Category Archives: pain

How to Speak to Someone About an Unspeakable Loss

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Reblogged from Linda Carroll at http://www.lindaacarroll.com/blog.php via Uplift

 

Five Ways to Help When You Feel There is Nothing You Can Do

“It’s not about saying the right things. It’s about doing the right things.” ~Unknown

 

Years ago, my family and I moved to a bucolic little town in New Zealand, where we were immediately swept up into a group of ex-pats and locals. We felt deeply connected to this community by the time I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in the local hospital.
When our son was three months old, a doctor heard a heart murmur. Twenty-four hours later, he died.

In the days and weeks that followed, I wandered in my own fog of grief as I went about the necessary tasks of ordinary life: shopping for food, taking our other kids to school, doing the usual mounds of laundry.

Meanwhile, my new friends kept their distance. I saw them take great care to avoid me: to cross the street, switch supermarket aisles, literally do an about-face when they saw me coming.

Invitations stopped coming. The phone went silent. My grief was marked by a deeper isolation than I’d ever known.

Later, many of these people apologized. They told me they were terribly sad and distressed about what had happened, but hadn’t known what to say. My loss was so enormous that words seemed inadequate, even pitiful.

They said nothing, out of fear that they would say the wrong thing.
This sort of experience repeats itself in many different forms: a friend gets dumped by the love of her life, a colleague is given notice at a job he’s held for two decades, or a loved one receives the dreaded news that she has inoperable cancer.

What can you say?

While it’s not an easy question to answer, one thing is certain: It’s worse to say nothing than to say the wrong thing. Here are five ways to respond helpfully to people who have suffered an enormous loss.

 

1. Manage your own feelings first.
When we learn that disaster has befallen a loved one, we initially feel shock. Our heart rate increases, our thoughts either speed up or slow down, and we may experience nausea or dizziness.

The anxiety we feel is real and personal. Our instinct, though, is to ignore it, find ways to numb it or minimize it. That’s a mistake.

If we address our own anxiety first, we’ll be in a much stronger position to respond well to the person most directly affected. Do the things you know how to do to manage stress. A walk in the woods, some meditation or yoga, or talking to a trusted friend can help.

Make sure your own body and emotions are regulated before you turn to the person in grief.

 

2. Now focus on the other person.
Remember that the isolation they feel is almost as painful as the shock and the sadness of the loss itself. If you avoid them because you don’t know what to say, this avoidance serves only your needs.

Our friends and other loved ones need our comfort, support, and involvement during times of sorrow.

Although there isn’t a right thing to say, there are some things to never say. They include the current favorite, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “I know just how you feel.” How do you know there’s a reason, and what difference would it make to a grieving person, anyway? And you don’t know how they feel—only they do.

 

3. Admit that you don’t know what to say.
That’s a good start. Try something simple that breaks the ice and starts a conversation, or at least sends a message to the other person that they’re not alone.

“I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I wish I could say the perfect thing, but I know there’s nothing to fix it. I just wanted you to know I care and am here with you.”

 

4. Listen.
If the person is willing to talk, listen. It’s the single most vital thing you can do.

Listen to their story without interrupting. Don’t turn the conversation back to you with statements like, “I know what you’re going through—my dog died last year.”

Don’t tell them what they will, or should, feel. Simply acknowledge their pain and listen to what it’s like for them.

We all have different styles of managing shock and distress. Some people are angry, while others seem numb. Still others turn to gallows humor. Your job is not to correct them but to give them space to be the way they need to be.

 

5. Rather than saying, ”Let me know if I can do anything,” offer to do something practical and specific.
Taking on an ordinary task is often most helpful. Offer to shop for groceries, run errands, drive the kids somewhere, or to cook a meal or two. Ask if you can call tomorrow, or if they want to be left alone for a few days.

When Survey Monkey’s CEO Dave Goldberg died suddenly, his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote the following:

When I am asked, “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, “My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am?” When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.

