Helplessness

Why do I find it just so hard to get started on anything?

In the time since my last post, I’ve spent a lot of time writing posts in my head. Mostly while driving. The words running on and on, never with an end. I think that’s part of the reason my posts don’t get written. Once I start, who knows how long until I’ll feel I’ve said what I need to? And I don’t have hours on end to sit here and type.

But the the impulse has been pushing me to try to get some of these words out. Just do it. I’ve set another timer, because the last time I did that it was pretty successful.

It’s just getting started. That’s the tough part. Getting started with my day. Getting started writing a report for work. Getting started reading a book for pleasure. Getting started cleaning my room. The best intentions are there to do so, but there’s a block. Something standing in my way.

I feel like I’m talking myself in circles already.

So where’s my head at, right now? Where to begin? There was a period of time, right when I last posted, where things were particularly bad. I was hurting myself often, in the depths of a depression that had me smothered, barely catching any air. Getting through each day was intensely difficult. I spent my time yearning desperately to speak to J, thinking about all I wanted to tell her, and then suddenly feeling paralyzed when in her room or on the phone with her.

What I was struggling most with then, and still continue to struggle with now, is a feeling of helpless. It took me awhile to put words to the feeling, and I still don’t feel like I’ve done the best job of it.

Really, the helplessness is something I’ve tried to convey, something I’ve written, in one way or another on many posts since I began blogging.

These feelings, they are a part of me. A part of the mental illness, which has become so tightly entwined with me to the point that I know longer know how to separate us. I repeatedly come again back to the realization that emotions are part of the package.  They are, in fact, never going away. The intensity may dull with age or with medication; J believes that and asserts it often. Then again, it may not.

Things are going to hurt. All of us in this world feel hurt at times, but the hurt is triggered more easily and cuts much deeper for me than for many other people.  I have to somehow live right now knowing that it’s an unarguable fact that things will ebb and flow from manageable to terribly awful and back again.

I’m supposed to somehow accept that and keep going. To get out of bed each day not just ignorant to what intense emotions may befall me, but also expecting when they do I will wage the war against them in isolation.

This may sound dramatic, because of course I can get support from a friend on a difficult day by means of comforting words or companionship or a fun excursion. I’m not physically alone. I’m mentally, emotionally alone.

My thoughts and feelings are mine and mine only; no one else can know or feel exactly what I’m experiencing. No one can live through my feelings with me, only beside me, and that feels like the loneliest thing imaginable to me. Especially because it fuels my fear that if they can’t really know it, they probably don’t understand it, and may be judging. I live in the tightening spiral of emotions by myself, and always will.

There is nothing that can change those facts. They are, really, facts. It makes me feel so very helpless and so very trapped.

Even physically, there are limits to the level of support. There’s always an invisible boundary in how involved someone else can become as an ally in the battle. I’ve long felt frustrated with others for not doing more, saying more, being more, when I’m upset. For not being able to understand. Sometimes I didn’t know exactly what I even wanted, but I knew it was missing. I felt that no one truly cared.

Then lately there have been times where I’ve seen another person hurting and had the difficult realization that the best I could do in that moment was to offer kind words or stand by in silent support for some time. I’ve realized that sometimes there’s nothing that can be done right at that time to make it better.

Even if I wished to help them, even if I hurt for them, I couldn’t take their pain away. I could offer my support and then eventually I’d have to move on and let them get through it.

While that makes me sad, while that’s hard to recognize, it also has shown me I can’t blame people for the boundary in how involved they can be. J included.   The same way I have to get through my day, so do others. My sadness and shame and frustration shouldn’t swallow us both whole. 

If I can’t control the feelings happening and if I know the coping skills I should use to prevent destructive behaviors, why am I still going to therapy? If there is no solution that can truly fix me, no answer that will make things feel better, what is the point? I’m supposed to be relying on myself as much as possible to get through the storms as it is.

This is not a question I’m asking impulsively the way I do when I’m frustrated with J or trying to push her a way. It’s an honest one, a genuine thought born out of that helplessness.

I haven’t found an answer to this question that as truly satisfied me. When I found the courage to share these thoughts and feelings of helplessness with J, she didn’t have an answer either. There was kindness and validation, but no answer. I really didn’t expect that she would have one, although I think part of me desperately hoped she might.

All I have is the recognition that I go because even if J can’t completely understand, even if I am ultimately alone, even if it doesn’t fix me, for that hour I feel as close to understood and connected and hopeful of repair as I ever will.

