*TW* Like Ripping Off a Bandage

I just want start this off with a disclaimer here because I am well aware that how BPD manifests for any borderliner could be very different than how it manifests for me. As a rule Borderliners tend to be very high functioning for day-to-day activities however we aren’t always able to maintain that functionality for extended periods of time. It’s our personal lives behind closed doors that are a chaotic mess. And it is only a matter of time before one spills into the other and we are not so functioning anymore. This might not be how another person struggles with BPD, is this is how I struggle with BPD.

For me, I sometimes have to work to get to functioning. It’s not easy, and it can take me weeks or months to finally get to a baseline of just doing the best that I can. Which is a minimal level.

This usually involves a lot of meds having to be administered in order to get myself functioning. If I’m lucky it will involve therapy of some kind at the same time as taking the meds but until recently it was either one or the other. There was no balance. There was no equilibrium. I either could take the meds and just do my best not to fall backwards. There was no support, not the way I needed it. Or I had the support and the meds weren’t really doing it for me.

Doing the meds cocktail, for anyone struggling with mental health issues, or mental health disorders, knows that it can be an exhausting, tiring, and frustrating journey. And it is a journey. It can take months and years; dozens of medicines and dosages, mixing anti-psychotic with anti-depressant, uppers with downers, meds to get you to sleep, meds to keep you asleep, meds to allow you to think, meds that stop you from thinking. Finally finding the mix that works is daunting. It took me three decades and finally a diagnosis of BPD to get the mix that is currently working for me. Although because I’m still struggling, I am still developing the right mix for me. It’s a work in progress.

So I have to choose therapy or meds, if I’m lucky, I’ll get at least one. And it will help me. Because I usually end up back at the bottom of life, I also feel abandoned, rejected, alone, and angry.

Except the anger would be directed at myself. I was a failure for not being able to magically fix myself when I was broken. I was to blame for not having the support I needed. I was to blame that the drugs didn’t work. I was to blame that therapy didn’t work. I was to blame for everything in my life going so wrong that I would end up feeling suicidal. And suicidal was where I stayed until I either tried, or I was able to find my way out.

Having BPD is tough. Every day feels like a battle. Every interaction feels like a wound that starts out bandaged but within moments can be ripped off by either telling me I’m too sensitive, that I need to get over it, that I am being difficult, that I am causing trouble by not letting anything go, that I am making matters worse for myself, or if I feel abandoned or rejected, and just that fast the bandage would be ripped off and my wounds would be exposed, and I would be open to pain and hurt and suffering. Again.

I want to be able to keep the bandage on long enough so that I can heal. I want to be healed enough that it won’t feel like I’m exposed and vulnerable. I want to feel like I can take what someone says or does to me that doesn’t send me spiralling out of control into bad and dark places.

I am fighting to keep my bandage on right now because I’m terrified of having my wounds exposed.

Dear life, please give me time to heal.

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*TW* Trying to Return to DBT

So the last several weeks have been hard for me. Last couple of months? Hmm. So more time has passed than I previously thought. I don’t really know if it’s my BPD, depression, or anxiety…actually that’s not true, I do know, it’s all of it. The whole mess of chaos and confusion that lives in my head and in my body, pinning me to the floor, or pushing me into a dark hole. One just egging the other on until I am a puddle on the floor.

The good news is, during this time I have been continuing to attend all of my weekly DBT Groups, and all of my weekly DBT Individual appointments. So I have a wealth of DBT information on backlog. I’ve wanted to start posting those again but I just didn’t have it in me. I thought I could squeeze them in but it didn’t work out that way.

Despite the backlog of posting any DBT skills, there were a few days the DBT stuff helped me with my stress, anxiety, and distress. Some days, I admit, DBT didn’t even enter my brain let alone my practice. And there were a few days I did think of it and it didn’t do squat. But there have been a few moments when it did help, a lot, and I think a lot of it can help others too. Especially the Distress Tolerance, which is unfortunately the most recent module taught, so it will be the last ones to be posted.

Either way, if it can help me, then it has a chance to help others too.

