Friday, May 20, 2011

Life, Death, Rebirth and Renewal… Tattoo


I got my new tattoo this past Saturday. I got to the shop around 1p, left around 7p. Total time spent working on the outline was 4.5-5 hours. Keep in mind this is only the outline. It will be fully colored but the outline needs to heal first, and I will most likely have to do 2 more sittings of similar duration to complete the color. A lot of the color will be freehanded so there is no outline for that. The depth and shading, the fire aspects, none of which can be seen now, though hopefully you can see where this is going.  It did not hurt at all. Currently it itches like mad. I always forget what the healing stage is like.  I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this post public as I feel like I’m basically naked on the internet. I also can’t take a picture of my back so you can use your imagination to fill in the rest of the wing going up my back.



Tattoo:
This is a Skeletal Phoenix. It is a marriage of two concepts that have been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember; the Phoenix and Death. What they represent to me is something I need to keep with me. I tend to lose my ability to hold onto things, people, concepts… and this is something I need to never forget. I need to constantly remind myself so that I do not fall to hopelessness with I am prone to. Talk about a need for some permanence.  
Every year, or two, or three, my life starts over. I crash, or burn, or both and I have to pick up and begin anew. Each time a little different than the time before, but it keeps going.
Phoenix - Phoenix imagery is just that: renewal and rebirth from the ashes of the past. I can never fully forget my past, but I can learn from it; leaving the char behind me and hopefully heal into a better place than I had been before.
Death - I’ve also been constructing my own Tarot deck. Meditating and drawing each card. While working on my Major Arcana, I got to my Death card and {a variant of} this image came to me immediately. I sketched the basic idea the minute I thought of it and knew I had to have this as a permanent reminder for myself.
If you’ve ever studied the Tarot you will know that Death, is not representative of physical death. Interpretations vary slightly by deck but some of the meanings include:
Ending of a cycle – Loss – Conclusion – Sadness – Transition into a new state – Psychological transformation – Finishing up – Regeneration – Elimination of old patterns – Being caught in the inescapable – Good byes – Deep change.
Typically it implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness. An opening of new opportunities from the ending of those previous. When one region in your life empties, there opens a space to allow something new to replace it.
The banner the Firebird holds says ‘ Bรกs ’ which is Gaelic for ‘Death’.
The Death card is generally depicted as skeletal so the combination of this imagery along with the phoenix inspired this idea of a skeletal phoenix.
In my struggles with my BPD, my life, becoming who I will become, the nature of life in general; it is strikingly obvious to me why all of these things are a part of me.  This is a card of change. Transition. In the death of one thing springs the potential life of something else. Endings are not only endings, but also beginnings. Endings bring change. In change there is hope. With hope there is the possibility for a better life. A life worth living.
So here you go.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy

I missed therapy last week because I was in Chicago. The brakes on my car went out so I missed therapy this Monday too, but my therapist was too concerned to let me go a whole other week and squeezed me in late last night.

I’ve been a serious mess. I missed my psychiatrist appointment some time ago b/c they didn’t call to remind me like they always do. I haven’t rescheduled. I don’t know if I want to go back. I decided I wasn’t going to take the Respirdal. Having not rescheduled my Pdoc appointment I’m almost out of my Lamictal, which I’m fine with. I’m weaning myself off. For the last few months I’ve been having really bad night sweats (gross, I know), and for the last two months I haven’t had my period (no, I’m not pregnant). I’ll go back eventually I’m sure.  The thought of going back is making me really anxious and I don’t want to. I have been massively depressed the last few days but idk if this is because I’m coming off my meds or because the last week or two is just catching up to me and I’ve been exhausted. Anyways.

One of the first things my therapist said to me when I sat down was, “Wow, have you lost weight? You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight”.  She didn’t really know me before I put on all the weight from the Symbyax so she doesn’t recognize this as being closer to my normal weight. However, my periodic bulimia has also become not so periodic. I’ve been binging, or just purging what I perceive as having eaten too much… almost every night for the last week. My weight loss has not actually been in any way dramatic in the last week though, so it’s probably a combination of that and my steady, healthier, weight loss.  Last night was the first night I was really able to monitor myself and I didn’t throw up.  She’s especially concerned because this is clearly an indicator of underlying emotional issues. I’ve been bored and lonely and I feel like I can’t fill up the time alone in my head. Food is there,  it’s something to do, it keeps me busy, it’s comforting and satisfying, it fills me up physically… until it isn’t, and I realize I’ve gone too far and I’ll be paying for it in the morning. Then there’s the release, and I feel calm, and more in control. Release. Calm. Control. This is not the right way to go about finding these things.

