Friday, December 9, 2011

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy - Borderline Ambivalence

Therapy last night was kind of a downer. Mostly we talked about Tech Boy and my hesitations about the whole thing. I told Therapist what I told you about my weekend with Tech Boy and how I’m vacillating between like and dislike.
Therapist wishes I had refrained from physical intimacy with Tech Boy. Taken it slower. I don’t know. This doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Physical intimacy is safer than emotional intimacy. Which I am taking very slowly.  I think I’ve had enough physical traumas that my body doesn’t feel sacred to me. I’m dissociated from a lot of the things I do to it, with it. Bodies heal; it’s the mental imprint that is the problem.
Therapist was concerned though because the chemical reactions in the brain don’t distinguish between good and bad choices. That oxytocin the brain releases when you have positive physical contact doesn’t discriminate. Just because it feels good, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. And I’m addicted to this feeling. I’m addicted to human contact. I don’t mean that in a metaphorically poetic kind of way either. I start to jones for it. Without it I get anxious and empty. I crave it. This is probably my own true weakness. It makes me melt and the world is all better, at least for the moment.
I don’t think I have the capacity to fall in love with him. This could be total crap but right now I’m in flight mode. Although, just because I don’t think I’ll fall for him doesn’t mean he can’t hurt my heart on a smaller level, and he already is. Therapist sees my ambivalence. How I miss waking up next to someone, next to him, and yet I have all these concerns that make me want to flee.
I swear anytime Therapist or Psychiatrist use this word when they’re talking to me I hear this quote from Girl, Interrupted:
Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word.
Dr. Wick
: Do you know what that means, ambivalence? Susanna: I don't care.
Dr. Wick: If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would...
Susanna: It *means* I don't care. That's what it means.
Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings... in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action.
Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
Dr. Wick: Am I sane... or, am I crazy?
Susanna: Those aren't courses of action.
Dr. Wick: They can be, dear - for some.
Susanna: Well, then - it's the wrong word.
Dr. Wick: No. I think it's
It is kind of perfect.
Therapist quite clearly doesn’t like this guy for me. She wants better for me. But she won’t tell me what to do and she doesn’t think I should just run away. I need to find more of a balance in my actions. Not an all or nothing response. Therapist thinks I should bring up the discussion we had about depression and mental health with him. And I have to say I agree (I’d already been thinking about this). This is clearly an important issue for me. I should give him the chance to elaborate and explain, and not shy away from providing my real opinions on the matter. Either it will open his eyes to an opinion he hadn’t considered before and he’ll be understanding (because maybe he’s never been exposed to someone who needs medication or has suffered with depression), or he won’t and that will be even more telling.
Ultimately though she doesn’t think this guy is right for me. In fact, she really likes Friends personality for me. She thinks I shouldn’t deviate too much from that. From what I know is good for me. I had so much easy and natural chemistry with Friend. That’s almost absent here.  She thinks maybe I’m using this ‘relationship’ with Tech Boy as a way to get over him still and to assuage my loneliness because clearly I know this guy isn’t right for me.  However, this is what friends are for. To help keep you company and take away some of the loneliness. It’s just not the same though.  
She thinks at best this is a transitory relationship. Those aren’t necessarily bad. What’s important is I decide whether or not it is healthy. I’m dissociating from my feelings in this already which is an indicator that this is not going to be a healing relationship for me. I’m feeling distant from the situation and I’m uncertain of my own feelings.  Right now I’m just sort of going with it until I can be certain, or at least give him a chance to explain and find out more about him. I know, I know, it takes me a little while to build myself up to ending things with people. Plus I have to do it in a fairly neutral way to maintain a decent working relationship. Anyways, so I can probably keep myself distanced from him while remaining in touch without throwing myself over the edge. Continue developing emotional space from Friend, use this as a transitory relationship to assuage my loneliness and {insert psych babble}, until I find someone better or that I actually connect to, or just can’t deal with it anymore. Then end. (That’s how I felt last night anyways).

Right now though I’m hurt and upset and really fucking angry. It’s stupid. I’m going out for Happy Hour with some of the guys from work, including Tech Boy. I figured we’d be making a night of it so at some point afterwards we’d probably head over to my place for whatever and so I could actually talk to him. Newp. Apparently he has a friend coming in to work on his car tomorrow so he’s taking him out after Happy Hour to a place I introduced him to. Which means I probably won’t see him one on one at all this weekend. Ya know what? He doesn’t see me as someone “he’s with” so he doesn’t think to consider me or include me or whatever. Fine. Fuck it all. And fuck him to. I’m furious.

That’s at least a solid emotion though. As I was telling Therapist it’s been a little weird for me. My meds are clearly doing the job they’re supposed to be doing. My mood is more up and I’ve been steadier. It’s just, in a similar situation, before I know I would have had some very strong emotions. However, I actually feel pretty emotionally steady. A little up and down, but nothing I’d consider extreme. Relatively stable. However I’m having some emotional confusion b/c of it. Knowing I would normally feel one thing, but feeling relatively steady instead, it makes me feel kind of confused.  I guess it’s good that I’m not flipping out, it’s just a strange sensation to not be feeling something that is so familiar.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You've got mail

I just want to say that I love, LOVE LOVE LOVE, getting mail from my Readers. Some people ask for advice, some people tell me how much they relate to what I say, a lot of people tell me their stories, some people tell me that for the first time ever they feel like they're not alone.... and so much more.

