Monthly Archives: October 2012

Maybe the Problem is With ME

I have been pondering the issue of having friends for several weeks now.  I was wondering if they were even worth my time.  Then, I decided that I would rather live an isolated life with limited people in it.  I was thinking about it again the other day, and I have come up with a new conclusion:  Maybe it’s not that friends aren’t worth the effort to me.  Maybe it’s more that I feel like I’M not worth the effort.  I feel like I’m unworthy, so I’m sure that’s what everyone else sees, too.

My therapist has tried several times, unsuccessfully, by the way, to get me to talk about WHY I always feel stupid and insecure.  She has asked me several times if I think I have any self worth.  I haven’t let her go that deep.  I’m not ready to face that yet.  That’s a huge issue that I am not comfortable delving into.  That’s too deep.  Too close to home.  Too much hurt involved in that conversation.

I have a pretty good idea that I feel less-than and not worth anyone’s time.  It’s not something I have fun saying, but I know that it is an attitude I project.  When Crazy Jay and I first got married, he was all the time telling me to stop apologizing for things.  I would apologize for EVERYTHING.  Literally.  If something happened that was dissatisfactory, no matter what it was or whether or not I could control it, I would apologize.  Jay used to say that if someone said the sky was the wrong color of blue, I would apologize.

I know why I feel unworthy and less-than.  I know why I feel like I don’t matter.  I have taken care of that issue, though, so hopefully I will be able to slowly grow some feelings of worth.  I almost said “regain feelings of worth,” but I don’t know if those are ever feelings that I possessed.

I guess knowing about myself that I may shy away from relationships with people because I feel unworthy and not because I see others as unworthy is going to cause me to rethink having friends.  It’s a scary thought for me, though.  Putting myself out there.  Relying on other people.  Being relied on by others.  I think I will have to tread lightly.  Otherwise I can see myself throwing everything I have into a new friendship only to be disappointed when the other person doesn’t want the relationship as intensely as I do.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Life, Mental Illness, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , | 2 Comments

My Verbal Diarrhea is Acting Up…Again

Everything I say seems to come out twisted and hurtful.  Not everything.  Just when I am trying to express what I am thinking or feeling.  When I have an issue with someone, namely Jay, no matter how hard I try, it seems to him that I am being cruel and insulting.  Or blaming him for something.  I feel like I have no idea how to talk to people.  The people that matter, anyway.  I can be professional with my co-workers all day long.  I can joke with them.  I’m aware that sometimes my “jokes” come off as sarcastic and mean.  I really don’t care when I’m interacting with people that I have deemed as unworthy of having a deep relationship with.  I suppose that I should care about how I treat other people.  I think I will one day.  Right now I’m just worried about how I treat the person that matters to me.

Jay and I both get so frustrated when I try to talk to him about what I’m feeling or thinking.  Especially when it’s related to something he’s said or done.  I will try to express what is going on in my head, and it comes out all wrong.  Then Jay gets upset or offended or hurt or angry or insert-negative-emotion-here.  The end result is that I apologize for speaking poorly, and then I feel like I am unable to express myself.  The conversation ends with nothing really being discussed, expect for the misunderstanding about what I said, and me deciding that it’s not even worth it to talk about what I’m feeling.  It seems better to suffer in silence than to have an argument over the way that I say what’s going on with me.

I missed my DBT group today.  Thursday I have an individual session with my therapist.  We have been going over interpersonal effectiveness skills and GIVE.  I’m sure that the more I learn about these skills, the better I will be able to adequately express myself without hurting others.  I’m looking forward to that day.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Marriage, Mental Illness, Relationships | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

The 20 Things I Will Not Miss About Arkansas

Today I’m going to deviate from my usual topics of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills and borderline personality disorder and instead discuss all the things that I am not going to miss about Arkansas.  Well, let’s be fair.  I haven’t ventured very far out of Little Rock, so I would hate to imply these things about the entire state.  I am also aware that the things I’m going to list are not exclusive to Little Rock.  They are things that I have either not ever come across before, or not come across nearly as much as the three years I’ve lived in Little Rock.

