The Inner Monologue

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Bojack Horseman. Yes, partially to purposely procrastinate and screw my own academic career over, but also because it resonates with me. On a deep level I never thought a cartoon show about a horse could.

When I first started watching it, I laughed at the nonsensical, frankly messed up world Bojack resided in. Wacky characters like Mr Peanutbutter and extravagant plot lines like stealing the D from the Hollywood sign took me to a world completely different from my own- or so I thought. Until I started recognizing parts of myself in the show. Bojack’s self-destructive nature, his tendency to push good people out of his life, his fear of irrelevancy– holy horseshoe Bojack, that’s me.

And as I continued to watch I didn’t only relate to Bojack, and Diane, and Princess Caroline, but I saw story lines they went through in parts of my own life. It’s not new news that Bojack Horseman is a show about depression, and that it depicts it accurately– but seeing it for myself has really opened my eyes.

In episode 6 of season 4, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t”, the show highlights a part of depression that I particularly connect with: the inner monologue. As Bojack goes about his day with his newly found teenager daughter and estranged mother, we hear Bojack’s thoughts as he goes about his decisions. It begins off humorously as he eats cookies for breakfast, while his mind says “Stop eating cookies. Cookies are not breakfast. Don’t eat that cookie. Don’t- I can’t believe you ate that cookie.” But as the show goes on, and he continues to make bad decisions, we here his inner self berating him, insulting him, continuously calling him a “stupid piece of sh*t”, justifying why everyone in his life hates him.

This is a part of depression I experience regularly. The voice inside my head, commenting on my every move. “Your friends don’t really like you”, “what you’re doing doesn’t matter”, “you’re never going to accomplish what you want to”,”you are insignificant”. These thoughts weigh on me day after day. I try to drown them out with school, television, writing, working for the Mental Health Outreach Team, hanging out with friends, and yes, admittedly, drinking, partying, and in the past, self-harm.

At the end of the episode, Bojack’s daughter reveals to him that she has these thoughts too. She asks Bojack if they ever go away, if it’s “just a teenage girl thing”. To comfort her, Bojack lies. He tells her yes, they do.

As someone with depression, I know these thoughts don’t go away. They lessen as I distract myself, or when I’m feeling better, but they are always there, residing in that dark part of my mind.

But what I have learned is it’s not about getting rid of the voices. It’s not about drowning them out. It’s about fighting them back, challenging them. “No one likes you”. Wrong, I have at least 5 friends in my contacts who would text me back almost instantly, I have a boyfriend who loves me, I have a family who cares for me despite my flaws. “Nothing you do matters” Wrong, I started a team that may be small, but has begun to make positive change on my campus. “You are insignificant” Wrong, I might be in the grand scheme of things, but I mean something to some people, and I mean something to me.

Bojack is an imperfect character. He makes bad choices, he hurts people, he self-destructs. But he has heart, he means well, and most of all he’s in pain. I won’t go too deep into the character because hey, I didn’t write the show, but Bojack doesn’t fight back those thoughts. He lets them devour him, and he suffers for it.

Depression lies. It’s an ugly, mean monster who disguises itself as you. But it’s not real. You’re feelings are real, the bad thoughts you have are real, but that doesn’t mean that those bad thoughts are truth. Battling these thoughts is not an easy fight, but keep reminding yourself that it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

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The Cloud

Lately I’ve felt a cloud loom over my mind.

It’s not an unfamiliar cloud; it has visited many times before. It has rained and poured and stormed for weeks, months, even years before.

Not long ago the cloud caused the worst storm it ever has, and its flood almost won. I didn’t let it though. I Noah’s-Arked that shit. I built a boat of the smallest piece of driftwood and survived that drought.

And for a long while now I’ve lived in the sun. I now remember what it’s like to let the sunshine in again and feel the warmth; and I love it. I thrive in the sun and have mimicked its shine in my own way.

