Friday, April 26, 2013

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Never Happening For Me


I don’t want people to be close to me. Sometimes I just don’t. But it’s not just that I don’t want it. I don’t know how to let someone. I can’t just say, Okay, come on in! Here’s the door!

Where exactly is the door? What does it even look like?

There are days I like myself. There are days I think I’m okay. Most days I just don’t think I’m a very good person. Cognitively I have a very good idea of all of these amazing things I’ve accomplished. I have multiple engineering degrees in some of the hardest fields I could have attempted. I volunteer because I enjoy it. I donate to charity because I think it’s a worthy thing to do. I take care of myself. I’m completely self-sufficient. I think I’m doing some helpful stuff here with my blog… I just, don’t know…. Something deep down in my psyche just doesn’t want to let go of the idea that I’m damaged. Can’t. I don’t know how.

Therapist wonders if it’s because my best friends are going through these great changes in their lives. I’ll be honest. I got a little pissed off at this. Yeah Zoe and xRoommate found their special someone’s to spend the rest of their lives with, but my issues don’t diminish my happiness for them at all. I can in fact separate my own issues from my shear and utter happiness for them. In fact it’s kind of amazing because when I think about them I can be happy and separate from my own bullshit for a while. It’s like she’s completely missed the fact that I’ve felt like this my entire bleeding life. This is not a new issue. I have literally felt like this for as long as I can remember. Since I was very, very small.

I kind of love even more that they have someone and something so big going on. Especially that they want me involved. It makes me feel loved. I think they know that too. I love, love, love that I can be involved. That I can help. That I can be useful. That I can be part of their memories in a way that they’ll love and appreciate.

That’s what friends are for. I love that I can be that kind of friend.

Now if only I could figure out how to be that kind of girlfriend. I just, don’t get it. I don’t see it for myself. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I don’t see something that good or that permanent happening to me. Therapist got onto a Body Dysmorphic thing but it’s not just that. For me it goes back to when I was little I’m sure. Just not feeling good enough. Not believing I was good enough. Not believing that how I feel is right or appropriate or okay. Not believing that my best is the best it can be. I internalized those things so hard. So incredibly hard. I can’t get rid of them. It’s that Failure Schema and aversion to intimacy.   

I like being able to take care of other people, but I don’t know how to let people close enough to take care of me. I think it’s why I’m able to be such a good friend, but I screw up so hard at relationships.

And this thing with Tech Boy just is not working for me. Not at all. I’m getting more and more frustrated. He’s starting to notice too. Finally.

Two Major Problems.

One. While he’s definitely trying to change and be better it doesn’t change the fact that he’s so incredibly inexperienced in relationships. He’s great if things are already fine and easy, but if I need any kind of support for even the most mundane of issues I’m completely on my own. For example: I’m frustrated, underappreciated, and understimulated at work. His idea of “support” is to “leave it at work”.  I tried telling him that this didn’t really work for me and that I was really looking for something a bit more supportive and sympathetic than that, but all he gave me after that was… well I tried. Not really.

Two. I’m bored. Really, really bored. We have nothing in common. I think he has a more interesting relationship with his truck that he’s building than he does with me.  We have nothing to talk about. He doesn’t challenge me. He doesn’t inspire me. He isn’t passionate about anything. Except maybe building that truck. Me? I’m completely the opposite. I am moved by SO many things. I’m an equal rights activist. An artist. I craft. I sew. I cook. Bake. Paint. Exercise. Costume. Throw parties. Participate in movements. All kinds of crazy things. I need to be passionate and inspired. He brings me down and just sort of drains me of my energy. It’s sad.

Even if he is a fantastic snuggler. So there’s a bonus. But that’s just not enough.     

::sigh:: He’s a good guy. I know this is not a case of splitting. I don’t think he’s evil or bad or anything like that. I’m just honest to goodness not satisfied with the direction of this relationship. I’m not in love with him. I don’t see myself being in love with him. I’m starting to hyper focus on all the little things that bother the crap out of me. Like when he brushes his teeth and then kisses me except his mustache is still wet and it makes my face all wet too. Grr. I just, Grr. Grr. Stop. Dry your face first. That used to not bother me even a little bit. It used to be cute. Now it aggravates the piss out of me. It’s all of those types of things.  
                                                                                                           
I know he cares about me. He is nice to me. And that does matter. It does. But it’s not necessarily enough. That’s a great foundation for a friendship but relationships need more.

And frankly I think I’m a little too complicated for him. He is a very straight forward, easy going guy that’s never had to deal with something more complicated than freezing his housemates silverware in a fruit punch bowl overnight as a practical joke in college. Or say, raising enough money to fund next week’s kegger. Those are his life’s struggles.  . I feel terrible. I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to break his heart. But I don’t want to be unhappy either.

Successful relationships need to be supportive and complimentary on all levels; emotionally, physically and mentally.  Every single detail doesn’t have to be perfect. Hell, it never will be. That’s what friends are for. You have friends that you can share a specific interest with here, another interest with there… but in general your life partner should have a good spread. We just don’t. I think I need someone a little more worldly. A little more mature.  A little closer to my own level. He’s not.

Or I can stay single and surround myself with my friendships which I know I’m good at. I’m starting to get really frustrated, which is starting to make me angry. It’s time for me to figure out how to take care of this. Yet, I feel anxious about ending it at the same time. Voicing the need to end it is like a fist in my gut.

Meh. I guess I’ve just been a little down this week. At least I’m back on my proper medication. Yeesh.

My tattoo artist wants to do a Victorian/Steampunk photoshoot this weekend. That’s cool. I’m kind of self-conscious right now. Fuck it. My muscle tone is looking pretty great though. That’s all I have planned for this weekend. That and making a dress. I found a really amazing dress on-line that I fell in love with. I didn’t really like the cut, but I LOVED the fabric. It was super expensive though. So I tracked down the fabric. Bought a few yards for $30 and now I’m going to make a more flattering dress for $30. I’m so thankful that I’m a talented seamstress. I really want to have it done for next weekend.

I’m flying back to see my family, and possibly Zoe. My brother is graduating from our alma mater with his M.B.A. (Yay Brother!)  I’m really stoked to see everyone. Especially my sister. I haven’t seen them in ages. I didn’t get to go home for Easter because of the couple of grand I had to drop on fixing my car so it’ll be nice to see everyone. I definitely get a bit homesick when I’ve been gone for too long. It’s hard only seeing my family a few times a year. I need a family re-charge.

I don’t know. I’m all out of sorts right now. I need a retreat. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Approach A Loved One about Seeking a Therapist


Something I’m asked a lot is: How do I let someone know theymight be Borderline? And the answer to that is you absolutely do NOT do that. Ever. Just don’t. It’s not your place. However. The thing that you can do is encourage them to seek therapy. Which is the next most frequent thing I’m asked. How can I encourage my loved one to seek therapy.
  


The answer to that is: Very, very gently. And from a place of caring.


1.      First it’s important to do a little of your own soul searching and understand your own motivations. Do you want this for the other person or for yourself? Wanting someone to see a therapist can be loaded with your own ideas of what is normal and appropriate behavior. Make sure you’re certain that you’re not just trying to impose your own ideas of normality onto someone else.

If it is in fact a situation that is of appropriate seriousness where you don’t feel you have the required skills and emotional strengths to handle it on your own and need to seek professional intervention the first thing you need to do is:

·         Let your Loved One know that you need to have an important conversation with them. This helps to focus their attention and implies they should take it seriously.

·         Pic a good time and place. Avoid talking during family gatherings or when you’re fighting.

·         Approach with empathy. You might say something like “I know this is really hard for you, but I’m talking to you because I love you. If I didn’t care, we wouldn’t be having this talk.”

·         Be prepared for the person to be upset – and try not to get defensive.

