Friday, 30 December 2011

My three words for 2012!

Every year, people around the world make the terrible decision to set inhibitory New Year’s resolutions for themselves. They often times revolve around giving something up. Stop smoking, lose weight, or get out of debt. The thing is that the majority of people out there already break their resolutions come February because they set an unobtainable goal for themselves. Besides that, if you wanted to become the best person you could possibly be and you knew you needed to do a specific thing to achieve it, why would you wait until the beginning of the year to start? Why not June 30th? 

Having being one of these said people, who never live up to prescribed resolutions, this year I am concentrating instead on three words which sum up my motivation for recovery and self development in 2012. 

My three words for 2012 are ALIGNMENT, CONNECTION and IMPLEMENTATION 

I looked for three words that would help frame my challenges and opportunities for 2012. I didn't just think about where I am at this exact moment. For example, I don’t have the greatest job, but setting a goal in 2012 to get a better job might not be very useful. Once I’ve got the job, then what? Instead, I thought about setting the goal of “Alignment,” where I ask myself, “does this fit with everything else I intend for myself in this year?” Alignment also stands for balancing my health and lifestyle. I want to re-align my body back into its full health. 

The three words idea is built so that you can have something to reflect upon. As you know, goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). The way you use the two together is that you think up goals that will match up to your words. For instance, my second word is ‘connection’. This relates to lots of areas of my life, such as building a better relationship with my mother, and also reconnecting with old friends and also building new connections with new friends. Also connecting with myself and growing in my personal development by forging new synaptic connections in my brain with all the new habits I will learn. 

Therefore the goals around this word are to spend one full day a month with my mother, text/phone/facebook/email my old friends and suggest meeting up, and really attain and focus to changing my destructive behaviors by practicing DBT skills every day. These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. 

What will your 3 words be? How do you choose? 

Pick three words that help you the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm. Give yourself a word that guides you towards a powerful new opportunity, and that keeps you focused on what comes of this year. Use these words as starting points for tangible goals, SMART goals that can be measured and have dates to accomplish tasks by. These words sit above the actual goals, and set your guiding principles in place. 

Finally, all ideas are worthless without implementation. There is no shortage for projects and ideas out there. Big or small, none of them will get off the ground and see the light of day without proper execution and follow-through. So my final word is implementation. State what you are going to do and then do it. 

What 3 words or phrases best describe what you want to accomplish this year? Write them down on your whiteboard or somewhere else you can see them every day and use them to guide you to success in 2012!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Opposite Action

I am not in the mood for being social tonight. In fact,  I am damn grouchy. So what does DBT tell us to do? (cue validating and reassuring voice...) OPPOSITE ACTION. If I am to apply a rational mind to this skill, I can see how it can be useful, but at the same time my emotion mind is yelling at me that it is just another 'get on with it' statement disguised as a skill! But hay, I will try try anything once!

First things first. Identify which primary emotion I am actively avoiding. I don't think I am angry, or sad. Both are normally too intense for OPPOSITE ACTION just yet. Yes it must be fear. I am afraid of life today.

OK, so how do I apply OPPOSITE ACTION? Marsha tells us to approach our fear and do things which gives a sense of mastery over the situation. I was asked to the movies tonight, so in the spirit of making myself feel good and practicing DBT, even though I feel like crying, hiding under the covers and not coming out for a week, I smile and accept the invitation. OH NO! NOW I actually HAVE to go.

First things first. I must do something to give myself some control over the situation. So being the girl that I am, I spend an hour washing blow-drying, straightening and preening my hair. I put on my face and feel somewhat more able to deal with the world.

During the movie, I try to go ALL-THE-WAY with the OPPOSITE ACTION. I MINDFULLY PARTICIPATE in the story line of the movie, I OBSERVE the palpitations of fear which are causing me to breakout in waves of nauseating and sweaty tremors. I am in full blown panic at this stage and all I want is to run away, to flee the movie theater and be alone.

