The Photo That Made Me Smile Today

I haven’t written about it, but last week was a difficult one for me, with BPD and PTSD symptoms in full swing. It’s hard enough dealing with one of those things, but together? At a few points I literally thought I was going to die, or that I was busy dying. Unless you’ve experienced something like this, you’ll probably think I’m exaggerating. But it all feels so real, so intense in those moments. The flashbacks, the physical bodily sensations, and on top of that the fear (and being convinced) of abandonment, among other things. It was just a horrible few days, and even despite having spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning with two friends, I still feel some of the effects.

After therapy today (which really helped me make sense of some things, and made me feel heard, validated, and held), I came home feeling a little lighter and more “here”. I came across this gorgeous photo of a Golden Retriever (my favourite dog breed), and couldn’t help but smile. It warmed my heart.

Sometimes it’s that one tiny moment of happiness that whispers “stay”.

celine-sayuri-tagami-448870-unsplash
Photo by Celine Sayuri Tagami
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Building The Therapeutic Relationship

My therapy session last week Wednesday marked a turning point in my relationship with my new therapist. I usually do 30 minute sessions with her, as that way I’m able to see her every week. But I wasn’t ready to leave this time… I wasn’t in a good space. So she said we could stretch it to an hour session. The nice thing about having her work part-time at the clinic is that the patients don’t have set times for sessions. Which was a major problem for me when I was still in there, and after figuring that out, my therapist started giving me rough times for our sessions (+/- an hours difference), which was so much better for me than not knowing at all.

At some point during the session I realized… I’m growing attached to C. I never thought it would happen. It’s terrifying, and was one of the contributing factors to my intense moment on Friday. I had become really good at containing myself when it comes to emails and texts, but had a relapse on Friday, which culminated in me sending her a panicked apology email after the first one I had sent. She was nice about it though, and in her reply told me that I didn’t do anything wrong (I had been convinced I had, and that she would “drop me”). We had a session today, and spoke about it. She told me that she won’t do that to me. She won’t just reject and abandon me. The relief those words bring is profound. Although I still don’t trust her fully just yet, but like she says, it’s a process.

She had asked me last week if I have any items or objects that I use to help soothe and regulate myself, and helps me feel connected to certain important people (like A) or places. I showed her one of the cards that A had sent me (and that I carry everywhere with me), and also that I have a “therapy jacket” from my early days with A that helps with that. When my therapist asked me last week what I can do to take our safe space, that feeling, home with me when I leave, I told her that I can’t seem to hold onto things like that. I jokingly told her I could take her with me though. That was a nice light moment. Before I left today she told me that she has something for me, and after packing out her whole bag (this had me laughing, because as a lot of women know, this is a familiar scene), she handed me a piece of rose quartz. It’s significant because in her office there are some small pot plants and a big rose quartz ornament thing, all of which I love touching and looking at, so she uses them as grounding objects when I dissociate. Anything I can touch and play with helps significantly. So I loved that she gave me that, because it reminds me of that space and of her. When I got home I just crashed onto my bed, got under my weighted blanket, put on an episode of a series I’m watching and just held onto that stone the entire time. I decided to just listen to my body, no work, no nothing, just watch TV for as long as I wanted and take a much-needed nap. When I hold this stone I feel calm and soothed. I can’t believe how much it helps. It has the energy it’s intended to have.

I sent A an email last week. She told me that she doesn’t want me to feel guilty or have regret at having moved to C. That she agreed and supported my decision, and that she was proud of me for taking that step. Those words meant so much to me. I realized how much guilt and fear I have been holding onto. Reading those words felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. “It’s okay”.

