NI2M Blogiversary Awards

Today this blog has reached its 4 year anniversary so, to celebrate, I thought I would do a round up a of this blog’s achievements and posts over the last 4 years. So her we go…

FIRST EVER POST

Book or Movie first?

Posted on this very day four years ago, this post was the first post I ever wrote before I started writing about mental illness. As the title suggests, I share my thoughts on whether it’s best to read the book or watch the movie adaptation first after having a discussion about it with a librarian.

MOST VIEWED POST

Why we need self validation

With over 100 views this post has won the prize for most viewed post in the last 4 years. It was inspired by #bpdchat on twitter as well as my own experience. It explains why validation is important but also that we can’t truly rely on others to make us feel validated. This post shares some tips, articles and worksheets to help you develop your self validation skills.

MOST LIKED POST

Regression and BPD

With 18 likes total, regression and BPD is the blog’s most liked post of the last four years. It talks about regression, what it is, my experience with it and how it relates to BPD. It was the first post written in my new, more informative/journalistic style.

POST WITH THE MOST COMMENTS

About/Contact

This isn’t strictly a post bit the site’s about page managed to get at least 10 comments each from different bloggers. The content of the about page has been changed over the years but I decided to keep the comments as they mean a lot to me, so thank you those who have commented not just on this post but on others ♥️

THE LONGEST POST

Dissociation

Racking up to 1414 words, dissociation is crowned the longest post on this blog. This post talks about the different types of dissociation and how they can affect those with mental illness.

MY FAVOURITE POST

Bpd, guilt and shame

This post wasn’t the most liked or viewed but it is my personal favourite. Tied with BPD,Jealousy and Envy.I liked these posts because they allowed me to process my most difficult emotions and find practical ways of handling them. I like to think they show others that there’s no need to be ashamed of feeling a certain way as each emotion has a productive purpose.

Thank you for reading and supporting the blog this far I could not have done it without you. Here’s to another year of blogging 🍾

Respect (or lack thereof)

I find that when dealing with people disrespecting me I go one of two ways, I minimize myself and my importance and become submissive by keeping my mouth shut or I get overly aggressive and berate the person by swearing, yelling or plainly insulting them, there is no in-between.

I usually end up doing both, I stay quiet and submissive until I can’t hold in my frustration anymore and blow up. I’ve been finding that more recently, I’ve started a class that is mainly filled with older women who are parents, I’m the youngest.

The thing is it’s a big class and we’re encouraged to have discussions through “topic of the day” I find that everyone sort of tries to talk over each other but especially with me, since the first day people have been having their own conversations and trying to talk over me/interrupt me while I’m trying to say something.

My teacher seems to have noticed as well as she’s been trying to get them to be quiet while I talk but they just continue their conversations anyway! I understand it might not be a personal thing but it kind of makes me feel excluded, unwanted or like I don’t matter which hurts and makes me feel depressed.

There is also a woman working in my smaller group who doesn’t use manners when talking to me she doesn’t say “please” or “excuse me” just “Hey” and “Oi” even when I’m busy doing something. I was the most tech savvy of my group so I took on the role of typing up what the rest of my group was saying which I regret as these people seem to have no patience or courtesy; they don’t wait for me to finish one thing before trying to get me to do another and they kept talking over each other so I’m just there trying to keep up while my attention is being divided three different ways.

This may sound trivial but as a young person I feel I’m expected treat these older women with respect and listen to what they say because they’re older but they don’t listen to me or consider how they treat me so why should I respect them? Respect is a mutual thing and should not be dependent on race, gender, age, etc.

I just feel like if I started treating them the way they treat me I’ll get in trouble simply because I’m younger than them but that doesn’t mean they can treat me like their child or that my voice isn’t as valuable as theirs. I could be making too big of a deal about this but I find it frustrating.

We were taught things like saying please and thank you and not talking while another person is, in primary school, even my sister with severe autism knows she needs to use her manners but these women in my class seem to have forgotten the basics of human decency. I know it’s rude but I’ve started going on my phone during discussions because I know there’s no point in me trying to get involved because they don’t listen to me and I have no one to talk to and it’s lonely for me in that class…

Bit of a shorter and more personal post today, I just needed to get this out as I’ve just been feeling so low about this class lately, I don’t know if I should quit. I really want the qualification but I’m not sure it’s worth all this stress; maybe if we had a smaller class or I could learn more independently it might be better but I don’t know, I’m trying to get through it.

It’s not just the disrespect I’ve had to deal with but also homophobia, aggressive behaviour and talk of a triggering topic. I don’t want to give up but I just don’t know if I can complete this course without self destructing.

BPD, Guilt and Shame

Recently I’ve been feeling remorseful, my brain has a habit of reminding me of past mistakes when things are going well, like I don’t deserve good things because of what I’ve done in the past. It could even be a small mistake but my brain will catastrophize it, telling me I’m not worthy or I’m just too stupid, causing feelings of guilt to escalate to shame. I was reading an article that describes how those with BPD can experience chronic shame leading to self harming behaviours. I remember doing DBT and talking about my unhealthy levels of guilt that would lead me to punish myself in various ways. I think a lot of us can be too hard on ourselves when we’ve faced abuse, bullying, invalidation and/or mental illness, unfortunately all these things can lead to one another.

Even if you haven’t been abused you could experience shame for having a mental illness especially when you have one that’s highly stigmatised like BPD. These days I’m hesitant to mention my disorder in case others misjudge me because of it. We can also blame ourselves for struggling with mental health. All in all I find that guilt/shame and mental illness go hand in hand. For example chronic shame as a result of being bullied can result in anxiety/depression and then you may feel more guilt as you experience these illnesses and feel there is something inherently wrong with you.

So what is Guilt and shame?

Guilt is the feeling you experience when you’ve done something wrong and need to put it right. Shame is the feeling of distress as the result of doing something others deem wrong, the feeling of shame can cause a sense of worthlessness if not dealt with properly. Like when I was being bullied I started feeling ashamed of myself and felt there was something wrong with me. Of course being bullied isn’t just a one time thing so it’s not something you can brush off, therefore my feelings of shame became so chronic I decided I was worthless and unlovable. Guilt can turn into shame if what you did wrong isn’t fixed or forgiven by yourself or others. I struggle with forgiving myself for mistakes so my pangs of guilt quickly turn to shame, thus leading to self harm. I hope that explanation makes sense.

