Foreword: Trigger Warning! The following topics include very sensitive subjects. If you suspect that you may have a trigger contained within, please refrain from reading. Reader discretion advised.
Blink. Blink. Blinking away. The cursor sits at a standstill while I stare ahead, poised, awaiting the words to flow out of my mind, through my arms, and out of my fingertips. Nifty title for some heavy stuff. And though there is plenty of content, I have no clue how to provide an introduction. A part of me flinches, and I find my fingers stiffening in hesitation.
No, you’re going to do this today.
Awhile ago, The Voice emerged from the jumbled noise in my head and spoke to me again. The Voice was back at feeding my paranoia and preying on my fears. I cannot understand how this conflicting persona came to be, though I tried to make sense of it in a theoretical psychology essay entitled, “Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious”. I can only recall the emergence in my early teens, probably nearly coinciding with the onset of symptoms.
The Voice had never become external to myself. Until late April, mentioned in Lulu-Lunacy. Moments in time started happening where The Voice had taken on a complete audio hallucination. It had gone beyond paranoid delusion into a complete distortion of my reality. I would have believed that The Voice was a real external entity. It sounded as real as someone sitting next to me on the bus, whispering in my ear. The words were loud, crisp, and clear. But, there was no body to go with it.
I knew it wasn’t real, because I had been hearing it for as long as I could remember. However, I’ve always been able to identify it as a part of my conscious mind. This was detached. The words coming out were not words that came out of a deep, dark place. I had never considered going off of my medication. I had always regarded them as something that made me better. Instead, The Voice was telling me that the medication made me dumb, like cattle, so I could be led around by the neck.
That was my first experience with solid psychosis.
I started to believe that some kind of external source was putting The Voice in my head, and had been doing so for years. I just couldn’t hear it, because I was purposefully not listening. This reason The Voice was always one step ahead of me was because that external source had been monitoring me for years. I was chosen. And it was at this point that they wanted me to finally step up to take back my life from others who were trying to steal it for their own gain.
Yes, it was that real. Do I still think that? I have no idea.
Here’s the truth. I am not one solid person, as I began to mention in Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious. I have a post drafted about my various personas and how some differ greatly from others. Really, it’s more of a spectrum. It’s almost dissociative, but not quite. A part of me is still present as a spectator while other personas take the wheel. But, I am almost in a disembodied kind of state. Sometimes, it feels like I am in a third person kind of state completely outside of myself. Other times, I don’t feel like I am present at all, and clearly I wasn’t. Chunks of time go missing and events get hazy.
Sometimes I feel like I am struggling for control of my own consciousness.
Then, there are the pararealities. I describe them in many of my more lucid, vague sounding posts. Most of the time, I feel like I am a time traveler. Except, I am not really akin to Doctor Who or Marty McFly or other time travelers. I don’t really go from this time period to other time periods. I live in pararealities. These pararealities run alongside and often overlap the linear continuum most people reside in. Here’s a visual representation of reality and pararealities:
To put it in words, I do not experience life and time in a linear way, though I do experience it in the same direction as others. Time speeds up and slows down. Some moments last forever, and sometimes days go by with a blink.
The parareality is a reality that is similar to our own, but doesn’t quite operate in the same way. It’s like living life a millisecond off of everyone else, either faster or slower. Sometimes, the parareality is a little more detached, like in the farther regions of the red and blue zones. But, they are adjacent realities overlapping in areas. More than two pararealities cannot be experienced at once, and although a spectrum may exist, it’s not like a theory of parallel dimensions where there could be dozens totally different from one another. They are much the same, but it’s often like putting a different lens on a pair of goggles.
I realize that what I am saying is complete insanity. It’s the realization alone that prompted me to stop writing and start dodging. Silence fell over me, because nothing I was thinking or feeling really made any sense when propped up against facts. And then The Voice says, “Or maybe it does.”
It’s a rabbit hole situation. I am Neo, and I’m opting for the red pill, though I am not entirely sure whether it is going to lead me to the real reality, or deeper into the delusions and hallucinations. It just feels like I’ve been taking the blue pills too long. Everything feels so forced. Life shouldn’t be forced, right?
Now, we get to the sick parts.
I have been keeping secrets. Apparently, it is what I do the best of all. I am so skilled at illusion that I can deceive myself without even knowing it to begin with.
Enough with the pomp and circumstance. Get on with it.
I am still taking my medication, though I do not want to. I don’t want to drink alcohol anymore, not because alcohol is bad for me and it makes me feel bad. (It is and it does). Alcohol is distorting a reality that my mind is already challenging as being real. That’s all good right?
No, I have ulterior motives.
I am continuing to take my medication and to stop drinking alcohol for a very disturbing reason. These are all efforts to continue to sustain an obvious mania that has been going on for – since at least late March, but it was a component of a mixed episode at that point. It didn’t become clear mania until late May.
I am also doing these things to keep my weight down. Did you know that Wellbutrin has been known to exacerbate symptoms of eating disorders?
Wait, Lulu. You don’t have an eating disorder.
It’s probably pretty clear to those that have ED. The restrictive diet, the compulsive exercise, talk of negative body image. It’s never been something I wanted to admit. First, I didn’t think that it was a problem. It’s not, not physically anyway. Second, even if it was a problem, I didn’t want anyone to catch on to the behavior. First, because I so fear obesity. I didn’t want anyone to stop me. And second, because I didn’t want anyone to look down on me anymore than they already do. It’s bad enough that I hate me most of the time. (Unless, I’m manic when I love me).
I binge sometimes when I’m sad. I purge it when I’m disgusted. I purge when I’m nervous. I purge when I feel self-destructive. I purge when the scale is giving me an unacceptable number. I restrict when I’m very sad and self-loathing. I run to run away from all of this, to run away from myself. I run to see that number plunge. I restrict to spite myself. I restrict to self-destruct.
I have an eating disorder(s).
Finally, I am still in the grips of self-injury.
