Who Am I?

I was sitting at dinner with my boyfriend the other night and I had just come from counseling and had “homework” to do. That homework was talking to him about the things I had recently had issues with and things that were making me feel bad about myself/our relationship/him.

Side note–I tend to keep all my shit locked away until it finally gets to be too much and I vomit bullshit on whomever is lucky enough to piss me off in that moment. No bueno.

Because of this, I am learning to just talk about my feelings when they happen. Fuck if that isn’t the hardest thing I have to do.  But I am learning. Baby step by baby step.

So, we were sitting at dinner and I decided to do it in a public place so I could have a little more control over myself and not embarrass the both of us by acting out.  This actually works for me. I do tend to end up crying because I am embarrassed by just feeling the way I feel sometimes, but I handle that OK, even in public. The public part just stops me from yelling or getting shitty.  Bonus for all.

OK, back to the situation at hand.

I was supposed to talk to him about how I had been feeling recently and why I had been isolating so much over the past couple weeks. It surprised me how intuitive he is–because he kind of already knew what my issues were. However, he does not like conflict or rocking the boat, so he tends to just ignore stuff. This is not good practice with someone who is so emotionally needy and needs someone else to start the conversation…

But I opened up and told him how I was feeling (he was actually feeling some of the same things) and I did it productively. I took  responsibility for my part in it and gave him some suggestions on what to do the next time I get to that place. It went well.

Isolation is my go-to coping mechanism. Especially now that I have pretty good control over my outbursts. I use it as a way to make sure I don’t take out my anger/agitation/irritation/etc on someone who doesn’t deserve it–since it has very little to do with most people.  What I learned from counseling this week is that isolating is pretty much the same as blowing up—-nobody understands why its happening and they just leave me alone til I am done. Which, sadly, backfires for me.

I learned that sometimes I isolate just to see if someone will give a shit.  So stupid. So fucking stupid–but truth nonetheless. It embarrasses me that I do that. That I have that stupid little needy ass pathetic side of myself that I manipulate to see if I am cared for. I know in my right mind that is part of my disorder—but it makes me so ashamed of myself when I have to admit it out loud.  UGH.

So this introspection brought me to the point where I started thinking about all the shit I do that “protects” this part of me that is so needy and vulnerable.  And while talking to Choney, he mentioned that one of the things he notices is how different I am with everybody in my life.

Looking at that, he is completely correct. I am my most real with him. I have so many personas for different sets of people that I sometimes don’t have any idea who is the real me….

My personality at work is the most controlled. Most people I work with have no idea I have a mental disorder.  I am the most “normal” there. Its’ once I leave work that the control slips and I can no longer contain the surges of emotion that cycle through me.

I also have a different personality with my dad and Roberta than I have with my mom. My friends also see a more real side of me than my family sees. My kids and Choney see the most real me that I have–which isn’t always a good thing–but is the truth regardless.

While thinking about this and all my different personalities I put out there, I started wondering why I do it. Here is my conclusion.

I do it to protect them–and in a sense me.  Most people don’t know what to do with someone who has a mental illness. It is a difficult thing to not only accept, but to deal with.

My family for example, especially my dad and stepmom, refuse to believe I have a mental illness–they just think I throw fits. Super supportive.  (<–sarcasm alert).  So for them, they see the minimum I can handle and that I think they can handle. They don’t get all the facets of me–they get a very small part. Once in a while I will slip and they will see a part of me I don’t usually show.  I hate those times. It makes me feel stupid and vulnerable and stupid. It tends to shock them a bit–especially my dad who is in total denial that I have issues. But such is life. I, unfortunately, don’t feel supported in any way by them…..they are too busy judging me. Hence why I am taking a break.

My mom used to be the same–but since we have gotten so close, she see’s much more than she ever did. For whatever reason, I decided that when I started talking to her again after so many years that I was going to try to just be my regular, crazy, emotional self and if she liked me, good. If not, oh well.  Surprisingly she doesn’t mind me. I do think I tend to worry her more now because she doesn’t see the old locked down me, but I like that I don’t have to hide who I am with her. She tries so hard to understand–which nobody has ever done before in my family–and it helps me a lot for her to realize that its not her that I am acting like this because of, but it is my disorder that makes me like this. I so appreciate that with her.  She is super supportive even though this disorder makes no sense to her….

