Where is my Christmas Spirit?

Christmas is my favorite holiday, it always has been. I look forward to the holiday season all year long. It’s always the highlight of my year. But now, I can’t seem to get into the Christmas mood. I’m doing all of the things I normally do to enjoy the holiday season except they aren’t making me as happy as they used to.

I don’t know if it’s age, where I’m at in my life or because it’s 2020 but I have been trying hard to get into the Christmas mood but can’t. I thought maybe snow would help. It snowed 2 feet (which isn’t common where I live) and it didn’t make me feel much better. I thought maybe giving gifts and baking cookies would help. It only made a little bit of a difference.

It makes me depressed that my favorite time of the year is so lack luster. I want this time of the year to be the best part of the entire thing! I am longing to feel the happiness that Christmas has brought me in the past.

Sadly this year I will be spending most of Christmas alone. My boyfriend is working and my brother is quarantining after a business trip so we have to hold off on our family get togethers. I will be spending a few hours with my mom so I guess I won’t totally be alone but it won’t be like past Christmases. I will wake up alone, eat alone and give my pets their presents alone.

This potentially shit Christmas is effecting my mood. I’ve been extra tired and cranky as well as binge eating like nobody’s business. I want to be happy during my favorite time of the year. Why can’t I be? My God I sound like Charlie Brown.

I guess there is no guaranteed happiness at any point in time even during Christmas. You can’t just turn depression on and off even though I’m sure so many of us would love to.

I want to be happy, cheery and all of the great emotions that come with Christmas. I’m just not there this year. Sure, it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way, it’s just that I don’t want to. I can’t force happiness upon myself but I can try to do things that make me not feel like shit. So somewhere in the middle. Maybe?

I don’t know, I just want to be happy. You know?

How are you feeling about this time of year? Is it normally a sad time or a happy time for you? Leave a comment and tell me!

Depressed or Sad?

It has recently come to my attention that every time I get sad, I immediately start panicking if I’m relapsing for depression.

Sadness is an emotion that any human beings can experience. Definitely not saying depression is not normal – but sadness is something that we can more commonly experience than feeling depressed.

Missing your friends and family in a different city certainly does make me sad, but it doesn’t make me depressed.

I don’t know why it took me so long to come to the conclusion that just because I get sad, that doesn’t mean that I’m relapsing into another depressive episode.

Does anyone else struggle with this or have struggled with this in the past? 

Realizing this for myself gives me so much peace, knowing that I was able to combat my own thoughts. Nevertheless, I can’t help but to wonder if people who have suffered depression before are just more prone to something like this?

Into Me I See (Pt. 1)

I couldn’t possibly be more unhappy than I am right now.

I’m strapped into a long, metal tube with about one hundred strangers approximately 10,000 meters above sea level, flying back to my hometown in rural Australia. In the next row, three shtick heads are hooting, hollering and rough-housing like it’s a Friday night at the local pub. To top it all off, I’ve carried so much extra emotional baggage onto this flight that I’m surprised I made it past check-in.

Last night, I did something awful to someone I really care about. Something
I deeply regret. And now I’m doomed to spend the next three hours in my
elongated, flying prison reflecting on my selfish actions. I suppose it’s a
relatively light punishment, considering the crime.

My thought cycle of self-hatred is interrupted by one of the obnoxious
morons in the row ahead of me. He shouts to the flight attendant like she’s a waitress and demands that she brings another round of ‘CC and dry’ to him and his pals. The benevolent bringer of beverages makes her way down the aisle in a manner that is polite, yet stern.

“Sir, please refrain from raising your voice on the plane.” Her smile is
also polite, yet stern.

“Also, that’s your third drink in the last 20 minutes.” Smile, smile. “You
have to wait a little while before we bring you another alcoholic beverage.”
Smiley-smile-smile.

The annoying drunks go back to being drunk and annoying. I glance at the
flight attendant and our eyes meet. She smiles again, warmly this time. For a nanosecond I don’t hate myself.

She takes a step towards me, and leans in. Why do all flight attendants
smell like a flower shop in the middle of a small country town? I love that
smell.

“Can I get you something to drink?” How nice. Girls never offer to get me a
drink.

“No, thanks.” My smile is polite, yet troubled. There is no room for ‘CC and
dry’ when I’m already full of guilt and shame. She nods in acknowledgement and sashays away to serve the next loud idiot or heart broken, sulking loser.

