I HURT. I BLEED. I WANT TO DIE.

The very mentioning of death and more specifically the idea of killing one’s self usually brings out the ghouls and goblins, the freaks and the curious. It’s ok as I pretty well fit into all of those groups. You could say that I am good at blending.

When did suicide become a thing? When did suicide become my thing? It feels like it has always been an ever-present friend. Suicide, a friend? you may well ask. A friend or a comfort whatever you want to call it has been with me for almost as long as I can remember. I remember the first clarity of thought I had about the idea of suicide so strap in because that’s where I am about to dive back to.

It was almost 50 years ago. It was my 7th birthday. I was lying in bed not wanting to leave the warm cosy confines of my bed. I was living at 33 May Street, Constitution Hill. My birthday falls in the month of June. It’s cold. It’s always cold. It’s cold enough to freeze Hell over and turn it into an ice skating rink. I get asked, “aren’t you getting up for your birthday?” My reply, “I don’t want to turn 7, I want to stay 6”. If it were just that sentence you might find it cute or even adorable coming from the mouth of someone so young almost like a Christopher Robin statement from A.A. Milne’s, Winnie The Pooh series of books. It was in those moments that the idea of suicide crystalised in my mind. It was what I wanted. I was a child in the wrong world. I was a child in a violent world.

There is a name that comes back to my mind on so many occasions and each time it strikes me down with white fear. That name is Vic. More fully that name is Victor. A soccer coach. I pretend I can’t really remember. I pretend that it is just childish nonsense. I pretend. What is the use in remembering? Seriously, what the hell good is a memory that dwells on evil. This part of my past I have long stopped wanting to remember or talk about and in fact, I have gotten to the point where that door is nailed shut and plastered over. I can still hear the laughter from family and others when it got to the point that when he came to visit I ran screaming and crying only to hide under my bed until I was totally sure he had left.

There was this one day when I was told that, Vic, had left and that it was safe to come out. Hmmm, there was something odd in the way that it was said. I waited and waited. In the end, I came out from my hiding spot. As I left my room and turned into the hallway, there he was! I could hear the laughter for a split second before I screamed and went running to my hiding place. I wore the huge lump on my forehead as a slammed into the bed frame as I went to dive under. I think I blacked out for a moment. When I came to I scrambled to get to where I was safe. No one understood. People laughed. I cried.

Yes, I remember when suicide crystalised in my mind as a real thing and a good thing. I knew when the self-loathing began. I remember when innocence turned to guilt. I know when the desire to play sport or go to training stopped. I remember things, Vic, that no child should remember.

 

A Time Like This

5:30AM! I blinked more than a few times as I looked at the time. My mind was in disbelief. It cannot be 5:30AM. It is too dark. I have had one of the worst night sleeps imaginable though it was more of a string of punching the pillow and then tossing from one side to the other. While I hadn’t slept and was awake I also didn’t want to get out of bed. I looked over at my Assistance Dog Buddy, and said, “you don’t REALLY want to go for a walk yet do you?” Buddy’s response was to jump on the bed and back down a couple of times. Hmmm I guess he did want to go for a walk. So up I get and off we go.

I walked out into the morning after. Yesterday of 46+ degrees on the Celsius scale which would be around 116 in Fahrenheit. It was hell hot. I don’t handle heat well. I am not a summer kid but love autumn and spring weather the best. Crisp air is great! I love autumn for the colours of the leaves turn on the trees and listening to the fallen one’s crunch as I walk. Spring holds the promise of growth and renewal. Summer in Australia is relentless. So today as Buddy and I walked out of the house and up the driveway in the grey early morning light I felt like I survived a major natural hazard.

img_20170212_062335575The air was without sounds! Things were quiet. No cars. No music. No people. Nothing! I love it when there is no one around. I am not a people person. I also love the soft pastel light just before the sun comes up.  As we walk we see it slowly happen. Silently. Ever so slowly, kind of like a smile the creeps on one’s lips when you remember a happy memory. The red begins to tickle the clouds like a lover slowly running theimg_20170212_062739382_hdr tips of their fingers on the cheek of the one they are kissing. It is only lightly at first. For me it is like being part of a precious moment as the day is ready to appear out of the darkness of night.

img_20170212_062731265_hdrI look up and see the day break. It is a wonderous thing. To feel the breeze on my face and to hear Buddy walking over dried grass and fallen leaves is like beautiful music to my ears. With my mental illness there are times of great struggle to keep on living but in this moment I am content. Something I rarely feel. I am looking at something that will never ever happen again. Sure there will be more sunrises but there will not be another one today. I am witness a miracle. How can I be right in the middle of suburbia and still feel at one with the natural?

