Howlsthunder (howlsthunder) wrote in spiralpauper,

not positive what's 'wrong' with me

Hi, I'm new. 26, lesbian, living at home, and have been fighting depression in one form or another as long as I can remember but I've never gone to a professional to be diagnosed for anything. Just by my own research into things I most closely identify with borderline personality disorder.

To my knowledge nothing overly traumatic has ever happened to me; I've just always been very sensitive to people's words and actions. I constantly struggled to hide my emotions as they were seen as a weakness by those around me and by myself as well.

From highschool on, I had a few disastrous friendships with people who were later diagnosed as very bipolar and I eventually began to wonder if I, too, wasn't bipolar - but many of the symptoms didn't fit the bill. That's when I began to read about BPD and everything seemed to click. I can see that my whole life I've depended on other people to make me happy. It's as if I never knew how to generate my own happiness. Even as a kid I preferred if I could play with my cousins or get my sister to go on adventures with me - which is at odds with my usual shyness and dislike of and anxiety toward social situations.

As it is I really only have a couple of close friends - two that for sure I can count on for anything but both live far away right now. I've always been slow to make friends - and very picky, too. I don't put up with any kind of sh*t. ;) I've only had a handful of relationships, only one of which (so far) was any good - she is now one of my two best friends though we've long since broken up. I'm currently in the middle of a convoluted sort-of-breakup, "let's be friends for awhile first" sort of deal and it's become long-distance. My need for attention and happiness from this person has been pushing her away. I'm afraid that I will never find another amazing person like her so I am afraid to give up. But I am miserable going weeks between phone calls- I am miserable pinning my happiness on her and am afraid that I won't get better unless I detatch from her and learn to be happy on my own.

What a mess.

This relationship is mirroring a previous one that was very brief and disastrous. I feel so defeated - I am horrible at failure. When I fail something, I give up and never try again. It took me YEARS to learn to ride a bike. YEARS to learn to swim. I went years stopping trying to ski as a kid - and I love to do all these things now, once I DID learn to do them. But it has carried over to my adult life. I can't drive. I don't like looking for jobs or places to live. I don't try making friends in person.

The worst thing is I no longer do what I am most talented at: art. I'm 'gifted' with an art ability and I rarely use it. I went to college for graphic design, thinking that applied art would be a surefire way to make money and survive long enough to make REAL art. I'm lucky in that I do currently have a graphic design job that is socially un-demanding. But with this relationship falling apart and low self esteem in general I feel so empty over this job.

All my money goes toward repaying student loans. I feel I cannot afford to move out on my own and honestly don't feel motivated enough to do so. I am so uninspired by food that though I can normally eat like a bottomless pit (and yeah, I'm a twig) it is just 'easier' to go without eating even though I know it's unhealthy. (it doesn't help I can't eat glutens, rice, corn, soy, or caesin - limiting my diet to foods I HAVE to prepare - and I hate cooking).

Oddly, I am at my best in a crisis. I do not create them of course, but if someone is having a rough time of it, or if someone's place burned down, or if someone had to go to the hospital -- boy, I'm right there and able to help. It's like suddenly all the saddness falls off and I'm functioning as a support structure for those who need it. If someone I care about is sad or depressed, I am suddenly just fine and I'm saying all these constructive and positive things. I love that I can help. But when I am no longer needed, I fall apart again. And I can never hear my own advice.

I see I have forgotten how to be happy, if I ever knew how to begin with. I try SO hard to be optimistic and to think positive thoughts and to go with the flow. But my mind is a machine, endlessly thinking thoughts that progressively get darker and darker and I can't stop it. Nothing keeps my mind busy enough. I know I do it but I can't stop it - it's like it's posessed. I can be optimistic one moment then one niggling thought worms in and the cycle begins until I'm crying so hard I choke.

I spiritually don't believe in suicide so I've never attempted it though I daydream about it. 'What if i was just lazy about watching for traffic as I cross the street? What if I slipped and fell off this trail and down this cliff?' Things that may not actually kill me but could. Or maybe more importantly, they'd injure me enough to garner some attention. I fantasise that I could get enough attention this way that people would then begin to see what's good about me.

And then I argue with myself - no, I'd never actually do this. It's not healthy and people would see through it. But it's there, tempting me all the time.