Today, as I recall the loss of my own infant son, I think about the one person who did truly comfort me. She arrived at my house with a bottle of fine brandy and said, “This is everyone’s worst nightmare. I am so, so sorry this has happened.”

Then we sat on the lawn and she poured me a drink as she listened to every horrible detail.

As I look back now, I still feel how much her gesture helped me cope through those early days of pain. She didn’t try to fix me or try to make sense of what happened. She didn’t even try to comfort me. The comfort she gave came through her being in it with me.

You can’t fix what happened, but you can sit with someone, side by side, so they don’t feel quite so alone. That requires only intention, a willingness to feel awkward, and an open, listening heart. It’s the one gift that can make a difference.

 

About Linda
Linda Carroll was born in 1944 in San Francisco and adopted into an Italian Catholic family. Very early, she discovered poetry as a form of prayer and a window into an expanded life. In 1961, when Linda graduated from high school, San Francisco was already buzzing with counterculture music, arts, and style, and Linda found herself selling beads and going to peace marches.
After finishing her bachelors degree in Oregon in the seventies, she moved to New Zealand, where she raised children on an 86-acre sheep farm. She returned to Oregon in the eighties and received a masters in counseling, and began practicing as a therapist.
In the nineties, she and her veterinarian husband, Tim Barraud, began to teach a couples course based on the Imago work of Harville Hendrix, the PAIRS training of Dr. Laurie Gordon, and their own insights, study and practices. They continue to offer retreats and seminars all over the world; Linda’s third book, Love Cycles, newly published, is based on this work.
As an adult, Linda found her birth mother, the novelist Paula Fox, and began to understand her deep-seated love of poetry anew. In 2006, her memoir, Her Mother’s Daughter, was published by Doubleday. In 2008, Remember Who You Are was published by Conari Press.
Linda’s new book, Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love, is now available. Sign up for her mailing list to learn the latest news for this terrific book. And follow her on Facebook.
Linda has five children and ten grandchildren. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with her husband and three Jack Russells* and continues her lifelong path of spiritual seeking.

 


Spirit in the Sky

In wanting to pay tribute to a wonderful woman whom I barely got to know and her partner, Ed, I’m re-blogging his post.  This beautiful post reflects on love and loss, particularly to suicide.  But as you will see from the content, these issues are complicated and layered with many issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse and how it can steal one’s soul.  I’m proud of Ed Kurtz for loving her and having the courage and language to represent her with such sacred beauty.


Grieving out loud…

For those of you that can’t handle my extreme and unbridled rage right now, let this serve as a TRIGGER WARNING.  And here is a picture of a bunny to give you the opportunity to get the heck out of here.

Hey, I'm a hot mess, time to scramble...

Hey, I’m a hot mess, time to scramble…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the rant begin.  This moment, right now, I’m furious.  I’ve snapped with grief and I’m tired and exhausted and insulted and unwilling to hold it in any longer. The music is on full blast with Janis Joplin screaming I’ll say come on, come on, come on, come on and take it!
Take it!
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby.
Oh, oh, break it!
Break another little bit of my heart now

I’ve cleaned and cried and smoked cigarettes as I look at my home that I’ve finally decided has to be divided.  How the hell did I get here?  Did I not try hard enough?  Did I not bleed enough for this relationship?  When did my beloved home turn into a cold gilded cage?  Where are my plants going to live now?  The wisteria planted in the early days of love that is deeply intertwined among the trellis and surrounding trees, how do I tell it to unwind, that there is no place for it here now?

I’m full of rage as I look at the items deciding what’s mine and what’s his.  I hate his socks right now.  They are everywhere, haunting me from the place where they were discarded at the foot of the couch for an intimate moment.  His socks are mocking me.  I still love, he doesn’t.

