In Therapy.

therapy

 

Talking therapy is tough!

Nobody should ever joke about therapy, or take it lightly. If you’re doing it right, it is difficult, painful, hard work and mentally exhausting.

I’ve been out of therapy for a few years after my course of DBT ended. But having taken quite a knock backwards, or rather a series of knocks backwards, I decided to seek help. And what I’ve been offered is a short course of CBT (4 sessions) and a 12 week course to improve my relationship with myself and others, and to become more assertive, therefore more able to get my needs met, without using unhealthy behaviours.

Today I had my second session, and I get very anxious before my appointments. It really is hard work, having someone probe into the workings of your mind, asking you questions that really make you think… having to relive your past experiences in order to find better ways to move forward in life. When I came out I felt totally drained. I wanted to sleep. I felt physically tired! Last time it took a day or two to get over my appointment. I guess it might get easier as I go along, and perhaps I’m just out of practice. I’m not used to talking about my emotions and feelings anymore. Especially in the last few months to a couple of years, I’ve closed off. I don’t talk to my friends anymore about my feelings. I don’t even really talk to my family, although they do understand I’ve not been in a good place lately – but then they know the reasons, or at least some of them. The only outlet I’ve really had for my feelings has been on my blogs. I feel if I express myself through them then I’m not burdening anyone. It’s people’s choice if they want to read, and they don’t have to feel obliged to respond and talk to me about it… but they can if they choose to. I prefer it that way – I’m not so good at direct conversation anymore. I feel I’ve changed. Pretty much if you don’t ask, and you don’t read my blog, then you’re never going to know….

 

therapy 2

Something I talked to my therapist about was this cycle that I have, which I know too well. I’m hurt by a friend… I try to bring it up with them (though sometimes I don’t!)… they dismiss it, don’t want to talk about it, or are offended by me talking about it… I feel guilty so don’t continue to talk about it… I feel bitter and resentful instead… I distance myself from the friend…. I feel misunderstood and lonely as they don’t fight for me… I think there’s something wrong with me, and negative self-talk starts… this pushes people away…. more resentment and hurt….. and it continues. So I’m having to learn about breaking the cycle.

That’s where the assertiveness will come in. When asked where I would break the cycle I said I didn’t know. In my mind it took every effort I had to confront an issue with a friend, and if they handled it badly then surely it’s their response that is the problem… there’s not much I can do about that. But when asked how I sounded when bringing up an issue, I realised maybe I’m not strong and positive enough. Maybe I’m too apologetic about it, as I’m scared to confront problems with people I care about, as I’m scared it’ll mess up the friendship forever, and I’ll lose them.

Likewise, with my anger, I’ll react, shout, swear, storm off, slam doors, punch walls, and then hide away, cry and self-harm to lessen the anger and also because of the shame. I’ll feel embarrassed about my outburst, and hate myself. But through talking today I realised that my actions during my outbursts, whilst not ideal, are serving a purpose – by storming off I’m getting away from a situation that’s too much for me. And by shouting, swearing etc, I’m demonstrating that I’m not okay. I’m communicating my frustration and anger about something. I’m in emotional mind and that’s when you react without thinking. Everyone does it. Mine just needs containing, or harnessing. I need to practise mindfulness to bring me back to the moment and the physical world around me. I also need to find a more effective way to communicate how I’m feeling. I’ve expressed my feelings to people before though and they’ve never seemed to understand. I don’t know if that’s my fault for not expressing it correctly, so that it really conveys the pain I’m in, or the anger I feel, or if it’s their fault, for just not having the skills to understand and empathise… and validate me. Whatever it is, it’s not worked before, and although I hate my outbursts, they have let people know in the past that I’m really not okay, and I’m overwhelmed. And what works for you becomes a learnt behaviour. So it’s going to take a long time to learn new behaviours. And I feel it will be a case of trial and error. Some things might not work, but hopefully I will find a way.

 

therapy 3

I’ve definitely concluded I shouldn’t be too hard on myself right now. I used to be better at communicating and sharing my feelings with people. But then other people happened to me, and life events too… it’s all changed me. Through losing close friends, to being hurt by guys I cared deeply about, to being abandoned by people during my first experience of loss, when I needed them most, it’s enough to make anyone withdraw from the world. I don’t confront issues with friends anymore. I learnt this by past experiences. I don’t trust men anymore. I learnt this by being hurt too many times by them. I don’t talk about what’s still hurting me now. I learnt this by having people say they didn’t want to hear about it anymore. So I closed off. I stopped confiding in my friends. I stopped telling them when they upset me, and I bottled up resentment instead, and distanced myself from them. I stopped going out in the world, and took myself firmly off the market. I don’t want guys to show interest in me. I have no interest in them. I live inside my head now, and that’s why I’m so exhausted all the time, and nobody would understand why.

