The Dark Spiral Dance

“I’ve been thinking too much (Help me)”

Twenty One Pilots – Ride

I’m a bad friend. Wait, maybe I should phrase that in a way that is nonjudgmental. I feel like I’m a bad friend. I’m what you would call an absent friend. I’m there, behind the scenes. I’m not on the front lines, going out every day for coffee with others. I’m not out at the club or the house parties, drinking and smoking. I’m at home, in my bubble of safety. I’m safe in my bubble. I’m the friend you text when you need to vent, when you need to get it out and you don’t want people knowing what you’re going through. I’m the friend who texts you to make sure you got home safe. I’m the friend that reaches out to others who are struggling, depressed, or suicidal. I’m the friend who checks up on you, and wishes you a happy day. I’m also the same friend who cancels plans last minute, ad nauseum. I’m the friend who is absent from the baby showers, bridal showers, and birthday parties. This is the part where I feel like a bad friend comes in, and it messes with me.

I don’t want to miss out on all the milestones in my friends’ lives, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I want to be there and cheer you on in life, and celebrate with you. I want to be there for you throughout your highs and lows, and plateaus. So what is stopping me? Myself. I am the barrier. I get so stuck in my own head, overthinking and over feeling everything to the point where I make myself sick. Some call it anxiety, I call it The Dark Spiral. You don’t want to be a dark spiral dancer, it’s not fun. It starts with doing a menial task and these nagging thoughts, like reminders, flood your brain. Then the overthinking and over-analyzing begins, and takes over, leading to over feeling. Then it spirals downwards, leading to catastrophizing and full blown panic. At least with me, anyways.

I could be getting ready to head out and I can’t find an outfit that fits me just right, or I can’t apply my makeup evenly. Maybe I’m lagging behind and have yet to shower and get ready. It doesn’t matter, the dark spiral beckons me. It calls to me. I’ll become flustered and upset for being so silly, and admonish myself. That, right there. That’s like a trigger for the dark spiral. You get into that negative mindset, and it has this massive snowball effect on your outlook. I’ll continue getting ready, and these intrusive thoughts attack me with such ferocity that it will reduce me to tears. “What’s the point in going, nobody there likes you anyways.” “You’ll just sit by yourself and not talk to anyone.” “Loner.” “They won’t even notice you’re there.” These thoughts eat away at my confidence, and deflates my self esteem. I begin to question myself, wondering if my thoughts are in fact intuition. I start thinking back, trying to remember every single interaction I’ve had with friends and acquaintances. Of course, the embarrassing and mortifying memories take front and center. I’m gripped with so many emotions from past recollections, it’s dizzying. Down I go, into the dark spiral. It doesn’t stop there. Oh no, it goes further. Panic sets in, I can feel myself slipping into the darkness but I don’t know how to stop it. I continue ruminating on past interactions and get togethers, compiling a mental check list of the reasons why I am a bad friend and bad person in general. I’m no longer productive and getting ready, I’m reduced to tears, and hyperventilating. I’m my own worst enemy.

It doesn’t have to be like that, though. I can fight this. What exactly am I up against? Cognitive distortions. They’re patterns of thinking and believing things that are inaccurate or false, and have a potential to cause psychological damage. What I described in the dark spiral are various types of cognitive distortions. Polarized thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, mind reading, catastrophizing, all are forms of cognitive distortions. Let me explain.

  • Polarized thinking: also known as black and white thinking, this distortion manifests as thinking in extremes, all good or all bad. I did this and this, so I must be a horrible friend. I don’t see in shades of grey, but in black or white.
  • Overgeneralization: basically you take one instance and overgeneralize it to an overall pattern. I cancelled plans on a friend, so I think I’m a horrible friend. This kind of thinking can lead to overly negative thoughts about yourself and your environment, based on only one or two experiences.
  • Mental filter: similar to overgeneralization, however with the mental filter you focus on a single negative and exclude all of the positive. I didn’t attend a birthday party, I’m a horrible friend, even though I’ve been there for my friend through distressing times. All the good is erased and replaced with a simple negative. This mental filter can foster a negative outlook of everything around you, by focusing only on the negative.
  • Mind reading: a form of “jumping to conclusions”, this cognitive distortion manifests as the inaccurate belief that one knows what another person is thinking. Seeing people around me whisper, I’ll jump to the conclusion that they must be talking about me. We may have an idea of what people are thinking or feeling, but with this distortion we assume that we know what they’re thinking.
  • Fortune telling: another form of “jumping to conclusions”, this distortion is when you predict or make assumptions based on little to no evidence and holding onto it as truth. “If I go out, I’m going to make an ass of myself in front of everyone.”
  • Catastrophizing: this distortion is stealthy, it skews your perception in a way that involves either the minimization or exaggeration of importance or meaning of things. I made a mistake, that mistake must mean I’m a failure in life. On the flip side, where minimization occurs, you could do something really nice for a friend and discredit yourself because it was something menial.
  • Personalization: this distortion is a little self explanatory, it’s when you take everything personally, or when you blame yourself for something, for no logical reason. My friend is having a bad day, it must have been something I said or did.

So, how does one avoid the dark spiral dance? I’m not sure, to be honest. I don’t know if there is a way to avoid it, but perhaps be aware of it and on the lookout for it. My husband is my biggest support, he catches me when I start to go down that path of thinking. “You’re starting the dark spiral, babe.” You know what I do when he tells me that? I reassure myself. I am a good person. I am a good friend. Everyone has good days and bad days. Nobody is perfect. It’s ok to cancel plans. It’s ok if you’re running late, better late than never. Those kind of thoughts keep me from the edge of the dark spiral. Being aware of the cognitive distortions, and being mindful of my thoughts, help me avoid the dark spiral dance.

Am I a bad friend? Probably not. Will I ever stop the dark spiral dance? Also probably not. But hey, I now know where the thoughts come from, and knowing is half the battle.

The Borderline Battle

I’m stable but I’m struggling, if that makes any sense. My bipolar disorder is stable, but now my borderline personality disorder is raging. I’m battling with myself constantly, trying to stay level but it’s getting harder to do so. At the moment, I am level. I feel logical and rational, but that won’t last for long. One part of my BPD will rear its ugly little head, and say “Oh hey, I heard you thought you were fine. Let me reassure you that you aren’t, because I’m here.” There are nine symptoms of BPD, and lately I’ve been experiencing all of the symptoms. I’m going to try to explain these nine symptoms, and how they manifest within me.

