July 2, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 7… Closing Words: Part 1…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:14 pm by eddejae

It is hard to believe that just eight months ago, I truly thought my life was over. That there was nothing left for me to live for. That I was worthless, used up, incapable of ever being happy again. After years of struggling with debilitating depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and what I later found out to be Borderline Personality Disorder, I was tired of trying. I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to give up the fight. Over a two month period I attempted suicide three times and overdosed on at least five other occasions. I coped with the pain of past and present abuse, trauma, guilt, and self-loathing with binging, purging, cutting, alcohol, drugs, and victimization. In order to survive, I either disassociated from my surroundings or changed my entire personality depending on where I was and who I was with. I didn’t know who I was from one moment to the next. Most people didn’t even know everything that was going on with me, because I was very good at putting on a mask. Life was chaos. Chaos was life.

I failed therapy after therapy. Medications made me even more suicidal. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder that things started to make sense. However, it still took me a little while to accept my diagnosis and to make the decision to change. It wasn’t until after my third hospitalization that something inside me snapped. I realized that if I didn’t commit to recovery now, I never would, and I would be miserable the rest of my life. It was a decision I had to make on my own. No one… not my family, not my therapist, not anyone… could make it for me. It was a deep, inner choice and true dedication to becoming healthy.

I am convinced that the one deciding factor to my success in recovery was my commitment in that critical and pivotal moment to becoming better.

Without that, nothing would have worked. Not the best therapy in the world, not the most perfect combination of meds, not even the most loving relationship. No…only that commitment that remained even in the most difficult, heart-wrenching moments when those voices screamed at me “Give up! Give up!” …that one small voice of commitment inside that remained, that whispered… “Remember, remember…” That is what made the difference.

My current state of happiness and healing did not happen all at once. It is a result of a lot of hard work, of a long and painful process. Healing, progress, recovery… They are all a result of a series of small, but very important, choices. Really, there is no such thing as a small decision. Every choice you make has vast consequences, no matter how insignificant it may seem at that moment. Remember that when you when you try to get down on yourself when you think you are “failing”… give yourself credit for the tiny successes…. They make more difference than you realize….For it is those seemingly small victories that accumulate and create something magnificent in the end.

Another thing that has greatly helped me in this process has been getting outside myself. The more I reach out to others, the happier I am. The more I isolate myself and retreat inside my own little world, the more depressed I feel. It is hard because I struggle with social anxiety, but just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you get and the easier it becomes each time. One thing I love to do is bake, especially at night when I can’t sleep. But I don’t just do it for myself, I do it for my friends and family… There’s nothing more fun and rewarding than seeing the joy on someone’s face when you show up at their door with a plate of fresh-baked cookies. Talk about endorphin rush! Believe it or not, it’s little things like that that can really lift you up out of a rut. Try it. Experiment. Can’t hurt, right?

I also had to decide, at a point, to let myself be happy. For most of my life, whenever I started to feel happy, I would immediately begin to feel guilty. For me, I never felt I “deserved” to be happy, because only “perfect” people deserved to be happy. And since I was never perfect, I could never be happy. Took me a very long time, well… my entire life!… to realize that: 1) I am never going to be perfect, and no one is; 2) There is no such thing as “deserving” to be happy; and 3) I can (and should) be imperfect and happy simultaneously. Once I could accept that, emotionally as well as logically (and I still have to work on this daily, as a lifelong habit is hard to break) I was able to do things like enjoy the little things, be in a relationship, and get married (tomorrow!)

Something else I’ve had to learn and work on is boundaries, especially when it comes to helping other people at the expense of neglecting myself. I’ve always had a bit of a “savior” complex, partly out of a genuine compassion for others, but also as a result of low self-esteem. I need to love, but also be loved, as much of my self-validation comes from others’ approval. As a result, I tend to give everything I have to others, whether they deserve it or not, and am often left empty. I give others validation instead of encouraging them to validate themselves.