I am not proud. I am not showing off. I am not crying out for help, because at this point, I don’t even think I really want help. I am being honest, because my dishonesty was killing me. I’m supposed to be discussing mental health topics. And here we are. The very start of everything. Honesty in the face of the monster.
Day 12 : Something you never get compliments on.
One of my more recent posts eluded to a crisis in my life. I haven’t revealed it yet, because in all truth, I am rather ashamed of some of the realities of my life. In personal writing lately, a rambling piece entitled “Write it Out, Right it Out“, I went on say:
I’ve always been caught in my own world of the mindf***, you know? And when I’m drunk, I am more susceptible to mindf***ery. I don’t like it. I start to lose grasp on my reality, and sometimes it disappears completely – my grasp, that is.
I have made references to my alcoholism in the past, but never with much detail or emphasis. I neglected to mention that alcoholism is a real part of my present, mainly because I didn’t consider recreational drinking to fall under that category. I was sorely mistaken. I wrote to a friend:
Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking substance abuse seriously, like it wasn’t a fact in my life. I’m going to guess that mania had a little to do with it. Like I was above it all because I had gotten away with it.
And another in the same piece, “Write it Out, Right it Out”:
I don’t think I actually believed myself when I have described the seriousness of my alcoholism in my past. Or maybe I thought that it was somehow different, because this is a different situation. Or maybe I thought I was just too young and immature to handle myself.
The fact of the matter is this. I have been suffering from terrible alcoholism from the age of 19. At the age of 17, I took up drinking as a recreational activity. When life events sent me into a tailspin, I spent the last six months of my 18th year in a state of perpetual intoxication. By the time I was 19, alcohol was a regular fixture in my life, and was a part of every recreational activity. Finally, it progressed the point of functional alcoholism by the time I was 21. I described it to a friend as:
Except, I know that there was two years that I spent drunk every single night. I made excuses, like friends and parties, but I would drink by myself. I remember there were nights I’d drink until 4am, and have my boss call me at 6:30am to ask where the hell I was.
During the two years, I had a solid schedule. Wake up at 2pm, leave for work at 2:30pm, work three to nine, drink and eat nine thirty to four or six in the morning, and do it again. I had even devised strategies to avoid vicious hangovers and physical withdrawal. Occasionally, I would venture out with a bottle in my purse, just in case there wasn’t any alcohol where I was going.
Since my son was born, there have only been a handful of what I consider to be benders, which were periods of time where I would invent a reason to have friends over for drinks. I never intended on getting wasted, and I usually didn’t. But, there were occasions. Some relatively benign, ending with me waking up with a vicious hangover and swearing off alcohol entirely for awhile. Others, they ended disastrously with an altercation, and I would find myself resolving the situation by dumping all of the booze down the drain, with a certain satisfaction at my self-restraint and determination.
Here’s the truth. I never get complimented on my resolve. Because, everyone knows that I will always go back to the same old, same old. No matter how much I appear to change.
I am not always forthcoming about my weaknesses, especially the ones that spark shame. I am embarrassed by my lack of self-control, especially in matters that are extremely frowned upon. There are a lot of bad character traits that I can identify, and openly and honestly admit to. However, lack of self-control is not one of them. I’ve never considered myself as impulsive, and people often view it as immature and juvenile. I have always considered myself to be mature and responsible, with certain exceptions, like during college, because impulsive actions and lack of restraint were commonplace, and socially accepted.
Many can argue that impulsivity is not necessarily a character trait of mine, rather, a feature of Bipolar Disorder. Maybe that is true, because there really was a brief period in my childhood that I recall being very responsible, consistent, and mindful. And yet, there are still incidents that I recall as being not well thought out before execution. A condition of childhood? Maybe. Facet of personality or symptom of psychological disorder, it stands as probably the weakest trait I have.
I began the original discussion of my theory of multiple consciousness in a response to An Open Letter of Apology. To summarize, the theory of multiple consciousness stems from the existence of a conscious, thinking brain, a subconscious brain working in the background, and a third “extraconsciousness” that works somewhere in between.
This is not to be confused with the idea of paraconsciousness, or a consciousness that can be external to the person. It’s not dissociative in the way the way that a person becomes detached from themselves, as in depersonalization. Rather, this is a theory of the co-existant “personas” that perform different functions within the operations of conscious, subconscious, and extraconscious.
First, we’ll start with defining the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the third mind, which I refer to as the extraconscious mind. The conscious mind is the thinking brain, the one that interfaces with the world in a real-time way, and processes immediate information. This is the mind that takes in sensory information, begins the process of storing memories, uses cognition, and is the immediate persona, meaning set of behaviors and emotional responses based on external stimuli.
The subconscious mind is a mind that we aren’t immediately aware of. The information that is taken in by the conscious mind is usually stored temporarily in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind then works at making sense of all of this information, and stores it where it belongs. In other instances, the information needs to be worked out for a solution, and instead of being stored, it is continually being worked on. These are operations that we aren’t aware of, until solutions and thoughts come out of nowhere. That is when our subconscious mind has paired with other operations of the brain (cognition, memory) and then passed it over to the thinking brain, even while the brain isn’t active in that function.
The third operation is a new concept. For me, anyway. It is the extraconscious mind, meaning the mind outside of the defined states of consciousness. This mind exists somewhere between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Sometimes, it operates as a bridge between the subconscious and the conscious minds, relaying information between the two. For instance, a person can feel vaguely aware of something, but not be fully aware. That information is retained in the extraconscious mind. Other times, it acts as a storage unit for the conscious mind and subconscious mind alike, until the information can be processed and passed back over. And in some cases, the extraconscious mind acts as a place where semi-dormant things exist, that would ordinarily exist in the subconscious mind.
Why the third consciousness? Why does a extraconscious mind exist? I’m not saying that it exists in all individuals, though it probably does to some degree whether it is recognized or not. The extraconsciousness exists for a number of reasons. First, to bridge the gap between the conscious mind the the subconscious mind. Second, in instances where there is repression of memories, thoughts, emotions, etc, the conscious mind is unable or unwilling to process that information and make sense of it. The subconscious mind cannot store it indefinitely, because the conscious mind is already aware that it exists. So, it becomes a part of the extraconscious mind. And lastly, the extraconscious mind exists to house semi-dormant constructs and concepts.
