Saturday, May 14, 2011

Art, ink, and anxiety...


I am extremely excitedly. I am intensely anxious.

Not my tattoo
Tattoo appointment is at 1’clock today. Tattoo artist sent me the last few changes yesterday. I absolutely love everything about it now. I feel so horribly guilty that I’ve had him rework things a few times (the original drawing plus 2 alterations). When I went in I was afraid he was going to tell me he couldn’t do it. Then, he said he could no problems and I was elated. I really liked the concept he came up with but some things were off. My stomach was in knots to sit down with him again to ask for some changes. Having seen the differences between the two I could see the perfect combination and told him my thoughts. I was absolutely terrified to do this. I was positive that he’d tell me I was too much of a pain in the ass, too difficult, too SOMETHING, and no longer want to work with me. Tell me to f- myself and take a hike.

Everyone keeps reassuring me that for a piece this big it’s not unusual to do a few alterations. It is a permanent piece; it needs to be what I want it to be.

He’s really a brilliant artist though and I’m afraid I’m insulting him and he’s not going to like me because I didn’t trust his judgment.

I’m freaking out about whether I should be doing this at all, but I think that’s just the pre-appt jitters. I get that for a lot of things because I have time to over think, over analyze, ruminate, let my mind run away with me, go over how things would be nice and normal without the change, but then again how neat this is going to look after. The anticipation before is ALWAYS worse than actually having it done. I’ve wanted this for almost a year now. I keep reminding myself of that. I’m nervous, but I’m over thinking. I need to calm down my brain. Find something to occupy my time, and go.

I’m also very worried about how I’m going to exercise after this.  I know I’ll have to take a few days off from pretty much any non basic movement. I can’t have fabric rubbing on this while it heals. Which means my daily 1.5 hr workouts are not really an option for a while. My body image and fear of putting on weight aside… Exercise, intense exercise, has so far proven to be the best thing for controlling my anxiety and depression.  I’m worried about how taking time off will affect me.

I go on vacation for 8 or 9 days ever year where I don’t have gym access, but I’m walking all day, taking dance classes and performing at night, so it’s not like I’m sedentary. I went to see my parents over Easter and didn’t work out for 4 days. Those 4 days were the longest I’ve gone, in probably 6 years, without some kind of directed activity. Seriously. I sprained my neck a couple years back and in complete opposition to doctors orders I was back in the gym 2 days later. One day off I can justify. Two days I can get by with minimal guilt. Three days I’m hitting the anxiety point. Four days and I’m ready to crawl the walls. I actually feel nauseous and sick if I can’t keep to a regular exercise schedule. My anxiety takes over.  I’ve tried to think of ways to counter this. I know an incredible amount of upper/lower body lifting, abs, pilates etc. that I can do in a manner that won’t inhibit healing, so I’ll be able to keep up with my toning. I don’t know what to do about cardio yet. Ugh.

And finally, it’s Friend’s 10th year anniversary BBQ/Party thing today. I’m fighting with myself on whether I should make an appearance. He wants me there, he’s said as much, that he’ll be sad and miss me if I’m not there. I’m worried this will throw up a bigger wall between us if I don’t go. I flat out told him I didn’t care to see the gift he was thinking about for the wife. Whenever one of them brings up the party I’ve quieted and/or redirected the conversation. I haven’t flat out said I don’t want to be there, but I’m sure Friend has picked up on it by this point. At first I said it would depend on my moods, which is true. Now that I have my tattoo appointment I’ve told him it’s going to depend on how much I’m hurting.

Colliding thoughts:

He missed my birthday, he’s fallen through on a couple things that he said he would do and I really needed him to do. I haven’t. So far I’ve always been there to help and support him when he’s needed it. Maybe it’s time he realized what that feels like. 

If I go I’ll be able to say that despite the hurt I was a good friend and was there when he wanted me to be.  Is this petty? You couldn’t even do these things you said you’d do, but I can be the better friend and continue to do what you want. For the record, from the start I’ve told him it was unlikely that I would be there. Unlike him, I’ve never said, yes I’ll do this, and then not done it. I may be a lot of things, but I keep my word.

He knows I don’t really want to be there, he’s guilting me because he wants me there regardless.

He wants me there. He is my best friend and I do care. Because I care I don’t want him to be upset.

I’m afraid that if I don’t go he’ll be really mad at me. Instead of avoiding awkward feeling s by not going, it will compound them because it’ll be obvious that things still bother me. Driving a deeper rift into our friendship.  

I constantly acquiesce to what other people (that I care about) want instead of doing what is best for me.

I know mentally this is not going to be good for me. I still harbor a lot of resentment for how they treated me. In most situations it’s fine, but it’s going to be pretty much the focal point today.

I’m angry that I still have this resentment.

I honestly do not give a shit about their anniversary. If I go and pretend to be happy for them it will be a lie. I shift between angry and indifferent. Nothing else.

This tattoo is about starting over. Death. Deaths of the past, change, and from those deaths something new arising.  I want to close this part of my life and move on. Maybe this is a good time to start. Go to the thing, and let go.

Remember the woman I mentioned a week or two back? We’ve been texting everyday and we have a date this upcoming week =)
This shit needs to be put behind me.   It’s time to finish moving on. 

Also, not my tattoo

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pulling Punches - Baiting and Picking Fights

--  Baiting and Picking Fights – “Baiting is the practice of generating a provocative action or statement for the purpose of obtaining an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another person.”
This is what I associate with Pushing away and Pulling back. That back and forth feeling of being suffocated, needing to escape being hurt, fearing the loss, and desperately trying to get that person back, often by apologizing profusely and doing everything we can to be perfect for them again. Repeat.
That’s the resulting cycle anyways.
It starts with something small. Gradually growing into something else.  Baiting and Picking Fights is HOW this cycle is fed.
I know I have a very caustic tongue. I’m not physically violent towards anyone, but I know how to wound your pride, your ego, and your heart. It’s not necessarily a big explosion, though eventually it may get there. It’s small steps, little barbs. Small hurts, followed by tearful apologies about how we’re such bad people... For me the fear that’s generated turns my stomach and flips my heart. The person hurt is really wonderful, we don’t deserve them, we’re so sorry that we would even think to say such things, act that way. The thing you need to keep in mind is, we absolutely feel this way, at least I do. I don’t set out with this in mind. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Gee, today seem s like a good day to fight with so-and-so to see if he/she’ll leave me.’ It just happens. It happens gradually as we get closer to someone. And it’s always with someone we’re close to. The fear of being hurt by staying, coupled with the fear of being abandoned by leaving. I’ve never figured out how to find a way past this. I don’t mean to be this way, and I can see myself doing these things, which is why I know I’m such a terrible person when I do it. I try to make up for it, but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it again when something sets me off. It’s generally not out of the blue though it may seem that way to the other person. I know for me, I’ll be triggered by something, read more into something than was there, feel like I’m losing myself to them and need to get myself back.  I’ll bite back quick and hard and there’s really no thinking about what comes out next. Over the years I have learned to temper a lot of these reactions. I’ve learned to hold back, not be so quick to lash out. However this has the effect of allowing me to internalize the hurt I feel, bottle it up, ruminate on the things I want to say from it… it gives me time to tailor a harsher response when something bigger does set me off. I’m trying to fix this too. I’m trying to write down the responses I want to scream out. Release my anger onto paper. Come back to it. Find a better response, a calmer response, and then come back to it for discussion when I feel like I’m more in control.
There’s something else though. An element of, if the other person will allow me to push, stay with me through the hurtful things I do, it ‘proves’ that they won’t abandon me.  The more we can push away, the more baits and barbs we can throw, the more fights we can pick, the longer they show that they’ll tolerate it or try to work it out with us, the more we can believe that they mean what they say and aren’t trying to deceive us … If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong. Either way we’ll know something for sure, and it stops (momentarily) the constant second guessing going on in our heads. Believing someone, trusting someone… I know I’ve been hurt so badly that I can never fully do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I just have to test the fences to be sure.

