Friday, February 24, 2012

Stuff you never knew you didn't want to know!

Hello Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that this is not my Lucid Analysis –Trials in Therapy post. I skipped therapy yesterday. I was too run down and frankly I didn’t feel like complaining about work stress for an hour.

So instead, my dear bloggy friend ib over at the Habitual Hobbit has tagged me to answer a couple questions for him. Which I did! Get excited folks, I’m about to spill some completely irrelevant stuff about myself. I’ll probably do a real post later as well. Because frankly, there are bugs in my design software and it’s making me very frustrated. Ugh. Here we go!

1. Out of the different races of life in Lord Of The Rings, which do you prefer and why? (Answer carefully.)
a. Orc
b. Halfling
c. Elven
d. Human
e. Dwarven
I choose C. Because really, what female in their right mind wants to be a brainless grunting meat sack, a hairy footed shorty, or a battle happy bearded lady (Yes, even female dwarves have beards. Srsly, you can look it up). I’m already human, at least that’s the story I’m sticking to currently, so I’d like to try something different. I kind of want to be a Night Elf though, or something out of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Not these prim and prissy little glowy things with pointy ears. I wouldn’t mind having pointy ears though. Plus they usually have magic, a lot of ancient wisdom, and dexterity +15. Not much of a loss there. I may have overthought this. 

2. If today will be yesterday, and tomorrow will be today, What will tomorrow be when it is yesterday?
 Still, yesterday. In the past. A day to hope I didn’t fuck up to bad, but even if I did, something to recognize I can’t change, take my lessons learned, and continue on into the future. 

3. Do you consider yourself a writer or a person that places rather large words together to form a sentence, and thus, a story/post/epic?

I’ve never really thought about it. I suppose I do consider myself a writer. I try not to use words that are too large, though occasionally I fail rather spectacularly at this. I mean, I write. I engage in the acting of putting pen to paper, or type font to screen. My sentences usually make sense. Usually (< --- fragment). Yeah, I’m a writer.

4. If you happened upon a war and you had to take part in it, what would be your weapon of choice?
a. rifle
b. sword
c. slingshot
d. bow and arrow
e. dematializer
None of the above. My brain. And my terrifying mood swings. Do not make me angry. I’ll make The Hulk look like a toddler having a temper tantrum. Or maybe a light saber =)

5. If you were stuck on an island with no means of escape, and were given one wish, what would it be for?

Well if I’m to assume that wishing for my escape is off the list, and that wishing for more wishes is off the list, then I’d wish for someone to keep me company. A real live human being, of intelligence, humor, and comparable sex drive. Hey, it’s my wish, back off.
6. If you participated in the TV game show Fear Factor, where would you draw the line in regard to consuming odd "meals?"

I’m strict vegetarian for almost 19 years now. I’m not eating meat. I’m not eating bugs. Especially not live ones < ---- Oh yes, I’ve seen the show. $50,000 isn’t enough money to make me enjoy the thought of vomiting on television, which is what I’d do.
7. What is your favorite album of all time?

Ugh. I fail and picking favorites. There are too many different genres and styles of music. I like different things for different reasons. I’m into Metallica’s early work (up to the Black Album),Flogging Molly, Apocalyptica, The Dresden Dolls, Birthday Massacre, In Flames, Rasputina,  Collide, um, a bunch of other stuff, hmmmm, oh  the new SleighBells album is pretty kick ass. In conclusion, I think I have properly failed at answering this question in any relevant way.
8. What is your favorite movie of all time?

Yep, I still fail at picking favorites. Damn it. Let’s just start picking things shall we: STAR WARS Episodes IV-VI, Gremlins, The Princess Bride, the new Batman Series, Boondock Saints, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Labyrinth, NOT Donnie Darko (I f-ing hate that movie. Creepy as fuck. Yes, I believe this is relevant enough to note), Harry Potter (all of them), Black Swan, um…. Bloody hell. I srsly have a DVD  collection of over 800 movies and I can think of like a dozen movies? Where is my brain today? This’ll have to do.

9. Are you taking part in the 2012 A to Z Challenge this year? It may be the last one, depending on your answer for question 11.

I have no idea where to even find this challenge. Maybe I’ll do it on my other blog if you can point me in the right direction. Or left direction.

10. If, by chance, you were endowed with one super power, what would it be and why?
This might be a lame answer but I’d like to fly.

11. Do you believe that the Mayans are on to something concerning 12.21.12?

I think the Mayans probably ran out of room on their limited stone calendar and people today enjoy going bat shit about pretty much anything. Humans need drama. Even if it’s drama from thousands of years ago.