Why we feel guilt and shame

Guilt is a good indicator of our values, if we do something that is against what we believe, for example, lying or being mean to others then we can feel remorse. Shame is a more painful emotion because while guilt says “I made a mistake” shame says “I am a mistake”. Guilt allows us to learn and grow but shame can make us feel like we’re bad and can’t be changed so it’s counterproductive to guilt.

Shame can make us want to retreat and give up while guilt allows room for forgiveness and hope. That being said shame can be used to change an unacceptable behaviour, you see it a lot when famous people get “exposed” on social media. It can make our society a better place by calling out and changing unwanted behaviour. However what behaviour is and is not acceptable can be subjective and can differ from person to person or groups of people. When you feel ashamed you have to consider “do I feel ashamed because I don’t meet the standards of others or because I don’t meet my OWN values?”. Its up to you which is most important to you and whether or not you want to change.

How guilt and shame relate to BPD

BPD can cause highly emotional and impulsive behaviours like, we may say things in anger or overspend enough to lose a lot of money. When we’re calmed we realise what we’ve done wrong and feel guilt which will be heightened with the disorder. This feeling can also lead to shame as we tend to split and over generalise our behaviours as all bad or all good. When we experience guilt after making a mistake we can quickly turn to thinking we’re bad people and unworthy of good things.

Since we’re so sensitive and emotional people it can be very invalidating of our feelings and experiences. We may be told that we’re “over reacting” or “too sensitive and need to lighten/toughen up” we could also be made fun of or shamed for our emotional reactions. For example, my first panic attack was in front of a class and since then I couldn’t do speeches for class because I would always see or hear people mocking me for having a panic attack. These things can lead to feeling ashamed of our thoughts and emotions thus leading us to internalise our experiences and punish ourselves for not being “normal” enough.

How to cope with guilt and shame using DBT

I know I’ve been preaching more and more about DBT lately but I do think it genuinely helps and, besides, writing down what I know in real life context helps me remember them. So, here are some examples of how DBT can help you deal with guilt and shame.

Check the facts: When you check the facts you clearly state the facts of the situation and see if your emotion fits the facts. This means you don’t twist the situation based on your own interpretation. For example your significant other comes home late from work, you may think they’re having an affair and this makes you feel angry so you explode at them. Now, your feelings are valid but often it’s our interpretation of an event that makes us feel this way however thoughts and opinions are not facts. The fact of the situation is simply that your SO came home late and there could be a multitude of reasons for that like they had to work overtime or the traffic was bad. Checking the facts can help you evaluate the best course of action to handle the situation.

An example of guilt that fits the facts is that you made a mistake that’s hurt someone. In this case you’d use problem solving. If your guilt does not fit the facts then you can use opposite action.

Shame that fits the facts is when you’ll be rejected by others if a part of your personality or behaviour is made public. Another is that you’ve behaved in a way that goes against your true values, usually to fit in with a particular group.

Problem solving— For guilt that fits the facts you can use problem solving skills to make amends. Problem solving entails brainstorming all the ways of handling a situation to get a desired outcome, you then weigh up the pros and cons of the solutions and troubleshoot which ones will help best. For example if you made a genuine mistake that has hurt someone, apologising and admitting what you did was wrong to that person can help both parties move forward. However the risk to this solution is that the other person may not forgive you and then you’ll have to evaluate where you went wrong and try to do better in the future.

For shame that fits the facts it really depends on your situation. If you’re with a group of people that don’t accept a part of you or make you behave in ways that go against your core beliefs then finding a way to leave that group could be the best option. Try meeting new people that are a better fit to your values or, if leaving the group is too difficult, try using interpersonal skills to communicate yourself clearly and be more assertive with your boundaries.

Opposite Action– for guilt that does not fit the facts, for example you feel guilty for something that is out of your control (I.e. Someone’s manipulation or abuse) then you need to practise opposite action which is where you look at what your emotion wants you to do but you do the exact opposite to that. For example if feeling guilty makes you want to self harm then instead you practise self-compassion or if you feel the need to apologise for something that isn’t your fault then use the skill FAST which has an emphasis on self respect and not apologising.

On the other end of the spectrum sometimes you may turn your guilt into anger and deflect blame onto the other person and not take responsibility for your actions by manipulating or lashing out, this behaviour can lead to more guilt and anger. Opposite action for this can be being gentle with yourself and the other parties involved, taking responsibility without shaming/hurting yourself or those around you.

I’d say the same applies for shame that isn’t justified like something you feel is shameful isn’t actually shameful to those around you and others accept you as you are. As I mentioned before with guilt, shame can also turn into anger or bullying where you project what you’re ashamed of onto others. What I mean by this is, a girl spread a rumour about me being a lesbian around the school and she got nearly everyone to pay attention to me and my flaws like anger problems when this girl herself was violent and a lesbian.

She knew others would shame her so she projected her shame onto me and got everyone to shame me instead of her. If you feel tempted to do something like this a good opposite action would be to practise Radical Acceptance where you learn to accept yourself completely flaws and all. However you may be the type of person to hide away and isolate yourself when you feel ashamed, opposite action for this would be admitting what your ashamed of to people you trust and letting yourself connect with others and be honest about yourself.

Thank you for reading, if you liked this post then I suggest reading bpd, jealousy and envy which this post is based off of or check out the links below! thanks again.

Love,

NI2M ♥️

Related Resources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/bpd-and-shame-425474

16 ‘Habits’ of People Dealing With ‘Borderline Guilt’

Guilt Vs. Shame | Understanding Emotions: What is the difference between Guilt and Shame?

Apply Opposite Action to Guilt & Shame

Coping With Christmas Using DBT Skills

Now don’t get me wrong I love Christmas; the music, the decorations, the feeling of the world being happier than usual but, as great as I think the holidays are, there are problems that many of us face during these times; especially those of us with mental illness, since problems everyone faces on the holidays can be exacerbated by our symptoms. I once had a panic attack on Christmas day because I was so worried people wouldn’t like the gifts I bought them. I recently listened to a podcast about using DBT to help cope with the holidays and thought I’d share what I learned as well as some of my own ideas.

