Sticking It Out

I walked into session today at 6:30 on the dot, nervous and unsure of what was to come. I sat down and therapist, as per usual, started by asking how I was. I had promised myself that I’d be honest with her and not beat around the bush, so I told her I was not well. She asked what parts of my life were feeling bad and I told her pretty much everywhere.

The admission of the self-harm came out almost immediately following that. She asked what I was doing with the feelings and I told her in an indirect kind of way that I had made bad choices. She made me be more specific. I hate that she always makes me say it, to really own in. Then an interesting thing happened. She asked me why I had smiled when I told her I had harmed.

Wait, what?

Yeah, I didn’t realize that I did it, but apparently I had. I was so embarrassed, feeling exposed and like I was being judged. It caught me totally off guard. The best explanation I can give is that I was so uncomfortable with her undivided attention as I spoke that brutal, difficult truth that I smiled reflexively. It’s like how people laugh when they’re in a serious situation because they can’t cope with the severity of it.

I don’t know, all I know is that my immediate impulse was to tell myself that I was now cancelling my next session because I felt like my therapist was only going to judge me and make me feel bad. I was angry with her and regretted being so open.

Therapist, oblivious to my anger or at least ignoring it, tried to ask me if I could try to accept and sit with my feelings in ways that didn’t include self-harm. That may sound familiar, probably because “acceptance” has been a common theme on my posts and a common struggle for me. We’ve been talking about acceptance for weeks. So why was she bringing it up again like it was a brand new suggestion? Did she think I was an idiot?

I was suddenly furious. This was what I was wasting my time and money on? So I could say the same things and hear the same responses again for another week? So I could feel judged and patronized? And so I snapped at her. Obviously I’ve been trying that! But it isn’t working anymore!”

“I can hear that you’re frustrated,” she replied calmly. She wanted to know why I was angry, so I told her. She didn’t understand how what she’d said was patronizing.

Instead, she wanted to know if we could talk about mindfulness. Out of the blue. It was something she felt would be important to bring to the table, but she didn’t know if there was something more pressing that needed to be covered first. Like my anger perhaps. Yes I was angry, I told her, so I didn’t know if I was in a place to appreciate this topic.

Yet for some reason she decided this was the time to introduce the topic anyway. She talked to (or rather at) me about informal and formal mindfulness, and how it could help me recognize the thoughts without getting hung up on them and going all negative. All while I sat there and listened to my internal thoughts scream if you were going to talk about this shit whether I was on board or not, why did you bother asking? In truth, I heard some of what she was saying, but I was too irritated in the moment to give her any credit.

Once she was done with her spiel, we sat in silence for a long time. Mostly I stared at the fidget I’d brought, but eventually I looked up at her. “I don’t know what to say to you.”

“Do you feel obligated to say something?” she wanted to know.

“Yes,” I told her, feeling the anger rising again. This was also not a new conversation. She knows I feel a lot of pressure not to waste my time. My co-pay is not cheap and I think she forgets sometimes that money is not easy to come by. Of course it’s okay for her if we sit in silence, she still gets paid either way.

We were about halfway through session at this point and I was seriously considering leaving before I exploded at her. I felt like she wasn’t going to be able to see things from my side. Why even bother? This was so pointless. I figured it was time to check out and give up on anything good coming out of this session.

But then she asked me if I’d like to just vent about all the stuff I was holding in. She wondered if that might help. She even gave me a starting point, since my mind seems to go blank when I get to session lately even though I have millions of things to talk about during the week.

I spent the rest of the session blurting out whatever thought came to mind. I read her one of my posts. My anger towards her slowly melted enough that I was even able to share how I was feeling and my tendency to want to hold back from her. I wouldn’t say I felt the strength of our usual connection, but I didn’t want to scream at her anymore.

We went over, again, by about five minutes because once I started talking it was like the dam broke and my thoughts flooded the room. I couldn’t get them out fast enough. I appreciate that she sticks it out with me for those few minutes when we’re deep in a conversation.

