Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tips from the Borderline: Take care of yourself

It's no surprise I've been a lot low lately. Last time Therapist saw me she thought I looked happy and healthy, or at least as happy as I've been as of late. Last Thursday, I was just done. Nowhere near the lows I've felt in my past. To my credit, it didn't feel like the end or that I had nothing to live for. I did question whether or not my life was always going to be this Up and this Down and this Downer, but when you've lived your whole life that way, I think it's pretty typical. 

So I'm taking this weekend off. In a good way. I laid down to take a nap yesterday at 6:30p.m.... I woke up a couple times, but all-in-all I slept through til about 8a.m. this morning. I've been exhausted, and ignoring myself. Time to listen to my body. 

When I woke up this morning I had a nice day back at the gym. My first in a while. 

Then I stocked up my fridge with spinach, green apples, celery, grapes, strawberries, and cucumbers. Juice/Smoothie cleanse! Just a short one. 

I feel toxic. I need to take care of me. Physically, leads to better mentally. 

So, here's Haven's tip of the day. Take some time off for you. But it's conditional. I don't mean gobbling up bon-bons and flopping in front of the telly all day. Health and movement. Do something rejuvenating that is actually good for you. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Secondary Wounding and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 2

Now we know how people can cause secondary wounding. It seems kind of obvious to some of us, but what isn’t so obvious is why someone would do that. Fortunately Healthy Place: America’s Mental Health Channel breaks it down and I expound, because that’s just what I do.

Why People Cause Secondary Wounding

Ignorance is a key factor in a lot of secondary wounding. Some people just don’t get it. Some people just don’t understand because they’ve never experienced something like it themselves, so they can’t empathize properly. Whatever the reason, they don’t comprehend what it’s like to suffer from a particular trauma.

This is how I feel when ultra-conservative politicians say that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape or incest because even then god intended for that fetus to be born. Or that a person should have seen the sexual assault coming in the first place.

Something that I think is common for the people in our lives without BPD, is burnout.  When the person responding to the survivor of trauma, is simply overwhelmed. Maybe they’ve been supportive previously, but over time, after continuing to be their support for time and more time and more time, it becomes difficult to maintain until eventually the weight of supporting the survivor just becomes too much for them.

This is what happened with my 2nd best friend with BPD when we had our final fallout over GF. I was there for her and there for her and there for her, picking up her calls at 2 in the morning, talking til the sun came up, rushing over to her to comfort her and calm her as she fell apart, for nearly a year… until finally I just couldn’t anymore. I didn’t mean to, but I broke. It’s even more complicated b/c I broke into a severe dissociative episode, but when someone requires SO MUCH. ALL THE TIME. It can wear on you. We should try to keep that in mind when our loved ones need a break.

Real-time Karma or “Just world” philosophy is a mindset which teaches that  everyone gets what they deserve. It assumes that if you are careful enough, intelligent enough, moral enough or competent enough, you can avoid misfortune. Therefore, people who suffer trauma or either at fault, weak, or immoral.  

The example from HealthyPlace is, “Good girls don’t get raped.” It doesn’t have to be that overt though, and we ourselves, those of us with BPD or often the hardest on ourselves with this one. “If only I was this,”, “If only I was that,”, “I should {this/that} and this wouldn’t have happened….” We take on the belief that there is something dysfunctional in us that makes us bad, and therefore we deserve whatever hardship it is we’ve had inflicted on us. Considering the history of abuse that comes with BPD, this is often reinforced by the people that inflict the trauma in the first place.

Finally there is often a cultural influence. My culture, and many others, proclaims that hard work, self-sacrifice, and physical and emotional endurance can overcome hardship. These things are positive traits, but that doesn’t mean they will lead to successfully overcoming the obstacles brought on by trauma. It implies that all you need is to keep a “stiff upper life,” to get over trauma. Which also implies that if you don’t or can’t, there must be something wrong with you, and you are weak for needing a different way of coping. It does not indicate weakness though, all it indicates is that it’s not the right course of healing for you. Everyone is not the same and what works for one person will not necessarily (nor should it) work for another. Everyone needs to be free to find healing the way that is best for them.

Overcoming secondary wounding

Secondary wounding is like an infection. It’s that dirt that gets rubbed into a raw and open wound. It makes you not only need to heal the original wound, but now you have to heal another wound on top of that one. If it occurs close enough to the original trauma it can make that trauma even worse. What originally required a tourniquet has turned gangrenous and needs to be amputated.  So how do you overcome it?

