Inside & Outside

My outside doesn’t match my inside.

I can talk about my emotions. How I’ve been feeling. How I’m currently feeling. To everyone else, it looks like I’m okay. Yet in those moments of talking about my feelings, my outside doesn’t reflect how I’m feeling on the inside. There’s a disconnect. And I don’t know why, or even how that happens.

In group today, when it was my turn to share, I told them a little bit about my experience on Friday, and how I’m still in that dark place. In our session last week Tuesday, OT told me I need to open up more in group, and use the time to its fullest. Therapist told me the same thing. So tonight, I tried. It was terrifying and extremely uncomfortable, but I did it. But once again, my true feelings didn’t match the way I spoke about it.

At one point during group (when someone else was talking about something), I had to leave and go to the bathroom because I could feel tears starting up. I don’t know how long I was in there, but I couldn’t stop crying. Then I intentionally this time, shut down those emotions. I walked out like nothing had happened, and went back to the group. Yes, I know. I probably should have stayed. Instead, I was rude and selfish.

One of two things happen when I talk about emotions and what I’m struggling with. Either I feel it all inside, but it doesn’t show on my face, as if I’m two different people. Or I just shut down completely and become numb. And the worst part is that 99% of the time, I don’t do it intentionally. It happens automatically.

Do any of you experience this? And how do I move past it?

I’m still feeling terrible since Friday. All I can think about is death. I see, and feel it all around me. I’m having nightmares. The kind that haunt me, and show up out of nowhere throughout the day. Like flashbacks. I get frustrated. After all, it’s just a dream. It’s not real. But then why does it feel so real? It’s past events, but with a twist. Like memories, mixed in with current fears. Some of these fears are those that I never even knew I had. I’ve also been struggling a lot with anxiety. I’m living off my Benzo’s (I’m not overdoing it- just enough to cope).

I feel disconnected from everyone and everything.

24 Hours With BPD During A Crisis Phase

I have a general trigger warning sign posted in the sidebar of my blog, but I feel this post needs to come with an additional warning as it contains more references to suicide and self-harm than usual.

On Friday I woke up feeling depressed, and exhausted… As if I hadn’t slept at all. It felt like I had a block of concrete weighing down on me. I had zero energy, and what usually takes me 10 minutes to do, became 30 minutes. I was moving in slow motion.

I keep a Post-It pad next to my bed, because sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea or something I need to remember. Before going into work on Friday, on one of those Post-It notes, I wrote what I was feeling. I usually use Pacifica (an amazing app to chart your moods, with lots of additional features) to track my moods. But on Friday I didn’t want to even look at my phone.

Somehow, it turned into me writing notes on Post-It’s (which I have in my bag as well) for the duration of the day. I wrote the times on the notes as well, after each “episode”, but they’re not exact times of course. So I got to document one of my low points for a day, and the crisis phase that was hot on its heels. Reading it back, it feels like a dream. I can’t remember writing half of these notes. I’m not going to post everything that I wrote down during the day, just the most significant things. There are some things that I want to keep to myself for now as well. I’ll add some current things in brackets for some of them. I don’t know why I wrote them in present tense.

09:30 – Don’t want to be here. I’m tired and not in the mood for these people. Just want to be alone, and in bed. It’s noisy and chaotic. (It’s the same everyday. It makes me so anxious being there. The energy in that place is chaotic and stressful. They’re up and down, in a highly out of control way, complaining about everything and everyone, arguing, etc. For a highly sensitive person, that energy, that environment is a nightmare.)

10:45 – I hate him! I wish he would just disappear forever! Can’t he just go one day without acting like he rules the fucking universe? (This is obviously referring to the man who calls himself my dad. I stashed the notes in my jacket pocket so he wouldn’t see them.)

11:10 – Can’t stand it anymore. Get up and go outside. (There’s a place behind the back of the building where no one goes. It’s my “secret” place.) So angry! Want to scream and break things. Maybe just my hand.

11:45 – Panic attack. Want to take Ativan but they’re in my damn bag in the office!

