Off the Bandwagon, Crossing the Streams

I’m going back through the checklist that manages my life with BPD and diabetes and noticing that I’ve really let my new habits go during the holidays.

As described in an earlier post, I take Saturdays off from trying to accomplish everything on my list, but I’ve also decided that holidays are likewise exempt. Who wants to spend Christmas looking at a little black book trying to determine what comes next in a day of productivity? The problem with that is, if you consider the addition, there are four days out of the last two full weeks that I haven’t bothered to even crack open my Moleskine, and I can really feel the difference in my body and my mental state.

So, this being Monday, and the start of a new week, I’ve decided to rededicate myself to trying to get everything done. So far, today’s been good. I’m on time with my scheduled list of activities, and my blood glucose has been very good (both readings so far today in the high 90s).

This past weekend has been an exercise in putting my own health on the back burner in order to concentrate on my wife’s well-being. Without going into a lot of detail (I’ll leave that to her on her own blog, if and when she’s ready), most of last week has been a rough spot for her. Like me, the external validation wasn’t enough to fight the internal monologue, and she’s been struggling to keep a game face on. Unlike me, she rarely lets anyone ever know she’s having a bad time of things, so she keeps a brave face on until the negative self-talk is too powerful to hide anymore. This weekend has been one of those times that the mask broke, and I’ve been mindful of the fact that we both have BPD, and that can be an absolutely intimidating set of circumstances for a marriage to deal with.

Yet we tend to deal with it spectacularly, and I think I have an idea why.

According to DSM-IV, two of the diagnostic criteria for BPD are “a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation” and a “markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.” When one of us begins to exhibit signs of an unstable self-image, by expressing that we feel like we’re always in trouble, or someone’s always angry or disappointed in us, or whatever method the negativity channels itself through, the other immediately contributes by expressing the value that the relationship has to us. It helps to keep one symptom from sliding into the other one because the valuation of the relationship – not the idealization of it – becomes all the sufferer tends to hear. And eventually something clicks, we’re in the moment enough to listen to it, and soon the period of being actively symptomatic begins to fade.

I say “fade” rather than “go away” because recovery from being symptomatic in BPD seems to take time proportionate to the period of active symptoms. There’s a lingering belief that being symptomatic itself was wrong and getting past that takes some effort, for both of us.

Now, that’s not to say that only one of us is symptomatic at a time. Far from it. It’s when we’re simultaneously symptomatic that we have almost every disagreement, argument, and fight that we’ve ever had. Outside of our symptoms, our marriage seems almost ideal. But those symptoms keep us struggling.

For now, she has the distraction of work, and I have the distraction of my checklists to keep me occupied throughout the day. (I also have the cat, who just interrupted my writing to get some “daddy time” in. Having had quite enough of being petted and loved on, she’s now moved on to the next big adventure in her little kitty life, and I can get back to wrapping up this blog post.) Here’s hoping that our combined distractions are going to make tonight easier for both of us.

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