Friday, October 5, 2012

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy: Nothing Really Happening Edition

See this? This is not me right now. (courtesty of Allie H&aH) 

Therapy went on for about 35 minutes longer than I felt was really necessary. Ever have one of those days when you just don’t have much to talk about and don’t really feel like talking? Yep. Therapist doesn’t let me get away with that though.

Talked about my stress levels. Up. A lot of up.

Talked about how I’m coping with my recent break-up. Um. I’m not, really? Compared to how I’ve dealt with break-ups in the past I’m reacting in more constructive, less destructive ways. I don’t really feel much of anything at the moment. Therapist is a little concerned that I’m not dealing with my feelings. She’s right as far as I can tell.

I don’t feel much, but she says it shows on my face that I’m sad. I don’t know if I’m sad about this in particular or if I just look sad in general. I think mostly I’m reflective, and it comes across as sad??? I’m in my own head a lot whether it’s stuff having to do with my personal life, politics, what I’m going to do for dinner this weekend, my cat, nanoparticulates, whatever… I must not smile enough when I’m thinking. Constantly. ??? I don’t even know. I honestly haven’t been thinking about my break up much at all.

I did get to see him for the first time at work yesterday. It’s weird, I haven’t had any real inclination to text him, to chat with him, nothing outside of shop talk (because we do still work together).  We’ve been corresponding as usual about projects but I haven’t had to actually see him about any of that. Until yesterday. I’ve noticed that if I overthink what could happen, that’s when I get stressed out. So instead I just went down and dealt with the engineering issues that needed to be addressed. It was mildly awkward but mostly it was just work. We’re at work so we do what we’ve always done and remain professional, though honestly, I don’t feel like there’s anything to get unprofessional about.  Therapist asked about his reaction. I guess he looked a little sad? I don’t know if I miss him.

Therapist tried to get me to talk about things I’ll miss about him. I don’t really want to. I know why she wants me to though. I’m clearly not grieving yet, and it’s a necessary part of healing.  I guess I should do that. ::sigh:: Grieving sucks. Therapist expects it will not be a quick process, because grieving usually isn’t. It’s important to let the process happen. Be mindful of what I’m feeling (and not remain detached which is kind of where I still am). Healing happens in its own time.

So this is where I think therapy should have ended because I’ve had absolutely  nothing of interest happening in my life that requires therapy.

No, really.  I’ve been going to work, too self-conscious to go the gym so I’ve been doing pilates in my room, and organizing my new condo. Trying for what feels like the first time ever in my life to just relax and not overwork myself like the mad woman I am.

Seriously, I talked about my cat. Who, incidentally, is actually pretty stoked about my break up. My cat has jealous button issues that get pushed anytime someone consistently takes my attention away from him.  So he’s pretty happy that I’m not all occasionally not paying attention to him anymore.



She wanted to make sure I still had a consistent and strong sense of  connection with xRoommate and my current roommates. Yep. I talk to xRoommate all the time. We hang out every weekend, go out, watch movies… planning a kick ass Halloween party! xRoommate, roommate Monroe, and I are doing a crazy party with a ridiculous amount of spooky DIY decorations and a snacks, treats, and appetizer list to feed an army.

I tried to convince Therapist that my costume ideas were actually serious. Velma – Scooby Doo. Hell yeah. Love Velma. Kaylee from Firefly (she didn’t know what Firefly was… there is no justice in the world). Or Darth Rosenberg/Evil Willow from Season 6 Buffy. I’m leaning towards Evil Willow. Yes, I’m a big geek. It’s okay, I know.

I’m not talking about political activism I’m involved with, in therapy b/c there’s no point at all (go go civil rights!).

Least productive therapy session ever.

I don’t know, I just think our relationship just ran it’s course. I never hit that point of emotional no return. I would get happier, little higher, little higher… then something would happen… and my attachment would crash. I would have to start over. Then things would get better, I’d get happier, more attached, more attached… then something would happen… and my attachment would crash. And I’d have to start over again. And again. And again. And again. But it never really got high enough off the ground to have a real impact. ::shrug:: He was nice, but we weren’t really compatible. We really just didn’t have much in common or much common ground to connect on. He’s nice, I need more than that though, and I think he just needs something different. Therapist wants to make sure I’m not internalizing this as something wrong with me. ::shrug:: There is stuff wrong with me, hence being in therapy… but I really do think I handled things in this relationship pretty well. It wasn’t a catastrophe. We had some good times. We had some not so good times. I don’t know what else to say about it.

