Fighting myself

As the hot water passes over me, my legs quiver and the needles still stab in my chest as I gather my breath. As my heart rate slows and my head swims with negative thoughts. “I wish I could be proud of myself”

“Why am I never good enough?”

“Why do I hate myself?” 

“It’s no wonder I’m borderline. I’ve brought this on myself” 

Another voice echoes in my head 

“Stop it. Be kind to yourself” 

My bitter insides twist in response and say 

“You’ve let this happen” 

I try and remember to be mindful

I try to focus on the water running down my face, on the pulse in my ears

But still I can’t drown out the voices that say “not good enough. You’re to blame. Pathetic. Weak. Attention seeking. Lazy. Fat. Unmotivated. Lost. Lonely. Loser. DISGUSTING. WORTHLESS!” The voices press down on me. Pushing me to my knees. My invisible enemy ripping me inside out. 

Why do I hate myself?! 
But…
I didn’t buckle did I? 
I know what I wanted to do. I know the pain I wanted to feel. I know I wanted to feel punished. 
So… I ran. I jumped, I pressed, I crunched, I pushed myself harder and I forced myself through the pain. 
Till my heart drowned out the inside screaming and all I could think of was breathing. 
Relief. For a moment. 
And in the shower the voices may be back and they may be pushing in… but they didn’t win did they? 
I didn’t try to tear them out my skin.
I push against the shower wall and whisper to myself: “I am enough. One battle at a time.” 
I turn off the water, take a deep breath, and get ready to face the world again.
Cos like it or not. I can’t escape the skin I’m in. 

Coming out the other side of a depressive episode

It’s hard to remember, what life was like before a depressive episode. In that state everything is black and white and days pass in a slow fog… I remember when I first saw the Psychiatrist:

“Are you suicidal?” 

“I have suicidal thoughts but I’d never do that to my family”

“How do you know you won’t act on them?”

“I keep telling myself I’ve got better before, and I’ll get better again”

Sometimes it was a fight to cling to that knowledge. It’s been a couple of months since I left the psych hospital and since then its been a bit of a bumpy road but I’ve been heading in the right direction all the same. Now, after completing my first month of DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) colour is flooding into my life and I feel myself waking up.
Everyday I have to work at getting better. I do my DBT homework, I follow my therapists advice, I take my medication. The work is paying off though, my motivation has improved, my attention span is longer, my mood is more stable. Suddenly I realise that I’m no longer enduring my life but living it.

Today, as part of my DBT homework I created a photo wall as one of my ACE activities (activities that give you a sense of Achievement, Closeness to others and Enjoyment)

I ordered polaroid photographs of my friends and family and strung them up as a reminder of all the positives in my life.

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Remember to look after yourself and to plan things that will bring you fulfilment.

This is a list of my ACE log

  • invite a friend to dinner (or even just a phone call if you can’t manage dinner)
  • Do something kind for someone else
  • Exercise
  • Sing along to music
  • Have a hot bath
  • Go for a walk
  • Bake
  • Write
  • Clean and decorate around the house (best done in small chunks)
  • Meditation or Mindfulness exercise
  • Setting a side a time for ‘life admin’ tasks

I consider myself very lucky to have a supportive network of friends and family around me that have enabled me to never lose sight of what’s important. I wouldn’t have made the progress I have if it wasn’t for their help.

For any readers that struggle with mental illness please take that step to reach out and ask for help from a friend, family member, or you talk to your GP or call Good Samaritans.

Endnote: This post is slightly more serious than the usual banter and for that you have my most sincere apologies (soz, not soz). Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to chat. I hope that sharing my experience can help others. 

Tutorial: How to please everyone

…YOU CAN’T.

It’s just not going to happen and you’re only going to make yourself miserable in the process.

(This is not a tutorial. I lied.)

I am a people pleaser. I confess. Being a people pleaser doesn’t mean I’m a sheep, it doesn’t mean I’ll do anything to fit in. I’ve always kinda skipped to the beat of my own bongo and I’ve always been a little bit proud of that. But when it comes to the people closest to me, the people I love, respect and admire… Hell yes! I want to please them. For a good time I didn’t think there was much of a problem with this. I just wanted to make the people I cared about happy, what’s so wrong about that?

The answer?

Because it’s impossible and you risk your own happiness and even your own identity whilst trying. Here’s why…

Scenario: It’s a party. Your parents, your best friend and your partner are going to be there.

  • Your Mom bought you a new dress and she’s really hoping you’ll wear it to this event
  • You promised your best friend you’d go in matching novelty crab outfits, because that’s the way you roll.
  • Your partner is going to be there and shellfish really isn’t their thing plus there is a slinky black combo you know they are going to love.

What do you choose to wear?

The appropriate answer would be: Wear what you want to the party.

But if you’re a People Pleaser like me… you might not be able to see past your need to make others happy. You don’t even know what you want!

So…What do you do when you realise that you no longer know what you truly want?
What do you do when you realise you’re unable to make a choice that isn’t swayed by the desires of others?
What do you do when you come to the realisation that all your life’s decisions, from the way you dress to the hobbies you choose, are all influenced by the desire to please others?

YOU HAVE A GIANT IDENTITY CRISIS!

(seriously, who am I?)

You suddenly realise that all this time when you thought you were busy being your own person, really you were busy being everyone else’s person! Suddenly you find yourself in Julia Roberts’ shoes as the Runaway Bride, who doesn’t even know how she like’s her eggs!

One of the diagnostic symptoms for Borderline Personality Disorder is having an unstable self-image. When I was first Diagnosed with BPD, I (very loudly) disagreed with this part of the diagnosis. I know who I am! (She said as convincingly as she could)

“Unclear or unstable self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself, or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity.”

for more info on BPD click on the  (Source)

I’ve come to grudgingly realise that this is true. My self-image is both unstable and unclear! And part of it is a consequence of me trying to please others.
Now, before making a decision I stop and think: “Am I making this decision for me?” which inevitably leads to another question: “Who am I and what do I want?” Usually I hear the tiny, scared voice deep inside of me utter the reply “I don’t know.” 

Not knowing who you are can be a very unnerving sensation, and I don’t have a lot of advice on how to figure yourself out, after all… I’m still working out who I am. But I figure that if you ask the question “Am I making this personal choice for me?” enough times you’ll gradually start to see things a little clearer.*

Maybe keep a diary to keep your thoughts and decision-making on paper…

Or maybe write a blog… I hear some people do that.

 

*DISCLAIMER: I have no idea what I’m talking about.

My Attention Light is Blinking

Sometimes I will send annoying texts, repetitively poke someone (in a non-sexual manner) or just generally behave in an annoying and obnoxious manner. Sometimes I just simply but my head into the person like a dog wanting love. When any of these things happen it is because my attention light is blinking.This is an actual system that has somehow gradually developed with my friends and family. I can just tell them now that my attention light is blinking and that I require love and affection. I can be quite a needy person… when I’m not busy being completely aloof.I always justify my need for attention by explaining that I have Attention Deficit Disorder and so really, by receiving attention from others they’re really just helping me with my deficit…

These days, attention seeking has negative connotations. If we seek too much attention we’re called “attention whores”. If a Facebook post is overtly emotional we say the person is just looking for attention like it’s a bad thing. Or the one I hate the most… how self-harming is a cry for attention, which in a sense can sometimes be true but it is too often said in a way that trivializes the persons actions.

I know I’m not the only person who has had these thoughts, I’m pretty sure I read a blog on this very subject not too long ago (and to whoever blog’s it is I apologise, I couldn’t find the article again to reference it). But I whole heartedly agree that asking for attention should not be considered a bad thing. We all need attention and we should all be willing to give our attention to others. Sometime’s all a person needs is to feel noticed, and if a person feels the need to hurt themselves in order to be noticed… I’d say they’re entitled to ask for some attention.

Don’t be afraid to ask for attention when you need it, and don’t be stingey with your attention when you see someone else crying out for it. Let’s all be a little bit more giving, and a little bit more loving.

Kumbaya, Namaste, Gesundheit etc…

(but seriously, it’s nice to be nice)

Motivational-ish quote of the day

I just came from watching The Secret Life of Pets with my mother. Which was an interesting experience since there were a lot of other kids there with their parents as well. Only difference was the children were about 20 years younger than me. Still, I’m young at heart. Besides, nothing cheers me up more than animated anthropomorphised animals going on wacky adventures.

I also got a massive metal bucket full of sweet ‘n salty popcorn which was awesome, and I’m going to keep it as my future sick bucket… because I get sick more often than I eat popcorn and every household needs a decent sick bucket.

Anyways, I digress. My point is that there was a poignant moment in the movie where Max is swimming for his little doggie life towards a life saver and Duke is cheering him on by saying. (This may be paraphrased as I don’t remember the quote exactly):

“Keep going! You’re doing great! Well, not really… But you’re not drowning so that’s something!”

And there, right in that small moment… contained the perfect metaphor for struggling with an illness, mental or otherwise. Because half the battle is keeping your head above water.

So When you’re being hard on yourself because you haven’t got much done that day, or that week… or that month. Just remember: You’re not drowning… so that’s something.

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My amazing popcorn bucket that’s soon to be my sick bucket. Everyone needs a good sick bucket.

 

Mindfulness makes me cry

 

My therapist has been insistent that I try mindfulness. Now I’m no stranger to meditation, it’s something I’ve practised many times. I like to think its something I was quite good at… but lately this is not the case. My shrink suggested this app called Headspace, which gives guided mindfulness meditation exercises. It’s actually a pretty neat little app and I’m sure it works great… if only I could get through a session without crying 5 minutes in.

“You cry?” she ask’s with genuine bewilderment.
I nod.
“Well then you can’t be genuinely in the moment, you shouldn’t be thinking of anything.”
“I’m not! Other than breathing and “the feel of the floor against the soles of my feet” I reply, maybe a little on the defensive side…
“Well, um, obviously you have some deep-seated emotions you need to work through”
I slow blink at her, I know this, this is one of the very reasons I go to therapy.

This woman is not instilling me with much confidence.
I think the issue with mindfulness is the fact that it brings you into the present moment, and I am presently sad. That’s kinda what depression does, being a day dreamer has always been my escape. I find being present in the moment and myself exhausting and somewhat… well, depressing.
I think, instead of mindfulness I will try Mindlessness. This article in The Guardian explains that “Mindlessness operates on the basis that your mind and body already know how to take care of themselves.” It goes on to say that “To be truly mindless, you need to rely on a combination of snap judgments, uninformed intuition and absent-minded daydreaming. All the things I’m best at, in fact.” Which honestly sounds much more my steam at the moment. In fact, I would say I already have mindlessness down to an art form.
However for the sake of my dear shrink I will give the mindfulness the old college try. Perhaps I can get to a point where I don’t start sobbing uncontrollably to guided meditations… I’d take that as a win.
On second thought, maybe there is some benefit to just engaging with sobbing for no apparent reason… I call it Sadfulness meditation. I could hold classes in sobbing, wailing and generalised despair, they always say misery loves company.
I may just start my own movement…

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The Waiting Place

Limbo, no mans land, the place between where you were and where you’re going. I’m at the pit stop of life.

A year after graduating, no job, and waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted to do my MFA. And if I haven’t?  Then what? Do I have a plan? No. I can’t seem to plan further than the day ahead of me and even that’s optimistic sometimes. I can worry about my future no problem, I worry about when I have kids, about the future job I don’t have, and other issues that are actually yet to exist. Worrying is much easier than planning, I’m a most efficient worrier of the past, present and future. If I could get paid for worrying then I’d be the most overly concerned millionaire in existence. As it is, you don’t generally get paid to be a professional worrier… I’m tempted to say scientists that worry about climate change are professional worrierers (that’s the correct plural right?)  but I also like to think they do research and solutioning (also known as problem-solving)  in-between their worrying. Philosophers are great worrierers, but again I don’t think anyone paid them much either. Please let me know if there are any other professional worriers that have slipped my mind.
Anyway, I digress. My point (I think) is that I am currently in the waiting place, which if you read Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss then you’ll know it’s quite a useless place.

“… for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

 – Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr Seuss

I hate waiting. It’s such an uncertain state of being. It’s nothing but anticipation, just waiting to react. I feel like, while I’m in this state of waiting I should be doing something productive. However, the waiting act seems to have played havoc with my anxiety, the lack of structure and stability that the waiting has brought upon me has equally fucked with my ADD. The anxiety, confusion, self-doubt and general low self-esteem has just led to a perfect mind storm of emotional hell. I am, as my shrink puts it, in crisis. I feel as though I have been slowly climbing to the peak of the worlds highest anxiety-coaster (which is like a rollercoaster but with more dread) and from the very top, plummeted down into the pits of despair. Worst. Ride. Ever.

Now I’m back at therapy, back on medication. Although this is new and exciting medication that doesn’t allow me to drink any alcohol, makes me feel phenomenally ill and dizzy, but that should calm down after a week. Suddenly, I don’t mind waiting. I’m quite grateful that my life is on pause. I don’t feel too much pressure get better quickly. I can take this time to look after myself, learn to love myself again. Interestingly enough, this crisis has reignited my desire to write after months of writers block. So there’s a sliver lining.

So I’ll wait for a bit, because when the waiting is done… Oh, the Places I’ll Go!!