Monthly Archives: March 2014

Really?

I have been doing a lot of thinking about PD’s, the effects of PD’s and what it actually feels like to have a ( seemingly) limitless emotional spectrum.

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My psych told me in our original chat that for someone like me, a break up, or other traumatic event, is more significant because, unlike most people, the emotional pain truly is unbearable; akin to life or death – and I have to agree. But, nobody seems to be able to tell me why.

I know that there are well researched and documented theories about failed/faulty primary (parental) bonding and the consequences of that, but, after reading through much of this, I am still no better informed as to ‘why’ I cannot deal with extreme emotions and/or ‘why’ I have them in the first place.

To be honest, I am not sure that there is an explanation that accounts for the fact that I cannot see the world as whole place within which I should find purpose and meaning. Nor can explanations account for why I would rather end it all than face living with the emptiness I feel or the pain that comes from losing somebody I love.

Everybody goes through loss. Most people feel acute pain with that loss. But not ‘everyone’ feels it to the extent that some of us do – and I want to know why.

I have been re-reading some literature by Slavok Zizek – a cultural theorist with a psychoanalytical bent. Zizek comes via way of Freud and Lacan and has much to say about psychoanalysis and the contemporary, often popular landscape that we inhabit.

I don’t really want to get into the background of this stuff too much; it’s not necessary or relevant to my little diatribe here. But, I think that Zizek (and therefore Lacan) is onto something with his delimitations and descriptions of the human psyche, and this is where he comes both useful and interesting.

Lacan (20th Century psychoanalyst/theorist who came after Freud and re-worked some of Freud’s ideas) suggested that our psychological landscape is made up of 3 divisions: The Imaginary, The Symbolic and The Real.

I’m going to keep discussion/s of what these are (or are not) to a minimum because the purpose of this post is not to discuss these, but to highlight some of the idea/s about them that pertains to PD’s. And, in particular, BPD. So, I will be very brief with my descriptions and then, I will tell you all how I think some of the ideas raised seem to me to have relevance for BPD.  My definitions below are lacking (bit of a psychoanalytical joke there … geddit?) but hopefully will give a reference point to anybody who is unfamiliar with the terms.

Lacan’s divisions of the psyche:

The Imaginary:

When a child realises that it is separate to its mother (previous to this, the child knows the world only through its own self/perception – there is no recognition that there is an external world), there is a sense of fragmentation – the child must re-orientate its sense of self to accommodate being both itself and part of a larger world, This is a traumatic experience and one that is never fully resolved.

The Symbolic:

The world of language. When we ‘enter’ the world of words and signs, we do not ‘simply’ learn to communicate with neutral signs that adequately convey what we think/mean. Language is a shared system that was created, it is not natural.

Entering the symbolic teaches us how to relate to each other, how our social and cultural world functions, how it describes itself and how we are expected to know, understand and describe it as well.

However, language is system for communication, it is the process whereby we enter into community.  It does not and cannot come from within (express our thoughts/ideas) fully because it is a system that comes from outside ourselves.

Further, language does not neutrally ‘describe’ our internal experiences, thoughts or feelings, it helps create them because we take abstract ‘sensations’ and turn them into language that can be used to communicate with others – language actually ‘creates’ us, and our experience of the world because we are bound within a finite set of signs (words, phrases) within which to express or know it. Language creates the rules, social order and  understanding of what ‘the world’ is – and once we enter the symbolic, we cannot un-enter, we are enmeshed within.

The Real:

The Real is where we were before language, it is the state whereby we know nothing but need – when we are babies (before we enter the Imaginary or the Symbolic). The Real is both pleasure and pain based in need – the child yearns for the mother’s breast to quell the need for hunger, it does so without thought to what its needs ‘mean’ or what the mother’s own needs may be, the baby is complete in its desire, without thought or regard for others (it has not learned to consider itself as part of a wider community or others with need, but rather its entire existence is based only around the sensation of the self).

Most importantly (for me), The Real is pre-language – The Real is known/experienced without the filter of language to construct it, The Real is where things that defy language reside – and these are traumatic or pleasurable in the extreme.

For example, natural disasters, high school shootings, 9/11. When these occur, we can see that there is no language to adequately describe or convey what we experience or feel upon hearing about or witnessing these events – they demonstrate cracks in the symbolic order – a trauma that we cannot describe – and we are reminded of The Real, reminded that language (and therefore our entire existence, and how we make sense of ‘the world’) is not ‘true’, but rather a system overlays The Real.

OK.

What has all this to do with BPD/PD’s?

Well, traditionally/ideally/whatever, an infant is ushered from The Real into the Symbolic (although there remains the problematic Imaginary by a primary and ever-present caregiver who is able to allow the infant to experience the shift/trauma in a relatively safe and consistent environment. The infant adapts to the loss of self (The Real) and adapts to the dominant, symbolic order of society.

