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.
March 19, 2013
It’s almost the end of the third month into 2013. I blogged for mental health all of last year. No, no. I BEGGED for mental health all of last year. And I never pledged the pledge but I walked the walk or whatever.
My fellow Canvas bloggies have established a pledging that connects people with the mental-health blogging community. This blog has been a reflection of my personal journey in the last year and a half. My mental health has improved drastically since then. No drastically sounds too negative. It has improved INCREDIBLY.
I am at a point now where I’m not having to fight off suicidal ideations, thoughts and urges damn near every hour of everyday. I am not constantly cryin’ or having panic attacks all the time. Since the start of this blog I lost someone dear, had a ton of medical issues, and made a suicide attempt. Then I found out that my Ex-Young therapist had diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, my therapist left (that was just before the suicide attempt) and in June of 2012, I finally got back in therapy and tried different medications.
I’m still going to therapy once a week, mostly. It’s on Fridays these days. No more Thursday therapy ’cause I’m working and Brunet Young changed her schedule. Therapy has been a major lifeline, so has this blog (as I’ve mentioned dozens of times before) and my swimming. I’m still swimming despite all the shit thrown at me. I’m fortunate that my mom is still working at the gym and I’m able to go and release my demons for free, for a bit at least.
Of course I still struggle. Life is a struggle and for those with mental health issues, that struggle becomes unbearable, so painful that it kills. It is another kind of struggle in itself. But I have accomplished many of my “goals for therapy” and am still working on others.
My “stability” has settle some.
I have a bit more clarity in my life now and feeling a sense of direction, despite my many changes in course. There are so many challenges, so much more to endure and enjoy. I don’t know where I’m at with this blog. I’ve considered retiring it many times (as a “borderline” I’ll drastically change my mind from one minute to the next ha). But I think I’m giving it a go for a bit longer.
I’m continuing my pledge to write for mental health, to shout out, to show that we are not alone in this.
Please visit my Canvas family at A Canvas of the Minds. It’s a great little blog of mental health bloggers and shenanigans!
Oh oh. And I ALMOST forgot. Thank you Laura/Soul Survivor for pledging me this year. You can find her blog, Bipolar for Life by clicking the link.
I’ve been feeling rather dizzy lately, albeit “stable”. When I say life’s been better these days, I’m talking about stability–emotional and mental stability. I’ve cried a few times in the last three/four weeks, but it hasn’t been a gut wrenching, shake inducing phenomenon followed by an all-encompassing emptiness and urge to die. In other words, I’m not laughing and jumping ups and down and then wanting to jab a knife into my neck. I want to live! I want life!
A few good things are happening too. Good is such a relative word. But anyway, other than having blogger’s block, I’m keeping busy. Therapy, swimmin’, washing dishes, cleaning up, reading, immigration paperwork, rolling around with Luna, trying to keep her from rolling around on her own poo and then licking me. Shit like that.
This past week was really nice. I mean nice. Just “happy days” where I don’t give a damn about the bullshit in my life, in life. I wasn’t particularly happy about one thing, except for maybe the fact that the immigration situation, the work permit, is becoming a reality despite the hold-ups. (Yeah, I’ll mention those later as I always say I’ll do).
All I have to say is this and you can stop reading the rest of my nonsense:
Fool, I’m feelin’ fresh like fuckin’ Fonzie here! On the plus size, I also feel aaaaaliiiiiive. I’m mostly high on life; not just merely existing.
I’ve had one of those weeks where I can laugh at humanity and not be too cynical about it. “Child,” I tell myself, “these are happy days aren’t they?” Yes, yes yes. the Mouse nods in agreement. I have to. This year has been hell–like much of my other twenty-six years– and I’ve finally driven out of hell, or so it seems. I’m always a bit suspicious though. I suppose what matters is that I am presently feeling pleasant, feeling calm. I’m ok.
My mood has just been too good to be true. And I’m not even on drugs… wait, I kinda am. But anyway.
And we all have our quirks, our little weird secrets (though some more than others). Don’t we?
What the hell do I mean? People are strange. That’s what I’m sayin’.
A strange week with (MOSTLY) good feeling. Let me start with Monday–this is last Monday, October first.
