March 30, 2010
It was an interesting day… I feel a bit uncertain about it. Some parts were fabulous, some parts not so great. It may be just the fact that I am becoming more acutely aware of my quickly changing emotions and what brings them on, or perhaps today was just particularly emotionally volatile…. But whichever it was, I felt like someone was playing “tug of war” with my mind. I felt great this morning. I woke up early to help out with a service project at my church. It was so great to do something “outside” of myself, and I felt more comfortable around other people than I have in a long time – probably because I was thinking less about being watched and judged than I was about getting the project done. It was a nice change.
However, it seems like Newton’s Third Law of Motion – every action has an equal and opposition reaction – is actively at work in my life. As soon as I had come down from the “high” of the morning, painful thoughts began to push and shove their way into my mind. How frightfully inconsiderate! Here I was, having an near perfect day so far, and then my mind takes a 360 on me! Even my mom (who was with me at the service project) noticed a change. I had developed a bad case of what I call “Velcro mind” – when thoughts get “stuck” in my brain and drive me to the point of despair and/or neuroticism. I did my best to fight it despite my stomach knotting and anxiety threatening to creep in. I tried listening to some upbeat music, but it didn’t help. Baking is an effective distraction for me, so as soon as I got home, I went straight to the kitchen. Desperate to keep myself from slipping, I vigorously whipped up a batch of snickerdoodles. I don’t think anyone has ever baked cookies with such great drive and purpose I did today! I wound up with about four dozen to, and baked goods are a dangerous thing to keep around the house, so I decided to share the bounty by delivering most of them to friends (which activity also helped me escape from my mind, at least for a while). I owe a lot to those little savory morsels of buttery, cinnamony sweetness…
So everything was again right with the world. My mom, my sister, and I ventured to Coco’s for dinner. I decided to let myself splurge a bit and ordered shrimp pesto pasta with garlic parmesan bread. It tasted so good and before I knew it, I had completely obliterated the thing. Almost immediately after putting the fork down, I was hit by a tidalwive of shame and self-loathing. Even though I had decided that I wasn’t going to purposely “diet” today, I still felt disgusted with myself, and that familiar gut-wrenching anxiety set in full force. Every sound in the restaurant seem amplified, and the lights much too bright. I covered my eyes and tried to breathe but the feeling persisted until I was back in the car. Thoughts of self-harm fought for dominance, and I was tempted to just give up and give in to the negative emotions sweeping over me. Instead, I asked my mom if we could stop at the bookstore. One of my favorite hobbies is creating collages from pictures I find in magazines, so I thought that working on that tonight might help keep my mind off what I was feeling.
Now what I’m dealing with is a guy that just won’t get a clue. I started to talking to him on Facebook (big mistake) and became so fed up that I literally screamed with frustration. No matter how clear I have tried to make it, no matter how many times I have said, “Sorry, I can’t see you” or “Sorry, I can’t talk” or “I really need some space right now,” he has kept pushing and pushing and pushing… Finally, he said something tonight – the straw that broke the camels back… “So, when are you coming to visit me in San Diego?” EXCUSE ME?! How dense ARE you?! Then he started to say how he’s tried to be understanding and be a good friend even though I kept pushing him away, etc. Now, this is a person that I became “friends” with during a time in my life where I was completely fake. I put on a different mask for each person. So the girl he got to know is not the girl I am today. I said right out “I don’t know how much more clear I have to be that I’m not interested. I’m not the person you once knew. I have changed. I have different desires, a different direction, and a different outlook on life. I really don’t believe we have much in common anymore. And I need to stop being pressured. I need to move on. This will be our last conversation.” As I wrote it, my heart was pounding and my anxiety level through the roof. Confrontation and directness is the hardest thing in the world for me. It makes me feel like I’m somehow “bad” or “mean” or “unfair.” But something inside me snapped. I couldn’t take it from this guy anymore. NO means NO! For so many years I have let people walk all over me. Rarely have I ever stood up for myself. But I did. And I know it was the right thing to do… But I still feel so awful. The voices in my head are saying “You were too harsh,” “How could you be so mean to someone who tried to be so nice?,” “You can’t even have a normal friendship,” and “There’s something wrong with you.” I feel like crap. Did I do the right thing? Did I handle it the right way? …
Why does this keep happening to me?
