Grateful

For the past month, I had felt the most gracious I have ever been in my entire adult life, That is except for when I turned 18 and thought I was grown, and I was a woman now. I have been recovering from an operation, and in that time, I was in the best mental health I have ever been in months. This post is about my appreciation for the phrase stop and smells the roses. I stopped, and I appreciate the people in my life, the good wishes, and my small circle of family that nurses me back to physical health. This is my first time off from work, and I am not on some unknown adventure. Instead, my injury allows me to take time to relax, be mindful in everything that I do. My spiritual health grew, and my connection with myself. I leave to embrace the new transition, letting go of self-pity, and see every new chapter as an opportunity for a fresh start to build, and for that am grateful.

Borderline Chronicles: Recurrent suicidal gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior

Part 6

Trigger Warning: While this post does not contain detail of actual suicidal acts, it does contain information about personal accounts of suicidal ideation that may precipitate flashback reactions…Enjoy!

Self-mutilating behavior, recurrent suicidal behaviors are common traits in BPD. Even though the intent of self-mutilating behaviors and suicidal threats usually does not carry a suicidal plan, it does create discomfort among BPD and increase fear and concerns among loved ones. Self-mutilating behavior and recurrent suicidal behavior serve to express distress and communicate emotion and are used at times as general coping skills. These suicidal gestures indicate observable symptoms for implicit issues of emotion regulation, impulse control issues, and deficits in interpersonal relations. The risk of engaging in non-suicidal incidents is elevated with people with BPD, and these behaviors are also risk markers in BPD.

Age: 33

Living with Borderline personality disorder for a long as I can remember, one thing that has been persistent in my thoughts and feelings is the desire for relief from the chronic symptoms of the painful, ongoing cycle of being borderline. Even though I have never attempted suicide, it is not a relief as that didn’t stop me from thinking that life would be easier without me and an instant incomplete and vague plan of how my family will continue life without me. The disorder for me is precise as the name suggests Borderline, suggesting that there was a line called sanity that separates the chaotic feature of being borderline. Then there would be a line of complete stability and balance.

 I am always on the edge of my thoughts, on the edge of life, always thinking that what I have is never enough, and my self-worth is always tied to the fantasy of the undesirable border. While I have never attempted to self-hurt myself, it’s there in my thoughts when I have the worst days. I have learned to live and accept the diagnosis of BPD with the use of self-help books and occasionally going to therapy. Otherwise, my family thinks I possess rightfully so. I usually think they were very critical of my behavior. It has not been until I was tired of the behavior that I sympathize with them for the empathy they showed me over the years with the occasional complaint when they were out of options on responding to my behavior.

Deep Breathing: Natural Release

Does it work?

As I sat scrolling through Facebook, I glimpsed a post from a friend denouncing deep breathing. She stated that it doesn’t work. Usually, I would have given it no thought as comments on social media do not easily trigger me. Then I remember one of my teenage mentees explaining that deep breathing helps her in some situations but is unsuccessful in others. I quickly used her experience as a teaching moment as I, too, have said this a time or two to myself in the beginning stage of learning the technique. Deep breathing is a technique that not only requires practice and patience it also has many benefits. This profound statement is significant to the results that we received during applying coping methods to anxiety. Yet, this sentiment is not uncommon for those who have applied it every time and yield some results some of the time. My explanation is simple: when you have a cut or a scratch, you use a bandaid; however, a bandaid on a puncture wound will not yield the same result. The damage is more extensive than the adhesive.

Likewise, if you are having an intense day at work or nervous in an exam, deep breathing may work for you as it helps to put your body in a relaxed state, helps to improve muscle stability. You can take it up a notch and add coping skills such as performing guided imagery by visualizing a place that brings peace to you, like the beach or the park, or challenges irrational thoughts.

Furthermore, deep breathing is a recommended coping skill to help with anxiety. It is a profound skill achieved with practice, patience, and knowledge of why you are performing the act or what you hope to gain from doing so. For those who say I do deep breathing and it didn’t work, it didn’t start working the way it should for me for four months of being consistent and purposeful. I would do it on and off one day this week, one day the next month when I needed it, and I was discouraged as I expected it to work, then when I needed it, it does not work.

It wasn’t until I decided that if this profound breathing thing is going to work that I need to invest patience, time, and practice. It was hard for me as my mind never rested once I resolved an issue; I was on to the next and the next. My brain and mind don’t take a rest. It was hard for my body to keep up. Now, if deep breathing doesn’t work, assess the intensity of your emotions, the magnitude of the situation, and try what does work. Coping skills are not universal, the same as therapy and treatment plans.

