March 23, 2013
… A mental Monkey Man.
Chances are that what I don’t get blogged today, I won’t blog tomorrow, so here I go before another day passes.
Yesterday was the “anniversary” of the day I got the call that Monkey Man was found dead. I don’t even know if I should call it “anniversary”. Something about the connotation of that is upsetting me. So anyway, I’ll just say, a year ago yesterday, I got the news that Monkey Man was no longer with us.
Those of you that followed me back then know the story. I will not repeat it, nor do I want to. Yesterday, I spent most of the therapy session talking about it. And slowly but surely I realize that I am moving past this. The pain will never be completely gone, but I am ok with that now. I am working at managing my life and actually FEEL ALIVE today.
Brunet Young and I discussed so much and I felt relieved. I told her how sometimes I feel “happy” that he’s gone and feel like a “bad” person for that. We later found that maybe “happy” wasn’t the right word. No, not at all.
I cried in front of her for the first time. There are just too many emotions to describe or begin to recognize when someone you love dies this way–by their own hands. And there is A LOT OF ANGER! I for one have dealt with anger management problems all of my life (common in peopole with BPD). She suggested maybe, in a way, I’m relieved, definitely not “happy” about it. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m, a “bad” person.
Why else would so many of the depressing blog posts on here be about him?
One thing I did this week was draw this portrait in memory him. A.F., his stepsister gave me this picture she took of us sometime in 2006-2007. It was what she calls the “happy summer”. Strangely enough, I was very depressed then, but Monkey Man was glowing and everyone said it was on account of me being there.
The relationship I had with him was so intense, so wonderful, so terrifying, so loving yet so abusive at times. I learned a lot from that relationship.
But I did love him and I know he loved me.
Correction, I do love him. I know he’d be proud of how well things are going for me these days. I found a text he had sent me on my phone about two months ago, it reads:
“It’s ok my love. U r one of the most powerful people i know. I wish i had the strength u have”
Art brings me comfort.
February 6, 2013
I was upset, very upset. It was 6:15 and I saw the email: “Please answer me. I drove 110 miles to come see you” it read.
I thought he’d been held up by a traffic jam, but it turns out he’d been outside my house–around the corner somewhere waiting for me for over half an hour. There was miscommunication. I told him not to knock if both cars were still in the driveway. Well, it turns out I’d forgotten my bro’s beat-up-and-broken-down BMW is in our driveway. So GB thought it best not to knock. His phone broke so he emailed me from his laptop. How was I supposed to know? I felt terrible.
I was waiting for him to come by so we could fuck. I know, that sounds crude and vulgar but it is what it is. I don’t fuck a lot and I haven’t even mentioned GB ’cause I didn’t even know he existed before my hiatus from bloggieland. But that’s beside the point. I went out to see if he was out there then I realized the message had been sent at 5:34. I replied with various emails on my phone and he said he’d headed back at 6:00. Fuck! I felt a surge of anger, towards myself. Why wasn’t I clear about it. White car, blue van, blah blah. I miscommunication.
I figured since I was outside with the dogs I’d get the mail–use my DBT skills and whatnot. Then it all came rushing in. I started choking, the tears fell and the sobs ran. My frustration had built up, but it wasn’t just that, it was today. Today is the day. Specifically.
One year ago today, I hung out with Monkey Man for the last time. We watched the Superbowl with his friends, ate brisket (first time I ate red meat after years), we cuddled, I played a prank on his friend and broke my arm; said friend’s girlfriend made tea for us while I took one of Monkey Man’s painkillers and smoked a few puffs of his weed. The night didn’t end well but it was beautiful. It really was. It was just chill. Simple. Nice. It had been a long time since I’d had a relatively peaceful evening hanging out with him, so this night stood out and little did I know I’d be the last night I’d have with him. I thought “yes, he’s getting better”. And my fears of getting a call, that call you get when an addict finally does it–all of them dispelled that night.
But I’m reminded of a Peaches song, “Fuck the pain away”. That’s what I wanted to do today. It’s just that… I wanted to curl up in someone for just one moment. Instead, I crossed the street, key in hand, and noticed a dead squirrel. I looked at it, took a picture with my phone, and for an instant I felt ok, not because of the poor squirrel’s fat but the sense of peace its little head held. It almost looked like it was dreaming.
