Tag Archives: self injury

Musings on emotions

It feels like this huge, crushing weight (grief does).

It seems like I’m feeling it too intensely sometimes… 

For some reason, it struck me today that some people have “sensory processing disorders” around emotions rather than sights, sounds, or textures… 

The same way loud noises  (or lots of sources of noise) can be overwhelming to someone on the autism spectrum, “loud” emotions can be overwhelming to some people… 

What if that emotional overwhelm they try to always pigeonhole as “borderline” is really just an autistic glitch around emotions as opposed to one of the other senses? 

What if introducing trauma/abuse/neglect into the mix early-on intensifies the inability of a person to deal with this emotional sensory processing disorder? 

We’ve all heard the theories that borderline is better explained by c-ptsd (which I totally agree with). What if we took it one step further and explored the possibility that “borderline”was actually in part an autism-like disorder? 

If you consider that one “symptom” of borderline is “feeling too intensley”, and you understand that even trained clinicians minimize the difficulty of dealing with extremely intense emotions (as they’ve been trained to do; “know that emotions come & go, like waves”), it’s easy to see the disconnect in effective strategies for clients. It’s something along the lines of comparing a stubbed toe to a shattered foot. Sure, you can probably take over-the-counter Tylenol for the stubbed toe & it will likely help, but doing the same for the shattered foot probably won’t make a noticeable impact. For such an intense injury, you need prescription-strength stuff. We should have something more than “Tylenol” to offer people. 

What if we understand that pushing someone to sit with intense pain (physical or emotional)  will likely lead to various ways of procuring relief… so you take a kid who can’t handle loud noises, and you tell them they need to sit through a rock concert. You’re going to get a tantrum and various, inventive ways to deal with the pain from the noise (think stereotypical autistic behaviors like flapping, screaming, hitting self, or attacking others). Now take a kid who feels emotions incredibly intensely, and ask them to tolerate those emotions. You pretty much get the same acting out in search of relief: self injury, tantrums, physical and verbal outbursts…

I’m a huge proponent for dropping the borderline diagnosis from the dsm. It’s an antiquated and “cop-out” diagnosis with way too much stigma attached. While there’s a push to remove the stigma, it’s still very much taught to young clinicians. Professors and supervisors alike instill fear and disgust around the diagnosis. Myths are perpetuated. Doctors do the same. It’s quick to be diagnosed (often inaccurately), and it’s near impossible to step away from even if it’s found to be inaccurate. It follows you and colors every other interaction with every other professional that sees the dreaded diagnosis anywhere in the file…

What if, instead of just working to destigmatize the diagnosis, we came up with more accurate understandings, and got rid of it completely. It was, after all, just a catch-all category for people who didn’t quite fit any of the other categories… 

What are your thoughts on this? Does it kinda make sense? Am I way out in left field? 


Echos

It’s been a while again, hasn’t it?

I ended up being able to ask for some more of what I needed, though it was incredibly difficult. I did it with Dr C’s help, but didn’t stop shaking for about 3 hours afterwards.

Visited my mom, and that was difficult. She’s in a tight spot but I don’t know what I can do to help. I worry about her a lot. I wish I could do more.

Pretty much been working or helping people out since my return from the trip. I’m exhausted…

This morning I woke to echos of the past. They’re different though. It’s not the flashbacks and memories of my childhood. Instead, it’s memories and feelings of the times I was in and out of hospitals. It’s a feeling of… I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s a “hospital hangover” without having been there? It’s a weird, floaty, disconnected, being-in-two-places-at-once feeling… and my chest is heavy and breathless… and my head feels foggy. It’s an intense memory that’s just out of reach. I can feel things on/in my body, I vaguely hear the bustle of an emergency room (complete with monitor sounds and medical personnel), but it’s out there, like I’m hearing it from a semi-conscious state. Maybe it’s remembering the time I OD’d, or one of the times I was severely dissociative and hospitalized? I dunno…

It’s weird and it’s throwing me off.

