I Make Them Uncomfortable

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The rule of them when speaking about mental illness is simple. You don’t. You keep your mouth shut, slap on a smile, and deal with it behind closed doors.

It makes them uncomfortable. It’s hush hush. They like to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

I make them uncomfortable. Because I’m not quiet. I speak up, and I make it loud. I let the ugly monster show it’s face. I don’t play nice. I don’t put on a fake smile as much any more. I talk about what people want to pretend doesn’t exist. I show them we aren’t what they show on television. I show them that we could be anyone you care about.

Sure, they want us to get help. They want us better. That’s what they like to hear about. They like to hear about how Susan down the street with a rich husband was able to take a nice little getaway for her mental health. They like to hear about the hot guy two cubicles down talk about how jogging helped his depression.

Guess what- we aren’t all Susan. We aren’t all some hot guy at work. It gets ugly. It gets painful. You can’t pretend to want us to get help if you won’t support is.

It’s a lonely road because of our forced silence.

I quit that silence, and people don’t like that. People don’t like to hear that I had a breakdown. People don’t like to hear about how I had a panic attack. People don’t like to hear about how I had a binge last night, and nearly threw up. People don’t want to see the truth.

They want easy. They want the other side of the rainbow without dealing with getting there.

You can’t have it both ways.

I’m an addict. I’ll stand up and say it whether you think that’s a “very personal topic” and “needs to be discussed discreetly”. Well, you can fuck right off there, you neurotypical bitch. Addicts are less likely to get help for this reason. We’re less likely to say we’ve relapsed, or that it’s a rough day and we need, oh, I don’t know? Fucking support??

I suffer (yes, fucking suffer) from more than one mental illness. I won’t fake it like your wife there, pretty boy, because “that’s unladylike” or something. I won’t hide behind closed doors while breaking down alone because society is so damn selfish and lacking in empathy they’re uncomfortable with the concept that sometimes a pill and talking doesn’t cut it.

There’s something I noticed lately. The more I posted about recovery in any way- the less people interacted with me. The more I posted information about things that effect my life in a massive way- the less involved they were in my life.

Smile, don’t be depressed. Do yoga. Exercise. Go jogging. Paint.

But god fucking forbid you talk. God fucking forbid you work on erasing the very dangerous stigma around mental illnesses. Because that would make people come out of their little bubble of ignorance. And they like that bliss.

Pop, mother fucker.

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Hello, sailor

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I’ve mentioned before how much I suck at relationships. Pretty much of all kinds.

In 2008, I met Anthony at work. He was the one training me. At the time, I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. Just 2 weeks later, and me and my cat were packed up, and living with him. He’s been through so much shit with me it’s insane.

From day one, our relationship was looked down on. Why? Because I was 19, and he was 42. Simply from them looking at us, they judged. We were called disgusting, people would glare, leave the line we were in, and I’m sure people talked among themselves.

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That’s our very first picture together.

He’s dealt with my highs, my lows, the days where I want fuck all to do with anyone, and everything in between. Talking about putting up with someone, man.

On November 15, 2013- I remember because it’s the day before my birthday- I was finally given diagnoses that made sense. Before then I was scrambling. I told him what my therapist had told me, and he didn’t even blink. He knew life would get harder before it got better. I can barely put up with myself, yet he does it, and has for over 9 years.

For 4 months after my rape, I didn’t hold his hand, I don’t remember kissing him, or sleeping curled up next to him like I had for years before. Not once did he get upset with me. He let me go at my own pace, and still does. I wasn’t big on physical contact before that, and it just made it worse. He understood how it effected my anxiety, and to this day, if I see a man in a military uniform, I freak. We were in a gas station, and about 5-10 came in. I told him I couldn’t do it. He simply handed me the keys, told me to breath, and that he’d be out with our drinks in a minute. He pushes me to be more, but never, ever, does he push me out of my comfort zone.

