The Borderline’s Dilemma: Don’t Fight the Calm Waters in Life

I am generally one to exaggerate any given idea, event, moment, description, but it is truer than true that my life is really pretty darn okay right now, and has been for a little while.

Yes, there are bumps in the road, but I am using skills more frequently (and without overthinking) to get through the bumps, and the bumps pass much faster than they ever used to.

For once in my life, I can say that my stress level is relatively low, and while that is super and great and amazing, the mental health issues I deal with can make me take calm and serenity and throw it out the window, to replace it with something a lot more familiar, like drama.

Yes, I am saying it:  My life is good right now and it is a daily, sometimes moment-to-moment struggle to not sabotage the hell out of it.  I have my slips mostly with LarBear, and he is very forgiving and never holds those little fits against me.  He knows what is going on, just as I do.  Things are good, and it is hard sometimes when things are good, because that is just so unfamiliar.

 

I laughed when I saw this post on Facebook, but there is such a grain of truth to it.  How many days in the last five years did I basically not get out of bed, or get up and get showered or dressed?  A lot, y’all, too many to count.  I spent months at a time not even leaving my house.

Now that I have regular activities like church and social whatnots and am exercising at the local pool every day, I am finding that I actually LIKE being out and about.  I don’t like to be out all the time, but I like it more than I ever thought I would.  Because things were the opposite for so long, sometimes I start to fall into a pattern where I ignore my social obligations, my appointments, the pool, these new people I have met, but I find myself turning the mind quickly back to this semi-stability that I have gathered (through a ton of hard work).

 

After years of angst, I finally have the people in my life that I need and deserve, and I have enough self-respect to cut ties when things are toxic or harmful in some way.  I still give people far too many chances, but I rarely let another person really harm me without slamming the door in his/her face.  I truly believe that the church family that has come into my life recently was meant to be, that the people in my exercise classes and at the YMCA were meant to be in my life right now for specific reasons.  I especially see now how my relationships with family members have changed for the positive, and how it could not have happened before.  And of course, some may tire of hearing it, but LarBear was certainly paired with me by something more purposeful than chance.

I really think that the key to my happiness now, and the methods that I employ to stay that way and to avoid fighting the peace within and without, is that I am doing things in my life every day that I love, with people that I love, with intention and purpose.  I have an amazing amount of love in my heart that is poured in by others, and my heart is full enough to pour into others, as well, which makes my heart even fuller.  Being positive and doing what is effective, is what works.  Keeping a close eye on your mood and your thoughts and your feelings, is very important.  I think so much of it just boils down to paying attention and to living a life you love.  That may sound oversimplified, but that is my sound bite.

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Resurfacing After a Period of Extreme Selfishness

I have barely looked at another blog, have stopped interacting with nearly everyone I follow on FaceBook, have ceased communications with the small handful of people that I had usually communicated with on a semi-regular basis, and I went underground.  My friend Marilyn had talked to me previously about hunkering down and waiting for the storms to pass, and I guess maybe I took that to extremes a bit.

The positive news about my (relatively) short hiatus from all others in my world is that:

  1.  I have been smoke-free since January 3rd.  Parts of it were hard, parts of it were nearly impossible, but I have made it this far and I don’t plan on turning back.  As a bonus to this accomplishment, I did this without totally wearing out my (now) miniaturized support system.  (as in, no dogs or boyfriends or close family members were harmed in the obtaining of over three months smoke free…yay!)
  2. I have lost 67ish pounds since December, thanks to a healthy eating plan (that is sustainable in the long-run) and almost-daily aerobic exercise.  It turns out that “those people” were actually right about exercise being good for your mood, body, and overall well-being.
  3. I have become “more social.”  That doesn’t mean I am hitting up the grocery store or going to parties or any such nonsense.  It means that, at the YMCA where I exercise every day, it is kind of similar to how it was on the long-ago “Cheers” sitcom, where everyone really DOES know my name.  I must say, it does make exercising easier, to have all of those supportive people around.
  4. I have more “stuff” figured out in my life.  Although therapy  has been helpful, I have mostly grown in life because I am learning what makes me happy and I am learning to say “no” when something doesn’t feel good and I am (constantly) trying something new every day to grow myself.

