Mouse tries to shoot Cupid

© MMM/PAZ 2014

****

Maybe I didn’t say that right.

Yeah, it didn’t come out right. I think I meant to say, “FUCK YEAH CUPID!”

So I’m sorry Cupid. Sorry.

I just…uugh… old habits die hard. You know? Listen. Listen, I never hated you, really. I just grew up bitter about the whole thing, you know? Being “in love” is really weird. It’s weird like I’m having an out of body experience, like I’m having one of those dereealization moments continually. Yeah, those who have postraumatic stress know derealization well enough.

See, I never liked Valentine’s Day and, well, today is that so-called day. BLEEEUUUUGH. AT LEAST in Colombia, my birthplace, we call this day El Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) and we celebrate it sometime in September… I think. That’s more fitting to my taste and beliefs and whatnot.

Anyway, shit I don’t mean to get off course. See, I’m not sure if you had anything to do with it or not Sir Cupid, but either way, this “falling in love” thing is actually happening. It happened with Monkey Man, but that was chaotic–falling in and out and in and out all while wanting to blow my brains out.

****

I rejected it. THIS. BEING. “IN LOVE.”  I rejected it so much and nearly sabotaged any possibility of giving “love” a chance when it came around the corner last August.

I did.

But… I was in therapy! I AM in therapy. And shit does that help.

Fuck Valentines! Happy Day of Love and Friendship everyone.

And HAPPY FULL MOON! I love you. So so high, so full and yellow and bright…

Mouse Love

Los Caminos de la Vida

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 Chorus
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…
etc.

“The Paths of Life” by the Little Devils aka Devil Brothers. (They should hook up with my Pretty Little Demons, huh?)

Those of you that have been with me here on WordPress since the birth of this blog are already familiar with the rare connective tissue disorder I was born with: Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) aka Brittle Bone Disease.

As I started writing this blog, I realized I wanted to explore the relationship between chronic illness and mental health. I wanted to share how the two have blended in my own experience. To an extent, I’ve done that, though not as much as I’d like. And when I found out about the BPD diagnosis, I began to look deeper at how my medical condition has been a factor in my development of “BPD symptomatology”.

****

The first therapist I went to see in 2008 was more of a general counselor at the university. Her specialties were not relevant to my mental problems. But it was because of her that I was able to accept the fact that I’ve dealt with a lot of traumatic experiences.

“Your mother has been abusive to you P,” she said quietly, “and on top of that, you’ve had to deal with a lot of medical trauma. Give yourself some credit! You deserve it. Don’t you think?”

I’ve always refused the thought of being a “trauma survivor”. In The Buddha and the Borderline, Kiera Van Gelder says something I completely connect to: “And while I still resist seeing myself as a victim of trauma, it’s becoming clear that I have some lingering unresolved issues…”

Lingering and unresolved. Don’t we all have some of the lingering and unresolved?

I think about what I deal with on a day-to-day basis–the triggers, the anxiety, the high-voltage electric current of emotions and suicidal ideations. I start to connect things. For example, I’m easily triggered and flinch with certain things that remind me of past fractures. If my brother does a sharp turn while pushing me in my wheelchair, my heart leaps, then stops. And I instantly get a chill up my spine. When I protest, he reassures me by saying, “Don’t worry. I got this shit Shorty. How many years have I pushed you?” I know he won’t drop me or let me fall, but my reactions are like clock-work despite my best efforts. I’m beginning to think I may have a form of complex post traumatic stress (C-PTSD), something very common with those who also have BPD (borderline personality disorder).

I think of these last seven months.

When February hit, I was already suicidal again. But then I came down with Bell’s Palsy. And then I broke my T-Rex arm less than a week after playing a prank over at Monkey Man’s apartment. All hell went loose in my head after that. I mean, the Pretty Little Demons had their way with me, leaving a wreckage in my head. I’m glad and lucky to have survived this last “episode” thus far. And though it feels like it’s lessening, it’s far from over. I’m not out of hell yet; I’m just in the suburbs now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to drive farther out of it when I start therapy Thursday (yeah, we rescheduled yet again).

****

It hit me hard, the fracture. Those first two months after the fracture coupled with Monkey Man L’s death were too much. And it hit me not so much because of the physical pain. I deal with chronic pain; it fucks with your life, but it is what it is. And what’s funny is I can talk about that pain with people but I can’t talk about the mental/emotional pain even with those closest to me like my brother.