I thought, maybe that’s what Monkey Man felt before he passed? I hope…
addendum: A cat has been nibbling at it since then. C’est la vie.
August 29, 2012
August 3, 2012
I messaged A.F., Monkey Man’s step-sister, on Facebook yesterday. We’d been having a nice little chat back and forth. And I thought of what my new therapist Brunet Young said–about preparing to call Monkey Man’s step-mom who hadn’t called me back like she’d promised.
Well, I went ahead and asked A.F. on the last email if she’d heard anything about the toxicology reports. This was her reply:
Evidently cocaine and codeine don’t mix. Drugs are bad mmmkay? I guess he woulda stuck around longer if he wouldn’t of been so hard on his beautiful little body. Damnit.
I need a hug and kiss, thank you!
Well, I got the answer I wanted. Damn it Monkey Man, I thought you’d quit that shit! Liar!
Ooooh, ok. ok. ok. Today is one of my swim days.
Ooooh there goes the trembling and the tears.
I need a nap.
July 30, 2012
As I mentioned in the previous post, I started therapy again three weeks ago. I’m seeing her on Wednesdays. This Wednesday will be my fourth session.
The second session I had with Brunet Young was just as productive as the first, but the third surprised me. Did I actually say all that? Yes, yes you did P. At ‘a girl!
It’s a good thing when you know what you’re getting yourself into when starting therapy. The same could not be said when I first went to see a counselor after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. I had no idea what to expect then; I even walked out, or rolled out, of a therapist’s office in frustration in 2009. But this time… I have goals this time!
I came into therapy just as desperate, but more ready than ever. I know my borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I’m more sure of the bipolar tendencies if the psychiatrist is right, and I’ve learned some basic dialectical behavioral skills training from Ex-Young Therapist as well as core training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
I’m barely driving out of hell, but I have a tank full of gas, me thinks. That’s hope for ya.
On the second session, much like the first, we went over major areas of my life that need working on. I asked Brunet Young if she could tell me what it was she remembered about my history from the consultation team so I could fill in the rest as best I could.
I told her things like, “the overdose from two months ago was not my first, but definitely the worst” and “I have a history of abuse, though my views on it change. I mean, you have to understand our culture is different. But, it’s a fine line no?” I told her about my mother’s past suicidal tendencies, her upbringing, her sister’s (my aunt’s) suicide and so on. She already knew about my immigration situation, my medical problems, my tendency toward isolation, and my body image issues, so I didn’t have to go into that with her.
We talked a lot about how Monkey Man’s recent and sudden death has affected me, how I was drugged up with him much of the time we were together (off and on), but how I always tried to get him to stop drinking. We discussed ways in which I can work up my courage to call his step-mom and/or dad to ask about the toxicology report results again.
On and on we went. I couldn’t believe myself.
Towards the end of the session, she did something I was so thankful for. She asked me to write a list of issues I thought I hadn’t had a chance to go over with Ex-Young Therapist.
My dad had taken me that second day and, on the way out, he said something that bothered me a little.
“She’s not good like the Ex-Young Therapist is she?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, she didn’t say hi to me as kindly as the other one.”
After the initial frustration this remark induced, a light bulb lit up in my head! Aha! I have to discuss this with Brunet Young, not this in particular, but my dad. I have to discuss how I think some of my black and white thinking patterns about myself lead back to his black and white thinking. I didn’t get into depth discussing my dad much with Ex-Young Therapist. I did a little, but more toward the end, or just when issues arose. In fact, because we focused so much on me learning DBT skills, the therapy process and focus remained on present problems and not past, “unresolved” problems.
Last Wednesday, I decided to take the bus for our third session. It was better for all of us. My dad didn’t have gas money and I wanted the liberty of no off-handed comments.
It was an hour and a half bus ride; I have to take two buses and the MetroRail downtown but that’s a hell of a lot better than waiting on ole MetroLift’s shifty ass.
I arrived on time and with my homework assignment completed.
Here is my list of “past problems” I didn’t get to discuss with Ex-Young Therapist. And I added a bonus for Brunet Young. I added some therapy goals–totally my idea.
I’m on a roll. I’m telling you. Here’s what I wrote down for her:
Goals for Therapy
*Manage Panic attacks and chronic pain
*Reduce suicidal and self-injurious impulses/actions/urges and manage the thoughts better. (No more overdosing!)
