Kid, I hope you’ve finally found some peace

I started working with youth in 2008

Up until that point

I sort of dabbled in working with different populations

At a youth shelter, I found my place

It just felt right

Since then

I had worked exclusively with youth

Mostly homeless and/or at risk youth

Eventually I worked out of Mississauga as an outreach worker

Anyway

I have this thing that I do

I read the paper in the mornings or at night

If a headline catches my eye

That something happened in one of the areas that I worked in

I read it

Sometimes it’s about a young person who was a victim of crime

Or a perpetrator

Sometimes it’s about no one I know

Today

It was about someone I think I may have known

His name immediately caught my eye

And while it was spelled incorrectly

His age adds up to who I remembered

He was killed in a violet crime

He was of no fixed address

It all adds up

But all I keep thinking about

Are his vivid blue eyes

And the protective way he took care of his little brother

Sure I remember other things

Like taking him to court and working through his anger with him

Being upset that he got arrested again

Or something else

But I remember more about the long stretches his mother would leave him and his little brother home alone to fend for themselves

While she went to Florida with her boyfriend

With no food in the house

Under the guise that his grandma was watching them

I remember his dysfunctional mother calling me

Alternating between crying and yelling at me

That she couldn’t handle him

Wanted him to move out

I remember when I had two clients scheduled for court on the same day and time

So I figured I’d just drive them both home

No biggie

Until they told me to drop them off at the same location and went off together

If it’s you that was in the paper

If it’s you whose life was snuffed out far too early and much too violently

I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more to help you

I’m sorry that I couldn’t prepare you better for what was coming next

I’m sorry that life treated you unfairly from the beginning

I’m just sorry

And I promise to remember you

With your vivid blue eyes

And the way you wanted to protect your little brother

Rest In Peace, kid

You deserve to finally have some peace

‘Expectation is the root of all heartache.’ Shakespeare

I’m starting a program tomorrow at my local hospital

It’s teaches coping skills for people with anxiety and depression

It is half days on Tuesdays and Fridays for 12 weeks, with a minimum of 5 Thursdays

It is a group format, run by a Social Worker, Registered Nurse and Occupational Therapist and overseen by a Psychiatrist

I’ll have a primary worker and access to the Psychiatrist during the program

At first, I was really intrigued and almost hopeful

Until I went for the info session

It was a few weeks ago

It was run by the OT who was jet lagged and seemed like she hadn’t a clue in the world of what she was talking about

I felt some of my balloon of almost hope deflate

I then went for an assessment last week with the RN, who sat impassively while I cried as she asked questions from her computer

I felt foolish and disappointed when I found out she would become my primary worker

I was accepted into the program and given a start date

Tuesday March 26

Tomorrow

I’ve promised myself that I will give it an honest open-minded try

After all, everyone has bad days and all that

And it would be reckless to throw away an OHIP covered 12 week program off of two measly meetings

Right?

Tomorrow, I’ll be there at 8:45 AM to start my first day

So maybe my balloon of almost hope won’t inflate

But maybe my ballon won’t pop either

And maybe

For right now, that’s good enough

‘Putting up with means withdrawing from panic in panic; adding panic to panic, hoping that panic will go away quickly and not come back; it means avoiding people and places that bring on panic so that one’s horizon becomes narrower and narrower unit it is finally bounded by the front gate…It means continued illness.’ Dr. Claire Weekes

I’m feeling frustrated today

I consider myself a pretty smart person

Also someone who is more self aware than the average person

I’m well versed in all things anxiety and panic related

I feel like I graduated with a masters in this shit

I can recite all the therapy talk

More so

I actually believe in what I’m saying

I am perfectly aware that nothing worse than the panic attack itself, will happen to me

And yet

Every morning I wake up, heart pounding, mind racing

In fear of the next panic attack

Those same panic attacks I’ve been having for over two decades

Those same panic attacks in which what I’m most afraid of, does not come true

In fact

It never comes true

So what the fuck is the problem?

I think my own fear is greater than my knowledge

So I give in

Day after day

Even with the meds I obediently take

I watch life pass me by

Feeling less and less like it’s even my life that I’m missing out on

That’s how far out of reach things like dinner out or going to my sisters house seem

I can’t seem to stop from being hard on myself

I feel like yelling at myself:

AFTER ALL OF THIS, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU STILL NOT GET?!

HOW MUCH MORE TIME WILL YOU WASTE BEFORE YOU FINALLY MOVE ON?!’

I’m sitting here shaking my head

Because, after everything

And I still don’t have the answers to any of that

A little more bent, still not broken

I’ve come a long way from those scary nights when I was too consumed with my own troubling thoughts to sleep

And those seemingly endless days where it felt like I was experiencing unrelenting panic attacks

2019 didn’t start off the way I had hoped

But in the last two months, I’ve been unapologetically selfish

I’ve focused on little else but getting myself healthy

My medication seems to be evening itself out

I’ve reduced my Ativan intake by half

I’ve started seeing a psychologist and am going to an info session held at a local hospital for an upcoming 12 week program for people to learn to cope with anxiety and depression

I’m living part-time with my parents and going home almost every day during the week to let out the dogs and practice my ‘exposures’

(‘…exposure therapy is a process for reducing fear and anxiety responses…a person is gradually exposed to a feared situation, learning to become less sensitive over time.’)