I’m seething at any person, at any time, for any reason has questioned my sanity.  My brain, while different and reacting unlike normal people (whoever the fuck they are) is not crazy.  It was changed.  It was changed as a child when my father and my uncles for numerous years raped the children in my family.  They forever and permanently changed the way that I see the world and severely limited my ability to trust.  But they never stole my ability to love because that I do fiercely, deeply and with loyalty to a fault. But back to crazy, I’m not.  And I’m fucking tired of folks too ignorant and lazy to become informed before slicing me and other survivors open with insane stupid comments and blatant arrogance that you know better.  You don’t.

And by the way, disassociation is a thing. A real fucking thing.  It happens because its the wondrous coping mechanism of the human under attack.  When the pain becomes too traumatic, too difficult, too much for tiny little children’s minds to process, it splits.  Bam, just like that.  You go somewhere else, someplace safer than the place you are in where your uncle is raping you at gunpoint. And guess what, when you’re gone, you’re gone.  And to the major asshole who said that my disassociative episodes were a ploy for attention, well simply put, go fuck yourself.  You speak with ignorance and venom.  Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I try and try and then I fucking try some more to be the best, intact, whole person I can be given my history.  To say anything less than that of me is cruel and unforgivable.

No, I’m not done yet, there’s more. I’m enraged at any person, for any reason who turns a blind eye to pain.  This happens in so many ways; through denial of wanting to acknowledge a person’s pain, therefore maybe having to deal with it OR being frustrated that said person struggles a lot so you offer a platitude in order to get the hell away from this person you’ve judged as insane.  Again, look at the above bunny and leave me the hell alone.  You don’t have to hurt me just to get a safe distance away.  I get it, of all people I understand that this is tough fucking shit and not everyone has the stomach for it.  BUT…there’s always the option of offering love and leaving anyway.  Bottom line, I’m left here to deal with this confusing mess of neurons on a daily basis and it’s no walk in the park. It takes hourly awareness and diligent practice to stay centered and even heal from these traumas.  Don’t add to them.  And especially don’t pretend it’s in the name of love.  I’m calling bullshit on that one.

While I’m ranting, I may as well cuss the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture drugs to make lots of money that are prescribed by asshole doctors.  My anti-depressants are giving me such incredible suicide ideation that the ideation is now taking form and making a plan.  And getting off this shit is a bitch.  Again, another mind-bending bitch to contend with.  And yes, suicide ideation and self harm is a real thing too.  It’s not just words that we in a secret meeting of the I’ve-been-molested club got together and invented.  These are real psychological phenomena.  Google it, you’ll see.  We don’t just get up in the morning, feed the dogs, have a cup of coffee and say “I think I’ll go slice on myself today and maybe for fun, I’ll go sit in the garage with the car running and see how fast I’ll puff up from carbon monoxide”.   But seriously, people talk to us as if we do this self-loathing, self-harming shit for attention.  Really?  Do you really believe that I’d prefer that method of coping to say…. working at the dog rescue shelter or taking some flowers to the old ladies at the nursing home?  If you believe that, you need a quick reality check and a good therapist.

The rant winds down here.  Be kind, everyone is struggling.  If you don’t know how to help and you want to, ask.  It’s that simple.  Is there anything I can do to help?  If you don’t care or are just socially awkward, flash a peace sign, say Kumbaya my Lord or offer a hug.  If you don’t have more, that’s fine but if you think you can fake concern, use condescension or just toss a crappy cliche’ toward me, you’re wrong.  Because here’s the other thing that develops in survivors as we are fending off our nasty fathers and uncles, we became ultra-sensitive.  I’m talking over-the-top, can practically read-your-feelings-without-you-knowing-it, living and floating in an emotional bizarre dimension that few know anything about.  We know when you’re lying and we know when you’re trying to be cruel.

End of rant.  For those who stuck around to the end, well, thanks.  You’re tougher than most.  For those who didn’t stay, block me on FB and have a good life. Kumbaya.

