Friday, December 31, 2010

Stripping - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 8

One of the most dangerous situations I put myself in nightly was when I started stripping. I was unemployed so a couple of friends convinced me to do it. Now, I’m small and athletic so I have a good body, but I also have a very high sense of self worth, a poor sense of body image and a major problem with men touching me. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to be objectified, oggled,and groped, with my body so exposed . I thought I'd be self-concious and degraded.

Quite the opposite happened in fact.

My self-esteem elevated and I learned that I may not be what is attractive to some, but everyone has different tastes and 95% of the time I was made to feel like a goddess. A goddess seducing men out of their money, but still. It was all a role play for me. I partitioned my personality, placed my core in a sacred space to be protected, created a stage name and a faux ‘real’ persona and let my character take over. She was a seductress. A nerdy gothic seductress. My niche was killer when I was on stage, dancing, disrobing. Hot, heavy, metal music, grinding to the rhythm of my hips swinging around the pole, I was free. No thoughts of self consciousness, just me and the music. There was no end to my potential for clients. This seems like a good thing, until it’s not. I put a lot of faith in the bouncers. One night I was doing a private room dance and the guy tried pinning my wrists to get me to kiss him. I wouldn’t. The bouncers had to intervene three times before throwing him bodily from the club. Other nights I’d have men wait for me, follow me to my car, ask me for rides until the bouncers moved them away from my car. Every night men gave me their numbers, promised me money, clothes, flash and adventure if I’d come home to them after my shift. I never did, but I could have. I learned to use my body as my primary means of communication. Dealing with clients was the greater of my trouble but they always fell for my seductive lies leaving my garters filled from emptying their pockets. And they tried to push every inch of advantage they could get away with.

The money coupled with the post feminist feeling of self confidence and liberation, feeling comfortable and beautiful in my own skin was the greatest thing I took from this experience. Never in my life would I have ever considered stripping because my body image was so bad, despite everyone’s protests. When I made the decision I just did it. And didn’t look back. This is why I always try things, jump right in, because worrying about things is always worse than the actual doing of things.

Dangerous Situations - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 7

I find what suits me by jumping in, feet first. If there is a walk of life I don’t understand, an experience I haven’t tried, I just do it. Somewhere along the way I consider the consequences but I don’t feel I’m fully justified in making an assessment of something until I’ve tried it on. The one exception to this is I’ve never done drugs, I’ve been tempted but I value my brain too much. My body though, well, my body is tough, it can take the wear and tear.

When I was younger and thought I wasn’t into guys, I didn’t sit and ponder it, I just started dating girls. I met women on-line and never though twice about meeting them in person. Dating women isn’t exactly dangerous (except occasionally to my sanity), more so the meeting people on line, in real life, by myself. This is one of the best things I ever did though. Gradually I realized, not that I was a lesbian, but that guys weren’t my primary attraction, not my preference. I figured it out by doing, not just thinking.

When I found out a boyfriend of mine was a skinhead, I researched where his beliefs came from and submerged myself in the subculture. I would travel out of state, alone, being a small, white, unimposing female, travelling to huge rallies of skinheads and klan just to understand the mentality of this group that was so foreign to me. In general they were poorly educated racist fucks, but they were also very inclusive and ready to accept me with open arms. Once I put myself in that place, I could make my own judgements and not feel like a hypocrite saying it wasn’t right, because I’d tried it. I was lucky I wasn’t raped and molested considering I am pretty much the embodiment of everything they stand against (of course I didn’t let this be known).

When I’m out with friends, especially dancing, lining up the shots of alcohol and downing them fast enough for the music to drown out the racing thoughts in my mind, one after another letting the world spin into a comfortable blur. Everything seems softer.  Don't think, just drink, again and again.

Even, driving. Hell, I’m a New Yorker, you have to be aggressive on the road or you won’t get anywhere. And you won’t get anywhere fast. I’m less careful about drinking and driving than I should be considering I was arrested for a DUI last summer (charges got dropped). I love to drive, it’s freeing and my mind can roam out on the open road. I drive stick and I have control of my car. Control my car, control my life. It’s the same things really…..

My brain just doesn’t want to say Stop.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Balcony seating...

I haven't spoken to or seen my best friend in over a week. He's also one I've had as a lover. We've ended our physical relationship and he reassures me that our friendship will remain. I'm nervous to see him and his wife tomorrow. I'm friends with them both but having so little contact while I was away (visiting family for a week) I feel our bond diminishing. My hold, my connection to him slipping away. He's starting to feel like a stranger to me. Is this always how it will be?

Acquire. Hold. Release. Regret. Forget.

I try so hard not to be used, feel used, but I'm not sure anymore. When I think about all the kindnesses, the caring, the moments and time spent, it's like seeing someone else, watching a play of my life from the audience. 

I want to get up and leave before the second act.  

Poked and Prodded - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 6

Part of me thinks I should put this in Section 5 with Self-Harm, but I find it to be not quite in that category. Lesson I've learned is many of these bleed together and meld into each other categorically speaking though so maybe I’ll revisit it then as well since:

Criteria 4:  impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Piercings and tattoos. 
While tattoos aren’t so impulsive for me, piercings are. Currently I have 20. Mostly in my ears, but nose, lip and bellybutton are on that list too. I have an Industrial, inner conch, 3 in my outer conch, both traguses and a multitude of lobe and cartilage piercings. Just a few more cartilage and a few more in my belly and possibly some micro-dermals are on my agenda.  I have one impulsive tattoo that I need to get NOW. And a VERY large piece to cover my entire right side that I’ve been designing for months now that I will get very shortly. I have approximately 7 more tattoos that I simply must get. 

