Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself

(Ghandi)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I'm really not good with change. One of the precursors, perhaps even catalysts, to my last psychotic break was shifting offices - the entire company moved across town to a newer, fancier office space which was my very idea of hideousness. Our old building was opposite a park, walking distance to the comfort of retail outlets and various cafes, and the office layout was cubicle style. I shared my cubicle with people I almost-liked. Then we moved to a street shared with a brothel and a methadone clinic where our entire company was set out over one huge floor, in open-plan setting, and my desk was adjacent to a couple of the loudest, most irritating telephonists and also near enough that I could overhear every critical comment directed at me from the woman known as the Notorious B.I.T.C.H. My paranoia, OCD, introversion, hysteria and the like escalated to the point that within a month I could no longer do my job and was put on medical leave (never to return).

I guess my point is that I need to make sure I'm doing okay with this new massive change in my life. Loneliness and abstract terror aside, am I managing to readjust and get in to some kind of groove? On the plus side, I am in good therapy now and have working medication (unlike prior to my breakdown when the huge dose of sertraline I was taking was making things worse rather than better). On the negative, I don't really have any stability in other areas of my life - although I've been at my job for 7 months now (can you believe how fast time passes??) I still feel like most people there consider me at worst a destructive influence, at best a hard-working annoyance. I'm determined to work at it, and stay there, because it's proving to be a great way to work through some of my Borderline issues and tendencies. But it's not the most comforting place to be and consequently I'm in a state of unease (disease? lol) at home as well as at work.

Knowing all this, and being self-aware and mindful (love that DBT), I believe I can claw my way to a state of security and calm. In some ways, the odds are probably against it, but one thing the odds don't take into account is my sheer bloody-mindedness haha!! I swear, that is more powerful than any medication or therapy for getting me through hell and high water. I simply refuse to let my illness, other people, fate, Satan, or what-ever beat me down. Dylan Thomas would say "rage, rage against the dying of the light", P!nk would say "don't let me get me". I like to quote the game show and shout NO DEAL.

Monday, December 7, 2009

dressed like a punk you were too young to remember

Had a great session with Doc A on Thursday, where I rambled about my babyish fears and feelings of separation anxiety from my family, and he made the predictable, yet accurate, statements about the challenges of individuation and such. I sometimes think that my main gain from therapy is the validation, which seems so irritating because it's a basic service I shouldn't need to pay $250 an hour for, and for which Doc A needn't have studied for ten years! I could have just recorded my own voice on a tape recorder saying "you are fine, you are okay, yes you have reasons to be angry, yes it's okay to feel sad". Aaargh. I'm kidding, really, I know there's more to it and that the work I'm doing with Doc A has helped my Ego gain control over the rampaging Id and all that Jungian palaver. In the end, I can say 100% that therapy is worth the effort and the financial outlay - I'm "better" with it than without it I guess. That's what it comes down to with medication, too. If I function more effectively, and feel happier and more peaceful on fluoxetine and amisulpride, then I'll keep taking it.

In other news, I had a brief reawakening of my mojo a couple of weeks ago, brought about by a flirtatious afternoon with my 18-year-old coworker Logan. Innappropriate, who me?? It's interesting to me that I could actually FEEL myself becoming BPD-ish, and more importantly could head my obsessive fantasies off at the pass, as if they were runaway brumbies lol. He's a lovely lad, and if I was twenty (or even ten haha!) years younger I'd give it a red hot go, but really - even I know where to draw the line. Logan is the only man who works for the Foundation, and Michelle said to me maybe I'd fixated on him because I missed male company and Logan was the only male in my environment... Probably true! I'm not exactly falling over blokes in my current life. Most of the time I don't want one (a bloke that is), but sometimes it's nice to imagine. I'm relieved that my fancying Logan was a short and sweet moment in time, rather than a long drawn-out obsessive crush like that last two workmates I flirted with. Maybe I really AM becoming well??

(Belle & Sebastian provide today's song lyric - "I'm a Cuckoo")

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

and i hate elevator music...the way we fight

I'm a big, fat, bawling, slack-jawed baby.

I miss having a fully-stocked fridge and pantry.
I hate having to add up in my head how much it costs to buy cheese AND crackers.

I miss air-conditioning.
I hate having to grovel to property managers about broken ceiling fans.

I miss green garden beds and roses.
I hate stupid weeds and overgrown garden mess.

I miss my mom cooking three nights a week.
I hate having to organise my own meals every damn day.

I miss window locks and safety screens.
I hate worrying about thieves, rapists and murderers.

I miss my dog and my other cat.
I miss the swimming pool.
I miss having the internet and email at home.
I miss someone noticing if I'm too sick to get out of bed.

There are plenty of things I don't miss about living with my family. Notably, the extra 2 hours bus transport every day. But it's a massive adjustment, and sometimes I catch myself in the mindset that it's a temporary move, as if I'm on vacation somewhere alone and will end up back in the family home before long. Of course, that's not true, nor do I WANT it to be true.

I guess I'm just waiting for time to pass, and for it to seem normal/acceptable/okay that I am lacking all those things listed above. I know it will happen. Meantime I'm Cliche-Girl - keeping my chin determinedly up, soldiering on, hanging in there, waiting to exhale...

Monday, November 23, 2009

and i'll be willin' to be movin'

Surreal though it is, I am all moved in. I feel kind of like a teenager leaving for college, without the frat parties and pillow fights, and with three nervous breakdowns and a mess of medications on my resume. In short, it's scary. No money, no family support, no hitching a lift wherever I want to go. I'm ashamed to admit that in my former daily routine my mom doled out everyone's various medications and vitamin supplements, including mine, and this morning when I had to lay out my own meds I thought I was going to cry. Pathetic!! The thing is, I KNOW I have to suck it up and cope, and I know that once I get used to flying solo it will be fun and exhilirating and inspiring (the way it used to be, back before the Mr Ex days). But this adjustment period is tough, you know? Being with Michelle is awesome, so that's one benefit, and this morning I got to work in less than half the time it usually takes. This is me, Lil, focusing on the positives...

Anyway, I am happy with how things are in the new place, everything fits (kind of) and everything looks good (mostly). Basically I have FAR TOO MUCH CRAP, and am planning to cull some of it over the next couple of months. One of the problems with living in large houses, as I've done for ten years, is that I never threw anything out -- consequently, I found a lot of things while unpacking that I thought "What??" Stupidly, one of the things I found was my quarter-written book about I. Oliver, and even more stupidly I re-read the thing and no doubt that contributed to my slightly dark mood. Decent writing, but such a sad time in my life.

We don't have internet connection at home yet, so I am having to check emails, blog, etc from work, so forgive me if I'm not around as much. I also am having issues commenting on Blogger blogs, for some strange reason - it comes up saying error on page. Hannah and Ruby Tuesday, I particularly wanted to send big loves to you both but have been unable ): I also can't seem to comment on my own posts, hence the clumsy edit situation on my previous post. Is this why people have been abandoning Blogger for Wordpress?? Can't say I blame them, as it's driving me to distraction.

(Linda Rondstadt - "Willin'")

Monday, November 16, 2009

meditating in the mosh pit

The title of today's post comes from a book rather than a song lyric. I don't "do" book reviews, have always been better at reading books than describing them to others, however I wanted to express how much I loved reading Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe. It helped me see that it's okay to want to avoid chit chat at work, and to wish some folks would just shut the heck up already! I'm not "anti-social" because I prefer my own company to that of most other people, and it explained why and how I gain such joy from my rich Virtual World. Introvert Power claims that more than half the population are Introverts trying to get by, and fit into, a world that it geared towards Extroverts, and that a lot of Introverts put themselves down or criticise themselves for not being more outgoing or extroverted. Definitely applies to me!

Here's the product description from Amazon:

"If you have introvert inclinations and are doubting yourself, this is a must read. Or if you know someone who exhibits introvert symptoms, read this book before calling the shrink."
- Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, author of One Night's Shelter: An Autobiography of an American Buddhist Monk

EMBRACE THE POWER INSIDE YOU
Are you an introvert? Psychologist and introvert Laurie Helgoe reveals that more than half of all Americans are. Introverts gain energy and power through reflection and solitude. Our culture, however, is geared toward the extrovert. The pressure to enjoy parties, chatter, and interactions can lead people to think that an inward orientation is a problem instead of an opportunity.

Helgoe shows that the exact opposite is true: Introverts can capitalize on this inner source of power. INTROVERT POWER is a groundbreaking call for an introvert renaissance, a blueprint for how introverts can take full advantage of this hidden strength in daily life. Supplemented by the voices of several introverts, Helgoe presents a startling look at introvert numbers, influence, and economic might.

Revolutionary and invaluable, INTROVERT POWER includes ideas for how introverts can learn to:

  • Claim private space
  • Carve out time to think
  • Bring a slower tempo into daily life
  • Create breaks in conversation and relationships
  • Deal effectively with parties, interruptions, and crowds

QUIET IS MIGHT. SOLITUDE IS STRENGTH. INTROVERSION IS POWER.

And a quote from inside the book:

Introverts generally prefer a rich inner life to an expansive social life, we would rather talk intimately with a close friend than share stories with a group and we prefer to develop our ideas internally rather than interactively.