*Increase support network
-> continue rebuilding relationship with brother
-> get into that DBT group at BT (keep calling! don’t desist!)
-> get involved again in community organizing/activist orgs.
* Interpersonal effectiveness -> review
* Distress tolerance -> review and continue practice!
* Develope a more consistent daily ruitine to include: writing/blogging, sketching, watching Lynda.com tutorials, planing, swimming/yoga, playing ukulele again, and getting a job after filing the immigration papers!
-> remember to do one thing at a time
-> break down into smaller chunks
-> plan ways to reduce stressful situations, not increase or worsen them
* Continue healthy eating / no binging
* Work on self-validation
* Work on healthier ways to deal with complicated grief
-> Monkey Man L’s death and guilt about death
-> hearing loss
* Ask about/look into other methods such as IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Schema Mode therapies.
* Mother’s verbal and physical abuse (I really hate the way I wrote this one because, honestly, I feel closer to my mother than my father and I love them both very much, even when they piss me off. And my mom’s changed for the better after getting help herself.)
* Dad’s continued invalidation and overbearing tendencies (not to mention the fact that I still have to depend on him financially)
* Medical Trauma (e.g. still need to deal with jaw incident and set up a date for surgery, continued nerve pain, decreased bone density, past accidents that led to ER, prolonged stays at hospital during childhood; loads of surgeries)
* Sexuality and validation issues (e.g. what happened with Dusty and Emily)
*Repetetive compulsion with alcohol and drugs (mainly alcohol and self-harm)
* Maladaptive core beliefs (e.g. I am not a “good” person, I’m “a burden,” etc.)
Yep, so that’s what I have so far. We went over this list I wrote, which she said was very good. I think it’s a good starting point too. And since I was able to write it out, it helped when she asked to explain what I meant by “sexuality and validation issues”. That’s when I brought up Sir Dusty and a lot of other things I may or may not mention here. Man, it was hard work!
Those of you that have been with me here on WordPress since the birth of this blog are already familiar with the rare connective tissue disorder I was born with: Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) aka Brittle Bone Disease.
As I started writing this blog, I realized I wanted to explore the relationship between chronic illness and mental health. I wanted to share how the two have blended in my own experience. To an extent, I’ve done that, though not as much as I’d like. And when I found out about the BPD diagnosis, I began to look deeper at how my medical condition has been a factor in my development of “BPD symptomatology”.
The first therapist I went to see in 2008 was more of a general counselor at the university. Her specialties were not relevant to my mental problems. But it was because of her that I was able to accept the fact that I’ve dealt with a lot of traumatic experiences.
“Your mother has been abusive to you P,” she said quietly, “and on top of that, you’ve had to deal with a lot of medical trauma. Give yourself some credit! You deserve it. Don’t you think?”
I’ve always refused the thought of being a “trauma survivor”. In The Buddha and the Borderline, Kiera Van Gelder says something I completely connect to: “And while I still resist seeing myself as a victim of trauma, it’s becoming clear that I have some lingering unresolved issues…”
Lingering and unresolved. Don’t we all have some of the lingering and unresolved?
I think about what I deal with on a day-to-day basis–the triggers, the anxiety, the high-voltage electric current of emotions and suicidal ideations. I start to connect things. For example, I’m easily triggered and flinch with certain things that remind me of past fractures. If my brother does a sharp turn while pushing me in my wheelchair, my heart leaps, then stops. And I instantly get a chill up my spine. When I protest, he reassures me by saying, “Don’t worry. I got this shit Shorty. How many years have I pushed you?” I know he won’t drop me or let me fall, but my reactions are like clock-work despite my best efforts. I’m beginning to think I may have a form of complex post traumatic stress (C-PTSD), something very common with those who also have BPD (borderline personality disorder).
I think of these last seven months.
When February hit, I was already suicidal again. But then I came down with Bell’s Palsy. And then I broke my T-Rex arm less than a week after playing a prank over at Monkey Man’s apartment. All hell went loose in my head after that. I mean, the Pretty Little Demons had their way with me, leaving a wreckage in my head. I’m glad and lucky to have survived this last “episode” thus far. And though it feels like it’s lessening, it’s far from over. I’m not out of hell yet; I’m just in the suburbs now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to drive farther out of it when I start therapy Thursday (yeah, we rescheduled yet again).