Next to me, an attractive young couple are giggling away like a couple of
kids on the back of a school bus. I turn my head slightly, so that I can see
what all the fuss is about. It seems like one of them has managed to stuff
their jacket pockets with sushi, and the sheer genius and hilarity of their
secret snack idea has them both in hysterics. I’d laugh too, if I didn’t hate
them so much. It’s so unbearably adorable that not even blasting Burn The
Priest
through my headphones is enough to blot out the cuteness. It
reminds me of the things me and Freya used to do together, and how they made me feel.

My thoughts inevitably turn back to last night, at Freya’s place. When I
arrived there, I just wanted to talk. But I’d worked my mind up into such a
frenzy, and I was so scared of losing myself in her that I behaved like any
scared animal would – I attacked. I told her that I didn’t want to see her
anymore, because she was needy. I told her that she was slowly smothering me, stripping away the life I had built up since moving to Melbourne six months ago. I told her I don’t want to be her emotional punching bag. Then, I stormed out.

I got exactly what I wanted. She’s gone now, and I have my life back. I’m
free.

So free, and so alone.

Part of me wants to take it all back, to say I’m sorry, and set things
right. But is that because I miss her, or how she made me feel?
Is it just the guilt and shame that makes me want to apologise, or is it
something else? Would I even deserve a second chance, after saying all of those terrible things?

Fuck, this is going to be a long flight.

I decide to fire up an audio book called ‘Silently Seduced: When Parents
Make Their Children Partners’
by Kenneth M. Adams. The book explores how some parents, driven by insecurity and loneliness, use their children as
surrogate partners. It describes the impact this can have on their children’s
emotional development and ability to form healthy, romantic relationships in adulthood.

Yes, perfect. This will take my mind off things.

The book goes on to explain that if one person in a monogamous relationship is emotionally unavailable, the other person will look elsewhere to satisfy their unfulfilled needs. They might start spending more time at work, hoping to find satisfaction by building their career. They may turn to drugs and alcohol, chasing new experiences and cheap thrills. Or they might try to fill the void by maxing out their credit cards with some good old-fashioned retail therapy.

In some cases, however, they will use their children as crutches to keep
their hearts from collapsing.

Sadly, it makes a lot of sense. We’ve all heard stories of parents that seek
validation through their child by forcing them to become what they personally never could. But sometimes, the parents push in another direction. They force a child to become a shoulder to cry on, or an ear for their frustrations. The child becomes the voice of reason when the parent is unstable, and is the one to pick them up when they inevitably break down.

It certainly not the loveless environment that most people think of when
discussing childhood trauma. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s too much
love. The wrong kind of love. And for a child, it’s the only love they know.

It’s hard for a child to neglect the emotional needs of a wounded parent.
They brought you into this world, after all. They raised you, and protected
you. You owe them everything. But after a while, this surrogacy begins to drain you. Love becomes a burden, like a warm blanket on a hot summer day. It’s an overpriced cocktail of guilt, shame and resentment. You learn that to love, is to suffocate.

Each passing chapter of the book peels back a new layer of my childhood.
Each new concept is another piece of the puzzle. Slowly, I’m starting to see
why being close to people scares me so fucking much. Why I become detached, even spiteful, towards those that have shown me nothing but compassion and understanding.

As the cute couple beside me chows down on their jacket sushi, I’m having a
full-blown existential crisis. I pause the audio book, and take a moment to
collect my thoughts. From this crisis, comes a moment of clarity – my return
home has presented me with a rare opportunity. An opportunity to know myself better, and get to the bottom of my mummy issues. An opportunity to see into me.

For the first time today, the guilt begins to subside. As the plane begins
it’s decent, I feel a sense of resolve forming within me. It may be too late to
fix things with Freya, but it’s not too late to change my behaviour and stop
being a shitty human being.

Once we hit the tarmac, I grab my bag from the overhead locker and follow
the Canadian Club clowns as they stumble down the aisle, bouncing off the backs of seats like they’re stuck in a really long, narrow pinball machine.

I step off the plane and take my first real breath in three hours.
Hopefully, my stint in the slammer did me some good. I’ve done my time, and now I’m back on the outside. I’m a free man.

“JAY! JAAAYYYYY!”

Or, maybe not.

It’s the voice of my mother. Suddenly, the space around me begins to
tighten. She wasn’t supposed to be here.

Distracting Depression

When our brains get so focused on one negative thing, it can be really hard to stop letting those thoughts spiral you into a pit of despair.