I do my best to provide any kind of answers, advice, guidance, or just a friendly word that I can.

It's funny, I pour myself into this blog because I want people to know and understand what it's like, to have that validation that they're not alone, but sometimes it does feel like I'm spilling myself out into the void. Hundreds, thousands of people "see" me, but I rarely see you (with a few fabulous exceptions). However the ones that do comment, or write me directly, it really does make me feel less alone. I just love to hear from people. Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing.

I really appreciate it. 

Borderline Devaulation Sucks for Us Too

Since this weekend I’ve felt kind of lost and lonely. Disillusionment is upsetting. Devaluation doesn’t just suck for the other person; the non-Borderline. It sucks for the Borderline too. One day you get those little butterflies in your stomach, your heart pounds and you can’t help but smile. The next is only emptiness. The person doesn’t even look the same to you. Where they used to have a certain glow, now they just have 3 day old stubble. The bounce that lightens your step is gone, gravity feels a little stronger. I don’t want this to happen. Losing all of that is upsetting to us too. It’s like losing the sun and trading it for a year of night (Ok, maybe not my best analogy considering I prefer the darkness, but you know what I mean).
I’m weary. Very weary. I’m wearing different skin again. This skin belongs to someone sitting 15 feet back from everyone around her. I don’t belong here. I thought I might, but I don’t.
A Reader made a comment to me the other day. I said I couldn’t trust myself. She thinks I can: What is important is how you feel with him and how you perceive him. That is your truth and you can trust it. Trusting yourself doesn't mean you get things right all the time it just means you honor yourself and what you need.
I love this sentiment. I think it’s beautiful.

The problem with being Borderline is the way I feel around him changes constantly. Especially now that I’ve had my rosey colored glasses unceremoniously knocked off of my face. When he’s not around, it’s as if he’s not even in my life so I can view everything objectively. I can look at the reality of the situation, analyze and annotate my notes on the whole thing and come to a very rational conclusion…. But when he’s with me everything changes. I feel his solid presence and his desire to be in my company. A tangible proof that I’m not alone and might not always be alone in the world.
Another problem with Borderline Personality Disorder is how we can’t help but base our opinions on the last interaction. Saturday by the time we left the casino I was weary, exhausted, and felt  like there was a physical wall between us. I saw him on Monday and he was sweet, flirty, and giving me the attention I wanted so I was conflicted about ending things completely. Maybe he just gave the wrong impression, maybe this, maybe that…. I doubt. We texted that night and he said some sweet things and I felt that glow and was happy with him. A few moments later he said something that I found to be heavy handed and disheartening… I was done talking to him after that. I haven’t seen him yet today, and I don’t want to.
This is a lot of why I feel I can’t trust myself. My feelings change moment to moment depending on how I last perceived them.
The important thing here is that my eyes opened before I began to fall for him. That’s what has tripped me up so horribly in the past. When I idealize someone so much, to the point where I am absolutely in love with them, nothing can stop my feelings for them. If atrocious and horrible things happen after I’ve fallen in love, I’m likely to put up with way too much abuse. My emotional rollercoaster will be compoundingly devastating because logically I know this is bad for me, but it is in extreme opposition to what my heart now wants. The contradiction is maddening.
If someone has done something ‘off’ enough that they’ve lost their value in my eyes, before I become attached, then this is not the same problem. My ability to invest in them emotionally becomes null. A cast iron gate has dropped along the road to a broken down town. From far away it still has a quaint appearance, but I’ll never get close enough to bother buying realty. I may stick around for a while, but only until I find something better.
This makes me wonder. Perhaps a new Borderline hypothesis.
How to determine if a relationship with a Borderline will last long or not: If things go so well that we idealize someone long enough to fall in love with them, then nothing will deter our emotions (this doesn’t mean we won’t still second guess things, push away-pull back, etc, but we’ll probably stay or keep coming back). However if someone we’re interested in has been devalued before we can form a deep emotional attachment to them, it’s easier for us to deconstruct everything immediately and perhaps walk away. Doesn’t mean there won’t be some strong emotional conflict, but it won’t have the chance to reach a point where our worlds will end if it isn’t forever.
Which makes me consider my next thought. The best thing for a Borderline who is trying to get over a past heartache is to cut off contact completely (I feel compelled to say, at least until we've fully moved on to someone else). No texts, no e-mails, no going out for coffee, nothing. The few times I’ve remained in contact with men that have broken my heart, The One and Friend namely, it’s taken me so, so much longer to get over them (if I can truly say that I have). It always feels like there might be some chance, or there’s too many opportunities to read too much into their words, too many times that hope can be rekindled, sparked for even a moment. Too many times for the last interaction to be positive and subsequently negative, and break our hearts all over again. But with say, Evil-Ex, even though we continued living together, we avoided each other completely, never spoke, and I moved on very rapidly. I’ve never, not once, ever considered going back to him or wanted him in my life in any way ever, ever again. We did have to talk occasionally by the nature of dealing with living arrangements, however by that point his mask had slipped so thoroughly that he could no longer sweet talk me which rapidly made him lash out and increase the rift of my devaluation. My point, time, space, and distance are the best things we could do for ourselves to get out of these situations.
I still have conflicting feelings about Friend. I haven’t spoken to The One in probably 7 or 8 years, yet he still haunts my dreams. Evil-Ex pops up in them occasionally too, but that’s never a matter of consequence so much as amusement. Even my subconscious sees them differently.
Don’t think this is just about Tech Boy. This is practically every ‘relationship’, ‘thing’, whatever, that I’ve had.

