Recovery from BPD is an ongoing battle…


English: Emotions Q-sort

English: Emotions Q-sort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of weeks have been hard work, it has made me question again my ‘recovery’ status as I have not been doing well and have discovered that I don’t have the emotional stability I thought I had.

Don’t get me wrong I have handled it much better than I would have a few months ago, so the progress made is not lost, but there is still a way to go and a daily battle of wills with myself to keep on top of it all. I have had strong urges to self-harm but not given in to them, I have had some intense emotions but have overcome them with out overreacting, so I guess that’s good work, but the battle is really hard again at the moment due to the things that have brought my mood down.

There have been a few things that have triggered these difficulties coping…

The Triggers

Work

First off I’m still struggling to find work, I’m applying for a variety of types of jobs, including things I don’t really want to do but I just feel the need to get out of the house and get a paid job so badly that I am willing to do almost anything just to get me back into work as it’s a known fact that it’s easier to get a job when you already have one, so taking anything I can get would just be a stepping stone that enables me to move to something I would rather be doing.

However, it seems I’m stuck in that vicious circle of being over-qualified and inexperienced for most jobs :/

Most of what I apply for I don’t hear anything back from at all, on the odd occasion I do get an interview (twice in the last two months) I don’t get the job.

I know the job market is tough at the moment for everyone and I’m trying hard not to take it personally that I’m not being successful, but it is still disheartening  and soul-destroying to keep spending hours filling in application forms and getting nothing back 😦

Education

Then, I applied to enrol on the DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course at my local college, the course would cost me £1150 as there are no concessions available, luckily I have enough in my savings to pay for it. Unfortunately, I can’t do the course unless I have a teaching placement to complete the work-based assessment components of the course and I don’t have a placement. Similar to the job situation I am not having much luck trying to gain a placement as I don’t have any prior experience of teaching, so another vicious circle there…

Finances

On top of that I am worried about my finances for the first time ever, I’ve never been in debt and while I’ve never been wealthy or even ‘comfortably-off’ I’ve always coped, even when my income is completely from benefits as it is currently. However, as my children are getting older income is going down and they too are struggling to find work and are attending college.

My ex hasn’t helped this financial situation as what would normally be a very nice present that he gave my son for his 19th birthday has turned into a burden for me. My Ex bought my son 10 driving lessons – great idea… only one problem, I now have to find £200 a month to keep this up, I’m pretty sure even my ex and his very good income would struggle to pluck an extra £200 a month out of the air to cover something like this.

Sure people have said my son should pay or at least contribute, but he does not have an income in his own right (It works out better for us if I continue to claim benefits for him until he is 20 than for him to sign-on for Jobseekers allowance in his own right). Or that I should just leave it until he can pay, but then the lessons already taken will have been a waste of money as who knows how long it would be before we/he could afford it, and I think learning to drive is important and will enhance his employability (he has a fund that I have saved since he was little that will pay for a cheap run-around and his first lot of insurance when he passes his test, but I don’t want to touch this for the lessons). So, difficult as it is/will be I am going to keep it up as long as I can manage and hope (hope, hope) I/he can get a job in the meantime to cover the costs of the lessons.

But, then even if I get a job I have thought about how much I would need to be able to cover all the bills, rent etc and realised that it is almost certain that I will actually be worse off if I get a job as the jobs I am applying for don’t pay enough, but again as tough as that will be I want to work so badly I am willing to risk being worse off just so I can get a job. The way I look at it is that I may struggle for a few years due to a low-income but in the long run (hopefully) I will end up better off through working as I can try to move into a better paying role. And of course with the Welfare Reform Bill having been passed who knows how soon it will be before there are dramatic cuts in the benefits I receive currently anyway, and how much/little any top-up help I receive for being on a low-income will be.