·         Use “I” statements, such as “I’m concerned about you.”


2.      Talk openly but gently with the person.  Have an attitude of compassion rather than blaming. Do not choose a heated moment or argument with a friend or partner to tell them they need counseling. Let them know that you see them struggling or having difficulty. Let them know that you’ve noticed that they seem to be going through something. You care about them and you only want them to feel better, not to continue struggling and remaining in pain so it might be beneficial for them to talk to someone that is professional trained to help with these kinds of issues.

3.      Stress that this is not a replacement for the support of friends and family. You will still be there. Your love and support will still be there. You will still be there. You just aren’t equipped with all the skills that you think could help. All professionally trained help is, is an additional, neutral source of help who is bound by confidentiality not to reveal anything about what is discussed between them. Sometimes it’s really nice to have a neutral 3rd party to talk to. It provides a sense of safety, as well as an outlet for talking and working through issues. Plus they have more resources and skills at their disposal.

4.      Be patient. Especially when it comes to someone with BPD. We don’t always react well to the suggestion of seeing a therapist. Many people react very badly in fact so be prepared for this. Often people take the implication of needing to see a therapist as a sign of weakness. At worst people take the suggestion as a betrayal that they aren’t able to cope with their life. Which may be true, but they clearly aren’t able to deal with the suggestion. Be patient and remain calm. It’s important to convey that everyone at times needs help. Therapists are there for those times. It absolutely does not make you any less capable as a human being. All it means is that you are in fact, a human being, and that sometimes you need a hand. It’s okay.

5.      Give the person time to think things over if they react poorly to the suggestion. Don’t push too much too quickly. That will only make them feel pressured and trapped and incapable. This will never get you the response you want. Use your best judgment to gauge when it might be appropriate to raise the matter again.

6.      Be supportive and encouraging. Indicating your willingness to be a part of a counseling effort. Don’t leave them to flounder on their own. Offer to help them find a good therapist and help them out. When someone is going through a difficult time even something simple like finding a therapist can seem overwhelming. Help them out! Be prepared! If you’re suggesting they go into therapy then you’ve committed yourself into this process of helping them.

7.      Educate yourself. Know something about therapy. This goes along with the be supportive part. It helps to do a little bit of research. If you’re helping your Borderline find a therapist. Look into Dialectical Behavior Therapy. See if there are any programs in your area. We have specific types of therapy designed just for us. If your partner or loved on struggles with certain things, try to find someone that specializes in those areas. Be proactive! Make things as easy on your loved on as possible and you’ll help ensure that things will go as smoothly as possible!

8.      Remember that they are hurting and these things are not easy for them to talk about.

*********

9.      Sharing Experiences: Another approach that works for me because I’m very open about the fact that I’m in therapy and that it is helpful for me is simply to state that fact: "Sometimes I have found that I'm going through a stage in my life when I just can't handle it on my own. That's when I call my therapist. Seeing her makes a huge difference, not just for me, but for everyone in my life. I think you would feel a lot better if you saw a therapist, too." It often helps to share something of yourself so they don’t feel singled out and isolated. It can also make the entire process much less scary and much less shameful.

             Mind you this wasn't always the case. I fought the idea of therapy for 18 years before I opened to the idea of it. At first I was incredibly resistant to the idea. Of course I also was not approached very productively either. My parents attempted to corner and force me into it. This was a terrible approach. I didn't think there was anything wrong with me. I didn't feel I could trust my parents or the way they approached me. I didn't think I could trust a counselor or therapist. Why would a stranger care after all?  Who was this stranger? What made them think they would know me? I was insulted. I felt threatened. I felt betrayed. This is why approaching with care is so important. If you don't you'll only push the person away. 