For me, my brain has a few cassette tapes that it plays on repeat for me when I’m really feeling depressed or anxious. Some of my mental illness’s favorite are “Nobody Loves You: An Unromantic Song for the Lonely,” “Megan’s a Failure (She Can’t Do Anything Right)” and “Let’s Lay in Bed Forever, Nobody would Miss Me.”

I have had some really negative thoughts spinning in my mind for the past few months but I found out that they were not true. Which is somehow always surprising to me when my anxious thoughts are false. Anybody else feel the same?

Lately I have been dealing with the repercussions of my action regarding that situation and I’m feeling totally awful about it. I let my anxious thoughts cloud my reality. I have been letting my fear of change get to me too.

Sometimes I have to disconnect my mind and focus on something else. I have to distract my depression and anxiety to make it be quiet.

What I often do as a distraction is to do something that I can be completely immersed in. Whether it’s studying Japanese (日本語を勉強する), watching one of my favorite movies (“Mulan” always helps), exercising or petting my cats; it makes a difference most of the time.

The reason I began studying Japanese was to distract myself from suicidal thoughts in 2018. It’s similar to why I became obsessed with makeup in 2016 to distract myself from even more severe suicidal thoughts.

I knew Japanese would take full brain power and determination to learn. I had to learn two alphabets plus be able to at least recognize basic kanji (they’re the more complex looking symbols). Studying the alphabets was the easy part too! On top of that all of the grammar and vocabulary makes it quite challenging.

Being able to practice on Duolingo, do lessons on YouTube and watch subtitled anime to hear how Japanese is spoken naturally makes me happy.

I have always enjoyed learning languages even though I’m not fluent in anything but English. I took Spanish and French in high school then German in college. I found German to be quite difficult since it was my first non-romantic language that I studied and I didn’t feel like I had enough time to devote to really understanding it.

How do you distract your mind from depression/mania/anxious thoughts/OCD tendencies? Please leave me a comment!

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Sometimes, life gives you lemons. At other times, it throws them at you. Really, really hard. Especially if you’re not looking.

In one moment, you might think you’ve got everything under control:

  • Job = secure
  • Bills = paid
  • Clothes = washed
  • Social life = uhhh…work in progress
  • Prescription = filled

And in the next moment…pure chaos. Cheers, life.

Whether as the result of some external event (eg. an untimely incident or unexpected circumstance) or internal influence (eg. a chemical imbalance in the brain or a traumatic memory), chaos hides around every corner waiting for the chance to strike, threatening dysfunction and disorder.

I believe that in small doses, chaos can bring a healthy amount of excitement and unpredictability to our lives. A life without chaos is a life without challenge; there is a yin to every yang, as they say. But to someone suffering from a mental illness, chaos poses a substantial threat. If we’re already struggling to keep our heads above water in day to day life, chaos can easily overwhelm us.

Depression is a constant battle, and when we’re treading water it’s easy to spend too much time staring into the abyss below and wondering what would happen if we stopped paddling. We get so caught up in the chaos and fear that we lose sight of the bigger picture and start behaving irrationally. Life throws us lemons, so we pick those suckers up and squirt the juices into our eyeballs. Not exactly the best move.

Sometimes, we need to be better than our emotions. Every now and then, it’s important to look up from the abyss and make sure you’re still headed toward dry land.

Let me tell you about a time life threw me a nice, big, juicy lemon.

A few years ago, I was exploring my home state in Australia, driving through the ranges of north Queensland. On this day I’d driven to the peak of the Eungella ranges and spent the morning trekking through the rain forest, conquering the mountainous trails and generally being in awe of the breathtaking views of the valley below. My companion on this journey was a maroon-red ’02 Toyota Corolla hatchback, that I had affectionately named Colin. We had been through much together in our three-year long relationship, and yet nothing had prepared us for the tribulations we were about to face.

After hiking my last hike for the day, I returned to my four-wheeled friend to find that he was almost completely out of fuel. Shit. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common occurrence, but I haven’t met any genies lately.

I was about 70 kilometres from the nearest gas station, and even further from the nearest town. But I had complete faith in Colin, and he had faith in me. I’m sure that if I coasted my way back down the mountain, I’d conserve enough fuel to make it back to the bowser.

So, down the range I went, gliding gracefully along the winding road in my little red go-go machine. I felt every bump, crack and dip beneath the rubber as we rode the waves of asphalt to the foot of the mountain. Every tweak of the steering wheel, every touch of the accelerator and every pump of the brakes was made with intent. It felt good. I was in complete control.

