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Understanding Self Harm; What Is It?

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Self-harm is the act of self-mutilation, where an individual purposefully harms themselves in hopes to alleviate stress, emotional pain, trauma, depressive feelings or find control. A large number of self-harmers are approaching or are in adolescence; using these methods to cope with new emotions, mental illnesses and overwhelming situations, though many are adults or progress into adulthood with these maladaptive coping skills. Some self-harm for short periods of time or in crisis, whilst others may become fully addicted or may not know that they are self-harming because the method isn’t widely known.

Self-mutilation is not a suicide attempt; it is a maladaptive coping strategy to find control in out-of-control situations and can be replaced by healthy ones. The individual self-harming is struggling and needs professional help. They may use a combination of self-harming methods.


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Cutting. Cutting is the most well-known self-harming coping mechanism and has been widespread on the internet over the last few years. It is the most heard of the bunch.

Most adolescents turn to cutting to cope with dysfunctional families, bullying, trauma, schooling and overwhelming feelings, though adults do also partake in this method. The act of cutting releases endorphins to the brain to deal with the emotional and physical pain, giving the cutter a high. It’s an exciting rush, followed by a sense of relief from what’s bothering them.

Cutting is often assumed as suicidal behaviour when, in actuality, it’s a very common way people cope with issues. The blood and mutilation factor frightens caregivers who feel they may have to bring their child to the hospital for an attempt, which is not a necessity.

It is important that, if the cutter chooses to continue, they use clean materials and clean their wounds to avoid infection and STD transmittal (as it can be deadly). They must monitor themselves; if they cut too deep, they need to request medical attention, as an excessive loss of blood can kill them.

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Burning. Burning is frequently used in combination with cutting. The individual takes a hot object and holds it to their skin until it cools down and a wound is formed. Some may use hot baths or tap water instead, which may not leave a mark, but is as serious. These burn wounds may bubble up and “pop”, oozing a liquid; it is important for the person self-harming to monitor this wound and ensure bacteria doesn’t contaminate.

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Scratching/Pinching. Someone may choose to scratch at their skin until blood surfaces for a quick sense of relief. This could be an occasional thing, develop into dermatillomania or be dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania (Excoriation Disorder or Skin Picking Disorder) is when the individual has an incessant need to scratch and pick at “imperfections” resulting in worsened bumps, wounds, acne or infection. This disorder can be combated through therapy and extreme efforts, but is not always noticed by the one doing it.

There is a difference between choosing to do it, and having a disorder. Someone with dermatillomania will scratch or pick during anxious or tense situations, but may not notice, while someone who is picking occasionally is constantly doing it on purpose. It must be monitored as the occasional behaviour can evolve into a disorder as they grow unaware of their actions, and lean on picking to cope. It becomes second nature.

Wound Interference. This ties in with dermatillomania and skin picking. The individual repeatedly picks at scabs which result in either blood or scars.

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Hair Pulling. Hair pulling is because of a disorder called trichotillomania; a compulsive desire to pull out ones hair. The puller may notice bald patches from continuous pulling, self-esteem issues, and hair follicle changes (hairs growing in curly, thin or odd colours). Constantly pulling out one’s hair can increase anxiety, and affect their confidence, usually accompanied by depression. They may find flaws in specific hairs and feel that they do not belong, resulting in pulling it out.

Trich falls under the same umbrella as dermatillomania, (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour/BFRB) and is not always intentional. With over exposure to pulling, they become dependent on it and may not notice themselves acting out, and can be so severe that they pull in their sleep.

Photo: © Europen Parliament/P.Naj-Oleari
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Drugs/Alcohol. Substance abuse starts off as using drugs and alcohol to cope. Someone may reach for a bottle when they are upset to “lose themselves”. With repetitive use, they will become heavily addicted and full-fledged alcoholics or drug addicts.

Their body will be tolerant of the substance and require higher doses for the same effect, develop a psychological and physical dependency where they may not be able to function without it as their body and mind experience withdrawal, and addiction. Addiction is the compulsive need for the substance and effort required to avoid or reduce usage.

Depending on the substance, risks include:

  • STDs from needles and injectors
  • Irregular heart rate or heart failure
  • Infertility
  • Lung damage
  • Memory loss
  • Periods of psychosis and disconnection from self
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, sweating and shaking
  • Violence
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

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Hitting. Hitting involves violence towards oneself, where the individual hits and punches themselves for relief. This can result in bruises and painful areas.

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Disordered Eating Behaviours. Disordered eating is a common gateway to eating disorders. They feel they have lost control when it comes to food or their body, finding flaws in their figure or eating patterns. There are heavy influences in media and they could turn to Pro Anorexia Websites for tips on weight loss. Disordered eating can be controlled and restrictive (anorexia), strictly healthy foods only (othorexia), use of laxatives and vomiting after binging (bulimia), over eating (binge eating) and other, personalized methods.

This behaviour must be heavily monitored as a traumatic change in diet can remove years off their life, become extreme with no way back or fatal. They must seek out medical attention and learn not to use food to cope. The recovery process is not short and may take years; it’s best to catch and treat it early.


