Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy

Another night of therapy comes and goes. Therapist is so positive sometimes I wonder if she listens to me or is able to be realistic. Then again, maybe I’m too ready to believe the negative. I expect the worse without hoping for or even thinking towards the best.  Every week she tells me I’m a good person and a good friend, a joy to work with. I hear her words, but I still feel like she must be talking about someone else, some other idea of me that only she sees because I am a bad person. Though the people around me seem to support her to. I don’t know how to see myself as ‘good’, or at the least ‘not bad’. 

Therapist asked about the situation with Roommate. I talked to Roommate a few days ago. She thinks staying the full 6 months until the end of our next lease cycle is very reasonable. It’ll even give her more time to save and be more financially secure as well. That’s a huge relief to me. The holidays, especially December, is such a hectic time for everyone, and so fiscally strenuous, I couldn’t think of a worse time to add more stress. We ended up having dinner together and just spending a couple hours chatting. She also brought up that she wants to hang out more because we haven’t been doing that for a while. I can’t tell you how much better that made me feel. I’d been thinking the same thing, but you know me, I don’t think anyone remembers me when I’m not around, so to hear that she does think about me and wants to hang out more is reassuring. It gives me hope that even when she does move out we’ll be able to stay in touch and that she wants to make the effort to keep me in her life.
Reassurance. I hate that I need so much of it sometimes. I’m always afraid to ask for it. The thought of coming across as needy or clingy grates at me so I bury how much I need to hear certain things. This creates its own problems of self-doubt and loneliness though. Traits that I feel make me weak and bad. If I feel these things are bad, I can only believe that other people will believe it too, and who wants to be around someone like that? So I put on a mask of stone and solitude and slip slowly into myself. And really, who wants to constantly expound on the importance of having a particular person in their life? I’m sure it would get annoying after a while. I just can’t allow myself to come across as the kind of person that needs this. I don’t want to be an annoyance or a burden. A burden. That’s what I imagine having to provide this constant reassurance would be. I don’t want to be a burden on the people I care about. I should be able to take care of them, not a burden when they’re dealing with their own stuff.
Therapist was thrilled that Roommate gave me this kind of validation though. She also noticed that I didn’t seem to be personalizing Roommates reasons for moving out, and amazingly, I realized she was right. Roommate and I are good friends, she still wants me in her life, in no way is this meant as a way to surreptitiously end our friendship, she’s is just approaching a time in her life where she needs to take a new step. I’m going to miss her, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do and I can’t even conceive of living with someone else yet, but at least I don’t feel like it’s my fault and I don’t think I’ll lose her friendship.  
Therapist doesn’t think I’m an alcoholic either. Yay for me. If I were to start drinking multiple bottles of wine by myself every weekend; that would be a concern. If I wanted to stop drinking, but felt compelled to pour myself another glass and couldn’t stop; that would be a definite problem. The choice to sit down and drink, even a lot, as a conscious decision is pretty normal, though possibly not the best judgment. So she’s not worried about that so much, surprisingly, my trying to pick a fight with Friend was. That was what she found interesting. She said clearly I still have a lot of anger towards him that I’m trying to repress. And she’s right. I still have moments where I don’t understand why he would remain with someone like her when there seemed to be so much more passion in our attraction. That he does makes me feel like I must be even less worthy of a person if I rank below that. The displays of affection he/they put on in front of me, is like a constant jab reminding me of what was taken away. It’s compounded by the fact that I have so little respect for the kind of person that woman is which makes me doubt how much I can really respect myself. It’s the power that these things still have over me that really makes me angry. Alcohol sort of releases that cork that I’ve used to help bottle up my feelings. We talked a lot about expressing anger. I don’t often see my anger expressed in a healthy manner. I rage, I drink, I pick fights, I cut, when I was younger I would kick down doors and put my fist through walls and windows. I do have one healthy outlet for my anger, and that’s the gym. Running and working out are at least one way to channel that aggression into a constructive outcome. Therapist had a homework assignment for me but she forgot it at home so next week we’ll see what my formal assignment is. This week I’m to start getting back into my journaling which I’ve sort of let slip. Bad girl.
Med Update: The Pristiq seems to be working well for me. My weight is fluxuating a little, but I think this is more due to stress then the medication. My energy has been really good too. My mood does seem to be a little higher on average. My head is clear. I can concentrate better. I’m more productive at work. And so far it doesn’t seem like I’m having any side effects at all. Except the dreams. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer, but lately my dreams have been EPIC. I feel like I’ve lived days and nights between the time I lay down and the time I wake up.
Then again, that might just be the excessive sleeping I’ve been doing.  That’s been a switch from my insomnia for sure. For the last few weeks all I’ve wanted to do is read and sleep.  I found myself falling asleep at 8:30p the other night! I think I must have turned 70 at my last birthday haha. I’ve been so stressed out from my job and from people it’s all I’ve had the strength to do. I’ve almost completely withdrawn from the world around me, losing myself in the escapism of my books. Except for this blog I’ve shunned tv (not that I watch tv), movies, and even the internet. Therapist sort of dismissed this as needing some down time. I’m not so sure. I’ve been completely incapable of facing the real world. Completely cutting myself off from the outside. As soon as I’m home from work I shut down and retreat into the fantasy world of my books. Or maybe I’m just a little obsessive and this book series is really JUST THAT GOOD. Haha. Nah, idk.  I do feel like I should make an effort to get back out into the world though. Maybe branch out and expand my circle of friends. I still fight with myself regarding how close I should be to Friend. I’m afraid of losing him, but I don’t know how good it is for me to have him so close. I do know that spending more time with Roommate is a wonderful idea though and we are already making plans to do stuff this weekend =)
All in all therapist thinks I’m making a lot of progress. I’m in a pretty stable place, even a pretty stable headspace for me. I do sort of feel like I’m floating though. I’ve had many days where I question what my purpose here even is. I feel like I’m living each day simply to see the next and I wonder if that’s enough. Is that all there is? I’m missing something. There’s a hole somewhere that still needs to be filled to really ground me to where I am, and I’m just not sure what it is.

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – Idealization & Devaluation

I forgot to post about therapy this week because my work week has been so freaking busy. So here it is. Late, but I got some important stuff figured out…

Let’s get the bulimic stuff out of the way first, shall we? Therapist has come to the conclusion that clearly my bulimia is triggered by being alone. Heh, gee, ya think? She did mention a theory that I found interesting. She said that eating disorders are correlated to relationship issues; connected with issues in childhood revolving around letting go or interrupted relationships. This theory makes absolute sense in connection to Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ll have to think on this more but I can definitely see how this would fit. At least in part. I still believe that a lot of my issues have to do with control and a need to be ‘perfect’. We’re working on ruling out things that trigger me and working on ways to preemptively prepare myself and avoid having to engage this behavior.


The really important thing we talked about?
My relationship with Friend is turning into a healthy friendship. Therapist seems to think most people can’t do that. She thinks it’s because I’m a sophisticated thinker. I think I’m a glutton for punishment… but after a while you get used to it and it’s not as harsh anymore. You build up a tolerance and pretty soon it doesn’t hurt you so much anymore. Ok, maybe it’s not all that. Maybe it’s not that at all. I don’t think it’s because I have some sophisticated point of view though. I’m afraid of losing him. I cannot let go of people. Not unless they’ve done something truly devastating and he simply hasn’t. In fact, other than being a little clueless since the sexual element of our relationship subsided he’s really been nothing but good to me. That doesn’t mean that things don’t still dig at me occasionally. It’s still painful for me to see him putting so much effort into a loveless marriage but frankly, do I really want to be with someone that is blinded to the realities of his life? No, not really. Plus I’m moving on and that helps. I’m not going to lie. Watching him have a stifled, sexless, awkward marriage while I’m out living it up… well, I’m amused. At the same time… I’ve stopped pushing away. For months now I’ve been trying to find some kind of balance with him. No, I haven’t told him this. I’m trying to figure out myself and how I fit with him. For months I was cool, reserved and very aloof with him. Distant. I refused to talk about personal stuff. I shut him down when he tried to talk about personal stuff with me. I kept conversation and interaction familiar and platonic, but removed. I’ve noticed over the past month though, that I’m reattaching to him, in a healthier way.


I idealized our friendship, our relationship. I’d convinced myself that he was absolutely perfect. Everything we shared, had in common, it MEANT that we were right to be together. And maybe I’m not entirely crazy in my thinking, but the fact of the matter is he’s married and that’s not going to change. (Reminder: He’s in an open marriage. His wife knew about the full extent of our relationship.)  When things changed I was utterly disillusioned but being Borderline I’m not able to make a smooth transition from one state to another. Change makes me panic and I immediately devalued him and hated his wife. At the same time I was afraid of losing him from my life entirely. I was in constant conflict about whether he should even be in my life and not being able to fathom losing my friend. I was pain personified and I didn’t know how to make it stop so I let it ride. I can deal with pain. It’s so familiar to me I almost don’t know how to function without it. But I’m learning. And things have slowly been changing with me, in regards to him, so that I am able to enjoy spending time with him, and not vilify him. Or idealize him.


Some things he did that were incredibly helpful to this process: When we first changed our relationship he’d written me a letter telling me he did love me as a friend and let me know just how much our friendship meant to him. I’m not going to lie and say I believed a word he said. Everyone lies. But it’s been nearly 6 months now and I can look back on that letter and see that the things he’d said still seem to hold true. He’s still here. He gave me the space I needed without pushing me, and didn’t leave. Even when I was horrible to him, even when I said things to make him angry, to push him away, to try to force his hand… he called me on my behavior and didn’t let me run away.

I’m beginning to think that getting past that first major devaluation in a relationship is an important step for someone with BPD. I’d tentatively wager that going through that first major devaluation is probably the best thing for a friendship/relationship in the long run. It shows that you can come through such a thing intact, and that it is possible to have relationships that continue to thrive even after, which will cultivate a new kind of trust. That lasts. At least, that’s what I’m coming to understand currently.

Check it out. Accidental relationship hope =)
How did I learn to channel my anger….

Therapist often tells me that I have a calm, healing presence. I almost always counter this with ‘now, I didn’t used to’.  To which she responds: I just can’t imagine it, you don’t appear that way at all. Of course you wouldn’t see that, you’ve only known me for 8 months. You didn’t know me when I was destroying my house, kicking down doors and putting my fist through plate glass. I did realize that I had a major turning point when I began my major costuming endeavor though. About 6 years ago I did my first major costuming vacation. I spent a month making 13 full outfits. I channeled all of my attention and energy into that one goal and was rewarded with one of the happiest, peaceful and most freeing experiences of my life. I don’t think I realized it consciously until recently, but having a creative out (as I mention way back in Escapism) is crucial for helping me calm my anger. That or fighting really. I did mixed martial arts for 15 years and am looking to get back into it. It’s a safer form for my aggression, but as that’s not currently on my agenda… art! Finding something you love, something you can immerse yourself in…. is therapeutic all in and of its own.

That’s not to say it always works or that I’m not still angry. I am incredibly angry. All the time. But having resources to focus it are crucial.

Therapist is also happy that I’m cultivating a new relationship with my Lady Friend. She noted that I seem to be incredibly comfortable in my sexuality. I consider myself bisexual? Yeah, I suppose. Really, I’m just sexual. The frequency of my problems and personal issues are GREATLY reduced with women, and being monogamous with men is always disastrous for me. I can be with a woman in a monogamous relationship and be content, but if I’m in a monogamous relationship with a man I feel like I’m denying a part of myself and I become incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin and in the relationship until I’m afraid it’s going to end. Yes, my parents know and accept this. Without problem, without hesitation. As far as I know. It’s not really up for discussion, I just let them know and they can choose to support me or not, but they always have.  She also thought to allay my fears that things were not sexually normal. I’m just so used to using sex as a tool, that in a healthy relationship these things progress organically and will happen when they do. Which is a relief. So odd for me though. I’m just, not used to this. Therapist is actually very proud of me for allowing myself to take safe risks. With all of the problems I have letting people close to me, I’m allowing myself another chance. And I’m doing it differently. I’m trying to remember how my past relationships have gone and I’m actively trying to remember that I need to do things differently.  It’s only been a month, and traditionally it takes a little longer for my real crazy to kick in when it comes to relationships, but I am doing things differently and so far it seems to be making a very beneficial difference. 

