March 23, 2013
… A mental Monkey Man.
Chances are that what I don’t get blogged today, I won’t blog tomorrow, so here I go before another day passes.
Yesterday was the “anniversary” of the day I got the call that Monkey Man was found dead. I don’t even know if I should call it “anniversary”. Something about the connotation of that is upsetting me. So anyway, I’ll just say, a year ago yesterday, I got the news that Monkey Man was no longer with us.
Those of you that followed me back then know the story. I will not repeat it, nor do I want to. Yesterday, I spent most of the therapy session talking about it. And slowly but surely I realize that I am moving past this. The pain will never be completely gone, but I am ok with that now. I am working at managing my life and actually FEEL ALIVE today.
Brunet Young and I discussed so much and I felt relieved. I told her how sometimes I feel “happy” that he’s gone and feel like a “bad” person for that. We later found that maybe “happy” wasn’t the right word. No, not at all.
I cried in front of her for the first time. There are just too many emotions to describe or begin to recognize when someone you love dies this way–by their own hands. And there is A LOT OF ANGER! I for one have dealt with anger management problems all of my life (common in peopole with BPD). She suggested maybe, in a way, I’m relieved, definitely not “happy” about it. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m, a “bad” person.
Why else would so many of the depressing blog posts on here be about him?
One thing I did this week was draw this portrait in memory him. A.F., his stepsister gave me this picture she took of us sometime in 2006-2007. It was what she calls the “happy summer”. Strangely enough, I was very depressed then, but Monkey Man was glowing and everyone said it was on account of me being there.
The relationship I had with him was so intense, so wonderful, so terrifying, so loving yet so abusive at times. I learned a lot from that relationship.
But I did love him and I know he loved me.
Correction, I do love him. I know he’d be proud of how well things are going for me these days. I found a text he had sent me on my phone about two months ago, it reads:
“It’s ok my love. U r one of the most powerful people i know. I wish i had the strength u have”
Art brings me comfort.
March 19, 2013
It’s almost the end of the third month into 2013. I blogged for mental health all of last year. No, no. I BEGGED for mental health all of last year. And I never pledged the pledge but I walked the walk or whatever.
My fellow Canvas bloggies have established a pledging that connects people with the mental-health blogging community. This blog has been a reflection of my personal journey in the last year and a half. My mental health has improved drastically since then. No drastically sounds too negative. It has improved INCREDIBLY.
I am at a point now where I’m not having to fight off suicidal ideations, thoughts and urges damn near every hour of everyday. I am not constantly cryin’ or having panic attacks all the time. Since the start of this blog I lost someone dear, had a ton of medical issues, and made a suicide attempt. Then I found out that my Ex-Young therapist had diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, my therapist left (that was just before the suicide attempt) and in June of 2012, I finally got back in therapy and tried different medications.
I’m still going to therapy once a week, mostly. It’s on Fridays these days. No more Thursday therapy ’cause I’m working and Brunet Young changed her schedule. Therapy has been a major lifeline, so has this blog (as I’ve mentioned dozens of times before) and my swimming. I’m still swimming despite all the shit thrown at me. I’m fortunate that my mom is still working at the gym and I’m able to go and release my demons for free, for a bit at least.
Of course I still struggle. Life is a struggle and for those with mental health issues, that struggle becomes unbearable, so painful that it kills. It is another kind of struggle in itself. But I have accomplished many of my “goals for therapy” and am still working on others.
My “stability” has settle some.
I have a bit more clarity in my life now and feeling a sense of direction, despite my many changes in course. There are so many challenges, so much more to endure and enjoy. I don’t know where I’m at with this blog. I’ve considered retiring it many times (as a “borderline” I’ll drastically change my mind from one minute to the next ha). But I think I’m giving it a go for a bit longer.
I’m continuing my pledge to write for mental health, to shout out, to show that we are not alone in this.
Please visit my Canvas family at A Canvas of the Minds. It’s a great little blog of mental health bloggers and shenanigans!
Oh oh. And I ALMOST forgot. Thank you Laura/Soul Survivor for pledging me this year. You can find her blog, Bipolar for Life by clicking the link.
