April 9, 2010

Ambivalence

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:03 pm by eddejae

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?

Really?

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April 5, 2010

Self-Acceptance

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:27 pm by eddejae

Alright. I need to vent. Bear with me here…

I do stupid things. I’m a big dork. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. I make mistakes all of the time. I can be really lazy. I’m nowhere near the person I want to be yet. I am a complete scatterbrain. I don’t like going places by myself. I have a phobia of talking on the phone or answering the door. I get nervous around people. I jumble my words when I’m tired. I have to force myself to eat vegetables. I wear mismatched socks. Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day. I leave the cap off my toothpaste and squeeze it from the middle. I leave cupboards and drawers open. I’m clumsy, especially in heels. I get irritated with slow drivers. I’m addicted to sugar. I suck at small talk. I feel awkward most of the time. When I have to speak in front of people, my legs shake. Singing in front of people makes me physically ill. I don’t like my voice. I’m terribly self-conscious. I wear jeans two sizes too big for me with multiple holes because I have an irrational fear that any other jeans I try on won’t fit. I hate doing my hair so I usually put it in a ponytail. Doing the dishes grosses me out. I’m always losing things. It’s hard for me to recognize the good in myself. I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes I don’t eat enough or I eat way too much. Sometimes I fake being sick to get out of socially stressful situations.I can be a flake. I hate office jobs and I will never work in one again. I take pain killers every day. I always think people are looking at me. I haven’t gone swimming in years because I’m too self-conscious. I get bored with myself a lot. I think I’m addicted to caffeine. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 19. I studied all the time in college and barely had a social life. I wear the same shoes every day. I throw things when I’m angry. I’m pretty hard on myself. I wish I was more confident. I have a hard time believing people when they compliment me. I make stupid typos. I regret a lot of things. Sometimes I eat noodles with my fingers.

Now that I’ve subjected you to Edde’s Imperfections 101, I’m going to turn things around a bit and share a list of “Affirmations for Self-Acceptance” that I came across today. Check it out:

1.  I am worthy of love and respect regardless of others’ opinions or behavior.

2. My self worth is totally independent of how I compare to others.

3. My self worth is totally independent of any external factors.

4.  I am worthy of love and respect regardless of the results of my efforts.

5. I am worthy and will be loved even when others are being given more attention.  I am happy for others when they receive love and attention.

6. My self worth is within me and totally independent of whether I am loved exclusively by someone on or not.

7. I am worthy of love and respect even when I am not perfect in what I do and even when I make mistakes.

8. My self worth is totally independent of how much I accomplish.

9. I am worthy of love and respect even when I feel weak or needy.

10. My self worth is totally independent of whether others agree with me or satisfied with me.

11. I deserve love and respect even when I need to say “no” and not respond to what I am asked to do.

12. My self worth has nothing to do with how much I give or receive.

13. My self worth is totally independent as to whether some people trust me or open up to me or not.

14. My self worth is totally independent of how people behave towards me.

15. My self worth is totally independent of how much others work or how they  work or what they believe about me.

16.  My self worth is a reflection of my divine nature and not my gender, religion, social class etc.

17. My self worth is totally independent of whether others recognize it or how they feel towards me.

18. I accept and love myself as I am with my faults and weaknesses.

19. I am intelligent and capable enough to succeed in any endeavor which is important to me.

20.  I deserve to be loved and respected exactly as I am.

21. I have the inner power  and strength to deal with whatever life brings me.

22.  I am capable of handling any possible  difficulties which might occur.

23. I am beautiful exactly as I am – just as all aspects of nature.

24. I am a good person, a worthy person.

25. I am worthy of love and respect regardless of how others behave towards me.

26. I respect and love all persons without feeling any need whatsoever to live my life according to their beliefs or values. I live my life in harmony with my inner values and beliefs.

27.  I am in no way responsible for others people’s reality but only for my own motives and behavior towards them.

28. No else is responsible for my reality. I am totally responsible for what I feel and experience in life.

29. My self worth is based on my inner being, my existence itself, my inner divine nature and on no other external factors.

30. My self worth is a simple function of the fact that I am a unique aspect of divine creation. My self worth cannot be increased nor decreased. I can never be more or less worthy of love and respect than another.

31. Although I am not perfect and have various faults, I deserve to be loved and respected as I am, just I as I love and respect others with their faults.

32. When I do not love my self, I am not loving an aspect of divine creation.

33. I often accept in others traits which I reject in my self. Why?

34. I am in a process of personal evolution and am attending to that process.

35. All beings deserve my love and respect, including my self.

(These are adapted from the following link: http://www.holisticharmony.com/lcp/list/affirmations.html)

So there you go.

I’m me. And I’m myself. Any questions?

March 27, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:12 pm by eddejae

My poor family. What they have to put up with…

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……