Emotions still through the roof – go away, NYE

Can it just be 2014 already? Without the whole “WOOOOOOO, welcome to the new year, life is something wonderful to look forward to!!!” ceremony and whatnot? Because it’s not. Wonderful, I mean. Not for me, not right now, not very often of late.

On the one hand, learning about/trying to understand a BPD diagnosis can feel like a step in the positive direction. When things are going relatively okay, you get a fleeting sense of control and purpose: “Maybe things have been horrible for a reason, and I’ve learned and grown in ways that have helped me, and now things are looking up, etc.”

On the other hand (my current “hand”), recognizing BPD for what it is – a vicious, cyclical mood disorder – can offer a very jaundiced perspective of a situation about which it is already easy to be cynical: “Wow, this is happening yet again, just like it always has, and (at this rate) just like it always will because THIS is evidently my enduring identity.”

I hate being wrong. Like, really hate it. I am the annoying, Hermione Granger smart-ass who went to ridiculous lengths to learn, know, memorize and recite all the crap that made me feel “right” in school. I hate feeling wrong so much, that I frequently insist upon being “right” at the expense of being happy/successful/healthier. How stupid is that?? Yet I feel myself trapped in it even now. I feel like I’d be a pathetic, delusional chump if I let myself believe things can get better. Or that I’m not always going to suffer like this. Or that I can change my life by resisting this exact thought pattern.

Even as I’m writing this I know that my left-brain logicizing (?? too lazy to google whether that’s actually a word) is just a defense mechanism, a wall around my right-brain emotional self, which is still going nuts over the holidays. Expectations are everywhere and involved in virtually every interaction I have lately. And we all know that expectations, for a borderline, are like grenades: the longer you hold onto them, the more likely they are to explode in your face.

Tomorrow evening is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow evening marks an occasion that, for much of this year, I honestly didn’t think I would live to see. Tomorrow I have to deal with that as well as my roommate who blabbed to my parents about my BPD, my suicidal thoughts, everything. We haven’t spoken in days and I’ve been crashing at my parents/visiting a friend. But a confrontation is going to happen eventually and what better way to ring in 2014 than with yet another blow-out over my constantly injured feelings?  :-S  Sigh.

Hope those reading this are faring better and having more auspicious premonitions for the new year….

oh p.s. … how sad is it that I mostly just want it to be 2014 so I can find out how Sherlock faked his death? Seriously.sherlock-season-2

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Flatlining

*Warning: Triggering as fuck. Do not read if you are in a not-so-great place either.*

I really should have seen this coming.

The Christmas/New Year combo is a double-whammy for me and always has been. Both are dates when you really can’t help but reflect on where you are vs. where you’ve been vs. where you wanted to be at this time of year. Both are dates that involve an absolute overload of warm fuzzy feelings and happy families and fond memories and joyful hopes.

Unless you don’t have those things. Then the whole fucking season is a reminder of why you should just give up and save yourself – and others – a lifetime of pointless struggle.

I was feeling sort of hopeful about my recent therapy (and therapist). Then our last pre-holiday session was an absolute disaster. As in, “Let me talk about myself for an hour and not even realize I’m triggering/upsetting you and not helping AT ALL by bringing any of this up.” For me, strong emotions always = numbness and shutdown now, so I was seriously dissociated by the end of the day. It got worse and worse until I flipped out on my roommate, smashed my phone, trashed our house (smashed pictures, dishes, etc.) and left for my parents’ on Christmas Eve feeling like I usually do after I let myself feel any of the pain and anger I usually numb myself to: a monster that needs to be put down. Got to my parents to find my roommate had, in a state of terror, told them everything. Told them they needed to monitor me because I seemed suicidal. Which I was. But I was furious at him for saying anything and I still am and I can’t help it.

What the fuck is wrong with me? It’s all I can think when things are like this. I get back into the cycle of questioning why I’m like this, why it never stops, why I keep thinking anything will change… the answer, deep in my gut, is always the same: it’s you, you’re the problem, you will never change, and you’ll be saving everyone so much pain if you just end it.

I feel like such a horrible thing, such an ugly shell of a human being, and like the grain of humanity that I cling to is being warped and twisted with each passing year into something I can’t live with. I’m right back where I started – except not, because I feel lower than ever knowing how many times I’ve felt like this and how each time I thought “well things can only go up from here.” It turns out I was wrong every single time.

I don’t feel worthy of anyone’s love or attention and I can’t stand the infuriating, pathetic, childish BPD tendencies I have to demand both when I know no one in their right mind should give me either. The thought of hanging on, for years and years, a burden on my loved ones and the hospital/health care system with my increasingly dramatic, self-harming attempts for attention makes me feel sure I would be doing the right thing by giving up now.

Why do we bother when we feel like this so often? Where is the upside of any of this? I can’t see it even though I know parts of me really want to and have tried so hard in the past.

Meet Your Mind

Recently, I posted about a “holy crap” moment I had in therapy. Specifically, part of me – the main part of me, in fact – finally got it. My uncontrollable reactions to (real or perceived) abandonment are the result of abandoning myself. Invalidating, neglecting, suppressing, and disliking myself. It’s kind of a big deal.

