{July 30, 2012}   Out of Body Experiences

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch‘s famous masterpiece The Scream may have been inspired by depersonalization disorder.

I have been having a hard time explaining disassociation to my friends and family. It doesn’t make sense but when I read it it makes so much sense of my years where I floated in a detached state of going through life when we lived in the most beautiful place on earth with amazing friends, yet I drifted through trying to place the right emotional reaction to the cues given, oblivious and uncaring of the world around me. My chunks of memory loss from younger years where I cannot access a single memory, try as I might there is an unexplainable blank in the years. I don’t believe I manifest all aspects of depersonalization, every BPD sufferer varies, and some are mild and others don’t arise unless faced with severe trauma or stress. But it is illogical, I can’t explain to anyone, and I try not to because they would think I was nuts, becoming two people and watching myself across the room like a ghost of myself. It has only happened twice in all my years (though I may not remember younger days) and both times they caused tremendous shame and I was told it was not a fault but part of my illness, like hair falling out from chemotherapy, that I disassociated to stop the shame and stress. When I found out I could come out of the fog of detachment, it was a hallelujah moment, I did it, I can feel again. One day I hope the memories will come back (or not). That becoming 2 will no longer happen, that the situation will be controlled by training and the ghost of Vida past will not need to rise. That I can be free of all of this! I have so much hope this year, I’ve made large leaps before and I foresee this as another jumping point for more healing and growing. I am in my 40s, the doctors have always said, it will begin to soften as you get older. Never thought there would be an upside to age. 🙂


Dissociation and Borderline Personality Disorder

Dissociation occurs when an individual feels that he/she has lost touch with reality. This can be extremely frightening for those affected. It is recognised to be a very common factor in terms of those suffering from BPD.

While much still remains unknown about this symptom, many health professionals working in the mental health field believe that a person may experience dissociation as a means of coping with extreme stress or trauma. An example of disassociation is when a rape victim denies what has happened as an subconscious means of protecting the mind.

 There are four main types of dissociation including: dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia and depersonalisation disorder.

What is Dissociative Fugue?

Those affected with dissociative fugue will disconnect from the past and typically fail to remember large periods of time that are associated with certain past experiences. The condition is not easily identifiable, as the individual will appear perfectly normal to others, providing the other person doesn’t have knowledge about the affected individual’s past.

Many sufferers will travel around and adopt a new form of self, thereby causing much distress to those left behind at home.

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

This condition was previously known as multiple personality disorder and involves the individual adopting at least two totally different personalities. Some health professionals have worked with those who adopt as many as fifteen different personalities.

Each individual personality may be used to cope with different forms of stress and will typically involve changes in vocabulary, accent, posture and it may even involve other significant changes, like a switch from being left-handed to right-handed.

What is Dissociative Amnesia?

Dissociative amnesia usually impacts those who have experienced significant trauma or abuse and involves the individual forgetting whole chunks of the past.

In psychotherapy, sufferers may also actively attempt, for example, to stop the therapist from realising that painful memories have been blocked out.

What is Depersonalisation Disorder?

This condition will make the sufferer actually feel as if they are watching a film of their life and as if they are completely on the outside and disconnected. Those affected by depersonalisation have described this disorder in therapy as feeling in an almost dream-like state.
Depersonalization disorder (DPD) is a dissociative disorder (ICD-10 classifies the disorder as an anxiety disorder) in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization. Common descriptions of symptoms are: feeling disconnected from one’s physicality; feeling as though one is not completely occupying the body; not feeling in control of one’s speech or physical movements; feeling detached from one’s own thoughts or emotions; a sense of automation, going through the motions of life but not experiencing it or participating in it; loss of conviction with one’s identity; feeling a disconnection from one’s body; inability to accept ones reflection as one’s own; difficulty relating oneself to reality and the environment; feeling as though one is in a dream; and out-of-body experiences‘.


I start my DBT group classes this Thursday and I am terrified, every time I think about it my heart starts to palpitate. This is the first time I will openly be with a group of people who are not connected to me that will know I have a mental illness. I realize that in itself there is nothing scary about this, no one is going to jump out and say boo, but in the 10 years of knowing what I have, I am stepping a foot outside of the closet.