Therapist keeps reminding me emphatically that the judgment and blame has to stop. She says that harsh voice is the underlying pattern present in everything I am telling her. I told her that it’s because right now, I truly do not like myself. I don’t feel like I’m good or worthy of love. I’m constantly searching for the ultimate truth, which means I’m not sure what is real. I’m questioning everything, most of all myself.

I know I’m standing in my own way, I know there are ways to reframe and take care of myself, but I don’t believe any of those reframes. I don’t feel like I’m worth the care. I feel like a loser.

So the new goal for the week is to catch the judgmental thoughts as they happen; to recognize that I am being harsh or critical and to say “I will not judge myself for this right now.” As a personal goal, I would like to try for a second time to keep a list of some of the things that trigger the judgment too. So lots of noticing. I am also supposed to keep on trying to sit with the feelings as much as possible.

As for actually believing that I am deserving of growth and good things? Well, I am told we will work on the that later.

I guess that I am glad I stuck it out, because at least things didn’t escalate to a rupture. I have a goal to work with and the reminder that this is a step-by-step process. I know therapist cares and wants to help me, even when she does a human thing like piss me off with her comments. I’m lucky to have found her.

I even tried the mindfulness on the way home and it didn’t suck as much as I thought.

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Why Am I Like This?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. I am frustrated. As in really frustrated. As in: please end this now because is eating me alive and I don’t think I can take feeling this way any more.

I’m oscillating back and forth between holding it together and going completely over the edge. Some moments I participate in a meaningful conversation, practice appropriate self-care, or even just complete a task and feel for a second like just maybe the fog has lifted. Other times I’m digging my nails into my skin or stuffing my face with Doritos or tastycakes until I’m bloated and regretful.

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The self-harm is bad in the obvious sense. You don’t need to be a licensed professional to know that an arm full of red scratches isn’t healthy coping, even if it feels perversely helpful. But the food, I realize, is bad too. It is an internal form of self-harm, ingesting too much of a substance that just damages my body. If I were eating piles of vegetables, maybe not as much. But this is not vegetables. It’s candy and pizza and popcorn. And I don’t have an off switch. I will not stop.

A blogger that I follow posted about a conversation she’d had with her therapist. She wanted to self-harm and her therapist encouraged her against it by reminding her it was just shifting the focus away from the real problem. I’m still reflecting on that weeks later.

It makes sense, because I self-harm as a means of relief from the big scary feelings, to release the pressure. But it also doesn’t make sense, because my self-harm is also a form of punishment. I’m not entirely shifting the focus if I see myself as the problem.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I ask myself why I have to be this way. Why can’t I just be the person that I want to be? Why do things have to be so fucking difficult? 

Why do I have to be so overly concerned with what other people think? Why do I hinge on making everyone happy? I want to be the person who makes decisions based on what makes me happy, who chooses myself. I want to be the person who walks their own path, even if it might bother other people. I want to be the person who can have a conversation with someone without fearing that I just said too much, was too awkward, too loud, too anything. 

Why do I lack the security to make even a single decision? Why do mistakes make me feel like an utter failure? I want to be the person who is assertive and confident. I want to be the person who has my own ideas and can support them and know that I’ve made the best decision I can. I want to be the person who can misstep and then be able to move on without getting constantly caught up in the mistake.

Why am I so competitive with everyone around me? Why am I not able to be happy for other people’s success unless I have success too? I want to be the person that can go on social media and not be overcome with jealousy by other people’s accomplishments. I want to be able to be happy when someone gets engaged, gets a job, or has a baby.

And of a similar vein, why does every emotion I have feel like it’s body-slamming me to the ground? I want to be someone who can feel a little sadness without feeling like I’m being swallowed whole, who can be mildly angry without having the urge to explore, who can feel anxious without suddenly questioning anything and everything I have ever known.

Why must I be such an addict for validation? I want to be able to be there for myself.

Why?

I feel like this world is eating me alive. My thoughts are louder than they have ever been. It’s like someone cranked up the volume so that all of this is deafening. And they come paired with the feelings. Those feelings that hit me like a sucker punch to the gut every time.

