100 Things I Learned In Recovery

Here are 100 things I learned in recovery 

  1. My passion for Mental Health
  2. Mental illness doesn’t define us
  3. Self-Reliance
  4. It’s okay to not be okay
  5. There are no good or bad emotions, but there are good and bad ways of expressing emotions.
  6. Resiliency
  7. Self-Compassion is a priority
  8. Self-Awareness is key
  9. Coping skills that best work for me
  10. We don’t owe anyone an explanation for self-care.
  11. Beauty lives in our differences
  12. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  13. Mindfulness
  14. The more I loved myself – the more I fell in love with my kids
  15. Not to feel guilty for self-care
  16. Patience and understanding for othersLove Yourself
  17. Recovery comes first
  18. How to stand up for myself and fight against stigma
  19. Things will always work out – do not give up
  20. We are not broken, weak or worthless
  21. It’s never too late to become the person you want to be
  22. The present moment is all you ever have
  23. Who my true friends are
  24. My story has helped make a difference
  25. Internal vs. external Locus of Control
  26. I found myself more at peace
  27. I am Brave
  28. Courageousness
  29. I’m an introvert and value my alone time
  30. To let go of my past mistakes; they do not define me
  31. I am emotionally intelligent
  32. Gained more self-esteem
  33. Judgments are a confession of character
  34. Happiness is found within
  35. Self-Confidence is the best outfit; fucking own it
  36. Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of
  37. Self-love is the most important love
  38. I am a stronger and healthier mother to my two kids
  39. Without the dark and stormy days, we can’t learn to appreciate the good days
  40. The Minds Like Ours are beautiful
  41. Our feelings are valid; don’t justify them or seek approval – they are YOUR feelings.
  42. Our behavior is driven by our emotions
  43. Helping others makes me feel good – we rise by lifting others
  44. Your worth is not defined by someone loving or not loving you
  45. My worst days in recovery are by far better than the best days in my manic episodes
  46. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life
  47. The words, “Fuck it” do come in handy every once in a while.
  48. You are not a burden
  49. You have to learn to love yourself before you can fully love someone else.
  50. Do not be afraid to walk away from toxic relationships/friendships
  51. Embrace the sadness
  52. It’s okay to be different
  53. Be patient with yourself
  54. Recovery isn’t strictly about being “happy”, it is about learning to become whole.
  55. The bad things people say about you are actually reflections of what they think of themselves, not you.
  56. I am unique
  57. Ultimately it’s only your opinion of yourself that matters. Do what makes YOU happy.
  58. The art of meaningful conversations
  59. Stigma’s three components are: Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
  60. EMDR therapy
  61. Step outside your comfort zone – you might actually have fun
  62. You are worth much more than you think
  63. It all starts with willingness
  64. I am a fighter, survivor and a warrior – so are you
  65. Be acutely aware of your thoughts
  66. No, we can’t just fucking “Get over it”
  67. Good things take timerecovery123
  68. Expect nothing – appreciate everything
  69. How beautiful it is to be alive
  70. How to live less out of habit and more out of intent
  71. We are the directors of our own mindset
  72. Strength
  73. Life’s a bitch sometimes
  74. Mental illness is not a choice, but RECOVERY is
  75. If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone
  76. I no longer want to compete with anyone but myself – I hope we all make it
  77. Hold on to hope
  78. Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do
  79. How not to lose myself in the process of loving someone else
  80. How to magnify your strengths, not your weaknesses
  81. We can’t fix ourselves by breaking someone else
  82. My appreciation for music
  83. We are exactly where we need to be
  84. BREATHEEEE!
  85. Protect yourself with ADA
  86. How to maintain a balanced life – parenting, career and education
  87. I am emotionally sensitive- my emotions are more intense than the average person and that’s ok
  88. Face your fears – It’s fucking liberating!
  89. Be gentle with yourself
  90. Your time is important – spend it on things you are passionate about
  91. Make time for yourself
  92. The part you play is sacred – you are priceless
  93. How to manage impulsiveness
  94. See the value in our stories
  95. Trust your intuition
  96. Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle; start a conversation
  97. Your speed in recovery doesn’t matter; forward is forward
  98. Life gives you challenges that you can overcome; be strong
  99. Emotional awareness means recognizing, respecting and accepting your feelings as they happen.
  100. How to discover who I truly am; gained a huge sense of self.
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Past Quote

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”

-Steve Maraboli


 

I’ll be the first to admit, I have made so many big mistakes in my past but those mistakes DO NOT define who I am, just like mental illness doesn’t define who we are either.

