“You Say You Want A Revolution”

I was in Sociology 101 today discussing the subject of deviance. After assigning us a project to do in small groups (talk more about this later), my teacher gave his PowerPoint on deviance. I was half-listening, doodling and picking my fingers all at the same time when something caught my ears. He was talking about strain theory by Robert Merton. Strain theory, he said, is when people try to conform through institutionalized means and fail. Those same people turn to deviance. Now, he went on to explain the four outcomes of this theory (innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion). I’m not interested in giving you a Sociology lesson (though I kind of already have). What I’m interested in is the last bit of strain theory. Rebellion. We’ve all seen rebels, whether they be Confederate flag-wavers or decked-out-in-head-to-toe black-wearers. Rebels, according to my Sociology teacher, replace cultural goals with new, “deviant” ones. They aren’t rebels trying to stir up trouble and create a scene, or protest and storm the Bastille. They’re revolutionaries. They’ve rejected society’s objectives for them and replaced them with their personalized plans. Out with the Old World Order and in with the New!

Of course, I had to relate it back to mental illness (hey, isn’t that what they’re always encouraging you to do in college anyway? Relate it back to something you can understand and apply your own thoughts and ideas to it? That’s why we write papers for crying out loud!) for the lovely people here. I mean, society tells us from an early age to be happy, right? Well, some people (albeit me!) are broken and can’t seem to grasp the concept of being happy. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I feel it’s setting the bar a little too high. I want to be happy, I really do, but what if I settle for contentment instead? What if I set myself up so that I can succeed, so that I know I have 100% success rate, whereas I would only have, say, a 50% chance of being truly happy? By rejecting society’s goal for me (remember: happiness) and replacing it with my own (somewhere in the land of contentment), I’m not being mentally ill. I’m not being sick, I’m not shouldering the burden of the Shadows or Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m being a rebel. And let’s be honest, how many of us have always wanted to be that? We’ve wanted the respect from our peers, the level of coolness that only comes with breaking the rules a bit and playing outside of our comfort zone. Viewing myself as a rebel doesn’t deny my mental illness or its severity, it doesn’t minimize my BPD or the work that comes with doing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. No, it doesn’t do any of that. It simply holds up a new frame, a pretty one with gilded golden edges and a bit of antique charm. This theory provides me with the perfect way to accept¬†who I am and what I have. I know, I’ve been talking about that a lot lately and I apologize, but I don’t think I can convey how big a rock this was (and still kind of is) in my path to living a better life. I think I’ve finally found what’s going to work for me. Ah! This is so huge! I feel like I can’t wipe the grin off my face. Speaking of my face, I busted my lip pretty bad yesterday. No, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was a funny little accident. I went to get a filling replaced (actually, I went in for a cleaning but ending talking myself into getting my filling replaced) and she had to shoot me up with Novocaine twice so my mouth (and lip) was extra numb when I went home. On the drive, I had my mouth hanging open, I know, such an unattractive thing to do, so I closed it, but chomped down my lip. I had to get stitches to make it stop bleeding. It looks worse than it actually feels. But I’m so elated with my little trick to accept myself that I don’t even care! Ha!




“Life Is A Maze and Love Is A Riddle”

Okay, you’re probably wondering why in the hell I’m posting twice in one day. No, there was no catastrophic event, no chemical meltdown or self-induced implosion. Music has been a big part of my day, and often is, and I felt like posting a list of songs that inspire me. I know, it’s a little weird but I figured, if they inspire me, they might inspire you! I’m going to try to do off-beat and unknown artists, nothing like Katy Perry or Usher or anything. So, may I present Inspirational List #1 (this may become a permanent installation).

