I went to therapy today. We’re back on our regular Thursday schedule. I told my dad I’d take the bus but he said I was so humble about it that he would drive me there. We didn’t argue this time!

My next assignment for therapy is to work on logging down my interactions with my pops so we can debrief the next session. I told her about the nightmares I’ve been having. They pop up every other night. In my dream last night–or this morning rather–I was getting severely beaten. I won’t say by who. Luna heard me wake up screaming and rushed into the room with ears turned back. The fluff ball jumped on me and we cuddled. She’s so good to me.

****

Brunet Young is helping me get into a DBT group that should start in January. She found an outpatient DBT program, but it’s too many hours–it’s outpatient, almost inpatient and I no longer need to be outpatient (funny, when I needed it, I couldn’t get it). So she’s looking for a less intensive program. She’s also seeing if I can get into an animal shelter as a volunteer! It will be yet another support system to implement my therapy.

What else? I pulled a muscle this morning while rushing to the restroom. I think I’ll still go swimming tonight though; Mouse and I haven’t decided. Besides, no broken bones from yesterday evening’s fall is good enough for me.

I admit though, I shaved off my Movember Mousestache. It was getting real fuckin’ itchy. Anyway, here’s what I shot on my way back from therapy.

2012 (c) paz
Houston’s downtown.
Shot from the west-side of 59 with the HTC phone my bro’s girlfriend gave me.

****

For being the fourth largest city in the United States, we don’t have a very impressive downtown. Most of the buildings are scattered about like leaves in clusters, each cluster miles apart from the other. There is the medical center which is a downtown of its own, then there is uptown and midtown. I think if you combine the three, you’d have a hell of a downtown, but otherwise, it’s puny.

But this weather is nice. It was around 50F this morning and now it’s 68F. Beautiful.

****

Personally, Main Street downtown is very pretty since a lot of the buildings there are nineteenth-century and early twentieth century art-deco. Mostly though, there are just plain sixties and seventies post modern blocks with faceless facades. Houston grew with the baby boomers of the ’50s, the development of 1950s inter-state highway system and oil boom. There you go.

Mouse love

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It’s the middle of the night. All is quiet. I’m alright, then SWHOOSH–the fire lights up. I think part of the gasoline was poured earlier today with the hearing test results at the hospital (I had the infusion done too).

I’m now having what can only be described as a hellish night. FUCK YOU PLDs! You may be pretty but you’re fuckin’ mean!

I don’t get how I can turn such a sharp corner from feeling alright to crying in the bathroom, getting myself to be mindful, to refocus on the present moment and not dissociate.

Ok, ok, start your breathing exercises. What does the floor feel like? Step on it. Feeeeeel it. Ok. It’s cool. Say your Serenity Prayer. Go back to bed now.

But then it all starts over again and I’m heaving and moaning like some zebra that just got striked by a lion and though he’s got a mean grip at my throat, I’m not quite dead; I’m gasping, and I think, “Oh god, I have to be up at 7:30 so I can take the bus, 1 and a half hour ride to the university for my very first appointment back in therapy.”

Oh and today at the hospital…

I don’t get it. I don’t get how I can go from being ok to crawling into a fetal position wanting so badly to jab and tare up a vein and watch it all drain out, slowly and peacefully.

Then I see this.

It made me think of Angel Fractured ’cause of the wings.
Taken from http://www.facebook.com/understandingbpd

And more than the words, the bright green and red colors–the complementary color contrast soothes. In DBT this would be, “self sooth” and “distract” skills for distress tolerance and emotional regulation.

And I realize I’m choosing to use my coping skills as best I can (though I did take one of my year-old, spare Clonazepam).

I’m choosing to use my wise mind. My heartbeat is back at a regular pace. Hopefully after writing this I’ll catch some sleep.

6.29.12

July 7, 2012

I feel the rhythm of the waves
below me releasing the core–hollow.
Pain and pleasure are purified.

The pulsating waves. My muscles tighten
and ache. My breath escapes, my toes tingle as
energy is released–rage, euphoria.
I am emptied out. I am renewed.

© paz

********

A little something I had jotted down in my notebook after swimming.

Whiskers and Lashes

June 26, 2012

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I thought about writing another one of my Good Lists today (I swam 14 laps today), but I found the slideshow option instead! So… here’s little Luna, yet again! (I know. I know. But she looks so calm, quiet, assertive and pensive in these.)

