Depression and life

I just listened to a TEDx talk on suicide and life. Once upon a time, I could not do this.
I am told quite often that I am a strong person. They say this because I have dealt with having a disability, so well. And if I am honest, in some ways they are correct. I am a person who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Back when I was younger, I didn’t let my dis-ablity stop me from doing what I wanted to do. My dis-ability (sic) is not who I am. I am not defined by my dis-ability. I live with it. To me, it is not brave, nor heroic, nor anything special. I have always had a bum leg. I don’t know any different, so this is my “normal.”

Somewhere on this path of life, I lost my confidence. I stopped believing in myself. I developed a low self-esteem about myself. My depression resulted because I believed that I couldn’t do anything. I was told, by kindly meaning professionals, that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. I don’t blame them for what resulted. It just I took their statements to be realistic about my career choices to heart. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. It’s strange, how my all or nothing attitude played a factor even back then. I am an “All or nothing” kind of guy. I don’t like to admit it, but I still am. The result is that I suffered from depression in my late teens and early twenties. The fact that I was gay didn’t help. I was closeted, gay young man who grew up in the projects. I was supposed to be tough. I was also a strict Catholic and these two aspects were “polar opposites” in their views. I still joke about going to hell (I don’t believe it, but I still joke about it). So really, my depression stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself and the loathing I felt about being different. I gave up. I stopped living and I couldn’t see a good future for myself. I was depressed.

After I hit rock bottom, I went to counselling and I sought out help. I wasn’t working because of the recession at the time and because I felt I couldn’t do anything with me having a dis-ability. I got work eventually after I went on some job training course. It helped boost my confidence again. I later returned to school to upgrade my skills. The success I found there also contributed to my confidence boost. Step-by-step, I began to snap out of my depression and my confidence returned. It was a slow process, but one that built a strong foundation on which I could stand upon.

Today, this is all history. I have had my bouts of depression, but I have figured out tricks to help me snap out of it. My depression now stems from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). With this realization, I find that my depression is manageable, if I caught it. Sometimes it can be a week before I realize I am in a state of depression. When I finally do come to realize this, I do the opposite of what I feel I want to do. Namely, I go out, instead of staying in; I socialize, instead of shutting myself out. For me, this doing opposite works. I also purchased a light for the winter months. It helps.

I am at a good place. I can’t say I never get depressed, but when I do, I can deal with it. For the most part, I am happy with my life. I no longer worry about the past, and I don’t fret about the future. I stay in the now. This was another issue back then, I couldn’t stay in the now.

Most of the time, I am that strong person I appear to be, but sometimes I am not. For those times I am not, I work on it. Over all though, life is good.

For those of you who are struggling. I am reposting this image:

Mental health continuum-mobile

Get to know the signs and if you are in any phase other than healthy, seek help. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a hand up occasionally.

My life may not always be exactly what I want, or I wish for, but it is a good life. I have my health. I have a good family, partner and friends who are always there for me, and a decent job. A hobby that I love – writing, contrary to what our income obsessive materialistic society wishes to sell us, these are what truly matter.

Peace and love.
—Robert Confiant 15 September 2018

The hardest task

The hardest task for me to do is fine motor skills, for example, working with tiny tools.

I love computers and computing. I found this out when I got my first computer (I was late to the game). It was a 286 IBM clone withe 512Kb of RAM and a 40Mb hard drive (a low end computer at the time, but it was good for me). I wasn’t getting the computer thing until it dawned on me that it was an idiot machine without its software (An obvious observation, but I was slow at first). I got it for university.

After I scraped by a degree (I picked the wrong major and I was too stubborn to change). In hindsight, I should have chosen social sciences or English literature (Either of these would have served me better). I digress, once I obtained my degree, I moved back home and worked, but I still wanted more, so I went to college and got a programming certificate, which lead to work in IT (A job for life, or so I thought). I loved working in IT.

repairing computer

My first computing job was “Presales.” I tested software while it was still in development stage and tested scenarios our clients were experiencing with previous editions of the software (reproduce the bugs they were experiencing). I loved it I would reconfigure computers to match their own machines by taking apart and rebuilding computer to closely match the test machine to reproduce the bug). It was fun, but for someone with Cerebral Palsy, it was tricky too. I got the shakes doing the finer aspects of the job and the more I would concentrate on doing the job, the worst my shaking got. I couldn’t help it was an aspect of my CP. I did it, but if the shaking got too bad I would need to step away until the shaking decreased, or ceased all together (This didn’t take much time. Sometimes all it took was the idea of getting away and a deep inhale and exhale). Overall, I was good at my job. I went on to just quality assurance (software testing with no taking apart and rebuilding machines), and eventually, I went on to work in a non-computing field; however, from time to time l still get IT request from friends, and the fine skills of working with small tools still cause me issues, but I manage. I love to dabble in computer stuff. It helps me keep my feet in it.

