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 projection,mirroringseximpulsive 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. 

{October 23, 2012}   How much does rejection hurt?


How much does rejection hurt? As much as depression hurts without the Cymbalta to help.

Took 2 more steps up my ladder to the flame today, it’s starting to singe. Yesterday the money woes started to catch up with me, that I shut it down, turned it off and ignored it. What more would it do than add to the despair. Today rejection struck another blow at a vulnerable point, my Achilles heel.

How do I describe the rejection of BPD. We are so vulnerable to rejection that I call it our Achilles heel, a tiny prompt that even hints at rejection spirals into inconsolable sorrow and internal self-flagellation of how unworthy we are. For me, it hits like a tsunami, immediate and encompassing that I feel like I cannot breathe and the tears come like someone has just punched me in the gut or thrown me facedown onto a concrete floor. As it continues nausea builds at how unworthy I am  that I want to vomit myself out.

I write this feeling the vice grip of steel bands around my heart and lungs, trying to focus on limiting the spread. I won’t go into the mitigating event because my focus right now is control. I turned on the TV immediately to find a distraction that I could concentrate on while I got my tears and breathing under control enough to move. Even now, an hour later, any backwards thought brings the force of tears to brim over and I have to focus on here and now, writing this blog with no other thought on my mind. I have the radio on too, LOUD.

I am at my mother’s house to have additional distraction, albeit I don’t talk to her about what is going on, I attributed my agitation to stress over my lack of a job and writing this as “work”. I am sure she may think my red eyes are a bit off but there’s always an excuse for everything.

My gut wants me to tune out the pain and not face it head on. I do need to face it and explain what I am feeling to the object of my rejection, so I can let it out. Our exercise in DBT was to opposite action. I want to curl into a ball at home, turn into the blankets and cry till nothing will come out anymore. Turn every form of communication of and just let the hurt suffuse me, not bother to do the work, and sink into the pain and my hatred of myself.

At this juncture I know what I need to do but I don’t know what I will do. I need to stay moving and engaged to not let it take over. Go out, don’t go home, use my skills to face it and explain it, knowing “this too shall pass”, it will always pass once I hump the hardest part of the next 12-24 hours and start the journey down without dissociating.


{October 22, 2012}   Trazadone Troubled Thoughts

ImageSleep has been scarce the last few days. My mind is a racquetball court with 20 balls simultaneously ricocheting at full speed. I cannot turn it off even with all my tools to focus on breath, to let them pass through, to imagine them floating away, they come fast and furious and varied in their focus from the mundane to the troubled.

Trazadone is my go-to sleep aid, been on this pill for 8 years to sleep at night. When I am in an episode I will need a Trazadone and a Clonazepam to ease me down and out. No pill=no sleep for me, and though some may say it is psychosomatic, I have more than proven it is not, my mind is too full of voices, thoughts, guilts, tangents to ever let me rest.

Breathe I say to myself concentrate on the breath, but the thoughts are like hounds at bay, pushing up against my invisible barrier for any moment that I lapse to sneak in, time and time again, its exhausting. I’m exhausted from last night, arranging and re-arranging myself to get comfortable knowing full well its inside that needs to get comfortable not the outside.Image

Trazadone normally works great but like the last few nights it just cannot stand up to my BPD.

{October 19, 2012}   Judged and Damned

BPD relationships or at least my relationship reminds me of the scales of justice, with weight tipping from one side to another and the challenge is to keep it level or be judged and damned, gavel to the head.

It is so easy to tip too far in one direction, which for me is wanting and needing to spend time with him excluding everything else. The issue is, when the scale tips too far over I am overwhelmed with my own emotion and feel like I am losing myself. I have a little voice that tells me to divide my time, stay home, do something for myself, pace myself but the lure of closeness is a drug, I fear if I don’t get as much as I can he will go away or worse yet, find something better. Sometimes it is as base as I am swept by the tide and I cannot swim against it so when I finally hit shore, I am exhausted.

What my head doesn’t always realize is we (head and I) need space and we need to trust that just because he is out of sight does not mean I am out of his mind, and find the trust to function with faith he will be there the next hour, the next day and not be done with me. Easier said then done because I love the time but the more time I spend the more attuned I get to little ticks and sensitivities, and my emotions get heightened where the tiniest bit of an argument, disagreement, or even a look will pop the balloon.

Popping the balloon is not a good place, it weeps of instability, fragility and an open sore of vulnerability. Once popped, it’s just a pain trying t get it back together again, everything is a lip quivering, heart thudding, anxiety that is tremulous to control and takes days to right.

So I speak from experience as this is what happened to me this week. Overdose and now facing the withdrawal symptoms while simultaneously wondering if he thinks I am a psychotic mess to be breaking down at the drop of a pin (straight into my balloon).

{October 19, 2012}   Step by step

Been absent from this space for a while.

My apologies.

I have been working hard on my DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) and surprise-surprise I feel a difference in my ability to control some of my triggers, moods and episodes. A lot of what I am learning in group class I have ascribed to before but another part of the learning is being in a group, knowing that I am not alone, and though it sounds, strange, watching others face the same trials and tribulations I do. We are a very eclectic and varied group of people, and just like me, from the outside you would never know how much we suffer.

Having a reminder every week to practice, to think, to read helps maintain the DBT at top of my mind when situations and/or triggers arise. Not to say that all is well and swell 🙂 A lot more ahead but this is a twinkle in the eye of recovery.

Heading up to the inferno

This week had been a surprisingly hard week but on the flip side a good week. I say this because this would be the kind of week that would send me straight down into the pits of BPD hell and damnation. Every button, every push has compounded one on top of the other that its been a tightrope of a dance, spins, cartwheels. I call it my staircase, wach little trigger, though it may seem inconsequential on its own takes me one more step up the flight of stairs. For instance, I had a minor operation at the beginning of the week that though not threatening was stressful (1 step), scheduling for an event got very mixed up with lots of parties looking at me (2 steps), my car battery died in the rain and wind (3 steps up), bad sleep (higher we go), had a birthday party to arrange… Imagine each step gets closer to a burning inferno and so each step gets hotter and hotter and you react stronger and  hurt more and more and the final few steps, though they are the same height as the ones you took early on, you are now much higher and almost on fire.


I pretty much was close to diving into the inferno earlier in the week, and I have taken a few steps back down but a series of charged scenarios this weekend threaten to send me back up. My goal is to come all the way back down the flight but that will take a heck of a lot of distress tolerance skills and calmness around me. The good part is, I have come down a few steps and though I keep stepping up and down, at least I can come down a little, versus in the past where I would be hurling up 2 steps at a time.

I don’t know what the end of this weekend will bring, but I hope it send me to the basement.


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

Bi-polar parenting

Thoughts and ideas

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