APRIL 14, 2020: “It Was Kinda Like A Storm” …

"Breat Free"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

BREAK FREE

“Help me – I’ve fallen further in myself. I’m stuck here again. And I can’t see that I’m not digging my way out – I’m digging my grave. I’ve become my own demise. Paralyzed inside my mind. Arms are weak from holding up this front. No escape and no surprises. Complicated compromises. Hold me down when what all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again. Tell me how you can be the brightest star and light up the sky?  Well I can’t seem to even light up my own way and I’m burned out from trying. I’ve bcome what I despise. Paralyzed inside a lie. Arms are weak from holding back the flood. Sinking as the waters rise. Drink myself to sleep each night. I’m going under and all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again.” ~ Like A Storm

By now I’m sure you’ve heard me say that I have suffered from, battled and overcome a mental illness. I’m not sure however that I’ve ever said which mental illness it was. “So, which mental illness was it?” DRUM ROLL PLEASE … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it: Hi! I’m Cat Williamson, f/k/a “Girl Interrupted“. I HAVE BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (“BPD”). Well, I did that is. This month marks the seventh year of my recovery, and I’d like to tell you a little about it.

WHAT IS BPD? The National Institute Of Mental Health describes BPD as “an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.”

WAS THIS ME?

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WHAT MAY HAVE CAUSED MY BPD? As with most mental illnesses, many doctors believe BPD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. I strongly believe that my diagnoses was indeed genetically and environmentally predisposed, especially inasmuch as I was exposed to many adverse childhood experiences (“ACES”) that may have triggered the development of my symptoms. Although I don’t recall being sexually or physically abused as a child, there were a vast number of instabilities that may have contributed to my illness.

I was ripped away from a closely interactive paternal family when my parents uprooted us from our home at a very young age. Keep in mind that because our family was somewhat enmeshed, my grandparents, aunts and uncles were “consistently present and close caregivers” at that time, such that the immediate, unexplained loss of them literally overnight was deeply traumatic to me. Likewise was the damage to my very impressionable psyche from both the inconsistent emotional and physical presences of my parents and different points in time due to issues of their own that were out of my control.

THIS REALLY HAPPENED?

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WHAT WERE SOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? Most adolescents and adults with BPD lack the healthy coping skills required to handle even minimal amounts of stress or emotional discomfort and therefore often present with these signs and symptoms:

    • Intense fear of abandonment or rejection;
    • Extremely unstable relationships;
    • Distorted self-imagery that influences moods, decisions and priorities;
    • Impulsive actions like reckless driving, binge eating, spending sprees, job instability, leaving relationships or unsafe sex;
    • Chronic feelings of boredom, restlessness and emptiness;
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts while under stress;
    • Intense feelings of anger followed by extreme guilt and shame;
    • Self-harm and injury, such as cutting, drug or alcohol abuse;
    • Disassociating (“splitting“) that can last from a few minutes to hours.

DID I DO ANY OF THESE?

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Someday I’ll revisit the somewhat comical story of how my diagnoses came about, but sufficed to say, when I first realized “what the HELL was wrong with me” I was shaken to the core! Not only did I have a mental illness, but it was one of the most stigmatic of all. Borderlines already think that “everything is wrong with them”, so having a label like that over my head? IT WAS KINDA LIKE A STORM! A dark and looming torrential fucking rain cloud pummeling me 24/7, complete with lightening bolt voices in my mind screaming “YOU’RE BAT SHIT FUCKING CRAZY”!

There is a very cruel woman in this world (who I believe is a narcissist) who after being made aware of my diagnoses took full advantage of having that information by bludgeoning and emotionally blackmailing me with it in an attempt to socially posture herself while I was in a weakened state. SHE WAS A NURSING STUDENT WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE STUDIED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY AT ONE POINT, someone I truly considered a friend and trusted with my precious vulnerability. She set out to destroy me by not only threatening to report me to the Texas Real Estate Commission to have my license stripped, but also to “expose me” to our small school community, which for the record, she did end up doing, and thus became my daughter’s descent into social ostracization, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts of her own after being surrounded by her classmates on the playground one day and asked, “Is it true that your mom is a sociopath who’s been in a mental hospital and is unsafe to be around children”? Yup. That happened. That really fucking happened! The “first do no harm” medical professional made good on her promise to level me with my “girl interrupted secret”.