September 10, 2012
My aunt committed suicide at a young age, my mother attempted three times, and I have also attempted. This is a very important subject to talk about.
August 23, 2012
I’ve been filling out the applications for immigration (USCIS)– well, as much as I can get done on my own–before I see the lawyer at the university next week.
Last night, my dad gave me a folder of some of my old elementary and high school grades/teacher reports since I’ll need proof of records that I studied in the U.S. for many years. It’s required for the DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) application which would give me a work permit. No legal residence, just a work permit (aka SSI#) valid for only two years. So much for citizenship. Twenty-two years in this country and I’ll only have a work permit to show for. Ain’t that a motha–?
Well, somethin’s better than nothin’.
There were some funny comments from old teachers. How I had potential and needed to apply myself more.
“P has potential. She does good work when she applies herself!” and “P is receiving an hour tutoring from —-” and “P, remember to finish your homework!” and “P has improved this quarter. She is in ESL Level II [that’s English as a second language]” and “P does really well when she’s able to concentrate” and “P, keep reading every night! Good job [smiley sticker]” are just a few of teacher’s notes from third grade.
What’s funny is my dad kept them but he never really read them due to his limited understanding of English at the time. I’m guessing he saw the smiley stickers and thought, “Ok, she’s good”. I could’ve easily sneaked by with failing grades in high school because my parents never knew when progress reports came out. Good thing I was a damn good student, despite the depression. I could see when I was depressed because my straight As would fall to all As, two or three Bs and an F. Id go from being on the honor roll to being in academic probation. Every time.
This got me to snooping around some of my old notebooks I have hidden in my room. ha. And I found this from when I was 16 years old.
God, that was a depressing year.
On the page next to it, I have a sort of poem. It says:
written when high…
These are my snow-covered dreams.
I’d take back all that shit I said to make you feel like that.
I’d give it all to have the thought of me in you again.
These are my snow covered tears.
I try… but I fall apart…
Thwarted tattered imbecile.
I don’t think I was in a very coherent state of mind then, obviously.
Note: I think, if I remember correctly, this was written the first time I tried weed. (It would be a while until I’d try it again.) I was out in the backyard all by my lonesome self, freezing my little ass off. I lit a match and accidentally burned a few eyelashes since the wind was howling. When I drove the wheelchair back inside, I ate a whole bag of pretzels and wrote that “poem” and then crashed. I also used to have an eyebrow piercing at the time. I guess that’s what that is on the sketch’s eyebrow.
July 29, 2012
Fuck my bleeding ears! I’m trying to stay positive. I really am. I’m relying on my inner wisdom.
And these days, I’m maintaining a better outlook more than not, which is the complete opposite of what could be said a month and half ago. I feel funny though, and not previous-post funny. The anxiety has just been maddening.
On Friday night, when I hung out with my brother, I ended up staying over the night. Well, around 4am (as usual these days), I woke up with chest pain, feeling like I was having a heart attack. You’re not having a heart attack P. This is just anxiety. I was nauseated, felt the same old prickly feeling in my toes and hands and was shivering too. So I woke up my brother and asked him for another blanket. I told him what I felt and he agreed about the anxiety.
Earlier Friday, I was eating lunch with my dad at the kitchen table. We had arepas and queso and coffee. I hadn’t even touched my coffee yet and my hands were trembling. (I swear, I’ve been cutting back substantially on the coffee.)
“Your hands are shaking really bad. Why are they shaking like that?” he asked.
“I think I’m just having a lot of anxiety right now.” I lowered my head.
“I don’t know. It’s a lot of things, I guess.”
“It looks as if you had Parkinson’s”
Ah my dad, good ole papi. Gotta love the way he throws in something that sounds both amusing and insulting or hurtful (to me) without even meaning to–but sometimes meaning to. I’d made a joke about looking like Michael J. Fox during an interview on my very second (or third) post here! So, yes, this isn’t new. But now it’s noticeable to my dad even?
Today, right now, I’m feeling the same way. I hope it passes soon. I hope typing will at least keep me at ease a little while.
