Monday, 7 April 2014

Backspacing before Typing

Typing and backspacing, backspacing and typing some more. I will be amazed if I’m able to write this post. It’s like digging up a vault that’s been locked up for so long that I’d really hate to see it be opened again – too afraid to see all the dark stuff again and again, and sifted over and shuffled back and forth until essentially it becomes little black dust particles that will be trapped inside of me forever. Gasping for air now…

 Because as much as I want to say it’s best to keep it locked in the safe because there’s no value to it now, I can’t. I’d just be lying to myself. There’s got to be a little bit of value in the skeleton I have sitting in my closet. Perhaps it’ll bring others forward and get the help they need or to persuade others to do what is right. Or maybe to even donate to Clara’s Big Ride – my cause - for the Swift Current Branch [CMHA]. I don’t know, but whatever this post makes you feel (maybe it doesn’t even effect you, I don’t know?) I’m hoping it’ll help break the stigma that’s set around mental illness. It’s something that needs to be brought up in conversations more. Something that needs to be addressed and dealt with. Right now.

So here’s “my” story that only very few know about. (The hardest part for me to write). Warning: might come across as a pathetic pity party. Look past that. Also, I’m sorry if this bores you so much that you’d rather glue your eyes shut. Try it and let me know how it goes… haha just kidding. Don’t put glue on your eyelids. Anyway (cough procrastinating cough cough).

In 2009, in grade 9, something triggered for me. I have a bunch of plausible explanations but the truth is, I can’t just pick one and say “AH HA! That’s what caused it”, when really - I simply don’t know. I was so messed up, so lost and out of control, I have seriously no idea what made me go into “Dark Haley Mode”. I was incredibly depressed. I was trapped in this dark place where no matter how hard I try to explain it in this post – it’s not going to make sense. Not to me and especially not to you. I had all these wrongful thoughts of bad behavior, stupid ideas, and even suicidal thoughts.  I made A LOT of stupid, poor, and irrational choices. You could ask me to this day – where my brain is actually present in reality – and I still don’t know why I made the choices I made. It was, as if, for an entire year I was drugged up on some sort of weird, irritable, fantasy-like dream where I was totally disconnected from the real world and the people around me. I think a lot of people like to blame puberty for acting like someone completely foreign, alienated, and rebellious. But if there is one thing I know – this was not puberty. This was real. Real depression. Real anxiety. Real bi-polar issues. Real thought. Real dark things. Deep breath.

I had cut myself. My hands and arms mostly. Where did I get this idea from? I don’t know.

I cut because it’s been known to be a coping strategy.
I cut because I was lacking attention
I cut because everything about it felt right

But those three things that I just listed are lies – to both you and me. I didn’t cut my skin because it’s a “coping strategy”. I will be the first to come forward that if anything, it does NOT make you feel better, or as some counsellors say, “you cut because it helps you release things”. Big lie. It releases nothing but more hate, more embarrassment, and more dark choices. I didn’t cut because, as most would assume, “she’s lacking attention”. Huge lie. You can ask anybody that actually asked me about the marks on my hands/arms and they will tell you that I didn’t say “give me attention” in any form whatsoever. I’d ignore them, change the subject, make up some story quickly and move on. What the heck would I do with attention anyway? And most of all, I did NOT cut because it felt “right in the moment”. Biggest. Fattest. Doos-iest. Lie. Ever. It never felt “right”. Not even once.

So why would I do this to myself? You want to know the honest answer?

I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I don’t know why I cut myself and I don’t know as if I ever will. It is truly the dumbest mistake I have ever made in my life. If someone could’ve just slapped me seven years ago to shake me out of it, I wished they would have. With that being said, many people tried to help me. They tried to shake things up inside me but to both our knowledge, it was as good as rolling a dice and claiming whatever it rolled was the answer to all my problems.

“You’re depressed because you had a rough childhood”. Not really.
“You’re depressed because you’re dad missed a lot of your life”. No, that’s not it.
“You’re depressed because you never fit in with anybody at school”. Um, nope. Not exactly.
“You’re depressed because of X, Y, and Z. And probably A, B, and C too.” Uhhh?
“You’re depressed because you don’t know why?” Yeah. That sounds about right.
“But you have anxiety because you get stressed about being perfect”. Oh, what?
“But you have anxiety because you’re full of hate about Event A”. Is that it?
“You have suicidal thoughts because of why Haley?” I don’t know.
“I don’t know if I can help you”. Oh… okay then.
“You are the only one that can help yourself” Oh, I wasn’t sure if that was still the cliché these days.

