Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 Life Lessons

As the year comes to a close, it's time to focus on my 2016 "life lessons." For those of you new to my blog, let me explain. A few years ago I stopped making resolutions and instead started coming up with quotes and sayings that I would try and base my behavior on or around. These could be already existing quotes, quotes I made up, or something a friend inspired. The following are my 2016 life lessons, and what they mean to me.

Life is a mile and 1/2 on the turf, not a sprint
My new found love of horse racing inspired this one. It seems pretty simple at first. Life is hard, it's not a cake walk. For me, though, it has more meaning. I'm often in a rush to do things before I "run out of time." How many years left to get married? Have kids? Lets add this age to this number of years. It makes me anxious, and I don't want to live like that.

The road to progress is not linear
In 2015 one of my life lessons was, "no one has the right to judge your journey but you." Imagine if you came across a man; dirty, bloody, beaten, and rambling. You might think he's just some crazy bum, but what you don't know is he has been walking for miles and has endured many hardships. You weren't there for that part of his journey, so you can only judge him on how he is now. It's like that with mental illness. The only person who has been on my journey from start until now, is me. Sometimes I lose sight of this when I have a bump in the road. What a lot of people do not realize about progress is that it's not a straight and narrow road. I'm going to make mistakes. Sometimes the same ones. Sometimes my progress will be so small that you won't even notice. But it's still progress.

"What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person."
This quote comes from the John Green book, "Paper Towns," and rings so true for someone with BPD. If I look back to all the times I struggled most this past year 9/10 it revolved around people; people I put on that BPD pedestal, people I split on the most often. I really don't think this needs anymore explanation other than it fits with the core component of BPD that I struggle with most.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Refusing To Let Go

I'm sad right now.

I projected self-hatred and anger onto a stranger.

I got jealous of my FP.

I'm bitter and sad and depressed over a game.

But really it's not cause of any of that. It's just a defense.

When I'm the upset it really can only revolve around one thing, or rather, one person. Daniel.

He called me on my birthday. After 4 months of ghosting, he finally called me. And it was the same old song and dance. He hasn't been doing well, and I feel really bad, but that isn't my story to tell. He's hesitant about seeing me because he wants me to get over him and he worries about how my reactions will affect him. He said we would talk this week. He hasn't returned any of my texts or calls.

It doesn't matter how much I prepare myself, knowing he probably won't call, I always end up devastated. It doesn't matter how much he tells me that nothing I can say will help and that the worse he feels, the less likely he is to call. I still end up desperately trying, and I end up spiraling as I try to find the right thing to say. But every text makes me angrier at myself and more paranoid. So I keep trying and it keeps getting worse.

I know he doesn't do it on purpose. He can't even trust himself, but it hurts every time. It hurts when he sounds so convincing, and then does this. It hurts that I can't even get him to send me a text saying he needs space. It hurts me and it hurts knowing that his issues are so severe that he can't even trust himself. I don't know if he thinks removing himself from the narrative is helping me get over him, but it's not. Because every time he does this it just makes things worse.

I can't let him go. I admit that. I can't let him go because of my borderline, because of my compassion, because he hasn't been abusive or cruel to me, because I know what it's like to be in his shoes. I know the healthy thing to do is to just walk away, never try and contact him again. But I can't, no I don't want to. Maybe wanting to keep him in my life is selfish, but it's the truth. It might be different if he told me he doesn't want me in his life, but he hasn't and I know he doesn't want that.

I don't think we'll date again, and I'm not trying to. If I'm being honest I miss having sex and cuddling with him. I'd be lying if I said I didn't love him, because I do. But I can be non-monogamous, so I really don't think that's the issue. The issue is, well it's him. Because I've put in the effort, and he fully admits that we keep having problems because he's "getting worse." Our issues clash, and while I make mistakes, I still try to change and he can barely follow through with the simplest of promises.

So I'm depressed. I'm depressed he's doing this again, I'm depressed I got my hopes up, and I'm depressed I can't let go of him. I'm also depressed that the one person who could probably cheer me up and get my mind off the fact I'm not going to see Daniel this week, probably isn't going to. I hate having emotional amnesia. I hate that no matter how many times Daniel tells me there's nothing I can say, I still end up in a desperate attempt to try and get him to talk to me. It's pathetic.

I know I should just cut him out of my life. But I don't want to. I want him in it. Not to date, but I just know I'll have an easier time moving on.

Right now everything is sad, everyone is annoying.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015-The Year in Review

Living: Derry
Job: None
Good: Going to Al-anon and support group, in therapy, Arisia, Garth Brooks, Brother in Law's part at East Coast Grill, Livingston Park during snow fall, visiting Hailey (former kid at Ms. Darlene's) at the hospital. 
Bad: Hospital for anxiety attack.

Living: Derry/Brighton
Job: None
Good: Moving back to MA, 30 day yoga challenge, visiting my aunt.
Bad: Getting kicked out of house in Derry, losing my car, getting towed, financial troubles, going to the mental hospital.

Living: Brighton
Job: Pelham Academy (part of month)
Good: Live interview with Lorelei Erisis, Dropkick Murphys (Ken!), Attic, started going to Trivia, Attic Lantern night, starting DBT.
Bad: Attacked on bus.

Living: Brighton
Job: Pelham Academy
Good: Castle Island, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, talking to Daniel again, photo shoot, baby shower, Hank Green.
Bad: James abuse (start of)

Living: Brighton/JP
Job: Pelham Academy
Good: Swan Boat ride, Boston Common, Attic, flea market, Red Sox, Museum of Science.
Bad: Physically abused by James, restraining order.

Living: JP
Job: Pelham Academy (part of month), Bath and Body Works (part of month), GWD (part of month)
Good: Rocky Horror reunion show, talking to Daniel, love wins!, new tattoo, Boston Pride, Attic, Scooper Bowl.
Amazing: Nibling!!!!
Bad: Problems with roommate, fight with Dan M.