My World is Your World - Alienation

In my research I stumbled upon a site called Out of the Fog that lists an incredible amount of Traits and Characteristics associated with BPD. I thought I’d take a look at a number of characteristics they mention that I have not yet covered, link back to ones I have covered, and expound on ones that I can add more to. I’m going to make this a new blog series because as anyone suffering or knowing someone suffering from BPD knows, the traits expressed with a Borderline Personality Disorder are multiple and varied. So let’s begin shall we.
 You don't need them. Only me.
-- Alienation – “Alienation means interfering or cutting a person off from relationships with others. This can  be done by manipulating the attitudes and behaviors of the victim or of the people with whom they come in contact. The victim's relationships with others may be sabotaged through verbal pressure, threats, diversions, distortion campaigns and systems of rewards and punishments.”
I hate that they use the word victim. It sounds like we choose to feel and/or act a certain way and need to be malicious purposely.  
This is something I’ve had done to me as opposed to doing to others. Having had this experience probably contributes to why I try not to do it to someone else.
At least I try not to alienate people from others. That doesn’t mean I WANT someone to have other relationships with people. I do get a lot of anxiety at the thought of friends making new friends, of going out and doing things without me. I’ll put myself in positions I don’t want to be in because I am afraid that they’ll forget about me.  It makes me very afraid that I’ll be replaced, that I won’t be needed, that I will eventually be pushed aside in favor of someone new. I have managed to find a way to express this in ways that I can be reassured that it won’t happen. I am now able to talk through these things so that others know how I’m feeling and why I’m so anxious without acting out. It allows them the chance to understand me and reassure me that it won’t happen. I can’t promise that I don’t need this more often than most people, I do. Talking through it doesn’t make those feelings go away, doesn’t prevent them in the future, but it makes it more bearable.
I understand where this comes from. That fear of being left behind. This fear is so intense that someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder will act to keep another person as close to them as possible. They might say things; do things, which make the other person doubt themselves. Doubt that they are good enough, talented enough to be appreciated by someone else. YOU’RE the only one that can truly appreciate them. So they’ll need you more.
Another thing is planting seeds of doubt. Making the other person consider the possibility that a new person, old relationship, is tainted, that their motives are not in their best interest, they’re out for themselves, not for their friend, selfish, are waiting to take advantage of the person.  If they think their ‘friends’ aren’t trustworthy, you’ll be the only one that they can come to. Rely on.
Threats can come along the lines of leaving, self-harm, even threats of suicide. Pulling their attention away from somewhere else because you NEED them to be there. If they’re not there, something really terrible is going to happen, either to your relationship or to you.  Leaving, even for a short time causes someone with BPD to feel that crushing weight of anxiety rising up into her throat, choking the breath from her lungs.  We have to make them understand and the only way to really show how devastating this feels is to show them in a way that is too extreme. Effectively keeping them from doing whatever it was they were going to be doing. Cutting off their ability to go out and leave you alone. It is completely out of proportion. For any person without BPD it’s normal to go out with friends, have other healthy relationships that thrive in a way different than with their significant other.  
Inevitably {if they really care} they will give attention/act in a way that is what we want/need However it maybe be extreme enough that it makes us feel guilty or ashamed or angry. Forbid anyone else should find out about it, ask us about it. We wouldn’t blow up at them though. No, we’d downplay the whole thing. Make it appear as if the person we cried to for help was exaggerating, blowing things out of proportion, discredit them to the people around them. Make them look like they’re crazy, not us. Or try. This could easily come back and bite us in the ass when the other person decides to convey this to the other person.
Growing up I was told that people would get bored with me and leave. ‘Yeah things’ll go great, til he/she gets bored with you. Enjoy it while it lasts’.  Thanks, daddy. That’s always in the back of my mind. Maybe all of this is some convoluted way of keeping things interesting. It’s definitely a way to try to make someone stay, even for a minute more.
However, one way or another, this is going to fail.  Regardless of how we cling to the attention any way we can this really only works to sabotage the very thing we’re trying to keep. If someone is only focused on us, the attention we need will suffocate them, scare them, put so much pressure on them that the weight of it makes them crumble. Either the other persons needs will be remembered, or we’ll freak out at being the center of someone’s world, feel suffocated and push back….