Instead I count slowly to ten and concentrate on my breathing, and try to once again bring my attention back to the story. Finally the movie ends, and although it wasn't easy and it was far from enjoyable, at least I went, and I didn't engage in any destructive behaviors!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Angry Andy!

My Hometown
I am seriously angry at my individual therapist. The week before Christmas, which incorporates a week therapy break, she rang to cancel our hourly session, stating that she had childcare issues. Instead, she offered a quick 'chat' at 9am that day. I felt so unimportant and let down. Christmas week is so triggering for me.  I was left feeling like she just simply did not care less about me and how alone she made me feel. How was I supposed to get through 3 weeks without proper therapy?

My reaction to her has been to passively give DBT the finger! I haven't filled in any food diaries, or daily emotion cards or even looked at my notes. I know I am going to get stick when I go back but honestly, I just feel so fed up and tired from having to be so diligent to it!

On a more positive note I am noticing that I am doing some skills much more automatically now. On Christmas Eve. I just knew that I needed to get away from the craziness of my family, so I went for a beautiful run and then sat and looked at the waves crashing on the beach. I simply OBSERVED how beautiful the town I grew up in was.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Emotional Stability at Christmas

Christmas is a stressful time. Even those without a mental health problem find the holidays difficult to get through, so it goes with out saying that, when an eating disorder is thrown into the mix too, there are bound to be problems.

For me and many others, there is a sadness, grief and loneliness behind my Christmas cheer. My disordered family is thrown together and the intensity nearly always bubbles over into arguments and squabbles. I am deeply ashamed to admit that there is still a stain on my family home's sitting room wall, where I threw a glass of wine at my sister one Christmas, missed and instead imprinted a cherry red mark on the cream wall as a memento of my rage!  

Late nights, rich food, extra alcohol, traffic and crowds, shopping and finances, cooking and cleaning and all the other tasks of Christmas, all make this time of year a protracted emotional time.

There ARE a few things which DBT offers us for a successful way to ride the holiday wave. I personally am concentrating on  COPE AHEAD. The more I plan for and organize the less likely that something unformulated will shock me into an emotional backlash. All my clothes are washed and outfits put together. I have made plans for friends to ring me on Christmas eve, Day and Stephen's day as supports and handy excuses from the dinner table. 

I am putting together a wellness toolbox to bring with me as part of SELF SOOTHE. This box is a little like what you might bring to keep a child entertained on a long car journey. I have knitting, coloring pencils and paper, magazines and books. I also have my DBT notes and MINDFULNESS exercises. I have 6 reminders on my phone which simply say 'Check-In'. these are to remind me to recognize my anxiety and take regular MINDFUL breaks throughout the day. I find things always seem less overwhelming after a few deep breaths.

I will also be practicing RADICAL ACCEPTANCE. I need to have realistic expectations. My family will not suddenly change into the perfect Brady bunch overnight. And if I can ACCEPT that my family are not perfect I think I have more of a chance of dealing with the potential holiday fallout.

I plan on respecting my values. I do not want to compromise my recovery 'just because' its Christmas. I am going to eat intuitively. So if I am hungry and dinner is not ready yet... well sorry, but I will eat anyway! 

Christmas is supposed to be a happy period and therefore a perfect5 opportunity to make new better memories for future years, so ACCUMULATE POSITIVE EXPERIENCE is another skill. I am going to spend time at the end of the day to reflect on what things went well and add them to my positivity book.

Are there any other tips you guys have?


Monday, 12 December 2011

Mental Illness: My Gift

Today I attended a 'Wellness Workshop'. It was a day-long seminar run by a fantastic organisation here in Ireland called S.O.S. (Suicide or Survive). I really connected to the speakers and feel that it came at just the right time for me as I haven't been coping that well lately and needed a boost. 

I took so much out of the day, but what I found myself being drawn back to all day was quite a controversial topic. And that is; that my mental illness has been the greatest gift I have. I came to this conclusion because, I feel that BPD has gifted me the power of understanding, of empathy and hope, of motivation and passion for change and most importantly; a desire and a drive to help others, to care and to reach-out.