Societal Pressures

It’s in the songs and adverts, the push to make this the season to be jolly, the pressure to be happy and have a perfect day with the family. While it is a nice notion, encouraging people to be nicer and happier, it doesn’t consider the realities of life. Mental illness doesn’t decide to take the day off because its Christmas. If you have depression or anxiety the pressure to be normal for family and trying to be happy can just make you feel worse about being sad or scared on the holiday.

When you feel “bad” especially when everyone else seems to be cheerful it can be tempting to push away your emotions and lose patience with yourself for not feeling how you think you should be. I recently wrote about Self validation which is a key part in the treatment of bpd, I do think its useful for anyone as well. A good way of self validating with DBT is to observe your emotions using mindfulness. This allows you to attend to these feelings without judgement or making yourself feel worse by trying to fight them off. After observing you can describe your emotion, how it feels in your body,what triggered that emotion and what that emotion made you want to do. For example, I was home alone and heard a noise this made me feel scared/afraid that someone was in the house. I had butterflies in my stomach as well as a fast heart beat and tense muscles. This fear made me want to hide in my room. I find this skill useful as it encourages me to bring more awareness to how I’m feeling and how that affects me so I can validate my experience.

Above was an example given to me in the dbt worksheet for observing and describing emotions. Here are some worksheets I found online to help you;

https://dbtselfhelp.weebly.com/letting-go-of-emotional-suffering.html

If you find that your emotions get too overwhelming the distress tolerance skills can be useful. STOP, which stands for Stop Take a step back Observe the situation Proceed mindfully, is good for when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands and can be used anywhere at any time so if you feel yourself about to react to a situation remember to STOP. TIPP (Temperature Intense exercise Paced breathing Paired muscle relaxation) can help you calm your emotion mind by changing your body chemistry, It may need more time and a way get away from the situation unlike STOP but is just as useful. Safe place visualization can be useful if you can’t physically leave the situation but need an escape.

Some handouts for each distress tolerance skill I mentioned:

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/SafePlace.pdf

http://edencounseling.com/resources/dbt_distress_tolerance_group_3_handouts.pdf

https://www.theroottherapynyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/distress-tolerance-2.pdf

Family issues

As I mentioned before, Christmas is a time that you’re expected to be together with family and be merry with them. However this isn’t always the case for a lot of us with mental illness, family is the root of our trauma so being around them in a place where the trauma likely happened (childhood home or an extended family’s house) can be triggering. Even if you didn’t experience trauma with your family sometimes they can ask you pressing questions, criticise you or start a row all are things you’d rather not deal with especially on Christmas.

So how can you keep your cool when your dysfunctional/ triggering family are surrounding you? There is a skill in DBT called Cope Ahead which is where you sit down and go through in your mind the possible scenarios that may distress and plan how you will cope with them.

For example you may have an aunt who asks a lot of questions about your life and criticisizes/scrutunises you and your responses. This makes you feel judged or like you can’t do anything right. You know you will have to face her on christmas day so you write down possible coping strategies for when the situation arises. You may use distress tolerance skills, plan to excuse yourself from the conversation asap or, if you have to put up with it, think about your accomplishments and practice positive affirmations to make yourself feel better. Once you have decided what will help you best, visualize yourself in that situation again but imagine coping more effectively and feeling like you did well despite the struggles. Below is the step by step method for Cope Ahead from https://bayareadbtcc.com/cope-ahead-part-1/

How to Cope Ahead: 5 Steps

Cope Ahead involves five steps.

1. Describe the problem situation (and check the facts). Are you in your wise mind when you’re looking at this situation? Are you keeping a neutral distance? Name the emotions and actions that you anticipate you will feel that interfere with you responding effectively. For example, will you feel angry if someone criticizes you at work, or panicked if a friend is late for dinner?

2. Decide what skills to use. Which skills do you want to use in the situation? Get specific. Does taking a timeout work if you’re coping ahead with anger? Do you want to distract yourself with another activity when you feel like engaging in an addictive behavior? Or call a friend, or go for a run? Get creative about what exactly you will do to cope.

3. Imagine. Now that you know the situation and the skills, imagine the situation in your mind as vividly as possible. Be sure to picture yourself actually in the situation, not watching it. Imagine it happening in the present, not the past. Bring details to mind: Where are you? Who is around you? What are you thinking or feeling?

4. Rehearse coping in your mind. Once you’re in the situation, practice coping effectively. Picture what you will do. What are your actions and thoughts? What will you say and how will you say it? If you anticipate a potential new problem arising, imagine coping with that as well. Rehearse coping with the things you are really scared of.

5. Practice relaxing after rehearsing. Finally, go easy on yourself after your rehearsal. Doing this kind of mental imagining of a hard situation is stressful on your psyche and body. Relax after you’ve run through all the steps! Stretch, take some deep breaths, or do whatever feels relaxing to you.

When dealing with anyone, even difficult family members, interpersonal effectiveness skills can be very helpful. FAST is good for maintaining self respect while resolving conflict, it stands for Fair (no)Apologies Stick to values and (be) Truthful. GIVE is good for helping you communicate in a way that settles the other person down in a disagreement in order to keep the relationship if it’s of importance to you. GIVE stands for Gentle Interested Validate and Easy manner. Below is an article providing more details of each skill:

https://www.sunrisertc.com/interpersonal-effectiveness/

Loneliness

Sometimes you may not even have friends or family to celebrate with, you may be on your own. While loneliness more commonly affects the elderly it can be found in nearly all age groups. No matter the reason for being alone on Christmas day it can be hard not to feel low with all the push for families and friends to get together and be merry. In Dbt there is a skill called ACCEPTS one of the Cs in this analogy is Contribute, if you are spending Christmas alone and have time on your hands you could contribute to the community by volunteering yourself for things like helping in a soup kitchen or being a listener on a helpline for people who are facing similar problems to you, not only can this help you fill up the time but you can also use it as an opportunity to connect with new people with similar problems/interests to you.

