Writing While Anxious

I have figured out that my anxiety causes me to second guess myself through most of the writing process. It makes it nearly impossible to successfully brainstorm anything because I have a lot of trouble accepting that when you’re brainstorming (or whatever you want to call it) it’s completely okay to have more than one option and not know which direction you want to go. I’ve also come to recognize that this anxiety either freezes me out of writing completely or slows the entire process down to an excruciating crawl. This is especially annoying now that I’ve learned after NaNoWriMo 2019 that a writing session has the power to drastically improve my mood, probably because of how much I enjoy the writing process.

I wish that anxiety didn’t destroy my enjoyment of writing. How much I enjoy the writing process also makes the anxiety worse because I kick myself for being anxious and not writing so it’s a cycle that feeds back in on itself so it can continue on forever.

Anyways, I haven’t addressed why I’ve started writing this on this day. I wrote every day in NaNoWriMo 2019 but in December everything slowly fell apart. Part of the issue was realizing a new angle in my story which meant I had/have to go back and redo a lot of work – probably anyways. No that’s an excuse.

Since then, the longer it’s been since I’ve written I feel like I haven’t been able to write. When I think about writing I go and do something else, or push aside the thought because I have this tangled up knot inside that’s between me and my writing. I know the best way to deal with anxiety is to finally stop and face it but it’s still taken me weeks to get to the point of acknowledging this. So I’m writing this trying to face my anxiety and knowing it’s anxiety but not knowing what I should say. Even now, second guessing myself I am.

So. Writing. I have my developed idea that I started writing some scenes for in NaNoWriMo 2019. One of the problems with that story is that I don’t have that much character development completed yet. You can get so much advice on plot and setting and world building but less so characters. But I’m getting off topic again. I also have an idea that’s barely a premise that’s completely different and I’m wondering if I should switch projects and develop this old new idea. Right, that sounds like a lot of excuses now that I’ve gone back and reread it.

Anyways. I suspect anxiety is making me want to switch ideas too because getting further into an idea and having more content is overwhelming for my anxiety.

Now that I’ve babbled on about anxiety and reread my words it sounds like I’m making excuses to avoid writing so that I can avoid my anxiety but it’s not working because I’m anxious about not writing because I made a goal to have 28,000 words by 12/31/2019 and I’m still stuck on 18,000.

Ah hah! That’s the first time in my life, outside of a NaNoWriMo that I’ve made a word count goal and apparently it flew back in my face.

So no more excuses. And I need to find a new way to have goals and track progress in my writing.

NaNoWriMo 2019 – 10k word milestone

I finally reached 10,000 words! Today. And that’s okay. I think I’m excited about this but my depression makes it kind of hard to tell. My depression has been kicking my ass making everything a struggle since the time change for DST. Like a switch went off in my brain. Literally everything, from getting out of bed to eating. Anything that requires a decision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited this blog post even.

I prepared quite a lot for this year’s NaNoWriMo, putting in months of time for brainstorming and organizing my ideas. I felt pretty good going into November, except that I didn’t find a way to outline scenes that worked for my brain. I’m still having trouble outlining scenes actually.

From the first day of the month, words have been hard and they slowed down the farther into the month I got. My top word count day was 1,148 and my lowest count day was 97. The good thing is I feel like I have beginnings of some scenes. I also feel like I still have gigantic holes in my story that I’m hoping will fill in as a write.

I wish I could tell you I’ve found some kind of amazing plan that gets me over 1000 words a day every day, or something, and that’s why I’m writing this post. But no, not so far. At some point in the last week when I realized that it was depression making me struggle I decided to continue working based on the writing plan that Chuck Wendig shared on his blog quite a few years ago. So far it’s working. So far I’ve been putting the time in at my laptop until I have at least 350 words. The first 100 are the hardest. I’m going through the motions.

Instead of writing this blog post to share some amazing observation about writing, I’m writing it for everyone else out there with a chronic disease who doesn’t think they are good enough because they can’t reach 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo. You aren’t alone. Writing with chronic disease, whether it’s depression or chronic (physical) pain, is difficult, and slow.

The only way you finish is to keep going. So I’m going to keep going. I’m hoping to have 25,000 words by November 30.