Or so I thought.

In the distance, a sign was fast approaching. “Eungella Dam, turn left in 500m”.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, dear reader. I freakin’ love dams. Some might call it “an unhealthy obsession”, but I would call it “don’t judge me, asshole.”

I grew up a stone’s throw away from a dam, and they’ve always fascinated me. They’re a true testament to the ingenuity of mankind; monolithic structures with the capability of harnessing one of nature’s most unstoppable forces – lots and lots of water. Eungella was so far away from home, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity to see this dam again. How could I pass up the chance at one last incredible view?

I pulled my steering wheel to the left, and barrelled toward my new destination. Surely, this would only be a slight detour.

I started bashing through the bush, leaving a large cloud of dust in my wake. The dirt pricked my eyes but I kept them peeled, scanning every bend in the road for a turnoff or parking area. Minutes passed, and as I strayed further and further from the beaten track, I could feel every meter travelled accumulating in the pit of my stomach. Deep down, I knew that I’d made a terrible decision.

“Surely, the lookout is just around the corner. You’ve committed to this, it’s too late to turn back now.” I’d taken a calculated risk, but I was never good at math. The lemon was in my hand, and I was starting to squeeze.

Colin’s petrol gauge was well below empty. I’m convinced that he was completely out of fuel at this point and was running only on the fumes of my sheer stupidity. My red solider, loyal and true, was on his last legs.

I was so focused on seeing this damn dam, that I didn’t notice the next turn was quite a bit sharper than the rest. I brought my foot down on the brake like an anvil, and the car began to slide. Perhaps in an act of protest after being pushed to the brink of exhaustion, Colin threw his back wheels off the road the same way and infant throws his rattle across the room during a tantrum. I went careening into a two-meter deep ditch and came to a humiliating halt.

Great. Now I’m really stuffed. It was going to take some real gusto to get up this slope, most likely wasting the last of my precious petrol in the process.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes, emotions make us dumb. Really dumb.

I was so distracted by the fear of potentially being stranded in the middle of nowhere that I wasn’t thinking straight. Chaos had taken the wheel, and I was being pulled along by a four-cylinder engine of emotion straight into a ditch on the side of the road. I was acting completely irrationally. I’d lost control. I’d chosen to stare into the abyss below when I should be been searching for the safety of the shore.

But no more. It was time to look up.

Let’s turn this ship around.

I put the pedal to the metal, and in a Dukes of Hazzard inspired moment of pure triumph Colin and I aimed for the sky and fired. Without the weight of my emotions holding me down, for a moment, I knew what it was like to fly. I was finally acting level-headed, and the Corolla was back on level ground.

By some miracle, I managed to reach the petrol station. I was on cloud nine, and approached the lady at the register like I’d just won the lottery.

“That’ll be $45.67.”

“Here, just take my whole wallet.”

I think we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve decided to squeeze lemon juice into our eyes.

When this happens, often the biggest challenge is having the self-awareness to take a step back and access your current situation, put aside your predispositions and decide what is truly best for your wellbeing. You’ll use any excuse in the book to avoid the answers that are often right in front of your face. You’ll allow yourself to be distracted, and put your wants before your needs. This is destined to lead you down the path of chaos, and one day you might find yourself stuck in the middle of the bush in rural Australia.

You need to know that it’s never too late to grab the steering wheel and turn yourself around. There are many factors that influence our decisions in this modern world, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to know what is best for you and make the right choices.

If you only follow your heart’s compass, it’ll lead you astray. But, if you play it smart, you’ll find that the little diversions take on a whole new lustre as you start to appreciate life’s various side paths and gravel roads. You’ll be free to pursue your passions comfortably, whether it be writing, mountain trekking, or visiting dams. Know that when your priorities are in order, you’ll have more mental fuel to go the distance in life and enjoy a richer human experience.

So remember to keep your chin up, and keep swimming.

Comfortably Glum

When you’re living with depression, sometimes the scariest moments are the ones where everything seems to be going smoothly.

Recently, there was a brief but wonderful period of time where everything appeared to be going my way. I was kicking goals in every aspect of my life; I’d started exercising again, I was eating healthier, I was meditating regularly and at work I felt a sense of productiveness and fulfillment. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t dread the thought of getting out of bed in the morning. Finally, I’d reached the level of stability and sustained happiness that I’d been striving for.