Living: JP
Job: GWD, Bath and Body Works
Good: Visiting Daniel, Picture Mountain, Merrily We Roll Along, Pleasure Bay, Revere Beach, Sandcastle sculptures, Red Sox, Boston quiz (hosted), trivia and hotel with Daniel, Ant-Man, Jamaica Pond, public pool.
Bad: Court for restraining order, problems with roommate.

Living: JP
Job: GWD, Bath and Body Works, Teavana (part of month)
Good: Packers game, Lake Winni, Nahant Beach, Winthrop Beach, Feast of Saint Anthony, public pool, learning horse racing, photo shoot.
Bad: problems with roommate.

Living: JP
Job: Lincoln Elementary, GWD, Education Stations (part of month), Teavana (part of month)
Good: Castle Island, Salem Willows, GWD game night, score keeping Doctor Who quiz, Elizabeth Warren talk, Alzheimer’s walk, quiz for a cause, Dad’s birthday get together, time away.
Bad: Problems with roommate, Daniel needing a break, losing my wallet.

Living: JP/Medford 
Job: Lincoln Elementary, GWD, Education Stations
Good: Suicide prevention walk, live horse racing at Suffolk Downs, Bernie Sanders, Halloweeniversary.
Bad: October was pretty good. Don't remember anything significant here.

Living: Medford
Job: Lincoln Elementary (part of month), GWD (part of month), Education Stations
Good: Baptism, Pedro talk, Mockingjay II, Graveyard visits, vegetarian food fest, 100th episode.
Bad: Getting fired from two jobs, finding out I owe extra rent, kicked out of group, losing $250 (check issue), being sent to the ER by therapist, losing therapist.

Living: Medford
Job: Education Stations (part of month) Boston Renaissance Charter School (started)
Good: Time away, Attic, Project for Awesome, Star Wars, Daniel calling, birthday quiz, talking to Mr. Lambros, Haven (12/29).

Bad: Self dx drama.

Best Months: July, September, October

Worst Months: February and November

New Interests: Fantasy football, trivia, Hamilton, horse racing.

New People*: Will, Tyler, Corey, Adriana, Ginny, Kaitlyn, Pam, Jonathan, and regular GWD quizzers.
*Does not include people I only know online.

Struggles: Daniel, Will, self-harm, suicidal ideation, getting fired, moves, financial trouble, and flipping out on Facebook. Mental illness doesn't take a break.

Triumphs: Learning new DBT skills, taking time for myself, dating again, discovering new things.

Lesson: The times I struggle with my BPD the most is when it involves particular people and when things get really overwhelming. Mental illness doesn't take a break. 

2016 Life Lessons:
  • "What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person."
  • "The road to progress is not linear."
  • "Life is 1 and 1/2 miles on the turf, not a sprint."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And The Beat Goes On (The Story of Maple Boy)

This is something that's hard for me to talk about. Partly because there's so much detail and partly because no matter how much detail I give there are always going to be people who judge, and all that does is make me frustrated. Some of you already know what's coming. Daniel.

Up until now I've referred to Daniel as "SG" (the initials of his two last names), but I know him and I know he'd be okay with me using his real name. I met Daniel when we were working together, and we soon developed a relationship. I'll skip all the details about our romance as they aren't super important. Here's what you need to know;

1. Daniel is a recovering alcoholic
2. He has severe anxiety
3. His defense when dealing with anxiety is to isolate,
4. He hates even the smallest confrontation. For example, he often leaves voicemails unchecked for months; and when he was applying for school he put off sending in important information because he had such high anxiety.

As you may imagine some of my BPD tendencies clashed with his anxiety and inability to deliver any sort of bad news to me (owing partly to his self-proclaimed cowardice and my not always taking it gracefully). Unfortunately for me Daniel's defense is often sudden and without warning. Because he has such deep shame and hates disappointing people he will often act as if everything is fine before isolating.

In October of 2014 Daniel and I had plans to go up north for Columbus Day weekend; he also had plans sometime that month to visit family in Utah. While I was at his house one day I saw his email was open, and there was an email with flight info from his day. Before we go any further, he knows I did this and we talked about it; and I know I was wrong. The email said that he was going to fly to Utah Columbus Day weekend. I didn't say anything about the email, and asked him when his trip was. He told me it was the weekend before Columbus. As the weekend approached I finally came clean about what I had done. I called him when he was supposed to be at the airport. He told me he was originally going Columbus Day weekend, but got his flight switched so he could spend that weekend with me. The weekend went by and I wasn't able to get in touch with him at all. When he came home he said it was because his phone had been out of service.

The following Thursday (the one before Columbus Day Weekend) we were hanging out at his house. He talked about how he wanted to spend more time with me, and we also discussed when we would be leaving for the weekend (Saturday morning he said). He also informed me that his sister was coming over that night as she had plans nearby the next day and he needed to drive her. Therefor, I was unable to stay over. I thought it was a bit strange, but didn't say anything. He had never given me a reason not to trust him.

The next day I went to work and did not hear from him at all. I was worried because usually he texted me at least once or twice during the day. By the end of the day I was starting to panic and feared the worse. At the time Daniel and I lived literally a 5 minute walk from each other, and I had to pass by his house to get to mine. On my way home I didn't see his car, and was worried since I knew he was usually home by that time. As I walked in the door at my apartment I received a Facebook message. Daniel had lied about what weekend he was going to Utah (he basically spent the weekend before holed up in his apartment and avoiding me), and he was indeed in Utah now. He spent the rest of the letter basically breaking up with me. He cited reasons that I would later learn were only excuses.

