Just a quick note before we begin: I would like to start by saying this note is from the heart. I would also like to say that opinions may vary. Perspectives will vary too and so will perception. However, the following paragraphs are mine. This is about me and my relation to the way I was able to understand my life. Therefore, without apology, I offer this porthole into my thinking without celebration or decoration of any kind.
I understand if you turn back here. I am not here to glamorize anything nor do I condone the flashy war stories that most people talk about. In fact, one of the most common feedbacks in my story is (whether the topic is substance abuse, alcohol, depression, or violence and crime) that I never talk about the acts or the substance itself. Instead, I talk about the feelings and the source. I talk about my reasoning and my motivation. I do this because I would rather be honest than be a misrepresented posture of something that is destroying our society. And rest assured, mental illness, disorder and diseases are painfully real.
So, here it goes . . . .
I suppose now is a good time to come clean. See, I don’t really know what you think. I don’t know what you see but today, I want to be very clear. I want to show you something with nothing to hide behind, just me, just you, and with no barriers between us. I want to explain myself but before we go forward, I want to explain where this is coming from.
First and foremost, I want to be clear that this is honest. What I am about to tell you is true. This is not shameful or putting me down in any way. So please, save the comments about me or my self-esteem. Instead, this is written to shed some light on the truth about emotional and personal struggles.
To begin, let’s point our attention to a different matter. In a display of what I call bravery and humility, I recall when the actor Michael J. Fox was interviewed about Parkinson’s. He took the interview without taking his medication to show the true effects of Parkinson’s. This was brilliant. Fox wanted the world to see the struggles he faced on a daily basis. He wanted people to understand that something inside him was making him tremor. More and more as the disease progressed, Fox’s life was becoming more unmanageable. And without care, his life would be even worse.
Parkinson’s is a disorder of the central nervous system. And it’s not like anyone wants this. Nobody wants to lose control of their body. The interview showed Fox in a way that was difficult to see. And of course, people took notice. People felt bad because no one deserves this. Right? This is like being a slave to something so uncontrollable.
I suppose now is a good time for me to step forward. Now is the right time for me to show myself without any distraction or decoration. I want to write this plainly and without anything overdressed or described by flowery words.
No. Now is the time to be direct.
I am someone that lives with a disorder. I have something in me that attacks my thinking. And I explain this with a mild sense of intimidation. I understand that this is public. I understand there are critics in the world and there are people that look to leave comments to show how much they know or to outshine the writer, which in this case is me.
I want to explain myself. I want the world to see because perhaps this might allow for tolerance as well as understanding. Therefore, please be advised that I write this openly. Understand that my honesty is all I have, in which case, outside interpretation of me or my life is unnecessary nor is it applicable. To be clear, I have lived with tragic thinking for as long as I can remember. I am not sure why. I understand the intellectual part of this. I understand the meaning behind chemical imbalances. I know what mental illness is. I certainly know what depression is.
Intellectually, I understand this all too well. Emotionally, however, I never understood why I thought the way I did. I certainly never understood why this had to be me. I’m not sure where or when depressive thinking began. I don’t know why I thought about death or dying or why I always had this unmerciful sense of impending doom. I had thoughts to act as an internal voice, which is debilitating sometimes. And there are times when I freak out and there are times when I can hardly leave the house or sit still or find comfort in my own skin (keep in mind, I never asked for this).
As I saw it, something was always wrong with me. There was always something coming my way. I don’t know how to describe it other than this. I was painfully uncomfortable around others. I naturally and always assumed the worst. I never knew how to create mutual friendships or beneficial ones. Keep in mind, I acted out of a sense of debt. I thought I was worthless. I saw myself as awkward and therefore, I assumed everyone else saw me this way as well.
There was always something off-center about me or them. And by them, I mean anyone I interacted with. I lived my entire life with pronoun trouble. There was always something so incredibly different about me. I didn’t know what this was. I didn’t ask to think or believe this way. If anything, all I wanted was to be a normal kid. I wanted to laugh and play just like everyone else in the playground. I wanted to get along. I wanted to be invited and included.
No one asks to be picked last or have the social stains that come with being small or too thin, too weak, or unfit, which was me. Of course the same thinking goes for anyone that sees themselves as disliked or simply put, unlikable. And that was me. I was much smaller than everyone else my age. I looked much younger too. I grew up with a painful sense of personal persecution. I didn’t know how to read very well or add very well. I was never a good student nor was I an athlete. I was frustrated to say the least. Eventually, I became angry. I was angry because I couldn’t get along with people. I was angry because nothing ever seemed to fit. Everything seemed to be so forced or coerced. Someone was going to hurt me or expose me and publicly humiliate me. And then what? I would be banished and unwanted, shamed for the rest of my life, and put simply, better off dead than alive and to live in shame.
