BPD: An Emotional Sunburn

Yesterday, my temporary “emergency” therapist at my university, who is extensively trained in DBT and working with BPD individuals, mentioned that having BPD is a lot like having a really bad sunburn. When you have a sunburn, you are hypersensitive to anything and everything touching that area, you’re hot to the touch, and basic things become difficult because if anything touches the sunburn, you will scream out or moan in pain. When you have a sunburn, you avoid going back out into the sun.

When she said that, I instantly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. Hearing this metaphor for BPD and sunburn made me accept myself a little more. This made my blurry vision of the world a little bit clearer and I smiled for the first time in a while. I wish I could tell everyone I interact with regularly that I have an emotional sunburn, so please do not be alarmed when I lose my temper, cry, get overwhelmed, or start to freak out.

Lately my sunburn has been so bad that I developed blisters. From a new diagnosis, to being forced to eat despite ana/mia screaming in my ear, to being involuntarily committed to the inpatient hospital, my emotions are on high alert. I have been avoiding the sun completely – both literally and figuratively, actually (thanks, agoraphobia). My therapist made me feel like this is ok until my blisters heal, and the skin begins to repair itself until back at the usual baseline sunburn that BPD individuals live with. I was validated and validation means everything to me, since I frequently have feelings and reactions that are invalidated because they are over the top.

So once I use up this metaphorical bottle of aloe vera, I will be ready to deal with the emotions I have buried deep inside of me. I am terrified of this, but it is necessary for the healing process. I am hoping that DBT is the answer for me, I am actually hopeful about this treatment. All my fingers are crossed in hope that DBT will make life worth living again.

5-1-17: Denying Emotions

Dear Diary,

Transitioning back to the real world after inpatient has been difficult and incredibly busy, considering it is finals time. I am really trying to finish out my classes without accepting any incompletes. I have been overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and emotionless. Such a lovely combination.

I haven’t yet let myself process what I am going through which is probably why my impulsive behavior has been worse than ever. I have spent so much money, drank to the point of being drunk, and had horrible SH urges. I know it’s because I have all this inside of me, but I won’t let it come out yet. After finals, I will use these posts to process everything. I just can’t let my mental health ruin the GPA I have worked so hard for. But I also don’t want to ruin my mental health by working so hard for my GPA… rock and a hard place.

Today I saw an old friend from out of town (fling, if you will) and we went to breakfast. I have always been so comfortable with him, he is like a brother – we are just so similar. And things were weird on my end. I dissociated, I almost had a panic attack, my eyes were darting. He noticed it too, which made things even more strange because neither of us knew what to do. It made me really upset because this is one of my really good friends and my mental health is impacting that relationship as well.

So this a brief update I’ve been trying to get myself to write for days, I just don’t know what to say, how to feel, or what to do. In one week, I will be actively working to get control back in my life. Finally.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I am starting DBT treatment tomorrow. I am excited and I will hopefully have some things to say tomorrow. ALSO, I have created a team for a NAMI walk in my town and I have raised almost $500 for mental health SO FAR. It has given me a sort of light in this darkness and it makes me almost feel genuinely happy. I’ve found something that is giving me meaning in this rough time, thankfully. Ok now, trying to go to bed now.

Happiness: The Little Things

I recently found a notebook with a list of the little things that make me happy. I have a million different journals with a million different things in them, but this one was lost. I would like to continue to do this because it is incredibly helpful for me. I am still trying to cope with what has occurred the past week, but I am waiting to process it until after finals, so I will post then. Here is what was in this journal:

3-3-14

  • seeing the stars across the sky
  • laying in bed finally after a long day
  • finishing a good workout
  • the first glimpse of the beach or mountains on a long sought after vacation
  • taking off in an airplane
  • seeing the mountains or the beach when in an airplane
  • reaching the top of a mountain
  • waking up on a Saturday morning to light rain and thunder
  • breathing the cool, fall air
  • sitting on the beach in the hot sun with my feet in the sand
  • jumping over huge waves
  • laughing so hard your stomach hurts with the people you love
  • light jacket on a fall morning
  • thunderstorms you can see approaching
  • smell of rain in spring
  • birds chirping in the morning
  • sitting in front of the fire with family, watching football
  • looking at old pictures during happy times
  • waking up early to go to the airport to go on a vacation
  • first opening a hotel room door and laying on the freshly made bed
  • enjoying a book
  • watching an inspiring TED talk
  • when you find the perfect song to match your mood
  • not being able to stop smiling for whatever reason
  • driving with windows down, listening to summer music
  • packing for vacation
  • new clothes being worn for the first time

