July 2, 2010
A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. ~Carly Simon
I remember one morning, about two and half months ago, that I stood in front of my closet staring at the long row of twenty-something sweatshirts. Even though the the weather was starting to get warmer, calling for shorter sleeves, until that day I had refused to show my arms because of my many scars. I was ashamed of them, not wanting to be stared at or judged. I was deathly afraid of being asked questions and hated feeling self-conscious. Hardly anyone in my life knew I was a cutter, and the scars were too deep to use the “cat-scratch” excuse. So I used the easy way out and just pretended I was cold-blooded.
However, something changed that morning. For the first time, I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I had finally gotten to the point in my recovery where I was open enough to accept myself with my flaws and let people think what they may. Perhaps it might even give someone else the courage to not be ashamed of their battle wounds either. I made the decision that morning to love my scars. I closed my closet, walked over to my chest of drawers, and pulled out a t-shirt. That day, I walked around with bare arms, my struggle with depression and BPD exposed to the world. Sure, I got a couple of glances, I was a bit uncomfortable, but in the end… I was ok. No one asked any questions. I didn’t break down. I didn’t panic. The world didn’t end. I was fine. And everyone else was fine. I was just me.
Perfectly imperfect me.
Now, my scars have faded quite a bit, but they’re still there. I’m getting married tomorrow. They’re not that noticeable anymore, but I will still have to use some cover-up for pictures. But I’m fine with that. To me, they are just indicators of where I have been and the things I have overcome. They are my battle wounds…markers that I have fought… And that I have won. That I am a warrior. The most important scars are the ones you don’t see… The emotional scars. And I am happy and relieved to say that those have been healed. Through therapy, time, commitment, and love… Those have been healed. And that’s all that truly matters. It IS possible. I can testify of that.
Healing is possible.
Hope is real.
Love is attainable.
Believe in yourself…
Keep fighting your battles.
And be proud of your scars.
They mean you’re strong enough to survive it all.
February 25, 2010
Well, I took a small step backward last night. I won’t go into what triggered the self-destructive behaviors… But, basically, I was in so much emotional pain that I regressed into cutting myself again. However, I have to give myself some credit, because after just a few pretty minor scratches I realized that, as horrible as I felt, I didn’t want to go down this road again. So I took the knife to my mom and begged her to stop me, but then experienced a full-blown panic attack. I was pretty much hysterical and it took me a long time to calm down. I hadn’t felt that way in weeks… It scared me. The events that triggered felt traumatic and overwhelming at the time, and I went right to that automatic coping mechanism, both to numb the emotional pain and act out the self-hatred I was feeling in the moment. I guess it was just proof that I still have quite a ways to go before I don’t regress to that place in my mind again. It was awful… For a second I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital again. In fact, I think it was that thought that ultimately stopped me and made me force myself to calm down. I could not go through that chaos for the fourth time… No way.
Again on a positive note, my anxiety attack could have turned into an all-night binge-fest… But it didn’t. I was actually able to calm myself down much quicker than in the past, and though I cried myself to sleep, I was able to sleep. So although I do have a ways to go, I have made some significant progress. And I’m going to keep it in my mind that next time I feel this way, I will find some other way to relieve the emotional pain I’m feeling… Maybe finding someone to talk to immediately, or even just letting myself cry until the pain subsides. I don’t know… At this point I’m really not sure what my alternatives are. Of course I know there are other and much healthier ways I can cope besides cutting, binging, overdosing, etc… It’s just hard to think of anything else in the moment, when I’m in that self-loathing, overwhelmed mindset.
However, in order to make this a “fall forward,” I need to come up with a plan for the next time I’m feeling self-destructive. And as hard as it might be, I also need to deal with both the events that triggered the attack and the resulting thoughts and feelings that overwhelmed me.
One of the thoughts and that coursed through my mind, almost as a plea, was “This is not who I am. This is not who I am…” Last night I had been made to feel like the borderline symptoms I struggle with are a part of my being, are who I am at the core. That hurt so much because I hated those things I used to do. They were not me. THEY ARE NOT ME. Borderline personality disorder does not define me. How could it? I know myself better than anyone… And I know that the real me is above and beyond the illness I deal with. It is so painful to be misunderstood. I already struggle with shame and guilt, both for things that weren’t my fault and things that were… And I am trying to overcome them and make them better, and work through those things that happened. To be told that I would always be this way was like a stab at my very core. I couldn’t handle it. I know I can overcome this… and I am desperately clinging to that knowledge. I know I have made mistakes and I am not perfect. But certain major mistakes I made, I am confident I will never make again, because I have learned from them. As I work through therapy and make healthy choices, I know I can get better. I have to. I want to be me again… Or rather, be that real me I know is inside and that I am discovering more and more every day.
