Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

I was sitting outside (okay, so I admit I was having a cigarette) when I saw one of my neighbours walking up the back path towards me.

I said: “Hi”
He said: “How are you?”
I said: “Good”

And that was it. I had lied through my teeth, but it was okay because he just kept on walking and then walked in his door, leaving me to contemplate what I had just done. The conversations (if you can call them that) I have with this neighbour never amount to much more. I have similar conversations with another neighbour. I lie to him too. But that’s how we talk to most neighbours, isn’t it?

This time I was struck with how easily the “good” rolled off my tongue when actually I was feeling anything but good. Would it matter if I said, “good” in answer to any such questions, for the rest of my days? Does anyone actually want anything beyond this lie?

It’s easy to say, and it’s easy to hear. I’m not requiring anything of you when I answer your question this way. You can just keep going about your day. Even for friends and family, it’s easier that way. No need for you to do or say anything. I’ve given you a ‘free pass’.

But I could get side-tracked by that as I write. It’s easier for me if I don’t tell you how I really am here, on my blog, either. Maybe it’s easier reading for you too. But I’m going to push myself to not opt for the easy. You see, I’m not good. Actually, I’m struggling.

I know you want to read positive stuff on a blog that refers so often to hope, but right now I’m struggling to find my hope.

My mood is dropping and I am fairly sure it has to do with the stress in my life right now. The more stress, and the more I struggle. My stress comes mostly from caring for my mother. She needs more from me now, but has less to give me in return. She mostly knows who I am. She certainly always still recognises me, but clearly has trouble connecting that recognition to the right person. Me. Sometimes she thinks I’m her sister and she used to mistake me for my father. That doesn’t happen so much now. She struggles to remember him at all (he died nearly six years ago). Nearly 54 years of marriage seemingly wiped from memory! This illness is so cruel.

It’s hard. I don’t have expectations of her, but it’s not easy day after day, teaching her the same things. Telling her stories of her life. It would be heartbreaking no matter who she was, but this is my mother. All the things she taught me as I child, I now teach her. And I feel very alone in this.

There’s more, though.

My eating is considerably off track, and to even admit that much takes an enormous amount of courage. Much more will require more than simply an empty screen before me. You’re just not going to get the details, this time anyway.

In the last year, I have lost 17 kilograms with no conscious effort. I know, lots of people would love that to happen, and true I love that I have lost it. I needed to, I was overweight (yes, people who have had Anorexia twice can be overweight!) but I hadn’t done anything to lose it. It has really gone through firstly ill health back at the middle of 2016, and the rest I guess, has been through stress.

The reason I’m telling you this though is that unless you have been where I’ve been you have no idea how tantalisingly dangerous it is. Seventeen unconscious kilos are tempting me to consciously step back onto the eating disorder ‘merry-go-round’ (don’t think for one moment though, that such a move would be the fun of the fair!).

I don’t make it a habit to weigh myself, mostly because of this reason. It’s too easy to get taken in by one kilo lost and before you know it I’ve been sucked into losing 20 or 50. I was weighed when I was admitted to hospital briefly back in July. I saw then that I had lost seven kilos. Then I was admitted to hospital briefly a few weeks ago for an minor procedure. The deadly mistake was looking down at the scales. And I choose to use the word ‘deadly’ because that’s exactly what it can be when you have an eating disorder.

So I admit it. I am back to considering every mouthful. And part of me hates being back there, but I admit, part of me loves it. That’s the ‘deadly’ part.

But then, there is more…

  • My black and white thinking is very definitely more black and less white.
  • There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Whoever said there was, was fooling me.
  • Everyone is against me. I struggle to think anything different. I can’t believe that anyone would be on my side.
  • I said a few weeks back that I would write about anxiety. Meanwhile,it’s just getting bigger and bigger. And yes, more consuming
  • Is the sun going to rise tomorrow? Right now, I just don’t know.
  • I’ve come to a new appreciation of people who choose to keep their curtains pulled shut through the day. Sometimes it’s a way to cut the world out. They can’t get me! I fool myself so easily!