Therapist was trying to get me to talk about my hopes and dreams for future relationships too. Honestly? I don’t have any. I really don’t want to be in a relationship right now.  This is the first time I’ve been single since I moved to New York. I’ve never been a serial dater before. I do typically try to take a significant amount of time between relationships. Not here though. Even if I wanted to, I apparently let myself fall into relationships whether I was looking for them or not.

Yeah, so then we talked about when I do eventually start dating, I should take it slow, get to know someone before getting intimate. Maybe give it 3 months before…??? Really? Yeah, I so don’t have that kind of impulse control if I’m sexually attracted to someone. She asked me if that was a crazy thought. Yes, yes it kind of it. But it made me laugh so that’s a plus.

Therapist says it’s going to be an adjustment even for her, haha. Haven, not in a relationship? Whatever will she do? Not the end of the world. It will help me catch up on what I’ve been missing out on in the latest D3 patch. Which could actually be the end of the world if I don’t win.

Rambling. Rambling. If you’ve gotten to this point, I apologize.

I don’t know. Some days in therapy are like pulling teeth. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Borderline Personality Disorder, Sexual Orientation, and Relationship Choices

Today, and again starting Monday (because tomorrow is Lucid Analysis) I’m going to be talking about a subject near and dear to my own relationship preferences: 

Sexual Orientation and Borderline Personality Disorder. 

I’ve been asked many times if people with BPD are confused about their sexual orientation. I will answer this question, but not today. Today I want to present a study published by Dr. Reich and Dr. Zanarini. Here is the link tothe actual article. For the sake of easy readability I’ve omitted things like testing methodologies and data collection methodologies (Which I think were done very nicely so be sure to check them out at the source, blind studies, videotaped, consistent, and neutral!). My one qualm is that it only directly dealt with comparisons between Borderline Patients (Axis II),  and other non- Borderline Axis-1 and Axis-II type patients (Depression, anxiety, etc), though it does compare to statistically accessible information on sexual orientation and gender preference of the population in general. I do approve of this method as a way of sufficiently isolating the BPD population from other populations though.  When you get to the discussion aspect I’ve interjected some of my own thoughts and experiences because as you know I do not identify as heterosexual, but I’ve also never considered my sexual or gender identity to be a product of my BPD. So this is something very interesting for me to consider from a different perspective.

Sexual Orientation and Relationship Choice in Borderline Personality Disorder over Ten Years of Prospective Follow-up


The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of homosexuality/bisexuality and same-sex relationships in a sample of 362 hospitalized subjects, 290 with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and 72 comparison subjects with other personality disorders. At baseline and at five contiguous 2-year follow-up intervals, subjects meeting DIB-R and DSM-III-R criteria for BPD or at least one other personality disorder were interviewed using a semi-structured interview about their sexual orientation and the gender of intimate partners. Subjects with BPD were significantly more likely than comparison subjects to report homosexual or bisexual orientation and intimate same-sex relationships. There were no significant differences between male and female borderline subjects in prevalence of reported homosexual or bisexual orientation or in prevalence of reported same-sex relationships. Subjects with BPD were significantly more likely than comparison subjects to report changing the gender of intimate partners, but not sexual orientation, at some point during the follow-up period. A reported family history of homosexual or bisexual orientation was a significant predictor of an aggregate outcome variable assessing homosexual/bisexual orientation and/or same sex relationship in borderline subjects. Results of this study suggest that same-gender attraction and/or intimate relationship choice may be an important interpersonal issue for approximately one-third of both men and women with BPD.