Obviously extremely distraught, I attempted to contact him several times over the weekend. I finally got in touch with him the following Monday and we spoke face to face a couple of days later. We agreed to take a break before we were able to be friends. Well, that didn't last long. The thing with Daniel and I is that our physical chemistry is off the charts (we had attempted to take a month break in March of 2014, but stopped 3 weeks in when neither of could handle not seeing the other). This time the break would last only a week before we rekindled a physical relationship. I don't know how it was from his end, but I know from mine my fear of being alone played a heavy role in my inability to let go. I wanted him close, even if it just meant for sex. I assured him there would be no romantic feelings involved, but you can probably figure out how that went.

In December of 2014 he moved back with his parents, and I made the trip (he now lived 2 hours away) to go see him for my birthday. We had a good time, and talked about stuff and he promised we would talk soon. After I got home I heard nothing from him for almost two weeks. At the time I had no idea what was going on, but would soon learn that this was a common defense mechanism for him. We spoke on New Years Eve and he apologized, and said he had just been depressed. He told me we'd talk the following week. I didn't hear from him for nearly 4 months.

By now you can probably see a pattern. He doesn't like upsetting people, he doesn't like confrontation (and not in the bad sense, he's too anxious to even tell me he can't talk. Which I get is partly because of my intensity and how I react sometimes). We talked a few times in March of 2015 and then radio silence once again. It wasn't until July of 2015 that I both spoke to and saw him again. It would be the first time since December of 2014 that I'd seen him face to face. I went to visit him for his birthday and after that we would talk regularly, and even saw each other a couple of more times over the summer. He came to visit me to play trivia and we got a hotel room and then in August I took him to a football game. It seemed like things were good and he promised he wouldn't ghost me again. Unfortunately old habits die hard.

It's a little bit of a chicken and egg question. Does he isolate and avoid because of my reactions or do I react because he avoids? I think it's a little bit of both (I know he has friends he hasn't spoken to in years because he's too anxious since it's been so long). There were a couple of times we made tentative plans and he didn't tell me until last minute that he couldn't follow through. One of those times literally left me on the side walk, bawling my eyes out and having a severe breakdown. Over the next few weeks his contact was scarce. He eventually told me that he needed some time (which was the first time he had ever done that). I don't do well with unknown amounts of time, so I asked when we could speak again. He told me the next month (this was in September so the next month would be October).

I did my best and didn't contact him at all. Not until the end of September. I knew he was having surgery and texted him to see how it went. We texted back and forth very briefly, agreeing to talk more in-depth that upcoming weekend (which was the first of October). I once again stuck to my word and didn't contact him over the next few days until Sunday (when he said we could talk). I heard nothing from him at all, and tried not to panic. I tried him over the next few days, and still nothing. Finally I decided he needed more space, so I didn't contact him for the rest of the month.

I tried calling him again in November and still nothing. I was furious! He told me he couldn't handle my intensity, and I was doing my best to alleviate that and he still didn't respond. One of the things about BPD is emotional amnesia. You will sometimes hear me say, "this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me," or something along those lines. It's because I will forget what the feeling was like the last time, I will forget events when disassociating. It's why I kept forgetting every time he told me that his avoiding me has nothing to do with me.

When I saw him in December of 2014 I learned he had made an OK Cupid page because he was lonely. This upset me because it made me feel like having a warm body next to him was more important than our friendship. Any time he avoided me after I found out I would imagine him going out and talking to different girls. I questioned why his profile was so in-depth if it was "just cause he was bored," and I was convinced he had a new girlfriend and was lying to me.

Of course none of it was true. After no contact for another 4 months, we finally spoke last Thursday (my birthday). Here's the important parts of the conversation.

  • He had to drop out of school because of surgery complications.
  • He's been extremely depressed.
  • He hasn't met anyone or even gone anywhere except for into town.
  • He laughed when he found out I thought he had a girlfriend. The OKCupid page is just so he can right or left swipe girls when he's lonely.
  • He is worried about seeing me again. He wants to, but he wants me to get over him.
  • He admits that the reason the same thing keeps happening is because of him. Because he doesn't put in the same effort as I do.
  • He doesn't want me falling apart again because it affects him.
  • When he isolates there is nothing I can say. I just have to trust he'll talk to me again.
  • The worse he feels the less likely it is he'll call.
  • I shouldn't trust him because he can't even trust himself.
  • He thinks he's getting worse.
So now here is where we are at. He wants to see me, he's unsure, but he's already thinking about it. He said we will talk this week, but I am preparing myself because I know there's a good chance that's not going to happen. I know the pattern. Isolation is sudden and without warning. It like a snowstorm in California. Out of the blue and unexpected.

I'm going to admit right up front. I want to have sex with him again. I'm not looking to get back together with him, but I'd be lying if I said that I'd say no if the opportunity arose. Though, I know it won't. I already know that I still love him and I already know that I can't not be emotionally attached to him. I also know that it's difficult if he's not around. So now the big question was, how was I going to handle it this time? I told him that he just needed to have faith in me, and that I understood his concern.

He doesn't want to stop my life because I can't get over him. I decided, that for now, I am only seeking a non-monogamous relationship. I've always been non-mono and my mono relationships just sort of *happen*. When they do it's because I find someone that I connect with enough they are the only person I want to be with. This is big since often I am having trouble letting go of someone else. The much more important thing is, how was I going to deal if Daniel isolated again? Well, I haven't entirely figured that part out again and there's always the fear of emotional amnesia if it happens again.

Daniel once told me that he's my kryptonite. I dunno about that, but I do know that I love him. I always have. I also know that time apart does nothing. We have spent months not talking or seeing each other and all it does is make me sad. If I had a choice, I'd rather have him in my life. Even if it is difficult.

