Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions - I got this shit!

I will continue to work each and every minute of each and every day.  Trying to stay as positive as possible.  (If staying positive means yelling at strangers in fits of road rage, so be it.  I am not perfect). 
I will not hide my head in the sand about life.  About the reality that is life.  (The Kardashians are going nowhere, that's reality).
I will not pretend things are alright when they are not.  I will just accept them as not alright and work on a solution.  (I will yell when I need to.  But I will not throw stuff anymore.  I will wear my big girl pants instead). 
I will not sweat the small stuff.  (I have hot flashes, I sweat enough).
I will not whine when things are not alright.  (I will yell.  I already promised, see points above). 
I will take ownership for my own shit.  I will see the shit.  I will address the shit.  I will adjust my thinking about the shit.  And I will move on from the shit.  (That's me flushing life's big ol' toilet).  
I will not try to adjust my body to fit others ideas of perfection.  I will adjust my thinking to alter their misconceptions.  (Yep, I am confused too).
I will not blame those around me for my negative thoughts.  (It's my head.  There isn't room for your stuff in here.  The UHaul is rented, time to go).
I will be as healthy as happy can bring me.  And as happy as healthy can bring me. ( Nope, I didn't understand it either). 
I will not obsess.  (Really, I won't.  No seriously, I won't.  Are you listening?  I will not do it.  No really, I won't.  Maybe I will.  No, wait. I won't). 
I will not try to stop the aging process.  I will laugh until the laugh lines are as deep as the ocean.  (And when that happens I will research the effects of Botox thoroughly). 
I will try to dance in the rain at least once.  (Sober). 
And if all else fails.....
I will give it a go.  Will you?
And last, but certainly not least.  I promise to put this cartoon on my desktop screen to remind myself to lie on my back in the grass and pretend I am flying.   (Again, soberly).

Happy New Year everyone. 

2014 was a bitch.  I am going to make 2015 ma' bitch.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for being a friend. 

Just, awwww shucks, *kicks at floor shyly*....thanks.

P.S.  In honour of two friends.  I will believe in Unicorns in 2015.   

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Christmas Gift

When my in laws arrived on Christmas morning I could tell they were surprised.  I was dressed nicely.   I had this paste stuff on my face called makeup.  My hair was blown out in a style some might call a, “hair style”.  And there was a twinkly light in my eye that said, “how do ya’ like me now?”  I was different. 

I hadn’t seen my in laws, whom I love, since perhaps Easter.  I am pretty good at hiding shit so I was there, in theory, that weekend in the spring but I was not this Christmas girl.  I had been withdrawn, short tempered, no makeup, hair pulled back in some kind of “get out of my face you waste of time” hair restrainer, and I didn’t smile genuinely. 

I smile genuinely now. 

The last time I spent significant time with my in laws was a year and a half ago when we spent a week together at a rented cottage on Lake Michigan with friends and other family as well.  Typically we spend a night or two with our in laws.  I think that’s pretty common.  In Michigan it was a week.  They got to see me struggle.  I can only pretend for so long that everything is okay, when in fact, it was not okay.  And that week I struggled.  I couldn’t go out to dinner one evening, choosing instead to cry in bed.  I was short tempered with everyone, choosing instead to snap than listen and understand.  I didn’t sleep.  They noticed. 

I had no genuine smile.  There was one plastered on my face.  It was far from real.

I was battling a long drawn out depressive state.  Whether driven by the Bi Polar disorder or the Borderline Personality traits piling up around me.  I was not well.  As some of you may know, my Bi Polar is not a forgone conclusion.  I may not be, but the medication is working and you don’t mess with a good thing.  I have my Highs and Lows like everyone else now, they are reasonable.  Perhaps it was the Borderline.  Years of personality traits built up around me to defend my inner child.  None of them reasonable traits in reasonable situations.  Who knows?  What do we know now?  I was falling apart.  And it had taken years to get there.  After years of struggling finally a doctor paid attention but unfortunately he was too busy to notice the fact the medication he prescribed has the worst side effect there is.  I became suicidal.  And I fought it hard.  I had suicidal thoughts, every minute of every day for 7 straight months.  In June of 2014 I couldn’t take it anymore and I tried to take my own life.  That started a cycle of healing through learning that was the hardest, most phenomenal time of my life.  First there was the brief hospital stay.  It was during this time those closest to me gathered.  They finally saw what I had been desperately trying to hide.  I was losing the battle to mental illness.  They decided I would go into a long term program and get the care I needed.  That led me to a wonderful hospital where I would spend 60 days learning to find my genuine smile again.
...and sometimes you need help climbing up that first step.
And that led me to greet two very grateful in laws at my door on Christmas Day.  Per my mother in law, “This girl in front of me is the greatest Christmas gift I could ask for.  For you and my son.” 

Had I known I would never had lined up for that jacket I bought her for Christmas.  *laugh*

Sometimes the journey seems endless.  Seems unforgiving.  Seems unbearable.  Then you see your face in the mirror in front of you and you know you are a better person having taken that journey.

