Saturday, November 2, 2013

Month of Giving Thanks



Hello Everyone. It’s November! For those of us in the States that means a month of Thanksgiving. Despite the actual history of indigenous genocide and free range destruction … it’s typically a time to give thanks to all of the things we are thankful for and to do nice things for one another. 


This month I thought I would try something new in that spirit. I’m hoping to encourage people to donate a little here or there, whatever they can afford, so that WE can present one large gift donation to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation doing research on Borderline Personality Disorder in partnership with Families for Borderline Personality Disorder Research.  


“We are a grassroots group, Families for BPD Research, who have children and relatives with borderline personality disorder. In the past few years, we have met and talked with many in the mental health field and have discovered that research is precisely where answers will be found to help our family members and so many others cope with and recover from this devastating disorder. We are grateful to have connected with the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and formed a research partnership to support promising young investigators in BPD research.

Funding new investigators is vital to furthering research breakthroughs in areas which include underlying biological and environmental causes of BPD, earlier and better diagnoses, treatments tailored to individuals, improved quality of life, and recovery. Especially, with senior investigators in BPD research starting to retire, supporting young investigators now will provide them with valuable opportunity for guidance from these experienced researchers. Such collaboration will offer greater expansion of research initiatives, continue to broaden our common knowledge of BPD and give us increasing focus on and vision of recovery. “



What do you think? Is this something you’d be interested in helping me contribute to? Any little amount helps! In the end ultimately it will not only help people struggling with BPD everywhere, but it will help you as well. 




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brain Activity Patterns in Anxiety-Prone People Suggest Deficits in Handling Fear

So today I found an interesting article discussing the handling of Fear in anxiety prone people… like us. Borderline Personality Disorder has a deep issue revolving around the fear of abandonment and rejection. This creates intense anxiety which can often lead to Acting In and Acting Out in very destructive ways for us. I like being able to find these kinds of correlations and showing that, no in fact, we’re not just crazy people, check out this science…


Science Update • February 9, 2011

Anxiety as a personality trait appears to be linked to the functioning of two key brain regions involved in fear and its suppression, according to an NIMH-funded study. Differences in how these two regions function and interact may help explain the wide range of symptoms seen in people who have anxiety disorders. The study was published February 10, 2011 in the journal, Neuron.

Background

Anxiety disorders are characterized by an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations. Some people may experience general, chronic anxiety, while others become anxious in response to one or more specific triggers. Many studies have implicated two brain regions in anxiety—the amygdala in fear responses and the ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) in suppressing or regulating fear. Questions remain, however, about how trait anxiety—a person's typical anxiety level on any given day—affects amygdala and vPFC functioning.

To explore these questions, Sonia Bishop, Ph.D., of the University of California Berkeley (at the University of Cambridge (UK) at the time of data collection), and colleagues designed a series of experiments to determine how the amygdala and vPFC responded in three types of situations:

Cued fear—a neutral signal or cue is followed by an aversive event. In this study, the cue was an actor in a video placing his hands over his ears and the aversive event was a loud scream. The cue provided a reliable prediction of the aversive event. Cued fear can be compared to the situation-specific type of anxiety experienced by those with a specific phobia, such as a fear of heights.

Contextual fear—a neutral cue and an aversive event occur independently of each other. The cue did not provide a reliable prediction of the aversive event. Contextual fear may be similar to the non-specific anxiety that affects people with generalized anxiety disorder.

Safety—a neutral signal or cue occurs alone without an aversive event. The safety situation served as a comparison for the other two situations.

The researchers assessed the level of trait anxiety of 23 healthy study participants, ages 18 to 41. Each participant underwent a training session that exposed them to the above conditions. Two days after the training session, participants had their brain activity recorded through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a noninvasive imaging method, while re-exposed to the cued fear, contextual fear, and safety conditions in the scanner.
           
Now this study was done with “healthy” study participants… I’m going to assume this means non-personality disordered, non-depressive, non-anxiety disordered, etc., type of people.