My goal is to now get back on track with posting the DBT stuff again, and in the midst of that, I am going to still try and climb my way back to my normal. “My normal”, for those of you wondering, is a place where I don’t wake up every day wanting to sink into a deep, dark place and be left completely alone. *TW* Maybe or maybe not, considering if I’ll wait for death, or if I’ll walk right towards it. And where every day feels like moving through tar, in body and mind.

I hope to get back on track within the next few days. Wish me luck 🙂

*TW* Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings are overwhelming and frustrating and it’s only made further confusing and frustrating by not necessarily actually wanting to die. At least not right now.

When the idea of wanting to die starts to float through my mind, I sort of let it drift in and out, testing the waters to see how serious I am about it, and if it will stick around or was it just a passing thought. Most of the time it just goes away on its own and nothing else happens.

But sometimes it doesn’t go away. Sometimes it sticks around and becomes more than just a floating thought, it becomes an idea, which is one step away from planning, and that is one small step from attempting. It starts to grow inside my mind and slowly I start to notice and consider all the passive ways that I could die, all of the ways that I wouldn’t be responsible for my life ending so I wouldn’t have to worry about how to do it, and I wouldn’t have to worry about hurting anyone left behind. I wouldn’t have to worry beforehand about people wondering what happened and why I did what I did, nor would any of my family or friends. It would be taken care of by fate and no one would be the wiser that it was what I wanted to happen all along. Of course this passive plan has its faults because there’s also a very good chance it might not happen, and if I’m feeling really low and looking for an out this can be kind of an inconvenience because I want things to end but I’m not yet willing to be the cause of it. In this case any attempts at dying would have to be by my hand so there are pluses and minuses to the passive route.

When I start to imagine the passive ways that my life could end, I know that this is a crossroads for me; I’ll either go down the one road to a much darker place where the passive route of death moves from a wish to a want and then it gets even darker and I actually move into planning or attempting, the other road I decide it’s not really what I want and look for help and ways to come out of the dark place.

Leaving the decision to fate always starts out so tempting, like when I’m standing on the sidewalk at the bus stop wondering if I tripped and fell into the street, would I be hit by a bus and killed? Or if someone knocked me into the street into the path of any oncoming vehicle, would I be killed? What if there was any kind of accident and I was killed? The ideas and fantasies, if you will, become quite fantastical. And in my defense, none of them are totally out of the realm of happening because weird things and accidents happen every day in every country in the world, and whose to say one of them won’t happen to me.

I also consider at this time the even more passive ways my life could end, like if I don’t take care of myself maybe nature will decide for me. I could have a heart attack, or a stroke, or I could get sick. This way however could potentially take months, or even years to happen, if they happen at all, so this route, though it’s relatively easy, is not the most effective way of them all.

What if I stop eating and moving, will my heart give out? What if I find something toxic and it “accidentally” gets ingested? What if I self-harm, will I strike the wrong spot and die? The ways to be killed and die are endless, and it’s amazing at what I start to imagine and hope for that will cause my life to end, yet will be little to no work on my part. It’s skewed thinking I know, but it’s hard not to entertain the thoughts when it feels like it’s the only way out.

I do have to question how much of these thoughts, particularly when they remain as thoughts and don’t move into planning or attempting, is about control. When I feel a lack of control about life in general, and my emotions and thoughts are all over the place, one way to take back that control is to know I have the authority to say when it all ends, even if it means taking my own life. It’s extreme but it gives me some sense that I have a say in what’s happening. When everything else feels like it is being done to me, and I am just stuck on the roller coaster forced to endure the constant ups and downs that wrench me from state to state, taking the reins on whether I live or not feels like I finally have a say. Suddenly the roller coaster ride, though still hard and frustrating, becomes a little less violent and overwhelming, knowing I can just stand up and jump out of my seat and end the ride permanently.

There are times when I wonder if my solitude is a means for me to slowly extract myself from other people’s lives so if something were to happen to me, and I were to die, whether by accident, nature or by my hand, it will hurt less. For them and for me. I can convince myself that because I haven’t talked to people in a while it will be easier to leave them, and I can believe that they feel the same. I can push people away, or keep them at arm’s length because it will be easier to leave if I have no one close to me. And I can tell myself that no one cares because they aren’t around. So I may as well be gone.