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The Familiar Pain

It is a brave woman that can sit with her pain. Sometimes it seems as if that’s all I do. But I will trust you on this and feel the hope again.

Beating Trauma

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*If you are sick and tired of hearing people tell you to “put the past behind you” or “get over it” or “move on with your life already”, I want to ensure you that this is not the message of this post.

Today, I had a small epiphany. I was thinking about what life would be like if I wasn’t sad, if I no longer carried the pain with me. In that moment, I felt a twinge of sadness about not being sad. I felt grief about living life without pain. I felt fearful about living with the faith necessary to open up my life. It was as if I might be saying goodbye to a long-term relationship, a dysfunctional relationship, but a relationship nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the pain. I push through it. I will my way through life with gusto despite it. I want…

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Ferguson is on my mind…

be kindI’m not adding much to this post that I borrowed from my friend, Phyllis. She summarizes succintly what many of us in the Ferguson area are feeling these days.  Just the word “Ferguson” commands many images to mind as it’s become a constant loop of details and speculations, hatred and violence, grief and turmoil.  The subject has dominated most of my Thanksgiving gatherings, brief conversations in the hallway outside of a classroom, sermons at church, in line at the grocery store.  It has already divided friends and families, co-workers, teachers and students.

We are each processing the trauma in our own ways.  Some will protest. Some will pray. Some will stick to narrow minded views.  Some will deny the problem.  The evening before Thanksgiving, while shopping for last minute grocery items, I physically stood between an irate, shouting older man and a car full of teenagers who’d been vying for the same parking space.  What came out of my mouth straight from my heart was a simple series of NO’s….no, no, no, no…no more.  It was my moment of standing up to Michael Brown and saying NO, stop what you’re doing and go home.  It was me telling Officer Wilson NO, drive away from the boys and let it go.  It was my own sick worry about my own child coming out as NO, we can’t hurt people anymore…stop now…NO, please, NO. 

I pray often for the families involved in these conflicts. I send them as much love and healing energy as I can. I do what I can each day to walk through life with as much love in my heart.  We are all affected as we are all connected.

Please be kind.

Please be gentle.

Please be patient.

Please be compassionate.

 

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From Phyllis Stein, PhD., Associate Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine

Ferguson is on my mind. For those of you who do not live in Saint Louis, Ferguson is the name of part of the patchwork of communities that surround Saint Louis, literally part of a patchwork quilt, this one called North County, no real separation from one town to another even though they have separate police forces and local governments. I live in the village of Bel Nor (pop about 1500, area about 400 acres), another of the continuous towns in North County. The effect of the events Ferguson has been an abstraction for me, even though it is only 3.6 miles from here and even though I have had direct contact with people who are involved.

Yesterday the protesters shut down some local shopping malls, including the Galleria, a large indoor mall, good for walking. It had opened again for a couple of hours when a friend and I decided to go there to take a walk.

I have never felt anything like this at the Galleria. The energy of the mall was so “off” and people were both tense and exhausted. But the reason that I am sharing this was that I could feel the intense hostility and distrust coming from almost every African-American there. As we walked, I made eye contact with one young man, and saw hatred and rage coming back from his eyes. It was a shock, and I understood, viscerally, for the first time, the massive nervous system dysregulation and ongoing trauma that has been triggered by what happened and by all of the ways that these events got amplified and fed back by different people with their own agendas and their own trauma filters.

Maybe this is a long way to say that I really “got” how much it is going to take to come back to any sort of regulation for all the people who were so strongly affected and maybe how little the goals and actions of those who are involved are informed by a true desire to bring the world to a more healed place.

You can find Phyllis’s blog here.

 

 


My ‘Naked’ Truth by Robin Korth

Today I felt compelled to share this story. I share it as a 57 year old woman who wants to challenge the belief system of women, beauty, aging. Hats off to Robin for her naked and vulnerable story. Enjoy this article as I have and vow to continue to love ourselves fearlessly and to teach our daughters and future generations of women to do the same.

