As this year is winding down, I find myself looking back at what 2007 has meant to me. This has been quite the interesting year, filled with losses, additions, and many mediocre “whatevers” in between.

Though I didn’t know it at that time, I began having symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis at the end of January. Well, at least this is when they became apparent enough to start causing some distress. March brought my daughter’s 10th birthday, but not before we had to put one of our family cats, Neo, to sleep (why do they call it that, anyway?) a few days before the big event.

Months of physical therapy brought me to the end of June, when numbness in my fingertips and arm made me realize something was going really awry within my body. Multiple tests, starting with a negative nerve conduction study and ending with an MRI that proved positive for lesions, started me on my journey called “What in the hell is Multiple Sclerosis and what does it have to do with me?”

Did I mention that this MRI took place one day after my 30th birthday and eighteen days before my wedding?

Yet another test, a lumbar puncture, done at the beginning of September, offered the doctors more ammo to shoot my way when it came to that fateful day (sounds so ominous, huh?) on November 9th when I received an official diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

Fast forward to today when I put my second cat of the year to sleep. As I said, there were many other things in between all of those big events. I call them mediocre “whatevers” because, keeping in perspective of all the others, they just don’t seem as big. A third cat ran away (we got him back), my car broke down (I got a new one), I fell down some stairs at work (I got 6 staples in my head…oh, wait, that wasn’t a positive!).

So what have I learned from this year? Good question. Well, I’ve learned that you shouldn’t plan too far ahead because crazy things like MS just might rear its ugly head in your life. I’ve learned that an identity is an ever-changing thing. I’ve learned to hold the handrail while walking down the stairs, especially if they are cement! 🙂

I’ve still got a lot to learn from this year, and it may take most or all of 2008 to learn it. A lot has happened to throw me for a loop, and I’m slowly regaining my balance (no MS joke here either).

What I knew prior to 2007 is that I am strong. Though this seems like a massive amount of life-altering events to take in (and it is), I am confident that I will find ways to come to terms with all that 2007, and life in general, has brought upon me….it just may take a bit longer than usual. Happy 2007 and may 2008 be a little calmer!

I often wonder what percentage of couples out there have fulfilling sex lives. I mean, ultimately fulfilling to both members. 

Sometimes it amazes me how people try to do the same things over and over whether those things are working or not. And then, they have the nerve to complain when life is not going the way they want it to go! Einstein stated it perfectly – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Much could be learned from this man.

What does a 16 year old do when she has parents who are at opposite ends of the extremes on a rule? Especially, if she agrees with one or the other? The example I’m speaking of is facial piercings. If the parents are divorced, and the teenager is living half of the time with one parent, and half of the time with the other, does she side with the dad, who agrees she should make her own choice in the matter, or her mom, who is adamently against such a “mutilation” of her body? Well, because of her own desire to get a new “Monroe,” she sided with her dad, leaving her mom feeling like there was a blatant disregard of a rule that she had set in place. Is this a set in stone rule, however, if there is a 50/50 custody arrangment?
And how confusing for the girl! Does she put aside something that she wants to claim her uniqueness for the sake of “image concerns” that he mom bestows? Or does she allow her dad to take her (which he did) to get the piercing and live with the rage of her mom (which she did).
In my opinion, in regards to the mom, it really is more about the image than anything else. She talks of “mutilation of the body,” yet bears some descrepencies in that she allowed her daughter to get her ears pierced many years back. Still a form of self-mutilation, one could argue, yet a more socially acceptable one, indeed. The 16 year old in question is not dumb. She sees these descrepencies, along with her moms insecurities of how this will make her look as a parent when others see her child like this. This goes back to the teenager claiming her uniqueness, her independence, and her identity, apart from her mom.

What is Dissociative Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)? There are vast amounts of differing opinions on what exactly Dissociative Disorder is. Psychology Today views the disorder as the deficiency of connected “thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or identity.” One recurring theme in all the research is the prevalence of extreme, traumatic sexual and/or physical abuse experienced by the individual from an early age in life; the majority of cases share this unique quality. Individuals often are not even aware of the abuse that had been inflicted upon them, and many deny the incidents even when presented with mounting evidence such as police and child protective service reports. Many children are very good at daydreaming, and pretending they are someone different. It would make sense that if enough of these facades occurred prior to the child figuring out his or her own personality, internal confusion may take form in one way or another. This becomes a very useful coping method while in childhood (when one cannot get away from the abuse), but loses its effectiveness in the adult years, often leading to problematic and dysfunctional behaviors that lead to the loss of jobs and relationships. Studies say that eighty to ninety percent of those with Dissociative Disorder are not even aware that they suffer from the disorder. Does this mean that these individuals are not affected by their afflictions? Their actions, along with the observations of those they interact with, clue them in that something is not right about them; however, they unfortunately do not understand the reasons why their life is like a puzzle.