It’s beginning to feel like it’s just depression

Which actually makes me feel better. Strange as that sounds. I was hoping I wouldn’t end up with winter/time change/holiday depression since changing my medicine in the first half of the year but apparently I’m not that lucky. Saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she commented that “The thoughts are cutting but you aren’t cutting.” and that’s a pretty good way to put it.

I don’t have a lot of family or things to worry about over the holidays so I feel like I shouldn’t be upset or triggered or stressed or what have you but apparently it’s not that easy. Holidays are a void I struggle with instead.

I’ve spent more time staring at my knitting thinking I should be working on something than actually knitting. I have one gift project started and a few others that have been planned but those also feel the weight of that word ‘should.’ Hmmm. Working on those gift knits would help with that aforementioned void. I bet.

With doing EMDR therapy over a month now, which is for my PTSD and dissociation and childhood trauma, I think my mood has been a little “off” as well … so add in the time of year and things have gone … somewhere.

I’m also doing NaNoWriMo but it’s kinda been a failure. I haven’t even hit 10,000 words and halfway through the month I should have at least 25,000. More words than I had November 1st. And no blog posts for over a month too! That’s a sign depression has creeped in.

Oh and can’t bring up writing without mentioning anxiety! Anxiety that won’t ever go away. Anxiety leading me to avoid things I usually like doing. Didn’t realize that was a thing I might do until recently.

My chronic diseases also haven’t been helpful but I guess they never are are they. It’s more like they’ve been more overwhelming than usual. I’ve had more back pain all the month of November so far – which doesn’t help a writing schedule one bit. I’m trying to taper down on my daily prednisone from 5 mg to 4 mg and after 2 and a half weeks maybe I’m getting back to normal. Back to normal in this case is not needing an hour nap almost every day. Still tired, but I’m mostly functioning at home.

So it’s probably not something medical, it’s probably just depression. It’s weird to hear myself say “just depression” but …. that’s how it is. At least right now. I think I get through this by going through the motions and pretending. Yea, I think that’s it. Right?

And here’s some wisdom from inspirobot. Thanks inspirobot.

Talking about EMDR

I want to write a blog post about my experiences with EMDR so far but I don’t know where to start so I’m just going to talk about EMDR for a bit. My experiences are different from others since my memories are very fragmented and my flashbacks are mostly emotional and my intrusive thoughts are for more recent events. I can access very few memories of my childhood. 

EMDR therapy is weird and hard. It can also be interesting to see what thing pops up in my brain when in the middle of EMDR therapy. There’s lots of details to the process that you can find with a simple Google search. It’s harder to find information on how it will make you feel. It took awhile for my therapist to decide that I was ready to start EMDR. Based on my experience with my therapist, you don’t start EMDR until you are ready to start EMDR. I had to get better at self soothing before starting. 

I dissociate during EMDR but I’m not reliving a specific memory/event so that’s something else that is different from what other people understand – if I understand this correctly. I’ve fought through worse episodes of dissociation too. In fact it’s different because I’m not fighting my brain to stay in the present, my brain is leading. And I’ve been okay to drive home alone after.

I’ve had 3 sessions of EMDR and none of them have been severe or distressing (yet?). I’ve also (already?) started to have memories come back outside of EMDR. That part is weird an uncomfortable but since I’m better at self-soothing and my meds have helped my nightmares it hasn’t been terrible. I’ve been nervous before each session and I don’t expect that to change. However, after the last session dealing with the post EMDR brain isn’t as hard as the time before…. So that’s obviously not going to be the same every time. 

Right, post EMDR brain is hard. The day of my appointment I end up feeling like I did something strenuous – because I did. I compare it to completing a final in college – the kind that takes like an hour in class and you walk out relieved it’s over. It’s draining because your brain is doing a lot. Last time I ended up with a migraine – but that’s not guaranteed either. I’ve had to take it easy after every (full) session of EMDR. Less focus is pretty common for me. 

Overall I can say that EMDR isn’t as scary as I imagined it but it is as hard as I imagined it to be. But healing isn’t easy. 

August writing workflow notes

I didn’t manage as much writing time in August compared to July. I think Camp NaNoWriMo was extra motivation. A big part of all of this tracking is to find what I can succeed at despite the aspec

I increased my goal past what I did in July, to 1320 minutes or about 43 minutes a day. I finished my July goal of 1080 minutes.

