What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me…)

They say you can’t love another until you learn to love yourself. In a way I think that’s true because low self esteem often means that love hasn’t been a familiar concept throughout their life. If you grow up seeing love around you then you are able to better understand it and are able to actually know what is love is and what isn’t. Children have the belief that their parents are infallible and will justify all they do as loving because they are the caregiver. It’s a natural instinct. Growing up, questioning certain actions can be hard and so the idea of love becomes distorted. Is love really what was around me or did I simply believe it was love because that was what I was supposed to think. 

I believe that the part of BPD that makes relationships hard is the fact that love has been so twisted that we’re never quite sure what’s love, what is sheer desperation and what may actually be abuse. Children are sponges, absorbing everything, good and bad and a confused child will always become a confused adult.

While I do love my husband, I believe that our ways of loving and what we feel is love are very different. We have both experienced love in different ways through our families in our early years and we build on that. Now that we are away from that we’re able to try and figure out together what love means and work on concepts that we may have wrongly picked up. Luckily for me, he has no trouble with seeing love as a positive thing whereas at times, the word love can strike fear into my heart. 

I’ve learnt that love means opening up and giving your whole self to another person which frankly, is the most terrify thing I can imagine. It’s a vulnerable place, being totally open. And with an identity crisis and low self esteem you can’t even open up to yourself let alone another human being. 

I may be only able to give so much but I can’t give what I don’t even know I have. More often than not, he will know more than I ever have to say out loud. 

So while my love may not be conventional, it is what I am able to give and what I am able to understand. Maybe one day I’ll get there, I’ll think “this is a new kind of love, a better kind of love” because hell sometimes the love my husband shows me can be scary because he’s so besotted and I just don’t understand how he does it. 

I guess the first step will be to learn to like myself. When I can finally open up to myself then maybe I’ll try moving onto the love stage.Then, I might just be able to remove the fear of falling madly, deeply without worrying that it might kill me.

2 years later.

So at the end of 2011 I wrote a post about my new medication. Now just over 2 years on I’ve started to realise how much more stable they have made me.

I was a real mess before I started taking Sertraline. Self harm was second nature and I remember the constant chest pain and nausea from anxiety. Daily life was horrible, I was in a state of panic all the time, It reduced me to tears daily. While, of course I’m not “fixed”, not having those pains and panic all the time has improved my ability to manage on a daily basis. There was never going to be a pill that would take it all away. All the pills can do is take away the things my brain is doing wrong chemically, it doesn’t change situation or thought process.

I used to break down at the smallest thing now I only crumble when any normal person would. I admit, yes, my emotions are still too much sometimes and my reactions are more extreme than others but at least I’m actually becoming extremely emotional when it’s natural too (death, illness etc) and not screaming in tears because Jordan isn’t home yet and I imagine he’s dead in an alley way.

I’m still struggling of course, I’m not a functioning member of society quite yet (unless you include the internet society) but getting here in the first place is a big deal. For some it may seem like nothing has changed and I haven’t moved anywhere but if I look back a few years where I was desperate to be sectioned so they could fix me because I was in so much agony, then I’m definitely in a new place.

I don’t feel so much like I’m crazy any more, I just feel like I need some help on my self esteem and intrusive thoughts. I need help with my thought processes and I need to find more things to love about life. I’m constantly trying to find a purpose when I’ve got nothing around me. So I’m looking more into social hobbies and places where I can feel like I belong. I have to create my own purpose. It’ll be hard but what’s harder is being unhappy. Being unhappy is draining and exhausting. Life won’t come to me, I have to find it myself. And it’s okay if I take a little longer because I’ve still got a lot of healing to do.

The Constant Identity Crisis

Identity Disturbance

Definition:

Identity Disturbance – A psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view

Who Are You Today?

Identity disturbances involve an illogical or incoherent, inconsistent pattern of thoughts and feelings which go beyond logical pessimism, low self-image or a negative outlook. People with an Identity Disturbance may frequently speak, think or act in ways which are contradictory, even to themselves. They may think their fabulous one day, and think nothing of themselves the next. Their actions or thoughts may flip from self-serving into self-effacing, or from healthy choices into self-destructive patterns for no apparent reason. They may excel in one activity and appear incompetent in another, or oscillate seasonally from energetic and enthusiastic to lethargic and withdrawn.

