Will I Ever Accept Unconditional Acceptance

 writing sad girl

 

 

I have never felt like I fit in. I have never felt like I belonged. I have never felt unconditional love. I am terrified of abandonment. I have struggled with these issues my entire existence and felt a hole in my heart and soul that has yet to be filled. One therapist said it is common with later age Adoption and in my case, severe neglect and abuse at a critical age in development. Another said it was because while bouncing through the system, I was not in one place long enough to form the type of bonds necessary to establish meaningful and trustworthy relationships. The finger has been pointed at everything from my BPD to my depression and anxiety, and maybe it is a combination of all of the above, or perhaps, it just is. We spend so much time trying to speculate the reasons for everything that has happened to us, believing that if there were a tangible explanation, we could more readily accept it, deal with it and move forward.

I always knew I was adopted. Although many doubt the possibility, I remember the first day I was left to stay at my adoptive parent’s home. I think the only reason I can recall is because of the trauma involved; the fear of yet another “family” to hurt, neglect, abuse and then return me. This family turned out to be permanent for me and despite the years of abuse inside and outside this home, I knew that my mom loved me to the extent of her abilities, however, I still never truly felt like I belonged there either.

It is an odd feeling, not having any true sense of belonging or not knowing if you ever will.  You feel you should not have been born, and a piece of you believes you will never be accepted by this judgmental society which is permeated with stigma and ignorance. It is as if there is a hole in your soul causing an incessant pain you innately know cannot be filled, but you’ll try anything and everything to do so. Many survivors of childhood sexual assault go through a period of promiscuity at some or many points in their lives. Although the experiences are severely traumatic, they ingrain in you a sense that negative attention is still better than no attention, hence the habit of looking for comfort in a self-destructive manner. There are drugs, and plenty of them. Some make you numb for hours, others for days, the common factor being they provide some relief and a break, albeit temporary, from the pain and emptiness, which is what you seek so desperately. For me the emptiness was so prevalent and compounded with the abuse, that death seemed like a state of peace and belonging. I am not religious, nor was raised in any denomination, but the thought of heaven to my 8 year old self was an ocean, a beach next to a soccer pitch with my dog and friends playing, carefree and void free. These thoughts have turned into actions a few times in my life, obviously with no success, but, as the hole isn’t filled the thoughts never truly wane.

I tried teams. I became good at most sports and accomplished in others with soccer becoming the first true sense of belonging I felt. Teams meant acceptance, purpose, reward and what I longed for most, something to be connected to. This had to be the thing that would finally make me whole and fill the vastness that had engrossed my very being. I played for over 30 years; travelling, meeting new people and finding a renewed sense of self confidence, but my soul remained as it always was, the hole inadequately plugged.

Amongst the confusion and chaos in today’s world, many if not most places have lost the sense of “community”. Long gone are the days where we are as concerned about our neighbor’s wellbeing as we are our own, the days we offered a helping hand to someone in distress rather than recording it on our phones. Most people know a bit about the people right next door, but how many people know more than a few families on your street? We are a society consumed with mistrust, materialism and egoism, replacing the certitude, modesty and empathy of days past. We don’t talk, we text and email. We are enthralled with the virtual world and its anonymity and sense of safety while hiding behind a screen. We have hundreds of Facebook friends, yet how many do we actually even know, and of those, how many are true friends? Another attempt to fit in, to find belonging failed, and sometimes when we search for something for so long to no avail, we give up. The hope in you is shattered, the diagnosis carries the weight of world, the void becomes an abyss, the only feasible relief being knocking on death’s door and praying for an invite, but reality deems otherwise.

So although the void will never be completely filled, and I do not believe I will ever feel a true sense of belonging, I have been fortunate enough to find a community where the kindness of strangers leads to an unexpected friendship. By not judging and providing a small sense of acceptance, they have given me enough support and kinship to lighten a tiny bit of the weight on my shoulders.

 

 

Am I Afraid To Be Gay?