All of the things I would distance myself from; friends, family, work, interests, hobbies, and dreams, and then I will have nothing left to stay for. I can leave without feeling anything because everything I cared about is either gone or taken away. I would convince myself of all of this in order to make it easier.

It’s in this state of mind that the passive ways to die aren’t good enough or fast enough for me, and I actually start looking and considering how I want to end it. This is when I am in the darkest of places and this time it might be the last.

The uncertainty of life terrifies me enough that it paralyzes me. And the farther I am from all that I care about and love, the easier it becomes to end it for good. My reasons for living will be gone and there will be nothing to hold me here. Why would I stay here if no one is looking for me? Why would I stay if no one is seeing me? Why would I stay if no one is paying attention to me? Why would I stay if everyone else has better things to do? Why would I stay if my dreams are dead? Why would I stay if I have no interests or purpose? Why would I stay if I am alone?

I am not yet sure what will happen.

*TW* When It Feels Like the Only Way Out

One of the hardest things about BPD is the suicide ideation. It can come out of nowhere and for seemingly no good reason. But when it does happen it feels like it’s the only way out. It feels like all options have been eliminated and the list of choices has shrunk to one.

And it can turn on a dime. In the morning things might not be so bad but by the end of the day the feelings and thoughts become so loud and mean and they just get louder and louder until it feels like suicide is the only way out.

I always think something is wrong with me. I always feel broken when I start to think suicidal thoughts. I hate the bombardment that comes over me because it’s a torturous cycle.

My thoughts race through my mind at a million miles a minute, and they are relentless. My mind feels like it’s on overdrive and my emotions feel like they’re on a high speed roller coaster that won’t stop. It leaves me paralyzed, scared, and tired. The thoughts come at me…and I start to believe that I am unworthy and unloved…I start to believe that I am hopeless and helpless and alone…It feels like things will never get better and my life will be plagued by these evil thoughts forever. There is no respite from them.

My mind says…you are unloved…you are unlovable…you are unworthy…you will be left behind…you are a failure…there is nothing redeemable about you…you are flawed…you are broken…you are nothing.

And I wonder…What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do better? Why can’t I be better? Why do I try if all I will achieve is failure? Why do I constantly try to fit in and belong when I should know better, that I am not worthy of better, and I don’t deserve it.

I am manipulative. I am a bitch. I am undeserving and I am alone and that is one thing that I do deserve.

The thoughts pour over me like a waterfall and my emotions are along for the ride on this violent roller coaster trying not to cry or fall off but also wanting desperately for it to stop. My anxiety climbs to its limit pushing me into dissociation and numbness because it’s the only way I can cope with the bombardment.

I am to blame for all that is wrong with me and for all that I fall short on. I am a disgrace and a disappointment.

As these thoughts get louder and meaner I start to spiral down and it could be days or weeks, sometimes months, before it eventually lands me in a dark place of solitude where I start to build walls around me so I can try to keep all the pain away.

But somehow the thoughts and the pain find their way in and now I am in a dark enclosed space with them where they become deafening and I can’t stop crying but I feel powerless to stop them. I try to plug my ears but they work their way into my mind where I have no peace from it all.

And so I think of the only way out and the only way to silence all the mean thoughts and derogatory comments is to die. That dying is the only way to finally have some peace and quiet. Dying is the only way to stop hearing all the mean things, and it’s the only way to get rid of the pain, it’s the only way I can finally get ahead of the thoughts and shut them down for good.

Sometimes it’s not that I want to die as much as it’s about wanting all the thoughts and emotions that overwhelm me to stop, and death feels like that’s the only way it will happen.

Desperate thoughts lead to desperate actions and as much as I wish it didn’t need to go that far, I can’t help that it does. The pain is too great. The thoughts are too mean. The emotions are too much. There is only so much I can take. I hope to get past it without extreme measures but I can’t promise it won’t.

