Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pen to Paper...

Or ink to flesh, as the case may be.

Body modification. I appreciate all forms of it. It may not all be to my taste, but I understand the need for the expression.


I have 19-20 piercings (I have an industrial that is technically 2 pierce points but one bar).

3 tattoos (2 of which are very large).

And multitudes (read: an excess) of scars.  Especially towards my older years I’ve developed patterns to my cutting. Symmetry and numbers in groupings. I find my scars beautiful. I never hide them. A part of me and where I’ve been. The cause behind my need to do this may be ugly, but the effect conveyed as an expression of my victory over the cause, my survival, is beautiful. Harsh journey, but I’m still here to continue on it. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Back to the point. Going in for a tattoo consultation today! I’m very excited. I started drawing this almost a year ago but due to all the wackiness that is my world I haven’t been able to finish my concept or iterate it to the point of completion. I’m done now, and I want it on me. It is a highly symbolic piece (to me), representing the trials and tribulations, deaths and rebirths of my life. A reminder that no matter what, there is always the chance for something new, something different. No actual ink today. Just sitting down with the artist. This is going to be a very large piece so we’ll have to work on fitting it to my body (though I did draw it with this in mind), how, or if, various aspects can be done, etc. Of all my impulsive inclinations… tattoos are not one of them. Well, mostly. As soon as I have an idea for one I need I make the decision. My compulsions necessitate that I obsess over the details until it’s exactly what I want.

So today is the first step! (Again) I’m very excited =)


Update:

**Squee**!!! I am even more excited having talked to my artist! He sees no problems with my design. He’ll sit down with it in a couple days to refine it and then we’ll set up an appointment! So happy! I actually had those little nervous butterflies as I was sitting waiting to meet up with him. Good nervous. The kind that pump up your adrenaline just a little bit. Leaving the parlor I just keep going up. I have not been this up or this happy in a long, long time. So much energy. Went straight to the gym and had the best/longest run I’ve had in ages. Gah! I want to spin in circles I’m so stoked! ::bounce bounce:: I so love that adrenaline pop up. I feel so good right now =)


Friday, April 29, 2011

Quotes from Across the Borderline


"Borderlines can describe themselves for five hours without your getting a realistic picture of what they're like."
~Otto Friedmann Kernberg~


 “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Borderline Between What and What?


MRS KAYSEN: So what is this borderline business you mentioned on the phone?
SUSANNA: What borderline business?
MELVIN: See, the mind…
SUSANNA: Borderline what?
MELVIN: …is the…
SUSANNA: Borderline between what and what? Melvin!
MELVIN: It’s a condition, Susanna. And it’s called Borderline Personality Disorder.
MELVIN: It’s not uncommon. Especially among young women.
MRS KAYSEN: What causes it?
MELVIN: We’re, we’re really not sure.
Cut*.
The name "borderline" comes from a school of thought that was common in psychiatry in the 1930s. These patients were then thought to be midway, or borderline, between psychotic patients and those who were simply "neurotic," or had problems that could be easily helped by psychotherapy. In fact, the "borderline" patients at this time often seemed to get worse with psychotherapy. Many people would like the official name of the disorder to change to something that better reflects the actual difficulties people with it experience.
Borderline between neurotic and psychotic. Those are some disquieting diagnoses to fall between.
Don’t know why I haven’t posted this sooner. Oddly this explanation of borderline was surprisingly difficult to find when I first started looking for it. I wonder if that was intentional. It’s clearly where the stigma surrounding BPD originated.
You know what I think would be interesting. Uncovering how the treatments for Borderline have evolved throughout the decades. Dismissed, institutionalized, medicated, misdiagnosed… Curiouser and curiouser. Perhaps a post for a different day.