 A List of Things I Am NOT Going to Miss About Little Rock, Arkansas (in no particular order):

 1)       The pot holes – I was shocked at how poorly taken care of the roads are here.  You can’t drive ten feet without running into a pot hole!

2)       People stopping in the middle of…ANYWHERE – For some reason, people here think that it’s ok to stop their carts in the middle of the grocery store aisle and have a conversation.  Or stop their car in the middle of the road.  Or walk to the highest travelled area of a parking lot and block cars so they can catch up with friends.  They just stop anywhere and don’t care about all the other people whose way they are in.

3)       Not being able to understand half of what people say – People here mumble a lot.  Not only that, they use strange sayings that I don’t understand.  I’m not from the South, and I do not understand these expressions much better now after three years than when I first moved here.

4)       The customer service – People down here do not know how to treat customers!  The cashiers act like they are doing you a favor by allowing you to buy groceries.  That is, if they even acknowledge you at all.  Most are too busy talking to their neighboring cashiers or playing on their cell phones.

5)       The way cars are parked – Not only do they think it’s ok to park on the street facing the wrong direction, they also think it’s acceptable to park DIRECTLY BESIDE no parking signs.  I kept meaning to make a picture diary, going around town and taking pictures of all the cars parked beside the “No Parking Any Time” signs.

6)       People thinking it’s ok to rip you off – People think they can short you in the money they give you back when you make a purchase, and in the product they sell you.  They just don’t understand good business down here.

7)       The lack of seasons – In Little Rock, it is either really really REALLY hot, or it is a little chilly.  There is no Fall, and there is no Spring.  There’s barely even a winter.  I’m looking forward to moving back to a place that has all four seasons.  And snow!!

8)       The lack of Thai restaurants – When we moved here, I noticed that they had restaurants for almost every kind of food, except Thai!  Pizza, Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, French, Indian, Korean.  All kinds except for what I really wanted…THAI FOOD!

9)       The limited variety of music – I had to stop listening to the radio.  It is hard to find a good rock station, and impossible to find Oldies or Classical.  All they really play on the radio here is rap and country music.  I started making my own CDs and listening to them in my vehicle so I could listen to something I enjoyed.

10)    The bugs – I have never seen bigger bugs in my life, except for maybe pictures of bugs that live in the Amazon and in rain forests!  I’ve talked to people that live in Florida, and they said even down there the bugs aren’t as huge and populous as they are in Arkansas.

11)    The laziness – People down here seem to think that if you are overweight, that means you can ride in the motorized handicap cart at the grocery store.  You know, the one that is put there for people with REAL disabilities?  I have never seen so many people riding in Walmart and grocery stores in those motorized scooters.  It’s gotten to the point where I will see someone who truly cannot walk throughout the store because of a physical handicap, and my first thought is, “Why are they riding in that?  They aren’t fat enough.”  (Note:  I am overweight myself and am NOT just poking fun at overweight people)

12)    The aggressive males – Men down here seem to think that if a female steps out her front door then she is fair game to be hit on and harassed.  I have had many a man here try to talk to me and tell me that they want to be my “friend”.  That they want to “hang out”.  Some just start by striking up a conversation, but it always leads to them asking for my phone number or making some wildly inappropriate comment.  Their response when I say I’m married?  “I don’t care about your husband.”  Nice, real nice.

13)    The lack of motivation – People down here would rather be paid by the government to pop out babies then to actually go out and work.  I am not talking about the people who are looking for work and can’t find it.  I am not talking about the people who are unable to work.  I am talking about able-bodied people who have gotten used to receiving enough in government financial assistance that they don’t feel it necessary to work.  By the way, the government is only really keen to help you out if you have a child.  Or, like down here, at least seven children, all by different fathers, mind you.

14)    The overzealous preachers – Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spreading your faith if that’s what you believe you should do.  I really don’t like coming home from work every day, though, and looking over to my left  while I’m stopped at a red light to see a man in a long white robe and white hat screaming at me through a bull horn about hell and eternal damnation.  What a way to “win a soul”.

