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

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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 ❤

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 🙂

Growing Up With BPD

Trigger warning: This post talks about self harm and suicidal behaviours

When I was diagnosed with BPD at age 18 a lot of things fell into place. When I showed my mum a leaflet about the diagnosis she was able to link a lot of my behavior to the disorder. Fair to say we both agreed with the diagnosis, in hindsight the signs were there all along but professionals are reluctant to diagnose children and teens with BPD as the mood swings and unsure identity could be put down to growing up. They tend to wait until you’re 18 or older to diagnose you but I think if someone had picked up on the signs at an early stage I might have got better but instead the symptoms got progressively worse.

For as long as I can remember intense emotions have affected my life. When I was in nursery and primary school I would get so distressed about going and being separated from my mum that I would cry, scream and put myself at risk to avoid going. I’d run away from home or undo my seat belt in the car in the hopes that we would crash and I would get hurt or die so I wouldn’t have to go to school.

I would cry out of nowhere even if, like a minute ago, I was laughing I could suddenly start crying or get angry at the drop of a hat. Attachments were an obvious issue for me as well, not just being overly attached to my mum but I would get attached to toys and games, getting incredibly upset if they broke. At the age of 10 I was in therapy for anger management problems. I only got six sessions with the therapists but when they “dropped” me I felt unwanted, unimportant and abandoned.

I used to go horse riding every week which I enjoyed but from one week to the next I could feel completely different about it. I remember looking forward to this special riding party with other kids but on the day of the party I was crying and screaming like I was being forced to go to school.

My friendships were very unstable in my primary school/early high school life. I would get angry easily for reasons that not even I knew sometimes but it meant a fight nearly every other day. We would always make up and be good friends until the next time I got upset with them. Being friends with me was like trying to handle a ticking time bomb that could go off at any minute or with even a slight wrong touch. There are a lot of diary entries from my first year of high school talking about this one girl and each entry would be either about how bad of a friend she was or how we made up after a fight… Again.

Suicidal ideation was around from a young age too. I wrote in my diary about how I hurt a friend and how I felt so guilty that if she didn’t forgive me I might as well end my life. This may all sound dramatic but this was how I was genuinely feeling at the time. I was considered a drama queen and a crybaby for years because of this emotional intensity.

I was bullied as I wore my heart on my sleeve and it was obvious there was something wrong with me as I was able to go from laughing to crying to lashing out in a matter of minutes. I was aware of how my emotional sensitivity was a problem but I didn’t know how to control it. In my teen years these erratic emotions morphed into severe depression and anxiety.

I was crying almost every night and having a panic attack nearly everyday, I’d also learned how to self harm and that became my way of releasing my emotional pain and self hatred. I eventually got counselling and group therapy for these things which helped a little but as the disorder could not yet be diagnosed, the issues were still there. I just became better at hiding/suppressing my emotions at school and with family, saving my “meltdowns” for when I was alone.

I changed my mind a lot too, picking my subjects to take at GCSE was a nightmare as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be when I got older. My aspirations would change nearly every week and I went to the office multiple times to change my options, I eventually settled for Drama, Art and Child development as, for a short while, I wanted to be a social worker,that dream changed quickly though.

In college things seemed to be looking up, I was happier there but underneath the cheeriness was the fear that if I let my “true” self show everyone would hate me and I would be bullied again so I played up the happy/hyperactive persona as that is the side of me people seemed to prefer. However, this escalated into mania that would last a couple of hours but by the end of the day I was emotionally and physically drained from all the hyperactivity. If something went wrong during the day or I perceived someone as being upset with me, my mood would quickly change to depressed and distressed.

So you see, when I was a child, I had no pause button on my emotional reactions. Whenever I felt overwhelmed I didn’t know how to stop the tears or the rage, I didn’t know how to react to these intense emotions in a healthy way or communicate how I was feeling to others appropriately so very soon a wedge was driven between me and the other kids. It was when I started being bullied more severely in high school that I learned to not let my feelings show, bottling them up and suppressing them as much as I could but even then some of it would show, especially the rage.

