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


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.


Anonymous said...

This post put a smile on my lips. I'm so happy for you.

Happy Birthday. It seems you have some good stuff to celebrate.

Just Be Real said...

***Birthday Wishes to You***

Great post dear one. Enjoy your time of celebration!


Anonymous Drifter said...

Happy Birthday. I'm so glad that DBT is working for you. I always wanted to try that therapy but it isn't offered here.

Wandering Coyote said...

Thanks for this post, Lil! It's so excellent to hear how well the DBT skills are working for you.

Polar Bear said...

Amazing isnt it how music can draw up memories of a certain time when you associate the music to.

I think DBT does work for BPDs too. It hasn't cured every aspect of my symptoms, but as you say, it does help.

Jena said...

Happy Birthday, Lil!

Isn't it so great when you can just identify what is going on in your thoughts and just kind of take control in a unique way, and make it through gracefully with experience for next time? I am so glad for you that you were able to turn your situation around.

Sorry I haven't commented here in so long, I thought you weren't posting because I had a wrong link to your page!!! But I've corrected it now, so I can visit you more regularily again.

Have an awesome day hun!!
Love, Jena xoxo

Dee said...

Lil...its amazing about the choices we can make ...& towards our own recovery. It is a valid choice to be always stuck or to choose the tools for recovery.

Strangly and sadly many don't realize the choices they have...or if they do, they choose to be stuck!

I think you are on the right path. Your journey will take you to a good place.

Happy Birthday! Its a new beginning.

Safe hugz!

Borderline Lil said...

@ Tricia - I'm smiling too, thanks for stopping by!
@ JBR - Blessings back to you my friend!
@ AD - DBT is worth looking into, I've been teaching it to myself as Dr A doesn't have specific training. He's kind of my coach, I guess, but I've done a lot of my own reading. I might write a post about DBT soon and give some references to books and websites. It's such great techniques! Thanks for the b'day wishes xx
@ Wandering Coyote - DBT rocks!
@ Polar - music is an amazing source of emotion, both good and bad, for me. It's cool that I can learn how to control the feelings, rather than feel out of control. Glad DBT helps you too!
@Jena - welcome back girlfriend! Lovely to see you and thanks for your comments.
@ Dee - I think you're right, my journey is heading towards a better place. Thanks for the support!

tracy said...

Happy (late) Birthday "Black Adder Geek"

That "Central Park Album" took m e right back to 18, when i first "went crazy"...great album, horrible time...i wonder what my 18 year old self would think of me now...GAH!!!! i think, like you wrote, i thought then that i would somehow have "gotten over it"....not by a loooooooong shot (get irony)...think i should stop with that...

Hugs to you,

Borderline Lil said...

@ Tracy - thank you for *finally* commenting haha!! Good to know you are checking in now and again, and now we have another thing in common (Simon & Garfunkel). Wow, it IS scary to think what our teenage selves would think of us now...take care my friend xx

Colby said...

Thanks so much for your post, and your blog. Millions of Americans suffer mental illnesses like Borderline Personality Disorder. Silver Hill Hospital has clinicians trained in evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, including dialectical behavioral therapy, and provides hope for people who may not have been getting the right care. Talking/blogging about mental illness can be extremely helpful not just for yourself, but for others in need. Keep up the good work.