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.

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“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?

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“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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think of these last seven months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love from the Mouse

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

My heart’s made of parts of all that’s around me

And that’s why the devil just can’t get around me

Every single night’s alright, every single night’s a fight
And every single fight’s alright with my brain

I just want to feel everything

~Fiona Apple

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The fever hit again in the afternoon.

Yep, I’m fighting a cold guys. It started Saturday when I hit my goal of fourteen laps in forty-five minutes at the pool. It came full swing at me Sunday night and yesterday morning. But yesterday was also my first day at the job, so I couldn’t back out.

I got to the office at two and Mansie showed me a few things since she’ll be my supervisor. I wish I could tell you guys what it is exactly that I’ll be doing (truth is I don’t even know yet), but all I’m going to say is I’m the “New Media Intern,” and H, Mansie’s boss wants me to have as much creative freedom as I can possibly get. That’s what she said he told her. He did tell me he saw something in me and that’s exciting but also very scary considering how unstable I’ve been.

What does he see? What is expected of me? I’m too much of a perfectionist to not drown in my own questioning and self doubt. Maybe that’s why I’ve never responded so well to compliments.

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I think the job has been a blessing even though it’s stipend pay, even though I have some immigration concerns, even though the pay is next to nothing. Why? It’s something that will keep me busy for ten to twenty hours a week. Keeping me busy, means I’ll have no time for tears.

At the same time, I’m afraid I’ll break down at the office. I’ve barely been there one day and already I feel I’m having to fight the Pretty Little Demons (PLDs) to the point of exhaustion. They’re a funny gang, these demons.

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There’s so much I want to write, but I haven’t been able to get my head around any of it. Or rather, as Fiona Apple sings in this lovely song, “the devil just can’t get around me”. Oh but it does. It just comes back with its gang of PLDs.

Speaking of devils and demons, I used to have night terrors as a kid and one of them was a recurring dream of the devil coming after me. It was like the devil lived in my closet. Damn Catholic superstitions! And now I’ve begun to have them again, only I can’t remember much.

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I’ve been swimming as a way to pacify the PLDs but today with the cold, the coughing, the phlegm, I had to hold it off. The fever in my body is down today thankfully, but the fever in my brain burns on. A funny thing this fire–this raw emotion. Kiera Van Gelder, the author of “The Buddha & The Borderline: My Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Buddhism and Online Dating,” mentions this fire a lot. Ever seen the picture of the famous monk that set himself on fire? Kiera mentions that monk and says that that’s how she feels, though much less noble. That’s how I feel, like I’m burning myself alive. It shouldn’t have struck me as odd though because fire has always been a metaphor for intense and passionate emotions.

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What did strike me ass odd was the fact that the emotion comes with a fight. An inner struggle that is almost unbearable sometimes. Kiera always comes back to the metaphor of a “burnt patient” with no “emotional skin” which Dr. Linehan, the mother of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), first gave in her manual on treating borderlines.

Last night, Kiera’s words stuck out and struck me:

I try not to let go of the mindfulness practice. I observe the emotions crest and clash, tidal in the coming and going of perspectives. Opposing forces battle within me: I want to get better. I want to die. I want to be loved. I want to spit on the face of everyone I see. Such drastic shifts exhaust me, and I know they baffle others. And it’s gaining momentum again. My mercurial self is clamoring for a foothold, and I’m slipping. Borderlines are experts at wrestling with demons; the problem is, we always seem to lose. Fight long enough, and it only makes sense to join the demons. What other choice is there?

Every single night I fight the gang of Pretty Little Demons, and they seem to have recruited new members in the last two months. Every single night is a battle with my brain as Fiona says. But it’s all right! The Mouse is having ping pong matches with them every day, and when I swim, I can drown them out a little. Sometimes, like on Saturday, I’ll get a crying fit while a do a lap, but it’s alright. It’s alright honey.

If there ever were “borderline girl” songs, they would be in Fiona Apple’s entire discography as it is a reflection of my very being. Thank you Fiona for doing what you do best, write about your PLD’s, sing about them, and smash your angry hands at the piano. Kiera, like Fiona, like myself are drawn to the creative fields. “What other choice is there?” Kiera asks but answers by knowing that she just has to “transform this despair into power”.

That’s what Fiona has done with her music and what it means to me. That’s what I hope to do.

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Does life have to be a battle? I don’t know. Life just is. Yet seeing the way impalas run from a lion, seeing the way they clash their horns when fighting over a female makes me think differently. Seeing my own survival, seeing my owns demons clash makes me think differently. And I know that for some of us, it’s an all out war–those of us who, as Jill over at Not Quite Lost, mentioned “live in survival mode”.

addendum: I recently found out Fiona Apple’s fourth albums is complete and will be released soon! This song is from the new albums. Check this out! Yes, I’m going to marry her someday though neither of us cares for marriage.

And forgive my rambling, off-beat writing. These days I’m not so coherent.

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Then brother get back ’cause my breast’s gonna bust open
The rib is the shell and the heart is the yolk
And I just made a meal for us both to choke on ….

And maybe I’d relax, let my breast just bust open

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DISCLAIMER: I’m using the “borderline girl” phrase as sort of a mocking/sarcastic term. There’s no such thing as a stereotypical “borderline girl”. You can have a condition, but you are NOT the condition and these songs aren’t necessarily written by or about borderline girls; they merely reflect certain parts of my life as I see fit. This is what they mean to me, someone who has been diagnosed as having BPD and is only beginning to work with herself and her deadly emotions.