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


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Something Old, Something New

I was unemployed, briefly. Emailed my former employer on the weekend to tell them that I wouldn't be coming back, which was probably neither a surprise nor a disappointment to them. It was hard to do, if only because it signalled that no matter where I end up from here, it won't be the place I was before the latest breakdown. I'm sad, but wouldn't choose to go back there, emotionally or mentally, even if it seemed at the time that things were going swimmingly. They clearly weren't. I received extremely nice and supportive emails back, wishing me all the best, and then three hours later was asked to start a new job, with a new company, on April 14th. My disability allowance (which FINALLY came in last week) finishes on April 13th, so it's perfect timing.

The new position is quite different for me - sales administration, which I think will require me to use every tiny maths skill I have. Hopefully, I won't get bored and get into emotional and social mischief...

I had my psych appointment with Dr A this morning, and apart from the new job it was all about I. Oliver. I'm not sure how or why he came into the conversation... I think narratively I must have been revisiting 1992, which is where it all started. It always astonishes me how much I cry telling the story, or stories, even twelve years after the end of things. I guess that investing yourself as passionately in someone, as I did with I.Oliver for 5 years, and then being left with nothing to show for it, is enough to make me cry. Even though I think he made the right decision, chose the right life for himself, the right woman, part of me (a crazy, adolescent deluded part) will always believe he and I will end up together in the end. I suppose I will continue that stupid fantasy until my last breath, but at least these days I don't waste time or energy on pursuing the fantasy.

I know it's sick and twisted but I love the fact that the I.Oliver finale causes people (even my hardened and impartial shrink) to gasp and groan. Even though I can't do it without crying, I kind of enjoy describing my arrival in South Carolina, the long imagined romantic reunion, the voice of the other woman on the answering machine, running away to a edge-of-town motel, stuck in this backward town because of the Independence Day holiday, him saying "but I love you", "I knew if I told you about her you wouldn't come and I wanted to see you..." blah blah blah. Most of what I remember of those 5 days in 1997 is bad movies on HBO, surviving on food from the motel vending machines and mostly just cycling between numb and hysterical. I sat in the parking lot of the motel watching the July 4th fireworks, next to a pickup truck full of Georgians who came daily across the border (apparently) to swim in the motel pool. The reality was the polar opposite from how I'd imagined this Independence Day, during the 60 hours a week I'd been working for the previous year, during the last semester of University when I broke my back to graduate top of my class to impress the great I. Oliver (future Doctor don'tcha know). The previous two years had been all about getting back to the States, getting back to him and living this so-called perfect life. Once that was gone, and gone so immediately and permanently, I had nothing left. And nothing to look forward to except a breakdown, massive weight gain and finally returning to Australia to try and rebuild my life.

Sometimes I think that's a work still in progress. Mr Ex came along 18 months later, and provided such a different picture to the one I'd painted with I.Oliver. On the rebound, on the defensive, how could I NOT marry him. If I'd searched the world I could not have found someone more different. Of course, running away and hiding my head in the sand could only work for so long, and now here I am in the same place, twelve years later. To borrow a phrase from my best friend S, I think I'm relationship-challenged. Dr A has given me as homework this week the task of writing a list of things I want from a potential partner. I quipped "to be non-existant", which was deemed by Dr A as "avoidant". Tee hee. I really don't see myself with someone, not now, not ever. Any desire I had for partnership has been swallowed by libido-killing medication, mind-fucking crushes and general malaise. I don't think Dr A believes me. I wonder if he'd be mad if I wrote "richer than god", "mute" and "impotent"...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Way It Feels For A Girl

In the last month I've dreamt about Lewis four times. I haven't spoken to him in 6 months, it's more than 5 since I last clapped eyes on him. Yet he comes to me at night and reminds me of why he was the one who changed it all, and who changes it still. How is it that someone can make me laugh until I cry in a dream, yet the next morning I can't remember what he said, or how he looked, I just get that overwhelming reminder of how good I felt being with him. I read somewhere that dreams reach forward from the past to make a point about the future or the present. What are you trying to tell me, Lewis...

I have such a long and detailed list of my hyper-attachments, starting at age 9 when I stole perfume and jewellery from my so-called best friend in order to better emulate/become her and have her tricked-up life for myself. Lewis came into my life last year, 12 months ago almost exactly, when I was already feeling uneasy in my shrinking skin. It took a few weeks, which is a long time for me -- often my BPD hyper-attachment crush strikes me one day and is set in stone the next. (The one after Lewis was literally picked from the crowd, with a friend, CS, directing me as to my best bet for my next Flirt Object.) Anyway, Lewis moved desks at work to sit opposite me and the rest is platonic crush history. Hundreds of emails, shared DVDs and CDs, sotto voce confabs, laughing, laughing, laughing and lo and behold, suddenly I'm sleeping alone and not wearing my wedding ring. I in no way blame or credit Lewis for me finishing things with Mr Ex. His smart, sarcastic connection with me just rocked an already sinking ship. Next thing, Titanic city.

