Posts Tagged ‘friends’

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Writing it out and calling bs on monsters

June 1, 2016

The thing about my anxiety is, it creeps. It slithers up my ankles, itching the backs of my knees, creates knots in my back and tangles in my tummy, it makes my fingertips tingle, my temples throb, and my brain spin. And then it reaches around into my ear and laughs. It laughs because i sit there helplessly wondering what just happened to start this whole thing and sometimes i just don’t know. Or it laughs because sometimes it decides to burrow and make itself at home for days at a time while every noise makes me jump and while other’s people’s comments send me reeling. i worry about everything i say or do during those days, terrified to feel the creeping.

 

i can feel it in my shoulder blades right now. Tightening muscles as it moves. Brain in full spin. And, sure, i can name little things that may have started the whole thing but i don’t know what started the ready to disappear, want to curl up, crying hysterically, ready to be done with this shit anxiety.

 

Maybe it’s the fact that every time i have to talk about my family. . . the real ones, not the chosen. i feel sick. And that makes me feel like a failure because they are supposed to be out of my life but clearly they still have such power over me. Power i’m not sure how to take back. Because it’s one thing to physically walk away and it’s another to get that out of your head. And i feel like even more of a failure because i suck at talking in the first place. then throw in feeling physically ill and like i’ve fucked up because i can’t get these people out of my head or take back the power they have over me. And i’m ready to just shut down completely. i have yet to win in that situation which makes me dread it. And that makes it this vicious cycle that i can’t seem to get out of.

 

Maybe it’s just a matter of repetition and seeing that i can get through these conversations. And with each conversation comes more power back in my hands. i don’t know if that’s how it works. Maybe it could? Maybe it could lead to days and weeks of feeling like shit and wondering if i’ll ever breathe normally again. Maybe both?

 

So i sit here trying to write out my thoughts as my head spins, and my leg shakes, and i feel nauseous, and i want to be doing other things. Because that’s always the answer, write it out. i wish it were really that easy. i wish i didn’t have to sit here time and time again with tears streaming down my face forcing myself to get my thoughts out in words rather than other ways. i wish i didn’t have to have other people pushing me to do so instead of myself too.

 

But i guess that’s what life is, sometimes you’re the one pushing yourself and sometimes you’re the one being pushed by someone else and i have to keep learning that there is nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to get that push from someone else when i can’t give it to myself. i just need to be able to listen past the drone of the anxiety and the depression monsters and hear the reality of the situation. And that’s not always easy.

 

Monsters like to pull you down and keep you isolated. That failure feeling is like food for them, they just keep coming back for more and more. And they just get louder and louder every single time. Writing it out, i guess, is my way of breaking that isolation. Of calling bullshit on monsters. i just need a reminder to do so sometimes. i need some help to do that calling out.

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More than just a necklace

May 25, 2016

Today i found one of my most prized possessions, a necklace made for me by one of my most favorite people that i thought had fallen between the cracks of some furniture but was just tangled in with some other jewelry. On it hangs a single spoon and the words “Just Breathe”. The two of us both have invisible illnesses and have shared many conversations about the frustrations that come along with them. One day i came across the Spoon Theory and shared it and then for my birthday i got this amazing necklace that she made just for me.

 

i cried a lot when i found my necklace today because it means so much to me but also because lately i haven’t had many spoons in my hands to go through my days with but today i found one more and that gave me more strength than i can explain.

 

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoon
As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

© Christine Miserandino

– See more at: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/#sthash.Zs8guYq2.dpuf

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Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind

May 24, 2016

So May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, among other things. And that got me thinking maybe i should write something. It’s funny though, i wholly believe that mental health is something that we need to address in a new and different way in our society. i think the stigma attached is shitty and perpetuates the cycle. But here i am wondering whether or not i should keep writing because i don’t know if i want this piece of me out there for the world to see. If it were something like a cold or sinus infection or even my migraines i wouldn’t be embarrassed. And i’ve talked enough about my depression monster. But there is something different about BPD.

 

There’s a lot of literature out there about BPD, i’ve only read a small fraction. But most of it is ridiculously negative. It talks about how manipulative BPD’s are, how even therapists don’t want to work with us.

 

But i don’t want to talk about the negative stuff out there, i want to talk about me and my experience. Because before i was diagnosed BPD was something i knew of but it didn’t live with me. Now that it does it doesn’t feel fair to keep that to myself as scary as sharing it is. This is who i am and i’m trying to be better. i can only do that with help.

 

bpd

 

For those of you not familiar, to be considered Borderline you “must show ‘a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following’:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., substance abuse, binge eating, spending sprees, unsafe sex, and reckless driving)
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”

(from the DSM-V)

i’m in a class/group currently where they prefer the term Emotional Intensity Disorder rather than Borderline Personality Disorder because so much of what we deal with is our emotions not working in the same way as other people’s. There has been research to show that our brains are actually wired differently.

 

But like i said, i’m here to talk about my experience. Usually i would say that putting a name on something doesn’t change anything. This time it did for me. Before being diagnosed i knew i had issues with my emotions, i knew that i fell into five or more of the DSM-V symptoms. But i didn’t know that’s what they were. i thought that’s just who i was and that it wasn’t part of anything. Now that i understand it, that it’s part of something bigger, every single feeling i have feels like work. i don’t say that in a way to complain or whine. i just mean, now that i’m aware of things, and growing more aware, i find myself having to examine every feeling i have to see if it is too intense, if it comes from a distorted thought, what kind of filters i’m seeing the world through at that moment. And i’m trying to learn to do all of that quickly enough to not look like i have to sit down and study for finals every single time a strong emotion hits me.

 

i worry about hurting my friends because i haven’t figured everything out yet. i know, realistically, that they don’t expect me to have everything figured out. But emotions can suck. They can be big fucking balls of suck. And they can hurt people when you least mean to. i find myself feeling guilty for either having feelings in the first place or for not knowing how to deal with them. Throw in a very real fear of abandonment and i seem to fight this recipe for disaster over and over again.

 

Because i’ve been so incredibly lucky, my friends who i’ve opened up to have been so supportive. They tell me constantly how proud they are of me for trying to fight this and for dealing with therapy when i’m frustrated and just want to curl into a ball and disappear. They make me laugh when i think i don’t know how anymore. And they listen to me when i cry over things that logically probably don’t need to be cried about. But there is always that tiny cruel voice that reminds me that it could all go away. And i just know the wrong outburst of emotion could make it happen.

 

So where does that leave me? Grasping at tiny silver friends i don’t actually want in my life? Sometimes. Not talking to anyone? Often. Trying to understand how to manage these shitballs of feelings? You bet.

 

i could say more. And maybe you want to know more. Let me know. But for now that’s all folks.

 

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People don’t completely suck and some of them are pretty amazing.

August 20, 2014

i have been reminded today that as much doubt, emptiness, fear, anger, and whatever else i’m feeling right now, depression really does lie.

 

i was reminded that some gifts are non-returnable. So even if connections with people are broken and severed, the lessons i learned and the challenges i overcame because of those people can never be taken away from me. It might be hard for me to realize the integrity of those gifts may not have been as pure as i had thought but they’re mine now nonetheless. 

 

i still want to find a cave right now. But at least i know i have some really good stuff waiting when i come out. 

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We’re all mad here, just not necessarily at the right people

August 19, 2014

There are things in the world right now that i want to be angry with. People i want to be angry at. But the depression monster likes to lie. So instead i’m just angry at myself right now. 

 

i’m angry because people tell me i need to not be so hard on myself right now and i can’t seem to even do that when i need to most of all. i’m angry because i just want to push everyone away and be alone. And because i don’t want to be alone either but i can’t figure out what i do want. i’m so mad because i have some of the most incredible people in my life and i don’t know how to handle that right now because i don’t think i’ve ever had so much support, sad and mad because it took this long to find that support.  i’m pissy because my knee hurts right now and because i didn’t go to physical therapy today. 

 

A lot of that is just surface stuff. i can’t seem to stop there. i can feel rage and a barrage of questions, why couldn’t i be the daughter/friend/girlfriend/person  X wanted? Why did i have to fuck everything up all over again? Why can’t i just shut up right now? When will i ever not think about picking up a razor blade to fix things? 

 

i’m trying to step out of my head and tell myself that every moment that i am here, writing, being, whatevering is something for me to not be angry about. But anger is something i need help with. i wasn’t allowed to express anger growing up so it all turned inward. i know that. So now i still have problems figuring out how to express anger and direct it places other than at me. And i am angry at the depression monster but depression is part of me so i just get stuck in a limbo. 

 

When someone does something to make me mad, i turn it around that i shouldn’t have trusted/connected/believed/etc. i should have known better. What is the use at being angry at that person because i can’t change that person- i can try to change me so i should be mad at me. But being mad at myself isn’t productive. It doesn’t get me anywhere except further info the vortex of negative voices in my head. So where do i put these emotions? How do they work? And can i retrain myself to figure this out? i really don’t like me right now- i don’t want to be around me right now so how do i reconcile all that anger i have toward myself and trying to keep holding onto the desire to wade through all this shittiness and come out stronger for next time? 

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Me and not thinking are going to be best friends. . . if we ever meet.

November 25, 2013

Sometimes the words that we need most to say are the hardest to get out. Sometimes we can taste them in our mouth and they are so bitter that we spit them out. Other times they just get stuck until we swallow them back down. It is hard to tell your story without some of those moments. Or in some cases a lot of those moments. It can get easier but it takes a lot of time a patience. 

 

There are things that i could say to people but they wouldn’t understand. Not for lack of trying but because they have never had to wear those shoes. And sometimes you just need someone who has. Sometimes there is just nothing to say to make things better even though that’s all you want. 

 

i’m trying not to think tonight. i’m not doing very well at that. i think i suck at pretty much everything right now. i shouldn’t even publish this but i am doing that whole dumb writing through it thing. Maybe tomorrow i’ll be happy about it. 

 

i just hate feeling so conflicted. i hate watching the world work the way it should and lining my life up with other people’s in a way that is awesome and yet still feeling that dark cloud. i hate looking at my christmas decorations which i love so much and wanting to cry. Depression and anxiety fucking suck. It’s like i can see and touch the good but i can’t hold onto it. That makes me feel like the worst person ever. It makes me feel like i don’t appreciate the things i have and the people in my life but i do. i do so much. Even when i try and push them away because i want to do it before they do. Even when they don’t understand things. i appreciate them so much. i just want to appreciate them without feeling like Pigpen from the Peanuts with a cloud of depression surrounding me. i don’t want to have to fake a smile when i’m doing something i really do like but can’t find the enjoyment in.

 

i know a lot of this is holiday related because things have changed in my life and this is the first year i’ll be alone on the holidays not because there are states separating me. It is for the best. i know this. But right now it just sucks.

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panic, and tears, and rambles, oh my

November 16, 2013

i am trying to hear a certain voice telling me to write it out. And even though i’m having trouble hearing it i’m trying to do it. And i’m trying to picture the words on the screen and the feel of the keys on my fingers as a replacement for the cool metal i want right now because i know that will help me breathe. And i know that will make my heart stop pounding and make the room stop spinning and closing in. And the can’t stop moving and don’t want to move feeling and the tears.

 

i don’t know why it came on tonight. i don’t know where it came from. Well i guess that isn’t true but i don’t know why it rushed in and blindsided me like this all at once. i’ve had a pretty shitty week in a lot of ways and there have been a lot of unexpected things and ups and downs. And i knew i was feeling it. But i didn’t know that it was going to just open its mouth and try to swallow me whole when i came upstairs from lunch.

 

i don’t even know why i’m writing this. i don’t want to write this. i know, i really know that it does help but all i want right now is either that razor blade or to just crawl under the covers and disappear. i try not to listen to all of the negative things that have been ingrained in me for so long but right now that’s all i can hear and it’s so loud.

 

Just write it out. Just write it out. i don’t know how to write what is in my head out. i don’t know how to turn these tears into words. i can’t seem to turn pain into sentences and paragraphs. And i can’t seem to find solace in any of the people i know i could talk to. i don’t want to pick up the phone like this. i don’t want to type a text message because i don’t even know what it would say. Let’s be real i don’t fucking want to ask for help. Partially because i don’t want to need help. Partially because people who see the reality of me tend to leave. And i don’t know if i could take that right now. i don’t want people to know that i’m a complete fucking nutjob. i want to put on a face and make snarky comments and pretend that i have it all together.

 

Which i suppose is a ridiculous thing to say as i write this somewhere that anyone can read. But that’s the truth and every time i go to hit publish i think about erasing everything. Sometimes i do. And then i try to remember that same voice that tells me to write it out telling me that maybe this might make some sort of difference not just to me and i do it. And i try to remember that this isn’t all i am. Even though it feels like it sometimes. And i try to remember the words of some of my favorite people telling me good things and silly things and just things i need to hear.

 

None of it is working right now but at least i’m trying. That has to count for something.