Confrontation

September 15, 2012

Brunet Young went out of town this week, so I didn’t get a chance to have my weekly therapy session. She said she’d call to “check” on me or something along those lines, only she put it more gently. Overall, I’m feeling great though! I think the Lamictal has toned me down a bit. I don’t know.

Last Thursday (I’m seeing her Thursdays now), I confronted Brunet Young about the BPD diagnosis my Ex-Young Therapist had given me. I’d been meaning to ask her why Ex-Young Therapist was so hesitant about giving me the Termination Reports and why she said I couldn’t have the Evaluation Summary. It took a lot of courage to ask this.

****

“She wasn’t supposed to give you that,” Brunet Young replied.

What the fuck? I really like Brunet Young but I don’t get why she said Ex-Young Therapist wasn’t supposed to give me that form. I inquired about it, and she basically explained that: telling the patient he/she has BPD is detrimental to the therapeutic process. For me, the fact I now know this bit of information has given me a sense of validation. Isn’t an invalidating environment one of the contributing factors of borderline personality (BPD) development?

****

“I feel like all these years… all I’ve gone through has at least been validated.” My voice began to shake, “A name has been put to it. Now I feel like, like I’m not JUST an asshole.” I started chuckling.

“That makes sense, I can see why you’d feel that way. The thing is, we are required to give a diagnosis even when we think there is no reason or need to place one on the client. In some cases, we go with what only fits closest.”

Ok. Then what’s the point of categorizing certain behavioral attributes?

My hands trembled and I kept rubbing my aluminum water bottle. “I think I’m a pretty intelligent person… I mean, it’s not like I’m going to just throw my hands up in the air and say ‘Well, I have this and such and I’m doomed’. I’m no different than… than I was before I knew. I’m not going to put myself in a box! I’m not going to quit trying to improve myself and look for ways of recovering.” I went on telling her that what upset me was that I often talked about BPD in regards to online forums I visited and my friend Ryden who has BPD. I would mention how much I could related to people with that and yet, she didn’t say a word about it.

Brunet Young was silent for a moment. Then she looked up with gentle eyes and said, “I know YOU wouldn’t put yourself in a box or quit trying P, but many others with this would. That’s the thing.

She said she’d be sure to talk about why I “fit” the BPD criteria next time we meet, this coming Thursday.

“It doesn’t matter,” I replied nearly in tears. I don’t cry in front of people, so for me to nearly burst into tears was astonishing, to me especially.

“No, it does. It does matter. We’ll discuss it.”

****

I’m glad I finally asked. I can see why a BPD diagnosis can be withheld from a patient/client, particularly those who have more “anti-social” tendencies. For one, the patient might use it to justify for acting out of line, or they might feel discriminated against. I can see how it might conflict with therapy for SOME people to have that information disclosed. I figured perhaps my Ex-Young Therapist was afraid I’d base my entire identity around the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but I HAVEN’T. Have I?

I don’t think I have. I think too much outside of the box for that nonsense.

Yeah, I’ve researched and read a lot about it since finding out, maybe a little too much. And sure, I understand the implications behind such discretion. But as I told Brunet Young, I’m intelligent, and therefore, I sure as hell know that we are not the same (those with BPD) just because of a diagnosis. I told her I realize how arbitrary diagnosis for mental illnesses/disorders are in the first place.

Even among fellow BPDers (or whatever you want to call it), there is an infinite array of expressions of “symptoms”. I know the difference between a set of “criteria/symptoms” that BPDers share and the indefinite, individual minds–the being, the self, the person, and the personalities we hold.

We are not our labels.

In fact, I mentioned this when I found out. People are people regardless of their mental problems, illnesses, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture–I can go on and on. But it’s because this information was released to me that I feel more confident to talk about the darker sides of my experience; I’ve already told Brunet Young things I wouldn’t dare tell Ex-Young therapist like the overdoses; the day I threw a whole load of books at Monkey Man, rolled out crying and banged my head repeatedly at the side of his godfathers house; all those drugs we did together; and my mother’s suicide attempts. It’s because of knowing about BPD that I learned a lot from books/articles/blogs–like “The Buddha and the Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder–that I no longer feel so alone.

****

I’m nervous about seeing her this Thursday. She said we’d discuss why Ex-Young Therapist wrote that on my Termination Report. The thing is, there’s so much I want to say and don’t know how. I feel mute when I roll into that room (though lately I’ve been talking fifteen miles a minute and typing three-hundred words per second). I don’t want to cry. I only cried when I told Ex-Young Therapist Monkey Man died.

I don’t know. I just feel awkward now.

But, I’m glad.

********

addendum: Today I swam like a champ! Would’a been cool if I swam like a chimp too. Can chimps swim alright?

Advertisements

The Abused Becomes the Abuser

********

I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.

SMAAAAACK.

then

BOOOOM.

I fell straight back.

It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.

I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!

After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.

****

“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.

“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”

I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.

“Are you done?” I looked up.

“No I’m not done!”

“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”

“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”

There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.

“You don’t care do you?!”

I didn’t answer.

He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

****

I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.

And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.

I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.

****

Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.

****

We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.

And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.

********

Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.

I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.

********

Orgy’s remake, 1998

New Order’s original version, 1983

A flicker of hope burned within me last night. It swiftly swayed, but all too quick like the wings of a hummingbird. It was small as it fluttered in there, in that barrel chest of mine. It burned ultra-violeT. It was unseen by the naked eye. No difference could be seen in the color of my flesh, but I felt it there hot inside my breast, then cool around my cheeks.

What was this hope you may ask? Oh, it was a bursting urge! A bursting urge to live wholeheartedly.

********

Then today, I woke up crying. I hadn’t cried like this in a few days.

It was the complete opposite of how I woke up yesterday–with boundless energy and an urge to cry but something keeping me from doing so, almost like constipation but worse. Far, far worse.

The showers had subsided and I was relieved. But honestly, I don’t know what’s worse not being able to cry or not being able to stop crying. It’s all too tiring. Too, too tiring.

I keep telling myself, “Things are looking up kid! Just hold on. Look up.” I don’t believe myself when I say this but I know I will hang on.

I just don’t get it.

****

I went swimming yesterday, the first time I got to go since Thursday and I think that may have been what helped light the flickering hope. But that’s the thing with me these days–most days–most of my life I have to keep fueling that damn flicker. It’s like when you’re trying to light a cigarette on a windy day and you only have on small, very small hand to keep the wind from the flames.

I’m always fanning the flames.

****

I had another weekend breakdown. It seems my “rhythm” for the last two weeks has been one okay day followed by two awful days . The “okay” day just means I haven’t had extremely dramatic mood swings or panic inducing anxiety.

Saturday my dad decided to throw a party for my mom’s 50th birthday. Eloise’s sister Isabella, the beautiful ballet dancer, also arrived on Saturday. So it was a chaotic day and needless to say, I couldn’t go swimming.

