March 17, 2011

Signing off...

I must have found a moment of strength when I started this blog, that allowed me to accept that it meant opening myself up to criticism. What I didn't expect was to end up feeling more hurt than I have felt in a long, long time. Yet somehow I have wound up back in the darkness, no longer writing, because I am paralyzed by a fear of being judged, and ultimately rejected. I guess I am not as strong as I thought I was...

So, let's just call this what it is: another example of me trying something new and failing.

I wish everyone the best...

March 10, 2011

I thought I was doing fine until…

Two days ago, my world came crashing down. Before that day, things actually seemed to be looking up, as evidenced by some of the more positive posts on my blog. Then, someone close to me broke my trust…and once again, I'm paralyzed.

As much as I realize that writing this blog puts me (and my disorders) right out in the open for anyone to see, I still sometimes find it difficult to be totally open and honest about what I’m dealing with when it comes to people I know. It's probably just because of a lack of self-esteem and an intense fear of judgment and rejection, but knowing that doesn't make it any better. And I'm not talking about close friends...they mostly all know by now. But then there are those people who I kinda know but not really, and especially those who are closer to my better half than to me (I am truly terrified of receiving judgment from those people). See, those are the people that I believe would be like "Whoa, what is wrong with your girlfriend? You'd better pack your bags and run before it's too late, mister!" I probably think like this because I believe that I am a burden to everyone (including and especially my better half), but still...just the thought of it shakes me to the core.

So, a few days ago, I learned that my guy shared one of my disorders (specifically my depression) with another one of his friends...despite the fact that we had previously talked about whether or not we were ready to tell more people, and had decided at that time to hold off for a while. Nonetheless, it seems my guy thought that his needs (to share my disorders with absolutely everyone he knows) outweighed my needs (to move more slowly, gradually telling a few people at a time, so that I still felt comfortable with the process.) As a result, he's been knocked waaaaay down on the trust ladder (trust is a huge thing for me...probably the most important.)

I'm not so much upset at the fact that this new person now knows what we're dealing with. Rather, from my standpoint, if my guy and I talked about something, and we had an understanding…and then he just did what he wanted anyways without any regard for my feelings, then he must not respect me, right? So now I'm angry. And I'm hurt. And I’m once again unable to function. I realize that he has a need to speak out as well, but already more than half the people in our circle of the “fully-informed” are his friends and family. Seems that’s not good enough. Come to think of it, it seems like nothing I do is good enough these days. So, why bother?

This is the second day in a row now where I can barely drag myself out of bed. I don’t cry all that much, but I find it difficult to find the energy to move. Even getting a glass of water seems like a lot of effort. So, I’m going to bury myself in the only things I can think of to get me to stop thinking, even if just for a little while; reading books that chronicle other people’s experiences with depression, and knitting. Oh, and regularly applying Polysporin on my two-day-old self-inflicted wound.

March 09, 2011

The Pain of Denial

Ever remember hearing that if you didn't say something out loud, then it wouldn't be true? Like just the act of speaking words would suddenly make them real? It’s as though it would be better to deny those thoughts and to just pretend like everything was fine, because then it would be. Right? Wrong. And this applies to how people handle the issue of mental illness as well.

Now, I am not one of those people in denial of what I am dealing with (let's call them the Denialists, for fun)...I believe this blog makes that pretty clear, but for greater certainty, I'll repeat myself: "I am dealing with depression and BPD". There. And saying is doesn't make it any more or less real than it was before. What it does do, however, is provide valuable and sometimes lifesaving insight into a situation (e.g. why I am the way I am…it’s because of a disorder, and I’m not just “crazy”) as well as a road map for treatment (what I need to do if I want to change).