In the way of these things, invariably my BPD style of psychotic bonding freaked him out. I moved departments. We drifted apart. I chose my next victim, and therein lies a whole new ball game. Let's just say, I don't dream about HIM. But Lewis...ah, Lewis. He'll always be special. He told me the truth , which is always scary for the deluded among us! My adoption of his culture introduced me to Saxondale and Chewin' The Fat. He handled me, and the strange love/hate roundabout we were on, with sensitivity and aplomb. Mostly. I don't know what the dreams mean, or if they mean anything. I'm fond of telling people who confide their dreams to me that dreams are junk mail from our subconscious...but that's more to make them shut up than because I believe it to be true! I always have a soft spot for previous MFO (Main Flirt Object)s, except for the ones I've attempted to poison or who took out restraining orders - JOKE!

If I had to look back over the last year and pick out fleeting moments of happiness, they would all feature Lewis and my friend Michelle, who for a short while formed a triumvurate of anarchy with us in our staid and oppressive workplace. Maybe that's why he still features in my dreams, because I've always been lucky enough to create a BETTER world in my dream state, rather than deal with nightmares where I'm naked, redneck or being chased by dogs. Trying to recreate recent joy, I guess I naturally turn to Lewis. It used to always be I. Oliver in my dreams, my long-lost soulmate and star-crossed lover, but he is a long and sad story for another day.

By the way, here's a secret for ya. Sometimes, in the dark part of my heart, I wonder if I really want to get well, if it means losing that all-consuming rush of hyper-attachment. I miss it, I crave it more than anything else "forbidden". I struggle with it every day. I dread going back to work if only because it throws up that possibility. Here, safe at home, there's no-one to hurt me. But there's no-one to adore, either. A dilemma, no?


At least that's what she calls it!

Thankfully I have a wireless keyboard because sometimes I have to let Sami sit in front of me and balance the keyboard on top of her, but gently otherwise she complains. Loudly.

As you can see, my desk is already cluttered. But she is *such* great company, I never (well, seldom...) complain. I rescued her from a vet's about 3 years ago, after my 17 year old cat Seth passed away. Sami is a real character, makes us all laugh with her antics. Don't tell Charly, who is my "baby" but sometimes I think Sami is my favourite.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This morning, what we like to call "Government Time" is over. Some people call it "Daylight Saving". Whatever it is, clearly the people who advocate it have not read the research that shows the body's circadian rythym never adjusts to the "new" time and that all kinds of problems are caused by the messin' round with the clocks!

In Perth, a quaint and somewhat backward city on the Western half of Australia, we've had three referendums in the last 30 years regarding Daylight Saving -- for those unsure, a referendum is where the people get to vote on potential changes to the constitution. In ALL of those referendums, the majority of voters said "No, you can take your extra hour of daylight and stick it where don't shine". I don't know what people's reasons are. Personally, I loathe summer and daylight saving means that instead of it being 30 deg C when I get home at night it's still 35 or 40 deg. It also means that it's pitch black in the mornings and difficult to exercise etc before work. Daylight Saving seems to work well in Europe (the only other place I've lived that had it), but maybe that's because THERE it's not so hot that stepping outside immediately makes your skin feel like peeling paint.

Anyway, my main gripe is that we, the citizens of Perth, keep on voting NO to Daylight Saving. And the government decided to trial the stupid thing for 3 years anyway. We have ANOTHER referendum (can anyone say "waste of tax payers' time and money"?) in May, where undoubtedly this quaint and somewhat backward city will suffer dejavu all over again haha and vote NO. I just hope it stays away for good this time. Trying to go to sleep when it's over 100F is just not nice. I think I have the opposite of the usual style of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need less sunlight. I should become a vampire, except having to get up close and personal with other people in order to feed, that's just not my scene. Sometimes I even find going to the grocery store is too interactive, and at least there you don't have to touch others LOL.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Reinvented Self

The week continues on it's merry (somewhat TOO merry perhaps?) way. Sweeping the patio, walking the dog, cooking, cleaning, job interviews. It's all go at the L Ranch. There's a small and hellishly contrary part of my brain that is fighting it, still. I am trying to resist the inevitable this energetic and cheerful person actually ME? Is it "normal" for me to feel hopeful, positive and motivated, all in one day? Is this one of those SSRI-related manias I've heard so much about? All I can do is be vigilant and document any out-of-character behaviours.

The medication is also supposed to have a positive effect on impulse behaviours; sadly so far my trilogy of tragedy (derm, trich, binge) are still firmly in place. But I have been able to go three or four days without harming in these ways, so I think the CBT is helping there. I am trying to distract myself and find other outlets. This week I started drawing, which I've always wanted to try - bought one of those "Drawing For Dummies" type books and so far I'm loving it. I am typically BPD in that I adore new hobbies haha!