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Borderline Types

Understanding

During the initial years after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, I thought that all other Borderlines were like me: introverted, shy, low self-esteem, hot tempered, angry, hollow, etc. For the most part, I assumed that the “constellation” of Borderline Personality, as described by the DSM-IV and my first clinician, was the same for all afflicted with this condition. In reality, it is just the opposite. Though you may fall into the BPD diagnosis constellation, there are many different ways in which your BPD affects you, your life, and those around you.

Before I go any further, let me preface the following list of BPD variations by stating that I am not a mental health professional, nor qualified in any way to offer a BPD diagnosis. My thoughts are my own opinion gleaned from casual research on the internet and any commentary and feedback I get from blog readers.

That said, here are 5 different types of Borderline Personality manifestations:

  • Low Functioning Borderline – The “Low Functioning” borderline is what most people think of when they are first introduced to the condition. Low functioning BPDs are a living train wreck. They have intense difficulties taking care of their basic needs, are constantly experiencing mood swings. They also have an extremely hard time managing any sort of relationship with another human being. Low Functioning BPDs are often hospitalized more than other BPD types, for the very reason that they can’t live productively without constant coaching and supervision. These patients are challenging for all but the most experienced psychiatrists. Unless otherwise treated, low functioning borderlines lead self destructive lives and attempt to manipulate those around them with desperate acts, including self harm (cutting, etc.).
  • High Functioning Borderline – The High Functioning Borderline Personality shares many core aspects of the low functioning borderline personality, except for the fact that they can manage their lives, appear to be productive, and generally keep their relationships civil (even diplomatic in nature). High Functioning borderlines can appear to be normal, driven people one moment; then moody, inconsolable, and manipulative the next. Somehow, there is a mechanism within the minds of High Functioning Borderlines that allows them to lead somewhat “competent” lives, despite the fact that they are in a constant battle with BPD. High functioning BPDs are no better than low functioning: it’s basically the same face wearing a different mask.
  • Extroverted Borderline – Anyone familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality tests will understand the psychological differences between extroversion and introversion. When these characteristics are mixed with BPD, there are two different results. The Extroverted Borderline typically pushes all their feelings, fears, manipulation, rage, and moodiness outward to the people around them. In essence, if you are around an extroverted BPD, you feel like you’re living through their emotions while coping with your own at the same time. Further, extroverted BPDs will attempt self abusive acts in plain view of others in order to avoid abandonment or to express their rage. For example, an Extroverted BPD might cut themselves and then immediately share it with family and friends around them, hoping to gain sympathy or attention. In most cases, these types of behaviors frighten non-Borderlines, and they wonder whether or not the Extroverted BPD should be committed to a psych ward.
  • Introverted Borderline – Contrary to popular belief, “introverted” doesn’t necessarily describe someone who is a recluse (agoraphobic). Instead, introversion is characterized by experiencing life in a self-reflective, private, and at times distant manner. To others, introverts may appear shy or lacking in people skills. This might be true, however, introverts make up for their lack of social skills with rich inner lives, thoughts, and deep thinking. As a result, the introverted Borderline primarily focuses all their BPD emotions and reactions inward. Instead of having a rage episode in public, they might retreat to their rooms and cry for hours on end, perhaps even cutting themselves for their own amusement or as stress relief. Introverted Borderlines live in an odd world: on one hand, they spend most of their time in personal thought and reflection, looking to fill themselves with a viable sense of self; but on the other, they are conflicted by emptiness and the bottomless emotional pit that BPD produces. Introverted BPDs might be harder to “spot” unless you happen to know one personally, in which case you might notice occasional depressive symptoms and evidence of self harm.
  • Transparent Borderline – The Transparent Borderline is a bit of a mix between a high functioning borderline and either extroverted or introverted tendencies. In plain terms, Transparent Borderlines live double lives: on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different. As a result, they may or may not be high functioning due to this conflicted state of mind. Transparent Borderlines spend most of their emotional energy trying to balance the personality demands of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the both of which experience strong BPD emotions like anyone else with the disorder. Like Introverted Borderlines, Transparent Borderlines are harder to spot, and often only confess their true disposition after a harrowing rage, major break up, or other severely traumatic event that brings all their BPD feelings to the fore.

