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 (Little) Light In The Dark

My posts lately have been dark and depressing. A representation of the space my internal life has been occupying. Sometimes, even during the darkest of moments, something or someone may come along that brings a little bit of light that pierces through that dark, heavy cloud, if only for a moment. It’s during these times that it’s so much more powerful.

Today, that light came in the form of a 3 or 4 year old little boy, while I was at work. I usually work in the back office with the people I unfortunately also live with, but I’ve been spending as little time as possible in there for the past two weeks. Since they own the business and I’m “family”, I pretty much do what I want, where I want (my work always gets done, even if I sit outside doing it). Today I was sitting at the front counter doing some filing, when a mother came into the store with her young son. After noticing them (I check that it’s not some dodgy, potentially dangerous person entering the shop) I got back to my work.

You know that feeling you get when someone is watching you? I felt that. When I looked to the side, I found the little man staring at me. I love children, so naturally, I smiled at him and said hello. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and what came next melted my heart.

Our very brief conversation:
“Are you a angel?”
“Maybe I am an angel. What do you think?”
“I think you are.”

#DAY.MADE

Quite the little charmer, isn’t he?

That kid will never know just how much he touched someone who was in desperate need of a little sunshine in her life.

He was my own little angel today.

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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!

Up, Up, Up

After having had a major depressive episode over the last month or so, the past few days have actually been pretty good. I felt like just another ‘normal’ person, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, I can’t remember ever feeling that way. It’s usually either way up there, or down deep. I had some low moods throughout the day, but nothing major.

I hardly slept last night (damn insomnia acting up again), yet I was okay during the morning and early afternoon. Got two bits of good news. I got a call for a job interview for Wednesday, and my Prescribed Minimum Benefits application for my therapy got approved. Which means I get 15 out-patient psychotherapy sessions, which the medical aid will cover. So for the next 3/4 months I won’t have to pay for my sessions. Now I can buy a bottle of champagne and some cake. Oh no, wait, I don’t even have money for that. At least it’s my birthday soon, so I can have some then. You’re all invited by the way. 😛 Anyway, I got the news about the PMB’s from Therapist. She sent me a text with a picture of the approval letter, and told me that it looks like I’m stuck with her now. Hell yes! Had a nice little text conversation. She really knows how to make me laugh. So I felt really good about the job interview and my PMB’s. Good, relieved (I was worried it wouldn’t get approved), and happy… But just normal happy.

But then, a few hours later, seemingly out of nowhere… I was hit with this:

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I was so charged up that it actually felt a little unbearable at times. I was annoying the family, and (jokingly) got referred to as a five-year-old. Okay, I wasn’t actually annoying them, they just said that I’m overwhelmingly hyper and talking way too fast for them to wrap their minds around what I was saying (or trying to say, at least).

I wasn’t just up. I was up, up, up. So high in fact, that you would have needed a giant telescope in order to see me.

Right now? Right now I’m dropping, but not as hard and fast as I usually do. No, this time I’m coming down with a parachute. And I’m exhausted. So by the time I come to a stop on the ground (if I don’t fall flat on my face), I’ll be dreaming of champagne and cake.

Interview Panic Sets In

I have an interview with one of my agents tomorrow (who I haven’t met in person yet).

He put my resume forward for a position at a relatively large company. The company expressed interest, but I first need to have an interview with my agent tomorrow. If he thinks I’m a good candidate for the job, I’ll go for the interview at the actual company on Wednesday.

This is a good thing, right? Well, since the horrible experience I had in my last job (read the posts here and here), I’m terrified. Once again it’s a full time position, 8am to 5pm. A challenge.

I don’t want to go for the interview tomorrow. I’m thinking of just not showing up. I’ve been feeling this panic running through me every now and then. I haven’t even picked out what I’m going to wear yet. I know I should do it right now, because I’m leaving early tomorrow morning in order to avoid the traffic. But I just don’t have the energy to do that simple little thing.

I’ve always been nervous going into an interview, but I have never felt this level of resistance before. I’m not too sure what’s going on here.

