The Pain You Can’t See

I don’t have an old-fashioned clock hanging on a wall in my house. But if I did I bet the space of silence in between the ‘tik’ and the ‘tok’ would be longer than any other second I’ve ever known. I bet the sound of time passing by would echo through the emptiness of the house. The movement of the well-mannered hands would be more movement than I can manage on some days. But the path those hands take- the cycle of always ending up in the same place, day after day; now that is something I could relate to.

I’ve been told before that I make too much eye contact. I know now that I do so when I am longing to make a deeper connection with people. Maybe its out of selfishness, maybe I want to be able to dish out some of my internal pain onto others. Or maybe it is because connection, as I understand it, may be the solution to majority of our problems. Either way, when talking to someone about something that they are not likely to understand; there are two different responses I may see through their eyes. One is curiosity. That youthful, eager desire to learn more. To try to understand. The other is judgement. Fear for what we do not understand. I am good. You are different than me. Therefore, you must be bad.

Majority of humans are visual learners. That means if we cannot see it, we struggle to understand it. But just like an invisible clock, my pain will tick along.

I separated my collar bone once. And although my mother had never felt that same pain before, she could see that something was wrong as my arm didn’t dangle quite the way it was supposed to. When we were at the hospital and I looked into the young doctors eyes, I could see the curiosity as he had never put a collar bone back into place before. Whether the feeling we experienced was curiosity, fear, or pain; all three of us were relieved when my arm popped back into place and we could see that the problem had been fixed.

Now, remember how I mentioned that my house was empty? Of all the furniture that is in the place, last week my favourite place to rest was on the floor. I don’t know yoga, but a do know a child’s pose. I felt ten years old as I lay curled up as small as I could be, my head held down. I took a few breaks from an all encompassing numbness to sob uncontrollably. I was feeling sorry for myself. Life hasn’t turned out quite the way I thought it would.

At some point, I picked myself up off the floor, dusted myself off, and cleaned myself up. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. But being down there sure paints an ugly picture:

Picture a man. This man. Laying on the floor in the fetal position. Wearing nothing but underwear. Unshaved and unshowered. A pale, snot covered face. Bags under eyes that have nothing but emptiness inside them. Silent, like the seconds in between ticks on an old wooden clock. Only until a single tear escapes as a warning signal for the eruption of sobs to follow. A mans power with a childs cry. I gasp on every inhale and squeal on every exhale. The pain is unbearable.

On first thought, that isn’t a picture I’d like to paint for anyone. Simply because of embarrassment. And shame. I do not want others to look at me with fear or judgement. But it is a picture I am willing to paint if it may help anyone understand a little more. You can hang it up on your wall. It can take up the space in between the seconds. In fact, it’s up there right now. Look around for it.

It’s the pain you can’t see.

…To anyone reading this that knows of a similar pain. Bigger or smaller, better or worse. I want you to know that whoever you are, wherever you are, and however you are; I see you.

-Christopher

Humble, Happy, Hungry

I am HUMBLE about where I’ve been.

I am HAPPY with where I am.

I am HUNGRY for more.

I am humble about where I’ve been. Both the good places and the bad. Being at my worst, the late nights stuck in loneliness and the stop at the hospital; those don’t make me crazy. They are a part of the process. I know my lows. They do not define me but they have shown me where I do not want to be. And they have given me a superpower to truly empathize with people.

I am happy with where I am. Surely not it’s entirety. But I see the good. I see my growth as a human being and while it has been a slower process than I had expected, I am so fucking proud of myself for being here and being me in this moment. I don’t have a degree, a job, or money to represent who I have become. But I have my body showing strength. I have my mind, battle tested and witty. And I have my soul, connected to the good of the universe. Together, I am ready to dive into the uncomfortable.

I am hungry for more. There is so much out there in this world to accomplish. So much out there to explore. People to meet. Stories to hear. Moments to exchange and embrace. I’ve got so much more to prove. I want to show my strength and my resilience. I want to show people my heart. I want to connect. I want to make a positive difference. I want to show this world and myself that my failures will never define me. I am so much more than what you see.

Drop in, dropout

Picture this.

You turn your alarm off as soon as it comes on. You roll over back to sleep with a grin on your face. Your bed is just the right amount of warm and cozy. Your legs stretch out. You’re dreaming of being in the perfect relationship with your ex girlfriend. None of your worries have come to mind. Later you get up. It’s a sunny warm March afternoon. Your roommates have already left for the day so you have the house to yourself. You blast music, drink tea, and make French toast. You get dressed, wearing one of your favourite shirts. You leave the house.

