The Abused Becomes the Abuser

********

I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.

SMAAAAACK.

then

BOOOOM.

I fell straight back.

It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.

I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!

After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.

****

“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.

“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”

I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.

“Are you done?” I looked up.

“No I’m not done!”

“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”

“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”

There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.

“You don’t care do you?!”

I didn’t answer.

He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

****

I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.

And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.

I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.

****

Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.

****

We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.

And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.

********

Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.

I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.

********

Orgy’s remake, 1998

New Order’s original version, 1983

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I’m on the border y’all.

Not only am literally on the border (Texas borderlands) but I’m also on the border mentally.

It’s “official”.

It’s set on paper with nice black ink–though not in stone or anything–but it was kept from me, KEPT FROM ME!

Kept from ME by my own therapist, my Young Therapist.

Guys I’m going to warn you. Before you go any further with this post, know this: I’m actually going to be serious for a moment and I’m going to be saying some things that are not easy for me to say. I’m going to say some things that may be triggering to some of you. AND, I’m going to be serious without cursing! (Yeah, I know!)

Here’s where I bore you to death or at least until you’re nearly as suicidal as me. *trigger warning*

********

Let me explain, I suspected it ever since Young Therapist let it slip that her dissertation/PhD concentration is on Borderline Personality Disorder. In fact, I suspected it long before then. I suspected it nearly two years ago when I started with her and she gave me these handouts on dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). When we began, I’d get packets–one after another. I’d get a new packet every week and now I have a damn book’s worth of packets in a folder. A chapter on mindfulness, a chapter on progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing, a chapter on DEAR MAN, another on Cognitive Restructuring of Mental Distortions and Distress Tolerance and the list goes on.

One day I asked Miss Young Therapist about this Dr. Marsha Linehan who was the author (you could read it on the fine print on the bottom of the handouts). Young therapist answered that Dr. Linehan was pretty much the mother of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) which is primarly used on borderline patients.

“But just because I’m giving you these packets P., doesn’t mean I’m saying you’re a borderline patient.”

That was, until I had my last session with her on Wednesday this week. The first half hour or so we did the usual, “How are you doing this week? Wha’ts going on? And this and that.”

I’d brought my “release of information” form signed for her so she could send my files to the new therapist I’ll be seeing at the community clinic. I was waiting for her to bring up the termination thing and sure enough she did.

“So, this is our last session,” she sighed, “is there anything you want to say?”

“Yep, it is.” I looked intently, sighed, then looked away towards my wheelchair where I’d placed my folder. “Oh, I brought the release form signed. I went to the clinic and found out the name of my new therapist and got the fax number and everything here for you.”

I pulled it out of the folder and handed it to her.

I went on and told her that I’d like a copy of the two reports she’ll be faxing in to them–the “Termination Summary” and “Intake Evaluation Report”–because since it’s a community hospital she can’t just send it directly to the therapist. And I added that since it would have to go through the medical records office which can take over a month, she might as well give me a copy of each just in case.

“Yes, of course, I’ll give you a copy when we head out.”

I wasn’t lying about the medical records office. They’re terrible! But, I did do something with double intention there. I wanted to get a hold of my records without being too obvious about it. I know right? Why couldn’t I just upright and tell her I wanted a copy? Why was I so nervous about that? It’s the dynamics I tell you, and my own anxiety and hesitance.

We went on to discuss what I’d benefited most from and she asked what I thought I’d become better at handling. I mentioned some of the mindfulness stuff and managing my anger. She said that I was one of the most “committed clients” she’d worked with as well as one of the clients with the most extreme life stressors. “You’ve had to deal with more than most people. And you’ve done extremely well considering that, I think,” she said.  She went on with the whole patting me on the back, flattering, and good job thing. I don’t doubt she was being honest though. She genuinely seemed pleased with my overall progress.

When we went out to the front desk and I paid her my dues, she wished me luck with the new therapist again and said bye. I thanked her and then just stared at her for a minute.

“Yes?” she asked looking confused.

“Um, aren’t you going to print out the Termination Record so I can have a copy?”

“Oh, oh, right.”

I don’t know why, maybe I’m just overly critical, but I once again felt she was holding back on me. She could’ve honestly forgotten but I don’t know.

Anyway, she printed it out and handed it to me and said, “If there’s anything you have questions about, about what’s on here, feel free to call me.” She gave me this look I can’t describe. It’s was a sort of apologetic look.

