Friday, September 21, 2012

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Cancelled due to exhaustion

I feel hung over this morning.  Which is odd considering all I drank last day/night yesterday was water and tea.

I cancelled therapy last night. I’ve been mentally wiped out. Which is why I did consider I should go. However I’ve also been physically exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open on the way home from work, so I decided sleep would be more necessary. Today will be me trying to figure things out on my own. Venting a bit. And at the end if you’re sick of me whining, I have some fun updates and stuff I have going on.

Last night was sad. Mostly I was worn down and tired. Took a nap. Then finished watching the new Season 2 (season 28) of Dr. Who. That’s what set me off. Silly isn’t it? It was a sad episode, it brought tears to my eyes. Which brought sobbing to my shower.  Ever have those nights where you can’t stop the tears? I ran a hot shower, sat down and felt the sadness and steam wash over me.

Tech Boy and I aren’t doing well. I doubt we’ll last the weekend.

Right now I’m incredibly lonely. I’m starting to miss him. The problem though, is I’m not sure it’s actually him I miss, or that I just miss having someone. That’s what kept happening with Boring-Ex. I knew we weren’t right for each other, but being alone was worse than being constantly underwhelmed and bored. Tech Boy at least isn’t boring, but…

Things have been rapidly dissolving since the end of July.

If I can get him to talk about things that have happened he expresses genuine remorse and I can tell he’s upset when he does things that hurt me.  There’s a recurring sentiment from him and that is: I don’t like to feel like I’ve failed.

I can certainly relate to that. I hate feeling like I’ve failed, which I pretty much always feel. Except afterwards, that’s it. I want to work on what’s happened, at the very least talk things through, so we can figure out where things are going wrong in order to potentially fix them.  < ----- Like I talk about all the time as being necessary. Communication is important.

And you’ll remember that last time he did sound like he was being sensitive to my needs when he said: “A supportive role seems better than trying to remedy something that’s out of my control.”

This is true. It’s something I think a lot of guys don’t realize. The problem with his saying things like this though, is that he recognizes them, but then he doesn’t follow through with them. This conversation was about 11 days ago. Want to guess how often I’ve seen him since then? Zero. None at all. We’ve both been under a lot of stress for various reasons (not related to our relationship) so I wanted to hold off on having a deep emotional discussion until we were both a little less stressed out. He agreed and said some “inward focusing” would be good for him and he knew I could do that as well (as if I don’t do that constantly?) Apparently though, this meant barely speaking and not hanging out at all, and working on our stuff separately without each other, even to just hang out and not talk about stressful stuff… which was where I had been leaning towards.

He does that a lot. Tells me I should ask for help, but when I do, he doesn’t come through.  It’s hard.

He has the words right, but he doesn’t have the actions that need to follow through with them. 

So now, the main stressors are out of the way, so I asked if we could talk about things. He replied with, “Yeah I suppose we could do that.”


He was hoping that our “inward focusing” would resolve these problems on their own. My being stressed out, and being concerned about things in our relationship has been stressing him out, so he “took time off to de-stress, and would really rather keep it that way, so he wants to just let me keep settling in and getting everything in order so we can just go back to having fun.”  His policy apparently was ignore it and maybe it will go away. So much for supportive.  

I know the whole, “We need to talk,” thing never makes anyone excited to hang out, but could I maybe get some acknowledgment that this is something we need to do to figure out what is going on, if it can be fixed, or if it’s just played out? Nope. I got, “I’ve never been good at talking out problems. I actually usually try to avoid. It makes me very uncomfortable.”

I’m working to be sympathetic. I acknowledged this isn’t fun or comfortable, for either of us. Relationship problems are usually uncomfortable especially for someone that’s never dealt with them before. It’s normal and it’s okay.

