Guest Post #1: When My World Shattered

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Credit: Unknown artist, Favim.com

I’m thrilled to introduce my first guest blogger, Tessa from Advocate for Mental Illness.   Her blog is about her daily struggles with Bipolar disorder, told from a Christian perspective.  She has recently given her life to Jesus Christ.  Here is her bio from her About page:

ABOUT TESSA

Teresa (Tessa) Smeigh is over 55 and still going strong despite her disabilities affecting both physical and mental abilities. She has bipolar disorder (mental), Fibromyalgia (nerves), degenerative disc disease (spine), and arthritis (joints). Despite that she is active in Mental Health Advocating, writing for http://www.IBPF.org (volunteer for non-profit) and has 5 blog posts already published by them. She is also working on 2 fiction books (mysteries). She keeps her blog filled with useful content, daily devotionals (She is a Christian), stories and poems. Plenty to keep you busy. She has also been interviewed by blogs and had other posts published on many different blogs. She has 2 blogs so far http://www.tessacandoit.com and http://www.finallyawriter.com She is from Deptford, NJ. Her family and blogs keep her busy.
Although she doesn’t focus on it in her blog, Tessa also has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and complex PTSD.  I have asked her to write a guest post about having BPD, because none of my other guest bloggers are writing about BPD but I already have several who will be writing about Bipolar and complex PTSD.
Here is her guest post.
When My World Shattered!
I am a 59 year old female who has suffered mental health conditions since birth. Since I was born in the 50’s people didn’t talk about mental health. Even with a suicide in the family it was not talked about.
As an infant I took anxiety medication in order to keep food in my stomach. I was considered to have a “nervous stomach.” My mother kept a supply of anxiety medicine at hand all through my childhood because anything could set me off into an “anxiety episode” and hysteria. This was common throughout my childhood. My self-soothing unfortunately was considered self-harm by today’s standards.
At a very young age I developed signs of bipolar disorder which at the time we did not know. I got an official diagnosis in my early 30’s after a breakdown. Also by the same procedure, a hospital stay almost 4 years ago picked up on the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and I followed the symptoms back to when I was a child as well, but a little bit later than the bipolar.
Bipolar disorder and BPD are similar in symptoms and are often misdiagnosed. I have officially now been diagnosed with both. The biggest difference between the two is the length between the mood swings. Since my mood swings as a very young child were months apart it is most likely the bipolar disorder started first. Then later when the BPD developed they became rapid even changing during a single day or even hour.
It is difficult to break the symptoms down and say this belongs to bipolar disorder and this belongs to BPD. I will just go into the symptoms I suffer as one. Which is the direct cause, is not really necessary to know at this point.
How about a little history on BPD?
Symptoms usually manifest in childhood, but don’t become serious until a person becomes a young adult. This fits close to my time-line. Only I figure mine started in my teens after a traumatic experience of having been almost raped twice by the time I was 15 years old. I was then emotionally raped at 17 years old where I was told by the young man that either we had sex at that point or he was leaving me (abandonment considered to play a role in BPD) and we had just gotten back together. I couldn’t let him go. I gave in and that was also traumatic. I wasn’t ready. During that time I also suffered a miscarriage although I really didn’t know it at the time. I was totally naive even though my low self-esteem led me to wear sexy clothing and flaunt my body to every man. I didn’t know why I did it. I craved that attention though (promiscuity).
The exact cause of BPD is not know though they suspect brain chemistry plays a role, also genetics and environmental factors, along with the possibility of childhood trauma.
To add to the trauma, the 17 year old played the “I am going to kill myself if you don’t marry me” game when I tried to break up our relationship. I felt stuck, my emotions caused me to give in and marry him. I didn’t love him, but I was married at 19 years old. At 21 I had my first child, 22 I had my second and by 30 I had three children.  By then my weight was out of control due to binge eating.
My self-harm became more severe although I did resist cutting after I tried it and felt it didn’t give me the feelings I needed to soothe myself.
My anger intensified, but I kept it inside. I did not explode into rages unless you really pushed me but those rages were severe. People didn’t listen to my warnings and I flew into rages, shocking people with their intensity.
Paranoia became a constant state of my life. I am always sure people are talking about me. Even today.
Dissociation has been a constant since childhood. I always daydreamed and put myself into my books. I loved to read and my parents would force me outside. That triggered my anxiety and panic.
Severe depression for months on end would cause suicidal thoughts and several attempts and the last one landed me in the hospital for treatment and intense therapy. Luckily I didn’t succeed. The last one was the most serious.
I am currently in severe financial poverty due to low disability payments and reckless spending while I was manic.  Manic episodes are currently considered a symptom of both bipolar disorder and BPD.
I also have had a lot of unsafe sex due to my promiscuity, which is another shared trait.
BPD is difficult to treat. Usually a therapist, especially one trained in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) or CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), combined with medications such as anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers will help tone down the symptoms.
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Please visit Tessa’s blog here. 
My apologies about the wonky spacing.  WP isn’t letting me change the coding and I don’t know CSS.  I hope that doesn’t affect anyone’s reading experience!

“If Looks Could Kill: Anatomy of a Borderline”

littlegirlwithacurl

People with BPD, like all the Cluster B disorders, can at times seem demonic, especially when raging. I used to have these episodes of uncontrolled rage, in which I’d dissociate pretty severely. It was as if an actual demon inside me was unleashed and I couldn’t control my actions or my words, even though I knew I’d wind up regretting it and apologizing profusely hours later, hanging my head in shame. I think these rage episodes scared me as much as they scared everyone else, but there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about them. They were far too big for me to handle. Although no one ever told me I looked “evil,” I probably did during these episodes.

DBT and mindfulness tricks helped me get things under control, but I do seem to have mellowed in general with age. That seems to happen with some BPD women (some even become spontaneously “cured” after their childbearing years end), which makes me wonder if BPD is really a personality disorder at all, or something more biochemical. Since abuse or neglect in childhood is almost always present in Borderlines, maybe abuse causes brain chemistry to change for people who develop it, and this affects the female hormones in some way.

The emotional numbness is still there, but that’s nothing new–and it could be my PTSD rather than BPD. “Zombie” used to be my default setting in between rages so severe I seemed possessed. With increasing self awareness I’m becoming more able to access real emotions without losing control. The emotional numbness is lessening but the rages of my younger years have not returned. I’m not sure which emotions are still under wraps but I think it’s closer to sadness over some undefinable loss than rage.

This article accurately describes the Borderline’s ever-shifting emotional extremes and just how black their dark moods really can be.

If Looks Could Kill: Anatomy of a Borderline

By Shari Schreiber, M.A.
GettinBetter.com

There was once a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very good–but when she was bad, she was horrid.

My other articles on Borderline Personality Disorder speak to elements in the Borderline that seduce you and keep you enraptured, despite their push-pull emotional gymnastics, disruptive come here/go away cycles, and confusing, crazy-making behaviors. This piece exposes the volatile, frightening dark side of this individual who has gotten you under their spell and won’t let you go, but also uncovers the root cause of these issues. There’s a comprehensive list of features/traits at the bottom, which can help you determine if you’re involved with someone who has BPD–or it may serve as a self-diagnostic tool.

While many BPD people have killer looks, not all Borderlines are beautiful or handsome–but that doesn’t make them any less seductive or diabolical. It’s much easier for a great looking man or woman to find continuous streams of narcissistic supply via adulation and romantic pursuit from others, and until this ego fuel isn’t obtainable, they won’t consider therapy. Why should they? Humans don’t change, until what they’ve been doing doesn’t work for them anymore–or they’re in enough pain, to re-direct their energies and efforts toward seeking the help they need to get truly well.

Read the rest of this article here.