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.

 

Black Fog

I should have known it would happen. I should have seen it coming. When it happens it is like a bolt of lightning and it is just as sudden and just as intense. Depression.

I have only wanted to publish positive blogs and to be honest I don’t know if it was for me or you. Did I want you to know that even though I have a major mental illness I could and was dealing with it and that I am ok or did I want to convince myself that things had changed. So many times I wish with every fibre of my being that I was cured or that I could be cured. Maybe that isn’t what I deserve.

Today the Black Fog not only enveloped me but was so thick that I almost choked on it. For those that don’t know I refer to my depression as the Black Fog. Like any fog it just descends and once you’re in it you lose perception. In the Black Fog little exists because it is like a wasteland. There is no seeing outside of the Black Fog nothing nothing else exists in any real way once inside. So once shrouded nothing else matters. Nothing penetrates it not friends, not family, not future, not the present, not God. In the fog there is no light or life. The fog is a struggle for survival. It doesn’t just feel like life and death it actually is a life and death struggle. This isn’t just like feeling sad or unhappy this is a struggle on many levels including: fear; self hate or loathing; worthlessness. Even getting out of bed is a struggle. There is weight and mass to the fog it weighs me down and wears me out. If you have never felt it I don’t think that I have the words to describe it to you and would be like me trying to describe the colour orange to a blind person. If you have never felt it I am glad for you because this I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It is evil and it is awful. If you have ever seen anything that glamorises mental illness then it is wrong! There is nothing glamorous about it. As I have already said it is a struggle. Don’t ever wish to enter the Black Fog.

I feel sorry for my friends and family who support me. They have been to my hell and back. In fact, they have brought me back from the edge so many times that they deserve a medal. I do not say that lightly nor do I say it in a joking way because only I know how much they have done for me. They put up with my worst to make me my best. I know that sentence is grammatically wrong but it is so meaningful.

Today is a major struggle. Today was almost my last day on earth. Today I struggle. Tonight I struggle. Will I win? It depends on what you mean by the word win. Living, isn’t necessarily winning because it can be hell. Will I make it to morning? Don’t know. Would it really matter if I didn’t? As the lyrics in the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby say…

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
        Nobody came
        Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
        No one was saved

When will the Black Fog leave me? When it decides to! It isn’t here on my invitation. I don’t invite it. I don’t long for it. It comes and goes as it pleases not mine.

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.