Sunday, November 29, 2015

Stinkin' Thinkin'

There are so many thoughts running through my head right now. Some of them make sense, some of them don't, and all of them keep overlapping. I'm trying to be up front about how I feel, and describing my symptoms as they are happening. A lot of the time I will project my anger, or isolate my feelings. I think being about to cut through emotion mind and rationally explain what my head is going through shows a lot of progress and self-awareness.

My thinking tends to be really distorted sometimes; which makes sense since cognitive distortions are a big part of BPD. Black and white thinking is a major trait I deal with and it's so ingrained in me that sometimes I don't realize it's happening or I will deny it. Either everything is all good or all bad, either people like me or they hate me. There's no in between. If there is a situation where everything is great except for one thing my black and white thinking will tend to be in the black because of my low self-worth and filtering (which I'll talk about in a bit). This type of thinking tends to lead to other cognitive distortions. The following is a great link that describes perfectly a lot of my thinking patterns

15 Common Cognitive Distortions

The times that cognitive distortion affect me the most is when it comes to people, especially if that person is my FP (favorite person). People with BPD tend to do what is called "splitting." We see people as either "good" or "bad," and there is no in between. Understanding splitting is a huge factor in understanding BPD. It's really difficult for me to understand that a person can be angry at me and still care about me. My low self-esteem and self-worth often has me jumping to conclusions about how people feel about me. Someone isn't responding to a message? They must be angry. Because of my intense fear of rejection and abandonment (real or imagined) I react with frantic efforts to avoid or make things better. Unfortunately this leads to a chain of events that can often end up suffocating me. The closer I am to someone, the more I have them on that "Borderline pedestal" the worse it is. It sorta goes like this.

"Someone isn't responding? They must be angry. Better message them insensitively. Crap, they still aren't replying. Now they are probably mad I was so annoying. Goddess, I'm so stupid. Why did I do that? I had one chance to show them I'm not a crazy person. Okay, I can fix this. Let me just message them again and apologize. Oh fuck, they still aren't responding. Now I feel super guilty."

And so on until I'm so deep into emotion mind that it it literally feels like nothing is going to be able to pull me out. It becomes really difficult for me to think rationally and the only thing that will help is seeing that person or them giving me a definitive, "I'm not made." Even that doesn't help. Sometimes I need more, like for them to compliment me, spend time with me, hug me, say something nice to me. Then I feel relief, but it's always only for a little bit. 

Another form of cognitive thinking I commonly do is filtering, "We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted."

Memory loss and distortion is something a lot of people with BPD struggle with. Emotion mind and especially disassociation can cause slight amnesia and/or memory loss. Sometimes I can't even remember what is real and what is made up in my head. This can be extremely frustrating for me in my daily life. I have trouble recalling past medical history at the doctors, trying to find something I lost often results in me having a melt down, and I almost always end up feeling incredibly stupid.

The other day I went into town to have some time to myself. I ended up losing my train/bus pass, and basically panicked because I couldn't get on the train. Often when stuff  like that happens the blinders will go up, I'll freeze with panic, and start catastrophizing (another cognitive distortion). In my mind if I didn't get a new pass before I went home then my whole life was going to be ruined. I wasn't being "dramatic", this was literally what my brain thought was rational thinking. I managed to fight through the fact I was feeling completely mortified, and the emotion mind enough to reach out ask people for help. Since I don't have a whole lot of friends in the area (most of my friends live across or out of state), there's usually a core group of people I ask. One of these people has been GL. I feel incredibly guilty asking him for help because it always happens after he's told me he's busy or can't hang out so I fear he will think I am doing it on purpose. 

He ends up being the one to help me, but not before standing in front of me in public and reprimanding me. He told me he didn't understand why this kept happening, that it was the third time in 8 months he's had to help me with transportation issues and most people he knows it happens maybe three times in their life time. Imagine someone like me, who already has such low self worth; who already feels incredibly guilty and how I felt when that happened. Then combine the fact that I react very badly to what I perceive as public scolding with how I was already feeling with the fact GL is one of my FP's. Never mind that despite what he said, he still helped me. Never mind that his natural way of talking can often come off as harsh. I immediately started filtering, generalizing, black and white thinking.