Wait 'til you meet her.  You're gonna love her!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm sorry, what now?

"During the course of her admission, it became clear to the clinical treatment team that she was suffering from a Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD).  Her presentation was quite unusual, probably due to the fact that she has numerous protective factors, including a remarkably high intelligence.  As a result, the phenomenology of her BPD presents in a rather unique way.  Nicolle experiences frequent periods of emotional dysregulation, frequently triggered by situations which she interprets as abandonment, loss or rejection.  Her behaviours associated with desperate attempts to escape this experience have in the past included: binge eating, sex, drugs and alcohol, tasks which were totally consuming including her previous career, and anger bordering on rage".

Well that just about sums me up doesn't it?

I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  Damn it.  Because Bi Polar wasn't enough?  

Most people suffer from BPD in some form or another.  If there has been any trauma at all in a person's life, most likely there is some BPD at play.  For example; a person of adoption can disassociate from love, not trusting it, as they feel a deep sense of being unloved/unlovable, having been "given away".  A woman who has been raped will most likely disassociate during sex.  And most definitely these women will find themselves responding unusually to certain scents, hair colour, even the race of a man based solely on their negative experience in the past.  Children of divorce believe in their hearts that parents, people who are supposed to love them, leave.  An abused woman will have a hyper vigilant reaction to perceived threats to her safety.  She will either fight disproportionately or flight at the perception of the threat, before it is even present.  These are all forms of Borderline Personality Disorder.  They can be small, minuscule changes you have made to adapt to your current environment or large changes to disassociate from the same.  In almost all cases, we never know we have BPD, we just know what we don't like or what makes us insecure, makes us feel threatened.  We don't realize we have re-conditioned ourselves to protect ourselves from pain.  Our brain will do anything not to experience pain.  And once it has, the brain will do whatever it can to avoid the same type of pain again.

This had been mentioned to me before and I didn’t really listen to it.  It freaked me out a bit to hear those words.  No one wants to hear they are THAT crazy ( we can say "crazy" having been in a Mental Institution, we (the patients) decided that in there).  Automatically a person thinks that there are multiple personalities at play.  But like I said, it’s not actually that.  You don't call out "Nicolle" and I turn a blank face because at the moment my name is "Sybil".  Borderline means a person that has personality traits they’ve created to deal with stress, trauma, pain etc.  I learned a lot more about this during my two month stay and it’s definitely me.  It all makes sense now.  Even some of the highs and lows and matching them to circumstance, the environment I was in at the time, makes more sense in some cases than even the Bi Polar does.  I developed traits over time, defences, reactions and behaviours that happen automatically.  They are how I behave when events trigger feelings related to my childhood.  I don't even realize it sometimes.  That I am back there, as a child.  I simply have automatic thoughts based on a warped core belief system I developed as a broken child.  Then I behave accordingly.  They are typically damaging behaviours, unhealthy. 

To see this in action, all you have to do is hurt my feelings.  Do something that might make me think I am less than important, and then sit back and watch me explode in rage, sometimes an almost uncontrollable rage.  It’s not a normal reaction to the current situation but in fact my reaction to my past.  Therefore most of the time the current situation is almost forgotten and my reaction totally out of proportion to the now.  It's because I am not there, not present in the now at all.  This controls me, a lot.  If I feel insecure, I feel rage or shut off completely.  I feel nothing.  I am cold, ice cold.  My husband says it’s like I am turned right off, that I feel nothing.  And in fact that’s true.  When I feel exposed I can turn off so much that I don’t care about anything.  And other times, if I feel vulnerable to potential pain, I can become bigger than life, very aggressive.    There’s a million more of these traits but the result of this hospital stay was, I am now aware of all this. 

Borderline Personality Disorder is totally curable.  I can actually be cured from BPD, I just have to do a lot of work.  I have to stop and think about my reaction and whether it’s “normal”, proportionate or not.  Is my reaction related to the current issue or the past?  Is it based on my warped core belief system, or healthy? 

It was something to really see this at play in the hospital when a few patients came in with anger management, aggression, issues.  I felt threatened, even though nothing was directed at me.  I became very manic, and very aggressive.  I had serious game but it was very angry game.  In a class on problem solving I said, “punch them in the face” as my response to how to solve a problem.  I felt very out of control with my responses but they just kept coming, like I said before, uncontrollably.  Don’t get me wrong, the class was in hysterics but I was out of control.  Then, within an hour of the class, I got called into an emergency appointment with the doctor, my nurse, and the occupational therapist asking if I was okay.  I realized that I was feeling really vulnerable due to the expensive therapy into my childhood and these new patients.  Both left me feeling exposed so I was being aggressive in response.   Like a dog showing its hackles, I got bigger than life in response to potential harm.  I was in threatened physically as a child, I felt scared as a child.  Damned if I was going to be scared as an adult.  HELLS TO THE NO!

