********

Janis had a voice in tune with the angels and demons. Her Pretty Little Demons must have been beyond pretty, gorgeous even, much like mine. And I’m not saying I’m gorgeous here; it’s just my demons are.

So, today’s song is “Summertime”. The mood in this song is so melancholy and yet the lyrics have a mixed tinge of humor and sadness, of sarcasm and anger, of positive and negative thougths battling between this girl from a rich dad and gorgeous mom. A girl who will someday fly. I love that thought as trite as it may seem. Will she fly as an angel in death? Or will she do great things in her life? It’s up in the air.

It’s like the essence of the song describes my childhood, my youth.

I know all about having a gorgeous mom, about melancholy and being mixed up with ambivalence, confusion and ambiguity. But my dad on the other hand lost his business in Colombia when he decided to move to the States for me. He sacrificed everything he’d worked up for until that point. I always felt so guilty about it. Ironically though, the guy who took over his photography studio after we left was shot while some hoodlums broke in to steal anything they could. Colombia was in deep political unrest at the time.

********

Well, it’s summer and summertime living is easy for us southern girls. ha! Somer time is ‘a leavin’.

Summertime for me has often been a time of remission from the “mentals” (usually, not always); the only brief remissions I recall. And this summer seems to be no different, despite the burdensome circumstances. I have been getting relatively “better” since July.

****

I also recall many melancholy summers in my childhood. I was a melancholy child even before the suicidals hit. Oh I do.  Child melancholy. Adolescent melancholy. Adult melancholy. It just gets worse. It’s just another bucket filling in the well.

Oh summertime though. Weren’t childhood summers the best? If I recall clearly, even my childhood melancholy summers where better than my remission adolescent and adult summers.

Summertime is  ‘a here y’all. Don’t you cry girl. Don’t you cry. Remember you’re the “mean challenger,” the “brave girl” who never cries.

Yet I’m crying now.

Oh I have so many stories about what this song means to me. So here’s just one of the many….

********

Once Upon a Summertime

I became extremely close to a dirty-blond haired girl way back in 2003-2004. She had big eyes like mine, only hers were green–mine are brown. And she had gorgeous big, pursed lips. It got to a point where I had an intense crush on her. I’m still not sure why.

Back then, I was involved in this organization called the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and used to joke that they were a cult of lesbians–I wish they were because at least then I wouldn’t have to wear white dresses and do stupid rituals for Jesus. No offense to Jesus. I’m sure he was a cool dude. I’d have kicked it with him, but I doubt he enjoys all that adoration.

This organization was VERY religious and very strict. I caught hell for wearing a brow and nose ring. Anyway, that’s were I met this wonderful girl. The day I met her, we laughed at the rituals and the white dresses.

Don’t get scared; they didn’t harm me. Well, they did once when we went to Corpus Cristi but that’s another post altogether. This Rainbow for Girls thing was more like a cult of Mason’s Christian daughters who claimed to do charity work (the reason I’d joined was because I wanted to do charity work), but instead of doing charity, they only bickered. Anyway, me and this girl (I’ll call her Emma) connected because we both felt out-of-place there. We were both outsiders.

Emma was a wild one, a  free-thinker like me. We had one of those intense connections that immediately sparked! And one summer, we had a road trip with the other Rainbow Girls, the not-so-free-thinker-ones. In the car, Emma and I jammed to Joplin. Me and her, her and me. We laughed a lot that girl Emma and I.

This girl, Emma, knew ALL ABOUT Janis Joplin. I mean, if you know anything about Janis Joplin, you know that she was from Texas. You’d know she was born in January 19, 1943 and began writing plays in the first grade (oh how I’ve always had a thing for most Aquarians I’ve met). You’d also know that she went to Lamar State College for a stretch between gigs before becoming famous. And since you’d know she grew up in Texas and that Lamar State College is where she went for a while; you’d know Lamar State College is also in Port Arthur, Texas, not too far from Houston where I grew up.

Yep, you’d know, you’d know how inadequate she must’a felt there. You’d know that in high school, she’d earned the name “pig” for being pudgy and “nigger lover” for her “tolerance” and love of blacks and her hate of racism–which she witnessed a lot of in Port Arthur and at Lamar, I’m sure. You’d know that that’s why she often left to live with her aunt in Venice Beach, California.

Surely, you’d know this, but even so, you wouldn’t know all the things this girl Emma knew. Emma and I felt her PAIN. This girl was a DEDICATED Joplin fan–must be still. I became a hardcore dedicated fan thanks to Emma.

