Friday, April 22, 2011

To Write Love On Her Arms

I promise

Week of Reflection. Since I’m feeling inspirational today I wanted to talk about one of my favorite non-profit organizations. I donate to a wide variety of charitable organizations, mostly environmental and wildlife. This is one of the only people centered organizations I give to. Why this one?

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
The vision is that we actually believe these things…
You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world.  We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments.  You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck. 
We all wake to the human condition.  We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss.   We know that pain is very real.  It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real. 
You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible. We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need.  People sitting across from a counselor for the first time.  People stepping into treatment.  In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline.  We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take.  We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change. 
Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone. 
The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.  
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings.  The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is people breaking cycles, making change.  
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.  
The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know.  
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.

That’s straight from their Vision on the site. They have some great Facts about Depression, Addiction, Self-Injury, and Suicide as well.
Every year they have a collection of days where they make a request that everyone actually write Love on their arms. Once, twice, as many times as you want. The point is so that people will see it and ask why you have Love written all over. People send pictures of their expression to the site, post them on their social networks, text them to friends, and spread the word.  I think this ‘event’ has passed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do it whenever you want. It’s a good thing to share, a good message to send. I wanted to let you know.  
I never cover my scars with this, but I write it between them, above them, around them, over and under my family tattoo. It’s silly but I love it.
It should be pretty obvious why I relate to this particular organization, having struggled with and continuing to fight, against all of these issues. While a lot of what I write in this blog is about how tumultuous and sad/angry/hurt I often feel. About the facts, statistics, and issues of Borderline Personality Disorder… My goal is to educate. To understand the label of BPD and see past it, to see the person Beyond the Borderline Personality. In knowledge comes understanding. In understanding comes hope. With hope there is the possibility for a better life. A life worth living.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letting Go

I think I'm actually afraid to lose my BPD. It's what I've always known. I don't know what it is to be anything else. Yes, it completely sucks, it drives me crazy, I drive me crazy, but it's familiar. I haven't been without it since I was very young. Who will I be without it?

I think this is one of the reasons I'm worrying about my medication. On the one hand I want to get better; I want to not feel so turbulent all the time. On the other hand I'm afraid of losing the only way I know how to be. The thought of having to figure out who I am is like walking blind through a door when I don't know what's in the room.

I'm prepared for the way I deal with things now. Granted they may not be healthy ways of dealing with things, but at least I know. What if I don't recognize myself? I already have a hard time looking into a mirror and knowing that the person staring back at me is actually me. A reflection of my Self. Will I be able to recognize myself when there's someone different staring back at me?

It shouldn't be, but it's scary.

If I stop my medication it will probably be a big step back. A way to self-sabotage my progress. I've done this a lot. Sabotage what I have in order to push it away. What's more, I know I shouldn't do this, but I still want to, still have the urge to.

I have this need to do it now, before it's too late, before I've let slip who I'm used to being because the person I might become won't feel the need to do this.

Even when I'm not so crazed I'm still not right. I go numb and dissociate from my sense of Self. During these times intense anxiety is often what I'm riddled with but I don't feel in my own skin so it’s manageable.

I don't know what it is to live without this. I can't actually tell you what it's like to feel happy, not for more than a few days before the grip of fear and anxiety take over again. I know I shouldn't want this. It is exactly what I’m trying to stop. I'm not sure I want to stop now. Abandoning part of who I am. I don't want to lose me.

This is causing me a lot of anxiety. The stomach knotted into my throat kind of anxiety. I’m afraid to let go.

Will I still be me?

Will it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's Your Party and I'll... Do Something Better if I want to

Fuck. So it’s Friends 10th year wedding anniversary coming up in a month. The wife sent out invites a couple weeks ago and I’ve known about it for ages. I've been completely ignoring it. I DO NOT want to go. I’m also trying to reign in the venom and not say “you guys are awful, leave me the fuck alone, can’t you see you bother me?”

I’ve been avoiding the whole thing, leaving the room when it’s mentioned, ignoring the inevitable FB invite.
Friend and I were having a day of our usual geekery and philosophical chatting. Out of nowhere he asks if I’m coming to the anniversary party. I ask him when it is (even though I have a vague idea). Two seconds later Wife IMs me and asks if I’m coming. She’s as neurotic as I am, if not more, decided having Friend ask me would be too slow and IMed me directly. Our conversations go like this.

Wife: Hi
Me: Hi Lady
Wife: How’re you?
Me: Was bleh, now better. How’re you?
Wife: Doing pretty well. Oh! Randomly, are you coming to the party?

