Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

 

Yesterday was stress beyond reason; read to quit my job, quit engineering, become a librarian, or a personal trainer, open a yoga studio, ANYTHING, that was not the pressure I have at work.  I looked into certification programs and e-mail department heads about enrollment. I couldn’t see the point of continuing on. Everything I’ve done until now, pointless, useless, futile. My LIFE is pointless. Not worth living or having if I can’t do this {one} thing right. I grabbed at options, ideas. Even as I did so I realized just how much is required to achieve those and I know just how I’ll be able to do it all but it all seems to big, too overwhelming. I see all the obstacles, I have no sense of time…I can see how long it will take, but the dread and anxiety of not having it achieved, the uncertainty, is paralyzing. I don’t have it done now so it feels futile. Like I’ll never get there before I even begin. Fortunately I’m not so out of control that I quit things on the spot.
I can’t say I’m not still thinking about finding a new profession, but I’m less stressed out today.
Let’s go back shall we. The focus of yesterday’s therapy session was my anxiety attacking about work. I am the newest engineer on my team. Everyone else has been here for years. I hired in a couple years after the project began. Everyone knows more about this project than I do. I feel incredibly behind in my knowledge. I’m afraid that I won’t measure up to the demands that are required of me because I don’t know everything already. I’m afraid this will reflect poorly on my ability and on my intelligence… because somehow I have not jacked in and assimilated all prior knowledge generated on this project. This fear paralyzes me. I can’t move forward. I’m mired down in the belief that I’ll never be good enough because everyone else will always know more, have accumulated more, knowledge. I don’t have the history of collection to be of a standard proficiency for what I perceive is my position.  
Once I’m stuck, I beat myself down harder into the muck. I’m afraid to even open drawings and my design programs for fear that I will look at it and have no idea what is required of me. Like suddenly everything will have changed and become completely foreign; every e-mail will be a judgment or termination.
I want to flee from the potential failure into something I won’t be so open to criticism with.
Therapist brought me around to things I might enjoy doing. Her immediate suggestion was to pursue costume design. Find a theater company and hire on to create costuming. I immediately slammed my foot down on this. I’m not a professional seamstress. I’ve never had schooling for fashion. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to live in the city.
Why didn’t I go to culinary school… b/c I’d have to do this, and it would make me hate that, and I wouldn’t have the freedom to do what I really love about cooking in the first place,…  
Stop.
I mire myself in all the details. Bombard myself with the ‘why nots’.  I see the end before anything has a chance to even begin. I psych myself out of ever beginning. If I don’t start, I can’t fail. Can’t let anyone down.
Therapist asks who I’m afraid I’ll let down if I don’t succeed? If I were to choose a different career?
Myself. My father. My friends.
Everyone jokes around about my genius; they introduce me to new people as Haven the rocket scientist, etc etc. I hate it. It just feels like more pressure to be something I don’t believe I’ve earned. Don’t believe I’ve earned <~~~ is a problem all of it’s own. I have multiple engineering degrees, was the sole female graduate in my Master’s program… and yet, I still don’t believe what I do is good enough. More specifically it’s my father. I’ve mentioned before how critical my father is, even though he was not actually discouraging. He never said anything like ‘you suck, you can’t do that, you’re not good enough”. It was always, everything I did could be better. Nothing was ever perfect, or just good on it’s own, or good enough. It was “that’s good, but here’s what you can do now, or should do next, or how it can be improved, how it can be better”… how you can be better. I don’t believe I’m good enough at anything. Everything about me is flawed. As a result everything I do is somehow deficient. I enter into everything believing that I won’t be able to do it good enough, that I won’t be good enough.
Trigger. Therapist made a point of recognizing that this is something that triggers me severely. Specifically my Unrelenting Standards schema.
Unrelenting Standards Schema: The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hyper-criticalness toward oneself and others.  Must involve significant impairment in:  pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
Unrelenting standards typically present as:  (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one's own performance is relative to the norm;  (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.