Unfortunately, dealing with these disorders (or any disorder, for that matter) become exponentially harder with Denialists in our lives. To be clear, by "Denialist", I do not mean people who do not fully understand or appreciate what a disorder actually means or does...that would not be fair. The people I am referring to have likely had someone in their lives that has been affected by a disorder, and they have had every available resource thrown at them (including the actual person with the disorder) in an effort to help educate them, yet they still refuse to even entertain the idea that maybe the person’s (insert disorder here) is real. In my case, several of my family members are Denialists, and I can tell you that every time they tell me that there is nothing wrong with me, it breaks me into a thousand pieces. See, if there is nothing wrong with me, then there is no chance for me to get better, and I might as well just give up now because I sure as heck can’t live like this.

If I were able to broadcast a message to Denialists out there, it would be this: If someone tells you that they are dealing with a disorder, especially if they have been professionally diagnosed, believe them. If they try to teach you about it, learn. And please, for goodness sake, don’t tell them there is nothing wrong. All it does is cause us to second guess everything we’re trying to do, when all we want is to find a way to hang on until we manage to get passed the pain.

March 08, 2011

Is this a joke?

Yesterday was supposed to be my second interview to take part in a dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) study for people with BPD. Unfortunately, that interview never took place. A few hours before I was scheduled to be at the hospital, I received the dreaded appointment cancellation call...the clinician who I was supposed to be meeting with called in sick, and we would have to delay my interview until...get this...March 22. I was crushed.

I know the world doesn't revolve around me (clearly) and that things like this happen all the time, but one of the characteristics of people with BPD is that we don't do well with changes in plans. We typically have such unstable emotions, and such an intense fear of being abandoned, that canceling on us (especially when it’s something we were counting on) is a really, really bad idea. In my mind, all I could think was " know I have BPD! You know I won't be able to deal with this! What the heck am I supposed to do in the meantime? Why won't you help me? Why won't ANYONE help me???" (That last thought of course was being fueled by my last 2 attempts at finding a psychotherapist...only to be disappointed and turned away because of my diagnosis.) So that's what was going on in my head...on the outside, however, all I could do was cry.

Thankfully, the deep dark cloud of depression I’ve been under for the past 5 months seems to have lifted somewhat in the past few days. It could be the Zoloft kicking in, it could be all the positive energy being sent my way, it could be the fact that I am finally sleeping a bit better (though still nowhere near normally) now that I am off Cipralex...but I think, in all likelihood, it’s a combination of all 3. Who could also have to do with the fact that I am sick and tired of being turned away by those I am looking to for professional help, and am somewhere deep inside of me finding the strength to say "You won't help me? Then forget you. I'm going to do it myself."

So, yesterday I did what I always do when I feel totally and utterly lost…I bought books that deal with the same issues I am dealing with, in hopes of finally finding some answers. My 2 newest additions, which will hopefully arrive in the mail later this week, are:
·         Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder – by Marsha Linehan
·         Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life: How Dialetical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control – by Scott Spradlin

This should give me plenty of “homework” for the upcoming weekend, and maybe, just maybe, some new tools to try out. I still think it's such a shame that we often seem to be left to our own devices to treat ourselves (which of course I interpret as being abandoned), but if that's what it is, then so be it. On with treatment.

March 06, 2011

Power in Numbers

For the first number of months after my depression really started to take hold, I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it. Part of that probably had to do with the idea that if I spoke about it, it would actually be true. But the other, more important part was a paralyzing fear of being judged, and ultimately rejected for being unable to control my negative thoughts (translation: I am weak. A stronger person would be able to talk themselves out of it). The thing is, by bottling up and trying (rather unsuccessfully at times) to pretend like everything was “fine”, I was letting myself get caught up in the stigma…the thing I am trying to fight against the most. So, I spoke out. First to one close friend, then to 3 or 4 more, and finally to family. You know what I found? I wasn’t being rejected at all! Rather, people were opening their arms to me, letting me know they cared, and sending me positive energy. Imagine that…

So, that got me thinking about what would happen if I started telling more people. Not a blanket free-for-all where every acquaintance or colleague knows what I’ve been dealing with, but rather a strategic, gradual expansion of my support circle. At first, that sounded terrifying. Ok, not only at first…my heart was racing and my stomach was in knots even as I started work on setting up a facebook group to invite more people into my world. But then, one day last week, the group was finally created, and my message had been sent. There was nothing I could do to take it back. (My first thoughts: Omg, what have I done? Everyone is going to read this, see how weak I am, and not want to have anything to do with me anymore.) But in the end, creating that group was the best thing I could have done.