Bloody Fucking Hell. Seriously. So Tech Boy just stopped by my office. He asked me if I was coming down to break in a bit. I wasn’t planning on it, but I said it depended on how hard it was raining. So what’s he do? He offers me his jacket to keep me dry. ::head desk::

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Big Girls Don't Cry -- Emotional Inhibition

 Another day, another, something.

Emotional Inhibition probably sounds like a contradiction in Borderline Personality Disorder. Often we can be explosive and the very embodiment of emotionality. For me this is of course true, however, it’s not constant. My Therapist has often said that that extreme end of the emotional spectrum is not  how most Borderlines walk through their day to day lives. For me I mire myself in a Detached Protector space. I was raised to keep my emotions inside. It’s not until I’ve kept them in for so long that I can no longer contain the emotional pressure that I flip my lid. At some point I went from emotionally inhibited as a child, to explosive and uncontrollable as an adolescent, to gaining a sense of self-awareness and back to my emotionally inhibited norm.
Emotional Inhibition
Typical Presentation of the Schema
These patients present as emotionally constricted and are excessively inhibited about discussing and expressing their emotions. They are effectively flat rather than emotional and expressive, and self-controlled rather than spontaneous. They usually hold back expressions of warmth and caring, and often attempt to restrain their aggressive urges. Many patients with this schema value self-control above intimacy in human interactions and fear that, if they let go of their emotions at all, they might completely lose control. Ultimately, they fear being overcome with shame or bringing about some other grave consequence, such as punishment or abandonment. Often, the over control is extended to significant others in the persons environment (the person tries to prevent significant others from expressing both positive and negative emotions), especially when these emotions are intense.
It’s not that I value intimacy less than self-control, but intimacy is a vulnerable place. Being in control presents a more impenetrable emotional defense. Unsurprisingly I have a tendency to be all emotional or all logical. All one, none of the other.
People inhibit emotions that it would be healthier to express. These are the natural emotions of the Spontaneous Child mode. All children have to learn to rein in their emotions and impulses in order to respect the rights of other people. However, patients with this schema have gone too far. They have inhibited and overcontrolled their Spontaneous Child so much that they have forgotten how to be natural and to play. The most common areas in which people are overcontrolled include inhibition o anger, inhibition of positive feelings such as joy, love, affection, and sexual excitement; excessive adherence to routines or rituals; difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating fully about one’s feelings; and excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotional needs.
::sigh:: Let’s see… Being spontaneous actually makes me anxious. Doing things at the last minute means I haven’t had time to prepare myself for it. I’ve taught myself to fight my way through this to an extent at least. Therapist asked me once to recall an experience when I felt joyful. I told her I wasn’t sure what joy was. Joy and love I believe I am almost incapable of feeling from another person. Joy is not hypomanic euphoria as far as I know. And I don’t think my obsessive love is the kind of love they mean. I absolutely don’t believe other people can associate these things with me.  I refuse to be vulnerable. Ironically on this blog it seems easy for me to lay out all of my emotional vulnerabilities to a bunch of complete strangers. In real life, this is something I absolutely cannot show. “Excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotional needs,” I constantly undermine mine, and often other peoples, emotional needs. This is a big flaw of mine. I know it’s a learned trait as well. I was told so often to not express emotions, to suck it up, to toughen up, that something inside me feels like everyone should be able to do this.
People with the Emotional Inhibitions schema frequently meet the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.  In addition to being emotionally constricted, they tend to be overly devoted to decorum at the expense of intimacy and play, and are rigid and inflexible rather than spontaneous. People who have both the Emotional Inhibitions and Unrelenting Standards schemas are especially likely to meet diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, because the two schemas together include almost all the criteria.
I definitely have my OCD tendencies. It was much, much worse when I was in middle school and high school. To this day I still have a few things that I have not been able to rid myself of. I can not be late, I must be on time. I have to eat with certain kinds of silver ware on certain kinds of flat ware (in my own home … restaurants and other people’s houses are different b/c I don’t have established patterns there), I eat certain food a specific way, there are probably more that I’m missing. If I didn’t follow my rituals or patterns – full on PANIC ATTACK. The world may as well be ending my anxiety was so I high I couldn’t breathe or stop the tears from falling. Which made it worse because my meticulously applied make up was now no longer precision drawn. Frustration.  I think this may have more to do with a need for structure and control than as part of emotional inhibition though. That’s just my guess.
The most common origin for the Emotional Inhibition schema is being shamed by parents and other authority figures when, as children,  patients spontaneously displayed emotion. This is often a cultural schema, in the sense that certain cultures place a high value on self-control. The schema often runs in families. The underlying belief is that it is “bad” to show feelings, to talk about them or act on them impulsively, whereas it is “good” to keep feelings inside. People with this schema usually appear to be self-controlled, joyless, and grim. In addition, as a result of a reservoir of unexpressed anger, they are frequently hostile or resentful.
Well, yeah. My dad loved me, he still does, I know he does, but he was the product of an unmedicated bipolar mother and a violently alcoholic father with a military upbringing. Growing up my dad was always very loving, I remember a lot of hugs, and the pictures of me sleeping on his chest, but anytime my emotions got the better of me or I had a tantrum or frustration, it was always: STOP! Even when my grandmother died when I was 7 years old I couldn’t allow myself to cry in front of anyone. I was 7 years old. Crying, sadness, fear, all feel shameful to me.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that this kind of emotional inhibition would lend itself to my hostility and resentfulness.
