Today is World Mental Health day, Wednesday October 10th 2018. For some reason today has felt like more of a Monday than a Wednesday, a random guy at the JJ Bean this morning commented “No it’s actually Tuesday!” before correcting himself and muttering off into the lobby with a quiet shuffle. Most of today has been pretty mundane, went into the office, made the PowerPoints, checked the emails and did my job. In the late afternoon, I went to Ryerson to participate in a thesis project for a friend of a friend. This is the second thesis thingy I’ve participated in this month. The first one was a facetime interview with a dear friend in Vancouver, we talked about life and memories and relationships with objects; it was a nice chat. The session this afternoon was a little different, it was in the student photo studio at Ryerson. The space was odd and dark, it looked like something out of a movie. Other students scurrying in the dark working on projects, I was led to the back of the room to a space that was warmly lit with a small stool place directly in front of a camera on some massive industrial instrument that looked way to massive to hold such a tiny object.
He asked me questions about my life, my ideals, my experiences, and in-between words there was a flash and the distinct noise of a shutter. Talking to a new person can be fascinating sometimes, I always enjoy hearing new ideas and perspectives. He made an observation many people mistake with me, he assumed I was educated somehow because of how I speak. There wasn’t anything traditional about my education, there is no paper that declares what my capabilities are, nor crippling student debt to deal with. My education came with a different cost and is still ongoing today, it will only cease when I do. His questions brought us across a broad spectrum of discussion, it made my mind wander. I’m closer to 40 than I am 30 and only now am I starting to understand who I am, what matters to me and what I would like from (in) my life.
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started to shape an idea of who I am. The process has been brutal at times but the hardest part has been the relationship with myself. For a long time I hated myself, hell I’ve even loathed myself. This negative narrative reinforced by different experiences and people over the years that helped to cement this awful shitty image of who I thought I was. A fat, ugly, worthless, disgusting piece of crap with bad teeth and gross skin because of compulsive picking from childhood into adulthood. Lying about everything “what’s that mark on your arm?” oh I burned myself with a cigarette, stop looking at me. I’ll go to the gym, I’ll start eating better, I’ll take my vitamins; nope, I’m a shit bag. How could I think anyone else would see me in a different light when I saw myself in such an awful way, every day, for as long as I could remember. I wanted to not exist, struggled with suicide, depression, and anxiety. I’ve lied about all of it, even when the lies were so shitty that everyone could see through them, I lied; because I was scared, I am scared.
I was terrified to share my feelings, what if it made people hate me, what if they thought I’m nutty, what if I get locked in the crazy farm and lose my job. All of these things scared me and justified the lies, push through it’ll get better. Wrong! It won’t get better unless you do something about it. Putting a band-aid on a festering wound won’t heal it, it’ll give you an infection and then you’re right fucked. If the band-aids I used had a brand it would be Fear and I purchased them in wholesale quantities, by the time I accepted help I don’t think there was much left. I was raw, broken and worn down. Maybe that is where I needed to be, no more energy for defenses, just time for the medicine. Pills scare me, I’ve never had a good experience with them. What finally worked for me though was counseling, I talked to my counselor for years. She saw me through some really brutal times and she helped equip me with tools to protect myself. I wanted to be better and I felt like I was worth the effort.
I still have shitty days and struggle with all of the usual suspects. Their voices aren’t as loud as they used to be but they are all still there, fighting for mindshare, waiting for a moment of weakness, a sliver of dark. I don’t think I am a shit bag anymore or think that I’m ugly, I still struggle with nice compliments but I’m learning to accept them more gracefully. I do my best to be mindful and gentle with myself because I deserve it and if I can’t provide it to myself, I can’t accept it from others. There is still so much to learn about myself and the world we all share. It would be nice to explore it all, it’s a pleasant idea, a lofty goal of sorts. If you’ve read this far, thank you. Your time is a gift, it’s the most precious thing we all have to give, the one thing we can’t get more of. I hope on this World Mental Health Day that you are doing well. If you aren’t, that is ok too. You need to do what feels right, just know that you’re not alone. If you’d like someone to talk to, drop me a line. Always happy to talk to new people and share what I can.
I’m still scared, but I’m learning. Learning to love and accept who I am and what I’d like to be.
I’ve posted this before but it is fitting for today. If you are really struggling and need help please look at the contacts below.
The new Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), by Crisis Services Canada, enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support by phone, in French or English: toll-free 1-833-456-4566 Available 24/7
For numbers in your own province click here
For readers in the United States click here
For friends in the UK click here