For August I worked for 920 minutes for the month. Few things interfered, like my birthday and some PTSD stuff. I worked on writing for 900 minutes in April so I feel like 900 is a reasonable minimum.

For tracking I made note of the estimated time I worked, the estimated total minutes I worked, and where I worked. I went to Starbucks 6 times in the month of August and 9 times in the month of July – when I wrote more.

I suspect I need to clean up clutter at home more and I’ll be less distracted when working at home.

As far as content is concerned? August was definitely a success with more details down on paper for my plot embryo and working through more of Janice Hardy’s Planning your Novel.

I continued to track what I worked on every day I wrote separate from the number/time tracking and I think that works well. I make note of what I made progress on with a + and make note of what I think I need to work on next with a bullet point. This is especially helpful when looking back on old notes.

Overall, August was still a success.

For September I’m going to make my goal 900 minutes – or 15 hours. At the current time I have ten doctor/medical appointments, including starting emdr therapy, in the month of September. This is up from August (6) so I’m not going to try increasing my goal yet.

I think, thanks to experimenting during Camp NaNoWriMo that I finally found something that helps me feel like I’m making progress in my writing, especially since I’m not actively writing and still developing and brainstorming.

I definitely recommend working on time goals in Camp NaNoWriMo if you’re trying to build a routine for writing. Appointments on a digital calendar on your phone help too.



Depression’s weakness

Image by Inspirobot - reads "Revelations are kind of a turn on" with what I think is the picture of a tall building in the background.

The other day I found myself looking at a book I was super excited about and received as a winter holidays gift some years ago. I’ve never read that book. There’s so many other books we own I haven’t read either. Why you ask? I realize now, with the work of done with a new therapist and a new psychiatrist that it’s because of depression. I always thought it was so many other things.

Staring at that book on the shelf surrounded by other books I haven’t read I decided the worst thing about depression is when you’re actually excited about the potential of something but you’ve never able to follow through. Depression taunts you with the potential of all the things you could be doing if you had the focus, energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. (That list is probably near endless. I’m trying to generalize.) You’d probably have more energy too if you weren’t looking at all the things you should or could be doing that are impossible because depression. Depression steals your action, your follow through, your doing.

It’s like a book sitting on your shelf, taunting you. Why haven’t you read me yet? Why? Why? Why?

Depression is sneaky and knows how to protect itself so it lies. It tells you there’s other answers to the questions of why. When you have depression, the answer is depression… except depression tells you it’s because you aren’t good enough, or it’s your illness (and therefore nothing you can do about it), or you’re afraid, or it’s the actions of another person, or, or, or, or….. There’s so many other answers to that question that aren’t true. (And yes, some that are, but we aren’t focusing on that right now!)

That’s depression’s weakness. You can do something about depression.

You can reach out and talk to people (even though it sounds impossible), take medicine, work with a therapist or counselor, read about techniques like cognitive behavior therapy, take different medicine (because the first one didn’t work), exercise, journal or write, eat chocolate, and … something that works for you that I haven’t thought of … It’s a long list. You might have to find what works but I promise something does.

Important note: I assume you have access to healthcare which also means you can also afford healthcare.

Doing something about depression is work. But it’s work worth doing because you can get back to doing life instead of just wishing you could do life.

One more important note. The details and feelings of depression are different for different people so maybe this doesn’t apply to you. (Like I have chronic illnesses and other mental illnesses so my depression is different.) Also, I’m not talking about being glum or sad or down for a few weeks or having bad days. I’m talking about being diagnosed with depression (or needing diagnosed with depression). If you want definitions, go here.

National Suicide Prevention Life Line

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Trans Lifeline

I am a survivor

I am the sum of all my parts. Even the broken bits and the parts I don’t like. The cracks are proof that I’m still alive.

People tell people with chronic illnesses to not let their illness define their identity. People say are you sure you want that ‘label’ in relation to being diagnosed with mental illness(es).

Well. Chronic illness makes you feel all kinds of things. I’ve come to believe that people without chronic illnesses don’t understand how it’s part of your identity and always will be. Every time I leave the house I have to account for a list of things a ‘normal and healthy’ person doesn’t. That’s part of who I am.