I’m a hermit. When I venture out I put on a mask. I don’t talk about my feelings. I don’t want to burden people. But it’s a huge burden to me. I feel alone. And those are the moments I contemplate not being here anymore. So I need to find a way to break out of it. My mind tells me the key to me re-entering life and returning to the world, is other people – others putting in more effort or being kinder, more compassionate, and helping me, but I know now that’s never going to happen. I have to find some way to exist, regardless of how other people treat me. I don’t know what the answer is yet, but I’m guessing the next few months of therapy might hold the key. I can’t claim to have total faith in this therapy yet, as I believe nobody can save me now… too much has changed to possibly change back. But we’ll wait and see. I could be proven wrong.

Whilst there is a lack of support for those with BPD nowadays, I’m grateful to have been offered what little I have. Even if I’m sceptical it’s enough, I will go with it, as the alternative is zero help. Got to be worth a try, talking it out, if only to teach me to open up again. I know that if I don’t open up again I’m heading down a one-way track, towards a bleak end.

I’ll try and share my progress with you, and pass on anything useful I pick up.

One good thing about therapy this time around, is I’m in a better state for learning – I actually got to ask the therapist how ‘normal’ people’s minds work, and how they cope with life… and what’s ‘normal’. I actually feel less of a freak after today – knowing that everyone experiences anger, and it’s normal to just react and regret afterwards. And they also all tend to do things on auto-pilot whilst thinking of other things. The key is to notice when our thoughts go to dark places, and to bring our attention back to the present moment, during those times.

 

therapy 4

Interested to know where this journey will take me – got to be to a better place than I’m in now, that’s for sure! Wish me luck!

xxxx

Reality Of Symptoms.

Symptoms

 

*Long post – take what you want from it*

 

syms

 

 

I saw this on Facebook the other day, and wanted to expand on it a little in a post. These symptoms do exist, they’re very real and quite distressing for those who experience them. Whilst some can be symptoms and signs of other mental health problems, for example depression, and anxiety, I have to admit I identify with almost all of those, minus promiscuity. So I wanted to talk about each point and the effects of these symptoms so that people can better understand the struggle of living with BPD, or any mental illness.

 

Needing Attention

BPD A1

 

Everybody in this world needs attention. When we were babies we’d all cry to get attention… to get our needs met. Whether that need was food, a changed nappy, or a cuddle and a bit of love and reassurance. We used our natural instinct to get those needs met – we cried. Even as adults we all have basic needs. And whilst some of us may have most of them met, for instance warmth and shelter, food, family, friends… it doesn’t mean we always have the love, support and understanding we need. We don’t necessarily have the reassurance we need, and the feeling of worthiness. And there are some damaged souls out there who cry out for this kind of attention… we want to feel loved and cared for. We want to feel we matter in this big, intense and often cruel world. We want to be understood and supported, and we want to have reassurance that the people we care for aren’t going to leave us. We need to know we’re not terrible people. So we may do things like push people away, to see if they care or not. If they just go, then they don’t care. But if they stand and fight for us, then we matter to them, and this gives us reassurance that our friendship /relationship is real and we’re loved.

Fine, it may not be the most constructive and healthy method of gaining this reassurance, but chances are we’ve tried other techniques and not succeeded in getting our needs met. Once we find something that works, that becomes learned behaviour and is repeated in future situations.

People often imply that self-harm and suicide attempts are a ‘cry for help’ or a form of ‘attention-seeking’… like that’s a BAD thing. We all need and deserve attention. And we all seek that attention in different ways. Some lucky bastards are given attention without any effort at all. Some show off their bodies to get physical attention. Some break the law, because negative attention is better than no attention. Some are ‘jokers’ and extroverts and gain attention that way. And some inflict pain on themselves. But 99.9% of the time it is NOT done for attention at all. In fact people most likely to self-harm are those who would rather not be in the spotlight. We don’t want attention in the sense of all eyes on us. The attention people with BPD need is compassion… warmth… love…. security… reassurance… consistency…. very basic things that every human being needs. But we can feel neglected in this regard, and asking for reassurance or love or loyalty, should not be seen as manipulative or attention-seeking… it should be a sign to people that they’re not putting enough into their relationship / friendship with us. I mean if someone feels so neglected, unloved and worthless, that they’d cut into their own skin, why would you deny them the basic attention they need?? We don’t do it TO GET attention. We do it because of a LACK of attention – it doesn’t mean we’re trying to make people pay attention, we’re just coping in our own private way with our feelings of inadequacy, after months and years of being forgotten, neglected and abandoned.

I’ll tell you, in my darkest moments recently, I have wanted to go to the top of a building and get the attention of the emergency services. This is SO of character for me and I find it disturbing, but it’s not because I’m an ‘attention-seeker’. I’ve just been in a difficult place, and felt isolated. I felt I had nobody to turn to, and wanted to end my life, and emergency services SAVE lives. And if they saved mine it would show I was worth something. This was because of a lack of love, support and attention from those around me. You seek it through any method necessary. If I couldn’t get the basic attention I needed in life, I would end my life. Attention – i.e. ‘human contact’ is so vital to survival. And nobody should make fun of someone or criticise someone for feeling neglected by the world.