  1. Fear of Abandonment. Real or imagined, people with BPD have a fear of abandonment and will make frantic efforts to avoid it. I have this intense fear that my husband will leave me, even though he reassures me on a daily basis that he isn’t going anywhere. Why can’t I accept what he says? I don’t have an answer for that. I believe him, so why does my brain keep insisting that one day he will get fed up with me and decide to leave? It’s an irrational thought and I know that, but I can’t stop being afraid of him leaving. I’ve been with my husband over 10 years now, and they’ve been the best 10 years of my life. You’d think I would feel secure in my relationship by now. I’m not, though and it sucks because my insecurities cause a ripple effect in my relationship, which makes it unstable at times. And that brings me to the next symptom…
  2. Unstable Relationships. My relationship with my husband is relatively stable. Our relationship seems perfect, we rarely ever fight. My friendships are pretty stable as well. I have a history of rocky relationships, both platonic and romantic. Lately my BPD has been acting up, and it is causing arguments between me and my husband. I’ll split (switching between idealization and devaluation) on myself or him, my moods will flip, and I’ll start fights. For no good reason. I can only imagine what he’s thinking and feeling when this happens, it must be like an emotional whiplash. Not just for him, but also for me. I usually end up splitting on myself, because I feel I am a bad person for starting an argument and taking it out on my husband. Splitting is a common occurrence with me, and I’m not alone as it’s fairly common in people with BPD. I’ll explain more about splitting later.
  3. Unclear or Shifting Self Image. I’ve struggled with knowing who I am for most of my life. My sense of self has typically been unstable. For the most part, I think of myself as a loving, supportive, good person. However, I tend to experience splitting on myself and all it takes is making a simple mistake for me to split and all of a sudden I hate myself. I will think that I’m a horrible person who doesn’t deserve love. I don’t have a clear picture of my career goals, some days I don’t know who I am or what I want to do with my life. I’m a stay at home mom, and I struggle with it sometimes. I feel like I should have an education and career by my age and I don’t, and it gets to me. I’ll mentally beat myself up over being a housewife and stay at home mom, and it just makes the splitting worse. How do I deal with splitting? I do something impulsive.
  4. Impulsive, Self Destructive Behaviours. Oh boy, where do I begin… I tend to engage in behaviours that are both sensation seeking and harmful, especially when I’m upset or feeling any emotion strongly. I spend money we can’t afford to spend, I have binge eating problems, I text people impulsively. I don’t drink or do drugs, I don’t gamble, I don’t engage in promiscuous sex, I don’t drive recklessly, though many people with BPD tend to struggle with these things on a regular basis. Sometimes I impulsively harm myself, which I’ll get to in just a moment. My impulsiveness has gotten me into trouble more than a few times. There are consequences to my impulsive, self destructive ways. Maxed out credit cards, overdraft and NSF fees, weight gain, self esteem issues, the list goes on. I don’t have many self destructive behaviours but the ones I do have wreak havoc on my life.
  5. Self-harm, Suicidal Behaviour. Deliberate self-harm and suicidal behaviour are common in people with BPD, and I am certainly no exception. I am a survivor of two suicide attempts. Cutting is one form of self harm, and it’s an addiction of mine. I’ve relapsed numerous times over the years, I managed to go 6 years without cutting once. Currently, I’m working towards 10 months clean from cutting. I still get urges to cut, especially when I’m feeling numb, empty, or stressed. Burning is another form of self-harm, though I don’t engage in it. I have been plagued by intrusive suicidal thoughts in the past, and I go through periods of having a preoccupation with suicide and death. I’ve planned my suicide more than once, as a teenager I honestly believed I wouldn’t live past the age of 23. I have a tattoo on my forearm, a semi colon with “This Too Shall Pass” written underneath. It gives me inner strength, and reminds me that no matter how bad life gets, the bad times don’t last forever. Good times will come. They often come sooner than later, as the good and bad times are dictated by my moods.
  6. Extreme Emotional Swings. Volatile mood swings are common with BPD. I can be elated one minute and raging the next, it doesn’t take much to trigger the mood swings. It could be a joke or an innocent remark that triggers my moods to flip and send me into a tailspin. Trying to manage my mood swings is like trying to drive down a twisting and winding road while blindfolded. Though these mood swings are quite intense, they tend to pass fairly quickly. Unlike bipolar disorder, these mood swings last maybe a few minutes or hours. I experience these rapid shifts in mood multiple times in a day, it’s exhausting sometimes. One of the emotions I struggle to manage is my anger.
  7. Explosive Anger. Most people with BPD struggle with having a short temper and inappropriate, intense anger. While my temper is pretty mild, my anger is intense and it isn’t pretty. It takes a lot for my fuse to get lit but once it is, I have trouble controlling myself. I don’t think before talking, I shoot from the hip so to speak. I have a sharp tongue, and I’m also hurtfully blunt. I become severely sarcastic, and snappy. Some people yell, others throw things. Anger isn’t always directed outwards, though. My anger tends to be directed inwards, at myself. I’ll have intrusive thoughts and get extremely angry with myself for having those thoughts. I’ll get upset with myself for procrastinating, or for having fibromyalgia pain which I can’t control. I do have the occasional angry outburst, and it scares me when it does happen. I feel cornered and out of control, it’s a horrible thing to experience. Often times when I experience explosive anger, a switch inside of me flips and all of a sudden I feel nothing, just like an empty shell.
  8. Chronic Feelings of Emptiness. Many people with BPD report feeling empty inside, like there is a void or hole inside them. Some people report feeling frequently bored or numb. I go through periods where I feel empty, like I’m nothing. When I experience drastic mood swings, the aftermath is usually feeling numb. Some people try to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, food, or sex. For me, it’s food. I LOVE FOOD. I binge eat. When I feel empty, I eat as if filling my stomach will make me feel whole again. I’ve really struggled with feeling numb and empty inside since my Mother passed away last October. I tend to dissociate when I feel empty or numb, I think it’s my brain’s way of protecting me.
  9. Paranoia And Dissociation. I’ve read that paranoia is quite common in people with BPD, though I don’t have much experience with it myself. I have lots of experience with dissociation, on the other hand. I space out often, to be honest. I feel out of touch with reality, like I’m not real and what is happening isn’t really happening. It happened when my Mother died, I was dissociating throughout my time in the hospital. I dissociate whenever rape is brought up in conversation, or domestic violence. Sometimes I feel as though I’m outside of my body, it’s really hard to describe the feeling. Whenever I get a piercing, or attend a doctor’s appointment where a physical exam will be happening, I hyper-focus on something in the room and it helps me cope with whatever is happening. I didn’t know this until recently but this is also dissociating, and a self defense mechanism.

Whenever I fight with my husband, I try to remind myself that it isn’t me vs. him, it’s me and him vs. the problem. But then I start to think that I’M the problem, which leads to splitting. Splitting means having difficulty holding opposing thoughts. I’m unable to weigh out the positive and negative attributes of a person or event, I don’t recognize that both good and bad traits can exist at the same time. It’s black and white thinking, all or nothing. Kinda like the Sith in Star Wars. You’re either with me or against me. You put a person, even yourself, on such a high pedestal (idealization). They can do no wrong, everything they say and do is admirable. Then the legs get kicked out and they fall into devaluation, where they’re wrong and bad, and looked at with disdain. Splitting sounds horrible, but it’s actually a way of coping, like a self defense mechanism that people with BPD use as a means to prevent being hurt, or avoiding rejection. I’ll push you away before you can do it to me, sort of thing.

My borderline has been quite active lately, and it is exhausting to manage. I’m a very sensitive person, and normally I can take a joke or teasing. Lately, I’ve been taking everything as a personal attack, which isn’t like me at all. I feel like I’m losing control of myself and I don’t like it. Typically I relate to only 2 or 3 BPD characteristics at a time but this past year I’ve experienced all 9 symptoms, sometimes in the same day or week.

Living with borderline can be nightmarish, because it’s like a never ending cycle of self destruction. All of my symptoms have an overlap, they all work together, against me. My moods will flip, I’ll get intense anger that spirals out of control, I’ll feel ashamed and guilt ridden from losing control, I’ll dissociate and reach for a knife then struggle with myself because I want to cut but don’t want to relapse, and then the emptiness takes over. One symptom triggers another, and so on. When I do relapse, I become terrified that my husband will leave me because I’m crazy and too much for him to handle. I’ll feel ashamed and guilty for giving in, for being weak when I should have been strong. I regret cutting myself every time, it feels great in the moment but that’s short lived. I can’t relapse again. I won’t, I refuse to give in to my addictions.

I need to be strong and fight my BPD, not only for my own sake but for my family’s sake as well. I can’t let my disorder control me. I have three kids, and they’re watching me. They will think that what they’re growing up with is normal, and I have to be mindful of that. I don’t want my kids growing up and having to recover from their childhood. They deserve a mother who is stable, and my husband deserves a stable wife. I’m trying my best to give them that. I’m trying my best for me too, because I deserve stability. I don’t like feeling this way, when my BPD gets the best of me.

Around 80% of people with BPD report a history of suicide attempts. 8-10% of people with BPD die by suicide. I refuse to become part of the latter statistic. I am literally fighting for my life. I want to live. I need to protect myself, from myself. I need to fight on in the never-ending borderline battle.

When You Have Intrusive Suicidal Thoughts

I was going through my Facebook memories yesterday morning and saw that two years ago I was having unwanted passive suicidal thoughts. I remember that day quite vividly. I was happy with my life but battling to maintain stability. I was fighting off a bipolar mixed episode and adjusting to a new dosage of my medication, Seroquel. My dosage was lowered and I was struggling. Every time my medications get a dosage tweak, my bipolar goes haywire. I can recognize the signs of mania and depression, and I can feel when an episode is starting but I don’t know how to stop them. It’s like the roller coaster in my head has gone out of control and I’m strapped in, going along for the ride. My borderline acts up too but it’s not as disruptive as my bipolar. I’m straying off topic here, sorry about that…

At the time, I was up and down multiple times in a day. I was hyper and feeling on top of the world one minute, then losing my cool over miniscule things like spilling sink water on myself. I was trying to maintain a level headedness, I was using my DBT skills. Everything I said or did was to the extreme though and it was frustrating. I had been struggling for a while with intrusive suicidal thoughts, and as my Seroquel dosage lowered the thoughts became more frequent. It was like my brain was trying to kill me. I didn’t want to have these thoughts, I didn’t want to die, I wanted to live. I was happy with my life and my family. But this little voice in my head kept whispering horrible thoughts to me and I couldn’t shut it up. I beat myself up a lot in my head for even having the thoughts cross my mind. Why would I want to kill myself when I was happy?

