A welcome turn

Stepped into the same ER as we did 5 months ago. Got brought back just as quickly as before when the triage nurse saw his level of pain. Had the same ER doctor come in to the room. And as she stepped in she stopped. I’ve treated you before, haven’t I? He looked and said yes, that she was the one who found his cancer. She asked prognosis, current symptoms, and immediately put in orders for pain meds and a CT. I saw the same concern on her face as the last time when she ordered pain meds and a CT. Last time for his colon where she found multiple large masses, this time for his head where he was having the severe pain. It was all so similar, and so frightening.

I vividly remember 5 months ago, sitting in the chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hook up his IV. Waiting in that chair while they take him for scans. And finally seeing the doctor return with results, closing the door I didn’t know the room had before closing the curtain usually used as a door and turning to us to explain what she found. That time led to a week at the hospital, a cancer diagnosis, explanation of stage 4, massive surgery, and a rollercoaster of pain and emotion that we still face.

Today I sat in that chair next to hubby’s ER bed while they hooked up his IV. Waited in that chair while the took him for scans. And then sat there anxiously staring at the door you wouldn’t know is there unless you’ve seen them use it. Desperately wishing it to remain open. I couldn’t handle going down this road again so soon. Even if I could handle it, I don’t know if he can. His mind is breaking.

Last time we sat through unspoken fear of colon cancer, this time the unspoken fear of it spreading to the brain. The doctor came back but the door remained open. Scans are clean, labs look great (considering). But she still admitted him. She wants another doctor to take a look, and beyond that just to give his body a rest. She is promising pain meds, anti nausea meds, and anti anxiety meds. And as the first batch went in his IV I slowly saw him sink into a gentle sleep. He is calm and resting, his pain managed, and when last I left his room he was keeping down what he has decided is the most delicious cranberry juice. The first thing he’s kept down in days.

It’s likely that the symptoms are just from the chemo, but it hit so hard and wasn’t letting up that we needed to get him in. What has me most concerned is the occasional moments of confusion or lapses in memory. It’s not normal for him, and started before these other symptoms. So they’re looking into it. I’m relieved that the brain scans are clean, and that he will be able to rest pain free even if just for tonight. This trip to the hospital had a much better turn out then last time. But I feel it will continue to loom over us every time we have these ups and downs. But right now I will sleep easy knowing he is safe. And tomorrow I will hopefully be able to take him home.

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.

Counting down

As others have been counting down the days, hours, minutes until New Years, I have been counting down to my next therapy appointment. I’ve spent the last 2 years working my ass off to be stable, or at least to pretend I am with some amount of calm under the surface. A few months ago everything took a nose dive. Life said “fuck you!” and everything went nuts. It’s enough to add great deals of stress to the normally stable people, so you can only imagine what it’s doing to me. The biggest problem right now is that the issues are as time consuming as they are stressful. Which means that during this time of my needing the safe space of my therapists office more than anything, I haven’t been able to keep a single appointment. Every time I have scheduled one something has gone crazy that required my time and I had to reschedule.

I go on Tuesday. So far nothing has come up that can’t be handled without me or wait another day. I only need to make it until Tuesday. People have been asking me what my New Years resolution is. As I smile and make some non committal answer to move the conversation off of me, my brain screams in response “survive!” I want to survive. I want to survive this time both mentally and physically. I want to come out of this with a limited amount of new scars, no trips to the hospital, and nights with sleep. Even if that sleep is restless and filled with nightmares, at least it is a night safely asleep and not awake and lost in dangerous thoughts of “my family is better off without me” as I sit alone in the dark.

Two years ago I don’t know that I would have made it through. I have come a long way, and my ability to see that reminds me why I fight. Why I force myself to get treatment for my illness. Why I can keep getting up, even when I fall. So I will cling to this hope that snuck its way into my depression and follow it to my therapy appointment. Almost there. Just a couple more days. My countdown continues and with each day marked off brings more hope.

Happy New Year Y’All… cheers to us, and to therapy. May we all be blessed with many good and non-canceled therapy sessions this year.

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.

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee it would be large, and strong, and multiple cups. It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks due to life and work. Beyond that my emotional regulation is not doing well. And I wouldn’t be too concerned except for the fact that I had to cancel my therapy appointment for the month cause I simply can’t take the time to get there. But as I took back to blogging after a lower amount of posts the past few weeks, I found that I am not alone. You all are with me, and you understand. Your support means the world to me đź’•đź’•đź’•

If we were having coffee I would ask how you have been. I find that a lot of people around me are facing busy, crazy, stressful, emotional times as well right now. Feel free to share so we can all be there for each other. And if you are one of the few having goods times right now, please share as well. It is through celebrating the goods times that we remember what we are fighting for through the bad.