If you don’t feel that volunteering is for you and you would rather stay in on Christmas that’s okay too. There is another skill called Accumulating positive events, this skill encourages you to plan ahead to do things that you enjoy and make you feel better. You may use this skill to plan how you could spend your Christmas in a way that’s positive for you, you may want to have a movie marathon, spend the day cozying up with a good book or whatever floats your boat.

Tolerate Distress with A-C-C-E-P-T-S

https://www.sunrisertc.com/abc-please-skills/

Loss & Grief

Whether you’ve lost a loved one through falling out, a break up or them passing away, Christmas can be a difficult time without that person there to celebrate with. Although approaches to healing are different for each type of loss, you still grieve the loss of that person or relationship. Depending on your situation you may use different skills, if you’re grieving a break up with a partner it can be tempting to reach out to them during the holiday season, this however may not be good for you or them, a good skill in this case would be opposite action. Opposite action is where you deem the action the emotion is tempting you to do as unhealthy or ineffective, in order to quell the emotion you do the exact opposite of what that emotion is telling you to do. In the case of a break up, you may feel sad or jealous causing you to want to reach out to them or stalk their social media, while Christmas can be a time of goodwill and forgotten trespasses, if you know that reconnecting with your ex could cause some problems for you then here are some opposite action ideas for you:

  • Focus on spending time with others you love and care about
  • Avoid communication platforms such as text or social media, block/unfollow if you need to.
  • Practice gratitude for gifts, people and other things in your life that don’t involve your ex
  • Radically accept what has happened and try to let go of that person
  • Go out and do things to build your confidence like go to a Christmas party or try something new.

When you’ve had a fall out with a friend or family member what skill you use could depend on your situation as mentioned before Christmas can be a time where people reconnect and if your fall out wasn’t anything too major you may want to reconcile in the spirit of christmas. Before deciding what action to take its best to Check the facts and consider some of the following: Do you value the relationship? Why did you fall out? Is it better for you to make up or be apart from each other?

Depending on the facts and your answers you can either use problem solving skills or opposite action. If you feel that trying to fix the situation is right then here are some ideas to problem solve:

  1. Reach out to the person and apologise if you were in the wrong
  2. Use interpersonal effectiveness skills to communicate respectfully

If you feel that reconciliation isn’t an option or you tried problem solving and it didn’t work out how you’d hoped then it may be best to use opposite action to cope with the hurt. Opposite action ideas for fall outs are pretty much the same as what you’d use after a break up: celebrate the good things you have instead of dwelling on what you’ve lost, allow yourself to have fun and build new connections, etc.

Losing someone you love through death can be harder to deal with as there is not even a chance to see or hear from them again and you may not have closure. Grief is normal and trying to suppress it especially at a time you feel that persons absence the most can end up hurting you more. Practicing radical acceptance can help at these times, this means not denying the fact that this person is gone and accepting your feelings of sadness anger or guilt. It doesn’t mean you think that this reality is good without them but it’s about understanding that this is your current reality and it feels like crap instead of pushing away the facts and how you feel about them it can be tempting to pretend that you’re okay and everything’s fine for friends and family on Christmas but not accepting and allowing yourself time to grieve can hurt you and your loved ones more. Some ideas on how to grieve during the holidays are: Visiting their grave, leaving an empty chair at the dinner table, lighting a candle in their memory or talking to others about good memories you shared with your deceased loved one.

Money

It’s no secret that Christmas can be quite a commercial holiday, pretty much as soon as Halloween is over, adverts for gifts and deals start popping up everywhere. If you’re like me, an impulsive overspender, managing your money can be even harder when you feel the pressure to buy gifts for everyone you know as well as “treat” yourself. A useful DBT skill for this can be Wise Mind, this skill requires you to access a part of your mind that is a balance between emotional and rational. Emotion mind is more impulsive and causes you to act based on how you’re feeling which can lead to problems such as overspending. Whereas Rational mind is based on logic and a lack of emotion, an extreme on both sides is not helpful, on the one hand you want to show you care but you don’t want “overdo” your gifts to the point its detrimental to your bank account. Wise mind is the balance of both sides or “the middle path” as its sometimes called, connecting to your wise mind can help you make gift decisions that benefit those you’re buying for while also looking after yourself.

Making Mindful Money Decisions From Your Wise Mind

Thank you for reading, I hope this post helps you if you are struggling with loneliness this Christmas on twitter there will be #joinin which is a hashtag you can use to connect with others over the Internet who are also lonely on christmas. @mhcrisisangels are hosting a “Christmas sanctuary” which is a group chat on twitter for those struggling with their mental health to gain support through Christmas. If you find yourself in crisis the samaritans phone lines are open 24/7 as well as @crisistextline which provide numbers from USA, Canada and the UK which you can text if you need help.

https://www.crisistextline.org/

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://mobile.twitter.com/mhcrisisangels?lang=en

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-42477266

DISSOCIATION

Trigger Warning: This post discusses traumatic experiences

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, the information provided is based on my lived experience of bpd and online research. If there is any misinformation on the matters discussed (flashbacks, DID, PTSD etc) then don’t hesitate to let me know. Thank you 🙂

I started working on this blog post a while back but found this to be a topic that was quite complex for me and I couldn’t quite articulate my experience with it. I’ll try my best now though as I feel dissociation is very important to talk about as it can have a detrimental affect on your life and its not very understood . I believe I started dissociating in childhood, there is a lot I don’t remember about that time, only bits and pieces but even they are hazy. You see I had quite a traumatic childhood that I won’t go into detail about now but it greatly affected the rest of my life.

dissociation

I find myself getting frustrated as I can get severely triggered by something but not remember why I’m triggered by it. For example when I’m with my dad I feel constantly on edge like I can’t please him but have to try and keep him happy so, when he starts getting angry, I panic and try to fix the situation (even if its something out of my control). I don’t remember my dad being abusive, at least not consciously, I do remember him yelling at me once and hitting my sister a couple of times but my reaction to him now does make me wonder if more happened that I blocked from my memory…

When I get angry myself I sometimes forget what I did soon after, my mother told me I once tried to stab my cousin with a fork in rage but I don’t remember that. I believe these blocks in my memory is the result of dissociative amnesia which is where your brain blanks out traumatic experiences to protect you from the distress of it or it can protect you from your own emotions which, in my case, was rage. In high school I started experiencing a form of dissociation called derealization,where you become detached from reality and everything around you doesn’t feel quite real, I’d describe it as feeling like you’re in a dream instead of real life. School was an extremely stressful time for me so I think my brain started trying to soften the impact of that environment by making it seem unreal.