I’m both terrified that I’ll get the job, and terrified that I don’t get it. I swing from one extreme to the next. It’s incredibly confusing.

I have no idea what the hell is wrong with me, and why I’m making such a big deal about this. My emotions are running rampant. The panic, choking me.

I don’t know what to do.

“Daddy, Please Just Stop, And Notice Me.”

Right now I feel like a fragile little girl. A frightened, lost and heartbroken little girl.

I quit my job yesterday. I decided to stay until the end of the day though. I wanted to finish everything up and tie up loose ends, so that the manager wouldn’t have to do it the next day.

I didn’t tell my dad, because I was afraid of his reaction. I knew he wouldn’t take it well. I wanted to clear my head and organize my thoughts first, because the state of mind I was in wouldn’t allow me to communicate coherently.

True to form (he’s always felt like a stalker to me), he caught me and asked me why I wasn’t at work. He had also sent me a message earlier today asking whether I was at work, which he has never done since I started the job. When he caught me at home, I was thinking of lying, but decided to tell him the truth instead. That I quit. That I couldn’t stay until Friday. That I had had enough. I was drained. I am drained. He didn’t say much, but what he did say, and his tone of voice, told me that he was pissed off. I knew he would ask me about it later in the evening.

And he did. He didn’t shout (at first), but he wasn’t very nice either. He made me feel small. The more I tried to explain things to him, the more he went on, as if he wasn’t hearing anything I was saying. Lecturing me. Growing more and more agitated. At some point I just stopped trying to explain. I can’t remember some of the things he said, I just kept disassociating and being transported back to my childhood experiences with him. Not once did he ask me how I was feeling. He just kept telling me, over and over, how he felt. I was already feeling so depressed and overwhelmed. The emotions that had plagued me for most of the day. I really wasn’t in the mood for this. I told him that I want to talk about this some more, but could we rather please talk about it tomorrow because I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I told him that. Yet he carried on, repeating the same things over and over, everytime getting more and more angry. I started feeling so sick, that I thought I was going to throw up. I held my head in my hands, but he didn’t stop, just kept going on and on. Like he couldn’t see my distress. Or he just didn’t care. I wanted to yell “Please, just stop! Please, please, please!”

I tried to just get him to understand me. To really hear me. I eventually got so desperate that I mentioned that I feel like just giving up on life. In that moment, I was hoping that he would see just how serious this is. How bad I’m feeling. Bad enough to be considering suicide, and actually telling him that. Being that vulnerable with him. But he just yelled at me and said that’s stupid. That I know I’m just being stupid. I wanted to say “daddy, notice me. Please help me.” But most of all, “Daddy, please listen to me. I need you to be my hero right now. I need you. I was a hero for you when you were in that dark place. You should know how dark that place can be. Please be my hero now. Please just love me.” But instead he just said that, and told me to get over it. How do I get him to just understand a little bit at least? But how can he understand when I try to tell him and he doesn’t want hear it?

I don’t want to get into everything he said, but I’ll mention this… He told me that I do one thing for a year, and then drop it like a hot potato. That’s true. He mentioned a few other things. I wanted to laugh and tell him that he’s mentioning some of the symptoms of BPD that I struggle with. I’ve tried to explain BPD to him, but it’s like he’s on some other planet and I can’t reach him. If he had really listened to me when I tried to tell him what BPD is, he would have known. But he didn’t.

He also told me that everytime he tries to talk to me, I shut down. What he doesn’t realize is that me shutting down is a protective bubble that keeps me ‘safe’ from him and his words. Because they hurt. They rip my heart out. And those times when I really need to talk to him, he just wants to watch TV and says he doesn’t have time. But he has time to watch two series a night? I’ve tried talking to him so many times throughout my life, but it was always a lost cause. I told him tonight that I’ve tried to talk to him so often about things that are bothering me, how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking, but he either gets angry (he hates it when I express emotions – it seems I never learn), or turns everything around and the conversation turns to his feelings and life. I told him that I understand that, but sometimes I also just need him to listen to me. He then kept defending himself, and once again it was all about him. So I shut down.