First it’s crucial to identify the wounding experience and how it effects you, then distance yourself emotionally and mentality from it. Be careful not to detach completely, but put some space there.

This part I love, as Healthy Place says, “realize that as a general rule, the secondary wounding says more about the other person than us. This is often the result of a larger problem in society, such as the “just world” philosophy and the blame-the-victim attitudes. When you view it from this perspective, we have an argument against their assumptions.”

Finally, is an active effort that we should all probably practice regardless of secondary wounding or not: Learn positive self-talk. And practice it every day so that you have your arguments against secondary wounding experiences ready. It sounds simple, but it really is crucial. I’m terrible at this. I constantly tear myself down, so when other people say something unhelpful it’s easy for me to believe them. It’s much, much, much harder for someone to bring you down, when you know how to raise yourself up.

We have to build our emotional armor b/c let’s face it, with a disorder like BPD, wounding our emotions is pretty easy. It’s even easier when you don’t know how to fight back. It’s our job to teach ourselves. Invest in yourself. Be kind to yourself. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Secondary Wounding and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 1

Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will only cause permanent psychological damage. 

I’ve talked about unintentional wounding or unintentionally exacerbating triggers in someone with Borderline Personality Disorder before. Today I want to expound on a tangent of this.

Secondary wounding.

Trauma. The initial experience may end quickly, but the half-life of healing can be quite long [1].

It takes time to get over a traumatic event. Most people get that. What they don’t often appreciate is the amount of time that can be necessary for that healing or have the patience for people that react in a very normal way to trauma. Often people have this very chauvinistic ideal that taking it quietly and mushing on is the only truly acceptable way to deal with trauma; when in fact this can do more harm than good.

Secondary Wounding is the term used to describe what could loosely be called ‘insult to injury,’… kicking you when you’re already down on the ground and bleeding, ripping the scab off the wound. Need I go on? It’s not the initial experience that caused the trauma; it’s when people react to your experience of that trauma in a way that perpetuates the emotional wound.

Typically people go through life with a sense of relative safety. You may know that bad things happen and even accept that bad things could happen to you, but if you have relationships and an environment where you can receive support and have your experiences validated, it’s possible to regain that sense of safety and stability you need to move on with a healthy life. However, if you do not have support, if your experience of trauma is invalidated, secondary wounding is experienced and it can lead to a greater risk of longer-term effects, even PTSD.

Secondary wounding happens a lot, especially when people are uncomfortable with the kind of trauma that’s been experienced; rape, self-harm, abuse, etc. Sometimes people just get tired of hearing about something b/c they feel like the person hasn’t gotten over a experience soon enough, like a bad break up, and they just want to ignore it. If a person takes a few weeks, a few month, or forbid a few years! To get over a trauma, people start to ask what is wrong with that person. Why can’t they just get over it already? 

Ironically, a key factor in “getting over it”, also known as Real Healing, requires validation and the support of your interior circle of relationships without judgement, pressure, or guilt adding to the process. Having good support makes a HUGE difference to someone recovering from a traumatic experience.

However if instead you receive Secondary Wounding by hearing things like:

“I don’t want to hear about it”

“It didn’t happen the way you say it did”

“It’s not important or a big deal”

“It’s your fault for failing to predict or prevent it”

"You're too sensitive"

"You're paranoid"

"You need to toughen up"

"Your depression is causing you to misinterpret their actions"

"Your judgment is way off"

"You need to change"

If instead all you receive are ways of invalidating the trauma, taking the attitude that the main problem is that you're the one messed up, not that the thing that happened to you is what’s messed up, then your ability to heal is inhibited. The problem is no longer something external to you, you’re being told it’s a part of you. The problem now seems even more insurmountable.  

There are many forms of secondary wounding.

Disbelief, denial, and discounting. This is when someone invalidates a traumatic event by denying that it happened. This is when someone flat out says they don’t believe you or that the event occurred. This is when someone tells you the experience isn’t as significant as you feel it is.

Blaming the Victim. If you’ve ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, or abuse (though not limited too!), this may be something you’ve experienced. When someone says it’s your fault for having been in the situation in the first place, that’s blaming the victim. “You might not have asked for it consciously, but…” or, “You brought it on yourself by {insert reason} even if you didn’t intend it to happen,” that’s blaming the victim.

