Tuesday, 13 February 2018
As human beings, we tend to approach hardship with conditions. Conditions that one, we will always get what we want, and two, conditions that won't exceed our comfort levels. Unfortunately, when conflict arises, we cannot avoid conditioning of other people. We need to radically accept that not everyone is going to meet our needs, no matter how many 'right' or 'logical' boxes we tick off in our heads. Sometimes your needs aren't going to be met, and there are certain skills you can use to think about both people involved. However sometimes emotion mind will take over, and you might not be able to salvage the relationship. The damage may have already been caused.
To me, nothing isn't too hard to try to make amends if you show great amounts of willingness. You will meet people who aren't willing to meet you halfway. It's painful, it hurts and its frustrating as all hell. However to stay in the present moment and not be clouded by your emotions is extremely HARD and challenging- no matter how much DBT/therapy/mindfulness skills you have accumulated. There are going to be times you cannot live up to peoples expectations of you. If you have a few weeks where your skill have not been present, THAT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU OR DEFINE YOU AS A HUMAN BEING. Sometimes your mental health can be beyond your own control at the time. People have to be understanding. There is accountability after the emotions have surfaced and you have unhealthy let them out. Due to triggers, trauma and other aspects of your life impacting you at the time. This is a normal reaction to PAIN you will be feeling. No one else gets to say if you are mentally impaired or not mentally impaired. Only you know how you feel and only you can express that. If you are invalidated, ignored and dismissed, reactive behaviours may happen, no matter how much therapy you do. Take this as a sign you still have some more work to do and some room for more growth to occur. There is nothing right or wrong with that. It is what it is.
We all should be more mindful of how we try to ultimately condition people when they behave a way that we don't agree with. We all experience our pain and trauma in different ways, and we all express that pain and trauma in different ways. Sometimes people will get hurt UNINTENTIONALLY. Even the most self-aware people still haven't mastered the skills they have learnt. That's life though. It changes so rapidly that sometimes we are unprepared. Sometimes our friends let us down, sometimes conflict will happen with people you cherish the most and sometimes hurt on both parties will happen. I believe the best way to deal with this is learning about others triggers, instead of shutting them down when they are impaired in a moment saying 'hey carissa, you seem to be lashing out. What is happening to you right now and what can I do to help?'. We tend to respond to people we care about with more heightened emotions due to blaming ourselves or feeling shame and guilt when we cant meet their needs. I think the first step to helping someone is listening to what they need rather than dismissing what they need.
We cannot help only on conditions and ultimatums. As soon as you say 'I only support you under these conditions', it creates shame and guilt for the other person who is experiencing an impairment or episode at the time. Even if you are in therapy, you are still prone to reacting to pain and stress due to past memories. I feel lately people have placed high expectations on me to be okay because I have learnt all these skills. The trick to DBT is practising them for a prolonged period of time. I have only altered my life for 7 months, there is still 20 plus years where all I behaved was in a manner where I couldn't cope and was endangering my life. These behaviours still can surface depending on the current situation I may be experiencing. I don't respond to being cared for under conditions. I respond well to being cared for with acceptance and validation. We aren't allowed to dictate or say some is 'wrong' for the way they react when they are hurt. Healing can occur when both parties are willing to come together and move forward together. Leave the people behind who want to stay comfortable. It is them who have some more growing to do in their own time. Yours is now.
Friday, 9 February 2018
What I have learnt lately is people have a very black and white view when it comes to recovery. Recovery to me is complex. For people troubling to relate, just say you have a bone fracture that comes with a few complications. You need to take great care to make sure you can stabilise your bone again so it can function properly. However, life happens and there are risks of the bone breaking again. You can be careful and be on top of it as much as you like, but circumstances can change and injure you again. Just like mental illness. I am in recovery, however, that does not rule out that I may become sick again. It doesn't mean I am 'cured' of my mental illness. It means I still have to work extra hard to manage the illness to the best of my ability. At the moment I am doing the best I can.
I have been lashing out to people around me I didn't think I had to even question my friendships with. I have been excluded and I feel as soon as I couldn't captain my own ship, I was overboard without a life jacket and they just watched. I am splashing around, yelling and begging for someone to lend me a hand. Except they still watch. Then when I am eventually yelling, they excuse why they couldn't help me. When I am the first to lean over and grab their hands, hoisting them up when they felt like they were out of depth.
I believe the pressure that comes with trying to help someone in recovery really crumbles people. People in need are thrown into the 'too hard' basket because they 'don't know how to help'. The key to helping someone who is experiencing distress is trying to meet their needs. Offering them support, suggesting to see them, grab a coffee. Life happens and we are all busy. However, I don't believe friends are too busy to help a friend out in need. Especially a friend who treats a friendship unconditionally like I have with people in my past. I know words are thrown around impulsively when emotions are flying left right and centre. However, it is easy to make amends with the people you care about. That's if you really want to show you care.
Recovery isn't as simple as you assume. What is possibly the most daunting thing I have discovered during my recovery is that some people I was surrounding myself with only wanted to be around me when I was well and healthy. That expectation placed on me is consuming and demanding. I felt like I must be well at all costs otherwise I would be excluded from a social circle. No one should have to feel that way. I am able to reflect on my behaviours and I am willing to forgive, however when I search for some clarity and forgiveness I must be mindful of everyone else. It's something I struggle with internally. I am strong, but I do have moments where I do need care and nurture that I give out. I don't think that is much of an ask.
We all must strive to change our unrealistic views on recovery. If you see someone with a broken leg, empathy can be shown and help will be offered. But when you see someone lashing out from pain buried deep inside them and externally trying to get it out, you dont offer the hand. You watch them lag behind, simply viewing it as a choice rather than an injury. Its an injury of a different kind, and one that can heal quickly if you open your mind and heart.
Saturday, 3 February 2018
The cost of this blown circuit is emotion frozen within the body. In other words, we often unconsciously stop feeling our trauma partway into it, like a movie that is still going after the sound has been turned off. We cannot heal until we move fully through that trauma, including all the feelings of the event
Here's a feeling you thought you had forgotten. An unconvincing mechanism used to deflect the pain entering my bones again. A pain enough to shatter anyone's recovery process. Its like hands clasping onto your airways, your vision becomes blurred and you become so disconnected from your surrounding you will claw onto anything that is closest to you. Except you weren't aware at that very moment you were feeling so petrified by your open vulnerability you decide to push what you subconsciously think is the closest thing to you. Then when their eyes widen at the very scene of your car crash of emotions plunging into their own boundaries without any given notice and without any warning of your shift of character, they have no hesitation and regardless of how many times you drove to them on a Friday night, saw them ina white gown shovelling down medications that convince themselves that one day they are going to wake up and this consuming, dampening waves of emotions won't wash them out anymore, they still define you. They still heckle you. They rip you with their own judgments when you have seen their shift in character through their own mental illness journey. They still look down on you. They will still spit on you no matter how much you beg and plead with them not to give up on you. They will offer a slippery hand, one that you reach out to but when the grasp comes it is so far away even though you felt like you could hold it whenever you were fearful. When you were at your wits ends. When you fell down from could nine that you have been sailing on for seven months.
I think the biggest suffering of our kind is assuming you know how someone feels. I have been guilty of labelling people's emotions after they have vocalised them to the best of their own ability. That said more about me. My taxing deflection had caused a lot of pain to others because I wasn't willing to accept that I had to take a hard look in the mirror at myself. I wasn't willing to accept that I was always going to have to work extra hard if I wanted to lead a life that was worthwhile. One that wasn't soaked with blood red rags wrapped around my wrist because someone could only see my surfaced facade I kept up for too long. Where I would wash outdated pills down my dry throat with the hope that these sleeping tablets lived up to its name 'sleeping'. Sleeping in the past was a thing I wanted forever. I wanted to be set free of the emotions everyone beckoned me to feel normal. That in order to live my own life, I must keep everyone comfortable around me.
A girl I once was having sexual connections to fill my chronic emptiness inside of me early last year came to the hospital with me after a self-harming incident. Turns out I had quinsy which is a complicated and severe version of tonsilitis. I was fearful of having a needle pricked into the back of my throat and she gazed at me, tear-filled eyes when I squirmed at the doctor saying it was going to be uncomfortable. She looked at me and said Carissa you will be fine, you love going out of your comfort zone. And everyone always views not being comfortable with a 'bad' thing. Its one of the most vital tools that have got me to the point I was/still am with my recovery. My comfort zone was bloodbaths in the basin, constriction of my neck with a belt, dizzy, tired filled eyes where my anxiety use to sink me into my bed for days on end, where I would drain all my energy into fighting with my partners who were never going to love me or be kind to me, I wanted that because I hated myself so much. The self-loathing was so consuming that it was my comfort zone I was not ready to step foot out of. Not until I started dialectical behavioural therapy. She was another stepping stone that lead me to recovery.
You see the thing with recovery is I am still very prone to relapsing. People often don't check the facts with someone who is hurting, for their own reasons and for their lack of understanding and skills needed to be able to really empathise with someone. We are quick to judge people when they are needed to be nurtured the most. A lot of it can be approached with the body language, communication and skill set to reach their needs during a dangerous and distressing time of their life. To assume you really know how someone feels without checking the facts can cause further stigmatising behaviours towards someone who is trying their very best. Sure it hurts like hell to see someone crumble when it comes to mental health. It's scary, messy and confronting. However at the end of the day, if this person means something to you, like as much as you convince yourself they do, you would check the facts. You won't assume. You will LISTEN as they heavily pour their heart and soul to you when they feel like they are spiralling again. You would hope that you would treat them like they treat you on your lowest days. With the heart and compassion, they have always given you, no matter how fucked up they thought your reactions are.
It's like the time he left you. Like she left me. The pain is overbearing when you lay your cards on the table like that. When you think about how you weren't good enough, how they are happier with someone else. That they will actually love someone else because to yourself you seem so unloveable. When in reality, you can turn this pain around and become untouchable. Untouchable in the sense you won't be a force to be reckoned with. That you won't waste time wallowing on the surface because that's where people feel comfortable. Love is found when you become uncomfortable. That rooted growth that comes after you work. The hard work will make your knees stained with dirt when you fall to the ground, however, your arms become strong each time you pull yourself back up. When you care for yourself enough to keep growing even though the circuit in your brain became fuzzy, you felt like you were dying again. But you didn't die. You did everything you could to survive. And I think that is the thing that speaks volumes. I think that is the thing that will remind you why you are here, still trying to be the best version of yourself even though peoples judgements have dug holes into your chest and you watched your tears pour out. You watched yourself nearly drown.
A week of hurting myself due to my impaired brain does not wipe clean the seven months of recovery I have had. That does not wipe clean the carer role I happily had for my friends around me, even if they cannot be here for me. I am still learning how to balance my give and expecting a bit of taking when I cant rustle up the courage to pick myself back up off the floor. I am highly capable of doing that, however, I wasn't recently. And I didn't want anyone to fix it for me. I wanted someone to hoist me up, dust me off a bit and say I am here for you Carissa, what can I do to help you.
I got that in the end. Even though in my expectations it was going to be from you, and you, and the others that are in our circle. I got the cup of tea, the late night 2am chats, the best friend visiting me every day in the hospital, a connection through you that you don't get to undermine when he understood me more than you could. To dictate a manipulation when you suffer at the very hands of the same diagnosis. The chaos continued in my head, then a message made such as this one made the noise quiet:
"Hey Carissa, I know I haven’t seen you or spoken to you in a while. But I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you. Recovery isn’t perfect and recovery doesn’t always make sense. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for letting me see your vulnerability - it gives me hope and it gives me the strength to keep going. I wish I had the courage to be so open with my mental health as you are - I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to hide my past conflicts and current struggles. Carissa, you are so powerful and so amazing. Thank you for existing. Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for surviving. Thank you for living the life you lead, because you make mine that much easier to grin and bare.
Keep going, I’m right there with you."
Then that is when everything came rushing back. The migraines are still there, but my wisdom outshining the hate we both threw at each other. I will always be there for you. And the other person that abandoned me. And the one who abandoned me before. If you really needed someone, I wouldn't leave you in the pain that you all left me in. And that says more about you than anything about me.
I will continue my recovery journey, and I will continue it with my head held high. I have acknowledged this time that I still need to seek that help when my life is in danger. I acknowledge that I still have to work through my fears of abandonment and core pain. I am angry and in pain, yes. But I don't blame you. I will only articulate to each and every person who hurts me how I feel so they can question themselves as much as you make me question my own self.
Recovery isnt black and white. Feelings come and go, and people handle fleeting emotionally intense periods of their own life to the best of their own abilities. No one is at fault, a conflict will happen when you care deeply about your core morals and values and change can happen. When you care deeply about the people around you that you try seek connections with, whether they end up being one-sided. Whether it be the way you anticipated or not, but it will happen. And it has happened for me, and I hope it happens for you, and you, and even you, the one who hurt me the most. And it has happened for me so I can continue to be the best version of myself for my own self. And I will never let anyone take that away from me.
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
I was just three years of age where I remember my first panic situation. I was in a cot in my room. Wrapped in my blanket that had a clown embroidered on it, a toddler is meant to feel secure in sleeping in a cot. However, for some reason this night always makes me tremble each time I try to bring the suppressed memory to the surface. My gland on my neck start to burn, my hands go clammy and the anxiety that comes with it often leaves me frazzled. The blanket was placed over my head with many bodies above me. Then my memory stops there, leaving me feeling blank. Whether it was innocent or whether it goes as deep as the trauma I feel, it's one thing that I will always ponder for the rest of my life. Its one thing that will always make me feel unsafe, that will always make my body feel unsettled and it will always be a memory I am scared to dig deeper into.
When I was fourteen years of age, my mother sent my sister and me to a school camp. The discovery of boys never seems to phase me. Perhaps could explain my sexuality and finding myself in years to come. One person was the tennis coach at the camp who was in charge. He seemed kind from face value, often giving me attention due to seeing how passionate I was when it came to playing a sport. We all were in the spa where he sat next to me. Five minutes later, I was running to the toilets as I started to have a panic attack. I left the camp feeling numb and that it was my fault. That it was okay because I must have given off gestures that I wanted him to touch me the way he did. It took me two days to tell my own Mother because of the shame that came with the non-consensual action against me at a sporting camp.
My stories aren't even the depth of what else I have experienced, and to be mindful I choose not to share it with everyone for safety reasons (triggering, painful for me, trauma). Even though I have chosen to not go into explicit detail, people seem to still have the audacity to invalidate people's own traumatic experiences. If it's too emotionally taxing, it can be dismissed. We are made to be silent for other peoples own 'comfortable'. People can avoid accountability for their own insecurities. However, avoiding accountability can be tolling for someone who was on the receiving end of these non-consensual acts.
So who can we blame for these acts where people seem to not be aware of people's boundaries? I firmly believe boundaries are crossed for lessons of growth and for own self-development. I have crossed boundaries in my past due to not being as self-aware as I thought I was. Can we blame people who cross continuous boundaries on their own pasts? On them not being self-aware? Or can we blame society for the way they define, box and label nearly every living thing under the sun. The conformity.
When it comes to sexual misconduct and sexual assault, there are the grey areas of the things I listed above. However, I am a firm believer people can change. I believe we also put enough education forward for this to not even occur in the first place. So why does it occur even when the person believes they are doing the right things? The logically list off all the things in their heads then find themselves in the most vulnerable terrifying situations. So I ask the question, why does this keep happening?
I will give you a few thought-provoking ideas. Firstly, when someone crosses a boundary and hurts you, its to do with them. You may have done everything logically correct to avoid a situation, however, the other person who projects this mistreatment towards you has a different perspective of your own. I in no way am invalidating the hurt I suffered, it still plays on my mind the experiences I have had. However, to reduce my own suffering, I have to radically accept that not everyone on this planet is mindful and consciousnesses. Not everyone is going to be aware in the very present moment. These arent excuses either, its a very dialectical way to think of pain.
Do I believe there are bad people in this world? Sure, only to an extent. I think everyone is capable of hurting someone else in one way or another. I know I would have hurt people in my past. But I also believe its due to awareness in social situations. When I was younger, I didn't know how to set boundaries for myself. So it was easier for me to unaware cross others boundaries. Whether it be friendships, relationships and so forth. I think a great testament to the human condition is what you do with your actions after you have messed up. Please know I am aware that there are people out there who constantly repeat their own actions. However, with the right help that they need, I believe that they could change. People can be beyond help. But I believe every person is capable of change. It comes down to willingness. If they are willing to put in the hard yards.
Lastly, silencing people and victim shaming them is only escalating the problem we have at the start. The perpetrator always seems to blame the victim to gain control. The control most times would be driven by guilt, shame, anger and despair. We all are also capable of feeling these emotions. We just feel them in our own interpretations. So my anger will feel differently to the man sitting on the train next to me's anger. This then results in people projecting it in other ways. Some ways that are damaging and that can really impact the lives of other people. Some ways can be minimal. Depends on the situation and life experiences that you have.
The only way forward is being able to openly express your own truths and to be heard by people who can also be the voice of change. We live in a world where everyone is going to be set in their own truths and opinions. I think that is something that is beyond control. My point is we cannot assume people are 'making up' there #metoo stories and the whole movement of females coming forward to share their horrifying experiences. The only horrifying thing about this all is the truths that are screaming so loudly that some people who find it confronting do not know how to handle it. Confrontation is asking you something about yourself and really challenging you to listen to your intuition. So if you are reading this and you've hurt someone, be accountable moving forward. We are the voices for change, so start listening.
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Today I walk around feeling light. My BPD use to feel like I was carrying a weight. Like all my clothes were constantly saturated and weighing me down. This was when I was navigating my way through a system that I thought was either going to be the death of me or retraumatize me each time I reached out to seek the help that I needed. Days on end I would be locked in my own room, isolated from people closest to me just so I wouldn't have to confront the grief-stricken looks on their faces when they learn of how much my self-harming had escalated. How I had to justify to people who stumbled into my life that my personality disorder diagnosis was, in fact, a medical condition, and no it was not a simple excuse to have Centrelink as a main source of income. That my fear of abandonment dictated a lot of unusual behaviours as I didn't have the capacity or skills to be kind to myself. How a huge part of my abuse and trauma STILL impacts me to this day. I had people in my time telling me to 'get over' what happened. That people have it worse. The invalidation was costly.
I remember at the start of this year I was feeling incredibly numb and detached from my surroundings as I was convincing myself that I was never going to get better. In order to convince myself, I neglected to put myself as first priority and self-medicated through things such as alcohol, recreational drugs, relationships where I knew I was going to be hurt because that is all I thought I deserved. All these factors played a major part in putting myself in a more intense vulnerable position. How could such a young, driven and intelligent individual know logically what to do, but always do the exact opposite of what society views as 'right' or 'safe'?
Logically, I have always known what to do. I convinced myself because I was usually logical in most situations, that it will always work in my favour. The first rule of being wise is knowing this is not always the case. I assumed the best of everyone when wise mind tells you that everyone is different, and learning self-validation and the validation of others feelings is all a vital balancing act. That your condition is detrimental, however having BPD isn't a life sentence. That reacting to emotions explosively can be more damaging to your own energy than the person on the receiving end. The biggest lesson I have learnt is what wise actually means. And that I am not always going to have the answers, my recovery journey is part of a learning process. The biggest life lesson I have ever learnt was discovering things about myself, for myself. Not to prove people in my past wrong, but to make sure I could stay here on this earth having a life worth living.
Almost three years ago, I started to write my honest truths about how hard it is to live with Borderline Personality Disorder. After entering a relationship at the time that was very overbearing and intense, I started to feel incredibly lost and alone in this world. In my head, my intentions for this blog was to create networks and reach people while I was in the chaos of another suicidal episode. I cannot begin to express how writing this blog has kept me here today. I believe if I kept these emotions and feelings boxed in, I would not be here today writing this. My writing has made me feel a whole range of emotions, and the emotions I was feeling when I wrote ranged from anguish, shame, guilt, anger, pain, sadness, happiness, numbness, love and compassion. I wrote when I was proud of things I had accomplished as I grew up being convinced that everything was always might fault or never good enough by someone who was supposed to protect me and guide me throughout my childhood. I was punished in ways such as silence, invalidation, ignored and physically, emotionally and sexually when I was in the 'wrong'. One major key point people must understand is these things DO impact you in adult years. What also should not be dismissed is that these behaviours can minimise when you are lead to the right help. I know they minimised when I was lead to the help I have here today.
Six months into Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, I have decided to close the chapter on my blog. I can see from the start to now how much I have grown, how drastically (and positively) my life has changed for the better. I can see the self-management skills I now have. I can see how much my relationships with people who were closest to me have cemented, and how easily I can now leave the people who really hurt me in my past behind. I also have been lead to some amazing people in the last six months who also have impacted me in such a positive way, I fight back tears of happiness as its something I am trying to adjust to. Who knew being in a safe environment where you feel secure can be terrifying compared to violating environments where you constantly had to be fearful for your own safety? Two years ago I was convinced I would not lead a life where I was chronically thinking of taking my own life days on end. However I proved people wrong, and the person I surprised myself the most was me. The most healing thing for me is when someone expresses how kind they think they are and I am able to accept it, instead of my stomach flipping and my thoughts telling me that 'I am a bad person who isn't kind'. The self-talk in my head is like a whole other language I have been longing to hear.
I want to thank everyone who has supported my choice to speak my truths from day one. For a long time, I concentrated on the people who invalidated, belittled and bullied me into thinking me being honest with the way I have been hurt was 'wrong'. A lot of judgements and assumptions about my own personal battle were made, and I am happy to know some people who took the education on board were able to attentively listen to me and change their perspective on this mental illness. This was a huge progressive movement compared to when I was 17 years old living silently with what I told people was 'anxiety'. Having to justify BPD to people back then was daunting and I did not have the emotional strength to stand my ground with it then. Today is a different story, I am able to look people in the eye and firmly state I am living with the illness in a safe manner. I will also correct people who say I am not 'as bad' as their other friend who has their diagnosis. This diagnosis does not disappear, nor is it manageable over night. Anyone who has the courage, strength and determination to work at this until they make sure they can feel at ease with it should always be commended, no matter how messy and confronting their battle may be. I also want to thank the people who have messaged me from all over the world thanking me for helping them. I have made best friends through my writing, it has to lead me to the people who make me feel like I have a belonging and sense in this world. I told you all I would not stop at nothing to make sure people who are living with this illness were lead to help and comfort when they need it the most. The times where they cannot muster up the compassion to be kind to themselves as they freely give it out to everyone around them. To the people who are chronically suicidal because they believe everyone on this earth is going to hurt them because that is all they are capable of accepting, any kindness towards them feels unwanted because they are convinced by the illness they don't deserve it. I am living proof that these things do change in your life when you keep fighting. The fight is worth being lead to the right people who will keep you safe and forever care about you and love you for who you are unconditional.
I want to thank the person that I thought I was in love with. You made me learn the most vital lesson of them all that my attachment was my biggest pain and trigger, and what I felt was not love. I have forgiven you, and radically accept the treatment of the past. I now know (and hope) you are educated enough to stop people who know nothing about this illness first hand to help them change their perspectives on it all. The pain that was felt and caused has shaped me into who I am today. I want you to know meeting you were mirroring the things I suppressed deep inside of me I didn't want to surface. However, I now have confronted them and it has been the best thing I have ever done. This is not validating the despair caused between us, but in hindsight meeting, you started my healing process. And I had a lot of healing to do, as the first memory of pain I have was when I was 2 years of age. So thank you for enabling me to form a more secure relationship with myself. Throughout all this, I was able to be accountable and responsible for my own diagnosis and behaviours.
Last but not least, I want to thank myself. Throughout my hardships, I have learnt the beauty of self-validation. For as long as I can remember I always thought I was 'too much' and that feeling the way I felt was unwarranted. My feelings of pain were warranted. I am allowed to express my anger when I am hurt or upset, and I have learnt to do that in a much healthier manner. That a lot of my symptoms are normal, and that I am only human just like everyone else. That I am able to stay grounded and I don't have to have everyone like me to validate who I am. I have enough people around me and to want everyone to like you is a passive nature. Wanting everyone to like you is a way where people can also treat you any way they want. I would rather have people around me treated me with the respect I deserve, then being swarmed by a sea full of people who only see me on the surface and don't want me when I am showing them my depth.
Thank you, everyone,, its been one hell of a ride and its time I take a step back to really concentrate on the last six months of my therapy. This isn't the end for me, it is always one constant ride and I am able to enjoy it now, no matter how frightening the thrills and spills are. As my mother said to me, I am coming out of this all by leaps and bounds.
Thank you to The Mighty for publishing some of my entries, for any other mental health website for sharing my stories and to everyone else who has read this. To put myself out there was one of the scariest things I have ever done, however, it was also one of the best things I have ever done and I dont regret a thing.
Monday, 20 November 2017
December 2017, I will have reached my six months of dialectical behavioural therapy. While I have been enjoying my therapy and life has become a whole lot more manageable, the past week I have had to really use my skills to make sure I checked in with myself. I am balancing the feelings of not fighting chronic suicide ideation. I know what you are thinking, it's a good thing, right? Of course, it is. Living a life where I don't have to push aside suicidal thoughts is a huge weight off my shoulders. However, there are repercussions when the thoughts go away. Its a feeling of feeling uncomfortable, you feel lost and the paranoia starts to rise as you think this cant be it. That the thoughts have just eased away.