I can sit here and know with 100% certainty, that if he hadn’t saved me from that relationship, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t be alive. He literally saved my life. Still does.

I’m on birth control for migraines. That’s $10.
I’m on thyroid pills because I only have half. That’s $10.
I’m on Trazodone because I don’t sleep well. That’s another $4.
I’m on Vyvance for binge eating. That’s $50.
I’m on Viibryd for anxiety/depression. That’s another $50.

Those all get refilled the beginning of the month. That’s nearly $125 just for me. Thankfully, my birth control and thyroid meds are 3 month supplies. That’s not including my copious amount of doctor’s visits- primary, therapy, and dermatology. One appointment is a $12 copay, plus gas.

It all adds up. I have the worst luck when it comes to health, and he just shifts life to work around it. I’ve spent years saying I’m sorry for things that I had no control over, and I still do. He doesn’t need me to, though. He gets that I get worn out, he gets that I get overwhelmed, and he gets that half the time I can’t even explain to him what’s going on in my head.

I spent ages hiding that something was wrong. I spent years pretending that I didn’t need help. That’s what you do, right? Because being mentally ill is seen as wrong, or dangerous. He’s the first person that’s truly seen me at my worse in real life. My online friends have seen it like that- but never the need to curl up with my stuffed pig, Herbert, put in my headphones, and squeeze my eyes shut.

I’m still fucked in a lot of ways, but I’m better than I was. I don’t feel as broken as I once did.

I’ll never be completely okay. I’ll never know what it’s like to just live without having to plan and overthink, but I have him to help with that. He lets me ramble, and pulls me back when needed.

He bought me a necklace with an anchor and it says ‘I refuse to sink’. He’s my lifeboat.

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Trying

Impulse is something that has always been an issue with me. Not even gonna go into detail on how that’s gotten me into shit in the past. No need.

I’m not the best with money. I didn’t even know ‘excessive spending’ was something that was common along people with borderline personality disorder. Apparently, it is. I do try. I really do. I try to be smart about things. And the truth is, I’m not. I want to spoil everyone around me. I know it’s a flaw.

I’m trying to work on it even more now. I’m trying to be smarter. However, coming face to face on how I fuck up constantly isn’t fun. I put myself down daily. Always have. Then when something comes up that just adds to that, I feel worse. I know that no one is perfect, and that people make mistakes. I totally get that.

When you’re raised with things drilled into your head, they stick with you. For example, needing to do things perfectly, or not making problems. Shit I am pretty good at.

Now I need to suffer the consequences of a shitty coping mechanism that I started who knows when. I need to be an adult and give up on things I really want in order to pay for my mistakes. I want 2 tattoos after I graduate group, and I have to put them off now. I fucked up, and now I have to deal with the negative reactions.

I’m not saying that I won’t whine about it. I’m not saying I won’t get pissy. I will. Part of me never aged past being a child. And that part comes out at times. I whine. I pout. *shrugs*

Tackling all your problems at once is hard. I can’t turn to another ‘unhealthy’ habit to deal with the strong emotions of fixing another.

I can’t eat to deal with money shit.

I can’t shop to deal with facing my binge eating.

I can’t drink to deal with everything. More like shouldn’t.

I can’t cut to deal with strong emotions that I never learned to process.

I can’t get high just to not care.

When you finally come clean and admit that you know that you shouldn’t be doing things, and that you want to get better…you feel guilty for even wanting it for a split second. You feel like a failure for just wishing for one of them for a moment. And then you want one because you feel like a failure.

It’s a vicious cycle.

I know that I’m making progress, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have my bad days. Fuck, I have more of those than I’d like to admit. My mind is constantly going, and it’s exhausting.

I’m always scared of not doing things right. I’m scared of fucking things up, because that’s just what I do.

I go to bed and the house isn’t as clean as I’d like it, I feel lazy. I go to bed and the dishes aren’t done, I beat myself up. I could go on, and on.