Now, this ties directly into my still developing theory of multiple personas as a part of splitting and dissociation. It is similar to Depersonalization Disorder, in that a person feels as if they are watching themselves from a place outside of the conscious mind. However, the feeling is not completely external from the body and mind. It is a vague awareness that the primary persona is not currently active or in control.
It is also similar to Dissociative Identity Disorder, which is that there are multiple “personalities”. However, in DID, full blown personalities are completely separate from one another and aren’t aware of the other. It produces states of complete amnesia. The theory of multiple personas residing in the extraconsciousness is slightly different.
First, the personas are not full-blown personalities. They are variations on the primary persona based on their function, which defines the predominant characteristics of the persona. A person may be, at least, vaguely aware of the existence of these personas, as they make themselves known through the extraconscious to the conscious mind.. They may even be aware when a different persona switches into the conscious mind, where the primary persona is forced back into the extraconscious mind, as a helpless bystander during the event. Typically, there is only a vague awareness of the events that took place during a dissociative state, where another persona resided in the conscious mind. It doesn’t produce complete amnesia, but there may be some haziness to smaller events, while larger events aren’t quite as detailed.
As the same with DID, the theory of multiple personas allows for an indefinite number of personas. Many of these personas take different stations within different consciousnesses. For instance, one or more may reside in the extraconscious mind, making the primary persona residing in the conscious mind vaguely aware of their presence. The awareness comes from subthreshold auditory hallucinations. Since the hallucinations aren’t external, then it is not considered a complete hallucination. However, the internal voices are still separate from the conscious mind, though not always active. Multiple personas often reside in the subconscious mind, almost completely inactive, save for performing functions related to processing information. This is how delusional thinking may begin, as misinterpreted information in the subconscious mind, colored by the multiple personas. However, it is uncommon that multiple personas exist in the conscious mind.
Sometimes, the extraconsciousness may be completely devoid.multiple personas. This is preferable. It means that the symptoms are largely inactive, since there is no persona to interfere with the conscious mind, and the information coming from the subconscious mind is less distorted.
However, in other times, the conscious mind may be completely devoid of personas, making a person largely catatonic. This usually means that the primary consciousness has receded into the extraconsciousness. Sometimes, this is to prevent psychic harm. Other times, it may be a struggle to see which persona prevails in the consciousness.
In the next segment, I will define the multiple consciousnesses, describe how they came to be, define their functions, and detail how they operate between the consciousnesses.
- Being Human-Consciousness (thementalshovel.com)
- What is the difference between the conscious and subconscious / unconscious mind? And why is working with the subconscious mind so effective? (neurowissenschaft.wordpress.com)
- Ego as the Self-Programmed Subconscious Mind (chiefkevinblog.com)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder & Multiple Personality Blogs, Websites & Support Groups, Forums, & Discussions (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder (allaboutcounseling.com)
- What the Belief in Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personaltiies Teaches (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
I have always felt like I had a “base mood”, which is the state I’m in. Depressive, hypomanic, stable. I noticed that there was kind of an “atmospheric mood”, which was a wispy, temporary mood state that would come through. I’ve always characterized this as weather.
This emotional weather is just about as predictable as meteorological weather. Forecasts can go out based on current information and predictable outcomes. But, things can change quickly, and suddenly, storms crop up. Unfortunately, they don’t make an emotional barometer. There are no external instruments to sound an alarm on the emotional accuweather forecast.
I considered the weather to be just regular “moods”. I know one thing that is difficult for all people who have bipolar disorder is to draw the line between typical and symptomatic. It becomes a nearly impossible task when a person is actually symptomatic. That’s why it’s considered a disorder.
Over the last three years, I’ve become pretty familiar with episodic behavior. I cannot always identify it straight away. But, eventually, I tease it out. What I encountered in January was genuine symptoms, starting with an ultradian cycle I wasn’t even aware of until I reviewed my logs.
What I started to experience toward the end of that depressive episode was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t experienced those types of symptoms in some time. It didn’t look as if it was a coincidence that my mood chart started jumping at the same time my marriage got thrown on the rocks. And now, two months later, I’ve seem to hit some semblance of a period of stability coinciding with the start of my husband’s admissions and treatment.
He broke the silence. Now, I’m breaking it too.
Criteria 1: Fear of abandonment:
My fear of abandonment isn’t typically characterized, because of the keen awareness of the consequences. My fear is very real. The frantic efforts are a little unusual. It’s not outwardly frantic, because I know that behavior actually drives people away. Instead, I take huge strides to make myself more appealing. That feeds into the destabilization of self-image.
There’s a hidden switch, though. At some point, when I’m overloaded with anxiety, I shut down. I will shut down on a person, and it will be over. It will be difficult for me to feel anything for them until they have been out of my life for awhile, or they take a big leap of faith to me.
This disrupts my ability to make friends. I keep everyone at a distance, because I know that I will drive them away. I know that I am intense and strange. And I know that most people are passing ships in my life.
Criteria 2: Unstable Relationships and intense relationships:
I’ve been in a serious relationship with two different psychopaths, one diagnosed (Avi, the abusive one), and I’m now in a marriage with a man with MI. I always swore that these men found me. I think it was a little bit of both.
But, the catch about my marriage is however intense it is, it is stable. Go outside my romantic relationships. Looking at the intense dysfunction between my parents and me tells the tale.
Those people hurt me. And yet, I still love them. I hate them for everything, but I still vacillate between pandering for their affections and shutting them out. I know that they had their hand in this. And still, I blame it exclusively on myself.
Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance:
I used to dye my hair everytime I had a serious mood shift. When my first ex and I broke up, it shattered my whole world. And I said “F*ck the world.” At that point, I let go of everything. It was at that point in time that I started partying my life away.