However the sunshine can’t stay forever, I’m learning. The clouds do come back and rain falls. But this time I’m prepared– I have my umbrella. I have strong supports in friends and family, I have my causes and my passions, and I have myself.

So bring it on rain, I’m not afraid to get a little wet.

And if you too have a cloud in your mind, there is room under my umbrella.

A Love Letter (Write it for Yourself First)

I’m only (almost) 21 years old and have a lot to learn about love yet so take what you will from what I say. It doesn’t matter to me if it sounds serious or experienced because the fact is it’s not.

Something I have learned recently, however, and am still constantly learning, is how to love myself. See, I never believed the saying “before anyone can love you you must first love yourself”. I thought it was utter bullshit actually. I thought, “How can anyone ever love me then? Because I will never love myself. Isn’t loving yourself vain and selfish and petty?”

The answer is no. Absolutely no. Loving yourself is not petty and vain because loving yourself is not believing you are perfect and without fault. It’s loving yourself despite your flaws. It’s working on those bits and pieces you don’t love, and differentiating the ones that can and should be changed, and the ones that can’t be changed. And then it’s learning to love those little imperfections anyway. It’s loving yourself on your best days, when you feel great and happy and blessed and utterly in love with life. And it’s loving yourself on the days you don’t want to or feel like you can’t. On the dark days where every little negative thought you’ve had or that has been said to you eats you alive. It’s fighting back those negative thoughts and reminding yourself you deserve love anyway.

Learn to love yourself in the way you want others to love you. Or rather, learn to accept that others won’t love you the same way you want them to. Give yourself the love you so desperately crave from others. Tell the thought “no one will ever love me” to fuck off, and love yourself instead. Stop searching for others to give you the specific reasons of why you are worthy of love, and give them to yourself. If you are waiting from validation from another person about a specific reason to love you, you know the reason already, so they don’t need to confirm it. So when you finally accept the reasons you are lovable, people will say them without prompting. And you won’t feel validated, but instead truly loved.

Love the good things about yourself. Love your pretty smile and your fashion sense and your talents and your virtues. Love yourself, but be humble in accepting compliments. Don’t usher them away but accept them with grace. Don’t take them for granted. Know that just because you have these good qualities and are loved because of them, it does not make you God. Yes you are lovable, but so is everyone else.

Love your imperfections, but not your vices. Work on improving your bad habits, but remind yourself that no one is perfect, and your demons don’t make you despicable. They make you human. Stop striving for perfection, it is not achievable. Instead be constant, and love who you are daily.

I do not love my mental illness. I love that I am fighting it and working on myself despite it. I do not love my tendency to become irritable or want to control others. I love that I can recognize these faults, and apologize to those I hurt. These are things that I can change, and I love that I can.

I don’t love my long toes, or my upturned nose, or the facial hair I constantly have to remove. But I’m learning to. Because these are things that maybe I could change, but I do not need to. Because they do not make me bad. Learn to accept the things about yourself that society says you shouldn’t.

I love my weird laugh. I love my way of looking at the world. I love my eyes. I love my strange interests. I love that I believe I can change the world.

And I don’t need you to anymore.

The Search for Happiness is a Ruse

Holy shit it’s been a long time since I wrote here. I’ve never felt this busy before. Anyway I don’t know why I’m starting this with a sidenote but here it is.

Now, I see how this title might upset people. But just read my thoughts and hopefully it will help you to understand why you’ve been tricked and how you can become un-tricked.

I am not going to pretend I know others experiences so I will start with this: I feel as if, because of personal experience, (in North American society at least) we are raised to believe that the ultimate goal of life is happiness. Sound familiar? Well, it should. Who doesn’t want happiness?

But here’s the thing(s):

Happiness is different for every single person. Happiness is a text from your crush, an ice cream cone on a hot day, a dog wagging it’s tail at you. Or at least that’s what happiness is for me, and many more things. Everyone’s version of happiness is different. So how can we strive for a life of happiness when everyone’s happiness is personal? We must recognize that our moments of happiness are exactly that: our moments. So if we try and live by other peoples definitions of “happiness”, we won’t understand why we’re not happy.

