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Shifting Gears: Part 1
Do you ever feel like you’ve just come out of a laundry machine? Battered, dizzy, gasping for breath as the door is finally opened? I’ve been having some pretty severe episodes lately, and it’s been hard to stay upright. Literally, I’ve been spending so much time on the floor I think there might be an indent.
The magic combination these last few days has started with insomnia, which I was starting to get a real handle on. But I also thought to check, just today, where I’m at with my cycle, and once again I realized that my PMDD has been reeking havoc. I kid you not, it’s been four years with this diagnoses, and nine times out of ten I forget that I have it, so every month I get severe depression and just think I’m an inadequate piece of trash, and then afterwards I’ll be like, “Ohhhh, right, I’ve got a thing.” I don’t know if it’s borderline amnesia or part of PMDD itself, but I’m always bewildered about why I feel so horrible and miserable two weeks per month. Every time.
So that was going on in the background without my knowledge (or consent). The PMDD and insomnia joined forces to create the mother of all BPD storm clouds, and today I’m left feeling exhausted. Maye not as hopeless as usual, but tired.
I think part of it is that I’ve been trying so hard to make positive changes in my life, and those of you like me will understand that positive changes can be the worst ones of all. Not only does it get your hopes up, but it can also make you neglect some of your strategies because you’re “feeling better.” Without a doubt, when we can we have to be willing to try or keep trying, but those bad habits and maladaptive behaviours won’t leave or be controlled without a lot of kicking and screaming. For example, because I’ve been doing so well with my insomnia, I’ve stopped using my insomnia strategies. And what do you know, the insomnia came back (surprised Pikachu face.) I stopped using my anxiety and borderline strategies, including the mental health first aid kit which I can’t even find half the time, and what do you know, when there’s some sort of anxiety spark, I go up like a roman candle.
But it’s not so easy to say “just do it.” I’m starting to realize that what devastates me the most about my disorders is that I have very limited ability to regulate myself internally. Everyone struggles with this to some degree, but for some of us, it’s next to impossible. Some people can just “think positive” or “visualize themselves completing a task” and can light the internal spark that puts them into action. For some of us this can lead to overthinking which leads to panic, anxiety, and procrastination, or dissociating into a haze as we completely leave this world to go live in one inside our mind where we are productive, popular, and proficient. Either way, the pilot light doesn’t come on, and gas starts filling the room, and then we fall into numb apathy. And that’s when we’re not even in distress. When we’re in the midst of a storm, forget it – “positive thinking” is like a candle in a hurricane.
I’m discovering that I really need that external push and structure to be able to function well. That’s not uncommon with borderline – if you’re not able to regulate yourself, someone or something else is going to have to do it for you. We operate in chaos even though we crave peace, but when we get peace, we have no idea how to operate in it. I don’t know about you, but before I knew this about myself, I tried to join or create all sorts of things. The military, families, jobs, afterschool activities, my own business, clubs, church stuff, so much. And every time, my underlying thought was, “This will fix me. This will make me feel better.” I wanted the connection, the structure, to be able to contribute and feel competent, and be forced to follow rules and boundaries, even though I couldn’t tolerate them long term because they got boring (also a symptom of ADD).
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13