Saturday, July 9, 2011

Please, Allow me to Introduce Myself (Again)

Hello, I’m Haven.

As you’ve probably already guessed by joining me here, I struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. This blog is the documentation of my struggle, my self-awareness, the information I gather and the understanding I hope to provide. My world is, different. It’s a challenge. To most people that know me, not only do I appear to live a double life, but it feels like I live 3 or 4; shifting depending on the situation and how my very volatile moods may swing. An angel and a devil (without the funny Christian connotations), I am both, often at the same time; one big ball of tumbled craze, rage, and ecstasy.  

I have struggled with this disorder and the co-morbid symptoms and signs I display for most of my life. Finally, finally, I have chosen to seek help to stop the hurting, internally and externally. Sometimes my thoughts are calculated and cool, others they whirl and race, I hope that what time you spend with me will be informative and inspirational. The symbol of my journey I have imprinted on my body. As mentioned over at My Own Private Idaho ( thank you for  the lovely write up I very much appreciate it!) you can read about the very real dedication I have come to embrace in my life which I represent in permanent ink. Like my journey, it is a work in progress. I am not what you call conventional, by any means.

Nothing by halves.  Take the world by the throat and wring all the life out of it you can. You only get the one. 

Welcome. Thank you for joining me. 

Tweets Beyond the Borderline

This morning I woke up hours ago at approximately 3:35a.m.

Currently the sun is beginning to rise. The bird are beginning to chirp. The chickens are beginning to do their mechanical clucking thing.

Yes, chickens. No, I don't live on a farm. My landlords are just a little, eccentric. Personally, I'm grateful we don't have roosters.

In my insomniac delirium I decided it would be a wondrous idea to create a Twitter account. Why is this odd you may inquire? I am morally opposed to Twitter. Ok, maybe morally opposed is a little strong, but I've always found it rather pointless. However, as I sit here in my underwear pajamas, it strikes me that Twitter would be a fabulous way to monitor my moods. What better way to demonstrate the emotional volatility of my ever changing brain spaces than in short irregular bursts of verbiage?!?

So here's the experiment.

Will I:
a.) Get bored of this idea very quickly and forget about it.
b.) Become so obsessed I forgot to function.

Either way it will be a delightful adventure into my conscious. I know I'm intrigued.

Follow me, shall you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Be Assertive, not Passive-Aggressive

I did a lot of reading on recognizing and working through passive aggressive behavior and found many good resources in general (not just for the personality disordered).

“Individuals with PAPD experience an undercurrent of perpetual inner turmoil and anxiety. They appear unable to manage their moods, thoughts, and desires internally which results in emotional instability. They suffer a range of intense and conflicting emotions that surge quickly to the surface due to weak controls and lack of self-discipline. They have few unconscious processes they can employ to manage their feelings which emerge into behavior unconcealed, untransformed, and unmoderated. Without self-management skills, PAPD affect tends to be expressed in a pure and direct form, no matter what the consequences (Millon, 1981, p. 256).”

People act in Passive-Aggressive ways because they fear abandonment and rejection. They are afraid that if they express their dissatisfaction, than the other person will take offense, and leave. Or get angry. Or lash back. It all boils down to fear.

Fear is something that we all share. However it is not something that should rule our lives or our actions.

Sharing a common understanding of the origins of this behavior can provide a basis for understanding one another. When we look at it from this perspective, that we share something in common, we can begin to work through these issues together.

How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If others are being passive aggressive with me I can:
* point out the behavior that indicates passive aggressiveness on their part.
* point out the inconsistency between their words and actions.
* pay attention to their actions rather than their words, then give them feedback as to what their actions tell me about their feelings.
* ask for their true feelings reassuring them that there are no right or wrong feelings, and that it is OK to share negative feelings.
* ask them what has them so intimidated that they fear sharing their feelings with me.
* reassure them that we can reach a "win-win'' solution in our communication if we are willing to compromise.
* defuse the competition in our relationship. It doesn't matter "what'' we are discussing as long as we respect how each of us "feels'' about what we are discussing.
* remain open to any negative feelings they have and let them know this.
* begin to trust what they "do'' rather than what they "say'' and let them know that I am doing this.
* make myself more accessible to them.

First you need to find the causes of passive aggression. Passive aggressive behavior is usually based upon fear, resentment or flat-out anger. In order to manage passive aggressive behavior, these feelings and emotions need to be identified and addressed.