If I were to characterize myself, I would have fallen in the “Transparent” category, with “High Functioning and Introverted” tendencies. To qualify that statement further, I would have describe myself as self reliant and capable of meeting all my basic necessities, but deeply conflicted with misguided BPD emotional energy. Friends might have describe me as “hard working but sometimes shy”, when in reality the hard work was just a cover for my inner persona that is constantly at war with itself. Co-workers had no idea I struggled with this disorder.

All things considered, I really don’t think any one type of BPD is better than another. The bottom line is that each type of person is troubled by BPD, and this wreaks havoc on their lives based on the “rest” of the personality traits that comprise them. No matter what category you fall into, I would suggest educating yourself, getting treatment, and taking medication if necessary. Life is hard enough without having the BPD demon inside you.

Friendships In Recovery

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Especially when you’re in recovery. It’s important to have a solid support group around you. If your “friends” don’t support you or help you through the hard times then maybe consider taking a step back like I did and continue to do. Maybe they don’t understand your journey or difficult times. They don’t need to. Just be you and continue on with those who do support you and understand. Surround yourself around people who inspire you and motivate you through recovery.

I recently went through my personal Instagram and Facebook and deleted a few hundred people. Not because they are bad people or I don’t get along with them, but simply because it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality of those friendships. Not to mention the amount of negativity out there on social media, I have to keep my environment positive. I keep those around me who are there for me, motivate me, inspire me and support me. Thank you to all that do.

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Locus of Control

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I just learned what locus of control is in my therapy session tonight. In personality psychology, locus of control refers to the extent in which individuals believe they can control events affecting them.

Internal vs. External Locus of Control

Individuals, such as myself, with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. Where as people with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors such as the teacher or the exam.

I didn’t always have internal locus of control. Several years ago, I blamed everything else in my surrounding for my self-inflicting pain as a borderline and I used to praise others for their help in getting me promoted at work. During my recovery and personal development, I am changing and can feel it.

As someone with BPD, I have always struggled with unstable interpersonal relationships. I used to think that the person I was dating or the friends that I had were causing the pain in my life or I would praise them for my success, “without them I would be nowhere”. It was a sense of external LOC. I’m not saying that everyone with BPD has external LOC, I just know this to be true for me based on my personal experience.

Over the last year of my recovery I have learned that when I have an episode, or when I get issued a verbal warning at work for example, that it’s all me. Nobody else. My boss isn’t an asshole (although he may be at times), he’s just essentially doing his job. If I get promoted at work, it’s because of all MY hard work. I’ve switched my focus from external to internal LOC and I didn’t even realize it until my therapist said something. I am accountable for my actions and mistakes. I thought this was really interesting.

Do you have BPD? If so, would you consider yourself to have internal or external locus of control? Do you hold yourself accountable for things that are in your control?

My Experience with Borderline Personality Disorder

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Internal Borderline

The 9 Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder explained as experienced by me in an “internal” sense. A lot of these do not apply to me anymore due to my hard work with recovery but I sometimes struggle with a couple of them.
  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5)

Sometimes I would have frantic thoughts about how I’m going to handle, manipulate and control certain situations that have not happened yet. During an episode, I can but not very often get myself very worked up with facts and detailed research about situations in reaction to something that has not happened, causing myself to get extremely upset.

