We’ve Moved to the Sunny Side!

Dear Present and Future Subscribers,

We’ve moved to a new blog called “Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon”.

Click to go to Lulu’s new website!

Join me at the new site!

Pendulum will remain open for reference on Sunny.  However, some posts will be password protected, since I am going completely public very soon with my personal identity.  If you are interested in having the password, feel free to email me at:  lulu.em.stark@gmail.com

I want to thank everyone for their loyalty, support, and following over the past year.  It is just time for me to move on in a different direction, and I think Sunny can help me do that.  I do hope that you will come and follow over at Sunny for more stories, narratives, blog projects, and information.  It’s been a pleasure to write for you in the past year.  And I appreciate all of you.  Thank you again.

Remember, it’s http://sunnywithachanceofarmageddon.wordpress.com !

 

Protected: On the Inside : DBT and Talk Therapy

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Impatient Inpatient

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The Unreality

How I hate staring at this empty box.  How I hate to feel as if any creation that is spawned from my mind in these moments is an unreality.  Is it not real if we believe that it is real?  Or does a consensual reality have to exist among the majority to term it as such?

I might start using terms that I have either overheard and paired my own functional definition with, or terms that I invented myself to describe some kind of phenomenon that currently has no solid description.

I know I exist in a parareality today.  Time is not syncing up correctly.  In the slower moments, I am alone in a room with myself.  I am caged in this prison, running wildly around the barred perimeter, thrashing desperately and angrily.  Those are moments where The Voice is not my friend.

The Voice, I forgot to mention in my last post, had stated at one time in the recent past that we are no longer at odds, because the greater enemy was outside of myself.  We could no longer be internally warring for control.  Personally, I considered it to be another trick and dismissed it.  But, as if right on cue, there was The Voice, sharing subconscious insight to help me navigate my troubled waters.

Listen to me.  Work with me.  I see things that you do not.

It has dawned on me.  The Voice is naturally residing in my extraconscious, the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious.  It is the only place where parareality and personas can co-exist with the exterior reality.  Truly, the exterior reality doesn’t change much.  But, the interior reality is a different story entirely.  The Voice is the voice of my deepest fears and darkest secrets conceptualized and personified.  And, we are at odds for a reason.  The Voice announces things coming from my subconscious that I do not want to be true.

However, my states of consciousness are distorted.  My conscious mind is having perceptual dysfunctions.  These distortions pass through a short-term memory and are interpreted by The Voice and others of the same nature residing in the extraconscious.  The short-term memory releases the memory into the subconscious to be stored in the long-term bank and paired with another event or emotion.  Unfortunately, that usually generalizes the emotion paired to the events with similar events and vice versa.

When things are pulled back through the extraconscious, The Voice feeds back many judgmental opinions, hardly based in any conceivable fact.  Even when there are facts, they are subjective and distorted, creating complex delusions from the word GO.  In times past, I was usually able to rely on information coming in correctly, but hardly ever information going out.  However, the information coming in does not seem characteristic of everyday stimuli.

Hallucinations and delusions, walking just a millisecond out of sync with the reality that surrounds me.

I am unsure as to whether this is considered a hallucination.  Since I was small, I could feel an emotional climate around me.  Just as some animals can sense the weather changing, I sense an emotional climate that has shifted, even slightly.  I can anticipate emotional storms, mine and others.  But, it was always perceived as just a feeling in my solar plexus and my crown, and faint words and phrases from the detuned radio in my head.  Yes, there is a lot of noise in there, mostly static.  Today, there are words I am grabbing at.

I can physically feel it as an internal sensation, just as if it were an organ.

When I am in motion, I can jar this sensation out of my hypervigilant scope.  Or, I can choose to find a way to render myself unconscious and just sleep it off.  I like the former, because of several reasons.  Firstly, medication that is supposed to put me under is ineffective right now.  And second, I am clinging to any kind of reality that I can.  Losing any of it is worse than not being able to process it correctly.  Correctly?  No, there isn’t a right or wrong.  Ummm, I’m at a loss for words at the moment.

I need to shake this before it rocks me.

I’m Going To Give All My Secrets Away

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.


Serious trigger warning ahead.  Pictures.

This one is old. An example of how some wounds just never really heal.

The newest in the collection.

This is the result of what I described in Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

And I’ve found new ways that don’t involve scarring. I don’t recommend it. It didn’t achieve it’s purpose anyway.

I didn’t leave out the other side either.

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.

Nails – A Tribute : 30 Days of Truth

Day 13 : A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days. (write a letter.)

Trent Reznor receiving an award for truly remarkable music.

Preface: In the liner notes of Pretty Hate Machine, the first studio album by Nine Inch Nails, there is a statement that says, “Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor.” Indeed, it is. This is why I address this letter as such, though I would like to include every person that ever had a hand in his projects. They were also important in making his music happen.

Dear Trent Reznor,

Yes, I am indeed very young to be following your career. I ask you to dismiss any immediate notions of some kid fan looking to “find a voice” or “find an image to latch on to”. Fifteen years ago, that may have appeared to be the case. However, I advised any who made the accusation that it wasn’t a phase, and in my age group, it certainly wasn’t a fad. The music spoke to me, and I took a lot of shit to pride myself as a fan in my peer group. It wasn’t about a popular song, attraction, lifestyle, or any of that bullshit nonsense. It was the lyrics and the music, not the man or the movement.

