And all is well, because, even when things aren’t really all that well, they really might be anytime in the next few seconds or days or weeks or months. A year, maybe, at worst, but things tend to get back to a sort of homeostasis with me and stay that way for at least a week, sometimes longer, not usually shorter than a few days.
At the ripe old age of 36, I’ve discovered that the almighty “how are you doing” question is quite highly overrated and can really only measure a very finite period of time, and is really only a relevant question if you want to know how I am doing right at that moment.
Maybe it isn’t this way for everyone, but I have very little ability to look back over the past lengthy period of time and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, mostly because, at least for me, life is, in general, quite up and down on a given week.
I don’t even like filling out that paper at the therapist’s office that asks you to rate your week “on average,” because in a given week I can have suicidal thoughts while during the same week feel intense feelings of contentment and happiness.
No, it’s not like that every week, but it is like that a lot of weeks. I highly suspect most people are similar. That borderline diagnosis that they like to slap on me from time to time, that I don’t resist that much anymore, sums up the generally extreme reactivity I have to my environment and the emotional “third degree burns” that do seem to continually pop up no matter how much therapeutic salve I slather on them.
I am getting to the point (GASP!) that I am just beginning to accept all of this. So I am emotionally reactive, so things seem terrible and horrible and beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. Well, that is just a day in the life of Rosa, and probably a lot of other people, most who wouldn’t dare admit to such crazytalking.
I think so many of us, and even more of us who deal with mental illness of some sort, believe that the up and down and up and down of the bipolar/BPD/borderline/whatever-you-wanna-call-it roller coaster is just one big fat symptom. I think maybe, just maybe, it’s life, and even more, it’s what you make of it.
I don’t want to spend my whole life (as I have spent much of this blog), bemoaning the lowest of lows and glorifying the highest of highs (not to say that I will not continue to do so, because writing about it is therapeutic in itself). Instead, there needs to be more living in the moment, more striving to make each day better with the choices that I am able to make about what activities I participate in and who I surround myself with and what I feed my brain and my body.
I have felt this sense of wellness before, about my general feelings that I am likely and very quite possibly a little crazier than at least some, and the feeling of wellness has always occurred when I started taking care of my business.
I am building structure, I am exercising daily, I am eating right, I am taking care of my relationships, I am taking care of what I feed my brain, I am sitting in front of my sunlamp and I am engaging other people (outside of the Internet) through social activities (such as at the pool in exercise class or at the mental health center in groups), I am attending multiple modalities of therapy, I am creating something new everyday, I am crafting jewelry and papercrafts and hugging my dog and being nice to my boyfriend and getting plenty of fresh air and all of those things I know I need to do.
How did I learn to do all of that? Well, it’s all pretty simple DBT skills, actually put to use. That’s the key there: put to use.
As an aside, I took a test (for fun) while I was collaging at art therapy today (because my AT is an absolute nut and quirky and everything an art therapist should be), and it determined that I demonstrated a moderate internal locus of control.
Meaning that, I believe that if something is going to happen, I have to make it happen. I don’t believe in luck, I believe in actively doing. It struck me that this is what I am doing now. While for the longest time I was waiting for some external force to come and sweep me out of depression, it turns out that all I really needed to do was make some choices, force myself to start building structure, using DBT skills, and those skills build one upon each other.
Right now, and for the past little while, things have been good, really pretty good, rising up from being pretty roller-coaster-ish…and I attribute that to DBT, to making things happen, and to getting off my butt and DOING.
The act of not doing is so much easier, but the act of DOING, doing ANYTHING at all, is what is keeping me going.
8 thoughts on “All is Well, All is Well, All is Well: How to Settle the Up-Down Roller-Coaster of BPD and Bipolar Disorder”
Let me start by saying I have always hated people who casually ask “How are you” and I just know if I try to answer them, they will probably collapse.
More than that, this is brilliantly well written. Whatever else may be going on in your life? You write REALLY REALLY well and I’m not saying that casually. I read a lot of blogs, including my own and i read very few that are as good as yours. You should really think about doing some serious writing. Aside from being exceptionally good at it, it is also excellent therapy. I do not give out compliments very often. In fact, almost never.
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First of all, I totally agree. People don’t want the “real” answer to “how are you?” and if they did, they would be sure never to ask again after getting a rundown of all the goings-on of late.
I really appreciate your compliments on my writing. I know you do not give compliments lightly, if at all, and I take that to heart. I have often thought about writing more seriously and it is in these times that I feel better, more stable that I feel like that might actually be possible. So, stay tuned, I don’t think this is just going to be a random blog post, I think there will be more coming. Again, thank you for the compliment — it means the world, coming from the source.
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A thoughtful, excellent post, Rosa. Well done.
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Thank you, Cynthia. I have been wanting to sit down and really write for awhile now. Funny how much easier it is to do that when I am feeling more on top of my game. Here is to more writing.
PS #loveyourshell ❤
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hi rose. i am new to your blog. great to read such positivity! Its good to know that DBT is helpful to you! xx
You were lucky. There is no group therapy here in my country. Only individual therapy can be done. Also, the doctors and psychologists are all trainees and don’t have much experience so it’s a disaster. I am not familiar with this DBT technique. I’d like to meet you. I suffer from anxiety. I was abused as a child and never found out who it was. 😔