My Best Friend Has Borderline Personality Disorder

When I look at this I can't help but be amazed!

When I look at this I can’t help but be amazed!

What do you do when your best friend is near rock bottom and has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and you have Bipolar Type 1 and you’re doing pretty well. At least, when I compare how we’re both doing I’m doing better than she is I’m doing better than she is.

Do I avoid talking about how I’m doing and play down my successes? Do I focus on trying to help her feel better (I don’t think it’s possible to talk a person who is BPD into feeling better.) There are a lot of ways to approach this problem.

I decided to step up to the plate as it were and take a chance on getting more involved and trying to understand her illness more so when we talk I can have a better chance of understanding what’s going on in her head.

We were texting on Facebook yesterday and she wasn’t doing well (as is her normal state). She was especially down because she was ruminating over her wife divorcing her. She couldn’t let go of thinking about it. I know for certain that rumination is one of the worst things anyone can do especially over something like that.

I was reading one of my blog visitors blogs today and she was talking about how stupid her doctor/psych is and how impossible it is to get help from (I’m taking liberties now) someone you don’t respect intellectually. My friend feels that way too. (As do I)

I can’t talk her down. I’m not able to do that. Yes, I can “just be her friend and listen”, but when you’re very depressed you often don’t feel like talking. Anyone agree with that? I do. Texting seems to give her the ability to respond. Maybe because I’m not right there and there is emotional physical distance. I’m not an immediate threat. She can just close her laptop if she doesn’t want to talk.

I’ve decided to dig deep and try to help her and not just listen. That means I have to spend some time learning about her condition and understanding how it’s different from mine. Do I really want to give up my “feel good time” to expose myself to someone who is so very depressed? Yes, she’s my best friend.

The first thing I thought of was that we needed some kind of common ground. I realized that with her on the other side of the country maybe the best way to do that might be a book. I have a book that teaches mindfulness and it occurred to me that this might be something that might work for her to. It turns out we have the same book: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & … Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook). As you can see from the title it has a section on mindfulness. Now I haven’t been tremendously successful practicing mindfulness, but it gives us something common to talk about even if it’s just talking about how bad we are at it.

It’s important for me not to abandon my friend. Right now, I’m doing pretty well. It’s a good time to give her a hand to grab on to. She’s been there for me when she’s been down. I don’t know how she’s managed it, but she has.

She read my post on AWE and said her mother says something similar to her. She thought it was a good thing to do. I don’t know that she CAN do it right now. But cognitively, she understands it.

She said something that gave me insight into myself that I’d not thought of before and it’s a big difference between the two of us and may be why I’m more likely to be doing better than she is. She said that when I have problems. I work through them. I’m a problem solver. (My words) I don’t just sit there overwhelmed. As soon as I can I start looking for answers and try to fix myself. I fight back. She can’t do that. She just gets overwhelmed and sits there and talks herself into feeling worse.

She’s right. I do like to problem solve. While I’m dedicated to working to deal with my bipolar, I’m willing to try to help her however I can. And if right now that means just sharing how I’m dealing with my problems, then that’s what I’m going to do. She’s better than I am at reaching through my personal crap to help another.

What have I learned recently that I think can help her? That I need to identify my triggers and when they happen I need to take action and keep them from making things worse. And, look for awe. Be amazed by the love that her dogs look at her with. Watch the sun go down and be in awe of the beauty of it.

I don’t have a medical degree, but I have over 50 years of dealing with bipolar, ADHD, anxiety, and more recently PTSD. I presented with bipolar in my teens but wasn’t diagnosed till after I had all three of my kids. It explained so much.

I love the way the community here reaches out to one another. I appreciate it whenever I hear from any of you. If you have any ideas on how I can help my friend other than just being a good listener (and I try to ask good questions) please let me know. I’d appreciate the input.

Uniquely Bipolar Me

[I’m putting this in “I” language, but I mean you too.]

