July 3, 2010

To My Fellow Survivors

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:10 pm by eddejae

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.

…Edde Jae

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.

May 14, 2010

The Battle Is Not Over

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:25 am by eddejae

I should have seen the signs.

But I didn’t.

Typical.

The night before last my appetite seemed insatiable.

I prevented myself from indulging in a licentious binge with reckless abandonment, but for the first time in three weeks, food was obsessively on my mind. After an ice cream sundae, two brownies, a sandwich, and a Heath bar, I was about to dive into a jar of peanut butter with all five fingers at 2:30 in the morning when my mother walked in on me. Shame and guilt flooded through me, and I became enraged for being caught red-handed. Leaving the peanut butter jar open on the table for her to put away, I stormed to my room, slammed the door, and cried myself to sleep.

I slept until noon the next day. I woke up on a high, almost in a hypomania. I attacked my room, cleaning it to perfection. I organized my papers, made all necessary phone calls, made my schedule of appointments for the next two months, took care of all the emails that had been piling up for the last few weeks, did my laundry, and exercised intensely for 45 minutes.

While I was on the treadmill, I started having flashbacks of a particular instance of date rape I experienced last year. It was unpleasant and made my head feel like it was in a fog. I started feeling anxious and wanted to just stop everything I was doing and go lay down, but I fought it and pushed the thoughts away. But they scared me because I hadn’t thought them for a long time and I didn’t understand why they would suddenly be taking my mind hostage now.

After I had showered and dressed, I got in my car and headed out to Travis AFB to visit Todd. On the way there, my head started to feel very foggy and I became more and more drowsy. I realized I had only had a protein shake that day, and it was already 4pm. My blood sugar was probably low, but I felt like that wasn’t the only thing going on. I had the urge to listen to some heavy rock, which I usually don’t listen to unless I’m in a very “zoned out” mood. My mind was completely somewhere else. I barely remember the drive there. I was mentally and emotionally checked out.

Todd could tell something was wrong. He kept asking me if I was ok. When he found out I had barely eaten, he immediately took me to go get dinner. I felt strangely high. Once I had eaten, the lightheaded, dizzy feeling subsided, but the “out of body,” “zoned-out” feeling didn’t. Now that I look back, I realize that I was disassociating really badly.

I won’t go into details about the rest of the night… But it did not go well. I slipped further and further, especially on the drive home. I wound up cutting myself pretty badly. I woke up feeling miserable. I couldn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. I was so happy, I was doing so well. Why the relapse? Why can’t these demons just leave me alone? All day I have been fighting tooth and nail, but it seems that the more I fight against the sadness, the more it tightens its cold, hard grip. Trying to ruin my happiness, threatening to destroy everything I’ve worked so hard for…

I can’t let it. I won’t let it. But I can’t deny the fact that I can’t feel happy today. I am happy, but I can’t feel it. It is hard to feel anything right now. God help me.

This morning I did my best to get myself going. I dragged myself out of bed and did some writing, but quickly tired again. I had made plans to work out, but wound up going back to bed. Todd and I had made an appointment to get our marriage license today, and I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to muster the energy to go. In a moment of superhuman determination, I forced my body out of bed, ate something, showered, put on some upbeat music, and then drove to meet up with Todd. I was doing everything in my power to make myself feel better. After all, we were getting our marriage license! How exciting! Why couldn’t I feel excited? Why couldn’t I feel a gosh darn thing but melancholy and exhaustion?

Well, I got through it, but not without some concern on Todd’s part. He could see what was going on, he knew I was “checked out” but was trying to put on a happy face for him. I could feel myself putting on that “I’m simply splendid!” mask… I even started a favorite game of mine called “Let’s walk around and talk with a British accent and pretend we’re tourists from London!” But it wasn’t long before that started to wear off… It’s hard to hide what I’m feeling around Todd. It’s difficult to wear a mask around someone who knows you better than you know yourself. I knew he could tell that underneath the random goofiness I was hurting. We decided to go back to his parents house to watch a movie before we parted ways.