The sun is so nice you think about rolling down the window. Maybe next week, nothing but good weather and good times lies ahead. You take the long way downtown, enjoying the ride, singing to the music. You get booster juice, cause why not treat yourself. What a perfect start to the day. Then you park in front of the drop in counselling center, play your sad song over and over again, trying your best to keep in the tears, but they sneak out the corners of your eyes.

You never leave the car. Just sit there staring at the logo on the door and the people that occasionally walk in or out. You wonder what separates you from them. What makes it so hard for you to find help Chris? Is it something wrong with the system? Is it the stigma cast down on you from society? Why are these people getting help and you aren’t? Maybe you’re just too fucked up. You’ve been coming here for 5 years now. Rarely going inside and never getting better. As if one day an angel will walk out of that door and solve all your problems. What are your problems anyways? I don’t see any. You’re a middle class raised child with financial support from your family living in a world full of opportunity. You’re too lazy to go to class, too lazy to get a real job. But you still end up at the bar every Saturday night, the first one to shout “let’s do shots”.

What’s your excuse again? Oh right. ‘Depression’ how could I forget. So you’re just tired all the time? Then why do I always see you at the gym or at the rink? It doesn’t make sense.

You should do something about this. You get out of your car. You walk to the entrance.

You reach for the handle.

But nothing reaches back.

Goodnight, maybe I’ll try going again tomorrow.

The High

What was the last thing you truly wanted?

I feel like I’m living a life that ain’t mine.

And every time i share some of my mental health story to the public, and i get positive feedback, I feel a glimpse of what my life should be.

Sometimes I feel so high that I envision myself being famous, I envision myself being known world wide as an advocate for mental health, i see myself helping people through their struggles on a daily basis. I see myself in a movie.  And i see it so vividly that i believe it to be true. Like there is no way that this doesn’t happen.  Because i am meant for greatness and it is only a matter of time before i rise to it.

Sometimes i feel so low that i cant get out of bed and get something to eat because i am  not worthy of life.  I cant get out of this darkness because if someone sees me trying to escape it they will spit on me and shove me back down into the dungeon that is my head.

Every time I write I am trying to get people to understand what I am going through every minute of everyday. My mind does not take a break.  And i will keep writing because i will never find a way to explain exactly how it feels.

People don’t understand the high.  I feel so good, so full of energy.  Cocaine couldn’t begin to understand the high that my own brain can give me.  There is absolutely nothing in the world that could bring me down.  One day someone broke into my car and stole my stuff and I didn’t hesitate for a second.  They must’ve needed that stuff more than me.  Isn’t the circle of life beautiful? The world balances itself out and I can just keep living, keep smiling.

Wouldn’t a normal response be hey my sh*t just got stolen that kinda sucks?

People don’t understand the low.  There is literally a voice inside my head screaming at my every move, my every thought.  The voice is me.  The voice isn’t ME.  The voice doesn’t go away it just is quiet sometimes and louder at other times.  My mind almost always knows whats best, but my voice shuts it down a lot.  My thoughts go hey Chris you’re feeling down because you’ve been in bed all day. Maybe if you just get out of bed your head will clear up a bit.  My voice goes Chris you’ve been in bed all day because that is all you’re good for.  I go but voice I gotta make it to class today.  My voice says but everyone will see you and I’ll tell them how fucked up you are and everyone will judge you.  What would you do?

I work and I work.  I have a civil war between my ears.  It is all about the small victories.  The voice told me I can’t get out of bed today.  So I don’t get my homework done. But I make it to class.  Win.  I play it off like I was too cool to do my homework.  I get a couple more wins.  I make it to the gym or out for a run.  I get the good drugs pumping through my head.  I get a couple more wins.  I keep battling.  I keep working at it.  You don’t think I can get out of bed? Too bad, I’m f*cking doing it. And then one day I wake up and the sun is shining.

Right now I’m waiting for that day.  And it can’t come soon enough.

I WANT this voice to f*ck off.

Cause this life ain’t mine.

Moments of Bliss

It’s about moments. Moments of bliss. We do it all. We battle. We get up when we can’t stand. We shout when we have no words. We listen when we can’t hear outside our own head. We feel for others when we cannot feel ourselves.