*** I should note that this is not always how I feel or always how I act. I’m trying to paint a picture of how someone with BPD may act/react/feel mingled with my own reactions and gatherings. For instance, with Boring-ex I couldn’t have cared less what he did. I knew I was his primary and had so little interest in him that it was almost a relief when he would go out without me. On the other hand, Evil-ex would alienate me from the few people I formed friendships with, punish me or incite my insecurities if I did, make me too afraid to go out for fear that he’d leave… made me rely on him which made it all the more painful when he didn’t think to include me and left me alone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Manifestations of Borderline Personality Disorder

Snowflake,  you're not the only one.

We are not all alike. We are not the same. Just like everyone else.

When someone is initially introduced to Borderline Personality Disorder it’s easy to think that all Borderlines are the same, especially with such common stigmas surrounding the disorder. Anger, hostility, self-harm, empty, low self-esteem, lunar laser based world destructo-beam contruction, etc… they’re all thought to be commonly shared.  According to the DSM-IV and the checklist that clinicians will use to diagnose you with, it’s very easy to assume that there are a limited number of combinations and therefore a limited number of ways to view BPD. Thus resulting in a general conclusion that all BPD sufferers are the same type of people. What you don’t hear about are the differences. Every person is different and therefore has a different combination of symptoms. Even if you inevitably have the same sets of symptom as someone else (there’s only a limited set of 9 criteria listed in the DSM); how they present in you, affects you, consumes you, are probably very different from the next person. Except for the lunar laser based world destructo-bream construction part. I mean, who doesn't want that?
I found a blog break down by another person whose life was affected by BPD. It’s not from a scientific article, it does not have any accredited backing, it was not written by a mental health professional. However, I found it an interesting assessment. It captures another perspective on how you can view various presentations of BPD.
 It’s broken down into 5 manifestations of Borderline Personality Disorder.
§  Low Functioning Borderline - The “Low Functioning” borderline is what most people think of when they are first introduced to the condition. Low functioning BPDs are a living train wreck. They have intense difficulties taking care of their basic needs, are constantly experiencing mood swings. They also have an extremely hard time managing any sort of relationship with another human being. Low Functioning BPDs are often hospitalized more than other BPD types, for the very reason that they can’t live productively without constant coaching and supervision. These patients are challenging for all but the most experienced psychiatrists. Unless otherwise treated, low functioning borderlines lead self-destructive lives and attempt to manipulate those around them with desperate acts, including self-harm (cutting, etc.).
§  High Functioning Borderline- The High Functioning Borderline Personality shares many core aspects of the low functioning borderline personality, except for the fact that they can manage their lives, appear to be productive, and generally keep their relationships civil (even diplomatic in nature). High Functioning borderlines can appear to be normal, driven people one moment; then moody, inconsolable, and manipulative the next. Somehow, there is a mechanism within the minds of High Functioning Borderlines that allows them to lead somewhat “competent” lives, despite the fact that they are in a constant battle with BPD. High functioning BPDs are no better than low functioning: it’s basically the same face wearing a different mask.
§  Extroverted Borderline- Anyone familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality tests will understand the psychological differences between extroversion and introversion. When these characteristics are mixed with BPD, there are two different results. The Extroverted Borderline pushes all their feelings, fears, manipulation, rage, and moodiness outward to the people around them. In essence, if you are around an extroverted BPD, you feel like you’re living through their emotions while coping with your own at the same time. Further, extroverted BPDs will attempt self abusive acts in plain view of others in order to avoid abandonment or to express their rage. For example, an Extroverted BPD might cut themselves and then immediately share it with family and friends around them, hoping to gain sympathy or attention. In most cases, these types of behaviors frighten non-Borderlines, and they wonder whether or not the Extroverted BPD should be committed to a psych ward.
§  Introverted Borderline- Contrary to popular belief, “introverted” doesn’t necessarily describe someone who is a recluse (agoraphobic). Instead, introversion is characterized by experiencing life in a self-reflective, private, and at times distant manner. To others, introverts may appear shy or lacking in people skills. This might be true, however, introverts make up for their lack of social skills with rich inner lives, thoughts, and deep thinking. As a result, the introverted Borderline primarily focuses all their BPD emotions and reactions inward. Instead of having a rage episode in public, they might retreat to their rooms and cry for hours on end, perhaps even cutting themselves for their own amusement or as stress relief. Introverted Borderlines live in an odd world: on one hand, they spend most of their time in personal thought and reflection, looking to fill themselves with a viable sense of self; but on the other, they are conflicted by emptiness and the bottomless emotional pit that BPD produces. Introverted BPDs might be harder to “spot” unless you happen to know one personally, in which case you might notice occasional depressive symptoms and evidence of self harm.
§  Transparent Borderline- The Transparent Borderline is a bit of a mix between a high functioning borderline and either extroverted or introverted tendencies. In plain terms, Transparent Borderlines live double lives: on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different. As a result, they may or may not be high functioning due to this conflicted state of mind. Transparent Borderlines spend most of their emotional energy trying to balance the personality demands of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the both of which experience strong BPD emotions like anyone else with the disease. Like Introverted Borderlines, Transparent Borderlines are harder to spot, and often only confess their true disposition after a harrowing rage, major break up, or other severely traumatic event that brings all their BPD feelings to the fore.