Outbursts Of Emotion (Especially Anger)

BPD A2

 

This is something we hate about ourselves. It’s not something we’re proud of. We wish we could control it. But what these outbursts tend to be is repressed anger. I myself have always been afraid of anger as an emotion. I don’t know why. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like arguments. I don’t like aggression. And I see anger as a bad emotion to have. So I never showed it. I’d hide my feelings of anger. And often in the past I’d take that anger out on myself. And then through therapy I learnt that it’s okay to be angry, and I learnt to express that anger in healthier ways.

But sadly, over time I’ve lost those strategies of dealing with my anger, and without the support of the mental health services, I’ve gone backwards. I now try and ‘contain’ my anger again, and with life being so relentlessly hurtful, I quite often have ‘episodes’ of anger.

These outbursts are not meant to cause harm – physical or mental. It’s a build-up of stress and emotions, and they’re all crammed into this little space inside us, and our spirit can only take so much stress or heartache at a time…. but the world can’t see how much we already have crammed in there, so it continues to push us and push us, until the storage for all this stress is bursting and ready to explode. One more ounce of stress and BOOM, that’s it – we’re no longer in control of our emotions… they take control of us.

We all have triggers… things that set us off emotionally, and that’s why one tiny little thing (to someone else) can set off an episode that seems out of proportion with what’s just happened. But it’s because of a build-up of little things, and that last thing was the trigger.

We try so hard to ‘control’ our emotions, by pushing them away, denying them, ignoring them… but this backfires, as emotions want and need to be experienced. We have emotions for a reason. And if we ignore that reason, the emotions aren’t going to simply go away. They will morph into something even more powerful. They end up controlling us instead. We can’t control when these explosions happen. They are a loss of control. And that means the emotions win. Or the cause of our stress wins. The way to take back our power is to recognise stress and anger, and accept them as serving a purpose. We have to healthily express our emotions at an early stage, so they don’t build up.

But sometimes, no matter what we do, there will be some triggers that cut so deep… They’ll surprise us… Out of the blue they’ll attack us. I’m yet to find a way to put a safety on our triggers. I would guess it’s looking at the root cause of why a trigger is a trigger, and working through our feelings about it. But that would likely take time and a therapist – something which is hard to come by in this country nowadays!

Whenever I have an outburst, I feel incredibly embarrassed. It’s the last thing I want to happen. My outbursts usually involve shouting, swearing, storming off, slamming doors, throwing things, punching walls, crying, self-harming. I never want to harm others with my outbursts. I never want to hurt anyone else in any way. I’m aware I probably frighten others with my episodes, but I am also frightened at the time. You go into a dissociative state, where you feel like it’s not you shouting and swearing. You’re hyped up on adrenaline and can’t feel the pain of punching the wall. You’re afraid of what you might do. It’s like you’re watching yourself do these things you don’t want to do. And then you lock yourself away in a room, in a ball on the floor, in the dark, crying, and slowly coming back to reality. And you’re scared to come out and face people as you feel you’re an awful person. Usually someone will eventually come and knock the door and perhaps give me a hug. But I never feel I deserve it. I’ve had some pretty traumatic outbursts that I’m ashamed of and can’t get over. But there’s nothing I can do about them now. I never intended to make a scene. And these outbursts are usually triggered by other people’s anger. I wouldn’t have an outburst if it wasn’t triggered by an experience with another human being. It takes two people to create a negative emotion.

But bottom line is these outbursts are beyond our control, unless we can access the help we need to work on them. They are not something we enjoy or do for the hell of it. We don’t want to hurt you, and we’re often frightened of ourselves. Please look beyond the anger, and look at the cause… the trigger.. and the message it carries.

Not Getting Out Of Bed

BPD A3

 

I know this one quite well, especially in the last few months. This is more an aspect of depression, but that often goes hand in hand with BPD. I’ve had good reasons to be depressed in the last year, and as much as it would be good to keep busy and make the most out of my life, I’ve not wanted to participate in life.

Think about it… people with BPD often experience suicidal thoughts. It may not be that they want to die, they just find it hard to live. They want to escape pain and life. An alternative way to do this is to sleep more. Or to just stay in bed, because if you don’t get out of bed and participate in life, you won’t encounter other people or potential triggers. You won’t harm yourself as you won’t get triggered. You’re less of a risk to yourself, and feel less of an annoyance if you just hide away under the covers.

Sometimes I’ll wake up fairly early, but not get out of bed for a couple of hours. I’ll go online and read stupid things, or play a Facebook game, or write a blog post… it’s all a way of avoiding life. Avoiding decisions, stress and disappointment.

