Letter To A “Friend” – Living With BPD

I wrote this to a friend a while ago in a moment of anger, but never gave it to her. I thought I’d share it here, but add something more positive at the end.

Dear “friend”

You think you know me. But you only see what you want to see. You only see what I allow you to see.

So let me give you a glimpse into my inner world.

Do you know how it feels to hate yourself so intensely that you hurt yourself because you think you deserve it, and constantly put yourself down, because the thought of being good to yourself seems like a right that only other people have? That you’re not worthy of this life. You’re like a ghost walking through this world. Never feeling you belong.

Do you know how it feels to be empty? Completely devoid of feeling? A bottomless pit of darkness? It can also feel like there’s something inside you that you don’t have access to. A locked room, with the key nowhere to be found. It can’t be reached. It can’t be touched. It can’t be felt. Only the sense that it’s there makes it real. And when you’re not feeling empty, you feel too much, too intensely. Imagine a small cut. Now take that cut, pull the skin apart, put your finger into it, widening it, opening it up. To you the cut remains that small cut. To me, that cut feels like it is being poked and prodded at constantly. The emptiness, or feeling too much. Which is worse… A flood or a drought? They both bring great turmoil and devastation. Can you imagine living through those two natural disasters, and just when one is over and you think everything is going to be fine, you’re hit with the other? This is what goes on inside me constantly. Welcome to my reality.

Do you know how it feels to have death on your mind every day for weeks at a time Planning, preparing to die, but unable to go through with it. But deep down inside you fear there will come a day where you won’t be able to stop it from taking you over completely. Resulting in total finality. Most days a fight just to survive. A fight to hold on. To be so tired of fighting, that death seems the only way to get rest and be free from the torment of a seemingly worthless existence.

Do you know how it feels to become so taken over by another human being that you can’t escape them? That you long to be a part of them, one with them? Even a few days without them feels like an eternity, and it feels you’re so much a part of this person that if they leave it seems there would need to be a surgical procedure to remove them from you completely. That you’ll never be whole again. That your very survival depends upon this person. The thought of the person ever leaving you is enough to make you do things you normally would never do. Go against your values. Yet constantly feeling you’re not good enough. That the person you’re with can’t possibly love you, because you’re so defective. But still desperately holding onto to them.

Do you know what it’s like to be walking around when you’re suddenly transported out of your body, watching everything going on around you as normal? Voices are like whispers, whispers you can’t quite hear or make sense of. You feel completely alone. You don’t feel real. The world around you doesn’t feel real. It’s as if you’re sleepwalking.

Do you know what it’s like to not have a clear sense of who you are? What is that which you took on from other’s, and what is really you? Taking on other’s emotions and feeling them as if they were your own? To not know what you’re really good at. To constantly compare yourself to others and feeling you’re not good at those things you thought you were good at? To change your career path because you are so convinced it’s what you really want, when it’s actually something you’ve never enjoyed, but went down the path because you took on someone else’s desires.

Do you know what it’s like to be turned into a whiny, tantrum throwing toddler when you’re under extreme stress, or you’re scared and panicking? You feel unable to control yourself. You feel you need someone to just slap you or speak to you calmly to help you remember to focus and breathe. Then feeling hopelessly embarrassed and ashamed once the waves of emotion have calmed down.

Do you never lose your temper? Do you always treat people perfectly? Have you never felt any of these things, if only for a while and to a limited extent?

So before you judge me… Think about how you would feel if our roles were reversed. Then tell me again I’m over-reacting. Tell me again to “get over it”. Can you?

Your friend,
Rayne

P.S. Now that I’ve mentioned the Black, let’s shed some light on the White:

I feel happiness to a whole other level. Euphoria I’ll call it. A state of such intense bliss and excitement, it feels as though I’m flying high above the earth and nothing can bring me down. I can do and be anything. Nothing and no one can hurt or harm me. I’m invincible.

When I love, I love completely. I give all of me. I’m compassionate, empathetic, intuitive and can sense your emotions better than you think. I know when you’re feeling sad, even when you try to cover it up, and will do anything to make you smile again, to lift you up.

I’m adaptable, and can blend into any environment and situation. I’m resilient and strong, and rise out of the deadliest fires like the mythical Phoenix.