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“Suicide Attempts” (Testing the Grounds). These types of suicidal behaviours are parasuicidal, meaning it is suicidal in its nature, but suicide wasn’t the intent. This is very common with individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as they experience chronic suicidal feelings and use this to cope. They do not wish to die, but to control an out-of-control situation. Facing death but not dying can be satisfying to some.


Remember: Self-harm is used to gain control in out-of-control situations. It isn’t use to get back at or punish anybody.

Self-mutilation should be avoided, discouraged and discussed in therapy. Overcoming self-harm will take time, but can be done when trauma, pain and other factors are discussed, and healthier coping mechanisms are implemented. When an urge arises, they should consider journaling, going for a walk, drawing, calling a friend, etc. Constant denial to these urges will improve their quality of life, as they ween off of their need.

Relapse is inevitable, but self-mutilation can be conquered.

If you are a worried guardian or friend, do not demean them. It may not seem logical to you, but it is necessary you open the conversation, lend an ear once in a while, and tell them that it is acceptable to talk about self-harm. If you use it against them, they will lean on the behaviour more, and could hurt themselves further. Don’t overreact, don’t under react. Finding a balance can be complicated, but worth it. They are dealing with a serious problem and need your support.

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How to Explain Your Borderline

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Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness that will never be easy to explain. It’s got curves and edges that aren’t easily described, nor simply comprehensed. We often hear of the people who think mental illness is a joke, that those diagnosed with one are lazy, etc, and sometimes, we refuse to discuss it because of that fear of stigma. Being judged for having a mental illness is never a walk in the park, it can be very complicated. When it comes to explaining BPD, multiply that difficulty by a thousand and give the situation acid.

BPD is a complex disorder, and no two individuals diagnosed are the same. We may share similar behaviours and thoughts, but we will never be identical. That’s why it isn’t fair to base our condition on someone else, or in this case, have them base our disorder one someone else.

If they’ve never heard or been exposed to Borderline, it clears up that hurdle, but you may run into people who believe the stigma. But, with the right words and explanation, even they can grow to understand and appreciate the hardships of BPD individuals, mainly yourself.


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How do you tell someone new?

You want to start the discussion with a warning. Assuming that this person is now vital in your everyday life, you want to assure that what you are about to tell them is very complicated, but that you care about them, and want them on board. The other party must be in a relatively positive mood.

If they are not ready or in the right mood (angry, upset, etc), DO NOT START THE CONVERSATION.

I have a disorder. When you are sure they are well, be straight forward and honest. State that you have a disorder and that it is a mental illness. State approximately when you found out, and how you felt when you heard the news.

Borderline is… Explain the disorder and your experience living with it.

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But why am I telling you this? You are telling this individual because they are getting personally involved in your life and they matter to you. You want them to understand your conditions and be a supportive partner in your recovery and your battles.

Mood swings. There must be a reason that you are telling this individual and it must be due to their involvement in your life. It is important to state that you experience mood swings and periods of instability, and that they can be triggered by their behaviour or statements. Assure that it is not their fault, though you struggle with emotion control.

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My extra behaviours. What are your symptoms? Do you dissociate more than react? Do you threaten and manipulate instead of taking a breather. Do you self harm when you are upset? Do you have black and white thinking, or are you in a gray area? Do you struggle with suicidal thoughts? Do you have any other mental illnesses that tie in with BPD (eating disorders, bipolar, depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc)? Clarify what you would need if you fall on a maladaptive coping strategy.

The Good. Explain the benefits that this disorder may bring you. We feel emotions so deeply, thus we are passionate people. We love with all of our hearts, we chase our dreams (and continue even when we fail) and we understand global hardships because we connect easily with others’ struggles.

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I can recover. You must assure anyone you confront about this condition that you can recover. If you are not in the recovery stages, state that it is possible but you just aren’t there yet. If you are in recovery, state the things that you are doing to continuously get better (groups, therapy, every day activities, mood management, etc). Guarantee them that it will take a lot of time and an enormous amount of perseverance. If you are comfortable with stating it, and are underage, you can mention that the disorder may die out for some individuals because it was mainly brought on by puberty and adolescent emotions.

Last statements. Borderline is never an easy disorder to live with. It can be beautiful and harshly ugly. One day, we may love them to the end of the Earth, they may be disowned the next, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t love them. Our actions do not speak for us, especially during an episode. Ask that if the relationship becomes rocky, that they take the time to comprehend that you may have had an episode or are experiencing struggles, or may be reliving trauma.

Tips: 

  • Be vulnerable.
  • Provide detail, but not enough in the case that they are not understanding and become angry.
  • Only confide in them if you are sure in advance that they will not use it against you.

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Example:

 

 

I have a disorder. It’s called Borderline Personality Disorder, and it affects me every single day of my life. It is a mental illness that I got diagnosed with 4 years ago, when I was only 14. 