Pulling the trigger

Unfortunately I have a lot of these.
– Being alone when I need friends (specific friends) – my loneliness is the worst trigger I have.
– My best friend not texting or IMing back – feeling ignored, abandoned, automatically thinking I’d done something wrong that caused this lack of attention.
– Seeing women that I wish I looked like.
– A friend sending me artistic nudes – reminding me of how I used to look or thinking that since I don’t look that way I am not good enough in his eyes.
– Seeing highly stylized clothing that I love but can’t yet pull off.  
– Going over my calorie count for the day – loss of self imposed control .
– Clothes not fitting right – remind of control lost.
– Not getting enough sleep.
(I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting)
– Finding something from friends lost. Thoughts/situations that remind me of them…  
Causes me to drink. Causes me to eat more. Causes me to obsess about my weight. Causes me to indulge my bulimia (purging and exercise). Causes me to feel like I have failed myself. Lost control of the structure I’ve imposed on myself to fix my body image. Making me so self conscious of my mistake that I can’t bear to let anyone else see me. Compounding my loneliness. Restarting the cycle. Once I’ve lost control for the night, it feels like the entire day has been ruined. That there is no point continuing to try. I might as well continue to indulge the spiral. Spinning down into the dark recesses of my mind. A black hole of cyclic thinking. Nothing solid to hold onto to pull myself back from the horizon of events about to unfold. Sucking me into a vortex from which there is no escape.
I drink to escape my own mind. I want it to dull the racing that pushes me towards the edge faster. I’ve begun to realize that this has exactly the opposite effect. It may slow my thoughts, but it doesn’t change their nature. Knowing this, I’ve been able to suffer this less often. I look to more healthy means of escapism (discuss more here) to distract myself.
I don’t weigh myself everyday or almost ever. I can’t bear the thought of the scale. I measure my waist. I go by how my clothes fit. If they don’t give me what I want to see, I obsess. Every time I renew my promises to work on it. My dedication is restored, but in the mean time, I am more depressed because I’ve let my goal slip from my grasp. I work on it, but everything seems hopeless. Failure.
I have the unfortunate tendency to see myself as either all good, or all bad. If I maintain my structure for the day I have done well. I am good. If I’ve slipped off the path I want to travel I feel worthless. Lost my control. I don’t even have the strength to get through one more day on track. I am bad. I am either white or I am black. There are no shades of grey when it comes to myself. This something my therapist has me working on. I remind myself that one day does not destroy the progress that I’ve made.
I’ve learned to look at every day as a new opportunity. One day does not determine the rest of my life. Does not end my world. I may not have been exactly what I wanted the day before. I may have messed up, but the next day is a new chance. I remind myself that if something is really important to me, I have to work on it. I have to put in real effort. There is no immediate gratification when I am trying to change my lifestyle. For as much as I want change right now I need to remind myself that some things take time, but as long as I am willing to push myself, I will reach my goals. There’s always another opportunity to reaffirm what I want for myself, and to work towards it.  
It also helps me to set longer term goals, giving me something to aim for. This allows me some room to be more flexible, to be less rigid in my thinking. Less black and white.
– Seeing bloody images.
– Friends complaining about tiny injuries.
– Beautiful scars.
– Needing attention – Being so alone, removed from the world, that I can’t/won’t be out with friends.
I also have a tendency to punish myself. To remind me that what I did was not acceptable. Traditionally this has manifested as self harm or damaging thoughts. Over the last few months though these thoughts have disappeared. Self harm is almost always on my mind even though I very rarely act on it. My control has gotten very good and I only act on it maybe a couple times a year. But the thoughts are always there at the back of my mind. Until a couple months ago. That I haven’t had these thoughts, is something new, something good. I didn’t even realize that they were missing until yesterday. I felt I messed up, but instead of wanting to punish myself I reminded myself that I could start again in the morning. That this one incident wasn’t a permanent mark. At least, not as long as I didn’t leave one (I mean this figuratively as much as literally). I still feel like yesterday was an all bad day for me, but I have hope that today will be better. That I can have the will power to set me back where I want to be.  There are still days I’m so lonely and really need friends, but the other three no longer seem to hold any power of me. That’s an accomplishment all on its own.
If I can overcome some of the more destructive triggers I have, there’s hope that I can overcome the rest.  

Escapism

I’m always trying to escape being trapped in my own head, be it activities, movies, reading, sex, whatever. I alternate between extreme introversion and extreme extroversion. There’s rarely a middle ground. Both forms of temperament tend to be aimed at escapism from my own headspace. To counter a mind open to ruminating and racing thoughts. I would say to keep me from being bored, but I’m almost never bored. I don’t understand the concept. I always have approximately a million things I could be doing no matter the situation. My shoulder bag has notebooks, sketchpads, books, drawing and writing utensils, a small laptop, all things aimed at keeping my brain busy.
I read, write, draw, create costumes, sew, cook, bake. All things that I need to focus my full attention on in order to complete. Or I fight, fuck, dance… all things that require no thought and full action, distract from my thoughts.
I love to read. I can submerge myself in scientific periodicals and engage my mind in clinical thoughts. Or delve into mythos and fantasy, transporting myself into an entirely different world. A world that is not this one. When my mind is so focused somewhere else, it’s impossible for me to focus on myself.
Movies are another favorite past time. I even rate how good a movie is by how well it holds my attention. If my mind wanders off during a film it couldn’t have been that great because it didn’t hold my interest fully.
Masquerade events are a full process. I generally create all my own costumes from scratch so it gives me time to occupy my evenings leading up to it. Putting on my clothes I can put on a persona and slip into a fantasy role.
Drawing is a wonder. When I have an image in mind I can lose myself for hours designing, drawing, shading. Pour my heart and my energy onto paper and the time just slips away.
Cooking and baking is twofold because it’s something I do for other people. It’s one of the ways I show affection, take care of the people in my life. I create elaborate multi course meals and consume myself with the prep work. Everything timed just so every minute is filled. While one thing is baking, another is being prepped or sautéed or boiled. While some thing simmers another fries. I orchestrate so many things at any given time I’m a mad rush of pots, pans, and delicious smells.
I wonder if I do this on purpose to stave off boredom, or if there are other underlying reasons. I wonder what would happen if I stopped distracting myself; left myself alone with my thoughts. I imagine nothing good. I tend to feel hollow, empty. Filling the minutes fills my life, keeps it from slipping away into obscurity. Would I discover some previously uncovered truth? Or unearth a purposefully buried trauma?  If I’m not constantly occupied I feel like I have no purpose. On the plus side, I tend to be very productive.
It often feels like everything is frantic rush to or from occupying my mind and time. Trying to forget and trying to hold on.