Finding Solstice With a Mental Illness while in Los Angeles Part I

If you’re just now joining in and meeting me, well, hello there and welcome! If you’ve known me for a while, either personally or from my other blog, you already know that I’m a HUGE Linkin Park fan. When Chester Bennington died, my BPD went into overdrive and so did my impulsion to go to Los Angeles. However, I wasn’t able to go until a year after his passing, which was totally fine and super meaningful. But, going to a huge city that I’ve never been to, across the country, solo, and with an illness that makes me want to avoid big crowds, seemed like it was going to pose quite the challenge. Much to my surprise, it did not. It was quite the opposite and I literally just got back from my second trip there, which we will talk about in another piece.

So, now you’re wondering, how exactly did you find peace in the middle of a huge city like Los Angeles? Well, let’s get started shall we?

From previous blogs, it’s obvious that I’m comfortable in cities for the most part; like NYC, for example. However, Los Angeles is a totally different beast. You can’t walk everywhere and Ubers are crazzzy expensive, but you gotta suck it up and manage, which was a stress for me. So, prior to going, I made a list of things I wanted and needed to see. Since I was going to be there exactly one year after Chester’s passing, I had made a list of various landmarks, memorials, and notable places where he had been or even stepped foot that I wanted to see. I also had to put Chris Cornell’s grave on the list since it was his birthday, RIP <3.

Make note: When you plan things out, especially for LA, ALWAYS factor in TRAFFIC! 

I had heard about LA traffic and how awful it was, but it really is awful.

Okay- I feel like I’m getting out of order… BPD brain. Okay- let’s begin at the airport.


Chester’s one year passing was July 20th and I had a memorial to go to that day, so I flew out June 19th mad early in the morning. First off, I’m not a morning person and I have insomnia on top of everything else. So, in order to ensure that I made my flight which was at 5:30am, I didn’t take my insomnia meds…So, I didn’t sleep all night. By the time I got to the airport at 3am, (yes, I love getting to the airport early. Better early than late. TSA is unpredictable, amiright?), I was super irritable. You know when you have BPD, or are just a normal human being and you look around and everything and everyone disgusts you? That’s how I felt. I was in MAJOR splitting mode and everyone around me was in the black area. I didn’t even know anyone, but they did awful things to me and everyone else around them. I knew it for a fact too…Yep, sure did.

When I have no sleep, I get in super weird moods too. So, when I was on the plane and it took off, I felt like I had all the power in the world and the plane was mine to control. Weird right? Anyway, I can’t sleep on planes because my anxiety won’t let me. It makes me think that I’ll miss my stop, even though everyone must get off the plane. As a result, I didn’t sleep.

After a very short layover in Charlotte, NC, it was off to Los Angeles. I went through the 9am hour 3 times, making me a time lord and at this point, I was getting excited, but also tired of seeing the 9am hour. I had never been to the west coast and I couldn’t wait until I could see the geography out the window. Come to find out, it’s quite flat and there are a lot of circles on the ground. Who knew?

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When I landed in LA, I ordered an Uber and it took FOREVER. When my Uber finally got there, I was in the wrong waiting section. Apparently, there is a fancy waiting spot and a “regular” waiting spot. I was in the fancy spot… no wonder so many people were staring at me. I finally reached her and off we were to my first stop: The Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard. Why? I had to see Linkin Park’s handprints and put my chubby little hand in Chester’s.

The traffic was TERRIBLE and it took over an hour to go 20 minutes. My Uber driver was super nice though and we became friends in 2 minutes. We talked about life, mental illness, depression, and how to overcome even though I had no idea how to. Her advice was solid though and her optimism was contagious. The first person I met in LA was super nice. I was hoping the track record kept up.

Forever later, I finally reached my destination. Now, backtrack a bit. I couldn’t check into my Airbnb until 2pm and my plane arrived at 1030am. I was going to pack a normal suitcase, but I really didn’t want to walk around Los Angeles with a suitcase in toe, so I packed my North Face backpack that i took with me to Iceland. It was quite obnoxious but effective.

When I arrived to the Guitar Center, it was all boarded up. With a confused look on my face, I walk in and turns out the place is under construction and there are NO HANDPRINTS. I’m not going to lie, those handprints were one of my main reasons for going out to LA. I needed that piece of closure and I was flat out denied only a little over an hour into my journey.

By this time, I was really anxious and just wanted to go to my Airbnb, however, I couldn’t. So, I went next door and got some food. I figured I would stay at this joint for like an hour or so and then just meander to where I was staying because I didn’t know what else to do. I ordered a salad and tried to eat as slow as possible. The waiters kept looking at me and I felt soooo out of place, which just made me more anxious. I wasn’t going to leave though. Next, I ordered some coffee for my migraine and to take up more time because, YOLO. But then, I heard them talk about me and then I just decided to leave. It’s not like I just came in and ordered water, but I didn’t want any more anxiety, so I left.

I still had some time, so I walked up and down Sunset, which was pretty empty. I found a tattoo joint and thought of getting one for giggles, but it was closed. Los Angeles is so weird.

 

How to maneuver the Tony Awards alone with BPD.

In the honor of Tony Award Day, I’m going to share with you guys what it was like going to the Academy Awards of Broadway solo and with BPD.

Yup. Last year I did a lot of traveling. #Grateful. And I did a lot of it before July. For those of you who don’t know me well, July is where I took a turn for the worst. But, more on that another time.

Last May, I went to NYC myself for the first time. What was my main purpose for that trip? To see Anastasia on Broadway. Yeah, I have a huge love affair with Broadway, and it used to be my dream. However, I don’t have proper dance or song training, so I was going to settle for social media marketing. Well, between then and now, that’s changed. Again, we will address that later.

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Anyway, Anastasia on Broadway did NOT disappoint. I’ve seen quite a many Broadway shows in New York City, and this one is one of the most visually stunning I have ever seen. The costumes alone left me speechless and drooling. I met up with a friend while I was in New York and she saw it with me.

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Can I also slide in here that Ramin Karimloo is delicious?

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Did you get his autograph, Brittany? Hell yeah I DID!

So backtracking a little before this trip, the Tony Nominations happened. They are always at the beginning of May and since I was hoping Anastasia was going to be nominated and I was a fan of all the shows during that season, I intently watched who was nominated for what. Color me surprised when at the end of the broadcast it said how tickets to the Tony’s would be on sale about an hour later.

Oh.My.Gawd. I freaked out. Looked at my bank account and literally said YOLO. I ran to my moms desk and asked if she wanted to go with me, she declined, and when they went on sale, I DID NOT HESITATE.

I got my ticket to the Tony Awards. I GOT MY TICKET TO THE TONY AWARDS.

That was such an impulsive buy and I literally did not care. I basically crawled under my mom’s desk and cried of excitement. This was it. I dream come true. <– this was all a BPD moment. In the matter of 10 minutes I had my ticket and was so overcome with too much emotion I literally went under my mom’s desk and cried. 

So, at this time I was obsessed with Jake Gyllenhaal. He was on Broadway during that season, so I assumed he was going to be there. I had to look my absolute best. I had to be the best looking commoner in the world. Now, queue anxiety. When I REALLY want something, I get full of anxiety and depression at the same time. Why? Because, I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on something. There is so much that goes on that I don’t know about and I knew I would miss something and it freaked me out. I literally convinced myself that I was good enough to get Jake Gyllenhaal. #delusional. You can all collectively laugh now. Trust me, I had enough people at that time put me down or give me that look of, “you’re crazy,” when I said something. But, I had genuine hope.

After I bought my ticket, it took me forever to find my dress, but I did find it and I thought it was perfect. I was like, “yeah, I’m totally going to stand out amongst the people when they walk along the red carpet. I got this.” Ugh, little did I know what was going to happen at that point.

So, the time came to get on my train and head to NYC. I was so excited. Once again, I was free. Now, I know NYC better than I know my home city, so it feels like home. I felt relaxed waiting for my train because I knew I was going home. Even if it was for a little while. But, I didn’t want to think about returning at that moment. I still had the Tony Awards!

I arrive in NYC Penn Station with a purpose. Basically, it was to find my hotel because my butt hurt from the 6 hour train ride. I stayed at the Hyatt near Herald Square. It was quant and cute, but I was instantly anxious because I’m more comfortable in Times Square. I know my way around there better, I know where Radio City Music Hall is from there, and it’s just overall comfortable. In Herald Square, I basically know where the Victoria’s Secret is and that’s it. So, I make that my point of direction. However, it didn’t take long for me to find my way around the area at all.

As we all know, NYC is crowded. Like, super crowded. I didn’t realize until then that crowds were making me more panicky. Here I am alone in NYC and I’m starting to panic in the middle of a sidewalk. Not only am I beginning to panic, I’m getting paranoid. I get paranoid that everyone is looking at only me. “Oh my god, I know I’m disgusting, please stop looking at me. That guy over there is so hot, he thinks I’m fat and gross, I know it. I can’t stand this, I’m going back to the hotel.”

And that’s what I did. I would go back to the hotel. I convinced my mind it was to “rest my feet” for the awards, but it was really because I couldn’t be around people. Right by my hotel was something similar to a food truck weekend. Everything looked so good and yummy and was full of culturally diverse food. However, it was so busy and I was so self conscious, I didn’t go. To be honest, my main meals all weekend were coffee.

The mind is a powerful thing. In my case, it wasn’t a good thing.

