One Week In

Posted: July 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

Well, almost a week.  I’ve had to use the emergency anti anxiety drugs a couple of times, but I’m still only on a starter dose of Zoloft so I suppose that’s to be expected. I haven’t had to use them at work, moreover I’m a afraid to because they make me a little clumsy. Not necessarily loopy or drowsy, but sometimes my feet don’t listen. I guess that doesn’t make a lot of sense but it is midnight, and I’m a little sleepy. So we’ll just go with it.

Thankfully I’ve not experienced any insomnia, and Lyndsay says she notices a slight difference. I guess I notice small ones. She says she can hear a difference in my voice, I don’t sound defeated. I suppose I never thought about it before but it makes sense. I spent a lot of energy pretending to be normal and fight through the worst of my anxiety during the day that by the time I got home I was so mentally exhausted. Even though I haven’t used them at work, just knowing I have something in the event panic takes hold helps. I spend less time pretending.

Admitting all of it helps. Writing it down helps me work through it. Though contrary to what that may sound like I’m not writing these posts as a form of therapy (though it’s becoming a happy byproduct). I’m writing these because it’s important for people to vocalize their struggles. Reading posts from people like Jenny Lawson (aka the Bloggess) helped me realize that. So the more voices out there, the more people will realize they aren’t alone and it’s okay to talk about it.

And that’s the important thing. I’m not famous, I’m not well known by any means but one more voice added to the growing dialogue can’t do anything but help. We have to talk, be honest- even if it’s only to the wide void of the Internet. 

I still have anxiety. I still feel the pull of depression but it’s getting better. Little by little it’s getting better.  That’s all I can hope for.


Mental Health #1

Posted: July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was a teenager.  I’ve been on and off medications , misdiagnosed, rediagnosed and I’ve seen a handful of doctors and counsellors. I’m largely silent on social media about it, mainly because there is such stigma attached to suffering from a mental illness. I’ve always believed that people didn’t want to hear about it or would think that I was talking about it to gain attention or something akin to adulation.  

Why I choose to talk about it now is precisely because there is stigma attached to it. I want to be very clear that every opinion expressed is mine alone. Put simply, it’s because everyone experiences their illness(Es) differently. Depression and anxiety for me may not be the same as depression and anxiety for someone else. Even if I don’t directly say “I”, you can assume I’m talking about myself, at least in regards to experiences and symptoms.

But I feel we need more people to be vocal, to humanize it. Mental illness isn’t something we lock people away in dank institutions for any longer, but the fear and stigma are still there. Even with celebrities like Kristen Bell being open and honest about their struggles, there is still an underlying trepidation when discussing it. 

But it isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s not something to hide. On the contrary, I’m  proud to talk about it-because of what I have survived. I am still alive, having survived (largely due to a massive stroke of luck I still thank whatever divine creator is up there for) a suicide attempt almost ten years ago. I’ve made it through some of the darkest thoughts, near crippling anxiety and my own fears about telling people of my struggles. 

My official diagnosis is depression,  anxiety disorder with some elements of OCD (which are, according to my doctor, manifestations of my anxiety). The depression ebbs and flows, but the anxiety is always there. That’s my biggest struggle. You know that feeling you get when you are about to fall but don’t? That’s how I feel most of the time. Sometimes it’s worse, and sometimes I barely notice it but it’s always there. Large crowds, loud noises, small spaces and stress can trigger an anxiety attack, which sucks. But I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve not had a full blown panic attack in a long time. 

So I’m three days on Zoloft, and thus far I’ve experienced a tiny perceptible change in my anxiety, which I half consider (thanks to my wife’s astute knowledge) psychosomatic because there’s no way in three days to feel a difference from just a 50mg starting dose. At least I don’t think so. But maybe there is. 

I don’t pretend to be an expert. I know a bit about psychology but this little series I’ll be doing isn’t to meant to be a professional assessment of mental illness, nor is it to be used a diagnostic tool. If you think you are suffering from a mental illness , please see someone. It will be the greatest decision you make in your life.