I’m here, writing this right now. And for that, I can be proud.

Living Black & White

Woke up this morning and got started on my day, thinking I’d enjoy my day off work. I didn’t have any plans besides reading and catching up on the blogs I follow religiously, and get some needed study time in.

I did that a little bit (except for the studying part), but couldn’t help noticing that I was feeling really strange. Like I don’t exist. Like I don’t even have a name. I tried saying my name a few times, hoping to feel some recognition or “togetherness”, but it just didn’t sound right. It was as though the name didn’t belong to me. Like I’m no one. Not part of this world. Just floating somewhere, and I don’t even know where. How am I? I don’t even know if I am. There’s nothing. Just emptiness.

That continued on for most of the day. I attempted to study, but just couldn’t focus, no matter how hard I tried. So once again, I put my book aside. I can’t remember anything else from the day up until my therapy session. It’s been a long 2 weeks between sessions. Way too long.

It didn’t quite go the way I had planned. Not that I plan my sessions, but I at least know more or less what I want to talk about or what issues to address. I was surprised by the direction it ended up going in. We spoke about my excessive suicidal ideation over the past two weeks. She told me she was worried about me, and the truth is, I’m worried too. It just seems to be getting worse. We agreed that I would consider admission to hospital for a small amount of time (maybe a few days), which is something I never seriously considered before. I had thought about it once or twice in the past, but for the briefest few minutes. This time though, I think it might just be necessary and a good thing.

My therapist pointed out my black and white thinking during our conversation. I didn’t recognize that’s what was happening. After our session though I realized that I had been in “all or nothing” mode during our entire session. If she hadn’t mentioned that thinking pattern I wouldn’t have even known I was in it, and I wouldn’t have realized that I’d been doing it the whole time. I really should start noticing it from now on. I’ve never paid much attention to it. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this thought process:

Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism used by many people. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).

I feel really horrible. I feel like the worst client ever (did I just do it again?). Replaying the session back in my head and trying to see things from another perspective other than my own, I realize that the things I said could possibly have made her feel like I was “attacking” her and her skills as a Psychologist. Which wasn’t my intention at all. I think she’s the most amazing therapist. I told her in the beginning when she asked me about my suicide plan, that I didn’t want to talk to her about it, because I always feel invalidated by her, and that she doesn’t take me seriously when talking about that topic. She explained why she says what she says during those times, and I finally get it. She wasn’t invalidating me, she wasn’t careless about it, she was encouraging me to see my own strength and resilience. And now that I understand, I’m grateful for it and to her.

She pushed me today and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. But she knows what she’s doing, and like she says, therapy isn’t always easy.

I’m feeling really shitty, embarrassed and weird about it. Shitty, weird, embarrassed, and exhausted. I just want to crawl into a hole and hide away for a while. My bed will have to do instead.

The Dream And A Missing Psychologist

I find dreams fascinating. Even nightmares.

Growing up, I had a few recurrent dreams. They have stuck with me through the years, and every once in a while (very rarely at least) I have one of them again. I’ll write about each one sometime.

Now, I have a new dream. I’ve had it only once before, but even one repeat tells me there are issues I need to deal with.

The first time I had this particular dream was during one of my own vacations, and I couldn’t see my therapist that week.

I had the same dream again last night.

I go into my old living room and see my dad, a woman from our past, and my new stepmom. The woman has blood all over her face, and is sitting on the couch, which is also full of blood. He looks mad. And I know he did that to her. My stepmom is quiet and just standing there. My dad starts shouting and screaming. I tell them I’m just going to the bathroom and will be right back.

Terrified, I go out into the hallway, take out my phone and start looking for my therapists number, so I can call her and ask her what I must do. Do I phone the hospital or the police or both? Remember this is a dream, so even though the answer is simple in waking life, it didn’t work that way here. Anyway, my phone doesn’t respond, and does its own thing. Opening other apps and not allowing me into my contact list. I’m getting extremely frustrated and panicking.

Suddenly, I find myself outside. Everything is grey and there’s a heavy mist all around. I realize I’m standing in water up to my knees. I feel this urge to look for something. Only I don’t know what. There are big, tall buildings all around me, and I’m walking through narrow spaces between the buildings. I’m getting anxious, claustrophobic and overwhelmed. All the while I’m still trying to find my therapists number. I eventually manage to get into my contact list, but her number isn’t there anymore. There’s no trace of her anywhere on my phone. All the messages I had, also gone. As if I had never met her. As if she had never existed.