>> How is this random? She doesn’t IM me unless she has an intent. I know this. If she doesn’t know this she’s retarded. Why the pretense? Anyways.

I tell her it’s still a ways off and it’s going to depend entirely on my moods. I’ve been exceedingly angry lately and I shouldn’t bring that to a party. She says “I’ll put you down for a maybe, even though it’s a probably.” Really? You think so? Unbeknownst to her because I don’t talk to her about personal stuff I’m mostly  just uncomfortable being around the two of them together and I sure as hell don’t want to celebrate them being together. Fuck that noise.

So back to Friend. I had asked him when the party was, he still hadn’t responded so I informed him of the date. Told him Wife’s idea of random was surprisingly not random. To which he responded with, I’m sure she just wants to know how many to prepare dinner for. 

What. The. Fuck. Ever.

She’s neurotic like me.  She just wants to know who’s coming to her party. They’re BBQing for Fucks sake.  I told him it will depend on my moods. Don’t plan for me, I’d show or I won’t. He said… ok. And then that was it. I sent him a link for a fighting school I was contemplating joining because we’d just been talking about this stuff and 15 minutes later all I get is “Neat”.

So I’m sitting there freaking the hell out. I’m sure he’s pissed at me. His silence in response to my, I’m not giving you a definite yes is obvious. He’s mad. Our friendship is probably over. He’s going to hate me. But I’m not wrong! I don’t want to be there so why should I be! I’m a masochist. I know this. But isn’t the point of getting better to not be a masochist? So going and sitting there as they’re all cute is just going to make me all uncomfortable and sting at me. Why put myself through that? Because he’d want me to? I was just all impressed by how well he perceived me at the Sci-Fi Con and then he’s all oblivious today. Either I’m really good at hiding my problems or he’s an idiot. I’m sure he was just asking because the wife asked him to. He’s a guy, he didn’t even remember when the thing was, he didn’t care. But since I said idk it’s a problem. Now he’s not talking to me. He didn’t show up to my f-ing birthday when he knew it was important to me, why should I show up to his thing? It’s obviously not that important to him because he doesn’t even know when it is. But considering he hasn’t spoken to me since there’s clearly some hostile feelings there. Passive-aggressive. So sick of it. I want things to be ok. I actually have thoughts of going just so he won’t be mad. But I DON”T WANT TO! I’m sick of doing everything for everyone else. I know this will only hurt me. Why should I do it to make him, or her, happy? No fucking reason at all. He obviously doesn’t get it, or wants to ignore it, and yet I’m supposed to be ok with it? So now he’ll probably never talk to me again. Or even if he does he’ll be resentful. Pull back and not care so much because I couldn’t do this one thing. Our friendship is going to be over. My stomach has been in my fucking throat since I said I’d show or not. Minute by minute I’ve wanted to take it back, but not take it back. I want that entire minute of conversation to have never happened. But no, they have to push it. Fuck it. I’m so sick of having to make decisions that are hard for me. 

Our friendship is probably over.

Can’t I just do engineering? Quantum Mechanics? Astrophysics (my University minor)? Those are easy for me. No really. I started those things when I was 12. People on the other hand or so bloody hard for me. I don’t know what to do. Except throw wine at it. Wine makes so many things better. Like right now. Writing this? Way easier. 