‘This is it.’ I thought. ‘This is life!’

But alas, it was not meant to be. For you see, depression can be a real bitch.

As quickly as feelings of joy and satisfaction had poured into my life, a storm of self-depreciating thoughts was brewing that threatened to wash it all away.

‘You’re a fraud.’

‘You’re a failure.’

‘You don’t deserve this.’

Without warning or remorse, the happiness I had found was ripped away from me. I was on top of the world, and now these negative thoughts had brought me tumbling down to the bottom of the heap. I was lower than low. I was nothing.

Things were back to normal.

Now, I know I’m not the only one to have experienced this. It’s happened to the best of us – your life is seemingly on the up-and-up and for one sweet, delicious moment you get a taste of what it’s like to not be sad all of the time. But, that depressive brain of yours doesn’t skip a beat and soon it’s back up to its old tricks of convincing you that eating an entire tub of chocolate ice cream while listening to Bright Eyes on repeat is a good way to spend a Friday evening.

When we fly too close to the sun, our urge to come crashing back down to Earth and into the familiar realm of angst and self-loathing only grows stronger. Like a fully-charged electromagnet, the further we pull away the more desperately our depression seeks to snap us back into the position of being huddled in a corner underneath exactly twelve woolen blankets. We have 200,000 years of human evolution on our side, and yet we decide that soppy music and artificial flavoring is the best way to deal with our emotions. Why the hell would anyone be inclined to behave this way? What purpose does it serve?

Well… I have a theory.

There is one thing that humans crave more than pleasure, and that is comfortability. Our brains are built to resist change. If you’re reading this blog, then I’d be willing to bet that you’ve spent your entire life struggling to deal with some strain of mental illness. Depression is a dreadful and destructive force, but in a sick and twisted way, it also feels like home. For me personally, the more depressed I am, the closer I feel to my true self. I understand what it means to be happy, but sadness is still my bread and butter, baby.

When something threatens to take my precious sorrow away, my mind immediately hits the panic button – “RED ALERT! RED ALERT! WE HAVE POSITIVE THOUGHTS APPROACHING ON ALL FRONTS! HOLD YOUR POSITIONS!” What ensues is a fierce battle within my own subconscious – a battle of emotions. And because sadness has the home advantage, my depression will always emerge victorious.

Put simply, I’m not good at feeling good. My mood will always strive to reach an equilibrium and return to its default depressive state. This behavior stems from the deeply-rooted belief that I do not deserve to be happy, a sentiment that most of us share – but that is a topic for another time.

Today, there is only one thing I want to you to take away from this post. The next time you see the dark clouds of depression looming on the horizon, ask yourself this:

‘Is this feeling due to external factors, or is this just a reaction to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and into a place of happiness and well-being?’

If you feel like shit and you’re not sure why, you should accept the possibility that this is a mental block your mind has created to prevent you from experiencing positive emotions. You should treat happiness like a skill that needs to be practiced and honed. When you’re learning a new skill, in the beginning there’s a painful period where you will try, and you will fail. Then you’ll try and fail some more. And just when you think you’re getting the hang of it – guess what – you’ll fail again. But what’s important is that you keep trying, because with each attempt you’ll bring your default mood closer to the threshold of happiness. Even in your darkest moments, you need to keep fighting.

The battle of emotions is more than a matter of life and death. It’s the fight for a life worth living. It’s a fight for everything.

And I know you can win.

Depression & Anxiety Returns

My title sounds like a bad sequel in a movie franchise that will not die. I’m trying to keep it light hearted since I’ve really been struggling today.

My mental health has been doing so well for the past few months. I’ve been able to think clearly, function normally and even step outside of my regularly scheduled programming. It’s been great! I’ve been proud of myself even!

But of course all great things must end.

Yesterday my anxiety began to gnaw at my stomach during work. Then the thoughts started buzzing around in my mind as I started worrying about upcoming changes in my life. I also made two mistakes yesterday and today that brought out my depression.

Anxiety was the opening act and now depression has come out to sing a duet. It’s kinda of like in “Camp Rock” when Demi Lovato is singing “This is Me” then Joe Jonas comes to finish the song with her. (I got to see this happen twice in concert in 2008, it was so awesome!)

I can’t focus.
I am stuck in my mind.
I want to hide in my room for the next century. At least it’s safe in there.

