Like a mime in a box

Most of the week I have felt trapped. Not like trapped at home, but like stuck in the outside world without escape. Coming home each night feels like freedom. Leaving in the morning is near terrifying. At work I feel the walls closing in and I begin to panic as I worry if I still have my escape route, if I can actually get out if I go into full panic mode. 

I was trying to explain this to my husband and the best I could describe is that I’m like a mime in a box. I’m trapped and the box is so close around me. You can’t see the box though, in fact the box doesn’t even exsist outside of my own mind. But you can see my fear and my stress. While I work so hard to hide my panic, some bits creep out and are visible, which makes the fear all the more real and intense. 

I hope to be the mime leaning on the table and eating grapes soon, but for now I will hide in the safety of my home as much as possible until the walls of the outside world stop closing in.

My chicken and egg conundrum 

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, I’m going with egg cause DNA mutations happen during cell division, right? But that’s beside the point, cause I don’t think I’m supposed to answer an unanswerable question. 

Oh, but answer to another “unanswerable” question… if the glass was less than the half way point and filled to the half way point then it is half full. If it was above the half way point and emptied to the half way point then it is half empty. Guess I’m not negative or positive, sorry.

The one question I truly cannot come up with an answer to: If Pinocchio said “my nose is about to grow” what would happen?

Wait, how did I get on this topic? I blame the cold medicine (I’m sick by the way). So back to the whole don’t answer chicken and egg stuff… what came first, my mental illness or my symtpoms? 

This is something I have struggled with for 15 years now. Do I truly have this disorder? Or did I unconsciously decide I did and therefore create my own symptoms? My recent post about misconceptions of BPD spoke to a statement that “we’re all a little borderline” (we’re not FYI). And Rainicorn posted a comment that the same is said of Bipolar Disorder. This reminded me of a coworker who said he gets frustrated when people claim to be OCD simply because they like something to be clean. So I struggle sometimes to even claim to have a diagnosis because what if I’m wrong? What if I am taking away from someone else’s struggle by claiming something untrue?

I’m like 99% sure of my BPD. Reason being, I read a definition in a book about 10 years before being diagnosed when I had never even heard of it before. And the second I read it I sat there in shock because it perfectly described me. I didn’t hear it and then gain the symptoms, I saw the symptoms suddenly defined by something I knew nothing about.

My ability to believe I have Bipolar Disorder is about 75% on average. My BPD overshadows any Bipolar symptoms, so I denied it for a long time despite the “official” diagnosis I had. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I started to respond well to a new med that I realized when a medication lowers my Borderline symptoms, I become completely manic or depressive for a significant period of time. So I have the symptoms, I meet the checklist (I won’t go through the whole diagnosis checklist, it’s easy to look up), it just seems to be overshadowed rather than misdiagnosed. I think. Again, 75%

OCD I’m at a 67% certainty. This is where my chicken/egg/Pinocchio question really comes into play. Did I think I was OCD and then get symptoms? Or did I get symptoms and then get diagnosed? This is something where I have seen the symptoms increase over time, and I honestly don’t know if that is normal or not. I can physically feel something that is considered “off” to me, and I have to compulsively fix it. But I wonder if it isn’t just a symptom of trying to control my other disorders. If perhaps I have subconsciously made it worse over time. 

Agoraphobia is like that too. And this is one I truly hate to say because it’s not severe for me. And I wonder quite frequently if it truly is there and I’m high functioning, or if I’m stupidly going by the “we’re all a little…” argument that I hate. The definition for agoraphobia is “Fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment.” I match that, I really do. And I try to remind myself of that, not because I want it but because I want to not lie about it. In general I don’t go new places without my husband. I only go to stores I’m already familiar with. I claim food poisoning or flu to get out of wedding receptions because they give me panic attacks. I haven’t been to a concert since I was 15 (I first developed the symptoms at 18) and will never go to one again if I can help it. I have multiple hiding places at work if I start to feel panicky or overwhelmed. I have days that I won’t leave my room, though they have become less frequent lately. But are these truly symptoms of agoraphobia? Or are they random aspects of my other disorders? I honestly don’t know.

I don’t even know why I’m going into all this. Maybe “talking” it out will clear it up a bit. Maybe you all can provide insight about my chicken and egg dilemma. Maybe I just need to go to sleep cause the cold medicine made me a bit weird. 

