A Journey towards Integration
A couple of days ago the weather turned freakishly warm for a day, and the snow covering everything began to melt. A low mist clung to the vanishing snow, everywhere in the morning, but as afternoon approached retreating with the snow into the low valleys and dells between the fields and houses. The delicate beauty of that shyly clinging winter mist struck me, and I thought to try a moment of mindfulness.
I concentrated on the scene before me, trying, almost, to absorb every detail, when a feeling of intense, passionate joy welled up from deep within me, overtaking me with agonizing fervour. Queerly, it did not interfere with the peacefulness of mindfulness, but intensified it. I felt tears come into my eyes, and I took a breath, looked away. Can’t cry, I’m not alone, most people misinterpret it. And who would understand some nonsense about peaceful mist?
It’s one thing I will miss if I go back on meds. My DBT therapist got me an appointment with the clinic’s “consulting psychiatrist” for next week, and we’ll see if he prescribes anything. My emotions are intense, and sometimes no matter how much I try to analyze, validate, reason, distract, or accept — in short, practice my DBT skills — the feeling does not go away, does not lessen with time. Then, I use marijuana.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t get absolutely blitzed at every opportunity. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. Some things I like about life very much and want to be present to experience and enjoy every facet of them. That’s the problem, really — slow return to emotional baseline is a symptom of BPD, and I want to be able to go back to “normal,” that is, return to baseline so I can enjoy and respond to what’s happening now, rather than reacting to whatever trigger has got my hair standing on end. (Since we currently live with my parents, the only thing I need to do to find a trigger is open my eyes.)
Marijuana — the small amount I use — numbs me a little, relaxes me. I can go about my daily business calmly and evenly. Organized thinking and concentration are more challenging, of course, so I’m not often successful with mindfulness exercises while using (though I’ve heard that yoga with MJ is a wonderful mindful experience). But my capacity for rational thought, for “wise mind,” isn’t very good anyway when I’m so emotionally overloaded. I can push the feeling away, disconnect from it, and still think somewhat rationally, but it’s very difficult. It’s like trying to think when you have someone screaming horrible personal insults right in your ear.
A little marijuana turns the volume of that voice all the way down. It’s such a relief! I may be a little spaced out, but at least I can participate in my life. Now there’s no danger that I’ll freak out, get depressed and have to leave, or start crying, or get angry and start yelling, or, god forbid, get violent. I’ll still be aware of my feelings (that is, if I get re-triggered I might shed a tear, but I quickly turn my mind to the present) but they’ll be less piercing, less insistent.
Since the episode on Christmas Day, however, I’ve been using it too much. Partly because I am terrified of freaking out and getting violent again, partly as an unhealthy act of alternate rebellion against my parents, and partly because it’s relaxing and I enjoy it. My Prince (my partner) actually encourages my use — he calls it my “medicine.” But still, it’s illegal and I have a child to think about. (The pity is that sometimes I feel using marijuana, in moderation, makes me a better parent. Everybody needs to relax sometimes.) And I want to be able to use my brain to its fullest capacity more of the time, not clouded by pot or by intensity of feeling.
So, a stab at taking “legal” drugs. We’ll see what, if anything, Dr. D prescribes. I’d like something to take the edge off, for now. (I’d like to be a non-BPD, please.)
But I’ll miss those moments of pure, overwhelming joy, of love, of peace. Giving up the intensity and passion — both good and bad — is like giving up a part of myself. The reason I’m doing it, however, is the best reason in the world: I know what it is like to make my son terrified of me, and I never, never want to do that again.