borderline personality disorder · dating

Wow I got through that.

Dear Friends,

I have just realised I have put my DBT skills to epic use. I kind of salvaged something with new guy after he’d been busy from our first date, dropping frequency of texting me. I told him straight and tried not to panic at work, whatever the outcome, I’m done with bad relationships. I want something good and I will face all the rejection and pain in the world to make sure I don’t end up in something unhealthy or that doesn’t make me feel good/secure.

He upped his messaging since then. But then we had a break this morning and something just hasn’t felt right since we met. I couldn’t put my finger on it, maybe that he didn’t mention date 2, the ‘busy’ thing, when I’ve been super busy too. Hell, I went to my suicide prevention shift today after working 7 days straight and still had time to check my messages between conversations. 

Maybe I felt impulsive, maybe my gut was screaming at me but I checked his profile. It’s changed. He’s dropped a picture and changed some of the content. Either way, sometime between us talking he’s gone ahead and carried on fishing, enough to change his profile. I’ve sat a little stunned, it’s been over 2 months. 2 months of me swooning over him. It’s been a while since I’ve liked someone from the moment I’ve met them, not having to convince myself.

I even didn’t call ex-love back when he asked me to to make sure I’d be loyal and honest to getting to know this person. Not that he would have crossed any boundaries, I just wanted to keep a distance. Dating is hard without BPD, dating with BPD is a whole other ballgame.

Stunned I had to think on the spot (literally 10 minutes ago) to not do something impulsive. I call my sister, a videocall, she can’t really talk but it gets me out of my head and in immediate social contact with someone. I message my friend, tell her what’s happened. She says sorry. I use DEAR MAN on a word doc (can’t believe I had some headspace to do that) and write how I’m going to confront him with it. I say I know I shouldn’t have checked but I did and that if he wasn’t interested he could have just said and I wouldn’t have minded at all.

I am on my time of the month and was already in a fragile state of mind out of physical exhaustion so I have cried a little. More out of the harshness of it all. I don’t need to force someone to talk to me. Really, it’s fine if you don’t feel a spark, it’s normal, it happens, just don’t go behind my back looking for more. This ended before it could begin.

I am currently listening to sad songs and wondering how I’m going to regulate enough in the next hour so that I can be OK at work tomorrow where I will be super swamped and most likely still in physical pain. BUT there has been no impulsive argument, self harming, breaking stuff, I’m actually using this as an outlet and it’s already helping.

xx

Much love and I hope you are all well.

 

 

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borderline personality disorder · bpd · dating

First Date avec New Guy and today’s DBT skills practice.

So I had my date with New guy. It went well! I was nervous but nowhere near as bad as I used to be. I think talking for so long beforehand kinda deadens the nerves and I was just left with relief at finally being able to meet the person I’ve been speaking to all this time.

I think I’m slowly learning to brush off what people around me might be thinking and just be more mindful of enjoying the company. I was attracted to him as soon as I saw him so that was a plus and for some reason it just didn’t feel awkward talking to him.  The conversation came as easily as it does on our messages. 

We went for a coffee – he paid which was nice, (relax, I wasn’t expecting it). And then we head off to a steak place of my choice where they do tasty burgers and obviously – steaks. We got to talking a little more about our families and he told me a more about his upbringing which isn’t the traditional ‘mum and dad’ household either – it felt good to be able to relate to that in my own way.

The end of the date was of course followed by fear of when I’d hear from him and what he made of it/me, even though he had somewhat eased the tension by telling me he’d message me when he got home  — only he didn’t. So this morning while trying not to frantically check my mobile and to calm my anxiety ridden brain – I remembered my session from 2 weeks ago where I was complaining to my psych about my fear of abandonment and how it stops me from casually reaching out so I made it a point to put myself out there and letting him know I had a good time. It worked in my favour as he got back apologising for not messaging me last night and that he had had fun too.

Result.

We are still messaging which now feels a routine part of my life already. Though I am wary of how I want things to speed up and become more intense a lot quicker than he does. The only reason I haven’t bailed or said anything about it to him is because I’m now fully aware that this isn’t healthy and it’s just my attachment insecurities coming in to play. I want this to develop organically as it has done so far, as all of my healthy friendships have done.

On another note, I decided to build some Mastery today (DBT skill of doing one thing each day to build a sense of accomplishment — usually this means something difficult but possible) so I went to work on a snowy Sunday! I had agreed to go to in for overtime and the extra money will come in handy when I get paid next week so it works in my favour. Though I was a little upset I wasn’t staying in in this crappy weather. 