His parents own a parakeet. A very old parakeet. This bird has been around for so many years Todd cannot even remember when they first bought it. This parakeet sits in a little cage in the living room all by itself day after day. Todd says it hates people, that it’s crazy. There used to be two parakeets, but it killed its cell mate. For some reason the bird caught my attention for the first time. I’m not much of a bird person, but I felt drawn to it. I felt sorry for it. I sat in front of the cage. And looked at it. And it looked at me.

It seemed so sad. “Todd?” I said. “Can we let it out?” I wanted so badly to hold the poor, neglected bird lovingly in my hands, walk outside, give it a gentle nudge, and let it fly free into the welcoming sunlight.

“Nah,” he said. “I don’t feel like chasing it around the house. Besides, it probably bites.”

“No, I meant… Can we let it go free? Would your parents really care?”

“It’s not our choice hon. It’s not our bird. Besides, it’s so old and stupid it’d probably die anyways.”

“Well… I think it deserves at least a chance. Birds don’t belong in cages. No animal belongs in a cage. I think I would rather die than be in a cage. Wouldn’t you? Maybe… maybe it would be happier dead… Then its spirit could sing and fly… No more cages…”

As I said this, I began to cry. I forgot to mention that I found out this morning that a Facebook friend of mine took her life. I have to confess… Sometimes, when I hear the horrible things people go through, I wonder… Maybe they would be happier on the other side… Maybe it is worth it to escape the pain and horror of this life…

I also failed to mention that another sign that I have slipped into depression is obsessively pondering death and suicide.

I feel guilty for thinking these thoughts. I do, because I know that life is precious and should never be taken for granted, and I know that suicide is NOT the answer. But sometimes I feel so incredibly bad for people who have and are experiencing so much suffering, and I want to take it away… but I can’t… And… I understand them wanting to end the pain. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to want to die. I know what it’s like to want the pain to stop.

But I also know how wonderful and beautiful it is to live.

It’s confusing sometimes… life and death. The decision whether to stay or to go.

I know I’m supposed to be here. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad I’m alive. I have so much to live for. I am happier than I ever been, despite the fact that I am fighting with depression at the moment.

As I mourned for the parakeet and for the untimely death of my friend, Todd held me in his arms and let me cry. I was able to say for the first time today, “I am depressed.” And I didn’t feel guilty about it. I didn’t have to apologize for it. I just was. And it was ok. He is there for me… Through good times and bad. Today is just further proof that we can and will get through anything together. Our road will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Neither of us are perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

“I learn so much from your strengths, but I learn even more from your weaknesses.” ~Todd.

On the drive home, this song came on the radio… I’m not much of a Miley Cyrus fan, but the message was so appropriate for what I am going through right now that I had to share it.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ~Agatha Christie

I can almost see it
That dream I’m dreaming but
There’s a voice inside my head sayin,
You’ll never reach it,
Every step I’m taking,
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking but I
Got to keep trying
Got to keep my head held high

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle
,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing,
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes they knock me down but
No I’m not breaking
The pain I’m knowing
But these are the moments that
I’m going to remember most yeah
Just got to keep going
And I,
I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on,

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

Keep on moving
Keep climbing
Keep the faith baby
It’s all about
The climb

Rest in peace Kellie Taylor… Fly free sweet little bird…

May 5, 2010

M.I.A.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:24 am by eddejae

Dear Readers,

I must extend my deepest apologies for neglecting you these past few days. I have been quite overwhelmed with a multitude of emotions, thoughts, events, and the like, and have not had the opportunity nor *gasp* the inclination to blog. For this, I confess, I do feel some measure of guilt and not a small amount of trepidation that my heretofore faithful readers shall begin to lose whatever faith they had in my consistency of posting. However, I must give myself credit where credit is due and admit to myself that I have been under a considerable amount of stress as of late and, as such, deserve a much-needed break from the word of facebook, WordPress, Yahoo, and other such social networking sites.