The emotional intensity, mood swings, unstable relationships, attachment issues and lack of identity were there with me from a very early age. Things have improved since I got neurofeedback, DBT therapy and medication but there are definitely things I need to work on like resolving my trauma and coming to terms with the way my life is now because of said trauma. I understand why professionals are reluctant to diagnose people with the disorder before 18 but I think early intervention is key for BPD. I think there is a term called ’emerging personality disorder” that identifies symptoms of a personality disorder in young people without actually diagnosing them. I think this would have been useful for me as it would have got me treated sooner and improved my school life but alas that was not the case. I do think it would be a good idea to teach children about how to deal with difficult emotions and how to look after their mental health, not necessarily if they show signs of mental illness but in general.

Hope you liked this post, do feel free to let me know what you think or share your experience with a personality disorder in childhood. Thanks for reading.

NI2M ❤

19 Signs You Grew Up With Borderline Personality Disorder

18 Signs You Grew Up With ‘Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder’

https://thetab.com/uk/sheffield/2018/10/11/this-is-what-it-is-really-like-growing-up-with-borderline-personality-disorder-36588

BPD Obsessions

A while ago I was really into the sims and I’m talking OBSESSED with it to the point that I could barely think of anything else. I couldn’t afford the actual PC version but I made do with the Create-A-Sim demo, the mobile version and youtube videos. It got to the point that, when I tried to do something else, I would get agitated and itch to get back to the sims like withdrawal symptoms of an addiction. I would daydream about owning The sims on PC and create storylines for my characters. When my phone got stolen I became really distressed as it meant I lost all my Sims mobile progress and the characters I created and loved were gone. It’s sad I know but I think at the time the game was the only thing making me happy.

This happened other times as I grew up as well, when I was in year 10 I became obsessed with this online game called Poptropica, I would play it for hours in my spare time and then talk about my adventures in the game with my friends the next day. It was actually one of them that pointed out how obsessed I can get with things. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and just put it down to me being my weird self but once I was diagnosed with BPD a lot of the behaviors like this started making sense. The sudden attachment I would get to these things that made me feel happy the way I couldn’t seem to control and got addicted to the euphoric feeling, spending as much time on that thing as possible until I eventually got bored of it.

disorder-personality-4I guess, for me, these things are a form of escapism, especially if I’m going through a time where I feel particularly lonely and depressed. When I found something that made me feel excited and happy I would cling on to it and consume my life with it. It’s not just games I can get obsessed with but also ideas, TV shows, books and even people.

With people though it tends not to be someone I know in real life as I’m afraid of intimacy or overstepping boundaries so I tend to get attached to far away people I won’t ever meet like celebrities and youtubers. I had a crush on Jacksepticeye for a while and would watch his videos for hours a day until I just found I lost interest again. I do this with other youtubers, but I don’t usually develop crushes, just rather enjoy their content and enjoy how happy they make me.

About a year ago, I became obsessed with crystals, angels and general spirituality. Whenever I went out I became fixated on buying everything I ‘needed’ to be spiritual. I spent a lot of money buying as many books about crystals, angels, etc as possible. I collected things to put on my altar/sacred space. I joined online groups about witchcraft and other such things. I even attended workshops to learn to read tarot and changed my diet. After a few months, when my contract for my first job ended, my obsession seemed to die down however I felt guilty for buying all the things and not using them so I still practice when I feel the need to.

There are other obsessions I had that are still part of my life today. When I was about 14 I got really into the music of the band EVANESCENCE. I learned all the words to nearly all their songs, Idolized Amy Lee and got my dad to take me to see them in concert… twice. I found Evanescence and Amy Lee could put words to how I was feeling in a way that I couldn’t and, even though their songs were dark, it made me happy to pretend I was on stage singing their songs. I’ve got nearly all their albums and some merch, some recent as I still love them over 5 years later.

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Around the same time I developed an interest in Evanescence, I started watching BBC Merlin and loved it. The show was about three seasons in when I joined the fandom so there were school nights spent having Merlin Marathons to catch up and, while I waited for the fourth and fifth seasons, I’d watch sneak peeks of the new episodes, watch and read fan-made content and get as much memorabilia as I could. Even though it was cancelled years ago I still come up with my own fan stories, own everything I bought for it and even still dream about the show!

Its fair to say that although my obsessions with Evanescence, Merlin and spirituality have died down they are still a part of what makes me who I am. Not all of my obsessions have continued this way though, like I mentioned with the sims, I can be really into something for a while until I exhaust myself day and night with it and lose interest. I think this has a lot to do with ‘all or nothing’ thinking where we either really care about something or have no interest in it at all. When we do care about something we can be incredibly passionate and go overboard with our interest as we struggle to regulate our intense emotions. When obsessed with something like a hobby it can consume our minds and lives so much that it feels like our identity as well.

I hadn’t realized, until I did research for this post, that as BPD sufferers we can become obsessive over thoughts and memories. I always put this down to having a bit of OCD or an overly analytical mind but it’s actually a BPD thing. Where if something particularly distressing happens I will overthink, analyze and obsess about it until my brain seems to finally let go. For example, when I fall out with friends I obsessively think and write about what happened from multiple angles, picking apart the event, what they said as well as what I said. How they made me feel and how I imagine I made them feel. Its basically like beating a dead horse but my brain can’t seem to let go until I’ve exhausted all realms of possibilities or it gets distracted for a while.

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There are also obsessions with a crush/romantic partner we can have but I don’t really have experience in that department. I guess my brain just feels safer attaching itself to fiction and things rather than real life people but if you have any experience with BPD obsessions romantic or otherwise then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thank you for reading, take care ❤

BPD and Obsessions

When BPD Makes You Obsessed With Trying New and Interesting Hobbies

13 ‘Obsessive’ Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Do

BPD and Commitment/Consistency Issues

I’ve honestly lost count of the amount of projects I’ve started but haven’t finished. The would be bestsellers left incomplete and unpublished. The art project I did one piece for but haven’t continued, even courses I didn’t finish studying as well as youtube channels discontinued and deleted.

I have days of creative inspiration and want to get my ideas out there and I do really well for a few days or weeks but then the inspiration dies and I no longer have the motivation to do the things I set out to do.

I think this blog is the only thing I’ve commited to properly and even then there are big dips in my productivity for months after a phase of doing really well with posts. So what causes me to discontinue things I was so passionate about?

Disappointment.

When I’m in a euphoric BPD mood I can feel on top of the world and have high hopes for what I do. Like I could totally be a viral sensation or I imagine doing these things as fantastic and feeling good doing them but when it actually comes to doing these things, its not as good as I’d hoped. Like an art piece doesn’t look as good as it did in my head. I get disappointed, feel hopeless and like I failed and this causes me to give up on the dream I had for the idea.

MOOD SWINGS

With BPD I don’t know what mood I’m going to be in from hour to hour or day to day. I’m more stabilized and my moods change less frequently and quickly with my meds but its still a problem for me. Like I said I can have periods of time feeling motivated, hopeful and inspired but a few hours later I can be depressed and disinterested in everything that interested me before. It gets worse when PMS hits, I can have days and weeks of feeling down and my brain being too hazy to create anything. I can be really motivated to do something at night but when I wake up in the morning I don’t want to do it anymore for whatever reason, usually a lack of energy.