Borderline Chronicles Double Divided: Inappropriate Intense Anger

Part 5

Like having mood swings, we all get angry at one point or another; after all, anger is an emotion. According to Paul Ekman’s research, anger is one of the six basic emotions. For a person living with borderline personality disorder, they feel an intense feeling of anger. The outlet to their anger can be an intense emotional outburst of physical violence, with or without provocation. As seen below, in an instance of provocation, a person with BPD may have an emotionally abused partner who knows about their illness. The partner may provoke a person with BPD by gaslighting them as they are aware of what their reactions will be. After a person with BPD recovers from their intense anger episode, they may feel extreme guilt and embarrassment for how they behaved, further continuing the cycle of poor self-image. The intense anger displayed by a person with BPD contributes to the demise of a healthy relationship with family, partners, or friends.

Fire depicting the intensity of the anger.

Age 32

I lost my three children after my youngest son’s father called the police to our home. Why put the icing on the cake was the video he secretly recorded of me behaving like an animal after he has exacerbated the situation and thought it would be in his best interest to record the disaster unfolds. 

My partner was strategic, he had the bruise to show the police, and he withheld the video for child protective service, which was the nail in my coffin and the beginning of a downward spiral. 

After my youngest son was removed from my care, I was given visitation rights for my remaining two children. I lost complete control of my life. I was on a marathon of guilt, self-blame, and self-defeat. I started drinking Engaged in another relationship where we both abused either other verbally and physically until I showed up for visitation, and my daughter told me she will always be a good girl and when can she come home. I didn’t know where home was. I was distraught, and I kissed my daughter and assured her of my love for her. I sobbed the entire 45 minutes on the bust, and I quietly made a promise to regain control of my life. That evening I placed the need of my children first and got the help that I need. I am not cured, but I now can monitor and manage my symptoms to ensure a better experience living with a borderline personality disorder.

 

Borderline Chronicles: Double Divided: Mood Swings

Part Four

I know it has been a while since I contributed to the continuance of my blog on borderline personality disorder. I aimed to use real-life experiences to make the blog personable and relatable; yes, I could have made up something, but what’s the learning experience in doing so. I waited until I could get two existing accounts, the next one …Inappropriate, intense anger will follow this blog in a few days. Some of the details I had to omit as they were identifying information, riveting, and protecting the personal data of the persons involved. People with BPD are constantly living in a shifting world; their ideas, responses, and life change rapidly to respond to whatever emotions that they are feeling. It is not surprising that some healthcare providers stigmatize people with BPD because of their shifting moods and changes in value. It can be hard to create and maintain an effective treatment plan to help that person with the personality disorder. To refresh your memory since it has been a while. People with BPD have extreme difficulty than a non-BPD person in their daily life, causing significant distress with day-to-day activities and in their relationship with others. In general, others may have trouble dealing with the personality of people with BPD.

 If you are reading this and you think everyone goes through a mood swing. Yes, that is true. A person with BPD do not go through the standard mood swing; they experience extreme mood swing, characterized by a dramatic shift of mood from a joyful excitement to extreme sadness, distress, humiliation, and irritability.

Age 26

At age 21, with the appropriate diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder, I maintained a semi-normal lifestyle, not before I experience extreme mood swings. This causes me to be expelled from college, prompting me to seek employment in undesirable places until my diagnosis. My therapist helps me understand my diagnosis and get my life in order. I learn to manage my symptoms of depression and anxiety, which causes me to feel guilty, worried, and depressed all the time. I do experience these symptoms to this day; however, they are significantly less apparent due to medications and psychotherapy. I went from feeling cheerful and pleasant, engaging in a friendly conversation with my coworker, to feeling like a cloud of smoke burning in my head one minute at work checking out a customer. These mood swings became debilitated because of the frequency and the intensity. I could understand why I was feeling that way and why my responses were intense to specific situations, and I am relieved to have my emotions regulated.

The Ultimate Road Trip

……in my blue rental car.

There was nothing blue about spending two weeks exploring these four beautiful states at my own pace. I knew I wanted to Visit Mohab in Utah, Grand Canyon, Colorado for the mountains and Albuquerque to see my friend.

These were the highlights of my solo road trip to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. 

I was amazed by the diversity of the landscape and the fantastic people.  I did not use a map; I just went wherever this Blue Toyota Camry and my national park pass took me. 