The same goes for mental illness. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression over a decade again. In the past 5(?) years I started to wonder that there was something else. There were other things about my brain that made life hard to cope with, and they weren’t anxiety or depression. There’s been so many times I felt broken. Because I couldn’t remember something (from yesterday, this morning, or three years ago) or confused because I forgot where I was going when I was halfway there. I often feel disconnected – from everything – including myself. My therapist at the time dismissed these concerns. More than once. Hindsight says why didn’t I go elsewhere? But logically, I know it’s because I was too busy trying not to drown. (Now I know what a shitty therapist is like.)

Before now I was scared to learn more about my traumatic first five years of life and how that trauma effects me as an adult. Neglect and abandonment are just the traumas I know of for sure. In fact I have focused on my physical health until the last year or so. I wanted to be “normal” so I could go back to work. In that time my mental health suffered more. Probably. And I’ve survived too much stuff to be “normal” – but that’s the thing. I was strong enough to survive.

Last year I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and PTSD. (It’s probably cPTSD but I haven’t remembered to ask my doctor.) So I have more labels. But the labels are important because now I can get the treatment I need.

Now I understand much about the effects of trauma on the body, how these effects stick around, and what I can do to heal. I’m working on it and I still feel broken but now more importantly I realize I’m a survivor. Understanding trauma has given me some answers but theres so answers I’ll never have.

I’m broken and sometimes I feel like a mess but I’m still whole. I’m sick but that doesn’t make me less. I’m strong and I’ve always been stronger than I realize. I’m a survivor.

…. This post has sat as a draft for a long time. I’ve edited it a few times. I’m not sure the point, but I still feel I should publish it instead of deleting it.

Research: Borderline Personality Disorder and migraines

Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management — National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). from 2007 but the link to the full pdf can be found here

Borderline personality disorder and migraine. Study from 2007, full article behind pay wall.

Relationship between borderline personality disorder and migraine. Study from 2017. full article behind pay wall.

This one upsets me because doctors seem to group everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder and migraines together, saying they will all abuse their medicine, which isn’t true. Borderline Personality Disorder and the Chronic Headache
Patient: Review and Management Recommendations

This one is a little better because it notes where more research is needed. Personality traits, personality disorders, and migraine: a review

But I still cannot find the article I stumbled on that says people with Borderline Personality Disorder often have longer lasting, more difficult to treat migraines. It sounded like the type of migraine that occasionally destroys my life for the past 5-6 years.

Mental illness and the medical industry

inspirobot meme: Words say "Friendship is life itself. Life itself is friendship."

I really have no idea how to title this post, let alone start it, past picking an image from inspirobot. But here it goes —

As I learn more and more about my PTSD I realize more and more about how ignorant medical professionals and staff are (seemingly willfully at times) about mental illness. The people I expect to have some kind of awareness or understanding seem to have none. Initially I found this shocking, at this point, it’s unsurprising and tiring. I also realize experiences similar to mine – and worse – are not uncommon. I’m referring only to my personal experiences here.

Recently FB memories reminded me that in January 2014 I was basically assaulted and abused by ER staff. Part of the experience included me blacking out, I only know because my husband was present. Through my entire time there, when I was desperate to receive care when my migraines – which had just started to become severe – things continued to be handled badly. (There’s a thing known as patient’s rights – I’m not sure they respected any of them). I didn’t report any of the hospital staff’s behavior because it was too traumatic and I was too new to the going to an ER for a migraine experience. I tried to move on. I thought moving on would be better, safer, easier. It took at least 3 years to stop feeling like I was there when I remembered anything from that night. When I remember it now, it’s closer to a regular memory.

The FB post that triggered quite a few memories:

Reading the memory and posting about it triggered other memories including parts of an interaction with my previous counselor. I can remember talking about having flashbacks to being in the ER, and being confused and scared. I was questioning if they were flashbacks, questioning if it was a sign of PTSD. I was probably in some kind of crisis. She said yes, it’s post traumatic but no it’s definitely not PTSD. Denied that I had any further problems, just was having isolated problems with a difficult experience. Dismissed my emotions.

Not once, in the 4-5 years, with a visit every month on average, that I met with this woman did she ever consider that maybe she should send me to another professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist. I have come to realize that she denied any chance of me having anything more than anxiety or depression – continually. Almost regularly. I must have started seeing her in 2012 or 2013, well before January 2014 when the shit happened in the ER. She offered me bandaids, and occasional realizations like a few sips of a cool drink, but nothing to actually help me understand my behavior.

