Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Human Face

"Thank God for granting me this moment of clarity/
This moment of honesty/
The world will feel my truth

I actually intended the last post on the Nexus to be my last post on the Nexus.

But then it occurred to me that there was more to say. And considering what I've shared up to this point, I don't see much point in stopping now.

What I showed the world yesterday was something that you rarely see in political blogging, what you rarely see in politics period: a human face.

I'm not suggesting that politics is the realm of deeply cynical, inhuman people -- although I'm sure that helps. What I mean by it is that those of us follow the path of politics, by whatever means they choose to follow it, face certain stark realities. Certain facts of life.

Perhaps the top amongst them is that there are many of us who convince ourselves that we cannot afford to show any ounce of common human frailty. To do so is to provide an opportunistic opponent with the chance to attack them with it. And so it is with us.

I'm as frail and human as the next person. The particular frailty I've suffered from for at least the past five years... but likely for even longer than that. Is one that strikes 1 in 5 Canadians. How common is that?

It should make it remarkably easy to admit to in the public eye. But I can speak to this out of experience: it isn't.

In our vocation, it can take lives. It's already taken lives. It took the life of Dave Batters. His wonderful wife, Denise, is taking up a fight that has become bigger than all of us now, although it really encompasses us all.

Sure, a blessed 80% of Canadians can hope to live their lives without ever experiencing depression. But considering the statistics, we can all know this: none of us will live without being untouched by it.

It might be your friends. It might be your family. But someone you know will experience depression.

Is that scary to you? It's scary to me.

But what's even more scary to me is how easy it is to hide -- especially from yourself. Kenny Powers said it, on the very night I decided to come clean about my depression, on an episode of East Bound and Down. Paraphrased thusly: "you pretend that everything's OK, but deep down, you really know how fucked up you are."

Say what you will about the fictional Mr Powers. I can tell you for a fact this is true.

So do we need a national suicide prevention plan? Absolutely. But what we need every bit as much is to do away with this social taboo on showing our human faces. To show people that we are, indeed human. That we have our frailties. That we have our -- * gasp!* weaknesses.

Even as I write this there are small fish, who fancy themselves sharks, circling. They think they smell blood. They think they have a meal on their hands.

These people don't need to be named. Some of them are so bereft of shame that they've found the nerve to bare their teeth on a post about depression and suicide.

But I promise you this: whatever they may think, they won't be eating. I still have plenty of two things in me: life, and fight. I may be only human, but the least I can do is live like being human is worth the trouble.

Last, but not least, to my detractors: this isn't over. Expect me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

My Own Inconvenient Truth

Part of this is going to read like a suicide note, and there's good reason for that.

There's no sense trying to tip-toe around the fact any longer, so I'm just going to put it out in the open:

Continually, throughout the last five years, I've been suicidal. As much I wish this wasn't true, it is. It's extremely saddening to look back on five years of life lost, spending days at a time in a non-functional state. I don't know how many people who are reading this knows what it's like to make the decision whether they're going to live or die, but I've made that decision. Hundreds of times over.

How deeply and seriously did I contemplate the idea of ending my own life? In 2008 I planned how I would do it if I ever did. Having a large extended family, including -- at the time -- three nephews, I decided the best way to do it would be to just disappear. Entirely. I would destroy my wallet and any identification in it, then cut my wrists and jump off the middle of the High Level Bridge. The basic idea was to do it in winter, and hope that if my body were ever found, it would be unidentifiable.

Looking back, I realize this wasn't a spontaneous decision. An individual I frequently shared page space with at the U of A Gateway took his life the precise same way. Truthfully, I've always been mystified with it: he had the best years of his life ahead of him and, despite some mistakes he had made, his future looked like it was a very bright one. At least from where everyone else was standing. He thought differently.

For years, it has continued to mystify me: someone who seemed to have it all, who seemed to have every reason to live, who decided that he didn't want to. It's the same old story you hear all the time: it's always the ones you least expect.

The tragedy of it is actually thousandsfold. Seeing someone so gifted commit suicide makes it seem easier to make that choice yourself, particularly if you don't think of yourself as sharing those particular gifts. Maybe it seems to make suicide seem less ignoble. This, of course, is not a rational response. Suicide really never is.