On that day a few years ago, I was being plagued by that damned little voice in my head which was telling me to slit my wrists. I was cutting a bagel for my son to have for breakfast and I hear in my head, “Do it. Cut your wrist and watch the blood flow.” I started crying, continuing to cut the bagel and proceeding to toast it for my son. At the time, I was over a year clean from cutting and quite proud of that. I didn’t want to hurt myself, especially not when my children were present! I became angry with myself for having that thought, and grew quiet. My children noticed and asked me what was wrong. I insisted it was nothing for them to worry about, and served them breakfast. I tried to distract myself with housework but everywhere I went, that stupid little voice whispered a different way for me to die. Determined to stay positive and maintain composure, I began cleaning my kitchen. I had left a bottle of tylenol on the counter from taking some earlier that morning for my fibro pain, and as I picked up the bottle and went to return it to the medicine cabinet that same little voice in my head said to me “Down them. Just take them all and go to sleep.” AHHHH WTF BRAIN?! I reacted by dropping the bottle on the floor, recoiling in horror as if the bottle was a spider. I phoned my husband at work, scared and crying, looking for advice. He suggested I have a self care day, and do things that made me feel good. So I went to the store to buy some snacks, and came home. I ran myself a bubble bath and even though the little voice told me to drown myself, I forced myself to relax.

All that day, I focused on doing things that made me happy. I stayed close to my kids and played games with them, I played World of Warcraft while they had quiet time, I ate sushi, melon salad, drank hot chocolate, and listened to upbeat music. I was determined to outsmart my own brain. I was determined to survive. I phoned my psychiatrist’s office and spoke to a nurse about my unwanted suicidal thoughts, she was very nice and supportive. I managed to get a telehealth appointment (it’s like Skype but for medical appointments) for the next day. My psychiatrist bumped my Seroquel to a higher dosage and almost immediately after starting the new dosage, my intrusive suicidal thoughts disappeared.

I stayed at that dosage for over a year, and during that time I didn’t have anymore intrusive suicidal thoughts. I’m on different medications now, I had to make some changes to treat my postpartum depression and anxiety. I still haven’t had any suicidal thoughts, and I am extremely grateful for that. There was a time in my life where I was actively suicidal; I am a survivor of two attempts. That was in my teens. My children and husband give me a reason to wake up each and every day, I want to live.

It’s utterly terrifying to experience passive suicidal ideation in the form of intrusive thoughts. The feeling when you can’t trust your own brain, which controls your whole body, is a feeling I don’t wish on anyone. When you’re having thoughts of suicide and you don’t want them, don’t listen to them. Fight for your life. I’m extremely thankful that I ignored that little voice. I’m grateful that I have a supportive husband. I love the life and family I have, and consider myself very lucky. I get to wake up next to the love of my life every morning, we have three wonderful children together. The fact that I was passively suicidal at a time in my life when I was happy is downright scary. I didn’t want to die yet my brain kept telling me to kill myself.

I’m speaking out about my experience with this for suicide awareness and prevention. I am not in danger, I am relatively stable, and of sound mind. I am in the throes of a depressive episode but I’m aware of it and managing it to the best of my ability. I understand that speaking out about being suicidal may cause people to judge me, and for those that know me to look at me differently, and I am alright with that. I am not doing this for attention, I am doing this because it may help someone else. Please, if you have thoughts of suicide, TELL SOMEONE. Don’t bottle it up inside, don’t be ashamed, and don’t face it alone. Your mind is playing tricks on you. You matter. Your life matters. You are loved and you are important. Don’t make permanent decisions based on fleeting thoughts and temporary feelings. Please. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. Your existence on this planet makes a difference whether you see it or not.

Living With Multiple Illnesses

Life is hard. It’s difficult to navigate without directions and instructions, you have to figure it out on your own. You can’t follow other’s paths, for their journey is their own. You have your own path to follow, carved by the decisions you make every day. What happens when you’re living with a mental illness? It makes life that much harder. What if you’re living with multiple illnesses? Then things really get interesting. You have to learn to distinguish the differences between your illnesses, and manage them appropriately on top of just existing. Many times, mental illnesses and physical illnesses overlap, exacerbating everyday life.

I live with many physical and psychiatric illnesses. Bipolar disorder 2 rapid cycling with mixed features, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, high functioning autism, generalized anxiety, fibromyalgia, early onset psoriatic arthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome. That’s to name a few. They make my life hell sometimes. Other times, some of them are like a blessing. It’s a double edged sword to handle, really. Over the years, I’ve noticed and recognized when my illnesses are working together against me. My bipolar and borderline are besties, as are my fibromyalgia and IBS. They hang out a lot, and when they stick around my other conditions come out to play. My ADHD runs rampant when I’m manic, and it makes an appearance during my depressive episodes. It’s always there, it just becomes prominent during episodes. My PTSD is a trickster, it likes to surprise me when I least expect it. My autism is always there, it’s my operating system. I like to say that autism is just a different operating system for the brain, I’m just like everyone else only my wavelength of thought is on a different frequency.

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Two illnesses that are commonly diagnosed together and also commonly mistaken for each other. I was diagnosed with both on January 9th, 2012. I knew quite a bit about bipolar disorder but the BPD diagnosis threw me through a loop. I researched my illnesses and read as much as I could about them. Research is one of my obsessions, it’s an autism thing. I felt such relief when I received my diagnoses, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. For so many years I asked myself “What is wrong with me?”, I had mental illnesses that were unchecked and didn’t know it. No wonder I felt like I was off all the time. I have been on and off medications for over 20 years now (I’m 34 years old), and I feel most like myself when I am on medications. Without meds I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I can’t control myself, at all. I don’t like how I am without medications and when I saw how it was affecting my marriage and my family, I made the decision to stick with meds. It has taken me a few years to learn the differences between my bipolar and borderline, some days I am left mystified as to which one is causing chaos in my life. It really sucks when both are actively messing with me. At times I can be extremely impulsive, which can be caused by both disorders. Something will set me off, and my moods will flip on me causing me to split on myself, then I become terrified that my husband will leave me because I’m unstable (thanks a lot BPD). The hypomania, I have to admit I love being manic for the most part. I love feeling hyper and happy, and productive. I feel grateful for not being depressed. There is a downside to mania, though and it isn’t pretty. The impulsive out of character behaviour, the rapid mood swings and irritability, the racing thoughts and discombobulation. Not to mention the manic spending sprees, I’m so bad for that. Also there is the inevitable crash into depression that brings anxiety. I never know when the crash will happen so I get anxiety over waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m not a big fan of mixed episodes, which is too bad because I get them on the regular. Mixed episodes are where you get symptoms of both depression and mania at the same time or as part of a single episode. My episodes vary, where I will have mental symptoms of mania and physical symptoms of depression, and vice versa. My depressive episodes are influenced by my fibromyalgia, which is a whole other basket of not so goodies.

My fibromyalgia affects me on a daily basis. I never know how I will feel when I wake up, much like my BPD and bipolar. Some days are worse than others. I can go to sleep feeling happy and fine, and wake up with strong pains radiating throughout my body. The weather seems to influence my fibromyalgia, severe and sudden temperature fluctuations in particular. Flare ups are no walk in the park, they can last for days if not weeks. I noticed over the years that a fibro flare up will almost always cause a bipolar depressive episode. It’s depressing when the weather is nice and you want to go out and enjoy it but your body has other plans. The worst days are when I’m bedridden. During a flare up I’ll have great difficulty walking, getting dressed, and feeding myself. Forget about regular housework. It’s a huge blow to my productivity when a flare up occurs. I’m a housewife and stay at home mom; I keep the household running and when I can’t do it that falls onto my husband’s shoulders, and he already works full time. I feel useless and worthless during flare ups, like I’m a burden to my family and friends. I don’t want my husband to have to come home and do all of my work too, that isn’t fair to him. Then the depression creeps in, and boom. Depressive episode. Some days it gets so bad that my husband has to come home from work and take care of me, which means taking care of our three kids as well since I’m bedridden. It breaks my heart when I am physically unable to pick up my baby and hold him because the arthritis and fibromyalgia in my hands and arms render them useless.

