Sunday, March 12, 2017

They are just words you say? NOT TO ME THEY AREN'T

As I mentioned yesterday I am doing a little psychological test. A test of my own emotional response to words used to describe me. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which means that my responses to things are not normal, they are not standard. I might have the same reaction you do to a word, but my psychological response will be huge by comparison. People with BPD are described in the field of psychiatrics as being comparable to burn victims. While a burn victim's every movement, every breath, every touch is beyond excruciating a person with BPD has the same pain in their mind and their emotional responses to their thoughts and feelings are indicative of that kind of pain.

I posted this below to all my friends and acquaintances on Facebook on Thursday morning at 10:02 am.


My therapist has asked me to do a little project. I have put off doing this since I saw her at our weekly session on Tuesday. I do not want to do this, even remotely. I am supposed to ask people I know to use 3 words to describe me. These words can be positive, negative, or neutral.

Christ this makes me uncomfortable.

The idea is to get me to have and experience the feelings attached to simple words. To see the reaction my body and mind has to each. Part of this is to find out how I react to certain words and also force me to take compliments or perceived criticisms without attaching a ton of emotion to either.

Did I mention the uncomfortable part?

So I thank you in advance to anyone who helps me with this little project. I won't be on Facebook again until later as I want to sit and read the answers with a notebook in hand to record the reactions. I will thank you personally or never speak to you again (LOL Kidding) later.

Let 'er rip.

I signed off my computer, signed off Facebook, for the rest of the day to allow for comments to accumulate. All day my phone kept telling me a new comment arrived on Facebook but I read none of them. By the time I sat down to do the project itself, 34 comments had been made and I could hardly breathe. The idea that there could be 34 compliments or 34 criticisms made me incredibly anxious. I was jumpy all day, a little manic, and short tempered. I didn't know if people would keep it light and breezy or if they would go dark and honest. I like light and breezy, who doesn't. But I expect dark and I think dark is honest. I didn't know how accurate the words "never speak to you again" and "Let er rip" would be.


Before we go any further I should mention for those of you I know that struggle with mental illness or suicidal thinking, this may be triggering. Please do not read any further if the mental pain of another can make you experience the same because painful is where this ended up. It was a test, I knew it could go there and it did.

I think many people who took part in this little test know about my BPD and thought to themselves, "yeah, not gonna happen. I am not going to criticize her when I know where her mind can go". Then I wondered if people actually thought positive things about me? That can't be right? And that's where I struggle. I think positive things said about me cannot possibly be honest, they are just placating me, they must be, there is no other explanation for it. And harsher words are obviously correct, but they still hurt, true or not.

My step mother was telling me about a study done where 100 people pass by a person.  Of the 100, only 1 of them doesn't say a kind hello with a smile.  The person receiving 99 kind greetings remembers only 1, the other 1, the angry 1.  Of 100 people, they remember only the one that made them unhappy.  I guess I am normal after all huh?

Here are all the words that were used to describe me:

Admirable  Amiable  Integrity  Loyal  Intelligent  Friendly
Amazing   LOVED  Articulate  Analytical  Neurotic  Ballsy
Beautiful  Bold  Honest   Outspoken  Frank   Genuine
Blunt  Funny   Humorous  Hilarious  Witty   Vulnerable
Domineering  Passionate  Restless  Inspiring  Authentic  
Generous  Open  Giving   Unfiltered  Protective  Tough
Joyful   Jokes/ing   Brilliant   Brave   Courageous Kind
Caring   Kindhearted  Loving   Compassionate  Strong
Resilient  Intense   Fierce  Tenacious  Supportive  Real
 Well Spoken  Creative  Moody  Engaging

The most frequently used words appear to be, and be variations of, Strong, Generous, Kind, Smart, Funny.

The most emotionally triggering words were Moody, LOVED, Protective, Beautiful, Neurotic, Unfiltered, Blunt, Domineering, Restless, and oddly enough Joyful.

The fact is, compliments make me uncomfortable. I don't believe them. I did not develop a solid foundation of self worth when I was in my developmental stage of life. I think self worth is actually required to take in a compliment. A person without a solid self confidence base line will simply debate the compliment away, they will argue the facts of the compliment in their own mind because it's not something they agree with or even understand.