I have been referred to multiple (no pun intended) Doctors that specialize in BPD and a therapy called Dialectual Behaviour Therapy.  It’s basically having to rewire your brain from its auto pilot.  We, or I, auto pilot to the past. I need to turn this off and be present.  To have more current and realistic behaviours based on the now.  I did some CBT in the hospital (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and I really enjoyed it.  I liked the teachings but even more, I really learned a lot about myself and my auto thinking.  My auto thinking is very self deprecating, very self loathing, and very much based on my childhood where I deemed myself unlovable.  When my father left abruptly and my Mom then checked out mentally I determined not only was it my fault but that I was unlovable therefore this is what happened(s) to me.  Because of who I am, people leave.  My own parents didn't know how to love me, didn’t appreciate me, or value me.  And of course if THEY don’t, then why should I?  So I have a lot of work left to do.  But I am working on it now.  I have been since about weekend 4 of 8 in the hospital.  I quickly realized my auto thinking and feelings are warped and need work.  Work I can and am willing to do.

BPD comes from trauma and as much as we’d like to deny it or say, “get on with it”, “get over it”, a person has to go back and look at their childhood and see where their being may have been altered.  Where normal patterns of growth and development might have been adjusted incorrectly, not appropriately.  Did you know that from the ages of 12-18 a person does more brain development and growth than in all the other years combined that they are alive?  When I was 12 my father left suddenly and abruptly, and was gone for years.  He was my best friend.  I lost my protector, and hero.  And then my Mom neglected and abused me in his absence.  It’s just a fact.  I don't need to emotionally reinvest in that time, it is what it is.  It happened, I cannot change it, accept it I must.  As much as my father appears now when needed, (as he inevitably always does), it will never fix the damaged little girl inside me.  Only I CAN do that.  I have to reassure her and fix her.  Then add to that the mess I lived in with my Mom, the anger, neglect and abuse that was our relationship, and I basically turned off as a child.  I did what I needed to do to survive but I have never stopped “surviving” versus living.  Don’t get me wrong, I have had happy times.  Times where I let go of the past and live in the moment but it doesn't take much to push me back to my old ways.

Even at the high point in my career on Bay Street (Canada's version of Wall Street) I was only "surviving" in that environment.  That high pressure, chaotic environment where everything was unknown fed my need to survive the most.  It was kill or be killed on that trading floor so I shone in there.   I got bigger than life.  Problem solving is my forte, add that to the chaos and if I could fix things then I must have value.  Then they never valued me enough, not financially, not equally, and not with appreciation.  They valued me as much as I valued myself.  It was the perfect toxic relationship for me.  I was feeding my worst insecurities until I exploded.  Suddenly amidst an argument with a co-worker I flashed to a fight with my Mother when I was kid living alone with her.  I started having flashes all the time.  In the shower, on the subway, in my sleep (or lack there of).  I could no longer tolerate stress, the problem solving, the lack of appreciation, it ate away at me until I exploded.  Imploded is more like it.  I will have to be forever cautious going forward that I am doing something that feeds my secure self not my ego or superficial worth. 

Because BPD is almost always brought on by trauma.  We need to define "trauma".  Trauma is stress like situations that are not normal everyday situations. Not normal stressors.  Not the "every day".  Accidents, crime, deaths, abuse of any kind, are all traumas.  Think of the people and families left behind after 9/11.  They all suffer from trauma.  Extreme trauma.  Many of them probably can barely make it through September 11th every year.  A lot of time people who deem their lives at some point so laden with stress block their memories.  Sometimes they filter and block only the bad.  Sometimes the good goes with the bad.  I do not have solid memories of my entire childhood and many years after.  That time period was of such high stress my brain stopped working properly for memory storage.  My brain doesn’t know exactly when to store something so in emotional situations, it barely stores anything.  I can remember an entire book I read but if you insert any emotional response in me I remember NOTHING.  Honest to shit, I remember almost nothing at my Mother's house but weird flashes of bad stuff.  Really bad stuff.  Not how a kid should grow up.  Insert “survival” techniques here.   

Now add in the fact I have a really high intelligence.  My brain barely, if ever, slows down.  I have a practical photographic memory for things I’ve read (things of an unemotional nature).  I remember client phone numbers and accounts from 1989.  I have empathy that’s unrivaled.  I cannot walk past someone in pain and not only help them, but I feel their pain.  I am extremely hyper vigilant.  So much so that I see and hear everything around me.  I am hyper sensitive to all.  Let's summarize shall we.  I am very smart.  My brain is always firing, thinking of a response or comment to all the things I hear.  My hearing is so great that I cannot bring in normal clocks around the house and the clicking sound of the hands will compete with all other sounds.  I can remember anything I have read or written, unless I had an emotional response to it, then it's completely blank.  I feel everyones pain around me and want to help, obsessively so.  I do not miss anything.  I see and hear everything.  If you ask me what someone was wearing from a day ago I can tell you, unless, I felt an emotional pull, then there's nothing.  If that person needed me or was in pain, I will feel it all.  I just might not remember it.  Doesn't that sound fun?  The doctor at the hospital was surprised I made it this long without more serious self harm.