From the Outside

There are times when I feel that I don’t belong. I feel that I am on the outside of everything and I am by myself. And it’s no one else’s fault but my own. I take full responsibility for the lack of contribution, the lack of effort, and the repeated moments of self-imposed exclusion.

I’d like to say that it’s all because I have a hard time connecting with people but that’s not the whole reason. I do have a hard time connecting with people and letting people in, even if it’s just for a bit. I am terrified of being hurt, but I am also terrified of being thought a fraud, or a bore, or a bitch. Especially a bitch. Unfortunately this leads to me coming across as a bitch so it’s kind of a vicious circle.

I believe with such ferocity that people will not like me, on any level, that I shut myself off and away from most people, almost right from the moment I meet them. If certain circumstances are in play then I might warm up to someone and start talking but it’s very rare, and usually never goes beyond the initial meeting and conversation. I desperately want to be liked but somehow I hold even tighter the belief that no matter what I do, or what I say, no one will like me.

I believe that there is nothing redeemable about me. I believe that I am destined for a life spent trying to catch up and constantly being left behind. There are some in my life who I question why they are still here, or why they have stuck around. I feel on the outside even with them and I don’t know how to explain it, to them or to myself.

I feel like I am always just on the outside looking in to a place I want so badly to be a part of but somehow I always miss the door to get in. It’s most likely me shutting the door but it still hurts like hell to be standing on the other side all alone. I wonder if I will ever get in and stay in.

Will I ever feel welcomed? Will I ever feel like I belong?

Right now I hold myself accountable for all the things that I should have done and should be doing that I am not. I have no one to blame but myself. Sometimes when I’m looking on from the outside, I think, what have I done to deserve this? What makes me think I deserve this? What makes me think that it can be this good and stay that way?

I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I do deserve it. It’s a hard pill for me to swallow because I often bury my head in denial and dissociation. It often happens automatically, but when it’s not automatic, I am choosing not to deal with what needs to be done. I feel extremely ashamed of this behaviour because it seems childish and self-serving. And in a lot of ways, really,  it’s just mean.

I wish I wasn’t the person that I am. I wish I was better. I wish I did better. I wish that I was as kind and compassionate as a person is supposed to be. I wish I was responsible as an adult should be. I wish I could change but I’m not sure I can. I’m not even sure I want to, that’s the worst part, and only further confirms my belief that I should be on the outside. That I don’t deserve to be on the inside.

Only the good belong on the inside and I’m not good.

When the Bad Stuff is So Good

The last couple of weeks I have been struggling. I have turned to my destructive habits and tried to squash everything I was feeling, and quiet all of my noisy, bad thoughts. For the most part, this has been extremely successful. As it normally is. The bad stuff is so good at what it does. It’s so good at squashing all the emotions I feel overwhelmed by, and it’s extremely good at distracting me from the bombardment of negative thoughts that take me over, and take me down to a very lonely, dark place where despite how bad it is, I still feel somewhat comforted. 

I know that it’s the familiarity that comforts me. Well, I mean, my Wise Mind knows this. My emotional mind would argue that the familiarity is an effective mood quasher and thought silencer that allows me to function. Sort of. 

My Wise Mind believes that my Emotion Mind is not thinking clearly. And if I was in Wise Mind I would have to agree. But I’m not. I’m on Emotion Mind’s side and believe that Wise Mind is not giving the familiar stuff a fair chance. 

I feel very low, very helpless, and very hopeless. My world is shrinking day by day to a very small circle of one and a place where I only consider the bad things to help me when the emotions become too much. There’s a part of me that’s okay with this. Every day that I stay in this world of one I get farther and farther away from almost everything that doesn’t serve to keep me numb and isolated. It’s hard to want to be better when your mood is low. 

