I have registered for the NAMI Walk. For anyone who doesn’t know, NAMI stands for National Alliance for Mental Illness. I’m trying to raise money, and all of it goes to NAMI! As I don’t know a lot of people in real time, I thought that I would reach out to those of you who followed my blog. All of you would understand the toll mental illness takes on the person suffering and the surrounding friends and family members. You don’t need to pledge much to sponsor me. Every little bit helps! If you’re willing to donate to this awesome cause, please visit my NAMI sponsorship page HERE. Thanks, everyone!!
For at least the past four years, I’ve been considered to have borderline personality disorder. I believe I was showing signs of it many years before, but it’s only been in the past four years that I’ve been diagnosed as such. As recently as the beginning of August, I was on Wikipedia, comparing my symptoms to those listed in the DSM IV. After reviewing the criteria for BPD those couple months ago, I reported back to Crazy Jay that I still exhibited about 95% of the symptoms. I was actually pleased back in August to see that I would still be considered a raging borderline. I was still crazy. Whew. What a relief. At that time, I believed that if I clung to the borderline personality diagnosis hard enough, I wouldn’t have to do anything to change my behavior. Don’t get me wrong: I WANTED to change. I felt miserable. My life was chaotic. I was depressed and contemplating suicide…again. I had purchased new tools to self harm…again. My problem was that I didn’t know HOW to change. In fact, I was at a point where I really thought it was next to impossible for me to make any positive changes. I tried pharmaceuticals. I tried trusting God to change me. I’d attended dialectical behavioral therapy and tried to study Marsha Linehan’s approach to helping those with BPD. I tried drinking my troubles away. I had numerous individual therapists. I tried reading books on the subject. Nothing really seemed to help me. Oh, I may have gotten better for a couple days, but I wasn’t able to hold onto the “change” for very long at all. That’s because it wasn’t a real change. I was trying to force my mind to do and believe things that went against my very core. Of course, what I believed in my core was wrong, but it still makes it difficult to change one’s behavior if old beliefs are held onto.
Jay and I started seeing a therapist together this past May. Since we both had pretty much hit rock bottom personally, our marriage was showing signs of distress. The therapist we saw was unlike any other we had sought help from in the past. If you’ve been following Crazy Jay’s and my blogs, I have been calling her “Unconventional Therapist”, and Jay has been calling her “New Age Therapy Chick”, or NATC. She focuses more on Eastern philosophies. She introduced us to the Emotional Freedom Technique which involves tapping on pressure points of the body while repeating affirmations. She uses oil remedies for emotional and physical issues. She focuses on being in the moment instead of brooding about the past or pondering the future. She also led me to the book that I feel completely changed my perspective on life in general, my attitude, and how I need be living. “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay has taught me that loving myself can go a long way in helping me feel better. Focusing on the negative will bring negative into my life. Sending negative thoughts/comments/actions into the world towards others will bring negative into my life. The best thing I can do for myself, and for everyone else is to love, respect, and forgive myself. If I am able to do that for myself, it will be much easier to do that for other people.
I have been feeling tremendously wonderful this past month. I can’t believe it’s only been a month. I never thought I would feel a fraction of the joy and overall positivity I feel now. Daily stresses don’t seem to bother me. Jay and I have a much more peaceful, understanding relationship. My anxiety has decreased to almost nothing. My depression is gone. I am treating myself better, both physically and emotionally. I do still have issues to deal with, but I feel that I can now actually focus on that issue, and take care of it so that it does not pop up and bother me again. Three months ago, however, I wouldn’t have really been able to start working on this issue. It was too difficult stepping over the steaming piles of pain, anger and depression to focus on anything else.
Today I pulled up Wikipedia’s page on borderline personality disorder. Any guesses as to how many criteria I met? Let me start by saying that, at my worst, I knocked all nine outta the park. I won’t go into any more detail about how things were at my worst, but start reading through my early blog posts if you want a clear picture. Today, however, is a new day. Today, I do not meet ONE criterion. If I was examined by a shrink or some doctor today, I would NOT be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
I know that I have only been feeling exceptionally awesome for about a month, but I can tell this time is different. This time I have changed my way of thinking and my thoughts. This time when I am nice to Jay, it is not because I am clenching my teeth shut so I don’t spew venom. This time I’m nice to Jay because all I hold in my head are soft, loving thoughts about him. I don’t allow myself to think negative thoughts. Not about myself. Not about Jay. Not about my co-workers, or traffic, or the slower cashier at the grocery store. Not even about my birth family. I am in the process of forgiving all from my past that I feel have wronged me, and I feel free. I am happy. I am content. I’ve found a way of thinking that works for me.
