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.

Clearly Clicking Ahead

Three weeks ago, it was Entirely Too Soon to tell you all just how much better it seemed that life was getting.  Now that I have had three weeks of relative (gasp!) happiness, steadiness of mood, positive feelings, and lack of severe depression, I am here to confirm that I am quite giddily at a (fairly) solid, maybe slightly elevated baseline.  After over a year of soul crushing depression that never let up for longer than a day during that period, what I feel most is sweet relief.  Over the past year, I was fairly positive that I was never going to ever, ever, ever experience a “happy day” ever again.  Thankfully, I was wrong.

lifeislovely

I feel clear-minded, I feel optimistic, I feel like issues can be worked on, I feel like my toolbox is full, I feel as if I have great love in my life.  I feel so good that I worry my mood is getting too elevated.  This feels a lot like hypomania, building into mania, but I would really like to believe that it’s just good, solid, level, positive feelings.  Bipolar disorder is cruel in that it makes a person unable to trust their own feelings, their emotions, their behaviors.

So, I choose to believe this is happiness.  I choose to believe that a combination of a happy home with LarBear and satisfaction with learning new things and the addition of quite a bit of mental health groups and programs has resulted in a happy Rosa.  It doesn’t hurt that it is Spring, and the weather has been beautiful.  It doesn’t hurt that I have finally crossed the line from willfulness to willingness, and that I am really and truly being honest with myself about my feelings and thoughts.

I have been keeping very busy, between DBT and individual therapy (both talk and art) and art groups and the newest addition, a peer mentor.  My mental health maintenance and my art are now primarily my “job.”  And really, I am working on it all several hours each day, but not so much that I am getting burned out and not so little that I am just sitting around wasting time.

I find that, the more time I can spend being creative and creating things, the happier I am.  For the last several months, it has been jewelry, and more recently, I have moved into papercrafting.  I find that I love learning new techniques and skills, and I find that I am quite good at working with my hands, which surprises me to no end.

I feel that, to make the creativity complete, I need to get back to writing regularly, even if it’s just a 300-word essay on the blog.  I miss it, and I miss the connections I make with other bloggers.  So, I’ll try once again and write semi-regularly.  That’s all I can do, is try.

My main goal, or the goal overall, is to not wallow in my misery.  That is easy to say when not depressed, but super terribly hard when in the depths.  For as long as I can, though, I am going to face any issues head-on, I am going to be effective, and I am going to use every skill I have to keep my mood relatively stable.

This happiness thing, whether it be hypomania on the road to mania or just true happiness, is something worth working for, something worth putting all of the eggs into the basket for.  To have felt the lowest of lows for so long, and to now feel like life is worth living and that the world around is so amazing and beautiful, yeah, I want to hang onto that.

happiness-flowchart

 

 

Taking Back the Happiness Key

Keys

I’m not old by any means, but at thirty-four years of age, I have learned a few things.  Many of them have solidified here in my brain quite recently, but there is no less reason to celebrate, and no other reason to not be joyful that the lessons WERE learned.  I believe that one of the most important lessons I have learned references the above photo, and not letting others hold the key to your happiness.

I spent the majority of my life figuring this one out, and now that it is fairly stuck in my head, I have absolutely no intention on letting it slip back out again.  Not to say that I won’t have moments when I don’t misplace said key or loan it to someone that isn’t worthy, but overall, the key to my own happiness resides within me, and I can’t be any more pleased to have finally figured out this life lesson.

Part of a Rosa problem, is to let the actions (and sometimes inactions) of people around me, bring me down.  Through DBT and individual therapy, and just a whole lot of pondering, I have realized that what other people do or don’t do, is entirely up to them; it is my REACTION only that I control.  If someone acts offensively toward me, I might wonder what that had to do with me, and be very confused (or scared or upset or other negative emotion).

