Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org under the name Clara Bridges.


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Laughter in therapy

In relationships, therapy included, laughter can be an incredibly bonding and connecting experience…

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

laughter in therapy

Therapy is not a matter of milestones, but of moments*. Those moments can be: awkward; intense; heart-warming; painful; shocking; surprising; happy; exhausting; revelatory; uncomfortable; thought-provoking; mundane; interesting; angry; fearful; beautiful.

But there is nothing so lovely in therapy, I think, as moments of laughter. Particularly where that laughter is at an ‘in-joke’- amusing to the two of you by virtue of the intimate work you share in.

I told my therapist that I had asked one of my children how he felt about a particular situation. He told me, and then said “was that the right answer?”. I replied that there was no right or wrong answer.

As I related this story, I caught my therapist’s eye and we both burst out laughing, a split second apart. The irony hit me, as it hit her, and there was no need for either of us to explain what we found so…

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Connection

A wonderful song on the theme of relationships, for Mental Health Awareness Week. The quote I posted yesterday was about how difficult connection with others can be; this song is an uplifting reminder both of how wonderful that connecting can be, but also how simple.

I’m aware that unfortunately it can often take something very small to tip me into feeling bad about myself and for me to feel as though I am not cared for. At the same time, however, I’m aware that it can take very little to help me feel loved. Sometimes all it takes is a few words, a small but clear sign of someone reaching out to me, to light that spark of connection and warmth in my heart.

This is a real ‘feel-good’ song for me and the video is full of images of different types of connections and relationships. It’s a wonderful musical and visual world to lose yourself in for three minutes, and I hope it lifts your spirits, just as it has done mine.

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

“The song [Bonfire Heart] is about no matter who you are no matter where you’re from, it’s about the human condition which is we need to connect with people.” James Blunt

So often, the need for connection feels like an overwhelming and distressing burden to bear. For me, this song lightens the load. At the heart of BPD (and of us all) is a need to be loved. How incredibly complicated the absence or presence of that love can make our lives. For me, the joy of this song is that for just over three minutes, it makes the need for love and connection feel incredibly simple, and uplifting.

“People like us, we don’t need that much; just some one that starts – starts the spark in our bonfire hearts…..”

 

[This post is dedicated to two beautiful borderline blogger friends of mine, who have found love and connection over…

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Connection is hard

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The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is ‘Relationships’. Strong relationships are vital to good mental health; but intimacy, vulnerability and connecting with another human being can be very difficult for many with a mental health condition, and in particular, for those with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

connecting with others dexter quote

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A good day

Usually when I post links to particular songs it’s because they have some connection to an issue or situation I have been thinking about – they may speak into it in a particular way, or may act as a metaphor for it. Often it’s something to do with therapy. On this occasion, however, I don’t think that’s the case, although I challenge you (and my therapist) to come up with a subconscious way in which it does! Although there may not be a particular connection I’m aware of, there is a reason – aside from, of course, who doesn’t like a bit of Taylor Swift now and again?

The ‘reason’ is that I had a good day spent outside with the kids, and at various points during the day we were all listening and singing along to this song, including the smallest member of the family (who had requested it in the first place). I think that being outside helps all of us stay a little calmer and a little happier. We all work better together, and enjoy each other’s company (on the whole!). There’s a greater sense of space and peace, and it’s even possible for me to stay in the moment for some of the time, which I normally find very difficult.

And then in the evening, perhaps aided by half a glass of wine (it doesn’t take much), I discovered the benefit of cooking my husband potatoes. Actually, it was the benefit of having listened to the fact that yesterday he’d mentioned that it would be nice to have potatoes with dinner, and I took notice and made them for him, which he appreciated. From which followed a semi-light-hearted but very important discussion about various aspects of my mental health difficulties and the difficulties in our marriage. I normally find it very difficult to talk to him about these things, because I feel so vulnerable and anxious about not being heard and understood.

Tonight our discussion ranged over a number of topics. We talked about my withdrawal and silences following our arguments which he interprets as me being angry, but which I explained are due to the rapid spiral of depression and suicidal thinking I go into. I don’t have time to feel angry – I’m too busy believing that I shouldn’t be alive any more.

We talked about how I think it will work better for us if he explains why he would like something done in terms of how it affects him and what it means to him; rather than in a way that makes me feel as though I am being told what to do or being treated like a child. He pointed out that he’s tried that approach and it often hasn’t worked. I tried to explain that sometimes other triggers get in the way and complicate the situation, and my response may be due to that other trigger, rather than the original request. And I said that despite the not-even-90% or not-even-50% success rate of what I was suggesting, it’s worth him persevering because I will try harder to remember that this way is ultimately better for me (and for him), and so that I don’t inadvertently invite the ‘more negative’ approach. As he said – oh what an elegant example – at the moment it’s often a case of trying to train the puppy not to wee on the sofa by shouting at him when he goes for a wee on the sofa and shouting at him when he goes for a wee outside. I almost got offended until I realised the puppy was him. Neither of us would shout at a puppy – but often what we do to each other, verbally, is far far worse. But the point was well made – if I am trying to encourage him to behave in a particular way, there has to be evidence – at least some of the time – that it works, and is better than the alternatives.

I also pointed out that I’d been trying over the last few weeks to ensure I have at least one evening a week to spend with him, but that it hadn’t always worked because so often we get into an argument triggered by a ‘minor’ incident at the start of the evening, and then I’m unable to get past that because I’m already in my downwards spiral. Apparently he hadn’t noticed I’d been trying to make time for us – and of course I hadn’t said.

Taylor Swift would be proud – not exactly a love story, but a small success story, at least for today. Why did it happen, what made it easier? The wine, the time outside, the calmer moments with the children? Or perhaps my last therapy session when I came away feeling valued and secure? Oh go on then, say it – I know I mentioned a few weeks ago that love songs remind me of my therapist, though it’s normally the dark and twisty ones, and not the ones with white dresses and prancing around in fields. Is that greater security responsible not just for the change in song but for my greater willingness to take a risk and be more open? Who knows – one can make anything about therapy, if one tries hard enough, and after all this time, I don’t even have to try very hard any more 😉