Swimming has become my new addiction. I noticed myself getting withdrawals all weekend. I’m even having swimming dreams! I had a really bizarre underwater dream several nights ago, where I had to find my way out of  a sewer, only it was endless and I was in scuba diving gear. That faded into another one of my zombie apocalypse dreams. Only this one was very Tim Burtinesque. It was a musical zombie apocalypse with singing zombie-robots that shot human zombies! At that point, I knew I was in a dream so I stopped being scared of the zombies; I started killing those snail-paced fuckers whilst singing along with the robots! (I have a lot of lucid dreams. More on that later.)

****

Alright, I’m not to proud of my journaling style of blogging lately, but I can’t seem to let the blog go completely either. I have been more reserved in what I say as oppose to what I want to say. This blogging thing has become a push and pull with me. And I’ve come to the realization that maybe my funny juices have completely run out. I can’t do a humor blog. I have all of these ideas but my hand just won’t keep still to draw them out. I’ll give it some more time, but I’m just not feeling them squish inside, they vanish tooquickly-the funny juices that is, not the PLD’s–so I’m down to just doing the “dear diary” thing.

****

Oh yeah Saturday.

Saturday, all was flowing well. My brother dropped off Isabella at one of the local universities which will be housing her for her summer dance program. Yeah, I thought she was going to be staying with us, but that was just me jumping to conclusions. We still do plan to take her out and visit and whatnot. But I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to go to the airport since my mom and dad were running around with all of birthday preparations. And that’s what I really meant to write about.

As I’ve mentioned before, I “quit drinking,” relatively speaking. I say relatively because I have had a few drinks here and there on social occasions. The last time was on Mansie’s birthday. That night I ended up crying in B’s car.

After that I said, “No P, you shouldn’t drink, especially now that you’re mourning L’s loss”. But guess what I did Saturday? Yep. Yep. I drank. I got wasted.

Let me explain.

While everyone was eating the ribs my dad had made, I was munching away at my Spanish rice. And then ny brother shows up with his girlfriend with three  delicious glasses of expensive wine (my brother is the money-maker of my little family of four).

But… but… it’s expensive wine and he’s handing me a glass. One sip won’t hurt. Ooooh god, that’s delicious! I never get to have wine this good. Oh, yes, ok. I’ll have just ONE glass.

Well folks, one glass turned into three glasses and three glasses turned into an additional two bottles of Corona Light.

But hey, hey! Looky looky! I don’t feel teary-eyed and all depressed and shit like I normally do when I drink. No, this Corona Light has me feeling alright.

Then, I see my brother being all smochie noochies with his new girlfriend. And don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for him. We all know this one is a much more positive influence than the last one. In fact, she’s growing on me. But that’s not the point! No! I started thinking about Monkey Man L dammit! I started thinking about how fucked-up our relationship was sometimes. I started thinking about how I’d never really had a formal “boyfriend” and don’t even care to know what that means. But do I? Am I just bitter? Am i just fooling myself?

I laughed. We took pictures. Just about everyone was tipsie and I thought, God I gotta get outta here!

I noticed I was drunker than I thought. I no longer have the tolerance I used to. I went into my dad’s office which used to be my room when my brother still lived with us last year. I’ve been using his computer in that office since my laptop’s been shutting off on me again. Here, there are various types of photographic and printing studio equipment–four printers (one large-scale printer), a scanner, some card-making paper, ink-needles, an easel, paintbrushes, oils and an exact-o knife.

Wait, where’d the exact-o knife go? It was here all week? It was here a minute ago. Oh no, well shit, I better wait for everyone to leave.

Now guys, here’s where I should stand up and do my AA introduction, I suppose:

“My name is P, this here is Mouse who lives inside me and we/I am an alcoholic.”

****

While the party dwindled down to just two guests (by then even my brother and his girlfriend had left), I started reading blogs. I’m sure I left some of you drunken messages and or comments with loads of absurdities. I apologize. I know I left THAM an annoying comment about Luna and I do not care to look at it. I also professed my love to Totsymae. Lady, I don’t regret professing my love to you though!

What I do regret is what follows. And I do say regret is a silly thing but let’s roll with it until I flush it out.

I searched for that exact-0-knife and I started listening to my dear Fiona which was probably a poor move because although I love her voice, I was not in a good mindset. It only amplified my woe. And, I just did the slicing with my nails. Not much, but I did. I tore at myself and nails are too blunt, not sharp and fine like exact-o knives. It was ridiculous.

Eventually, everyone was gone and I took a painkiller from the few I had left. Once again, I went on looking for that exact-o-knife. I really had an urge that wouldn’t quiet then. And that’s the thing about alcohol. It completely lowers my ability to resist this type of self-harm. With me, drinking and cutting have always come together. I can’t seem to separate the two. I hate to admit this. I need to get it through my thick skull if I’m going to tame this beast: You, P, cannot drink! Simple.

I eventually gave up on the exact-o-knife search. Maybe the heavens were looking out for me. Maybe Monkey Man L was looking out for me. I don’t know. All I know is it wasn’t here and it wasn’t in the other office. It had been here in this office all week and I’d been resisting it. Then comes Saturday and it’s missing. And since alcohol lowers inhibitions, all resisting from me was down to almost zero.  In spite of not finding the knife, I did some other kind of injury instead. I’m not proud of it.

I was crying in that office like a battered child–only I’d battered myself–calling out to L repeatedly. All I remember is mumbling some nonsense about how hard it’s been to live without him.

Not so simple is it?

****

I need to find a way to tell my family that I cannot be around alcohol as much as I’ve been. I mean, they’ve practically been waving it under my nose. But I want to be the one that says no. Kids, um just say no. I don’t want to tell them, “Hey, if you see me with a bottle in my hand, snatch it from me.”

I don’t.

Mr. Mackey says to P, “Uh, mmmkay, so alcohol is also bad P, ’cause you can’t seem to control yourself or your Melancholically Manic Mouse, mmmkay? Mmmkay P?”

Mmmkay Mr. Mackey. Mmmkay.

****

I did finally get a call back from the university where Ex-Young Therapist used to work. I’ll be seeing my new therapist Monday! I think that’s a good thing, no?!

I’m extremely nervous about meeting her on Monday, about so many things going all at once. I’ve been invited to a meeting, so I’m planning on being “involved” again. Can I do it? I hope so. I hope I don’t just drop everything half way. Hope is still flickering within, it’s just that I have to keep re-lighting it. That’s all.

I got a message from A.F. That was warming. Yes yes, things are looking up kid. Don’t mind the slip up. Oh yes, so much to do! Don’t panic. Shhhh. Calm. Calm. Quietly breath. They are lookin’ up kid. Just keep swimming when you can; just keep swimming when you can’t.