I have missed blogging pretty terribly, and have missed some of my blog friends even more, but my hopes is that I can reconnect with people easier now that I am a bit more stable.  I would love to start writing in this thing again.  I don’t know if anyone really cares about that, save for me, but I do miss writing things out.  I have been keeping an altered art journal, and writing pretty regularly in that by hand, and I plan to keep that up, but again, am hoping to maybe throw a few words up in this space every now and again.

If there is a thought in your head that I have forgotten about you, chances are pretty much 99% that this is not the case, that I just needed to disappear for awhile.  I am not going to do a bunch of shout-outs right here and now, just know I have missed you and I hope we can catch up soon.  I am bringing a happier, calmer, and healthier Rosa to the table, and I hope you stop by and say hi soon!

100% Success Rate For Over 35 Years

That’s right, I have kept myself alive 100% of the time for over 35 years now.  Maybe that’s a funny way of looking at things, but when you live a life that very often involves suicidal ideation or, on the flip side, very dangerous and risky behavior, you have to figure that 100% is a pretty good number at the end of a 35 year stretch.

For all of the moments of “give up” I have had in the past, the fleeting “give ups” that I have at present, and the “give ups” that I know are going to be thoughts in my future as a person who deals with mental illness, I can say that, at this very moment in time, I have no “give ups” in me, at this current time.

Of course, that could change within the next hour or week or month or whatever period of time you can conceive of.  And, it probably will.  But when things are semi-ok, when I have a day, even just a single day where I feel like I have passed through like a semi-successful human being, I need to write it down, to commemorate it, to throw it a freaking ticker-tape parade.  Sometimes I can go really long stretches without a day like today, and every great once in awhile, I will have a string of “give up” free days.  I don’t have a string of them at the moment, but I have today.

Today was a pretty good day.  I had only very fleeting thoughts of going up, and for the most part my mind just kept pushing me to go on farther, harder, faster, better, more efficient, more brave.  I went into a craft store today, and I did not totally freak out while inside, and spent the better part of 30 minutes in there.  That is no small feat, because as a general rule for the past months, I go absolutely nowhere, not even usually to appointments.

But I had a gift card, and the wise mind part of me knows that, if I have materials that inspire me, I will be more likely to do crafting-type-stuff, which, generally, makes me feel a little better.  I pushed myself to go to the craft store, and I had my lucky, ever-consistent LarBear with me, and I did ok.  I didn’t do amazing or great, but I did ok, and I ended up with some new beads that I am pretty excited about.

Even bigger than that adventure, was the fact that I went into a Kwik Shop gas station and picked out my own bottle of water and used the restroom and stayed inside the whole time, even waiting in line with LarBear to pay, and didn’t flee to the safety of the car.  This is an even bigger deal because I have never ever been inside this gas station or into any place of business in this section of town.  I pushed myself because I knew I had to.  I pushed myself because I want to get better and be able to go more places.  And maybe, just maybe, I pushed so hard because I really, really needed to pee.  Whatever the motivation, I’ll take it.

I know I do better when I use skills like build mastery and build structure, which is basically exactly what it sounds like.  Building mastery can range from doing everyday things like cooking a meal to learning a new skill.  It is basically (in my eyes), anything that you can do that you can look at and say, “that is me being productive.”  Building structure is also just like it sounds, keeping a day full and not having too much down time.

Building structure and building mastery are the two skills that are going to give me real success, in the long run, if I can keep them up.  I am looking at what I have done today and I am pleased.  I have made a plan for what I am doing tomorrow, and I have detailed it out on paper.  If I can stick with it, I will have possibly another day of success.

A more stable length of time is started with stringing one day together after another, and so I have my evening yesterday when I made a new recipe and cleaned up the house a bit, and I have today, with the shopping and getting out in public and cooking a healthy dinner.  Hopefully I am able to follow through on tomorrow’s plans, or at least some variation.

Right now, at this moment, I have no “give up” in me, and there is really nothing else I can ask for, more than that.