I’ve come to learn that her behavior was at least in part, because of the stigma in the medical/healthcare industry that people with mental illness will try to collect more mental illness diagnoses. Sure, some might feel that it’s helpful to do this. I’m not judging them. But not all of us do. When I finally sought testing – an idea she resisted – after learning I might/probably/do have borderline personality disorder, she still resisted this idea and disagreed – but never elaborated on why.

So that’s four years of worsening symptoms – flashbacks, blackouts, dissociating for sometimes days, severe mood swings, and severe migraines triggered by psychological stresses – that maybe I could have had help with sooner. Because I wasn’t educated enough and because this (older) woman was so stuck in her ways of thinking, including her mental health stigmatization, I continued at many times, to not do much better than survive.

I think I have to continue to try to “move on” from all of this. Writing out this jumble might help. Since then I’ve started seeing a new counselor, further trained, and therefore prepared to help me understand my behavior. The new counselor has been a fresh and new experience. I wish that I had sought out testing and “fresh eyes” much sooner than I did but for so many reasons I didn’t. I wish I had “fired” her sooner. Sometimes I debate one more appointment with her to ask why she disagrees with my BPD and PTSD diagnoses/symptoms/presentations. But that’s a $50 question.

I think it’s also important to note that I have found it necessary to only tell some of my doctors that I was diagnosed with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder – because of the stigma, especially of Borderline Personality Disorder – thanks in a large part to TV.

Navigating the (American) healthcare system is difficult in general, and an especially exhausting and stressful ordeal if you are trying to get help for your mental health – assuming you can even afford to do so. Everyone’s experiences with mental illness are different, and everyone’s experiences with medical professionals are different too. Also remember, medical professionals are humans too. Unfortunately, sometimes I think some of them need reminded.

So my point. If you have mental illness and you are trying to get help, keep at it. It’s difficult and scary but worth it in the long run. It took me from July 2018 to November 2018 to finish psychological testing, get all the results, find a new counselor and find a psychiatrist. Now I have a counselor I appreciate and trust who’s warm and friendly. The psychiatrist I found (on the second try) seems to be really laid back and competent.

And if you know someone with mental illness – even if you have mental illness – offer them empathy. Educate yourself. Keep an open mind. Ask them how you can help. Don’t tell them what to do – which is hard when you see people in pain. Sadly, some people will also be in denial all their lives too – but that’s their choice because everyone has to seek care at their own pace.

Remember, you aren’t alone.

My Most Successful NaNoWriMo Ever

I did a lot different this year. I used some bullet journal style tracking including my word count for the day and a sentence about what I did.  I wrote down a variety of things for inspiration or brain storming. I prepared for NaNoWriMo by setting up a process and working on *my* process.

I realized some things. Like when you’re developing a story you don’t need to pick the perfect option or motivation for your character now, you can consider every single option you can think of. Silly things. I realized silly things. But important nonetheless.

This is the first year I’ve ended NaNoWriMo with multiple story ideas. I’ve done enough work now to recognize some trends in my own writing ideas – so there’s a story I want to tell. But there’s other ideas I haven’t figured out yet. For example, writing a character with mental illness who still manages to be successful and kept together and, well, a hero (or heroine).

My goal became to write for 30 days in a row. I did not have enough of my story developed to actually write scenes and dialog and content. I spent a lot on further development – because I was trying to cram too much into 1 story? I also arbitrarily assigned myself a word count goal of 16,000 – and also removed/rewrote a chunk of 700 words and still kept over the 16,000 words.

My next steps: 1. Set up scrivener files for each story idea. 2. Figure out how to track progress and word counts. Progress is story specific, word count doesn’t need to be story specific. 3. Start Chuck Wendig’s No Fuckery Writing Plan. Like officially. 4. Writing next will be outlines for at least 2 of the 3 stories. The third story is probably a short story? It’s got to sit and simmer for a while so it’s decide if I want to bounce around or focus on 1 at a time.

See that?  A plan!