A year after that summer, in the spring of 2004, I went on a road trip to the northwestern plains of Texas with Emma. Just us two. We went to visit her then-fiancé in prison. She and I had a thing for bad boys, only she’d slept with many and I hadn’t… yet. She was only a year older than me but had been engaged more than once. I hadn’t even had sex or a boyfriend.

I remember getting so upset when I was in that line of booths where you talk to the prisoners through a connected phone behind the windows. I got upset because the people next to us was a family of five–a mom and her three little kids. The dad was a prison inmate. The oldest child was about ten. They were all visiting their daddy, and to me it was so sad. I just sat and watched the man talk to his kids behind the glass while Emma talked to her fiance. And I wondered if it were better for those kids to visit that man, their father, or not. I was so depressed then. I remember wheeling myself to the restroom past these gates where men in solitary confinement stayed. And I just sat on the stall and cried and cried. When I got back, I sat there just looking at them but trying not to look too hard. I always felt things like that, intensely.

Springs have never been good to me, but sumertime is a little different.

****

On our way back from the prison–oh those lovely Texas prisons and there are loads of them– we stopped at this old ma-and-pa shop looking for a place to eat spaghetti. Emma got herself a Southern Comfort plaque, and we planned to see if we could sneak our way into buying some Southern Comfort whisky back in Houston.

Janis had been a “troubled girl” like Janis and I, so she drank a lot of that Southern Comfort whiskey (we ended up not getting the whisky after all).

She was my “date” at my senior prom. She wore a tucks with high heels and I wore a beautiful black and green dress. I didn’t enjoy myself. I only cried after it was over.Then Emma told me that she was planning on going to Lamar State College. She never did. She went somewhere else. She also told me she had BP (bipolar disorder), but back then I hadn’t had my monumental mental breakdown, so I hadn’t been diagnosed or sent to any psychiatric clinic. I was still struggling in silence. So I felt awkward telling her about how much I empathized. I did tell her I empathized but not REALLY EMPATHIZED like I did on the inside. I guess I paid no mind because I was trying to put “mind over matter” like a good Christian Scientist would. I still suspected BP or something similar in myself.

****

What do you think happened between me and dear Emma?

Yep.

Very borderline is what happened.

Our intense friendship broke–just as intense of a rupture as its union. We dissipated from each other as quickly as we had bonded. I see our little summer escapades as a chemical reaction between atoms, forming new molecules, new bonds–that became our friendship. Then, the borderline in me and the bipolar in her was the catalyst.

Then again, I could over analyze it like I tend to. Or oversimplify it.  Of course, life is just like that. Some people drift in and out of our lives. But for me, it’s everyone I’ve been close to. Maybe that’s just how life is for some of us.

In 2006, Emma and I rekindled our friendship online. And for a brief moment, all was well between us again. Then one day, she let me down. She asked me out to a Greek festival and the day of the festival she didn’t return my calls. I instantly went from loving her to hating her guts! I wanted to tear at my skin and pull all of my hair out.

“How could she do this to me?” I thought. “Why wouldn’t she at least call back and say she was sorry, that she wasn’t going, or that she couldn’t pick me up because something held her up?” When I emailed her about it, she didn’t reply. “What did I do? She obviously hates me. No one will ever like me.”

I insulted her in another email and cut her off completely though I missed her terribly. Now was that just life or some of the “borderline” in me?

Soon summertime will become “autumn time” in this part of the world. Molecules come together; molecules break apart. Warmth becomes cool.

****

Enjoy!

addendum: Monkey Man L. had a vinyl record of hers I really wanted. mmmhmmm. I would have wanted it as a memento. I think his sis too it. Well, she deserved it.

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August 21, 2012

It’s finally here! My first Canvas post. Please forgive any messy mistakes. I’ve been somewhat absent from the bloggie world this last week and a half. My laptop is still broken and a lot has been going on (when doesn’t a lot go on?)

Anyway, the immigration papers/forms came out for deferred action, so I’ve been looking through those. Let me tell you, it’s a pain in the ass and I can’t see the lawyers until the week after next. But at least my frantic, maddening anxiety has gone down a notch. I’ve been swimming every day now instead of every other day. And between that, playing my ukulele, cuddling with little Luna and taking the bus to therapy, I’ve had little time to catch up on reading. 😦

Also, I went out Saturday despite my bro flaking out on me two nights in a row. And for someone with BPD (read: someone with intense fear of abandonment), I think I managed well by writing this post and accepting a ride from Mansie. He did call to apologize yesterday. 🙂

Anyway, without further adieu, here it is!