10.  Another line of thinking that can be helpful is to remind the person that going to see a therapist when you have relationship problems is a sign of both common sense and strength. If your roof starts leaking after a big storm, you probably don't spend a lot of time berating yourself for not being able to re-roof your house by yourself. If your car's engine needs a tune-up, you probably won't feel ashamed or guilty for paying good money to get a professional to do the job. It is impossible to see yourself as another person sees you, and a therapist can provide that service to help you feel better. Whether it is a roof, a car, yourself, or a marriage, it makes sense to bring in a professional at the appropriate time. {1}
 


11.  Above all, VALIDATE your loved ones feelings and experiences. Reinforce that you care and that you only want them to feel as best as they can. You worry. You care. You think this route could be helpful for their well-being.



Things to AVOID:
·         It is always a mistake to say flatly to someone that they might "need help" which is almost always taken as a value judgment, a shaming criticism or perhaps just as an indication that you don't want to take time to listen or to understand their predicament.

·         Do not JUDGE.

·         Do not give Ultimatums.

·         Do not Demand.

·     Do not use ‘You’ statements. That is sentences that begin with “You”. These sounds like accusations. Always use “I” statements when possible. 




Above All you have to remember: Seeking help and seeking therapy is up to your Loved One. It is ultimately their life and their choice. You can’t make them do something against their will. All you can do is create boundaries for your own life and express your concerns and hopes for them. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Basic Mistakes and some Advice from the Borderline

Ugh. 

So here's a reminder from someone that should be a pro at this stuff by now. 

Everyone makes stupid mistakes. 
Remember how I started taking Topamax a little over a month ago? Psychiatrist upped my dosage about a week ago. I was at 25mg for the first two weeks then 50 mg the next two (2 of the 25mg tablets). Then he upped me to 100 mg. 

At the beginning of each week I partition out my weeks meds in my little weekly pill box so I don't miss my daily meds. All responsible like. Right?  

The 25 mg tablets are tiny white tablets. So I think I just assumed that the larger white tablets I was taking were Of Course the bigger version of tiny white Topamax that I'd been taking. And not, my 50mg Trazadone that I take for sleeping... which I hadn't been taking at all for ages because I hadn't needed them. 

I take my meds in the morning. About 15 minutes after I'd taken my "new" meds, and gotten on the road to go to work I'd been exhaustedly tired. I was thinking my "new" dose of meds was just too high and not working for me. It absolutely never occured to me that I had picked up the wrong bottle that one morning and put the wrong meds into my container. 

I don't know how I did it. Maybe I was extra groggy? Maybe I hadn't put my glasses on yet? I picked up the bottle this morning though and realized the pills that I should be taking were smooth and YELLOW... not flat and white. Damn. I've been taking the wrong meds all week completely by accident. I knew something was up, and I even started only taking a half dose of the "new" med and at night b/c I couldn't be tired in the morning haha, but damn, ::sigh::. 

Anyways. The Topamax has been good for me. No real side effects except not being able to taste carbonation as well. I haven't had as much of an appetite so as a result I haven't had any bulimic binges at all in more than a month. Bonus. I also haven't been drinking nearly as much. Double Bonus. 

I have a little confession to make. My eating disordered side is happy and extra happy about this. In a we might be able to escape the bulimia way, and in a we may be able to lean more anorexic way. Which I completely recognize is also not healthy. I'm working on self-acceptance, but I still have a long way to go. I struggle so hard with my body and my body image. I struggle with even wanting to get healthy sometimes. I know I should, but I don't always care about this particular issue. 

All this really tells me, is that I still have work to do, because I'm still battling a sickness here. 


So here's a little piece of advice. Double check those Prescription Labels before you take your meds. Especially Double check them if you're filling up for the whole week. 




Monday, April 22, 2013

Smothered – Too much of a good thing


One of the {many} things that is confusing about some of us with BPD is that we have these intense fears of abandonment and of being alone, yet we still need time to ourselves without company. Frankly I think this is human nature. While some people with BPD do have a more co-dependent need for 100% human contact… many of us still have fairly normal levels of needing to be with someone while needing to balance that with needing time to ourselves.


