Thursday, February 21, 2008

The incident

I made tearful, hysterical phone call to V on Friday. Afterwards, I felt better for having expressed my rage, fear and frustration, but felt terrible about placing myself in such a vulnerable position as well as for being so out of control.

I spend so much of my life behind a facade of stoicism. Trying hard not to express any emotion on the outside, because deep inside, I still feel the fear of having that emotion criticised. I grew up in an environment where any outburst of emotion, or even display of emotion was seen as wrong, or weak. I learnt very quickly not to appear too happy, because I knew my mom would tear me down soon enough. If she wasn't happy, she would made damn sure I couldn't be happy either. I tried not to appear sad because I would be told to snap out of it, or that there was nothing to be sad about.

All these things unfortunately lay the foundation of my borderline personality disorder. I know that now. I know I have trouble regulating my emotions. I know I hide my emotions, or ignore them, until they become all consuming, and then I explode in an act of self destruction. I know I use self harm as a way to regulate my difficult emotions, and I know this is not something I want to do for the rest of my life and so I am in therapy, learning new skills to better deal with these.

Several things emerged in therapy yesterday as we discussed the Friday incident. I've been beating myself up over it because I hated the way I sounded on the phone, I hated the way I was so totally out of control. I should have at least apologised to V, but didn't. I was wading too deep in shame.

But there were valid reasons for the escalation of my emotions - I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained from battling a deep depression. I wasn't sleeping well, I wasn't eating well. I was driving myself to exhaustion with negative intrusive thoughts and voices.

There were surrounding fears - about my inability to function at work, the fear of that situation going on endlessly until I would be fired from my job (what V called "catastrophising").

There was the fear of being all alone as a consequence of my perception that V didn't truly understand what was going on with me (who would understand me if V didn't?).

I felt better after the session yesterday. It cleared the air somewhat, and my level of shame probably decreased. V confirmed that she wasn't mad at me, that she didn't have a lower perception of me due to my behaviour on Friday. I think what it reinforced in her mind was that I needed to learn how to regulate my emotions on my own, even though she currently has and can help me do it. And one more thing she said which comforted me was that she said she was glad I had called her on Friday because things had gone out of control and if she hadn't helped me deescalate it, it's highly possible I could have done something self destructive.

Therapy is such hard work. You put yourself out there and it can be such a huge risk with so many uncertain consequences and impact. Exposing your raw emotions like that puts you in a position of vulnerability. The person you trust your soul with could so easily exploit you. But I do trust V. She's been consistent. She's been consistently validating. She's acknowledged possibilities when she could have been wrong. She's applied the right formula with me, and it appears to be working.

I've learnt a lot from her. As for Friday's incident, well... it's not something I'm proud of, but it has given me an opportunity to learn even more about myself and hopefully be better able to deal with situations like that in the future.


nadcesca said...

PB... you express yourself so lovely... you should be proud of want you are able to see and willing to work on... that is a huge step you are taking. I'm beside you on this journey... don't forget you are not alone... reach out if you need support ok. take care... you are always in my thoughts...

butterflies said...

Well Im glad that you felt she was listening to you...thats what you needed.
One step at a time..there will be an end to your pain.
Always thinking of you.

James said...

I'm so glad that V has helped you.

I understand the catastrophising tendency. I get myself so twisted around that I get myself into this delusion that I am destined to end up living on the streets.

It is so good that you have such a good, patient, accepting therapist in V. I'd be in so much trouble without my therapist, D.

You're doing so well and I think that blowing off steam and built up emotion to your therapist is probably the healthiest way to do that.

Untreatable said...

After spending time reading through a high number of your posts I can identify with the battle that you have at hand. It takes a lot of courage to change their life and even more so to share it with others. Sometimes it doesn't matter how we fight what matters is that we are fighting. Great blog

The Hopeful Borderline. said...

Don't worry about venting at your therapist. I've said some really nasty things to mine. We all do it from time to time and the important thing is you reached out to someone who could help you. It doesn't matter how it happens the important thing is that you were brave enough to get the help you needed.

Suzanne said...

When I read about you hiding all your emotions during your childhood I realised I could've written that myself.

The fact that you now recognise that it was wrong - and that you're now screaming out to SHARE your emotions (which you're allowing yourself to feel) with someone special shows how far you are coming in recovery. :-) Even though it may at times feel as though you're getting nowhere.

Look how far you've come in the last year... you're realising all this stuff, you've been to Queensland, you've been travelling on your own, V went for a month and you survived it ALL! :-)

Zathyn Priest said...

Don't feel bad in any way about calling V and expressing all your emotions to her. You did a great thing by taking that option rather than a self-destructive one. It took me over 7 years to trust my psychiatrist even though he'd never done anything for me to mistrust him. You have a trusting relationship with V, you needed her and she was there for you. Picking up the phone is much better than picking up something to injure yourself with - I'm a self-injurer myself and I know how hard it is to curb the behaviour and find an alternative.

I think you did good! :)

Aqua said...

Hi Polar Bear,
I am glad you were able to contact V and talk about your difficulties. I am also pleased she saw it as a way for you to deescalate your feelings and protect yourself. She sounds a lot like my pdoc; a really empathetic and caring therapist. I am happy to hear you are able to see someone who cares so much about your well-being.
Take care,