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.
May 6, 2010
If it’s not one thing, it’s another!
I’ve come down with some kind of nasty virus… Sore throat, fever, body aches. On top of that, I’ve just doubled my dosage of Topomax which is causing numbness and tingling in my face and arms as well as extreme dizziness. I’ve been feeling worse and worse as the day goes on. I knew I should have written my blog post earlier in the day! But nooOOoo (*insert voice inflection*)… Ms. Procrastination here waits until she feels as sick as a dog and can’t write more than a few sentences without wanting to collapse onto the keyboard!
As such, my futile promises of engagement details will have to wait until tomorrow… morning. Yes, I’m making myself write first thing in the morning. An unusual occurrence, as my writing juices are usually hesitant to flow until after the sun goes down… So that will be an interesting experiment. You will all just have to bear with me.
I am off to sleep away this nasty illness. Hopefully my immune system is kind to me tonight!
April 15, 2010
It’s one of those movies that I relate to so strongly that watching it is cathartic, almost a passive way of acting out my inner conflicts. And yes, I suppose it is an avenue through which I relive the past – not in a way that is harmful, but reflective. Susanna Kayson, the character portrayed by Winona Ryder, reminds me so much of myself it’s a bit uncanny. I’ve already written a blog post about the ambivalence towards life that we share. Here are some other examples of things we have in common that stand out the most…
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay in one place.”
~Her understanding of what it feels like to want to hurt yourself:
“I’ll never know what it’s like to be her. But I know what it’s like to wanna die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in, but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.”
~Her confusion about her BPD diagnosis and the stigma surrounding it:
“Borderline WHAT? Borderline between WHAT and WHAT?”
Susanna, reading from a book: “Borderline Personality Disorder. An instability of self-image, relationships and mood…uncertain about goals, impulsive in activities that are self-damaging…Social contrariness and a generally pessimistic attitude are often observed. Well, that’s me.”
Lisa: “That’s everybody.”
~Her need to express herself through writing.
Susanna: “How am I supposed to recover when I don’t even understand my disease?”
Valerie: “But you do understand it. You spoke very clearly about it a second ago. But I think what you’ve got to do is put it down. Put it away. Put it in your notebook. But get it out of yourself. Away – So you can’t curl up with it anymore. Do not drop anchor here, understand?”
~Her dream of being a writer and her inability to live up the others’ expectations.
“What are your plans for the future?” “I’m going to be a writer.” “Yes, but… What do you plan to DO?” “I plan to WRITE.”
~Her persistent denial of her own illness until someone told her otherwise. :
“I didn’t try to kill myself. I had a headache.”
Later in the movie…
Toby: “Look Susanna, you don’t need to be here.”
“I tried to kill myself Toby.”
~Her phases of morbid fascination with death and suicide:
“See, once it’s in your head though, you become this strange, new breed. A life form that loves to fantasize about its own demise… I don’t wanna die. I was just talking.”
~Feeling just barely “normal” enough (or perceived by others as such) to feel like she needed some kind of excuse for being sent to a mental institution.
Cab driver: “What did you do? You look normal.”
Cab driver: “Well, everyone’s sad.”
Susanna: “I… see things.”
~Her depression, confusion, and impulsiveness.
~Her mixed feelings and doubts about herself and whether or not she really is “crazy.”
“Declared healthy and sent back into the world. My final diagnosis: A recovered borderline. What that means, I still don’t know. Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is.”
“Crazy isn’t being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me, amplified. If you ever told a lie, and enjoyed it. If you ever wished you could be a child forever. “
Her experiences in the mental institution bring back memories of my own confinements. Sitting next to my computer is thin, bound notebook with “Patient’s Journal” on the cover. It was given to me during my first stay in the mental hospital. I am a little nervous about opening it. I’ve wanted to write about my experiences for a while now, but haven’t had the courage to revisit those times. There is so much inside me unsaid, and I feel a burning need to tell my stories. However, I am leaving that rather daunting task until tomorrow – hopefully I will be able to focus better, as today my attention is scattered several places. Until then.