I’ve talked about High-Functioning vs. Low-Functioning Borderlines before. This takes it just a step further.
While I was reading through these I mentally noted that I seemed to fit both High-Functioning and Introverted.  While I was younger I definitely would have fit Extroverted more, but as I’ve grown older I am much more the picture of the Introvert.  When I got to Transparent Borderline I was amused by the opening line talking of being a mix of these.
As I was mentioning yesterday about not being able to maintain my mask, this statement really caught me:  “on the surface, “in public”, they appear one way, but in private, amongst immediate family and friends, they appear completely different.” I’ve talked about unstable sense of identity before and it still rings so true for me. I do realize that I appear to be different people in different situations. To the point where people don’t feel like they know me at all. I can maintain one identity, or another, but when I try to mingle them it becomes too much for me. I don’t have the energy for it because it does feel like I’m trying to be two people at once. I need one role to play.
No one would point to me and assume I have a Borderline Personality Disorder at first glance. Not until they’ve managed to get through my wards and break down my walls. Then it becomes increasingly obvious. I’m trying something different with a new buddy of mine.  I’m letting him know, quickly, how I tend to react to certain situations. I can’t actually let down the walls and let it be seen, but I can acknowledge this and give voice to my behaviors. I’ve not stated directly that I’m BPD, but I’ve alluded to the notion that I have a PD and given obvious clues as to which it would be. I think saying “Hi, I’m Borderline, RUN!” would skew my assessment of the whole thing. Thus far it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. This may be either his blindness in favor of my more redeeming qualities (I do have them, I swear), his wanting to jump into my pants, or a typical male trait of hearing what he wants to hear (sorry guys! I know you’re not all like this!).  
Whichever manifestation of Borderline you or a loved one falls into, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re all devastating to us and those close to us. We shouldn't all be treated the same.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shadow of my Self

Losing control of my mask.

It was a weekend. A long, long weekend. I’m including Monday in this too, even though I was technically working. I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.

Friday I hung out with Friend. I don’t know why I was there. Usually I feel some connection. I was alone in that room. Watching movies, geeking out, I couldn’t contribute. He kept talking, I wish he wouldn’t, I couldn’t think. I had nothing to say. I found myself mindlessly agreeing with him. About nothing particularly important, but I no longer had anything to say to him. He doesn’t even feel familiar to me.

