New Beginnings

After my head injury, as cliched as it sounds, the world turned grey

The color and vibrancy was slowly sucked out of my life.

I was juggling too many cognitive obstacles and impairments at the same time.

I didn’t realize how far down the spiral of depression I was slipping.

Until I hit rock bottom and couldn’t get up.

And, the endgame of depression is suicide.

I tip-toed towards that edge after two years of feeling utterly useless in every area of life.

Then I jumped.

Two years of asking for help broke me.

I felt like a burden and felt that everyone’s life – my own included – would be easier if it ended.

So, I went for a walk with a bottle of pills, a pocket knife and a map to the nearest train crossing.

For an hour I listened to Nirvana and contemplated ending my life.

But, thankfully, no train came and eventually I kept walking.

The next day, my life was saved because I admitted to a doctor that I was suicidal.

“You’re being involuntarily admitted to the Abbotsford Hospital.”

Those words saved my life.

Changed my life.

Gave me a new outlook on life.

And, that’s where the next chapter begins…

Anti-Depressants Don’t Kill Creativity, Depression Kills Creative Minds

For years I bought into the myth that “anti-depressants kill creativity.”

It is a dangerous myth that is perpetuated by quackery factories like the Scientology community and other fanatic religious movements.

The lazy practitioners of medicine and the greedy, deep pockets of the big-pharma industry don’t help by over-prescribing medication to people who don’t need it and could benefit solely from exercise, healthy eating and socialization.

But, for some of us, a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough.

Trust me.

I’ve went overboard on healthy eating and exercise regimes, I do daily meditation, I practice the wishful thinking practice of gratitude affirmations, I journal and read, I practice Cognitive Behavioural technics.

That all definitely helps.

In the short term.

Eventually, life comes crashing down for those of us with chemical imbalances in the brain.

And, it doesn’t help that there is a stigma around anti-depressants.

On one side are those people saying that “anti-depressants are a hoax perpetuated by pharmaceutical companies and doctors who receive kick-backs for prescribing them to as many people as possible, regardless of whether they need them or not.”

The other side are the people who hear the word “anti-depressant” and forever use it against you as a way to win arguments – “that’s the depression talking” – and are quick to discredit your abilities by labelling you crazy and unstable.

Then there’s the “tough-love” crowd who tell you, “just suck it up, bitch! Life is full of setbacks, so get over it and move on.”

So, no wonder so many people steer clear from seeking help for an illness that will fandangle you into suicide.

Me, on the other hand, wasn’t worried about the opinions of others; at least in regards to taking medication.

What worried me was losing my creativity because the “authorities” and “self-help gurus” kept telling me that anti-depressants would stifle my creativity.

And, creativity is one of the reasons I wake up and breathe each day.

Plus, scientist link depression and anxiety to high creativity and researchers claim that writers are 121% more likely to suffer from bipolar depression than the general population.

And, they are also 50% more likely to commit suicide.

So, I believed it was necessary to take the risk because writing wasn’t something I was willing to give up, ever.

Well, maybe not “ever…”

I believed them, because each time I wrote something – while not using medication – it got better and better.

But, that’s because I’d keep writing, every day.

Sure, depression helped me isolate myself, which provided me with endless hours of smashing the keyboard to unleash my inner rage and self-loathing, but it was at a trade-off for a normal, socially healthy lifestyle, which adds a perspective of life that the recluse can only read about .

So, consider this…

If you’re on medication and YOU KEEP BEING CREATIVE how could you possibly become LESS creative?

You can’t.

The only way your creativity will be affected by depression is if your depression kills you.

And, that’s the END GAME of the illness.

If you stay away from help and isolate yourself and write, paint, sculpt OF COURSE YOU’RE GETTING BETTER at whatever creative endeavour you pour your soul into.

But, if you’re on medication and do the same, you’ll get better, too.

That’s called practice.

And, that’s what makes you better at something.

Not depression.

So, “depression kills creativity” is backwards.

Depression kills the creative minds that refrain from using anti-depressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers or whatever other medications may (actually) be needed.

I’m Sorry

I am bipolar and suffer from social anxiety.