{This is where the testing methodologies and data collection information would be}


In this study, patients with BPD were over 75% more likely to report homosexual/bisexual orientation than comparison subjects with other personality disorders. This is consistent with results from previous studies in finding higher rates of reported homosexual/bisexual orientation among male borderline subjects than those reported by nonborderline comparison subjects and by the general population (Laumann et al., 1994Mosher et al., 2005). Moreover, it is consistent with two of three previous studies in finding higher rates of homosexual/bisexual orientation among female borderline subjects than in the general population (Laumann et al., 1994Mosher et al., 2005). This finding is clinically important in that it suggests clinicians should be sensitive to the probability that nonheterosexual orientation is more common in patients with borderline personality disorder than in patients with other personality disorders.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to focus on the prevalence of same-sex relationships in addition to the prevalence of homosexual/bisexual orientation in patients with BPD. The study found that patients with BPD were approximately twice as likely to report having a sexual relationship with a same-sex partner as comparison subjects with other personality disorders. In addition, it found that the percentage of both male and female borderline patients reporting same-sex intimate relationships (with partners) was higher than the percentage reporting homosexual or bisexual orientation. Twenty-seven subjects with BPD in our study (9% of BPD subjects overall) reported having intimate relationships with a same-sex partner without identifying themselves as homosexual or bisexual. This suggests that patients with BPD may choose intimate partners of the same sex, even if they do not report a homosexual or bisexual orientation. For borderline patients, the choice of an intimate partner may be more partner-specific than gender-specific. Alternatively, borderline patients with same-sex partners may be more reluctant to label themselves bisexual or homosexual. In either case, choosing a partner of the same gender still carries with it a social stigma in many settings, a stigma that may reinforce a sense of alienation.

A second way in which this study differed from previous studies is that it assessed change in sexual orientation and gender of intimate partners over time. Although borderline subjects were not significantly more likely to report a change in sexual orientation than comparison subjects, they were significantly more likely to report a change in the gender of intimate partners. This suggests that for borderline patients, changes in sexual orientation and gender of intimate partners are not a unitary process. For subjects with BPD, choice of gender of intimate partners appears to be more fluid than for comparison subjects. This is consistent with the notion that patients with BPD may choose intimate partners more on the basis of individual factors aside from gender.

In this study, male and female patients with BPD were equally likely to report homosexual/bisexual orientation and having a sexual relationship with a partner of the same gender.

These results differ from those reported previously. Whereas earlier studies had reported rates of homosexuality/bisexuality only in the range of 1.4-16% for female subjects, this study found that 26.6% of female borderline patients reported their sexual orientation to be nonheterosexual at some point in time. Whereas two of three previous studies had reported rates of homosexuality among male borderline subjects of 48% or more, this study found only 29.8% of male borderline subjects reported a homosexual/bisexual orientation even though subjects were followed for 10 years. One reason for these differences may be that previous studies assessed sexual orientation differently.

**As our knowledge and understanding of sexuality and gender identification has evolved, it makes sense that there would be a clearer understanding of how to assess this in later studies.

In this study, a reported family history of homosexual/bisexual orientation predicted homosexual/bisexual orientation and/or same-sex relationships in borderline subjects. This is consistent with research in the general population indicating that sexual orientation is related to familial factors, which are at least partly genetic (Kendler et al. 2000Bailey et al. 2000). As with our results, research in the general population has not been able to specify the nature of these factors. It is noteworthy, however, that genetic research in community samples has dealt only with sexual orientation; it has not dealt with same-sex intimate relationships as an independent variable.

** As far as I know, no one in my family has had same-sex relationships before me (or my sister). Certainly neither of my parents, brother, aunts, uncles, or grandfathers. If my grandmothers did, they never relayed this information, but also as one was bipolar and the other schizophrenic they wouldn’t be eligible for comparison in this type of study.

In this study, there was a trend toward a reported history of childhood sexual abuse predicting homosexual/bisexual orientation and/or same-sex relationships. This is consistent with clinical experience that some female borderline patients may identify themselves as homosexual or may choose female sexual partners because of histories of childhood abuse by men. In these cases, choice of sexual partner may have less to do with sexual attraction than with establishing an intimate relationship that provides a sense of safety. The relationship between childhood sexual abuse and homosexual/bisexual orientation or same-sex relationships in male borderline subjects remains less clear.

