Diagnosed Workaholic

My first session with my current therapist was just over two years ago and after explaining how I had been “coping” for years and what was happening leading up to my pending breakdown she looked at me and paused, and then she simply said “you realize you’ve been self medicating with work for the past nine years, right?” Yes. Yes I did. The fact is I didn’t know how to cope so I worked too much in order to distract myself from myself. When I was forced to slow down, I couldn’t handle it. I was a workaholic. I’m not saying that to downplay actual addictions, but addiction runs in my family so I have always been excessively carefully with the actually addictive things, so I ended up turning to work instead.

The last couple of months at work have been nuts. I’m working crazy overtime and barely keeping shit together for my department. I had to cancel my last therapy appointment cause I can’t take time off work, and I still haven’t been able to schedule a new one. I’m too exhausted for crafts or games or anything that I used to do after work. I’m barely blogging, sleeping is hard, it took me a week to finally sew buttons onto my sons sock for sock puppet eyes. I wake up already exhausted, run on coffee and soda energy all day, and lie down with an exhausted body and overactive mind as soon as I get home.

But I realized today that in the last two weeks I’ve had almost no panic attacks. I have not had the constant urge to self harm. I have not cried myself to sleep or stared at nothing in the overwhelming emptiness of my lack of self. I have not begun screaming at someone out of uncontrollable anger held too long. My emotional extremes aren’t there. Today it occurred to me that I am doing almost no self care at all, so why am I suddenly stable? My meds didn’t change, so it can’t be that. Then my therapists words echoed in my head. “Self medicating with work.” Am I doing it again? Am I so overworked that my disorders have taken a backseat? I don’t know. But two years of practicing self care has at least taught me a couple things.

First, work does not define me. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and I do. No matter how much of my day is stuck on work right now, it does not define me. Second, it is important to not judge. I don’t need to judge my overworking nature at the moment, I simply need to be aware that it is there and that it will not last forever. That I need to keep working to build in more self care while I can. Third, I can’t make this permanent. I need to allow myself to slow back down as work slows back down. I can’t allow myself to get so used to this that I don’t stop.

I choose to be aware of my situation and my past so I can move past this. I choose to be healthy, even if it means that feeling good might not be from feeling good or from healthy practices.

I will not

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not allow a single email to determine my career.

I will not allow this bitch to get to me, even after nearly three years of her hacking away at my mental state at work.

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not be up all night afraid of the dreams that will haunt my sleep.

I will not allow my stress from the day to determine whether or not I will sleep that night.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not hide and cry all day over the devastation in this world.

I will not dwell on my personal experiences of loved once trapped in past shootings and replay the fear in my head while others face this new terror in their own lives.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not give up.

I will not forget that this day is temporary.

I will not allow the insanity of my current life and stress levels to destroy the future I am always fighting towards.

I will not give up.

Bigger on the inside

I feel sometimes like having BPD makes me like the TARDIS, bigger on the inside. My emotions are so strong, so powerful, so huge, that the outside of me begins to shut down and shrivel into a tiny lump in the corner. All week I have been trapped in this. Mostly with anger. I physically feel anger the same way I do anxiety. I feel it creeping around in my arms and legs. I feel it tighten my chest and weigh down in my stomach. I feel these sensations spinning around in me until I think I may burst. But I don’t. My insides have made room for the swirl of anger, and my outsides have learned to blend into the background and remain calm and small. But how long will this last? How long until I explode into a million broken pieces from the exhaustion of my insides?

Sit down and shut up

Since the age of 10 I have been told there is a limit to how far I can go. To what all I can do. I push to live up to my own dreams and expectations, but continuously hit a point where someone tells me to stop. I’ve gone too far, done too much, I’m not good enough so step aside for someone else. For over 20 years I have fought this. I have told myself I can reach my dreams, I just need to work hard, listen, learn, try. But once again I find myself in a spot where just as I’m learning, I’m pulled away and told someone else will do it. What have I done wrong? No one can say. What could I have done differently? Nothing.

It’s stupid, it’s probably for the best as I have other things to do anyway. But how long can I continue to tell myself to keep trying? How many years does it take before I give up and believe what everyone else believes of me? I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not reliable enough, I’m too slow, too loud, too active. I need to just sit down and shut up. Do what I’m told without question. Don’t try to live beyond my abilities as predetermined by everyone else.

I’m too exhausted to keep fighting. At least for now.

By a robber in the woods

A very dear friend of mine attempted suicide this weekend. She survived and is safe in a psychiatric hospital right now. But I spoke with her today and she still seems overcome by the depression and the sorrow she faces. I looked briefly through photos of us over the past few months and can see, now with clarity, the smile on her face and the sorrow in her eyes.