Gaining Freedom from a Stilted Life

via inkbeauty.wordpress.com

Wow, how things do change.  I mean really, completely, 180 degree change.  So much of me, who I am, what I do on a day-to-day basis, who I love, what I tolerate and don’t, what I strive for and what I brush to the side, what is important and what can wait…it has all changed.  None of it has changed overnight, but I would say that I am a very different person than I was in, say, 2012, when I had to give up on my last job and start the arduous process of re-inventing myself.

And again, in 2014, when a relationship had laid me out, broken in pieces on the floor, and it was necessary to re-invent.  Finally again over the course of the last two years, more re-inventing, and now, more knowing who I really am.  Finding yourself and finding recovery, finding things you never thought possible about yourself, coming to different conclusions about the same issues that had tripped you up over the years, coming to grips with various events (traumas, even) with the use of radical acceptance and direct pleas to a power above and hour upon hour of therapy and quiet introspection.

The most basic thing that has changed, with all of this reinvention and acceptance and coming-to-grips-business, is that I have destigmatized my mental illness, at least TO MYSELF.  I don’t see myself as bipolar Rosa anymore.  I see Rosa, who happens to deal with x, y, and z mental illnesses.  In my own head, over the years (many, many years), I had become my illness in my head, to myself.  I had boxed myself in, and put packing tape round and created this tiny little space that I thought I needed to live in.  It is only very recently that I realize that I can live in the world, and not just in the box, and it is even more recently that I can put words on it.

Three wise women (Thank you, Mom, Goddess of Mindfulness, and Marilyn) in my life have consistently reminded me that everything I go through is not due to a direct cause of bipolar disorder, or BPD, or PTSD, or any other label.  Much of what I go through, the hard times and the good times and most-of-the-times is just LIFE, and everyone else is also going through LIFE.  Sure, the disorders I deal with may affect my outlook on life, or may color my reactions to life, but a lot of the bad things that happen are happening, because life is happening, not because there is a certain label on my file.

I have more positive things going on, since I have accepted that I am not just a label, than ever before.  I have started my custom jewelry business, and am working hard at getting it off the ground, my symptoms are better controlled, I take better care of myself, I am a better girlfriend, and a better daughter and sister, I am exercising and I stay busy.  I am teaching myself from the ground up how to set boundaries with others, and while it can be altogether confusing, I am changing what behavior I will and won’t tolerate from other people.  I am reaching out.

There is a part of me that can’t believe that I am just now “getting this.”  There is a very small part of me that doesn’t understand why it took so long, or how I could have flailed for so long, but I try hard not to beat myself up about that part of it.  The point is that there is progress and there is moving forward.

This is all 34 years in the making, of course, and I’m fully aware that if I am not vigilant about doing the things every day that I must do in order to feel decent, that this could just derail and fly off the tracks.  Every day is a new challenge, every situation that comes about I am treating as new, teaching my mind and my heart how to do this life thing, and how to do it well.

 

I finally feel like I have some freedom, have some breathing room, and can be completely and totally and authentically Rosa, without feeling the need for a “yes, but…”  That is a big feeling, a huge feeling, a hard-to-describe feeling.  A punched-in-the-gut-and-can’t-breathe-feeling.  I finally see, life is strange, but it is also, so very beautiful, so very fragile, and so very worth-the-wait.

 

Making Choices About Who to Give Love and Time To

At some point, I made up my mind to stop projecting my thoughts of self-hatred onto other people.  I mean, I’ve made up my mind to do that a few times within the course of my life, but I have really committed to it, at this juncture.  I had grown tired of feeling belittled and invalidated by the comments of others, and found that, while sometimes the other person was at fault, sometimes it was all in my head.

Even keeping this in mind, there are times in our lives when we have to go through the people in our circle, and evaluate who is helping us and who is hurting us.  Sometimes it is the person we least suspect who is actually hurting us.  Often it is a person we don’t think of often, who we don’t talk to much, or just aren’t that close to anymore who is injecting poisonous and negative thoughts into our lives at every random encounter.

This has been the case with my life, I have found.  I have shored up my defenses and boundaries, where it really was lacking and was necessary, but found that I had a few little relationships with others here and there, some I thought very important, some not so much, that I have recently realized that I would simply be better off without.