(I was very irritable for most of the day, with mood swings ranging from frustration, anxiety, a brief period of mania, sadness, and depression, and back again. Crying too much. Don’t want to, don’t want anyone to see. No one tells you how exhausting it is to live with BPD symptoms.)

16:20 – Phone clinic, ask for OT. All OT’s already left. She’s lying. (receptionist). They just don’t want to talk to me.

19:00 – Write blog post about current emotional state. Falling even deeper into the black hole. Thoughts of suicide running rampant through my mind, growing stronger by the minute.

19:20 – Status update on new, private Facebook profile. Supportive comments from those closest to me. Comment from (Uncle). Stake through my heart. Can’t trust him anymore. Bond broken. He hates me. He’s never going to talk to me again and will cut me out of his life. I don’t care! Panic. I need him! He can’t leave me! Maybe I can talk to him. I don’t want to lose him. Don’t want to talk to him.

19:30 – “Unfriend” him. Delete post from blog. Want to delete entire blog. Probably not a good idea. Shouldn’t be making any compulsive decisions while in this state. Vow to never reveal my feelings to anyone ever again. Start typing Therapist a message to tell her to cancel our session on Thursday, and that I’m not coming back. Before I can send it, throw my phone on the bed in frustration. Can’t.stop.crying! Add Uncle on FB as a friend again.

21:30 – Want to phone Therapist. It’s weekend. She doesn’t have her phone with her. She hates me. She probably talks to the others on weekends. I need to send her something to make sure we’re still okay. Well, I’m mad at her too. I’m going to quit therapy. I’m going to stop going to groups. I want nothing to do with Therapist and OT anymore. They hate me! I’m so mad at them. Don’t want to lose Therapist. Why am I panicking? It’s not real. She’s not going to leave. But why does it feel like I’m in trouble? I’m not mad anymore. I love her. I’m a burden to everyone.

21:50 – Phone suicide crisis line. Get told to take deep breaths and go take a hot bath. I don’t have a bath, or hot water right now! Why isn’t she listening to me? The more I try to explain how and why I’m feeling this way, the more she cuts me off and throws advice at me! Crisis lines are shit. Where the hell do they find these people? I shouldn’t have phoned. Thought I had learned my lesson the previous time! (When I was told by the guy on the phone that he’s going to hang up because he has another call coming in). Not going to happen again. This time I hang up. Rage. Want to throw my phone against the wall. Hit the wall with my fists instead. Dissolve into tears again.

22:00 – Too much pain. Self-harm is the only other solution I can think of. Cut. See the blood start forming. So beautiful. Relief. Thinking about carving a few “tattoos” on other places on my body. The desire to see more blood is overwhelming. Want to see more blood than a few measly drops. It’s Winter. No one will be able to see. Want to kill myself. I’m definitely going to end my life tonight. I can’t possibly survive this time. Mind racing through different ways to go about it. I have a plan, but if that fails, I need something else to complete it. Read through suicide forums. Lots of ideas. But also lots of failures. Fuck! I can’t even die in peace, without it maybe going wrong! What if the man who calls himself my dad blames Therapist, and ruins her career? What if he goes after her and hurts her?

22:20 – Here come the tears again. Sobbing on the floor. Can barely breathe. I don’t want or need anyone! Maybe they’re all in on it together, and laughing at me. I’m the joke. I can’t trust anyone. I mustn’t. Panic attack.

22:40 – Take 4 Benzo’s, instead of my usual 1.

23:00 – Calm. Numb. Floating far above my body. Drifting.

09:30 – Wake up. Eyes feel like lead. Head pounding. dissociative cloud hanging over me. Feels like I have a hangover. What if no one is real? What if it’s all a dream?

09:45 – See Hope Box. They’re all real. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have bothered to write these messages for me. (This self-soothing box usually helps me during the usual suicidal ideation times, but not when I’m as far gone as I was on Friday evening. This is when I need someone to help ground me, because I’m unable to soothe and ground myself.)

I’m still feeling fragile today, but just glad to be out of that chaotic state.

It’s been a busy social and work week for me. I only had one day that I didn’t spend with anyone, but I spent all of that time working. I’m starting a wedding photography business with another photographer, so we’ve been working hard to get it up and running as soon as possible. It’s a lot of work starting a new business. Went out for dinner with potential clients. I’ve been working non-stop, with a few social coffee breaks with Jasmine and some friends from group.