Whew, that was a mouthful.  I am tired now.  I think this writing deserves a nap, don't you? 
So how about you?  Got any abnormal reactions and behaviours to normal situations that seem out of proportion?  Come on, the line up begins right behind me.  I will make cookies. 




Sunday, November 16, 2014

How did I end up here?

As I sat in my room, (which can only be described as a university dorm room that made babies with a hospital room), tears ran down my face and I kept asking myself, "How did I end up here?"  It was my first of many days in the private mental health facility I stayed at this year from July through to September.  I had checked myself in?  How did this happen?  How did I go from fully functioning to so mentally ill and fragile I needed a full time hospital to take care of me?  What happened?  I can tell you now that mental illness can creep up on a person.  It doesn't have to be present in your teens.  It doesn't have to debilitate you at first, or ever for long periods of time.  And sometimes, you just get overwhelmed and realize it's caught up to you.  You are there.  You are mentally ill.  I always knew there was something different about how I thought and felt about things. How I reacted to things was definitely "different".  It just didn't take the wind out of my sails until my mid 30s.  There is no shame.  Like cancer, like diabetes, like any other disease, it can take time to catch up to you and make you sick. 
The facility we found had been on our radar, my husband and I, since before the 2014 year even began.  We knew what was coming, and that it wasn't going to be good.  And it wasn't.  I finally fell into what can only be described as full on despair in May 2014.  I held on until June.  I couldn't do it anymore, I was out of strength.  I attempted suicide in June of 2014, the second my husband's back was turned.  His back was rarely turned that Spring/Summer as he saw what was happening right before his eyes.  He will never forgive himself for those few hours he took away from my side.  I gave him that burden to bear.  He has forgiven me, he has not forgotten.  I have forgiven myself, I have not forgotten.  That is a place I will never go to again.  I will be in hospital if I feel that sense of despair again.  I will not take that chance again.  I was lucky.  We both knew at that time that I had to get into this mental health facility, and fast.  The waiting list, 6 months long.  I was at month 5 when I tried to kill myself.  Month 6 was a few weeks later when they called.  They had a bed for me.
Upon arrival at 9am on that Friday morning, they showed my husband and me to my room.  A room no bigger than my walk in closet at home.  There were two beds in this tiny room.  Beautiful windows from side to side looking over the grounds but I was to have a private room.  I don't do well in tight spaces with other people.  The first of my temper tantrums began.  Tears pouring down my face I turned to my husband, and said "I am not fucking staying in this room, I am supposed to have my own fucking room, I want to go home, NOW".  He turned to the nurse and interpreted that as, "she was to have a private room, and this one appears to be a double".  The nurse advised us that a bed had opened up, it was semi private and the second a private opened, I would get it.  It shouldn't be more than 2 weeks she said.  My husband hugged me tight and begged me to stay.  I had to.  If for no one else, for him.  I had to stay.  He asked the nurse if another room, one a little bigger was available.  He could tell I felt claustrophobic in that room.  I was pale, and clammy.  I was obviously stressing. 
They took me to another room where a woman I had seen practically shaking in her own skin at admissions was unpacking.  I quietly introduced myself, left my things behind and walked my husband down to the car.  I begged him to let me go home, he begged me to stay.  I did what he asked.  I knew it was for the best.  I knew what I had put him through.  I walked slowly back to my room and began to unpack.  Once done unpacking, I crawled into bed and let the tears fall silently.  I didn't want my roommate to see them.  I was strong.  I didn't want to share.  Besides, she was a mess.  Exaggeratingly breathing in, breathing out, jumping and gasping at every sound.  The last thing she needed was me blubbering on.  I didn't leave my room much that day.  I can't recall eating.  I slept on and off, and I cried. 
My first full day was a Saturday.  I was awoken by the nurses at 645am.  Standard practise they said when I asked.  I hadn't slept much that night as they check in every room every few hours with a flashlight.  That takes some getting used to. This first room didn't have a bathroom so upon waking off I went to get changed in the stall of the ward's public women's bathroom.  The bathroom made me feel like I was at camp, or back in high school.  I didn't much fancy either the first time around.  I brushed my teeth and hair and slowly made my way to the cafeteria for breakfast.  The cafeteria was buzzing, buzzing too much for my over active mind.  I almost turned and left without food that first morning.  There were just too many faces, too many voices, far too many people looking at me.  I stayed.  Lined up, got my food, and sat alone next to a post to block me from other people.  The food was average, it was obvious they tried.  I guess feeding 300 people in the hour and a half they allowed, wasn't easy.
After breakfast, I wandered.  I wandered the loooong long hallways finding everything I would need to know about.  I saw where the Rehab center was, the other psychiatric ward (the high risk lock down ward), the mood and anxiety program, and the eating disorder clinic.  I walked the beautiful grounds, taking in the beauty in hopes it would help me accept where I was.  I checked out the cafĂ© and store, the gym, the rec centre, and even the old bowling alley.  I walked for hours.  I needed to be away from that room.  That hospital like room I never thought I would find myself staying in.  And for 60 days no less.  You see on arrival I thought the program was 30 days.  Little did I know the standard program runs 60 days?  That broke my heart.  I couldn't imagine leaving my husband, my dog, my rabbits, my home....for two months.  I couldn't imagine being stuck in this place, no matter the beauty outside.  My husband knew all along.  He had called for the full information long before that day, he just knew I couldn't handle it until I was already there, being forced to face the truth of where I was at mentally.  The good news was finding out I could leave every weekend and every evening so long as the doctor approved.  I decided there and then to be well behaved and be approved!
We were allowed to keep our cell phones on this unit, thank god.  Most of the others, you were not.  But on two of the units, ours included, they wanted you to stay in touch with the real world, the reality outside of those walls.  I texted my husband that first day, "please tell me how long I have to stay here, how long before you know I gave it my best?”  "Two weeks" he replied.  I had hoped for one week.  I could do two weeks.  This is like University without the alcohol I thought to myself, I can do this.  I can learn for two weeks and leave.  That phone was my life line for the first two weeks or so.  I texted my husband every half an hour. 
Those first few days I was on auto pilot.  I did what they said, went where I was supposed to go but I seethed with resentment.  I resented my husband for wanting me there.  I resented myself for ending up there.  I resented all of the staff because I was sure I wasn't sick enough to be there.  And I resented every patient I came across because they just reminded me, I was sick, I had an illness.  I slept, ate, slept, ate.  My husband came to see me that first Sunday, basically a day after my arrival.  He brought the dog.  I sat on the grass with them and I sobbed.  I wanted to go home, but I knew I had to stay.  I missed them both so much already.  My husband cried.  He wanted me home, but he knew I had to stay.
I can honestly say those two weeks were some of the hardest days of my life.  They weren't awe inspiring yet.  They didn't teach me amazing things.  For the first two weeks you get a schedule, easy classes like horticulture and art therapy.  The time is spent just getting used to waking up at a certain time, going to bed at a certain time.  You get on a simple schedule.  You could only get whatever medication you were on during specific times.  And each time you did get your medication you were required to share with your primary or secondary nurse how you were feeling, what was truly going on inside.  As my primary nurse said my second day, "fine, okay, good, and alright tell me nothing and aren't acceptable answers when I ask you how you are".  Jesus fuck lady, I just got here!  I am having a hard enough time having to line up to take my crazy pills with all these crazy people indicating that I am crazy.  Ease the fuck up.  You might be surprised to know that I said none of it.  I said "I am sad" and walked away. 
I didn't stay in hiding for long.  Come on, you all had to see that coming.  By Monday I was saying hello to other patients quietly.  I was curling up on the stinky old couch in the lounge with a book when I didn't have classes.  I had a meal or two at a table with my roommate.  The other meals I spent head down, reading my book.  I guess I was hiding in those pages now that I look back.  Hiding inside a fairy tale story, my face hidden behind the paper.  But I might have looked up and even smiled once or twice at people.  I started to meet people in the lounge and in the classes.  I was finding my groove a little I guess. 