He doesn’t want to talk, but it wouldn’t be fair to me to not talk, so he’ll do it. If we don’t talk, the only option left then, is good-bye.  (I didn’t say that to him.) It’s just, it’s important for me to feel like taking care of me in our relationship, taking care of us, is important to him, but he’s coming across as if he doesn’t really care, he’s just doing it because it’s unavoidable if I push it. (This I did try to convey.) At which point he just got defensive, called himself a terrible person, said it was all his fault, and apologized because clearly he was ill prepared or not suited for any of this. ::sigh:: I told him he was being way too hard on himself, and that it’s not about blame at all. We’re two different people with different life experiences, and different levels of relationship experience, it’s just something we have to work out. I also tried to make sure he understood I wasn’t angry or anything, just trying to understand where he’s coming from. To which I got a response of, “Clearly this is all brought on by me so I don’t see a need to not blame myself. You’re afraid of me, I stress you out… I’m just not ready to deal with any of this.” ::double sigh:: He only scares me and stresses me out when he gets fantastically drunk and loses control of his behavior. Solution = stop drinking till you black out and do hurtful things that you don’t remember in the morning when you’re with me.  But I think he’s probably right, if talking about things like that in a relationship is too much more for him to deal with, then he’s not ready for this. He needs someone to have a lighter, simpler connection with, with less emotional depth. Or less complicated emotional depth. And for the record, I stressed again that this isn’t about blame, but finding a solution.

Mind you this was all occurring via text message as well. Which I hate. The whole reason I wanted to sit down and talk in person (and not text), was because so much is lost via text. Texting is an awful way to communicate when you’re dealing with important issues. He finally agreed that a lot is lost via text and again I got, “But if you wanna talk Sunday, let’s talk.”

What I want to hear is something along the lines of: Okay, we’re having problems. I care about you. It’s important to me that we figure out what’s making us uncomfortable so we can make it better.
Not: If I have to, then I guess I don’t have a choice.

I’m crying as I type this. I feel very alone in this. This is not fun for me. I’m sad. I’m hurting. I just want it to stop. Through this all, crazily, I feel like this isn’t even anything unusual. I don’t think this is major BPD problems, just what happens when two people that aren’t meant for each other begin to realize it. (The real test of how my BPD will present is after we break up, if we break up… when the realization dawns on me that’s when I tend to freak the f out). I’m not world endingly sad or anything. Just sad.

I don’t feel like I’ve split him either. He doesn’t seem evil to me. Just emotionally immature. He has had some devaluation, but it hasn’t been a crazy Idealization/Devaluation cycle and I’ve never really done the Love/Hate thing with him either. The level of investment and intensity has never really been there. The devaluation is more a normal reaction to major upsets that have happened (like him hitting me during sex, or getting drunk and leaving me by myself in a bar then starting a fight with me when I’m not comfortable having sex).  

I will say, I am having the experience of more of an emotional continuum. Unfortunately because I’ve had more intense bad experiences, with huge gaps of not spending time together, and not enough recovery time together to feel loved and connected, it’s the bad stuff that stays towards the fore of my mind, b/c there just isn’t enough of the good stuff to balance it out.

So I guess we’ll see. I’m so worn down right now. I really do just want to be alone at this point. I want to go to work. Go to the gym. Come home. Eat/Shower. Write. Play with my cat. Sleep. That’s all I want.

Not that this’ll ever happen.

Hey! How about some fun stuff? Yep, I still have some of that!

Hanging out with xRoommate and her Boyfriend a lot lately. Tomorrow is roommate Monroe’s birthday as well. I got her a beautiful dress for her birthday and we’re going out on Saturday. I’m trying to figure out what kind of cupcakes to make for her.

Then I’m also organizing a day of extreme geekiness. We all know part 1 of The Hobbit movie is coming out in December right? Well you should and you do now. So I’m inviting a dozen or so of my geekiest friends over and we’re having a viewing of all 3 extended addition Lord of the Ring movies. We’re starting at 12:30p in the afternoon and probably going all the way through til 12:30/1a.m. at night. Yay! I’ll be making all kinds of food and snacks throughout the day… Including movie themed food. You don’t understand how excited I am to make Lembas bread. It’s quite silly. Then of course, the next day, we’ll all get together and go see The Hobbit in theater! It’s a good thing I just got a brand new huge LCD TV.

AND then! xRoommate and I are talking about the Halloween party we plan to throw next month. I need to figure out my costume! We’re both super, super crafty so we have so many ideas and this is going to be just an obnoxious display of spooktastic-ness. So much to plan! So much food to decide to make. So many decorations to construct!