It hit me hard, the fracture. Those first two months after the fracture coupled with Monkey Man L’s death were too much. And it hit me not so much because of the physical pain. I deal with chronic pain; it fucks with your life, but it is what it is. And what’s funny is I can talk about that pain with people but I can’t talk about the mental/emotional pain even with those closest to me like my brother.
So what hit me most about the recent fracture was the inability to do certain things on my own, things I’ve grown accustomed to doing. I’m pretty independent and mobile despite the physical limitations, so not being able to do things as simple as getting into the shower on my own ( it was hell waiting on my mom to help me wrap my cast in a bag and carry me in everyday), plunged me to the bottom quicker. I hadn’t broken a limb since I was sixteen, so even though I’ve fractured dozens upon dozens of bones, it all seemed new.
It’s amazing how quickly we forget the intensity of the pain once it’s gone just as we forget we ever experienced joy when in the midst of deep depression. I also find it amazing how a new life seems to emerge out of these deep dark cracks in our lives. Mine has many, like the Grand Canyon. I don’t know what life I’m in at the moment. Life number ten or eleven?
Anyway, as I mentioned in Whiskers and Lashes, I’ve had a ton of cartooning ideas milling around my head but the Mouse hasn’t been able to catch one, even with my rebirth and the PLDs quieting down some.
One of the ideas I have is a little comic strip explaining OI, like “OI 101: Adventures of Mr. Healthy Bone and Mr. Brittle OI Bone” or something silly like that. Then I started thinking about the mad anxiety I’ve been having lately–the damned morning panic attacks that have been waking me.
I’ve struggled with loads of anxiety since I was a child; it’s only now I’m beginning to realize it. Chronic indecision is often reflective of high anxiety levels. When I was fitted to get my first electric wheelchair (see picture), I remember sitting in a physical therapy room with a giant binder full of samples and a tall man (all men are tall to a tiny girl) flipping through sheet after sheet of fabric colors. I got dizzy looking at what was to me a monolithic block of color. I got physically ill from looking through. I wanted to cry because the choices overwhelmed me as they do now. Would I make the right choice? Who was I do decide? Pink is always for girls, why? No, I like the blues! Why do they keep asking about the pink?
“Can’t I just have all of the colors!?” I finally yelled. They had a rainbow-colored option for the belt which the man kindly suggested!
But I digress.
For the last few weeks, maybe a month or so, the deep depression–the core of it–seems to have lifted, mostly. It has lifted to the extent that I feel as though I’m emerging from that hell, shedding a layer of skin and climbing back up from the grave of that ninth life. But with this emergence something else has come up–increased awareness of the jaw pain.
Funny enough now that the emotional pain isn’t at a constant crisis level, I feel the physical pain coming back. It could also be the anxiety that’s tightening the muscles on my face and causing the pain to return. (My arm still hurts but that’s not as disturbing as the jaw pain.)
Ugh, the fractured jaw and nerve damage incident! Talk about fuckin’ trauma. They jacked up my jaw! I’ll have to write out that story some other time.
Several days ago, I ran into a comment on one of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Facebook groups.
“Any of you have horror stories from the past, from the hospital, from doctors and nurses and such?” the group’s creator asked.
Replies came in almost immediately. I replied that I’d waken up during the end of a surgery in my femur, among other things. It’s a surreal experience being a twelve-year-old, waking up naked (with the exception of a tiny towel over the crotch), surrounded by half a dozen doctors and nurses covered in blood and tubes and beeping machines closing in above your head.
I sat there thinking, Horror stories? Hell’s yeah I got them. I got Post Traumatic Stress up my ass! (Literally, my bum’s been messed with.)
A mom in that Facebook group has a little eight year-old girl with type II OI (I have type III). This lady is on there chatting away as much as I’m here in WordPress. She’s constantly talking about her little one. The girl has broken over 500 bones! Jeezus! I think I just barely passed the 100 mark. But 500? I can’t imagine, or rather, I don’t want to. I wonder how many of us have PTSD from just the fractures alone! Monkey Man L was having his leg turned for an X-Ray when, BAM, they SNAPPED it in two. It was already broken and they just added another break! All more reasons for me to think of this PTSD and BPD correlation.