PERSONALITY SHIFTS

Like my mood, my personality can experience changes. I find youtube hard to do as I feel the pressure to have some sort of identity and a consistent personality throughout videos but that’s not the case for me. It usually depends on my environment what kind of person I feel like. For example I was in a bookshop and there I suddenly felt a passion for reading and wanted to start writing a story, then I went into a spiritual shop where I then felt tranquil, I wanted to meditate and do yoga. I do still like these things but when I’m at home I don’t feel as inspired to do these things regularly.

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I’ve recently finished DBT therapy and even that was hard to do consistently, every week I’d feel different about it. When I first started the treatment I was so hopeful and committed to getting better that going to therapy each week seemed exciting until it wasn’t. I got tired of fighting the disorder and just wanted to get on with life like a normal person. When my therapist upset me by making me talk about my trauma and I stopped wanting to see her as I felt hurt and betrayed. I believe I missed at least 3 sessions and we skipped quite a lot of the skills so the treatment could finish in the three months it needed to be done. I think that’s one of the reasons BPD can be hard to treat because we can find it hard to attend sessions consistently for the reasons listed above(mood, disillusion and personality changes). I have learned a lot and I think enough to get me by for the next 6 months-year before I can go to DBT group so the struggle was worth it 🙂

Its been hard for me to even start anything because I don’t see the point as I probably won’t continue/finish it anyway. However I do have some ideas as to what works for me in getting me to be more consistent with things and to stop being hard on myself when I miss a week of doing something. These are the ideas:

Managing Expectations– I found when starting something or first meeting someone my imagination would run wild with all the great possibilities of what would happen. This would lead me to expect unrealistically great things of myself and others. For example “I could make a really good art project even though I haven’t done art for months” I’d expect too much of myself and others too fast so would end up disappointed when it didn’t work out how I hoped. When I find this happening mindfulness can be a good way to ground myself and stop from running with excitement and fantasy. Making notes of the facts can help as well like yes I could do these things but I’m out of practice so its best to start with something simple.

Small Goals– Leading on from that, when I have an idea or desire to do something I like to plan how I’m going to do it, thing is I tend not to stick to the plan as it is unrealistic. I can still think of a step by step plan but It’s better to make the first step manageable and then gradually build up like levels of a video game. Its best for me not to set time limits or plan when I’m going to do these things as my brain tends to not conform to schedules For example I want to practice meditation everyday in order to reduce emotional suffering. It would be unrealistic for me to expect myself to be able to do 30 minutes of meditation at the same time everyday. Therefore the first step to being that good at meditation could be to spend two minutes meditating every other day. Then once I’ve got the hang of that I can slowly increase the time and frequency until I reach my goal.

Sticking to Values– In DBT you’re taught how to gain more of a sense of self by making note of your values, what you believe is most important to you. When I first did this, it was hard for me to think of anything as I felt I had no real values but over time I looked at what made me feel passionate or angry. My trigger for anger is when I see people being treated unfairly so I figured one of my core values is JUSTICE and EQUALITY. When deciding on your goals its good to remember your values and work with them instead of working towards goals that you think you should because of someone else. For me this would mean I’m more likely to stick to the goal I set as its true to myself whereas I don’t feel comfortable with conformity so to set a goal based on someone else’s values would go against my own and I’d be more likely to “rebel” and go my own way.

Thank you for reading, I hope this post was insightful, there’s no resources this time as I couldn’t seem to find much about this topic but if you happen to know of any articles or videos that could be useful then please feel free to comment the links or just let me know your experience with changing hobbies and interests. thanks again. hopefully see you in the next one xx

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Hope Of Recovery?

I’ve heard people refer to BPD as a “dead end diagnosis” that its not treatable or even a mental illness. I’ve also had people tell me that’s bullshit and recovery from BPD is possible. It’s hard to handle these conflicting POVs especially when they come from mental health professionals. BPD is a controversial topic in psychology, some psychiatrists/psychologists believe that people with BPD don’t have empathy while others believe they do. It’s pretty much the same in all round psychology, when I studied it in college, there was always a case for a theory but also a case against it so it all boils down to the professional’s personal perspective.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone with the disorder as we’re still individuals so we may or may not believe in recovery, taking medication or that the diagnosis is a real one. Again, it really depends on who you ask. Mental illness is a personal battle that we fight in whatever way works best for us. I believe that we can research and theorize about the human mind all we want but not everyone can fit the label or box that we tend to get put in with a diagnosis. This is my story so far but don’t think you have to feel the way I did or do the things I did because you’re an individual, much more than your diagnosis.