I’m sorry if you came here for a post full of recovery and hope. I guess what I need to say to you is that recovery and hope is not a linear journey. Sometimes the dark overwhelms us. Sometimes people are throwing so many lemons at us, that it is almost impossible to make the damned lemonade. Sometimes all we can do is throw the lemons back. Let someone else make the lemonade, I’d rather have a coke.

Thanks for reading

 

Cate

How Borderline Personality Disorder Feels To Me

CAUTION: This post contains issues of self-harm and suicidality, although not in any great detail (but you have been warned).

I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

That’s no big news for regular readers but if you’re new, it is important that I say this from the outset. I have BPD. That’s the angle that I am coming from.

Many people with BPD choose not to admit to having it, mostly for the simple reason that there is a great deal of stigma attached to the disorder. But that’s not what I want to talk about, although I hope that what I say might be in some small way helpful towards smashing that stigma.

Another reason people with BPD don’t talk about their disorder is that it is a very difficult disorder to talk about. There are many variations (think over 200), and that means that what people feel and experience is going to be different for practically every person who has it.

If there is one thing I have consistently failed at as a writer, it is to describe what BPD feels like for me in a way that satisfied my desire to get it across to others. I have tried many times. I just haven’t managed to describe it as I really feel it. Every time I have written a post about BPD I have finished feeling dissatisfied. I might have got some aspect across, but I didn’t describe how BPD is for me.

While I was diagnosed as having BPD some five years ago, I admit that for as many doctors who have said I had BPD, more said I probably don’t. They said I wasn’t typical of people with BPD. Even more said it wouldn’t be good for me to have that diagnosis (in my mind a strange thinking for diagnosing a health issue). Only those who said I do have BPD were willing to listen and hear that my experience is that BPD matches both my emotions and behaviour.

To me, it wasn’t specifics that spelt BPD but rather an intrinsic way in which I deal with my emotions and my relationships with others. Face it, that’s hard stuff to talk about.

But here are the issues for me (in no particular order).

I  am completely paranoid. I expect that friends/family are about to leave me or say awful things about me. They are constantly (in my mind) one step away from leaving me or hurting me.

You name it, a lightbulb might blow… to an argument with a friend/family member, and I will (over) react by thinking it’s time to kill myself. Yes, it’s time to kill myself because it is an assumption that one day I will commit suicide and people would always be better off without me. It’s just a matter of time! Remember this is thinking rather than actions, although given enough thought and common depressive thought, BPD will drive me in that direction.

I think that the best thing for me is to leave you… before you leave me. It would be best to quit my job just in case my boss is about to sack me. Actually this is exactly what I did in my last job. I thought they were about to sack me, so I quit. Actually I later found out that they had no intention of sacking me and were disappointed when I suddenly left.

While I haven’t self-harmed for about four years, I regularly mull over thoughts of self-harm, particularly if something in my life goes bad. It’s not that I ever got any form of high from my years of self-harming (it was about control), but I just don’t value my body enough to say “no!” to myself. Thankfully it has been four years of fighting the urge rather than actions, but to be honest, it doesn’t get easier.

Self-harm, for me, is not just cutting, etc but also includes substance abuse, extreme dieting, smoking, and excessive exercise. That’s my way of thinking about it and I accept that you may not agree. For me, it is all the negative ways I use to control myself and my body, not to mention exerting pain on myself. Not surprising now that I experience more physical pain through fibromyalgia, I am less likely to think about exerting physical pain, through self harm, on myself.

I constantly think in ‘black or white’. Good or bad. Right or wrong. I can’t for the life of me even comprehend ‘grey’. It would be so much easier if I could. I try, but I am yet to master seeing the whole spectrum.

It is possible for me to have no idea what I feel. Is it happy or sad? Is it hate or love? It is difficult, at times, to know. Maybe I feel both, at the same time. It can be right on the borderline.

My emotions can cause me pain. The great Marsha Linehan says that people with BPD are like emotional third-degree burns victims. Personally I’m not fond of that analogy, but perhaps because I don’t see that my emotions hurt me as much as physical burns victims suffer from their injuries. I hasten to add though that I claim that statement as my own but not for others. I get that for others their emotions cause as much pain as physical pain. I know many people who have BPD who would say Marsha Linehan’s analogy is completely appropriate for them.

I admit, with some reluctance, that I am inclined to think that everything is about me. In a time of extreme unwellness, I thought that 9/11 was about me. I can’t remember my reasoning but it made perfect sense to me at the time. But more commonly I assume that negative events, such as arguments and the like, are my ‘fault’. Interestingly I don’t apply the same logic to positive events. Perhaps I am only interested in destroying my health, happiness or well-being.

I have a tendency to be impulsive. I admit I have shoplifted (ok, so only once). As a child, I regularly stole from my parents. I constantly have to be careful not to engage in compulsive shopping, spending, drinking and thinking. All that said, I have rarely been impulsive in relationships, even if at times, I have failed to think things through as much as I ought

And lastly, because this is one that appeals to me, people with BPD are sometimes prone to, what one author I read called, magical thinking in which they use unrealistic thoughts and beliefs to solve problems in their life (Robert Friedel in Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified, 2004). I admit that I do this (I’m not going to go into detail), although have never before seen it attributed as relating to BPD. My psychiatrist prefers to call it my ‘weirdness’.

Having written all that (and apologies for the length), I think I have gone somewhat closer to describing BPD as it feels to me, but, I am somewhat terrified. Firstly, how are you going to treat me now that you have seen inside? But secondly, I need to remind you that this is me. It is not how it is for others with BPD. Maybe some of it might apply, but just as easily, some of it won’t.

With the distinct possibility that I have not succeeded in what I set out to do with this post, I am including a link to another person’s version of what BPD feels like. I found it very useful and the temptation was to post it simply as it is. But I needed to do the ‘Cate version’, which would only ever be written. I hope you take time to watch. For each person who chooses to tell what BPD feels like to them, I believe more will learn and experience what BPD really is, and maybe one day the stigma against us will reduce.

I have such an unstable sense of self that I fear my post will somehow destroy me and my relationships. Somehow it will confirm what I have suspected to be your earlier suspicions that I am a fake, a fraud and just too much work. I am posting it anyway because I know that writing this has somehow been a good journey for me. As much as I hope you have learnt something, I know that I have learnt. It is good for me to be able to say “this is how it feels to me”.

One last thing I need you to know. You don’t have to try to somehow assure me that I’m not that fake, fraud or whatever. You don’t have to assure me of anything. All I wanted to do is done. I have shared how it is for me.

Thanks for reading

 

Cate

 

I Don’t Do Grey, Not Even Fifty Shades

Fifty Shades of Grey
Image credit: flickr.com

I’m not sure why anyone,especially E L James, would expect someone who has extreme aversion to the colour grey to read her trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey.  I don’t do grey.  I’d like to, although let me be clear, I have no desire to ‘do grey’ it in this manner.  People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are well-known for their black and white thinking.  I am no different.  Much as I try, I so often find myself seeing only black or white.

You have to agree that it would a bit of a joke for a ‘no shades of grey’ person like me to enjoy, or rave over this book.  Actually I am completely black and white on it.  Yet again, there is no grey because this is rubbish.  Okay to be honest I only read 100 pages of the first book.  By that time I was nauseated and decided there were plenty more books that I’d rather spend my time on.

I started to read it out of pure curiosity.  In a country where selling books is pretty hard, this book had completely sold out.  All I can say is that it was a complete waste of money.

Are relationships really about how character Christian Grey puts them across?  What’s more are women really just play things?  Actually I hated the way women were portrayed in the 100 pages I read.  And had I carried on I am sure I would have eventually hated every man, as well as hating myself.

I am so much more than that.  I will always be so much more than that, and my lasting regret will be that I put more money into the author’s purse.  For some reason women all over the world have been flocking to read this.  I have no idea why.   If I ever find myself thinking that is what life is about, I’ll hope for an early death.

Can anyone tell me what is so good about this Trilogy?  Am I alone in my apparent naivety?  Is there not more to being a woman than this?

Now I’ll get back to something that is worth reading…

Meanwhile this sums it up:

“While Twilight is flawed in its writing style, at least the story line paints a picture of loving and committed relationships – something that is completely butchered in 50 Shades of Grey.”