She thinks a lot of my underlying issues still revolve around Friend and how I’m trying to maintain one aspect of our relationship (our friendship) while repressing and shutting down the feelings that came with the physical/emotional aspect of it. She thinks this conflict is causing me a lot of distress. I think I’m sick of all of it. I’m lonely. I’m very, very lonely.  I need to accept the fact that Friend can not be the kind of friend I am used to and want to have. Accept this on all levels, not just the part where I obviously know this cognitively. I’m afraid to lose my friend, that I’ll lose one of the very few strong connections I have. A connection that I already feel is falling away from me. I can’t reconcile wanting to be friends with him and wanting to not be affected by him. I just want to enjoy the friendship and interests we have in common, but another part of my brain is yelling about how hurt it still is and won’t let me let go of it so I can just relax back into the comfortable space we used to share. It feels like a physical clashing inside my head. I’m lonely. I’m alone. I have no control over this feeling or this state.

From Myself towards Friend I want: To be free of the emotional baggage, have my friendship, and not feel used by everything that went on.

For Myself I want: Someone that I enjoy spending time with, that cares about me, and can be the kind of person that I need to have in my life.

Two separate things, of two separate sources.

Speaking of… I have a date Saturday =) I’m so out of the loop on this whole dating thing. I am really looking forward to it though. We seem to have a lot in common and she really does seem to be a warm, caring, positive person. One day at a time concerning her, but she’s someone to look forward to. If nothing else, a new friendship is healthy.

My therapist is hopeful. That I’m trying is even more important though. It’s so easy to stay locked in the same ruts and routines, regardless of how unhealthy they’ve become. It’s hard for me to pull myself away from something so familiar. I fall into those patterns because they’re predictable, they don’t change, I know what is coming next … even when it inevitably isn’t exactly what it was the time before. I have no way of predicting things I haven’t done before.

I don’t even know how to explain the anxiety that comes with the unexpected. What I’ve had before might not be good but it’s not surprising, there’s some line connecting the dots of the past, present, and future. I can’t predict everything, but I have some semblance of where my feet will fall. Pulling myself away from that familiarity… could lead down a path of wonderful adventures, but it’s all an unknown. What if it doesn’t work out and then I can’t find my way back? If I stop my patterns from before, I won’t be able to pick up where I left off. My connection will have slipped and I’ll be foreign there too.

What irritates me is I’m not a timid person. I’m not shy. I don’t let others lead me by the hand. I don’t balk at beginning new projects or endeavors… except when it comes to people. I’m still holding on to those last shredded threads of what had been this relationship. I don’t know how to let go and not lose all of it forever. I don’t know how to leave behind what something was and let it evolve into what it will be. It’s a leap of faith I need to take in myself.

All I can do is try.
           
She wanted to give me a journaling assignment and I could see her wanting to come up with something revolving around my bulimia but she decided against it. Instead:

Homework: Journal. Think about the therapeutic relationship I have with my therapist, whether I feel the space is safe, I feel she understands me, respects my boundaries, etc.

The things that immediately come to mind:

1.)    I still don’t feel a connection to my therapist. Clearly I know and recognize her, but I don’t have any real attachment to her. I doubt this is her fault.

2.) I don’t think she sees me for me at all. However, I also think this is because my view of myself is so distorted. I’m not sure I actually see me for me.  I’m a depressed, terrible, flawed person. I know all of my faults and imperfections. I see them all clearly. She tells me that I’m a role model for how well I treat those around me, for all that I’ve accomplished, that I’m capable of doing etc. What she sees in me, I don’t see in me. Is this her failing or mine? Probably mine.  She chooses to focus on the positive. I almost exclusively see the negative. I feel like she’s ignoring the negative because she wants to see the positive, but I’m beginning to wonder if she’s really just trying to get me to see myself in a more rounded way. She obviously works with me on the imperfect parts of my life. She’s not ignoring that. Maybe she just doesn’t have as hard a time remembering the other aspects of my life that I don’t seem to be able to hold onto.

3.) I’m not sure I have boundaries. If she doesn’t push my boundaries how am I going to uncover what I need to figure out about myself? If anyone should be able to pull me out of my comfort zone and confront the aspects of myself that I don’t want to face, it should be her. Right?

Those are my thoughts for today. I’m a little out of it. Distinctly depersonalizing more often, again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bordering on Sociopathy?



A reader from another blogged asked me a question that roused my curiosity: Are people with BPD always sociopaths, never sociopaths, or some of each?”