Kindness Blog

My ‘Naked’ Truth by Robin Korth

Robin Korth

Naked, I stood at the closet doors with the lights on and made myself ready. I took a deep breath and positioned the mirrors so I could see all of me. I consciously worked to remove my self-believed inner image. I opened my eyes and looked very carefully at my body. And my heart lurched at the truth: I am not a young woman anymore. I am a woman well-lived. My body tells of all the years she has carried my spirit through life.

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and…

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Robin Williams Lived

There by the grace of God go I….this could have been me, this is me. By posting this article, I reach out my hand to another person with mental illness, a brain disorder, trauma or depression. It’s time we make our families and neighbors talk to us. We won’t survive in silence.

Please take my hand and hold on,  stay with us. If you can, please stay.

We can share this together, the dark and the light, eventually circling the world with love and the new definition of who we are.

We will circle the world until we are whole and dancing again.

Sarah Griffith Lund

Robin Williams lived a life that brought laughter and joy to millions through his comedy and acting.

He died at his home from suicide on Monday, August 11, 2014, at the age 63. He battled a brain disease that included severe depression. Even with treatment, support from loved ones, and a successful career, mental illness still can be a deadly disease, especially when paired with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

I remember when I first learned that Robin Williams had a mental illness and I was encouraged by his openness. I loved his work in Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, and his role as Mork from Mork and Mindy. My favorite work of his was stand-up comedy.

He had a brilliant brain. And he had a brain with a disease. He richly blessed us with his life.

May all of us find ways today…

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what it takes to start writing….again

1604885_10152130171577702_1009583295_nSomewhere around the end of last year, right around the holidays, the bottom fell out of my world. Emotionally, spiritually, physically.  Actually, it had been falling out for over a year but the accumulated stress hadn’t taken its final blow.

It wasn’t the first time or the second but what felt like the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time.  All my coping skills had been used over the last year surviving several huge hurdles and I now found myself with what felt like an empty bag of tricks.

The number of times I’ve bottomed out or the trauma of my childhood isn’t the point of this blog post, its about what I did in that situation.  What I did was succumb. Psychically unplugged from life.  Flat. out. gave. up.  It had won.  I just couldn’t pull myself up one more freakin’ time to stare down the demons again and again and again.  Wouldn’t do it for my daughter, my husband and or for my dogs, which if you knew me is saying a lot.  

After limping through the holidays on about 25% of myself, the final layer peeled off in early January and took my physical health with it.  For months I was gone.  Lost in that circular, downward spiraling, free falling haze.  The demons recognized its frazzled, stressed out host with parasitic vigor.  They seized that opportunity to invade my body with long buried memories of abuse and violence.  They haunted my dreams, robbing me of much needed rest to heal and recover.  They invaded and eroded my skin, giving me huge welts across the backs of my legs reminiscent of beatings with the belt.   My skin itched and burned at the slightest touch, wearing clothes or any contact with a piece of furniture was a challenge.  I lost the ability to be comfortable in my own skin.  I had no where to go.

But mostly, they intruded upon my feminine parts with a vengeance.  The little girl parts that took the abuse, tried to adapt and scar over, the parts that became swollen almost beyond recognition, the parts that tried and tried to stretch but couldn’t….eventually giving way to rips and shreds.  Those parts were the target again.  What the little child couldn’t tolerate at that time, she buried deep and then systematically began to hand back to the adult woman in bits and pieces over the years.  Somewhere in our collective unconscious, we must have bargained. I must have made a deal with her that if she survived the early trauma through whatever means she needed to, then I, the adult, would deal with the suppressed memories and physical sensations later.

And that is what happened.  For weeks turned into months, I rode the edge of the razor’s split.  Burning, stabbing, swelling, searing pain.  Urinary, vaginal, rectal.  My every orifice that was violated contained sensations that rose to the surface.  Over and over and over and over.  The cascade of symptoms was never ending. Urinary swelling turned into infection which spread to my bladder and kidneys.  More crying and screaming than my husband could handle.

Eventually by late Feb, the symptoms began to subside a bit thanks to Marilyn and Betsy, two women energy healers who encouraged and tolerated appointments with me; half dressed in nightshirts due to my sensitive skin and sporting ice packs for my swollen parts.  Week after week, they lovingly helped me on the table and began to spin their healing magic.  We began to make progress that continues at this writing.

That’s the backstory, here’s the point.

What it takes to get writing…. again….is LOVE.  Four women emerged as a cosmic lifeline who carrying me out of the physical and emotional pain.  Four women who I’d come to know online but never met, shared many conversations with over the years, created a small online support group for me.  Just for me.  Each day and often several times a day, I’d come to the group page to see beautiful images, unfailing words of support and love as well as space just to let me be.  It was beautiful.  I nicknamed them the “Fabulous Four” because I’m not sure I would have emerged from those dark depths without having these angels to carry me.  And I’m coming up short with words to describe how it feels to be loved and cared for with this level of compassion, especially when one isn’t familiar with that level of support.  Again, it was just beautiful.

As I plunged to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my writing and words died.  It was impossible to write, think straight of have any type of creativity when coping with issues of basic survival such as pain.  The bottom and largest portion of Maslow’s pyramid describes needs such as breathing, food, water, sleep.  He suggests that one must be secure in the basic needs before being able to move up the hierarchy.  Creativity is characteristic of the very tip-top of the pyramid and during this health crisis, far beyond my reach.

So, this is my debut….again.  I have scaled the pyramid with the LOVE and support of four extraordinary women as well as my energy practitioners.  My words are coming back as the crisis fades.  I see hope again and crave being present on this blog and with my sojourners in healing.  I’m confident that many more layers of the health crisis will be revealed when the time is right. As the accompanying image depicts, not only have I been lifted from the level of most basic needs, I’ve been infused with the energy of a Goddess-Priestess-Warrior vibe.  The power of our hearts beating in unison, multiplied.  I stand at the top of the pyramid with my arms wide open.  I feel my power again. 

Blessings to the women of Sacred Circle Retreats:  Jackie,  Melynnda,  Joss and  Deanne.  May we nourish the Divine Feminine in each other. 

Photo credit, used with permission from Sarah Durham Wilson, DOITGIRL .


Identity Disturbance…

Identity Disturbance is a relatively and equally fascinating new term to me and since I haven’t researched it to my satisfaction to be able to write about it, I thought I would begin here by re-blogging this article from The Bernard Bert-A Borderline Adventure.  This author did a great job of streamlining and breaking down the components of this condition.  Hoping this continues to shed some light on the many shades of mental illness and reduce the stigma attached.~~Thanks!  Little L~~

broken heart

 

Identity Disturbance, November14, 2013

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.

“Identity disturbance has many different aspects/features making it a very complexed issue even if it is a lone problem, but with the added factor of other BPD symptoms, it can be an overwhelming and complicated thing to understand and deal with!

In a 2000 study of patients with identity disturbances, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, and Drew Westen identified four types of identity disturbance:

Role absorption (in which patients tend to define themselves in terms of a single role or cause),

Painful incoherence (a subjective sense of lack of coherence),

Inconsistency (in thought, feeling, and behavior),

Lack of commitment (e.g., to jobs or values).

A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future.Identity is quite broad, and includes many aspects of the self and is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles.

A healthy identity includes the ability to choose an appropriate avenue for industry, achieve intimacy with another, and find a place in the larger society by having developed a sense of continuity over time; emotional commitment to a set of self-defining representations of self, role relationships,and core values and ideal self-standards;development or acceptance of a world view that gives life meaning; and some recognition of one’s place in the world by significant others.

“Who are you?”  – If asked this question, many people with BPD would be unable to answer and will only be able to reply with – “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure” or “It depends on who I’m with.”  This uncertinaty makes them feel empty and lost, confused and lonely.

Considering that identity is comprised of stability, continuity, understanding and acceptance of ones self over time, it is painfully obvious to see why this doesn’t happen in the self identity of someone with BPD.Nothing is stable, everything is changing and totally reactive; all that is left is a fragmented self left with a chronic feeling of inner emptiness caused by the inability to integrate into a coherent sense of self identity.

These unanticipated changes can range from relatively minor things, such as changes in appearance, to aspects central to the life of the individual, such as gender, sexuality and life goals.

People with Identity disturbance may experience:

Experiencing frequent changes in sense of self-worth.

Difficulty committing to roles and occupational choices.

Feeling conflicted or unsure about own gender or sexuality.

Feels as though he or she is a different person depending on who they are with.

Does not know who own self is.

Tends to feel empty inside – hollow, something ‘missing’ and a desire to fill the void.

Who they would like to be are unstable and ever changing.

Views & feelings of self change rapidly or unpredictably .

Has memories only available under certain states sometimes feels unreal.

Tends to feel like a “false self” whose social persona does not match inner experience.

Some of the noticeable changes for those who know the person with the identity issue are:

Lack of consistently invested goals, values, ideals, and relationships.

Their personality changes dramatically periodically.

They are “chameleon-like” depending on who they are with.

Values tend to change frequently / does not seem to have a constant set of core values.

Difficulty choosing and committing to an occupation.

Beliefs,actions and behaviors often seem contradictory.

Has trouble committing to long-term goals or aspirations.

As a way to ‘fit in’ they may:

Identity seems to revolve around a “cause” or shifting causes.Defines self in terms of a label that provides a sense of identity.Depend on relationship to a charismatic other. Tends to be in the orbit of a strong personality.People with BPD can be very “chameleon-like” in an effort to integrate.

The tendency to confuse one’s own attributes, feelings,and desires with those of another person, especially in intimate relationships, means that when a breakdown in a relationship occurs it can lead the person with BPD to fear a loss of personal identity.

The large inconsistencies in behavior,over time and across situations, lead to difficulty integrating multiple representations of self, a lack of a coherent life narrative or sense of continuity over time;and a lack of continuity of relationships that leaves significant parts of the BPD’s past “deposited” with people who are no longer part of the individuals life , and hence the loss of shared memories that help define the self over time.

One contributing factor to borderline identity disturbance is dissociation.  When we compartmentalize our experiences rather than integrating them into one meaningful whole, our sense of self fragments causing  us to feel lost, empty, and confused.

As this empty feeling and loss of inner self becomes more problematic and chronic (in some cases) a refuge world or fantasy self can at times take the stage by means of dissociation from the painful reality the BPD is forced to live in if they remain in their current state consciousness/awareness – making it similar but not the same as DID  – Key points of difference are that those who suffer DID (dissociative identity disorder) usually remain unaware of their other fragmented selves (referred to as alters) which are more concrete, unique individuals, accompanied by blacked out memories/loss of time, whereas BPD’s remain more coherent through their changes in persona.

Identity disturbances in individuals with BPD usually reflect efforts to preserve a sense of self-worth in the presence of interpersonal turmoil.

Because of the inconsistencies in what the person with BPD is doing and saying, non BPD’s may accuse them of “faking it” “Lying” or “putting it on” but this really isn’t the case, they just may not be aware of it and by saying these things to them may actually hinder their progress in changing thier behaviour by making them doubt themselves,their worth and their relationship with you and others.

Other issues that may arise are eating disorders, substance misuse or reckless/impulsive behaviours, (these may also a seperate issue for people with BPD regardless of whether or not the have identity disturbance); all which may feel like a form of control over their lives that they are lacking in other areas.

If you have the associated,emotional instability,impulsive behaviour and black and white thinking of BPD you may have difficulty forming a coherent sense of self because your internal experiences and outward actions are not consistent. In addition, many people with BPD come from chaotic or abusive backgrounds which may contribute to unstable sense of self. If you determine who you are based on others’ reactions to you, and those reactions have been unpredictable and/or scary, you have no framework for developing a strong sense of identity.

However, it’s not all bad, on the positive side of things not knowing who you are allows you to start from scratch, experiment, explore and to build yourself up into the person you want to be!

So how do we tackle this issue and find out who we are?

Treatment/therapy with a trained professional is the most highly recommended way to deal with these issues as they can help to guide you through the process of self discovery; but there are also things you can do yourself too.

One way is by observing your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, in addition to others’ reactions to you.

Questions and reflection on things like:

How do I want to be seen by others?

What are the things most imporant to me?

Who do I admire and what positive traits do they possess that I respect and could incorperate into my own life?

What am I passionate about?

What talents/attributes do I have?

Another way is to try and work out which areas you would like/need to focus on by writing a list which includes:

Intimate

Relationships

Parenting

Family

Friendships/Socializing

Education/Personal

GrowthCareer

Recreation

Spirituality/Religion

Physical Health

Helping Others

Goals

Values

How would you like to act/react to each section? What can you do to make this possible?

These are the things that help to give us identity and allow us to form a more stable sense of self. Due to the complexity of the issue, the road to ‘finding yourself’ is a life long journey of discovery and one which may take you to some upexpected, intense and even pleasurable places emotionally!

No one can tell you who you are, they can discribe you but ultimatly it is up to you, you are the one who can make the changes, the one who can decide as to how you act and what you believe and stand for.  Who/whatever you decide to be/do, remember that you are worthy of love, to be treated with respect and to live a life that you want and deserve.

I hope that this helps explain a little of what and why we feel this way and, fingers crossed, we can start to finally build the jig-saw of ourselves that has been in so many pieces for so long! ~ Emma.”

The Bernard Bert

 


Make BPD Stigma-Free! words of poetry…..

There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness~Rumi~

 

 

This post is about highlighting the work of a woman who is making it her mission to dispel the myths surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder as well as mental health issues in general.  I find most everything she writes about spot on as far as the struggles the traumatized face in their journey to become whole.  Joyce maintains a blog, Make BPD Stigma-Free!  on WordPress as well as a Facebook page.  It is worth taking a look-see if you or someone you love fights the good fight against mental illness.

And I would encourage readers to take this one step further.  Look deep into these words.  Try to see past the fear you may feel when reading such powerful messages from a dark place within a person.  See if you can connect with their fears, desperation to express and be heard, deepest desires to be whole and worthy.  I believe we can begin to work past our fears of mental illness and all its implications by reading poetry such as Joyce’s.  Inside, there is a beautiful being speaking some tough but enlightening truths.  If you can get past those fears, see the traumatized person with love, the outcome can be the highest expression of divine compassion.

*****

Every morning, I put on my armour,

To protect me from their poisoned tongues,

Each arrow pierces my soul,

 

With each one I die a little more each day,

How much dying can one take till they are truly dead?

 

I am not full of life,

I am not dead,

I am numb and feel nothing.

I am past feeling the pain,

Eventually you don’t feel anymore.

 

How does one feel so hollow, so empty?

A shell of a person?

 

How do you get past pain to nothingness?

How do you feel less than nothing?

 

What a curse it is,

To take on the world’s pain upon your shoulders,

Their anger, their fear,

 

To feel the darkness of a million souls,

All screaming in your head,

And filling your heart.

 

To feel it as your own.

 

And you can never stop the floodgate of emotions that wash over you,

Consuming you,

Draining you.

 

Dragon flames licking at your heels,

As you try to climb out of the hell that’s your life,

Only to be pulled back by your demons to be tortured anew,

When will it end?


– By Joyce Savage.


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