Another thing that happened was a react very very badly to a comment a friend made about my favorite football team. It may sound silly, but I have a lot of weird triggers surrounding football and a certain team's fan base. I made a post explaining, but will talk about it here as well.


My main issue with fans of team A started back in Middle School. I was already someone who was bullied (and don't say, "everyone is bullied in Middle School." No, they aren't, and even if they were it doesn't make it okay.), but during the weeks leading up to the 1997 Super Bowl it was even worse. For those two weeks I had kids make fun of me, shout at me in the halls; I even had food thrown at me in the cafeteria. I would go home every single day crying and scared to go to school the following. All because I wasn't rooting for team A. I was severely bullied for not going along with he crowd (my favorite team was the opposing team). Being someone that had a lot of shit to deal with through out middle and previously in elementary (death of my grandmother, parents going bankrupt, moving, parents divorce), I was a very fragile kid. This was around the time my disorder more than likely started developing. Therefor this experience is permanently etched in my head as a traumatic one. I know #notallfans, but my disorder doesn't know that; and I think that's what people aren't getting. When I am in emotion mind or disassociated I do not see fans of team A as individual people. I see them as a collective being, and treat them as such. No, it's not just something I can turn off. This isn't me making an excuse in order to say the things I say, it's really how my brain works. My Mom and Sister are team A fans. Do you really think I'd say the things I say on here if I was sitting in the living room with them and my nephew?
More recently I've associated team A to SG. Their QB is pretty much his hero, and he's about as big of I'm not going to go into the whole story about what's recently happened with SG (you can probably figure it out), but I will say that it's hard for me to see team A win and not think of SG being happy. My disorder doesn't like that because SG hurt her multiple times, and so it wants him to hurt just as much as I am.
Sometimes if something is bothering me, and it gets to be too much I will use projection combined with overgeneralization. I will go back to the time in middle school, Project my anger and fear onto current fans and assume that they feel how I do. In my mind I am "getting to them first" before they can hurt me. The problem with using these defense mechanisms is at the end I turn that anger inward. People with BPD already feel deep shame almost all the time, so this will cause me to feel it even more so.Trust me when I say there's is no amount of anger, shame, guilt, and disappointment that you can have in me that equals the amount I have in myself sometimes. When my pain and anger gets really extreme I go into what's called, "disassociation." Disassociation has different "levels", but it's basically an out of body experience. One article describes it as,
I simply go to a void in my mind, a place of ultimate nothingness. Only I exist there–a silent blackness surrounds me. Once there, I basically operate on auto-pilot. I feel like I’m watching a movie. I’m aware of what I’m doing, but it seems distant. I later can not recall what happened.
This is probably the closest someone has come to describing what disassociation is like for me. When I'm in that "auto-pilot" I forget about individual people (as mentioned before), sometimes I can pull myself back just enough to block certain people from seeing my status, but then I'm pulled right back in. There's part of me, as mentioned in the quote, that is aware but it's like I'm watching someone else do it. As far as the last part, I do not have complete amnesia, but I do have memory loss. It's actually quite common for someone with BPD to experience memory issues. It's also very frustrating, since it often happens in emotion mind.
So when my friend made that comment it basically triggered everything above, and I went into a blind rage. The only thing that would stop it was trying to hurt him the same way he hurt me. Of course all that ended up happening was I felt embarrassed and shitty about myself.
Despite all of this, I am proud of myself. I am proud that I am so self-aware, and I am proud that I have no acted on my thoughts. My feelings are valid and I have a right to them, it's what I do with them that matters. Often people expect big changes in progress that they don't notice the little things. I may have suicidal ideation, but I don't act on it. That's an improvement. I may post something super passive aggressive, but I delete it. That's an improvement. I may lash out at someone, but I apologize. That's an improvement. Unfortunately all people see are the ideation, the lashing out, the passive aggressiveness. That's why I always say the only person who can judge my progress is me. Imagine the following scenario.

A man is driving and his car breaks down. He starts walking for miles and get attacked by a bear. He manages to get away from the bear and continues walking. He meets a man who mugs him and leaves him bloody. Finally after more miles of walking he comes to a gas station. He walks in; clothes ripped, dirty, bloody, mumbling, and out of breath. The has station attendant just sees what looks like a crazy homeless person. He doesn't know what he's been through the past 20+ miles before. He only knows the man from that point. Only the man truly knows his journey and everything he's overcome.

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