PTSD Symptoms that Overlap with BPD (Week 8: Wrapping Up Trauma Recovery Group)




To read Week 1, click Here.
To read Week 2, click Here.
To read Week 3, click Here.
To read Week 4, click Here.
To read Week 5, click Here.
To read Week 6, click Here.
Week 7, no post
Week 8 - You are here. :)

Seven weeks ago I began attending a trauma recovery group to cope with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in connection with the symptoms of my former diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (I know longer meet the criteria for BPD and am in recovery).  I first of all want to mention that one of the biggest things I got out of this process was learning the incredible overlap between BPD and PTSD symptoms (at least in my case), and how much of what I experienced at the height of my suffering from BPD symptoms now makes sense in the light of the trauma I experienced in the past.

Here I sit, eight weeks later, reflecting.

So -- am I all better?  Did I resolve and get over my trauma in two months?  No, but there is so much good that came out of my willingness to show up, participate, and commit to the process that I am so glad that I did.  I've also seen significant improvement in my ability to handle emotional triggers around the specific issue I worked on over the course of the class (you only pick one trauma incident per (normally) 8-week round.

In fact, I was issued a chart today that validated my perception that things had truly improved. It shows how my distress level plots out based on questionnaires we were asked to complete at the beginning of each group.  As predicted with trauma recovery work (by the doctors who facilitated the group), things got worse before they got better, and my distress level increased on the weeks that it was my turn to tell and record my trauma story. Then, there was a steady decline of distress to a very low, manageable level.

It was emotional tonight.  Saying goodbye to peers with whom I've shared such intimate details and held space for theirs, knowing I may never see them again....that wasn't easy.  I also became emotional during the certificate ceremony at the end.  One of the doctors who ran the group and I discussed how I tried to do this very same group years ago, showed up for two sessions, then dropped out because it was too difficult. My emotional reactions were unmanageable for me at that time.

I actually had an episode of emotional detachment, but that was "normal" given the circumstances, I'm told.

Since learning and implementing DBT skills into my life (and now even teaching them), I was finally able to cope effectively enough to work on things I never wanted to face. What's more is that I have hope of returning at a future date to conquer other trauma memories.

I had tried to complete this Trauma Recovery group years ago before DBT, and I just want' able to cope with the intensity of the emotions that showed up.  I am finally able to start working on my past trauma experiences. This group was the first big step.



I mentioned some overlap with PTSD and BPD symptoms in myself and some other people as well.

Here are the ones I identified:


PTSD symptoms that Overlap(ped) with BPD for Me

  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships with family and friends
  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming guilt, shame, despair, or hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or self-destructive behavior
  • Changed beliefs or personality traits

(From Mayo Clinic's and Web MD's lists of PTSD symptoms.)

Have hope. You can get there, too!   You can overcome BPD and be strong enough to work on past trauma. It takes time. It takes effort, but you can do it.

Hope this helped you.
More soon.

In kindness,
Debbie






BPD Open Letter in Spanish / en español (Carta Abierta De Parte de Aquellos que Tenemos Trastorno Límite de la Personalidad)



Spanish Translation of the Open Letter from Those of Us With Borderline Personality Disorder to Those Who Do Not Have It.  Thank you so much to Romina of esperanzatlp for doing this translation!  Romina started Esperanza TLP in Mexico to help Spanish speakers who suffer from BPD and their loved ones.  She is one of the dedicated students in my online DBT classes at DBT Path.

To view the original Open Letter in English, click here.


Carta Abierta De Parte de Aquellos que Tenemos Trastorno Límite de la Personalidad

 Queridos Amigos, Familia, Parejas, Ex-Parejas, Compañeros de Trabajo, Hijos y otros que también tienen Trastorno Límite de Personalidad:

 Probablemente estas frustrado, te sientes desesperado y listo para darte por vencido. No es tu culpa. Tú no eres la causa de nuestro sufrimiento. Tal vez te resulte muy difícil de creer, ya que te podemos atacar, cambiar de ser amorosos y amigables a ser desconfiados y crueles en un segundo, y a veces podemos culparte directamente. Pero, no es tu culpa. Tú mereces entender mejor este trastorno y entender lo que desearíamos poder decir, pero tal vez no estamos listos para decirlo.