I’m also too tired to actually write any of the ideas that keep milling around my head. If I could just catch one and sit down with it!

Hypomania has been knocking on my door even though I put the Pretty Little Demons (PLD’s) to bed on Friday. Many of them slept all night and all through the weekend. Most of them behaved all weekend, which is incredible; it was the most stable weekend I’ve had in… I don’t know, but it was nice!

And today I want to live! hahah. Isn’t that great?!

Fuckin’ A. It’s amazing! Yes, it’s amazing to want to live! It’s amazing to not have urges to kill yourself creep up and tear at you every ten minutes.

Better knock on wood now.

********

Then today, for the third time in the last two weeks, my dad tells me that I am a different person: “You’re still P, but you’re a different person. You’re more understanding, not as angry, more affectionate…” and he went on.

Hmmm? I think that means therapy had been helping, no? The meds? (meh) Oh, the swimming!?

I have many thoughts on this but I’ll leave it there for now.

********

Oh, speaking of therapy, yesterday was my first day back in therapy at the university, but I didn’t even get to have a session.

I had planned  a trip with the MetroLift and the MetroLift mini-bus was late (yet again), only this time it was hella late. I had scheduled my appointment with the New NEW therapist at 7:00 in the evening because she will be at a seminar deal all of this week and, in an effort to get together ASAP, I’d settled for seven on Monday. Well, MetroLift got me there at 7:45 instead. I only had time to meet her and reschedule.

I had gotten myself so pumped, I mean mentally pumped for that session and it all crumbled like burning paper in my hands.

I may write about it if I get the time tomorrow or sometime this week, but I don’t know. I’ll see. One of the reasons I want to is because there are some DBT skills I want to share in regards to that ordeal–basically, I want to share how I kept myself relatively cool, or in other words, how I kept myself from falling completely apart again. It involves little Luna, her little whiskers and swimming.

********

I do have a Borderline Girl Song post I wrote last week but was too embarrassed to publish it. Shit, I better post it now since I mentioned it.

It’s about a fella named Dusty.

*photos are © 2012 PAZ/MMM*

I jump into the cold water and shiver.

“Ay ma’ hoy si que esta fría,” I comb my hair back with both hands and I give my mother my black Speedo swimming cap for her to help me with.

Once it’s on, she gets up and says she’ll be back in thirty minutes. She didn’t want to go to the gym today. We’ll be picking up Isa, Elosie’s sister from her dance program for the weekend and my mom went out drinking for my bro’s birthday party last night. She’s tired. But I want to swim, so she decides to go begrudgingly and I’m grateful. I haven’t had a chance to swim since Wednesday.

I adjust my goggles and plunge in for a first lap.

****

I’ve just finished my forth lap and am at the edge of the lane heaving. A young man gets in the lane next to mine. The first thing I notice is he has a beard and big blue eyes. Hey, he’s kind of cute. I pretend not to notice but it’s too late.

“The water’s cold isn’t it,” he does a little jerk with his head.

“Yeah,” I nod, “it’s pretty cold, especially today. But once you get in all the way, you’re good.”

“Yeah–” he adjusts his goggles and just stands there looking at me with a big ‘ole pretty smile. I mean he has teeth and everything!

“What’s your name?”

“Paz. Yours?”

“K, nice to meet you,” he reaches out to shake my hand. I grab it. He’s shivering.

“Thank you… I mean, nice to… meet you… too,” What the hell did I just say? Thank you? P, you are silly.

“Just dive in real quick,” I tell him. This boy here is stalling. “Going in real’ quick is best way. I’m telling you. It’s so much worse when you nudge yourself in slowly. Come on,” I smile back. I’m still hanging on to the ledge. I’m so small that I can’t even touch the floor on a four-foot deep pool. I’m constantly having to tread water. By now my breath is at a normal pace and I’m noticing how anxious I start to feel. Damn it dude, quit taunting me with your beard and just get in so I can swim. This is ruining my flow! I’m getting nervous having you just smiling at me like that! Shit, I’d already managed to lower my anxiety on the third lap and now it’s back up agai…

“–but I’m a wuss.”

“It’s the only way man. One, two, three! Come on!” I call out. He calls out the numbers after me and finally goes in.

Aaaah. I can relax now.

Damn those beards always get to me.

****

I love beards!

I can’t help it. I love ’em on men. I’m not so sure I’d love ’em on women, but hell, I love ’em so much I may as well love ’em on women!