I simply can’t deal. It seems like there is so much judgment out there. We judge others to feel better about our selves. We tell ourselves we are right. It seems like everyone is just laughing and gossiping behind each other’s back. I thought that would get better in the real world, that people would be less cliquey, but they aren’t. If anything, I think it gets worse.

Why do we teach kids to be kind, to be inclusive, to withhold judgment, if all we are going to do is model the opposite?

Being around people is scary. I don’t always know how to fit in this world in a way that doesn’t tear me apart.

I worry all the time that my decisions are wrong, that I will hurt someone or mess something up beyond repair. I see everything from five different angles. I feel other people’s emotions with them, I imagine their hurt or sadness, and it physically pains me to think about it. I can’t handle my emotions and I can’t handle theirs. I can’t deal.

I tell myself that I’ll just stop caring like I do. Fuck everyone else, I’ll focus on me. It’ll surely save me the hurt.

But I can’t turn it off, I feel for everyone and everything.

These are the thoughts that are playing in my head at maximum volume almost all the time. I’m drowning here. Out in the world, it feels like I’m drowning. I don’t know how else to say it.

I wish it would stop.

Patterns in Communication

I have a tendency to go off the grid when I’m really struggling. Well, sort of.

I’ve been aware of this pattern for awhile, but I’m noticing it more and more lately. When I’m really upset, feeling really low, I ignore texts from important people in my life. No outside contact that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Case in point, my friend texted me Saturday morning to see how my weekend was. I was feeling rotten and jealous of the outstanding, wonderful person she is with a great personality and friends, so I ignored her text.

Because the truth would have been that I was feeling awful and overwhelmed and really just like a loser. The truth would have been that I self-harmed and I want to call my therapist, but I can’t and the boundaries of that are killing me. The truth would have been the raw, suicidal thoughts clamping down hard on me, refusing to be ignored. How do you tell a person that? I didn’t want to have to heap that on her.

Yes, I could just not tell her everything, just tell her a little bit of what is on my mind, but I tend to be an oversharer. Once I start to talk about where I’m at, it all spills out rather quickly.

Then I feel like a burden.

As shameful as it is to admit, I think that I also tend to do this with the pathetic, rarely satisfied hope that if I stop answering they might worry and then reach out to me to ask if I’m okay. Then maybe I’ll feel secure enough to tell them how I’m feeling, since the only way I can truly be sure they care is if they express the concern without any amount of direct prompting from me. Coercive? Yes, probably. Have I done it for years? Absolutely.

I used to be really bad where I would shut my phone off to make sure they got the message that I was upset, whether it was with them or just overall. I like to think I’ve graduated from that desperate, highly immature move.

I know it’s not a functional way of communicating. I know there are better means, like just stating how I’m feeling and what I need. It’s not like dropping off the face of the planet really ever fulfills my needs from a relationship in the long-run. The payout of this behavior is meager, if anything at all. Usually I just end up upset that they aren’t responding the way I hoped to my manipulative little game.

Even if they make an effort to connect, they fall short of meeting my expectations, because no one truly can (not even me). By fall short, I mean they don’t use the exact words that I’ve conjured up in my brain as being the solution to my problem or they don’t express enough care and concern. The word enough is such buzz word for many of us with BPD. No one is enough because we want them to experience our feelings as we do, to take away the problem altogether, to be the picture of a perfect support person who is there for our every need. And no one can do that. Which means they are labeled as “uncaring,” “don’t understand/can’t understand,” “probably hate me,” or any of the other wealth of phrases that I’ve got handy in my BPD/depression toolbox.

I know this is going to happen. I’ve got so much experience with it. So I resolve not to tell them how I’m feeling, as to not trigger the same patterns of behavior. Nope. Not allowed. I will just answer them like a normal person instead and talk about normal things. Move the conversation along.

Ha.

I’m not someone who is really good at the “holding back” thing, remember? Oversharer, table for one. I’m like an addict. I know my needs won’t be met the way I want them to be, but I crave the validation. I need it. Need to feel loved and supported. So I yearn to tell someone, desperately hoping this might be the time they magically have all the right words and level of support to make me feel whole again.