In the past, my BPD would come in cycles, as I’m sure is the case for most. I would have a looooong string of bad days, with a couple good thrown in. The rare good days could last from one day to maybe four or five, if I was “lucky”. Even on those “good” days, I would struggle with my thoughts. I was ALWAYS at war with my thoughts. A “good” day meant I didn’t punch a hole in the wall. I would just go to my car and punch on it so I didn’t leave marks (well, not on the car, that is). A “good” day meant I was only mean and snarky for a small portion of the day instead of the entire thing. A “good” day meant I only picked the scabs off of my arms and legs instead of creating new cuts. Even my “good” days were bad days.
I don’t expect my life to be perfect now. Of course things will come up. Things HAVE been coming up. It’s important to keep in mind that things will ALWAYS come up. That is the way of life. What matters is not what happens, but how you deal with it. What matters is not what others say or do to you. What matters is how you choose to react and what you choose to believe about yourself. I choose to love myself, tell myself I’m wonderful, and have an amazing day.
I woke up this morning and made sure I had a good attitude. I affirmed that it would be a good day, and that I was excited about the upcoming possibilities. Sounds hokey, but it made me feel pretty good. Every time I’ve thought through that affirmation, I smile. I was grinning from ear to ear on the way to work. I’m sure I looked like a fool. I know I didn’t care.
I really am amazed at how well these silly sounding affirmations work. Yesterday evening had the potential to be disastrous. Instead of thinking, “Oh no! This is going to be a crappy, stressful night. I think I’ll stay late at work to avoid it.”, I ran through positive affirmations. All afternoon and all the way home from work, I was repeating to myself “All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Only good can come from this situation. I am safe.” After a few minutes, I wasn’t anxious about the upcoming evening. This affirmation can be used for anything, but seems to be good when one is worrying or anxious. Now, I don’t know if I yet believe that we create our experiences based on our thoughts, but I know that I FELT tremendously better than I would have if I was worrying and anxious all afternoon.
I think the whole idea is that how we THINK is really what shapes an experience. If we are constantly thinking negative thoughts, we will have a lot of negative experiences. If I went home last night with the thought in my head that it was going to be a difficult evening, I probably would have walked through the door on edge. If I had been edgy, that would have made the entire situation precarious, and, most likely, explosive. I went home thinking that everything was going to work out for my good (which is a Biblical principle, so not a huge stretch for me), and I had a very nice evening. This morning I started the day stating that I was excited for what could possibly happen, and that I would have a good day today. I know it’s not quite one o-clock, but so far a great day! I’m not feeling stressed, and the silly office bullshit I have to deal with isn’t bothering me in the slightest.
I know I’m not changing events with the power of my mind, but I am continuously surprised by how running positive thoughts through my head all day keeps me out of the low, angry moods I’m prone to. Bad things are going to continue to happen, but I don’t have to let them affect me like I have in the past. After all, it’s not what happens – it’s how we react to it.
This may all seem like a stretch, and I thought it was completely ridiculous when I started reading “You Can Heal Your Life”. However, constantly repeating to myself that I love and approve of myself started to turn my mood the very same day. I have a desire to feel stupid and silly while talking about all this positive affirmation stuff, but I can’t deny that it works. Read some of my many negative, angry, struggling past blog posts if you doubt me.
“I choose to feel good about myself. It does not matter what other people say. What matters is how I choose to react and what I choose to believe about myself.” – affirmation from “21 Days to Master Affirmations” by Louise Hay
“Self-hatred is only hating a thought you have about yourself, and thoughts can be changed.”
I don’t know how to love with my whole heart.
How could I? Raised in an uncaring home,
Affection was foreign. Coldness I knew.
I learned to be critical and hate-filled.
I lived on anger and disappointment.
Resentment and hurt were my company.
Loving touches, hugs, kisses, “I love you”
Were not what I knew. Harsh words, angry stares –
These were my normal. A life lacking warmth.
I felt like a stranger in my own home.
The child who could not understand love
Grew to the woman who could not show love.
I stay withdrawn and reserved. Scared. Hiding.
Even if I wanted to venture out,
I’m ignorant of how to show I care.
Unsure of what to do or how to act.
I sit to the side. Alienated.
I ache to reach out from behind this wall.
I long to show you the love I feel.
