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.

A Year

I don’t go onto Facebook often. A few hours ago, I did. Right at the top of my news feed I saw a post from my aunt, that knocked the breath right out of me. It felt as though someone had just stabbed me through the heart. The post was “Dearest brother, it’s been a year since you left us. We still miss you every day, and you’ll forever live on in our hearts.”

It’s been a year since one of my uncles ended his life. Right now it seems like just yesterday. I haven’t thought about him much since then, and the moments I did, I’d feel a sharp stab of pain that would only last a few minutes. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grieve, but my mind didn’t want that. It would just shut down. Exactly one year later, it’s finally hit me in full force. I’ve been crying for what feels like hours. The pain is unbearable, but I have no choice but to bear it.

I didn’t even go to his funeral. It was in another city and I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. A part of me also didn’t want to go. But now I regret it. I wish I could have said goodbye.

A few years ago, he started drinking heavily. Every time he would phone me, he was so drunk I could barely make out what he was saying.

The last time I saw him, I didn’t even recognize him. He didn’t look at all like the uncle I had known. Where was the strong man who used to make me laugh with his silly antics? The man who always called me his “little monkey”. I was angry with him that day. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d ever see him.

A week before he succeeded, he had attempted suicide, but his ex-wife found him in time. After that, I just had this feeling in my gut that he would try again. And I was right. The evening before that day, he phoned me. But I didn’t answer. And I don’t even know why. What if he was reaching out, and answering that phone call would have made a difference? Instead, I just ignored him. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think about it much this past year. Guilt. Once again, I had let someone I loved, down. And once again, I failed at being there for someone I loved, in their last moments.

I wish I could go back in time. But I can’t. And no amount of wishing can change that.

So tonight I’m feeling what I haven’t allowed myself to feel.

I miss him, and wish he was still here.

The Breakdown And Recovery

It happened.

As you know from my previous few posts, I’ve been in a very dark place. Thoughts of suicide overtaking everything, and coming to a head on Friday evening. Obsessive thoughts of death and dying. Over and over again. Pain so intense, memories so vivid. It felt as though I had hit rock bottom. Hearing voices inside my mind telling me to end it. That I don’t belong on this earth. I knew those voices were my own. Frightening visions of a dark figure was also present. Even though it only lasted a second each time, it was terrifying.

I had my plan all mapped out. I even wrote a note, which left me strangely happy in a way. Like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It was all going to be over soon. At the last-minute, an image of my therapist’s face flashed in front of me. I heard her voice. I fell to the floor and just cried. A mixture of pain, frustration, and a feeling of comfort and warmth from feeling our connection.

I read a book a few months ago, “Healing from Trauma” by Jasmin Lee Cori. After what happened, I remembered something I had read in that book. So I picked it up again and searched for the part I had in mind. Where she was talking about finding your rock. A person (or even a pet) that you feel connected to enough for them to be a powerful regulating resource. She says that it helps calm the nervous system. That was certainly the case that night. And I saw for myself just how powerful it is.

On Saturday and Sunday, I reverted back to my 20’s. A time in my life that I never want to relive. A time I had vowed to never repeat. But it happened, and I wasn’t aware that it was coming. I didn’t know the signs. I definitely know them now.

Earlier that day (Saturday) I thought about calling my therapist, but decided against it, as I didn’t want to bother her. If I knew then what I know now, I would have called her. Because once it hit, I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t regulate myself. I was so out of control, that all thoughts of calling my therapist disappeared. I didn’t think about anyone but myself. I was literally unable to bring anyone I know to mind. It was all about me and what was happening in that moment. I wasn’t aware of anything else.

I was reckless, self-destructive, and unintentionally putting other people’s lives in danger. (eg. speeding while drunk). I’m not going to go into detail about everything I did, as I’ve already told my therapist about it. But I will say this, I fucked up. Now that I know the warning signs, I will call my therapist this time, if there is a next time, which I’m going to try to prevent at all costs. Because this can’t happen again. I don’t want to end up destroying my life, or anyone else’s. I don’t want to live with the consequences of my behaviour. It only takes a second to ruin a life.

The difference between this time and my 20’s, was that I realized quickly (2 days instead of years) that I was running away from something. From extreme emotions, pain. Reality. Life. I didn’t have that insight back then. The way I lived my life those years, as well as this time, may have kept me alive, but this kind of behaviour doesn’t serve me, and it’s unhealthy and dangerous.

On Sunday evening, once I had “snapped out of it” I felt horrible. Ashamed. Dirty. Furious with myself. Shock was also mixed in. On Monday, those feelings carried over. I felt the effects in my body as well. I felt nauseous. My stomach was in knots and aching. My nervous system was protesting. It felt like I was in an alternate reality.

I usually have therapy sessions early on a Thursday morning, but I felt that I couldn’t wait that long. So I sent my therapist a text yesterday asking for an earlier session. We arranged it for a few hours later that day. At the beginning of the session I told her that I’m a bad person. She asked whether feeling that I’m a bad person, means that I am? Good point. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and does things they’re not proud of and regret. But that doesn’t make us bad people. Near the end of the session, she said that she’s glad we got together that day, and didn’t wait until Thursday. So was I. This is the second time that I needed a session more than any other time. It did me well. She told me that we could spend the session just talking, but it wouldn’t be effective in the long-term. So she went through an exercise with me, that was really helpful. And it will continue to be helpful. It was a very productive session, and she was very gentle and soft with me. Going into the session, I wanted her reassurance that she wasn’t going to leave me. But the way she spoke to me, made me feel very cared for, and I didn’t need to ask for that reassurance. Because I felt it.