My ADHD is always around, but during episodes it likes to mess with me. It puts a kibosh on my hyperproductivity during manic episodes, it makes me wander around my house aimlessly. I daydream when I should be working, my thoughts race so fast in my head it’s dizzying. As much as I try to stay organized, I horribly fail. It stresses me out when my forgetfulness takes its toll on my household. I’ll get caught up in housework and forget to start dinner. I’ll make shopping lists and forget them at home. I try to multitask and get distracted by something and then forget what I was doing. I get confused between my ADHD and my mania at times, the symptoms are very much alike and it’s hard to differentiate between the two. I’m still learning to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, my PTSD is a trickster. It always catches me off guard, which sucks because I am hyper vigilant. I’ve learned most of my triggers but maybe not all of them. Rape is a big trigger for me, the word itself I find triggering. Rape jokes cause me to dissociate, and give me flashbacks. Domestic violence is another big trigger. It could be brought up in conversation, or I might have come across it on social media, it doesn’t matter. It will trigger flashbacks and nightmares, and panic attacks. It sends me right back to where I was during the sexual abuse in my teens and abusive relationship in my twenties. Usually my PTSD will trigger a bipolar episode, mainly depressive. I never knew how to deal with my trauma, I always just shoved it back to the recesses of my brain and pretend it never happened. But that only worked for so many years, then I started having flashbacks and recurring nightmares. It wasn’t until I told my psychiatrist about them that I was diagnosed with PTSD, and that was just over three years ago. I’ve come a long way since then, I did a lot of research and bought some self help books. I like to think I’m in recovery, and I’m doing well. I have PTSD episodes once in a while but only when I’m triggered.

I fight through my episodes and flare ups, I have to in order to keep my sanity. I can’t give in to the intrusive negative thoughts, it’s too easy to fall into that trap. I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass; I won’t feel this way forever. I will feel better soon. Better days are coming. I remind myself of everything I am grateful for, I keep a gratefulness journal and read through it often for motivation and strength. I distract myself with various activities, depending on my fibro and arthritis and how they affect me. If my hands aren’t hurting I crochet, paint, colour, bake, play World of Warcraft, and type on my laptop. If my hands are useless, I tend to read and watch TV. My children and husband help cheer me up, just by being themselves. My husband is my main support, I would be totally lost without him. He is extremely understanding and sympathetic, and compassionate. He’s there for me through it all whether it’s to hold me through my panic attacks and flashbacks, dress me and feed me when I can’t do it myself, or keep me in check when I’m spending too much. He’s been there for the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still loves me for who I am. He is my hero. My husband is an amazing partner and father to our children. My two oldest children know and understand that sometimes Momma has bad pain days and bad brain days. They will help with the housework (on top of the chores they already do daily) during bad pain/brain days, without argument. They know that I have medical conditions that are debilitating at times, they know what bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia are, as well as ADHD and autism. They also have ADHD and autism, both of them. We’re all high functioning. They are aware that they have those conditions as well. I think it’s important for them to be aware of medical conditions and how they affect people. I believe that their knowledge about my conditions and their own has helped them, in matters of empathy and compassion. My family is close knit, and when one of us is hurting it affects all of us. We all work together, as a unit. My family gives me strength to keep going every day.

Living with multiple illnesses is rough but manageable. I don’t sit and dwell on why I have all of these conditions, I don’t much see a point in doing so. The fact is I have them, and they aren’t going anywhere. There are no cures for my illnesses, I have them for life. I might as well make the best of things and live positively. I can sit and ride on the pity train, stopping at the “Woe Is Me” station, but I would much rather buckle up and enjoy the ride on this roller coaster I call my life. It has its ups and downs, twists and turns, and sometimes there is a fire, but somehow I always manage to stay on track. If I ever derail, I will pick up the pieces and get myself back on track. I only have one life to live, and this is it.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Licks

Grief is a strange thing to experience. It comes in waves, it ebbs and flows. I was riding out my grief and just when I thought I was doing a good job of managing it and getting better, I got hit with a tsunami of grief. It’s a thing.

I lost my mother just over eight months ago. I am still reeling from her death. Just recently, I lost my beloved Chug (Chihuahua Pug) dog, Captain Malcolm. He crossed the rainbow bridge on May 24th. His death was very unexpected, our whole family was caught off guard. I was in Toronto with my three children to attend my sister’s wedding, my husband was traveling due to volunteer firefighter training. My poor puppy, we weren’t there for him when he needed us the most. My best friend and close family friend was there, thank the Gods. She was there for me when Momma died; she was with me when I got the message about Momma and she drove me down that day to see her. She took such good care of Mal, she rushed him to the vet which is roughly a 300km drive down a horrid gravel road. The vets did all they could for Malcolm, but it wasn’t enough. He was paralyzed from the waist down, due to a spinal rupture. The vet said there was nothing we could have done to prevent or anticipate this, it is a genetic abnormality found in both Chihuahuas and Pugs and is not uncommon in Chugs. A decision was made to have him euthanized, and he went to sleep.

Captain Malcolm’s death hit us all hard, even the fur babies are out of sorts. We all feel so lost without Mal. He was my furever baby. My hubby adopted him for me, as at the time I was told by my specialist that I could not carry another baby to term. I was severely depressed about that, I always wanted three or four kids. Malcolm was the baby that I couldn’t have, that would never get bigger than me. My children will grow up and eventually be taller than me. That won’t take much, I’m only 5’0 tall. But Mal, he would stay puppy sized. My furever baby.

Mal was named after the main character on the TV show Firefly, Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He aimed to misbehave. He was always there, following us around the house. He was a stealthy thief, whether it was stealing someone’s spot on the couch, stealing someone’s leftovers off the plate in the dining room, or stealing socks and left shoes to hide under the bed. He snorted and shnarfed, sort of like a pig. We called him “Piggly” sometimes. He loved to snuggle. I have a king sized bed, my hubby and I snuggle and take up less than half of the bed. The rest of the bed was Mal’s, and he insisted on sleeping up against me. He was a gentle puppy, as much as he tore around the house yipping and growling, he was ever so careful. He adored my children, he loved to play fetch and snuggle them. He loved giving kisses, I used to call him cat-like because he’d lick my whole arm just like my cats do. You could walk into my living room and find Mal perched on top of the couch, much like a cat.

It hurts me to the core how I couldn’t be there for him in the end. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone to my sister’s wedding. I would have stayed home to be with him. But that’s the thing, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” There was no way to know this was going to happen. But it happened, and we have to deal with it. There is no point in blaming myself, that is a waste of time and energy. Finding blame won’t bring back Captain Malcolm, and it’s no way to honour his memory. I choose to remember him fondly, and think happy memories of him. Mal never liked me being sad, he loved when I was happy. So I’m going to be happy for him. Just like Momma, she wouldn’t want me to grieve and be sad, she would want me to be happy and remember the good times. I do my best to honour their memories every day, it helps keep me going. My children and I will tell each other stories about Momma and Mal, it brings us comfort. Sure, the tears flow and we all bear hug, but it makes us feel better.

My hubby, one of our best friends, and his father built a coffin for Captain Malcolm. I bawled when I saw it. It’s beautiful, very fitting for the Captain’s final resting quarters.

Some days are harder than others. I’m still struggling with losing my mother, and now I lost my furever baby. Grief compounding grief. It’s heavy to carry around, literally. Most days I feel so exhausted, despite having a good night’s sleep. Coffee sometimes helps. I tend to stare off into space, getting caught up in my memories. My mind is all over the place, as is my focus. I’m usually scatterbrained but this is just ridiculous.

I have to fight this. I have to combat the grief and keep going. How do I fight this? How do I keep going? I remind myself of all the good things in my life. I keep a gratefulness journal. I use my DBT and CBT skills daily, and try to meditate at least once a day. I take my meds faithfully, I listen to my alarms and follow my routines. I use various methods of self care every day, lately it’s been hot baths and putting on makeup. I find my motivation to get up every morning and give’r. My husband, my children, my family. They are my motivation. I snuggle and play with my baby throughout the day, I try to read to him but he’s more interested in eating the book than reading it. I spend time with my kids and play with them. I have my daily alone time with my hubby, he’s my best friend and my favourite person. I crave my daily time with him. I have a good life, I’m happy with my life. I have so many reasons to smile. I can’t focus on the reasons to cry and frown. I focus on the positives. It keeps me going.