The Monday Mentals
Monday began, and as usual, I went to the gym where my mom works to do my daily swim. I’ve been keeping track of how many laps I do. I told the therapist this and she said it’s a great idea to look back on my progress. Chronic pain gets in the way of this sometimes, but anyway. I’d planned on doing some blogging after my swim only I had the bloggin’ block going on in my head. And like Sara Draws says, I think I’m getting the “brain rot”. (Back on Lamotrigine after a week off of it).
I just can’t seem to sketch or play the ukulele or write, except for now. I’m writing now, ain’t I? I don’t know.
My brother and I are building our relationship again, after a major fight involving him saying he wanted me out of his life because of something impulsive I did. I’m glad we’re talking again. And we’re not just talking; we’re “friends” again. He’s been calling me up every couple of days or so and asking if I want him to pick me up to go over his apartment.
Ever since Monkey Man’s death, he’s been there for me, more or less. That’s what I love about my family. Things get crazy between us sometime, like when mama busted my brother’s nose throwing a phone at him (not a cellphone) and then he…or when I… ugh.. I’ll leave the rest for a private post. But what I’m saying is my family is here for me. And I realize that now. I always have, it’s just the depression gets in the way of these things–of FEELING the good things around you. Of feeling the love of those in your life. Of truly absorbing life, takin’ each breath and feeling the oxygen fill your lungs, pumping through your cells, in your blood, in your veins and fueling the engine that is your heart.
My brother called me Monday and asked if I’d come over. I said sure, since I’m working on being a little more open. Once we settled in his apartment, we started watching Alien, the original 1979 version. All was good until he asked me to try some wine he’d bought. Well, I said to myself “P, you don’t get a chance to drink fine wine often. You’re doing well. Just half a glass.”
“Only half a glass,” the Mouse whispered. But…Half a glass turned into nearly three-fourths of the bottle and I got drunk. Really drunk. I was still fine though, just enjoying myself. It was a surprise, actually, to feel “happy drunk” because usually I become a somewhat psychotic and “angry drunk” or a very depressed drunk.
My bro went off to bed because he had to work early in the morning and I sat there on the floor with my wine, clicking around Netflix until I saw MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR! Mel Gibson was still a young, sexy actor who wasn’t as misogynistic as he is now. But then again, I don’t know for sure. Shit, I digress.
So I was watching Mad Max: Road Warrior with Mel Gibson, getting drunker, lickin’ every last drop. Then I got heavy-eyed and figured I’d go to bed. By then it was probably midnight and my brother was asleep. I went over to my brother’s spare room and then to the restroom to brush my teeth, and that’s when I decide to start reading some blogs instead of curling up on the futon. Around this time is when the mentals hit me like a spear to the spine.
I was reading one of my favorite poet-bloggies and she had a link to this music duo. I dug it, so I looked ’em up on YouTube. I found THIS. It’s the duo singing a cover of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars”. This here–this song, Between the Bars— is a song that has an intense affect on me. I was learning how to play it on the uke back in December before I headed to Florida; before I got facial paralysis; before I became increasingly depressed; before I broke my arm; but most importantly, before Monkey Man died. And if you guys have read about what happened to Monkey Man, all those depressing posts I wrote about him… yeah. It’s been six months already!
A song that was once dedicated to Monkey Man–that now rings truer than it did in December–turned on the PLDs and maybe some of the borderline in me came out. I immediately snapped and picked a paperclip from my brother’s desk. You can imagine what happened next. But the paperclip wasn’t good enough, so I ended up in the kitchen with a bloody knife and a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey. I don’t remember much after cleaning up the sink except I wrapped my arm in toilet paper and went to bed (the futon) crying.
Here’s the strange part. The next day, I was fine again. I had to keep my arm from sight when my dad picked me up, but otherwise, I was back to my cheery self.
I found a sketch of a monkey with a guitar that I drewcbefore running into the song and it’s terribly cute. Just above the crooked ears I must’ve drunkenly scribbled. It reads: T.H.L 1984-2012
Tuesday. I’m not gonna bother recapping Tuesday since it was just a chill day, apart from swimming fourteen laps and hiding a still-bleeding gash on my T-Rex-Duck arm.
Wednesday… Wednesday was wonderful. There’s a happy day.
My friend Sandy came over with her little three-year old boy. I hadn’t seen them in months. I had finished ten laps earlier that day and was feeling like things really are turning up. So Sandy came by with sushi which we ate. We then watched a kiddie movie and talked. I think we were more into the movie than her boy. She’s very different from me, Sandy, but despite that, we get along pretty well.