And that someone doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to start with, a counselor or therapist are great tools as well. Some people don’t need medications, others do. It’s different for everyone. You have to decide what’s right for you.

And if you’re thinking of taking your own life, please drop what you are doing and tell someone, or go directly to the hospital. You are unaware of what good you have to offer right now, I know that feeling first hand. Please get help if you feel that way. You’ll be glad you did, maybe not right away but once you cut through that darkness you will be thankful.

Until next time.

Sin Eater

Posted: May 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

(For the Flash Fiction challenge I went with this photo – – and below…is what I came up with.)

I knew the moment she lit that cigarette she’d be trouble.  Some things you can just tell.  She was sitting on that backless stool, heels hooked on the rungs and she looked like she meant every drag.  Every puff, every drink washed away a sin.  Tequila, the married man she’d slept with two nights ago.  Vodka, the child she’d left on a stranger’s doorstep.  I saw all of her sins, each one in her movements.  I can smell all their sins, not just the redhead sitting on the stool in that too short dress.

The man at the end of the bar, the one wearing flannel and a beard that he probably hadn’t taken care of in years, every scotch brings him closer to forgetting the little kid he hit with his truck six years back.  Crashed into him like he was an orange safety cone.  He got away with it.  Drove off before anyone could see his plates.

Their sins call to me.  I could exploit them, use them to make a deal.  That sweet deal.  My mouth waters at the thought.  The deals are almost too good to pass up.  It’s what I was born for, what I’m good at.  Trouble is, I’m trying to break free of that.  It’s not so easy, and every drink brings me closer to forgetting it.

This is my city.  My playground.  Every street in the early morning when the fog slowly lifts are my home.  Every hole in the wall bar that people cross the street to avoid, these are my stalking grounds.  The people are my lambs, carefully I lead them down the path of my choosing.  They call me Devil, but really I’m just another lost soul.

Against my better judgment, I raised two fingers to Gary, the bartender, and motioned to the woman on the stool.   Gary looked liked he had lead a hard life. I’m sure he had, you didn’t become the proprietor of a bar like this- one that catered to the lowest of the low, unless you’d made some pretty bad choices in life.   The woman smiled her thanks and lifted the glass with a knowing smile. Pity she had no idea, and I needed to leave before she found out the hard way that not everyone in the city that bought you a drink was a friend.

The city was cold, wrapped in a dark autumn night. Chinatown was bustling as I made my way toward the Canal Street station. It was always this way, even in the dead of winter. I brought my coat closer and wrinkled my nose. The stench of the fish stalls took over the entire street, that rotten bitter scent stuck in your nose during the colder months.

“Ah Morrigan. You want tea yes?”

The old woman in a tiny stall near the train station smiled with crooked teeth, beckoning to me with a crooked finger. The store itself was packed with knock-off merchandise, bamboo pots and luggage that rarely if ever had a price tag. Unsuspecting newbies would be lured into a battle of wits and haggling over the small fanny pack they wanted to hold their traveler’s cheques. This was the way this world worked, a world I called home.

“Not tonight.” I grunted and walked past her.

The old woman grabbed my arm with a hiss, digging her nails into my arm slightly. I let the heat below my skin flare a little, and she immediately let go. I turned to face her, the woman from the bar weighing heavily on my mind. There was a tugging in my stomach, my heart; my entire body was shaking now and finally I nodded.

“Ah so good. You look like you need.”

I followed the old woman through the tight aisles of the store to the tiny back room. It was separated from the main part of the store with a single beaded curtain. The curtain rattled as we passed through, and the old woman sat at the table. I always did like the ornate dragon carving in the center. The eyes were jade, and the teeth were ivory insets. It was stunning, and arguably the only reason I ever came inside.

“Whenever you’re ready.” I shrugged my coat off and moved behind her, placing my hands on her neck.

