cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Whoa, I thought I'd finish reading the 7 Cups for the Searching Soul self-help guide on 7 Cups, and I'm suddenly seeing a bunch of connections between what it's saying and BPD. I wouldn't be surprised if I came to the same conclusions or even wrote about them before because my memory is horrible. I'll still go ahead and write some of my thoughts down real quick because I might forget about them again.

Anyway, I was rereading "Chapter 2: Denial" when these connections stood out to me. Basically (and don't be surprised if I miss something here), we spend much of our younger lives learning and categorizing acceptable and inacceptable behavior based on feedback from our parents/caregivers. The guide states that the "bad" or the socially unaccepted behaviors don't go away; they're shoved into a bag deep in your unconscious instead. In the end, who we are ends up being a product of what others have trained us to be. We naturally seek approval and validation from others, and we use it to unconsciously shape who we are. But, obviously, this can get out of hand.

What if some traits were considered bad sometimes and good at other times? What if the "social training" was inconsistent? What if the person ended up confused? What would shape who they are? How would they know how to safely act in social situations?

What parts of the self would end up in the bag then? Would any traits even consistently stay in the bag? It seems like this would create an unstable sense of self that constantly feels like it doesn't know how to be socially acceptable--and is constantly looking for clues and validation for how it acts. It wouldn't know what's effective, and even if it did, it wouldn't trust its experience as much because things have been so unpredictable.

And, of course, unpredictability in early relationships affects what's considered appropriate behavior in later relationships.

Here is a common example: many parents struggle when their kids are overly strong or angry. Parents, often times not meaning to, overcorrect this type of behavior. They may respond to anger, repeatedly, in a harsh manner or they may, unconsciously, withdraw from the child emotionally. Regardless, the child gets the message that anger threatens the relationship they have with their parents. This is anxiety provoking to a child because they need their parents in order to survive. They are dependent on them to live. What happens, gradually, is that the child learns that in order to maintain a close relationship with parents, they need to keep those angry feelings at bay. This happens repeatedly and the child eventually becomes walled off from their sense of anger. It is pushed down below the surface, into the unconscious.

This part really stood out to me. Children are naturally programmed to know that they need their parents, and they'll get anxious if their parents reject or negatively react to what they do. They need this person to live, so in order to survive, they have to learn how to properly act. If the validation for their actions was inconsistent or constantly changing, they might feel as if something terrible could happen no matter what they do. This reminds me of the relationship between someone (and I know this isn't everyone) with BPD and their "favorite person." It's almost as if it's a mirror of the child + caregiver relationship. The person with BPD has to be on guard at all times because they feel like relationships, at this point, aren't predictable.

Maybe I'll come back and rewrite this or word it better later.

cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
It has been and is going to be a pretty uneventful day. That doesn't stop me from being exhausted!

My partner helped me research devices for tracking pulse, steps, sleep, body temp, etc., and he found one that sounds great for the price! I'm hoping to try it out soon. Because of my POTS, narcolepsy, and possible sleep apnea (it's complicated), being able to find patterns in pulse and sleep sounds really helpful. I'm also trying to work on having a more consistent amount of steps/exercise throughout the day. Spending most days not moving much and having the occasional day where I move 5 or 10 times more is probably contributing to my crashes. If I could accurate track my activity, I can find patterns in what makes me feel better/worse. For now, I downloaded an app that's supposed to use your mic to track your sleep, and it seems to think that I've been going from being awake to being in deep sleep constantly throughout the night. If it's accurate, maybe that's one reason I'm so tired today.

I also started my cycle, which is making IC and probably dehydration worse. Luckily, I should be able to get fluids again soon. I'm currently getting one liter a week until I can find a doctor to set my PICC line up. It might be helping a tiny bit. It's really hard to tell.

I'm also supposed to do more physical therapy today. I adjusted my schedule so I only did my exercises 3 times a week because my muscles have been taking much more time to recover. At this point, after doing a really easy exercise, my muscles can feel extra sore for over a week. It's hard to tell if I should be exercising during that time because they say often say to rest and let your muscles rebuild themselves when you're sore. I should probably bring this up to my physical therapist. I think I'll try to do the exercises today.

