This is something I feel pretty much on a daily basis. Trapped.
It’s a horrible feeling, especially since every time I try to reach out and grasp onto something meant to help pull me out, I seem to get trapped all over again and have to struggle to find my way back out again.
It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. And it’s often unexplainable & unrelatable to a lot of people in my life that I wish understood it better.
A few weeks ago I had a bit of a rough day (to say the least) and I cried to my boyfriend about how I felt so trapped in my head, and I was so exhausted all the time of having to be aware, or trying to remember what skills to use to help me in what situations. I tried to explain to him that even just small things that most people do without thinking about them take a lot of concentration & effort, especially I’m feeling unstable. Simple things like making a meal can sometimes go wrong so quickly, and he has a hard time grasping what is going on in my head & why it’s so hard for me.
It’s not his fault, of course. He tries his best, and he’s oh so patient with me. And I’m honestly glad that he doesn’t really understand, because it means that he hasn’t had to deal with this sort of frustration and pain on the level that I am.
I decided to get this book a while ago because I’d been noticing that my anger was suddenly out of control. I went from being this person who rarely felt anger (or so I thought) to being someone who felt angry all the time, and it made me really uncomfortable. I knew something had to be done, so I bought the book and also started seeing a counselor who helped me with my anger. Here are some of the notes I took on it!
When I first really started to notice my anger, it took me by surprise. In the past anytime I had been even remotely angry I would have a good cry over it and not actually feel that angry at all. I often felt ashamed, stupid, weak or powerless, ridiculed, betrayed…but I didn’t really felt like I was actually angry. I just thought I was a person who didn’t ever really get angry.
I talk about a few things in this post that might upset or trigger someone. Please be warned that this post is about a little ‘fight’ with my boyfriend and I do talk about some negative thought processes.
Sometimes my emotions are easy to decipher, like when I’m happy or calm. They are steady and not wavering, and if they happen to change they do so slowly and not erratically. But other times it often feels like someone took a box of discarded emotions, shook it up, opened it and dumped it all onto my lap at once and I’m trying to frantically get a hold of them but I don’t know where one starts & another begins. Sometimes people don’t seem to understand how exhausting this can be, and a lot of the time they don’t even know it’s going on. Sometimes it comes on so quickly that I’m not able to get on top of it and use my skills to handle it as well as I could, and sometimes I’m already so vulnerable due to other things going on that using skills doesn’t even cross my mind.
The other day I had an eye exam, which I was mildly anxious about. The last eye exam I’d been to was a few years ago, and the optometrist wasn’t very impressed that I kept flinching or blinking during the exams. Of course I wasn’t doing it on purpose, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like anything around their eyes, even their own fingers. So having someone else close to my eyes with weird instruments always has me on edge a bit. After the appointment I felt horrible all day, I kept thinking to myself that I was so useless I couldn’t even sit still and not blink long enough to get my eyes checked. What a failure. No wonder why nobody likes me. The optometrist had every right to be rude and angry. Why am I even alive? This is all so stupid, I just want to die.
Mindfulness is definitely the DBT skill that I struggle with the most, even after a few years I can’t seem to get the hang of it. So around the end of February I figured I should spend a month paying extra attention to my mindfulness and working on it each day, no matter what. So far it’s gone pretty well, though I’m a still a bit disappointed that I’m still having troubles with it, I am glad that it is becoming more of a habit.
I came across this Mindfulness tracker on Lindsay Braman’s site and fell in love with it, and thought it would be a good way to add some extra mindfulness into each day, aside from homework and exercises, etc. It’s pretty simple, and that’s what I love about it. At the end of each day I take a few minutes to relax and think about things I saw, heard, felt, tasted & smelled during the span of my day. The first week or so was a bit tough, and I had a hard time remembering what I’d experienced during the day. But after the first week it was a lot easier and quicker to fill out.
I wanted to share these pages with a few people, and the easiest way to do so seems to be to make a post somewhere…so here it is! This is some pictures of most of the pages (so far) in my Mental Health BuJo! It’s not perfect, it’s not fancy…but I like it and it is helpful for me, which is the most important part. Thanks for looking, I hope everyone who has wanted to see more can get some inspiration for their own!
Just a quick note…I don’t track anything in my MHBuJo. I have no mood trackers and I don’t do any of my DBT ‘homework’ in it. It’s mostly notes and some diagrams, quotes, and anything else I come across that I think might be helpful to me in times of distress or just to life my spirits in general. That being said, even without this having much personal information it is still a very private & personal thing to me, all of the things in it are things that I know will help me, so a lot of this might not be useful to others. This is just the stuff I’ve found so far that I’ve noticed I need to be reminded of, or that I’ve found will help keep me on track during a bad day.
Almost all of the DBT skills I’ve learned have been done 100% on my own. I was lucky enough to attend a small group therapy at the local mental health center, where we went over some skills which definitely tie in with DBT, but unfortunately I have been told I am coping well and don’t need the actual DBT class, so I’ve done it all on my own. Over the last (almost) 4 years I have got quite the collection of DBT books, PDF’s, diagrams and much more. So I can learn them on my own, but the thing with DBT is that you can’t just do each exercise once and expect to be done and retain the skill for later. And some of the skills and exercises are a bit tough to do completely on your own, at least for me. Sometimes it’s really handy to have someone let you know how you could improve how you’re doing something, or suggest alternative methods that might not be in the books, etc. And it’s always nice to have someone in your life who is seeing the hard work you’re putting in and making note of your progress.
In my journey coming to terms with my BPD I haven’t had much of that outside support. Sure, my family is supportive but they don’t really understand at the same time. I can tell them I remembered to use a skill today during a tough time and how proud I am of myself, and they can pat me on the back and say I did a good job, but they don’t understand how big of a deal that can actually be sometimes. There are some skills I can do now without even thinking, but there are still a lot that fall by the wayside so when I realize I used a skill in a situation and did it quite successfully, it’s really nice to have someone other than yourself recognize the effort and how far you’ve gone to get to where you’re at.