Borderline is… a disorder focused on behaviours and coping mechanisms, as well as uncontrollable emotions. It primarily births from abandonment during childhood, along with repeated trauma, and enforces bad coping behaviours later on. It is very hard to maintain stable relationships, and we can become frantic and over emotional. We struggle with poor self esteem and body image, and practice maladaptive coping strategies. It is very common for us to threaten suicide and practice non-fatal suicidal behaviours. 

But why am I telling you this? You need to know because I value our relationship, and I want you to be aware of my Mood swings. They are present when I experience extreme emotions and don’t know how to cope with them. I will need your support and understanding in times of need or episode.

My extra behaviours include self harm, repetitive suicidal tendencies and some black and white thinking. At times, my other disorders shine, like my anorexia and my PTSD. Though I struggle through this, it is important that I know you are there for me, that you love me, and be reminded that I can get through it.

The good of having been diagnosed is that I now understand myself a little bit better, and I know why I react in the ways that I do. I’ve learned that I’m quite passionate in art and music, and won’t let anybody get in my way.

I can recover and have been in recovery for 2 years now. It is a slow process but I attend therapy weekly, even when I don’t want to. I use rubber bands instead of razor blades when my emotions overwhelm me, and I attend a Dialectic Behavioural Therapy group twice a month.

My last statements to you are that I struggle on a daily basis, and I may be unkind, but my love and care for you is real and more profound than my mood swings. I want you apart of my recovery and support system because you matter in my life, and inspire me to get better.


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It will not be an easy topic to confront with anyone, but by discussing it and being raw with someone, it can truly open their eyes to your life and struggles. Being honest is the only way to be acknowledged and earning the support of yet another important patron in your recovery.

 

 

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The Suicide Stalker

I’ll be entirely fine, having a decent day. I’m eating, taking care of hygiene, taking my medications, enjoying the sunshine… But something changes. A bad interaction, anxiety, my trichotillomania kicks in or I just end up too depressed for anything, and then everything changes…

I don’t understand how I can go from okay to just not okay. I’ll be having a grand day, but something has to be said to destroy me. I’m just trying to get by but I can’t shake the demonic thoughts that persuade me and encourage me to destroy myself. I’ll convince myself that I am cured, recovered and okay, but the next moment, I’m contemplating suicide. I just can’t get away from my suicidal thoughts, depression and Borderline.

I’m stuck in an never ending loop. The darkness is all around me and I am drowning, and nobody is there to save me. I feel so alone and lost, and like I could die off and the world would not be concerned.

I am trying with all of my heart and soul to keep my life going but it’s debilitating, and I’m really losing sight of my life and well being. It seems that I’m well on my way to being awful again, unable to function.

My inability to function is destroying opportunities, my relationships and my life and I just don’t know how to get a hold anymore. And when that sinks in, I always contemplate suicide… I am being stalked and followed by my own suicidal desires and my unstable mindset. I am fighting with all of my will power, but I am losing myself…

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9 Things You Need to Understand About Borderline Personality Disorder

9 things you need to understand about borderline personality disorder bpd www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com sloth speed recovery

It is necessary to state that not all diagnosed BPD patients are the same. Most statements will resonate with the majority of diagnosed individuals, but not all. Every experience differs, and all of our pasts and paths are diverse. These are very common and basic statements about the disorder.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder, otherwise known as BPD, is a serious mental illness characterized by the inability to regulate emotions. Some common traits or symptoms borderline-personality-disorderinclude:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable interpersonal relationships (with idealization and devaluation)
  • Identity disturbance and low perception of self-worth
  • Impulsive behaviours (risky sex, drugs, overspending, etc)
  • Self harm and suicidal tendencies
  • Reactive and difficulty controlling emotions, especially anger
  • Emptiness
  • Paranoia and disassociation

Borderline Personality Disorder has acquired plenty of negative connotations over the years, with some mental health professionals reluctant to treat it based on the intensity of the patient’s threats, reactions and, sometimes, lack of desire to get better. Some people who have associated with individuals diagnosed with BPD may not understand and, within discussions regarding the topic, furthering the stigma.

As diagnosed BPD individuals, we are not perceived positively. People tend to avoid us because of our intense emotions and emotional episodes. As much as we may try to explain ourselves, we are often misunderstood  or not taken seriously. We may desperately try to express our distress to you, without knowing how to go about it. Some of us don’t quite understand our disorder yet and may not know that our explosive or sensitive reactions are distinguished in this disorder, thus having no capabilities to explain ourselves to you.

Explaining our behaviours by stating we have Borderline Personality Disorder is an explanation, not an excuse.


I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me

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We find it very complicated to be in a stable relationship, seeing as our life patterns demonstrate someone loving us, remaining for a while and then abandoning us. We push and shove in response to our overwhelming emotions, trying to abandon you before you are able to abandon us. We constantly fear being left by the ones we love and we find it more beneficial to our emotional stability if we do it first. We convince ourselves that the blame cannot be put on us, even though we recall our behaviour later on and blame ourselves for causing you to leave.