It doesn’t help that I have a lot of friends that also love piercings and tattoos. Every time they get a new piece I spawn new ideas to love and need.  The impulse to go out and drop hundreds of dollars on ink is so appealing. Not too mention addicting. Piercings are easier. Someone wants a piercing, sure I’ve got room. One more here, two more there. The cost adds up but the look is fantastic. Fantastically unprofessional. This means I have a hell of a fun time taking out my visible piercings or styling my hair to cover them when I have interviews or start a new job. Maybe not the best decisions I could be making, but I refuse to let Corporate Anything dictate to me who I should be. That in itself is what the status quo might consider impulsive. I consider it just another part of me. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of me or my body modifications be they piercings, tattoos or scarification. They are part of who I am and the roads that my life has lead me down.

Not necessarily an impulsive decision, and this may bleed into Criteria 5 self harm as well, but I don’t think of it that way…. Suspension. Full back hook suspension is an experience I am dearly looking forward to trying. The pain coupled with the adrenaline rush is a high too appealing to pass up. I’ve wanted to try this for years and never yet had the chance. I will though. Oh yes, I will.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Smoking – Criteria 4 Impulsive Behavior / Part 5

 I’m a smoker.

I quit smoking almost 9 years ago. Cold turkey, just quit buying cigarettes. It’s a terrible habit, even worse for my health.
Why the re-start? When I started my new meds I had a craving for sugar and cigarettes. I’m a health freak. This couples with my eating disorders and knowing my families medical history I’m always very careful about my health. This is why starting to smoke again is an impulsive behavior for me.  Alone in my head too long and I start to ruminate, to over think, to worry and wander down destructive paths. Pervasive anxiety. Smoking is a stimulant but with the effect of droning out the noise in my mind to a brain numbing buzz. When I sit outside in the frigid winter air listening to my cigarette sizzle it burns my thoughts into submission with each inhale. Maybe it’s just the act of inhaling, a zen breathing technique coupled with the nicotine high.  Regardless it slows down my mind and manages the anxiety that has been creeping back. These new meds may be good for depression and obsession, but they do nothing for my anxiety.  Smoking works wonders for the turbulence. I can step back from the crowd, remove myself completely, enter a cool world and let myself calm. Maybe it’s the removal from the crowd that I feel so alone in. When you feel alone surrounded by people it’s disconcerting. When you feel alone but you’re actually sitting by yourself removed from the crowd at least the feeling makes sense. Either way, for now, I’m glad I started smoking again. One small point for my sanity. I can’t work on all my issues at once, but I can do what I can do to make them more manageable while I wait to tackle the whole.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Questions from across the Borderline....

A follower asked:

I'm guessing you've had close romantic relationships with people. I saw your page and said hey, this could help me. I've been in an off and on relationship with a girl who I am 99% sure has some sort of disorder such as is described here. Just wondering how those relationships turned out for you. Any advice? I've been trying for years. It's so hard.
My relationships tend to be turbulent and intense, but not permanent. Then again, nothing is ever permanent until it is. Currently I’m single, if that tells you anything (of course I’m taking time off to just work on me - I feel to unstable to inflict myself on someone else). For me the best thing that helps is honesty and reassurance. It can be a little daunting to constantly reassure someone that you’re not going to leave, but small things, random texts to say your thinking about them, little things you know make her smile… just being honest about how you feel about her and telling her. Telling her, is the main thing, don't assume she knows. Include her in the plans you want to do, use ‘us’ and ‘we’ statements instead of just ‘I’ or ‘me’. Also if you think it’s possible for her, cognitive behavior therapy has done wonders for me. If she’s open to the possibility of therapy it could be very beneficial but this is something that must be brought up very tactfully and with the message that you want her to be the happiest with herself that she can be; her happiness is what's important to you, that it will make your relationship stronger and you will be there beside her the whole time. With therapy it often helps to have an objective third person point of view, that isn't emotionally attached to you, to provide stable input. Hope this helps.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Black Swan


Intense. Artistic insanity personified.

I have never been so triggered by a cinematic piece before, ever, in my entire life.

If you ever wondered what it feels like to be inside my head, see this piece.

I could kill myself and die believing that people understand the pressure that I've felt my entire life.

See this. I have. I will. Again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Left side of the menu: Bulimia - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 4

Hi. My name is Haven. I’m eating disordered, bulimic.

Food is my drug. My addiction.

The problem with having food as your drug though, is you can’t quit. You can’t give it up cold turkey to give yourself time to recover. That’s called starvation, which may put you back in control, but not for long before it kills you. Conundrum, indeed.

You can’t starve yourself, not when food is your comfort, something you can reach for to fill the void inside. Fill the void in your stomach and it’s like you’ve filled the void in your heart. Nourishing your stomach fills your hearts need for sustenance. Except it doesn’t last long. Usually only long enough to feel like you’ve destroyed any hold on control you had by denying yourself the fill of food. And then it becomes a desperate attempt to regain that control. Purging, exercising, punishment, painful reminders that you let slip the control that you value so rigidly.

Where does this need for control come from? It’s different for everyone. This is a deeper psychological delving than you may care to know but I remember the exact incident that sparked my downward spiral into self-consciousness. I was 12 years old, just starting puberty and beginning to fill out to the woman I would be today. As gently as they could, my parents sat me down and told me that I needed to watch what I was eating, I was getting heavier, which would reduce my performance for the multitude of sports I was involved in. I needed to weigh less to perform better.I was crushed. It was as if they couldn’t accept me, love me, if I didn’t meet their standard of physical perfection. Of course they didn’t know that this was normal because they’d never been through it before (my mom was always lanky and skinny unlike the women on my father’s side who are shorter and curvy), me being the first born and all. I felt like I had let them down, let me down. Putting on weight clearly meant disapproval. If it didn’t they wouldn’t be sitting there telling me this. If they loved me unconditionally, weight wouldn’t matter, but it did, so losing weight must translate into earning their approval. Their love. I was distraught. Because I was currently disappointing them. I left to cry quietly in my room. This was the night of my very first binge. I lashed out and railed against what they wanted. I wasn’t good enough?!? I’ll show them not good enough. Afterwards of course I felt like even more of a failure. I vowed never to let that happen again. Anorexia didn’t work for me. My relationship with food was too consuming to avoid it. About 6 months later I discovered how to purge.

