I was on a walk today because I really needed to get out of the house as my emotions were tormenting me and I felt crazy. Something weird started happening on my walk, I looked at the trees and suddenly felt so small, like I’d shrunk and I literally felt like a child now that I’m out of that state I don’t know how to describe how it felt other than… childlike.
I did a sketch of myself with a smaller me inside (I won’t show it, looks like crap lol) but I think it symbolized well what was going on with me at the time, I had experienced stuff like that before where I didn’t feel like I was in my own body, like I was either possessing someone else’s or someone was possessing mine but this time was different, it is the most intense experience of this I had, I think if I hadn’t tried to control what was happening I would have reverted completely to my childlike state.
I was talking online to someone else with BPD and she said that what I had experienced was called ‘Regression’ I had heard of it before and after some research I believe I have been in some sort of regressive state for years now (I still sleep with a cuddly toy, sometimes talk with a baby voice and I have a fantastical imagination that I use in play)
Sigmund Freud said that regression is when the ego mind refers back to an earlier stage of development as a coping mechanism, basically if you’re overwhelmed by the stress of being an adult, your mind will automatically switch to ‘child mode’ to help you cope. Regression usually occurs in people who have faced trauma or abuse in childhood. Freud claimed that a traumatized adult can revert to a time where they felt safe (their younger days where they may have been shielded from overwhelming situations) when faced with insecurity, anger or other forms of distress. Regression can take different forms, for some they may throw tantrums, chew things or use baby talk. For more details click this link; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578899/
How Does regression relate to bpd?
I’ve heard people with BPD being described like emotional burn victims, no thick skin just raw emotion, I heard we don’t handle situations of stress as maturely as we should. that we’re stuck repeating a certain stage of emotional development. I remember discussing this with my therapist, instead of growing and learning to handle distress in better ways, we’re stuck replaying a state of trauma in our past and coping how we would have at that time instead of focusing on the now. For example I use toys and imaginative play to escape rather than confront a situation head on but my real life issues often get expressed in this childlike manner, I come up with fantasy stories where the heroine overcomes some sort of trauma to save the world or battles a monster symbolic of someone from my life I perceive as such, much like the game deltarune if you go with “the main character has PTSD” theory.
Here are some links to posts from people with BPD talking about regression:
How and Why does it affect me?
I have multiple theories as to why I regress so bear with me; The first is guilt and responsibility. One of my most intense emotions has always been guilt. It would be so debilitating for me that I would not be able to function until I punished myself in some sort of way to make amends for my wrongs. I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t affect as bad as it used to… until today.
This morning, I was awake, thinking about my regrets and the debilitating guilt clutched on to my heart (I get chest pains when I’m like this). I started panicking as I remembered my past actions from guilt (sometimes I think I traumatize myself) I didn’t want to hurt myself but the guilt was getting overbearing. It was shortly after this I regressed. Now this could be because I took myself back to a time where my guilt was so strong (when I was about 9-11years old) by remembering it or it could be me reverting to a childlike state so I wouldn’t have to take responsibility and face my guilt. Both seem plausible but the next one is a little nicer.
Creative Freedom, when I was a child I was very imaginative and creative with basically no shame in expressing myself whether that be through writing, drawing or performing arts. However when I got into high school, went through puberty, got bullied by peers and my work scrutinized and criticized by teachers, shame hit me to the point that I was self-conscious of everything I did. I completely stopped drawing or writing for fear that my work was not good enough or shameful. Its only recently I felt more able to express myself. I love being inspired to create it gives me hope and sense of childlike glee when I get a new idea. I guess by reverting back to my childlike state I’m tapping in to who I was, creative and imaginative with no shame and pure love for everything I create (even if they are crap lol)
Third theory is fear and insecurity. Yes I admit I still sleep with a cuddly toy (my favorite is a bear called Sammy who I’ve had since I was 7 years old). I asked my neurofeedback therapist why I still do this at 20. She said something like toys are used as transition objects for children when their parents can’t be with them, to help their independence develop without overwhelming them. For me, that means when my dad left the family home, my brain moved its attachment from my dad to a toy for comfort. As someone with BPD, who hasn’t quite moved on from that stage, I still use cuddly toys to fill that need for comfort (especially at bedtime as I’m still scared of the dark). Toys can’t leave you and are much less complicated than human attachments for someone with BPD.
Another thing I do is use a baby voice. I am so sensitive to people’s tone of voice if something is even a little bit off with your voice I’ll pick up on it and worry. I remember getting told off by a teacher for using a rude tone and them getting angry with me, thus triggering my BPD tendencies. Since then I have spoken in a higher, babyish voice to try and sound as nice as possible so people I perceive to be in authority won’t get angry with me. It’s become a really annoying habit now. Recently when I was serving customers my sweet little baby voice slipped out and I cringed so hard. At the same time if I’m in a bad mood I don’t always want people to know so I overcompensate with the voice so people don’t think I’m mad at them.
In college I wanted to be happy, have people like me and hide my depression/anxiety. I would use forced positivity, suppress any emotion I deemed negative and pretend everything was okay to the point that I felt manic and excitable. I would behave like a hyperactive child, jumping around, being silly, talking too much and being so hyper it got on people’s nerves. To be fair if I encountered that me now, she would get on my nerves too. I guess it was something I did to protect myself from others and my own “negative” feelings. Damn that got deeper than I thought it would but you get my drift. It still happens now sometimes, everything would seem amazing and I would look at the world with childlike wonder and excitement… too much excitement.
Sorry for another really long post, I’ve been really into analyzing myself and my BPD traits lately and there is just so much to say! Thank you for sticking with me on this post and hope to see you in the next one ❤
Seems weird to include a game theory video in this post but it talks about things like trauma, imaginative play, regression and its part of why I made this post in the first place so there ya go 🙂