This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My Kind Of BPD

Is anybody else still out there? I'm still here, despite my fits and starts of disappearing. My laptop broke again, and I've been accessing the internet through my iPad and through a friend's laptop. My memory is no better, and so I forget about things that I usually keep tabbed (such as this blog, and Flight Rising, and Facebook...) when that happens.

Today I've been thinking about stigma, and how even those of us who fight it can still be vulnerable to it. In particular, I've been thinking about the stigma of Borderline Personality Disorder, and the ways in which I've bought into it without meaning to. Have you ever said, "I have BPD, but I'm not a typical Borderline", or something similar? I have, frequently. I seem to always be explaining to people that even though I have BPD, I'm not "that" kind of Borderline. Partly I want to be understood for the individual I am, rather than a stereotyped version of my disorder -- but mostly I'm trying to distance myself from everyone who is "that" kind of Borderline.

And every time I do that, I drive another nail into the stigma-coffin. Every time I say it, I may as well be screaming out that there is a "good" BPD and a "bad" BPD. There's not. There's just BPD, in varying degrees of intensity and with myriad presentations of symptoms. It's all the bad kind. It's all the good kind. It's all BPD.

Given that, maybe instead of rushing to defend myself by sticking that "bad" label on the people with different symptoms, I should quit telling people what my BPD isn't... and start talking about what my BPD is (bearing in mind, of course, that my comorbid disorders bleed into BPD and each other).
  • My BPD is a lack of self stability that shows itself in an uncanny ability to unconsciously chameleon. By this, I mean that without intending to, I often change myself according to the people I'm around. This change will include everything from words and mannerisms to thoughts and even beliefs. It's never being sure of who I am, or if I really like the things I like. It's constantly wondering how others see me, and trying to create a self-view based around that, because it's the best I can do.

  • My BPD is excessive self-monitoring and criticism. Everything I do comes under the deepest of scrutiny by my own mind. Was that too blunt, too subtle, too rude, too ineffective? Is that appropriate to do/say/ask? One thing is of particular concern since my diagnosis: "am I acting in a way that reinforces BPD stigma?"

  • My BPD is interpersonal hypersensitivity. It's never knowing whether what I'm sensing from others is their stuff, or my own. It's misinterpreting others' emotions and needs as being my fault in almost every situation.

  • My BPD is intense relationships. It's needing to be part of everything, to feel included. It's always following along, feeling like a sheep or a lost puppy. It's over-involvement in other peoples' lives until I think they're sick of me, whereupon it's backing off and hiding away.

  • My BPD is a preoccupation with, and terror of, abandonment. It's weighing up constantly what I can say and do to not lose the people I love. It's always being the one to say sorry, to shoulder the weight of fixing anything that goes wrong. It's the unconscious chameleon behaviours to fit in, to belong. It's being afraid to eat in front of the people I care about until I've done it enough times to be sure I won't screw it up so badly they don't want to be around me. It's terror of my friends' friends, because there's a perception that the opinion of those peripherals will influence the opinion of the people I care about. It's needing to be part of everything, to feel included. It's being a doormat, because if I give everything I have and am, then people will maybe have reason to stay.

  • My BPD is emotional hypersensitivy. It's feeling everything in an intense way - as though I'm the equivalent of a burn victim, my emotional skin gone and the nerves laid bare. It's knowing that people think I'm a drama queen because everything is so out of proportion, and still not being able to control or damp down that intensity. It's loving so strongly it wants to explode out of me, and it's hurting so deeply I can't bear the weight of my own heart.

  • My BPD is difficulty recognising and managing my emotions. It's being so afraid of my own anger that I am only just beginning to feel it instead of automatically transmuting it to a different emotion. It's crying silently and fighting it the whole time, because it feels so wrong not to. It's fighting every emotion, trying to run and hide from them, and failing every time. It's being overwhelmed almost constantly because I don't even know for certain what I'm feeling.

  • My BPD is an overabundance of anxiety and depression. It's everything I already covered under terror of abandonment & emotional hypersensitivy, and so much more besides. It's fear of being imperfect, fear of losing control. It's shame, and guilt, and the weight of clinical depression bearing down on my shoulders. It's fear of, and difficulty adjusting to, change.

  • My BPD is impulsivity. It's acting in the moment, despite my intentions to follow a different plan. It's spending hours scrutinising myself, and then out of nowhere blurting out something utterly inappropriate. It's writing out a shopping list, then ignoring it and spending all my money on junk food and craft material instead. It's taking out something for dinner, then deciding at the last minute to eat something else, and doing it on a regular basis.

