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nursing my sanity

emotional memory

artist unknown

when i look at myself in the mirror, I frequently experience feeling suddenly exposed by my appearance. i have been out in the world looking like that, and no one said anything?

when i express myself, i frequently experience feeling suddenly mortified by what I have written or said. i shared that? what was i thinking?

I experience catastrophic self-doubt, humiliation, mortification.

it’s as if everyone can see right through the lie in me, what i am unknowingly trying to hide.

everyone knows but me, until the retrospect and i am aghast.

don’t look in the mirror,

and don’t present. just be.

that is my sanity.

my transparency & humility with all of this,

my acceptance of more than one Self and the fact that they disagree with, and contradict, each other sometimes,

my acceptance of the fact that i am not consistent and coherent —

that, is even more my sanity.

it’s so much more than vanity and being hard on myself; it’s a fluctuating sense of identity and confidence, that changes so drastically and frequently that i cannot keep up.

i can only accept this reality and live transparently with it.
view it with curiosity and share the adventure.



disability application process

Today I met with an agent at an organization called ‘Cowichan Independent Living.’ They provide assistance to those applying for permanent disability.

I was quite nervous that I would be misunderstood as a fraud and an attention seeker, but was pleasantly surprised to be received with sympathy, compassion, respect and support.

Generally, I am hesitant even to share my process here. Who knows where it will go. My hesitancy is the fence post i so often find myself upon — whether I am a gifted leader and artist or a patient in the lock-down psych ward. Whether I am minimizing or over-dramatizing. I have chronic confusion around this. One day, I wonder what all the fuss was about. I’m fine. What the hell was I complaining about. The next day, i wonder if I should admit myself into the hospital.

And so, here I am, embarking on this path, being met with compassion and support. No one is saying I don’t fit in, or I shouldn’t bother applying, and to some degree, this is still shocking to me. To another degree, it is the biggest relief of my life.

The rep at CIL read what I had written, expressed sympathy and invested his compassion in hearing my disability. We began by making a list of key words, and we began the process of putting my history into words–what are the events and experiences that have brought me to this application.

It’s daunting, and it could have been more terrifying, considering I had met this person at a social event in my neighbourhood a few weeks ago, and he remembered me. But his response was so genuinely caring that any embarrassment was soothed. He said how glad he was that I had found CIL, and that I he felt there was more the organization could do for me, beyond the disability application.

What remains intact in me so far is a striving for integration, a wholistic approach to the term ‘disability.’ The possiblity that I am both gifted and talented as well as requiring a higher level of emotional support, more processing time, and less stimuli and pressure on an ongoing basis.

As I was telling the rep about what I experience, it was clarifying how the things I go through really are exceptional and hindering to many things that the status quo take for granted.

This is quite a radical shift in how I view and present myself in the world. Quite the transition, quite the process of integration I am in.

I’m not sure how much I’m going to post on here about this as it evolves, but I’ll share this snippet that came to me at 3 AM last night:

I have an incredible diversity in me — an abnormal range on the scale of confidence. I go from being able to present myself confidently with warmth, humor, intelligence and leadership to social phobia, indecisiveness, insecurity, isolation and hopelessness. I have a regression into the later rarely less than once every week. It makes a fool out of me. Makes it hard to trust myself, know how to present myself.
This range of confidence is a significant part of my illness. I have difficulty maintaining social connections and community involvement and frequently feel disconnected, somehow at odds with the flow of things. People misunderstand me, call me a fraud and say that I am faking it for attention. They cannot imagine that someone who seems so competent and confident could also be at an emotional / psychological / social / economic disadvantage. And, because I compulsively hide the darker end of my experience, it’s easy for people to disbelieve that it exists. It’s even easy for me to forget how it feels until I am back in it. For the most part, the most that people would see of it is a shyness and awkwardness that seems out of character. A childlike quality where once there was a leader; someone with professional knowledge and expertise to offer. A shy person where once there was a ‘life-of-the-party.’ A person who doesn’t show up for things, who once seemed so gung-ho and like such a positive addition to any event. They are not sure how to take me — do they look up to me or bring on the extra compassion and support for me? Few of them I’m sure realize how much I share in their confusion. They do not engage in the relationship; it’s not a conscious decision, but rather like an inadvertent, unconscious rejection. There is nothing solid for them to attach to, so no attachment is formed.

I feel incredibly vulnerable posting this. I fight with myself in this process, with my insecurities and the chronic confusion over what is real. I’m going to try it out and give myself permission to change my mind and remove this post. It’s a fragile thing.

