Mental Health Stories – Amended

Mental Health has been on the dashboard for the last little while. We have been touching on this topic here for a bit. Long ago, nobody ever really spoke about, or even cared about ones mental health and well being.

Last night we spoke about anger. Which leads back to page 417 in the book, about acceptance, and that if I have a problem with someone, that problem ALWAYS stems back to myself? I disagree.

Way back when, men were supposed to suck it up buttercup, and say nothing and bear our pain like Marines and Troopers. I did that for a long time, until it got unbearable, then I drank my pain away, and that was a disaster.

Now I am sober, and vulnerable, and raw, and honest, and truthful. I know my friends do not like when I express myself. Or have a feeling or an emotion. They just don’t know what to do with me when I feel something in public or to them. They usually run in the other direction.

A friend of mine and I agree, we are not doormats, or punching bags. I said last night that if I feel something and I am hurting or feel slighted or angry or upset for any reason, I will tell you, point blank that I am pissed ! I’m not gonna suck it up and believe that a problem with anyone stems back to a problem with me. That’s where I now disagree with the Book.

Men are not supposed to feel, or better yet, say anything about what we are feeling. But spend some time with Brene Brown, and you will change your tune very quickly. I survived emotional bottoms in sobriety, and I know the very few, FEW people who stood by me and tried to help. Many did nothing but watch me crumble under the pressure, because nobody knows or wants to be vulnerable. UGH.

I hear our women talk about certain topics in a group setting, a few of our younger ladies talk openly about their emotional challenges. But we don’t usually hear a whole lot of stories about mental health. But women suffer a great deal as well, and a lot of the time, men don’t really pay attention to them or their stories for that matter.

Women, like some men, suffer in silence, because of trust factors and that how could a man ponder what a woman goes through on any given day. Most of our women keep to a small circle of confidants. Women in Montreal, have their own meetings and spaces that are safe, and away from men as a rule. So I don’t want to leave our women out of the story, or say that they don’t suffer mental health issues as well. They do.

If you need help, get help. If you need to talk, there are ways around this to find people who will listen. There are a multitude of services in many city centers that offer mental health assistance.

Mental health is important to everyone. We must b able to say, Hey I am fucking hurting, listen to me forGod’s sake. We should not have to suck it up buttercup and be freaking VULCANS around our friends and family.

My first go round with mental health issues happened when I was in the eighth grade, when my father’s mother had had a stroke and he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital. The thought was that if “I” showed up, it would jog her memory so hard that she would wake right up.

Obviously, that did not work.

But I think about that now, and how I was thrust into a situation, not of my own making, and was expected to be the Golden Child to resurrect my grandmother, who was already gone.

She would never return to normal, again. ever.

My father resorted to the bottle. I went back to my “normal” life, school, friends, activities. Junior high was the best time of my life, better than high school. I had a lot of fun, and I did a lot of service, and got an award upon graduating in ninth grade.

I would not hit another crisis point for a long time. My alcoholism was going full bore at the time. And I was dating all the wrong men. Really, when are we ever really dating the creme of the crop when we were drinking?

In my twenty fifth year, I had broken up with the boy I was dating, who was a serial liar and cheater. Life then was pretty tough. My living situation was really precarious. But it was then that Josh decided to kill himself.

One weekend afternoon, my mother had phoned me out of the blue to tell me his mother had called her and that Josh was missing. And could I find him? I called the cops in Fort Lauderdale and my friends.

They found him dead in an apartment outside the city center.

I drove out and sat in a squad car with a detective, while they worked the scene, and later brought him out in a bag.

The next day the coroner called me to identify his remains. To this day, every time I close my eyes, I see him in my minds eye, or what was left of him by that point. And his mother’s curse: She said : “I hope for the rest of your life, every time you close your eyes, you see my dead son!”

Like I had anything to do with his suicide.

I ended up at the bar right after that chore, and I began to drink myself sick.

I drank for weeks.

At one point Todd and Bill stepped in and got me into a suicide survivors group. If you have never sat in a suicide survivors group, you haven’t lived.

That 13 week experience, made me drink even worse.

A year later, I got very sick and was diagnosed with AIDS, and told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

Imagine !!!

There was no therapy.

There was no assistance programs.

It was just the Todd and the Bar. And the men inside of the bar, who all died, there are only two of us who survived that maelstrom.

The day I took my first, LAST drink, and Todd had stepped in to save my life, my job became my salvation. I did as Todd asked, I did not fight the process.

I got sober, and I lived.

After my relapse, and return to what was my life, I had a therapist who helped me re enter society and begin to live again, after the disastrous end of another wham-ban relationship from hell.

When I moved to Montreal, I got into an alcoholism aftercare program, and had another therapist who did wonders for me. She really set my life in order and got me on my feet in this new city. She helped me acclimate and learn about the culture and people of Montreal. While I counted my sober days. I had her through my second year of sobriety.

My husband mental health journey was a real eye opener for me, because I had to learn on the fly, what to do for a bi-polar human being. I took care of him, the best way I could and we navigated pretty alright. Albeit, we had a few hiccups and found that not every health care worker was the right health care worker, and not every insurance company was on the up and up, and not every human we dealt with was honest and kind.

We deal with mental health on a daily basis, because Bi-Polar is a life issue not a seasonal or short term issue. It is an Every Day Issue. So I have to be on point as best I can, but every once in a while, I need a breather too.

Being estranged from my family as I am, the death of my father was rough, because he went to his grave hating me and wanting me dead. I knew this because it was what my mother had parroted from him to me over the years.

I had a rough few days, maybe a couple of weeks.

That is what is is.

The rooms are not therapy per se, but we talk a lot, about a great many things. For the last eighteen years, I have been talking my way sober. And my life has gotten pretty big.

Really grateful for that.