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Meanwhile, here I am, nine post-diagnoses years later. I did the work, know who I am, where I’ve been, and exactly where I’m going. That part of my journey is but a distant memory, except to say that moving forward I have and will take any opportunity that avails itself to share my “little girl interrupted” secret, as in below when I did so in a very public forum recently. It’s the one thing I’ve published that I’m proudest of so far, because just as “saying the words out loud” to those closest to me was the most healing part of my journey, so too was “writing the words out loud”:

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“HOW CAN YOU COMFORT A FRIEND WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER?”

Oh how I love and appreciate this question! Seriously, it means so much as a recovering Borderline to see these words out in the Cosmos in bold set black and white letters. It means you genuinely care and therefore desire to understand it, which for your average Borderline is more than half the battle! For me? The best thing anyone ever did to comfort me in my BPD darkness was to “look beyond the cover of my book” before casting unwarranted judgements, opinions or assumptions about who others thought I was: “Crazy, dramatic, histrionic, spoiled rotten Girl Interrupted Catherine.” And by that I mean this …
Obviously, as with any mental illness, there is no way to take a human brain apart and actually see the twists and turns that can “Molotov cocktail” a person into madness, but there is widely held belief that Borderline Personality Disorder tends to develop in a person with a history of: Emotional, physical or sexual abuse; Being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child; Being abandonded or neglected (either physically or emotionally) by one or both parents; Growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition. [See Also the National Institute Of Mental Health’s overview in this regard.] In my case? Yup. My “childhood trauma resume” from cradle to this minute includes, but is not limited to: ALL OF THE ABOVE! Although I do not believe that any of my primary caregivers intentionally and knowingly harmed, abused or traumatized me in the ways they did, but the resulting fallout was and is still very real to me nonetheless.
I myself spent a lifetime (39 plus years) just trying to survive “me”, completely unaware of what the HELL was actually wrong with me, especially inasmuch as that “on the surface” at many junctures it did appear that my life was picture perfect. Even I sometimes told myself, “How dare you effing feel this way Catherine, you spoiled, crazy BRAT. You’re life is absolutely PERFECT”. I hated me for hating myself and being “so unappreciative” of what ultimately revealed itself to be a farce of an existence, and especially hated knowing that the emotional storm cloud that seemed to follow me everywhere was raining on my loved ones’ heads as well.
Most Borderlines truly hate themselves at their darkest, deepest core because of the words and judgements of clueless people who’ve never walked a day in their shoes. They are programmed to believe that they are weak, dramatic, histrionic, ungrateful human train wrecks whose accompanying chaos darkens even the brightest room. BORDERLINES BELIEVE THEY ARE A CANCER TO THE WORLD, as so often this is what they’ve been told. My point being this: The best way to comfort a friend with Borderline Personality Disorder is to simply “hear them”. Listen to them. Dig a little deeper and ask them: What did your eyes see? What did your ears hear? How did your heart feel when it was a child? Then say these words to them: “I’m sorry that happened to you. It wasn’t fair at all and I don’t think you’re a crazy, weak, spoiled rotten, histrionic train wreck of a human disaster. I’m sorry if no one ever told you that before.” Again, I am so thankful to see this question here and hopefully anyone reading my answer can find some value. “Girls Interrupted” are often just broken, yet powerful, very loving ANGELS that need their hidden scars and wounds acknowledged so their broken wings can finally get them off the ground. I know this all to well, because that was me: “Girl Interrupted”. I spent so much time avoiding the Sun that I DIDN’T THINK I DESERVED that I cannot even tell you. I’m just so glad I lived to tell about it and finally start using my wings! Have a good day, and again, THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION!

So, there you have it. I said the words out loud, but I’m not “girl interrupted” anymore! I’M A FUCKING MIRACLE … a STORM who finally “broke free”. My husband used to call me “The Borderline Whisperer”, because as I’ve walked with it and through it I’ve begun to recognize it in others all too well. In the last few years I’ve “had the conversation” with several people, most of whom have sought treatment and are now fighting their way out of themselves. HE WAS SO FUCKING PROUD ME … “HIS BEAUTIFUL DISASTER WIFE” … and everything he saw me go through to beat it. He was my NUMBER ONE supporter and NEVER ONCE threw it in my face, or mocked me, or made fun of me, or made me feel “less than” because I was sick. There is NO FUCKING WAY I’d be writing this write today if it wasn’t for that guy … I know it, he knows it … GOD KNOWS IT! He carried the torch that God Himself prepared that lead me out of the darkness and to The Light, and I know he’s smiling right now as he watches me go public. How bittersweet is the irony that he that couldn’t find his way out of the darkness? Nevertheless, I am no longer ashamed to “say the words”, because guess what? They do not define me! That “little secret” makes me sick no longer because it’s NOT a secret anymore! My name is Cat Williamson. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. But now I’m the “Girl Uninterupted”!