Hannah Daisy

A third type is depersonalization which is much like derealization but it means experiencing a detachment from yourself, your feelings and such. I sometimes feel unreal or that my body isn’t mine. You may also feel numb or like you’re observing yourself from outside your body. This usually happens when extreme feelings of panic, rage or depression arise. It’s most likely why people with depression can find themselves feeling numb, the brain tries to protect you from emotional harm by detaching from your feelings and body.

Dissociation is something the brain does for protection however, ironically, it can have a negative impact on you and your life. Recently I took on a job that was very unfair and overwhelming. On the first day I found myself dissociating so I wouldn’t have a panic attack, problem is when I dissociate I tend to lose concentration more and function slower. My head feels fuzzy, everything doesn’t look or feel real, I’m detached from my body and emotions but can’t seem to get grounded. I quit that job now, I only worked two days but it felt longer and I still haven’t managed to come back to reality, this past week feels like a blur and I highly doubt I’m going to remember much when I finally do get grounded but I don’t think I really want to remember this time anyway. So thanks dissociation for making my life both easier and harder.

Dissociation and Identity

image (1)

Dissociation may not just effect your, thoughts, emotions and environment, it can also impact your sense of self. Dissociative Identity Disorder is where someone experiences switching between different identities, they dissociate from themselves and don’t usually remember what happened while another identity (alter) has taken over. They may speak with a different voice, have different personalities and even memories. This type of dissociation is called identity alteration and people who experience this likely suffered abuse and severe trauma so their brain creates these alters so they don’t have to experience so much pain.

With BPD you may also experience dissociation through your identity but in a different way. This other type of identity dissociation is called identity confusion, with this type you may not have a clear sense of who you are and how you think or behave can change depending on your mood or your environment. You may struggle to define what your sexuality is, what you’re interested in, how you feel about religion and politics or what career you want. Your stance on things can change easily as well as your interests and ambitions, you may find yourself “trying on” different identities to see what fits or have a strong case of the chameleon effect. I’ve struggled with this identity confusion pretty much all my life to the point I relied on other people to define me.

Dissociation and memory

As I mentioned before, with dissociative amnesia, dissociation can affect your memories and your experience of them. Someone with PTSD can experience dissociative flashbacks which is where the person feels that they are experiencing a past traumatic event in their present. Usually a flashback is in response to a trigger (something that reminds you of a traumatic event) and causes you to mentally relive that event and respond as if it were currently happening, completely dissociating from the present reality and experiencing the past all over again.

Lonely sad red-haired girl at field

Another type that affects your memory is called dissociative fugue, also known as fugue state. This type entails a person temporarily forgetting important details of their life and who they are, this fugue state can cause someone to impulsively travel or even take on a new identity. I’m finding this one difficult to explain so below is a snippet of an article where someone explains their experience with dissociative fugue;

The first episode took place when I was 13, after months of fearing my Maths teacher. She had a habit of getting right up in your face when she told you off, and was known for dishing out brutal punishments if you didn’t do your homework.

One day, I’d forgotten to hand in my mobile phone at the school office, which was a strict rule – if we were caught with our phones in class, even if they were just in our bags, we’d get a massive telling-off.

During a maths lesson, I opened my bag as she walked past – and my phone was inside. When she spotted it, I knew I was in for it. I got hauled to the front of the class, and yelled at. It was so intense, I could feel her breath. Flecks of saliva landed on my face as she shouted. It was horrible.

She told me to hand my phone into the office right that minute – so off I went, feeling cold with fear. After I handed it in, I couldn’t face going back to the classroom – I was too scared of her.

What happened next is part of a memory that isn’t too clear, but I do recall feeling that I had to get out of the reality I was in, because it was filled with so much fear. I simply ‘switched off’, and I don’t remember much after that feeling.

I do know what I did immediately after deciding I wasn’t going to deal with my life – I simply walked out of my school. There is then a gap in my memory – I know now that I was missing for around 6 hours.

When I came back to reality, I was sat in a field down the road from my school. It was pitch black, and there were cars zooming past directly behind me.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2017/03/26/what-is-fugue-state-how-i-ended-up-forgetting-my-life-and-taking-on-a-new-one-6535260/?ito=cbshare

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Related resources;

https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=55734&cn=109 – Flashbacks, Dissociative reactions

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders/#.Xch7ITNKjIV

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9789-dissociative-amnesia

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2017/07/complex-ptsd-dissociation-and-reclaiming-lost-memories

http://www.hannahdaisy.com/2018/04/dissociation-explained-in-short-story.html

About Dissociation

Thank you for reading, feel free to let me know what you think by either commenting on this post or tweeting me @Addict2L 🙂

NI2M ❤

Why We Need Self-Validation

Everyone needs validation to feel understood and accepted, as someone with BPD, I find that I may need/ seek it more than others. There is a theory that the disorder may be caused by an invalidating environment. This means that, those with BPD, may have grown up having their feelings and thoughts disregarded by family members or close friends. The thing about emotional invalidation is, it doesn’t make the feeling go away, in fact it can cause more distress in someone and amplify their “difficult” emotions.

