July 3, 2010
This is dedicated to all those out there who are struggling… whether it be with depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts… Anyone who is hurting, lonely, sad, hopeless…
This video and these words go out to you, as if said personally by me…
You are not alone.
I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place.
I hope that the world turns and things get better.
But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, kiss you… I love you, with all my heart…
I love you.
July 2, 2010
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.
June 26, 2010
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.
April 27, 2010
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…
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.
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 9, 2010
Have you ever confused a dream with life? Or stolen something when you have the cash? Have you ever been blue? Or thought your train was moving while sitting still? Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe it was the ‘60’s. Or maybe I was just a girl…interrupted. ~Susanna Kayson (Girl, Interrupted)
There is a scene in the movie, Girl, Interrupted (which I watched for the first time a few days ago) that really hit home with me. Almost to the point where it hurt. The main character, Susanna Kayson (diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder), is meeting with the insightful Dr. Wick, her psychiatrist at the mental institution in which she is staying. Dr. Wick asks Susanna if she is disappointed that she has come to a plateau in her recovery…
Susannah (S): I’m ambivalent. In fact, that’s my new favorite word.
Dr. Wick (DW): Do you know what that means, ambivalence?
S: I don’t care. It means, “I don’t care.”
DW: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings in opposition. The prefix, as in ambidextrous, means “both.” The rest of it, in Latin, means “vigor.” The word suggests that you are torn between two opposing courses of action. Will I stay or will I go? Am I sane or am I crazy?
S: Those aren’t courses of action.
DW: They can be dear, for some. What world is this? What kingdom? What shores of what worlds? It’s a very big question you’re faced with, Susanna. The choice of your life. How much will you indulge in your flaws? What are your flaws? Are they flaws? If you embrace them, will you commit yourself to hospital for life? Big questions, big decisions. Not surprising you profess carelessness about them.
This near-perfectly expresses the dichotomy of thought I struggle with myself. These questions of who am I, really? Am I crazy? Sane? Normal? Strange? What is the real me? The girl that can function in society, is responsible, respectful, dutiful, thoughtful, hard-working, productive, even at some level… healthy? Or the girl that is careless, reckless, anti-establishment, flippant, I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-you-think, spontaneous, quirky, rebellious against authority, even downright deviant? The girl who holds doors open for people behind her, smiles, says please and thank you, crosses her t’s and dots her i’s, looks nice and neat, and keeps her room tidy? Or the girl who walks around with a “don’t-mess-with-me-if-you-want-to-live” sign on her forehead, inky black hair and black nailpolish, studded jewelry, speaking her mind loudly, scribbling lines of poetry in permanent ink on public buildings and restroom walls (ya, that’s pretty much as “delinquent” as I got), pretending not to care what others think but really caring very deeply to the point of changing her personality several times a day, with a “leave me alone” vibe and a complete disregard for societal mores? The girl who goes to work, to school, to church, spends time with family, and basks in the beauty of the sunlight? Or the girl who is only alive at night and a mere zombie during the day, is in and out of mental institutions, skips out of therapy sessions, and listens to angry music? The girl who eats her vegetables and exercises moderately, cares for her body, and respects herself? Or the girl who pours toxins into her body, abuses laxatives and diuretics, refuses to eat, or eats to the point of throwing up, exercises two hours a day, cuts, overdoses on meds, and does everything she can think of to destroy herself? Am I crazy? Or am I sane?
What about my personality traits and activities that don’t fit neatly into either category, that don’t lend themselves to the labels of “good” or “bad,” “healthy” or “unhealthy?” And by these I mean… Creativity that ebbs and flows with my ever-changing moods. Late nights of writing poetry under the covers with a flashlight. Unconventional ways of seeing the world. Unique quirks and habits. Random bursts of energy and spontaneity. Ability to know who people are and what their lives are like upon merely glancing at them. The gift of seeing people’s auras. Knowing that every person on earth has their own musical chord that uniquely expresses the color of their soul. The ability to feel immense pain, but also breathtaking joy. Melancholy brooding or, on the flip side, a vivid awareness of my surroundings, both giving birth to new ideas, new expressions, even new worlds. An acute musical sensitivity. Any of these things I can use for good or for ill. To use to inspire, to lift, to bring light into the world and to others. To create beauty. Or… To manipulate, to gain power over others, to plunge myself into the depths of darkness. With them I can soar through the pristine heavens, or delve into the murkiness of the underworld.