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH BPD:

Overview Of BPD

 Borderline Personality Disorder Test

Borderline Resources

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FEBRUARY 25, 2020: “Thank You For Helping Me Change Tomorrow” …

img_9238… CHANGE TOMORROW

“For the first time in years there’s a light up ahead. It’s calling. (It’s pulling me closer) Reborn within. Now I’m shedding my skin. It’s falling. (The weight off my shoulders) ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I can’t erase all of my errors. Those days are gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. On my knees in the rain with my head hung in shame, just crawling, stalling. (All alone in my ways) Memories I can’t erase. Faces I couldn’t face haunt me. (My life lay to waste). ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I need a break. It’s now or never. Yesterday’s gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. For all the years of emptiness. For all of my mistakes. For all the years I’ve thrown it all away. It’s not too late.”  ~ Like A Storm

There is no way for me to properly express the depth of my gratitude for all of the love, support and faith all of you are pouring into me not only here in The Diary, but in other forums (such as Quora) where I am also sharing not only my journey, but the fallen king’s as well. My reach is growing stronger by the minute and I’m consumed by a burning fire in my heart when I open my statistics every morning to find that people literally all over the world are reading my words. I’m getting messages daily, from again, all over the world, and what is resonating loudly is that people are relating to all the best and worst parts of my life and being inspired to try and make some changes of their own and step out of their own silent darknesses. THAT’S ALL I’VE EVER WANTED … for other broken people to realize the power and potential of their own strong warrior hearts and find the courage to not only survive, but THRIVE!

“I can’t stay chained to my secrets …”

…and neither can you! The secret pain, anguish, heartache and trauma we keep buried within our hearts is nothing short of a 30,000 pound anchor that not only keeps our ships bound to the turbulent seas that some of us end up drowning in, but also keeps us from ever reaching safe harbor. As for me? My most life-altering, traumatic and darkest “secret” has still yet to be revealed by the way, because frankly, I’m just not ready to reveal it. I’m working with God directly on that one and together we will both know when it’s time for my “biggest reveal”. But in the meantime …

“I can change. I can change tomorrow.”

All of YOU are helping me do that and I pray that my words will help you change your own tomorrow if that’s what you need to do. Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME. My best to everyone reading this … MAKE IT A POWERFUL DAY!

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The Diary Thank You

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OCTOBER 9, 2019: “SOLITARY: Life Behind A Mask” …

ArthurSo, here’s what’s on my mind today. After my sister’s birthday dinner last night, she wanted to go see The Joker. We’d both assumed it was just a Batman prequel, and in a roundabout way it was, inasmuch as it was set in Gotham City and the Wayne’s were front and present. I haven’t been to the movies much lately and was completely uninformed as to the plot, but I’m a “Batgirl” so we went with it.

This was NO superhero commentary. Was there a connection? Absolutely. But within seconds of the opening scene I began to wonder, “Do I stay, or do I go?” Every alarm in my psyche was screaming that this movie could potentially level me. He was “painting on a mask” but behind his eyes you could clearly see that whatever road he’d walked until that moment he had lost connection to both the world and himself. Yet I was compelled to watch this six degrees of separated version of not only Zack’s story, but at times mine and SO many other people I’ve known. As we cringed our way through Joker’s “Hell on Earth” I watched him bring a gun to his head six times, and if that weren’t bad enough, though we’d all anticipated him blowing his OWN brains out in the end, brains indeed were blown out on the screen. And I just sat there like an iron wall. I could see my sister panic every time the gun went to his head as she’d lean over and ask if we needed to leave, but I kept assuring her I was okay, because I was. I don’t know what in my own “Hell on Earth” this says about me, but wait, I think I do …

darknessI AM ONE STRONG BITCH! “Warrior. Motivator. SURVIVOR!” The longer I sat there the LESS I wanted to cry and shake my fists all up to the Heavens screaming “WHY?” I already know why ALL too well and no amount of screaming or fist shaking will change my own plot line or erase the things I’ve “gotten to learn” so far. Do I still cry? Every. Fucking. Day! I’m only human after all. But I believe that every tear I shed is being counted by a Power INFINITELY higher than me and I absolutely trust it. So, I welcome those tears, then simply “let them go”, as my most effective form of mental health therapy.