And this white boy here has a nicely trimmed golden beard!

****

I’m swimming and swimming. I do my fifth lap or is it my sixth? Damn, is that bearded fella still next to my lane? Oh yep, I can feel the water being pushed. He’s there for sure.

I’m swimming and swimming some more. I’m trying to focus on my stroke patterns, my breathing, my heartbeat, how the water feels when I do my pushes and pulls, my body’s level–all mindfulness. All of this is such good exercise on mindfulness practice from dialectical behavioral therapy.

But I’m not always so mindful.

Remember to do the S. curve in your pull like that olympic swimmer did in that YouTube video. Michael Phelps does a gorgeous dolphin kick. I wonder what he’s like in bed. Ian Thorpe’s dolphin kick is also lovely. Wonder how’s he’s in bed too. No, I think I’d go with Michael, then again… Shit, is this my eight or ninth lap? I’m getting worn. No, I gotta keep it up. Is that guy still there? Damn, I love Saturdays ’cause NO ONE’S HERE on Saturdays. But that guy’s still there! Yep, I’m feeling his waves. One, two, three, breath. One, two, three, breath. Remember your S curve on the stroke. Your arms are paddles! Even your crooked T-Rex arm! One, two, three, breath. Ohhh, wall is coming up… One…two…three…four…five…hold breath, turn, flip, push-dolphin kick–paddle, ooout. Uggggh. P, that was a horrible flip! At least you made it though; you made it. Good. Good. You made it. You’ll do better on the next run… Is that dude still there? Quit thinking about the bearded boy dammit! And damn you L! You should be here. You should be swimming! Oh, wall…

I keep swimming until my ninth or tenth lap. I’m not sure by this point. I’m worried that when I stop, the guy will be there and sure enough he is, but so is my mom.

“Mamita! Hey!” I look startled.

She looks down at me and shows me her gloves, “Se me olvido esto. Me faltan tres sets.” She’d come back for her gloves. She takes a few steps back and closes my bag which is dangling on the back of my wheelchair.

“Ok ma, entonces que, veinte minutos mas?”

“Si,” she blows a kiss and I blow one back.

Oh yeah, the dude. Yep, he’s still there. Fuck it, I’m going for another lap.

****

I think I just did my eleventh lap, but I’m not sure since I lost track on my sixth, or was it my eight? It was somewhere around there. I usually loose track on the eighth but today a bearded boy is swimming next to me.

I’m hanging on the ledge. I’m panting out of breath. He arrives shortly after, also panting. I’m panting harder. He’s panting harder and heavier still. I think I let out a little moan, but it may have been a cough. And I can’t help thinking how sexual all this heavy breathing seems.

“Don’t make me look bad P.”

“Oh,” I chuckle, “How? Was I going quick?”

“Yeah,” He nods vigorously, “I was noticing that you even do the flip turns!”

“Oh,” I chuckle again, “Yeah, I’ve just started learning how to do those. I tend to do them lop-sided though, but oh well, I get it done somehow.” I think it’s because of my scoliosis.

“Well, you still make me look bad. I wouldn’t know about the turns.”

“Aren’t you a swimmer?” Stupid question P, of course he’s not a swimmer! Look at him!

“No, I try to be,” he laughs.

“My best friend [Eloise] was a competitive swimmer in college and she taught me a few things. When you do the backstroke like I was doing, you’re supposed to do a front flip and then kick back just before you hit the wall. That way you get more momentum on your dolphin kick. And that’s how you get the best push offs, but I can’t seem to get it right half the time,” I gesture with my hand. “Oh here, I’ll show you.”

What the fuck P? Why are you going to show him? Are you trying to show off?  You’re gonna look stupid! Aarggggh. 

I plunge myself back and start talking about how you’re supposed to measure how many strokes you do before you hit the wall but since there are no flags in this natatorium here to signal the wall, “I have to guesstimate” I gurgle a little as I talk. “So when I guesstimate about right here–maybe five strokes or so–I flip…”

I’m underwater thinking what a fuckin’ idiot I am. He didn’t ask me to show him. What the fuck are you doing P, seriously? Your flips are terrible! If you’re trying to flirt, this is NOT PRETTY!

“Yeah, that was a pretty bad flip,” I say as soon as I resurface. I’m trying not to cough, so I laugh instead. I’m trying not to laugh so I cough. I feel like such a child.

“It’s hard to do.”

