Whenever my birthday passes I’m glad that I’m still alive to see how good things in my life have become. If I had died when I attempted suicide at 16 then I would have missed out on a lot. I know that in the moment things are horrible and for some they probably have been for a really long time; you just never know what’s going to happen. For some maybe life doesn’t get better and I am sorry for that and not in a pitying way. I am sorry that they fought as hard as they could and still didn’t get what they deserved: happiness, relief, freedom, a chance, calm and things we may never know about.
Your life as you remember it
This is a space for you to say the important events of your life as you remember them, when and if you feel able to. You may find it easier to do a drawing or a timeline.
I remember events by what grade I was in so that it how this timeline will look.
May 1989- I’m born.
Grade 1, start school full time
Grade 2, got my first pet, a rabbit named Rebecca
Grade 4, my Aunt died (first experience with death) and her children, my cousins, move to the USA with their father.
Grade 6, I’m forced to go to new school in my area and make new friends.
Grade 6, Valentine’s Day Dance (no guys want to dance with me).
Grade 7, first wrote about suicide.
Grade 8, I made my first cut.
Grade 8, caught cutting and taken to hospital, parents were told I was experiencing hormonal changes and that my cutting was nothing to worry about.
Grade 9, began drinking, smoking pot and cigarettes.
Grade 9, Rebecca dies and friend buys me a new rabbit named Kit.
Grade 9, Have my first “relationship” and dumped because I wouldn’t have sex with him.
Grade 9, start seeing a counsellor at school because my friends were really upset with my cutting.
Grade 9, received an award from my English teacher for showing her “how creative a grade 9 can be”.
Grade 9/10, starting taking prescription medications recreationally.
Grade 9/10, have my first “long term” relationship, 7 months that was very chaotic, he dumped me.
Grade 10, got my cat Phoenix
Grade 10, second “long term relationship”, 7 months, chaotic but nice, he dumped me.
Grade 10, cut 69 times on my leg, including the word “bitch”.
Grade 10, decided I wanted to become a social worker.
Grade 11, began binge drinking and partying regularly.
Grade 11, got my second cat Duchess.
Grade 11, got into a chaotic relationship that when rocky meant I couldn’t hang out with my friends.
Grade 11, got a new counsellor through school.
Grade 11, diagnosed with Dysthymia and prescribed Prozac and Zyprexa.
Grade 11, first and only suicide attempt.
Grade 11, became very close with a guy friend of mine.
Grade 11, decided I need to overcome depression.
Grade 11, switch medications, Cipralex.
Grade 12, began my third “long term” relationship, 7 months, emotionally abusive, he dumped me.
Grade 12, unnamed trauma.
Grade 12, developed alter to deal with trauma.
Grade 12, became part time student to improve my grades.
Grade 12, lost a lot of my friends due to a controlling short term relationship and part time student status.
Grade 12, stopped taking psych meds
Grade 12, apply to university and am accepted into Ryerson U for social work.
First Year, got my first job, summer job.
First Year, beat depression.
First Year, started my first long term relationship, 14 months, emotionally and psychologically abusive.
First Year, diagnosed with BPD.
First Year, made friends with the girls I would be close with until we finished school.
First Year, left counselling
Second Year, left my long term relationship.
Second Year, started dating my current partner.
Third Year, began placement at children’s after school program.
Third Year, I finally began to understand what I was learning.
Third Year, participated in Mad social work research.
Fourth Year, moved in with my current partner.
Fourth Year, created The Madvocates.
Fourth Year, got my cat Omen.
2011, got a job with the City.
2011, joined YO
2012, went back to counselling.
2012, diagnosed with borderline personality traits.
2012, began taking Seroquel on an as needed basis.
2012, began stopping my self harm
2012, applied to go to college for ECE.
2012, celebrated 4 years with my current partner.
2012, joined Ryerson U Mental Health Task Force
2012, became published author.
2013, celebrated 8 months of being self harm free.
2013, did a mental health training at work.
That’s it so far!
I have been involved in two support groups throughout my mental health experience. My current one is fantastic (and not just because I co-facilitate) but my first support group was less than desirable. I think it comes down to the people which can also mean how it’s run.
I was asked by my counsellor at an outpatient program in Oshawa if I would like to be a part of an all girl depression and anxiety group. It would run once a week for a month or so for about an hour. I had seen groups on tv and it looked like something I would be interested in so I signed up.
To make a long story short let’s just say it was a group where majority of people complained about how they didn’t want to be there. I was under the impression that we all chose to be there and in theory this is true but some girls were told by their parents that they had to go. Group consisted of either talking completely off topic (for example, hair dye) or talking about how certain girls didn’t want to be there.
I would sit quietly and wait for group to be over. I wanted to make friends with girls who had similar experiences but it wasn’t working out that way.
At one point I asked the group if any of them identified as having depression or anxiety. Out of about 6 girls only 1 said yes. So why were these other girls here? What is the point of this group?
Probably the worst experience I had at the group was when I received a phone call from a guy I saw only once and he told me that if I didn’t come see him again he would strangle me. I don’t remember if I walked back into the group room and told them about the phone call but the point is, is that nothing was done about it in a space that should have been supportive.
That group was run by professionals, including my own counsellor and they did nothing to run the group. I currently do a better job of running my support group as a person with no counselling training but as someone with lived experience.