Phewf.

That is “my truth” and it is something I’ve rarely even admitted to myself, let alone anyone I know.

Until recently.

What’s changed?

Well, I had a nervous breakdown; the last of a string of many since a Traumatic Brain Injury that debilitated me for a year-and-a-half at the end of 2016.

It was recently my daughter’s birthday -November 18th- and we had our families over to celebrate.

My anxiety was the worst it’s been since it first started in 2003.

My palms were sweaty. Knees weak. Arms were heavy…

Wait…

Every ten to fifteen minutes I had to run downstairs and deep breathe in the bathroom to stop my eyes from shaking.

The room was spinning. I turned on the tap, hoping no one could hear me puking.

I knew I had to be by my daughter’s side, but as we sang Happy Birthday I felt like everyone was watching me and every bead of sweat pour down my forehead.

When it came time to cut the cake, I could barely hold the knife and everyone got a crumbled slice. As soon as the last piece was served I ran back downstairs and puked, again.

As soon as everyone left I collapsed. I couldn’t move. My body felt like I was encased in cement.

I felt like a failure, a worthless piece of shit father who couldn’t even keep it together long enough to celebrate my beautiful daughter’s birthday.

After two minutes of trying to lift myself off the basement floor it took another minute to walk up the stairs and stand in the doorway of our bedroom.

“I need help,” I mumbled to my wife. “I don’t want to die.”

The truth is, I’d been becoming increasingly more comfortable with the thought of suicide.

It’s been my “escape plan” since I learned it was an option in elementary school.

“Think of your daughter,” those who I’d admit it to would tell me, but the truth is I’d look at her and tell myself she’d be better off without a broken, bipolar basket-case in her life.

And, that scared me.

I promised my wife I’d go to the walk-in the next morning to get a note to see a psychiatrist, so that I could get on the proper medication after years of saying “no” to anti-depressants.

Why was I so stubborn for so many years?

Because when I was 23 I started taking the wrong anti-depressants (prescribed by my doctor) and quickly became hell-bent on suicide.

One night, not even a month after starting my medication, I swallowed all the sleeping pills that were left in the bottle.

Luckily, 30-some hours later, I awoke.

Unable to move, speak and barely able to open my eyes.

I was in bed for nearly two full-days and then I sat in the shower, fully clothed and cried.

So, back to my story…

The next day came and I couldn’t get out of bed. I was paralyzed. I could hardly pick up the phone and text my inquiring wife back with “I can’t move” to her text asking if I’ve went to the doctor.

She came home to bring me to the hospital.

A doctor came in and asked what was wrong and I said that I’m worried that if I don’t get help I was going to kill myself.

Next thing I know I was being admitted to the Abbotsford psych ward and asked to remove all my clothing and jewelry.

For the next 10 days I was a psych ward patient, stripped of my clothes, belongings and rights.

But, it saved my life.

Which brings me to the title of this post; I’m sorry.

After the medication began to stabilize my thoughts, I realized what this past decade has done to my life.

I’d been pushing friends and family out of my life because – like when I was 23 – I told myself that “once everyone has left you, it’s time to kill yourself and end this hurt.”

For years, I blamed my isolation on creative drive, avoiding alcohol, not enjoying small-talk.

I blamed friends, family and everyone but myself for my actions.

I’ve ruined friendships, relationships and rarely even spoke to my own family members.

I told myself it was because I was too busy with work, driven towards fulfilling my dream of becoming a published writer, or simply because I was an introvert.

It was all a lie.

I was depressed, bipolar and suffered debilitating social anxiety.

That’s why I didn’t return your calls, accept your invites to parties, pretended I didn’t see you when I walked passed you in the mall and deleted all my social media.

I was fulfilling a self-destructive prophecy to end my life.

And, I came close.

Again.

So, I am sorry to everyone I’ve hurt. Everyone I’ve left behind. Everyone I’ve bullied, judged or pushed away.

Bipolar isn’t an “excuse.”

I accept responsibility for my past actions and can understand if you can’t forgive me or accept what I’ve done.

But, just know that my biggest regret is losing touch with each and every one of you.