Then on top of all that, when each of my children turns 20 they will have to claim jobseekers allowance in their own right (if they are entitled to it by then with the changes under the welfare reform bill!) and I will no longer be entitled to the benefits I currently receive and will have to apply for jobseekers allowance too, this will be a lot less than what we get now with them as my dependants… and this will come around really quickly, my son turns 20 next July just 10 months away, which will fly by!

Of course it also doesn’t help that people owe me money, over £800 in total and the most I get back in a payment is £50 😦

Relationships

The final trigger has been a ‘budding’ or ‘potential’ new relationship. A guy I had known as what I would class as an ‘acquaintance’ for some time showed an interest in me and he seemed really nice, not the usual ‘bad egg’ type I tend to crash into. We had a few quiet nights in with a DVD and bottle of wine, and a couple of nights at the pub and I was enjoying his company, it was all very nice, civil and not crazy or full of drama. I said to my friends, I think I might have found a good one here…

We all have a past, and I told him openly about mine, the BPD and all the associated drama. He told me about his… I won’t share it here as it is not my place to divulge his personal information. Suffice to say he has had a pretty complex past himself…

I was fine with this, people deserve a chance to prove themselves, and I have a lot of ‘proving’ myself to do! We have both worked hard to overcome some very difficult life situations and as such it actually gave us something else in common, he could understand the difficulties I have had coping with BPD and I can understand a lot of the struggles he has had too…

I was happy, enjoying our time together and feeling positive. Unfortunately emotion had crept upon me whilst I was unaware… he had to cancel our first ‘proper’ date and I got very upset about it – keeping my emotions in check was a massive battle I almost lost. I also went on the immediate defensive, not wanting to give him a second chance, to make up for it, because I didn’t want to show weakness and vulnerability – if I give him chances this early on I’m letting him see I am a walkover, that he can get away with letting me down, treating me badly, blah, blah – yeah I panicked. I cried, a lot.

I went out that evening to a pre-planned party at the pub and let him know that if he wanted to talk to me I would be there. He came to the pub, but did not speak to me, instead he got very drunk. I drank a fair bit myself but I reached a point where I decided enough was enough, if I continue drinking I’m going to regret it and it won’t be good for my recovery, so I went home, having drunk enough to release the tension but not so much I slipped into drama. And even though he had not spoken to me that night, I decided I would give him one chance, because his reason for cancelling had been ‘genuine’ and not something he could control so it was only fair to let him try to make it up to me – just this once…

I felt proud that I had not let my emotions win, yeah I’d got upset, angry, hurt etc etc but I had again managed to deal with it almost as well as any non-BP would – I had not exploded, imploded or over-reacted immensely and damagingly…

He took me for a meal the next day to apologize, and we continued as we had been, seeing each other every few days. However, I was beginning to have doubts, I couldn’t put my finger on it putting it down to just being anxious about possibly entering into a relationship and whether I was ready for this.

Then it happened again… he had invited me over for lunch and had to postpone, could I come for dinner instead? an hour before he cancelled again. He had his reasons again they seemed fair and genuine enough, but this time I was even more upset and almost crashed with the burden of emotions. I went to see him much later that night, after having talked over my emotions with my friends, I needed to see him to find out how I felt.

When I left it was with a heavy heart as I had decided that, although I didn’t tell him there and then, I couldn’t continue with this. I have too many doubts and concerns, I can’t share them here other than the one that is wholly about me – that I feel I am not ready to be getting involved with someone yet.  My emotionally stability is not yet strong enough to handle a relationship and I clearly like this guy a lot for him to have this effect on me which is all the more reason not to carry on. I need to continue working on my recovery and build my emotional strength, I am too weak and vulnerable and risk ending up in another unhealthy relationship that only leads to repeated triggers for my BPD. It’s not his fault and yeah I might be passing up a good thing, but right now it doesn’t feel ‘good’ or healthy and I have to protect myself and the hard work I have put into getting better. A relationship with anyone is not something that is right for me at this time, even if I do get lonely…

Conclusion

As you can see I have quite a lot to contend with at the moment and that I have not resorted to my old (wrong) coping mechanisms and not overreacted and spiralled into a massive self-destructive drama cycle is a huge improvement and it has come so close to me losing my grip and strength.