“So you been coming here a while?” I think of the word cum. heheh. I also start to have sexual images in my head.

“No, I just started. I used to go the University _______ pool at the Rec Center but it was even colder there since the swimmers train,” he starts leaning on to his side to face me directly.

“Oh, yeah?! I went there! Yeah, it’s funny ’cause I always told myself I’d go swimming but I never did. Then when I graduated, I actually did finally go thinking I’d have alumni privileges and they said–”

“–you have to pay,” he interjects.

“Yeah, exactly, you have to pay. That sucks. So what’d you take at Uni… I mean what’d you major in?”

“Mechanical engineering,” he replies. Yep, he’s got the nerdy look alright. Definitely a nerdy white boy. A cute, nerdy white boy with a beard! “What about you?”

“Media production,” I reply a little too quick.

“Oh yeah?! My friend did that. He’s teaching music now.”

He tells me more about his musician friend and I tell him that I don’t think I ever knew or met his friend. It’s such a big campus, even if we were in the same program, chances are we never met. And then I tell him that I play the piano, that I had done a two-year audio recording/engineering and music program before going to the University ______.

“But I haven’t played the piano in about three years. I’ve picked up the ukulele though, recently. Since I’m so small, it seems perfect for me.”

By now, this boy’s eyes are lighting up. I can tell. But then again, I’m unsure. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I want them to light up. And then one of the critical Pretty Little Demons starts buggin’: What in the hell do you think you’re doing? Monkey Man just died! You’re fuckin’ awful! Good for nothin’! Are you trying to flirt? hahah. You don’t even know how to flirt! Look at you! Look at you! You’re pathetic. You and your flips. Showing off? HA. You and your crooked arm and your crooked smile. Don’t let him see those scars on your arms, yeah, the fresh ones from last Saturday.

But, but… Monkey Man L and I weren’t together for the last six months before his death… We were in another one of our separation phases, sort of… But I wasn’t with Monkey Man at the time, and, why do… I don’t wanna… Ugh… I’m not trying to… I want to bang my head against the wall! I want to die!

“Yeah, you should definitely get back to playing ukulele. That would be awesome!” he smiles again. I want to touch his beard.

“Yeah. I will. I mean, I plan to, well, I’m a go to the hot tub, I’m kinda… as you can see, I’m… freezing now… Um, good luck on your job applications and congrats on graduating. Was really nice meeting you,” I head for the stairs.

When I’m on the stairs stretching or trying to or pretending to, he says “You forgot your goggles.” Great. He crosses over to the lane I was just in and gets them for me.

“Thank you,” I smile. I’m glad I can smile again literally–after the bell’s palsy– and metaphorically after so many tears.”These are getting on my nerves anyway. Water keeps getting in. Thank you.”

“It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” I reply… Only I think I say something else because I was nervous, cold and shivering.

“I’m going to do two more laps and I’ll say by on my way out.”

“Ok, sounds good,” I get up and get on my chair. I stroll myself on over to the hot tub area. I get in. Aaaaah, warmness. About eight or ten minutes later, he calls out and says bye. I want to tell him I’m hard of hearing but I don’t.

“Alright, bye! Nice meeting you! Take care!” I wave.

Well, I kinda rushed that didn’t I?

He waves and walks out. I crouch back in the hot tub and wait for my mom to return.

fuck buddy

This one made me laugh. Terrible. I was thinking about this yesterday after the fam ate dinner for my bro’s birthday and his girlfriend celebrated decided to celebrate at this place called “Drink Houston”. Yeah, I went to the dinner but not to Drink Houston. Avoiding the loud, alcoholic places right now. But I wondered if I missed out on meeting anyone there, ahem, read the caption. Well, I guess I did meet someone today. And I didn’t have to get wasted to act a fool. Nope, not at the gym’s pool!

****

Today has been good thus far. Anxiety’s the same but at least I haven’t had mad-major mood shifts.


********

What?! Did you think that I was done complaining? Oh no, no, no. Please. Those two posts were only my warm-up.

****

So I look down at the book C had slipped on Mansie’s desk for me, “Slavery by Lisa Kristine“. It’s a lovely book–gorgeous photographs. But it’s pretty sad, and by now, my chest is thumping faster, faster than little thumper in Bambi, like a sub-woofer speaker in a low-rider. I mean it is THUMPING! It’s shaking my ribs all up! I had thought I’d maxed out my anxiety at C’s office, but apparently being there in that dark office by myself is only making my smallness more apparent, the darkness just amplifies and the glowing halo behind me seems out of reach.