“Ok.” I looked at the paper and said, “This is just the termination summary, can I get the intake evaluation report as well?”

“Uh, mmm, I don’t know, I’ll really have to ask my supervisor about this P. Sorry.”

Again, I felt a little put off. But oh well, I figure I’ll call in a week and ask for her supervisor and try to get it directly from him.

*******

When I was in the car I began reading the termination summary, and read something that shocked me a bit it. At the end of the report, it read:

Diagnosis:
Axis I
296.32 Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, Moderate

Axis II
301.83 Borderline Personality Disorder

Axis III
Disease of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue: Osteogenesis [Imperfecta] <–She’d left out the imperfecta part.

Axis IV
Occupational problems
Economic problems
Problems with access to healthcare services

Axis V
GAF Current: 75
GAF Long Term: 55

What shocked me was the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. But why? I had suspected it even though she never told me, ever, and even though I’m not big on holding to a diagnosis. What I mean is, I take a diagnosis with a grain of salt, a BIG grain of salt. They are merely there to draw a delineation the person’s major mental problems and a course of action.

BUT, then again, I contradict myself, because a part of me was and has been desperate, yearning even for some sort of label. With that I would have proof! I know, me wanting a label sounds shocking in and of itself! See I’d gotten a bipolar label after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. That was the first time I’d seen a mental health professional in my life. And I got diagnosed only after the second session.

I’ll tell you though, getting something on paper felt like a relief then. It was a validation. I could no longer tell myself (even though I still do): “See P, you’re just making all this up. There’s nothing wrong with you. All of humanity is insane anyway! And you, you’re just weak! You’re just crying over nothing. Go on, cry like a baby over nothing. Always have! The baby you’ve always been. You can stop all this, you know? You’re just making it up anyway. They were right about you, your family and everyone! You and your antics and your dramatics. That’s all it is! There’s no such thing as mental illness girl! Yeah little, stupid, little selfish girl. You don’t need their help. You don’t deserve it either. Just straighten up and quit the crying! Quit it! Quit hitting your head against the wall and get that damn razor out of your hand!”

So you see, getting it in paper meant that I wasn’t just being dramatic as I’ve always been called. I’ve held my little BP label as a trophy even, in a sort of twisted way but I don’t think people can truly understand what I mean until they’ve been there in front of that psychiatrist or therapist looking like hell (oops, just a little curse).

Then, I didn’t stick around with that first psychiatrist in the spring of 2008.

“I hate them all! Nothing but drug dealers for the Big Pharma Co.s, nothing but pill pushers. They don’t care about you.” And then I caved and went back to another and then another and another all in the span of a year.

I eventually landed myself in one of the university psychiatrist’s hands by pleas and begging of my first therapist.

“Please go. Just try it,” she’d say.

So I went.

****

You? bipolar? I’m not sure. No se. Vamos a ver. I doubt it. But I’ll have to see more of you to be sure. Nos daremos cuenta con el tiempo,” he said.

He was an old Cuban man and I hated him the instant I saw him (not because he’s Cuban yall; I’m Colombian remember, so there’s a lot not to like there 😉 I kid). I just got a terrible vibe from him. I didn’t trust any psychiatrist then (am still hesitant) and I sure as hell didn’t trust some old mangy one covered in liver spots.

“I don’t think I’m going back there,” I told my first counselor/therapist, the one I was seeing at the university’s psychological services center (this is not the same place where Young Therapist works. Young therapist works at the College of Social Sciences in the Psychology  department).

“P. you really should go see a psychiatrist to help you stabilize those mood swings,” the counselor said. “Look if you don’t want to see that man, there’s this really good psychiatrist, just came back. She was going to retire but decided not to just yet.”

Needless to say she finally convinced me to go and I returned.

An awkward moment occurred when I went to see this new “good psychiatrist” and Dr. Cuban Liverspots said hi to me when he was marching with his coffee cup on the way to his office, right next to new “good psychiatrist’s”! Well, turns out this was the third or fourth psychiatrist (I honestly don’t remember how many I’d seen by then) and she said that I did not have bipolar (BP). But she didn’t say what it was that I did have. If it wasn’t BP, then what I wondered. I never asked though. I guess I can be passive in that sense. The only thing I knew, is when I went to the cash register to pay, the bill read, “Major Depressive Disorder” (MDD) and “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” (GAD).

