2015, Monarch Butterfly and You
Hello and thank you for visiting Monarch Butterfly. This post is simply to wish you well for the coming new year, 2015. When I write “wish you well”- I mean that literally, I would love for you to have a year ahead that is full of good mental and physical health, that is my ‘wish’ for you.
I did not intend to write a blog post to end 2014, it was my intention to jump back on the wagon, early 2015, although somehow it did not seem right. I have had quite a lot to say over the past few months either on Monarch Butterfly or on Twitter so I just wanted to end this year with a brief ‘check in’ or ‘check out’ depending on how you look at it.
Part of this post will touch upon some ‘key mile stones’ taken from this year, for us at Monarch Butterfly, I will be writing on an ‘as is’ basis, so may flit around a little, like a butterfly.
If you are reading this post and you are unfamiliar with the website, my husband and I created this resource after having an unfortunate experience of a ‘lacking’ service that was long drawn out and painfully poorly resourced, I say ‘was’- this is still the case to date (two years on). The teams within our community mental health service have proven to be (for the most part) rather inexperienced with regard to supporting those with a ‘personality disorder’ diagnosis. Over time we (hubby and I) concluded that we could wallow in the lack of support or do our part (no matter how small) to ‘make a difference’.
Out of the two of us I am the one pinned with the ‘label’ of personality disorder, ‘PD’, that does not bother me in the least, I think we all have a little bit of some sort of ‘disorder’ at some time in our lives. I was ‘officially’ diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD in 2013 and have been waiting for ‘talking therapy’ for over two years! (My other mental ill health ‘labels’ include severe depression, anxiety disorder and Agoraphobia.) Aside the fact that our community health services have been ‘unable’ to offer a more ‘full bodied’ or robust service, I have been ‘left alone’ to ‘internalise’- my ‘life’ has been on hold for over four years now.. Literally, on hold.
This past year the Monarch Butterfly website was launched, September 10th 2014. We also created our first mental health video, in part to launch the website but the primary motivator was to get it out for World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th. So looking back there have been great strides made, I am grateful to my husband for his support and also grateful to our contributors who include, Nik Kershaw, Wolfgang Stiller and Community Health Worker, Odeta Panariti. I am also very grateful for you, our visitors, we are young and would like to reach many, many more of you out there so please do spread the word.
Here is our launch video
Coping with a Personality Disorder
I have had ‘mental health difficulties’ all of my life, for as far back as I can remember. I soon learnt that the only way to ‘cope’ was just to ‘survive’- to swiftly brush my own feelings, emotions and difficulties ‘under the doormat’ in order to get on with the normal day to day things like ‘integrating’, communicating, concentrating… The basic things that one might otherwise take for granted.
You soon learn in life that it is pretty much ‘dog eat dog’ and in order to ‘achieve’ you can’t ‘present’ what would (for the most part) be considered weakness. A completely different persona would begin to develop, not overnight, it took time but like ‘studying the caveman’ I began to know what would get me what I needed or what I wanted. I call that the skill of ‘acting at life’- not participating. I say acting, but really I am a lousy ‘actress’, when I am low or in a fowl mood a lottery win wouldn’t put a smile on my chops. This ‘acting’ is often unplanned, it is like an ‘opening’, a window allowing for a shift into a gear that can make things happen.
The ‘super hero’ syndrome
So ‘insecurity’ soon would become an ‘over compensated’ confidence, a complete ‘despair’ and feeling of loneliness would be turned into a ‘class clown’ and later on ‘the life and soul of the party’. I liken this to a ‘super hero’ putting on their costume in order to completely transform their being, from ‘Clark Kent’ to Superman for one example. I am not saying that I am a super woman or anything, what I am saying is that by ‘appearing’ to be competent it does not mean that this is the case at all. For me, this is a learnt behaviour which has proven ‘effective’ in that I have ‘acquired’ things that sitting an a room sobbing or sleeping all day will not have got me. in the process I have become ‘disassociated’ completely from myself. I feel like I am constantly living through a third person, watching myself ‘live’ instead of actually ‘living’- can you relate to that?
Apparent Competence- Faking it
I found that a severe amount of stress experienced around 2010 ‘disabled’ me from being able to ‘act’ or ‘get by’ as I had been all of my life. My ability to put on the costume went out of the window completely. The ‘openings’ that I used to get began to disappear, instead they were replaced by a complete inability to know when I would be able to muster the strength to do even the most basic of things. Housework would often go untouched for weeks, I say ‘would’ but I do not have a ‘regime’ in place, even now. I do what I can and often find myself wearing myself down because I try to push myself to the limit when I do get some strength.
Similarly to our Superman above relinquishing his super powers and leaving Clark Kent to ‘get on with it’, no longer leading a ‘double life’. I surrender this way of living, it had served me well outwardly but has done me no favours at all in terms of my mental growth. In 2015 it is my hope that I will be able to reveal myself on an ‘as is’ basis, I would love to be able to be ‘free’ from the self battering and judgement that I continually subject myself to, “I am enough”- that is where I want to get to. If you are reading this and can relate to this way of life, it is my hope that you too will move along this journey of believing that you too are enough, just as you are- you are ‘good’ enough. Please feel free to get in touch via our contact us page if you would like to share this journey in some way.
BPD, Personality Disorder and Life
It is my firm belief that we are not ‘BPD’- this is a label, a name (albeit a very poor one) that wraps up a set of symptoms and difficulties that one may be experiencing. Diagnosis, I believe is a great thing, this gives us the opportunity to navigate towards others who have similar difficulties. More importantly even, this gives us the opportunity to be introduced to others who have learnt how to ‘cope’ and manage their difficulties, I am reluctant to use the term ‘recovered’ simply because we are always evolving and on that basis we have nothing to recover from.
I have a great interest in ‘Personality’ in general and have done, for many years. I hope that throughout 2015 there will be less emphasis on the term ‘BPD’ itself and more on- learning what makes people ‘tick’- How did we get here, and how can we move forwards, together? After all most of us have at least some of the BPD traits and go unlabelled as the symptoms have not caused long standing distress to the host. So, I will certainly be focusing more on ‘Personality’ and ‘General Wellness’ for the oncoming 2015, this is the direction that the Monarch Butterfly will be flying.
May you have a year that is full of kindness and strength, love, peace and growth. Lots of Love to you all,
Rosalind (and Carl)