Purging I finally felt a sense of control. I could eat whatever I wanted, and it wouldn’t affect my body. I could vomit up the things inside me that made me bad. Purge the evil from my body. I didn’t just purge though. I am still currently addicted to diet pills, I was a laxative/diuretic junkie, and I would/still exercise compulsively. Anything to maintain control of the thing that has such a hold over me. It works.  

I wouldn’t have to if I could control what I put in, in the first place, but that’s my addiction. I can’t stop. Just one of those please, Oh, maybe a bite here, a bit there. Well I’ve already eating this much, might as well have another, and another… until all control is lost and I’ve indulged in every decadence I can stuff into my stomach. I failed. Failed my self-control. I had to regain that control. So I purged the evil from my body and everything felt fine. Again. Until the next time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Drinking and Drugging - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 3

 Alcohol and anti-psychotics don’t mix. You’re probably saying, why would you even consider
drinking after you just started new medication? Because I like wine, and I wanted to enjoy my trip out to the wineries, that’s why. I’d be lying if I said that was the only time though. I mix alcohol with my medication almost constantly. Or benzo’s with my meds. It’s dangerous. I don’t care.

I like to drink, it makes me feel less dissociated. Of course I always end up eating more, feel fat, but at least I feel connected to my own body. Of course then I hate the body that I’m attached too. It’s a vicious cycle.

It’s not usually that much. I’ll take my meds as prescribed and have a couple glasses of wine or half of a Xanax (never a whole one) to calm me down. It doesn’t sound like much, but when your meds clear through your liver it can’t be good to throw other drugs on top of it, make it work double time. Double the work for twice the effect. Quadruple the effect really, because drugs and alcohol work synergistically, which means that they act on each other to create an affect larger than the component sum.

When I’m alone I’m left to my own thoughts. It’s not a pleasant place to be. I tell myself I’ll just have one glass, ok, maybe two. By the time my mind starts to calm down I’ve easily polished off a bottle of wine by myself over the course of an evening. It’s not hard.

It’s not safe. Especially when I’m already out and about or need to drive somewhere. I learned my lesson hard about drinking and driving. I was arrested and charged with a DUI last summer but the charge was dropped (story for a different day) so I never drive when I’m trashed or even when I have the potential to be drunk. But when your meds clear through your liver you get drunk faster and on less, so there’s really no way to tell how much is in your system or when you’re safe. Most days I care, some days I’m reckless. Especially if it’s just a short trip somewhere.

What’s worse, alcohol is a depressant. When you’re clinically depressed drinking alcohol produces precisely the opposite effect that you want to have. It may feel good in the moment but it depresses your system even more. Spinning me down into a deeper depression the next day once I wake up.

I sleep worse, I eat more, and now I’ve noticed a very obvious tremor to my hands (betting on this being the anti-psych/SSRI + alcohol mix effect). I can’t draw, typing is hard, my concentration is fine, but I feel like crap. Why do I still drink? It feels good in the moment. I just wish I could remember what the consequences feel like the next day, in advance.  

Don’t Drink and Drug.

Now, if only I could take my own advice.

Shoplifting - Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 2

Some days I see something small (it’s always something small) that I want but the price tag just isn’t acceptable. Who the hell pays $15 for nail polish? $9 for cheese? $40 for diet pills? $55 for a ring?
Sometimes it’s not even stuff that I want but the challenge itself that is alluring. I never NEED to do this, but the jolt of adrenaline that spikes my curiosity is irresistible.  It’s like a runner’s high that triggers your endorphins. The high lasts for hours. 
I really have no excuse for this. I was arrested for shoplifting when I was 16 but my record was expunged when I became legal. It’s a challenge, a rush, to see if I can get away with it, and I do. I no longer look like your typical teenage shock rock goth star. I don’t have the image that people notice on surveillance. I can palm something and have it up my sleep as it appears I am putting it back on the shelf in two seconds flat.
If I got caught the penalties would be devastating. I have a very professional career path that could be ruined but I don’t care. I do it anyways. Is it a cry for attention? Do I want to get caught? Hell, no.  I just want to get away with it, and get free stuff. Stuff I like to have but not enough to pay for it. Corporate America is greedy and materialistic. I don’t usually take from small vendors, mostly your mass produced consumer conglomerate like Wal-Mart or the like. They get things at whole sale and jack up the price 1000%. I know it only costs 10 cents to make this $10 tea tray, and yet, they get away with ripping me off every day.
A penny saved is a taste of their own medicine.

Spending Sprees - Criteria 4 Impulsive Behavior / Part 1

Impulsive spending is a BIG problem. Without careful monitoring you can lose your house, your car, the love and respect of those around you, as you’re thrown into a prison of debt and financial ruin. This is especially devastating when you have other people that rely on your for their wellbeing. Fortunately this isn’t my crisis.
I hate money. I love money. Money creates worry, stress and a lot of anxiety. I don’t gamble. I’d rather gamble with my life, than my money.  I always manage to have enough put away to take care of the necessities. I don’t miss my rent, or get my utilities turned off, but I put almost no thought into just how much I manage to save and I never have any idea exactly how much is in the bank. Thinking about it upsets me. I always feel like I have enough in there so I don’t check. When I do check it inevitably is less than what I was expecting. However, I love being able to get things for people I adore.