15)    The gunshot lullabies – Every night I go to sleep listening to the sounds of gunshots.  There is not a gang issue where I live, just some people who like to pass the time by firing their guns on residential streets at all hours of the night.  Holidays are exponentially worse.  The gunshots seem to go all night long.

16)    The personal questions – They think it’s ok to ask about all kinds of things down here that are none of their business.  People have asked me numerous times about the race of my parents because I have curly hair; a question I find incredibly inappropriate.

17)    The nerve of people – People think they can do whatever they want, regardless of any other person.  I have already mentioned them blocking traffic in parking lots and grocery stores, and the parking on the wrong side of the street and beside no parking signs.  They also like to just walk out in front of moving vehicles.  Not just in crosswalks and parking lots.  They do it during rush hour in the middle of busy streets.  I almost hit someone the other night who was crossing the busy four lane street in the dark while wearing dark clothes, and acting like the street was completely empty.  They just walk in front of cars, trusting that they will stop.  I think if an example is made of just ONE person that would solve this problem.  That’s my same solution for neighborhood children running out in the road, but that’s a different topic.

18)    People trying to take my money – I donate my plasma twice a week so I can have money for things I need.  Like food and gas.  It really irritates me that, after I have waited to donate in a small lobby with 75 other people for almost two hours, and then spent 45 minutes bleeding on the table, as soon as I walk out the door somebody has their hand out wanting a couple dollars of my money.  The money that I bled for.  If I can go in there for three hours and bleed for a measly $20 bucks, so can they.

19)    The cars that cut me off – I almost get into a wreck pretty much every day while I’m driving home from work.  There is an unbelievably large number of people who will just cut me off; pulling out in front of me without enough room, changing lanes without looking, running red lights and turning left on green while I am in the intersection!  I have almost run into another vehicle too many times to count – and it is usually because someone else is so impatient that they can’t wait the five seconds necessary for me to pass by.

20)    The dogs roaming the streets – There are dogs that roam around our neighborhood.  I can understand this.  What I cannot understand is the dogs walking around on highways and other main roads.  Dogs aren’t allowed to just wander where I’m from.

So, there is my list.  Let me say again that I know all these things are not solely limited to Little Rock, Arkansas.  I know that there are crappy people and crappy situations all across the world.  It just seems to be more highly concentrated here.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Mental Illness, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

When Will We Stop Hating?

It makes me sick that there are so many people in this world who think it’s ok to hate and judge others.  And, most of the time, they are hating others solely because they disagree with their moral beliefs.  I guess I am thinking specifically of homosexuality at the moment, but there are other examples.

Now, let me say this:  I was raised in a Christian home with parents that tried to follow the Bible the best they could according to what they believed.  I would also classify myself now as a Christian.  I try to love God and show love to others as best I can.  I try to follow the guidelines set forth in the Bible.  I know that I fall short many, many times.  I do not go around talking about what a great person I am, Christian or otherwise, though.

I also believe that the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

Here is my problem, though:  I cannot expect people who don’t believe in the significance of the Bible like I do to follow the rules and guidelines in it.  And when others fall short of the expectations and rules in the Bible, I have absolutely no right to lord it over their heads, judge them, or be hateful and nasty.

Last night I read this article on the Daily Mail about a lesbian couple where one of the couple had a sex change.  I found it to be very interesting and enlightening.  I’m sure that it must be hard enough being part of a same-sex couple, but to be in a transgender relationship must be incredibly difficult.  I was shocked to hear about the people who would ask if the partner was a male or female while she was undergoing her change (Sorry if “change” isn’t the right word or offended people.  I’m not sure what to call it).  There also seemed to be a lot of hate from people who just flat out didn’t agree with the couple’s life style.

I just don’t understand why people think it’s ok to be mean and nasty to others just because they don’t agree.  It boggles my mind.  Someone disagreeing with you is not a personal slight.  It has nothing to do with YOU, but is more about the other person expressing their beliefs.  Everyone has the right to think and believe what they want.  Even if what they think and believe is hateful and hurtful.  They do NOT have a right to impose their hate and hurt on other people, though.

