Saturday, August 27, 2011


In full on hurricane preparation mode currently. I may or may not have electricity/interwebs for the next few days as the storm is beginning to hit us. It won't be too bad until late tonight/early tomorrow but in case I don't post for a few days.... blame Irene, not the fact that I've been so preoccupied I can barely focus on typing.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make Up of Your Mind – Part 3

The last set of schemas comes in Domain V!  I decided to spend a day on just this domain because I identify a lot here.

Domain V – Overvigilance and Inhibition: Excessive emphasis on suppressing one’s spontaneous feelings, impulses, and choices or on meeting rigid, internalized rules and expectations about performance and ethical behavior, often at the expense of happiness, self-expression, relaxation, close relationships, or health.  Typical family origin is grim, demanding, and sometimes punitive: performance, duty, perfectionism, following rules, hiding emotions, and avoiding mistakes predominate over pleasure, joy, and relaxation. There is usually an undercurrent of pessimism and worry that things could fall apart if one fails to be vigilant and careful at all times.

15.) Negativity/Pessimism – A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation – in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations – that things will eventually go seriously wrong or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because they exaggerate potential negative outcomes, these individuals are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.

Chronic worry and indecision. About everything. It’s so difficult to hold onto the good when the potential for bad is so overshadowing. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about how pervasive this is especially when I consider work or friendships. Pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc…. my mind ruminates, creates scenarios, makes things up that have never happened, that will probably never happen and it’s always, always negative. Even the things I think about that could turn out well for me are laced with negative means in order to get there. It’s funny because outwardly I don’t show this way of thinking. I can only imagine that if I did no one would want to be around me so I hide it all, bottle it up below the surface, but it’s there. Oh yes, it’s there.

16.) Emotional Inhibition – The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication, usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses. The most common areas of inhibition involve:
            a. inhibition of anger and aggression
            b. inhibition of positive impulses (joy, affection, sexual excitement, play)
            c. difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating freely about one’s feelings, needs , etc.
            d. excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotions.
All of these. I bottle and I bottle and I bottle. Eventually this causes me to explode in one way or another but I can’t bring myself to express how I feel. I don’t feel like I deserve or have any right to feel the way I do most days. If I do show how I feel I might be impinging on someone else and I don’t know how they’ll react or if they’ll see it as ok. I turn inwards instead of out. I detest the idea of seeming vulnerable. In my real life outside of the blogosphere I mask myself in the rational. Outwardly I dismiss any emotional situation and speak about things logically while below the surface I may be writhing and seething in a turbulent sea of emotion. Even if I were to want to express these things I don’t know how, not without crumbling complete and that’s something I can’t let anyone see.  

17.) Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness – The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
            Unrelenting standards typically present as:
a.       Perfectionism – inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm.
b.      Rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts.
c.       Preoccupation with time and efficiency, the need to accomplish more.
This is something Therapist has been trying to work with me on. I dissolve myself into a puddle of anxiety and stress when I cannot meet the goals and standards that I’ve set out to accomplish. Regardless of the pressure I deal with in other aspects of my life, if I can’t meet ALL the things I believe I should be able to do I beat myself up mentally. That I’m not currently beating myself up physically is a step in a positive direction at least.

18.) Punitivenss – The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punative, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.

I am generally punitive towards myself. I am much, much more tolerant of the mistakes that others make. The standards I set for myself and for others are two entirely different things. Something someone else does wrong I can easily shrug off or understand, but if I were to make the same mistake I feel an intense need to punish myself for not meeting my own standards. Angry, intolerant and impatient with myself. Though when I am in an increasingly volatile relationship this does begin to creep in as well. Once I feel mistreated or taken advantage of, all the rules go to hell and there’s no predicting how I will feel or act towards someone else.

As you can see, there are a great many ways the mind learns to cope in a maladaptive manner. It’s even more involved than just this though since there are various ways that each of these schemas presents, not just the basic outline that I’ve given so far. We’ll get there! The goal of schema therapy is to recognize which maladaptive schemas affect a person and work to change these negative coping mechanisms to healthier, more productive ones. Once you recognize and can see the problem at the core, that’s when it becomes possible to really get a handle on it in order to change it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Make Up of Your Mind – Part 2