Stigmatization. Most of us here are familiar with dealing with stigmas. Secondary wounding happens when people blame the survivor for their reactions. Ridicule; misinterpretation of the survivors symptoms as a moral failure or mental deficiency; an implication or statement that the survivor’s symptoms reflect a desire for sympathy, attention or financial gain; or as punishment of the victim… that’s secondary wounding through stigmatization. This happens often with self-harm when people accuse you of self-injuring/cutting “for attention”, instead of trying to understand an individual’s personal reasons.

Denial of assistance. Asking for help is extremely difficult. When you need help, but can’t get it, or are refused it, you might as well be told that you don’t need it because what you’re going through isn’t worthy or require help.

The sad thing is, most people that engage in secondary wounding don’t even realize they’re doing it. A lot of things contribute to their reasons, intentional or not.  Which we will get to tomorrow ;) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts from the Borderline

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that's not true. Absence makes the heart grow colder. Conflict makes the heart grow fonder.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Special Post: Just Like A Woman - Charlotte Gainsbourg

... a special post from a special friend

Just Like A Woman - Charlotte Gainsbourg (Bob Dylan)


Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
Ev'rybody knows
That Baby's got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls.
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

Queen Mary, she's my friend
Yes, I believe I'll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
That Baby can't be blessed
Till she sees finally that she's like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

It was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what's worse
Is this pain in here
I can't stay in here
Ain't it clear that--

I just can't fit
Yes, I believe it's time for us to quit
When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don't let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world.
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl.

Characterological Depression : When the void still remains

Hello Dear Readers. I’m back!

Late post today, but it took me an hour and a half to get gas for my car. Finally. Sitting there in line was just so strange. I know this happens to some extent with most major disasters, but it’s just so weird thinking that my parents were doing the same thing back in the 70’s. Especially with our current social/political climate it’s just oddly ominous.  But enough about depressing real world stuff.

Let’s talk about depressing internal mental world stuff! Before the hurricane hit I was talking about Depression and the various ways it presents. Along the way I stumbled on something that explains a way that I’ve been feeling a lot lately. Conveniently it’s also one of the Big 9 qualifiers for BPD in the DSM.

Back in my post on Benzos and Xanas I wrote:

“SSRI’s may help the major depressive disorder type symptoms but don’t touch the characterological depression. *** This strikes a chord with me. *** Note to self to look into this further, b/c currently I feel like my major depression is practically non-existent, but I still have that feeling of emptiness.”

That right there. I don’t feel depressed Depressed, in the way that I have since I was 12. I don’t always feel gloomy and sad. I don’t always feel like that little black rain cloud is constantly hovering over my head. I just feel; blank.

It’s funny (or not so funny, really). I always assumed that the chronic feeling of emptiness was merely a part of my depression. They so naturally go hand in hand that I never stopped to consider that there might be a difference between the physical display of depressive disorder symptoms and the characterlogical emptiness that comes with the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. I haven’t been depressed, but I still have this ever present sensation of… nothingness. My heart feels hollow.

The only time I feel anything is when I’m consumed with something that raises me to an intense emotional height. Except as soon as it’s over I plunge right back to the void that waits beneath the heat.

A long, lingering stillness. I constantly feel as if I’m waiting for something important to happen except I’m not sure what and it never actually does; sitting at a bus stop on a route that’s been out of service for years in a town that went ghost in the last recession.

A perpetual void occluded by the occasional star.

There are good moments. There are bad moments. And then there’s nothing. It’s so strange. I almost miss the depression to justify this feeling of nothingness. Even the moments of bad are better than the lack of feeling anything.

It makes it almost easy to understand why we can crave such intensity that comes with our rapidly swinging moods. In those moments of tumultuousness the sensation of being alive is real. Tangible. When the storm has calmed, there’s nothing left to hold onto. I wonder if anything is even real and life worth living b/c really we’re just a minuscule point in time in a Universe that never ends. The highs and the lows distract from contemplating the infinite vacuum of space between this time and the next.