For me, I most need validation when something really makes me scared or angry but no one else seems to be reacting or notice. I always worry that I’m just “being moody” or that I’m “over reacting.” This fear that people will judge me for my feelings often causes me to internalize my emotions and try to fight them off within. However this usually makes me feel frustrated with, ashamed or even scared of my own emotions thus leading to things like self harm. Because of our intense emotions and mood swings people with BPD often face invalidation, others may have good intentions when they tell us to “look on the bright side” “others have it worse” or “you’re just overreacting” but this can make us feel like our pain is being trivialized or that what we’re experiencing is being denied as reality thus creating a vicious cycle of needing validation and then not getting it

I think this can affect anyone, not just those with BPD, if you grew up in an invalidating environment you may have low self esteem and feel a strong urge to seek reassurance from outside sources that how you feel is acceptable and valid. These outside sources may include friends, family members, therapists or people on the internet but what happens when those sources fail to validate you? I’ve found that no one can truly understand your experience without being you, so you may not get the reaction you’d hoped for as, some people, can be very compassionate and understanding while others may scorn you and make you feel worse for feeling or thinking a certain way. Being around those who invalidate your thoughts, feelings and experiences can cause a sense of loneliness and mistrust in yourself and your emotions which is why self- validation is so important and is actually a key skill taught in DBT.

validation

What Is Self validation?

Self validation is the ability to accept your internal experiences such as your thoughts and feelings; this doesn’t necessarily mean the thought or feeling is justified though. For example you feel guilty over something you can’t control, you can accept that you feel guilty but not believe you actually are guilty because what happened was out of your control.

Ways to self validate:

Mindfulness of emotions– The core skill in Dialectical behaviour therapy is mindfulness, its taught as the best way to manage “out of control” emotions and reduce emotional suffering. With  Mindfulness of emotions you learn to observe how you’re feeling, describe that feeling by naming it and decide the best way to react with it. This practice teaches us to let our emotions be as they are, without trying to fight them but accepting them to quell emotional distress.

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/MindfulnessEmotions.pdf

EFT– A friend of mine taught me an exercise in EFT tapping. Which is where you tap certain parts of your body, such as your temple and heart, with two fingers while saying things like “I feel angry” “this is okay” “my anger is valid” “thank you, anger”

Affirmations– Much like EFT tapping I’ve started learning self validating affirmations for when i find myself conflicted with feelings and thoughts. These affirmations are phrases you repeat to yourself to help improve your mental state in a situation. Affirmations such as “I am Enough” “I Matter and so do my feelings” “My feelings are valid” or any phrases you know that can help you feel better.

72c1b657507ced00e67c7d5f32015926

Self Compassion–  You’ve probably been told to “talk to yourself as you would a good friend” and that’s pretty much the gist of self compassion, as I mentioned before only YOU can truly understand your own experiences so its good to be able to be as understanding to yourself as you’d want someone else to be.

Workheets– While doing research for this post I found a “self validation” manual with information and worksheets on validation for yourself and others. Its a free printable so here’s  the link; https://dbtselfhelp.weebly.com/self-validation-skills.html

Other Helpful Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/pieces-mind/201407/self-validation

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-validation-425336

The Importance of Validation in BPD Treatment

How to Give Yourself the Validation You Crave

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it useful, feel free to let me know what you think or share your own story by commenting on this post or tweeting me on twitter @Addict2L

Thanks again,

NI2M ❤

The Importance Of Boundaries

When it comes to relationships with family, friends, partners or people in general one of the most important yet hardest things to do is to set boundaries. Over the years I’ve learned the hard way how important boundaries are for your wellbeing. However if, like me, you are hyper-sensitive (emotionally) you may find it hard to establish and maintain boundaries. You may fear upsetting the other person or making them feel rejected as you know how that feels so you sacrifice your wellbeing to keep the other person happy and comfortable even if that means you feel uncomfortable.

I recently made a friend who was very sweet, a bit too much so for me though, within the first two weeks of us meeting we were texting and calling nearly everyday and he was giving me tonnes of compliments. I felt it was too much too fast considering I’d been alone most of the year but I didn’t know how to tell him to tone it down without upsetting him and ending the friendship so I didn’t say anything but after a while I started becoming drained and stressed out as I hadn’t allowed myself some space from him and eventually I started pushing myself away emotionally and just wanting to be alone. I knew I had to make it clear to him I was unwell and needed space so I did but in a “its not you its me” kind of way where I said I just wasn’t up for socializing and was tired which was true I just didn’t mention he was making me feel that way.

The last week it got worse, something he did triggered my abandonment issues and I started to split on him, now I started to feel tension in the relationship so I put up more walls but instead of telling him how I felt about what he did I started distancing myself from him, even contemplating cutting things off with him. I was starting to feel depressed because of all this and told him I was ill but again, not that he was the cause. Then he stopped talking to me altogether, no reply to my text, no call, nothing and this really annoyed me considering he was all over me not long before and I often replied to him quickly even if I wasn’t up for talking.  He seemed to not take my attempt at setting boundaries very well and cut me off completely. My BPD went through the roof as this is why I would never set boundaries in the first place, in case people took it as a sign I didn’t like them and abandoned me.

We did start talking again after the weekend, it had turned out he had to change his number and I was texting the wrong one. It was a misunderstanding on my part but it highlighted how much I struggle with looking after myself in relationships. I had gotten so bad at setting boundaries and communicating my needs that, when he seemingly stopped talking to me, I got triggered and felt it was unfair that I set aside my needs and boundaries for him but he wasn’t doing the same for me. This is an unhealthy way of thinking as people need to set boundaries and have every right to have their needs met, by giving up that right and expecting others to return the favor, I put myself in a frustrating situation.

The moral of this story is that setting boundaries is a very necessary part of relationships, yes people may not take it well and try to violate them but you have a right to feel as comfortable and happy in a relationship as the other person. In hindsight I could have started setting boundaries from the beginning; stating clearly what I was and was not comfortable with but I was scared. Nonetheless it is what would have been best for the both of us, he would have known exactly where he stood and I would feel safe. Going forward in our friendship, I’m trying to learn how to better look after myself so that I can be a better friend without denying my own needs and feelings.

If you have BPD setting boundaries may not only be about communicating your feelings, it can also be about maintaining a sense of self. One of the key symptoms of BPD is “an unstable sense of self” this is because we don’t really know who we are in the first place so when we meet someone it’s easy for us to take more than just an interest in what they like, it often gets to the point that our whole identity revolves around that person, we like what they like, care about what they care about, behave how they behave etc. In the case I’ve been talking about, with this new friend, I found myself being more affectionate and outgoing than I am usually. I love people but I’m not the type to shower them in compliments and call them things like “darling” because that’s the type of thing that makes me feel uncomfortable yet I started being more like that because my new friend was.