I haven’t been doing well lately. Life is too much for me to handle right now. So many things are going wrong. Yesterday and today I’ve been angry at the whole world. Myself included. And I’m not too sure where all this rage and hatred is coming from. I’m aware that I’m being irrational in some moments, but I’m struggling to find a more balanced and mature way to handle things. Half the time I don’t even know why I’m angry. What I’m really angry at or about. I’ve had intense cravings and desires to relive the drug and alcohol filled days of my 20’s. Just one of the reasons I’m angry at myself. During today’s session I threw something across the room (nothing that could break) and punched the wall. Essentially throwing a teenage tantrum. I was relieved when my therapist didn’t yell at me, and there was no negative reaction from her, which helped calm me down. Maybe a part of me wanted her to yell at me. Maybe I wanted a reason to hate her and not feel the attachment. I apologized and told her that I’m not angry with her, which she said she knew. I spent the rest of the session just crying. I’ve been filled with so much anger the past couple of days and when I would start to feel tears coming and the anger dying down, I’d resist. But in the session, I just couldn’t anymore. I know it’s okay to cry. I know it isn’t good to shove it down. But still, I couldn’t break through that wall until today.

I just feel exhausted now. All that pent-up energy is gone and I feel like sleeping for a couple of days. I’m thinking of taking tomorrow off work. And that means all work, not just from my office job. I’ve been trying to do too much and solve too many problems that I just don’t have the strength for right now. I need to take care of myself.

This post seems to be a little all over the place, but I couldn’t be bothered about that, so it is what it is. I need to process and my brain isn’t functioning at optimal level.

BPD Got Me

Friday night I had a full on BPD moment. For the first time in many months, I experienced intense, extremely painful emotions. DBT skills out the window- Distress Tolerance, what’s that? How do I do that? My cognitive functioning was severely impaired, and the only way I could think of to cope was through self-harm (which I haven’t done in months either). This episode shook me. I had forgotten how horrific this type of experience was. I’ve been in a dark, depressive place ever since.

I don’t want to go into specifics right now as to what set me off, but I will say that it was a cumulative effect… two days worth. I’m exhausted and can’t write much at the moment.

I feel as though all the progress I’ve made over the past two years has been lost. But maybe that’s just the depression speaking.

A Good Therapy Session

I’m feeling a bit better today. Clearer. Less confused.

Last night I went to group and during the break I saw C on her way out. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed during group, and without even thinking about it, I ran to catch up to her. I had no plan. So when the first words out of my mouth were “I want A”, I was surprised. I can’t really remember much of what happened next. I vaguely remember C saying something and asking me questions, but it’s all a blur. I had sent her a message the day before telling her that I want to cancel our session for this week. I had bumped into her just before group as well, and told her that we could have a session next week instead. What I remember very clearly during these weird few minutes during group break, was asking whether we can still have our session today.

So that’s how I wound up in her office this afternoon. I spilled the beans, and told her everything I mentioned in my previous post. My doubts, self-doubt. Thoughts. Feelings. All of it. And C validated me every step of the way, which just made opening up easier.

She asked me what had happened the previous evening. What had changed between me seeing her an hour earlier and being adamant about not having our scheduled session, to my request to have the session after all? That one stumped me. After a little introspection, it hit me. Attachment pain (as one of my fellow bloggers puts it). The OT I had worked with last year was facilitating the group last night. The first time in months. During group I had been fighting that feeling of attachment, among other things going on in the group. Missing A and wanting to go back to her hadn’t left, and the two situations fed off one another, culminating in a big attachment mess in my mind.

The reason I had initially canceled our session was because I felt I needed more time to figure this shit out. I have also been wary of how things were going and didn’t want to deal with C this week. It came out during the session that another reason was that in my mind she was the “bad object” (she used this term) I wanted to get distance from.

Just as an aside: This is very hard for me, but instead of referring to her as “C” like I’ve been doing up to this point, I’m going to refer to her as “my therapist”. I’ve realized that’s one way I’ve been keeping her at an emotional distance, so I need to change this.

