Sunday, May 23, 2010

"My Inner Owl Vs. My Darkness"

 Fumbling in the darkness we have trouble navigating around things that are familiar to us, stubbing our emotional toes, tripping over personal detritus all the while we seek light, answers to our lives that will guide us forward.

 I have been trapped in this darkness for a while now, stumbling, bumping into some things repeatedly injuring my soul and heart along the way. Can I still summon my "Inner Owl" which allows me to see in my darkness? I get moments of my inner owl showing me clear paths to light, but only if I accept his brutal honesty. My medical situation mixed with my crazy has left me in a pretty dark space. A space of which I share little, leaving small emotional bread crumbs so as people who care about me can see my outline but not stand next to be in my  darkness.

 I am a frightened and hurt little boy, I hide my fear through my humor, and by keeping people away. I do not want to have people watch me die, as part of me feels that I do not deserve the love of others and part of it is a selfish hurt animal response to being in pain, to hide away. To give myself clearer vision in the dark I must admit my deep sadness, loneliness and almost pathologic drive not to let people in

 Even right now I am thinking of my escape by moving someplace where I know no one and living out what is left of my life alone, with no connections, no closeness, so I can no longer cause pain in others lives. This inner fight is a product of many things in my personality, my being an only child. Which has given be some protection from loneliness, to my on and off battle with low self esteem. I love people but most of the time do not like myself and today is one of those days.

 So as my inner owl says there is light in love and openness my dark self who lives in my minds shadows says just run and isolate as that will stop your pain, because it has in the past. I miss "ME" a lot and fear he is gone forever and no owl anywhere can see light in my kind of darkness. Anyone have a flashlight?

Monday, May 17, 2010

"CRaZy EYeS or How I use My Illness to Keep a Distance"

  Crazy Eyes... or actions. I have discovered one way that I use my being "Out" as crazy as a tool to in my social life. There are many ways we build walls around us, some of us act like assholes as a way of not letting people get close to us then sit alone and wonder why we have no social life. Others still will find the slightest personal defect and magnify it so it becomes a screen keeping someone away to protect our hearts.

 Me I use my Crazy, and it can be both a passive and active interpersonal denial system. A tool that I have honed over the years as my moat that surrounds my heart. Myself like so many others have been hurt by the actions of people who in some cases were just mean and in others were just being a product of whatever life had conditioned them to be. In my case I have been abandoned.

 I have abandonment issues, they are not as bad as they were in the past but the way they manifest themselves is slicker, more polished now. I have been ill since my teens and in my teens the reaction to my mental illness by my peers was usually through bullying, being excluded, and just plain ignored, or when I did make friends left for the socal dead.

 In some cases this.. well alot of cases this happened due to my behavior and actions when I was manic. Which when I was younger was quite often. It was hard to be friends with me. I was unpredictable, irresponsible, angry and just plain odd. My fault or not it hurt, and the pain went deep. I lost friends and family, I was forgotten or just plain mocked.

 As I got older and wiser maturing into my crazy I learned that I could protect myself with it when I needed to. I used my illness to self destruct good relationships out of fear that they would abandon me first. This pattern went on for years and in some degree still does.

 Today I am out and I tell everyone and anyone that I am Bipolar. I use this in two ways, in a altruistic way in order to break down stigma and educate people. I also use it to weed out folks who may break my heart later or are unable to be friends with someone like me. Better I scare you away then I let you in to hurt me.

 I still fear being alone but I no longer dislike being alone. The people who know me, love me and except me warts and all I have no fear or insecurity about them leaving my life. But I am still cautious of new people, i still push even people who care about me away out of my own fear that "I" will fuck things up like I did so much in the past.

  I call myself a "Asshole" a lot when I am getting to know people like some crazy person fog horn warning them to stay clear of my bat shit rocks. I know I do it and it is a personality flaw that I hate about myself. I hope that by writing this and exposing it that it will become harder and harder for me to do.

 I want to fill my moat in and let people dance on my lawn...........................

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Antisocial Noise The Dark Under Belly of Social Media"

  There has been alot of talk on the twitters and the bloggers recently about social media being "antisocial". I have seen, felt and partook in some way the dark side that social media can create. It is to be expected it is for the most part uncensored, public and people are behind a digital wall, so it becomes easier to fall prey to being not so nice.

 There always will be conflict between humans, as not everyone will like everyone. We have different value systems, hobbies, lifestyles and yes emotional baggage, that we carry with us everywhere, it makes us who we are. For alot of people in social media be it bloggers or tweeps the only things we have in common is we use social media and we like people to hear what we have to say and that is it. Expecting relationships or friendships based on these thin bonds is just plain dumb. So we seek out others like us, things we share voices that sound familiar and safe. The only problem is as humans we are not designed to communicate in 140 characters or less, nor on mostly one sided dialog of blogs. This leads to misinterpretation, hurt feelings and judgments prior to investigation through real human contact.