Being an introvert, this is a challenge. I’ve been burning myself out. Even working the whole weekend last weekend. I realized that this “crisis” has been creeping up on me slowly. And when it hit, it destroyed everything in its path.

I realize that I need to take better care of myself, and have a proper plan in place for these times. It’s terrifying being in that space of utter despair. This time really shook me, and made me see the urgency of making a safety plan.

I don’t phone Jasmine (the one person who understands me, and what it feels like to be in that state), because when we were still together, we tended to trigger one another. We decided it’s better not to talk about self-harm and suicide. But now that we’re just friends, and don’t spend nearly every moment together, it’s easier. I spoke to her last night and we discussed being on one another’s evening “crisis list”. I need to choose my people wisely, because a lot of people will just make things worse. With Jasmine, there’s no platitudes, just understanding, care and empathy. She listens more than she talks. Which is what we need during those times. She’s also the only person who’s available in the evenings, when most of these moments happen.

I really need to take better care of myself and notice the signs that I’m starting to go downhill. As for working for the man who calls himself my dad, I’ve created a playlist of soothing, relaxing music. I don’t need to answer phones, so I can put my headphones on, and drown out all the noise. I also have to learn and practice how to balance working hard, with some down time where I don’t think about work every moment of every day. As for my social life, I’m going to be more careful about how much time I spend with people. Too much of a good thing… Quality over quantity.

Took the whole day off yesterday. Put my phone on silent. Stayed in my PJ’s, reading, writing and watching Frasier and other shows on Netflix. Meeting my group of friends for a lunch date today. We’re going to her place and making our own pizza and Glühwein (which I’ll have very little of). That’s going to be interesting. I’ve had a full day of being alone yesterday. So I think I’m ready for this. But next weekend I’m taking the whole weekend for myself. I’m exhausted.

Selene

I just sat down at my computer right now and thought that I want to write a post. But then I realized… I don’t have anything to write about. There’s nothing that I really want to say.

Something just popped into my mind. Let me tell you about “Selene”. I’ve never told anyone about “her”. Not even my therapist, because it sounds completely crazy. Besides, it’s never come up.

I don’t know if Selene was around when I was a kid. The earliest memory I have of her is from my late teens I think. I just remember walking down the street one day. I was scared of something. I can’t remember what, but I still remember the feeling of intense fear. Then suddenly I felt this powerful presence beside me. The fear instantly disappeared and I felt this sense of protection. I didn’t need to see her to know she exists. She felt really familiar… Which is why I say I don’t know whether she was around earlier than that memory.

I was still a Christian back then, but knew that this wasn’t God, an angel or anything like that. She wasn’t part of that spiritual world. Selene felt different, separate to all of that. I can’t explain it.

She’s powerful and invincible. When she’s around I feel like no one and nothing can harm me. I feel strong and empowered. Safe. I don’t experience her internally, but on the outside. Like a physical presence right next to me. Close. The way a bodyguard stands next to a public figure.

Sometimes it seems like she just shows up for no reason. I can’t even understand why she’s there in those moments. And why she’s not around when I want her. A lot of the time she shows up when I’m feeling very anxious or afraid of something. Most of the time, it’s at night. My worst time of day. Which is why I try to stay up as late as I can. Because as soon as that light goes out, I feel vulnerable for some reason. She can be there from a few seconds to a few minutes. Although, there are two moments that I remember sensing her presence when I was in terrible emotional pain. Just sitting with me on the bed and the floor. Most of the time, she’s just this powerful, strong being. My protector.

It’s not a regular thing. Months can go by without her. She showed up again this week. And I don’t even know why. In the moments when she shows up, one part of me experiences her as completely real. The presence I feel is real. The logical part of me is aware that she’s not really real. I’m pretty sure she’s just a construct of my imagination. A defense mechanism? But yet, she’s real. Does that make sense?

Well, it seems I did have something to say after all. Even though it’s something that might well see me getting more meds to add to my collection, and send some of you running.