So, on Sunday, I started researching: “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Osteogenesis Imperfecta” and “Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder”. I found some interesting things, but more on that later. 🙂
I have a bisphosphonate infusion to look forward to tomorrow. It’ll be the second time I get one. Wish me luck!
Much Love from the Mouse
Oh and here’s some info on bisphosphonate therapy for osteogenesis imperfecta.
July 9, 2012
I feel like no matter what I do, I’m going to slip into an early grave. I’ve got my right foot in the coffin and my left foot in the pool. I’m no longer at a “kill yourself” mentality most days but rather a, “haha, you’re going to die soon even if you don’t kill yourself so best enjoy this fuckin’ ride” mentality.
That’s an improvement right?
Look at me Monkey Man. I’m gonna die young like you!
I’m laughing like the Joker and whimpering with all the oxygen I have left.
I hope it ends quick, but clearly it hasn’t been. I can’t keep waking up like this–nauseated, shaky, dizzy, with a croaking frog lodged in my throat, with a well of tears backed up behind my eyes, with my stomach churning, my chest palpitating, my toes and fingers tingling and my lungs so out of breath! People with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) tend to have heart and lung problems but I know this is due to anxiety, not my OI.
Is this a panic attack?
Am I getting one every morning?
Is it the medications?
What the fuck man!?
I’ll admit, I took two painkillers and an Ambien last night because the jaw pain has gotten bad again. I don’t know why it’s gotten bad again but it has. I know I have to have the metal plate removed. I should just get it over with, but I’m afraid. The surgery I mean… because of how they fucked it up last time. Anyway, I only have three painkillers left.
I just don’t know what to do. Hang on I suppose. Hang on tight. Hang on clawing if I have to.
But I feel like tearing at my skin in hopes that it will stop.
waking up like this.
With heavens help, I’ll carry these Pretty Little Demons well.
May 22, 2012
*minor trigger warning. mention of the death of sometimes-lover/mostly best friend aka Monkey Man L, other general depressive shit and brief mention of self-harm*
Dear Dotty’s Words of Wisdom: Grieving for the Mentals Can Be Worse
Dear Dotty was right. There’s something I knew but hadn’t been giving much attention to, not enough attention to at least. A trigger. A trigger beyond triggers, a stressor beyond stressors has set all of me bouncing more and more off the walls, down the corridor, down he street, like a rubber ball down a seemingly endless cobbled stone road. It’s the loss of Monkey Man L.
Yes Dear Dotty, thank you dear. Much of what I’m going through is grief. But how much of it adds to the mental mix dear lovely lady? That’s what I wanna know.
Today marks the second month of his death. JUST TWO MONTHS AGO! ONLY two months ago! Actually, we don’t even know if he died that day or two days before. It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. All I know is that on March 22, I got the horrible call. What is up with people dying at twenty-seven? Fuck, I’m about to be twenty-seven.
Sigh. I don’t even know if he died by his own hands or if his body just gave out from the combination of his past self-abuses and his present condition as well as the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). His spine was compressing his chest, he’d become a chain smoker, etc.
All I know is that I’d seen him a week before. And a few days after, when I saw the Rapper K, I talked to him on the phone. And that was the last conversation we had. He didn’t pick up my other calls that weekend. I only got a measly text message in reply, saying, “I just want to be left alone right now sweety”. So that’s what I did. I left him alone. And that was the last time I talked to him. The day I’d seen him that week before, he looked terrible.
In the post I wrote about him after the funeral, I mentioned doing my best not to let myself fall into guilt. Well, sometimes that guilt tries to come up and take over.
He was found in his apartment sitting on the couch as if he were watching T.V. That’s all I know. And I keep thinking I could’ve been there; I SHOULD’VE been there. And I know this has me bouncing more that I would have been.
Then there’s the added factor that I was ALREADY falling, spiraling into a deep depression–I don’t even like using that word, “depression”–but that’s what we’ll call it and that’s how I was before his death. Depressed. And now what?
February was hell, then March came with the news. “He’s gone”.