Now this, this is the challenge. To identify the flaws. Are they flaws? And shall I indulge them? Would doing so condemn me to a life in and out of hospitals, on endless combinations of medications? To an emaciated body covered with scars? A broken life of guilt and shame? Ever sliding down and further down that slippery slope leading to complete insanity?
Identify. Challenge. Root out. Think. Discover. Dig down. Understand. Enlighten. Flaws… those things that hurt myself and others. Healthy behaviors… those things that preserve my dignity and my physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being while respecting the rights and feelings of others. And those things that don’t necessarily fit into either category? Those neutral gifts and attributes that can be used to help or hinder, heal or hurt? Creative flow, artistic passion, intuitiveness, quirkiness, originality, even some measure of oddness? These things are part of me… And will never go away…. I hope.
I asked my therapist about this today. My concern that becoming “healthy” would in some way rob me of the ability to feel deeply, to experience passion… That it would take away my vibrant imagination, my creativity, my ability to escape into a world all my own, my susceptibility to flashes of inspiration. I told her that I am most creative when I am depressed or “brooding,” or when I feel strangely “outside myself.” My pain – and sometimes, even my fits of elation – give birth to novel combinations of words and fantastic mental images, to a world of ghosts and of strangeness, of dreams and of nightmares, a world where the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. “I don’t want to give that up,” I said. “It’s part of me. Sometimes it’s all I’ve got.”
She told me that I already had the answer. “It’s part of me.” Those things that make me unique – that sometimes mingle, sometimes clash, to create my own complex personality and style of thinking, of expressing, of living – are essential aspects of who I am and will remain whether I am emotionally/ psychologically/ physically healthy or not. “You will just have to search to find that same inspiration from a different source other than your pain and depression, but the artist in you will never die.” She asked if she could read some of my poems. I can’t wait to show them to her next week. Of all the therapists I’ve had, she is the first to ever express such interest in my writing and my music. I’ve had doctors and therapists be interested in my I.Q., in my acting experience, even in my childhood imaginary friends… but never this. I left today feeling validated and important. I felt like a person. Not just a sick little girl.
“Big questions. Big decisions.” Yes, yes they are. Am I finding the answers? Slowly. Carefully. Painfully. Line upon line. Precept upon precept. Here a little. There a little.
Ambivalent still? A bit. Less ambivalent than I used to be? Much so.
Will I ever be truly “normal”? I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to be.
But then… is anyone?
Tonight my thoughts are tripping over each other struggling for expression, overflowing the delicate vessel of my mind and spilling out into words – words inadequate, unreliable, unpredictable. If only words could capture the true essence of thought, of emotion, of meaning. If only words had the universal power of music in their ability to convey the spirit of what is intended – communication in its purest form. Less subject to varied interpretation than poetry or art. Dance is one step closer I believe, but still unparalleled to sound purposefully organized to resonate in the very soul of the listener – setting particles in motion, inspiring feeling, painting vivid mental pictures, conveying a story through the combination of tone, rhythm, and measured silence.
Take, for example, Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 in A, Op 92: II. Allegretto. The first time I heard it, I wept. It would be an iron-souled person indeed who was not compelled to feel – and to feel deeply – the angst, the desire, the passion that Beethoven is able to infuse in the very heart of the sensitive listener. I cannot listen to this piece without feeling my spirit being lifted into a higher realm, where emotion is experienced more deeply, tinged with a surreal sense of otherworldliness. I envy the ability to create such music. I don’t believe I would ever feel the need to speak if I had such a divine power. My music would speak volumes, and would be more than sufficient to communicate the true depth of my feelings on pain, on love, on despair, on joy, on the ebb and flow of life.
I am sitting in my room. It is completely dark except for the light shining from my computer monitor. The draft from the ceiling fan mingles with the coolness of the night air drifting through the open window, creating a pleasant and calming breeze. Beethoven’s genius permeates the darkness surrounding me. Looking outside my window, I can see the willowy forms of the gray shadows that have followed me about today. I am not afraid of them now. Armed with the strength of music and the spoken word, I will use them for my own benefit. I shall let them inspire me, not torture me. They are under my power now, to move and to speak and to act according to my will. With the force of my mind I command them to dance a mysterious dance in time with Beethoven. Twirling, leaping, tilting, swaying… Now gone. The weary shadows waltz each other away into the blackness of the night. I shall miss them, perhaps.