I also used the ‘Contributing’ skill from the ACCEPTS set of skills in Distress Tolerance today. Strictly speaking, these are for when you’re in an emotionally charged situation/crisis situation but I was just a little fed up on the way home and I like using the ‘Contributing’ skill because it helps others and it makes me feel good as a result. So I got some stuff for mum on my way home.

I am going to use the ‘A’ in ABC skills from the Emotion Regulation module after this post. This stands for ‘Accumulate’ – Accumulate positive emotions both in the short-term and in the long-term. It tells you to do 1 thing each day from a ‘Pleasant events list’ (yes please, I’ll do a 100 if you recommend it Marsha) so I will be watching a movie my friend recommended to me and chill in my warm, snuggly blankets.

Today, for the first time in a year of sessions I am cancelling therapy at the last minute because I got confused on Friday (I couldn’t see an upcoming appointment booked for me so thought it may not be happening) and he told me I should give 7 days’ notice. I’ve always given notice as often as I could. It’s only by mistake – maybe I’m feeling criticised? I don’t know but I thought he wouldn’t have to say that, maybe he’s just clarifying things or thinks I don’t know. Anyway, I’ll have to accept it and assume the best not the worst. 

Tomorrow will be another day back in the office, I will probably be super grumpy in the morning as per usual with this weather but maybe I can plan ahead for that now that I seem to be on a DBT roll.

Catch up with you all soon and I hope you are enjoying your Sunday, whatever it is you choose to do! x

 

borderline personality disorder · bpd · mental health

Anorexia, sexual abuse and emotional shutting down.

  • Please note I talk about anorexia, sexual abuse, childhood sexual abuse in this post.

There is a lot of talk when it comes to BPD about emotional dysregulation and of the extreme reactions, the intense knee-jerk reactions that seemingly come out of nowhere and cause devastating consequences in their wake. But there is also another side to the story (isn’t there always?) and that is the emotional shutting down that one can also experience. I’m assuming this isn’t only for individuals with BPD or if it even has anything to do with BPD. I do know this can happen to individuals who have sexual abuse in their past history though. 

This is just as dangerous and life threatening as it’s more widely talked about counterpart of impulsive behaviours. When an individual shuts down emotionally, they are essentially stuffing down emotions that could otherwise serve as warning bells to take care of themselves physically and mentally. This is the spectrum that anorexia would fall under. When I was going through my phase – anorexia served the purpose of ‘stuffing’ my emotions in. It helped me control the wave of anxiety, fear, instability in my work life, my feelings around feeling out of place and abnormal in the world all by refusing to eat. And just like other forms of self-harm, to some extent it worked. It was a masterplan of shutting myself off, in meditation circles ‘disconnecting’ my mind from itself, from my body, from my emotions, all of which mindfulness connects you to.

Sexual abuse also falls under this. When I look back to the rape in 2015 it was so blurry to me back then that it was indeed rape because I can be so good at keeping my emotions in. In my childhood, I didn’t listen to my inner emotions of how wrong it felt, of sadness, of anger, of shame, I hid it all inside because I was so afraid and unsupported. This means not only did I learn that I can keep these emotions in, but, I also felt that I should keep my emotions in. This set the stage for me to ‘keep it all in’ growing up as well so if someone abused me or pushed my sexual boundaries I would just mentally and emotionally shut down.

I want to add what I feel is another important factor here; it wasn’t just that I had learnt to ‘keep it all in’ but that I also felt unsupported. Support and having a support system as a child and as an adult is so important. I absolutely believe that if I had had that support in my childhood, I would have still been afraid to talk about what happened to me but with a compassionate conversation and the ‘OK’ from a safe adult I would have told them what was happening to me. As it turns out, I’ve made peace with the fact that that didn’t happen for me. (Please adults, be that person for any child in your life).

The ability to shut off has even worked out to be a positive in one area of life – (there is a positive, oddly enough) – in emergency situations where an ambulance needs to be called/someone is in danger I am able to completely ignore any panic and fear and react straight away. It has quite literally saved lives in my family. I wonder whether this is how those who work in emergency services get through the day. 