I feel like I should be elsewhere…

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I had text Dr C earlier mentioning some of this. I hadn’t meant to worry her, but I did 😦 she called a bit ago. I didn’t know how to describe what’s going on. I managed to get a bit of it out, and she suggested I call her if it gets worse, or if I want/need to talk. I hate worrying people. That wasn’t my intent with the text, I was just trying to reach out 😦 kinda glad she called though. Glad I could kinda come up with some words around what’s going on… I wish I wasn’t so disconnected. I feel like I’m on the verge of autopilot. Can’t afford that right now. Need to stay here and grounded. Work later today should help…


Art instead of other things

As much as I didn’t want to be in therapy on Monday, I was really looking forward to group on Thursday… only group got cancelled 😦

So, in an effort to keep on the right track with my coping skills, I did art all day…

I’m not sure if I posted about my experiment making my own canvas journal, but I worked on that and some ATC’s that will be going out on a swap (if I can ever decide which ones to actually send. I like them all for various reasons. Some have deeper meanings than they may appear to just by looking at them).

Anyway, here are pics of it all. Some are WIP pics, others of completed pages/cards… I used Inka Gold on the canvas. It doesn’t work well. The paint is cracking and chipping already. I need to come up with something as a hard cover for the journal to help protect it better. It works fine on solid objects, but it’s not meant to be pliable once dried.

I’m glad I had the distraction today. Between pms, the passing of one of L’s family members (and what it’s bringing up for me), increased body sensations, stress around one of the dogs having eaten a spoon a week ago and still not passed it, and the thought of a crazy day at work tomorrow, my thoughts have been hovering over the more negative coping skills. Similar to what I mentioned to Dr C on Monday, I just wanted to be drunk, high, and bleeding. Instead I played art and listened to the Ellie Goulding station on Pandora… yay for picking the more socially acceptable coping skills.


What is your fantasy, idealized treatment?

If you could design your own “treatment center”, with no regard to limits on finances or what seems “impossible”, what would find most helpful to you?

I am not sure how this topic came up this morning, but I ended up having a long discussion with my mom about what my ideal treatment would look like. It does not exist at this time, but it is based on my experiences both professionally and personally. A lot of it sounds impossible with today’s treatment models and financial limitations, but I think, at least for me, it would be hugely beneficial.

I have found I need a certain level of intensity to safely and effectively get through my issues, so I would want something that is residential, however I would want to keep my freedoms (access to my music, animals, nature, ability to leave if I need a change of scenery even if it means going with someone, access to my positive coping skills, access to my social supports and the community). I would want access to supportive and trained people at all hours of the day and night (because let’s be honest, most crises don’t keep themselves to a schedule, so if one arises, I want to be able to deal with it appropriately in the moment); a holistic treatment team (medical, psych, yoga, animal therapy, arts and expressive therapies, CAM) that takes my input into account and helps me implement my ideas (as appropriate and available); a safe environment where added supervision is available, but personal choice is also a key component; staff that maintains a level of compassion even if I get super annoying and needy; availability for staff to decompress and engage in self-care as needed; down-time for myself to regroup from dealing with something very heavy without the threat of having all the support taken away just because I seem better in the moment; people who are open to challenging me on my trouble points but also understanding of places I may be stuck; flexibility in treatment plans; openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things; limited judgements on how I present and a willingness to look at what may be underlying my symptoms/presentation; freedom from stigma around any particular symptom, behavior, or mood-state; people who listen to and hear what I have to say; people with patience around helping me figure stuff out; people to help me build a vocabulary and a method of expression for things I cannot adequately express; people who are willing to sit with me through challenging times, and gently insist that I get through the triggered symptom to find out what’s “on the other side” of it (not simply implement grounding at the first sign of distress, because I have recently found that there’s important stuff on the other side of a dissociative episode or a flashback); catering my treatment to me as an individual, and respecting me as an individual with certain likes and dislikes; going at treatment with “kid gloves” knowing that sometimes things will get way worse and way more challenging before they get better; having a treatment team that is ok taking over when my judgement goes south, but still open and receptive to what I am trying to communicate… Also an openness to “thinking outside the box” and coming up with new treatment ideas if the current ones do not work. Also I would include a transparency in all treatment methods, with access to everything by the client, and ultimate veto powers by the client.

Therapy sessions would be daily, and for maybe 90+ minutes to be able to tackle the harder stuff, then have the therapist available later in the day as needed to address what comes up. Arts/expressive therapies would be daily, animal therapy daily, visitors allowed daily with housing for family either on-site or nearby as needed, assessments to figure out what is helpful, and what might be helpful, organic treatment plan that evolves with new developments. “Family” therapy available (with whomever is involved in the person’s life), ability to return to treatment as needed, creation of “safe spaces” to help with processing things, personal choice around negative coping skills until the person is in a place to change them, but with the stipulation that they must be reported immediately and checked out as necessary, and taken on an individual basis, with constant monitoring and revaluation. I understand this is a huge liability and highly controversial, but it’s something I feel strongly that an element of personal freedom makes a huge difference in getting over it in the long run. Teaching accountability and responsibility around choices would be a huge component. I know I can walk away from something much easier if I have a choice around it than it I am simply told I cannot have it or cannot engage in it. It’s like the concept of thinking about a yellow school bus when someone tells you not to think about it; you will think about it more, and likely obsess over it. If negative coping can happen in a safe environment with buffers to ensure overall safety, I think it would go a long way to helping a person turn away from those negative coping skills in the long run.

It would also be standard of care to always look at every symptom, no matter how un-related it seems, and not discount any “medical” issues that may arise simply because I am there to work on psych issues.

I would prefer this to be with easy access to secluded nature and the beach, because that just makes me happy, but I guess anywhere with access to nature and water would be good…

It would be incredibly expensive, and incredibly intensive, but I think it would work for me. A girl can dream, right?

So, if you could design your ideal treatment based on what has and has not worked for you in the past, or what you have seen work or not work for others, what would it be?


weird space

I’m in a strange head-space.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it… maybe floaty, disconnected, like my head was a balloon bobbing around. I’m not so much disconnected from my body as disconnected from everything around me.  So maybe the whole of me feels like a balloon bopping around… and like there’s a thin barrier between me and everything around me; a gossamer curtain or something equally wispy and blowy.

I’m tired but I’m not. I should probably go to bed, but I don’t want to.  It’s the beginnings of the “before bed panic” I sometimes get. I’m also not feeling the dark at the moment. Earlier mom was giving me a hard time about all the lights being on, but I really don’t want to be in the dark at the moment.

I was trying to be creative again today, but nothing happened.  I had a ton of half-formed ideas, but nothing panned out. I just sat there staring at everything. I kept taking out stuff to start a project, look at it for several minutes, then put it away again. I couldn’t bring myself to start anything or to get a better idea of what direction I wanted to go in with anything. I wanted a beer, but there’s none in the house I would drink (and it would be shitty of me to waste the last of mom’s beer, as I would likely open it, take three sips, deem it gross, and dump it)… I’m not in the mood for anything harder, so I have not had anything to drink tonight. I just really want a beer; something darker and sweet and malty… no such luck.

There’s other stuff I want to do too, but I have to be good. I really want Friday to roll around. I had told L that I was frustrated it was only Tuesday today. I want to get to the art journal workshop on Thursday, but I also really want to get to therapy on Friday.  I’m not quite sure why other than there’s a list of questions/thoughts I want to bring up to TL. It’s stuff I want her to know, or stuff I want to gauge her reaction towards. I should have told her that the social stuff was not what I was looking for, that I needed the therapeutic aspect also. But there are no groups around that I fit into. The agency no longer has either it’s drop-in women’s group, or the women’s therapy group. There are no appropriate groups I have found online for myself elsewhere either. I really needed her to help me get connected to something I can’t easily find myself online… The social stuff is taken care of. I have MeetUp, I have a (very) few friends to hang with… I have the social thing mostly covered. I need the therapy thing too. I don’t know how to tell her this. I feel like an ass for not being able to tell her when she asked last week. It’s one of the things on my list, but I am not sure I will be able to read it to her; too much of feeling like an idiot… There’s some other stuff I really need to talk to her about too, but I have to figure out how she will take it. I need to know she won’t freak out about it, or run away from me for it. I really need her to be a safe go-to person for now… gotta love that urgency and neediness. o_O

 


Balance

So, my mood had been super cranky these last two days in part due to my monthly friend. Today was filled with negativity and anger boiling under the surface. I had every intention of expressing that in my art, but the piece took on a life of its own (as they often do).