Look at the political scene.  America is being torn apart by people thinking it’s ok to spew HATE just because they don’t agree with the other person’s political stance.  People get crap where I work for siding with one candidate over the other.  And not just gentle banter and teasing.  It’s hardcore, nasty stuff.  On both sides!  It’s bad enough that the American people are being nasty to each other and to the candidates, but when the candidates themselves seem to condone hate speech, lies, and misrepresentations, it makes the people think it’s ok.  Politics has changed from actually being about the issues, to being about how low you can bring your opponent.  It has gone from expressing ideas to personal attacks.

And what happens when someone is constantly brought down because of what they believe or how they live their life?  They turn that hate inward.  They start feeling less than and unworthy because they don’t meet other people’s expectations.  They may become depressed, among many other things.  It could lead to self-harm or suicide.  It could lead to them expressing their displeasure on someone else.  And the cycle of hate continues.

Each person needs to follow their own morals, beliefs, political ideas, and personal thoughts the best they can so that they can be happy and content with their lives, but they have no right to judge others based on their own standards.  Everyone needs to live THEIR lives and let others do the same.  I do not want a person or organization telling me how I can and cannot live my life, and then making me feel bad because I do not meet their standards.  I wouldn’t want to do that to another person, either.  I cannot expect someone to abide by what I think is right, and whoever tries to make me abide by what THEY think is right better watch out!

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Mental Illness, Relationships, Religion, Thoughts | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Quite Content With a Life Lacking People

This afternoon in my DBT group we were talking about Wise Mind.  I’ve talked about wise mind some HERE and HERE.  From what I understand, wise mind is the meeting between your emotional mind and your rational mind.  In your emotional mind, you are just focused on what you are FEELING and not so much on the facts.  One of the girls in my group said that being in emotion mind is like blinding you to reality.  When you are in rational mind, you are focused on the facts.  What is actually true and actually happening.  Some examples of being in rational mind are taking a test, giving a speech, looking up data, working on a budget, etc.  When using wise mind, you are getting some information from your emotions, and some information from the actual facts.

My therapist said that using wise mind can be a very effective skill when dealing with other people.  Then she said that, whether we have realized it yet or not, people are going to be a part of our lives.  She said that when one is seeking a life worth living (which is the main point of DBT), people are going to be involved.  If you want a job or career, a family, friends, or an education, you are going to have to deal with people.

I would agree that people will be part of my life and I cannot avoid it.  As long as I am working, or going to the grocery store, I am going to have to deal with people.  I don’t think that I need to let people into my life enough to be worth using my emotion regulation or interpersonal relationship skills on them, though.  I am quite confident that I can keep people at arm’s length and not have to worry about it too much.  The only person that matters in my life is Crazy Jay, and I intend on keeping it that way.

Not only are people quite exhausting to be around, as discussed HERE, but I really don’t care about other people.  I have decided who I am going to invest my time in, and I am unwilling to add more people to the mix.

I don’t know if I am like this because I am not around people a lot, or if I am not around people a lot because I am like this, but I really just don’t care about other people.  I really don’t.  I know how that sounds.  I know what kind of person this makes me, but I am unconcerned.  I am not willing to put my time and energy into people when I know I am not going to get what I want in the end.  I do not care enough to ask a co-worker about their sick child, even after said co-worker has been out for a week taking care of that child.  I do not care enough to ask why I haven’t seen someone in a few days.  I do not care enough to ask about the cast on their arm.

As I write this, something else comes to mind.  As a sufferer of borderline personality disorder, I am aware that I see the world through my black-and-white-but-never-gray glasses.  There is no in-between.  I feel that if I put a lot of time and effort into people, I will just be disappointed in the end, therefore I will put NO effort into people.  Instead of reaching out to others and setting myself up for more hurt and pain, I will just withdraw and not have to worry about it.

I know that this would make a lonely life for some, but I am perfectly content with all the occupants of my small world.  I go to work and (grudgingly) interact with people there.  I spend the rest of my time with Jay and our dog…Our little fambly!  I will continue to practice using wise mind.  If it will help me better interact with my fambly, I’m all for it!

