Thursday, November 25, 2010

What rhymes with recovery?


I woke up one morning and I saw two little pink soft-gelled pills setting on my bedside table. They were oval and the size of jelly beans. I wondered where they had come from. There next to them, in beautiful handwriting a note read, "Cure".


I had no choice but to gobble them up as fast as I could get them into my mouth. I didn't even waste time with water, I choked them down without hesitation. With a hard gulp, I began wondering how fast it would be until they started working. I was eager. I perched myself on the edge of my bed staring out of the window. I saw the sun, the trees, the grass; all without every really seeing them. I recalled at that moment a phrase my mother used to say to me, "A watched pot never boils..." It made me realize that if I sat there waiting to 'feel' different, perhaps I wouldn't notice the difference. I anxiously rushed into the shower. I knew I had to get moving and divert my attention somewhere else until the cure would set in.


I forced my way through over half of the day before my anticipation turned into anxiety. My head started to spin and swirl with fears of never being cured. I was terrified that I would be this way for the rest of my life. What sort of life would that be anyways? It wouldn't be. Not at all. Especially not a life that I want to participate in. I wanted to scream, "When is this CURE going to WORK???"My day dragged on into the evening and finally with a feeling of relief, it was time for bed. I laid my head on the pillow and realized that there was no way I was ever going to fall asleep on my own. There was a mixture of anger and grief pounding inside my head. Both of which would keep me awake all night long if I did not do something about it. I took a sleeping pill. Angrily I swallowed it down with water. Within 20 minutes I was off to dream-land.


When I awoke, at first it was difficult to get my bearings at all. I couldn't recall which day it was. Was I waking up from a nap, or had I slept through the night? What time of day was it? I laid in bed blinking while my room came into focus. My mouth was dry. Really dry. I looked to the left and caught sight of my drinking glass on my bedside table. Total recall came crashing down on me, I had taken the "cure" pills yesterday. It was morning, and I was waiting for my cure to start working. I laid perfectly still because it also occurred to me, that I may very well be cured already. It may have taken effect as I slept. How was I going to know? 

OK, so in reality? There never were any pills. There isn't any pill that will cure Borderline Personality Disorder. We can take medication or try a new therapy and spend a lot of anxious hours just waiting for the cure to set in, but in reality there is no cure. As of yet at least. Seriously, google it. There just isn't a cure. But the idea here is, once we have headed down the road to recovery, how do we know when it is working? As it went with the above illustration, she laid in bed unmoving, wondering how she would know if she were cured...again, in reality there may not be a cure, but there is recovery, which is just as good. But how will we know when we are well on our way to recovery? First and foremost, we must embrace recovery and what that means. Finish this sentence..."For me, recovery looks like..." This is very similar to our mission statement or our purpose. But secondly and more importantly, to know we are on the road to recovery we have to move, we have to go about our day, we have to experience our life, we have to move to the participation part of D.B.T.

D.B.T.: Observe (become aware of yourself, your triggers, your body, your sensations to yourself in your environment), Describe (put words to your experience) and then Participate. How else do you ever expect to know whether your recovery is working or not? Remember, we are doing these three "one-mindfully" and without judgments. This means that although a quick cure would be easy whereas hiking through recovery is not so easy, we will be practicing our mindfulness skills and we are actively identifying our judgments and reducing them. Instead of things being good/bad, they are effective and ineffective. Your target behavior is not bad, it is simply ineffective for a productive life. Your choice to walk out on your job was not you being bad, it was an ineffective choice. Removing those judgments helps you to move into the participation phase of your recovery. This phase will look different for everyone.

I chose to write about this today because I realized that I was going about my life the past few days thoroughly enjoying a symptom-free week and it became painfully obvious to me that there are so many borderlines out there that are not experiencing these types of weeks yet. YET being the key word here. I thought of the statistics of borderlines and treatments and I read a bunch of articles and although I did get a  bit of really good information about the polarized thinking borderlines tend to gravitate towards. (It is called "splitting" it was fascinating. Really it was, I felt extremely validated in some of the experiences that I have when I have a better understanding of what my brain is doing during that time. The article sort of reads like stereo instructions, but with a little diligence and a quite room I am certain many will find it helpful too). I didn't want to bore anyone with stats. Experiences is what will help to keep us all motivated. I need your experiences too.

Anyways, I wanted to reach out to people today to encourage you to be kind to yourself, don't expect a quick-fix, but the miracle of living a symptom-free life is a reality for everyone of us. Don't let go, not today, not any day...

MJ