I really want to explain what I mean without sounding patronizing or Pollyanna-ish. I haven't gone into much detail about my personal story on this blog yet, and I am still working up the courage to post about it. But I will share with you a wee bit now for the purpose of explaining myself properly.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I suffered the loss of my twin babies during pregnancy. This loss was far from an easy blow to absorb. If you have not experienced grief or shock to that degree, let me tell you, it hurts. Emotionally obviously, but also physically. It's a pain deep in the pit of your stomach, in your core. Its a suffocating agony in your lungs and a sharp stab to your heart. It is not a feeling I would wish on anybody, not even my enemies. 

Here is where I could dwell on that awful chapter of my life, I could describe that horrible day to you, but I don't feel it would help you if I did, so I choose not to. Rather, I want to focus on how I feel this period has shaped me into who I am now, how I live and how I view the world I live in.

Without that perpetrating event two years ago, I would not have faced up to my problems. Some people call it their 'Rock-Bottom', or a breakdown, or their breaking point. It changed me from the person I was then to the person I was after. Without it, I would never have sought help and would still be using the extremely destructive coping mechanisms I had so successfully developed. I would go as far to say I mightn't be alive today, if I am being totally honest. 

The accessories to grief; shock, confusion, despair, anger, sadness, etc. are what saved me from myself. I FELT something finally. I was smacked in the face with emotion for the first time really, and I couldn't deal with it. I needed help. Since getting that help, I have questioned everything, I have left no rock in my life un-turned.  I have searched for answers and explanations and most importantly, I have never accepted 'no'.

You see, that blow of grief provided the foundations for my survival.  I learn't my hardest lessons from that period of my life.  I am now more mindful of my emotions and my triggers. I can recognize when I need help, and can actually ask for it. I am grateful for my blessings and have learnt who and what are the most important to me. I am not too sure I could have done all those things without the bitter foreknowledge of my grief.

I actively use RADICAL ACCEPTANCE here. Yes it was such a horrible thing to have happened to me. Nobody should experience the loss of their own children's lives. But oftentimes, we learn the most valuable lessons from our hardest and most devastating experiences. I still have not fully accepted the loss just yet, only yesterday I was sitting in Mass screaming at God 'WHY ME!!!!', I so often baulk in the injustice of it all. But I let myself feel that way sometimes, because that's OK too.

Back to the workshop, one of the facilitators coined a phrase 'Think in Ink'. I loved it. He made us put our biggest hopes and dreams and goals down on paper. In ink. Mine is to go back to University and get my degree in occupational therapy. When I wrote it down, I thought to myself; 'I am going to a damn good occupational therapist'. I haven't been that positive about myself in a very long time. And most importantly, I BELIEVE it. I am not just affirming to myself. I know I will be a great O.T. some day. My personal experience is going to help me to help others.

It excited me and motivated me to kick my disorder up the bum, to rid it from my life, to accept that these thing happened but to wave goodbye to them and look forward to what is around the next corner.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


 Today I spent the day with myself. I was alone, but not lonely. I made a choice to live and partake in life.

I grabbed my camera and gear in a hurry when I noticed a niggle of a destructive urge raising to the surface, and went to soak up the atmosphere in the city. I tried to notice things that I would not ordinarily notice if I were not being mindful.

I observed the light fading within the space of the 50mins I was shooting. I realized that there were so many tourists enjoying the Christmas lights. I chuckled at the wonderment of a group of Americans and the emotion of a gaggle of Spanish girls arguing. I really listened to the soundscape of Grafton Street in December. 

I  often stopped and was awed by the decorations, of the music, the smells and the people. I observed my own emotions as people got in my way or bumped into me, then I 'realized' I was realizing and had a giggle at myself.

I was NON-JUDGMENTAL. I allowed myself to shoot what ever took my fancy rather than wait for a perfect opportunity. I tried not to care what the picture turned out to be.