For most of my trip, it’s pretty challenging to describe the dramatic landscape. It was easier to visualize the conspicuous natural sculptures and the stunning views. This was the ultimate break I needed. All the chaos around me has consumed a prodigious amount of energy; hence I needed to recharge.  Cruizing on route 70, I saw some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I had ever seen in the United States. The roads, the history, the people, and the parks exceeded anything I imagined them to be.

Feeling frightened in Shonto on HWY 160 in AZ by the lack of life in the town, sleeping at a rest stop in Avon, Colorado was new yet a welcoming feeling. I would do it again. The experience was a surreal mix of apprehension and zeal. The restroom was spotlessly clean ( my first time at a rest stop, I might add), and my car seat was mounted with food. What could go wrong that night? Yes, everything went wrong. I ran out of gas; I was unaccustomed to pumping my gas since I never have to do that in New Jersey, sometimes I didn’t want to get out of the car in certain areas, but thanks to the drivers at the truck, stop, that gas issue was resolved. See a pattern here? Well, I do I am always the one assisting and on this road trip, I enjoyed being help not once but twice when I needed it the most.

Traveling on Route 40, the main street of America, I went from the person who would only tolerate under two hours of driving to the delight of driving over five hours daily. Traveling from Mohab, Utah, to Paige, Arizona,  was electrifying; I was eager to go further before I stop due to my fulfillment in the spectacular views on the never-ending route forcing through Kayenta, Arizona, on route 160. I was my cameraman, therapist, mechanic, and tour guide. From Laughing at the comedy club in Denver to Crying in the middle of the Indian reservation as I thought I would run out of gas yet again in that dark with fogs thick as cotton. I silently whisper a prayer.

My journey halted for a day at my friend’s home in Albuquerque. I had the opportunity to relax and recharge like old times. Heading back to Denver the next day, I was accompanied by a snowstorm. The day went by fast, and it was time to head back to Denver for my flight home. Eventually, the blue car was stuck in the snow in Pueblo, and I was eagerly assisted by a few good samaritans. What a relief it was when the car finally accelerated, and I was back on my journey.  I felt that I was so close to Denver yet so far driving 20 miles per hour.

When I returned home, my perspective and priorities have shifted. It’s amazing what a long solo trip can do for someone’s life. I learn to let go, accept and cripple most of my fears. Well, that is where I solidify my decision to relocate to another state. A decision I have made two years ago but was too afraid to actionize. That discussion is for another story. The exigent demand of life and all other issues around me took a toll on me.

Summertime

Since we are in the official season of summer, I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the warmer weather and longer days. Yes, longer days where I can do chores in the morning, meet up with friends for brunch at noon, then head up to Lake Sebago to launch my boat and be back home in time for karaoke while it’s still light out. Isn’t summer amazing? It makes you almost forget about the dismal darkness of winter. I am excited about great summer fun hiking in the Finger Lakes and picnicking on any lake that Orange County, New York, offers. I am not fond of exploring the Ocean, so I’ll skip the salt and sand to explore the Poconos mountain instead. I have wanted to go to the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and I think I might have to get up and go as I have been planning for years, and it still hasn’t happened. I’m sure many of you, like me, appreciate all of what summer has to offer.

Though summer is my third favorite season right after spring and fall ( for the colors and the smell of spices). I love the long days to provide me with more opportunities to explore. This past weekend was about family. It’s a gift to be able to hang out with your loved ones. Even though  I don’t celebrate Hallmark holidays, this past father’s day weekend I father’s day weekend, I was fortunate to spend time with my younger sister drinking beer and singing karaoke.

Fortunately for me, my moods have significantly improved over the summer over the summer; I feel a lot more adventurous, accomplished, and energetic during the summer season. During the summertime, I wear my brightest color dresses and explore all that nature has to offers. With that said, sheers to SUMMER!

A Birthday Under The Stars

Celebrating my birthday is one of the only must-do occasions that I mark on my calendar. I always go all out. So it is only natural that I share what I did for my birthday. I chose a less glamorous and commercial route and opted for a low-keyed path. I went camping. Yes, camping in the 60 degrees weather. But this time, I had a nice twin air mattress and electricity and heat. It is not my first time sleeping in a tent, sleeping outdoors, or sleeping while the rocks were piercing my skin (No, I was never homeless). Not having to be a part of a platoon does feel liberating. This time I went camping if you will on my own accord. I did not have to wake up for formation, wake up to be on guard duty, or perform a mission. This time I was sleeping under the star in the great town of Youngstown, near wine country and the spectacular Niagara Falls, NY.

