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

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.

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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

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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.

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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 ❤

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 🙂

BPD AND THE STRUGGLE TO DISAGREE

I hate disagreeing with people, it brings up intense anxiety and panic in me, especially if I like the person and want them to like me. It’s always been hard for me to comprehend how people can disagree on things and still have a good relationship. I’ve always thought of disagreements as a way of damaging a relationship. The only time I feel able to openly disagree with someone is if I’m really angry and believe I’m right then I tend to get destructive and withdraw from the relationship as I suddenly despise the person and want nothing to do with them. I think this is called ‘splitting’ which I’ll probably write a full post about another time.

With more awareness of my problems with emotional regulation and lack of interpersonal skills, I’ve been consciously trying to remain calm when disagreeing with someone. It’s not easy though as my value of being true to my beliefs conflicts with the disorder’s desire to be loved and accepted by all. I want to be honest and stand up for what I believe in but I also want to just agree with the person so they won’t hate me. As, for me, disagreements turn to hatred fast. I try to remember that not everyone thinks this way and its okay to disagree. It’s all about finding a balance of validating the other person’s feelings while also validating your own and that’s been a difficult balance to find.

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When someone disagrees with me, it feels like an attack and fight or flight kicks in where I either panic, backtrack what I said and apologize (even if I have nothing to apologize for) or get so aggressively angry and defensive that I push the person away and cut them off completely. Because why would I want to be associated with someone I disagree with? and vice versa. I couldn’t see why someone would want to associate with me if we didn’t see eye to eye on everything. If I was in a relationship with someone I thought we’d have to be an exact reflection of each other and want the same things otherwise we couldn’t stay together. I just didn’t see how it could work. I’d do whatever the other person wanted me to and act how I think I should because I didn’t want to upset them in any way.

This people pleasing tendency often leads me to feel bitter and resentful, like I bend over backwards for these people and they don’t treat me the same in return (because everyone is different and shows love in different ways). Inevitably the other person would do or say something that would push me over the edge and I would snap. It would come out of nowhere for the other party involved but for me it would have been building up over time and I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore. The term “treading on eggshells” is used a lot by people when describing their relationship with someone with BPD which I can understand but, at least for me, it would go the other way too. I felt I had to be so careful in everything I said and did so people wouldn’t get angry with me.

I hate when people are angry with me it makes me feel like I did something wrong and with BPD making a mistake and being a bad person are the same thing. Only bad people do bad things and it can be hard for us to comprehend that those who love us can say nasty things when angry. As far as we’re concerned they hate us because why would they say those things unless they hate us? It goes the other way around for me too. I once got into a fight with my mum and I told her I wished she was dead because I was so angry I thought I hated her at the time. When we both calmed down and I apologized I didn’t understand how she could still love me and forgive me after I said something so awful because doesn’t that make ME awful?

In conflict, especially with BPD, it can be hard to accept other perspectives in a situation because of ‘black and white’ thinking. You’re either wrong or right, good or bad, when I try to see another POV I get really distressed because if the other person makes a valid point does that make everything I believe wrong and them right? No, because the world is rarely black and white but shades of grey 😉 sometimes we don’t want to listen or validate the other person’s argument as it can feel like a betrayal to our own values and community. Like with extreme feminism/anti feminism or religion, we can develop an “us or them” mentality “you’re either with us or against us” no in-between or middle ground because the community can shun you for not completely agreeing with or obeying/believing them. It’s why I don’t really get involved in politics or label myself with any religion as it feels very much like having to pick a side and close myself off to other perspectives

Anyway, recently I had a DBT session about interpersonal effectiveness and I realized its not the fact we disagree that’s the problem, it’s the way we disagree with each-other that’s the issue. I see it a lot, especially online, when people disagree with each-other and they yell, treat each-other with aggression and no respect. Insults and swear words are thrown around which gets neither party anywhere. Its fair that, when someone calls you a “piece of shit” for not sharing their views , you want to fight back and defend yourself but you can’t fight fire with fire. My therapist taught me a DBT skill called GIVE which I think even those without BPD could do with learning.

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G stands for GENTLE- Treat the other person with kindness and respect (I know this can be hard especially if you consider their actions and statements to be immoral but they’re more likely to listen to you if you don’t attack them)

INTERESTED- act interested in what the other person is saying by making eye contact, keeping your attention on what the other person is saying without interrupting them. Nod from time to time as they talk to show you’re listening.