 – Book review from Escape into Life.com

All or Nothing Kind of Girl

If only I truly believed what the picture says!

Yup!  I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.  All or nothing thinking, or black and white thinking or splitting is widely recognised as being a trait associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  I’m not about to give a lecture of BPD but you too can learn all you want with the touch of a few keys.  A good place to start is here.  For as long as I can remember I’ve been thinking this way, and even years before I got my BPD diagnosis I could see that there was something in that style of thinking that worked for me.  Everything was black or white.  There was absolutely no grey.  I remember years ago having a discussion with my psychotherapist about my marriage.  He was trying to help me to see that there were more than two options available to me.  All I could see what either I leave, or I stay and get used to what I had.  There literally wasn’t a bit of me that could see there were other options.  And sure enough some months later I opted to leave the marriage.  It hindsight it was probably the best thing for both of us, but my point is that it was totally beyond me to see that other alternatives existed.

Now days with the benefit of a whole lot more therapy I am starting to see that grey exists.  Frankly I still don’t like it.  It’s far too wishy-washy for my liking.  I actually like thinking I only have two options but it does leave me kind of limited.

I have spent the last five days in what I think is known as a fibro flare-up.  I’m new to fibromyalgia but if that wasn’t a flare-up then I dare not think what one will be like.  I have been in a great deal of pain, as opposed to the everyday, usual pain, and I have slept a lot.  No matter how much sleep I got, I still needed more.  But now I’ve got to the stage where I hate my bed and I hate sleeping.  Actually I’ll correct that I don’t hate sleeping, but I DO hate waking up.  That is agony.  As an example yesterday I slept in the afternoon and when I woke my legs felt like they were double their size and had been burnt raw.  It really felt like the skin had been burnt off my legs, and if I, or anyone dared touch them or move them, I would be sent through the roof with horrific pain.  This is a regular occurrence.  That’s how they felt but I knew this wasn’t the case, and so eventually I dared to move them.  I was back to the ‘great deal of pain’ but not the agony I thought it would be.  Still it was enough to put me off going to sleep again.  I can’t decide.  Do I curl up and go to sleep like I think will help?  Or do I avoid it at all costs because of the perceived pain and of course the real pain I wake up with purely because I haven’t moved recently?  I’m fighting with myself right now because what I want to do is the old ‘all or nothing’, and not go to sleep at all.  But I know I can’t not sleep.  I can’t work out how to have grey.  Any ideas???

Again I fight with my ‘all of nothing’ thinking as today it’s cold and wet.  Actually it’s the first day this year (and remember it’s autumn – fall here) when I have considered turning the heating on.  This is another battle I have every year, and right through winter.  In New Zealand we don’t have the extremes in temperatures that other countries have.  Yet it is cold enough that we need heating in our homes.  For most people that’s fine, and I should point out that I have perfectly adequate heating here.  It’s just that I struggle to let myself use it.  All or nothing comes in because I either decide I won’t have any heating (unless I know someone is coming to visit) or I’ll put it on and to hell with it – too bad about the electricity bill.  Why am I talking to you about my power bill?  Because it’s a good example of BPD thinking.  I live on my own, and I’d like to think that if I lived with other people I would accept the heating being on.  But for me I think I don’t need it.  It’s just me so it doesn’t matter if it’s cold.  I can just go to bed or I can put another layer on.  I just can’t allow myself to have the luxury of being warm.  I can’t just say I am worth it.  It’s sounds ridiculous and maybe it is, but I go through this conversation with myself daily right through the colder part of the year.  It’s all or nothing.  I can’t just turn the heater off when the room gets warm, or use the thermostat.  I have to deny myself warmth.

That said, all is not lost and last year I finally began to let myself have heating.  It didn’t help that my house is badly damaged thanks to earthquakes, so is fairly draughty.  The power bill was horrendous.  But hey, I guess at least I was warm.  As for today, I’ve decided (optimistically) that this is a one-off and warmth will return tomorrow.  I still can’t bring myself to just put it on when I’m cold.  It’s time my therapist came back from his Easter break!