By the end of the week one I found myself talking frequently with two girls who'd arrived around the same time as me.  By the following week we were playing basketball in the gym together.  I was moved into a semi private room with no roommate.  And the week after that I brought my softball stuff and we were out playing ball with other patients on the diamond on the grounds.  By week four......well obviously by now I was there to see the program through.  I had my own private room by then with its own bathroom.  It was comfy.  It was mine.  I was loving french toast Wednesdays and pancake Friday's with ma' girls, now a gang of 5 of us.  I could no longer believe so much time had passed.  I was knee deep in the hard classes and I wasn't even close to being ready to go home? 
What the hell?  How did I end up here?

P.S.  More about my story, my time on the "inside", will follow. 

And Homewood Health Centre is the facility.  I couldn't recommend more.  If you are ready and prepared to do the work, it will work for you.


Monday, November 3, 2014

"Hi"...a simple "Hello" can say so much.

As many people are aware, I suffer from Bi Polar disorder.  Due to a medication misbalance and general disease mismanagement, I found myself in need of some intensive care.  I checked myself into a treatment facility in July and stayed into September of this year.  (See Homewood Health Centre).  I spent 60 days focused on myself and my illness.  It was the most beneficial 60 days of my life.  Over the next few months I am going to share with you some of the things I learned on the "inside".  

I found myself very intrigued when, in one of the classes offered at Homewood, the social worker/therapist posed the following scenario and asked what our gut reactions would be:

You are wandering down the hallway at school, or work, perhaps the grocery store.  You see someone you know and you say "Hi" to them as they pass you.
They do not respond.
Do you:
a) Think they must not have heard me.
b) Think they are an asshole and rude (my words not the therapist's).
c) Think they must not like you.

This says a ton about you as a person, and your core belief system at play.  If, you answer this quick and with pure honesty. 

My first reaction was, "Asshole, jackass, mutha' trucka', rude.....", and then quickly turned into, "Why don't they like me?"

