News for June 2012

A Lot Depends on Your Point of View

As the wise Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi said, in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, “Luke, you are going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

I bring this quote up, not just because I have loved Star Wars since I saw the original movie in the theater back in 1977, but because it is relevant to mental health as well.

Many things in life depend on our perspective. The way we perceive things can greatly alter how we feel and how we approach things. Changing how we perceive things can go a long way to helping cope with some of our challenges in life. A change may not make the world all rosy, but it can help.

Personally, I do not like to think of things like borderline personality disorder, bi-polar disorder, etc as ‘illnesses’. I think of them more as just a different way of processing things. Yes, they make things more challenging at times, but you can find a positive way to use them.

I am co-morbid with bpd and bi-polar disorder, but I have found that the different way of thinking lets me find solutions to problems that others may not see. It also enhances my creativity. It gives me an advantage when it comes to times to solve complex problems.

I try to focus on these positive ‘side-effects’ of bpd and bi-polar, along with the other positive ‘side-effects’, instead of the negative ones. Unfortunately, not only do we too often focus on the negative ones, they are the ones that are more often publicized.

‘Mental illness’ is not the only phrase that I hate. I hate the term ‘suffering’ even more than I hate ‘mental illness’. When we say we suffer from a certain challenge, it automatically paints a very negative picture. It puts us in a negative frame of mind right away.

I know things are hard at times, trust me I know. But, we do not need to let the hard times define us. We should not allow them to define us. We are more than our diagnosis, more than our challenges and hardships.

We need to take the hard times and use them to learn and grow stronger. It is like the Dalai Lama says:

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.

No matter what the hardship we face, no matter what the challenges we must meet, we can always learn from them. Sometimes, it is not easy to learn the lesson or even to know what we are supposed to learn, but it is always possible. We grow stronger with every tragedy we overcome, every hardship we endure and survive.

None of us ever need to suffer again. We can overcome anything.

 

Edited: June 29th, 2012

Trigger Warning: Face to Face with a Major Trigger

Note: This blog entry discusses coming face to face with one of my biggest triggers and my biggest trigger group. If auto accidents are a trigger for you, do NOT proceed further.

Today, I was exposed to my most severe trigger group, auto accidents. Before I go further I want to explain what I mean by a ‘trigger’ group. A trigger group is simply a group of closely related triggers. In this case the ‘auto accident’ group contains the following members:

  • Being in a bad accident
  • Seeing a bad accident first hand
  • Reading or hearing about a bad accident

The difference between each member is severity of response and how difficult it is to control the response. The first is the most severe while each subsequent one becomes less severe.

So today i got a message from Fairfax County alerting me of major delays to traffic because of a bad accident on one of the roads. As I read further, I found that the accident was on one of the roads I cross on my way to and from work everyday. Since it was, I had to look up more details to see if it would impact me or if it was far enough away not to affect me.

Unfortunately, the message went on to state that the accident was fatal
and not far from where I live, but not on the way home. This was the critical point for me. That one sentence took me back to July 3, 2009, when my wife and I had a near fatal accident in NJ. Three years later my wife is still healing from her injuries. I thought she was going to die next to me in the car that day. You can read the details here.

As a side note this entry is having a similar affect as the original message did today. I am having to fight the anxiety and terror, but i need to finish this entry. I am fighting the urge to break down by focusing on the task at hand.

I was able to control the emotions earlier by grounding myself. I grounded myself by feeling my pulse and concentrating on it. I didn’t care that I was at my desk and later in a meeting. I was going to do what I had to for my well-being. Besides, people know about my diagnoses and if they don’t, they know I am a little ‘eccentric’ at times. So they just chalk it up to me being me.

I was able to get through it by distracting myself and grounding myself with my pulse.

Edited: June 28th, 2012

Do Not Dwell on the Past, Look to the Future

We need to try to live in the present and not the past. It is important to put all the pain and mistakes behind us and look ahead. The future is not written yet. We can make anything we want out of it, but if we keep looking back, letting the mistakes and pain overtake us and control our emotions and feelings, we will never get anywhere and we will never be happy.