Thought Control is Mind Control

I found an article written by Dr. Amen who’s a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and brain-imaging specialist. It's about how to conquer negativity and encourage positive thoughts. It’s not about Borderline Personality Disorder per say. It’s aimed at people that do have negative thoughts but are basically ‘normal’ (meaning: don’t have a personality disorder). However I found what he had to say runs parallel to BPD.
The article is about negative thinking, what he calls ANTs = Automatic Negative Thinking. These are thoughts that automatically pop into your head, but don’t necessarily have any rational hold. Or if they do, they run away with you instead of allowing for the ability to come up with solutions instead of dwelling on them. The thoughts that jump into your head automatically after something triggers them and refuse to go away. For me these thoughts run rampant and spin me down into a dark hole that I can’t climb out of.
He goes on to say that powerful thoughts can lead to physical reactions. Negative thoughts actually release chemicals in your brain that do make you feel bad. The opposite is true too, the happy, the positive can lead to chemical release that makes you feel good.
Therapists have identified 10 ‘species’ of the automatic negative thoughts. (I think the term ANTs just sounds ridiculous. I can’t take it seriously.)
1.)  All or nothing (thinking in black and white).  This is what Splitting is.
2.) Always thinking (overgeneralizing). Well, yeah.
3.)  Focusing on the negative (ignoring the positive). When things are always bad, when nothing turns out how you need it to, when every little thing shakes your foundation, it’s hard to think about the positive. On the other hand, if you swing {hyper}manic, it’s the opposite, everything can be positive, everything is superhuman, everything is achievable. I think the mood swings of someone with BPD can be a little too changeable for this, but generally speaking I think the principle here is true.
4.) Think with your feelings (believeing negative feelings without evidence). Obviously. BPD is all about emotional dysregulation. Emotions that take control, cloud your judgment, and make you act in ways that most people wouldn’t.
5.)  Guilt beating (thinking in words like “should”, “must”, “ought to). I do this a lot. Believe I should be other than I am, should have done something better, was not good enough at something else, failed myself in some way… I tell myself that I’m not good enough if I can’t be perfect.
6.)  Labeling (attaching negative labels to yourself and others). For someone with BPD I think this is an extension of Splitting. I label someone as all good (ex. Roommate). I label someone as all bad (Friends wife). It may be both all good, or all bad for the same person at different times, depending on the last interaction (ex. Friend or myself).
7.)  Fortune Telling (predicting the future in a negative way). Hopelessness, abandonment, believing that eventually everyone will leave, things will always turn out devastatingly wrong. Just walking into a situation and knowing it’s going to turn out bad for you. I find this usually happens worse when it’s something I really want.
8.)  Mind Reading (believing you know what someone else is thinking). This goes hand in hand with hypersensitivity. When you’re so attuned to what someone does, if there’s any variation, anything to shake that tenuous stability, there’s no helping the wild thoughts that run away to figure out why someone has changed in some way. Even if that change is miniscule.
9.)  Blame (Blaming others for you problems). If he just did this, if she felt this way, if I wasn’t so misunderstood… these tend to be the kinds of thoughts I have to give ‘reasons’ for my negative feelings. 
10.)               Denial (refusing to admit you have a problem). Heh, I don’t think this is really my issue, or anyone’s issue that has BPD and is seeking help or treatment. Well, maybe. Identifying ALL the areas that need helping I can see where there can be denial.

The first step is to realize these things are a problem. Keeping in mind that these thoughts happen may help figure out how to change them.
Everybody lies
To combat these he makes a good point: Thoughts can lie; they lie a lot. However you don’t have to believe every thought that pops into your head. But how do you determine which thoughts you can believe? All things in life aren’t positive, some things are negative. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re wrong, sort of thing. The problem is they feel like the truth. These are what automatically popped into my head, and it’s pretty obvious to me that they’re self-defeating in term of incorporating a helpful idea. I often fight against things that are good for me, and I don’t know why.
In order to get ahold of these thoughts and recognize which ones are not rational he makes a suggestion. Write them down. “The simple act of writing down your thoughts helps get them out of your head and begins to diffuse any negative feelings so you start to feel better”.  This is something I do almost daily. I’ve kept journals since I was 12/13 years old. For me it only tends to be a temporary fix. It doesn’t help the irrational thoughts from coming back in the future, or even the next day, but it does help me get ahold of them and allow me to work through them at the time. I can’t always write as soon as I have ridiculous thoughts, so often they  stay with me for days, weeks. When I do have time to write I do feel calmer. I’m able to look at the problem and try to sort things out. If nothing else, it reminds me of the things I need to talk about in therapy. My therapist encourages me to write every day. If I’m comfortable I read what I’ve written in session so that we can work on these things.    I try to write everyday but sometimes I’m just too busy or I don’t want to… and sometimes I want to dwell on my problem. I want to hold things to me, believe that these things are true, not my fault, feel misunderstood so I can believe these kinds of thoughts are justified. I know this isn’t rational but sometimes I hold things to me and don’t want to let them go.  I know this is something I need to work on. I can generally get my thoughts down on paper, and it does help me put things into perspective for a while.

Continue with: write down the ‘negative’ situation that brought about the negative thoughts and feelings, identify the moods felt during the situation, write down the automatic thoughts that were experienced when that certain mood was felt, identify the evidence that supports these thoughts, identify the evidence that does not support these thoughts, next identify the fair and balanced thoughts about the situation, and finally observe the new mood and think about what to do.
The problem with this article, for me, is that when you have a personality disorder you can’t just think your way out of the barrage of overblown thoughts that accost you . Beat you into submission mastered by your emotions.  You feel them whether you want to or not and no amount of telling yourself otherwise alleviates them. If it was as simple as remembering a few principles**, PDs wouldn’t be a problem for anyone that wants to change.  I can’t internalize a lot of these, and unless I read them every single day, my neurotic thoughts will crowd out the helpful ones. Maybe other people can remember them and use these techniques to keep some calm. Find a little relief. A way of infusing some rational explanation into the irrational behavior.  

