Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coping with Bipolar Affective Disorder

Coping with Bipolar Affective Disorder

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A dog can be an important weapon

One of my most useful weapons against my mental health issues is a black, hairy and active dog. Meche is a Schnauzer Lab mix, she has the wiry hair of a Schnauzer and the energy of both breeds. She is the ugliest dog I ever seen but has big brown eyes that can melt even the strongest anger.. Sometimes, especially when she chews something she wasn’t suppose to have or when she stoles food from the table I really want to choke her but right then she looks at me and I’m a lost case. Yes, I have to clean after her constantly but the benefits of having her are way more that the responsibilities. This is my list of why having a dog is a good weapon against mental health issues:

1. When I’m at my lowest and I don’t have the energy to get out of bed, having to take her out is a huge excuse to get up, once I take her out I force myself to nibble something in the kitchen and even take a shower.

2. I have the new rule that when I feel down and I’m ruminating negative memories I take her for a walk. Walking her requires attention so she doesn’t eat something in the street or jump over a kid, so my mind goes away from the ruminating thoughts. Since I’m walking her everyday I lost two pounds.

3. Some studies indicate that giving affection lowers you blood pressure and decrease the stress. I have to say that when I cuddle with Meche I feel much better.

4. People with BPD have issues with abandonment and required constant reassurance that they are loved and will never been abandoned. There is no human capable of filling up that need, but a dog can help us immensely to fill that void. Meche is always there, happy to see me even when I just step out for a few hours. She loves me even when I’m grumpy. A dog can give you the experience to bond with somebody that will never abandon you.

5. Dogs are a great companion. They don’t judge or pester you telling you what you have to do. They give unconditional acceptance. They make the journey with you in complete silence. I always know Meche is going to be there to lick my face when I’m crying or to stay in bed with me when I feel I cannot handle the world.

6. Since I have the problem of instable relationships having a relationship with my dog gives me something emotional stable. I don’t feel I’m walking on eggshells afraid she is going to abandon me or that I have to please her. So in some way I can relate better to her.

7. In many occasions I stop myself from committing suicide because I didn’t know if she was going to be okay after I died. I know her favorite treats, which route she likes to walk…and let’s be real, who else, if not me, is going to take care of such an ugly and crazy dog.

When I think nobody loves me, that nobody cares, that I will be better dead because I mean nothing to anybody I look at Meche, so happy, always there loving me and I know that I least I mean something to that dog, and sometimes that is all I need to keep going.

Friday, June 26, 2009

We are not alone

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar disorder a few years ago and those who share this diagnosed know emotionally is like we have third degree burns that never heals. I guess I want to start this blog to share with other patients and families this journey. I know I have my low moments, my anxiety, my depressions, the self harm, the binge eating but I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even when there is no light I'm willing to keep crawling until I find the exit. Is tough, people don't understand how it is, the fights with the insurance companies go forever...is real tough. Especially our love relationships. Many of us have dysfunctional families big time and maybe only a few friends. This journey can be a lonely one. That is why I want to share my journey. Because maybe another patient will read this I say if she can do it, I can too.
My first advice is seek help, have a therapist and a psychiatrist. Take yours meds even when you think you are at your best. I had so many hospitalizations because I will not stick to my treatment. Keep taking your meds even when you don't believe in it. It will not harm to do it. If you think the meds aren't working talk to your doctor to lower or up your dose. But never go without them. I been in those shoes and I know sometimes, too many to count I was so sure I was capable of being on my own, no pills but then the crisis will come and I will have to struggle to get back to my feet. And you reach a point in which you want out, you want the craziness to stop. The only way to stop is if you take charge and take advantage of all the tools you can reach.
Something that helped me a lot was going thru a year of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It didn't cure my disorder but after it I have a better insight and I can catch myself going back to my old ways and someway stop it. Not everything is solved but I'm more aware of my patterns.
I keep myself away from the alcohol or drugs. I know that for me is easy because I never been hooked to any drug or tobacco. But I guess my drug of choice is sex and food. So I'm trying to keep myself away from those random one night stands. The food, well I'm trying to eat healthier and at least walking half hour each day. I'm not killing myself in the gym I just walk the dog half hour each day. In the way I'm knowing my neighbors...and the dog loves it.
Somedays I do great. Somedays I don't. But now I know those feelings of abandonment, of complete hopelessness will pass...and come again. Is how I'm wired. So many times I wished I didn't have this disorders or conditions. But the reality is I do. I cannot change that. I cannot change my shitty family relations or all the abuse I got thru the years. I cannot change all that but for the first time in my life I decided I was going to take my pills, go to therapy and try my best. Obviously the way I had been dealing with all my life before was not the best so I guess it was time to try other ways. I don't expect to have all the correct answers all the time but I expect to get better.
So this blog pretends to be a share of the journey. To show you are not alone in this and for me is a way to re-read what I wrote before and know I can get back into my feet. This shall pass too...I just have to ride the wave.