I know there’s no ‘quick fix’ for the shit that’s wrong with me. I know that I can’t just snap my fingers and magically be a little bit more okay. I know I can’t avoid things forever. It’ll beat me down more than it has already.

For so long I hid how bad things really were. I was terrified to be honest. I was scared to admit how scared I was. I never told people when I was suicidal. I never told people when I was breaking inside. I never told people when I wanted to throw up because I was so disgusted with myself. I never told people about how I don’t know how to process emotions. Do you have any idea how tiring that is? Having everything on your shoulders, watching everyone smile around you, and you faking it? You smile because you should be happy. You smile because that’s what expected.

People always question what people have to be depressed about. What do they have to be anxious about. Why can’t they just move on from some event. Why do they let memories effect you now?

I wish I could turn off depression. I wish I wasn’t so fucking anxious all the time. About everything. I wish I didn’t let shit from the past bother me. There’s no off switch. There’s no goddamn erase button.

When a neurotypical person tries to tell someone with a mental illness how they should feel, it’s disrespectful. We’d love to be able to be ‘normal’. We’d love to function without medication, or therapy. Some of us can, and that’s fucking awesome! Some of us can’t, and we don’t deserve any less respect than anyone else.

Mental illness has been something that’s been hush-hush. You don’t talk about that. You don’t admit to it. You smile. You fake it. And you deal with it in private. That’s a big part of the problem. The stigma surrounding this. Hollywood gladly uses mental illnesses for a plot point, they gladly make a star anorexic to add drama. The news uses it to explain why white men commit acts of terror.

And then we’re seen as dangerous. We’re seen as unstable. We’re seen as lunatics. We should be locked up. We shouldn’t be parents. We shouldn’t do this. We shouldn’t do that.

It makes people like me afraid to come forward. I could have been dealing with this years ago, but everything I saw around me warned me not to. Told me to push it down, and to keep quiet.

I couldn’t anymore. There was so much pressure building inside me that I exploded. I couldn’t add anymore pain or lies to what I was already holding on to. I couldn’t keep secrets that were only doing more harm than good.

In high school, I could walk all over town. Crossing streets, walking in neighborhoods I didn’t know, and hanging out at the park after dark.

I’m 28 years old. I cannot cross the street myself. I cannot be outside my house in my own backyard at night without panicking. I can barely walk in my own neighborhood.

As I get older, the worse I get. The worse I get, the worse I feel. It’s got to stop somewhere.

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Diagnosis Five: BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide.

While mental health experts now generally agree that the label “borderline personality disorder” is very misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.– National Institute of Mental Health

Saved the best for last lol

This is honestly something that I had never in my life heard of until I was given my diagnosis. The day before my birthday, at that. November 15, 2013.

When I was 13, I was given a diagnosis of bipolar. That diagnosis was changed, however, when I finally saw a therapist that was more interested in work and progress than just sitting and talking for an hour. Of course, my thought was ‘of course, I’m fucking insane’. I felt it. I still do at times.

It’s only been the past 6 months or so that I’ve done more research, reaching out to others with the same diagnosis. I felt isolated and alone before that. No matter how much you explain to someone, they will never understand. Not unless they have been through it.

Also from the NIMH:

People with BPD may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

Other symptoms include

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

That’s my mind. Some days are mild, and I feel *almost* normal. Others, I want to bang my head against a wall to make it stop. Anything to block everything out.

BPD has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. However, with newer and proper treatment, many people with BPD experience fewer or less severe symptoms and an improved quality of life.–NIMH

Incurable is what this is. It’ll never go away. And while that is a very daunting thought, to be 50 and hit with a bad day. The idea of living like I am at the moment for the rest of my life makes it hard to face it. It makes me wonder why. What is the point of life, when you don’t live, but simply survive?

I am fighting back. I’m going to therapy, I’m on medications, we’re working on our diets, and trying to tackle the hard days with understanding.

