My moods run the gamut of the emotional spectrum pretty much every day. Yesterday I went from extremely happy and calm to anxious and sad, to feeling suicidal and self-harm prone, and this was simply because someone said something mildly negative. It rewrote my whole story of self. My sense of self is tenuous at best. Some days it is more solidified than others but it doesn’t take much to unravel. When I first started reading about BPD, lack of sense of self was one of the diagnostic criteria that surprised me the most and eventually made the most sense. I would say most of the time I have a sense of self but all it takes is one uncomfortable situation and I start to question everything. Like yesterday I was convinced that I was in a positive place, that what I was doing was useful and well done, and then one line of text made everything I had believed true a minute before, completely false.
Yesterday was hard too because I was having anxiety about the Holidays and traveling and being around people. Then I received that weird feedback. Then I had a particularly intense session with Therapist, which threw me off for an hour until my Xanax calmed me down. Some of our discussion was about my suicide attempt. When I see friends experience a suicide as I did a couple days ago (RIP Ty), I am reminded of what I put my loved ones through. Watching others’ pain brings up feelings of guilt and remorse. I survived only through chance. I used the word lucky, which Therapist thought was a good sign because I never used to use that word. Instead I was unhappy that I had survived. And I do think I was lucky. I was in a dark, dark, psychotic, obsessive place when I jumped but I’m not in that place now, which means I never would have had that chance to recover had I not lucked out on the way I landed. Breaking two vertebrae could have ended very, very badly, but it didn’t. I needed surgery but I’m still walking, talking, thinking, and for all intents and purposes as functional as I was before. I’m used to chronic pain so having some back pain isn’t a new sensation.
I just got some great news. Talk about running the emotional gamut. I got into the post-bac premed program I applied to, which means I’m one step closer to getting into Nursing school. I was really sure that I wouldn’t be accepted. I never did the sciences in college aside from the requirements. I went into liberal arts and humanities and didn’t look back, even when I started a master’s program in Medieval Studies. SO! I decided in the last few years while I was dealing with all of my mental health frustrations that I needed to do something practical with my life. A lot of nurses I dealt with were amazing and changed my experiences for the better. A lot of nurses were terrible and made my experiences much more unfortunate than they needed to be. As someone with experience “on the inside,” so to speak, I was inspired to try and make a difference by being one of the good nurses.
Emotions went from excitement, pride, joy, surprise, to anxiety, fear, worry. It’s still new. I haven’t been in school in like 4 years and it was for something completely different. I haven’t done math since college, and real math since high school. But this is why I’m doing a post-bac program, so I can learn my basics again before applying to nursing school. I’m just concerned because I haven’t been very active over the last six months and jumping into a school program is going to be very different. I worry I won’t be able to keep up, or I’ll get so stressed that I’ll get depressed. Bad things happen when I’m depressed. As Therapist would say, this is my “story.” This is the story that I’ve written for myself over my lifetime. Bad things don’t have to happen when I’m depressed, I just assume that they will because they have in the past. It is important that in the moment I try to write a positive story, partially so that it doesn’t become self-fulfilling.
There’s something about the type of work that I have ahead of me that doesn’t feel as overwhelming as, say, writing a 60+ page thesis of my own design on an obscure Medieval topic that people haven’t written about already. That’s where I got stuck in my last degree, which I almost finished. I had one course and my thesis left to do and I just got writer’s block. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write about. It didn’t feel right or possible. So I couldn’t do it. I got depressed. I left school eventually. Then I went to work and I was happy. I could go 11-7 and then leave my work behind for the night. I like talking to people, helping them, hearing their stories and their desires. Retail is great if you are a people person. I’m not sure I am, but I do love to study people. I’ve always been an observer. Now I want to put that observation to good use.
Psych nurses have such an interesting job. They have to be counselors and physical medicine practitioners at the same time. When you’re in the psych ward, in my experience, you’re assigned a primary nurse who stays on your case the entire time you are in the ward, and you also have daily nurses. There’s always someone working who is your designated “go-to” person. These nurses have to tackle such a wide range of issues from I’m bored to I’m having palpitations to I hurt myself to I’m hearing voices, etc (if you can think of it, they’ve heard it). I know that I came to them with a huge variety of issues. They have to deal with psychological and medical emergencies, things most people wouldn’t even believe.
I have been told I’d make a good nurse, which is part of why I started along this path. I’m trying to repeat that to myself. I don’t know if you noticed this but I’m pretty insecure. When you’ve been beaten down by your own mind for so long it’s very hard to have a positive outlook or feel brave. For example, I started to cry because I was suddenly so overwhelmed by everything that getting into school entails. I can’t just stay with the moment, with the good news, with the first step. I immediately incorporate all of the future steps related to the task, which quickly becomes overwhelming. My world gets loud. But it is good, and I’m going to work on focusing on the present. The future will happen on its own if I deal with my Now.
I can assure you that today I will feel literally every emotion aside from perhaps being homicidal. It will be a whirling, swirling mess that will leave me raw and in a puddle of goo by the end of the day. It will take me another day to recover. And then the day after I’ll be back to my equilibrium. At least I know, these days, that I’m generally slow to emotionally recover from things so I don’t expect results too quickly or get angry at myself for taking so long. It is what it is. I’m working on managing emotions and that’s the most I can do.