Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Putting the mask back on

People always say to just "be yourself" and that everything will be fine. What they don't consider is whether "yourself" if someone that will be accepted by others or not. In my case, it is not.

I'm 31 years old, and I think I've lived a relatively successful life so far, in spite of my issues. And I lived most of those years wearing masks. I have very little (if any) sense of self, and have a tendency to adapt quickly to the people around me...that is, I will try to become like the people I am with, in hopes that they will like me. I bottle things up a lot, in fear of causing conflict. And when conflict does occur, I usually run away (metaphorically speaking) and start over somewhere else...because to me, it always feels like its the end of the world. Sometimes this works for me, and sometimes it doesn't. But overall I manage to get by.

Late last year, I decided to try something new...to try "being myself", to stop bottling things up, and to start trying really letting people into my life, without fear of judgment or rejection. So, I told people for the first time in my life about my then and past bouts with depression. I've since told people about BPD. I've even told people all the wonderful things I've been trying to do to "get better". I created a facebook group of close friends and family, which I hoped would act as a support network. And I started blogging.

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who read my blog and comment back...knowing you are out there, listening, and that I am not alone, has made a world of difference. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You make me feel like I can be myself, whether on a good day or bad, and it's ok. I will continue to be my true self with you...

As for the rest of the people in my life...I feel so judged and rejected. I understand how all of this is a lot for people to handle, but somehow I thought that if for once I let people fully into my life, sharing my stories with them and opening up completely, basically standing naked and vulnerable in front of them, that they would support me. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be true :(

I guess I was on the right track before when I would just fake it and pretend to be someone I'm not. Turns out people prefer that make-believe person after all. So I'm putting the mask back on.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I've ruined everything. Again. Just like I do every time things start looking up...

Got into a huge fight with my boyfriend last night, who no longer seems to have any patience for my emotional roller coaster ride. Lately, when I get really upset, he feels like he can't help me and that he only makes things worse, so he gets frustrated and mad at me instead. And then I cry more. I don't blame him one bit for how he feels, though. I get frustrated and mad at me too.

So as usual, I spent the entire night and day so far feeling embarrassed at how I acted, horrible for making him so upset, and hopeless at the thought of ever being able to fix things. I feel like everything is doomed. I want to run away and disappear. And I want to die, although knowing me, that would be just another thing I end up screwing up, and I'd end up in the hospital, still alive, and totally humiliated.

And now I am once again as low as I've ever been. It scares me, the fact that I don't know how to hold things together. It's hard enough for me to handle my own emotions...let alone the thought of burdening others with it...its really, really hard to hard to hang on. But I do. I don't know why. I certainly can't see the end of the tunnel right now...I don't know what to do.

Nothing I ever do is good enough. 3 good days this week mean nothing when they're followed by 2 bad days. Regardless of the fact that I used to have 5 bad days and 2 good days a week, and just looking at the numbers it seems like I'm making progress, its obviously not good enough. It's never good enough. And it hurts so much. I just want to be good enough at something, for once in my life. But I'm not. All I am is a failure.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New season, new start

The last few days have been really, really good. I've been doing a lot of thinking (and reading) about the repercussions of having a narcissistic mother, and I have to say that it totally validates how I've felt about myself for as long as I can remember. What a relief! It has also given me a starting point from which I can start to actually deal with those issues...and I'm learning a whole lot about myself in the process. Yesterday, for instance, I was doing an exercise I learned from the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough that had me asking myself a whole bunch of questions to help me with my self-discovery. The questions would be things like how do I feel about education, politics, religion, and what are my favorite colours, activities, etc. As trivial as this may sound, for a daughter of a narcissistic mother who also suffers from BPD, and as such has very little sense of self, stopping to ask these questions and writing them down actually made me realize that I know a lot more about myself than I thought. :)

I've also been doing much better on the depression front over the last few days. It seems that Zoloft may be a good fit for me...although only time will tell for sure. I've been on these meds for about 2 1/2 weeks now, and so far things look promising. For one thing, these are the first meds to not cause me to have insomnia and all those horrible dreams I used to have, all night, every night. So I'm actually sleeping for the first time in a long, long time.