 
My immediate response was never. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that someone with BPD is sociopathic. Though clearly we’re grouped together in the spectrum of Personality Disorders. Sociopathy is classified under Anti-Social Personality Disorder which is Axis II, Cluster B along with Borderline Personality Disorder.

There are reasons as to why we are grouped alongside one another.

So, after a few seconds contemplation my response changed from ‘never’ to; there are some shared characteristics, but still no.

Dictionary Definition of a Sociopath: “Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, acting without empathy, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others”. I’m not even going to bother explaining how inadequate of a definition this is for describing sociopathy. It’s the same thing as grabbing a two sentence definition of Borderline. Let’s run with this though shall we…

A case could be made that BPD has sociopathic traits: Our behavior is extremely abnormal, we have a skewed sense of empathy, we act with regards to our immediate needs without concern for how it will affect others (most notably with Low Functioning BPD; High Functioning BPD we may want to act this way but we can often restrain the impulse), we’re impulsive, manipulative, etc.

But seriously, welcome to the world of personality disorders. There’s bound to be some overlap between a great deal of these traits. While both disorders may display many common traits, our motivations, intentions, reactions, perceptions, and presentations are very different. For someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder we are often moved to do the things we do out of a need for attention, sympathy, closeness, reassurance… while the sociopath is not going to have these things as their driving force.

Where the sociopath will have a very limited sense of empathy and low emotive threshold, the borderline is almost the complete opposite. We have a heightened sense of emotional response. Responding to things too quickly in a way that is out of proportion to the situation that has provoked the response.
This reader also had questions regarding our potential penchant for sadism (masochism), and being able to empathize or take pleasure in the injury and suffering of others. I don’t believe this is generally the case. Personally, unless it’s someone I care for, I rarely feel anything for strangers and therefore have a neutral, uninterested view of such things. I may not be interested in their suffering but I don’t’ relish in it either. Now, if it’s someone I’ve split into an all Bad category because of how they’ve treated me poorly in the past; I may take a certain amount of satisfaction in their pain. I’m willing to bet that this crosses the line to how many normally empathic people feel though. No one’s perfect, and most people have some small vindictive streak.

Not happy to go off of my own guesses and assessments I tried to find something already written about this. I found a LoveFraud article (don’t get me started on her bullshit) but as it was submitted by a private psychotherapist names Steve Becker I gave it a read. The title of the article is: The Borderline Personality as Transient Sociopath.

 “It is not unusual in my clinical experience to see, sometimes, some quite chilling sociopathic activity from my “borderline personality-disordered” clients. When someone has a “borderline personality,” it’s quite likely, among other things, that he or she will present with a history of emotional instability; a pattern of chaotic interpersonal relationships; and poor coping skills under stress, reflected in self-destructive/ destructive acting-out and a tendency to suicidal behaving.”

Quite likely, huh? I’m fair certain by definition we are likely, nay expected, to present with a history of emotional instability. Of all the criteria we may present with, this is the one overarching issue we share in common. How do you diagnose someone with BPD without this?

“A question I’ve found myself considering is: When the borderline personality is acting, and looking, like a sociopath, is it the case that he or she, in these states, effectively is a sociopath?

It should be noted that behaviors per se are never sociopathic, only the individuals perpetrating them. Sociopathy is a mentality from which antisocial, exploitative behaviors gestate and emanate with a destructive, historical chronicity. But one can infer the presence of the sociopathic mentality from a telling pattern of behaviors.

Clearly there are fundamental differences between borderline personalities and sociopaths, differences which I appreciate. At the same time, when the borderline personality’s rage or desperation is evoked, one sees (and not rarely) responses that can closely correspond to the sociopath’s calculating, destructive mentality.”

I’m not saying I can’t be calculating and destructive, but this combination doesn’t take over in the moment of provocation. Destructive, quite likely. Calculating comes when the storm has subsided and I can think clearly. I also won’t say this is all borderlines. We are obviously all different, but I’m not immune to barbing and hurting those that I care about. I talked about Alienation the other day and this certainly comes into play there. It’s one of the things I know beyond most others that I’m trying to stop.

“Once inside this mentality, I’m suggesting that borderline personality-disordered individuals can lapse into a kind oftransient sociopathy. Commonly, victims of the “borderline’s” aberrant, vicious behaviors will sometimes react along the lines of, “What is wrong with you? Are you some freaking psychopath?” They will say this from the experience of someone who really has just been exploited as if by a psychopath.”