I’m still feeling some of the after effects, but it’s not as intense as it was. I’m trying to practice self compassion.

This all proved to me just how important and vital deep and meaningful connection is for us as humans.

A Permanent Solution

They say “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. A temporary problem? How about years of “temporary problems”? Being hit time and time again. It’s not just one problem that pushes most people off the edge. It’s the problems that we’re stuck in for weeks, months, years. It all adds up. What then if you’re the problem? Well, then you’re screwed.

There’s only so far that a person can be pushed before they break.

“I’m a temporary problem”. Let them put that on a pretty little picture for google.

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#If Depression Were A Choice

My friend, Summer, started this series, and I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. It’s for a good cause. #endthestigma.

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t have stood on the jungle gym at my preschool, wanting to jump off, wishing the fall would kill me. Because what 5 year old has thoughts like that?

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t have been watching my primary school classmates having fun, while I could barely smile, let alone laugh. Because what kid doesn’t want to enjoy her childhood?

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t have had to witness my dads suicide attempts, trying to keep him conscious and breathing until the ambulance came. Because he could have just made the decision to not feel the pain and instantly be happy.

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t have lost two people I loved to suicide. Because they wouldn’t have been in such intense pain that would make them think it’s the only way out.

If Depression were a choice… There’d be no such thing as suicide. Because how can something exist without a cause?

If Depression were a choice… I would leap out of bed every morning. Because I would be excited about the adventures the day would bring.

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t have to smile and fake it. Because the happiness would be genuine.

If Depression were a choice… I’d never have to worry about what’s hiding behind someone’s smile. Because I’d know everything is okay.

If Depression were a choice… A bad day would just be a bad day. Because it would be easy to ‘snap’ out of it once the day was over.

If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t permanantly be exhausted. Because my mind and body would be full of vitality.

If Depression were a choice… I would have so much more time to do things I love and actually find joy and pleasure in doing them. Because I wouldn’t be wasting time in bed or on the cold floor, wishing to die instead.

But most importantly- If Depression were a choice… I wouldn’t just be surviving. I’d be living and thriving.

Why

This is a letter I wrote a few years ago, for a friend of mine who ended his life when we were 19 years old. I’m hoping that sending this out into the universe will help me let go.

Dear M,

You were one of my closest friends that year.

Standing on the balcony, without looking at me, you told me that you were in love with me. I didn’t know what to say. I just didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I knew I didn’t want to lie to you either. I told you the truth, and I could see the disappointment and hurt all over your face. When you walked away, I wanted to come after you, but I didn’t.

You were in the house right across from me. Before I fell asleep that night, I thought of you. I didn’t know that it would be your last night. Why didn’t I come see you? I should have come to you.

But I never got a second chance.

Why couldn’t I tell how you were feeling? I’m usually good at seeing beyond masks. So then why couldn’t I see past yours?

I’m so angry with you. Why didn’t you talk to me and tell me what was wrong? Why did you leave me behind? It’s not fair.

I had just been dealing with my dad’s suicide attempts. And then you went and succeeded. How was I supposed to feel when I had just lost a few of the most important people in my life over a 2 year period before meeting you, and had to deal with my dad, and then you?

But how can I be mad at you when I have been wanting to take my own life since I was a little girl? That makes me a hypocrite. But I never followed through. I stayed when every part of me wanted to leave this life. Why couldn’t you? Why did you have to leave? Sometimes I hate you.

I couldn’t even look your parents in their eyes at your funeral. How could I tell them that I was the reason you were gone? Because that’s how I felt at the time. That maybe I was the reason you finally gave up. Sometimes I still feel like that. It seems like the only explanation. I couldn’t bear to look at your picture. I just sat there. Numb. Empty.

I was so angry the day after you left, when they told us all that God had called you home. I wanted to stand up and yell at them. How dare they say that! That was the beginning of the end of my journey of faith. I know you would probably be disappointed, but I just can’t believe in a god that allows so much injustice and suffering.

Everyone else seemed to be over it after a few days, and carried on as if it had never happened. But I just couldn’t. Nothing felt real, and everything was a blur for the next few months. Life seemed to go on around me, people talking and laughing, my best friend didn’t even know how much I was struggling. I couldn’t talk about you. I wasn’t interested in anything. The voices all around me, seemed like they were miles away.

My heart is broken today.
Never again will I see your warm smile.
Never again will I hear your contagious laughter.

You were only 19. Your whole life was ahead of you.
You’ll never get to see another sunrise or sunset.
You’ll never get to feel the cool breeze on your skin.
You’ll never get to see the beauty of a baby being born.
You’ll never get to see the random acts of kindness that warm the soul.
You’ll never get to experience the love you deserved.

I’m so sorry for letting you down.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

You’ll always have a space in my heart.

Love,
Rayne