(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 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 and travelled to 12 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, 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.
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
Suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury
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.
And for example, certain words that people use casually or in passing can set off a visceral reaction in me. Words like ‘cheat’, ‘lie’, ‘steal’ cause me to get nervous and people instantly become suspicious. I am highly sensitive to people’s judgements or perceptions about me, and 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 7 teeth removed as a child and now my mouth is too small, so I struggle over certain words, including saying my own name!) 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, prejudiced, antagonistic, misrepresenting, deceitful, 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 they feel suspicious or wary, or watch me more closely, I conform to those 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; I am afraid of being misperceived so I fulfill what I feel like their expectations are. 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. 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 for every work shift. Simple social interactions (or rejections, gossip, 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 being in public, coping with social differences, or being at work will become less stressful, tense, or discordant beneath the surface. Peace to all.
Note to others: For all my life, up until my hospitalizations, I have been among the far-Left as an anti-oppression advocate and environmental activist. Not only have I had the privilege of meeting Aboriginal activist Ward Churchill and African-American educator bell hooks, I even got OISE to invite bell hooks as a panel speaker at their ‘Spirit Matters’ conference in 2004. Yet nowadays, people assume I’m a complete XENOPHOBE based on my reactions and behaviours.
Yet I’m queer, Asian, female and feminist, low-income, have multiple disabilities (learning, memory, mental health), have always befriended and loved people from across the spectrum, and so on.
As an aside…sometimes being so embroiled in socio-environmental activism can mean spirituality takes a back seat to the immediate concerns of oppression and injustice. I’m grateful for my ‘New Age’ years when I was able to explore my spiritual side mostly unfettered by socio-political concerns. Paradise Lost.