*minor trigger warning. mention of the death of sometimes-lover/mostly best friend aka Monkey Man L, other general depressive shit and brief mention of self-harm*

********

Dear Dotty’s Words of Wisdom: Grieving for the Mentals Can Be Worse  

Dear Dotty was right. There’s something I knew but hadn’t been giving much attention to, not enough attention to at least. A trigger. A trigger beyond triggers, a stressor beyond stressors has set all of me bouncing more and more off the walls, down the corridor, down he street, like a rubber ball down a seemingly endless cobbled stone road. It’s the loss of Monkey Man L.

Yes Dear Dotty, thank you dear. Much of what I’m going through is grief. But how much of it adds to the mental mix dear lovely lady? That’s what I wanna know.

Today marks the second month of his death. JUST TWO MONTHS AGO! ONLY two months ago! Actually, we don’t even know if he died that day or two days before. It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. All I know is that on March 22, I got the horrible call.  What is up with people dying at twenty-seven? Fuck, I’m about to be twenty-seven.

Sigh. I don’t even know if he died by his own hands or if his body just gave out from the combination of his past self-abuses and his present condition as well as the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). His spine was compressing his chest, he’d become a chain smoker, etc.

All I know is that I’d seen him a week before. And a few days after, when I saw the Rapper K, I talked to him on the phone. And that was the last conversation we had. He didn’t pick up my other calls that weekend. I only got a measly text message in reply, saying, “I just want to be left alone right now sweety”. So that’s what I did. I left him alone. And that was the last time I talked to him. The day I’d seen him that week before, he looked terrible.

In the post I wrote about him after the funeral, I mentioned doing my best not to let myself fall into guilt. Well, sometimes that guilt tries to come up and take over.

He was found in his apartment sitting on the couch as if he were watching T.V. That’s all I know. And I keep thinking I could’ve been there; I SHOULD’VE been there. And I know this has me bouncing more that I would have been.

Then there’s the added factor that I was ALREADY falling, spiraling into a deep depression–I don’t even like using that word, “depression”–but that’s what we’ll call it and that’s how I was before his death. Depressed. And now what?

February was hell, then March came with the news. “He’s gone”.

This. THIS is one reason why I’ve been so much more mental than my usual mental. That, and in terms of this week, it could be the hormones added to the mix. I think this week I’m having the PMSS. That extra S was put there on purpose. It’s what I call the Premenstrual Suicidal Syndrome. It’s when my suicidals get more intense just before the cycle. I know the APA has a name for it, it’s premenstrual dysphoric disorder but fuck their labels and their making everything a disorder.

I’m just bouncing too much. Off the charts…

Looking back on that trigger my brother’s girlfriend set off when she innocently mentioned Vicodin, I realize it was actually a double trigger, no a triple trigger. One, it reminded me of what I’d done to myself the Sunday before last–or was it Monday?–anyhow, it reminded me of the incident. Two, it reminded me of my own problems with painkillers in the past. Three, it reminded me of Monkey Man L and his addiction. And that, THAT was the ultimate trigger because I was fucked for the rest of the night (it wasn’t the good fucked, nope).

No one prepares you for what you’ll feel when you loose someone you cared for so much. No one. We were co-dependent. We had an intense, tumultuous relationship. No one prepares you for grief just like no one prepares you for the feeling you’ll get when you become a parent. Sure there are books out there on parenting and on grief (what a lovely combo no?) but they don’t actually TEACH you how to FEEL about being a parent or how to FEEL  about a LOVED ONE when that loved one is no longer there to say anything back.

This was not my idea of “(mis)adventures of a mentally unstable” mouse. When I started this blog, I had meant to write about my past misadventures not my present ones. But life has a funny way of throwing more at you. They say things come in threes and they did. First, my face and the Bell’s Palsy; then, my arm, and lastly, my L.

Threes. One. Two. THREE. I wonder if there’s some sort of cosmic thing in that or if we’re just trying to make sense of what seems so incomprehensible.

Then after Dear Dotty reminded me, I began to think about mental illness and grief–there’s another set of words I don’t like to use “mental illness”. I think my dislike for the term has something to do with my Christian Science upbringing, though I suspect it’s much more complex than that.

****

But is it really much more difficult for a mental? This grief thing. I mean, can it send an already distraught person over the edge? Of course it can! If it can send a non-mental over the edge, then fuck… Then again, I think what makes the most difference in grief is the nature of the loss. I had such a turbulent relationship with him and I know this will make my grief more complicated. Also, the the fact that he died so tragically at such a young age complicates the grieving process further. The nature of this grief is inherently complicated.

After the incident last week or the week before last or god knows when (I forget), I talked to the New Male Therapist-Who-Is-Really-a-She and told her what had happened, the freaky dream about him, the thoughts, the pills, more or less descriptively than here. I find it easier to write feelings out than to talk about them. My writing is stronger than my verbal communication. Maybe that’s what makes me a “poet”, ha, then again, maybe that’s just what makes me become more mental. Anyway, I told her, strangely enough, that the week before last, I’d began obssessing about my hearing loss again–something I hadn’t done in months.

“Could it be I’m combining my griefs?” I asked her.

“Yeah, possibly,” she replied.

****

Stages of Grief

According to the Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages to grief . They are:

  1. Denial (a funny one that denial)
  2. Anger (my best friend who’s no good for me… Actually, that’s not entirely true. In small doses, anger is motivating. Anger is part of our innate autonomic response to danger. It tells us a lot about our experience.)
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression (oh look another friend)
  5. Acceptance (when? six months from now? a year? years? a lifetime?)
Yesterday, after a family friend was over, I found myself crying in the bathtub again. Why does washing dishes and showering go so well with crying? Anyway, I found myself BARGAINING. Of all the stages, that’s the one I said I wouldn’t get into. Silly me, saying what my brain will or won’t do. It wills itself sometimes.

I was there crying, “Dear god, I’ll take his place. No, wait, I’ll take the six fractures he had after that accident last year. I’ll take more. Fuck, fractures are nothing, I’ll take as many as it takes. Just bring him back!”

These stages aren’t quite lined out in chronological order. I mean, mainly they are, but you can experience them simultenously or even switch from one to another and then back again. I found I’ve just gone all over the place. It’s my style of doing things.

But I’m too lazy to go all out and write about these stages. Besides, this post is getting long and I’m opting for non-monumentally long posts at the moment.

So here’s a great little post by Sailor Carrie titled “The Five Stages of Grief”.

********

Emotional Instability, Repression and Acceptance in the “Borderline” Mind

Another dear fellow blogger’s recent comment brought something else to mind. Well, two things: 1. I have no close friends or FEEL like I have no close friends and, 2. I don’t know how to open up to people which is why I feel like I don’t have close friends.