So, that's the story of Daniel and me. A lot of people ask why I keep forgiving him. It's because I know he's not a bad person. I know he does not do what he does to be malicious or hurtful on purpose. He does it because he has severe mental/emotional issues just as I do. I forgive him because I know what it's like to have people turn their back on me because I didn't have a control on my disorder. That's unfortunately something a lot of people don't understand. They do not understand why he lied about my past sex life being a reason to break up with me (he was too ashamed to tell me the real reasons). People just latch onto what they see at the surface, and that's the problem with these narratives.

I'm sure some of you will read this and say, "fuck that jerk!" But you don't know him like I do. He's never been abusive to me. He just has issues that clash with mine, and defense mechanisms that clash with my disorder. I know part of this is my inability to severe relationships. The ones I have had literally gotten to the point of abuse. Mostly everyone leaves me.

I don't know what comes next. I'm supposed to call him tomorrow. I know I should have a plan of action if he isolates again, I just don't know what that is yet. All I know is that if it happens again I need to remind myself of what he told me last Thursday. That he will talk to me again, and that trying to get him to call with either do nothing or make it less likely he'll call. 

Again, emotional amnesia. Will I remember this in the moment?

When he called me on Thursday I had missed it as I was out celebrating my birthday. One of the people I was with was Green Lantern. I turned, looking nervous, and told him Daniel had called me.

"So call him back," GL replied. As if it were as simple as that.

I wish, man, I wish.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why I'm Against Self DX

Recently I have seen a trend among young people where they are self-diagnosing themselves with Borderline Personality Disorder. Anyone who does not believe is self-diagnosis is labeled at, "ableist." Ableism is discrimination in favor of able bodied people (including the brain). I disagree with both self-diagnosing and that I am ableist because of this belief.

One thing these young people do not seem to understand is the difference between self-advocating and self-diagnosing. They believe that a person who does not believe in self-diagnosing is trying to invalidate them and say that they are lying or faking about something being wrong. This is not the case at all. I fully support young people researching and learning about various mental disorders and using that information to advocate for themselves when they are able to see a professional; or using it as a means of self-care. A lot of self-care for  BPD can be used by people with other disorders  or even by neurotypicals. No one, at least not me, is telling these young people that they are making things up or faking. Before I was officially diagnosed with BPD I did a lot of research, but I never diagnosed myself with it.

That is because I view a diagnosis as something that is official. It is something you can put on a medical record, it is something you can use if you took short term sick leave, and it is something that a Doctor would be able to see on your health records. A person cannot walk into a hospital and say, "I have diagnosed myself with BPD, please put it on my records." The line between educating and speculating and diagnosing seems to be blurred for many young people.

Before I was diagnosed with BPD I was first diagnosed with ADHD and then Bipolar. BPD shares similarities with these disorders as well as Schizophrenia, D.I.D., and other personality disorders. Because of the complexity of BPD it is often difficult to diagnose even for professionals. Though it doesn't seem to be the case for those advocating for self-diagnosis it seems that it could be really easy for someone to read the criteria for BPD and diagnose themselves based on that. Self-diagnosing any mental illness is dangerous least of all because so many symptoms in the DSM overlap. An article about BPD said the following regarding self-diagnosing the disorder;

Although it may seem easy to “self-diagnose,” it is important to know that a valid diagnosis of BPD involves a fairly extensive assessment. This should be done by a professional trained to make valid psychiatric diagnoses, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. All too often, I have seen people receive a diagnosis of BPD (sometimes in error) based on a clinician’s impressions after a very brief meeting.