I don’t spend thousands of dollars at a time or anything. For me it’s an item here, an item there, sometimes a little more, just this once, ok just one more time, I won't get anything tomorrow how about that, well I want this now too. I’ll fall in love with a rock-a-billy dress and NEED to own it so I’ll buy two in slightly different styles and colors, dropping a couple hundred. Or this other thing that will fill the gap on my counter top, it's an investment, I'll never have to buy something like this again. It's justified, right? 

Spending on myself always makes me feel a little guilty though. I know I don’t really need these things. However, spending on other people makes me feel good. I love to buy things, do things, get things for the people I care about. Because I have such a hard time connecting to and expressing my emotions, it’s one way I can tangibly show I care.  With food especially. I LOVE to cook and bake. It helps that I’m also quite good at it. I’ll get it in my head to try exotic or gourmet four-course meals, big family style dinners and drop $75 to $100 on groceries alone. If I can get stuff that I NEED in order to do things for other people it’s much more justifiable to me. I feel much less guilty.
Spending money always makes me feel guilty. This feeling of guilt is how I recognize this as a problem.
I do have an occupation where I make enough money to not get in immediate trouble. I’m single and don’t have kids (thank goodness) so all I need to worry about is me. However, I don’t have job security in this economy so it’s not a wise idea to not have a safety net.  If I’m not careful I’m always afraid I’ll end up spending myself out.
Like when I’d been in such destructive situations that I was willing to exhaust all my resources just to get out of the environment. I had the choice of staying in an abusive household or use everything I had to get out. I was prepared to put myself into debt to afford a new place because I had to get out RIGHT NOW.
If I have money now, I can get things. If I wait, I might not have the money in the future and I’ll regret not being able to get things when I did. I’ve worked so hard, or sacrificed so much I deserve to splurge a little, fill that void in my closet like it will fill the void in my heart. Or if I can buy all those ingredients and make a dinner so delicious that everyone is sated, it’s as if I’ve sated my need for their love and appreciation. I can go out of my way and get things that I know they couldn’t or wouldn’t think to get on their own, a token of my appreciation to garner their favor.
I create lists upon lists of things I would love to have and slowly, but steadily chip away at them. Sometimes only one or two little things here, oh maybe one bigger thing there, then 3 or 4 things here, well these aren’t for me and they’re so perfect for {insert name here} they really  need to have this now… little by little it all adds up to a giant gaping hole in my bank account.  If I have money coming in, I will have money going out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Look before you leap? No, thanks. - Criteria 4: Impulsive Behavior

Onto the fun stuff. According to the DSM IV the next definable criteria states:

Criteria 4:  impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.  

Once again I will do this in multiple parts because I have a lot of these. It’s amusing though, because of my dissociative tendencies and my need to over think everything, I don’t appear to be an impulsive person. Below the placid surface lies a turbulent sea and I tend to take what I want from the world.

My list of impulses include:

Spending sprees
Drinking and Drugging
Piercings and tattoos
Dangerous situations / stripping
Sex and More Sex
Eating Disorders/bulimia

So let’s begin with the lesser of my evils and work our way up to the more interesting.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Surrealizing - Criteria 9 / Part 4: Derealization

The final segment of my Criteria 9: Dissociated series is Derealization. Derealization: is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems strange or unreal.

For me this comes across as an unnatural brightness, things are too in focus. Hyperfocused. The outline of objects, things, houses, horizons, are too sharp. Sun is too bright, the air is too bright, colors are too crisp.  Everything has a stark contrast and I feel like I’m removed from the scene, like it was erected and I’m walking through a movie set. There lacks a depth to the reality. There’s no deeper attachment to anything because it’s as if those things weren’t placed there long enough ago to have formed an attachment to them.  

It’s oddly beautiful as a surreal observation.

This happens relatively often but it’s not as intense as my depersonalization. For example, I was in my Eating Disorder Anonymous meeting the other day. The room itself was hyper lit and it looked like a herd of children had vomited crayons all over the walls. The room itself was very vivid but the sheer brightness triggered me right into a derealized state. It was almost dizzying. It felt like something encompassed my brain, pressing to a common center point.

Or another time, I was simply driving home in the late afternoon. The sun was low enough to be just over the horizon. There were trees closely spaced on the side of the road. As I would pass each tree the sun would blot out, then flash bright as I drove past an gap. From my peripheral vision I would see flash bright, dark shadow, flash bright, dark shadow like an old 8mm film reel being played on the edge of my vision. It made me feel almost as if I was floating.

It’s never an out of body experience or anything such as that. I always maintain a focus that I am doing whatever it is that I’m doing, but my perception is hyperfocused and surreal.

Dissociated Emotions

In the moment they are real, outside of the moment they are gone.

Feeling Inside, Outside - Criteria 9 / Part 3: Depersonalization

Continuing along the dissociated path of Criteria 9, my specific interest is especially in Depersonalization. This is my most intense break from reality.
Sometimes I feel as if I'm in the wrong body. Like I'm watching myself, my body, do things from someone else's perspective. Cognitively I know it's my body but the person that feels what's going on is somewhere else, removed. My feelings are gone. Here, but part of me is left somewhere else, on the outside, not inside me where it belongs. Going through the motions of what I know I would normally do but without any connection to the motivating forces that would drive me to do these things. 

I don’t process emotions directly, internally. I process them from a dissociative place, “outside”, of my sense of Self. This creates a huge disconnect in how I think and how I feel towards the things I am thinking about. It’s like having two separate bodies; one to process thoughts, one to process feelings, but I’m only connected to one at any given time.  They don’t work symbiotically like they should. I either experience as an observer with detached emotions or I FEEL everything but don’t temper it with my rationale. Where most people have a natural balance I can either experience my emotions, my environment, or I can observe them. Seperately.

