High Point

Well, today was kind of an odd one for me. Work was kind of rough; for some strange reason – maybe because today was Martin Luther King Day, and kids were out of school – the bookstore was oddly busy. Which meant a lot of customers, and some of them were people who were just very angry people. Working at the customer service desk, you can get chances to help people find what they are looking for, and they are momentarily grateful – but some people, if you can’t find the book or other item they are looking for, just get really angry. So bad customers tend to hit one harder, mentally and emotionally, than good ones.

So it was kind of hard on me, because emotionally hurtful moments tend to be rougher on me than happy ones just because of my own issues. But it really turned around on my lunch break, because I got a message from Calla, and she was sounding better. Even hearing from her was good, though; after that, nothing bothered me for the rest of the work day. Then, as I was on my way home, I got a call from her, and we spoke for the first time in almost a month.

I won’t lie. I did a little dance.

She sounds like she’s doing well, and even though she’s been having trouble being in contact lately, it sounds like she’s made some real progress. She even said that she thought she was starting to have faith in herself, which was a huge step. But she was laughing, sounded happy, and it was great to hear from her. That (and the pizza I treated myself to on the way home – thanks, Pink’s Pizza) means I came home high on life. I hope she stays in contact more often from now on, but even if she doesn’t, hearing that she is doing well, making progress, and sounding good was great.

It looks like I may end up sending information on the Family Connections class to her family, as well. She liked the idea that I was going, and thought maybe her parents would benefit from that kind of knowledge. I’ll be trying to get that information over to her mother tomorrow. So it’s been kind of an odd day – it could have been really bad, but instead, it went really well. Weird, right?

Family Connection

So, after my last entry, I signed up for a course through the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder called Family Connections. Basically, it is a class for relatives, friends, and loved ones of people with BPD. Today was the first class, and it was pretty interesting.

I’ve been to support groups before; they aren’t new to me. I go to one for my step-down group, and I try to get over to DBSA when I’m not working on that night. But the support groups I’ve been a part of were for the people who had mental disorders. I knew there were groups for family and friends before, but hadn’t ever been part of one. But after having gone, I can see how helpful they can end up being for those supporting people with psychological issues.

For BPD, while there were a lot of stories about children, spouses, and friends, they all had some things in common; at times it seemed like we were quoting out of the DSM criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of wondering what we could do to try and help our loved ones – not fix them, because that’s not something we can do. Like I remember learning in treatment, we can’t change other people, only ourselves; trying to change others is just a recipe for disaster.

Seeing as how it was our first session, much of the time was taken up telling short versions of our stories and reasons for being there. But at the end, we did get to cover some things, and I think, most importantly, we covered some very good advice for those supporting people with BPD. First, as support personnel (shorthand for family, friends, or loved ones), we should always try to take the things our loved ones say in the most benign way possible. A lot of the time, what they are saying isn’t about us; it’s a reflection of what’s going on in their heads. Taking things too personally just ends up in a messy situation. Second, there isn’t one absolute truth; while a loved one might, in a moment of anger, says he or she hates you, we know that in the long run they love us – the hatred being voiced may be true at that second, but not overall. Third, we are all doing the best we can in the moment; never assume that our loved ones are trying to scare us off, drive us away, or manipulate us – they’re just trying to deal with life the best way they know how. If we can help them with that, then we should do so. Finally, we can always do better. Nobody’s perfect, and every time we interact with our loved ones is a chance to do things better than we have before.

There’s a lot of things I hope to learn at this class, and I hope that my own experience with mental illness can help the people there who haven’t had the exposure to treatment that I have. I know that there are tons of things I can learn from them, because they have had so much more experience with BPD, and had to deal with it for much longer. I also hope that what I learn from this class can help me to be a better friend – and possibly more – for Calla, and others I know with BPD.

Countdown

Not a lot to report, again. I’ve been watching a lot of Supernatural these days, and despite a lot of it just being popcorn-munching drama, there are some surprisingly deep parts of the show, if you look hard enough. It has a lot to say about family and how we (and the main characters, the Winchesters) see it. It also has some interesting commentary on the nature of evil, and whether monsters can be good and humans can be evil. It adds in a lot of elements of Judeo-Christian mythology; the banal, slimy evil of demons and Hell, the indifference and disdain of the angels from Heaven, the absence of god from the board – though, as I finish the 7th season, still never any mention of Jesus. Maybe I’m influenced by the Supernatural and Philosophy book I got two weeks ago, though.

Calla has been pretty silent lately, at least in regards to me, but I choose to take that as a good sign, a sign that she is trying to concentrate on the work she has at her new treatment center and not be distracted by me. I am quite distracting, after all. It means I don’t hear from her very often, true, but I have faith that if something were to go wrong, she would get in touch with me. So, until she chooses to contact me, there is little I can do but hope and wait.

I’ve been continuing to read up on Borderline Personality Disorder, among other things, and I have Brene Brown’s newest book on my reading list, but right now, during the holiday season, most of my reading tends to be of the more fantastic variety. I’ve been reading a number of RPGs lately, especially Dungeon World, and they are pretty heavily on the narrative side, but mostly they’re just reading to keep the gears in my head working, just not in high gear. 

As Christmas approaches, so, too, does another milestone – I have almost 200 posts on this bad boy of a blog. If all goes well, in a poetic turn, I hope to hit 200 on either Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.. It’s not a groundbreaking milestone, and nothing special will happen when I hit 200, I just thought it would be a nice little thing to happen. And with that, I end the update; I’ll add more when I have news.

Clopening

Odd title, but it actually has a meaning – one of the other employees at the store I work at uses it to refer to having a closing shift followed by an opening shift, which refers to my last two days – not only did I work Friday, but then until midnight Saturday followed by a 10 AM start today. It’s been a pretty long, busy weekend, and I’ve taken a pretty big handful of Advil and Aleve to relieve various sorts of pain.

Thanksgiving went pretty well, though it seems I could have brought over a batch of the pumpkin butterscotch cookies that Calla seems to like – and, if I had had the energy to experiment the night before, I could have also tried to bring over some apple pie egg rolls, but sadly, I didn’t try them out until Friday (they are delicious, but not so good after reheating, oddly). It was good time spent with Calla, though it seems like she was pretty exhausted at the end of the night.

In my free time, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, some of it just pleasure reading – RPG material and the like – but a lot of it has been material on Borderline Personality Disorder, an issue I know several people with; I thought it was time that I really tried to understand what exactly it was and what it meant. According to the author of Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, Dr. Shari Manning (and this is paraphrased as I understood it, so I may have missed a bit),BPD is emotionally extremely intense – imagine the most emotional day or time of your life, whether a bad breakup, loss of a family member, or getting married, remember how emotional you were that day, and then think that someone with BPD probably feels that level of emotional intensity every day. I haven’t finished the book, but it seems pretty good and helpful so far.

As far as other resources online, I’ve found, or been directed to, a couple of blogs that look like very promising sources of information and discussion on BPD. I’m by no means an expert, and so I leave these links here, for better minds to check out:

Borderline Personality Disorder and ‘The Chameleon Effect’

BPD and Life: Recognizing and Dealing with Conflict

Healing from BPD

Bipolar and BPD Support (I confess I cribbed most of those links from this blog, because it seems like such a wealth of information; It’ll take me some time to get through all of it, but it looks like a great resource)