** For me, I do feel a greater sense of safety with women now. I have dealt with sexual abuse in my past, but this was after it was apparent to me that I was attracted to women, and years after I had already begun dating members of my same gender. It’s more a matter of feeling an emotional connection, and not just a physical one (which tends to be the case when I date men).

Taken together, the results of this study suggest that homosexual/bisexual orientation and same-sex intimate relationships are common among both male and female borderline patients.


Interesting, no? I’ve said for years. Years, and years, and years: I prefer to choose my partners for who they are, and anatomy does not necessarily contribute to that.

If you’re like me, and believe everyone has the right to their own sexual identity and preference, then it looks like people with Borderline Personality Disorder are more open minded to the idea that relationships should not have to be limited based on a predetermined norm. As a whole we’re more likely to be attracted to a person for who they are without feeling the need to limit ourselves to a sexually normative binary. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Borderline Personality Disorder and Sexual Avoidance

Borderlines are sex fiends. All day, every day it’s all we think about, right? Hah. Wrong.

Reckless sex and promiscuity are often a problem for those of us with BPD. It’s something we actually get a lot of attention for. But that’s only one side of it. The more sensational side. I think it’s because of that sensationalism that we get such a bad rap, because there’s a whole different side that doesn't get much attention at all.

You need to remember; Borderline Personality Disorder is a complex combination of nature and nurture. Unfortunately where that nurture is lacking, it’s often replaced my abuse. Sexual abuse can be exceptionally detrimental and will of course, affect how we approach sex in our adult lives. Not only that, but we are also often deeply, deeply self-conscious, stricken with a variety of eating disorders, dysmorphic body image issues and spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting our outward appearance… all to gain some semblance of control where control was taken away from us.

According to Dr. Zanari in the paper, Sexual Attitudes and Activities in Women with Borderline Personality Disorder Involved in Romantic Relationships written by Sebastien Bouchard, Natacha Godbout, “ rates of childhood sexual abuse in the [Borderline Personality Disorder] population can range from 60%-80%”. Can you even imagine the effect that early childhood sexual abuse would have have on a child? Let alone how it would bleed through and contribute to BPD in adulthood.

Insecure attachment is closely associated with sexual motives and feelings.  It’s not a surprise that those of us with BPD have an insecure attachment style laced with fear, abandonment, and distrust. It’s almost impossible to imagine that these issues wouldn’t be influenced by this kind of anxious attachment style.

Conclusions in general suggest that people with BPD tend to have signi´Čücant problems with regard to intimate and sexual relationships. These problems seem to be related to heightened sexual impulsivity, reduced sexual satisfaction, in-creased sexual boredom, greater preoccupation with sex, avoidance of sex, and a wide range of sexual complaints (Dulit, Fyer, Miller, Sacks, & Frances,1993; Hull et al., 1993; Hurlbert, Apt, & White, 1992; Stone, 1985; Zanarini et al., 2003; Zubenko, George, Soloff, & Schultz, 1987)

So while, yes, we can often display more permissiveness, it’s also not uncommon for there to be a complete aversion to sexual intimacy as well. For example, in a 2003 study, Dr. Mary Zanarini and colleagues found that people with BPD reported avoidance of sex for fear of experiencing an exacerbation of their BPD symptoms. Not to mention re-living or having flashbacks of the original abuse.

When you’re eating disordered, have a dysmorphic body image, and low self-esteem you tend to be very vulnerable when it comes to your physical appearance. If you’re like me you don’t show this, everyone thinks you love how you look, but inside you “know” what a mess your appearance is. Being uncomfortable in your own skin, by yourself, is one thing. Being uncomfortable in your own skin, with someone else, who you feel is potentially judging you? That you don’t feel like you’re “perfect” with. I can’t tell you the number of times I HAD to avoid going out in public because I was too anxious to function due to how I felt about my appearance. Just go out in public. Not get naked and exposed in front of another person.

“Though it hasn't been studied, there is a sense among doctors that many patients tend to be attractive, which can trigger a vicious cycle,” says Peter Freed, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, who specializes in BPD. “Being beautiful induces the world to treat you like an object, which naturally gives rise to questions about whether you are loveable, which in turn makes you long for confirmation."