Luv Underground


authenticating my symptoms — manic manifests as confusion

Confusion Pool Optical Illusion (unknown artist)

Confusion Pool Optical Illusion (unknown artist)

Today, I am coming out of a week or so of extreme confusion. What has allowed me to come out of it is to find the words to describe it, and begin the process of identifying myself in the DSM, identifying my own personalized symptoms of unrest and ill health.

This is a process that the traditional mental health system, in my experience here, seems to continually attempt to skip. Identifying symptoms is simply referring to the criteria for diagnosis and making a diagnosis, then skipping immediately to the actions of recovery that one must inevitably take on their own, such as self-care, structure, routine and balance of play and productivity — “self-reliance”, “self-soothing”, and “mood regulation”.

What is being skipped is what I will call “authentic identification” with the aspects of ill health referred to for diagnosis (below), as well as identifying also authentically, how I have come to this state of illness.

How has/does this illness manifest in me, how has/does it affect my life / ability to live well, how do i know if I am living well, and what are the aspects I most need to work on?

Authenticating my symptoms

When I read the DSM-V’s criteria for diagnosis, some items are easy for me to identify with, such as chronic emptiness, fear of abandonment, suicidality and disturbances in identity; but honestly, the others needed to qualify me as having BPD have felt like a bit of a stretch, or that I was over-dramatizing and exagerating my experience of them in order to fit myself into the illness (because without the illness, there is nothing to blame, and I must really be a totally and hopelessly fucked up person who doesn’t qualify for help. I must be a whiny baby who just wants attention, but doesn’t really need it).

BOREDOM (leads to impulsivity, mania, compulsive escape and denial)

unknown image

unknown image

One of the things that a lot of the literature on BPD talks about is boredom; but, how is that a “symptom”? Of course, we all feel bored. If you are bored, you do something to entertain yourself right? Duh. But I’m starting to see that this aspect as a criteria of illness is not referring to the common experience of boredom. I’m encountering boredom because my life does not have a clear focus, or structure, to it that is acceptable or valid to the mainstream society or to the traditional mental health profession; and what I’m starting to see is that this boredom drives me to my version of a manic state, which encapsulates the other DSM criteria of impulsivity.

My version of mania is a constant state of mental and emotional arousal — always something on the go, ideas brewing, people to call, places to go. This is a state of chaos — procrastinating everything, meeting deadlines and appointments at the last minute, or being late, forgetting to eat, and losing things daily, like keys, wallet, etc; floating in nowhere land, drifting aimlessly from one distraction to the next, getting farther and farther away from the moment, my need for escape intensifying by the day. All the while that this has been developing, there was a strong sense of denial in me — a lie that I became increasingly desperate to believe, that all this activity was a sign of my recovery and my growing ability to return to “normal” life.

Before naming these symptoms and realizing that i have actually not been well, what I was aware of was a state of extreme confusion, and the feeling that there were too many things on my brain to do, which felt like having my hair in braids that are too tight, only it was my brain that was being braided. I was not talking to fellow recovery friends because of this confusion — not knowing how I was really doing, simply escaping into tasks and deadlines of productivity, and being completely blind-sighted by the question, “How are you doing?”

I am learning that what is needed to return myself to balance is to slow down, simplify, pull-back in my external responsibilities and socializing, write, and revise my daily goals to the simple act of living — sleeping, eating, resting at home, and CoDA step work.

What has come out of putting words to these symptoms is that I have written a “diary card”, which I will post separately here. Comin’ up …

HJ Blessings.

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what’s your tagline (cloud)?

I recently visited junemoon’s blog and found myself envious of her tags. Very strange, you say. I know, it is a little strange to envy someone’s tags — perhaps a sign of our blogging times?

I was envious because I was seeing her tags as words to describe her and her interests, and I thought, wow, what are the words that describe my interests? The question leapt to mind with a pang as I looked at my own tag cloud, with so many tags of mental illness. Yes, that has been a strong focus lately — providing information, ending stigma, speaking out. And yes, I feel good about those posts, and that they do accurately reflect a sincere interest in me. And yet, there is so much more to me. Maybe one blog cannot possibly express all of my muses. Already, I do have two, but I rarely post on the other one; it is more like a record of a particular project of mine, which in many ways has ended, though it has also simply evolved into the realm of alternative healing. Anyway, there are all these parts of me that long to be expressed.

So, I am inspired to post a list of tags that express it all. I may try to work these in to more of my posts on here, so these are the ones that show up in my tag cloud. I guess I could call these my “dream tags”:

change, comfort, connections, craving, curiosity, belonging, depression, faith, gratitude, healing, home, identity, confusion, imagination, inspiration, memories, mood, mortaility, nature, new beginnings, personal musings, perspective, reflection, rituals, seasons, spirituality, winter, ancient wisdom, rituals, ceremony, deep

So, what are YOUR dream tags?