At least I got my answer, I thought. That’s when the alphabet soup of my psychological disorders got spicy. I now had a gumbo soup of disorders.

Then this! This Borderline Personality Disorder. It sounds so macabre! So fantastical. So unreal. So STIGMATIZING! I’m sorry to break it to you guys, my dear BP internet buddies but my belief is that as stigmatizing as BP is (and it really is), the BPD label is ten times more. Why? I’ll explain in part two.

****

“What?! You got that borderline personality disorder!? What is that? Is that like when you have multiple personalities? OH MY GOD, you got multiple personalities P? You gonna go Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde on me P?”

“No! Come on! I don’t have multiple personality disorder, that’s not even called that by the way; it’s been updated by the APA. It’s now called dissociative identity disorder, Dee-Eye-Dee (DID). I’m just me, the one and only PAZ. I’m still the melancholically manic mouse, only now I fit the ICD and DSM and [insert random acronyms for other diagnostic manuals] criteria of a borderline meloncholically manic mouse. I’m a borderline melancholically manic mouse  is all. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very unstable environment though my family was always tightly knitted and mostly very loving. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to deal with a lot of traumatic events, especially in my childhood so I’m somehow ’emotionally scarred’. Maybe I regress to childhood if you were to ask Freud, though the behavioralists wouldn’t agree. Maybe my brain does fire off too quickly, and if that’s the case, the pharmas are more than happy to hear. Maybe my limbic system has a malfunction and thus, my amygdala is hyperactive or hypersensitive; maybe it’s a genetic mutation like my malformed bones and that’s why I’m so quick to rage. Or maybe I was conditioned to rage by my mother’s rage and abuse. The behavioralists would agree with that one. Maybe I do have a shortage of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin or GABA or some other neurotransmitter. Maybe I don’t, but maybe I do, and maybe I have all of the above or none of the above. All I know is I have the emotional stability of a five year-old. I guess it fits my toddler height.”

Really, how do you explain all that? It just makes my alphabet/acronym soup spicier and more foreign than a crunchy Samosa plate served with dhaal soup.

Mmmm. Samosa.

********

Alright, some of you may know what this is already, this BPD and BP and Axis I and Axis II nonsense, but to those of you who don’t and are interested, let me explain what some of this is  (it’s a good thing I’m a nerd that’s into psychology and I have several books on it).

When I got home, you best believe I dug out those books from my book shelf.

First, the various “Axis” levels go like this:

Axis degrees are used as intersections of a person’s main mental problems in order to diagnose a mental disorder. Each Axis affects the overall diagnosis as each affects/intersects and correlates with the other.

Axis I: clinical disorders.    
Symptoms that cause distress or significantly impair societal or occupational functioning such as anxiety disorders, major depression, bipolar disorders, etc.

Axis II: personality disorders and mental retardation disorders. (now why’d they have to dump me in with the mental retardation folks? It’s just like they did when I was in PE class in middle school! P in PE with the retarded kids.)
Chronic and enduring problems that generally persist throughout life and impair interpersonal or occupational functioning.

Axis III: general medical condition.    
Physical disorders that may be relevant to understanding or treating a psychological disorder.

Axis IV: current psychosocial and environmental problems.    
Problems (such as interpersonal stressors and negative life events) that may affect the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of psychological disorders.

Axis V: global assessment functioning (GAF).
The individual’s overall level of functioning in social, occupational, and leisure activities. (Now I’m not going to go into detail with this one but if you want more info go here. You probably won’t though since no one clicks my links. hehe

****

Then there’s the Borderline (BPD) diagnosis. I had already known about BPD but again, I thought if anything I fit more into the BP criteria (tell me if this is getting confusing). I could just relate to those who have BP, who I’ve  talked to either face-to face or in online forums. The BPD people folks though, I said to myself, are said to be manipulative and I’m not manipulative, no, no I’m not. Am I? No. I’m not.

I’m not going to talk about the major depressive (MDD) diagnosis because that was a given for me.

So a very, very short description of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is that it is essentially a disorder of extreme and pervasive emotional disregulation characterized by impulsivity and instability in moods, relationships and self-image. (Karen Huffman)

None of this is catch all, you see. We are still people with unique personalities and cultures, histories and separate though connecting lives. We’re individuals, even those like myself who now have had the personality disorder diagnosis slapped on.