 Es posible que algo que dijiste o hiciste nos “detonara”. Un detonante es algo que nos hace recordar un evento traumático en el pasado o causa que tengamos pensamientos angustiantes. Puedes intentar ser más delicado con las cosas que dices o haces, pero eso no es siempre posible, y no siempre es claro activa un detonante.

 La mente es muy compleja. Cierta canción, sonido, olor o palabra puede disparar rápidamente conexiones neurológicas que nos llevan a un lugar en el pasado en donde no nos sentíamos seguros, y podemos responder en el presente con una reacción similar (piensa en los militares que estuvieron en combate – el simple sonido de un coche puede provocarles un “flashback”. Esto es conocido como Estrés Post Traumático, y también nosotros lo sufrimos a menudo).

 Pero, por favor ten en cuenta que al mismo tiempo que te estamos alejando con nuestras palabras y comportamiento, también esperamos desesperadamente que no nos abandones en este tiempo de desesperación y desesperanza.

 Este pensamiento extremo de blanco y negro, y la experimentación de deseos opuestos  es conocido como dialéctica. Cuando recién fuimos diagnosticados y antes de adentrarnos en TDC (Terapia Dialéctica Conductual), no contamos con las herramientas apropiadas  para decirte esto o pedir tu apoyo de manera saludable.

 Podemos hacer cosas muy dramáticas como dañarnos a nosotros mismos de alguna manera (o amenazar con hacerlo), ir al hospital o algo similar. Aunque estos gritos de ayuda deben de ser tomados en serio, entendemos que tú puedes estar cansado de nuestro comportamiento y de estar preocupándote por nosotros.

 Por favor confía en que, con ayuda profesional, y a pesar de lo que puedas haber escuchado o llegar a creer, podemos y en efecto mejoramos.  

 Estos episodios pueden ir siendo menos y más distanciados uno de otro,  podemos experimentar periodos largos de estabilidad y regulación de nuestras emociones. A veces lo mejor que puedes hacer, si puedes reunir fuerzas a pesar de tu frustración y dolor, es tomarnos, abrazarnos, decirnos que nos amas y no nos vas a abandonar.

 Uno de los síntomas del Trastorno Límite de Personalidad es un intenso miedo a ser abandonado, y por lo tanto (muchas veces de manera inconsciente) a veces nos comportamos de manera extrema y frenética con tal de evitar que el abandono suceda. Incluso la percepción de abandono es una causa inminente para que nos volvamos frenéticos.

 Otra cosa que puede resultar confusa es nuestra incapacidad para mantener relaciones interpersonales. Podemos brincar de una amistad a otra, yendo del amarlos e idealizarlos a despreciarlos, borrándolos de nuestro celular y quitándolos de Facebook. Podemos evitarte, no contestar tus llamadas y rechazar tus invitaciones – y en otro momento queremos estar todo el tiempo contigo. Esto se le llama clivaje (división), y es parte del trastorno. A veces tomamos medidas preventivas y rechazamos a las personas antes de que ellas pueden rechazarnos o abandonarnos. No estamos diciendo que este bien. Podemos trabajar estos patrones destructivos y aprender a ser más saludables en el contexto de nuestras relaciones. Es sólo que se nos da de manera natural. Tomará tiempo y esfuerzo.

 Es difícil relacionarse apropiadamente con otros, cuando no tienes un claro entendimiento de ti mismo y de quién eres, cuando estas separado de los demás.

 Dentro del Trastorno Límite de Personalidad, muchos experimentamos alteraciones de identidad. Podemos adoptar atributos de quien se encuentre a nuestro alrededor, sin nunca saber quiénes somos realmente. ¿Recuerdas en la preparatoria a esos chicos que pasaban de escuchar rock a pop a gótico, todo por encajar en un grupo – vistiéndose como ellos, peinándose como ellos y usando sus mismos gestos? Es como si no hubieras logrado superar eso.

 A veces incluso tomamos los gestos de otras personas (somos de una manera en el trabajo, de otra en casa y de otra en la iglesia), lo cual ha contribuido a que recibamos el apodo de “camaleones”. Claro que en general las personas actúan diferente en el trabajo, pero a nosotros puedes incluso no reconocernos por la manera que nos comportamos en el trabajo contra como nos comportamos en la casa. Es así de extremo.