In conclusion…. I don’t follow directions very well. Like how I’m supposed to now think up 11 new questions and tag other people. I have unreasonable guilt about being able to pick some people over other people and imposing on another’s blog, so how about this: If you want to do 11 questions. These 11 questsion. Go ahead and do it. Then let me know so I can read them =)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stress Reduction in Borderline Personality Disorder

This doesn't actually help.

Stress! We got it. Now what are we supposed to do about it?

I’ll tell you one thing that doesn’t actually help: Alcohol. I’ve been drinking way more than I should. I’m pretty disgusted with myself actually. I’ve been pretty good lately and keeping it to just drinking on the weekends when Tech Boy and I go out or I’m hanging out with Roommate, but when things get even more stressful in my life than they usually are it’s pretty normal for me to pick up a bottle of wine. Sure it appears to make me feel better in the moment but is it actually helping? No, not at all. I’m more likely to Act Out and say things to people I never intended on saying. I’m less likely to monitor my caloric intake. I’m less likely to get good sleep – yeah alcohol may make you pass out early but it actually disrupts your sleep. And I’m very likely to feel like complete shit the next day when I actually need to function. I don’t drink enough to be hung over, but not getting enough sleep is one of the worst things ever for me. I need to get adequate amounts of sleep because proper sleep is one thing that actually has a very positive effect on my moods.

How to Reduce Stress Tip #1: Get enough sleep. When you’re stressed out, and finally have some down time in your evening, put on your pajamas and get into bed. Give yourself time and permission to get a good night’s rest. When your mind is well rested it’s easier to focus and function, thereby making it easier to deal with the stressors in your day to day life.

Tip #2: Get a little OCD. Take a page out of our fellow nutters handbook and start putting some order into your life. I’m a list person. I love to make lists. When everything I need to do is a jumbled concept in my mind it feels like this looming beast preparing to strike and I have no idea how to defend against it. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by something when you don’t have a solid plan of attack, or even a solid picture of what it is that needs to be done. Write it down. Prioritize. When you can actually point your finger at things that need to be done you can start making progress. And being able to cross something off that list when you are done, is pretty damn satisfying.

Tip #3: Create a schedule. This is an extension to Tip #2. Once you know what it is that you need to get done, give yourself a timeline and stick to it. Many of us live day-to-day and sort of fly by the seat of our pants. Sure it’s ‘living in the moment’, but it get also get pretty hectic and more than a little chaotic. We want to reduce chaos, and by extension; stress. Know what you need to get done during the day and make a plan.

Structure is very important for me, and I’m guessing many people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Structure imposes a stability to our lives that is something we desperately, desperately need, whether we admit it or not. Creating a structure gives me control of my day and my life. It creates a comforting certainty about what is going to happen in my day. Yeah, sometimes life throws you curveballs or new things pop up, so you need to be a little flexible. The beauty of creating your own structure, is that you can adapt it as things come up. As much as we would like it to be, life isn’t always predictable, so try not to be too rigid. I used to be intensely rigid, and actually obsessively compulsive, about sticking to my schedules. This just made me more anxious and made me feel like I had less control when things would alter my plans. I’m talking world ending, earth shattering panic attacks when things wouldn’t follow my carefully laid out schedule. This is also not healthy. We need to avoid allowing the things we use to reduce stress, create more.

Tip #4: Clean and organize your living space. The orderliness of my bedroom tends to reflect my mental state. If I’m calmer my room is immaculate and tidy, if I’m a mental mess, my room is a disaster.  Is it the loss of control of the immediate environment that makes my mind messy or my messy mind that makes my environment a health hazard? I don’t know, but what I do know is that when my room is neat and organized I feel a sense of calm. It’s like I have my own little sanctuary back. When it’s a mess; things aren’t where I want them to be, I can’t find the things that I need, I have to search for things which can make me late, my frustration levels rise and I end up making even more of a mess because I can get frantic about finding things that I NEED RIGHT NOW. Personally, I prefer the calm. Clutter is chaos.

Tip #5: Plan ahead. When you think about the upcoming days you can consider what you need in advance. If you make meals for you family every night, instead of running to the grocery every day, decide what you’re making at the beginning of the week and shop for things all at once. If your kids usually run late in the morning, pick out outfits the night before and pack their lunch before bed. In short; make things as simple as possible for yourself. Reduce the number of things  you have to do by consolidating the time you spend doing them. You’ll have more time to sit back and de-stress.