Ok, enough of that.

So, as I was saying, I’ve been quite preoccupied with two very important males in my life. First, my wonderful boyfriend. And second, my little brother (who is not technically my little brother, but may as well be – I’ve basically adopted him as such). Most of my time has been divided between these two amazing people who I love so dearly. I have been especially worried about my brother and have been doing whatever I can to keep him afloat. He also deals with severe depression and I have been trying my hardest to be there for him and help him work through this.  On top of all this, I have been working to deal positively and effectively with the emotions that still seem to come out of nowhere at random times, triggered by random events, and that is exhausting in and of itself.

I also have some big news that I will have to wait until tomorrow to share as I am too exhausted at this moment to write any further.

I have a million things I want to expound upon in the next several posts, and I am therefore anxious to get back to my normal blogging schedule tomorrow.

Take care, my friends!

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 16, 2010

Psych Ward ~ Part 1

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:47 pm by eddejae

WARNING: This series of blogs is going to be very blunt. A bit gutsy. A little angry. Extremely cathartic. Possibly offensive to some, as I don’t plan to censor any language. I apologize ahead of time.

“I’ve wasted a year of my life. And maybe everyone out there is a liar. And maybe the whole world is stupid and ignorant. But I’d rather be in it. I’d rather be fucking in it than down here with you.” ~Girl, Interrupted

My “Patient’s Journal” lies open next to me. The handwriting is tiny, almost impossible to read, as I didn’t want anyone possibly peeking at it behind my back to be given any kind of advantage. It is from my first “incarceration” in a psych ward, from which I was submitted involuntarily and released after five days on account of good behavior. I am typing this it just how it reads, with minor changes made only for clarity or anonymity. Here goes.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2009

I’m sitting here on my bed at the mental hospital. Wondering “Why am I here? How did I get to this place?” My roommate just opened her big, blue eyes and said “My name is Christy.” I said, “My name is Edde. Nice to meet you.” “Nice to meet you.” Her eyes close. I’ve been her roommate nearly 24 hours. I arrived here at approximately 2PM Monday, November 16, 2009. I am here because I drank a whole bottle of Nyquil and cut my arms and neck. I don’t know who I am anymore. I change one day to the next. “Severe depression.” “Borderline Personality Disorder.” What? Not me. Surely not me. There are two people inside me. The one that got me here and the one that is amazing. The two don’t get along very well. Who do I think I am? So many people so much sicker, having suffered so much more. Where do I get off being depressed and suicidal?

Time has seemed to stop, even turn back. I keep feeling it is 2003 and I am 16 years old. This is where I was at 16, then 19, then 21, and now. Over and over. I don’t even know the real reasons, and when I think I’ve found the answer and life is good, I crash again. And now, I don’t feel anything but confused. Tired. Apathetic. Angry with myself for being so stupid. I used to watch over girls like me, and now I’m one of them. [I worked for six months at a residential treatment center for teenage girls with severe emotional issues.] I used to study people like me, and I’ve become one. Or maybe I’ve been this all along. Two people. One happy, one sad. One energetic, one tired. One caring, one apathetic. One cynical, one hopeful.

I shouldn’t be here at all. These people are crazy. I just have self-loathing. Christy is so thin, when I first saw her in bed all I could see was a head and sheets. She sleeps all day and all night. There are strange bottles and rags above her bed. She seems about 45, but her demeanor is that of a shy child.

I myself am behaving strangely in this place. When I first arrived I wouldn’t talk to anyone, and avoided eye contact. I knew from the moment the medics rolled me into the lobby that this was not the place for me. I sat in the hallway in a rolling chair in nothing but a hospital gown which barely covered my back. I sat there for 15 minutes alone while they scrambled to figure out what to do with me. Try to ask me more than basic questions and I say “I don’t know.” I just don’t want to talk. I’m still dizzy and groggy from the Nyquil. I want to see my family. I don’t understand why I did this. I didn’t even feel at my lowest. I didn’t feel ANYTHING but “Ok. This is the plan.” It was the same lack of feeling I had when I drove to San Francisco last summer [The main event precipitating my hypomanic episode followed by the suicidal crash that brought me here].

Christy is a skeleton. I’m so tired. My head hurts. The kind South African man came in to give me my meds. I used to give people meds. Selexa for depression and Ativan for anxiety. I wonder if it will make me feel any different. Prozac made me feel like a zombie.

What kind of person OD’s and cuts herself? Is this a huge joke I’m playing on myself? Did I think that because I cut myself once, I should do it again and again? That downing Nyquil was safe? Why wasn’t I sleeping? Or eating? All that coffee? What is real and what’s not? Am I really depressed or am I playing some kind of part? What the hell is wrong with me?

That man just looked in my room. Saied. He scares me. Last night he came into the day room where I was reading and started talking to me, low and fast in some Middle Eastern language. It was awful how he looked at me. I got up and moved away, slipping out the door before he cornered me. The old lady with the dark glasses and walker with tennis balls yelled, “Leave the poor girl alone. Look, you made her run away.” “She wants it, she wants it,” he said. I hovered by the front desk and watched him skulk back to his room. He made obscene comments to me this morning. Derek sits by me to make me feel better.

Derek is my favorite person here. He doesn’t belong here either. He’s not crazy. He is a little taller than me. Slight. Blue eyes, small features. Light brown shaggy hair and a goatee. I met him last night. “Are you Edde?” “Yes.” “I’m Derek. You didn’t eat dinner either?” “No.” I hadn’t eaten all day and when they made me come to the day room to eat, I threw away the lunch box and went back to bed. “I OD’d, that’s why I’m here. Is that why you’re here?” he asked, pointing to my arms. I nodded, “Partly.” Later, after visiting hours, when they wouldn’t give me the clothes my parents brought me, he gave me a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, and a sweater. He is very kind. Sad that such a nice person would have to be here, and would almost kill himself with drugs. But I understand how that goes.

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER?????

No wonder I had such a hard time working at S___. Deep down I always felt like the blind leading the blind, the student teaching the student, the 4 year old taking care of the 3 year old.

Saied just became violent. I heard a lot of banging and screams and everyone was sent to their rooms. What am I doing here??? (And why am I writing so small?) They gave me a red band. I’ve graduated. Whoopee freakin doo. Can I go home yet? “Doesn’t take much to set him off.” I could’ve told you that, retards.

Mike (South African man) says to me, “Don’t let nobody take your joy. Take your weakness, make it your strength. Use it. Have your cry. And use it. Be a phenomenal woman like Maya Angelou. Don’t let nobody steal your joy.”

Enter Christine AKA “Crazy Cassandra.” She is tough, streetsmart, fast-talking. “Blah blah blah” syndrome she calls it. She is thin and worn, but pretty. She’s a year younger but decades older than me. I find her rough yet gentle demeanor attractive. I can tell she has a good heart. I want to be near her and here her talk. She has that charm about her, and stories to tell. She offers me a job as an “escort”/stripper. “You don’t do the dirty. It’s just like a date.” “I’ll think about it,” I say. Right. Later when they told me I was moving from Unit B to Unit C she said “You want my number, you give me your number, or is this just goodbye?” with a smile. I hesitated and grinned, “Just goodbye.” Later I wrote on a piece of paper with my name and number and “Let me know how things work out for you” and went back in the day room to give it to her, but she was gone. I handed it to Michelle, quiet and sweet, and asked if she could give it to her. I’m sure she did. But I didn’t get to say goodbye to Derek, the boy who gave me clothes to wear. Or the old lady with the glasses who told me to eat and yelled at Saied. I miss them.