No one does. Monday, waiting for my plane I texted all the friends I should feel close to. Nothing. Empty. Hollow tubes connecting where solid ties should exist. I don’t know what to do.

Saturday I knew it would be a bad day. As soon as I got home from Friends the night before I knew I was alone. Utterly. I slept as much as I could. Forcing my sleeping drugs down my throat to not feel. Saved by an unlikely source, my tattoo artist called me and I hung out at the shop going over his design. It’s not right, not yet. I’m obsessing over it. Figuring out how to make it more my own. I’ll sit down with him again this week, but I need to do it before Saturday when I’m having it done. I’m dreaming about it, how it can go wrong. How I’ll settle to not upset him since he put so much work into it already. But this needs to be about me, not just his talent. I will live with this and I can’t let someone else   I can’t. I have to remember this. Too often I let others have too much leeway. This is one area I cannot compromise. I’ll take this for me, because it is for me.

Sunday, I hung out with another guy I’m becoming friends with. I don’t know how to discourage him from liking me in a way that is more than I can offer, more than I care to offer. I don’t want to lead him on. I’m suspicious this is the only reason he’s around. I’m unable to not question his motives. I don’t know if I’m paranoid or perceptive. Got home that night and I finally gave in. Alone in my apartment I drank, ate, binged, purged. The last thought before going to bed should not be, this is how bulimia is supposed to be.

Monday I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.  Me and a colleague, networking with others in my industry.

I couldn’t maintain my mask. People talk about masks occasionally. That image you present to the outside world to cover up what hides inside. The shroud thrown over your true Self to blend in with the crowd. Masking the madness within. It didn’t crumble completely. The weight of being someone I’m not for so long at one time, for someone that knows nothing of me other than the professionalism I present. There was no walking away. No slipping out to slough off the pressure pulling me down.

I work alone, occasionally mingling with coworkers. I can take a break when I need to drop the façade with no one monitoring me. During the day, meeting other professionals in my field, I held up. I held up for a long time. Too long. Usually I can walk away, take some time to release the pressure building up from crushing down my core. No opportunity this day. Not even a minute for me.

Walking the Ring I felt myself floating away. My mind reeling in that depersonalized spiral. My surroundings surreal. Watching the wall of electronics and machinery I floated two feet to my right. Hovering heady and light. I felt too tall; disembodied.  I’ve become so used to my dissociated emotions, but I have generally felt grounded. My body my own. Not this time.
Next, visiting a manufacturer, touring the machine shop my vision blurred. I viewed everything through a foggy lens that wouldn’t rub from my glasses. I love machine shops, the noise, the smell, the rush of productivity… too much, too much for me that day. I couldn’t focus my thoughts; I couldn’t tune my attention to what was being told to me.  I relied too much on my colleague to keep up the conversation. Interjecting only when I knew I needed to.

By the time we got back to the airport I could no longer project the professionalism. Not an emotional crumble, but too personal. Talk of school, spending my time alone, geekery, movies, forgetting to watch my pronouns, I felt like I was lying when I mentioned past boyfriends knowing that this was not my preference; knowing I did this only to redirect attention from a part of me I’ve embraced. I’m not used to repressing parts of me that I am believe in. Hiding in a closet has never been my way; however I never spend time socially with colleagues making it easy for me to never mention it. Professional is not personal, and my personal has no place in my professional. My identities don’t bleed together. There is no seamless transition. There is one, or there is the other. I tried to toe this line, but even talking about subjects that were safer I felt myself hunching over my beer, staring into the amber liquid looking for a way out. I played to my exhaustion, and his. It’s all I could think to do.

Coming into work this morning I feel well rested. I feel utterly out of place. This is not my environment. It’s wrong. Clothes that don’t fit, an office that is not me, air I can’t breathe. I no longer have a choice. I picked my path and now I have to see it through, but something broke. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces; glue them back together. The cracks in my armor are apparent to me and everyone will see that my façade is a fraud. I’m sure of it. I’m living someone else’s life.

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