Thursday, 6 April 2017

It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it

My feelings are really testing me today. Another restless night, sitting on suppressed feelings. The emotions start to become conflicted and lost in moments of being over whelmed. People truly believe others can control their reactions to things that impact them negatively. This is where people misunderstand the inner monologue of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. If triggered into an episode, during the moment of the episode, people with BPD cannot control their reactions. Some people in recovery can and have undergone intense DBT therapy. It takes ongoing treatment for someone with BPD to master their reactions towards distress. 

We choose to let people into our worlds, that is a choice. We let people in with hope that one of them (wether it be romantically or a close friendship), will be able to understand the way we react to things that hurt, wether they seem big or small. You cannot dictate how other people are feeling. you can ask ways to help support them through the emotional storm, but you cannot judge someone for the way they emotionally react to things, and you cannot assume the person who is reacting in the way they are is doing this out of malice. 

Just say you have a friend called John who has just entered a relationship with a girl called Cathy who has a diagnosis of BPD. John really likes Cathy (or so it seems). Cathy has approached the connection they have level headed as she believes John understands her. They become closer over time. John leads her into a false sense of security as his own emotions are also over whelming him. John and Cathy are now in conflict as John is confused about how he feels towards her. Cathy all this time has been very articulate with her feelings and emotions towards John. Cathy starts to become triggered as her BPD symptoms start to surface (hopelessness, emptiness, feelings of unworthiness, over whelming emotions she is now struggling to regulate). John starts to push away as Cathy begins to start devaluing him due to viewing him being untrue to what he shows/felt. Cathy starts to become more triggered with John wanting to abandon her. 

As you can see, no one is at fault here. Cathy knows logically that John is allowed to leave a relationship. But its the emotional reaction that is causing Cathy despair and reaction. People with BPD are highly sensitive and their emotional IQ is something a lot of people dont hold. So Cathy is disappointed someone has left her again. What people dont seem to understand Cathy is now at war with herself and her emotional reactions. While most people who can regulate their emotions in distressing times seem to be able to cope and rationalise, its people like Cathy in that moment cannot, especially if she has never undergone DBT therapy or any therapy for that matter. Cathy doesn't have the coping skills to be able to calm her heighten emotional reaction to being hurt. Cathy's hurt is valid in every way as she was authentic and feels John was not. 

Cathy continues for months to try regulate her reactions towards John. She may be triggered by memories attached to John that can find her in that war again. Wether she is at home by herself and a certain song comes on. Cathy starts to cry but the crying isn't just a cry and move past. The crying becomes a war inside Cathy's head and heart. She knows she shouldn't be crying over someone who didn't want to be with her and who she gave a lot of her emotional energy to. Cathy then becomes over whelmed with anger because she is crying over something she logically knows she shouldn't have any feeling towards anymore. After an hour of crying, Cathy finds herself feeling empty. Then when Cathy finds herself feeling empty, she will resort to impulsive behaviour to make herself feel something again. If BPD is left untreated, this is the vicious cycle of emotions someone like Cathy faces on a regular basis. The emotions become so over bearing, it sends someone into a self harm episode to gain control of the emotions. 

This is just a small insight into the battle of emotions someone like myself face themselves with daily. I have to find healthy outlets to express the distress I am faced with when I am triggered or abandoned in certain situations. The sad thing is people tend to completely shut out someone who is in emotional distress after they have caused someone hurt, as they cant handle someone else's emotional reactions. These reactions can be defused if the other person could acknowledge the difficulty of emotional regulation for someone who has a diagnosis of BPD. Communication and gestures of care can really help someone with BPD. Unfortunately not everyone with a diagnosis of BPD can waltz in to a GP and get the help they need to manage on their own in emotional distressing times. With your help, you can help someone with BPD on the road to recovery by showing that compassion and understanding they truly deserve. 

I do believe despite a diagnosis, if someone hurts you, it is normal to react emotionally. It also depends on how much you felt for this person on a deep level. If someone hurts you, your feelings are valid. If no apology is followed, its normal to think that they dont care for your well being. All these emotions are normal. I do believe it takes years to master your emotional reactions. If you slip up a few times, then you can always keep learning in the process and start to realise a pattern over the years. If you have a diagnosis of BPD and your reactions are being misunderstood, you know at that moment in time you dont have a choice to the way you react to pain. No one gets to pigeon hole you for caring enough to react. 

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