Diagnosing BPD takes time and effort and must be done using methods with scientific support, such as structured diagnostic interviews, during which the clinician asks the patient a set of standardized questions about symptoms and experiences in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Examples of these include the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SCID-II), or the Diagnostic Interview for Personality Disorders (DIPD). It is important for patients to know that the gold standard way to diagnose BPD includes these structured interviews and that they are much more reliable than the clinician simply asking questions that occur to him/her or using informal impressions to make a diagnosis.
I wish these young people would understand that getting angry at people with a difference of opinion and accusing them of being ableist is hurting the fight to end mental illness stigma. There are certainly times where a difference of opinion is cause for anger ("I believe women deserve to be raped," "abortions should be illegal," "let's kill all the muslims"), but this is not one of them. Getting angry and hurling insults at people who do not believe in self-diagnoses is like calling me an animal hater because I eat meat or saying I hate my best friend because I dislike dark chocolate and she likes it. Ableism, as mentioned before is discriminating against people who are not able bodied. I am not doing this. I am not denying they have some sort of mental illness, I am not stopping them from doing research, and I am not saying that illness could very well be BPD. I am just saying they cannot diagnose themselves.
I've heard the argument from young people that some do not have the means to see a professional and seek an official diagnosis. I understand this, and I pity those people because it's horrible to have to live with an illness and not get proper treatment. I fully encourage them to educate and research in order to provide self-care until they are able to get proper professional treatment. Being ableist, to me, would be telling them that there is nothing wrong with them and discouraging them from caring for themselves. What these young people do not understand is that there are serious instances of ableism out there, and they are getting angry at the wrong people.  Obviously I can only speak for myself, but it seems a lot of them almost want to have an official diagnosis. Which is fine, but they need to understand it has to be done by professional. Unfortunately the problem I seem to keep running into is that young people are picking and focusing on certain phrases and then using that to twist words. If I were to say, "I believe you can think you have a disorder, research it, provide self-care based on that research and self-advocate. However as far as an official diagnosis goes, that is something I believe is able to be put on a medical record," many would react harshly and accuse me of ableism simply because of the second part of the sentence. They would ignore that I am agreeing that they may have BPD, they would ignore my support. This makes me incredibly sad for these young people because they could do so much to help end stigma, but they are attacking the wrong people.
Another issue I have seen is accusations of me being "classist" because I have mentioned my degree. Tell me, who would know more about space? An astronaut who has been through school and training or an 18 year old who reads a lot of books about space? Obviously the astronaut. I have more experience with this disorder because I have lived with it longer. That is not ableist or classist, it's a fact. I had mentioned that I have a Master's degree in Psychology and that is part of the reason I am looking at "diagnosing" from a more professional point of view. This is not classism, and this is not me saying I am better than them. I do not have a degree because I am well off. It took me 10 years and during that time I was almost homeless, struggled to keep jobs, and dealt with many hardships. I do not understand why it is so difficult for these young people to accept a person is more knowledgeable than them. Being so does not equate to me thinking I am better than them. However, if you take someone who has no degree and has only been learning about the disorder for a year or two vs someone with an advanced degree who's officially diagnosed and has been studying the disorder for 8 years; who do you think would be more versed in it? I am more than happy to use my knowledge to help these young people, but it seems as though they are more interested in being part of some BPD clique or hurling accusations. Teaching is important, but it's impossible to teach those who do not want it. 
Young people need to learn who is advocating for them and who is truly against them. I am the former. They must understand that as someone who has studied psychology I personally view diagnosing as an official thing done by professionals. This is not be saying I don't support their self-advocacy or their belief they have BPD. It saddens me that this is all they hear when I explain myself. Think about it this way; Let's say you came up to me limping and said, "I think my ankle is broken." I responded with, "Okay, let's get you to the hospital so we can be sure. If you can put weight on it, it may be just sprain." I am acknowledging the ankle may be broken, taking steps to help the person, but also saying they should find out for sure. I feel many of these young people would get angry if I didn't say, "yes! It's totally broken! Don't go to the Doctor's because you know for sure!" rather than seeing I was supporting them. For those who cannot get professional help for whatever reason, it would would be the difference between me saying, "Um, no you don't have BPD. You're so stupid and don't know anything!" and "I definitely see why you think you have BPD. Just be careful cause it's a difficulty disorder to diagnose. I wouldn't say it officially, but totally self-care based on your findings." Unfortunately all they hear if there's even a slight difference of opinion is, "I don't believe you." This is simply not true.
Lastly, there seems to be many young people who do not want to acknowledge that there are people out there who view BPD as a clique or trendy badge. They do not believe that people want to invade BPD spaces because they think the disorder sounds romantic. Not believing this is ignorant and these kids need to take their blinders off. Because it does happen.
Learn to read intent, learn to look past the surface. Learn who is on your side and don't push them away.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Show Me How To Say No To This

My friend, whom I affectionately call “Green Lantern,” is possibly one of the most frustrating friends I’ve ever had. I met him in March of 2015 and it was hard not to be smitten with him. He has these big dark eyes, a killer smile, and possible the nicest hair you will ever see. It was only a matter of time before he became my FP, and an even shorter time before we started a sexual relationship. We also, I believe, had a different type of friendship than what he’s used to. Our minds sometimes work very similar, and so I came to know him better than a lot of people in his life. I understood him in a way that others did not.

People will tell you that GL is sexist, a jackass, and causes a lot of people to keep there distance. I didn’t care, because when someone is on the pedestal you make excuses for the negative. GL also has Asperger’s and so I knew a lot of his behavior had to do with that. What kind of person would I be if I turned my back on him because of something not aways in his control? I have had so many people abandon me because they didn’t and couldn’t understand my disorder

I’m not going to lie, and you can probably figure it out. I’ve been intense with GL, I’ve messaged him way too many times, and I get panicked if he doesn’t reply. Nonetheless, it’s still incredibly difficult being his friend. Because of his Asperger’s, GL is disconnected from most human emotion; making it really easy for him to turn his interest on and off. He can be really sweet, caring, and has made me feel like he’s the only person who understands what goes on in my head. He’ll tell me I can tell him anything, and that it’s fine if I message him a lot. About a month ago he was talking to me a lot, hanging out with me weekly, and telling me that I’ll be able to hang to with him a lot more in the upcoming months because he’s free a lot during the colder months.

Then it’s like a complete 180. He’ll say things that cause me to feel like a burden when I message him, he’ll barely reply to me, and he’ll be super vague. About a week and a half ago I had a difficult time because he’d suddenly gone cold, and when I tried to talk to him about it, it got even worse. So, I decided to put some space between us. I stopped messaging and texting him, didn’t show up to the places we’re usually both at, even deactivated my Facebook (that was also for other reasons). 

I texted him on Saturday because I really wanted to hang out with him for my birthday next week. Yes, even after how much he hurts me, I still wanted to be around him. He never responded, and so I let it be. Today, I texted him again because I was in his area, asking if he wanted to say hi. He finally replied, and so I seized the opportunity to ask about the text from Saturday. Long story short, he won’t be hanging out with me for my birthday. I asked him if we could hang out soon, “I don’t know.” I asked him if I had done anything wrong and if we were still friends, nothing. We chatted a little, but it felt forced and it was mostly him giving me professional advice.

This is the person that a few weeks ago was hanging out with me weekly, being super understanding and making me feel cared for. Now he was acting ice cold. I know a lot of people will think, “well, maybe you were too intense. Maybe you pushed him away.” I’m sure that’s not fun, but this is different. It’s like a switch that he flips on and off, and it’s very binary. He’s either supportive, understanding, and will accept my bad parts or he’s vague, distant, and treats me like I’m an annoying burden.

Yes, I’m sure it’s partly caused by my BPD; but I honestly think a lot of it is on him. Because there have been times when I was being super intense that he was really laid back and chill about it, and still hung out with me. He also won’t talk to me until I approach him. He won’t tell me, “hey I need some space.” Imagine how I feel when that switch happens? He can be so confusing too. First he’ll tell me that he considers me a close friend, then when I mention I don’t like disappointing him (who likes disappointing anyone?) he’ll tell me, “I don’t want that level of friendship with anyone.” What? Is that an Asperger’s thing? 