I write lists of what I'm good at, what's good about me. I like to think I am a pretty decent human being but I'm just so broken. I'm at work and I am so glad I have my own space because I just start crying. "I sunburnt my eyelids this weekend," I say. Or I cover it with a fierce yawn.

It's amazing how one tiny thing can actually perk me up. I feel like a warrior in life - I can do it! I can change my thoughts and ways! I will start doing pushups and eating more! Lookit- I almost drew in my sketchbook today! :D And I'll truck on for a few days, slowly winding back down into blah. It's like I'm slogging through mental tar. And that's just it - I feel every day, each painful hour creeps by like a funeral procession. Time will not move faster for me.

I WANT to be happy. I don't want to depend on others for that happiness. Do I have to cut off everyone in order to learn to do that?

I'm also poor and cannot afford medical help at all. I'm going to talk to my mom about all of this soon - I do quite well with talking to people about things. If I could I would talk to my best friend every day about things. I fear, though, that it means I'm dependant on her for some form of mental guidance and that I should be able to figure out things on my own. I hate second guessing myself. Also, I am staunchly against using medications for myself (if it works for others, that's fantastic but it's just not part of who I am, for me). So I worry that if I do indeed have a disorder that can be logically treated that I sabotage myself by denying medication and making things rougher for myself.

That's if I ever get around to seeing a professional. My family is very... well, we're not anti-doctors by any means, but we tend to be pretty self-help oriented for non-life threatening things. This can be good and really bad. :\

So, no real point other than to kind of let loose some of what I'm feeling as a way of messy introduction.
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Any time I read up on various mental disorders, I find that many of my symptoms and thought-processes line up with a handful. The problem is that so many of them overlap, and it is not in the least uncommon to have a hodgepodge of different disorders at once. (I believe this is called co-morbidity). For instance, it's quite common for people with ADD/ADHD to develop some type of depression as a result of that disorder (and ADD/ADHD also occurs in the same sector of the brain as depressive disorders).

I strongly recommend against self-diagnosis simply because you don't truly have a way of knowing WHAT is wrong. Even trained psychiatrists and therapists often had a hard time pinning down a diagnosis. Sometimes it comes down to foregoing an official diagnosis and instead trial-and-error'ing medications until you strike upon one that fits.

There's more to being ultra-dependent on people with borderline personality disorder. A relative of mine has a good deal of experience with that disorder and tells me that one of the most common traits with it is a very manipulative personality.

I denied medication for myself for a while; I was reluctant to be on it in the first place, and then after a while of trying different meds and not being satisfied with the results for various reasons, went off them...and soon realized that being on them is far better than being off. It is a matter of finding what works, which unfortunately is nearly always a time-consuming process.

It sounds as though you know you need help from outside yourself but haven't yet accepted this on a conscious level enough so to seek the help. If I'm off-base, okay. If not, then I know that feeling very well. It's not unusual to want to help others but to deny that you yourself need help, or to feel like if YOU seek help, you're being lazy or selfish.

I don't know any way to tell you how to combat that feeling, except to consider how utterly arrogant and condescending it would sound to other people--THEY need help and you're thrilled as punch to give it, but YOU don't, and avoid or refuse it...imagine how that would sound to someone else; it implies that you're better than them, that they're weak, etc. (I'm pointing this out because I've seen this attitude in any depressed people, and certainly within myself. It took hitting rock bottom for me to accept that I CAN'T do this on my own, no matter how much I think I should, can, or ought to be able).

The fantasizing about suicide is what's known as suicidal ideation. I experienced this myself for quite a few years; last year, I actually attempted it. I don't know if suicidal ideation is a precursor to actual suicide attempts, but I would be afraid that, like me, if you think about it long enough, it eventually becomes an obsession. If you're thinking about it, that's a strong indicator you NEED to talk to someone before it worsens.

Have you researched your area to see if there is any help available for low-income persons like yourself? I was in college last year and took advantage of the free counseling through the school, as well as qualifying for sliding-scale assistance at the local community health clinic. As a result of being suicidal, I qualified for free help from the mental health clinic and a very low co-pay on my prescriptions.
one of the most common traits with it is a very manipulative personality.

Yeah, I hate that about myself, which is why I didn't mention it. Who wants to be friends with a manipulative person? :\ I guilt-trip and try to be very subtle in my wordings to get people to be around me or do things for me or, mostly, take responsibility for things so that I don't have to face it myself. It's like every paragraph out of my mouth is worded to craft the situation to my liking - and most of the time I don't even know I'm doing it. I don't think most of it is mean-spirited at all, mostly just to change perceptions of myself. Argh.

