That is the worst idea you have had

When your therapist of 3 years, the women who has seen you through panic attacks, self harm, suicidal ideation, and lord knows what else says “that is the worst idea you have had.” You should probably listen 😬

So what was this terrible idea? I went off my meds. That may not seem like much, but remember all the lovely things mentioned in the first sentence? That was during a period of time I spent months arguing with her that I didn’t need medication. Followed by a month of trying to stabilize on my new medications, some of that time spent in a psych hospital. She helped me understand that I need meds, helped me find a good psychiatrist after I had had so many bad ones in the past, she helped keep me safe from myself while I worked to find the right blend, and she helped me understand that the meds bring me to a baseline where I can then work on my self care to become healthy and stable beyond that point.

Recently someone at the office started telling everyone that I don’t care about things. Suddenly rumors where flying around that I am heartless, that I don’t care about my work or my team. This started spreading out of control until someone started trying to tell others I should be fired so they can have someone that actually cares. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder I’d never been told I don’t care. I’m told I care too much, I care when I shouldn’t, I am too emotional, that I need to shut it off. My whole world shifted as I began to hear these strange rumors and I panicked.

I knew the “issue” was that I was stable, and that I wear an emotional mask on top of that. I also knew that I wasn’t going to lower that mask, so the only way to show emotions through it was to stop being stable. So for the next two weeks I cut my antidepressant and mood stabilizer dosages in half. When I didn’t end up completely crazy after that I just stopped taking them altogether. I went against my better judgement. I went against the advice I give others to never adjust your meds without first speaking to your doctor. I went against the advice I give myself, to talk over decisions I know are probably wrong with my therapist before doing stupid things. I panicked, so I ignored everything but the rumors at the office and I screwed myself up worse.

So at last Monday’s appointment we discussed the issues I’m going through right now, and eventually got to the dreaded question:

“How are your meds working?”

“I’m not taking them.”

Pause… “When did you last see your Psychiatrist?”

“About 3 or 4 months ago?”

“So she doesn’t know you stopped taking them?”


“How long have you been off your meds?”

“A week, I was on half dose for 2 weeks before that.”

Pause…. “Why?”

“They were making me stable so people thought I didn’t care. I needed stronger emotions at work or everyone would hate me!”

Longer pause (probably an effort to regain the peace she had found while meditating that morning before I had come in and ruined it) “That… that is the worst idea you have had.”

“They want to fire me!”

“You can’t just stop your meds.”

“I can’t be stable right now, they hate me at work!”

“Do you hear yourself?”

“Yes. But I don’t care. I need my job.”

“You are more important than just a job. You need to be stable for you and your husband and your kids. You need to be on your meds.”

So I’m back on my meds. I’m feeling better, more clear, more calm. But I still have moments of desperate desire to be off them. To let my crazy take control. I don’t know where this desire is coming from exactly, I don’t think it is just from work though that was certainly a catalyst. But something in me says I shouldn’t be stable. And this is a new fight for me, one I don’t know how to face.

When I was young and refused to acknowledge depression as a medical condition, or that I had anything more than seasonal depression, I would refuse meds or go off of them because I shouldn’t need them. I’ve fought that battle and moved beyond it. I’ve learned to ignore the occasional thoughts my brain throws at me trying to convince me of that lie. But this is a new lie. My mind says the meds are working, and they’re needed, but that I should stop anyway. I recognize the truth of my illness and my treatment, and something is telling me not to be treated. To let the symptoms take over. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know how to fight it. Have any of you fought that before? The idea that you can be stable but shouldn’t?

My boss has Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

Every month the amount of people coming to the blog to find out how to deal with their BPD boss grows. For every one of you coming here to try to find out how to deal with someone that has BPD I want to hug you! Part of that may be my overly sensitive emotions and tendency towards inappropriate relationships, but more so it’s because I can see you’re going through a difficult time with someone you’re stuck with all day. That is an extremely difficult thing to deal with.

Something I mention in my first post about this topic is that you can’t change the person. That if it gets too bad then maybe look for a new job. Which is entirely unfair. I can hear the “that’s ridiculous!” and “That’s unfair!” and “Why should I be the one to change?!” screams coming through as I read my own words. And to these I respond, “yes” and “it is” and “you shouldn’t”. So why then do I leave that advice there?

The fact is we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. I’m not saying that the tough manager shouldn’t be held responsible. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions. But you can’t control your boss any more than I can control you. So then the question may come up of why their manager isn’t doing something about it. Maybe you can’t control them, but certainly their boss can hold them responsible, right? To which I argue, who says they’re not?

I recently fired someone, and ya know what? It took over a year. In a large corporation an HR department needs strong documentation of what the issue is, how it effects the team, how it effects the business, and proof that the employee has been made aware and given all necessary tools to change. If that can be proven and the changes have not been made, then the person can be let go. I was stuck in a situation where the employee did not work in the same office as me and I had to rely on others to provide feedback. If they didn’t then I had nothing to go off of. I needed proof that the employee was not improving despite the additional discussions, warnings, and trainings she had received. There were people who wondered why I wasn’t doing anything, but refused to provide feedback at the same time. I was doing site visits, asking for feedback, documenting everything possible. I was assigning training classes, following up, and more. I was stuck with a system that needed people to speak to me and people that refused to speak.