I have always lamented that the people I love can never understand how I feel, they love me but they cannot fathom living with a hole inside of you everyday, that even when I am happy I still carry that ache that needs to be contained and when I am sad it’s excruciating pain. I hope I make a friend, I have never been good at having women friends unless they have known me from my younger years, it’s hard to bond a friendship when more than half of you is sheltering a secret. Part of me has the anxiety of maybe being strange, odd, different, the new kid in class feeling.

Vida going back to school

Then there is my fear of failure, I know there are no grades but what if DBT doesn’t help me? I so want to learn how to approach conflict and putting myself forward better without my BPD crippling me. My triggers strike like burning arrows when conflict, disappointment or any negative personal meeting arises. Hugh asked me the other day how I could be forceful with some people and face certain situations but not others and I thought about it this weekend and realized if I have no emotional investment or I know I can walk away and not interact with someone anymore, my triggers may tweak but they don’t burn. If I could have never seen my horrid co-worker again the burning flesh would have been a 1st degree burn not a 3rd degree. Personal interactions, the arrows not only pierce they stay burning under my skin till I can drag my hose and put them out one by one. I have been waiting for DBT training to come here for years, the next step in my journey, and like an over hyped movie in my mind, I don’t want my expectations to exceed my results.

Of course, there is relationships, which I too thought about this weekend. I always ascribed in my mind that the part of BPD that affected my relationships was that I would leave before I was left to avoid abandonment. As I wrote my relationships down, I came to realize it was a two fold curse in almost all of them, an inability to leave when I should have left coupled with abandonment (classic I love you I hate you). Each relationship came down to a point where I should have left months if not years earlier than I did, hanging on with crippling fear that I would, yet again, not be able to make one work, that no matter who was at fault, I had to fix it (which has caused me debt, abuse, suicide), till there was barely a dying gasp of emotion in me. I had to have all emotion bleed out of me, worked out of me,  to leave because at that point I would not feel the abandonment and failure of leaving.

I have been working very hard on the relationship aspect with my psychologist and with myself since returning. Since then  Hugh has said he doesn’t want a relationship (good timing for DBT training) and that was a hard pill to reconcile as I had made the commitment in my heart and mind to make it work, which internally shattered, and through the conversation was like razor blades running under my skin and a burning in my head, I wasn’t sure if I was crying from the internal pain or the words. Surprising to myself, I managed to hold onto my shimmer, it is shaky, no doubt, but still shiny and the days are good, as I said, surprisingly so. I keep looking over my shoulder wondering if someone is going to push me down the black hole. If I was going to get the push it would be from Hugh. I suspect branching out is part of the no relationship, though he never said it, I surmise he wants to date other people and that burning arrow is still burning in a contained place within me, which twists every now and then. I am blindly blocking it and mentally clenching through the flame to hold it back which I know is not the right technique at all but all I know is to contain it as best I can and hope no other trigger lands in it to ignite it further.

Hopefully DBT will teach me how manage myself and myself within a relationship because I am not sure how to handle his lack of faith in me and my lack of faith to trust that he would not leave and go each time he found fault in me. Also to find the tools to explain DBT, which when asked I cannot articulate the DSM description in laymen’s terms, nor explain it logically, because if it was logical then it wouldn’t be a problem. How can I have the emotional capacity of a child yet be a grown woman, explain me that? The intense hollowness and ache every single day that you fight for happy, that it’s not just there when you wake up. My splitting mind, Amanda and I, that I lock up in times of stress so I don’t hurt and let her take over, how do you explain her? When I write it down it sounds like a bad movie that no one would believe. I should be more understanding when people don’t get my actions, can’t imagine, or believe, because would I believe if someone told me that? Likely not, I’d think they were weak or exaggerating. So, DBT, help me find the words to explain who I am and what I am, that we do get better and live healthy lives.