I happy that I can identify the things that trigger different aspects of my BPD emotions and that I can handle most of them so well. Clearly the emotional connection with others, relationships, is the toughest one for me and I know that unless I intend to be alone forever I am going to have to face it, but as with how I have handled it now it’s going to be a case of taking things slowly, test the waters without diving in head-first! Like I have this time, hopefully I will recognise early if it feels right and be able to have the strength not to let it continue if it doesn’t feel like a positive step forward for me!

The battle isn’t over with BPD, if it ever will be I don’t know, but I will keep on fighting and hope that I can continue moving forwards rather than slipping back. Engaging in positive activities from reading, to computer games and even cleaning  are helpful distractions on difficult days, although I admit the motivation to do them can be as low as the mood I am fighting. We just have to give ourselves a swift kick in the backside and try, try, try…

One day at a time…

Do you recognise your triggers?

Are you able to handle some triggers better than others?

What get’s you through a bad day?

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24 comments on “Recovery from BPD is an ongoing battle…

  1. Actually considering all the stuff you have going onI reckon you’ve done brilliantly. There was so many times you said you could have done… but you didn’t. That’s huge for a BPDer. and hey, recovery doesn’t transfer us into super-human status, so it’s still ok to struggle with stuff. Anyone would. Be proud of what you’ve achieved and hang onto that recovery. 😀

    • Thanks Cate, I am proud of how well I have been handling it all, and it is continuing! It really feels like the world is conspiring against me trying its hardest to force me back into the BPD ways because the harder and more I am trying to ‘cope’ with everything the more and worse things seem to be getting – I don’t know how much it will take to reach breaking point or prove that no matter what I’m not giving in but it seems that there really is something trying its hardest to push me beyond the limits! :/

  2. IMO one doesn’t recover from being Borderline. It’s too ingrained in our personality. What we can do is learn to cope better with life’s issues. I’m not doing so well at the moment either. Everything seems to trigger me. 😦

    • I do wonder myself, I think the reason I like to refer to it as recovery is that I wouldn’t meet the diagnostic criteria at this point in time, although I have also called it remission a lot as I feel that traits are still within me and life could at any point push me beyond my ability to cope and they resurface again. Hope your triggers are settling now xx

  3. Sharon

    Wow that’s a pretty full on post, you absolutely have a lot going on in your life.

    I was going to comment on a few things you said, but don’t feel it’s my place to do that. Instead, I can say that BPD or NBPD, all that you have on your plate at present would burden ANYone. So take it from a NBPD – you are not alone in these situations!

    Also the fact that you can do the following tells me – a NBPD looking at your post from ‘outside’ the box, that:

    – You are doing very very well with identifying your triggers.

    – You are actually making positive steps (no self harm, not drinking anymore at the pub because you KNOW it will cause problems, identifying relationship conflicts BEFORE they really get to you, etc). These are great steps forward in your ongoing treatment, but maybe you cannot see it yourself?

    – You continually fight to manage your BPD, instead of giving up. I think it would possibly be far worse returning to a more docile/non active management lifestyle! Don’t you agree?

    I also like to look around me sometimes. Outside of what is going on in my life. For instance, the recent paralympics. Good grief, I cannot believe how some of these people are so positive about their lives. It sometimes puts MY problems into perspective.

    Anyway, keep up the good work 🙂

    Ps Re the job application matter – I know from a lot of experience that these days it is standard practice to NOT get any reply unless you get the position. That is not a slight against you, simply a method employers utilise to manage their time 🙂

    • Thanks Shelly, indeed I recognise that the pressures I am under would push many people to their limits of coping regardless of whether they have BPD or anything else! And yes, sometimes it certainly would be much easier to give in to the BPD urges than to keep up the fight. It does seem though that he harder I am trying the worse things get as if the world is conspiring against me to try and ‘break’ me – like ‘how much can we throw at her before she snaps’. It feels like I am being tested to my limits! :/

  4. I’m really impressed at how you handled the situation with this man. I see how difficult it was and really empathize with the wanting. I’m also in a situation of job seeking and being over qualified for jobs that are available. I’m just looking for a low stress job at this time though, and then will look for more – because, as you said, it’s easier to find a job when you’re already employed.

    • That’s it exactly, as we are both finding the low stress jobs we could handle until we are ready for more don’t want us but if we applied for the higher level stuff now we wouldn’t be ready to handle the pressure :/ we just can’t win!

  5. I don’t recognise or understand all triggers like with the recent SI. I went from feeling really quite good to SI within a couple of hours. I don’t really know what triggered me. But I feel bad about it.

    You are very self-aware and I think that is a great advantage for you – I think you’ve (and still are) working really hard on yourself Sharon – well done you! Xx

    • Thank you Quiet 🙂

      It can be difficult to recognise the triggers, it takes a lot of ‘processing’ after the event to work it out, sometimes the trigger still never becomes apparent, and then for other things the trigger can be so glaringly obvious that we completely miss it! :/ xx

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  10. Thank you for your post. I am by now 46 and still struggling with symptoms that only seem to rear their ugly head when I start getting intimate with a man. I just ended a dating situation because it was causing me and him a lot of drama and i need it less than anyone else I know right now. We are still friends and I’ve known him a long time, but I never quite trusted him and got an earful about him from an ex-girlfriend of his – that he can be condescending and defensive and these traits really set off my symptoms of shame and self-blame. It got so intense I almost ended up in the hospital. No one is perfect and many of the men I have dated have had symptoms of NPD and that is not a good match for my BPD. I have decided I just feel better if I don’t date anyone. All these insecurities come up and no matter how much DBT therapy I have done, nothing seems to work in the face of extreme anxiety related to intimacy. I realize I have these high standards as well and most men have lower standards as to how they treat women these days and I’m just well and sick of it. So, I no longer care to date. I read an article by a woman on why she no longer dates and she does not have BPD but consideres herself an HSP (hightly sensitive person.) I am too and I find most men get turned off by this, plus the fact that not a lot gets by me. Having dealt with a horrible relationship with an NPD male, I now don’t trust anyone hardly at all and it’s causing yet more problems, so I’ve given up. I would like concentrate on platonic friendships, however.

  11. Wanted to say too that I thank you for the questions at the end of your post. I need to figure out what my triggers were in the last relationship I was in. Sometimes my triggers are created in my own mind and are not really going on in reality and I have a horrible time figuring out what is real and what is not real. So whether they are really out there or just in my mind, I need to identify them.

    • yes, identifying triggers is hard but if you can recognise them after events first and analyse them then work on trying to do that during and even before things happen (seeing potential triggers if you enter into certain situations) eventually you learn to handle things much better 🙂

  12. I also tend to magnify things in my own mind and emotionally and I would like to figure out how to minimize some of the impression I think I get from others and the resulting feelings. I know there is a technique that is DBT related where one can try and dissect the thoughts from emotions, but when I’ve been in the thick of it all, I find it so hard to do and that I just blow from the stress of everything. But I think practicing some of these techniques after the initial trigger has passed could have some benefit? DBT is great, but it takes so much work at times and I’ve found some of it utterly ineffective and condescending in theory at times.

    • I haven’t done DBT myself but have read about it and touched on some of the techniques in my psychotherapy sessions enough to be of use without getting to tied up in aspects that would be less useful to me (eg mindfulness, for me personally it’s too wishy washy and nonsense so trying to use it as a skill would end up infuriating me! lol) what works for some doesn’t for others and vice versa I guess 🙂

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