Friday, February 4, 2011

Quotes from the Borderline

"The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open."

~Chuck Palahniuk

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: I Hate You, Don't Leave Me

I Hate You - don’t leave me: Understanding the Borderline Personality” by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Strauss.

Book Synopsis: People with Borderline Personality Disorder experience such violent and frightening mood swings that they often fear for their sanity. They can be euphoric one moment, despairing and depressed the enxt. There are an estimated 10 million sufferes of BPD in America today – each displaying remarkably similar symptoms:
-  a shaky sense of identity
- sudden violent outbursts
- oversensitivity to real or imagine rejection
- brief, turbulent love affairs
- frequent periods of intense depression
- eating disorders, drug abuse, and other self-destructive tendencies
- an irrational fear of abandonment adn inability to be alone

For years BPD was difficult to describe, diagnose, and treat. But now, for the first time, Dr. Jerold J. Kreisman and heal writer Hal Straus offer much-needed professional advice, helping victims and their families to understand and cope with this troubling, shockingly widespread affliction.

Review: This is a good primer for anyone that does not have any experience with Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s easy to read and accessible.  It gives a good run down for all of the DSM criteria and highlights them with actual patient experiences. It begins to delve into the environmental factors that contribute to BPD. It is also good in helping those around someone with BPD learn how to cope with them. The title "I hate you, Don't leave me," gives you an insight that it is an illness of relationships with others. The others are not just those that are closest to you, however; it gives insight into how this person came to have this disorder, how they relate to others, how they can help themselves, and how important it is to understand what they are going through.  It goes through techniques and helps the reader understand what some with borderline personality disorder is experiencing and dealing with, equipping outsiders with an understanding that helps explain such irrational behavior. This book will help you identify and understand borderline behavior as well as cope with those who are suffering from BPD. Ultimately it aims to provide perspective.

One flaw that bothered me about this book was the personal experience examples almost exclusively included violent and abusive upbringings. It leans very heavily on this as a primary factor in what causes BPD as an environmental cause. That’s not to say that in a great many cases this is unfortunately accurate, but I do not think it paints a complete picture and could come off as almost accusatory to the families of BPD patients that have not come from such a background. To place so much blame on upbringing and not focus on an emotional/mental predisposition to this behavior is lacking.   

In this way and many others I did find it to be a little simplistic and it was far from an exhaustive study into the depths of BPD. However I also don’t think an extensive look is what this book was aiming for. It’s a preliminary look, to begin to understand BPD and hopefully initiate the healing process and coping functions for those that live with or are involved with someone with BPD.

So, a good introduction to BPD but ultimately a little outdated.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Therapeutic Break Through...

Talking to my therapist yesterday. I’m always worried that if I don’t see someone for an extended period of time I’ll lose my connection to them. That I will lose the emotional attachment that I had. That the memories and feelings that I had for someone will dissipate and disappear. That what they hold of me will disappear. I’ll dissociate from them completely. This is a valid fear, because it is something I do.

I struggle with this because I often need to be alone. But I’m afraid that if I don’t go out, I will be forgotten and I will lose that connection. Feel abandoned. Being around people can be painful though, especially when I’m feeling so much loss from a particular source. I have to fight the conflict of putting myself in a situation that might cause me pain, or withdrawing and fighting with my dissociation and feelings of falling away. Lose, lose.

Something my therapist told me to try was this: You have memories of Person X. Remember a time when you were with that person, that you felt happy, warm and cared for. You still have those memories. That the time has passed does not change the fact that at one point you felt that way. Since your relationship has changed, you may feel a loss in the intimacy or the connection now, but that doesn’t change what was there before. You’re grieving and grieving is healthy. It takes time to get through. When you work through understanding your relationship with Person X, struggle with wanting to be around them or staying away, try this: Hold onto that feeling, that memory of when you shared good times, hold it close in your heart and continue to hold onto that, and then envision the paths that you could potentially take. Removing yourself from their life, even for a time to take space, walk through the possibilities of what might happen, how you would feel if this person was no longer around, how you imagine they will feel and react, but don’t forget that what you had was real. In many aspects is still real. Life may change, but it doesn’t change the fact that the memories you had were important to you. Imagine what it will feel like to be around that person, who is still a stable point in you life, the pain and comfort that you still find, but don’t lose sight of those good memories that you hold close. They’re still there, still real. Work through all the situations you can imagine and know that they don’t change what was once there. It will help you understand how to proceed with what is best for you. 

Everyday, I need to work on this. Just because I can’t maintain a continuum of feelings and events, this is not how other people function. Holding onto those thoughts and memories that I have, holding them dear to me as I struggle with the changes that I am going through will help me stabilize and form a lasting bond to people.

The sum of my relationships are not based solely on our last interaction. It is all the things we’ve been through, done together, and shared.

As she was walking through this process with me, I could feel myself understanding what she meant, actually feeling it. It helped provide a sense of clarity and calm. Less alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On a ligther note

It's my birthday today.

