Daily Post – Abuse of One’s Power

Word Press Post A Day - Remember the seven cardinal sins? You’re given the serious task of adding a new one to the list — another trait or behavior you find particularly unacceptable, for whatever reason. What’s sin #8 for you? Why?

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.  The 7 deadly sins.

There is an 8th deadly sin for me.  Well there are probably a 100 or more deadly sins in my book, but today – we will talk about the 8th. 

I can’t sum it down to one work, but four – abuse of one’s power.  Taking advantage of someone because you have more power of them.  Using your title, your badge, your degree, your social status, or whatever it might be to get what you want or enforce your punishment or authority on to someone else.

I guess, a lot of people would think of cops when I write them – they pull someone over and get overly aggressive.  Or there is even a higher number of domestic violence cases within the households that have a member of the law enforcement living in them (of course, many cops are good).  People will say cops speed even when they pull others over for speeding and they are not even chasing anyone or going anywhere special. 

For me, I personally had a teacher abuse his power.  I was molested by a teacher when I was younger.  He took advantage of me.  He abused his authority.  I was depressed and he found out what was going on in my life and told me he would make it better, he would fix it, I just had to listen to him and do what he said.  For months, he made me do things.  He verbally abused me, he sexually abused me.  It took years for me to trust a teacher again.  My life was turned upside down.  My mental health was awful – and still is.  I struggle every day with trust and socialization. 

When someone abuses their power, they take away someone freedom.  They take away that persons self worth.  It might not seem like a big deal.  It might not seem like it affects anything at all.  But it is a big deal.  Whether it is simply doing something because you can – because you know that no one will challenge you for fear of what you will do to them even though no one is going to get hurt, or because you want what you want and someone is going to get hurt – emotionally or physically. 

The 8th cardinal sin – abusing one’s power.

College Students Discuss Struggles with Their Mental Health

College is a time for exploration – figuring out what we believe, learning what we want to do with our lives, and meeting a lot of new people.  It can be a time of great stress too though, and when we have a mental illness this can make our adjustment to college life hard.  Sometimes, just adjusting to college in general can bring depression to the forefront.  Here are stories from students at three universities, discussing their struggles with mental illness – everything from depression and anxiety to OCD and anorexia. 

 

Leeds University Students Discuss Their Mental Health

 

University College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health

 

Trinity College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health

Frustration, Arguments with Friends, Life, Everything

Tonight was a rough night. 

Today actually started out amazing!  I got great news – which I will reveal in a later post at some point.

But, the day ended horribly!  I feel bad and I don’t feel bad at the same time.  I went to a support group meeting and spent some time talking to a few friends after.  We got into a discussion that just ended with me blowing up.  I majored in sociology and am extremely open minded and liberal.  Anyway, yes, I should have been more open to letting them have their views, but I guess when it comes to social issues regarding race and social justice – I just cant sit back on stuff when specific comments are made.  They were not saying horrible things or anything of that matter – don’t get me wrong.  But it still struck a chord with me.  I just blew up, I lashed out, I yelled. 

The things is, I feel bad about how I reacted, but I don’t feel bad about what I said.  My anxiety and depression haven’t been the best lately, and I don’t want to blame my reaction on my mental illness, but I also don’t think I would have had that reaction if my meds were working correctly.  I did gain control and just walk off – granted it was in the middle of me yelling – I walked off in the middle of it before I kept doing it. 

I feel really bad though. I feel like a failure.  I feel like I just messed up my life again.  I literally started this day off on such a high note!  And I ended up so low.  When I woke up, I had this plan of completely starting my life over, not that I can’t still do that.  I just feel like, if I was going to do that and then already fell so deep within 24 hours – how can I keep going? 

I know I will get over this.  I know life will go on.  But getting into arguments with your friends sucks!  These people are my main support system here.  I go to this support group, and I only am close to a few of these people in it, and I just yelled at 2 of them.  I don’t even know if I want to go back?!  I know things will go back to normal, but it is going to take time.  And that makes my anxiety worse, and my depression worse.  I feel like I lost my support system – and it was my fault.  I always screw things up. 

I’m going to try to not think about it all though.  I may take a day off tomorrow – I may get on and off here, look around, try to do the daily prompt, but if I don’t get on here — I think I might just take some time to decompress after what happened.  Let out my pent up anger and anxiety that I have held in over the years from the abuse and trauma and everything else that I am only now dealing with.   