I’m still not sure though, still worried of what might be triggered if I am vulnerable and not validated the way I need, so I let time tick away. This time, it was Thursday since our last text. I’d steadily ignored her for almost 3 days. I’m also outright ignoring my friend at work too because I don’t want her to know what’s going on. And I just keep telling myself to do it already! and answer these people. It would be so easy to eliminate their concerns, make a silly comment, and be done with the whole situation.

Yet, part of me fights back. If I tell them I’m okay, then I can’t tell them that I’m not okay, despite that I’m afraid because it seems to risky to be honest about how not okay I am.

If I say I’m okay, I’ve erased any possibility of feeling validated or loved. Maybe I can allude to it somehow? Put it out there so they sense it without me having to tell them?But I know it. I know that won’t end well either….

And that’s how it goes, on and on until I’ve driven myself mad. Until so much time has passed that I know I’ve got to do something and I’m anxious about it.

So this time, I answered her. I answered a few of my friends who had texted me. I kept it fairly normal, but I did tell my close friend that I was struggling. Having awful days and okay days. Nothing more. She did not take the bait. She told me that she was sorry to hear that, but did not ask for elaboration. And without that invitation, I did not tell her anymore. I backed off.

I still don’t know if I did the right thing, or if I should have said nothing at all (or said more?). I wish that this wasn’t so difficult for me, that my mind wasn’t thinking 5 different ways at once, so I could just ask for what I need and be satisfied with what I get. I wish I could just validate myself instead of expecting others to do it for me.

But, well…here we are.

 

Just Surviving

Earlier today I sat in my room with clothes, makeup, books and all types of other shit piled up around me. I had so much to do but not a single bit of motivation to do it. Laundry. Ironing. Making lunch. Shower. Wrapping gifts. It seemed like an insurmountable task to just do even one of them.

So I sat there for awhile. I told myself I’d move in 10 minutes. Then in 15. Then 20. It was like playing chicken with myself, and somewhere along the line I eventually gave in and was able to get some of the things done.

I feel a little better now than I did earlier, but I’ve felt awful for the majority of the week. I feel like I’m so deep in this latest bout of depression that I don’t know how to get out of it. To give you an example of how rock bottom I am, I panicked earlier today when I couldn’t find my razor. I still haven’t found it and so now I’ve resorted to scissors and I know how bad that sounds

I’m supposed to be writing in a free association type of way. That’s what therapist suggested when I saw her on Thursday and told her I haven’t really been able to write lately. So I’m trying. I’m trying even though it doesn’t seem like it’s going to help. Because there’s no point, it seems. Everything feels hopeless. So much so that I came upon the frightening revelation today that maybe therapist can’t even help me. Maybe I’m too much of a problem for her to solve.

When I said this to her last week, she said that maybe the problem is that I don’t think I can help myself.

Which, she may have a point. But I don’t think that eliminates mine. What if she isn’t truly equipped to handle me? What if I need something she can’t provide? I don’t see myself starting over with anyone else at this point. And thinking of that just causes me to spiral further downward.

In a way, I’ve been trying to help myself. I was keeping a list of my triggers for a few days, but I managed to throw my phone in the washing machine today so now I don’t even have that to look at when therapy time comes on Thursday. It feels kind of like the universe is trying to tell me to just give up and stop making an effort to be better because I’m not meant for anything but failure.

I know how crazy that sounds, but it feels true to me in the moment.

This is the first time in my life that I really don’t have a plan for where I will be a year from now. There is a lot of opportunity in that, but for me it’s really scary. Therapist keeps reminding me that the major transition I’ve been going through with my career is dredging up these insecurities and probably what’s triggering this depressive relapse. I’ve always had a plan, always known what’s coming next.

I’ve always been a student, where there are certain types of expectations, but also a very heavy structure. This whole independence with a career and my own place to live thing is something I really want but don’t feel like I can have. It feels like I’m destined for failure. Like why should I even bother? Why confirm all my fears that I won’t make it?

I know this post is all over the place, but I was told to just get it out so that’s what I’m doing. Just getting it out and trying very desperately not to care how it will be read by other people. I’m usually so quick to edit my thoughts and have them be read a certain way on here. This goes against my instincts, but I’m trying.

Jeez, how many times have I said that throughout this post? I’m not going to count, but I know it’s a lot. I say it to therapist all the time too. I’m trying. Who am I really trying to convince?

And am I really trying hard enough?

All of this and more swirling around in my head has led to dangerous thoughts and bad behavior. The pattern has started again. Daily harm to soothe the storm. The scariest part is that it does help and then I become reliant on it.

Suicide is a very consistent thought for me. I don’t have a plan or anything, because I feel like I can’t. I have a grandfather who depends on me helping him go through his mail, write out checks, and keep the house in order. There are two little girls who expect me to be there when they get off the bus every day. I am my parents’ only kid and even though it’s hard to admit sometimes, I know it would hurt them. I have a friend who tells me she would be devastated if I did that, although sometimes it’s hard to believe her.

So I feel like I can’t. Which makes me mad and feel even more trapped. And makes me mad at myself for not being able to get out of this depression. Therapist tells me that this blame isn’t helpful, but I don’t see what acceptance of my feelings gets me either. Seems like either way I’m screwed.

I wish that I could be more positive. I know the tone of my writing has been extremely low. But that’s where I’m at right now. Especially on a Sunday, when there’s a whole week laid out ahead of me. It feels like more than I can take. I just want to stay in bed and call out, but I know I can’t.

I’m still here, not really living, just trying to get through the day to day. Just surviving.

 

Empty Chairs

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there! Especially to those of you who have been struggling lately. I feel like many of the bloggers I follow are having a hard time and I have been too. Holidays, although they are meant to be joyous, can be a trigger for many.

I am lucky that I always have a place to go on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have always split time between both sides of the family and I have gratitude for that because I know many aren’t as fortunate. While I (mostly) love the opportunity to spend time with my family, the holidays can be a difficult time for me because of the people who aren’t here to spend it with us anymore.

Namely, my grandparents.

My mother’s father died when I was only seven and we lost both of my grandmothers months apart in 2014. They were really great people, at least as far as I ever knew and can remember. My grandfather doted on my cousin and I, we were his everything. My grandmothers both showed their love in their own way, and were such stable, enduring parts of our family. Their love was always implied in the way they took care of us, quietly and without asking for things in return. Looking back at this, I was so very lucky to have them and so very unaware of that when they were actually here.

As a little kid, all four of my grandparents lived close and were very involved in my life. I saw them a lot, especially on holidays. Time was shared equally between sides. We spent Christmas Eve with my mother’s parents and saw my father’s parents Christmas morning. I don’t specifically remember where Thanksgiving was always spent, but I know it was likely a mix of both of them. They were usually the hosts, the central hub where everyone came together.

Then my grandfather died. Three days after Christmas, no less.

I won’t say that my family fractured at the loss, but it was a devastating blow to us. I didn’t realize the magnitude of how we stumbled until years later, when I found out how grief truly affected my mother and uncle. We recovered, but that started the transition.  A divorce in the family changed Christmas Eve celebrations to the 23rd and my grandmother didn’t host Christmas anymore. My parents didn’t want to travel the distance to where Christmas was relocated, so holidays became split of sides. My mother’s side for Thanksgiving, my father’s for Christmas.

This is, by the way, about the point where Christmas stopped being such a magical time for me. To this day, I still love the holiday most of all, but my best memories are from those years where I had all four of my grandparents and that sense of loss was far from anyone’s mind.

So anyway, this was how it was for many years. Somewhere in that time period, we lost my uncle. And we went on. Then my grandmother got sick. That year, we spent both holidays with my mother’s side, knowing it would be her last with us. And it was, but what I didn’t know at the time was that it was also my Nana’s. We lost her just a week before the following Thanksgiving.

Holidays since 2014 have been a mismatch of family get-togethers. There is always somewhere to go, but no longer any routine to where I end up. Sometimes, for reasons I won’t go into, I don’t even spend Thanksgiving with my parents anymore. It’s such a weird thing to discover that certain people are the glue in your family. Usually, you only discover this once those people are gone and you get to see what happens now that the glue is no longer there to support everyone else.

We are still a family. We are still together. I have one living grandparent left at this point in my life and he is such a vital part of it. But we are two distinctly different families than we were three years ago, twelve years ago, seventeen years ago.

While I love the holidays, they are a period of reminders for me. Reminders of the people they were and what we were robbed of when they were taken from us by illness. Reminders of what might still be if they were still here. And the worst, the reminder that the chair they should be filling is empty, because they are not here. Not anymore.

That’s the part I hate most about holidays. Those empty chairs. It makes my heart hurt, because I would give literally anything to fill them. Anything to hear those voices, see their faces. To spend five minutes with them. If that were only possible…

Instead, I’m forever stuck with memories of tearful relatives as my grandfather lay dying in his bed on Christmas Eve. Of my grandma giving me a necklace that she had engraved for me, knowing it would be the last gift she’d ever give me. Of my family all together at Thanksgiving, trying hard to forget the reason so many of us are there is because we buried my nana days earlier.

It’s a pervasive grief that I haven’t let go of, and probably won’t for a long time, maybe ever. It’s a grief I don’t know how to talk about, because there is a statue of limitations on how long it is okay to openly and emotionally miss them. Because no one in my family ever seems to want to verbalize it aloud, when that’s all I want on those days. To say “I miss her. I miss him.” and have someone echo that sentiment. To hear that they ache for my grandparents too, the same way I do.

But no, we don’t talk about that. So I quietly miss them, remember them, love them. I love their memory so much that just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes.

I loved the laughter of today. I loved the gentle teasing, reminiscing about our childhood, the sports talk. I love that we will be back together in a month to do it again.

It would just have been so much better had those empty chairs been a little less empty.

 

I don’t have it in me for a full post tonight, but I stumbled across this while perusing social media today.

I’m feeling almost calm at the moment. I did not skip therapy. I went, I said over and over how frustrated and agitated and exhausted I am and have been. Therapist listened. She validated. She comforted.

No new revelations, but no unraveling. Just talking and tears and more talking.

I am still stuck in the awful, and my God it is awful, but I am hoping to see some of that breathtaking beauty soon.

I’m holding on.

If

It’s not that I think they wouldn’t care.

No, I think they’d care. In the beginning. They’d care the way people do when something is fresh and raw. To some, it would be a shock. To others, maybe not so much. They’d grieve openly. Say things like “it’s a shame” or “she had so much to live for.” Probably never to understand. It doesn’t always make a lot of sense to me. They’d grieve, at a level that is normal to anyone who loses someone.

But that would be the immediacy of it. With time, as with anything, the pain would fade. It’s the brains coping mechanism for surviving, for keeping on. If the pain stayed that intense, if it permeated their lives, it would make existing too difficult. People adjust, they cope by letting go. Moving on is a necessary evil to function, it is a part of being human.

So I know that no matter how much there would be an immediate sense of loss for some people, in the grand scheme of things it would not really matter. Because people let go. They move on. They don’t forget, but the impact lessens. We have to.

They would be okay if I did it. If.

And besides, shouldn’t I be living for me and not for them?

Even as I’m talking to other people with these feelings, encouraging them to see the merits of life, I just feel a greater pull of myself towards what I’m telling them not to do. It seems so simple to me that they have things to live for. I see it clearly, whereas I see myself much differently. I feel like I have so little, and am failing so many. I feel like every move I make is wrong.

So even if they cared, even if they hurt from it, maybe it would be in their best interest. Maybe I’m just beyond repair.

It’s kind of a weird feeling to be actively suicidal. To have stuff like that feel like a comfort, a great fallback option. To know it’s there if and when you can’t come back from all your failure.

To anyone else it sounds incomprehensible. But to me it makes perfect sense.

It hurts to exist right now. I’m stuck in it, on an endless loop. Feeling okay then going deep in the bad feelings. Spirals of good, okay, bad, worse, and utter shit.

That’s me right now.

Spiraling.

I think about the people in my life. I think about what it would feel like to leave them, what it would feel like for them to get left behind. I think about myself spiraling, descending into this black hole.

I know they’d care, but I don’t know if it would be enough to stop me if the day came.