This chickens expression totally just made my day by the way.

Habits in good times and bad

Engrossed myself in my computer so no one would question it when I didn’t speak. Waited for everyone else to leave so I wouldn’t need to chat with them as we left together. Walked around the outside of the building, through basically the entire parking lot just so I wouldn’t walk past people I knew would say hi as I passed their desk.

Sometimes even when you feel better, you don’t. The panic, the struggles, the monster whispering lies, they are all still there. They are quieter, less noticeable, less exhausting. But they are still there. But the way I see it, if my habits from rough times bleed through to easier times, then shouldn’t it also work the other way? If I will go out of my way to not talk to people during mild panic because it’s habit from times of strong panic, then I should be able to go out of my way to drink herbal tea and knit out of self care during strong panic because it’s habit from times of mild panic?

I will continue to build better habits, and to focus on increasing those rather than decreasing others. After all, who ever said I can’t occasionally put a great deal of effort into avoiding conversations?

In hiding mode

I basically hit my breaking point over the last week and today couldn’t get myself out of bed. I’ve been hiding in my room all day with occasional trips out to the fridge and restroom. I have not left the house. This is the first day in over a month I haven’t been filled with anxiety and convinced of my complete failure of life. Today is comfortable. I fear to leave this place of comfort, to enter the world again. But I have to. So tomorrow I reenter the world. We’ll see how it goes. 

BPD – what I have, not who I am

One of the biggest pitfalls I stumble into is saying “I am Borderline” instead of “I have Borderline”. That may sound basically the same, but I assure you it is not.

Borderline is like a monster in your head that makes everything in life more intense. It follows you, it fights your every emotion, choice, and action. It haunts your every waking moment and then takes control when you’re asleep. 

When I struggle the most I believe that I am that monster. I am not human, I am not worth this life, this existence. I am a monster that I can no longer protect the world from as it takes control of me. Many of my therapy sessions are along these lines. I can’t count the number of times I’ve yelled or cried out “I’m not human” to my therapist. But I am. I am human, I am not my monster.

Saying “I am Bordeline” is the same as saying “I am my monster”. It is admitting defeat and allowing myself to be classified by my disorder. And that is not okay. That is a lie that my monster tells me, and I need to not fall for it anymore.

This thought process can hold true for any mental illness. It is a trap many of us fall into. “I am depressed” is wrong, because you are more than that. Say instead “I have depression”. “I am Bipolar” is not okay, the truth is “I have Bipolar disorder”. I am not my disorders. I am human. 

I encourage you to take a stand against your classification, against your monster. You are not your disorder, it is simply a disorder that you have. You have so many other things to you, it is only one small chunk. If this is something you struggle with, take a moment to comment your claim to being human and not your monster. Share with everyone that you will not be defined by one single illness, because you are so much more. I’ll start.


I am human.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder

I have Bipolar Disorder

I have Agoraphobia 

I have Obsession Compulsive Disorder

I have Joy

I have Intelligence 

I have Love

I have Strength

I have many things, they are all small chunks of me, and they make me human.

I am human! What are you?

When dreams turn to nightmares

I am a very vivid dreamer. Essentially I live every day twice, once awake, and once asleep. I was working towards lucid dreaming until I went on a new anti-anxiety that blurs my dreams. Blurs just enough that I can’t focus enough to become lucid, but not enough to make them less vivid.

Last night my dreams turned to lucid nightmares as they occasionally do. And I woke up utterly exhausted and upset. I also have had a terrible and stressful week at work. I spent all morning in tears yelling “I can’t do this anymore!” And then put on enough makeup to hide and went to work. 

I am taking a break right now, and listening to some theta waves to calm me. But I’m still struggling to shake it off. I want to curl up in a ball and hide. I want to pretend the world doesn’t exist outside my bed. I want to cry until I have no tears left. But my employees are counting on me, my boss needs me. So I will fight through. I will hide in bathrooms and conference rooms and supply closets as often as possible and I will get through. I hope.

I talked to a real person!

So in case you didn’t know, I have a touch of agoraphobia. I avoid the outside world other than for work, and when in the outside world I don’t talk to people (thank god for self checkouts, and pre-ordering coffee!). Well there is road construction in my neighborhood this weekend, and the area they’re working on this weekend just so happens to block my way to my therapist. So I had to leave at like 5am to get past before they finished closing it off and have been sitting in Starbucks ever since, waiting until my appointment time.