Oh, and something else fun. My tattoo artist is an amazing painter. He got ahold of me a few days ago and wants to do a photo shoot with me so he can paint a crazy neo-Victorian/Steampunk type of portrait of me.  I do a lot of Neo-Victorian/Boiler Goth/Steampunk cosplay type stuff. I have a ridiculous amount of costuming so we went through some of my albums and picked out various outfits that would be interesting to shoot and work with. So that’ll be coming up in a few weeks as well! It’s crazy. My life doesn’t stop. Not ever. Boredom is death.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Emotional Consistency Or a Lack Thereof

To pick up where I left off a few days ago, let’s reiterate:

How you feel seems like it should be pretty straight forward. But when you often have all of these conflicting things bouncing around in your head at once, it quickly becomes convoluted. It’s confusing to not have emotional consistency…

And that’s a big problem.

There’s no consistency. I try not to make assumptions of what people without BPD experience, but I’m going to pose a mental scenario. To me it seems that when you have a series of experiences you should develop sort of a repertoire of reactions. When something happens one way, you react a certain way. When something similar happens, you probably react in a similar way.  Of course making allowances for self-reflection, growth, and adjustment to better your responses, but in general certain events, cause certain reactions, so there’s a consistent idea of what will happen. This is especially important for the people around you because they have an idea of how you will react given a situation. However, with BPD this can be almost non-existent. How we react to one thing one day, can be entirely different from how we react to the same thing on a different day.

Every time can feel like a brand new experience. It’s the emotional tie between situations and lacking proper object constancy.  At least that’s where it seems to stem from for me. It’s that sense that each event is unconnected to previous situations so every reaction is brand new.  And how we react is going to be colored by how we’re feeling in general.

If I’m detached and dissociated, then I might not have much of reaction at all. This can appear like I don’t care (which to be totally honest, I might not in that particular moment until I can reattach to my feelings).  It can appear like I’m not actually very bothered, and that something isn’t even a big deal because I’m not really reacting… so in the moment things seem okay from an outsiders perspective, but when I do reattach to my feelings, hours, maybe days later, that’s when it hits and I might get upset about something and it seems like, “What the hell, you were fine about this a couple days ago, where did this come from?”

If I feel threatened and am depressed I might be more concerned about repairing the situation or making the other person happy so they don’t leave… so I gloss over the severity of how things affect me to make the other person more comfortable. More passive and accepting, even accommodating.

Then again if I feel threatened and angry, it’s likely there will be a lovely explosion of just what I think of you and the situation.  I can be quick to go on the defense.

And sometimes, there are even days when I feel in an okay place emotionally so I’m able to face conflict pretty reasonably.

Those are just a few examples. Pretty much everything going on in our heads can affect this; if I’m depressed, dissociated, if I’m more anxious than usual, if my self-image is worse than normal. On top of which reactions can change as our emotions cycle.

Reactions and emotions can change depending on if we’re just texting, talking on the phone, or in person. I’m more likely to get angry and detached via distant communicating (text, IM, phone), and more likely to be more emotionally responsive in person.  To me this makes sense because if I’m not in your presence my connection to you already feels stifled and vague.

Reactions can change as our thoughts ruminate on different things. If we’re experiencing a particularly strong positive memory or really afraid of being abandoned or rejected, we can be flooded with positive emotions and consider just letting any issue go in favor of just getting back to the good parts (I Love you, don’t leave me!). While at the same time still being upset by what caused the conflict and the build-up of events that lead to it (But I hate you, we’re not right for each other, and I never want to see you again). I think this might be a pretty normal relationship experience in general, but the intensity of polarity we experience is what makes it disordered.

It’s frustrating for us, and I imagine, confusing as hell for the people around us. It’s difficult to know how to handle or respond to someone that isn’t even moderately predictable. People are accustomed to a certain amount of consistency and predictability, which has to be reevaluated when you’re in a relationship with someone with BPD. If you are in a relationship with a Borderline and hold us to the same consistent standards that apply to most people it’s going to be even more frustrating for the both of you. When we tend to experience each situation as if it has no prior emotional context, approaching a situation with predetermined ideas of how it will turn out makes expectations and reception limited and more rigid. Flexibility can be important.