Over just the last couple of months, I have learned (the hard way), that unless I am taking care of myself first, I am not good to anyone else. I had to learn to step away a bit and focus on my own recovery, otherwise I was at risk of breaking down again myself. One day, when things have settled down and I am comfortable and strong in this new chapter in my life, I will return to helping others in their journey – it is part of who I am and always will be. I love helping others – listening to them, comforting them, being a help and support wherever I can. But I always need to be sure I am in a good place myself first, before I can be a strength to someone else.

The best thing I can offer the world and others is myself – healthy and whole, with a voice that is clear, strong, and true.

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July 1, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 6…Beautiful History…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:17 pm by eddejae

This song has gotten me through a lot… Want to share it here…

Remember that you are always writing your story, and every chapter is unique and amazing – the happy chapters, the frightening chapters, the sad chapters, the emotional chapters, the healing chapters. Every moment is another sentence, another word on the page… And it is important, and it is beautiful. Tell your story. I guarantee you it will touch another’s life in some way, and it will help to you realize that nothing you have gone through has been in vain.

Everyone has a history…Lessons they’ve learned and wisdom to share.

Let your voice be heard.

Begin to speak today.

Not only will you change someone else’s life…

You will forever change your own.

I have made mistakes
And I have been afraid
I have felt alone
Then you called my name

Things were crashing loudly
Happening all around me
But your still small voice
Was all that I could hear

I am here
I’m holding you
You’ll make it through this
I am here
I am here

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke of
The pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history

Well I have been such a fool
When I have known the truth
I’ve wasted so much time
Doing what I want to do

I’ve been living solely
For myself and myself only
But your still small voice
Is whispering

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke
Of the pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history

I toss and turn and scream
I try to do everything
With two feet on the ground
I just keep falling down again

I feel so far from home
Completely all alone
And then I hear you say
“I am here, I am here”

Whenever you run away
Whenever you lose your faith
It’s just another stroke of
The pen on the page

A lonely ray of hope
Is all that you need
To see
A beautiful history
A beautiful history
A beautiful history

June 27, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 2… The Woman I Want To Be…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:06 pm by eddejae

Over the years I have developed a picture of what a human being living humanely is like. She is a person who understand, values and develops her body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate to what is new and different, keeping that part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not ~Virginia Satir

This has been the Second Day of Sunset…


Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm,

but to add color to my sunset sky…

Seven Days of Sunset ~ Day 2… Turn, Turn, Turn…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by eddejae

To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. ~Anais Nin

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. ~Anais Nin

Begin doing what you want to do now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.  ~Marie Beyon Ray

What the caterpillar calls the end the rest of the world calls a butterfly. ~Lao Tzu

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. ~Abraham Maslow

The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.  ~Mike Dooley

Celebrate endings – for they precede new beginnings. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating.  ~Barbara Sher

And you? When will you begin your long journey into yourself? ~Rumi

June 26, 2010

Seven Days of Sunset ~Day One

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:34 pm by eddejae

Seven days.

Just seven days until my wedding day.

Only seven more days until a new chapter in my life begins.

I am finally making the leap. Turning the page. Starting anew.

The time has come for me to, once and for all, put my past behind me… The pain, the heartache, the hurt, the sadness, the scars.

The lessons, the refinement, the wisdom, the beauty, the growth, the maturity will remain.

To the rest, I will say goodbye.

As part of this transition into what I feel is truly a new turning point in my life, I have decided to end this blog. I will continue to write, but my focus will be on other aspects of my life and self-expression and less on my struggle with depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. Though I will always have my struggles and my “moments,” I have experienced so much growth and healing over the last few months (largely because of this blog, and also because of the beautiful relationship I’ve found which will soon culminate in marriage) that I no longer feel the need to have an outlet specifically for these issues. I may even go as far to say that I no longer feel that my mental and emotional struggles are a part of me, but rather outside forces that encroach upon my daily life in an attempt to derail me from my efforts to move forward. However, through the support of my therapist, my family, and my loving and superhumanly patient fiancee, and also through considerable practice (including many trial-and-error experiments!) I have improved considerably in my ability to cope with these forces and handle each difficult moment as it comes. My feelings and thought patterns have become more predictable, I have learned to keep track of high and low cycles, and I have become more aware of how my physical symptoms reflect my inner emotional world.

Now, to be clear, I have no expectations that it will all be smooth sailing from here on out. I know there’s a chance that my illnesses will come back to bite me in the butt at some point down the road, and I know for certain new problems and trials will arise as life goes on. But I’ve come to realize that no matter what happens, no matter what life throws at me, I have the strength and the skills to cope, to pick myself up, and move on. That even when I make mistakes, even when I fail, I can get up again. That even when I fall, I can at least fall forward. I have no doubt about that, whatsoever. I’ve survived quite a bit… I’m not strong all the time, but I’m strong when I really need to be. I’m a survivor. And that’s all that matters.

My final blog entries… And really, I don’t know how many there will actually be… Are all going to be grouped under the title of “Seven Days of Sunset.” During this next week, I will be tying up all my mental and emotional “loose ends” — the random thoughts that have been hanging about the corners of my mind waiting to be typed out… The lingering fears, doubts, and concerns that have been bottled up and are ready to explode any moment… The memories, dreams, and nightmares that I just want out and in the open so they’re outside of me… Anything and everything. Content that is too sensitive will be password-protected and for my eyes only… So don’t take it personally. 🙂 This will be a psychological, spiritual, and emotional cleansing for me… Something I feel is necessary for me to truly begin a new chapter in my life. Some of it will be painful, I admit… But I will be relieved when it is finished.

Then, I will be able to move on… Free and unfettered…

This has been the First Day of Sunset…

This moment is a bridge between
Past and Future  ~ carefully cross it.
This moment is choice  ~ Make it.
This moment is life  ~ live it.

~Pum Sandhu

May 17, 2010

The Fly

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , at 12:20 am by eddejae

An innocuous fly trapped in a

Grimy, cracked mayonnaise jar,

Thrashing its nervous, fragile frame,

Increasingly battered, against

The blemished glass –

Up, down, left, right,

Backwards, frontwards, sideways.

Despite the futility of its perpetual movement,

It goes on and on and on, unstoppable,

Though it knows not quite why or what for.

Dizzy, dumbfounded, disoriented,

Racked with spasms and mind-numbing panic,

Mind frozen in a monotonous state of confusion.

The universe on the breathable dimension of the

Deceptive doorway to freedom is unreachable –

Yet, this fact, ungrasped by the miniscule brain

Of the miniature fly with a million eyes wide shut,

Continues its frenzied dance as liberty

Dangles, cruelly tantalizing, on an existential string.

Purely functional, unconscious, and incapable

Of rewarding the fly’s nigh Puritan persistence,

The glass jar gives no indication of giving way,

Until, at long last, the fly collapses onto its now-broken back,

Exhausted and bleeding  from the fight against

Its own false perception of reality.

One leg jerks in one last gasp

Of hope…

And is still.

April 28, 2010

Two Roads Diverged…

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , at 10:33 pm by eddejae

This just about sums it up for me right now. When my own poetic abilities fail me, I know I can always turn to Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, or Sylvia Plath to compensate for what I lack. 🙂

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


April 27, 2010

Turning Point

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:34 am by eddejae

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anais Nin

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. ~Robert Frost

Come to the edge, He said. They said: we are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them, and they flew. ~Guillaume Apollinaire

So much has happened over the last few days, I hardly know where to begin.

I’m not sure I know how to adequately express what a roller coaster I’ve been on. I have run the gamut of emotions from ecstatic joy to intense fear. I am exhausted yet I sit here in front of my computer at almost 1AM knowing that if I don’t write about all of this I will regret it. I can’t let it build up like I’ve done so many times before.

As I stated in my last post, I am in love. Now, I have this hunch that for most people, this is a perfectly natural thing bringing nothing but unadulterated joy. Unfortunately, dealing with BPD makes love and relationships much more complicated and emotionally stressful than they need to be. It seems that even the most positive emotion gets muddied by insecurity, fear, pain, jealousy, and even desperation. It is difficult to feel happiness in its purity when bits of memories, past experiences, and the things you are most scared of threaten to drag you back down into misery.