I wonder if it’s the medication that’s making it worse. Almost every morning it’s the same.
At the end of May, a few weeks after the incident, I saw the psychiatrist. She had the Fluoxetine/Prozac upped. I keep wondering, how did I get here? Accepting drugs from a psych? For me, taking “medication” is last, last, last resort.
I saw her again this past Thursday. She said something that both surprised and didn’t surprise me.
“I’m thinking… you seem to have bipolar, bipolar two,” she said midway through our appointment. These appointments, by the way, are actually forty-five minutes long. Ok. Well, at the moment, labels don’t matter to me much. I just need all the help I can get. I don’t want another incident to occur, for the sake of those around me at least. But in part, for my sake too. And that’s a good thing! It means I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel, despite the way I’m feeling.
Long story short, she prescribed Lamotrigine/Lamictal. I haven’t gotten it yet. I barely ran out of Tegretol last week and didn’t bother to get it filled. Well, there’s was more to it than that. There was the money issue. It’s rough right now. I just wish I could handle things better, without getting so frantic, so worked up inside… Swimming is the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning!
And now I’m to try yet another drug?
I don’t know. I just don’t know…
But therapy. Right!
I finally got in three weeks ago. The very first week, we covered a lot.
She’s also a young brunet like Ex-Young Therapist, but it’s a university, so what was I expecting, an old student? Anyway, we covered basics, like what I did with my Ex-Young Therapist, what worked, what didn’t work. Turns out this new therapist (I’m going to call her Brunet Young) worked in a team with Ex-Young Therapist, so she already knew a little bit about me. A consultation team is part of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
After going over some of the basics, like major problems in my life, she mentioned the overdose incident from early May. Has it been two and a half months already?
“In the intake interview, you mentioned that you didn’t consider the overdose a suicide attempt. Why is that?” Brunet Young asks.
“Um… I’m not sure,” I reply. I stammer around and stutter for a little while. “Maybe it’s because I have a hard time seeing it as that. But also, I think I was gambling. I was playing Russian roulette. I told myself that if I died that night, then fine, but if I didn’t, I would have to just try a lot harder. I mean, I would’ve definitely taken the entire bottle had I wanted it to be more sure…a more definite thing.”
“How much did you take?”
“About eight painkillers and two sleeping pills.”
“And you were ok with the fact that you might’ve died as a result?”
“Yes, I was.” It’s scary to think, but at the time, I was.
“You know, from a clinical perspective, there is a distinction between suicide attempts. There’s an active suicide attempt and a passive one. What you describe is a more passive attempt.”
She made sure to emphasis that it was still considered an attempt. Or at least that’s how I heard it.
We then wrote up a crisis plan, which looks a little something like this.
When I feel upset and have thoughts of hurting myself or someone else, or I feel that I am in emotional crisis, I will take the following steps:
1. My warning signs are (e.g. very self-critical, hopeless, isolation, staying in bed)
-passive thoughts of suicide increase in frequency and become clearer, more of an urge/stronger urge
-insomnia and crying spells worsen
-triggers (e.g. Monkey Man, relationships, drugs, reminders, etc) –> anger/rage
-isolating myself –> not picking up calls, curling up in bed and staring blankly, dissociating
-being upset about hearing loss; being upset on days when I’m not able to go swimming
-chronic bone pain intensifies; facial nerve pain increases
2. My reasons to live are:
– I can do a lot for others. I have potential to do a lot.
-I don’t want to hurt my family
That’s all I have for reasons right now. I used to have career plans, but that’s not strong-holding at the moment. It has to be something that you really believe, something that will grab you, will keep you from doing anything permanent–a true deterrent. I think I need to come up with more. I told Brunet Young this and she said, “It’s alright, we’ll come up with more later.” I thought of adding “love”. Just focus on the word love, the meaning of it for me, how I’ve managed to hold on to “love” in my life. But love of what? Art? Life? Beauty? Family? How can you focus on that in a “crisis” situation when all you’re thinking about is the pain you’re in and peaceful bliss of death and non-existance?
3. Do these things to calm myself or distract myself:
-say serenity prayer and Buddha refuge prayer
-If at home, call Luna, pet and cuddle with her. (The good thing about Luna is if she hears me crying, I don’t even have to call her over. She finds me. Sweetest dog ever.)
-remember “Distress Tolerance” –> follow breath, deep breathing
-self sooth –> hum a tune, splash water on face, take warm bath, play ukulele
-write, write, write
-read, read, read
-watch TV (comedy preferably)
-stretch with yoga mat
-image focus –>meditate
-progressive muscle relaxation
-review “coping card”
-take a short nap and/or break from whatever you’re doing (e.g. go out in the fresh air and walk the dogs)
4. Contact a friend or family member that I can trust:
name & number: answering service at PRSC –>that’s the university’s psychological research and services center
Also, I’ve listed my brother, mom, and maybe B and Mansie, Ryden and Eloise, although I’m having a hard time with this one. I’ll really need to work at it.
5. Call PRSC and ask to speak with my therapist
6. If it is after clinic hours (M-Th 9-8; F 9-5) and I can’t reach my therapist, call the PRSC after-hours answering service at **********
7. Call a hotline for support or assistance:
I also have several other local hotline numbers included here. But I don’t do hotlines. It’s not how I roll.
8. If I am unable to get help quickly enough and feel that things can’t wait, I will call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
The thing about the crisis plan is that I have only been able to get myself to do steps one through three, maybe four. I’m able to recognize warning signs and use methods like distress tolerance and mindfulness, but contacting a “trusted” person is difficult. That’s the thing, on Friday, I did contact my brother, but I did it after too much thinking. Also, I don’t tell him how bad I feel, I just ask him what’s up. Brunet Young said that was fine, I don’t exactly have to tell him, especially not now if I’m not comfortable doing so. The important thing is to distract in non-harmful ways.
Another difficulty I’m having with this crisis plan is knowing the “answering service” after hours aren’t open on weekends. I’ll have to ask her about this. But even then, I’m not the type of person who would call. I think I only called Ex-Young Therapist twice or maybe three times during a “crisis situation”. And that was after two years of seeing her! One of those times was a few days after I found out about Monkey Man’s death this March.
I used to hate the idea of therapy. Sometimes I still do. Right now though, I’m just glad I finally got in again.
July 20, 2012
I don’t know why, but I woke up with this song in my head (also had another zombie apocalypse dream; I’ll have to write a vignette of those).
Anyway, this song is so special to me for many reasons. For one, it’s sung by an old school Colombian duo–two guys that came from the same town my mother was raised in. And two, it’s in the vallenato style. I don’t like merengue, I don’t care for cumbia and I only like salsa from the 60s-70s but I love vallenato. Something about it–the accordion– is very folk and tropical at the same time. Maybe it’s also because my aunt loved vallenato.
My aunt commited suicide when she was 27 (same age as Monkey Man). She drank a bottle of cyanide, spent nearly a week in the hospital’s ICU until her organs just gave out. The doctors had said there was no chance of her surviving the extent of the internal damage, but while in the hospital bed, between brief moments of consciousness, she kept saying that God was going to give her a chance to live for her kids (a three year-old boy and an infant girl) and that maybe she’d made a mistake.
She passed away in the spring of 1993, and my mother always tells me about how much I remind her of my aunt, her sister. I only remember her in pictures and vaguely in my early, early childhood. I’m often told my aunt was the artist, always painting and drawing. My mother also says she was a comedian. When she was ten, she’d stand in the street corner of la vecindad and the wealthier kids would pay her part their allowances just to hear her make jokes.
She’d been raped at the age of eight and lived in the highly aggressive/violent family my grandparents formed. The home where the oldest boy had to knock out his father with a stick so he’d get off of his mother; the home where his mother nearly stabbed her husband to death on several occasions. (Not to mention the poverty.)
My aunt didn’t mention the rape to anyone until after she’d married, and my mother was the only one she told. My aunt, ED, married a cop who only seemed help her create yet another aggressive family. She was the “darky” or “la negra/negrita” meaning “the black one”. She was the wild one too, always dancing and carrying a big Afro-puff above her bobbing head. My mom was the quiet, white one. Chalk-skinned-stick they called her because my mother is fair, the whitest of the siblings and was a very thin girl.