I felt like that child and teenager again who just wanted his love. Even with all he’s done, and how I hate him so much most of the time, he’s still my dad. And I don’t know how to let go. Why I keep expecting things to be different. I guess I’m still looking for him to give me the kind of affection I’ve always wanted from him. The affection a child needs. Not the kind of ‘affection’ that only hurts and confuses a young child.

I just want my therapist right now. I feel like that little girl who desperately wants her mommy after a stressful event. Who needs her mom to comfort her and calm her down. Like you see in movies. Where the child has that one parent they can turn to when they’ve been hurt by their other parent. I don’t feel capable of soothing myself right now, but I know I have no other choice. It’s not the same though, and it’s so hard. Especially when you feel so young and fragile.

I never thought of my therapist as a mother figure before, but right now, I’m not sure how true that is anymore. Maybe subconsciously, I have been. Is this even possible? Or maybe it’s just now, tonight, that she’s taken the ‘mommy’ role in my mind. Because as far as I remember, this is the first time since I’ve started seeing her that I’ve felt this way. Maybe the little girl inside feels like she needs another parental figure to step in and tell her it’s okay. That she’s loved. And right now, Therapist seems like that person.

My heart is hurting so much.

Empty

Today I just feel empty.

Like I’m walking through this world without a soul right now.

Last week I set up a meeting with my boss. I wanted to tell her that I’ve been feeling uncomfortable in the office, as though they don’t want me there. I asked her what I could do to improve and whether there was anything she felt I needed to work on. She was angry that I had requested a meeting, since we were scheduled to only have a meeting at the end of the month. But that didn’t cut it for me. I wanted to find out what I need to work and improve on. Because it won’t help me to ask that the end of the month, as my probation period will be over. So what good will it do me then? A few months ago, I would never have had the courage to speak to her, tell her my concerns and ask for feedback on my work. But I did it last week. I really feel like therapy is helping me. I’ve noticed a few changes already. This being one of them.

Those of you who have read my previous post on my work situation, know that I wasn’t happy there. On Friday, I got handed my week’s notice, which really shocked me. I wasn’t expecting that. I was planning on leaving at the end of the month anyway, but now my last working day is the 18th, so I’ll only be getting part of my salary. I was counting on my full salary. But there’s nothing I can do about it. It is what it is. When I got that notice, I had surges of different emotions flooding me. But then, the emptiness set in. I didn’t know how I felt about it. My girlfriend spent a few nights at my place, so when I got home after work on Friday she was there, and she could see I wasn’t okay. I just fell into her arms and she held me tight. She asked me what was going on and I told her. But I was emotionless while talking about it. She asked how I felt about it, and I told her I feel empty. After that deep hug that she always gives me, and just being in her presence, I started feeling again. Content. Loved. Happy. But she had to leave yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been alone since then. Been working on my photography website and trying to get this business up and running. My back up plan.

When I woke up this morning, that emptiness grabbed a hold of me again.

My girlfriend said that maybe it’s because I haven’t been alone in a while, since we’re almost always together. And that served as a bit of a distraction. And now that I’m alone, the feelings and reality are hitting me. It makes sense.

She sent me this video, and I’m totally obsessed with it. The lyrics and music are beautiful. The song is called “Flatlands”.

Now I just need to tell my dad about this, since I live with him. I’m not looking forward to that conversation. He’s going to flip. He doesn’t understand that I’m an adult, and shouldn’t have to get his approval for everything. He’ll most probably blame me. That’s how it’s always been. I get blamed for everything that goes wrong in my life, and even in his.

I need to go into work this week, knowing that I’m not wanted there. That’s going to be hard. A part of me wants to rebel and not do anything I’m supposed to be doing. But I know I should probably just continue to work hard. I was thinking of not going in tomorrow, but then I won’t get paid up until the 18th, so I need to just push through.

I wish I can just sleep through the week, and wake up when it’s all over.