 Muchos de nosotros durante nuestra infancia, desafortunadamente, tuvimos padres o tutores que cambiaban rápidamente de amorosos a abusivos. Teníamos que actuar de maneras que complacieran a nuestros padres o tutores todo el tiempo, para poder sentirnos seguros y sobrevivir. Aún no hemos superado esto.

A causa de todo este sufrimiento, muchas veces tenemos sentimientos de vacío. No podemos ni imaginarnos lo indefenso que te debe hacer sentir presenciar esto. Tal vez has intentado muchas cosas para aliviar el dolor, pero nada ha servido. De nuevo, esto NO es tu culpa.

 Lo mejor que podemos hacer durante periodos como estos es recordarnos “esto también pasará” y practicar las habilidades de TDC – especialmente la auto-calma – cosas que nos ayudan a sentirnos un poco mejor a pesar del adormecimiento.  El aburrimiento es frecuentemente peligroso para nosotros, ya que puede llevar a sentimientos de vacío. Lo más inteligente para nosotros es mantenernos ocupados y distraídos cuando el aburrimiento se acerca.

 Del otro lado de la moneda, podemos tener explosiones de ira que pueden ser atemorizantes. Es importante que permanezcamos a salvo y no nos lastimemos. Esta es sólo otra manifestación del TLP.

 Somos muy sensibles emocionalmente y tenemos una gran dificultad para regular/modular nuestras emociones. La Dr. Marsha Linehan, fundadora de la TDC, nos compara con víctimas de quemaduras de tercer grado.

 A través de la Terapia Dialéctica Conductual, podemos aprender a regular nuestras emociones para que no nos salgamos de control. Podemos aprender a detener el sabotaje en nuestras vidas y circunstancias… y podemos aprender a comportarnos de formas menos dañinas y atemorizantes para ti.

 Otra cosa que tal vez has notado es una mirada ida en nuestra cara. Eso se le llama disociación. Nuestro cerebro literalmente se desconecta y nuestros pensamientos se van a otro lugar, ya que nuestro cerebro está intentando protegernos de más trauma emocional. Podemos aprender ejercicios para poner los pies en la tierra y usar nuestras habilidades para ayudarnos en estos episodios, y pueden volverse menos frecuentes conforme vamos mejorando. ¿Pero, qué hay de ti?

 Si ya te has decidido a juntar fuerzas y quedarte a lado de tu ser querido con TLP, probablemente tú también necesitas apoyo. Aquí hay algunas ideas:
  • Recuerda que el comportamiento de esa persona no es tu culpa
  • Reúne compasión con el sufrimiento de esa persona, entendiendo que ese comportamiento es probablemente una reacción intensa a ese sufrimiento
  • Haz cosas para cuidar de ti mismo.
  • Además de aprender acerca de TLP y cómo cuidarse a uno mismo, asegúrate de hacer cosas que disfrutes y que te hagan sentir calma (auto-calma), tales como salir a caminar, ver una película chistosa, comer algo rico, tomar un baño caliente – lo que sea que te guste hacer para cuidar de ti mismo y sentirte más tranquilo.
  • Haz preguntas. Hay muchos malentendidos acerca de TLP.
  • Recuerda que tus palabras, amor y apoyo, van a ayudar a tu ser querido a sanar, aunque los resultados no se vean de manera inmediata.
 Recuerda que todas las situaciones que describí aplican para personas con Trastorno Límite de la Personalidad. Una persona debe de tener al menos 5 síntomas de 9 para ser diagnosticado, y las combinaciones de esos 5 síntomas parecen ser interminables. Esta entrada es sólo para dar una idea del típico sufrimiento y pensamientos que aquellos que tenemos TLP tenemos.

 Este es mi segundo año en TDC. Hace un año, no podría haber escrito esta carta, pero representa en gran medida lo que había en mi corazón y no me había dado cuenta o no podía expresar.

Mi esperanza es que encuentres mayor entendimiento acerca del trastorno que sufre tu ser querido y crezca tu compasión y entendimiento para tu ser querido y para ti mismo, ya que éste no es un camino fácil.

Te puedo decir, por experiencia personal, que trabajar este trastorno a través de TDC lo vale. La esperanza puede volver. Se puede tener una vida normal. Con el tiempo puedes dar algunos vistazos cada vez mayores y mayores de quien esa persona en realidad es, si no te das por vencido. Te deseo paz.