I suppose not being able to take in a compliment is much like not believing it when someone says, "I love you". When I say it to someone, I think I mean it, I truly am not sure what true love is, or means.  People I have loved, including my own mother, have hurt me so I can't imagine how you will not end up hurting me too? How is that true love then?  I have been the one to hurt and walk away from friends I actually said, "I love you" to.  Friends and boyfriends have hurt me and walked away from me, after telling me they loved me. So where is the line drawn? When do you trust love? When is it true?  When is love real?  These are just a few of the obsessive thoughts that keep me up at night. One of the most prominent symptoms of BPD is a constant sense of being abandoned or fear of the same happening in the future.

During this test I realized that the word itself is just as important to me as who wrote it is. My history with a person can actually change my interpretation of a word based on our history. Our personal interactions over time can affect the meaning of a word. 

If you call me ballsy and I am pretty sure you like me, then you are saying I am courageous. If you call me ballsy and you don't know me, then I might assume you mean I am a little too aggressive, masculine, not very caring.   There is room for interpretation with almost anything and everything.  

To you the wall might be yellow.  To the person next to you who is colour blind they see green.  Both claims are true because the eyes that are seeing it just see differently which makes neither a lie, nor a truth everyone must adhere to.  
Who you are also changes how I receive in information. When someone I barely know calls me something nice I can't help but think, "oh, that's nice, that's my vibe then.  That's what people see?  Well that's good."  I can't help but feel good about that. But when someone closer to me says something nice, I take it for granted. I think, "well they have to say nice things, they are supposed to love me". I find it interesting that people who only know me really from a distance, from my writings about this disease, have more of an impact on me with their choice of words.  

It truly doesn't matter who you are when you say something negative, I will believe it, it will affect me. I am affected by negativity no matter where it comes from. Strangers, animals, birds, fish. I GIVE THEM all the same opportunity to make me miserable. Until you've seen a fish give you the stink eye you will never understand it.

Smart, Creative, and Moody

If someone chooses 3 words, and two of them are positive and one not as much, then I will give the negative word more weight than the positive words (my step mother referred to a a study about this earlier). One of the kindest people I know answered this little test. She is a positive person, loving and kind. She said I was, Smart, Creative and Moody. This was followed immediately by another response with, "Loved" and a heart emoji. She knew "moody", while accurate and honest, might trigger me (funnily enough, into a mood) so she wanted to reinforce the fact she loved me. That is the perfect example of working well with this illness interpersonally. Actually her approach was the perfect way to be honest with someone who is insecure which most of us are. She was both honest, and kind. Imagine if the world only acted that way instinctively which is how I truly believe this beautiful human being does. This girl instinctively knew I would need to be told she loved me after calling me moody. There was no reason for her to do that other than her caring about my mental wellbeing. I would have gotten past it eventually because it's true, I am moody, always have been. There was no underlying tone or story here, just the facts. She loves me but I am moody. The word Moody triggered thoughts but had no real emotional impact in this context likely due to her choice of the other two words and her follow up of love.

LOVED and Protective

The word LOVED, caused me to choke up on my breath, and then the tears to flow.  I capitalized the word LOVED because  it's important.  I need to work on this.  I need to focus on this word.   The word is both thought provoking and emotional. I had, in fact, the second biggest emotional reaction to the word "LOVED". As I mentioned earlier in this post, I struggle with the thought that someone loves me, that I am loved, that I am even lovable. It's all I truly want in life, to be loved and to really believe it, to be secure in that. I believe you don't need much else in life to survive but the strength and security that comes from being loved. To have a few people, one dear friend in particular, say that, just melted me.  

The same friend also wrote Protective as one of her other words to describe me. And that word too, from someone so close to me, got my brain spinning. There were tears with this word because she knows me so well.  Like many close to me know, I don't allow people in. Not really. I have a bravado that keeps people at a safe distance. I pretend to be a bitch, hard, and unapproachable. I don't cry in front of many people. I don't like people to see me actually show weakness. Break downs cause people to run screaming to the hills. I try to limit them in the presence of others. 

To protect myself she knows that I will do everything in my power to avoid feeling mental pain.  I will avoid people to avoid being hurt by people. I will pretend I don't have feelings when I have more than almost everyone, because not having feelings protects you from feelings doesn't it? I will take anything, and use anything, to avoid feeling pain. Protective was thought provoking. It made me think about all of this, but it was neither a criticism or a compliment. It was fact.  