When I’m met with any kind of criticism or something I perceive as criticism I freeze. I set my standards so high, put so much pressure on myself, that when anyone presents me with any though/critique/opinion in opposition or enhancement to what I’ve done, it feels like an attack on the rigid standard I’ve set for myself. I destroy myself, debase my accomplishments, and my immediate response is “I’ll never be good enough, I should quit now before everyone sees how incompetent I am.” When in reality this is not true. My Punitive Parent kicks in and I mentally and emotionally punish myself.
Punitive Parent - The Punitive Parent schema mode is identified by beliefs of a patient that they should be harshly punished perhaps due to feeling "defective", or making a simple mistake. They may feel that they should be punished for even existing when "punitive parent" takes over the psyche. Sadness, anger, impatience, and judgmental natures come out in "punitive parent" and are directed to the patient and from the patient. Even a small and solvable issue or unrealistic perfectionist expectations and "black and white thinking" all bring forth the "punitive parent." The "punitive parent" has great difficulty in forgiving oneself even under average circumstances in which anyone could fall short of their standards. The "Punitive Parent" does not wish to allow for human error or imperfection, thus punishment is what this mode seeks and what it desires.

Lesson: Recognize triggers!
I was ready to quit my job, sink to devastation about disappointing everyone in my life, lose hope and hold on my life completely. Recognizing the things that trigger me is so crucial in order to gain control of them. In recognizing them I can work to prevent their reoccurrence. Even when I can’t prevent them entirely I can work to form strategies for dealing with them. Therapist wants me to make sure I don’t let the Punitive Parent reign. I need to take a step back and remind myself of all the things I have accomplished, that I am good at, that I am skilled with. I’m the only one that sets my limits. In second guessing myself, berating myself… I, I, am the one that holds me back and keeps me down. No one else believes these things of me. Hell, most everyone else probably has a clearer picture and better appreciation of my skills than I do. They don’t limit me. They aren’t keeping me down. I am.
Homework: Work on silencing the inner punitive voice that constantly demeans me. Counter the self-doubts with positive affirmations. This! This, is not a quick process. This is in fact, one of the major overarching goals of therapy for BPD. It’s good to know your goals though =)

...but beautiful.

For the record. This morning I kicked myself in the ass. Opened up my software and had the first analysis model done within an hour. The second I will have completed by the end of the day. I have no one else to remind me that I’m competent. No, I don’t know everything. It is impossible for me to know everything. In fact, no one expects me to know everything. Not even everything about all the things I’m assisting in. I put this pressure on myself. Life is a learning process.
Note: Sleep on it. I was much more rational in the morning.

And as a more pleasant aside. Went on a date with my new Lady Friend last Saturday. She bought me a book – a mix of Sci-Fi, humor, and Eastern Wisdom. I’m seeing her again this weekend =) It was a really, really nice night. I was all butterflies and nervous. The hostess thought we were the most adorable things ever.
I’m seeing Psychiatrist next Tuesday =P

5 comments:

  1. I always learn everytime I come to your blog. I had no idea that those were actual things with names and you could change them. I am referring to the punitive parent and unrelenting standards schema.

    Slowly I am realizing how essentially important it is to understand all of the "quirks" of PD and bipolar. It is impossible to fix something when you don't know it exists. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. I know it isn't easy, but you help me so much.

    So glad you had a good time!!! You deserve to smile!!

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  2. Holy crap.... I feel SO so so much better today too. Being nuts is just fucking crazy. Hah. Punitive parent, angry child, abandoned child, the multitudes of Schemas... I'll eventually get into all of it. There's so much there that's truly enlightening.

    Back to GI Joe saving the day, haha, knowing is half the battle! ::laughs::

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  3. I'm glad you survived the feeding frenzy of the schemas. Lol! You make me feel almost human!

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  4. Oh the schemas. The thing about being a beeper... in some way shape or form I fit almost all of them. Yeesh.

    =D

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  5. Holy crap, I relate to this in so many levels.

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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