I look at the window behind me; it’s such a sunny day. I get a text from Mansie, she asks if I can call her after 1:30 instead. At this point, I’m growing increasingly light headed, my breathing gets heavy so I’m sitting there doing my mindfulness and distress tolerance breathing exercise, the only one I’ve manage to master and I go down a little. I figure I better go pee, but the restrooms upstairs aren’t fit for a wheelchair. Sure, I can walk to the stall from my wheelchair like I have before, but I don’t want anything to make me anymore irate. Besides, I need an excuse to get out of sight.

So I’m downstairs in the lobby pacing in my chair after I find a restroom which unfortunately was locked. I’m pacing. I’m breathing in deeply, I’m breathing out slowly. Breathing in deeply, breathing out slowly. 

I’m flushed. I’m heaving. I’m having hot flashes like a woman in menopause; I’m having cold flashes like a bikini model in an ice cold beach; I’m having flashes and shakes in a  hallelujah-I’ve-been-touched-by-Jesus-but-I’m-really-just-having-a-stroke-in-a-pentacostal-church fashion. It’s a good thing the downstairs lobby is a ghost town because if anybody takes one look, they’ll see a disheveled mouse twitching and heaving and mumbling and rolling to and fro in an electric wheelchair.

I call my dad and tell him what just happened. I ask him for advise but he merely says, “I don’t know what to tell you. You know I don’t have an opinion in these things.” That’s his default phrase these days. I know why he says that. It’s basically a defense he’s built in after all of my “explosions” in he past. He doesn’t want to risk saying something that will trigger me, so he says nothing. I tell him I love him and head back upstairs, but not after trying the New Male Therapist and leave a message thanking her for getting me that DBT group. “I still haven’t gotten the letter though… and…” Of course, I sound quivery and like I’m getting ready to cry. So I head back upstairs before I do.

I’m breathing in deeply, I’m breathing out slowly. Breathing in deeply, breathing out slowly. Iiiiiin two-three-four. Ooooout two-three-four. I’m rolling across shiny tile floor, I am pushing the elevator button. Elevator lights up, door opens. I am feeling anxious; I am going in. I am mindful of my surrounding. I am mindful of my actions. I am mindful of my feelings… My feelings are just feelings passing through me like leaves floating across a river… I am…

****

This is where I decide to get on WordPress and Sailor becomes my night in shinning armor, helps me see things a little more balanced, more clearly. Thank you Sailor! See, I tell myself much of what you said Sailor, but it just makes more sense seeing the way you wrote it, having it come from someone else. I guess I need too much reassurance sometimes. But it’s a good thing you said what you said.  And I’ll say it again, you guys, my mental, very mental and only-averagely-mental bloggies are like a first response team.

****

What else? Well, I take D’s picture because by the time I head back up she’s there waiting. I have a good, though rushed and anxious conversation with her and eventually head back downstairs to wait on the MetroLift.

While I’m down there, I call Mansie and we both devise a plan! It’s excellent, or the best we can think of.

Wanna know what it is?

Well… I can’t say!

mehehehe

****

I’m out in the hot sun thirty minutes and damn MetroLift is nowhere to be seen. For a split second I think I see it, but it flashes in front of me like a ghost. Only I’m the one that feels like a ghost, all the people coming in and out of the building and I’m melting into the white light.

****

Fourty minutes later I’m calling the MetroLift dispatch service for the third time and again they’re telling me the cab should be there within ten minutes.

****

I’m on the side of the road, trying to see if the cab has missed it’s turn. Nope, that’s not it. It’s just another damn SUV. By now, I’m hoping a car hits me.

****

I’m on hold with the dispatch. I saw the cab pass me by, but on the OTHER street, not on the street I’m on. “Can you tell them I’m on the Over-Fuckin-Here-Entrance not in the Over-Fuckin-There-Entrance please?” I try not to be angry. It’s not the dispatcher’s fault, but by now I’m in tears.

****

I get home and take my straps off, you know all those straps they put you in. And driver lady says, “hey, please don’t take your straps off”. I’m looking like I’m about to turn into She-Hulk but I maintain. I’m cool.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to…”

********

And today? Well, today I saw the immigration lawyer! Just one; the other was in a conference. I forgot to bring originals and all this other stuff. But, but, here it goes… I went swimming! I did eight laps in thirty minutes. I’m still having withdrawals from my third day of not watching Battlestar Galactica.