{July 26, 2012}   A Child-Like Mind

A Child-Like Mind Borderline Personality Disorder

Posted: Jul 06, 2010 |Comments: 0 | Views: 1,448 |

Time with my daughter helps me understand the world through her eyes. Her world is exciting, yet frightening. Her behaviors and emotions fluctuate to express this. For me, and undoubtedly for her, it sometimes feels like a roller coaster. Thank God, she has me to hold onto.

Adults with BPD often experience emotions much like my three-year-old child. As such, their behavior seems reasonable to them. The problem or pathology arises because these individuals are not children they are adults. In terms of emotion regulation, interpersonal and some cognitive skills, they are at times functioning like children. Growth in each of these areas can occur independently, which results in an adult with the emotional composure of a two-year-old.

The life of those with BPD is a roller coasterchaotic, erratic, and distressed. They frequently feel as though they have no one to hold onto and the ride is getting faster and more treacherous. It involves twists and turns of venting anger, numbing pain, and engaging in self-deprecation. Often this leads to isolation, with ever more shame, anger, and pain.

Although their behaviors may seem game-like, it is not always so. Their behaviors are complex defenses that serve to protect them from what they may perceive as harm, rejection, and inevitable abandonment. These behaviors can be traced back to those of a distressed child, searching desperately for an anchor.

If I feel it, it must be true

Just the other day, my daughter said, I feel sad Mommy. It must be a sad day. In general, emotionally healthy people can distinguish between feelings and facts. If you fail a test (fact), you may feel inadequate (feeling). But this does not mean that you are inadequate. It may be just one failed test out of many successes.

Individuals with BPD have difficulty separating feelings from facts. In their economy, if they feel it, it is true. As such, when these individuals feel bad, their self-destructive behavior seems completely reasonable to them. These individuals repeatedly need to revise facts to fit their feelings. This is why their perceptions and beliefs may seem distorted and unstable.


As my daughter cognitively matures, she is moving toward an understanding that just because I am angry does not mean I dont love her. However, for the most part at this stage of development, life remains polarized for her into good and bad. Like children, adults with BPD are unable to integrate situations and feelings that involve opposition. This leads to black-or-white thinking, overvaluation oscillating with devaluation, and a process known as splitting.

These cognitive mechanisms are efforts to protect themselves and make sense of the world. Life does not often come in black or white, but instead either black-and-white or many shades of gray. People are both kind and cruel, warm and cold, available and unavailable, depending on situations, needs and various factors. Because a person with BPD cannot cognize a world with complexity of this kind, it is necessary to separate people into black-or-white categories based on their most recent behaviors.

Core Issues

Emotion dysregulation is believed to be the core issue of BPD. Therefore, those with BPD manifest relational, behavioral and cognitive disturbances in an effort to achieve emotional modulation. They push others away for emotional protection; they inflict self-injury to numb emotional pain; they dissociate to avoid thinking about trauma; they create fantasies to ease the pain of reality.

Many of these people are intelligent and successful and seem to have everything going for them. However, inside they feel empty and incomplete. Their behaviorswhich may appear to be manipulation and game-playing are done to self-soothe emotionally.

As such, professionals who work with BPD patients or clients risk countertransference and burnout. Professionals and loved ones can spend years trying to understand the patients behaviors and validate feelings. However, this can prove exhausting and self-defeating.

So as a professional committed to working with these patients, it is necessary to bridge the gap between the adult person and the psyche of the disturbed child by not only validating, but also teaching self-capability enhancement. How do we do this?

Grace, Grace and More Grace

During the past ten years, advances in treatment of BPD have occurred in many areas, including biological underpinnings, psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment. One of the most innovative and effective psychotherapeutic approaches to BPD is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan.1 This treatment addresses the extreme dichotomous thinking, for instance, by helping patients find a balance between overvaluing and condemning. It also focuses on developing skills, such as problem solving, selfsoothing, assertiveness, kindness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. These approaches, if integrated with Biblical principles, are quite effective.