3-25-14

  • watching Planet Earth in the dark with the fire on
  • finishing a long-term project
  • cookie baking weekend with my family
  • seeing long-distance best friend for the first time in a while
  • getting a paycheck

4-7-14

  • a big thunderstorm
  • seeing Orrie (**RIP, puppy**) excited after coming home from school/trip
  • playing cards or dominos with my grandma and cousins
  • having all projects finished finally after long haul with school
  • going shopping when you have money to spend
  • Black Friday morning with cousins
  • finally eating Thanksgiving dinner
  • stockings on Christmas morning
  • watching Orrie open a present on Christmas
  • snuggling with Orrie

10-11-14

  • while running the last quarter mile of a tough workout
  • being smiled at by a stranger
  • getting a text from someone you haven’t talked to in a while
  • waking up in the middle of the night and thinking it is time to wake up, but realizing that you still have hours to sleep
  • Harry Potter movie marathons

This was so fun to do (reflect on, for all intents and purposes). I am definitely going to start doing this more often, because I am feeling much better.

Current Psychiatric Medications

Updated After Inpatient Stay:

Abilify/aripiprazole: 2.5mg/day **due to CYP2D6 genotype**

Vistaril/hydroxyzine: 50mg/as needed for insomnia/anxiety

Lamictal/lamotrigine: 75mg/day **titrating to 200mg**

BuSpar/buspirone: 40mg/day

Klonopin/clonazepam: 1mg/as needed for anxiety/panic

**These will probably change after all of my discharge appointments within the next week. I am absolutely terrified of the weight gain associated with abilify so I am going to see if there is a better option. I am also worried that I am no longer on an antidepressant. I have had horrible insomnia so the vistaril may change, maybe to Ativan because that helped in the ER. The abilify is making me so dizzy and I assume that is what caused the Orthostatic Hypotension in the hospital. I assume that is because of my poor metabolism via CYP2D6, the primary CYP involved with  abilify metabolism. Another post about that later.

Inpatient Day Three? Four?: 4-23-17

**Written on 4-23-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Sunday (NOT) Funday

Today went well, relative to the fact that I’m stuck in here with no access to the outside world. I am sick of eating and I am dreading everyone being on my case when I get out of here. I am going to be on a strict diet plan which will suck.

I coped well today despite being very stressed about life and finals. If I don’t get discharged in the morning [Monday], I’m going to be in a really rough place. I don’t want to freak out, but I will. I don’t want to be sedated and put in isolation, but I may need it.

There are places on my bedroom wall that are clearly painted over and I’m so curious as to what is underneath. I am painfully curious about all of this and about everyone’s story. I eavesdrop like crazy. The dramatic woman here (who almost got a code called on her for being violent yesterday) was somewhat more calm, so Inpatient of Our Lives was not a good soap opera today. Maybe tomorrow.

Almost passed out this morning (BP standing 80/50) and felt dizzy all day. Super anxious about 5am vitals in the morning, because that is two days in a row that this has happened. I am going to try not to take my new nighttime medicine (Vistaril) to see if that is what is causing it (aside from a possible refeeding syndrome). But the anxiety will keep me awake and the sleeping medicine won’t be there to help me sleep. Oh well…

Ok time to hide my tiny pencil contraband. Goodnight.

