(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 [EDIT: like sending me a book on one woman’s sudden mental health spiral; and I didn’t want to be crass by mentioning it here, yet he also bought me an Olympus Pen Lite starter camera to get me going; however, I opted to buy a simpler, more compact Canon S110 point-and-shoot, and later gave the other camera to my companion Don] — 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 has been a great way to reconnect with people.
Some people at a photography meet-up I used to attend got a real chuckle out of my camera, lol. 🙂 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 (yay).
I am Toronto born and raised, at the tail-end of the 60s. It was a much different time. I now feel strongly about 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 I travelled to 10 countries during that time. The intensity of my time abroad has permanently impacted me, though I have tried hard to heal.
In my late 20s I chose to leave my job at an airline to go “save the world” by pursuing Environmental Studies, and trying to become more involved in the green movement — although I have been concerned about climate change since age 11. 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.
Unfortunately, my current shrink and I don’t see eye to eye — far from it. I myself know I struggle with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), social anxiety, depression, and slight BPD (borderline personality disorder) – which are my and partly CAMH’s diagnoses.
What is BPD, anyway?
Borderline personality disorder
(the symptoms vary according to different sources; however, these are the ones most applicable to me)
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 or intense displays of anger
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.
I get especially triggered by SEX, MONEY, and POWER issues. Most people interpret this as greed, dishonesty, treachery, lust, or what have you. Many people, now, have at times suspected me of being a shoplifter or attempting to steal — yet I have never stolen anything in my life. In fact, I have been cheated or stolen from, and otherwise violated, throughout my life. Anyway, I basically lack boundaries, and my ‘chakras’ are severely damaged (if you believe in energy meridians within the body, which science is increasingly proving to be true).
NOTE: I just found out on TV that the incredible inventor Nikola Tesla, who definitely struggled with his mental health, used to get nervous being around jewels. So random, but I can relate.
I am highly sensitive to people’s judgements or perceptions about me. (I may be an actual narcissist.) I get easily hyper-aroused and experience hyper-vigilance — and especially since 1998, people have doubted the veracity of what I say or who I am, and I’ve become dislocated as a person.
When every day is like this, it can make one start to question one’s own identity at a fundamental level. (It doesn’t help that I had several permanent teeth removed as a child, so now I struggle over certain words, including saying my own name!!)
The point is, the person whom I’ve been all my life took an extreme turn for the worse.
Anyway, my actual personal experiences (which involve life and death issues, but which I will not discuss here) have been very intense and prolonged, and contributed to my unwellness. 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; yet 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, and healing from deep trauma, as I now often bring out the worst in people.
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 in my life. Believe me, I would prostitute myself first, before I would ever steal from another.
Yet, I can give off various negative vibes, which in turn results in people scrutinizing me or worse — bad service, among other things. People screw up my orders all the time (and likely spit in my food!). It never fails, and I can predict it like clockwork. Friends have witnessed it repeatedly.
It has also caused me to lose many jobs, as people instinctively dislike and distrust me. It usually takes me 4-6 months to relax into a new work environment, IF I last that long.
In more recent years I have found anxiety, and misconstrued energies and negative 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.
In short, I believe my profound social experiences and various betrayals overseas deeply discombobulated me and brought on many of the then-latent mental health issues I struggle with today.
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. I love it!
(Update: I had to leave that job because I can really only handle banquet-style bars. It was a golf and country club, so it was fine during the slow months, but I knew I couldn’t handle the crazy summer rush.)
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).
Peace to all.
Note to others: I was once among the far-Left as an anti-oppression advocate and environmental activist. I won’t list the various activities, causes and groups that I’ve been involved with, as it escalated into my being seen as a person of interest and an extremist (although the surveillance and harassment I experienced had begun long before that, due to a simple misunderstanding, and simply grew from there).
I’ve had the privilege of meeting Kiran Bedi and Anna Hazare (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Hazare) in India, as well as Aboriginal activist Ward Churchill and African-American educator bell hooks during their respective visits to Toronto. I’ve also had the joy and privilege of knowing and working alongside some of Canada’s most inspiring activists — eg, Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, Angela Bischoff (those early days of TakeTheTooker), Barrie Zwicker (at Citizens Inquiry Into 9-11)!!! All of whom do not nearly get the recognition and appreciation from the wider society that they majorly deserve, in my view.
I was also pleased that OISE/UT took up my suggestion to invite bell hooks to be a panel speaker at their ‘Spirit Matters’ conference in 2004. And yet — due to all my social dysfunction — nowadays, people often assume I’m a completely bigoted XENOPHOBE, based on my subtly negative reactions towards people.
It’s like when you instinctively sense that a person doesn’t like you in some way. But often, it’s because I’m so hyper conscious about how others are perceiving me in a given situation, that I amplify any social differences between me and them — be it race/ethnicity, age, size, orientation, religion, ability, what have you. Even though I myself represent all or most of those differences and have faced many struggles, I just look stereotypically privileged, insular, and square, and people often assume I am judging them. And yet, I have always befriended and loved people from across the spectrum.