Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14 - 21st, 2010

THIS WEEK: I was thinking on how likely BPD or BP sufferers have high conflict relationships and that the day today was Valentine's day and although I personally do not celebrate this day, many of you do. Not only do many of you celebrate it, there is a greater chance that this holiday, perhaps others as well, is a source of anxiety and pain. My hope of course is that for many this day was not disappointing. However, chances are if this one wasn't that past ones have, perhaps other holiday's you are left feeling lonely. I can speak from experience that loneliness isn't the only emotion that crops up. Rejection, disloyal, fear, frustration, over-all a broken heart. Not a broken heart like the fairy tales would have you feeling when you don't get that special guy or girl, rather broken hearted because you and your mate have relentlessly fought again. Broken hearted because that certain conflict has wreaked havoc on your day or week. Broken hearted because yet another relationship has disintegrated because of your ineffective living.

Living with a mental illness is overwhelming and trying when it is just yourself that you are making decisions for, but add a mate and children and the fears and anxiety become much more intense. BPD consumers have an intense difficulty forming bonds, making it extremely hard for strong, stable relationships to form. When children are born to these persons, their difficulty bonding presents a new challenge. The intense mood swings and their rapid occurences can make maintaining a relationship very trying. Of course all of these challenges are workable, just because we have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder does not mean we cannot have a family. It just means that we must work harder than those without mental illness. Bi-polar consumers have their set of unique challenges when working for a happy family as well. Their appearance of mental stability can be frighteningly shattered with an unexpected manic episode ravages them, leaving the mate fearful and disappointed.

You see, the sadness and frustration of this holiday or others, doesn't come from him or her not doing what you had expected or a mate being forgetful of the day (well, in most cases it isn't these things anyways, I am sure there are some forgetful mates! :) The true sadness and frustration comes when you and your mate are not able navigate your disabilities with much success. I wanted to spend some time today to reiterate this because I know that at times I feel like if a need of mine is not being met, my brain automatically starts the spiral of shameful thinking, that I do not deserve this or that, or if only I was better would my mate be able to provide this or that. As that may be true in some degree, it is not a true line of thought. No amount of you being 'better' will make Valentine's day a better day for you. No amount of not deserving of something is going to improve the loneliness that we find ourselves having. The reality of the matter is this, as soon as we are able to live a life worth living, a truly effective life, only then can we expect to have a happy, successful relationship and family.

The majority of sufferers are already in relationships, quite a few of those relationships are with children as well. For those of us, we aren't able to say, "Ok, I will learn what an effective life is, I will learn what a life worth living looks like for me and then I will take another crack at this whole relationship thing" No, for a lot of us, we are already in a relationship, we may already have children. There is no pause button for children. They grow up with or without your knowing what a life worth living looks like for you. They grow up, whether your Valentine's day was a success or whether it was tragic, a lot of you still have relationships and you still have children. So the idea here is to take that 'pause' to get a hold of what that effective life is, and all the while still be on your game so you do not miss your mates needs and you do not miss your children's needs.

That is why we are working so hard with forms of therapy, like DBT. That is why all of you are reading this, why you are working hard and practicing what you are learning, applying it into your lives, so that the frustration, let-downs, and pain that you experience with forming and maintaining relationships isn't some sob story you tell when someone asks how your Valentine's day went. No, rather you will be able to know with confidence that this goes far beyond a holiday and you will have confidence that you, your mate and your children are experiencing the best relationship they can with you. For those that do not have those mates or kids, you will be confident that you will be very capable when they come along, because you have worked hard at being the most effective you.

I wanted to go over these ideas as a refresher for us all, a reminder as to why we are doing all of this, so that you can be the best of you! When you are the best of yourself, you can offer the best to a mate and children, therefore you can get the best back out of the relationship. The good news all of you are on that track right now, you are learning. Learning goes a long way.

THIS WEEK: Take a serious look at how you can improve the way you treat yourself. Make a list, what can you do to improve the way you act towards yourself? Perhaps you can give yourself an extra 15 mins in the morning to ready yourself for the day. Take an extra long shower, or even a bath. Maybe you could dress-up a little more each day, just to get yourself to feel better about yourself. Make this list, and do one thing for just yourself each day. We want to build a really positive feeling towards yourself. We want to stir up positive feelings, positive experiences, if we generate more positives then you have more positives to give out too.

Let's hear from you, tell us some of the things that you have committed to doing for yourself this week!

MJ