Don't mistake the decision to disappear entirely if I ever did commit suicide for anything that it isn't. When you have young children in your family that weighs on your mind when making these kinds of decisions. It definitely weighed on mine. I felt it would be easier for my sister and my parents to explain to them that their Uncle Patrick had simply disappeared. Imagine explaining the suicide of a family member to your kids, grandkids, neices, nephews, what have you.

It was a naive thought. Let's face it. It wouldn't have been that hard to see through. Not to mention there was a certain element of cruelty in it that wiped out any enthusiasm for it as an alternative to a suicide replete with a note.

But the decision not to kill myself never solved the underlying problem. Or problems. It wasn't until fairly recently that "I'm not going to kill myself" literally came to mean "I want to live." That probably sounds strange, but it's how it is.

I should have started getting help five years ago when this really got bad. But admitting these kinds of things to yourself, let alone to another person, is a very daunting prospect. Intimidating, even. Sometimes the natural response to it is to just keep on acting like nothing's wrong. There's a reason why these things go undetected by others for so long. I think that's why.

Likewise, there are some things that just don't seem as large on the radar screen as they should when you're suffering from that severe a depression. Maybe the events of the last two years shouldn't have even qualified for that. But looking back on it, I've found myself incapacitated every time the opportunity came to act and take ahold of this whole, sad thing.

In a lot of ways, it's my own fault. Not getting help when it really mattered was my own fault. That's part of what being an adult is.

But being an adult is never saying you're wrong when you're right. And there is one thing that I will never accept: everything I said about Robert Peter John Day that was meant to be believed by anyone was true. The only way Canadian Cynic could realistically think otherwise is if he's started to believe his own hype. There's no default judgment in the world that can convince me otherwise. The plaintiff has had numerous opportunities to try to convince me, and he's failed. Remember this is a default judgment. And there is evidence the Ontario court did not hear. Juicy evidence. Comments from the plaintiff actually admitting to planning the crime alleged, exactly as I alleged it.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people to whom the truth of this affair simply doesn't matter: vicious little Pavlovian zombies who salivate at the prospect of an easy meal, never realizing that they aren't even the ones eating. But they so love to see the people they hate suffer -- whether it's justly or unjustly doesn't seem to matter a whit to them -- that they salivate nonetheless.

It's nothing new. Lesser people just love to see other people suffer. I'm long past them.

In all of this, there is one thing that I am absolutely not prepared to tolerate: the idea that any person or persons can maliciously target anyone's children, and then actually profit from it simply because the whistle-blower doesn't have the resources to defend himself out-of-province.

That isn't the kind of country I want to live in, and I don't think any other proper-thinking individual does either. It's too goddamned intuitive.

The malice underlying the suit is also impossible to ignore. Consider this little tidbit, threatening emails by Cynic to a fellow blogger simply for having written about the reported details of the judgement. It seems strange that someone who has allegedly been damaged by allegedly-defamatory blogposts would not want them promptly removed.

Unless the intention is to try to inflict as much financial harm and emotional suffering as possible on an individual who has yet to actually receive the judgement pertaining to him. Then it makes a little more sense in oh so many ways.

This was a judgement which, by the way, I still have yet to ever actually see. Despite the fact that I have asked for it to be shared with me. And at the point this blogpost was written, I had yet to hear so much as a murmur from the plaintiff's counsel regarding this matter. Nor did I hear so much as a murmur from the plaintiff's counsel for months after.

Not bothering to contact the defendant seems like a strange way to serve a default judgment, doesn't it? And it's not hard to read the detail that the first time I received so much as an email from the plaintiff's Alberta counsel followed the publishing of documents indicating my intention to challenge to overturn the ruling.

I still have hope that this can be done. Where there's a will, there's a way. There has to be.

There's a lot that has to be done. The first thing that has to be done is something, like I said, that should have been done five years ago. I have to do what anyone suffering from a mental illness needs to do: get help. Which I will do at the most immediate opportunity. After that, I'm going to have to explore legal options. Sooner rather than later.

I honestly don't know how much help I can hope to receive. I'm sure a lot of people have run out of patience with me, and it's hard to blame them. To those people who I've let down, I am deeply sorry. My stubbornness and inability to face these challenges -- whether induced by depression or not -- has made for a very difficult situation for a lot of people.

Anyone still willing to help should drop me a line at I'd appreciate any thoughts anyone has to offer

But I have to start with saving my own life and take it from there. I literally do not know what lies ahead, but I do know I have to start with getting healthy.

Even if you can't help me, I at least hope you'll wish me the best.