05 November 2009

Outpatient Therapy, Day 6

I couldn’t resist this video. It actually had ME chuckling a bit! It’s well worth listening to for you group therapy gurus out there!.

Yesterday I was a little more active about filling information on the daily check-in sheet we use for “sharing” (gag). I was able to verbalize and demonstrate (what they are looking for according to my treatment plan) three skills I have been using to further my treatment.

You know how I mentioned that I can be out driving my car and all of a sudden I don’t where I am, how I got there or how to get home? (which only causes an anxiety attack to no end). Well, what I’ve come up is this plan: I Google the map from house to location (and also do a return map) and I keep that in my car. I study the map so I know what exits to pay attention to if I’m on the interstate. I have been using “mindfulness” (skill #1) by concentrating hard on where I am at all times, mentally checking off the exits. In addition, I will call the location ahead of time (even if it’s been a place where I have gone before) and ask for prominent landmarks that I can start looking for as I approach the location. I mark these landmarks on my map.

When it comes to more locally centered destinations, I can zoom in on Google and it will note landmarks (restaurants, gas stations, churches, etc). It’s still up to me to study them ahead of time so I don’t have to be looking at them while I’m driving. I’ve have even had to resort to do this when I plan to take a long walk around my neighborhood. The other night, when I just wanted to get fresh air, I Googled the diameter of the area usually a minimum of a two-mile stretch (residential, no populated landmarks) and made notes on the map with regard to street addresses to go with the street names and would place arrows to make sure I would know how to get home. In addition, I take my walks when it is very late at night—no traffic, no noise. You might wonder if I’m taking a risk doing this so late. All I can say, pity the fool who wants to fuck with me whether he has a gun or knife. Besides, you’ve heard the phrase, “suicide by cop,” well, couldn’t this be just as easily “suicide by rapist?”

The other immediate issue I have been working on is facing being around a large group of people. When our whole group therapy rejoins us for the second session (we always split into two smaller groups for the “sharing” session), I can’t handle the room that is now filled of people. All of the chairs are taken. I can’t sit next to someone, or even be in close proximity. My coping skill has been to “retreat” (skill #2) where I find a chair alongside the wall, as far as away from the table that is possible. Again, I use “mindfulness” when I start freaking out and the walls feeling like they are closing in around me. I simply close my eyes so I don’t have to see anyone and just zone on what the therapist says. Sometimes I have to use my “deep breathing” (skill 3) when I actually have to open my eyes and look at the white board, or have to participate in the discussion (my extent of participation is usually having to ask her to repeat what she just said because I don’t understand something, or my poor concentration is acting up).

So, I am using three skills so far that seem to be working to an extent. I’ve developed quite a lot of neighborhood maps, by the way. I’m not one to retrace my steps every night. Since I am still alive writing this, the severe suicide ideation I experience on an all too familiar basis, what I have been doing for that one is to get out of my house, because it seems that being all alone in my house has become a trigger, so I “retreat” and take a long, hard walk. The exertion helps dissipate the wrathful rage I am experiencing at the moment, so by the time come home I am usually spent and exhausted. I simply take my bedtime meds knowing that they will knock me out for about two hours tops. When I wake up, the suicide ideation is usually at bay, even when I go into the other room and put all my “instruments” back in their lockbox for no one to find. I’ve carefully labeled it quite prominently Bank Statements, so no one would even bother looking there if the cops ever had the probable cause to search my house.

I am missing a time block from the time I left group therapy this past Friday from about 1215 until I woke up @ 0135 (you know, when I eventually go back to work, there is no point in having to set an alarm!). However, what concerns me most about the dissociative states is wondering what I do when I am in that headspace. I have to ask the obvious question: what happens if I become suicidal during a dissociative state? Will I have the frame of mind to attempt to use my coping skills? I only have this as a vital concern because the last time I committed suicide I cannot remember almost nine hours (which of course could actually have been precipitated by the incredible amount of ETOH I consumed along with the benzos).©2009


  1. I'm so happy to here that you are making progress! I can relate to the dissociative part however I am fortunate that it doesn't last as long as it seems to for you and the only reason why it interferes with my life is because I "phase out" during conversations with people and then have no idea what they were talking about! Totally embarrassing but not life threatening. The only person who can tell when it's happening by looking at me is my boyfriend. He says it's not obvious to others. I like your system you have put together for dealing with it though. It sounds like things are improving!

  2. Thank you for your support, Blissseeker. While I feel that I make progress at one point, as you can see from the post above that I still swing back to my “I don’t give a damn” mode. The nights in my house all alone are the toughest for me, which is why my house itself has become a trigger—my house and all it stands for—because I am there all alone. I have had well-intentioned people from the church try to get in touch with me (all of which I’ve ignored), especially lately, but I don’t even want to open up that can of worms. I fear what to say if I were to ever return and am bombarded with the “Where have you been? We’ve missed you,” comments. Besides, I am still angry over the fact that my pastor (to whom I sent the infamous text message that said I was dunk as hell, had swallowed a bunch of pills and am doing a dry run on my suicide) not only called 911, but met the cops at my house to show them the text message. The first action I get: he felt a professional obligation to report a suspected suicide attempt. However, to actually come by my house and meet the cops to show them the text message? What was he trying to prove? I thought it was overkill. I can’t remember sending the text still; I’ll probably never recover those memories. So, the anger continues to rage (and just about this incident, but others as well), so perhaps I should look at this a one step ahead, and three steps backwards?

  3. Alix,
    Your Pastor got out of bed and came to your house that night because he cared for you and you asked for his help. He wanted to be sure you were safe and not in danger. Be angry if you must, but I'm sure he'd do the same again if he thought you needed his help as a friend ... which is the only thing he or any of the other people at church have ever done. They've tried to love you. For the last three years you've had a group of people who have wrapped their arms around you, accepted you, welcomed you warmly and supported you in many ways. Please don't forget that and don't throw something so valuable away or treat it with such disregard.
    Still praying. Still your friend.