Hooray, I actually feel like someone out there, maybe lots of "someones" understand me. I know from my friends here in the "madosphere" that there are a lot of people struggling with the pressure to be constantly "up" and "on" in our lives. Laurie Helgoe's book is written in a light-hearted yet forthright way, and was an easy read as well as an interesting one.

I'm currently reading "The Dance of Anger" so maybe that'll be my next "non-review" lol...

EDIT/ADD ON
For some reason Blogger won't allow me to comment on my own posts today, so here's what I would have said in response to the comments below!

Firstly, how thrilled am I that Laurie Helgoe visited my blog and made a comment! Thank you so much Laurie. One of the things I loved most about Introvert Power is the personal tone she uses, with many anecdotes from her own life and relationships as well as quotes from other introverts. Brilliant book, I have already ordered two more copies for friends.
Coyote - I thought of you often while I was reading, there are a lot of correlations between things Laurie mentions in the book and situations you and I have experienced and discussed. Definitely look out for it.
Dreamwriter - thank you for dropping by, I always enjoy your reviews!
Lady Amanda - I know what you mean, I am more talkative than some Introverts (Laurie Helgoe calls us Socially Accessible Introverts) but definitely prefer the company of other Introverts who tend to understand my need for quiet time. I think you'd get a lot out of the book! Hugs back x

Sunday, November 15, 2009

between fight and flight is the blind man's sight

Herewith a brief update on the Life of Lil.

My grandmother is home from hospital, and much better. The infection has cleared up, and with its passing has come the welcome passing of the dementia (apart from her normal 91- year-old befuddledness). The Aged Care Assessment Team have recommended, though, that she be placed in permanent care now her health is deteriorating, unless one of us can be home with her at all times. That's just not financially possible as we aren't entitled to any carer's allowances from the government, and both my parents are still working. Usually Nanna is only home one or two days a week on her own, but that's too much now. So we've started the process of finding a decent nursing home for her. She's quite happy about the idea, as she gets lonely here on her own and while she was in hospital she told us she enjoyed having other people around all the time. There are a few places locally, and we'll try to get her in to somewhere nicer and newer with a good reputation. Aged care seems to be one of those areas that there is a major difference between the top and bottom "levels" even though it's supposed to be regulated and checked by the government.

In the midst of all this, Michelle and I finally heard on Friday that we got our house! We're signing the lease on Monday, and I have started the daunting task of packing. So far, there are 11 boxes OF BOOKS ALONE! We have a study nook/office area at the new place which Michelle has suggested I set up as a reading room - which is a great idea and such a relief as I wouldn't know where to put all the darn books otherwise. I can't part with them, though, they have been my best friends through the years. What is weird, given my bizarre childhood and tenuous relations with family, is that it seems strange and scary to be moving away from my mom. We've only become close in the last few years, partly through living together and sharing the care of nanna. Especially in the last 12 months, during my breakdown, we've actually connected on an adult and non-angry level. I hope that doesn't change once I'm gone from here. She's been supportive and positive about the move, which is awesome. For the first time in 12 years I'm going to be living solo, albeit with a roomie!

Mostly, I am thrilled about the opportunity to form my own independent life again and to live with Michelle will be a lot of fun. We have a lot in common and are more like sisters (she's 13 years younger than me). I can't wait to be closer to the city, and to my workplace, and to be released from the watching nanna, cooking, cleaning regime. Obviously my own place will need cleaning, and my own meals need cooking, but not in the same institutional way! I bought a new washing machine and a vacuum cleaner as well as some of the boring domestic supplies. The big moving day is Saturday 21st November. Wish me luck!!

Health-wise, I am still thriving on the current med combination and am managing to sleep well. I have my neurologist appointment tomorrow to find out more about the Borderline Chiari Malformation that showed up on my MRI. The headaches are still there, but I'm dealing with them, so if nothing comes from the specialist then it's no big deal. I'd rather avoid the "removing part of my skull" operation if at all possible LOL.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

turn and face the change

This is a partial reprint of the online ad for my potential new home. We still haven't heard from the agent, but it can take up to two weeks for them to decide on the successful tenant. Meanwhile, the agent gets to keep my $260 "option fee" until the decision is made.

Speaking of decisions, three days ago my mum and I took my nanna to the Emergency Department as her pulmonary infection was not improving, even with antibiotics and (even more alarmingly) she was showing signs of delirium. She is usually quite lucid and aware, even though she is almost 91, but Thursday she began to act strangely (like sitting in bed in the dark trying to read and telling us about apparations she had seen, flowers on the ceiling etc). Her GP Doc thought it might be delirium caused by the chest infection so we took her straight to the ER on Friday when she was no better. Six hours later she was admitted to a ward and it seems now that she has sudden onset dementia which may or may not improve once the infection is cleared up. My brother works in aged care and he seems to think that sometimes, often, that kind of mental deterioration is permanent. In a way, it's okay because she actually seems very happy and relaxed in her "new world" whereas usually she would be angry and stressed about being sick. She recognises us but doesn't really have any "context" for things, and is content to sit beside her hospital bed gazing out the window. We were really concerned that she would be frustrated at having to stay in hospital, but that hasn't happened at all.

It's disturbing, having had a mostly coherent grandmother for almost 40 years and now, practically overnight, seeing her change into a muddled childlike person. I'm surprised by how upsetting it is. I can't stop thinking about all the things I shared with nanna that she will (probably) now forget, leaving me as the only "keeper of the memory". We were very close when I was growing up, she was a substitute for my own mother whom I was not close to, we would cook and play cards and watch TV. I especially loved the TV as my own house didn't have one until I was 14 (stupid intellectual parents LOL).

Mr Ex usually comes over to see the dog and cats on Sundays and this morning he texted me to say he couldn't make it. I called him back to tell him about nanna, as he was close to her when we were together (having never had his own grandparents around). I was irritated with myself as I teared up and then cried while telling him, and allowed myself to be comforted by him, and then I was angry because I let myself be vulnerable. He was understanding and kind, basically he is a decent person, and I suppose it's hard to break the habit after ten years of being supported by him. Such a lot of mixed emotions today and it's not even 10am haha!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

six months on, the winter's gone*

My friend Michelle and I submitted an application for a rental house this morning. Very VERY exciting, and also completely terrifying (in the way of all great things lol). Am I sane enough to leave the comfort and safety of sharing a house with my parents? Can I keep working and therefore support myself financially? How will it feel to have to leave my dog and one cat behind, as logistically there is no way my new arrangement can include them? These are all things I believe I can overcome, mostly because there is NO OTHER CHOICE. I simply cannot remain in this state of flux that I've inhabited since I split up with Mr Ex and began the long process of becoming mental. I refuse to get left behind as the rest of the world, and the potential of my life, moves on without me. I feel compelled to get out there kicking and screaming, which may just be a side effect of the atypical anti-psychotic but what the hey...

It's a small-ish, grotty-ish duplex, with two bedrooms, fairly big living area and a small study nook type thing. Crapola backyard. Has my main requirement - a bath tub. One addiction I don't need to get rid of - phew. It's a mauve-lilac purple bath, actually, tres posh. The place also has ceiling fans (bonus, as jeez it's getting hot in here), a new stove, built-in robes and is 30 mins from my workplace. Currently I spent 1.5 - 2 hrs travelling each way, and oh man am I OVER that. There's a lot to be positive about, even though Michelle and I jokingly call it the "Juliette Lewis skanky duplex". It's also extremely cheap - $260 a week (for my O/S friends that's approx 138 GBP, $230USD) which is $40 a week less than most of the places we've looked at. 80% of places in Perth are over $400 a week these days, which still freaks me out. Rents have doubled in the last ten years, and I can guarantee that my wages certainly haven't increased by that much.

Anyway, apart from that there's not much news. My nanna is fairly ill with a pulmonary condition and has pretty much been bedridden all week. Am fighting the guilt about the chance of me moving out and leaving her... I have a bastard head cold, which is annoying me, and it's hot again - yuck. I've been doing well on my current medication (40mg fluoxetine a day, 10mg amisulpride, plus supplements) and Dr A told me last week he was proud of the way I had managed my work issues and was moving ahead. I know he gets paid to "validate the Borderline" but it was still nice to hear. My family are also being extremely supportive, even though me moving out will leave them financially and logistically in a hard place. My mom especially will miss me, as I share cooking, shopping, supporting roles with her. But we are looking to the future, and I need to step out from under this codependency umbrella, ella, ella....


* Belle & Sebastian - 'My Wandering Days Are Over'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

they call me mellow yellow, quite rightly

Greetings friends, my apologies for not updating sooner. Yes, the new medication (Solian) is working well - reducing the hair pulling and binge impulses, definitely reduced anger, and I am sleeping a lot better. It's a low dose but a good 'un! I see Dr A on Wednesday, after his month in Europe, and will be happy to report that things are fairly good. Certainly better than a couple of weeks ago.

