Borderline – An Outside Perspective

blogformentalhealth2013
“Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering.”
-Marsha Linehan

I am human, I have emotions like all humans and at times I could reflect many of the diagnoses in the DSM manual for the behavior I exhibit to deal with my emotions – we ALL could. I currently do not identify with a mental illness, though I know plenty of people who do. Long before I started working in this field I felt a calling to try to help, protect and educate others for the mentally ill who could not do it on their own. This post is for people who want to better understand their friend, colleague or family member who have a borderline diagnosis.

Borderline personality disorder is diagnosed twice as often as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders combined, effecting six to ten million Americans. From experience, I know mental hospitals would prefer to treat a true diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar over an individual with BPD. The reason is – medication is the form of treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar. Once the correct cocktail of prescriptions is discovered, symptoms subside and a discharge is planned. Personality disorders cannot be medicated away, medication can only reduce symptoms associated like depression or anxiety, what is left is a continued thought disturbances. What’s more, the stressors which likely caused an individual with borderline to have a mental breakdown are still problems which will be present during and after a hospitalization (ie relationships, legal issues, financial crisis etc).

Personality disorders can arise in individuals for various reasons and no single person will have the same story or exhibit the same symptoms. Typically borderline personality disorder begins with a combination of mental and environmental factors. The mental side being a family history of mental illness, developmental problems or early severe neglect in infancy. And related to environmental problems, an individual has been subjected to invalidating environments throughout their life. In other words, past emotionally charged relationships, places and events were not properly recognized for the effect it had on an individual. Consider a child hearing “stop crying,” “you shouldn’t feel that way” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” After months or years of having emotions belittled, an individual internalizes these thoughts as their own. The conflict of feeling their emotions are wrong and not knowing how to cope effectively creates chaos in the mind of someone with BPD.

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV-TR) defines borderline personality disorder… Five (or more) of the following:
-Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
-A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
-Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
-Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving).
-Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars or picking at oneself (excoriation).
-Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
-Chronic feelings of emptiness
-Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
-Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms”

It would be really difficult for a typical person with stable mental health to imagine the suffering a person with borderline might be feeling to engage in these types of behaviors. So I will offer you a mild metaphor some might be able to relate to. The game of golf is much more a mental game than physical, and those who play understand a round can be disasterous or successful depending on this condition. A golfer who begins a round with a stroke of bad luck can easily AngryGolferbegin judging each shot more critically. With each bad swing, missed opportunity and hazard found on the course a golfer’s frustration continues to grow. A golfer might resort to comparisons to others, feel they don’t have the proper equipment to be effective or disconnect from the others they are playing with to keep their misery to themselves. Golfers have broken clubs, cursed and yelled, thrown whole bags into ponds and even walked off the course giving up for the day.

Again this metaphor is mild compared to living with borderline personality disorder, the point is, the golfer is stuck in the emotional suffering of being defeated. Much like BPD, there is not separation from one event to the next, there is no rational thinking in an emotional state and there are actions taken one regrets when their mental game is not together. Now if the metaphor helped, imagine it’s not just a round of golf and it’s your life. Everywhere you go, everyone you encounter and everything you do can consume you with the same erratic thinking. Individuals with BPD are desperate for relief from the suffering, and from the outside we can sometimes see their actions making their situation worse. And for the individual with BPD they are doing the best they can with how they have learned to handle life.

If you know someone who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or who you believe exhibits some of the criteria listed above there is treatment which has proven to be successful for improving the quality of life for people with BPD and has been shown to reduce and eliminate many of the symptoms of the disorder. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, was created by Marsha Linehan who was quoted at the start of this post. DBT has been used effectively to treat a number of mental illnesses by teaching and practicing skills in the following sections: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness. There is a big commitment to treatment for individuals to follow including individual and group therapy. Additionally, participants are required to record developing awareness of their thoughts, behaviors and applicable skills on a daily basis. The skills help with problem solving, coping with emotions and learning to communicate.

And if the person you know suffering from BPD is someone who is very close to you in your life you might have been deeply effected by the words or actions of the individual. You might have engaged in conflicts with this person, got wrapped up in the chaos of their world or unknowingly contributed to making the situation worse. Knowing what you know now, maybe you can approach with a greater sense of empathy for where the individual is coming from. It is also reasonable for you to set healthy limits and boundaries with the individual to maintain your own personal mental health. And in the situations when you feel blindsided by the emotional outburst of someone with BPD, don’t jump into the emotional state with them.

