The Mental Boardroom

In the last month I hit lows with my depression that I haven’t felt in a long time. This last month I felt like I was being thrown against a brick wall. Everything in my body was exhausted. My mind was going into overdrive. I cannot place what my trigger was but I can say this time I really went to the darkest place that exist. This dark place is hard to break out of because of the mental and physical hold that it takes. Its like having a parasite latch onto your brain by doing so it drives the host crazy until nothing is left.

My depression is not my friend if anything I wish it would completely disappear into a different dimension. I have several things wrong with me in the mental department. Most of my issues are a direct result of my depression or as my therapist put it subs categories. Resulting from depression is my high-functioning anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and insomnia. It may seem like a cooking pot of mental illness but under the surface depression is the CEO of Ali’s Mental department. I may be the CEO of my body but depression is the main guy in the boardroom stating it’s the boss and I hold no stakes in this company. The rest of the mental illnesses sit around the boardroom taking notes on what their duties are to complicate the relationship on healthy mind: healthy body.

I’m really grateful I have friends who remind me to stay alive. Without my friends caring and having family to tell me too not leave the boardroom meeting held by depression probably would have stayed dark. My mind would have stayed in fight club mode. Every emotion who works with rational thought fighting with the subs is not pleasant. I’m pretty sure happiness is hiding out in the broom closet again and needs to be let out sometime soon. I think anxiety locked happiness there and hid chemical balance in an unknown location. Either that or depression gave the eviction notice long ago and the good things simply walked away singing show tunes. On that note healthy sleep habits gave the middle finger and checked out last Tuesday with no polite resignation notice.

My depression thrives on chaos. When everything is going down the crap shoot of chaotic bad; depression sits there in the back of my mind smiling, it loves when I lose control. I will tell myself in the mental boardroom that I will fix this, I will be the person to kick depressions ass. The speech that I tell myself is full of gusto and yet full of false hopes. Depression and I go way back to when I was eight years old so it does know that I’m full of verbal poo. Despite the best efforts’ depression is not vacating the building anytime soon and continues to sit on throne of control.

Today I took a long lunch break as if to say eff you depression. I even got out of bed that I share with depressions minion insomnia and PTSD and thought to myself today I am going to just stay alive today. I didn’t leave my mental cubicle and wanted no part of my depressions debauchery. Though depression decided it was best to send anxiety with a tar like coffee to share, today was pleasant because for one second it remained silent. In my worst moments with depression I have to fight for my bodily rights. One good day such as today can make the difference in how the mental board meeting will go even for a short while.

Written by Ali Johnson

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Inside My Anxiety

She looks at herself in the mirror only to see her anxiety staring back at her. For the last three days she has raged war inside her mind again. It started slow she noticed how irritable she felt. Quite rages over small things and the quietest sounds. The silence she holds is deafening and no one else can hear it. The long forgotten videos of past trauma start to play in the dreams. To avoid re watching she will not sleep for weeks on end. She feels the familiar itch to pick her skin raw because that is what she can control. Time for her is passing in hours but it feels like forever.

She stands staring at herself she will analyze every flaw she believes she has. Her face is to large, her skin looks unfamiliar, she is to fat and needs to stop eating, and why would anyone call her beautiful? She feels like her skin is crawling with bumps and lumps that are only in her mind. She will pick each imaginary bump until her arms are covered in scabs. Today she avoided eating because she feels sick to her stomach. Binging and starving is what she knows to do. Its familiar when everything else in her life is crashing around her. She will hear the voice of long ago telling her she is stupid and ugly. She is diseased and needs to be cured. Her mind right now is being bombed with thoughts of wanting to be free.

Everyone on the outside thinks she is strong but as she stares at herself she knows otherwise. She feels weak and worn. Her insides are shredded paper. She cannot understand how her kids called her the best mom today as she fed them Kraft dinner for the second time this week. They binged TV today because she could not talk herself into doing what is needed around the house. She hated that she just wanted to look at her phone and forget that she is here for one more day. This is not her the mom that lets her kids rot their brains and eat processed food galore.

This is not her and she knows it. She knows that it will pass again, and she will feel happy for a short period. It could be weeks or months before she will feel normal again. It makes her so angry on the inside to be this person and battle the mental demons eating her away. Praying that this time will be the last, she knows this is not it. Her body aches with feelings of being squeezed until her insides fall out. The tears she is holding so her children will not see them sting in the back of her eyes. Rejection of happy thoughts are her battle. Anger fills her with desperation to not feel panicked because she cannot place her finger on what brought this on. It feels as though water is above her head, she cannot breathe.