We cannot live with you or without you, and it is a constant battle in our minds. We try to deduct whether it’s more beneficial to have you in our lives or not. At times, we think we have our mind made up, until we realize we want the opposite minutes later.

Think of the old concept introduced to kindergartners; “boys bully you because they like you.” (Extremely sexist, but wait for it.) BPD can sometimes make us act like those little boys. We do not have the means to express our affection to you, nor do we comprehend it, thus we violently lash out. We get the most violent with the ones we love and appreciate the most. It’s awful to say, but if we are treating you like this, we probably love you very, very much. We blame you for the potency of our emotions, and being loved is out ultimate fear. In response, subconsciously, we will cuss and push you away until you leave.

 

 

Emotional Instability, Intensities and Outbursts

A main symptom of the disorder is emotional instability and mood swings. As much as we may try to control our emotions, they always seem just past arms’ length. We go from ecstatic to depressed in moments, and it can leave us utterly exhausted. We struggle with the maintenance of any particular long term emotion; contentment can last a few hours and it can be followed by exaggerated anger.

In response to the ferocious mental storm, we violently react with outbursts and painful statements. We can become physically abusive as well as emotional and mental, trying to spike you with similar pain that we feel. Our outbursts can be brief or elongated, lasting up to a few hours. The extreme emotional implications can even lead us to self harm or a suicide attempt.

 

Sensitivity and Overreacting

It is no secret that we are on the more sensitive side of the spectrum of people. A comment you make that someone else could  disregard or be caught off guard can drive us into a frenzy. Our sensitivity is heightened along with our emotions and, though what we are hurt by may seem silly to you, it is very real and traumatizing to us. There are events and situations that we will not forget because of their extreme sensitivity content and the overload we felt.

An empty comment can be spun out of context with our skewed perception of reality, assuming you’ve observed a trait in us you don’t like, or we aren’t attractive enough, etc. and even if what we heard is not what you had said or what you intended, we create our own reality to make it true.

In retort, we may lash out or bawl, taking an extreme stance, and though it may seem like overreacting, it is valid to us and comprehensible. We felt so hurt by something and our only ability to cope is to lose it in one way or another.You may perceive it as unnecessary but it is our process for coping and we require love and support. In these times, we are in need of an apology and comfort from you.

 

Boredom and Emptiness

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Borderline is often unstable, with periods of highs and lows, and some switching quickly between the two. It keeps us very busy, I’m sure you can imagine. We are so encompassed in this constant whirlwind that, when it calms down, suddenly we are hit with boredom.

Boredom often gets misinterpreted in our minds as depression or sadness, and can evidently lead to self harm and suicidal behaviours. The stillness leads our thoughts in a negative direction, and the self-deprecating notions become repeated in our minds, woven one over the other. (“You’re useless.”, “You’re lazy”, “You never stop wasting your time.”) When nothing is going on and we are chaos free, we are unsure as to what we should do with ourselves, and we can sense a great deal of emptiness and dissatisfaction. Without being kept busy with a hobby, we misinterpret the boredom and the intensity escalates until we lose control and have an episode. We want to have that time and those feelings filled with activities that work our minds and keep our thought process busy. Without occupying the thought process, we can quickly become consumed by our own self hatred and low self esteem.

 

Relationship Struggles

The inability to maintain a stable relationship is very common. These relationships can be family oriented, friendships and romantic or sexual relationships.

A thing to remember is the sensitivities and intensities felt by an individual diagnosed with BPD; any comment made gets held to heart, whether it’s kind or mean. Your opinion is held at high standard and can make or break the individual’s day/week/month/year.

Being in a relationship, we often assume we will be left, being a common pattern we have been exposed to. We assume it is a life pattern that will always follow us, and instead of riding the waves, small or large with you, we subconsciously push you away and leave you before you can leave us. In our mind, it is a way to break the pattern; “you can’t leave me if I’ve already left you”. Any stillness in the relationship is perceived as boring and can somehow be misinterpreted by you not meeting our needs or not understanding us, or even not loving us enough. We have not been exposed to much relax and thus, do not have much experience with coping with it, but we do know chaos and roller coasters. In our inability to cope, we will take you for that ride down the slope.

We desperately want to have a happy relationship but we are not always in control, and to be loved. We face episodes where our mouthes and emotions completely disconnect from our morality and usual conversations. We do not want to hurt you, but we are terrified of being loved. It’s a foreign concept in our minds. We try to keep ourselves together but we loosen at the seams and become explosive. And at times, in our angry episodes, we want you angry too, because then we aren’t alone and you, too, are taking the roller coaster ride with us.

Despite the chaos and rides we will take you on, and as silly as it may sound, we do it because we love you.

 

Skewed Perception of Reality

Though reality is altered from one person to the next, most people are still living within the facts or slight exaggeration of them. With BPD, our reality is concentrated on emotions and fears. For example, if we are scared you will abandon us, we will act as if it is current and live in that chaos. Or, let’s say we feel ugly, we may assume that our loved ones believe it and torment ourselves to not feel this way. And if our fears aren’t real enough, we create them and make them reality.