Talk it Out. In many cases, passive aggression is not the result of a personality disorder or mental illness, though it obviously can be. Passive aggression is usually the result of a lack of communication between people and deep-seated feelings of fear and resentment that have grown slowly over time. This can be exacerbated in the Personality Disordered person, which means that more than anyone, they need someone who is willing to listen to them.  If these behaviors are not worked on when they first appear, the passive aggressive person may see passive aggression as a solution to avoiding responsibility and could employ these tactics in all aspects of life. Counseling is often helpful, however, a passive aggressive person may just need the opportunity to get something off his/her chest. Passive aggression is usually the result of unexpressed anger or hostility and many of the passive aggressive behaviors may lessen or disappear if the individual is encouraged to express these frustrations in a meaningful and productive way. Not a hurtful and spiteful way!

So how do you do this?

- Avoid using language and actions that mirror the passive-aggressive behavior of the other person. Engaging in "competition" only provokes the pattern further and will place additional strain on the situation. Doing "battle" with a passive-aggressive also can result in your own unhealthy mental state and can substantiate the difficult actions of the other person. A passive-aggressive person fears confrontation and will be increasingly cautious about self-expression if they view you as an opponent.

- Create a safe and comfortable environment. Allow the person to know you are committed to a functional relationship (whatever sort that may be). Speak tactfully, and noncoercively about goals you have for the relationship. Encourage them to express themselves by simply making them feel at-ease.

- State your feelings directly and assertively if they continues to exhibit the behavior. Sit down and clearly explain that these actions are not acceptable. Assert your own emotions, be open about your beliefs and do not let the other persons behavior affect your own personal choices.

In other words, don’t be a doormat, but don’t be a douchebag either.

How to Deal With Passive Aggressive Behavior

- Choose not to reward the passive aggressive behavior. Do not treat a passive aggressive person like a victim. Instead, recognize the passive aggressive behavior for what it is and refuse to “do the dance” with a passive aggressive person. Do not allow the passive aggressive person to push your buttons to get you feeling sorry for her. Only you can choose to allow a passive aggressive person to control the choices you make.

- Be direct with the passive aggressive person. When a passive aggressive person mistreats you, speak to the person about the behavior in a direct manner. For example, if your passive aggressive friend says she will help you with a task but shows up an hour late and sulking, tell your friend that nobody forced her to help out. If she does not want to do something, then she can just say so. Tell her that you would rather she just say no than be unreliable.

- Resist the urge to rise to the bait. Passive aggressive people will often try to get you to do something for them by dropping big hints rather than just asking you directly. Choose not to reward this behavior and act as if you don’t “get it” until the person asks you a direct question.

::laughs:: I do #3 all the time. In my mind it seems like if I hint at something, and someone else picks up on it and offers me what I want, then I’m not pushing them into an uncomfortable situation. I don’t want them to be in a position where they have to say no, or feel obligated just because I’ve asked. So if I hint at it, they have the opportunity to say nothing if it’s not what they want to do and there’s no uncomfortable feelings to deal with for them. Maybe my thinking this way is completely wrong. Hm.

If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
To avoid being passive aggressive with others, I can:
* try to be assertive, open and honest with my negative feelings or anger.
* warn people to "read'' my behavior rather than my words if they want to know my feelings.
* confront myself with my inconsistent behavior and challenge myself to explain it.
* take the risk to confront my anger assertively and "on the spot'' so that I can bring my behavior in line with my feelings.
* work at making my behavior consistent with my feelings.
* change the way I interact with people and make my relationships more honest.
* admit that I have been a liar.
* work at being more honest with people even if it results in a conflict.
* identify the irrational thinking that prevents me from confronting people when I am angry.
* learn how to become assertive with my negative feelings.
* accept that it is OK to have conflict and disagreement.
* learn to compromise and come to a "win-win'' solution.
I found an exercise for how to change Passive Aggressive Behavior

1. Write down a past experience that caused you to act in a passive-aggressive manner and include as many details as possible. Identify what the person said or did to make you feel angry or frustrated, how you responded and what the benefits were of avoiding a confrontation with that person. The point of this exercise is to understand when you are being passive-aggressive and unearth the root cause of the avoidance.

2. Express how you feel when conflict occurs. Part of passive-aggressive behavior is holding in your frustration and anger. Instead of smoothing over the issue, confront the person and tell them why you are upset. Be open and honest with the person and allow them to express how they feel as well. 