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
TS Eliot,  Bipolar Disorder

Simply put we don’t really know what causes bipolar, but current science guesses that Bipolar Disorder is caused by a chemical, a biological imbalance in my brain. Every person has a unique brain, but my bipolar brain came with some even more unusual stuff going on. I don’t have a “normal” brain. My brain has been kissed by the divine. (Wouldn’t that be cool!)

There has never been anyone like me and there never will be again. I are uniquely unique. I am special and have extra possibilities to achieve great things. (Delusions of grandeur? I don’t think so. If you google “famous people with bipolar disorder” you will be surprised by the number of people who had/have it.)  All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been different than the ones most people go through because of my bipolar. I am a different person than I would be than if I didn’t have bipolar. There is nothing I can do to change this. I will always have a special brain.

All the struggles I have gone through to get to this point have been extraordinary. I can’t help consider it now I wonder what I would be like and how my life would be different if I had not had this disability. But, that’s not how things worked out for me. There is really no point in wishing for a “better” life than I have. That might actually trigger an episode. I’d rather not do that. I have enough stresses in my life right now, I don’t need to add to the list.

My struggles have made me who I am today and now that I’m here I choose to go forward and live my best life. What does that mean and how do I do it? I’m going to spend some time over the next little while exploring these things and share with you my journey as I go through it.

Moving forward is pretty easy to spell out. I must not pretend that I’m normal while I’m in a pretty semi-stable state. I must try to grow and become a better person… to mature, while I have control over my emotional faculties. I am spending time preparing ways to deal with myself when I have an episode. I don’t want to get caught without a plan to fall back on. I know that may sound ridiculous, how can I prepare how to deal with an episode when every single one is different and while in one I generally can’t control my emotions? That’s a good question. I’ll tell you about it next time.  ;0)

I read books on self-improvement and try to learn new things that will help me in my personal and professional life. I try to connect with people who I would avoid when I’m depressed. And I try really hard to relax and have fun!

References:
Causes of bipolar
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/basics/causes/con-20027544
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/bipolardisorder/causes.cfm

 

Whose Crazy Now?

I want to tell you a true story that is taking place in my life and the lives of those I love right now. I’m changing everyone’s name but my son’s and my own to be polite. If you think you see yourself, congratulations.

As you turn onto our road and begin to slowly pass the mailboxes on the left you may notice two duplexes on the right. We live in the first one on the right. Once upon a time, Misty and her son DJ lived in the first house of the second duplex. That’s how we knew them. We were just neighbors. Over time our sons got to be friends and over the years have remained so. I’ve never cared for Misty, DJ’s mom. She treats her kids poorly and is just mean. When she and her son would wrestle when he was young she would grab onto his balls and hang on. Okay she’s like half his size, but that’s not an okay thing to do to your own son.

Let me paint you a picture of the woman. She had some friend of hers staying with her for a while. They got drunk, as they often did, and Misty threw the other woman out of the house. The other woman came to my house. It was the middle of the night. Why my house? I don’t know. I didn’t know her. She was drunk and begged me to let her send the rest of the night. What was I supposed to do? We live in the middle of nowhere. There was literally no place for her to do. So I let her in to sleep on the sofa.

I had been saving some of those mini bottles of booze for several years. They were sort of decorations. She found them and drank them all. She cried hysterically and carried on about things you carry on about when you’re drunk and talking to someone you don’t know. In the morning she left.

That day I got a phone call from my landlord, who was also Misty’s landlord, asking if I had a new roommate living with me. I’m like excuse me? No I don’t. (The woman had been staying at Misty’s for several weeks.) Misty had called our landlord to get me in trouble for letting her friend in my house.

This is who Misty is.

DJ and his girlfriend Sienna live with his cousin and two other people in a house about 20 minutes from here. After knowing DJ’s cousin, Maryanne, for more than two years Kyle and she noticed each other and started dating.

-skip ahead three months-

DJ and his girlfriend Sienna and Maryanne and Kyle have decided to move out and get a place to rent together. Kyle agreed to stay with me until I move into town. I’m looking for a house now too.

While Kyle and Maryanne are there watching TV the other night Misty pops her head in the room and tells Maryanne that she has 30 days to get out. Then she popped back out. That’s all she said. She still hasn’t explained or spoken about it to anyone.