This was a similar case for many of my friendships before this one, I was always who they needed me to be. Someone to provide shelter, someone to vent to, someone to make jokes with, someone to provide gifts and love or someone who was always on the end of the phone but I was never truly or completely me just showing sides of myself that person would bring out. Not sticking to my core self and continuously changing my behavior to fit the other person has left me feeling lonely, invalidated and confused, through no one’s fault but my own as I couldn’t draw the line between myself and the other person. Learning to set boundaries when you  have bpd or identity confusion often means finding and sticking to your values and communicating what you will or won’t tolerate based on those values, thus drawing a line between who you are and who they are.

Below are some worksheets I found online that can help you, I suggest going to the linked website to get the full set of worksheets which go more in depth about finding your values and life purpose;  https://tomillama.com/blog/setting-boundaries

Setting+Boundaries+Worksheet+Tomi+Llama

Code+of+Conduct+Boundary+Worksheet+Tomi+Llama

I was going to write more on this topic such as “myths about boundaries” and tips on how to use them but this post is already quite a lot, if you want to see a part 2 of this post with advice and stuff then you can let me know by leaving a reply below, emailing me at Normalis2Mainstream@outlook.com, or tweeting me @Addict2L. Feel free to suggest any ideas for part 2 or share your story about boundaries 🙂

Thank you for reading,

NI2M ❤

 

 

 

 

Triggers – What they are and how to handle them

I recently attended an online webinar led by Debbie Corso, author of ‘stronger than BPD’ and creator of the website ‘Healing from BPD’ the webinar was about triggers and how to handle them, here is some of what I learned in that webinar along with my own ideas and research, I hope you find it useful.

What are triggers?

Triggers are something that reminds you of a traumatic event from your past. Causing you to react like it is currently happening even if it’s not. You tend to hear the term commonly used with PTSD but triggers can be linked to any sort of mental illness. For example A depiction of suicide can be triggering for someone who has depression. It may not just be anything so obvious, anything could be a trigger. External triggers are things like a certain smell, something you hear or see in your environment but triggers can also be internal, a thought or feeling can trigger you. Basically anything that reminds you of your trauma can be a trigger. An example of mine is I was once grabbed by a man that had a certain pungent smell my brain remembered so, when someone walked near me with that smell, I would recall that night and feel how I did then, causing me to panic.

What happens when you are triggered?

Everyone’s experience of being triggered can be different, you can react with an extreme emotion such as panic or rage or you can completely shut down emotionally causing you to feel numb or empty. You may also have a strong urge to do something such as do drugs, drink a lot of alcohol, self harm etc.

Triggers and the brain

The amygdala is the part of the brain that is associated with memories and is connected to the nervous system, it’s function is to protect us from danger. This part of the brain is activated when we are triggered. This part can be especially heightened in those that have been traumatized or have a mental illness such as BPD. The prefrontal cortex is the rational/ logical part of the brain and balances out the emotional reactivity of the amygdala, however when we are triggered the amygdala can take complete control and make us act out in ways that seem irrational. When dealing with triggers the aim is to strengthen the pre-frontal cortex to achieve equilibrium and better manage distress.

How triggers help us.

Triggers are messages, sent by the brain, telling us that something is wrong, something in our life or ourselves needs to be addressed and dealt with so we can move on. They can also be a signal that we need to take extra care of ourselves. For example, I can be more sensitive triggers when I haven’t eaten or slept enough, if I find things that people are saying or doing more triggering than usual then that usually means I need to spend time to myself away from everyone. Triggers and how they make us feel can tell us what we need thus they can be useful when handled in healthy ways.

How to better cope with triggers

Journaling – writing down your triggers can be useful for keeping track of them. describing where it happened, when it happened and what happened to trigger you can help you predict potentially triggering situations so you know whether to avoid or, if avoiding isn’t an option, plan how you will cope in that situation. This skill called ‘cope ahead‘ and is taught in DBT, it involves describing a potentially triggering situation and planning how you will handle it effectively.

Communication- Talking to someone you trust about what has triggered you and how it made you feel can help you feel less alone and isolated. It’s best to talk to someone who knows a lot about you and your problems and doesn’t judge you, someone who could give you advice or just listen to you whether that be someone on a helpline like Samaritans, a friend/family member or your therapist, basically whoever you feel most comfortable sharing these type of things with.

Distraction- If possible, get yourself away from the situation that has triggered you to do something you enjoy or something that requires a lot more concentration such as completing puzzles or reading. If you can’t get out of the situation, try distracting yourself mentally by daydreaming of nice things for a bit or using ‘safe place visualization’ as learned in DBT.

Self care/self soothing- What I mean by this is doing anything to make yourself calmer and feel less overwhelmed. For example I have a ‘self soothe’ box which is filled with stuff to help me calm down when I’m triggered, the box has various things such as scented moisturizers, a puzzle and coloring book and a small cuddly toy but your box could be filled with anything you like. Another way of self soothing could be practicing calming mantras such as “I am safe” or “everything is going to be okay” this can be useful when you struggle with intrusive thoughts like me.

Distress Tolerance skills- In DBT the first unit you cover is ‘distress tolerance’ these are a series of skills you learn to cope effectively when you are distressed.  Distraction and safe place visualization are a part of this but there is also, STOP, TIPP, ACCEPTS and more. I will leave links to videos and articles about these techniques below to explain further.

Thank you for reading, I know its been some time since I last wrote and I’m honestly not sure when the next post will be as I seem to have lost the drafts but thank you for being patient with me and hope to be back soon, until next time ❤

Useful links/videos:

Cope Ahead: The Power of Planning How to Cope in Advance

The Safe Place part 1 (guided imagery)

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/trigger

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-triggered-4175432

Mental Health Triggers Explained and Tips

 

The C in ABC PLEASE stands for cope ahead, I couldn’t find a video with cope ahead alone but I think its useful to know the rest of the skills in the acronym 🙂

Taking A Break

This blog is now over 3 years old and I must say I’m surprised I kept it up for so long. These past few years have been a crazy ride for me and if you’ve been reading my posts for some time now you’ll know that a lot of things have changed over the years, mainly me. I’ve learned to be alone and take care of myself while also making sense of my personality Disorder, things are far from perfect but I’m in a better place than I was 3 years ago, heck even 1 year ago.

