How are you?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU ASKED SOMEONE HOW THEY WERE DOING? DID YOU GENUINELY MEAN IT? DID YOU TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN?

Many may not realize that in the moments of battling a mental illness (or any illness), these three words can make a huge impact on the day of the minds like ours (yes, I had to throw that in there). One year ago I made a commitment to myself to be sure to ask those around me how they are doing, at least one person – every.single.day. Strangers, friends, family members, and coworkers. However, it’s important to not only ask the question but to mean it genuinely. LISTEN. Watch their body language, their facial expressions, their words, their tone. It says it all.

The reactions I receive when asking this question are somewhat surprising to me. In my personal experience, the responses go one of two ways:

The first and most common reaction go something like this: Good, thanks. – Simple and quick.

The other reaction I also find common is: I did this and this today, I’ve been really busy. – Thinking I asked them what they did today or what they are currently doing, not realizing that I just asked how they are feeling.

Nowadays, a lot of conversations are unfortunately in the form of texting, and social media has taken over to show off to the world how crappy or happy we are, therefore, many won’t ask how others are truly feeling, they think they can see and understand it all through technology. OR, we are wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t take the time to ask others how THEY are feeling (I’ve been there!), OR maybe we feel as though expressing our feelings is a sign of weakness or burdensome to others (It’s really not). Either way, the question, “How are you?” is often used in passing, yet not being taken serious enough, in my opinion.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO PICK UP THE PHONE AND ASK SOMEONE HOW THEY ARE DOING.

The reason why I say this is because, as someone who lives with a mental health condition and has faced many difficult times, including the feeling of being completely alone – I really just needed someone to ask me to how I was doing in a deep way that made me feel as though they genuinely cared. This past week I have experienced a lot of emotional and physical pain. I believe some people could tell. I have voiced my feelings to a few, but not one person has genuinely asked me how I was doing…until today. My sister. Gahh – I love her sweet heart. She must have sensed something all the way from Texas because out of the blue I received a message asking me if I’m okay. It immediately put a smile on my face. (Thank you, sis!)

A couple weeks ago about 300 people were laid off from our company due to closed facilities. It was a difficult time for everyone was affected by it. One of the gentlemen that were given an end date with the company sat near me and although we were not close I still wanted to ensure he was okay. I went into his office and asked him how he was doing. His response went something like this, Oh you know – trying to get my tasks done today, I’m swamped.

I responded with, “Okay, let me ask again. HOW ARE YOU? Are you doing okay?”

The look on his face was a look of shock as though he had never heard the question before. He sat back in his chair and said, “I’m stressed out. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have options, but I need to think about which option I will take. It’s sad. Thank you so much for asking.” I sensed appreciation in his tone after our heartfelt conversation.

You see, when someone you know is in a hospital bed bleeding or with other signs of a visible injury or illness, people will run to their bedside in panic or worry asking with sincerity if they are okay. What about our invisible illnesses?

Last year, my mentee was admitted to the psychiatric hospital for self-harm. She was 15 years old. I had spent many days with her, picking her up from school, having her over for sleepovers and movie nights, and enjoyed weekends exploring and going to the movies. She was such a bright young girl, and I loved bonding with her. I received a phone call from her mother one evening stating that she was “contemplating” on taking her daughter to the hospital. I immediately advised that she admit her or I would. She needed help and was apparently suffering. I asked her mom for the information of which hospital she was admitted to, and her mom responded in shock, “Why?”. I said, “because I am going to visit her. I can meet you there if you’d like?”

The point of my short story is that her mother never showed up to visit. From my understanding, she never even called her. Her daughter was in the hospital for 5 days. When I appeared at the hospital to visit her, this young girl was completely shocked and cried as she grabbed onto me. I asked her why she was crying and she told me, she had never had a visitor before (it wasn’t her first attempt). In fact, most of her roommates hadn’t either. We sat in her room, and I listened to her talk for a couple hours. I gave her the best advice I could about coping skills and reassured her that she wasn’t alone. I learned so much that day, especially the importance of empathy.
Did you know about 8.3 million people have had suicidal thoughts in the past year? It is important to reach out and ask others how they are doing. You could save a life with one simple question and take the time to listen, and when you do, remember this:

THEIR FEELINGS ARE THEIR FEELINGS. THEY MATTER. THEY ARE VALID AND ACCURATE TO THEM. DO NOT DISMISS, DISAGREE OR TELL THEM THEY SHOULDN’T FEEL THE WAY THEY DO.

This is so important to understand. This goes for all circumstances, not just hurting people with a mental illness. For everyone.

I’ll end it with this – How are YOU doing? Respond below or email me if you need someone to talk to. Help is always out there.

-Minds Like Ours, Kayla Fae

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What we look at vs. what we see

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It’s true what they say, you can’t fully love someone until you love yourself first. The more I fall in love with myself and who I am as a person – the more I love my kids. I used to look at my kids and smile but now I can see them. I can see them in slow motion – I see their beauty, their smiles, their laugh, their joy, their curiosity, their creativity, their desire to learn and grow – I see a reflection of myself. I have learned to really appreciate and value every millisecond I have with them. It’s a beautiful thing. Recovery changed my life. My diagnosis was a blessing in disguise.  Without all of it, I would have never felt the way I do in this very moment, holding my kids. 💞

Love yourself first and see the beauty that is all around you.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” – Henry David Thoreau

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.

Knowledge is Power

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The more research and reading I did on my mental health condition, the better I understood how it all works. Awareness is key! I have a better control over my emotions than ever before thanks to DBT, research and recovery. I’ll admit, once I was diagnosed four years ago and started reading, it was scary to see how complex the disorder was but I was determined to not let fear get in the way of my recovery. I can’t tell you how many times I put this book down in tears wanting to give up. It wasn’t easy but four years later, I can confidently say I no longer meet the criteria in the DSM for Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is recoverable. Recovery is possible and help is out there. Stay strong and keep pushing forward!

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Recovery

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Recovery is something you practice – just like yoga. You can’t perfect a handstand after one class {trust me, I’ve tried}. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s something you focus on every day until it becomes your natural way of thinking, and living.

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.

Parenting and Mental Illness

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One of the most difficult challenges I face is being a single mother in recovery from BPD, aka emotionally sensitive. I often struggle with managing my emotions and leading by good example to my two little ones, ages 8 and 6, not to mention helping manage their own emotions too. I used to have mental break downs over the thought of my kids getting the same emotional struggles that I do. Prior to recovery, I prayed and hoped my kids didn’t end up like me but over the course of my recovery I see my strength, my resiliency, my positivity, and my optimistic perspective and then I realized that my kids will see all of that. They see the calmness in me, the mindfulness, the mom who focuses on self-care and the person that doesn’t give up.
My kids have pushed me to better myself; they are the reason I get out of bed and fight this battle everyday. We go on adventures together, hop in the car and drive somewhere, sit outside enjoying nature. We talk about our emotions together, knowing full well that emotions are not bad and we can talk about how we feel, calmly. I truly believe that our children’s behavior is driven by their emotions. So the best way to help our children to behave is to teach them how to manage their feelings. With that being said, anyone that knows my kids knows they don’t have temper tantrums or break downs. Sure, they get upset, mad, sad, cry but their emotions aren’t out of control and they are learning how to manage those feelings in a healthy way, like I do and that alone inspires me to keep going. Being a single parent is difficult. Being a single parent facing a mental health condition is a far greater challenge. If you struggle with this and want someone to talk to, DM me.
I’m going to be adding a huge portion to my blog on parenting with a mental illness for all those single parents out there that struggle like I do. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I help teach my children how to manage their feelings.
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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?