  • My BPD is self destructive behaviours. Sometimes, it's suicide attempts because I don't want to be here anymore, because I'm done and I just want out. Most of the time, it's self harm, alcohol abuse, disordered eating. It's mixing uppers & downers because I know it messes with my body. It's over-eating, under-eating, and it's eating foods that will make me uncomfortable. It's giving up just when I get near to reaching my goals, and it's pressing on [emotional] sore spots. It's making decisions based on what will cause me the most amount of harm/pain, because all I really want to do is destroy myself.

My BPD is a disorder and a disability. It's not the good kind of BPD. It's not the bad kind of BPD. It's just my kind of BPD. What's your kind of BPD?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ch-ch-changes (Turn and Face the Strain)

Sometimes it seems like just when I start to find my feet and plant myself on solid ground, along comes something to shake things up. I'm still learning to be okay with that, even when the shake up happens for a good reason.

I know it's been months. I hope nobody's been worried. This time, just as I reassured you all that I wasn't doing a disappearing act, I got unwell. And then my laptop up and died. And in the middle of all that, my world changed.

After four years together, my relationship with Bumface is now over. I'm the one who ended it - but don't let that fool you. I took it hard. It's still hard, even though there have been other changes that have made things easier than I expected. There was no big fight, no earth-shattering revelation of betrayal that ended my relationship. Instead, it was a quiet dying of the intimacy we used to share, an insidious decay of time and meaning - but not the love. Never the love. And so I finally did what I've spent a great deal of time learning how to do - I walked away from a relationship that was hurting more than it was helping, even though I still deeply loved the other person. I still love him now.

With my relationship officially over, I moved rapidly from "unwell" into "a serious risk". In addition, for some reason, the DID that had been fairly well managed for the last ten years suddenly became a major problem. It's still a problem, but things are beginning to settle down a little, at least. There are a lot of littles active again - both 'new' and ones I knew before; and although others are active as well, their ability to blend is better (as has been all along) and thus they are less noticable.

I wound up with a friend staying for what was initially going to be a few days, but has lasted longer due to both the dissociation (and safety around that) as well as my state of self harm & suicide risk. I'd known this man for a little while, knew we had similar pasts and shared commonalities, but discovered more. Discovered, too, a man who had an instinctive grasp of what I needed; and an ability to provide it. We ended up deciding to explore a relationship together -- and we're still exploring.

Now that we're past New Years, he's going to be going back to his own place (gradually), and I'll be living alone for the first time in my life. It's frightening and exhilirating all at once.

It's been an interesting ride these last few months, but here's to a new year - new hopes, new changes, new starts. Hope you're all okay out there in the world. Stop in, say hi and let me know what's going on for you. I've missed you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Letter to the Person Living With BPD

I wrote this last year and shared it on my Australian BPD group. I came across it again today, and it seems like something that I should place here, as well. Although it's for 'the person with BPD', it may offer some small insight for those who don't have BPD as well.

To the person with BPD,

First of all, know you are not alone. There are men and women from all walks of life who can identify with those three letters, and though they may not always be people you would choose to have in your life, they are your allies and your kin. We walk these paths together; and as lonely as it can be, because of that we are never truly alone.

Know that when you research your condition, you will come across websites that call you evil; you will come across websites that claim you are narcissistic and lacking in empathy. Know that being diagnosed with BPD does not equate to these things. Being diagnosed BPD means many things, but know that it does not make you a bad person. No website calling all people with BPD 'evil', 'manipulative' or 'narcisstic', or calling for extreme avoidance of all those diagnosed, is professional or accurate.

Know that your future is not assured. BPD is, technically, incurable -- but it is not a life sentence. There is treatment available and life can get better. If you have done DBT and found it unhelpful, know that there is more than one option out there. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment for BPD, no matter what anyone tells you.

Know that your feelings, as strong as they are, will dissipate if you allow them to. Your anger will fade; your sorrow will ease. Nothing lasts forever, and your feelings are not the exception to the rule. You are the emotional equivalent of a third degree burn victim but you have the ability to graft yourself with thicker skin. You can get through this.

Know that you can learn to control your behaviour. What you do in impulse now, you can learn to contain. Your angry outbursts, your uncontrolled spending, even your self harm can all become more controlled and can even be overcome entirely. It will take time and it will take a great deal of hard work, but it can be done.