Earlier, I said that grief comes in waves. I should elaborate on that. Let’s say I’m washing bottles in the kitchen and dancing to music. I’ll look behind me to make sure I’m not going to step on Malcolm (he was always underfoot), and then it hits me. Mal’s not here anymore. I start crying, and it’s like I lost him all over again. Another example, when I remind my children to do their chores. They each take turns feeding the fur babies. I’ve been so used to saying “Feed the puppies” that I still catch myself saying it, which leads me to correcting myself. My children will reminisce about Mal, then we’ll all start crying and hugging.

Grief hits me even when there is nothing to trigger it. I could be in a great mood, listening to music and putting on makeup, and the tears will start flowing. I can’t stop them. It will happen spontaneously. While I’m doing laundry, or playing World of Warcraft. I just cry, uncontrollably. I don’t know if this is a common physical symptom of grief, but it’s something I experience. When it does happen, I try my best to stop crying. I’ll mindfully keep doing whatever task, or I’ll think of happy things like seeing my Hubby, or if my baby is awake I will hug him and play with him. I think and do things that bring me joy. Sometimes I just let it out, and have a good cry. It feels good to let it out. It’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to feel sad, it’s ok to cry. Everyone handles grief differently, and that’s ok. Depending on my mood, I handle it differently.

I’m currently in the midst of a depressive episode, but I am coping and managing it well. I’ve made some changes to my daily routine to help me through this episode, time will tell if it works or not. For the most part, I’m ok. I don’t have intrusive thoughts, I’m not suicidal, or having thoughts of harming myself or others. I’m pretty stable, I’m just depressed. I am still functioning, maybe not at 100% but hey I’m not giving up. I will get better, I won’t feel this way forever.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.– – Dr. Seuss

I miss my fur baby, every day. As much as I carry guilt for not being home when tragedy struck, I can’t focus on that. It doesn’t help. What I can do, is take solace in knowing that my beloved dog is not suffering. He’s with my Momma now. I like to think that he’s in dog heaven, chasing all the bunnies and eating all the bacon and table scraps. It brings me comfort. I’m grateful for the time I had with Mal, and will cherish the memories I have of him. Rest easy, Captain. May you aim to misbehave beyond the rainbow bridge.

Dissociation Blues

I feel lost and disconnected. I find myself dissociating frequently, on a daily basis. I don’t want to feel this way, I want to feel happy but I know I can’t be happy all the time. I have to let myself feel the full spectrum of emotions, even the painful and negative ones. At the very least, acknowledge them and wait for them to pass. “This too shall pass.” It doesn’t take long for my moods to shift, between my bipolar and my borderline I have frequent episodes. If I were to plot out my ups and downs on paper, it would resemble the heartbeat of a squirrel stuck in traffic. This is what I’m like without medications. That being said, I’m on medications so I know it isn’t that. This is grief. This is depression. This is anxiety.

I live with depression and anxiety, I’m no stranger to them. This grief thing though, it’s really messing with me. Normally I am scatterbrained but now it’s just ridiculous. I spent ten minutes of my suppertime the other evening walking back and forth repeatedly from the dining room to the kitchen, all because I kept forgetting what I got up for and remembering what I needed once I got back to my chair. You wouldn’t believe how much time I waste in a day by being forgetful. I can pace around my house for hours, aimlessly looking in each room and wondering where to start and what to do. This is what I mean by feeling lost. It’s both frustrating and depressing to live like this.

I lose myself in almost anything lately. It’s like I’m mindfully avoiding the emptiness by distracting myself. I spend all hours with my baby during the day, exploring with him and playing. I tend to shirk my housewifely duties altogether, sadly. I don’t want or mean to, it just happens. There are countless days where my husband will come home from work to find me playing with baby, the house is a mess, and dinner hasn’t even been started. Thankfully, my husband is extremely understanding and helps me get back on track.

Last week was rough. I felt detached from my body, as if I were floating above myself like a balloon. I was there, but not all there. I went through the motions of cooking and cleaning without a thought process, and made the silliest mistakes. I kept telling my family and friends that I wasn’t feeling like myself and that I was dissociating, and while they sympathized I don’t think they fully understood. I stirred soup with a ladle instead of a whisk, I zoned out during conversations, I went speechless when I should have used my words, I stood around watching everyone else go about their day with a blank stare on my face. I drifted around my house and had urges to clean the bathroom when I should have been making pizza dough. I would confuse myself trying to be productive, which is actually counter productive. I felt myself slipping into dissociation and nothing I did could stop it. I noticed the signs but was helpless to help myself.

How do I stop myself from dissociating? That is a very good question. First, I have to recognize that I am indeed dissociating. Sometimes I don’t and it will continue for hours. When I do recognize it, I take note of what I am thinking and feeling. I use grounding techniques, mindfulness, music, and meditation. I go barefoot to feel my feet touching the ground. I wash my hands to feel the water and soap bubbles. I hug my children and feel their warmth. Lots of feels. Feeling things helps put me back together, so to speak. Music helps keep me from floating away in my mind, I have music playing for at least a few hours during the day. Usually I end up dancing, which lightens my mood and keeps me grounded. Mindfulness helps me a lot too. I get so lost trying to multitask around the house, mindfully doing one thing at a time is both relaxing and grounding. I’ll talk to myself and describe what I see, hear, feel, touch, smell or taste. Sometimes none of the above works, and that’s okay too. This too shall pass. I won’t feel this way forever, it will go away soon enough. I don’t give up when my techniques fail, I endure and persevere. I will keep reminding myself of where I am, what I see and what I’m doing. I will never give up on myself.

My husband is a huge help, he’s always there for me. He will walk with me through the fog with gentle reminders and supportive words. He helped me make myself a routine so I don’t wander around aimlessly during the day. I have to keep busy or else my mind wanders outside my body. It’s difficult to stick to my routine but I am trying my best and that’s what matters. I have alarms on my phone to help me too, and I am mindfully not dismissing them. Alarms for waking up, taking my meds, waking up the kids, doing my morning routine, making supper, etc. Every one of them has a purpose, and that is to keep me on track. I even have alarms to go to bed. It’s important for me to have a regular sleep cycle, because I have chronic insomnia and my insomnia affects my bipolar disorder. Insomnia and hypomania go hand in hand, for me anyways. I have to manage my illnesses so I can be stable for myself and my family. They depend on me, and I can’t let them down. I have to keep going, and to do that I need to fight the dissociation blues. I can do anything if I put my mind to it, if I believe in myself. I can do this. If I can weather the storms in my mind, I can enjoy the rainbow that eventually follows. If I can I will, and if I can’t, I’ll keep on trying.

Living with Grief

I’m having a bad day. It’s just not my day, I guess. There’s this heaviness that I can’t escape, it weighs on my soul. It’s been there since the day I got that fateful text about my Momma, on October 9th. She passed away on a Wednesday, October 10th. I’ve come to terms with her death and accept the fact that she’s gone but I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout. Some days are harder than others, today being one of those days. I’m lost in my thoughts and memories, swept up in a sea of emotions. I don’t know what to do with myself, so I’m writing it out as I go.

Grief is a strange thing to experience. Grief is a multifaceted response to loss. Emotional, physical, cognitive, spiritual, cultural, and behavioural are some of the dimensions of grief. People may experience some or all forms of grief when losing someone they loved. We have all experienced grief in some way, shape, or form at one point in our lives. It may have been the loss of a friend, a pet, a family member, or an acquaintance, the loss of a job, a relationship, or friendship. No one really talks about the grieving process though, in my opinion. Nobody told me that it would be physically draining, and numbing. I’ve experienced grief and loss more than once before, I’ve lost many beloved pets and I have buried my first born daughter. Losing my mother is an entirely different kind of grief. The first three months after she died were excruciating. I felt so heavy, inside and out. My eyelids felt heavy, I wanted to sleep all the time. Consuming caffeine had zero effect on me, I fell asleep a few times while drinking coffee. My arms were heavy, my feet dragged when I walked. Daily tasks were arduous, to say the least. Every little thing reminded me of Momma, made me want to text or call her and tell her about it and realizing that I could no longer do that was agonizing. I wouldn’t speak or move, sometimes for hours at a time. I often felt numb and empty inside, a shell of myself. I felt like I was on auto pilot, going through the motions of daily life mindlessly. I was constantly lost in my thoughts, and though I may have been outwardly quiet and still in my brain it was nonstop racing thoughts. All kinds of things went through my mind. Memories, questions, things I wanted to tell her.