Obviously my disorder plays a big role in this, and I’m not going to psychoanalyze myself. I know I shouldn’t let him have this much power, I know I’ve ignored a lot of his shitty behavior because I have him on the pedestal, I know I’m probably making excuses right now. I know I can’t control other people’s behavior, but it would be nice if people who knew what I went through didn’t do the exact things that make Beth go haywire. Like, if someone tells you not to hug them a certain way because they broke their ribs, unless you’re an asshole you’re not going to. 

No, I don’t control how people react to me, but people have the ability to show compassion and understanding. We adapt to the world around us, which means while I have to keep my feelings and behaviors and check because not everyone understands BPD, it also means that those who do understand can at least try and meet me half way. Sometimes I honestly feel like he only hangs out with me when he’s horny, and of course I keep giving it to him. I keep giving in no matter how upset and hurt he makes me. No matter how much he jerks me around, I keep coming back.

I let him dictate my mood, and that's unhealthy. It's also a very borderline thing. I become dependent on people for validation and happiness. I compromise my own beliefs and integrity and self esteem. Even after I stood up and said no more I sill felt guilty and struggled not to apologize. I was strong, but I still feel despair.

Show me how to say no to this. I can’t say no to this.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Stinkin' Thinkin'

There are so many thoughts running through my head right now. Some of them make sense, some of them don't, and all of them keep overlapping. I'm trying to be up front about how I feel, and describing my symptoms as they are happening. A lot of the time I will project my anger, or isolate my feelings. I think being about to cut through emotion mind and rationally explain what my head is going through shows a lot of progress and self-awareness.

My thinking tends to be really distorted sometimes; which makes sense since cognitive distortions are a big part of BPD. Black and white thinking is a major trait I deal with and it's so ingrained in me that sometimes I don't realize it's happening or I will deny it. Either everything is all good or all bad, either people like me or they hate me. There's no in between. If there is a situation where everything is great except for one thing my black and white thinking will tend to be in the black because of my low self-worth and filtering (which I'll talk about in a bit). This type of thinking tends to lead to other cognitive distortions. The following is a great link that describes perfectly a lot of my thinking patterns

15 Common Cognitive Distortions

The times that cognitive distortion affect me the most is when it comes to people, especially if that person is my FP (favorite person). People with BPD tend to do what is called "splitting." We see people as either "good" or "bad," and there is no in between. Understanding splitting is a huge factor in understanding BPD. It's really difficult for me to understand that a person can be angry at me and still care about me. My low self-esteem and self-worth often has me jumping to conclusions about how people feel about me. Someone isn't responding to a message? They must be angry. Because of my intense fear of rejection and abandonment (real or imagined) I react with frantic efforts to avoid or make things better. Unfortunately this leads to a chain of events that can often end up suffocating me. The closer I am to someone, the more I have them on that "Borderline pedestal" the worse it is. It sorta goes like this.

"Someone isn't responding? They must be angry. Better message them insensitively. Crap, they still aren't replying. Now they are probably mad I was so annoying. Goddess, I'm so stupid. Why did I do that? I had one chance to show them I'm not a crazy person. Okay, I can fix this. Let me just message them again and apologize. Oh fuck, they still aren't responding. Now I feel super guilty."

And so on until I'm so deep into emotion mind that it it literally feels like nothing is going to be able to pull me out. It becomes really difficult for me to think rationally and the only thing that will help is seeing that person or them giving me a definitive, "I'm not made." Even that doesn't help. Sometimes I need more, like for them to compliment me, spend time with me, hug me, say something nice to me. Then I feel relief, but it's always only for a little bit. 

Another form of cognitive thinking I commonly do is filtering, "We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted."

Memory loss and distortion is something a lot of people with BPD struggle with. Emotion mind and especially disassociation can cause slight amnesia and/or memory loss. Sometimes I can't even remember what is real and what is made up in my head. This can be extremely frustrating for me in my daily life. I have trouble recalling past medical history at the doctors, trying to find something I lost often results in me having a melt down, and I almost always end up feeling incredibly stupid.

The other day I went into town to have some time to myself. I ended up losing my train/bus pass, and basically panicked because I couldn't get on the train. Often when stuff  like that happens the blinders will go up, I'll freeze with panic, and start catastrophizing (another cognitive distortion). In my mind if I didn't get a new pass before I went home then my whole life was going to be ruined. I wasn't being "dramatic", this was literally what my brain thought was rational thinking. I managed to fight through the fact I was feeling completely mortified, and the emotion mind enough to reach out ask people for help. Since I don't have a whole lot of friends in the area (most of my friends live across or out of state), there's usually a core group of people I ask. One of these people has been GL. I feel incredibly guilty asking him for help because it always happens after he's told me he's busy or can't hang out so I fear he will think I am doing it on purpose. 

He ends up being the one to help me, but not before standing in front of me in public and reprimanding me. He told me he didn't understand why this kept happening, that it was the third time in 8 months he's had to help me with transportation issues and most people he knows it happens maybe three times in their life time. Imagine someone like me, who already has such low self worth; who already feels incredibly guilty and how I felt when that happened. Then combine the fact that I react very badly to what I perceive as public scolding with how I was already feeling with the fact GL is one of my FP's. Never mind that despite what he said, he still helped me. Never mind that his natural way of talking can often come off as harsh. I immediately started filtering, generalizing, black and white thinking.

Another thing that happened was a react very very badly to a comment a friend made about my favorite football team. It may sound silly, but I have a lot of weird triggers surrounding football and a certain team's fan base. I made a post explaining, but will talk about it here as well.

