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.

Dear Gramps

I have read of such loss lately, Gramps, and just like it always does, any loss (whether it’s mine or my family’s or the guy down the road or my good friend losing her dog or a tragic ending in a book) reminds me of the late August night, almost 12 years ago, when Big Dawg came and picked me up in a raging thunderstorm to go see you one last time.

I remember I was on a low-carb diet at the time, and I had just started eating dinner — flank steak and broccoli and salad.  I still can’t use that particular seasoning rub to this day, without nearly breaking down in my kitchen.  I don’t remember exactly what was said, but whatever was said, I had hopes in my head that I was going to get to talk to you again and hear your scratchy and gruff voice say my name, Rosie.

It didn’t turn out that way.  You were wrapped in a white sheet from head to toe and on a gurney and I touched your chest and put my face close to yours and my whole world exploded and, while I don’t remember the exact details, I remember hearing a howling noise and then realizing that noise was me and shutting my eyes tight and saying something about how I had just seen you a few days before and you had been FINE.  FINE, DAMMIT.

I turned back around because I wanted to kiss your cheek before they took you away, but I was in a big empty room, just me and QoB and BD and some nursing staff.  I couldn’t tolerate that I had ruined my chance to say goodbye to you by getting overly emotional.  Whoever thought it was a good idea to wheel you off at that point was obviously a person that did not know me deeply.

The next week was a blur.  I tried to go into work, failed miserably.  Everyone around me was a complete wreck.  I can remember going through pictures to put up at the memorial service and I remember breaking down into tears time and time again.  Hysterical tears, hot tears, fast-moving, and unforgiving tears.

I still don’t remember much of that time, but I do know that I think of you all the time.  The wounds have healed over some, but I still have regret.  That I didn’t see you often enough or say thank you enough or stop by with a box of Cheez-its (our special favorite) just to say hi.  It was so hard being around Grandma, I just wanted my Grandpa back, the one who gardened on his knees for hours on end, even when he could barely walk, and the Grandpa that taught me how to drive by having me take back-roads from Topeka to Silver Lake at every opportunity.

The grandpa after the apartment with Sparky was sad, when he had to live with grandma again, when he didn’t feel as good physically, when PTSD from his time in the Navy rattled him as it never had before, when he couldn’t drive, couldn’t walk, couldn’t do whatever the hell it was he wanted to do.  Because he was like that, he was a man who did whatever he pleased.  If he wanted to whip up a bunch of refrigerator pickles, then he was going to do it, and if he felt like taking a drive or going to all of your basketball games (even though he could barely walk), then that is what he was going to do.

I find that every year that passes, I lose more of my memories of him.  Some are extremely fresh in my mind, some not so much.  In a day or maybe a week where there has been so much loss, the pang to my heart from Grandpa being gone is next-to-unbearable.  Should I be over this MUCH better 12 years down the road, yes.  I don’t need anyone to tell me that.  Some things are really hard, and this is one of those really hard things.  Every loss reminds me of him, and everytime I think of him, I am frightened by how much I don’t remember.

I hope you are proud of me, Grandpa, up on that big pontoon boat in the sky, and I am pretty sure you are.  Sometimes when I don’t feel like being tough, I think about your life and it gives me strength.  I hope you would be happy for me, too.  I have found love and love conquers all, and I know that you knew that.  It is still a month and several days until the anniversary of your death, but I wanted to be the first one to say how I miss you so, and how I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the love you poured into me when you were here.  I know you weren’t into religion or going to church, but I do believe that you and Sparky (and Mom’s childhood dogs) are out there somewhere, catching crappie after crappie, and moving around with the legs and back of a 16-year-old.

Always, Forever, Amen.  I love you.

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

I Wish I Could…(Almost Wordless Wednesday)

Today, missing a person in my life who hasn’t completely left it, but pushes me away tiny bit by tiny bit.  There is so much I want to say, that I won’t, that I can’t (for various reasons).  I had a person in my life for almost 34 years who I thought loved me, for me, and treated me as his own.  Now that things are different, I yearn to be able to turn to him as I did all of those years, but my mind and heart have been so damaged by the past year, and all of his words, his actions and inactions, that I have to leave it alone.  This may end up being the first DBT complete “burning bridges” that I have to do.  I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I don’t see any change in the future, and if I look back far enough, it wasn’t usually good enough to make me feel okay in the first place.

 

 

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!