Onward

Well, let’s just say that yesterday was not my finest hour. Brianna is asserting her independence, mixed with anxiety about her new “big school” routine. That, plus my lack of capacity for stress made a very nasty combo yesterday morning. Fortunately, Bryan had not yet gotten on the train, so he was able to come back home and help get her off to school. I spent the rest of the day in bed dozing on and off after taking a Seroquel.

I know that I’m not supposed to beat myself up about this. I know that my mood disorder is the reason that I am not able to regulate my emotions the way (most) other people can. I know that I am doing all the right things to take care of myself. And yet, in those moments when I feel out of control, like my emotions (anger) are driving and I’m just along for the ride, I know my little girl is scared and hurt and I feel such an amazing upwelling of shame.

I think this is the reason people with BPD are so likely to hurt or kill themselves. Unlike psychosis where one loses touch with reality, BPD folks know that their behaviour is wrong, stupid, fucked up, highly inappropriate. They simply are unable to do anything about it at the time. It’s like being washed away by a tidal wave of emotion and you are just along for the ride and hoping that it ends soon.

I’m making tiny steps of progress. I recognized that my emotions were out of line and phoned Bryan. I didn’t hurt Brianna, I just put her in her room for a time out (she was acting out big-time). And when she had a melt-down that afternoon, I was able to stay calm during her screaming fit.

See, I know she’s reflecting my behaviour back at me. She gets frustrated and she screams at me or throws a toy at me. She’s behaving the way she sees me behave and then what was a tidal wave of anger becomes intense self-loathing for visiting this disease upon this beautiful innocent little girl, just like my own mother visited it upon me.

At those moments, I am certain that my family would be better off without me.

But that’s not an option. Today, Bryan took the later train and the morning went much more smoothly, even though Brianna got yet another time out for not listening. At least I wasn’t out of control. So I remind myself that these are all symptoms of the disorder and that it will probably continue to be rough until next week, when my period is due. That what I need to do during the day is be kind to myself and practice being mindful. Let go of everything except this moment, here, and trust that the universe will guide me.

And so I do, somehow. Somehow, this is going to work out. Somehow, it’s going to be okay. I don’t know how, but I don’t have to. Trust the moment. Everything is there.


Thanks to everyone who reads and comments. Your support means a lot to me. More than a lot. Knowing that my friends don’t reject me because of this disease really helps me to not reject myself. Gassho.

Tuesday Tuesday

It’s a rainy day here, a rarity this summer. The couple of times I took Maggie to the leash-free dog park, I noticed that the ground was dry and cracked, like those pictures of dried up lake beds in National Geographic. So the rain is welcome, even if it is a bit late.

We’ve got 25 minutes before it’s time to walk Brianna to the bus, for the first time. Today she starts JK and I’m amazed and proud and wondering where the time has gone. I’m also reminded that I want to get better for her. Growing up with a mother who suffers from mental illness is no fun and I want better for her. And for me. I really don’t want to be like my mother, not just for my child, but for me.

I met with my psychiatrist yesterday and I asked him if I had borderline personality disorder. It was an interesting conversation. He doesn’t label people and considers the diagnoses more of a research tool for psychiatrists themselves. So he basically refused to say yes. What he did say was that I should go ahead and contact the CAMH BPD clinic, that my symptoms likely meet the criteria, and that I am on the right track for treatment (DBT). As far as the meds go, we’re already doing what would be recommended for borderline patients: SSRI plus atypical antipsychotics.

I left a message at CAMH to see about getting into the DBT skills group. It’s a 20-week program that would augment my primary therapy nicely.

I’m still struggling to accept this into my heart. I really want to deny this. Nobody wants this for themselves, so why is there so much stigma around it? Eh, there used to be stigma around cancer and we’ve pretty much managed to get over that, so maybe there’s hope.

In my quest to fix my body along with my mind, I’ve signed up for an 8-week pilates class. The stretching and core work are exactly what the physiotherapist was recommending for my bursitis plus I’ve heard tales of some nearly disabled folk improving with pilates. Consider it my body practice for fall Ango.