My main issue with fans of team A started back in Middle School. I was already someone who was bullied (and don't say, "everyone is bullied in Middle School." No, they aren't, and even if they were it doesn't make it okay.), but during the weeks leading up to the 1997 Super Bowl it was even worse. For those two weeks I had kids make fun of me, shout at me in the halls; I even had food thrown at me in the cafeteria. I would go home every single day crying and scared to go to school the following. All because I wasn't rooting for team A. I was severely bullied for not going along with he crowd (my favorite team was the opposing team). Being someone that had a lot of shit to deal with through out middle and previously in elementary (death of my grandmother, parents going bankrupt, moving, parents divorce), I was a very fragile kid. This was around the time my disorder more than likely started developing. Therefor this experience is permanently etched in my head as a traumatic one. I know #notallfans, but my disorder doesn't know that; and I think that's what people aren't getting. When I am in emotion mind or disassociated I do not see fans of team A as individual people. I see them as a collective being, and treat them as such. No, it's not just something I can turn off. This isn't me making an excuse in order to say the things I say, it's really how my brain works. My Mom and Sister are team A fans. Do you really think I'd say the things I say on here if I was sitting in the living room with them and my nephew?
More recently I've associated team A to SG. Their QB is pretty much his hero, and he's about as big of I'm not going to go into the whole story about what's recently happened with SG (you can probably figure it out), but I will say that it's hard for me to see team A win and not think of SG being happy. My disorder doesn't like that because SG hurt her multiple times, and so it wants him to hurt just as much as I am.
Sometimes if something is bothering me, and it gets to be too much I will use projection combined with overgeneralization. I will go back to the time in middle school, Project my anger and fear onto current fans and assume that they feel how I do. In my mind I am "getting to them first" before they can hurt me. The problem with using these defense mechanisms is at the end I turn that anger inward. People with BPD already feel deep shame almost all the time, so this will cause me to feel it even more so.Trust me when I say there's is no amount of anger, shame, guilt, and disappointment that you can have in me that equals the amount I have in myself sometimes. When my pain and anger gets really extreme I go into what's called, "disassociation." Disassociation has different "levels", but it's basically an out of body experience. One article describes it as,
I simply go to a void in my mind, a place of ultimate nothingness. Only I exist there–a silent blackness surrounds me. Once there, I basically operate on auto-pilot. I feel like I’m watching a movie. I’m aware of what I’m doing, but it seems distant. I later can not recall what happened.
This is probably the closest someone has come to describing what disassociation is like for me. When I'm in that "auto-pilot" I forget about individual people (as mentioned before), sometimes I can pull myself back just enough to block certain people from seeing my status, but then I'm pulled right back in. There's part of me, as mentioned in the quote, that is aware but it's like I'm watching someone else do it. As far as the last part, I do not have complete amnesia, but I do have memory loss. It's actually quite common for someone with BPD to experience memory issues. It's also very frustrating, since it often happens in emotion mind.
So when my friend made that comment it basically triggered everything above, and I went into a blind rage. The only thing that would stop it was trying to hurt him the same way he hurt me. Of course all that ended up happening was I felt embarrassed and shitty about myself.
Despite all of this, I am proud of myself. I am proud that I am so self-aware, and I am proud that I have no acted on my thoughts. My feelings are valid and I have a right to them, it's what I do with them that matters. Often people expect big changes in progress that they don't notice the little things. I may have suicidal ideation, but I don't act on it. That's an improvement. I may post something super passive aggressive, but I delete it. That's an improvement. I may lash out at someone, but I apologize. That's an improvement. Unfortunately all people see are the ideation, the lashing out, the passive aggressiveness. That's why I always say the only person who can judge my progress is me. Imagine the following scenario.

A man is driving and his car breaks down. He starts walking for miles and get attacked by a bear. He manages to get away from the bear and continues walking. He meets a man who mugs him and leaves him bloody. Finally after more miles of walking he comes to a gas station. He walks in; clothes ripped, dirty, bloody, mumbling, and out of breath. The has station attendant just sees what looks like a crazy homeless person. He doesn't know what he's been through the past 20+ miles before. He only knows the man from that point. Only the man truly knows his journey and everything he's overcome.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Quick Thoughts (Love)

Having BPD means that I feel things really intensely. Imagine burns covering your whole body, that's what emotions are like for me. The strongest of those emotions are often anger and love.

So that is why I am sitting here tonight, tears streaming down my face, unable to turn my thoughts away from SG. He has caused me more pain than any other person in my life. He lied to me, abandon me; but that's not the worst. He made me trust him again, and then did the same exact to me. He hurt me, multiple times, and I'm so angry with him. I'm angry that he gave me a false sense of security and optimism. I'm angry that he's on dating sites, but doesn't talk to me. I'm angry that he won't give me closure, that he told me he wanted to be friends and then ghosted me again. Obviously there's a lot of detail involved for those who don't know the full story, but now isn't the time.

Despite all the anger, however, I love him. And it's that love that causes the pain to run deep down to my core. Most of the time I do okay; out of sight, out of mind. Then he'll pop up in my memory again, and I'll fixate and I'll remember. Oh boy will I remember.

Then it will pass.

Until the next time.

I put myself back on a dating site again. It was a huge step. I think I just need to meet someone new. When I'm with GL I forget about SG. The times I think about SG are when I'm alone with no way to distract my thoughts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Talk

The holidays used to be something I enjoyed. While that's still the case in some aspects (I like holiday music, no shame), my perception has also changed a lot.

When I was younger we always had Thanksgiving and X-Mas even dinner at my Aunt and Uncles (you better believe we have the, usually, seven fishes going. I mean, I grew up in an Italian Catholic house. What else do you expect?). After my parents divorced things slightly changed. Until my Sister and I were old enough to make our own choices on where to go; Christmas eve was spent with Mom, Christmas with Dad, and they rotated Thanksgiving and New Years eve each year. It was structure, and something that remained as such for a long time.