I love the support group I’m in now and it’s even better because as a facilitator I get to help design and run it!
Groups are not for everyone and there will be bad groups. Just as we will not always get along with our counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists we will not always get along with our group. Try out groups and if all else fails make your own! You do not need professional qualifications to sit with others and provide support!
Group Therapy in Toronto:
CAMH: Integrative Group Therapy (concurrent disorders)
YO Group (Youth 13-23, this is my group!)
What Next! Peer Support Program (adults, mental health)
There are a few things but some I’d rather not mention.
I guess I would tell a friend to NEVER give up a good thing and better yet know when a good thing is gone.
Day 6: Your views on mainstream music
I do listen to and enjoy some mainstream music. For the most part I think even the songs I’ll tolerate are garbage. Music is now create for the sake of it instead of being created for a purpose!
I feel ripped off that I grew up in a time where Rap became about bitches and ho’s and all pop music is about loving some loser.
I found these cartoons sometime last year. They’re pretty amusing!
Story of my life!
Sarah Silverman has said that due to her and her family’s history of depression she does not want to have children. THIS IS COMPLETELY HER DECISION!
The fear is passing on the biological gene (which has a debatable existence) to her children which she doesn’t feel strong enough to see though. At least she can admit it!
What makes this article beautiful and worth the read is that it acknowledges that with depression and other psychological disorders can come amazing attributes that we want people to have like sensitivity. Depending on how this is nurtured it can be good and bad.
Another example is PTSD. Individuals with powerful memories were more likely to experience PTSD because of their ability to recall traumatic memories and in great detail aka flashbacks. My memory sucks so maybe that is why I have never experienced any level of PTSD despite the horrible things I have gone through, My emotional memory is great though (ugh).
We all know of the artists that have mental health issues. Part of the reason they are so creative could be because they experience psychological difficulties! I know I see that in myself. I have always being writing and have been complimented many times on how well I write, even at an early age. My experiences usually end up in my writing.
If these genes are labeled as “bad” and are basically bred out and die off then we will lose some of these traits that we hold near and dear: good memory, sensitivity, creativity, and more.
To get a little personal…
When I was younger and in the height of my depression I was made worse because I thought about how I should never have children. I dreaded thinking that I could create a child that would possibly be made to suffer the way I had. I thought it would be irresponsible of me to bring a child into this world with such risk.
My mind has since changed as my knowledge and beliefs of mental health have grown and changed. I now believe that if any of my children develop mental health issues I am the best parent to deal with it due to my lived experience. The problem I will probably face is “experts” disagreeing with how I want to help my children.
I hated my depression but I do believe I would not be who I am without. Looking past the darkness, I want my children to be empathetic like I am. I want them to be creative. If it means they have to go through a tough patch then I will be there with them.
My partner read this article and he was telling me about it last night while we waited for our food to be made at the new Japanese restaurant that opened up down the street. I felt like he finally understood me. It was like seeing it written down, with studies to back it up, finally made it click that I am a highly sensitive person and that because of how I grew up it exploded into something devastating when it can be a very good trait. It is only now, that I’m a young adult, that I’m trying to rein it in. Still be sensitive but not explosive.
All or nothing
Black and White
Good or Evil
Innocent or Guilty
No Grey Area
Some individuals who experience Borderline Personality Disorder (and other mental health issues) will engage in a type of thinking called splitting. Most people (whoever they are….) have the ability to see both the positive and the negative in a situation or individual. They can accept something in its entirety. For those experiencing BPD it is difficult to understand these contradictions and incorporate them into their every day thinking.
The result is two rigid categories of “good” or “bad”. Idealizing and devaluing come out of this type of thinking and it’s how people experiencing BPD can quickly switch from one to the other. To them a person cannot be both good and bad, you can only be one.
Split thinking can also be attributed to the individual doing the thinking. They can begin to see only one side of themselves which causes a fragmented sense of self and distress.
This of course does not happen all the time. I personally have the ability to see the “grey” in certain situations and people. Seeing the “grey” becomes more difficult, if not impossible, when I have never had a positive experience with the person or situation. Without a reference point I end up happily putting them into the “bad” category. If I don’t have a positive point of reference which helps me understand that you have the capability of being a good person then I can’t imagine that you are good.
I am describing splitting as being a horrible experience but I have actually saved myself a lot of pain, physical and emotional, by having split thinking. When I was younger I held on to every painful memory, experience and person. It was not helping my depression to hang on to people who were controlling and abusive. I used to think that everyone was good and that it was my fault. If I was a better person than they would be happier with me. I don’t know how I began split thinking but I now have the ability to say, “This person has hurt me. Fuck them.” And for the most part that person will never bother me again.
Many would say that going to the extreme of hate so quickly is dangerous but I’m not distressed by it. I have let people back in that I have in the past thrown into the “bad” category but there are people or situations that will never be “good” in my mind.
Splitting has allowed me to let go. Splitting has allowed me to save myself pain.
I won’t say that I would like to keep this way of thinking because I do want to see people and situations as a whole. A middle ground seems so impossible at times that I don’t know how to do it. I’m all about extremes. Sometimes that’s “good” and sometimes that’s “bad”. Can there be a grey area about extremes?
Source: Understanding Splitting