When I was honest I got to the root of it.  My initial response was to defend myself, get angry, blame them for bad behaviour.  If I sat in it long enough it turned to a place of self loathing.   Self loathing is hard to admit and sit in, so again, my initial reaction was to defend myself from that pain.

There were very few of us, struggling with mental illness (amazingly), that could honestly say, a) They must not have heard me.  In fact, only one did, in a class of 20.

Most went directly to c) They must not like me. 

I, am an angry, defensive person by nature because I don't handle real pain, hurt, well.  I don't like myself much (I am working on that every day), so for someone to re-affirm that in my mind is unforgivable. 

Take a second and think about this.  Answer it quickly and honestly and you will know in a manner of seconds if you have a solid foundation of self worth, hello a), or if you need a little tune up to your self esteem, b) and c).

I'd be interested to hear what happens, if you feel like sharing that is.  Obviously I am open to the whole sharing thing. 

FYI - 9 times out of 10, they didn't hear you.  There's always one asshole in the bunch.  LOL

Friday, October 31, 2014

Jian Ghomeshi. Just my opinion.

The news hasn't stopped.  Jian Ghomeshi, a famed Canadian radio personality likes his sex rough.  He likes it rough and he chooses partners who like it rough too, per him.  Those are his words, not mine.  (Not his exact words but you get the gist of it).

Jian Ghomeshi is a practiser/practitioner of BDSM.  I am not sure how you say that properly so forgive me any "practisers" that read this.  BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism.  Ghomeshi told the world he practised this in a Facebook status update last week.  In this statement he mentions always having consensual partners.  He said that issues arose forcing him to disclose his personal preferences because of a scorned ex girlfriend.  And finally, he states that he was asked for evidence of consent by his employer, the CBC (the "Canadian Broadcasting Company").  Apparently another news company had information about several women complaining that there was no consent in their violent interactions, some of which were violent sexual interactions, with Ghomeshi.  Ghomeshi made his statement on Facebook to the world immediately prior to an announcement by the CBC that Ghomeshi was terminated.  Mr. Ghomeshi then filed a 50 million dollar breach of trust suit against the CBC.  CBC countered with a statement of their facts for termination.  Since all that back and forth, which streamed for days on everyone's TV and computer, 9 women have come forward to claim that they had violent non-consensual interactions with Ghomeshi.  To reiterate, they claim there was NO consent. 

From what I can gather BDSM is very much about power.  One party wants it, one party gives it up.  They consent to what they will do role playing out these power positions.  The two parties agree in advance to what they will do, what they will NOT do, and a safety word to end the power play altogether.  And sexual gratification plays a very big part in this.  I say that it plays a part in it, because in many cases, there is no sex.  Sometimes it's about BDSM alone, not the sexual activity that can sometimes go with it.  In some cases it is about violent activities such as whipping, hitting, choking for example, and there is no sex involved. 

As I said earlier, 9 women have come forward, in the news, to say they were harmed by Ghomeshi and they did not consent to being harmed.  Many people are asking why these women didn't come forward at the time, and to the police for that matter.  Every day women are harmed by their partners and they do nothing about it.  I am sure there isn't one person who will read this that doesn't "know a girl who knows a girl", who stayed in an abusive relationship long past the first hit.  In many cases these women feel they somehow deserved it, that they did something to provoke it, and they are embarrassed it happened to them.  They find themselves asking, "How could it have happened to me?  How did I become "that" woman?  Maybe if I just go along with this it will stop?"  Then factor in that Ghomeshi was somewhat famous and the women become even more scared and intimidated, embarrassed, and unsure.  Maybe they somehow led him on?  Would the police even listen to them?  What would they have to reveal about themselves to win something like this against a man with fame and money?  We've all seen CSI and Law and Order.  It's not easy being the victim and without even being one we know that already.

When this first came out I thought Ghomeshi was the victim.  I thought the big bad corporation had wronged him.  I started to write about that.  I pulled it from my blog and Facebook because I stopped, just for one second, and thought about the supposed "scorned ex girlfriend" and wondered if she had been physically harmed.  If that was the case then was I ever gonna feel like shit siding with Ghomeshi as the victim of this wrongful dismissal.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think an employer has the right to fire you for your personal life....unless that personal life is criminal and thus harmful to their brand.  And the brand better be contingent to the corporate success as is the case with a broadcasting company.  Public opinion not only matters, it's tantamount to their success.  Further an employer has a legal obligation to ALL it's employees to keep them from harm.  If they are aware of a potential harmful situation they must do something immediately to negate that risk or potentially face litigation from all the other employees.  In this case I believe CBC did the best they could.  They took the information they had, balanced the risk to liability, and made their decision.  Should they have suspended their employee versus termination while the facts came out?  Who knows.  We likely don't have the information they have, nor do we have their full employee guidelines and practises, their union handbook etc.  They made a decision that no one has to agree with.  That we can agree on.

Let's review the facts shall we? 

BDSM is a personal choice.

BDSM harms no one if both parties have consented to partake in the activities.