** This is the point of therapy. However therapy realizes that it takes time, practice, and work to change these behaviors. It’s not as simple as reading an article.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy 3

This was a mellow week in therapy. I was hyper yesterday so my mood was up for a change.  My therapist didn’t want to talk about things that would upset me because she wanted to encourage my better mood. I told her about the Sci-Fi Convention. First, about running into my exes. She was glad I was able to control my impulses around Boring-ex especially since I wanted to strangle him. She also thinks that my dream about screaming at him was my subconscious channeling my rage into a healthier outlet.
I was concerned that I feel better in a persona that wasn’t me. She disagrees that it wasn’t me. She was less concerned that the persona I identify with is basically an evil creature and supportive of the fact that I was doing something positive for myself. Since I put so much of myself into the character the energy I put into it IS me. Had I not invested so much of myself, my time, my creativity into the project, had just worn a costume I bought or had made for me, I wouldn’t have had the same kind of experience. It’s not so much about the character I chose as it is that the idea was mine and I made the character mine. Even that I did choose such a volatile character it was a way to express my more destructive tendencies in a non-destructive way. To personify them and release the emotions I struggle with.
That in this character I was able to remain attached to my conscious and overcome my dysmorphia, even for a day was an insight. That I invested so much of myself into this character, it was really me allowing myself to remain connected to the world, and not just the pretending I was someone else so I could slip into a different mindset and lose who I am. Which is what I thought. I still kind of think this has something to do with it. Then again, I’ve always felt more like myself, whoever that is, when I’m in character. In character I can act how I want, be who I want, without repercussion... because it’s the character I’m choosing to be. Her interpretation is: It’s a manifestation of who I want to be, by extension allowing myself to come through without fear that I’ll be judged poorly.
 This point is probably more important than I gave it credit for. Finding things, hobbies, distractions that are a healthy means to channel my energy are very helpful for me.

I actually don’t remember how this came up: I have also been able to say on two occasions that I can’t deal with other peoples shit right now, I have my own to deal with, was a big step. I spend so much of my time worrying about other people. Helping, taking care of, doing things for other people. Basically putting other people before myself. That I have said that my needs are important also is a healthy step in taking care of myself that I don’t usually put to the fore. I need to take a break from making other people happy and focus on making me happy. I put the needs of other people ahead of my own for fear that they will leave if I don’t do everything I can to help them through whatever they’re going through. I’m always afraid that they’ll abandon me if I can’t meet and take care of those needs. That I have said twice that my needs are important without be afraid that they’d leave me is progress.

Previous Homework: Fortunately she didn’t ask me about the homework she’d set for me last week. It really did/does make me angry.  I didn’t bring it up, though I probably should have. Maybe it’s not fortunate because it would have given her more insight into my thought process. Idk. She recognized and reiterated that finding healthy, creative outlets are good for me and thinks I should look into finding more events to throw myself into. This isn’t really anything I haven’t been doing for years though. Unfortunately as soon as they're done I just revert back to my usual state of mind. At least I have previously. We’ll see.

So maybe being upset from therapy isn’t necessarily the mark of a good session.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bordering on crazy at the Con