Note that this is a perfect example of why therapy is 100%, no exceptions, totally and utterly necessary in the treatment of BPD. It’s not one of these things that you can read enough about, think enough about, write and feel and draw enough about and then deal with it yourself. You’ve done that for years, and this is how it’s gone, i.e., terribly. You need perspective. Why not from friends or family? Well, gee golly, let’s look at the nature of BPD and how things usually go when you get into the nitty-gritty close feelings with friends and/or family. No. Too close, too personal, too much potential for a blow-out. A therapist keeps things distant and professional enough to be tolerable and controlled, but is ideally close enough to be honest and helpful.

What I’m about to post about is kind of more “holy crap” realization stuff. It’s not necessarily specific to BPD either. It applies to every person on this planet and the way our brains work.

brain-mapping

Here is what I’m learning and understanding.

We all have “parts” of ourselves. Maybe some parts are mean, scary, angry, and other are popular, funny, witty, confident. Parts come to the forefront and parts recede to the background when not in use. That’s normal. That’s the brain. For most people, those are what we know as “moods.” As our control group, let’s use “Bob” as our standard, relatively well-adjusted person. Bob has happy moods, sad moods, good moods, bad moods. To an extent, they determine his perspective and behaviour; e.g. when he’s in a bad mood, things look blacker and his behaviour is grumpy. But the key thing is: Bob’s moods have a direct and immediate cause. A mood comes into his frontal lobe because something within his awareness and control made it come forward. Someone cuts him off in traffic, and here comes an angry mood. Later his brain carries out the logical thought process that it’s just traffic, it doesn’t matter and it does not affect his long-term wellbeing. So the brain releases that mood and it goes on its merry way, returning him to whatever stable state is his “normal.”

Now let’s consider Cat (I know, I’m so creative haha). Cat is our BPD representative. Cat does not have moods. Cat has disaster pockets. Why? Because Cat’s brain is divided by stone walls into its different parts, whereas Bob’s was a flexible and well-tuned system of connections and receptors that communicate well with each other. Cat’s brain has cut itself up into little parts, so to speak, because that was how it coped, for years, with difficult feelings/states. Embarrassment? That goes into a locked box. Grief? That’s going into a locked box. Traumatized by some event? That’s definitely going straight into a locked box. This is how the brain has “coped” with things it could not handle at the times that they happened. Good job, brain, you did help Cat get through years of difficult circumstances. You helped her not have to deal with things that felt totally overwhelming. HOWEVER… they’re still there, and they’re never ever going away because being locked up is keeping them just as present and just as strong as they were when they first happened. And that’s killing Cat from the inside. A divided self is not an okay self. And brains like this are divided into parts we like, parts we hate, parts we don’t get, parts we’re disgusted by. Is it any wonder that borderlines often feel like they have no identity or that they’re made up of tons of drastically different people?

The rest of the brain doesn’t communicate with the hurt parts. They are cut off. All they know is the pain they contain. They don’t have adult logic. They don’t have DBT skills. And when they get triggered – WHAM: Cat is right in the midst of them, however powerless, however young, however overwhelmed she was when that original feeling occurred. And unlike a mood, not only do these pockets come without a direct cause (at least not one that makes any sense to anyone who does not know Cat’s intricate system of traumatized brain parts), they also don’t leave naturally. They don’t know how. Cat falls in them and can’t get out because they are so sick of being locked away that they don’t want to leave.

Does any of this strike a chord with you guys the way it hit me?

Wow. The more I learn about brain anatomy/chemistry/composition, the more it is helping me understand every aspect of BPD and its treatment.

Your brain needs to heal itself. No amount of outside help is going to reach the little pockets of pain, trauma, etc. locked deep inside. You have to go in there and open them, and let the healing in. This is the direction that my therapy is now taking. The DBT is a crucial part of it, because it’s the toolbox that you go to work with. I need to have my DBT skills down pat, because I’m going to have to use them and teach them to the parts of my brain that hasn’t learned them yet.

This helps me accept a lot more than I could even one week ago. I feel like the knowledge that this will never be fixed from the outside is sinking down, down, down through layers of my brain and myself, and is now reaching the depths that mean I finally get it. Even if someone wanted to, they cannot “force” my mind open. They cannot communicate with inner me. That’s like saying they should learn things for me so that I understand them. It just doesn’t make sense.

My therapist told me that once you start this process of peeking in the boxes and healing what’s inside, you will be amazed how quickly the healing process picks up speed. I don’t want to get too hopeful, but I can see why. Every day it’s like new stuff is falling into place, making the whole picture clearer and clearer. Things that don’t even seem related are starting to be affected by what I’m learning. For example, by focusing on this – my mind, my parts, my inner voices and thoughts and boxes (not that I focus too much on those dark boxes yet, that’s pretty advanced and terrifying stuff) – I have inadvertently been a tiny, tiny bit better in dealing with people I normally hate/resent for not caring or helping enough. I didn’t have to try and work at the relationship between us – I just had to start looking into my own mind.

Does this sound too good to be true? Or too optimistic? I guess it kind of is. I mean as I said, I haven’t gotten into the really rough stuff yet. Confronting the locked boxes and doing the necessary therapy to heal them is going to be a whole different story. But just learning more about what the fuck is actually going on in my mind is kind of cool and oh yeah, incredibly validating, because hello self  – I AM NOT CRAZY. That’s kind of been the best realization thus far. I hope it doesn’t totally evaporate when I hit a rough patch (it will, but I hope it comes back). My brain has been doing an astoundingly clever and difficult – albeit misguided – job: keeping me sane in the midst of insane circumstances. I can see why it did this and how it designed this process and that means…. I am not crazy. Holy crap!

Cat xxxx