Not escalating to meet someone else’s anger is vitally important and can be an emotionally taxing skill to practice, yet critical for maintaining relationships with people who have BPD. In place of trying to argue your point of view, trying to fix the situation or threatening the individual. (Think of the golfer’s response to another player adding jokes or belittling the game during the bad round.) The best practice to help defuse an emotional crisis is to validate the individual’s emotional state. This simply means reflecting what they are feeling, verbally repeating what they are saying and letting them know you see them suffering. You don’t have to agree with them or even understand their point of view. Validation will not fix the situation and it won’t treat the disorder. Validation will help deescalate an emotional state and prevent a situation from getting worse.

Finally, encourage the person you know to get help. Existence doesn’t have to be painful, life can get better.

If you are living in the Kansas City area there are many community mental health providers who facilitate DBT programs.
Lilac Center (KCMO) is specifically designed as a DBT program and can be contacted at 816-221-0305 or go to http://www.lilaccenter.org/
Synergy Services (Parkville, MO) offers a range of theraputic services including DBT. 816-587-4100 or go to http://www.synergyservices.org/
Johnson County Mental Health (Offices in Mission, Olathe & Shawnee KS) 913-826-4200 http://mentalhealth.jocogov.org/

Beaches, Temples and Whores – Oh My!

By this time in our Indian travels I was as accustomed as I could get to standing out in the crowds.  I did my best to be respectful of the culture, be polite and not act as though my values were better than what I was observing around me.  I was also feeling more comfortable and safe in my foreign surroundings, even with a language barrier I was gaining sense of who was trustworthy and who was trying to take advantage.  We had been cautioned before the trip and learned a lot during the month about Indian men – not all Indian men are this way!  We had been told when walking in crowded areas to cover our chests so they wouldn’t be grabbed, one of us could have also used a warning about watching her behind as it got slapped by a man on a moped.  We studied the disparities between the laws to provide women with rights/protection and what actually happens with Indian marriages, abuse of women and trafficking.  http://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/grassroots-for-women-children/

Not only do some Indian men look down upon females in their own society, we learned how Indian men judge American women to be promiscuous.  We get this reputation since American television and movies display women as highly sexualized and dressing provocatively, while Bollywood films don’t contain even a kiss.  While we drew onlookers where ever we went, I tried not to even consider they viewed me as a whore simply for being an American.  The only time this idea of how Indian men view American women came blaring with sirens was on our last weekend in West Bengal.

Our final excursion from Kolkata, during the month in India, was to Puri for beaches and temples.  Our instructor traveling with us from the U.S. was exhausted from the month’s adventures and hosting the students so she sent us with our Indian tour guide Amrit.  He had traveled with us on another trip to Darjeeling and on some sightseeing around the city. (https://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/one-weekend-not-long-enough-darjeeling/).  “Come, come please.”  He would scurry us along like his little ducklings down sidewalks or through the train station “Come, come.

Our hotel in Puri was right on the beach and ocean fun was exactly what we needed after sweltering in the Indian summer temperatures.  It was slightly confusing for a group of American girls to prepare for what to wear to the beach and for swimming since India is modest and Indian women keep covered.  While many of us had bathing suits, we all kept clothed with pants and shirts for our water recreation.

Amrit reported there to be a dangerous undertow right off the shore and hired 3 lifeguards for protection.  These men were no Baywatch studs, middle-aged and scrawny, these lifeguards wore shelled cone hats tied to their heads in order to specify their hired rescuer status.  The guards stood over the American girls in the water and quickly put a hand on their bodies, even with no legitimate threat of drowning.  Once I saw this happening I chose to only dip my toes in so I could avoid unnecessary wandering hands.

Just being near the ocean and out of the city of Kolkata was wonderful.  We spent all afternoon breathing in the sights and sounds of the beach for a change.  As with so many beaches there were people who approached trying to sell something.  Some of us bought necklaces, massages and even rides on a decorated camel.

View from The Pink House

During our stay in Puri there was a restaurant down the beach from our hotel called “The Pink House.”  The eatery was a patio area covered with a thatched roof.  They served fresh fish and had a mural of Bob Marley on one wall.  From where we ate there was a picturesque view of a gate towards the ocean.