I had so much I wanted to tell my mother. I was going to call her and Pop that morning. I made coffee with special flavoured beans they gave to me as a gift, I had been saving it for a special occasion but decided to indulge myself. My plan was to phone them and have morning coffee with them, and tell them that the night before we fed our baby pablum for the first time. That I was going to register for adult ed and hopefully finish my grade 12. That my two older munchkins were excited to be coming down for Halloween and trick or treating at Baba and Zaide’s house. But I never got to tell them. I never made that call, because life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. I love those lyrics, thank you John Lennon for writing them. I sang that to my mother while hugging her, right before we said our goodbyes and the Rabbi gave her last rites. She used to sing that to me often, as a reminder. I didn’t understand the lyrics until recently.

The physical aspect of grieving is over, I think. It’s hard to distinguish between grief and my illnesses sometimes. My bipolar has been messing with me, I’m back to ultra rapid cycling. Even on my manic days, I still grieve but it’s manageable. I have my moments where I cry and remember Momma, and then I wipe my tears and carry on with my day. I look up at the sky often and smile, believing that she is looking down on me. Grief is tolerable when I’m manic, mixed manic not so much. Grief is crippling when I am depressed, it’s incapacitating. I’m a housewife, and you can tell when I’m struggling. The house will be a mess; I can’t keep up with the housework. Laundry and dishes start to pile up, dust accumulates on every surface, and the piles. I make piles of stuff to take to each room and put away. Some days, I’m so scatterbrained that I don’t move the stuff and then it just sits there and becomes an organized mess. This is where the other dimensions of grief come in and mess with me. I already have executive function issues, attention deficits, and brain fog due to my illnesses. Now I have this heaviness on my soul and it leaves me hopelessly muddled. I will spend the day with my baby and crochet instead of doing my housework, and not because I am trying to shirk my housewifely duties. I literally don’t know what to do with myself. I will wander from room to room, trying to decide where to start and what to do. For hours. I stopped listening to my phone alarms that prompt me to take my meds, do my morning/bedtime routines, make supper, etc. I don’t even realize that I’m dismissing my alarms, I’m on auto pilot. I get lost in playing with my baby, he makes the grief go away, and that helps.

Distractions are a blessing. I distract myself from the grief constantly, I don’t really know what else to do. I crochet daily now. I taught myself how to crochet a few years ago but I didn’t make it a habit or hobby until I was pregnant last year, it kept me busy and upbeat. Momma wanted me to teach her, but she wasn’t feeling well enough to do it when I was staying at her house. She loved taking me shopping at Michael’s, we’d stay in the yarn section for as long as her pain let her. She bought all kinds of yarn for the munchkins. My three munchkins were her only grandchildren. Sadly, she never got to crochet with me and make beautiful things together. But I digress… I was crocheting regularly when Momma passed away, in fact I brought a scarf I was working on for my daughter with me when I drove down with my girlfriend to see Momma at the hospital. When we went back to our hotel rooms the evening that Momma passed away, I brought out my yarn and started crocheting. It helped me process what was happening, it helped me think. Just like music, I love listening to music. It soothes the voices and thoughts in my head, so I can think straight. The lyrics, the rhythm, it’s like therapy for me. Crocheting is very much the same, the rhythmic stitching has the same effect on me. It slows down my brain, so I don’t get lost in myself.

My Pop gave me all of Momma’s yarn, and I have made it my personal mission to create meaningful things with them. I have made scarves, hats, and blankets so far, I am still figuring out what to make with the rest. I feel compelled to honour her memory each and every day, and so I have been crocheting almost every day. She had this soft acrylic yarn in beautiful hues of pink and blue. I didn’t know what she intended to make with them, so I made them into messy bun hats for myself and my daughter. I love wearing my hat, it makes me feel close to Momma. There were a few large skeins of bulky yarn, it’s plush and mermaid coloured. I made an afghan blanket out of it, and we call it “Baba’s blanket”. I frogged that blanket damn near a dozen times, trying to make it perfect. I don’t know why but it had to be perfect, as if Momma was going to inspect it or something. I’ve had that mentality with every project using Momma’s yarn.

It will be seven months since Momma’s passing on the tenth next Friday, and my youngest son’s first birthday the following Monday. I really hope I don’t fall into a depressive episode, but it may be inevitable. Every month around the eleventh, I crash. It’s like a subconscious delayed reaction to her anniversary, I’m aware of the date but it doesn’t hit me until the day after. I don’t want my grief overshadowing my joy for my son’s birthday. He was my Mother’s Day gift, oh my, Mother’s Day is next Sunday! My first one without Momma. Oh boy. I am not prepared for this. This is going to be rough. This is why it’s so important for me to stay distracted, because if I don’t then the emptiness will return, and the grief will take over. I have to stay strong, for my family. I need to keep my head above the water, so to speak. Maybe if I stay focused on my routine and day to day work, it won’t be so bad. I’m trying some new habits, like walking around the block with my baby and exercising. It feels good to eat healthy. When I’m depressed I don’t cook, meals are simple to make and less clean up. The most menial of tasks are a daunting chore for me, things like prepping veggies and making smoothies. I avoid them like the plague, and I don’t understand why. I despise myself when my depression negatively effects the household, and that needs to change. I started meal planning again, it helps keep me on track for daily meals. I tend to wander aimlessly like a lost sloth in traffic, wondering what to feed the family for supper. Meal planning will eliminate that conundrum altogether. I need to be more mindful so I can combat my frequent dissociation. Dissociation is a hallmark of BPD, however it is also experienced in PTSD. I’m not sure if either of those are causing my dissociation or if it’s The Grief. Does it really matter which of my illnesses cause symptoms? Yes and no. I use DBT for all of my illnesses but depending on the situation I may use different skills. In this case, mindfulness skills. If I’m mindful, I’m more self aware of what I’m doing which would be quite helpful for those times when I’m on autopilot. It would also help bring me back to the present when I am ruminating on the past.


“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”

Stressed out – Twenty One Pilots

Written by Tyler Joseph

It’s quite onerous living with grief, but it is what it is. I detest it but I accept it. This too shall pass; I won’t feel this way forever. Tomorrow is a new day. Every day is a fresh start. I’m grateful to wake up every morning, and thankful to be alive. I live for my family and friends, and for myself. Positive affirmations, they’re working. This felt good to get out, I should do this more often.

“Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”

My husband is a wise man, wise beyond his thirty three years. We will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this August; these past ten years have been the best years of my life so far. I have been saying for years that he is a God bound in mortal form, and I worship him as one. I know nobody is perfect, but he is perfect for me. He has seen every side of me, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and he still accepts me and loves me for who I am, flaws and all. He treats me like a queen, a Goddess. He is my everything. He’s not only my best friend, he is my favourite person.

Favourite person. It’s a real term, regarding borderline personality disorder. Many people familiar with BPD are also familiar with the term, but for the most part the general population isn’t. Most people equate a favourite person to being a best friend, but it’s so much more than that. A favourite person is someone who you are emotionally invested in, so to speak. You put them up on a pedestal, above everyone else. They can make or break your day. Depending on whether they make or break your day is the difference between idealization and devaluation, or splitting. Splitting is another BPD term, it’s a coping defense mechanism. It’s the inability to hold opposing thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Everything is black and white, good and bad. Think the Sith in “Star Wars”, all or nothing. You’re either with me or against me.