  1. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

The love-hate relationships, oh yes!  I can feel the intensity inside me just thinking about it; feeling so loved, extremely happy and cared about to suddenly feeling forgotten, neglected, or disappointed.  I’m feeling that way right now and I’m not even in a relationship. This can happen for me with coworkers or friends, even family members. Usually I don’t say anything because I’m aware that it’s not necessarily something that others are doing, it’s just how I’m feeling or it’s just a part of the disorder. In my past relationships before I was diagnosed, the intensity was bad. The break downs over nothing, really. Just because they wouldn’t return a text message or they were dealing with something and I felt neglected, it all turned into… “I hate you” I never want to see you again to – Wait, don’t leave me, I need you, desperately. That happened far more than I care to admit.

  1. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

I was always chameleon like. I adapted and identified myself with whoever I was around or associating with. I never had a personality or a sense of who KAYLA was. If I was asked what I liked, I would tell them something they would want to hear or something someone else I was hanging out with, liked. If I liked what my friends liked then I wouldn’t feel alone or different and we would all get along better. I was easily convinced that others ideas and thoughts were always right and I was always wrong. The idea of thinking for myself or working on my own personality was terrifying. I was a follower, I needed decisions and ideas and thoughts to be made up for me. I was scared of being me, scared of being different. I had no sense of self, or what I liked. NOW, I can’t tell you how much I love being different. At 27 years old, I finally came into my own. I  finally figuring out what I like and don’t like. I discovered a huge sense of self and it is the most liberating feeling. BE YOU!

  1. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5

Promiscuous sex, alcohol and spending money. If I didn’t feel loved by someone, I cheated or slept with someone just to feel something, anything. There wasn’t even any real connection with the person, I just wanted to feel wanted during times that I was feeling so empty and alone. I truly thought that my worth was defined by someone loving or not loving me.  I would drink often, almost every night just to not have to deal with my problems. I would spend money that I didn’t have like nobody’s business, put myself in extreme amount of debt and lost a lot of valuable things around me just because shopping was what I thought, therapeutic. NOW – I will never put myself in these situations ever again. Maybe its maturity or recovery but I’m entirely grossed out by the thought of informal sex or drinking myself to sleep to not deal with my problems. If I feel empty or alone, I embrace it and sleep it off or I will surround myself with friends. If I’m dealing with an issue or problem in life, I will face it head on and not drink at all until things are resolved. I still struggle with spending, but I’ve come a long way.

  1. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.

I have never self-harmed or tried to commit suicide. I have had thoughts of not wanting to live anymore because life became too painful. Yes, I’ve thought about ways I could end my life but never attempted them. If I didn’t have my two beautiful children, things probably would have been different. They are my life and I can’t and won’t walk away from them. They are the reason I get out of bed every day.

  1. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

I’m not sure if people can accurately see how intense my mood is and how quick it changes. Some say they can but often times I try to keep it to myself unless I see it affecting somebody else. I get irritable and depressed a lot. I used to have intense anger but I’ve come a long way with it. My mood swings or episodes can last from a couple hours to a couple days depending on the trigger. Self-awareness and realization is most important, once I realize I’m having an episode it is so much easier for me to control my actions. Sometimes it takes a stupid reaction to something to realize I’m not doing okay but luckily with a lot of work I can catch it before I react. My episodes happened more often a couple years ago than they do now, In part due to medication and better understanding of the illness. If I miss one day of my meds, I will be in a dark place within 24 hours and it’s tough to get out of because I blame myself for causing it, albeit unintentionally.

  1. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

YUP! Sometimes I feel so empty I can’t feel emotions. I can’t cry, I can’t feel anger, or sadness, I can’t feel sympathetic towards others, I’m not happy or unhappy, I just simply don’t feel a damn thing. I walk around like a robot. This one rarely ever happens for me but when it does, it can be bad. I have nothing inside me to give or care. I have no filter or motivation to care about anyone including myself. I feel useless and helpless. Empty.

  1. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

Oh boy. I can’t explain how many things I’ve thrown and broken because my anger was so out of control. The name calling, and berating. I had and sometimes still do have a short fuse. I grew up watching it and living with it so I became it. I didn’t know how to control it or work on it. Now with therapy, I can’t remember the last time I reacted on anger, maybe 2 years ago? I still get angry, that’s an emotion we can get rid of, but I can control it much better than ever before. My kids used to see me get so angry and yell. Yelling solves nothing. Now if my kids are around, I will explain to them that for whatever reason, mommy is feeling angry so she is going to put her headphones in for a few minutes to calm down. They see me reacting to anger in a positive way rather than by me yelling, screaming and throwing things. I don’t want my kids to turn out that way, I don’t want them to see what I saw growing up and because of recovery – they won’t anymore.

  1. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms.

I dissociate in my nightmares at night over traumatic experiences in my childhood but nothing severe or in the middle of the day. I’ve never been paranoid or had delusions.

Mental Health Awareness

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Created my first t-shirt for MLO. On the back has a list of mental health conditions to support mental health awareness. I also ordered a few hundred awareness bracelets. Big things are happening this year, it’s going to be great! I will have an online store set up soon for those of you interested. I haven’t been blogging much in part due to preparing more for upcoming events in the Sacramento area, setting up booths to share my story and help others. May is mental health awareness month and Minds Like Ours has a lot planned. Lets stop the stigma and raise awareness!

If any of my fellow bloggers have shirts they have created, please share! I’d love to invest in more shirts to help support and raise awareness and also get your name out there too. 🙂

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Staying Positive

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How does one stay positive in today’s world?
You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. Remove the negative things in your life. Negative habits, negative people, negative thoughts about yourself and others. It may seem tough at first but I can assure you, it makes life so much better. I used to brew beer with my ex of three years, it was fun and challenging until the drinking got heavier. My health was taking a turn, and my moods changed with it. It wasn’t a healthy atmosphere for me and I wanted to eliminate it from my life all together. I wanted healthier hobbies that didn’t consist being cooped up in a garage with a group of people trying to start up their new business- great for them, but it wasn’t for me. I ended the relationship to focus on me and my kids. I got rid of an unhealthy, negative and toxic relationship to be healthier and happier. It’s hard to stay positive when you have negative people or habits in your life. You have to put yourself and your mental health first, focus on the now and be mindful. Go after what you want and don’t let negative people, or negative thoughts stop you. Remove those who gossip too much, or talk badly about others. Turn your negative thoughts about yourself into positive thoughts, love yourself and others. Surround yourself around people who challenge you to rise higher, people who inspire you, and make you a better person.

Fear

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How do you manage your fear going through everyday life?

Face it and embrace it. My biggest fear was being alone, doing things alone, going places alone. I hated the idea of it, made me sick to my stomach. I always had boyfriends because of it, I “needed” someone all the time. But then I started hating the idea of not doing things I wanted or going places I wanted to go to because I was alone. Six months ago I broke up with my boyfriend, to be single and alone. It was terrifying for me to face it but I love a good challenge and I had hope that I could overcome my fear. People do it all the time, so why can’t I? I’m braver than some people I know, so of course I could do it. I took baby steps from that point forward. Instead of traveling the world all alone, I thought it would be wise to sit in a restaurant by myself first, then go to some new place local by myself, then started traveling out of town by myself, getting a hotel by myself and the list just keeps getting better and better. Six months in and I can honestly say I no longer have a fear of being alone. There is nothing lonely about being alone. Embrace your fears, face them and learn to love them, if possible.

Anger

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How do you deal with anger in a positive manner?
As a mental health advocate, I always say, “Take something negative and turn it into something positive.” I have a temper sometimes, it used to be really bad but I have managed to change my perspective and start thinking more positively. I used to think that feeling anger was a bad thing, mainly because my dad was always angry and I hated it. It’s not bad thing, It’s okay to be angry, to feel anger. It’s how you handle that anger that can determine if it’s good or bad. When someone lies to me, I feel angry. That is normal. How I react on that anger could affect myself, my kids and others around me. When I get angry, the first and most important thing I do is try to think rationally. I tell myself that I’m aware I’m feeling angry. Once I’m aware of my feelings or emotions, it’s easier for me to control them. I used to be the type of person to react on my anger before rationally thinking about why I’m angry and how I can change it or make the situation better. Taking a deep breath, going for a ten minute walk, listening to music are things that will calm me down. Once I am calm, it is easier to review the situation and communicate in a clear and positive manner. Don’t let anger consume you or ruin your day, try to focus on the positive.