Why And How I Developed Self-Control #WorkForHappy

megan brewty
Artwork by Megan Brewty

Upon my second and last visit to the hospital, I realized something essential that transformed my outlook on life forever: being depressed is a hell of a lot easier than being happy. I had just realized that the support of my loved ones had run out, and I was officially on my own.

It was time to turn my life around, and I would only have one chance at it. It was now or never. It was life and death.

This is a new self-care series where I will be exploring how to be a better person in my struggle with mental illness. My first lesson: developing self-control.

I Almost Destroyed Myself… Here’s Why Self-Control Is Essential

Continue reading “Why And How I Developed Self-Control #WorkForHappy”

Advertisements

Sugar Sweet

Poking his head out of his little gray room, he notices that her bed in the room across the hall is a mess. It’s also empty.

Fuck. 

08931e9a5e28503074f6750a893d939f.jpg
Artwork by Frederic Forest

He throws on a robe hanging on the bathroom door, heavy from the humidity of his hasty shower, and catches a glance of himself in the hallway mirror. He averts his gaze, and makes his way down to the kitchen.

Though he tries to go unnoticed by his better half, she turns her pretty head immediately and catches him descending the stairs. Her hair is too immaculate for the early hours of a Saturday, and the ring on her finger is glittering too harshly.

“Good morning, honey.”

Continue reading “Sugar Sweet”

Life Looks Gorgeous On You

When I sit on the train, I like to people watch. Their faces are like blank canvases to me. They stare with dead eyes at the advertisement that’s been plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head, some pensive, some exhausted, others wearing a simply inscrutable expression.

To pass the time, I begin to familiarize myself with these strangers in my head.

I picture these strangers laughing. Crying. Sighing. Seeing a blue sky after a rainy week, the soft expression of surprise when they get an unexpected call from someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.

I imagine anger, how it colors some people red or blue or purple or white, how they might sob out of frustration, or assume a dead rocky silence in the face of giving up on someone after a fighting match.

blob of the day by henrik aa uldalen
Blob Of The Day by Henrik Aa Uldalen

I envision hope. How these strangers might perk up at the sound of a loved one’s footsteps as they finally get home, or become shy when they see someone after they had gone out on their first date. How they might bite their lip as they open a much anticipated email, or grind their teeth when their team almost scores.

And what of the triumphant smirk that graces these strangers’ lips when they make several people laugh, or the shared pointed glare at fellow colleagues when the boss is being ridiculous again? Consider, the way they close their eyes and take a deep breath as they hug someone they missed, or the swell of pride in their chests when they begin to understand a complicated lesson and answer a question right.

Image result for emilio villalba gallery
Life Studies, Emilio Villalba

I think about how gorgeous these strangers must look when they’re happy. How heart-broken I would be to see them sad. I think about how these people care for others, how they have dreams, aspirations, how absolute strangers can become the closest companions after relating about something or other, how they develop relationships that last entire lifetimes, all by accident.

I watch, almost with a hint of regret, when my fellow transit passengers, strangers who I’ve got to know so intimately in my mind, get off at their stop. I never see them again.

I will never get to see these strangers again, happy, sad, angry, hopeful, triumphant. I will never know them beyond the picture I drew of them, framed neatly in my mind until they blur, like the landscapes whizzing past outside my train window.

I will never know these strangers so deeply. I have to remind myself that even though I have known some people this way, a lot of them have faded out nonetheless. A once golden tapestry now dusty in the basement of my memory. What’s the point? Even I am a stranger to myself. Though I should arguably know myself better than anyone, I haven’t witnessed these imagined moments on my own face either. That’s up to others to enjoy.

I usually sigh and return my gaze to an advertisement plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head with a pensive, exhausted, or inscrutable expression.

Life looks so gorgeous on you, I think. I might have never seen it, but trust me.

I can imagine.

Fixing Yourself: A Brief Look At My Mission For Self-Improvement

I have an incredibly flawed personality. The first sign was probably around the time I got diagnosed with an actual personality disorder – unspecified – after my behavior led to a pretty self-destructive, “self-prescribed” binge behaviour. Honestly? I never actually considered it problematic for a long time.

Clearly, it was everyone else with the problem. Tsk, tsk.

No automatic alt text available.
Artwork by Christian Russo

The problem with having a diagnosis that’s “unspecified”, especially when it concerns something as intangible as personality, is that the solution to your problem is also unspecified. At that point, all the doctors could prescribe me was a harsh slap to the face when it came to my true reality.

Now it’s like every move I make, I scrutinize. When I’m an asshole, I usually know it. A little bit of denial doesn’t hurt, until that becomes a flaw as well.

Do other people think like this? I’ll probably never know, but the scrutiny I have adopted has become both a blessing and a curse. I’m able to look at myself objectively and understand that whatever behavior I’m choosing is not appropriate. It’s like a super power, because I now understand mine and other people’s motivations and reasoning with everything they do. I get it now, when someone is an asshole. I do. Because I can do it too, sometimes.

But with great power comes great responsibility, or something like that.

Related image
“Infinite Introspection”, by Francisca Borzea

I recognize my behavior, but do I actually do anything about it? Well… I’m trying. It took me years to figure out that I was wrong, and another year to come to terms with the mistakes I had made in the process. Do I regret these mistakes? Of course. But would I change it? Not at all. I am the person I am today because of what I have struggled with.

That being said, I’ve been trying to actually prevent such things happening ever again, but that takes a little more work than just some introspection. I have to actually change my habits, my mood, and, well, my personality. I’ve had to heal those wounds, and now I have to take actions so that I don’t inflict them on myself or others ever again.

What do I have on the agenda to actually fix about myself? There are the common pitfalls, like procrastination, lack of sensitivity, and impatience. Then there are the big ones, like bad attitude, lack of responsibility/motivation, dependence on others, and over-thinking. At this point, all I can really do is acknowledge what I’m doing wrong, be aware of problematic behavior, and seek to replace it with healthier moves by developing better, healthier habits. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but… I have the privilege of being surrounded by people who care enough to call me out on my bullshit when I miss it.

Go and love someone exactly as they are. Then watch how they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered. —Wes Angelozzi

The people around me… man oh man. I’m lucky, so incredibly lucky, to have such a strong network of people who care about me deeply enough to not only forgive me when I mess up, but support me in my journey to become a better person. I’m just so grateful that I now have the foresight of actually understanding the magnitude of how lucky I am. Privilege can be a lot of different things for different people, but for me, true privilege is having the support of people around you.

Like I said, this process is a blessing and a curse. You can feel hopeless sometimes, like you’re gonna be stuck being a bad person forever and that you’ll never be worthy of love – this is a common late-night thought that induces panic attacks for me – so I’ve learned to become aware of my good qualities too. I have a strong sense of maternal instinct. I am a compassionate person. I’m smart enough to succeed, when I put my mind to it. I can write, draw, sing, laugh. I even make other people smile, from time to time. I love others, and they love me. I repeat that last bit like its a mantra whenever my mood dips below the dark surface.

No automatic alt text available.
Artwork by Mari Toh

Do I deserve love? That’s something I still grapple with, and honestly, it’s probably the main question that drives my mission for self-improvement. For a long time, I didn’t think I deserved the love I got from others, and that was because deep down, I knew that I was a fuck up.

But now, I want to deserve it.

I have an incredibly flawed personality. But flaws make the human, and the human can only work hard to rectify those flaws. And this is me doing that.

This is me. I’m the one with the problem.

And… I’m fixing it.

 

 

A Jigsaw Puzzle

I struggle to take this apart and put it back together to create a picture that makes more sense for fear of ruining what I have already arranged. Two years ago a hurricane ripped me off the wall, out of my pristine plastic wrapping, and I was left scrambled on the floor. I struggle to understand why I didn’t at least glue my pieces to each other.

Let’s take a better look at me.

Related image
Gif by Audrey DeBruine for North by Northwestern

Here in one hand I hold a puzzle piece. In it, I can see my mothers fingers, outstretched to touch mine, still pink and stringy from being in the womb for too long before I grip hers like my new life depended on it. My eyes open for the first time.

In the other hand, I hold another piece where I can see the corner of his smile, the smile that I came home to after getting fired from a job I hated anyway, the smile I cried to like it was the first day I was born. His smile, however, stayed constant, the only constance I had left.

With wet eyes I let the pieces fall. Everything that fits in between them must be too varied, I fear it’s not all the same puzzle. Did I mix up boxes of different lives together by accident? Is this a trick puzzle, a 3D puzzle of Dracula? Or maybe this is a different game altogether. A game of monopoly, perhaps? Poker? Hungry Hungry Hippos?

I never knew I would be so mismatched. People talk about everything falling together perfectly, like a bubble being blown into existence by accident and flying up to be swallowed by a neon cyan sky. All I seem to have is a toddler’s take on a masterpiece, horrid and painful and juicy and colorful and blurry. None of it fits together, and it certainly cannot be framed – not in its entirety, at least.

Related image
from x

My knees throb from kneeling on the ground for too long, but I let my fingers trail across the mess, the low light making it all heap into a giant dark mass I could never differentiate for its parts.

This is the sort of jigsaw you don’t put together, but rather just appreciate for its individual pieces, good and bad, rough and smooth. Though the idea might be a little avant-garde, I make peace with the pieces nonetheless.

After all, at least I am a mess left over by a puzzle ravaged by a hurricane, and not, say, a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Crappy Poetry

The mind is too beautiful, too phenomenal, and too much of an utter enigma to become a cliche. The window to my mind is closed. The garden rooted in my amygdala has withered, the neurons unconcerned with typical metaphorical ideas. I don’t think, I just happen to exist (I swear I’m not trying to kiss Descartes’ ass), but I am not a slave to the precious aquarian trapped in my skull.

My brain, and therefore my mind (come at me, UofT Professor Vervaeke), is too complex, and I am tired of it becoming just a prefix for crappy poetry.

That being said… I feel like your mind and mine are one and a whole.

Related image
x

I feel like you have held my mind in your own very two hands, and have tangibly tweaked with the dendrites and axons until they made drawbridges between me and the memory of your smile.

I feel like while my neurons are too lazy to spin serotonin into gold and relinquish too much control to the venus traps in my amygdala, they still get a rush just out of hearing your laugh.

I feel like while my precious dopamine has lost its way through my mesolimbic labyrinth and my old coping mechanisms have thus turned to dust, my whole brain still lights up when you say my name.

Image result for dopamine gif
don’t be fooled, this is actually brocolli

The mind is too beautiful, too phenomenal, and certainly too delicate to be handled like a cliche. My mind may have become black, cavities and caves of endless temptation, but you make it come to full potential again… but your mind is too singularly captivating to be rendered nothing more than a crutch to mine.

That being said…

You are too special just to become a prefix to my crappy poetry.

You Are The Sun, And I Am The Sea

The sun doesn’t cease its shining when it sets in the west. All it does is shine on somewhere else. Perhaps it throws light on the face of a child, breathing for the first time. Perhaps it shines on a patch of grass in a cemetery, smiling down on someone beyond this perceived dimension. Perhaps, still, it is simply brightening up a patch of the ocean, playing with the waves in mesmerizing synchronicity, ebbing, flowing.

You don’t stop existing when I turn the corner from your house. All you do is live on somewhere else. Perhaps you are taking a deep breath, about to dive into your next project, staring straight at a yellow light. Perhaps you are frowning, your forehead creasing in consideration of the bits and pieces of society that seem beyond advanced comprehension. Perhaps, still, you may simply be thinking of me. Existing with you in mesmerizing synchronicity. Ebbing. Flowing.

I put to you how strong I feel when your luminescence illuminates my complexion. The way I grip your wrist when I’m afraid of the worst – your neck, your hair. How patience is your constant companion, leaving the room with you for a while before bringing you back with a smile on your face. I put it all to you, how amazed I am when I see my own bemused expressions mirrored in yours.

Image result for sun and sea gif
via x

The sun shines anyway, not in spite of, but because of the constant implosions taking place within it. It bursts with particles of light and heat and brilliance, sputtering everything we, you and I, need to live on. It’s spilling over, engulfing us in its light. All so that we can live and breathe and fight and play and be. All for the sake of mesmerizing synchronicity.

Ebbing.

Flowing.