Posts tagged borderline personality disorder
My Issues With Veterans Day: Part 2

Last year I wrote a pretty successful post on My Issues With Veteran's Day.  I'm much more of an honest writer now so here's part 2.


If you know me then you know that I'm not the guy who wears the "Iraq War Veteran" hat or has the "USMC" tattoo on my chest or even discusses my military past with others. I sometimes even go as far as talking to other veterans like I'm not one.  This is fun and interesting for me.

I'm not the guy who posts on facebook about sentimental issues that make people tear up or the guy that pulls out my old uniforms and medals to show off.  

So here lies my issue with Veterans Day:  I am a photographer, artist, teacher, husband, dad, whatever...and I was in the Marine Corps.  But I don't feel like a Veteran most of the time.  I went to Iraq, I have interesting stories but I don't care to talk about them very much.  I have shirts, uniforms, medals and cammies but I'd rather not take the time to show you.  I have friends that tag me in "patriotic" posts but I usually don't engage or respond.  When I meet other veterans I feel disconnected from them and when they start talking about how different civilian life is I just nod my head.  When another Marine says "oorah" to me I feel so awkward. When a stranger says "thank you for your service" I say "thank you for saying thank you" in an attempt to relieve that weird feeling.  

What would happen if we thanked everyone for something they did for a veteran?  What if we just valued humans?  What would be the outcome if we just thanked our spouses or kids like we do veterans?  

Did you know my wife went through hell when I was in the Marine Corps?  And that since then she's managed to survive the backlash of my PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder along with a plethora of other shit? Not just survive but thrive.  Did you know that I treated her really badly when I was in the Marine Corps while at the same time I was doing what most people consider "honorable" and "patriotic"?  Did you know that it's an absolute miracle that she chose to stay with me?  And did you know that she's probably been "thanked" by others around 3 or 4 times in the past 10 years?  Feel free to thank her here.

Did you know that my 2 kids have seen me change dramatically in the past 5 years as I've addressed my Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD? They've been there while I've become obsessed with being an "artist" and "teacher".  And did you know that they've had to deal with my anger, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, overworking and withdrawal?  That they've helped and inspired most of my creative work?  And did you know that they've never been thanked by others for that?

To all the veterans out there I give you mad props.  I just wonder if everybody is being honored on Veteran's Day. 

How Borderline Personality Disorder Has Helped My Creativity

I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  I've known for the a while but before that I was told that I had Bipolar Disorder (this is a common mistake apparently).  

I've had BPD most of my life but didn't know until someone showed me a list of the symptoms.  I looked at it and said "Yep.  Everyone of those is me."

Since then I've been taking what's know as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  For me this is like "mindfullness" or "meditation" on steroids.  Daily, I am asked to "look inward" and notice how I feel,  how I responded to people and situations.  I've been asked to change the words I use.  For example instead of using "like", "dislike", "good", "bad" I might say "I notice", "I'm curious", "I feel (insert actual emotion).  This is where the creative change has happened in my life.   

I'm a teacher of creative digital art.  I've been doing this for 6 years now.  I've taught every creative digital art process that you can think of.   It's been so stressful and miserable until... 

I started bringing the skills that I was learning in therapy into my classroom.  I stopped judging how "good" my projects were and actually spent significantly less time on them.  I started questioning my students rather then telling them to "change" or "fix" their art.  Instead of me making all of the decisions I started allowing (and trusting) them to make them on their own with my guidance.  I began to allow the natural curiosity and wonder of the human mind lead me and my students in our creativity.  

I'm happy to report that this had made all the difference in my life as a digital art teacher.  Not just creatively but relationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.  I was actually told for the first time in my teaching career by a student that I was a "good teacher". BPD and DBT has actually liberated me to act spontaneously and intuitively in my teaching, creative art and relationships.  

If you have (or think you have) Borderline Personality Disorder and want to get some tips click here.  Or if you want to just ask me some questions then leave a comment below or click here.

How Type-A Artists Survive

I was teaching at a documentary film school over the summer and someone said to me "how does it feel to be a 'type-A artist?"

I started thinking about my life and how much I've struggled as a creative person because of the ocean of ideas that I have in my mind, my perfectionistic standards and the constant struggle I have to work with other people.  

Here are 5 strategies that I've came up with to help me on my journey as a "type-A artist":

1. LET GO OF 'PERFECT'

It's so hard to do this!  I want my art and creative endeavors to end up the best they can be. Every time.  The problem is with what "the best they can be" is.  The idea that something can always be "better" is a problem in our society.  Understandably.  We're bombarded with "push-ads" that cram what "perfect" is down our throats on the daily.   When I started as a photographer years ago I was so worried that I wasn't as good as other photographers.  I was right.  It turns out that that was ok.  I ended up doing a 100-day self-portrait project where I posted one photo per day for 100 days.  I started off shooting with my iPhone and then naturally desiring "better photos", I learned how to use a DSLR.  I ended up being a "photographer" to all of my followers by the end of the project.  That only happened because I let go of "perfect" and embraced "process".

2. MEDITATE. EVERYDAY

I have a disorder know as "borderline personality disorder".  For as far back as I can remember I have been a perfectionist, driven, passionate.  Also unproductive.

Meditation has revolutionized my creative life by allowing me to focus or "re-focus" on what's really important in my life and complete the tasks that I value.  Meditation looks very different for a lot of people.  I actually have a lambskin rug in my work space that I lay down on everyday for at least 10 minutes while listening to some guided meditation or calm music.  If you've never done "guided meditation" then I highly recommend that you go to YouTube and search for it.  Or just click here.  You'll feel kooky in the beginning but over time you'll start to notice the life changing benefits in your creative life, personal life and with your family.

3. STOP MAKING STUFF

I got this intuitive (and almost scary effective) tip from the relationship guru, Jordan Gray.  He basically says that if you're an "ultra productive" person then you should practice being intentionally "unproductive".  This seems too simply I know.  I challenge you to "not work" on purpose the next time that you are in the middle of an intense creative project where you feel stuck.  

4. EXERCISE. DAILY

I know here we go.  The old "exercise daily" thing.  If you can get up 30 minutes earlier everyday and do a light (I said light) run and/or yoga-ish stretching then I promise you that you'll see an increase in quality of your day to day creativity, relationship and overall life. 

Go ahead and grab your phone and change your alarm.  You can do it!

5. GET AN EXPENSIVE JOURNAL

I've recently started adding value to this so much that I went out and bought a $13 journal. I use this everyday to write, sketch or doodle out my thoughts, ideas or creative projects.  Before I bought this journal I had a really low quality (picture grade school) notebook.  Since it was cheap I treated cheap.  It had no value because I literally picked it up out of a box that someone was going to recycle. 

The point is you want to prepare yourself to be successful by having something that you value with you so you'll want to use it.  It's that simple. 

You might take these strategies and say "not fore me" or you might try to change them to fit your style or even maybe even ask another "type-A โ€œcreative person around you how they survive.  

Whatever you do.  Do something that works for you. Or nothing right! (Strategy #3)

Creatively,

Mark

P.S. Want to talk about this more? Drop me a line. I love helping creative people!

 

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