(This page used to be 2 short paragraphs, but I have expanded it to explain myself to the various people I come into contact with.)
Co-written and edited by kassyf (Fiverr).
This blog is the result of a suggestion by my uncle, who has been supportive through these challenging times (like sending me a book on one woman’s sudden mental health spiral) even when others have not. People that I have known all or most of my life do not understand and some have cut ties. Photography is very therapeutic for me and has been a great way to reconnect with people.
I am currently using a Cannon Powershot camera, though it’s a small point-and-shoot camera and some people at a photography meet up I used to attend laughed about it. 🙂 Actually, now that smartphones can pretty much replace a camera, my more recent pictures from this year (2018) are taken with an iPhone SE that came free with a plan from Best Buy.
I am Toronto born and raised, at the tail-end of the 60s. It was a much different time. I now have a passion for preserving the beautiful and relatively balanced Canada, I once knew and loved.
After university I lived abroad for 5 years in Asia and 1 year in India, and travelled to 10 countries during that time. The intensity of this travel experience left me disoriented. In my late 20s I chose to leave my job at an airline to go “save the world” by pursuing Environmental Studies. After much thought about world problems (social, environmental, economic), I came to the conclusion that fostering more co-operatives in Canada and around the world would be ideal.
I feel co-ops create community, promote true democracy (one member = one vote), encourage environmental stewardship, and are the perfect counterbalance to unchecked capitalism. They would help solve SO many of the worlds problems. You can learn more about co-ops here: http://www.learningcentre.coop/content/what-co-operative
Unfortunately, increasing mental health issues left me caring little about the world around me. A diagnosis in my 30s changed everything. I struggle with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), social anxiety, depression, and slight BPD (borderline personality disorder). The above issues – which are my and partly CAMH’s diagnoses – along with suspected schizophrenia (my current psychiatrist’s diagnosis, which I completely reject and disagree with) has lead to me losing my right to make my own medical decisions. I am currently on a form of ‘Mental Incapacity’, and a Community Treatment Order (often reserved for people who are violent or non-compliant).
What is BPD, anyway?
Borderline personality disorder
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling or binge eating
Unstable or fragile self-image
Unstable and intense relationships
Up and down moods, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress
Affects job performance and one’s ability to “fit in” with coworkers
(usually this means suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury, but in my case it’s other self-destructive behaviours, like sending emails and missives, or writing notes to complete strangers)
Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
Ongoing feelings of emptiness
Frequent, intense displays of anger
Stress-related hypersensitivity/seeming paranoia that comes and goes
I have struggled with hospitalizations (10 in 10 years), been apprehended by police (8 times), manhandled by security guards, pinned down by guards and nurses and forcibly injected, and each time lost a significant amount of weight from fasting. I also struggle to maintain employment because of some of the symptoms and behaviors caused by my mental illness. I can sometimes appear to be perfectly normal and yet suddenly I can get triggered by people or social environments, such as being at work.
I get triggered by SEX, MONEY, and POWER issues. Most people interpret this as greed, dishonesty, treachery, lust, or what have you. I basically lack ‘boundaries’.
And for example, certain words that people use casually can set off a totally visceral reaction in me. Words like *cheat*, *lie*, *steal* cause me to get nervous, and people instantly become suspicious and on high alert. I am highly sensitive to people’s judgements or perceptions about me. Especially since 1998, people have doubted the veracity of what I say or who I am. I’ve become dislocated as a person.
For example, even when I say my name, a few people snort in derision, like I’ve tacked on an Anglicized first name. (It doesn’t help that I had 4 permanent teeth removed as a child and now my mouth is too small, so I struggle over certain words, including saying my own name!!)
And, for example, I am university educated with 2 years of post-grad, yet prior to my mental health breakdown, I ended up as a Dishwasher in Scotiabank Head Office’s cafeteria, where one of my closest high school friends was working as an Accountant. No shame in it, I enjoyed the job, but I got let go because I offended the Supervisor – and I couldn’t even help it. Long story, but she confided to me that her first baby had died of SIDS, and I started to smile nervously and uncontrollably. The very next day, I was let go – even though my work performance was excellent. The point is, the person whom I’ve been all my life took an extreme turn for the worse.
But the issue runs much, much deeper – to the point that the Canadian govt put me under illegal surveillance for 7 years. That’s a long, complicated and ugly story.
Anyway. While I was once well liked and friendly, now people may feel I come across as bigoted, deceitful, grasping, and even treacherous. It can be very lonely and brings sadness, but I can’t help it. I love and care about people, despite the energies I may give off. It is obvious that I need help with interpersonal relations, as I can bring out the worst in people.
When people feel suspicious or wary of me – or watch me more closely (even when they think I’m not aware of their scrutiny) – I conform to their expectations. I can behave as though I am lying, when I am telling the truth; I can appear as though I am hiding something when I am not, or it is NOT what people think it is. To most people, they think I ‘have money’ and am stereotypically Asian (book-smart, money-savvy, etc – obviously the film Crazy, Rich Asians was made for a reason). And yet, ironically, to those with money and resources, they feel I am somehow grasping after their wealth. HAHAHA!!
Unfortunately, I fulfill whatever I feel like people’s expectations are of me – energetically, verbally, or what have you. For example some shopkeepers watch me like a hawk and have had staff follow me through their stores. The more they watch me, the more nervous and guilty I behave – even though I have NEVER shoplifted since that piece of licorice at the age of 7. (Believe me, I would prostitute myself first, before I would ever steal from another.)
Yet, when I feel watched I can give off a negative vibe, which in turn results in bad service, among other things. People f**k up my orders all the time, and likely spit in my food! It never fails.
It has also caused me to lose many jobs, as people instinctively dislike and distrust me. And particularly since new work situations are stressful and discombobulating, I have now been through over 40 jobs (!!!) since 2002. It can take me 4-6 months to relax into a new work environment, but I usually lose the job well before that time.
In more recent years I have found anxiety and misconstrued energies and interactions with people affects daily life, even to the point I have been unable to go out in public or even do the weekly grocery shopping with my partner Don. I’m doing much better now (relatively *normal* – fingers crossed), but I still take tranquilizers during every work shift. Simple social interactions (or rejections, gossip, politics, etc) can take me hours to *decompress* from, and can haunt me for days afterward. I left one 3-month bartending job because my co-workers thought I cheated another bartender out of tips. The more I explained myself, the less they believed me. So now, I work in non-tipping environments to avoid being around money at all.
Whatever my weird behaviors or responses may be, please do continue to look beyond that to the humanity that wants so much to be seen, embraced, and accepted.
To my Library friends,
I am happily working 2 part-time jobs and love my co-workers. At one in particular, we hug and joke with one another. And sure, there have been hiccups. As mentioned above, I have PTSD and become hypervigilant, so I give off VERY NEGATIVE vibes to people which I cannot help. In May 2019, I will be entering an 11-week trauma program, which I am hoping will help heal or transform some of my *triggers*. I am especially hopeful that the following will become less stressful:
Being in public
Coping with ‘social differences’
Being at work
Sitting among people (like family or co-workers) with whom I have heightened political relations with. eg, I will eat quickly, drink copiously or otherwise ‘busy myself’ to mask my anxiety and distress.