Inside of her sits the person that vacated today. That other side of her the one that makes jokes and feels good is vacationing hopefully to return soon. The spirit that lives right now is temporary. The damage control once she decides to go back to the dark space of the mind is disheartening. I hope that she knows one day we will be OK, and we as two spirits will work together to stay alive for one more day.

Written by: Ali Johnson

Advice To Me

I recently bought a journal called 300 writing prompts. When I purchased it I thought it would be a good way to ask hard questions I’ve avoided, each question in this self writing journal brings me closer in my journey of self healing. I want to heal drug and alcohol free. One way to do this is by writing and telling my story for others to hear. I put this journal away for half a year when I started to feel emotional answering questions regarding advice to myself. A few days ago my partner found the journal in the deep depths of our disorganized garage. I pondered the idea if I should start writing in it again.

I opened this tiny blue journal I felt a wave of relief to see it blank in spots that asked hard hitting questions. I have decided to write here on the Garden of Love questions that are asked. The question I landed on today was ” If you go back in time exactly 10 years and give yourself some advice, what would you tell yourself?”

Ten years ago I was an emancipated minor dealing with my abusive mother trying to figure out my life. I was drinking to deal with my pain and forget that I existed. Without a care in the world I was on self-destruct mode. Ten years ago I was an awful human being who fell for victimization of myself. I was a user. Anger does wild things to a person, it makes them toxic and highly volatile.

The person I was ten years ago probably would have said I don’t need your advice. She was stubborn and felt that she could figure out the world on her own. Looking back at the person I was, I feel that the only advice she would receive is keep going. Everything she would do in the next three years of her life would give her a purpose. I know she will have to fight hard and feel like a failure but if she keeps going her life gets better.

Ten years ago I was at my all time low. Looking back at who I was and who I would become is endearing. I have come really far in life and just now hitting a point of knowing what my purpose is. I have three amazing boys and have moments of pure happiness. Ten years ago I thought this is the end of things. I truly believed that if I would not live for another ten years. My feelings and emotions got the best of me on all accounts. I’m glad ten years ago I made it through the darkest time period.

I hope through in the next ten years from now I can give this sound advice; keep living truthfully, live like tomorrow is your last day. I also hope to see future me love herself even when she cannot find the reason to. Lastly I hope ten years from now I can look back and see the good I have done and know that I lived with purpose and good intentions. I owe it to the ones I love and myself to grow up learning and becoming the person I set out to be.

Written by Ali Johnson

2009
2018

Be Confident

I almost made a massive mistake regarding my eldest son. Today I was seconds away from ruining his confidence based on his choices. My partner was the one to step in and make me realize there are things that I do as a mother that goes against teaching my son to be a confident human who can love himself.

I try to tell my children to love who they are despite what other people say. This is a core image I want them to hold for their entire lives. I try to teach my children to love their bodies and minds and encourage understanding that their bodies are temples. If they love their temples and treat it well good things will happen to them. I want them to love themselves wholesomely, so they can grow with the world and enter as brightly as they came into it.

My eldest son struggles some days with loving who he is because other people bully him for his personality and his disabilities. This year has been one big disaster of other boys trying to tear him down for whom he is. This year he not only had boys his age bully him but adults as well. School had become a mental prison to him. I have watched him come home in such a state that I tore into his teachers and started fighting back against his fellow peers. No child should through life being told he is a disappointment nor should have the words kill yourself said. No human should have this abuse placed on them.

His disabilities do no define my son if anything I applaud his strength in living with them. He refuses to let his disabilities hold him back. He is this amazing little man with a bold sense of the world. Despite struggling with autism and juvenile osteopathic arthritis, he courageously faces each day with a can do attitude. His issues do not lie with himself but from others. Others see his disabilities as inconveniencing and annoying. Instead of treating him with open mindedness and encouragement they meet him with discouraging opinions. My eyes have been opened this year to how vile and disgusting people can be to others and chose to target those different. My son is being activity bullied due to his differences by his teacher and peers alike. It is my job as his mother to fight for him and show him love for himself to combat those discouraging lack of values in others.