My writing has changed and my blog has gone through quite a few makeovers, It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about my life and how I feel. I think this is the first one since the end of last year! I’ve really enjoyed making informative posts about what I learn but recently I feel like I’ve been treating this blog as more of a job than a hobby, I try to spend at least one day a week writing new posts and it’s time to be honest with you, I love the attention that my blog gets, since I started using twitter to share my posts and network they’ve got more likes and this blog has got more followers.

I started seeing numbers as validation and approval, when a post didn’t get many likes or people unfollowed me, I’d get disheartened and wonder why they don’t like me or what I write.I became very envious of people who seemed to do better than me on twitter and on here. The relationship I developed with social media became unhealthy and I’ve had to take a big step back from it all but not too big otherwise I’d lose people’s attention thus the scheduled blog work time. I put myself under pressure to keep improving my posts, make them longer with no mistakes sort of thing. The informative posts I wrote seemed to get more traction than my personal story so I kept going with them as its what other people wanted but I’m not sure its what I want. Recently I tried to force myself to write a post but my brain and my emotions weren’t co-operating, became anxious and a bit manic whenever I tried to write a post like I was trying to force enthusiasm and taking it too far.

At the time when I first started changing my blog style it was because I was inspired to do so but the inspiration just isn’t there now, I’m still very proud of my new posts don’t get me wrong but now the writing just feels forced, like I’ve started blogging more for the attention and validation rather than because I want to. Today i found myself sitting in the bathroom with pain in my chest from stress and the thought of my blog came up and how I’ve just been putting it as another part of my weekly to do list instead of utilizing it as a therapeutic hobby, the thought of writing this post calmed me down and this does feel like a weight lifting off my shoulders.

I still love this blog and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done but all good things must come to an end unfortunately, I’m honestly not sure what the future of this blog is going to be but right now I need to take a break, focus on getting well and then maybe come back to blogging but I’m not sure and I don’t want to worry myself about it now. I hope you understand where I’m coming from, I feel like I’m now starting a new chapter of my life and I’m not sure my blog is currently reflecting that. I hope to one day come back here better and brighter but if not, don’t worry about me I’m just doing different things with my life 🙂

Thank you for reading,

NI2M ❤

Anxiety Management Workshop

Recently I enrolled in this thing called a recovery college that has a bunch of courses and workshops to help in recovery from mental illness. My DBT therapist suggested I sign up to a few things with it once my therapy was finished to help myself and give me something to do. I signed up for a mix of courses/workshops for emotional development, help looking for work and trying new hobbies. The first workshop I went to was anxiety management which involved an introduction to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) this is what we covered in that workshop.

What Is CBT?

To give a quick run down on what CBT is I’ve linked the video below. Please watch it, if you don’t know what CBT is, before proceeding as I don’t think what I say will make much sense if you don’t;

 

The cross sectional formula (hot cross bun model):

75c2cbf6f331371fe6dcdf0ba5cdfbbf

This model was designed to show how our thoughts connect with our environment, behavior, emotions and bodily sensations. It shows how all these elements of an anxious reaction interconnect. Thoughts are usually the first in the diagram because CBT believes that our thoughts are the main cause of our problems so it focuses on our thought patterns and how to make them more helpful to us. When filling out a template such as this you’d have to describe in each section what happened to trigger the reaction (environment) what thoughts came up, how it made you feel emotionally, what physical sensations you experienced and how these things made you behave. Below is an example of a filled out model;

hot-cross-bun1

 

The Worry Tree

ShrunkCBT-GoogleFoundWorryTree

The worry tree is a diagram that offers guidance on identifying the type of worry you have and how to resolve it, the two types of worries identified are Hypothetical and Practical (current). Hypothetical worries are things that aren’t actually happening right now but what you are worried might happen. These type of worries can be dealt with by setting a worry time. Practical worries are problems that are currently happening and need to be dealt with as soon as possible, usually through problem solving.

 

Worry Time

Worry time is when you schedule a time everyday to focus on whats worrying you so you can satisfy your brain’s urge to worry without disrupting your day by distracting you from your tasks. You can set aside time in the morning, afternoon, evening whatever time is best for you and you can make this worry time as long or short as you want. When you dedicate to this time, you’re not supposed to rationalize or talk down your concerns but allow yourself to feel anxious and ruminate a little to get it out of your system. You may want to write your thoughts and feelings down, once the time is up its a good idea to calm yourself down through things like Progressive muscle relaxation or breathing exercises.

Problem Solving

This skill is also learned in DBT and can be applied to current problems by going through this step by step process to problem solve;

IMG_20190610_115953.jpg

dav

  • Identify the problem– For help identifying the problem you should focus on, there is something called a Problem Statement which is a way of summarizing the difficulties you face. When writing a problem statement you need to consider the trigger, the symptoms and the impact of these things, to the right are some examples of a statement from ‘The CBT handbook‘.

 

 

  • Write down as many possible solutions you can think of– You can do this by making a list or mind map. The idea is to consider ALL possible solutions even if they seem silly. It’s best to think outside the box at this stage.
  • Think of the pros and cons to each solution– Write a list of ways that each solution could be beneficial and the ways they can be harmful.
  • Pick the solution you think is best– Weight out the pros and cons of each solution, deciding which one you think is best for your situation.
  • Plan how you will carry it out– Once you have decided on a solution plan step-by-step how you are going to implement it.
  • Put the plan into action
  • Review the results– Review how well the solution worked and if it didn’t, go back to step 4 and pick a different solution you think might work better.

I hope you found this post informative and useful, feel free to let me know what you think and whether you’ve had CBT before. Did it work for you? are there other helpful techniques you’ve learned from it? Thanks for reading, I hope to see you in the next one ❤

NI2M