Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Seasons Greetings and all that. Love Haven!

Technically it's my pagan Yule Tree
Happy Holidays to everyone that celebrates whatever it is you celebrate. Happy Tuesday to everyone else! 

So far this has been a pretty mellow trip home. My anger has only tried to get away with me a few times. Unfortunately it has been a very bulimic Xmas for me so far. I was doing so well too =(  ::sigh:: Oh well. All isn't lost. It was just two days. I've relapsed before and come back stronger, so I can do it again. 

My family and I have been having a really great visit. It's really kind of wonderful. It still feels a little odd, but it really does feel wonderful. When I was younger holidays were a mess. Everything was a mess to be true. But holidays had ALL of the family waiting for me in guarded tension, unsure of what my mood would be. Depressed and mood swingy = apocalyptic gloom and the Grinch who stole Xmas and ground it into a gooey blob of broken waste under my stylish yet affordable combat boots.

I'm still a little unsettled with my extended family. I don't see them often so I still feel out of place and of course they don't know "the me that I am now" as well as my parents and siblings... so I feel like there's still some of that residual tension there. In the past I would have resented it and I'd be really offended. I get it now. I mean, I was always a little more controlled around my extended family, but they need time to actually see that I have made a lot of progress and am doing much better. 

It's stressful for me.  I haven't quite figured out how to relax and just be me. I still feel compelled to overcompensate in the way that people do for the holidays; put on a bigger smile, be more polite (okay maybe not so much with this, sarcasm is a part of my charm. I promise), show a greater interest in the things that I don't care anything about, be helpful to keep myself busy....

All while trying to be mindful of my triggers: Too much alcohol is bad... to much food is worse. When it comes to food there's a fine line between "Okay" and "Fuck It", I might as well binge to make the purge worth it. Maneuvering tricky subjects that make me sad or overwhelmed. Feeling like an outsider in your own family, while trying to act like you belong. Feeling really uncomfortable when people ask all the completely normal questions people ask when they haven't seen you in a while, and feeling like you're center stage with a spotlight in your eyes. Juggling those conversations with the appropriate amount of truth without spiraling out to complete honesty and making them feel bad for having asked (Ex. Appropriate explanations for why you broke up with your last significant other w/o getting into too much detail.... except it's all details for my brain). Finding the balance between being true to my own thoughts and feelings, while remaining mindful of the thoughts and feelings of others. This list goes on...

The point is... there's a lot going through my mind during big gatherings. It's not so simple as "just relax and be yourself". The fight to keep the holidays from becoming overwhelming can easily overwhelm me itself. 

It's a lot. It gets easier with practice though.

However you're spending your day, good luck. And if you need a helping hand there's always the Forum for a little added support. 

And for everyone with BPD and the loved ones with a Borderline in their lives... it can get better. It takes work and understanding on both parts, but things can get worlds better. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Thoughts from the Borderline: Promiscuity

I've noticed that when I'm becoming particularly lonely my desire to be promiscuous kicks into overdrive. That feeling, that need to be with someone, to be seen, to be felt, to be with... is almost overwhelming. It begins to cloud all my other thoughts, especially when I'm with someone that I find in any way attractive. 

.... even if I know they're not the kind of person I would be "good" with, or someone I should be with, but for the moment they're beyond good enough. It's like all my other judgment goes right out the window in favor of taking care of the more important need for not being alone. 

::sigh:: Fortunately circumstances aren't always aligned to allow for acting on it. The moments aren't all doom and gloom dire, but the desire to be seen and connected with is still overpowering in its own way. It's a way that's extremely tempting. And when the circumstances are aligned for acting... well, that impulsive streak doesn't allow for the cautionary voice in the back of my mind to kick in. 

If I'm with someone that I'm love/obsessed with, this goes away to a  large extent if not completely... as long as things are good. If things get devalued and go bad for a spot, caution often gets thrown to the wind, or I want to throw it to the wind (I've never actually cheated on a significant other, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the need for comfort anymore). I have an uber guilty conscience though so even if I want to I can't act on the impulse. It's more a matter of pride that I don't give in than a real desire not to, or the thing that everyone wants... which is for that desire to not be there at all. Let's be honest though, do those desires and impulses really go away 100% for anyone? Isn't there always some little part left that always wants to run away with itself? Maybe? 

Still, that's mostly when I'm single or not in a committed relationship. If I'm solidly with someone, different story. 

I don't know. All I know is that right now I'm lonely. I'm missing Tech Boy b/c I've been seeing him more at work. I was out with friends last night and I found myself flirting with an old friend of mine. A friend mind you, who is happily engaged and about to buy a house with his fiance. I didn't even realize I was flirting with him until I realized he was flirting back. There was no thought process of, "This thing, yep, I'm gonna do that..." It was just friendly conversation and witty banter and all of a sudden there was googly eyes and internal impulses. 

I mean, I'm a friendly person in general. Don't get me wrong I can be a major bitch if you cross me, but I like being nice. I talk to everyone. People are fun when they're interesting. I've been told that I'm flirty, but I'm like that with everyone. And I'm not sure it's really flirty if I'm just being nice, friendly, and conversational. I don't know. Last night I definitely found myself being flirty and I didn't mean to (well, at first). It feels good, and if you're not going to act on it, I suppose it's harmless enough. 

Not gonna lie, given the opportunity to take it further.... I probably would have taken it. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Article and Commentary: A Depressive's Guide to Christmas

As many of you may know it’s Holiday time in my area of the world. I’m in no way a religious person, though I do have my own eclectic sense of spirituality. My family on the other hand is an entirely different story. It’s often the only time of year they get to see us all (especially me) so they like to take advantage of it. They go all out. If you’re anything like me, family + stress = an excessive amount of triggering. This article I found was a nice validation of those less than holiday-tastic feelings. It’s important that we find ways to cope with this. It’s also important that we not feel bad about not being in the same high spirits as everyone else around us if that doesn’t happen to be our particular mentality. Remember, regardless of how you spend the whatever holidays or even just gatherings in general, how we feel is how we feel. Feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just are. It’s how we cope with those feelings that are important.

A Depressive's Guide to Christmas
By Kat Kinsman, CNN
updated 4:33 PM EST, Wed December 19, 2012

(CNN) -- I'm in a Las Vegas hotel room, hiding from Christmas. The odds are not in my favor.
This is not a war on, jihad against or campaign to counter anyone else's annual allotment of holly jolly joy. If it were up to me, I'd quietly exile myself from the merrymaking so as not to dim others' bliss like a burned-out bulb on an otherwise twinkly light strand.

I'm not a Grinch or a Scrooge or any of the other soot-stained slurs hurled by people fed up with a loved one's reluctance to join the reindeer games. What I am is depressed.

In the cold, dark, ash-end of the dying year, it is hard for me to pry my head from my pillow and draw breath into my lungs -- let alone don gay apparel and fa-la-la along with the rest of the festive public. But I do it -- alongside countless other people suffering from seasonal affective disorder, active grief, debilitating panic, PTSD and a whole host of other emotional issues that are thrown into sharp relief amid the mandatory revelry.

I don't want to drag anyone else into my darkness and take the shimmer off their star. I try to slough off my dull gray sweater and don a gaudy holiday number that I hope will distract from the listlessness in my eyes and my affect, and I will myself to snap out of it. That may successfully deflect attention from friends and family caught up in holiday chaos, but I am thoroughly unable to force myself into a state of good cheer. The attempt makes it worse.

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. ... I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

As a child, it was surprising and oddly comforting to see my strange feelings articulated by a beloved cartoon character amid the Technicolor cheer of holiday TV specials. But then again, I have always identified with poor ol' Charlie Brown -- and the response his confession of yuletide unease received from his peers.

"Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem."

Nope -- not just you, Charlie Brown. The rest of us just don't talk about it for fear that the Linuses of the world will pass judgment; if you can't join in the joy of the most wonderful time of the year, you are clearly defective. You are a misfit toy, minus the solidarity of an island full of kindred spirits.

Even for those who don't struggle with chronic or seasonal depression, there are myriad reasons why some approach December with dread. For many who have who always celebrated holidays with warmth and abandon, there's a raw and tender spot where a departed family member used to be. Even if the grief is not fresh, the rites and rituals that once brought such delight now awaken the ache of loss. For others, economic strain, family estrangement, the pressure of others' expectations, overtaxed schedules and plain old exhaustion can mount and crush the happiness out a season that was previously a source of comfort.

But rarely, if ever, are we given a strings-free opportunity to opt out.

"It's only once a year!" a friend said to me just yesterday, kvetching about her sister-in-law's reluctance to suck it up and make merry. I've never met the woman, but I had to argue on her behalf.

I come from a family in which Christmas Day e-mails have become an acceptable level of holiday hoopla, but have married into a family heavily invested in the celebration. As much as I love and cherish every member of my husband's massive multigenerational clan, their celebrations operate at an unfamiliar frequency.

Being launched into the holiday machine with a family that celebrates bigheartedly, boisterously and lavishly became a source of yearly panic and dread for me. I was terribly ashamed of myself for feeling that way. Yes, it's only once a year, but my mother-in-law is nearing 90. The desire to deliver the brand of holiday she's come to expect added so much weight to the event, I'd find myself almost unable to breathe at the very thought of it.

Then I'd fret that someone would notice my distress (they did) and take it personally if I slipped away to compose myself. (Where's Kat? She's taking a nap again? Doesn't she want to spend time with us?) After several years of that stress, I realized something was going to have to give -- and it was going to have to be me.

I can't say I'm ever going to actively enjoy Christmas, but I love my family (and myself) enough to make the most out of it and have found ways to manage my seasonally fragile mood in a way that might minimize upset from either side.

I save up my vacation days, hotel points and and frequent-flier miles to visit somewhere sunny -- usually Las Vegas. While trees, cheeky holiday decor, and jazzed-up carols have begun to encroach upon this den of depravity and excess, it's still a relatively safe haven for Christmas cranks like me, and the darkness sets in a shade later than it does back home.

On the ground at Christmas central with the in-laws, my husband and I have taken to getting a hotel room, rather than staying with family. Though that may not be the most economically sensible option, we don't have to worry about overtaxing anyone's generosity, and the autonomy offers a little breathing room that helps me more calmly and thoroughly appreciate the time we spend together in celebration.

Once in the familial fray, I try to make myself as useful as humanly possible. Need that platter washed? Gimme! We're out of cinnamon? Where are the car keys? The children need someone to chase around the yard to wear them out? Whooooooooosh!

And I've added my own ritual to the mix -- crafting multiple pitchers of rye sours made with freshly-squeezed lemons and clementine juice. It busies my hands for at least an hour, lightly buzzes the crowd for a couple more and I get to spend one-on-one time with each person as I serve them.

It has by all accounts been a most welcome addition to the holidays, and for a while our moods align happily and brightly. This may not be ideal for every family, but we make the most of what we've been given.

I'll take my Christmas spirit any way I can get it.


How do you get through the holiday doldrums? Share your secrets in the comments section below.

Like the author of this piece I do everything in my power to keep busy. Yesterday alone I spent 10 hours in the kitchen making a variety of cookies and treats. And that’s only day 1. This may seem a bit compulsive but it’s a more constructive focus for my energy than the dire and doom ruminations that would be there in their stead. Not to mention when all is said and done I have great homemade gifts to give to friends and family.

If I have to participate, at least part of it is going to be on my terms. 
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