This arises partly because positive and negative thought patterns are not always based on facts. The human mind has an ability to simplify the complexity of the world with quick, emotional judgments about what we consider good and bad, desirable and undesirable. However, if a person’s emotional thoughts are not backed up by rational fact-based thoughts, this emotional “shorthand” can result in erroneous black and white thinking – known as splitting – which when applied to the self can lead to an inaccurate self-perception.
People who suffer from Personality Disorders are sometimes prone to think more emotionally than logically. This can lead to extreme emotional highs and lows in response to the natural ebb and flow of life’s circumstances, which can lead to make unsubstantiated, grandiose claims of superiority one day and self-condemning statements of worthlessness the next.

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

  1. Role absorption (in which patients tend to define themselves in terms of a single role or cause),
  2. Painful incoherence (a subjective sense of lack of coherence),
  3. Inconsistency (in thought, feeling, and behaviour),
  4. Lack of commitment (e.g., to jobs or values).

The researchers concluded that identity disturbance distinguishes patients with borderline personality disorder from other psychiatric patients and that it occurs in patients with BPD whether or not they have a history of being abused.

Source: Identity Disturbance in Borderline Personality Disorder: An Empirical Investigation by Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, A.B., and Drew Westen, Ph.D.

Sorry for the long explanation but I felt it was necessary. I wanted to explain what this looks like in real life.

I define myself by what my current infatuation is. Whether it be writing, a TV series or a celebrity. This definition makes me feel secure. To be able to label myself in a category with others makes me feel included and gives me a sense of being somebody.

It’s almost impossible for me to be entwined with more than one label at once because they can often clash. For example if I’m having a period of wanting to look feminine and ordinary then it can’t overlap with my tattoos and piercings. They have different personas that come out when I feel more of a want for one of them. And of course for some they can easily go together but for me, it’s about fitting one stereotype at a time. A crossover means I don’t fit in with either group. I’m glad for the personas that can go together because it allows me to feel comfortable being a few things at once and enjoying a few hobbies and ideas all together.

In the end I like all the things involved. I wouldn’t be something I wouldn’t want to be, it’s about things that socially don’t fit together and feeling uncomfortable trying to combine them. It’s about being liked.

It happens with values too. While the values themselves don’t disappear they come and go as my main goal. I may spend a whole month obsessing over animal rights and then after that you may see one post about it for a whole year. And in that time I’ll be engrossed in another campaign.

For me, it’s like turning up at a metal gig in a flowing flowery dress. While I love both, It’d just feel out of place.

I’m not quite sure how to have a stable identity because we all act a certain way around different groups of people and I especially notice is almost instantly. If I’ve just been at a family event I act like an adult, not because I have to but It just happens naturally, when I visit my parents then I automatically change myself into parent mode, I notice the change from relaxed to instantly aware and cautious. As soon as I walk through the front door from either of these instances I turn into child, I may run up the stairs and go and sit on Jordan’s lap and have a cuddle. It’s the ultimate comfort. We talk to each other in silly voices, joke around all the time and while I take on the role of parent at times it’s laid back parent. I do appreciate being able to be adult at times when with family as I feel respected but I am cautious not to slip in child mode so I’m not perceived as odd or laughed at. If I were alone I don’t even know how I would be. I’d probably be a complete mess of confusion. Not knowing how to act, dress or what to do. It’s the people around me that help me to stay stable even within many identities.

I love the seriousness of putting on an elegant dress and having natural make-up and the fun of wearing an Nightwish T shirt with jeans, black lipstick and too many piercings. It’s the ultimate contrast but I enjoy both, I never seem to see anyone who has both styles. Most people seem to have a style in what they like to wear, what kind of hobbies they may like but mine seem to contrast so much. I often wonder why people are stuck in one place. It seems so boring just being one person.