*I hate referencing Girl, Interrupted. It feels so cliché. However, I may write a Book Review because it’s actually more insightful than the movie.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy - 4




Monday was a good therapy session. Again, not one I got incredibly worked up over but productive none the less.
We talked about how my recent trip home to see my family affected me, how it triggered me.
My mom especially. My dad doesn’t seem to have an incredible interest in what’s going on with me. He really doesn’t engage me or start conversations with me unless I start talking first. I wonder if this is because my issues make him uncomfortable. Hm, I’m actually just realizing this as I type. My mom however starts talking to me the second I’m within sight and does not shut up. She automatically inspires the most irrational anger in me. I know this is a byproduct of my growing up and probably because she was so ‘interested’ in my life. Instead of talking to me, she’d search for my journals and read them.  I don’t trust her at all. She’d then talk to me about it, tell me of her disapproval (to be fair a lot of that disapproval was justified) and sometimes ground me for things that I did, instead of talking to me and helping me go about things in a better way. Act more appropriately. It cultivated my mistrust of her. That she takes such an interest in my life now still makes me very angry, because it feels intrusive to me even though I know she just cares. Trigger.
I was very closed off to them, to everyone. I refused to talk about my feelings, I refused to ask for help, I refused to get help. Since I was 12-ish for sure. Even before this though I was afraid that asking for help would mean I wasn’t good enough, would be a sign of weakness in my abilities. This is a direct result of how critical my father was. Anytime I did any kind of art he would ‘critique’ it. Not in a mean way. It was always directed as a means to help me ‘improve’, but I get overly happy when he does praise me and I need to keep inspiring this so I push myself harder.
This translates into how I am now. How I need to do things for other people that make them happy, that they’ll praise me for. It’s why, despite the fact that I can be mad at Friend, and really don’t like wife, I continue to cook for them because I know it’s something I’m good at and they’ll show their appreciation for it. This is especially necessary for me because my father was such a picky eater. He only likes a few select foods so when I would make new things that I liked and the rest of my family enjoyed he would either not try it or only try a little bit and let me know that he didn’t like it. I’ve always told myself this was simply because he didn’t like a variety of things, which he doesn’t, but he has never been encouraging. Even when I make new things when I visit he always comments on how ‘it stinks up the kitchen’. Those few times though, those few rare amazing times when he has liked what I made were my proudest moments. Since he was so critical, he never just placated me, I absolutely believed the compliments he would give.  Especially when I cook, when Friend or my other friends tell me they really enjoy what I make I am filled with an extraordinary sense of happiness that I am appreciated, while at the same time I don’t necessarily believe them. Amusingly the only one I really believe is Friends wife. I ask for criticism or how I can improve on some things (I cook meat dishes for people even though I’m strict vegetarian and have no idea what meat tastes like). She’s the only one that critiques me, though she is also very impressed with my abilities and has enjoyed everything I make for them, but she’s also one of the only people I believe. (She often tells people that ‘Haven makes vegetables taste like food’ or ‘Make whatever you want it's going to be good.) Heh, but that I seek criticism and that’s the only thing I truly believe is obviously a direct result of how my father raised me. Trigger.
We didn’t talk about my brother. That my sister is the only one in this world that I truly connect to makes her my strongest base. I was horrible to her. I took out a lot of my anger on her and she was afraid of me. Until one night I came home and saw that she had been cutting as a direct result of the pressure she felt from our father. My entire relationship with her changed that night. She was afraid to talk to them about how she felt. She was always the angel, I was the devil. As a result she felt overly pressured, incapable of doing things that would possibly make them mad. I fought with them constantly and ‘didn’t need their approval’. Clearly I rebelled against them, but they’d never abandoned me for all my horrible behavior so I was able to convince her to at least sit down and talk with them so they could understand that she needed something different. Which she was able to do. We bonded over  something so ingrained in us, understood each other on a different level than we had before and realized that we could lean on each other when we needed help. She’s my best friend in the world and I would do anything for her. I love her with everything I have. I mistrust my parents, even now.