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.

****

Past Problems

* 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!


********

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and substance use disorders (SUDS aka drug abuse and addiction) have high co-occurrences.

Like many of those diagnosed with BPD, I’ve had an issue with drugs, both illicit and prescribed. The first drug I got hooked on was alcohol when I was fifteen. Later on, there were others. I’ve never been addicted hardcore. I’ve always had a level of restraint despite my low impulse control, but mostly, I’ve just always had a lack of access. So I was always able to maintain a strong will with an air of sobriety and a high functioning persona, but the looming pitfalls awaited throughout the years.

********

So drugs.

Isn’t this nation (U.S. of A) over-medicated? I think so. I’m currently rethinking and outweighing the pros and cons of going inpatient because of this urge to take the rest of the painkillers I have left and that just mean I’m afraid I’ll OD again. I think I’ll have to call New Male Therapist because I still haven’t heard back from that DBT group I was supposed to get screened to get into and the other three waiting lists I’m on. I’m hanging on though, barely, but I am. I’m really tired of the nonstop crying bouts, these random highs and lows, this susceptibility to triggers everywhere. It’s exhausting. I feel like fainting every morning. Ha. I just got a picture of a damsel in distress fainting and then a flutter of birds swooping in from the window to pick me up like a Disney-style Cinderella in her opening shower scene.

********

Well, this “borderline girl” P feels a tad over-medicated sometimes. I feel like the drugs given to me by my psychiatrist are gonna kill me, sometimes, like now, I hope they do. Other times, like yesterday, I worry they will. I worry I won’t make it to thirty.

And why do they call illicit drugs “controlled substances” when prescribed drugs are substances just as, or more “controlled”?

And aren’t we just mere chemicals bouncing around? You know, quantum physics and shit.

We are the essence of substances which contain energy, more or less. That’s why I love to bounce to this beat, because it’s so energetic, maybe. It’s called none other than “Drugs” by the wonderful Ratatat.

Yeah, I have nothing else of interest to write since my “Good List” went to shit after I’d only written half of it and then I got another one of my mini breakdowns this weekend and on Monday, so I figured I’d just throw in another “Bordeline Girl Song of the Week” for filler… until I get my head on straight.

********

By the way, our human bodies… I’m probably saying “human bodies” because I started watching Battlestar Galactica for the first time on Sunday to cope. Guys, I know, I have to get nerd/geek points for this or something–anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, human bodies. Our bodies produce a tad bit of DMT, one of THE MOST powerful psychotropic chemical compounds in the history of our existence. It is a naturally occurring substance that is also seen in plants like ayahuasca which is found in places like the Amazons.

The Amazonian shamans use ayahuasca it to get “into the spiritual” realm. You know, religious rituals and such. Well, I’m from Colombia, and I sometimes wonder if I ever get my legal/immigration and financial situation fixed, I’ll travel to my birthplace and after visiting family I’ve never met, I’ll go down to the Amazons and ask those shamans for a little hit of ayahuasca and give god/universe a high five, a kiss or a cursing scream (depends on my mood guys).

Then, I’ll say, “Drugs no more”.  Except love, ’cause love is also a drug.

Oh, and now I know what this song reminds me of. Ahhh, yes, it reminds me of Jaques Cousteau Escargot. (It’s French spelling guys  because he had a French name though he was adopted, so that’s what we’ll call him for now.)

Anyway, he’s the boy that broke my heart back in late 2007 (I was drinking and druggin’ every night by then). He’s the boy that triggered my Monumental Mental Meltdown in 2008. And that meltdown was what led me to see my first psychiatrist ever.

Thank you Jaques Cousteau Escargot! Thank you alcohol! Thanks to you two and my “borderline”self- destructive ways and my depressive susceptibility, I am now in a merry-go-round with the mental health system. You’ve led me to a revelation, though I happen to think I’m no better seeing it–not at the moment at least.

Drugs. Love em. Hate em. Nuf’ said.

addendum: Dear Dotty says Venus is going to fly over the Sun today! TRANSIT OF VENUS GUYS! I have not seen the news due to my current Battlestar Galactica addiction on my brother’s Netflix account and the fact that I don’t have antenae for HD conversion, so I don’t know what time it’ll be in your part of the world, but it seems like trippy stuff and you don’t have to take any drugs for the trip. Just look up at the sky (wear protective eye gear and punch a hole in a paper if you don’t have any special equipment).

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.

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“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!

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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*

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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.

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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.