July 4, 2015: Three Good Things

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For the past week, I’ve been sharing three good things about myself rather than three good things about my day. Before I get into my final list of three, I want to take a minute to say just how difficult this exercise has been. I’m not necessarily chalking that up to my mental illnesses, since a lot of people have problems writing their own objective résumé or CV. There’s a reason there are thousands of professional résumé writers in the United States alone.

All totaled, including today’s list, I’ve shared 21 things that I think are positives about myself. Some of them have been pretty obvious. Others only made the list after a struggle to be not only objective about myself but not repeat concepts. Today’s list was going to state “I’m a very caring person” until I went back and saw that I covered that idea with “having the biggest heart of anyone I know” on Sunday. For the last three days I’ve had the list up in a separate tab for reference, just to make sure there’s no repetition.

This has been an eye opening experience, and it’s something that I recommend you try, if only in private for yourself. It’s a great exercise and especially good to go back and see that you’ve been able to identify over 20 positive things about yourself when you’re having a rough time of things. While I’m not going to call anyone out, mostly because I have no clue who I’d challenge to this writing exercise, I do challenge you to try it yourself. If you blog about it, let me know in the comments so I can come cheer you on through the week that you choose.

And now for the list.

1. I’m becoming more and more health conscious as I grow older. My declining health is a big motivator behind that, but it’s becoming easier and easier to eat healthier. In the last three years, I’ve completely eliminated non-diet soda and almost completely eliminated even the diet stuff; started drinking more than my daily allotment of water; stopped adding salt to foods; started looking forward to exercise, and consider every day I don’t work out a missed opportunity; changed my diet drastically; become much more conscientious of my sleep schedule; and become considerably more aware of health issues I have and decidedly more willing to get problems looked at by the doctors. I’m actually enjoying the healthier lifestyle far more than I thought I would and wish I’d done this years ago.

2. I’m becoming more accepting of my shortcomings. Five years ago, I would have fought tooth and nail against being on disability, convinced that I had to work to find any self-worth at all. I still struggle with this sometimes, in my irrational moments, but on a “normal” day I’m very aware that I’m doing the best that I can with what I have and that I can and should be proud of the many small steps I’m making every day to get better.

3. I saved the best for last. I am in one of the healthiest marriages of anyone that I know. Many of our friends look up to us as an example of a happy marriage, even knowing the struggles that we experience and the fights that we have when our symptoms win out over rational thought. We don’t have what anyone would consider a “traditional” marriage, by any stretch of the imagination. Our gender roles are almost completely reversed – I’m more happy doing housework and cooking, she’s much more capable with power tools and working on a car. But we work well together and have the added benefits of truly being one another’s best friend. There’s no one on the planet I’d rather spend time with, rather laugh with, rather cry with, rather plan for the future with, rather grow old with. My wife is the light of my life and my reason for living. I cannot imagine my life without her. She inspires me on a daily basis and makes me want to be the better person she deserves. I fall deeper and deeper in love with her every day, The best part? She feels the same about me. We’re looking forward to being that old couple in their eighties walking hand in hand through the park while joggers run around us. And then fistbumping one another for making the damned whippersnappers have to dodge.

More than there are stars, babydoll, and until they all go out.

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June 3, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. My blood glucose readings today were 91, 97, 114, and 102. My blood pressure might be out of control for the time being (readings of 150/103, 156/95, and 168/105), but my blood glucose looks great!

2. For date night tonight, the wife and I watched Big Hero 6 again, and spent the majority of the evening cuddled on the couch together. Cuddling on the couch will never get old.

3. Today I got full marks on my checklist!

May 30, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. Today I got almost everything on my list done. The only things that I was missing were exercise and stretching. This is the first time in three days that I’ve missed a check mark, and I’m okay with it.

2. I got to spend the day with my wife, something that I started taking for granted when she wasn’t working. Now that she’s working again, the weekends are that much sweeter. We didn’t really do much together per se, but we spent the day in one another’s company.

3. As I’ve posted here and to my Facebook wall, tonight I ate a tomato without salt. The reasons why this is a good thing (and such a big deal) can be found here.

Off the Bandwagon, Crossing the Streams

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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.