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 or my partner, please respect our privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

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?

Friday, June 13, 2014

The need for ALL levels of recovery to be validated in their need for support

I want to address two things that are sort of connected. Something I've been running into in a few places lately, is this idea that those who are "further along the recovery path" should bend to those who are just beginning their journey, no matter what.

The thing about different places in the recovery journey, is that how we approach certain things affects others who are in different places. In a great many support communities, that means allowing people to express themselves however they like - 'whinge' comments and attention seeking are rife.

I believe those things have their place. I believe it's important for people to experiment with how to get the sort of attention and support they need -- but I don't think that should be at the expense of those who are a little further along the recovery road.

Whether we like it or not, those of us a little further on the recovery journey can find that really difficult to deal with. Being surrounded by people seeking short term solutions can really drag us down, and it can lead to the temptation to go back to using those short term solutions, instead of concentrating on the long term solultions that actually change things.

There's this idea that if, in a support-based community, we put up boundaries against that sort of behaviour, we are stepping on the people who need that communication style, and that because they're at an earlier stage of recovery, they have more right and need for support, because they are "sicker".

No. No, no, no, and I say again -- no. First of all, you can't determine whom of two people is "sicker" unless you know both extremely well and ideally hold a psychological degree. There's this idea that someone who has reasonable communication skills can't possibly be as sick as someone who struggles to understand concepts. This is not true. I might understand concepts quite well from a rational level - but that doesn't mean I'm capable of putting them in play in my life, or that I might not be affected in other ways.

This is connected to the idea that someone who is more visibly unwell is actually less unwell -- again, this is a myth/misconception. The truth is, you can't guage how well or unwell someone is by how they present. You just can't.

And you know what? Even if you could - by focusing on supporting those who are "most visibly unwell" at the cost of those who are less visibly unwell, you create an environment where the emphasis is on being as visibly unwell as you can, in order to receive support. You create an environment that says to everyone who needs support only deserves it if they are as visibly unwell as possible -- that's not an environment that encourages growth or healing, it's an environment that breeds dysfunction.

I'm all for there being a place to allow people to seek attention, coddle and other "short term" types of support - but there also needs to be room for there to be a place based around more indepth, growth based support, too.

And there needs to be more awareness that just because you may think I look less sick than your friend, it doesn't mean you are right -- and maybe it doesn't even matter. I deserve support every bit as much as anyone else, and that's not contingent on how well or unwell I am. What matters is that I am here, I am asking for it, and I deserve it because I am human.

How about you? How would you balance the need for differing levels of recovery to receive the support they require/deserve?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Physical Health With Mental Health Obstacles

We all know the old saying, that if you eat less calories than you expend, you will lose weight, but it's not always that easy. Metabolism, medications you may be on, previous attempts to lose weight, mindsets, thoughts and personal challenges all play a part in complicating the issue.

Today I want to talk about healthy weight loss, something that seems simple but is fraught with traps, tricks and complications, especially for those of us with a mental health condition.

Those of you who know me may be aware that a couple of years ago, I was well on the way to developing a mixture of anorexia and bulimia. I all but stopped eating, and I worked out excessively. Bumface helped me get a handle on it when we first got together, and for two years, my weight stayed relatively stable (give or take a few kg).

Alas, just before Christmas, I went on some antipsychotic medications, and since then, my weight has steadily increased. It got to a point where we decided enough was enough, and I signed up for the gym.

So here's where I'm at now:
  • I visit the gym at least three times a week, spending less than an hour there.
  • Weights no more often than every second day; cardio every time.
  • I haven't made huge changes to my eating (though I have minimised the junk), so I'm having 2 or 3* meals a day, of reasonable healthfulness. For example, today I had weetbix for breakfast, lite sweet & sour (made at home from a jar) chicken & veggies for lunch, and a ham & salad wrap (spinach wrap) will be dinner.
  • For the most part, I only drink no added sugar weak cordial (usually just to take my meds with), Coke Zero and water.
  • I'm going to be getting Bumface to do my measurements into a special notebook specifically for that purpose.

It's too soon to see big changes, especially as I know I'll be building muscle at the gym, but I think I'm on the right track.

*I'm currently spending between 12 and 14 hours in bed every day, so I think smaller meal numbers are reasonable, given my lack of energy (and no, they're not the reason I have a lack of energy).

What I want to know is what do you do to help yourself stay on track with healthy weight loss and/or just taking care of your body? How do you balance any tendency you have towards overdoing it, with the need to make sure you're doing 'enough'?

Monday, June 2, 2014


Hello friends, it's been a long time. While Dialectic Dichotomy has sat, gathering dust, I've been doing lots of growing. My focus has moved from primarily mental illness, to general life and all the things I'm passionate about.

One of those things is, of course, mental illness, and recovery, and that hasn't changed. I've been running a group over on Facebook for Australians with Borderline Personality Disorder, and it's really taken off. (Do let me know if you'd like to check it out - we have a strict pro-healthy policy and a great group of people.)

In the same vein, I feel it's time to resurrect DD and continue that growth - as well as sharing it with others. I hope to share exercises and activities with things to think about, as well as my thoughts and challenges as I face what comes. They won't be Borderline specific, of course - many will be applicable to overcoming abuse, or simply living with mental illness in general, or sometimes just whatever life's thrown my way. I do encourage you all to join in -- chat with me in the comments, take part in the challenges and activities, and let's grow together.

For today, why don't you share one thing that's going well for you today or this week? It doesn't need to be a big thing, though it can be!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Diagnostic Criteria take 2

Oh look, I'm still here. ;)

I thought it was time to take a look at the diagnostic criteria for BPD again, especially now that the criterion themselves have been changed. This is mainly for myself.

A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:

1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
a. Identity: Markedly impoverished, poorly developed, or unstable self-image, often associated with excessive self-criticism; chronic feelings of emptiness; dissociative states under stress.
b. Self-direction: Instability in goals, aspirations, values, or career plans.


2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
a. Empathy: Compromised ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others associated with interpersonal hypersensitivity (i.e., prone to feel slighted or insulted); perceptions of others selectively biased toward negative attributes or vulnerabilities.

b. Intimacy: Intense, unstable, and conflicted close relationships, marked by mistrust, neediness, and anxious preoccupation with real or imagined abandonment; close relationships often viewed in extremes of idealization and devaluation and alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.

B. Pathological personality traits in the following domains:

1. Negative Affectivity, characterized by:
a. Emotional lability: Unstable emotional experiences and frequent mood changes; emotions that are easily aroused, intense, and/or out of proportion to events and circumstances.

b. Anxiousness: Intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to interpersonal stresses; worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities; feeling fearful, apprehensive, or threatened by uncertainty; fears of falling apart or losing control.

c. Separation insecurity: Fears of rejection by - and/or separation from - significant others, associated with fears of excessive dependency and complete loss of autonomy.

d. Depressivity: Frequent feelings of being down, miserable, and/or hopeless; difficulty recovering from such moods; pessimism about the future; pervasive shame; feeling of inferior self-worth; thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior.

2. Disinhibition, characterized by:

a. Impulsivity: Acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli; acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes; difficulty establishing or following plans; a sense of urgency and self-harming behavior under emotional distress.

b. Risk taking: Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities, unnecessarily and without regard to consequences; lack of concern for one's limitations and denial of the reality of personal danger.

3. Antagonism, characterized by:
a. Hostility: Persistent or frequent angry feelings; anger or irritability in response to minor slights and insults.

C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.

D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual's developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sanguine Sunday: A Look Back On January

I have been a busy girl lately, with lots going on in my life. Some good, some bad, some neither. This is a bit of a wrap up of what's going on here at the moment, what I'm involved in & what I've been up to (with links).

Sanguine Saturday has now moved to Sanguine Sunday and evolved (yes, again) a little. I admit, the new title is slightly less impressive in its alliteration, but makes up for it by being the very end of the week, and a perfect day to look back on what I'm achieving. I think, too, that rather than being a weekly look, I'm going to make it a monthly one.

* I've worked really hard on setting a couple of new routines that, while still not solid, are beginning to improve. [Health +1]

* Made it to a friend's 30th birthday party earlier in the month. It was terrifying, but also fun, and I had lots of practice talking to strangers. [Social +1, Emotional +1]

* Coffee (well, alright. Milkshake. And not the kind you get in the UK, either. A real, proper milkshake.) with my support worker once. Nervewracking and I didn't have to even order it. Next time I suspect we're stepping it up so that I do have to order myself. [Social +1, Emotional +1]

* Since my volunteer work with Peninsula Animal Aid, the nearest animal shelter to me, hasn't worked out due to the distance (among other things), I've begun volunteering over Facebook for an entirely volunteer run organisation that helps to reunite lost animals with their owners. If you're an Australian on facebook, take a look at Lost Pet Registers in Australia to find your local LPR. At the moment I'm coordinating/helping out on several pages in Queensland and New South Wales. [Social +1, Emotional +1]

* Poor old Sid, the car, has cracked it again, and requires yet more work. The mechanic's full up with vehicles at the moment, so we're still waiting to hear what's happening with that.

* Unfortunately, because the car's broken, I had to contact the man who was supposed to be selling me my puppy (30th birthday present), and he has sold her on to someone else. (Actually, the way he replied made it seem rather suspiciously like he was already planning to sell her out from underneath us!)

* A silver lining on not having been able to get 'my' puppy is that I was available to overnight foster a pup in an emergency situation, and it has reignited a spark in me for fostering. Without a car, getting my own dog isn't really much of an option, but some of the shelters etc here do offer transport for fostering, so after confirming with my housing guys, I've applied in several places. My first official foster dog, a Jack Russell cross Mini Foxie should arrive early next week and I'm very excited! [Social +1, Emotional +1]

* My deviantArt account, bloodawni, continues to grow, and I'm even beginning to make some friends on the site. Feel free to check it out and +watch me, fave something, or just leave a comment. If you have your own dA account, definitely share your link! [Social +1, Creativity +1]

* Since I'm participating in NaHaiWriMo, I went looking for a group collating entries together. Since there didn't appear to be such a group, I created one myself. If you're taking part, or if you just like haikus, please feel free to join or watch #NaHaiWriMo. [Social +1, Creativity +2]

* Over on From Another Angle, I've not done so well at regular photos, but I have at least made another entry, and have already worked out what to put up next week. [Social +1, Creativity +1]

(Social: 7
Emotional: 4
Health: 1
Creativity: 4)

Have a great Sunday, everyone!