Isn’t it funny that I find it easier to run a knife down my thigh than to tell my dad “I’m upset”? Or that I find it easier to pop a dozen pills than to call a friend and say, “I need someone to talk to”?

Yeah, quite funny P.

The support network we mentals generally need but often neglect or just plain don’t have, that’s what came to mind. We often lack support strategies or non-destructive exit-strategies, coping mechanisms, distress tolerance, or call it what you will.

If I didn’t have maladaptive coping mechanisms and maladaptive friendship patterns, I wouldn’t have been in therapy in the first place. That’s what the therapist was for–for DBT, CBT and retraining on how I can reach out to people more effectively.

In responce to said fellow blogger’s comment, I said, ” I have trouble with communication”. I was a communications major; another funny thing P. But that’s what’s at the core here. Fellow blogger suggested friends, which is great, but I have trouble with friends. Aren’t people too busy to talk to nowadays anyway?

Getting myself to actually TALK to friends was something I was working out in therapy before Young Therapist had to leave. See, I said in my comment, “a ‘healthy’ coping mechanism someone without a dysfunction might have is to run to a friend in time of deep distress. I do the opposite. I run into a hole and throw on a cover and don’t let anyone in, which only makes it worse in the end. Despite knowing this, I find it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to just reach out and say ‘I’m desperate…'”

A therapist can do something a friend can’t but a friend can do something a therapist can never do–be a fountain of mutual support. That is, if you have a good friend and therapist to begin with.

Why do I have such a terrible difficulty reaching out to people? Why can’t I express negative emotions besides anger?

Here I am, deeply in need, needing to confide in a friend all the while feeling completely unable to. Sadly, I can’t think of but one friend I’m comfortable talking about this “suicidal” stuff with and she’s pretty mental, so I can only let her have so much. She’s the BPD friend I mentioned in earlier posts, the one who I keep at close distance. Besides her, there was L and well, fuck, he’s gone! ha. He’s the reason I started this post.

Not being able to talk to people about my emotions, or just not reaching out and having enough social interaction to begin with is what the Young Therapist was trying to get me through; it’s what we were working on, finding solutions for. Sure, I can talk to people at parties or in social situations. I seem “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) but really, I’m not. I’m constantly thinking, “Oh my god, I wanna get out of here, I wanna get out of here,” and if I’m not thinking that, I’m thinking something else that’s pretty similar to that.

I just can’t think of a friend I can confide in and that just made me very sad to think about, realizing how lonely I’ve let myself become. I’m glad I live with my parents and little Luna is the best, but I’m becoming uh oh, here it goes, “empty”?

B., a friend from college came by last week. I wasn’t able to make it to his graduation so he stopped by. How nice of him, right?  And I wasn’t able to tell him about L because he came by with his mother who just came in from AUSTRALIA(!) and well, I was being a good host. I was meeting his mother for the first time so telling him was out of the question.

Eloise, who lives in Florida, was the only person I’d told but well, she lives in Florida. She called me last week and I haven’t been able to muster the courage to call her back. Yes, it actually takes some courage from me to call people! Even the close friends like Eloise (oh wait, I do have a close friend)! Because calling people gives me anxiety!

Maribel also knows. I told her only because she’d called me to tell me her mom died and she needed someone to talk to. Funny, I can be the support but not reach out and ask for it.

It would be nice if L and I had mutual friends because then I’d be able to call them up and say, “Hey man, yeah, you miss him too?” But we didn’t have any mutual friends. Not one.

Only A.F., his stepsister, but she lives all the way up in New York City and even so, she hasn’t called me again after I called her and we had our last talk a month ago. She’s probably really busy with her little three-year-old and the baby.

I can’t even talk to my brother about most of this. I mean, sure my brother’s been kinder to me. He’s a sweetheart. But we are just beginning to rebuild the bridge I’d burned between us last year. See, six months ago, my brother and I were not in speaking terms.

“I’m not talking to your fuckin’ crazy ass again! Don’t contact me, just don’t!” he’d said.

Yeah. I’d pushed him away again.

I know telling him some of this might even make our rekindling stronger, but then I get discouraged. Every time I try to bring up the BPD diagnosis, he seems a bit aloof like he’s not really listening (of course, that could just be my misinterpretation). I haven’t even been able to muster the guts to show him that Five Faces of Borderline video I posted, which I think he’d find funny. I just, ugggh. I mean, I listened to him rant about his OCD. Why is it so difficult for me to simply do this?

Emotional Acceptance

I started looking up information about BPD and the inability to express certain emotions. I found these really good, really simple and straightforward  links:

How Accepting Emotions Can Improve Your Emotional Health (from about.com)

Defining Invalidation as a risk factor for developing BPD 

Post Traumatic Stress, BPD and Suppressing Emotions (from about.com)

A common string I’ve found connecting a lot of this BPD literature is the notion of invalidation. Invalidating environments is a hallmark for BPD.

See, I always assumed invalidation equated to neglect. But “I WAS NEVER NEGLECTED” I’d say to myself. Yet I realize invalidation can come in so many flavors. For L, it WAS CLASSICAL neglect. His mother would get high and leave him on the toilet for hours. She’d forget to feed him. Yeah. My parents ALWAYS made sure to feed me. When my mother couldn’t, my grandmother would. Even at our hardest times, when my dad was getting bread baskets from a local church, I WAS ALWAYS fed. Well fed!

So what flavors did my invalidation come in then? I wonder. My parents never outright said, “Don’t express yourself P! Don’t talk about your emotions P! We don’t wanna hear you crying P! None of that in this house P.” No, not at all.

Then I begin to think, of course! My invalidation is definitely there. I can see it. I can see it in my Christian Science years. I can see it in my mom running away when I screamed in agony in the hospital beds. I can see it before then. I can see it in a very subtle way. Invalidation for me was not overt.

I’ll give you an example. By the time I became a toddler, I stopped crying when I’d break a bone. I mean shit, after you’ve had your fiftieth fracture well before your fifth birthday, you just don’t cry about that shit anymore–unless it’s a femur, because femur fractures FUCKIN HURT LIKE HELL!

So my parents interpreted my not crying about fractures as: “This here is a brave one! Much braver than her wimpy brother! She doesn’t cry about ANYTHING.”

And I interpreted that as: “I have to be the brave one. Be BRAVE P! BEING BRAVE IS ALL YOU CAN BE. Braver than my cry-baby hermanito! I cannot let people discover that I DO cry. I cannot let people see me cry or else they’ll see I’m a faker! And no one likes a faker! I’m a mean challenger!” I think that’s more or less how I started to develop my calloused sense of self.

Then there was my mom’s bullying. “And blah blah blah smack, blah blah, BLAH BLAH BLAH, smack smack SMACK, SMAAAACK.” You just can’t let a bully see you cry. That would only give them power over you and you wouldn’t want that.

