None of us gets out of here alive 

Driving home during a rainstorm

Lost in the pitter patter of the falling drops and swish swish of the windshield wipers

Out of blackness a thought came barrelling through 

It felt so crystal clear

Like something tangible that I could reach out and touch 

It was so real…

I’ve wasted so much time

Not living 

Just barely existing

I wish I could blame it on being diagnosed with MS

But it started way before that

I think it goes so far back that I barely remember a time where I viewed life as something to be enjoyed

And not as something to suffer through 

I went to a new therapist

And amidst all of the background questions

He asked when was the last time I felt that things were good for the most part

And it pained me to say that I couldn’t recall such a time

It makes me wonder when I unconsciously put my life on hold while waiting for the dark clouds to pass me by

It makes me wonder why I thought that I could wait out something as patient as depression

It makes me wonder when I gave in

It makes me wonder when I gave up

That strength you see is my struggle to survive

Not the struggle to live

Not the struggle to be happy

But just to make it through 

one more 

fucking day

And I’ve been caught up in the need for preservation

Instead of the determination of perseverance

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Distress lines

I’m sitting here on my bed on hold with a distress line

The irony is not lost on me

I’ve called one of these before

A long time ago

I was scared then

And I didn’t know what to do

My anxiety was so bad

I couldn’t leave the house

And my panic attacks were so debilitating 

I was so afraid of what was happening in my brain

And the loss of control I felt

It’s different now

I’m not scared 

And that makes it even worse 

Somehow 

I know what happens after the panic subsides

And the anxiety becomes manageable

Bearable

But these other feelings and thoughts remain

Like bitter reminders 

And the inexplicable sadness is suffocating

The quiet is haunting

The pain is excruciating 

And I do what we all do

I reach out


For someone to help me

To make it better

To stop the sadness so I can breathe

To shatter the quiet

To minimize the pain 

It’s been something like 10 plus years since the last time I called a distress line 

The only similarity between these two times, is the lack of hope I felt

Hope for better

Hope for different 

Hope for a sense of peace

There’s no hope in my heart

There’s none in my mind

There’s only the automated message reminding me that there are so many other souls out there tonight who can’t find any hope to hold on to either

Somehow that makes me feel a little less sad 

And the irony isn’t lost on me 

Graffiti Alley

Not the one I remember from my youth, but this picture does evoke the feelings I had when I was 15 at the original Grafitti Alley. Felt like I was exploring an unknown secret place. Like Harry Potter and Diagon Valley. I remember going home afterwards and smelling like incense and vintage clothes and unwrapping my small purchases and feeling so giddy that I knew of a hidden place with all kinds of the coolest shit my 15 year old could even conjur up.

Delusional hope vs. Hopeful delusion

hope

hōp/

1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, dream, daydream, pipe dream

de·lu·sion
dəˈlo͞oZHən/

1. an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
synonyms: misapprehension, misconception, misunderstanding, mistake, error, misinterpretation, misconstruction, misbelief; fallacy, illusion, fantasy

I keep questioning if I made the right decision in doing the Lemtrada treatment 

I obviously knew about the risks associated

But I don’t think I really grasped how shitty I might feel after the treatment 

Complications and consequences always seem so far fetched 

But of course, there was always that worry in the back of my brain that  maybe I’d be worse off after the treatment 

But hope is a funny thing

It makes you think of possibilities that extend far beyond your wildest dreams 

Hope is supposed to be a positive feeling

Unlike, say delusions

At some point

You have to wonder if your hope is nothing more than a delusion

You have to wonder if you should look back on your life, the facts of your life 

And review the outcomes, weigh the evidence 

And calculate the possibilities that that ‘hope’ is nothing more than a delusion

If it’s nothing more than: 

‘an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder

See, herein lies the problem 

I like facts

I like evidence

I like scientifically backed information

I like making decisions based on such things

I do not like wishful thinking

I do not like wondering about the could be’s

And yet, in spite of all of this

I still hope that my delusion is real

It wouldn’t be luck if you could get out of life alive

What do you do when you’ve finally made it to the top of the summit

And then you discover another mountain

After your blood, sweat and tears have been used up and there is without a doubt, nothing left

What do you do?

You see a new mountain

And it’s not necessarily bigger

Or more intimidating 

But it’s one more mountain

And you thought you were done

Your hiking boots are worn out and your feet are blistered and swollen

And you wonder if there really is only one more mountain

What do you do?

You can’t see past this new mountain and there could be another one

There could be a dozen more

You’ve already erected that victory flag

The one you thought represented your greatest struggle 

And now it waves mockingly in the wind

Reminding you that your victory was short lived and the battle ain’t even close to over 

It’s only just begun

That fight that motivated you up that first mountain has been all used up

And that fight deep inside has been stamped out by the never ending obstacles that keep popping up 

What do you do?

When the people cheering you on have all gone away 

And the stories of success have all been written

What do you do?

When it’s just you and that next mountain

and it just stands there with every intention of waiting you out

And it knows you’ve got no way around it

It’s just you against that motherfucking mountain 

Just you 

and 

another 

fucking 

mountain

‘In order to love who you are, you can’t hate the experiences that shaped you’

Something has been bothering me lately…more than usual.

Mental illness is embedded within my family. It wasn’t talked about openly and growing up, people rarely understood what it was like to have mental illness or what it was like to have a parent struggle with their mental health. 

There were no family counselling sessions or support offered from extended family. 

No one at school to talk to.

No friends to commiserate with.

It was like a poorly kept secret, that everyone knew about but no one ever addressed.

It was well into my adolescence when I actually began to grasp that my father wasn’t being mean or cold. There was a name for it. It explained so much.

But still I don’t think I fully understood

Even when I would fetch him water in the mornings which I knew would help ease his panic.

Even when the sound of a door closing brought him to an angry place.

Even when I noticed the eggshells that we walked on leaving a messy trail.

I’m pained to admit that it took me dealing with my own mental illness for me to even remotely grasp the severity of what my father was going through…had been going through for so many years.

And still we didn’t really talk about it.

I remember asking my mother to tell me more about what had happened when he first got sick (Italian speak for when his symptoms began to appear).

I listened intently.

I wanted to know. To understand.  

To find myself in the reflections of him.

But it was too much

It was too painful

I made her stop

And I’ve never wanted to hear any more.

My father is older now. Weird to say that he’s ‘elderly’. 

He’s 71 years old.

And it hasn’t gotten easier for him

Or for us.

No matter how much I can relate to him.

I still feel like a stranger looking through a window at someone that I can never really reach. 

Unlike movies and books, his struggle continues.

Even with having grandkids and being the patriarch of a kooky but kind family that love him very much.

It all still persists

And still people don’t understand

They don’t understand his struggle

Or ours

And how lonely both sides are.

Anyone suffering with mental illnesses especially anxiety and depression has surely heard people say ridiculous comments like ‘everyone is anxious’ or ‘we all worry’ or ‘everyone gets sad or down’ or ‘you gotta be positive’

Those people despite being naive are also so lucky that they have never known the truth of what it means to have a mental illness. 

They haven’t had to beg to any higher being to make the pain go away.

To make the fear of going crazy end.

To make the sad thoughts disappear.

To constantly be at war with your own mind. 

I know physical pain is horrible but it’s like an outside force causing it.

Mental illness is different.

You feel at war with yourself.

And that’s so frightening

Because even laying comfortably in bed, those feelings haunt you.

They keep you awake all night

They make you want to sleep all day.

And you can’t really explain that to people.

When people ask you how you are. You can’t blurt out that you’re feeling particularly like you’re going fucking bonkers.

You can’t just say that the sadness in the world is overwhelming you.

It’s so shitty when it’s going on in your own body and mind.

And it’s unbearable to watch your parent struggle.

When you’re young and you want comfort but can’t find it

When you’re young and you want to feel secure and there’s only panic.

When you’re both older and you want to see peace settling in but there’s only turmoil.

When you’re both older and you want to see a happy ending. But you only see him in pain and you can’t help but worry that will be your ending too.

When you’ve done everything but you can’t escape your family history or genetics. 

But at the very least, I can unequivocally say:

Dad…now I understand.

Xo,
Angela

Time

I think I’m impatient                             I want to feel better.                         Not even ‘good’.                                 Just better than right now             Than yesterday                                  I’m tired of feeling so tired.            This week was long and hard and too fucking hot.                                       I feel like I’m struggling so hard to keep my ahead above water.              I know recovery takes time

But I’m so impatient.                            I feel like I’ve wasted so much time already.                                        Anxiety and depression stole years from me.                                             And Multiple Sclerosis has hijacked my life.                                                  It’s hard to remain positive.         When every fibre and cell in my body wants to give in to the negativity.                                        When I’m so tired I can’t think straight.                                           When my head and eyes hurt so much I just want to…

I’m impatient, I know.                     But I’m trying.                                      I’m trying to take it day by day.    Hour by hour.                              Minute by minute.                           And every moment that passes, I mentally tick it off.                            But that next moment feels twice as long.                                                    And even though I know that the time has no choice but to pass and keep moving.                                         It feels like I’ll never get to the next second 

I’m impatient.                                          I know.                                                 But I’m no fool.                                        I know that time waits for no one. Or for anything.                                 Not even for me.                                         Not even for Multiple Sclerosis. 

Some days

All you can do is sit tight

Hunker down 

And wait for the storm to pass

Today is one of those days

Where I feel a lot more pacifist than warrior

And the stormy skies seem to get darker and the thunder sounds angry

Today, I’m part wounded victim and part nefarious villain

Today I wonder if I chase the storms more than just wait for them to move elsewhere

Today I think about people who only care to dance in the rain and don’t see the lightening approaching 

Today I wonder how those people can twirl and move beneath such turbulent vicious skies

Today I think those people are part lucky and part naive

They don’t have to wait and for the storm to hit

Dreading it and longing for the solitude it brings 

They don’t have to wait for the lightening to crash

For the angry skies to open up and unleash their relentless downpour

Those people…

They just know that the sky is turning a different colour and the noises are louder

But they don’t see the danger approaching

They don’t see the bleakness of the sky and how it’s lost its vivid colours

And they don’t hear the outrage in the loud noises

They don’t see the beauty in the lightening or the havoc it can create

Those lucky pathetic people

Today, I wish I was like them 

The mighty dragon

When I first started experiencing panic attacks, I read a book on panic disorder and anxiety and how to cope with it. 

It spoke about it in euphemisms of dragons and how the more you fuelled the dragon, the stronger and more powerful it became. 

All these years later and that has stuck out so clearly in my muddled brain. 

When you’re the one with that anxiety problems, that’s exactly how you envision it: this powerful, fire-breathing and larger than life creature…at least that’s how I have always envisioned it. 

What makes it so all-consuming, is that it’s a product of your own fucked up brain, and that means it can play upon all your biggest fears and insecurities because it’s the very one that invented them.

I’ve learned time and time again that if I could just stop feeding the dragon, if I could accept the fears and not fight so hard against them, it would be uncomfortable but it would eventually dissolve into a puddle of memories. 

It sounds simplistic. Stop fighting it. Accept it. 

Let it run its course. 

But that’s the ironic twist of it all…anxiety is all about the minds constant racing, conjuring up all the possibilities. 

A therapist once told me that anxious people have an certain part of the brains that are lit up, unlike other people. 

That people who are anxious are usually very intelligent and that’s what makes them analyze and ponder over every single fucking possibility. 

So of course it would make some brutal sort of sense that turning off our brains would be the one thing that absolves our pain. 

It’s like drowning but telling people that they will survive, the waves will cease..if only they stop struggling

I wish that if I could accept it one time, it would be enough to erase all my future suffering.

I can’t say it aloud but maybe if I write it out, like a silent incantation…it can come true.

I’ll accept it, if it could just promise me back that it would be enough.

I’ll drown

Just promise to save me before the waves wash me away

Looking California but feeling Minnesota 

I was a huge Nirvana fan when I was a youngster. It was the first time I’d connected to the music that was being made, instead of just enjoying the beat. 

And it was fucking life changing. I had no clue that there were people out there in the world who thought like me and said things I wanted to say and screamed how I wanted to. Not just people, but adults. I would think ‘that’s how I’m gonna be when I grow up’. I felt reassured in knowing that these people who I both looked up to and thought I was  like, were successful and had each made it out of their struggles, alive.

But as we all know, that’s not how the story ended.Kurt Cobain didn’t make it out alive. It was unsurprising and also a total shock when he was found dead. He screamed and wailed and sang his way through his life but in the end he couldn’t defeat his demons.

Chris Cornell always seemed to be different from the rest of the Seattle scene. Where the others seemed uncomfortable with their fame, Chris seemed to just go with it. I don’t know what it was about him. But he oozed an energy. And that’s not to say he didn’t have his fair share of battles. He stated that he struggled with mental health and addiction issues but it seemed that he had come out on the other side of it.

He made it. 

He slayed the beast, quieted the demons. Did what he had to do, in order to survive.
But at 52 years of age, his life ended. I was saddened when I learned of his passing. Whether the Ativan contributed to his demise or if it was the depression that had plagued him throughout his life, it doesn’t matter. He wasn’t selfish, stupid or ungrateful for his success. I’ve read so many comments in which people mock him for being a rock star with money and belittle his struggles. He was a human being in pain. A person in a state of pain can only exist for so long. Synonyms for ‘pain’ include: suffering, agony, torture, torment, discomfort. I don’t know about to but each of those words incite thoughts of wanting whatever it is causing that pain, to just stop…to end.

After his last concert, he took his life by suicide.

Because at the end of the day, when the lights go out, the people fade away and night creeps in; we are left alone with just the thoughts in our heads.

We cannot escape the words, taunts, memories or harsh reminders.

And if you can’t be safe and alone, with only your thoughts to keep you company…well in the words of Soundgarden:

Words you say never seem to live up 

To the ones inside your head

The lives we make

Never seem to get us anywhere 

But dead.
-Angela xo