Facts? no, Uncertainty

I’m dealing with some powerful emotions and abandonment triggers, and don’t know how to cope with them right now. I’m trying to use my tools to regulate myself, because I can feel myself heading for a meltdown. It’s been a busy day with way too much stimulation. But even the best tools and things that usually help don’t always work. That’s when it’s helpful to have someone else around. Now that I’m back home alone, I don’t have that.

In DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) they tell you to check the facts before reacting on our emotions. But how the hell am I supposed to do that when I don’t have the facts? I’m someone who needs as much information as possible in order to make decisions, process, understand things, or generally be able to regulate myself.

But there’s uncertainty. The bane of my existence. Uncertainty about so many things.

My meds have just started kicking in, so I’ll end this here before everything starts getting blurry.

Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Safe and “Additional” Diagnosis

Just a relatively quick update, as I don’t have the mental energy right now for an in-depth post explaining everything. There’s way too much.

I’ve been back in the psychiatric clinic for the past two weeks. Didn’t want to come in initially, but my therapist thought it was necessary, and I ultimately agreed. I’m going to be discharged either on Thursday or Friday.

There’s something I haven’t mentioned before, as I haven’t been ready to talk to others about it, or even write about it. A while ago I came across a woman on the autism spectrum, and through identifying with her a lot, I started exploring it. So many things about myself, my life, made sense. I had always believed the stereotypes that comes along with autism, so it was never something I thought would apply to me until then.

I was terrified to bring it up with my therapist for many reasons, but I took the plunge anyway. I was very surprised when she told me that she had ASD as her differential diagnosis for a while already. She had never mentioned it to me before.

We spoke about it (specific symptoms/difficulties) now and then during a session in relation to something else that would come up, but never actually discussed it in any depth. And since it wasn’t something she specialized in, she also couldn’t do any official assessments. I was also wary about making it a “thing” in case I was wrong.

But then out of the blue, just before my admission, she brought up the possibility of getting an assessment while I’m in the clinic. She spoke to my dad before my admission and explained the purpose of the admission, the possibility of ASD, among other things. She was concerned about me, and thought that since I’m going to be living with them again as soon as I get my EU passport, he needs to understand some things. It went very well, and he was receptive and understanding. I was so surprised. He’s been different with me after that. In a good way. We’re having another “meeting” with him this week to discuss the results of my assessments.

I didn’t think anything would come of it actually, but true to her word, she arranged with a specialist to do an assessment with me. It was exhausting. Long. Overwhelming. I also had a sensory evaluation done (on a different day, thank god).

When the results came back and was discussed and explained, I felt so many emotions, I couldn’t even process them all. There was a mixture of heavy relief, intense sadness, my life flashing before my eyes. Memories. Even extreme anger. I’m still processing everything.

Primary diagnosis: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a type previously called Aspergers
Secondary diagnosis: BPD

I strongly suspect my mom is also on the spectrum, as we’re so similar. When I had to ask her questions about my childhood, it brought back memories for her of her own childhood and life too with similar difficulties. She said I was a very different baby and child compared to her other two children, my half-sisters, and understands me better than she does them, even though I didn’t grow up with her. One of her brothers had been diagnosed with ASD as a child, so it seems it might run in her side of the family.

So much of my life makes so much more sense in light of all of this. I make more sense to myself now, and realized just how much masking I did throughout my life. No wonder I’m almost always exhausted and drained. My sensory report also confirmed so much. Feeling useless and stupid because I struggle/d with things that aren’t a big deal to most others… I’m not lazy, stupid, or pathetic. My brain just works differently and deals with certain things in different ways.

A Lifeline

Last week my therapist cancelled our session due to a personal loss.

My heart went out to her.

It was a strange experience. Usually a cancellation would trigger my abandonment issues. But this time all I could think and feel was an intense sadness for her. What this cancellation means to me didn’t even enter my mind (at least not consciously). For the rest of that week I carried on with life as normal.

Of course, I thought about my therapist often, and experienced those same feelings of sadness for her situation. Along with a deep sense of care, and hoping for comfort for her.

Something inside me shifted on Monday. Certain frustrations in my life intensified, and I received some bad news regarding my emigration (a new plan has since been made however). I was feeling extra intense pressure from my dad and everything starting going haywire inside my head. I felt overwhelmed. To the extent where I just wanted to end it all, just wanted to make it stop.

And then the panic set in. The desperation. I wanted my therapist. She would understand. She always does. She was the only one I feel safe with emotionally. Our session was a couple of days away, but what if she cancels again? What if she doesn’t come back? What if our relationship changes due to her loss? Yes, now the attachment demon had arrived. Now it was about me again.

I felt ashamed by these new thoughts and feelings. How could I be so selfish? That’s when the self-hatred kicked in.