Just yesterday my dad asked me, “Have you been crying?”

“Yes, but sometimes I cry you know,” I replied trying to be assertive of my discovery.

And he replied with something about him not being able to withstand my crying because it tore him up inside.He didn’t say this in a way to hurt me. He said this as his way of expressing his OWN hurt, sure and his love. It was a bit selfish though. It’s maladaptive but he doesn’t know better. It works for him. He was hurting when he saw my swollen eyes.

I realize that now. He just doesn’t know how or understand how someone like me can twist those words up; how someone like me can distort them so. He doesn’t know how to effectively express his hurt while acknowledging and validating my hurt and my need to let it out.

That’s my flavor of invalidation. The child me, years back, would’ve seen this as, “Oh no! I must NEVER ever let him see me upset again or cry in front of him because it will DESTROY him! TEAR HIM UP INSIDE! And I don’t want to destroy dear daddy. No, I cannot kill my papi.”

********

I’ve been thinking about texting Warrior D. She’s a friend who also just graduated. Just got her masters in Social Work. She’s someone I’ve been getting kinda close to in the last year or so. Oh yeah, she’s the other person I told. She’s great at listening. Trouble is, I tried to get her to meet up with me after L’s death and she got back to me but didn’t follow through with plans. I understand she was in the middle of her end of semester mayhem but it hurt me to wait, expecting to talk and go for tea and then not. So now I’m hesitant. This is why I feel I do need therapy still. Young Therapist would help me find ways to deal with this situation and call Warrior D. Truth is, I said in my last post that I’ve gotten along all these years before without a therapist. But come to think of it, I JUST BARELY got by.

I might’ve/might end up like L if I would’ve kept getting by the way I was.

****

addendum: I went swimming yesterday evening at my mom’s friend’s gym and it was awesome! Took pictures of the cold, cold water.

NOTE: This is not to be taken as medical advice. I am not a mental health professional. I am only a mental. 😉 The guy in the video and myself, however, are well intentioned and know this stuff from personal experience. Also, May is Borderline Personality Disorder awareness month.

I really enjoy most of this guy’s videos (see below). I can really relate to his type of BPD though I can’t seem to make out where his accent could be from…

Anyway, I wanted to share this one in particular. What he describes in this video is what some BPD experts refer to when they talk about “splitting”, although much of the time splitting is only used to refer to the extreme black and white thinking patterns (aka cognitive distortions) someone with BPD tends to have. Now, everyone has contradictory thoughts. And everyone criticizes themselves and then tells themselves they’re good and that they’re no good, but the difference is intensity–extreme proportions, severity and severance of self–and the problems this severe severance of self creates in the person’s life.

Internal splitting dialogue goes something like this for me in regards to self-perception:

“I am a wonderful person. I am worth a lot. I’m needed. I am a horrible person. I am completely worthless. I’m a burden to my family.”

or

“No, I’m not a liar. Why would I lie about that? I don’t like to lie. I prefer telling the truth, no matter what. I’m a liar! I’m a fuckin’ liar. Just admit it P, say it, say ‘I lie and I lie and I compulsively lie’. It doesn’t matter if it’s about the little things. It can be the big things too. How do you know? One day I may lie about something big. I lie to myself already and I lie to you!”

or

“I’m so kind and loving. I feel so empathic. I love to love and help others. I do great things for others! I enjoy it. I enjoy bringing a smile to people’s faces. I feel so heartless. I’m so fuckin’ evil; I need to be killed before I seriously hurt someone! What if I kill someone?”

or

“Everyone loves me! I’m brilliant. They tell me so all the time. I know just what to say to make people feel good and they appreciate me for it. Everyone, hates me. Hates me. Hates me. All I do is insult people in the worst possible ways. I’m such an idiot. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why else would he be criticizing you like that P? Because you’re fuckin’ stupid that’s why. You’re mean and stupid. How can you be so stupid P? How can anyone ever love someone this stupid? So mean!”

or

“I LOVE YOU ALL SO, SO, SO MUCH. COME OVER HERE SO I CAN GIVE YOU ALL A HUGE HUG AND A KISS. I FUCKIN HATE YOU ALL! FUCK OFF ALL OF YOU. AND FUCK YOU ON THE WAY OUT THE DOOR YOU FUCKIN’ FUCKERS!”

Once the punitive parent has her way with me, beating me ceaselessly, I crash on the floor and whimper and twitch and am lost like a puppy that’s been kicked; that’s my abused child. Afterward, I become completely detached, empty–the detached protector has taken over.

****

The borderline really believes these things though they are often contradictory and completely opposing thoughts–thinking patterns become ping-pongs bouncing in polar opposites. I am very much this way even though I restrain myself and am often aware of how ridiculous my thinking gets. BUT, I still somehow BELIEVE myself when I begin to think that I am this way and then that way. I do not allow for in-between in my self-view, my reflection. My world view gets tainted like a cup of water when a drop of blank ink is dropped into it. No grey areas in my view of situations come in when I’m having “an episode”. I jump from one end of the court to the next–no middle ground, no safety net.

The worst is that the beliefs do not go away; they settle all cosy in between my ears as I argue with them. They kinda just sit there and laugh. And I argue and argue. When that happens, the beliefs become so strong they turn into emotions; they become my Pretty Little Demons. And I end up feeling intensely like an open wound–so intensely that I just wish someone would shoot me just to end the intensity of emotions rushing through.

I imagine it’s worse than turning into the Hulk. At least the Hulk gets to kick some ass every now and then. Speaking of the Hulk, The Avengers comes out tomorrow! Wooop.

So splitting, I think you get it now. Kinda right?

Enjoy!

addendum: I find it funny that he places the “healthy adult” far off into the right corner. Like ole healthy adult don’t come out to play much. Also, he’s got pretty hands, don’t you think?

I’m on the border y’all.

Not only am literally on the border (Texas borderlands) but I’m also on the border mentally.

It’s “official”.

It’s set on paper with nice black ink–though not in stone or anything–but it was kept from me, KEPT FROM ME!

Kept from ME by my own therapist, my Young Therapist.

Guys I’m going to warn you. Before you go any further with this post, know this: I’m actually going to be serious for a moment and I’m going to be saying some things that are not easy for me to say. I’m going to say some things that may be triggering to some of you. AND, I’m going to be serious without cursing! (Yeah, I know!)

Here’s where I bore you to death or at least until you’re nearly as suicidal as me. *trigger warning*

********

Let me explain, I suspected it ever since Young Therapist let it slip that her dissertation/PhD concentration is on Borderline Personality Disorder. In fact, I suspected it long before then. I suspected it nearly two years ago when I started with her and she gave me these handouts on dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). When we began, I’d get packets–one after another. I’d get a new packet every week and now I have a damn book’s worth of packets in a folder. A chapter on mindfulness, a chapter on progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing, a chapter on DEAR MAN, another on Cognitive Restructuring of Mental Distortions and Distress Tolerance and the list goes on.