Sith Twi'lek

This past weekend was my Sci-Fi Convention. I’m a complete and utter geek. This has been established. I am unabashedly geeky.  Saturday was kind of ridiculous. Got to the Con around 10am. Friend and I were doing our Star Wars thing. Dark Lord/Lady of the Sith. He is my Master, I’m his apprentice. Think of it like Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. Sidious is the Master. Vader is the apprentice. Anyways, we have our own personas, not some pre-fabricated existing Star Wars characters. I have no awkwardness about Friend anymore. Well, mostly. I still can’t watch him being cute with the wife. It’s just uncomfortable. But she wasn’t around for our day/night so it wasn’t a problem. My costume came out really, really well. This was supported by the fact that I could not go 5 feet without someone stopping me, or me and Friend, to take pictures. I was approached by at least 5 professional photographers, one of which wanted to do a photo shoot with me in the future. Neat. This was amusing, until it wasn’t. I just wanted to check stuff out and maybe buy some things (which I didn’t b/c the dealers floor sucked this year). Ran into a creepy club guy I knew, I wanted to smack him. Ran into a guy that I can only tolerate for about 5 minutes, but he KEPT talking, wanted to throttle him. By the time late evening rolled around I was starting to panic with the shear amount of people that wouldn’t leave me be. Friend and I hid in an auditorium during panel just to escape the hoard. After this I took off, could no longer deal with the crush of the crowd. Too much fluxuation is exhausting. I even managed to Control my dysmorphia. This I feel, is one of my biggest accomplishments this weekend. All in all though, a very successful experience.
The next day I mellowed out the costuming to something pretty and cute. Did a 50’s style rockabilly swing dress with thigh highs with a back seam. Admittedly I did this to tease Friend. It’s a fetish of his and I intentionally hit his buttons to amusing effect. Especially since he knew I had probably gotten these for him when we were actually messing around. Which I did. Watching him squirm, not be able to touch gave me a little spike of pleasure every time I caught him looking. I’m mean, maybe a little manipulative. Idk. Call it what you will. We actually had a really nice day lounging about and talking with people we knew.
Until the karmic retribution kicked in. I was sitting around the lobby with all my closer friends. By the end of the Con and break down was starting who do I see? Boring-ex. This in itself wasn’t bad. He’s completely forgettable and uninteresting to me. I ignored him. What made me a little mad was, the only reason he would have volunteered to work the Con would be to poke at me. This was the first year I hadn’t volunteered for the Con (I always volunteer because I am friends with everyone that runs it). He never even went, vehemently disliking it, until I dragged him to it last year where he still didn’t have a good time and actively complained about the volunteer director. He was working where I always did. It was obviously to bother me b/c. I fought the urge to lash out and tell him how dick he was. I was more pissed at the lady that let him volunteer, because she knew he was my ex. The stupid thing was, I didn’t really care. I just wanted to flip out. He was being a dick, intentionally poking at me, trying to bother me, which it really didn’t and I still wanted to smash his head into the ground. But hey, maybe he's had a change of heart and loves the Con and isn't a wacky boring stalker? What did bother me… was seeing Evil-Ex. I knew he’d probably be here, but miraculously hadn’t seen him. It was only about an hour before I was going to leave so I’d completely relaxed figuring it was safe. Nope. I haven’t seen him in over a year. Not since I moved out of our house. I don’t think it was the seeing him, so much as I was taken completely by surprise and not prepared for it. My stomach jumped into my throat and I needed to get out. (Friend) Good, relaxed, almost happy even (I’m honestly not sure I know what this feels like), (B-ex) annoyed, wrath, amusement, indifference, (E-ex) panic, nauseous, panic, anger, (myself) revulsion, anger at myself for letting him get to me, depressed… all in the span of about 15 minutes. Not together mind  you. I don’t do emotions simultaneously. I cycle, rapidly. One to another. I left, grabbed my wine, and went to Friends to not be alone. Curled up on his couch, depressed, binged at dinner, vomited immediately after, curled back up with my drink until it was time to go home and go to bed. It’s so hopeless sometimes.
What amused me was I had dreams with Boring-ex in them last night: We were at some house together. He was doing work. I was ignoring him. We kept our distance. He kept inching closer though. Doing that thing where you want to make someone aware of your presence to inspire a reaction, but not interact. I noted him there, but went about whatever. Finally I was sitting on the couch drawing and he sat right next to me. Crossed his leg which made him hit my drawing pad. I lost my shit. Screaming, completely enraged. Wrath personified: Which is exactly what I wanted to do earlier that day and repressed the urge. My subConscious said no, you needed to do this. Not just needed to. FUCKING needed to. That’s what I get for repressing my urges. They come out anyways and disrupt me when I’m resting.
Along these lines, I’m actually getting sick of my medication. I know it’s supposed to help me Control myself. In general I haven’t been having such extreme mood swings. Not that I haven’t still been cycling, and exceptionally angry, but not so explosive.  The alcohol and the bulimic crap don’t speak well for my impulsiveness though. I can’t seem to get ahold on those. Meh. I just can’t tell how much the meds help me. When I’m fine, I’m fine and maybe it’s the meds. But when I’m not, I still do the stuff I’m supposed to be fixing. I know there’s no quick fix for this. It’s going to take a long time. A lot of work. It’s hard to see so far down the road when I’m so stuck in the right now.

Edit: Just found out I’m in one of the local papers for my Sith costume! Neat. I am really proud of how it came out. Especially since I made 90% of it by hand.
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