Beyond the beach in Puri, we went into the market area for shopping.  And getting the chance to be tourists instead of students for the weekend, we chose tourist type activities like taking a boating excursion on Chilika Lake with over 200 dolphins living in it.  Our boat of caucasian females quickly became the attraction on the lake and while our cameras were aimed at the surfacing dolphins, the other boating sightseer’s had their cameras pointed at us.   http://www.go2india.in/orissa/satapada.php

Our other tourist activity was visiting the temples and ruins around the area.

Sun Temple

Raja-Rani Temple

Udayagiri Khandagiri Caves

Monkeys at Udayagiri Khandagiri Caves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our stay in Puri we were invited by Amrit’s friends to come for lunch.  I don’t remember thinking too much about the invitation before we arrived.  We arrived at an apartment on the beach where there was a small kitchen with a cook preparing our meal.  We were chauffeured into a bar area with swinging doors and crab netting hanging from the walls for sailor themed decor.  Our hosts encouraged us to sample the Indian beer and mix drinks however we desired.  Finally a chance to relax with a few beverages and my new fellow student friends, or so I innocently thought at first.

As we settled in and began socializing with our hosts my curiosity lead me to wonder why we were really invited over?  Turns out Amrit’s friends were two well-off men from the city staying at their beach apartment where they travel to on weekends.  The men were likely the same age as the fathers of most of the students in our group, and both admitted they were married.  One man proudly stated the apartment is off-limits to their wives.  At this point I quietly put down my beverage and tried to reserve my judgments for the remainder of the visit.  Did these men think they had won the jackpot with eight promiscuous American women in their bachelor pad?  Did they think I was a Pretty Woman who stepped out of American Pie to act out my Basic Instinct?

Though I sensed it to be odd, nothing happened during lunch to confirm my suspicions.  However, Amrit scheduled another meeting with these men before we headed back to Kolkata the last day.  This time we were to meet them at their country club.  When we entered the building, we were greeted by Amrit’s friends and some head people at the club including a president and manager.  Confusion set in, in my mind we were just students, nobody important enough to draw attention from important people…

Our group moved upstairs to a room where we would be eating lunch.  Us students observed the room quickly and looked at each other, the bathroom and closet as you entered the room along with two headboards nailed to one wall indicated this was a hotel room.  The furniture had been cleared out and large clothed tables had been put in place for the meal.  More guests began filing in and man after man introduced himself to us, soon the men out numbered our group of female students.  Similar to the meeting before alcoholic beverages were encouraged, except this time most of us declined.  Concerned by the hotel room and all male company, one of the girls asked Amrit to clarify what “country club” meant to Indian’s.  He informed us that Indian clubs sometimes have golf, pools, tennis and other sports along with rooms to stay (sort of like buying a timeshare to a hotel/resort.)

During the meal we did our best to make small talk with our hosts, some of the men hardly spoke English or were very difficult to comprehend.  Finally when the visit was over we all made our way out to our awaiting vehicles.  One of the hosts from the country club came running out after us to ask if everything was okay because he had seen a trail of blood.  All of us looked around assuming it was unrelated to us, except the last student to get into the vehicle.  She hadn’t realized she was bleeding despite a heavily dropping cut.  It wasn’t until the country club was in the rear view mirror when she finally explained what had happened.

Before we had left the building, one by one we used the restroom and then trickled outside towards the vehicles.  She was the last student and regrettably none of us realized we had abandoned the buddy system and left her inside.  One of the male guests from our lunch tried to corner her and kiss, she reacted in a haste and somehow managed to cut herself on the door in her escape.

Five years after my travels to India I am still trying to understand what that lunch, with grown men in an empty hotel room was all about.  Their intent in the invitation was unclear.  I feel conflicted between what my obvious fear was during the day, and not wanting to unnecessarily judge a situation to be negative out of fear.  I guess part of me just wants to hang on to hoping people I encounter are honest and sincere towards me.

Puri was quite an adventure.  The Indian beaches and temples were worth the trip, though, we were not American whores.

This post is part of a series I am writing about my month abroad in Kolkata, India to study the social welfare systems.  Feel free to look back on previous posts – here are a few:

https://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/my-indian-summer/

https://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/step-one-assimilation-to-traffic/

https://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/lessons-in-love-the-mother-teresas-homes-kolkata/

https://inspiredlivingkc.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/when-it-rains-it-floods/

Tornado, hurricane, earthquake? No, just my yard.

(sigh) This is my backyard.Despite what the picture depicts there has been no natural disasters here.  Just four years of bare minimum yard work taking place in this pathetic outdoor space.  No passerby would even suspect there were two nature loving fools living within these walls, unfortunately, we enjoy the nature in parks rather than cultivating a park in our own backyard.