Our perception of reality is often skewed and can confuse our surroundings. Though we may not be psychotics, we may have delusions and paranoia. They may not be the commonly known heard voices as seen in schizophrenics and patients with psychosis, but they alter our sense of reality and fog the facts.

Our assumptions can go from being just that and escalate to being “reality” as we associate clues and events to our prejudged conclusion. All of our clues, though inaccurate or unrelated, soon become the full reason or description for a situation.

A misheard sentence from your mouth can make us frantic; you may claim you said one thing but we heard another, and it wasn’t a good thing. Suddenly, we believe it; we have proof and evidence that it is all true and you meant what we thought we heard.

 

Identity Crises

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We lose touch with who we are in the process of understanding our disorder, mental illness and wanting to be someone entirely different. We may label ourselves as BEING the disorder or change from one type of person to the next. We act like chameleons and study our peers to be accepted and wanted by them. We perceive fitting in as a sense of validation and self worth. Some individuals will be entirely different when they are at home, compared to work, compared to with a romantic partner. We study and dictate what we want to put on show for specific people, trying to find a way to integrate and not be left.

We discern our being as unlovable, dictated by the demonstrations in our past, and we cannot imagine anybody loving us for our true selves, not to mention the chaos that is this disorder. We will hide behind as many masks and in as many costumes so that you may not break that barrier and unleash us out of our comfort zone. We would prefer putting our best traits on display.

 

Self Harm, Suicide and Threats

A common lead to diagnosis is self harm and suicidal tendencies. Many adolescents get diagnosed before they are deemed able to be diagnosed because of this, mixed with unstable teenage emotions that worsen in stages of puberty.

Self harm is our expression of the overwhelming emotions that overtake our bodies and minds. It is our way of physically creating our pain; painting it out, if you will. Self mutilation is not just the act of cutting, it also includes:

  • Burning
  • Starvation/Bingeing/Purging (Disordered Eating behaviours)
  • Scratching
  • Suicide attempts
  • Overdoses
  • Illegal and recreational drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Trichotillomania/Dermatillomania (and other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours)
  • Etc.

Some of us do it to feel alive, others for control, on impulse, or to scare. (Whether a person is doing it to scare or for any other reason, it is still valid and still dictates a problem, just a different type of problem. In the end, it is still self mutilation, which is unleashing physical pain onto ourselves to cope with emotions.)

It is important to not judge the individual for this expression. It is a maladpative coping strategy and eventually grows to be addictive, as the acts release endorphins, tricking our brains. For the time being, it does work. It isn’t healthy, nor is it worth it, but the individual may have not come to that realization yet. Without desire to recover, it is still recognized as functional by the one self mutilating. Prying and trying to stop the behaviour can worsen the outcome, leading them into intense emotions where they feel they may have to do it again to find release.

Trying to be understanding and supportive, offering positive coping strategies,  hobbiesroutine and helping to create a coping kit with them can guide them on the right path. It will take a lot of time, but the diagnosed BPD patient must eventually learn to self regulate and should be granted years for this process.

Though we may not be trying to kill ourselves by using these negative coping strategies, they can have negative repercussions. The beahviours can become quite severe and may require medical attention, which is important to seek out when needed. The emotions we feel can escalate drastically, requiring us to get stitches or getting our stomach’s pumped, and should be supervised. It is important to ensure all wounds are kept clean and are covered to avoid STDs and other blood transmitted diseases.

Suicide attempts and threats should be taken very seriously, but it is very crucial to note that mental health professionals prefer to avoid hospitalizations for us and so, we can be left on our own. Many of us do not properly use hospital stays properly, often getting involved in other people’s problems or becoming aggressive with staff, feeling the assistance is unhelpful, and disrupting other people’s stays. It is a very sad truth, and we may be turned away when requesting to be hospitalized for these reasons. (It is also very important to recognize that being turned away can spiral emotions downwards, and skewing their perception of reality. They may think “Well, if they don’t think I’m suicidal enough, I’ll prove it.”, and this can be a very dangerous thought process. Ultimately, it is preferred to avoid trying to get hospitalized, which will lessen the trauma.)

The threats can be made to express great deal of distress and serious desire to take one’s life, and it can also be to scare and receive sympathy from loved ones and medical attention. The emotions are intense, and we may threat when they have escalated passed our capacity of withholding them. To us, it is very real. We truly believe we are ready to take our own lives, and though it may be a threat and we may not fully act upon it, our feelings are serious and can lead to the act if overwhelmed.

They will need extra support and will require professional attention from a counselor or therapist who is knowledgeable in  Borderline. Offer support, do not fall into stigma and try to be understanding of the chaos.

 

It is a Disorder but we are NOT Hopeless

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Though this is a long lasting disorder, we CAN recover. The recovery path consists of self regulation and understanding. We must practice mindfulness and positive coping strategies to keep ourselves in line. We are not entirely in control of the behaviours; they are just learned patterns. The treatment of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will offer us the tools to acquire that content and stable life.