 

For those of us with primary caregivers who were abusive, absent or neglectful … well, this doesn’t happen, or, it happens in a dysfunctional way. We are never fully enculturated into the Symbolic order and hence, never truly leave the Real and/or are trapped more fundamentally in the Imaginary.

I think that those who have a PD don’t fully come through from The Real, through The Imaginary and into The Symbolic effectively – we are moored in The Real, and The Symbolic is never fully integrated or accepted. Over time, what others come to accept as ‘real’ or ‘true’ about ‘the world’ remains outside of our grasp. We can see, process and understand the socio-cultural norms – we can understand law, community, sexuality, but we were not completely immersed into them by a primary caregiver and so, they remain foreign, confusing and often absurd, left as outsiders looking in.

We ‘know’ the rules, legislations and expectations of our respective cultures, but we see them at a meta level – we see the structure and artifice that underpins them precisely because we have been left behind – we are like infants.

Being moored in the Real or the Imaginary keeps us forever on the axis of pleasure/pain – we only feel alive, real and whole when we are experiencing extreme emotions – to be anything else, to live in the Symbolic is tantamount to a death sentence because it feels fake, constructed an unreal in the very literal sense of that term.

I think this is why people with PD’s are so sexual – because sex is one of the few playing fields within which language is not the primary mode of communication. It is also a space/place where intense emotive responses are not only acceptable, but celebrated. It is home.

I also think that suicidal ideation is linked in here. The Real is about the absolute of pleasure/pain. We seek pleasure (sex) knowing it will bring pain, and we seek pain (cutting, slicing) knowing it will bring pleasure. The two are intertwined in some fundamental, albeit disturbing ways.

For me, sex allows the merging/enmeshment that I crave, for someone like my ex, it allows for pleasure and the expression of intensity without the necessity of relational tropes. We have different pathologies/PD’s, but our weapon of choice was/is sex. And this makes perfect sense really.

It also explains why I lack an adequate vocabulary about my ‘feelings’. If I am extremely upset, angry or otherwise emotionally engaged in a situation, I am all-but mute. I know that I feel ‘bad’ or ‘mad’ or ‘upset’ but quite often, I cannot find the words to express WHY I am feeling that way or what has caused it. So many lovers have expressed frustration at my inability to describe WHAT is wrong with me … because I cannot describe adequately what I am feeling, all I know is that I am feeling it.

Doesn’t this mirror the Real? A time where (as infants) we didn’t ‘know’ we were hungry or tired, we just knew that we felt ‘bad’. We hadn’t as-yet ‘learned’ what hungry or tired meant, we just knew it made us feel bad.

For me, I think of death as unemotively as I do life. Words such as personality disorder, depression, suicide … these are products of the Symbolic – I struggle with them because they have negative connotations – but perhaps the possibility that they are more neutral can be explained here.

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The Good, the Bad, & the (pretty damn ) Ugly

My suicidal crisis seems to have dissipated. 

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(thank you to everyone who posted in response, it helped a lot to just hear from other people who are going through or have been through the same thing/s)

I am actually doing OK given how touch and go things were on Monday and Tuesday for me.

The good news is that I have actually done some shopping online – seems like a little thing, but I am now couched to wait until my things arrive – this (of course) means that I am thinking into the future, even if it is just 5-7 days (depending upon delivery times 🙂 ).

I also got a call about my DBT and psychotherapy and was told that it should be starting soon. It can’t really be soon enough although, I remain somewhat skeptical about the whole thing. The psych I had a session with a few weeks back told me that there is a ‘70%’ success rate with DBT. Now, far be it from me to collapse the stats that measure ‘success’ with continued government funding but … I’m just saying.

The bad news is that my drinking is still out-of-control. I don’t drink every day (this is more financial that anything else) but, when I do drink, I am knocking back a large bottle of vodka in a night. Last night i fell asleep early after a few shots but woke about 4am and started downing coffee and vodka shots – not a great mix and one that saw me throwing up in the front yard at around 7am. I don’t think I can get through all of this without some sort of substance support and given how difficult it can be to obtain benzos in Australia, I am inclined to accept that Absolut and I have a ways to go before we break up.

The Ugly? Well, not much has changed. I am still thinking far too much about my ex. Still wondering if I have what it takes to pull out of this (it’s been months, I am losing hope) and still cry at least a little every day. I am trying not to lose all perspective again and place the blame/shame where it belongs but I am not being too successful with this. I entertain revenge fantasies for the first time in my life .. I feel outraged that he gets to walk away, ashamed that he could and destroyed because he wanted to.

I don’t think I am ever going to truly get over what he did – some experiences change us at a cellular level; we are not the same person we were before that experience.

 

I am trying to accept this at face value and not be angry and rageful due to it.

 


Death and the Maiden

I am completely empty.

I have been trying to find something in my life that generates even a little bit of excitement or pleasure, but I am failing dismally. I have a complete and utter lack of desire; I want nothing. I can’t understand how all the people I see are able to keep going with their lives, and I envy them.