There is a downside to it though – we have more time to sit and think. We can actually make ourselves more depressed sitting doing nothing. I’ve done that before… I’ve looked at my friends’ social media and convinced myself they’ve forgotten all about me, as they’ve not spoken to me in weeks. If I wasn’t sitting around online I wouldn’t have time to concoct these ideas in my mind.

The other aspect of this is that having BPD or any mental illness is utterly draining. Those who don’t know about mental illness are lucky – they have no clue how exhausting it is, fighting with your own mind every day. To live in a body whilst your mind wants to die. Every little thing takes so much more effort when you’re mentally ill. If you experience anxiety alongside BPD that is tiring. The adrenaline involved with anxiety or with angry outbursts associated with BPD, can wipe you of energy and make you tired afterwards.

Depression makes you tired. It makes you feel weary in every sense. It makes you lethargic, like nothing really matters. Like everything is too hard to get through, so why bother. If you’ve never experienced depression then think yourself lucky. If you had it, you would want to hide away in bed too. It’s a tiredness that sleep cannot fix.

 

Social Withdrawal

BPD A4

 

Isolating yourself. It’s a protection tactic. You think if you avoid other people, you can avoid extreme emotions and triggers.

I’ve done this a lot in the last few years. You can always tell I’m in a very dark place if I come off of social media, or stop talking to my friends for a time. I had been doing this until about a week ago. I met up with friends I don’t see often or hadn’t actually met until last weekend. In my heart I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to see other people. I wanted to isolate myself.

We sometimes isolate ourselves to see who really cares about us. If people notice we’ve gone quiet and ask how we are, then we know we’re not invisible. This rarely happens with me now though. I know I’m invisible. I often have to instigate contact with my friends now, and I hate it. I feel such a burden and nuisance. I WANT people to notice I’m quiet… to MISS me and to actually DO something about it. Not just sit back and leave me on my own.

I’m not trying to manipulate people. I’m needing validation. I’m needing recognition as a person. I’m needing to see if I matter in anyone’s world.

Other times we withdraw to protect ourselves. If we’ve been badly hurt or betrayed by someone close to us, we shut down socially, so that nobody else can hurt us. We’re thrown as to who we can actually trust in the world, and believe the world is a nasty, scary place, and nobody has our backs. So it’s easier to cut ourselves off from everyone, since we can no longer trust our own judgement about people, to not see them as people who could hurt us.

And at other times we think it’s what other people want from us. We feel a burden. We feel like awful people. It’s our low self-esteem talking, and we think we’re doing others a favour is we shut the hell up and leave them alone. We think we deserve to be alone.

Sometimes though it is simply that the world is too busy and noisy, and we’re overwhelmed by emotions. And the depression and anxiety are too much, and drain us. So we need to take time to recharge our batteries. It’s nothing personal. We just need our space and some quiet time to rest, and prepare to face the world again.

 

Self-destructive Behaviours

BPD A5

 

This can be anything from self-harm, to drinking, taking drugs, gambling, sleeping around, reckless driving, binge-eating, excessive spending, to self-sabotage.

I’ve sabotaged my own friendships sometimes because of my illness. It makes no sense, but I feel if my own best friends think I’m worthless and abandon me, then it gives me an excuse to end my life. It’s something I do in my darkest times, and I regret it afterwards, and feel like I can’t come back from it. I feel like my friends would see a side of me they don’t like, and will honestly abandon me. And when I’m in a better headspace I don’t want that to happen. I can go from thinking my friends are lousy, to expressing that, to feeling like I’m the lousy one and I don’t deserve friends. That’s where I am right now.

I’ve never taken drugs and I don’t drink. I don’t sleep around at all. I don’t drive. I don’t gamble, although let me loose on the 2p slot machines and it’ll be hard to tear me away until I’ve won something!! I binge-eat when I’m emotional, and when I’m down or stressed I spend more money than I should in my situation. I try to control it though. And I self-harm.

These are all behaviours that are self-destructive. They undermine our spirit. Other self-destructive behaviours would be denying ourselves food and drink. Or denying ourselves sleep. Choosing to not give our bodies what they need to function, because we think we don’t deserve it, or we want to make ourselves suffer.

These things are often done to numb the pain we feel, or to cover it at least for a while. They don’t work though, not in the long-term, and they leave us in a worse position than we were to start with. But they are coping mechanisms, and we all have them.

If you see someone engaging in self-destructive behaviours try and recognise they need your love and support, not your judgement. They likely hate themselves and life. Why not give them a reason to love life a little more, and to see their own worth?

Some of these behaviours are compulsive though, so they’re not something we can simply stop doing. We will feel uncomfortable not doing them, and just sitting with our feelings. So we need support and reassurance throughout. Not to mention a lot of patience.

Being Clingy

BPD A6

 

I hate the word ‘clingy’ just as much as I hate the word ‘needy’. This is the language usually used by jerks, or more politely put ’emotionally unavailable men’ to describe a woman who has emotional needs that they cannot fulfil.

A lot of us ladies have been made to feel it is bad to show emotions, and not want to lose someone. We think it’s pathetic to chase after someone we care about, and to ask for what we need from them. It’s not. We’re not the pathetic ones. The pathetic ones are those we chase after who make us feel needy for making very basic requests of them.

For the purposes of explaining my point here, I will use the word ‘clingy’, but I do so reluctantly, as it has such negative connotations with it nowadays.

People with BPD are afraid of abandonment. We are afraid that people are going to get sick of us, discover something they don’t like, or get bored and leave us. We get attached to people, and feel emotions more intensely than others – so when we love someone we love them with ten times more intensity than ‘normal’ people. And the fear of losing them is even greater. So we are desperate to not lose them, and will beg and plead for them not to go. We will do anything to not lose them from our lives.

I have actually lowered my standards immensely and degraded myself to try and keep certain men in my life before, and feel extremely ashamed that I stooped to such levels. But I was afraid to lose those people from my life. I felt at the time, that I loved them. But now I have the wisdom to know that any man worth loving, will never make you beg, plead, and humiliate yourself just to be in their life. They won’t want to see you crawling on the floor after them. They won’t want to see you upset. They’ll want to lift you up, make you happy and be an equal to you.

Clinginess is actually a sign of love. Some people can’t cope with the idea of someone loving them. Clinginess is us not wanting to lose someone. People should be flattered, and if we belong in their lives it shouldn’t frighten them off.

For anyone who doesn’t like us being clingy – I guess this means you don’t like being loved and appreciated. It makes you uncomfortable. If you don’t want us being ‘clingy’ then simply reassure us you’re not going anywhere and we matter to you. This would calm our fears that you’re going to abandon us, and it’s all that’s needed. We’re not asking you to change who you are as a person, just to reassure us now and again. We shouldn’t have to change as people just because you can’t say a few loving words. If we’re afraid and insecure about losing you, why play on those insecurities and allow us to be afraid? We’re not ‘clingy’ because we want to be. We’re ‘clingy’ because you mean a lot to us, and we’ve had a lot of people betray and abandon us in the past, and we want just one person to prove not all people are the same… not all people will leave us. It’s a desperation to be proved wrong about people and the world. It’s a desperation to not be alone and to not be given one more reason to want to leave this life. It’s expressing our love to you. If you can’t handle the intensity of our love then perhaps you have issues of your own, you ought to work through.

 

Forgetting Things

BPD A7

 

Mental illness takes up a lot of mental energy. The tiredness mixed with the chaotic thoughts, can make us forgetful. It can be hard to concentrate. I sometimes get a sudden brain fog. I’ll be talking about something, and mid-sentence I’ll forget what I was going to say. I’ll walk into a room and forget why. I’ll forget an important date as I’m preoccupied with something else. At times I’ll appear to forget about my friends, but it’s because I’m trying to get through something difficult. I’ll forget the word for something. I don’t always feel very organised, and have almost forgotten a couple of appointments before.

We need people to be understanding and not joke about us having the memory of a goldfish. We usually have a lot of intense stuff going on in our minds, and sometimes our memory, particularly our short-term memory is going to suffer for it.

 

Getting Upset About Everything

BPD A8

 

I’ve been accused of ‘overreacting’ before. And of ‘letting things get to me’. Yes, things get to me that wouldn’t get to other people. So what? Not everyone is thick-skinned. Being thick-skinned to me signifies a lack of emotions. I’d rather be a thin-skinned human being, than a thick-skinned robot thanks!

Just because something isn’t a big deal to you, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be to me. You don’t know my story. You don’t know my triggers. There may be things that get to you, that don’t get to me – I wouldn’t invalidate your feelings though!

Sometimes it can seem we overreact to little things, but what most people don’t realise is that these ‘little things’ build up into bigger things, it’s just the world doesn’t see the build-up, as it happens internally.

Also remember we experience our emotions deeper than ‘normal’ people. If something upsets us we may seem more upset by it compared to someone who doesn’t have BPD, just because we experience more ‘extremes’ of emotion.

Sometimes people say we let things get to us, as a way of washing their hands of responsibility for the pain they cause us. It’s a way of not having to watch their words and actions, and turning the blame onto us instead. Never let someone say that you let things get to you, especially if that person IS the person ‘getting to you’… chances are they’re trying to deflect the blame, and don’t want to change their own behaviour. They want you to accept their manner and mistreatment rather than apologise for hurting you, and changing.

 

Bad Self-Care

BPD A9

 

This is anything from sleeping too much / too little, to eating too much / too little, to not getting dressed, washing, brushing your teeth, taking medications. This is something I don’t like to talk about too much, as I feel ashamed and like people would be disgusted with me and think I’m a dirty, smelly, lazy person. But sometimes, when your depression is at its worst, you don’t want to get out of bed. I have spent days in my pyjamas, not washing, not brushing my hair, heck, not even changing my underwear! That’s how debilitating depression can be. I’d lounge about in bed, no make-up on, or smudged from the day before, as I never washed my face. I’d have my glasses on. I’d not have my anti-depressants until 4pm as I was too depressed to get up and get them. I’d not eat all day. Or I’d scoff a whole big bag of Maltesers, whilst hating myself for being so fat. I’d not drink enough and then get headaches in the evening, and drink so much water at dinner time that I couldn’t eat much of my dinner. I’d take painkillers just to sleep better at night.

I still have occasions like this. But I NEVER talk about them. Nobody ever knows that sometimes this is my existence. Perhaps if they did, they might understand I really DO have depression. Because all they ever see is me with my contacts in, make-up on, teeth brushed, hair straightened, clothes on, clean, together, ‘happy’ mask on and making jokes and playing about, being friendly to people. How can anyone possibly believe my mental health problems if they never see it, and I never talk about it?

This is the reality of depression though, for many people. We pretend we’re better than we are… so then society can’t understand when we hit a limitation, or when we have a meltdown. They don’t see the signs. My closest family are the only ones who can tell if I’m in a bad patch. They’re the only ones who will ever see my real face. I hate this, as it makes it seem like I’m ‘two-faced’, but it’s not like that. It’s just being yourself at home, and being who society wants you to be, in public. They’re two very different personas. I feel people don’t like me already. If they saw the depressed me, no matter what they say, they would not want to be associated with me.

The thing with mental illness is everything is so much effort, and you get to thinking ‘what’s the point?’ … so you don’t bother putting clothes on, as you’ll only be changing back into your Pjs later on anyway. Why wash? You’re not seeing anyone. You’re not going out. It would require taking your Pjs off, and then you might as well get dressed. Too much effort. Why do your teeth? You’re not going to talk to anyone today, and you don’t plan on doing much smiling, the way you’re feeling… who cares what your breath smells like?? Why eat? Nothing tastes that good that it’s worth the effort of getting up and making it. And drink? That just means you’ll need to get up and pee – too much effort. Medication…? Does it really make a difference? Look, you’re already depressed, surely if they worked you wouldn’t be this depressed. So what if you’re late having it… couldn’t feel much worse right?? Going to sleep – what a waste of hours. The best part of the day is when it’s quiet and you’re on your own with no expectations. Better to stay up and think, and write. But at the same time, you’re wanting to sleep to block out the monotony of life. And then you can’t get up in the morning…. so what?? You’ve got no plans today. You’re not going out or doing anything with your time, why bother getting up?

I could go on. But you get the impression. Everything feels pointless when you’re depressed or mentally ill. And yes, doing these things would improve your self-esteem, but when you’re in a bad patch, it doesn’t matter, you can’t have thoughts like that. It’s hard to break out of. That’s why any little step, like brushing your hair should be celebrated. It’s a step towards recognising your importance as a person, and treating your body right.

 

Promiscuity

BPD A10

 

Now, I can’t comment on this at all! I’ve never been like this, being celibate and all!! The only experience I can bring to the table is in my head I’ve been promiscuous, in the sense of having crushes on people. I always wish to have the attention of somebody… very often they are men who are spoken for, which I’m ashamed to say. But the reality is I would never in a million years act on any of these crushes, as it’s not who I am as a person. I have morals, and I’m not like some of my old friends who would put their desires ahead of the feelings of another human being.

But this mental promiscuity is a desperation to be loved. It’s wanting someone to return the feelings and validate me as a person, and make me feel I’m not going to be alone forever. The only trouble is I never communicate my feelings to the guys, I keep them inside, quietly hoping I’ll sense a connection. But I can have feelings for one guy one minute, and switch targets the next. I’ve actually liked three or four people at the same time before – some involved, others not, but I’d act on NONE of them, because I have such little confidence in myself anyway, and don’t believe a single one of them would ever choose me in a million years.

This is how I imagine people feel who have BPD and are promiscuous… they’re searching for validation, and someone to return their feelings, and make them feel like they matter. Perhaps they sleep around to feel like they’re attractive, when they don’t feel like they are. Perhaps they do it to try and find a connection with someone, anyone. Perhaps they do it to punish themselves, or numb some sort of pain. I honestly can’t say from my own experience, and I find it hard to put myself in that position. But I do know the desperation to be wanted, loved and ‘normal’, like all my other friends. So I could understand how playing the field would increase one’s chances of finding that. Not all people who sleep around love themselves and their bodies. I can guess that much.

Weird / Unusual Triggers

BPD A11

 

People have all sorts of triggers for episodes and self-harm. In this moment I can’t think of any ‘unusual’ ones I experience. Seeing others’ wounds / scars, or everyday cuts (not self-inflicted), can set me off. It’s usually being shown up, let down, making mistakes and other social triggers that cause me to go off on one. Afraid I really can’t say much on this one, as I can’t think of any ‘weird’ triggers. But the fact is there is no such thing as a ‘weird’ trigger. Triggers are personal to us. If they mean something and set off a chain reaction of emotions then it is what it is. What may seem weird to one person may not to another. I’m sure for some people, being happy can be a trigger, as we’ve experienced happiness before and it’s usually closely followed by heartbreak, or we don’t think we deserve happiness. But a trigger is a trigger – it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. We own them.