Except now because these seeds of uncertainly keep worming around inside of me, I am clamming up in therapy. I sit down and stare at her, with so much to say but blocked from letting it out, in case the emotions come too.

Sometimes the words do come, but I still don’t feel any better.

When I was super depressed and cutting a few weeks ago, all these feelings of helplessness were at an extreme. They were feeding the suicidal thoughts and plans. Now, they are simply a truth. The giant white elephant in every room that I try to ignore but can’t. Because even in moments of joy, I can see the truth looking me right in the face.

I think that’s why even though I’m getting through each day right now, I don’t really feel like I’m living.  Time management is utter hell as of late and I always feel like I’m running late or letting something I’ve planned to do slip by in favor of making the mandatory responsibilities like work or babysitting get done. I’m just managing. Just trying to keep up. Every day is exhausting.

I’m not sure when that changes or how it changes, but I feel that it’s on me to change it somehow. For as little control as I have,  I also haven’t been making the best choices. Eating poorly. Not exercising. Not spending enough time on self-care. I’m not helping my chances of things feeling okay.

I know that even when I can find some strength and willpower to start turning my mess of a life around, the emotions will still be there. And I will still be weathering them alone. That’s the helplessness.

And it’s consuming.

Advertisements

The Medication Situation

There’s a certain thing that J has been encouraging for months now, since even before I started my job in the fall. That very controversial thing that she has been advocating for is revisiting the idea of seeing a psychiatrist for medication.

It’s something she knows I’m wary of, since every time it gets brought up I usually respond with a simple “okay” and then nothing else follows. Until the next time, usually weeks later, when she suggests it again.

This isn’t our first dance with the idea of medicating. I tried it, briefly, about two years ago now. The psychiatrist I saw was curt and cold, and I disliked her immediately. Plus, when she shared information from my patient portal with me she stated that I denied suicidal ideation, which wasn’t at all true. So it didn’t instill much confidence in me, and not only did I not take the meds, but I never went back.

At the time, I told J that I wanted to focus really hard on getting better with just therapy and hard work. She accepted that for awhile, until she didn’t.

The first time it came up was at the end of the summer. Then again the night of the letter fiasco, as I was sitting crying on her couch. Maybe even another time before or after that, I’m not sure.

But most recently, it came up after I texted J in lieu of our regularly scheduled Monday afternoon check-in. I couldn’t make the call during my allotted time, but I was struggling deeply with a number of feelings, including shame and dread, that were blooming with the thought of going back to work. I wanted her support desperately.

I’d already sent J a text on Friday after having a particularly difficult day. I’ve been trying like hell not to cross the boundary, to need J beyond the two specified times I’m afforded. But I did text her, twice in four days, because I was having such a hard time.

Her response was very kind, somewhat helpful. Except right there in the middle of the text back was again the mention of the psychiatrist, this time with a name and number. A direct referral.

In the moment, I completely withdrew. My mind began to spiral. I shouldn’t have texted her. I’m getting too attached and asking for too much by doing this. This is how our relationship fell into jeopardy the last time. She thinks I’m crazy and she’s trying to push me away so someone else can deal with me. I’ve annoyed her. I’m too much for her. 

I was so thrown off by the way in which she’d suggested the psychiatrist (again) that I planned to just pretend the conversation had never happened. To apologize when I saw her and move on. I really didn’t want to talk about it.

L encouraged me to be honest though. So when I saw J on Thursday, I used all my effective communication skills. I told her that while the rational side of me understood that she really wanted to help me, it felt so strongly like she kept bringing up the psychiatrist during my most difficult moments because I was too much for her.

When I said that, I could see it surprised her. She hadn’t thought of it that way at all. She assured me that she really was just trying to offer what she thought might be a helpful strategy, not because I’m too much for her, but because my emotions can be too much for me.

I told her that while I heard her, I knew she wanted me to see someone else, I wasn’t ready. I needed her to understand that and maybe leave the topic alone for a bit. I promised her when I was ready, I’d include her in the process. She accepted it. It was a good conversation for us.

I thought that was it. I thought we were done with the topic of medication.

Then the following day, my water bottle spilled in my bag, dousing my files in water and killing the laptop I’d been given to use by the school. I absolutely panicked when I realized what happened. It ignited a storm of emotions inside me, fueled by my helplessness in fixing the situation. The laptop had sat coated in water for hours before I even discovered it. I felt so supremely stupid and careless.

I cut myself numerous times that night and the feelings followed me though the weekend, which culminated in an intense self-harm session on Sunday. During that point, I was profoundly suicidal, alternating between laying in bed preoccupied about how worthless my life was and searching my phone for painless ways to die.