It’s amazing how individuals with mental illness can be fine one moment then something happens and our worlds are crashing down around us. Our minds only push us down instead of being able to rationalize and pick ourselves up.

These are the moments I wish I didn’t have a broken brain.

I wish I could brush stuff off but I can’t all of the time. Lately I’ve been mentally stable enough to do that but today I can’t.

I don’t want to go through the misery of a depressive episode. I don’t want my anxiety to be taunting me again. I have enjoyed the peace for months, I’m not ready to give it up.

What about you guys? How’s your mental health been lately? Whether it’s been good or bad, please leave me a comment! I love chatting with you guys in the comments 🙂 It always makes me feel better about life. Like maybe I’m not so alone after all.

Does Mental Illness = Weakness?

This weekend was very difficult for me. My mental illness had me in its grip tight which kept me in bed for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and about 75 percent of Sunday.

My boyfriend and I were butting heads which really made me anxious. I was having so many worries because of our argument that it made things worse.

He is a very introverted person so sometimes he needs an entire day to re-energize. He told me that he needed alone time this weekend to recharge and spend time with his friends who he doesn’t see very often. In true Megan fashion, I freaked out.

I plunged into my anxious thoughts so deeply that I thought I might get sick. I worried fervently about whether this was the end of our relationship. Whether he didn’t love me anymore. Whether he wanted to find somebody better than me who could meet every single need of his without fail.

My mental illness often makes me feel weak. That if I didn’t have these nagging thoughts that led me to staying in bed for hours, flipping out over a change of plans and crying a lot.

I feel like I should be stronger.

That I should be able to tackle my mental illness to the ground because I don’t fall for its bullshit anymore. That I should be able to rebound quickly or just stand strong after my intense sensitivity teams up with my anxiety to spiral me down into the arms of depression.

If I was stronger I wouldn’t lose an entire weekend because my feelings are hurt and my anxiety is making it 50 times worse.

But I can’t do those things.

I am too weak to overcome my mental illness.

I always ask for your opinion at the end so please leave me a comment! Does your mental illness make you feel weak too?

Courtney’s Interview Feature

This a feature I wrote on Courtney. You can find all feature interviews here.

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Courtney’s Interview Feature: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a unique mental illness diagnosis. It comes with uncontrollable mood swings that can happen every minute of every other day. The unpredictability of Borderline Personality Disorder can make any day the worst ever.

“They range from anger to sadness to even happiness,” Courtney explains. “But the feelings I have are mostly negative.”

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Courtney from Waterford, Michigan, is living every way with the realities of BPD. Two and half years ago Courtney found solace. It would come in the form of a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. But like many of us in the mental illness community, the journey to the right diagnosis was a rough one for Courtney.

“Before my diagnosis with BPD, I had different diagnosis’s ranging from depression alone to Bipolar. My life was a complete disaster. There was no such thing as a “normal” day.”

In her early years, Courtney would deal with constant mood swings. The mood swings made family life impossible at times. Verbal arguments were common, and it leads to instability in her family life. It was not uncommon for Courtney to try to commit suicide. On more than one occasion she had to live through the reality of suicide attempts that seemed to come out of nowhere.

“My moods would flip as easy as it was to toss a coin,” Courtney recalls. “There was no telling how my day would start, or how they would end. It was scary.”

Courtney will admit she doesn’t have the best memory. She often has a tough time reliving the past, or even remember it. “I wouldn’t wish what I endured those years before my diagnosis on anyone.”

It’s not all negative in Courtney’s life. Courtney surrounds herself with people that support who she is. This support system includes her husband, mother, and Courtney’s therapist. The positive part in her BPD comes from the right medications and a good psychiatrist.

“The medication prescribed to me that I take every day,” Courtney explains. “I believe it plays a big positive part in my BPD.”

There are daily struggles that Courtney must face. The emotional instability that comes with Courtney and her BPD can make life hard. It can be hard to maintain a relationship, even with the ones that Courtney loves. Anxiety and depression often make themselves companions next to her BPD. On any given day she will feel lazy and depressed.

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It is not uncommon for Courtney to want to do her entire to-do-list for the year in one day. It can be exhausting, but she always finds a way. Support is her most prominent ally.

“My mental illness affects my life every day. Little things that shouldn’t bother me, bother the hell out of me,” she explains about how BPD affects her life. “I get irritable over the little things, and sometimes I have no control over my anger.”

Courtney by nature isn’t a violent person, but at times she is on the edge of exploding at any moment. Three things contribute to this feeling. One part Anxiety. One part Depression. One part Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be a disastrous combination.