Facing the Storm

In Tampa, during the summer, it rains a lot! There are storms almost everyday, or at least that is how it has been this year. Even in the rain, summer is beautiful and I learn a lot through it. 

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In my life, I feel like I get rained on a lot too. I feel like my life is a storm. There are ups and downs, and a lot of the time, I feel like it is mainly downs, it feels like it is raining and raining and raining and the thunder and lightening roar down around me.  The sun doesn’t seem to be up at all. 

This bird though, he just stands tall in the rain!  He stands out there and faces it!  Jumping from car to car, playing in it, basking in the rain!  He doesn’t hide from it.  He doesn’t run away from it.  It doesn’t hurt him.  Sure, when we have problems in our life, it may be hard, and it may hurt, but we can still stand tall going through them.  We don’t have to run away.  Just like this bird, we can go out into the storm, we can stand in that rain, we can face it. 

When I saw this bird, I was walking out to go to my NAMI meeting.  I wasn’t having the best day, I was going through a “storm.”  But I saw this bird on top of my car, then he jumped to the car next to mine.  He just freely exposed himself to the elements.  I needed to be like that.  I needed to push myself to do that – to be stronger, to not curl up into a ball.  I know I am strong, I just need to come out of that curled up ball and show my strength to myself. 

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Being Friends with Someone With Mental Illness – What You Can Do To Help

Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times.  In fact, my group of friends is quite small.  Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like.  But I have friends that do not, and they are great! 

I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though.  You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.

Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:

 

1) They listen – My true friends simply listen.  They don’t judge me and they just listen.  They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking.  They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed.  Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.

2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone.  They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can.  They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me.  They are empathetic. 

3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do.  Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do.  I just ramble on and on.  So they ask me what I am wanting.  What do I need?  This question gets to the bottom of things.  Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed.  It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”

4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me.  They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.”  They do not stigmatize mental illness.  They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!).  This helps so much in the friendship.

5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better.  My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc.  My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray.  My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.

6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them.  I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them.  Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me.  If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend.  It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first.  Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?

Daily Post – Predicting the Future, Looking at the Past

Word Press Post A Day – Back on January 21st, we asked you to predict what day #211 would be like. Well, July 30th is that day — how have your predictions held up so far? If you didn’t reply to the prompt at the time, is this year turning out to be as you’d expected?

 

I wasn’t even on WordPress back on January 21st, so I definitely didn’t predict what today would be like.  I do often think about my future though.  I think about my past and my future quite a bit.  I look back on my past and question why things happened, what would have happened if I had done something different, why didn’t I do this or that.  I focus a lot on my past.  People always say to look towards the future though.  I listen to them, I do look towards the future.  I question my future just as much as I question my past.  What is it going to be like, am I ever going to be “normal.” Yes, yes, what is normal?  I guess I should say, am I ever going to overcome this mental illness completely?  Will I be able to hold a job, be happy, be able to socialize with others without being in a panic, will I ever just be ok?  I can’t say that back in January I was expecting for that to all magically happen in July, especially on this day – but I do wonder if it will happen, and if it does, when will it happen.

I know it won’t though.  I know I am battling a lifelong battle.  I know that I am always going to struggle.  And sometimes, even seeing a future for myself in general is hard. 

In January, I did expect July to be better than what it has turned out to be.  I was hoping that I would be happier.  I was actually planning on moving back up to Indiana earlier in the summer, but in January I resigned my lease to stay an extra year here, to give it another chance.  I thought by now, I would have found out that it was nice here. It is nice here, but I’m not happy here, well not happy yet.  I suppose I still have until April of 2015 to find out if signing that lease for another year made a difference or not.  I just thought it would have happened already.

Living with mental illness is hard.  You can’t focus too much on the past.  You cant focus to much on the future either though.  There are too many what if’s both ways.  Too many should I have, could I have, and why’s.  The questions are endless.  I really have to stay in the present moment, and just think about today. 