In the aftermath of that, I found myself thinking about what J said. That my emotions were too much for me. She was right. My best intentions to get through a day that had been otherwise okay were obliterated. This all started with a simple mistake, but it had blown up because of the intensity in which my emotions flared.

I wondered: What would it be like to have something like that happen and not have it end with me wishing that I was dead? What would it be like to make a mistake and not feel like I deserved every ounce of blame?

So on Tuesday, I made the appointment. It’s not until the beginning of May, but I did it. I’m going to go. I don’t have to accept or take whatever pharmacological intervention is offered to me, but I’m willing to at least try to hear this woman out, even if it’s a scary thought.

I hope it’s a good sign that the woman didn’t have a free appointment for so long. Maybe that means she’s good.

Right now, I have a prescription from my doctor for a common anxiety medication that I can take as needed. I usually end up taking 1-2 pills over that same number of weeks, refilling every couple months. When I do, I have noticed that things usually feel more tolerable for me afterwards, whether it’s psychosomatic or actually because of the medication.

Still, taking a pill every so often and having the power to choose when I take them is much different than taking something on a consistent schedule.

I’m scared about the unknown. Scared about the side effects. Scared that it won’t be helpful. What does it mean if I take something and find it has no benefit?

Even if it does, even if it takes the edge off, as J thinks it might, it doesn’t take away the harsh words of my internal minions. Will anything do that? Will that narrative in my head ever stop projecting negativity at me?

It feels terrifying to be hopeful. I worry instead that taking medication will just simply sedate me, as L once stated. While it would be wonderful not to feel so deeply, living with everything stunted doesn’t much feel like living.

And then, there’s the part of me that feels like a failure. That feels like if I just worked harder, done the things that J has suggested or that I’ve read in my DBT book, I wouldn’t need this. I feel like I didn’t put in enough effort or that something is so seriously wrong with me. Of course, I don’t think anyone else taking meds is a failure. Just me. Always just me.

I hope to do some research on medicating those with BPD before I go to see this psychiatrist. That will require me to concentrate on reading for more than three minutes at a time though, which is tricky for me. All joking aside, I think it’s important to arm myself with questions to ask.

For any of you out there with BPD or a similar disorder who have in the past or are currently taking medication, what has your experience with it been? Do you feel it has been helpful? I’d love to hear from people who have actually been through this.

 

 

 

 

Guess What? Things Are Still Hard

I wish that I could say my lack of posting was because I’m out in the world enjoying a good time and living free of my demons, but that’s just not the case.

In fact, lately life seems even harder than usual. I feel like I’m constantly clawing my way through each day, just trying to survive it. I’ve been in the pits of a depressive cycle for about the last week, but even before that things felt challenging and lonely.

I’ve set a timer today, because I wanted to write but kept erasing my first sentence. The goal is to type for a half hour and just see what words fall out onto the page. Maybe this is something I could do more often if it’s been helpful.

To all my WP friends out there that I’ve continuously been neglecting, I first want to say I hope you are all well. I’m sorry, again, for not being able to maintain enough focus to read and comment on your blogs.

Lately, the thing that feels the best for me is the end of the night when I’m in my bed. I love curling up under my blankets and shutting the rest of the world away. Of course, that isn’t really living. It’s an escape. Which is really the problem, I’m constantly wishing to escape. Being around other people is very much a challenge.

The negative thought spiral is working overtime in my head and it has total control. I am not in the driver’s seat right now. I don’t think I have been for awhile. Am I functioning? Yes, in the sense that I’m going to work, seeing friends occasionally, and still trying to help my grandfather each Saturday. But it still very much feels like I’m in a state of maintenance, keeping everything stable instead of really doing anything that feels fulfilling for me.

The politics of work continue to suck. Like, they are super awful. People keep telling me that it would be like this no matter what school I worked at. And I know that’s true, because people seem to have this innate ability to stir up drama sometimes even without the intention to.

But also, I hate when people say that because it feels dismissive.

Still, I feel alone at work and constantly question who I can trust. I have one very close friend that I feel most comfortable with. There are maybe three others I feel like I’ve reached friend status with. And the others? Many of them are super nice, but I know that I wouldn’t put it past them to talk about me behind my back.

The colleague I share an office with is one of those people. She’s a nice person who means well and she’s very good at her job. But she’s also someone that can be very manipulative in the sense that she’s good at telling people what they want to hear. Sometimes she’ll say one thing around just me and then her opinion changes when someone else is around. Which means I can never trust if what she’s saying is really how she feels.

Worst of all, she will throw me under the bus to build herself up. She did just that a few weeks ago in front of my principal. The three of us were discussing something that she and I had already talked about the week before. Except the first time we talked about it, she didn’t share with me some important information that would have been super useful to know. Then she used it as a way to make me look naive in front of our principal.

I confronted her about it afterwards by saying I wish she would have told me those details when I brought the situation to her before. She said that she’d just forgotten to mention it. Even if I give her the benefit of the doubt about that, and she did forget, there would have been a way to feed me those same facts later in a way that didn’t involve our principal.

Rude.

Do I think she necessarily meant to hurt me? No. I just think she wanted to align herself with the principal. She wanted him to feel like they were on the same side, and I was collateral damage. She and I are supposed to be on the same team, and yet she sold me up the river just for a laugh with my principal. If I can’t trust her, who can I trust?

No one. The answer is no one.

Which sucks. Because I have to pretend like this didn’t damage our relationship. Even though it did. I’m doing a bad job of pretending too, because I have zero skill in diplomacy.

I hate my job sometimes. I really do. Even more though, I hate that this is so hard for me.

Therapy is going okay. L and I decided when I met with her last week that we will begin to move towards terminating our relationship. I think once L found out that I told J about her, she recognized that enough rebuilding had taken place with J. She said that for us to keep working together too frequently could interfere with my relationship with J. Which was fine, honestly, because I’m running out of things to talk about with L. I’ll see her once a month for the next two or three months, and that will be it. Unless I need her in the future.

With J, things going to go well and feel pretty okay. A noteworthy moment occurred yesterday, when I realized that she had hung the keychains I’d given her for Christmas in her office. Apparently, they’d been there since I gave them to her but I never noticed.

I’d actually seen them out of the corner of my eye the week before as I was leaving the office, but hadn’t gotten a good enough look to know for sure if they were the ones I’d given her. So after waiting all week to be able to check, I then forgot to look at the drawer when I came in, and ended up remembering closer to the end of our session. But of course, the drawer was not in my line of sight, so for me to see it I would have had to noticeably lean forward. And what if it wasn’t what I’d given her? I didn’t want to be too hopeful.

Eventually, I did get the courage to look and it was my keychains. Since it was obvious what I was doing I commented on it. “That’s the gift I gave you for Christmas,” I said with a smile.

She smiled back. “It is! I put it there so I can see it every day.”

It really made me feel very happy, especially because there are other items in her office that I definitely think were gifts from clients. It also made me feel like she genuinely liked what I’d given her.

But anyway.

I think have been scaring J a bit lately, because my anxiety is through the roof, my self-harm is worse than ever, and I’m visiting the dark depths of suicidal thinking more than anyone would like to. I’ve been really honest about it with her, even when it makes me feel dramatic and attention-seeking.

J’s been great about validating. Last night, she kept asking me to try to remove the judgement from the room, even if just for that hour. To try to just talk to her without all of those harsh critiques caveating my feelings. She promised me that she wasn’t judging me.

I really couldn’t do it, even though I wished I could. I felt so ashamed. I asked her how it was possible that she wasn’t judging me.

“Because I see you differently than you see yourself,” she said. I asked her what she saw. “I see how much pain you are in. I do.”

And let me tell you, even if it was just for a few minutes before the minions took over, I believed her. That was a nice change.

We discussed quite a bit of the safety plan yesterday, and I’m really trying, even though all I want to do is hurt myself. It’s hard not to have plans on a Friday night. It’s hard to feel like I’ll ever be worthy of everything better.

J told me last night that since none of the evidence is working right now to help me, maybe I could try believing that I’m worthy of happiness using blind faith. Believe that I’m a good person just because.

I’m trying it, because it’s as good of a suggestion as anything else at this point. A damn shot in the dark. I know it was a suggestion borne purely out of desperation, because when she was suggesting it, I half-laughed and said. “I’m worthy of happiness. J says so!”

And she shrugged. “Whatever works.” This coming from the same woman who wouldn’t write me that letter months ago because she didn’t want me to be too dependent on her.

Well, jokes on you, J. I’m using your judgement of my value to keep myself going right now.

But here’s the thing I keep questioning. Is there anything that can really truly help me in a long-term, actual life-changing kind of way? Will anything ever make it truly better? Will it make life feel more tolerable? Or are we going to keep slapping different band-aids on this mountain-sized problem called BPD through trial and error method until this disorder finally kills me?

Progress

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 11.20.43 AM

This meme is a pretty accurate representation of what January felt like for me. Long and cold (bitterly cold) and just pretty much endless. Again, my endeavors to update my blog more were squashed, sometimes by a ridiculously annoying inability to concentrate and more often by the fact that I was sick more days out of the month than not. I actually just got through a really tough week of congestion and bed rest. Let me tell you friends, working with little kids is really a test on the immune system and I haven’t been passing.

I’m already having trouble keeping my focus on this post, so we’ll see how this goes. I hate that writing is so mentally taxing on me these days.

Anyway.

So what has life been like for me lately? Well, really it’s just a daily course of trying to keep my head above water. I don’t feel particularly stable in my place or my emotions at any time, so I’m always in the process of trying to do whatever I can to just break even, especially when it comes to work. Somehow, I always spend the day falling further behind and then the evening or the weekend playing catch-up. It’s frustrating. It’s tiring. It’s slowly getting to me.

I still don’t have any idea what kind of job I’m doing and how I’d compare to someone else starting fresh in their career. Sometimes, I feel like the biggest idiot. I don’t feel like I’m able to retain the facts I’m supposed to know and apply them when necessary. Others, I feel like I’m at least getting by.

Mainly, I’d like to update about how therapy has been going because I haven’t in awhile and maybe you’re curious. Or maybe you aren’t, but I’d like to talk about it.

I’ve had trouble putting my feelings into words lately. I’ve left many sessions wanting to share the place that I’m in with J, because it’s overwhelmingly good. Better than I could have imagined two months ago when I was ready to quit.

I am still seeing L, but much less frequently. I’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult for me to open up and be vulnerable around her. I feel shame the second I even think about sharing some of the dark thoughts, so I resist.  It’s no fault of L’s, she certainly gives me the space to say what I need. There’s just a lack of trust that comes with only knowing each other a few months.

By contrast, I am able to share more with J. There’s a lot at this point that I don’t have to explain to her because we’ve known each other almost three years. I still feel shame over admitting my dark feelings, but not as much. I think my recognition of this has helped me see that I really do trust J implicitly, even when the connection feels shaky.

There’s enough trust, in fact, that I finally admitted two things to J. First, I’ve been consciously hiding any feelings I have that are related to our relationship. Second, I’ve been seeing another therapist.

I didn’t plan to tell her these things, but the conversation swayed that way and I’d been stewing in my fear of telling her long enough.

She took it well. She understood the instinct I had to protect myself. She even told me that she thought it was a really huge thing that I’d felt such intense feelings of hurt and yet channeled them into something that became both productive and connecting for us during subsequent sessions.

In response to the news of L, she told me it did not hurt her feelings. I was not betraying her. She felt happy that I’d found some additional support when things were challenging for us. Even better, she was happy to let the two relationships remain separate. I’d feared she’d want to talk to L to coordinate care, and I wasn’t okay with that, so this was a relief.

The openness between us has been improving, and I’ve been brave enough lately to tell her things I might not have before. This week, we were discussing a fear I had that someone might be angry with me. J didn’t believe the woman was angry with me, and tried to point out evidence to the contrary. Later, I told her that while I understood her reasoning and that the woman might not be mad, she also might be mad. And if she was, I’d need to deal with it. So if I was going to entertain her side of it, she needed to entertain mine.

She cocked her head to the side and looked at me. I could see it dawning on her that I had a point. “You just made me realize something,” she said, and proceeded to agree that her perspective wasn’t reality. She thought: Of course she wouldn’t be angry, it’s not logical for the situation. But people aren’t always logical. So we did talk about how I’d handle the situation if the woman was angry.

It was a nice moment for me. I’d talked to J about how I’d like her to approach a situation differently, and she heard me. No frustration, no judgement. She’d heard me.

I still think I might like to discuss the letter one day, because I’ve never directly told her how painful it was the way she handled it. We’ve talked about how it was a difficult session for both of us,. Maybe she would be able to hear that too. Then I wonder, is this issue too far in the past and should I just let it go? I’d like to, but I don’t know if I can just let those truths remain unsaid.

At Christmas, I gave J a gift. I wavered on doing so, because things had been so difficult, but something pushed me to do it anyway. I wanted to give her something meaningful, and I settled on two keychains, one dragonfly and one hummingbird. Dragonflies represent change, while hummingbirds represent stability or continuity. To me, that was the ultimate dialectic of our relationship: We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, yet she was still there for me and I still chose to go to therapy.

