kept the flowers

Personality disorders

It seems, at least to me, that personality disorders are less talked about than other mental health issues. I certainly didn’t know much about them until a very earth shattering moment when I found out my ex has all 4 cluster B personality disorders.

As soon as he told me I went online and did research faster than I ever have. Just reading the descriptions put tears in my eyes. Holy shit. This explains so much.

All at once things came into focus and I started crying at my desk. I realized quickly that this wouldn’t stop and left work as quickly as I could. Why the visceral reaction? In short, this explained so much. He had shattered my heart into pieces more times than I can count throughout our 7 year relationship. He lied. He cheated. He wasn’t at all who I (and I think he) thought he was. At the end of the day, it feels like the whole thing was one big lie.quote

And now knowing what the cluster B personality disorders are, it makes more sense than it ever has. On the surface, he was the golden boy. Charismatic, funny, sensitive, confident, and loving, he appeared to be happy most of the time. He seemed secure with who he was and was confident in every facet of himself.

But underneath that façade lies a dangerously insecure and self-loathing person. He constantly over exaggerated how awesome he was to counteract how he really felt about himself. It was like he was constantly trying to convince himself that he was talented, had worth, and was happy. The Narcissism is to blame for this.

This also bleeds a little bit into the Histrionic part of him. Histrionic folks are described as lively, dramatic, and always needing to be the center of attention. That’s him to a tee. He would also engage in sexually seductive or provocative behavior to draw attention to himself.

Which leads me to his promiscuity. Upon breaking up with him I found out that he had cheated on me pretty much throughout our whole relationship. I wouldn’t describe him as a complete sociopath, but he lied and cheated without ever feeling remorse (he told me this) – the antisocial part of these disorders.

I think his cheating was part of how he self soothed and coped with his inner turmoil. He also used drugs and alcohol to get by. This is common with Borderline personality disorder.

So after many years of sorting through the baggage and emotions from this relationship, I’ve come to realize that his suffering is much more severe than mine ever was. I can only imagine the turmoil he experiences on a daily basis. While his reckless and selfish behavior hurt so many around him, he suffers deeply every day.

Someone once told me that while this explains his behavior, it does not excuse it. These words definitely ring true. But knowing some of the causes behind what we experienced for those 7 years has helped me heal and even forgive. Now if only personality disorders (and all mental health issues, for that matter) were a priority to educate people about. If only we could have found this all out sooner.

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Distractions and coping mechanisms for depression

Depression is a parasite. It will settle in and suck you dry. I’m not sure if anyone has come up with a way to fight it off once it’s started. If they have, I’d love to know how.facewall

But just because we can’t totally get rid of it doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do to at least help us along the way. Here are some things that I try and do to cope with depression:

  • Talk to people. Whether it’s getting up and talking to coworkers during the day, gchatting with a friend, or calling someone up, it can definitely help to lift my mood. Of course this is difficult because it’s the last thing I want to do when I’m depressed. But it definitely helps me to feel better if only for a little bit.
  • Exercise. I already frequent the gym, but of course when depression hits it’s just not what I feel like doing. Going home and crawling into bed or vegging out seems like a much more favorable activity. But I swear that I feel better after that zumba class.
  • Read a book. Silly as it might be, this can also seem like a difficult task since it feels like it takes more motivation to do than just sitting and watching TV. But I find that you can escape into a book in a way you can’t do with TV
    . True it’s just a distraction from how I’m feeling, but I’ll take it.
  • Laugh. I get onto my favorite websites/blogs and give myself a good laughing session or healthy dose of adorable animals. I personally love WhatShouldWeCallMe, HowDoIPutThisGently, icanhascheezburger, Maru, and damnyouautocorrect.
  • Do a worksheet to combat negative thought patterns. In his book “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy,” David Burns lays out a way to record your negative thoughts and then write down why they’re exaggerated or incorrect. And I’ll be damned if that doesn’t help bring me back to reality and halt the negative cycle a bit. I would highly recommend giving this a try! Click here to check out my pretty little worksheet that I made to go along with this exercise.

Of course trying to distract yourself or cope with depression isn’t easy, and sometimes even the easiest activities that you know will help seem impossible. But at least having an arsenal of things to turn to can help.

If you have them, what are your ways of coping with/distracting yourself from depression?

Here is Maru – he is fantastic.

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Famously bipolar

I had heard of the “typical” bunch of famous people who had/have bipolar disorder. You know, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Catherine Zeta-Jonesmaybe Jimi Hendrix, possibly Britney Spears.

But I didn’t know about Catherine Zeta-Jones. And this is a bigger deal to me than others because she is bipolar II like me. I had no idea! It just happened last April, yet somehow I missed this news completely.

I do hope her bravery of facing the public about this did impact people. I hope it melted away some stigma in the public even just a little. People worship celebrities, so they really do have the power to make a difference. Certainly for mental illnesses, someone like Zeta-Jones can be a positive role model and example of someone proactively managing their condition.

Because lord knows, manic depression is a frustrating mess.

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Allow me to question your diagnosis

There are so many fun things about mental illness. It’s a regular smorgasbord of awesome.mental illness

But one of my most recent faves is the diagnosis questioning. i.e., the complete devaluation of your medical condition.

Yes, medical condition. But that’s the problem—people don’t see mental illnesses as real, biological conditions. It goes something like this:

“Yeah, I know you were told you’re bipolar II…but what if you’re not?”

That’s no different than saying, “I know you were told you have diabetes…but what if you don’t?” But so many people don’t see that.

And the worst part of it all is when the questioning comes from friends and family…the people who are on your side, who support you.

So shouldn’t they understand? Why don’t they get it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we never receive a real education about mental health; because of the stigma that continues to surround it; because it’s a really scary concept to wrap your head around about someone you love.

Regardless of the cause, it hurts. I don’t know how frequently this happens to other people, but I have to imagine it’s not just me. And that’s what makes me want to do something, anything, to make a difference on this issue…to raise awareness so that the stigma melts away just a little.

Suffering from a mental illness is bad enough—having it questioned on top of that just twists the knife even further.

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