Heading For A Breakdown

I’m not in a good place.

I had an okay few hours yesterday, but that was unfortunately short-lived.

My immune system is down. My body is on high alert. My nervous system is shot. I can’t focus, I can’t concentrate. There’s this mental fog that I haven’t been able to shake.

At the same time, it feels as though my mind is about to explode. Been trying to self-sooth, but it doesn’t seem to be working either. All I want to do the whole time is cry. And some of the time I don’t even know why I’m crying. It just keeps coming.

All I want, all I long for right now is a long hug. A soft touch, a warm body. Someone to sit with me in silence and hold my hand. To hold me close and tell me that I’m going to be okay. I don’t want to hear “everything is going to be okay”, because no one can predict the future. But “you’re going to be okay” really works for me. It helps build me up, allows me to tap into my strength. Because during these intense moments, I feel I don’t have the strength to pull myself together, let alone to keep going. We all need love and closeness sometimes, right? “Please hold me for a while”, I want to say. But there’s a sense of shame in wanting to say those words. To ask for comfort. I don’t want to be saved, I just want to be held. Right now, I can’t be that person I need. I don’t know how to. And how can I, when I despise myself?

Am I so ugly and bad, and that’s the reason no one is ever around when I really need someone? You guys give me so much care and support here, which I appreciate immensely. But sometimes you just need that physical presence, you know?

I don’t usually ask for hugs, even when I desperately want one. On the way to work this morning, I decided that I’m going to ask my step mom for one (I don’t like being touched or hugged by my dad). But when I got into the office, she was passive aggressive with me over something that I can’t remember right now. It really hurt me, as if I wasn’t hurting enough already, and I could feel the tears coming. So I used that opportunity for a bathroom break. Even though I had just gotten in. And now I don’t want to even see her. I’m so damn sensitive.

I’ve always been sensitive and hyper-vigilant, but it seems worse these days. The smallest sound and sudden movement and my body goes into overdrive. Once it’s over, the effects still remain for quite a while. I don’t have energy for much. I don’t want to eat, my appetite is non existent. Besides what I mentioned above, the need for comfort, I don’t want anything to do with anyone. I want to crawl into a dark, warm space and just lie there. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live either.

Nearly every day I have to hear how bad my dad’s business is doing, and how they’re in deep debt. That we might not have a place to stay soon. Every week it’s the same story. I’ve asked him to please not speak about finances (especially the business’s finances) in front of me and the kids. But it seems he doesn’t get the message.

My dad will send me a message, or come home after work to change, and tell me that some friends invited them for dinner at their house. But I know when my dad is lying. Besides, my step sister is obsessed with checking in everywhere on Facebook. I see that she’s checked in somewhere, and tagged my dad, brother and step mom. That they’re having dinner, or watching a movie. Definitely not at some “friends” house. I don’t understand why they need to lie about what they’re doing and where they’re going. Only my brother will tell me the truth the next day, but also doesn’t know why they don’t ask me to come with. The only conclusion that I can come up with is that they don’t want me to go, either because they just don’t want me there, or they want to save money. But all that happens is that I’m left feeling like a burden. And like I’m not part of the family. I don’t belong.

That triggers thoughts and memories of times past where I also felt this way.
I left a good job in order to make sure that my dad was going to be okay (after his suicide attempts). In order to parent him (which I shouldn’t have done). So I followed him from one woman to the next. I’d find a job, and then their relationship wouldn’t work out and it was onto the next woman. I knew they would break up, and I was always afraid that he’d attempt suicide again. After every break up, my dad would tell me that the women didn’t want me around and that’s why they broke up. Even though they hardly ever saw me. I was doing my own thing most of the time. He’d never mention how he had fucked up in the relationship, it was always the other woman. And me. So how can I not feel like a burden?

I feel really alone and lost.

As well as so much shame. For being a burden. For being me. For being alive.

It’s like I’m heading for a breakdown, and I feel powerless to stop it.

A Hostile Takeover

I’m an introvert.