 Here are the results of my MINDFUL efforts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them. xxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Get out of my head!
In the wise words of DBT's creator Dr. M. Linehan; 

"The less you know, the more you worry, the worse you feel, the more you can't decide what to do, the more ineffective your are, the more you worry...

The more you experience non-giving, authoritarian environments, the more you worry, the less you practice, the less you know, the worse you feel, the more you can't decide what to do, and so on.."
This post has been more than a little bit difficult for me to write. I have scoured the internet looking for others views on this topic and came up with nothing except confusion. You see, I am ashamedly, immensely self limiting when it comes to my interpersonal relations. This is mostly due to my crippling inability to be NON-JUDGMENTAL. The resounding tone from the group today when introduced to this module with FACTORS REDUCING INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS, was an echo-chamber of the like-minded, nodding heads and understanding smiles.

Of the five factors covered; LACK OF SKILL, WORRY THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, INDECISION, ENVIRONMENT, I feel that the one which stands out is clearly WORRY THOUGHTS for me. 

I am always worrying about what others think of me, how I look. "Do I fit in?" "Am I acting right?" "They wish I wasn't here" "They would rather not talk to me". These thoughts distract me from being able to met the social demands of an interpersonal situation.

Mr. Worry!
Another way that I feel my judgments impede my ability with regards to dealing with people, is what I think about others. I am very quick to generalize people based on very little information! I suppose this is the diagnostic criteria of black and white thinking rearing its nasty head. When someone comes out with something I deem unattractive, I am altogether too quick to totally write them off. One acquaintance recently came out with;  "Children are so annoying!". We were in Starbucks, and the local toddle waddle team had set up base beside us. Making lots of noise and very distracting. All of a sudden, I was dismissing my friend and blanking on all her great qualities. All I could think about was, how awful a person she was for saying that. "What a horrible person she must be if she doesn't like children!". I let my judgments get in the way of having a good time and a nice chat. I was stand-offish for the rest of the time we spent together. I short. I wasn't very personally effective! 

What happens when I have a judgment about someone is that I then search for proof of it. I look for ways that that person then conforms to my judgment, and I ignore ways that he or she doesn’t conform. I build a case for my perception and create a story about that person, which then interferes with my reacting purely and simply and EFFECTIVELY in the moment to that individual. My ideas and story get in the way of seeing the whole truth about that person. Furthermore, my reactions to him or her are bound to be quite negative when the story is a negative one, whether I am conscious of that or not. What happens when I feel negative or react negatively to someone? Usually, I get a negative response back, which reinforces my negative feelings. I don’t realize the part I played in creating that negativity. If you were being judged, or even just sensing the negativity behind an unspoken judgment, how likely is it that you will feel positively toward someone and act accordingly? Judgment produces judgment, while love produces love. 

The trouble I see with judgments is that they keep me from connecting withothers. They maintain a sense of separation because what I am judging is the fact that I or the other person is different from me or different from an idea or ideal I hold: either myself or he or she “should” be this way or that way.

I am looking forward to learning how to get past these factors, and with Christmas fast approaching, the timing couldn't be better!

Monday, 5 December 2011


If I let myself, I may start to believe that the magazine cover girls (whose photos are air-brushed and trimmed in, mind you!) are the norm and that the rest of us are somehow deeply flawed. What I get then is the soundtrack of "I hate myself" or "I hate what I see in the mirror" playing over and over again in my head, fuelling my endless dieting cycles and painful frustration.

If I am to have any measure of success, it is crucial that I permanently press stop on that soundtrack and work to genuinely accept my size and, by extension, myself. For someone who has been listening to this self-disgust soundtrack forever, size acceptance is pretty scary. Does accepting yourself the way you are imply that change may be impossible? 

What I am trying to say is that; denial is not acceptance. Rather, self-acceptance means adopting a NON-JUDGEMENTAL STANCE toward yourself. It's the ability to see things as they are in the moment without harmful, self-critical voices interrupting your view of yourself.  Self-acceptance is instrumental to reaching your healthy, natural weight. Size-acceptance means focusing on the things you like about yourself while working to modify what you don't like.
This process is at the core of the dialectic of CHANGE/ACCEPTANCE. If I get back to a DBT skill of weighing up the PRO'S and CON'S of tolerating distress, I must ask; "How well has not liking myself worked so far?"  The truth is, it hasn't. In fact, if I dislike my body, it's that much easier for me to abuse it.

If I try to apply this to my own life and situation, I feel less able to be as practical as is needed to fully commit to this. Maybe the skill TURNING THE MIND might be of use here as I prepare myself for acceptance of my body. I must turn my mind towards accepting the reality that my natural weight and size are not what I feel they should be. I am not part of the 5% of women who are long, lean and have model measurements. Therefore I must commit to choosing that my reality is that I have hips and broad shoulders which are all part of being a woman.

I am not happy with my legs, they are riddled with varicose veins and often retain water. That is a fact. Starving myself is not going to change it. So for today, I am making a commitment to RADICALY ACCEPT that these things are part of me, I may not like them, nor say that I am happy about them, but they are there.

Morning Contemplations

MMmmm Coffee...
As I sit here with my cup of steaming hot coffee and stare out my little window at the trees, I find myself wondering the question which, at some stage, I think everyone will ask themselves, 'What is my purpose in life?' It is by no means the first time I've asked myself this remarkable question.

I say remarkable because to me, it has stirred up a multitude of diverse and utterly different emotions each time I ponder it. At times when my mind has been tainted by the black thoughts which come with depression, it has conjured up feelings of utter hopelessness and despair. But today, as my anxiety reaches new, unreached heights, it fills me with fear. As in order to have a purpose in life, one must partake in life. So this time, it’s not the thought of the vague, bleak future which fills me with distain; it’s the fact that I must overcome my social anxiety. 

This is the temperament of emotionally unstable personality disorder which many fail to understand. The way we feel and therefore live our lives are imperative to the emotions we battle with. Our minds are never mute or calm, yet always churning with the unfiltered thoughts of self hate, perfectionism or fear of failure. I have never experienced that magical moment of trust of certainty. I have never had the moment where I feel comfortable dropping my mask and letting the world know the real me. But as I sit here clutching my empty cup, I realize, this is all I can do for now. I am the best I can be right now, because although my emotions control my life, they don’t control who I am. I am Andy, and that is all I need to be.

Live life and enjoy today. xxx

Sunday, 4 December 2011


I often wish I could change the past and make it perfect. I feel like I am attempting to paint a masterpiece of which I am so proud of and is so wonderful, but the ground work for it has been tarnished and what went before has destroyed the base that I now am working off. But in reality, ‘perfect’ is a fallacy, because, no canvas is ever bump free, and anyway, why would anyone want that? There would be nothing to catch the light!

I understand that there is nothing that anyone can tell me to make my past seem more perfect, because, in short there is no way for that to happen. Here is where the skill ‘RADICAL ACCEPTANCE’ can help, if I could only get my head around it.

The introduction of this skill was very turbulent in our group, with many willing to learn about it, but in practise not quite able to put the skill to use just yet. I personally can see the benefit of acceptance, but every time I try to apply it to my life I am met with a niggling voice, complaining that I shouldn’t sit back and accept all the injustice in my life, I should stand up and make noise about it! Give out, make a scene and don’t take it lying down!

So what is ‘RADICAL ACCEPTANCE’? It is an honest acknowledgment of what is going on inside you, and a courageous willingness to be with life in the present moment. You can accept an experience without liking it. In fact, let’s say you are feeling stuck in anxiety and disliking the feeling. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE includes accepting both the feelings of anxiety and the aversion to it. In fact, acceptance is not real and not healing unless it honestly includes all aspects of your experience.