Dr A has written a referral for me to have an MRI - apparently lupus/SLE can cause brain lesions and other nervous systems problems, and in 10% of lupus patients the disease causes personality disorders, depression and/or psychosis... Um, maybe that's something I would have found useful to know 5 years ago? Twenty years ago?? I seriously doubt that my lupus has impacted upon or caused my mental illness. Even if it has, the treatment (for the vasculitis or lesions) is masses of corticosteroids, which I refuse to take. But the knowledge will be powerful, just the same. I can't believe that the rheumotologist, haematologist, allergy specialist and previous psychiatrists have never mentioned an MRI...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Jagged Little Pill

Yesterday, I managed to drag myself out of bed in time to present my high-functionin' self to Dr A at 8:30am. It wasn't easy, not least because dealing with peak-hour public transport is enough to send the sanest soul into a decline. I HATE the train, the ones that go near my house are set up so that the seats are all along the sides, facing in - your paranoiac's basic nightmare. A friend of mine who works as a train security guard says it's due to the high level of crime and naughtiness on my train line - but I *think* she's joshin' with me. Anyway, the trains at that hour of the morning are chock-full of worker drones (um, hello, you used to be one, yes I know, now shut up, ok?) and I was paranoid I would run into someone from my old work. In a small town city like Perth that happens a lot. In fact, it happened last time I had an early appt with Dr A and I could just imagine the chatter back at the office "Hey, I thought L had a schiz-out and was in the funny farm? Well, I just saw her heading into the city and looked like she was going to work...does she have a new job?" Bummer.

Anyway. Anyway. Anyway... the appointment went pretty well, although I am mega-cynical of most of his shrinkish moves. He asked me about the job situation, saying I was "extremely well spoken and had the gift of the gab" (bless) and that I was "very skilled" (you got no idea honey). I just about managed to not roll my eyes in cynical acknowledgement of his attempt to bond my good self to him. We talked a bit about "Lost in the Mirror" a great book about BPD that was recommended by the fab Wandering Coyote . It's terrific, and one of the things the author discusses is the benefit of ritual and routine for the Borderline. I had already been planning to try and set up a daily plan for myself, getting up at a certain time, exercising, cleaning, homework etc, because I am really scared about becoming wedded to my bed hahaha. So Dr A and I gasbagged about what I might have in my ritual/routine, trying to strike that happy balance between tasks and fun.

Once I left there I was all fired up for the day and had a small shopping spree (wouldn't call it a binge per se...) and saw a movie (Duplicity - not bad. Clive Owen deliciously British). Then went out later with my friend Michelle, and we had dinner and saw another movie (Paul Blart Mall Cop - v. entertaining, Kevin James chubbily charming). Today, I managed to stick to my routine/ritual and got up at 8am (better than yesterday's 6am, ugh) and have been cleaning and writing and applying for jobs all day while listening to Taylor Swift. Even managed to get outside and sweep the patio floor and vacuum my dog's kennel (Michelle, no need to call the RSPCA now lol).

So here's the thing. And ain't there always a kicker? Yesterday I *finally* opened the Lovan box, pushed out a pill, snapped it in half and swallowed it along with my myriad other tablets and supplements. Lovan, for those not "in the know" is another name for fluoxetine, aka Prozac. Sometimes, apparently, SSRIs can start working immediately and in very small doses. But maybe I am just having a couple of great, energy-filled, productive fun days?? I am furious at the fact that it might be those god-damned chemicals that have given me the kick in the ass I needed to get out of bed and into the world again. Part of me hopes for a major slump, so I can go "hooray, the meds aren't affecting me, it's just a hypomanic state!!" It's nuts, clearly. I want to be well, but I don't want medication to help me? Where's the sense in that?? I'm just gonna have to go with it. Here's the confusing list of facts (for my own record as much as to entertain my beloved readers, so please forgive me!)
  1. Finished my darn period four days ago, always a positive thing
  2. Kicked my diet coke habit six days ago - traditionally a hard time, usually gives me withdrawal headaches and lethargy?
  3. Could barely function four days ago, and now have energy to burn and a clear head
  4. Two days ago started SSRI anti-depressant at 1/8 of the standard/highest dose

I don't know how much of this relates to my current mental and physical state!

I don't know if I'm just having a "good" week!

But I am DETERMINED to make the most of it, regardless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I Love Taylor Swift

This is such a cynical world sometimes, and it's unfashionable (in certain circles) to love anything that is popular and simple and beautiful. I have a few guilty pleasures like that...things I love that are kept secret, in case they damage my ultra-cool (*cough*) image. Chick lit novels, for instance, are something I love even though I studied English Literature at University and also have place on my shelves for Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, Mark Twain, et al. I don't see the point in being a book snob, when reading is such a great pleasure and there are so many different styles of writing, why limit myself to those novels "critically" acclaimed or reviewed in literary magazines?? Honestly, I still have a collection of teen romance novels I accumulated in high school (and later) -- I don't read them all the time, but I like to know they're there in case I need escapism or to relive the past. I also have such a strong connection to the 80s, and to the teenage experience, and struggle every day to realise that I can never go back there. Sometimes I look at 19 year old girls on the street or on the bus and they're SO cocky and sure of themselves, and I want to say "Man, don't ever think you have it all worked is sure to throw you a major curve ball one of these days and you better pray you have the moves to catch it and fling it back or the damn thing will knock you out".