****

I cried uncontrollably for about two hours Wednesday night. It could’ve been PMS and a thought about L. I don’t know why I didn’t get so worked up about the other diagnosis (Dx) in my past. Then it dawned on me the more I thought about it. Could it be that  it’s because I think it’s actually the most accurate Dx I’ve had to date? And then, could it be that this has made me subconsciously think about all of the things I’ve been through, all that I’ve done? All the extremes in my life? I mean, all the psychiatrists never saw me for who I was. They never saw me more than twenty minutes at most and once every month or two (again, at most).

Young Therapist did see me for who I was, at least partly. She saw me for an hour every week for almost a year, then every two weeks for another. And she had me do tests and talk about so many things which I never did with the others. Young Therapist actually saw me cry. I cry a river damn near ever day when I get depressed but I don’t cry in front of people! And Young Therapist saw me get shaky to the point of telling her I had to puke, to the point of having to put my arms down and sit on them. Young Therapist, if anyone, would know how to diagnose me. So maybe I cried because I got the sense that not only did I get diagnosed with a very severe, very misunderstood and stigmatized disorder (albeit relatively treatable), but I felt for the first time they got to the core of me. Maybe, I was also crying out of relief.

In order to qualify (ha,  “qualify” like a merit) as having BPD in America, you have to fit at least five of these within your problem scheme. Here are some of the criteria according to the damn (oops) DSM-IV:

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Ok this one got me. I don’t think I make frantic efforts to avoid any kind of abandonment. Do I? No, you don’t P. But maybe I fear it so much I’m in denial? Maybe P, maybe. Or maybe this one just doesn’t pertain to me. Remember, it’s not a catch all.

  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s definitely me. Just this week I said, “Damn you WordPress. You suck! Why do I bother with you,” then, “Oh Dear WordPress. Don’t leave me. I love you. You’re the best. What would I do without you?”

  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Yes. Maybe. Yes. No. Maybe. I’m the best! I’m the worst! I’ll talk about this later. What do you mean by this anyway? Of course I have an identity! It’s not disturbed. Ok. Hmmm. Maybe. I don’t know. I change my mind about what I think about myself, what I want to do with my life and many people do that right? Yes P, but not at such extremes. I doubt what my strengths are. Am I good at writing? No! But I love writing. I’m good at it. Yes? Should I stick with editing video then? But I want to write documentaries and dramatic films. I like to draw too. Could I write comics? Who am I kidding, I’m not an artist. Should I be a therapist? Yes. Yes! I’m so wise, so loving. I want to embrace everyone. No! You’re a misanthropic nihilist. Nothing fits. Am I splitting? What about the web design thing you were trying to do, and what about the multimedia journalism masters at UT? What about the Latin American Studies masters you’d thought about too P? What about your music P? What about your photography P? And what about your poems P?

Yeah, I’ll have to get back to this one later.

  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Yes. I’m a highly reactive and highly impulsive person even though I tend to over-think things before I do them–so in that sense I’m not impulsive. I hesitate too much on doing them, say choosing a college degree or buying a flavor of yogurt or talking to someone I find attractive. My impulsivity in other aspects, however, has gotten me in trouble and put me in dangerous situations. I’ve done drugs. Many. I did cocaine with L. I was always a bummer, never a buyer. I bummed drugs off of people whenever they were offered, so I never considered myself a “real” user. I was a functioning alcoholic or as the AA people would say, I am an alcoholic in recovery.

I’ve also had phases in my life where I binge eat, particularly to deal with stress. People with BPD, especially young women tend also have a comorbid eating disorder, most notably bulimia nervosa. Though I’ve never been bulimic per se, I have always punished myself in some way or another after binging. My weight has also fluctuated drastically throughout my life. Right now I’m more on the healthy weight to slightly-underweight side.

Sex. That’s a difficult one. I was a shy, late bloomer, a wallflower. But I knew a lot about sex at a very young age. Growing up with an older brother and always hanging out with the guys, you find out about porn early on. Then I lost a close friend because of my impulsive sexual behavior. However, I’m still extremely shy, self-conscious and have issues about my body so I’ve turned down many sexual encounters due to the fact that I have terrible anxiety about it. I’m really short, have brittle bones (some of which are a bit disfigured), use a wheelchair and I always felt no one would find me attractive. I mean, really, who would find a girl in a wheelchair attractive, I’d tell myself. There are ignorant folks out there who still refuse to believe someone like me could have a thriving sexual life.