Back to those terms, “favourite person” and “splitting” for a moment. My husband is my favourite person, and when I split on him, it isn’t pretty. It’s not a love/hate thing, I have never felt hate towards him. When I experience splitting, it’s more like splitting with myself instead of my husband. For me, splitting is when I go from being on top of the world and in love to crashing down into suicidal thoughts and fearing my husband will abandon me. It’s loving myself and accepting myself for who I am to self loathing and disgust in who I’ve become, and shame because my husband deserves better. I love him so much, I can’t fathom losing him. It doesn’t take much to trigger splitting for me, it could be body language, tone of voice, choice of words, a look. It’s like a switch flips inside of me, and I internalize it all. My husband could be stressed or having a bad day, and I will take it personally. I don’t want to, but I do. I understand and know that the world does not revolve around me, but if something could possibly jeopardize my relationship with my husband it involves me. I want to be the perfect wife for my husband. I never want to disappoint him. I know it’s not realistic, more idealistic I’d say. When I do fail and I disappoint him, it hits me hard, so hard I start to tell myself why I don’t deserve him and I don’t deserve to live. I punish myself severely for my mistakes, inside my head. I’ll call myself terrible names and say awful things about myself, and sometimes it gets so bad I dissociate and go on auto pilot which usually leads to me finding the sharpest knife in the knife block and hiding in my room, cutting my arms. Every insult is a slice. Every thought, a cut with blood bubbling out. That was my answer to everything, cutting. I’d cut when I was numb, just to feel something. I’d cut when I was sad, upset, stressed, angry, because it was as if my emotions and thoughts flowed out of me in the blood. I learned quickly that cutting is not the answer to my problems, though it took me years to learn that cutting is also a symptom of my BPD. When I get the urge to cut, little alarm bells go off in my brain. “Warning. Code red.” “This isn’t really you, this is your borderline messing with you.” A few months ago, I relapsed. I was just over two years clean from cutting, damn it. I don’t even remember the reason why I did it, but it happened and I can’t take it back. I can only keep moving forward. I did learn something from my relapse, and that is that when I experience splitting, I tend to lean on old habits and reach for a knife. I don’t know the exact correlation between splitting and self injury but it is there, for me, anyways. Most times, I am able to talk myself down from cutting. The urge is there, but I don’t act on it. I don’t know how to talk myself down from splitting. My husband can, and does it every time. He uses logic and rational thoughts, and facts. Also patience, my goodness is he ever patient with me. I don’t know how he does it, but he tames the borderline beast within me. It hurts me to be separated from him, even when he goes to work each day. I miss him as soon as he walks out of the house. When we do have to be separated for longer than a work day, I feel like a part of me is missing. This is what having a favourite person feels like to me. I do everything in my power to make him happy, and I feel like my world is collapsing on me when I can’t make him happy. It hurts me when he hurts. I feel his pain and anguish, his depression and anxiety as if it were my own.


My hubby influences my whole day, and it starts when we wake up. I never know which part of me will wake up in the morning. Will I wake up manic, bright eyed and bushy tailed? Will I wake up depressed and fight with myself to get out of bed so I can go and wake up my kids to start their day? Will I wake up crippled in pain from my fibromyalgia and be bed/couch ridden? Will I wake up tired and exhausted from insomnia and staying up late the night before? I never know. My hubby? He’s pretty consistent with his wake up routine, and that helps me immensely with my own routine. I love the time we have together before work, we snuggle and talk about the day ahead of us. He’s a positive influence, he makes me feel confident and sexy and capable of taking on anything life throws at me.

I love our talks. We talk about anything and everything in between, and we can talk for hours. One major subject of ours is my mental health, and my illnesses. My symptoms, my triggers, how my moods are during the day, my medications and their side effect. We talk daily about my mental health, if a day goes by where we don’t discuss it I would be surprised. He’s my biggest support, he is my rock. He helps keep me stable. When I’m unstable, he is right there to help me level out. Recently we were talking about a situation that causes me immense anxiety, and I said “I will hope for the best and expect the worst.” I say this to myself often, it helps me with social events and situations. We agreed that the saying means well but could be worded in a better light, and he replied, “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.” This makes much more sense to me, and better explains my
perspective on what life throws at me. I’ve been trying new things for my routine, and one of them is positive affirmations. When I feel overwhelmed and my emotions are too strong, I say positive affirmations and it helps me calm down. “This too shall pass” is one of my mantras, I have it tattooed on my left forearm so I don’t forget it. No matter how bad I feel, or how much I hurt, or how awful a situation is, it won’t last forever. This too shall pass. Hang in there. It works for me, and has saved my life more than a few times. I need other affirmations though, ones that will help me more with my anxiety. “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst” works for me. I tend to let my anxieties get the best of me, I fall into a downward spiral of catastrophizing and then depression and self doubt sink in and weigh me down. Reminding myself to think positively and rationally without judgement or assumptions is tiring, so if I have a few catch phrases to help me out, so be it.

I really do hope for the best and prepare for the worst when it comes to life. Every day I wake up and try my hardest to be a better wife, mother, and person than I was yesterday. Every day when my husband and children leave for work and school, I worry about them. I hope they have awesome days but there is a part of me that always worries that something catastrophic will happen to them and it will shatter our happy home, our family. My daughter will go for a bike ride and I’ll have intrusive thoughts of her being hit by a car. My son will go for a walk and this time the intrusive thoughts are he will be attacked by a bear. My husband will go to work and I’ll panic that he will get in an accident and I’ll never see him again. Especially if we’ve had a disagreement, I hate parting on negative terms. It’s extremely rare for us but it’s happened, and the rest of the day I am beside myself with grief and worry. I have to stop myself daily and remind myself that my family members are capable and safe in what they are doing. I say to my children before they leave the house, “Have fun and be safe.” I hope it reminds them to be aware of their surroundings and to use street smarts. I know I can’t have my family with me all the hours in a day and I know I can’t always be there to protect them, and I trust them to do the right things and stay safe. I know I can’t just erase my anxieties, if it were that easy nobody would suffer from anxiety. I get anxiety from day to day activities, like running errands and shopping. Anxiety prevents me from taking my infant son for daily walks, it stops me from going to weddings, socials, baby showers, you name it. Doctors appointments give me anxiety attacks, especially when it’s regarding my mental health. For years I have studied and learned how to manage my mania and depression, but I never studied and learned how to manage my anxiety. Three years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD and social anxiety disorder, and I have been learning ever since. I bought a few books about the conditions and while I have an arsenal of therapy skills and tricks to help me combat my illnesses, it doesn’t prevent the intrusive thoughts and panic attacks.

He’ll be home soon, I’m so excited. My husband makes me feel like a giddy high school girl, every text and phone call gives me butterflies. I’m blushing just thinking about him. I can’t wait for him to come home from work. I love untying his work boots and taking them off his feet, pulling off his socks and putting on his house crocs. I love to hear about his day, and what he did. I love hearing his voice as he speaks, watching his facial expressions and getting lost in his eyes. I don’t hope for the best and prepare for the worst with him, for there is no “worst” with him. Yes we have our ups and downs just like any other couple, but we ride them out together. It’s me and him vs. whatever life sends our way, not me vs. him. Every disagreement, every argument we’ve ever had, gets resolved and we grow closer together. I look forward to the rest of my life, which says a lot to me because at one point in my life I didn’t expect to live past twenty three years old. I honestly thought I would cut my life short by suicide, and to be honest I’m so glad I never did. I survived two attempts, and I’m proud of that. I am grateful that I survived, and continue to live. Each day is a fresh start, a blessing. I get to wake up next to the love of my life each morning, and at the end of the day I get to snuggle up to him and fall asleep. Every day I will hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Awkward Truths

I’m inconsistent. Consistently inconsistent, to be precise. I don’t know how else to describe it. I know I need to work on that, I need to set a good example for my kids. I’m consistent where I need to be, thank the Gods. Housework, caring for the children and their daily routines, taking care of the fur babies, cooking, laundry, etc, are fine. No worries there. It’s certain areas that need work such as blogging, self care, and my personal daily routines. I keep putting those things on the back burner, and I can no longer do that. I NEED to take proper care of myself, for my sake and my family’s.

Writing has always been a passion of mine, as well as a mental outlet. I love writing. So, why is it so hard for me to keep a consistent blog? Every time I start writing a blog entry, it’s like writer’s block hits me. I blank and space out. Yet throughout my day, I will narrate my thoughts in my head without effort. It does not translate when I go to type it out, I know what I want to say but it just does not compute. When things run smoothly and I’m able to write my thoughts down, I become so self critical that if I don’t consider my writing perfect then I refuse to publish it which actually hinders me. I need to stop that, starting now.

Recently I lost my beloved Momma, it was sudden and unexpected. It shattered my imperfectly perfect little world, and turned it upside down. Grief does weird things to a person. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and ponder since losing Momma, and while I believe everything happens for a reason I can’t help but wonder what those reasons are. I may never know. I have felt a rainbow of emotions since Momma passed away, some of the emotions I expected to feel while others caught me off guard.

I was always afraid of becoming my mother. I can’t explain why. Recently I watched the movie “How To Train Your Dragon 2” for the umpteenth time, and it was during an emotional scene with the protagonist, Hiccup, where it hit me – why I was so afraid. Hiccup says, “I was so afraid of becoming my dad, mostly because I thought I never could. How do you become someone that great, that brave, that selfless? I guess, you can only, try.” That hit home for me, and while I have watched that scene hundreds of times, it didn’t resonate with me until that moment.

I WANT to be my mother. I wish I was half the woman she was. She was my hero. I always strived to make my parents proud, and even though Momma is no longer living I wish to make her proud by honouring her memory and doing things I know made her proud of me. I need to take pride in myself and my own accomplishments, however small they may be.

I want to be a writer. I want to be a published author. Momma always loved my written work, she said I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. So here I am, writing this blog entry. It may not seem like much, but hey, I tried and that’s what matters.

My momma and me on my wedding day, October 2013. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my Mommy you’ll be.” – – Robert Munsch

2016 in Review

Oh, hello! *waves* I know, it’s been forever! Too long, in my opinion. Where the hell have I been for the past year and a bit?! Nowhere extravagant or foreign, just the old and familiar setting of the caverns that is my brain. Mentally speaking, that is. Physically, I have been a hermit. I’ve stayed home all these months with the exception of a week or two during Spring Break last year and this year, and all of July 2016. Those times were spent at my in-laws’ farm which is about an eleven hour drive south of my remote northern Canadian bush town. It’s a patch of paradise, I say. I love the farm!

Let’s just say that 2016 was not my year. I know, apparently it wasn’t many people’s year. For me, it was a non-stop roller coaster ride of hypomanic, depressive, and mixed bipolar episodes with spurts of fibromyalgia flare ups and BPD episodes sprinkled in for good measure. I’m going to break it down, here’s my 2016 in review.

  1.  I started out the year with a close friend leaving town to move eleven hours south.
  2.  I picked up extra bartending shifts at my local Royal Canadian Legion until I was slammed with a major Fibromyalgia flare up, it sent me spiraling into a major depressive episode which eventually dissipated a few months later.
  3.  I put my back out pushing my mattress towards the wall, resulting in a mechanical injury to my spine, L5 area to be exact.
  4.  I suffered flashbacks and nightmares stemming from my sexual abuse and rape many years ago. I didn’t realize until a while later that my flashbacks coincided with the anniversary (HA! more like date of misery) of my rape.
  5.  I relapsed with cutting, so many times I can’t count. The scars are still quite visible for some odd reason. I have been clean since October 20, 2016.
  6.  I fought off intrusive suicidal thoughts and urges while maintaining composure during my time taking care of children. Unfortunately I had to stop taking care of said children due to my deteriorating mental health, which basically ruined the friendship my family had with this other family.
  7.  I’ve stayed strong and supportive while members of my family are struggling with debilitating illnesses. I’m still keeping it together, in order to support them and help them stay positive.
  8.  I took a month leave with my kids to stay at our camper on my in-law’s farm. It was amazing and definitely helped me come out of my black depression. I love the outdoors, and seeing my kids and dogs run freely around the farm without a worry was such a relief.
  9.  We came home earlier than anticipated, as my daughter fell ill with hand foot and mouth disease. Within the week my husband and I fell ill as well. We stayed in our home all of August, in a self-quarantine. My son was lucky, as he was only a carrier of the virus. I wound up developing viral meningitis, when I went to my local hospital I was humiliated and not taken seriously because “She’s Borderline, so…”, it took me over a month to recover from the meningitis. I will delve into more detail on this in a future post.
  10. I got into some of the worst fights with my Hubby ever, thankfully our arguments always get resolved and it only made us closer as a couple. Looking back, I think I inadvertently started every fight. I am so sorry, my beloved.

That’s pretty much it in a small nutshell. There are also factors that have benefited me this year. I made sure to try my best in all of the above events. I’ve been quite the bookworm, thank goodness. I certainly missed that hobby! Now that my children are past the toddler and preschooler ages, I’m able to sit and read for longer than two minutes. I should really stick to just one book and read it through before starting the next one, but that’s why I have bookmarks. I am reading various self help books, and holy therapy Batman are they helping me!

I’ve learned a few things from my ups and downs during 2016, and while they are things I already knew (well, knew OF is more like it), I finally understand why these lessons are repeated ad nauseum throughout the mental health community.

  1.  MEDICATION COMPLIANCE IS A MUST. Yes, I know. We’ve all heard it before, from doctors, nurses, our parents (or maybe just mine), therapists. You seriously have to stay on top of that shit. I’ve always half assed my medication routine, regularly forgetting doses on a weekly basis. Well, I smartened up and set alarms on my phone without the choice of a snooze button. Unfortunately, we had a snag in our prescription coverage and I wound up simultaneously going off three psych meds cold turkey. FOR FOUR BLOODY WEEKS. It was horrendous. My withdrawal was starting to die down when our coverage was reinstated, so I could start taking my meds again. Going off meds cold turkey and then restarting those same meds after going through withdrawal is no pony ride. I’ve had a few missed doses here and there since the coverage fiasco, and I noticed a major difference in my moods and energy whenever it has happened, and I can feel those effects for about three days. I now keep track off all my meds and my son’s in one weekly pill case. The alarm goes off, I do my med rounds. I will not subject myself to missed doses again. Not if I can help it.
  2. UNRESOLVED TRAUMA WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU. You can run, but you can’t hide from your own memories and history. I know, because I tried. I’m 32 now; I was raped by Abuser #1 when I was 16. That was half a lifetime ago for me. The rape was a culmination of 5 years of sexual abuse. I tried to pretend it didn’t happen, but when I was 17 my parents found out, Child and Family Services got involved along with the municipal sex crimes unit, and I couldn’t pretend anymore. Once I turned 18, I had the file closed and did my best to put it behind me by ignoring what happened. I shoved all the traumatic memories into the deepest, darkest crawlspace in the recesses of my brain. I was good until I began a relationship with my ex (Abuser #2) in the winter of 2003. I was just shy of 19. That relationship lasted 5 years and 3 months, and left me with a lifetime of emotional baggage and trauma. It also left me with my beloved son, who gave me a reason to wake up and smile every day. It was in his best interest that I left my ex in March 2009, and I’m so glad I finally gathered the courage to leave him. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD, to be honest I identify more with Complex PTSD but I’m not the expert. These two abusers are largely responsible for me having PTSD.  I am finally on the path of recovery, all these years later. Hey, better late than never.
  3. SELF CARE IS VITAL TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. Seriously. Self care is key. On the days where I am at my lowest, getting out of bed is exhausting. That’s why on my worst days, I don’t leave my bed. I will do nothing but lay there in my hermit cave of furry covers and snuggle with my cats and dogs, existing. And it’s exhausting, but sometimes it has to be done. Think of it as mental self-preservation. If it’s too painful for me to move around, I am pretty much bed ridden. So I make the most of that time by doing activities that I find soothing. Colouring and reading are my big ones, along with painting. Only issue with that is I have early onset psoriatic arthritis in my hands, and when they flare up with my fibromyalgia I can’t even hold a spoon to feed myself, let alone grip a pencil crayon to colour. Sometimes self care manifests as Netflix and whatever comfort foods you can find, or devoting some time to a favourite hobby. Either way… when you are down and out, you need to take care of yourself. Self care doesn’t have to be extravagant manicures and spa days. Self care can be as simple as making sure you brushed your teeth that day, avoiding social media for the day, or simply just giving yourself credit for making it this far in life. Self care is identifying your own needs and taking the steps to meet those needs. It’s about being kind to yourself, and treating yourself the way you want others to treat you.

Learning these important lessons was not fun, as I learned them the hard way. Repeatedly. Now that the information has finally sank in and absorbed into my grey matter, hopefully I will never have to relearn why medication compliance is a must. Ever hear of Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome? Take it from me, it’s no picnic in the park. I would say it’s worse than quitting Ziprasidone (Geodon/Zeldox) cold turkey.

2016 has come and gone, along with half of 2017 already. Holy geeze, time flies. I’m still here, so I will take that as a blessing and be grateful I am alive.

***Edited to add that today is July 9, 2017. The date listed is actually when I started the original draft of this post. That’s right, I am a newbie blogger and don’t know how to edit the dates. I am the Queen of procrastination.***