3. Once you and the other person have a chance to express how you feel, work together to brainstorm possible solutions of the issue. When you come to an agreement, be sure your actions are consistent with how you feel. If you are not really satisfied with the outcome, say something. A necessary part of changing your passive-aggressive behavior is verbalizing how you feel without fear of rejection or anger.

4. If someone you know is being passive-aggressive with you, it is important that you point out their behavior when it happens. Let them know their actions and their words are not in agreement and gently ask how they honestly feel. It is important that the other person does not feel intimidated when speaking to you. Let the other person know it is okay to express negative feelings because it helps both of you understand how the other is feeling. As in Step 3, brainstorm possible solutions to the problem, and let the other person know if they are behaving in a way that shows that are not happy with the compromise.

I also found something of a checklist for how to deal with a variety of passive aggressive behaviors.

How to deal with repeated forgetfulness:  Encourage the person to become more organized. Offer to help them set up a reminder book or to do list for the tasks that they need to accomplish. Writing tasks down makes them real and helps the person to acknowledge their awareness of the tasks. It's hard for them to claim that they forgot when they have a written reminder right in front of them.
How to deal with procrastination:  Set firm deadlines for tasks that need to be accomplished. Encourage them to plan ahead, using a calendar to keep track of upcoming deadlines and required completion dates. Break large tasks up into smaller parts and require that they complete each part within a certain time frame. This creates an artificial schedule for them and prompts them to start work sooner rather than later.

How to deal with the inability to make decisions:  Give them a choice. If possible, offer several different options when asking them to make a decision. The ability to make their own choice empowers them and makes decision making easier and more fulfilling. This method works for young children and it might just work for that indecisive person in your life. Put them in control of the decision making process. Inform them that the decision is for them to make and no one else will make that decision for them. Put the responsibility on them from the start. Don't offer advice or guidance, make them be in charge.

How to deal with the inability to accept responsibility:  Hold people accountable. Don't accept excuses. Don't let things just slide, just because it's easier that way. That's exactly what the PA person is hoping you will do. They think "I'll do such a bad job, that no one will ever ask me to do anything important again". Make them meet their obligations without any room for compromise. This can be done by gently expressing sincere disappointment when they fail to show responsibility for their inabilities followed by affirmation that you believe they are capable of doing what they say they will.

How to deal with the person that is constantly making excuses:  This is perhaps one of the most difficult passive aggressive behaviors to deal with. It's difficult in the sense, that everyone makes excuses from time to time. It's natural to rationalize and blame other people or factors for failure. The problem is that people with a passive aggressive tilt use excuses to explain everything. They don't make occasional excuses for poor performance or mistakes; they are always blaming others for their failures or shortcomings. It's just never their fault. Put a stop to the constant excuse making with a simple statement: "I'm not interested in excuses, I'm interested in results". Once the PA person learns that excuses don't fly with you, you'll see one of two things. Their performance will improve, or they'll just try to avoid you completely. You can hope for improved performance.

This last sentiment of “I’m not interested in excuses, I’m interested in results” is not the best idea for dealing with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. It could completely shatter their sense of self-worth and cause them to lash out which is exactly what you do not want to do. A gentler approach with this spin would be better. Recognize that the excuse has hindered them in the past, but then work towards a path that diverts from repeating the excuse. Remind them that it is within their control to choose another way of approaching things.

Alright. I personally feel more equipped to deal with passive aggressive people and recognize it in myself. If you have a passive aggressive Borderline, just remember, Be Tactful! We’re emotionally volatile people. Just pointing out our behavior in an accusatory fashion is not going to be productive for you or for us.

Wow, so this was a week of passive-aggressive posting. I had not planned on that at all. Tomorrow I’ll try to post about emergency therapy. Of course, it’s Saturday, so I may give myself permission to be lazy. We shall see =P

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Worthwhile Day - #Trust30: Day 1