“It affects my relationship with my husband, my kids, family, and even friends.”

We all have a goal when writing our blog, something we want to share with the mental illness community. For Courtney, her message is one of education.

“I want people to become educated and aware of mental illnesses,” she explains. “There is a stigma that surrounds people like us, and it needs to die. That’s why the title of my blog is “kill the stigma.” I want people to open up about their struggles, to not be afraid of backlash, or to receive support. I want people to be able to talk about mental illness as easy as they talk about a cold.”

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For Courtney, writing a blog has done wonders for her life. It is her way to cope and at the same time receive affirmation. It’s not about the comments or the followers from Courtney’s perspective. It’s about people viewing and reading what she is presenting to the blogging world.

What Courtney is doing with her blog is educating and finding a way to make a difference. She writes to teach on topics like depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

“I have already done that on a small scale. It also helps me to know I am not alone. I have had several people close to me and distant have reached out. What they are saying is how they have dealt with their own illnesses and wish they had a voice like me.”

My favorite question that I ask in these interview features is what in their life makes life worth living? Courtney’s answer is why I love to ask this question.

Courtney finds peace in the little things in life that make living worth it. She mentions her husband, mother, children, and her belief in God. “I remember how much they love me, and how much I love them. It helps to feel wanted and needed, and I’ve never felt either of those things as much as I do currently.”

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There is also the personal things in her life that Courtney wants to work on. She recognizes that she is not the best person in the world. Courtney works each day to strive to be a better person despite BPD.

Courtney recognizes one crucial thing that makes life worth living. It is this knowledge that those of us in the mental illness community should live by.

“If I were to kill myself today, I wouldn’t be able to be a better person. I would go to hell, according to my beliefs. I don’t want either of those things, so the hope that I have now makes life worth living.”

The alternative to the negative thinking that Courtney displays is positive. Its roots are in her past experiences with suicide.

Within the confines of her journey, Courtney has often had suicidal idealizations. For a good part of her life and journey, this was a regular thing. Courtney believed that it was normal to think about all the ways that you wanted to die.

“As a teenager, I didn’t know any different,” she remembers. ” I have had suicidal thoughts ever since I can remember. I would think about cutting my slitting my wrists, about driving my car into a poll at 100 mph, or swallowing pills. I even thought about putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger.”

In the present time, Courtney struggles with these thoughts less and less. It helps to have the right system in place. For Courtney, she relies on the right medication, therapy, support, and coping skills. It is within this system that helps her combat these thoughts.

It doesn’t mean that Courtney hasn’t gone down the road of trying to take her life. “I have attempted suicide three times, and the first time I flatlined. It took Narcan to revive me. I thought it would never make me want to commit suicide again.”

This thought was great for Courtney, but was temporary and only for a time. She would go on to attempt to take her life two more times. It was through these trials and getting the right support that keeps her steady. Its enough for Courtney to stay off the suicide path.

“It takes time. There is no instant cure and that’s what I wanted. I was expecting it for so long, I wasn’t patient enough.”

Courtney wants to share through this feature article many vital pieces of wisdom. The first is that mental illness can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone.

“I am glad that I’m winning,” Courtney explains. “I am so glad I am winning.  I finally feel like I have my mental illness under control after more than a decade. And you know what? It was so worth the wait and effort.

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Courtney is at a level that we all hope to get to, a place where you are good with your diagnosis. Her words of wisdom speak truthfully. In my own experiences, all I have been through got me to a right place with my own diagnosis. It is the most fantastic feeling in the world, but the battles are what made us stronger. It has made Courtney stronger.

If you would like to know more about Courtney and her journey you can find her writings on her blog.

When I was looking through her blog, this post stood out the most. You can find so many great pieces on Courtney’s journey with Borderline Personality Disorder on her blog.