How did I develop so many unhealthy and even poisonous relationships?
Am I right in eliminating them now?
Who do I let in, who do I keep at bay, and who do I shut out forever?
Am I thinking black-and-white again, or is this simple self-preservation?
I can’t handle this right now… That one conversation shot me down into a complete emotional mess… I feel sick…
March 29, 2010
Today I decided to practice the DBT skill of “One-Mindfully” or “Mindfulness,” which has to do with focusing on what we are experiencing in the here and now. It’s a skill I’d like to apply more often, as I tend to multi-task and my thoughts continually bounce from one thing to another. So in everything I did today, I made an effort to focus on what I was seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling….
I noticed the rain clouds drifting in…
I appreciated the energizing brilliance of the candy apple red nail polish I bought…
And looked for my favorite orange wildflowers on the side of the road…
I heard the wind whistling through the trees…
The clinking of silverware in the restaurant…
And listened to my favorite songs on my ipod…
I loved the scent (and taste!) of my new pina colada flavored lip gloss…
Of my Herbal Essences shampoo…
And the promise of rain in the air…
I enjoyed the delightful flavors of my pear and candied pecan salad…
The creamy sweetness of my Skinny Cow ice cream…
And the refreshing fizziness of my Diet Pepsi…
This morning instead of blow-drying my hair, I scrunched it and put it in a ponytail. It felt light and cool on my neck…
I pet my kittens’ incredibly soft fur coat…
And as the storm began to roll in, cuddled up with a warm flannel blanket…
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~Buddha
March 28, 2010
My therapist once gave me a list called “My Bill of Rights.” It was during a time when I was struggling with inappropriate guilt and lack of assertiveness in relationships. She said to keep a copy in my car, in my room, at work… Wherever I would see it often. I had actually forgotten all about it until the other day when I found it in a random pile of scrap paper. I still have a difficult time with some of these things, so it is good to be reminded.
MY BILL OF RIGHTS
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO AND NOT FEEL GUILTY.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPERIENCE AND EXPRESS MY FEELINGS.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE MY MIND.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK FOR WHAT I WANT.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK FOR INFORMATION.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE MISTAKES.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO LESS THAN I AM HUMANLY CAPABLE OF (seriously!)
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO ACT IN WAYS THAT PROMOTE MY DIGNITY AND SELF-RESPECT AS LONG AS OTHERS ARE NOT VIOLATED IN THE PROCESS.
Virginia Satir said the following, which I think goes right along with the concept of our rights as individuals:
I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me. I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.
March 27, 2010
Including but not limited to…
Stupid jokes, sarcastic comments, spontaneous bursting out in song, flamboyantly ridiculous dance moves, annoying mindlessness (such as leaving caps off bottles and putting empty milk cartons back in the refrigerator), and other more… worrisome… tendencies which I have endeavored to put behind me. (My family could undoubtedly add to this list, especially my little sister, who is convinced I am insane and merely tolerates me for the most part). In addition to these endearing quirks, I have the habit of guffawing quite boisterously (and perhaps obnoxiously?) when I find something especially amusing.
My mother in particular was blessed with the privilege of such a joyous outburst following my visit to the “stats” page of my blog’s dashboard. Someone had entered “BPD wife sleeping until noon” in the search engine, and sure enough, was specifically referred to my blog. HA! How fitting, considering I am an expert at avoiding the morning-time, preferring to remain unconscious until the crack of noon! It also made me look back and realize how much I ramble about my sleeping habits haha! Oh well, it made for a hearty belly-laugh and some eye-rolling from my mother. I’m a treasure to be sure. 😉 (As a side note…The search phrase above leads me to believe that this particular person may be attempting to determine an association between BPD and late rising, but just to be clear… This has not, to the best of my knowledge, been identified as a specific characteristic of BPD sufferers… In my case, I just blame the meds for everything…hehe.)