Whatever treatment is used, Christian professionals know that the approach must offer Gods grace, kindness, and mercy. In an interview regarding his new book, Grace-Based Parenting,2 Dr. Tim Kimmel described grace as loving and honoring them when they are not loving back and loving your child when they dont deserve it. This attitude is necessary in working with BPD patients. In fact, such work can be thought of as grace-based therapy. As Christians, we are taught to love others (Matthew 22:39). Exemplifying Gods love is the only way to truly demonstrate validation, convey acceptance, and show understanding of these individuals.

However, like Christ, we do not accept unacceptable behaviors. Christ accepts and loves us as his children, but also wants us to become like him: go and sin no more (John 8:11). In treatment, then, in addition to validation, we must teach life skills and tools, not unlike what I am currently doing with my child. I teach her to self-soothe, how to deal with disappointment, and how to express and regulate her emotions. My prayer is that as she develops and individuates, she will mature into an independent and godly woman. That is the hope for patients suffering with BPD. One hopes that the gap between child and adult will narrow as they progress through treatment.

{July 26, 2012}   BPD Acting Normal

SORRY, I posted the wrong article! Going to post that one next. 🙂

This is an amazing blog from a BPD writer on

I am sure many of you can appreciate this, I felt the words were pouring out of my mouth as I read this. I am a quiet BPD, I don’t rage and I internalize and feel every tiny little thing. But this was such a well written piece I had to share.