Interviewee: Courtney

Author: James Edgar Skye

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Photo Credits:

unsplash-logoMike Wilson

unsplash-logoMorgan Basham

unsplash-logoXavier Sotomayor

unsplash-logoTânia Soares

unsplash-logoEdwin Andrade

unsplash-logoAustin Schmid

Goodbye, My Best Friend

So tomorrow, I lose my best friend, someone I love more than anything in this world. I’m talking about my cat, Max. I’ve had this cat for almost 20 years, that’s all of my adult life. I don’t really even remember the day she was born, I was so little. The story goes, one night it was raining really hard, and my family must have been watching tv, because we were all in the living room. We hear a knock at the door, we have no idea who it was, it was late, we lived in the middle of nowhere, and we weren’t expecting anyone that night. It was a young couple, it must have been their first time on the mountain, because they seemed very unfamiliar with the area, and the customs of the people who lived there. It was very common for the pets of the residents of the area that I lived to be outdoor animals, that were allowed to come and go as they pleased. So needless to say we were surprised when this couple held a small kitten that was only a few weeks old. They said they found it wandering the road, in the darkness and the rain. Instantly, being children, my siblings and I begged our parents to let us keep the kitten, and we somehow won them over. That cat’s name was Tiger, or so we named it. We had tiger for a few years, she was our family’s first pet. That was until, somehow tiger became pregnant, most likely from one of the next door neighbors cats (the neighbor probably didn’t watch The Price is Right, because he didn’t believe in neutering). It was around Easter of 2000, that Tiger gave birth to 7 kittens herself, even though she was only a few years old (we didn’t really like spaying our animals either). I still remember, she gave birth in the closet of my sibling’s and my room, underneath an antique chair that had been in storage. It was wonderful, and even though my parents didn’t let us keep all 7 cats (they put some up for adoption) we ended up keeping 4 total. 3 girls and a boy, their names were Mrs. Whiskers, Mrs. Angel, Maxine, and Mr. Precious. We named the other 3 as well, but their names I don’t remember as well. It was soon after that, that we got a puppy, a collie named Cassie. Not long after that, the mother, Tiger, ran away, never to be seen again. It was a sad time for my family, but like I said, all the animals were more or less left to roam the surrounding area on their own, Tiger just never came back one day. I was lucky enough to have the one boy cat of the litter, which I named Mr. Precious. Unfortunately for me, when they were all about a year old, Mr. Precious ran away too, never to be seen again. This broke my heart when I was a kid. Luckily, we had an extra cat that no one claimed as their own, Maxine. So I, no longer having a cat to call my own, began to treat Max as my cat. We had those cats for many years before tragedy struck, Mrs. Angel, my brother’s cat got hit by a motorcycle while we were on vacation one year, killing her almost immediately. Needless to say my brother was heartbroken, and still is I think to this day.

My family only had 2 cats left. Soon after that, we lost my dog, Cassie, and the whole family mourned. It was not much longer after that, my parents got divorced, my mother, my siblings and I moved to the house we are in now. However, we left our 2 cats, Max and Mrs. Whiskers, at the old house, because my mother always hated cats, and saw this as an opportunity to be rid of them once and for all. About a year after we moved in, my mother finally gave way to us kids, and let our cats move in the the house with us. They were horribly malnourished, and infested with fleas. Those first few weeks were terrible, as they looked so sickly. As a quick side note, my cat Max, has had a tumor on her side for the past 10 years or so. The vet told us that operating was impossible as it was fused into her rib cage, and there was no guarantee that even after it was removed that it wouldn’t grow back. Luckily it was cancerous, and she didn’t seem to be bothered by it, the opposite in fact, she loved to be pet on it. Back to today, she once again is horribly malnourished, the tumor is now stealing all her nutrition, and she’s growing more sickly by the day. It is now, that I’ve decided that I’m going to put her to sleep tomorrow. It was a very hard decision to make, probably one of the hardest in my life. Like I said, I’ve had this cat for all of my adult life, and I’ve loved her more than anything. It is now, out of love, that I need to end her suffering. I’ve put it off for too long, in the hopes that she would get better, and she has only gotten worse. My selfishness has only caused her to suffer more. This is the hardest thing that I have ever done, when I decided earlier this week that I would put her to sleep on Saturday, I’ve been in a state of sadness and anxiety. I don’t want the day to come where I have to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to any pet, especially one you’ve had your whole life, is incredibly difficult. Experts say that sometimes it’s even worse than losing a human family member. Yet, the time has come, regardless of whether I wanted it to or not. The last thing I can do for her is show her how much I love her, and send her off peacefully. So tonight, I’m making her a handmade dinner as her last meal, a shredded tuna steak, covered in catnip with a side of milk. In the hopes that when tomorrow comes, she can leave happily, knowing that even up until the end, she was loved dearly. I just hope that for her sake, I can make it through this difficult time. I want to thank you all in advance for your love and support that I’m sure will be pouring out.

Yours,

Wolfgang

May Max Rest In Peace.