 

 

pride love me

 

The horrific and unfathomable events that occurred recently in Orlando have shaken not only the LGBQT community but people from different cultures and religions around the world. Regardless of gender, sexual preference, skin color, culture or faith, human beings have a few things in common, one of them being fear. Fear incites the same reactions globally as it triggers the innate instinct of flight or fight. We either retreat in doubt of our safety or wellbeing or we stand up, band together and raise our voices, determined not to be oppressed by hatred or ignorance. What incites another human being to be so afraid of something that their fear turns into hatred so deep, a vile act like the Orlando tragedy can happen? That is a question we may never know the true answer for, all we can do is speculate based on the media and our personal biases. For me personally, I choose not to give the perpetrator another thought, as he simply is not worth the mind space that could be projecting love to the survivors and families of the deceased.

I was asked a question recently which was the prompt for this blog; “Am I scared for my life to be openly gay now” which then prompted me to think about not only that, but fear itself. First off, to answer the question… absolutely not! If anything this tragedy has infuriated me to raise my voice louder and speak for the souls that can no longer do so. I was initially hesitant about attending Toronto Pride due to the sheer numbers in attendance however, I will not change who I am, nor be silenced by anyone, strangers or family alike. I am who I am, regardless of what label you want to place on me and if you can’t accept that, you probably are already out of my life. As for being fearful for my life because of my openness, well that would involve being afraid to die, which I am not. When you spend the majority of your life with suicidal thoughts, the comfort of death outweighs the sense of fear the average person may have. For me, death is just a part of the life cycle and although there are ways of dying that scare me, the end result does not.

I have never had any fear of living an openly gay lifestyle as I am blessed to live in a multicultural country that is accepting of all people. We can legally marry, receive spousal insurance benefits and have the same rights as any other Canadian. That is not to say that everyone approves, there will always be haters but the greater percentage of the population believes in equal rights. The LGBQT communities here face less outward discrimination than is seen in many other countries, enabling a sense of freedom and creating a true sense of kinship.

The only true discrimination I have faced since “coming out” (funny I don’t recall I time I lived in a closet) was not from strangers, or even haters but from my family instead. After 25 years, my father has finally decided it is no longer a phase; my deceased mothers sister left me and my partner at the time standing on the front lawn rather than inviting us in the house, (They might get “the gay”, as if it is contagious) and my cousins on that side have not spoken to me in 23 years for the simple reason of being narrow minded. So basically, aside from two people, my entire family has cast me as the “lesbian black sheep”, which at first was extremely hurtful. Was I not the same person as I was five minutes before the words left my mouth? I certainly did not judge them for whatever goes on in their marriage and bedroom, which quite frankly is none of my business, as my sexual preference should not be theirs, and after a year or so trying to educate them and de-stigmatize the word “gay”, I gave up.

You cannot teach people who are not willing to learn. To learn, one needs an open mind, and to have an open mind, one needs to choose not to be ignorant, and that is just not teachable.

 

 

 

 

Welcome To the Emotionally Disturbing World of Dysthymia

 

When I tell people I have Dysthymia the reaction is generally the same puzzled look on their face as the words of sympathy flow…

Dysthymia? Wow, I am so sorry to hear that; is it terminal?”

Dysthymia? Sounds awful; it’s not contagious is it?”

Dysthymia? Oh, I hear they have a pill for that now.

Simply put, Dysthymia is chronic depression. It is considered a “milder” form of depression than major depressive disorder (MDD) however can be just as, if not more debilitating, as its symptoms usually last much longer than in MDD. Generally to be diagnosed with Dysthymia you would have been in a depressive state most of the time for at least 2 years. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) decided on a more descriptive label this year and Dysthymia is now referred to as Persistent Depressive Disorder.

Now that you have some idea of what the term means, allow me to elaborate on how it feels.

The struggle begins each morning as I open my eyes. By the time I gather the energy to sit up I feel the weight of two elephants balancing precariously on my shoulders. My mind is flooded with thoughts at a rate seeming equivalent to the top speed of a fighter jet. The disappointment and resentment of actually waking up has weighed me down since I was about 5 years old. I know I have done nothing to bring about dying yet a part of me is saddened by the thought that it is not my time quite yet. This is not a fleeting thought, more like a tattoo, with my brain being the canvas. Some days it fades to a dull flicker by the time I have started my morning coffee, others it nags at me until mid-day and on occasion, it casts its dark shadow until I am medicated enough to drift off to sleep. Finally, I accumulate the energy to rise out of bed and begin the day, and another battle in my war against my depression.

