I Am the Ultimate Optimist

“A feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen.” This is how Merriam-Webster Online defines optimism.

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The other day, I said to my husband, “You know, I’m the most optimistic person you’ve ever known.” With a blank stare, he stood there, looking at me. I knew he was thinking, “On what planet are YOU considered optimistic?!”

“Think about it,” I said, “I never give up. I always keep trying to get better.”

He said, “I’d call that persistent, not optimistic.”

I sat for a moment, understanding where he was coming from…19 years of my depression and anxiety affecting our lives for the worse. I knew I had to explain:

“I am persistent because I know there is an outcome that is better than the past. I’m optimistic because, even though there are times I feel as though I’m broken, I stand myself up again and again, fighting for a better tomorrow. Why would I keep trying if I didn’t have HOPE for a better future?”

So, thank you anxiety and depression for teaching me how to be the ultimate optimist.

Pregnancy & MI: Tenacious Reclamation of My Life

My pregnancy has been a wonderful “tool” to add to my Wellness Toolbox. Being completely responsible for the physical and mental well-being of my child has helped soften many edges of the negative thinking that I suffer from due to my Negativity/Pessimism Schema. While it has certainly been no cure, I find myself falling back upon the most negative of my thinking, “I can’t do this anymore”, “Life is not worth the struggle”, “God, please let me not wake”, etc. less and less. I love my unborn child and want desperately to parent him to become an all-around healthy young man. If I am constantly considering that there are options to life other than living, I do not think I’ll manage my parenting goal. In this way, I am thankful that the reality of my pregnancy has helped refocus, in a healthier manner, the filter through which I interpret thoughts and feel emotions.

That being said (there is always a however, huh?)…

The past few weeks have been LOUSY.

“But Redheadcase, you just talked about how a major difficulty of your MI has grown a bit healthier. Are you grateful for nothing?!” a reader may ask.

That is just the thing…being healthier in any increment does not mean I am at the end of the journey to reclaim my life from MI. I will always be on the road to better mental health and must always remember that there are no quick-fixes or complete goal attainment. Being healthier, whether it be mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. is a lifestyle and not any single choice. Success is not found in a moment or a day, but all those individual moments, days, weeks, months, and years can absolutely add up to a well-adapted, content, and emotionally healthy life for all of us. We just have to accept that we will stumble and fall, make the choice to pick ourselves up when we can, and tenaciously seek help no matter how uncomfortable or hard it may feel. Piece all those battle wins together to claim the victory of the war. =)

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On a side note, I wanted to discuss how the past few weeks have been lousy. Just a few shared experiences and thoughts…

-I have always had much more difficulty with the fluctuation of my mood when I am physically drained and/or hungry. My husband can look at me, seeing me wilt like a flower out of water, saying, “We need to get you something to eat/need to get you some rest because your mood is dropping.” When I am fatigued from a lack of sleep or from running errands or when my blood sugar drops from not having eaten recently enough, I become much more susceptible to the depressions and anxieties of my MI. And I have found that with being pregnant, I wilt at a much more rapid pace, making it harder to catch my decline in time to prevent. I point this out because self-care is of the upmost importance, especially when you are suffering from an illness and ESPECIALLY when you are pregnant, dealing with hormones that fluctuate as they please no matter how carefully you care for yourself. Proper sleep, rest, and diet are essential to an MI-er’s well-being, and we must be willing to tell the people around us that we have to take the time to rest and/or eat. Putting ourselves first is a very good thing because when we are our healthiest for us, we can be at out healthiest for our loved ones. It is a “win-win” for everyone.

-I have really been struggling with feeling useless. (Yea, I am growing a life, yet I feel as though I contribute nothing to anything. 😉  Losing school this semester has really taken a toll on me, as I have discussed in previous posts. I had worked so hard to return to school and to have to stop (again) due to pregnancy-related illness, I find that I feel as though I am good-for-nothing (see how that Negativity/Pessimism Schema sneaks into any crevice of a person’s thinking to try to bring them down?). While I still volunteer at a local hospital, I feel I do little to contribute to my family or the world, in general. This is a thought, and resulting feeling, that I cannot seem to shake. I need a purpose to pursue outside of my home but cannot seem to find one. …Work in progress, right? =)

Well, that is all I have for the moment. I hope this finds everyone feeling well and a little less alone in a world that can feel really lonely. Take care.