A popular choice for those who cannot afford, nor find a professional or service that specializes in DBT can look into the Out of Control; DBT CBT Workbook, which offers diagrams, activities and simple explanations to many, if not all, common Borderline Personality Disorder behaviours. The tools must be continuously practiced, or relapse is inevitable to occur.

Many will give up on us, but I can assure you that if you stick around to watch us get better, you will not regret it. One day, we will know peace, stability and even happiness, as long as we work hard at it.

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Experience Ontario Conference; I Am Capable

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When my high school years were coming to a close this past June, I was approached by my school counselor who introduced a program called Experience Ontario. Her and I had previously discussed my disinterest in post secondary; I hadn’t closed on a subject I wanted to study and I ultimately felt unready. The program wasn’t entirely explained to me but it was made clear that we would choose 3 separate placements that would help us further our careers; whether we chose to jump into post-secondary afterwards or just continue with jobs.

I received an email mentioning that I had a mandatory conference to attend, which partially scared me. Jumping into something entirely new just shook me up and didn’t sit well with me, and to be frank, it wasn’t properly explained to me in the beginning.

The days approaching the conference, my trichotillomania worsened, leaving me with a bald spot where my bangs used to be, my anxiety was rising and I felt depressed. I was not prepared for it and didn’t know what to expect, despite the fact that I knew I would enjoy myself in the end. After all, it was going to be in a camp setting, and that’s always been somewhere I’ve felt comfortable and happy.

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Bandana tied around my bald spot, dressed in a Nicole Dollanganger tee and a black pleated skirt, I desperately wanted someone to talk to me. Some staff members approached me, including one who took me down to my cabin. In the first 10 minutes of conversation, I revealed my trichotillomania. I had no idea why I felt the urge to share it, but I did, and she had it as well. She had told me she had never met anybody else with this condition and we furthered our discussions.

Once we returned and she got on to other tasks, I was on my own again. Eyes around me felt averted, as if I was invisible. Groups had already been made and people were chatting. Isolated, I attempted to have myself noticed by walking around and making eye contact with different people, which was ultimately destroying me inside because of anxiety.

Activities began and I was put in the French group, which was lovely. I felt like there were people around me that I could express my culture and love for my language and background. We got to meet one another and I was able to talk to a few people. I felt my shell breaking rapidly, and outward came the version of myself that was lively prior to mental illness.

She was chatty and funny and loud. No one could bring her down. She had answers to every question, and even if they weren’t right, she wouldn’t cower away. She was proud to speak and her voice echoed and bounced off the white walls. She had big thoughts and large dreams, and it seemed like she could attain them in seconds if she just put her mind to it. She moved, and laughed, and everyone’s eyes seem to gaze in her direction. She was who I used to be, on top of the world, and it was as if I was never mentally ill.

We had an activity where we had to create ourselves a shield, and in the bottom right corner, our comrades had to write their impressions of us. It began with “pretty”, “friendly”, “artistic”, etc. but in the upcoming days, “natural leader” was added, and it was evident to me that I was capable as I believed as a child. I really was a public speaker and motivational figure, and I could use that to my advantage to help others.

The first night, which helped me fully escape my limitations, was an activity called “Groove”. I walked into that room with no expectations or idea of the upcoming activity, and I can admit that in the beginning, I was uncomfortable beyond belief. It was similar to a dance class, but we were made to make asses of ourselves with silly dance moves and partnering with strangers. But everybody was acting silly, so there was no embarrassment. As the stench of B.O. filled the room, disgust did not follow. One second we were ballerinas and the next we were rock stars with guitars, the next we were drumming all together. We even had a hip hop dance battle, with no rehearsal. By the voice of the instructor, we were her artistic figures, and we benefited from that pressure to be released from our own confines.

We were demonstrated trust in one another with symbolic activities. We formed a spider web and it was made clear that if one person no longer holds onto the web, the web will break and everyone will fall. Everyone needs to support each other in a team, or it cannot be considered a team. Without trust in others, we are entirely alone in this world.

We learned about our inner critics and the stress we put on ourselves, claiming we will fail before we even attempt to try. Had I let my inner critics talk to me while at camp, I wouldn’t have been able to socialize and I can only imagine that I would have been miserable.

One section of programming addressed innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, and we had to create a solution to a problem, which was a newly graduated man who was in search of a job. Within us were boys that laughed at the content, calling the man a “bum”. I, having been a homeless “bum”, ignored their ignorant comments and proceeded to discussing issues with homelessness, especially in Toronto, which I knew too well. I raised issues like lack of housing, mental illness, feelings of hopelessness, etc. And eventually, we were made to make a prototype. I raised to the table that Toronto has been building condos and apartments, one after another, ignoring the vagrancy issue that is prevalent in their city. While I was homeless, I was looking into subsidiary housing, which accommodates your income so you are able to pay rent, and the waiting list being over 10 years, and I had a wonderful idea. What if we created subsidiary housing with jobs on the inside, where the individuals can raise money, get experience for their resumes, raise enough money for their own apartment, all the while getting assistance with programming, food, housing and advice?

Little did I know, it was a hit. My group wanted me to go in front of everyone and demonstrate our prototype and ideas. Many loved the idea, and I was congratulated by many people after my presentation.

That night, staff raised to us that there was a talent show that night. I had a talent, but I was anxious and unready. My chest was heavy and anxiety was trying to take over my body. Ten minutes prior to my performance, a guitarist from the camp learned the chords to the song and we practiced twice, and up on stage we went.

I gave a little speech, addressing my anxiety and a bad performance I had in the past, which destroyed my confidence and that I hadn’t sang since.

Leaving On A Jet Plane – John Denver Cover (My live performance)

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Cheer after cheer, my confidence built up sky high. I saw jaw drops and tears in the audience, and I was so astonished with myself. After my performance, tears now in my eyes, I spoke to the crowd.

“Thanks to you guys, I might be able to sing again.”

I couldn’t believe that I had moved a crowd like that again. My previous performance hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped, singing a song I hadn’t been connected to, which for whatever reason, I dictated justifiable for me to stop singing entirely, which I should have NEVER done.

The next day, all groups were asked to have a few members speak to the whole camp. On cloud nine, I made an offer.

Bestowed in front of so many eyes, I cracked a few jokes before I spoke openly of my mental health. Short and sweet, I shared that my mental illness robbed me of all my ambitions and that was the main reason I was a part of the program. I declared that illness stole my ambitions, my desires, my self confidence but that now, after this program and conference, I understand that I am capable and that I CAN DO IT.

After my performance and speech, I had dozens approach me, declaring their love of my voice and even saying that I was an inspiration. I was fluttering inside. Everything my mental health and insecurities stole from me, I had gotten back in a matter of a few days. I was capable once again, talented even.

I realized that I had a voice, one that sang and spoke. That I knew how to relate to a crowd and speak from the heart. I had never felt more powerful and confident.

I tried many new things and met many people, some I will not be forgetting anytime soon. I watched people grow, as they did with me, and we all became much stronger, with a more detailed vision for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

0

Burn Out

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Those familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder will know this term all too well. It’s one of the largest fears we have, to be abandoned, but an occurrence most of us have become most acquainted with. It’s like a waiting game; when will we be left finally? When will they be sick of us, just like the rest? We are constantly on egg shells with the ones we love but we can’t seem to get off of them. Any interaction has an attribute that feels like another crack, breaking these shells into smaller pieces, until they evidently become dust that blows away in the wind.

The burn out is the state in which, someone is becoming overly exhausted by the behaviours and their surroundings that their functionality is decreasing and they are no longer capable to keep it together. Burn out to someone suffering with BPD is the threat to be abandoned. To hear those words out of the mouth of someone we want to keep with us is terrifying and it feels as though the world is coming to an end. Everything is crashing and soon, the only thing we had will come to an end.


I’m  burnt out; Advice for loved ones

We can only imagine how hard it is for you to watch us suffer in this way, and we understand that you try to keep it together for us and our mental illnesses, but we are imploding. Our biggest fear would be losing you and we never want you to burn out. We comprehend the complications we cause and how our experience with excruciating pain could bring you down, not to mention, being involved with us gives you an unwanted helping.

We desperately want to keep it together and keep the relationship healthy but it’s not a simple switch we can turn on or off. I can’t speak for all people diagnosed with BPD, but personally, I can climb from 0 to 100 and back down to 0 in seconds, and as much as it is hell for a partner or family member or friend, it’s a million times worse for us suffering from it. We act mean and create chaos, trying to cease it to no avail. My brain is a storm, a cesspool of destructive thoughts and corruptive behaviours. I feel so absorbed with the emotions I feel, though positive, they quickly transfer to negative when I am even slightly let down. I so desperately want someone to stay, but do not know how to keep them. I intensely sense myself being destroyed with this constant desire to not be left, to be loved and to be understood.

A “burnout” is inevitable at some point when we lose sight of recovery or maintenance, but we beg dearly that you do not leave. We have burnt out long ago in this disorder, but we are still alive and fighting daily. We have entrusted you with the most horrible parts of ourselves and are desperate for you to stay.

We will try as hard as we can, but we ask that our counterparts try their hardest to remain by our sides, as long as it is abuse free, and understand us. We are quite complicated with very distinct behaviours and reactions, but your support is required. We love those close to us very deeply and despite us being aggressive to them, we need them to stay and to love us.

Express to us your feelings of burning out, of exhaustion, but try to stay, and remember to tell us you want to stay. Attempt to remain strong and survive the hardships to one day settle into our stability. Understand that this is not always our choice and our emotions can control us entirely. Comprehend our efforts and work as hard as possible to remain by our side.Communicate with us; tell us how we can benefit you despite our chaos, and let us tell you how we feel and how you can help.


I’m burning them out!; Advice for the diagnosed BPD

Hearing those words can be an awful experience but, we must remember that a burn out is caused through love. Someone is trying their ultimate best to remain at our side but is feeling the negative aftermath of our behaviours and intense emotions, and they love us dearly. If you ever doubt they don’t, ask yourself what could be another reason for them having stayed through our highs, lows, anger and trauma but love. They desperately want to be by us, and they want us better but it is true that it an get to anyone. It’s agony for us and a helping to an outsider can seem just as overwhelming, despite them not be burdened with it as their own disorder.