“Your butt is just like hers too! She hated having a big butt,” my mom tells me.
“Well, I both hate and love my butt,” I reply.
We laugh about it now, but I know it’s torn her up not having had a chance to see her at the time of her death. We were living in the States by then and being undocumented meant that if she flew back to Colombia for the funeral, she couldn’t come back to the U.S. to us, or rather, if she did it would have to be through the river or Arizona desert and risk death or deportation.
The lyrics of the song are so raw, simple and pure:
The paths of life are not how I thought
nor how I imagined they’d be when I was as a child.
They’re not how I believed them to be.
The paths of life are so difficult to tread,
difficult to walk down
and I can’t seem to find the exit…
“The Paths of Life” by the Little Devils aka Devil Brothers. (They should hook up with my Pretty Little Demons, huh?)
May 29, 2012
I just had to post this because this young woman said what I’ve been wanting to say to my family, this in particular:
“To my family, to my friends, to you, to those I cherish, those who were there when I could not love myself, I thank you for loving me anyway. Your love kept me alive when I couldn’t survive on my own. But your love wasn’t enough. I thought love would heal me, I thought faith would restore me. I thought hope would find me, and maybe it did. Maybe it kept me alive. But fifteen years worth of internal contortions, intense pain and battles that raged on in the privacy of my own head were no match for the virtues I tried so desperately to cultivate…And you ask yourself over and over again, when love seems to fail, where is the answer?” ~Amanda Wang is the lead organizer of RethinkBPD, a peer-led advocacy and support group for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
This Rethink BPD Series video also reminds me of how I’d ironically said I thought L had BPD even before I’d found out about my diagnosis. This video in particular moved me. As Elaine point out, it IS strange to say that “Love isn’t enough” because our intuition tells us otherwise. And then I have to wonder, why? I think maybe it isn’t that love isn’t good enough, it’s just that the love we think we give isn’t enough for the nature of the beast. Yes, “all you need is love” as the Beatles song goes. I love that song and I hold the words as truth.
But why would a borderline say, “your love wasn’t enough?”
Allow me to attempt toexplain. Love is an undefinable thing first of all: I can love a lover, I can love myself and I can love life and I can love to love. And well, shit if she couldn’t love herself as we–all of us, but in particular borderlines often do at the depths of depression–can’t “love ourselves” then all other forms of love are out of the question.
Our various expressions of love are different. For my dad, it is to say, “I love you, to cook dinner for me, to give me a big hug and a kiss and to say I love you again,” why isn’t that enough? Well, the nature of my beast denies it. That’s not the same as being ungrateful. No, it’s far more twisted than that. Then there’s the need for validation again–of pain, the need for understanding. That’s the love I have not gotten in many instances.
So when this young woman says, “your love wasn’t enough” she’s not saying that the fact that they loved her wasn’t enough. She’s sayin (and I’m only interpreting here from my own experience) that the nature of the beast wasn’t being cared for in that expression of love. It’s not so much the love, but the expressions people make of that love and the “borderline’s” interpretation of that love. It’s expression of love in simple kisses and hugs for me was SEEMINGLY not enough. It’s the expressed contradiction of that love in little things with all the small passive aggressive words for example. It’s the love and the trauma. It’s all the black and white! And I say seemingly because I think to an extent it is only what it seems and it isn’t anything at all unless you recognize it, unless you bring it out of nothing. It’s like the elephant in the room.
This statement she made was obviously an oxymoron and a paradox because although, their support (an expression of love) or vise versa her love for them and not wanting to hurt them deterred her from suicide, it was still not enough. Not enough for what? For recovery? Define recovery. And what is this “not enough” if she’s still here like I am still here? She’s survived thus far!
UGggh. I’m running in circles with this. It’d be so much easier if I were just a puppy running in circles and chasing my tail instead of running in circles with this.
I went swimming today again, but more on that later. I think it’s just about time for another one of my Good Lists.
May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month.