Results from the Study

Participants with high trait anxiety showed greater amygdala response to cued fear situations compared to those with low trait anxiety. According to the researchers, this finding suggests that individual differences in amygdala response may contribute to differences in vulnerability to cue-specific anxiety disorders, such as specific phobia.

Unsurprisingly, different people have different levels of severity in their brain responses. Even in “healthy” people. Can you now imagine adding into this someone who is not considered “healthy”, who is HIGHLY anxiety prone, often because of past trauma, and constantly in a state of self-protection? For example, someone with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Participants with low trait anxiety showed increased ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) activity in response to cued fear and more strongly sustained vPFC activity during contextual fear situations, compared to those with high trait anxiety. Notably, vPFC activity in participants with low trait anxiety occurred before the aversive event had ceased. The researchers suggest that this process—engaging brain areas that help to suppress fear even when the source of fear is still present—may help to protect against chronic anxiety disorders even when stressful life events are ongoing.

            So… how do you do that???

Significance

The study's findings support a potential role of the amygdala in vulnerability to anxiety disorders and a potential role of the vPFC in protection against them.


"Individual differences in the functioning of one or both of these brain regions may help account for the variability in symptoms across different anxiety disorders," said Bishop. "A better understanding of these processes may help inform treatment choice and predict treatment response."

Ah, I see. Having an overdeveloped amygdala will make you more prone to anxiety. All of those fight and flight responses. Having an underdeveloped ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) will make it harder for you to suppress and handle fear.  Interesting, isn’t it?

 I’ve talked a lot about the neuroscience of BPD in the past and this plays right into previous findings for BPD, even though this isn’t for BPD. However, we’re people too and this still completely applies to us as well.  


This study was supported in part by a Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) from NIMH. Dr. Bishop was one of 12 researchers to receive this award in 2010.

Reference
Indovina I, Robbins TW, Núñez-Elizalde AO, Dunn BD, Bishop SJ.Fear-Conditioning Mechanisms Associated with Trait Vulnerability to Anxiety in Humans. Neuron. 2011 Feb 10;69(3):563-71.

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I find these studies fascinating and incredibly helpful in breaking the stigma that people with BPD are just volatile, acting out, emotional time bombs coming from nowhere. It’s just not true. You may not know what is triggering them, but there usually is a trigger, and unfortunately there is also a brain chemistry that is exaggerating those anxiety and fear responses.  



Now that doesn’t mean we are not still culpable for ourselves. We are still responsible for how we react and how we treat others. We may have some exaggerated wiring but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn tricks and techniques to learn to control these feelings. Just because the chemicals are pumping doesn’t mean the situation is actually as dire as it feels. That’s where DBT, CBT, even simple meditation, taking a brief walk to cool off… comes into play. We need to raise our personal awareness so that we can recognize our fear and anxiety responses in order to better control how we behave. Be mindful of yourself. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. It will all help on the road to taking control of your BPD and living a fuller and happier life. 






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Forgiveness Not Included

Yesterday I said there was one other issue I talked to my Therapist about that I was leaving for a separate post. The issue revolves around Forgiveness. So often we hear how healing forgiveness is. How healing it is for others, and for ourselves. Yes, it absolutely can be. But is it always? Is it always even necessary?

A couple of my friends have mentioned to me that they are doing something to make peace with their past. This includes making amends with my Evil-Ex.

First I’ll say that cognitively I do understand that they are allowed to have their own reasons for what they do and their lives are their own.
 
That said…

Part of me feels flat out betrayal by this. That’s an understatement. I just feel betrayed by it. I’m extremely angry about it. This is a man-child that abused me, and them (or would have if he could have gotten away with it in the one’s case), for years. I realize this is a selfish feeling, they’re doing this for them, not for me, but it’s how I feel.  I would never tell them this, but it feels like a complete betrayal.

Even as my one friend was in the process of trying to make amends with my him, my Evil-Ex blew up in a fit of narcissistic bullshit and paranoia and accused him of sleeping with me... because clearly that was the only reason he would have been friends with me. What? Um, no. As dear a friend as he is, one of my best friends in fact, that has never even come close to happening. It’s one of the reasons I trust him beyond pretty much anyone. But that’s the kind of thing my ex does. He makes up all these ridiculous stories and propaganda to explain away why someone could possibly do something that he doesn’t approve of or doesn’t revolve around him. He accused my friend of “hiding” our friendship, even though the whole time we were always flat out in the open about it, even though my ex gave him a ton of shit for it. The whole time. My ex couldn’t imagine why someone would just be friends with someone without “getting something out of it”. Especially me.  Friends because we actually just like each other? Shocking! Gaslighting is one of the things my Evil-Ex does best.

Why would you bother making amends with someone that abused you for years? That used you? Used and abused all the people around you? That you loved and cared for? Discarded them like pieces of trash to be stomped out and spit on like you were less than worthless?

I’m sorry but no. Never. The only reason that boy crosses my mind is for the purpose of my own healing and to use my experiences to grow and become stronger, and so that others my use my experiences and possibly grow from them as well. He means nothing to me.

Forgiveness is for people that deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness is for people that want to be forgiven. Forgiveness is for people that have taken responsibility for themselves and are making an effort to change in ways that are no longer hurtful.


I understand him. He’s a self-involved, Narcissist that never learned to grow up and be anything but a tantrum throwing man-sized child. A loud Beta male pretending to be an Alpha that has to rule his little group of friends through fear and manipulation because he doesn’t understand what it is to actually lead people. Sorry, but I don’t respect that. I never will.


The things he did to me were inexcusable. As far as I’m concerned they’re also unforgivable.


I will go to my grave knowing that he will never be forgiven and I will perfectly cont


ented with that fact.

Every time I work on an issue that involves him, I get over one more thing in which he had affected me. It’s one more abusive demon exorcised from my past that I can move on from and put behind me. Forgiveness won’t be necessary for me because he won’t mean anything to me.  Hell, he doesn’t mean anything to me now except as a lesson to be learned from and I still have PTSD (something else I’m coming to grips with) from that relationship.

I think people often think you can’t move on unless you forgive. I disagree. I learned a lot from the abuse that I was dealt. I’m a stronger person for it. He deserves no thanks for it but I learned from the experiences I was put through. I think you can come to peace with what happened to you through your own healing and can even draw strength and overcome what has happened to you. That is what you need to move on.



Therapist actually seems to think it’s not a bad quality to have such a decisive nature like I do. I worry that this is just my splitting, but then again, I didn’t actually imagine the stuff he did. I gave him every chance in the world to change, to show me even a modicum of decency… and unless he was getting something out of it; never. I’m past it all. It’s not worth my time to waste with trying to search my heart for forgiveness. He isn’t worth that effort. Someone capable of that kind of cruelty and maliciousness is worth nothing. Right up until the end I gave him every chance. I allow people to push me much, much too far in the hopes that they’ll somehow turn around, look back, and realize I’m a person too. When I’m done though, there’s no looking back. You’ve exhausted all your chances, all your extra chances, and probably a party full of chances you never should have had. No looking back. I’m absolutely fine with that. He has never shown any remorse, or apology for his behavior or treatment of me. None. 

My time, my energy, my effort, it all deserves to be poured into my own healing, and furthering the healthy relationships I have in my life right now. Those are the things that matter.


I’m not interested in Forgiving and Forgetting. Instead I’m going to Heal and Forget. Some people aren’t worth remembering. 





Monday, October 28, 2013

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy : Getting Something Off My Chest

I have to get something off my chest that has been affecting both me and my blog.  My one roommate has been reading along and it’s been inhibiting my ability to write about myself openly. She also showed some of the things to my other roommate in what felt like an attempt to hurt him. Working through my life, and my emotional issues should not be used as a weapon to wound someone else.  I was really pretty pissed off about this.  I also haven’t felt like I’ve been able to write about the things affecting me in my day to day life because quite frankly, my roommates are big factors in that. Out of respect for them I’ve refrained.