Know that the world is not as black and white as you'd like it to be, but you can learn to be okay with that. Know that your instinct to cast people or events into categories on the extremes can be worked with. You will learn, in time, that nobody is all good or all bad, and that is okay.

Know that you will learn to know yourself, gradually. Maybe you will start with your favourite colour, or you will choose an animal to love. Maybe you will discover that you like your eggs scrambled, or you dislike jelly.

Know that sometimes people will leave, but it doesn't mean that you are being abandoned. Life is full of change; people move on, or are taken from us suddenly. Not everyone was meant to be a permanent fixture in our lives; some people will stay for a heartbeat, others will fill our hearts for years. Know that you can learn to be okay with the changing landscapes of friendships and loved ones, despite the pain.

Know, most of all, that there is hope. BPD is not a negative reflection on your personality and life can get better.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Sunshine - 9/8/15

Some of you may remember the old Sanguine Saturday posts I used to make. I decided to reinvent these as Sunday Sunshine, but with likely most of the same content. A weekly look at gratitudes, achievements and the like is probably something I need at the moment.

I'm grateful for...

  • My heart family that is filled with wonderful people
  • Having a free Netflix account
  • Beach walks
  • Coke Zero
  • Having had a great night out with friends
  • Books
  • Dogs
  • Also giraffes, cats, guinea pigs, monkeys, dolphins, and other mammals. Also non mammals. Just animals in general, really.
  • Puns


  • I walked from the street all the way into college all by myself.
    I've been brushing my teeth every day I've gone into college.
  • I went out with friends -- this is a gratitude and an achievement because it was pretty scary, and there were some last minute changes that made my anxiety even worse.
  • I knocked off another unit of study last week, which leaves me with one and a half (a prac and some related assignments that shouldn't take long) to finish before my next cluster opens on August 25.
  • Even though I made a decision that didn't turn out very well, I was able to make better decisions in order to mitigate the negative effects.

Don't forget to challenge yourself by posting up some gratitudes and achievements of your own, and send me the link. I can't wait to see them!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Life (Or Something Like It)

No, I have not done my usual "blog and disappear". I'm still here. :)

Things have been busy here. I'm struggling to create a balance between study, home and social life. It's harder than I remember back when I was working -- but then again, it's more important to me to ensure my balance is healthy now than it was back then. I don't know how much I'm reclaiming of who I used to be. I think, instead, I'm butterflying into a new person. Hopefully, in time, I'll become a person with a better grasp of socialisation and emotion management, too.

As I ease back into blogging, there are likely to be format changes. I've changed a lot since I started this blog (thank goodness), and my goals have changed. Something that hasn't changed is that I still want to use this blog as a place to help myself process things, and I also want to keep using it to help others. I don't know what that will mean for the blog at the moment, so please just bare with me in the interim.

What's been on my mind in the last few weeks has included:

* Why am I struggling with my study?

I've felt like I've really struggled with the last few units I've done. I don't know whether it's that my headspace isn't right (my depression has flared up in the last little while, and with it extreme amounts of anxiety -- plus I've had two recent deaths to grieve), the units are just getting harder, my way of learning isn't as practical with these units, or I'm just plain too stupid for this course. Most likely it's a combination of factors. Still, no matter what it is, I have no intention of quitting. I can do this. I will do this.

Plan of Action:
  • Keep going.
  • Attend college 3-5 days each week as much as possible.
  • Get help from tutors, peers and friends where needed.
  • Monitor depression & anxiety - bring it up at next appointment with pdoc.
  • Remember to actually use my Valium.

* Rejection/Abandonment/Conflict

All three in one because they're very interconnected for me. We all know these things have long been something I struggle with. Conflict (that isn't actually conflict) still leaves me torn up inside for months. I'm trying so hard to get better with this, but the unresolved emotions at the heart of it all are still very much holding me back. It's so bad it's actually become a real quality of life issue, and I don't want it to continue. I don't know what else I can do other than to keep going, keep trying, keep fighting, so I will do those things and keep experimenting to find new things.

Plan of Action:
  • Experiment with new "tools" to handle conflict/rejection/abandonment (whether real or perceived)
  • Watch friends and peers amongst themselves. Be aware of how conflict is handled between others -- use it as evidence of how those people will handle conflict with me (eg, if when in conflict with J, E walks off for a break, then finds J an hour later and they talk it out & their friendship remains strong -- use this as evidence E will not end friendship over small conflict).
  • Keep on top of thought challenging -- "conflict is part of life, and most relationships don't fall apart based on conflict that is addressed", "I am allowed to be human, I am allowed to make mistakes".
  • ?