Anyway, we spoke about a lot of things in only 45 minutes (it was supposed to be a 30-minute session, but we went over) that have come up since we started working together, including the relationship. One of the things I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my therapist hugging another client, came up too. She actually brought it up, which I was grateful for, since that was one of the things I wanted to discuss with her. She said that A and I had established boundaries over the course of our relationship. It had been a process. Painful and frustrating at times. But I settled into it eventually, and it became the norm. I was used to those boundaries. To the way things worked. I knew what was acceptable, what wasn’t. And now some things work and look different. So it’s normal that I’m feeling confused, unsure, and insecure. She said that whenever there’s a threat to a structure I’m comfortable with, that’s when I become unsettled. She mentioned a few other instances of this (things I haven’t written about). One of them is the time she came into my room when I was still in the clinic, to see one of my roommates (who didn’t want to come down to her session). Things like this that threw me off and sent me into meltdown/tantrum mode. When she said this, it just all clicked into place. It cleared up the confusion I had around these times. About what was happening inside me.

As the session progressed, I found myself softening toward her. I told her that I feel like I abandoned A, and that I didn’t do things the right way. But I’ll send A an email about this when she gets back (I see she’s currently away on leave). The more I spoke about her, the sadder I felt. At some point I switched and felt anger toward her for being away on leave. “again“. My therapist pointed out that A had suddenly become the “bad object” and she, C, the good one. That’s when I started crying. She was right. And I hadn’t even been aware of it until she mentioned it. Her tone of voice changed to soft and gentle, which only made me cry harder. She told me that it’s okay and possible to have two “good objects” at the same time. I remember A had also pointed out how I tend to do that.

So much of what my therapist had said this session made so much sense. So many things seemed to fall into place.

Today was the first time I felt she was really in tune with me. The first time I actually felt some real connection to her. In the short time I’ve been seeing her, she’s taken a lot of crap from me, and always handled it amazingly well. No matter how much I’ve acted out, she remains calm, patient, and surprisingly, compassionate. She deserves a medal for that. As does A, although I was more “well behaved” with her.

This was truly the most valuable and insightful session I’ve had since starting with my new therapist. Which gives me hope for future sessions. So I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with it. With her. I hadn’t realized until today that I had actually subconsciously been fighting against her. And as she mentioned again, it will always remain my choice to be there. If I decide I want to go back to A, that will be okay. Even though I feel better now about working with her, it feels even better knowing the option, the choice, is still mine, and there.

Things still don’t feel quite “in place”. I’m hurting a lot, and it’s extremely hard right now. But at least after today, things seem to be moving forward in a positive way with this situation. All I can do is give it time, and truly try to give this my all.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Early morning: Had a nightmare that my girlfriend and I broke up. Woke up with a sigh of relief “whew, it was only a dream.”

A few minutes later: Wait, no, it wasn’t just a dream. A punch in the gut. Overpowering sadness and pain. Physical chest pain also present.

About an hour later: Numb. Dissociated. Thank goodness. Thought that pain was going to kill me. Literally. Can a person die from a broken heart? Like, can you actually get a heart attack from too much emotional pain in one go?

Late morning-afternoon: The truth hits again. I hate her. No, I love her. Dammit! I hate people. The human race sucks. Going to go live in the woods. Overwhelming rage. Panic and fear (can’t remember why). Feeling so stupid. What the hell is wrong with me? Despair: I’m useless. Worthless. Unlovable. They all left. Everyone leaves. Another breakdown. Dissociation again. Forget the next few hours.

Evening: Exhausted. Depressed. Going to take some pills and go to bed super early.

Now:
Just threw everything out of my closest. Time for some spring cleaning! Yay! I can take on the world right now, and WIN! I’m so fucking awesome! Riding the glorious wave of hypomania. Feeling so happy, I could burst.

Okay, now back to my cleaning. This room is a beautiful mess right now.

A Bad Weekend

One of the criteria in the DSM for Borderline PD:

9. TRANSIENT, STRESS-RELATED PARANOID IDEAS OR SEVERE DISSOCIATIVE SYMPTOMS.

I posted a “poem” the other day (can’t remember when exactly), and removed it at some point. I kept thinking that the person that post was inspired by would somehow come across it. Actually, I was convinced that would be the case.