Consent means full, true, and plain disclosure of all the facts and an agreement to all facts. 

Not having consent means the other party has been given full disclosure of all the facts and has said no or they simply don't have all the facts to say no to.

Not having consent but acting as if you do, removes a person's rights.  Their freedom of choice.  And will cause harm at a minimum just by the removal of their rights.

With all that information in hand I decided that I had nothing to say just yet.  At that stage we had Ghomeshi's word, CBCs word, and the "apparent" word of an anonymous woman labeled by Ghomeshi as a jilted ex girlfriend.  I would wait to hear more about the developing story.  I read, and I read some more.  I looked at the legal side to Ghomeshi's case against his employer.  I even read some legal jargon pertaining to whether as a unionized employee could he even sue at all.  FYI, they cannot until they have gone through arbitration with their union representative and their employer.  In most circumstances, if their case goes to a judge, into a courtroom, the judge will defer back to the arbitration agreement because they do not wish to step into union business.   That's a whole other ballgame.   

As of today, two women have come forth publicly, to the press and admitted to being alone with Ghomeshi and his causing them physical and/or sexual harm without their consent.  They are claiming they knew nothing of the BDSM rules.  They did not have full disclosure of the facts.  Therefore they couldn't consent to what they didn't know.  In addition to these 2 women who've come forth publicly, 7 more have come forth anonymously.  They all claim to being harmed by Ghomeshi without consent.  None of these women have gone to the police.  Until today, doing a little light reading (aka research), I wasn't aware you could even go to the police after two years had passed.  In these cases, there is no time limitation for filing charges. 

The question seems to remain, why these supposed victims have gone to the press and not the police?  I can only assume it is much easier to skewer a person in social media than it is in court.  If these women file assault charges against Ghomeshi they have the burden of proof to prove he is guilty.  He is presumed innocent of the charges.  In turn then, are they not assumed guilty of lying basically? Seriously!  Think about it.  He is presumed innocent which means the person saying otherwise is lying.  Therefore the liar must be proven innocent while the innocent proven guilty.  The victim's lives will be ripped apart to prove they are telling the truth.  Would you file?  Or would you let the people on social media decide his fate?

Did you know roughly 90% of sexual assaults in Canada go unreported.

Of the 10% reported, 1/3 of those are decided unfounded.  There is not enough evidence to lay charges. 

Charges are laid in about 16% of the 10% reported.

(statistics from a Globe and Mail article, October 2013 "How Canada's Sexual Assault Laws Violate Rape Victims)

I ask you again, would you go to the police?

I was raped in 1989.  I did not go to the police. 

This is the only time I have spoken of it publicly.  Close friends know.  My husband knows.  My therapist knows.  And of course the doctors and nurses at the clinic I recently stayed at know.  It's a huge part of treatment for any woman who finds themselves staying in a Mental Health Facility.  As per the professionals at the clinic, it is something that has sadly happened to "most women" who end up there.  You'd be amazed how many women in the clinic had been raped.  It was frightening and sad how many of us there were, most of whom, didn't report it.  I didn't go to the police because I was drunk.  I was out of control drunk.  I should not have been.  I should never have been that out of control that I couldn't say yes or no.  That laid partial blame in my corner in my mind.  With that fact alone I knew better than to go to the police.  If I did, I would have to prove it, and I wouldn't be able to.  The burden of proof would be in my court.  So I put it away, and I went on with life. 

9 women have come forward.

They say that Jian Ghomeshi hurt them and they didn't consent to being hurt.  From what I have read, none of them are part of the BDSM community at large.  BDSM is not their preference or current practise. 

1 man has come forward.

He says he did it, yes.  He choked these women.  He hit these women.  He put himself in a physically dominate power position over these women.  But he did so with consent.  He gave these women full, true, and plain disclosure of all the facts beforehand and they all said yes to all the facts. 

9 to 1 odds.  I'd take that bet.  Would you?

For the record, considering what MIGHT be at stake here, the non-consensual harm of 9 women, these t-shirts are fucking shameful.  Facebook and it's Advertising department alongside this tee shirt company should be really ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's just MY opinion...don't hate. THAT will save us.

A Muslim, sometimes spelled Moslem, is a follower of the religion of Islam.

There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.

A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God.  Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.

The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers as well as their respective followers as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage.

With about 1.6 billion followers, almost a quarter of earth's population, Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.


There is nothing that I can find regarding this religious, this freedom of religion, choice that says “hate”, “kill”, or “destroy” people of other faiths.   Muslims represent the world’s second largest populous of humans on this earth.  We see random acts of terrorism all over the world and we condemn this religion as a whole.  This is not fair, not true, and is in fact racist.  Something we Canadians do not do.

Every day, white people, black people, Asian people, Christians, Catholics, Baptists, and Atheists cause this world harm.  They kill, rape, steal, and cause mass harm.  See Oklahoma City bombing.  See Columbine.  See Virginia Tech.  See Sandy Hook.  Have you ever seen the news address these killer’s religious beliefs?  We are condemning the entire Muslim population, an entire religion, for the acts of some. 