BPD acting “Normal” and ManipulationPosted: 26 Jul 2012 07:03 AM PDT

“You know you’re borderline when you’ve spent so much time acting normal, other’s say ‘you’re cured’ so you show them you’re not.” [1]
This is me. This is the plight of the Quiet Borderline. This is why it’s so hard for us to ask for help, and to get help, because so often when we do finally attempt to shed that mask, people look at us and say… But you’re so normal, I think you’re fine.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve run into this. xRoommate told me she didn’t think I was Borderline. Current Roommate (who is also a Psych major) has told me she would never guess I was Borderline. I think this is a two part problem.
1.      The stigma surrounding BPD focuses so strongly on the angry, volatile, aggressive, explosive cases of BPD, that it’s become stereotyped to the exclusion of evidence to the contrary.
a.       I find this funny because only criteria 8 in the DSM specifically mentions: inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights) . That’s one criteria. One. Growing up there would be zero doubt, zero, that this was an incredibly huge problem for me. It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve turned more inward and the expression of my volatile anger has come under control. Note: That doesn’t mean I don’t still get enraged and furious at the drop of a hat, I’ve just learned to control the outward expression of it. Regardless, that’s only 1 criteria of 9 in the DSM and by all accounts you only need 5 criteria that significantly disrupt your life to qualify as Borderline.
2.      I wear a mask. Constantly.
To the outside world I do not rage. I do not show how quickly my moods can change. I hold it inside until I’m alone and can let the façade slip. “Acting normal”, not letting people see my emotional instability, not letting people see things that would make them question whether I have it together, is vitally important. I learned growing up and from the abusive relationships that I’ve been in, that anything “abnormal” mentally and emotionally is something to be ashamed of and can be used against me to humiliate me and alienate me from the people I need in my life. How can someone love you if you’re broken? So I hide it.
Until it’s too much to hold inside. Until I’ve finally, finally reached a point where I need to reach out for help. When I’m literally dizzy and shaking from the anxiety, depression, rage, and pain I’m feeling and can’t keep going on my own anymore. When I finally cede that I need to try, I hear… But you seem so normal. You’ll be fine.
Invalidation. Of course I seem normal, because that’s all I’ve let you see! You don’t see what’s happening inside because I’m positive you won’t be able to deal with it and won’t like me anymore. Not to mention I feel guilty bringing my problems to you even this one time, let alone all the times when things feel like they’re too much for me to handle, so I bury them so you won’t be burdened with how much I’m hurting. Of course you don’t see all that is inside of me.
Breaking point. This is when I’ve hit mine. This is when I need something, anything to relieve the pain. Something that I can control when everything else seems so out of my hands. I can’t control the pain that is bombarding me from the inside, but I can control the pain I inflict from the outside. That’s often when I would reach for a knife to create some form of control. And a bottle to take myself out of my own head to boot.
Appearing “normal” is like the bottle cap on a carbonated soda that’s been shaken violently and kicked down a flight of stairs. It looks fine from the outside, but when it’s finally cracked even a tiny bit…. Explosion.
I’ve definitely had thoughts of, “You don’t believe me? Then I’ll just have to show you how serious I am.” Because it’s my last fucking resort. If I’ve asked for help, and been turned away because you don’t believe me, than what choice do I have but to give you proof?
Then there are other times when having help rejected has pushed me past the point of caring. I don’t care whether you believe me or not. No one will help, so I have to help myself. Unfortunately the only ways I know to make myself feel better are maladaptive and destructive and you can’t always hide that, so people still manage to see.
This is where I believe a lot of the Borderline “manipulativeness” comes into play.  It’s not manipulation in a pre-mediated trying to get you to do something that you don’t want to do while making you believe it was your own idea, sort of way. It’s acting in a way that is destructive and extreme because it’s the only way we know how to cope, but is also pretty impossible for you to ignore, thereby we obtain what we needed as well: attention and help.
So why don’t you just let go of the mask and people will believe you? Because then the rest of my life will be even more dysfunctional, and I’ll lose the people I care about and need in my life… or so I believe. Remember I can’t internalize why someone would want me in their life if I’m not perfect and have too many problems. I have to protect myself, and keeping people away from the vulnerable sides of me is the only way I know how to do that. My mind runs away in a maelstrom of anxious ruminations, of every possible way my life would be affected and how things could go wrong if I let my mask slip. The accumulation of those outcomes seems overwhelmingly worse than the idea of showing people what we hold inside.
There’s also this; once you’ve worn a mask for so long, it becomes difficult to take off. Especially when you’re not always sure who you are some days, what does taking off that mask even mean? The mask isn’t a pre-molded construct. It’s an adaptation to the world around you to help you maneuver and function in a society that seems so different from how you feel. When do those adaptations become an actual part of you and when do those adaptations remain things that are separate?
When I was angry and volatile, people told me to act differently, to act “normal”. By “normal” I mean in a socially acceptable way, because there really is no normal. So I do, at least when the situation calls for it. But what people really mean is stop being so emotional, stop expressing how you feel, stop showing that you’re in pain. So I do. Changing how I appear doesn’t actually stop how I feel.  It looks like it does though, so people say, “You’re cured! Look it worked! You just had to change how you acted and things would get better!” Except it doesn’t. It just invalidates how I feel, tells me that who I am is bad, and shuts down my ability to get help when I need it because now no one believes that I need help at all. All that’s left is to Act Out to show that no, in fact it hasn’t worked. I’ve just been backed into an emotional corner and shoved my heart in a drawer to make you more comfortable.
Happy now? I’m not.
I never wanted to wear this mask. It’s something I’ve felt forced into. I don’t even notice it half the time. Trying to take it off is like trying to tear off the scab on a wound that hasn’t fully healed. A band-aid on a bullet wound. It doesn’t come off easily yet it doesn’t heal what it’s covering over. It’s the product of years of trying to adapt. Don’t expect it to part from our skin quickly, or easily. It’s a product of the protection we’ve had to develop. I know people get frustrated because they think it should be easy for us to “just be yourself”. But when you’ve had a lifetime of being told that “being yourself” isn’t acceptable, a lifetime of conditioning doesn’t change overnight.

{July 26, 2012}   Shimmering

ImageIt’s a beautiful day in the city, one of those days that you want to skip joyfully along the sidewalk like you’re in the movies. I did talk a walk, however, I skipped the skipping, I mentally skipped in the sunlight.

I went to a really great yoga practice and meditation on Tuesday, one of my favourite instructors that I love and hate all wrapped into one. His name is Jai and he is very immersed in yoga and at times I can barely make it through his class. We did some very soulful and opening chants at the beginning of the class, where he asked us to take what was inside, focus and cleanse them through our chants to the earth. I had a lot inside that day and I put it all out there. I know this sounds very hippy dippy but yoga and meditation has been one of the best things for my BPD in giving me openness and healing through the practice and if I could I would do it everyday. The practice after meditation was so focused and strong my mind cleared for the entire 90minutes and straight into shivasana, where you bring your body to rest in peace after the practice. 