But I’m not going to let that happen, no matter how hard it is or how scared I am.

I must live.

I must love.

Or there will be nothing else left but to die.

I need to give a little bit of background. My now-boyfriend, who I will call… Todd. Yes, Todd. Good name. Anyways… “Todd” has been in my life for six years. He is my best friend and always will be. He knows me better than anyone on the face of the planet, especially myself. We’ve been through so much together. We have dated on and off for the last several years, but it seemed I always ruined it. We could never figure out why I was always pushing him away and then clinging to him for dear life; breaking up and getting back together; the fights; the jealousy; the hurt feelings and broken hearts… I never meant to hurt him. I always loved him with all of my heart, and neither of us could understand why I would say and do things that hurt him, that hurt the relationship, and that hurt myself… especially myself.

We parted ways back in August, which was right before I experienced the hypomanic episode followed by the suicidal crash that sent me to the hospital three times. We had stopped talking, and he didn’t find out about what I had been going through until just a few months ago. He and my mother (who had always been like his second mom) started talking and she was able to fill him in on what had happened. Once he found out I was diagnosed with BPD, he went and bought every book he could find on it. I knew he was communicating with my mother but wasn’t ready to start talking to him yet. I still felt in a fragile state and I didn’t want to mess anything up. I missed him, I knew I loved him and wanted to be with him and was pretty sure he felt the same, but I wanted to wait until I was “ready” for a relationship (because I knew that is what it would become as it is hard to be “just friends” with someone you have such strong feelings for). So I’ve just been going along, hearing about how he’s been doing from my mom (he’s in the Air Force and quite busy with work and training right now) and becoming nice and cozy in the fact that he would be around whenever I decided to come out of my cocoon.

Well, that happened sooner than I thought. And I wasn’t even “ready” yet. We talked on the phone Thursday night for the first time in 9 long months. I broke down. I cried and told him everything I felt for him. How I didn’t ever want to be with anyone else; how sorry I was for hurting him; how badly I felt about my situation; how I was afraid of letting him down, of failing. He told me how much he loved me and missed me. I forgot what it felt like to be loved so unconditionally by someone who could name quite a few reasons for hating me if he wanted to. It was amazing…

And then…

I started to get scared. Scared of failing. Scared of hurting him again. Scared of loving. Scared of having him back in my life. Scared because I knew that talking to him inevitably meant loving him, which would lead to being with him, which would lead to… oh my gosh… living life?!?! I told him, “Give me a month. I”ll be ready to see you in a month.” Just another way to put off what I wanted the most and yet was desperately afraid of.

Loving him meant living my life as I always dreamed it could be.

Loving him meant opening myself up to him and to others.

Loving him meant letting myself be imperfect.

Loving him meant accepting myself as worthy of love, here and now.

Loving him meant not running anymore from the things that make life worth living

Loving him meant becoming alive again.

Loving him meant not WAITING until everything, including myself, was PERFECT.

And. I. Was. Terrified.

As I hung up the phone with Todd, I started to feel like I was sinking into an endless black pit of fear and pain. I had just experienced two hours of complete elation and hope, and suddenly I was falling, falling, falling…

Something became very clear to me.

At that very moment I was standing at a fork in the road. I had a decision to make. There were two paths I could take. Two options, each in complete opposition to each other. The fear of living pulled me one way, the yearning to be loved and to jump back into life again pulled the other. One way seemed less frightening and demanding. The other way appeared risky with the possibility of failure and further pain.

One was to end my life. I admit I seriously contemplated this. Being in love meant feeling. Living meant feeling. Feelings terrify me. As far as I’ve come in my recovery, they still tear me apart. No matter what they are, positive or negative. At times, I would rather die or spend the rest of my life in a mental hospital than to feel. Than to live. Than to take that leap into the unknown.

The other, of course, was to throw myself into life and love. This meant feeling. This meant risking everything. This meant happiness and sadness, joy and pain, sorrow and elation. This meant opening myself up to healing. This meant going outside my comfort zone. This meant no more hiding.