This girl was once on the receiving end of one of my BPD episodes.  A spiral of sorts where I can't figure out what a person meant, and I get obsessive and dark, attacking and then begging for forgiveness.  She never left. She stuck by me, and with me, even though she quickly realized I was going to be harder work than she signed up for.  I guess because she saw how big a friend I could also be.  She saw first hand how hard these spirals are for me, not just her.  And she saw how much I will try to make up for the burden I know these spirals can be on the people around me that I love.  I am neither unaware or in denial of these spirals.  I am very apologetic and I work very hard to avoid them.  


For as long as I can remember I have never looked into a mirror and said, "yeah girl, you are beautiful". Not when I was thin, or big. I've tried. I have tried every kind of eating disorder, and the therapy for it. I have done general body dysmorphia therapy. I am a big girl, the only time(s) I have not been, I have been restricting food entirely and typically struggling with addiction in other areas of my life. Beautiful is a stretch for me but I try. I try every time I look in the mirror to find something to compliment myself with. I am hoping one day it sticks. The people who described me as beautiful know me very well and know I don't think I am. They either don't agree with me OR they said it to force me to see or try to see what they see.  Maybe they actually see past age and weight and see the beauty in me, my face and in my heart. But that's just a shot in the dark. LOL


I am neurotic. I always have been neurotic.  Even before I was diagnosed with a mental illness. Neurosis is basically a mental illness in itself. It's a constant state of anxiousness and I have ALWAYS been that way. Either wrapped up tighter than the cables on a suspension bridge or overly concerned (see this entire post and test) with what people think. Neurotic was accompanied by the words Humorous and Passionate. The order of the words even mattered to me, the order had an impact.  The order was Humorous, Passionate and Neurotic where he emphasized "(a little)". I'd say the guy knew me well enough to know he had to get the party started with two flattering words. Which is smart considering being called neurotic will actually cause someone to become neurotic. Good call on his part, well played sir.

Unfiltered and Blunt

The last two words describe my Father to a tee. And I am my Father's daughter. There is no denying it. I am told that if you want the truth and the blunt truth, you only come to us when you are really prepared to hear the truth.  "You can't handle the truth" was a line from a movie that was written by someone who had a conversation with my Father and I. I do say what I mean. But I do have filters. I don't actually say what I am thinking if it will hurt someone. I used to really not care if it would hurt a person.  If you wanted the truth, you got the truth, but not any more. This illness has taught me that I have to think first because it's certainly not fair of me to say something hurtful and then not be able to handle being the target of something hurtful.  

Bold, Domineering and Restless

I had originally written and was going to include my take on my relationship with this person and the entire backstory of the same.  But that would have represented only one sid of the story and that's not really fair.  If I tried to write both sides, both perspectives, it would have been a novel unto itself. 

Let's just say, the relationship I had with the person behind these three words is long and windy. Recently I had the opportunity to reach out and try to reestablish a connection.  Our current relationship was very new, maybe 2 months long. We've been gently tip toeing around each other before we agreed to meet up and try to work through some things and decide whether or not to commit to reestablish our friendship. I've known this girl for over 30 years with the last few years being very tumultuous because of me really. I had hoped that by now my illness would be understood and sympathized with. While it is not an excuse for bad behaviour, I hoped the past was the past, and my apology might be validated.  I had been incredibly hurt.  In return I caused harm to another.  It went down hill from there. It's funny because I liken girlfriend love to loving a pet. You feel, although you can get mad at both, they are loyal, forgiving, and unconditional in their love for you. Girlfriend love and pet love is suppose to be unconditional no?  I guess that's parental love too.  I loved both these girls. But when I fell apart and lashed out, I lost them through my actions. I almost died after we fell apart, I tried to commit suicide in large part because of the illness in general, the weight of losing my closest friends, and a bad medication. The funny part is the one who hurt me, was the hardest loss. She was my every day friend.  We both had time on our hands which is unheard of today so we were in constant touch.  Losing that connection changed my life because it changed my entire day.  It changed my every day. I've never spoken before about how much the breakup cost me. I didn't want to live knowing these girls no longer loved me and no longer had my back. I felt very unsafe, alone and unprotected.  It was a very ugly time. 

Now you can see there was a very big story with a whole lot of feelings behind the words "Bold, Domineering and Restless". As I said, our relationship was brand spanking new.  A Facebook friendship only a few months old and in answer to the test she wrote, Bold, Domineering and Restless. The results for me emotionally were not good. I had an immediate panic attack as I tried to catch my breath and research what the words actually meant. All I could think was;
"Why is she testing me so soon?" 
"Does she understand nothing about this disease?" 
"Why couldn't she have been a little gentle?" 
"Or kind?"
"Does she hate me this much?" 

I had a good idea of the meanings of the words but because of my blinding emotions I knew I had to double check them.  "Check the facts" is actually a really important DBT therapeutic tool. Always check the facts when you are over emotional. A lot of the time when you check them, the facts aren't actually what they seemed. I wanted the definitions to the letter as the person's mind behind the words borders on true brilliance. She had to know what she was doing.  Maybe this was a legitimacy test of my test?  More probably a test of me?  

Through the sobs my mind ran amok with;

"Bold means brash. Brash is bad. Look up Bold. Bold means no hesitation or fear in the face of actual danger, courageous and daring".
"Okay, whew that's not bad." 
"She doesn't hate me. Thank god."
"This is neutral. Not bad, not great."  
"Certainly not a compliment, not an insult either."

In my own head, I was having full conversations with her and myself.  The conversations were all over the place; "Domineering means controlling". 
 "I was controlling, I know that, why do you need to say this to me?" 
 "Are you still mad?" 
 "Do you hate me?" 
 "You hate me." 
 "I am sorry, please don't hate me". 
 "I only controlled things in the past because I had so much anxiety if I didn't control things then the anxieties would get away from me and with that the temper would come out. No one wanted that."  
"Didn't you know that about me?" 
 "I had to have my hand on everything to make it go right and right means no stressors. I had to." 
"You told me once all your friends thought I was a bitch and I know that's because I was always in charge, always in control, never gave an inch in that regard." 
 "Wait, that's dominate isn't it? A dominate person or personality?" 
"So, what exactly does domineering mean?"

To myself I screamed; 

"Look it up, look it up before you freak out". 
"Breathe. Breathe". 
"Check the facts, check the facts, check the facts".

This is what appeared when I looked up the definition of Domineering:

          gerund or present participle: domineering

assert one's will over another in an arrogant way.
"Cathy had been a martyr to her gruff, domineering husband"

synonyms: browbeat, bully, intimidate, push around/about, order about/around, lord it over;

means inclined to rule arbitrarily or despotically; overbearing; tyrannical:
         domineering parents.

And the thoughts came even faster.

"Holy fuck, am I this? No, maybe once you were, but not now."  
"Arrogant? You're not arrogant Nicolle. You've never been arrogant have you? Truly arrogant?"
"You are certainly too insecure to be or come across as arrogant."
"You used to be a powerhouse. You controlled everything because you had to." 
"And if you wanted to be around me, I guess I controlled you too."
"Fuck I am sorry for that. I am getting better, I don't have to control as much anymore. Every day I let go. You will see it, I promise." 
"But please understand, that to survive in my own mind and live even half a life I needed to control some things.  I still do need to control some things." 
"Fuck this is me. I am domineering. I arrogantly control people. I am a bitch."
"I am horrible.  She thinks I am horrible". 

There was a group of us that were friends at the time I got hurt and lashed out at one of us.  A few of them referred to me as a bully when I lashed out.  Even in response to being hurt.  Because instead of trying to resolve it directly, one on one, I lashed out publicly, online.  It was dead wrong. The way I lashed out was very bully like. I know my old personality, pre-hospital stay, was very intimidating. I didn't often intimidate people intentionally but I know people say I was intimidating. Inside the hospital I was actually removed from a classroom for this exact reason.  I became very intimidating, big, bold, and domineering.  A woman in the class was new to the hospital and appeared to be a very scary loose cannon so I was very intimidated by her.  I didn't feel safe around her.  I protected myself before she could hurt me by becoming bigger than life.  I didn't even put it together until I was called into the psychiatrists office to review my behaviour.   That was acting, performing. My insecurities were always so great that when I walked into a room I was often so scared that if I didn't perform, if I was just me, I would most certainly be hurt and no one would like me. My husband has taken to asking when I get home from social situations, "So, how was your performance tonight?"

That said, I couldn't figure out if this girl thought me so ugly, domineering to me is an ugly character trait, why was she wanting to move forward and try to reestablish a friendship?

"Why is she my friend right now, none of these are that nice, good, what you want in a friend are they?" 
"Everyone was so nice, all the others, nice".
"Even those that went a little harsh followed it up with something good".
"Was there nothing nice you could find in your heart to say?"

