And another thing, while I’m on a roll here,

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-borderline

This article, found through a Twitter feed I follow at work, made me at least 6% less productive on Tuesday. I remained devoted to my job, turning my attention back to more relevant Tweets, but something about it stuck with me long after the day was done.

Now, let’s be up front. I’ve never been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I have a lot of other official diagnoses, but BPD is not one of them. However, they did teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a treatment schemata for those *with* BPD, in The Bin while I was there. I found the techniques very helpful: mindfulness, awareness, cultivated skills and concentration. I’m not saying it works every time, but, really, it’s not supposed to. Emotions are normal, and, we learn, they come and go.

The horrible thing about depression is that it seems to NEVER let go. Being depressed is like being trapped under a heavy, moist, 1-ton bale of stinking farm hay, and not even having the energy to wedge yourself out. And when you’re treating someone depressed, I’d imagine, the first order of business is to lift up that load and help the person stand. So in the hospital, every bit the picture of classical depression, it’s no wonder that they diagnosed me thusly.

So I’ve not been depressed lately. But I haven’t been great, either. Where my moods were once a one-note hum, they’re now a jazz arpeggio. Like, that kind of crazy jazz I hate. I’ll be fine one minute, just OK the next, and then feel myself slipping over the edge into something dark and mushy. Sometimes I’m able to catapult myself back out – sometimes I’m not.

None of this is like depression. But a lot of it is like borderline. Although I’m able to maintain relationships, it has more to do with my resolve to stay healthy and the infinite patience of my companions. Although I’m usually able to compose myself, I generally feel just on the verge of going technicolor. And impulse control? Let’s not even talk about all the ways I venture to excess.

I feel bad about it, really. I feel like I conquered one horrid beast only to be faced with another, more jostling foe. And anyone can tell you, the worst thing about feeling bad is feeling bad about feeling bad. But this article, instead of bringing me down, gave me some measure of hope and self-forgiveness. It’s exhausting to manage these moods – the euphoria and the depths – and since I’ve now been trained to bring awareness to every flicker, each movement is obvious to me.

So maybe it’s OK to be exhausted. Maybe it’s OK to be sad sometimes. And maybe it’s OK that my on-off switch flips at the speed of a strobe light. Maybe this is just the new me, and now I just have to learn how to handle her.

2 Responses to And another thing, while I’m on a roll here,

  1. Caryl says:

    Erin, as always, you are sooo on the mark desribing the feeling of mental illness. Thanks for making me NOT feel alone.

    xo, c

    Like

  2. Jen says:

    I think of depression as a shadow that is lurking in the background that never seems to let go of me. It is not with me all of the time but it is just there, hovering near me.

    Some days are better than others.

    Like

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