I lost sight of that image today, and I am so grateful my partner reminded me of why we teach him to be confident. As he picked out an outfit that had pink stripes, green shorts, and a fedora with gold flecks, he came to me beaming with pride of his new-found outfit. I looked at it and almost told him to put it back because I didn’t want others bullying him based on looks. My partner stopped me mid sentence and said doesn’t this make him look great. I stopped and re looked at my child, he had the biggest grin on his face. Pride filled his eyes, he was unique. Instead of making him put the outfit back and chose one to fit the norms of society I let him keep it. It doesn’t matter if anyone else dislikes it; as long as he is happy in his body, no one else can take away the pride that he feels.

I often forget the message that I try to convey to my sons. Love yourself and be prideful in your choices. It is not our place in the world to dash the hopes and dreams of tiny humans, instead it is our place to lead by example and show them the pathway to true self happiness.

My son on Canada Day 2018.

Written by Ali Johnson

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Focusing On Men’s Mental Health

I remember a time when I was arguing with my husband; in a moment of causing verbal pain, I yelled at him saying you don’t have to balance anything. The words lingered in the air like bait waiting for the fish to bite. Instead of firing back at me he just simply said I balance just like you, I’m just not as verbal about it. Taken back by that I had a deeper look into what men go through on a daily basis. We as society forget that men have to have balance in their lives just as women do.

We had a moment in our relationship where my partner was feeling depressed. He wouldn’t admit to it but it became noticeable. He was not eating nor sleeping well. One of the more noticeable signs was his anger at little things. He felt that he was burdened with copious amounts of responsibility with no hope to move forward. In his mind he was struggling to be the man that he was told to be. This is a common notion among men in our generation. Having the title ” be the man” creates a monster in helping men understand getting help is not a weakness.

Part of the problem of older generations is the toxic masculinity placed on young boys to suck up their feelings and just deal with it. So when depression and mental illness do arise people like my partner push down their struggles and refuse help. This is problematic for young men who will continue the cycle of trying to be manly with no support system to cope when these hidden illnesses come about. It creates a lack of understanding on what needs to be done to create better supports for fathers, children, and young men.

We as society have to see a different ideal and better understanding of what men go through. Breaking the mould of toxic masculinity is a big step that starts with talking to younger generations about acceptance of feelings. The next big leap for helping men in mental health is breaking the stigma that men do not need mental support because they do not suffer like women do. The third big step in changing this is stop portraying men as bad parents and treating them as unintelligent. We as society need to support younger generations of males and give help to guide them instead of breaking them down. By giving support there would be changes in parenting, changes in suicide rates, changes in quality of life among males. Stronger futures can be made given the chance to pave the way for our sons, brothers, fathers, and boys only if we can end toxic masculinity within our mindsets.

Written by: Ali Johnson

Anxiety taking over.

My anxiety this week is out of control and I have no idea why it came on. I started this week on a good note nothing out of the ordinary. I kept to my routines and thought I was on track with everything. Oddly enough I finally had sleep after four days of sleep regression from my toddler. Eating healthy again normally boosts my system in keeping my anxiety down about eating food.

Try as I might I don’t know what my trigger was this time. Knowing when it’s getting bad again because I get the increasing feeling of uneasiness. The irritated feeling creeps up ever so slowly I feel like a volcano about to burst. Self doubt start to plague my every move to the point I don’t want to talk on my phone or answer calls. Plans get put off until I can handle this feeling of drowning on the surface and catch my breath.

Sometimes I can talk myself out of the anxiety spell that falls into my lap. Other times it’s like a bad cold I cannot shake. I know that there is no magical pill to take this all away. Often I wish I could be magic wave some wand casting the spell of clearing my anxiety. I hate how my body feels right now.

I feel so tired not sleepy but emotionally and physically tired. No I did not do anything strenuous but anxiety and depression is like having a concrete being poured all over me. I have no drive to get anything done because it doesn’t feel like it matters right now. Right now I know that my anxiety is affecting everything.

I can do all the tricks to help ease this attack but most of all it will come right back. I know when an awful spell is about to come on and I brace for impact. This anxiety attack was sneaky, a little mind ninja with a sword slicing through my thoughts with rapid succession. I’ll be OK I’m always OK, right now I’m a mess. Not quite at locking myself in the bathroom and fearing the outside world, but I am not myself right now.

I am tired of feeling like I’m drowning on dry land.

Written by Ali Johnson

It's OK to not be OK. But It's Not OK to stay that way.
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