1. Runaway (Matt Kearney)

2. Set the World On Fire (Britt Nicole)

3. Miniature Disasters (KT Tunstall)

4. Sound of Pulling Heaven Down (Blue October)

5. The Sound of Sunshine (Michael Franti & Spearhead)

6. Vanilla Twilight (Owl City)

7. Here [In Your Arms] (Hellogoodbye)

8. You and I (Ingrid Michaelson)

9. The Show (Lenka)

10. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole)

Alright, I hope you enjoy this list! There will probably be more to come so stay tuned! ūüôā

I, Lucy B., have BPD.

Okay, so lately, I’ve been talking about sinking deep into the strangely comforting depths of my depression. Today is no different. Depression is sitting on my shoulders like a monkey on my back. It is constantly whispering in my ear things that someone with no self-esteem needs to hear. After Info Science class and lunch, I had to go on a little drive through a back road near the college to escape for a minute. I sang (albeit loudly and very badly) with the radio and tried to push everything and anything negative out of my mind. It had a very interesting effect. While I’m still feeling the effects of depression and felt them then too, I got a few minutes of reprieve. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Success! Well, sort of. I’m waging more than one war here, and I don’t know if I should let myself forget that. I’m fighting not only depression, but OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder as well. And when the front on one side looks good, and seems to be asymptomatic, the other battles look hopelessly lost. All day I’ve been combating the feeling that someone is talking about me. That the laughter in the quad, the library, Burger King and in class, is not aimed at me, but something else that is totally unrelated yet equally humorous. I don’t think of myself as a comedian, I’m not someone who strives to be funny but sometimes I am fucking hilarious. I trip, I swear and my off-hand comments whispered in class but not meant for anyone else’s ears, make people crack up. This little anxious worry has premise, you see, because of all these things. Sometimes the kids in class really are laughing at me, but it’s because I’ve done something funny. When I’m worried about them laughing at me without doing something funny, that’s when things go south, very quickly. My heart beats faster, my throat closes up, I start to shake and I, uh, start talking to myself. How weird is that? As if this little problem didn’t get enough fuel from the shrieks and giggles coming from my surroundings, I have to add to the fire by muttering under my breath, positive reinforcement that these teenagers are not talking about me. I know, it’s a hopeless loop that doesn’t make any sense. When I’m feeling anxious, or wound up, or hopelessly deadlocked in a chess match between me and myself over things like people laughing at me, my OCD ticks seem to skyrocket. I have to go to the bathroom and wash my hands, pick my fingers until there’s blood and then keep doing it, pick my face until all the pimples and scabs are smoothed out. Once I’ve gotten over the initial anxiety, there’s a residual effect and my depression is left to pick up the pieces. That’s when the negative comments come in. The “you’re worthless, stupid, ugly and fat”, “you’ll never marry or have children”, “you’re a disappointment to your family and your boyfriend”, all of it compounds on itself yet again. This time the BPD picks it up and I get extra angry. It’s like a game of football. The team really sucks and they keep fumbling the ball. The best player is BPD and when she (yes, this is a women’s league) picks the fumbled ball up, all hell breaks loose. Picking, cursing, talking to myself, questioning reality, hitting, hair pulling (but not plucking, there’s a difference!) and writing are all let out to play. Of course, the writing is healthy. There’s nothing wrong with blogging to fabulous people like yourselves and getting a second look at the emotions you were feeling a few days ago. But the rest of it? The rest of it might as well be crack! It’s so horrible to my ego, my self-esteem, my sense of self, my being, whatever you want to call it (unless you consider those things to be separate entities, then it applies to all of them). Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the pigskin get tossed around, especially if it’s my home team playing (I’m not going to mention them, though they did win this weekend!), but this game is nauseating and confusing. I succeeded in filling out a whole week’s worth of diary cards and applying some of the skills, even today (mostly opposite action and self-talk/mindfulness). It was no small feat, and it’s like a girl in my DBT group says repeatedly, what’s common sense for most people, is especially tricky for people with BPD. Not to say that we’re stupid or dim-witted, but to say that when people form relationships with themselves and with other people, they are capable of making healthy, wise-minded decisions. People with BPD act on impulse and emotions. We’re volatile. Hm, I was just thinking about how I grouped myself into that collective “we” a few minutes ago. I know, it’s a two-letter word, don’t get your panties in a bunch! But I can’t help it. That two-letter word is like life and death for me. By accepting that within that two-letter word, the name Lucy Miranda Burnett is stamped in beautifully scripted turquoise (my favorite color) letters, I’m accepting my mental illness/personality disorder. Whoa. Betcha didn’t think of it that way. That two-letter word doesn’t look so small anymore, does it? Radical acceptance has always escaped my grasp. Because it’s common sense to other people to just accept who they are and know that they can improve upon themselves if they wanted to, it’s nearly impossible for me. To me, radically accepting what I have as a disease/disorder, as a biological component of the makeup that is Lucy, it means I’m admitting that I have a defect, one that I cannot and will not change. Radically accepting that I have a disease/disorder means I’m sick, I’m not well, I’m deserving of people’s sympathy. I get enough of that with my chronic pain condition. Why would I need it for something they can’t see, which is doubly worse? If you can’t see it, like you can’t see cancer, it’s especially bad. It attacks like a thief in the night rather than an aggressive assault during the day. But maybe it could mean something else. Does radical acceptance mean understanding why you act the way you do and trying to improve upon it? Does it mean understanding that what you’re suffering from has a name and, though it can’t be cured, can be treated? I never thought to look at it this way, and while this epiphany is happening in real time, it makes me wonder if maybe I could actually radically accept that I have BPD, depression, and OCD. I’ve always thought that OCD and accompanying anxiety were okay to have, because in society, those two diseases come with the least stigma. BPD and depression though, those are like nuclear waste. There’s no one within a 1,000 mile radius that would come near me if they knew I had those. But people do. I interact with people in class (today was especially productive. I met up with group members to discuss a project for Sociology. We’re meeting again next class), and in group. The people in group know of my illness and still take my opinion seriously. The people in class don’t know of my illness but seem to be appreciative of my input. I don’t know. Do I dare to hope that I could radically accept myself, BPD, depression, OCD anxiety, and all? I think I’ve started this week off pretty well. While today didn’t go so well, opening up this little forum with myself, taking a deeper look at radical acceptance (which is something I could never do in therapy or group.¬† It’s always alluded me until now, and even now, I think it would have been impossible for me to come to this conclusion any other way), I wonder if it might be part of making me whole again.