There are two remaining domains and their associated schemas left to delve into. I’m just going to do one today and then the other tomorrow. So without further ado….
Domain IV – Other-Directedness: An excessive focus on the desires, feelings, and responses or others, at the expense of one’s own needs in order to gain love and approval, maintain one’s sense of connection, or avoid retaliation. Usually involves suppression and lack of awareness regarding one’s own anger and natural inclinations. Typical family origin is based on conditional acceptance: Children must suppress important aspects of themselves in order to gain love, attention, and approval. In many such families, the parents’ emotional needs and desires – or social acceptance and status – are valued more than the unique needs and feelings of each child.
12.) Subjugation – Excessive surrendering of control to others because one feels coerced – submitting in order to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment. The two major forms of subjugation are:
            a. Subjugation of needs: Suppression of one’s preferences, decisions, and desires.
            b. Subjugation of emotions: Suppression of emotions, especially anger.
This usually involves the perception that one’s own desires, opinions, and feelings are not valid or important to others. Frequently presents as excessive compliance, combined with hypersensitivity to feeling trapped. Generally leads to a buildup of anger, manifested in maladaptive symptoms (ex. Passive-aggressive behavior, uncontrolled outbursts of temper, psychosomatic symptoms, withdrawal of affection, “acting out”, substance abuse).
I felt both a Subjugation of needs and a Subjugation of emotions almost constantly when I was with Evil-Ex. This is not so much a by-product of my Borderline Personality Disorder so much as a natural response to the abuse that I was living with. So it wasn’t that I simply perceived it as being so, I was actually being told that it was so. That’s a fundamental difference. However that these feelings have stuck with me so long after is a result of the development of some of this schema type. Again, this occurred later in my life though so it’s not as pervasive as many others.
13.) Self-Sacrifice – Excessive focus on voluntarily meeting the needs of others in daily situations at the expense of one’s own gratification. The most common reasons are: to prevent causing pain to others; to avoid guilt from feeling selfish; or to maintain the connection with others perceived as needy. Often results from an acute sensitivity to the pain of others. Sometimes leads to a sense that one’s own needs are not being adequately met and to resentment of those who are taken care of. This overlaps with concepts of codependency.
I fall to this frequently. For me there is an acute sense of avoiding guilt from feeling selfish and to maintain a connection to others. If I don’t do things for other people, do things to take care of other people, they won’t need to have me around. So for me this co-mingles with Abandonment. After a while though that resentment does build up because I feel like I give so much but do not receive nearly the same in return.
14.) Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking – Here there is an excessive emphasis on gaining approval, recognition, or attention from other people or on fitting in at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self. One’s sense of esteem is dependent primarily on the reactions of others rather than on one’s own natural inclinations. Sometimes includes an overemphasis on status, appearance, social acceptance, money, or achievement as means of gaining approval, admiration, or attention (not primarily for power or control). Frequently results in major life decisions that are inauthentic or unsatisfying or in hypersensitivity to rejection.
This is not so much my issue. Soon I’ll talk about the 3 ways that each of these schemas can present: Surrender, Avoidance, and Overcompensation. I overcompensate in this area and actively work to do things that people might disapprove of in order to push people away before they can get to close to me, judge me, and leave me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Make up of Your Mind - Part 1

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the background out of the way let’s take a look at what each of the schemas actually is. We’ll do this in two parts because there are a lot.
Domain I – Disconnection and Rejection: The expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner.
1.)    Abandonment/Instability Schema – This schema is the perceived instability or unreliability of one’s connection to significant others. Patients with this schema have the sense that important people in their life will not continue to be there because they are emotionally unpredictable, they are only present erratically, they will die, or they will leave the patient for someone better. It involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable, unreliable, or present only erratically; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the individual in favor of someone better.

2.)    Mistrust/Abuse Schema – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”

3.)    Emotional Deprivation – The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
1.      Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
2.      Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
3.      Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.

4.)    Defectiveness/Shame – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).

5.)    Social Isolation/Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated for the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of or like they belong to any group or community.
I feel all of these in various degrees. The most prominent for me are definitely Abandonment/Instability, Defectiveness/Shame and Social Isolation/Alienation. Defectiveness/Shame has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, clinging to my skin my entire life. Abandonment/Instability and Social Isolation/Alienation I am so familiar with that I may have resigned myself to them. If Defectiveness/Shame is the wet blanket clinging to my skin, these are what actually compose my skin. These are the vital organs that my blood pumps through. Emotional Deprivation…. I don’t believe I have any right to deserve or expect any of these things. I can actually see where and how people do give these to me, but it’s as if I’m watching them give them to someone else. Thinking about being able to accept these things feels foreign to me like I wouldn’t know how to accept them even if I wasn’t deprived of them. The Mistrust/Abuse Schema is a lesser schema for me. Remember I mentioned that schemas can prevent to various degrees. The ones that ingrain themselves earliest in life tend to be the stronger, more pervasive schemas, while the ones that occur later in life or not so entrenched. This is one of those for me. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of abuse, but this came later in my life. Some days I believe that because I’m so unavailable on most other levels that any abuse I’ve taken I can almost shrug off. I expect it to happen, but since I do expect it, I don’t allow myself to open fully to it and it therefore can’t affect me or I don’t hold on to it like I might have.  
Domain II -  Impaired Autonomy and Performance: Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully.  

6.)    Dependence/Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (ex. Take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.

7.)    Vulnerability to Harm or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fear focus on one or more of the follow:
a.       Medical Catastrophes like heart attacks or AIDS
b.      Emotional catastrophes like going crazy
c.       External catastrophes like elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.

8.)    Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents) at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by or fused with others or insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and foundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.

9.)    Failure – The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, lower in status, less successful than others, and so forth.
Failure. Despite all my achievements and actual, physical proof to the contrary I cannot shake this sense of failure. Nothing is ever good enough. I am never good enough. So I push myself continually onwards, being harder and harder on myself. Vulnerability to Harm is something I recognize more when I’m very stressed out. Airplanes, car crashes, driving myself insane create an almost paralyzing anxiety. Enmeshment is especially true when I’m in a volatile relationship. The world feels like it might end and all hope of happiness hinges on it. I’m actually what most people consider counter-dependent though. I couldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help, if my life depended on it. I feel like even more of a failure if I seem to be in any way helpless.  So hey, where one schema takes over it prevents the creation of others.
Domain III – Impaired Limits: Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals.
10.)                        Entitlement/Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; or an exaggerated focus on superiority in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward or domination of others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.

11.)                        Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or over exertion at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
Of all the Domains this is where I am least affected. I’m probably the opposite of Entitled and Grandiose and I’ve had self-control and discipline beat into my brain since I was very young. Though I do recognize the milder form of discomfort avoidance in myself readily. I love nothing more than to lock myself in my little worlds of escapism to take my mind away from the realities that surround me. Nothing can touch me when I’m lost in the illusion of a good book or so preoccupied with creating an elaborate meal.

So involved. So complex. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quotes from the Borderline

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."
— Umberto Eco

….Monday’s are so hard sometimes

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