They voice this to exclaim the jeopardy to their mental health, not as a threat of abandonment or act of hatred. They have taken note of their mental health issues and are sharing it with us, and we must try to respect that. Everyone’s mental health and well being is valid, even those who burn out from our BPD, and we must respect space and their need to be healthy, as hard as a temporary separation can be.

To find our own way to manage and depend on ourselves is crucial to remaining in control and being able to keep relationships going. It is exhausting to do, and it is painful to realize that we are (our behaviours are) the “cause” of someone’s lack of desire to be with us. The only way to keep two parties mentally well with one ill with BPD is for the one diagnosed with BPD to find some form of self-control and life satisfaction apart from the relationship.

Try picking up a hobby and practicing it when you start feeling down, practice daily self-care and maintenance, put together a coping kit or purchase the Out Of Control DBT CBT Workbook which will provide ways to assist yourself with BPD. With these strategies, you will become more able to understand and control yourself, and eventually find peace, even if it’s for a short period of time.


A burnout is not the end for anyone. It could be the beginning to understanding the parties involved, what they are seeking and ways to work on a relationship together. It does not have to be the ending and we should not treat it as such.

 

2

Raw Thoughts

Woah, have I truly let myself down lately!

I’ve completely lost sight of the concept of small goals and it’s leading me into a self-fulfilling prophecy of failures. Every minute, I’m stressing about my project and the thought of it makes me avoid it, resulting in the work not getting done and my goals not being met.

I have extreme difficulty in accepting that time will not stop and that I will never get back time lost, and in the process, I waste my time to avoid the thought of it.

I have chore after chore I have to complete and haven’t in weeks because the thought of doing it and facing possible consequences is too stressful for me.

Everything seemed to be against me, and when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it definitely did. I am no longer sensing a feeling of happiness or even satisfaction. I’m finding myself in doubt of my actions, my thoughts, my feelings and my relationship. I’m desperate for help but no longer know how to ask for it in case it’s just me being “a borderline”. I have developed a bald spot from my trichotillomania and some other things I am not proud of.

I’m bouncing from coping mechanism to coping mechanism, practically all negative, trying to make sense of myself, and my only sense of relief seems to be in shutting the world away and escaping to a new world, but I feel foolish when I attempt to do it alone, and frankly, I get bored.

I’m at a loss for words. One day, I’m on top of the world, and the next, I’m down in the dumps. I don’t understand how to stabilize myself, especially in this time of change and acceptance.

I had taken BPD specific treatment and I was well on my way to recovery, but somewhere in the good, a mess began to form. I no longer feel my conditions and disorders are valid, I don’t feel my word matters, and I am losing my will to live. I was nearly clear of all suicidal thoughts, but visuals slipped into my mind and it was something I truly considered today, and that concept scares me.I am desperately trying to ask for help and making direct statements that prove I have done something to myself or that I may even need future hospitalization, without being “an attention seeking borderline” and it hasn’t worked. I haven’t quite grasped the concept of being open and that not being a form of attention seeking, so often stated by the therapy I attended.

I’m very exhausted of being misunderstood, unmotivated and alone. All I’m trying to do is keep someone around and feel as though I matter and that I am loved, but that concept also terrifies me.

I feel ridiculous for wanting help, and truthfully, do not feel worth it. Nothing I am experiencing seems to be justified or accepted by my surroundings because I’m much better than I used to be. I am trying to stray from borderline behaviour, but being caught in that thought process is causing me to close in on myself and implode.  I don’t feel okay. I don’t feel like I can express myself or open up anymore. I don’t feel like any self-harm behaviour is respected and I’m paranoid it is being seen as a petty act for attention instead of the release of pain it is on myself.

I am desperate to feel alive, to feel wanted, to feel useful. But in the process, I am feeling more dead, lost, and lifeless.


To the readers of Sloth Speed Recovery, every article and post you read that I produce is encouraging. Lately, I feel incapable of providing unemotional and impersonal advice, let alone posts. My self-help posts are hard to produce when I am struggling to help and be proud of my own self. For the next while, I would say to expect personal posts from me, though I will try to produce a self-help post as soon as I feel better. I appreciate all of you and I am sending my love to you. I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself at the moment. You are amazing.

To my loved ones, if you stumble across this post or if I’ve shared this with you, I am asking you for help and no longer feel able or safe to tell you how I feel. I need lengthy conversations with you, and your continuous support. Just because I seem to be doing better, does not mean I am or that it will last. I need you to be nonjudgmental and offer me your time when it’s convenient for you (so we avoid my feelings of abandonment when you can’t be around). If you are feeling a specific way, reassure me you feel this way and that you love me. If I am making statements that may portray a lack of safety, do not overreact, but be there for me. My conditions are eating me alive lately and I need to know that I am not alone. I really need you.