I’ve had improvements in my physical health in the last few months – and now better mental health treatment in the last 2 months – and I think that’s helping more than I can possibly explain. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2012 —-

— This is the first year I’ve felt I have something I can continue to work on. Mental health treatment probably has a great deal to do with that. I’ll know more for certain after I’ve done more work on my mental health/well being. I have this funny feeling as I write this blog post. I think it might be pride and accomplishment because I did a thing! Emotions are confusing and hard. Anyways –

If you’re a writer, or trying to be a writer, and dealing with depression, anxiety, ptsd, or any kind of mental illness. You aren’t alone, keep at it. As they say, “Your story isn’t over yet;” Also Chuck Wendig has  lot of good things to say on the subject.

What mind am I in today?

Here’s a poem (?) I wrote sometime in the past few months when I decided to do some writing about mental health and my mental illness symptoms.  I don’t remember writing it. It sorta sounds like me but doesn’t all at the same time. I can’t tell if it still needs an ending/if it’s complete. I’ll leave the interpretation up to the reader.

Some days I don’t like living in my mind

The weather is always changing.
Nothing is where I remember leaving it.
Doors that were open yesterday are locked today.
Stairs and routes from rooms to rooms change, often overnight.
Windows don’t work right, they won’t shut or they won’t open. The blinds will get stuck too.
Sometimes I wish it was brighter so it would be easier to find my memories.
Other times I wish I had more rugs.
You can sweep things under rugs but eventually the rugs stop laying flat and you trip.
There’s no way to forecast the weather, it can change stormy in a breath –
Or be calm and quiet in a breath.
Days and days everything will be as I expect
But then
Something happens. Someone happens. Time passes.
And the rules.
My mind has so many rules to keep track of too.
Rules for talking to people, feeling, being alone. Rules that have nothing to do with my body.
Some days everything is stress. Everything is bad.
Sometimes I can’t leave the house. I can’t deal with anyone.

Why I Hate Breaking in New Doctors

A memory is a winning strategy. Like human sacrifice.I could title this all kinds of different things, like Why the US Healthcare System Fails People with Chronic Illness, or Please Will More Doctors be Honest with their Patients. Or something about how chronic illnesses and mental illnesses together make doctors afraid of you.

I saw a new psychiatrist today. I haven’t seen a psychiatrist in over a decade, partly because of all the other doctors I see or have seen. I mention that because I’ve gone through what feels like a thousand new patient appointments with new doctors. Lately they all go pretty much the same. If I’m lucky they’ll have a tidbit of insight or confirm something and agree with someone else. I’ve had good and bad experiences with new doctors. You can feel anywhere from validated to broken.

It’s probably worth noting that when I fill out the paperwork that doctors request their new patients fill out, I include my own lists for my medication, health history (or diagnoses), and allergies. The preferred (better) response to this is appreciate for the clear and thorough information. The not preferred response is shock and awe.

As you probably guessed, the doctor I saw today was shocked and in awe. Her eyes widened at least three times. She couldn’t believe my list of allergies or medicines, and stumbled over my medical history. I think her jaw dropped once? More than once she asked a question that would be answered by reading 6 to 10 more words of the paperwork she was already reading. She picked out the medicine she doesn’t prescribe because it’s “very old” as well as commenting how I’m on “so many” sedating medications. (I don’t think she read the word “as needed”.) She commented on my xanax prescription, probably because she doesn’t prescribe it, but offered no alternatives.

All of this happened while she was firing questions at me. She moved quickly but didn’t specifically rush me. She was very nice but also clearly overwhelmed. She was even surprised at the number of doctors I have – which shouldn’t be a surprise in the US healthcare system after you see the number of diagnoses a person has received. She also assumed I wanted more medicine since she told me that considering the medicines I’m already on, she doesn’t want to give me more medicines. (If I had a nickel for every time…..)

And one I haven’t heard before….   she didn’t want to get in the way of any of my other doctors. Psychiatry is very specific the last time I checked, if she’s willing to send records to other doctors then she’s working with them, not interfering.

Probably the most interesting? successful? useful? part of the entire experience? Within 5 minutes of talking to me and looking at my paperwork, she asked if I was ever diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This means that I’ve had a doctor at Mayo Clinic, psychological testing, and a random psychiatrist all have the same “opinion” – that I do have Borderline Personality Disorder. But no one wants to make recommendations on medications.

