Sunday, June 28, 2015

Don't Know What I Did Next, All I Know I Couldn't Stop

"You sound like me when I was 16."

This is what a friend of mine (who deals with issues of his own) has said to me on a couple of occasions. The comment came from a place of understanding and not malice, but it's one of the truest statements someone has made about my disorder. My issues mainly stem from events that happened to me when I was younger, particularly as a teenager. Looking back I had a lot of anger and sometimes I still feel like that angry, scared, lost girl.

Right now I am under a lot of pressure and stress. When under such distress I become more irritable and tend to project my anger and frustrations onto other people. I'm going to be honest, the people I target are people who I feel I can dominate. This behavior is not something I do to those I put on a pedestal. This projection is magnified by the fact that I currently don't have a therapist, meaning I don't have a real outlet for my frustrations.  Recently I treated a dear friend very poorly, and now I'm paying the price.

In my last blog I talked about how there are people who I wouldn't dare defy; people who I would obey with the snap of a finger. Then there are those that I seek to defy, to push harder the more they try to help. As I hurled insults and anger at my friend he tried to help me, but I continued with my blind rage. Part of BPD is being disassociated, and that's what happened in that situation. This is where things get tricky; for some it may sound like I am using my disorder as an excuse for my behavior. I'm not, but I am acknowledging that it is a huge factor. When I disassociate I feel like I am two different people. As I continued to spew my anger in my friend's direction, there was part of me that was screaming inside, "stop, you're going to regret this! STOP!" but no matter what, I wouldn't and I couldn't. Coming back to an earlier part of the post, this behavior is harder to control when I am not in therapy. Once a week group is not enough.

I hate feeling regretful, I hate feeling humbled, and I hate feeling ashamed. In that moment I knew if I stopped, that all those feelings would come on like a tidal wave. So I kept going, I kept going like I had this hard exterior, like I didn't give a fuck, but I did. I'm not that type of person, I am not the person my disorder makes me. I'm caring, open, supportive, and kind. I am not a monster, I am not a bully, but I acted like one because I let my disorder control me. Many people think this is something I can just turn off; it's not, and it's why being in therapy is so important. I can't turn off my borderline much like someone can't turn off their diabetes or cancer. They need help, and so do I.

I want to reiterate that I am not excusing my behavior, I am not justifying it. I am simply recognizing where it stems from. I am also recognizing that I have to face the consequences of my behavior. My friend has not spoken to me since Tuesday. No matter how many times I've apologized, humbled myself, and pleaded. He has not responded. However, this is not the only punishment for my behavior. Not only have I lost probably the only friend that hung out with my on a regular basis, but now I have to live with the guilt and shame that comes with what I've done. The same disorder that causes me to project my anger onto others is the one that's going to turn that anger inwards.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are big with BPD, and this is what happened here. My friend said he wouldn't abandon me and now he has. He has because I was horrible, and frankly I deserved it. However, another part of me is angry. Angry because people always tell me they can deal with me and they won't leave me, until they see just how awful this disorder can be.

I'm panicking now. Panicking because I know this person and I have mutual friends. Friends whom I know would easily turn on me if they knew what I did, at least that's my fear. The guilt, shame, and judgement I feel for myself is overwhelming and I wish I could say I brought it upon myself, but if that were true then I'd be able to make easier choices. I wouldn't have this harrowing, awful, monstrous enemy fighting me every step of the way.

I'm hoping my friend can forgive me. I'm hoping he can understand that my behavior wasn't me, it was my disorder and I am not my disorder.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Validation and Inspiration

I find it pretty ironic that I consider myself a feminist, yet about 80% of the time the people who inspire me are cis, straight, white men. Of course this is more than likely due to my attachment to males which is a product of my BPD. Blah, blah, blah daddy didn't love me enough. I've talked about the black and white thinking of borderlines and how we tend to "split" people between good and bad. You're either amazing or terrible to us, and seeing the grey is difficult. While being tossed in the mud is not fun at all, being put on a pedestal isn't either; however, it can have its benefits.

If you are someone I hold in high regard then you are someone I'm going to listen to. You are someone who can get me to stop self harming with just a few words; you are someone who can light a fire under my ass, inspire me, make me want to do better. The thought of disappointing you will be unbearable.