I knew, in that all-important moment, that it was one or the other. I realized I couldn’t mull around in this in-between place anymore, in this limbo, in this stagnant place where I was not going backward, but I was not going full-speed ahead either – more like…drifting with the current. I realized it was driving me insane, that I have been retreating more and more into my own head and withdrawing from life and from other people again. Afraid to live. Wanting to stay safe inside my little shell. I knew I couldn’t do that anymore.

It was either end it all or bite the bullet and jump.

I grappled with this decision. I went back and forth. Between love and fear, hope and despair. In a moment of complete desperation and confusion, I wound up cutting myself pretty badly. I asked my mom to take me to the hospital. She said, “No. I will NOT let you do this to yourself again. I will NOT let you cop out. We are bandaging this up and you are going to be strong.” At first I fought it, I protested, I cried, I screamed – I threw a tantrum like a three year old. Don’t make me live! I’m scared! God, don’t make me do this!

After a long night of crying, and a visit to my therapist in the morning (which I only got through thanks to my the nifty little defense mechanism called disassociation)… I realized that I did NOT have two choices.

I had ONE choice.

Death was NOT an option for me. Or rather… I could not LET it be an option.

I could not let the monster win. I had to fight it.

ONE choice: To live.

ONE choice: To love.

ONE choice: To be with Todd and thereby letting my dreams come true.

ONE choice. To let myself be happy.

So here I go. Taking that leap, that plunge, that ultimate risk called life. It is scary. It is tumultuous. It is what I was born to experience, and experience it I must. Experience it I shall.

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down. ~Ray Bradbury

All I have is here, today, now. No more living in the past, no more living for tomorrow. Loving Todd and jumping back into life in all its uncertainties and complexities means forcing myself to live in the present, to accept myself for who I am IN THIS MOMENT. This is the hardest thing in the world, but we LEARN how to by DOING it.

It is by jumping off that cliff that we learn how to spread our wings and fly…

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about getting out there and dancing in the rain.

My own experience has taught me this: if you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won or lasting happiness achieved. ~Maurice Chevalier

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Life can be magnificent and overwhelming — that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live. ~ Albert Camus

April 25, 2010

To Live = To Love. To Love = To Live.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:18 pm by eddejae

Well, I promised to divulge the secret of my new-found outlook on life and the turning point that I experienced, but… I am too tired! So sorry. I will say this though…

The greater your capacity to feel pain, the greater your capacity to feel joy.

I am not cured, but I have greater hope I will be. I still feel pain, but I know it will lessen more and more each day. I still have problems, but I have greater courage to face them. I am still me, but happier and more hopeful.

To wrap it all up with a cute little bow…

I’m in love.

Whew. Glad I got that one out!

Now, before you roll your eyes and get all cynical on me, I ask you to please refrain from any sort of jaded mental jaunting (don’t act so surprised – I can hear your thoughts quite loudly!) until you hear the story in its entirety and how this relationship factors into my recovery process. Suffice it to say that I had two choices:

One. To die.

Or two. To live.

I chose to live.

And I chose to love.

Life.

And love.

These are inseparable in my eyes.

I’m off to bed soon. I am posting this song as it expresses almost perfectly – in word, in rhythm, in melody – what I feel right now. Seriously… what would I do without music??

Goodnight
To the city and the sea
To the strangers in the street
Goodnight
To the ghosts out in the hall
The paint peeling off the walls
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

Goodnight
To the TV and the clocks
To the rain that never stops
Goodnight
To everyone I know
Shut my eyes and let em go
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

There is something beautiful dying every day
And for the first time in my life I’m not afraid
Cause there is nothing in this world that doesn’t change

Goodnight
To the person I have been
To the place that I am in
Goodnight
Tomorrow hello to the sun
Are you ready here I come
Goodnight

Sometimes I
Stand between the sidewalk and the sky
And just stare into the clouds as they pass by
You have to leave the ground to learn to fly

April 22, 2010

Unboring

Posted in recovery tagged , , , at 3:27 pm by eddejae

I can never read all the books I want;

I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want.

I can never train myself in all the skills I want.

And why do I want?

I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life.

~Sylvia Plath


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