Speaking of sleeping habits… I was up again at sunrise this morning. For heavens’ sake… Why?! I could have used an extra few hours of sleep. I’ve been exhausted the entire day! Has the lifelong night owl suddenly transformed into an early bird against her will? Though, I have to admit, getting up hours earlier than I’m accustomed to has resulted in a significantly more productive day. In fact, I was actually a bit worried at the level of energy and productivity I experienced yesterday. From the time I got out of bed to the time I crawled back under the sheets, I was go-go-go. I read a 250-page book in under 3 hours, wrote my blog post, felt an overwhelming urge to organize our collection of hundred-something DVDs, organized my desk and files, cleaned my room spotlessly (I even swept underneath the bed *gasp*), did 60 minutes of cardio, rocked out Guitar Hero-style, did my laundry, and went grocery shopping. I haven’t done so much in a single day for a very long time. I worried that I was slipping into some kind of hypomanic-like phase (which happened in the fall last year, and was followed by a colossal crash into suicidal depression), but my mom pointed out that I’m probably just so used to being depressed (which for me translates into zero energy and zero motivation to do anything) that it feels abnormal when my my energy is finally at the level of what would be considered “normal” for someone without depression. Plus I haven’t been especially erratic, and it’s not a “nervous” energy, so I think I’m ok. However… I don’t want to get my hopes up just yet that my anti-depressant might actually be eliminating (versus merely lessening) my symptoms… I mean, there’s no “magic cure” right? So…let’s see how the next few days go.
Hmm…I babbled a lot more than I planned to. Oh well. It’s my blog, and I can do what I want lol… I should probably sign off here before I get any more tired and my brain starts melting out my ears and dripping down my neck into pools of cerebral soup on the floor thereby destroying the carpet and terrorizing my clean-freak of a mom to the point of insanity and I start making absolutely no sense at all……
March 26, 2010
It is 8 o’clock in the morning… AND I AM AWAKE.
And I have already been up for TWO HOURS. This is highly unusual for me, especially as I didn’t go to bed until midnight. With the Seroquel, I usually sleep 9-10 hours. But I woke up at 6am, and just didn’t feel like sleeping anymore! Astounding.
Well, I promised myself I would write about yesterday now that I’ve had time to sleep on everything. I guess things always do seem better in the morning, or at least less emotionally overwhelming.
I have a confession to make. As I knelt down to say my prayers before bed last night (yes, I actually got on my knees instead of mumbling a prayer as I’m falling asleep as is my usual custom haha), I said “Dear Father in Heaven, I must admit, I am not very grateful for this day.” Then I just started laughing because I don’t think I’ve ever said that in a prayer before… but I’m pretty sure God has a sense of humor and was laughing along with me (I hope). But really, I wish I could have just skipped the day entirely.
For you see, yesterday was my first session with my new therapist. All day leading up to the appointment, I was a nervous, anxious wreck. I basically threw a mental fit that went something like this:
“What if I just lock myself in my room and refuse to go?”
“No, you can’t do that. You have to go.”
“But I just want to run away instead! Please please please don’t make me go?!”
“Grow up Edde. What happened to your commitment to recovery? This has got to happen no matter how nervous you are!”
“I know, I know. Fine, I’ll go… But I’m not going to like it!!!” (*insert pouty face*)
I think the worst part was sitting in the foyer waiting for the foreboding moment when the door would swing open and I would look upon the face of this stranger to whom I was about to “tell all.” Yikes!! I almost had a panic attack right then and there, but forced myself to breathe and calm down. “Get control of yourself Edde!”
At last, the door opened. He was tall. And intimidating. And very… professional. He shook my hand and said “Nice to meet you. Come on in this way and have a seat on the couch.” So there I sat, hands clasped, bending forward, while he nonchalantly leaned back in a comfortable lounge chair. I half expected him to prop up the footstool and maybe reach behind the chair for a bowl of mixed nuts, but he didn’t. All I knew was that while I was fretting and sweating and wishing I could be anywhere but there, this was all just a matter of course to him, and he was as relaxed as if he had been in his own living room watching tv. In any other circumstances, I would have found the entire scene to be incredibly humorous, but at the time I couldn’t feel anything but dread at the torrent of questions to come.