VALIDATE- What the other person has said and how they’re feeling by saying things like “I see this is important to you” or “I understand that you’re angry” try to understand where they’re coming from and work from there. This is NOT the same as agreeing with the other person but showing compassion for them is more likely to calm them down and get them to listen to you rather than shouting or insulting them.

EASY MANNER- Notice your body language, voice and choice of words; make sure you are not shutting the other person out by crossing your arms, raising your voice or belittling them. You can smile and use humor (if appropriate) to ease the tension as well.

Related Resources:

https://www.phumlanikango.com/mental-health/2018/7/31/bpd-relationships-understanding-what-goes-on-in-our-minds

‘Don’t Disagree or They’ll Hate You’: My Guide to Friendship With BPD

How I’ve Learned to Manage Conflict in Life With Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD, Jealousy and Envy

I believe we all get jealous at some stage of our lives.  I used to quite a lot.  It used to be so bad at times I could feel it eating away at me and I would develop a strong dislike for someone, but not understanding why. Since starting my medication and neurofeedback therapy, I’ve felt it less often and intense. I still get envious though.  I find what triggers it is someone getting more attention or affection than me eg someone I perceive as being more liked/popular than me. It’s a hard thing to admit and I hate feeling this way but the green eyed monster can be powerful.

When I was attached to someone, this could be my mum or a friend, I would feel very possessive of them. If they had other people around who could fill my shoes, I would fear them leaving me as I tend to see myself as “second best” or the “backup plan”. I truly believed that a friend or family member would leave me as soon as they found someone better. It took me years to accept my mum’s best friend.  Before then I saw her as the enemy, the one taking my mum’s love and attention away from me, the one who my mum would leave me for. As crazy as this appears, this type of thinking makes sense when given my family history.

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I never really did anything about it though. When the green eyed monster came, I would feel ashamed for not just being happy for the people I loved and I would suppress the feeling. However this envy/jealousy would grow into resentment and bitterness because I didn’t properly address the emotions at the first stage. Thus leading to tension in my relationships with others and paranoid thinking which can morph into serious trust issues and destroy relationships.

I’m more socially isolated at the moment so I don’t experience jealousy as such but more envy.  Social media is a big trigger for this envy. When I think someone is doing better than me with content, followers or praise I find that pit of irrational hatred for the person I see as doing better than me. Like I said, I would see them as competition and I would feel bitterness for myself and life. Why can’t I be as well liked as they are? Why does their site look better than mine? Why isn’t my writing as good as theirs? etc. Then shame would kick in. Why can’t I just be happy for them? Why do I have to be so negative? Why can’t I just be grateful? I have decided to try and understand jealousy/envy instead of pushing it away like I usually do…
jealous love quotes love quotes love jealous quotes

The difference between envy and jealousy:

Envy vs. Jealousy. The main difference between envy and jealousy is that envy is the emotion of coveting what someone else has, while jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else.

Quote from: https://www.diffen.com/difference/Envy_vs_Jealousy

so, to summarize, Jealousy relates to personal relationships (romantic, familial and friendly) whereas envy relates to more materialistic things and can be felt towards a complete stranger.

Why do we get jealous or envious?

In DBT emotional regulation, one of the first things we learn is that each emotion has a function, even the ones we deem bad. Each one is there to motivate us to do something either negative or positive. Its not the emotion that’s necessarily bad its the actions we choose to take because of them. For example, Jealousy can motivate us to do better than our third party competition in order to keep the one we cherish and impress them. A negative action to take with Jealousy is to become possessive of a loved one, controlling or clingy to make sure the one you love can’t leave.

Envy can motivate us to push ourselves a bit more so we can do just as well as the person we’re envious of and achieve that success we crave. However this feeling can lead to things like bullying, where you try to tear down the person you deem more successful and happy to make them feel as bad as you. So you see, if we take these emotions and not judge them we can use them to become better friends, partners or family members and achieve more than we thought possible.

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Artwork by: Unknown

Jealousy and Envy in BPD

Jealousy and envy seem to be more of a problem in those of us with BPD. The jealousy probably stems from our insecurity and fear of abandonment. A blogger (linked below) said that envy in BPD could be due to our chronic sense of emptiness, causing the desire to have what others have that make them happy so that we may know happiness. It could also boil down to the fact that we can feel more intensely than others, which can lead to problematic behaviors when those feelings (i.e jealousy or envy) are not managed properly.

