BPD · Feelings · Life

That is a blog post that I nearly posted yesterday afternoon.

I think I’ve figured out why I don’t just DO IT already.

I’m, ultimately, not hopeless. Not without hope. I’ll be sitting there with a literal bottle of advil – 28,800 mg of ibuprofen in my grasp – note already ready, it’s been ready for weeks – and I won’t do it. I tell myself that I’m completely ready.

I just keep putting it off, like an addict trying to quit smoking: “I’ll do it after the laundry is done”, “I’ll do it after I’ve eaten this orange”, “After my nap”. Those are, quite literally, my thoughts.

But then a glimpse of hope will somehow creep into my brain. Some little glimmer. I’ll remember a time when I laughed, I’ll take a sip of perfectly steeped tea, I’ll watch a great singer on the voice get a four chair turn. And I’ll realize, once again, that my life is precious.

There seem to always be a crushing amount of reasons to give up, to give in, to let go – a world full of pain and despair. A box doesn’t fit on the shelves at work, I may as well be dead. My dress has a tear. Three people are dead. I finished drinking an iced latte. These all seem to be perfectly sane reasons to die.

But I’m still here. I still have that one little flame of hope to live for: the joy of living itself. I might just make it through until tomorrow, to see the sun again. And I will cling to that hope with the skin of my teeth because that is literally all that I have. And in the end, that will have been enough. That I have tried with all my might, to live a good and happy life.

(Don’t worry about me, right now I’m completely safe, safer than I’ve been in weeks).

Eating disorder

Food yet again

I’m in a food dilemma (as always)…

My eating disorder has been mostly under control the past month or so, but with my recent hospitalization, bad habits have been brought to the surface. Nothing to be concerned about in the long run, but they are troubling in the moment.

One day while hospitalized I got so hungry that I literally could devour anything. And so I did….I ate a bunch of paper. Fucking paper. I’m so disgusted with myself for that, but to be honest that isn’t even that bad…for me…. Of course I purged right afterwards, so did I really eat it? Does it really count? Who’s to say. But needless to say, this was a worrisome event in the short term.

I spoke with an eating disorder specialist at the royal jubilee hospital during my short stay there, and she had some advice for me: STOP BEING VEGAN. She claims that it was simply feeding into my restrictive eating disorder behaviors. This is something that I’ve been pondering for awhile now, with the notion of un-vegan-ifying (or renormalizing) in the back of my mind.

But it’s a super scary idea. My biggest problem with food at this point in my life is the physical feeling of fullness. Feeling full makes me feel fat. Feeling fat makes me feel bad. Feeling bad makes me suicidal. It’s all a vicious cycle that just gets me down. And I generally find that vegan foods are lighter on the stomach than “regular foods”.

So my plan is to transition out of eating a vegan diet and into a vegetarian diet, and then, ultimately, into a “regular” diet. That’s the dream anyways.

I have an appointment with my new counselor at the eating disorder clinic on Monday, so stay tuned for some (hopefully positive!) updates about that.

BPD · Life

Hobbies and their role in my identity/the art of storytelling

I feel like my life is a delayed flight finally taking off. I’ve been in a state of limbo for the past month, with me couch-surfing and staying with friends. It’s been so unstable, which is generally a bad thing for my mental health.

Luckily, my brain seems to be on the down-low for the moment. My adjustment disorder reared its head for a couple of days right after I started my new job at Walmart, but has since subsided and my ravenous drive for sanity has returned to the surface.

It’s possible that I am hypomanic, although it is also equally as likely that I am simply a motivated and high functioning individual. I’ve been incredibly driven – driven to work, to create, to accomplish. I have started a knitting business, where I sell knitted socks under the “Jenna brand” (Girl with a story). I’ve been knitting like crazy, developing knitting patterns, writing about knitting. This type of focus happens to me regularly. When I get an idea in my mind, I don’t shake it until I have gotten completely submerged in the subject. A tad obsessive maybe ;)? And I believe this is a symptom of my borderline personality disorder. For as long as I can remember, I have fluctuated, and bounced from obsession to obsession, but never quite landing on one that “fit”. It is a part of my personality to try new things I suppose – but it’s more than just that. Without knowing who I am, I attempt to grasp onto things that can aid in a definition of “Jenna”.