What do I do on a typical Monday? Nothing out of the ordinary. Usually, I either have a doctor appointment or am staying at home recovering from something I've done on Sunday.
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Day #30: And finally... starting at your toes and working up to your head, name each part of your body and how your illness has affected it, followed by something you like about that part of your body.

Looks like I finally made it to the end in a lot longer than 30 days. This one's going to be a challenge. I'll try to not stress about it and only talk about the most commonly-known body parts.

-Toes. My illnesses have affected my toes by causing them to constantly crack and occasionally hurt when I walk. They have also made my toes constantly cold, no matter how much heat is applied to them. What do I like about them? That's hard to say. I don't have the most visually appealing toes. I like how they support me and help my balance while I walk. (That's what toes do, right?)

-Feet & ankles. My feet and ankles are affected in similar ways to my toes. Actually, they might have to go through a little more since EDS has made me flat-footed, and much of the achy pain starts around my ankles (and wrists). I like them because they support me as I walk and fit in a pretty average-sized shoe, meaning shoe shopping usually isn't a problem (though now that I have shoe inserts, that part has changed a bit).

-Calves. They're often hit by the achy pain when it starts to spread from my ankles. My calves have to deal with that... as well as the pain that shoots down when my knee pops into a weird position. They're also a lot weaker than they used to be and are often sore from mild exercise I did over a week ago. One thing I like about them is (similar to everything else) they allow me to walk. Sometimes I like how they look, too. It really depends.

-Knees. When cataplexy hits, it likes to go for the knees. I also get a lot of sharp pains and weird pops in them--probably from the EDS. The pain, occasional limited mobility, and the constant about-to-crack feeling can make it hard to walk. I like that they allow my legs to bend, and I find wobbling my knee caps around kind of amusing. (Yes, I know I shouldn't be doing that.)

-Thighs. My thighs are affected similarly to every other part of my legs. The achy pain often spreads up there, too, and they're much weaker and more shaky than they used to be. On top of that, I feel a lot of my period pain (which can get bad) in my thighs, and they have to deal with pain caused by hip issues. Like the rest of my legs, they allow me to walk. I also like how they look occasionally--or I did when I had a little more weight on me. They have potential.

-Hips. A lot of my joint pain comes from my hips. They're also partially responsible for my flat feet and therefore cause pain in a lot of other areas. And (thanks to the EDS), they can bend pretty far in different directions and freak other people out. That can be fun.

-Stomach. The upper part of my stomach (which would technically be my stomach) has caused a lot of nausea. My lower stomach has to deal with bloating, IBS symptoms, as well as period pains. I like how it can digest food, which means I can eat and enjoy food. It doesn't really look bad either.

-Chest. My illnesses have caused heart palpitations, tachycardia, breathing issues, lung inflammation, etc., so my chest often hurts, feels really off, or feels heavy. Still, my heart and lungs keep me going when they can. I'm often grateful for that.

-Back. This is where most of the ongoing pain is. No matter what position I'm in, it hurts to some degree. It's mostly in the upper back and probably comes from a mix of scoliosis, nerve problems, ribs being in the wrong position, and inflammation. The muscles in my back can also get weak, making it hard for me to hold myself upright. But, for most of the time, my back can hold me up decently, and I'm grateful for that. It also plays a role in stabilizing the rest of my body. When it's fixed, some other body parts will probably feel better as well.

-Shoulders. They mostly experience lots of popping, weakness, and pain. I think I generally like how they look, though... minus the boniness. They also serve me well when they're working somewhat correctly.

-Arms & elbows. Even though my elbows bend really far backwards, my arms aren't affected too badly. I'll get the occasional sharp elbow or upper-arm pains (probably from my shoulder), and they'll get inflammed a every now and then, but they're almost left untouched compared to the rest of my body. Oh, and they're often where tremors and muscle jumps are located. To be honest, I'm not that fond of my arms, but... they help me get through the day? I think I also like the freckles on them because that makes them somewhat unique.

-Hands & wrists. I get a lot of tremors in my hands, so doing anything that involves fine motor skills can be difficult. My wrists are also where a lot of the achy pains start. But my hands still do allow me to do some things I can enjoy, like playing games, drawing, or doing makeup. (The tremors have definitely made all of those activities more difficult, though. At least that gives me a challenge...?)