How to combat jealousy and envy (in a healthy way)

Another thing we learn in DBT emotional regulation is Opposite Action where we can choose to calm ourselves by acting the opposite way to how we’re feeling. You observe the emotion, what its motivating you to do and, if the action is deemed ineffective, we can use Opposite Action to neutralize the emotions.

For (a real life) example I was talking to someone via text and they stopped replying. I assumed I said something wrong or that they didn’t like me so I felt anxious and afraid. Because of this I was tempted to keep texting them until they answered, apologize or get angry to grab their attention. I knew that would be wrong so instead I cried while eating cake until I felt sick.

Now, in hindsight, once I checked that my actions would be ineffective or make things worse I could have practiced opposite action which would have been to show self compassion by challenging my assumptions of the worst “they hate me” and practicing self care instead of making myself ill.

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Image from: comic “working with envy” by Colleen Butters

Here are some OPPOSITE ACTION ideas for envy/jealousy:

  1. Count your blessings “name them one by one, count your blessings don’t you spoil the fun” (sorry, just whenever I came across that phase the song I was taught in school comes to mind lol)
  2. Challenge thoughts instead of acting on them. For example (on social media) think something like “is their life really that perfect? They could just be showing me what they want me to see and not the “ugly” parts of their life”
  3. Appreciate/ be kind to yourself. If you feel envious/ jealous it may be because you’re insecure and have low self esteem. So, take some time to appreciate that you’re doing your best and make a list (or ask a loved one to) of all your achievements and positive qualities.
  4. ACKNOWLEDGE, COMMUNICATE, RESOLVE– demonstrated in the “dealing with jealousy” video linked below. These three steps are more personal for myself as, like I mentioned before, I deal with jealousy by suppressing, withdrawing and leaving the situation unresolved because of the shame I have around the emotion. So this would be a very good Opposite Action for me.
  5. Think about the other person– People with BPD can be so empathetic, I find it hard not to cry when I see someone else cry or be sick when someone else has been. I’m very good at feeling others’ pain even when I don’t want to, I imagine this is the same for a lot of us, being so emotionally sensitive. If we find it easy to feel the pain of others, then we can learn to feel people’s pleasure too by putting ourselves in the shoes of the person we envy. I believe an article linked below mentions MUDITA which is sympathetic joy. I personally would much rather be able to experience people’s joy more than their pain, so I’d like to give this a practice 🙂

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to let me know your experiences with envy/jealousy. Have you been the jealous/envious one before? Have you ever been on the receiving end of jealousy/envy? How do you handle these feelings when they arise?

Take care ❤

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201103/envy-the-emotion-kept-secret

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/turning-straw-gold/201207/transforming-envy-joy

https://www.borderlineblog.com/envy-envy-and-more-envy.php

https://www.my-borderline-personality-disorder.com/2018/10/bpd-trauma-and-jealousy.html

REJECTION WITH BPD

I’ve lost count how many jobs I applied for and times I got rejected before I finally got a really good job. It was a temporary contract though so now I’m back on the market looking for a new job. After my previous success I had high hopes for the next application I made, only to get rejected again. I found it hard to cope after that, I felt like my world had been rocked but I didn’t really pay attention to those feelings until my most recent job application.

I’d wanted to do some prep before the interview but when I tried to research and prepare my answers thoughts such as “this is pointless” “I’m not good enough” and “what’s the point in trying if they’re just going to reject me” started invading my mind. I got really upset and abandoned the mission. I struggled to understand why I was suddenly so depressed when just a month ago I was so hopeful and happy to get a new job. Then after my latest interview it hit me. Rejection.

I hadn’t realised until then just how much my BPD still affects me. The reason I was so hopeful back in January was because of my previous success but then I got rejected and that affected my mood.

You see, people with BPD try so hard to be accepted, to avoid rejection from people as well as abandonment. I knew that application rejections happen all the time to everyone but that didn’t stop the hurt. Feeling like I wasn’t good enough or disliked. It was worse when the interviewers would reject me without giving a reason or feedback, so I didn’t know what I did wrong and how I could fix it to be accepted next time.

The job applications, interviews and rejections were a long, disappointing, depressing process. I imagine it would be rough for a “normal” person but everything seems X10 worse when you have BPD. I’m happy I had at least that one successful time though, it has helped me feel more optimistic that someone somewhere will like and accept me. It just feels like finding a needle in a haystack and the harder and longer I have to look the more hopeless and frustrated I get.

Every rejection feels like a slap in the face, even though I know it can’t be personal and questions start swarming my headspace “why didn’t they like me?” “Why do I even bother trying?” “What did I do wrong?” “Why do they hate me?” And on it goes. The other side to how I would react to rejection was blaming “the powers that be” in the company, I remember getting rejected after a trial shift and thinking “that shift leader was a bitch, she probably talked shit about me to the managers” even though she would have been reprimanded for doing something like that so she probably didn’t. I still held a grudge against that poor girl for months.

The first company I ever applied for also rejected me after a trial shift, not long after that they ended up being shut down and I celebrated like “that’s what you get for rejecting me, assholes” as if they rejected me because of some personal vendetta they had against me. I used to take job rejection way too personally so how have I managed to not crumble from all this rejection?

Well, firstly, I’ve been trying to change my concept of rejection, instead of thinking “I wasn’t right for the job” I try thinking “Maybe the job wasn’t right for me”. Thinking this way has helped heal the hurt I felt after being rejected so many times. I also use my free time to plan and do other things I enjoy so I don’t get too bored or isolated. I’ve been going to groups at my local wellbeing centre as well as attending DBT sessions weekly and doing voluntary work on Saturdays. I’d like to start doing more soon to prepare me for paid work again as, when I worked as a Christmas temp, the time and the energy required was overwhelming considering it was my first paid job. Recently I’ve come to accept that I may not be ready for paid work and I should stop pushing myself so hard for a while. For now I think I need to focus on my recovery and hopefully I’ll be able to work in the future.

Read how Val Prozorova overcame anger and fear of rejection while dealing with BPD:

https://themighty.com/2017/06/bpd-borderline-personality-disorder-rejection/

and check out Recovery Mum’s videos on BPD and Rejection:

More videos to show some love:

TRIGGERED

I spend a lot of my spare time on the internet which has been both a blessing and a curse. What I wanted to talk about was #triggered, now, most of you may think of this as a mental health thing. Something happens that makes you remember past trauma and causes you distress but now thanks to the wonders of the internet it has become a meme/joke to say that someone is offended when the two are different things.

It got me thinking that a lot of the times online, people who are genuinely triggered or trigger warnings are made fun of as being overly sensitive or a “special snowflake”. I think this whole thing came about to make fun of people on Tumblr and SJWs (social justice warriors)

I’m wondering if stuff like this is what stops me from talking about being triggered when I truly I am, for fear people won’t take me seriously. For example I was scrolling through Instagram a while back and came across this drawing someone had done (I won’t describe it) that had triggered me. There was no trigger warning, no “nsfw” sign just the image and a note below it saying “if you don’t like it, keep scrolling” but it was too late I saw it. I tried to push past it, deleted it from my feed  and just kept scrolling like they said but I saw something else just like it and I just couldn’t, I deleted the app feeling scared, angry and ashamed.

I wanted to report the drawings but I was afraid of people saying I was too sensitive or that I have no right to censorship and stuff like that, but it was really messed up like why would someone draw something so… I don’t even know how to describe it but because of it memories and old feelings came back to me and that night I had a nightmare linked to all of it.

There are people who I can’t even hear the names of now because I attach them to feeling of intense anxiety or rage. There was a time where I felt pressured to do something I was really uncomfortable with and because of my past experiences I felt sick with fear and thought I was going to have a panic attack. When I told them this, they didn’t take me seriously, they thought I was joking ( why would I joke about something like that?) And that made me feel worse. I fell out with them shortly afterwards and now my brain links them to anxiety and anger. Whenever they are mentioned that memory is brought back to me and I start shaking, wanting to cry while also feeling so furious. Does anyone else know a person who affects them like this? Is it normal for someone like me?

Thanks for reading, NI2M ❤

That was unexpected…

Do you ever feel like you know a person and you have a bond with them but they do a 180 and it throws you off completely? Well that’s what has happened to me recently… twice.

First it was with my mentor who has been visiting me in my home to help me get a job, we’d been working together for a few weeks and I usually have my mum in the room so she can talk for me when I forget something or simply don’t want to talk (I’m usually reserved with people I don’t really know) but in this session my mum asked if I was okay with her leaving the room and I said I wanted her to stay to which my mentor said “aren’t you comfortable being alone with me by now?” and that made me feel like I had to get mum to leave even though I felt very uncomfortable after that. I felt judged and like yet again I had to put aside my own feelings to please someone else. I was in a bad mood for quite a while after that and I think its made my trust in her has wobbled a bit.

The second time was with my therapist who I’m still working with despite what I’m about to tell you she did. So I was in the session and it was the 12th week which I thought was the last session but she said there was more to do and introduced ON THE SPOT this new type of therapy, if you remember from one of my previous posts when neurofeedback was suggested to me I was TERRIFIED but this was worse because now I didn’t have a week to prepare she wanted me to try it straight away!

The therapy was called Alpha-Theta and its where you have a weighted blanket put on you as well as a blindfold and headphones so you can’t see or hear anything apart from the ocean sounds coming through the headphones This may sound relaxing but I hated it because 1) it was new and too soon 2) I’m scared of the dark 3) the fact that my senses were cut off from the surroundings gave me really bad anxiety 4) I could barely move my legs under the weighted blanket so I felt trapped and vulnerable. I felt like crying and ripping off the electrodes, blindfold and headphones, storming out of the room or yelling at my therapist what the hell she thought she was doing but I got through it, since then my bond has been shaken with said therapist.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that alpha-theta is a bad method I did try it a second time which went better and I plan to continue with it. I’m just saying that I felt a little betrayed by her and shocked that she would spring something so new on to me so quickly. My latest therapy session didn’t go so well either, again I had my mum with me (because trust issues) and there was something that triggered me not long before the session so I obviously would have difficulty talking about it so I asked my mum to do it but therapist said she would ban my mum from coming to the sessions if I didn’t speak myself and to this a jolt of fear ran through me so yet again I had to put my own feelings aside to please someone else after that my defenses kicked in and  felt like yelling and cursing at her but I withheld from doing that.

I get it. I’m 20. I shouldn’t be relying on my mum so much but I’m in recovery for MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS so yeah I probably will rely on my mum more than the average 20 year old, it may seem childish but right now I need my mum’s comfort, I can go out on my own and be independent but on my own terms I will “fly the nest” when I’m ready to and if anything those people saying I shouldn’t have my mum around so much make me feel like I need her more. I have felt like hurting myself and my intrusive thoughts are bothering me because they hurt me so I need my mum right now.

I have learned from this experience that I should start respecting my own wants and needs, that I shouldn’t let people make me feel uncomfortable. I need to be more assertive rather than aggressive and stand my ground when someone tries making me do something I don’t want to do. I am my own person and I should respect myself the way I wish people would respect me.

Thank you for reading (lyrics to the song in the video description) NI2M ❤

 

MeetMeOnTheBorderline: Rewriting Myself With Neurofeedback

A couple of days ago I had my first Neurofeedback session to deal with my explosive anger,it was a strange experience. I had electrodes placed on my head, one behind my ear, one just above the ear and the third went on the back of my head. These electrodes would monitor my brain activity while I watched a video that would train the calming part of my brain to work better.

The video was of a butterfly going through various tunnels of bright colours and childish images (I honestly thought “this is what it must be like to take drugs” lol)  through quite a bit of it I was on edge and thinking way too much but at times I was able to relax and I gradually sunk into the sofa feeling more and more sleepy.

The therapist showed me my results and explained that she was examining which frequency in the music triggered the calming part to work properly. My frequency was 02.00 she told me that people with brain damage would need a higher frequency while people with OCD would require a lower frequency. In the proceeding sessions we’ll be training my brain to respond to lower frequencies so I can calm down easier.

I have noticed some difference after the session such as I was playing a game with some friends well one of them is very competitive and tends to get angry when losing, usually I would get mad right back at him and have to leave to stop a full on argument brewing, this time however I wasn’t responding with aggression and I was able to laugh and enjoy myself. I’ve been laughing quite a bit recently which is good because I don’t remember the last time I properly laughed before now.

Thank you for reading,

NI2M ❤