Friday, June 29, 2012

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy : Wounds and Healing

Therapy started with talking about Roommates impending move. This Saturday is it. Every time I try to talk about it I start to choke up. The apartment is full of boxes and it makes me sad. Therapist gave me this perspective that I really relate to: She said I’m one of her favorite clients and she actually misses not seeing me every week now, but at the same time that means I’ve been in a more stable and comfortable place with my healing. So while she misses me, she’s also happy that I’m making so much progress for my future which makes her happy as well. This is something that Roommate needs to do for her and ultimately I want whatever makes Roommate happy. She’s such a wonderful person I can understand the need to take the next step in her life as it’s evolving. I also recognize that there is a selfish side of me that doesn’t want her to leave because I’m going to miss her and I’m worried about what will become of our friendship. I recognize that selfishness, but I’m not going to let it stand in either of our way. Therapist says this is a very mature attitude. Especially since Roommate has told me that she thinks this will actually make our friendship grow closer. That gives me some hope.

I’m worried though. I’m worried that with my object constancy issues I’ll lose my connection to her since we won’t see each other every day. I’ve internalized her and our friendship in a way that actually feels real to me. This doesn’t happen with many people. One of the reasons I internalized Friend so hard was because we were in almost constant contact. He was a constant presence in my life. I’m worried that when Roommate is no longer a part of my every day experience that this will be cause me to lose my hold on our connection. Therapist tells me that this comes from my abandonment wounds. I am going to try to look at this from a place of moving forward, not from a perspective of endings. Part of me still feels like she’s leaving me even though cognitively I can recognize that we will remain friends. The feeling is still there and I’m struggling to reconcile what I know and what I feel.

I’m also worried about Saturday because K and Twiggy will be involved in helping her move. I don’t think there any hostile feelings from them towards me, but I’m worried about how awkward it could be and how I’m supposed to act with them in my space. Therapist says to just be pleasant and civil and they’ll pick up on my energy and most likely respond in kind, as they did at the wedding. I guess we’ll just have to see. I’m trying not to dwell on it especially since I know I’m going to have a hard enough time as it is.

Better than a caterpillar in your eye. 
Fortunately. Something I’m trying very hard to keep in mind. Something that’s important to keep in mind. I’ve noticed quite often in my life, the anticipation is often so much worse than the actual event itself.  The fear of letting go, the fear of what will or won’t happen next, that buildup that sets my brain spinning down all the deep dark paths into the unknown… the things that never end up happening. The anticipation is worse, and what I fear never really comes to pass. In many ways, things have turned out better than I could have hoped for. I have to keep reminding myself that the runaway thoughts are not reality. I won’t know what will actually happen until it does. I also trust Roommate. That more than anything is important for me to keep in mind. It’ll be okay. It’ll be different. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be bad.

::deep breath::

We also did kind of a check up on how I’ve been gauging myself (since we moved to every other week). I’ve been writing more. And of course, this blog. It’s funny because I feel like the existence of this blog has bits of my neurosis in its creation as well. I am definitely impulsive, but I’m a bit compulsive as well. When something is brought to my attention I have to know EVERYTHING about it. Everything. It becomes a passion for me. Unique to this case it forces me to confront what I’m dealing with every day. I’m doing all of this research, all of this writing, relating my experience to the information I find, and it helps me in a very significant way by working on myself every day. Therapy for me is every day, not just actual sessions with Therapist. Therapist doesn’t like labels, but we talked about my being Borderline a lot and despite having all of these obstacles just how much progress I’ve made and how much I’ve accomplished on my journey to healing, how proud she is of me. I’m taking something very traumatic, painful, and often triggering, and turning it into something that helps me heal, and helps others heal as well. She’s very proud of what I’m doing. It’s funny for me, because I still feel like just one woman doing what I can get to feel better. Yet, I receive such wonderful feedback with those of you who leave comments here, or e-mail me with your stories and questions. It really does help me feel more connected and like I’m not suffering through these things alone, and I hope that’s a sentiment many of you can feel as well. There are a lot of us. You’re not alone.

Alright, let’s put that 4th wall back up.

So of course we talked about Tech Boy. I still don’t necessarily feel completely connected to him though I do care about him a lot. We have different personality types and I’m still struggling with the creativity thing, but on the other hand, he’s just so bleeding sweet to me and I definitely have a feeling of safety when I’m with him. It could be that I just need more time. It does take me an extraordinarily long time to really internalize most people, especially when I’m guarded against them in some ways emotionally. It could also be that since I am not dragging myself through an emotionally unobtainable and crazy making relationship I don’t have the rollercoaster of anxiety to propel myself off the emotional rail = what I interpret as romantic love. I’ve still struggling with understanding what a healthy loving relationship is. I think I’m in one, but it’s so different from what I’m used to it’s just, foreign. How sad.   