I talked with a teacher. I talked with many counsellors. I hated it all. Because all those quotations is about what I got every week, every session, every single friggin time. I hated talking about my life. I hated being "That Freak". I still do to this day. So, again, I have no idea why I craved going to these sessions. In the end it wasn’t enough, and I just wanted more and more. Was it attention? No. I honestly don’t believe so. These “cravings” acted like a drug. I’ve threated juvenile things like “running away”. Stupid, petty things, that I can admit, look so immature that no matter what, there won’t ever be a logical explanation for.

 It took a year, probably even more for me to get better. Perhaps if I wasn’t so stubborn, I would have went to a Canadian Mental Health Association Clinic sooner rather than later so things didn’t snowball into one big ball of mess and old memories.

But instead. When I got more of a direction in highschool…When I started figuring things out and becoming slowly happier… I thought it would be best if I locked things up in a vault. Sealed it all up and buried it deep, deep down in my soul. And there it has sat since. Rusting. Eroding. And wearing away to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  And I will admit, I preferred it that way. Still do in fact!

So now. I’m speaking up. I just have to get that out of my system. Is it for attention? No. I’m sure it’s not. I’m doing this because I’m wanting to give back. Clara Hughes has been a huge inspiration to me – since day 1. What she is doing with “Clara’s Big Ride” is truly making this a cause that is close to my heart.
Because mental illness effects EVERY body just as cancer does. Some even might say that mental illness is a type of cancer. Spreading, infecting, and breaking down the lives of others, even when there’s no explanations of the “whys”. It’s personally effected myself, my family, my friends, neighbours, and even strangers.

I’m doing better now. New places and new beginnings = a new light has been lit on my path of life

Now what?

It’s time to speak up. It’s time to make a difference. It’s time to break the stigma. I’m trying my damndest to not making it over-due this time.

And I’m trying to convince you to do the same.
Are you going to do this with me?

Feel free to comment and/or private message me any questions you might have.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ringing in to BELL

I received two emails from the fundraising organizer website I’ve been using for Clara’s Big Ride on Friday. Both of them held exciting and moving information that had me bursting at the seams. I was driving home at the time when I first read them. I’ve read them at least fifty times since…

 The first was to inform me that a company called Elevator Foundations has made a commitment to match any donation made to Clara’s Big Ride by April 11th, up to $10,000 & they are interested in my “giving group” (my organization: i.e. funds for the Swift Current Canadian Mental Health Association Branch). This is seriously awesome. For those who are unfamiliar what this means, it simply means that whatever dollar you donate, it is essentially being doubled. So if you donate $20, Elevator Foundations is also donating $20 making it $40. How cool, right? $50 = $100, $75=$150 and so on. The hardest part for me though is convincing people that this is something they need to be interested in – concerned with, and persuading them and how much it’s worthwhile to donate to this great cause. This leads me to the second email I received.

It was from Bell. They are interested in my fundraising group. Not just because they are the main leaders of Clara's Big Ride but for a completely totally different reason altogether. They were wondering if they could have my permission to screenshot my page, add a few lines about my group, and were also wanting to learn about my story so they could add all of it to their newsletter and send it out across the country. They want to interview and write things about me and publish all about me. This is both satisfying and discomforting all at the same time as if the symptoms for both those reactions were put in blender and set on crushing mode for an entire half hour.

My first reaction was: COOL! They are interested in ME, they want MY story, they want to promote MY group, for MY community, for MY people. This is totally rad! Unbelievably sweeeeeet!
But as I continued to pass car after car on highway #1, I got thinking; they want to know *my* story… they want to know about *me* and why *I’m* doing this fundraising group. Isn’t that a bit personal? Isn’t this going to be weird and awkward and uncomfortable and shameful and embarrassing and dumb? I barely know my own story, my own self, my own motivations, let alone screaming it in a megaphone to the nation. I don’t want to do that! It’s private! I don’t like it! Booooo, Bell, why you do this!?
But… these were just excuses.

It’s not about ME. It’s NOT just MY story. It’s NOT just for MY group, NOR my community. It’s for my family. For my friends. And no matter how cheesy it sounds, sharing my story, my struggle, is simply for you. Everyone. For us. Because maybe me sharing mine will help others share theirs.
My story isn’t much of a “story”, but I do have one. I do have things I want to say, voice my own struggles, and break my own stigma I have with mental illness. Because it’s real, it exists, and nobody wants to talk about it. Until now.

I’m going to do it. I emailed Bell this morning. It’s happening. Today. Right. Freaking. Now. No more excuses, no more stigma.

Will you help break it with me?

Stay tuned. Because I’m currently filling a blank piece of paper in front of my computer starting with “This is my story”… because it’s about time these words can be buried and be rested in peace for good.

Check out my fundraising group if you haven’t already:
CLICK ME. I'm underlined & lookin' fine :)