The Unsettling Feeling of Calm

I wanted to share this because I’m curious to know if anyone else has experienced this. Or if it’s just me and I’m losing it. 

Today on my way to an appointment, I was on the bus and it was about halfway through my trip when I realized that I felt calm. It hit me quite suddenly as I was just looking out the window and thinking. Was I…calm? Was my body…calm? Wait a second, was calm? Really? Are you sure? Me? Calm? That can’t be right. Okay, what’s going on? 

So I scanned my body to look for anything that might be there, a flutter, some tension, anything to tell me that my body was in a state that wasn’t even close to calm. And as I reached my toes and still had not found anything, it started to sink in that I wasn’t really feeling anything at that moment. Say what? I wasn’t feeling anything? 

I thought maybe I was numb then. That made sense. I wasn’t feeling anything in my body because I was numb. But the body scan told me it wasn’t numbness because even when I’m numb I physically feel a certain way. There are still physical sensations that tell me I’m feeling numb. And this time there was nothing. Just…nothing. No anxiety. No tension. Nothing. My breathing was normal and my body was calm. 

What the crap was this?

I scanned my body again, looking for the slightest twinge or tension, thinking I needed to double-check this out because I couldn’t be just calm, could I? And again the scan told me there was nothing. My body was not in a state of anything. Was this what riding the bus with no anxiety looked like? Was this what an anxiety-less body felt like? Was this simply riding the bus? Was this what just taking a bus looks like? Was this what just taking a bus feels like? 

Well I don’t like it. 

Now don’t get me wrong, when I say I was calm I don’t mean that my mind was blank or quiet because it was neither. I don’t mean that by being calm I was not having a swarm of thoughts going through my mind because I did. In fact I was thinking about my life and my emotions when I realized how calm I was. I was not really relaxed, meditative, or even happy because I wasn’t. It was just…calm. 

For whatever reason, I was not tense or anxious or feeling like I would pass out or freak out. I was not worried that I might die or anything. The absence of the chaos I usually carry within me was very unsettling. It wasn’t long before I wondered if I should be freaking out. I mean this was not my usual feeling. This was not my usual state. This was not the way I normally take a bus. This was new, and weird, but suprisingly even when I thought of freaking out my body just stayed calm. For a moment I was unable to even stir myself into feeling anxious. I have no idea how. And I have no idea why. I just was. So this was calm? This was just sitting with myself? This was just being?

Interesting. 

I actually managed to stay calm for the next hour or so, and frankly I’m just stunned. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know why it happened. I have no idea how I managed to stay calm in my body as my mind pondered life’s questions. But there it was. Me. Calm. 

Alrighty then. Good to know. 

I’ve decided not to analyze this to death because I have a feeling it will never be explained. I have a feeling that it actually doesn’t  matter why it happened. So I am going to accept it for what it was, a feeling of calm while going to an appointment. 

I’d like to say that I was able to stay there, in the calmness, but unfortunately my anxiety about not having anxiety managed to build my anxiety level, and within a couple of hours I was back up to a 7 or 8 on the anxiety level scale, and also had a slight panic attack on my way home from the appointment. 

On the plus side, I was super pleased that I had at least caught a glimpse of what a zero on the anxiety level looks like. It’s nice to know that it can happen, that it is possible, and that I can get there. I’d like to know why or how it had happened so I could harness it for the future but I know that is probably not possible. Some things can’t be harnessed like that. At least, not yet. 

As unsettling as it was to just be calm and not have anxiety and all the baggage that goes with me wherever I go, I’m really glad it happened because maybe it will happen again. And maybe it might even last longer. Or maybe I’ll never see it again. Who knows.  But at least knowing it’s possible is good. 

Has anyone else experienced this? I really hope it’s not just me. 

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*TW* Like Ripping Off a Bandage

I just want start this off with a disclaimer here because I am well aware that how BPD manifests for any borderliner could be very different than how it manifests for me. As a rule Borderliners tend to be very high functioning for day-to-day activities however we aren’t always able to maintain that functionality for extended periods of time. It’s our personal lives behind closed doors that are a chaotic mess. And it is only a matter of time before one spills into the other and we are not so functioning anymore. This might not be how another person struggles with BPD, is this is how I struggle with BPD.

For me, I sometimes have to work to get to functioning. It’s not easy, and it can take me weeks or months to finally get to a baseline of just doing the best that I can. Which is a minimal level.