We hear people tell us that it gets better. We do not believe them. But we keep going. We go minutes, hours, days, weeks, months without hope. We keep going. Why? We battle. All for those moments. We don’t know when they come. We cannot always create them. But they are life. Moments of bliss. When you are surrounded by friends and loved ones and you realize that you are just laughing in the moment. You escape all the darkness. And by the time you have come to the realization of this moment, it is already gone. Quicker then it came. But it was bliss. We get up. We eat. We shower. We go to work. We go to school. We battle to do all the things that we are supposed to be able to do everyday. It is so hard. We keep going. We will never stop. Why? Moments of bliss. They are magical. They are what makes us alive. They are ineffable and unexplainable. And they will always come again, no matter how long they disappear for. So we keep going. Because all of the struggles are worth it.

Even if.

It is only for a moment.

“All I want is

And all I need is

To find somebody

I’ll find soMEbody”

To the kid I never knew

To the kid I never knew-

“If I fail this test I’m going to jump off the building” I’ve heard similar words being said thousands of times while I walk through the library. And I’m sure you heard them too. Too bad no one realized just how real those words could be.

But of course I don’t know why you did it. I didn’t even know you. This is all I will ever know you for. Many students will shutter at the thought of “the kid who jumped off the library roof”

I don’t know why you did it.

I don’t know you.

But I wish I did.

And I wish I could say there will be only good things left behind. But they will talk. “What kind of loser does that” “that’s so selfish” “I couldn’t even enjoy my Starbucks”

I remember my high school history teacher informing a class full of young students that anyone who commits suicide is a coward. That word has stuck in my mind ever since. Coward.

But I don’t think you’re a coward. Not at all. I think you’re brave. And no one will know just how much courage it took for you to hold on as long as you did.

Isn’t it hard to explain what it’s like to be driving down the highway to go to school and to wonder if you could turn the car and drive head on into the cement barrier. To take your meds every morning and wonder how many of them you’d have to take to die. To look out a buildings window and wonder if the fall would be enough to kill you.

Yes they will talk. And they will show that the negative outlook on mental illness is alive and well. But I want you to know that you didn’t die for nothing. You’ve given us a gift, whether people want to admit it or not.

Because of you, people will hug their friends and family a little tighter. They might end stupid arguments that have been going on for too long. They might smile at the stranger walking past them on the staircase.

Maybe “Go kill yourself” could stop being a common insult and instead could be the words no one ever says.

Maybe the words “I’d jump off this building” won’t be joked about anymore.

To the kid I never knew

I hope you have lost all the guilt and shame that came along with those thoughts.

I hope people may see you for who you were; not a loser or a crazy person but a good kid fighting an invisible war.

I hope you never have to see another person face the same choice.

I hope you have peace.

Everything you need.

“You already have everything you need right now in this very moment to be at ease with your life and yourself.” -Mark Van Buren

I don’t want to be preaching the exact same mindful words that every one else is preaching about ‘living in the present’ but with that in mind, why is everyone preaching it? Because it’s so unbelievably true and because we as habitual humans NEED to be reminded of this constantly. Personally, this summer has been full of objective destinations. I NEEDed to get a nice new vehicle. I NEEDed to get a nice new place. And I NEEDed to get my body into peak physical appearance.

Now I can see my summer of free time nearing an end and I’m looking back at what I accomplished. It is so easy to look at it objectively. I got a new vehicle. I’m moving into a new place. My working out wasn’t quite that successful… but you get the point. No. These THINGS have not changed me at all. What have I actually accomplished over the past 2 months? I made huge strides with my mental health getting a new diagnosis and new medications to trial. I worked on myself as both a friend and a roommate in figuring out what is truly important to me. I’ve made small steps in owning my emotions and learning to recognize when I’m going into one of my phases.

Right now, in this very moment, I have everything I NEED to live a long as happy life. If someone asks me in person I might say I’m trying to save my money for someTHING, I might tell you about the new stuff I got, and I might tell you about the drinks I had. But right now me and you are gonna share a little secret; that sh*t doesn’t matter. I matter. You matter. Sh*t doesn’t matter.

Thanks for listening.

Christopher.

Three’s

The 3 scariest words I can say or hear: I DON’T KNOW

Where do you want to go? What do we do now? How do you feel? Why are you acting that way?