Crazy Jay and I met with our therapist last night. I’ve been calling her “new age therapist”, or something like that. I think I’m going to change to “unconventional”, instead. Anyway, we were talking about how a lot of the issues Jay and I both have now are a result of things done to us throughout childhood. Unconventional Therapist was telling us that we need to go back and heal our inner child so that our adult selves can be healed. Now, this is the kind of thing that I used to think was complete B.S. “Heal your inner child”? Gimme a break!! What kind of mumbo-jumbo is that? Just be an adult and deal with this!!
Of course, that could be (and probably is) the voice of the fuckers who raised me. They didn’t believe in therapy. They weren’t convinced of the legitimacy of They looked down on people with mental disorders, telling me that if I was depressed, it’s because I “wasn’t trusting God enough”. That’s nice. And so helpful. Way to make a person who already feels shitty into even MORE of a failure.
I think Unconventional Therapist is absolutely right that Jay and I need to heal our inner child. I mean, the way we react to things now is directly related to our experiences in childhood. Jay tells me all the time he feels like a financial burden, even though I keep telling him to shut his whore mouth. I have never thought of him as a burden, and I hope I don’t ACT like I think he’s a burden. It clicked for us last night, though, that Jay’s father always made money an issue when Jay was growing up. His father was constantly talking about how much things that Jay needed cost. No wonder he now sees that he is using money and not putting any in the kitty, so he equates that with being a burden.
My distaste of being touched stems from my childhood sexual abuse. I feel hands on me now and essentially think I am a child, being abused and touched against my will. Of course, that is not a conscious thought, but that is why I don’t like hands on me now. The thoughts, feelings and ideas we have reinforced as children come out when we’re adults. I have so many more examples of how things in childhood shape my thoughts and actions now, but I think I’ve made my point.
Jay told Unconventional Therapist that he didn’t know how to heal his inner child. That he didn’t even know what this looked like. I’ve had several weeks to digest the “heal your inner child” thing, but this may be the first time Jay tried to apply it to himself. I told him that his inner child and my inner child (Little Jay and Little Meg) should have a play date this week. Do something childlike and silly. I suggested going to a playground and swinging. The teeter-tooter would be fun, too! Unconventional Therapist suggested we may like to try some art projects since we both thought coloring in coloring books would be enjoyable. Art projects may be too lofty of a goal, but I could sure mess around with some Play-Dough!!
This week Jay and I are both going to focus on “going back” and taking care of Little Jay and Little Meg. Unconventional Therapist said our goal is to “go back”, “pick up” our little inner selves, and tell him or her that we will protect them. That we are there to take care of them. We aren’t terribly sure how to attempt that quite yet, but apparently the first step is doing activities our inner child would enjoy…hence the play date. It was also suggested that we go to the children’s section of the library and check out some kid books, but then that would entail brushing elbows with ACTUAL children.
I’m looking forward to letting out Little Meg. I think this could be fun. It will be nice to focus on small enjoyable activities throughout the day instead of the many stresses of life.
I was watching the horror movie, “Shadow People”, the other day. It’s a really good, creepy movie. I’d recommend it! It is about these shadows that come to your room as you’re drifting off to sleep. You open your eyes and see the shadows moving, and coming towards you. You experience paralysis, being able to move only your eyes, and then you die. As the movie progressed, it was revealed that the people who die at the hands of the “Shadow People” BELIEVE in the “Shadow People”. Doubters don’t die. Just the people who believe this “monster” is real. The number of deaths by the “Shadow People” increased as more people heard and believed these stories. The movie ended with evidence of the “Shadow People” being suppressed and lied about so as not to create more believers, and more deaths.
There was a woman on the movie (that’s supposedly based on a true story) who drew a parallel between dying at the hands of the “Shadow People”, and taking a placebo. Your body thinks it is getting medicine, when in fact it has only received a placebo. Because your mind and body THINK it has medicine to be healed with, the body begins to heal itself. The people in this movie believed that there were “Shadow People” who would kill them in their sleep, and their minds made it happen.
Now, this is obviously a little far-fetched, but it got me thinking about mental illness. It made me wonder if we could make ourselves sicker by buying into all the Wikipedia pages about our illness(es), and listening to the negative things people say about us.
I know that when I was reading ALL the blogs on WordPress about borderline personality disorder, I was more focused on the negative aspects of myself and my disorder then when I decided I would only peruse the POSITIVE mental health blogs. Listening to people talk about what they were going through can be helpful, but it can also be damaging, I think. While it does help and encourage me to know that I’m not alone in my craziness, and other people know what I’m going through, I also tend to focus so heavily on the negative things they’ve experienced and are feeling. It’s almost like their emotions and their memories become my own. I start thinking about the issues other people are having, and think about how it relates to me. I see that these people have BPD, and I do, too, so I seem to make a leap in my mind. I cannot just listen and observe what another person is going through – All of a sudden it is ME going through those things. Focusing on their negativity makes me focus on mine. I forget to do the things that make me feel good, because all I can think about are bad things. I take on the bad feelings I’ve read about, and make them my own.