Who would find a midgety, malformed mouse attractive? So when I found out that I was found attractive indeed, when I was put on the spot, I often backed away. I’m very impulsive sexually though so there’s a tug of war going on in my head. “I can’t but I want to so bad”. Once I get comfortable enough, I’m very impulsive with sex so much so that L and two male “friends” of mine who used to called me a nymph. That’s when the alcohol and drugs come in to play as well.

Oh, and I’m also bisexual, though I mainly just identify as queer and don’t tell people I am. I guess I’m still in the closet about it.

  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

Triple yes. Though I’ve never really attempted and don’t think I make “gestures” of my suicidality to people. In fact, I try to hide it as much as possible. I don’t talk about my suicidal ideations or depression, the only exception being the therapist and even then I’m very vague about it.

As far as gestures… I don’t know. Maybe I make them and don’t realize it? There was, however, one time when I got in a huge fight with my brother not too long ago and I became a “maniac P., you’re acting like a manic! Chill! Chill! What are you…? Oh, f****, hi officer. No, no she’s alright. No, I don’t think I need to take her to the ER. She’s my sister. Yes. She just needs to sleep. I just need to get her to bed. No, I got it. Ok, yes, I’ll see if I take her to the nearest ER. I’m just getting to my apartment right around the corner. I will call them once I’m there, yes. Thank you.”

A cop had pulled us over because my brother wasn’t watching the road because he had to pull me back as I was trying to jump out of his car while screaming, “LET ME OUT”. Maybe that’s a suicidal gesture? I’m not sure. I don’t recall much of of it since I felt out of my body. I only remember sitting on the curb of some parking lot near his apartment complex that night crying and shaking uncontrollably and then, eventually, getting picked up by my dad who later said I couldn’t make a coherent sentence. Very impulsive indeed. Oh and that’s another thing with BPD. Borderlines supposedly have a tendency towards depersonalization  and derealization as well as transient psychotic or psychotic-like breaks under crisis situations, something I’m very familiar with.

Self-mutilation. Yes. I’ve never been much of a cutter, but when I have, it’s been extreme. I’m going to leave it at that. And I’d banged my head against walls ever since I was about ten or eleven or younger even. When I was in middle school, I got into the habit of scratching and slapping and punching myself and pulling bits of my hair. So triples yes on that one too. This is embarrassing guys.

  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

Yes, it’s one of the things that got me the initial Dx for bipolar. There’s something that should be said about this one though, because unlike the criteria, I usually don’t just have these episodes for only hours or days thought that is the case sometimes.

  7. chronic feelings of emptiness

Not as much as years back. It fluctuates for me. The way I see it: I fill up and then I drain, I fill up and then I drain.

  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

Yes to the power of ten. I’m a recovering rageaholic too. When I was a kid, I threw a butter knife at my brother over a simple remark he’d made and smashed all the plates. It hit him in the forehead. Fortunately, it was only a butter knife and my weak hands couldn’t throw hard enough for a blunt force to seriously hurt him. And these types of violent outbursts were not at all uncommon for me. I have dozens of similar stories ranging as early as when I was four.

  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

Yes. People are after me. I make terrible, mean comments on WordPress and that makes everyone get offended and so on and so forth. I have dissociation episodes galore. Where am I? Are those shadows moving? Are they people? Am I there and not here. I’m outside of myself!

********

Ok, I’m going to leave it here for now, but I plan to write more about BPD, what I think of all of this and all of the psychological research I’ve read about it as well as the co-morbidity of BP and BPD.

Hey? 🙂 You there?

See, I bored you to death. 😦

*Le mouse sigh*

***********************************************************************

Resources

Handbook of Personality, Third Edition: Theory and Research edited by Oliver P. John, Richard W. Robins, and Lawrence A Pervin

Psychology In Action, 6th Edition by Karen Huffman

PsychCenteral

Mayo Clinic

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I feel like I’m on the upside of down, seeing the world like a bonobo dangling hands down from a tree or like these wonderfully colored white folks full of soul. (They’re playing Ella Fitzgerld, “When I Get Low, I Get High.”) I’m a huge fan of them, especially Fiona. I’d marry her even though I don’t believe in marriage  (shhh. Keep it on the DL).