Of course with that comes another inherent problem. My need for outside validation. I'm depending on other people to inspire me and help me do the right thing. On one hand getting inspiration from other people can be a positive thing, but not when you lose your sense of inner validation. For me that sense of wanting to impress and make someone proud can be lost just as quickly as it comes on. Either because my perception of the person has flipped or because they are no longer in my life.

There are probably 4 people in my life (2 newer, 2 older) who can tame my BPD better than anyone, but it's not up to them. I can't rely on them all the time, and it's not their job to control my disorder.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Grass Needs to be Mowed

The black and white thinking of BPD does not just affect us in our relationships. It is not uncommon for a borderline to have trouble keeping a job, keeping friends, or even staying in one living arrangement for a long period of time. Of course every borderline is different (which I'll address later on in this blog), but since this is my blog I'm focusing on what affects me.

What does black and white thinking have to do with not being able to keep a job? You may ask. Well, it has to do with our habit of splitting people into concrete "good" and "bad" categories. We see it often in relationships, but it can also spill over into other areas of life. A great boss may become a bad boss over a negative review; mix that with our habit of being impulsive and it's not unheard of for of to walk out or sabotage until we get fired.

This has been consistent in my life for a few years now. Since I moved out when I was 22, I have lived in 20 different places. Less than a handful of those I've lived in for at least a year. I can't even count the number of jobs I've had, or the number of times I've walked out or been fired. It's sometimes really hard to see the progress I've made when I see how unstable my life has been. I become regretful of my past and scared for my future.

But perhaps the biggest reminder is seeing family, or friends I have not seen in a while. All of my cousins (first) and siblings are either married, have kids, or are married with kids. They all have jobs they call careers, houses (have lived in the same place consistently for years). The same goes for many of my friends. Remember I said that every borderline is different? Well, this is never more apparent than when I compare my life to the life of two of my friends with BPD. They are both married and have been for many years, one of them has two children, and they have financial stability.

I know what you're thinking, "the grass is always greener." I know life isn't perfect for anyone; and that even those who seem to have it all, have problems. It's hard though, it's hard to look at my life and not feel like a failure compared to other people. I can't keep a job, an apartment, a boyfriend. Hell, I don't even truly have anyone I can call a best friend (at least not anymore). No one I've been close with since childhood or even my school days. Like everything else in my life, my friends change. I've never been able to consistently keep one group of friends. I have friends, sure, but not like I wish I had. Most of my friends I only talk to online, and if I do see them it's at an event we both happen to be going to. Rarely do I get invited over someone's house, asked to meetup for lunch, or anything like that.

Getting back to my family. I always hate being asked, "what have you been up to?" I have to bullshit my way though it, because I'm too embarrassed to tell the truth. "What have I been up to? Well, I got fired/quit another job, just moved again for the millionth time, I'm still broke, I struggle to not self-harm every day, I miss my ex, and I cry myself to sleep a lot. How about your self?"

I know there's a lot more to me than my job and where I live. Unfortunately I had a pretty conservative family, so I'm hesitant to talk about a lot of stuff going on in my life. They also don't really understand mental illness, so I can't really talk about that.

People say I'm a "late bloomer". I just look at my life and see wasted years.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Positive Progressive Points

After a week or so of dealing with some pretty heavy depression I've recently had several "Borderline triumphs." These are situations in which I can point out I effectively used my skills, and had a different outcome than I may have in a similar past situation.  Sticking with my penchant for bulleted lists, allow me to share;

  • When trying to several of my jeans and finding them to be too tight, I reminded myself that they had recently shrunk in a friend's dryer due to the heat being too high. I also found out that I am not the only person this has happened to.
Past:  I would have freaked. I would have convinced myself that I had gained so much weight I was outgrowing my wardrobe. I would not have even considered that jeans are very easy to shrink (or that the rest of my cloths fit just fine).

