I’ve been quiet

Lounge

I’ve been quiet for want of a better word… On reflection though, perhaps the word ‘quiet’ sums things up rightly.

I did nothing this past weekend. I hadn’t felt like it. I just wanted to cocoon. Don’t get me wrong – I am not depressed. I just wanted to be alone. I am still in a reflective mood. The only thing making me leave the condo is work and work has been very trying this week with the work load picking up and the department being shorthanded (It always gets busy this time of year). So at the end of the work day, all I want to do is go home and have a beer.

I have been reading a lot. I should be writing, but my heart is not into it. Well, at least reading is sort of related with it being the other component of writing. This is where I find myself: Me wanting to hide out and chillaxing.

I guess some times we all need some alone time. I am off on vacation for two weeks starting next week. For you Americans, it is our Thanksgiving on Monday. I will cook the feast. It will kick off a much needed break.
—Robert Confiant 3 October 2018

The insidious nature of depression

I am in a good place right now, but a few friends are struggling. Depression is an insidious mental illness.

Mental health continuum-mobile

I say, “Insidious,” because, for those of us who don’t have chronic depression due to a chemical imbalance, it creeps up on you, or you go to bed and wake up depressed. For me this is not always apparent at first that I am depressed, it can take me up to a week sometimes before I realize that I am depressed. I isolate myself, I drink and eat more, I stop doing activities that I usually enjoy like reading or writing, I am tired all the time and just want to sleep.

We all get sad sometimes, so that is why I say, “It can take a while before I realize that I am depressed.” Depression is more that feeling sad; although, most people don’t know this. They tell you, “Get over it,” or “Snap out of it,” or the condescending, “Just think of being ‘happy’,” as if positive thinking alone is the magical cure. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not judging these people; they mean well. They just don’t fully understand what depression is.

My depressed states are rare and no longer intense as they once were. Before, my depression stemmed from a lack of self-confidence and a strong sense of hopelessness. I no longer feel this way.

My bouts of depression are a result of Seasonal Affect Disorder. I bought a lamp for this, which helps, but not completely. Fortunately, I have coping mechanisms that work to help me out of depression. I talk with someone (and not necessarily a professional), I go out and socialize (just small outings, nothing big), I control my drinking (alcohol is a depressant), and I try to keep positive (I usually do, but I try not to dwell on the fact that I am depressed).

I am not too sure why I chose this topic to write about. I think it was because I know is people who are currently struggling. I just wanted to share my experiences to help those who have never experienced depression to understand.

To those suffering right now know that you are loved. Please seek help if you require it. Virtual hugs.
—Robert Confiant 20 September 2018

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

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

 

 

Gay and self-loathing

beers

I was out with two friends for a few drinks at a local watering hole yesterday (well it was local for two of us, for the other person it used to be a local bar before he moved out of the neighbourhood). We got discussing about “the gay thing” and gay acceptance. This got me thinking a little while ago, so I just have to put my thoughts out there.

We are all from that generation where it was expected we’d get married and have kids. The pressure of conforming to societal norms was insurmountable. My two drinking companions each did the marry thing and had kids.

I could relate to the “not coming out” thing, but not the heterosexual normality. I was (as far as most people knew) asexual. I was celibate. I was going to come out in my early thirties, but my brother beat me to it. He had HIV and AIDS, so when my family asked if I were gay, I said, “No.” It was all I could do to prevent myself from hyperventilating if you want to know the truth; I was sweating and my heart was beating through my chest (or at least it felt like it). I said, “No,” for two reasons: I wasn’t acting on my impulses and I grew up strict Catholic, so I just stayed that way – celibate. I remained that way for another ten years. I came out at forty years old.

Even though the three of us knew we were gay, we didn’t come out until much later.

I cannot speak for my friends, but there was a lot of self loathing about my being gay. I knew what I was on some level, but I didn’t know what it was called until I was fourteen: “Homosexual/Gay.” All I knew before then was that I liked boys more than girls. As a Catholic, I knew this was wrong. I kept it to myself. I tried to “pray away the gay,” but the best I could manage was to be asexual.

I tried suicide. I am not sure if the gay thing played a part (maybe). I had other issues related to self-esteem and my disability. I think it is a combination of all of these that played a factor in my depression. I had to hit rock bottom before I sought out help. It slowly and eventually I got better.

Lots of queer people my age, or older, conformed to social norms and did the hetero-marriage thing. It was the pressure and the non-acceptance thing. Most did not want to be gay and they did everything in their power to ensure they weren’t gay. I think that is why a lot of my generation, and before, drank/drink so much after we came out. The drinking issue is not discussed much by gays, but apparently there have been studies done (Although, I do not wish to Google this, but there is a lot of material on this topic).

The point of this is that for the most part growing up in my generation, and before, there is a lot of self-loathing about being gay. From the discussion we had yesterday, it seems a lot of us have a lot of baggage because of it.

I guess that I wasn’t the only one. Some days, it felt that way.
—Robert Confiant 1 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/