This in turn complicates their intense sexual allure, which is ultimately a kind of survival mechanism. "The intensity of erotic passion can sweep you away, but the motive is double-edged," writes California-based therapist Roger Melton. "One side of it comes from the instinctually built-in, turbulent emotionality of the disorder…But the other side of is driven by an equally instinctually and concentrated need to [be in] control."

I know you can’t see me, but I’m pretty easy on the eyes. I’m not a super model or anything, but I’m pretty. There’s a song by Emilie Autumn entitled Thank God I’m Pretty, it’s an entirely sardonic reply to how pretty women are often objectified in society and expected to take that objectification as a compliment. Otherwise we must just be a bitch. For me? It really just makes me second guess what someone really wants from me, and considering my history, my guess is not going to lean towards optimistic best intentions.

Here’s the thing. Like every individual on the planet, our personal experiences are going to affect how we perceive certain situations. With something as emotionally involved as sex can be, and keep in mind that we are a group of people that deal with an extreme form of emotional dysregulation, the experiences, and traumas of our past our going to color our judgment a great deal. How we cope is also going to be unique to the kind of people we are.

I was in love with The One. My best friend since I was 13 years old. He lead me on, used me, cheated on me, lied to me, made false promises to leave his failing marriage for me, and then when I was finally done with all of it, he raped me. It was all about easy sex for him, with zero regard for how it would affect me. He wasn’t the first and he wasn’t the last either. It’s sad but I’m almost used to guys trying to take advantage of me in this way. Of course I’m not blind and pretty smart so I see it coming from a mile away.  I also don’t have a very passive personality. I tend to overcompensate, so I find power and detachment in sex. Having sex with little to no emotional attachment, using sex as a way to avoid true emotional intimacy is more my style. At the same time I don’t feel alone, but also not so close as to put my heart in danger. It’s also no surprise that I have deep issues when it comes to intimacy with men. We talk about sexual promiscuity and recklessness, but I do this women. With men, there has to be something else, b/c I have a lot of issues and point blank I don’t feel safe, or that men will ever have my best intentions at heart. Sorry guys. I have issues. I’m working on them.

Which is often another problem. When our relationships are turbulent, when there is a great deal of conflict and misunderstanding in our relationships, it’s hard to maintain a positive attitude about sex. And the sex we have will be less fulfilling. Many women in general, but especially those of us with a hypersensitivity to our partners “needs” can feel pressured into sex because we know they want it, and fear losing them if we don’t comply. The problem is, when we’re doing it mostly for the other person, and less for both of us equally, there’s going to be a general sense of obligation. Obligatory sex doesn’t exactly sound sexy now does it? I’m certainly guilty of this. But my partner was happy, and blissfully unaware. That doesn’t lead to the greatest opinions and satisfaction with sexual experiences though.

Sex is easy for some, less so for others. I have a hard time with guys (no pun intended), not so much with women. Some people with BPD are very promiscuous and reckless (I can be), others are very withdrawn and have a hard time letting people touch them at all (I’ve had phases of this as well).

So there you have it. A look at the other side of the reckless promiscuity we’re all so supposedly wrapped up in.  Nothing is ever so clean cut.

And for those of you interested: Emilie Autumn - Thank God I'm Pretty

**Sorry to my brother and sister if this is TMI, but you were warned. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let’s Talk About Sex…. Again : Not your property

I’ve talked about sex and BPD before, but I think it’s time to delve into it again, penetrate a little deeper if you will. Can you tell I’m not getting any right now? Hah! I get a lot of questions and I think there are a lot of unanswered questions so let’s get back into the series of it!

Sex is a complicated subject at the best of times, but let’s faces it, when you have BPD it’s not often the best of times. There are a lot of factors that come into play here.

Something I hear a lot is: My Borderline ex professed eternal love, but now he/ she’s sleeping with someone else!

There’s a key word here that you need to keep in mind: Ex.

 As in, not current. Of the past. Your ex is not your property. If you’ve ended the relationship (especially after they’ve professed forever love to you?), or they’ve ended it for whatever reason, than you no longer have a say in what they do.

Another key phrase to remember: Sex does not equal love. Don’t get me wrong! Love and sex can certainly go hand in hand, but that doesn’t mean they always do.