Just because someone doesn’t understand the reaction someone with BPD has, does not mean we’re actually psychopaths. Especially considering the base motivator is emotive and therefore not anything resembling the emotionless drive of a psychopath. Also, just because some person mentions the world psychopath, does not make for an actual diagnosis.   

“Because this isn’t the borderline personality’s default mentality (it is the sociopath’s), several psychological phenomena must occur, I think, to enable his temporary descent into sociopathy. He or she must regress in some way; dissociate in some fashion; and experience a form of self-fragmentation, for instance in response to a perceived threat—say, of abandonment.”

Our ‘vicious’ aberrant behavior is not someone with BPDs default mentality. I do agree with this. For the entire stigma and the accusation that a borderline is labeled with, our bouts of anger, impulsive lashing out and frenetic behavior are rare compared to our day to day state. However, that these things do occur is a hallmark of our disorder. This is part of what classifies us as Borderline. I’m willing to bet that most Sociopaths aren’t on the constant prowl to manipulate and victimize everyone around them. Day to day they probably just live their lives. The make up our personalities are predisposed to acting the way we do and those actions are what define our different disorders. That there is cross over does not mean that we slip into the mental state of the other. It is becoming increasingly more clear to me that this guy knows practically nothing about Borderline Personality Disorder and is simply trying to fit a square peg into a Sociopath shaped hole.

Several psychological phenomena must occur… if these are really the criteria that define slipping into a transient sociopathic state, than I might as well embrace the title. I live a good majority of my life in this comorbid ‘regression’; dissociation, unstable sense of identity, fear of abandonment… how do these characterize sociopathy?

“These preconditions, I suggest, seed the borderline personality’s collapse into the primitive, altered states of self that can explain, among other phenomena, his or her chilling (and necessary) suspension of empathy. This gross suspension of empathy supports his or her “evening the score” against the “victimizer” with the sociopath’s remorseless sense of entitlement.”

Now this does peak my interest. I do relate to these periods of suspended empathy. This is a product of my dissociation and detachment though. When I’m feeling like this, or more accurately not feeling like anything, ‘evening the score’ is not on my mind, because in not feeling anything for myself or for anyone else, I can’t care. I may not empathize; not feel for someone else; not care about what they’re going through… but I also don’t feel for myself, and I certainly am not thinking to plot some revenge. I can see where this ill formed train of thought may come from though. As is especially the case in Low Functioning BPD, when something triggers a borderline and they do rage, and lash out, unable to control their emotional state, they will focus that hurt and aggression on those they love. I don’t think this is due to a lack of empathy though. No, they’re not thinking about the other person’s needs or well-being, this is true, but it’s not for lack of wanting to. Their own emotions are so heightened and out of control that they can’t see beyond their own scope. I’m not saying it can never happen, but the detachment of empathy and the lashing out against the victimizer are often separate feeling states, not maliciously aligned.

In my states of detached emotion and lack of empathy, my mind may roam to places that I don’t care what happens to another person/people, but at the same time, since I am not clouded by emotional responses I am at my most rational and don’t think to act on my lack of empathy. My motivation to lash out is void because the emotional drive is absent. However, my responses to people may be more callous, less guarded. This is almost always how I think though. It’s not some transient state I’ve slipped into, but a removal of the veil I no longer care to hold up. Normally, instead of acting out on my impulsive thoughts, I hold them in. Where someone more low functioning would act out and then need to apologize profusely to regain the favor of those around them, I generally manage to tame my temper outwardly. It’s my understanding of social interaction that stays my responses so I don’t alienate the people I desperately need in my life. This doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t always there, but my awareness of my actions guides my behavior.

This article is just one more way of demonizing someone with Borderline Personality Disorder under the guise of gleaning a better understanding of what BPD is. Personality disorders are demonized enough; do we really need the mutant hybrid versions too?  

In conclusion, do I think someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is Sociopathic? No. I do not.

Do I think this psychotherapist is an idiot? Yes, yes I do.

There’s a lot of bullshit out there about all the PDs. It’s no wonder people are so quick to judge. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quotes from the Borderline




"I call a lie: wanting not to see something one does see, wanting not to see something as one sees it... The most common lie is the lie one tells to oneself; lying to others is relatively the exception."

     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~

Monday, May 16, 2011

How could you? – Blaming -

What did I do? How could you do this to me?

If he had done this, if she hadn’t said that, if they’d only listened, if I wasn’t misunderstood… this never would have happened.

-Blaming- Blaming is the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

I didn’t just make this up, there IS a reason I feel this way. For someone with Borderline Personsality Disorder feelings are always caused by external events. Thay have no control over their emotions or the things they do in reaction to them.