 Another aspect of the Antisocial Noise of social media is the so called celebrity factor and ego infrastructure. It is rampant and infectious and threatens to bring down the open access aspect that makes social media such a great tool. We have a hierarchy that is set in place that some are better than others because of the number of followers or clicks on a blog. This is crap because some of the most talented, actors, writers, musicians are the ones almost know about and the so called "A" list personalities are pure poop it is that simple.  We are bombarded with noise from self proclaimed "Digital Celebs" who flog their crap like it is the words of God him or herself.

 Then there is the bulling, gossip, and digital despotism of social media. This dangerous and damaging behavior is epidemic online. The folks who follow you yet message gossip behind your back. Yes we all gossip to some degree we are human after all. What I am talking about is the mean, from a dark damaged soul kinda gossip meant to divide and destroy. This interaction serves only one purpose to build up someone who is so empty inside that no one else is allowed to be happy. Bullies who use access to events or activities to control and create loyalty is also a common theme online.

 Never before has there been a form of communications media that has allowed basically anyone to have a widely heard voice, and it is in it's terrible twos of communication life, allowing for this slash and burn social landscape.

 What to do? Well it is simple and hard, disconnect from bullies, divas, hateful gossip mongers. Do not get star struck by twitter and blogger celebrities. Find people who you would like if you met them in the real world. Watch your noise, and just plain be nice. Also remember just because someone has a computer, i-phone, blog and camera does not mean they are nice people who will offer you anything without strings attached.

 Are there good people, yes lots more nice genuine folks than not. I personally have met and become friends with some amazing people through social media. People who have changed my life for the better. I have also been burned, by the nasty, witnessed the shallow and agenda filled social climbers. they are the exception but the noise the spew tends to be louder than the rest.

Here are some tips for weeding out the anti-social in your digital stream;

  1. Unfollow: As easy as it sounds people have problems with this when we base how much we are liked on our follower count. How many people are on your feed that you do not give a shit about really?
  2. Follow: seek out people you do like encourage people you know to join in to social media so they can have a online voice.
  3. Call Out Bullies: Do not be afraid they cant really hurt you, so call them out. The one thing a bully cannot  take is being bullied back.
  4. Have Fun: This should be fun not stressful, if you are getting stressed by your digital life, turn the damn computer off.
  5. Do Not Get Sucked In: I have been sucked in myself, so when you think you are being sucked into a online social situation you are not comfortable with disconnect, take a step back and see the whole picture.
Social Media can be an amazing place for everyone if we allow it to be. So go out play nice and for gods sakes no more LOL Cats

"Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick - Time, Cancer & Priorities"

 If you follow my mumblings here you already know I have cancer and as of now there is no cure. I am fairly ok with this yet I am also acutely aware of Time. We all have a limited time on this earth and for most of us the amount of time is kept pretty much a mystery and we move through our world not paying too much mind to our "Time".

 With the recent developments in my life now "Time" has become more important as every thing I do, every person I interact with either removes or adds to my remaining life clock of experiences.  It is like a hard drive, you can only put so much data on it

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Mad Pride!!! Bringing Mental Health Out of The Darkness"

photo courtesy of a crazy person and big pharma

 I watched my Father a Gay Rights pioneer fight homophobia in NYC in the years after the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall is still a bar I still frequent in NYC and find as a safe harbour in my life. These riots where the incubator of what we know as the Modern "Gay Pride" movement.  Years of fighting for equal rights and end to homophobia still have not ending the hate or reversed laws but there have been amazing changes in the views and acceptance of the gay community.

 I am mentally ill, I suffer from as alot of you know Bipolar disorder. I am vocal and self "Outed" years ago. I use my blog, facebook and twitter to openly discuss mental illness and it's world view.

 For years and still people who live with, or have a family member living with mental illness have suffered mostly in silence, out of fear of being shunned, loosing employment, mocked, mistrusted and generally thought of as less than. This stigma is not just from lay people but also from medical professionals. That is why the time for "Mad Pride" has arrived.

"Mad Pride" is a movement quite like Gay Pride, it started from a need for a stigmatized segment of our community to be given respect and equal rights. The movement started in late 1990s in the UK as a way to re educate the public and healthcare professionals about living with mental health. There are parades in many cities already even Toronto has a Mad Pride week. But we do not here in Vancouver and we need one.

 Vancouver has a very high per capita mental illness rate, we see it all around us almost everyday. So what do we do? How do we evoke a pivotal change in the public and professional views of crazy?

  My plan is simple, I will continue to speak out on Mad Pride and my mental illness. I intend to also use social media, like twitter, facebook, and blogging to create a Vancouver Mad Pride movement. My goal in the short  term is a parade, and festival. Just one day for now with a dream of it being a week long event.