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Personally, I was relieved to have the diagnosis of BPD as it meant I finally had an explanation for what’s wrong with me. This was before I realized how negatively stigmatized the disorder is and how invalidating people can be because you have BPD. I once had a psychiatrist ask if I attempted suicide for attention, when I brought it up with the crisis team (which I’ll talk about in another post) they just said its the diagnosis and unfortunately even professionals are going to be dicks about it (ok that wasn’t their exact words but you get the gist). I mean, how can professionals talk down to and about their clients because of something they are supposed to understand but clearly don’t?

I’ve been lucky compared to most though, I managed to get access to neurofeedback therapy and I’m now doing DBT therapy thanks to my supportive parents. I know not everyone with mental illness has such a supportive family. In fact,even now, mental illness is still met with ignorance from friends, family and professionals so, how the hell are we supposed to recover from BPD when met with such stigma? When we’re told by professionals that what we’re experiencing is a stupid diagnosis and there is no hope of recovery?

tumblr_n49jkd8fYm1tz8okxo1_500Can I recover from it? to be honest I’m not sure I could ever recover completely but I have been learning to manage it through DBT and my mental state has improved after roughly 6 months of neurofeedback therapy and the right medication. Things aren’t perfect by any means. I’ve definitely not fully recovered but things are better than they were last year. I’m better at processing things and calming myself down when things get bad. Doing my own reading about it and connecting with others who have BPD online has been a sort of self help/ peer support therapy for me.

The diagnosis can be isolating and lonely when you think that no one understands how you feel and people IRL can make you feel worse because of misconceptions they have about the disorder. So meeting people experiencing similar issues can be really uplifting. Honestly I think if it wasn’t for this blog or the people I’ve met on twitter I would still be so incredibly lonely and ashamed. But reading about others’ experience gives me hope and a reason to fight despite people telling me there is no hope for people like me.

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As I said before, your journey is a personal one so if you can find a way to recover from the disorder completely, that’s awesome. If not and you’re just managing to get through each day that’s okay, I’m still learning too so I don’t want to preach a certain way of life like its the cure-all.. The best I can do is encourage you to try different things and not give up on yourself even if others try to shame you or say you’re hopeless. Only you can decide what works best for you and recovery looks different for everyone.

TW: This next part contains reference to suicidal ideation and self  harm

For example, recently I had a terrible interview that left me wanting to die and cut myself.  It was hard battling that storm of self hatred and rage and I ended up snapping a hairband on my skin. This may not seem that much of a change to you, you may even consider this a relapse but considering that I’d been dealing with the urge to self harm on and off for weeks and at that point gave in to temptation, that’s pretty good for me. Even in crisis I resisted the urge to the point I couldn’t take anymore but instead of grabbing something sharp I went for the hairband which caused significantly less damage while also satisfying the urge. It may not be as good as not self harming at all or going for a run instead but it is an improvement for me 🙂

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Thanks for reading and do feel free to let me know your experience with BPD ❤

 

Recommended Reading:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/treatment-and-support/#.XJ0YB_ZFzIU

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/both-sides-the-couch/201309/borderline-personality-disorder-the-power-recovery

https://bpdtransformation.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/how-did-i-recover-from-borderline-personality-disorder/

http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/borderline-personality-disorder-vol7/borderline-personality-disorder

https://themighty.com/2017/04/my-journey-borderline-personality-disorder-treatment-and-recovery/

 

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: