Into the mirror

To the girl I ruthlessly harmed,
Both physically and mentally –
Please find it in your heart
To forgive me.

To the girl I told wasn’t good enough
Over and over,
Please find it in your heart
To let go of the pain.

I was hurting
So I hurt you,
Hoping for relief.

I should have been there for you.
I shouldn’t have let you go through it alone.
I am sorry.

Constructively criticizing a friend

A true friend is someone who has your best interests in mind. A true friend is NOT someone who tells you what you want to hear all the time and sugarcoats everything. A true friend is NOT someone who tiptoes around you, always afraid of offending.

Susan was someone who believed everything should always be butterflies and rainbows. She hated conflict, and avoided confrontation at all costs. Dana considered Susan to be her best friend. Sometimes Susan would get on Dana’s nerves. She would avoid any confrontations and always changed the subject when Dana wished to speak about more serious topics. Whenever things didn’t go her way, she would avoid anyone and everyone who she felt was being unfair to her and wouldn’t talk to them at all. One day, Dana became fed up and spoke to Susan about this. Susan clammed up, and rejected Dana from her life. She claimed that she was “practicing self care” by rejecting a toxic friend like Dana from her life.

This is not an example of a friend being bullied by another. This is an example of someone trying to be a good friend, and having that sentiment taken the wrong way. Now, with Susan’s refusal to communicate, this could lead to the loss of the two’s friendship.

As long as you are not relentlessly putting down another person and you have the best intentions in mind, you have every right to voice your concerns if they are directly involving you or your relationship with the person. Do not feel like a bully or a bad person for honoring your own frustrations and issues with your friend. Be true to yourself. If you would want a friend to point out their concerns when they came up, then it is not wrong for you to do this to another friend.

Lack of good, constructive communication destroys relationships. Remember this.

Vulnerability factors

I am doing research abroad for half a year and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. I left all the bad memories and baggage at home and have started over. I know this is only temporary and I will return, but I do think that I will be more at peace when I return home.

Since I arrived here, I have been happy and there has been no need for me to practice my DBT skills. After a few bumps in the road including a misunderstanding with a friend, I had some reality slapped back into me. Even when I am doing well, I still need to practice those skills. Even when I feel like I am at peace and I am “cured”, I still need to have those coping mechanisms in my back pocket.

Now I’m getting very busy with my project, and I need to take care of those pesky vulnerability factors again. For me, I need to focus on 1) eating; 2) sleeping; 3) moderate caffeine consumption; and 4) staying hydrated. Sometimes it is not possible to eat regularly with the nature of my work, and at the end of the day I feel really awful and hopeless. But all I need to do is have a good meal.

BPD is almost embarrassing in that way. Not only do I react enormously to the smallest social interactions, but I also am very sensitive to things like hunger and sleep deprivation. I joke about how “hangry” I get, but it’s something that I actually feel quite embarrassed about. Like most things regarding my emotions, the difference in my affect is like night and day.

This is something I need to be very careful of. I don’t always feel an intense urge to hurt myself, but there are little things. I don’t care about my well-being. It’s a slippery slope.

Psychosis 

Possible trigger warning – painful imagery, descriptions of injury

I was riding in the car with my family on our way to a Sunday lunch. As far as I can recall everything was fine. That’s when it hit me. I had never felt so ashamed and abnormal. I felt like a freak.

A thought crossed my mind, completely randomly. You know the feeling of having a papercut? I can’t describe it because that means I need to think about it – but I’m sure everyone’s experienced one. I thought about a papercut, but across my eyes. I winced and closed my eyes.

It was like intrusive thoughts on steroids. It kept attacking me. In mindfulness, we are told to accept these thoughts and let them pass, but these thoughts were different. I could actually feel it. I could sense the pain and felt the recoil and response a body would have to being cut.

The thought of cutting my face and small cuts against my eyes kept appearing in my brain and I felt every single sensation. When I closed my eyes, I felt something pierce through my eyelids into my eyes.

My dad stopped the car, and my mom took my sisters into the restaurant. I was sobbing and screaming, “make it stop, make them go away!” When the thoughts passed for a while, my dad and I joined the rest of my family. The thought would come in and I would shudder and wince very obviously. I must have looked insane. I felt insane. I was insane.

I ran back to the car early so I could curl into a ball. I screamed and yelled but it wouldn’t stop. How do you make something go away that is in your head? How do you get away? You can’t.

This went on for 3 days. That’s not very long, but it felt like an eternity. Was I ever going to be normal again? My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept clutching and scratching at my face, trying to get the sensation of blades running across my face off. When my hands went to close to my face, I felt the sharp burning across my hands, so I recoiled. I was banging my head against walls. I was pacing in circles squeezing and hitting my head with my hands. I was humming loudly so my brain would register another sense besides pain.

All those horrible depictions of mental illness and psychosis you see on tv was my reality for those few days. You see people screaming and hitting themselves and scratching away at their face and it’s horrifying. You think it’s horrifying to watch? It’s even more horrifying to experience.

It hasn’t happened again since, but now I have a wider understanding of what others may go through. I can’t imagine going through that every single day. I don’t think anyone could.

I always say this: people with mental illnesses are having normal reactions to an abnormal situation. If any “normal” person was hearing voices, feeling sensations that weren’t there, or having visual hallucinations, I don’t think they’d fare too well either.