“I Only Dog Paddle”

Pandora Radio is skipping. I don’t know why. I hate when this happens. It makes my brain skip too. My thoughts become jumbled and I feel like I’m stuttering, even though I’m not speaking. Okay, I just exited all the windows except for this one and it’s moving a little faster. Still skipping though. Alright, I give up. Until I finish writing this entry, I’m sitting here in silence. But you know what? Sometimes silence is all I need. It’s a nice little dressing to depression. Adds a little tang to it. I need some spice in my life. Because I really am depressed. I don’t know if it’s because I saw Mara on Wednesday (yikes!) or what, but it needs to stop. I mean, don’t get me wrong, depression has been more of a friend than Mara¬†ever was. It comforts me, rocks me to sleep, whispers the truth I’m too afraid to say: I want to die. There, now the cursor is angrily flashing at me, waiting for me to finish, to explain something that is so impossible to explain. How does one go about expounding that my life means absolutely nothing to me anymore? That staying in this world holds no value? That the lure of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, is so daunting and profound that it would drive me to swallow one too many pills so that I may enter into the mysterious world? My OCD is showing again too. I’m washing my hands in that compulsive way, I’m picking like crazy. That slippery slope I’m so used to sitting on is calling to me once more. The ocean I was floating in, peacefully and calmly, is now tossing and turning with rage and hate and I’m sinking into its depths, drowning in the abyss that is depression. The Shadows are calling to me. Their tendrils wrapped snugly around my neck, my wrists, my waist, my ankles. How does one shake the Shadows? How does one look at oneself and see beauty? Combat the sadness with happiness and hope? I’m envious of that person. I’m envious of the person that can conquer all of this and see the light on the other side. They say the grass is greener on the other side. Some people say the grass is greener where you water it. What if you don’t have any grass? What if your yard is dead and covered in crackly old brambles that you forgot to water?¬† I’ve tried sowing the seeds, I’ve tried tilling the land and fertilizing the soil but nothing sprouts. Nothing comes to life. Ha, life. What is life? Am I living? Is this how life is supposed to be? No, it’s not. That’s one existential question I can actually answer. Life is not meant to be lived as I’ve lived it my entire life. But how do I let go? How do I become the person everyone wants me to be? I’m scared shitless.¬† I don’t know how to admit that to myself. I don’t know how to radically accept who I am. I don’t know how to see beauty in myself. And that really hurts. It really hurts me that I’m hurting my parents. It hurts me to know that people are rooting for me, they’re cheering me on and I’m failing. I’ve always been an overachiever. I’ve always strived to be the best. And while I admitted that I had certain shortcomings (math and science were never my forte), I still managed to excel in them. But this? This has become my life. My foe, my impasse, my sword-wielding Inigo, my wrestling Fezzik, and my Sicilian Vencini. And I’m not Wesley. I don’t know how to come to the rescue and save the day. It’s so frustrating. It’s like the bystander effect. You see someone drowning, you know there’s no lifeguard so no one is necessarily obligated to jump in and save the¬† person. You know you’re capable of saving them, you’ve always been a strong swimmer, but you’re certain that someone else is stronger than you and will go in after them. But no one moves. This person is sinking farther and farther underneath the waves, but no one is trying to help them. Well, I’m the person in the water and the person on the shore. I’m drowning and I ‘m waiting for someone to jump in and save me, even though I have the power to do it myself. Huh. I think that was my little moment of epiphany. That’s exactly what depression feels like. Drowning, with no help, even though you know you can help yourself. Dr. Ordella¬†said that to me the other day. She was certain I could get myself out of this rut, if I just tried. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. I’ve always been one to put in 110%. So why can’t I do that now? What’s stopping me? This inner monologue of “you can’t do it”, “you’re a failure”, “you’re better off dead”, “the world doesn’t need Lucy.” That’s what’s preventing me from doing this. Those voices are so loud and cacophonous that it’s impossible to hear myself think. I can’t think about DBT or using mindfulness when those voices are screaming in both ears and playing a rock song that’s reiterating the same message. Maybe I just need to turn my own music up. I’ve always been partial to rock and anti-folk music. Maybe it’s time to get some Lily Allen and Regina Spektor up in this bitch. I can do this. My dad always tells me that he admires my determination and set-mind whenever I’m presented a task or something to accomplish. If I look at this as the most complicated math problem I’ve ever seen in my entire life, maybe, just maybe, I can solve for x and divide by 3 to get the answer. It might take a little subtraction and a little addition but I think I can do it. At least I hope I can do it. Math’s not so hard. Rewriting a new life for yourself, well, that’s a little more complicated.