AFSP

 

 

 

Out of the Darkness Walks

Walk to Save Lives

Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.

When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for AFSP’s vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED. YOU CAN HELP. JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

Suicide Prevention

 

 

 

 

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Get Help

You aren’t alone. No matter who you are or what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn’t the answer. We want to help you find hope.

I Love Who I Am Fighting For…Me and Those To Come

I must push through

no matter how misunderstood I may be.

I must carry onbitsofwisdom.org

in spite of what people think they see.

I must continue

because I know what I fight for.

Battles may feel lost

but I am worth the win, the war.

I am sick but not lost; I am ill but not different. I am just trying to find my new normal in a world that is difficult for us all.

Suicide Prevention

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.

AFSP

Understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy.

I’m Pretty Happy! No…For Realz!!!

For people who know me predominately through my presence on social media, I can understand how a person might think I live as MI/BPD 24/7. I absolutely admit that, depending on a person’s own experiences and interpretations, I could come off that way. However, I apparently need to share that, in fact, I do live outside of the influence of MI once in a blue moon. =)http://alxa.ru

I actually get to just be Redhead a lot of the time. I do not always have the weight of MI on my shoulders. I do not always feel MI’s pain. Sometimes, I actually get to be pretty happy and content…more or less. Heck…just think about what I was processing, very publically, this time last year. Yeah…I know, right?!

So, if you find yourself picturing me as a 24/7 unhappy, pained, living in the past kinda gal…you can let that go and picture a getting-back-to-a-level-place kinda gal. A work in progress…but I AM progressing, and I am SO happily thankful for that! Bahahaha!!!

And if you do not feel the need to adjust your interpretation of me, I am actually pretty ok with that, too…finally.

 

AFSP

 

 

 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:

  • Fund scientific research
  • Offer educational programs for professionals
  • Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
  • Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
  • Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

~http://www.afsp.org/about-afsp/mission-and-history

 

Suicide PreventionWhen you dial 1-800-273-TALK  (8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.

~http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

 

 

Let’s Get Through the Day Without Running Out of the Room Like a Wild Animal!

I sat in my Psych class tonight, expecting another boring, noninteractive PowerPoint presentation when the concept of Learned Helplessness popped up on the glowing projector screen before me. The example was of an experiment where a dog is contained in a room with a floor that is electrified and would emit a slight shock to the dog no matter how he reacted. Therefore, the dog learned that nothing he did…bark, jump, or run around… would change his circumstance. He learned to give up and lie down on the floor, accepting the shocks as they came. I thought to myself, “I am that freakin’ dog!”

I have read about Learned Helplessness many times, but I never really attributed it to me or the thought processes that underlay my MI. Firstly, who really ever believes that they are helpless, and secondly, accepting that you fit the Learned Helplessness criteria has a heap of shame and embarrassment attached to it. After all, if I learned to be helpless, I must be weak, right? And why can I not unlearn it?!

Once the realization that I did indeed suffer from Learned Helplessness sank in (presumably passed down in grand tradition from previous generations of people who did not have access to help, were too ill to seek help, or who simply cared more about their pride than their affect on www.funiacs.comtheir loved ones- Yeah. I’m salty!), anxiety told me to get the heck outta the classroom! (In anxious situations, I am much more or a flight kinda gal as opposed to a fight kind of gal.) Of course, that was not a rational thought, and I was able to tell myself that in a way that my brain accepted. But I did realize that once we begin covering chapters of coursework that hit closer to home…can you say “Personality” or “Psychological Disorders” boys and girls?…I might be in for a rush of anxiety that might just win the battle of rational vs. irrational thought. Luckily, I have previously spoken to my professor about my varied diagnoses, so when I explained to her after class that I was fearful about my reaction for the upcoming work, she smiled and told me to just let her know if I needed to skip any certain classes. That was a big, anxiety disarming relief.