What is it about the night that inspires me so? Why is it that in some moments, I beg for sleep to overcome me, to numb my feelings, quiet my mind, and paralyze my body into blessed stillness? Why is it that at some times, I pray for the angel of rest to pass by my door, too fascinated by the magic of the night to yield to sleep’s unconscious stupor with its muddled and sometimes frightening dreams? Insomnia is at once a curse and a blessing. I drift in and out of phases of chronic vigilance, in which I am held captive by the clutches of sleeplessness, plagued by the lack of refreshing respite from the cares of the day. I lie wide-eyed in the darkness while others bask in the throes of unconsciousness. Many things, both dark and disturbing, inspiring and enlightening, lurk in the corners of my mind as the ticking clock propels me closer to morning light. Weep for me, oh ye fully rested ones who slip into dreamland the moment your heads alight upon your soft pillows. And yet, despair…for only such as I hold within their weary souls the secrets of the night…
I am staring at the tiny white Seroquel pill and glass of water in front of me. I know I should take it, but I don’t want to. It makes me sleepy, and I want to be awake tonight. Free from dreams, free from endless tossing and turning, free to do as I please with this quiet solitude that is all mine. I wish I were brave (or foolish) enough to go out for a walk. The air is crisp, the sounds of the night coming through my window enticing, and I long to mingle with my fellow nocturnal creatures. But here I remain, in the safety and comfort of my little room, listening to my music, hiding from the Sandman.
I am alone, but somehow… I am not lonely. The gentle breeze wraps its arms around me, the music cradles me in its gentle embrace, and even the darkness seems soothing to the yet raw and aching wounds of my soul. My head aches and my eyes are bleary, but I am no longer numb inside. The icy chill in my heart has at last been thawed by the fiery strains of the music and the softening ambiance of the evening. Sometimes I think it is better to feel sorrow than nothing at all, better to feel pain than that cold, empty, hollow, dreary numbness in which there is no saving spark of fire, no glimmering undercurrent of hope in the sadness. Of course, it is far better than either of these things to feel joy, but when that cannot be attained, I’d take any emotion that carries with it some kind of soul-moving ache than over the deadness that seems to eat through your heart and mind, creating a vapid nothingness where every color turns to gray and every thing around you turns to dust.
And then, sometimes, I’d rather feel nothing at all than experience the pain. Or… I’d rather feel the pain on the outside than on the inside. I guess, still, that is preferring pain over numbness. I was born to feel. Without it, I do not exist.
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
So sing to me, oh violin, cello, flute. Stir my soul into feeling when nothing else will. Satisfy my longing to feel alive. Comfort me, oh night, oh darkness, oh solitude. Let my very breath vibrate the air with a subtle music of my own. Let my every atom resonate with love, with light, in tune with the universe surrounding me. Let me cry in agony, let me sing with joy, anything… Just let me exist, exist with every particle of my being. Yet, not merely to exist… Let me be alive. LET…ME…LIVE…
I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry… just make me feel alive.” ~Joey Lauren Adams
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…
March 18, 2010
I have been putting off writing this entry all day. I didn’t feel emotionally capable of writing anything yesterday either, which is why I resorted to posting a song (which is one of my favorites). I’ve had a lot of different emotions coursing through me, many thoughts twirling around in my head… But I’m having difficulty putting a name to them or defining their source. I have that trouble sometimes. I will be feeling a certain way and I can’t figure out why.
For example, when I have my “homesick” feeling. It’s not an actual homesickness – that is just how I described it as a very young child. It is an acute, throbbing pain somewhere below my heart but above my stomach (I actually think this is called the “solar plexus” if you want to get technical… I just learned that term a few days ago haha). That’s the physical aspect of it – the accompanying emotion can only be described as a deep “longing” of sorts. I remember first experiencing this when I was three years old, lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It still persists, and I have yet to figure out exactly what it is and where it comes from. It strikes at seemingly random times and is the worst feeling in the world. It almost feels like I’m sinking rapidly into a never-ending pit. I’ve just come to accept that it happens… I just wish I understood it.