  4. Alix,
    I understand that feeling you're describing. The one that makes you "stubborn" and keeps you from wanting to reach out. It makes you feel "silly" when you share in group or ask for help. I GET that. The last time I was in the hospital was my worst stay ever. I realize now, that I sort of made it that way by allowing that feeling to control my actions and emotions. I think you have come a long way from when I first began to follow you. A very long way. And YOU are responsible for that. From what I see, you are letting down that wall and ignoring the "stubborn" feeling. From my experience, that is one of the hardest parts. Keep on doing what you're doing! I strongly suggest that you start going places at night. Go to a mall (force yourself). Visit people at their houses. MAKE yourself get out. You need that interaction. Please try. I don't like the thought of you siting alone night after night. Keep me posted:)
    Your friend,

  5. Sharon, I hear what you are saying, but you have to understand what Borderline Personality Disorder is all about. My feelings are real, but I wrestle with confused and irrational thoughts as part of the behaviour. I wish more people understood BPD, and coupled with bipolar, it has made for an incongruent and twisted set of circumstances.

    Believe me when I say that I do not treat my experiences while attending church with disregard. I recognize that many people have demonstrated their caring concern for me in the past, but what if they knew the real me: who I really am and what I’ve done, in addition to trying to understand the effects of bipolar and borderline personality disorder and how each affects me, how could they relate to me? While I know prayer can be a powerful tool, sometimes I just need an ear to bend, or sometimes a shoulder to cry on, but only with someone that can truly comprehend the ramifications of what I did and what I am going through. I want to take off this façade, but as I told SM in an email to me just a few minutes ago (a very welcomed and much needed surprise), “If you really knew who I was, then you wouldn’t like me anymore.”

    I am trying to work through the anger about the 911 call and the visit to my house. I am trying to come to the place mentally where I can accept the intentions. Having no memories of the entire event has only fueled my rage. I am so far from being recovered. This is not something that a little magic pill can take away, but may take quite a lot of experimentation to get the combination of meds right over quite a long time, as well as a huge investment in psychotherapy. I have quite a long way to go. All I can say about today is that I bought myself another 24 hours. That’s as far into the future that I am willing to look.

    I have appreciated the fact that you have taken the time to read my blog and respond. This has been the only outlet where I can be myself.

  6. Alix,
    I know myself and at least two others have read your entire blog and seen the "real Alix" (However, we probably knew the "real Alix" before even reading your blog - you just didn't realize it.) - and we still consider ourselves your friend. Here's a quote for you --- "A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked." -- Bernard Meltzer.
    Don't lessen the value of a friend just because they haven't walked in your shoes ... appreciate their willingness to walk beside you.
    Still praying. Still here. Still your friend.

    P.S. Thanks for the info.

  7. This helped me when I heard it, maybe it will help you a little too?

    "resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die"
    -Carrie Fisher

    Don't suffer, "radically accept" :) xoxo

  8. Sharon, until I talked to AB a little while ago, I did not realize that there were those that read my blog. Not that it bothers me; I consider it public domain. I knew that there were many folks that were aware I had a blog. That does not stop me from what I have to say. Some might be offended by what I write, but that is their issue, not mine. My blog has been the only free space where I can say what is on my mind without censorship. In addition, I have received much support from others who understand what I am going through (either from posting a comment or by emailing me directly at my blog’s email address). The support I receive are from those who DO walk in my shoes—all of whom are at various stages of BP and BPD. On the other hand, I have always welcomed those with opposing views that makes for great open dialogue, although these discourses are usually handled via email.

    I agree with you that I cannot lessen a friend just because he or she has “not walked in my shoes.” However, how can someone be a true friend if he or she does not really know the real me? Yes, there were times when I did let my guard down on superficial things (usually work-related), but I have never had an open conversation about the real issues that I am struggling with (being a lesbian, having BP and BPD, and the odd mix that makes combining all three while trying to reconcile being a Christian just more painful).

    I do not expect everyone to have an exhaustive knowledge of what BP and BPD are—but understanding their impact on me and the resulting behaviour would be nice if that was understood. I do not want to be hugged or touched; I do not want to sit close by anyone; I do not want to have to talk with anyone (that is to say if I am to remove my evidently not so well entrenched mask). How on earth do you get that across to someone if they don’t know all of me and why I behave the way I do without encroaching on my needs? How will people react if, during a service, I have to retreat and leave the building if it gets too overwhelming for me, even if I am gone for only a few minutes? How will people react to me if I withdraw if someone tries to hug me? How will people react when I choose not to have a conversation with them? But most importantly to me, how do I handle the questions of “How am I? and “Where have I been?” if I am to truly take off this mask? I’m tired of pretending, but as I said to SM and AB, “If you really knew who I was, then you wouldn’t like me anymore.” Yes, that is MY perception. Is it reality? I do not know. I do not know what is real any more. I do not trust myself anymore.

    I realize it is a conundrum. I complain that no one will reach out to me; yet at the same time, I push everyone away. One of the issues I struggle with is trying to determine the differences of what I perceive and reality. I know my feelings are real, but I am trying very hard to not make sweeping value judgments of how I will be perceived. Right now, in my own little world, everything is binary (black or white, on or off) with no middle ground.

    I do want acceptance, but for who I really am, not for what people think they know about me. I am trying to learn that I cannot control anyone’s perceptions of me, but I have to have the freedom to be who I am without apology to anyone.

  9. Well said Alix:) Borderline people are a walking contradiction. We do not make friends easily because it's hard to be close after so much rejection.