The desire to have a usable backyard has been present since moving into the home almost four years ago.  In fact we even discussed how magnificent the yard could be as outdoor entertainment when deciding to make an offer.  Since then our aspirations never met our skills, nor did our motivation meet our pocketbook.

The yard itself is pretty sizable, with large shady trees and an old 1940’s style stone/cement fire pit.  The untamed limbs of the trees provide plenty of kindling should we ever be able to utilize the fire-pit.  There is a chain-link fence separating the yard from the street parallel to our house.  The positioning of our property on the street allows all of our neighbors walking and driving by to take notice of the ugliness that is our yard.  It’s difficult to tell what covers most of the ground whether it be grass, weeds or mostly ivy.  And our muppet-like furry dogs have taken the liberty of running a path along the fence line to greet other dogs and pedestrians.

At times it feels like we are maintaining more of a snake habitat than anything else since it’s near impossible to be out there for any length of time without encountering at least one slithery friend.  My neighbor Lucy, who has lived in her home since the ’50s, told me she believes the snake population in the area is so high due to a teen releasing his pets years ago.  I’m not sure whether the story is true, or if it could even be the reason for the radical number of snakes.  Sometimes I look closely at the snakes to try to recognize if it’s a pet store breed, that is right before I run in the opposite direction.

Two ideas come to mind when thinking about the recent urgency I have had to fix this outdoor space.  Of course my busy toddler is topping off that list.  I want her to be able to develop memories of playing outdoors, swinging,  running through the sprinker, riding a tricycle around a paved path, and laying out a blanket for an impromptu picnic when the weather calls for it.  I dream of being able to host her second birthday this fall at our own house and to be able to have our friends and family all together to celebrate with a backyard BBQ.  I’ve imagined cozying up to my hubby and the baby monitor with a backyard fire, escaping the nonsense of a days work with an evening camping experience.  I’d have flowers and vegetables grown instead of bought.  I’d have neighbors admiring the space instead of wondering what lazy individuals must live here.  I’d even try my hand at composting and if my husband would allow it I’d maintain a chicken coop for fresh eggs (that last dream I won’t ever get approved though).

My daughter and I surveying the amount of work that needs to be done.

The second idea that comes to mind regarding the necessity which has inspired me to fix this area is a lecture I had the priviledge to see several years back given by Peter Walsh.  He is the organization guru most known by the TLC show Clean Sweep.  He challenges people to clear the clutter and live happier lives.  I distinctly remember one of the simple exercises he presented with a fill in the blank statement.  “My house is _____.”

Before you continue reading consider what your statement might be…

Since hearing this exercise several years ago, I often think of describing my house.  Sometimes I can say my house feels happy, sometimes it’s my house is a mess, or my house is colorful.  Recently I reflected on the statement and came up with – My house is better on the inside then the outside.  This idea was an honest response to the feeling of doing more work on the interior of my house and the obvious lack of effort on the exterior (mainly the backyard).  I spend a lot of time cleaning, decorating for the holidays and I have painted nearly every wall in the house since we have moved in.

The significance of the statement, according to Peter Walsh, is to change “my house” to “my life” and understand how our home is a reflection of how we are living and who we are.  It’s been accurate for me in the past of feeling happy, colorful and even when my life was a mess.  This time My life is better on the inside then the outside, also seems true to me on many platforms.  To me, it applies to feeling confident and happy with who I am on the inside and it not projecting to my outward appearance.  I don’t put much effort into taking care of myself on the outside with exercise, haircuts or dressing myself.  More importantly the creative thoughts and ideas which I am consistently brainstorming inside my head are not being acted on outside of my mind.  I wonder what the “outside” in my life could begin to resemble if I put forth the effort of the ideas I have on the inside.

This is my dream yard space complete with patio, garden areas, grassy pad, fire-pit seating, play area and path. Now I’ll just need the powers of the internet for support and accountability.

This takes me back to the backyard.  I’m focusing on the outside of my house, as a metaphor for working on releasing the creativity in my mind.  I believe that when I have a yard space I can be proud of, I will also have measurable output for my ideas, and my hope is this will expand to more than just my yard.  As for the outward appearance – yard work is exercise and no one will care if my hair is done or dirt is on my clothes when they walk past and compliment my yard.   Please consider these the before pictures and stay tuned for updates on progress!

Can inspiration be drawn from state government?