That wasn’t me. I was a control freak. I always wanted control of my reality. I wanted control of the direction of my life and was always goal oriented.
My ex, Avi, was the worst agitation. I let him tell me who I was, what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and how I should live my life. I let him victimize me, because he told me I was a victim.
C.S. helped me find my way back to me. The me that I liked and was used to. The me that read, wrote, played music, and enjoyed artistic expression, not mindless video games. He helped me find my way back to goal-orientation and showed me that he could love me. That was the only reason I could even be me. Because that’s what he loved.
Criteria 4: Impulsivity:
After I had experienced sexual assault for the first time, I had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. So, I started to act like a slut by having sex with any man who looked at me sideways. I wanted to convince myself that I was at least good for something.
I have alcoholism. It is mostly controlled now. That’s no secret.
Now, here’s the big secret. I likely have an eating disorder. In times of serious distress, I deny myself food. I don’t deserve to eat. I’m a fatass. No one loves a fatass.
I have pindged and purged. It’s not often. In times of depression and self-depreciating behavior, I will binge to feel good. And then I’ll purge, because I worry about my weight. But worse than that. I’ll purge, because getting rid of that overstuffed feeling feels good. There is no better feeling than an empty belly.
I would excessively spend. But, you can’t spend without money in the bank. As a teen, I used to shoplift. And I got caught and got in the worst trouble of my life with my parents. I get the impulse now and again, but the fear and embarrassment is enough to keep me from doing it.
Criteria 5: Recurrent Suicidal / Self-Injurious Behavior:
Admittedly, as a teen, I was more satisfied with cutting with a steak knife than a razor. A razor was too easy, and the cuts were always thin, sleek, and healed without incident. The serrated knife left jagged cuts that never healed right.
I used to pick at the scabs. I only recently started scraping them with a luffa.
I take scalding showers for two reasons. First, there is the whole germ part. But, secondly, sensitive skin burns easily. Scrub it with a luffa, and it flakes and peels. It hurts so nicely, I can’t think about anything else.
I don’t ever threaten. I warn. Because I know certain stressors will set it off.
I used to attempt suicide. I have probably a dozen serious attempts under my belt. I probably have about a dozen more half-assed attempts where I hoped I’d die of alcohol poisoning. Or, if I let an infection go long enough, I’d cause organ failure. (I almost did that with my kidneys that started as a UTI).
I don’t anymore. It’s pointless. I have never come close to succeeding. And I’m convinced that there is a reason for that. Besides, I’m not so cruel as to leave my husband and son like that. Not now. My son is old enough to remember me. My husband might actually go down with me, although he’s never indicated as much.
Criteria 6: Affective Instability
Rage. I’m almost always irritable. I’ve always thought that irritability and reactivity were hallmarks of bipolar disorder. I was wrong.
I have bouts of intense anxiety. Especially when I feel like I’m not in control. It is expressed in OCD-like symptoms when it goes critical. I start hoarding. Or purging items. I check constantly. I do mental checks. I fear contamination.
Dysphoric moods. It’s always been suicidal ideation in the past. It’s only recently that I’ve had homicidal ideation, and it’s enough to scare me. But, I don’t imagine harming loved ones. No, I imagine harming people who are a perceived threat to my family and me.
That emotional weather, that was affective instability. When it produces serious storms, it becomes separate from bipolar disorder completely. Layered moods.
Criteria 7: Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
Curiously, I don’t have the typical definition of this. Most of the time, I feel too full. I’m full of emotion, turmoil, life. I’m bursting at the seams.
But, if you examine the criteria a little closer, it can be characterized by never feeling good enough. I’m bad. I have never achieved anything noteworthy. No one really loves me. I feel as if I am worthless, rather than empty.
Criteria 8: Inappropriate Anger / Difficulty Controlling Anger
Sometimes, yes. I have a temper. I try to be careful at expressing this anger. It’s usually restricted to times when I am alone. I scream. I break things.
I don’t want to scare my family. I don’t want the shame and guilt I would suffer from such impulsive, inappropriate behavior. I don’t want anyone to leave me, because they fear me. I try so hard to practice restraint. I’m not always very successful.
Criteria 9: Transient, Stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions, or severe dissociation symptoms
This was the key to finally prove the potential for BPD to me. I’ve always had delusions. I’ve always had the berating voice. But, my paranoia has always turned out to be justified in the end.
When C.S. and I were very rocky, I was convinced that a man, who I would never otherwise suspect, was cheating on me. The voice separated into a an auditory hallucination, free of any rational mind, feeding me horrible things. I had my first real break from reality.
But, it was in fits that never lasted longer than a few hours to maybe a few days. And it could be broken by immediate distraction.
I’m nowhere near as volatile as I used to be. Medication has tamed my symptoms, and nearly domesticated me. There are a lot of behaviors that I don’t engage in anymore.
But, I am a far cry from ridding myself of all of them. And if I keep going on this course of alienating people, disabling my supports, and self-sabatoging, I’m going to end up in a very bad place.
So, I made an impulsive move yesterday morning. Finally, a good one. I called and made an appointment to start meeting with a qualified professional with an objective eye. I could’ve gotten in today, but my hours are restricted right now due to work.
So, next Thursday. In one week, I will take my first baby steps back into the world of therapy. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully, I have a number of therapists to choose from. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it a try.
I want to keep trying and not get discouraged. But, I’m so picky about my professionals. I know there has to be some hope for recovery.
I had never considered Borderline Personality Disorder.
The term “Personality Disorder” carries so many negative connotations. It assumes that it’s a defect of someone’s personality. That in itself assumes that a person can just snap out of it, or just change it.
BPD gets such a bad rap in the media. I thought of “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female”. “That’s not me,” I insisted. I even reviewed the DSM-IV criteria, and still could only see a portion of it.
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars or picking at oneself (excoriation) .
- Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
First, my fear of abandonment and the way I react to it is complicated. True, if I sense that there is something off with my partner, I do come to a conclusion that I am responsible and this person will eventually leave me. But, I didn’t feel as if that was unreasonable.