Tip #6: Just say ‘No’. If you’re like me, this is often a problem for you. Telling people ‘no’, even if I’m overwhelmed by my own priorities, often makes me really anxious. I begin to worry about what they’ll think of me, what they’ll think of my ability to handle my job, my work, all things that make me worry ceaselessly and often pointlessly. However, when you say ‘yes’ to every request thrown your way you allow the stress and frustration of all these burdens begin to pile up and overwhelm you. This leads to personal panic within yourself (at least it does for me) and often a resentment towards the other people for not realizing how much you already have going on and adding to your load. It might not be practical or possible to say ‘no’ to everything, but try saying ‘no’ to some small things that you don’t really have time for, or even a social obligation that you have no interest in. Instead of waiting until the frustration and resentment builds to the boiling point, just say, “I’m sorry I’m really swamped myself right now. I’m going to have to pass this time.” It’s tactful and lets them know that in the future you can still be relied on.  You have limits as a human being, it’s good to respect them.

Tip #7: Get moving. By which I mean, get a little exercise into your day. Exercise increases your energy, your clarity of mind, and your ability to deal with stress. When you cultivate a physically stronger body you also cultivate a psychologically stronger mind. Mind and body are not separate entities. We are one cohesive unit. Taking care of one, affects the other. I know it’s often hard to take an hour out of your day to go to the gym, but taking 20 minutes to walk around the block or do an at home yoga video is often much easier. You can even do these things with your kids.

Tip #8: Feed your mind. What you put into your body is as important as what you do with it. If you feed it sugar and junk and fat, it’s going to be reflected in your mental state. You’ll have sugar spikes that bring you high and then crash you down. Our moods are already volatile, we don’t need sugar induced mood swings as well. Healthy, fresh food allows you to gain all the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs while maintaining a nice even sugar level. This will help reduce the fluxuations you feel. This is also where reducing your alcohol and stimulant intake comes into play. I’m making a very firm decision to limit my alcohol consumption.

Tip #9: Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know, I know, I have a very hard time being gentle with myself and this is something I definitely need to work on.  It takes courage to allow yourself to be imperfect. Even though we know everyone as humans isn’t, we often feel the pressure that we should be. It’s ok to be human and accept the limitations that go along with it.

Tip #10: Ask for help if you need it. I have a hard time asking for help, but sometimes I’m just not capable of doing everything on my own, or I don’t know everything about something yet. Instead of allowing the feeling of being overwhelmed crush you, take action to relieve the burden. Asking for help relieves some of the pressure from you and cultivates an active relationship with someone else. Win-win.

Tip #11: Take a break. Do something fun. Try something new. Revisit a hobby you enjoy. Sit and talk with a friend. Sit by yourself in quiet for a few moments. Pamper yourself a little. Life is full of little pleasures. It’s important to remember that this is the only life you get, and you are allowed to enjoy yourself. Take advantage of the things that bring happiness into your life.

Tip #12: Know your stressors. Just like it’s important to know our triggers, it’s important to recognize the things, situations, and people that stress us out. Make a list, write them down. Kick out the ones that you don’t need in your life and work to reduce the amount of time to spend on the one’s that are necessary.

Helping yourself is very important. I know I could definitely work on some of these way more than I do. It’s hard to remember all of this stuff. Incorporating even a few of these things over time can really help reduce that stress induced panic and make your life more manageable. Not all stress is bad. It can be motivating, it allows you to be engaged in your life… but excessive stress, which those of us with BPD often have, is something we should really work to avoid.

What do you do to reduce the stress in your life?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stress and Borderline Personality Disorder

Stress affects everyone. You, me, your dog, your office chair; everyone. How stress affects you personally will also vary. People with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to have a reduced tolerance to stress. Which is unfortunate because we tend to feel stress at an elevated level. Emotional stress compounds on mental stress compounds on our bodies’ ability to physically cope with the day. The magnitude of stress we feel is often like a weight crushing down on our shoulders, making it difficult to even sit up, let alone get out of bed. I find this is also common for people suffering from depression.

Stress has a very significant, if not dramatic, effect on our moods. People with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to have pretty volatile mood swings and are emotionally reactive to begin with. Even your regular old emotionally normative person will experience a shift in their mood and levels of happiness depending on their levels of stress. Tempers get shorter; tears are a little closer to the surface. You can imagine how this would be magnified for someone with BPD. Currently my medication seems to have done wonders for my anxiety levels, but previously it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to dissolve into an inconsolable panic attack puddling on my bathroom floor. That mental pressure can physically crush you down making it impossible to bear the burdens this world continually piles on top of you. Where we might have been able to control the outward expression of our internal turmoil before, having to redirect our energy to contain the buildup of pressure creates leaks in our external fa├žade. The anger starts to slip out. The sharpness of our words. The ability to contain our frustration. One thing after another, another voice, another request, another this, another that, hypersensitivity to even more situations abound and it all seems to start coming at you faster and faster before you’ve been able to get anything in order, until your mind feels pulled in too many directions dizzy and reeling and finally, you snap. Stress can have a very negative impact on our moods and the control we try to maintain over them; making mood swings even worse. This could come out as angry, frustrated shouting, breaking things, picking fights, dissolving into tears of helplessness, or even manifest physically and present as migraines or illness.

