Despite the last few weeks of incredible chaos and stress, I am managing to maintain a stability with my mental health. This has meant challenging the symptoms that persist of Borderline Personality Disorder and then pushing myself to think differently.
THOUGHTS I have been having some very dark and disturbing thoughts lately. In the past, I would have passed judgement on these thoughts and spun wildly out of control with guilt, shame and anger. I’m still having the thoughts, but when they pop into my head, I notice them and let them leave as easily as they came. By not judging them, I don’t give them any power over me anymore. To achieve this, I used a skill I learned in DBT. I imagine the thought on a raft, floating down a slow moving lazy river and there’s a bend in the river…..and as it floats by me I say “Hello thought….what are you doing here?” I try to determine if the thought has something important to tell me and if so, then I react. But if it’s just a thought passing through, I let it slip around the bend until I can no longer see it. This is visual imagery that I learned in therapy and it did require ALOT of practice before I started to get the hang of it. So I still get thoughts and some have something useful to tell me and some are just wandering on through. But I don’t have to feel something bad or shameful just because of a thought.
BEHAVIORS When I am in a crisis mode, I tend to practice unhealthy coping methods. I smoke more, I forget about eating, I ruminate and sleep a lot. I’m trying to challenge myself into choosing healthier things for myself when I’m looking for coping skills. I am trying to practice good self care during this time which includes showering every day, eating better, and reaching out for help. I do often want to slip into my familiar behaviors and to challenge this I used a skill I learned in DBT called “Opposite Action”. I try to think first when I’m reacting to stress first to notice that I’m having a reaction. For example, after a tense and heated discussion with my teenager, my old and comfy reaction would be to stay up, chain smoke and run the fight over and over in my mind – evoking a wild storm of emotions – instead I made myself go to bed (where I don’t smoke), took my prescribed sleep aids and used mindfulness breathing techniques to relax the body and mind….and promptly fell asleep. The next morning I was able to think about the fight I had had with my teen and look at the situation in a calm and reasonable manner. I have to do this every single time during chaotic times and this takes a lot of energy and practice. I’m trying to rewire a brain and that’s hard work!
Although I can’t change the fact or the reality that I live with BPD, I can choose how I want to live. I’m going to keep challenging my thoughts and behaviors and make sure that I practice good self care while doing so. I intend to show myself the love and compassion that I myself would show someone else who was struggling with a chronic condition.
Not everybody has the same challenges in life. But I believe that we can always keep pushing ourselves to live the best life possible.