One day I asked Miss Young Therapist about this Dr. Marsha Linehan who was the author (you could read it on the fine print on the bottom of the handouts). Young therapist answered that Dr. Linehan was pretty much the mother of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) which is primarly used on borderline patients.

“But just because I’m giving you these packets P., doesn’t mean I’m saying you’re a borderline patient.”

That was, until I had my last session with her on Wednesday this week. The first half hour or so we did the usual, “How are you doing this week? Wha’ts going on? And this and that.”

I’d brought my “release of information” form signed for her so she could send my files to the new therapist I’ll be seeing at the community clinic. I was waiting for her to bring up the termination thing and sure enough she did.

“So, this is our last session,” she sighed, “is there anything you want to say?”

“Yep, it is.” I looked intently, sighed, then looked away towards my wheelchair where I’d placed my folder. “Oh, I brought the release form signed. I went to the clinic and found out the name of my new therapist and got the fax number and everything here for you.”

I pulled it out of the folder and handed it to her.

I went on and told her that I’d like a copy of the two reports she’ll be faxing in to them–the “Termination Summary” and “Intake Evaluation Report”–because since it’s a community hospital she can’t just send it directly to the therapist. And I added that since it would have to go through the medical records office which can take over a month, she might as well give me a copy of each just in case.

“Yes, of course, I’ll give you a copy when we head out.”

I wasn’t lying about the medical records office. They’re terrible! But, I did do something with double intention there. I wanted to get a hold of my records without being too obvious about it. I know right? Why couldn’t I just upright and tell her I wanted a copy? Why was I so nervous about that? It’s the dynamics I tell you, and my own anxiety and hesitance.

We went on to discuss what I’d benefited most from and she asked what I thought I’d become better at handling. I mentioned some of the mindfulness stuff and managing my anger. She said that I was one of the most “committed clients” she’d worked with as well as one of the clients with the most extreme life stressors. “You’ve had to deal with more than most people. And you’ve done extremely well considering that, I think,” she said.  She went on with the whole patting me on the back, flattering, and good job thing. I don’t doubt she was being honest though. She genuinely seemed pleased with my overall progress.

When we went out to the front desk and I paid her my dues, she wished me luck with the new therapist again and said bye. I thanked her and then just stared at her for a minute.

“Yes?” she asked looking confused.

“Um, aren’t you going to print out the Termination Record so I can have a copy?”

“Oh, oh, right.”

I don’t know why, maybe I’m just overly critical, but I once again felt she was holding back on me. She could’ve honestly forgotten but I don’t know.

Anyway, she printed it out and handed it to me and said, “If there’s anything you have questions about, about what’s on here, feel free to call me.” She gave me this look I can’t describe. It’s was a sort of apologetic look.

“Ok.” I looked at the paper and said, “This is just the termination summary, can I get the intake evaluation report as well?”

“Uh, mmm, I don’t know, I’ll really have to ask my supervisor about this P. Sorry.”

Again, I felt a little put off. But oh well, I figure I’ll call in a week and ask for her supervisor and try to get it directly from him.

*******

When I was in the car I began reading the termination summary, and read something that shocked me a bit it. At the end of the report, it read:

Diagnosis:
Axis I
296.32 Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, Moderate

Axis II
301.83 Borderline Personality Disorder

Axis III
Disease of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue: Osteogenesis [Imperfecta] <–She’d left out the imperfecta part.

Axis IV
Occupational problems
Economic problems
Problems with access to healthcare services

Axis V
GAF Current: 75
GAF Long Term: 55

What shocked me was the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. But why? I had suspected it even though she never told me, ever, and even though I’m not big on holding to a diagnosis. What I mean is, I take a diagnosis with a grain of salt, a BIG grain of salt. They are merely there to draw a delineation the person’s major mental problems and a course of action.

BUT, then again, I contradict myself, because a part of me was and has been desperate, yearning even for some sort of label. With that I would have proof! I know, me wanting a label sounds shocking in and of itself! See I’d gotten a bipolar label after my monumental mental meltdown in 2008. That was the first time I’d seen a mental health professional in my life. And I got diagnosed only after the second session.

I’ll tell you though, getting something on paper felt like a relief then. It was a validation. I could no longer tell myself (even though I still do): “See P, you’re just making all this up. There’s nothing wrong with you. All of humanity is insane anyway! And you, you’re just weak! You’re just crying over nothing. Go on, cry like a baby over nothing. Always have! The baby you’ve always been. You can stop all this, you know? You’re just making it up anyway. They were right about you, your family and everyone! You and your antics and your dramatics. That’s all it is! There’s no such thing as mental illness girl! Yeah little, stupid, little selfish girl. You don’t need their help. You don’t deserve it either. Just straighten up and quit the crying! Quit it! Quit hitting your head against the wall and get that damn razor out of your hand!”

So you see, getting it in paper meant that I wasn’t just being dramatic as I’ve always been called. I’ve held my little BP label as a trophy even, in a sort of twisted way but I don’t think people can truly understand what I mean until they’ve been there in front of that psychiatrist or therapist looking like hell (oops, just a little curse).

Then, I didn’t stick around with that first psychiatrist in the spring of 2008.

“I hate them all! Nothing but drug dealers for the Big Pharma Co.s, nothing but pill pushers. They don’t care about you.” And then I caved and went back to another and then another and another all in the span of a year.

I eventually landed myself in one of the university psychiatrist’s hands by pleas and begging of my first therapist.

“Please go. Just try it,” she’d say.

So I went.

****

You? bipolar? I’m not sure. No se. Vamos a ver. I doubt it. But I’ll have to see more of you to be sure. Nos daremos cuenta con el tiempo,” he said.

He was an old Cuban man and I hated him the instant I saw him (not because he’s Cuban yall; I’m Colombian remember, so there’s a lot not to like there 😉 I kid). I just got a terrible vibe from him. I didn’t trust any psychiatrist then (am still hesitant) and I sure as hell didn’t trust some old mangy one covered in liver spots.

“I don’t think I’m going back there,” I told my first counselor/therapist, the one I was seeing at the university’s psychological services center (this is not the same place where Young Therapist works. Young therapist works at the College of Social Sciences in the Psychology  department).

“P. you really should go see a psychiatrist to help you stabilize those mood swings,” the counselor said. “Look if you don’t want to see that man, there’s this really good psychiatrist, just came back. She was going to retire but decided not to just yet.”

Needless to say she finally convinced me to go and I returned.