This usually involves a lot of meds having to be administered in order to get myself functioning. If I’m lucky it will involve therapy of some kind at the same time as taking the meds but until recently it was either one or the other. There was no balance. There was no equilibrium. I either could take the meds and just do my best not to fall backwards. There was no support, not the way I needed it. Or I had the support and the meds weren’t really doing it for me.

Doing the meds cocktail, for anyone struggling with mental health issues, or mental health disorders, knows that it can be an exhausting, tiring, and frustrating journey. And it is a journey. It can take months and years; dozens of medicines and dosages, mixing anti-psychotic with anti-depressant, uppers with downers, meds to get you to sleep, meds to keep you asleep, meds to allow you to think, meds that stop you from thinking. Finally finding the mix that works is daunting. It took me three decades and finally a diagnosis of BPD to get the mix that is currently working for me. Although because I’m still struggling, I am still developing the right mix for me. It’s a work in progress.

So I have to choose therapy or meds, if I’m lucky, I’ll get at least one. And it will help me. Because I usually end up back at the bottom of life, I also feel abandoned, rejected, alone, and angry.

Except the anger would be directed at myself. I was a failure for not being able to magically fix myself when I was broken. I was to blame for not having the support I needed. I was to blame that the drugs didn’t work. I was to blame that therapy didn’t work. I was to blame for everything in my life going so wrong that I would end up feeling suicidal. And suicidal was where I stayed until I either tried, or I was able to find my way out.

Having BPD is tough. Every day feels like a battle. Every interaction feels like a wound that starts out bandaged but within moments can be ripped off by either telling me I’m too sensitive, that I need to get over it, that I am being difficult, that I am causing trouble by not letting anything go, that I am making matters worse for myself, or if I feel abandoned or rejected, and just that fast the bandage would be ripped off and my wounds would be exposed, and I would be open to pain and hurt and suffering. Again.

I want to be able to keep the bandage on long enough so that I can heal. I want to be healed enough that it won’t feel like I’m exposed and vulnerable. I want to feel like I can take what someone says or does to me that doesn’t send me spiralling out of control into bad and dark places.

I am fighting to keep my bandage on right now because I’m terrified of having my wounds exposed.

Dear life, please give me time to heal.

*TW* Trying to Return to DBT

So the last several weeks have been hard for me. Last couple of months? Hmm. So more time has passed than I previously thought. I don’t really know if it’s my BPD, depression, or anxiety…actually that’s not true, I do know, it’s all of it. The whole mess of chaos and confusion that lives in my head and in my body, pinning me to the floor, or pushing me into a dark hole. One just egging the other on until I am a puddle on the floor.

The good news is, during this time I have been continuing to attend all of my weekly DBT Groups, and all of my weekly DBT Individual appointments. So I have a wealth of DBT information on backlog. I’ve wanted to start posting those again but I just didn’t have it in me. I thought I could squeeze them in but it didn’t work out that way.

Despite the backlog of posting any DBT skills, there were a few days the DBT stuff helped me with my stress, anxiety, and distress. Some days, I admit, DBT didn’t even enter my brain let alone my practice. And there were a few days I did think of it and it didn’t do squat. But there have been a few moments when it did help, a lot, and I think a lot of it can help others too. Especially the Distress Tolerance, which is unfortunately the most recent module taught, so it will be the last ones to be posted.

Either way, if it can help me, then it has a chance to help others too.

My goal is to now get back on track with posting the DBT stuff again, and in the midst of that, I am going to still try and climb my way back to my normal. “My normal”, for those of you wondering, is a place where I don’t wake up every day wanting to sink into a deep, dark place and be left completely alone. *TW* Maybe or maybe not, considering if I’ll wait for death, or if I’ll walk right towards it. And where every day feels like moving through tar, in body and mind.

I hope to get back on track within the next few days. Wish me luck 🙂

If Wishes Came True

When I was a little girl I used to pretend that I was an actress. I gave myself a stage name and I even had an imaginary manager, and secretary. I drew posters for my movies, and I even released some albums as a singer. And I would draw the album covers too. I would play for hours by myself as an actress slash singer in my room until it was time for bed. I didn’t even like stopping for dinner, or anything else. It was all about me and all the great things I could do. I would have loved to continue playing after it was time for bed but at the time I had to share a room with my brother and he really crimped my style.

But during the day, when my brother would go out, and my mom would be busy or sleeping, I spent hours, days, weeks, and months just playing my imaginary role. Sometimes I would bring in other imaginary people to play secondary roles, like friends, or boyfriends. It was very elaborate. Everyone had a role and a background. Not that I knew what to do with a boyfriend at that age. I imagined that basically he was just the guy there, and that eventually we would end up married and have kids. He played a really small role. Mostly I just had lots of friends, and lots of admirers, and lots of fans. In my imaginary world, everyone loved me. And everyone wanted to be friends with me.