I used to date a musician who refused to listen to anything that would be played on commercial radio, consequently he amassed a huge pile of alternative, independent artists that mostly sounded like garbage cans being collected at 4am (IMHO). While I spent a lot of time trying to impress him and pretended to agree that "pop = bad", secretly I hung on to all the music I truly loved, which had mostly been played on the radio at one stage or another. As much as my BPD-style of connection, in which I become the person I love, taking on their interests as my own, has dictated some of my cultural pursuits, there are some things that are true to me -- daggy and pathetic though they may be.

Which brings me to Taylor Swift and the title of this post. A lot of music journalists and internet pundits make fun of Taylor, questioning her validity, pondering her contribution to modern music, making fun of her for being publicly dumped by a Jonas Brother. None of that matters to me, because I love her songs, I love watching her interviews - she strikes me as a geunine girl, who is 18 and is trying to make sense of love and life...hey she reminds me of me hahahahaha!! I have been resisting buying her new CD "Fearless", due to "peer pressure" from the "cool kids". But most days I would be on youtube, playing her songs in secret and watching her vblogs.

So, here and now, I'm outing myself as a devoted Taylor Swift fan, and I'm going to share part of one of her songs "White Horse". If you want to comment, maybe share with us one of YOUR "dirty little secret" pleasures?? I know you've all got 'em.

I'm not a princess, this ain't a fairytale
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet
lead her up the stairwell
this ain't Hollywood, this is a small town
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
now it's too late for you and your white horse to come around

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Funny

This Dilbert Anti-Depressant cartoon was on my Dilbert-A-Day calendar last week, and I was planning to scan and upload it. Then I discovered the animation! I love it. The second cartoon is good too - "You can either work or get drunk, the pay is the same". I'm managing to laugh at least once a day, and I'm taking that as a major victory.

Dr A rang me this morning to reschedule tomorrow's appointment. I had to trade my hard-fought one hour appointment to a half-hour appointment at 8:30am. He only works part-time, has childcare responsibilities, so I couldn't really argue. Besides I am the high-functioning, pleasant & moderate BPD patient, not the crackpot mentallist, right? I had to book the one hour appt three weeks in advance, though, because he doesn't have many per week, and I cancelled last week cause it was half an hour and it takes me an hour and a half to get there on three buses. I wish I had the nerve to tell him he sucks hahahaha. One day I will tell you about the nightmare that is Dr A. All 6 foot 4, bronzed AngloIndian, devoted father, probably younger than me, in fact definitely younger than me (38). Stylish casual dress, designer jeans. How can someone who is so clearly in control of his life understand me for one second???? He has referred me to a psychologist colleague, MH, so I can do some CBT work with her. The sessions are a fraction of the price of seeing Dr A, and she's closer to me; sadly I had to wait 6 weeks for a slot to open up - it's on April 8th. Until then, and probably afterwards, I will see Dr A once a week. Kaching. Still haven't been approved for disability -- they asked me for paperwork proving the bank balance of the joint account me and Mr Ex had, which he still has and is legally still half mine apparently. I haven't had access to the account for 10 months. Now I've provided that I am praying I get a decision about Sickness Allowance this week.

The novelty of having to ask my parents for every cent I need is fast wearing off. I know it sounds ideal to some people, having parents (well, mother and stepfather) who are prepared to help out. But let me tell you, it comes with its own set of issues and negotiations. I keep a thorough list of what I owe them, and sometimes just to depress myself further, I look at the list and try to remember $5 here, or $2 there that I've forgotten. I've stopped going to the gym because it's $10 per session. My friend has paid for us to go out (movies and bowling) twice now, which is a huge embarrassment as she is ten years younger than me, unemployed, and has major depression herself. How on earth did I end up here???? That's a rhetorical question by the way. Along with "What will happen to me?"; "To medicate or not to medicate?" and "Do blondes have more fun?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visual Cues

I'm considering doing one of these graphs each week and displaying it like a flashcard for Dr A, so he can better "assess" me. It's colourful. It occupied some of my day. I am trying hard to focus on the tiny, but brightly visible, sliver of hope still present at the top.

I keep thinking longingly of the activating qualities of fluoxetine. My memories of taking it (2000) are clouded by the intense migraine headaches I had at the time, which may or may not have been a side effect. I imagine myself lucid, energetic and focused...less "rejection-sensitive" (Peter Kramer, Listening to Prozac). My shrink was torn between prescribing an activitating SSRI or a sedating one (namely citalopram aka Celexa, Cipramil). He asked me to make the "would you rather turn positive behaviours ON, or turn negative behavious OFF?" How the %^$#$%^ would I know? I used to think the "right" medication (or the "right" relationship, job, pair of shoes) would do BOTH. Would make me turn away from cake and towards the gym. Would make me see beauty in the mirror instead of horror. Now... I seriously doubt the capabilities of medication. Been there, done that.

