Hanging in there

I have been having extremes of feeling and I’m trying to hang in there and keep doing the things I need to do to take care of myself. Sometimes more successfully than others. Things like eating regularly, sleeping regularly and activities I used to enjoy, like crafts and walking. I’m hoping that in time that enjoyment will come back.

What brought me here today is that I just read a really good post on a twitter friend’s blog about how it can be hard to trust your own mind when you have bpd, check it out. It’s so true that huge amounts of time and energy can be used up by second guessing oneself and trying to separate which thoughts and feelings come from a painful reaction to a situation.

I don’t think bpd instincts are always wrong, but it’s helpful to have all the facts when deciding how to act and I think part of that is knowing which of our responses come from a difficult history. Then we can decide for ourselves if they are useful for the here and now.

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Defensiveness & BPD

(Group week 15, individual therapist still away.)

Group this week was largely on the topic of defensiveness. The way a lot of us react in group is described as defensive and the therapists want us to question this response. To be open to the idea that someone is not trying to hurt us, or that the hurt caused would be bearable.

I’m definitely defensive, in group and in my every day life. I think this is a way of surviving; a lot of my BPD is the response of a traumatised person attempting to protect themselves from further pain.

I think this is encouraged in part by how strongly those of us with BPD feel emotions, we know that pain and we know how devastating and overwhelming it can get for us. It makes sense for us to become hypervigilant about avoiding it.

How much does your defensiveness, in its various forms, protect you? How much does it hold you back or even cause you more pain? Is it possible to hold on to what works and work to eliminate what doesn’t?

I’d like to become more nuanced and careful about how and when I use defensive strategies:
-Find out for sure if I need to defend myself before I go into attack mode on someone who is not really a threat.
-Don’t push everyone away when I am feeling awful, it seems like I’m protecting myself but really I’m isolating myself and making my life more difficult.
-Continue building my assertiveness and confidence in conversation so that I have better skills to simply say if something is making me feel uncomfortable or uncertain before it leads to a meltdown.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. Do you have the same difficulties? Perhaps you’ve found what works for you?

On feeling unsafe and trying not to make things worse

I’ve been finding things very difficult lately. I’m still adjusting to being so much busier, what with therapy twice a week, my other appointments with my social worker and my occupational therapist, my driving lessons, exercise classes, volunteering… It all feels like too much.

After the group session on Tuesday I was feeling in quite a bad way. I hadn’t been sleeping well and I was feeling agitated. I kept laying awake at night going over and over plans of self harm and suicide. I was tired and not feeling safe.

I managed to text my occupational therapist. I find it hard to reach out for support and my social worker is away. Luckily I have this number I can text because I find it hard to call someone.

My occupational therapist got in touch hours later, offering to phone me. I was quite upset and she said she was on duty so it would be her I was supposed to talk to if I needed to call someone anyway.

I was tearful and distressed. She was trying to calm me down and I don’t think she’s heard me that bad before. I told her everything seems pointless. I can’t motivate myself to make good decisions and take care of myself, and she was trying to persuade me to do just that.

She said I’ve been making progress and I need to remember that, and try to get perspective on things. I know I’m really wrapped up in these feelings at the moment but I know I always come round to feeling this way even when it seems like things are going well, so it is hard to feel more hopeful. I feel like I’m stuck on a merry-go-round and I just want off.

We talked for about forty minutes. She was patient with me and I was probably acting like a petulant child. She was trying to convince me this feeling would pass and I couldn’t see past how I was feeling. I couldn’t talk about how I would cope tomorrow or the next day cause I was feeling unsafe in a very immediate way.

I got off the phone and then my partner came home from work. He made us a cup of tea and something to eat. I decided I would go out the to the pub as planned in the evening and I had a shower.

I knew I was at risk of getting drunk and out of control but I just wanted to go out and to feel something different from how I was feeling.

Showering made me feel better, even though I usually hate it. Usually the awareness of my body makes me feel horrible but I guess cause it’s been so hot lately, the cool shower was a relief.

I got changed and panicked a bit about what to wear, I hated everything on me.

When my friend arrived to pick me up she was in such a cheerful, upbeat mood, and I didn’t want to bring her down so I didn’t let on that I was feeling bad. Her mood lifted me a little.

In the end I managed to look after myself really well. I drank shandies instead of beer and only had two along with a pint of water. I think trying to stay hydrated in the hot weather and avoiding getting drunk even though I drank a bit was some kind of miracle. Usually when I feel bad I go out and have one drink and that’s it – I’m on the route to being drunk and emotional.

I’m proud of myself, I guess, that I managed to do the opposite of what I was feeling. I couldn’t make the situation better but I could avoid making it worse. Actually, I ended up having a lot of nice conversations with people.

Of course, when I came home I was full of anxiety, going over and over everything I’d said, sure that people thought I was horrible for some reason. But you can’t have it all. I’ll take that one. That evening could have gone a lot worse and I ended up not hurting myself in any way, when I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get through it without doing so.

This means that I’m coping with anxiety about an evening where I was not drunk or out of control and a level of social anxiety about how I came across, but if I had been drunk, unable to remember just what I said to people and knowing I might have acted up, the level of anxiety would be so much higher.