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Marriage, Mental Illness, Relationships | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Out of My Borderline Funk

I had an amazingly productive weekend.  I felt so good, I decided to do some cleaning and organizing in preparation for our move.  Ever since I started this job back in February, Jay has taken over the cleaning.  I haven’t had to do dishes, sweep, pick up trash or anything like that in many many months.  It’s a good thing Jay stepped up to do the cleaning, because I know that I never felt like it when I would get home.  Not only have I been working roughly ten hours a day since February, but I have been in such a funk, that I would rather sit in piles of dirty dishes and filth instead of getting off the couch and doing some cleaning.  There have been several times that Jay would let the house go for a few days while he was in his state of depression.  Even then, when we had no clean dishes and would have to wash a fork if we needed to use one or the mound of trash was so high we could go skiing down it, I would not clean.  I have not felt like it.  If I was not overly tired from working, I was angry, depressed, or agitated.  I have been in no mood to clean for at least the last six months.

When I woke up on Saturday, I was feeling motivated and energized.  Something I haven’t felt in a long time.  I had the bathroom scrubbed down before 8am!  What a way to start the weekend!  I then proceeded to clean out the bedroom, clean out the bookcase in the living room, go through the cabinets, and take care of the junk sitting around in boxes.  I threw out the things that we didn’t need so that we will only be taking things with us that we actually use when we move to West Virginia.  By early afternoon I was relaxing in front of the TV with a glass of wine, very pleased with my accomplishments for the day.

This is just one more way I can tell that I’m feeling better.  When I’m upset or depressed, the last thing I can motivate myself to do is cleaning or organizing of any kind.  I can barely drag my ass into the shower to clean myself, much less the rest of my house.  I have been feeling AWESOME this past month, and I strongly believe that a decision I made in mid September has a lot to do with it.  I have removed negative influences from my life and I am concentrating on DBT skills.

Several months ago, I didn’t think there was any hope.  I thought I would be in lost in the fog of anger and despair forever.  I didn’t think I would ever feel anything positive again.  I’m so glad I was wrong.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Daily Life, DBT, Life, Mental Illness | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

What Lie Shall I Use This Time?

One of the worst parts of self-harm, for me anyway, is trying to think of a plausible lie to tell people when they ask what happened to me.  For the most part, I try not to injure myself in places that will be obvious to other people.  I am not always successful with this.

I think it has been four weeks since I self-harmed.  Unless you count last weekend when I was so frustrated and consumed with anger I thought it would be a good idea to give my vehicle a nice, solid punch.  I haven’t cut, but I did punch the dash board pretty hard.  I did it sometime during the day last Saturday.  My hand is still very sore and slightly swollen and bruised today, almost a full week later.  Jay thinks that I broke my hand or knuckle.  Maybe I did.  All I know is that is aches if I don’t keep a brace on it.

Which leads me to my point:  Wearing the brace on my hand draws attention to my injury.  I only started wearing the brace yesterday because I didn’t want anyone to notice.  I hate having to explain to people what happened.  One would think coming up with a realistic lie and remembering all the details would be deterrent enough to keep me from hurting myself.  Obviously it’s not.

Several months back, during a dissociative moment, I hurt myself on my forearm.  It was a four to five inch long scrape.  I didn’t mean to do it, and I don’t really remember doing it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a huge gash on my arm for several weeks.  I thought that no one would notice when I went into work the next day.  I was wrong.  Almost EVERYONE noticed.  And the ones who weren’t in the office to notice that day noticed the next day they were in.  I made up some bullshit explanation of what happened.  I said that I was walking on a mountain bike trail (there are a lot around here) in flip-flops, and that I lost my balance and dragged my arm down a tree branch as I was falling.  I don’t think anyone believed me for a second, but what could they say?  I don’t know if they thought I did it to myself, but I don’t think my explanation was convincing.