I totally agree with you that self-diagnosis is not the way to go. I just mentioned borderline personality disorder because out of everything I've read it describes how I feel to a near-T, except for being suicidal. So, I mention it as a frame of refrence, not as an absolute. I've just gotten started on a road to changing things for myself and this seemed like a good place to throw my thoughts to the wind. :)

I don't know any way to tell you how to combat that feeling, except to consider how utterly arrogant and condescending it would sound to other people

Wow, you're totally right. I'd never thought of it like that before. O_O;

I haven't researched my area yet - I have hesitated in the past because it's ALASKA and we're lucky to have ANYTHING here, and if we do it is expensive. But I'm trying to stop making excuses and I'm going to look into things as soon as I get off work. My mom is gone on weekends and will be back later today and I'd like to talk to her about it. She's strapped financially, too, but if we put our pennies together we might be able to figure something out. I'm just so tired of feeling the way I feel - I've spent too much time (20+ years) fighting this on my own and I'm starting to see that maybe I can't.
I knew for years that there was something wrong with me. I have some kind of a mood swing disorder. Maybe a type of bipolar, maybe not. But I experience extremes of postive/negative highs and lows throughout the day. It began several years ago, and I always attributed it to my dissatisfaction with work, not having gone to college, and most importantly, wanting badly to get out of my home state and somewhere else.

I fought with the damnable mood swings for years, convinced that if I changed my circumstances, especially my location, they would vanish. Then I moved, they didn't go away, and my life rapidly deteriorated until all hell broke loose and I tried to slit my wrist.

Since then, I have done considerable research into the various types of depression and disorders; I kept experiencing the paradox of knowing there was something wrong with me, but refusing to admit it was something other than my own series of failures, bad decisions, and general stupidity. I felt, primarily, that whatever was wrong with me was my own fault, that even if I did need medical help, I didn't deserve it. I alternated between thinking I was fine, and realizing I was seriously fucked up, and between wanting to get help and not feeling like I COULD be helped. It always depended on whatever mood extreme I was feeling.

Delving into anything I could that dealt with disorders, I found that I match the symptoms of someone with ADD (I was actually diagnosed with that in high school, years ago), social anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, and a few others.

The reality is that I have not been officially diagnosed with anything, because it IS so very hard to determine a clear diagnosis. But most of my doctors (I've seen several in the past 12 months) agree that I have a depression that was triggered by untreated ADD. The general opinion is that I've been living with a mood disorder, most likely a form of bipolar, but that last year everything got to be so bad that I developed full-blown major depression (also known as unipolar). I was also experiencing migraines and insomnia. The migraines had begun a while before I moved, and were infrequent enough I didn't think much about them, but they became very, VERY frequent almost immediately after I moved. The insomnia started out infrequently as well, until, this time last year, I was going days at a time without sleep, or functioning on two hours of sleep each day.

During the time when I first started seeing doctors following the suicide attempt, my mood swings vanished into a fog of perpetual depression. I was being treated for that, along with anxiety, as I began having panic attacks rather frequently. After a while, the mood swings returned. Now, I am taking a mood stabilizer drug, and at least one doctor suspects that given the chaos of the previous year, I've developed general anxiety disorder.

The only thing that seems absolutely certain is that I have a mood disorder of SOME fashion, and definitely have social anxiety disorder. So I'm being treated with drugs that treat bipolar, general and social anxiety, as well as taking drugs to relieve the migraines and insomnia. The weird part is wondering whether all the various things were happening concurrently or if one problem triggered the next. My therapist is of the opinion that untreated ADD led to migraines and depression, and that social anxiety either bled into general anxiety or that the latter was caused by the depression. The insomnia was definitely caused by the depression.

It's as fascinating as it is frustrating.
Wow - thank you for sharing all of this, it's very informative and highlights that I should not be jumping the gun before a professional diagnoses me. And it *is* fascinating to see the chain reaction of it (appeals to the science geek in me).