Yes, I do have a history of intense, explosive relationships. Now, the intensity of my relationship is usually shared up until a certain point. I have never had this problem in my marriage where I was “too intense”. In fact, it is preferred that I am so invested in my marriage and co-dependent. Not “dependent”. Co-dependent. We depend on each other very heavily. It works just fine, and I was pretty sure that a good marriage was a marriage that worked for both people.
I never considered an identity disturbance. Not frequently anyway. I have always been mostly the same person who liked the same things. Everyone goes through periods of change and self-renewal, right?
I’m not very impulsive. I am too anxious for impulsive behavior, because I fear the consequences. Impulsive behavior doesn’t allow for fear. I have too much fear. I don’t sleep around; I’m a devoted wife. I’m very careful with money, because I never have had or have any. I have had a history of alcohol abuse though. . .
Yes, I self-harm. But, self-harm happens in affective disorders.
Of course I have affective instability. I have bipolar disorder. But, the mood doesn’t usually last only a few hours to days, unless I’m ultradian cycling. That’s rare.
I don’t feel empty. As a matter of fact, sometimes I feel too full.
I do have a temper. But, I’m usually very good at controlling it. When I go off, I’ve just gone beyond my limit. Everyone does that.
I have always been paranoid and delusional. But, I’ve spoken with doctors about this problem in the past. They don’t seem to see it as a problem, nor do they really see it as full-blown delusions anyway. Despite that voice.
I was set on disproving it. Well, until I started reading personal accounts that struck me. Then, I read explanations of the wide variety of behaviors that fall into the diagnostic criteria. And finally, certain characteristic statements. “If people actually got to know me, they probably wouldn’t like me.”
I have a private blog entitled, “If You Only Really Knew Me”. I don’t update often. But, sometimes I do. Times where I am too much of a coward to stand up and confess on Pendulum. Those words that bang at the inside of my skull, but I’d never dare reveal.
I had absolutely no idea that BPD was so diverse. The stigma would have everyone believe the “I hate you, don’t leave me” thing. But, there’s so many different ways it can operate. I started to see the pattern emerge in early adolescence, as is described. I saw how it dominated my previous relationship and sustained the mutual abuse. And I could see it in me.
I have always thought of myself as a pretty open book. I don’t flat out lie. If I am asked a question, I will always try to answer it honestly and to the best of my ability. Any misinformation is either from a miscommunication or an accidental omission.
I have been having symptoms far enough outside of the scope of BP II that it made me start challenging my diagnosis.
A diagnosis is a label. A label is just a label, and it shouldn’t make much of a difference, right? The point is that I’m gulping down pills of every color that should apply to every disorder under the sun.
At first, I didn’t want to question it, and I prayed that the extreme symptoms would subside. I had hoped they were circumstantial and as soon as the situation was resolved, the symptoms would resolve. Somehow, I forgot a key element of disorder. It doesn’t resolve when a situation resolves. That’s why it’s termed “disorder” instead of “moodiness”.
C.S’s appointment came and went without change. No relief came for either of us. In fact, we were both more distraught than ever with the news that we would be waiting another five weeks until there was a definitive diagnosis. And even then, that’s just the start a treatment. It could be years before things start to turn around.
In the meantime, I’ve found myself in agony, like a person huddled in a cold cave, waiting out the storm. I have always been in the habit of putting others first, because they rely on me in times of need. I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under me when I’m in the most desperate of need. I’d never leave a person near and dear to me to fend for themselves. Especially when they have explicitly asked for my help.
Things get better. Things get worse. It is rollercoaster of daily twists and turns, ups and downs. And I couldn’t understand why my mood and behavior were so unstable. The medication works when I’m not particularly sensitive to external stressors. The inner turmoil doesn’t exist without it. But once a person has stirred the pot, it puts things in motion.
I started my excavation. I started reading old journals, some as far back as twelve years ago. Certain recurring symptoms emerged, and these were exactly the ones plaguing me now. The ones I find exist somewhere outside of BP II.
I examined my mood chart that I began in the tail end of my most recent depressive episode. Consistently low scores. And then, suddenly, the points were very high one day, and very low the next. I am careful to chart at the same time each day, so that the scores can be considered consistent.
When I noticed the trend as it was happening, I termed it “dysphoric hypomania”. The lows weren’t sadness, it was rage and anxiety. That was, until it went beyond the definition of “hypomania”.
Energetic despair. That’s the only way I can describe it in retrospect. I started running to burn off some energy, anxiety, and emotion. I clung so hard to anger, because I couldn’t cry. And when I did cry, it was in unpredictable bouts. I would start, and everything would come flooding out.
Then, there were the fits of rage. I would find myself beyond irritable – extremely agitated is closer to the term. I became more obsessive than usual. Things had to be a certain way. My anxiety was so far through the roof that I found myself trembling at times. Chunks of memory started to fall away, and I began frequently misplacing important items. It was a recipe for recurring explosions and tantrums.
Then, I began terming what I was seeing as a “mixed episode”. Impossible for BP II, right? So, BP I? It shouldn’t matter.
The question plagued me again. Why has my medicine afforded me shorter episodes and longer stability if I’m “getting worse”? Why all of a sudden?
It didn’t add up. Obsessions and compulsions, as they were happening, were not within the criteria for anything on the BP spectrum. I started having full-blown psychotic episodes in short bursts. But, I still didn’t quite meet the criteria for a full blown “manic” episode, required in a mixed state.
As things became rockier between C.S. and I, old, very painful memories started emerging. I’d feel the pang of the emotional reaction to a situation that was “familiar”, and then I’d have the flashback. But, the flash wasn’t always strong enough for me to pin it down completely. For a millisecond, I was in that moment in my past. Not always long enough to identify it.
But, they were plaguing me at times unprovoked. Times that I allowed my mind to wander. Awful feelings would come out of acts that hardly pinged me in the past. But then again, I had been drunk and numb.