These fears of abandonment and these fears of being alone are very psychological. Ask any person with a proper sense of connectivity to their loved ones and they’ll probably tell you that they can feel Not Abandoned even when their loved ones aren’t in the immediate area. Even if this isn’t true for those of us {some of us} with BPD that doesn’t change the fact that as human beings, sometimes we just need time ourselves. Too much contact can be too much. In fact, it can be pretty darn smothering.


Sometimes people hear “fear of abandonment” or “hates to be left alone” with BPD and automatically assume that the best way to alleviate this is to constantly be physically present. To literally never abandon them or leave them alone. I can see the thought process there, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is not having an internalized sense that the other person is emotionally connected and being able to hold onto that feeling. It’s psychological. What we really need to is develop a proper sense that relationships extend even when they’re out of sight. That’s actually not easy to verbalise, or even to realize. Which is probably why we can always want to have someone around, but simultaneously go a little batty when they’re always around and doing things for us, near us, or around us.

It can be very difficult to reconcile the feeling of needing constant reassurance and availability on the part of our partner, but also recognizing that when they’re always their it can be irritating, maybe a little claustrophobic, or even completely suffocating. They don’t even necessarily need to be doing anything to cause this sensation, but having too much contact, even with BPD can be a bad thing.
Talk about ambivalence.

It’s important to work towards a balanced relationship, not to just try to alleviate the obvious symptoms. Many, maybe most, of us don’t know how to really be close to someone because we never learned. We were never taught. So we can reach for something, think we want something, but not be prepared for how it feels, or doesn’t. We can know we don’t want to be alone, so naturally it seems we should always have someone around… but the problem isn’t really being alone, it’s not having a healthy sense of attachment and constancy. So that constant attention, even if we/they think it’s what we need, it can suddenly seem smothering! Instead of literally, always being 100% present (which really is unreasonable for most people), it’s important to develop a relationship of communication and trust. We should try to develop a psychological & emotional attachment that is 100% present, not necessarily a physical one where we don’t give each other any space.

For me, there are a few different scenarios that can make me feel smothered. Especially in a new relationship.

If someone comes on too strong, too fast it’s often like sensory overload. When someone wants to spend all of their time with you and see you constantly, it’s a lot of pressure and can even feel controlling. You no longer have time to do the things you need to do, or want to do, that require time to yourself.

Sometimes it can be about control. If someone always tries to plan, or pay, or take charge, it gives me nothing to do. It can feel controlling, or like I’m being controlled, even if that’s not the intention. If you’re like me, you’ve felt out of control, or like you’ve had too little control over the things in your life. Not having a say with someone that comes on too strong, can feel like walls closing in.

It can often seem like if we’re not getting enough attention, our partner doesn’t love us. But on the other hand if they give us all their time, shower us with gifts, want to do all of these cute things for us, it can feel smothering. Lose-lose. I’m not very good at people showering me with gifts or doing things for me. I’m the type of person that has to do everything for everyone else so I feel useful, like I have a purpose to them so I can rationalize why they would want me in their life. I don’t believe someone could really want me around if I didn’t “bring something to the relationship”. Whatever that relationship may be. So when people shower me with tokens of their affection, want to do things for me, it makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s like they’re doing my role. They might not need me if they are capable of doing all of these things for me, and therefore for themselves.

There can also be an intense amount of pressure that comes with it. When a loved one begins to shower me with attention or gifts or something, I feel like I’m not worthy of that kind of expression. Like I’ll screw it up somehow. It makes me feel like I have to live up to having earned that kind of attention. Live up to a standard of perfection that I don’t feel emotionally equipped to do all the time. If I can’t do that, I’ll let them down, and no longer be worthy of these gifts. Almost as if they were a reminder of my own shortcomings and inadequacies. Clearly this is not the intent of having a loved one shower you with gifts and loving attention! However it can feel like it, and feelings are intense personal things. Feelings of low self-worth and self-doubt, feelings of being a failure for your partner, not deserving… these are real feelings and very real problems.

