Category Archives: A Mother’s Love

Boundaries and Recovery

I had a revelation this morning as I was waking up, that wonderful place between sleep and wake, I love it there, I seem to get a lot of insight when I am listening.

I had been dreaming about an old boyfriend, and saw his disrespect for me, something that for me at the time was perfectly normal. In the dream, we had arranged to meet up after a party where we both were and all of a sudden some friends of his had turned up and he said sorry I am going with them……..not would you like to come nothing, I was  just dropped.  Somehow I just accepted it, just like I had accepted it most of my life.  Even though I was so angry inside I did not have the words to say how I felt and this is not ok, and I realised in that moment, this is where my addictions come in.  It was a real moment for me.  I would stuff the anger with booze, food and then become passive aggressive and as a child this is when I would self harm, I had no words to say this is not ok for me, they were buried way deep inside and for some reason they still are to a large extent.

I am realising this behaviour is a huge part of my depression and my mental ill health, I had no way of really understanding how to deal with this. No words. My parents were pretty unreliable, my father was busy working and often away and anytime I challenged my mother on her lateness, which was most of the time, she would always put it back onto me, saying something like ‘I am here now, what is your problem’ and I would be left with it.  Now I see the problem is she never called to say she was late, she just turned up and that was supposed to be ok, now I am seeing it is not ok, but all this time I have thought it was me and I have chosen so many people to replicate the same thing.

I am begining to realise the extent of my co-dependency, it is definately at the root of my addictions.  I am only now getting to see my part in things, my part is not putting up with it, setting boundaries and if necessary walking away.  I realise that, as I said to a friend of mine, we teach people how to treat us, if we respect ourselves then they will, it has taken me years to really understand these words and for them to go from my head to my heart.

I am finally learning a language that I lost.  I would blame others for treating me like shit, I had no idea I let them.  And likewise, others would blame me for treating them like shit and I would take it on, they would blame me for treading over their boundaries, I did not know they were there, they never told me.  I feel I have had a great epiphany this morning and I want to share it with you, I think the world is going to become a much easier place for me as I am learning that maybe, just maybe all that shit was not mine, I could have said not thanks, please take it elsewhere, this public convenience is actually closed.

Writings for my Mother

Day 14.

Tick by tick, drip by drip our life unfolds

It unravels before my very eyes and I am left here, starting at you, wondering why?

I reach to touch your hand, it feels so odd and I don’t understand, but I have never held it.

I go to stroke your hair and hope to God you are still there, and I am left cold.

Some days I am numb, some days I am warm, some days I can barely cope with the pain.

The pain that I may never see you again, the pain that you will never hold me, and the pain that in-spite of all this, I still have hope.

The pain that for the past year I have challenged you, cried in front of you and begged you to show me you care.

I counted the days, one by one, to see how long it was before you called.

My therapist told me to let you go, that you would never come through for me,

Somehow, I could not.

I never gave up on the fact, that one day, just one day, I may get a glimpse of love, a shard of light that actually you care.

The little girl inside of me, is still screaming out for her mummy, and I am so happy that finally she has a voice.  She is still there and no longer hidden behind the perspects wall when all she could do was stare.

Why have I allowed you to cause me so much pain, I came back over and over again, I am told to walk away more times than I can say, but you are my mother.

And so I wait. I wait to see if you live or die, I wait and see that now I can cry, I wait and see what happens next and I wait as I slowly let you go.

You have caused me so much pain, you have told me over and over again how crap I am, and very sadly I believed you.

I slowly grieve the loss of you and whatever happens, either way, I now know I have to walk away.

I have to leave all the shit behind, I have to let go of all the bad things you put in my mind, and walk into my life either way.

You will always be who you are, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot change you. The biggest lessons of my life are staring me in the face, I choose to be me and I choose to be free.

I wish you well and I hope you come through, I thank you for all you did for me, when you were you.

Thank you for giving me life.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 6

What a week I have had……….it has been like the big dipper at Blackpool amusement park, on the highest ride of all.  I have found fellow suffers, blogs, videos and so much out there, now I am finally focused on what the issue at hand is.  I have had difficult decisions to make, but made them and in the midst of all that, I feel like my heart is breaking……………the grief is overwhelming and then I tell myself who really wants to read all about that? Surely they all want positive nice and fluffy stuff, then I decided that maybe you would like identification and one day may be good, the next bad and the next utter crap!! That is how life is for me at the moment and I think and hope that it is that authenticity that you will actually want to connect with.

I am finding this STEPPS course so difficult and even wondering if is for me, seriously.  I actually need some support as well as the course on a regular basis from someone who is aware of the course and helping me to deal with what is coming up, and that is not happening as yet and I am finding it very very hard to manage without it.  This week we did Challenging, challenging the thoughts that are in your head, the thoughts that come up that are not real!! Well, what if you actually believe they are real?  As some of you may see, I am on the road to recovery, and it feels like a very long road at the moment! At the same time when I am going through the questions on the sheets to answer how could you challenge this particular thought, for example, ‘it is wrong to have your feelings’ ……..I am struck by grief and rage at the fact that if I had been allowed to have my feelings I would not be in this position, I cant seem to just answer the question………each and everyone of them is bringing up more and more stuff that is not anything to do with me really, it is all their crap that they have put onto me and now I have internalised it and am doing it to myself……………its a process, and one thing I am grateful for is I am feeling my feelings!

I have found two resources that are helping me to not feel so alone and help me to connect with my feelings. I would like to share them with you.  One is a video and the other is an article, all things I have discovered as I research my tribe.

I hope you find them helpful whether you are a sufferer yourself or helping someone who is.

This video is one of the most beautiful and clearest descriptions of how it feels to be me. Although I am not in as bad a place as I was regarding the more severe behaviour, the feelings are there.  Sometimes words are just not enough.

I have also found this article so helpful and what an inspiration Marsha Linehan is.

Thankyou for reading my post, I hope you will continue to follow my progress!

Penny

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 5

I hope you find this week’s entry informative and helpful. I have really been struggling this week, trying to put the pieces of what sometimes feels like my shattered mind together.

I found the group this week hectic. Digesting what is happening is still very difficult and I am wondering just how much theory one can actually process when things are so emotional, not a lot, it seems for me.  I need the middle bit, the bit that embraces my comments and not a theoretical answer. One thing I do know, I am learning what I need, and what I don’t need and having my thoughts about what I already know reinforced and actually speaking up.  But sadly, somehow I feel that the missing bit for me is not really happening.  The bit that addresses the part of me that was so left behind and not listened to and is still screaming out to be taken seriously and empathised with in a loving, soft and gentle way.

I am even wondering if I will share anything because it can feel too re-traumatising to open up and then not feel supported in the way that I need to be supported……….I am feeling very confused, and I am sure that that is not really the purpose of it all.

One of the things that is becoming more and more apparent to me is that this illness stems from childhood trauma, lack of support and something happening.  One of the facilitators said that one of her clients told her that when she was not with her she may as well be dead, as she could not hold her in her thoughts, it is exactly like that for me and it is excruciating.  That is why one of my therapists told me that being with me is like groundhog day, I can’t hold onto people being with me even if they are away.  I am realising more and more what I have already known, this is because when I was a baby, my mother did leave me, when I was a month old, for hours at a time and never came back. I had nannies, one after the other and I did not have a care taker who was attuned with me and therefore, nobody came when I actually needed them, therefore my needs were not met, therefore I cannot hold onto people.  It all happens in the first few years of life.

I thought it would be useful for some people to know what the charity, Mind, have said in their booklet about what can cause Borderline Personality Disorder, together with  putting the actual definition of Borderline Personality Disorder on this blog, together with a list of the requirements needed to join this very special group of us.

Mind have said in their bookelt Understanding borderline personality disorder:

What causes borderline personality disorder?(in my own words)

Many people diagnosed with BPD have had traumatic experiences in childhood.  This could be the loss of a parent;  sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect. It is said that the problems associated with BPD can often become worse after a stressful experience, situations like loosing your job, your relationship or something else that you personally find stressful.