When I spend too much time with a person or people, I start getting frustrated. Even with my friends. I need time alone. I don’t want to spend every weekend with people. Sometimes I just want to spend time with myself. Being lazy, watching TV, reading, studying up on things that I find interesting (such as psychology). There are many times where I crave closeness though. And it comes at the worst possible times. When everyone else is so busy with their lives that they don’t have time to spend with me. I tend to fall into a depression then, and feel unimportant and rejected. I’ve never actually had anyone hold space for me while I was going through a difficult time. When I really needed someone, just anyone, I was alone. Which is probably one of the reasons I’m so attached to my therapist. She’s helped me through a lot of dark moments. When I had no one, she was there. She was (and is) my person. I hold onto the hope that one day I’ll find that person who will walk with me through it all, and let me do the same for them. Through both the good and the bad.

Right now I’ve withdrawn into my shell.

I had to photograph a wedding on Friday. I’m a photographer but I don’t do weddings. But I made an exception in this case, as it was a small wedding and I know the bride. I was terrified. One of the reasons I don’t do weddings is because it’s the one event that you just can’t mess up on. You don’t get a second chance. And I just don’t have the confidence that I feel every other photographer has. I wanted to cancel every day for a week, wondering what the hell had come over me in accepting the job. But when I make a commitment, I stick to it, even if it hurts. Besides, it was a job, and I desperately needed it.

It was so stressful. And now I’m working on the photo’s, before putting together the package that they selected. I’m going to be working on it for the rest of this week. At least I enjoy it. All that anxiety had built up over the week, and now that it’s over, I’m exhausted and just want to be alone.

The photo’s came out better than I expected, but less perfect than I wanted. People keep telling me my photography is really good. But no matter how many times I’ve heard that, it just doesn’t stick. Unfortunately our brains have a negativity bias. The bad sticks, while the good seeps away quickly. It’s automatic, as the brain has a high sensitivity to negative stimuli. Fortunately, it can be changed (with a lot of hard work). You can read more here.

When I’m doing a photo shoot, I pretend to be confident, calm and collected. One of the reviews I received said “she was professional, calm and comfortable”. If only this client knew how I was trembling inside, feeling like a fraud. Don’t get me wrong. I love taking photos. It’s the interacting with people that I struggle with. And the fear of messing up.

In other news, my stepmom’s parents are here for the next two weeks (and they might even stay for 3 weeks), and I’ve been exiled from my room. I’m now staying in my step brother’s room (he’s sharing with his sister- obviously in separate beds). There are now 8 people in the house. It’s crowded, and noisy. I want peace and quiet when I wake up in the morning. To be able to sit outside and not hear twenty voices. I’m not a morning person. I have my own bathroom in my room. Now I need to share one with the kids and my uncle. I can’t shower when I want to, I need to schedule it around when they want to shower, and then I’m stuck with lukewarm or cold water. Even the kids get preference over me, which is frustrating.

I think of it this as a hostile takeover, hence the title. See how I blow things way out of proportion? It’s a talent of mine.

In our last session, my therapist used a REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) “technique”. It goes something like this:
My beliefs: I should have my room to myself. I should have all my stuff around me. I mustn’t let this upset me so much. I must get over it. She’s helping me eliminate the words “should”, “have to” “must”, etc. So I’ve been trying to re-frame those thoughts. Instead of “I should have all my stuff around me and have my space to myself” I’ve been saying: “I would prefer to have my room and space to myself, but they’re not going to be here forever. I’ll get my room back when they leave. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, and yes, I’m annoyed about it, and I get to feel that way”. It’s the anger that I’m trying to replace with less destructive, intense emotions. So I’m practicing this (my homework).

Wish me luck for these next few weeks!

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part One

On Thursday morning I was reading something on the internet, when I started to feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, that feeling erupted in a full on trigger. I immediately turned into a mess. I became that 14-year-old who had just been broken by someone she had looked up to and trusted. Images and emotions consumed my mind and my body. The emotions were far more powerful and painful than the images themselves. I felt like I was dying.