Having taken an objective look at, or talk about, my emotions I feel fine. I feel fine because I feel nothing. The act of talking about my emotions or experiences, causes me to not feel them.  But since feeling nothing is better than feeling emotionally destroyed, nothing = fine. When you can recognize that a situation should produce an emotional reaction, and instead all you feel is {blank}, it can be very disconcerting. It seems like nothing was ever there in the first place. Except it’s not only this one incident…

It’s with everything.

I can wrap myself in an experience. Throw myself into the heat of a moment but afterwards, all I have is a recording. No emotional attachment to the memory. It's akin to taking a physical step back from a situation to look at it objectively, only to be left with a very noticeable lack-of-emotion. Because I am no longer 'in the moment' it's like trying to remember emotions experienced in a dream. I wonder if they were ever real because after having stepped back, the closeness is no longer there. On the plus side, nothing phases me. Things that should have reduced me to tears or at the very least made my heart ache, are now after thoughts left in the wake of yesterday.

Imagine this. You and a person you care for are standing a few feet apart, holding a rope just long enough so it’s pulled taught. The rope is a symbolic representation of the emotional connection you share. When you take a step back the rope is not long enough and your end slips from your hand and falls to the ground. You can still see the person, still see that person holding their end of the rope, but you no longer feel the connection of the rope fibers even though you remember having held the rope. It’s like dropping the rope and trying to maintain/remember the feel of the fiber. Physically you can’t.

It’s disconcerting to not feel. Surreal.

Sleep walking through my own consciousness.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quotes from the Borderline

" hard it must be to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, cut off from what one hopes for!... There can be no peace without hope."

     ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague

Here, There, Nowhere - Criteria 9 / Part 2: Dissociative Disorders

The next episode in our Criteria 9 series is Dissociative Disorders. 

Dissociation is one of my more severe challenges. I will cover this in three parts. The general Dissociative Disorder. Depersonalization, and Derealization (this spectrum also covers things like Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dissociative Fugue and DD non-specified… but since those aren’t my issues I’m not going to cover them now).

What is a Dissociative Disorder? Dissociative Disorders are defined as conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity and/or perception. Dissociation is a partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s conscious or psychological functioning.  The hypothesis is that symptoms can result to the extent of interfering with a person's general functioning.

It’s actually pretty normal for people to feel brief instances of Dissociation such as Psychological numbing. Psychological numbing is a mental mechanism to prevent psychological trauma. The mind chooses to ignore thoughts or emotions relating to a specific event, occurrence or body of knowledge, emotions, or ideas. It’s an important function for sanity when someone whose basic moral principles or ideology would be destroyed by comprehending the full implications of an action or occurrence.

When this feeling state becomes persistent, that's when it’s identified as a disorder.

So what causes Dissociative disorders? In short, it’s a defense mechanism. At least that’s thought to be the primary reason for it. It’s a way for the mind to protect itself from extreme emotional trauma, prolonged stress and anxiety or alternatively, a response to drug use. Part of your mind and memory are compartmentalized to a different feeling state so you can process them separately, or not at all.

My version of Dissociation (Depersonalization and Derealization to a lesser extent) isn’t like a total break from reality. I don’t have amnesiac fugue states or multiple personalities. I can always, ‘check in’ and know that I am actually in the real world, I just don’t ‘feel’ like I am real. This is Depersonalization....

Madness of the Mind - Criteria 9 / Part 1: Paranoid Ideation

I'm skipping ahead to DSM IV criteria 9. This will be at least a four part series.

Criteria 9: transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

For a Borderline personality that has such a tenuous grasp on connectivity, every little social queue is up for interpretation. Always on the look out for a sign that abandonment looms, that what you’ve been told is a lie, any reason why the people you fear to lose are actually out to hurt you. There’s a dozen different places a turn of phrase could be taken depending on how the inflection falls or the way body language speaks. A Borderline personality will think of them all, and often settle on the worst. Expect the worse, and you can prepare for it. Hope for the best, and you’ll be disappointed. It doesn’t help that he/she is often right. Doing so a BP may also set her/himself up for that fall by creating the circumstances for that very thing to happen. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

If I have an inordinate amount of stress or very unstable relationships, then I begin to second guess everything. My hold on what people said vs. what they meant becomes nebulous. Everything has a potential double meaning. Did they really mean that? Yes? No? No. They’ve only told you this thing, allowed you in, to get your hopes up, so they can turn around and take it away, hurt you. You could lose everything you’ve struggled so hard to hold onto.

In short, I over think EVERYTHING. The downside of being too smart is it’s possible to consider too many possibilities. See every fork of every thought and ruminate on all the potential paths that could possibly be.

Normally, however, I take almost an opposite extreme. I can be too literal in my interpretation of people, thoughts, and things. I choose to accept what people say at face value and expect them to live up to their word. Don’t confuse this with trusting what people say, because I rarely do, but in order to lessen the paranoid ideation, I take words for what they are and act on them as such. This allows me to control the obsessive ruminations and removes my responsibility for when other people don’t live up to what they say.

How do you make these thoughts, stop? You can’t. At least, I’ve never found a way. Speaking up, communicating the irrational thoughts that buzz through your brain, helps. Start your sentence with, “This may not be rational but I have this {insert thought} in my brain, can you help me figure it out so I can move past it….” This way the people around you understand and can clarify an interpreted intent.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"To grasp life and meaning, we assume constancy where it does not exist. We name experiences, emotions, and subjective states and assume that what is named is as enduring as its name. Human beings blessed and cursed with consciousness - especially consciousness of their own being - think in terms of names, words, symbols."
     ~ James F. T. Bugental, 1999, Psychotherapy Isn't What You Think

… What happens when you no longer feel this constancy of  terms? 


Said Alice to the Caterpillar - Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance

Number 3 on the DSM IV spectrum is identity disturbance, but I think this ties in closely with number 9 which is where Severe Dissociation comes into play so I’ll cover these in series. One post after the other.