Thank you for visiting!

In kindness,
Debbie



The author of this letter has since RECOVERED from Borderline Personality Disorder and no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. She now teaches the DBT skills that helped change her life over at DBT Path where you can take online Dialectical Behavior Therapy Classes from anywhere in the world. Co-facilitated with a licensed therapist. You can read Debbie's books here.

UPDATE: A video version of this letter, complete with narration and text, is now available for viewing and sharing by clicking HERE.

English Version
 

Differences between Dissociation and Detachment



In this video, I speak about what I learned last night in PTSD trauma recovery group on the distinctions between dissociation and detachment.





Some thoughts on Dissociation vs. Emotional Detachment:

1. Dissociation is really an involuntary process of the mind to protect us, whereas, on some level, emotional detachment can be intentional.  Dissociation is being emotionally disconnected and not present, where detachment is more like being distracted and not fully present (but still somewhat present).

2. Emotional detachment can be likened to "numbing" one's feelings by avoiding being with an emotion because it feels too overwhelming or painful.

3. Both of these coping skills are often associated with having experienced trauma in the past. Emotional detachment can also be related to other anxiety and stress disorders.

4. Sometimes, when we are emotionally detaching, we may appear present to others in the cognitive sense (speaking logically) but our emotional affect may be lacking. (Think of the character Data in Star Trek.) 

5. Grounding skills can be helpful with both issues.  Acknowledging where you are, what you're feeling, what all of your senses are taking in, can be very helpful.


Do you experience dissociation and/or emotional detachment?  How do you cope effectively?

Hope this helps.

More soon,
Debbie


A Radically Changed Life: Seeing the Positive Effects of DBT (Guest Post by Heather)




Please welcome Heather of Breaking Free/Becoming Me with her first guest post at HFBPD.

It's been a little over five months since I started dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and I have to say these have been the most challenging and rewarding five months of my life. That's not an exaggeration.

I've had ups and downs just like anyone struggling to overcome something like borderline personality disorder (BPD), but through and through, the DBT skills have really helped pull me to the other side.

I'm what they consider "high-functioning" with BPD. I've got a full-time job in corporate America, two kids, two step kids and a husband and I live thousands of miles from my parents and siblings. Life is beyond busy, to say the least, so at first, when I saw all of the DBT skills, I thought "there is no way I can do this. It's too much. I can't handle this." But I've learned so much, and DBT has really changed my life in a variety of ways. 

For example:

I handle my emotions better at work.

I was a ticking time bomb. Before my diagnosis and DBT treatment, the littlest comments from my boss or even just the amount of time others spend on their work compared to mine would send me over the edge. Not in a rage, but in a I-take-everything-personal-so-I-need-to-breakdown-and-cry kind of explosion. 

Since really focusing on the mindfulness skills, I've been able to remind myself to simply observe and describe my experience. Every little thing before used to have something ascribed to it - there was always an undertone that I put in place and then acted upon. With mindfulness, I am now able to see things as they are without putting emotion behind it. Things are what they seem until proven otherwise. This has significantly reduced my stress and anxiety at work.

I communicate much better with my husband.

I was so afraid of judgment. But I am in a much better place now when it comes to communicating my feelings and emotions with my husband. I feared his judgment - what would he think of me if I told him how I was really feeling? "I'm supposed to be like this or like that," I used to think. But really, he just wants me to be me. 

He's the epitome of what I've been searching for my whole life. And by opening up to him and participating more and communicating more effectively, our relationship is growing by leaps and bounds. He is my person and he knows more about me than anyone in the whole world, and that doesn't scare me anymore.

I judge myself less.

It's amazing how the DBT skills become part of everyday life. They really are life skills and they help me to trust myself and trust that it's OK to be me. I was running a 15k race (my longest race so far) and I almost quit after mile 7. During that mile, I decided I needed a buddy to help me through the next mile or so, so I tapped a woman on the shoulder and asked if she wanted to pass the next mile with me. It was something I never would have done six months ago. 

I would have 1) quit when I felt like quitting or 2) I would have never talked to someone I didn’t know. I would have thought, "What will she think of me? She'll think I’m a weirdo." 