Reading about borderline personality disorder just reinforces all the crap I’m feeling and thinking about myself. It makes me forget that I am working to get better. It seems to make me worse. Crazy Jay has told me for a long time that I am the best student he’s ever seen. When I thought that I was a psychopath, I read a lot about serial killers and sociopaths/psychopaths. I started taking on the traits I was reading about. I convinced myself that I didn’t care about things. I convinced myself that I didn’t feel. I convinced myself that I hated the world, and wanted to try my hand at taking out a few people. Just for the hell of it.
Apparently the same thing happened when I realized I have BPD. I read about it all the time, and started acting more and more like a crazy chick having a borderline episode (after episode, after episode, after episode). I noticed that when I started reading more about dermatillomania, the same thing happened again. I started picking at my scalp more and more. It’s like knowing about it fed my need to pick at my scabs, just like learning more about BPD turned me into a textbook borderline.
It has taken me a long time to figure this out, but I really think my focus needs to be on HEALING, and not on my symptoms. I need to worry about filling my day with positive moments. I need to continue to practice controlling my tone and the nasty things I say. I need to address the hurt inner child that has never been properly nurtured. I need to focus on my relationship with my husband. I do NOT need to read book after book on what it looks like to have borderline personality disorder. I do NOT need to read blogs that are full of negativity and nothing but complaints about life. I do NOT need to watch movies that will make me think too deeply on my past. I do NOT need to visit the Wikipedia page on BPD every other week to check and see if my symptoms are still in line with what they “should” be.
The more I tell myself that it is “normal” for a person with BPD to act the way that I do, the more I’m giving myself permission to act in that way. If I hear that I can’t get better until later on in life, that the symptoms of borderline personality disorder tend to diminish after the age of 40, then I’m giving myself free reign to only half-ass getting better, at least until I’m closer to 40. If I keep thinking that I “can’t” do this or that, then that is how I am going to act. If I have myself convinced that I can’t be pleasant because the BPD has my mind weighed down with anger, sadness, and irritation, then I am not even going to attempt to be kind or gentle. I need to start focusing on the change I want instead of the bad behaviors I “can’t” get rid of. I need to stop making myself sick, and start focusing on healing.
I thought I would post some uplifting music. I can’t stop tapping my foot as I’m listening to my Funk station on Pandora. Just try to not dance!!
The feelings were overwhelming inside.
Building up till I couldn’t contain them.
My emotions warred and my skin prickled.
My flesh was prostrate, begging to be cut.
I couldn’t understand this compulsion.
Never experienced this urge before.
Options appeared to be slice up or die.
Took the first step. Placed the glass to my skin.
Started off timid, than pushed harder still.
Dragged the shard on my thigh and watched blood bloom.
Blood left my body, as did bad feelings.
My flesh was sacrificed for emotions.
The feelings rushed out. I found my reprieve.
Relief was temporary, I soon learned.
Shame hit me so hard I couldn’t stand up.
The guilt grabbed my lungs to restrict my breath.
Regret. Remorse. Unmarred never again.
Thought it was a one-time thing. I was wrong.
This desire is holding me captive.
Just when I think it’s gone, it’s back again.
This is to be my albatross for life.
My next post is going to be something completely different from what I usually do. I am going to post a poem. On the way into work, I was pondering the first time I engaged in cutting as a way of self harm. I am posting this FIRST so that no one reads it unless they want to. I don’t want anyone to be shocked when they open their email.
Also, a little about the format: I enjoy writing sonnets, but have a hard time writing much else. Today when starting the upcoming poem, I just wrote sentences that had ten beats, like in a sonnet. Sorry, I’m not sure what the proper terms are. Anyway, my thought was that after I got the main sentences out, I could manipulate them so they would rhyme using the form of Shakespearian Sonnets. After I typed up the sentences, I decided not to worry about rhyming, since that would affect what I was trying to say.
It’s been a looooong time since I’ve written something other than a sonnet. Quick side notes – I used to write Shakespearian Sonnets in SPANISH. They rhymed (in Spanish – not when translated) and everything. Anyway, please be kind if you decide to read my next post. Please DO NOT READ if you think this will put your safety at risk.