Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A new start

Well, this is the inaugural entry of what I hope will become a productive, at least semi regularly updated blog. This is the part where I'm supposed to say something witty, or at least introduce myself. I guess I can do a little bit of introducing.

My name is Carolyn, and I'm 26 years old, and live in Newfoundland, Canada. (That's province, country.) I am a white, left-wing, cisgendered, homoflexible lesbian, and I have been involved in previous years of my life doing volunteer work for an LGBT center in my area. I have the equivalent of three years of credits at my university, but only one year towards a general Arts degree, if I do choose to go back to university... it's all up in the air at this point. I would definitely be an Arts major, though, as I excel in the arts and only do "okay" in sciences. If I did continue my education I would want to study sociology, specifically social inequality and all the negative -isms and -phobias that go on in our Western society today.

I am not only interested in Western society, though. I have plans to (someday, when I'm ready and have the necessary money) fly to Rwanda, Africa to volunteer at an orphanage. My friend T is already living there, having moved there after deciding to dedicate her life to helping the orphans, and my long-term goal at this moment is to one day join her and do some volunteer work myself for a month or two. In the interim, however, I plan to do my best to support her and the girls she provides a home to, and maybe even the kids at the orphanage (there are 700 of them), by sending care packages of things they might need. [I've got a pretty good idea of some things.] Although I'm not currently working, I do sell items on eBay, which is what is primarily going to fund my endeavor to send these care packages. Before I truly leave for Rwanda, however, I also plan to do an item and/or donation drive, in order that when I come over I can bring LOTS of items with me that will hopefully help them out for months and months after I've left. There are also many things I'd like them to have that you can't ship in a package, such as over-the-counter medications we take for granted, certain cleaning products, etc.

I know I WILL go over there. The only flaw in the plan is the lack of money, which comes from lack of work. And that lack of work comes from my multiplicity of mental illnesses. I have been battling full-blown mental illness since about September of 2005, although I had mental illness that still allowed me to be functional from the age of 15 onwards. Only in early 2006 did I have my first true breakdowns, and 2006 was also the year of my first psychiatric hospitalization. Actually, I ended up having quite a number of hospital admissions that year; I still refer to it as my "year of hell". Though last year would have to take the cake for being the second-worst year I've had since the mental illness began taking away my functionality.

That being said, I HAVE, in fact, had periods in between all this of being functional (albeit still with mental illness). I've worked a couple of relatively long-term stints in fast food, and I even managed to finish one of the many semesters of school I tried to attend during this time period. However, I have been completely non-functional and out of almost all work, and all school, since January of 2011. That's two years. I am not proud of that fact. But I am proud that I am finally, finally working to try and TRULY overcome some of my barriers towards being mentally stable enough to work.

I will give you the diagnoses I currently know to be true. Dysthymic disorder (a form of chronic, but less severe, depression) coupled with periods of double depression (which is defined as a major depressive episode over dysthymia). Thankfully, medication has put the double depression more or less in remission, though I've had to increase my dosage a few times to pull me out of recurrences of the double depression. My formal diagnosis in 2007 was "dysthymic disorder with anxiety", and I definitely have a lot of anxiety still, though I don't know how the DSM would categorize the anxiety I experience. I feel like I've run the gamut right through almost all the anxiety spectrum. And then, of course, there is my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. That is the major diagnosis my psychiatrist is currently working with; it's the diagnosis he's treating me for via DBT-informed therapy. This is one of the MAJOR hindrances to my ability to be in the workforce, as it takes very little to cause me extreme stress levels, and I do fear that if I was to get another job right now, I would break down, keep missing work, etc, and I would eventually get fired or quit. Now is certainly not the right time to try for a job -- that much I know for sure.

The last, but certainly not least, of my problems is what is known as EDNOS. This stands for eating disorder not otherwise specified. There are time periods, in the past, when I could also have been diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, but at the moment it is a most definite EDNOS. This is the other major cause of my not being able to work. As my EDNOS behaviors for the past two years have been that of a binge/purge anorexic, and I was underweight though I still got my periods, I have been left very physically weakened by my disorder. Even now, as I am slowly gaining weight back in an attempt to finally return to a normal weight, I do not feel strong and healthy. I have no stamina, and very little muscle capability. Eventually, once my diet is sufficiently full of adequate nutrition, I will have to start some exercise to gain back lost stamina and muscle. I will not do this at present, as I don't believe I'm getting enough protein for muscle gain, and I think that perhaps I am not weight restored enough to be doing exercise just yet. I don't want to make myself even less healthy with exercise. Exercise is best saved for when my weight is better and I've been eating steadily for at least a few months.

So... now you know some of the nitty gritties about my life. Since this blog is going to BE about my life, and/or possibly social justice or political issues I feel passionate about, I feel the need to be as open and honest as I can be at this point. Mental illness is a very difficult thing to have, and even more difficult to get people to understand, but I hope these entries can at least clear up many misperceptions about people with mental illness, and in particular those with conditions like borderline personality disorder. I hope, also, to prove that even a psychology patient with issues as complex as mine CAN get better and have a normal life again, and "common unhappiness", as my psychiatrist puts it. (Simply meaning the normal ups and downs of your average Joe, instead of the crazy ups and downs I currently get now -- more downs than ups, unfortuntely.) I also hope to possibly educate people on issues important to me.

But, last and definitely not least (again), I hope to keep a record of my life and what happens in it such that I can look back at my progress and see how far I've come, but also how far I still need to go. A document of my life can be helpful as a record of my feelings before, during, and after events, and hopefully it will help me in my progress with the other goals I have for myself and my life, and potentially help others as well. If this record can help even one or two people feel less alone, or more willing or ready to try recovery, I've done what I set out to. Helping people has always, always been something I've wanted to do, and I hope that this blog is helpful rather than harmful. I will certainly be doing my utmost to keep this trigger-free... or, if I do include any such content, I will put anything triggering behind a cut. I don't want anyone to fear coming here and being triggered. I intend for this blog to be as common-sense-based as I can make it, and if I know I cannot be logical I will vent elsewhere, and come back here when I have a more longsighted view of whatever situation or stressor I had been overwhelmed by.

If you read all that... well, you've done more than I expect of most! Haha. I do appreciate any readership I get, now and in the future. And if you have any questions you'd like me to answer, whether you want me to explain a disorder in more detail, or give certain background information (I will not give real names, addresses, phone numbers, or other personal information, for obvious reasons), or just have me answer questions about myself or my views on certain issues, I'm happy to do that. I'd love this blog to become as interactive as possible.

And with that... I depart for the moment. My shoulders are killing me and I need some sort of snack. I'm going out for coffee with my mother at 8:30, but that's nearly two hours away, and I definitely can't wait that long for food. So happy reading, and may the odds be ever in your favor!! (Maybe I'll talk about my fandoms in another post. :P)

2 comments:

  1. This is an awesome post -- looking forward to more. <3

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  2. Very well written. I look forward to more. I, too, have a blog. PM via Facebook and I'll give you more info...

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