Well, at this particular moment, I just don’t care. I’m pissed off. Things have been imploding so hard around here (not with me, with them) that I can’t stand it. I need to vent.  The bickering and the bitching is driving me to my wits end. My one roommate at least tries. He speaks reasonably at first and at least approaches their conversations with a reasonable tone and from a perspective of wanting to fix problems. Not her. Oh no, not her. From the very first second she is on the attack. Everything is so fucking negative. She shoots down everything he says. Everything he does is wrong, bad, or not good enough. Her tone is biting, cruel, and condescending. I’m sorry but it is never fucking okay to talk to someone like that. Not ever. Sure I used to talk to my parents this way... when I was a teenager. But then I grew up. Especially not about the bullshit things they argue about; Magazines, dishes, shoes, … of course some things are much bigger because their relationship isn’t working, but she attacks him about EVERY SINGLE THING. It’s not okay. She’s an adult and she has no right to talk to people like that. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to cut out her tongue and shove it down her fucking throat. I mean, he has his moments too, but he has to be pushed to them.

He can’t even say hello to her when she walks in the door without her biting his head off… unless of course I’m around. I guess she doesn’t want me to see her act like this? Our condo isn’t that big. I fucking hear it every day. I started keeping a running list of all the bullshit things they bicker about.

 
I stopped leaving my bedroom.


I used to paint in the living room. It has the best light and my incredible entertainment center. They argue so frakking much I don’t want to be around them. The only way I can tolerate it is if I’m drinking. And if they’re having an especially loud night and I have no where to go, I start drinking heavily.

Effective communication. Learn it. I have a personality disorder people. Not to mention all my other problems. And yet…. I’ve learned all these amazing skills and tools. I just want to be like, HERE! It’s not that hard. Yeah it takes time and a little effort, but you have no excuse to treat another human being like this. You’re an asshole sometimes. But it’s not my relationship and I’m not involving myself in their business. I’m just bringing my painting and my wine into my room and hiding out with my cats.

I’m so heartbroken for him because I know how much he loves her.  I know I should keep my opinions to myself, but frankly, I want him to find someone that actually deserves him. He deserves to be built up, not torn down every day. That’s what anyone deserves really. Everyone has their issues but he’s trying so hard to make the changes that make his life better.  The changes she asked for.  Fuck it all.

I’m angry. I just hope it changes for the better because I really adore both of my roommates and it’s doing a number on my sanity.

I haven’t been able to keep ahold of my impulsivity at all.

I’ve been hanging out with my tattoo artists. He’s a really rockin’ guy. I admit to perhaps crushing on him a bit in the past.  We’ve been friends for a while (read: years) and he offered to teach me how to oil paint so finally I took him up on it. He was going through a hard time due to a recent break up, and I knew he was lonely, so I kind of used the painting more of as an excuse than anything, but I knew he needed company so we made plans to hang out.  We spent the entire night talking, drinking wine, talking, drinking wine, eventually, getting around to painting, finishing our 2nd bottle of wine, more painting, more talking, doing shots of Absinthe… because we’re artistic painter types of course we’re going to do at least a couple shots of Absinthe… We talked about a lot. He’s one of the few people I actually talk to very naturally about pretty much everything (I later found out that I am the same way with him). I’ve sat for nearly 25 hours’ worth of ink with him and we generally talk the whole time, but apparently this is not typical. We have a lot in common and it’s easy to just be myself. Though he does make me hella nervous because he is such an extraordinary artist and I’m just learning.



I had a blast with him painting, though I got way too drunk to do a proper job of it. We ended up watching horror movies and drinking more. By this point I know I should have stopped drinking. Hell I should have stopped drinking at the 2nd bottle of wine, let alone the shots of Absinthe, but stress, don’t care. I felt like I was in a movie everything was mostly surreal, right up until the point where he kissed me and I absolutely was okay with it. Two impulsive decisions in one night. Can you really call them decisions if they're impulsive? I mean, really? What are you deciding there? You're just doing.  I actually really like him, but it’s also really pretty triggering for me. I’m not really ready to be involved with a guy. But on the other hand, the way we get along and how much we have in common is pretty frakking rad. And so easy. There’s absolutely no pretense or nerves or jitters. I can just be me b/c he already knows me. I’ve been dealing with a lot of trauma issues and it’s getting to me in odd ways. I don’t want to displace my past issues onto him. However he does know I have these issues because we’re really good at communicating and he’s open to listening.