At any rate, ahem, the last four days I’ve been a mix and mash. I’m chatty, I’m full of energy, but it’s all anxious energy. Does that mean I’m a little mixed up? I don’t know. It’s the changing of seasons. Put it how you like. My body has come alive but with a vengeance, a vengeance called mad irritability.

And speaking of bodies coming alive, it’s Good Friday! There’s something about Jesus dying and resurrecting to give us eternal life and the chance to avoid eternal damnation. It makes me want to make a list! So I figured in lieux of all of these sad worldly and personal affairs, I’d write me a “Good List”. A good list is something I just came up with.

It’s pretty good. Hear me out…

I was supposed to do a “hope box” for therapy four weeks ago but never got it done. You know the habitual procrastination and then tragedy struck again or I struck it. Besides, a good list is better.

I like making lists and I know I’ve said this before but I really do. Something about making lists–about having certain thoughts cascading on paper or screen–makes me feel momentarily at ease; it’s become more of a compulsion. I also find making lists helps me clear my jumbled head a little. I like making skinny, stout lists and fat, drawn out lists. When I was in school, especially my first batch-full of semesters, I made a hell of a lot of snappy lists:

“GET STARTED ON RESEARCH PAPER!” then
“GET STARTED ON OUTLINE FOR RESEARCH PAPER” then
“FIRST TWO PAGES OF RESEARCH PAPER!” then
“GET STARTED ON RESEARCH PAPER, FOR REAL THIS TIME!” then
“RESEARCH PAPER DUE TOMORROW!” then
“GET RESEARCH PAPER DONE! LAST DAY!” then
“GET RESEARCH PAPER DONE BY EXTENSION DUE DATE! FINISH IT”

I found those were never helpful, only a cause of more anxiety. Nowadays, I make very specific detailed lists, still a cause of anxiety. But I’m no longer in school and don’t have a steady job or the like so I am able to break things down much easier. There’s even this exercise I learned from a time management tutorial called a “mind clearing session” in which you also make lists. It’s good stuff, but more on that later.

I digress. I’m having three, four, five conversations going off in my head right about now while one voice is singing and looping a mariachi song and a sixth conversation comes in to argue. My instinct in all of this mental chaos is to pace, more like rolling around the house aimlessly stopping in the kitchen or in my room to ask “what was I gonna get from here?”

But instead I’ll write down all the things I need to finish and break them down into very itty bitty chunks so I don’t get overwhelmed.

To edit a wedding video, I don’t just list say the songs, the tracks, and the approximate due date, I list every major step in a separate chunk and I only worry about one chunk at a time. “Create folders and set all capture scratch settings” then “transcribe or capture video” and so on. Even in this way, I tend to get stuck when I’m low or on the high side of low (which is 99% of the time) but I’m able to accomplish more if I just set myself to do one thing at a time. One thing at a time woman! I’m on speed, figuratively speaking. I’m just trying to survive one day at a time, one second at a time.

My “good list” is this:

I’ll write down some good things I can think of that happened this week and all the things I set out to do and actually managed to do, even if they’re incomplete (I’ll count them if I at least got started). As far as the “bad” things, and there are many (my mind tends to focus on those), I’ll list them if (read: IF) I find one good thing in them.

Taking the good from the bad in no particular order all stream of  conscious like and shit, etc, etc.

Numero 1: I’m currently polishing a turd. In fact, as soon as I’m done with this blog post and as soon as my bro’s wedding transfers I’m going to turn to the turd at hand.

In the last three days I’ve worked hard on this wedding turd. One of my dad’s wannabe photographer friends did this wedding and gave it to me to fix. Basically, I’m fixing the messed up sound, or in more technical terms, I’m repairing clipped audio. This guy’s wife does the video while he shoots and does occasional DJing. The thing is, she doesn’t know how to work the camera and she accidentally set the audio out of automatic mode and well, you got the rest. I’ve had this video for two weeks now, so it’s good I finally got started.

I’m finishing up the mariachi singing at the reception. But a turd is a turd is a turd (I’m going all Gertrude Stein on you and once again abusing the power of parenthesis). Oh well, this will be a turd that went from hella profuse, “god almighty is that a rotting corpse?” putrid stank, to “beuggh. what is that?” stank.

Numero 2: This is actually part of one but I felt I should start a new number. I’m actually getting paid for polishing this turd, not much but something.