The manager of your BPD manager might be doing things that you aren’t aware of. Maybe they’re tying to document and people aren’t speaking up. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they’re in process providing new trainings and looking to see if it helps. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. We can’t assume.

So along with taking ownership of your actions, make sure to document things and speak to your bosses boss when needed. Do so tactfully and in detail. Don’t speak on mental illness, that will make things far messier. Instead speak on specific examples of things that took place. It may take time to see improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t being held responsible for their actions.

Here’s some examples of how to provide feedback:

Instead of “She just doesn’t understand boundaries” say “I stated last week that I am uncomfortable with her hugging, and yet she has continued to hug me.” Notice how the first statement is vague and could mean she walked past you too close for all we know. That will barely get a reaction from the big boss. The second statement, however, is an ethics violation and potentially sexual harassment. The person you report that to has to immediately follow up with some form of action.

Instead of “She has a bad temper” say “She began yelling at me in front of the team yesterday. I felt embarrassed and struggled to focus on my work the rest of the day.” The first statement could be her temper or your thin skin, no way for an outside party to know. The second statement is clearly her reacting poorly to a situation in a way that negatively impacted your work and employee moral. The first statement makes a manger want to say “work it out” while the second is likely to prompt a verbal warning if it’s the first documented offense or written warning if it’s been documented before.

Sometimes this still won’t make things change. I don’t know why, I’m not there. And it may still come to a point where you have to leave because the environment isn’t getting better. I get that. I’ve been there. I had a boss that had extremely high turnover and had a way of making her boss believe that it was because she had developed them for great things, when everyone who worked for her knew it’s because we’re all trying to get away from her. I attempted to provide feedback, my manager knew I might so never had anything in email. It was my word against hers and hers always won. I tried to switch teams and was told that I needed to learn how to work with others, and would not be allowed to work for anyone else. Meanwhile this boss was treating me and many others horribly. I left the company. They lost my skills and experience because of her. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Last I heard from a previous coworker, her relationship with her boss doesn’t seem to be quite the same. She’s not on such a high pedestal, she’s not getting to run her team however she wants anymore, and her work is being more closely monitored. Enough people provided enough similar, and constructive, feedback that it’s finally being looked into. But not until after I had to get out.

Also keep in mind the potential for your boss to change. I recently called an employee “sweetie”. A habit of mine outside the office that accidentally slipped at the office. He reported it to my boss who mentioned it to me. Not only am I being more careful what I say to him, I am more careful what I say in general. I need to change to ensure my team feels comfortable at work. Whether the change is before or after an employee leaves, it is possible.

I’m wishing you all the best in your career! Please remember that things can get better and less stressful even if it requires tough choices to be made.

Questions about your boss with BPD?

From day one the most common search term for this site has been “my boss has borderline personality disorder.” That hasn’t changed. In fact it’s become even more frequent. I spoke on this once before, but am not sure it actually answers anything you want to know. If you are coming to this blog trying to figure out how to work with a boss who may have BPD please feel free to post a question in the comments section. I will do my best to answer.

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?

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.

If we were having…

If we were having coffee you would be moving away slowly to steer clear of my germs, and I would be thanking my husband with all my heart for going out to get me coffee while I lay on the couch dizzy and exhausted.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that despite a stressful week, and getting sick on top of it, I am feeling pretty good. Primarily because I’m responding to real stress like a real human. My BPD makes that impossible sometimes and I am extremely thankful for the treatment helping me get to this point, even if temporary. 

While I don’t have much to say as I’m tired and out of it. I’ll share one of my favorite songs, which has been stuck in my head all week. And I certainly don’t mind.

Coping with borderline personality disorder

I’m a data nerd. I research everything and love learning new facts about virtually anything I can. In fact a large portion of my job is data analysis. So when I was diagnosed with BPD the first thing I did was research, I wanted to gather as much data as I could so I could live a healthy life.

Upon starting my research my biggest concern was in how my disorder affected those around me, especially since I so consistently felt like I was detrimental to society. As I attempted to research I found website after website plus books, articles, and more on how to deal with someone who has BPD. Yet I couldn’t find any help on how to deal with your own BPD.

At that time I was already beginning to feel suicidal, needless to say it didn’t help to be told over and over again that people like me are simply a problem to be dealt with. It took me a long time and a lot of therapy to get past that and it still pops up in my head when my self esteem dips. So I want to share my tips for dealing with your own BPD. What has worked for me, what helps in my work and home life, what I force myself to do when my disorder tries to take control.

This will be a series of posts, so stay tuned. My hope is that this helps others who are trying to find their own support. And the first thing I want to say to all those seeking advice on dealing with their BPD is that you are not a problem, you are not detrimental, you are not a burden, and you are not alone. You can succeed in life no matter what your brain tells you, and you can have healthy relationships no matter what relationship issues you’ve had in the past. No matter how hard it is, you absolutely can have an amazing and healthy life, so never give up.