Well, instead, using my DBT skills, I just jumped in, what's the worse that could happen? She could have said, "No, I'd prefer to run alone." And then that'd be it. Nothing more, nothing less. But she didn't. She and I talked for the next mile and it got me back on track and I was able to finish at my goal time. I would have never thought that DBT skills would come up during a race.

I self-harm less.

Trigger Warning (TW)
Before DBT, I didn't really have thoughts of alternate forms of dealing with my emotions. My emotions would build up and I'd need to release, so I'd cut or punch myself. In the past five months, I have cut only three times and I have only hit myself once. Those times I was so angry the next day that I had gone there, but I reminded myself that it's ok. It's just a bump, not an end. I use distress tolerance skills a lot these days. 
End Trigger Warning

When I'm feeling anxious, overwhelmed or like I’m about to explode, I either sit in the shower and just focus on the water hitting my back. Or I have a session with the punching bag we bought a few months ago. Those are my to go-to activities for avoiding self-harming behavior. Also, I talk to my husband. When I'm feeling on the edge, instead of running away from him and trying to hide my emotions, I open them up to him. Getting them out and talking through them also helps tremendously.

I am able to accept my past.

Radical acceptance is one area that has taken me a long time to truly understand and practice. There is a lot of things in my past that I am so ashamed of and have kept hidden and pretended that I didn't do them. This has been the most challenging part of my work - looking back at the things I did and my ugliness that I pretended didn't exist. 

It's hard to look at things as they truly were and it's even harder to really accept that they happened and move forward. But I can't move forward if I don't get the demons out and face my actions. And I certainly don't want to be stuck in the past. 

So I'm getting there. I accept that things happened, but I do not think they are OK. This all just strengthens my desire to never return to those places and be that person ever again. The other thing with radical acceptance is that it's helped me in every day life. 

If something doesn't goes as planned or I mess up at work, I try my best to say, "It is what it is. I can't change it now. What can I do in the future?" This has greatly reduced my stress level at home and at work and especially with my family. Holding on and trying to control everything just leads to build up frustration and negative emotions - living more freely and accepting life as it comes has helped me to be a more relaxed wife, mother, step mother, daughter, sister, friend and employee.

My life isn't perfect and it never will be. But with continued focus and practice with DBT skills, I think my life will continue to significantly improve. I'm already starting to feel that this truly is the start of a life worth living. DBT has saved me and become integrated into my life in ways I never imagined. The skills truly are becoming my behaviors and I have to try less. I'm able to just be me - the me I have always wanted to be.


-- Heather
Breaking Free/Becoming Me
Twitter 


A note from Debbie:

Encouraged by Heather's story? So was I!  The barrier to DBT has often been one of accessibility, i.e., "there is no DBT in my area." This is no longer true. Because of my own success story with DBT and those like that of Heather,  licensed therapist Alicia Paz and I came up with a solution. To learn more about how you can take online DBT classes and learn these skills to change your own life from anywhere in the world, visit DBT Path to learn more. 

Coping Effectively With Anxiety - Week 6 of Trauma Recovery Group



To read Week 1, click Here.
To read Week 2, click Here.
To read Week 3, click Here.
To read Week 4, click Here.
To read Week 5, click Here.


If you suffer from anxiety, I suspect you'll connect with this post.  Although I have come so far in my recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder and am now working on coping with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) symptoms in a trauma recovery group, I naturally suffer from time to time from anxiety.

Because I have chosen to face things that I had a habit of denying and pretending didn't happen, my body and mind have been responding.  I've had anxiety. Why am I personally anxious? I have a number of reasons, including that the 8-week group I am in is going to end next week (at 7 weeks) because the doctors said we covered all of the material.  I was triggered by having to share and record my story again this past Wednesday in the group, a friend is coping with cancer, and some other random issues.  I like, everyone else, has "real life" stuff going on, and not all of it is rainbows and unicorns.

Most of us who are emotionally sensitive become concerned and dysregulated when we feel anxious, and I am no exception. The difference is in how I cope more effectively now than I have in the past.

The emotion of anxiety can be so overwhelming, frightening, and feel so urgent.  We can be tricked into believing we are going crazy, losing our minds, or that we will never know what it is like to feel calm again.  Of course, like any emotion, anxiety eventually subsides and we feel better again.