I had other personal stains as well. I had things happen to me, which should have never happened. I had boundaries that were physically violated. And yet, I didn’t understand why.
Why would you do this to a little boy?
I had the basic family dysfunctions at home, which I internalized as something that was my fault. After all, everything was my fault. Right?
I assumed all the rejection, in which case, I began to act accordingly. I began to take on my social fears and discomforts which turned into self-hatred, self-harm and self-destructive behavior.
I want to be very clear about this. I want this to be understood and not mistaken as me beating up on myself. This is not self-deprecating by any means. Instead, I want to give a view into the mind of my disorders. This isn’t the real me. No, these are the tricks I’ve fallen for that come from something in me that sabotages everything.
I want to explain my depression. I want to explain why my first attempt to end my life was at the age of eight years-old. This wasn’t a choice for me. This wasn’t the way I wanted to think or feel.
But yet, regardless of how I wanted to be or look or act; this was me. I had this thing in me. I had these stains to contend with, which I swore that everyone could see. Everyone could tell just by looking at me.
They knew I was weak. They knew I was flawed. They knew I was unwanted. And you and your positive affirmations or you and your words of encouragement; plus you and your counselors and you with your clipboards and white doctor’s coats, or you with your prescription pads and diplomas on the wall or you with your mental fitness tests and your helpful suggestion and you, the rest of the world were only people that would never be able to understand or help me. I was afraid of you all. I still am. I just had to learn different ways to process my thinking.
I never asked for this. Hell, if someone asked me what I wanted my life to be like, I’d have picked a rock star or maybe the head quarterback for the football team. Instead, I was just me. Instead, I was stricken with fear. I lived with anxiety. I lived with rejection dysphoria. I lived with medicated resistant depressive disorders.
I was bullied. I was beaten. I was angry and moreover, I was tired. I was tired of the ongoing crisis in my head. I was tired of the ongoing “war room” committees in my mind; always waiting for the attack and often striking first with something preemptive to protect myself. I was tired of feeling so unlike, uncomfortable, unfit and unbearable.
I took whatever I could that would help distract my thinking. I’ve heard people ask why anyone uses drugs or drinks themselves to death. I’ve listened to people question self-destructive behavior. I’ve listened to the opinions from people that talk about mental illness and I’ve heard from people that discuss overdoses and alcohol related deaths, suicide, and any other avoidable death associated with mental crisis. I’ve heard people say “They did this to themselves.” And then I think about Michael J. Fox and his interview about Parkinson’s Disease. The tremors he faced were uncontrollable to him the same as depression was uncontrollable to me. And yet, no one felt bad or as affected when I told my story. No, I was just another suburban brat; a spoiled kid that should have been disciplined. I was “privileged” so to speak. I’m sorry, but I reject this idea.
I was just another hoodlum, junkie that destroyed himself. I was an idiot with a gun. I was a rebel without a cause. I was that guy that couldn’t get out of my way. No one liked me. I couldn’t get along with people. My insecurities led to the destruction of countless relationships and so on. In all fairness, it would be inaccurate to believe any of this was a choice.
No one ever took my history into consideration, nor did they care. Yet, the same as Fox had a disorder, I had mine, which left me so painfully misunderstood and alone (at least, in my eyes). Anything and everything was a threat to my stability which was unstable at best. I was trapped in my body. I would hear the sound of what I describe as a rock breaking through a window in my head. I would hear this and then cringe or maybe struggle with the uncomfortable and involuntary visions of violent fantasies.
I only assumed this was me reaching my breaking point. I never asked for this. I didn’t want to live this way. But I had this thing in me that wouldn’t go away. And I get it. There are doctors that look to explain this. There are people that are far better at the written word than me who describe depression, anxiety, addiction and alcoholism. There are people that explain things differently. And me, I just want to point out that the same as Fox’s disorders are real, so are mental health disorders.
All I know is this is me. All I know is it has taken me a lifetime to find the bravery to openly address this. It has taken nearly my life to do this; I am not here for accolades or applause.
No, I’m here because it has taken me decades to learn to love and embrace myself. I’m not here for the food and friends. No, I’m here to point out that no one asks to end up with a needle in their arm.
No one wants to live their life with suicidal ideation. No one wants depression and nobody signs up for anxiety. There is something beneath this. Call this a series of events. Call this a misunderstanding over a misrepresentation of self. Call this the combination of trauma and unresolved misperceptions of mental health struggles. Call this whatever you want. And me, I’ll just leave this here and tell you it has taken me a lifetime to be brave enough and comfortable enough to call this me. And, I’m not an actor. No, I’m not as talented as Michael J Fox but yet, he’s not as talented as me either.
I’m coming up on 30 years clean and sober in a few weeks.
This one’s for you, Elexis.
Maybe our stories might help someone.
Know what I mean?