It’s going to be really important for me to practice this autumn. DBT is teaching me that mindfulness is one of the core skills for dealing with borderline, which explains why the times I’ve had the least trouble with it have been when my practice has been strong. Even if I can’t/don’t sit on my own, I can certainly set my timer and practice mindfulness several times a day. When I do practice like that, I definitely feel myself being calmer, less buffeted by the thought/feeling stream.

Time to get ready for the bus. I hope I’ve packed a good lunch for her. I gotta go shopping later for more lunch stuff. It’s gonna be a 15-min day, where I set my timer for 15 minutes and focus on getting one thing done. Yesterday, I took a seroquel and slept. That seems to have broken the crazy flow of anger that was coming.

Time to go.

Struggling

I’m struggling to come to terms with my illness, which I suspect is likely borderline personality disorder (BPD). I was diagnosed with it 20+ years ago but blew it off, that is disregarded it. I didn’t want to have it, so I didn’t. Or so I thought/told myself. The realization that this may very well be the issue that I have been struggling with all my life is settling in over me like a heavy blanket around my shoulders. I’m working hard to see the benefits of an appropriate diagnosis, namely appropriate help. But my emotional self is reacting in overdrive. My tolerance for any kind of stress is very low and I’m reacting with surges of anger that I find exceedingly difficult to control. Shame pours in like Katrina’s floodwaters—the levee of denial is crumbling and I am not looking forward to the cleanup effort.

On the other hand, BPD explains a great deal, including my inability to sit on my own (emotional dysregulation and all). It also explains this pervading emptiness in my self (not the good kind either) and my preference to be alone whenever possible. Not to mention the pot addiction (self-medication!) and ongoing suicidial ideation and self-harming.

The medicine? Mindfulness practice and reminding myself that my behaviours are a symptom of this disease and not my fault.

I’m trying to actively practice mindfulness daily. I have set aside meals as a good practice, one that ties in closely with Ango.

And last but not least, BPD is treatable. If nothing else gives me hope, that fact does.


And now for something completely different: go see Stardust. Neil Gaiman’s lovely and lyrical magical tale is realized onscreen in a way that finally does his work justice. Stardust beats out The Princess Bride for favorite all-time movie, and that’s a title that has lasted for many many years. See it often. I will purchase the special edition DVD for this one.

Garrison

I’m so glad I’m here. I just had a wonderful chat with Karen, about zen practice and depression and mood disorders and the pervasiveness of love. Also connecting with Bryan in a way that doesn’t usually happen at home.

“Holy shame” is Karen’s term for that deep disconnect I feel between how I feel and am when I am here and how I feel and manifest when I am at home. Just noticing that disconnect induces a feeling of shame, and also gratitude that this place is here and is able to help me be more connected, aware, and present.

As far as the depression and anxiety go, I’m focusing on mindfulness practice and applying it to this “mental disorder” of mine. But I can tell that I am on the way up and out of the current valley of depression. I’m able to think much more clearly than I could even a few weeks ago. Now I can begin the work and focus on the tools I need to implement to keep my mood stable.

That’s what it really boils down to—I have a mood disorder and that requires that I do certain things and arrange my life in a way that supports stability of my mood.  What those ways are remain to be fully envisioned. Zazen is definitely one of them.

I also realized that I don’t like to sit alone because I don’t trust myself to be okay when these emotions spill out, which they do when I sit. Being with another person allows me to let go in a way that I simply cannot do when I’m alone, probably because I do not trust myself to be able to handle whatever comes up. Funny what the mind clings to.

Somehow, I will find away through. I must. And I will acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with needing more alone time than society in general wants to allow. There is nothing wrong with having a mood disorder and doing what I need to do to take care of myself properly. There is nothing wrong with not being the kind of person who doesn’t perform at her best working in a cubicle at a large multi-national corporation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time every day practicing art and writing. There is nothing wrong with me because who I am is bigger than a mood disorder, is infinite and not outside of mood disorders or anything else. There is nothing wrong with sharing these feelings with a friend and there is nothing wrong period. It’s all perfect and complete, just as it is, mood disorder and all. Love is bigger than my broken brain.

I may not be there yet, but I’m ready to grant that it is possible. Thanks for reminding me!