i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

surreal

There’s a major, major fire happening down the street from us. I first noticed the smoke out of the corner of my eye through the back door around 4:30pm this afternoon. At first I thought it was a dark storm cloud but then it moved super fast and got bigger. So we went out, around the corner and tried to find the source. It was all just SMOKE. Huge, dense clouds of smoke, yet we couldn’t smell anything. Not a thing. We couldn’t get far because the sidewalks still aren’t ploughed from the snowstorm this weekend and we couldn’t walk in the street because of the traffic. The cops and firetrucks were blocking off the street. We stopped where we were and you could see the orange light of the flames reflecting off the clouds of smoke every so often.

We came home and I searched the internet and posted on facebook about it. We weren’t sure what was on fire. I was praying it wasn’t the gas station not too far from us. Turns out it was an apartment complex down the street. The fire was in the roof. The emergency vehicles are still blocking off the road near our corner and it’s 5 hours later. I have seen photos on local news sites and the fire looked bad. The fire was in the roof.

It reminded us of that time our place burned down in 2006. The fire ended up being in the roof then, too. When the firemen broke the roof with their axe the top of our building exploded. This fire has over 60 firefighters going at it. There is still smoke and 45 apartments have to be vacated. Two days before Christmas.

But the extra surreal thing for me right now is that when I looked back at my blog archive for the post I wrote about OUR fire I noticed something.

Our fire happened on the same day as the day the guy jumped off the building and landed in front of me. Nearly on top of me.

The same day.

Seven years apart.

March 27, 2006 and March 27, 2013.

Shawn was home with the dogs the time the building caught fire (it was in the apartment above us). He was safe, so were Annie and Jinx. It could have been worse. Had I not stopped to see if a truck was going to drive into the loading bay, I’d have had jumper guy land on top of me. But as traumatized I am by his fall and splattering, I was also safe from harm. (Mostly.)

I find myself wondering what might have happened to be on March 27, 1999. I can’t recall anything major or life-threatening. Or March 27, 1992? March 27, 1985?

I know I’m probably thinking way too much into this, but it’s just so jarring to realize that two major events that could have ended in loss of life happened on the same date. It’s weird.

And I feel a little light headed now so I think I’ll take an anti-anxiety pill and go to bed because I just don’t want to think about trauma and sadness and fear and tragedy anymore. Those poor people in the apartment complex. It’s never a good time for something like this to happen but in December, in the winter… it’s one of the worst times. I hope some of the hotels/motels around here are kind enough to open their doors to those in need right now. I can’t imagine it’ll happen, but it would be very nice if it did.

 

(And side note: Monkey was the first comment on both of my tragic moment posts. Seeing that made me smile because she is one of the most amazing friends. Thank you, Monkey.)

(Extra side note: I’m sorry my blogging has been all depressing as heck lately. I’m working through stuff and it helps to write it out. Christmas is soon so I’ll have something a little more glittery to write about in a while. Thanks for sticking around though if you have been.)

how to process

Yesterday I found out that an author whom I’d gotten to know over the years has died. Then I found out he took his own life. This is a man who was very passionate about educating people, mostly kids, about mental illness and suicide prevention. He was 32. He has a wife and a two-year old. That he died had me in shock. That he took his own life… just added to that shock.

Today I found out that he took his own life by jumping off the roof of his parents’ building.

I can’t even process this. I can’t.

Losing someone you respected and connected with is one thing. Losing someone through suicide is a completely different thing.

Adding this incident on top of what I am already dealing with is just brain overload.

I am home from work until the end of January because I am still trying to heal from the trauma of having a man jump off a 50-floor building and land in front of me back in March. I already can’t seem to process THAT day. I thought I’d been doing ok, but obviously the break down in November was a clear sign that I wasn’t as ok as I thought. I’m having nightmares and night sweats and anxiety attacks over anything at random times of the day. I am not hungry, I am angry, I am crying over nothing. I am lost.

And I was feeling a little better. And now I have this news to process through my brain that is already confused by why someone would jump off a building and almost land on top of me (it was really that close. Distressing details in this post, if you wanted to read them and haven’t already). I almost lost my life at the end of March. I didn’t. I was lucky.

I felt like I got this author friend. We weren’t close, but I really connected with what he said at an event I was at. I bought his book immediately and went over to speak with him. He signed my book. It was a book about teen suicide and mental illness. He’d been through similar things as I had and I just connected with him. I love his writing. I thought what he had to say when he did public speaking was so heartfelt and honest. He was a gentle soul. One who was still healing and seemed to be on the right track to winning his battles.

