Road to Recovery…

Last week a Reader asked:
Do you think you could share a little about how you decided to address the pain and try to recover? There is someone in our life who we WISH would seek treatment, and I’m wondering what might get her there. Thanks.
How I decided to address the pain and try to recover. I wish I could give a completely selfless answer and say that I saw how I was affecting the people around me, that I realized how hurtful I was. I wish I could say that I wanted to stop lashing out and devastating the world around me. Unfortunately when I was taking out my emotions on other people I mostly felt like it was everyone else that did not understand me and the only thing wrong with me was that I was misunderstood. I felt hopeless. No one and nothing could help me because no one understood and if no one understood how could anyone do anything at all. Eventually I began Acting Out less and turned inward. I took out the majority of my turbulence on myself, Acting In. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still affect the people around me. It does. I’m just not as actively aggressive towards other people. Anyone close to me is still caught in my wake, or at the very least, sees what I go through, realizes that I’m hurting, and wishes better for me. It came down to the fact that I wanted to stop feeling so turbulent. I wanted it for me. First and foremost I want to feel better. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a better friend and be better to everyone around me. I absolutely do, but this wasn’t my main driver though it is a product of what I’m working towards.   The people that I’m close to care about me and they truly want me to be happy.
I’ve been an emotional disaster, especially when it comes to relationships, for as long as I can remember. It’s depressing. It’s painful. How I take it out on myself is excruciating. How I take it out on others is worse. I finally came to the realization that there has to be something better than living in constant pain and depression.
Growing up I fought the idea of therapy and medication. When I moved to New York I was involved in a very abusive relationship.  I bottomed out.   Finally, I sought therapy as a last resort.
Unfortunately as is often the case, it takes hitting bottom to have the greatest motivation to dig ourselves out of the holes we’ve dug. I wish I could say that was the only time I’d hit bottom, but it happens a lot. However, it got me to open up to the idea of therapy. Having the help to work through is invaluable and I strongly encourage this.
I think the last big kick in the ass was what lead me to the Psych ER {Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Morals}. The relationship I had been in wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad. It was just boring. I had no reason or inclination to stay in it and yet, when it ended I Acted Out in a way that got the cops and an ambulance called on me. I scared the hell out of my friends, terrified my parents, could have lost us our new apartment, could potentially have lost future employment… the repercussions of my actions were just not acceptable.  Especially when there’s no rational reason for my reactions to have been as extreme as they were. I knew something was very wrong for most of my life, but this was the last straw. I determined to stay on an anti-depressant, which ultimately was not enough, but it was a start. All these things; the realization of just how bad my actions could affect me and everyone else, remembering that through previous therapy I had begun to see bright spots again. I could see glimpses of better ways of living. I wanted not just glimpses of a better way, but actually walking a better path completely. Constant depression is a vortex of joylessness. I wanted to escape the blackness. No. Not black. Everything was grey. Grey, dreary, dull, nothing being crisp or vibrant for long enough to glean any happiness from. It’s no way to live and it doesn’t have to be that way. Finally I began to want for myself what my friends and family have always wanted for me; the chance of happiness. It’s why I created this blog; to help me as I work towards this. It’s something I want for anyone fighting a Borderline Personality Disorder.
The turning point came for me when I realized I want to get better.  No one can understand me, if I don’t help people understand me. If I don’t reach out to allow myself to receive the help I need. This is also my responsibility. This is a big world. I’m only one person in this world. There are plenty of people that love and care about me, but they also have their own lives to deal with. Ultimately, I am responsible for my own happiness and healing. This sounds like a sagely bit of wisdom, but for someone with BPD who wants so much to be close to other people without actually knowing how in a  functional way, it’s anything but easy. But it is possible. And it gets easier the more we work to embrace this.
I don’t know. I’m so tired of being so self-consumingly lonely, so sad and depressed, so misunderstood… so afraid… of everything. Life does not have to be this way. I refuse to believe that this is simply my lot in life. There is only one thing that can determine my fate, and that’s me. If I choose to be a different way, I can take control of my world and make it something that is worthwhile.  
In order to do this, therapy has helped me immensely. Writing this blog has helped me more than I expected. Being able to reach out, connect with other people struggling with a Borderline Personality Disorder, knowing that I’m not alone, hearing from other people as they also fight, or as they seek advice, or simply leave a few words to let me know they’ve been by… knowing that I’m reaching out and connecting with others like me; helps. I’m also determined to stick to a medicinal regime as well. I’ve previously floundered with this a little, but I’m working with my Psychiatrist to find meds that will aid me. There is no medical cure for personality disorders, however there’s hope that meds can alleviate some of the symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Realizing just how much I could lose. The opportunities, the people I love , my friends,…  the disappointment… The thought of losing them or letting them down is my biggest motivation now. I have a lot of people that I love and care about, and I want to be able to be with them in a healthy way that won’t drive them away.
You need to understand that I’ve lived with this for well over half of my life. Almost two decades of feeling like things would never get better. It’s not something you can just turn to someone and say ‘cheer up, it’ll all work out’ when so far, for so long, it hasn’t. It’s hard to see a better way when you’ve never known a better way. It requires a leap of faith. A leap that is incredibly scary when so often things smash to bits on the rocks below. It’s looking for a safe way down to the ground when your path is lined with jagged rocks and chards of glass. Fortunately there’s never just one way around the obstacles set in front of you in life. It takes a shift of perspective, but that sense of being safe in your own Self, is absolutely attainable. At least, I believe it is.
I  hope that gives some insight into your question. Thank you for asking.
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Abilify my life

Psychiatrist clearly has no faith in your standard anti-depressants for me. With the Lamictal and now with the Abilify it seems to be as if he’s treating my BPD almost like Bipolar. Lamictal is used for Bipolar-II depression. Abilify is used both to treat Bipolar and for people without bipolar as a supplement to a currently utilized anti-depressant. As I have no anti-depressant and we’re going to be ramping up my dose to a therapeutic level… idk, that’s just what it seems like to me. If he is doing that it does make a certain amount of sense to me considering both are marked by extreme mood fluxuations. Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder share a lot of features actually. Maybe I’ll post about that sometime soonish.

I figured it might be beneficial to give periodic updates about how my meds are reacting with me. So far I’ve been on Abilify for all of 5 days at 2mg/day. On Monday I go up to 5 mg/day. Then back to see Psychiatrist to make sure I’m actually taking them properly and am not displaying unacceptable side effects. I have a feeling he is going to watch me very closely. 2 weeks between visits is a very short leash ::frown::. The first day I was clearly rage-tastic, but after that first day I’ve actually felt Okay. On a scale of Severely Depressed to Manic, my average is mildly depressed but wild fluctuation throughout the day. This week I’ve been relatively steady and up which is very unusual so I can only attribute it to the meds (or the nice weather and dating an amazing woman). I even feel pretty today for my date. Like a little gothic princess. Too cute to function.  But anyways, here’s a list of side effects! I mean seriously. Is it any wonder I have hesitations when it comes to psych meds?
In these studies, the most common Abilify side effects included:
· Headaches — in up to 27 percent of people
· A sedated feeling — up to 23 percent  (little bit)
· Agitation — up to 19 percent <~~~ cuz I need more of this
· Insomnia — up to 18 percent <~~~~ and this
· Fatigue — up to 17 percent <~~~~ I get this with the Insomnia
· Anxiety — up to 17 percent <~~~~ Have you met me?
· Drowsiness — up to 16 percent
· Nausea — up to 15 percent
· Vomiting — up to 14 percent <~~~~ The non-bulimic kind
· Restlessness — up to 12 percent
· Constipation — up to 11 percent. <~~~~ Ew.
  
Some other common side effects (occurring in 2 percent to 10 percent of people) included:
· Dizziness
· Indigestion or heartburn
· Shakiness (tremors)
· Weight gain <~~~~ I will be so freaking pissed off.
· Restlessness
· Fatigue
· Dry mouth <~~~~ I propose weed as an alternative
· Joint pain <~~~~ The non weed alternative
· Throat pain
· Blurred vision
· Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
· Pain
· Cough
· Nasal congestion
· Increased salivation
· Swelling or water retention in the arms, legs, or feet.
Serious side effects include but are not limited to:
· Signs of diabetes, such as:
o    High blood sugar
o    Increased thirst
o    Frequent urination
o    Extreme hunger (see Abilify and Diabetes)
· Large or rapid weight gain <~~~~ I will be even doubly more freaking pissed off.
· Suicidal thoughts <~~~~ Sweet. In all fairness, it IS tough to be depressed when you’re dead. Just sayin’.
· High blood pressure (hypertension)
· Dizziness or fainting when going from a sitting or lying-down position to standing <~~~~ Wheeeeeee!
· Feelings of internal restlessness or jitteriness
· Any abnormal muscle movements (these movements can become permanent if Abilify is not stopped quickly)
· A painful erection of the penis that does not go away (priapism) <~~~~ This probably won’t happen.
· Signs or symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which can include:
o    A high fever
o    Stiff muscles
o    Confusion
o    Irregular pulse or blood pressure
o    An increased heart rate (tachycardia)
o    Sweating
o    Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
· Signs of an allergic reaction, including:
o    Unexplained rash
o    Hives
o    Itching
o    Unexplained swelling
o    Wheezing
o    Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
These less common Abilify side effects include but are not limited to:
· Anemia
· Vertigo (a spinning sensation) <~~~~ Double wheeee!
· Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) <~~~~ So irritating
· Low thyroid (hypothyroidism) or high thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
· Gas <~~~~ Gross
· Gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD)
· Hemorrhoids
· Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
· Canker sores
· Gallstones
· Yeast infections
· Arthritis
· Carpal tunnel syndrome
· Kidney stones
· Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction or ED <~~~~ Doubtful
· An increased or decreased sex drive <~~~~ Either way I’d probably be ok with this.
· Acne
· Eczema
· Hair loss <~~~~ Not cool
· Varicose veins.

Borderline Personality Disorder Facts and Statistics: Part 2

As promised I’m going to take a look at some of the more relevant facts and statistics concerning Borderline Personality Disorders. I’m only going to cover a few per post because there’s a lot of them. Don’t worry, there will be more.
– 2% of the general population are afflicted with BPD.
That’s a lot of people. That’s 1 in every 50.  In the United States alone this translates to approximately 5.4 million people. Perspective: this is the entire population of Tibet or Denmark (suppresses joke about ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’). That’s enough people to make our own country. Hah, that’s actually a pretty scary thought. We could have an emotional regulation tax. The government would be rich. The likelihood of finding better treatment would sky rocket though, or plummet, crash and burn depending on whether our universal health care coverage administration could manage their mood swings. Considering the massive amount of people that BPD affects, you would think there would be much more research into this disorder but to this day BPD remains one of the most misunderstood personality disorders. Often being considered a ‘catch all’ for a multitude of co-morbid symptoms (which it certainly has) instead of it’s own distinct disease. There has been some research, but not nearly as much as other personality and mood disorders. Most of this research has gone into assessing the symptoms, and understanding the causes, but it’s still a long ways from finding a cure or finding optimal treatment. Is there really a cure for personalities though? Part of me still resents the implication that there’s something wrong with my personality. I happen to like my personality. I’m pretty fantastic (on good days). Also, modest. On the other hand, I have a lot more bad days than good and I do recognize that I have a lot of defective tendencies that I am working to change.
Random: 1 in 50 people have digestive problems w/ daylilies. Gradually build up to eating them. WTF?!?
– 69% to 75% exhibit self-destructive behaviors such as self-mutilation, chemical dependency, eating disorders and suicide attempts.
I wonder if this is counted by individual people or by how many of each of these destructive behaviors present. I’ve had every single one of these self-destructive behaviors at some point + more. As mentioned before my thoughts of self-harm are slipping away. For one of the first times in my life I don’t need such an extreme reminder that I am, in fact, living in this world. This is such a surprising revelation for me because for almost 18 years these thoughts have been a constant companion. One I am not unhappy to be rid of. Chemical dependency for me was alcohol. I’ve never done drugs (except by Rx), nor will I. I have this thing where I actually like my brain functioning to it’s fullest potential. I’m still fighting with my eating disorder and my body image. This is one of the more insidious, less overt, of my problems because I hide it so well. I manage to come across as a health nut, but not problematic. I’ve been in recovery from this for years with only minor relapses. My body image is a completely different story though.
Instead of suicide attempts I would think this has more to do with suicidal gestures, thoughts, threats, as well as attempts. I threatened myself with suicide often when I was younger. I didn’t tell almost anyone about this, especially not anyone that would have done something about it. When things were so bad that I believed this was my only option, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. Telling people who would stop me is counterintuitive to the success of this plan. What’s the point of wanting to die and then telling people who will take away that necessary relief? I didn’t have hope for ‘a cure’. I didn’t have hope for anything. There was maybe one person that I can look back on that I think it was more a need for attention, a need to know that someone cared, more than anything. It was certainly a cry for help. I couldn’t hold onto the belief that anyone would remain in my life, that I wouldn’t always be alone. I needed the affirmation that there would be someone that stays. Ironically, I got rid of him years later and, surprise, my life has gone on and improved considerably.
– 8 – 10% die by suicide usually due to lack of impulse control over depression.
Lack of impulse control. Hm. I’m not sure most people consider suicide on a whim. It’s rarely a spontaneous decision. Suicide is a last result, when things have been so bad, for so long, it’s impossible to believe that things will get better. It’s a thought that is only toyed with at first. Creeping thoughts now and again that become pervasive over time as things don’t seem to ever get better. As happiness and hope become things so far lost to the past that a future including these elusive things can’t be seen. It’s not an impulse, it’s a cancer of the psyche that infects over time.
– Successful suicide rate doubles with a history of self-destructive behaviors and suicide attempts.
I can see how this would be true. Once you’ve thought about it for so long, made a couple attempts, the prospect of death can become less scary, more necessary because it becomes so ingrained in everyday thought. Personally? Suicide is my greatest failure. And by ‘greatest’ I mean one that I am most grateful for. Nothing makes you appreciate failure so much as looking back on the wonderful things I could have missed out on had I succeeded in ending my life when I was younger. Every now and again when I hit a low or things go wrong and I feel absolutely hopeless the thoughts creep back, but I no longer consider suicide an option. For as bad as things can seem sometimes I have lived enough, experienced enough, to know that things change. As long as there is a chance for change, there is a chance for things to get better.
My sense of humor is often inappropriate
– 10% of all mental health outpatients; 20% of psychiatric inpatients



I beat the stats on the inpatient thing, though probably I shouldn’t have. Other than one evening in the psych ER which was do to an overreaction from an ex {<~~~ bastard}, I’ve never seen the inside of a hospital for psych problems. Physical medical problems caused by mental problems (remind me to tell you about the sweet potato some time) yes, but not for being out of my mind in need of a ‘rest’. I am certainly an outpatient if you consider seeing talking to my PCP, my psychiatrist, and going to therapy twice a week outpatient.  What can I say, I’ve grown and matured a lot when it comes to my mental health. BPD is not easy to deal with. After more than 15 years trying to fight it on my own, finally I found assistance and it’s made so much difference. Ok, so maybe my learning curve isn’t so high but I’m getting help now.