Taking this prompt from Interruption I’ve decided to also look into the Ralph Waldo Emerson #Trust30 Challenge. It started back in May but as I’m just discovering it now I shall start, well, now. This will be something I do back and forth between Beyond and Asylum. I’ll flip back and forth between my blogs depending on which I believe is most relevant towards, or cross post on both.
#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.”
What is one thing you can do that would make today worthwhile? What’s stopping you from getting started right now?
Today I am tired. So very, very tired. What could make this day worthwhile are three things.
1.      Schedule an appointment with my therapist
2.      Work on my light saber
3.      Paint
Mondays are usually my days for therapy but as this was a holiday my appointment needed to be cancelled and rescheduled. Therapist left me a voicemail to reschedule for Tuesday which I promptly ignored. I know I shouldn’t have, just out of politeness, but I hate scheduling things like that. It was my day off and I didn’t want to interrupt my day of potential freedom. I regret it now. I just, have an aversion to rescheduling on days I am not prepared for. It makes me anxious. I fight it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. Even when I know it’s something I need. It didin’t fall into a slip of time I saw as open and therefore I pushed it aside and forgot about it, even as the seeds of sadness and depression have been clawing their way deeper into my mind.
I scheduled an emergency appointment with my therapist today. This is the first time I’ve ever done that. She seemed flustered, but accommodating. Maybe she wasn’t expecting to hear from me. Maybe her schedule was busy. But she took me anyway. All I can hope is that I feel better, sooner. I recognize that I need to do this for me. No one else can make me seek the help I need. I’ve known this. I need to not forget this.

Now for the fun. The fun is tempered by the weariness in my arms. I slept well for a change (thank you Trazadone). I recently received the no-bake epoxy I’ll be using to fashion the aesthetics of my light sabers. Last night I sat down with this new medium for the first time and set out to sculpt an idea for my hilts. I must say, it came out only barely resembling what I’m hoping to do. I was frustrated but not completely disheartened. By the end of the hour I spent I had:
- Gained an understanding of how to mold the epoxy.
- Formed a new idea of how to approach the design details that I want.
- Tried a medium that I’ve never used before, by myself, without any guidance.
So I wouldn’t call the night a failure. Especially as I’ll have time to sit down tonight and take a go at Round 2. If this doesn’t work, than I can always do what I did for my last light saber hilts. I like how those turned out and I know I can do that style (only better). Oh, creative process, how you frustrate and compel me.

Paint. I dearly love to paint. With my mind so weighed down in a thick grey fog it’s been difficult for me to be inspired. I  started a piece on Tuesday. Barely. I primed the paper and painted it all black. I’m trying something new. Water. A waterfall at night to be precise. We’ll see how it comes out. I was inspired by the meditation of a tarot card I did. One I’m designing on my own and in order to create the image I want, I will need to know how to do water. So of course, my next step is to figure out how to paint water that flows and spills. One goal to another to another goal. Except the real goal is the process itself. Yes, there will be something to point to at the end, but it is the journey of how I’ve gotten there that is what really means the most to me.

crossposted Asylum

Passive Origins, Aggressive Outcomes - Or is it the other way around?

When you have Borderline Personality Disorder and you’re displaying Passive-Aggressive tendencies there are a lot of issues that may affect you.
“Individuals with PAPD are vulnerable to anxiety, somatoform disorders, and depression. Major depressive episodes are not uncommon. In the PAPD depressive cycles, there is evidence of a tendency to blame others, a demanding and complaining attitude, and low self-confidence. These individuals are most likely to experience chronic dysthymia. Typically, individuals with PAPD display an agitated dysphoria, shifting between anxious futility and self-deprecation to demanding irritability and bitter discontent (Millon, 1996, pp. 198-199).”
This cycle describes me very well, though I don’t attribute it to a passive-aggressive disorder in me.  I think that having this cycle creates a sense of powerlessness in my moods that in turn, leads to passive-aggressive behavior. Not the other way around. So for someone with PAPD the PA trait would be the cause for this cycle, where in someone with BPD this cycle would be the cause for the PA actions. The results and ultimate actions may be the same though. It’s important to recognize these so that a  better way of dealing with these types of cycles and actions can be found.