The water (that I’ve been walking through the entire time) starts getting deeper. Dark water, black as tar. My next step, I plunge down into the water, as if the ground had just given way beneath me. I struggle to the surface and manage to come back up for air. Just as I take a big gulp of air, something pulls me beneath the surface again.

I wake up in a panic, and check my phone. Everything is still there. Momentary relief.

It seems to happen when I don’t see my therapist for a week or more. I’ve only started seeing her at the beginning of last month, so the therapy process and these feelings toward her are still relatively new. By the time we have our next session, it would have been exactly 2 weeks since our last one. What is 2 weeks? For me… A lifetime. So I know this dream has a lot to do with my fear of her not being around anymore, of her not coming back. Of forgetting about me. Which is extremely frustrating because I know logically that it’s not true. But my logical center either suffers from memory loss or has a short attention span. The emotional part then takes over quickly, throwing me into a panic, and convincing me of the opposite. The fear is soothed (for a while at least) when and if being reassured that said person will indeed come back. It’s a special type of torture that only those who experience the same thing will be able to understand.

I follow Dr. Gerald Stein’s blog (which I highly recommend if you haven’t stumbled upon it by now), a retired Clinical Psychologist who often blogs about psychotherapy. It’s always helpful to read things from a therapist’s point of view. And this article I read seemed fitting for this post:

‘Managing The Dread Of A Therapists Vacation’

Feel free to offer any of your own interpretations of this dream if you wish. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s perspectives.

The Highs & Lows of the Therapeutic Relationship

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but have tried to put it off. It feels like I’ll be walking out into the street naked. But I have read similar posts by a couple of other people, which was a great help and comfort to me. And since this is part of my life, if someone can relate and not feel like they’re alone, that can only be a good thing.

Let me start with a quick background on my first meeting with my therapist.

Sitting in the waiting room, my heart was racing. And suddenly, there she was. Calling my name.

Following her, I felt strangely safe. I don’t remember ever feeling safe with someone right off the bat. Actually, there aren’t many people I feel safe around in general. But I digress.

When we sat down, that feeling remained. I was nervous and anxious, yes. But something else was also happening. Something I still can’t explain. She somehow managed to get me to open up and reveal certain things in record time. I felt an instant connection. And that was it. She had me.

Now, let’s rip this band aid off.

I love my therapist.

As in love love. I sometimes have to stop myself from just saying the words “I love you”. Sure, I might say “I have this crazy obsession or attachment to you”. Those are the words coming out of my mouth. But those aren’t the words I really want to say.

I’ve been reading Life In A Bind’s blog for a while now (have started from her first ever post and working my way to the latest – still a lot to go, but amazing stuff there), and there’s a post that I could really relate to, as with a lot of her other posts. I want to quote a paragraph that pretty much sums up how I feel about the therapeutic relationship:

Whether the feelings relate to a friend, a partner or a therapist, the intensity of an obsessive attachment has brought me, repeatedly, both the most intense highs and the most painful lows. It seems to me that therapy, in particular, is a cruel form of unrequited love in which attachment can be necessary for healing, but the boundaries of the relationship may serve to make the obsessional nature of the attachment even more painful.

You can find the rest of the post here (I also recommend the original post she links to as she describes the topic of obsessive attachments so perfectly and beautifully):
http://lifeinabind.com/2015/03/16/memory-monday-waiting-to-fall-bpd-and-obsessive- attachments/

We have a therapeutic relationship. My mind knows this. But in my heart she’s also a lot more. I don’t know what or who exactly. It seems to shift and change constantly. There was only one occasion where I knew exactly who she was for me in a specific life event, which I told her about during one of our sessions. The rest of the time I have no idea. How do I love her? Well, I suppose all the ways you can love someone.

I was also relieved to discover that I’m also not the first person who has to stop themselves from phoning, texting or emailing their therapist constantly. Most of the time I succeed in resisting that temptation. The rest of the time? I just can’t help it. Sometimes it’s as if someone else has taken control of my body, and I’m powerless to stop it. I feel like one of these children in this test:

How can they do that to the poor child? He/she desperately wants that marshmallow, but must fight a great internal battle to resist eating it. Sure, it’s cute and funny to watch. But to actually live it? Not so much.

