Saturday, February 27, 2010

An island of peace

I've had a traumatic day. A bittersweet day.

Now, I feel very proud of myself. I've been working hard the past 3 months to learn ways to set boundaries, manage my emotions, communicate better, and be honest with myself and others. I'm on a higher lithium dosage now too, so that helps. My roommate is moving out and decided to not give 30-days notice. Rent is due Monday and he won't pitch in his half. We had a "confrontation" this morning. It ended with him storming out the door just before I completely lost it.

I'm disturbed that I almost lost it. I've been working so hard and I should be better than that. I'm working to have compassion with myself though. No one is perfect and every situation isn't perfect. I wonder to what degree I am disturbed by being angry and having a short temper versus having bi-polar. There is a lot of guilt.

For the first time, in forever, I feel as if I dealt with the situation maturely and rationally. And, I set boundaries that I won't give in with. I have this odd sense of peace that I am no longer giving the other party the power to control me. I have totally accepted whatever decision he makes already. Experiencing this is completely new to me. Normally I'm thrashing, trying to speculate what the next move will be, being totally in anguish and angry that "someone would do this to me". Its a good stress to be dealing with this boundary setting. I'm still terribly angry about it all, but I DON'T FEEL VICTIMIZED!

That was the first half of my day. I then went off to Starbucks, got some tea and read my book, "Buddha's Brain". I've been getting "self-help" books from the library. I view reading them as my daily psych homework or therapy homework. My next chapter was, ironically, on how to "cool the fire" when emotionally charged. It took a while to get through it because I had a lot of applicable subject matter in which to apply the chapter's material to. I'm glad that I did.

My next task on the daily agenda was to try out a weekly discussion group at the Center for transgender. It was a terrifying experience to build up the courage to do even go. When I am really scared or anxious or nervous, I often jump into Bex.

Bex is my strong, independent fighter. Bex is often more courageous than Alex and Vicki are willing to be. Alex and Vicki can be, they just choose not to be. Being tri-gender is not like having multiple personalities, even though it may seem that way. I am one person with one set of beliefs, values, ideas, preferences, characteristics, etc. My gender influences how I react to those beliefs, values, ideas, preferences, etc. So in this case, Bex is more courageous only because hir gender naturally inclines to take advantage of that character trait on a stronger level than Vicki or Alex. Vicki would rather let someone else be courageous but certainly can be just as courageous as Bex if forced into the situation.To be thorough, Alex is probably more courageous than Vicki but less than Bex. Alex tends to be somewhat chivalrous. Bex is kinda like the wood nymph/elf in "In the name of the King" movie played by Kristanna Loken.

Anyway, I had a very positive experience at the discussion group. It was my first time being out to strangers and first time talking about things that have never gotten any further than being thought about. Again, good stress. Half way through, I switched into Alex, which was unusual. Alex rarely comes out in front of other people, especially a group of people. In fact, last week was the first time Alex was "out" in front of a group of people. I intend on going to the group on a regular basis now.

The unfortunate thing about being Alex, today, following this group session, was that I was going to go see the Vagina Monologues. It was good. I enjoyed it. I laughed a lot. I also got an exercise in separating my gender from my sex. So often, we think of our gender as our sex. But I'm watching this show and identifying with the women because I have the same mechanical, physical features. But emotionally and mentally I couldn't identify with them. I could empathize and even remember memories of being/thinking/feeling similar situations when I am Vicki though. I went to the performance with the bf of a friend of mine. Later we got into a discussion and he was amazed that my guy-gender thoughts & feelings completely mirrored his own of the performance. To be honest, I was a bit amazed too, cuz I don't usually get a chance to "calibrate" my guy-thoughts with other guys to see if they are "normal". Honestly, I think I would have gotten more out of the performance if I had been Vicki. But all in all, I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing it again someday.

Its been a stressful day, but mostly good stress. I've had a lot of emotions come up and I've been able to deal with them constructively. I've had a lot of new situations that I have had to negotiate and I didn't break down, rather grew stronger. I leave with one of my favorite quotes....

"I beg you.... to have patience with everything unresolved in you heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms of books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer..."

And that is what I'm doing now. I've living my way into my body, mind, and spirit. I don't know what kind of man Alex will become, nor what kind of woman Vicki. I don't know what gender Bex is. I don't know if I will recover from my bi-polar nor will I know what kind of damage the Celiac and Bi-polar have done to me. I've search for these answers and only gained misery. I've spent 22 years asking WHY? and HOW? and WHEN? and so many more. But when I stop asking them, I find sensations and experiences and this intricate dance withing myself. Sometimes its a balancing act. Other times its a dialog or an interplay. Its this mindfulness, and sometimes over-analysis, that has helped me find a nugget of peace in a swirl of insurmountable challenges. A small island of peace that has never existed before. I'm a new person, and every day is proving that now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogging is therapeutic

I've been inspired. I've been using the Google Reader for a few months now. The Reader is an RSS feed organizer and subsequently I've tagged over 200 different blogs that I keep track of in kind of a personalized magazine. I've even got a funnies section. :-) hehe. I track all of my gluten free recipes (because I'm writing a cookbook) and craigslist ads from specific sections (cuz I'm looking for a job).