Stupid Little Girl

When BPD takes a swing to low self esteem I see myself as a stupid little girl. Others see me as a 30-something women with husband, children, stable job, hobbies, etc. But they don’t see the real me. The me that is frightened to speak, frightened to leave the house. Everything in me is asking why would I let myself live this long? Why would I allow myself to become connected to people? Why would I form this stable life when everything in me is wrong?

I know it is the borderline, I tell myself my brain is lying. It will get better with time. But right now I want only to disappear. I want to sit in the corner of my closet like I did when I was young and allow myself to cry at my own feelings of stupidity and uselessness. Instead I will remain awake as the rest of the family sleeps and be thankful that at least I won’t dream if I don’t sleep tonight. And remind myself that at least this illusion of stability provides a home I can hide in when the rest of the world is too overwhelming to step into.

My personal truth –  Borderline Personality Disorder

I’ve been avoiding this one. As you may know, I’ve been making “my personal truth” posts in an effort to bring more balance to my throat chakra. It is a way to externalize and speak honestly. A chance to see what I always try to hide, but in a non-judgmental way.

This will probably be my last one of these, and it is about my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Before I get into this I do want to encourage you to consider doing this series as well. A chance to speak on a topic that maybe is nagging at your brain. It does not need to be about a disorder, it can be anything. What ever your current truth is. If you do make one (or more!) of these posts, be sure to post a link in the comments so we can all check it out. 

I mentioned once before that for me BPD feels like hand sanatizer on a papercut. That really is the best way for me to describe it. Any small thing gives me a very large sensation. I physically feel every emotion to the point that energy is built up wanting to explode. People say I’m “overly emotional” when they see only the tip of the iceberg. If something makes you sad, it would leave me curled up in a ball of despair. If it makes you mad, I would be furious to the point of shaking, crying, and screaming. I live in a world of extremes.

These extremes make me feel the need to release. Again, I physically feel extreme energy build up with strong emotions. This is why I self harm. I want to release the tension. It is not for attention, in fact no one other than my husband and therapist are even aware of it. I can go long periods of time without self harming if I am consistent in my self care. For me, self care looks like taking my meds on time, meditating 3-5 times a week, aromatherapy (peppermint is my current favorite!), yoga when I can get off my lazy ass long enough to do it. 

The one thing I can’t seem to control even with self care is my dreams, and that is terrifying to me. I am a control freak and so hate that my brain works without me when I sleep. This gives me a large fear of dreams, which is made more powerful by the fact that I am a very vivid dreamer. My dreams play to my current stresses, fears, and extremes, and they do so in a great deal of realism.

The scariest part of borederline for me is dissociation. I don’t get this to an extreme, but fear that it will be what finally screws me over one day. Since normal things create such a strong reaction for me, a situation that would create those intense reactions in others simply shut me off. I no longer feel, at all. I have tried to cut during these periods only to see that I literally felt nothing. I can lay in bed without moving for hours, sometimes days. It is like a deep depression but without the suicidality that would usually accompany a “normal”deep depression for me. I simply turn off, realize I don’t live in everyone else’s reality, and lie down wondering random things like “are my arms changing sizes?” (my husband informed me they were not, but he wasn’t in the same reality, so it can be hard to tell). My fear is that someday I’ll loose reality for good. What then?

While that is the scariest, it is not the worst. The worst is statements like these, “why are you so crazy? Just shut up already!”, “you’re going to make everyone hate you if you keep doing this”, “you’re poor husband! Having to put up with you and your bullshit”, “why can’t you calm down?”, “you can’t reach your goals, don’t bother trying”, “you’re a terrible mother”, “just give up already”. And you know what? That’s me, I’m saying it, it’s on repeat in my head everyday. I counteract it as much as I can by focusing on the beauty around me, the amazing people I see everyday, the joys that I can find. They are out there and I work hard to focus on them. But sometimes the brain doesn’t shut up. Sometimes it has to try to kill me again.

For anyone who has not lived with mental illness and wants to know what it’s like, record yourself whispering “you’re terrible, you’re wrong, you’ll never amount to anything, you’re ruining everyone else’s lives, they don’t want you around”. Play that on repeat, and listen to your voice telling you these awful things non-stop. Listen all day through everything you do. How does that feel? How does it feel to have your own voice whispering what a waste of a human being you are over and over and over again? Now imaging having that on repeat everyday of your life. That is mental illness. That is my depression, my anxiety, my borderline, my fears, everything. That is what I face. That is why I cry. 

I hope you never actually test that, because I don’t wish that on anyone. Instead test something different. Find one thing every day that you love. One thing that makes you smile, that gives you hope. Even on my worst days I try to find that one thing. Even when I’ve hidden in bed for 3 days afraid to face the world, shaking and crying for reasons I don’t know. I can hear my husband playing with the kids in the next room and smile. “I didn’t ruin their lives, and I will get better” I tell myself. My brain likes to lie to me, but when I find that moment of hope, my brain sees the truth. I can cling to that, and it will get me through. Find your daily moment of hope and cling to it.

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.