Also, and this is the big one: happiness is temporary. It’s just a fact of life. Nothing is permanent, especially happiness. That’s why we must learn to enjoy these moments as they pass through, but let them pass. Just like gas (hah, that rhymed– okay, dumb joke over). If we try and hold onto them too long, we’ll be holding onto a ghost, and only make ourselves more unhappy in the process. We need to learn to enjoy the happiness in the moment, and then let it be.

And this is why I believe that the ultimate personal goal should not be happiness, but contentment. This, for me, means accepting rather than expecting. Letting ourselves experience all the little moments of life, and being okay with everything that comes our way; the good days, the bad days, the alright days, the little moments both of happiness and despair. All of these things are a natural and normal part of life. If we try and resist what life throws at us, we are living in denial. Therefore, if we try and force ourselves to live a life of only happiness, we are lying to ourselves.

So, with all that being said, I’ll leave you with a small peace of advice that you can listen to or not: breathe, accept, and learn to be content.

The Right People

Not left people.

That was a bad joke. And not meant to offend any left-handed persons. I have great friends who are left-handed. I think. I don’t know actually.

But I do have great friends. That’s for sure. And I don’t appreciate that enough. I’ve focused too much on the negative, and on myself, and how I feel lonely and unfulfilled, that I haven’t stopped to smell my friends. Okay that sounds bad and not as funny as I meant it to be. It’s more just weird. It was supposed to be a spin on “stop to smell the roses”. I’m over-explaining.

Anyway.

Rebecca, Kyra, Dan, Sarah, Richard, Justine, Tannishtha, Dylan, and Danica. This is a call out post. It’s hard to find real, genuine friends. Or maybe it’s not. But it’s always been a struggle for me, due to self-esteem issues and social anxiety. But this post isn’t about me. It’s about you. You’re all gems. Gems that underestimate their worth and who should know how dear you all are to me. I didn’t want to just write a general post about friendship, I wanted to say your names individually because you deserve to know how special you are. (However, if you’re uncomfortable with your name being up here just let me know and I’ll edit it out).

Each one of you has a distinct personality and something special I’ve never seen in anyone else. And each one of you holds a special place in my heart. Even if we don’t talk or see each other every day. I know that you’re friendship is true. I’ve had deep, thoughtful conversations with each of you, as well as oodles of laughs. None of you are afraid to be your true selves. At least around me. And I feel extremely grateful for that. Every single one of you has changed my life in some way. For the better. And I value all of you for similar yet various reasons.

Rebecca, you are my oldest friend. You know me through and through. All my weird phases, haircuts, and embarrassing moments. There is nothing I can’t tell you. We may not talk every day, but when we do talk or see each other, it’s like no time has passed. You are unique, kind, and a fierce friend. I know I can always count on you.

Kyra, you are my wife. You got me through four hellish years, and have remained my best friend. I’ve loved watching you grow into this smart, determined, confident person. You’re so strong and independent, yet still the goofy free-spirit I met in grade 9 gym class. You’re five thumbs up in my books.

Dan, I am so glad I sparked up conversation with you that day on the bus. You’re individuality is inspiring. You’re extremely smart and so artistically talented it’s jealousy invoking. But I can’t be envious of you, only proud. I’ve always wanted another brother, and even though I’ve only met you this year I consider you one.

Sarah. What can I even say about you. I constantly forget that you’re younger than me. You’re adorable, smart, and absolutely fucking hilarious I can’t believe I’ve never wet myself in your presence. I love hearing about your dreams, and your love for mystery and crime novels. Even though it’s terrifying. I know I can always count on you for an interesting conversation and a laugh.