I get incredibly anxious when my sister is late getting home. I need her to be there to feel grounded. Safe. To the extent that I don’t want to go back, be there at all, if she’s not there.
Therapist doesn’t seem to be worried about the fact that I needed to have a couple drinks to deal with the barrage of questions and interest in my life that the rest of my family inspires (holiday gathering at my relatives – all of my relatives, both sides of my family). I see my family so rarely that when I do it’s practically nonstop questions and explanations. Fortunately ( I think?) my mom’s side of the family isn’t very interested in me. I was always so rebellious, so different, that they never took an interest in me. I don’t think I talked to them at all except for my aunt telling me I looked really good and lost a lot of weight (she hasn’t seen me since I was on the Symbyax that made me gain weight).  That was nice. The rest of my family though is very interested in my new job and my mental state. I can only deal with so much. So much attention is overwhelming. So I have a couple drinks to calm down. I knew before I went over that I’d be drinking though. Therapist is much more worried about my bulimia. I’m usually very good at keeping this under control. Until the holiday gatherings start. I’ve never had trust issues with my dad’s side of the family. I actually think I connect to them better than my parents. I’m  really not sure what the exact trigger here is. My parents? My mom’s side of the family? The questions? My bulimia has always been a form of control for me, so I know it has to have something to do with feeling out of control. Why the rest of my family would make me feel so out of control is still a mystery to me currently.
Note:  Identifying those issues that trigger me is the first step in figuring out how to avoid them and control them in the future.
Emo moment
Then we talked about my Abandonment issues and why Friend going out made me so ‘unhappy’  (read: hurt, anxious, depressed, jealous, left out, unnecessary, afraid). The real problem here is that I do feel like if he has more people around he won’t need me as a friend anymore. That I won’t be so important to him. That he’ll reject and abandon our friendship. Therapist is beginning to worry that our friendship is holding me back. That he triggers my abandonment issues is not healthy. I cling to our friendship too strongly. I do forsake going out on my own to meet new people because if I do I won’t be able to spend more time with him. If I go out more our friendship won’t be as strong. He will find other people. I’ll be replaced. She wants him to tell me that he doesn’t want our friendship to end, that he won’t leave me, but he should encourage me to form new, healthy relationships outside of our friendship.  That {six} years down the line we’ll still be friends. I have no way of believing this though, because I’ve never had close proximity friendships that have lasted this long in (though I have had friendship that lasted much longer than this).  I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready to open myself up to anyone new yet. I’m tired of being hurt. I don’t think I can do that again right now. Therapist thinks I should though.
Homework: Stop being a hermit. Get out more, outside of going to Friends’. Cultivate new relationships.
Therapist also breached the topic of wanting family, what I thought motherly qualities should be. Not that I want to have kids, but what qualities do I believe a mother should have, and how would I display these. If, if, I were to have kids, how would I demonstrate these qualities, blah blah blah.
Point:  It’s a helpful exercise to understand where I think my family failed. How I wish they had done things differently with me. 
Finally she asked about what I’d been drawing lately. Mostly I’ve been drawing my next tattoo. She was a little concerned about this because it’s so large (will hit me under my breast, down my entire right side, and over my hip). She asked me if we needed to talk about it in further sessions. I told her ‘no’ I would get it regardless. She laughed at my ‘rebelliousness’.
Update on this Friend Abandonment issue; when I was over Monday out of nowhere he did say that I should pick up the activity and join them in the future. This made me too happy and my mood improved for the rest of the night. Then my paranoia kicked in that he’s reading my blog which would make me incredibly unhappy and probably (probably? Geezus) pissed off. Bleh. I want him to include me because he enjoys my company, not because he feels obligated to me. Then I remembered that he made this offer before I’d posted about it, so my paranoia is completely crazy and entirely composed in my own mind, but that still didn’t stop me from having a small anxiety attack.
So yeah, productive day in therapy. Long, long post. Again, sorry about the day switching for this.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'Holidays' with the Family...


I know today is supposed to be my Trials in Therapy day, but in order to understand what we talked about I need to give the background. I’ll either post my Lucid Analysis later today or do it tomorrow. Background first, therapy second.  Sorry for the change up =/

So this past weekend I got to fly home to visit my family. This is not my favorite thing ever. Not the seeing my family part; the catching a late flight Friday after work and an early flight Sunday to get back. This translates into a 1.25 day weekend that isn’t spent in airports and planes. I’m anxious about leaving NY because I feel {relatively} grounded here, and sad before I even get home because I know I’m just going to have to leave practically as soon as I get there.

We have matching tattoos

Saturday rolls around. My sister is ridiculous late getting home which makes me anxious. This is going to cause us to be late to the family gathering which makes me panic. I CAN NOT be late to things. Can not. I’ve managed to beat out most of my OCD tendencies but I can’t let go of my preoccupation with time and being on time (maybe I’ll talk about this later). She finally gets home and I’m elated. Of everyone in this world she is the only one I never detach from. She grounds me and stabilizes me. Which is kind of ironic because I’m BPD and she’s bipolar so between the two of us we have all the rollercoaster emotions. All of them. Her BF didn’t come up with her. That was a little disappointing since I’ve gotten used to seeing him for family things. Plus he’s just a good guy and ridiculous funny.
 We went to my family gathering where we immediately started drinking. This does help calm me down through the barrage of family questioning about the new job, how I’m dealing with my PD, how I’m doing in NY, etc. It’s really overwhelming to be bombarded with so much attention like that. Blessedly my sis and I were able to break away from the crowd for some much needed catching up.  I was doing really well all day with watching what I ate/drank. Dinner came and went. Even then I did very well. After that I got up to catch my breath for a bit and completely binged out of nowhere. I had no intentions of it, but I couldn’t stop myself so I didn’t. The inevitable purge followed. That was my only slip up though. Once during the whole day is good for me when it comes to family foodie gatherings. Meh. Wasn’t very social after this.
Plus Friend was texting me about his fun male bonding stuff which stupidly makes me very jealous and feeling left out. I’m depressed, sad, and angry that he can have a good time without me. Not to mention incredibly anxious that since he’s making guy friends he won’t need to be friends with me now. With other people to do stuff with he’ll abandon me and I’ll be alone again. What’s even more dumb is one of my other buddies that he went with actually invited me to do stuff with them next time. Instead of being grateful I feel guilty like I’d be intruding. Like he’s only asking me to come because I said it sounded like they had a lot of fun and that must have guilted him into it and not because he really wants me there. 
Sunday I was flat out horribly depressed. Leaving my sister. Spending 8 hours in airport/planes (had a connecting flight). This did not translate well when my first flight was more turbulent than any other flight I’ve ever been on. I was in tears and wanted to grab onto the guy sitting next to me (he was kinda cute).  I DO NOT want to die. This thought terrifies me. I am in the unfortunate position of knowing way too much about planes/jets/spacecraft. Ok, so I do know how safe aircraft are designed to be, and I do know just how much punishment they can take before an emergency happens. However, I also know all the workings inside and out and as a result know just how much can go wrong as well. Flat out panic attack. Fortunately I manage to keep quiet from a lifetime of suppressing my emotional manifestations. Got off the plane, headed straight to the bar. Where I met a few guys and drank way too much. This did help my passing out all through the 2nd flight.  Much more pleasant experience. An old buddy of mine picked me up at the airport where he managed to trigger me about some friends that messed me up and I ultimately did away with (which doesn’t make me feel less abandoned by them because what happened truly was not my fault but if they really cared about me they wouldn’t have done it). I came back to an empty apartment because Roommate was doing the Easter thing with her family. Fail. By then I was ravenously hungry, got take out and ate everything I could get my hands on. Which only worked to freak me out about how much I had just consumed and unsurprisingly I had to purge it all. ::sigh:: Not my best day ever.  Not my best weekend ever. Holidays with the family are always rough for me though.

I was going to make light of my holiday weekend bulimia but I realized this was self-defeating and my goal was to NOT do these things. I need to encourage myself to do better, not set myself up to fail. As far as this goes, I actually did pretty well {for me}. Next time maybe I’ll be able to do better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Get over it ~and~ Push Away-Pull Back: Controversy in Borderline Personality Disorder - Part 6


Previously I’ve talked about Controversy in Borderline Personality Disorder (starting here). I also said that I’d continue to update them as I stumbled upon more. Well, unsurprisingly I have found more so I’ll be adding to my previous blog series today. So, here are a couple more Controversies and Misconceptions about BPD:


Misconception: You can bring about recovery in a person with a Borderline Personality Disorder through your own actions.
Fact: Personality Disorders are Real Mental Illnesses - and they don't depend on what anyone else does, or doesn't do, said, or didn't say. You can't cure a personality disorder with love, anger, submission or ultimatums. That's like trying to hit a puppy by throwing a live bee at it (points if you know where that line is from).
Man, if only this were true. Let a friend or loved one know you have a mental issue, let them wave their hand around your head and Poof! no more personality disorder.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends and family sit down with me, give me advice or tell me to just get over it. Growing up my dad did the latter very often. He invalidated my feels, told me suck it up and get over it. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to be mean, but he clearly wasn’t helping me develop a healthy emotional state. Granted, if I wasn’t predisposed to having such emotionally charged response to things I may not have elicited these response from him so often. They did make me afraid to show my emotions though. Like when my grandmother died, instead of allowing myself to grieve naturally I locked myself away in my closet to cry instead of voicing my hurt. I needed to suck it up and be strong for my brother and sister. Instead of processing my emotions in a situation that actually was very appropriate to be upset, I repressed how I felt because I believed that showing these feelings was bad and wrong.
My parents love me. They love me a lot. Even today my mom continues to send me holistic articles on releasing negative emotions and gaining a calmer state of mind, as if reading an article will help cure me. I know her intentions are good and she just wants me to get better. It’s her way of showing she cares, but it’s almost completely useless and makes me feel guilty for not being able to be better for them.
The point is, no matter how much you care, how guilty you feel, how much you talk about and give advice to someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder, you can’t magically make it go away. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be there when they need you (please don’t abandon us), give your love and support, just understand that it’s not your fault if it isn’t cured.

Controversy: People with BPD can get better if they just try harder.
Fact: Although management of symptoms is possible through a combination of medications, therapy and personal work, they can't make the disorder disappear altogether. Personality disorders are mental illnesses based on neurological differences for which there is no known cure.
This goes right along with the previously mentioned myth. Sometimes I have doubts, sometimes I’m afraid to give up the familiar feelings, sometimes I fall to hopelessness, but I don’t think anyone really wants to deal with this. If we could get better by willing ourselves into a more normal state, of course we’d do it. Personality disorders are deeply ingrained disorders built up over a lifetime, biological dispositions, and/or a combination of both. They’re characterological, not a choice. They chose us, we didn’t choose them, and we can’t tell them to take a hike whenever we want. Hell, a huge, huge number of those with Borderline Personality Disorder are not diagnosed, will never be diagnosed, and have no idea what they are going through even has a name because they don’t have the help and support they need. How do you fix something that is so much a part of you when you don’t even know there is something to work on. Even when you do, it may take years of therapy and medicinal help and encouragement to learn better coping mechanisms to deal and heal wit BPD. It is not easy to change a lifetime of living in turmoil. I’m trying. I’m trying really damn hard. I think I’m seeing progress, but I have a long ways to go.

Controversy: People with BPD are basically just selfish.
Fact: Personality Disorders have been shown in some studies to be rooted in neurological differences in the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other. This isn't suggesting that people with PDs shouldn't be held accountable for their own behaviors - they absolutely should. But it would also be a mistake to regard people who suffer from PDs simply as mentally healthy people who are being selfish.
This one is tricky. Everyone is selfish. Everyone. Even those people that are seemingly altruistic derive a sense of well being from helping others that brings about a feeling that they are doing good. That feeling is for that person. People don’t generally do things that make them feel bad just because someone else needs something. That said, it’s not bad to be selfish, it’s just a byproduct of being human. So yes, someone with BPD can be selfish, but this isn’t our basic nature.
Someone with BPD though, can be very needy. Extremely needy. We often need validation that are feelings are real, that someone loves us, won’t leave us and therefore a lot of attention to ‘prove’ this. We covet this and don’t want to lose it. This isn’t something we set out to do though. We don’t wake up in the morning and say, “Gee, I think I want to monopolize someone else’s mental state, attention, and resources. Selfish powers activate!” Maybe some do, but there are plenty of ‘normal’ people that do this (maybe not the ‘selfish powers activate’ part). It’s not just a product of Borderline Personality Disorder. For the most part I think it’s a fear response. Fear that we will be left, that we aren’t worthy of being loved, that people are lying and trying to use us… an endless list of other things. We need reassurance and it takes a lot of energy to show us that. Unfortunately it’s a part of our nature to need this, feel smothered by it, push it away, fear the loss of it, frantically try to retrieve it, and repeat the cycle endlessly, for as long as someone will let us. So it does appear that we are acting mostly on our own behalf. This doesn’t negate the fact that we do care about the people in our lives, this doesn’t change the fact that we love the people in our lives and want to take care of those around us. That we do have so much to give. We just need to be shown this in return to a degree that many don’t require.

I do want to stress accountability. We are responsible for our own actions. Just because we feel incredibly out of control does not mean it's ok to Act Out. I know it's very, very difficult to reign this in sometimes, but we do need to try. Otherwise it just ends up hurting the people around us and acts to push them away.  
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