  • When talking to Rob he seemed distant and short. I was able to remind myself of several factors contributing to his aloof demeanor.
Past: I would have instantly blamed myself, or assumed he was mad/annoyed at me,

  • During group we talked about radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is acknowledging that things are as they are in that moment. It doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with the situation, but rather knowing that life isn't always perfect and order to change our reality we must first accept it.
Past: I admit I've been having a difficult time with not contacting him, but  I realized something tonight. I usually contact him either when I'm feeling really down and alone (and have little will power) or when I'm having a really good day and thing, "I'm on a roll today! Lemme give this a try!" But in the end I always end up feeling worse about myself. At this point if he wants to contact me he will. I'll probably send him a message on his birthday, but I'm going to try my best to to contact him anymore.
  • I went dancing on Monday and saw someone I had not seen in a while, and was thrown a bit off guard. I remained calm and used the skills I learned that week to get through.
Past: Cry, have a panic attack. I also would have posted several vague and passive aggressive messages on FB. I didn't do any of these things.

While these may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things, it is the little victories that eventually add up to noticeable changes and progress. Running a mile is something to be proud of, but much more impressive when it's revealed that that mile is actually part of ten. I know I still have a lot of progress to make and that I am more than likely going to stumble many times, but if I continue to work on my self validation then improvement will come much quicker and easier for me.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Things Suck and That's Okay

Yesterday I admitted that I'm not doing well, and doing so was really empowering for me. I often feel as though I need to put up a front. I feel that if I'm not acting as if everything is fine and I'm happy, then it's going to discredit any work I've done or progress I've made. Actually, it's more that I worry about what other people think. Unfortunately there are people who have me (or really anyone struggling with the same issues I do) under a microscope . They are there to point out my faults as if to say, "see, I told you she hasn't changed."

Admitting that things aren't great right now was such a load off of my shoulders. Because you know what? That's life. Life isn't rainbows and roses all of the time. What's important is that I am taking steps to improve my situation. Of course having a lot of stressors affects me differently than it would someone without BPD. I've noticed certain things I've done recently that to someone who doesn't understand, wouldn't see them as achievements.

  1. I have not walked out of my job yet: "Big deal," you're thinking right? Work sucks sometimes, but I'm an adult and need to deal with it. Well, that may be true, but for someone with BPD that's a lot more difficult. As I've talked a lot about in this blog, Borderlines operate in a a very black and white world. Employment is not immune to this. It is not uncommon for someone with BPD to jump from job to job, spontaneously quitting or sabotaging their employment at the first sign of stress. I am certainly a culprit of this. Right now I don't like my job at all, and there have been many times I've thought about walking out, but I haven't. There have been times in the past where that thought would have impulsively become action very easily. Showing the type of self-control I have been is a huge step for me and it shows a really good control of the impulsive nature of someone with Borderline.
  2. I cut myself, and I was okay with it: Wait what? Why would I be okay with cutting myself? Well, technically I'm not. I recognize I shouldn't have done it, but here is where the progress was made. People with BPD often struggle with judging themselves or "judging their judging," In the past after cutting I would go into a spiral of self-hate, guilt, judging; and then I would judge that self-hate, guilt, and judging. This time after I did it, I accepted it and I forgave myself. 
  3. I get into wise mind quicker. To someone who doesn't have or understand BPD it may be difficult to get why it's a note-worthy achievement that I was able to practice skills after an incident.  It's because for me getting back to "baseline" can be really difficult. I tend to "come down" slower, and if I'm even the tiniest bit escalated anything can set me off and catapult me back into melt down mode. It has been pointed out to me that I have an easier time getting into wise mind; a task that at one point was either unattainable or would literally take me days.
I know that people don't really understand why I'm proud of certain achievements. What they don't understand is that the world of a Borderline is a lot different than the world of a non-borderline. The best way I can explain it is this; walking is something that is easy and natural for people, unless you're someone in a wheel chair or even with a broken leg. Mental illness works the same way. Something that seems easy or common sense may not come so natural to a person who is battling with their brain. So it makes sense that a person who feels and experiences things at a frequency that's ten times more intense than the average person who struggle with something like impulsivity. So, like a person who walks again after years of being immobile, a person with BPD who achieves wise mind quickly is worthy of praise.

But really in the end it's about self-validation. There are always going to be people who just don't get it, and that's why being able to validate and praise myself is the biggest (and hardest) achievement of all.