Origin of PAPD behavior:
“Stone (1993, p. 361) suggests that the contrary, sulking, and verbal nitpicking behaviors of PAPD appear to have their origin in unending power struggles with parents. The comparative helplessness of youth made it impossible to win in these struggles so the face-saving technique of passive resistance was employed. Parental overcontrol, neglect, or favoring of a sibling can all contribute to the development of the silent protest and grudging obedience associated with PAPD (Stone, 1993, p. 361).”
For me growing up was a study in contradiction of independence. I was told over and over that independence was something to be valued, but at the same time I was no allowed to exert my independence without repercussion. Also, the very idea of being independent inspired an anxiety in me that I could not reconcile because while I knew I was supposed to value my independence, that meant I had to release my bond to my parents, which I both wanted, and did not. Having not felt particularly bonded to them in many ways, releasing what little hold I had on them was distressing. Having them tell me that I should be one way, and then be punished for exerting the nature they valued, made me feel like I had even less control over my life and its outcome. Especially since I had very little opportunity to exert my independence in the first place. I was one of those over achieving, over involved, super children. I played on a dozen different sports teams, various school clubs, piano, dance, etc. beginning when I was about 7 years old throughout high school and into college. My life was absolutely and utterly structured and scheduled beyond my ability to control, so yes, I acted out in ways that allowed me to exert some independence when I could. Unfortunately these ways were often very destructive for me. That I was told to be independent, but apparently only in a way that my parents found acceptable during a time frame they chose, seemed like a massive contradiction to me and I refused the contradiction.
For someone with Borderline Personality disorder the parent figure can be just about anyone that they feel has ‘authority’ over them. It’s been postulated that the emotional maturity of someone with BPD has not evolved past the age of 3-5 years old. This is often when the root contributors to the personality disorder has taken hold so emotionally speaking, most people that are in a close relationship with a Borderline person may act as a parental figure in some sense.

When someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder is actually a parent, they may struggle with the same issues they grew up with in their own childhood, but now from the flip side. Not having a stable sense of give and take, of communication and compromise, everything feels like rebellion or being told what to do. It feels like once again, their choices are being taken away. The control is in someone else’s hands and reduces that inner child to a place of past powerlessness.
I’m not an expert on this. I do not have my own children, but I know how it feels when people do things without including me in the process. I feel like my opinions are not enough, not good enough, and maybe even rejected. I want to be the sole decision maker because, to me, that shows how much I am needed in someone else’s life. If someone needs my opinions, and only my opinions than it means that I am a crucial aspect of their world and it is very unlikely that they will no longer need me. They won’t abandon me. I do recognize that this is not rational, but the fear that is inspired when people look to others for help, instead of me, is not rational. I don’t lash out, I internalize everything these days. My self-worth plummets, I feel hurt, bad, and unhappy; alone. I want the people that are close to me to revolve their activities around me. Well, maybe not around me entirely (I actually don’t like to be the center of attention), but I desperately want to be included in the process of things. Being included reinforces the idea that I have not been forgotten, that what I have to contribute is valuable, that I have value.
It’s incredibly disconcerting for me as I write this, because I realize just how dependent I can be on the need for strong relationships, for others to need me as much as I need them.  I am an incredibly independent person. The idea of being dependent/codependent makes me angry. The very thought makes me feel weak and not in control of my life. I need people, but I don’t want to need people, I want people to need me, but I don’t want them to need me too much. It’s a massive internal conflict.  Especially since, at the same time, I realize that the things I want so strongly, I also recognize are not necessarily obtainable from people. Other people have their own lives and can only do so much when they have other things to worry about. This knowledge does not ease my internal anxiety, but it does increase my awareness of those around me. It begins to lessen the resentment I feel just a little, which makes me less likely to shut down around others or shut others down.

“The classic passive-aggressive transference pattern is to comply (sort of) with the therapeutic recommendation, and then to declare triumphantly that it was a very poor suggestion and failed miserably. These individuals are programmed to ask for help and then both to defy it and to suffer from it. Clients with PAPD expect to be injured by a negligent and cruel caregiver.”
This is what’s considered Transference and/or Countertransference Issues. Getting help for passive-aggressive tendencies isn’t easy when you constantly fluxuate between wanting help and not believing you need it (effectively making you not want help). Tomorrow I’ll talk about ways to address and work through passive aggressive problems.  Or at least try to find some tricks and methods to work through it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Passive-Aggressive in Motion

Yesterday I started talking about the Passive-Aggressive characteristic often found in Borderline Personality Disorder. Though really it’s just a trait of personalities. I think everyone at some point has displayed passive aggressive tendencies. Most people just are not a master of tactfully direct confrontation.  So in researching passive-aggressiveness I came upon the Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder. There are a lot of things that do not fit with Borderline. I want to make that clear, and you’re just going to have to trust me. There is definitely some over lap though and I want to touch on those things that I think are relateable. I just don’t want anyone to get confused and start to think that BPD is the same as PAPD or that they are generally co-morbid PDs. Millon (a noted psychiatrist) specifically cites a type of Passive-Aggressive personality type that he identifies as being inclusive to Borderline features; the  vacillating negativist.

Behavioral Features of PAPD Include (BPD**):
- sullen contrariness with little provocation;
- restlessness, unstable and erratic feelings;**
- inclination to be easily offended by trivial issues;
- low frustration tolerance and chronic impatience and irritability unless things go their way;**
- vacillation from being distraught and despondent to being petty, spiteful, stubborn, and contentious;
- short-lived enthusiasm and cheer with ready reversion to being disgruntled, critical, and envious;**
- begrudging the good fortune of others;
- quarrelsome reactions to indifference or minor slights from others;**
- emotions close to the surface; they may burst into tears at a small upset;**
- discharging anger or abuse at others with minimal provocation;**
- impulsivity and explosive unpredictability -- making others uncomfortable;**
- ability to be pleasantly social with expression of warm affection but then easily provoked into hurt obstinacy and cruel, nasty interaction (Millon, 1981, p. 254). **

“Millon suggests that the most essential features of PAPD are irritable affect; behavioral contrariness, obstructiveness, and sulking; discontented self-image, e.g. feels unappreciated and misunderstood; deficient regulatory control, i.e. poorly modulated emotional expression; and interpersonal ambivalence. They are noted for their interpersonal conflict, verbal aggressiveness, and manipulative behavior. Suicidal gestures and a lack of attention to everyday responsibilities are common (Millon, 1996, p. 198).

PAPD resistance to external demands is manifested in oppositional and obstructive behaviors. These individuals resent having to conform to the standards set by others. On the other hand, they fear direct confrontation. The combination of resentment and fear leads to passive, provocative behavior (Beck & Freeman, 1990, p. 333) and defiant compliance (Benjamin, 1994, p. 276).”

If this doesn’t scream Borderline to you I don’t know what will. Clearly there are overlapping tendencies here.

“Individuals with OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive) and PAPD share a deeply rooted ambivalence about themselves and others. While people with OCPD resolve their ambivalence by compliant behavior and holding tension within, those with PAPD have virtually no resolution. As a result, they are characterized by vacillating behavior. They are indecisive; they fluctuate in their attitudes, oppositional behaviors, and emotions. They are generally erratic and unpredictable (Millon, 1981, p. 244).”
Someone with a Borderline personality Disorder is especially prone to those indecisive fluctuations. Hell, my psychiatrist wanted me on an anti-psychotic specifically to treat my personal ambivalence. When you flounder and waver so dramatically between two opposing points, it’s incredibly frustrating. In that frustration it can often be impossible to express what you need in order to resolve the problem. This leaves a person feeling completely misunderstood, because half the time they may not understand themselves. When you feel misunderstood constantly, it also brings about a general believe that people won’t even bother trying to understand you, so what’s the point? When you know you need something, don’t know exactly what, can’t ask for it, and can’t really express it; it’s no wonder that our moods seems to vacillate between passive and aggressive.

“Individuals with PAPD view themselves as self-sufficient but feel vulnerable to control and interference from others (Pretzer & Beck, Clarkin & Lenzenweger, eds., 1996, p. 60). They believe that they are misunderstood and unappreciated, a view that is exacerbated by the negative responses they receive from others for their consistent defeatist stance. They expect the worst in everything, even situations that are going well, and are inclined toward anger and irritability (Beck & Freeman, 1990, p. 339) (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 734).”
“Individuals with PAPD are often disgruntled and declare that they are not treated as they should be. On the other hand, they are just as likely to express feeling unworthy of good fortune. They have a basic conflict concerning their self-worth; they oscillate between self-loathing and entitlement or moral superiority. Either side of this oscillation can be projected onto the environment. The chaotic nature of this experience of self and others often leads to people beginning to avoid or minimize contact with people with PAPD out of self-protection (Richards, 1993, p. 259).”

I think this helps illustrate why people aren’t just aggressive. When you understand the inherent nature of constant flux you can begin to understand why reactions and responses are also in flux.