My lil tent
Campfire
The rainbow from the water mist
Niagara Falls,NY

I am delighted to have written eight journal entries to reflect on my life for the past month. That is an increase from the usual page and a half of incomplete thoughts. I excitingly start off to write only to be overwhelmed with remembering all that I wanted to let our or simply ruminating only to forget why I stuttered writing. That is remarkable because lately, I usually struggle to write about the painful aspects of my life. You see, many of my experiences in this life journey for the past six months have been unbearable.

On my way ,passing these animals

We all agree that the past 18 months have been life-changing for many, and there have been some unexpected unwelcoming devastating changes. Work, personal and transitional-related issues, when not taken care of, becomes an unbalanced issue. I love the outdoors; that is no secret; it is there that I find peace and solace. It is unconventional, and my actions have been called weird for those who cannot see beyond the superficial pleasure of life when they learn that I visit parks and sleep. I do not sleep because I am tired. The feeling of being in nature mindful of the natural smell, greenery, the water, and all that encompasses in that natural environment has been a sedative in my life.

The drive was very therapeutic; nothing beats listening to some narrative music (I made that up by describing music that tells a compelling story with an electric beat. On the journey, I heard favorite motivational speaker Les Brown and some of my favorite country music. My all-time favorite motivational speaker, Les Brown, and the legendary brown with life-changing podcasts, with some afro beats, can’t leave that out.

Borderline Chronicles Double Divided: Unstable Relationship

Part 3.

West Point, New York

It isn’t easy to maintain a balanced relationship if you suffer from BPD. A person with borderline personality presents with an intense fear of abandonment. As I mentioned in my last trait, “efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment,” a person with BPD may self-sabotage, walking away from relationships or friendships before the other person ends the relationship.

Often these fears are unreal, and at times due to self-sabotage, the person living with BPD may act in a particular manner that pushes others from them. That in itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Subsequently, this becomes a cycle where the person living with borderline believes it is inevitable for everyone to leave.

Furthermore, people living with BPD can fall in and out of love quickly. They can convince themselves that someone they went on one date with is the love of their life, and a few weeks later, they argue, and that person becomes the worst person in the world. This intense feeling has to do with idealizing someone and most likely idealized someone when they view them as desirable and devalue someone if they perceive them as unfavorable.

Age 24

I have had four serious relations ship in the past year and a half. I dated and lived with Steven for five months before my current boyfriend. My present boyfriend, I met while dating my previous boyfriend, who I could not connect with as the things he does make me resent him more every day. Then I met Chad, who was a friend in the beginning. He was everything I could ask for, caring, respectful, and such a complete gentleman. The total opposite of Brandon, who was incomparable. After Brandon and I had a terrible fight Chad and I started dating. I eventually ended it with my boyfriend and Chad, and I moved in together a month later. Chad was my world. I could not do anything without him. Then I Spenser after Chad broke up with me after finding out I was still speaking to Brandon. My erratic behavior confuses and frustrates my friends, family members, and my exes. I feel helpless as if I am not in control. It is not after six months of treatment and being single for seven months, loving myself that I see the value in me. I struggle daily. However, healing takes place every day in my life.

NO-NO Stress

It is ok to say no, it is a part of life. We say yes and no every time, being respectful in your communication is more important than worrying about saying no to others.

Like many people, I have this problem most of the time saying no, especially at work. Indeed it is wonderful for my colleagues, sadly not for me. Lately, I have thought about this quite often and I have come to the conclusion that saying yes entirely depends on where the answer comes from. Yes, it is an amazing feeling wanting to help others, but do you help others because you have been guilted to do so. The guilt of knowing you can help the person but didn’t even if it is not your job to do so makes me rarely say no. Oftentimes I find myself performing tasks at work that are not part of my job description or task that I am not thrilled about. Despite that, I explain and do it anyway because I don’t want to let someone down or I was guilted into it with the infamous line “take one for the team”. And who wants to let their team down right?

Manipulative people can reel those that are empathetic and naturally people pleasers. In that sense not saying no becomes a weakness. When you continue to perform a task out of guilt there is an established resentment towards yourself and those that are asking you to perform the task.

