I’ve heard a theory that, since many of us with BPD came from unstable, often erratic backgrounds, our nervous systems are more sensitive, especially around emotions. We have grown so accustomed to being on guard and needing to survive in scary and sometimes life-threatening situations, that the ordinary calm that most people experience on a daily basis can feel very foreign or unfamiliar to us. It can feel uncomfortable, and at times, intolerable.
Possible Triggers Follow…
Some people with BPD self-harm when they feel this way. The most common ways are cutting and burning, though there are so many behaviors that could be classified as self-harm. I choose to speak on these because I mentioned that when people with BPD feel bored, they sometimes feel very desperate to feel anything. This includes creating physical sensations and pain in the body, and it works. The dangerous thing is that the person could unintentionally hurt herself with an infection…or worse. People self-harm because they get something out of it – it meets their need in a given moment when they are feeling very emotional. One of the goals of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is to help us learn new, effective skills – think of it as an emotional tool box that we get to fill with all new ways of responding when we feel extremely emotional, bored, or desperate — ways that don’t hurt us or cause us to throw our whole life down the drain over a transient, passing emotion.
Sometimes I get so bored that it seems like it would take way more energy to practice my skills than to wallow in the torturous feelings I experience. In those times, I become numb and sedentary, which often leads to feelings of depression and anger.
I’m finding that the best thing to do is to get busy – especially with something that will allow me to feel like I’ve accomplished something. It doesn’t have to be anything big, either – I can just go and clean the bathroom or vacuum the rug. At least I’ll be using my time in a way that gets something done. And, truth be told, I usually feel better after I complete the task, and one thought leads to another as far as other things I can do to stay out of trouble, if you will.
Some DBT skills that I have found helpful in coping with boredom are:
- Mindfulness: Sitting with the emotion and not trying to fight it. I’d really like to be able to tolerate peaceful, low-key times — even if they are sometimes boring.
- Build Mastery:Work on tasks that allow me to accomplish something
- Improve the Moment:Put on music, light a candle, pet my cats