 

Needing Validation

BPD A12

 

I’ve already touched on this in the Promiscuity bit… but it’s in more ways than sexually / romantically. We need validation as people. We need validation of our emotions. We’ve probably been invalidated too much in the past. Very often people minimise our experiences and feelings, and dismiss our fears. This can make us feel it is wrong to feel negatively about something. So we hide our emotions and then take them out on ourselves. What we need is people to say ‘I understand why you’re (angry, sad, scared etc), and I’d feel exactly the same way’ – no ‘buts’. Validate the experience, and validate our emotions. And don’t tell us we did the wrong thing in how we dealt with it. We’re doing the best we can with the skills we’ve got. Praise us for our efforts. Encourage us in our fight to survive and thrive. Tell us you admire how strong we are to deal with so much pain. Tell us we’re right to feel angry, betrayed, frustrated, and there’s nothing wrong with our emotional responses.

Validate us. We need to feel we are not bad people. We need to feel accepted. We need to feel our emotions are appropriate to the given situation, because for too long we’ve told ourselves it’s wrong to feel and wrong to show those feelings.

So please don’t dismiss us, minimise our situation, criticise our way of thinking. Support, encourage and reassure us we’re not insane, and we’re not bad people. It doesn’t take much to do. You just need to check yourself and make sure you’re not being dismissive. It’s an easy thing to fall into. You think you’re doing the right thing, telling someone ‘not to worry about it’ or to ‘calm down’…as you don’t want them to work themselves up over something, but sometimes fear and anger are appropriate emotions, and need to be felt and expressed. And telling us to calm down will have the opposite effect to what you intend. Encourage us to express our true emotions in a healthy way, and accept those emotions, whatever they are… even if they don’t make sense to you, we are feeling them, and calmly discussing with us, may make more sense of how we’re feeling, otherwise we’ll simply shut off and the emotions will intensify in our heads. We need to feel able to talk to you, and if you validate our feelings we’re more likely to be able to. Invalidate us, and you’ll be one more person we can’t trust and open up to. So don’t get upset when we no longer turn to you for advice and support.

 


 

Mental illness, particularly BPD is really misunderstood… as a whole and even when taken apart and examining each symptom. If people judge us by just one symptom, how can they ever feel compassion and understanding for our illness and for us as human beings? If people see us shutting down and isolating ourselves, and their reaction is ‘Fine, I’ll leave her on her own’, then they don’t understand mental illness. And if they don’t understand my mental illness they don’t understand me.

People need to educate themselves about mental health problems, particularly if they’ve been fortunate enough to not be touched by mental illness themselves. We only understand something once it happens to us. It’s true. But we can research in the meantime, especially if we want to connect with our friends and loved ones who are suffering.

There may be things you don’t understand about our behaviour…. maybe try asking nicely… learning… showing interest. Rather than judging and abandoning us for our uncontrollable mental illness. As BPD soldiers we already fear abandonment, but we’re aware our illness could make you abandon us… so it’s a vicious circle. Help us break that cycle and show us you’re not going anywhere. Accept our flaws. Accept our symptoms and aim to help us through them. Don’t stifle them. Don’t minimise them or make jokes about them. Don’t judge us for them. Not if you claim to care about us. If you care, you care through the good and the bad. And these are just some of the bad sides you’ll see of us. It doesn’t show the whole picture of who we are. I will be blogging about the positives soon. These are just some of the areas where people like me need understanding and unconditional love. I hope you found parts of this useful, please feel free to ask anything you don’t understand.

All the best xxxx

Making A Change.

Change

 

So this weekend just gone, I did something I’m really proud of… I changed. There was an event I had intended to go to, but having fallen out with someone I decided months ago, not to go. I had pulled out. I had chosen avoidance, as I had done in the past with my old group of friends. I missed out on a lot back then, which I still feel upset and bitter about to this day. It didn’t stop me reacting the same way in this situation though.

But then something funny happened. I stopped and thought, ‘Hang on, why should I miss out on something I was looking forward to, just because someone hurt me?’ … I had been the victim of someone else’s nastiness, but I was continuing to make myself the victim by choosing not to go. I was giving myself something else to be bitter about because the person had ‘made me miss out on it’. I suddenly realised how ridiculous that was. Nobody could make me miss out on it, if I didn’t want to.

I decided two weeks ago to do something different for once, and to face the horrible feelings… after all, I had done nothing wrong. I was the one who was wronged. So I had nothing to feel awkward about. It was the other person who should feel awkward, having upset me deeply. If I could show my strength, and their irrelevance to my life, and that they couldn’t stop me enjoying my life, then I could grow as a person.