Of course the problem with riding the ups and the downs is the destruction we can leave in our own wake. I’m learning to get around this. It’s not much of a surprise that I’m a very passionate person. I love the fire that comes with my anger and emotion. The trick is focusing it constructively and controlling the burn instead of letting the fire run wild. I’m very active in fighting for causes that hold meaning to me. The last six months have been great for politics. I fight incredibly hard for social equality, equal rights, government reform. I fight for education, the environment, and science. Obviously I think raising awareness on mental health issues is pressing. So I channel that passion, and anger, into things that give my emotion purpose. Oh I still burn a few bridges and raise some less than happy responses, but I’m not causing destruction for the sake of lashing out. I’m dismantling outmoded ideas and detrimental dogmas that restrict the rights and well being of everyone around me. Or at least I believe my stances are the ones doing that. I’m a fighter. I’ll always be a fighter. My road to healing doesn’t mean destroying everything I used to be, b/c like it or not my personality disorder is a part of me; what it does me for me though, is making it work for me, not against me. And not against everyone around me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Confessions on a Sunday: Bordering between one addiction and another...

It's been a rough day. For absolutely no reason at all other than I'm going utterly crazy being couped up in my condo with no gas to get me away from the boredom I can't bare. 

I've been struggling a lot lately. Struggling to keep my stress levels down. Struggling to keep the peace in my condo. Struggling to get myself under control. 

It comes as no surprise that it doesn't necessarily take a lot to spin me out of control. I'm not like out of control out of control, but I've definitely been slipping a little. 

Despite what Therapist says, I do think my drinking isn't normal. I haven't had a drink in 5 or 6 days, and it really hasn't been hard not too, but I think about it a lot. I just, need to get out of my own head sometimes and it's such an easy way to dull the never ending barrage of thoughts and nasty ruminations that pound my brain. 

I've been so good with my bulimia too lately. So good. I haven't had an episode in over a month. Maybe two. It's a good sign that I can't even remember. 

All the fighting around here lately has been getting to me. I finally blew my top at Doc and Monroe. They were arguing about groceries and video games, and honestly I know that's not the real issue. I know what the real issue is: Docs lack of responsibility and Monroe's utter lack of flexibility, but they've been at it so constantly lately. I walked out into the kitchen to pour myself a drink, slammed the ice tray down, and just blurted out, "You know what? Maybe you two should keep in mind that you love each other! You're screaming about video games and groceries. Blaming each other for problems instead of focusing on the solution. Seriously!." And then went back into my room and didn't come out again. 

Doc's been gone all weekend. It's just been me and Monroe. It's been nice and quiet. And lonely. 

They calmed down after I blew up, but I still feel like I fucked up pretty bad. 

This weekend has been rough. All my plans to see people, the people I need around that keep me stable by just being here, have had to break plans b/c of the gas shortage and no ability to get out here. I'm also in the same boat. I can maybe get to work on Monday, but I may have to call off Tuesday or take a very expensive cab. I don't know. 

Alone now. Struggling. I was even having dreams last night of refusing drinks that I wanted to have. 

Today the feeling has been almost overwhelming. I tried to distract myself with power yoga, my cats,... and then eventually food. Full on binge with the limited stocks of food I have piled up in case I can't get to the grocery again. Then full on purge. 

I've been so good lately. I know it's just a relapse. Not even a big one unless I let it get out of control. Which, for the record, I have no intentions of. Relapses happen. They always happen. Sometimes I think they're necessary to make me remember why I've been abstaining in the first place. It really does help me remember where I've been and why I chose differently, and why I want to continue to choose differently. 

I just, feel like shit right now. Relapsing is part of the process. I've been extremely strong with my cutting. Almost 2 years self-harm free. My bulimia comes and goes, but it's been in a very steady decrease with this being my first relapse in months. The drinking thing feels different though. My grandfather was an alcoholic, though to be fair, he quit cold turkey and never turned back, so maybe overcoming addiction is in my genes too. 

I'm just worried about me. Taking stock. It helps. It helps to recognize what is going on. Note it. I'm trying not to judge it. I'm clearly not coping well, and I messed up a little, but that doesn't mean it's all a wash. 

I feel like I smell like vomit and despair, but I still have the loviest kitty of mine curled up on my lap purring away as he sleep in my warmth. At least I have him. I'm so grateful I rescued him. He's my familiar, I don't consider him a pet. He really did choose me. It really is increadibly therapeutic to have someone that loves you unconditionally, that you can pour your love into and they don't expect anything more than foods and cuddles. Not to mention I can't get food or alcohol to binge on while he's on my lap b/c I feel much to guilty to move him. Haha, I think you have to be a crazy animal lover to really get that one though. 

Best therapy ever. 

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