Richard, you have been my rock lately. Like I’ve said many a time, we are kindred spirits. You have shown me such kindness and friendship in a time that has been very difficult for both of us. You understand me, you listen to me, and you never judge me. I know we’ll be friends forever.

Justine, you are like my older sister. You are so so so incredibly strong, and so loving. You’ve inspired me and helped me during this journey I’m on. You underestimate your worth. Even though we are both going through hard times, we are still able to laugh together. And I cherish that so much.

Tannishtha, I miss you so much. You’re a firecracker, and your intelligence and humour are unmatchable. Our late night adventures at Kintore were the best part of my first year of University. You’re going to the conquer the world one day and I can’t wait to see it happen.

Dylan, we’ve never met. And we don’t talk as much as we used to. I’m at fault for that. Even though you’re an internet friend, that does not mean you are not a real friend. You’re one of the realest friends I’ve ever had. We are so alike, and your friendship means the world to me and always will.

Danica, you are truly one of a kind. You’re sweetness and bubbly personality always makes my day when we hang out. Even if we both get busy and don’t see each other often. You are your own person and don’t give a shit what other people think. It’s inspiring and often hilarious to hear you rant. Answer your cell phone.

Each one of you are a treasure. You’re the right people, and I am so bloody thankful to have you’s in my life.

I love you.

Mental Illness is the Worst Video Game Ever

I’d like to start off with a disclaimer that I am not video game savvy. While I’m using this analogy I’m imagining my favourite video game I played as a kid, which was Crash Bandicoot on Playstation 1. Even still I’m a little rusty on how the rules or the story went, I just remember it being fun but sometimes really freaking hard. So please do not harass me for my lack of knowledge on video game  terminology and whatnot. I’m looking at you, brother.

And now I’m distracted because I found a terrible flash version of the game online and will be playing this for hours. I also just learned that the original game is being remastered and now I need to buy a PS4.

Anyway I’m back now. I got to the snowball level and had to give up. Not that this makes any difference to you.

What was the point of this post? Oh, right, to describe to you how I feel about my own personal struggle with mental illness with an analogy about video games. Hopefully you find it useful or comforting too. Or at least entertaining.

The thing about living with a mental illness, is that sometimes it’s easier to manage than others. You have periods where life is okay; you’re managing fine and day to day activities go by without too much struggle. There are still little obstacles you have to face but you seem to get past them without much difficulty. These are the beginner, or easier, levels. You feel good about yourself for getting through them, and start to feel as if things are coming together and you can face all the next levels of your life without problems.

Then you hit a boss level. Or face a giant ass snowball that keeps crushing you.

And it seems that as hard as you keep trying and as much effort you put in you just can’t beat that boss level. You try over and over again, only to become more discouraged each time. Eventually you give up on the boss level and leave the video game to dust. When talking about real video games this really isn’t such a problem. But when it comes to real life and you hit that boss level and feel defeated, this is where problems arise.

You let that boss defeat you. You see it as a roadblock you can’t get past and you don’t want to try anymore. You let your failure consume you, and it leads you back down negative, dark,  and destructive paths. So you turn to other easier video games to get your mind off of that one difficult level. And it seems to take the failure away and these other video games distract you and give you the false feeling that you’re doing okay. This is the easy way out.

Because really that boss level is still gnawing at you, bugging you, telling you that you can’t get past it, and there’s no point in trying. But you have to. Because if you never beat that one hard boss level, if you never get past that stupid fucking snowball, you won’t get to see how easy the next few levels may be, or get to the reward that is the end of the game.

So keep trying. Even though it may exhaust you. Even though that stupid level may piss you off. When you do finally beat it, get past it, and move on, the feeling of relief and reward will be like no other.

PS- Wouldn’t mental illness be some much easier to deal with if it could take corporeal form and you could fight it like a video game boss? I think so.

 

Fathers Day.

I must admit it hasn’t been the easiest being your daughter.  But I imagine it hasn’t been the easiest being my father.