I started out with intentions of depicting struggles with self-destruction. I painted a basic black background and added a razor blade and some red designs. Some of my paint tubes had dried paint around the openings. When I pulled it off the tubes, I thought they looked either like little volcanoes or like bullet holes. I decided to add those to the piece also. I had tried some stamping with some liquid silver, but it didn’t work out well. I washed the whole thing over again with black… then I ended up covering that in the purple paint. I covered in the holes with more black, but still had no real idea what to do next.  I thought of making it like a cave and later drawing in a small figure in one of the dips.  I liked the idea of the interference paint, so I added that to the little “bullet holes”. Then I wanted to play with the liquid silver to see if I could “line” the black blobs. For some reason, after the first blob was outlined, I just wanted to do my swirls. I started putting them randomly around the black blobs. I still wasn’t sold on how “cute” the swirls looked, so I added some silver “line” to the bottom of the biggest blob on the left. I stepped back for a moment and was totally lost on the direction to take the painting.

wpid-img_20140804_182552.jpgAs I looked at it,  the blob with the two ends painted with the red interference looked like a cute bean or little baby. I decided to add eyes to it. Then I added eyes to the round blob, then the one leaning over…  Suddenly the little goddesses appeared out of each black blob. They needed little lips then, and they became kisses. After the kisses came the hearts, and it ended up feeling very happy and safe.

And that’s how this originally dark, angry painting morphed into a love-filled one… sometimes we need to just let the art take over and fill the need we don’t know is there…

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I had gone to a social group at the Pride Center after finishing the goddesses (on Friday TL had suggested I take down the info for several groups and consider attending one or more this week). I hadn’t intended to go back to the women’s group because it had been an uncomfortable experience when I had gone with L last year, but the goddesses had me feeling more positive and balanced.  It was a wholly different group of women for the most part, but there ended up being a really militant, aggressive woman in the group yet again (though this was her first time at this meeting). She and the group succeeded in making me uncomfortable yet again. I took off as soon as the group broke, and I again have no intention of ever returning.

wpid-20140804_232235.jpgAnyway, upon returning home, I was still pretty on-edge, so I sat to do more art.  I did a collage this time, and it was back to the usual darkness. What can I say, it’s where I am most comfortable these days…

 


Art, tweaked

I had started this on the 25th, then re-did in color on Wednesday (30th)… Tonight was rough. I couldn’t sleep (stupid losses). I heard a song on my playlist that fit the piece, so added the lyrics to the background… the song is “Let you down” by Three Days Grace… (I’ll post a video and the lyrics from my computer later). Anyway, here’s the piece from its third working:

FB_IMG_1406872582859_zpsapeeiily

I managed about an hour and 40 minutes sleep tonight, so thought I’d try to add the lyrics and video link via my phone (need distractions at the moment)

“Let You Down” by Three Days Grace

Trust me/There’s no need to fear/Everyone’s here/Waiting for you to finally be one of us/Come down…/You may be full of fear/But you’ll be safe here/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/I will let you down/I’ll let you down, I’ll/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/Trust me/I’ll be there when you need me/You’ll be safe here/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/I will let you down/I’ll let you down, I’ll/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/I will let you down/I’ll let you down, I’ll/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/Never want to come down/Never want to come down/Never want to come down/(Down, let you down)/I will let you down/I’ll let you down, I’ll/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me/I will let you down/I’ll let you down, I’ll/When you finally trust me/Finally believe in me