I mean, I still have things I don’t feel like I can tell him about but Therapist actually thinks that my conflict about being able to discuss my past problems and mental issues with Tech Boy could have been very positive for me. Instead of focusing on all the problems and being mired in the past, he keeps me present, working on the now so that we could develop a healthy relationship and really get to know each other. Get to know who each other are now, because I’m not the same person I used to be and I don’t need to constantly dwell on all of that. I’m still me, but I’m a healthier version of me.  

We also still need to work on my body-perception as well. Not surprising. I’m very triggered by stress and feeling out of control. When things feel beyond my control, I definitely take it out on myself and come down on myself in a way that really isn’t healthy. It’s not as punitive as it used to be. I don’t feel a compulsion to cut and I can go out in public now if I’m not having the best day, but I still catch myself talking to down to myself and feel a need to punish myself in some way but I don’t act on it. I do have days when I cancel plans and need to stay in, but it's nowhere near as often as it used to be. I’m really trying to work on stopping those feelings. I’m aware of when I’m slipping and even if I can’t always stop myself, I can take note of it. I try to remind myself that it’s not the end of the world. There’s always tomorrow and I can start again. It’s not a failure unless I quit completely and walk away. Bleh. I just can't see what's in the mirror properly. I have this need to be perfect for people, when no one really cares but me. My friends don't care what I look like, they love me for me. I have a problem connecting to my own identity properly and loving me for me too. 

But yeah. This week has been very hectic with all the packing and work being crazy. I’ve been a little unfocused because of all the change that’s about to happen. Wish me luck this weekend. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back from the Edge

Good Morning World! I’m going to do something today that I don’t usually do. I’m posting a video for you. It’s called “Back from the Edge”. It’s a lovely introduction and discussion about Borderline Personality and treating it. It’s relayed from the perspective of 3 people who have suffered with it, as well as from the foremost knowledgeable clinicians in the field including Marsha Linehan, John G. Gunderson, Dr. Wayne Fenton and more. It is a 48 minute video, but it packs a lot of useful information into those 48 minutes from a well informed and non-judgmental perspective; something I am quite grateful for. You know me, I wouldn’t post something that was in any way negative or stigmatizing. Hell, I even sent this to my mother. This is informative and hopeful, which is what I’m all about here @Beyond the Borderline Personality. So here it is:

“Back from the Edge”

As I was watching this a few things stuck out for me. I related to just about every single thing, but a few things were extra addressable for me personally.

Dr. Linehan calls it the I-Don’t-Fit-in-Disorder. The ultimate outsiders. Often times people with BPD try to conform to what they think other people want from them.

“{People with BPD} are a group of people that need other people to regulate them. Other people breathe life into them. If other people or on the verge of leaving them it can feel like a life or death situation. Like I don’t exist myself {without someone else}.”

One man talks about how he was trying to get dressed for work one morning and something small made him angry, like not being able to get his jacket off, and he just started ripping and tear at the closet. I can absolutely relate to how something so seemingly small can spark such an intense reaction. Most notably when I was in highschool I would become so frustrated if I couldn’t get my hair to lay perfectly I would become panicked and enraged. I would scream in frustration and even punch holes in the bathroom walls. As a result I got very good at spackeling and painting =/ Physical aggression, not against anybody, just things. People with BPD just respond much more sensitively to things. There’s a huge emotionally vulnerability factor.

Another woman said of people looking at her, “It felt like people’s eyes would have a physical effect on my body.” It still feels this way for me. It’s not as extreme as it used to be, but I still feel it constantly. It’s not quite as debilitating now. I would interpret that as if they were judging me. It takes conscious effort for me to say, no, they’re just looking at me.

I love the end. At the end it says BPD is often called the Good Prognosis Disorder because people can heal, people do heal, and there is hope to live a healthy and productive life. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quotes from the Borderline

“I know that pain is the most important thing in the universes. Greater than survival, greater than love, greater even than the beauty it brings about. For without pain, there can be no pleasure. Without sadness, there can be no happiness. Without misery there can be no beauty. And without these, life is endless, hopeless, doomed and damned.
Adult. You have become adult.” 

― Harlan Ellison, Paingod and Other Delusions

Perhaps this is why we have the occasional reprieve with the most glorious highs. When you battle with the deepest lows, become accustomed to the darkness, the occasional glimpse of light is like a beacon in the night. It's the spark that fires our hearts and keeps us going. Experiencing the lowest lows, we can appreciate the highest highs. But it doesn't stay there does it? Knowing how amazing the good can feel, it makes the fall that much further the next time we spiral down. Up and down, up and down. Breaking the cycle, maybe settling for some lower highs, but also achieving some higher lows. Life is never 100% even, but my hope is that it can be better more often than not. For the first time ever, I'm starting to actually experience that. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Originally I had a more educational post in mind for today, but this is what’s on my mind, and let’s face it, I’m gonna write about what I want to write about.

