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.

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.

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.

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.***

 

My Diagnosis & Beyond • #MirandaLSAtkinson • @BiMommaBear • twitter.com/BiMommaBear • wp.me/p649Pa-8C

Written by yours truly xoxo ❤

@BipolarUs

My Diagnosis and Beyond

My name is Miranda, and I have Bipolar Disorder 2 (ultra-rapid cycling). I was diagnosed with it on January 9, 2012, after months of severe postpartum depression, and years of clinical depression/unipolar disorder. Along with my bipolar diagnosis was a borderline personality disorder diagnosis. Apparently the two conditions tend to go hand in hand. I have read that many people feel shattered when they receive their diagnosis. Not me, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was as if the elephant of burden that sat on my shoulders decided to take a hike. I finally felt some relief, but it was short lived. What did my conditions mean? Where would I go from there? Would I ever be normal? What do I do now?

I dug my steel toes in and did some research. Ok, a ton of research. I went hypomanic researching my…

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Grabbing water drops from a waterfall of thoughts

I should be doing something. I don’t know what, there’s always something to do. I feel jittery, full of energy, but it takes so much effort to get off the damned couch. It’s both irritating and confusing to feel this way. Do I run around the house full bore, cleaning and multitasking while forgetting where I’m going? Do I stay where I am, lost in my own thoughts? I choose to stay put, and type instead. The laptop was sitting beside me anyways, might as well put it to use.

A pile of clean laundry glares at me from across the living room, waiting to be folded and put away. A “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie poster lays beside the laundry, half uncurled. My daughter’s pony castle sits atop the laundry mountain, I forgot to put it back on the floor after sweeping. The laundry needs to be switched and a new load added to the wash. Dishwasher needs to be emptied and reloaded. Counters need to be cleaned. Entrances need to be vacuumed, along with the play room and den. Dirty laundry to be gathered. I can go on, but it’s painful just to list off what I have yet to do. I love staying at home full time, I really do. I enjoy mopping floors, dancing while vacuuming and prepping meals, but most of all I love being with my children. They are the whole reason why I stay at home.

^^^^ That was as far as I got for an entry yesterday. I had an energy spike and tackled the laundry monster that was eating my sofa, and puttered around with intent. My lovely cat Felix now lays sleeping where the laundry once was. I didn’t get much done, I guess. Dishwasher’s still clean, laundry’s still in the washer and dryer, and two neatly folded piles are on the sofa. Gotta love scatterbrained mixed episodes. I have physical symptoms of severe depression and manic behaviour. On top of that I am sick, some kind of virus my Munchkins shared with me. … Sharing is caring. Lol! Munchkins are both sick too, they’ve been home from school all week.

My body feels like it’s having a muted pain episode, my joints ache and even trying to relax is uncomfortable. I am thankful for Cymbalta and Abilify, for they are keeping me functional. My brain feels swollen from all of the random thoughts, lists, ideas, regrets, worries, DBT skills, and whatever else is racing through my mind. Plucking thoughts from my mind is like trying to pick water drops from a gushing waterfall. So many at once, it’s dizzying.

I have to get up. There’s work to be done. What to do first? Munchkins are enjoying lollipops, so lunch will come later. I don’t want to move. I just want to sit and exist. Curl up in a ball under the covers and hibernate until the sickness subsides and my moods level out. I can’t. I need to be strong, even when I’m feeling so weak. Just do it. Make a pot of green tea, and just give’r. I guess while I’m sitting I can make a list of things to do and then I can plug away at them. I should make cookies and muffins, the kids were asking about baking with me today. We forgot family game night last night! Better bust out the Jenga soon.

Ugh, my brain! Stop it! Right, make a list and then get things done. Wish me luck. Ta Ta For Now!

A Candle In a World of Darkness

I have pondered starting a blog or diary of some sort for a few years now, but every time I sit down to write, I draw a blank. Not today. Last evening I had an interesting conversation with my hubby, and it got the wheels turning on different ideas and thoughts I have in my head. One subject we touched was patterns in my behaviour that we have noticed in the last while. We both noticed the same pattern but were seeing it from different perspectives. The said pattern is that when I am avoiding intimacy, I tend to bury my nose into a book or zone out on my cell phone. Hubby pointed out that when I am not in the mood, I distract myself with books, knowledge, and less positive subjects that tend to turn me off of intimacy. I saw his perspective, only from mine it wasn’t about avoiding intimacy. It was about avoidance of my thoughts and being generally withdrawn, which is a sign I’m in my downward spiral. Yep, I knew it. I’ve felt it for over a week now, but I was hoping the meds would stop me from falling down the rabbit hole.  I asked him if he had noticed that said pattern tends to coincide with my depressive episodes.

You see, I’m different from other people. I am what you would typically call crazy. The professionals call it bipolar disorder II ultra-rapid cycling (severe form of type 2 manic depression), and borderline personality disorder. I call it my life. Sometimes I feel as if I am crazy, and at other times I feel like I am one of the last sane humans in a world gone mad. I have researched my “disorders”, among other things. Research is one of my obsessions, by the way. I now understand why my moods tend to be volatile and why I have certain quirks. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like a psychiatrist and therapist telling you that your quirks are not actual quirks but symptoms of mental illness. I’m not unique, I’m just crazy. However, that is their perspective. I’m the one living with these “illnesses” and dammit I am going to live positively, sicknesses and all.

Oh yeah, back to my conversation with Hubby. I tend to go off on random tangents then forget where I was. Another tidbit that came up in conversation was the fact that I tend to get interrupted, cut off mid sentence. Whomever interrupts me starts talking, I’ll stop so as not to interrupt them (it must be of importance for them to cut me off like that), and the conversation continues from there without a thought to what I was originally saying. It’s been like that as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I always wondered why people would interrupt me. I didn’t like to intrude on conversations, and I certainly waited my turn to speak. I used to think that people couldn’t hear me, I was not loud enough. I raised my voice, and it didn’t change a thing. I just recently turned thirty, and nothing’s changed. My kids interrupt me multiple times throughout the day. I don’t get upset with them, they are my children and usually they interject because they’re so animated about the conversation it’s as if their thoughts being contained are hurting them so they need to release it, even if that means interrupting Momma.

That topic got me thinking of how many of my friends don’t listen to me when I talk, yet expect me to listen to them for hours on end about anything and everything. I am lucky, for Hubby is my best friend. We are always there for each other, when one of us is weak the other is the uplifting rock. I am also lucky to have a supportive family (both his and mine), and a few besties. My other friends are just that, other friends. I’m their “therapist”, I just don’t charge them for my hours. Lately, I’ve been debating it. When all is well with them or I need someone to listen or talk to for advice, they vanish. I know when things go sour for them, because my cell phone will go off with texts and phone calls. All of a sudden I’m popular! Time to put on the kettle for tea, I’m having a visitor. My visit turns out to be several hours of a friend venting and bitching about whatever is their issue of the day/week/month. I’ll try and get in a few words, whether it’s advice, my opinion, sympathy, relating to them, etc…. I can barely say a peep. Texting is much easier to get my point across, for it is rather difficult to ignore a bubble of words glaring at you. When I do manage to talk, I know they can hear me. Once their crisis has been averted and I have made them laugh, it’s time for them to vanish. Oh, would you look at the time? Gotta run, thanks for listening, you’re the best! What would I do without you? You’re the only one who understands. You’re the only one who listens. I’ve heard all of it. But, do they ever hear me? How do I make myself be heard? Maybe I’m not supposed to voice my thoughts. Nah… I’m too bitchy, sarcastic, and dirty minded to keep quiet. Oh, you’ve seen nothing yet.

Where was I? I talked about interrupting and not being able to be listened, alright then, onto my next thought bubble. I think I have been viewing this from the wrong perspective. Perhaps I need to view this from a more positive point. I tend to feel invalidated whenever I am used as a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, a therapist. I feel used and abused when the same people I drop practically anything for when they need something are never able to return the favour when I need someone. Maybe I should feel happy that they chose me as the person they need to uplift their spirits. I am their candle of light in a world of darkness. I am their sparkle in the shadow. I am no hero or saviour, that’s for damned sure. These friends are not the type of people who use others like Kleenex and throw them away. These are friends that come over for barbeques, our husbands are buddies (I’m buddies with the hubbies too), and our children play together. My friends are not heartless, nor selfish – well, not completely anyway. One friend is rather selfish but she has a multitude of her own issues and I don’t think she can really see past herself to notice that the world does in fact revolve around the sun and not her. But that’s another story for another post.

I think I know my purpose in life; I am a helper. I don’t need the spotlight, nor do I want it. I am the sparkle of guidance. Time and time again, I help others by listening, offering comfort, and guidance. I have been thanked more than once for being the only one there for them. They’re not alone. I don’t think anyone is ever completely alone; it’s that they are putting up mental walls and shutting people out. I just know how to bust through the walls.

Perhaps this is all crazy talk, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it does make sense. It makes sense to me right now. I don’t know. Knowing me, my moods will flip and I’ll think up something else crazy and unconventional that doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Who knows?