An awkward moment occurred when I went to see this new “good psychiatrist” and Dr. Cuban Liverspots said hi to me when he was marching with his coffee cup on the way to his office, right next to new “good psychiatrist’s”! Well, turns out this was the third or fourth psychiatrist (I honestly don’t remember how many I’d seen by then) and she said that I did not have bipolar (BP). But she didn’t say what it was that I did have. If it wasn’t BP, then what I wondered. I never asked though. I guess I can be passive in that sense. The only thing I knew, is when I went to the cash register to pay, the bill read, “Major Depressive Disorder” (MDD) and “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” (GAD).

At least I got my answer, I thought. That’s when the alphabet soup of my psychological disorders got spicy. I now had a gumbo soup of disorders.

Then this! This Borderline Personality Disorder. It sounds so macabre! So fantastical. So unreal. So STIGMATIZING! I’m sorry to break it to you guys, my dear BP internet buddies but my belief is that as stigmatizing as BP is (and it really is), the BPD label is ten times more. Why? I’ll explain in part two.

****

“What?! You got that borderline personality disorder!? What is that? Is that like when you have multiple personalities? OH MY GOD, you got multiple personalities P? You gonna go Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde on me P?”

“No! Come on! I don’t have multiple personality disorder, that’s not even called that by the way; it’s been updated by the APA. It’s now called dissociative identity disorder, Dee-Eye-Dee (DID). I’m just me, the one and only PAZ. I’m still the melancholically manic mouse, only now I fit the ICD and DSM and [insert random acronyms for other diagnostic manuals] criteria of a borderline meloncholically manic mouse. I’m a borderline melancholically manic mouse  is all. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a very unstable environment though my family was always tightly knitted and mostly very loving. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to deal with a lot of traumatic events, especially in my childhood so I’m somehow ’emotionally scarred’. Maybe I regress to childhood if you were to ask Freud, though the behavioralists wouldn’t agree. Maybe my brain does fire off too quickly, and if that’s the case, the pharmas are more than happy to hear. Maybe my limbic system has a malfunction and thus, my amygdala is hyperactive or hypersensitive; maybe it’s a genetic mutation like my malformed bones and that’s why I’m so quick to rage. Or maybe I was conditioned to rage by my mother’s rage and abuse. The behavioralists would agree with that one. Maybe I do have a shortage of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin or GABA or some other neurotransmitter. Maybe I don’t, but maybe I do, and maybe I have all of the above or none of the above. All I know is I have the emotional stability of a five year-old. I guess it fits my toddler height.”

Really, how do you explain all that? It just makes my alphabet/acronym soup spicier and more foreign than a crunchy Samosa plate served with dhaal soup.

Mmmm. Samosa.

********

Alright, some of you may know what this is already, this BPD and BP and Axis I and Axis II nonsense, but to those of you who don’t and are interested, let me explain what some of this is  (it’s a good thing I’m a nerd that’s into psychology and I have several books on it).

When I got home, you best believe I dug out those books from my book shelf.

First, the various “Axis” levels go like this:

Axis degrees are used as intersections of a person’s main mental problems in order to diagnose a mental disorder. Each Axis affects the overall diagnosis as each affects/intersects and correlates with the other.

Axis I: clinical disorders.    
Symptoms that cause distress or significantly impair societal or occupational functioning such as anxiety disorders, major depression, bipolar disorders, etc.

Axis II: personality disorders and mental retardation disorders. (now why’d they have to dump me in with the mental retardation folks? It’s just like they did when I was in PE class in middle school! P in PE with the retarded kids.)
Chronic and enduring problems that generally persist throughout life and impair interpersonal or occupational functioning.

Axis III: general medical condition.    
Physical disorders that may be relevant to understanding or treating a psychological disorder.

Axis IV: current psychosocial and environmental problems.    
Problems (such as interpersonal stressors and negative life events) that may affect the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of psychological disorders.

Axis V: global assessment functioning (GAF).
The individual’s overall level of functioning in social, occupational, and leisure activities. (Now I’m not going to go into detail with this one but if you want more info go here. You probably won’t though since no one clicks my links. hehe

****

Then there’s the Borderline (BPD) diagnosis. I had already known about BPD but again, I thought if anything I fit more into the BP criteria (tell me if this is getting confusing). I could just relate to those who have BP, who I’ve  talked to either face-to face or in online forums. The BPD people folks though, I said to myself, are said to be manipulative and I’m not manipulative, no, no I’m not. Am I? No. I’m not.

I’m not going to talk about the major depressive (MDD) diagnosis because that was a given for me.

So a very, very short description of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is that it is essentially a disorder of extreme and pervasive emotional disregulation characterized by impulsivity and instability in moods, relationships and self-image. (Karen Huffman)

None of this is catch all, you see. We are still people with unique personalities and cultures, histories and separate though connecting lives. We’re individuals, even those like myself who now have had the personality disorder diagnosis slapped on.

****

I cried uncontrollably for about two hours Wednesday night. It could’ve been PMS and a thought about L. I don’t know why I didn’t get so worked up about the other diagnosis (Dx) in my past. Then it dawned on me the more I thought about it. Could it be that  it’s because I think it’s actually the most accurate Dx I’ve had to date? And then, could it be that this has made me subconsciously think about all of the things I’ve been through, all that I’ve done? All the extremes in my life? I mean, all the psychiatrists never saw me for who I was. They never saw me more than twenty minutes at most and once every month or two (again, at most).

Young Therapist did see me for who I was, at least partly. She saw me for an hour every week for almost a year, then every two weeks for another. And she had me do tests and talk about so many things which I never did with the others. Young Therapist actually saw me cry. I cry a river damn near ever day when I get depressed but I don’t cry in front of people! And Young Therapist saw me get shaky to the point of telling her I had to puke, to the point of having to put my arms down and sit on them. Young Therapist, if anyone, would know how to diagnose me. So maybe I cried because I got the sense that not only did I get diagnosed with a very severe, very misunderstood and stigmatized disorder (albeit relatively treatable), but I felt for the first time they got to the core of me. Maybe, I was also crying out of relief.

In order to qualify (ha,  “qualify” like a merit) as having BPD in America, you have to fit at least five of these within your problem scheme. Here are some of the criteria according to the damn (oops) DSM-IV:

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Ok this one got me. I don’t think I make frantic efforts to avoid any kind of abandonment. Do I? No, you don’t P. But maybe I fear it so much I’m in denial? Maybe P, maybe. Or maybe this one just doesn’t pertain to me. Remember, it’s not a catch all.

  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s definitely me. Just this week I said, “Damn you WordPress. You suck! Why do I bother with you,” then, “Oh Dear WordPress. Don’t leave me. I love you. You’re the best. What would I do without you?”