Anyways, I just feel kind of melancholy today. Not a depressive melancholy… more a contemplative one, where I just feel mellow and thoughtful. Though I can honestly say I haven’t thought very about much today… Well, not purposely (there’s always an inner dialogue going on in the background of my mind which can be either so loud as to drown out everything else or as quiet as a faint whisper…depending on the day). I almost feel like my thoughts and emotions are “digesting” today, if that makes any sense. But I’ve been avoiding writing, probably because I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s going on in that unpredictable brain of mine, and I’m worried about what might come out once I put my fingers to the keyboard.
Well, as you can see, nothing too drastic has happened yet, but it might soon once I finally do what I avoided doing last night – writing about an experience I had stumbling upon something from my past. I was going through my documents on my laptop, cleaning up and organizing, etc. I came across a folder called “Received Files” that I had never noticed before. Another folder was stored under that one called “History.” Hm. So I opened that one to find the entire transcript of a very long instant message conversation that took place a year and a half ago with my boyfriend at the time. Against my better judgment (maybe), I read it. All of it.
It was painful. So painful in fact, that I spaced out for several minutes and freaked out my mom a bit. It brought back a lot of thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. that I had been feeling at that time in my life, most of which I understand now to be the symptoms of BPD raging their ugly heads. The pain I felt as I read it was from utter disgust with myself. Well, disgust is probably too strong of a word, but I was in complete shock with the things that I said in this particular conversation. And this was but one conversation. I could recall many similar conversations, some much, much worse, in which I had taken one little thing this guy said, misunderstood or twisted it (unintentionally, mind you), and then strongly reacted to it. The poor guy hadn’t even said anything out of line, but it seemed I took it completely the wrong way and fought tooth-and-nail as if it had been a giant monster ready to devour me. As my eyes scanned the words exchanged – him trying to explain what he had meant and reassure me, with me simultaneously accusing him of not loving me and threatening to call everything off – I was stunned at just how obvious my insecurities and fears are, how terrified of rejection I am. I took one perceived criticism, saw it as a very real threat of abandonment, and lost grasp of all reality.
After reading this, I felt incredibly ashamed, and sorry for what I had put this guy through. Then, I realized something very big and very important. I was seeing it. I could see where I had misunderstood. I could see how I reacted. I could see that the way I was talking and behaving was irrational (though at the time, it was perfectly rational to me). I could see my struggle with BPD being played out right in front of me. This was a major sign to me that I have come far since then, that I am much more in touch with reality now that I can identify my own problematic behaviors. I could never have seen it back then – the pain, the fear, the insecurity…that was my reality in the moment. Now, I can see what actually happened in that conversation. Things are a lot clearer. And even though while reading it, I could still feel the intense pain that the conversation caused, I understood more of where it was coming from and that it wasn’t me. It’s not my fault that I behaved so irrationally and hurtfully. Now, I’m not saying I shouldn’t take responsibility for what transpired, but I understand that the root cause was my disorder in all its complexities, not some fundamental flaw in me.
Now if I can only look at other things that happened in my past in that same light… I might be well on my way towards forgiving myself, for not hating myself, for not acting out the loathing I carry deep inside for the mistakes I have made and for the people I have hurt. That’s going to take a long time… Even after that breakthrough in separating me from my illness, I am still going back and forth in my mind about it… That voice in my head that tells me I’m a horrible person and that I should feel ashamed for everything, ashamed for even being alive, is so loud. Maybe that’s what I’ve been fighting all day, and just didn’t realize it. In any event, I think this was a very important step, regardless of whether my mind and emotions want to accept it yet or not.
Well, I did it. I wrote about it. I did what I’ve been running from all day.
I guess it wasn’t so bad in the end.
March 7, 2010
The pain passes, but the beauty remains. ~Renoir
I first heard the following song today, and it had such an impact on me I had to share it. I feel like I could have written it myself, it hits so close to home.
The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I’m alive but I feel like I’ve died
And all that’s left is to accept that it’s over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I’m slipping away
After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain
My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I’ll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can’t understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you’ve brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames
After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain
Here I am, at the end of me
Trying to hold to what I can’t see
I forgot how to hope
This night’s been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn
After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain
Though it won’t be today,
Someday I’ll hope again
And there’ll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain