Category Archives: self-worth

Grateful for Gratitude

A few weeks ago I decided to start a gratitude journal.  Instead of getting caught up in the highs and lows of my bipolar disorder I figured I’d redirect my focus and look at the good things working for me in life.  There was just one problem; I didn’t count on something getting in the way.  That something is borderline personality disorder.

In addition to my bipolar disorder I have a daily struggle to keep myself balanced because of my BPD.   In short, having borderline personality disorder means that I have a hard time living a life of balance.  It is my disorder inside a disorder and it can make life very complicated for me.  BPD is the reason I often overreact to any given situation and have ongoing unhealthy relationships and thought patterns.  I typically only see life in terms of black and white not realizing that life is full of areas of gray.  I tend to fly off the handle at seemingly benign situations and my interactions with people are often based on pure emotion which, in and of itself, is quite detrimental to living life on an even keel.  Borderline personality disorder can also make it hard for me to balance my emotions and react appropriately to them.  For instance, I can get happy about something good happening to me and instead of just being content with the situation; I may go out and spend money that I really can’t spare as a reaction to it.  If something upsets me I may go into a deep depression and start toying with thoughts of self-harm or even suicide.  Often when a relationship is unhealthy or toxic I may still try to keep the relationship going because; in my thought process, some relationship is better than no relationship.

Earlier I said that this is my disorder inside of a disorder; let me explain.  Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense highs and lows, mania and depression, light and dark.  Well borderline personality makes these instances even more intense. I often suffer from extended periods of anxiety and I have trouble with major bouts of low self-esteem and overall self-loathing.  The mania and depression of my bipolar disorder are made more intense as a result of my BPD.  Already being overly stimulated, borderline personality disorder can make me appear like the Incredible Hulk when it comes to emotions.  One minute I’m fine and the next minute, after seeing a disturbing story on the evening news, I’m a wasted pile of tears and despair.  I know, this may sound extreme but that’s the nature of borderline personality disorder.  BPD is a constant struggle to maintain emotional equilibrium and avoid unhealthy situations and relationships.

I say all of this to make the point that starting a gratitude journal was more of a challenge than I ever thought it would be.  Because my view of reality is often skewed, it’s hard for me to be mindful and find things to be grateful for since I’m always in an extreme emotional state.  This being true, I was even more determined to be able to use mindfulness and find things in life to be grateful for no matter how small or mundane.  Even though mentally I tend to be in a state of flux, I have to realize that if I can compose myself and focus I’ll be able to see that there is just plain good in life.  I’ve decided that I will be grateful despite my diagnosis and I’m going to start that journal no matter what.

 

Image result for images of gratitude

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back At It

Bipolar disorder can be a bitch, thus the reason I haven’t posted anything to my blog since last July.  I was doing great and the ideas were flowing and I loved seeing the results of my productivity and focus and then, BAM, without warning; nothing.  It was like all the potential and creativity that I had in me just dried up and flew south.  Frustrating does not begin to describe the feeling of sitting down in front of the computer all set to peck out my next great revelation only to find that all the thoughts in my head were a garbled mess of nothingness.  I wanted to write, really I did, but nothing would happen.  I would wake up in the morning with the mindset that today would be the day and, just as quickly as it came; it was gone, back to the endless chasm of emptiness.   I ranted, I screamed, I cried, I did it all from one end of up to the dark side of down but nothing would make the ideas or expression come to fruition before my eyes.  I couldn’t understand what was happening.  I had been on a roll and I was so proud of myself.  I had endless reserves of gumption and I enjoyed what I was doing, I had the upper hand against my mental illness.  I had ‘mastered’ bipolar disorder and I vowed bipolar disorder would never again keep me paralyzed and confused and lost in a sea of uncertainty.  Hell, just looking at my blog I knew that I could beat this beast.  Surprise, surprise I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  That’s not the nature of bipolar disorder and that’s really not the way it works.  Even with all my reading and researching I didn’t want to realize that I would forever battle with bipolar disorder.  For a minute I believed that maybe it had gone away to the furthest recesses of my mind to be stored as an afterthought.  No.  Bipolar disorder will forever be my Achilles heel and I’m going to have to get to a place where I’m OK with that.  Having bipolar disorder doesn’t make me any less of a person than anyone else and the pitfalls that come with it don’t make me a failure.  I just have to work a little bit harder at life than some people and, actually, that’s OK.  That just strengthens my character and enhances my already engaging personality.  All I have to remember is that I have bipolar disorder, it doesn’t have me.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Just Perfect

(This post is for Day Nine of Blogging 101.  It was inspired by my visit to the blog miss-kris.com.  She’s such a beautiful woman)

I have struggled with my weight and my body image all my life.  I can remember being in grammar school crying in the department store when it was time to buy new clothes.  I was so hurt that my clothes were always purchased from the ‘husky’ rack; these were not the most attractive clothes.  When I wanted to look like a little girl all sweet and cute I had to settle for clothes that looked, for the most part, androgynous.  The only saving grace for me was that they couldn’t make dresses for boys.  Every day I envied my petite, girly- girl playmates as I tried to come to terms with the chunky frame I had to carry.

Things didn’t get any better when I entered the middle school years.  My classmates were getting taller and thinner and I was just getting taller.  I still had to deal with my not-so-thin body and it became very apparent to me that this was something to be abhorred.  Once again in my life I knew what it was like to be on the outside when it was time to shop for new school clothes.  Instead of this being a fun occasion it was filled with more angst and tears when, as a pre-teen, I was forced to move over to the misses’ section of the stores my mom and I visited.  I would sit behind my desk day after day wishing and praying that the body that had betrayed me would show some mercy and get rid of my unwanted pounds.  This never happened.

girl crying

High school was no less a nightmare than my previous academic career.  My height had finally plateaued but my body and my body image was still a major source of sadness for me.  It seemed like all the girls I looked at were ‘perfect’.  They didn’t seem to have to worry about hiding a bit of a muffin top or robust breasts.  They were the ones who had no hang-ups getting dressed in front of one another for physical education and who didn’t cringe from the thought of wearing a bathing suit when it was time for the mandatory two-week stint of swimming.  Outside of school they could wear the short shorts and bikinis that I could only dream of putting on.  I would spend hours in the mirror at home dissecting my body trying on one thing after another looking for something that would hide my thickness and make me look more like my female classmates.

At this time I also got hip to fad diets and so-called counting calories.  What this was exactly was me starving myself and then going through a period where I was bulimic.  I loved this because I was finally seeing results to what I was doing.  Binging and purging was paying off in my waist line but it was adversely affecting me in other ways.  My gums were bleeding, my throat hurt, my ribs were always sore from throwing up and I was generally in poor health; but I kept doing what I was doing because my body was getting, and staying, smaller…finally.

Throughout my college years I started feeling better about myself as I kept on starving my body in pursuit of the perfect frame.  I was often tired and consumed with how many calories I was taking in and worrying about being caught throwing up in the bathroom in order to maintain the body I’d been dreaming of all my life.  This routine lasted for the better part of my college years but after graduating my body began to betray me again.  All the years of doing the wrong thing to stay ‘thin’ and lose weight had caused my body to rebound to the other end of the spectrum; I started gaining all the lost weight back.

This was the worst period of my life.  Not only was I gaining weight I was officially plus-sized.  I had to actually shop in the ‘big girls’ department and I was internally mortified.  Oh I kept a good face and I would smile when I got compliments on my outfits; from women twice my age mind you, but I was just not happy with my body and this was affecting how I felt about myself overall.  Instead of loving myself and my body and reveling in my uniqueness I went to the opposite end of the spectrum.  Not only was I dressing from the plus-size department, I was over dressing.  Instead of figure and body flattering clothes I would wear clothes two and three sizes bigger in order to try and hide my assets.  Then I started losing weight again. Joy and rapture!  Ironically, this gaining and losing, losing and gaining would go on for a number of years.

All of this had finally gotten to me and a vowed that it could not go on.  About six or seven years ago I finally decided that I was going to embrace the body I’d been given.  I was tired of depriving myself of the foods and drinks I like, wearing too-big clothes that hid my true shape, hating what I saw in the mirror and hating myself.  I embarked on a journey to love myself at whatever size I might be.plus girl

Though it was slow in coming I began to see women like myself in magazines and on television.  I began to really look around me and see all the beautiful women who had actual shapes and filled out their clothes sexily.  Most importantly I gave myself permission to love me in all my glory and splendor; I would not hide behind bulky clothes and shapeless shifts. plus girl 2            plus girl 3

Don’t get me wrong, I still have those moments when I wish I could lose a few pounds for any number of reasons but I refuse to get caught up in this and slide back into the loop of self-loathing.  I’m perfect just the way I am.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

It Comes From Inside

I went to see my therapist yesterday and I have to say that, quite frankly, she pissed me off!  I sat in the waiting room with my chest out and my shoulders back and a quiet smile on my face.  For reasons outside of my control it had been quite some time since I’d seen my therapist and I was so excited to tell her that I’d been winning the battle with my bipolar disorder daily, posting to my blog; I’d started it in 2013 but hadn’t done much with it until this year, and I was still celebrating having a year clean and sober.  I was all bubbles and sunshine inside while I waited to see that door open and her pop her head out and call me into her office.  For the first time in forever I was really ready for therapy.  Then it happened.  She did call me back and on the way to her office she asked, “How’s it going?”  I was beside myself with glee waiting to get started on how good life was going for me and how happy I’d been lately and then…she blew it.

I’d decided to downplay the sobriety thing and start with my mood.  I told her that things had been quite good for me where my mood is concerned.  I’d been able to use my CBT and DBT skills to keep me grounded and I’d been more positive than I’d been in a very long time.  She looked at me with a blank stare, shook her head and that was it.  Really?  Maybe she didn’t hear me.  Maybe her mind was someplace else, I don’t know.  This wasn’t what I expected or what I’d planned on.  This was supposed to just floor her and instead she just looked at me.  Fine. Okay. I decided to talk about my blogging.

I went into detail about how I’d been putting my feelings into the blogosphere about my bipolar disorder and treatment and my recovery from drugs and alcohol.  I knew she’d be impressed with me because I’d been in a horrible slump for so long not able to do much of anything and this was monumental for me.  I kept looking at her face waiting for the big smile to open up and let me know she was proud of me.  Nothing.  She just shook her head and turned around to her computer and began making notes.  Are you fucking kidding me!  What the hell is her problem; clearly she did have a problem.  Well, the last thing I had in my arsenal was my sober birthday and I knew this was going to get her.

After no response to my rambling about my good mood and my blog I was jumping up and down inside to tell my therapist I’d finally reached my first year of sobriety.  And I was right, that got a response.  “How did you feel about that?”  That’s what I got; a question.  As far as I was concerned it was a stupid question.  Wasn’t sobriety like this the goal of hours of therapy and training?  Anyway, I decided to bring attention to my blogging again and explain how I’d blogged about the bittersweet feeling of my year being sober.  I went into detail and made a very important point; at least I thought it was, about mourning my addiction like a good friend.  I thought this was really big and I thought that being able to verbalize it in such a way would surely impress her.  Nope.  What did she do?  I’ll tell you what she did.  She took the wind out of my sail like her certification gave her the right to just cut me down at the knees.  How dare she!  “Well, you’ve been mourning this for months, what makes it any different now?”  That was it; I needed to do some quick mental checking because I was on the verge of losing my cool.

In my head this woman was every name in the book but a child of god.  I thought about getting up and just telling her never mind for the session and walking out, she’d touched something in me that I knew wasn’t good.  My inner demon was coming to life and that never ends well.  In an instant I had to jerk myself back to a happy place because I was quickly going down the wrong road.  I could envision her calling security just like the social worker did in the ER when I came to the defense of my partner; I just hoped my eyes hadn’t turned the least bit red.  This just wasn’t going the way I’d envisioned and I was totally thrown off by her nonchalance.  Right then I had to decide whether to take the high road or to just show my ass.  Trust me, it was a hard decision.  All of this took place in a split second.

And then I came to the realization that, as much as I wanted my therapist to be happy for me and give me some sort of accolade, the most important thing is how I feel about what I’ve done and how far I’ve come.  My therapist’s job is to guide me down the road to being able to manage my mental illness and staying sober.  She’s not responsible for giving me my self-worth; that’s my job.

happy balls

So after I had this internal dialogue with myself I decided to let my therapist off the hook and go on with our session.  I reminded myself that I was there for therapy not ego stroking and, surprisingly, I was okay with that.

Tagged , , , , ,