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.