I can even teach others about computing. This wasn’t always the case, but I got better at it, although this is another article for another blog post.
—Robert Confiant 14 August 2018

I did not want to go into work today

I did not want to go into work today.

For the most part, I love my job. The people I work with, my immediate co-workers are great. There is the coffee club (or remnants of it), the group I work with and the front line workers – all good team players (mostly).

We have another shortage in our department and I am starting to fall behind on my regular work because I am working on filling the gap. Without going into great detail, it is really no one’s fault. People retire and people leave it’s as simple as that. The first gap was due to retirement and the second gap was due to someone leaving. What I fret over is how long it took to hire the second person after the first person retired: A long time. I don’t think I can deal with this situation again. I don’t have the will, or the determination to do so again. It’s frustrating. I am already feeling the pressure.

frustration

I am sure I am not the only person experiencing this issue of people leaving and being short-handed. I just wished they would hire a replacement more quickly. The process takes so long. I just know I am going to have an ‘F’ it attitude about it this time. I just cannot do it anymore. I feel work doesn’t support me anymore and I feel I am being taken advantage of and no one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of. I keep reminding myself that I now only have a little over three and a half years to remain.

I will work hard. It was how I was raised – to do a good honest day’s work (I know, I am a dying breed – a dinosaur – LOL). But, I will no longer “kill” myself doing so.

What can one do? Nothing.

I will go into work and I will work hard, but it is not as much fun; it is not the same.
—Robert Confiant 11 July 2018

One cannot just throw in the towel

When all else fails, just keep doing, keep trying, and keep moving forward. This is what having Cerebral Palsy has taught me, but that wasn’t always the case.

In my late teens and early twenties, I gave up. I stagnated. Before then, I was a happy, carefree, determined young man. I tried everything so called, “Normal” kids did. I wasn’t always the first kid chosen, but I participated. I never really gave it much thought then, but I tried everything at least once, and lots of time I had to do things differently from the other kids; I had to do things my way (I just couldn’t do something’s the way the other kids did them. It was physically impossible for me to do these things normally). But I participated. I had a lot of confidence back then, but in my late teens and early twenties, I lost that confidence. I fell into a deep depression.

I stagnated. I couldn’t move forward, and like everyone else in this linear existence of a world, I couldn’t go back. This depression went on for quite a while until I hit rock bottom.

Eventually, I got help counselling, job training, job searching and employment. I was happier for a few years, but then I quit work and went back to school. I disliked my latter year of high school the first time around (I was just present and I was really participating. Well, all except music. Music kept me going). I did extremely well when I first returned first college and then to high school to obtain my Grade 13/OAC credits. I didn’t do so well in university, but I picked the wrong major (hindsight is twenty/twenty vision). Oh well…

Somewhere along these school years, I got my confidence back. I never looked back (I removed, but I haven’t looked back). It’s become one of my axioms: Keep moving forward and never look back (The others, in case you are wondering are: Believe in yourself – have confidence, and one more; nobody is perfect – we’re all human and everyone makes mistakes, so be easy on yourself).

That’s where I am in life. I am moving onward. My life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either. I having reached all my goals, but I keep trying. I have made some misjudgments, but nothing too serious. I keep trying. I try plan A, then plan B, and plan C if I need to or Plan D after that. I have lots of plans to help me to my destination – all leading to the same goal.

That’s the trick – keep going and keep trying. You’ll find the journey is what life is really all about. (Gees, how did I get this wise? It must be because I am getting old. LOL)
—Robert Confiant 10 July 2018

 

 

Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis

As many of you who read my blog may, or may not know, I have been there.