She appeared genuinely touched by the thought in the moment and then texted me later that night to express her gratitude again. When I read the text, I was filled with affection for my therapist. A fondness that only comes from a relationship that has survived a lot.

And so now we’re in this weird kind of place. A place where I have rediscovered the connection to J and look forward to therapy being my safe space as the week, but am now dealing with the familiar sting of separation at the end of the hour and a dull longing to talk to my therapist throughout the week. A place where there is a recognition of my trust in her, a belief that she truly cares, but also still residual feelings from past conflict that morph into insecurities that I’m too much for her and being silently judged. A place where I value J’s skills tremendously while simultaneously questioning if she can really help me.

All of that is okay right now, mostly. While I wish that I had the relationship with J where I could tell her every single thought and leave each session feeling wholly understood, part of me recognizes that she’s human and not capable of meeting each one of my needs all the time. She is doing her best, she is helping me, and the other stuff is slowly working itself out. I don’t want another therapist. I know that now.

It’s a weird form of acceptance.

And I wonder, is this some kind of progress on my part?

The Moving Conundrum

Wednesday was my first day back at work after the break. Altogether, it was a pretty average day, with nothing particularly extraordinary either way.

There’s a teacher at my school that I’ve been becoming friendly with. She’s a few years older than me and has been helpful in helping me settle in and learn about some of the curriculum. I have a close friend at school, A,  who has also been friendly with her, so the two of us were both invited when A had a holiday party right before Christmas. We spent a lot of the night talking, since we both didn’t really know anyone else.

I ran into this teacher, C, at the end of Wednesday’s school day and stopped to chat with her for a minute. We talked about a TV show I got her watching and just as I was turning to head for the exit, she stopped me and told me she’s looking for a roommate.

At A’s party, we’d talked about me wanting to move out, and she remembered that. C said she’s looking for someone to help make the rent a little more manageable for her, and would I maybe be interested? She invited me to her housewarming party in a couple weeks, so I can check out the house then.

I was excited when she told me this. First, because I’ve been trying to establish more relationships within the school so it was cool that C felt I might be someone with enough worth that she’d want to live with me. Second, because I’ve been itching to move out forever and this might actually be an opportunity within my budget.

What’s most interesting to me is that as soon as this became a viable option, I started clinging a little harder to my life living at home with my parents. Like the rose colored glasses have been put on.  They’ve even irritated me less than normal!

I think what I’m really clinging to is the sense of familiarity. I’ve got the routine down, and am comforted by the knowledge of how things go around there. As much as my parents can annoy me, I’ve never lived with anyone but them. I have adapted to the structure of this household, and I don’t know what it would be like to live with someone who is virtually a stranger. What if we aren’t a good match and start to hate one another? Should I be keeping better boundaries between work and home?

Plus, I am comforted by the luxuries afforded to me, like having DVR to record everything I can’t watch live or having dinner waiting for me after a 12 hour work day. I love seeing lights up around our living room doorway in colors that correspond to the closest holiday.  The other day, I looked at our Christmas tree and felt a weight of sadness at the thought of not living somewhere with such a beautiful tree.

Plus, there are actual logistics.  This new place is closer to my work than where I live now, although not by much, but it’s further from the girls, further from my grandfather, and probably further from therapy. Do I want to extend my commute that much? Do I want to or even have the financial stability to expend that extra funds on groceries and wifi and whatever things I’m not thinking of?

In theory, I need to see what kind of money I have and determine whether this is theoretically doable. But you know, since it’s scary and all, I’m avoiding it like the plague. Negative reinforcement at it’s finest.

Change is scary for anyone, and of course the anxiety would be heightened for me. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this before. Whenever I get back on the dating path and sense any time of intimacy on the horizon, I am quick to get scared and cut off all contact. And relationships are something I really want to, so my tendencies annoy the crap out of me.

I see here how this could really be a wonderful opportunity for me. The chance to develop a new routine within an environment that I could customize. I would not longer feel confined to my room and my parents rules! The chance to feel the confidence and emotional growth of living independently. I would be able to come and go as I pleased, with little fanfare. The chance to develop a friendship with C, which could maybe even lead to even more friendships!

This is all I’ve wanted. Weeks ago, I was in a state of panic over a financial hit that might get in the way of this independence. Yet, now that I’m posed with the option, I’m seeking all the reasons why not. Am I not as ready as I thought?  Or is this maybe just not the right time?

The Gift Exchange

At Christmastime, we had a party for everyone in my department. There were maybe 15 of us shoved into a small conference room eating catered food and homemade desserts and chatting. I sat among my still fairly new-to-me coworkers and managed to join into the conversation. It felt satisfying to feel like I even remotely belonged somewhere.