Namaste y’all

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.

Shifts of mood

I’m shifting from depression to anxiety which sucks but also gives hope. This is common for me when I’m about to feel better. What gives me hope the most though isn’t that I’m likely to feel better soon, but that I recognize it. For so many years I did not recognize my cycles, and it made them more intense and frightening. I felt more desperate and wanted to give up so often. Through 2 years of therapy I am just now finally getting to understand my own mind, my mental monster. I’m so proud of this, and so glad that I stuck with treatment. 


I want to encourage all who face these mental monsters to stick with treatment. You may not see results for quite a while, but stick to it anyway. You didn’t learn to tie your shoes, or ride a bike, or add fractions over night (ok, fractions are a bad example, I’m not sure I ever really learned that). You learned through constant effort. Therapy is the same. Stick to it, keep trying, keep learning. And when you have sessions where you’re yelling at your therapist that “this shit is stupid!” And she asks “what do you want to do?” Schedule your next appointment. That is what you want to do, even if you don’t recognize it right away. Stick to it. I believe in you and your ability to win this fight, and I believe in using all the resources available to you. 
Namaste y’all – I bow to the divine in you

Letters to myself

I realized something in therapy today. Technically something I’ve realized many times before and always understood about myself, but today it seemed more logically visible (those are the best words I can find to describe the feeling, sorry it doesn’t quite make sense).

One of the reasons I write this blog, and why I journaled before that, is because I don’t listen to myself. The logic in my brain tells me smart things and the rest of my brain looks at the logic part and says “screw you”. I speak to coping with mental illness and then fall into the same traps I warned about. I tell myself the right honest and realistic things and yet allow my emotions to completely warp the situation in my mind. For a long time I felt alone in this, but I no longer do.

In DBT you learn about the wise mind, which is like the middle ground where the rational mind and emotional mind meet. In CBT there is a part in one of the learning exercises that asks “what would you say to a close friend if they were feeling that way?” Just the fact that these are in well received and effective treatments tells me that I am not alone. That others struggle with this and succeed in their fight. So I can to.

When I am struggling I look back at some of my posts to see how I coped before, what I told myself before. And I look at your comments and see that you understand. And I rest in the fact that maybe I make you feel less alone just as you do for me. So I am writing myself this letter. But if it speaks to you you can adopt the letter as your own, or perhaps right a similar one more personalized to your path and your struggles.

Dear B.B.,

You are worthy. Though you often feel that you’re not, and you may believe the emotional mind more than the rational one, you are. Don’t forget that.

When you feel like you are failing, look at yourself through the eyes of your loved ones. See the success through them when you can’t see it through yourself. It is there.

Be kind to yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself. Show your children what it is to show yourself compassion even when the self confidence may not be there. Tell yourself what you would tell others. Show yourself the respect that you show those you care about. 

Remind yourself that everything is temporary. Good times are temporary, cherish them. Bad times are temporary, wait them out. You can make it through, you can succeed. Believe in that. And when your emotional mind gets in the way of that belief, say it anyway. Claim your success over and over again until the words are ingrained in you. You don’t have to believe it at that moment for it to still be true.

I believe in you, please believe in you too. You are worth it.

With Love,

Yourself

Misconceptions about Borderline Personality Disorder 

My last post mentioned the fact of constant misconceptions of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. I mentioned a number of articles, but I want to speak to one in general that was extremely upsetting to me. This article appears on Forbes, a site I love to check out for business topics. It hits so many common misconceptions of BPD. And it is one of the first things Google recommends when you’re trying to research Borderline Personality Disorder in an office environment or leadership role.

Here’s part 1 of the article https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2016/03/26/bullies-borderline-bosses-and-narcissists-how-to-survive-then-thrive-part-1/#5bf52b127c9b

Here’s part 2 of the article https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2016/04/02/bullies-borderline-bosses-and-narcissists-how-to-thrive/2/#390559bc18fd 

Want to know the truth of BPD in the office? Here we go….


Misconception #1 – “we’re all a little bit borderline” 

Wait, what? No, it doesn’t work that way. This is actually stated in both parts of the article, so let me clear this up. According to the National Allince on Mental Illness (NAMI), to be diagnosed with BPD you must have at least 5 of the following 9 symptoms:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid being abandoned by friends and family.
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization—“I’m so in love!”—and devaluation—“I hate her.” This is also sometimes known as “splitting.”
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
  • Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
  • Suicidal and self-harming behavior.
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
  • Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity, or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.

– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Borderline-Personality-Disorder#sthash.4eN5Me3a.dpuf

If you do not have at least 5 of these symptoms, you are not Borderline, not even a little. If you have some of these symptoms and they are of concern, then you may want to speak with your doctor or therapist about the possibility of a different mental illness. If you have none of them but have extreme moods during difficult times, then guess what, you’re human and alive. Congratulations. 

Misconception #2 – Categorizing people with BPD

Comaford actually pulls these 4 categories from the book “Understanding the Borderline Mother” by Christine Lawson. I have not read the book so cannot speak to it. But the Forbes article describes the same categories. The Waif, the Hermit, the Queen/King, and the Witch/Warlock. 

Yes, I took the quiz at the end, no I do not fit a single category. Everyone has their own path, their own personality, there own knowledge and experience, and therefore their own reaction to mental illness. My borderline is not the same as yours. People with any form of mental illness, or even physical illness for that matter, do not fit into a nice little category. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Misconception #3 – “true borderlines are not capable of deep long-term relationships and cannot be present during intense emotion”

That is a direct quote from the article. The entire sentence is wrong on so many levels. First, I am a person WITH borderline, not a “borderline”. My diagnosis doesn’t define me. Second, eliminate the word “true”. As established earlier, you either do or do not have BPD, there is no middle ground.

Third, why are relationships being completely ruled out here? I have been married for 10 years. I have had my best friend in my life for 29 years. I am close to both of my children, neither of whom notice my mental illness. Does that mean I’m not “true borderline” despite having 8 of the 9 symptoms listed above?

Fourth, yes someone with BPD can be present during intense emotion. In fact our whole brain is essentially intense emotion. So not even sure what that means.

Misconception #4 – Narcissism and BPD are the same thing

This is the most common misconception I hear. So let me set this straight. According to the Mayo Clinic, most experts diagnos Narcissistic Personality Disorder using the DSM-5 which lists the following qualities:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

Now compare this to the diagnostic list above for BPD and tell me how many traits match between the two…I’ll give you a hint, the answer is 0. 

Misconception #5 – A “borderline” is just someone to be dealt with

Having BPD does not magically make me an issue in your life that must be dealt with. I can understand where this comes from as BPD is difficult to diagnose and treat. It can therefore become more visible and disruptive than some other disorders. However this is changing. The American Psychology Association discusses how the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has gone a long way to helping people with BPD seek treatment, and stick with treatment. More and more people are succeeding because they have worked hard to stay high functioning despite their illness.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar04/treatment.aspx

I have spoken to the concept of “dealing” with a boss with BPD before as that has always been the most common search term that brings people to this blog. But the fact is there are so many people with Borderline getting treatment. There are so many whom you would never know have this diagnosis. And you are not just “dealing” with them. They are your friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and you enjoy time with them having no idea the daily internal battle of their mind.


I hope this article cleared up some of the misconceptions. I also ask that you please share this article. When someone with BPD does a google search similar to mine, I want what they see to be truth and hope, not Forbes articles spreading lies and confusion.

I have spent a great deal of time crying because I “can’t” be successful because of statements like those above. To anyone out there who has shed those same tears, I want you to know you are not alone, you are not hopeless, you are not just someone to be dealt with. You are an amazing human being who is incredibly strong as you have to fight your own brain every day. You are treatable, and have every chance to be successful. You can have stable relationships and good jobs. You are worth that success and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Hopeless 

I walk into the break room at work to see the tv showing a news report of an airport shooting. I pour my coffee, walk back to my desk, and take an anti anxiety. I walk into the break room at work a few hours later to see the tv showing a news report of a man being tortured on Facebook live. I walk out and hide in the restroom for a while.

I come home to two beautiful children. They have never known abuse or faced a hate crime. They don’t know to fear this world. They see school as safe, and airports as fun. They believe that strangers are often nice, and that differences in religion and image are cool. They will tell you that the job of a police officer is to keep people safe by reminding them of the rules. They use the internet to see what dinasours lived in the ocean, and learn State Capitals. 

I come home, look at these children and am forced to wonder when the fear will start. When will they begin facing bullies? When will they notice that not everyone likes their mommy and daddy being different colors? When will the internet turn dark for them? When will they start to loose hope? Can I protect them from that? Should I protect them from fearing the world? 

I tell myself everyday that kindness can make a difference. That love can change people. That we should hope for a better future and work to see that happen. But how do we fight those who hate and kill and persecute without becoming them? Is hope truly there? At what point should we simply give up? Why does it seem that hate is so much stronger than love?