Renewing My Mind
Author: Kiana Blake-Chung
So, the second week of September 2019 is the last time (as of January 2020) that I had really strong suicidal thoughts. I had gotten mad because I thought I was late to my therapy appointment, even though I had put the wrong time in my calendar and I was actually right on time. (Go figure.) Unfortunately, even after I had figured out that there was no need to be upset, I continued to experience such an intense rage that I couldn’t snap out of for hours after the fact. My heart rate was still elevated, my breathing erratic, and I felt like I wanted to scream even though intellectually I knew everything was okay. It’s very disconcerting to have your body experience auto-pilot anger, or auto-pilot anxiety despite being okay mentally. When that episode finally passed, it was replaced by self loathing. I had been doing well for a couple weeks and it was an unwelcome realization that I could experience my BPD mood swings without warning and that this would potentially affect me for the rest of my life. I instantly wondered if there was any point in continuing to live if I had to be subjected to this reality.
I did have a conversation with someone where they told me what helped them and I don’t know why the simplest principle felt so revolutionary. They told me to be kind to myself. They told me not to judge myself based on my bad days, but rather my good ones. (It’s weird because distorted thinking will have you thinking that the good days are flukes, or something that you faked for the day. But, the good days make up our identity; the bad days are when our symptoms are showing.) They told me to correct every negative thought with the idea that my brain is doing her best with limited resources. It’s been working. Renewing your mind is a whole process that’s made up of choosing to value truth over your own feelings, moment by moment. It’s been transformative for me.
People like to talk about self love as if it’s just bubble baths and chocolates, but self love is hard when you have moments that make you painfully aware that your brain is different. It’s hard to keep yourself from labeling this difference as bad, abnormal, dysfunctional. It just works differently. Self love is even harder when you’re diagnosed with a personality disorder! One that is misunderstood and gets vilified every so often as you struggle to change your behavior and your entire way of thinking. It seems like everything that makes you YOU is located in your brain and found in your personality. So, where do you go from there and how do you continue to extend grace to yourself when you don’t even like yourself? This fight with my brain is a daily battle that at times ~seems~ like I am destined to lose. But even this is a thought process that I can re-write. “I am having a hard moment. It’s a moment that will pass like any other, and then life will continue.“ “I am experiencing symptoms of my illness. I’m not a failure because of these symptoms. I am still making progress despite whatever I am experiencing in this moment.“
Eventually, this has become second nature to the point where the negative thoughts don’t even pop up automatically. In October, I had another moment of rage evoked by an interaction with a supervisor of mine. And even though my body was shaking and I may have threatened him with physical harm if he ever disrespected me again, I kept my cool for the most part and afterwards I calmed down and that was it. No shame, no self disgust or hatred. I ate some food and took a nap, went to my next job and felt great for the rest of the day. And it all felt so natural that I didn’t realize how significantly I had grown until I recounted the events of that day to my therapist later. Which is just to say, that we are constantly growing and evolving, and we need to take the time to notice and marvel in that daily.
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