The time has come.... We need to join the Crazy  the Sane, the lay person and professional to come together to break down the walls of hate, fear, stigma, and blindness and stand up for Mad Pride.. Because we are all a little mad!

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Relationship Structural Engineering or How to Mend Bridges"


pic from
Sometime in our quest for self discovery we leave in our wakes a crumbling social infrastructure of broken or in alot of cases personal bridges of disrepair. We pass through the lives of so many people on our journey, some we remember, so we do not and even some we had harmed or had harmed us. Also we neglect alot of our social bridges taking them for granted thinking they will always be strong and be there to carry us when we need them. This is not true, if left un- tended un -cared for these bridges fall apart.

   Now that I see that my life is what it is, I sit and think about these bridges, the ones left, taken for granted, the ones that I crushed like Godzilla in Tokyo and have decided it is time for a infrastructure upgrade. I as you all know can be a asshat, I have in my past treated some friends poorly or worse taken alot of people for granted. I intend to change this starting today.

  It is not easy for us to mend these relationships, sometimes we forget what we are mad over or we are ashamed of how we acted. In the cases of taking some people for granted it is as easy as a phone call... not a e-mail or a facebook poke or a tweet, get away from your digital shield and actually talk to someone.
 See and own your place in a disagreement, let it go it is poison in your well. If someone you care about harmed you, well maybe they have changed, maybe they need to re-build as well.

 This is cheap therapy folks and it will only free your soul. If the bridge cannot be mended, ok at least you inspected it first. But you may rebuild a old relationship or save a current one. Time to inspect our lives because with a poor foundation nothing will stand not even ourselves..........

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"A Reflection on Missed Mother's Days"

Today is Mother's Day we all celebrate the amazing women who have raised us or are raising our children or anyone children. This day is not limited to Birth Moms or Mom's of adopted children but also step mothers, or women who are playing a vital role in the lives of our children.

 Some of you may know I was married, my amazing partner in crime J.J. who was my best friend, lover, talented photojournalist and friend to all died at age 35 of Ovarian Cancer. J.J. was kind, funny and had more love to give than any other person I had ever met. You need proof she loved me after all.

 We had always wanted children but Jennifer was unable to have kids of her own which was not a issue as I am adopted and we both liked the idea of continuing and creating a tradition. But we were never able to see that blessing come true.

  Before J.J. became sick we were in the final stages of adoption and were looking forward to soon picking up the newest member of our family. We looked at all the options, adopting a baby from the U.S. adopting a older child from the US. We looked at Asia and Eastern Europe. We finally decided on a Russian child, not a infant but between 1 & 7 years old.

 We had spent alot of time in Russia for work so we flew to Russia and visited and filled out the stacks of papers. In 8 months we were approved, we celebrated we built a room in our NYC loft and prepared our families and friends.

 Three weeks later Jennifer was diagnosed, we were devastated and we had to cancel our adoption, as we did not want our new child to loose her or his mother in the first year of their life with us. Jennifer would have been an amazing Mum, her ability to love, her gentle humanity, her never ending loyalty and humor would have been an amazing place for a child to grow.

  This Mother's Day is also for her, a women who was a mother before she had the chance, a women who saw all children as hers in her eyes and was passionate about children's issues.

 If you have not yet called your Mum do so. If you have issues with your Mum send her a letter. If you know a Mum tell her you appreciate her.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"The Stigma of Crazy or No I Do Not Bark at Squirrels"

Nuts, Crazy, Insane, Shitzo, Bonkers, Not Quite Right, these are a few of the terms people use to describe people living with mental illness and by no means the only ones there are hundreds if not thousands. No other illness has so many adjectives, don't believe me just try and find other names for Diabetics. So why this? why my condition? Why is there such a stigma on Mental Illness?

 I have felt the sting of the stigma of mental illness, have felt the nervous disconnect the mistrust people have with someone who is living with Mental Illness. It comes in many flavors kinda like a Baskin Robins of Stigmata. We have all seen the severely schizophrenic homeless who wear tattered clothing and have conversations in with the voices that their brains produce in their heads. Some will laugh at them, a lot of people do, others will cross the street to avoid them. Most never try and talk to them like the humans they are.

 Part of the stigma of Mental Illness is that we are all bad people, who are delusional, manipulating not to be trusted. Why is this, I feel it comes from many places so I will list a few for you;

  1. Lack of Knowledge: Most people just plain do not understand Mental Illness and have a problem connecting chemicals in the brain with behavior / mood. There is little info or attention given to crazy, we do not have ribbons, or runs few to no celebrity faces, so we are a unknown and what we do not know scares us.
  2. Media: The media does a poor job of portraying people living with Mental Illness, we are more times than not seen as Murders, Abusive, Thieves, drunks, addicts and general well crazy folk. Show me one character in the media who is living with Mental Illness in a positive way.
  3. Past Experiences; There are lots of us who had a Bipolar parent, spouse or sibling that may have harmed us physically or mentally. The so-called family black sheep who is looked at with pity and or scorn. These folks have a axe to grind with everyone who lives with a mental illness and generally puts everyone in the same straight jacket.
I am very open in my life about my living with Bipolar, I generally tell anyone whom I am getting to know that I am. This is a double edged sword or should I say maybe triple edged because I get three usual responses. the nope stay away, the ok I will let you in but you are still crazy and that scares me, and finally the who cares I like you anyway it is part of who you are.