People with the Emotional Inhibition schema often become romantically involved with partners who are emotional and impulsive. We believe this is because there is a healthy part of them that wants in some way to let the Spontaneous Child inside of them emerge. When inhibited people marry emotional people, the couple sometimes becomes increasingly polarized over time. Unfortunately, sometimes the partners begin to dislike each other for the very qualities that first attracted them: The emotional partner scorns the reserve of the inhibited one, and the inhibited partner disdains the intensity of the emotional one.
Unsurprising to me, this is what drew me to Evil-Ex. Growing up believing that it was not acceptable to express my emotions, being different was frowned upon (though I actively rebelled against this – I still felt the social and personal pressure that people did not approve of my life style), acting out in a crowd was not ok, and having just received my graduate degree from a highly structured engineering program, I was emotionally repressed beyond measure.  … Evil-Ex was the embodiment of emotional enablers. When we were together we were flashy and creative. He was loud and the center of the party. He used to tell me my cool head was the perfect balance for his hot heart. In the end though we both highly resented each other. He had no concept of consequences or conscience. I was afraid to lose myself to passion, even though I wanted to. In a way I’m still looking for this. I look for people that can draw me out. That are more emotional, more social, than I am.
Goals of Treatment
The basic goal of treatment is to help people become more emotionally expressive and spontaneous. Treatment helps people learn how to appropriately discuss and express many of the emotions they are suppressing. People learn to show anger in appropriate ways, engage in more activities for fun, express affection, and talk about their feelings. They learn to value emotions as much as rationality, and to stop controlling the people around them, humiliating others for expressing normal emotions, and feeling shame about their own emotions. Instead, they allow themselves and others to be more emotionally expressive.
Part of my problem is that it’s not that I just have a problem expressing my emotions. I have a hard time determining what I’m feeling at all. When I’m stressed out I tend to detach from my emotional state. It’s impossible to express how you’re feeling when you aren’t able to determine what it is you’re feeling in the first place.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Behavioral strategies are directed at helping people discuss and express both positive and negative emotions with significant others, and engage in more activates for fun.
Experiential work can enable people to access their emotions. By considering a situation from youth or childhood you can look at how a parent or caregiver suppressed emotional needs. As an adult it is possible to confront the parent and encourage the inner child to express their real feelings such as anger and love.  This can also be done with current and future situations.
Cognitive strategies help the person accept the advantages of being more emotional, and thereby make the decision to fight the schema. The process of fighting the schema is about seeking a balance on a spectrum of emotionality rather than as all-or-nothing. The goal is not for people to flip to the other extreme and become impulsively emotional; rather, the goal is for people to reach a middle ground.
I already do this. I flip from all one to all the other with no middle ground. I’m all logic, or all passion. At work I know my demeanor is pretty inflexible. I joke around but my humor is pretty dry. If I’m at work, hanging out with a group of people, it’s nearly impossible to ruffle me emotionally. If you put on music and I lose myself in the rhythm to dance, or if I’m having sex, there’s no left brain, I’m all emotion and heat.
Cognitive strategies can also help people evaluate the consequences of expressing their emotions. People with this schema are afraid that, if they express their emotions, something bad will happen. Often, what they fear is that they will be humiliated or made to feel ashamed. It is absolutely possible the see that it is possible to use good judgment about expressing emotions, so that this is not likely to happen, and allows them to feel more comfortable and willing to experiment.
This is definitely my problem. Especially when it comes to showing any kind of fear or sadness. I cannot, CANNOT, show vulnerability. When my co-worker told us he was leaving another male colleague said to me, “You and me can sit down and have a good cry together when he finally leaves.”
I responded with, “Please, I don’t cry.”
“No, never.”  I joke about having my tear ducts removed. I laugh and say things like, please, I’m practically a robot, tears would rust my system.
I do not come across as soft. I am strong and independent and a little insensitive. This is an image I cultivate especially for work. I’m afraid if I show “girly” emotions I will be judged as weak and my credibility will be destroyed and I won’t be taken seriously. Or someone will see this display of weakness which will allow them to believe they can try to take advantage of me. Or it will highlight the fact that “I’m not one of the guys”, different, an outsider. I hate it when the guys at work make a point of mentioning I’m a girl. It compounds the fact that I am out of place. Showing these softer emotions will drive the rift further.
There are a wealth of potential behavioral role plays and homework assignments. People can practice discussing their feelings with other people, appropriately expressing both positive and negative feelings, playing and being spontaneous, and doing activities designed for fun. Working with the partner can be useful. It can help to encourage both the person and the partner to express feelings in constructive ways.  Sometimes it also helps for the person to design tests of their negative predictions, writing down what they predict will happen if they express their emotions, and comparing it to what actually happens. In this way they can see that their fears will not become real.
Special Problems With This Schema
When people have been emotionally inhibited for virtually their entire lives, it is hard for them to begin acting differently. Expressing emotions feels so foreign to people with this schema – it is so contrary to what feels like their true nature – that they experience great difficulty doing it.
I’m not completely emotionally inhibited, especially if my anger gets the best of me, but I know I have a problem expressing emotions in a healthy manner. Even a pleasant emotion like when people do nice things for me, things I should be happy about I don’t feel happy. I appreciate what people do but I don’t attach an emotion to it. However I know that people expect to see an emotional response so I often affect what I think they need to see. I have this weird juxtaposition of knowing what I should feel, not actually feeling, but believing I should display it. It makes working in my head a little confusing sometimes.  
I’ve been working on this though. I think my actions tend to mismatch my words. I talk a tough game. When I’m one on one with a significant other though, I snuggle in close. It’s like I have a face I show the outside world, and one that only the people very closest to me can see.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why Bother Reading This? Nothing Helps Anyways - Negativity/Pessimism