“Those with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to blame others for their problems and how they feel. Borderlines as a means of protecting themselves from the unrecognized and/or unconscious pain of the core wound of abandonment project their thoughts and feelings onto others. This makes everything seem to the borderline as if what is coming from or being done by him or her is actually coming from or being said or done by the loved one - the non-borderline.”

This is something I hate to admit to. I do take responsibility for my own actions. I acknowledge my faults, my involvement outwardly. I really do try to understand where someone else is coming from and that they have needs to. Sometimes I even succeed.

Somewhere, somehow, in the back of my mind that insidious voice taunts me. Plants those seeds of doubt and deception about everyone in my world. They don’t really care, if they did they wouldn’t have done this to you. They would know what you need and not withhold it from you, wouldn’t have allowed you to do what you did, dangled something you wanted so bad in from of your half shut eyes, within reach of just running your fingers over your salvation to happiness. It’s their fault for allowing it to happen. They should have known better. Known how it would affect me. Yet, they did it anyways.

I know, it’s not a one way street. All actions are only capable of entering into my lonely little world by my choice to open that door. Some part of it is mine. Some part of me knows that he was the one that did this to me. I let her in, but what she did is the thing that set me off. I can’t see that the way I react, the way I understand what has happened, isn’t what it seems to someone else.

I want what I want so badly I blind myself to what is capable of being given. I don’t understand that no one can give me that perfect gift I’ve built up in my mind. Some small thing, some big thing, some lack of that thing, any variation, brings my wish to ruins… and if they really understood me they would have known what to do. This is not my fault. It’s yours.

I know I bring these things on myself. I know my hopes are so high that no one can reach that mountain peak. The more someone tries, the further my heart is pushed. Setting myself up for a sharp fall. Pushed from reaching the pinnacle that promises happiness. Pushed by you. Not my own feet that slipped from underneath me.

I want you to be perfect. I want you to be perfect for me. It’s your fault when you’re not. It can’t be that I see some myth of human capability beyond the manifestation of anyone short of a superhero. A machine programmed to cater to every machination my mind moves me to.

It's not your fault.
It’s not your fault though. Of course everyone messes up. People are people afterall. Sometimes things are your fault. But things are my fault too. I do know this, I promise I do. That hurt is not reasonable. In the moment all that exists is the need for something we don’t have.  As time elapses and you don’t realize what you’ve done, in those moments we sit and stew and our thoughts swirl and collide until it’s become something so grand in its offense that we’re convinced you did this to us on purpose. You knew what you were doing and you did it anyways. Of course you probably didn’t.

I’m repeating these thoughts, because that’s what we do. Repeat these thoughts until they’ve been so blown out of proportion that we can’t see our own involvement. What we need to do… is talk. I’m ashamed of these things. Ashamed that I want so much from someone that I can’t provide for myself. That I’ve allowed someone to affect me so. And because I do recognize that these things aren’t rational, or I’m terrified that you’ll be even more mad at me because clearly you didn’t understand me enough to care, that you won’t want to listen. So I hold it in, until it takes over, shaking the fizz and pop, burst from the bottle in a fit of frustration.

Fear. Irrational fear that you want to hurt me. That you’ll leave me. That you’re showing that you want to abandon me. This is my fear; that I can’t help but see in you. Project onto you.

Then in complete contradiction to these feelings, we blame ourselves too. We know that if we were better, if we could be more, than you wouldn’t have said what you said or done what you did. It’s our fault for not being what you need. If only we were perfect… If we can’t be good enough for you, why would you stay.  What’s to keep you from leaving?

Talk. Please encourage us to talk. It’s so hard to believe we won’t make you madder. It’s essential to diffuse the situation before we’ve had a chance to let the lightning strike and bring the monster to life.

I try to write things down. I know I need to let you know.  I can’t bring myself to say what hurts me until I’m so worked up that I can no longer contain it.

For as much as I know that these actions set against me are mostly in my mind, it FEELS like the world is out to get me and there’s no one that cares enough to protect me from the storm. Even though I resent anyone that tries to take care of me.

“People with Borderline Personality Disorder blame others because they do not know who they themselves are because they lack a stable sense of self or any authentic connection to the lost authentic self that leaves each person with BPD in an often desperate search for his or her identity. People with BPD lose the authentic self to the arrested emotional development caused by abandonment. They live and relate to others through a defensive borderline false self that is at the heart of so much of the turmoil in what develops as a blame game.”
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