time I was somewhere else; some of the time visions of my hanging myself; separating my head from my body, ending my struggle forever washed through my head. I really wish I could either succeed at getting well, or get the courage to delete myself from this life. I can't seem to manage either.

All these experiences of trying so hard to pull myself out of the black pit that is my hell, and all the experiences of failing so miserably at doing so have led to my feeling an intense sense of learned helplessness. Giving up seems like the obvious next step.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Disorganized, Disconnected and Despondent

I had an appointment with Dr. X. yesterday. Thank god. I am not feeling well at all. Sometimes it really helps to just sit across from him and know even if I give up, he won't. That is what he told me yesterday. He never gives up, even if nothing seems to work there are always other things to try. He will never give up on me, maybe change the plan, but never stop trying to help me.

I feel like giving up. I cannot mange to do my housework. My dog is completely overwhelming me and I find myself sitting in a daze starring at the wall, or breaking out into tears because I can't keep up with life.

This is extraordinarily embarrassing, because I want so badly to have a clean house and to be seen as tidy and organized; or "together and a desirable human being. However, since I moved into my place in mid-April I have vacuumed once, I have made periodic attempts to tidy my house, but if I tidy the living room I return to the kitchen and it is a disaster. If I manage to clean my studio area I walk into the living room and it is a mess again.

I am having a difficult time grocery shopping for myself, and even if I buy groceries I cannot seem to cook anymore, or eat well. I feel exhausted all the time, so when I am hungry I grab something I can just eat.

On Wednesday my food intake consisted of 1/2 a cinnamon bun, 7-8 crackers with peanut butter on them, a very white sandwich consisting of turkey, white cheese and white bread, a store bought chocolate milk, and a very stiff drink. The piece of lettuce on my sandwich was my only vegetable that day. I barely had the energy to make the drink. Lame.

Dishes, dirty clothes, art supplies, books, newspapers, dog toys and treats, art props, easels and unfinished paintings litter my house. Anything I pick up, look at or use remains wherever I last touched it. Nothing gets put away. The mess grows in leaps and bounds.

My dog completely overwhelms me right now. He is big, powerful and extremely headstrong and disobedient at 1 year old. I thought I had been working so hard to train him and ensure he becomes a well behaved dog. I spend so much time with him, I socialize him with other dogs and people. I try to teach him the basics; sit, down, stay, leave it and come. He follows my requests when he wants to. When we are alone at home. The instant another canine steps into the picture I become a invisible and ignored. I get so frustrated with his jumping and tugging on the leash; his general unruliness and his misbehaviour. I do not have the energy, or patience for a misbehaving dog. Sometimes I just break out in tears at how much my training and love has failed. I am crying just thinking about it. How could I have tried so hard, worked so hard, spent so much time and energy to ensure I have a good dog, and failed so miserably,

My husband (we have separated) used to tell me everyone has to do all the things I have trouble with; everyone has to do things they did not like to do. He used to tell me I wasn't sick, just lazy, or angry at having to do all these things. He said it so often that I started to believe it.

My new partner is so supportive and understands. Last night when I was crying about how I cannot keep up with the housework he said, "It is okay, your house isn't that messy, and it's clean. your mess is a clean mess, just some things out of place, but it's not that bad".

He's sweet. I don't believe his assessment of the situation,, but it's nice to not be berated for being to depressed to clean. It's good to know someone is understanding and gets how hard it is to keep up with the basics in life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Overwhelmed, Unable to Get Well, and Fed Up.

Waiting for a friend in my car. I am legally parked just past a bus stop, but the road is really busy and cars are weaving in and out of traffic at about 20-30 kms over the speed limit...numerous buses (at least their driver's) honk angrily at me as the pull out and pass my car

Bus Driver waiting at bus stop walks past me, towards the traffic sign so he can gain ammunition to tell me, with authority, I am illegally parked. His plan backfires. He reads it and walks back towards me...

Bus Driver: I know you are legally parked here, but it is very dangerous to stop here.

Me: I am waiting for my friend. It says I can stop. Why is it dangerous? (knowing full well why, but feeling really irritatable, angry and overwhelmed by life, and really becoming annoyed at all the jerky bus drivers honking at me, and by the the condescending tone of the bus driver addressing me)

Bus Driver: Buses are pulling out, cars are swerving to avoid you. They are driving at 70kms/hr. They might hit you.