Happy Monday! Ok, maybe it’s more like, Monday! ::grumble grumble::  It is what it is I guess.

Back to the Schema of things. We’re getting into the final Domain: Over vigilance and Inhibition Domain.  I think this one is my favorite. And by favorite I mean, the one that I have the most problems in.

Typical Presentation of the Schema
These people are negativistic and pessimistic. They display a pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life, such as pain, death, loss, disappointment, betrayal, failure, and conflict, while minimizing the positive aspects. In a wide range of work, financial, and interpersonal situations, they have an exaggerated expectation that things will go seriously wrong. Patients feel vulnerable to making disastrous mistakes that will cause their lives to fall apart in some way – mistakes that might lead to financial collapse, serious loss, social humiliation, being trapped in a bad situation, or loss of control. They spend a great deal of time trying to make sure they do not make such mistakes and are prone to obsessive rumination. Their “default position” is anxiety. Typical feelings include chronic tension and worry, and typical behaviors include complaining and indecision. Patients with this schema can be difficult to be around because, no matter what one says, they always see the negative side of events. The glass is always half empty.
This “default position” of anxiety is definitely me. My medication has lessened the expression of this a lot but before it was just, horrendous. I don’t complain much at all, I feel like this would make me look weak so I have a definite attitude of dealing with my shit myself, but I have a really hard time making decisions. I’m always afraid that I’m going to make the wrong choice; if I had done something a different way it would have turned out better, if I’d taken a different approach the outcome would be A, B, C, or D, E, F, G,… if I choose this, what will someone think, or would they like something else better, or which way of doing things will give me the optimized benefit… but there are so many choices how do I know which one to pick?!? If I choose wrong me/someone could be disappointed, I won’t look my best, I’ll be judged poorly, I’ll be made fun of, it’s all over the place. Sometimes it’s not even a concrete worry, just an underlying tension that “I have to do this right” but how can you be sure which way is the ‘right way’?
I think this boils down to one simple fact: I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust myself to make good decisions.  I’ve made so many bad decisions that have lead to some really tragic results that I’m positive these things will happen again, and  again.
Treatment strategies depend on how the therapist conceptualizes the origins of the schema, which is primarily learned through modeling. In this case, the schema reflects a depressive tendency toward negativity and pessimism that the patient learned from a parent. The patient internalized the parent’s attitudes as a mode.
A second origin is a childhood history of hardship and loss. In this case, people are negativistic and pessimistic because they experienced so much adversity early in life. This is a more difficult origin to overcome. The people, often at a young age, lost the natural optimism of youth. Many of these people need to grieve for past losses. When personal misfortune is the origin of the schema, all of the treatment strategies are important.
I moved around when I was little, and lost all contact with my earliest friends. Then when we settled down and I reformed friendships they moved away, never to be seen from again. Or I would befriend people that were unpleasant and unreliable and be hurt because of it…. This happened a lot. And I mean A LOT. I absolutely expect people want something from me when they try to get close to me. I absolutely do not believe that people will have my best interest in mind. This I think couples with the Mistrust/Abuse schema a bit though. Just because I worry about it, doesn’t mean I’m not justified, right?
Cognitive techniques can help patients see that negative events in the past do not predict the occurrence of negative events in the future.  < ------- Important to Remember
Alternatively, the schema might be an over compensation for the Emotional Deprivation schema. The patient complains in order to get attention or sympathy.
For some people, this may have a biological component and origin, perhaps related to obsessive-compulsive disorder or dysthymic disorder. These people might benefit from a trial of medication.
For me this is also likely because I have a Major Depressive mood disorder. It’s hard to look on the bright side of life when everything is always so grey and cloudy.
Goals of Treatment
The basic goal is to help people predict the future more objectively, that is, more positively. Some research suggests that the healthiest way to view life is with an “illusory glow”, that is, as slightly more positive than is realistic. A negative view does not appear to be as healthy or adaptive. Perhaps this is because, generally speaking, if one expects things to go wrong and is accurate, one does not feel much better. It has not helped very much to imagine the worst. It is probably healthier to go through life expecting things to go well – as long as one’s expectations are not so at odds with reality that one constantly has major disappointments.
This is how I know I have a problem here because I think this is silly. If you have a negative outlook that you’re not going to set yourself up for disappointment. If you expect the worst and things turn out well, that’s great! If you expect the worse and it happens, at least you’re prepared. Right? I think it would make me more sad to go around hoping for the best all the time and then being let down when things didn’t turn out so great. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of hope for things, but they’re things that I’m actively working on and feel a sense of control about.
It is not realistic to expect people to become carefree and optimistic; but at least they can move away from the extreme negative end toward a more moderate position. Some signs that people are recovering from this schema are they worry less frequently, have a more positive outlook, stop constantly predicting the worst outcome and obsessively ruminating about the future. They are no longer focused so obsessively on trying to avoid making mistakes. Rather, they make a reasonable effort to avoid mistakes, and focus more on fulfilling emotional needs and following their natural inclinations.