 View of Others

“Individuals with PAPD see others as intrusive, demanding, interfering, controlling, and dominating. They believe that other people interfere with their freedom. They experience control by others as intolerable; they have to do things their own way (Pretzer & Beck, Clarkin & Lenzenweger, eds., 1996, p. 60). These individuals are determined that they will not be subject to the rules of others (Beck & Freeman, 1990, p. 227). They resent, oppose, and resist demands to meet expectations from others in a behavioral pattern seen in both work and social settings (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 733). Their main coping strategies are passive resistance, surface submissiveness, evasion, and circumventing of rules (Pretzer & Beck, Clarkin & Lenzenweger, eds., 1996, p. 60).”

This ties into the Borderline Push-Pull. I’ll do so much for people, pull people close, meet their needs and demands, and then flip. I’ll be completely overwhelmed by what someone else wants  when it’s not what I want. I’ll feel like I’m losing my sense of Self to their needs, not my own, that what I’ve just been doing is now too much, being taken advantage of, a demand instead of a desire, expected not appreciated  and I’ll have to Push away to regain control of my own situation. It’s not quite the same, but the sentiments match up. It inspires feelings of resentment and resistance coupled with the borderline flipside desire to not be abandoned and needing approval. Can’t be too aggressive otherwise we’ll push people away irrevocably, can’t be too passive and just let things slide because then we’re just being taken advantage of and the resentment builds to explosion. This results in something of a dysfunctional balance being struck in the form of passive-aggressive behavior.  

Tomorrow I’ll get into a little bit of the affective issues of PAPD/BPD and the theory behind the origins of this behavior.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bordering on Passive-Aggressive

This topic is going to take us places. Passive-Aggression is a trait of everyone. Borderlines, the non-personality disordered, characteristic of many other PDs, and there’s even a Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder in PDNOS all its own. So let’s see where I go with this.

Passive Aggressive behavior is the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (such as through procrastination and stubbornness). It’s a mechanism to express anger without openly admitting you are angry or confronting the source of your anger directly. It is common for a person to express passive-aggressive behavior when they are in a position of low influence or control over a person with whom they are angry. People who feel powerless, inferior or afraid of a person with whom they are angry will frequently resort to a passive-aggressive style.

From Out of the Fog:

Personality-Disordered Individuals or PDI's often feel a great deal of pain over their own situation. Because of the way their emotions can overwhelm their rational thinking, they are prone to destructive behaviors, emotional outbursts, making poor choices and having feelings of self-loathing, powerlessness and discontent at the state of their own affairs. Faced with this, it is common for PDI's to look for a person who is willing to share the burden, help clean up the mess and help them feel better about themselves. Family members, spouses, partners and friends are prime candidates for this role - a role which they sometimes accept willingly; hoping to make a positive difference in their loved-one's life but may unwittingly create over-optimistic expectations for what they can accomplish. When they inevitably fail to solve all the problems and fill all the voids, it is common for the PDI to feel disappointment, disillusionment and even resentment towards them. Filled with anger towards those who have disappointed them, yet consumed by fear that they will be abandoned by those who have loved them the most, the PDI may develop a pattern of passive-aggressive behavior towards the Non-PD.

Some Examples of Passive-Aggressive Behavior:

Withdrawal - of material support, contribution to shared goals, Re prioritizing alternate activities and goals, "go-slow's", procrastination or targeted incompetence are all manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior.
Silent Treatment, inappropriate "one-word" answers, inattention, making yourself generally "unavailable".
Off-line Criticism - propagating gossip or criticism to a third party in an attempt to negatively influence the third party's opinion of a person.
Sarcasm, Critical and "Off-Color" Jokes - Humor which targets a specific individual is a form of passive-aggressive communication.
Indirect Violence or shows-of-strength such as destruction of property, slamming doors, cruelty to animals in the sight of another is passive-aggressive.

I definitely fall to some passive-aggressive behavior. Personally my preferences seem to be in withdrawal, “silent treatment”-ish, and sarcasm, critical and off-color jokes. I’m putting “silent treatment” in quotes because it’s practically impossible for me to give anyone the silent treatment. I want to. I often want to go days without speaking to someone to punish them or make them worry about me, but I can’t. I’ll withdraw my attention to a point, but I can’t discontinue it altogether. I don’t want to talk to them, don’t want them to know anything about me, but I can’t be out of contact either.  This and my tendency for rampant sarcasm are probably my biggest displays of passive-aggressiveness.

However this is not just a PD trait. I’ve known plenty of people that are passive-aggressive that are just you’re neuro-typical person. Then there are your non-personality disordered types that deal and live with those of us with PDs and they can have their own brand of passive-aggressiveness as well.