But, when you have BPD or are otherwise challenged with regulating your emotions and are in the thick of an anxiety attack or anxious days, it can be very hard to remember this, let alone believe it.  This is why we must turn to the self-talk of our Wise Mind (a DBT - Dialectical Behavior Therapy) concept.

We must remind ourselves of certain truths that will not only calm us in the moment but that can also affect our nervous system in such a way that lessens our time of suffering in the anxious state.

Anxiety is there to protect and serve us in reality. It is a primitive, very natural response to perceived danger.  The word perceived is important here, because the brain responds to danger whether it is real and in front of our faces or whether we have gotten ourselves worked up over future worries and "what-ifs?" or thinking about past times when we were hurt or victimized.

It would behoove us to befriend anxiety (yes, befriend it) when it arrives and to be curious about it's presence, because unfortunately resisting, denying, and trying to fight anxiety, which is often the tendency since it is uncomfortable and unwanted, only make things worse. We only get more tense in our muscles and more frustrated as the anxious feelings linger rather than subside.

But we can take a different approach that helps us to stop the process in it's tracks. Although it takes time for the physiological aspects to balance out again, we can reduce the amount of time we suffer with the emotion of anxiety.  I mentioned earlier that we can start by reminding ourselves of some truths.  Here are somethings we can say to ourselves when feeling very anxious:


  • I am safe. This is only an anxiety attack.
  • These are just thoughts. Not all thoughts are true. I don't have to run with them.
  • I notice the tension in my __________ (stomach, shoulder muscles, neck), and I know this is my body's reaction to stress and anxiety. What can I do to help relax?  (Then do those safe activities, i.e. a hot shower, a massage if possible, go for a walk, do a body tension and relaxation guided exercise from YouTube or a CD.)
  • This is my body and mind having a normal reaction to protect me. If I can convince it that I am safe by breathing slowly, using self-talk, and self-soothing, I can reduce the duration of this episode.
  • This is going to pass, and I can ride the wave until it does.

The calmer we can get ourselves, the sooner the anxiety will subside. I've learned this the hard way many times. Trying to fight and resist and getting upset while engaging thoughts like: "Oh no, not again. I can't BELIEVE I'm having anxiety again! Why?! I hate this!" only fuels the anxiety.

Those thoughts may (and likely will) come, but we need to make the conscious choice to sit down, close our eyes, start breathing slowly, and using Wise Mind self-talk to slow things down.

This too shall truly pass.  You can ride the wave of emotion and watch it reach it's peak and then come back down again. It always does, even in those times when this is hard to remember and believe.

I hope this helped you in some way.

More soon,
Debbie

To Read Week 8 (there is no Week 7 post), click HERE.


Avoid Testing Your Emotional Triggers: Seeking Safety, Week 5 of Trauma Recovery Group



To read Week 1, click Here.
To read Week 2, click Here.
To read Week 3, click Here.
To read Week 4, click Here.

Are there certain subject matters, situations, or environments that trigger you emotionally? (Here is some information about triggers, including what they are and what "TW" or "trigger warning" means on social media posts).

This past week in Trauma Recovery group, we talked about Coping With Triggers, and one of the things we discussed is the concept of "testing," and I think we've all dabbled in this at one point or another.

Testing is when you dip your toe in the water of your trigger, so to speak, to see if you've become "stronger" or better able to handle the trigger.  I'll give you an example by sharing one of our homework assignments this week, which was to list our top three triggers and how we can cope with them.

I listed:

Trigger Warning (TW)
  1. Getting ill - especially gastrointestinal (due to past neglect trauma when I got very sick as a child).  Methods to cope: Grounding skills, reminding self that I can take care of me. I am a competent adult and will not let myself down.
  2. Rape scenes in movies and on TV. Methods to cope: Avoid such programs. Ground, self-soothe, and distract if exposed to such content.
  3. Stories on harmful things done to animals and children (the vulnerable). Methods to cope: Deep breaths. Radically accept that horrible things do happen and that I don't have control. Make choices I feel help, protect, and honor vulnerable beings every day and make my difference and impact that way.



Testing one of my triggers would look something like this:

Using example #2:  Watching a film that I know will have a rape scene to see if I can handle it without having a reaction.


End Trigger Warning

I wrote down a quote that one of the doctors co-facilitating the group said about testing triggers:

"[Always think:] 'will approaching this trigger help me have a better quality of life?"