Instead, if we want happiness we need to look forward. We need to stop looking back, but even more we need to believe we deserve happiness and to have what we want. We need to believe that we deserve love despite our mistakes. We need to remember that a bad choice here and there does not define us as a person. It does not mean that we are bad people and that we do not deserve happiness just because of a few bad choices.

 

Edited: June 27th, 2012

Lack of a True Identity


I am still feeling the effects of yesterday some, but nowhere as bad as earlier and yesterday. The annoying part though, is that it is still there, but even more than that, is that I am pissed with myself. I always have identified myself more by my relationships/jobs/etc than internally. It has been a majority of external factors. It has always been

I am my parent’s son
I am M’s husband (well ex now lol)
I am a business analyst
I am a friend to _______
I am the person that helps this person/people

Don’t get me wrong, all those things are indeed part of who I am and add meaning and value to my life and identity. They add a great deal of fulfillment. I just feel that I define myself more by those things than anything else. That I need the validation from others to feel alive and important. I feel at times that without it that I am just a ghost, an observer in life, that I am abstract not concrete. That’s why when I am involved with someone and they aren’t around I get so depressed. I miss them like crazy yes, but I also start to panic..”Do they remember me?,” “Did I say or do something wrong?,” “Are they leaving me?,”Did they find someone better?,” “Do they still love me?.” Side note here, I did not panic last year, I knew why, I understood it, and knew it had to happen. My questions then were “Is she ok?,” “Is she getting the help she needs?,” “Is it helping her?,” etc…

But yeah, I identify more with who I am to others than I do with who I am internally. It just pisses me off that I feel that I need to have others validate me more than I need to do it myself. Yes we all need external validation at times, but I feel it is too often with me. There are places where I desperately seek your validation, BUT…

I am grateful that you have not validated or invalidated me in those places. Until I can do it for myself it won’t help, it will only hurt. If you validated me now, I would never believe it, if you condemned me, it would devastate me. So thank you for having the wisdom not to say anything either way.

Note: I originally wrote this in September 2008 in one of my journals. It was directed toward a particular person. You know of her by now if you follow my blog even semi-regularly.

Edited: June 27th, 2012

Two Decades of Turmoil

Note: I wrote this on September 11, 2008, a week before my birthday. At the time I was going through a very difficult time. This was originally an entry in one of my journals on http://www.livejournal.com and addressed to a very special friend “A”. If you have read other entries in my blog or know me well, you will have heard me talk about a young woman with BPD.

The highs and more prominently the lows of mine you see stretching before you are things I have fought on and off for 20 years. While I normally have a good measure of stability, I have my periods, as you can see of turmoil. The last 17 months have seen the highest peaks and lowest valleys I ever remember in my near 36 years.

My highs have been tied to you directly. My lows, sadly, mostly tied to “the nameless one”. There has also been a few ironic moments. The two most notable are the fear you always had of hurting me was caused not by you but by “the nameless one”. So much living hell I went through. I look back and laugh at the irony of it. The other major one was when a woman here wanted to be with me. At the time I was borderline suicidal and my emotions all over the place. She let me know of her desire and I found myself saying those words you once said to me. That it was to dangerous so no. She said she would take the risk and I told her no I couldn’t and wouldn’t let her. As I said it I almost laughed at the irony. To make it even more so, want to guess her name? LMAO.

I have bumped into more A’s since I have known you then ever before.

I have long fought these problems as I said. The thing that has helped the most, that has got me through the storm, before I met you since no one understood me, was my intelligence. I have learned many things, including and most importantly, how to tell when an emotional reaction is in conflict to the facts. For example, feeling everyone hates me vs. I know there are some people who love me very much. I figured out that the feeling was not what it should be. I also figured out that even though it didn’t match up, that it was how I felt and that I had to learn to deal with it regardless of it was how I should feel. That my feelings were my feelings and not invalid. Even more than that I figured out that those misaligned feelings were purely emotional. Pretty good for an everyday guy huh? LOL

OK I know, I am far from ordinary. I know I have a lot to offer someone, especially love. I love totally, unconditionally and forever no matter what happens in life.

I also forgive instantly and totally when I love someone. I have also had a friend tell me “not everyone is as self-less as you.”

I figured out as well that I am not a total failure and am a good person, even if at times my emotions make me doubt.

As for would I ever make a good at certain things, I still have doubts. My own mistakes are the cause of that doubt. I have actually come a long way in coping as you see, even if I backslide at times.

The other thing that I have really improved on, my temper. I still have moments here and there but many less than ever before.

Funny thing, once I made my wife leave they decreased, until I was with “the nameless one”, then they increased again. Guess what, they are back down, a lot.

I have fought myself and others since high school to get where I am.

It has been long and hard. Harder at times, easier at others. I have toyed with using the name Chaotic Ventrue in chat. I am chaotic, we both know that lol. Ventrue is a class of vampires, they are usually the princes and ruling class. I once told someone I work with about the torment I endured in high school and her comment was “wow, I am surprised you aren’t a mass murderer.”

I am a fighter even when I don’t want to, part of won’t give up. When I have that bright spot to focus on, that reason I can’t give up, it strengthens me, makes me want to fight harder.

I have walked many dark miles, illuminated at times only by the lightning from the storms that have raged in my soul. Other times I walk in bright and pure light. The Billy Joel songs:”I go to Extremes” and “Angry Young Man” fit me or have fit me almost perfectly over the years.

Too high or too low
There ain’t no in between
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darlin’ I don’t know why I go to extremes
From I go to extremes.

I once promised you I would die for you. Now I make an even more important and much harder promise to you A. I promise to live. That no matter what that even when I am laying here curled up in tears wanting to give up, I won’t. I will fight for my life no matter what.

I hope one day someone will admire me as much as I admire you for all you have accomplished this past year and for being you. Though for some reason I doubt it will happen. As I write this,I have decided that if I ever have a daughter she will be named A. I hope when that day comes, she is even half the person you are. If she is she will be an amazing and wonderful person.

You have had an incredibly powerful and POSITIVE impact on my life.

Thank you for coming into my life. For being such a great friend. Last but not least, for giving me your support now when I need it the most.

Edited: June 24th, 2012

Twinned Emotions

This entry is “inspired” by the way I felt the other day. At the time I had twin emotions racing through me. One emotion was a rage that burned inside me like an uncontrolled wildfire. The other emotion was a deep emotional hurt that ran as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The two emotions fed on each other, screaming one thing at me “DESTROY”. They were screaming at me to destroy anything and everything around me. They wanted me to hurt myself. Thankfully, I was able to keep enough control of my rational mind to avoid giving into these emotions.

It is hard enough to keep control of myself when one emotion goes off the rails, but when they twin up like this it is that much harder. It starts to create a ‘perfect storm’ inside me. Two powerful negative emotions entwine and dance within me at these times, trying to mate to create an even more sinister emotion. They feed off and build on each other, threatening to consume me.

Edited: June 21st, 2012

The Road So Far…

I look back over the last five years to see the road behind and see a road of many twists and turns and hills and valleys.

A radical shift in my life started right around this time five years ag someone in late May to early June 2007. I was five to six months removed from separating from my now ex-wife and had just started dating someone I met online.

They lived a few thousand miles away from me, but we had a strong connection. The relationship would change my life forever, even though it would turn out to be brief.

Not long into the relationship, a series of events occurred that led to the young woman almost dying, her being diagnosed with BPD and my blaming myself for what happened.

I blame myself, present tense blame, for what happened to her because I still feel I triggered the nearly fatal events, but that is a different story altogether.

The events led to two major changes in my life. The first change was that I found a therapist for myself. I knew that I would need the emotional support to help me cope with I knew would be challenging relationship at times. I also started going back to a therapist to learn more about BPD and how to safely interact with her. I wanted to make sure that I understood how to interpret her behavior.

I also needed to learn how to put up protective boundaries for both our sakes. At that point, I had no boundaries. I also started seeing the therapist for my own problems, but that was secondary for me at the time. I knew she needed my support and stability.

After a few things happened, none of which being her diagnosis, we had to go our separate ways. That triggered the second major change, I became intent to not just learn everything I could about BPD, but to do everything I could to raise awareness for it and try to prevent others from feeling the same pain I did when we broke up. In essence, it gave my life the purpose I knew was there all along. For over decade I knew that my life was meant to be more than a 9-5 work day, come home spend time with the family life, but until then I didn’t know what that purpose was.