You’re probably wondering about my New Lady. Hey, me too. Things had kind of cooled off. She went on vacation, things kept coming up, I wasn’t hearing from her, not seeing her at all. I kept texting her, and getting almost nothing in response. I have object constancy problems. If you don’t talk to me, even a just a brief text or something, how am I supposed to feel like a part of your life? We haven’t been dating very long and we have no commitment to speak of… anyone he knows I’m seeing her, so, until her and I decide to make something official of this, which also depends on whether it goes anywhere… idk.


Therapist probably thinks I’m Acting Out a bit because of all the stress. She thinks I need to talk to my New Lady which I had planned to.  At the time I had Therapy I hadn’t, but I’ve had a chance to by now, and things are going stronger with her. She wants me to work on things more with New Lady and see where that goes. On the one hand I do too. On the other hand I’m in a very impulsive place right now and everything with her is being really frustrating. I was making all of the effort. And if I’m not making all of the effort, well, not much. But as soon as I see her, it’s like we were never apart.


Everyone has been vying for my attention lately though. I don’t understand how extroverted people do it. I need to recharge. I feel so drained.  Things were a mess here on Wednesday so I had to escape. I literally could not stand here without feeling like I was escaping my own body so Tattoo Artist said I could come hang out with him. I never feel stressed out with him (except occasionally at the thought of having sex).  He’s very relaxing to hang out with. Friday I finally saw my New Lady. I made Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, we had wine, and we were able to figure out what was going on and where we wanted to go so that’s at least a little promising. On Saturday GF was visiting from PA so I hung out with her in the afternoon/early evening. Then went to a wedding with my New Lady in the Evening.


Oh goodness the wedding. She was quite drunk. Which was cute, but she kept pulling me up to dance… with other people and then leaving me to go pull other people out on the dance floor… I didn’t know anyone there! I was afraid of looking silly because this was a VERY traditional wedding from her culture, I didn’t know the style of dance very well (which was beautiful and fun! I was just a tad insecure b/c it was so new), and I was so alone and overstimulated I was started to dissociate a little.  Also b/c she’s not “out” we were only there “as friends” so she had to really play it more distant as well. That was fine. I went in knowing that, but I wasn’t okay with being pulled out to dance with strangers and then left while she ran around gathering other people and leaving me alone. All I could do was plaster a smile on my face and remember that I’ve been dancing since I was 7. She did tell me that people were complimenting me on how lovely I danced though, which was nice. Ultimately I had to leave a little early, b/c I was so tired and so overwhelmed, but I think I did it very gracefully and I didn’t let my anxiety show.

Even Sunday I woke up early to make Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart bread and clean so I could have friends over and have a movie night.

 It was nice catching up with GF though. Remember her? I got to vent about my old BPD friend Riot. My buddy is having a birthday in December. He’s renting a cabin for a weekend. Riot is invited. I’m actually really anxious about staying with her for a couple days. I haven’t seen her since our friendship ended. I did write her a nice letter of closure and explanation on my part. No blaming. No anger. Just explanation, caring, and well wishes for her…. I wanted closure for the both of us, but that doesn’t mean I want to reconcile and that doesn’t mean I want her in or near my life. I’m worried she hasn’t changed and that she’s still a giant ball of DRAMA and emotional draining. I’ve worked so hard to get all of that out of my life. I hate the thought of allowing that into my life even for a couple of days. She was never able to take any personal responsibility for herself. I know I should try to stop myself from ruminating and thinking the worst, because I can’t possibly know what she has or hasn’t done with her life, but she always blamed everyone else, “she was always the victim”.  I’m really worried what it’s going to bring up.


My past keeps coming back into my present. There are times I remember why I used to keep so many parts of my life compartmentalized. If I had I wouldn’t have to be dealing with this right now.


There was one more thing Therapist and I talked about but I think I’ll put that in a special post b/c this is getting really long.






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