So what hit me most about the recent fracture was the inability to do certain things on my own, things I’ve grown accustomed to doing. I’m pretty independent and mobile despite the physical limitations, so not being able to do things as simple as getting into the shower on my own ( it was hell waiting on my mom to help me wrap my cast in a bag and carry me in everyday), plunged me to the bottom quicker. I hadn’t broken a limb since I was sixteen, so even though I’ve fractured dozens upon dozens of bones, it all seemed new.

It’s amazing how quickly we forget the intensity of the pain once it’s gone just as we forget we ever experienced joy when in the midst of deep depression. I also find it amazing how a new life seems to emerge out of these deep dark cracks in our lives. Mine has many, like the Grand Canyon. I don’t know what life I’m in at the moment. Life number ten or eleven?

********

Anyway, as I mentioned in Whiskers and Lashes, I’ve had a ton of cartooning ideas milling around my head but the Mouse hasn’t been able to catch one, even with my rebirth and the PLDs quieting down some.

One of the ideas I have is a little comic strip explaining OI, like “OI 101: Adventures of Mr. Healthy Bone and Mr. Brittle OI Bone” or something silly like that. Then I started thinking about the mad anxiety I’ve been having lately–the damned morning panic attacks that have been waking me.

Little P and Little T circa 1993-4. my dad left this on my desk last week. He must’ve found it while working in the garage. The furry guy riding behind me is Tito, the one I found huddled with pigs in a pen at the Mexican flee market.

I’ve struggled with loads of anxiety since I was a child; it’s only now I’m beginning to realize it. Chronic indecision is often reflective of high anxiety levels. When I was fitted to get my first electric wheelchair (see picture), I remember sitting in a physical therapy room with a giant binder full of samples and a tall man (all men are tall to a tiny girl) flipping through sheet after sheet of fabric colors. I got dizzy looking at what was to me a monolithic block of color. I got physically ill from looking through. I wanted to cry because the choices overwhelmed me as they do now. Would I make the right choice? Who was I do decide? Pink is always for girls, why? No, I like the blues! Why do they keep asking about the pink?

“Can’t I just have all of the colors!?” I finally yelled. They had a rainbow-colored option for the belt which the man kindly suggested!

But I digress.

For the last few weeks, maybe a month or so, the deep depression–the core of it–seems to have lifted, mostly. It has lifted to the extent that I feel as though I’m emerging from that hell, shedding a layer of skin and climbing back up from the grave of that ninth life. But with this emergence something else has come up–increased awareness of the jaw pain.

Funny enough now that the emotional pain isn’t at a constant crisis level, I feel the physical pain coming back. It could also be the anxiety that’s tightening the muscles on my face and causing the pain to return. (My arm still hurts but that’s not as disturbing as the jaw pain.)

Ugh, the fractured jaw and nerve damage incident! Talk about fuckin’ trauma. They jacked up my jaw! I’ll have to write out that story some other time.

****

Several days ago, I ran into a comment on one of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Facebook groups.

“Any of you have horror stories from the past, from the hospital, from doctors and nurses and such?” the group’s creator asked.

Replies came in almost immediately. I replied that I’d waken up during the end of a surgery in my femur, among other things. It’s a surreal experience being a twelve-year-old, waking up naked (with the exception of a tiny towel over the crotch), surrounded by half a dozen doctors and nurses covered in blood and tubes and beeping machines closing in above your head.

I sat there thinking, Horror stories? Hell’s yeah I got them. I got Post Traumatic Stress up my ass! (Literally, my bum’s been messed with.)

A mom in that Facebook group has a little eight year-old girl with type II OI (I have type III). This lady is on there chatting away as much as I’m here in WordPress. She’s constantly talking about her little one. The girl has broken over 500 bones! Jeezus! I think I just barely passed the 100 mark. But 500? I can’t imagine, or rather, I don’t want to. I wonder how many of us have PTSD from just the fractures alone! Monkey Man L was having his leg turned for an X-Ray when, BAM, they SNAPPED it in two. It was already broken and they just added another break! All more reasons for me to think of this PTSD and BPD correlation.

So, on Sunday, I started researching: “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Osteogenesis Imperfecta” and “Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder”. I found some interesting things, but more on that later. 🙂

Yep, that’s me. I think I was three years old in this one.

I have a bisphosphonate infusion to look forward to tomorrow. It’ll be the second time I get one. Wish me luck!

Much Love from the Mouse

********

Oh and here’s some info on bisphosphonate therapy for osteogenesis imperfecta.

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!

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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