Sometimes I can only get so much of her though, but I’ve been pretty social lately, so my anxiety about people is subdued a bit and my patience has grown a bit. I’m still a very anxious person; I’m still having lots of anxiety, but as long as I’m not having panic attacks, as long as it’s not crippling I think it’s manageable. I’m good to go.
After she left, B came by and we talked. Here’s where Sandy and B differ. B and I can have very deep conversations: we’re like-minded. He’s a very intelligent fella and he gets my sick sense of humor which is always a plus in a friendship (for me at least).
That was Wednesday. Nice, peaceful and full of camaraderie.
September 15, 2012
Brunet Young went out of town this week, so I didn’t get a chance to have my weekly therapy session. She said she’d call to “check” on me or something along those lines, only she put it more gently. Overall, I’m feeling great though! I think the Lamictal has toned me down a bit. I don’t know.
Last Thursday (I’m seeing her Thursdays now), I confronted Brunet Young about the BPD diagnosis my Ex-Young Therapist had given me. I’d been meaning to ask her why Ex-Young Therapist was so hesitant about giving me the Termination Reports and why she said I couldn’t have the Evaluation Summary. It took a lot of courage to ask this.
“She wasn’t supposed to give you that,” Brunet Young replied.
What the fuck? I really like Brunet Young but I don’t get why she said Ex-Young Therapist wasn’t supposed to give me that form. I inquired about it, and she basically explained that: telling the patient he/she has BPD is detrimental to the therapeutic process. For me, the fact I now know this bit of information has given me a sense of validation. Isn’t an invalidating environment one of the contributing factors of borderline personality (BPD) development?
“I feel like all these years… all I’ve gone through has at least been validated.” My voice began to shake, “A name has been put to it. Now I feel like, like I’m not JUST an asshole.” I started chuckling.
“That makes sense, I can see why you’d feel that way. The thing is, we are required to give a diagnosis even when we think there is no reason or need to place one on the client. In some cases, we go with what only fits closest.”
Ok. Then what’s the point of categorizing certain behavioral attributes?
My hands trembled and I kept rubbing my aluminum water bottle. “I think I’m a pretty intelligent person… I mean, it’s not like I’m going to just throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Well, I have this and such and I’m doomed’. I’m no different than… than I was before I knew. I’m not going to put myself in a box! I’m not going to quit trying to improve myself and look for ways of recovering.” I went on telling her that what upset me was that I often talked about BPD in regards to online forums I visited and my friend Ryden who has BPD. I would mention how much I could related to people with that and yet, she didn’t say a word about it.
Brunet Young was silent for a moment. Then she looked up with gentle eyes and said, “I know YOU wouldn’t put yourself in a box or quit trying P, but many others with this would. That’s the thing.”
She said she’d be sure to talk about why I “fit” the BPD criteria next time we meet, this coming Thursday.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied nearly in tears. I don’t cry in front of people, so for me to nearly burst into tears was astonishing, to me especially.
“No, it does. It does matter. We’ll discuss it.”
I’m glad I finally asked. I can see why a BPD diagnosis can be withheld from a patient/client, particularly those who have more “anti-social” tendencies. For one, the patient might use it to justify for acting out of line, or they might feel discriminated against. I can see how it might conflict with therapy for SOME people to have that information disclosed. I figured perhaps my Ex-Young Therapist was afraid I’d base my entire identity around the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but I HAVEN’T. Have I?
I don’t think I have. I think too much outside of the box for that nonsense.
Yeah, I’ve researched and read a lot about it since finding out, maybe a little too much. And sure, I understand the implications behind such discretion. But as I told Brunet Young, I’m intelligent, and therefore, I sure as hell know that we are not the same (those with BPD) just because of a diagnosis. I told her I realize how arbitrary diagnosis for mental illnesses/disorders are in the first place.
Even among fellow BPDers (or whatever you want to call it), there is an infinite array of expressions of “symptoms”. I know the difference between a set of “criteria/symptoms” that BPDers share and the indefinite, individual minds–the being, the self, the person, and the personalities we hold.
We are not our labels.