February 22, 2010
I’ve got to say, this virus is really kicking my butt! Headache, fever, sore throat, cold… Recipe for misery right there!
But after resting most of the day, I am finally starting to feel better. I’m looking forward to feeling at least 80-90% tomorrow (here’s hoping) and being able to get back to work on my goals. I just realized something though. Not only do I have trouble setting realistic, attainable goals (as I pointed out in my Saturday post), but also in formulating specific goals and writing them down.
I realized this while I was trying to decide on what to write about today. I was feeling a little uninspired so I asked my mom to pitch me some ideas. Her response was, “Well, what are your goals?” I realized that all I could really say was “Umm… good question! Just get healthy I guess.” Good goal, but pretty vague, don’t you think? So I started pondering on what “being healthy” looks like for me. What exactly am I trying to attain? How do I define “healthy” and in what areas?
Dennis Waitley (motivational speaker/writer) gave a pretty good outline for the goal-setting process that I would like to follow. He said “The secret to productive goal setting is in establishing clearly defined goals, writing them down and then focusing on them several times a day with words, pictures and emotions as if we’ve already achieved them.”
Once I’ve settled on a “picture” of what I’m trying to attain and then breaking long-term goals down into specific, short-term goals, the next step is to write them all down. This will be my main project tomorrow –taking time to sit down and really figure out what I’m specifically trying to accomplish during the healing process and who I want to become.
With my goals put into words, the next step is “focusing on them several times a day with words, pictures and emotions as if [I’ve] already achieved them.” The first part of this is fairly simple – I will type them up and put them somewhere I can see them frequently, like above my desk and on the bathroom mirror (and here, of course). It’s the last part of Waitley’s statement that seems a bit trickier “… with words, pictures, and emotions as if we’ve already achieved them.” Hmm. I guess this idea here could be that “You become what you think about.” If I envision myself already achieving my goals, and try to feel the positive emotions associated with the achievement of those ideals, the better my progress will be and the more motivated I will feel to stick to the plan. I could also incorporate my music and artwork into this, surrounding myself with positive and creative influences that will help keep me on track. For example, decorating my mirror with inspiring quotes, or listening to motivating music—anything that will encourage me to keep on going.
I also came across a site with some tips on writing goals that I found pretty helpful: http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/writing-goal.html). To summarize:
1) Write your goal in the positive.
2) Write your goals out in complete detail.
3) Write in the present tense as if they are currently true (Goes right along with Waitley’s quote!)
4) Re-write your goals – words written repeatedly and rephrased have maximum impact.
February 19, 2010
Something incredible happened as I lay there in the hospital bed on that pivotal Sunday. I heard a voice inside me say, “There is a reason you are still alive. You have a work to do.” I was overcome with a feeling of deep purpose, a feeling that there is something very important I need to do with my life. I don’t know what that purpose is yet, but I am confident that as I recover and move forward in my life, I will discover what it is that God put me here to do.
Make the most of every failure. Fall forward.
I feel that writing this blog is perhaps a small part of that purpose. If nothing else, it will give me a reason to keep on going. By making a commitment to myself to write each day, to tell the story of my recovery, I am giving myself a reason to get up every morning. A reason to push forward no matter what obstacles lie before me. At this point in the process, the smallest thing is a struggle, and this is a huge undertaking for me. However, I have a feeling that writing this blog, even if no one else in the world reads it, is going to be the most important part of my recovery.
Since that last time at the hospital, I have had many ups and downs. I have had some successes. I have also had failures. But I have realized that as many times as I fail, I pick myself back up again, brush myself off, and move on. Failures are my greatest opportunities to learn more about myself. This blog is itself a result of “falling forward,” and it will continue to be a source of motivation and strength to me as I embark on this journey to discover who I am. Day by endless day, step by stumbling step, I will become just a little more unbroken.