I had wanted to go all out for this occasion. I had made an appointment to get my hair and makeup done. Aaaaand, I didn’t go. I ended up doing my own. Basically, I didn’t want to leave my hotel. What they were playing on Animal Planet was really good. Besides, the end product didn’t come out that bad.

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Now, that look just had to remain that way until the next day. Which, I also had to change hotels the next day and walk in the heat. So, I basically used a WHOLE can of hairspray and slept sitting up. Jake was ‘waiting.’

The next morning I got up and checked into my next hotel, which was halfway between Times Square and Radio City Music Hall. Needless to say, I felt less anxious. So, I made my way to RCMH to check out where I was going to make my debut. IMG_7993.JPG

Yeah, I missed Tony rehearsal. I didn’t even know it was a thing! So, strike one to the anxiety train. *toot toot* I was even up super early and could’ve waited in line, but I didn’t know it was a thing. I instantly was like OMG did I miss Jake? So, I sauntered back to my hotel, defeated and stayed in the AC until it was basically show time.

So, here are some things to remember if you are going to the Tony Awards or ANY awards show and you have to wait in line.

  1. Do NOT wear a corset in 90 degree weather under a long ‘ballgown.’
  2. Get a big enough fancy purse that can hold your shoes and flip flops
  3. Go to a nearby Wal-greens or ANYWHERE and get a bottle of WATER

I did the opposite of the list above and basically almost died. I looked good though.

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I was so ready for Jake. I even had the surprise face down when he asked me to marry him right there on the spot.

Not gonna lie, this dress made me feel fierce. Like Sasha Fierce. I went downstairs to the hotel lobby to wait for my Uber and all eyes were on me. Only, this time I didn’t feel paranoia. I didn’t even feel like me to be honest. I felt like I could make up a story about who I was. I could be anyone I wanted to be that night. And I let the eyes stare.

So, Uber in NYC, especially on 8th Avenue is something else. Here I am, looking stunning and you’re going to make me walk down 8th Avenue to find you? No, no, no, no. Ugh, but I did it anyway. However, this guy had the same car as basically EVERY OTHER CAR ON THE STREET. So, after literally 15 minutes of trying to find him, he just peaced out. I was sweating, worried about my hair, and not happy. I knew it would be hard to find anyone to get me near Radio City because of the awards, so I tried a cab.

Good thing the dress had a slit and you bet I used it to my advantage. I got a cab quick. But traffic was AWFUL. So, he dropped me off as close to Radio City as he could and I had to walk the rest of the way. Newsflash- my feet already hurt. GREAT.

On my trek, I got so many compliments on my dress. So many questions. “Are you going to the Tony Awards?” Noooo…I’m going to the bathroom? Anyway, I finally reach Radio City and I see barriers everywhere. I look for the red carpet because that’s my goal and I see it blocked off. Instant panic. No, no, no, no, no. I need to see Jake. This is ruining my plan. Everything I’ve been dreaming about. I ask a police officer near me if I can go near the red carpet and he proceeds to tell me that only red carpet pass holders can go that close. THAT’S  A THING?! HOW ON EARTH DO YOU GET THAT?!

So, I’m then led to the back of the building to where I have to stand in line, (I’m the first one by the way,) and I don’t see anything. All I see is the wall. This is when I meet the most fabulous person ever. He’s just as mad as I am that we can’t go near the red carpet but he and I team up and figure we will do whatever we can to get by.

What do we do? Pretend we are VIP in attempt to trick the cops. It doesn’t work… we were super close at one point. So close but no cigar. Instead, we ended up with this view. IMG_8059.JPG

Ants. They all looked like ants. We heard people cheering but didn’t know who they were. At this point, my feet were already dead. I was burning up thanks to my corset and was about to pass out with the need for water. The guy at the front door of Radio City and I were joking around about how I was about to pass out because I needed water. He thought it was so funny. In reality, I was serious.

The doors finally opened and my new friend and I made our way to get water. BLESSS. As I was purchasing water, I actually had someone ask me if I was one of the actresses nominated. I think I said yes and walked away quickly before he could ask more details. That was an honor.

Our seats were basically in the nosebleed section but I didn’t care. I was at the Tonys! IMG_8175.JPG

Please excuse the poor quality pics from this point on. Like I said, I was in the nosebleed.

As celebrities started to arrive, I utilized my 20/20 vision and tried to look for Jake. I even googled while in my seat if he was supposed to be there. I couldn’t find him. Yeah, I got depressed. It was bubbling underneath the surface despite how excited I was. As I always say, hope is an adrenaline rush of disappointment.

Before the show starts for the world to see, the lesser known awards are given out. They also did the Lifetime Achievement Award for James Earl Jones. That’s right. I saw Mufasa in the flesh!