My friends see one of the best parts of me…. and sometimes the not so best parts..but they all love and accept me regardless and I can’t explain how good that makes me feel. I try not to let them have to deal with all the shitty parts–but knowing that they would if I needed them to goes so far for me…. making me feel secure and loved and not so lost all the time.  My friends are amazing. Even though I don’t see them much because I tend to isolate so much, they still understand even while it frustrates them and they don’t allow it to damage our relationship. They let me do things at my own pace and that alone? There are words to express how I feel about that… they are fucking incredible. And I love them more than they will ever understand.

My kids. God, my kids have been through so much with me and this stupid BPD. They have seen the monster that lives in me and they still love me. I can’t even tell you what that means to me and how truly beyond grateful I am that they still accept me for all my faults and all my bullshit and all my emotional fuckery. THEY are the reason I am still fighting this every day…  THEY are my reason for being…THEY are my love, my heart, my soul and my life. My kids blessed me and continue blessing me in ways they can’t even fathom. I owe my life to all three of them–they are my saviors, in so many ways they don’t even realize. I love them more than I have every loved anything in the world.

My dogs. See above paragraph about my kids. I feel the same about my dogs. I didn’t save them—they save me. Daily.

My significant other. Choney sees the realest me, like my kids do, and accepts me. Unconditionally, even while it makes him angry, frustrated or sad at times. He loves me regardless. And he gets the brunt of my emotional shit. My kids probably appreciate that…lol.  But he still hangs in there, reading and researching how to better help me through those rough times. He has learned when to leave me alone and when to step up. He still has days that he has no idea what to do or how I will react to things, but he learns every day and does what he can. He is my rock. My calm in the center of my storm. The best part of me. I cannot tell you the love I have for this man–even when he frustrates me to no end. He is incredible.

So there you have it. My eternal question of who am I. Not a question I have ever been able to answer simply. I am so many people–and those people depend on who I am with at the time or where my emotions have taken me. I am a thousand things and feelings and more.

I guess that is my answer…..at least until I come up with something better.

Success

Tonight I was talking to my mom and she was asking me questions about my life. One of the things she asked me was “are you doing better?”.  This question was in regard to my mental health. And my reply was that life was a challenge…which was kind of vague I guess, but that is a really hard question for someone with borderline personality disorder to answer.  She also asked me if my BPD was something that would get better or if I just had to live with it forever.  And the answer I gave was this, “I have to live with it forever—and a successful life of a person with BPD is that I die naturally and not by my own hand.”  Of course, being my mother, she didn’t like that answer much…. :/

Regardless, it got me thinking about success and being a successful BPD survivor… if there is such a thing.  So I decided to write about the success of being BPD.

Success comes in many forms—for those with mental illness, those successes are defined quite differently from those without it.

For me, being successful with my BPD involves the following:

  • Today I didn’t want to die as much as normal.  That is a success.
  • Today I didn’t scream at anyone.  That is a success.
  • Today I managed to get through the last hour without crying. That is a success.
  • Today I didn’t get violent.  That is a success.
  • Today I did not hate myself as much as I did yesterday. That is a success.
  • Today I did not lash out at anyone. That is a success.
  • Today I did not hurt myself. That is a success.
  • Today I did not hurt anyone else. That is a success.
  • Today I managed to get out of bed. That is a success.
  • Today I did not convince myself that I am a terrible person. That is a success.
  • Today I only cycled 10 times instead of 20. That is a success.
  • Today I managed to not commit suicide. That is a success.
  • Today I showered and brushed my teeth. That is a success.
  • Today I didn’t feel as guilty as I did yesterday.  That is a success.
  • Today I managed to remember I am worth something. That is a success.
  • Today my self-loathing was kept at bay for over an hour. That is a success.
  • Today I used my skills to self-soothe.  That is a success.
  • Today I was a little bit productive. That is a success.
  • Today I remembered to take my medications. That is a success.
  • Today I spoke to another human being with anxiety. That is a success.
  • Today I realized my anxiety wasn’t too bad. That is a success.
  • Today nobody left me. That is a success.
  • Today I didn’t push anyone away. That is a success.
  • Today I maintained my boundaries. That is a success.
  • Today I went to counseling. That is a success.
  • Today I got up for work. That is a success.
  • Today I combed my hair. That is a success.
  • Today I went outside. That is a success.
  • Today I was not too sad. That is a success.
  • Today I was not impulsive. That is a success.
  • Today I did not cry all day. That is a success.
  • Today I woke up alive. That is a success.
  • Today I managed to get through the day.  That is a success.