I wanted to phone my therapist right then and there. There was a huge battle going on inside me. Trying my hardest not to give into that desire to call her. We only had an appointment for Tuesday (yesterday). Then, I don’t know why, but the thought came into my head to phone a psychiatrist (I’ve been wanting to go to one for a while now). So I picked one of the two that was recommended, and phoned her office in a state. I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist, so why I felt the need in that moment to call her, I can’t tell you. She was so nice to me. I wanted to find out what her fees were, and instead she asked me whether I was on a medical aid. I am, so she suggested that I book myself into the psychiatric clinic where she works, and then I won’t have to worry about paying anything. I could see her first thing in the morning. I was so upset that I agreed. Psychiatrist had to keep reminding me to breathe.

So early the next morning, I packed my bag and made my way to the clinic. I can’t remember much about that morning. I remember seeing my psychiatrist, and being a nervous wreck.  All I know is that I was so scared. Not even scared. Terrified.

I’d never been in a psychiatric ward before. Later that day, I would feel ashamed that at my age, after having avoided it for all this time, I was now in the very place that I never thought I’d find myself. But shit happens, and now, in hindsight, I’m glad I went in. I was in the general ward, so it was voluntary and I could be discharged whenever I wanted to. But Psychiatrist recommended that I at least stay a few days.

The next thing I remember is lying on the bed in the room I would be sharing with two other women during my time there. I don’t even remember how I ended up in the room. I have no memory between sitting with Psychiatrist (even that is a blur), and finding myself on my bed. I had even unpacked my bag during that time. What the hell? Dissociation, that’s what the hell. I was curled up like a baby, unable to stop crying. Feeling disoriented, confused, and terrified. I didn’t know what was going on. Could I leave? Or was I trapped there forever?

Lying on that bed, I just wanted Therapist. I felt like a five-year old wanting her mommy after waking up from a horrible nightmare. As I mentioned earlier, I had fought against the desire to call her on Thursday, and plenty of times in the course of our relationship. But this time I couldn’t fight it. I wasn’t in touch with reality. I phoned her. So you must know the extent of my distress for me to have done that. The phone call is a blur as well. I can’t really remember what I told her, and what she said. But I can remember the feelings. How soothing and comforting her voice was. It felt like she was holding me. After our call, I continued crying. Partly because I felt like Therapist really cares, and I could feel that care. I guess it was tears of relief? I don’t actually know what it was. I was also still crying from the overwhelming feelings I had been having since going in that morning, and the day before. A little while after that, I started to feel more calm. Slowly coming back to reality.

This might sound really strange… Even though I am glad I had gone in and my experience had been pretty good, I still feel traumatized from Friday. I’m not even sure why. But I know that speaking to Therapist that day, made it a little less traumatic.

In the next post I’ll write about my experiences in the clinic, and what I’ve learned from it.

Merry (Is It?) Christmas

You know what really pisses me off about this time of year? The fucking Christmas music. The same old crap every year. Could someone please come up with new songs? Or better yet… Do away with it completely. If I have to hear “Jingle Bells” one more time, I’m going to lose my shit.

Earlier this week, I had to go do some grocery shopping (shopping anxiety level, 10/10) . When paying, I asked the teller whether they have baseball bats. They didn’t. Probably better that way. I had the genius plan to go smash the speakers. Plan ruined. Damn. The teller thought my plan was hilarious though and gave me a high five. Anxiety level, 5/10. You’re awesome teller lady!

Fast forward to today. I don’t even know what today actually is. I’m in my own little bubble. The dad and stepmom went away for the day (I’m hoping they’ll stay overnight wherever they are). Uncle is on his own mission. I went for lunch with Jasmine and her family.

Now I’m alone (with my non Christmas music). Did some reading and took a nap (thank you Xanax) with my two comfort items. The stuffed bear that Jasmine gave me, and my therapy jacket. I miss my therapist way too much. Took some photo’s of useless things. It doesn’t help that I’ve been feeling sick the whole day. Lost an hour somewhere. Where the hell does that time go? I should invest in a camera when I get a job again. I’d love to see what happens during these times.

To everyone who celebrates it, Merry Christmas to you.
And to those that don’t, and find this a painful and difficult day, I’m sending you hugs.

I’m ending this now. Going to go crash someone’s Christmas party in a Halloween outfit.