3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Identity disturbance. For me this is a shifting depending on my environment, my mood, my company. An ex of mine used to point this out to me. I don’t think I ever fully understood what he meant when he would tell me I was like different people. My personality changing depending on what we were doing. Unstable sense of who I am.

Caterpillar: Who... are... you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I've changed so much since this morning, you see...
Caterpillar: No, I do not C, explain yourself.
Alice: I'm afraid I can't explain myself, you see, because I'm not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can't put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn't clear to me.

Whether I’m at work, with a group of friends, even in my own head the way I identify, socially/sexually, is transient. I tell myself I’m fluid; that one thing bleeds to another, never solidifying into one stable set of features grouped to form a whole. Travelling from group to group with skill points of Illusion, Subterfuge, and Charisma. Every personality point is part of you, but some scenes don’t utilize all skill sets. So for the Borderline Personality this translates as coming across as very different people depending on the setting.

To me it feels normal to be more outgoing, loud, wilder when I’m out dancing, it’s appropriate there. But what's more I feel like I'm that kind of person.  It's not an act, I AM wilder. When I’m hanging out with friends, I’m quieter, my intelligence comes out and I joke, heap on the sarcasm and enjoy people’s company. I'm a nerd girl. When I’m at work I am reserved, aloof, stone cold and efficient; my personality almost completely held back. I'm an efficient machine. When I’m with my family I am open, my walls crumble, I’m more melancholy but loved. I'm small. To me this normal. The variations are not subtle. Not one overarching personality with small variations, appropriate for the environment, it’s a completely different set of traits depending on the location. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, maybe everybody feels like this. To me it seems like certain things are appropriate for certain places, and not for others, so depending on what the circumstances are, will decide which parts of me show. Which me, is the real me?

At work I adopt a more business like persona. Amusingly I make no effort to conceal my piercings or tattoos, things that are glaringly different in my professional setting, I’m waiting for the rejection. Though I do wear clothes that are completely appropriate for the office if not my personal style. My work persona is by far my least stable. By this I mean, I feel like I am the most out of my own skin, trying to fit an image I imagine to be acceptable for a professional setting but which is not me. I don’t maintain this character well. I always feel out of place, if not like an outright fraud, even though I know I am capable of doing my work better than anyone else. I do not have any sense of solidarity with my working environment or the kinds of people in my office. It’s a place to go where I waste 8-10 hours a day and come home with a monetary exchange.

I am anatomically female but I don’t feel like a girl. I’ve never been a boy so I can’t say I feel like a boy, though I do value masculine qualities more than feminine. I have no gender identity. Or if you ask I will tell you I gender ID neutral. In the GLBTT community I would call myself Queer.
I don’t see rigid definitions. I don’t believe in absolutes. With no absolutes comes a certain fluidity that blends from one area to another. Like a chameleon changing colors to fit the foliage as you walk through an unknown social jungle. The leaves and bark may change but the wind still bites without a solid shield from the elements.  

Because the Borderline may not have a full sense of self they may adopt the group culture in a desperate attempt to fit in, not be excluded. This works as long as the group is a stable set of characters. If things begin to vary from the norm, change, people have problems or things become socially tumultuous, this will affect the Borderline’s sense of stability. The group is falling apart, so she/he will feel like she is falling apart as well. If she/he’s based so much of herself on the group dynamic, and the group dynamic fails, it’s as if who she is crumbling down around her and she has nothing to grab onto for stability or control. Changing to fit the group has never been my social experience, personally, though that crumbling stability seems to happen all too often.

For me, in smaller social settings, I don’t blend. I stubbornly stick to who I want to be, think I am. I am me, I’m just not sure what that means most days. Not being able to attain a group identity, to fit in a with a set of people, always makes me feel Other. An outsider, looking in. I laugh with the group but don’t feel included in the joke.

This bleeds into my Dissociation, especially when my body image is a mess...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Demon on a pedestal - Criteria 2: Idealization & Devaluation

The next criteria laid out in the DSM IV goes like this. People with BPD may display:

2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation : They may idealize potential caregivers or lovers quickly, demand to spend a lot of time together, then switch quickly from idealizing them to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not "there" enough.

Where does the line between true affection, obsessive devotion, and heartfelt betrayal become skewed?

For me it takes a very long time to reach this point. I'm more likely to try and put people off getting close to me at first. I also differ in that I need to spend time alone. A lot of time alone. While, yes, I would love to spend lots of time with select people, I am easily overwhelmed by people and need to have time away from everyone. When I want to focus inwards my brain is too busy to drown out the external noise and it feels like a tidal wave of social obligation. Solitude is my life raft.

If someone sticks around long enough to breach the walls of my superficial fun, contrariness and melancholy I will eventually hold them closer than anyone else.  Like a death grip on my heart.

It usually plays out like this: Once again, you meet someone new (even though you swore you wouldn't). You share so much in common, practically everything in common. In fact, they’re probably the perfect example of exactly what you look for in a confidant! They can do no wrong. Everything they do inspires you to be exactly what you'd hoped you always could be. The world is a springtime musical, frolicking with puppies and ethereal music in a field of opiates and LSD.

Begin Cycle: Everything is wonderful, you talk for hours, spend as much free time together as you can, laugh, bask in each others love, friendship, whatever... Until one day they can’t do something you ‘need’ to do, or want to do. Sure it’s just this time, and it’s something small, so you brush it off. Then a few days later, it happens again. They’ve let you down.

Oh sure, it may be some small necessary thing in their life, that takes obvious priority, but that thing has pulled their attention away from you! You See red. What could really be so important? Don’t they understand what friendship means? Why won’t they put the effort into it that they had before? Clearly everything they had said now means nothing. Everything was a lie. They are a hypocrite and worse. Using you for the benefits that you bring to the table. What do you mean your have a meeting? a doctors appointment? We had plans!