I will be considering rational, calm ways to handle any discomfort and anxiety that may be ahead of me in the classes to come, building upon Distress Tolerance skills and having them ready for use in my “Let’s Get Through the Day Without Running Out of the Room Like a Wild Animal” arsenal!

I have a long journey ahead but am miles from where I was before.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK  (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime  24/7.

AFSPThe American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:

  • Fund scientific research
  • Offer educational programs for professionals
  • Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
  • Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
  • Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

Rolling Bookbags, the Pope, and Pie Make for a Hard Day with Good Lessons

Earlier on Facebook, I posted a few lessons that I learned today…

  • I can’t complain about insensitive posts about the Pope if I giggle at the older students and their rolling backpacks (I know…so silly of me).

-This, of course, goes much deeper than a simple, rolling backpack. I believe that laughter is one of the best medicines because it always makes you feel better to some measure. However, when that laughter comes at someone’s expense (even if your intentions are not mean), it just isn’t right to laugh. I have no idea if the other student would find my observation about her backpack funny or not, but it isn’t right of me to assume that she would. She may already feel out of place for being an older student and anxious about needing (assuming there is a need) a rolling backpack. It didn’t occur to me that while minor in offense, my thought could, nonetheless, be offensive and the easier it becomes for me to get a giggle at someone else’s expense, the easier it becomes to let the offensiveness grow in the future. Make sense?wholesalebackpack.com

I didn’t realize my wrong until I saw all the posts on FB that took advantage of the ailing health of an old man (Pope Benedict resigning his position due to ailing health) as an opportunity to make a joke. I was not mad about the jokes, but I did find them insensitive…then my light bulb went on over the rolling backpack. This is a lesson that I will have to work on for some time because, let’s face it…in our society, we can be so liberal in our allowance to laugh at others that it becomes intrinsic and we laugh before we really consider what we are laughing at its impact. Luckily, I am not usually a mean-hearted person, so while it will take time to break that intrinsic reaction, I don’t think it will take a terrible amount of work…just constant self-reminding that I can think better of, and for people.

  • I can expect others to be better if I am expecting, and working toward, the same expectation of myself. No one needs my issues any more than I need theirs. Double standard, Redhead! That is no good for anyone.

-Firstly, let me state for the world and God above…I AM NOT PERFECT, I HAVE NEVER FELT I WAS PERFECT, AND I KNOW I WILL NEVER BE PERFECT. Ok…now that that disclaimer is outta the way…I have made, and will make, a million and one mistakes (well, maybe a billion and one!) in my life. I cannot undo my past, and cannot control my future. However, I can actively seek professional help, information, and life skills that will make me a better person from one day to the next. Heck…that is why I have been in psychiatric hospitals, had more than a few psychiatrists, had more than a few therapists, taken over 35 different medications in 20 years, and lived for four months in D.C. away from my family. In the many years that I have been ill, having recognized that I CANNOT get better on my own, I have tenaciously sought professional help, information, and life skills that will make me a better person tomorrow compared to the person I am today. While the healing process has waxed and waned at times, I have never given up on bettering myself for myself and the people who love me. That being said…that gives me the right to expect the people around me to do the same…seek to be a better person from one day to the next. Of course, it is their choice to get any sort of help they may need but it is also my choice to acknowledge that while flawed, I am genuinely trying to get better, and I can, without guilt, step away from people who do not want the same for themselves if they are negatively affecting my life. And I admit, this is a double edged sword because others have the right to step away from me if I am dragging them down. My hope would be that anyone who I do this to will at least give me credit for the incredible effort I have put into, and will continue to put into getting better. Lord knows I can be a bummer when I am depressed (which is why I “disappear” from people’s lives in long periods of depression-trying not to slough off onto them that which is causing me so much difficulty), and I know that people have problems enough of their own and do not need mine. But I am authentically trying to get better, and I hope that earns me a few inches. =)

  • A piece of pie makes concepts 1-2 easier to swallow!

