Life

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…

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Life

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.

 

Feelings · Life

I smile. Another diagnosis. Just keep ’em coming.

I write this while in a very strange state of mind. I am on the edge between hypomanic and real fucking crazy.  This has thus led my psychiatrist to the conclusion that I, in fact, am Bipolar (of some sort).

It all started with the addition of prozac to my medication diet. It was necessary to calm the shit-storm of my eating disorder. However, this little bit of extra antidepressant took its toll and shifted my mood up. Way up.

Imagine the best day of your life. Now intensify that (because of my BPD – feeling emotions intensely). Then replay that heart-fluttery, floating feeling again and again. Then you might  be close to how I am feeling currently.

Apparently I have been hypomanic for a solid couple of weeks. Dressing up and going out, drinking amazing amounts of coffee, sleeping less and less but having tons more energy and motivation, dancing around my room alone to a soundtrack of Disney music, spending all of my money  and more.

At this moment I keep having to pause and erase what I’ve just written as my fingers are simply flying across the keyboard and paying no attention to spelling. My heart pounds, my eyes flutter, my hands have so much energy, my thoughts race. I’ve never quite felt this high before in my life. And I’m not even technically high off of anything at the moment. I’m drowning myself in sound – BLASTING Disney music in my eardrums. I’m so eager for this day to get going that I can’t even sit still. I don’t know how I’m even going to finish this blog post. Perhaps this shall be the end of it, for simplicity’s sake.

Feelings · Life

A progression of events

It all started with a handshake…

That is how I introduced myself to Brodie. He went for a hug and I countered with a formal handshake. And this would then start a chain of events, ending, I don’t have a clue where.

If you aren’t familiar with some of the psychology of BPD, often what happens is a thinking pattern called “splitting”. This means that you see thinks in black and white. This splitting leads to the perception of certain people as being “all good” or “all bad”. There is no in between. So, occasionally, I totally idealize people, or devalue them, depending on my perception of them. The idealized people then take a position in my brain called FP (favorite person), where they can do no wrong in my eyes.

So, the first thing that happened when I met Brodie, is my entire interpersonal clock got reset. He usurped the place of my top FP and is now my most favorite person in the world, despite only having met once (thank goodness, because I think my family was getting sick of my constant clinging and dependency).

This complete takeover of FP led to much more. My adjustment disorder took a say; explaining that we can’t just DEAL with changes, we have to freak the hell out about them – despite the change being very awesome. This is just how my adjustment disorder works. Even if it were the best change that could have ever happened, I still will want to stay stuck in my old habits because I can’t handle the change. But in this case, I am welcoming my adjustment disorder with open arms, meeting her halfway, listening to her tales and woes, inviting her in for a nice hot cup of tea. I needed this change. I needed to become unstuck. Brodie’s sudden introduction has gotten me unstuck for the first time in years.

This change means that I have to be totally gentle with myself in the coming week or so. I must be careful, lest my emotionality take hold and drive me off a cliff – as it so loves to do.

 

Life

Life is seriously looking upwards

I had one of the best days ever, in a long long time, yesterday. I went on a tinder date with a lovely man named Brodie, and we had an absolute blast! Swimming and games and doctor who watching! It was perfect!

I also didn’t purge once again, so that will be the third day in a row without purging! I didn’t even have any urges to purge at all yesterday!

And then, as if things couldn’t get ANY better, UBC offered me a spot in their residence AT THE EXACT RESIDENCE THAT I WANTED!!! So, I will officially be moving to Vancouver for the rest of the summer, depending on when my money will come through from my RESP and student loans.

Anyways, my life right now is a total dream come true and I feel so lucky to be able to live it.