My concern for social problems is great. I am constantly aware of the oppression and difficulties experienced by others, and I am always looking for ways to help just in my current surroundings. I believe I have a well-rounded view of many of the issues concerning people in the world, and this open-mindedness will ensure a helping relationship with those I serve.
Regarding people who are different, I have my own philosophy. I have found that once I attempt to get to know them and their situations, I am able to identify the relatedness, rather than the differences. I enjoy learning about their strengths and the resiliency that is found in all people. It is a challenge to find ways to empower them, but it is one that I readily accept. People are people, no matter how “different” they may seem.
Rather than shy away from those that are different than I am, I choose to learn about them. Whether this is through personal conversations with particular people, or through research and reading, this has enhanced my knowledge. Although I am not an expert on every difference, one of my greatest strengths is my open-mindedness. My willingness to learn has not only helped me in my education and life, it has shown others that I am enthusiastic to gain knowledge about them. Because I never feel like I know enough, I am constantly seeking further knowledge in a variety of areas concerning people and what makes them unique. I feel this will facilitate a helping relationship in which I can show empathy and respect to those I am serving.
I believe that everyone has the skills within them to cope with whatever situation comes their way. Many people do not recognize these skills, and therefore need someone like myself to empower them. Through the partnership we develop, I hope to instill in them the belief that they are adequate to help themselves long after the helping relationship is over.

Well, this season definitely hasn’t been a keeper for the Niner’s. Thankfully, I’m not a fair-weather fan, so I will be with them again next year, hoping for the best. I hold on to games like last week where they just seem to be on target both offensively and defensively. As I’m sure many fans are thinking…”If only they could play like that every game.” But, I will continue to don my pink #21 Frank Gore jersey each game, silently wondering if I’m bringing bad omens instead of good luck with my apparel, but hoping that the positive thoughts I’m sending through my big screen tv will get through to the whole team, not just one or two players who decide to do their best that evening. Hopefully Tampa Bay will be easy on us, or we’ll be rough on them, however you choose to look at it. With the season officially over in two games, I’d like to think we could at least clinch a win of six this season. Go Niners!

Centerton, Ark (St Petersburg Times 11/23/07)This small town of 2,146 people has plenty to talk about at the local coffee shops. Their very own mayor decided to step down from his political position last month due to a revelation that he isn’t really Ken Williams, but instead Don LaRose, an Indiana preacher who abandoned his family in 1980. Mr LaRose revealed that he was abducted by Satanists at that time who brainwashed him, erasing the specifics of a murder that he was privy to. How did he get his memory back? Well, thankfully, by taking some truth serum!

Some people wake up not quite feeling themselves. I guess some people wake up not quite being themselves.

Imagine always believing that if you let someone get emotionally close to you, they would leave you. And no matter how much someone tried to convince you that this wouldn’t happen, you couldn’t find a way to believe it. Can you imagine how lonely that would make you feel?Imagine that all of your relationships were built around only two extremes: putting the other person upon a pedestal, only to rip that very pedestal right out from underneath them. Can you imagine how confusing this might be?

Imagine waking up one day feeling like you are the best…the best looking, the best personality, the best everything. Then, waking up the next day feeling like the worst person ever to have been born on this planet. Now imagine these extremes occurring five, twenty, even a hundred times a day. Can you imagine how exhausting this may make you feel?

Imagine spending your whole allowance or paycheck immediately after getting it. Or eating a pint of ice cream, three burritos, a box of cereal, and a bag of chips, all in one sitting. How about spending an entire weekend using drugs and alcohol and having sex with a random guy(s). Can you imagine how frightening this may be?

Imagine feeling like you want to kill yourself much of time. Imagine making threats to those who love you, and in, worst case scenarios, mutilating yourself enough that you end up in the hospital. Can you imagine how embarrassed you would feel?

These are just a few of the things your daughter is likely feeling…lonely, confused, exhausted, frightened, and embarrassed.

Though your daughter is intensely struggling with the emotions that this disorder causes her to feel, this does not discount those feelings likely to arise in those who are closely intertwined in her life. Equally confusing is the wonderment of not know which person your child will see you as. Will you be the blessed parent on the pedestal or the evil parent brought quickly to the ground with a few angry, spiteful words? And even more confusing and frustrating is the apparent amnesia she seems to have to the fact that, just a few hours ago, she saw you in a completely opposite way.

So what hope can be found in a seemingly hopeless situation? Thankfully, individual therapy can speak volumes in helping your daughter learn how to deal with stressors, both real and imagined, that she deals with on a daily basis. By working with a therapist, she can trudge through her stormy interpersonal relationships, learning how to bridge the large gap between her extremes of good and bad, finally resting at a middle point that will allow her the sanctity of healthy human connections. She can learn to use thought-stopping, breathing techniques, and reality therapy to become less emotionally reactive to situations she encounters. If need be, she can utilize the wide range of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, and mood stabilizers to help her get to the point where she feels willing and able to deal with the issues at hand.

Being one of the people closely intertwined in her life, the road ahead may be long and daunting. However, by providing support and boundaries, you will be able to build a relationship that is healthier than the one you’re currently engaged in. There is hope. She needs you to hold on to it when she loses her own.

This piece was written for parents of girls at the facility I’m a therapist at who are dealing with BPD. For more information on Borderline Personality Disorder, I recommend the following books: