Day 11 : Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
(Note: I started writing this two months ago)
This prompt could not have come at a better possible time.
In my real life, there isn’t much I get complimented on. In fact, I just asked my husband his thoughts on this prompt. His response? A poor joke, followed by a, “I don’t know.” CoF, seriously, I think C.S. needs some husband boot camp.
All of the little girls at work love my hair. An elder creeper, insisting to talk to me despite me clearly wearing earphone and typing on WordPress for Blackberry, told me that I had pretty eyes. I was pretty glad the bus pulled up to the curb moments later.
Otherwise, I get quite the opposite of compliments. It’s okay, I’m used to it.
Here on WordPress, and especially everyone involved with the dialogue happening here on Pendulum, and on our local mental health blog A Canvas of the Minds, compliments are plentiful. I will spare details, mostly because I am embarrassed to talk about myself. And secondly, because I’m not sure I can completely believe it. I sit here and think, “If you only knew me.”
I find that I am most complimented on my writing. Believe me, I am ambivalent to share that for a number of reasons. First, I know that once a person reveals what appears to be a strength, it is preyed upon. In my youth, I was eager to display my intelligence and talents. There was always at least one person who was eager to take me down, either out of jealousy or just to prove a point of fallibility. Next, I am often unsure of how much truth there is in identifying a strength or talent. There is always some doubt and question of the validity of such a claim. What is the measure? Is it a popular opinion?
And finally, there is the self-doubt / humility aspect. I do not make any claim that I am better than anyone else. I am by no means a brilliant writer, and clearly not in the league of literary greats. Hardly by the standard of journalist and even fellow blog authors. I am not making an attempt to solicit compliments by saying these things. I am only stating that I have serious doubts as to the claims made of any talent I possess. However, I will not refute any opinion, favorable or unfavorable.
However, if there is one literary strength I have, I do know of it. I have always possessed an uncanny ability to find a verbal expression for emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Most often, I have had people approach me and say, “You grabbed it right out of my head, as if you lived in there with me.” Some ask, “How do you find the words?” To which I reply, “I really don’t know. It just comes out.”
The answer is absolutely honest when I provide it. I am unable to identify the mechanisms that produce the detailed emotions and internal experience. Imagination? Experience with the experience / emotion / thought itself? Education? Really, it is just something that was always there. But, I will admit that it is a craft that I’ve unconsciously refined throughout the years, just by practicing what has been just a hobby throughout my life.
I’ve mentioned this before. My poor eyesight has always been kind of a handicap for me. Back in my youth, my family could not afford to provide me with glasses more than once a year, or once every other year. Often times, I would have to wear an outdated prescription for an extended period of time, as my eyesight deteriorated. Sometimes, I would break a pair by accident, and I wouldn’t be able to get a new pair for upwards of a year. I learned to see and identify things by shape and color, rather than fine detail. I could identify people by voice alone. And one of the only hobbies I could really do without any difficulty was reading and writing, because I could only see about as far as my hand could go in front of my face. (Note: My vision has deteriorated so badly now that I can’t even see my hand as far as my face. In fact, I can’t even see a book at a normal distance. But, I have the means to correct my vision on my own now.)
I suppose I could consider it a talent, although I’m not sure how I stack up. I guess I should worry less about a basis for comparison and just do what I do, the best way I know how.
Finally, I’d like to thank the readers for their encouragement to write. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of necessity for my mental health. There are other times, like these projects, where it is a matter of a pleasurable hobby. And other times, most of the time, it is a way for me to get my message out and have a sense of purpose when it comes to my own mental health. I do not want to feel as if my suffering is in vain. I do not want anyone to ever have the feeling that they are alone in their own struggle with mental health. That is the worst feeling in the world, the loneliness, isolation, and fear that accompanies it.
Thanks for giving me a place to do this, encouragement to keep on, and an audience to hear me.
- Blog for Mental Health 2012 Official Blogroll Summons (asthependulumswings.wordpress.com)
- Language and Mental Health (lifeofaschizophrenic.wordpress.com)
- writing habits (shortlittlebits.com)
- 11 Tips & Tricks for Mindful Writers. (elephantjournal.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.
Staring out the bus window into the grey oblivion, the words slid right down the slate of my mind, and were carried away by the light breeze. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many other times I will myself to think of him, it is as if he’s become a ghost, who haunts at the most unfortunate moments.
That’s why there are journal entries for these moments. This was the first in the trinity, the one prior to Possibility and Ascension. It was started and completed in the same week, nearly a year after the relationship ended.
