Full Circle

Every so often, life makes you painfully aware of how far you have come. Life chose to do this as I drove up to a new location to meet my therapist during one of the lowest weeks I’ve had with depression to date. I thought everything looked too familiar…

I’m sitting with my therapist telling her about how I’m ready for all this suffering to be over when I remembered why it looked familiar. I could see the place through the tiny window in the room – the place I first went to therapy eight years earlier. I couldn’t help to think about how far I have come, rather how far I haven’t come. I still don’t have friends, I am still suffering with my weight and self-esteem, I am still going through crippling depression. Life had come full circle and I couldn’t help but cry.

Had I known I would be sitting across the street eight years later, balling my eyes out about suicide and self harm, about my weight and lack of friendships, I would have killed myself at 15. If only I could go back in time and tell 15 year old me that I was right, it isn’t worth it to live in this world. I couldn’t help but wonder if in eight years I’ll be having the same revelation.

At the same time, I was thinking about all the experiences I have had in the last eight years. Both the good AND the bad. Life isn’t about weighing the good and the bad; it’s about enjoying the good. It’s such a damn shame that depression makes this difficult. I’ve been so focused on my mental health that I’ve let life pass me by. Eight years has gone by and I haven’t let anything change. I’m in my own way, standing between myself and my happiness. In eight more years, after I’ve done everything in the world to change my reality, I can revisit whether or not life is worth it. But for now I need to keep on trucking along.

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.

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….

 

A New Lens

The dreaded appointment was on Friday and it was a doozy. An hour and a half intake appointment turned into three as new diagnoses were thrown at me left and right. I am suppressing the emotions as I don’t think I can handle them right now but I just want to give an overview for my own recollection.

I walked into the neuropsychiatric hospital which I spent so much time in last fall and I instantly panicked. The memories and feelings rushed back, adding to the nerves. I got there thirty minutes early and sat in the waiting room like I was waiting to hear bad news. I watched as parents came in with clothes for their child who likely tried to kill themselves and got themselves committed to the residential floor. They smiled and laughed and looked totally normal and that bothered me. We all have our coping mechanism though…

Finally my new doctor came out and I was told how she is a third year medical student and I would not be able to see her more than two times until she moved on in rotations. Broke my heart. I made a four page list of things I wanted to talk about, which probably made me look absolutely insane, but she didn’t know how much I needed this appointment to work out. All of my fragile eggs were in her wavering basket, unbeknownst to her. We went through my history for an hour and a half. She asked me pointed questions and I rambled on, something I do when I am nervous. After an hour and a half, she went to get her attending to talk about my diagnoses. My obsessive four page list of problems went with her to speak to the attending. I sat in the fluorescent lights of her office for thirty minutes, my heart racing and jumping every time I saw someone walk by the door. It felt a lot like waiting to find out about cancer. My illness is terminal all the same, unfortunately in an entirely different way then cancer is terminal.

The attending and my psychiatrist walked in and I immediately had a million questions. She told me that she needs me to see a therapist, go to another partial hospitalization program, and get all my vitals and blood work done before I could leave the hospital to ensure that my disordered eating wasn’t causing major problems. Then she started to list all these disorders, some I was told the name of eight years ago, and some that I never thought I would hear.

Major depressive disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder

Panic disorder

Agoraphobia

Bulimia

Anorexia

Borderline personality disorder

That last one rang in my head and drowned out her voice and that of the attending. Borderline personality disorder. Borderline. BPD. Personality disorder. No mention of bipolar. She printed me a handout that conveniently is the first result when googling “borderline personality disorder” and told me to learn more about the disorder. I laughed. There is something so funny to me about being handed a stapled packet of papers in this situation. Who knows…

What crushed me the most is that I am doing all that I can to treat this. I’ve been on antidepressants, I’ve been on mood stabilizers and anxiety medication. I’ve done the therapy thing and the outpatient treatment. There is nothing different I can do to treat this. My hopes were set on bipolar, it would have explained everything and why nothing has worked.  It would have meant that I was doing something wrong and a change could drastically improve my life. It would have meant that maybe this thing wouldn’t kill me after all.

I walked out of the hospital seeing the world through a new lens. Except this lens makes things less clear and I cannot, no matter how hard I try, take it off to see the world like I did just three hours prior.