Me: The speed limit is 50km/hr.

Bus Driver: If I were you I would be afraid to park here. I'd be afraid a car or bus might run into me or run right over me..

Me: (In my head) I see all the crazy drivers wizzing by at mach speed, barely missing my car. I noticed that not a single other car is parked in this lane. I deduced it was a dangerous place to park. I don't care. I'm sitting here precisely because I am hoping one of these cars or buses will crash into me at 70kms/hr.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In Want of Nothing

Me: If you could have any one thing in the world what would you want?
Friend: I do not want anything. I have everything I need.
Me: Really??
Friend: Yes, my life is perfect.

I sat there and listened incredulously to my close friend's answer to my question. "What do you mean", I asked. "You are on disability, you have a mental illness, you are depressed much of the time. You must want something?"

He replied, " I have a good place to live. I have great friends. I have enough money for what I need. I have the opportunity to help others each week, I have my art supplies for painting, and I have work when I am able to work. I don't need anything else.

I sat there thinking how remarkable it was that my friend felt so confident that his life was perfect. This friend had many more difficult things to deal with than I did. Their past had been much more hauntingly tragic than mine ever had. They had lived through a difficult childhood, bipolar disorder, severe drug addictions, sexual exploitation and homelessness and here they were very content with very little.

As my friend spoke it made me realize they had much more than me. They had a very strong support system in their friends and their home.

In my session yesterday morning I was expressing how empty and worthless and meaningless my life feels. Dr. X discussed with me the importance of the very same things my friend expressed were important: strong connections with a good group of friends, work (albeit not "work" in the traditional sense), service towards others, and a means of releasing and expressing my creative self.

My friend, and Dr. X are wise beyond their years. I am going to endeavor to find peace in friendship, service to others in my volunteering efforts and self expression through my art. I want to want nothing. I suspect I may find the peace I need in those three things.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Existential Nihilism

I feel empty. My life has no meaning, no purpose. I am lost. I have been lost my whole life. I will be lost forever. Nothing fills me me up, makes me feel completely connected to my world for any length of time.

There are moments in my life where I feel connected, even happy, perhaps even joyous. Those times are always short lived, impossible to hold on to. As the moments quickly disappear I slip, once again, into an intense sense of existential nihilism.

I am nothing. I have been nothing. I will be nothing.

When I was a teenager, and as a young adult I used to believe these feelings were part of growing up, part of my immature self trying to discover its own definition. Why then does the emptiness and lack of a self definition continue into midlife? I still feel so lost and undefined. I fear I will always live a life like this.

My life will have woven its way through decades of experiences and I will have known no cohesive "me". I will not have been someone. I will have no one to remember me. My life will have been one long struggle to simply manage to be. My life will have been meaningless. I will disappear as though I had never existed.

The nothingness, emptiness and meaninglessness of life disturbs me

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Paranoia and Social Anxiety

Last night I went with my boyfriend to his house to celebrate a friend's birthday. I felt anxious about going beforehand, but have wanted to get to know his friends more so really felt it was important I go.

The party was taking place in the garden. When we arrived there was an incredible local bluegrass band playing. Instantaneously I loved their music. I really wanted to experience their songs fully. However, as I stepped onto the deck and was introduced to a few people I had this intense sense of panic and fear. I wanted so badly to leave, get out of there, disappear.

I stayed. I continued to panic. no one talked to me and I was to scared to talk to anyone. In fact I felt too frightened to even moved lest someone was watching me. I felt like if I move everyone would look at me. When they looked at me they would think bad things about me.

The more I experienced these thoughts the more socially awkward I became. The more socially awkward I became, the more anxious I became. After about 1/2 an hour of this I went into my boyfriend's room too calm down and get myself together. As I stepped into the room and shut the door tears began to well up in my eyes and I began to sob.

I cannot manage these feelings. I was feeling like everyone was waiting for me to do something bad. I felt as though the second I moved or talked or tried to participate I was going to do something intensely embarrassing or stupid.

I managed to go back to the party and sit on the garden wall, alone on the outside edge of the garden; an outsider looking in. I listened quietly to the band and tried to remain as innocuous, as invisible, as possible. I do not understand feeling like this given earlier in my life I loved parties, meeting new people, and experiencing new things.