Knitting and reading are my two most consistent hobbies. I’ve been reading for my whole life, and I learned to knit when I was ten. I think I’m starting to, slowly, very slowly, understand the essence of Jenna. I am a peaceful being. I appreciate the small things in life. I value creativity and intelligence and kindness. I love to share, share everything. I respect the individual, and believe that everyone has a story to tell. I think that there is no such thing as evil, just different perspectives. Through my external world, I have constructed a picture of my internal landscape. Knitting = creativity, reading = intelligence, business = sharing my talent and ideas. My hobbies are my definition at this point. That is why I dive into them with such vigor. I don’t know any other way. Who am I if not a knitter? A reader? A creator? A storyteller?

I think that’s the label I would choose above all others. I am a storyteller at heart. My life is based around stories, ones that I tell myself about the world around me, ones that I read, ones that I perceive. Everything follows a story arc; plot devices are integrated into my bones. I’m simply a “Girl with a story”, trying to share her unique perspectives with the world.

My life is simply that: a story. But there’s a catch… It is a story still being written – and I am the author. I choose the paths, I choose the atmosphere, the mood, the tone. I can choose whether to write a tragedy, or a success story. My story isn’t over. Me being alive, that is my art. Telling my own personal story to the world by simply existing. That is me. That is the essence of my life.


A job or a career?

Surprisingly, Walmart Langford has an amazing work environment.

Why this is surprising, I can’t quite pinpoint – but Walmart has a certain social stigma associated with it.

In reality, the fulfillment team is just that, a team. We all take our breaks together, we all unpack boxes alongside each other. We have a great relationship between all of us. It’s only my first week there but I already count my co-workers among my friends. This is an incredibly amazing feat. In past experiences, I’ve found it difficult to make friends through work, as people generally have previously established friend groups outside of work. However, in this case, everyone is around the same age as me, and with Walmart being such a non-discriminatory employer, you find all sorts of people working there. I guess that means that I fit in quite well here.

My life is taking turns and shaping up to be something entirely different than I thought it would be. Here I am, a week into my new job, already considering future careers (management opportunities?) with the company. Why Walmart you wonder? Isn’t it completely counter-intuitive to my values? Actually no. Walmart is committed to serving the individual, to respect, to excellent customer service. Personally, I adore customer service. I am “customer-centric”, with my priority always being that of attempting to brighten someone’s day and make a lasting impression on them. I would love to be a bigger part of the company, simply for the effect I could have. Introducing sustainable practices, environmentally sound policies, socially just ventures – all of this is something I could accomplish from the inside.

I do think¬†I am management material. I am very organized and am good at prioritizing and juggling – all skills which are required in a higher role. Of course, it would take awhile to get to the point where I could even apply for a management role – however, the environment of Walmart, as it stands now, is something that I’d love to be a bigger part of.

I’ve also been active in my knitting life: I’ve started my own business venture. It’s called “girl with a story knitting” and we sell knitted socks! Eventually, my dream is to open a combined cafe/knitting store/kids bookstore. It would be the absolute peak of my career. You know, I think this is what makes me happy. While I love school, and will definitely continue my degree – I think opening a knitting shop and working with people and being creative and working in a task-based environment is ultimately what will fulfill my soul. These are my future dreams, hopes, ambitions. Become a manager at Walmart. Transition into owning a full-time knitting/bookstore/cafe. Live life happily. Be creative. Be joyful. Have meaningful interactions. That is all I hope out of life.

And I’m so excited to be taking steps towards my dreams.



First day at a new job!

My work history is a storied one, fraught with tales of woe and absolute impossibilities of the mind.

Things first started to go sour when I was working for Thrifty foods. I had a position in both the front end department, tending to customers at the till as a cashier; and I also worked as a cake decorator in the bakery department. My hours were random and unpredictable. My moods were as well. This was a period of my life where I was, as of yet, unaware of my adjustment disorder, so my depressions were unexplained and confusing. I decided it would be a fantastic idea to simply increase my dose of anti-depressants, since my mood was so low for no reason (yeah right…) I took handfuls of Venlafaxine, instead of the three or so capsules I was prescribed. And you’ll never guess what the consequences were (or perhaps you already have)… My mood skyrocketed, due to my innate bipolar brain chemistry. I became very hypomanic and was reckless and increasingly impulsive. At work I wore tons of makeup, greeted every customer with the enthusiasm of a long lost family member reunion, and excitedly scanned all their purchases with a scary determination. I also was in the midst of disordered eating, so I wouldn’t bring food with me to work.

I eventually was hospitalized for all of my hypomanic symptoms. I was sent to Cowichan bay hospital in Duncan, and I was forced to quit my job. It was the most ungraceful affair imaginable – I was in hospital so I had to get my dad to quit for me. I didn’t return to work.

My next job was the summer after this one. I had just completed a full year at university and I was doing fairly well, or so I thought. In retrospect, my symptoms were worsening and my diagnoses were, in reality, more complex than ever before. I took a position in plant maintenance at Foxglove farm and Garden supplies Ltd. It was a dream come true. I am a “plant nerd” so being in an environment where I could spend all day tending plants – that was an incredible opportunity for me. It started to go sour around my fourth week on the job. Up until this point, the novelty seemed to help me coast through the changes that were bombarding my adjustment disordered brain. However, the novelty didn’t last, and with that, my sanity abruptly disintegrated. I began to be unable to bear completing the simple tasks of watering the plants. Simply the idea of going into work made me incredibly suicidal. I was absolutely a mess with my eating during this period – I was fully engulfed in my bulimia at this point. I was hospitalized for an overdose of my prescription medications, and after this incident, I decided that I was simply too mentally unstable to be able to continue my work with Foxglove. I quit via email, with no notice.

Fast forward a couple of months, and everything has changed. I am currently couchsurfing in Victoria, spending my time with my friends and boyfriend, waiting for September the first when I can move into my own, new place. I have obtained a position at Walmart Langford, where I am part of the fulfillment team, stocking shelves. I had my first shift yesterday. It was a strange roller coaster of an experience – but overall it was a positive time for me.

The first scary thing was when they handed me a box cutter. I understood that it was an extremely necessary part of my job as I would be unable to open boxes of product without the tool, however, that fact didn’t stop me from being triggered in a big way. On my hour long lunch break, I resisted my urges as best I could, but couldn’t help “testing” the blade on my ankle the absolute tiniest bit, just to see how sharp it was. I eventually ended up leaving it in my locker at work instead of bringing it home with my vest as I would have normally done.

I also “forgot” to bring food with me. I was moving boxes and stocking shelves for seven hours, without any lunch or any dinner. I was running off of my breakfast of that day, which was two rice cakes with peanut butter and jam… I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t proud of this.

But what makes me even more proud is the fact that I survived. Yes, I cried in the bathroom on all of my breaks. Yes, I consumed only water for nearly a whole day. Yes, I cut myself, albeit barely visible marks. But despite my adjustment disorder wreaking havoc on my brain, making me feel desperate and impulsive and slightly suicidal even; I didn’t quit. I made it through the day, and even enjoyed the work while I was engaged in it. The eight hours simply sped by and by the time I knew it, it was time to clock out. I worked with some really nice people, I got complimented on my customer service skills, I felt a huge sense of satisfaction at looking at the work I had completed just on my first day.

I am incredibly proud of all of this. I’ve decided I want to try and stick this job out. The stability will be a godsend – with all of my shifts being regular and the same every day. I get good hours – about 37 a week, which is more than I was even expecting. I get paid better than I was hoping as well, a full 11.20 an hour! I enjoyed the work, with everything speeding by and me never being bored by the tasks (it was almost like a puzzle – trying to find where items were supposed to go on the shelves etc.). I had a huge sense of importance and accomplishment yesterday while working. I am excited to go to work again today. I am excited for my work to, perhaps finally, work out for me.

Wish me luck world. I’ll try not to need it though…


Current situation

My life has taken a turn for…the better? It is, as of yet, undecided by the universe what this year will bring to me.

I had a mental breakdown a few weeks ago, resulting in a hospitalization for hypomania/mania and akithesia. My symptoms were severe enough that my psychiatrist gently suggested taking a break from my impending schooling in the fall. After about two seconds of thought, I realized that he was, indeed as he usually is, right in thinking that I would be mentally incapable of performing at school at this point in my life. Despite me being a relatively intelligent individual, I do not cope with stress very well. It affects my adjustment disorder intensely and I simply cannot function in the way I can when not under stress.

So, I decided to take a year out of my schooling, to move to the city, to find a new job and a place to live. All of this happened in a nanosecond while in the interview room at the hospital. Impulsive decision? Perhaps yes, but that doesn’t stop it from being the right choice.

And thus far, my life is going exactly the way that I want it to – I found a place to live (moving in on the 31st/1st/2nd), I found a new job (at Walmart stocking shelves) and I have great friends and a great boyfriend (they all are the best I’ve ever had). I’m immensely pleased with the outcomes of my decisions.

So this is where I lie currently: in a bed of recovery, finally getting comfortable in my life.

Anxiety · BPD · Eating disorder

Exposure treatments

The treatment of my mental illnesses has always been complicated, but in recent times my treatment plans have gotten more complex and gained a depth previously unseen in my life.

I have five distinct psychiatric diagnoses, and often these require different types of treatments. It is not a case of “hitting two birds with one stone” – in fact, my treatment is mostly the opposite of this.

The treatment of my adjustment disorder (also known as situational depression) is the simplest of all my treatments. This diagnosis refers to my inability to handle change, and my tendency to be thrust into a triggered depression in reaction to changes that I experience. I simply do not have the mental flexibility or agility to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. This affects all of my treatments, as to heal, one must change, Therefore, healing is made doubly hard for me since, subconsciously, I don’t really want things to change. In short, change, even for the better, is scary. Treating my adjustment disorder is mostly a matter of lifestyle changes and treating the symptoms of depression as they hit me. This means that I try and avoid triggering situations, such as those with extreme changes implicated. When change is inevitable, I try and break the change down into smaller pieces, to be faced individually and in a measured fashion.

The treatment of my anxiety disorder is mostly medication driven. I take an anti-anxiety medication that works very well to combat my chronic anxiety. Medication also assists in the treatment of my bipolar 2, with an anti-psychotic serving to stabilize my moods and maintain stable moods.

Now,¬†exposure therapy is the idea of exposing yourself to triggers in a controlled and risk free environment to acclimatize yourself to these triggers. This is my newest treatment that I have been exploring to deal with my BPD symptoms, and it is by far the most successful and effective. I’ll illustrate this with an example: I get chronic feelings of emptiness, and often feel as if I’m not real or don’t exist if I’m not involved in a task or in the presence of other people. This results in a dread and despair in the prospect of being alone. I am usually unable to handle these feelings and thus seek out refuge in the grounding and validating company of people. However, lately I’ve been in situations that require me to be able to handle my emotions during periods of alone time, ie. when my boyfriend goes to work and I am left on my own. At first this was an unbearable time. But as I continue to push through my emotions, I am finding that I am increasingly able to spend time being content and alone (such as right now!). In this way, exposure therapy is helping to improve my quality of life immensely.

Exposure therapy is not suitable in treating my bulimia. This is because I am still in the midst of its clutches and I have not yet been able to separate myself from the eating disorder as of yet. I am it, and it is me and while I know that isn’t necessarily true all of the time, circumstances arise where I am triggered by the tiniest thing and end up engulfed once again in my eating disorder. Once I have been able to cultivate a little bit of space between myself and my eating disorder, then I shall try exposure treatments again.