Mental Wellness Challenge
2021, 04 November
My challenge from my last post was:
- Take a few minutes and answer the question “How am I doing?” There’s no right or wrong answer here – just take a minute to two for self check.
- Explore a facet of mental health that you aren’t familiar with. Take some time, just little time, to do a bit of research.
- Look for three things in your experience that you are truly grateful for. Acknowledge those things. Maybe take a moment and write down what they are and why you are grateful for them…
How’d you make out? I’ll share a little of my work with ya…
On taking a few minutes and answering the question “How am I doing?”… I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this space – My inner roommate, my inner critic, has been super active lately and I have had to invest energy into sorting out the inner dialog. I’ve been hearing a whole lot of words like “loser, useless, fake, phoney, touchy, overly sensitive, and on and on”, from inside my own head. I’ve had take time to rationalize the shit that I hear in my own self talk… (Now, JUST TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR – I don’t have other entities inside my mind – this is all my own self deprecation… I’m not “hearing voices” as it were…) So, how am I doing? I’m struggling right now. Some of this stuff is situational, some of this stuff is seasonal, some of this stuff is – oh hell – I don’t know – habitual… but its in my face right now and I am dealing with it.
The unfortunate piece of my dealing with it is that I can’t contain it all. That internal banter – the noise wears me down and I end up with some of it leaking out and splashing on the people around me. So then – what do I do when I start noticing that – I start to hermit up… cuz you see – I love the people in my circle and I don’t want my shit to splash on them… its not good kind of manure that fosters growth… its more… just a nasty…
The purpose of this part of my challenge was to have you learn a tiny little bit about some disorder. Not so that you could diagnose, treat or even recognize a specific disorder, but so that you might gain a little understanding, appreciation and acceptance of the grueling journey that someone with a mental health disorder endures every day – in the neurotypical world.
You see – it’s my experience that a great deal of my life – dealing with Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Stress Disorders, Learning Disorders and all my other Ds – is that – well – I am always looking at the world around me through a filter… I have to… not much choice… my brain is different, works different, experiences things differently, accepts things differently… So, while I’m not asking anyone to walk in my shoes… I am asking everyone to learn a little bit about that others have to take because of a brain injury or some chemical imbalance or some “difference” in their brains.
I spent a bit of time looking into borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder and the disorders that I have share a whole lot of common symptoms. So – I wanted to learn a little more about it. Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by a distorted self-image, impulsiveness, unstable and intense relationships, and extreme emotions. People with borderline personality disorder find it challenging to regulate their emotions, which can result in negative behaviors. Studies say 1 to 2% of the North American population have this disorder. BPD impacts behavior and how one thinks and feels about his or herself and others. Folks afflicted with borderline personality disorder have an overarching fear of abandonment and will take exhausting steps to prevent real or imagined abandonment. (So this is a piece of the disorder that I don’t match up with… I’m fine being alone – as I have said before – I’d be just fine with a good dog.) People with borderline personality disorder often experience unstable and super intense relationships, going from idolization and infatuation of/with someone one minute and then getting to a sense of abandonment, loss and thinking he or she does not care the next. In addition, people with BPD may experience inappropriate, intense anger and mood swings that can last from a few hours to a few days. (This is a piece of my experience that I recognize) Folks with borderline personality disorder experience periods of emptiness that can last for long periods of time. (This is another piece of my experience that I identify with) Some people with the disorder might even lose contact with reality, engage in cutting, burning and other self-harm behaviors and sadly, even threaten or attempt to take their own lives. General uncertainty and indecision can result in frequent changes to jobs, friends, goals, and values.
My brain docs – psychiatrists and psychologists came up with a different diagnosis in my case and while I experience some pieces of that disorder… Well – I have a different disorder… I certainly would not advocate for anyone to self diagnose – period. FULL STOP. It takes the experience, professionalism and applied knowledge of a trained professional to identify a mental health disorder… reading a few lines from a book or a web page doesn’t make a person qualified to do anything.
On three things in my experience that I am truly grateful for:
I am so grateful for the love of my family. For their caring and support. They have all been drug through some pretty thorny places as I travelled through my life and I am incredibly fortunate that those three people are still there!
I am so grateful for the country that I live in. Even with all the political mumbo-jumbo, and the “sides” people take, Canada is wonderful. We have freedoms. REAL FREEDOMS. I don’t have to put my head down at night wondering if a war is going to roll over me in my sleep…. I actually have medicines that I can take to help me sleep when sleep escapes me… If I’m sick, I can get care… our society is civil in comparison to a large part of the world – our neighbors to the South included. I am so grateful for the men and women that gave their lives in the conflicts of the world so that I can enjoy these freedoms.
I am grateful for the roof over my head and my home. Its nothing fancy at all, but it keeps the rain out, it keeps me warm and I put it up there myself – so I get a sense of pride in that too. I’m actually grateful for all the comforts I have in my life – so very many people don’t even have a real place to call their “home”.
