Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Stormy Week

This is a post from nearly four years ago, when I first began to address my BPD. Unfortunately the treatment I was on at the time didn't suit me... I was unable to manage my feelings of anger. Eventually, I exploded during the group, at both service users and staff! Hence by mutual agreement I left the treatment. Looking back I can see the patterns of unhelpful coping strategies which were inadequate to manage what was going on. I am so glad that I can read this and know that I have moved on and to share it with others with BPD and say, there are therapies which offer you new skills and strategies so that you are no longer ruled by your emotions:
(August 2010)'Last week was a particularly stormy week. Following the day the week before when no one but me turned up to take part, my confidence in others was shaken. My equilibrium was somewhat disturbed - for this read strong cravings to drink myself stupid and other self destructive thoughts.... it's ok... wait a few hours and I'll be brighter again.

Anyway, it all started with a nonchalant little message which popped up on my tv screen: "Your subscription has ended. In a few moments your system will reboot." This was technospeak from my communications provider that they were kindly cutting off my broadband, tv and telephone 'bundle'. Given that my only communication with the outside world sometimes is one of these methods and that one of my 'strategies' for 'self calming' is my store of suitably mind numbing tv programmes which have been recorded, this was not good.

I had woken up knowing that this was going to be a 'bad day' and had planned a day under my fluffy blanket watching trash. The waves of hopelessness had begun early.

And what was my crime - well actually, none, I had paid nearly £150 to bring the ebill up to date.

So, you say, just phone them and give them a piece of your mind. The problem being that my mind being what it is, the depersonalised message became symbolic of every abusive relationship, every shoddy friendship and every time a human being had ever let me down - which over my lifetime has been a lot. I was reduced to a sodden heap bemoaning my lot in life - believing that I would NEVER be able to function in such a cruel world. An overreaction? Not in my mind: in my mind, this was typical and emblematic.

Unfortunately, for her, my sister phoned at this moment. I would normally have phoned the local Mental Health Duty Team and worked my way through the automatic thoughts, yadda, yadda. However, the 'bundle' switch off included my house phone and I only had access to approximately £2.00 of credit on my 'pay as you go'. So, my poor sister encountered a 'crisis'. Being practical she phoned and gave them a piece of HER mind during which she pointed out that I had 'Mental Health problems' and 'they' had 'pushed me over the edge', not an exagerration.

I eventually braved using up my Pay as you go credit and left a message with the Crisis Team. Finally, a duty officer phoned rousing me from under my fluffy coccoon where I was trying to get absorbed in daytime television. A struggle after nearly seven months of sick leave.

It may strike you as odd that all that she did was tell me that these things happen to everyone and that it wasn't the end of the world. But as with everything in my head, it is not always about what it's about, it's about everything that has ever happened to me. The CBT exercises had been neglected that week and I hadn't challenged any of my negative thinking until finally the removal of some of my comforts led to an explosion of highly toxic emotions.

What I was really angry about was the people who had not turned up to the group earlier in the week. No, I don't bear grudges, but sometimes my anger goes so deep it smoulders deep down, fed by decades of being manipulated by both my emotions and other humans. This week, I kept stoking the smouldering embers: Why should they, I reasoned, be 'allowed' to 'get away' with disrespecting the group?

My frustration is with myself mostly, because I am hardest on myself and therefore I have exceptionally high standards which I expect others to keep to.... except that I normally will excuse others way before I'll give myself a break. However, on this one day, I was fed up of giving other people a break and I wanted to moan about them getting support and help from actual 'care co-ordinators'. It seems that to get this kind of help you need to be really out of order, either aggressive or constantly threatening this or that....Me? I manage to keep most of my emotions under control in public and then unleash them on myself, so I can be justified when I say that no one cares. Instead, I let my anger out at individuals in the group who I believed were 'getting away with it'. Apparently I slammed the door so hard the cues hanging on the back fell out of their frame. My anger grew as I was prevented from leaving the building. Eventually I persuaded them that I had calmed down. They took their eyes off me long enough for me to walk out.... I knew that was the end of the therapy, but I couldn't handle the distress from my emotions and escaping from it has always been my most effective way of escaping distressing situations.

And just as quickly as it came the storm passed. My emotions are like that, intense, destructive and profound. They feel as if I will always feel that way, but speak to me a week later and generally I struggle to remember exactly how I felt. Especially, when I have good days. That's BPD.

Right now I can look at this piece and reinforce to myself - see, no matter how intense they are in the moment, the feelings have passed and you can move on. I don't have to be a prisoner of my emotions.