The good news is yesterday I made an appointment with our family doctor. We haven't seen him in awhile because our budget got pretty tight - he's a chiropractor and an Applied Kinesiologist (AK) (meshing of body, mind, emotion and how these things affect one another = holistic/integrated ways of fixing it) - I've had more physical problems fixed by AK that no other doctor my whole life has been able to fix so I trust he'll have some ideas of things I can work on and people I can see to help me figure this out. I don't know why it never occurred to me to go to him (it was my mom's idea). I think I have just always assumed I could do this on my own and didn't need a doctor's help, especially since it doesn't seem tangible like a skin problem or neck cramp. :\
What you described reminds me of ADD & "the not-so-fine art of coping"... Undiagnosed ADD-adults tend to have depression (from being made to feel like we have no self-efficacy) and can be manipulative as a means of compensating for how overwhelming certain responsibilities can be. It can account for the mood-swings, too-- your mind leaping into radically different territory from one moment to the next. Etc.

I don't mean to go about making any diagnosis, but it might be worth it to check out ADD-adult self-help information. You remind me a LOT of myself before I knew what I was wrangling.
Thanks - I never thought to look through ADD as I had cousins who were ADD but I never acted like them - wasn't overly hyper, straight-A student, all around good kid. I figure since I didn't fit the superficial stereotype that it must not be me. Of course, self-diagnosing doesn't get one anywhere ;). I've made an appointment with my kinesiologist this week (he works with balancing body, mind, emotion) - I've never discussed my emotionall well being with him before so maybe he'll have ideas of things I can do and maybe reccomend people I can see who won't put me on meds unless absolutely necessary. :\
Good luck!
ADD is slightly different from ADHD, which is the type that includes hyperactivity. ADD excludes hyperactivity as a symptom.

Undiagnosed ADD (or rather untreated ADD) in adults is, from what I've observed, commonly associated with accompanying depression. People who suffered the classic symptoms as children--inability to follow through on tasks, problems with staying focused--what appears to be a short attention span to people who don't understand ADD--and even hyperfocus on the things which interest you most--often experience other problems as adults. The two primary issues are physical/mental exhaustion and migraines, the idea being that as mature adults we learn to force ourselves to follow through on necessary tasks, force ourselves to concentrate, etc. Essentially we're ramroding our ADD brains into doing what they're supposed to do without actually eliminating the ADD itself, which results in stressed-out brains, for lack of a better description, which leads to the other symptoms.

This is one reason why adults with ADD often develop other disorders as well. As the previous poster said, a lifetime of ADD/ADHD can lead to piss-poor self-esteem, both from the opinions of outsiders and from our own feelings of incompetence or inadequacy--feeling like we must be stupid or lazy or insane. Also, the fact that untreated, ADD can result in a lifetime of problems--inability to hold down a job, broken relationships, impulse contrl that leads to financial difficulties, and cluttered, disorganized homes...ADD very easily can trigger the onset of a depressive or anxiety disorder, or both.

The most obvious symptom of ADD center on one's ability (or inability) to concentrate on any one thing for an extended length of time, especially things which hold no interest for the afflicted person: having a perpetually messy room because even though you might try to clean it, you are always easily distracted by the slightest thing that's more interesting: sitting down to clean out from under your bed, finding a magazine, and reading it for an hour. Or starting to work a math problem for homework, and ending up daydreaming for hours instead because you just don't have enough interest in the homework to for it to sustain your attention. Referring back to hyperfocus, another trait of ADD is getting extremely wrapped up in what DOES interest you, so much so that someone would have to physically shake you to get your attention. It could also mean something like, in the pretense of cleaning your room, you take five hours to alphabetize your CD collection.

Of course, those are not conclusive on their own; they are merely indicators that tell professionals to consider ADD as a likely candidate for the problem. Going solely by what you've posted here, I would doubt you have ADD, or you probably only have a very mild case of it.

Of course, there are also various types of ADD, including something known as "mixed-type ADD." It sounds to me more like you have a depressive disordre without ADD being present, but then, that's just my opinion based strictly on this post.

I'm glad you're seeing someone who can properly diagnose and treat you, or at least refer you to someone else.

Good luck!
Ahh, I see. Thank you for the clarification - you are very informative and you say things in a way that don't make my eyes blurr over. ;)

I'm really looking forward to Friday. I started to fall apart again today but my mom was there for me and helped take my mind off things. I kind of wish I'd told her about all of this years ago. I'm used to her usual way of dealing with things - telling me to buck up, it's not as bad as I think, I'm blowing it out of proportion. But she's been very sensitive and actually listened to me and took me seriously about this, which has been an eye-opener. O_O;