 There is even  a "Caste System" of socially ok crazy folk and the really sad thing is this caste system is also followed by other mental health patients and professionals . The people who suffer from anxiety disorders or low level OCD and manageable depression are at the top. They are the safe, the harmless, we all feel for someone who has anxiety or depression. Then we move on to the Major Depression & Major anxiety-OCD they make the world a little more uncomfortable. Next on the stigma plate are the scary ones, Bipolar ooooh it is like a boogyman, to some real fucking crazy and they walk among us almost invisible ready to pounce. Then the bottom of the caste system  are the people living with schizophrenia or anti-social disorder they are seen as less than human by both the general public and alot of professionals.

 How do we change this Stigma? I blog about my crazy as personal way to beat it down. I speak about Mental Illness in public and my openness or self outing of my mental illness is also a way of breaking this stigma. But more needs to be done, we need a run or two maybe a walk. we need a ribbon and celebrities to come out of the Crazy Closet and profess their "Mad Pride". Because we are not less then, we are not deserving of discrimination, or to be treated as criminals because we are ill. Would you put a diabetic in dirty hospital ward because he or he stopped taking their insulin? Would you cross the street to avoid someone with MS? Or maybe you would not be friends with someone who had Hypothyroidism. I know these sound silly but it is no different. No one with Mental Illness did anything to contract or bring on their disease it just happened.

  Please join me in working to lessen the Stigma of Mental Illness because it is the right thing to do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"The Badger Now Has a Expiration Date"

What would you do and how would you feel if you found out that you had a expiration date or in my case I see it as a best served before date?

 This morning I had a meeting with my Oncologist and my cousin who is chief of radiation oncology in NYC via conference call in my Dr's office. I knew somewhat that this day was coming, but in my usual fashion I did not entertain it much, out of sight out of mind right? Denial has kept me pretty warm over recent days. Today my licence to deny was revoked.

 I have Chordoma a rare and incurable bone cancer, we have tried gene therapy to no real effect other than making me bleed from places one should not bleed and also simulating a mix of swine flu & ebola.

 My Doctors sat me down and in a surprisingly jovial way told me that my gene therapy was not working and my tumors and cancer was spreading and that my life is now down to a window of no less than 3 years and no more than 8. Holy Shit!!! Now it is very real what does one do now? There is always a chance, new treatments are always appearing, but I cannot hang onto that as it is only a dream made of gossamer wings. If it happens great if not well you know.

Some things have already changed, I am on full disability from work as I cannot physically do the job anymore. This really hits me hard as for so long my life has been my work, it is my passion and now that passion is gone. I need to find a purpose in what is left of my life now and I have no idea what that is and that scares the shit out of me.

 I know Cancer all too well, it took my Mum and I watched it slowly wither my wife a vibrant beautiful women until she passed. I am good at caring for others but shit at caring for myself. I never really see myself as worthy of being cared for nor am I good at being cared for.

 So do I create a bucket list? Probably not as my life has been very full already and I have bungee jumped alot. Do I go all buck wild, leaving a trail of badger carnage in my wake? Nope, my days of that are over since I have understood my mental illness. So what do I do? I am pretty lost right now, but I do have some starter ideas.

  1. I will only spend time with positive people. I do not have the luxury of time to waste on negitive, hateful , gossipy folks who like to cover everyone around them with a coating of their internal pain and suffering. So asshats begone!! 
  2. I hope to work on being a better person, leaving the people and world around me a better place. I have alot of work in this area as I am basically a asshole, or maybe a recovering asshole.
  3. I hope to be a voice for people with Mental Illness who do not have a voice of their own or have yet to find it.
  4. I will attempt to live my life in full, grab any experiences that float my way and try new things. 
 This is by no way a bucket list, this is a road map to the remainder of my life, that I hope guides me in my new and final journey. I know that I will most likely be single for the remainder of my days as I do understand that getting involved with a dying guy is not a good bet, I am ok with this this. But I will need my friends, now more than ever. I am not good with letting people be nice to me, and frankly it scares me. Even though this is true I have to let people in as I do not want to die alone, which is my biggest fear and I guess most peoples.

 The Badger may have a expiration date, but I am going to try to embrace my life now on to my final lap....................