  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Yes. Maybe. Yes. No. Maybe. I’m the best! I’m the worst! I’ll talk about this later. What do you mean by this anyway? Of course I have an identity! It’s not disturbed. Ok. Hmmm. Maybe. I don’t know. I change my mind about what I think about myself, what I want to do with my life and many people do that right? Yes P, but not at such extremes. I doubt what my strengths are. Am I good at writing? No! But I love writing. I’m good at it. Yes? Should I stick with editing video then? But I want to write documentaries and dramatic films. I like to draw too. Could I write comics? Who am I kidding, I’m not an artist. Should I be a therapist? Yes. Yes! I’m so wise, so loving. I want to embrace everyone. No! You’re a misanthropic nihilist. Nothing fits. Am I splitting? What about the web design thing you were trying to do, and what about the multimedia journalism masters at UT? What about the Latin American Studies masters you’d thought about too P? What about your music P? What about your photography P? And what about your poems P?

Yeah, I’ll have to get back to this one later.

  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

Yes. I’m a highly reactive and highly impulsive person even though I tend to over-think things before I do them–so in that sense I’m not impulsive. I hesitate too much on doing them, say choosing a college degree or buying a flavor of yogurt or talking to someone I find attractive. My impulsivity in other aspects, however, has gotten me in trouble and put me in dangerous situations. I’ve done drugs. Many. I did cocaine with L. I was always a bummer, never a buyer. I bummed drugs off of people whenever they were offered, so I never considered myself a “real” user. I was a functioning alcoholic or as the AA people would say, I am an alcoholic in recovery.

I’ve also had phases in my life where I binge eat, particularly to deal with stress. People with BPD, especially young women tend also have a comorbid eating disorder, most notably bulimia nervosa. Though I’ve never been bulimic per se, I have always punished myself in some way or another after binging. My weight has also fluctuated drastically throughout my life. Right now I’m more on the healthy weight to slightly-underweight side.

Sex. That’s a difficult one. I was a shy, late bloomer, a wallflower. But I knew a lot about sex at a very young age. Growing up with an older brother and always hanging out with the guys, you find out about porn early on. Then I lost a close friend because of my impulsive sexual behavior. However, I’m still extremely shy, self-conscious and have issues about my body so I’ve turned down many sexual encounters due to the fact that I have terrible anxiety about it. I’m really short, have brittle bones (some of which are a bit disfigured), use a wheelchair and I always felt no one would find me attractive. I mean, really, who would find a girl in a wheelchair attractive, I’d tell myself. There are ignorant folks out there who still refuse to believe someone like me could have a thriving sexual life.

Who would find a midgety, malformed mouse attractive? So when I found out that I was found attractive indeed, when I was put on the spot, I often backed away. I’m very impulsive sexually though so there’s a tug of war going on in my head. “I can’t but I want to so bad”. Once I get comfortable enough, I’m very impulsive with sex so much so that L and two male “friends” of mine who used to called me a nymph. That’s when the alcohol and drugs come in to play as well.

Oh, and I’m also bisexual, though I mainly just identify as queer and don’t tell people I am. I guess I’m still in the closet about it.

  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

Triple yes. Though I’ve never really attempted and don’t think I make “gestures” of my suicidality to people. In fact, I try to hide it as much as possible. I don’t talk about my suicidal ideations or depression, the only exception being the therapist and even then I’m very vague about it.

As far as gestures… I don’t know. Maybe I make them and don’t realize it? There was, however, one time when I got in a huge fight with my brother not too long ago and I became a “maniac P., you’re acting like a manic! Chill! Chill! What are you…? Oh, f****, hi officer. No, no she’s alright. No, I don’t think I need to take her to the ER. She’s my sister. Yes. She just needs to sleep. I just need to get her to bed. No, I got it. Ok, yes, I’ll see if I take her to the nearest ER. I’m just getting to my apartment right around the corner. I will call them once I’m there, yes. Thank you.”

A cop had pulled us over because my brother wasn’t watching the road because he had to pull me back as I was trying to jump out of his car while screaming, “LET ME OUT”. Maybe that’s a suicidal gesture? I’m not sure. I don’t recall much of of it since I felt out of my body. I only remember sitting on the curb of some parking lot near his apartment complex that night crying and shaking uncontrollably and then, eventually, getting picked up by my dad who later said I couldn’t make a coherent sentence. Very impulsive indeed. Oh and that’s another thing with BPD. Borderlines supposedly have a tendency towards depersonalization  and derealization as well as transient psychotic or psychotic-like breaks under crisis situations, something I’m very familiar with.

Self-mutilation. Yes. I’ve never been much of a cutter, but when I have, it’s been extreme. I’m going to leave it at that. And I’d banged my head against walls ever since I was about ten or eleven or younger even. When I was in middle school, I got into the habit of scratching and slapping and punching myself and pulling bits of my hair. So triples yes on that one too. This is embarrassing guys.

  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

Yes, it’s one of the things that got me the initial Dx for bipolar. There’s something that should be said about this one though, because unlike the criteria, I usually don’t just have these episodes for only hours or days thought that is the case sometimes.

  7. chronic feelings of emptiness

Not as much as years back. It fluctuates for me. The way I see it: I fill up and then I drain, I fill up and then I drain.

  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

Yes to the power of ten. I’m a recovering rageaholic too. When I was a kid, I threw a butter knife at my brother over a simple remark he’d made and smashed all the plates. It hit him in the forehead. Fortunately, it was only a butter knife and my weak hands couldn’t throw hard enough for a blunt force to seriously hurt him. And these types of violent outbursts were not at all uncommon for me. I have dozens of similar stories ranging as early as when I was four.

  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

Yes. People are after me. I make terrible, mean comments on WordPress and that makes everyone get offended and so on and so forth. I have dissociation episodes galore. Where am I? Are those shadows moving? Are they people? Am I there and not here. I’m outside of myself!

********

Ok, I’m going to leave it here for now, but I plan to write more about BPD, what I think of all of this and all of the psychological research I’ve read about it as well as the co-morbidity of BP and BPD.

Hey? 🙂 You there?

See, I bored you to death. 😦

*Le mouse sigh*

***********************************************************************

Resources

Handbook of Personality, Third Edition: Theory and Research edited by Oliver P. John, Richard W. Robins, and Lawrence A Pervin

Psychology In Action, 6th Edition by Karen Huffman

PsychCenteral

Mayo Clinic

National Education Alliance Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA BPD)

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

About.com, Borderline Personality Disorder Guide

Wikipedia, Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD Today – DSM-IV TR Diagnostic Criteria

Milk It

slice the skin.
shed my sin.
peel the layers
of pain
like
onions.

wring the tears.
see how deep
i go.

fury

burn burn burn burn
hot oven
to throw me in,
with the rotten
coven.

one two three four
let it go,
drop,
(red red red red)
flow–
milk my mind
milk my empty
milk my worry
hollow.

© Paz

********************************************************************************************************************

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Siddhartha Guatama Buddha