Here, there is Theresa, who OD’d on coke and has “anger problems.” She wears an orange jacket. She is pretty and nice in her own way. Her group called me over to chat with them, but then tried to get me to talk about why I cut myself and proceeded to discuss some creepy guy who left yesterday who would try to get girls in his room. Great. Thanks.

There is a thin lady with long, blonde hair who must have been very beautiful once. She is talkative and has the air of “I’m queen of this place!” She takes charge of groups and handing out food when staff are less than enthusiastic. She dances for herself in front of her reflection in the day room window, and sings show tunes in a loud, warbling voice. She’s like an old, crazy actress or ballerina from like the 1930s. What’s the word? She’s… Anachronistic? I need to work on my vocabulary. My bank of words is not doing this place justice.

No peace or privacy anywhere. I can’t sleep for the constant commotion. I think I’m having night terrors. My jaw hurts from clenching. It’s cold and my bed and pillow are hard as rocks. I thought I saw someone crawl in my room, up to my bed, making snarling noises. I tried to move but was paralyzed. Finally I sit up and whatever it was, was gone – if it was even there in the first place.

Everyone keeps telling me I didn’t cope right. I don’t know why I cut myself. Or drank the Nyquil. Surely there were better options, and I knew it. I didn’t have to go to San Francisco thereby driving a knife in my boyfriend’s heart. I didn’t have to run away from home and do things I knew were wrong. I didn’t have to drink. Or smoke pot. Or get violent. Or run off in the middle of the night in the ghetto. But I did. Why? I don’t know.

Crazy lady wouldn’t stop talking to me last night. She followed me into the day room. 4AM and she is pacing the halls looking for the next victim of her incessant ranting and babbling. “You can’t trust anyone. They’ll steal from you. They’ll rape you. Don’t trust me unless you can see a halo. Can you see my halo? Then don’t trust me.” I got tired of it and went back to bed.

Theresa doesn’t like me for some reason. Either that or she likes Joweli better. Whenever I sit by her she moves, and didn’t want to sit at my table during lunch. I can’t figure her out. She has self-proclaimed anger issues. Perhaps she’s angry at me.

Steve is here because of something that happened with his 15 year old daughter. He has a lot of regret and says this is a wake up call. He would definitely rather be home than here – it’s more depressing here. I heartily agree!

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2009

Best quotes of the day:

“People don’t realize that Farah Fawcett died the same day as Michael Jackson and people don’t remember that C.S. Lewis died the same day JFK got shot. But his books live on. Pig poop. It’s the wave of the future. Swine flu? BAHAHAHAH!!” ~Heather the Feather (blonde dancer lady).

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” ~Shelly, the angelic Asian girl who paces the halls singing.

Had an incident with an unruly staff member or two today. First asshole, Larry, comes in my room with the nerve to ask me why I’m so quiet and why I cut myself. “Your boyfriend break up with you or something?” Don’t mock me you douchebag. Then there was Archie. I asked for my belongings and he blew up at me, then chastised me for crying. “You’ll be here longer if you cry!” Which of course just made me angry and cry even more. Then I got pulled into the office with the doctor who tells me that he’s going to keep me here 2-3 more days. So I went to my room and bawled, totally breaking the rules by doing so. Oh my. Imagine a depressed person crying! Unthinkable. Let’s not be human, ok? My whole problem is the robot syndrome – put on a happy face no matter how I’m feeling inside. Smile for everybody. Pretend. Didn’t think I had to do that here, but apparently, it’s expected.

February 19, 2010

My Purpose for Writing, Part 1 – My Story

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:09 pm by eddejae

It was the evening of January 3, 2010. I blinked into the glaring fluorescent lights on the emergency room ceiling as I rubbed the stinging handcuff marks on my wrists. Dazed and lethargic from the 24 Nyquil pills still running through my veins, I stuttered my way through an awkward series of questioning from various nurses and doctors who forced their way into my consciousness. Talking was the last thing I wanted to do. Giving them reasons was not only daunting, but seemingly futile at this point.