I always feel like when I start to make real progress towards a goal, I always manage to screw it up. There’s a definite trigger for me though. That trigger is: Giving myself, or accepting, credit for what I’ve accomplished.

As soon as I start to feel good about progress I’ve made, whether it’s from genuine self-validation or from outside appreciation, I almost instantly slip back a step or two or twenty. It’s like I feel I’ve earned the right to relax my diligence.

For example: I’ve been doing exceptionally well watching what I eat and getting high quality and effective workouts in every day. To the point where I woke up yesterday, looked in the mirror, and wasn’t disgusted by what I saw. In fact, I was becoming happy with the progress I was making. I even told Tech Boy how well I thought I’d been doing.

Then later that very same night: Sabotage. I was all alone. Depressed about my last few days living with Roommate and she hasn’t been around much at all. I had a few drinks (I haven’t been drinking almost at all lately!), ate way too much = beyond the strict regime I’ve set for myself and went to bed much too late for my body to get adequate rest. See? Sabotage. It really is. It’s clearly some kind of self-sabotage. Like subconsciously I don’t believe I deserve to feel good about myself. I just, don’t understand why I do this?

It happens with everything though. Work? I’ll make tremendous amounts of progress, be proactive and aggressive in my projects, start to feel good about the work I’ve done and BAM, it’s like I hit a mental wall. I feel so good that I feel like I’ve earned a reprieve to lean back for a minute. Except when I lean back I realize the railing is too short and I fall right over the edge from productive to utterly distracted and incapable of focusing.

I have a theory that it’s directly tied to my level of anxiety. When my anxiety is high, I push myself. I push myself hard. Anxiety is a great motivator which is one of the evolutionary reasons we developed the ability to be anxious in the first place. Yes, there really is advantage to anxiety. For those of us with an anxiety disorder though, it’s extreme beyond reason. However, receiving recognition lowers that level of anxiety. I lose that chemical motivation to push. I relax. I reset. In order for me to be productive again I have to wait for those anxiety levels to rise back to a properly high place. But in the mean time I feel like I’m lagging. I’ve lost so much progress and productivity. I’m disappointed and depressed by how weak I was. I lack the motivation to fight back until the problem has reach epic enough proportions that my anxiety is triggered.


It’s so frustrating and I get so down on myself. I have very specific goals that I want to reach and accomplish. I have the ability to reach to them. But I can’t manage to get out of my own way sometimes. It’s infuriating.

All I can do is:

-          Recognize the relapse. Take note of it. Acknowledge it.

-          Let it go.

-          Start Again. The very next day.

Letting it go is the hardest. I like to beat myself over my own head with my “failures”. Somewhere I still believe that I should be a superhuman cyborg that has the ability to be perfect with no flaws in my programming. I have to actively remind myself that I’m human. I have bad days. Everyone has bad days. But:

It’s just one day.

There’s always another.

It’s never too late to start again.

I need to remember to take a look at how I slipped up. Make note of it so that I can potentially avoid it in the future. If I can remember how it made me feel, the next time I want to engage that behavior I’ll be less likely to continue with it. A lot of my problem comes from not being able to hold onto how I feel about things. I forget and detach. If I can maintain an idea of how something makes me feel then hopefully I’ll be less likely to keep doing it. Write it down.

Then forgive myself. Forgiving myself is the next hardest thing to do. I’m good at acknowledging my mistakes. Forgiving myself my mistakes is something I’m terrible at. I have a very punitive idea of how to deal with myself and it’s usually punishment, punishment, punishment. Ironically this is a bad, bad, bad way to approach myself. I’m human. Human. It’s okay to mess up. Sometimes I feel silly because I actively have to give myself these pep talks. But if I don’t, I mired myself in bad thoughts and feelings and that’s even more defeating when it comes to making progress. When you can forgive yourself, it allows you to be in a more positive mindset that encourages you to do better next time. Refusing to forgive yourself only mires you in a perceived failure, which lowers your desire to accomplish at all because it makes it very hard to find hope for accomplishing your goal. How can you succeed if you think you’re a failure?

Slip ups. Mistakes. They’re only failures if you forget to learn from them and they stop you from continuing on the path you’ve set for yourself. Acknowledging, forgiving, and learning from mess ups can actually make you a stronger person because now you’re more prepared to deal with what life can throw at you. Mistakes are OK.

Taking a step back is okay. Just don’t turn around and walk away completely. 

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