The difficulty with ‘RADICAL ACCEPTANCE’ is that it requires patience and ability to be present with your own emotions. Both of which, for me, are very hard to learn also.

I find that at the moment, all I can do is be happy with what I am trying to achieve right now and be proud of every little achievement I accomplish that I wouldn't have been able to do skilfully before. All that matters, in reality is the here and now, you have to be here now in order to live now! The past is nothing that we can work with, and in a perfect world, nothing that we should concern ourselves with.

Things of the past have influenced me as a teen, a student, a daughter, a sister, a friend and now as a woman. The past most defiantly still influences me and the person I have become. Therefore I cannot simply put it out of my head and forget about it. It is part of me.

I also think that as I have gotten older, I have learnt the importance of reflection. Take for example, my situation with University; I often feel it unjust that my fellow classmates have all graduated and are now moving on to exciting careers and new stages in life. I have felt that that is where my life should be, that I am a failure for having to drop out two years ago when I became unwell. It reached the point that I could not be there as a friend for them and congratulate them on the amazing success of completing a degree in Occupational Therapy. I was green with spite and envy. I denied myself the opportunity to be happy with them in their success and lost some friendships in the process.

If I am to apply the skill of ‘RADICAL ACCEPTANCE’ to this situation, I must change my reality of the situation. Okay, I may have had to drop out, move home and be admitted to a mental hospital for five months. But I wouldn’t be getting the help I am now if it were not for that series of events. I would not be facing up to my problems in the hopes of someday living symptom free. That series of events HAS happened and cannot be changed, I CANNOT turn back time. All I can do is deal with events which crop up NOW, in this moment and plan to cope with those that may arise tomorrow. Notice how I am not saying it was fair that I have this mental illness, or that I like it (in fact, I hate it!) I am simply acknowledging that it is something that happened and that I can do nothing about other than work my hardest now so that it does not continue to affect my life in a negative way. It doesn’t mean that the feeling is “right” or “wrong.” Nor does it mean that I must be passive, and not take actions that might be helpful.  ‘RADICAL ACCEPTANCE refers to my relationship with the reality of “what is” in the present moment. By arriving honestly and with openness to this moment’s experience, I might just have a chance to create the possibility of then responding with wisdom and compassion. 

These big things in my past are my biggest barriers, my biggest burdens. But, it is more so my attitude towards these big things in my past that hinder my recovery.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mindfulness In Action

Remember when you were a kid, and you got a new toy for Christmas or a birthday, and the whole world of time stopped while you played and became totally engrossed in the process of discovering how it worked and what you could do with it? Well, after my not-so-successful attempt to PARTICIPATE in a mindful eating exercise earlier today, I remembered how I used to get so involved in arts and crafts that time would slip away before I knew it. 

Until recently my ability to concentrate on a hobby or on anything much was zero-to-none. And while I was acutely unwell I simply just did not see the point in trying. But I slowly built up my tolerance and frustration since those lonely fives months in hospital and began to partake in activities which tested my concentration. Most notably reading and writing, but art is also one of them. 

I dislike doing things I am not very good at, and oftentimes I will not do something at all if it will only turn out mediocre. My judgments of myself get in the way. Therefore I was surprised to find out this evening, that I really enjoyed drawing this picture, so-much-so that I found myself lost in time for a little while. I was PARTICIPATING. I was so fully engaged in 'the flow' of drawing, that 20mins were happily spent mindfully attending to each stoke of the pencil on the smooth paper. I had to make a choice as to which color to use and where to put a mark on the page. 

For 20 mins I wasn't annoyed by unpleasant thoughts. Of worries about the future, or flashbacks from less happy times. I wasn't afraid of the food slowly digesting in my stomach or planning ways to rid my body of the calories. I was simply present in the moment, participating and acutely aware of how I was doing it.

'Participation' Is Torture

This week we have been set the goal of in incorporating the 'What' Skill (from the Mindfulness module) PARTICIPATION into our everyday lives. Thing is, with every good intention of being a diligent member of DBT group therapy, I made a plan. But annoyingly, I keep forgetting to fully participate in a task in order to be mindful to my experiences. 

"I used to think mindfulness is some form of passive observation… it is NOT passive.  In fact, mindfulness requires you to be both the participant and the observer simultaneously.  In this way, you are the observer of your experience at the same time as you are the experience itself.  As thoughts, feelings, and sensations naturally arise, they arise with the same vessel that observes them.Mindfulness is not a denial of your experience and a retreat into nothing but detached observation.  It is a type of open observation that is experiencing that which it is observing." Laura Schenck MA

Some skills from DBT are like little treats for the soul, while others are more akin to TORTURE! This is one of them. When you are fully awake to an experience you have actively spent a good proportion of your life trying to avoid, it is not a nice experience to then have to be aware of all the unpleasantness.

Does that make sense? I can't seem to explain what I mean in the way I want to. For example, a way I have tried to incorporate participation into my life this week, is to fully engage in eating. I really tried hard to experience every morsel of food. To taste the differences between sweet, bitter and salt. I noticed the variances in temperature and texture. Then I switched from external stimuli to the internal. To my thoughts, judgments and emotions.

Here is where the problem with this skill arose for me. No matter how hard I concentrated on noticing my thoughts, there was a strong resistance to participate in the task any longer. It was too hard to observe, then describe, then participate with eating when my head was screaming floods of guilt. 'Fat cow' 'You have no self control' 'You will be alone forever' 'This is what you deserve, fatness and unhappiness' .... 

This skill needs practice I think. And its not what I want to do. Its hard and annoying, but I guess if I was to pull from another skill, and weighed up the pros and cons, is it harder to live with an eating disorder or to just practice this skill?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Are Borderlines manipulative bitches, or just in need of validation?

As some readers of this blog may know, I am currently in therapy. More specifically, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I am almost four months into it now and have covered three of the four modules which are; mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance. We will be moving on to interpersonal effectiveness next week. Just in time for the silly season too! And thank goodness, because Christmas tests everyone's ability (not just the emotional unstable's) to relate effectively to others.

After a particularly bad week, regarding ability to think, behave and generally function at reasonable level, I plonked myself down in my individual therapist's chair, ready to blow off steam and I suppose, get some sympathy for my shit week. As always, I tentatively handed over the diary card (a tedious twice daily exercise with which I have a particularly Black/White relationship). I hate this part, detest it even.  I find it so cringe-worthy, and shameful letting someone else know my most private and secretive behaviors urges and actions.

Anyway, so what I wanted was someone to validate how shit I was doing. And don't get me wrong, my therapist obviously was paying attention during that part of training, because she is an expert at making me feel like I have a right to feel the way I do. Yet she also knows how to push the boat when it comes to pulling the dialectic of change just a tad too hard for for my liking.

She used the words 'you have the ability to evoke a nurturing response from people when you are upset'. Oh lordly, what a thing to say to a borderline. My head went into a spin of judgments about myself, about her... the running commentary was a bit like this; 'what does she mean evoke a response!' 'Does she think I am a needy bitch who wants attention all the time?' ' She thinks I am faking, doesn't she!' 'She must think I want to feel this shit so others feel sorry for me' 'How dare she!' 'She is sick of me' 'She is going to kick me out of therapy' 'She hates me' 'I hate her!'and so on and so forth!

Thing is... on reflection, she's right. I love to feel like someone cares about me, that someone thinks and feels for me. I find myself thinking does she think about me in-between sessions? Have I made an impact on someone? Will they remember me?

So I guess the point of this post is to reflect on the point she brought up about needing to feel cared for. Its something that I am now aware of that could be problematic for me. I rely on the feedback from others that I am deserving of nurture and care, but shouldn't I really be fostering that for myself, and convincing myself that I don't need external ques of love and affection to feel validated? The answer is clear. Yes. but how to go about doing it? I haven't the foggyist!