Part of our little party included a gift exchange, which I had been nervous about prior to the whole affair. It felt like there was a lot riding on picking a gift that could be considered desirable to people a range of ages and personalities. What if they didn’t like it? What if they thought I was weird for my selection?

But I bought a gift and decided to participate anyway, mostly because I thought it would be more stressful not to. We each picked a number and got to choose from the gifts in succession. On your turn, you could steal someone else’s gift or choose opened a wrapped gift. There was a cap of a gift being stolen twice.

I was nervous about this too. I wanted to show the right amount of gratitude for whatever I got, because gifts can be tricky with me and I have a tendency to feel disappointed when I don’t get something I’d like. It felt scary to have all eyes on me as I stood, picked my gift, and unwrapped it. I’m not kidding, I really hate being the center of attention even when it’s the whole point. More eyes equates with more potential for judgment I guess.

Anyway, I picked a fairly low number, which meant there were lots of people after me with lots of chances for it to be stolen. On my turn, I picked a bag and hoped for the best. Inside was an essential oil diffuser. I was excited. In fact, I had just said to my mother the night before that I wanted a new and bigger one than I currently had.

My colleague was itching for the diffuser and told me jokingly not to get too attached. Her turn came just a minute later and although she eyed it up, she didn’t take it. I was thrilled. She actually chose the gift I had brought, a set of wine glasses with funny sayings, which she liked when it was open (sigh of relief for me!). But a couple turns later, another colleague swiped the glasses from her, and she responded by stealing the diffuser from me.

I was bummed, but tried to plaster a smile on my face and picked another present. The gift was a unique choice, perfect for the gift exchange, but it was something I already had so I wasn’t particularly elated. Another coworker eyed it up on her turn, but didn’t take it, even though I told her it was fine if she wanted it – which I then felt guilty for, because I didn’t want the person who brought the gift to think I didn’t like it or was ungrateful.

Then a minute later, someone else swiped my gift. I could either chose to open a third gift or take something else. Another of my colleagues nudged me and told me to steal back my diffuser. That would be two steals, so no one would be allowed to take it from me.

So I did!

Everyone laughed as the gifts were traded around; it was the point of the game of course! Yet as I hugged the bag with my gift close to my chest, I suddenly felt extremely bad. Why did I think that I deserved the gift more than she did? Just because I really wanted it? I felt selfish that I’d robbed her of something she’d wanted just to make myself happy.

Later in the day, I apologized to my coworker for taking it from her. I even offered her my old diffuser for her office. She laughed it off, told me it really wasn’t a big deal. Clearly, she didn’t have a second thought about it.

But I did. In fact, every time I looked at the diffuser I felt a rush of guilt again, like I’d stolen something. When I got home that night, I didn’t even take it out right away. I felt that bad about it. For the rest of the night, my mood was off.

That party was weeks ago now. I see this colleague multiple times a week. I’m literally using my diffuser right now as I type this (with the beautiful scent of lavender wafting in my direction). Yet sometimes when I think about it I still feel a little bit sad for reasons I can’t even articulate.

I wanted to post about this because I think it is a perfect example of what it means to be afflicted with BPD or any disorder that involves some level of anxiety or social interaction difficulties. I knew as I was in the moment of the intense emotions that my feelings didn’t fit the facts. I could look around and rationalize that things were fine and she absolutely wasn’t mad at me.

Yet the feelings and the negative thoughts persisted. Hard. For awhile. Anyone else would have already forgotten that interaction. Probably, my colleague has forgotten it! Still, when I see her, that’s the forefront of my mind and it requires strength not to stick that topic into our conversations. Anyone else wouldn’t think of themselves as selfish or awful just for following the rules of a game. In fact, my colleague had stolen it from me first! Of course, that doesn’t factor into my emotions for some reason.

I look around at people in my life and wonder what it might be like to be able to let things go with little to no thought about it. How do those things fall right out of their memory while they are branded into mine?

No wonder I’m so scatter-brained, the minions are too busy holding onto all this useless crap!

It’s a constant reminder in moments like this. To stay present with the thoughts and find evidence to refute them. To see if the intensity of my emotion is justified by what is actually happening. To breathe and remember that the feelings will pass. To stay engaged with the people around me when I want to withdraw.

Moments like this are the daily fight..

The End of 2018

I have a lot of ambivalence about the end of 2018. My impulse immediately upon seeing people reviewing their “Top 9” on Instagram or posting about their year in review on Facebook is to fold into a state of self-pity and say that my year was awful and good riddance to it.