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The show started and it was amazing. Someone that was there that I was so surprised about was Uma Thurman… Like where had she been all these years?

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At the end of the show, everyone filed out. So many limos lined the streets and I fought within myself if I should wait with the huge crowd of people and see if Jake actually was there, or just go with my gut and admit my defeat and go back to my hotel. I went with the latter.

I got back to my hotel and the sadness really sunk in. The whole event was over. Back to reality and no Jake. I felt so stupid for even thinking such a thing was real. I let everyone’s negativity flow through me. They were right. And the next morning I had to go back home. A place that was my home but didn’t actually feel like home.

Leaving is always the hardest part.

Borderline takeaways-

  • Don’t go to an awards show anticipating to meet anyone, it will only ruin your mood.
  • Try and understand that you’re going to a big city and when you think people are staring at you, they aren’t.
  • And literally, have the mantra YOLO.

It’s all so much easier said than done, because I can give advice but I can’t take it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This was an amazing opportunity and experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, BPD takes it’s job very seriously when it wants to ruin your happiness. The night it was over I felt so anxious. I knew I was missing so much. I wanted to be invited to an after party, but my mind is cruel and told me that no one would ever invite me to one. I am a nobody after all. Despite my experience, My borderline monster made me cry myself to sleep that night.

It is totally possible to travel solo to NYC though and go to an awards show. Trust me, if I did it, you can too.

Who Am I? Who Am I?

If you’re reading this post, you may have already read the ‘About Me’ page. If not, well… go read it.

Kidding.


Patient No. 24601

Name: Brittany

Age: 27 (on Saturday, May 12, 2018)

Diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, OCD, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Diagnosed: BPD in late January 2017,(self-diagnosis-confirmed through Psychologist), all others in 2015


Self-diagnosed? Funny story. I literally self-diagnosed myself as borderline from an episode of Law and Order: SVU. Not Kidding. The murderer was a psychiatrist, (ironic), with narcissistic personality disorder and as they were reading off her symptoms, I was like, ‘Holy cow, that’s me, but I’m not that self-absorbed. I’m actually the opposite.’

QUEUE DR. GOOGLE!

When you google Narcissistic Personality Disorder, guess what comes up as well? Let’s all say it together: Borderline Personality Disorder. They are basically ‘sister’ disorders. As I read the symptoms, I immediately lost all feeling in my body and made an appointment with my therapist the next day.

Me: “So, I’ve diagnosed myself with something.”

Dr. “Is that so? Go on.”

Me: Tells SVU story. “So yeah, I’m 99.999% and if you round that up, it’s 100% sure I have borderline personality disorder.”

Holds breath for an onslaught of self-loathing when she says no.

Dr. “You’re right. I’ve actually been thinking that myself, so I’m glad you brought this up.”

Me: “Holy ****! At least I’m not a narcissist!” *High-fives with self*

Now what?

For those of you who don’t know the symptoms of BPD, let me list them for you, (per DSM-5, so it’s legit):

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends and family.
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization (“I’m so in love!”) and devaluation (“I hate her”). This is also sometimes known as “splitting.”
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals, and relationships.
  • Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
  • Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts.
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
  • Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.

What can cause this? Well, numerous things like having a brain that doesn’t function correctly, trauma, or simply poor genetics.

In order to be classified as a ‘Borderline,’ you must have 5 of these symptoms. Unfortunately, ya girl has all 9. However, in regards to the anger part, I am internal with my anger. As in, I turn it into self-loathing tendencies instead of taking it out on others. I’m basically the “Quiet Borderline,” more introverted.

Unfortunately, for borderlines, any and everything can be a trigger. It can cause us to react with extreme fear, push people away, frantically pull them close, have panic attacks, isolate, among many other things. And that’s why I’m writing this blog.

“The Immersive Borderline” means to immerse me in experiences as opposed to being on the outside looking in and show others with borderline how to do the same. Experience the moment, let’s not let fear get ahold of us. And let me tell you, this will be a HUGE challenge for me, so basically we can do this together.

I’ve had this disorder ‘officially’ for over a year now and I’ve learned A LOT about myself and how I interact with others. I have a passion for helping others with my disorder and we really do get a bad stigma. We aren’t manipulative humans even though we may come off that way. In reality, we really need help, or simply an outlet. This outlet can be a creative one or one to help us get away.

I’ve had a creative outlet, but now I need a different one, and that one is travel. A serious personality disorder should not confine me or anyone else to our homes. We should be free to see the world and what it has to offer.

Yes, there are serious triggers and I want to share them with you and how to cope.

We will first begin with a trip I took about 3 weeks before I was officially diagnosed: Iceland and Ireland.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Oh! and…

Please always remember, your feelings are valid.

–Brittany