Signs say "No"

I am famous for my endless ruminations and scenario creations. I work myself up into a fury over conversations and events that have never actually happened. I let my imagination run away with the worst outcomes for potential, but improbable, situations. It’s so stupid. I’ll start out having a normal conversation with someone (all in my head), and quickly something happens and the worst possible scenario happens. I hear the fight, I feel how I’ve been wronged, I feel how I’ll be hurt, how the other person will neglect what I need, and before I know it I’m pissed off and upset over something that never even happened! Productive? No, not even a little.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Many cognitive techniques can be helpful: Identifying cognitive distortions, examining the evidence, generating alternatives, using flash cards, conducting dialogues between the schema-driven and the healthy sides. The therapist helps people make predictions about the future and observe how infrequently their negative expectations come true.  It’s important to learn how to self-monitor negative, pessimistic thinking, and practice looking at their lives more objectively, based on logic and empirical evidence.
When people have a history of negative events, cognitive techniques are helpful to analyze these events and learn to distinguish the present and future from the past. If a past, negative event was controllable, it is possible to work together to correct the problem so that it does not happen again. If the event was not controllable, then the event has no bearing on the future. Logically, there is no basis for pessimism about a future event, even if the person has experienced uncontrollable negative events in the past.
This is where I’m struggling the most. Most of my negativity and pessimism revolve around people and my relationships. If it’s just something I’m setting out to do, a goal, whatever, I’m confident in my own abilities. But other people, relationships, are not predictable. They often do not turn out well. They turn around, they change, they become destructive, they want something from me,… people are too volatile. I’m too volatile. I suppose it doesn’t help that those negative events from my past keep seeming to reappear in my present. When something happens over and over it seems like something that should be kept in the front of your mind in order to gauge future events if you’re trying to make different decisions.  It also makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong because if things keep happening over and over, the logical conclusion is that I’m doing something to invite these kinds of people into my life. Yeah they’re behavior may be wrong, but something about me allowed them into my world. That’s a problem that needs some investigating.
If the schema is serving a protective function, cognitive techniques can help challenge the idea that it is better to assume a negative, pessimistic perspective, so that they are not disappointed. This idea is usually incorrect: If people expect something to go wrong, and it does go wrong, they do not feel that much better having worried about it; if they expect something to go right and instead it goes wrong, they do not feel that much worse. Whatever they gain by anticipating negative outcomes does not outweigh the cost of living day-to-day with chronic worry and tension.
Ah, yes, as mentioned previously I definitely have internalized this. My Detached Protector is probably my most prominent mode. In theory I can see how this would work if you had a discrete number of events to worry about. But for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, especially in relationships, every moment can have its own unique worry. We ruminate and think about all of them and how things can go wrong. One, you’re not disappointed, or at least the blow is lessened, but two, you’re prepared for any outcome so it doesn’t take you by surprise. If you think about how things can turn out, it’s not as big of a shock.
Instructing people not to complain to others can be a helpful behavioral homework assignment. When the schema is an overcompensations for the Emotional Deprivation schema, it’s important to teach people to ask others more directly to meet their emotional needs in relationships.  Without any conscious awareness, they complain as a means of getting people to nurture them.. The reason that the chronic complaining we see in these people is so unresponsive to logical persuasion and evidence to the contrary is because the core issue is emotional deprivation: People are complaining to gain nurturance and empathy, not because they want practical solutions or advice. The self-defeating aspect of their complaining is that, after a while, other people get fed up with the complaining and become impatient or avoid them. Nevertheless, in the short run, the complaining often wins people sympathy and attention. If they learn to ask more directly for caring rather than seeking it through complaining, then they can begin to meet their emotional needs in a healthier way.
Limiting the time spent worrying by scheduling “worry time” is a behavioral strategy that may help as well. First you need to pay attention to when you start worrying, and then actively put it aside until a designated time set aside specifically for worrying.
I’ve had this suggested to me before.
Often people with this schema have lives oriented around survival rather than pleasure. Life is not about getting “good things” – it is about preventing “bad things”. It’s important to begin scheduling activities that are enjoyable, which will also help ease the amount of worrying done.
I feel like I spend my life seeking out “good things”, by which I mean good people and relationships, but at the same time, because I have no illusions that things can turn out badly I also want to prevent all the possible “bad things” at the same time. I want good things, but I’m afraid to let them in. Block.  
Special Problems with This Schema
This is often a difficult schema to change. Often, patients cannot remember a time when they did not feel pessimistic, and cannot imagine feeling otherwise.
There can be a lot of secondary gain for the schema if the person receives attention fro complaining. It’s important to alter these contingencies as much as possible.
When the schema is hard to change as a result of a history of extremely negative life events, it is often helpful for people to grieve for past losses. Genuine grieving can relieve the pressure to complain. Grieving helps patients separate the present, where they (presumably) are safe and secure, from the past, where they underwent traumatic loss or damage.
Grieving is important. It’s something that I’m very bad at though. I bottle. I hold things in. I pretend things don’t bother me or affect me enough to have to grieve them.
I’m still having a hard time remembering that negative events in the past do not predict the occurrence of negative events in the future.  Sure they may not predict them, but I’m so guarded and have such a need to protect myself that I expect them, and at the very least I need to look out for them. Being positive and having a more optimistic outlook is great and all, but self-preservation is important too. I think my Therapist would say there is a difference between healthy self-preservation and thinking the world is out to get you. She’d be right. But I’m still paranoid. I guess I still need to work on this one.