I am no expert on state government, I don’t get involved in local politics and I am not into advocating for different ordinances.  I have consistently paid my state taxes on time and I have been a state employee.  Based on these items, I felt compelled to write about my thoughts when a letter from the State Department of Revenue arrived in the mail.

First, my history working with the state was not a fulfilling, healthy employment experience.  Once I realized my position in middle management I understood my battle to supervise staff could never be won with the hypocrisy of administrators managing things above me.  At times I described my situation as trying to reverse a freight train of unproductive behaviors, beliefs and systems that would/will perpetuate the wasteful spending and abuse of the system.  Ultimately this effects every single state taxpayer by draining their pockets to continue this cycle whether they realize it or not.  Just think every state taxpayer has something they wish would be improved in the state – education, healthcare, roads, support for the military – and we continue to hear about limited budgets and financial crisis.  My experience working for the state felt immoral, illogical and toxic at times since I maintained my common sense and strong ethics.  I was able to appreciate the job for educating me on how my tax dollars are blown, for the knowledge of how the state tolerates negligent employees and an understanding of how individuals work their way into positions of power not by evoking change for the positive, rather schmoozing up the ladder by helping others to cover-up situations and make themselves look better.

Needless to say, when a letter from the State Department of Revenue arrived and declared the state does not have a record of us paying state taxes in 2009…  Anger erupted from the dark black box inside of me where I have been burying hatred from this job and the recognition of what is wrong with the state government.  And at the same time I realize, it makes sense they would loose the paper work for our taxes.  It makes sense they wouldn’t look this over back in 2010, maybe, and try to correct mistakes then.  It makes sense they are out of money and have to go back years to collect on it now.  It makes sense that governments can be corrupt, spend wastefully and demand that we have to go out of our way to provide them evidence when they loose it.  Who is there to make the government accountable for change?

I wish I knew the answer for effecting change in such a damaged system.  Going back to the title of this post, I hope there will be inspiration to change the status quo of our government systems.  I hope at some point sooner then later, the populations living within these government systems realize how to unite to hold the governments accountable for the disasters they have created for us big and small.

Until then this disgruntled, former state employee had better go resubmit my 2009 state taxes to settle my small disaster.

A not so great reminder of why living in the mid-west is GREAT.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the “silver lining” when the clouds continually present themselves.  I decided to create my own meaning for a few could-have-been-disasterous events which have happened recently.  And I relate this meaning to reminding myself why I love living in the mid-west.

Earlier this month my family and I were riding back to Kansas City through the scenic Flint Hills.  We decided to get an early start on the travel home so that we would have some relaxation time when we got there, turns out we needed that relaxation time for a major hiccup in our plans.  Less than thirty minutes into our journey my husband had to pull to the side of the road as the driver’s side front tire deflated.

Together we maneuvered our 2 dogs, yes our whole family was in the vehicle, from the back to the front in order to get to the spare.  Unfortunately, we lacked the key needed to remove the flat tire from the car.  Standing dumbfounded on the side of the interstate with the Acura manual open, a truck pulled up behind us.  A gentleman from a small town, also headed east for a meeting the next day, offered to help us.  He was off duty and employed by the department of transportation.  After figuring out there was nothing we could do to change to the spare without the key the gentleman took my husband into the nearest town to find a way to rectify our situation.

My toddler loved the opportunity to play around in the front seat as we waited for their return.  She bounced around smiling, turning the stereo up and down dancing, and pretending to steer the wheel.  Luckily the weather was perfect to have the windows down and feel a cool breeze.  I made a conscious effort not to look at the time, as I knew it would make the minutes cooped up in the car on the interstate progress in slow motion.

Her entertainment distracted me from two other vehicles who separately pulled up behind us to check on our wellness.  I was surprised each time to see a friendly smile appear at the window asking if we were okay.  Living in the mid-west where it is not out of the ordinary for people to go out of their way to help each other, it still seemed extraordinary that we would have so many generous offers for help.  I believe the larger of my protective guard dogs sensed the sincerity in their offers since he did not bark at the strangers.  In fact, the only noise he made was growling at the curious herd of cows coming to the fence to inspect our situation.

During the time my husband was away, a third car pulled up making that four individuals stopping all together.  This time it was a highway patrol officer and after hearing our situation put his lights on behind us and stayed until their return.  The officer eventually assisted us in calling a tow-truck as we discovered there was no way to unlock the tire and put on the spare.  Despite being irritated from our derailed trip home, my husband and I enjoyed the conversations with the tow-truck driver and highway patrol man as they brought us into town.  The Manhattan Wreckers driver and I discussed my afternoon on the highway and the unexpected offers of help I received.  He recalled his experience with the tornado that came through town three years ago and how members of the community chipped in to ensure everyone was taken care of.  