Last week, I went about the process of figuring out how to terminate the peer mentor process that I have been going through.  After examining what happens at our appointments, thinking about what positives this time-consuming activity brings to my life, I realized that this program is not a good fit for me.  Very little productivity comes out of these meetings, and it is all too clear that my peer support person is working on nothing with me, and is in fact harming me with some of her suggestions.

She suggested I quit DBT groups.  Wow.  Really?  I mean, yes, they drive me crazy, but they are one of the main things keeping me going.  She doesn’t take medication, and is somewhat anti-medication, as well.  She has a negative view of LarBear, and is very opinionated and judgmental.  I just don’t feel I am getting anything positive from the relationship, and in fact I generally feel more anxious and worse in general (about myself) after I see her.

So, I made the decision after speaking with my DBT therapist and my regular therapist, and QoB, LarBear, so on and so forth.  I am no longer going to subject myself to these appointments just because I feel like I *should.*  I am also not willing to be in contact with someone who is flailing along, while trying to help me.  If you are a peer mentor, you should have your life at least somewhat together, you shouldn’t be laying out all of your own problems at each meeting, and I shouldn’t feel like I am the one giving you advice at all times.  I don’t feel comfortable in this relationship at all, anymore.  It is therefore over.

And that is exactly the problem I am having with a few of the smaller, more acquaintance-type relationships in my life.  As if I have explained myself over and over, and the other person isn’t willing (or able) to change.  And in some cases, I just feel like the other person doesn’t care, and I tire sometimes of chasing my tail to make other people happy.  I need to chase my tail to make myself happy, not to benefit other people.  Sometimes there is only so much you can give of yourself to others, and if they don’t give a little back, you can’t keep giving yourself, over and over.

One of the biggest parts of my mental health road right now is to surround myself with people that nurture me, not those who hurt me.  I am putting distance between myself and other people for a reason, and one of the biggest things, is if you never reach out to me, I might just stop reaching out to you.  What happens then?  Change has to happen, is what happens then, and if no change happens, then I might have to give up on some things that I thought could be good, because it turned out that they couldn’t.

 

Accepting a Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis: First Stages (Again)

As time passes, old wounds can grow over as we pay so much attention to the current moment, but sometimes something happens, and while we might not even know what that something is, on Monday we may be fine, but when we wake up on Tuesday, you are covered in weeping sores.  Not on your body, of course, but those “emotional third-degree burns” that Marsha Linehan (Queen of all things DBT) refers to when she talks about people with borderline personality disorder.

It just so happens that Borderline Personality Disorder has been on my diagnosis list, off and on, depending who you ask, for a very long time.  Since this past April, it is now very much on my diagnosis list, and I have been instructed to process this.  And I have, and as much as I don’t want an additional label, I do meet criteria for the disorder and I have read books and articles and webpages about it, and it all just screams my name.  If you aren’t familiar with the disorder, I really would encourage you to look at the link I provided above, or even Google search for articles.

I have talked it over with my therapist, and it isn’t that I have BPD in place of Bipolar Disorder, but that the two illnesses interact to make each other much worse and much harder to treat.  I have put off making any kind of announcement on this blog about the “new” diagnosis, but now I am very certain it is something I am dealing with and have dealt with for a large part of my life.

I was afraid that I would be judged, that others would leap to conclusions about me, that people wouldn’t really understand, would just see a “broken” person.  There is a great deal of stigma about mental illness in the world, and there is even more stigma and misinformation about BPD out there, than most disorders.  This is something I am going to live with the rest of my life, and I will consistently  have to manage my life in such a way that I do not devolve into all of the maladaptive behaviors and patterns that it is so easy to slip into.

There’s really a lot to this, and much more that I wanted to say.  What I really wanted to do, though, was finally get the information out there, make the admission, state the obvious,  whatever.   I will follow-up with more thoughts about this (and all sorts of other stuff, too, I’m sure).  My world is shaky right now, but I’m doing as much therapy and DBT and whatnot as possible,  and if worse comes to worst, I always have LarBear and my family.  Not everyone can say that, and I am especially thankful for them and their patience.