This blog is about life with mental health, and the process of having therapy for PTSD and a personality disorder.
The lines in the post title are many things:
The lines are the local railway track that I used to wander to in heavily dissociated states when I was unwell.
The lines are the scars left behind on my skin from self-injury.
The lines are the threads of miniature capillary veins that bulge with the surges and spurts of emotion I feel one after the other in reaction to triggers.
The lines are the facial evidence of my stress; the fine lines and ever increasing wrinkles that are visibly making themselves at home on the upper layers of my epidermis.
The lines are the units of hand-written sentences that I scrawled in my journal while I was unwell and before I started this blog.
The lines are the mantras I tell myself silently in my head to help myself cope and feel better.
Most importantly, the lines represent the straight and narrow life path that society dictates we should live by. My life has deviated wildly from those lines of social and societal acceptability and I’ve had to create my own philosophies and moral constructs that belong only to me.
My lines are bespoke and created by necessity because to deviate from societal lines caused inner conflict. I attempted suicide. LINE BREAKER. I am a mum with mental illness. LINE BREAKER. I have not been the perfect wife. LINE BREAKER. I have been hospitalised with the other people deemed ‘misfits’ in the psych ward. LINE BREAKER. I am a mum who lives in a rural area where everyone knows one other, yet I spoke on the telly on Monday about suicide and psychiatric hospitalisation. LINE BREAKER. I am a rebel. I spat out the template lines of social acceptability and made my own rules, just for me.
Newsflash. BROKEN CRAYONS STILL COLOUR.
I like to colour outside the lines in life, with my broken mental-illness-suffering crayons, but sometimes to steady and ground myself I mindfully colour in between the lines, just to prove to myself I can sometimes do it. This is both literal and metaphorical. See image below that I coloured in….
See, I can colour in neatly between the lines if I try, but if you’ve seen my sharpie doodle posts then you’ll know my style when I let it all hang out and be authentic is quirky and messy, just like my personality is.
My personality does not fit between the lines. I have a diagnosed personality disorder. Dr Cautious said (in so many words, boiling it down, that….) YOU ARE DISORDERED, YOU ARE DIFFERENT. YOU ARE NOT LIKE THE OTHERS, YOU ARE A NON-CONFORMING PERSON WITH A NON-CONFORMING PERSONALITY, THEREFORE HERE IS A LOVELY LABEL TO DESCRIBE THAT TO OTHERS SO THEY BELIEVE YOU ARE PROBABLY A SHIT HUMAN. Those are not her words, but that is what being diagnosed with a PD felt like to me.
Psychological therapy teaches me what societal lines are, why they’re there, how other people perceive things differently to how I perceive them, and what bits of my perceptions are valid and what bits are unusual. All that kinda jazz. I was taught DBT skills by my previous clinical psychologist- to regulate my emotions and to prevent my emotions mis-firing and exploding all over the place causing havoc and destruction for myself and my loved ones.
I now know when I’ve gone over the line, because at least I now know what the line is, what it looks like, where it is placed, why it is there, and what strategies I can use to pull myself back over the said line, so I’m back within the boundaries of societal acceptability and “normality” again. It takes one hell of a lot of self-control to do that you know. Seriously.
It is so hard to keep my voice still and calm, to not raise it; to fight back tears, to breathe through pain, to stay in situations where my inclination is to flee or panic, to speak up when my voice shakes, to approach people I don’t feel safe with, to trust people I don’t want to trust, to give people I find threatening the benefit of the doubt, to smile and meet peoples gaze in place of frowns and averted eyes, to leave the house instead of staying hidden and cocooned inside; to tolerate noise and crowds and people criticising me and people making personal comments about my personality and mental health; to cope with feelings of being hurt and misunderstood, and to know what to do when I’m in particular moods to pull myself back to the green zone and window of tolerance again.
It is all fucking hard, and sometimes I get absolutely sick of all this line crossing, and then inevitable correction by MH peeps for having crossed a line.
It is hard to feel that everything instinctive about you is wrong, and that you are a broken crayon that is failing to colour neatly between societal lines of utter perfectness.
I am not perfect. I am flawed. I deviate from the lines often and get sick to death of having to continually monitor where the fuck I am at every moment, in terms of myself in relation to those lines of interpersonal and societal acceptability.
Sometimes I want to let it all hang loose and GO WILD, just because it feels good to let go and not constrain myself so damn much. I get especially sick to death sometimes of being a NHS patient in therapy- not to say I don’t appreciate therapy, as I do, and my therapist is fab, but therapy is just GRUELLING and change is GRUELLING and keeping within the lines or correcting myself when I go over them is WEARING AS FUCK.
I’m weary of it. Weary of feeling like I fail when I cross the lines that I didn’t even decide should be there.
I can colour between the lines in a mindfulness colouring in book and make pretty pictures like these ones….
I am fucking exhausted here of the effort to control myself and my rollercoaster-ing moods. It is RELENTLESS.
I am a broken crayon and sometimes I wanna do this all over my page of living….
Thank goodness I am shortly on holiday. I’m more than ready for this….my mother-in-law is house sitting and dog sitting, and I am off with ma famille to France. In the Southern French countryside I won’t have to colour in between the lines. As long as I am a pleasant mum and a pleasant wife, there is no other pressure on me. I will let it all hang out and relax my fudgey grip on my personality crayons. I will allow myself to languish over the lines with my sharpies and self indulge in what makes me feel good rather than what society expects of me, and you know what? I can’t bloody wait!
I cannot wait to go on holiday and cross that line. 7 days and 7 nights of line-scribbling-over-LUSHNESS. BRING IT ON!!!!!!