DJ, having had his mother already beaten him into submission, hasn’t even asked his mother why she’s kicked Maryanne out. What did she do? I’d like to know since my son is moving in with her. What’s up?

Yesterday Maryanne is talking to DJ about moving and planning because they’ve all decided to move out with her instead of waiting another couple of months and he tells her he’s decided he can’t move out because he needs to get his truck fixed so that it will pass emissions, which it apparently will not do now. This is the first Maryanne has heard that she’s on her own. She fell apart.

The next morning before work my son informed me of the situation. Last night he let me now he was going to be moving in with her so she wouldn’t be alone.

Pshit

The plan was for the three of them to move into a house in a few months with Kyle joining them as soon as I move into town. I live in a very large duplex in the woods. Often at night the coyotes scream and freak me out. I’m pretty sure the homeless squatters have moved on from the house behind us. At least, I think they have.

I have to admit that I’ve not lived alone since 1986. I don’t know how I feel about being alone. I have my wonderful dog Bailey (she’s a cattle dog) and our two aging cats to keep me company.

My bipolar is basically in pretty stable right now. In other words I’m doing pretty well. My last child is moving out and I’m looking for a house to move into. Add to that some other family drama and the fact that I’m not going to school this quarter and you have a mix for remission to be reactivated. I have no intention of letting that happen. I’ve fought too hard to get to the point where I am now.

I wrote about something that saved me back at the end of autumn quarter, I think it will continue to be my friend now.

Thank you doctor, for my little chill pill.

Whose crazy now?

Friends

If you were here the other day you might remember I suggested that you get out and do something the way I’ve gone back to college.

You don’t have to go to college. That’s a big commitment that I recommend to only a few, but you can do other things. Join a bowling league or volunteer some place in your community. Take an art class or even teach one. Visit your neighbors and family more often. Start a small group of friends that meets together regularly to play cards or go out to dinner or the movies. Do something. I can’t stress how important this is. Why am I urging you to put yourself out there? There are a few reasons but the one I want to focus on today is people.

One of the things I’ve learned in my psychology class (and I’ve always known this) is that people need each other. We need someone to talk to. Even if we have a single good friend or are close to a family member… we need other people in our lives.

If you’re like me when you’re depressed you tend to isolate yourself from everyone. This is just one really good reason why it is important to grow our relationships when we’re doing better. We need these relationships in place and secure before we have our next flip out.

Now I’m not suggesting that you use this person must be your emergency person and that you lean on them, and depend on them like a lifeline. Although that may be what your relationship is like. I’m talking about having real people in your life to meet your real life and every day relationship needs. We live longer and are happier when we have people we care about in our lives. It’s really true.

I’ve been spending time trying to cultivate relationships with some of my closer family members and a friend I’ve had for many years. I’ve also been trying to reach out online to meet people and try to develop some new friendships here. The friend I’m closest to I met online over 15 years ago and I cherish her friendship even today. She knows more about me and my “conditions” than my family members do.

It takes time and patience. Lots of time. Right now I’m blogging more and reading other people’s blogs and trying to see if I connect with anyone. And there’s a local writer’s group that gets together to write at the local library every few weeks that I’ve been trying to go to. I keep missing that opportunity. There is a meeting this Sunday but I’m working on finals and a big portfolio that’s all due next week so I can’t make this particular meeting. But you know what? They’ll have another one and one of these days it will work out and I’ll get my scared little butt over there and meet some new people.

My point is just this… we each need to have other people in our lives. It’s how we’re made. If we want to be healthy and have a better chance of surviving the days when the depression is smothering us or the mania has got us doing a fire walk then having friends is really important. If we have friends who care about us and whom we care about we have a better chance of being stable too.

Give it a try. You could even write to me. I’ll write back. No promises on being besties, but I’ll write back. Or, you could write a note to some other blogger you particularly enjoy. Tell them how what they write makes you feel or just say thanks. Strike up a conversation. You’ll never know until you try.