But the truth is that I’m wavering back in forth between being in a pretty terrible place and just sort of hanging on noncommittally. So maybe my perspective on my year is a bit bias coming from behind the negative lens of my mental illness.

Also it’s probably coming from the fact that I hate New Year’s Eve. It may be my least favorite night of the whole year, ironically enough.

Christmas was okay, but at the end of the day I felt an overwhelming rush of sadness. Sitting among my relatives, I felt myself recede emotionally, suddenly tempted to cry. I wasn’t even exactly sure why. The end of the holiday season can be brutal after all the buildup, especially considering that I really love Christmas. But it was also a feeling of distance from my family, a feeling that can remain deeply entrenched in me even as I’m laughing with them.

A few days later, I got some news that sent me further into a tailspin. So much so that I ended up needing to self-medicate (thanks anxiety meds) to be able to fall asleep, as I woke up to a panic the first night. The news wasn’t even life-changing, but it still rocked me, and was a stinging reminder about how quickly I can unravel in the face of difficulty. There was shame attached to that. Maybe I’ll post more on that later.

Anyway, the point is that I know things were not as awful this year as they feel they were in this moment.

I graduated with my Master’s degree after three grueling years in school. I got a job after eight or nine interviews and the crushing blow of losing out to friends and other interns. I started that job, which has been a mix of personal growth, connection with some amazing kids, and overwhelming stress.

My grandfather had a heart attack, and he spent the early months of this month between the hospital in rehab, but he is home now. He’s been home for over eight months. He celebrated another birthday, another Christmas. He is as independent as an 86-year-old man with limited vision can be.

I had a rocky year with my therapist, to the point that I considered quitting multiple times, but we also had moments of complete connection. Moments where I felt completely heard and cared for. All things considered, somehow we’ve made our way back to things being at least semi-okay and I’m grateful for that.

I didn’t get away on a vacation to a tropical place like I’ve seen many others do, but I made some other things happen for myself this year. I attended a football game of my favorite NFL team and got to watch them win. A friend and I went to the both lantern and balloon festivals. I got to do an outdoor ropes course. I took the girls to look at Christmas lights and saw some beautiful houses.

It’s been up and it’s been down. I’ve written some really positive post series that I can refer to and I’ve written some posts from the absolute floor of rock bottom.

I don’t know what’s in store for 2019. Right now, there’s a lot of doubt within me that I’ll ever be able to overcome the intensity of the emotions and the harsh voice in my head. I wonder deeply about whether there is a relationship and close friendships in my future, to the point that when I talk about my future I say if I get married and if I have kids, because I’m afraid to hope.

I’m living with perpetual uneasiness, and those minions who fight back whenever I feel even a trace of joy or confidence. It makes getting up each day feel very difficult and then saddles me with dread as I fall asleep each night. My illness makes me feel lately like I can’t handle life.

But I’m still here, aren’t I?

Even though I feel empty right now with limited hope that things will improve in 2019, I can recognize that they still might. I can recognize there will at the very least be moments of light.

Last year, I set myself an expansive New Year’s resolution that included exercising a specific number of times per week, meditating a number of times per week, and eating healthier. While I didn’t meet all of my goals at 100%, there were times where I was running three times a week, meditating regularly. That’s improvement. That’s something.

This year, I’m not going to set myself any type of resolution like that. As much as I like to make things super measurable, I don’t feel like setting that bar for myself and risking feelings of failure at this time a year from now.

Instead, my resolution is to try to do as many kind things for myself as I can this year. I’m not going to count them. I’m not going to take data on it. I’m just going to try. Try to avoid the razor. Try to dispute the negative voice in my head. Light a candle. Wrap myself in a blanket. Meditate. Go to the gym. Eat a good meal. Text a friend.

I’m going to keep trying to do the things I’ve already had on my goal list, but in greater doses. More self-care. More self-love.

That sounds cliche, and I wish I was further along in this healing journey, but I’m not. I’m right here, struggling. And I’d really like to try to get further down that road to some more consistent relief.

I’m going to try to keep writing. It’s been so hard to do. Hard to concentrate on my own thoughts, because the swarm of them usually induces such extreme emotion that I recoil and go into hiding from them. I haven’t been able to focus too closely on my feelings, for there’s too much associated pain. But yet without writing, I feel like something is missing.  So I will try.

Here we are, the end of 2018. I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year. I wish all of you peace, hope, and joy as we continue on the difficult roads we each face. You are worth the fight.