My friend Michelle and I have our plans to move out together well underway. Sometime between now and February we'll be sharing a small house or a duplex/unit (I think y'all in the US call it a condo, like an apartment but bigger and usually with ground floor access?). We've seen a couple of places, and have narrowed down our search to a few key suburbs - all of which are closer to work than here. I am completely OVER the 1.5 - 2 hr bus trip each way. We looked at a place on Friday that was 10 mins walk away from work but sadly it had no bathtub and was suffering from a semi-permanent mould invasion. Ugh. I am so excited about living with Michelle, who is my closest friend and someone I can be honest with. She has been staying here on and off over the last few weeks and the more time I spend with her the more I am convinced that rooming together makes great sense financially as well as emotionally. Now we just have to find somewhere!

I start a three week course tomorrow on Flower Essences and herbal remedies, which is something my mom and I are interested in. It'll be nice to do the course with her, and I am also booked into a goal setting course next month. Hopefully I will still feel well enough to do the course by then...the problem with feeling well is that sometimes I commit myself to things that I end up regretting!

So far, the only side effect I've felt from the Solian is a dry mouth, and the fact that I'm slightly drowsy - but as I take it before bed anyway, that's no biggie. I'm finding that slightly numb effect to be welcome, even though mentally I struggle with the idea of blunting and how it detaches me from my necessary emotions of anger, frustrations, etc. I think that for the next few months, to find accommodation for next year and to finish my two courses as well as complete the semester at work, I need all the help I can get. Dr A says the ultimate goal is to reduce or stop medication completely, but it may take years to get there. I am so impatient, want everything now now now now now haha!! But I am trying to look at this as an investment, and will take the anti-psychotic while it helps.

Spending time with my friends and family has kept me away from my virtual world, and I MISS YOU ALL! Hope to catch up soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

why is the last mile the hardest mile?

Three weeks ago Dr A gave me a prescription for an atypical antipsychotic, and tonight I started taking amisulpride (aka Solian). I wasn't keen to start a new medication while Doc was lazing on a beach in Portugal, but really, the last week has been hellish and I'm hoping for some kind of miracle. It's a low dose, but it's possible that it will help to stablise my moods and help with the trichotillomania, binge eating, angry freakouts, etc. When he wrote the script Dr A said it could keep me up all night, or help me sleep, and I'm desperately hoping it'll be the latter. So damn tired, so sick of the nightmares I'm having.

I took a personal day off from work today, after waking up with that utterly helpless feeling, knowing I would not be able to summon the strength to face the world. I spent the morning writing a list of all the crap I have to worry about, which (weirdly enough) helped. I'm now attempting to prioritise these things, and will work through them one at a time. Sigh. My dog had to have $500 worth of x-rays a couple of weeks ago, after rupturing her cruciate ligament jumping down from her groomer's table for goodness sake! Whose dog DOES that? So unfortunately, my divorce is temporarily on hold. But I still plan on doing it as soon as I save up the money again. I have also contacted Mr Ex regarding a few loose ends, possessions, etc, and it felt quite decent to be assertive. I am still overwhelmed with resentment and anger about a lot of things regarding our marriage/his lies. And I suppose one day that will all have to be dealt with.

I logged on here today and found I had one less follower. Nick Drake just the last straw, huh? LOL. My friend Kate once mentioned how easy it is as a blogger to place stock on who has you on their blog lists, and who follows you, and she is (as usual) right. It sucks that someone abandoned me while I was down!! I'm kidding, but you know what I mean, right? I have another friend who warned me, and rightly so, about the indulging in melancholy music when I'm already feeling low. I'm terribly prone to that, so have avoided all tear-jerking emo type music today! Apart from the blog post title, which is courtesy of Morrissey.

One of the bright moments in the last week has been my kick arse friends, in the real world and the virtual. It helps so much to know other people know what the black dog looks like, and how persistently he hangs around hoping for some scraps of sadness. Another bright spot was seeing Whip It - a movie that may be responsible for my unattractive and clumsy entry to the sport of roller derby!! If only I could a) skate, b) think of a good derby name and c) wear fishnets without resembling an overstuffed bag of oranges. LOVED the movie and am determined to live the tagline - BE YOUR OWN HERO!

Monday, October 12, 2009

black eyed dog he knew my name



Nick Drake was born on June 19 - the same date as me and Heath Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia - the same city as me. It's weird how things overlap, and the fact that one of the last things Heath Ledger worked on before he died was a tribute film clip to my favourite Nick Drake song definitely gives me a shiver or two.

Things are tenuous here, as my posting of this clip suggests. But I know that I can wait out the blues and things will improve again. So much to say, so little energy to describe it properly. It's mundane and parochial but hey, it's my life. Managing to eat (a little too much), sleep (somewhat less than the necessary amount), go to work (if begrudgingly) and stave off bankruptcy (for the moment). All else resides in the too hard basket, and I apologise for my lack of substance around y'all's blogs lately. I will be back. In Nick Drake's words things will be Bryter Layter.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

the story is old, I know, but it goes on*

A friend of mine, John at www.myranting.co.uk, wrote a short story once that said, in part : There's just something missing right now. I'm not sure what it is. But whatever it is, it's not fuckin' there. A big void in my soul that I've tried to fill with every single kind of nonsense that I can possibly think of. This statement has always struck a chord with me, as it describes the way I've felt all my life. It explains SO MANY poor choices...the wrong men I pursued, in the wrong ways...the terrible/wonderful substances with which I've abused my body...the obsessions, hobbies, compulsions, images, personas, vendettas, friendships, all of which inevitably failed to fill that void that I call the Big BPD Empty.

It's only now, nine months after my official diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder, that I am starting to feel the void getting smaller. And it's amazing to me that I never realised the way to heal my heart was from the inside out. Always wanting to push/shove/stuff things IN to myself, there wasn't room for the growth of what wanted to come OUT. That sounds slightly gross, lol, I swear this isn't one of my posts about bodily functions! I guess what I am trying, poorly, to say is that all along the substance that was needed to fill my Big Empty was stuff that already existed in ME. It's not one thing, it seems to be a grunge-coloured mixture of fury, joy, terror and rapture at the moment... but it's definitely true and real and all that hippy stuff haha. It seems like the more work I do at finding out how I really feel and think about things (my self, my life), the less that void threatens to engulf me.

I had my last session with Dr A this week before his month-long vacation - now I'm flying solo for four weeks, when I usually see him once a week. I think it's a good opportunity for me to see how I travel without him to keep me on track, and maybe it will all go down the tubes by the end of October but there's a good chance it won't. Although I've never been a member of AA I know enough to be able to quote one of the sayings of the 12 Steppers - "it works if you work it". That definitely applies to my battle against the Big Empty. Even though sometimes I would rather stay in bed and/or drink gin and/or eat a truckload of junkfood and/or pull my hair out by the handful I know that the hard work is where the reward lies. Damn it.

(*The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

i turned my face away and i dreamed about you

I have this weird theory that when I dream about certain people, it means they are dreaming about me (or thinking about me, if that person resides in a different time zone lol). Clearly this doesn't relate to the strange dream I had once about being in Starbucks with George Clooney... sadly. But I had a dream recently about a bloke I call The One That Got Away. We've all got one, well most of us, someone who was always at the back of our minds, and in our lives, as a potential mate but the timing was wrong, the the situation was impossible, and thus the person remains just a friend. In my case, even the friendship was lost due to Steve (TOTGA) moving across the country and us losing touch. But I think about him often, and he is one of the few people that I can imagine being in a relationship with without wanting to run away screaming, or start gagging. I think it's partly because the trust is there, you know, it's not like starting fresh with some guy who may or may not turn out to be an axe murderer or a mouth breather.

I met Steve through a cult I used to hang with. It was one of those quasi-interpersonal cults, focused on self-reflection rather than a residential David Koresh/Jim Jones deal with a fatal end result. Both of us moved away from the cult, actually I think the Puerto Rican leader went to jail for embezzlement or something, but our friendship was solid. One of the things the cult believed in was the soul astral travelling to another plane while we slept, so maybe that's one of the reasons I imagine Steve is dreaming about me when I dream of him. It was one of those realistic dreams when I asked a number of times in the dream "I'm not dreaming, am I?" but of course, the fantasy ends and I wake up still having not seen or spoken to TOTGA since 1994. Steve is the main reason I am on the Evil Empire of Facebook, just in case he ever wants to find me...

Things in therapy have been getting to a flashpoint, if that's the right word. It's hard work sometimes, a lot of the time really, but recently I feel like it's starting to pay off. I'm achieving clarity in the way I view my relationships, esp with my family and their patterns of behaviour. I need to get a one-way ticket out of Martyrville. Dr A talked to me about how the "nice girl" persona I have, where I seem accommodating and easy-going, mimics my mother's passive-aggressive relationship with my nanna. She resents the hell out of nanna, bitches and moans about her and her lack of parenting and yet runs around after her and constantly puts her own needs second to my nanna's. I think I grew up thinking that was the way to win friends and influence people, but now I see that it's a massive cop out and it's SO dishonest. She (I) just doesn't want to address her (my) own desires and requirements, and then make the changes to get them. I REFUSE to be like this anymore! I'm becoming "selfish" in that I put myself and my journey first - as long as it doesn't hurt or harm others I think that's how it should be. I can love and support other people without being their "bitch" haha!!