My point is I am still carrying that peace, it’s shining inside like a glowing orb and I am, I dont even know the words, surprised, confused, elated that through the knocks I’ve had its still there! Work must think there’s something wrong with me, I’ve been Ms Perky all morning, I even bought everyone a round of Starbucks. 

I want to appreciate these times, when my heart and mind are smiling, it feels amazing. We are so challenged with the constant pain and ache we have inside, that days like these, I want to bottle the feeling to drink as an elixir in greyer days. I am shimmering. Remind me of this moment in my dark and stormy days.

I am sending out peace and love to all of you, I hope your day is beautiful.

{July 25, 2012}   Burnt

Imagine meeting a burnt victim for the first time. The sight of the scars is pitiful. Loved ones and health care providers ease their sufferings even if the grumblings from the victim are ferocious. It is easy to fathom the psychological trauma that victims endured. The leeway to grieve and heal is given to them generously. Compassion is straightforward for those suffering physically.

Consideration for trauma invisible to the eyes is lacking. Yet, the pain exists. The sufferers of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) obviously do not look disabled or impaired. Nonetheless, they are in perpetual emotional pain triggering actions that feel like personal assaults.

Buddha says: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

I feel like I have failed because no human or animal or living thing needs to be hurt purposely if there is a kinder and humane way to solve a situation. I can say that I have broken one of my own tenants of belief  by following the paths of others and not staying true to what I know. By being worried about people’s external valuations about me, and allowing insecurity and guilt to come to the surface, I chose, purposely to hurt another being. It is my weakness and the disappointment in myself is palpably painful right now that I cannot stop the self flagellation. It is easier to hurt quickly to solve a problem  than it is to find the right path to allow a person to preserve their dignity.

Just because I feel kindness does not mean i have ulterior motives for my actions or my feelings. I know in this world we live in, it is about deceit, deception, selfishness, vanity, and being kind comes with a price, being kind must mean you there is something that you are hiding or wanting. Can we not just be good people, can we not be judged at face value on what we say?

I would not want someone to hurt me to make a point if there was a gentler approach. I am human with tremendous emotions that can hurt me, and I want to accord that same respect to others regardless of how mean, nasty, over bearing or horrid  they may be, that is them, this is me. I want to preserve me, there is enough ugly inside of me that in things that I can control, I want to control them with peace and humanity and I should not mind the judgements people place upon me for my beliefs, but yet my weakness is that I do, I fear their rejection if I do not do as they say, their judgement even when it is false. So I have much growing to do in my soul and the ways of spirituality and for now need to find the absolution in myself for my actions.

Never speak harsh words
For they will rebound upon you.
Angry words hurt
And the hurt rebounds.
Like a broken gong.

{July 24, 2012}   We don’t make sense
This really resonated with me, it is how I feel each time I reach out to someone and try and explain or gain support for what I am feeling or trying to do. It always comes up against a wall, that I eventually back down because I end up defending myself as opposed to finding the validation and help I need. And yes, I shut down, I shut up, i curl into my ball of hurt that I cannot be heard because I know beating it over and over will not make them understand, either they cannot, or they think if they rationalize enough I will see that I am mislead and they have the answers for who and what I am. That this is all overblown and in “in my mind” and as purely a money making racket from the mental health industry. But you see, the mental health racketeers weren’t there influencing me when I was 11 holding a knife to my stomach, or 16 trying to swallow enough aspirin to die, or 18 and cutting my arms to pieces, who was influencing me then? I have feelings that are tremulous, that choke me, that are so sensitive if I don’t handle them properly they hurt me, everything comes back to me, how I made me feel, how I made someone else feel. If someone else hurts I hurt for them regardless of the right or wrong, feeling control me, plus my own personal pain. Can that be encapsulated, how careful I need to be? That each time I am berated for my weaknesses it makes me close up even more. I don’t want to be weak and I want to be strong with my regulation but it is slow steps, it is DBT, it is counseling, it is medication, it is doctors. What may seem so easy to those who are normalized, that can whip things off the top of their head, rationalize, decide, express, understand, adjust their emotions, I want to be you, I am working, but I will never be that perfectly functioning individual that can bear the same stresses, pressures, pains and emotions.
How we feel doesn’t necessarily make sense to people without BPD. I remember getting extremely frustrated, extremely tired, and ultimately extremely angry when I would try to explain what I was going through only to have the other person try to rationalize it in their own way or blow off what I was saying as me getting worked up over nothing. It’s not nothing. You may not understand it, but our feelings are valid because we are experiencing them, and telling us that it’s in our head or that things aren’t as bad as they seem and walking away, just leaves us feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and alone. If this happens often enough, we shut down. At least I do. I quit going to people for help. I quit trying. And after a while the idea of asking for help stopped occurring to me at all. It feels like no one will understand because no one listens. Or they won’t understand because their normalized experience is so different than ours that they simply can’t feel what we feel. It’s difficult.
When we’re lead by our emotions, the things we think we need may not actually be the best thing for us either. We’re often so sensitive and highly emotional that our communication can be misleading. Not intentionally but when our emotions are SO extreme and SO changeable what we need can be as extreme and changeable as the emotions that accompany them. What we think we need in the moment may not be what will really ease our anxiety.  What we actually need is often left unexpressed.

Emotional Language and Communication with Borderline Personality Disorder

Posted: 24 Jul 2012 08:05 AM PDT

Excerpted from: Beyond the Borderline Personality

Today I want to discuss something important that a lot of people with Borderline Personality Disorder lack: Communication skills. Mine happen to be pretty darn good (Well, now), but I think I’m something of an anomaly because I also happen to be an academic genius which puts me in a unique position to be able to put my thoughts into words. Even then, I didn’t always used to be able to communicate so well, and it’s still not always easy for me. For us.
 It can be difficult to talk to us. It can be even more difficult getting us to talk about what it is we need and what is bothering us. Sometimes it seems like no matter how clearly a person with BPD explains their feelings those around us don’t understand what we mean. Similarly, things others say to us often seem to be wildly misinterpreted by the person with BPD, distorted into something you never intended and everyone ends up defending themselves against something they never realized they were saying. And that’s best case scenario if we are able to accurately describe what we’re saying. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case so it seems like there’s always a perpetual miscommunication with someone with BPD.
What you hear is not always what we mean. What you say is not always what we hear.
The reason for this is simple, and frustrating. 1. We’re so used to being dismissed as overemotional that it’s instinctive to expect that we’ll be invalidated. 2. We don’t always know what we need.  We don’t always know what is bothering us. We can’t always identify what it is we’re feeling. All we know is that something feels bad, but it’s not always possible to identify the source of that feeling. It’s not always clear what is causing it. All we know is that it FEELS like there’s a problem, anxiety, something gripping our hearts and shoving it up into our throat. How do you express something that you can’t accurately process? Let alone put it into words.
It’s extremely frustrating to know you feel bad but not know how to express it properly or how to fix it. We learn to adapt in different ways because of this. For me, I learned to control my environment. This lead to an extraordinary amount of anxiety if anything deviated from the structure I needed to “stabilize” my environment. People with BPD can become demanding, control, lash out in meanness from their own frustration, or get so frustrated that they give up altogether and move on to someone or something else. Sometimes we just stop asking at all and accept that we will always feel perpetually misunderstood and different, outsiders set aside from everyone else. Or we learn to adapt in other ways to get our needs met through projectionmirroringseximpulsive behaviors, things that pull others close to us in relationships.
What’s more. Often people with Borderline Personality Disorder lack the emotional language to express what it is they are feeling. [1] Even if we know what it is we’re experiencing someone with BPD may lack the eloquence to accurately portray that to someone else. As cliché as it may seem, I think this is why a lot of depressed people write poetry and create art. It’s often easier to convey how it is we feel through pictures and music than to describe a concept in a way that will allow others to understand. Keeping in mind that often people with BPD don’t understand what it is their feeling. If you’ve ever experienced depersonalization or derealization, it’s a really heady feeling. I had no idea what it was that was going on with me to make me feel like I was floating outside of my own head. It sounds crazy! It took a lot of internet searching and finding a therapist who specialized in this sort of thing before it was confirmed for me that I had a dissociative disorder. Now try explaining this experience to someone who has never experienced it themselves and also has no clue that this state of being exists.
It’s often very difficult to communicate because people with BPD perceive and feel in a way that is different than most people do. How we feel doesn’t necessarily make sense to people without BPD. I remember getting extremely frustrated, extremely tired, and ultimately extremely angry when I would try to explain what I was going through only to have the other person try to rationalize it in their own way or blow off what I was saying as me getting worked up over nothing. It’s not nothing. You may not understand it, but our feelings are valid because we are experiencing them, and telling us that it’s in our head or that things aren’t as bad as they seem and walking away, just leaves us feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and alone. If this happens often enough, we shut down. At least I do. I quit going to people for help. I quit trying. And after a while the idea of asking for help stopped occurring to me at all. It feels like no one will understand because no one listens. Or they won’t understand because their normalized experience is so different than ours that they simply can’t feel what we feel. It’s difficult.
When we’re lead by our emotions, the things we think we need may not actually be the best thing for us either. We’re often so sensitive and highly emotional that our communication can be misleading. Not intentionally but when our emotions are SO extreme and SO changeable what we need can be as extreme and changeable as the emotions that accompany them. What we think we need in the moment may not be what will really ease our anxiety.  What we actually need is often left unexpressed. If you have a partner or loved one with BPD it’s important to pay attention to what triggers them, and what brings about periods of calm in their life. Look for the things left unexpressed.
If we go back a long ways to when I started talking about Schema Therapy there are 5 core emotional needs for all human beings. Early Maladaptive Schemas and coping mechanisms result from unmet core emotional needs in childhood or early adolescence and continue on into adulthood. They’re basic and general but a good place to begin.
            1.      Secure attachments to others (includes safety, stability, nurturance and acceptance)
2.      Autonomy, competence, and sense of identity
3.      Freedom to express valid needs and emotions
4.      Spontaneity and play
5.      Realistic limits and self-control
So keep your eyes open and try to figure out what it is that is at the core of the problem, regardless of what is being said. Above all, be patient. Validate the other person’s feelings. And don’t give up. It’s important to develop a relationship of trust. It can also be very helpful to develop a common vocabulary to help one another communicate effectively and develop the skill necessary for effective communication.  [2] It takes time to develop emotional language when you haven’t previously had it. But it is possible.