I still don't have a therapist, as no one I've found will help me and my BPD diagnosis. But I also have great news to report here...it looks like I may have gotten into another 20-week DBT skills training program that is being offered in my community! If so, that program should start in about a month. I'm really excited! I so badly want to get better...to stop self-harming, and to finally move on with my life...but feel like I just don't have the tools or the skills to do it on my own. Even with all the books I've been reading, I just can't seem to get much to stick. Maybe with some training and support, I'll have better luck.

Just to keep things in perspective, though, I've been dealing with these issues for long enough to know that a few good days don't necessarily mean everything will be fine from here on out...although one can't help but feel both relief and excitement on those days when the sun decides to peak out from behind the clouds. Still, I've been trying my best to take advantage of the good days. I've recently started looking for opportunities to volunteer, even on just 1 or 2 days a week, for a few hours a day. As much as I'm not ready to re-join the work force yet, I figure getting out for just a few hours a week should be manageable, especially if it's to do something I like. For me, that would be working with horses. When I was a teenager, I was a trail guide at a ranch, and looking back, that was hands down the best job I ever had. I'm seeing if this would maybe be something I could get back into, at least for now.

I'm also working on a bit of a home project. Those of you who read my old blog will know that I am a knitter. I absolutely love to knit, but more than that, I like to create my own patterns. I used to follow store-bought patterns, but found that they all seemed somehow frumpy. So, a few years ago, I started creating my own. I also recently got a puppy...a little 3-month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Daisy...who I also love dearly. It would therefore only make sense that I combine these 2 loves, and start making unique handmade knit dog sweaters! Here's Daisy's first...

As tough as the fall and winter seasons were, so far spring looks promising. The tough part is to keep the momentum going, but I can only take things one day at a time. So that's exactly what I'm going to do...think only about today...I will deal with tomorrow when it comes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How much progress have I really made?

The last few days have been really, really tough. See, last week (Thursday, I think) I learned 2 pretty significant things about myself: that I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and that she physically and emotionally abused me as a child (the emotional abuse actually hasn't stopped). It's a strange experience, to learn new things about myself, especially when those things explain so much about why I am the way I am (and mostly the things I hate). It's enlightening, validating, but also saddening and hurtful, all rolled into one. And it sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride that doesn't want to stop.

For as long as I can remember, anytime I do anything that is less than perfect, I feel like a total and utter failure...like its the end of the world. Yesterday, for example, I thought I had annoyed my boyfriend because he wasn't responding to some silly actions of mine, when in reality all he was doing was falling asleep. I started to cry. Not like 1 or 2 tears running down my cheek, but all out hysterical bawling. When he tried to ask me what was wrong, I pulled away from him and refused to speak. It was like the sadness had paralyzed my thoughts and my speech, and I was so convinced that he had absolutely enough of me, that my life might as well have ended right then. So I went to the bathroom, grabbed my safety pin, and created another scratch on my forearm. This is the third on my arm...there are also 2 on my leg... The rest of the night didn't get much better, either, and came complete with plenty of crying and banging my head, both on our wooden headboard and on the tile floor.

It was really upsetting that I lost control like that. Even worse is that I now feel so much guilt and embarrassment that I'm finding it impossibly hard to move on. The wound on my arm and the bumps on my head don't make it any easier to forget last night either. I'm also convinced that my boyfriend is absolutely fed up with me...he just doesn't seem to have much patience for me anymore. I don't blame him. He's without a doubt the most patient and understanding person I know, but everyone has their limits...

Growing up, I always thought I was just a socially awkward, insecure perfectionist, with absolutely no sense of identity. Now I'm learning that there may be a reason for all that. As far as I have been told, starting when I was as young as 4 or 5, my mom used to stand behind me when I practiced my instruments, and beat me with a wooden spoon whenever I made a mistake. No wonder I'm afraid of trying anything new in front of people, and of doing anything less that 100% perfect! It kind of makes me wonder if a lot of the issues I have, including possibly my BPD, is a result of the childhood I had. I'll have to do some more digging into my past...I'm really curious as to what else might come up. Funny thing is I can literally count my childhood memories on one hand. I can barely recall anything that happened before my early teens. I thought perhaps there was trauma in my childhood, and that was why I had blocked it out, but my mom (the alcoholic queen of denial) will only tell me that my childhood was nothing short of perfect. So I've decided to have lunch with my dad this week...we don't speak all that often, but maybe he can give me some more insight into what really went on at our home, at least up until he left my mom when I was 7.

So, those of you who read my old blog shouldn't be surprised to learn that I bought a book on narcissistic mothers, both to validate my experiences and to learn more about what I'm dealing with. It's called "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing The Daughters Of Narcissistic Mothers" by Karyl McBride, PhD. It's refreshing to read a book that could very well have been written about my mother and I, because it means that I'm not the only one struggling to deal with these issues. But if learning about my mom and my childhood has sent me back into a dark pit for the last few days, I can't help but wonder...am I really any better than I was a few months ago, or did I just have a few random better days? Have I made any progress at all?

Friday, March 18, 2011

A 50/50 shot at getting help

I wrote on my old blog (here) about a study I was trying to get into that provided Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for people with BPD. Two days ago, I had my second interview...which lasted no less than 5 hours. Ouch. I was emotionally wiped by the end of that meeting, but am happy to report that I qualified, meaning I might finally be able to get some treatment!

Here's the catch: the study follows 2 groups of people, and you have absolutely no say as to which group you get put into. One of the groups will immediately start participating in a 20-week DBT skills training program (fingers and toes crossed I get into this one). The other group gets nothing, other than the added joy of completing random questionnaires during the course of the study...and guaranteed entry into the 20-week DBT skills training program IN 8 MONTHS, at which point the study is over but they give you the treatment anyways for being such a good sport. Given that my life seems to have fallen spectacularly to pieces over the past 6 months, just the thought of waiting another 8 months is a tough pill to swallow. I suppose this is one of those situations that falls into the "I can't do anything about it so why worry" category, so really I shouldn't worry. Easier said than done. Here's the thing: I want so badly to get better, to have a "normal" life, and to stop feeling like a burden to everyone, but I also feel like I don't know how to do that and for some reason no one will help me. Anyways...there's nothing I can do until I know what group I get put into...which should be in the next few weeks.

I'm reminded of a quote from the Dalai Lama, which goes something like "If there is a solution to the problem, then there is no need to worry. And if there is no solution, then there is also no need to worry." That easy, huh? I would love to be one of those enlightened people who seem to have so much peace and joy in their lives. Of course I have no idea how to get there, even though I have bought all these books on Buddhism and awakening your inner Buddha...come to think of it, I really should read them again...

Meanwhile, I'm also working on a project this counselor gave me to do, to help me weed out the negative people in my life (including those people that I allowed to chase me away from my old blog). I think its actually a great exercise, and maybe it could help others too...here's how it goes:

Draw a circle, and divide it into 3 parts. You are in the center. One third represents family, the second friends, and the third systems (such as counselors, colleagues, and anyone not falling into sections one and two). Then within each group, list EVERY person you know, and then decide whether that person is a positive or negative force in your life. I'm sure you can guess what happens next...keep talking to the positive people, which are people you can truly be authentic with, and segregate the negative so that you have minimal dealings with them, and any dealings you have to have can be prepared for in advance. I've only just started working on this, but hope that it will help me stay focused on keeping in touch with the right people...and avoiding the others, when possible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here's to a New Start...

This is my second attempt at blogging about my life with depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Last time around, I made the critical mistake of letting some people into my world who never should have been allowed to be there...and I got burned. So this time, I'm going to be much, much more careful. This time, I'm not reaching out to any friends and family who I (wrongfully) thought would be supportive and understanding (let's just say I'm not going to make that mistake again). Instead, I'm going to try to connect with people who really DO understand what I am dealing with, because they or someone they know is living it. Because the truth of the matter is that I so badly need to connect with those people, in order to not feel so alone.

So here's to new beginnings...let's hope for better luck this time around.