-Neck. Like my upper back, my neck goes through a lot of consistent pain. Often, after spasms, I'll have a hard time holding it up. To be honest, it's hard to think of something I like about my neck. It holds my head up and can bend a lot. That'll have to be good enough.

-Head. I get a lot of headaches--probably for multiple reasons. I'm also going to mention the vertigo because it's been annoying the heck out of me for the past however many days. The skin on my face also gets messed up, and my eyes are usually very heavy and hard to keep open from constantly being on the verge of sleep. I can also get a lot of tingling and other weird symptoms in my head. When it comes to my eyes... I often temporarily lose vision or grey out when I stand up, and there are constantly floaters and other moving things in my vision. And my throat hurts. And then there's brain fog and all the other brain problems. I'm going to stop now, though. Something I like about my head? I like that I can use it to think my way through this stuff (even if I'm not that happy about how I think), and I like that the senses on my face can take in the environment around me. And I like that my brain, in turn, can often find something unique/artistic about it.

* * *

Hopefully that was somewhat readable. My head got foggier and foggier as I wrote this, and I had to return from multiple interruptions. At least that shows my dedication, right?

Thanks to whoever came up with this challenge... and to the person who posted it on 7 Cups. I'm glad I came across this and will probably continue to read the things other people write.
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Day #29: What has helped you cope with the stress of this lifestyle?

I'll list a few things that come to mind. 

-My cats. They've always given me a reason to keep going, and they're really good at comforting me. It's also nice that they'll come to visit me when I'm lying down when I don't have people who can/will. 

-My partner. I've never been as comfortable around anyone else. He knows me really well, and we've been through some tough times together I didn't think we'd make it through. He's stuck around when he probably should have left. Several years later, he's still with me and understands the whole chronic illness thing surprisingly well. 

-My mom. We usually don't get along too well, and things can be chaotic between us, but she lives with many of the same illnesses. I learn a lot from her, and she plans a lot of my appointments for me because I can't get myself to talk to people. This lifestyle would've been much harder without her.

-Coffee. It seems to help with my pain and therefore makes me more functional.

-Online communities. Knowing others who also live with chronic illness can be comforting and can help me have lower expectations of myself. 

-Food that's easy to get and eat. Do I really have to explain this one?
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Day 28: Name 5 things you have achieved despite your illness.

1. I may be taking a break from school now, but I've been able to take a few classes despite feeling horrible.
2. Traveled to a few new places, including New Mexico and Yellowstone. Yes, I've had to do a lot of pacing and felt bad for a good amount of the time, but I'm grateful for the experiences I've had at those places.
3. A professor wanted to keep my essay as an example for future students once. 
4. I've gotten some letters from a few honor societies even though I've only taken a few classes (probably the reason I got high grades). It's weird because they started sending me them a little while after I started my break from school.
5. Pretty sure I've won some rollerblade and foot races when I was little, and I remember having a lot of joint pain back then (though it was periodic).
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Day #27: What's the most helpful advice you have had?

I know I say this a lot, but this one won't be easy to answer either. If tried to come up with the most helpful advice I've received, I would probably spend way too much time thinking and still not come up with an answer.

Some generally helpful advice I've heard is to figure out what you have the energy for, trust it, and accept it. Respect your body/mind for what it can do, and appreciate it for how hard it fights. Give yourself a break. Or two breaks. Or two hundred. Work on accepting your limitations, and don't try to stop yourself from grieving your old expectations if that's what you need to do. If you have a hard time doing something, let someone help you. Remember that it may not be hard at all for them. You're doing great.

Okay, that's not really one piece of advice. I just named helpful tips and reminders I've heard off the top of my head... but I think they all really have helped me.
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
Looks like it's Mindful Monday. At the very least, I'm hoping to do the mindfulness exercise 7 Cups is giving me today. And since I seem to be doing better mentally, I might try to focus on the moment and keep myself from zoning out like I normally do. I'm not going to aim to be more engaged for the entire day; instead, I'll congratulate myself for returning my awareness to the here and now throughout the day. Even if I only remember to do it once, it's a step up from not doing it at all.


cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)

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