My poor dogs were stressed enough from the days events and finally we were at the brink of getting new tires and ready to head home.  Another saving grace to the day happened to be friends in town who picked up our pets to give them a break from being in the car and some time to play in a backyard.  We are forever, and repeatedly indebted to the Schottlers, for everything they do for us!

Eventually we made it home tired and safe, adding about 7 hours to what we anticipated it would take for our ride home.  The car had a full set of new tires and drove smooth again.

Exactly nine days later, in our other vehicle, I was again on I-70 when I felt the same feeling of the tire deflating.  “CRAP – How could this happen again?” I thought as I pulled to the side of the interstate.  Determined to be an independent woman and put the spare on all by lonesome, my aspirations were squashed when I couldn’t event figure out how to get the jack to loosen from the side compartment in the trunk.  

Midwest generosity to the rescue again…  A friendly stranger happened to stop behind me to check his own equipment at first and when he realized I was in need of help set aside his own priorities to make sure I was taken care of.  While initially I asked for help loosening the jack, he insisted on completing the whole job.  While he cranked the car up he told me about the grinder he had just purchased and the inventions he had made and sold.  I got a lesson in recycling carpet for plastics and oil, more importantly I received a lesson in going out of my way for others in need.

While I may not be of much assistance pulling over to help someone with a flat tire, there has to be more ways I can pay it forward in order to repay the individuals who have helped me.  These two incidences of flat tires in such a short period of time initially had me irritated and wondering why I had such negative karma being delivered to me.  After the bitterness settled, these situations reinforced my faith in the people living in the community around me.  It is nice to know I’m not all alone when I need help.  Despite the craziness of the world there are good people who do good things with no expectations of a return on their investment.

My Technology Funk

Technologically speaking, I have found my place in thickening cement while others around me seem to be fluttering about like hummingbirds.  How is it that I have accrued a heaping junk yard of wires, cables and damaged electronics?  While my single friends voice complaints about being a magnet for eligible losers, I somehow have gotten the honor of attracting worthless technology.  Computers, cell phones, internet service, cable, DVD player – they all hate me.  And the irony of the moment they decide to quit never seems so funny at the time. 

I believe my technology funk started several years ago.  My husband, Regg, and I purchased a laptop to replace our old computers in preparation for graduate school.  I was so proud of the crisp clean white at the beginning, she even received the name White Lightening for how quick she was.  This computer was frequently shared with friends when they visited our home, each got a chuckle out of the password used to gain access to the computer.  The password was OBRO – meaning Operation Block Regg Out, a lesson my husband learned the hard way about keeping an individual password on his account for a shared computer where I acted as the administrator.  My husband and I both used the computer throughout each of our grad school programs, we stored music, played games, Facebooked, edited movies and photos.  This seemed to be very average usage for 2 years until the screen went blank.  We took this laptop to a computer geek shop and with our explanation and one glance at the computer the geek behind the counter promptly handed us instructions to a class action lawsuit.  “We’ve seen quite a few of these, there is nothing you can do to fix it,” he said.

It’s my understanding this well-known and well liked computer company created these well purchased laptops and quickly found out each one would well…  eventually fail.  I guess since kids will not eat it and get sick or stick their heads between them and choke computer companies are not held to the same recall standards?  Instead, those who unknowingly invested hard-earned income on a computer with a short expiration date are just out of luck.  Since the death of White Lightening we have tried to patch our computer needs cheaply with refurbished computers.  And while I’m sure some technologically savvy individuals could get them to adequate working condition – I only seem to be able to get computers to move slowly and to freeze.

My technology funk doesn’t stop with computers though.  I have a home that acts as a bomb shelter for cell phone reception, a “smart” cell phone that screens my calls by deciding when I will get to answer and exactly how quickly the call will be dropped, cable where the picture is more often than not jumping or freezing, an extra Playstation since the first was turned over accidentally by an excited terrier, and internet disconnected by squirrels to name a few. 

Technology can be so inspiring and yet so infuriating at the same time.  It seems that everything is connected to electronics and when flowing smoothly you can be quick, creative and have a world of information at your fingertips.  And then there are some days, and in my case a long period of time, where you are aware of the possibilities and nothing seems to be computing right.