- I hate the word ‘positive’ or any of its derrivatives. It reminds me of all the people who said ‘just think positive’ when what i actually needed was a complete mental breakdown, a major overhaul on my life, a relocation and a radical shift in my daily reality. It’s also dangerously close to my other personal ‘favorite’: “You’re choosing to see the negative.” Actually, the later one there is worse than the ‘be positive’ one but not by much. they both make me want to vomit or murder someone, or both, while screaming, in public.
- In case you haven’t noticed, I do have an extremely dry, dark and sarcastic sense of humour that comes out in me from time to time, or when I am irritable, such as today. I also have a wide-eyed clown character who likes to come out with any sort of physical comedy going on. Sometimes I’m hip and chic; sometimes I’m a hippy, sometimes I’m a preppy, sometimes I’m a wise old bird wearing flowy fabrics and speaking my intuition like a psychic, and sometimes I’m a redneck because I like to smoke weed.
- I’m extremely timid and fearful, but under certain circumstances, I can become a daredevil / adrenaline junky. It runs in my family. My dad forced me onto Montezuma’s Revenge ride at Knot’s Berry Farm when I was four years old, much to the alarm and disdain of the crowds waiting in the line up with us, who witnessed a little girl crying and screaming that she didn’t want to go, and her father forcing her anyway. Thing is, I wanted to go again and again after that first one.
- One of my compulsive activities is jigsaw puzzles. I can spend 12 hours or even several days with few breaks completing a puzzle from beginning to end. I have to finish it once I begin, and that can wreak a little havok in my life.
- People who know me well, will only talk to me once they’ve confirmed that I have had my coffee. No one calls me before 10am.
- Nothing will have me losing all politeness, maturity, self-restraint and diplomacy skills more quickly than bureaucracy – passport applications, large corporations who rip people off, electronic answering systems, long and needlessly wordy document or department names, being put on hold for longer than 20 minutes with ridiculous elevator music.
- I’ve always gravitated to those women older than me, but I am never fully accepted by them as an equal friend because of my age. This has been the case since I was a teenager. I feel like I don’t fit in where I am supposed to. I am often a loner, but unbearably ashamed and embarrassed by it.
- I often end up leaving the house too late in the day to accomplish everything I set out to do that day. It’s like my clock is not aligned with the rest of society. My lunch break is often at 4 o’clock, with dinner at 9, bed at 1 or 2am. I have tried to change this in several different settings, to no avail.
- I am often struck with creative urges or emotional revelations between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. If I do not get it out of my system, it goes away and is no where to be found the next day. So, I am impulsive and compulsive in my creativity and personal growth, and I cannot see another way of being in these aspects.
- I am intrinsically either just in the nick of time, or late, to most appointments.
The parallels between Codependency and BPD have been obvious to me from the start, but I had never heard anyone else speak about this.
Also, here are 2 downloadable documents from the above sites, which i found to be quite illuminating, even after I have heard of, discussed and read about boundaries and codependency for many years.
- Codependency (cherished79.wordpress.com)
- When Altruism Goes Wrong (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Tackle Insecurities in Relationships, Find Out If You Are Codependent (personalsunitedstates.wordpress.com)
- My Brother is an alcoholic (journeysinrecovery.wordpress.com)
- Detaching in Love (toddlohenry.com)
- “I Have A Fear Of Being Alone & Don’t Know How To Break The Cycle Of Codependency” (hellobeautiful.com)
- Introduction to Codependence (psychologymatters.asia)
- Daily Recovery Reading – October 19,2011 (12stepsthinkaboutit.org)
When I saw my family doctor the other day, I told her that I was unclear and concerned about my care plan at my local mental health branch of the
Vancouver Island Health Authority (government funded mental health facility, referred to as VIHA). Her response and the discussion that ensued was one of the most useful conversations I have had with a medical professional here, despite the fact that it caused me to go into a dissociative state of depression, the subject of my recent post ‘authenticating my symptoms — dissociation & its ingredients. The state of dissociation from abandonment and invalidation has shifted to one of anger and activism that motivates me to write this article.
Although the stated mission of VIHA is “Serving and involving the people of the islands to maintain and improve health,” and although their website is rife with terms such as “Accountability”, “Quality of Care” and “Competence”; in my experience, which has now been confirmed by my family doctor in a generous and compassionate moment of candid honesty, treatment leading to recovery is not a realistic expectation of the services VIHA is currently able to provide.
The bottom line is that while psychotherapy and, in the case of BPD, DBT in its true and traditional format, have proven themselves to be the most effective in recovery from mental health issues and addiction; in BC, mental health patients pay for therapy themselves. Furthermore, professional therapists who are privately paid for, while being the most integral part of most recoveries, do not have the authority to sign government paperwork to qualify a person for (short-term orlong-term) disability support. So who does have this authority? The word “authority” in VIHA implies that VIHA does.