These violent people are, and must be called, extremists, radicals, and/or terrorists. They have chosen to use their religion as an excuse for extreme and radical violence and hate.  They have taken a religion and manipulated it to fit their dark and hateful beliefs.  Using it to condone their hate.  This is not the belief of the general Muslim population.

ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) are terrorists that believe they should have control over the entire Muslim population of the world and once they have that, they will take control over the rest of the free world. They will gain this control through violence if necessary.  Obviously they believe this is necessary.  Muslims are not members of ISIS/ISIL by default because of their religion.  ISIS/ISIL members are members.  They have chosen to be terrorists.  That is not by definition, "religion".

I am not a religious person.  I do not follow any religion.  In fact, I find religion to be, in many cases, used by people as an excuse for bad behaviour.  If the non-existent (in my opinion) God can forgive you, than you have done no wrong? That is typically after you have already done wrong and need forgiveness.  How about we do no wrong?  How about we rely on a moral compass to determine what’s right or wrong?  But those are my beliefs and mine alone.  I do not begrudge anyone their faith or beliefs.  Whatever gives you comfort and peace, grab a hold.  Spirituality is what you make of it.

What happened in Ottawa, Canada on October 22, 2014 had nothing to do with religion.  It had all to do with extremist beliefs to cause harm to others.  Those that wish to cause harm, those that follow groups that wish to cause harm, must be stopped.  Let’s not assign blame to an entire population of people who wish to believe in religion.  We gave them that right when we welcomed them into our free country.  They are Canadians who have a religion we may not follow or understand.  What we do not understand we shall not judge.  We are a free country which prides itself on its rights and freedoms.  It’s what Canada stands in large part for.  Take pride in THAT today.  Take pride in those people that put their lives on the line to honor these rights and freedoms.  Love this country of ours and all those that love it alongside you.  
RIP Corporal Nathan Frank Cirillo
O Canada.
Our home and native land.
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The true north strong and free.
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada we stand on guard for thee. 




Monday, October 6, 2014

Things Could be Worse

This morning in the grocery store I found myself telling someone, "it could be worse, it could be Ebola".  I wanted to slap myself for saying, as always, what popped into my head.  And yet at the same time, a truer sentence was never said.  It could have been worse and worse would be Ebola, as a front page news example.  I said this to the cashier at the checkout.  Thankfully she is aware of my sick humour (or not so funny comments you might say) and she just shook her head in disbelief.  I am sure she wanted sympathy for her announcement of a cough but I wasn't in the mood to provide sympathy.  It was a, "here's Nicolle's reality" kind of day.  The fact is, her cough could have been worse, couldn't it?

I just recently spent 60 days in a Mental Health Facility.  I have struggled my entire life off and on with mental illness.  Because of this struggle I have been on many medications one of which recently led me down the vicious path of suicidal thinking.  It was a very dark place, with very dark thoughts.  I was more than ready to spend some time in hospital having my medications rebalanced and doing some intensive therapy and self-care.  It was time, this was obvious.  Why am I seemingly so far off the Ebola topic?  Because I found myself constantly looking around the hospital thinking, "Shit, things could be worse, look on the bright side".  The bright side being, things could be worse.  It was everywhere around me.  People suffering from more severe mental illness than I.  I was pretty lucky.  Even though I was in such a dark place this year, things could have been worse.  I just had to see that.  With this being Mental Health Week in Canada I wanted to post some reality.  A way for the those suffering to see some light because it's not as easy, "think positive thoughts", as it sounds.

Remember, things could be worse. It's called the bright side for a reason, it's brighter over there.  Reality is, things are sometimes bad.  I think we need to feel the bad to be able to see the good.  I am saying that things in this moment may not be so bad if you take a good hard look at how it could be worse and say to yourself, "I guess it's not so bad after all".  Trust me, I am not Miss Positive Pants so it should come as no surprise that I found myself asking the doctors while I was in hospital; "How can I be positive when I live inside a chemically imbalanced brain that induces depression?"  The response was unanimous.  Positive thinking does not negate the bad things in life.  They will happen, and you need to learn how to deal with them as best you can.  Life will not always be positive just because you think positive.  There needs to be some preparedness for stress, for anxiety, for pain, for heartbreak, and for all the things that can sometimes happen in life.  You need to learn how to live with the bad, sit in those moments, feel them, and then do your best to move on.  Looking at how things could be worse can be that stepping stone to moving on. 

Let's be honest, if you try saying to a room full of people suffering from depression or depressive states due to other mental illness, "be positive, always"..... it's a pretty good way to get yourself a beating.  But if you say to them, "things could be worse", they can usually see how.  Almost everyone can see how their bucket of crap could be deeper, bigger, a "head under", bucket.  They just don't always, in that moment, see how they can climb on out of it.  Telling them to "just do it" is not always the best first step. 

I always recommend humour so try reminding those you love that are struggling that things could always be worse....with a giant pimple on the tip of your nose. 

Really, that is worse.