So of course the first thing I did was plug in my earbuds and start knitting. Half the time I don’t even have music on (gotta listen in case someone is talking about me, never know who might be a stocker). I just leave the earbuds in so no one talks to me. Well eventually it happened, I had to go to the bathroom. I didn’t want to take my yarn or coffee in with me, that’s gross, so I removed the earbuds, looked out from my corner, and asked a nice lady to please watch my knitting for me while I used the restroom.

I talked to a person! A stranger! I even initiated the conversation! That may seem stupid, people do it all the time after all, but I don’t. I can’t even remember the last time I spoke to someone in the outside world. After the difficult couple of months I’ve had, this was a huge step, and I’m proud of me. So I thought I’d share my success with you. 

Is there a difference between self care and hiding?

I’m coming out of a mild depression, and getting past the side effects of a recent change in meds. I’m feeling good, much better than I was. But I’m exhausted, and extremely non-communicative. So I’ve been hiding from social media, taking solo tasks at work, and staying home at all times except to go to work. 

My therapist isn’t concerned, she feels that this is self care. That I’m taking it slow while I recoup I guess. But these phases scare me. Am I really feeling better if I’m still anti-social and afraid? Isn’t the exhaustion a sign of depression even if I’m feeling better? Is it really better at all if it’s from medication instead of more therapeutic techniques?

The logical side of my brain tells me that I’m exhausted from what I was dealing with, kind of like how you always get sick on vacation cause you finally slowed down. My logic says medications are stabilizing me just enough to more effectively use my therapeutic techniques. But I don’t always listen to my logical side.

The scared little girl in me say I’m not capable of exsisting within this world. The perfectionist in my says it’s not exhaustion it’s a refusal to get off my lazy ass so “get back to work idiot!” The emotional side of me says medications simply delete parts of me so I can pretend to be human, further proving my lack of worth.

I will continue to meditate, to eat well even when my appetite drops, to take my medications on time, and to allow myself to stay in my safe zone. I will give my therapist and logic the benefit of the doubt, that I just need to take a slow for a bit. I guess we’ll see which part of me turns out to be right.

My personal truth – Agoraphobia 

I always thought agoraphobia was basically defined as never leaving the house, I didn’t really know what it was. Finally I hit a point where I realized it wasn’t just depression keeping me from going out more frequently, and I needed to find out what was going on.

The Mayo Clinic defines agoraphobia as “Fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment”. Everyone has a fear of embarrassment to some degree I’m sure, but this is like an extreme. I’m completely panicked that I’ll panic and make a fool of myself. That I’ll have no where to run and hide. That someone will see me and destroy my life, my hopes, my dreams, because suddenly they caught a glimpse of my crazy.

My first big panic attack was at youth group as a teenager and I remember “hiding” behind a chair. I don’t recommend that, it doesn’t work. Later as an adult when my BPD really started to show more I began to fear this type of panic attack and where I may have another. What if I can’t escape? What if there is no where to hide? What if my boss finds out and I loose my job? What if they call the police and my children are taken away? (You can see how quickly that escalates in my brain)

I’m fully capable of going places I need to go, but I have techniques to make it possible. I have a hiding place at work where I can panic if I need to, and meditate to bring me back. I have a specific row I park in at the stores I frequent, and have memorized the quickest routes to the exits and to the restroom for quick hiding or escape. If I’ve been stable for a while I can go nearly anywhere as long as I’m with my family, or someone I trust. 

So I’m still a fully functional person out in the world, usually. But it takes a lot more effort, a lot more practice and ritual. And it also requires my feeling strong enough, which sometimes I don’t. There are rare occasions I call in sick because I’m too panicked to leave the house. There are times I’m too panicked to reach out even on Twitter or text for human interaction, days that I sit on my bed near panic for a full day. This week has been difficult as I find myself hiding at work more, keeping quiet, avoiding social media, and not going anywhere extra. Fortunately(?) I get migraines, so when I get like this my employees assume my head hurts and don’t question it. 

My hope is to build more rituals that can open up more places for me, but for now I will be happy with the interaction I can force. I haven’t yet given up on being part of the world, so hopefully the world hasn’t yet given up on me.