Sex can mean many, many things. Especially to someone with BPD.

1. That we’re angry, for example. Very, very angry. Maybe even with some thoughts of revenge. Have you ever been so angry that you just didn’t give a fuck what you did? So that’s exactly what you do? I can remember being so hurt, the break up was so personal, I internalized it so hard, I was so pissed off that they would treat me the way they did… because for as much as I might scream, and split, and shout that the other person is evil and an asshole… how I feel is that I wasn’t good enough. Clearly there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t make you love me. Something wrong with me that I couldn’t keep you loving me. And I need to feel like that isn’t true. I need to feel like I’m desirable, like I’m loveable… and one of the easiest way to validate that need is to get the very tangible response created by someone that wants to be physically intimate with you. Sex, means someone sees something desirable in me.

Of course, these kinds of impulsive decisions (at least for me) tend to be filled with regret and shame after the fact. Because in the morning I know that it hasn’t really accomplished what I need, which is someone that actually values me. But in the moment, all I need is immediate validation, because in that moment all I have is the sense that my world is falling apart, I feel worthless, and I need to prove to myself that I’m not.

2. There’s another simple reason why we might sleep with someone quickly. Comfort. We’re notorious for not wanting to be alone. And whether we’ve done the breaking up, or whether we’ve been broken up with, we still have a sense of abandonment and a sense of loss. There’s still a boyfriend or girlfriend shaped void where an attachment used to be. It’s very hard to be alone when you’re so used to having someone there. It’s very hard to be alone when you need to have someone else there. For me I would look so someone that I have some kind of attachment to already…. Then again, there’s not always someone like that available and we just need to know that we’re not alone. So that’s what we find. Someone to be ‘not alone’ with.

3. And frankly, sometimes I just need to experience the freedom. I was so, so in love with my Evil-Ex. I put up with so much abuse, I was so afraid of losing him, that by the time I got out, I just wanted to have fun. I wanted to experience having a good time without a huge emotional burden. This is actually when I met GF and when I started seeing Boring-Ex… and why I broke up with Boring-Ex the first time to be with GF… briefly… before going back to Boring-Ex. I needed so badly to feel wanted, because I’d felt alienated, like a pariah, and unloved for so long.  

4. It actually helps to move one. If a relationship is done? Actually done, not getting back together in a week done, then breaking that emotional connection is necessary. Sex, depending on how you view it, is still a chemical boiling pot of mixed emotions and pheromones between 2 (or more) people. Some people may shrug it off easier than others but it’s still a shared experience. The more you share an experience, the stronger those ties become. So often when I’ve been in love I KNEW, knew in my heart of hearts, that I would never find someone else that understood me, or that I’d feel so connected to. I KNEW! And when they’re gone, when you’ve never been able to imagine anything beyond them; it helps to show yourself that actually there can be others. This is not endorsing sleeping around to get over an ex! That can also make things worse, because like I mentioned previously, if it’s an impulsive decision with no time spent to develop a trusting relationship, you may just wake up with shame and regret. That’s not going to help at all. It will just make things feel worse. But yanno, if you’re ready, and you’re at least with someone you feel safe with, it can help. Not saying it helps everyone or anyone else, but that’s for you to decide.

5. Finally, sometimes I just need to get out of my own damn head. It’s an escape. I love sex because it’s one of the few times my brain shuts down completely. I need a few minutes (hopefully more than just a few minutes =P ) to stop thinking about the pain I’ve just been through. It doesn’t help me forget in the long run, but sometimes I just need to get through the moment, get through the night, get through the day.  As long as we can get through one more day, we’re one more day closer to a time where hopefully everything no longer hurts so much.

Listen, I’m not saying any of this is necessarily the best way of coping with a break up. Or the way most people with BPD deal with it. But I know I have, in some circumstances (not all!) and I have my reasons.  And hey, not for nothing, but I’m an adult, if I want to sleep with someone, and I’m no longer in a relationship, that’s my business, not yours.

*Disclaimer! This does not apply to everyone with BPD! … and I’ll get to that too. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lack of Object Constancy: Effects and How to Deal with It

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. You’ve heard this phrase before correct? Not for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. For us, absence makes the heart grow colder. We see with our heart instead of eyes all too often.