The old woman closed her eyes and relaxed. I exhaled and shut my eyes, pressing my fingers against her temples. Her sins were my sins, electricity ran along my fingers and up my arms. As the whispers began, I could feel every misdeed running through my veins and making it’s way upward. The warmth of them flooded me and the shakiness all at once eased. I let go of her and she slumped forward, her head thumping gently against the table. Rolling my shoulders back, I grabbed my coat and made my way out the door. She’d wake in the morning.

The city had grown brighter, the neon lights of the shop signs buzzed with wild electricity. The cold danced along my skin, the whispers had grown more tolerable. Chinatown was alive, and so was I. This was my city, these were my people. Every sin they had, I knew. Every sin they would have, I could feel along my skin like prickles. Their hearts were visible. This was my home. My name is Morrigan, I’m a sin eater and I love every minute of it.

My mother and I have an interesting relationship. It’s not bad by any means, but over the years we have both noticed that we butt heads constantly. It’s very easy for us to get into little spats (which, mostly are me getting cranky or snippy – and her using her “Mom tone” and me immediately backtracking). My mother and I don’t have the same sense of humor, we like very different things, and we don’t always see eye to eye.

I know people who have the kind of relationship with their Mom that I used to envy as a child. They are best friends, they do everything together – they like the same things, they can go shopping together without it turning into an apocalyptic silent anger and guilt fest. They have the sort of relationship with their mothers that I have with my father.

I say used to envy, because as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I don’t need my mother to be my best friend. I don’t need her to like the same things I like, to laugh at the same things I laugh at. I need my mother to be my mother, exactly as she is. She may get frustrated with me, and I may get frustrated with her – but in the perfect example of unconditional love, she is still there when I need to vent about something. She is still there when, at thirty-three years old, I need life advice for something I have no idea how to deal with. She’s there when my wife isn’t home and I need to tell her about something that just happened.

My mother didn’t give birth to me. As a child, it was a subject of discussion among the other kids. I never knew the difference. Both of my parents still loved me, my entire family loved me. I was never made to feel out of place in my family, so why did they care that I was adopted. Now, of course, I realize that children often call out what they don’t understand.

When people talk about adoption like it’s some kind of secret, like its somehow less valid than actual childbirth, I get defensive. When people say that children should have a say in where they end up – I feel as though the people talking have absolutely no clue how wonderful adoption can be, not only for the child – but for the parents.

I have lived with my parents since I was two years old, and officially adopted when I was 6 (5? I can’t remember the exact age). My parents and family are mine. I may not be blood related, but we are related by something far deeper. The ties of family aren’t always determined by blood. Motherhood isn’t determined by whether or not a woman has pushed a child from her womb into the world. Motherhood is determined by the desire, the want, the need to be a mother. So whether that is achieved naturally, through fertilization treatments – or by adoption, every form of motherhood is valid.

I do not consider my mother any less my mother because she did not carry me for nine months. I’ve read articles that talk about adopted children not “clicking” with their parents. I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones.

While my mother and I may have our fair share of disagreements – I am filled with nothing but love, and gratitude that she chose me. For me, that’s the greatest kind of love. She looked at me and said “I want her to be my daughter.” There’s a lot more involved, of course, but that is not worth putting here. The situation that led to my adoption doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that my mother chose to be my mother. That’s not to say she’s better than mothers who give birth to their children, but to those out there who are adopted – you will know what I mean. To those that aren’t, all you need to know is that it’s love. Unconditional and deep rooted.

So, thank you Mom. Thank you for everything. Thank you for giving me a chance to live the best life I could. Thank you for every late night when I was sick. Thank you for working so hard to make sure I had the things I needed in life. I don’t say these things nearly enough (you know it’s always been easier for me to write things out). Thank you for saving my life (really more than once, and you know what I mean). Thank you for reminding me that sometimes, I need to calm down. Thank you for accepting me, for treating my wife like a second daughter. Thank you for everything you have ever given me, and everything you ever will.