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.

That’s what copiers are for right?

So I forgot my pills this morning. And felt continuously more wonky as the day went on. About 2pm I was ready to curl up into fetal position behind the office copier and have a full blown panic attack. That’s not really considered “professional” though, so I hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes instead and spent the rest of the work day with my earbuds in. Most people assume earbuds means I have a lot of paperwork and need music to keep me going, so it’s not questioned. I made it through the day… mostly… but got home dizzy and with 16 rubber bands on my right wrist to remind me of my failures. Or at least my perceived failures. But it’s temporary, right? The dizzy, the panic, the fear, the anger, the judgement of myself, it’s all temporary. Please remind me that it is temporary. I’m not sure I can trust my brain today, but I’m certain I can trust yours. 

Even when stable

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. As per usual I parked in my normal row, the correct distance from a cart drop off spot, walked next to the same crosswalk I always do, through the same door and to the left as always. With my compulsive requirements met I was able to grab the two items I needed. Then half way to check out I began to panic. I was very suddenly concerned that the cash option of self checkout would be down and, as I was using cash, I would need to go speak to a person to pay. I wasn’t prepared for that.

So what happened? I’ve been doing so well, feeling stable, what changed? Well, nothing changed. The fact is “stable” doesn’t mean symptom free, or at least for me it doesn’t. It means my symptoms are dulled, and my mind more clear. The combination of the two make it easier to cope with what comes my way. A moment of panic over something random is fine. I felt it, acknowledged it, and worked through it. 

This is a normal thing for me. And I felt the need to explain. I don’t want to put out the mistaken belief that by “stable” I’m magically better. That feeling a sense of peace removes all non-peaceful symptoms. That by feeling less overwhelmed by emotion means that they aren’t still intense. That less impactful symptoms make my urge to self harm disappear. Because that’s not the case. What it means is that I can work through them easier, I can cope, I can fight urges with better success, and I also have more energy to do these things. 
I would compare this to taking cold medicine. Taking cold medicine doesn’t make all symptoms of the cold disappear, it simply makes the symptoms easier to deal with. I have more clarity of mind right now, and that clarity helps me more than anything. I don’t need to be symptom free as long as I have the ability to fight the symptoms successfully. 

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. 

At least it was a crazy straw

For a few weeks I’ve been basically at my breaking point, and just powering through. I found I could push through the day and then let everything just hit when I get home. Some nights that looked like staying up all night with panic attacks. Some nights was effectively surrendering to a depression that shuts everything down where I don’t sleep, eat, or talk, just sit there lost. Some nights were filled with nightmares, and some just with the stored up tears of stress. 

Today I couldn’t wait until night. Today I faced the straw that broke the camels back. One stupid little thing that I could usually handle, but today was too much. I ran to the restroom and proceeded to hide in a stall in silent tears for 20 minutes. Then busied myself with mindless work the rest of the day. I’m done. I’m so lost, and so stressed, and so exhausted. I worry about tomorrow, and if I can cope with whatever new crap I will face. But this season is just temporary, right? I hope so.

I AM HERE

Today I received my copy of “You Are Here – An Owners Manual for Dangerous Minds” by Jenny Lawson. And I am going to do my best to put words to just how much this book means to me, and why.

The last few months of 2015 were filled with overwhelming depression and anxiety for me. More and more frequently I was spending sleepless nights locked in the bathroom cutting in an attempt to get everything out. When the depression was at it’s worst moments I was no longer capable of feeling the cuts so began to burn myself as well.

By December of 2015 my therapist had finally convinced me to open up to my husband who was not yet aware of my behavior. He and my therapist together convinced me to go to the hospital while my meds get readjusted in an effort to keep me safe from myself. 

The first couple of days in the hospital I was silent, unable to open up to anyone. I was also having extreme panic attacks consistently. By day 3 I was found hiding in the corner of my room under a desk, scratching at the half healed cuts on my arm to make them bleed. I was told to sit in front of the nurses station for a while to ensure my safety. While there a nurse gave me a stack of coloring pages and some colored pencils and encouraged me to color to get my mind off the anxiety. 

I found a page I liked and started to color. And I didn’t stop. For the remaining days in the hospital I colored. I talked to other patients and began to open up, but did so while I colored. I sat in group therapy and participated, all while still coloring. I ate my meals with my coloring page next to me, choosing carefully my next colors to use. I woke up from nightmares in the middle of the night, went to the common room and colored until I could fall back asleep. 

I colored so much my hands were covered in blisters and my fingers were cramping. But the pain in my hands could never compare to the invisible pain that lives in my mind. So I ignored the blisters and cramps and I colored. 

When I got home I struggled to adjust, so I continued to color. When I relapse and begin to cut again, I pull out my colored pencils and colored. It keeps me safe, sometimes I think it keeps me alive during my worst times. 

Through the creation of this book, Jenny Lawson has given the world beauty and hope. She has helped minds like mine find an escape.

But for me, the most special gift in this book is safety. Jenny Lawson has given me hundreds of nights where I can keep my hands busy with a pencil instead of a knife. And for that I am beyond grateful.

Thank you Jenny, and please never stop bringing your beauty into the world. Never stop being you, because minds like mine need you.

I should yoga

I’ve had consistent anxiety for at least a week now. It isn’t bad enough to give me panic attacks, just enough to give me high adrenaline all freakin day. At first I didn’t mind cause I could use that adrenaline to get shit done. But it’s become overwhelming the last few days. 

Last night I was coping by drink wine. Because in my family that’s the way we cope. I come from a long line of alcoholics and usually try to be more careful. So what I plan to do tonight is meditate and do some yoga. I don’t know if that will actually happen, but I brought out my sports bra and yoga pants, so good first step so far.

The wine in the fridge and whiskey in the cupboard are calling to me. But I am calling to my logical side and my strength and pushing myself to do some yoga so I can feel better tomorrow. Wish me luck.

No Sleep

My brain tonight (and so many other nights)…

Did I leave a knife on the kitchen counter? What if the kids grab it, or the cat knocks it over? I think I put it away, but what if I didn’t?

I should go check that, and check the door lock again while I’m up. I know I already checked the lock a few times, but what if it’s a false memory? Maybe I didn’t actually check.

Kids talking in his sleep. Maybe his dreams are getting too much. I know he sounds fine, and he’s always fine when he talks in this sleep. But what if this is the first time he’s not? Maybe he’ll get trapped in a nightmare. Maybe I should sleep next to his bed just in case.

Maybe I should have both the kids sleep in our bed. What if someone breaks into their room?

What is that sound? Is that the neighbors or a burglar? Maybe it’s a kidnapper?

Are the kids craft paints put away? I know we put them away, but what if we missed one? What if the cat drinks it and dies while we’re asleep? I should go check that. And the knife I put away. And the door lock. 

But what if someone knocks on the door when I’m up checking on things? I can’t speak to someone in this mental state. But they’ll know I’m here, they will have heard me. They’ll never leave, I can’t hide or escape them. Maybe hubby will check the paint and knife and door lock?

But he might start to hate me if I wake him up. Why does he stay with me? I’m a terrible person! Why did he ever bother to marry me? Why did he settle? I can’t destroy his life. I won’t wake him up. He’s too sweet and would check everything. It’s not fair to him.

I should just go to bed. I have to sleep. If I don’t sleep well, then the kids will hate me. They probably already hate me. I’m a terrible mother. Only a terrible mother would have gone this long without getting up to check that the knife and paint were properly put away, and that the door was locked. I only checked these items 3 times before laying down. A good mother would check again.

I’m exhausted. 

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?