  • Fluoxetine - failure.
  • Sertraline - failure (admittedly after working for a couple of years)
  • Mirtazapine - failure.
  • Diazepam - failure.
  • Venlafaxine - GROTESQUE failure.

Of course, these days I have a more accurate diagnosis and with that, the realisation that medication doesn't really help Borderline Personality Disorder the way it can help other mental illness. Basically, the way to work through BPD is therapy, continuing the CBT and DBT I have started. Dr A seems to think that the therapy might be "easier" with the help of fluoxetine, make the darkness lighter and the energy levels a bit higher.

I know I keep flogging this dead horse. It's what consumes me, when I'm not trying to decide what kind of cheese to eat lol. I'm fairly sure that once I get my disability/heathcare card (with it's associated discount on medications) I'll shuffle off to the pharmacy and fill the script. If only to deflect the questioning of the persistent Dr A. And I will take the tiny pill (or half), and try not to choke on the weight of my sliver of hope.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Surrender or Set Sail

This has been a dark week. I tend to have a hormonally challenged week every month (so rocket science there) and this is it. Which means I am glad I didn't decide to resume medication as the distinction between hormone side effects and chemical side effects could have been blurry. So now I have migraines, upset stomach, irritability and lethargy and no noticeable change of mental health. I'm thinking I will give myself until the end of next week before I start the new/old medication, as this week has not been a good litmus test of anything except the cosiness of my new bed sheets. I went to the gym on Monday, no exercise since then, and have only left the house twice in the last 4 days. But I am hopeful that this isn't a relapse or symptom-related episode. I think it really is just hormones.

I turn 40 next year and am seriously considering my options. I know there is a laundry list of reasons against having a hysterectomy, but quite frankly the argument of hormonal hell and mental instability just doesn't wash with me. It's what I have now, right? And I have to take the strongest contraceptive pill on the market just to semi-regulate my cycle, and the side effects and potential health risks of the Pill are not slight. I will never have children, physically can't (proven by 14 months of invasive, debilitating, expensive and ultimately fruitless fertility treatment) and really have no desire to. I know of a couple of women who chose to have hysterectomies in their late 30s and one even had the laparoscopic procedure, so the physical risk of surgery is lessened. I have plans for major plastic surgery next year, to correct the ravages of gaining/losing 80 kg (170 pounds), but may have to postpone that to pay for the insides to be fixed first. I also need to have some prolapses corrected (again, from gaining weight). Sometimes I wish there was somewhere I could check into and just have it all nipped, tucked, tidied and polished and then voila! Out I come all "fixed"...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Were Never Being Boring

"The Borderline patient's boredom is hungry and restless. There is a driven quality to it, or as one therapist said "These people are walking responses looking for a stimulus"...the Borderline patient's boredom can quickly turn into a subjective sense of emptiness that is painful and distressing" (Becoming A Constant Object - In Psychotherapy With The Borderline Patient)

Reading a review of the above book did nothing to reassure me that the stigma about BPD patients has lessened. My own shrink laughed when he said "Lots of doctors don't commit to therapy with Borderline Patients as it's just too challenging". Oh, it sucks to be them (except when it's time to give me the $250 bill per session). A sponsored link on the review lead me to The Teddy Bear Therapy Centre - a psychology centre in my own city where (contrary to my fervent hope) the shrinks are not dressed in bear suits, nor do they seem to offer teddy bears for stress-relieving beheadings or dismemberments.

And people wonder why I am losing my mind hahahahahaha!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blog Slut

My problems are multitudinous, my physique gelatinous. I'm also, I'm discovering, becoming quite the blogosphere tart. The trouble with visiting great blogs is that they link me to other great blogs, and so on and so forth until I have a Google Reader overflowing with daily updates on all the things most loved by me. Binge eating. Borderline Personality Disorder. Bipolar. Barbie. And those are just the Bs!! So much amazing writing, so many stories of great trouble and triumph. I really love the virtual community, not least because to participate in it I don't need to shower or put on lipstick. Also, in the last few months since my murky crackups gelled into a diagnosis-of-sorts, the blog world has reassured me that I am a) sane and b) not alone. Those two things were starting to be less and less "true" in my "real world". Thank you to all my blog friends, old and new, and keep fighting the good fight!

Weirdly, my weekend has been stable and...dare I say it...boring? Secretly, I long for the day when my next mood cycle hits, or some massive trigger kicks the stool out from under my dull ass and I go all rainbow-hued and mental again. I know this is SO stupid. It's counter-productive to WANT to relapse. But then I think of all the times Dr A has said to me that recovery needs to be tested over and over again, and I want to start TESTING some of the new techniques I'm learning with this CBT palaver. I was reading a biography today by an Australian Rugby player who has bipolar disorder, and he says after diagnosis and medication he used Ecstasy as a way to recapture the feeling he had during mania. Es have never been a part of my repertoire due to the SSRIs I was packing. But I can see the point... I really don't want to schiz out again and wander the streets believing I'm reading the minds of passing folk. I clearly don't miss hyperattachments to sundry stupids (mostly at work, just to give me a reason to go there!).