I wish I could begin to describe how my skin tingled and my heart raced as I watched God give life to this day. This day when so much would happen for so many. People will be born today and their mothers will know the img_20170212_063702029_hdrjoy of holding their baby for the first time. Someone somewhere will laugh or giggle. People will wake with blurry eyes after the struggle that was the night before. Some might have to clean up the mess after the night before. Without a doubt what will happen today will become the memories in times to come.

img_20170212_063542061_hdrSummer days in Australia are often heralded in by a riot of colour and light. Today was no different. This is one of the most iconic things to see as an Australian, the dawn of a new summer day. The colours are bold and brash. The heat is already beginning to build. There are many times I wish I could be somewhere cooler but at seeing this sight my heart knows I am an Australian. I once heard someone say that whenever a scot hears the bagpipes they long for home but whenever I see a day like this begin I know that in ever fibre of my being I am Australian and glad to be alive!img_20170212_063422217

This too shall pass…

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Lately I feel like I been ten round with Muhammad Ali! I have been fighting the feelings of or desire to suicide. TBH it is my greatest longing. I am trying to fight it. I am doing everything I can. I even went to a local public mental health facility for day patients yesterday and sat in the waiting room. No one talked to me. No one questioned why a guy with a dog was there for a couple of hours. No one noticed me. LOL no one even noticed Buddy. Let’s face it most people are just there for the pay like any profession but I just need to be somewhere that I knew I wouldn’t harm. It worked so yeah.

Today I saw my psychiatrist up at St John of God, North Richmond. I don’t know what it is about this place but neither my Assistance dog or I like it. Maybe it is to clean and sterile. I don’t like engaging with people but everyone who passes you at St John of God asks the same question “how are you” and i so want to answer with mad or insane or oh you can see me but I don’t. For those just catching up with my story MI means mental illness. I am a fairly complicated case. Schizoaffective Disorder which means I am 50% bipolar with     50% schizophrenic, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, paranoid personality disorder and ever encroaching agoraphobia. Anyway, I see my psychiatrist: I yell and swear and tell him I am ticked off at the MI professionals that because if you can string a sentence or two together or have a shower they think compliance and me using my words mean nothing to worry about (read cured). Screw that! He is a very good man though anti any religious faith. Nevertheless, I told him about this incredible desire to suicide and basically, “this too shall pass.” He was like, “well you know about the cycles and how you rapid cycle and you have been here before and survived and that was because it passed and you know that this too shall pass”. Really, after they have administer medication there isn’t much else but these few words of “this too shall pass”. We are pushing the boundaries of the amount of anti-psychotics meds and within range of antidepressants but mood stabilisers haven’t changed in a couple of years. Basically, our session was me yelling, swearing, crying and giving Buddy snacks. Oh if you don’t know I also have a psychiatric Assistance Dog whose name is Buddy.

Then it a pleasant trip back to Blacktown so I could go to Centrelink to put in my receipt from my psychiatrist. Always a for joy experience.

Then an afternoon session with my psychologist. Oh yeah a big MI day! I do like her as well. If you don’t like them as people then they’re as useless as an ashtray on a motorbike. I tell her about my desire to die, she seems a little more concerned or at least animated. I slip in that I have chosen an exit date. I won’t tell anyone the date but did tell her it was months away. Just in case you are wondering, we cannot forcibly lock anyone in an MI facility even if they want to suicide. It is not an illegal act. It is not an against the bible or God act either. Back to the story. We go way over time. She’s a good egg. She cares. She wears great shoes.

Went and sat and had coffee at one of the coffee places in the shopping centre to contemplate a question that the psychologist asked me: Do you have any hope? Response: No not really, no.

If you are Christian then you are going to jump all over me saying Jesus is your hope. You have the Holy Spirit. The hope of heaven. The hope of being well. The hope of what God has in store for you. Yeah, thanks.

When the Black Fog of depression descends, nothing exists. Nothing. No hope. No future. No present. No past. No friendship. No love. No caring. No life. No desire. No peace. Dare I say no God? The heavier and darker the fog the more hopeless things are.

I apologise that this is not a happy I conquered all type of blog post. I will never be cured in this lifetime. I know that. I have lived this hell since my first suicide attempt in my
pre-teen years though most at the time thought it was rambunctiousness gone awry.

Oh damn I told her about the sexual abuse when I was a small child and being raped at 15. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Where does that leave me? I still have colour pencils and colouring books.

Light in a dark place

Recently I have been contemplating the good rather than the bad of my mental illness. This all started out from a question that my GP asked me: Can you see any positives in your disorder? No, not in my life but my disorder. If I had to answer the question: are there any good things in your life? I am prepared for that one but this took me completely by surprise. I mumbled some incoherent response but it started me thinking about the question. Most if not all the questions are about the negative and bad areas of my mental illness. As I have mentioned before my illness is multi-faceted and includes:

  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Generalise Anxiety Disorder
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Panic Disorder

I have also been seeing doctors, be they GPs or psychiatrists about my mental illnesses since I was 13 (not to mention a passing parade of counsellors, psychologists and others who put out a similar shingle). After all this time questions are nothing new and up until this resent meeting with my GP all the questions had been pretty much the same: how you doing; how has your week been; have you self-harmed (as in cut myself); have you had thoughts of suicide; do you have a suicide plan; blah, blah, blah. I am sure that you either get the picture or are used to having these questions asked. However, I had never been asked the question “can you see any positives in your disorder” before. I couldn’t dismiss it nor could I let it go. Once my mind locks on something, I can never let it go. The words kept echoing in my mind. If I slept, I woke up to this question. The voices in my head played havoc with me as I continued to ponder these eight (8) words though it morphed into CAN I SEE ANY POSITIVES IN MY MENTAL ILLNESS. Slowly but eventually the answer came as a yes. I must admit at first it was a faint “maybe” but the more I dwelt on the question the firmer that the yes became.

Positive No.1

Friends. I have never had such amazing friends. If someone puts up their hand and says I am a friend to someone with mental illness then they are an amazing person. The people that I call friend have seen me at my best and worst, at my highest and lowest points and love me anyway. They have sat with me in my depression and run beside me in my mania phases. They have listened while I have shouted and screamed at the voices that they tell me they cannot hear. They have driven me to the emergency ward of the hospital when they feared that I may off myself.

My friends have stood by my decision to look into getting a psychiatric service dog. One friend use to print out information about various breeds of dogs for me right when the idea was in the embryonic stages. When I could talk about nothing else but getting an assistance dog, they listened patiently and never once told me to shut up. While they may not have been able to see the benefits or impact that a mindDog (www.minddog.org.au) may have they encouraged me to keep going. Once my psychiatric assistance dog Buddy, became part of my life they accepted him. At no time did they ask me not to have him with me or tell me that they were embarrassed that he was with me.

My friends are awesome and if you are friends with someone with a mental illness then you are awesome too.

I think that this is summed up best by Stephen Fry, the great British actor and comedian who once said, “If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.

Positive No.2

The way that I think. Ok, this one may seem odd but I look at issues differently. I don’t see the glass as half empty nor do I see it as half full but I see it has something in it and more interested in what it is. If someone tells a joke I analysis it. I need to know why those two guys were in the bar or the logic of it. This part can frustrate some people that I talk to but my brain works differently and to me that is a positive. I used to try to blend my thinking to those I was in conversation with but over time, I have learnt to embrace my difference. I am able to see that there are not two sides to an argument but so many more.  Sometimes this makes answering someone’s question quite difficult because I see more to it or my answer comes from a different point of view to what was asked because of how my mind works. To be honest I do love that I think about things differently to other people. Often people say, I never thought of it that way. So yes, this is a positive.

Positive No.3

Creativity. I see the world differently and helps with my creativity. I have found others with mental illness to be super creative too like my friends: Dawn-Joy, Ell, Arielle and Sally. These are four of the most creative people I have ever met and propel me onto a greater depth of creativity.

I choose many creative outlets like spinning fibre into yarn, knitting, colouring in and photography. My greatest creative outlet is photography because it lets me express what I think or feel about the world around me. My creativity helps me see, feel, express myself and connects me both to the world around me and to others. It is something that I love.