Another thing that consumed me last nightwas looking at the past and some of the poor decisions I made that hurt both myself and others, and wondering… What was me and what was the illness? That thought tortures me because while on the one hand I can’t bear to think that some of those things I did were brought about because of my own weaknesses and negative things about me, separate and apart from my disorders, on the other hand I want to take responsibility for my actions and make reparations. What should I feel guilty for and what should I accept as an aspect of my disorder? Or does it even matter?
After my panic subsided, I came to the conclusion that in the here and now, it doesn’t matter. Moving forward, it doesn’t make a difference. Guilt and blame shouldn’t even be playing a part in this. What happened, happened. The mistakes I made, were mistakes. I hurt myself. I hurt other people. I got myself in situations that were dark and destructive. I can’t torture myself over whether it was a completely conscious decision, or something brought on by the mental state I was in at the time… If I’m going to move forward, I can’t think that way. I am making amends to myself by getting therapy and practicing making healthy choices. I can make amends to those I hurt by apologizing and then just being the best person I can be. I can’t change the past. I need to look forward towards full recovery and put the past behind me as best as I can…even if that means finally dealing with the unresolved, painful memories and feelings so I can lay them to rest forever.
I think, all things considered, I can look at last night as a “fall forward.” Though I regressed in some of my behavior, I was also able to de-escalate fairly quickly, identify the triggers, and deal with the overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, I was able to regain control and move on. And I am proud of myself for that.
February 23, 2010
As follow-up to yesterday’s post, I sat down today and wrote out the qualities of the person I want to become in the following areas: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual. These qualities/characteristics (in bold) are my “long-term” goals, with bullet points underneath that constitute my short-term goals. My plan is to choose three short-term goals at a time to work on (each from a different area). Once I feel I have mastered those, I will move on to three more, and so on (while continuing to work on the previous three goals of course). Many of these short-term goals will actually wind up breaking down into even more specific, daily, “bite-sized” tasks.
1) Fit, toned, healthy and vibrant
- Stick to exercise and nutrition program to achieve weight loss goal and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Engage in enjoyable physical activities such as biking, dancing, rollerblading, hiking
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
2) Well-groomed with a unique personal style
- Treat myself to a “make-over” (new hair style, facial, manicure, etc)
- Go through wardrobe and throw out baggy/unflattering clothes
- Shop for new clothes when I have the funds
1) Develops relationship with God and nourishes faith daily
- Daily scripture study and prayer, and weekly church attendance
- Journaling thoughts and impressions
- Get involved in church-related activities
2) Is confident in sharing faith and God’s love with others
- Pray for opportunities to love others and be a positive influence in their lives
1) Able to use healthy coping skills to deal with stress
- Attend weekly therapy sessions and work on applying skills discussed
- Read assigned therapy materials
2) Sets healthy boundaries
- Practice assertiveness and saying “no”
3) Able to love others and share myself with them appropriately
- Be a good friend but don’t let allow people to drain my energy
4) Is honest and open with self and others
- Be true to myself in social situations (not doing/saying what I think others want me to)
- Saying what I mean and meaning what I say
5) Has respect for self and high self-esteem
- Practice standing up for myself and not letting others take advantage of me
- Be my own best friend (positive self-talk and refraining from self-destructive behaviors)
1) Makes plans with friends and follows through
- Make an effort to get together with friends (instead of isolating)
2) Is comfortable in group settings
- Gradually get to the point where I can go to dances and parties without being overwhelmed
3) Spends time with family (put family first)
- Be sure to spend time with each family member and be a positive example for my siblings
4) Is involved in volunteering
- Find a program to volunteer with once a week
1) Constantly develops mind
- Tackle my reading list
- Learn something new every day
- Take classes
2) Develops talents and shares them with others
- Practice my piano and singing
- Work on my music writing
- Overcome nervousness by practicing performing for others
Two of the above goals are kind of over-arching goals that I will be constantly focusing on, in addition to the two other goals that will eventually be switched out once they are mastered:
1) Stick to exercise and nutrition program to achieve weight loss goal and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
2) Attend weekly therapy sessions and work on applying skills discussed.
I will talk more in depth about the other three goals I’ve chosen tomorrow. And just so y’all know… not EVERY post is going to be about my goals or my progress towards them… It’s just my main focus these last few days. Once I kind of get in the swing of things, more of my posts will be about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as I work through therapy and adjust to my new life in recovery. However, setting goals is an essential part of my journey, so it’s a good beginning.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”…
February 21, 2010
Dedicated to the angels in my life… You know who you are.
One of my angels wrote this about me a little while ago. It gives me comfort and strength every day:
“I’m proud of her. I really mean that. She hasn’t given up and that takes more guts and strength to try and get up when you’ve got nothing left then to just stay up. I recognize that and I’m proud of her for it.”
Seems small, but for me, it was huge. I don’t think we realize how much we can touch others’ lives by even just a few heartfelt words. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass”…
I thank my Heavenly Father for the angels he puts in my path. Their very existence in my life is proof of His love for me.
(Still not feeling well today… Will write more tomorrow.)