Inpatient Day One: 4-20-17

**Written on 4-20-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Well, what a doozy it has been. I was feeling quite awful the last time I posted and I went to the ER. I had taken six shots, knowing fully well I was being self-destructive and that it would land me in the ER if I didn’t self-harm horribly or attempt to OD. I knew I would purposefully trigger myself. I knew I would end up self-harming. I didn’t know I would end up legitimately wanting to kill myself, and preparing the pills and alcohol. I freaked out and began self-harming like never before. I have always believed strongly that I would never be able to kill myself because of my aunt, so the fact that I was willing and able shocked my system. After about 40 cuts, one needing stitches, and six shots, I asked my roommate to take me to the ER.

I am writing this on a yellow legal pad with an illegal pencil I snuck into my room in an inpatient unit at a private mental hospital. I took an hour and a half ambulance ride to a hospital that actually had a bed for someone like me. I am absolutely horrified. I feel like my problems still aren’t bad enough to warrant this and I feel like I am wasting so much of my parents’ money (**I no longer believe this, but at the time I fully believed this**). I see the thinner, sicker girls, and it is so triggering. I am still fat and yet they put me on this stupid eating disorder protocol. I don’t know, I am very exhausted, but I want to document my experiences. I’m sure I will post more details after the fact.

What have I done…

Inpatient Day Three: 4-22-17

**Written on 4-22-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Today I was exhausted. I passed out this morning during 5am vitals. From sitting to standing, my blood pressure dropped, my pulse increased dangerously, and my vision slowly turned black. Orthostatic hypotension I suppose, but I don’t know what is causing it. I am so tired from being woken up by check-ups throughout the night, from 5am vitals, from constant groups, from being forced to eat and being watched, from not being allowed in my room for an hour after every meal. I want to go home so badly. I hate eating and I want to go back to restricting. I just need to figure out finals, ugh it is adding so much stress and making things worse.

Keeping this short and sweet because I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.

I adore the people on the eating disorder protocol with me. Joy and Megan are angels and I am not sure I would make it through this without them keeping me as sane as they can while inpatient at a mental hospital. The dry, crude humor and sarcasm with Megan has me laughing for the first time in a while. I wish I could make Joy and Megan’s pain go away… They deserve the world and then some. Everyone here does. It hurts me that everyone here is hurting so terribly.

I got a lot of positive affirmations today. People told me I have great energy and I bring a light to their day. I was also told I was gorgeous and that my beauty is awe inspiring. This made me feel so good, but I still don’t believe it.

Okay must sleep. Goodnight.

I have to be discharged Monday for finals. Please….

 

4-19-17

Dear Diary,

I just took four shots back to back because life. Everything is falling apart. After I posted earlier, I got an intense urge to end things and I prepared my “hospital bag” like pregnant people prepare their bags for unexpected labor. It’s just funny to me because I know I wouldn’t have access to any of my bag, but hey whatever. I think I have hit my all time low. And for me that takes some work.

After getting everything ready to go, my one friend showed up to make sure I was ok. He kept me grounded and stayed with me until I had class. I went to class while choking back tears. I told my professor (who I bonded with after my mental breakdown mid-class) that I wouldn’t be in class because I needed to seek immediate attention. She was just as shocked as I was when I walked in the door.

The same friend picked me up from work, with food in hand. Knowing fully well that I haven’t had a full meal in a month. I scarfed it down and he left for his last class of graduate school. I am now drinking, knowing fully well it will result in either going to the ER or self-harm. Self destructive behaviors that previously went unquestioned are now justified with my diagnosis of BPD.

My mom, my rock, my hero, is in Cancun with my brother for his spring break and my dad is somewhere in the middle of the woods (he’s gone full Ralph Waldo Emerson mixed with Into the Wild). I texted her telling her I was going to admit myself and, having been with me during my previous traumatizing ER experience, told me not to go. She wasn’t aware of my feelings that I would just be taking up a bed and that no one would take me seriously if I didn’t have pills in my stomach, so I *yelled* at her over text and pushed her away (we’ve made up since). Everyone else completely invalidated how I was feeling and I didn’t go.

So here I am, getting drunk on purpose, not turning in my homework for the first time in my life (I have a 3.8, which is the lowest GPA I’ve ever had). I’m shoving goldfish in my mouth and taking shots. I think I am probably getting drunk so I have the guts to go to the ER. I don’t know.

Until Next Time,

introspectingacf