Positive No.4

Introspection. As someone with mental illness, I am asked an incredible amount of questions. I always need to know how I felt in a given moment to answer the question “how did you feel about blah, blah?” Over time, I have become good at knowing what is happening with my thoughts and emotions. I have learnt to be introspective and self-regulating. While it is true that the illness sometimes takes away this ability, I am able to know that when I start to consume a large amount of sugar or crave sweet foods then a depression is looming. When in the depression my introspection may falter, I am able to know what is happening in the lead up and to take precautions if I can or at least warn others about what is happening.

I am so connected to my thoughts and feelings and I like that.

Positive No.5

It is me. I didn’t ask for mental illness but I have it. In fact I was first diagnosed when I was 13 by a very switched on GP who sent me to see a psychiatrist. I have lived with being ill for 41 years. I hate the illness but it is part of me. In at least some ways it makes up who I am today. So I guess since I don’t like the illness I have to admit it has shaped the adult that I am.

Recently, I have started to do talks to other groups like Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, V.I.E.W Clubs, and PROBUS Clubs about mindDog and mental illness. Without the illness, I wouldn’t have Buddy (my ace service dog) or be able to talk to groups about this stuff.

Epilogue

While there are many, many, many negatives and struggles with my mental illness, I am glad my doctor challenged me to think. Anyone struggling with mental illness will tell you that it isn’t fun or wanted so please don’t hear in any of this that it is ok because it isn’t. I just wanted to be able to look from a different point of view even if only for a moment.

I am me. I have mental illness. I am alive. I struggle. I am me. I ride unicorns.

What’s it worth?

What is a life worth? Can it be summed up in a monetary value? Is that all we come down to some dollar and cent amount. I haven’t climbed to be the top of any profession or found a cure for any illness. I haven’t been inspiring nor could I ever say that I have inspired anyone. To be honest I stumble through this life like a fool punching at shadows on a dark night.

When I look at my life I ain’t worth much at all. If I had to put a monetary value on my life it wouldn’t be enough to buy a maccas meal, let alone go to a fancy restaurant. Should look for my worth? Is it so simple?

I once had dreams of doing great things. When I was a kid I remember not being able to make up my mind of what I wanted to do as a job. Would I be a police officer or an ambulance officer? I ended up being neither. I wanted to change the world. After having seen all the violence that was directed towards women, when I was growing up, I often thought wouldn’t it be great if I could do something to protect women. Again, I did nothing. A lot of people have goals while I have pipe dreams.

So after all my dreams what happened? The world keeps spinning and people keep hurting. Nothing’s changed and no-one’s been saved. I will never rally an army or say the words people will remember and quote. I don’t inspire. I don’t move mountains. I don’t help people to be better than they thought they could be.

Do you ever, like me, ask the question: So why am I here? It is a question that plagues me. It is like finding out the answer will unlock a door to understanding and happiness. I don’t know why it is even important but to me it is. I am getting to old to do anything great or noble or passionate.

I have no legacy to leave the world. I have no children to carry on the family name. I have no family. I never married. Love alluded me. Oh I do still harbour a hidden desire that I will one day be loved and that I can love but meh it probably won’t happen but it doesn’t stop it being a desire.

Life has been more of a passing parade than a party that I had an invitation to.  The parade has moved on. The crowds have all gone. All that’s left is the rubbish to pick-up. One day I will be swept out with the rest of the trash. Gone. Forgotten. Without trace.

Death doesn’t sadden me. In fact it is something I long for. What saddens me right at this moment is that I have lived 54 years and some months, weeks, days and hours and have nothing to show for it. I don’t mean money since money has never interested me nor has it been a driving factor in my life. Sure I need it to keep a roof over my head to get food to eat. My driving factor was the one that scared me the most, people. I always wanted to help people. People are the most amazing, complex, infuriating, maddening, loving, beautiful thing God made. To see someone hurt, physically or emotionally and to do nothing is a crime. To live to accumulate wealth but not help others is arrogance.

To those I could have helped but didn’t, I am sorry.

To those I did try to help but got things wrong, I am sorry.

To those who were also beaten by bullies and I didn’t come to your aid because of my own fear, I am sorry.