I believed that I was special. I believed that there was just something about me that everyone liked, and people would gravitate towards me, and they would all want to be in my life. I was like this shining force that people loved. I was the person they turned to when they needed a friend, and I was a great friend. I was the one they would always want to call. I was the one they all wanted to spend time with. My time was so valuable to everyone that it was like being mobbed by fans to find time for all my imaginary friends.

It was a great feeling, to be loved, and admired. I felt like I was this great, special person. I was this important person to all these other people. I was one person they thought of often. whatever party, or event, birthday, or celebration, it didn’t matter, my “friends” always made sure to invite me. It wasn’t a party without me. My imaginary friends would be heartbroken when I had to say no to their invitations. They would beg and plead for me to be there. Me being there was what would make it great. And that feeling, it was so nice. I never wanted that feeling to end.

But then, one day, it did. Because I grew up. We moved, and I got my own room, which was great for helping to build the imaginary world, but slowly my imaginary world started to change. Real life filtered in a lot and it was getting harder and harder to maintain my magnificent world.

And then one day I stopped believing that I was special.

I don’t remember what happened, or the moment it changed, but around the age of 13 or 14 my world turned from sparkly to dark. It went from full of friends to no one. I went from being the important one, to being the forgotten one. It went from everyone likes me, to people not seeing me at all. Not only did I not see myself as special anymore, but now I was starting to believe I was never special in the first place at all, and that I wasn’t worthy of living.

I wish I could pinpoint where it crashed. Or why. Maybe then I could re-trace my way back to feeling special. Maybe then I could have some friends back. Maybe then I would be seen and I would be important, to someone. But I have a sinking feeling that path is long gone, never to be found again. I miss the days when I felt special, and that everyone liked me, and everyone wanted to be my friend.

Now I believe the total opposite of every person I know. Whether they are already in my life or not. That no one likes me. No one thinks of me as important. I am not special. Sometimes I feel like a fool for ever having believed it in the first place. I am not special.

I wish I was though.

The Demon’s Retreat

Nighttime is the hardest for me. Particularly when I am having a hard time falling asleep. My mind seems to go a million miles a minute and no matter how hard I try I can’t get it to quiet down enough to fall asleep. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to fall asleep, whether I go to bed an hour before falling asleep, or four hours before I fall asleep, the thoughts bombard me regardless.

It feels a lot like an assault of the mind. The thoughts and emotions are mean, nasty, and hurtful as they overwhelm my mind and leave me just staring at the ceiling of my room, praying that I am given a reprieve in which I can finally fall asleep. I think of each of the thoughts and emotions as demons because that’s how they look and act to me. They are evil and relentless in their pursuit to torture me. They will stop at nothing to have me believing every bad and negative thing they tell me.

As I lay there I think of everything I should do, of everything I shouldn’t do, of everything I have done, and did wrong, of everything I haven’t done, of everything I want to do and don’t, of everything I have said or done and failed at. The demons come at me with a ferocity that leaves me hurt and crying. They tell me that I am unworthy and unlovable. That I am stupid and incapable. That I am helpless and useless. And that I am hopeless and a total failure. They tell me that no one likes me, and no one will ever like me. They tell me that I will always be alone. They tell me that I will never accomplish anything, and I may as well give up trying. They tell me that I deserve to be unhappy because that’s all I’m worthy of. They will run through my mind with flashy words and images that prove how unlovable and unworthy I am.

They show me all the negative things I have done and said and thought, all the mistakes I’ve made, all the times I didn’t do something for someone else, all the times I said no when I could have said yes, all the times I could have been there and I wasn’t, all the times I lied and did what I wanted, all the times I manipulated people to get what I want, all the people that I’ve hurt, and all the damage that I have caused. They show me each and every time I fell short as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, and as a person, and how it should be plainly obvious that I deserve nothing but heartache.

In the darkness, alone with my demons, they tell me that I will never realize my dreams because dreams are reserved for the good people, and I am terrible so I am not eligible. And no matter how much it hurts, and how much I see the lies of the demons in the light of day, I can’t help that at night I believe every word they say.

As nighttime turns to daylight the demons retreat to the back of my mind until they can emerge again and torture me until my chest aches and the tears fall. I think that the demons hide during daytime because the light takes away all their shadows and shows all their lies. In daylight I can believe that I am worthy, and I am not a total failure. It usually takes someone telling me that but I am much closer to believing it than I do at night.