You see….all the things  normal people take for granted, those of us with mental illness, especially ones like borderline personality disorder, are hard-won, and even harder recognized. It takes a conscious effort to remember that we actually did succeed in some small way, even if that way was only to keep on living for another day…

BPD is such a chaotic illness. The suicide rate for BPD is higher than all other mental illnesses combined. Do you even realize how scary that is for us? Considering that the self-loathing, the guilt, the fear, the chaos is a constant part of our everyday lives, I cannot believe most of us even manage to make it through as far as we do….

There is no magical cure…the regular medication, both anti-depressant and anti-psychotics do not normally work for us–so we have to put in so much work to even be able to manage day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.  Its fucking hard as hell and it takes some serious strength to keep fighting this shit day in and day out.

There is always something wrong with me–I am either overly emotional or with meds I am flat-lined with rare bouts of emotion. YET, I still cry at the drop of a hat and I still anger very easily. I have to personally remind myself that I am worth something, even if that worth is not apparent to me…ever.  Don’t get me wrong, my right mind knows that I am not worthless—but it is damn hard to convince the regular me that that is the truth.

So those small little successes that happen need to be acknowledged and remembered and brought to the light as often as possible for us.

Because without them…………we are truly the nothing we believe we are.

I Just Need Space…

So my assignment this week was to write my dad and stepmom an email and explain to them what was happening in my life and why I am taking very much needed space from them…

I thought it would be easy.

It wasn’t.

The guilt it produced pretty much overwhelmed me. I ended up crying for hours after I sent it….  I hated that part.  Thank GOD I have counseling on Tuesday to work through that bullshit.

I have been trying to figure out why it produced so much guilt, when the bottom line is that they trigger me the very most and make me cycle so much. They put me in such a shitty place in my head and all I do is self-bash for days after I see them….  I know it is for my own mental well-being that I take space from them…yet it made me feel so bad. Like I am disappointing them.

Which I do all the time, so why should this time produce so much guilt on my part? I have spent my entire life disappointing my dad and stepmom… it’s nothing new. Nothing I have ever done has ever been good enough for them—so you’d think that me taking time to work on myself and my issues would be a good thing, right? UGH!

Regardless, I guess I will figure it out on Tuesday. For now I will set it aside and focus on my life and the fact that I managed to do my homework assignment–especially since I haven’t been too good at following through on my others ones… oops.

Til then…

A Little Shocked…

So I went to counseling yesterday–it had been a couple weeks due to the holiday– and surprisingly, I didn’t have much to talk about. No situations, no outbursts, no agitation worth mentioning, etc. It was kind of weird. Usually if I do have issues come up, I tamp it down until counseling and then vomit it all over my counselor.  This time was different.

So we decided to focus on my successes in the last couple months. My job was to come up with stuff that I would have done in the past and reacted badly or emotionally or overreacted to, that I haven’t done that with. At first it was hard, because I am not used to saying good things about myself, but as I got going, I actually came up with quite a few scenarios that, in the past, I would have lost my damn mind, but in the present, I dealt with like a normal person.  Weird.

Regardless, we listed them on the board and I took a picture of them to remind myself that I am making progress even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

Here is my list.

  1. Decrease in catastrophic thinking
  2.  A molehill = a molehill
  3. Haven’t lost my temper in weeks–which means my guilt/shame cycle has decreased
  4. Recognized and taken space when needed
  5. Keeping my boundaries clear and sticking to them
  6. Practiced self-care–taken time for just me, not just when I am anxious
  7. Decreased self-judgement
  8. Have not experienced guilt from changing plans
  9. Planned events and gone without having anxiety build-up to make me cancel.

So this may not seem like a lot to most people who don’t have BPD, social anxiety or regular anxiety issues, but to me, who has all that, it is a HUGE deal.

I liked the reminder that regardless of setbacks–which I still have weekly or more–that I am doing so much more than I ever have and I am so much more in control than I have ever been..  its crazy.

For the first time in a long fucking time, I can honestly, sincerely say that I am proud of myself.  Who’d a thunk it??!

Go me!

Sometimes it takes Reminding..

Sometimes it takes reminding about how good you really have it in your life. I had that reminder this weekend.  Before I get into that, let me tell you how other things have been going…

So as you know, I have been doing really good with my medications and my counseling. I have become some kind of “normal”, or stable as it were. I have been keeping my emotions in check, I have been keeping my anger in check, I haven’t lost my temper on anyone–mostly–in about a month and a half or so now. I am doing pretty well.

However, I had a setback a couple weeks ago. We had company in town and they stayed with us for five days. First of all, five days is too long for anyone to stay with anyone as far as I am concerned. It takes a toll on all involved. I think the limit should be three days.