To those I went to school with who also had parent’s torture you and I didn’t ask you to stay at my place, I am sorry.

To those who were also lied and gossiped about and I didn’t stop it, I am sorry.

To those who needed me and I wasn’t there, I am sorry.

I will try and get it right the next time. I know that doesn’t help you or what happened in your past but I am sorry.

The problem is that life is a one way road. We cannot go back. We can not undo. We cannot change what has happened. I wish I could go back and help stopped what hurt you. Stop the bruising of your heart and soul. To put a band-aid on the boo boo of emotional scarring. I am a nothing and a nobody but I wish I could have supported you when you needed it most. Your life was and is worth so much more than I was able to give.

I hope your heart has healed and that life has been good.

Where does the hate come from?

Where does the hatred come from?

I don’t mean the hatred of other people, races or religions. I can honestly say I don’t think that I hate, truly hate anyone. I also cannot say that I am always at harmony with those around me but I don’t hate them.

The hate that I am talking about is the hate of self. Where does it come from? I have spent many hours throughout my life asking the question why was I born. I am not a great thinking. I am not a great artist. To be honest I don’t really do anything well. If mediocrity had its lowest common denominator then I would be it. People don’t understand my self deprecating humour, I have often heard statements like ‘stop putting yourself down’. If I don’t say it, you’ll be thinking it so I say it. That humour is to get the truth out in the open.

From the moment that I read Job chapter 3 I thought that it could be words I penned about me. In case you don’t know Job, it is a book in the Old Testament of the Bible, just to give you a taste of what I mean here is an extract:

After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’ That day–may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night–may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?

The chapter is longer but you get the idea. I have always thought that my birth was a mistake or putting into more plain english I should never have been born. Did I some how slip through God’s quality control? I know I am a malfunctioning model because of my mental health issues. I don’t know if I am incapable of love but I know I am not worthy of it. 

Where does the hate come from?

From the age of 6 I said that I would never marry and so far I have kept my word. I grew up in a very violent family though to be honest it was more directed from my father towards my mother. My earliest memories of them are bloody fights (yes, where blood was spilt). From the time I could walk I was always trying to get in between them to stop my mother from being hurt. Was that were the hate come from? Was it my fault? To this day I don’t know and telling me that I am not to blame really is stupid. Why would I marry only to perpetuate this type of relationship? I wouldn’t, no, I couldn’t, bring a child into the world and have them see what I have seen and felt. I have never been to war but have lived in a  battle zone!

John Lennon penned these lyrics:
How can I give love when I don’t know what it is I’m giving?
How can I give love when I just don’t know how to give?
How can I give love when love is something I ain’t never had?

Love is a very hurtful, deceptive thing.

Where does the hate come from?

This is a deep down loathing. No, this isn’t a little thing of oh I didn’t do that well because I do nothing well. You may think that is just a pity party but what I am trying to express goes much deeper than that. I deserve nothing because that is what I am. I am not expecting you to understand. I am not sure I understand. I am just expressing.

Where does the hate come from?

I don’t think that this hate comes from my parents or siblings or those who thought it was fun when at school to bully me. Those long days of relentless bullying by teachers and students. We moved so many times that the notion of friends became like a dream, a desire, something longed for but never realised. We moved so much that friendships or what I might call friendships became transitory. When people say they are catching up with old friends I am bewildered by the idea.

Where does the hate come from?

Is it being born into an Aboriginal family but having white skin or as close to as possible. Does this hate come from not feeling I belong in either society the Aboriginal or the European? Does it come from clawing at my skin to find the Aboriginal skin? Does it come from people not seeing who I really am? If I mention my culture people either eye me suspiciously or ask the dumbest questions. I am denied full access to either.

Where does the hate come from?

Does it come from the desire not to be a gender. Being male is to me a shameful thing. It is men who hurt women. It is men who rape. It is men who destroy the land in a desire to be wealthy. I have never wanted to be female. I do not desire gender reassignment. I just don’t want to be male. I constantly see the things males do and I don’t want to be connected to that even by gender. Men breed children, don’t love them and often leave. There was what was called a joke when I was growing up, the Australian male is like the wombat: eats roots and leaves. Basically it is true. Men drink to feel good about themselves or to numb the pain and then inflict it on other people.

Where does the hate come from?

It comes from deep down. It is within me and without me.