The only thing I have come across so far that addresses this kind of emotional shutting off and actually teaches you to learn to express is radically open DBT. So instead of helping decrease intensity, it’s helping people become comfortable with the expression of emotion. 

https://www.mind-reframed.com/radical-openness-dbt

I do think I am still a little too regulated in my emotional expressions but I am learning that it really is OK, it just depends on the situation. For example, when my sister moved out, I cried, along with the rest of my family. I grieved at the death of my cousin recently, and while I knew if I really wanted to I could keep it all in, keep the tears in and handle it that way but I knew it was the right context, so I gave myself that permission to grieve and express that grief.

I’m sure there are other centres, therapies etc. that address this type of thing but for now, I just wanted to share my experience with it and how it quite possibly stemmed (for me) from the sexual abuse experiences I endured growing up. 

 

 

 

 

borderline personality disorder · bpd · mental health · therapy

This isn’t about him.

This isn’t about ‘him’ or a ‘him’, any ‘him’ or ‘the one’. The whole painful process has been the re-direction to this healing work. All of the seeking out, love and heartbreak has been in order for me to come home to myself and look to work on my attachment trauma. I’m glad now, I’m not obsessed now, I want love sure, but I know it will never be the solution. Even when I find it, it wasn’t the answer. This is the answer, growing and healing wounds from both parents. It is time for me to come home to my pain, my body and my reality.

I’ve laid out a plan for the next year of my healing work, as I believe my BPD was well and truly caused by parental neglect on both sides and attachment trauma caused by unstable parenting – I am now working to heal the real wounds below. Acknowledging what happened to me, the truth of my pain, why I am the way I am and what I can do to change the story. History will not repeat itself with me. I will recover enough to heal myself and teach my future children there is a better way, the loving way.

Ironically, part of this is also to seek out a romantic attachment that is healthy, but also healthy friendships. I have started a little more on this, I’m reaching out to new colleagues, even in small conversations, I am building myself up socially. I’ve already started going out for lunch with a colleague I haven’t really built more conversation except a ‘hello’ with over the past year. It seems small, but in the bigger scheme of things I want to build up a momentum of healthy interactions and patterns that I can draw on. Essentially I need to learn to trust in others and their goodness and to learn the ‘secure’ way of interacting.

I want to now make myself a little more vulnerable. I want to be real with people and to be mirrored, to give empathy and receive empathy. It’s kind of tricky to trust others, but I am going to start with my therapist. I am going to get into the depths of my childhood next session and talk about the actual emotions associated with the events as I am a pro at containing my emotions (go figure) when talking about the trauma, just another protective method but one that I need to push past.

I don’t even agree that it ever was BPD, although the framework helped me immensely so I am still an advocate for working off some kind of diagnoses. I am blessed to be helping someone with BPD at the moment. Listening to their experience as well as working through my own I have to come to realise their (and by extension – my own) extreme emotional responses are actually 100% understandable in every instance.

What do I mean? let me give you an example. If you grew up being bitten by snakes everyday and you one day, in adult life, see a snake skin on the floor and freak the eff out, crying yelling and running away like a maniac (I have a phobia, maybe that’s why I chose this as an example?) is your reaction extreme? yes. Would someone else walking past that have a lesser reaction (if, at all)? yes. Does this mean you are not normal and they are? no. Your reaction is totally understandable and ‘normal’ considering what happened to you. Infact, if you took said ‘normal’ person and gave them the same past experience you had, they’re much more likely to freak the eff out when they see snake skin too. So are you really abnormal? ‘sick’? no.

My need for attachment, my longing, my impulsive seeking and lack of emotion regulation were all completely understandable, and if I am experiencing dysregulation, or a ‘triggering’ sensation in response to something someone has said (I usually realise I am being invalidated as I feel a gut punch reaction to whatever phrase they have used) it is because I have grown up being invalidated, emotionally malnourished and so now I am more sensitive to it. I am more prone to becoming emotionally dysregulated, but as, is the case with therapy, this happens less and less now.

I was (and if you can relate to growing up in a trauma background) adapting and growing in response to what I was given. I never was the problem. I am not a problem. BPD is not a problem. It’s just something that needs addressing. I’m healing for myself and for my future journey. The pain has been a lesson and a nudge to myself from myself to grow and become.

 

borderline personality disorder · mental health

Unworthy of Love

Wow it’s been a long week! I have been journalling, researching, working over-time and at the same time grappling with some hard truths that have been uncovered by my work using the book: ‘Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy and Worried and What You Can Do About It by Leslie Becker-Phelps’ (4/5 – I definitely recommend this book). But first, a little bit of back story – I had a couple of weeks of online CBT sessions back when I was living with my ex because I would face daily situations where I felt threatened and misunderstood and due to my lack of resources I didn’t have the skills I needed to deal with them effectively. In my sessions, I’d talk about them to analyse what had happened, what my thought patterns were and/or what core underlying beliefs may be behind it all.

For those of you who may not know, CBT deals mainly with our thoughts/beliefs about situations, ourselves, others and the world at large as opposed to our feelings. This approach didn’t gel with me at all (hence, the creation of DBT). I remember one particular session in which we had mapped out a fight I had had that day and my therapist was able to deduce the belief that I thought I was ‘unlovable’.

Unlovable and unworthy. The core beliefs underneath it all. To say it was difficult to see on paper, or hear from a therapist is a gross understatement. I kind of worked through the rest of the exercise, hiding how profound that statement was for me and then soon quit the sessions. But, even after all this time, through this recent work, I have had to come face to face with the same inner demon.

I, on a deep, inner level (on an ‘invisible known’ level as Leslie puts it) – believe that I am unworthy of love. Of being loved, of receiving love, of having the time, energy and investment put into me by another. Between all my rushing around the office and journaling and family affairs, I have had to face that. And, thanks to a couple of exercises in the book, I am acutely aware of just how deep this runs. This belief has been a major reason why I have accepted poor treatment from my ex’s, why I am afraid of real intimacy, why I fear abandonment. My fear of abandonment and my belief that I am unworthy of love are so intertwined they’re practically having sex.  

The closer I get to someone, or the more I like them the greater the fear that they’ll ‘find out’ they’ll find out this ‘fact’ – the fact that I’m not really worth it. Once they’ve sussed out that I’m not worth it, they’ll obviously go running for the hills. Leaving me on my own, a wreck, with the nasty voice in my head telling me ‘See – I told you so!’.

Writing that down shows me just how dark, sad and untrue it is. That’s the thing with these darn core beliefs, they’re not always conscious and they’re not really that logical. You just kind of semi-consciously operate from this stance and then everything around you, all of your interactions are kind of ‘filtered’ to prove your belief is ‘right’. I know, on a logical level, that I am worthy of love – we all are. I’m just as worthy of love as whoever is reading these very words. But my brain hasn’t quite accepted that. Challenging it every day is proving laborious, uncomfortable and scary. But, I am doing it, thanks to a lot of reading and some practices I can put into place – the main one being Self Compassion. I hope this will ease up and I can turn it around for good.

Oh and if you feel me on this one – you ARE worthy of love, exactly as you are.

borderline personality disorder · mental health

Under construction.

I don’t know how much of what I’m going to say will make sense because truly I’m trying to just get out what I can while I have the time and energy to do it. The day of my last post I was back on shakey ground, getting too close to an ex where the relationship was headed nowhere, trying to make something out of nothing. The next day we swapped emails at work and he asked me if I had planned to meet him over the weekend to which I said yes. So he knew my intention but it hit me, he had probably guessed as much on the weekend and didn’t ask me to meet. He doesn’t want to meet me and he doesn’t want to go back there.

I had a kind of penny drop moment – I’m just so sick of relating in this way. I’m sick of seeking out, seeking out of myself. I have spent the last year under the illusion that he still loved me in some way as much I did and that we just needed the right circumstance, well the right circumstance has come about and guess what? He’s not here, it hasn’t happened. But ironically, maybe God designed it this way because that’s not the real issue here. The real issue is how I seek out attachment even when I’m single. I’m constantly on some level, pre-occupied with finding a partner or finding love, finding – what I have now realised the ‘attachment bond’ that will help me heal.

Now I’m trying to be really self-compassionate because it’s tough to accept that I have spent my entire life relating to people from this viewpoint, but I have. I also accept that it’s literally how my brain has been programmed and that this seeking is actually so that my brain can re-enact the trauma cycle and find a solution. It’s what happens in trauma backgrounds, we seek out what we know and are comfortable with and then we try to find a different outcome.

It has no longer become enough for me to no longer be ‘borderline’ or in ‘recovery’, I really needed to get to the roots of this issue. I am so done with this obsessive behaviour, with the checking of messages, with wondering whether this person will be ‘it’, with being afraid. With wanting a family but not having the relational skills to really get me there. I sought out my attachment style and I found I’m ‘pre-occupied’ the more I read, the less surprised I am, the more scared and stunned I am to find that it describes me to a T. I feel like this is really the seed that plants BPD and BPD is just the anguish and the response to attachment trauma.

I have come across a well of information, including hope that an insecurely attached individual can ‘earn’ secure attachment (earned secure attachment) and live just as happily as those who have always been securely attached from birth. For this, I am so grateful, but this week has been hard and I’ve only just started. It has included a lot of journalling and reading, where at times it becomes too much to take in and to process and it hits part of my soul and emotions where I have to take breaks from it.

I have so much to say already about what I’ve found and I want to share the journey of this new process of growth that I am about to embark on but I’m not entirely sure when. I just feel a bit raw, and tender and entirely aware of the enormity of the work I have ahead of me. But it must be done. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

borderline personality disorder · bpd · dating · sex and love addiction

The 5-Star hotel and sex life

I’ve been super productive today, like clearing out old clothes, cleaning make up brushes and removing old products kinda productive. I’m also now starting to feel drained and coming down from the high I’ve been on all day. I’m feeling a little lonely and I know I’m on shaky ground because of the thoughts that have spinning in my head since yesterday.

I got on the road for the first time today, woohoo! but because of car payments I have to push therapy to a further 3 weeks away which sucks because I know I really needed to talk about my family on Monday. Oh well, responsibilities are responsibilities. That’s kind of why I’m posting so much on here, to check in with myself, and make sure what’s spinning around in my head gets put down. Hopefully that will slow down the impulsive urges I have at the moment.

I’m happy and feeling really confident in myself in one way because I’m managing my life pretty independantly and staying kinda healthy despite the fact that there are huge life stressors at home. There’s an issue/fight/tears nearly every day at home (ironically not with me), so home does not feel like a sanctuary at all.

I had already decided in the week I was going to book a hotel close to work this weekend just to get away. I just need to be on my own in a safe space, get some self care, a decent’s nights sleep and not have to feel responsible and like I have to always intervene in all the drama. It just so turns out that my mind starts flitting to whether ex-love will be in the same city as me, whether I could ask him to hang out with me. Will he be getting a hotel when he’s here?

I try to resist the urge to call him last night, I know it’s not good for me, so I don’t. The thing is, through recovery I’m self-aware enough to know what is and isn’t healthy but that doesn’t stop the fact that the thoughts still come. In a way, it makes it harder because now I know it’s not a good idea but my brain is on a loop.

Today I kept thinking that even though I innocently say we’d just hang and I know he’d let me stay with him, I know my impulsive nature and that I wouldn’t say to no anything sexual happening. I think back to when it did happen, I think about how I still want it to happen. All while I go about my day, taking care of myself, my body, my family. I sort out my insurance, I help my mum with chores. But my mind is running, is he here? Will I go?

He hasn’t led me on at all, or given me any inkling that this could happen, no it’s not him. This is entirely me and how my brain works. My uni days make even more sense now, I would always get the 5-star hotels with my ex and ‘get away’ every weekend or day at times, cost me a lot, but back then, I didn’t care.

There’s the thrilling aspect of it, the glamour of the hotel, the fun of having as much sex as you want and for some reason it’s always so much more carefree than anywhere else. Perhaps this makes me sound sleazy but I love love those times. I miss being told I’m gorgeous in whatever lingerie it is (wow this is getting full disclosure) being held and cuddled in the soft satiny sheets, being in a beautiful space and then there’s the beautiful showers and shower sex obviously. The main reason, which was the reason I wanted to go on my own this weekend- is the escape from life, from home. Back then, home was even worse so I did what I could to get away, as I couldn’t afford moving out properly.

So my brain has put – safe, caring person, my desire to escape, the fact that he will always hold a space in my heart all together and combined it into the perfect recipe to ask him to escape with me. All the while the healthy part of me trying to put a reign on my thoughts, don’t call, don’t text, don’t book anywhere, focus, focus, focus. This is also while I had a date planned for today which I obviously feel so little about I rearranged it to tomorrow, I don’t even know the time.

I did cave and text him asking him if he’s in the city. It’s just my luck that he’s not. I haven’t pushed it further. I’m not going to call him tomorrow, I’m not going to follow up at all. I can’t, I know he’s OK. I’ve already reached out, anymore reaching out is just in my own interest and feeding my obsession and losing my own self-respect. I’m glad I got this out, feel like I’ve purged the worst of it, for how long though, I don’t know.