You begin to feel indignation that you go against your will to say no just to say yes. To prevent resentment the first thing that you need to do is ask yourself, do I want to do this or have I simply been made to feel bad if I don’t comply. If it is in your heart to do it then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you don’t want to, then say no. When I do say no I go into a long explanation because it comes back to guilt again. If people can make you feel bad enough when you say no they have you right where they want you. 

Know the implications of saying yes. I remember after graduation I started at a company where I wanted to make an impact. A mid lever manager asked me to reach out to a patient from another department. This would mean that I would have to access her chart to document the conversation. From the moment I read the request in the email to the in-person discussion with that manager, I felt uncomfortable, but I did it anyway. To make a lengthy story direct, I got an email from her boss’s boss questioning why I was in this patient’s chart. Had I listen to myself and not the desire to make a good impression I would `not have complied, initially explained why this is not my job, and provided an alternative for someone in that department to perform the task. From that moment on it was firm in my mind that saying no was ok even if I have to provide an explanation or propose an alternative, whether it is an alternative person or timing. I still renege on that affirmation more than I would like to admit. It is ok to say no. We have this self-created fear that the other person may feel bad or think we are being rude. 

Normally I say yes to the daily small request because it may seem so simple. I have done this before doing it again won’t hurt I say. Yet, these little requests overtime become a time-consuming and stressful trend. I have learned to set boundaries with my co-workers. As much as I am flattered that I am the go-to person for the unattainable task I have to set boundaries in order not to overexert myself and fall behind on my assignments.

One thing I tell myself as I get older is that if the person is open-minded, he/she will understand when you say no. The bottom line is that I have been past situations where I was worried about saying no because I was afraid the person would be disappointed, or unhappy, and bridges would be burned. And while it took me time to convey the message, nothing bad happened from saying no.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Double Divided: Identity Disturbance

Part 2.

BPD Chronicles

This is the second post describing the account of the real-life experience on the second trait/diagnostic criteria of BPD.

 

Identity disturbance: characterized by significant persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Generally, a person with BPD sometimes asks the question who am I. There is a chronic inside battle of self-identity that is sometimes manifested in the way people with BPD interact in their environment and express themselves. For instance, the identity disturbance can be manifested in a  person who changes their appearance, hair color, hairstyles what they wear tattoos piercings, the way they talk, etc. You see, there is an actual absence of knowing who they are and this severe identity disturbance sometimes looks like they take on different personas.

 Age 28

I have a BSN and I have a job that I am passionate about most of the time. I own a condo yet I feel like I am not doing enough in life I just feel that something is missing. One minute I want to be a nurse the next minute I am talking to a college advisor to pursue a career in public policy, something I impulsively decided to do. I have always dreamt of being a nurse and now that I am not fulfilled. Though I am single and able to provide for myself, I have a boyfriend that adores me but that’s still not enough. I constantly donate my clothing because I feel like I have outgrown the style, then few months later I desire to have those same clothes that I donated. I change my sense of dressing from classy and sheet to buying crop top and booty shorts, a style that doesn’t suit my personality but I impulsively thought a change was needed. Every month when I go to work you can be sure to expect a new person either my accent and presentation has changed, my hair has changed from brunette to red, the next month it’s blond. I even dyed my hair pink and was asked by a supervisor to change it. My goals and values have constantly changed since I can recognize them.

Mental Health Matters

Mental health matters every day.

Let us normalize seeing a therapist. Normalize the feeling of being lonely anxious and depressed. Why wait for one calendar month out of 365 days of the year to raise awareness for those living with mental or behavioral health issues. Reduce the mark of disgrace associated with behavioral health issues and seeking help to address those issues.


Make it intolerable for people to stigmatize those living or recovering from a mental illness. Let us not wait until May to spread the awareness or until someone close to us has reached their demise.
Imagine this…when we are sick the first instinct is to see the doctor, if we break a leg or if there is a rash on our body we go to see a physician, and to everyone that is acceptable. Make it acceptable for people to see a therapist or psychiatrist when they’re feeling sad, depressed anxious, and unable to manage their mental state. If you visit an internist it means you’re taking care of your health…yes being proactive, preventative measure they say. On the other hand, if you visit a psychiatrist you’re crazy, something is seriously wrong with you. Physical illness can be linked to mental illness and a psychiatrist can be the one to determine the severity of a mental condition and the impact that it may have on one of your organs…the brain. Over the years we have made substantial changes in the way we view mental health. The conversation about mental health has changed and people are talking and recognizing the symptoms but we still have a long way to go.