I don't even know why I'm bringing this up - it feels like an apology for the fact that I am doing okay. Which sucks. As mentioned, I read other blogs and a lot of us seem to need to reassure docs, workmates, families that contrary to outward appearances, WE ARE NOT OKAY.

Three reasons I am not okay, today:
  1. This morning I found a drowned mouse in my dog's water bowl. He looked peaceful, but still.
  2. While pruning my rose bushes I tripped over a sprinkler and gashed my leg, which bled all over my "good" socks and my New Balance trainers (sneakers). The blasted injury is killing me and prevented me from lolling in the bath all evening.
  3. Twice this week I saw DK. Once driving past the bus stop and then yesterday when C and I drove past his house and he was mowing the lawn. I miss him "like my left arm that's been lost in a war" and although it's been nine months since we talked, in my head we are always always always talking, we tell each other everything as always and I still don't get, will never get, why we aren't friends any more when all I did was tell my Hopeless Husband that I wanted out, clearly a terrible unforgivable thing that made it impossible for DK and LK to continue speaking to me, to either of us, to continue allowing me to be godmother to their kids, sometimes I hate her for this, I know it's her and not his decision because when we see each other there's that moment when I FEEL his confusion and he seems to want to wave, to, smile, to speak, to acknowledge that I still exist and am still seen in thousands of photographs and videos that MUST still be in their house, and no wonder I tell people that this betrayal hurts me so much more than Mr Ex and his ambivalence.

For this, and legions more, I am not okay dammit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Creative Spurt

This week has been great for me as far as the creative muse is concerned. I bought two discounted wall calendars (marked down 75% as it's almost 1/4 of the way through the year I suppose) and have cut them up, making a colourful piece of art for my bedroom wall. I was considering painting, but as the property is a rental (and my taste in colours can be somewhat LESS than "neutral" haha) I opted for some removable renovations. Below is the "before" wall, then the "after", with the third photo being a close up. The pictures are from "The Earth Below" calendar (satellite images of Earth taken by NASA) and an Australian Abstract Act calendar. Weird mix, I know, but they kind of work together - and I loved the colours. It's cheered my room up immensely.

I've also been working on an accompaniment to my comfort box (see yesterday's post). There were a number of things, important things that are central to my recovery, that couldn't be "boxed up" so I made a collage (thank you Jena for the inspiration!) which I will put up on my wall to remind me of all the things I love to do when I feel low. I tried really hard to use images without triggers/reminders, and nothing addictive (which ruled out shopping, eating, caffiene, alcohol, etc, etc). I'm happy with how it turned out, and hopefully I can get back into some other art and craft I've been planning and working on.

The downside of the week was yesterday's appointment with Dr A. He was extremely supportive about me looking for a different job, not only because of the social issues but also because I am bored with the job and do need a new challenge. However, he again pushed the idea of medication. I've been "med free" since 15 Feb (almost a month!) and although getting off the Effexor was tough, I think I am doing really well. So it bugs me that he wants me to go onto 10mg of Prozac, just to help me complete the CBT and to lift my mood. I've been honest with him, and admitted that I have some suicidal ideation, but nothing anywhere close to the horror thoughts and moods I had while ON medication. And although I sometimes feel depressed (like yesterday when I found out I didn't get the job I interviewed for - boohoo) and hopeless and lost, it's okay because I know what to do and I don't need to get up and go to work, I can just take my time to get through the day. I really don't think I need medication. And what's the POINT of such a stupid low dose anyway?? I hate the way I ALWAYS need to think I am right and know more than the doctors!!! But in this case I think I DO hahahaha! My compromise is that I am going to work hard on my goals and homework for the week, WITHOUT Prozac, and then at my next session I can discuss it more with Dr A.
I just know from experience and research that one medication tends to lead to another, and sometimes it's hard to know what are side effects and what are actual symptoms. Any advice or input gladly welcomed (:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comfort Box

One of the tasks I'm working on this week, as part of my "Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder" workbook, is creating a Comfort Box. The process is very simple, and probably most folks have come across it before, but there's a little article on about it here if you want to know more. Basically, I've been asked to create a boxful of stuff to cheer me up and to help with Distress Tolerance (Distracting) -- so that when I feel overwhelmed/ stressed / depressed I can use the items in the box to cheer myself up and distract me until the "difficult emotions" and "unhelpful thoughts" have eased up. You can see most of the items I have in there so far, including a wallmap of the USA with all my trips marked, a couple of books, photos of the cats and dog, a lavender scented soap and a Barbie fake camera which says "You look WONDERFUL" when you press the button! It's cheesy and always makes me smile! I'm still adding to it.

Putting together the box was heaps harder than I thought, and harder than the workbook suggested. They didn't warn me to watch out for trigger items, which of course came to hand faster than comforting items lol. For instance, trying to find a nice stuffed animal that didn't have sad memory attached -- the ones that weren't gifts from Mr Ex were given to me when I was in hospital. Photos were another suggestion, but it took me a while to find some that brought genuine happiness when I saw them, and I had to search through a lot of albums and relive a lot of not-so-happy times and relationships. The real killer was the music, though, as touched on in my last post...

I'm putting together a cheery peppy music CD to put in the comfort toolbox, and I think I've ended up with a great mix. Songs that aren't too angry or negative (sorry Alanis!) but are just kind of happy and upbeat. Mika features, as does Fergie and Madonna, and some offbeat Australian music like Ben Lee, Darren Hanlon and The Cat Empire. I talked to Dr A today about the music thing, and how I have been known to use it as an intentional trigger, to make myself cry and feel when I am too closed down to cope with anything. He says crying suits me and I should do it more often. I think he's aiming for some hot transference action hahahahaha.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is It Wicked Not To Care

Is it wicked not to care when they say that you’re mistaken
Thinking hopes and lots of dreams that arent there?
Is it wicked not to care when you’ve wasted many hours
Talking endlessly to anyone that’s there?

I know the truth awaits me
But still I hesitate because of fear

Skipping tickets making rhymes
Is that all that you believe in?
Wearing rags to make you pretty by design
Rusting armour for effect
It’s not fun to watch the rust grow
For it will all be over when youre dead

Counting acts and clutching thoughts
By the river where the moss grows
Over rocks the water running all the time
Is it wicked when you smile even though you feel like crying
Even though you could be sick at any time?

But if there was a sequel
Would you love me as an equal?
Would you love me till I’m dead


If there was a sequel would you love me like an equal?
Would you love me till I’m dead
And if there was a sequel
Would you love me as an equal?
Would you love me till I’m dead
Or is there someone else instead?

I've had a day of strangeness, good and bad. I have been trying to listen to some peppy music, which I do have on my ipod contrary to popular belief! But I keep coming back to Belle & Sebastian, who seem to capture the essence of me and my nutso life. I couldn't decide whether to put Wicked Not To Care on today's post or I'm A Cuckoo (one of my other favourites). The film clip for Wicked Not To Care is so beautiful, reminds me of the film Breathless which I relate to in all my usual high-strung ways haha!

I went for a job this morning...even though I have been ordered on to disability for at least 4-6 weeks on the proviso that I would be returning to my previous job in admin/telecommunications. I clearly have no idea what I am doing!! I applied for it in the middle of the night over the weekend (damn internet job sites), having realised fully, for the first time, that I really really really really really don't think I can go back to my old workplace. Well, I know I physically COULD. But I don't WANT to, and I think recovery and learning CBT/DBT and future therapy will all be easier with a "blank canvas". My breakdown during Dec and Jan was pretty ugly. Made me some damn fine enemies...even though I know people will have new crap to gossip about now, and that true friends will have forgiven and been understanding, in the end I don't know or trust anyone there. For the entire year I've worked there I've been over-medicated and therefore blunted beyond belief, or (latterly) unmedicated and hypomanic. I don't know who I am. Or where I'm going. Kind of the Borderline Personality Disorder meme HAHA. But I know that the journey to self seems waaaay more appealing without the knowing looks, the avoidance and the jokes about crying in the bathroom. Two people I "hyper-attached" to (my way of describing the BPD "As If" bonding) are now not speaking to me, and are very attached to each other actually. Which caused me a ***major*** freakout. I would gladly pay money to not have to see those two again. Even weighing up the nice attitude my bosses have had about my breakdown, and the fact that I know my job and like it, and I'm good at it, I truly think I might need to find a different job.

The job I went for today is part-time, and located in a nice area of town (unlike my current job which shares its block with two brothels, a pub and a drug addiction centre). I would have enough money to live on, but enough time off to go to the shrink, the gym and do my homework. The horrifying thought occured to me today, though, after I had been all "high-functioning" and wowed them in the interview, that they may ring my current boss for a reference. WTF will she say?? I have been on the verge of vomiting all afternoon just IMAGINING that conversation. I would dearly love to be upfront and disclosing about my illness, but let's face it, we all know it can be hard enough out there in the job market without adding all my non-academic acronyms. BA = OK. BPD = Not So Much.

I couldn't fight my impulses once I got my freak on, went shopping with my mom's atm card (what am I, 12?????) and bought underwear, hair colour, books, magazines, a dress and two pairs of pants. I only had the keycard for my stupid glasses, which I didn't even get to be tested for on account of being mental and going on a job interview... My mom will be understanding and pitying of my shopaholic binge. Why does that just make it WORSE??

A difficult day. Why is it so damn HOT? It's supposed to be Autumn.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sleeping Sickness

The last few days have passed in a blur. A lot of napping, which always makes me worried that I am slipping back into the damn hole that Black Dog keeps digging. I also tend to sleep as a way to avoid my two family members who are home during the day -- I get even more morose when I have to sit and listen to my grandmother complain about things she has seen on television, or about the fact that she has developed light freckling on her arms (she is 90 years old). My shrink reckons Nanna sounds like a classic Narcissist, or Person of The Lie as M Scott Peck described. It has taken me 38 years to realise that just because a person is elderly, white haired and knits does not make them a jolly, benign cartoon-style grandmother. My mother is the nut she is because she was raised by my even nuttier Nanna in an atmosphere that was at best ignorant, at worst truly evil. And I cut Mom some slack because of that... My mom knows no better, she mostly did her half-hearted best to raise me and the fact that I was party raised by my grandmother (while my mom worked), well... I don't think Mom had realised then just how damaging my grandmother is/was. I feel so guilty even criticising my grandmother here in my journal. But sometimes I am so angry with her and so bitter that I have to fight not to put a pillow over her head (or throw myself off the nearest building). She is perpetually complaining, criticising, ungrateful of the fact that we do EVERYTHING for her from make her tea to do her laundry, even though she is not physically disabled in the slightest. She is just lazy and used to having everything done for her. I know, I know, she's 90 years old and probably deserves some respect, but wow it is HARD to give her any. I think that respect needs to be earned, and I don't know if I can forgive her for putting my Mom (and then me) in harm's way. Jeez. Living with her is THE WORST place for me to be. I know. It's definitely contributed to the most recent mental issues I'm having. I've made a deal with Dr A that I will work towards moving out into my own place within the next 6 months.

I suppose that gives me some incentive to return to work, as disability won't cover rent and bills if I'm living alone. I had to deal with our government social security/welfare agency this week, as my leave entitlements from work are finally used up. It's a long time since I had to deal with welfare, and the recent economic downturn has meant an increase in the number of people applying for benefits and therefore the amount of time it takes to be dealt with. I got to the agency at 7:30am, knowing that the line would build up before opening time of 8am. By the time the doors opened there were 40-50 people already waiting in line. I finally left the agency just after 9am. The amount of money I will qualify for is about a quarter of what I would usually earn, so it won't cover my living expenses (hence, I am stuck living with my family for the next while). Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off staying married... a different set of issues there I suppose. There is so much I need to learn about myself and how to deal with life, it's exhausting to the point of being incapacitating.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Was A Nightmare, You Were A Saint

I don't make a habit of reviewing films. For great discussions of Rachel Getting Married you should visit Wandering Coyote's blog, Bon Dobbs (isn't that a cool name??) or Mystery Man On Film. These guys do a better job of describing the film than I could. I only reference the film here in relation to me and my experience of it! What's new haha? I saw the film today, and loved it... related to it, admired it, hated it because of the reflected pain from my own life/family history. During the film I kept remembering Marsha Linehan's description of BPD as having third degree burns on the emotional skin, so that every tiny experience of pain is amplified to agonising. Personally, I most often say that it's like every bone in my body is broken, as the pain from a burn is more "searing" or sharp, and my emotional pain is not usually so acute. More dull, throbbing, aching, permanently "there" on the periphery of my awareness.

Anyway, I am a huge fan of Anne Hathaway, being a dedicated Princess Diaries fan. I thought she did a remarkable job playing the character Kym, who may or may not be Bipolar or Borderline but has certainly struggled with an addiction to narcotics and an eating disorder. Kym demonstrates a plethora of character traits and behaviours a lot of us can relate to- rapid mood cycling, impulsivity, confusion of self, paranoia, and Anne Hathaway is interesting and convincing in the role. I would like to say the movie or her performance made me cry, but in fact I was just crying as accompaniment, really didn't notice a stopping or starting of the tears, they were just part of the whole experience. I really couldn't NOT cry... I was sorrowful... I was struck all over again by how damnably hard it can be to form relationships with ANYONE, let alone people we are thrown together with by accident of genetics/birth. At one stage, there was a parade of seemingly healthy, outgoing, sociable and articulate people wishing the bride and groom well -- an inexplicably mulitnational, musically gifted group of friends and family. People quoted, emoted, sang, played saxaphone. And you just know there's going to be Kym's turn coming around, and she will be the odd one out. I don't know if I believe in the well-rounded and blessed first group, they just don't ring true for me. Emotional truth and raw, bleak honesty, however, seem to be what fits. The title of this post is one of Kym's great one-liners. Without spoiling the plot for anyone who wants to see Rachel Getting Married, I completely dissolved into sympatico giggles when Kym starts to say "That's not fair!" People in the audience behind me were tsk tsking at the character, criticising her I suppose for her self-centredness. But Kym, honey, I hear ya. Sometimes, it ain't fair.

On a musical note -- yay that the little-known UK balladeer Robyn Hitchcock gets to play himself and sing a couple of tunes during the wedding reception. He reminds me of the folk greats...Dylan...Neil Young (wonder what Mr Young thought of Unknown Legend being acapella-ed during the Rachel Getting Married wedding ceremony??)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Trying to update the layout of my blog is proving to be exasperating. I was also asked today whether I should have two separate blogs, one with the original purpose of tracking my weight loss surgery, and a new one with the details of my breakdown/rebuild during and after diagnosis and treatment for BPD. I think I probably need two blogs. Whether I have the mental or emotional stamina for two... well, that remains to be seen. Bear with me while I work it out!