But obviously that wasn’t quite the case this week. Something went wrong. I don’t know what was going on in his life or his head that made him make the decisions he made. Something broke inside of him and it’s just a horribly sad thing to find out.

I am having trouble with how familiar the incident is. I can only think of how the people who found him must have felt. How terrifying it is to have someone fall out of the sky in front of you. And if you weren’t there to see him fall, then to find him after he fell. The anger, the shock, the fear, the grief, the sadness and the complete inexplicableness of it all. The unbelieveableness.

I feel like this is all too much for me right now. I don’t know how to feel or react or if I’m ok but I won’t be days, months, years from now. It’s all too similar. Too much.

Maybe I just need to take a bigger break from things. Not just from work but from the internet and my laptop. There’s just too much out there. I don’t want to hide forever but I think I might need to just take a vacation from all the noise social media creates.

I’m so broken up over the loss of this man. I’m tired of hearing about suicide. Child or adult. It just needs to stop.

broken

I’m supposed to write about this. Write it down and get it out of my head. Write it down and change the memory. Make the memory more safe and less jarring, sharp edges that slice me open every time I close my eyes.

I’m supposed to feel safe, and comforted as I re-live an event that I thought I had managed to overcome but is apparently still with me and is trying to claw its way out.

Turns out delayed onset of PTSD is a thing. Who knew? I didn’t. I thought everything I did to help myself get over the shock and horror of the jumper guy back in March was enough. I thought I was ok. I thought I had dealt with it and moved on.

But I’m not ok.

At least, not right now. Right now I am a broken mess. I am pieces of a person I don’t even recognize anymore. Nothing I see has colour or sparkle – even the glitter ornaments I just made this weekend. I am a shadow of myself. I am grey and bland.

I wasn’t just not dealing with November for any old reason though. That’s sort of nice to know. By the end of the month I was so broken I didn’t think I could be repaired. I couldn’t cope with anything – I still can’t, although I think I am very slowly on the mend. I had a breakdown in my boss’s office and I knew, just knew, that I couldn’t come into work the next week. I needed to be away.

Away. Away. Away.

From everything.

Because even though work isn’t really the happy, mirth-filled land that it used to be, I didn’t really hate everyone and everything as much as I did right then. As much as I do right now. I could survive. I could talk to people. I am not really the bitter, rage-filled, weeping mess that I am these days. That is not who I am.

I don’t normally forget so many words or lose chunks of time.

I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know how to react to things like a normal person.

I have lost the ability to care about anything. Everything. I hate everything so, so much. I hate people. I hate life. I hate books. I hate music.

So. Much. Anger.

I can’t be out in public with people around. I can’t. Extreme anxiety, panic, rage. Tears.

But I called employee assistance and I spoke to someone and after hearing my story and hearing my words, this wonderfully comforting woman told me I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t broken. I was suffering from a major trauma and shock to my system that my body is trying to make sense of and heal from. Although I did so many wonderfully proactive and healthy things to try to make sure I could heal from the trauma, I needed to do more. I needed to be quiet and take a break from things while my body dealt with the absolutely unrealistic thing that happened. It needed to heal, like a wound. My brain is still processing the event and although I did good things to help myself heal, it wasn’t enough and really, it hasn’t even been a year since it happened.

November is similar to March in the terms of weather and the coat I am wearing, the coat I was wearing when it happened. Who knows what other triggers there are right now. Ones that subconsciously I remember but might not be aware of. Sure I know that sounds set my body off, but that’s something that I remember. Other factors – temperature, lighting, smells, are more subtle and not ones you really think about all that obviously.

I am not sleeping. I am not eating. I am not coping with anything. Nothing I like to do has flavour or colour. Nothing. I have zero interest in anything. I can’t think. I can’t speak. I can’t cope. I can’t make a decision. Everything – every single thing – overwhelms me.

I can’t even go back and read the post I wrote after it happened. I can’t.

But I need to. I need to write out what happened. I have been asked to do a writing exercise where I spend 5 or 10 minutes writing about exactly what happened. Write about it when I am feeling calm and safe  – even if I have to take half an ativan to get there – and I have to write about it and then rip up the paper and think, “I’m letting this go.”

And you know what? I think this is a brilliant idea that will work well for me. I really do. But I can’t actually get to the point where I am able to write this down. I can’t. The thought of it fills me with shards of ice and glass. The breath leaves my lungs. I can’t breathe.

I thought I was ok. I really did. I did so much stuff to help myself and I thought I had managed this trauma effectively. Turns out I need to do more.

