You stole my tree!

Well, not you specifically. And technically it’s not MY tree. And it wasn’t actually stolen, I mean it’s still where it was. Maybe I should start again….

So I’ve mentioned before that I have to park in the same spot (or row in busier parking lots) every time I go somewhere. So I go to my psychiatrist appointment today, yeah? Well most people park on the other side of the building so I always park on the nearly empty side next to a little tree. I’ve been going there almost two years now and have parked in that spot next to the tree every single appointment. Today I get there and and there are multiple cars on my side including one NEXT TO MY TREE. I’ve already had high anxiety all week, and now I can’t park in my spot which always makes me start to panic when going places. So I go into my psyc appointment anxiously snapping the rubber bands I had on my wrist and trying not to sound crazy. Cause I don’t want my psychiatrist to think I’m crazy, apparently? Anyway, we decided to add a mild dose of a new med I haven’t tried before. Non-addictive per my request. We’ll see what happens.

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.

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?

My personal truth – OCD

I actually really like my obsessive compulsive disorder (crazy I know!). While my other disorders cause me to hate aspects of myself, my OCD gives me a sense of control. Logically speaking, the “control” I feel is from the compulsions that I need in order to control the obsessions. So one may argue that if I didn’t have OCD I wouldn’t need to feel this control. But I prefer not to use that kind of logic personally.

The truth is, my obsessions are these crazy anxiety cycles in my brain. I would have some form of these cycles anyway from my BPD, so I may as well feel some control over them. And on a totally separate note, has anyone else noticed the amount of acronyms in my type of crazy? I kind of just want to start saying that I suffer from acronyms, then people would have a totally new reason to look at me like I’m crazy, because I am crazy, because I have acronyms, so there!

Anyhoo, I should probably get back on topic and try to explain how I personally experience my OCD. For me it is all about balance. When I started kindergarten I remember a deep sense of anxiety about the school bus, more specifically about the balance of the school bus. I was certain that if too many kids sat on one side of the bus it would become unbalanced and tip over. This fear lasted me until High School, and then only stopped because I walked to school rather than taking the bus. I knew it wasn’t logical, I know no one else feared this, but still the fear never left.

My brain right now sees life as that school bus. Everything can become so easily unbalanced. And when it does, something terrible will happen. In some circumstances my brain does a snowball effect and I “predict” what terrible thing it will be, but more often I have no idea. The anxiety center of my brain just hits the panic button and says that things are unbalanced and MUST be fixed before it is too late.

Because of this, my compulsions revolve around balance. For example, anything that has a number scheme follows the numbers 0, 3, 5, 7, 10,…. that’s right, not even numbers like you expected. Our math system is 10 based (unless you are working in binary, but my car speakers are not in binary, sorry). The half way point of 10 is 5, so 5 is my balance point. Now put the numbers on a see-saw with 5 in the middle. You need to find the middle on each end to keep it balance, but most things don’t use decimals so 2.5/7.5 won’t work. Your options are 2/8 or 3/7. I like the number 3 better than 2, and being closer to 5 looked prettier on my imaginary see-saw, so my numbers follow that pattern. Following me? No? Yeah, neither does my husband which is why he looked at me like I was crazy when I had a panic attack once because he turned the radio to volume 14. I cringe just typing that sentence.

Some of my compulsions are invisible to others, such as my need to chew my food equally on each side of my mouth. Something you would only notice if I randomly offered you an individual smarty, the candy, you’ve had those yeah? In case you didn’t know, smarties come 15 to a roll and are near impossible to break exactly in half. So while they are an incredibly beautiful, perfectly balanced line to admire visually, they just can’t be eaten in a balanced way. So I either have to eat 2 rolls, or get rid of the 15th Smarty.

Some things are more visible, but most people don’t pay attention. For example my random short or long steps across a crosswalk so my feet have exact equal exposure to the white lines. I think the most annoying for me is accidentally brushing up against a wall or a piece of furniture while walking, it throws my whole body out of balance. So I have to find a way to brush my other side against an identical surface with the same amount of pressure. And if not done properly I will keep doing so on each side until they finally balance, which can be redundant, and weird.

My OCD is really only visible to others when my anxiety hits hard. When that happens I have to expand beyond my personal balance to the balance of everything around me. I will rearrange everything in the break-room to be more equidistant, or change entire excel templates at work because the layout was too heavy on one side.

In general, my OCD is mild and at times amusing. It can make walking a bit unusual, and give me panic attacks. But more often than not it just makes me feel more in control of the unknown consequences I so fear. So I’ll continue to appreciate it, and continue balancing everything on my imaginary see-saw so the bus won’t tip.