So, if VIHA is not offering the therapy that leads to recovery, what are they offering? The answer that my own personal experience of VIHA has provided so far, and which was emulated by the candid conclusions of my doctor, is that VIHA provides a monitoring and reporting service to the BC Ministry of Social Development’s program of Social and Disability Assistance.
This conclusion is not meant to dis-credit VIHA for the fact that it does provide immediate, critical care to people in crisis. Relative to the rest of the world, I don’t view it as any small grace that there is a crisis line, short-term emergency hospitalization and crisis counseling available to people in crisis. The area of care I am examining in this article is how a person with limited financial means who has been through a crisis, or experiences a cycle of crisis’ in their lives, finds long-term treatment and recovery for themselves. My point is that finding these services is not as straight forward as VIHA seems to imply; that actually, VIHA and related government services currently offer little in the goal of long-term recovery and sustainable well-being.
My doctor supported my conclusion that my contact with VIHA services serves one sole purpose that does not include the therapeutic experience of healing that I had been expecting and waiting for. The purpose of my sporatic and intermittent visits with the “case worker” every few weeks is to maintain my connection with the BC Ministry of Social Development, ensuring that there is an official representative who is able to speak on the most basic and generic level to my qualifications for financial support.
I acknowledge here that recovery is a very individual process, and that for some people, my local VIHA branch’s day program, based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a novel and useful experience in self-awareness that therefore has a positive effect on their mental health by initiating a new way of experiencing themselves and their lives. I celebrate this, and yet at the same time, I do not fit into this category of patients, as a person with BPD and as someone with a lifetime of experience in personal growth. I have been utilizing personal growth and awareness techniques and alternative health practices for most of my life, which is what allowed me to survive thus far in my life; but these things did not prevent me from attempting to end my life 6 months ago, ending up in the psych ward and being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. While it has been a genuine breakthrough and an integral piece of validation for me to receive these diagnosis’ in their inherent acknowledgement of deeply rooted patterns of self-sabotage, this is only the first step in recovering from these things; I have been proceeding since with the expectation that VIHA could offer the treatment of these “conditions”, and it is this expectation that I have now concluded to be unrealistic.
Fellow bloggers and the authors of all the BPD recovery books I have been reading (e.g. Rachel Reiland’s ‘Get Me Out of Here’, Kiera Van Gelder’s ‘The Buddha and the Borderline’, and Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus’ ‘I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me’) — seem to have access somehow (through government-funded services or their own financial means) to group therapy programs at their local hospitals, and individual psycho-or Dialectical Behavior Therapy based therapy sessions several times per week, my reality is drastically different. The “free” services available to me are crisis management and intervention and intermittent therapy sessions with an assigned case worker who is supported by a professional psychiatrist and psychologist who serve as consultants for all the case workers at my local mental health branch. The realization that is key for me is that my case worker a) is not available with enough frequency and b) is not qualified to provide me with the intensive experience of DBT or transference that has healed so many fellow sufferers of BPD in other parts of the world.
Connections I have made with others in my position have revealed that recovery from mental illness here in BC is one of synergistic, miraculous connections with “the right” counselor who may not be qualified to sign the government forms for social assistance, but who is able to make a difference in the long-term stability and well-being (recovery) of the patient. The other day, I heard a story of a renowned psychologist who offered his services free-of-charge to an acquaintance of mine who has been in recovery for over a decade, seeing addictions and mental health case workers and counselors while being unable to work.
So where would we be, as a community of borderline and ptsd patients here in BC without the spontaneous kindness of such doctors and the seemingly miraculous connections we make with peers and alternative healing techniques? This is a question that VIHA may want to ponder and acknowledge in their presentation of services. In my current position, VIHA is my connection to government financial assistance; but the real healing will take place through what I have come to believe as the grace of a higher power and the resulting synergy of the connections I am able to make with others on authentic paths of recovery that cannot be served by the current health care system.
I think it is a rare case that healing comes easily to anyone, anywhere in the world. This is not something that you can google, get the information and take the pill for; it is not offered as a 2 for 1 special at Wal-Mart, and there is no representative icon to click on, on any website. Regardless of available resources of knowledge, finances and personnel, no external force can be our guiding light; no one system can truly meet the needs of individual well-being, and that is perhaps the most difficult and integral part of any person’s recovery — becoming authentically aware of the resources within ourselves and the people we encounter when we begin to live authentically. In this world of instant gratification that seems to disregard and attempt to control the underlying mystery force that truly governs our existence, we must embark on the underground journey to find the universal well of compassion and support that is available to all of us in our search for fulfillment, happiness and well-being.
- Journey of Healing: Part 1 (heartjunky.wordpress.com)
- How to Bring Sanity to our Mental Health System (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Mental Health Issues in Business and Work – Declare or not? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- You: Mental health help on offer at Mold centre – Flintshire Chronicle (flintshirechronicle.co.uk)
A few days ago I posted on what mania is to me in “authenticating my symptoms — manic manifests as confusion“.
Today, i have been escaping my feelings all day, and gradually working myself into a dissociative (rated 3/3) and suicidal (1/3) state — the other side of the borderline coin.
The two grains of sand that have gotten me to a diary card score of 96/100 are:
- underestimated exhaustion from an afternoon of (extremely positive) social contact with a bunch of new friends yesterday evening. I keep thinking I am normal again and can handle these things like a ‘normal’ person, ie. be fine the next day. I need to remember how easily and extremely exhausted I get, even from positive stimuli; and how easily thrown off my sense of routine I am from doing anything spontaneously.
- invalidation / external reality changes: My doctor’s appointment this morning, which I had forgotten about (because of the spontaneous socializing yesterday) until I woke up a half hour before I was supposed to be there and had to skip prayer, meditation, breakfast and coffee in order to make it on time. The real “grain of sand” in the doctor’s appointment however was not the chaotic manner in which I arrived, but the conversation I had with her about my mental health treatment. Although it seemed like no big deal in the moment, it turns out that it was a huge deal to learn what i did. Someone I thought was helping me in a reality of validation in recovery I thought I had accomplished is actually not really there at all (I will write a separate post in this). What it took me the entire day to understand is that this news was a sudden loss of identity and validation.
So, how does exhaustion + sudden loss of validation affect me? If i am unable to acknowledge what i am feeling, the result is dissociation. I’ve linked the word for you, so you can look up what the DSM says about it; but for me, this is what dissociation feels like:
- Suddenly, it feels like nobody sees me. I disappear. I long desperately and dangerously to be held, enveloped by another’s love for me. I am extremely needy. I cannot remember that I am loved and connected to people.
- Loss of all structure — nothing makes sense, nothing has purpose, nothing feels secure.
- I become lost in a sea of chaos that swallows me; I have no sense of where I am, who I am or what I am doing here in life. I have no place in the world.
- All motivation leaves me. All I want to do is escape and distract myself.
- Compulsive escape & isolation — I escape these feelings with compulsive and meaningless activity such as looking for images on Google for hours on end, and cease all self-care such as eating. Anything that takes me away from this type of activity in this state is almost unbearably annoying.
- No sense of time: I forget about everything on my to-do list and feel like I have all the time in the world. Life is a great abyss of the unknown, and passing the time with distraction and escape becomes my survival method.
- Panic and despair leading to suicidality. I slowly become more and more aware of what is going on, and it feels increasingly unbearably and hopeless.
I need to note that when I use the word suddenly, I do mean that with one interaction, one statement, in a very short moment, my entire sense of reality can change; however, and contrary to traditional descriptions of dissociation, it is not nearly as dramatic for me as it may sound. Actually, in the moment, it is not even evident to others OR MYSELF.
This is an aspect of my experience that astounds me. That I can be having a traumatic experience and no one, including me, can have a clue that this is happening. It comes out in the 24 hours afterwards — a “delayed” reaction, you could say. First, there is compulsive escape and loss of motivation and no sense of time; then I begin to feel panic, hopelessness and despair which leads to suicidality. At this point, I realize something is going on (!) and I need to employ a tool, such as calling a friend, or journaling, or 12-step work. These things allow me to get in touch with my feelings, which de-escalates the whole situation. It is almost inevitably a big whopping Homer Simpson “Dope!” experience, in the sense that it has taken me all these hours to simply be conscious of a (usually healthy) emotional response to a situation (which, if it causes me to dissociate, is usually a re-lived experience of trauma).
In this case, it took me about 12 hours to get in touch with feelings of abandonment, anger and outcry towards the mental health care system in my part of the world, which I will be writing about subsequently (you can now read about this experience in my post ‘government-funded mental health care for BPD in bc, canada‘)
So, dear readers, what is dissociation to you? Any other Quiet Borderlines out there relate to an extreme internal experience that is completely invisible to others and yourself?
With great love,
- The scientific status of childhood dissociative identity disorder by G.A. Boysen (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
- Paranoia, Delusions and Dissociation in Borderline Personality Disorder (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Multiple Personality Disorder Isn’t Real? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- A plea for funding for more research and education of Dissociative Identity Disorder (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
- Why I Stopped Writing Dissociative Living, Pt. 1 (dontcallmesybil.com)
- Thursday: Sexual Violence and Dissociative Identity Disorder (rcasa.wordpress.com)
- The Gone Away World: experiences in dissociation (purplepersuasion.wordpress.com)