BPD, DBT, and bears — OH MY!

so a doctor finally sees it.  I’ve only been saying it for how many years now?  but finally, a specialist recognizes it – I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

it’s a breath of relief to be able to say that with more certainty, with a clinician’s loose opinion to back me up.

it doesn’t change who I am or how I function.  but it does mean that we may attack the Noise in my head in a different manner.

my psychiatrist wants me to start DBT – Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  basically training to rewire how your brain thinks, focusing strongly on things like mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and (what I really need help with) emotion regulation.

more details on this later, including what exactly Borderline is.

stay tuned!

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take a quick survey please! :D

so La Sabrosona reblogged a bit from Just Plain Ol’ Vic about a survey that Public Insight Network is putting up.  ::phew!!::  that was a lot of linking!

anyway, it’s to help with a book about mental illnesses.  which is great and all.  but it’s even better because it’s for MARYA HORNBACHER‘S NEW BOOK!!!

I own (and have actually read) all five of her books.  The Center of Winter is a nonfiction piece.  Madness and Wasted are respectively about her bipolar and eating disorders.  Sane is about working the 12 Step Program with a mental illness; Waiting is about working the program without having to endure all the God-talk (or for “non-believers”, as she says).

anyway.  Marya is one of the women I was supposed to become: a crazy, fucked up writer with tales of adventures and misadventures, who eventually got her life together and even got published.

I remembered after I finished reading Madness and Wasted, I emailed her about connections I noticed between the two and how she and I shared similar behavioural patterns.  she actually responded to the email fairly promptly (and it seemed legitimately like her, and not a lackey).  anyway, it was rad.

so I looked further into the aforementioned survey, only to learn it was open:

Author Marya Hornbacher is working on a book about mental illness. Her book will profile the lives of people who have a mental illness or who work in the field, and she’s trying to develop a deeper understanding of how the public views mental illness.

Please answer the questions below to help Marya with her reporting. There aren’t any right or wrong answers, and she appreciates all responses.  If you know very little about mental illness, she’d love to hear from you. Or, if you are personally connected with mental illness, she would love to hear from you as well.

Marya won’t publish any of your responses without your permission. Marya or a journalist from the Public Insight Network may follow up with you for help with reporting.

and I decided, “what the fuck, let’s fill it out.”  and I’d really appreciate it if you filled it out too.  

my answers are below.

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World Bipolar Day 2015 (…was yesterday, oops!)

as with most things, I’m somewhat late to celebrate.  yesterday was World Bipolar Day (WBD).  they self-describe the event’s intent as “bring[ing] world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminat[ing] social stigma”.  I wanted to do some of the events and stuff they promoted (like added words that describe something about you other than your disorder on a photo of yourself, then share it on your social networks with the appropriate hashtags), but I never managed it.  bleh.

instead, I’ll drop off some links about WPD, and do a quick questionnaire.

Why a World Bipolar Day?” from Huffington Post: “Mental illnesses have historically been misunderstood, feared and therefore stigmatized.  The stigma is due to a lack of education, mis-education, false information, ignorance, or a need to feel superior.  […]  Like most groups who are stigmatized against, there are many myths surrounding mental illness.  Enter WBD.”

World Bipolar Day 2015” from Being Beautifully Bipolar:  “Bipolar disorder has ruined a lot of good things in my life and I guess I should be resentful.  But it has also taught me about real love and forgiveness and for that I am grateful.”

Bipolar Disorder: World Bipolar Day Sets Out to Inform, Break Barriers and Stigmas Attached to Mental Illness, Organizers Say” via HNGN:  ” ‘As Martin Luther King once said, I have a dream that one day our nations will rise up and create all men equal,’ wrote Muffy Walker, [founder and president of International Bipolar Foundation].  ‘And I have a dream that my son, who has lived most of his life with bipolar disorder, will one day live in a nation where he will not be judged by his illness, but rather by the content of his character.  I believe that World Bipolar Day will help bring my dream to fruition.’ ”

World Bipolar Day, March 30, 2015” from bpnurse:  “For my part, I’m proud that people with this disorder are finally talking about it instead of hiding in a closet. Much of what our society believes about bipolar is wrong, and those of us with lived experience are the best source of information; but putting ourselves out there can still be risky for us due to discrimination in employment, loss of friendships and changes in our social status.”

 

and now, I’m snagging yet something else from the lovely blahpolar diaries: a bipolar questionnaire.

World Bipolar Day Questionnaire

1. What does “bipolar disorder” mean to you?
it’s an explanation for my inabiality to find and maintain balance or consistency.  I’ve always been an extremist in most everything.  knowing that this is not just my having less self-control or will-power, but is instead a result of mis-wiring in my brain — I can hate myself a little less.  that doesn’t get me off the hook; that doesn’t mean I don’t have to continue struggling to live appropriately.  rather, it means I better know how to find assistance in and how to approach management of this problem.

2. What was your life like before you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
like most who are eventually noted as bipolar, I was initially diagnosed with major (or unipolar) depression.  so I was prescribed mainly anti-depressants.  however, that only controlled one end of extremes.  I was pretty competent at hiding my more reckless behaviors from the parental units; however, I know the things I did and the risks I took, and I thought I was just fearless.  instead, it was because I was legitimately mental unstable and, in some cases, actually insane at the time.

3. How old were you when you were diagnosed?
sometime in June 2010, I think.  at least, that’s what my “Medical History” document tells me; and it has a better memory for details than I do, lol.

4. How do you manage your symptoms?
medication is my first go-to.  but I know therapy also worked in the past.  having my partner or close friends assist in monitoring me is an excellent way for me to have an external and somewhat objective interpretation of my behaviour, too.

5. What is life like for you now?
heh.  well, back when I was on medication, it was … better.  I was less manic and less depressed; my lows weren’t as low nor my highs as high, but they were still there.
currently, not being on meds — it’s getting bad.  I’m in a mixed state (watered-down details here and here).  as I’ve stated in a previous entry, this is one of the most dangerous places for a bipolar bloke or lass to be in — we’re still miserable and hopeless and depressed, but we’ve got the energy to do something about it; and because we’ve got that mania still in us, whatever we do is gonna be fucking drastic as hell.

6. Has having bipolar disorder affected your friendships, personal life, or professional life?
omg, yes.  when I’m hypomanic and not medicated, I do all kinds of sort I regret.  and I’m not even really aware of it at the time.  I, uh, I’m not really gonna share the details, because I have IRL people who read this shit.  but just know, it gets pretty fucking bad.
but even when medicated, it’s still difficult.  I make all kinds of promises and plans.  then in a few weeks or months when my depression kicks back in, I’m royally fucked — I don’t have the energy to fulfill these commitments; so I’m either disappointing someone, failing at something, or otherwise having to abandon something else more important to honor a previously made though less important agreement.

7. How do you think society treats people with a mental illness, especially bipolar disorder?
I’m honestly incredibly blessed.  when people learn that I’ve got mental disorder X (OCD, anxiety, bipolar, whatever), they often don’t believe me.  I guess that’s because I’m so damn good at pretending I’ve got all my shit together.
however, that means when I’m suffering or struggling really terribly, it’s difficult to reach out.  I’ve never really let on how bad it gets, so I scare people when I finally actually open up to them.  it’s happened several times during my life; so I now just avoid opening up at all.  (that’s why this blog is so great — you don’t like what I’m saying?, then stop fucking reading.  easy as that!)

8. Have you ever felt discriminated against or looked poorly on because of bipolar disorder?
thankfully, no.  but again, I believe that’s because I can hide my Crazies so that it seems like I “have bipolar” just as how an anal-retentive person will say he “has OCD”.

 

9. Do you have any words of advice for people in the world suffering with bipolar disorder or other mental illness?
you’re only as fucked as you let yourself be.  someone or something, somewhere, is willing to help.  sometimes it’s ass-hard to find that person or place.  but if you really do wanna get better or at least make it out okay, you just gotta look.  ::shrugs::

PSA: (hypo)manias are NOT fucking awesome

so over at Blahpolar Diaries, the author does what she calls “linkdumps”, wherein she topic vomits in no particular fashion links, articles, reviews, and other information about bipolar disorder.  it’s a real trove if you want to be more updated or informed than just about what I prattle regarding bipolar.  however, this round, she posted some that I too wanted to share.

 

first is a piece from The Guardian entitled “Let’s get this straight: bipolar is not a useful tool for productivity“.  here’s a great excerpt:

Not everyone experiences dizzying highs; the lows may not be as pronounced for some. It is a condition that varies dramatically. My bipolar presents with long, angry, solitary manic periods, in which I can churn out thousands of pages to the exclusion of all else.
Does that sound good to you? It’s not.
Think of the angriest you’ve ever been. Did it hurt – physically and emotionally leave you raw? Think of the way you feel after a long writing spurt – exhausted, physically drained, numb perhaps. Now think of those feelings drawn out over a period of months, with no end in sight. Relief comes in the form of deep depression. Some relief! To be told I should be grateful for this was stunning.

it goes on to talk about how even the generic medical and academia world, people don’t understand what the fuck bipolar is.

during my last hypomanic phase, I was easily going 115 mph down the interstate, I was sleeping with whichever friend I could, I was making all these bold promises and plans about my future, and I really truly believed I was invincible and thus did incredibly stupid things (as in, more stupid than the aforementioned).  (hypo)manias are not necessarily awesome.

moreover, it’s during the very early or very late season of a (hypo)mania that a person with bipolar is most likely to kill himself — there’s just enough sadness and despair to feel hopeless, but he has the energy to “do” something about it.

 

anyway.  the second is just a collection of celebrities’ quotes about mental illnesses.  the quote that really stood out to me was from one of those “YouTubers”, and it goes as follows:

Now, the stigma surrounding mental health isn’t surprising — at all. A mental illness generally suggests that something is wrong with the brain. Our brain is our control center. It’s responsible for everything we do, and the idea of something being wrong with the brain generally suggests that we’re out of control. And as humans we hate that idea. We hate it so much that we just don’t talk about it. We sweep it under the rug and pretend that it’s not there. But it is. Mental illnesses are a thing. They’re real, and they’re very present. And we need to talk about them.

 

so yeah.  Blahpolar Diaries is a great blog, and she shares awesome shit.  and these were ones I wanted to share too.