Those are the big ones I'm struggling with at the moment. As always, please feel free to throw suggestions at me for my own action plans. But... what about you? What's something going on in your life that you could develop an action plan for addressing? Feel free to blog and leave a link, or just answer in the comment section, and I'll see you tomorrow for some Sunday Sunshine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

56 Weeks Later...

It's been another year. Things have changed a great deal for me. In some ways, my symptoms have lessened greatly. On the whole, I'm happier than I used to be.

But in other ways, new symptoms have come up. I'm happier at the cost of functionality, and in trying to bring that functionality back, I'm starting to lose some of that happiness. I feel like I'm on a neverending seesaw, but damned if I'm not still fighting. I will find a way to create some semblance of balance, even if I never get it perfect.


So, a bit of a recap/refresher/catch up on how life looks for me at the moment:

* I study now. At the very end of February my partner and I joined a course and began to study towards a diploma of counselling. I go into college most days. I don't always get a lot of work done, but that's okay. I'm making reasonable progress with my study so it's not an issue if I have a day where my concentration is shoddy or whatnot; and when I'm not studying, I'm making friends and expanding my social circle.

* On a related note, we're working towards making Missy a certified Assistance Dog (like a guide dog for the blind). I have a few details left on the paperwork -- I'm waiting for Dar to come home for that -- and then we'll wait and see what happens.

* The reason I need an Assistance Dog is that I have unfortunately become quite agoraphobic. I'm pretty well unable to leave the unit alone. If Missy or someone I trust is with me, I'm alright, but otherwise, there's just too much panic.

* My weight has remained reasonably steady for a while, except for some stress related loss which has since been regained. I'm not by any means underweight, but if I use logic and reasoning, I don't think I'm especially overweight at the moment either. I wish I could say that my eating is normal as well, but that would be a lie. Still, I make sure I eat at least one proper and reasonable meal (almost) every day.

* I rarely self harm. Suicidal ideation, passive suicidality, and the urge to self harm all remain a problem; but I've got a pretty good grip on not actioning these, for the most part. Unfortunately skin picking and occasional hair pulling is still very much an issue.

* I hug some people. I still like to be the one that initiates it, or be asked about being hugged, but I'm doing it, and sometimes I am initiating it (usually by asking), and all of that is massive.

* Even the things that are still really huge issues/problems (like my inability to deal with anger or perceived conflict, and my terror of abandonment) are being stretched and - I believe - will gradually lessen as I see for myself that being human and myself and imperfect is not going to end or irrevocably change my friendships for the worse.


And of course...

* I still read and write and craft and love zoos and take photographs. I still want to get my writing published (and I need to pull my finger out and actually do something about that). I'm still me, so much more than my diagnoses, so much more than the broken piece of a puzzle.

I think it's time to get back to blogging.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Healthy Eating Minefield

All those people who say healthy eating is easy need to get off their high horse. In my experience, healthy eating is complicated, and especially if you've ever struggled with disordered eating, and/or mental illness.

Healthy eating is a veritable minefield of wrong choices, mistakes and scary limitations. First, scientists can't even agree on what's healthy. We're constantly being told that yesterday's choices are no longer healthy. We're told it's as simple as "x calories in" = weight loss, but weight loss doesn't necessarily equal healthy.

I'm trying to do the right thing, by my body and by my mind, but it's so complicated. Am I doing it right when I eat salad for dinner? Maybe, but maybe I'm not including enough nutrition or maybe I'm not giving myself enough calories. Am I doing it right when I snack on fruit? Not, apparently, if you add peanut butter or nutella to that. Am I doing it right when I eat muesli for breakfast? Maybe.

The truth is, I'm so turned around right now, I have no idea whether I'm doing it "right" - whether the food I'm putting into my body is okay or not. I have no idea if I'm getting the right nutrients, the right calorie number, the right anything.

I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I know that it's winter and I want warm food, but the tasty-healthy options I know of aren't warm - they're cold things like salad or watermelon or neutral things like dried fruit and corn thins.

I also know I'm trying, and maybe that's good enough for now.

How about you? How do you go with healthy eating -- are you a natural or do you get as confused and mucked around as I do? Do you get upset when you make mistakes and choose options that aren't as healthy as you thought?