I’m useless at work so I am on leave. I see my family doctor tomorrow to hopefully be able to stay home until the new year. I’m not looking for time off, I just can’t be at work right now. I can’t. I can’t handle anything there. I can’t deal with the people (I hate them all so much right now. But I don’t hate them! But I do.). I can’t deal with the work (I hate it so much right now. But I don’t hate it. I might be unhappy with work, but I don’t hate it. But I do.). It makes me angry and anxious and that added stress is making the PTSD worse. The final straw was something that happened financially to us and I just broke. Broken. Shattered. Crumpled.

There is so much negative in our lives right now, very little happy and it’s getting so, so hard to keep myself from drowning. I thought I was just falling back into depression, but it didn’t feel right. It’s not the same as when I was manic depressive and medicated. It was different. A different flavour. Something was off. I wasn’t ME.

This isn’t who I am right now. I am some strange, disassociated person right now. I don’t know who I am. I am a shell.

That stupid jumper guy has ruined so much for me. He’s broken me, even though I was lucky enough to have had the universe stop me from walking forward so he didn’t land ON me. I’m alive, but I feel just as broken as his splattered body right now. My brain, my soul, and my heart aren’t working the way they should.

I feel like I won’t ever be right. I won’t ever be me again. I have been robbed of something so dear and precious that I don’t think I’ll ever get it back. I refuse to let myself live like this though, I will fight with every single breath in my body to put my pieces back together. I can’t hide from the world. I don’t want to hide from the world. I just need a little vacation from it all to help put myself back together and build up my strength so I can face everything again.

I want to read and enjoy the worlds in my head.

I want to listen to music and feel my soul rejoice with emotion.

I want to be able to speak with people and not want to kick them.

I want to be able to smile again without it feeling like I am trying to lift a 75-tonne weight.

I want to be able to breathe. To eat. To sleep.

To live life.

I want to be ME.

So, I’m working on it. Please be patient with me.

i have never moved on moving day

It’s Canada Day today! I’m sitting on the couch wearing my Canada tank top that I bought in Disney World (of all places) back in 2004. It was from the Canada pavilion in Epcot. It was the nicest Canada shirt I have seen and I live in a city full of tourist shops.

(the actual point of this post is under a brief explanation/expression of frustration over politics in my province.)

Unfortunately in my province, Canada Day isn’t really a holiday that the local politicians and many of my provincial neighbours like to celebrate. The language tensions between the French and English are absolutely ridiculous and these days, downright racist (on both sides.) I am a proud Canadian and I am also very proud to be bilingual. Why the entire country can’t just adopt bilingualism is beyond me.

ANYHOW… In Montreal, July 1st is more than just Canada Day. It’s also a traditional moving day for most people since most apartment leases are up June 30. You can’t rent a moving truck to save your life today. You have to book months in advance, unless you want to pay through the nose to get even a small trailer to haul your fridge, stove, couch and bed off to a new abode.

With language and politics being really hot topics in my province, often stores will tailor their weekly circulars (ads) to make them more local. Many of the big stores hardly announce Canada Day on their sales in Quebec. This year, Best Buy did something that has caused somewhat of an outrage and although I can SEE what they were trying to do, I think making this decision this year, at a time when the Government is getting all Dictatory and infringing on people’s human rights, was  bad timing on their part. Best Buy announced MOVING DAY sales this week in their Montreal flyers. Not CANADA DAY, which is what July 1st is in this country, but MOVING DAY which is its own event in Montreal, but NOT a holiday in any means. I can see how this store is trying to acknowledge something that’s local and a sort of Big Deal in a major city, but they pretty much just ignored the fact that we celebrate Canada Day here, too. It would be like some major city in the US not caring that it was Independence Day and rather, focus on some event that takes place every year on that day. Can you imagine the outrage in the US if someone didn’t acknowledge the 4th of July as it should properly be acknowledged? Yeah.

So this big box store pretty much just shunned Canada Day in my own province and I’m pretty sure it was to avoid complaints from those few but loud Quebecois who refuse to have anything to do with Canada. And this is how they went about it. Not a good move on their part and really bad timing on making this decision. We’re in the middle of Pastagate, Spoongate, Free Education Let’s Riot in the Streets Every Month-gate and so on – and the latest story on how if people speak anything other than French in a grocery store staff room it will become a ghetto!) It is very frustrating to live here right now and not as easy as people think to just pack up and move to the Rest of Canada as everyone just tells us to do.