I’ve been stuck in this spot long enough now that the skills are not even on my radar. I have barely thought of them let alone applied them. If I didn’t have weekly appointments and lessons I highly doubt I would think of them at all. And my attendance, though uninterrupted thus far, has been barely for decorative purposes the last couple of weeks. I haven’t done any of the homework assigned, and I’ve even managed to stay mostly silent while in group. Not so much in my individual sessions though. Kind of hard to be silent when there are only two of you, and she’s asking you questions. 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for DBT of late, I actually was looking forward to my individual session this past week. I’ve now been low enough long enough that it’s affecting what I do or don’t do during the day. And it all mostly falls under what I’m not doing. But because ther are still slivers of the “not-so-low me” hanging around and that me wants to find a way out of this. The proper way. There are slivers of the me that wants out of this mood, and wants a bigger circle than just me, myself and I. That me is getting quieter and quieter with each passing day, and each time I do the bad things that help me avoid feeling or thinking anything. 

I hate what my thoughts do to me. I hate that I feel worthless and useless. I hate that I feel helpless and hopeless. I hate that I feel alone and lonely. I hate that I feel like a nobody and I often wonder why I’m even here. I hate thinking. I hate thinking these thoughts. I hate that I believe them to be true. 

In my individual session my DBT coach challenged these thoughts, and if they are true. At first, this felt like a lost cause for her because I was pretty sure they were. But she really challenged them. She challenged them enough that I not only started to doubt it myself, but I also caught a glimpse of being able to actually handle my thoughts and being able to challenge these so-called “truths” myself. It was an odd feeling. Very odd. Too odd, in fact. And that night I did the bad thing instead, I was scared of this odd feeling and what it could mean, so I squashed it. 

Probably not what my DBT coach had in mind, but I couldn’t help it. 

I feel very lost. I’m not sure if I want out of this. I am so tired. I’m tired of the bad thoughts. I’m tired of the bad things. And I’m tired of the cycle that picks me up and drops me down, over and over again. 

Is it better to just stay here? Maybe. Maybe staying low is better. You can’t be dropped when you’re already at the bottom. 

How Can I DBT My Way Out of This?

Today is a really hard day for me. I feel sad and somewhat defeated and very much like I want to cocoon myself in a blanket and stay there for the duration of the day. I’m not sure if I’ll want to come out by the end of the day. I’d have to let you know then.

As I felt the sadness envelope me I immediately felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want to feel sad. I didnt want to feel sad symptoms. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to feel the ache in my throat and my chest. I didn’t want any of it. I wanted to avoid it all. My first response is to suppress it and avoid it. I wanted to avoid it in my cocoon. But I knew that would probably lead to further rumination and potentially turning to my destructive behaviours when the sadness got to be too much and the cocoon wasn’t providing the suppression I had hoped for. I felt a little lost and unsure. What should I do?

Should I lay here and wallow in the sadness and just let whatever happens, happen, no matter how bad it could get? Should I lay here and wait for the thoughts to get worse and worse until the feelings become so unbearable that I will do whatever it takes to not feel the sadness, or anything else?

As I stared up at the ceiling feeling like nothing really mattered and that I would somehow end up screwed in the end regardless. I thought of DBT. It passed through my thoughts for a brief moment as if to remind me that it was there, but I almost immediately thought I don’t know if I want to “skill” myself out of this. I’m not entirely certain that I don’t want to just lie here and wallow in my sadness.

But it was starting to get hard. Really hard. It was starting to grip my body and my mind. And I wasn’t feeling so cool about this. Despite not being certain I wanted to “feel better”, I didn’t want to feel this either. The sadness was gripping me tightly, and I don’t like it. I feel stuck.

The DBT crept back in, and poked me again. “You have skills you can use.” But which one. Which skill could I use?

The truth is, when I first thought of using a DBT skill, I didn’t think of what skill I could use to help me work through this. I thought of what skill could help me suppress and avoid this emotion. I asked myself, how I could DBT my way out of this emotion?

So then I immediately thought of Opposite Action. Yes. Opposite Action would be good right? I want to hide so I should go out. I did actually want to go out but the pull to the cocoon was winning the tug of war. So this could work. Perfect. Problem solved.

Except…my problem wasn’t solved. Something about what I was doing felt wrong. It almost felt too easy. I sat up on the couch and thought of going out but then minutes later I laid back down again. No, I didn’t want to go out, I feel too sad.