I love and hate what the night can bring. I love that I can hide in the shadows I create and I can cocoon myself into a space where no one can reach me and hurt me but it’s a double-edged sword because the demons always know how to find their way in. They can squeak through the tiniest cracks and then the small space I thought I could feel safe in is now filled with my scariest demons. It leaves no room for anything else, and I just have to wait for daylight and the demon’s retreat.

Everyday People

When I have to go outside it takes me some time and effort to make my way out. Some days are easy, where I don’t have to prepare myself. I don’t have to work up to anything. I can pretty much just go. And some days are hard, where I need a lot of time to work through the anxiety. When I need to somehow ease the anxious feeling in my stomach and chest. I need to ease my urge to hide and avoid, and often either slow down or soothe a panic attack. Those are the days I may not make it out but I still try because sometimes the tips work.

When I am outside the anxious feeling doesn’t really go away. It stays in varying degrees of intensity from when I leave my home and it doesn’t ease until I’m back home, and even then it doesn’t totally disappear. The time that I am out I am hyper-aware of my surroundings and how long things are taking. I am aware of the people around me and I am aware of the length of time I will be in any given place because I am almost counting the minutes until I can finally go home again.

I have to be very careful about this state though because if it gets pushed too far, and the anxiety overwhelms me, it can push me into a numb, dissociative state. Where I am on automatic pilot and I am sort of aware of my surroundings but it’s a blur and most of the time I can’t recall where I was or how I got there.

When I’m on the bus I watch the people around me. In part I do it to be aware of who is where, what they are doing, and are they posing any threat to me in any way? But sometimes I find myself almost mesmerized by them. I’m mesmerized by their mundane ways of sitting or standing on the bus. I watch them play on their phones, or read a book, or talk to someone they are travelling with, or just staring out the window, and I find myself feeling envious of them.

These people, just normal people, they get on the bus and choose their place to sit or stand and they settle in for their ride. Without a second thought they are just taking the bus and doing whatever they need to do to pass the time on the ride. And they look normal. They look calm. They look bored. They look complacent. And I envy that.

I envy that these people can just walk onto a bus without sizing up the world they’re entering. I envy that they sit down or stand like they own the place and they aren’t thinking of anyone or anything around them let alone if they’re wondering if something is a threat. They aren’t surveying the scene from moment-to-moment. They don’t look like they’re counting anything at all. They look and act so normal. And then I briefly think of how many thoughts I have had in the short time I’ve been on this bus and how many worries and fears I’ve had and I feel jealous that they sit there like normal, everyday people.

I’ve wondered if anyone has looked at me and thought of me as weird, or thought of me as unworthy to take up space on the bus, or any other kind of thought. I’ve wondered if they are judging me or making assumptions about me. Are they thinking I don’t belong here? Are they thinking I shouldn’t be here? Are they thinking I’m a fraud? Are they thinking I look like a bitch? Are they thinking that they hate me?

It makes me feel like a freak. It makes me feel like I’m a nutcase. And it makes me feel alone.

These people go about their day, seemingly without a care, and they work, and live, and function. They go out. They do things. They talk to people. They interact. And I think of my own day that has been filled with anxiety, panic attacks, fear, worry, and shame, and all that races through my mind from the moment I step outside my door to when I step back inside my door and I can’t help but wonder, “how do they do it?”

How do these people leave their homes so easily? How do these people just walk to their bus stops and subway stations like it’s nothing? How do they get on the transit and they’re only concern is if a seat is available and making sure they catch their stop? How do they manage to just take the bus? How do they manage to be around other people as if it’s nothing? How do they sit there and wait for their stop like it’s no big deal? How do they not worry, and wonder if this will be okay? How do they not worry what others are thinking? How do they not care? How do they not feel anxious if they will be okay? How do they not work to hold themselves up enough so that they don’t pass out? How are they able to sit there so complacent and not have a panic attack? How?

My excursions are plagued by any number of worries, thoughts, anxieties, and emotions, and sometimes it’s bad enough that I can’t even leave the house. But these everyday people, they seem to have none of that. They live and function normally. But how? How are they able to function without a thought? How do they function without anxiety? How do they get up and go about their day without worrying about everything?

I wish I could be an everyday person. I wish I could just go about my day and that’s it.

*TW* Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings are overwhelming and frustrating and it’s only made further confusing and frustrating by not necessarily actually wanting to die. At least not right now.

