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.

“She’s Gone Forever”

My therapist went on leave for two weeks. I knew about this for two weeks before her break, and during that time, I didn’t think much about it. More importantly, I didn’t know how I felt about it. Like I told her in our session two weeks ago, I’m happy that she’s making time for herself, and taking this break. In Thursday’s session, she brought up her leave again, and asked me whether I want to discuss it and how I feel about it. I can’t really remember what I answered. It’s like a chunk of my memory has been erased (I’m so tired of this happening). So I don’t know what I had said. But I appreciate that she always discusses this topic, and tries to make it easier for me. She doesn’t just throw me into the deep end.

We have this special emoticon that represents a hug (not the traditional hug one). We made a deal to only use that one for us, not for anyone else. That little symbol comforts my soul, and brings a smile to my face every time she uses it. I sent her a text on Friday, as it was the last day I’d be able to until she gets back. I asked for one of our special hugs, and she sent me one. I hold onto that one simple little thing. A simple thing that means so much.

I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the contributing factors of my recent surge in abandonment fear, is due to me knowing that she’s going to be away. Even though, like I said, I didn’t give too much thought to it, I think it was stored in my subconscious instead.

It’s not about not seeing her for a session. I wouldn’t have been able to see her for a session in that time anyway. The weeks when we don’t have therapy, I’m perfectly fine with our contact between sessions. Some weeks it will only be one text or email. It’s more when I have something to say, or am feeling insecure. Sometimes I initiate it, other times, she does. Checking in. So that’s what makes her going away hard… We won’t have any contact. I miss her. And I’m sad that she left me alone (that’s what it feels like anyway). There are moments where I think that I don’t know if I ever want to speak to her again. Then other moments where I just want her to come back. I’m being selfish. And this feeds into the emotion I’ve been struggling with for the past while, which I’ll write about in my next post.

I once got asked by a friend of mine, who went to therapy for a year herself, why and how I can be so attached to a therapist. She understands attachment, but not between a therapist and client. I realized that no matter how you explain it, a lot of people won’t truly “get it”, unless they’re in the same boat. Almost all of you who have BPD have this same attachment to your therapists. I always relate to your posts on this topic. So I know I’m not the only one who gets upset and chaotic when our therapists go on vacation or take leave. Counting the days down until they return. Days that feel like weeks. It’s hard. And others don’t understand why we struggle so much with this. But they don’t need to understand it.

The words “she’s gone forever” came into my mind when I woke up this morning. I know it didn’t come from my adult self, but from the little part.

I know it’s not true though. She’s not gone forever. But why does it still feel like she is?

Social Anxiety, Embarrassment And Shame

In my previous post I mentioned how I had felt better on Friday. But that only lasted until Saturday evening.

That evening I went to Jasmine’s birthday dinner. There were 10 of us. Two of my friends (I’ve been friends with one of them for over 21 years) had also been invited, since they’re now also friends with Jasmine. My social anxiety was way up there. It was in a noisy restaurant, with the TV way too loud (sports of course). So all that stimulation, and add in 7 people I don’t know, and all I wanted to do was get in my car and go home. But I stuck it out. By the end of the evening I was exhausted.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of Jasmine’s friends made a negative comment about my hair. An overwhelming feeling of embarrassment, shame, and a deep hatred toward myself settled over me like a dark cloud.

I was already especially sensitive that night, due to what happened in group on Tuesday. I haven’t written about that yet. We were busy with the check-in’s, but before it was my turn to share, we had a break. I had a classic BPD mood swing during the break. Anger (towards myself) raging inside and actually throwing a tantrum in the bathroom when no one was in there (throwing my bag across the room- good thing there’s nothing breakable in there). And then the damn tears.

When the break was over and I got back inside, I thought “okay, I’ll share”. I was sitting next to the OT who was leading the group. I told myself “it’s safe, she’s here” (aside from my OT, this one also makes me feel like I’m in good hands). She told me to focus on someone (I chose her and another member of the group), and started. But I spent most of it looking at the damn floor anyway. I felt pressured, not wanting to waste anyone’s time, and just started talking. I know I was probably putting the pressure on myself. After the group, I felt very vulnerable and exposed. And embarrassed. What had I just done? The things I had shared, and the way I had said them, seemed all over the place, and I didn’t think I was even making much sense. Thoughts of “I shouldn’t have said that.” “I can’t believe I said all that”, “what was I thinking?”, “I’m such an idiot.”

I felt I had said too much. Shared things that I actually wasn’t ready to share. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t even look at anyone for the rest of the group time. I felt too vulnerable. I didn’t feel safe after the group (I was in the self-harm “mood”), so I tried to stick around as long as I could. Basically following the OT to wherever she was going, like a damn puppy. We went to the art therapy room and I got to get my “craft” that I had done during my time in the clinic. I was surprised to see that it was still there. So that was nice. Then it was finally time to leave. I didn’t want to, but didn’t have much of a choice.

On the way home, the feelings kept washing over me, the self hatred and abuse loud and clear. I had already been feeling depressed that week, and the previous week, so this was like salt in the wound. I wanted to drive into a wall, and I got pretty close too. I tend to get stuck on thoughts, both negative and positive, but especially the negative ones. They become obsessive thoughts, and I really struggle to let them go. I don’t really know how to.

Have you ever felt this need to have someone hold space for you when you feel you just can’t do that for yourself? Because you feel you don’t deserve it, and maybe if someone can just hold it for you for a little while, you’ll be able to take it back when you feel stronger? I want someone to hold that space for me, but I feel completely alone and abandoned (even if it’s not actually true, and I’m just seeing it through negative eyes right now).

Right now, at this very moment, I feel like I’ve just given up on fighting. I don’t have the strength or energy. I’ll just go through life and take the blows. I’m depressed as hell. I don’t like people right now. Yet I want them. I don’t like me. But I wish I could.

I feel guilty for being me. Ashamed of who I am, and what I’m not.