I was spinning out of control. It was bad.


Restless simply means unable to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom. And she's not wrong there either. If I have too much time on my hands I get bored. And boredom leads to social media and social media can warp the mind. It can fuck you up. I've felt this so I have taken on more and more of my husbands bookkeeping and I review a lot of deals and agreements because of my legal background. I do crafts and creative things when my hands are free. And I write a great deal when the words fill my head. With DBT therapy I have a good hours homework each and every day. I also struggle with a great deal of anxiety, so I do get very restless when my mind is in overdrive. It's why I have a gym in the house and a bicycle named Maud. Because sometimes you just need to move. This word was not wrong, but she doesn't know me well enough anymore to know that I have addressed that, and use a great deal of skills to overcome it. She doesn't know any of my life plans in place and ready to go when my senior dog on a strict medicine and feeding schedule goes to heaven.  In the end and in my mind Bold was neutral, Domineering was horribly negative, and Restless was an assumption made out of a lack of knowing me. She truly didn't understand me at all but certainly felt ready to pass judgement of me.  I tried to reach out and discuss what she meant and where she was coming from but that led to an even bigger miscommunication.  And that led to an even bigger emotional reaction.  

I had a two day mental breakdown. I screamed, I sobbed. I laid down on the floor with the dog.  I laid in the dog's bed.  I curled up in my husband's arms. And I cried and cried. When I thought I had it under control it would come back in waves of more tears.  During one of these times I thought I had things in my control I got in the car to drive to the pharmacy and just sat on the side of a busy road screaming at the top of my lungs.  I walked the dog with tears streaming down my face. I was devastated. I was devastated by the choice of words, none of which told me she thought anything really nice about me. 
I was devastated because they came from her. I won't lie.  And I was devastated because I tried to communicate what I felt, I didn't blame or point fingers, but it was all misunderstood.  I tried to explain how it would help to hear her perspective, again, misunderstood.  I think because I felt so bad and she assumed it to be her direct fault, it only made things worse.  There were some very dark and dangerous thoughts in there. Very dangerous. But I am still here, writing this so score one for therapy and my therapist who is on call 24/7 bless her heart.

The result of these words was that I have a huge emotional response to words used to describe me that can be deemed only neutral and/or negative but especially depending on who uses the words. 

I know a lot of this comes across as dramatic but that is exactly how my mind works.  It is dramatic and it's scary.  It's violent and frightening.  And more often then not, I hate it.   

Passionate, Intelligent and Loving.

One of the people who responded in the quiz was my old boss, now friend. I guess then friend too. When she was my boss I called her Mom. When a woman is in charge (of me) I immediately put her in a position of Mother. Because I am always looking for one. This lady is a beautiful soul. She is wise, caring, loving, and kind. There is no bullshit with her, it is what it is, she is what she is. But with that authenticity she never causes harm to anyone. She is too intuitive for that.  She is so intelligent. I really kind of worshipped her. She was my work Mom and the Mom I wished I always had. When she decided to leave the business, and me (see the BPD abandonment issues) I was devastated. I knew I wouldn't last long in the male dominated field she left behind her without her. And I didn't. She knew who I was deep down, a big old bag of walking insecurities and crazy all wrapped up in a passionate, intelligent, loving bundle. Those were her words and when I read them, coming from someone so important to my life story, to me, (especially from a wonderful Mother), well I cried quite a bit. A Mom, a good Mom, telling me I am good, means more than anything.

Loyal, Generous, and Tenacious

The person who wrote these words was someone who knew the girl who hurt me, whom I turned around and hurt right back in a childish rage.  And she knows this. And yet she took the time out of her day to write, loyal, generous and tenacious?  I know after everything went down that I apologized to people that knew the girl I hurt, asking them to love her and take care of her. Perhaps this is why? I struggled with Loyal, wondering if it was sarcasm or she saw the loyalty I give and expect back in return?  How when that loyalty breaks I am so devastated?  I don't know. Perhaps I will ask her.  Again, the word here matters as much as who presented it. Generous and Tenacious are both compliments so they triggered nothing. I don't take them well. But I actually do know I am generous to a fault.  Sometimes I use generosity as a way to ensure people to continue to love me.  I feel the need to buy their continued love with generosity in all its forms.  That's pure insecurity.  And tenacious?  Yes, I guess I am because I am still fucking here.  A lot of the time, I don't really want to be. Each and every time an emotion waves over me and tries to take over my mind, I don't want to be here.  My highs are too high.  High enough that when I drop even to normal mood, a stable mood, the drop is too great. It's hard. BPD is hard to live with. 

Joyful, Jokes

The person who wrote these words once took me to a thought provoking weekend which was integral to my learning process about myself and my illness.  At the time I was grasping to her, begging her to help me, because she had a relationship with the girl that hurt me.  The one I turned around and hurt myself.  I needed help understanding what had happened.  I needed someone who knew her to tell me that I wasn't all wrong, I wasn't all bad.  I wanted her to make me understand that maybe she didn't do it, mean it, or perhaps she could find out why she did.  In trying to help me she ended up changing my life.  When she wrote those two words I wondered if she was challenging me too?  Because I am not really joyful, unless I really go looking.  But I do joke, a lot.  I want people to laugh and find me funny because that's a self worth filler.  If I can make you happy then you have to like me right?  Making anyone laugh does actually fill me with.....holy shit, it's joy.  I become joyful.  Full of joy.  Hmmmmm.  She's a smart cookie.  Sneaky little bugger too apparently.  She just crept up on me with this word.  

Admirable, Inspirational, Thought Provoking, Insightful

Words such as those above give me a great deal of pride.  I really enjoy knowing that all my ramblings, my openness, my writings about mental health struggles have actually helped people understand me, mental health issues, and themselves.  When someone tells me I helped them, my ego soars.  And more so than any word would give me.  If my life has helped your life then that's a life worth living right?  That's a purpose isn't it?  I have this saying, "To hurt is to learn, to teach is to heal", tattooed on my foot.  If I get hurt I need to learn from that.  And when I learn from my pain then I should share what I learned with another person.  If that person can be healed or avoid pain, then my pain is helping or healing someone.  Each time this happens then I am healing too.  My pain is lessening.  I am here for a reason then.

One of the final things I noticed with this test is that while I don't listen to being called beautiful because I don't believe it, I want people to convince me of it. Because only 3 people used that word to describe me, then that reaffirms I must not be.  It's obvious to me then that, like I always thought, I cannot be beautiful because no one else thinks so too. The people that do say I am, well they have to say that because they know I need to hear it.  Now if I really shut off the emotional insecure part of my brain and focus on the intellectual brain, then I know that people don't used the word beautiful to describe people anymore because it's an appearance commentary which does not actually define a person.  

I can say one thing for sure, I will never do this test again. I mean maybe one day I will feel so confident I will want to do this again just for comparative reasons but I don't think that's going to be any time soon. Not because I can't change that much, that fast, but because this was really much too hard on me.

I really want to thank everyone that participated even those that crushed me.  Those that didn't obviously take my illness very seriously and to heart.  Mental illness does require kid gloves, compassion and understanding.  Who I was, who I am, who you believe me to be doesn't really matter.  What matters is that I have a mental illness and that always has to be taken into consideration when interacting with me.  Sadly for everyone, me especially, this is a huge part of my life.  When I set out to do this test I didn't mean to lie when I said, "neutral or negative" or "let er rip".  But maybe I was lying.  Maybe instead of "in therapy" or "with my therapist" I should have said, "please take my mental illness into consideration when answering this test.  I thought I wanted the cold hard truth.  I guess I either didn't expect anyone would, or could.  I think we all hope that good things will be said about us.  "You can't handle the truth", was maybe written because I truly can't?  I should really thank those that were the most thought provoking.  Those that took my emotions for a ride because they truly took the test and me to the limit.  I think if you care about a human being you should always think first.  I think if you aren't a therapist that maybe it's not your job to take a mentally ill person to their limit.  But conversely again, I said, "let 'er rip" and you did.  This was quite something. I honestly wasn't sure what I would learn.  Turns out it was a lot. Words mean too much to me. People's opinions mean too much to me. And I need to love myself a whole lot more to survive in this big bad world. So up on my wall again, over my desk will go the saying;

"What anyone thinks, says, or believes about you, is NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!"


"Never say let 'er rip, unless you really fucking mean it!"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

They are just words you say?

I have an illness called Borderline Personality Disorder, ("BPD"). I am not just defined by that but it's a huge part of my life. BPD is described by the Mayo Clinic as a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness. With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.

All the emotions I feel are intense, "more intense than normal". All my reactions to my feelings are intense, "more intense than normal". My feelings and emotions are typically either greater than or much less than the "normal persons reactions". My reactive feeling in any given situation may be completely different than yours. When you feel sad, I typically will feel anger instead to mask the sad. I will get incredibly angry while you cry. Because of all this dysregulation people with BPD are always looking for ways to numb their feelings, to tamper down their emotions, to dull their obsessive thoughts that go with both. Addictions are always an issue for people with BPD.

BPD is a bugger is what it is. All my life I haven't felt like I had normal responses to things, to situations, but I was able to control it by sheer will into my mid to late 30s.  Then it became clear that I was not stronger than my own feelings or I was simply too tired to control them anymore.  Either way you look at it, I couldn't hold it in any more. I was sick.

To survive with BPD I have to use DBT (Dialectual Behaviour Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) skills all day long unless I am completely alone and very intensely distracted from my own thoughts and feelings. I see a therapist that specializes in these therapeutic fields every week for an hour and a half to review the previous weeks emotional responses, the skills used to get through the week, and my diary card and journals representing all of it. There may come a time where my therapy might become less intense but most people with BPD are treated at a much earlier age. People with BPD usually present with the symptoms and inability to live with them much earlier than I did. It's very unusual for someone to have kept as much control as I did over my feelings and emotions for as long as I did. Especially to have been as high functioning as I was. That was even more unusual. I spent a good 20 plus years controlling my moods and responses with sheer willpower. The symptoms were still there, self harm, self worth issues, anger, suicidal thinking and disassociation but I managed to get by and then some for years. And then I didn't. Now I have to retrain myself, rewire my brain entirely. I have to undo 20 years of harmful coping mechanisms. I need to stop masking my moods and feel them, react to them, study that and then learn how to live with them using skills and not willpower. Having complete control over any mental illness can only last so long.

Because this is an emotional dysregulation disorder I have a really difficult time with compliments and criticisms. I am sure many of you are thinking, "most of us do". But my entire world can change with just one word, one good word, or one bad word. The funny thing is the only difference in a word being defined as "good" or "bad" is our perception of that word. If we didn't assign words labels of "good" or "bad", we would only see them as letters put together to represent something in the English language. To live with this disorder I have to study my responses to these words, feel them, record them, and try to lessen their impact by exposing myself to them. This is something I am working on with my therapist, exposure therapy. We do daily exposures to situations that have caused me to feel shame, fear, and hurt/sadness. In each of these instances I will revert to anger to avoid these. In the case of compliments I turn to humour to avoid taking in a compliment I cannot understand due to self image issues. In the case of criticism I also revert to anger and lashing out to defend the self image that is so fragile. None of these outcomes are good. I must just learn to take things in stride.

This is where Facebook came in. My therapist and I played a word game to see what words triggered a good or bad response in me. We were curious to see how I reacted and how big the reaction was. It was interesting to learn that for a compliment I have little to no response but for a criticism I have a massive response. To test this further we decided to ask all my friends on Facebook to define me using 3 words. The study will be of my reaction to the words received in response to the request. My next post will get more into what was said in response and how I reacted to them.

I am my own little science experiment I suppose. I am the psychology exam. I cannot begin to tell you how frightening and how embarrassing it was for me to ask people to define me at all. My first emotional trigger was just in the assumption that people wouldn't feel me important enough to respond at all.  Once I posted the request I was immediately terrified that people would send a lot of criticism because of my emotional swings or tailspins.  I was terrified of getting any perceived (by me) "bad word" responses.  Generally speaking I am never not concerned about what people think of me. It never stops. It's all the time, everywhere, with people I know or don't know.  I can be offended just by how someone looks at me even though I have no idea if their look is simple resting bitch face or an actual scowl at me personally.  I assume the latter.  How will I react to bad words being used to define me?  Can I not respond violently to a perceived negative? What about compliments?  Will I believe them?  Listen to them?  Take them to heart?  Will my entire well being change because of a simple one word compliment? Will I become manic or depressed because of either?  It's definitely going to be interesting. I will let you know tomorrow after I've printed it all and reacted to them.

Thanks in advance to all that participate in this or who are just finding the study interesting.  There are over 30 of you so far who have responded.  That's 30 times my heart has stopped today.  Don't worry, I let an aspirin dissolve under my tongue.  I should be okay.  *weak laugh*