When the idea of wanting to die starts to float through my mind, I sort of let it drift in and out, testing the waters to see how serious I am about it, and if it will stick around or was it just a passing thought. Most of the time it just goes away on its own and nothing else happens.

But sometimes it doesn’t go away. Sometimes it sticks around and becomes more than just a floating thought, it becomes an idea, which is one step away from planning, and that is one small step from attempting. It starts to grow inside my mind and slowly I start to notice and consider all the passive ways that I could die, all of the ways that I wouldn’t be responsible for my life ending so I wouldn’t have to worry about how to do it, and I wouldn’t have to worry about hurting anyone left behind. I wouldn’t have to worry beforehand about people wondering what happened and why I did what I did, nor would any of my family or friends. It would be taken care of by fate and no one would be the wiser that it was what I wanted to happen all along. Of course this passive plan has its faults because there’s also a very good chance it might not happen, and if I’m feeling really low and looking for an out this can be kind of an inconvenience because I want things to end but I’m not yet willing to be the cause of it. In this case any attempts at dying would have to be by my hand so there are pluses and minuses to the passive route.

When I start to imagine the passive ways that my life could end, I know that this is a crossroads for me; I’ll either go down the one road to a much darker place where the passive route of death moves from a wish to a want and then it gets even darker and I actually move into planning or attempting, the other road I decide it’s not really what I want and look for help and ways to come out of the dark place.

Leaving the decision to fate always starts out so tempting, like when I’m standing on the sidewalk at the bus stop wondering if I tripped and fell into the street, would I be hit by a bus and killed? Or if someone knocked me into the street into the path of any oncoming vehicle, would I be killed? What if there was any kind of accident and I was killed? The ideas and fantasies, if you will, become quite fantastical. And in my defense, none of them are totally out of the realm of happening because weird things and accidents happen every day in every country in the world, and whose to say one of them won’t happen to me.

I also consider at this time the even more passive ways my life could end, like if I don’t take care of myself maybe nature will decide for me. I could have a heart attack, or a stroke, or I could get sick. This way however could potentially take months, or even years to happen, if they happen at all, so this route, though it’s relatively easy, is not the most effective way of them all.

What if I stop eating and moving, will my heart give out? What if I find something toxic and it “accidentally” gets ingested? What if I self-harm, will I strike the wrong spot and die? The ways to be killed and die are endless, and it’s amazing at what I start to imagine and hope for that will cause my life to end, yet will be little to no work on my part. It’s skewed thinking I know, but it’s hard not to entertain the thoughts when it feels like it’s the only way out.

I do have to question how much of these thoughts, particularly when they remain as thoughts and don’t move into planning or attempting, is about control. When I feel a lack of control about life in general, and my emotions and thoughts are all over the place, one way to take back that control is to know I have the authority to say when it all ends, even if it means taking my own life. It’s extreme but it gives me some sense that I have a say in what’s happening. When everything else feels like it is being done to me, and I am just stuck on the roller coaster forced to endure the constant ups and downs that wrench me from state to state, taking the reins on whether I live or not feels like I finally have a say. Suddenly the roller coaster ride, though still hard and frustrating, becomes a little less violent and overwhelming, knowing I can just stand up and jump out of my seat and end the ride permanently.

There are times when I wonder if my solitude is a means for me to slowly extract myself from other people’s lives so if something were to happen to me, and I were to die, whether by accident, nature or by my hand, it will hurt less. For them and for me. I can convince myself that because I haven’t talked to people in a while it will be easier to leave them, and I can believe that they feel the same. I can push people away, or keep them at arm’s length because it will be easier to leave if I have no one close to me. And I can tell myself that no one cares because they aren’t around. So I may as well be gone.

All of the things I would distance myself from; friends, family, work, interests, hobbies, and dreams, and then I will have nothing left to stay for. I can leave without feeling anything because everything I cared about is either gone or taken away. I would convince myself of all of this in order to make it easier.

It’s in this state of mind that the passive ways to die aren’t good enough or fast enough for me, and I actually start looking and considering how I want to end it. This is when I am in the darkest of places and this time it might be the last.

The uncertainty of life terrifies me enough that it paralyzes me. And the farther I am from all that I care about and love, the easier it becomes to end it for good. My reasons for living will be gone and there will be nothing to hold me here. Why would I stay here if no one is looking for me? Why would I stay if no one is seeing me? Why would I stay if no one is paying attention to me? Why would I stay if everyone else has better things to do? Why would I stay if my dreams are dead? Why would I stay if I have no interests or purpose? Why would I stay if I am alone?

I am not yet sure what will happen.