Numero 3: I’ve been doing a moodchart again so I can give it to this new psychiatrist I started with in December. I have an appointment with her next Thursday and I feel there’s too much to even begin discussing in such a short time. I never end up saying what I want and I usually get drawn into something the doc says and forget what I wanted to say in the first place.

She’s only seen me twice since the December intake. I could never get how an accurate assessment of my past/current mental health has been if they only see me for fifteen minutes–twenty minutes at most–every two to three months at a time.

I’m being proactive and plan to slap this mood chart on her lap. The chart is dated from January on up to today. I had to go back and retrace my general moods for most of January and some of February, but I think I did a good job of that.

Numero 4: Sertraline has killed my sex drive (not that I have any great avenues to clear that one out at the moment anyway), but I actually felt a little sexy yesterday. And yes girls in wheelchairs can feel sexy.

Numero 5: I’ve been losing a lot of weight. I wasn’t overweight to begin with. Two pounds in the last three/four weeks. That may not seem like a lot to you but considering I’m only three feet tall and weigh a total of 45 lb–that’s roughly 19 kilos–a hell of a lot. In retrospect, that may not be such a good thing since the loss was a result of my downward spiral. My appetite declined along with my mind (usually I overeat when I’m down not the other way around). BUT the lighter feel has probably contributed to my sexiness.

Numero 6: My brother bought me a haircut. My hair is in a cute chin-length bop now. That definitely contributes to the sexiness as oppose to the mullet that was starting to grow after the super short cut I got sometime at the end of last summer.

Numero 7: I had more series of intense crying bouts but I’ve managed to recover quicker from them this week.

Numero 8: The chest pains eventually subsided today and also my heart didn’t explode or implode though it felt it would.

Numero 9: I actually managed to persuade myself to blog by making this silly list.

Numero 10: I did not punch a baby, break a window or smash a glass, but I found my aviator sunglasses which hide my tears while making me look fashionable.

Numero 11: On Wednesday, I saw the therapist and the immigration lawyers at the University. A two for one! Booya!

Numero 12: I went with my dad to apply for some benefit stuff. I can’t receive any because of legalities and he was denied because of legalities, so that just means we’re both going to have to work harder at launching his new website or starve. I have not started on it but discussions began rolling again this week.

Numero 13: I’ve had a lot of hip pain but I’m doing my stretches and have kept up with my exercises more or less.

Numero 14: I’ve been practicing a lot of mindfulness, especially the diaphragmatic breathing.

More good lists to come, I hope.

Happy Good Friday yall!

Jesus not God

I stole this from a FB page

(You’ll have to forgive my blasphemous and heathen ways and my overuse of parenthesis. Jesus did, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t. 😉 He told me so himself; he also told me this is not a very good image and likeness of him and that he was indeed not as fair )

Oh god, am I still alive?

February 25, 2012

Dear God/Universe,

I sit here groggily in this pale Saturday afternoon sippin’ on my cold coffee. It’s just the dogs and myself today. All’s quiet and lonesome. But little Luna, the cutest and sweetest little bitch ever, is laying beside me, leaning her furry back against the desk, taking care of my emotions–and she’s doing a better job than I am. She kept me from crying my half paralyzed eye out. I know, it’s not the soggy eyeball that’s paralyzed; it’s the muscles connected to the eyelid, but  whatever, same shit. Anyway, you should know she also kept me from gauging it out like ole Oedipus there.

God/Universe, I know you know I love you but why do you do me this way sometimes? Are you trying to get rid of me? Why so soon? Why so often? I no longer shout mean, spiteful names at you. I try to eat healthy (when there’s food to do so). I try to eat even when I don’t want to, and that’s often these days. I actually prefer fruits and veggies. I finally got myself in a city-based physical therapy program, and I’m still in psychotherapy. I take my vitamin B12, my Caltrate, my psych shit and my fish oils. I rarely drink sodas. I try to eat as little processed food as I can. I’m not even taking painkillers right now! And I promised I wouldn’t get rid of myself but then you go and whack me repeatedly from behind? What in the fuckin’ fuck?

I thought we were cool man. It’s ok though. Really. I won’t resent you. And you don’t have to answer the first question, but at least tell me if you’re ridding yourself of me. If you are, do it quick. I’m not up for another slow death and resurrection. Tell Zeus to get his lightning bolt ready or something. I know it’s partly, ok mostly, my own creation. But come on! And I know you also know that I’m in pain here and I can try and negate it all I want but it just keeps tagging along. I thought I’d remind you in case you forgot.

