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SO much shit has happened in the past two months. If you are willing to read, then I am equally willing to share.

 

Firstly, I very nearly relapsed into bipolar mania. With the unregulated stimulants, “forgetting” my medications (not taking them because it didn’t feel “right”), not eating, not sleeping properly…These all spell a recipe for disaster – bipolar edition.

I have stopped self harming. That resolution was one that wasn’t actually too hard to stick to, for some odd reason. I think this is because I had only been using this as a coping mechanism on an occasional basis – only when things were REAL shit.

My drinking has been a little harder; sporadic and decreased at best. I HAVE drunk since the implementation of my resolution to stop, but I see those as minor setbacks. No getting smashed, no drunkeness, just simply a drink. In my world, there is no such thing as “a drink”, but lately I haven’t been exposing myself to drinking, haven’t had alcohol at my disposal either. I haven’t allowed myself the access to it.

Eating wise? That is a whole other can of beans right there for you. I have been eating in a very unhealthy and random-ass way. However, upon further analysis, I find patterns and various triggers. Over the past two months, 17 pounds have been lost, some regained, some not. I’ve been holding a stable weight, no thanks to the endless binges that creep at night, when the sun goes down. I starve completely during the lighted hours. Absolutely zero calories consumed, making me not hungry, but victim to intense, overwhelming, dissociated cravings. It turns dark all of a sudden and I? I turn dark to reflect the night. My spirit fades, I depress. I feel so awful that I resort to one of my last existing, maladaptive coping methods: my eating disorder. Bingeing and sometimes purging will ensue, without fail, every night. That is, besides last night. Besides the night before too.

I have been very proactive in my eating disorder recovery. Recently my motivations have increased in magnitude, and I have responded vigorously and thoroughly with my own, personalized and made-up treatments.

Firstly, I brainstormed a spiderweb chart, identifying my biggest challenges. Then, by applying some serious critical thinking, analogies (I LIVE for analogies, no joke) as well as some new medication changes, I really considered the theory and hidden meanings behind my coping mechanisms.

Firstly, the analogy. Imagine a house. I live in this house. This house is totally a mess: falling apart. Windows breaking for no apparent reason,  pictures falling off the walls, oven malfunctioning, floors breaking. I am desperately trying to clean up after these messes and salvage my house. What I am not realizing however, is the root of these problems: the foundation of the house.

This house is an analogy for my life. My life is full of falling apart debris. I am scrambling to catch all the things falling on my head from the sky, trying not to get hit by lightning during a storm that was created just for me. My life is so crazy. BUT — I just have a crappy foundation of my life. My eating disorder therapist says: a foundation is composed of three pillars – nutrition, sleep and exercise. In my case? Every. single. goddamn. pillar. is. absolute. crap.

I have forgotten how to exercise without triggering my eating disorder. I have lost the art of getting a regular, normal nights sleep. And I definitely have not had adequate nutrition in over a year. My pillars are unimaginably flawed.

So, how to fix these?

I am taking a new mindset with my mental illnesses. I am realizing that to fix the symptoms, the foundations must be solid. A house cannot stand for long while sinking into the mud.

But how do I find the time to fix the foundation when I am always trying to keep up with the symptoms, with the broken glass up in my house? Apply the principles of Eisenhower’s logic based quadrant of urgent and important tasks in a life.

According to this quadrant, Eisenhower theorizes that a task is a combination of two things: urgent and important. Each possibility (urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, neither urgent nor important) is designated a quarter of the quadrant. Thus arises a natural ordering of tasks. Tasks that are urgent and important must be dealt with first. Then the important and urgent tasks, followed lastly by neither important or urgent tasks.

To deal with my house difficulties I am following this pattern. I must deal with the urgent and important things foremost. This represents the serious symptoms – the broken windows and the glass littering the ground. I cannot even walk throughout my house without hurting myself on the broken glass. Sweeping this up is the first step.

What about the foundations, you ask? They are also important. But aha, where falls the urgency? This second factor dictates the order of treatments.

The important and urgent symptoms are:

  • dissociation, triggering the need for the implementation of my maladaptive coping mechanisms (self harm, drinking, restricting of food or bingeing) as well as serious symptoms of concentration, distractibility and impulsivity.
  • My last maladaptive coping mechanism: my eating disorder. This plays into the foundations of my house, but more concretely it is a symptom of my current state of bodily nutrition. Eating disorder behaviors result in a mixed up nutrition, which means bingeing leads to purging – both lead to restriction, but restriction leads to bingeing. An obviously vicious cycle is in play. Breaking this circle is a task which I classify as important and urgent.

These two symptoms are my important and urgent tasks and issues. To be dealt with the utmost urgency, these are my first priority.

To do so, I have logic-ed my way into a solution. Beginning with dissociation, I consider the opposite of dissociation: grounding. By brainstorming a huge list of ADAPTIVE, useful and grounding coping mechanisms, I create a system consisting of randomly choosing these grounding techniques to practice daily. By keeping this habit of daily grounding at strategic times (both during dissociation crises, and during times of stability, which allows for practice and the honing of my skills of grounding), I continue to progress to a more grounded state, and limiting my dissociation abilities. Some examples of my grounding techniques are:

  • legitimately sitting on the ground
  • getting fresh air and walking around
  • self soothe kit usage, to get in touch with my senses
  • calming music
  • meditation
  • drinking tea

By randomly selecting a few daily grounding strategies, I practice the act and mindset of grounding. This in turn strengthens the brain synapses, the wiring of my brain, to turn away from the maladaptive to the adaptive. I literally change my brain by changing my behaviours.

In regards to my eating disorder, I have devised a graduated plan.

Remember when you were a kid, and you didn’t see any point in brushing your teeth when you were simply going to eat breakfast and dirty your teeth once again? Your parent or guardian maybe created a challenge, a game. Each act of teeth brushing equals a sticker. Once a certain threshold of stickers is reached over the period of a week, a prize is awarded.

This is the basis of my diet. I am treating my underdeveloped brain in the way that I should; as if a five year old girl, I follow the carrot towards healthy eating. The way it works is this:

Week one is a challenge to eat one healthy meal a day. Simple, right? At the end of the week, on Saturday, if I reach my goal of meals (represented and monitored by assigning a sticker to each meal successfully eaten), I get a prize, small and inexpensive, but also something that I enjoy and would be motivated to treat myself with. As the weeks progress, the number of stickers to equal a prize increases. Two meals, followed by a week of three meals a day, followed by more implementations of healthy eating habits – until the ideal, healthy, eating skills are developed.

This week, week one, was a 7 sticker goal by the end of Saturday. I made this goal by eating two meals a day for three consecutive days, followed by a day of THREE honest to goodness meals in the span of 24 hours. So, prize already earned, and with a couple of days left, I had a couple of options. I could either use the rest of the week to starve and try and (futilely) counteract my prior caloric consumption. After all, my eating disordered thoughts and feelings still continue to drive my brain.

Or? I could fight. I decided on this option. I created a bonus prize. Something that I really wanted. My motivation high, I challenged myself to an evening free of bingeing. I had to have, by the end of the week, an entire 24 hours sans la binge.

A seemingly simple challenge, I struggled for two nights trying, and failing, to complete this challenge. Each morning after my binges, I would wake up feeling like utter shit. Guilt, shame, unworthiness. I would force feed myself breakfast, small and low-calorie, and then not eat again until my next nightly binge. But this in itself? A victory, and a huge one at that. Eating regularly keeps my blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. Everyone tells me that regular eating throughout the day, keeping a level blood sugar all day, will directly result in a decrease of my insane cravings that pop up at night. I, of course, have always denied this. I was simply adding fuel to the fire of my eating disorder, so obviously I wouldn’t want to actually try to get better…But things have changed now, and I NEED to get better. For Eric, for the sake of my job, education, future, financial stability? I must improve my eating disorder.

So I decided to try this “eating” thing. I ate breakfast. I ate lunch. I ate dinner, pointedly, before the sun started to set. Then, I waited. The cravings came, but with less intensity than which they regularly haunt me with. I eat, snack really, on popcorn – which I eat a single kernel at a time, and thoroughly tasting every bite. It was a mindful type of eating.

With this, I earn my bonus prize. So all within one week, I’ve eaten ten meals. I’ve not binged for a whole 24 hours. I’ve gotten two prizes (a “spa” night, with face masks; and five plants for my deck).

This whole recovery thing is actually going somewhere now. My motivation: Eric/relationship, job, school, future; all have magnified. I have reasons for recovery, and it is not simply a vague idea anymore. My progress has been immense over the last couple of weeks, and I am constantly improving each and every day.

Wish me luck

xoxoxo

 

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Uncategorized

December is a time for endings

December 24th 2017

I’ve had enough of my life. Something has to change. Something MUST, for the health of my relationships, something must change. In this moment, I have a choice. I have a choice, as I always do in life.

I choose hot coffee on cold mornings. I choose long phone calls with the people I love the most. I choose healed wounds, and fading scars. I choose long walks along the gorge, sun streaming through my variegated hair. I choose writing late into the night, instead of doing my homework. I choose kids books and tea and candles. I choose snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

I choose to stop drinking. I choose Eric. I choose life. I choose sobriety. I choose sanity. I choose stability. I choose myself.

Bipolar disorder

Life-saving Lamotrigine

I have finally (FINALLY) crossed the threshold into mental stability, I think. It’s only been a few days but I’m crossing my fingers for it to last as long as possible.

I attribute this stability to an increase in dose of Lamotrigine/Lamictal. I was on 25mg, which is quite literally a “tic tac dose” – meaning that it was barely helpful at all. Earlier this week, after going to my psychiatrist with a list of mood-related complaints, I increased my dose to 100mg. This is still a fairly minimal dose for that particular medication, but I think it’s starting to take effect.

I am actually still wondering whether I am suffering from a placebo effect with the increased dose, as psychiatric drugs don’t generally work this fast. But it has been known to happen. Besides, if it works, then it works – I’m not going to complain about it.

I’m very excited to see how my mental stability progresses!

Life

I feel like I’m filled with love. My heart feels huge. And full of love and peace and happiness.

I was so productive today, which was super unexpected. I finally went to the island sexual health clinic to get tested for STI’s and to get my IUD consultation out of the way. I was really really nervous. I’ve realized, that I have this irrational fear of being taken advantage of by doctors, I think because they are in such a position of power over me – I’m always scared that they’ll abuse said power. So being in that vulnerable mindset already, being put in that position is almost unbearable. But (of course) the doctor was very understanding and was really great, and made the process easy and way less scary than I was expecting it to be. I’m actually starting to get excited for my IUD now because it went so smoothly.

I also cleaned my hamsters cage, cleaned my room, did the dishes, organized my purse and a few other generally good and positive things.

It made for a great day. I’m feeling incredibly balanced right now. Thank the lords.

Bipolar disorder · Feelings · Life

Hello mania, my old friend

Ah yes, indeed it has struck again.

Talking fast.

Racing thoughts.

Fidgety and restless.

Unable to complete tasks due to focus issues.

Scattered thinking.

Elevated mood.

Decreased need for sleep.

Increase in energy.

Increase in goal directed behaviors.

Impulsivity to the maximum.

I’m a textbook case. Especially when it comes to my impulses. I have literally got a grand total of 0.55$ left in my bank account, and a impulsively cut up credit card, with no available balance left on it anyways. I’ve been drugged up mostly on whatever I can find, wine, weed, even including other peoples prescription medication, taken without their knowledge or consent. In short, I’m an impulsive mess. However, I must pride myself on two points: I have not purged due to impulsivity, and I have not self harmed due to impulsivity – both of which are concerns in the back of my mind when I become more impulsive, a.k.a manic.

Anyways, the past two days have been absolutely, fabulously, lit. I’ve smoked every day, not slept for two days now (without the help of coffee, miraculously I am not even tired after my second night in a row awake), I’ve done chores around the house like a banshee, cleaning this and that, and vaccumming and doing laundry and dishes. I call my parents and chatter at them for half an hour, at perhaps three times my normal speaking speed. It’s just that I have so many thoughts to convey, I can’t possibly get it all out in the normal fashion. So I go overdrive. I get excited about everything, going on rants and tangents left, right and center. I chatter away to my hamster, who is sleeping in her little igloo, and can’t even understand English anyways, but I talk nonetheless, running my ideas past her for approval.

I call my doctor, and chatter away at him too for awhile, and he gets mildly concerned. He tells me to come and meet him the very next day at 9am, and to take some loxapine to try and get me calmed down and sleeping at night. I do not comply with this suggestion, instead, I warm up my old coffee and drink that. Stupid Jenna. I smoke, which helps to slow me down a little.

I go to my morning appointment with my doctor. When he asks what has been going on for me lately, I freeze. I do not know what to say, or why I am even here. I stumble my way through a sentence of unconvincing examples of my mania, conveniently leaving out the really bad parts, or else minimizing them completely. Thus, I am unsurprised, if not very dismissed and invalidated, at his verdict: I am pretty much fine. I simply am in an “up-swing”. I’m not manic.

I know better. I know what I feel, and I will tell you right now, that I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite as manic as I do now. Not to an excessive point, but I am noticeably more manic than I’ve been in the past. While I don’t think I need to go to the hospital, I do think some sleeping medication would be very useful in this scenario. Without sleep, I am, (pardon my French), fucked. I NEED my sleep. And in this state, I just cannot even lie in bed and TRY to sleep, I’m too race-y for something as peaceful and serene as sleeping, or lying still even.

So that brings us to the present moment. My boyfriend is sleeping in my teeny tiny bed, snoring away contentedly, and I am clacking away on my laptop, writing and writing, the room dimly lit with candles, my music on repeat matchbox 20. I am very happy. Don’t get me wrong. But the happiness is also dangerous. It never lasts, and never does it come on it’s own. It always brings its friends anxiety and stress-induced paranoia and psychotic thinking. This is the part of mania that I hate. Luckily I haven’t reached that threshold yet, of turning from good mania to bad mania, so I’m still in the clear – for now. I dread the day when my mood drops though, or my mania turns sour. I’m trying to enjoy my elevated mood for as long as it lasts, but I am also trying my best to quell my mania and stop it from becoming a full-blown episode. It’s quite a balancing act, of wanting verus shoulds. I SHOULD try and sleep for at least a little bit tonight. I WANT to stay manic, and harness my excess energy for good – meaning no sleep. I can’t sleep either way, so my decision on this point is moot anyways.

I hope that my boyfriend is at least having a good sleep. I am certainly having an excellent night, despite my lack of sleeping.

BPD · Feelings

Things to know about a Borderline

I have borderline personality disorder.

  1. This means I have a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. It is not something I can simply “out-think”. My neural networks are cemented into their patterns of bad and self-destructive behaviors. Changing this is not easy. It is possible, with intensive treatment, to out-manoever BPD, using skills learned in Dialectical behavioral therapy, and possibly medication. But one cannot simply “stop” feeling a certain way, or “quit” one’s bad habits.
  2. When I ask if you hate me, I’m being serious, and expecting a serious response, lest the invalidation train would strike.
  3. My mood swings are not my fault. I have minor control over my moods, in that I can change my immediate environment to (sometimes) suit my needs. However, when you factor in the aspect of dealing with other people, then it becomes a whole different ball game. I am not capable of controlling other peoples “vibes”, their moods, their actions and reactions. I am extremely sensitive to all of the aforementioned stressors and there is not much that one can do to lessen the effects of them.
  4. Sometimes, I’m a liar. I lie. Mostly it’s the fault of my BPD, and my problem is mostly with lying to myself. I’ll go through a process called “splitting”, during which something (oftentimes it is a person) is biased in my mind to either be “bad” or “good”; no such thing as being “in-between”. However, this is a blatant lie on my part, to my own self. I lie routinely about my interpretations of the world, in order for my fragile little brain to be able to handle reality. I skew the facts to make them easier to digest. I lie to myself, and with that, I spread the lie – just know, if I ever say anything along the lines of “I hate you”, I am also lying. I am not a hateful person, and at heart, I love everyone.
  5. Despite how it seems, I really do want to get better. My habits are simply so entrenched in my reality that I can hardly separate myself from my self-destructive behaviors. I do try. I really really do. It just isn’t an easy disorder to handle, let alone to actively treat and challenge thoughts and behaviors.
Anxiety

Adventures in Gabapentin

Well that was a complete bust now wasn’t it.

My anxiety levels have been steadily rising as my depression got worse, so I decided with my doctor to start an anti-anxiety medication that is suitable for people with bipolar disorder, such as myself. Of all the medications out there, there are two that fit the bill: seroquel and gabapentin. I’ve tried seroquel in the past. My main concern with seroquel is that it generally makes people gain A LOT of weight. And I just can’t handle that. So there is no way I’m letting a single pill pass my lips. So that left gabapentin.

I took my first dose in the early afternoon, when my anxiety is at its peak. A mere hour or so after I took it, I began to get weird cold-like symptoms. I, naturally, thought these were just a coincidence and that I was getting sick. It steadily got worse, until it looked as if I had a full on flu. At this point, I am still taking my gabapentin. Until my lips started to swell. They puffed and they puffed. They swelled right up. It was actually really scary, I must admit. I googled gabapentin side effects and it popped up basically telling me to go to the hospital – which is advice I didn’t heed… I just did not want to go to the hospital. So instead, I slept for about 17 hours in a row…

I texted my case manager, who then consulted with the doctor – he said to stop taking the gabapentin.

So I’m left here, out of anti-anxiety options. I’m just begging the universe to let my anxiety symptoms subside as my depression eases….