-Taking a “time-out” and having a piece of pie all by myself (well, actually it was a salad and sweet tea followed by coffee and pie!) does a girl a lot of good. Firstly, I HATE eating alone in a restaurant. In fact, I enjoy most things so much more when I can share the experience with a kindred spirit. Therefore, when I realized I had the desire and ability (anxiety not telling me that I should be embarrassed and uncomfortable to not have a companion) to sit down at good ol’ Bob Evans and enjoy a piece of Lemon Supreme Pie all by myself, I knew I needed to practice that “being alone and comfortable with it” skill, let alone take time out to reflect on a roller-coaster day. So…yes…there are times when food has a positive, self-medicating sort of role in one’s life…at least that is what I am going to tell myself. =)

So…that is it, I guess. I’m as flawed as they come, and I know it. But I am getting better due to a lot of hard work and reality checks. We can all be better tomorrow if we work on being so today.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime  24/7.

AFSP

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:

  • Fund scientific research
  • Offer educational programs for professionals
  • Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
  • Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
  • Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman…With BPD!!!

prince

Click Above Picture to Listen to Prince’s “Fury”

In 2006, Prince released an album that included a song called “Fury”. The lyrics included the words, “There ain’t no fury like a woman scorned.” (I know the common phrase I used in the title does not perfectly reflect in Prince’s phrasing, but I ask for some latitude. Thank you, my dears.) Anyhoo…he, and the original author to the more well known version of the referenced saying are right in that there is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned. However, what these two fine, lyrical minds failed to realize is that the fury of a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) makes the fires of hell quiver in our presence! LOL

BPD has many hallmarks and for me, one of my deepest, darkest hallmarks is the Emotional Deprivation Schema (schema: broad, pervasive themes regarding oneself and one’s relationship with others, developed during childhood and elaborated throughout one’s lifetime, and dysfunctional to a significant degree¹). I am “…exquisitely sensitive to rejection…” (could not have expressed that better myself! Exquisitely I tell you! LOL) I also “…live daily with extreme emotional pain…, low stress tolerance, fears of abandonment…”  and like many BPD-ers, I “…cannot work or do not function at levels that could be expected in light of (my) intellectual capacities.” That is a lot of perceived scorn, isn’t it?! As I explained to my therapist today, even on my good days where I feel the cloud of Mental Illness (MI) lift from my shoulders, I am always aware it follows me. MI is as much a part of my definition as being female or a redhead are.

BPD, and MI in general, scorn me every day. I cannot sit down with a cup of tea to give myself a five-minute “MI Free” break. I cannot decide that any one day will be a rumination-free day, nor can I vanquish thoughts of wanting to disappear forever into the ground like the snows of late Spring. I simply do not have that choice. (My husband recently told me that he didn’t want our lives to be defined by MI…which I understood what he meant…but as I was in a moment of exquisite suffering at that moment, I told him to go out into the world and not be black for a day and get back to me on how that goes. Obviously, he cannot not be black just as I cannot not be MI…at least at the moment.)

So, as I often ask when trying to bring some cohesion to my wandering blog posts…what is this all about?

This is about the fact that BPD/MI have had their way with me for far too long. They have beaten, bruised, and SCORNED me for 20 years longer than they ever had the right to. But right now and in the days ahead, the fury of this redhead is going to give BPD/MI a beating, bruising, and scorning that they have never had before. They will always be a part of my definition, but with hard work, continued focus, and a great therapist who not only supports me but calls me out on my crap when I try to get it past her, BPD/MI will not BE MY DEFINITION. They will learn to quiver in my presence.

¹Schema Therapy Institute

Suicide Prevention

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK  (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime  24/7.

AFSP

When You Fear Someone May Take Their Life

Most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions. The most effective way to prevent a friend or loved one from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors that put people at risk for suicide, take warning signs seriously and know how to respond.

Know the Facts

PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves are suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders, in particular:

  • Major depression (especially when combined with alcohol and/or drug abuse)
  • Bipolar depression
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence
  • Drug abuse and dependence
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

Depression and the other mental disorders that may lead to suicide are — in most cases — both recognizable and treatable. Remember, depression can be lethal.