I’ll tell you, it was the most challenging experience I’ve had lately. My anxiety was off the scale. But I wasn’t going to show it. I was there to enjoy the event and to meet new friends. My energy was to be purely focused on that – at least outwardly. No matter how sick with nerves I felt, I was going to be the adult…. the bigger person. Had this person tried to apologise to me, I’d have said that it wasn’t the time for it, as that’s not why I was there. As it happened there was no attempt at apologising. They hardly even looked at me, let alone spoke to me. Whether it was awkwardness or some warped idea that I was the one in the wrong, I don’t know. I don’t really care. Simple fact is I opted for growth.

I now know that if someone in a group of friends hurts me, I can hold my head up high, continue being the friendly person I am, and not let them get to me. I know it doesn’t have to completely destroy my self-esteem as it did. It doesn’t mean the others will hate me too. It doesn’t mean I miss out on my plans because of another person’s hurtful behaviour. It means I don’t become the victim twice.

I was anxious enough, going into a group as the ‘outsider’, but sitting with them all after the event, I began to feel included, and whilst my raging self-doubt, self-hatred and poor self-esteem kept telling me I’ll never fit in, be accepted or liked, I had fun and for a moment, felt a part of something special. It was nice. I met a group of people I’d be honoured to call friends. And that’s what mattered the most this weekend.

If you have BPD you’d know how hard friendships can be, and you’d know all about the thought processes I went through after being hurt…. about the decision not to go… the anxiety after deciding to go…. the self-doubt… all of it. So I really feel it was a big accomplishment for me…to face the fear and do it anyway! It’s not something I’d have done in the past, so I’m evolving. And it’s a nice feeling to do something different.

So I’d encourage you to every now and then, make a change. Try a different response, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. You’ll be proud of yourself for it. I know how hard change is with BPD… BPD is all about patterns of behaviour, and coping strategies. We’ve become so used to ‘reacting’ with episodes of anger. We’ve coped with self-harming. We push people away so as not to be abandoned by them. Very often all these things happen automatically, they’re so ingrained it’s instinctive. But every now and then you’ll get these moments where you can actually take a step back and look at a situation objectively and challenge your thoughts. If you find yourself in one of these moments, and you have the option to do as you’ve always done, or to try something different – choose different – it’s where improvement and growth comes from. As they always said in DBT ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. It’s true. If you want improvement in your life you have to make a change in your behaviour. That is the lesson I learnt this weekend.

 

Changea

 

Nobody will ever know the strength and courage it took for me to do what I did. But I do, and that’s why I can feel so proud of myself…. it builds self-esteem too. I feel like a better person for it, and have some wonderful new friends and memories to show for it. Some people thought I shouldn’t go – they were just looking out for me and wanted to protect me. Others agreed why should I miss out on it because of one person?! I didn’t know the best thing to do at the time, I just had to go with my gut. And as it turns out it was the right thing.

I conquered the fear, engaged fully in the moment and got through it. There were no problems, and I don’t have to see the person again for some time. And I know that if I do have to see them again, I can get through it, by focusing on what really matters, and remembering that I have nothing to feel bad about. I have a clear conscience. If I hold that in my heart and mind, I can continue my life as normal. Why should my life stop? Why should I be punished for being hurt by someone? Makes no sense! And that’s the growth I’m talking about – recognising when your thought processes make no logical sense! Sometimes with BPD we can be stuck in apparently childish behaviours, in the way we react to the world around us and our experiences. We’re not childish people, but the ways we’ve learnt to cope, I can openly admit are not always the most grown-up. I can say that without judging myself or putting myself down. It’s not something I can help. Everyone has their own coping mechanism. I have mine – avoidance, isolation, self-harm, self-pity… the list goes on. It all acts to protect myself from further harm, and to make myself suffer as others have made me suffer. The past me, would go with these nonsensical views that I deserve to be punished if someone has hurt me.

My thoughts would be if someone hurt me, it’s because I’m a bad person. I provoked it. And if one person doesn’t like me, neither does anyone else – hence the self-isolation, to prevent myself from being abandoned or hurt by more people. Whenever someone hurt me in the past, I’d cut myself, 1. To show the emotional wound they caused me, physically, and 2. To punish myself for being so worthless that someone could treat me how they did. The more adult thought is, “This person hurt me, I don’t understand why they did, but that’s their issue, and it doesn’t lower my worth as a person. I didn’t deserve it, and they’re the one in the wrong. Just because they don’t like me, it doesn’t mean nobody else does. They’ve hurt me enough with their words and actions, I don’t have to continue the hurt by allowing them to affect my life so much”.

 

Changeb

 

This has encouraged me to create something. Maybe a scrapbook, or blog post or something, with cheerleading phrases… these adult views that challenge our built-in responses to pain… because I know as much as I’m proud of this change in me, it doesn’t mean I won’t fall into old patterns again the next time. It takes time to make a permanent change. But every little step in the right direction is worth celebrating.

xxxx