Here recently, I have realized that sometimes people behave badly for no reason (or, no reason to do with something I can control).  I can walk away.  AND, I can walk away with my head held high, because I have learned another lesson the hard way — this is not about me, and not everything IS about me.  I am not the center of most people’s universe, so just because they throw sticks and stones my way, doesn’t mean it is about me.

I wish I could have realized some of these lessons when I was much, much younger.  Growing up in a household where one parent often flew off the handle for (seemingly) no reason, and spending a lot of time thinking that things were my fault — much displaced guilt, shame, fear.

Being in romantic relationships where I was constantly being bullied, although I could never see a *why* in it, but just figured it was something I “had” to take — how I wish I wouldn’t have lingered in those situations so long.  Knowing that I may not have, knowing that I hold the key to my own happiness and it is my reactions to other people (and their behavior) that I am able to control…wow, if I could only have known those things then.

So where to go from here?  I have already stopped taking the bullstuff of others so personally.  When someone around me is having a bad time, I don’t always assume it is because of something I have done.  If I am feeling down or blue or sad or anxious, I have tools that I pull out to make myself feel better.

It doesn’t always work, but it seems that I have learned to better comfort myself, rather than constantly seeking comfort from another person.  Now, I still do seek comfort from others, but I am also now much more likely to do the things I know how to do to comfort myself first.  This makes for better relationships all around, especially if I am not begging someone else (generally QoB or my Dad or LarBear) to comfort me all the time.

comfort myself

via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

 

 

 

This Week in Gratitude

I used to do a link-up that was a 10-things of thankful, and I did quite enjoy doing it every weekend.  The format has changed now, and I can’t find any linkups, so I decided that at the end of every week, I will go out on my own and do a gratitude post.  There are so many things out there to be thankful for, yet it is easy to not bring them to one’s consciousness in a mindful way.  SO, this is part DBT exercise, part because-I-wanna exercise, and mostly because I want to remember the good stuff, for when the time are NOT so good.

Without further adeiu:

  1.  This week, I am thankful for the four-cup coffee pot my mom purchased for me.  I had a huge coffeepot before, and the result was always that I would drink the entire contents every morning, which would leave me sick.  Ok, so yes, no self-control.  To remedy the situation, I gave up caffeine, but have started to miss it oh-so-much, so this is the solution.  The theory — the less coffee that is made, the less I will drink.
  2. LarBear has been a champ this week (well, every week), but especially this week, with helping me get a caffeine fix every morning even when there was no coffee pot.  I’m not sure why a large coffee at McDonald’s must cost $1.95, but it is clear we will be saving money now with brewing it at home.  Oh, and LarBear can avoid going out in 25 degree weather, all for the sake of a cup of coffee.  I think he will appreciate that!
  3. The very small mouse problem that started a couple weeks ago in my basement (this is what happens when you live in the country), is no more, after Mom’s boyfriend hooked us up with some poison.  I placed it carefully where the dogs couldn’t get to it and there has not been one sign of a mouse ever since.
  4. I am thankful that I have found it within myself to continue to work on giving second chances and third chances and fourth chances to people in my life who, well, may not deserve it (from the outside looking in).  It can be really hard to give up on someone who has been around your entire life, although not impossible.
  5. In a related thankfulness/gratitude moment, I am grateful that I can still see the good in most people, even when it is buried very deep below the surface.
  6. I am excited about Thanksgiving plans, getting to see the Big Dawg’s side of the family, and possibly going to see my maternal grandfather’s side of the family a few days after the big Turkey Day.
  7. Somewhat related, I am very grateful that I am *with it* enough to think about doing these things, and being around all of these people (that I am not used to).  Baby steps, Rosa.
  8. I am grateful basketball season is upon us, and I have already made it to two games at the local college.  Go Bods!
  9. I am thankful for interpersonal communication effectiveness skills learned in DBT, as it seems like LarBear and I get clearer with each other every day, and my other relationships continue to improve, as well.
  10. I am grateful/thankful/proud that I have cranked out almost one post every other day for over a week, and don’t feel any signs of slowing down yet.  I am grateful people still read, still comment, still like, and still listen, even after all this time.  Some of my favorite people are my online blog friends, and I am glad I didn’t mess that up too terribly with my extended absence.

What are you grateful for this week?  Making these lists may seem a bit mundane now, but they are very helpful to look back on in the future when things might not be so rosy.  I know they have helped me tremendously!

Bright and Shiny

That’s me, in the moment.  I just came home from a two-plus hour workout (arms and cardio) and am feeling on top of the world.  My relationship with LarBear is going great, I finally have some non-itch-producing laundry detergent and one load down, I am blogging for the first time in five million eons, and Kizzie is possibly done unearthing moles out of the backyard for today.  Sometimes, its the little things.

Yesterday, the day before, the day before, so on and so on, lots of anxiety.  Actually, lots of anxiety since my last ECT one week before this past Wednesday.  ‘Tis a serious death anniversary week for me, one of my hardest, and it has been just as brutal this year as in years past.  I did get to see QoB last night though and do a little crying on my Momma’s shoulder, which helped immensely, even if she doesn’t realize it.

A lot of the anxiety I am having is also because I am having a really hard time remembering things and am also, at times, extremely confused and almost disoriented.  The beauty of ECT, though, is that I have forgotten a lot of the bad stuff, or, at least the details are not so crisp.  Very few nasty and scary memories still play in my mind as if on a movie screen.  Things are either blurry and hazy or not present at all.  I am hoping some of that stuff never comes back!

I think LarBear and I are going to try going to church this weekend.  Maybe.  No commitments but possibly.  We found one that seems promising, just have to give it a shot.  I have been trying to find things to do to build structure, and that would be one of those things.  I am also going to add DBT groups back in, as well as the good possibility of a water-walking class to go along with the water aerobics I am going to start doing at the YMCA.

Lots of good stuff here.  I hope to be back soon, friends!

Getting the Real Answer

“How are you?”

“How are you doing?”

“How are things?”

“How is your day going?”

Innocuous little questions, right?  They’re just a transitional phrase used to get to the next part of the desired conversation.  Usually, that is.  I often don’t know when I should respond with “terrible” or “fine.”  My tendency to lead towards fine is there, but at the same time, if I’m not quite honest, more is expected out of me in the ensuing conversation than I may be able to give.

Of course, if your therapist or your pdoc is asking, you’re going to tell it like it is.  Hopefully, anyway.  I went back to see Dr. Wizard today and explained to him my symptoms.  Continued depression, brain fog, returned crying spells, poor sleep, and racing thoughts.  He decided to keep the Geodon where it’s at (180mg) and increase the Abilify (now 10mg).  He also prescribed more sleeping medication (the same stuff as before) except at twice the strength.  He says, depending on how my July 9th appointment goes, we will lower the Geodon some more and raise the Abilify.  It was in my best interests during this conversation to be as candid with the good doc as possible.

Now I get back to town and I run into work to do a couple quick errands.  One of the employees (who knows where I was last week) asked me how I was doing and I gave him the standard, “hanging in there,” answer.  It wasn’t appropriate in that situation to tell him how shitty I feel, but at the same time it would be rude to blow a lie into  his face about how great I’m feeling.  I did my two little errands and ran off — it was hard to be there with customers and worrying if the customers will speak to me and how I will respond.  I’m just not ready to be back yet.  I hope I will be soon; just not yet.

Then I ran into the Big Dawg.  He also wanted to know how I was doing, so I said, “crappy, but I will be fine.”  Of course, this is some variation on the truth.  I do feel crappy, but everything will turn out in the long run.  He seemed happy to see me out and about, so I didn’t want to burst his bubble too terribly much.  At the same time I didn’t want to give him false hope, because the chances of him seeing me in a crying jag in the near future are pretty high.

By the time I got to Mom’s house, I was teetering on the edge.  I told her all about how bad I felt and how non-functional I was and of course, I cried.  Cried my eyes out and whined and cried some more.  Thank goodness at this point she is used to it and doesn’t freak out when this happens.  She told me to “chillax” for awhile and she was going to do some planting in her garden.  The theory was that we were going to get to the grocery store for me today.  I hope we do, because I don’t have any food, but at the same time, I am dreading it.

When my blog demands the questions, “how are you?”, sometimes I just lie and make things sound better than they really are.  Sometimes I am honest, too honest, and I feel exposed.  Today is one of those days I will be honest.

I am sleep-deprived and sleepy, all at the same time.  I am feeling positive that I was able to see my therapist yesterday and Dr. Wizard today.  I am hopeful that these med changes will be great ones and I”m hoping like hell I don’t have to go into the hospital again.  My brain feels foggy and like I can’t pay attention, and driving is almost scary at this point.  I have very little ability to concentrate.  I feel sad, depressed, out-of-sorts.  I feel kind of like someone close to me just died and I am going through a grieving process.  I am anxious and skittish.  I feel afraid for what lies ahead, in the short term and long term.

I spent the entire 45 minute drive to therapy yesterday replaying conversations with DSB in my head and thinking that maybe it’s MY fault that he treated me the way he did and that I should have done something differently so he would have stayed.  Except, I didn’t want him to stay is what I finally realized.  Why he should come up at a time like this, I don’t know.  Maybe because he was here the last time the shit hit the fan.  Perhaps.

I feel guilty because I am barely reading any blogs, but will start doing more of that when I am able.  I know everyone is writing great stuff, so if you see that I came by and liked something but didn’t comment, it’s not personal.  I am just unable to string a few words together sometimes, but I want you to know that I stopped by.

I feel guilty I am not working, am not cooking, am not cleaning, am not doing much of anything.  I feel like a leech on my parents, but they continue to assure me this is not the case.  I feel like I am harrassing the mental health center, and while this may be true, I am in need of help and I will fight for it.

Because there’s one thing I do have, out of all the negative emotions and feelings, I still have FIGHT left within myself and I will not let bipolar disorder get one over on me at this point.

Episode, Schmepisode

I haven’t blogged for the last several days because I haven’t felt I had anything of import to say.  I’ve also been less than motivated, full of self-criticism, and in general avoiding any kind of reaching out.

I saw my therapist on Tuesday.  About a month and a half ago, I had switched to seeing her every other week.  With a few cancelled appointments due to snow, DSB illness, and other random occurances, I managed to see her twice in six weeks.  Not good.

During our meeting on Tuesday, I decided that I wanted to go back to seeing her once a week.  I am on a somewhat steady path, and am ready to tackle some demons that have been haunting me for several years.  I’m ready to take on the trauma issues, the self-confidence issues, the self-assurance issues.  I’m ready to take on things that I have just dealt with that need to be changed.

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling a bit purposeless, but with these new therapy goals, I feel like I am taking life by the proverbial horns again.  I am not a person who does well with doing this, undirected.  I feel confident that I can resolve many problems with the help of my therapist, and the support of DSB and family.

One of the things that I want to do is be better-informed, as in, possibly start keeping up with news and current events.  I have such a good time talking about things like this with my Dad and he is always super well-informed, watching the news and reading the paper daily.  I want to have more conversations like this.  I want to contribute.  I want to have something to say, an opinion, an idea.

I am also considering returning to group DBT on a weekly basis.  I have talked with my therapist and she thinks it is a really good idea.  It helped me a few years ago when I went through it, but my experiences with it this last time were not good.  I told my therapist that I only wanted to attend her group and she said she would be  happy to welcome me.  I have a lot of trust and faith in this therapist, and really enjoyed her in IOP (intensive outpatient group).  I am hopeful that group DBT will be helpful for me again.

So, as the title states, I don’t think this is an episode.  I am thinking of it as a bump in the road, a nail in the tire, a nagging headache.  It will pass in due time, and with some work, things can be a lot better.