A Visual of My Rage

I recently saw The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. The Hulk is a part of The Avengers and he is a character that I have identified with for some time (and have mentioned this my blogs a few times, just search Hulk). There was a scene in the movie that I thought gave a good visual of my rage; what it sort of used to look like and what it still feels like inside.

*Spoiler Alert!* If you don’t want to know what happens in the movie then don’t read or view further!!!!

In this scene, Bruce Banner has transformed into The Hulk but in it’s uncontrolled form due to another character tampering with his mind. The Hulk is on a massive rampage and it’s up to Iron Man to stop him (which is a little hard to do).

This is the war that can go on inside of me and sometimes it spills out. It is chaotic, out of control, aggressive, there is not thought behind it, it simply just is and does. Iron Man in the role represents the voice in my head that is trying to keep it together. When Iron Man told everyone to “stand down” almost laughed out loud because that is what I need from others when I’m getting upset; no instigation and probably alone time. The battle is worth it as I deserve the peace and control.

What Do I Want People To Know?

A close friend of mine asked on behalf of another if I would speak with them about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They are interested in learning more about it as their former partner experiences BPD and they only have that one understanding. I believe I have agreed to meet with this person so long as my friend facilitates and trusts the situation.

This made me think, “What do I want people to know about my experiences that have been labeled with this disorder?”

It was actually fairly easy to come up with:

I want people to know that they should not validate the behaviours but validate the feelings behind the behaviours. 

I am aware that I should not be screaming, yelling, throwing things, hurting myself, guilt-tripping etc. But when my feelings are constantly invalidated I can think of nothing else to do. I am allowed to be angry but I am not allowed to call someone names. I have noticed within myself that when my feelings are validated the behaviours I exhibit are less extreme and I am able to cope more effectively. This may not be true for everyone but it is for me. This does take practice and you may need to be at a certain point in your life to be able to understand this as well as having the right people around you who can provide this support. As humans we are all looking for that validation so asking for it is not outlandish or an approach to treatment. It is being human.

Is there anything you would like people to know about BPD? 

I’m Allowed to Have Privacy

Since reading about and discussing boundaries in my DBT class, I have come to acknowledge I overshare.

Rightly or wrongly, years of therapy, from a young age, has encouraged me to share every event, thought and emotion in my life in the promise that it will make me feel better. Then I began working in the mental health field where my lived experience was an asset. Sharing my story was what was going to end discrimination, show society who people with mental health issues really are: super cool individuals who deserve respect. But, the more I share, the more horrible I feel. Each time, I am ripping an old scar. I burn out frequently, but I keep going for the greater good.

After some though, I realized that oversharing isn’t a good thing. It is a boundary issue. It seeps into other parts of my life, including my social life, where everyone and anyone can hear my story. I don’t like this. It’s strange to maybe not know this but, I am allowed to have some privacy. Not just allowed actually, but entitled to privacy.

I haven’t blog as much because I am trying to give myself this privacy. I have felt better since doing this and setting a few other boundaries such as not answering work related emails after 6pm on weekdays and barely answering them on the weekends. Giving myself space to breathe and heal is proving to be very valuable. I was always in a rush to fix things, make things happen that I was getting ahead of myself and catching up was becoming difficult.

It’s time to slow things down, do things for myself and put a bit on the backburner for a bit.

My Quest to Fit In

I started seeing a private social worker 2 weeks ago. I am enjoying the sessions as she values past experiences and how they play a role in our present. I have not experienced this before despite how obvious it feels to me.

We were talking last week about my first memories, my family, the church that I left and my friends growing up. She pointed out to me that majority of my younger years were spent trying to find out where I fit and going to desperate measures to ensure that I fit in or cope with not being able to do so. I knew all of this about myself but for whatever never noticed the pattern.

Family: My sisters stuck with activities (sports, gymnastics, dance) but I never stuck with anything. People were always asking me if I was the “lacrosse player” or “the dancer”. I could only reply, “No, I’m Kristen.” And to myself say, “I’m the daughter that does drugs, drinks, has sex and tries to die.” Who wants to brag about that daughter? I did feel there was favouritism, I was jealous. My response to this was to get angry and stay away from my family. As I grew older this all changed. I do not believe any of this was done on purpose by my family. I love my family and they love me. I am known as the activist in my family and I proudly wear that title!

Church: I didn’t behave like a regular Mormon girl. I didn’t look or talk like one either. I questioned everything, noticed that sexism and other issues in how we were being taught. I dressed to hide myself at church (wearing black, a big hoodie). My friend’s mom frequently shot me dirty looks when she saw him with me. I was also experiencing all of the depression and so angry that God would make me go through this. How my depression was manifesting was pushing me away from church as I saw it was not the right place for me. I also disagreed with the churches stance of same-sex marriage/relationships, abortion, sex before marriage etc. I coped with this by not going to church. Church is not for me. If there is one thing I did take away from the Mormon church it’s the importance of family. I can also spot a Mormon Missionary before I see their name tag :P

Friends: This was the worst. When you are young, you are already trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. Adding my issues on top of that made it very difficult. My friends frequently stopped hanging out with me or talking to me. If they didn’t cut me out then they were threatening too. “If you don’t stop cutting I can’t be your friends anymore.” It was so stressful. I coped by doing what I thought was cool or what was cool, always making sure I was one-upping everyone. It was very destructive. I think this may be why the majority of my closest friends also have mental health issues. I accept them and they accept me.

All of these categories have improved or been dealt with. I still find myself trying to find where I fit in. This is probably why I fear rejection, why I am hard on myself when I can do something for someone, why I act different ways in public, just why I am currently me. I feel like I don’t fit in, yet, I have many examples of finding these places and people for myself. I need to realize I can stop searching and that it is now time to enjoy myself.

DBT Skills: Wise Mind ACCEPTS

During our second Distress Tolerance class, we went over the skill Wise Mind ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS is an acronym for different ways to distract ourselves in times of crisis. I already use some of these skills, but I think, no, I know, I need to put more emphasis on using them.

Wise Mind ACCEPTS

Distract using ACTIVITIES: A hobby, read, watch a video, listen to music, go for a walk etc.

  • I tend to read, colour, blog, poke around Facebook and watch funny shows to distract me.

Distract by CONTRIBUTING: Volunteer, do something nice for another person, help someone who needs it etc.

  • My volunteering is huge for me. I have been volunteering with the same organization for almost 4 years!

Distract using COMPARISONS: Have you improved from where you were 2 years ago? 4 years ago? (This distraction actually suggests you compare yourself to others who have it worse which I think is horrible. I NEVER want to make myself feel better by thinking, “Well, so-and-so has it worse.”)

  • I readily acknowledge that each year I greatly improve. I am not even close to being the person I used to be!

Distract with EMOTIONS: Get yourself feeling the opposite emotion of what you are feeling by listening to music, reading a book, watching shows that encourage the opposite emotion.

  • I started listening to dance/electronic music years ago because it made me feel happy. The rock music I was listening to usually made me upset so making the switch to music that made me want to dance was a smart move.

Distract by PUSHING AWAY: mentally leave the stressor for awhile, put up a mental wall and come back to it later.

  • I’m not good at this and rarely consider leaving something that is bothering me. I need to work on this.

Distract using THOUGHTS: count, write, do puzzles etc. Anything to distract your thoughts.

  • I should do some of this more!

Distract using SENSATIONS: hold ice to your skin, pet an animal, take a hot/cold shower/bath, listen to music, taste your favourite food etc.

  • I used to take a lot of baths with scented candles lit or bath salts :)

DBT Skills: Rules of Crisis Survival

When you are a very emotional person, everything is a crisis. I know we read, watch or listen to the news and hear about people around the world in horrible circumstances that we would call “being in crisis”, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, but many of us experience a crisis every day because we don’t know how to handle the situation. For the purpose of this post, I am talking about the everyday crisis’ many of us find ourselves in.

In my DBT class we defined a crisis as:

  • a stressful event or traumatic moment.
  • something that is short term.
  • we want to solve it now.

I completely acknowledge that for some of us our crisis is possibly long-term (an ill family member that needs your support, experiencing an abusive partner etc.) but we are still able to find ways out of these crisis’ or make them more tolerable.

2 Main Rules of Crisis Survival1

 

A few nights ago my partner, B, spontaneously decided to go to a friend’s house. I immediately became panicked and started being passive aggressive to try and guilt him into staying (this is unskillful but I swear it gets better). My thought process in these moments is that he is abandoning me. I believe he won’t come back, that he doesn’t care about me (or else he would stay) and maybe he’ll go find another girlfriend while he’s out. I am very afraid when he is not with me. After 20 seconds of sass from me, B told me he would come back, that he loves me and gave me kisses and hugs (we have talked about how I need love and reassurance to currently feel better in these situations so I am happy to see that he can support me in this).

After he left I knew I had a decision to make. I could either curl up in a ball and hate life OR I could do something skilful about the situation. I remembered the above two rules about crisis survival: 1. Solve the problem if you can, and 2. If you can’t solve the problem, survive it. I knew I couldn’t solve the problem. Solving this problem would possibly mean B doesn’t go out or I go out with him. B is allowed to go see his friends and see his friends alone. This was not an option. I decided that it was best to survive the crisis. How did I do this? I distracted myself with a few episodes of my favourite shows (South Park, Girls, The Mindy Project), painted my nails and completed a presentation for an upcoming conference. By the time this was finished (about 4 hours) B was on his way home and we watched an episode of Daredevil before going to sleep.

What I feel is most important about this is not that I found ways to distract myself but that the distractions made me not care that he was out. I was avoiding feeling horrible but since I was busy and enjoying what I was doing I was able to tell myself that B has a right to be with his friends and that I have a right to not be bothered by it. This wasn’t a case of distracting myself where I am still thinking about why I’m upset; it was full of acceptance that the crisis was happening and that I could get through it successfully and be happy.

3 Lies We Need to Stop Telling About ‘Negative People’

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook called, 3 Lies We Need to Stop Telling About ‘Negative People’. I could relate to the 3 lies the author pointed out and have spoken before (on this blog and in presentations) that the idea of constant happiness and complete emotional control is ridiculous and that there is value in our negative experiences.

Below is just bits from the original article. Please click the link above from the full article.

3 Lies We Need to Stop Telling About ‘Negative People’

Source: Huffington Post

1.  There Are Positive People, Who We Should Aspire to Be Like, and Negative People, Who We Should Avoid Being Like

This is code for “Depressed people are terrible. Here are their mistakes for you to learn from so you’ll never be like those people.

2. We Would All Be Happier If We Just Cut ‘Negative People’ From Our Lives

It’s one thing to cut out someone who is abusive or puts you in immediate danger. It’s another matter entirely to cut someone out of your life because they aren’t happy enough for you.

3. ‘Negative People’ Are Only Unhappy Because They Choose to Be

It’s unfair to tell someone who is struggling to just “think themselves out of it.” Mental health is far more complicated than that.