I remember that in high school I had convinced myself that I was ugly and incapable of being loved. And I reached some weird, comforting acceptance with that notion. You see the voice in my head could convince me of anything. We all have an internal dialogue that may busy our mind or stress us out. Yet it is almost as if the voice I speak of is separate from myself. It represents all the judgement and hate that the world could pour down onto a single person. This voice looks down at me as if I’m the most gullible, vulnerable child one could imagine. And it holds no mercy. It throws my sense of logic and reasoning out the window and can convince me of anything with its overpowering negativity and implication of emotional danger.

At this point of my life I have fought back for the right to believe that there are people in this world who could find me attractive and better yet people who could love me. But even still, in my darkest moments, I am convinced otherwise.

Do you know how lonely it is to live in a world where you are surrounded by people who cannot love you?

– I DON’T KNOW-

The 3 most destructive words I can hear: BE A MAN

In my adolescence I remember getting into yet another fight with my older brother and I ran out of the house as my emotions boiled over. I can still see my childhood house so vividly.

I sat on the edge of our tiled walkway outside the front door, with my bare feet on the gravel and my head stuck between my knees. Snot was dripping down from my nose and splashing on the rocks below. I could hear my father yelling from inside but this time I did not go to him. I could not hold my head up and look him in the eyes. Eventually he came to me and explained that I had to find a different way of expressing my emotions because “real men don’t cry”. To this day I can still pinpoint the moment when a part of my childhood died and ‘Manhood’ became a dream that I would forever chase and never achieve.

That moment fragmented my relationship with my father for years to come. I’ve never felt man enough to impress a girl I liked. I’ve never felt man enough to be comfortable working a hard labour job. And when I got jumped and sucker punched by a kid and his friends and I offered a handshake instead of a fist in return I was the coward and he was the man. And when the girl pleads with me to open up and tell her what’s in my head I’m too much of a ‘man’ to show her my true emotions.

-BE A MAN-

The 3 saddest words anyone can say: I GIVE UP.

I have no idea when I first became ‘depressed’ but I do know graduating high school was the beginning of the almost end for me. I had no idea what to do with my life, and that tore me apart. I concluded that I would just work my hardest at whatever work I could find and at the end of each day if I had made more money than I had lost; then it was a step forward. No matter how small that step might’ve been. But it broke me down. I lost my spirit. I became  irritable and aggressive with my words. The negativity of the voice in my head had taken over my whole livelihood. I lost myself. And then I drove away the woman that I loved so dearly.

At this point it felt as if it was me against the world, and the world was clearly winning. I finally said those three words. The voices took over in my head. You can’t live without her. You can’t do this. You’re worthless. You should be ashamed. I gave up.

There was the time I went into the bathroom, found a bottle of sleeping pills and swallowed all that were remaining. I awoke to an urgent knocking on the door and to this day I do not think I can fully comprehend the fear that was in my friends eyes as I opened the door. That fear was for me? I certainly didn’t believe it at the time.

There was the time I researched how to overdose on Tylenol. You had to take just the right amount in the right time span to have a chance at killing your self or else your body would be able to reject them. It was a lot. Thankfully I’ve never been much of a chemist and I lay in my car parked at that dead end road for an entire night puking up red pills; higher than a kite. I don’t know if it was my suicidal state or the meds but that night my voice came to life. It sat beside me in my car, looked down at me in pity, and told me I was so useless I couldn’t even figure out how to kill myself.

-I GIVE UP-

The 3 words that can still win over: I LOVE YOU.

Months ago my father told me he was proud of me. I said thanks, quickly hung up the phone, and began to cry. I have no recollection of him ever saying I love you but that phone call meant everything to me. I know my brother has had similar difficulties in life as me, but we’ve never really been able to talk about it. If only I could say those words more often.

When the first love of my life said it to me I thought it meant she could save me. But it turns out a 19 year old girl, who’s going through her own struggles, doesn’t know how to save an extremely dependent and suicidal boy who won’t let her tell anyone else about his problems. Go figure.

Since then I’ve let fear take over. Fear that I would make the same mistakes again. And when you give fear the opportunity to take control; it will. So here we are. If only I could let those three words heal instead of complicate. The good news is I still believe in the power of those words. Even in my current state of mind. Time and time again I have learnt that I can get better only to end up lying on my bed, restless and hopeless. Feeling isolated from the world and thinking I’ve messed it all up. And the voice is now screaming at me that I do not show people how fucked up I am. That I do not tell people of my story. But maybe love is enough to shut it up.

-I LOVE YOU-

Christopher