How do I know when I’m in a highly stressed and mental health crisis state? That right there. The paranoid thoughts. Lots of them, most of which don’t actually even make sense. Heavy dissociation too. Where I can’t remember certain times of the day. It’s either a blur or a complete blank. That’s how this weekend has been for me.

Shutting myself away from the world has seemed like the only way to stay safe. I got an invitation to go out with one of the woman from group and her friends yesterday, but the thought of being with a group of people I have never met before filled me with extreme anxiety. Even the thought got me close to a panic attack. The next instant though, I just shut down. A numbness set in. Apathy. “No, I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t care about anything anymore.” Another reason I didn’t want to go out with this particular person is because being around her for too long tends to drain me. And it was going to be a full day outing. So I don’t think I would have gone even if I had been feeling fine.

I don’t feel safe. Meaning, I feel a constant threat hanging around me. The world feels dangerous. People feel dangerous right now. I went to the shop yesterday to get some stuff, and PTSD traits were raging.

I can’t begin to explain how I felt yesterday. All I can say is that it felt like torture. I just wanted to peel the skin from my body, slice my head open and remove my brain, kind of torture. I thought I was going crazy. I tried to distract myself and do some self-soothing, but that didn’t work too well either. I wanted a hug from my therapist. I feel safe with her. I wanted Elizabeth too, I missed her. But the relationship feels a little fragile and unstable at the moment, so maybe it’s good that we didn’t see one another this weekend (I’m seeing her tonight at least though). I’ve been feeling really lonely. What I wouldn’t give to just have someone around when I’m going through these “crisis” moments. I read blogs by some of you about how wonderful a certain person was during a moment like this, and how much it helped, and I must admit… I get a little sad and jealous when I read these things. I’m glad some people have that, I just wish I could experience this too.

I’m still feeling fragile today, but it’s not as bad as it was over the weekend, which I’m grateful for.

There are just so many things going on. I wish I could sleep for a few weeks (been struggling to sleep lately).  Life is exhausting right now.

Now I’m Ready

I’m glad I went to group tonight.

It was lovely seeing so many familiar faces. Despite it all, I still feel at home at the clinic, which surprised me tonight. My favourite OT, D was leading the group tonight. I shut myself off from her in the beginning. I didn’t even look at her. In those moments I couldn’t even remember why I liked her, and attached to her in the first place. But as time went on, and with every word she said, I felt my heart start to thaw. And when I caught her eye and she smiled, all the negative feelings I had toward her just melted away. In that moment, she was perfect again. A classic case of devaluation and idealization. That’s one aspect of myself that I can’t stand.

After the break the OT brought up the ‘new plan’ for the group again. Especially for the three new people who were there… Explaining how the group works. I decided to speak up. Sometime during group I had realized that I’m okay with it coming to an end. That I was going to be okay. But I knew the other two regular ladies were still having a hard time with it, and didn’t agree with the decision. So when I spoke up, I shared how the news had affected me, and how I have been feeling about the team’s decision. I was at peace after that. I felt I had been assertive and spoken clearly. Trying to advocate not for myself anymore at one point, but for the other two ladies who are still struggling. I felt heard and respected by the OT. And I feel empowered.

She told us how hard the decision had been, and that they had taken into account those things we had mentioned and explained their decision a little better than the psychologist had. There’s nothing I can do to change their decision. All I can do is accept it, which I now have done. I also made a decision, and have spoken to the other two ladies about it, and also mentioned it to D. I’m going to start a new group for the three of us. My therapist had actually once suggested I start my own group. It will start off with only us three “regulars”, but that’s fine. They’re on board and happy with the idea, so the only thing that remains is to find a safe and confidential space to meet every week. Or maybe we’ll just start off with twice a month for now, starting middle February, once our time at current group is up.

D reminded me how during the first few months of group, I had barely said a word, and now I was talking and opening up confidently. This group has been really good for me. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. Now it’s time to enter the next stage of life.

I’m ready…