What is inspiring me particularly, however, is two part. First, there is Anna Adrift ( It is a blog by a young woman who is in grad school for neuroscience and has Bipolar Disorder. I suspect she has Bipolar I, although, i'm not sure. Anna states that her blog is 1) therapeutic and 2) helps others.

Now, I certainly understand the therapeutic thing on a personal level, because it was a vital tool I used in Europe to manage my bi-polar. (I have Bipolar II) I also can see where the helping others would come in, because there a dozen or so blogs that have had a significant impact on me in the past few months. I have unfortunately been unable to convince myself to start journaling. I would like to convince myself to take up blogging again, however. And this time, I'm letting it all hang out. I've been learning lots of fun things lately about emotional blackmail, manipulation, boundaries, and so much more. I have also searched the web for other bloggers like me, that have this unique set of issues. Alas, the are not easy to find. The last time my blog was widely read, I once posted a negative comment. I was chastised for weeks. Fortunately, like I said in my previous blog, those who care about what I say and don't like it, I'm not a whole lot attached to you right now. And just for clarity, I would like to say: I will say and do and I damn PLEASE! ... that includes being transgender/fluid gender, having fluid sexuality and enjoying it!, accepting my so-called faults as none other than my own personality quirks, and treating myself and others with as much respect as I can (I'm not perfect here.... but I try). I'm trying to learn how to forgive and be compassionate towards myself, to stop abusing myself ( and manage my disabilities.

Fortunately, UCSD Outpatient Psychiatry is an amazing resource (for those without insurance, ironically!) I have a mentor, and therapist, and two psychiatrists. My mentor, Dale, has been great. Last week he helped me complete the paperwork to officially apply for Disability. I hope it goes through and we don't have to appeal. Everyone these days is getting denied from government programs... disability, unemployment, etc. The system is totally overwhelmed it seems. Fortunately, however, i didn't get denied for student financial aid. I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!! I start school at the end of March. I digress, however.

The second half of why I am inspired to start blogging again is Adam. Last fall, as some of you may know, I started working for a residential solar company here in San Diego. It was a tiny little start-up which had sold only 13 solar systems and I became one of the founders. I eventually became the director of marketing, controlling 1/3 of the company and bringing in almost $1 million in solar sales. Adam and I had also recently moved in together. Unfortunately, I had a severe manic episode followed by a depression which resulted in Adam leaving me and eventually moving out and me also losing my job at California Solar Innovations at about the same time. This being the 7th job and 2nd boyfriend I have lost due to "emotional" problems in one form or another, I knew I had to do something. The first step towards recovering from mental illness is ACCEPTING that you have a mental illness. Loosing the two greatest things I had in my life at the same time definitely gave me an adequate wake up call to accept the truth.

So, since then I have been working very hard. The fruits of my labors is finally coming to terms with ALL of my disabilities and learning how to heal from my past and set boundaries, healthy boundaries, for myself.

I feel bad that these simple things could have prevented 99% of all the problems Adam and I had. We have been trying to maintain a friendship which is becoming increasingly more difficult. Everything is fine if I never say or do or ask for anything (which is the status quo). But, this lack of (what I now know as) boundary setting, is making me very bitter. My psychiatrist and mentor has been emphasizing that oftentimes, those with bipolar need written instructions. My therapist has been giving me tools to communicate both verbally and written. So, I made an effort today to write down my feelings and logically and maturely say what I need.

It didn't go so well. Adam took it as immature and insulting. We had a big fight. When he left, I started texting him (which I usually do). I can't think straight when I'm really emotional. I forget words and start shaking and crying. I oftentimes can't even remember what I wan't to say if I get interrupted. But I can always work through it if I write it out. We eventually managed to work it out, through text (which ironically makes him furious... i guess not a got mix for me being so text oriented). It feels though, that something either irrevocable has occurred, or something that was always there but just wasn't communicated so clearly has been said. A firm boundary perhaps has been built. This feels in part like a victory because this is a boundary I have struggled to build my whole life. It is also a lack of this boundary that has caused me much misery when it comes to my relationship with Adam. I feels like I lost something though. I feel more isolated, limited. By creating a boundary I am no longer in symbiosis with those around me. Their needs and wants are no longer mine, which means that I can't be distracted and stay busy with their "stuff" all the time either. Its a bit lonely. Don't get me started on my theory of why i've got terrible boundaries. Maybe some other time.

It doesn't help either that my new roommate is super depressed and doesn't talk. He is passive-aggressive and I'm starting to get super passive-aggressive too. I'm trying to exercise my new skills, but I feel like I'm making very small baby steps.

Again, I digress.... the point I'm trying to make, ultimately is that because of this fight with Adam I've come to realize that I need to focus on writing in order to compensate for my out of control emotions or my frozen state emotions. This seems a logical step for me. Seeing bloggers such as Anna do what they do and say what they want to say the final piece of the puzzle that has helped me put this 2 and 2 together. Blogging is 1) therapeutic. As an awesome bonus, maybe someone else will connect with my struggles too.