Non-Personality-Disordered Individuals or Non-PD's are often confused about the erratic state of mind of the personality disordered individuals (PDI's) in their lives. They may feel anger and hurt towards the PDI because of the way they have been treated by them, while at the same time they may be afraid of future outbursts. The Non-PD may be fatigued from taking the "high ground" over contentious issues while at the same time angry with the PDI whom they deem to be taking the "low road" or taking advantage of them. Non-PD's may develop a pattern of passive-aggressive behavior towards PDI's as a way of registering their disapproval while trying to maintain the "high ground" and trying not to provoke further aggressive behaviors from the PDI.

Passive-aggressiveness seems to be its own vicious cycle. Once it’s started, it’s almost contagious and starts reflecting back on itself from the person that it was originally aimed at.  Theodore Millon identified four subtypes of negativist (passive–aggressive). Any individual negativist may exhibit none or one of the following:
circuitous negativist – including dependent features
abrasive negativist – including sadistic features
discontented negativist – including depressive features
vacillating negativist – including borderline features

Personality Disorder Not otherwise Specified:  This is the incredibly vague and indistinct sub-classification of Personality Disorders that don’t otherwise fit into the Cluster A, B, or C types (odd, dramatic, anxious). PDNOS includes things like Depressive, Passive-Aggressive, Sadistic, and Self-Defeating.

I mention this because in my reading of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder I found a lot of similar traits to Borderline Personality Disorder. Now it is possible to have co-morbid personality disorders, but it’s more likely that there are just overlapping features associated with the lot of them. The way  a personality disorder is diagnosed is by evaluating which PD is most encompassing of all the signs and symptoms; not choosing all the PDs that share traits with the symptoms displayed.

Tomorrow I’ll get more into the overlapping features of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder and how these traits apply and comingle with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blood and Bonding

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much of my own blood. 

No, nothing serious. Well, it is, but unintentional. I’ve been getting very severe nose bleeds the past few weeks. I probably lost a pint of blood between the two this morning and this evening. Have you ever held your hands up to your own face and cupped a pool of your own blood. It’s really quite lovely.

I’m beginning to believe I don’t belong here. By all standards its been a lovely day. Woke up with my girl. Lady Friend and I went to the beach with Friend and his wife. Out to an early dinner after.

Spending too much time with her makes me anxious. I don’t know what to do. Don’t know what to say. I worry about not being entertaining enough. I don’t want to entertain at all. Fortunately my nose started bleeding when I was attempting to get rid of my dinner so I had an excuse to cut the evening short. Now I’m just as empty.

I tried explaining to Friend that I don’t think I belong here. He replied with, “Oh stop. It was a good day til your blood decided it wanted out. Which was, admittedly, rude of it.” I realize he’s trying to make light of it, but I wonder if he really understands. I don’t think he does. I don’t connect. I’m removed. I’m alone, even when I’m surrounded by the people I’m familiar with.

I’m at my best when I’m not by myself. With people. But it just inspires a different kind of tension. Alone I can’t stand the room to think. Surrounded I can’t stand the lack of room to, be.  There’s no win.

Last night was, fun. I introduced Lady Friend to my household. She pretty much met all of my current friends in NY, between yesterday and today. Well received. Everyone likes her, she likes everyone. Friend says she has a very good effect on me.

I don’t think he understands that it’s not her. It’s me. I’m playing a game. I’m slipping into a role. A different persona. I’m playing at being happy. Playing at enjoying the company of someone who cares about me. I don’t feel it. I don’t feel any of it. That I recognize that I don’t feel any of it just makes me feel even more distant from all of it.

I’m fighting the urge to hurt myself tonight. I’m not sure I can sustain it even if I did. I’ve already lost too much blood today. Sex, friends, family, beach, relaxing, reading, creativity, painting, meditation, caring… all in one day and yet, it means nothing to me. I don’t feel any of it. All I feel, is alone. Listening to the sky explode, all I want is for my heart to burst like one of the firecrackers I hear outside my window.

She doesn’t drive me crazy. I don’t mean in that good, head over heels kind of way. I mean, I do, but she doesn’t make me mad either. Doesn’t drive me to the kind of crazy that can drive me to hold on. I have her. I know it. It’s not enough. What kind of person does that make me?

Especially as I know I’m just going to keep pretending.

Maybe if I can fool everyone else long enough, I can eventually fool myself as well. 
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