She had very little to say about the problems I described with my memory, including lost time, and how through working with my new therapist I’ve come to learn I probably/likely/definitely have PTSD.

She clearly felt I was beyond her capabilities but never actually said this. Really good doctors say this! Great doctors explain why!

In fact, I even felt like she wanted to run away. As she was leading me back out of her office towards the front desk she was walking fast enough to disappear behind the turns in the hall. I’m accustomed to people waiting for you or giving you directions. Logically I know that this was probably the way my brain interpreted the situation – and probably not what happened – but I still feel like subconsciously she was trying to get rid of me/get away from me. It’s super weird to hold both those thoughts at the same time.

No, I’m not expecting a new doctor to have answers –  but the more people involved in a problem, the more likely you are of finding some kind of help. If you can’t help me, refer me to another doctor, please! Or if you aren’t sure how you can help, tell me. This appointment wasn’t bad or terrible, but it wasn’t productive or pleasant either.

Ultimately, she referred me to another place to receive this thing called TMS that’s supposed to help treat depression. I have an appointment tomorrow for a “cost free consult” so we’ll see. Not holding my breath. Insurance, time, and money all figure in.

I’ll need to try another psychiatrist but it’ll likely be a few weeks. Finding a new psychiatrist is difficult on my mental health. Especially with my other doctor appointments and trying to build a relationship with a new therapist. The first psychiatrist I tried never returned  my calls (2 left over 3 days with a message that calls are returned same business day!). So I guess this was a slight improvement. Maybe the third try will be a success.

*image courtesy of inspiro bot. Seemed appropriate based on the various blank spots of various sizes that I have in my memory.

Fitbit heart rate tracking illustrating stress

I find it fascinating to see the effects of physical and psychological stress evident because of tracking sleep, heart rate, and activity level via my fitbit. Because of my personal physical and mental illnesses I overreact to stress at like a biological level.

Here’s some screenshots of my heart rate history…..

This first picture shows my week at Mayo Clinic. The highlighted day, May 25, was a Friday and the last day I had an appointment. I went home May 26. This was one of the most stressful experiences of my life.

Now for the next screenshot. This one is slightly different. It shows the first day I felt better after getting sick after getting home from my trip to Mayo.

Third one shows an instance where I wasn’t as stressed as I thought while still being super stressed and upset… I had a number of distressing or anxious experiences. One triggered a 1.5 day migraine that I think was followed by a dissociative episode lasting 4? days. July 13 was the day after I received my first round of neuro/psych testing results and was extremely frustrated by the news.

And the last picture. This is the day after I had my appointment about all of my neuro/psych testing. This time I finally had a doctor ask me the right questions and confirm there’s something else different about my mental health and identity something I can do to make my life easier. It’ll take work but maybe I can spend less time on a roller coaster.

This post brought to you by early morning insomnia.

Why we can’t have nice things: Fear and Mental Illness

I started writing this post back in June. Why didn’t I publish it? —

I don’t have the ‘official’ diagnosis for BPD or borderline personality disorder yet. However, from what little I’ve read it explains so much. More things keep ‘clicking’ and if I don’t end up with this diagnosis I’ll be asking the doctor what looks like BPD but isn’t.

Recently, I read this from Psychology Today. It’s about people with BPD fearing what their emotions will do. The article says it better. Then things just clicked. HOLY Fucking SHIT I keep getting answers. This article even potentially explains what happened when my physical health became worse.

I live in fear and I feel like very little is under my control.

Fear that something bad is going to happen. Fear that someone is going to think something bad of me. Fear that something bad is going to happen to a person close to me. Fear that I will upset someone. Fear I will overreact to something small and mundane and not be able to calm down. Fear that something physically is going to happen to me when I’m not at home and I won’t be prepared – like a sudden migraine or an allergic reaction. Fear of getting lost. Fear of what will happen if I end up upset and can’t control it and end up more upset. Fear of losing friends if they _____. Fear of harassment on the Internet. Fear of having to wait 30 minutes or more for a doctor appointment. Some of these fears I’ve been able to logically move past. Some of these fears I think I cope with by just not feeling.

I didn’t realize it was fear until after all my testing for personality disorders and after reading that article. This explains why I find compartmentalizing my emotions so dangerous. If I ‘save it up’ to feel later it will be so much worse, especially because I’m afraid of what will happen. And I’ll forget about it, until it comes back, like because something has triggered an emotion or memory.