In fact, I mentioned this when I found out. People are people regardless of their mental problems, illnesses, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture–I can go on and on. But it’s because this information was released to me that I feel more confident to talk about the darker sides of my experience; I’ve already told Brunet Young things I wouldn’t dare tell Ex-Young therapist like the overdoses; the day I threw a whole load of books at Monkey Man, rolled out crying and banged my head repeatedly at the side of his godfathers house; all those drugs we did together; and my mother’s suicide attempts. It’s because of knowing about BPD that I learned a lot from books/articles/blogs–like “The Buddha and the Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder–that I no longer feel so alone.
I’m nervous about seeing her this Thursday. She said we’d discuss why Ex-Young Therapist wrote that on my Termination Report. The thing is, there’s so much I want to say and don’t know how. I feel mute when I roll into that room (though lately I’ve been talking fifteen miles a minute and typing three-hundred words per second). I don’t want to cry. I only cried when I told Ex-Young Therapist Monkey Man died.
I don’t know. I just feel awkward now.
But, I’m glad.
addendum: Today I swam like a champ! Would’a been cool if I swam like a chimp too. Can chimps swim alright?
August 29, 2012
July 20, 2012
I don’t know why, but I woke up with this song in my head (also had another zombie apocalypse dream; I’ll have to write a vignette of those).
Anyway, this song is so special to me for many reasons. For one, it’s sung by an old school Colombian duo–two guys that came from the same town my mother was raised in. And two, it’s in the vallenato style. I don’t like merengue, I don’t care for cumbia and I only like salsa from the 60s-70s but I love vallenato. Something about it–the accordion– is very folk and tropical at the same time. Maybe it’s also because my aunt loved vallenato.
My aunt commited suicide when she was 27 (same age as Monkey Man). She drank a bottle of cyanide, spent nearly a week in the hospital’s ICU until her organs just gave out. The doctors had said there was no chance of her surviving the extent of the internal damage, but while in the hospital bed, between brief moments of consciousness, she kept saying that God was going to give her a chance to live for her kids (a three year-old boy and an infant girl) and that maybe she’d made a mistake.
She passed away in the spring of 1993, and my mother always tells me about how much I remind her of my aunt, her sister. I only remember her in pictures and vaguely in my early, early childhood. I’m often told my aunt was the artist, always painting and drawing. My mother also says she was a comedian. When she was ten, she’d stand in the street corner of la vecindad and the wealthier kids would pay her part their allowances just to hear her make jokes.
She’d been raped at the age of eight and lived in the highly aggressive/violent family my grandparents formed. The home where the oldest boy had to knock out his father with a stick so he’d get off of his mother; the home where his mother nearly stabbed her husband to death on several occasions. (Not to mention the poverty.)
My aunt didn’t mention the rape to anyone until after she’d married, and my mother was the only one she told. My aunt, ED, married a cop who only seemed help her create yet another aggressive family. She was the “darky” or “la negra/negrita” meaning “the black one”. She was the wild one too, always dancing and carrying a big Afro-puff above her bobbing head. My mom was the quiet, white one. Chalk-skinned-stick they called her because my mother is fair, the whitest of the siblings and was a very thin girl.
“Your butt is just like hers too! She hated having a big butt,” my mom tells me.
“Well, I both hate and love my butt,” I reply.
We laugh about it now, but I know it’s torn her up not having had a chance to see her at the time of her death. We were living in the States by then and being undocumented meant that if she flew back to Colombia for the funeral, she couldn’t come back to the U.S. to us, or rather, if she did it would have to be through the river or Arizona desert and risk death or deportation.
The lyrics of the song are so raw, simple and pure:
The paths of life are not how I thought
nor how I imagined they’d be when I was as a child.
They’re not how I believed them to be.
The paths of life are so difficult to tread,
difficult to walk down
and I can’t seem to find the exit…
“The Paths of Life” by the Little Devils aka Devil Brothers. (They should hook up with my Pretty Little Demons, huh?)
July 19, 2012
The Abused Becomes the Abuser
I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.
I fell straight back.
It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.
I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!
After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.
“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.
“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”
I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.
“Are you done?” I looked up.
“No I’m not done!”
“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”
“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”
There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.
“You don’t care do you?!”
I didn’t answer.
He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.
I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.
And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.
I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.
Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.
We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.
And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.
Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.
I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.
Orgy’s remake, 1998
New Order’s original version, 1983