That’s not BP anything. Not even close.
I had been wanting so desperately to solve this on my own. There are so many things I can’t imagine speaking out loud to anyone. Even harboring the flicker of the memory and the attached emotion is hard enough.
I took some inventories online. I started to put labels on things.
OCD – for the obsessions, the thoughts that kept recurring, the compulsive need to check, wash, count, have certain items on my person, etc.
PTSD – for all of the flickers and flashes of things in that dark closet. For all of the things rattling the inside of the Pandora’s box that has been dormant for so long. For all of the hurt, neglect, and abuse I had never spoken a word to any professional about.
BP I – to cover the “mixed” behavior and paranoid delusions, and auditory hallucinations.
Then, there was a label for the jar that shocked me.
Borderline Personality Disorder???? What?
I didn’t realize that I had been tagged multiple times. I should have! As I was saying to Angel, events that occurred during my depressive fog kind of jumble together. So, I’m still catching up.
So, I’ve arrived at Angel’s Questions. Here’s the deal. I’m not going to tag, because I’m sure everyone has been tagged by now. If not, feel free to pick up the questions I leave at the bottom.
1) What is your favorite mini-series?
2) What song is currently stuck in your head?
Now that you mentioned it, one came to mind, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. It is also the “House” TV series theme song.
If you’re a girl, who would you pick as your girl-crush? Or if you’re a guy, who would you pick as your guy-crush? You have to choose at least one. Although I guess this question has a heteronormative bias. Whoops. Well, if you identify as homosexual, choose someone of the opposite sex as your answer. Okay, I’m amending this question to try to make it as bias-free as possible. Who’s one guy and one girl you have a crush on? You must choose one of each.
Literally, and this is going to sound hilarious. I have a crush on my husband. I’m not kidding. Any and all males who bear a striking resemblance to my husband can be included. That’s Robert Pattinson, (Edward Cullen from “Twilight”), and Tom Welling (Clark Kent from “Smallville”).
Women? Kate Winslet! She is gorgeous, no matter what color her hair. She had the perfect figure. She’s not rail thin, and she’s curvy. She is a real woman.
4) If you got to choose any occupation you wanted and money wasn’t an issue, what would you choose and why?
Cheating. My ideal occupations are teacher and writer. Both of which I am doing, and both of which I am not making a whole lot of money at.
I love being an educator. I really do. It is fulfilling and thrilling. It’s different each day. I get to watch about 90 kids grow up each year. And to think that I’m a part of their lives, even for that short time. Some will be able to look back to that and think, “That’s Ms. Em. She taught me music when I was a kid.” I remember some of my favorite teachers, the ones who really touched my life. And that’s what I try to do every day, is make a difference in a child’s life.
As a writer, I want to make a difference in the mental health community by lending my voice, support, and ideas. I want this to become a serious public issue one day, not something that everyone just puts on the backburner, because they don’t want to talk about it. Mental health is important. Mental health disorders are real, and they have a real effect in people’s lives. Untreated, there are serious consequences. I want the world to see it, and know it.
5) When you’re using numbers to make a list, do you put periods, parentheses, or something else (if so, what), after the numbers? Why do you think you have this preference?
When I’m using numbers to make a list, there is the number, a period, and then a parentheses. It would look like this 1.) I have this preference because it looks neater and is easier on my eyes when I’m skimming the list.
6) What sorts of books do you like to read, and why?
I have favorite genres. Personally, I love psychology books. Psychology is my thing. It could have been my career, but I decided education is where my heart was. There’s a scientific way to figure out how anything works. We can take all kinds of things apart and figure it out. Even the human body. But, we still haven’t figured out the brain.
That’s because the mechanisms that make the brain work aren’t physically apparent. It’s a mysterious thing. I want to know how people think. I want to know why they are the way they are. I want to be able to draw similarities and differences between them. It’s just fascinating. People are complex and fascinating creatures.
7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?
I’ve never thought about it. I’ve never actually driven that kind of distance alone. I guess I would have to start playing license plate games, or something.
8) Do you believe in anything supernatural? If so, what?
Of course I believe in the supernatural! I believe in ghosts, aliens, astrology, spirits, “God” (if you will), and all kinds of things. Especially aliens and astrology. Astrology is something that ties in closely with psychology when you look at it hard enough.
Anyone who is interested, I do natal astrology. Mainly through the use of natal charts. Go ahead, check out your chart and see how close to being correct it is.
9) Why do you visit my blog? (How’s that for a nosy self-promoting question? No, you don’t need to answer this second question. It’s rhetorical.)
I’ll answer it, because I don’t think it’s important information. I visit your blog for a number of reasons. At first, it was interesting to see how events unfold in your life. It was kind of like piecing together a character in a story. What has happened? What will happen? Things of that nature.
But, with every story, I find myself getting involved. Except, with a character in a book, there is no way of two was communication. However, here, you’re not a character. You are a person. And I have become involved with you as a person.
I want to know about your life. I want to know how you are feeling and what you are doing. I want to hear your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts, musings, whatever you have to give. There is a certain investment there. It’s interesting, and it’s a two way street.
10) If you have a smartphone, which 5 apps do you use the most? If you don’t have a smartphone, why not?
Pandora, WordPress, Twitter, Weather Channel, and my email client. Does that count as an app? If not, then I’d name Tumblr as my fifth.
11) What is the most important principle for you to live your life by, and why?
Altruism. Pay it forward. I want to be as selfless as I can possibly be without passing myself over completely. I have needs and wants. I cannot forget that. However, I know that I want to balance that with my desire to provide support roles to others.
In my entire life, I’ve always played a support role. In school, I played in the orchestra pit during musicals. No one ever saw my face. I sang alto and tenor, harmony parts that enrich the melody. Most of the time, when I sang tenor parts, no one in the crowd realized that it was me, a woman, who carried that part.
Today, I’m the woman behind a brilliant man. I’m the teacher that is building students up to be incredible people in their lives. I’m the music director in productions. No one ever sees my face. That’s fine. I was the one who designed and hand stapled all of those programs, without any billing in the liner notes.