Days come, days go. Good days, bad days, happy days and sad days, productive days and, dare I say, wasted days… they are all just days. Days of my experience. Some stand out, some blur, some are totally forgotten.
Reflection or melancholy? Not sure – maybe a little of both. My eldest daughter asked me for what ever photos I had of my father’s activity in WW2 for my grandsons work in his school. I have about 3 pictures of my father from that period of time and I have some scans of documents for his service to the Allied Command. My father was a “Medical Sanitation Unit” member. Medical sanitation units were often used a litter carrier and support personal for ambulance units. One of my fathers roles in his unit was the collection of corps’… not a very glamourous roll… he also drove a recovery truck (tow truck/winch truck) and an open backed “collection truck”. My father didn’t talk about his service very often and sadly, when he did talk about it he was often shit-faced drunk and became either teary or rage filled… so I never pressed the subject. So, when I was asked for pictures from his service – I went digging through my archives…(I’m the archivist for the remnants of Family Szol (Siol)) and found images my grandson could use.
The images will just be a picture for him – he never knew his grandfather – and that is both a shame and a blessing at the same time in my mind. He’ll see the picture of my father standing in his uniform with 4 other members of his unit and he’ll see the picture of my father on the back of a crane/winch truck.
And I suppose this is where my melancholy comes in… I have pictures in my collection – post WW2, once he was landed through the States on USS Marine Shark and then worked his way to Alberta to start a new life… and I see in those pictures a man who was smiling, happy, enjoying his life.
I’m sad. Not jealous, sad. I do not recall ONE, not ONE special occasion – be that a Christmas Dinner, a happy get together where my father was smiling or seemed happy from beginning to end. By the end of any function he was either drunk and angry or to looking to get home so that he could become drunk and angry… and I’m saddened. I am left with so many questions for which I will never have answers… He was burying something with the booze… don’t know what – and he’s dead now – so it won’t really ever matter – but he was burying something with the booze.
I’m reflective and grateful at the same time because well – while I still battle with the things that lead me to alcohol, I quit drinking. I am melancholic too… I look back and see all the photos of times where I should have been smiling, but the darkness that I was burying and the alcohol that I used to bury it kept me from smiling. That’s some weighty poop right there… and yup – its mine. (more work huh)
I’m left right here, right now, feeling ashamed again… ashamed that I wasted much of my life. I believe this is roommate talk… the other side of mybrain, my rational self is telling me that I should be proud of myself for abandoning the alcohol and facing my darkness on my own. I should be proud that I am dealing with my stuff… and at the same time my roommate is asking – “Are you really, honestly, sincerely DEALING with your stuff? Or are you just rolling it around on the table for everyone to see so that they might feel sorry for you?” TO BE CRYSTAL CLEAR Right here, right now – my intention isn’t to gather or garner pity or sympathy – my intention is to share what my internal dialog is like. Wild huh… Somedays this back and forth is so strong its difficult to carry on a conversation with another person… NOISE… Maybe – who knows – maybe it was my fathers internal roommate that he was trying to silence??? I know that was certainly part of the reason I’d “drown my sorrows”. I know, I know to the bottom of my soul – that ‘NOTHING OUT THERE CHANGES’. I have to do things for myself, for MY SELF!
Its been 8 years since I stopped drinking. I don’t miss the stuff… I certainly don’t miss the side effects of drinking… Alcohol, the elixir of irrational thought… crasy stuff…
So – this post is kind of all over the place – and I won’t apologize for that at all… its where my heart, mind and fingers took me.
If you struggle with alcohol or drug abuse – reach out to a professional for help. Don’t let it take another second of your valuable memories away from you. I know I quit in my own way. That’s not for everyone… From someone who is recovering from an alcohol use disorder – I’m an alcoholic and I didn’t think I had a problem, but at the same time I knew I had a problem – I was just too stubborn to admit it. There is no shame is asking for help – help is out there and it exists. I won’t sugar coat it – quitting is no walk in the park, there’s lots physical stuff to get through, and you will, then once the physical stuff is gone, there the emotional stuff to work on, and its no walk in the park either… and it never – ever really stops… but its worth it.
If you are struggling with a mental health disorder – reach out, get help, there’s EFAP programs, CMHA programs, your doctor or clergy… Help is out there.
Above all else – don’t give up!
Hold On Pain Ends
This week I challenge you to::
- Hold someone’s hand. A friend, a loved one… just hold someone’s hand – feel connected.
- Do my mirror talk exercise. Look in the mirror in the morning and again in the evening and tell the person you are looking at “I love you and I’m proud of you.”
- Make love. Ya, ok you can do that too – but let someone you love know it! Make them a dinner, a hand written card, was the floors, vacuum, change their tires over, clean a window, make their bed… hold them in your arms and let them feel your caring – your love.