Logically the brain says, of course you have to take care of such things, but that other thing... That other insidious voice taunts that you’ve been betrayed. The friend you thought you knew is now the enemy. This “friend” never really meant anything they’d ever said to you… b/c this time, this one time, they could not fulfill the role they’ve found themselves in. Their life is now affecting your life in a way in which you have no control, forcing your life to turn from the fields of music to a deeper well of disappointment. Down the stairs, into the cellar darkness.

Control. Out of control.

When she was good, she was very good. But when she was bad, she was very, very bad. No middle ground. Relationships are all, or nothing. He/She is all, or nothing. I, am all or nothing. Angels and Demons in rooms of black and white. There is no grey area or room for middle ground. 

What we need help understanding, is sometimes the paint gets mixed and there is an entire spectrum of grey, an entire rainbow of color, in fact.

I may want to be everything that person needs. Until I don’t. While my attention is there I will pool all my energy into the wants of someone I care for. I offer as much and usually they accept. Somewhere, though, I hope the same sentiment is returned. Without my having to ask, but if I do ask it should be offered automatically because look at everything I’ve done for them! When they can’t reciprocate it feels as if the coin has come up tails. It begins to smack of an advantage being taken. Why is it good enough that they can take what I offer but won’t offer their own as well? Or consider the opposite, they don’t ask for anything, they don't accept something or deny something offered from the heart. Why don’t you want this assistance, this help? This thing? Am I no longer good enough to provide this?

This one night they’re not going out with you, not chatting with you, they must be doing something else, spending time elsewhere, what kind of friend ignores you when you obviously need a shoulder to lean on, for time spent otherwise?!? As your world crashes down … Then they text or call, and the world slips gently back into place. At least for th e moment.  End Cycle. Rinse. Repeat.

Where does the line between true affection, obsessive devotion, and heartfelt betrayal become skewed? When there is no emotional memory; if the person or object is not in the now, it may as well not exist. Or ever have existed.

I worry about the time I've lost in reminiscing, ruminating, my energy squandered where it could have been turned to brighter things. Then again, I wouldn’t be me, if I didn't turn to the past to help me figure out my way into the future. Even if it is just to find a way to hide these thoughts or focus them into a finer tool to use.

I’ve learned to hide these thoughts, the actions that fall from them. Fake it, as if these things don’t bother me while my heart crumbles inside. All there is to do, is get through the next moment, and the next, until the next thing comes along to lift you up.

Note: Writing about this is an experience of its own. I feel no attachment to these words. It's as if i'm seeing someone else fingers skimming the black keyboard, typing the words that appear on this screen. Recording someone else's memories, that have been relayed to me but I have not experienced myself. Dissociated.
What we need is a way to hold on, to understand that relationships are a continuum, not just points on a grid. If anyone has any help for this, I would dearly love to know it.

Cake and Cigarettes...

Amusing incident last night. You know that old addage about how a lady never reveals her age? Well, I'm 29. I quit smoking 9 years ago but last night I was very restless and for some reason, craving cigarettes. Cigarettes and frosting/icing. I'm eating disordered. I've been bulimic for almost 17 years but in recovery for the past 7 until a few months ago. I don't like cake, just frosting.

Back to the point. I haven't bought a back of cigarettes in nearly a decade. I went to the gas station on the corner, asked for a pack of Camel Lights. The attendant asked for my ID, which I promptly gave him. He looked at me, looked at my ID, asked me my age, I told him.... than informed me the I must be at least 18 to buy cigarettes ::shockface:: He wouldn't sell me a pack of cigarettes with my state issued driver's license b/c he thought I looked too young! I guess that's a compliment, and I took it as such, but really now? I was both annoyed and amused at the same time.

I went to the grocery and got cigarettes and a cake. Sat in the parking lot with my oreo cake. Had a few fingers full of frosting before I was disgusted enough with myself to dump the rest of the cake onto the parking lot and took off to drive aimlessly and enjoy blackening my lungs. 

Btw, the new flame retardant shit they put in cigarettes... bullshit. It's fucks with manual dexterity. Frankly, if some fucker is dumb enough to fall asleep with a cigarette in their mouth they probably deserve to get burned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'll take an order of Happiness please, with fries on the side...

Honestly, I love the idea of choosing to alter my brain chemistry. It's the ultimate expression of choosing who you want to be, even ahead of what your biology says. To not be sad, detached, depressed, anxious, I like the concept. I choose to be a happy loving person, please, with an order of fries on the side. 

People often have mixed feelings about medication that alters brain function. I know many that dislike the idea of meds that affect the brain, drugs that tinker with mood and personality. Personally, offense intended or not, when people say they are averse to the idea of tinkering with things that affect your brain, it's usually because they've never had problems serious enough, for long enough durations, that it becomes something crucial. Consideration is no longer given pause. 

I don't actually believe that BPD is a treatable disease. It's not something like Bipolar that you can measure, track and throw lithium at. BPD is more of a categorical Label that encompasses a whole group of problems. So it's not the BPD that is being treated but the identifiable symptoms like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, dissociation, etc. that my psych is trying to treat for.

I fought medication my entire life. Well, since I was 12 and it became apparent to me that I was not exactly normal. I also fought therapy, but that's a tale for a different day. 

I think in many people's life, they hit a point where something drastic must be done or there won't be a tomorrow for something drastic to be done in. Along with my BPD and Dissociative diagnosis. I am also Major/Clinical Depressive. This was also the only consistent diagnosis I’ve ever been given {therapy and diagnosis are a post for different times).Suicide has never been an option for me. I don’t believe in an afterlife. There is no god saint to welcome me through pearly gates. It was more like slipping into ambivalence. I don’t want to die, but if something were to threaten my life, I might not do anything to stop it. Nothing dramatic, just, numb. This life is all I have, so when I begin to lose attachment to the only chance I have, it’s time for something new to be tried.