My arm? No, that’s actually not hurting now. The recasting was done a lot better this week. Nice fella, the casting tech/nurse/whatchumacallem. And the face is slowly waking up, enough for a half-assed smirk. But this damn eye… I just… ugh. I’m seeing blurry here.

God/Universe, I do want to thank you for all of the patience you granted me with my brother this week. I’d like more of that. I had stocked up on a lot of it during the holidazzzee but I feel like I may run out soon. I have to admit though, we did a hell of great job on that video. I’m not too happy about the sound quality of the voice over in that last sequence, but fuck it. Everyone loved it! And we didn’t even have time to really polish it with finishing touches–no color correction or anything. We’re geniuses! Well, not really but you spotted me with some ideas on that one. You really did. Too bad I don’t get to see him often, and when I do, he usually just gets a hold of me to get something like get help with editing a video he desperately needs to turn in to angry clients. But I can to do the same, so no blame there. The important thing is we got it in and they were happy (better be too with all that work we put in). That’s the thing about my bro and I. When it comes to creating shit, our minds sync up. Too bad we both have that perfectionist tendency and he’s got the OCD thing going. Regardless, Universe/God, I thank you for that.

There are just a few things I wanna request though. I know you saw it coming. So if my brother asks for another editing favor, can you get him to pay me next time (granted there will be a next time)? I know, but I already asked him. I just thought maybe you’d remind him every so often when I’m not around. I don’t like doing too many reminders. It’s cool this time. I’m glad I can help. It made me feel less useless actually. But next time, just a little at least? You know my desperation.

Also, if you send me work, please have them pay too. No more freebees. Fuck that I can’t get a Social Security! Fuck feeling helpless! No more. I will work, regardless of what “the law” says! The fridge is empty and my momma, eh, I’ll write you another letter about her later. It’s not really so bad, I mean, I just need to stay busy so as not to be tempted to burrow back under the covers and stare at the faceless ceiling all day. But how? I couldn’t even add twenty and forty-eight the other day. I swear I’ll do my part about the work though. In fact, I’m watching a tutorial on how to interview a client. See! I’m watching as I type this request with one hand, well I’m not getting much our of it but… I’m going to watch it again… I’m prepping up for motivation and some concentration.

I just… I’m nervous about making this website for my dad (another free job), and I’m anxious about making it at all in life. I mean what the hell? What I even mean by that? Am I still alive? I don’t feel it. Aside from the innermost ache, it’s all still a bit numb, most days. There’s a tingle of life, yes, a little. But not today, not most of these days. You know how fuckin’ shitty this immigration situation can be. Can you grant me something for that? Anything? I don’t want to have to marry L. I don’t. This week, I saw these cool pro-bono-ish lawyers at the university and they gave me a similar prognosis as all other immigration lawyers do. So I really would hope for more encouragement if I weren’t already so vapid.

God/Universe, one more thing, can you tell the Sun to stop calling in sick? It’s getting really heavy and burdensome in this in this stifled city. No, the air is fine, more than fine, but it isn’t enough. And can you tell Karma (if it really is her) that I’ve had enough of her this month? I think she’s overstayed her visit for the year and has given me more shit than I’d like right now. I just don’t think she believes me when I say I’m sorry for any harm I’ve done on this earth and to any living being in this lifetime or any past lives–if, indeed, there were past lives.

And I promise, I won’t write you anymore sappy letters. Ok maybe I will, just not this sappy. I also promise to keep this blog free of too many lengthy or cheeky posts. Just, please help me out here. At least enough for me to focus on this tutorial? (Heehee I accidentally typed “titsoral”. Why do I want to giggle like Peter Griffin? Am I really that childish?)

Anyway, I don’t call on you much, if at all. And I don’t really think I’m useless per say–even with this temporary one-handedness I have going here–but at least, with your help, I can convince myself that I’m not.

I realize acceptance is best. Can you help me with that too? Pleeease.

Love,

PAZ

p.s. I once heard that this little earth I’m on is just another cell in your body. But I happen to know it’s just another subatomic particle full of energy, pirouetting in your endless anatomy. So I’ll understand if you don’t reply.

p.p.s. Kisses.