Celebrating my birthday has never been cause for much excitement for me. I am precisely one day older than I was yesterday. Yay. Though I guess it's something of an accomplishment that I've made it another year. Here's hoping this one is better than last.  It is nice to see how many people remember and want to celebrate with me. Though, I feel like I make plans more for the benefit of my friends and loved ones. For instance, Friday I will be having a gathering. It started off as just a very select group of my closest friends, but steadily expanded to include more people than I originally intended. Of course, I didn't expect everyone to show but so far it seems that everyone I invited (with the exception of one) is coming over. And the one person that declined I only invited out of obligation because her husband is my best friend and it would be too awkward for him to have to explain why everyone we know is coming over but she's not. So mostly I invited her for him, thankfully she declined. I hate that I even had to bother doing that. I should be able to invite who I want and have that be that. I rarely do things out of obligations because I simply don't care. I guess it could appear rather rude, but it's my celebration, I'd rather not have people around that make me uncomfortable or are downright rude themselves. It's selfish, but humans are selfish creatures. All of us. Anyone that claims differently isn't taking an honest look at who they are.

My sister and her boyfriend are also coming to stay with me this weekend. This is cause for actual excitement. My entire family lives 500 miles away and I only see them maybe 4 times a year. For someone that battles with constant lonliness it's very difficult to live so far away from my biggest support base. While my relationship with my family was incredibly tumultuous when I was younger (I was a hellion), once I graduated high school and moved out, we became very close and I have a very strong relationship with my family. They're as supportive as they can be from so far away, but the physical distance, translatese into an emotional distance and I have a hard time staying connected, feeling like I even have blood relations. I miss them terribly so it's always wonderful when I get the chance to see them. So my sister and her boyfriend will be here for my gathering as well.

It's a little too cold and snowy to take them into Manhattan but I imagine Saturday we'll head into Brooklyn for some fun barhopping (80's quarter slot arcade + microbrewery/bar = absolute win) and then head out to the Floating Kabarette. It's one of my favorite venues. It's like a vaudeville show with a witty and talented host. The performances include comedic acts, singing, dance troups, ariel fabric dancers/trapeze artists, and burlesque. It's a wildly entertaining time. The venue itself is beautiful.

The Sunday I image a group of us will travel out East to visit some local wineries. Wine tasting may sound a little snooty but it's a really cheap way to get smashed and learn what kind of wines you might actually like without having to spend out the ass trying whole bottles.

Today however, I get to work. Spending my birthday (or anyday) in this be damned office is rather grueling. Then I have another (pre)interview directly afterwards. Woohoo. A girlfriend of mine asked if she could come by and give me a present this evening though. I'm rather curious. I don't expect it will actually be a tangible gift ::wink::.

All these plans, right now it feels like trying to fill up my days just to get through one more. They're things I should be really looking foreward too and yet, I feel mostly blank. I know I used to look forward to such things. What happened?

Monday, January 31, 2011


I'm always trying to escape being trapped in my own head, be it activities, movies, reading, sex, whatever. I alternate between extreme introversion and extreme extroversion. There’s rarely a middle ground. Both forms of temperament tend to be aimed at escapism from my own headspace. To counter a mind open to ruminating and racing thoughts. I would say to keep me from being bored, but I’m almost never bored. I don’t understand the concept. I always have approximately a million things I could be doing no matter the situation. My shoulder bag has notebooks, sketchpads, books, drawing and writing utensils, a small laptop, all things aimed at keeping my brain busy.

I read, write, draw, create costumes, sew, cook, bake. All things that I need to focus my full attention on in order to complete. Or I fight, fuck, dance… all things that require no thought and full action, distract from my thoughts.

I love to read. I can submerge myself in scientific periodicals and engage my mind in clinical thoughts. Or delve into mythos and fantasy, transporting myself into an entirely different world. A world that is not this one. When my mind is so focused somewhere else, it’s impossible for me to focus on myself.

Movies are another favorite past time. I even rate how good a movie is by how well it holds my attention. If my mind wanders off during a film it couldn’t have been that great because it didn’t hold my interest fully.

Masquerade events are a full process. I generally create all my own costumes from scratch so it gives me time to occupy my evenings leading up to it. Putting on my clothes I can put on a persona and slip into a fantasy role.

Drawing is a wonder. When I have an image in mind I can lose myself for hours designing, drawing, shading. Pour my heart and my energy onto paper and the time just slips away.

Cooking and baking is twofold because it’s something I do for other people. It’s one of the ways I show affection, take care of the people in my life. I create elaborate multi course meals and consume myself with the prep work. Everything timed just so every minute is filled. While one thing is baking, another is being prepped or sautéed or boiled. While some thing simmers another fries. I orchestrate so many things at any given time I’m a mad rush of pots, pans, and delicious smells.

I wonder if I do this on purpose to stave off boredom, or if there are other underlying reasons. I wonder what would happen if I stopped distracting myself; left myself alone with my thoughts. I imagine nothing good. I tend to feel hollow, empty. Filling the minutes fills my life, keeps it from slipping away into obscurity. Would I discover some previously uncovered truth? Or unearth a purposefully buried trauma?  If I’m not constantly occupied I feel like I have no purpose. On the plus side, I tend to be very productive.

It often feels like everything is frantic rush to or from occupying my mind and time. Trying to forget and trying to hold on.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good day...

Sometimes all you need is good wine and a good woman and the day is a very good one indeed.
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