A few weeks later I was wearing a short sleeve shirt with very short sleeves.  I had scratches on my upper inner arm.  Any other shirt and they would have been covered.  They didn’t look bad, but they drew notice.  My supervisor was explaining something to me and glanced at my arm.  The same arm that had the long gash a few weeks earlier.  He asked what happened, and I told him that I had been playing with my dog and scrapped my arm on a tree branch.  I told him I was a major klutz.  If I had realized that the scratches could be seen when I was wearing that shirt, I would have thought of a more convincing lie.  Or at least one that was different than the excuse I had used a few weeks earlier!

Lucky for me, only one person has asked me today about the brace on my hand.  There have only been a handful of people in the office today, though, since it’s Friday and my supervisor isn’t in.  The person who asked me what happened hadn’t been working here when I had the other visible marks.  Good thing.  I’m not very creative when it comes to lying on the spot.  No, that’s not quite true.  I’m not very creative when it comes to lying about my self-harm.  That’s a more accurate statement.  I told her that I was playing with my dog (again) and that I fell and bent my hand back.  She believed me.  I thought about telling people the truth:  That I got mad about something and punched my car.  Then I realized that would make me sound bat-shit crazy.  “Normal” people don’t go around punching things because they are mad.

Hopefully this will be the last time I have to come up with a lie to excuse an injury.  I haven’t felt the urge to cut since the last time I did almost four weeks ago.  If I can keep this anger under control, I won’t have to think of reasons why my hand is always swollen and bruised, either.  I think this weekend I am going to spend some time going through Marsha Linehan’s DBT workbook.  Maybe when I’m feeling so enraged that all I want to do is hit something, I should try to use opposite action.  Anything would be better than the way I have hurt myself in the past.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Dissociation, Mental Illness, Self Harm, Self-Injury | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Using Wise Mind to Breathe Easy

I shared about my exciting upcoming move earlier this week.  I was called and offered the position on Monday.  Since then, I have not heard anything about it.  Everything is still pretty up in the air.  I don’t know WHEN I will be moving.  I’m not quite sure HOW I will be moving, regarding the various expenses.  I don’t know WHERE we will be living when we do move.

The woman who offered me the position told me to speak with my current supervisor and see when he would be able to let me go.  I spoke with him that very day, and he told me that he would contact the woman that afternoon.

Before he had a chance to contact her, he had a family emergency that caused him to leave the state and spend most of the time he was out in the hospital with his injured son.

When I know something is going to happen, I am ready for it to happen RIGHT AWAY.  I am eager.  I am excited.  If things are not actively moving forward, though, I feel like it won’t happen.  That’s how I’ve been feeling this week regarding my job offer.  I was extremely excited on Monday, but after not hearing anything about it Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (and most likely not today, either), I am now feeling like this upcoming move and awesome new job opportunity are not going to happen after all.  I feel like there must be some major problem I don’t know about, and the higher-ups in charge are not telling me.

In my head, I know this is not the case.  I know that my supervisor has had more pressing things on his mind then when I will be starting the next step in my life, and my career.  I understand that his son’s health and well-being is more important than me transferring to another state.  At least, I’d LIKE to understand that.

I decided the way to stop fretting about it, to just let it go, and understand that there are more important things going on in the world than ME (who knew?) was to use the skill of Wise Mind.  Wise mind has helped me make a difficult decision in the past.  It helped me differentiate between what I was feeling and my tangled mess of emotions, and what were the actual FACTS of the situation.

When using wise mind, to the best of my understanding, anyway, you are supposed to list the facts of what is going on.  Write down what is actually happening in your life that is causing you distress.  Only the facts, though.  Leave your feelings, thoughts, and emotions out of it.  Wise mind has no room for waffling emotions.  Plus, it’s the EMOTION in the situation that leaves us confused, unsure of how to proceed, and with a wrong idea of what is actually happening.

I listed out all the facts of the current situation I am in.  I felt better after looking them over.  The job offer has not been rescinded.  I am not in trouble.  I did not do anything wrong.  I am still going to be moving to West Virginia.  I don’t know WHEN all of this is happening yet, but I was able to assure myself that, apart from an act of God, I will be moving, and I will be taking this job offer.  I don’t need to worry that something has changed just because no one has approached me about it again.  I even gave myself a plan of action at the end of my wise mind list.  I am going to speak to my supervisor when he is back in the office on Monday.  I am going to ask him when he thinks he can let me go, talk to him about the things I can do to make the transition easier for him, and I am going to remind him to contact the woman who offered me the position.