Dealing with a lack of object constancy is difficult. It affects all our relationships. There’s only a tentative connection which needs constant, or at least consistent, affirmation, where a permanent bond should be. It’s like a radio signal when you’re passing through a mountain or out of range; the connection gets choppy and fills with static so you don’t have a clear signal. It makes you believe that since the person is out of range, you’re not really connected to them anymore. How can they remember you if you’re not around? So the natural reaction is to want to be around more, and more, to start to worry when they go off and do things on their own b/c it feels like you’re not a part of their life anymore.

Depending on the trust and the strength of the relationship this can be better or worse. With Tech Boy or Boring-Ex, I had significant enough trust in our relationship (that they wouldn’t cheat on me) that if I didn’t see them for a few days at a time I wasn’t getting panicky, but I did basically feel like I wasn’t a part of their world and I couldn’t fathom that they would be thinking about me, even though I hoped they were. Now with Evil-Ex, that didn’t exist. I lived with him, and if we weren’t in the same room I felt like our bond was broken and something shady was going on. In my defense, it usually was (that’s not paranoia, just fact). He would go out without me, and all I felt was a void where our relationship should be. If we weren’t literally together, than it didn’t feel like we were together in any aspect.

In retrospect that was a big indicator that something was severely wrong. If even the mere thought of your loved on/friend/family inspires ideas of loss and that sense of void, it’s time to ask yourself why do you feel that way? What is missing in your trust that you can’t hold onto them? For all the Nons, if you see this in your partners ask yourself the same. I’m sure I drove Evil-Ex crazy. He didn’t know why I would get so freaked out… but then again, he didn’t know that I was aware of all the shady shit he got up to and the lies he would tell to try and get away with them. Remember, we’re a hypersensitive bunch. It’s not that difficult for me to tell when someone is lying to me (in person). It got to the point that even when we were together I felt excluded from him. Or so guarded against him that I could no longer let him in. I had to protect myself so much that to open a window for that connection to come through would leave a place for him to start tearing me down as well.

For friends my panic isn’t quite so great, it’s just empty. Where I see them in my mind, there’s a void where their hearts should be next to mine. I think people forget about me. Not maliciously, but because they have their own lives they just have no reason to think about me. So they forget. And then I feel guilty for “imposing” on them by reminding them that I’m here; i.e. asking them to hang out. I want them to get ahold of me so I know I’m not interrupting or bothering them, and also for that validation I want that they remember I’m here. That they care.

I think a lot of having a lack of object constancy is part of a greater dissociative defense mechanism. Many people with BPD have been subject to significant trauma and abuse so we develop these defense mechanisms to cope with the abuse at the time. But because the experience is so traumatic that need to protect ourselves never goes away, and that coping mechanism becomes maladaptive; existing when it no longer is necessary.  

So what can we do about this?

Things for other people to do. Be present but not overbearing. Try to be aware of the space we need, but don’t disappear.

Here’s the thing. We know we need consistent affirmation in our relationships. Because we don’t feel a constant connection, it’s scary. We don’t have that emotion bond that provides reassurance in your absence. At the same time, many (most?) of us know how obnoxious it can be to portray that sort of neediness, and want to avoid being clingy. I’m not a clingy person. Despite my attachment needs, I’m very independent. I just want to know that I’m being thought about, that you care, that you remember me when I’m not actually with you. Easy things to help with this:

            Give a call.

            Send a text without prompting just to say you’re thinking about us.

Give a gift for them to actually hold onto. You don’t have to be obvious about it (i.e. Here’s something for you to remember me by blah blah blah), but just  something that’s a part of you for us to hold when you’re gone.  < ----- Around my computer and on that wall, I pin stuff too it, hang stuff on, just to remind myself that people have thought about me when I wasn’t around.

Something my Therapist does, she’ll tell me if she thought about me during the week and why.

For us: How do deal with it, work on it. Be patient. It will take us a long time to truly internalize someone. It’s okay.

It’s helpful to be mindful of your own feelings and work on staying connected to your own feelings, feeling them, in the moment. Don’t invalidate yourself. Don’t judge how you’re feeling. Don’t try to shut your emotions down. Allow yourself to experience them. Acknowledge them. Hell, write them down. Practice. Practice remaining present in your emotions without judgment.