Then, as they often do, things changed. My Mom bought a house and started doing Thanksgiving and Christmas there (when up until a couple of years ago my Dad would come by to see my Sister and I); my Mom's older sister was diagnosed with dementia and eventually stopped joining us for Holiday meals; people got married and had other families to visit. All of this change was difficult for me because I am someone who likes tradition, but even more so I don't like change.

But now it's not the change in schedules and structure that has skewed my view of the holidays, it's because I am no longer a child. Holidays, even when my parents were together, have always been spent with my Mom's side of the family (though my Dad's side was also involved pre-divorce). As with most family the usual, "what have you been up to?" and "how's____going?" Aside from my sister, there's two first cousins on my Mom's side. I dread questions such as the one's above. Why?

My sister is engaged, has a baby, a career (which she's moved up in both location and position wise), and before moving to her current place was living in her apartment with her fiance for at least two years.

My cousin, D, is married, owns a house he's lived in a few years now, and a steady career.

My cousin, J (the youngest of us) has a steady career, dating someone, and just moved into his own place.

Me? Single, lost multiple jobs over the past year, and moved several times.

What am I supposed to say? "Well, I've been struggling a lot with my mental illness. I have a hard time with suicidal thoughts, can't seem to keep a job or a steady job. But hey, I'm in DBT and actually doing well with progress for someone in my position!"

My family is conservative (my Mom and lesbian aunt are the most liberal of them). They aren't exactly a, "talk openly about mental illness" type of family. I've sent them information on what I deal with, and no one really responds. My Mom and Sister do a bit more, but only because they know me better.

Yeah, see why I don't look forward to the holidays as much?

On Mental Illness, Jobs, and a Personal Status Quo

I was thinking about the way jobs and careers. I confess my thoughts are a bit jumbled, so this blog may come out as such.  The reason this particular topic have been on my mind is because of a conversation I recently had with one of my roommates. I was telling him about a job interview that I recently had, and he asked me if I had ever thought about a career.

I was taken aback by that question. Why assume the line of work I am doing is not what I want as a career? My back ground is in psychology, and for a while all I knew was that I wanted to work with youth, but I wasn't sure in what capacity. I tried different things before deciding that an educational setting, working with special ed or troubled youth, is where I wanted to be. People often make assumptions, and in my case people assume because I hold a graduate degree I can become a therapist overnight.  In order to be license eligible one has to take Clinical Psychology, and I did not. In order for me to do so I would have to get a whole entire new degree (no, I cannot just take the "missing classes"). The Government allots students a certain amount of money for each type of degree. I've used up all but a few thousand of mine, and in order to get student loans I would have to go to school for the next level degree. For me that is a PhD, and something I simply don't want to do. Therefor my other options are private loan (no eligible to loan forgiveness), scholarships (often don't pay for full schooling), or pay out of pocket (lol).

Right now I work as a paraprofessional (re: teacher's assistant). My experience is working with kids on IEP's. This is what I want to do, and this is what I want as my career. For some people, however, they cannot grasp this. Why not go for my PhD (well for one, it's a job in an of itself)? Why not work to be a teacher? Simply put, I don't want to. It's not because I don't believe in myself or I'm giving up. I simply am happy where I am at, and do not want to take on the added burden and stress of trying to figure out how to pay for school. I am and have always been a beta personality. Someone who is much happier following and assisting, and leading only when I have to (e.g. if a teacher is absent) than being an actual leader. And you know what? That's okay. It doesn't mean I am selling myself short, or saying I am not good enough. People can't accept that though, they can't accept that someone is happy where they are and they choose not to advance.

People with BPD often experience shifts in goals, including career goals. It is not uncommon for a "Borderline" to change career paths, quit jobs, or even sabotage and get fired. I am certainly guilty of the latter two, but here's where I take pride. When I was 16 years old I decided I wanted to major in Psychology and work with youth. Along the way there were many bumps in the road, and I worked many jobs not with youth or even in Human Services. That dream never left me though. Even if I was working an office job or a retail job, I knew deep down I was meant to work with kids. I never changed my mind about that.

I am reminded of the debate over minimum wage, and how many people are angry that "burger flippers" want $15 an hour. For many people living with mental illness getting and keeping a job is difficult. Least of all because of the stigma over mental illness that still holds strong in Psychology. Therefor, for many people struggling, a job at McDonald's is an achievement. Basically judging someone on their job is unfair because you do not know that person's story. You don't know what i took to get them there, what (or who) they are working for, and to turn around and say they don't deserve a living wage is basically saying you are better than them.  Not everyone can be doctors, lawyers, CEO's; and you know what? Not everyone wants to be. Maybe people are happy working fast food; serving others their meals, cooking food. But because we assume people have to be at the top and always advancing to be happy, we look at these people as if they gave up on their lives.

When I've been unemployed (which has been a lot), many people would say to me, "just get a job anywhere!" or "Go work at a fast food joint!" Friends from older generations would give me, "when I was your age I couldn't afford to be picky. I worked 3 jobs and waited tables!" Yet, today we look down at the people with these jobs. We tell unemployed people to go wait tables or work at Dunkin' Donuts, but then we get angry when they want a living wage.

I am happy. I am happy being a follower, I am happy with my degree, I am happy not putting myself in more financial debt, and I am happy that I never gave up on my dream. Perhaps when it's fiscally responsible I will take some extra courses, but for now I am happy where I am. The fact I finished school, got my degree, and am aiming to work somewhere in the human services field is a big achievement for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. So when people feel I am giving up on myself, not trying to "move up", it's quite the opposite.