I contemplated suicide and I even tried it once, but not enough to be very serious because I did so in such a way that someone intervened. For the most part this part of my life is in the past, but I still have my bouts. I have learned to deal with these dark episodes. Luckily, they are few and far between.

I missed this on Sunday, but the topic is too important to ignore. After Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides, it is imperative that people seek help.

Watch CNN’s “Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis” found here: CNN’s Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis.

When one is suffering, suicide seems to be the only answer. I can tell you, “It is not.” I know from experience it can pass — Things can change.

If you are suffering seek help:

In the USA call, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to https://www.iasp.info/

In Canada go to https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/

 

 

 

 

For those of you contemplating suicide

I have never gone “Ga, ga,” over celebrities, but I know many, many others do.

I have met some celebrities over the years, but other than saying, “Hi,” or shaking hands, I have never gone fanatic about meeting them.

I used to meet Geddy Lee at the Triumph Hotel on the odd weekend when I used to work there. After saying, “Hello and good day,” for many weekends. He asked me if I knew who he was, I replied, “Yes,” then moved on.

At an event for crippled children down at Maple Leaf Gardens, which my brother took me to, I met hockey players, John Allan Cameron and a few other celebrities. It was nice to meet them, but I didn’t get too excited either. To me they are just people – I know, people who are famous, or have a lot of money – but people none-the-less.

So, when they hit the news that they done this or done that or commit suicide, it doesn’t really affect me nor bother me – these things happen – but for others, who put them on a pedestal or hold them to a higher standard, these events can be devastating. I worry about those people who suffer from depression when celebrity suicide is all over the media. I worry about copy cats. This happens. For those of you contemplating suicide, I beg you seek help; go to a friend, or a parent, or a family doctor, or your therapist. Seek help.

—Robert Confiant 10 June 2018

I took a tumble yesterday

Yesterday I took a tumble and I fell. It was the first time I have fallen for almost six months my right foot hit the filing cabinet as I was turning the corner. I was walking too fast when I hit it.

falling

I did what I always do after I fell; I picked myself up declaring I was fine then sat at my desk. I also brushed it off with a joke that I have fallen so many times in my life; I know how to fall without hurting myself seriously. On one such fall, I even managed to do a complete summersault without getting a scratch on me.

To say. “I have fallen a lot,” is probably an under statement on my part. I have fallen and a lot of those times I have scratched the shit out of my hands and/or elbows. I usually fall on the pavement since a lot of the times the pavement can be uneven.

My cerebral palsy affects mainly my right foot. When I was younger, my right foot turned in 45 degrees and I used to drag it a bit, so that caused me to fall a lot on the sidewalk. This was especially true if I was speeding, or tired. or just didn’t pick up my feet, or any combination of all the above. At eighteen, I had my final corrective surgery at Sick Kids. The doctors broke the foot just above the ankle and turned the foot thirty degrees the other way and locked it in a cast. It partially worked. The hope was that the foot, once the cast was removed, would be straight. it really didn’t. It turned a bit leftward instead of turning rightward (like it did before the surgery. The funny thing with surgery is that for the most part, it corrects somethings and creates other complications, which at first are not always apparent.

So, I fell a lot when I was younger, and I continued to fall a lot as I aged. I still learnt to fall without serious injury to myself (Except, as I mentioned above, my hands and/or my elbows, and my ego it embarrasses the shit out of me every time people would make a big deal out of it. It still does). Once I sat down for a little bit, the same co-worker came over and asked, “Seriously, are you okay?” I assured him I was even though, at the time, I did ache slightly (I am fine, it’s been hours and I feel nothing unusual, so I am good. I just want to put that out there).

The point of this post is about the actual fall. Before this fall, I started a pill (Dantrolene) I have been taking for about a year now its been; before this fall, I would have fallen hard. “Like a ton of bricks,” as the saying goes. This was like my falls used to be like.

I used to fall hard and getting up was like lifting dead weight. Not yesterday’s fall, I didn’t fall that hard. There was a lighter aspect to it. I don’t know how else to put it in words. Plus, it was easier to pick myself up. It didn’t seem as if it was “dead weight.” I cannot put it into better terms.

Suffice to say, “Yesterday’s fall felt, and was, different than all the previous falls in the past.”

I believe the medicine made all the difference.
—Robert Confiant 23 May 2018