I don’t remember a day where my mind and heart didn’t feel heavy. Now, I am not saying I did not have one but rather that I cannot recall it. The mind has a nasty tendency of burying the good while presenting the negative. I would like to say how carefree and happy my childhood was, as I spent my summer days playing without a concern in the world; or that I could in truth convey to you that my school days were memorable; that I was full of confidence and fit it with all, or at least most of my peers but I would be exaggerating. The truth is I am sure I played and learned with my peers however I did those things carrying a dark shadow everywhere I went. It is a shadow that casts darkness over any of the joyous times, taking the “normal” feelings of elation and knocking them down a few levels, to more of forced air of happiness. I won a few awards playing soccer and remember my teammates asking why I never got too excited about my achievements, and so desperately wanting to tell them “I don’t know any different…this is me happy”.

Dysthymia has burdened me with a constant sense of hopelessness that extends over the majority of areas in my life. It has kept me in a state of “down in the dumps” since early childhood, with its cousin Major Depressive Disorder randomly dropping by, taking down in the dumps to a whole new level which is often accompanied by an unquenchable thirst for self-destruction. It has never been “If you hope for the best, it will come” but instead “expect the worst, prepare for the worst.” It has stripped me from the ability to see the glass as half full (for me) and instead not only perpetuated the half empty theory but solidified it with mental preparations for these possible negatives. It has taken most of my self-esteem and held it hostage, occasionally teasing me with a possible release yet always locking it back up just in time, which in turn makes decision making a challenge as I am always questioning myself. It amplifies the act of being self-critical and as an added bonus includes projection of those criticisms onto anyone around you and now I assume they must feel the same way about me, as I do.

Dysthymia gives me days when I feel tired, old, and brittle, as if the lightest breeze could knock me over, or the slightest of touches make me shatter. The sky seems darker despite the rays of sunshine. There are times where I need to be alone so I don’t have to compose my face into some semblance of cheerfulness. These persistent negative emotions vary in intensity but still leave me feeling profoundly different from other people. Like the days of being happy, I cannot elicit memories of a time where I felt like I “fit in” completely, soccer being my one saving graces.

To sum it up, my dysthymia feels like I am walking around holding a weighted umbrella, which is casting a shadow over my head and teasing me with glimpses of sunshine.

Enlighten Yourself on 5 Myths of Self-Injury

Jodyb2016

selfharm article

 

 

Self –harm is on the rise yet still remains unaddressed and unspoken. The terms self-harm self-mutilation and self-injury all refer to acts of purposely harming oneself without the intention of dying.

Cutting is the most common way people hurt themselves but it is certainly not limited to just that. Other methods include burning the skin, scratching that breaks the skin, hitting to the point of bruising or breaking bones, biting or falling. These acts of self-harm are sometimes done on impulse but occasionally they are planned. Self-harm is not usually a suicidal behavior nor is it an indicator of an impending plan.

Statistics vary as most self-harm is not actually reported, but they range from 15% to 39% of the population committing an act of self-harm at one point during their lives. However, despite the increasing numbers, the stigma remains as do many misconceptions. The following seem to…

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Enlighten Yourself on 5 Myths of Self-Injury

selfharm article

 

 

 

 

Self –harm is on the rise yet still remains unaddressed and unspoken. The terms self-harm self-mutilation and self-injury all refer to acts of purposely harming oneself without the intention of dying.

Cutting is the most common way people hurt themselves but it is certainly not limited to just that. Other methods include burning the skin, scratching that breaks the skin, hitting to the point of bruising or breaking bones, biting or falling. These acts of self-harm are sometimes done on impulse but occasionally they are planned. Self-harm is not usually a suicidal behavior nor is it an indicator of an impending plan.