I have been battling suicidal thoughts since I was 13 years of age. The first time I had a thought was when I was 13 at my kitchen bench of my family home. This huge feeling of anguish overcame me, and I had to go to my room as I was crying profusely. Then when I was diagnosed at 17, I battled with the idea for 11 years of my life. It's only the past four months the thoughts have slid away, and it takes a lot to adjust to. It almost feels like a dream that I craved to become a reality. Now its become a reality, it really shows it is possible to manage a life when you have chronic suicide ideation as a symptom of your illness. I am a living example. My heart drops to know I could have been a stat in the ever-rising losses to suicide here in Australia.
The importance of lived experience is very clear to me. Now I have the capability to help others who are battling with this detrimental illness. I now see the grass is greener on the other side when countless times I was ready to throw in the towel and not seek help. I know I am just fortunate enough to have been lead to the help I need. Unfortunately, there are people out there still falling through the gaps. People out there who are in inclusive environments when the key to preventing suicide and supporting someone with a mental illness is being in an exclusive environment. An environment where they feel safe, validated and a sense of belonging. As soon as someone who is seeking a path to recovery is in an inclusive environment, whether that be with mental health professionals, friends and family, the likely hood of them moving forward is the bare minimum.
The past four months have really shown me the truths of living with a mental illness. Although my suicide ideation has diminished, I still have other symptoms of my Borderline presenting themselves and further creating a challenge for me. This challenge, however, is vital in my growth and self-management. Realistically, I wish everyone got to have the insight I have gained through DBT. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to see the other side of living with a BPD diagnosis.
Even though my suicide ideations have gone, I still live in a small amount of fear that the wave of emotion may come toppling back again when I least expect it. Life happens that is beyond my control, where radical acceptance comes to play in order for me to survive this life of pain. My psychologist is adamant that I won't go back there. I guess I need some more time for that to sink in. A life where I don't resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms to regulate the emotional pain I feel internally.
Here is my message to anyone in the midst of a BPD crisis. Where you feel so heavy hearted, fluctuating between pain and numbing when you dissociate from the overwhelming feelings, it does get better. Surround yourself with the compassion, empathy and validation you do deserve. These things are key to learning how to self-soothe when you are at your wits ends trying not to hurt yourself when you are triggered. Remember people do love you despite convincing yourself that they don't. The right ones stay right beside you in hope that one day the pain will not make your whole body feel like it's on fire. Seek the therapy that is going to help YOU. Your experience is individual. If you get a setback, keep pushing until you find the one that helps. I was ready to leave the world and I pushed through until I was bruised and battered. Now I stand tall, the heavy feeling tries to come back but with my skills, I am able to make sure I tread lightly. Last but not least, you are not any definition society tries to define you by. You are a person who has some tangles, spills and thrills about you. But at the end of the day, so does everyone else. That's what makes you so uniquely special.
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
But pain's like water. It finds a way to push through any seal. There's no way to stop it. Sometimes you have to let yourself sink inside of it before you can learn how to swim to the surface
Recently I have discovered through my own facing of past trauma and pain, everyone defines their experience with it differently. You will meet people on your journey who can relate, or feel familiar, to the pain you have experienced and endured. I think where we tend to go wrong in society is disconnecting each other through invalidation and sympathy. There is a video I will leave below that I always watch when I am feeling at my most vulnerable. It explains the simple difference between sympathy and empathy. We as human beings, tend to get the two mixed up by thinking they are the same thing. The reality is, they are not.
Lately, I have seen people outwardly expressing their pain which I truly commend and admire. I see the rawness of the hurt, the aftermath of trauma, grief pain and heartache. All these feelings I know oh so very well. I have seen the people who are being held accountable respond in the most invalidating, denying and guilt way. However, I thought now was the right time to share what I have learnt through all the turmoil I have suffered in my past.
When I was in the midst of my pain, I was incredibly insecure with who I was. Feeling shame nearly every day of my life due to living with an illness that is highly stigmatised, I would respond emotionally to others insecurities. I was surrounded by people who invalidated, shamed and silenced me. It was the most isolating, dark and confronting period of my life. I spent all my energy trying to get people to believe me because I wanted to be liked by others. I wanted people to at least like me even the slightest bit. Because I didnt like myself. I assumed if people weren't being kind to me at my lowest point, then I didn't deserve to be kind towards myself.
After weeks of ongoing self-harm attempts to end my life and emotional responses towards negativity from others, I was deflated. I wanted to drop my sword and surrender to the pain that felt like it was never going to go away. It consumed me. I was naive at the time thinking I had this self-respect, this mediocre treatment of myself was a reflection of the people I was attracting in my life at the time. I suffered the repercussions of my emotional reactions to the point I nearly lost my life. I felt like I had no friends because I was blinded to the ones around me who were loving me despite the scars on my arms, who were coming over and comforting me when I wouldn't shower for days, who were trying to care for me when I really didn't care about myself. And this is what I went through.
The natural instinct that some of us learn at an early age who grow up in invalidating environments is blame. We blame people for pain caused. And this is completely warranted. If you grow up in an abusive environment, you are fundamentally shaped to react to trauma and pain in the only way you know how- by emotional reactions. You will cry when a parent hits you, you will numb out when a parent silences you. You will punish yourself as you don't know how to regulate the emotions in that moment. So you start to feel it. And feeling pain is one of the most scariest feelings in the world. So immense it can literally take over your body reactions and make your brain shut down. There is scientific proof backing my last statement. (See 'BPD and Mindfulness' book).
Can I blame people for my past hurt? You better I can. But the biggest thing I learnt while starting recovery is only I can be accountable for my own behaviours. I cannot control the cruel projections people have placed upon me. I couldn't control the sexual abuse from my past. However, I learnt to control my own emotions, thoughts and feelings to reduce the suffering I was experiencing. Not so my abusers, hurters and acquaintances could walk away scotch free, living a fulfilling life where they weren't accountable. I learnt that wishing for them to hurt as much as me was pointless, that their own time will come. And if they don't get to experience the pain I feel, that they will live quite a content life. I see content as travelling very safe in your comfort zone. It's only when you go out of your comfort zone is that you learn. I feel like living the rest of your life not learning, there will be no room for growth or change.
I learnt that people with BPD can, in FACT, control their emotional reactions when pain arises to smack you right in the face and heart. I spent my years in excruciating amounts of pain because I didn't have the skills to try find that wise mind I know every human being can have. Once I learnt to validate the emotions in the moment, that's where I was able to maintain and control my reactions. Reacting emotionally can only fix things temporarily. Once you learn how to validate emotions and tune in to your reactions, the more you can ease the pain in the long run. The amount of energy I spent lashing out at people who hurt me was not worth it. They were never going to experience the pain caused because they weren't aware of it at the time. You can only hope in the long run on their own path, that they are aware. However, why waste your time and energy on people who only invalidate you and make you feel unsafe? There is a lot of reasons we hold on. Mine is attaching myself to things I felt I deserved because of the own inner relationship I had with myself from the abuse I endured. This is different now because of the healing process and all the hard self-work I put in each day to make sure I am okay when I do find myself lost in past memories, thoughts and feelings that surface from post trauma.
The last thing is, you don't need to convince, justify or make people believe you. I spent so long trying to get everyone to believe my pain, believe my truth and I wanted people to believe that I wasn't a bad person. I spent a lot of wasted time trying to do this, that I completely lost the person I always shape to be. I learnt that the most important people in your life are the ones who don't question who you are, who are honest when they see you may need to check in with yourself as you may not be aware you are impacting others, who validate, listen and support you regardless of your diagnosed mental illness, trauma or pain. They are the people who are meant to stay in your life. Losing friends along the way is painful and hard to adjust to. But with loss is gain, and you gain what I believe the definition of friendship is- the ones who are there by your side, through every hardship you are faced with. This is also adaptable to intimate relationships. Relationship concepts are very diverse these days, so it's about what every you morally think is a healthy and validating relationship. Do not hang on to people whose morals and values are not similar to yours. There is an old saying that 'opposites attract', which is true to an extent. However, people who have a heart like yours, kindness like yours, compassion like yours, and empathy similar to yours, are the people you'll feel the safest and connected to.
The moral of this blog is, as hard as it is to radically accept what has happened to you, you cannot change people. You can provoke something in them to maybe make them think they need to change and treat people for the better, but the only way they can learn is on their own account. We can guide people, try our hardest to help them and support them, but if they reject that and it's not reciprocated, then these people aren't 'your people'. They belong in their own comfort zone, and us proding them will only cause reactions we may not be prepared to accept. Concentrate on your own growth, and the right love and kindness will come to you. It took me 27 years to finally be able to accept this love, validation and support I have from people around me because their support pushed me to grow and move forward. There is no point watering a dead flower, unless they want it.