I don’t roll over so easy. So finally, FINALLY, I accepted help and braved the roller coaster of mind altering drugs.

I’ve tried Lexapro, Zoloft, Klonopin and Xanax. Klonopin and Xanax work wonders for my anxiety but they knock me out. But hey, it’s hard to be anxious when you’re unconscious. Lexapro zapped my ability to orgasm. To me, this is unacceptable. Sex is one of the few things I derive unadulterated pleasure from. Not that just the act itself isn’t fun, but I’m not willing to feel nothing from the waist down for the rest of my life. I’m sure you understand. Zoloft worked fine while there was nothing to bother me, which is to say, it didn’t work at all. After being on Zoloft for a week I was in the Psych ER (story for a different day). Once again, I bottomed out and went back to my Dr. After the initial round of standard questions he asked me why I’d come to him and not straight to the Psych ER.

Have you ever been to the Psych ER? It’s a shithole wrapped in cellophane. No thanks. But I didn’t tell him that. He directed me to call a psychiatrist. I started seeing a therapist the next week, and a week after that finally managed to find a psychiatrist. Dr. T is my Therapist, Dr. P is my Psychiatrist. So after a trial round of a new drug, Dr. P has decided to up my dose of Symbyax. It’s a combination anti-psychotic and SSRI. Since I have a personality and mood disorder , along with sleep issues and eating, anxiety, laundry list o’problematicas, this drug is meant to stabalize my moods to a baseline norm while also working on my seratonin levels to eliminate my depression…. It’d had some affec ut not nearly enought. Today I saw Dr. P for the second time. He upped my dose.

What’s the cost of sanity you ask? Really fucking high. My mother may feel my life is priceless, but my insurance company only thinks it’s worth about $150/month.

That’s what you get when all you are is a number in their system. For the price I’m paying, beyond what my insurance covered, I better see results. You’ll be sure to know if I don’t. 

A disease called Friendship - Checklist Criteria 1: Abandonment

I will begin my look into the specific criteria listed in the DSM IV that qualify one as having BPD. Once I take a technical look at what it means to be me, I will branch off into the personal, the gritty, the mundane and macabre.

For those not in the know, the DSM IV is the experts guide into madness. It is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illness. This is what psychiatrists, thereapists, councilors, doctors, etc. reference in order to pinpoint a diagnosis and ultimately, bill your insurance company.

First up on the DSM Checklist for BPD is:

1.) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Abandonment issues. If there's one thing that makes us sound like clingy, lonely, emo-kids, it's probably this. Someone never loved us enough not to leave. Did not see us worth the effort to stick it out for. So how do you keep people from leaving? You crawl under their skin until you are so fused with their being there is no longer the chance of escape. False.

At least in my experience, it's easier to not get too attached in the first place. Becoming too attached is a recipe for hurt, disaster and disappointment.  That's not to say that it doesn't happen. Some days it seems inevitable.

If we’re so afraid to be left, why let anyone close at all. No one wants to be alone. Not really. Humans are social creatures, pack animals. They thrive in groups, growing stronger as each contributes to the herd until all the sustenance is used up and they begin to gnaw at the bones of the weak.

Some days the loneliness is palpable. We need to reach out to remember we are part of a whole. Other times it’s almost insidious. Like friendship is a disease that has snuck up and infected you when you least expected it. A friendly word here or there, leadings to general inquiries of well being and before you know it, you’re discussing art, philosophy, the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. You’re attached before you ever saw it coming. One small symptom, then another, and before you know it you have stage four cancer and need weekly chemo just to function.

But now that it’s here, how long til it goes away? Is taken away? When will this disease called 'friendship' be 'cured'?

Boundaries were made to be pushed. If you can act out, act up, push back and yet they stay, isn’t that a testament to how dedicated they are to you? Your friendship? Your relationship? If you don’t test these boundaries how do you know if they’ll hold when it counts?

So you push. You test the fences, looking for weakness, chink in the chains that hold you together until finally one snaps. A tiny break at first. One link loosened in the whole. It inspires a response. Apologies are quickly made. The gap patched, soldered back together. But the break has been made and that point will never be as strong as it initially was. Everything is fine for a while. It’s been proven that you can withstand conflict. All is well in the world. You’re a brat, but a brat that cares.
Until the next time. And the next.

Even small very reasonable seperations can cause anger or fear. Make you question yourself, doubt yourself, make you think you've done something wrong. What is it about me that isn't good enough to spend time with? I understand you need had a last minute meeting but what is it about me that makes me less important that you would break our plans? Don't even consider large things.  I'm losing the time I would have spent with you, does tha mean I am losing you too? Rage. Hurtful words. Anger is my emotion. Anger at being used because clearly up until this point you have just been using me when you didn't really think I was good enough to do anything with.


Every time the apologies are more profuse, and they're always sincere. The excuses, reasons, justifications become more frantic. Pleading, desperately hoping they forgive you to prove you worth their love. Please, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way, for it to mean that. I will learn, it will never happen again. Except it does.

Each time the test is a little larger, a little more extreme, until finally the structure is so unsound it collapses under it’s own weight for having the foundations picked apart.

The world crashes down, left alone, in the dark without the light that that relationship shed. The void is consuming. A vow is made to never let someone so close, ever, ever again. Well, with one exception…

It can be that the people chosen truly are uncaring, people not worthwhile that do not care to stick around or aren’t looking for anything beyond a superficial friendship. These people don’t tend to stick around anyway. But the people that you develop a firm belief in, the thought of them leaving is a waking nightmare. Also, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who’s to say the fence would not have held up forever had you not felt the need to test the foundations? Would they have left if you had not created the circumstances that pushed them being their tolerance? By the time that thought occurs, it’s usually too late to let it go.
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