I am the mother behind an incredible boy. My son is truly something else. I know all mothers say that, but he’s so curious. He has limited communication skills. But, he’s three. He can do math. He knows the Fibonacci sequence (to a certain point), without ever having been taught. He knows his alphabet, and can sight read. I didn’t teach him to sight read, but he just started doing it one day. All of these things, besides counting the alphabet, were things I thought he was too young or impaired to do. I guess I was wrong.
And I know that with some help, and a lot of love, encouragement, and work on both of our parts, he is going to be a brilliant man, maybe more so than his father one day.
All of that. What about what I want? I want a lot of things, believe me. But, I’m willing to sacrifice all of the things that I want to see others succeed.
- What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of your gender are?
- You’re kicked out of the country you currently reside in. Where do you go?
- What do you do with your change?
- What is your favorite beverage and why?
- What would be your ideal vacation spot? Why?
- Do you have pictures around your house? Of what?
- Do you think that if I were to walk into your house right now that I would have any idea about who lived there? Why, or why not?
- Doomsday Scenario: A solar storm knocks power grids out worldwide. There is no way to know when power will be restored, or if it will. What is the first thing you do, and why?
- What do you think is the meaning of life?
- Another Doomsday Scenario: A few servers malfunctioned and the internet is going to be down indefinitely. What do you see yourself doing to entertain yourself?
- Are you superstitious? What are some of your superstitions?
- I need a tag break after this (carlarenee45.wordpress.com)
- 12.5–The Pillars of the Earth (thetemplarknight.com)
- Tag, Apparently Im It (gypsy116.wordpress.com)
- TAG!!! You are it Yo!! (bipolarmuse.com)
- Tag, I’m It! – Pittsburgh Edition (asthependulumswings.wordpress.com)
- How Do People Use Their Smartphones (mycricket.com)
How do you describe bipolar disorder to others who do not have it?
Most of the population experiencing bipolar disorder have heralded it as something “people can’t fully understand unless they have been through it.” Being a member of that group, I can wholeheartedly agree. In my personal attempts to convey the complexity of bipolar disorder to a non-Dx person, I have found myself at a loss for words that would do it justice. Describing emotions is putting the intangible into context.
Even when I am successful at touching upon the idea, I am largely incapable of even scratching the surface. The intensity, duration, debilitation, and so many other aspects seem to get lost in translation. Non-Dx people are mystified. “I feel those things, too.” Every human being has emotions akin to those that are experienced within the spectrum of bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people cannot wrap their heads around the magnitude of what creates the dysfunction. “I can control them. Why can’t you?”
Frustration ensues. Such miscommunication is an extreme aggravation. Tempers may flare. “It’s not the same thing!” It’s the same animal of a different color. In essence, similarities can be drawn, but a fault line exists between the two.
I am empathetic to the plight of a person who suffers with bipolar disorder. I have experienced the rage that boils when I feel as if I a being dismissed or preemptively judged against an unjust standard. The words above send me into elevations, like a volcano spitting lava high into the sky. At this precise moment, communications break down entirely. All hope is lost. If the villagers don’t evacuate now, total destruction is eminent.
On the other hand, using descriptive language devoid of passion fails to drive the point home. To a non-Dx person, it is any regular conversation. Words are words. It does not have the demonstrative power of action. However, action is often misinterpreted more so than words. Too many questions arise. Why? Now, we’re right back where we started.
And extreme action is likely to be met with animosity or apathy. It is ironic that when a person has a severe bipolar episode, others often fall short of providing the appropriate responses. I’ve often encountered loved ones who laid certain claims; “I am not going to tolerate this behavior.” – “Get a grip.” – “I refuse to talk to you when you’re like this.” – “Get over it.” – “Are we going to go through this, again?” Resentment. That is what perpetuates throughout repeated episodes.
The schism between people with bipolar disorder an non-Dx people grows in breadth and depth. Communication is endangered, if not completely extinct. Isolation begins, and episodes worsen. Without a support system, a non-Dx person is likely to crumble. A support system that is non-existent in the life of a person with bipolar disorder is the quickest route to utter annihilation of oneself.
I have been there. Then, I managed to navigate my way back again.
Back to the original question. How do you describe bipolar disorder to a person that doesn’t have it?
In my experience, I have worked it out. Non-Dx people do have strong emotions. These are in response to serious situations. To them, they are overwhelming; to me, it would knock me flat.
I allow the non-Dx person to draw the comparison between emotions. It is a good jumping point, although it is likely meant as a retort coming from their end. “This is not an argument. This is a discussion,” I remind myself repeatedly when tempers start to flare. I continue with the following points:
My brain chemistry is unique in the way that I become particularly reactive. That is one of many facets of bipolar disorder. Extreme sensitivity to situations that provoke strong emotion.
This may be met with a usual, “Grow a thicker skin.” or “Let it slide.”
Recall a situation where you felt strongly about something. Like, when someone very close to you died. Or, you lost your job. Or, you found out that the love of your life cheated on you.
Weren’t you very distraught? Even extremely sad?
Imagine having those feelings arise without cause. Then, consider what it would be like to live months like that.
That is how I relate depression. Extreme feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and despair for long periods of time.
For hypomania, I continue like this:
Now, remember a time where you felt the best you ever did. You got a promotion or bought your first car or house. Maybe the day your spouse said yes to your proposal or the day you got married.
Yeah, those were some great times.
Now, think of what it would be like to feel that way for a long time.
That sounds awesome!
Sure, but think of a time where you were the most angry you could ever be. Someone you love lied to you or stole from you. A co-worker betrayed you and threw you under the bus. Your boss unjustly blamed you. Think of a time where you just wanted to scream and break things.
That’s the other side of the feeling good. It is being really irritable or angry constantly for a long time.
Oh, that’s not good.
No. But that’s not all. What would it be like to never really know for sure how you’re going to feel? Pretty scary, maybe? And worse, you may never know how long you’re going to feel that way.