This. THIS is one reason why I’ve been so much more mental than my usual mental. That, and in terms of this week, it could be the hormones added to the mix. I think this week I’m having the PMSS. That extra S was put there on purpose. It’s what I call the Premenstrual Suicidal Syndrome. It’s when my suicidals get more intense just before the cycle. I know the APA has a name for it, it’s premenstrual dysphoric disorder but fuck their labels and their making everything a disorder.
I’m just bouncing too much. Off the charts…
Looking back on that trigger my brother’s girlfriend set off when she innocently mentioned Vicodin, I realize it was actually a double trigger, no a triple trigger. One, it reminded me of what I’d done to myself the Sunday before last–or was it Monday?–anyhow, it reminded me of the incident. Two, it reminded me of my own problems with painkillers in the past. Three, it reminded me of Monkey Man L and his addiction. And that, THAT was the ultimate trigger because I was fucked for the rest of the night (it wasn’t the good fucked, nope).
No one prepares you for what you’ll feel when you loose someone you cared for so much. No one. We were co-dependent. We had an intense, tumultuous relationship. No one prepares you for grief just like no one prepares you for the feeling you’ll get when you become a parent. Sure there are books out there on parenting and on grief (what a lovely combo no?) but they don’t actually TEACH you how to FEEL about being a parent or how to FEEL about a LOVED ONE when that loved one is no longer there to say anything back.
This was not my idea of “(mis)adventures of a mentally unstable” mouse. When I started this blog, I had meant to write about my past misadventures not my present ones. But life has a funny way of throwing more at you. They say things come in threes and they did. First, my face and the Bell’s Palsy; then, my arm, and lastly, my L.
Threes. One. Two. THREE. I wonder if there’s some sort of cosmic thing in that or if we’re just trying to make sense of what seems so incomprehensible.
Then after Dear Dotty reminded me, I began to think about mental illness and grief–there’s another set of words I don’t like to use “mental illness”. I think my dislike for the term has something to do with my Christian Science upbringing, though I suspect it’s much more complex than that.
But is it really much more difficult for a mental? This grief thing. I mean, can it send an already distraught person over the edge? Of course it can! If it can send a non-mental over the edge, then fuck… Then again, I think what makes the most difference in grief is the nature of the loss. I had such a turbulent relationship with him and I know this will make my grief more complicated. Also, the the fact that he died so tragically at such a young age complicates the grieving process further. The nature of this grief is inherently complicated.
After the incident last week or the week before last or god knows when (I forget), I talked to the New Male Therapist-Who-Is-Really-a-She and told her what had happened, the freaky dream about him, the thoughts, the pills, more or less descriptively than here. I find it easier to write feelings out than to talk about them. My writing is stronger than my verbal communication. Maybe that’s what makes me a “poet”, ha, then again, maybe that’s just what makes me become more mental. Anyway, I told her, strangely enough, that the week before last, I’d began obssessing about my hearing loss again–something I hadn’t done in months.
“Could it be I’m combining my griefs?” I asked her.
“Yeah, possibly,” she replied.
Stages of Grief
According to the Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages to grief . They are:
- Denial (a funny one that denial)
- Anger (my best friend who’s no good for me… Actually, that’s not entirely true. In small doses, anger is motivating. Anger is part of our innate autonomic response to danger. It tells us a lot about our experience.)
- Depression (oh look another friend)
- Acceptance (when? six months from now? a year? years? a lifetime?)
I was there crying, “Dear god, I’ll take his place. No, wait, I’ll take the six fractures he had after that accident last year. I’ll take more. Fuck, fractures are nothing, I’ll take as many as it takes. Just bring him back!”
These stages aren’t quite lined out in chronological order. I mean, mainly they are, but you can experience them simultenously or even switch from one to another and then back again. I found I’ve just gone all over the place. It’s my style of doing things.
But I’m too lazy to go all out and write about these stages. Besides, this post is getting long and I’m opting for non-monumentally long posts at the moment.
So here’s a great little post by Sailor Carrie titled “The Five Stages of Grief”.
Emotional Instability, Repression and Acceptance in the “Borderline” Mind
Another dear fellow blogger’s recent comment brought something else to mind. Well, two things: 1. I have no close friends or FEEL like I have no close friends and, 2. I don’t know how to open up to people which is why I feel like I don’t have close friends.
Isn’t it funny that I find it easier to run a knife down my thigh than to tell my dad “I’m upset”? Or that I find it easier to pop a dozen pills than to call a friend and say, “I need someone to talk to”?
Yeah, quite funny P.
The support network we mentals generally need but often neglect or just plain don’t have, that’s what came to mind. We often lack support strategies or non-destructive exit-strategies, coping mechanisms, distress tolerance, or call it what you will.
If I didn’t have maladaptive coping mechanisms and maladaptive friendship patterns, I wouldn’t have been in therapy in the first place. That’s what the therapist was for–for DBT, CBT and retraining on how I can reach out to people more effectively.
In responce to said fellow blogger’s comment, I said, ” I have trouble with communication”. I was a communications major; another funny thing P. But that’s what’s at the core here. Fellow blogger suggested friends, which is great, but I have trouble with friends. Aren’t people too busy to talk to nowadays anyway?
Getting myself to actually TALK to friends was something I was working out in therapy before Young Therapist had to leave. See, I said in my comment, “a ‘healthy’ coping mechanism someone without a dysfunction might have is to run to a friend in time of deep distress. I do the opposite. I run into a hole and throw on a cover and don’t let anyone in, which only makes it worse in the end. Despite knowing this, I find it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to just reach out and say ‘I’m desperate…'”
A therapist can do something a friend can’t but a friend can do something a therapist can never do–be a fountain of mutual support. That is, if you have a good friend and therapist to begin with.
Why do I have such a terrible difficulty reaching out to people? Why can’t I express negative emotions besides anger?
Here I am, deeply in need, needing to confide in a friend all the while feeling completely unable to. Sadly, I can’t think of but one friend I’m comfortable talking about this “suicidal” stuff with and she’s pretty mental, so I can only let her have so much. She’s the BPD friend I mentioned in earlier posts, the one who I keep at close distance. Besides her, there was L and well, fuck, he’s gone! ha. He’s the reason I started this post.
Not being able to talk to people about my emotions, or just not reaching out and having enough social interaction to begin with is what the Young Therapist was trying to get me through; it’s what we were working on, finding solutions for. Sure, I can talk to people at parties or in social situations. I seem “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) but really, I’m not. I’m constantly thinking, “Oh my god, I wanna get out of here, I wanna get out of here,” and if I’m not thinking that, I’m thinking something else that’s pretty similar to that.
I just can’t think of a friend I can confide in and that just made me very sad to think about, realizing how lonely I’ve let myself become. I’m glad I live with my parents and little Luna is the best, but I’m becoming uh oh, here it goes, “empty”?
B., a friend from college came by last week. I wasn’t able to make it to his graduation so he stopped by. How nice of him, right? And I wasn’t able to tell him about L because he came by with his mother who just came in from AUSTRALIA(!) and well, I was being a good host. I was meeting his mother for the first time so telling him was out of the question.
Eloise, who lives in Florida, was the only person I’d told but well, she lives in Florida. She called me last week and I haven’t been able to muster the courage to call her back. Yes, it actually takes some courage from me to call people! Even the close friends like Eloise (oh wait, I do have a close friend)! Because calling people gives me anxiety!
Maribel also knows. I told her only because she’d called me to tell me her mom died and she needed someone to talk to. Funny, I can be the support but not reach out and ask for it.
It would be nice if L and I had mutual friends because then I’d be able to call them up and say, “Hey man, yeah, you miss him too?” But we didn’t have any mutual friends. Not one.
Only A.F., his stepsister, but she lives all the way up in New York City and even so, she hasn’t called me again after I called her and we had our last talk a month ago. She’s probably really busy with her little three-year-old and the baby.
I can’t even talk to my brother about most of this. I mean, sure my brother’s been kinder to me. He’s a sweetheart. But we are just beginning to rebuild the bridge I’d burned between us last year. See, six months ago, my brother and I were not in speaking terms.
“I’m not talking to your fuckin’ crazy ass again! Don’t contact me, just don’t!” he’d said.
Yeah. I’d pushed him away again.
I know telling him some of this might even make our rekindling stronger, but then I get discouraged. Every time I try to bring up the BPD diagnosis, he seems a bit aloof like he’s not really listening (of course, that could just be my misinterpretation). I haven’t even been able to muster the guts to show him that Five Faces of Borderline video I posted, which I think he’d find funny. I just, ugggh. I mean, I listened to him rant about his OCD. Why is it so difficult for me to simply do this?
I started looking up information about BPD and the inability to express certain emotions. I found these really good, really simple and straightforward links:
How Accepting Emotions Can Improve Your Emotional Health (from about.com)
Post Traumatic Stress, BPD and Suppressing Emotions (from about.com)
A common string I’ve found connecting a lot of this BPD literature is the notion of invalidation. Invalidating environments is a hallmark for BPD.
See, I always assumed invalidation equated to neglect. But “I WAS NEVER NEGLECTED” I’d say to myself. Yet I realize invalidation can come in so many flavors. For L, it WAS CLASSICAL neglect. His mother would get high and leave him on the toilet for hours. She’d forget to feed him. Yeah. My parents ALWAYS made sure to feed me. When my mother couldn’t, my grandmother would. Even at our hardest times, when my dad was getting bread baskets from a local church, I WAS ALWAYS fed. Well fed!
So what flavors did my invalidation come in then? I wonder. My parents never outright said, “Don’t express yourself P! Don’t talk about your emotions P! We don’t wanna hear you crying P! None of that in this house P.” No, not at all.
Then I begin to think, of course! My invalidation is definitely there. I can see it. I can see it in my Christian Science years. I can see it in my mom running away when I screamed in agony in the hospital beds. I can see it before then. I can see it in a very subtle way. Invalidation for me was not overt.
I’ll give you an example. By the time I became a toddler, I stopped crying when I’d break a bone. I mean shit, after you’ve had your fiftieth fracture well before your fifth birthday, you just don’t cry about that shit anymore–unless it’s a femur, because femur fractures FUCKIN HURT LIKE HELL!
So my parents interpreted my not crying about fractures as: “This here is a brave one! Much braver than her wimpy brother! She doesn’t cry about ANYTHING.”
And I interpreted that as: “I have to be the brave one. Be BRAVE P! BEING BRAVE IS ALL YOU CAN BE. Braver than my cry-baby hermanito! I cannot let people discover that I DO cry. I cannot let people see me cry or else they’ll see I’m a faker! And no one likes a faker! I’m a mean challenger!” I think that’s more or less how I started to develop my calloused sense of self.
Then there was my mom’s bullying. “And blah blah blah smack, blah blah, BLAH BLAH BLAH, smack smack SMACK, SMAAAACK.” You just can’t let a bully see you cry. That would only give them power over you and you wouldn’t want that.
Just yesterday my dad asked me, “Have you been crying?”
“Yes, but sometimes I cry you know,” I replied trying to be assertive of my discovery.
And he replied with something about him not being able to withstand my crying because it tore him up inside.He didn’t say this in a way to hurt me. He said this as his way of expressing his OWN hurt, sure and his love. It was a bit selfish though. It’s maladaptive but he doesn’t know better. It works for him. He was hurting when he saw my swollen eyes.
I realize that now. He just doesn’t know how or understand how someone like me can twist those words up; how someone like me can distort them so. He doesn’t know how to effectively express his hurt while acknowledging and validating my hurt and my need to let it out.
That’s my flavor of invalidation. The child me, years back, would’ve seen this as, “Oh no! I must NEVER ever let him see me upset again or cry in front of him because it will DESTROY him! TEAR HIM UP INSIDE! And I don’t want to destroy dear daddy. No, I cannot kill my papi.”
I’ve been thinking about texting Warrior D. She’s a friend who also just graduated. Just got her masters in Social Work. She’s someone I’ve been getting kinda close to in the last year or so. Oh yeah, she’s the other person I told. She’s great at listening. Trouble is, I tried to get her to meet up with me after L’s death and she got back to me but didn’t follow through with plans. I understand she was in the middle of her end of semester mayhem but it hurt me to wait, expecting to talk and go for tea and then not. So now I’m hesitant. This is why I feel I do need therapy still. Young Therapist would help me find ways to deal with this situation and call Warrior D. Truth is, I said in my last post that I’ve gotten along all these years before without a therapist. But come to think of it, I JUST BARELY got by.
I might’ve/might end up like L if I would’ve kept getting by the way I was.
addendum: I went swimming yesterday evening at my mom’s friend’s gym and it was awesome! Took pictures of the cold, cold water.