Here’s my takeaway from both the show and my visceral reaction to it: Much like my husband who often felt isolated in even the most crowded spaces, The Joker eventually lost connection with not only himself but humanity as well. He’d been stepped on, overlooked and bullied by life in general, which process led him to an internal mental madness that most people couldn’t fathom. Like The Joker (and many of us) my husband wore two faces: The very happy “I’m okay” mask he dawned outwardly each day while secretly living inside the invisible, solitary prison where he wore the other “sick, dark, tragic one” that led him to his fate.

One of the most poignant scenes in the movie found the mentally ill Joker sitting in front of “a system” letting him down, just as pretty much everything and one he’d ever known had done, and he said something to the effect of, “Have you even listened to a SINGLE thing I’ve said? All these times I’ve sat in front of you – have you EVER really seen or heard me?” Such is the story of so many of our lives and then we too “slip through the void” into our own darkness. Which is why I think I could NOT bring myself to leave the one movie I probably should NOT have seen in the first place. Last night, sitting through that show like the ROCK I know I’ve become? I did NOT crumble. I did NOT cry. I only became further convicted in my desperate need to touch as many “Joker’s” lives as possible with what time I have left here on Earth. Self-pity, sorrow, screaming and “fist shaking” will accomplish ZERO but “reaching the unreachable” just might. Okay, that’s all. Thanks for listening. ~ Cat ❤️

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SEPTEMBER 13, 2019: “Until The Day He Died” …

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UNTIL THE DAY I DIE

The waters rise. The light declines. But I’m not turning back from here. Voices are crying. Corpses remind that most don’t make it to the end. Look to the sky. Take back what’s mine. This life can be a cemetery. This life can be a shallow grave. I’ll never be a casualty. I’ll never bow before I break. I’ll stand and fight. Until the day I die. I left the known to walk alone ’cause to remain was suicide. The “could’ve been”. Stood up again ’cause not to try was just to die. Maybe I’m wrong. But it’s my right. I’ll face the night. I’ll find the light. Look to the sky. Take back what’s mine. I’ll stand and fight. Until the day I die.” – Like A Storm

As you can see I am desperately trying to be as transparent as possible as I journey through this nightmare I’m living out loud, as I refuse to sit back and let the broken roads each member of this family have traveled thus far have been in vain. My story? HIS story? Gia’s? My son’s? They WILL have made a difference somehow in the life of least one other broken human soul that is lingering in this world somewhere if it takes my own last dying breath to do it. People. Matter.

rOBINI have often likened Zack’s personality to that of Robin Williams, one of my favorite comedic actors and icons. Like Robin, my husband was so much larger than life itself. Always smiling. Always positive. Always the biggest presence in the room! He couldn’t stand to see anyone sad, so, he would make us laugh until our effing sides hurt. Yes, he was the biggest clown I’ve ever met! At the same time though, he was “all in serious” about everything he tackled in life, and as witty as he could be, his timing was always perfect. With him? There was a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to play, a time to dig in deep and get to work, but always a time to just “Good Morning Vietnam” it! 

Thursday, August 8th, 2019 things truly seemed to be looking up. It was Zack’s day off, but we’d decided to split for the afternoon so that I could take Gia for school shopping and lunch while he went and ran some errands of his own. When he walked out the door he seemed to be in genuinely good spirits, and as you can see from our credit card statement we’d had a productive day. Me? Shopping. Having lunch with our daughter. Living life in the moment and excited for the double date later that night with our sweethearts. We were happy. We had a family. A home. And a daddy and king waiting for us back at that home who loved us more than words could say. He was. Our everything. Our ROCK.

But what about him that day? What DON’T we see in this picture of him smiling at Pinstack? “Our rock” was crumbling right before our eyes and had already made the decision to end his life. The charge you see at “CAB STORE ALLEN”? While we were eating lunch he was at Cabella’s buying the Springfield he put to his head 14 days later. The Parker police have it on video … 

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So, there you have it. What you see hiding behind another one’s smile isn’t always joy, peace and happiness and these two pictures are a sobering example of this truth. Although we knew he was struggling, no one knew JUST how close to the end of the story he really was. He was dying a slow, painful, agonizing death within the confines of his mind … we just couldn’t see it. He tried not to fall, trust me when I say this, and I’m sorry, not sorry, if this post upsets anyone because perhaps it’s “too transparent”. But there’s a poignant statement being made in these pictures that I felt was too important not to share. “The saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that”.

ROBIN WILLIAMS

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