Life with Borderline Personality Disorder

Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder back in 2011 pissed me off, plain and simple.  I was never told I had it, but one day in the cafeteria at the psychiatric hospital the weekend psychiatrist was discussing something with me and I got angry and she simply said, “Your borderline is coming out.”  Umm ok?  I had no idea what she was talking about and I inquired.  She acted as if I was then manipulating her.  Luckily it was Sunday and the regular psychiatrist would be back the next day.  You see, I was a regular at this hospital, I am not ashamed to say that yes, I was noncompliant with me medications and at the time 1) either did not feel I needed medications or 2) when I felt like I needed help did not know how to accept it, so I didn’t.  I was in and out of this hospital like a revolving door – they knew me, at least the regular psychiatric doctor and the techs and nurses did.

So upon Dr. B’s return, I asked her.  She said I hadn’t officially been diagnosed with BPD but I had traits, but because of the weekend Dr, I was now diagnosed with it.  I pressed the issue asking for more information.  I was clueless about this disorder other than the negative aspects I had heard about it.  I was ANGRY! I was told to read I Hate You Don’t Leave Me, a book that explains BPD, and was given a copy to read while I was there.  It helped explain a bit about the disorder such as the criteria:

To be diagnosed a person much have at least 5 of the 9 of the following persistently -

  • Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
  • A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

(National Institute of Mental Health)

I found this book somewhat helpful, but reading facts didn’t sit well for me at the same time.  I found it just pointing out bad things about me.  When I was released from the hospital I still didn’t agree with the diagnosis, so I did more research on my own.  I found another book called, Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder.  This book was a personal story and I could actually relate to the feelings and emotions in it.  It made sense to me.  Perhaps I did have BPD?  I began to accept the diagnosis more after reading this book and doing more research on it. 

I still have a hard time admitting it though, and am a little bit more selective as who I do tell.  A lot of people have negative views on it.  Even others with mental illness have a stigma towards it.  I will hear people with bipolar say, “I was in a relationship with a bpd and it was horrible!”  I think, well maybe it wasn’t just her having bpd, but maybe it was the combination that you both had mental illness? I have moved a few times so I have seen a few psychiatrists, and pretty much all have been great about it.  I had one though that point blank told me that I was manipulative because I had bpd.  Seriously?  I have to wait in your waiting room with suicidal thoughts for 6 hours AFTER my scheduled appointment time, EVERY single time I have an appointment with you, and when I complain and say that I am having suicidal thoughts – I am being manipulative to try to get in sooner?  How about you just quit scheduling people for 10 minutes and then seeing them for 2 hours, or schedule less people a day if you are going to see them for that long.  Or call me and tell me to show up 6 hours later instead of me calling to see how far you are behind and telling me to just come 1-2 hours later.  I am NOT manipulative because of my bpd.  You cannot use my bpd as an excuse for your actions!

People think that once you have bpd, we are untreatable.  At one point, until Marsha Linehan came out with her diagnosis, people just assumed that patients with bpd were the worst of the worst.  Thanks to Linehan though, there is a treatment called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – DBT.  It has helped so many people with bpd – and is even being used for other mental illness – to help them work through the disorder and work through their recovery.  I have not done DBT myself, I went through schema therapy personally while in my 6 month treatment program at the state hospital, and I found this program to be great too.  In fact, while DBT is the most widely known and used, there are quite a few treatments for BPD:

  • Schema Therapy
  • Mentalization Based Therapy
  • Transference Focused Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Many times BPD also is caused by trauma/abuse in childhood – although not always.  When it is, sometimes it is also helpful to receive treatment for this such as talk therapy, family therapy, group therapy, or trauma therapy to discuss what happened.  If PTSD is occurring in addition to the BPD, which many times if BPD is diagnosed there is a co-occurring diagnosis of depression, PTSD, bipolar, etc…then the other diagnosis also need to be treated for a successful outcome.

Living with BPD is not easy. As Linehan has said:

“Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering.”

We feel things so much more than those around us.  I feel anger, sadness, happiness, fear, and all the other emotions 100x more than someone who doesn’t have BPD.  And my reactions to those show that.  The burn victim has a physical display that extra care is needed around him though.  For me, no one can see that.

So I must fight on, and so must every borderline.  We must fight this stigma and be strong.  Show that we have our bad days but we have our good days, just like every other person in this world.  And while we hit emotional lows that might look worse than everyone else’s, we can still pick ourselves up and live our lives – embracing positivity and possibility. 

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