The last days of that relationship are blurry; my memories are obscured by the drugs and alcohol intoxicating my mind. The days blended together in a ritualistic, self-medicated loop, work.drink.sleep.work.drink.sleep.sleep.drink.sleep… suspended in agonizing slow motion. The silence was deafening in the deep, dark hours of night, still, cold, indifferent. We were two strangers, caged together with a thick glass section between us. I glanced across the DMZ, through ripples space and time itself, eager and desperate to eradicate the great divide. But even if I could manage to successfully navigate the minefield, a feat I had attempted in vain when feeling particularly masochistic despite the optimistic spin I put on it, I would be greeted by a stranger. Or rather an animal, for he had regressed into a rather primitive state. This animal was vicious and feral, seemingly ripped from the wild and unsuccessfully domesticated.
My realizations were like awaking from a coma. How much time had passed? Who are you? Where am I? Is this real? – each more dizzying than the coma itself. Awakening is clarity, but the clearer things became, the more confusing the reality. The chambers of my mind grew to accommodate my expanding thoughts but created a warehouse echo. I spoke, my voice reverberated off the crumbling walls and returned with a different sound altogether. Perhaps, instead it was an accurate reflection but one can never recognize oneself in a room of distortion.
So perhaps my lover had been a stranger all along, reflected through hopes and dreams to create a lovely distortion. They certainly aren’t all hideous, like mirrors that make one look tall and slender. Had that been entirely truth, how long had he been a projection of my mind’s eye onto the screen that set the stage for our drama? I looked into the rabbit hole and tumbled down, spiraling out of control. How can one count time based on a relative measure?
I searched farther, grasping for answers as if they were my life raft in the black waters of time. Our relationship started with sparks and flares… – Were they real like fourth of July fireworks? Or instead were they the result of strong hallucinogenics resulting from intense desire to feel something? More dialogue and script flowed through the undertow, sucking me into the dark abyss.
You know how when someone says ‘I love you’, you feel obligated to reciprocate?
I’ve always meant it with you.
My heart swelled with infection while it festered away every inch that loved him with each tides push and pull. It was abundantly clear that his performance was increasingly scripted, as I deviated with my improvisation. Obsessively, I went farther, feverishly searching, scanning, hoping that there would be salvage, or better even, treasure.
Heaven knows that I love you, I love you today.
Today, that day, the only day that might as well had even existed in three years. I felt it in my soul, the answers becoming closer sending off the flares and sparks I had been trying to rekindle, leading me in my personal night. Yet on closer inspection, they certainly differentiated from the ones in my memory. Instead, they appeared to be a blazing inferno on the shoreline. I clawed the beach, pulling myself in for survival, for myself, for my sanity and found the treasure I’d been seeking.
Fool’s gold. The beautiful scenery warped into something more sinister. Twisted, charred, black… a glorious fire to commemorate something that never was.
It reminded me of the last string I pulled in the tapestry of our relationship. My hair was ruby colored in the dull late autumn sun, surrounded by the grey scenery of the city. We were bound for better. He was up but I was coming down. A lovely romance played out in my head, on panes of fragile glass. We were vines twisting together up a lattice in vivid green, in a dream. He deviated, but my vision was obstructed. I felt the support let loose, my vine withered and my fruit shriveled. He vaguely explained and my vision returned to expose his transgression occurring. Struck with immobilizing poison, I watched like an invalid. And when I came to, I was convinced it was a dream.
Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors, I fell in love with the demon trickster himself. A year and a half passed since the incident and all was voluntarily revealed. The force pushed me outside myself, forced once again to watch this great tragedy unfold repeatedly. Play.stop.rewind.play.
Just say yes, you little masochist.
Addictions leave you little choice.
Help me tighten these chains. Is that my voice? My mind screamed to be released, for me to take the free ticket to ride and go. But my heart without it’s limbs could not be freed from it’s vice.
The pleasant memories melted into the form of nightmares. There was a double edged sword, turning the pleasurable jabs into horrific stabs. My monologue’s narrator was raspy and exhausted. Playful smiles turned to sinister grins just as loving chuckles morphed into maniacal laughter. The blaze pushed forward, engulfing everything in sight. It seared my flesh, leaving nothing but brittle bone.
Release me, for the love of god!!
It was morning following the apocalypse. The war had been lost and I stood amongst it’s remains. To my surprise, I was intact despite everything. A wave of sorrow welled up inside me but nothing came. I had finally been released but not by my captor. He stood beside me, my caretaker, strong and silent like an angel.
I have always been beside you. That wasn’t quite the truth, I was sure. He had misspoke and instead meant, I have always been inside you… I felt those words resonating inside my soul which echoed it in perfect clarity. This could only be made possible if they had the same dimensions… making them identical. Twin souls! It made perfect sense as the pieces seamlessly clicked together. Only could twins never truly lose one another. They were the only two that see each other through the deepest pits of hell and come out seemingly unscathed.
We were whole. From the moment we met one another, five long years ago, we were whole. And now we had the opportunity to experience it in our own realities..