All of this happened within the span of a few months in 2007.

Over the next few years, I would keep seeing my therapist. After about twenty years of struggling, I was finally diagnosed. I was finally able to start properly addressing my problems. During this time I kept reading about BPD, going to conferences on BPD, talking to my therapist about it and trying to connect with as many people with BPD as I could find. I personally have found, that the people with BPD that I have met are some of the nicest and best people I have ever had to pleasure to know. I would much rather have them in my life than most of the so-called ‘normals’ I know.

A lot of what I read and learned, I was able to apply to myself, even before I had any kind of diagnosis. During this time, I was also drawn to the writings and teachings of the current Dalai Lama, including the concept of mindfulness. Between that point and June 2009 I had a series of ups and downs and bad episodes that led to me self-harming.

Things got to the point where a few times I considered signing into a mental health ward for inpatient therapy. I never did sign-in, partly because my therapist did not feel I needed to do so, but also because of work related reasons. I would then start clawing my way out of the pit. I would then to a plateau and feel good, only to have the bottom fall out from under me after a short while. It was a vicious cycle on clawing up and then relapsing.

Finally, around May 2009, I reached a good stable point in my life. My therapist and I agreed that I only needed to come in every other week instead of every week like I had been doing for about two years. My therapist even asked me how I got to the point where I was at, so she could see if there was anything she could leverage to help her other clients.

Things were going well. I started dating my wife, I was making progress in a number of areas of my life that I wanted to make progress in and things were going well.

Note: The link below opens a blog entry on one of my other blogs. Please note that I consider the entry full of severe triggers. It describes a severe auto accident, and includes pictures of the car.  If you are sensitive to these things, do not even think about clicking the link. Be careful.

Then July 3, 2009 came. My wife and I had a severe accident that once again turned my life upside down. The result of the accident was a major relapse. It almost set me back to day one of my time with my therapist.

The last three years, I have been spent clawing and fighting my way back to where I was in May 2009, you can see the struggle in the blog entries on this site.

I do not know that I am there yet, but I am getting close. I am back to only seeing my therapist every two or three weeks and doing  relatively well. I still have hard days and moments, but I am resisting the urge to self-harm. As a rule my outbursts are less frequent, shorter and less intense.

I wonder, if it had not been for the accident, would I have been able to achieve the dreamed of ‘recovery’ or at least remission? I guess there is no point dwelling on what might have happened, and deal with what can and will happen going forward.

Edited: June 20th, 2012

And These Are NOT Monsters

Before you this you should read my article These are Monsters…. The two articles go together and makes more sense when both are read.

The earlier article provided a few examples of and a description of what a monster is. Now, I will explain what a monster is not.

Most things I the world are not monsters, the end of this article will offer a short list of a few things that are not monsters. Since this site is about mental health, I will focus on the fact that:

People who have mental illnesses are not monsters.

We are people, just like everyone else. We laugh, we cry, we bleed, we eat, we sleep, we have relationships, we love, we hurt and we do everything else you do. Sometimes, it is hard for us to do the things you take for granted. It is not always easy to get out of bed in the mornings, sometimes it takes everything we have to do just that one thing that is so trivial for you.

We want the same things you do, happiness, success, family and friends.

Unlike the monsters you make us out to be, we do not eat humans, we do not drain a person’s life force, and we do not drink people’s blood to survive.

We do not have fangs, claws and we cannot change our shape. We are not made of black ooze or smoke. We do not posses people.

You do not need magic to bind or summon us. A rope binds us just fine and a phone call does a great job in summoning us. You do not need any special rituals or special weapons to kill us, the same things that kill you would kill us.

Dousing us with Holy Water will not hurt us, but it will make us look at in a weird way. Performing an exorcism on us will also get you a strange look, but it will not cause us any pain.

Here is a partial list of other things that are not monsters:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Birds
  • People from other countries
  • People of a different religion
  • Atheists
  • Liberals
  • Conservatives
  • People who have a different skin color
  • People of the opposite gender
  • Poor people
  • Middle income people
  • Rich people
  • Homosexuals
  • Heterosexuals
  • Bisexuals
  • Transgenders
  • and on and on

Just to refresh your memory, here is a partial list of things that ARE monsters:

  • Wendigos
  • Vampires
  • Ghosts
  • Ghouls
  • Zombies
  • Werewolves
  • Demons
  • Shtriga
  • Rougarou
  • Buruburu
  • Rawhead/Bloody Bones
  • Rakshasa
  • Acheri

Edited: June 13th, 2012

These are Monsters…

It seems that a great deal of confusion exists amongst the ‘normals’ in the world when it comes to knowing what a monster is, so I have put together this handy little explanation to help you explain out to them. You may want to carry it with you. This is the first of two parts on These are Monsters and We Are Not Monsters.

Here are a few examples of monsters:

Wendigos

Wendigo

The Wendigo is part of the traditional belief systems of various Algonquian-speaking tribes in the northern United States and Canada, most notably the Ojibwe and Saulteaux, the Cree, the Naskapi and the Innu people. Though descriptions varied somewhat, common to all these cultures was the conception of Wendigos as malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings (manitous) of great spiritual power. They were strongly associated with the Winter, the North, and coldness, as well as with famine and starvation.

At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess: never satisfied after killing and consuming one person, they were constantly searching for new victims. In some traditions, humans who became overpowered by greed could turn into Wendigos; the Wendigo myth thus served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendigo

Shtriga

ShtrigaThe Shtriga (ultimately from the Roman strix; compare also Romanian strigã and Slavic strzyga), in Albanian folklore, was a vampiric witch that would suck the blood of infants at night while they slept, and would then turn into a flying insect (traditionally a moth, fly or bee). Only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

In the beliefs of people of Ancient Rome, these are evil female creatures. They manifest as birds with female faces that would steal small children left unattended. They were a type of vampire and also used as a very evil Nursery bogie to control the behavior of children. This word now denotes a witch in modern Italian folklore.

http://shadowcouncil.tumblr.com/post/7562216528/deitiesanddemons-the-shtriga-ultimately-from

Rakshasa

Rakshasa

A Rakshasa or alternatively rakshas, is a race of mythological humanoid beings or unrighteous spirit in Hindu and Buddhist religion. Rakshasas are also called man-eaters (“Nri-chakshas,” “Kravyads”). A female Rakshasa is called a Rakshasi, and a female Rakshasa in human form is a Manushya-Rakshasi. Often Asura and Rakshasa are interchangeably used.
According to the Ramayana, Rakshasas were created from Brahma’s foot; other sources claim they are descended from Pulastya, or from Khasa, or from Nirriti and Nirrita. Hinduism maintains that the Rakshasas were particularly wicked humans in previous incarnations.[citation needed] Rakshasas are notorious for disturbing sacrifices, desecrating graves, harassing priests, possessing human beings, and so on. Their fingernails are venomous, and they feed on human flesh and spoiled food. They are shapechangers, illusionists, and magicians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakshasa

Acheri

In Indian mythology, an Acheri is the ghost or spirit of a little girl who comes down from mountains and hilltops at night to bring sickness to humans, particularly children. The only defense against an Acheri was thought to be a red ribbon tied around one’s neck. The Acheri is said to bring death to the elderly or other people with low immune system defences.

http://www.freebase.com/view/en/acheri

And here are a few more examples of monsters:

Edited: June 11th, 2012

Double Down…

After last weeks crash, things have started turning around for me. I have felt better the last few days than I did for about two weeks before crashing on Wednesday. I do not remember what day it was, but after the episode I remembered an entry from earlier this year, Decision 2012.

In the entry, I wrote that I was tired of the crap the last few years had brought me and struggling so much. I decided that I absolutely refused to have another bad year this year and that if 2012 tried to get in the way of my having I could year that I would kick its butt.

So, while I had a few rough weeks, I am not going to let it get in my way of a good year. I am long overdue for a good year and this will be a good year. Period. I am determined to have a good year.

There will be rough patches, but they will be the exception and not the rule.

 

Edited: June 10th, 2012

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