Regardless of how difficult it is, I am aiming to live an authentic, real life someday. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. I decided today that regardless of the financial cost, I'm filing for divorce this week. Screw the money, I need the closure. If Mr Ex will pay for half, that's fine, but if need be I will cancel my summer vacation and spend the money getting my name back. I keep saying to myself "You go girl", and I know I can hear all your wonderful supportive voices saying the same thing. I don't say it enough, readers/friends, but thank you.

(title from the pogues/kirsty macoll (RIP) fairytale of new york)

Monday, September 21, 2009

it's only life after all*

You'll laugh.

Dr A went over the report from my MRI and while I have no tumours or lesions (thank you Google Images) apparently I DO have inferior cerebellum tonsils, which consitutes a congenital brain abnormality called Chiari Malformation. Except, the degree of abnormality is such that it's know as a BORDERLINE Chiari. I kid you not. Even my brain is f'n borderline!!!!! I had to laugh. It may or may not be the cause of my headaches, so now I have to see a specialist neurologist for more testing. It's not fatal, just debilitating, and sadly it cannot take the blame for my general mental wackiness.

I can't believe I have some other blasted "Borderline" condition. Maybe I should look around for some more Borderline diagnoses, I can start a collection. It takes up less room than snow globes.

(*Closer to Fine, again!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

heaven in my hurricane

This is a photograph of my brain. No cabbages, no obvious lesions, but as I have just the scans and no report, we'll have to wait and see. I have an appointment with Dr A on Monday, and the radiology clinic have faxed the report to him. During the MRI there were no audible screams of horror, or ironic chuckling, but due to my muffler-headphones and the extreme noise of the blasted machine I would probably not have heard them anyway. Nobody told me that the MRI machine would sound like putting your head in a washer/dryer. If I hadn't had a headache for the previous 3 months I would definitely have come out with one lol. It was also the most claustrophobic, anxiety-inducing experience I've had in some time... I think it's similar to my opinion of childbirth -- no-one tells you quite how horrifying it is because then no-one would ever go through it!

One of the reasons I found it so difficult was the choice of location. Seven years ago Mr Ex and I endured 6 months of stressful, painful, embarrassing, intrusive and ultimately unsuccessful fertility treatment in that very same hospital. Before yesterday's scan I had coffee in the same coffee shop where Mr Ex and I sometimes sat after various tests, phrases like "hostile mucus" and "deceased sperm" running through our heads. After my scan I used the same bathroom I sat and cried in after one or another sad meeting in which our treatment nurse Janet, or an offsider, shared the inevitable bad news of another failure. It brought back so many memories I thought I'd forgotten, or driven away with my determination to be sexily un-child-ed. But the soul doesn't forget, and the cellular memory pushed me hard in the back towards the edge yesterday...

Glad it's over. I'm not surprised my brain showed a lack of obviously-fatal tumour-shaped objects. I should be so lucky. I told my friend Michelle that I was possibly one of the few patients they had in the clinic who would have been disappointed to be NOT dying. Having a terminal illness would just put an end to all this irritating and exhausting business of living and trying and working on being well. I know, I know, I know. It's not funny. We've all lost people we love, good and special people, to tumours, cancers, lesions...But I'd be lying if I denied that a sick and twisted part of me has always hoped that there would be a denouement to my life that would render me worthwhile and purposeful.

Sadly, unless the report tells me something I couldn't find by comparing my MRI scans to Google Images of "brain lesions", it seems I must continue to find purpose in living rather than dignity in dying.

I spent some time with my oldest friend Samantha today, and her baby daughter Sierra (whom I call my niece). Here she is in all her cuddlesome glory:

Even jaded old me had to admit that life seemed to have more oomph to it when she was nearby, even though I'm sadly not the slightest bit clucky or maternal. I really have made peace with being child-free (I refuse to say child-less as if I am less of a person, less of a woman because my body won't work in certain ways). I'm thrilled and blessed to consider Sam's three kids as my nephews and niece, and perhaps one day my perennial bachelor brother will settle down and make me a genuine blood aunty! Sometimes I wonder if being a mother would have made a difference, would have somehow filled part of the gaping hole in my heart. Being back in that hospital this week certainly made me wonder at the paths we take in life, and those that we're forced down through circumstance. In the end, though, I guess where we end up is where we're supposed to be. How would Jon Kabat-Zinn describe it - "Wherever you go, there you are?" Yep, ain't that the kicker.

(NB: Today's title from P!nk "The One That Got Away")

Thursday, September 17, 2009

you're an angry blade and you're brave

A small update post-conference. It's been, it's done, seemed moderately successful apart from the usual technical glitches and no-shows. Sir J has moved on to his next "gig", and I am enjoying a well-earned day off.

Tomorrow I have to go and have the MRI I've been avoiding most of the year. Dr A has often said it would be useful to see what effects, if any, my lupus has had on brain function (and, ergo, depression, headaches, mania, moods, etc). I guess it will be interesting to know if any lesions are present, not that there's much they can do about them. Maybe it will turn out that I have a cabbage in my head instead of a brain haha.

Increasing my dose of fluoxetine has not helped my OCD or binge eating at all, and Dr A is suggesting a mega-low-dose anti-psychotic be added to the mix. I would then reduce to my previous low dose of fluoxetine, as the Abilify (or whatever) will be activating enough. The meds merry-go-round is so annoying, and confusing. But it would be good to not be a slave to the trich and binge rituals... Any feedback or advice from y'all would be welcome, as I know Abilify is something lots of folks have tried. Apparently the risk of weight gain is less than with other a-p drugs?

So much going on, no wonder I find it hard to sleep through the night. I am determined to not start medicating for sleep, though, as I know it's a hard road to come back from. This may sound like a negative post, but I'm feeling well. Relieved the work situation will now wind down slowly until December, when the Foundation closes for a month.

(Angry Blade - Iron & Wine)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

fate has been against me from the start

Not much to list these days, on the positive or the negative side of the tally. Work is completely off the chart lately. I was hired in May to co-ordinate the Foundation's biggest event of the year, which comes up next Monday and Tuesday. I've booked the venue (5 star hotel), accommodation for two speakers, managed to organise catering, invitations, name tags, checklists, and also a display of our literacy products for sale. I've even managed to sleep occasionally in between OCD flashes of inspiration/stress lol. Bottom line, I am looking forward to Wednesday when it will be all over and our visiting speaker (a Lord of the realm, gulp) will be winging his way back to the UK. Remember my last post when I lamented my lack of fashion-nouse, well let me tell you the concerns over what to wear to Dr A have paled in comparison to what to wear meeting Sir J. We also have Members of Parliament attending, high ranking public servants. Please, let Borderline Lil behave herself!

The good thing about being busy with something real, ie: work, is that it distracts me from the gigantic empty chasm that is my heart-felt life. Most of the time I cope well with being alone, spending time with friends is always a benefit and I am slowly exchanging my avoidant habits for social hobby-type things. I was talking to someone recently and realised that I have closed off my heart from even the idea of romantic/sexual relationships. Which is sad, cause once upon a time I was good at them and actually enjoyed them. Enjoyed the lead-up, the anticipation, the possibility and the consummation (ha ha). The person I was talking to is a true romantic, and it struck me that I used to be one too. These days I find it hard to remember how that felt, and why it changed. I just feel relieved that now I'm not dating I don't feel the need to study my body and catalogue its flaws, don't need to make sure my sheets are clean and my legs are stubble-free. No more second-guessing my conversation, studying the signs. For everything I miss or fondly remember about dating there are as many things that I'm relieved to leave behind.

Part of me hopes (damn hope that persistent little bitch) that I might find a place in my heart for love again. That my body and mind might be strong enough to enter the world of the relationship. I guess time will tell! In the meantime, I send out props to those of you who are still fighting the romantic fight, and putting your heart out there. In particular John, the Shane MacGowan-esque songwriter who supplied the title of today's post. You can listen to it here. If I was ten years younger and half a world from where I am, I might even develop a girly crush... Love your work, man x

Thursday, September 3, 2009

when one's heart is in the way

I had a phone call from Dr A this morning, wondering why I hadn't shown up for my 8:30am appointment. Because I thought it was at 3pm, I replied, truthful and embarrassed, with a part of me thrilled to have (for the first time) demonstrated behaviour outside the "acceptable". I've read so many comments about psychologists and psychiatrists not wanting to take on Borderline patients, for a lot of reasons, one of which is that they can be unreliable and cancel appointments, reschedule appointments, leave early, arrive late, in an attempt to manipulate their doctors. Or maybe they just wrote down the wrong time in their diary. It can happen! It was weird, to hear Dr A's slightly stern and questioning tone, almost apprehensive about what state he would find me in. As if I must be bed-ridden and avoiding, or molten with melancholy, unable to face him. I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or relieved to actually be just forgetful and inaccurate with my diary.

I was happy to not have to go to therapy today, not because I was any of the thing listed above, but simply because I usually don't make appointments for Thursdays. Thursday is my one day off during the working week, and I love it with a passionate intensity usually reserved for...well...I don't know what, but I used to be passionate and intense about things other than time off from work lol. These days, I just like to have my own timetable, and not have to be anywhere or see anyone. Even now I am non-avoiding, and trying to be interactive with the world, I leave Thursdays alone. The potential of them stretches out in front of me like the most inspiring and wonderful blank canvas - even though I usually just watch TV or go have coffee with my stepdad and nanna at the local shopping centre.

One of the reasons I was happy to avoid Dr A is the eternal question of WHAT TO WEAR. I have three distinct wardrobes, the Manic (push-up bras, heels, lowcut tops, dangly earrings), the Barely Functioning (track pants, sweats, anything shapeless and stretchy, preferably dark colours, greasy hair in a scrunchy) and my current wardrobe of somewhere inbetween. Inbetween is a work in progress, and I usually have to decide if I should wear a hat (which I like to do, fashion-wise), in case Dr A thinks it's because I am depressed and haven't washed my hair. I have to decide whether to wear makeup (haggard and washed out versus trying too hard and/or over-activated), whether to wear sneakers and jeans (casual or giving up?), or a flattering top and skirt (trying to transfer/crack on?). I know for a fact that how I present myself as a psychiatric patient is something that is noticed, and probably recorded and analysed. I know, I know, paranoid much? But, it's common sense to think that a shrink would take stock of my physical state as well as my mental one.

As always, as with every damn thing in my life, I over think and over stress. I can't say I lose sleep over the question (WHAT TO WEAR), but I definitely spend time on it. So after hearing from Dr A, and getting the reprieve, I happily put on my favourite baggy jeans, a cute pink shirt, and my fur-lined pink Crocs. This afternoon, we're heading to the shops for a coffee. And for just a moment or two, I imagine that this is what happiness feels like.

(Thanks to Tori for today's blog title, from Moment in Time)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

in a bullet proof vest with the windows all closed

In the last couple of weeks my grandmother (who regular readers will know lives with me and my parents) has suffered from deteriorating health. She's approaching 91, and has been lucky to not have any life-threatening or serious illness; because of that she almost seems to be oblivious to her (statistically speaking) approaching death! She had a minor stroke about five years ago, and came to live with us, and has been in good health since then. Last week she had a couple of dizzy spells, and possibly had one or more TIAs (like mini strokes), and consequently we've needed to keep a closer eye on her (and help her to shower, walk to the bathroom, etc).

The reason I mention this is that I decided I would offer to move out of my master bedroom with ensuite bathroom so my nanna can move in. Mr Ex and I had the master bedroom when we first moved in, and when he left I got to keep it. I am fairly obsessive about germs, particularly when it comes to bathrooms, and sharing a bathroom is very very low on my "to do" list. It seemed like it was important, though, and also I thought it might prepare me for next year when I plan to move out of here. Previously, my nanna has inhabited the two back bedrooms of the house and shared a bathroom with my parents. But there was a dining room, bathroom, laundry, and another bedroom between her room and my parents', so at night we were concerned she might call out and no-one would hear. The master bedroom is opposite the formal lounge room that my parents use as their bedroom, so nanna will be closer to them, and also having her own bathroom adjacent to her bed will be easier. Naturally, in the way of narcissists, she managed to be both ungrateful for my sacrifice and irritated that she got to sit in the family room relaxing while the rest of us schlepped her many china cabinets, chairs and occasional tables up to her new quarters.

In terms of square feet of space, I think the two smaller rooms are about equal to the master bedroom. All of my stuff has fitted in to them, and each has a built-in closet which combined are almost the same as the walk-in closet I had in my other room. I have one room set up for sleeping and one with a couch and desk and book shelves. The main drawback is sharing the bathroom...but I will adjust. I do think it will prepare me to live in shared accommodation, in case I can't afford my own place next year. I also think being "less comfortable" is a good thing, as it will encourage me to live outside these four walls.

I am in agony today, after shifting all the furniture. But it has been fun to put my things away in new places and to throw some old junk away. I've discovered a few hobbies and interests that I'd let drop, which I may take up again. And I know that health-wise it's better to have my PC in a room where I don't sleep. I miss my sparkling, scrubbed, fragrantly-deodorized, my-germs-only bathroom! In the way of things, I am trying to make the best of what I know is the "right" choice.

In other news, I'm thrilled to welcome Procrastination and Her One-Eyed Dog to my life. My virtual-world friend Kate has gifted her to me, and I'm happy to have such a quirky, beautiful, clever gift in my life (describes the girl AND the stitching lol).

(title of today's post comes from my favourite Coldplay song "See You Soon")

Thursday, August 27, 2009

but I can see that star when she twinkles

Firstly - thanks to everyone who responded to my last post. Your supportive comments really help, and it means a lot to know that other people know where I am coming from. Hugs to all!

I know it's been another long break between blog posts. This time it's due more to the business of life than the avoidance of such. Work has been hectic, and since I've tried to take things less personally I'm finding it easier to deal with. Basically, I don't have much in common with the folks who share my office, which is a good thing in many ways. I'm happy for them that they don't "get" me, it means they are well adjusted and easy going types who tend to talk things out rather than freak out and/or vent. Now I've realised that fact I try to limit my venting to Fee, my close friend at work, and just fake it out with the rest of them. It's working fairly well. I need to keep my job, for a number of reasons, and most of the time I enjoy being there.

Apart from being busy at work, and sometimes bringing work home with me to do in the evenings, I've been getting out and about. Somewhat! I haven't turned the corner, exactly, but I'm approaching the corner with less trepidation. I've caught up with friends on three occasions, including seeing my new niece S for the first time! I call her my niece, and her brothers my nephews, although we're not blood related. Their mother Samantha is my oldest friend, we met in high school and even when our lives took very different paths (she became a mother at 17), we've remained close. Her eldest son is now 21, and an amazing, well-adjusted, smart and hard-working man. The middle child is 12, and vastly different to his brother but equally awesome. Now my friend has a daughter, and the baby is truly gorgeous! I know I'm biased, but really, she's an angel. Spending time with the family last weekend was really nice, and I'm thrilled that I managed to get out and do it. Samantha is completely different to me in personality, and very strong, but she understands my mental struggles and is very forgiving when I can't manage to see them. For instance, I missed my nephew's 21st birthday party a few months ago because I just couldn't face such a large gathering. Having that kind of friend, who makes allowances and is happy to see me whenever I can manage it, is truly something to be grateful for.

I also had a great day with my friend Michelle, who I hadn't seen for a few weeks now we're not bowling together. I miss bowling, but I miss Michelle more! Was nice to catch up with her and feel like I was rejoining the world. I think breaking the avoidance habit will take time, the first instinct for me is always to think "now, just get through the day and then you can retreat to your bed". But I am making plans for the future, and trying every week to get out there more. One of my homework tasks from Dr A is to set some goals, which I will share with y'all once I get around to it! Something I am looking forward to is moving out on my own next year. I really need my independence back, and after four years of helping to care for my grandmother (the ungrateful narcissist lol) I think I need it to be my turn. My parents are all for it, very understanding actually, which helps me to look upon it positively. I'm scared, in so many ways, of being on my own and surviving. But it needs to be done.

It's a small life, but it's mine. It has flaws and challenges, but I am facing up to them and changing things. There are a lot of things that I'm too overwhelmed to deal with right now (driving, relationships, anger, health & fitness...) but I'm taking small steps in the right direction. When I saw Dr A this week I told him I thought a lot about the question he asked "Do you WANT to change?" I've decided that wanting to want to change is the same as wanting to change, it's simply less emphatic! A position that's perhaps not as wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the process, but still open to the possibility.

(Title of post is from Tori Amos' Twinkle - gorgeous song)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

born to be alive

The best thing that can be said about the last couple of weeks is that I am still fighting the good fight. Sometimes it's hard, but I know I don't need to tell y'all that!

Doc A gave me a major league hard time on Thursday about my avoidance of all things life-related. Apart from work, I don't leave the house. While at home, apart from eating dinner and showering, I spend my time in bed watching dvds and reading. He tells me I need to "re-engage with the world", and warned me I am displaying signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder. So that would make three "disorders" in my confused personality... Apparently there is a two-for-one combo deal known as "avoidant-borderline mixed personality" (AvPD/BPD). No wonder I have a permanent headache!

In the end, although I admit I am going through a resistant phase with my therapy, and throw up all manner of reasons and excuses to NOT follow Dr A's advice, I know he is right. I know that the less I participate in the world, the less likely I am to want to, or feel able to. I know that I am at a dangerous crossroads, where I'm fighting to hang onto enough sanity to maintain my job (which is a great, easily managed job). I tell Dr A that I am too tired, too lethargic, too depressed to go out and meet people, or do social things, or join a class. His argument is that I create or manifest or perhaps exacerbate these physical/mental conditions in order to avoid.

So I am trying to put myself out there more, and reach out to the "real world". Ten or twelve years ago I was active, motivated and sociable and I know I can get back there, or to somewhere close by. I have been thinking about studying a language or a craft, and perhaps doing a gym class once a week. I went to a public meditation last night, with my friend Fee from work. Dr a said to me a number of times during our session on Thursday - "Do you WANT to change?" I really had to think about it, and came up with the answer "No, but I want to WANT to change". And that has to be start, right?

I have been away from this blog-world for a couple of weeks, and have missed catching up with everyone's news. So I'll try and get around over the weekend and see what y'all have been up to while I've been bed-ridden and avoiding!

Monday, July 27, 2009

we are all made of stars


A terribly sad few days here in the Lil household, as we said goodbye to Possum. My mom has had Possum and her brother Tigger for 10 years, half of that time they've lived with me, and as kittehs are part of the family, her death has hit us all hard. She had an embolism or heart attack (not sure which) and although she was clearly no longer "all there", she was not in pain, so we brought her home to spend her last hours in front of the log fire as we said mantras for her rebirth and laid her under a pillow case blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As Buddhists, it's really really really a difficult decision to euthanaise and we were thankful she wasn't suffering and could just pass peacefully. It happened early Saturday morning and we're adjusting to a house with just three kittehs. Her brother has been calling for her, and wandering around a bit lost. She was tiny, and quiet, and not the most robust of kittehs, but she had the sweetest personality. We will all miss her.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

love cats

www.icanhascheezburger.com never fails to make me smile!

not somebody who's seen the light

Sometimes I like to do Sudoku puzzles. I always carefully write the answers in pencil, so I can rub them out and start over, but every now and again I just can't solve it and the puzzle ends up illegible - scratched and rubbed raw. No matter how many times I try to erase and rewrite the answers, there are the odd Sudoku puzzles I just have to accept as failures. Draw a line through. Either throw them away, or turn the page and start a new one.

What if a life is like that? Are there a finite number of ways in which I can try to make things work? What if next time I try to reimagine myself and start things over, it's just too late? Maybe the bare bones of my life are so fragile and patched up that I need to draw a line through it and start a new one?

These are the things I think about.

(title from Hallelujah, all versions I think, but my favourite is Leonard Cohen's original)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

closer i am to fine

10 reasons to be grateful:
  1. My brother had minor surgery today, and came through with flying colours. A full recovery is expected
  2. Finally finished my darn tax return and according to my estimates I should get a couple of grand refund. Enough to pay back my folks for the Great Child Support of 2009 and have some left over for my Christmas getaway-slash-runaway
  3. I finally got around to replacing my first and most loved Indigo Girls cassette tape with a CD (hence the title of this post, celebrating one of their best tunes)
  4. After finding out a few peeps at my new workplace consider me a) distant, b) bitchy and/or c) up myself, I resisted the temptation to get all BPD on their asses and start demonstrating Anger Mismanagement 101
  5. Also resisted temptation to quit and run away
  6. I think my hellish cold may be just that, and NOT (as I suspected) the slightly more malevolent cousin to swine flu. Can almost breathe without coughing now - hooray
  7. I have some wonderful new readers, and therefore some new blogs to visit! Hi there!
  8. Due to my dual citizenship with the UK I can almost get away with celebrating England's terrific win in the 2nd Ashes cricket test. Tho' I feel slightly guilty, their team is vastly more talented and considerably cuter than the Australian team.
  9. Yesterday it hailed so much here that it looked like SNOW!!! We don't get snow. Or even hail, usually.
  10. The new season of The Amazing Race starts the day after tomorrow (well, new to us anyway). My favourite thing is to groan over Phil's thrift store style outfits with my mom, and be thankful it's not me having to zoom through Pakistan/Russia/Laos in 24 hrs. Hooray for television in general, really. It's saved me more than once, especially this year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

this is the last day of our acquaintance

Something that I didn't anticipate when I joined this cracked bunch of mental health bloggers is how darn FOND I would become of y'all. Consequently, I've been majorly bummed out lately to find a few of my blogging friends have either deleted their blogs or abandoned them. I also clicked some of the blogrolls of my regular visited sites and found a fair few of their links also led me to the ubiquitous "site not found" message. In my research, I've discovered there's an actual term for it - "blog abandonment".

I know it happens. People move on, get lives, get committed (ha!), find other outlets. I read somewhere that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within the first month, and that the average lifespan of the 20-40% that survive is seven months. In my other blog-life, (2 years as part of the weight loss surgery community) people regularly come and go from my comments and followers pages. But somehow, it doesn't feel as sad. I think the way in which I connect to, and support, mental health bloggers is much more real to me. Which no doubt says more about ME than about anything else lol. Did I ever mention my pathological fear of abandonment??

I miss you, my lost bloggers - especially Belinda, Kate and John. If you're still lurking about and reading, you know who you are and know that I wish you well. I hope that the things that took you away from the blogs I loved are good, healthy, happy, positive things. I hope you are thriving, or at least surviving.

(*today's post title is from the awesome Sinead O'Connor song of the same name)

Monday, July 13, 2009

til you lost me there in the open road*

Mr Ex came over yesterday, to have his weekly custody visit with The Dog. I'd planned to bring up the D.I.V.O.R.C.E. last week, but he played the Deadbeat Dad and didn't show for the visit. I knew Dr A would chew me out if I saw him this week having still not broached the D-subject with Mr Ex so I bit the bullet and said, ever-so-casually "So, I've been finding out about how to start divorce proceedings".

I swear, he was surprised.

We've lived apart for well over a year, and except for a handful of social gatherings the only time we've spent together is when he picks up or drops off The Dog. He's never mentioned reconciling, apart from immediately after I told him to move out, and has made no effort to win me back in any traditional (or, indeed, visible) ways. But he seemed shocked that I would actually download and print out paperwork to officially end this thing. Weird. Although, having said that, I became hollow and teary after he left. Even though I don't want to be in any kind of relationship with anyone, and certainly think it's best for me & Mr Ex to not be married, I was struck by the inevitable wave of sorrow that true endings bring. For a long, long time our marriage was good, and for almost all the eleven years we've been together our relationship/friendship has been rock solid. We just aren't meant to be married.

This has been a truly tough week. My friend Michelle, my only regular-contact friend, has decided she doesn't want to continue bowling in our team, and as bowling is my only social outlet/hobby, it's kind of devastating. I'm trying to decide whether to find another team, but given that I have only ever bowled with Michelle, I think most of my enjoyment in bowling has been in spending time with her. I understand her reasons, and most of the time I manage to not take it personally, but it's just one more hit in a week when the hits just keep coming. Dr A rang me just now to reschedule today's appointment to Wednesday, and had I told him even one of the things I've dealt with over the last 2 weeks he would not have rescheduled. I told him everything was fine, showed some High-Functionin' Flair, and now have to struggle along. I knew he would only ask me to reschedule if someone was in a major crisis, so how could I be petty? There are a great many folk worse off than me, even if I am having a tough week lol. I think I am going to have a bath, make a cup of tea and read my new book. It's not a permanent replacement for therapy, but it's okay by me.

(*today's post title is from Tori Amos' A Sorta Fairytale)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No More Guilty Left To Pardon


I was browsing in a bookstore on Friday night, after a difficult and tiring week, when things became even more hideous. I saw my father. He was pretentious and fancy-suited in the literature section, looking at Joan London's "The Good Parents". Okay, I didn't really see the book he was holding, but afterwards (during the vomit/rant/vomit phase) I laughed to myself that it was probably some such thing. Thankfully, although he glanced my way (and I was only 20 feet from him), he didn't recognise or acknowledge me and I was able to slink away, shaking and feeling the Black Empty invading my insides once more. I haven't seen him, or contacted him, in eleven years yet I knew without a doubt who he was - a visceral reaching out that surpassed any negativity or memory. Part of me felt like the four year old he walked away from and didn't contact again (until forced to 14 years later). Part of me wished I resembled the semi-confident, only partly-mental 28 year old I was the last time he hurt me. But most of me just had to run away and throw up the lovely meal I'd had with work colleagues, and then sit shaking and enraged on the train home.

A few people looked at me as if I was on drugs, and catching a glimpse of myself in the window I could see why. It's weird how emotional and mental challenges reflect in the physical being. I was pale, shivering, fighting back tears, wanting to smash something, desperately desperately wanting to EAT (even though I'd been throwing up into a trash can just moments earlier). I managed to get home without incident, and was fairly composed by the time I got here - rather than ranting or screaming I just made a passing comment to Mom about this small-town-city, and how I'm lucky to have not run into him before now. She, in Queen of Denial mode, said something like "Oh, you shouldn't let people like that upset you". No kidding LOL.

Seeing him, and then in the hour or so coming home afterwards, I could feel the Great Unravelling start. I'd already been having a stressful week (divorce papers, tax returns, pain-in-the-ass work colleague, hormones, yadayada) and I clearly saw looming the coming apart of all my hard work, and my hard-won stability. And you know what, I thought

FUCK
THAT
SHIT.

Excuse the profanity all! But I truly thought to myself, Lil, this can go either way and you get to chose where you end up. So I practised some DBT (Self-Soothed, Distress Tolerated) and talked myself down from the anger. I simply REFUSE to let him hurt me any more. This episode showed me that techniques like Mindfulness and the Non-Judgemental Stance have become comfortable for me, as they came into my mind fairly quickly when the Emotion Mind started to create havoc. I know a lot of people question DBT, and consider it to be jargonistic and over-simplified. I've read some criticism of it, and a lot of praise, and the praise seems to come from people who have used it to become well. That's enough for me, I suppose, and I think it's the best recommendation - people who are managing their Borderline Personality Disorder are often doing so by using the skills of DBT. That's what I want more than anything, to be well and healing. It was a rough couple of days this week, but (as I've said before) those are the ones that really test us - right?

The photo at the start is one of only three or four photos I have of myself with my father. I think I could already tell he was an imposter. My expression certainly hints at it...

(*Post title is from Iron & Wine's song "A Book Unfinished")

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

And I feel fine (as the song goes).

This week's session with Dr A focused mainly on the two tasks he's set for me as homework. A while back he mentioned that me getting my driver's licence would be a huge benefit, not only in practical terms but also because it would mean I had conquered a life-long fear. He's right, and it's not like I haven't already thought of that myself... but the actual physical task of going and getting my Learner's Permit (for the SIXTH time) is beyond me at the moment. However, I have promised to visit the licensing website and do the online Learner's test as practice, and also to find out the costs involved. I first got my Learner's Permit when I turned 17 (the legal driving age in Western Australia), and was also given a car by my beloved grandfather. The car, a 1972 Ford Cortina, had been his and when he died a few months later I wondered if the loss of freedom (he never got another car) had finished him off. I moved to the city a few months after my birthday, leaving the car with my parents until I eventually decided to sell it (having only had a few lessons and not really ever feeling comfortable with the idea of driving in our country town, let alone the Big City). I've had other goes at learning to drive, with varying success, but I've never booked a driving test - the idea of having to park on command, and to follow complicated instructions from the examiner, seems to negate the fact that I am actually a fairly competent driver (according to the various instructors I've had over the last 22 years).

My second piece of homework involves Mr Ex, and the fact that our 12 months' legal separation was completed this week. I downloaded the paperwork (don't you love the technological age) for the divorce but had yet to broach the subject with Mr Ex, especially as last weekend he came along to my Bowling Birthday Party and we had a great time. Not a "getting back together, happy every after" great time, but a great time nonetheless. Dr A had a bit of a go at me for the mixed messages I was sending out willy-nilly... especially to myself. I definitely DO NOT want to be married - to anyone. But that fact remains that I adore Mr Ex, for all his faithlessness and foibles (and by that I don't mean "infidelity". Blame Wandering Coyote's deep thoughts here for the use of the word "faithless" haha). Part of my worries about him, whether he thinks we'll get back together, whether he will do something self-harming. But, in the spirit of "Being In Therapy" I agreed with Dr A that the paperwork needs to be addressed. I printed it all out today and was planning to deal with it when Mr Ex came over to walk his dog. My best-laid plans were thwarted when Mr Ex texted me to say he can't come over today. At least the papers are printed and filled out, and in reality I don't need Mr Ex's permission or signature to file them. I do, however, need an amount of cash to go with said papers. Ouch.

Apart from these nagging administrative tasks, my life continues to sail along. I start my new hours tomorrow, which sees me working every second Monday along with Tues, Wed and Fri each week. On the opposing Monday I see Dr A. Which still gives me Thursdays to sleep in, vege out, blog and blog-visit and see friends. I think I will manage, it's a fine compromise, and having some extra money is always welcome. I can save up to get divorced - blah. I still haven't written to my friend H, who sent me the out-of-the-blue birthday presents. I've been thinking about it, and intend to do it, it's another one of those "when I have the energy" tasks. Being mental is exhausting lol.

One area I need to watch is the continuing urge I have to over-achieve at work. Given that work was my area of downfall prior to this most recent breakdown, I've really been keeping track of my thoughts and emotions at work - and during the week I had a weird "showing off" hypermanic episode. I still crave validation and approval constantly, and have to fight the urge to pursue it from my superiors at work. It's one thing to do my job well, but another thing to undermine other staff, over-achieve, big note myself and get breathless and giddy when I'm given praise. The best thing was, though, that I caught myself in Emotion Mind (as DBT would call it) and could step back and use Reasonable Mind to see the situation for what it was - thereby stopping the roundabout before it got going. Something that might have progressed and spun out of control, was dealt with fairly quickly. Being only low-dose medicated also helped, because I am not as numb/blunted these days I'm more aware of my changes in physiology (heightened colour/warmth, faster breathing, shaking hands, talking faster) which sometimes come along with my Emotion Disregulation episodes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

All The More A Pair Of Underwater Pearls

I'm continuing my recent trend of using favourite song lyrics for my blog titles, so forgive any obscurity! This last week has been perplexing and a challenge (not the least because I'm now 39 and feeling I am approaching that gray area known as "middle age", but I digress...). I spent the weekend at a fantastic seminar by a man called Ian Gawler, who survived a terminal cancer diagnosis over 30 years ago and now teaches meditation, healing and general wellbeing. The two day workshop was one of my birthday presents, from my parents (who both attended as well), and although it was exhausting to be out of the house and listening/concentrating for two full days, it was definitely worth the effort. The Saturday was completely devoted to meditation techniques and sessions - generally I only get around to meditating once or twice a week, but I'm determined to make it a daily practice. That's the way to get the most benefit, especially for someone in therapy and managing a mental illness. One of the things that struck me the most about the weekend was Ian saying that the idea of meditation can become a source of stress and anxiety (ie: "I really have to meditate, why can't I meditate better, why can't I concentrate", etc, etc). He suggests to find a method that works and do it in a comfortable way for just a short period of time until it becomes second nature, then increasing time spent in meditation and the style of meditation. I've always been particularly successful at guided meditation, and I found out that is probably due to my learning style (Auditory). My mum, on the other hand, finds she needs a visual focus otherwise she is distracted from the guiding voice by pictures appearing in her mind. Interesting stuff. I can't deny that meditation and relaxation techniques have helped with my recovery.

One of the weird things about my birthday is that I received a text message, and presents, from someone I mentioned in an earlier post. I hadn't heard from this friend for about 8 months, since I spent thousands of dollars on visiting her for her 30th birthday, so I had kind of assumed we were no longer sympatico. Of course, I hadn't had the chance or opportunity or desire to share with her the details of my breakdown in Dec-Jan. In my cracked BPD way I had assumed she hated me, and didn't care that I was crumbling, when in fact it seems she was imagining I was just busy and having a great life (and was therefore out of touch with her). It did my head in somewhat...to have this person and these feelings pop back into my life when it sometimes seems like that was a totally different Lil. The presents, the contact...they struck me as slightly "off", like they belonged to someone I used to be. There's no question that I have changed mightily, and necessarily. I am probably less fun, less apt to smile and indulge in banter. But I think I am a more whole person now, if that makes sense. I finally feel like I am working towards "real", after a lifetime of experiencing that horrifying Borderline "who the fuck am I?" emptiness. I hope that writing to my friend H, and updating her on all the ways in which the last 8 months have in fact been the antithesis of happy and busy, will enable us to move our friendship to a new level. It's worth a try, because as strange as it was to have her contact me, it also feels like the right thing. Now I've got used to the idea!

At work, things are going well. My boss took me aside last week (on my birthday actually) and asked if I was interested in more hours. It happens to me every time. I intend to work part-time, and then get sucked into the love-to-show-off, flattery vortex of being needed and agree to more hours, get more money, and then get tired and depressed and strung out. Not this time. I told her I would consider working every second Monday, which is a compromise that suited us both. Also, she tells me I will be getting a payrise next month because they think I am far-exceeding their expectations and in general doing a kick-ass job. Yay for me! I was relieved, because you just never know what people are thinking. I felt good about my standard of work, but it's nice that the boss confirmed it. I still love going there, and am gradually getting to be friends with one of the girls and am opening up a little to the other staff. It's an effort sometimes to be New Lil, though, because the quasi-comfortable craziness of Borderline Lil is still close to the surface.

This is a long and winding post. I have been tired and overwhelmed by life and learning and have been too long away from my dearheart bloggers. My apologies! I am slowly catching up on all the goings-on in blogworld over the last week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Kathy, I'm lost" I said, though I knew she was sleeping

It's strange the things that can bring on the melancholy. My stepdad bought a dvd today, of Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park (1981 I think) and has been playing it while I was in the kitchen cooking. For a lot of different reasons, the songs brought up memories, mostly sad. When I was about 10 years old I found an LP record in my parents' collection that had a handwritten name on it I recognised. It turned out to be (as I suspected at the time), one of the few things my mother kept that had belonged to my father - a Simon & Garfunkel record that I would secretly play when my mother and stepdad weren't around. Over the years I became more and more enamoured of them, and folk music in general, and I ended up buying the Concert in Central Park album in about 1987. Hearing the songs again reminded me of how in those days, at 17, I was still under the misapprehension that being depressed was something I would "grow out of". I believed that all the low moods and suicidal thoughts were part of my groovy & creative personality and I channelled them as much as I could into writing songs, stories, poetry.

What struck me the most today was that I could recognise melancholy approaching, and rather than eagerly laying down and becoming its mistress, I fought it and won. I used Mindfulness to view the feelings objectively, and could see clearly (maybe for the first time) the two paths on offer. I could either go with the sad memories, and add to them in the same way I was adding ingredients to my vegie soup, ending up with a confusing mess of mixed emotions and general blah. Or, I could feel and acknowledge the sadness/loss, briefly revisiting the memory of the past before letting it go.

Half an hour later, instead of being bedridden, binge eating, self-harming or bawling, I was finishing off making my soup and starting on brownie cheesecake (as my birthday treat for tomorrow). All the while still singing along with Simon & Garfunkel (that's one long concert lol).

I used to think that my over-emotional or extreme reactions to songs, films, books, etc were part of my personality. With DBT, I view it differently -- the reaction is the first, "normal" part of the equation, and the BPD encouraged me to take the reaction to the extreme and let it overwhelm my thoughts and (therefore) my emotions. With the new filter of my Wise Mind I'm learning/trying to enjoy the reaction to the song (for instance), but keep it in context and balance. It's still not second nature to me, but I know it gets easier to practice DBT/CBT skills.

One of my all-time favourite songs, and my favourite S&G tune, is "Kathy's Song". I used to cry when I heard it, especially the lines:
"I sit and watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you, go I"
Forgive me if I've misquoted, I'm writing them from memory! Anyway, today I heard those words in a completely different context and they didn't make me sad. I even half-jokingly substituted "DBT" for "you" in the final line. This morning could have ended up very differently, much bleaker, without my new therapy. A few people I know who have done DBT call themselves "DBT Geeks", or DBT Obsessives - experiencing it work really does make you a convert/true believer! I hope I don't come across as simplifying Borderline, or other mental illness, and I am definitely not saying Dialectical or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is the only way to treat these things. They have just worked for me, after many years of NOTHING working. And I wanted to share it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Trouble With Love

I've decided the trouble with love is that its a finite resource. Much like gold or copper, once its gone, all that's left behind is a dry and barren landscape which is good for nothing. Today I was thinking about all the great passion in my life, for boys mostly but also for "obsessions" (some ppl call them hobbies lol), and how that passion is so closely linked to my illness that I doubt I will ever "go there" again. I just couldn't trust myself to feel that extreme and still remain emotionally in control...yet I don't know how else to be when I am involved with someone or something new.

So I'm left with the feeling that while I may have a productive and sane life for the next 40 years, I doubt whether I will ever feel that grand love. I've spent the first half of my life being crazy for things...crazy for boy X,Y or Z, for girl A, or for Dawson's Creek/Barbies/Scrapbooking. Then I was just plan ole crazy. And now, I'm not crazy, I'm mostly stable and sane, but that seems to come at the price of losing the passion. Or at the very least curbing it.

I do think it's a step forward, to grow up and away from all-consuming hyperattachments, crushes and obsessions. But I think I will always miss that mania. This time last year, every breath was pure adrenalin and excitement. I longed to go to work to interact with Lewis, and to feel hilarious and gorgeous and fabulous. There was always that emptiness underneath, though, which is the nasty worm in the Borderline apple. While I may not scale the dizzying heights of lust and passion, these days I can sit safely in my own skin for long moments at a time without wanting to rip myself apart. It has to be a good thing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SNAFU

After five weeks of solid performance at my new job, I had a truly crappy day. In the scheme of things, it's not that bad. No-one got fired. No-one got shouted at. No-one cried (though I felt like it). I've been working on a couple of graphic design jobs, which is not what I was hired to do and something I at which I am only self-taught, and I think I took on more than I should have. After printing 500 full-colour copies of one of the forms, a major error was noticed (too few boxes in the credit card payment section) and we had to reprint them. I remind you, the place I work is a CHARITY and can barely afford to print the darn things once, let alone TWICE. It was a stupid mistake, and the two bosses had signed off on the form without noticing, so maybe I shouldn't be beating myself up quite as badly as I am...

But there you have it, the self-loathing swings into action to replace the self-aggrandisement. Even though I have resisted my usual urge to show off and big note myself around the office, secretly I was feeling quite superior and patting myself on the back for my amazing coping skills. Ha! Life always knows how to level me out... Afterwards, all I wanted to do was eat. I needed junk food, stat, to block out the surprise/shock of my fellow workers that I, Ms Perfect Superwoman, had made a mistake. To medicate the intense embarrassment and shame that reminded me I was just the same fuckup I have been in every other job/relationship/situation/etc. With concentration, and some Distress Tolerance skills, I managed to chill out and not run to the chicken and fries emporium across the street. I also managed to realise I was over-reacting (dare I say it...BPD-style catastrophising?), and reminded myself I was human, not a piece of useless crap. It was a big lesson, and let's face it, that's where the true learning and recovery starts. But man, it sucked. I offered to pay for the extra printing (which was appreciated but not accepted) and made a vow to check and re-check all the other graphic design work I'm doing.

A couple of people said to me afterwards that they were relieved that I showed I wasn't superwoman. The newest employee (apart from me) said she'd felt intimidated because I was picking everything up so quickly! Sometimes I am stunned that the world sees the Happy & Capable Lil facade and believes it... 'cause it feels like the Big Crazy is so close to the surface that everyone on earth can see it.

PS: If you're that way inclined, please send prayers and/or love to Coyote & Juno. Poor kitteh is not well - feel better soon Juno xxx

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Xenophobe

I really don't play well with others.

I love y'all here in the virtual world, you don't require anything from me apart from occasional touching base and a modicum of honesty when I do so. As part of the online mental health community, I know that my friends understand how hard it is to form sentences and make sensible comments when in the grip of madness. In the real world, it's SO damn hard to fit in and feel comfortable. The way I have coped with this past year, with psychosis and diagnosis, is to stop being part of the "real world" in anything but a token way. Leading up to my breakdown I was permanently "on"- hyperattaching, falling in love, falling out, imagining enemies, experiencing vendettas. It exhausts me to even think about it now. No wonder I am spent... strung out and tired of the nuances and negotiations. These days, I prefer my own company and can barely make the effort to hang on to the couple of friendships that have survived the post-BPD-mania fallout.

At work, everyone gathers at noon to have lunch together. I can't tell you how irritating this is. I'm using all my coping skills to just stay focused and be productive, and then I have to sit and make chitchat with the nice ladies? Oy. They are the friendliest group of people I've ever worked with, and I know that compassion is something they have in spades, but for obvious reasons I don't feel inclined to share the whole "crying/slashing/screaming/blackness" that was the first half of 2009. I've been really strong, and followed Dr A's advice in not over-sharing or being trusting with people until I make real connections with them. In the past, my MO has been to throw myself headfirst into social situations, showing off and sharing all my gory details in an attempt to impress people and "make friends". I'm not interested in being that person any more, truthfully, I cringe at the memory of it.

I'm embarrassed at the so-called bonds I imagined I had with people.

I'm hopeful I'll never leave myself open to manipulation and ridicule like that ever again.

Even if it means living a solitary life, I need to stay away from that kind of behaviour and its consequences. Since I've retreated into my own world, things have been undeniably smoother and calmer. Away from the drama and potential fuck-over that is "Other People", I'm making some headway and feeling like I may actually live to see 40. It's not reality, and some day Dr A is probably gonna expect more from me than "getting to know myself". I really think, though, that I might be someone who needs to live a life somewhat removed from others. The big areas of catastrophe in my life have been those involving connections to other people (both men and women, platonic as well as sexual).

Meanwhile, I am finding myself "finishing up" at my desk for ten or fifteen mins after lunch has started. Then, I take a while to make my lunch. So that hopefully I only have to face the conversational firing squad for twenty minutes maximum. I try not to, but I feel guilty for being so "antisocial". These are kind, sweet ladies, who just want to get to know me. How can I start to explain the grocery list of reasons why they really DON'T want to know me??

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lost & Found


It's my birthday soon. In ten days, in fact, and it will be my last "30 something" birthday, as next year I face up to the big 40. This time of year always makes me contemplative...what have I done with the last 12 months, what do I want from the future, yada yada. It makes me realise what I have lost, all those dreams that I've shelved (perhaps permanently), but more importantly I've started to focus on all that I've gained. So here's a list of some Lost & Founds I've been thinking about lately.

Lost
  • 50kg (over 100 pounds)
  • an unhappy marriage
  • mental stability (which was only achieved through over-medicating and denial anyway)
  • ability to hold down a full-time job
  • potential of, or desire for, future relationship with man or woman
Found
  • some kick-ass online friends (and a real-life one - you rock Michelle!)
  • a whole grocery list of adjectives to describe my life...like peaceful, independent, brave
  • CBT and DBT, and generally awesome other types of T from my shrink Dr A
  • a life with minimum medication and (fairly! mostly!) stable moods
  • a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, which helps me make sense of my mixed-up life and wacky behaviour
  • what I like to call "the best job in the world", which is badly paid and a long way from home but makes me happy to be there
  • the ability to tie my shoelaces, sit comfortably in a chair, walk a few miles without fainting and the joy of buying clothes "off the rack"
  • new passions like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tenpin bowling and Taylor Swift
There is a lot to be thankful for this year, and even though I have lost contact with three of my four former "best friends", and sometimes I miss Mr Ex like crazy, overall I think I am doing okay. Some days I feel like the madness is nipping at my heels again, but I try and kick its nasty little rat-face and tell it to get away. Therapy is hard, even when it's working, maybe more so when it's working. There is a lot to be done, and I know that I've only scratched the surface of the angry Lil.

I think that the picture at the top of this post, which is entitled "Optimism" (by meppol from www.deviantart.com) captures my state of mind. Trying, always, to think of the glass as half full.