On Tuesday came the message I feared. My therapist was cancelling our session this week too. This brought back the memory of another attachment figure, my OT, cancelling two of our sessions back to back, and then sending an email weeks later terminating our work. The reason for the new cancellation was also a trigger. The memorial service was on the day my session was supposed to be. My therapist had said that she would be back in the office this week. So the thought that she was going to be seeing some other clients this week, but not me, felt devastating.

In panic mode all I wanted to do was beg her for a time, any time this week, even just a 10 minute call, which we had done before. I wanted her to know how badly I was taking this. The effect it was having on me. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff since the previous day, and now I was slipping. But despite the frame of mind I was in, I resisted my urges. Because I didn’t want to make things harder for her than they already were. Because I care about her.

But I knew I needed to do something because at that moment I didn’t trust myself with myself. I knew I needed to talk to someone. A professional. I thought of the therapist who I had two sessions with when my therapist was on leave. While I had been comfortable with her, I wasn’t comfortable enough in this situation. I didn’t want anyone that was even remotely connected to my therapist. I wanted A. Other than my current therapist, A knows me best and knows how to work (and deal) with me. We worked together for more than two years after all.

I reached out to her and asked whether we could schedule an appointment for sometime this week. I was worried that she wouldn’t have time available. But thankfully, she did. So we scheduled a video session for the next day. And even though I was in a horrible place for the rest of that day and evening, there was that little sliver of hope peeking through. Keeping me going. Keeping me safe.

Still, leading up to our session, fears that she would cancel as well, kept showing up. But she didn’t cancel. She showed up. It was like coming up for air.

We’ve had contact since we stopped working together when I moved over to my current therapist in 2018, but they were just text messages here and there. She still reads my blog. This has all been enough to keep our connection strong.

I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time of not seeing her. I thought I’d be nervous. That it might be weird. But it wasn’t. It was as though no time had passed. It felt familiar. Comfortable.

For some reason, my distress of the past few days and hours fizzled out as soon as I saw her. We caught up a bit. Some nice moments.

It was easy to open up about everything going on. And it felt so good to be able to talk to someone about this situation with my therapist. Especially with someone who is a therapist herself, and at the same time, knows me well. She provided different perspectives. Possibilities. Got me to list the evidence for why I can trust my therapist and know she cares about me. This exercise was extremely helpful, and not something I had been able to do, or see, in my distressed state.

What was also helpful was when A told that I’ve grown since we worked together, and pointed some of it out. It helped because I’d been feeling like a failure. A therapy and personal failure. Like I had regressed completely. It also felt really good when she said that it was nice to see me again. A much-needed boost to my self-esteem.

Ever the ethical professional, she asked whether I would be okay with her contacting my therapist to let her know that we had a “emergency” session. I actually really appreciated this because like she said, she doesn’t want to interfere in my work with my current therapist. Feeling protective though, I asked her to rather send her that message next Monday. I want to give therapist some “space” this week. She doesn’t need to be thinking of me right now. I’m seeing her on Monday (still struggling with the fear of yet another cancellation), so then we can discuss it as well.

This session was exactly what I needed. It felt like a warm, comforting hug. It was as though I had been stuck in a pit of despair and negativity, but had been pulled out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. I’m still struggling. But I’m coping.

We do what we have to in order to survive.

A Reframe on BPD

I came across this article in my inbox this morning and wanted to share it on my blog. I really appreciate the way Annie approaches this subject with empathy. All her posts are worth a read and I can highly recommend her blog.

https://anniewrightpsychotherapy.com/a-reframe-on-borderline-personality-disorder/

Getting There

Yesterday was a better day.

This roller coaster I’ve been on seems to be slowing down. I’m not off the ride just yet, but the slower speed is a relief.

I’m proud of myself for one thing at least. Instead of doing what I would usually do, which is self-medicate with my benzo’s (more than what’s prescribed), I used the DBT Distress Tolerance skill of Urge Surfing and Riding The Wave. Just allowing myself to fully experience the urges for self-harm, medication, and alcohol, and feel the emotions that I so desperately wanted to numb.

I managed to cope with those intense feelings and urges by doing some physical activity right in my room, such as push ups. Something I find really soothing is lying stomach down on my fitness/exercise ball and slowly rolling back and forth, stopping for about 30 seconds every now and then to just breathe and feel the pressure and support against my stomach and upper body. It may sound weird, but it helps. I had to use a lot of my coping skills and tools, and I realized again just how important it is to have those.

Another urge I’ve had is to quit therapy (next session and the first of this year is next week Wednesday). Not because of my therapist, but because I’ve been wondering whether therapy in general is still worth it for me. Feeling like I’m sick of doing the work and still having these bad mental health days, to this extent. But I managed to avoid sending those emails and messages.

My main goal during times like these is to get through these moments in less destructive ways as far as possible. And I think I’ve managed that quite well so far.