****

Oh no, this blog is becoming what I promised myself it wouldn’t become– a damn journal!

*le mouse sigh*

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

National Education Alliance Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA BPD)

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

About.com, Borderline Personality Disorder Guide

Wikipedia, Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD Today – DSM-IV TR Diagnostic Criteria

My ten buck sessions are up.

The young therapist I’ve been seeing at the university for the last year-and-half is graduating and moving to San Antonio come June or July. She told me this several sessions back, maybe two months ago or so but I wouldn’t remember–these last few months have meshed in my memory.

Fortunately, I’d already gotten in with the psychiatrist at the community hospital I keep talking about (well, the psych is really at one of their branch clinics but whatever). Now that I’m in with that psychiatrist, I was able to schedule with a therapist there–otherwise I would’ve been on a waiting list for months to come–and well, my first session there starts May 3rd. So my last session with Miss Young Therapist who doesn’t look a day older than myself is this coming Wednesday.

Two sessions ago, so two Wednesdays ago, she’d asked me what I thought about what happens after death (because I’d brought L up again) and I told her what I thought. I then asked her, “what do you think?”  I made sure to emphasize that you. And guess what? She answered with, “oh yeah, that’s what I thought you believed, pretty much.”

That’s not what I was asking. Anyway, I let it slide. She’s probably been the best therapist I’ve had since I started going there at the university late 2008, soon after my monumental mental meltdown which I hope to be able to write about eventually. I can’t muster the courage now. (It’s kind of funny actually, in the way mental breakdowns can be. Then again, it’s not funny at all because breaking down mentally is no fun even if I got the “Dotty’s Being Mental and Loving it award”.)

Wednesday when I went to see her, I’d asked her again, what do you think happens, only this time I told her I didn’t want to know what she thought I thought, I wanted to know what she personally thought.

She got quiet and gave me an uncomfortable look, you know the kind a kid gives his mom when he knows he’s not supposed to say something and is looking for approval from her. She said, “you know, I want this session to be about you.”

I knew then that she’d probably been instructed not to talk about her personal beliefs. That’s the thing about newbie therapsits. They’re too linear with their methods. They haven’t loosened up yet.

See, that’s what gets me. I get the therapist-client relationship and that the therapist should refrain from too much personal info so’s not to get attached and other such things. I get it.

But COME ON!

All I got out of her that day when I asked and wished her the best in regards to San Antonio was that she’s got her thesis or concentration on Borderline Personality Disorder. Now it makes sense why she drilled so much dialectical behavioral techniques (DBT) into me.

As far as the beliefs go, I told her it was just reassuring to know what other people believed regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. And that I think it would be good for grieving L’s loss.

She asked if I’d told any of my friends, and I’d said I feel I don’t have any right now. Then I chuckled and said, “just Eloise and Maribel.” Maribel by the way, who I hadn’t heard from for months, had called me the Saturday before last to tell me her mother had died; we commiserated. It was good, a sucky bad kind of good and a good kind of bad. So Young Therapist suggested I get in contact with friends, make plans and tell them about L and then ask them what I asked her.

I guess. We’ll see. I plan to.

Anyway, I wanted to ask you guys that are or have been in therapy. I’m really nervous and skeptical about seeing someone new yet again. You know, having to re-tell and re-open (I’ve never been completely open to begin with). It just makes me anxious. And you know how much I already talk about anxiety burning me.

What should I ask this new therapist when I go in, I mean besides the usual thing about how I am currently and a brief back-story? What do you do, may I ask?

Sometimes, I think I should just quit therapy all together. I was ready to be done last July, but I spiraled down again. And then I think of how raw I feel right now.

I’m kind of at a loss.

********

addendum: I’m going to do my best for today’s NaPoWriMo poem, but there are about  eight people here at the house, EIGHT PEOPLE or TEN! They all just burst in!  That’s not including my mom, dad, myself, my brother and his girlfriend who came by. Aparently my dad finally got a photoshoot gig and latin people like to bring everybody and their momas and their babies and whatnot. Aaaaagh! That’s the downside to a business at home. Then, I heard my dad’s cousins are coming for dinner. uuughhh. They are so nosy and pinchados (upiddy and conceited and haughty and shit), most of them at least.

If not, I’ll post two poems tomorrow.