Rereading this, most of it seems ridiculous. I’m not actively fearing for my life. I live in a relatively safe area. I isolate myself quite often and literally have less of a chance of being in a dangerous situation. But mental illness is ridiculous. Mental illness is illogical. It’s difficult. I’m going to go out on the metaphorical limb here and assume I was afraid to make these words public, despite the fact that in terms of the Internet in 2018 my blog basically doesn’t exist. Again, mental illness doesn’t make sense.

More logically, I didn’t post this because I’m still waiting to hear back from the doctor in charge of looking at all the testing I did for personality disorders. The initial information I received in early July is that I have depression and anxiety. That’s it. There was something about not exhibiting behavior for BPD. I still have so many questions. But that doesn’t explain so many things. I’ve realized a good chunk of my daily behavior is impulsive. From stress eating almost daily to suddenly getting up in the middle of a TV show because I decided to do something else like go play a game on my computer to deciding to clean out the closet. My impulsive behavior is collecting hundreds of kindle samples and thousands of knitting patterns. Or starting 8 different books before I decide to actually read one. Deciding I need a new pair of shoes today. Then there’s the mood swings and the times where I don’t remember what I did all day, even when I try. It’s not like when you can’t remember what you ate for dinner last night. It’s because there’s a dark hole in my mind instead of memories. I fear something happening that will remind me of a bad experience and then my emotions will stir up – like a sudden summer storm that might spawn a tornado.

And leaving the house. Oh. Leaving the house and being around people is exhausting. Conversations have so many rules to follow. Small talk is tedious. Avoiding people is easier. Driving somewhere is stressful. You can’t trust drivers around you. Most people drive distracted. If I get cut off or something else sudden happens I could spend hours shaking from the jump in my heart rate. Then there’s the physical problems like making sure I have snacks because it’s so hard to find something safe to eat outside of the house. It’s so much easier to stay home, inside, away from everything. Besides, home has netflix and our cats and a supply of chocolate.

Because of my health and my anxiety, I spend all day trying to keep my thoughts, emotions, and impulses under control. I can’t go shopping because I don’t have a job and we have a mortgage. I can’t just go for a walk because it’s summer in Texas and my body doesn’t tolerate heat over like 77 degrees (F). I can’t spend hours in the kitchen baking because I won’t be able to do anything after I’m done – and I don’t know if I’ll be able to clean up everything before it’s time for dinner. I’m jealous of people who can drink alcohol and eat whatever they want. I’ve started to impulsively “break” my diet. I’m gluten intolerant and it clearly still causes problems but I’ve started eating foods with gluten again. Thankfully I’ve been on a high dose of a mood stabilizer for years. I still have mood swings. I’m afraid of the mood swings now. Or something triggering me into feeling overwhelmed by emotion. I’m afraid because every time something happens that’s difficult, it’s harder to calm down afterwards. Harder and harder. And the migraines. Because some things are better I can see how stress triggers the migraines. Last time I had a migraine I lost 5 days. I don’t remember what I did.

I suspect? Assume? I fear?  Probably fear. That when I finally hear back from the doctor who is in charge of the neuro-psychological testing I completed in the end of June and being of July he’s going to tell me I don’t have BPD at the current time because I don’t have the extreme behavior – because I limit and control myself via anxiety and fear. And then that means I’ll have mental illness symptoms that doctors can’t explain on top of my long list of physical symptoms that doctors cannot explain when all I want is help to straighten out my mental health so that maybe just maybe my physical symptoms will calm down too. I’m afraid this doctor does not truly understand what living with chronic illness and chronic pain means.

*scrolls back up*

So I guess I didn’t publish that post because I knew I had a lot more to say and I didn’t want to face it. (And if you read the entirety of this blog post hopefully it wasn’t as painful as I imagine it to be. You deserve a cookie, or a strong drink, or some ice cream. (Also, I’m afraid to reread this for edits or I might not publish it.))

My mind is a place I don’t want to be and I don’t know what to do about it. I think that means I don’t know who I am either. 

And not remembering how I feel at home when I can’t bear to leave the house when I do actually leave the house to see doctors isn’t helping.


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