Your music collection has shaped my taste. Cat Stevens, Tom Petty, Don McLean, Eric Clapton and more. Always music in the house is one thing I remember.

Floor hockey when mom was away. It’s a miracle nothing was broken. Laughter and exhilaration over doing something mom would not approve of.

Movie night. “Tell us a story, a looooove story” your goofy exaggeration when suggesting Snow White always made us groan in exasperation. But secret giggles hid behind.

Why do never see cops on TV go the bathroom? Your obsession with toilets on film is all I need to know to confirm that I’m 100% your daughter.

I haven’t always felt the closest to you. I feel recently we’ve grown apart. I realize now that I’ve just been forgetting everything that makes you you, and that makes you my dad.

You have incredible strength and intelligence. You are kind and considerate and I know you think and worry deeply as I do. You reaching out to me in my recent times of struggle has touched my heart. And made me sad. For I have been a hypocrite.

I love you dad. You mean more to me than you know. Happy Father’s Day.

Quiet Force In The Corner

When I was in high school I took a writer’s craft course in Grade 11. I had the most wonderful, intelligent, absolutely off-her-rocker teacher. Her students were all important to her, and she saw each of their worth and talent individually. She is one of my biggest inspirations for what I write and why I continue to write. While I was in that class she developed a nickname for me, which was her “quiet force in the corner.”

When I was in high school I was shy, awkward, afraid, and pretty invisible. Even more so than now believe it or not. But for some reason she saw something in me, and it always made me feel special and encouraged. Every time I wrote something she was impressed with, or put up my hand in class on the rare occasion, she acknowledged it with a kind smile or word and a twinkle in her eye. And this name has stuck with me ever since.

Now the name has developed even more meaning for me. I chose this as the title of my blog because to me it means that even if you’re quiet, shy, or “beneath the radar”, your voice still matters. If you feel insignificant, unusual, unoriginal, untalented, etc, don’t let that stop you. Use your voice anyway. Write, speak, sing, dance, draw, make macaroni mosaics, do whatever your passion is. Never give up. Even if you feel silly or that doesn’t make sense or what you’re trying to say or create doesn’t matter. It does matter. It matters that you do it. Everything that you do matters, because you do it.

Speak up in anyway that you can, even if that means not speaking. Stand out in your own way. No matter who you are you have worth, and can be your own force.

(This post lacks funnies but it’s late and I’m feeling more inspirational than usual)

 

Shoot Positivity Out of Your Butthole

Not just today. Not just in spite of the horrible events that have recently occurred in Orlando, FL. But because these horrible events keep happening, and there is no plausible way to stop them all together in one giant twitter movement. You know how we can change the world and make it a little better?

By being positive and kind in any little moment we can. Take all your strife and hardships and tackle it and mold it until it resembles something shiny and new and somewhat helpful. Buy a stranger a coffee. Smile at a cat if you don’t like cats. Or if you do like cats. Have a pleasant conversation with someone you don’t always get along with. Spend time with loved ones. Even if you’re both in sour moods– no, especially if you’re both feeling rotten. Take that rottenness and watch a crappy reality TV show or one of those one-star made for Netflix movies together and make fun of it. In a twisted way that is positivity.

It’s nearly impossible to be happy all the time. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression I know this all too well. We all have moments of ups and downs and honestly the downs seem to impact us far more. So we walk around carrying our shitbuckets (not real shitbuckets, metaphorical ones) dumping shit into everyone we interact with’s shitbuckets creating a whole lot of negativity and a god awful metaphorical smell.

So turn that negative shit into positive shit. Do as the title suggests. Or maybe do it in a more reasonable, less vulgar way. But this is how we can truly change the lives around us. No, this isn’t going to fix outrageous gun laws. And yes, that is a problem that needs to be addressed. But it’s not one we can necessarily do anything about individually. We can spread the word, that is doing something. But lets also look at building up the world around us one smile at a time.