BUT – what this all made me think of was that in every single instance in my life that I have moved into a new place I have never ONCE done this on the traditional Montreal Moving Day weekend! I moved out of my home in 1997 at the end of December. Left that first apartment in August 1998 after some evicted guy tried to burn it down and Mir & I felt like we’d be a lot safer off somewhere far, far away from that. So before Labour Day we were in another apartment that I lived in for 6 years until I officially moved in with Shawn to our place in Verdun in 2004. THAT place DID burn down in March 2006 so we lived in my in-laws’ basement for a year until we bought and moved into our house in April 2007.

So that’s:

December 1997
August 1998
April 2004
March 2006
April 2007

Not one moving date even came close to July 1st. I am such a rebel in this province. Booyah!

And you know what? I handled all dealings with everything that comes with moving in a very bilingual manner. One thing I love about my province is how it’s allowed me to be able to speak two languages fluently and be proud of that.

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

my first ever ambulance ride

* The story I am about to tell is not for the faint of heart, but I need to tell it to get it out of my head.*

Long story short: On the walk to work this morning a man jumped off a building and landed right in front of me.

Short story long: When my alarm clock went off at 6:45 a.m. this morning, I grumpily got out of bed, annoyed that I had to go into the office so early to set up and minute a meeting. The first part of the meeting was something I worked hard to get together and it was about to fall apart yesterday. I made my boss pull the “I’m the Boss” card and get things back in line, but I still wasn’t happy about having to be in early to get things ready (that I couldn’t finish last night). Shawn left early with me and once we split ways and I left him at his office, I went outside to walk to mine, following the traffic lights (rather than waste time by waiting at them, I just go with the green and get to work in a zig-zag fashion.)

It was supposed to rain all day today, but at 8am it was still sunny, if a little cool. I have been feeling rather down and lost in my head these days, so I had my comfort album (The Other Size of Zero by Elizabeth and the Catapult) on repeat as I walked to work, enjoying the brisk air as I breathed deeply on my walk into the office.

The path I took this morning, passes an entrance to underground parking and a loading dock. I always slow down there and make sure I’m awake enough to notice the cars that DO NOT STOP zoom around the corner and into the entrance. There were no cars this morning though and just one truck waiting for the doors to open for the loading bay. Well, as I was slowing down, I noticed the truck start to move, very, very slowly. He was about to go into reverse and it was like he’d just taken his foot off the brake and was just in the process of moving when… SLAM!!!

I thought the truck had hit a crate of wood, as I looked up from the noise and then got hit in the face and arm with projectiles.

Only then did I notice the body splattered on the ground just feet away from me and what hit me was… I don’t know. His cell phone? A shoe? Other stuff that I don’t even want to think about. I was doubled over in shock as I ripped my headphones out of my phone and fumbled to call 9-1-1.

I sort of staggered over to sit on the ledge of a flower box and was trying to breathe as I spoke to the guy on the other end of the phone. Two women came to see me to see if I was ok, I was trying to stay calm, but not doing so well, though I don’t think I was hysterical, just crying. As soon as I sat down the crying started and the guy asked me where I was, what happened, and then transfered me to urgence sante (the ambulance people) and the woman asked me a bunch of questions. I was doing my best to answer them, but really, things like “How old is he?” and “M’am is he breathing?” “Can you see if he’s still breathing?” were not questions I could answer when I had just said “he’s in pieces all over the floor!” To be honest, the question about the breathing almost made me pause and look at my phone in a comical-tv-sitcom reaction because I had just finished telling her that he had splattered and was everywhere. So I just said “he is in PIECES on the ground, I highly doubt he’s breathing!” I was so incredulous about the question and yet  Rational Cat in the back of my head knew she was obviously asking all the questions she is trained to ask. I couldn’t tell her how old he was, or if he was caucasian or asian.. all I could see was his short, dark hair and a little forehead and by that point I was farther away and I just COULDN’T look anymore. I apologized and said I couldn’t look again, I couldn’t and that the firemen and police were on the scene couldn’t they look.

This man was in a grey suit and white shirt and tie. He was in a suit and tie. He had gotten up, gotten dressed for work and came in and jumped off a building. With his phone. That’s another thing going on in my head “Who the hell jumps off a building with their phone?” and it HIT ME IN THE FACE and other stuff flew at me and I just keep frantically brushing off my coat because i am worried I have brain and goo all over it. The (very cute) fireman (yes, you do notice these things even in shock), the paramedics and my husband (whom I called right after 911 and came to me right away) all said there was nothing on my coat. I just keep feeling like there is. Like that feeling you get when you find a bug or spider on you and you think you’re covered in them.

I am forever grateful to the two women who stood by me as I was on the phone with 911 and the one who gave me kleenex because I didn’t realize I was crying. I appreciate that they stayed with me even until the paramedics took me into the ambulance and they seemed relived to know I called my husband.