What’s even more important is communication; being able to work through a situation, discuss discrepancy in interpretation and, not shut down and allow for false assumptions on anyone’s part. But as you know, identifying the real issues, not being great at emotional expression, a tendency to avoid conflict or to have volatile impulsive reactions… can make this very difficult. Developing effective communication skills isn’t easy for a lot people of people in general. Patience and discussion after there’s been time to calm down and reflect on the situation is useful as well.    

Consistency is not an emotional strength, ironically the most consistent thing about us is our inconsistency haha. Unpredictable. Sometimes this can be good though. I’ve been in a number of situations where people thought I /should/ be upset, and I wasn’t really phased and able to manage them better than other people around me. If the emotional investment in a situation is low, odds are that the level of predictability will be higher and reactiveness will be lower. If emotional investment is high, if we care, that’s when things can get, er, interesting.  At least you know we’re invested, right? Ugh.   

Side thought: Not having reactions tempered by emotional consistency can also lead to a sustained level of passion. Heat and intensity is often greater. That can be bad, but it can also be wonderful. 

I'm the one fixing the robot. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Help where help can’t be found

I had a different topic in mind to continue from yesterday’s post, when I read an e-mail with a very familiar and recurring message:

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a couple years ago. I am from a small town and there is NO ONE around here who does CBT or DBT or has even really worked with Borderline Personality Disorder at all. I, being the typical borderline, have been through half a dozen therapists here, and none of them seem to have any clue what to do with me. BPD seems to get one of two reactions out of therapists: either it makes people think I’m faking something and just starving for attention, or they think I just can’t be helped so there’s no point. I do have the same psychiatrist who helps me with my medication but that’s only a 15 minute session and not real therapy. My point is that I’m really worried for my sanity and I feel like I’m out of options.

Since I’m from a small town, the closest place that offers any sort of cognitive or dialectical therapy is hours away, but my insurance doesn’t cover it. On top of that, I go to school full time, I have a full time job, and I’m a single mom. Even if I could afford it, which I can’t, I’m not capable of getting there because of my responsibilities. I’ve read books, I keep my own journal, I read memoirs and blogs, I’m trying, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

I wish there was some sort of online therapy option or more of an outreach program.

This is something I hear frequently from people all over the world. People live someplace that is too remote to get specialized treatment, people live in a country or culture that doesn’t recognize or support mental health therapy, or there’s a family stigma that makes reaching out and getting help impossible. On top of already dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder and the things life throws at people in general, it can be impossible to get help because there are no accessible interactive resources.

We need each other’s help! So let’s brainstorm!

  • On-line therapy and outreach programs? Has anyone used any, participated in any, or found one that is beneficial?
  • Are there on-line DBT courses?
  • Does anyone know of programs, clinicians, counselors, or specialists that do video chat/Skype therapy or outreach?
  • Other alternatives that you’ve found helpful?

Another option: It’s been suggested to me that it might also be beneficial to host a BPD forum from my blog here at Beyond the Borderline Personality. It wouldn’t be the same as having real DBT/CBT therapy, but it might be able to provide necessary support and resources for people when they need it.

Here’s my ambivalence (Strong feelings both ways!) I think it would be amazing for us to have a place to support each other when we need it.

However, this requires a lot of work (which I’m willing do in order to set this up), BUT, and this is a big BUT, I don’t think I am capable of dedicating the time to moderating a forum. I have a lot on my personal plate and I’m already stretched pretty thin (Recognizing my own limits here). I would need volunteers willing to actively moderate. While I would love to think everyone would treat each other with dignity and respect, we all know that emotions can run high. I’m also aware of the opinions and reaction that people without BPD, but that have been affected by those of us with BPD, have. They can often be filled with their own pain and have a lot of harsh reactions to things we express. I would like a validating environment, and one that is also respectful and constructive, where healing for both those with and without BPD, can take place, information can be exchanged, and issues can be discussed. But let’s face it, this is the internet, and it’s also full of wacko douchebags that make trolling practically a profession… so a forum would need moderation.   

I would also like to have a section dedicated to asking questions that are only answered by licensed Clinicians. I would need volunteers for that as well.

That being said, is this something that people would be interested in? 

Any and all information you can provide for those of us struggling without access to local resources, please SHARE in the comments below!

If you’d be interested in the benefits of a forum let me know. If you’d be interested in moderating let me know. If you’re a licensed clinician/therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist that wouldn’t mind popping in and answering some questions occasionally, please let me know!