My boyfriend came and sat next to me. He seemed to feel the social anxiety too. He invited me upstairs to the upper deck, away from the people, but still technically, at the party, albeit from a distance. I became so intensely relieved I began to cry again. He understood, and said he felt the same way.

He asked if I wanted to leave. I did not really want to, because I understand how I need to face these fears to get over them. I said as much. He told me he could not stay any longer and needed to get out of there as he was intensely anxious.

Secretly I was relieved he wanted to go. We came home and took my dog for a late night walk. Quietly, alone together on a warm spring night; only the darkness surrounding us...that was relaxing and fun.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Me: I feel completely out of control
Dr. X: What do you have control over?
Me: (Thinking hard, but finding nothing) I feel like I have no control. My mood is out of my control, my anxiety, everything.

...so went a portion of my therapy appointment yesterday.

Most of the time I feel completely out of control, yet control; over myself, my life, and my finances, my destiny is one of the things I desire most. It is also one of those qualities I believe to be so important to my happiness.

To me control over me and my life means I am driving my life, not the other way around. It means I have both personal freedom to choose the life I want, and a responsibility to make this life the best it can be; both for myself and others. It means existentially I am responsible for creating a life I want to live.

My seeming inability to do this; my being driven and directed and thwarted by my mood disorder and its symptoms, adds elements of anger and frustration, stress and anxiety, to all the depression and mood cycling I experience.

My symptoms create intense and never ending death anxiety in me; the anxiety, sorrow, fear and anger that I will not succeed in making my life, and living my life, the way I want it to play out. I will never understand, experience, discover or live the life I am meant to live. I will stagnate in this version of purgatory or hell for the balance of my life.

I will die. I will not have accomplished anything that is real; anything I chose as opposed to activities, ways of living, occupations, and the failure to have an occupation. I will experience nothing except those things that were chosen for me. My life will have been a lesson in predetermination, rather than the freewill so many of us covet in the 21st century. That is not acceptable, desirable, or even an option for me. I want to choose my life.

So I fight, and I battle against nything that threatens to take my freewill away from me. This means I rage against my mood disorders symptoms. I battle its pull on me, its hold over me. I want so badly to believe I have a choice; to show myself I can change. I do not have to be this way. Unfortunately my belief in freewill means I must be choosing this way of life. I do not understand why I continue to be so depressed after all these years when I want so badly to change.

Do we have the power to change and direct our lives? Do our mental illnesses control us? If our mental illnesses are chronic, cycling, or always return, no matter what we do...is it worth fighting to create a life based on freewill, or is our life's path predetermined by our broken brains?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

An Outcast

Caution: May trigger. Suicidal thoughts/plans

I am severely depressed right now. I have been crying off and on. I feel disconnected, detached and isolated/isolating. I feel as though I am not really here and have not been for a long, long time.

I feel alone; that aloneness that comes from always feeling like an outsider, like an other, someone unknown by others and someone unknown to themselves.

I have had thoughts of suicide more frequently over the past few weeks, but yesterday and today the thoughts felt unbearable; unendurable.

Today I spent a long time thinking how to commit suicide and have my dog taken care of. The thoughts had no content about how to care for myself, only my dog.

I'm not sure how to protect him and allow myself to go. The worry is that I will kill myself and no one will find me for a long time and my dog will starve or die of thirst. No one will find me because I am alone. No one ever looks for me.

Today I kept looking at all my hoarded meds...thinking if I took them all surely I would die...but as I thought that and prayed for an ending my mind moved into more violent thoughts.

I kept thinking about maiming myself, stabbing myself, slashing myself. It seemed so easy to do. I kept envisioning how the slicing and stabbing would open me up, pour all my bad blood out of me, cleanse me, calm me...the blood flowing out of my body slowly draining me of sadness and pain.

I crawled into bed and fell asleep for a few moments. When I woke the pain and the thoughts were still there, but had lost some of their magnetic pull. I laid there for 1/2 an hour and decided to see if I could visit a friend, just to get me away from myself. I called her and invited myself over.

I didn't tell her exactly how much pain I was in, but I did ask for company and caring. She helped me immensely, just by being there and listening. I feel although I have slipped in terms of mood and returned to the dark side today I utilized a healthy coping technique at the end of all the unhealthy ones...I called a friend for help, and she was there for me. Since I returned home my thoughts have slipped into darkness again, but I remember the time spent with my friend felt good.