Q is for Questions

I think I have an affinity for libraries. I think I’m partial to their crinkly, mildew-covered pages, and little study carols. I’m privy to the quiet and privacy it provides. I think a library is the most private public place one can go. Besides a bathroom, those are pretty private too. Okay, except for the ones where the cracks between the stall door and the divider is big enough for someone to peek in. Imagine I’m comparing lovely libraries to the good kind of bathrooms, the ones with actual doors on the stall instead of the usual, cheap stable doors. Why am I in the library? I honestly have no idea. I guess I acted on impulse, something people with BPD are prone to do, but I don’t think it was a bad decision. I think this is one of those times when it was okay to be impulsive. It didn’t hurt anyone, and I haven’t spent any money. I’m not snorting coke or shooting up. No, I’m listening to my Say Hey (I Love You) Pandora radio station and talking to you, my lovely computer screen. My little dark blue phone is occasionally buzzing as Montreal¬†texts me and tells me how much he wants me to be happy and enjoy life. And I wish I could promise that I will. But I can’t. I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t know if I even have a future. Oh boy, here we go with existentialism! I know, I know, bear with me though, this has a point I promise. I mean, how can you be sure you’ll be happy? Because you vowed to yourself you would be? Well, what if God is like, “nope, sorry, I don’t keep promises” and strikes down your entire family with the plague or something? I mean, I know God wouldn’t do such a thing since He is our loving creator, but you get my point. Is that supposed to be the fun of living? Is there some cosmic joke that everyone (but me) gets that says “you don’t know what happens, but let me tell you, it’s a big one!” I’ve started this new diet by the woman who filmed Crazy, Sexy, Cancer. It’s a documentary about a woman who tries to slow her incurable, inoperable cancer of the liver and lungs through alternative medicine. She does it, too. This diet is based on a pH scale and says that we need a lot of alkalinity in our system before things will start to repair themselves and we feel 100% whole and happy again. Now, alkaline foods are things like leafy greens, lemons, limes, grapefruits, green apples, carrots and grains. Oats and oils are in there too but they’re really complicated. And that’s nice, it’s not too hard to add more leafy greens to your diet. But when she asks you to juice them, and drink them in green smoothies, that’s a little more difficult. But I’ve been trying. I juice half a cucumber every morning for breakfast, eat greens and carrots for lunch, drink tons of water, and cheat a little by eating meat for dinner. I do feel better. It’s not extreme and life-changing, overnight success but I do feel infinitesimally better. Now, that’s not to say that I’ll stick to this diet (it requires a ton of shopping and a trip to Wegman’s, the nearest place I can get organic food) but it’s worth a shot, right? The thing is, I don’t know if I can attribute this good mood (because that’s where the change is) to my diet, or to Montreal. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have no friends and am latching on to someone who’s still talking to me and doing what I always do: losing myself in that person. I don’t think I am though. I think these positive emotions are confusing the hell out of me, but ultimately are making me feel a bit better. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Does diet and the social factor play such a part in our happiness that it’s impossible to discern causation? Maybe. I don’t know. Do I look like a psychologist or dietician? That’s what I thought. Now, back to the bigger point. Why am I talking about all of this? Why does my happiness and existentialism have to do with each other? Well, it boils down to love. Yes, I know, I used the L word. L-O-V-E. Can love happen overnight? Does it strike you out of the blue, or is it a thought-out drawn out process? In my last relationship, it was the latter. I spent weeks thinking about it, trying to be sure it was really there. I’d like to chalk that up to my distrust in human beings (such fickle creatures). But this? This was a sort of epiphany. It struck me out of the blue, and now I can’t shake the feeling. So what do I do about it? Well, I was planning on telling him tonight (I forbade him from reading this particular entry until I saw him tonight) but I’m not sure. Should I go out on a limb and do some opposite action? That’s become my new mantra, by the way (Yea, Allister, that’s a shout out to you!). I was picking my fingers in class: opposite action. I wanted to sleep instead of do homework or something else product: opposite action. The scary thing about all of this is that I think I actually want to get better. I know, that sentence sounds weird as hell but getting better for someone like me is a really scary thought. It’s change, it’s adjusting to a new normal, it’s rocking the boat (even if the boat is sinking). Maybe that’s where the deeper question lies. Is it love, is it fighting the symptoms of my disease or is it something greater? Is this the new me? Am I changing for the better, brighter future? Does this mean I have a future? I know, I’m going a little overboard with the rhetorical questions. It just makes me wonder. If this is my little epiphany, if this is my “a-ha!” moment where I realize that my way of living is wrong, well, I’m scared shitless. I really feel like I’ve had that spark that’s lit the fuse. I’m just waiting for the TNT to blow.