I am grateful to the fireman who sat with me and looked me over and helped me calm down and tried to take my pulse (in the cold, with latex gloves on. I assure you I had one, but I don’t think he found it). I am grateful to the police who came and also asked me what I saw. I don’t know what happened other than a man splattered on the ground in front of me, but when the fireman asked me if there was anyone else I could think of who might have witnessed this I should let him know because they could be in the same state I was in, I realized that the truck driver! The truck driver, who had just started to ever, so slowly start his truck in motion – the man landed right in front of the truck. Right in front. **EDIT** I lost my train of thought as I was writing, I am also especially grateful to the paramedics who helped me, got me to laugh, stayed with me in triage as we waited our turn. They were unbelievably kind and helpful and so nice. Their jobs seem to involve a whole lot of WAITING and they are still super patient and friendly and kind. Thankless jobs they have, I am sure, but I am thanking them now. I should have gotten their names. I didn’t. I wonder if there’s a way I can?

They were still looking for the driver when the ambulance took me (and Shawn) away. I really hope they find him because I know I didn’t want to be alone, so I don’t want him to be alone either.

I was treated for shock, given a note to stay home today, given a prescription for some anti-anxiety drugs so I can sleep at night. I’ll be honest, I took one when I got home at noon and took a 4-hour nap. Then I had some tea and replied to the million texts I got and started this blog post. I needed to get this out of my head in some physical way.

Oh, I also called my parents when I got home and let them know, so they wouldn’t find out from the internet. I had my husband call my boss from the ambulance to let him know I wasn’t going to make the meeting. I know I didn’t really want to go to this meeting, but I suppose I could have called in sick or something equally less traumatic.

All the while in the ambulance I was thinking about the time my sister and father were in a car accident when I was a kid – not a serious one, just a fender bender, but because my sister hit her head they wanted to check her out. This was when we were really young, too. I remember being all jealous that my sister got to ride in an ambulance and I didn’t. So, here, 30-something years later, I’m in the back of the ambulance making jokes about how I’m going to call my sister and say, “HA! We’re finally even! You’re not better than I am!”  Only it turns out that my sister didn’t ride in an ambulance that time, rather she was in the back of cop car and thought I was upset she got to ride in a wheelchair and I didn’t. Seems we’ve both been living a lie all this time. Good to know! (I still win the ride in an ambulance round, though!)

I’m still numb, tired, get the shakes, get really cold, feel like I can’t breathe in weird cycles. It’s like my body still doesn’t know what emotion I should be feeling. I keep seeing this man, in his suit, in splattered pieces in my head and I am torn between a deep sadness that he was so broken that he took his own life and a morbid fascination with what happened and at the same time repulsion.

It’s nothing like on tv or in the movies, folks. The noise a body makes when it hits cement isn’t a thud. It sounds like someone dropping a crate of wood, or a skid off a truck. I thought the truck had hit a lamp post, or backed into a crate. It was a sound I will probably startle at for the rest of my life.

I could still see pieced of him on the street from the ambulance window. I don’t think the cops or firemen noticed those little pieces yet and if I’d been facing the other way, I wouldn’t have seen them. But I saw them. I wasn’t grossed out, I was sad, sad for that man.

The 3km walk from the hospital to the bus depot was done holding my husband’s hand and frantically glancing at the tops of all buildings. I think the part I am going to have the hardest with is being terrified there are people on tops of the high rises about to jump in front of me. It was freaking me out by the time we got to the bus. I am now scared of tall buildings.

Please, don’t ever jump off one, my friends. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Hug the ones you love. Tell people you love them. Just please appreciate everything you have in your life.

I am about to go try and eat some dinner now. I haven’t felt queasy or nauseous, just numb. But I know I need food. My head hurts. Shawn made shake and bake chicken with mashed potatoes. I am happy about this. It’s comforting. He’s been my rock all day and for always.

Tomorrow I will go to work and avoid that one street. I was told by the hospital doctor to not avoid it for too long, but I think tomorrow and then the long weekend will be enough. I hope. I don’t want to let fear rule me. But I can’t promise I won’t be watching the tops of buildings for the rest of my life and certainly for the next few weeks. I was told to expect PTSD over the next few weeks, too. That it’s normal for such a trauma.

Oh, and some reference shots from google maps.

 

Going to take some more deep breaths and have dinner and watch Phineas and Ferb. That should make me laugh.

PS – and I’d really like to thank the best friends I have who helped me get through this with texts. Maureen, Monkey and Elise, thank you from the bottom of my heart.