We live in a high pressure, fast paced world these days.  You’d think with the advent of our technological progress it would make our lives easier. In fact it just means that we need to accomplish more in less time. Something doesn’t seem right there. There’s a lot of fear these days that if you don’t measure up, don’t take on massive amounts of responsibility you’ll be judged harshly and punished; lose your job, suspended, or just talked about behind the water cooler. Cue the terror of judgment and potential loss. Fear of a potentially huge life change is debilitating and can drive anyone, let alone someone with BPD, to increase their stress levels instead of working to reduce them.

This can impact someone with BPD in an even more significant way than most because we tend to take the weight of the world onto our shoulders, including the weight of other people’s worlds onto our shoulders. Many of us are ‘people pleasers’, feel guilty for saying ‘no’, and want to relieve the pressure felt by those we care about so we take on their burdens as well. Whether it’s good for us or not. Which it usually isn’t.

Am I saying helping people isn’t good? Of course not. Helping people in need is great, as long as it doesn’t tax us beyond our ability to cope with our own stress.

If you can’t take care of yourself first, how can you really help someone else? The problem is that when I see someone that I care about in need of help, I feel guilty for not offering my assistance, even if I know I can’t manage to take on any more. The guilt leads to fear that they will think we don’t care, or that we can’t be relied upon. They’ll look to someone else for help. Make a stronger connection elsewhere. Not need us anymore, and we might lose them. This may not sound entirely rational, but I know the thought is there. I actually get jealous when people ask someone else for help sometimes; even when I know I can’t possibly take on more. It’s a conflict of what I need versus what I fear. Fear often wins out and I’ll do what I can to relieve someone else’s stress, making things worse for myself in the process.

I feel like I should have Yoda saying something like, Stress leads to Guilt, Guilt leads to fear, Fear leads to Abandonment…. Abandonment leads to the Dark Side! Geezus I’m a geek.

I try to remind myself that it’s counterproductive to take on other people’s stress to the extent I feel compelled to. We may be helping them in short term, but in the home stretch we’re disabling their ability to take care of themselves and learn to deal with stress in a productive way (This applies to us as well when we continually reach for others to lift our burdens!). For many people with BPD this isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. If someone comes to rely on you in order to deal with their stress, then they’re less likely to leave you. If you’ve made yourself an integral part of their coping mechanism then the disadvantages of not having you in their life are glaring. It’s one more way we act to not be abandoned.

A couple things. This may sound like a backhanded sort of ‘help’. We’re not really helping you, for you, but we’re helping you, to gain something for us. In a way this is true. But if you weren’t someone we cared about in the first place we wouldn’t feel this need to do whatever we can to keep you in our lives. Also, all help, no matter how altruistic it may seem, has some benefit to the person doing the helping. Even if it’s just a feeling that you did something good, there’s benefit to both people, and a bit of selfish gain.

Clearly there’s a whole lot of conflicting feelings going on here. This is why it’s SO HARD for us to make such seemingly simple decisions; like taking care of ourselves first. If this, then that. If this other thing, then potentially a million hazardous pits filled with snakes to bite us in the ass. I’ve been watching too much Indiana Jones lately I think. Anyways.

In conclusions: Stress is especially bad for people with a Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s essential to work on countering the stressors in our lives as much as possible. This will decrease the panic and anxiety that we are constantly consumed with, and make us much less grumpy, and therefore more pleasant to be around. See! Taking care of ourselves, is in actuality, taking care of those around us! Maybe that thought will help with some of the nagging guilt at the back of your mind.

So how do you work to reduce those stress levels? Well, that can be easier said than done…..

Yoda's pretty smart.... for a Jedi.

(Also, I’ve noticed my inbox has a lot of letters in it. I’m incredibly stressed out currently – hence the subject material – so I need to prioritize my time, but I will get to them all! I promise.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline

“People think they know you. They think they know how you’re handling a situation. But the truth is no one knows. No one knows what happens after you leave them, when you’re lying in bed or sitting over your breakfast alone and all you want to do is cry or scream. They don’t know what’s going on inside your head — the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and guilt. This isn’t their fault. They just don’t know. And so they pretend and they say you’re doing great when you’re really not. And this makes everyone feel better. Everybody but you.”

William H. Woodwell Jr.
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