I am in hermit mode while I safely heal my own broken heart as she exhaustedly fights for hers. I await to see the success of her fight because I cannot bear it to think she may lose. She is strong, though she doesn't see it. She is brave, though she sees only her fear. I will see the truth of her on her behalf while she navigates the dark woods of her depression.

I do not claim to be religious but have studied numerous scholars of numerous religions. One of the things that has always stuck with me was the idea by Martin Luther in the 16th Century that suicide did not mean that the soul was damned. That having your life taken by the despair the devil attacks you with is no different than being murdered by a robber in the woods. I believe that to be true.

My friend was attacked by a robber in the woods. She survived but continues to fight through these horrifying woods of her mind. I hope she receives the guidance she needs to make it out. Whether through a god, a therapist, a friend, or a family member. I want her to come safely out, back into the sunshine that will heal her.

He’s still processing

I could see that my son was stressed, but unsure why exactly. He's 6 years old so doesn't know the words for what is happening in his mind. We talked and I gave him time to process the words while I listened. And I gave him some new words that might help explain his feelings, and make him feel less alone in his thoughts.

He started out by saying he wishes this was a dream.
"Why do you wish it were a dream?"
"I think maybe it should be a nightmare."
"What makes it a nightmare?"
"Um, because I want to wake up from it."
"Why do you want to wake up from this?"
Long pause….
"I just do."
"If you woke up, what would be different?"
"Well, I wouldn't have to eat all the healthy food" pause…
"Anything else?"
"Yeah, my room would be clean."
"Well, you can make that happen."
"But there's SO MUCH. All the toys all around, it makes me like I'm dizzy."
"Ok. Well we can find ways to make that easier."
Long pause….
"Is there anything else that would be different?"
"Well…"
Another pause…
"You can tell me sweetie."
"Well…. my fish would be back."

And that's when it clicked. He's been more irritable since his fish died. I can't believe I didn't connect the two before. So we snuggled for a bit, he began to cry. I just hugged him. I can see he's still processing the loss of his fish and it breaks my heart. We talked a bit more. I told him that maybe he was stressed, and he asked what that means. I described it as when things make us upset in a way that our feelings make us feel dizzy. But not like spinning around in circles dizzy, just an emotions dizzy.

I could see his understanding. I knew that was what he had been trying to put into words. I explained that when our stress feels really big, it makes us feel overwhelmed. I think he understood.

Today my son learned that his emotions have names, and he is not alone in them. Today I was reminded that he does have strong emotions, and I need to help him learn to process them. I never learned that as a child. I have the emotional (and physical) scars to prove it. I will do all that I can to help my kids learn to process their emotions.

Can’t help but laugh

I’ve recently decided that I should stop using the phrase “I can’t help but laugh” because I have become very suddenly aware that it is nearly always towards a person and their problems. It honestly frustrates me that I didn’t think about that before. I work so hard to be sensitive to others, so how did I think it was an okay phrase to use when I see someone struggling?

I was in a leadership training at work earlier this week and during a break was chatting with some coworkers. Now by “coworkers” I mean they hold similar positions to me but we’ve never actually worked together or really know each other. So we started talking about topics from the training, a big one being stress management as a leader. One of these supervisors told me that she is amazed at how people can get so stressed and so emotional. “Why can’t they just deal with it and move on instead of letting it effect their day? I can’t help but laugh!” And in that moment I felt that she was literally laughing at me.

I am someone that needs to be taught stress management. I am pre-programmed to be highly emotional. I handle it well, I am high functioning, I can get through my days with success…. usually. But every few years it hits too hard. I loose my grip on stress relief techniques and have a breakdown. Sometimes I just need a quick stay-cation and med adjustment to get back to life, on rare occasions I need a short stay in a hospital. But I take care of it and get back on track. Why is that something to laugh at?

I’m sure I’m reading far too much into it, and should just shrug it all off like a normal person hearing a common saying, but it did make me think. So now if I find myself thinking “I can’t help but laugh” I will work harder to be understanding of what I don’t know about the person and their situation.

Dark times

Out of nowhere I’ve hit another dark time. I don’t know if it’s stress induced, med related, or just a season of my brain. But my monster has come out to play and it is effecting everything. 

I want to curl up in a ball and sleep for a month. I want to release the pressure in my arms. I want to cry and scream and hit things. But I’ve been practicing DBT and self care exactly for these moments. So I still meditate, still tell myself “it’s temporary” whether I believe it or not, and I still try to adjust my judgemental thoughts as much as possible. 

The lack of sleep and the monster marathon running through my head are making this hard. But I’ll get through. I’m a stubborn bitch like that. I hope.

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.