People can surprise you…they surprise me all the time. The amount of support I have received so far in the few short days of the group's existence has been incredible. I believe there is something truly special about a group of people sending you positive energy with a common idea in mind. Believe it or not, I can actually, physically FEEL the energy and the love that is being sent my way…and it warms my heart…and calms my mind.

I think that might actually be the purpose (or at least one of many) of organized religion: to congregate and focus the group’s thoughts, beliefs and energies on a common idea. If it worked for religion for so many years, why not apply it to our own daily lives, using our own congregation as the source of energy?

Everyone should have someone, or several people, who tells them on a regular basis that these negative and hopeless feelings won’t last forever, and that they will, eventually, feel better…and to keep telling them this even when the depressed person refuses to listen. I am lucky enough to have that person here to tell me that every day. Still, growing my support circle (with much encouragement and support from my sane half) seems to have added momentum to this roller coaster ride…and for the first time in what feels like a very, very, VERY long time, I think I am starting to see a tiny speck of light at the end of this tunnel.

March 04, 2011

Seems a BPD diagnosis really is the kiss of death

As part of my ongoing quest to find a long-term therapist, I had my second "first appointment" with a new psychotherapist today. Walking in, I couldn't help but be just a little bit hopeful that this time, unlike the last time, I would find someone that understood what I was dealing with...and would actually be able to help me "get better". Unfortunately, that was not the case.

"First appointments" with doctors are much like first dates, where you spend the first half hour or so sizing each other up with questions about your past and present. Once we got through the initial line of questioning, however, and our friend BPD was finally brought into the conversation, the doctor backed right off.  It seems that BPD is an undesirable quality in a patient...and the one illness that he would not touch with a 10 foot pole. Seriously?? You would think that I had just told him that I was infected with a virus that would become airborne in the next 5 minutes, and that his only chance of survival was to make sure that I left his office as quickly as possible.

According to Dr. I-will-treat-everyone-but-you, BPD is the most difficult disorder for a psychotherapist to treat. His only parting advice as he ushered me out of his office was to go to the local mental health center (CAMH - the Center for Addiction and Mental Health) and to seek out treatment options using Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT for short). Wikipedia has a pretty good description of DBT at

Coincidentally, I'm actually in the process of being interviewed (a.k.a. auditioned) by the research department at CAMH to participate in a DBT study for people with BPD. So far so good. I've been called back for a second audition...I mean interview...which will take place next week. So, fingers are crossed that I get the part. I sure could use the help.

March 02, 2011

There should be a "Run for Depression"

Let me just start off by saying this: I am not a runner, but I do run. I am never near the front of the pack, and I always find it challenging...but I also always love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish, whether in an organized race or on my own.

This morning felt like spring. So, I managed to drag myself out of bed (which really wasn't that difficult, considering I had been up since 5:00 am, thanks to my mild insomnia) and hit the pavement for the first time this year. Although I was only out for 20 mins, I am proud of myself for at least managing to take those first steps, which every doctor and self-help book will emphasize as being a "key part of a patient's recovery" (or something along those lines).

Which brings me to this point: if getting outdoors and exercising is really that important for people with depression, and can actually help us in our fight against the disease, why aren't I aware of any races which are dedicated to that cause? Or even more broadly, to mental health in general? If there was one, I would be absolutely sure to run in it...every single year. And assuming there isn't, perhaps I should take that on as my new project: to organize a run geared towards raising awareness of mental health, and to raise funds for those organizations involved in that field. Perhaps with enough support, we could actually make that happen.