Intimacy, emotional intimacy, makes us feel smothered. Most of us, if not all, have never learned how to be truly intimate. We don’t have natural brakes or a natural sense of emotional progression in relationships. It’s classic borderline behavior is to feel smothered by intimacy whenever others come close and to feel completely terrified about being abandoned if they move back. A classic borderline move is to dump anyone who wants you and cling desperately to anyone who wants to get away from you. (Hell, I’ve been starting to feel this right now!) Emotional intimacy is frightening for us, because intimacy and love is often equated with pain and suffering. So we want the beautiful healing idea of love and intimacy, but we rarely have an internalized concept of it. In its place, we have an abusive, destructive concept of it. So while we want this thing, or try for this thing, this fear of what we know often wins out.

It’s important to understand that these feelings of emotional suffocation aren’t intentional. No one looks at someone and thinks, “Wow, they’re being too good to me, well time to start holding my breath”. 

It’s like the more emotional space someone takes up in the room of your heart, the less room for air there is for you to breathe.

The causes for this are our many maladaptive defense and coping methods that have been ingrained in us. When something becomes too good, the fear of losing it becomes even worse. So subconsciously we prepare ourselves for the loss of it. It’s like our psyche is rejecting the implant of love and affection someone is trying to penetrate our mind with. We need to unlearn these maladaptive mechanism and replace them with healthy adaptive ones.  

Some of us also just don’t like surprises. People can think that surprise displays of affection are romantic. For me they’re panic inducing. I’ve had friends that just liked to show up because they were thinking about me. I hate this. It sets my nerves on edge and I just want to push them right back out of the door. I’m not ready, I’m not prepared, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have body Dysmorphic problems, you can’t just sneak up on me and expect me to be receptive. I need to prepare myself. When people just show up, with no warning, it feels like I’ve lost control of my day. I’m very independent, which sometimes I think means I need to have more than your average amount of control in my life. When someone else pushes on me like this, I feel pressure to not be ungracious, but also needing to reclaim the structure that my day had previously held. This often results in a lot of thinly veiled anxiety and irritation.

Probably one of the biggest issues of relationships is the sense of our loss of self. Relationships are consuming. The dynamic can take over a lot of time that was previously spend doing whatever the heck you wanted to do on our own. Where there used to me Me and Him. Or Her and Me… There now becomes We. In a relationship you need to pay attention to the needs of both people. Often we can become so focused on the needs of our partner that we forget about our own. Or alternatively, we can be so wrapped up in our need issues that dedicating the time that our partner demands can be too much. Everything is about “us together” which leaves very little room for personal expression and personal experience. In short, it can feel like you’re losing a part of yourself, like you’re disappearing into the relationship. Before you know it the attention of your partner can feel more like a weight stifling your individuality.

I think the root of this is when something is moving faster emotionally than we are prepared to deal with; or we perceive our partner is moving faster emotionally then we are. What may be a fairly typical emotional development for many relationships is going to feel very different for someone with BPD. It can feel like a lot of pressure that we don’t feel equipped to live up to for all the varying reasons of low sense of self-worth, self-esteem, fear of failure, abandonment, etc. 


We don’t always know how to ask for space though. Hell, it’s not always clear why we feel so irritated or suffocated. We have a fear of aloneness, so we have someone around, but then it feels bad, like to can’t breathe, panicky, and when we become emotionally panicky instead of responding with reason, we simply react and push away. We don’t always know the reason, but we know the feelings we’re experiencing. Instead of simply reacting to the feelings, we need to figure out the reasons behind the feelings and then learn to communicate those feelings in a productive way. It’s okay to not have a solution at first. You can work on that together. Write down what it is you’re feeling. Don’t judge the feeling, just write them down. Then look at each line and brainstorm from there. You can do this on your own first to get an idea of what you need to talk about and help yourself identify the triggers and things that make you feel smothered, first. When you’ve pulled together some of your thoughts and feelings then you can bring it to your partner and try to figure out what can work for both of you, as individuals, together. 
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