{July 21, 2012}   Angels (trigger warning)

Pain. Pain. Pain.

Do you believe in angels? I want one right now, to descend upon me, cradle me, wipe the tears, soothe and make me know that through it all she will be there. Hold me tight and stroke the demons away. And I can relax, truly relax, knowing that a guardian is with me, that I can be safe, with a guardian to lock the doors and man the fort. Give me the will to breathe, to cry, to bring all that is weak to the front with no embarrassment or insecurity of judgement. To stay through the end and ensure the world would not come to my door till the strength within me rose again.

When you die, or come close to dying, as I have, your physical body goes through such pain, I remember screaming at the paramedics that my body felt it was on fire, that things were creeping through my legs, unbearably so, I yelled and begged for relief, but it seemed no one could see, hear or understand, and later i wondered was I even speaking aloud. Then comes the peace, like a blanket enveloping slowly, till I am cocooned and the tension drains and what may be heaven settles like a smile over my body. Hallucinations, people that I loved came and went, which seemed real, like I could reach out and touch, I believed there were there, with me, palpably so, then they would dissipate and I would be talking to thin air in my delerium. I know there is peace in the afterlife, in being born again, I’ve made it halfway there and each time, there has been no horror, just comfort and relief, all the aches and pains, the dragons, the Amanda’s, they go away, because I’ve brought them home.

Do you believe in angels?

et cetera
A Forgetful Traveler

Remembering the world one blog post at a time

Life after BPD

Life after Borderline Personality Disorder; making a life worth living through love, laughter, positivity and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy


The secret life of high-functioning borderline personality disorder.

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