So, in this case, would watching movies with such scenes improve my quality of life? Of course not, so it's better not to even bother testing the trigger.

If I were avoiding going to the movie theater at all for fear of being exposed to such a scene, I might test the trigger by going to a G or PG-13 rated film that I've researched to be sure there is no such content. Then I would go to the movie theater because being able to do such a fun activity could improve the quality of my life.

Makes sense? 

According to Lisa Najavits, whose text "Seeking Safety" we use in our group, there are times to avoid triggers and times to approach them:





(Najavitz, 2002, page unknown)


Do you ever try to test your triggers?

Does the information in the post help you to understand why it might be more effective to avoid doing this?

Thank you for reading.
More soon.


Read Week 6 HERE

Boredom & BPD: Some Skillful Alternatives to Harmful Behaviors (Guest Blogger Marci)




Please welcome first-time guest blogger Marci of Marci, Mental Health, and More

Everyone feels bored sometimes.  For people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) being bored can be accompanied by other intense emotions and/or can result in behavior that doesn’t help and sometimes makes things worse.  When I am bored some of the common emotions I feel along with it are: emptiness, loneliness and disappointment; anger, frustration, and restlessness; and apathy and depression.  

I’ve learned over the years from both DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and personal experience what works and doesn’t work when I am trying to deal with boredom and the feelings that occur with it.

What doesn’t work?

  • Isolating
    • Why I do it: I don’t want to bother others, I’m afraid of rejection; I don’t want my current emotional state to be seen.  
    • Why it doesn’t work: when alone my feelings/thoughts tend to feed off each other and I spiral out of control.  It is easier to engage in destructive behavior when I am alone.  People don’t see certain sides of me and may not know the authentic or “real” me.
  • Returning to bad habits or doing things we know are bad for us because of a lack of other options.   
    • Why I do it: it’s the easy way out, they are familiar, it has a short term benefit, willfulness or stubbornness.  
    • Why it doesn’t work: it usually has a longer term detriment or only fixes things for the moment, I end up judging myself and saying things like “I should have known better.”

What does work?

  • Reaching out to other people. 
    • This includes the DBT skills opposite action and distraction.  For me reaching out can be texting or Facebook messaging a friend to see if they can get together face to face.  This usually leads to doing an activity with them like going to the movies, out to eat, bowling, or just about anything. It can also be an online, text, phone, or in person conversation regarding what is currently bothering you or completely unrelated.  
    • Why it works: I feel better during the activities and it combats the feelings of emptiness and loneliness.  Even afterwards I feel proud that I reached out and did something and grateful that someone responded.  It also helps renew my faith in humankind if anger, frustration, or disappointment were adding to or causing the boredom.
  • Changing it around to focus on someone else by helping them. 
    • This includes the DBT skills contributing and finding meaning. Making gifts for other people (scrapbooks, cards, drawings.)  Planning events other people and I will like to do (family BBQ, movie day with friends, Groupon day.)  Listening to other people’s current situation or stress.  Helping people with things I have experienced or learned (I do this in the form of blogging for personal experiences/mental health and tutoring at school.)  
    • Why it works:   It is something to do and it makes others happy.  They say one of the best things you can do to make yourself happy is by making someone else happy.   When listening to others sometimes it puts our situation in perspective.  It gives meaning or purpose to experiences I would usually qualify as negative.
  • Activities I can do on my own such as: reading, blogging, scrapbooking, watching TV or movies. These are things that work for me and fit into the DBT category of effectiveness.   
    • Why it works: I don’t need to rely on other people to do them.   I usually have all the things available to me (books, iPod, TV, DVDs, computer, scrapbook supplies, photos.)  I use this a lot because if I am particularly sensitive or vulnerable, I don’t need to worry about rejection which can make the emotions even more intense.  Also if I’m on the angry and frustrated side I usually don’t want to do anything for anyone or be around anyone, which are my other two things that work.

What have you found "works" and "doesn't work" as far as being effective when you are bored?

Thank you,
Marci

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You may also enjoy these articles:

Boredom and the Borderline (BPD & Self-Harm) 
Why Do We Feel Empty? Emptiness and Borderline Personality Disorder
 

Interested in online DBT classes?  Visit DBT Path to learn more.

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