Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday May 14, 2012

Two Steps Backwards in Hopes of One Giant Leap Forward

Dear Terry,

Well, I am back home here in Calgary and staying with my parents. More than a little frustrating to be a man over 30 stuck living with my parents again. But it’s what I have to do to get better. I am once again reminding myself to stay focused on the long-term goal of recovery and wellness. It’s another stage in recovering.

I have been back home for a little over a week and in the last few days I have started to come out of my stupor. I exaggerate, I suppose but that’s what it felt like. The whole world seemed to have gone dead. It’s terrible.

My parents have not been overly cautious either when it comes to talking about me and my ‘condition’ and I have more than once nearly walked in on conversations about me. The snippets I have accidentally overheard have been vivid reminders of the chasm between those who live with mental illness and those who do not. They simply cannot comprehend what I am going through. All the good intentions on the world cannot change that basic fact.

I finally saw a few friends yesterday and it was good.  Groups of people, even people I know well, is still off-putting.  I found I had to excuse myself fairly early in the evening.  A part of me wanted to stay longer but I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  Everyone is so kind and sympathetic and it’s just too much to take sometimes.

Isn’t that awful of me?  That I can’t tolerate everyone being supportive?  That’s probably my frustrations bleeding through.  I have been doing this for a long time and I’m tired of it.  It’s a different kind of tired, it’s an anxious tired, like there’s something inside of me that’s trying to burst out but it can’t.  It’s still too firmly held back.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.  I can’t stand that.  I have known, within just these last few months, what it can really mean to be genuinely happy.  I hadn’t had that for almost my entire adult life.

Whatever else I am going through, never feel sorry for me.  I know what it is to be happy and that is an amazing gift.

Now if only I can find away to feel that consistently.

I’m on the waiting lists here for a Doctor and I should be seeing one soon.  The wheels of the bureaucracy must be appeased of course as I move from BC’s healthcare system to Alberta’s.  I don’t feel a huge amount of optimism that I will get the same level of care as effortlessly as I did in BC.  I had thinks working well with my Doctors there.  But there is only so much medical professionals and medicines can do for a person.

I feel plagued with doubts.  Is there something I should be doing?  Something that I am missing that would be the solution to these problems?

I need to remind myself not too fall back into old habits of thinking.  Depression is not caused by anything I have done or anything I am doing.  It’s a physical condition of the brain and it can’t be fixed by thinking happy thoughts.  If I could wish my way out of this, I would without hesitation.

Good thing there’s no devil, I’d be ripe to sign a contract for my soul without reading the fine print.

Underneath all of this agitation is the big fear that all of this is a giant step backwards for me.  Calgary isn’t a bad place.  Almost all of my family is here, at least almost all of the family that matters.  A huge number of my friends are here.  It’s fair to say that half of my life is here.

So why not just stay?  Take the path of least resistance and have the support network?

What to do I do here for the rest of my life?  Not that I have huge career prospects anywhere, but here, I feel like I have none.  Nor do I have any prospects for a satisfying life volunteering politically.  That matters to me so much but I spent years banging my head against that wall before here.  I don’t mind losing, but I’d like to at least have a chance to win and that doesn’t exist here.  And probably won’t for a long time.

I can’t stand the climate here, the dryness irritates my skin constantly.  And the migraines.  I used to get about one once a month, sometimes more when I was stressed when I still lived here.  In my three and a half years living in Vancouver I have had exactly 2.

It’s easier to travel from Vancouver.  A lot easier.  The US border is 45 minutes away, Seattle only a couple of hours.  Vancouver Island is close by and it’s beautiful and relaxing.  You can do everything you could do almost anything you could want to do for outdoor activities within an hour of the city.

I have friends there now too.  It’s easier for me to live in Vancouver and visit Calgary than it is the other way around.

And there is still my insane sense that I ‘should’ be in Vancouver.  That there is some reason for me to be there.

At the end of the day, for whatever reason, I feel like my life in Vancouver has some kind of meaning.  I’m still figuring out what that is but I can tell you this much: a life with meaning is better than a life without.  Even if that means that I will only see many of the people that I love on an occasional basis.

I wish there was a way I could have both.  But if wishes were horses….

All I hope right now is that these two steps backwards are what I need to make a giant leap forward into a life that goes beyond depression.

I miss you so much more now that I am so much closer physically to where you are. I hope you are well.

Love Always,




  1. I moved away from Calgary in January. I feel you on how the climate can really poke and prod at you. If you need a mental health professional my former psychologist is fantastic.

    • Ironically, I got a vivid reminder of the climate’s negative effects for me yesterday with a brutal migraine, my first in ages. It’s over now, but it really reminds me of some of the reasons why moving away made sense.

      • Well that and Calgary being a horrible city.

  2. Life has meaning even if we aren’t aware of it. Doesn’t matter, IMHO. (ie., not knowing or believing doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.) take care.

    • You may well be right. But I seem to feel that the things I do out in Vancouver do give my life more meaning then the options I have here.

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