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  • Writer's pictureMel

2021, Here I Come...

I've always wanted to blog about myself. I don't know if that means I'm conceited? Or too self obsessed? But, in my opinion, I'm the only perspective I have! And it's important to me. And I do believe I have something to offer others. Certainly I won't be for everyone. But I am kind. I am funny. I am deep. I am empathetic. I have vision. And I want to share it with those who might need it or who will listen or, truly, to those who feel the same and just need a form of friendship, fellowship, and understanding. So welcome. Pleased to "meet" you.

A bit about my past. What is pertinent to the 'why' of my starting this post is that I am again starting anew. From the ashes of one of, if not THE, lowest points of my life. Let's start by gaining a brief understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD for future reference).

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness that centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively.  The disorder occurs in the context of relationships:  sometimes all relationships are affected, sometimes only one or several.
The symptoms include:  fear of abandonment, impulsivity, anger, bodily self-harm, suicide, feelings of emptiness, chaotic relationships. While some persons with BPD are high functioning in certain settings, their private lives may be in turmoil. Others are unable to work and require financial support.

I was diagnosed with this mid year of 2019, and by August of 2019 I started an intensive weekly therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (I will reference it as DBT from here on). Many people with BPD do well with DBT as those who either inherit it or from their early childhood experiences develop this from traumatic experiences. Trauma is subjective. My trauma is still confusing to me. It certainly doesn't fall under physical abuse or sexual abuse. I am what we like to call an Empath. I feel everything. EVERY little THING. And it's overwhelming. Sometimes physically, as I'm quite in tune with my body. But normally and wholly, it's EMOTIONAL. All. The. Blasted. Emotions!!! And we feel them 10x stronger that our "normies" friends and family. So sadness is deep. Rejection can be devastating to the point of suicidal thoughts. Hurt feelings linger and cause deep impressions with, sometimes, life long consequences. Especially if we are not taught TOOLS. This is a very interesting subject, and I encourage you to research. Blogs. Websites. BOOKS. People with BPD. Science based evidence and research. There is a lot to say, but I can only unpack so much at once.

So I had hit bottom for about 3 years straight, barely able to summon the courage (yes, courage) to get out of bed and face the day. I hid in my bed, alone, a lot. I have 3 kids, a dedicated husband, and a sick mother-in-law who lives with us. It wasn't easy for them to have me missing in action 85% of the time. And I had suicide ideation so much it was becoming too hard to fight off thoughts of wanting to be gone from this world. Because it was happening all the time. I can't stress enough how hard and exhausting it is just to fight for your thought space every day. I mean, it's why people in the throes of depression, PTSD, extreme anxiety (the list goes on) have such a hard time with energy. It's all being consumed just trying to live through each day. I've been there. I've done it. I survived. And so can you. So can your friend, your sister, your mom, your whatever. They need love, support, UNDERSTANDING (or at least FAKE understanding), and less pressure and criticism. People do not just lie in bed all day because they are simply lazy. SOMETHING deeper is happening. They might not be at the point of acceptance that something is wrong. And that is HARD for their loved ones. And them. And the ignoring of the reality will become that much harder to swallow when, and hopefully if..., they humble themselves enough to look in the mirror and accept themselves for who they are and what is happening.

I knew in 2019 it had to stop being so hard. I just couldn't fight it by myself. I needed help. So I got a referral to the University of Kansas Psychiatry Department. It's a teaching hospital, and I can see how some people might not want to have students help them. I urge you to think on it and open up to the idea that these students are learning all of the new data and research! Older therapists are still great! But unless they constantly do the continuing education courses in the right areas they might lean on teachings from the 70s, 80s, or 90s. These "kids" are learning so much more than I would have expected. I've been to psychiatrists, therapists, and psychologists for about 20 years now. KU is the only place I've been to properly diagnose me AND offer me a specialized therapy program to help me.

BPD is so hard while you're in it. But, unlike other mental health diagnoses, BPD can be treated effectively. While you may never be "cured" of it, you can go into remission. I have done this. Recently, so I'm being very mindful of my triggers and the situations that may cause me to plummet and forget my DBT tools.

I finished DBT in September of 2020. My life had changed! I was different, and I felt it in my cells, from my core. I had retrained my brain on how to effectively filter all my many and contradicting emotions. Now it is time for setting my tools and mindset into a routine that I can stick with so I can continue LIVING instead of surviving.

What to do next? I'm a photographer, but only work about 1/6 of the year? It's very part time. I work for myself and as you know, there's a photographer around EVERY corner. It's a competitive field. So in my ample spare time I've rested, recovered, and prepared to continue my healing journey. About 3 years ago I acquired a new client. She had just had a precious curly topped baby girl 3 months prior and wanted to get some family photos and a 3 month session. This began one of my first, and definitely my most frequent, client relationships I have had. After her second baby girl, I noticed she had begun losing weight. Every time I saw her she looked better, but MORE than that, she shined. She had gained confidence and happiness. I needed to know what she was doing!

It turns out she had a membership to a new women's gym called Blush Bootcamp.

At the time I couldn't afford it. So I waited until my "busy" season. For a photographer that is almost always October-December. I stockpiled my extra earnings and was able to pay, in cash, for a full year membership! My first day was December 7, 2020. Today is January 3, 2021. It has been almost 4 weeks. I've lost 3 pounds, and that is great for me! I FEEL better. I have more energy! I'm up and doing more around the house. I put Christmas decor away all by myself (except the tree). And as of January 1st, I have tweaked my food intake to be mostly meat and veggies and healthy carbs, as balanced as possible. NO junk food, fast food, soda, candy, white breads or refined carbs, and as few added sugars as possible. I think 2021 will be yet another year with great leaps toward HEALTH, healing, and LIVING!

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