Sure enough, in his calm, quiet, articulate voice, he asked me about… Everything. For most of the hour we reviewed my entire life history from age three onward. It is stressful in the first place to have to talk about everything you have ever experienced, but when it is a complete stranger you’re talking to, it’s at least ten times worse (add to that the fact that I was intimidated, self-conscious, and wondering with every word I spoke whether he had “sized me up” yet). My heart was pounding, my breath short, my muscles tense, and my chest tingling with anxious energy. I was not comfortable at all.
While I proceeded with my “word vomit,” he furiously jotted notes on a yellow pad of paper, which made me paranoid. What was he writing about me? What conclusions was he coming to? I hadn’t even finished the session and I was already over-analyzing! We went over the various things that I struggle with – in fact, he made a detailed list and read it over with me to make sure we got everything. Then we picked two things to work on first – binging and the urge to self-harm. So that was ok. What concerned me more were his observations about the source of my mental and emotional instability.
First, he said he believed that the abusive relationships I found myself in during college were probably more traumatizing than the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. That was a strange concept for me at first, but he said that as he watched me describe both experiences, it seemed that I became more disoriented and emotionally distraught when describing those traumatizing relationships than I did when discussing my childhood experiences. I recognized that as well, and I believe that is because I had already worked through those things with my previous therapist, so it is not as stressful for me to talk about anymore. Also, it wasn’t until after those relationships that my borderline symptoms really became severe, even though I have manifested a number of them since I was young. His conclusion was that on top of the depression, anxiety, and BPD, I am also suffering from PTSD. Super. Collecting diagnoses now, am I?
Another thing he pointed out was the contribution of what he perceived as my “isolation” during my later childhood and teenage years. I was homeschooled from second grade until college, and he believes that because of that I wasn’t able to develop good coping and social skills. I’m not sure if I completely buy that, but I do see how my feeling “different” contributed to my issues with self-esteem and relationships. I was always “the smart one,” “the talented one,” “the good girl,” – I was made to feel somehow different from everyone else, which was tough when all I really wanted was to fit in. Even in college, I never quite fit in socially. I have always felt that there was something somehow “wrong” with me, that I was a social/intellectual/emotional “misfit.” I think it was because of this that I began trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be. I became a chameleon of sorts, attempting desperately to blend in with whatever crowd I was with. Their interests became my interests, their values became my values, their attitudes towards me became my attitudes towards myself, etc. I lost all sense of self in conforming to whatever situation I was in or person I was with. At the time… It worked. I finally had friends, I finally felt like I was “fitting in.” But the trade off? I became a hollow shell. I had a hundred different masks that I could switch from moment to moment. While I was bright and lively and fun on the outside, I was dying on the inside.
At the end of the session, he gave me a list of books he wanted me to check out, and also a website where I could download “hypnosis” sessions. I’ve never been involved in any kind of hypnosis… I’m not opposed to it, but I’m curious how it will work. My only hang-up is that it costs about $12 to download one session… And he wants me to start off with at least three. Without a job right now, money is tight… But I guess I have to make sacrifices, right?
On the way home, I just cried and cried. For some reason, I felt hurt and I didn’t even know why. I felt somehow invalidated, for no real reason! Looking back, I think my it was because when I told him I had been diagnosed with BPD (by two different psychiatrists, I might add), he smirked like “Well, I’ll be the judge of that.” That’s fine… But I just have a repulsion to the whole “know-it-all” attitude that some therapists and doctors have. I don’t know. My tears were not only of emotional exhaustion, but also of sadness and anger that my previous therapist just had to move two and a half hours away. I miss her so terribly. She was so reassuring, and always said everything perfectly. And she never made me feel in the least bit uncomfortable, invalidated, or intimidated. I still plan on calling her today, because I don’t know if this new therapist she recommended is the right fit…. Though maybe I just need to suck it up and stop being a cry-baby.
I also found out yesterday that my Cobra insurance will only last as long as the company I previously worked for exists. Turns out, the company will likely be dissolving next month which means… Bye-bye insurance coverage! If that happens, I will have to go back to the counseling services provided by my church, as they charge half of what a typical therapist would. Even then, I will be paying from my savings account, which I’ve already spent more than half of with all the medical bills I’ve collected over the last few months. Sigh…
Well that’s my rant about yesterday. Thankfully I’m not feeling anxious about it anymore, which is progress for me. Typically things like this stress me out for days at a time, but I’m pretty much over it now… Well… Until the next session… 😉
March 25, 2010
I had all the best intentions of writing about my experience with my new therapist today, but I am so emotionally drained that I’m just not going to push it. I will probably be able to think about it clearer after a good night’s sleep anyways. Right now I’m simply going to pop some popcorn and watch a comedy I picked up from Redbox called “Paper Heart” and relax from the intense mental/emotional work I did. Ok now I feel lame… I should be able to bounce right back, right? Instead of crying all of the way home and wishing I had my old therapist back? Ugh… I need to stop beating myself up. And over-thinking. Ok, fine, I’m done… I know, I’ll post a song that my friend shared with me a couple of weeks ago. It always seems to lighten my mood a bit… (Seriously, I bet you can’t listen to this without feeling at least somewhat more cheerful)… Ok really, I’m done writing now!
March 24, 2010
Infinite beyond the horizon where
The half-circle of blood-red sun hangs suspended,
Neither setting nor rising – no,
Whether it is dusk or dawn I cannot tell –
Casting a soft glow reflecting off the
Dusty road, making it glitter like
A million diamonds free for the taking.
Barefoot and broken, bruised and battered,
I stand at the starting line, shifting restlessly
From one foot to the other in nervous anticipation.
Behind me stretches another path,
Long and winding, serpent-like,
Threatening to coil and spring, swallowing me whole.
I take a step forward, hesitant, then one more.
As the dust settles around my feet,
I look over my shoulder at the path left behind.
From the darkness looms a vision,
A memory – resurrected as a nightmarish scene –
I see my heavy, fragile heart slipping from my chest
And shattering onto the cold, hard concrete.
Vultures emerge from the fog, brutal and mocking,
To steal the shattered remnants of what
Was once alive and beating.
Shivering, I turn back to the glittering path before me.
Another unsteady step, then another, and yet one more –
Further and further from that long night in which
I had grown so pale and weak.
The light from the half-submerged sun burns
Against my skin as I close my eyes to the glare.
Exhaustion overtakes me – I stumble and fall.
Discouraged, frightened, and distracted by my pain,
I draw my knees into my chest with my back to the sun.
Through my tears I look beyond the patch of luminescent road
I had traveled and into the dreary wasteland yet again.
A grand performance has been prepared in my short absence –
Familiar characters and scenes from my past
Are being played out before me –
I cannot shut my eyes to the horror,
And I am once more witness to it all.
In the middle of that stage in the distance stands a girl –
She looks like me, yet, is not me.
Laughing, beckoning, “Return, return –
You know us here. Put on a mask,
Any one you choose, and play with us again.
We will rape your heart and shanghai
Your identity – But is this not the game?
Who can guess to what strange land that
Glistening path will take you –
You do not even know if the sun is coming or going –
Why take such a risk? Come back to us –
Here you can be someone else –
Or no one at all –
Find refuge inside your fears, your insecurities.
At least here in the darkness, you cannot be seen.
At least in this place of pain, you can hide from the
Light that reveals all imperfection –
Come. Come back to what you know.”
Grinning, she turns her back to me, and
Blends into the ensemble of masked mimes,
Despondent clowns, and demons spewing forth
Clawed derisions threatening to tear at the
Fragile fabric of my mind.
Ripping my gaze from the hypnotic chaos before me,
I rise to my feet and consider the scene.
I close my eyes, and breathe in slowly,
And feel the sun’s warmth upon my back.
I turn around, and put one foot forward…
I felt that familiar emptiness inside today. It frightened me. It is that empty ache that leads me to self-destruct or run away from everything…
I do not think I should be left alone.
I walked outside and looked up at the stars, and felt lost…