Daily Archives: November 4, 2017
Hi, do you feel like garbage? I have some suggestions for you.
The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Vanity Fair
My fellow-blogger, David Kanigan, posted his responses to this questionnaire. He’s a very level, non-exhibitionist type, so I was intrigued by what kind of questions would tempt him. Of course, this list offers a depth of navel-gazing seldom seen on Facebook or Twitter. And, I could NOT pass it up. So, here are my Proust answers.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? The moment of release when my bipolar symptoms lift. The Relief. The Clarity. The Gratitude.
2. What is your greatest fear? One by one, I’ve experienced all of them (except being eaten by a shark), and carried on.
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The inability to follow through. However, as I work on accepting it, I find small ways I can follow through.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Acting out from their fear and hatred.
5. Which living person do you most admire? Jimmy Carter
6. What is your greatest extravagance? Art Supplies
7. What is your current state of mind? Cautious. I’ve been going through big mood swings as of late, and I wake up on guard.
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Hope. It is full of expectation.
9. On what occasion do you lie? I used to lie when people asked, “How are you?” Now I answer, “That’s a loaded question.” Mostly, I lie with silence.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Being obese.
11. Which living person do you most despise? No-one. I don’t understand a lot of people.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to take action.
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Self-confidence.
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? All versions and permutations of “fuck.”
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My grandmother
16. When and where were you happiest? In my childhood room, drawing.
17. Which talent would you most like to have? To play the guitar well.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To be at a healthy weight.
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? This blog and the short fiction posted in it.
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Someone with loving and genetically healthy parents.
21. Where would you most like to live? At this moment, Des Moines.
22. What is your most treasured possession? My grandmothers’ photo albums.
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Someone unable to alter their perspective.
24. What is your favorite occupation? Arting
25. What is your most marked characteristic? Others say my laugh is unique.
26. What do you most value in your friends? Availability.
27. Who are your favorite writers? Stephen King, Wally Lamb, Tana French
28. Who is your hero of fiction? Stu Redman in The Stand by Stephen King
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Virginia Woolf
30. Who are your heroes in real life? I have lots of heroes. The most flesh and blood one is Barak Obama.
31. What are your favorite names? Rachel, Declan, Wyatt
32. What is it that you most dislike? Noise—auditory or visual
33. What is your greatest regret? My PTSD makes regret into a terror. I regret many things I did when I was very ill.
34. How would you like to die? Quickly, by my own hand.
35. What is your motto? No matter where you go, there you are.
All is Well, All is Well, All is Well: How to Settle the Up-Down Roller-Coaster of BPD and Bipolar Disorder
And all is well, because, even when things aren’t really all that well, they really might be anytime in the next few seconds or days or weeks or months. A year, maybe, at worst, but things tend to get back to a sort of homeostasis with me and stay that way for at least a week, sometimes longer, not usually shorter than a few days.
At the ripe old age of 36, I’ve discovered that the almighty “how are you doing” question is quite highly overrated and can really only measure a very finite period of time, and is really only a relevant question if you want to know how I am doing right at that moment.
Maybe it isn’t this way for everyone, but I have very little ability to look back over the past lengthy period of time and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, mostly because, at least for me, life is, in general, quite up and down on a given week.
I don’t even like filling out that paper at the therapist’s office that asks you to rate your week “on average,” because in a given week I can have suicidal thoughts while during the same week feel intense feelings of contentment and happiness.
No, it’s not like that every week, but it is like that a lot of weeks. I highly suspect most people are similar. That borderline diagnosis that they like to slap on me from time to time, that I don’t resist that much anymore, sums up the generally extreme reactivity I have to my environment and the emotional “third degree burns” that do seem to continually pop up no matter how much therapeutic salve I slather on them.
I am getting to the point (GASP!) that I am just beginning to accept all of this. So I am emotionally reactive, so things seem terrible and horrible and beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. Well, that is just a day in the life of Rosa, and probably a lot of other people, most who wouldn’t dare admit to such crazytalking.
I think so many of us, and even more of us who deal with mental illness of some sort, believe that the up and down and up and down of the bipolar/BPD/borderline/whatever-you-wanna-call-it roller coaster is just one big fat symptom. I think maybe, just maybe, it’s life, and even more, it’s what you make of it.
I don’t want to spend my whole life (as I have spent much of this blog), bemoaning the lowest of lows and glorifying the highest of highs (not to say that I will not continue to do so, because writing about it is therapeutic in itself). Instead, there needs to be more living in the moment, more striving to make each day better with the choices that I am able to make about what activities I participate in and who I surround myself with and what I feed my brain and my body.
I have felt this sense of wellness before, about my general feelings that I am likely and very quite possibly a little crazier than at least some, and the feeling of wellness has always occurred when I started taking care of my business.
I am building structure, I am exercising daily, I am eating right, I am taking care of my relationships, I am taking care of what I feed my brain, I am sitting in front of my sunlamp and I am engaging other people (outside of the Internet) through social activities (such as at the pool in exercise class or at the mental health center in groups), I am attending multiple modalities of therapy, I am creating something new everyday, I am crafting jewelry and papercrafts and hugging my dog and being nice to my boyfriend and getting plenty of fresh air and all of those things I know I need to do.
How did I learn to do all of that? Well, it’s all pretty simple DBT skills, actually put to use. That’s the key there: put to use.
As an aside, I took a test (for fun) while I was collaging at art therapy today (because my AT is an absolute nut and quirky and everything an art therapist should be), and it determined that I demonstrated a moderate internal locus of control.
Meaning that, I believe that if something is going to happen, I have to make it happen. I don’t believe in luck, I believe in actively doing. It struck me that this is what I am doing now. While for the longest time I was waiting for some external force to come and sweep me out of depression, it turns out that all I really needed to do was make some choices, force myself to start building structure, using DBT skills, and those skills build one upon each other.
Right now, and for the past little while, things have been good, really pretty good, rising up from being pretty roller-coaster-ish…and I attribute that to DBT, to making things happen, and to getting off my butt and DOING.
The act of not doing is so much easier, but the act of DOING, doing ANYTHING at all, is what is keeping me going.
Filed under: Life Worth Living Tagged: anxiety, art therapy, Bipolar, bipolar disorder, building structure, DBT, depression, dialectical behavior therapy, happiness, hope, internal locus of control, mental illness, mental-health, PTSD, relationships, willingness