But Haven, what does this have to do with connecting to other people?

Part of my problem is I often feel very disconnected from myself. I feel empty, like there’s no one inside to live through. (Not so much anymore, but this memory is still very very clear). If you can’t connect solidly to yourself, how can you connect to others?

Then  you can work on remaining present with your feelings when you’re with someone else. Preferably someone you can trust. Not just someone you want to trust, someone that has proven trustworthy. Often we are so on guard, are so wired into Protector mode, that it’s impossible to penetrate the walls we erect.
We need to practice being vulnerable. Vulnerability has become a bad word because we’ve made it synonymous with weak. But that’s not true. To be vulnerable is to be human. We know we are. We know how susceptible to being hurt we can be. That’s why we create these massive protective defenses to keep from getting hurt. But those defenses are also what keep us from creating allies. They keep out the bad, but they keep out the good as well.

We live in a world with bad people. That’s the truth. But not all of them are bad. Everyone does make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean some people don’t deserve a chance. So be mindful. Keep your eyes open. Allow yourself to let down those walls on brick at a time with someone that you can trust, or can develop trust with.

Keep in contact. Consistently. Even when I trust someone, if I don’t see them for a couple weeks, my connection begins to fade. Make an effort. Eventually you won’t even have to be so consistent, but when  you’re trying to develop that lasting bond, consistency is key, especially since we’re not emotionally consistent people.

Be patient. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your lover/friend/family. I takes me a very long time to really internalize someone as a real fixture in my life. I can count the number of people on one hand that this applies too, and honestly, it doesn’t even include my parents all the time; though it’s starting to. Don’t try to force it either. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to internalize people anymore, so frankly, I just didn’t think about it. I just kept trying. I focused on developing a healthy relationship with people I cared about. Some people are still in this process with me (whether they know it or not), some people, like xRoommate, are totally there. It takes time, and the amount of time it takes is going to depend on you and the person you’re working with.

Those are some of the things that have helped me. I hope they help you too. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tips from the Borderline: Remembering your meds

Hello and good morning. I thought I'd start an occasional series when I think of helpful tips to help us manage our mental health. What do you think? 

I woke up this morning, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and took my meds. I have an appointment with Psychiatrist in a week or two. I went back to monthly visits because I was fluxuating really badly, in some part due to the fact that I was messing up on taking my medication pretty badly. It wasn't intentional, it's just when life is so crazy and my brain is so noisy sometimes I forget to open that bottle amongst everything else. By the time I stopped to contemplate whether I'd taken my meds, I wasn't sure either way, which would make me worried that I'd be double dosing. 100mg is the highest strength of Pristiq offered (there's only two: 50 and 100), so accidentally taking 200mg when that's not even a legal dose I'm guessing would be bad. Instead of risking that I just don't do anything. I can't always remember if I've taken my meds. Like most humans I'm very much a creature of habit. So if I'm in a good pattern and all my rituals are in place it's automatic and I barely even think about it. So I could take it and then still maybe not remember because it doesn't require any thought. But when I should have run out of my medication over a month ago, but just finished my last pills that day... that means I've been skipping. A lot. Psychiatrist was not happy with me. So I was thinking of how to help me out with this. 

There are a few simple solutions I considered. 

1. Give in to your inner granny/grampy and get one of those weekly/monthly pill organizers. If your med is still in there, clearly you haven't taken it yet. 

2. Keep a small calendar in your bathroom. Hang it on the wall near where you keep your meds, and mark off the day immediately after you've taken them. 

3. Set an alarm on your phone for the same time everyday with a reminder to take your meds. 

4. When I was at University I had a boyfriend that would text me every night before bed and remind me to take my vitamins. If you have a partner you trust, that might work for you too. 

I've been doing the calendar thing. Idk I like physically checking off the day, there's just some small satisfaction in doing it. Plus it gives me a visual reminder that I've been doing well and to keep going. That's helpful to me. 

*If you have any of your own helpful tips or tricks feel free to let me know, either via comment or e-mail me at and I'll incorporate them into future posts! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...