Boundaries suck, and I don’t care how necessary they are. I hate them. Which is probably why I’m terrible at setting them… I feel there’s always certain situations where they should be broken. Boundaries shouldn’t be black and white. Where the hell is the grey in all this?

During one of our sessions we spoke about the motivation behind my actions. For example, what was my motivation in sending a specific email? What did I want or expect from her when sending it? I actually found that quite profound. It really made me think and question my motivations. Which is something I’m finding myself doing quite often now. I only recently realized another one of my intentions for the majority of my communications with her outside of our sessions. Over and above my other expectations of course. To make sure she’s okay. If I receive a reply, I know she’s fine. If I don’t… I worry about her until I next hear from her. Writing this right now, something else came to mind. Is it totally just for her? Yes, I care about her. I want her to be happy, healthy and safe. But I think there’s a selfish reason thrown in the mix too. If she’s not happy, healthy or safe… that will mean… Here’s that word again… Abandonment. And here I thought I was just a very caring person. Self image… Blown. Damn. This writing process just threw me my first revelation. Not one I like, but maybe necessary.

Moving on. I’ve always had this overwhelming urge to protect those I love and care about. I once chased down a guy, tackled him to the ground, put my hands around his neck and told him if he ever did anything like that again I would kill him. All because he threw a stone at my little sister. Well, I feel justified… it almost hit her in the face. My therapist is only the latest in this delusion. I call it a delusion because I can’t even protect myself, so how do I expect to protect others? Logically, I know she doesn’t need protecting, but that’s not the point. What do I need to protect her from? I can’t tell you, because I don’t even know myself. Maybe sometimes from the very person writing this? One day, she jokingly (I hope) said I seem to be a superhero… And now I fell into that trap again. Oh if she could hear me now. But seriously, if I think of anyone hurting her, whether physically or emotionally, I feel I would rip them apart. I’ve done Muay Thai, MMA and Krav Maga, so have a good set of skills I could use for this purpose. Yes, I secretly am a superhero. 😛

The past couple days, I find I’m trying to find someone to “replace” her with. Someone else who I can turn my obsession over to instead. Why can’t things just feel normal? Why must everything be so damn intense or agonizing? Why do I feel the need for an attachment? Why do I get these obsessions? I would love to be rid of that. Yet at the same time, I actually don’t. It’s like a drug. Along with a comment from the above mentioned blogger, one of my best friends told me that at least this is a ‘healthy’ attachment. That if it wasn’t her it might be someone who’s not good for me, as I’ve been in the habit of doing through the years, so I should just accept how I feel instead of trying to fight it. Maybe I must ask my therapist what she thinks about this. It does make sense I guess. It just doesn’t stop the guilt and shame.

While writing this post, I could hear the word all too well… Transference, transference, transference. But the question is… Who, what, where and why?

I was questioning my motivations regarding therapy as well recently, as I currently find myself in a very uncomfortable position. Unable to set a date for a next session due to financial constraints (we’re currently working on sorting this out at least, and I’m on a job hunt). It feels like a loose end not having a date for a session. Bad enough is the fact that even a week without seeing her feels like months. Now with this added complication, I feel horrible and hopeless thinking it might be weeks or months before we can resume our sessions. So I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel this way. The only conclusion I can come to is that yes, while I am slightly obsessed with my therapist, and love just being in her presence, I also know that healing can, and is, taking place. Even if I felt nothing for her, I would want to continue and have as many regular sessions as it takes. I arranged an appointment with a Clinical Psychologist because I was in a desperate place, and I just couldn’t go it alone anymore. So wanting to get help came first. Loving my therapist is a bonus (or a curse, depending on how you look at it). By the way, for those of you who see your therapist twice a week… I’m jealous.

In closing, despite the fact that I would love to know more about her (everything actually), and have her as more than a therapist (I’m pretty sure we’d be able to be friends – don’t get any other ideas – I’m talking to myself here too), I still think our relationship is pretty perfect. As she says, we work well together. Such true words. At the end of the day, I feel supported and cared for. And, for now at least, the joys of this relationship far exceed the frustrations.