There’s a lot to think about here. This is just the beginning.

Let’s help one another out. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Trust Issues: When I can’t trust my own feelings

Contemplate this for a second.
I have trust issues. It’s one of the reasons it’s often so difficult for me to make decisions. That I have trust issues with other people shouldn’t surprise you at all. But. I also have trust issues with myself. 

Often I feel like I’m the only one I can trust. Then again. Often I feel like I’m the last person I should trust.

I can’t trust my own feelings.

When I can’t trust my feelings it’s because I know how poor my decisions have been and what has happened to me because of my decision to act on certain feelings. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions based on how I felt for someone and it’s turned out really, really painfully for me. This has happened so many times I’ve begun to question my own judgment in matters of emotional context. I can never be sure if I’m making a decision that is actually good for me, if it’s one that just feels good, or if I just want it to be good for me. So many times I’ve wanted something to be good for me, felt that it was what I wanted, when I could see how detrimental it would turn out.

My emotions often steer me in a direction opposite of my cognitive knowledge.  This is when I’m the hardest on myself as well. When I cognitively know that something is wrong for me, but emotionally it feels right for me. It’s that emotional pull that gives a decision a sense of reality. It FEELS real. Merely knowing doesn’t have the same full body connection that feeling does.  Emotion is the chemical reaction, the response, that shocks through your body. It’s why it’s so much harder to ignore the emotional decision in favor of the logical one.

Conversely, I can also be so guarded, protecting myself so much, in terms of how I’m feeling that I don’t have a full grasp of the range of my emotions. I’m trying so hard to protect myself that I subconsciously ignore flags that indicate positive or negative issues.

Emotional invalidation is a problem when it comes from the people we need to support us. Emotional invalidation is also a huge problem when we do it to ourselves. I’m famous for this. All too often I find myself saying I shouldn’t feel this way, I shouldn’t react this way, I have no right to feel this way, I don’t deserve to feel this way, so I shut myself down. Or try to. I try so hard to shut out feelings that I “shouldn’t” have, and in doing so, shut down my ability to feel properly on all levels. I try to shut down one thing, but emotions for me are like a faucet… they can run hot, run cold, run lukewarm, but if you try to turn the faucet off, you don’t get any emotional temperature at all. So everything you experience has the same, flat, room temperature appeal, without the benefit of full sensory experience to aid in decisions. Where I might react strongly, or at least decisively, in one situation, my reaction now becomes something nonchalant, disinterested, or halfhearted.

I’m much better with this now. Emotions are essentially a chemical response triggered in your brain.  Chemicals don’t care if you “should” be better or worse than someone in a given situation, all they know is that they’ve been set in motion; that they are. How you feel, is how you feel. And that’s okay.  How you cope and ultimately react to the event that set those responses in motion is what you get to control. That’s where you can sit back, take a look at what’s going on, and ask if how you’re responding is appropriate or not.

Can't I just have a clone to do all the
other options for me? 
It can get even more “fun” though, when on top of everything else, I can be conflicted and feel multiple ways about someone at the same time. I might really like a lot of their attributes for one situation, not like those same attributes for another hypothetical situation, be unsure of others, and then second guess whether any of it is right at all, even though they have all these other things that I really appreciate. It’s a big messy mental collision all happening at approximately a million thoughts per second.

Emotional ambivalence at its finest.

How you feel should be pretty straight forward. But when you often have all of these things bouncing around in your head at once, it quickly becomes convoluted. It’s confusing to not have emotional consistency… 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame

I’m all about the Bonus Posts this week! Lucky you! Sometimes it astounds me how much my life revolves around researching and sharing information. It makes me happy though, and I hope it helps you.
I was watching more Ted talks when xRoommate brought these two to my attention. They’re powerful and extremely relevant. If you’re anything like me, and I know many of you are, you feel that vulnerability is a “weakness” and above all else, it’s important to hide this “weakness”. The amount of pressure, stress, and strain this puts on our mental health is mind bending. Especially when you stop to consider that this entire “reasoning” is a culturally imposed social norm, and not an intrinsic human value.
So take a look at what I have to share with you today.

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, and love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. Brené Brown studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.
“This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Brené Brown: Listening to shame

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.

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