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


Friday, February 27, 2009

Betty Blue

Not a stellar day, but not among the worst. Blah. Dr A set me the task this week of going to the gym every day, and the last 3 days I've managed it (and enjoyed it). Today, I couldn't do it... could barely get out of bed, felt generally unwell and not depressed or anxious, mainly tired I think. Maybe the last three days' workouts have taken their toll!! Prior to this week, I hadn't been to the gym for a couple of weeks due to the hideous side effects of the medication withdrawal. So maybe the aches and pains are genuine muscle pain LOL. Anyway!

I just took the day "off" from my daily plan of getting up, showering and taking my supplements before 10am, going to the gym, cooking dinner, and journalling/homework. It sounds like so little, but I know y'all can relate to the fact that sometimes even that "little" is too much to handle.

I stayed in bed and continued my cultural trip through madness and addiction. I am re-reading The Bell Jar as well as a couple of other books, and also rewatching my collection of DVDs and videos that deal in some way with the issues I'm faced with. Postcards From The Edge, When A Man Loves A Woman, Tom & Viv, 28 Days, Bennie & Joon, Mad Love -- I obviously like great hair on my crazy movie ladies. I often say to my friends that my life as a Borderline is exactly like Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted except my hair has never been that cute. I'm being glib. But one thing is true, I would rather watch a movie about addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, rehab, suicide than about anything else. I suppose lots of people are like that, preferring something they can "relate" to. While I was thinking about all this tonight, I found a list on the internet of "Movies and Mental Illness" . It lists every kind of disorder and phobia and then lists all the movies which portray these illnesses/experiences. I was gob-smacked at the long list of Borderline Personality Disorder movies. Then I was horrified to see the following nutso female caricatures in the list (none of whom I had previously considered to have BPD):
  • Single White Female (homicidal woman obsessed with flatmate)
  • Basic Instinct (homicidial woman with a variety of issues lol)
  • Fatal Attraction (homicidal woman obsessed with someone else's husband)
  • The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (homicidal nanny obsessed with child's father)
  • Play Misty For Me (homicidal fan obsessed with radio dj)
  • Misery (homicidal fan obsessed with novelist)

These are six of the classic crazy women of film, the characters that are continually referenced in popular culture! And they all end up killed, I think?! I don't know what, if any, actual diagnostic proof the list author has for putting these films in the BPD category. It gave me a chuckle, in a dark and twisted way. A few of the movies in that category are films I've loved and related to over the years - Betty Blue (again with the great haircut), Breathless, Something Wild, Looking For Mr Goodbar. The list author also adds a couple of classics to the mix - Wuthering Heights and A Streetcar Named Desire, amazing and troubled characters for sure but again, BPD? When Gone With The Wind is classified under Narcissistic PD? Made me think anyway...

Oh, and just when I had spent hours analysing this filmography, I found Look Who's Talking on there. Yep, the 1989 comedy starring Bruce Willis as the voice of a talking baby. Ohhhhhhkaaaaaay.........

Monday, February 23, 2009

Audrey, Abby and Alice

Day Nine on zero medication -- it's like someone took industrial strength cleaning solution to the windows and everything is FINALLY clear and bright and just *slightly* overpowering if I look at it straight on! Am focusing on one day at a time, knowing that my moods can swing in moments - but today and yesterday have been really great days. The physical side effects of Effexor withdrawal are gone, and my psych said to me this morning that due to the smallish dose I was taking, and the limited time I was one it, that I am officially "all clear" of Effexor. Yippee!! Over the next couple of months, depending on how I respond to the CBT, he'll see whether I need an SSRI, I am hoping that I can cope without it (I know, I know, but I can hope lol!) or that if I need one I can take a low dose. I never want to go back to the days of Zoloft MegaDose (would you like a side dish of night terrors with that??).

I try not to focus on my mood ALL day, trying to sense a rapid cycle or a switch. I'm wondering if I will ever get to the point of not being hyperaware of my mood swings, outbursts and such. I can read it in my mom's face ("oh, here comes one of her manic phases") and it drives me, can I not just be lucid and coping well for ONCE???

The title of my post refers to an artwork I'm starting, in an effort to rebuild/restore my self and sense of identity. I did a timeline, showing all the influences I have had during my "As If" phases (where I latched onto a new friend, lover, workplace, interest, etc and made their characteristics my own) and am using it to try and separate the "true" interests and image of Lil from the "false" interests and physical/cultural ideals of my Obsessions. I know this will sound nuts, but I ended up with elements of three TV/cinema characters that I have always loved, and often tried to emulate -- namely Abby Scuito (NCIS), Alice Sullivan (from a dodgy 80's Australian TV show E-Street. As a sidenote, The Mentallist and The Guardian's Simon Baker starred in this show, it had kind of a cult following due to its serial killer and werewolf type storylines haha) and Audrey Hepburn (most loved by me in Breakfast At Tiffany's). They are all fantastic women, quirky and individualistic, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the piece turns out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Drama Club

Dr A used a throw-away line on me on Monday, saying something about "Cluster B types" - naturally I have been obsessing and Googling about this Cluster B stuff, and found out that it's a category of Personality Disorder. Cluster B, the Erratic/Emotional/Dramatic PDs, includes Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic. Suite (which as far as I can tell uses "laypeople" to write non-fiction articles, I guess kind of like Wikipedia? But it seems to pass itself off as more "scientific"...PLEASE jump in and correct me if I am wrong!!) seemed to be going for the chuckle element as it subcategorises Cluster B as THE DRAMA CLUB.

Am I the only one pissed at that?? I know, I know, I'm a hypocrite after going on yesterday about BPDs being erroneously categorised as humorless HA! But it seemed like a stupid description for two reasons:
  1. "Drama" being used these days to go with Queen, seems to intimate a choice of overacting or acting out...rather than having a genuine inability to regulate emotions.
  2. And "Club"...don't get me started...oh, okay then, start already HA! I seem to remember having to APPLY to join the Drama Club at school, as well as any other damn Club I wanted to be a member of. While I am proud to be part of Cluster B (or whatever) and I am determined to make the best of everything life throws at me, I don't remember filling out the application form for Borderline Personality Disorder. How anyone would call it a CLUB is beyond me.

The irony is not lost on me people, fear not. I'm coming across as humourless - and I'm not! If it was me, or another "sufferer" of BPD (and man I hate calling it "suffering"), saying "hey, come join my drama club", I would be laughing louder than anyone. But seemed to be adding itself to the long list of purveyors of "stuff-n-nonsense" about Personality Disorders.

In Effexor Withdrawal News, the electro-pulse disco is still raging in my head. It's the hardest sound effect to describe. The thing it reminds me of the most is the noise the Bionic Woman made when she jumped extra-high... I found a .wav file here for anyone who is curious! The noise comes and goes in my head, and it physically feels like my ears are trying to "clap" together. I swear it's true lol. I can also only stand upright for half an hour at a time, and sleep for most of the day. But the side effects of the withdrawal have been almost all physical. I am keeping a close eye on my moods and emotions, but so far so good. I think the fact that I was on a fairly low dose, for a short time only, has meant that my come down has been fairly mild. I have ramped up my Calcium, Magnesium, Fish Oils and Vit E and have been slugging down water. Dr A suggested 3 litres minimum per day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Darth Vader, Chloe from 24 and Tony Soprano

Apart from being moody and melancholy, the three fictional characters in the title of this post have all come under suspicion as having Borderline Personality Disorder. I know there are more, a lot more, but those three came up in a Google Images search I did for BPD. I wanted to change my Facebook profile picture to something suitably dark and depressive. I ended up with a picture of Lucy from Peanuts in her 5c Psychiatry booth (see above).
I'm finding it hard to posit myself in the BPD spectrum. If you think about the 3 characters listed above, it's hard to remember them smiling, laughing, or experiencing genuine mirth that wasn't at the expense (often physical painful lol) of others. I consider myself to be pretty damn hilarious and light of spirit...sometimes...and most of the things I've read and seen about BPD seem to focus on the dark side. Old Darth should be the poster child... Maybe that's going to be where I find my niche in all this psychiatric BS, to be the Borderline Personality Comedienne. There were a couple of cartoons I liked in the BPD Google Image library, which I will probably post on here sometime. One was a guy buying a t-shirt that said "Ask Me About My Borderline Personality Disorder" and his friend asks "What's on the back?" and the guy shows him that it reads "Or I swear to God I'll kill myself". Fark I thought that was hilarious. Does that mean I DON'T have BPD???? Luckily I've still got my sense of humour and my self-relflexivity...I think those are more successful weapons against mental illness than these darn drugs.
Speaking of which...
Dr A saw me last week and I was super agitated and cranky. He recommended I go in for an inpatient stay in the PC (Clinic) to get me off the Effexor (aka "SideEffexor"). Two weeks. Uninsured, costs about $2500 a week. As much as I would love to leave the comfort of my kingsize bed, my stocked fridge, my computer and my 2 cats (yeah right), I thought there had to be a better way. Cut a long story short, I am in Day 2 of Zero Medication. I know, it's crazy to just stop. To be honest, I took 150mg, then 75mg for a few days, and now am on nothing. No Valium, no mirtazapine, no EffexorXR. The withdrawal is nowhere near as bad as the freakin drug, which was amplifying everything and making me nauseous and headachy. But it's there... some of the electro-impulses I've read about, and the sluggishness. I saw Dr A today and he had a minor hissyfit about me going pretty much cold turkey off the meds, but had to agree that I am "noticeably" less agitated and clearer. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the withdrawal stays at this manageable level... I hated the Effexor SO MUCH. Zoloft was nowhere near as weird for me, it blunted me but no excess anger or mania or mood swings. Dr A asked to see my mom today in the session, to help her spot any "withdrawal" psychosis, etc - as I live with my parents currently I guess he thought she was the person who'd have to ring the psych unit if I flipped my lid haha. Anyway, having her in the session INFURIATED me (so much for the anger being subdued haha). I hate sharing lol!! I didn't want to emote or be honest with Dr A with her there, and I know that I could easily get fixated on the paranoid delusion that they are both against me. Intellectually, I know that's total BS. But the feeling was still there...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Sometimes I wish I was a psychopath. Or is it a sociopath? The type of person who suffers no guilt or remorse and pretty much goes around doing whatever the hell they like. I am consumed with guilt this week...I should have returned to work on Monday or Tuesday, and here it is Wednesday and I am still in my pyjamas at noon, still obsessively researching, reading and blogging about my issues lol. If only self-obsession was a vaild career choice. I think that technically "sociopath" is the same as psychopath...let me check wiki...well, the wiki gods say that sociopathy describes psychopath AND personality disorder - but not MY personality disorder, naturally.

Damn it, why couldn't I have been an antisocial personality rather than a freakin borderline. All these definitions and descriptions help me not a jot. I have an appointment with Dr A this afternoon, and it's going to be a bit of a strain. He insisted I go back to work this week, as a form of "distress tolerance" (apparently a part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). I cannot believe that I need to be distressed in order to learn to tolerate it...can't I just remember all the past moments of distress and work on those?? Why do I need to create NEW distress??

I am sure I'm not alone in this, but I really have to fight wanting to show up to my appointment fully made up, articulate, fashionably dressed, and remarkably "high functioning" as always. WHY do I need to impress everyone all the time... it's clearly screwy... Dr A will hopefully see through my incessant need to be perfect and realise I am one episode away from permanent incarceration in the loony bin.

Monday, February 9, 2009

And They Say Information Is Power...

All I've done since my visit with Doc A last week is read about SSRI medications, anti-psychotic medications, Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy and Borderline Personality Disorder. It's made my head spin. Okay, so the head was already spinning due to the depression, anxiety, impulsivity and emotional irregulation haha. But now it's even worse! The first doctor to suggest to me that I had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was during high school, and it's been mentioned in an offhand way since then, but never with any serious attempt to diagnose or cure. Doc A seems pretty certain, and all my reading has confirmed that I have all the recognisable symptoms.
  • Turbulent and idealised relationships
  • Impulsivity in self-damaging ways (binge eating *who me???*, shopping, stealing)
  • Difficulty compromising or viewing "grey areas"
  • Intense outbursts, often short-lived, of anger, depression, anxiety

One of the downsides of this diagnosis (and there are many, let me tell ya), is that traditional methods of treatment for depression often don't work, which could explain why I've had no relief from my SSRI (Zoloft) recently, and the new one Efexor is not much better. I'm so wary of SSRI medications now, having just finished the book Dying For A Cure - a biography by an Australian woman who was diagnosed with a range of mental illnesses, and prescribed a number of harmful medications, after presenting with mild postnatal depression. Basically, the meds made her very sick, and encouraged her to self-harm... thankfully she is now off medication and entirely well.

I don't think I was prescribed SSRI antidepressants for nothing. I have a large number of stories from the age of about 5 - 25, depicting varying instances of self-harm, depression, anxiety and hypomania. The medication didn't really change those thoughts or feelings, but seemed to "numb" me toward them. BPD has one major "cure" or treatment available in Perth, which is a 2 week Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course. By all accounts it's hard work, and intense, and involves yucky touchy-feely type "group work" hahahaha. Sharing and bonding and all that hippy junk!! But it will be worth it if I can learn how to regulate my emotions and moods and maybe start to live life on an even keel.

I'm shallow enough to worry about the effect of medications on my weight loss. Efexor is not known to be majorly fabulous at combating depression, BUT it supresses the appetite. One of my other on/off meds is Mirtazepine, an old-fashioned trycylic antidepressant, which can cause weight gain. I know, I know, I know...I shouldn't even care about that side effect. But damn it, I do. I've worked hard and paid well for this weight loss surgery, and I want it to continue working for me. Call me shallow...Call me Ishamel...Don't call me the white whale LOL!!!