I still think I'm a Realist.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Memoirs on a Sunday - Casino

I’ve been completely lost in my own mind today. For once in a very long time I was actually glad to have woken up alone. Which is so disappointing at the same time, because I really love waking up to someone, especially Tech Boy as of late.  


I’m about ready to run from whatever it is that we’re doing here. 

As I mentioned earlier this week Tech Boy wanted to take me out of state this weekend. He took me to one of his favorite casinos. I’ve never gambled before (no, never), and it’s something that he’s really into. He was excited to share the experience and introduce me to the whole scene.
Friday night he came over. He suggested I make dinner. I found this amusing but also had a mini panic attack because I hadn’t had time to shop or prepare a menu. If I was nice to myself I would have just told him to get take out. But he likes my cooking and I’m incapable of saying no.  So I prepared my Potato-Gorgonzola Soup and Steak strips sautéed in a Red Wine sauce with Rosemary, garlic, and shallots. 

We spent most of the night just cuddled up on the couch watching some great movies. Then to bed to make sure we woke up early to get on the road. I love sleeping with him. He wraps himself around me in such a magnificently luxurious way; a blanket of lust and affection entwined around my body. 

So we woke up early, feeling a little frisky, but still out of bed on time to get everything together. I found it absolutely adorable when he whistled at me as I walked out of the bedroom after getting dressed. 
So we got on the road, hopped a ferry, then a bus, and he introduced me to his love of casinos.
His tradition starts at Roulette. He had me pick the bets. Throughout the night we played Roulette only 3 times. We won each time. 

We had a cliché couple minutes at the slots. Boring. 

But we spent most of the day running the black jack tables.

Frankly, I’m not a gambler. Money doesn’t mean much to me, but I also don’t care to throw it away randomly. Gambling doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 

Oh yeah. And we drank. We drank a lot. We started with beer on an empty stomach, added a touch of food and then just kept on drinking.  Eventually I had to switch to hard liquor (“had to”, I know, haha) because my stomach just isn’t that big and I can’t fit a ton of beer.  < ----- My life is hard. Throughout the fun of having him teach me how to play black jack… which is surprisingly more complicated than just trying to count to 21… we talked a lot. 

My spider senses started tingling like mad.

We’re such different people. We’re both engineers, we both like metal music…. But that’s about it. As opposed to me and Friend, who I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that I had more in common with. Srsly, we don’t even have to speak and we still know what the other wants to do because we think so similarly. 

I just, don’t think I can do this. One of the conversations we had revolved around mental health. He has no idea of my issues, my background, or my mental health. We got on the subject of depression and medication in our drunken ramblings. He actually said to me, that medication for things like depression is a detriment to society because it’s allowing the perpetuation of a defective gene. WTF?!? The night before we watched a program on Steven Hawking’s ideas of time travel. Steven Hawking has a few more difficulties than depression and yet, one of the most brilliant minds in the world. Are you fucking kidding me? You’re seriously going to tell me that people are better off  without medication because it increases the chance that they won’t propagate the species, or will propagate it with a "defective" gene?   He specifically mentioned bipolar too and I about flipped the fuck out (which I didn’t). I did tell him he had better be careful b/c my sister is bipolar and telling me that medication to help her is a detriment to society is ridiculous. I felt compelled to find some kind of middle ground though and told him I believed it was entirely dependent on the person that was affected. My sister is a beautiful, amazing person that works to help people that are so much less fortunate than her. Friend’s wife, who is EXTREMELY bipolar, is one of the worst people I’ve ever met in my life and I hope she dies in a fire. It has nothing to do with the mental disorder, it has everything to do with their personality and the kind of person they are. Despite the problems that you are faced with, what really matters is how you cope and work with what you’re given. 

Problem: I’m diagnosed Major Depressive. This is not the worst of my issues. Nor is it my sole issue. How the fuck am I supposed to trust that he will accept the fact that I’m more than what he perceives? Forget my depression, how the hell would I explain that I’m Borderline? Dollars to donuts he doesn’t have a clue what it even is. 

He’s also clearly the kind of guy that just wants to “hang out”. He hasn’t had a ‘girlfriend’ since he was like 12 years old. Can you say absolute lack of an ability to commit? I sure can. This is exactly the kind of guy that will drive me to the edge. I know if I get attached to him it’ll drive me to insanity and back. I’ll want someone that actually wants to be with me more than anyone, and he’ll never give me that. I doubt he has any clue what he even wants. I’m positive of that in fact, because he doesn’t think about those kinds of things. His entire philosophy in life is sort of like, ‘who cares, take it as it goes’. He doesn’t overthink anything, which is awesome, but also doesn't actually  think about anything at all. Which means he has no thoughts about where he wants us to be, other than he enjoys doing what we’re doing. 