I love you all and I am sorry, so fucking sorry.

I hope that we can rekindle a piece of what was lost.

But, I understand if that’s not what you want and I’m accepting of your choice.

I love you all.

…Love Life or Die Trying is me unravelling the destruction my depression has caused in my life.

Not to dwell, but to learn.

And teach others that there is hope.

There is help.

And, you are worth it.

I’m sorry.

brain worms

There is an infestation of worms that have burrowed deep in my brain.

A mushy ball of slimy, dormant belly crawlers who are blind and unable to find food.

Until it rains.

Then they follow the pattering vibrations of the raindrops.

They wriggle and squirm to the surface  of my brain and drink the waters of my emotions.

I used to allow them to feast, undisturbed.

Their gummy bites would numb me until I was drooling from the eyes, powerless.

I was simply a limp host who’d been programed to find the wormy pollution their daily nutrients by stirring emotion outside of me.

I now see them slurping my puddles of pain.

And I know that they cannot see me.

I have begun to observe their feeding habits, their mating cycles and I’ve found the burrow where they hide their summertime reserve of moldy grub.

Now, when I’m flooded with emotions, I kneel in the darkness and wait patiently to pluck them out, one-by-one.

I drop them into a rusty bucket and use them as bait to go after bigger fish in the murky pond.

My Curse of 27

When I was eight, my mom dropped my brother and I off at school.

As we pulled into the parking lot the Canadian flag was flying at half-mast.

“Why is the flag like that?” I asked my mom.

She was slow and hesitant in her response.

“A boy in grade five,” she swallowed heavy, “hung himself in his bedroom closet this weekend.”

I didn’t understand what that meant.

“It means that he won’t be coming to school anymore.”

“Why?” I asked, having no prior insight into suicide.

“Because his girlfriend dumped him and he was sad, so he killed himself.”

“You can do that?”

As I walked towards class, I remembered when I was 4 and had my first experience with death; my great-grandpa’s open casket funeral.

My dad told me to stay away from the coffin, but while he was out smoking a cigarette I snuck in and looked at his cold, lifeless body and poked him to see if he’d wake up.

In the school parking lot that day I understood that death was an option, not just an act of God.

My child’s mind came to associate feelings of sadness with suicide.

Life took on a new meaning; a video game that – if you’re bored of playing – can be unplugged, anytime.

Game over.

Soon after, I was introduced to the music of Nirvana and felt a bond between myself and Kurt Cobain.

I’d always felt out-of-place as the artsy, writer kid.

Kurt made me feel alive in my own skin and allowed me to overlook other kid’s criticism that I was a nerd.

Kurt Cobain made it feel cool to be different.

I began to find comfort in my writing and drawing and it became a daily obsession.

I strived to write poetry that I could imagine Kurt Cobain singing in front of millions of adoring fans and made drawings I envisioned on album covers.

His music and odd-ball personality made me feel like there was hope in making a career out of creativity, something my father disapproved of, harshly.

Two years later, my mom and I were driving to the mall when the radio cut-off mid-song and there was dead-air for thirty seconds.

“I’m sorry,” the radio host whimpered, holding back tears, “that I have to be the person to tell you this.”  I turned up the volume.

“Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home this morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

The car stopped and my mom’s eyes went wide with fear as she watched for a reaction in me.

I asked her to leave the keys in the ignition and leave me alone for a few minutes, and as soon as she shut the car door, I broke down in tears.

All of a sudden, the man who I aspired to be like had killed himself.

He too must have been sad like the boy from elementary school.

If my idol – who I frantically tried to creatively emulate – couldn’t find happiness in life, I was doomed to failure.

After Kurt Cobain’s death, there was a wave of copy-cat suicides, as teenagers were shooting themselves with shotguns every day in tribute to their fallen hero.

It worried my mom, so I didn’t have to go to school for the next few days.

Instead I laid in bed and plotted my own life’s demise.

My world crumbled, from this point forward.

My mind became consumed with death.

I began to plot the end of my life; write a few books and once people start to read them, kill yourself.

That way, I’d never be forgotten.

Years later, I tattooed 27 on my wrist, as if X marked the spot…