For me, there is just ‘the nothing’ … each day and night are just the same as the previous and I don’t see that changing. I have tried thinking about projects to fill in the void … start a great new diet, join a gym, finish of my graduate degree, write a book … and for about 2 minutes I convince myself that I can FORCE meaning into my world, but then it drops away again … you can’t force meaning, you have to find it right?

How do I keep convincing myself not to take that step which will make it all stop when I am a walking abyss?

I am not sure that I can.


I wanna be like Tony Soprano

How lovely would it be to have the luxury of making a call and having someone whacked?

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I am currently re-watching ‘The sopranos’ for the umpteeenth time and although I am still half in love with Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti, I watched this season through a different lens: that of retribution.

Dr Melfi (Tony’s psych) advises Tony that his mother, Olivia, is probably BPD but, I must say that Livia kinda gives BPD a bad rap. An awful, awful woman if ever there was one.

Weird thing is my grandmother was Olivia to a ‘T’ (pardon the pun) … also, an awful, awful woman… perhaps my grandmother, and Tony’s mother, were indeed BPD or NPD … who knows.

Point is, where other kids looked to their grannies for free candy and unconditional love, I, like Tony, saw only judgement and contempt .. and , again like Tony, have begun to wonder if I just come from compromised DNA.

Maybe what I have is inevitable … a broken grandmother, a father who drank himself to death … maybe there is such a thing as fate … maybe I am living proof of that.

Either way, I still wish I could pick up the phone and order a hit … that at least would soften the blow ….


Dreaming

sheldon

 

I have been having some seriously disturbing dreams of late. 

I wake up in the morning/s with a sense of utter dread and I try and remember what the hell I dreamt about and all I can access are a few fleeting visuals – micro-seconds of violence. My subconscious is coming out to play in full force and it is setting me up for days filled with latent angst.

Which, I guess, blends nicely with the angst already in play.


Anchors

The thing/s that keep us (those with suicidal ideation) ‘here’, and alive, are usually referred to by MH professionals as anchors. 

These are things that we feel responsibility for or, that we enjoy (HA!), or that we don’t want to put through the emotional aftermath of having a loved one kill themselves.

The more ‘anchors’ you have, the less likely you are to actually try and kill yourself …

This seems a reasonable theory to me, and I can certainly attest to the fact that there are things that stop me from going ahead at the moment.

What I am trying to do is to go beyond the idea of individuated anchors and to form a chain whereby these anchors are all linked up in some way … this seems to give the anchors more weight (if you will) and a chain is harder to break without causal fallout: it is more secure.

For instance, I am responsible for my dog. If I die, she will be devastated and I am not sure she could be properly re-homed as she is a quirky little thing who is accustomed to having things a particular way.

In order to keep my dog happy and fed, I have to work so that we have somewhere to live and she has food.

I also need to work so that I can help out my son when he needs me to … losing me would be devastating to both of my kids – I know that ..

So, I have to work the next 4 days. If I don’t go to work, I will lose my job, if I lose my job, I will lose the room where I live and my dog and I will be without food/shelter.

If I try to kill myself and fail, these things will also happen.

So, I tell myself that I need to go to work, at least for the next 4 days, in order to keep that wheel spinning in the short-term. And I also tell myself that I can wait 4 days to decide what I am going to do.

It’s not much.

But, it’s not nothing.


My name is …

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Apparently everybody has a false ‘self’ that they present to the world. 

I think this is exaggerated for those of us with PD’s … we present a contradiction; a self that seem at ease, ironic and even charming.

Unlike the psychopath who does this for personal gain, pwBPD do this to survive … and it is exhausting.

I long for the person who sees beneath my veneer – the person who listens to me, and my words and calls ‘bullshit’ on it all.

I thought I had found him in my ex, but it turns out that he was so ensconced in his own BS that recognising how I felt was  simply too much to ask …

Can I really go through life pretending without anybody realising that this is the case?

Is anybody listening to anybody else EVER?

This is really fucking with me today, as I sit in mt batcave and pray for salvation …. I thought my ex heard and saw me .. but he only saw himself … that mirror, the one that allows, or encourages him to  live only for himself .. I want one to. I want a mirror that reflects only me.

The biggest myth of BPD is that we don’t care .. we care all-too-well … I have painted my body in scars to prove I care. I simply doubt that anybody is listening. And I don’t know how to make myself heard, or, if I have any right to.

I love, therefore I am.

I leave, therefore you threw me away.

I don’t know what comes  next …

I don’t understand how to be indifferent.

Can you teach me?

Can you un-do what you did?

Can the very essence of me be un-done?

Is the reason you and I met simply that I was mean to understand that nobody, ever will help make me whole?

Are you real or, or did I create who you were – all evidence to the contrary?

Where did I go when you left me sobbing?

Did you kill me or, do I remain, trapped in a body that cannot possibly contain all that I feel?

You never really told me what I did, or said, to change your mind.

So, I love you more than I love me.

Is that wrong? Is that the difference between me and everyone else?