Statistics vary as most self-harm is not actually reported, but they range from 15% to 39% of the population committing an act of self-harm at one point during their lives. However, despite the increasing numbers, the stigma remains as do many misconceptions. The following seem to be the most prevalent:

 

  1. Self-harm is not limited to teenagers. The typical age of onset is in the teenage years to early adulthood but not restricted to those parameters. There have been incidents of self-injury starting as young as 8 years old and others who do not begin until their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s; however it seems to be particularly prominent in the high school and college years

 

  1. Self-Injury is not for attention. If people self-harmed for attention, why do they spend so much time trying to cover it up. It can be particularly challenging for people to understand the purpose that self-mutilation serves. In most cases it is a means to express emotions unable to be put into words, but may also provide a sense of control in the person’s life or environment. It is often used as a method of self-soothing or decreasing anxiety; as a way of releasing pain and tension; as a means of relieving guilt or expressing self-hatred or feelings of failure. Because of the physiological release of endorphins when the body feels pain, self-harm is sometimes used as a mental distraction, or simply to feel alive. It is a complex disorder and often a symptom of another mental health disorder.

 

  1. Cutting is not confined to the arms. Many people assume that a person who self-injures does so primarily on the arms, (hence the long sleeve shirt at inappropriate times) however other common areas include the upper thighs and the stomach. Generally speaking, the area used would not be visible to anyone else, as most people who hurt themselves go to great lengths to hide it. Most people who self-harm will find any excuse not to be seen dressing or changing, be it at home or school.

 

  1. Only girls/women self-injure. This could not be further from the truth. Although numbers seem to be higher in females, quite a few teenage boys and men turn to self-harm for the same reasons as women. Self-injury is a coping behavior, something some people rely on when under stress or in difficult situations and is not sex or gender based.

 

  1. Self-Harm is manipulative behavior. When a person is desperate, fearful, unsupported, invalidated and has all their control taken away, they might do anything to try to cope, to try to gain just a tiny amount of control over their life. When a person in authority (partner, best friend, parent, guardian, health care worker) seems to be controlling their life, or taking away what little happiness they have, that person may feel like they are worthless, and have nothing to bargain with. Some people, in despair, say “you made me self-injure”. These words really mean ‘I can’t cope with what you’re doing, I don’t know how to react, I feel so powerless, I wish you understood how much pain I’m in, I only have self-injury, that’s all I have’.

 

The good news is self-harm is treatable. There are a multitude of coping mechanisms that can be used to replace self-abuse, the key being to find the ones that would be most appropriate for that individual, and keep trying different methods until that occurs. Listed below are some of the more frequently used techniques:

If you are feeling angry, frustrated or self-hating:

  • Hit a pillow, or use the pillow to hit the wall.
  • Find something to rip or tear apart…old papers, a book.
  • Go for a walk, jog or do jumping jacks or push-ups
  • Crank up some music and dance
  • Throw ice cubes against something hard enough to shatter them

If you are feeling sad or depressed:

  • Take a hot shower or bath
  • Call or visit a friend
  • Listen to music
  • Write, draw or paint your feelings and tear the paper up
  • Cuddle or pet an animal

If you are craving the physical sensation or wanting to see blood

  • Draw on yourself with red marker in the area you would harm
  • Hold ice cubes  in your hand , or the bend of your arm until they melt
  • Run your hands under very COLD water
  • The Lines Project or the Butterfly Project
  • Chew on something with a strong taste (Peppermint, toothpaste, and orange peel.
  • Snap a rubber band on your wrist
  • Take a COLD bath or shower
  • Rub a scented cream or ointment under your nose (Vicks or a muscle rub)

Those are just some examples of methods of distraction. Lastly I would suggest making a Self-Harm Box which basically consists of things that are important to you, such as photos, a journal, a red marker and elastic band; a reminder list of your favorite songs, movies, books or people; basically anything that makes you smile. Keep the box near the space where you would cut, or close to you and when you get that first urge, open the box.

The more this topic is discussed, written about and heard, the numbers will lower, the stigma will lessen and people will be less afraid to reach out, and more inclined to use their voices.

 

 

 

Note: If you are feeling an urge my DM is open to anyone on Twitter. @onelastkick71