I sincerely doubt that you will ever personally read this letter. It’s not a matter of dismissal, or anything of the like. I realize the intense focus, schedule, and deadlines that must accompany such incredible success. However, I’d like to assure you this isn’t one of those stalker letters, but only a fan tribute. And, of course, an exercise of prompt response to a blog project. If it wasn’t for this prompt, I may have never written this at all. That is, despite the fact that there is much in my personal life that I can attribute to the music.

Today, I am a part-time music teacher at a local inner city youth program here in Pittsburgh, PA. I am aware that you are local to the area, which is another reason the music is personal to me. You grew up in the area, therefore you were aware of the lifestyle and culture of the region and how it affects a person. But, that wasn’t the only personal connection. In the seventh grade, though music had been a lifelong passion, I became symptomatic with a mood disorder. A deep depression was ravaging through my life, taking each passion away from me. It took one man, my band instructor Warren Sullivan, to convince me otherwise.

One day, he took the class to the Piano Graveyard, a hallway behind the auditorium where old, detuned and broken pianos went to die. He wanted us to experiment with sound, though most of us had never touched a piano in our lives. I sat at a piano bench, disinterested in just about everything, including that exercise. Others plucked at sour keys, and some just pounded the pianos in the effort to make as much noise as possible. Mr. Sullivan sat down beside me, clearly as downtrodden as I was. I looked up at him and noticed this awful look of defeat and resignation.

We didn’t speak for a few moments, just poked at keys together. And this was the first time a teacher had addressed me personally, as an equal. He said, “Have you ever had anything really bad happen to you?” I nodded. He asked, “So bad that it changed your entire life?” Again, I nodded. He told me a story, a secret as to why he would be unlikely to return the following year. I liked the guy, and it was difficult to swallow.

And he said to me, “Did you know that I knew Trent?”

It took me aback. “Really?”

“Yeah, we were in a college band together,” he replied.

“So, what happened?” I eagerly inquired.

Mr. Sullivan look uncomfortable for a moment, but continued timidly, “We had creative differences.”

I noted, “I could see that.”

We were quiet again for a moment, and he admitted, “Do you know what the last thing I ever said to Trent was?”

“What?”

“Trent Reznor, you will never amount to anything!” He paused, then continued, “I guess I was mistaken. And that’s something I live with every time I hit a bad spot in my career.”

“Wow,” I breathed. It was really powerful. But, it taught me a valuable lesson. Go with what feels right and where my heart takes me. Never try to take anyone else down to get a leg up. And, it kept me in band, even with the terror of a director that took over. I withstood her for five years and five more instruments, just so I could get as much music under my belt as possible. I was inspired to move to tenor sax, which opened up the door to all woodwinds. Today, I have an alto on my wall, only because I can’t find a reasonably priced tenor sax. Imagine me, all of 4’11” with a tenor sax strapped to my neck. The thing went down to my knees! It was worth it.

Anyhow, returning to the music itself. I started off with the album “The Downward Spiral”, which could not have been more appropriate for the life changes I was going through.  To this day, I have owned four physical copies, because I would wear them out so badly, and one digital copy, all legal.  It was at that point in my life that I became symptomatic with Bipolar Disorder.  “The Downward Spiral” was my mainstay.  I knew in my bones that I was different somehow, and that the deep depressions were abnormal for a young adolescent.  But, the album in it’s entirety showed that what I was going through, particularly the self-loathing, suicidal ideation, self-injury, questions of faith and religion, disdain and disillusionment with the world, and dysfunctional relationships were not uncommon events.  I had figured that if these things were inspiration for an adult, why couldn’t they be my inspiration, with the music being my solace.

As I grew into adulthood, the music came with me.  “Pretty Hate Machine” and “Broken” lent me music that resonated with me.  In a way, these albums aided me in support of developing my identity apart from parental and societal expectations.  I realized that I wasn’t like the others, and I could never be.  Instead of fretting about it, and making futile attempts to conform, I fought for the freedom of expression.

The music and lyrics tapped at something deep inside myself.  It found the part of me that conflicted and the dissonance touched.  It found the fundamental contradictions that created so much confusion and made it flow.  I identify with the complex and unique chord structures.  They are beautiful, yet eerie, and have so much tension in them.  My ear can identify them in music I wasn’t aware that you had a hand in, not because of the musical familiarity, but because of the way it touches me.

I could go on identifying each album, with various songs that have colored my life.  But, I find it unnecessary.  The message is this.  Each album contained a number of songs that had personal meaning.  Most were very fitting for the time period of my life, whether it was touching upon symptoms of my progressing disorder, dysfunctional and abusive relationships, general discord with life, or absolute disgust with society and the people that run it.  And in those songs, I found the music and lyrics to tell me the most important thing I needed to know in my life.  I am not alone.

So, today, I share my passion for music with kids, and help them find their sound.  I do that as part of my passion, and as my day job.  As a person who suffers from mood disorder, you could probably appreciate the following.  I spend most of my time putting the same message out there through creative mediums.  If you are suffering, you are not doing it alone.  I know how you feel.  I was granted the gift of music and writing to share my story and give a certain gift of companionship to those in need.  And, I feel as if you had a hand in aiding that.

I am still a fan and a listener.  I am greatly enjoying the long rumored, “How to Destroy Angels” project.  I appreciate how the music was able to evolve with me.  Or, it’s possible that I was just able to put it into a different context.  Either way, I am grateful to have had such an inspiration and support in my life.  Many thanks for following your passion, and not letting Warren take you down.

All the Best,

Lulu Stark

A Writer or a Hack? : 30 Days of Truth

 

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.

Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious

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.

Sorting It Out

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.