“Why did you overdose?”

“Were you trying to kill yourself?”

“What’s going on in your life that would make you want to do this?”

All I could do in response was shake my head and say, over and over again, “I don’t know.” I don’t know. I don’t know why I took all those pills. I don’t why I’m so hopeless and depressed. I don’t know why I hate myself so much. I don’t know why I hurt so badly. I don’t know why I just want my life to end. All I know is that I don’t want to feel anything anymore. I’m tired of my life. I’m tired of being me.

The entire scenario – the paramedics, the ambulance, the emergency room, the subsequent seclusion in a psych unit – was all too familiar too me. This was my third suicide attempt in the last two months. My first attempt involved overdosing on liquid Nyquil and slicing my arms, wrists, and neck with a utility knife. During the second episode, I submitted myself to the hospital before I followed through with my plan. And here I was again, in a hospital, choking down charcoal. This time was a bit more dramatic, as I had actually written a suicide note to my parents and, in my medicated state, apparently attacked the paramedics…hence the handcuffs. Even now I can’t say for sure whether or not I truly wanted to die. I figured, whatever happens, happens. If I die, so be it. If I don’t, I guess it wasn’t mean to be. Either way, I didn’t care. Either way, I hoped to somehow escape the overwhelming intensity of the emotions that bombarded me from moment to moment, making life meaningless and unbearable.

Episodes of severe depression and turmoil have become a way of life for me. My first episode occurred at sixteen years old, accompanied by severe anxiety and panic attacks. I have dealt with both depression and anxiety on and off for seven years now. I have also struggled with eating disorders –  first anorexia, then bulimia and uncontrollable binges lasting days at a time. Though I have experienced social anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and excessive shame and guilt for most of my life (largely as a result of childhood sexual trauma), the severe symptoms of depression, as well as other self-destructive behaviors, had become especially prevalent over the last several years.

I could never understand why the very act of living was so difficult for me. Why couldn’t I just be happy and normal? I felt stuck in destructive patterns of behavior that affected my health, my relationships, my schooling, and my work. Over the few months leading up to my first suicide attempt, and continuing on until the third, sexual promiscuity, binging and purging, drinking, and cutting had become the norm for me. I absolutely hated these things, but I felt as if I had no control over myself. I no longer cared what happened to my body, because I hated it. I no longer cared what happened to my spirit, because I already felt dead inside. Dead to everything but pain, loneliness, and self-loathing. I turned my back on God. I was somehow angry at Him for what my life had become and, at the same time, felt I was a filthy, disgusting creature unworthy of His love. I felt that I had nothing, no one, to turn to. I was in complete darkness.

Two weeks ago I was officially diagnosed with chronic, recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder. Though depression is commonly known, BPD (borderline personality disorder) is not. The symptoms of BPD include frantic effort to avoid abandonment; a pattern of intense and unstable relationships; identity confusion and disturbance; impulsivity in a least two areas that are self-damaging; recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior; emotional dysregulation and instability; chronic feelings of emptiness; inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling it; stress-related paranoia or dissociation. I exhibit every single one of these criteria. Believe it or not, I was actually very relieved to hear this. Finally, there was a reason for everything I was feeling and experiencing. I am not a horrible person. I am dealing with an illness that is brought on by a combination of abnormal brain functioning, genetic predisposition, and negative and stressful life events. I have a difficult time dealing with emotions, and I have certain thought patterns and beliefs that are a result of childhood trauma and that lead to unhealthy ways of coping (eating disorders, self-harm, acting out, isolation, etc).

Now that the underlying cause of my distress has been pinpointed, I have hope that I can overcome this illness that has kept me down for so long. Through medication and therapy, I CAN get through the depression, through the BPD, through my eating disorder… and become healthy and whole again. But although meds and therapy sessions are an important part of my recovery, I am fully aware that the strength motivation to achieve full mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health MUST come from somewhere inside ME. And THAT is where my biggest challenge lies.