That’s part of living life with bipolar disorder. Did you ever have a time that you did or said something you regret because you lost control for a minute?
That’s what an episode is like. Struggling for control, every single day, because you can’t help the way you feel.
It puts the person in your shoes for a second. It helps them cultivate an understanding of the intensity and duration of human emotion that creates the dysfunction. This dysfunction has a name. It’s called bipolar disorder.
Now, I want to know. How have you gone about relating your disorder to others? It doesn’t have to limited to bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people and people of different Dx’s all have trouble relating to disorders. How do you explain what you experience?
Day 2: Something you love about yourself.
Following up on the subject of self-love, I embody some admirable qualities.
The Open Mind Policy
“I’ll try anything once.”
Truthfully, that was once my motto. Except, I found myself in too great of a number of undesirable situations that I would have preferred to not experience. We live – we learn.
This is the basis of my Open Mind Policy. It is truth when it is generalized that all humans have certain biases. That is part of the human condition, and not exactly shameful. It functioned as a survival mechanism in primal humans. Hence, we are fearful of unfamiliarity. Unfortunately, this fear typically turns to hate, and that is one emotion I tend to keep at bay.
Throughout my last year at my job, I have noticed different attitudes in the African American community. Much of their community is now highly diverse. These divisions are no longer even regarded as anything. They’ve helped me understand a world and a culture beyond my own. And they’ve really opened my mind.
Through my eyes, people are people. Divisions of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, political orientation, socioeconomic status, mental and physical health, age, and lifestyle do not matter to me. Those differences have no bearing on how I view a person.
A person is who they are, not how they are labelled. Humans have a particular penchant for categorizing everything within their world. While this organization is important for cognitive function and development, it does not function as segregation of people. It is not meant to emphasize differences among peoples, their behaviors, and their cultures.
In recent years, I have noticed that racial tolerance has become the norm. Tolerance is not acceptance, and is by no means synonymous. Acceptance is when those divisions dissolve into an unrecognizable remnants of past prejudices. I have learned that by working in a community of people unlike any I have ever been exposed to. I see children and adults alike regarding people as just another person, another friend. Despite color, culture, heritage, quirkiness, and what-have-you, we act as if we are in a family system.
I am proud to say that I have rid myself of religious biases. I am personally weary of claiming my own religious affiliation, though very interested in the religions of the world. However foreign, and however devout, I am accepting of others who may not share the same sentiments on spirituality. I realize that everyone has their own interpretation. At this point, I refuse to make a statement at this point in time concerning my own spiritual beliefs. There is no better way to lose friends and alienate people. So, I mostly avoid the subject anyhow.
The same goes politics. In past years, I groaned when a person started in on the opposing side of a subject I felt passionately about. This created a serious schism in interpersonal relations. Many friends were lost in the heat of debate.
I’ve learned that it’s not worth it. I may disagree with where another person stands, but I refuse to judge their character by it. Different lifestyles and socioeconomic standings create different opinions. I promote unity and balance, without digging my heels in too much. I’ve never walked a mile in many people’s shoes. I cannot know their journey and where they are coming from.
As for my own journey, I am not one to set my own choices up as the standard in which everyone strives. My own lifestyle choice is likely not fitting for everyone else. There is no such thing as “one size fits all”. People are more content when they don’t feel societal pressure to live a certain way.
Therefore, I am not exclusively friends with the population that is married with children. Marriage and children are not a lifestyle choice for everyone. As a matter of fact, I applaud those that resist the societal pressure, when they know that is not what they want for themselves. Many recognize that they have a preference for living solo. Some have a different sexual orientation, and that’s fine with me. I’m not homosexual (I can’t say I didn’t try in college). But attraction and love are beyond anyone’s control. It’s not up to me to decide. It’s up to the individual.
Individuals have different biology, right down to the molecular level. We are unique, atom by atom. We look uniquely, function uniquely, think uniquely, and behave uniquely. I have a special place in my heart for those that suffer debilitating physical and mental debilitating disease and disorder. I find a certain kinship within the group of people with unique mental health concerns.
This is a preference, and I’m now careful to not reverse a discrimination against those who do not carry a diagnosis, or norms, Non-Dx, as I may refer to them. I sometimes use norm(s) as a derogatory term to refer to people who are especially ignorant to the topic of mental health. Although I am still outraged, I have come to understand that these people are victims. They are victims of widespread ignorance and fear. I cannot wage war when my ultimate goal is to bring education to the general population.
I am also guilty of occasional gender discrimination or man-bashing, as it’s typical referred to in the female community. In all honesty, I do not mean it. I am not a feminist man-hater pushing the female agenda. In fact, quite the opposite. However, I am aware that it perpetuates a stereotype that others could buy into.
The point is, one bad apple does not ruin the whole bunch. The gender war has been present since the beginning of time. Only now, in the 20th and 21st centuries are we progressing toward equality for both genders. That does not mean that stereotypes and biases are erased from existence, much like that in race.
Everyone has heard about the “crazy bitch” or the “pigheaded jerk”. Women are moody largely in part of a constant cycle of ever changing body chemistry. Men think sexually because testosterone is essentially the hormone responsible for sexual impulses. (It’s also responsible for aggression). That’s fact. Again, because of the extreme individuality that humans have through by nature and nurture, this can be more or less prevalent. Accept the fact that it’s possible. Learn to live together.
And most of all, socioeconomic status. I share in the plight of the working poor. Although I am an avid Occupy supporter, it’s less about the 1% and more about the abuse of power through corruption. That is about justice.
I’m not saying I don’t judge at all. I am human after all. We all judge. However, I will only judge a person when they have proven to commit heinous acts.
I greatly detest people with hate and malice in their heart. With those two emotions, people have waged unnecessary wars (what war is necessary?), committed vile acts such as genocide, and perpetuated more hate and malice through organizations such as the KKK. If these people would stop for one moment, think of The Golden Rule, and open their minds to the possibilities, the world would be a much better place.