Regardless, I managed to get through that week with no flip outs, violence, or agitation for the most part. I was however, running on high anxiety the entire time. I controlled it pretty well though—while our company was there.

As soon as they left, I kind of lost it. I couldn’t handle life. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t figure out why I was not able to handle shit. I know in my right mind I have the tools for these types of situations, but for the life of me, I could not figure out what they were or how to use them.  I was devastated. All I could think was how far I had come and now it was all over and I was back to square one.

In reality, that was not the case, obviously, but in my stupid BDP mind, everything is a fucking catastrophe and when I couldn’t handle one little thing, my cycles took over and overwhelmed me completely. I isolated for three days until I could get to counseling.

THANK GOD FOR COUNSELING!!

I walked in and immediately burst into tears. I told her what was happening and that I was so overwhelmed and anxious and agitated that I just couldn’t get it together and I felt like I had taken 20 steps back. I was so disappointed in myself for forgetting all that I had learned and I couldn’t stop the self-bashing that I tend to go to when my cycles are in full effect. UGH.

She reminded me that this will happen. That I will never be able to get rid of these cycles because of the disorder I have. She reminded me that there is not a cure for BPD, and that I will have small, SMALL set-backs that my BPD will make gigantic. She reminded me that this was a small incident and while I may not have handled it like I thought I should have, I did have some good accomplishments even while I was in the throes of it:  I didn’t lash out at anyone. I didn’t break anyone or anything. I didn’t take my agitation out on anyone around me. I was lucid enough to remember to take myself out of the situation and just sit with it, even though it was horrible and overwhelming and intense. I did not wish I was dead. I somehow remembered through all of that that I will find a way out.

So there’s those things.

It makes me so angry and sad and frustrated that I will never be rid of my BPD cycles. I hate that I will always have those times in my life where I feel so out of control that I no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hate that I will always have to be completely conscious of my actions and behavior to make sure I don’t involve anyone else unnecessarily in the drama that is my BPD.

But, such is my life. Such is the nature of the BPD beast.

I can and will do what I have to do to keep maintaining my “normal”, even with the setbacks. Again, such is my life.

Ok, so back to my original point—my friend came to town this weekend and was really impressed with my boyfriend and all he is and does for me.  She told me I was lucky to have him in my life. I agree.

Sometimes I forget what an amazing guy he is and how much he does for me on a daily basis that I just take for granted. For example, we went fishing the other night and on the way home we stopped at McDonald’s for a late dinner. I had called my son to see if he wanted anything–which he did—but then proceeded to forget to get his burgers . Got home, realized I had forgotten and felt like an asshole. Choney, on the other hand, jumped up, drove to McDonald’s and got my son his burgers. He is awesome. Seriously, how many guys would do that? Mine for sure. I love him.

Anyway, sometimes it takes an outsider to remind you what you have in your life….

I thank my friend for reminding me what I have in mine.

Getting stable is SUPER weird.

For the first time in my life, I feel as normal as I think normal feels. It is SUPER FUCKING WEIRD.  I haven’t had any type of explosive event in weeks. WEEKS! Which is brand new to me. I honestly cannot remember even going a day without losing it in some way–either emotionally breaking down or getting irrationally angry over something stupid–much less weeks with no issues.  Again, it is super weird.

Surreal actually. I feel like I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I keep expecting myself to lose it or start bawling for no reason and when it doesn’t happen, it kind of freaks me out.  Especially when I get myself in situations that, in the past, I would react emotionally or irrationally. I just cannot explain how weird (really, this is the only word I can come up with to describe it) this is.

Talking about it to my counselor last night, I was trying to explain how I felt about it, how abnormal is is for me, how I was kind of skeptical about this new “normal” I am feeling and how I am just kind of waiting for the chaos to come back and bury me.  She explained to me that it is completely normal to feel like this, especially because this new stability is so foreign to my life, and that the reason I question it is because I am so used to the chaos ruling every aspect of my life.

As we continued talking, I questioned whether it was just the new medication making me feel this way and would all this come back if/when my meds stopped working again? But she pointed out that it wasn’t just the meds–though they are part of it–but it was also me, learning and gaining knowledge and USING what I am learning every single day.  As I sat there and thought about that, I realized how little I have ever given myself credit for things, even though I am the one doing the work.