I sat up again, but Opposite Action will help. Yes, do it, go out, be opposite. I will be skillful and do Opposite Action. But then I laid back down again. I didn’t want to do Opposite Action. I didn’t want to go out. I wanted to lay here. Didn’t I? I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I wanted.

I wondered if this was a good time to call my DBT coach/therapist for some help. Maybe she would know what skill I could use to help me avoid this unpleasant feeling of not knowing what I wanted to do, and maybe she could offer me some advice on how to DBT my way out of this.

So I texted her, and she was available to talk. I told her I felt sad. And I had no idea why. And that I wanted to go out but I also wanted to cocoon on the couch. I told her how I had considered Opposite Action but that something felt wrong using it. And that’s when she pointed out that it probably felt a misfit because Opposite Action is used when the emotion doesn’t fit the facts, or when acting on the emotion will be ineffective.

Hmm. Interesting.

She told me that another skill I could try is “Self-Soothing”. Just let myself sit with the emotion, and maybe have a hot cup of tea, or another “self-soothing” tip that would be taking care of myself. When she said that I immediately felt resistance. I didn’t want to sit with the emotion. It was already making me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to sit and have a cup of tea with it. But she did make a good point. I hadn’t realized until she said it that I was actually mis-using the skills. I was using them to avoid feeling anything.

When she told me that there were a few skills I could mix and match with to get through this, I felt relieved. She told me I could try self-soothing for a bit, and then maybe do Opposite Action, and come back and do self-soothing, or distraction, or the TIP skills. I suddenly felt like maybe I could do this.

I was honest with her that I didn’t want to sit with the emotion because I was afraid it would take me over and take me down. She understood, and that was why she suggested maybe just trying the self-soothe and see how it goes. And then maybe try a different skill like Distraction or even Opposite Action after. I felt a little more in control by the time we said good bye.

And when I got off the phone, I felt afraid. I was still concerned that self-soothing would turn bad, and without another thought, before I could do anything else, I started crying. My throat ached and my chest tightened and the tears fell. I almost tried to stop it but instead I decided to just see what happens. I felt comforted knowing I could call her back if i needed to, and so I just let the tears fall.

I don’t know how long I cried for, it felt like only 5 or 10 minutes but then the tears slowly stopped and the ache in my throat eased. I don’t know why I cried. I tried to think of what was making me sad but it didn’t come to me. It felt just out of reach but whatever it was it made me cry. How it didn’t occur to me that it really didn’t matter what the cause was, I don’t know. Because all that I know is that I was sad, and so I cried.

And I hadn’t even had the chance to plug in the kettle.

But you know what? I felt a little better. Don’t get me wrong, I still felt sad, and I still felt a little low, but I also felt like I would be okay for now. I felt like now I could go out. Now I wanted to go out, not as Opposite Action but because I wanted to go out. I don’t know if when I get out I may want to turn around and come back home. I may come back home and have the sadness still sitting there waiting for me, but in those few minutes of crying I had at least released some of the pressure.

When I had asked my DBT coach/therapist about picking apart the sadness to see why I was feeling the way I did, I thought it would help. She said that even if I picked it apart I would still feel sad. And sometimes it’s not about the why, sometimes it’s about what is right in front of you that needs to be addressed. Instead of trying to sort out the why, why not try just dealing with the tears pooling in my eyes, and making my throat hurt. Why not let the moment just do what it needs to, and then we’ll see about picking it apart.

It was a surprising moment. I’m not used to this. I’m not used to letting the moment be and not picking everything apart to understand why. I’m not used to just letting myself cry without knowing why. I needed a reason to cry, didn’t I? I needed a reason to justify my tears, didn’t I?

Apparently not. Because I did cry, and I don’t know why, and for the moment, I feel better.

I guess sometimes it’s better to not know why. Sometimes the sadness just needs a release, and the only thing to do is release it. I hope I remember that the next time.

Thank you to my DBT coach/therapist, for being there, and for showing me that I actually already knew what I needed to do.