Beware of Energy Vampires: Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)


I've been blogging about my experience with Borderline Personality Disorder and DBT for about two years now.  I intend to continue doing so, as the process is quite therapeutic for me, and my readers from around the world are so kind to let me know that they feel helped and encouraged by witnessing my journey.


One thing that is shifting is I realized this week that I needed to take a look at my boundaries.  As someone with BPD, I have often struggled with boundary issues such as over-disclosing personal information, getting too close and clingy too soon, and revolving my world around others' acceptance of me. I am sure that many of you, my dear readers, can relate.

It's been quite a while since these particular aspects of the disorder have been troubling to me, but since they have been lately, it was time to look at them and come up with an action plan.

We all know what it feels like to lose our sense of boundaries.  We may regret telling too much about ourselves. We may feel vulnerable because we latch onto someone and make them our world only to feel disillusioned when we realize this can't be.  We may expect too much from others or give in to others' unreasonable requests all in an attempt to avoid being rejected or experiencing perceived abandonment.  This is all part of the disorder, and it's part of why there is an entire module in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) devoted to Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Rather than beat myself up over it, and rather than you doing the same, it's much more effective to just notice the behavior like an interested observer. Then, come up with an action plan that keeps you safe and allows you to practice skills that keep your self-respect and relationships intact. 

Before my book came out, my mentor, who is a well-known author herself, warned me about how people would be coming out of the woodwork once my book was out. She mentioned "haters," which I had not yet experienced, as well as people who were not at the same point on the path as me. Granted there will always be some ahead of you on the path, and there will also be some that are still in a place of dysfunction from which you've graduated and moved on. It's not about judging anyone else or yourself -- it's about accepting where everyone is while also considering your own limitations around how you will connect with others -- your boundaries.

I took my friend seriously in the sense that I did some grounding work to allow myself to stay separate from others' issues and energies, but I suppose I didn't fully realize the gravity of how putting out very intimate, deep personal details in my first book would affect me.

I talked about this in IOP yesterday and gained some really helpful insights from the group psychologist and my peers. Of course one would feel vulnerable sharing her story in such a public way. Of course this would mean exposure to a wider audience, many of them hurting people who are looking for hope like the rest of us.  Being this much in the spotlight has surprisingly been a bit stressful, but our group therapist let me know that the feelings around this will fade, and it will get better.

I must remember my intentions with the book: to share my story to give others with BPD (and their loved ones) HOPE. Nothing more, nothing less.  take some responsibility and not make myself the "victim" here. Let's talk about what an Energy Vampire is and how we can protect ourselves.

What is an Energy (or "Psychic") Vampire?

"A psychic vampire is a term used to describe a living person who "drains" others emotionally either empathically (draining the auric life force) or metaphorically (someone who takes emotionally without giving anything back; a "user"). These so-called "vampires" are not to be confused with the blood-sucking vampires of folklore and movieland. Every person has unknowingly drained someone else's energy at one time or another. Chronic psychic vampires generally are not aware that they are stealing energy from others. Fair and balanced energy exchanges make for healthier relationships. Also Known As: energy drains, energy suckers"



Reference:
psychic vampire. (n.d.). Holistic Healing Definitions at About.com. Retrieved October 16, 2012, from About.com website: http://healing.about.com/od/glossary/g/psychic_vampire.htm


We Have All Done It


Notice from the definition that every person has unknowingly done this at some point. That means me. That means you.

There was a time in my life when I was in so much despair and terrified of being alone that I would create one crisis after another and seek others to rescue me.  I didn't give much in return because my cup was not full.  I was seeking others to rescue me to fill my cup.  In order to give to someone else, your cup has to be running over: full for you, with plenty of extra to offer to others.

If your cup is not full, you are susceptible to being an Energy Vampire (EV).  It's often not intentional.  I got quite judgmental when EVs began coming out of the woodwork - repeatedly asking for help while not showing any signs of working on the issues they were complaining about.   People were also asking me questions that I had no expertise around (such as parenting), and then becoming upset and even hostile that I would not provide answers.

I'm sorry that I did not just send back a simple reply that I wasn't qualified.  Up until now, other than mentioning that I am a peer and not a doctor or therapist, I haven't put out a clear set of guidelines around my boundaries.  I'm working on that.

I've also begun reading this excellent book and would like to start a "BPD Book Club."  This will be the first book in the series.  I'll be blogging about the book and look forward to your thoughts.
You can get a copy here.


Til then, be sure to put on your virtual garlic and fill up your emotional cup.  

Thank you for reading.
More Soon.

5 comments:

  1. energy vampires are my worst nightmare. They really challenge me to use my interpersonal effectiveness skills, and I don't like that because it is hard work! I use most of my energy just getting through a typical day. So, when I have to work harder it doesn't take much to deplete my emotional cup.

    How do you keep your cup full? It helps me to be around energy-givers (or whatever would be the opposite of energy vampires.)

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    1. Fortunately you have a knowledge of Interpersonal Effectiveness skills and a willingness to use them. These are KEY! ♥ For me, keeping my cup full means lots of self-care and soothing as well as not letting things bottle up. If I fail to share as things are becoming difficult, I find that this is when my cup empties. Thanks for the comment and question. :)

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    2. Thank you for your reply :) I really enjoy your blog.

      WIL

      writeintothelight.org

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  2. I am so excited to have found your blog. I have not yet been to see a therapist since "self-diagnosing" myself with bpd. It's a long long story but what it boils down to is for my entire life I've been treated unsuccessfully for GAD, depression, and bipolar II. My life has been a roller coaster and at 34 after a 3rd attempt at ending my life my fiance and I sat down and did as much research as we could about my problems. While reading about bipolar II we came across an article about borderline personality disorder. As I read the article I was in tears. I had never even heard about it and had never read anything so spot on as to what I have been living through. Since that time I have been in search of a therapist and a good dbt program and I have continued doing research on bpd. That's how I came across your blog. It's so so nice to know that someone else has gone through this. I have often times felt so crazy and so alone thinking that no one else in the world felt this way. At 34 years old I am so ready to learn how to control my emotions for the first time ever and be able to accept the good things in life instead of sabotaging them. Thank you for being such a wonderful source of support!

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    1. Hi Tracy Lynn. I hope you can talk with a therapist soon to get an accurate diagnosis. I'm so glad that you've come across some information that you can relate to, and I hope it's the start of your own healing journey! ♥ Thank you for your comment and kind words.

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