That was a new revelation to me, the not giving myself credit—-because I am learning and I am listening and I am using all the tools that I have been presented with. On a daily basis. I have learned to stop and think about my reactions before I allow them to become a reality. I have learned to stop and think about my words and how they will affect me and others around me before I say them. I have learned to STOP—–before all hell breaks loose and I am left feeling guilty and wounded and stupid and embarrassed.

Which, again, makes this new stability SUPER FUCKING WEIRD.  But in a good way.

What is even more astounding to me is that as I learn and relearn how to be more in my wise mind rather than my emotional mind, is watching Choney learn me as well.  I guess I didn’t realize how reactive I was and how much he really did walk on eggshells around me. It is so enlightening to watch him not have to do that and realize that he can do and say what he needs to without worrying about me freaking out.  It makes me feel really good about myself. Which again, is super weird.

I have spent so much time and energy telling myself what a piece of shit I am, that when I step back and realize that I haven’t said that or even thought that to myself in weeks, I am amazed and proud and empowered. What is even better than that, when I do get down on myself, I realize what I am doing and put a stop to it immediately.  I remind myself that it is okay to be angry sometimes and it is okay to be upset or frustrated or irritated or agitated or sad. And I have learned to remove myself from the situation and think about why I am feeling that way and if I figure out it is legit, then I just sit with it and let it pass. Then I am good to go again. And Choney respects my need for space sometimes, even if he doesn’t understand it.

Can I just take a moment and remind myself how lucky I am and what a good fucking job I have been doing in getting myself to a point where I can control myself and my emotions and my words?

:::pats self on back:::

 

I Did a Thing…

So…as the title insinuates, I did a thing. That thing was letting Choney and his daughter move back into my house after three months of them being gone. I did this for a few reasons—-the main being that I love this man and I cannot stand to not have him in my life.

It took a while to decide to make this decision. I actually thought about all sides–inside, outside, upside, downside, etc,etc for quite a bit of time. I wrote down pros and cons. I talked to people I trust (mostly my therapist) and with my non-emotional mind I came to the conclusion that I liked my life much better with them in it than out of it. Even though we have had some pretty serious issues in the past.

I am ready, and willing, to let go of a lot of stuff that I was holding onto. Petty, stupid, insignificant, selfish shit. I decided it was time to dump my baggage and move forward.

So far, its working. Mostly. I am finding that some things are harder to let go of than others…. But I guess that is okay right? I mean, it will always be that way. I am conscientiously working on letting them go, so that is a good thing.  I am also very mindful of my behavior and attitude and words. I am learning to think before I speak and learning that when I speak, I can do so in a way that is not rude or condescending or too blunt. Because my boyfriend is a bit sensitive and tends to take things personally. So I have to be mindful of his feelings. I guess that is what relationships are about, huh?

We have worked out the financial aspect of our lives and that was a big issue previously. We are both good with our decision regarding that.

One of the biggest issues was me. I wanted him to be a man, yet I never allowed him to actually fulfill that role in my life. I am used to doing things on my own, in my own way, and on my own time. It was hard to let go of that control and allow another to be a part of my life that way. But I am doing pretty good.  So I allow him to make his own —decisions, I allow him to make his own mistakes—–all of this without condemning or judging him. It is new for me.

I was a really shitty person. I was mean and cruel and just an asshole. I would like to say it was because I was unmedicated and uncontrolled, but that is not all of the reason. It is part of it, sure, but at the end of the day, I just realized how much anger, bitterness and resentment I was holding onto from the past–both with him and with others. And seriously, what good did any of that do me?  I was so scared that he was going to leave me and whatnot, I ended up pushing him to do just the thing I was terrified of. THAT is definitely part of my disorder, but it is also my own ignorance.

I realize now that the only person I can control is me—-and I also realize because of my BPD, I will not always be able to control me. I can use my tools though. I am very conscious of my behavior now and I know when i need to take some time/space away from everyone.  Unfortunately, this is a hard concept for a child to grasp. She doesn’t understand why I want/need alone time. She has never had that in her life, so she doesn’t appreciate or get it. Such is life. I will just have to keep explaining it to her so she does eventually get it.

Regardless–I am doing better this time. I think. Sometimes I have to just shut my mouth and talk myself out of saying that sarcastic comment. That is hard. I have never censored or stopped myself from saying what is in my brain. But, again, I guess that is part of making a relationship work? Tact. Ugh.

Anyway, I just wanted to get all this out of my head–because tonight is not a great night for me. I am feeling super anxious and agitated. So I have gone to my room to read my book. And do a blog, obviously.

Thanks for listening.