My therapist was in awe that I’ve been with my husband so long, as many aren’t able to last. Before him my longest relationship was 6 months. It takes someone strong, but understanding, and flexible to love someone like me. I’m not speaking for everyone else with BPD, either. I’m a very hard person to deal with. I can barely tolerate myself most days, and yet- he does it with no complaints.

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Diagnosis Three: Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.National Eating Disorders

Growing up, I knew nothing of mental illness, eating disorders, or abuse.

I never knew that I had an issue with food. I just thought I really liked it. Looking back, after the diagnosis, I don’t know how no one saw it. How I never saw it as years went on and I learned about them.

As a child, I could easily eat an extra large pizza in one sitting, by myself. How did no one stop me? How did no one see how unhealthy that was?

Food was always my comfort, resulting in me weighing in at 220 pounds at just 12 years old. I turned to food to comfort me from hating myself. It was a vicious cycle.

When I was 17, I limited my food intake as much as I possibly could. At school I’d have a very plain salad, and that’s it. The days that I was at my then-girl friend’s house, I’d eat something small, only to appease her. This went on for just over a month before I broke, eating everything I could get my hands on.

Knowing that I’ve been dealing with this since childhood is both shocking, and not surprising. The fact that I started so young, and went so long without people noticing is the shocking part. I’m not surprised because I always knew I had an issue with food.

I’ve tried to lose weight so many times, and always failed. I couldn’t fight being drawn to food, and I’d feel so guilty afterwards. Like I’d failed.

I’m currently at my highest weight ever. 253 pounds. Seeing that number disgusts me. It makes me want to cry, to hide away so no one has to see me.

I was given Vyvance to help with my binge eating while in group therapy. I’m not hoping for a miracle, but working on it is a start.

Even if I’m full, I will keep eating. Because it’s so good. Or I don’t want to waste it. Or a million other reasons. I’ll tell myself ‘just one more bite’, but I can’t stop. I feel sick afterwards, like I’m going to throw up. I feel groggy, and I feel ashamed.

Admittedly, I hid my binging well at times. I was ashamed to be a fat girl standing up and saying that I have a major problem with food. Well, duh. It’d be stating the obvious.

I’ve spent my entire life hating who I am- especially for my weight. I’d like to get some control over it. I don’t want to be some skinny thing. Just comfortable.

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Day One

Today is day one taking Vyvance, and I hope to chronicle my month on it. Some days I’ll forget, others I might write more than once. That’s just how it goes.

But, I should probably give a little introduction here, right?

I’m Brittiny, and I’m a 28 year old wife and mother. I’ve been with my husband for 9.5 years now, and he’s a big part of my recovery. In 2013 I was diagnosed with ptsd, borderline personality disorder, OCD tendencies, and severe anxiety. Then, just last week binge eating disorder was added to that.

I’ve been on numerous medications for my issues. Finally, about 2 months ago, they stopped working. I caved and brought it up to my doctor. I was in a bad place. I was suicidal, I was depressed, I was angry, so many emotions were bombarding me. Simply making it through the day was a struggle.

I was put into intensive outpatient therapy. By far one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. Also, one of the best. I’ve been happier since I started going, and I don’t feel alone anymore.

We come from all different backgrounds, but can relate to one another because we all struggle. I’m getting help that I should have gotten years ago. I’ll never be cured from some of this. I’ll live with BPD my entire life. Does that mean I’ll always be out of control? No. It’s manageable, but incurable. I’ll have breakdowns. I’ll flip my shit. The war in my head will always be there, it’s just a matter of how bad it gets. I’ll always have an eating disorder. Even if I manage to get to a place where I eat normally, there’s always a chance of relapsing. I’ll always be an addict- whether it’s been days or years since I last cut.

I can’t ask for the life that I feel robbed of, the ship has sailed. All I can do is cross my fingers, and take the leap.

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