Now that I have this all sorted out in my head logically, and am not weighed down by the emotional stress of not knowing, I can breathe a little easier, and refocus my attention on other things.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Mental Illness, Work | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

GIVE-ing My Attitude an Adjustment

Over the weekend I was looking at a paper with interpersonal effectiveness skills explained.  It hasn’t been gone over yet in group, but my therapist has been working with me during the individual sessions on interpersonal effectiveness skills.  I was specifically looking at the section called GIVE.  GIVE is used to help better interact in a relationship.  You are supposed to be Gentle with your communication; act Interested; Validate the other person’s thoughts/feelings/behaviors; and keep the conversation light with an Easy manner.  As I was reading over this worksheet, I realized that I have no idea how to talk to people.  I was trying to list ways that I could be gentle and I came up empty.  Same with validating the other person and keeping things light and easy.  The only thing I know how to do is act interested, but I’m usually NOT interested, so I don’t act it.

I said something to Jay a while after perusing the interpersonal effectiveness worksheet.  He jerked back, like I had slapped him, and said, “Wow, you really don’t know how to talk to people!”  LMCAO  He’s so right, and I told him so.  I’m pretty sure this is one of the things he has been saying to me for a long time now, but I was unsure how to go about changing it.  Now, I actually have a way that may be helpful.

I spoke with my therapist about GIVE this morning.  She went over with me how to go about being gentle, validating the other person, and using an easy manner.

I told her that I have an especially hard time with being gentle.  I just don’t know how to do it, especially if I’m mad.  She said that when angry, one has to really work to push that anger aside so that they CAN be gentle.  Some of the ways to be gentle are by being careful with your tone of voice, showing courtesy, avoiding name calling, and avoiding judgment and “should” statements.  The key here is to respectfully communicate without judgment, sarcasm or criticism.  Avoiding guilt trips and manipulation is another key element.  Manipulating someone is apparently the opposite of being gentle and non-judgmental.  It’s like saying, “I think you should act this way, and since you aren’t, I’m going to make you feel a certain way so I can get the results I want.”  Not only are you judging their actions, you are attempting to control them.  Definitely not acting in a gentle manner.

We did not discuss ways to act interested, but here are some of my ideas.  Give the person your complete attention.  I know that I have a habit of picking up my phone or my tablet when Jay is talking.  In my mind I’m just multitasking.  I can still hear him, but at the same time I am doing something that I’m wanting to do.  All he sees is that I am ignoring him and brushing him off for something else.  Asking questions is another way of showing interest, but be careful not to do it in a way that seems like you’re interrupting.  Ask clarifying questions, or repeat what they said, just so they know that you heard them.  I think looking a person in the eye is another way to show interest, but I’m also aware that this sometimes makes the other person uncomfortable.

I’ve had issues with properly validating people, too.  I was always under the impression that you had to agree with the other person in order to validate them.  Jay would tell me that something I innocently said had hurt his feelings.  I would then take ten minutes explaining to him why he shouldn’t be hurt, why he shouldn’t feel the way he did, and why he took it the wrong way.  Of course, this would just make Jay angry, as it would make anyone angry.  His feelings were being invalidated.  The first key is to not judge.  Once again, avoid using “should”.  There is no “should” in feelings.  Things affect some people differently than they do others.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  In order to validate someone’s feelings, a short, simple sentence to let them know that you really hear what they are trying to communicate about how they feel is all that’s necessary.  If I had just said to Jay, “Wow, I hear that I hurt you.  I’m sorry,”  he most likely wouldn’t get upset.  Not most likely.  I have said that to him before, and he lets his hurt go.  He just wants to be heard and validated.  My therapist told me that you can accept and validate someone’s feelings without having to agree with them.  She told me you don’t have to AGREE, but you do have to give them the freedom to think and feel whatever they want.  Don’t tell them what they should or should not feel.  Don’t argue about what they are feeling.  Just let them feel it without judgment.

The last part of GIVE is to keep the conversation light with an easy manner.  I was told that this is more of an attitude and not specifically so much what you say.  It’s more about having a lighthearted demeanor.  Joking with the other person, smiling, and laughing.  I’m told that smiling goes a long way and is a big part of one’s demeanor.  I guess I’ll have to try it more often.  Another part is just being personable, which I have a hard time with.  I can be straight-laced and professional all day long, but when it comes to being personable, I have a little trouble.  I’m pretty stiff with people, mostly because I feel uncomfortable.  One more thing for me to work on.  Being at ease with yourself and others helps to keep things light and easy.

I’m glad I have it set in my head how to better interact with people.  Not just people in general.  This is for relationships that you want to keep and nurture.  The hard part is going to be putting it into action, but, I’m confident that, with a little (or a LOT) practice, I should be able to improve Jay’s and my relationship.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Marriage, Mental Illness, Relationships, Therapy | Tags: , | 3 Comments

What’s the Opposite Action to Road Rage?

Yesterday in my DBT group we discussed opposite action.  When you are feeling an emotion strongly, be it fear, guilt or shame, sadness or depression, or anger, you are supposed to determine if that feeling is justified.  Not if it’s valid.  If you feel it, it is real and it is valid.

Now, whether or not that feeling is JUSTIFIED is a totally different matter.  Webster defines “justified” as “to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable.”  “Reasonable” being the key word here.

My therapist recommended thinking about what a poll of 100 people would say about the emotion you are trying to act out on.  If the majority of those polled would say it is NOT justified, or reasonable, then that is the time to try opposite action.

Opposite action is doing the exact opposite of what you feel like doing in an attempt to regulate your emotions and change your mood.  I have tried opposite action before, as described HERE.  I found it to work very well.  I started off angry at Jay, and decided instead of stewing in my anger, or sending a nasty email, that I would write about all the awesome things he’s done for me, and how much he loves me.  By the end, I completely forgot about my anger.  The key is to catch whatever emotion you’re wrapped up in before it turns into something you can no longer control.

My therapist told us that our homework for the week was to try out opposite action “just for fun”.  She actually said that.  “Just for fun.”  LMCAO  (which stands for “laughing my crazy ass off” for those who don’t know)  Yeah, loads of fun.  I know it’s sometimes more fun for me to wallow in those strong emotions, right or not!

I was trying to find a time yesterday afternoon to use opposite action.  I got the chance when I was driving home.  I get so angry when driving.  The people here just flat out do not know how to conduct themselves while driving, but that is probably the case with idiots everywhere.  I tend to get to the point where I’m slamming my fists down on the steering wheel, SCREAMING and cussing, and holding myself back from ramming my vehicle into theirs.  So, here’s my question:  What would be the opposite action in THAT case?  What is the opposite action to road rage?

Yesterday during group, my therapist kept giving scenarios where opposite action could be used, and would then ask us what the opposite action would be.  The other girl in my group answered several times, “Not do x-y-z?”  That is the absence of action, not the opposite of the action one is wanting to take.  So, the answer to my above question is NOT to not scream and refrain from hitting the steering wheel.  That would be the absence of action.

Today, coming back to work from break I got another pretty bad case of road rage.  Funny how that springs up EVERY TIME I get behind the wheel.  The guy in front of me was driving 10-15 mph (literally) when I was trying to get back to work.  I was LIVID.  I wanted to get up really close to his bumper, all the while screaming at him and shaking my fist.  Instead, I backed off, and told myself that he is probably just confused and not sure where to go.  Or maybe there is something wrong with his car that is causing him to go slowly.  Maybe he doesn’t know the streets very well, and is just being extra cautious.

When I started thinking from the other driver’s point of view, my anger began to dissipate.  I took a few breaths and was able to calm myself down.  I didn’t ram into him.  I didn’t hit the steering wheel.  I didn’t scream and cuss.  And I felt better.  I guess I shouldn’t be by now, but I am always amazed how much those DBT skills actually work.

Categories: Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, DBT, Mental Illness, Therapy | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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