My fear is the dreaded feeling of having another panic attack

So that means I need to put myself in situations where I particularly anxious

For example, being alone or going to stores or other places by myself

It’s still very hard for me to understand why things turned out the way they did

I did everything you’re supposed to do

I reached out to my psychiatrist and family doctor about my intense apprehension over withdrawing from Paxil

I asked about inpatient facilities

During the crisis period, I went to hospitals, crisis centres and my own psychiatrist

I’m upset over the way things were handled

From my concerns not being taken seriously to the lack of care from the hospitals and most of all

That I feel like I did this to myself

And it was all for nothing

You know, I was speaking to my mom about going through tough times

She said it would be better if you knew there was a lesson of some sort you could take away from all of this

But I can’t for the life of me, find any valid takeaway from this experience, that I didn’t already know

Instead, I’m left feeling dissatisfied with the current mental healthcare system and most of all…

I feel defeated

Once again

By something that had and continues to have way too much impact on my life

And I’m tired of it

Tired of it’s overwhelming presence throughout my entire life

Sick of the powerful it yields so easily over me

Frustrated that the only way to move forward is to accept it and learn how to ride the wave of panic

So here I am

Sick and tired

Frustrated

But still riding the panic wave…

And trying to just live

‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’ Dr. Seuss

It’s hard to actually see your own recovery

Unlike your relapse

Which you can replay without hesitation in your mind

Recovery is different

It’s like one day you’re a total fucking basket case

And then you blink your eyes and you’re you again

Maybe if you’re like me

You started to experience brief moments of you again

So you hoped and wished that it meant you were finally coming back

And then one day

Visiting your own condo

You instinctually know

Something is different

Something has changed

The me that was gone

The me that I was so sure I’d lost

That me came back

Now

Looking at her in the mirror

It’s so hard to imagine how badly things had gotten

How far away she seemed

How trapped in her own mind she’d become

And now

Here she is

Standing before me

Looking back at me

She’s far from perfect

Not even close to almost

And yet I’ve never been happier to see my own reflection staring back at me

‘Only In The Darkness Can You See The Stars.’ Martin Luther King Jr

Its been three weeks since I slept in my own bed

It’s been one month since I went to the first emerge

It’s been four weeks and two days since I spent a night in a crisis centre

It’s been four weeks and one day since I went to the emerge in Collingwood

It’s been three weeks and two days since I sat in my neuro psychiatrists office crying and begging for help

It’s been three weeks less a day that I went back on 40 mg of Paxil

It’s been three weeks of good days, bad days and horrible days

Its been one day since I saw my neuro psychiatrist again and he upped my dosage to 50mg of Paxil to get me through this ‘crisis’

It’s been one day since he told me there was a significant gap in the mental health system which is why my wait for OHIP covered CBT is taking so long

Its been one day since he gave me the info of a private clinic

Its been thirteen hours since I started my new dose

It’s been thirteen hours with my stomach in knots

It’s been thirteen hours of fears, what if’s and so much more hope than I ever thought I had

One day at a time never felt quite so long

I know I’m not patient

But I’ll keep waiting if it means I get even a small fraction of a happy ending

I’ll keep waiting if it means that the last month hasn’t been in vain

I’ll wait as long as I can keep finding shards of light in the darkness

I’ll wait even it’s just a flicker

I can’t help but worry

I can’t help but wonder how long the world will wait for me…

The Only Way Out Is Through

It’s been something like two and a half weeks since I lost my mind
Countless days and nights that I haven’t felt like myself
That my skin hasn’t felt like my own
Two and a half weeks since I went to two different emergency rooms
Two and a half weeks since I spent the night at a crisis centre
Two and a half weeks since I first lost my appetite
Two and a half weeks since I first started having irrational and obsessive thoughts on top of multiple panic attacks per day
Two and a half weeks since I became scared to be alone
Scared in my own home
Scared of my own mind
It’s been a week and a day since I came to stay with my parents
It’s been a week and a day and I’ve only been comfortable being left alone once for a short period
It’s been a week and a half since I told my neuro psychiatrist what I was experiencing
It’s been a week and a half since I went back to my old full dose of Paxil
It’s been a week and a half of 3-4 Ativan per day
It’s been a week and a half of nausea, grogginess, headaches, crying fits and having my appetite return
It’s been a week and a day since I haven’t went to bed in my own home
Where I haven’t seen Joey either right before bed or as soon as I wake in the morning
A week and a day since I last napped with my dogs
4 days until I call my neuro psychiatrist to let him know how I’m doing
5 days until I start paying for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Unknown days until I return home
Unknown days until I don’t wake up afraid of a day filled with panic attacks
Unknown days until I don’t fall asleep fearing another day of panic attacks
Zero days that I haven’t wished for a different life
Zero days that I felt like I had the strength, courage and determination to get through this
Today though…is a special day
It’s the day where I wrote
Today is the day that I got my voice back