Sure, he kind of went out of his way to bring me out to share his favorite experience. I know he likes me, I know he enjoys hanging out with me.  He has absolutely no idea how to treat a woman. At all. 

One of the conversations we had was about how to treat people. He knows I’ve had abusive relationships in the past, because I’ve hinted at some bad relationships, though I’ve thus far refused to go into detail. He said he was raised to treat people well. He doesn’t understand how someone can treat someone else abusively, what would the point in that be? He was raised different. However he also believes things like abuse is a 1st world problem. In the grand scheme of things someone that’s starving on the streets, hasn’t eaten in 4 days, has bigger problems so it’s something to keep in mind, for perspective when you’re worrying about things like abuse. 

Seriously? I mean, really? Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah not having food or the ability to eat or have shelter for days is tragic. That’s not a question, but that doesn’t negate the fact that abuse is traumatizing and not something that’s ok.  

He just lives in an entirely different world than I do. He has no clue what dealing with this stuff is like, will never know, and therefore I doubt his ability to sympathize with anything I’ve had to deal with in my life. How do you be with someone when you have zero faith in their ability to empathize with you? Or at the least step out of their own limited little box and and open their mind to a different perspective of experience?

I want to run screaming.

All night he called me his good luck charm. By the time we left he’d won a significant amount of money, we were toasty liquored up, and I was ready to curl up in bed. My entire perception of him changed. 

I know that I’ve gone from an all hopeful and lovey (although cautious) outlook, to… SPLIT… this guy is bad news for me. But does that mean that I’m wrong? 

One thing my Therapist says about me all the time is how perceptive I am of people. Borderlines in general tend to be very aware of how other people are…we’re hypersensitive, in fact. I don’t think I’m wrong here. 

It kills me. I love sleeping with him. Curling up with him, having his arms around me, his lips on mine… I could lose myself in it easily. I’m trying to make better choices for myself though. We’re very different people and frankly, he’s had something of a privileged upbringing that hasn’t lent him any kind of idea of what people deal with in the real world. 

I want someone that wants to be with me. Without question. He has no clue what he wants. He just wants to enjoy things day to day. I don’t know if I can do that. Not without some hint that I’m of more importance to you than what’s for dinner tonight. 

Run. My instincts want me to run. Run fast.

I think he may have picked up on it a bit. Driving around I often put my hand on his leg. At various points on the ride home I would take my hand back, to respond to a text or whatever and not replace it right away. He would reach over and grab my thigh, leave his hand there, entwine his fingers through mine, hold my hand. I just, get mixed signals from him. 

I feel so detached. I want so much more. I look forward to going into work so much, but now… I don’t know. 

Oh, and the guys that I work with, apparently have me on such a high pedestal it’s ridiculous. One of the other techs is apparently crushing on me hard and basically hopes that I’ll be the actual replacement for his wife. Um, no. They notice me. They notice everything I wear. In general I tone it down big time. I wear color, I wear the kind of clothes the guys wear (This is part of the mask I don for work each day)… but the few times I haven’t… oh yeah, they notice. But I’m solidly one of the group. They adore having me around. I’m not one of the guys though. That much is so clearly obvious.  

::sigh:: They’re great guys. I don’t even have to try to seduce them though and they’re smitten. How do you trust people that you’re sure have fantasized about getting you into bed? I can’t deal. I’m losing hope in people. I’m losing hope in dating. I’m really losing hope in men. I know this isn’t fair. I do. But my experiences have been so wildly varied, and yet, so bad, it’s hard to believe that they’ll ever come out good. 

What’s a girl to do?

I really need advice. If you have any, I'd appreciate it.

Mind to Music

You will not find me
I am safe in here
I am where I want to be
So leave me now in peace....

Sancta Terra ~ Epica

A place which I have searched a thousand times
To finally free myself
Forever wasn't ever long enough
I will refrain

I feel a passion washing over me
To shed the skin I’m in
This evolution will empower me
Now truth begins

And you will not find me
I am safe in here
I'm where I want to be

It's a place where a wish will be granted
Come, you'll see I'm right
It's a force that will live on within you
Dark as day is light
It's a place where your dreams will be slanted
And will always be
It's a force that was sent out to win you
Just you wait and see

Take one step closer to the borderline
Where night and day unite
This mortal coil I’ve gone and left behind
On holy soil

And you will not find me
I am safe in here
I'm where I want to be

It's a place where a wish will be granted
Come, you'll see I'm right
It's a force that will live on within you
Dark as day is light
It's a place where your dreams will be slanted
And will always be
It's a force that was sent out to win you
Just you wait and see

You will not find me
I am safe in here
I am where I want to be
So leave me now in peace

And you will not find me
I am safe in here
I'm where I want to be

It's a place where a wish will be granted
Come, you'll see I'm right
It's a force that will live on within you
Dark as day is light
It's a place where your dreams will be slanted
And will always be
It's a force that was sent out to win you
Just you wait and see
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