Mirror, Mirror – #Trust30: Day 3

Mirror, Mirror by Esther Poyer

“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mirror, mirror on the wall… find the nearest mirror. Look. Keep looking for 3 minutes. Write about what you see.

I find this exercise repulsive. It very much hit me in a depersonalized space and exemplifies my unstable sense of identity so I decided to cross post it here as well.

The thought of looking into my own eyes only to see a stranger staring back at me is, disconcerting. I recognize the girl on the other side of the mirror.

She has my father’s eyes, my mother’s nose. Cherry black hair and more metal than half the machines out in my shop, but she isn’t me. Is she? Maybe she is and I just can’t see, beyond the surface layer of skin and sinew that binds me up inside.

I’d find her attractive if she wasn’t so comfortably unfamiliar.

Floating two feet to the left of me I sense my motions walking through a world detached from the rest of me. Too often it feels like watching some other force pilot a body I recognize as my own, watching the reactions to my movements to guess the next step that someone else will be taking. It’s worse when I think about it. The detachment more pronounced. Staring at myself is all the more disconcerting for the knowledge that I should know who this woman is. Cognitively I know that I should see her and internalize that she is me, and cognitively I do know what she is, but I have no attachment to my reflection. She’s who I want my physical Self to appear to be. But is she really me?  Hm, in part I believe she is. Certain things draw my eye. I am attracted to certain things, so naturally I want to incorporate those things into my Self. Isn’t that how we develop our personalities and self image growing up? We see things we appreciate, mimic them, until we make them our own. I’m well past the mimicry. What draws us is integral to that which we are so what I see is who I want to be. On the outside.  Fortunately for me, I can’t see my insides reflected on this glass. A sight I’ve seen before. That is a part of me, that should stay where it belongs. Blood and tissue, fat and tears; things I work to keep from my mirror. I don’t want to see what I know is actually there. Don’t want to see who I’m afraid I might be. I don’t want to look. Nothing you can do, can make me.

Eyes lie. Tell me this is someone I am, who I should be, who I can be. Maybe this time she speaks the truth, but her words have proven false so many times I no longer know the sound of those that ring true. Pretty words from soft lips look like promises wrapped in straight jackets of gold. The madness she feels is real. Truth.

Writing this was very triggering and I had to stop.  
 

crossposted: Asylum
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Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

I missed therapy last week because I was in Chicago. The brakes on my car went out so I missed therapy this Monday too, but my therapist was too concerned to let me go a whole other week and squeezed me in late last night.
I’ve been a serious mess. I missed my psychiatrist appointment some time ago b/c they didn’t call to remind me like they always do. I haven’t rescheduled. I don’t know if I want to go back. I decided I wasn’t going to take the Respirdal. Having not rescheduled my Pdoc appointment I’m almost out of my Lamictal, which I’m fine with. I’m weaning myself off. For the last few months I’ve been having really bad night sweats (gross, I know), and for the last two months I haven’t had my period (no, I’m not pregnant). I’ll go back eventually I’m sure.  The thought of going back is making me really anxious and I don’t want to. I have been massively depressed the last few days but idk if this is because I’m coming off my meds or because the last week or two is just catching up to me and I’ve been exhausted. Anyways.
One of the first things my therapist said to me when I sat down was, “Wow, have you lost weight? You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight”.  She didn’t really know me before I put on all the weight from the Symbyax so she doesn’t recognize this as being closer to my normal weight. However, my periodic bulimia has also become not so periodic. I’ve been binging, or just purging what I perceive as having eaten too much… almost every night for the last week. My weight loss has not actually been in any way dramatic in the last week though, so it’s probably a combination of that and my steady, healthier, weight loss.  Last night was the first night I was really able to monitor myself and I didn’t throw up.  She’s especially concerned because this is clearly an indicator of underlying emotional issues. I’ve been bored and lonely and I feel like I can’t fill up the time alone in my head. Food is there,  it’s something to do, it keeps me busy, it’s comforting and satisfying, it fills me up physically… until it isn’t, and I realize I’ve gone too far and I’ll be paying for it in the morning. Then there’s the release, and I feel calm, and more in control. Release. Calm. Control. This is not the right way to go about finding these things.
She thinks a lot of my underlying issues still revolve around Friend and how I’m trying to maintain one aspect of our relationship (our friendship) while repressing and shutting down the feelings that came with the physical/emotional aspect of it. She thinks this conflict is causing me a lot of distress. I think I’m sick of all of it. I’m lonely. I’m very, very lonely.  I need to accept the fact that Friend can not be the kind of friend I am used to and want to have. Accept this on all levels, not just the part where I obviously know this cognitively. I’m afraid to lose my friend, that I’ll lose one of the very few strong connections I have. A connection that I already feel is falling away from me. I can’t reconcile wanting to be friends with him and wanting to not be affected by him. I just want to enjoy the friendship and interests we have in common, but another part of my brain is yelling about how hurt it still is and won’t let me let go of it so I can just relax back into the comfortable space we used to share. It feels like a physical clashing inside my head. I’m lonely. I’m alone. I have no control over this feeling or this state.
From Myself towards Friend I want: To be free of the emotional baggage, have my friendship, and not feel used by everything that went on.
For Myself I want: Someone that I enjoy spending time with, that cares about me, and can be the kind of person that I need to have in my life.
Two separate things, of two separate sources.
Speaking of… I have a date Saturday =) I’m so out of the loop on this whole dating thing. I am really looking forward to it though. We seem to have a lot in common and she really does seem to be a warm, caring, positive person. One day at a time concerning her, but she’s someone to look forward to. If nothing else, a new friendship is healthy.
My therapist is hopeful. That I’m trying is even more important though. It’s so easy to stay locked in the same ruts and routines, regardless of how unhealthy they’ve become. It’s hard for me to pull myself away from something so familiar. I fall into those patterns because they’re predictable, they don’t change, I know what is coming next … even when it inevitably isn’t exactly what it was the time before. I have no way of predicting things I haven’t done before.
I don’t even know how to explain the anxiety that comes with the unexpected. What I’ve had before might not be good but it’s not surprising, there’s some line connecting the dots of the past, present, and future. I can’t predict everything, but I have some semblance of where my feet will fall. Pulling myself away from that familiarity… could lead down a path of wonderful adventures, but it’s all an unknown. What if it doesn’t work out and then I can’t find my way back? If I stop my patterns from before, I won’t be able to pick up where I left off. My connection will have slipped and I’ll be foreign there too.
What irritates me is I’m not a timid person. I’m not shy. I don’t let others lead me by the hand. I don’t balk at beginning new projects or endeavors… except when it comes to people. I’m still holding on to those last shredded threads of what had been this relationship. I don’t know how to let go and not lose all of it forever. I don’t know how to leave behind what something was and let it evolve into what it will be. It’s a leap of faith I need to take in myself.
All I can do is try.
           
She wanted to give me a journaling assignment and I could see her wanting to come up with something revolving around my bulimia but she decided against it. Instead:
Homework: Journal. Think about the therapeutic relationship I have with my therapist, whether I feel the space is safe, I feel she understands me, respects my boundaries, etc.
The things that immediately come to mind:
1.)    I still don’t feel a connection to my therapist. Clearly I know and recognize her, but I don’t have any real attachment to her. I doubt this is her fault.
2.) I don’t think she sees me for me at all. However, I also think this is because my view of myself is so distorted. I’m not sure I actually see me for me.  I’m a depressed, terrible, flawed person. I know all of my faults and imperfections. I see them all clearly. She tells me that I’m a role model for how well I treat those around me, for all that I’ve accomplished, that I’m capable of doing etc. What she sees in me, I don’t see in me. Is this her failing or mine? Probably mine.  She chooses to focus on the positive. I almost exclusively see the negative. I feel like she’s ignoring the negative because she wants to see the positive, but I’m beginning to wonder if she’s really just trying to get me to see myself in a more rounded way. She obviously works with me on the imperfect parts of my life. She’s not ignoring that. Maybe she just doesn’t have as hard a time remembering the other aspects of my life that I don’t seem to be able to hold onto.
3.) I’m not sure I have boundaries. If she doesn’t push my boundaries how am I going to uncover what I need to figure out about myself? If anyone should be able to pull me out of my comfort zone and confront the aspects of myself that I don’t want to face, it should be her. Right?
Those are my thoughts for today. I’m a little out of it. Distinctly depersonalizing more often, again.

Shadow of my Self

Losing control of my mask.

It was a weekend. A long, long weekend. I’m including Monday in this too, even though I was technically working. I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.

Friday I hung out with Friend. I don’t know why I was there. Usually I feel some connection. I was alone in that room. Watching movies, geeking out, I couldn’t contribute. He kept talking, I wish he wouldn’t, I couldn’t think. I had nothing to say. I found myself mindlessly agreeing with him. About nothing particularly important, but I no longer had anything to say to him. He doesn’t even feel familiar to me.
No one does. Monday, waiting for my plane I texted all the friends I should feel close to. Nothing. Empty. Hollow tubes connecting where solid ties should exist. I don’t know what to do.
Saturday I knew it would be a bad day. As soon as I got home from Friends the night before I knew I was alone. Utterly. I slept as much as I could. Forcing my sleeping drugs down my throat to not feel. Saved by an unlikely source, my tattoo artist called me and I hung out at the shop going over his design. It’s not right, not yet. I’m obsessing over it. Figuring out how to make it more my own. I’ll sit down with him again this week, but I need to do it before Saturday when I’m having it done. I’m dreaming about it, how it can go wrong. How I’ll settle to not upset him since he put so much work into it already. But this needs to be about me, not just his talent. I will live with this and I can’t let someone else   I can’t. I have to remember this. Too often I let others have too much leeway. This is one area I cannot compromise. I’ll take this for me, because it is for me.
Sunday, I hung out with another guy I’m becoming friends with. I don’t know how to discourage him from liking me in a way that is more than I can offer, more than I care to offer. I don’t want to lead him on. I’m suspicious this is the only reason he’s around. I’m unable to not question his motives. I don’t know if I’m paranoid or perceptive. Got home that night and I finally gave in. Alone in my apartment I drank, ate, binged, purged. The last thought before going to bed should not be, this is how bulimia is supposed to be.
Monday I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.  Me and a colleague, networking with others in my industry.
I couldn’t maintain my mask. People talk about masks occasionally. That image you present to the outside world to cover up what hides inside. The shroud thrown over your true Self to blend in with the crowd. Masking the madness within. It didn’t crumble completely. The weight of being someone I’m not for so long at one time, for someone that knows nothing of me other than the professionalism I present. There was no walking away. No slipping out to slough off the pressure pulling me down.
I work alone, occasionally mingling with coworkers. I can take a break when I need to drop the façade with no one monitoring me. During the day, meeting other professionals in my field, I held up. I held up for a long time. Too long. Usually I can walk away, take some time to release the pressure building up from crushing down my core. No opportunity this day. Not even a minute for me.

 

Walking the Ring I felt myself floating away. My mind reeling in that depersonalized spiral. My surroundings surreal. Watching the wall of electronics and machinery I floated two feet to my right. Hovering heady and light. I felt too tall; disembodied.  I’ve become so used to my dissociated emotions, but I have generally felt grounded. My body my own. Not this time.
Next, visiting a manufacturer, touring the machine shop my vision blurred. I viewed everything through a foggy lens that wouldn’t rub from my glasses. I love machine shops, the noise, the smell, the rush of productivity… too much, too much for me that day. I couldn’t focus my thoughts; I couldn’t tune my attention to what was being told to me.  I relied too much on my colleague to keep up the conversation. Interjecting only when I knew I needed to.
By the time we got back to the airport I could no longer project the professionalism. Not an emotional crumble, but too personal. Talk of school, spending my time alone, geekery, movies, forgetting to watch my pronouns, I felt like I was lying when I mentioned past boyfriends knowing that this was not my preference; knowing I did this only to redirect attention from a part of me I’ve embraced. I’m not used to repressing parts of me that I am believe in. Hiding in a closet has never been my way; however I never spend time socially with colleagues making it easy for me to never mention it. Professional is not personal, and my personal has no place in my professional. My identities don’t bleed together. There is no seamless transition. There is one, or there is the other. I tried to toe this line, but even talking about subjects that were safer I felt myself hunching over my beer, staring into the amber liquid looking for a way out. I played to my exhaustion, and his. It’s all I could think to do.
Coming into work this morning I feel well rested. I feel utterly out of place. This is not my environment. It’s wrong. Clothes that don’t fit, an office that is not me, air I can’t breathe. I no longer have a choice. I picked my path and now I have to see it through, but something broke. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces; glue them back together. The cracks in my armor are apparent to me and everyone will see that my façade is a fraud. I’m sure of it. I’m living someone else’s life.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Stats and Facts Part 3

Approximately 25% of those with BPD/ERD also meet the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder.
So let me tell you a story. I had to go to a counseling session because I made a very poor decision concerning alcohol and driving. I had to have a psychological evaluation and talk to a social worker about my past and stuff. First off, let me tell you that I hate, HATE, talking to shrinks that are not of my choosing. I don’t believe it’s any of anyone’s business to ask me such personal questions, intimate, details of my life. Especially when they inevitably make snap decisions and diagnosis because one session is not enough time to understand anyone. So anyways, I had this session. The guy (the only male counselor other than my psych I’ve ever talked to) started asking me questions off of a list of psych questions. It was clear that he cared precisely zero about me as a person. He just needed to get through his checklist. Throughout the interview he ask me questions, then instead of letting me talk, cuts me off and proposes his own theories and tangents. So he’s asking me these questions when he gets to the section on pysical/mental/emotional abuse. It’s at this point I’m debating whether or not I want to tell him the truth or just get him to skim past this. I decided that the truth would work to my benefit as it was part of why I landed there in the first place. So as soon as I start saying yes to some of his questions his eyes light up and he proclaims that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. WTF? He didn’t even ask me to elaborate on the situations he was asking about. He just went on and on about PTSD, cutting me off when I tried to elaborate, and got way to excited about my potential mental disorder. It was clear that PTSD was his pet subject. So while I have technically had a diagnosis of PTSD, I don’t believe it. It makes me wonder how accurate some diagnoses are too. People are human and therefore subject to their own biases.
And while I might fit the technical criteria for PTSD, the incidents that made him jump to this conclusion had less lasting traumatic effect on me than did a really bad car accident I was in while I was at university (years after my BPD emerged).
So let’s take a look at what PTSD is (and how I potentially fit the criteria):
Causes – Psychological trauma:
“PTSD is believed to be caused by either physical trauma or psychological trauma, or more frequently a combination of both. PTSD is more likely to be caused by physical or psychological trauma caused by humans such as rape, war, or terrorist attack than trauma caused by natural disasters. Possible sources of trauma include experiencing or witnessing childhood or adult physical, emotional or sexual abuse. In addition, experiencing or witnessing an event perceived as life-threatening such as physical assault, adult experiences of sexual assault, accidents, drug addiction, illnesses, medical complications, or employment in occupations exposed to war (such as soldiers) or disaster (such as emergency service workers).  Traumatic events that may cause PTSD symptoms to develop include violent assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, torture, being a hostage, prisoner of war or concentration camp victim, experiencing a disaster, violent automobile accidents or getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. Children or adults may develop PTSD symptoms by experiencing bullying or mobbing. Preliminary research suggests that child abuse may interact with mutations in a stress-related gene to increase the risk of PTSD in adults.”
Criteria:
The diagnostic criteria for PTSD, stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (Text Revision) (DSM-IV-TR), may be summarized as.
A: Exposure to a traumatic event
– This must have involved both (a) loss of “physical integrity”, or risk of serious injury or death, to self or others, and (b) a response to the event that involved intense fear, horror or helplessness (an event was “outside the range of usual human experience.”).
Yep. Definitely had a few such instances involving abuse and a particularly bad car accident.
B: Persistent re-experiencing
– One or more of these must be present in the victim: flashback memories, recurring distressing dreams, subjective re-experiencing of the traumatic event(s), or intense negative psychological or physiological response to any objective or subjective reminder of the traumatic event(s).
You be the judge. I often have distressing dreams but they’re no longer terrorizing. Intense negative responses: If you consider an inability to let most guys touch me without utter revulsion, freaking out and regretting any instance where it occurs outside of my comfort zone, constantly disavowing any intimate male companionship (this never sticks) and quickly second guessing, overanalyzing their motives… or… when I’m a passenger in someone else’s vehicle I often have knee jerk reactions with braking too hard, or getting to close to other vehicles. This causes me to pull back, hard knees to chest, my heart rate to speed up, grabbing onto the ‘oh shit’ handle and my breath catching in my throat. I prefer to drive.
C: Persistent avoidance and emotional numbing
This involves a sufficient level of:
– avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, such as certain thoughts or feelings, or talking about the event(s);
– avoidance of behaviors, places, or people that might lead to distressing memories;
inability to recall major parts of the trauma(s), or decreased involvement in significant life activities;
– decreased capacity (down to complete inability) to feel certain feelings;
– an expectation that one’s future will be somehow constrained in ways not normal to other people.
Heh. After some such events I severed contact with certain people, wanting nothing to do with them or those that are involved with them. Avoiding situations where I might even have the possibility of running into them. Not places that I was sure they would be (though of course I won’t go there) but places they might be, where there is even a small chance of it. After one incident in my early 20’s I completely repressed events, only recalling it years later after I found a journal that I had written immediately after and then completely forgot about. I still only have flashes of this, not a full recollection. Decreased capacity to feel certain feelings. ::smirk:: I often have a complete inability to feel feelings at all. This problem is what lead to the diagnosis of my Dissociative Disorder. When I have extreme stress, loss, and/or conflict I depersonalize and derealize from my life and even my own body. I do absolutely expect that my future will be constrained. My present is currently constrained in ways not normal to other people. I have a Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m pretty sure, by definition, this qualifies for ways not normal to other people.  I believe this has more to do with my depression than any traumatic experience that I suffered after this problem began.
D: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before
-These are all physiological response issues, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or problems with anger, concentration, or hyper vigilance.
Long posts need more pictures
I think they need a better phrase than ‘increased arousal’. This did not immediately inspire thoughts of heightened awareness if you know what I mean. I have always had extreme difficulty with sleep. I had insomnia for years that still occasionally creeps back (last night for example – so freaking tired). Even with the prescribed medication that I’m on specifically to help me sleep I have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, and once I wake up, calming my brain down enough to return to sleep.  Anger, hah, see this post. My therapist just brought up my sense of hyper vigilance yesterday as a form of self protection. All of these things, however, were a problem well before any real trauma that I suffered and were not the result of bad experiences that I can recall. I imagine that some of the experiences I’ve had since the onset of this most likely exacerbated the problem.  
E: Duration of symptoms for more than 1 month
– If all other criteria are present, but 30 days have not elapsed, the individual is diagnosed with Acute stress disorder.
How about years? Does years count? Acute stress disorder seems more accurate to me though.  Don’t ask me why. Maybe I just don’t want to have PTSD too.
F: Significant impairment
– The symptoms reported must lead to “clinically significant distress or impairment” of major domains of life activity, such as social relations, occupational activities, or other “important areas of functioning”.
– I’ve had significant distress and impairment in social relations since I was 12 years old. This was at the onset of my clinical depression and anxiety disorder. Both precursors to my BPD. By this point my abandonment issues were also in full swing. But, again, not due to an experiences that could be considered very traumatic. I think it has more do to with a predisposition to feel things in a way that is not normal to most – BPD.
So yeah, after this very long personal assessment, I am still not a psychologist or psychiatrist and am therefore not qualified to diagnosis myself. Thoughts?
Abuse is very common in the lives of people with BPD. It is often one of the root environmental contributors to the emergence of the borderline disorder. I do not have any doubt that many people with BPD also suffer from PTSD. Recognizing this is very important for treatment because it helps understand some of the underlying factors that need to be worked through and healed.
I do wonder if PTSD leads to BPD, or if being predisposed to BPD leads to an increased sensitivity to situations that feel traumatic but would not normally be considered a traumatic event required to define PTSD.  Then again, if something feels a certain way, a situation is perceived a certain way, doesn’t that make it reality for the person experiencing it? Therefore the event occurring is in fact something very traumatic.
I don’t know.  Most likely it is a co-morbid issue building and feeding off of each other.

Dangerous Situations – Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 7

I find what suits me by jumping in, feet first. If there is a walk of life I don’t understand, an experience I haven’t tried, I just do it. Somewhere along the way I consider the consequences but I don’t feel I’m fully justified in making an assessment of something until I’ve tried it on. The one exception to this is I’ve never done drugs, I’ve been tempted but I value my brain too much. My body though, well, my body is tough, it can take the wear and tear.
When I was younger and thought I wasn’t into guys, I didn’t sit and ponder it, I just started dating girls. I met women on-line and never though twice about meeting them in person. Dating women isn’t exactly dangerous (except occasionally to my sanity), more so the meeting people on line, in real life, by myself. This is one of the best things I ever did though. Gradually I realized, not that I was a lesbian, but that guys weren’t my primary attraction, not my preference. I figured it out by doing, not just thinking.
When I found out a boyfriend of mine was a skinhead, I researched where his beliefs came from and submerged myself in the subculture. I would travel out of state, alone, being a small, white, unimposing female, travelling to huge rallies of skinheads and klan just to understand the mentality of this group that was so foreign to me. In general they were poorly educated racist fucks, but they were also very inclusive and ready to accept me with open arms. Once I put myself in that place, I could make my own judgements and not feel like a hypocrite saying it wasn’t right, because I’d tried it. I was lucky I wasn’t raped and molested considering I am pretty much the embodiment of everything they stand against (of course I didn’t let this be known).
When I’m out with friends, especially dancing, lining up the shots of alcohol and downing them fast enough for the music to drown out the racing thoughts in my mind, one after another letting the world spin into a comfortable blur. Everything seems softer.  Don’t think, just drink, again and again.
Even, driving. Hell, I’m a New Yorker, you have to be aggressive on the road or you won’t get anywhere. And you won’t get anywhere fast. I’m less careful about drinking and driving than I should be considering I was arrested for a DUI last summer (charges got dropped). I love to drive, it’s freeing and my mind can roam out on the open road. I drive stick and I have control of my car. Control my car, control my life. It’s the same things really…..
My brain just doesn’t want to say Stop.

Balcony seating…

I haven’t spoken to or seen my best friend in over a week. He’s also one I’ve had as a lover. We’ve ended our physical relationship and he reassures me that our friendship will remain. I’m nervous to see him and his wife tomorrow. I’m friends with them both but having so little contact while I was away (visiting family for a week) I feel our bond diminishing. My hold, my connection to him slipping away. He’s starting to feel like a stranger to me. Is this always how it will be?
Acquire. Hold. Release. Regret. Forget.
I try so hard not to be used, feel used, but I’m not sure anymore. When I think about all the kindnesses, the caring, the moments and time spent, it’s like seeing someone else, watching a play of my life from the audience. 
I want to get up and leave before the second act.  

Smoking – Criteria 4 Impulsive Behavior / Part 5

 I’m a smoker.

Now.
I quit smoking almost 9 years ago. Cold turkey, just quit buying cigarettes. It’s a terrible habit, even worse for my health.
Why the re-start? When I started my new meds I had a craving for sugar and cigarettes. I’m a health freak. This couples with my eating disorders and knowing my families medical history I’m always very careful about my health. This is why starting to smoke again is an impulsive behavior for me.  Alone in my head too long and I start to ruminate, to over think, to worry and wander down destructive paths. Pervasive anxiety. Smoking is a stimulant but with the effect of droning out the noise in my mind to a brain numbing buzz. When I sit outside in the frigid winter air listening to my cigarette sizzle it burns my thoughts into submission with each inhale. Maybe it’s just the act of inhaling, a zen breathing technique coupled with the nicotine high.  Regardless it slows down my mind and manages the anxiety that has been creeping back. These new meds may be good for depression and obsession, but they do nothing for my anxiety.  Smoking works wonders for the turbulence. I can step back from the crowd, remove myself completely, enter a cool world and let myself calm. Maybe it’s the removal from the crowd that I feel so alone in. When you feel alone surrounded by people it’s disconcerting. When you feel alone but you’re actually sitting by yourself removed from the crowd at least the feeling makes sense. Either way, for now, I’m glad I started smoking again. One small point for my sanity. I can’t work on all my issues at once, but I can do what I can do to make them more manageable while I wait to tackle the whole.

Drinking and Drugging – Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 3

 Alcohol and anti-psychotics don’t mix. You’re probably saying, why would you even consider
drinking after you just started new medication? Because I like wine, and I wanted to enjoy my trip out to the wineries, that’s why. I’d be lying if I said that was the only time though. I mix alcohol with my medication almost constantly. Or benzo’s with my meds. It’s dangerous. I don’t care.
I like to drink, it makes me feel less dissociated. Of course I always end up eating more, feel fat, but at least I feel connected to my own body. Of course then I hate the body that I’m attached too. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not usually that much. I’ll take my meds as prescribed and have a couple glasses of wine or half of a Xanax (never a whole one) to calm me down. It doesn’t sound like much, but when your meds clear through your liver it can’t be good to throw other drugs on top of it, make it work double time. Double the work for twice the effect. Quadruple the effect really, because drugs and alcohol work synergistically, which means that they act on each other to create an affect larger than the component sum.
When I’m alone I’m left to my own thoughts. It’s not a pleasant place to be. I tell myself I’ll just have one glass, ok, maybe two. By the time my mind starts to calm down I’ve easily polished off a bottle of wine by myself over the course of an evening. It’s not hard.
It’s not safe. Especially when I’m already out and about or need to drive somewhere. I learned my lesson hard about drinking and driving. I was arrested and charged with a DUI last summer but the charge was dropped (story for a different day) so I never drive when I’m trashed or even when I have the potential to be drunk. But when your meds clear through your liver you get drunk faster and on less, so there’s really no way to tell how much is in your system or when you’re safe. Most days I care, some days I’m reckless. Especially if it’s just a short trip somewhere.
What’s worse, alcohol is a depressant. When you’re clinically depressed drinking alcohol produces precisely the opposite effect that you want to have. It may feel good in the moment but it depresses your system even more. Spinning me down into a deeper depression the next day once I wake up.
I sleep worse, I eat more, and now I’ve noticed a very obvious tremor to my hands (betting on this being the anti-psych/SSRI + alcohol mix effect). I can’t draw, typing is hard, my concentration is fine, but I feel like crap. Why do I still drink? It feels good in the moment. I just wish I could remember what the consequences feel like the next day, in advance.  
Don’t Drink and Drug.
Now, if only I could take my own advice.

Surrealizing – Criteria 9 / Part 4: Derealization

The final segment of my Criteria 9: Dissociated series is Derealization. Derealization: is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems strange or unreal.
For me this comes across as an unnatural brightness, things are too in focus. Hyperfocused. The outline of objects, things, houses, horizons, are too sharp. Sun is too bright, the air is too bright, colors are too crisp.  Everything has a stark contrast and I feel like I’m removed from the scene, like it was erected and I’m walking through a movie set. There lacks a depth to the reality. There’s no deeper attachment to anything because it’s as if those things weren’t placed there long enough ago to have formed an attachment to them.  
It’s oddly beautiful as a surreal observation.
This happens relatively often but it’s not as intense as my depersonalization. For example, I was in my Eating Disorder Anonymous meeting the other day. The room itself was hyper lit and it looked like a herd of children had vomited crayons all over the walls. The room itself was very vivid but the sheer brightness triggered me right into a derealized state. It was almost dizzying. It felt like something encompassed my brain, pressing to a common center point.
Or another time, I was simply driving home in the late afternoon. The sun was low enough to be just over the horizon. There were trees closely spaced on the side of the road. As I would pass each tree the sun would blot out, then flash bright as I drove past an gap. From my peripheral vision I would see flash bright, dark shadow, flash bright, dark shadow like an old 8mm film reel being played on the edge of my vision. It made me feel almost as if I was floating.
It’s never an out of body experience or anything such as that. I always maintain a focus that I am doing whatever it is that I’m doing, but my perception is hyperfocused and surreal.

Feeling Inside, Outside – Criteria 9 / Part 3: Depersonalization

Continuing along the dissociated path of Criteria 9, my specific interest is especially in Depersonalization. This is my most intense break from reality.
 
Sometimes I feel as if I’m in the wrong body. Like I’m watching myself, my body, do things from someone else’s perspective. Cognitively I know it’s my body but the person that feels what’s going on is somewhere else, removed. My feelings are gone. Here, but part of me is left somewhere else, on the outside, not inside me where it belongs. Going through the motions of what I know I would normally do but without any connection to the motivating forces that would drive me to do these things. 
I don’t process emotions directly, internally. I process them from a dissociative place, “outside”, of my sense of Self. This creates a huge disconnect in how I think and how I feel towards the things I am thinking about. It’s like having two separate bodies; one to process thoughts, one to process feelings, but I’m only connected to one at any given time.  They don’t work symbiotically like they should. I either experience as an observer with detached emotions or I FEEL everything but don’t temper it with my rationale. Where most people have a natural balance I can either experience my emotions, my environment, or I can observe them. Seperately.
Having taken an objective look at, or talk about, my emotions I feel fine. I feel fine because I feel nothing. The act of talking about my emotions or experiences, causes me to not feel them.  But since feeling nothing is better than feeling emotionally destroyed, nothing = fine. When you can recognize that a situation should produce an emotional reaction, and instead all you feel is {blank}, it can be very disconcerting. It seems like nothing was ever there in the first place. Except it’s not only this one incident…
It’s with everything.
I can wrap myself in an experience. Throw myself into the heat of a moment but afterwards, all I have is a recording. No emotional attachment to the memory. It’s akin to taking a physical step back from a situation to look at it objectively, only to be left with a very noticeable lack-of-emotion. Because I am no longer ‘in the moment’ it’s like trying to remember emotions experienced in a dream. I wonder if they were ever real because after having stepped back, the closeness is no longer there. On the plus side, nothing phases me. Things that should have reduced me to tears or at the very least made my heart ache, are now after thoughts left in the wake of yesterday.
Imagine this. You and a person you care for are standing a few feet apart, holding a rope just long enough so it’s pulled taught. The rope is a symbolic representation of the emotional connection you share. When you take a step back the rope is not long enough and your end slips from your hand and falls to the ground. You can still see the person, still see that person holding their end of the rope, but you no longer feel the connection of the rope fibers even though you remember having held the rope. It’s like dropping the rope and trying to maintain/remember the feel of the fiber. Physically you can’t.
It’s disconcerting to not feel. Surreal.
Sleep walking through my own consciousness.