It is for this reason I really believe we need to take good care of our children, the fact that so many parents are under so much pressure does not help the whole situation when it comes to the nurturing of our children.  I really believe this illness is far more common than we know.  It is a natural response to the impact of child abuse and neglect and the pressures that so many children are under today.  I believe it really is time to change.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this is what our illness is made up of.

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects (mood), and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more0 of the following:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behaviour covered in criterion (5)

2.  A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation.

3. Identity disturbance: persistent and markedly disturbed, distorted, or unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (eg: spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviours.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness

8. Inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger (e.g.,frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

I hope you have found this helpful, I  know I did.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2012 – It’s Not All About The Food!

A reporter friend of mine, Sara-Jayne Kirk has done two great interviews this Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  One with ED Specialist Ann White and another with Gregory Szanto, the Founder of The Sussex Eating Disorders Clinic in Eastbourne.  Both of these interviews give such insight into the depth of the problems for those suffering from Eating Disorders. They also highlight very clearly, that Eating Disorders have very little to do with the actual food and much more to do with emotions.

As well as being helpful and empathetic with the sufferes, these interviews also highlight the gaping whole in the NHS provision for people with this problem, which I know personally only too well. I hope you will find them useful and please do pass this blog on to anyone who you think might benefit.

For some people this is their only addiction. For others, like me, it was found buried under the carnage of alcoholism, drug addiction, sex and love addiction, not to mention all the other ways I had  learnt to avoid my feellings.  Franetic activity, workaholism, never ever being able to be alone and all to try and fill a huge emptiness in my soul. It is also on the check list for those with Borderline Personality disorder, along with other addictions, such as alcoholism and sex.

A friend of mine told me recently that it is to do with ‘mother love’, lack of love, lack of connection, lack of attunement or rejection or abandonment.  For me, this has always made perfect sense, and this is not a blame game, it is fact for me…………and it is for many other people I know.

Fortunately, I eventually had treatment for my compulsive overeating, binging, bulimia and undereating, I have a food plan, do not eat white flour or sugar and have lost a lot of the weight I put on over a very short period of time. But it never ever goes away and I have to watch myself every single day.

If I feel upset, rejected or unloved, it is the very first place I can go………….and sometimes without even knowing it.  I diluded myself the other week when I brought a very small bar of dark chocolate from the ‘Free From’ range. I had barely got through the door, promised myself that I would have it with a cup of tea, but it was gone before the kettle had boiled.  I know why, and it scared me. I felt so rejected by someone and there it was! Thank God it was just that one bar.

In 2008, I hated what I had become, I felt utterly miserable and hated life.  Slowly I am recovering.  I ate on feelings, and still have to watch it, as I have already said, when it is really bad it can still catch me out.  I would always eat on feelings that I could not express, but now, what is different is I have people and places to go where I can express them and someone bothers to listen without telling me I am crazy or making it all up for attention.

For that I am truely grateful.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 4

I would like to start this week’s entry by thanking the people who have taken the time to contact me personally and share their experiences and to encourage me to keep going.  Thank you so much for your kindness and support, it helps me not feel so alone.

This week our lesson was Communicating………….when you are in a really chaotic place! Well, at the moment, this is not going to be possible for me, something else for the tool kit!  I have been really struggling with this course to be honest.  I find it very hard to be so detatched from my emotions to be logical about them. I also find it very hard that we are so rushed, there is little time for exploration of how we actually feel and that the facilitators are so target focused that we are basically ticking boxes to say how we feel, and barely have time to talk about it. This taps right back into the reason I am actually on the course in the first place…….my feelings not being heard and validated!  They do try, I have to give them that, but there are at least 5 out of 9 of us who really need some extra support.  Fortunately for me, my friend pays for my private therapist, without that I would be in a very, very different and very scary place.

I have challenged my Psychologist about this problem within this model of treatment for those with Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder, neither descriptions are particularly palitable, only to be told that this provision is cheap and that the funding is not really available for therapists to support us whilst we are going through what can really only be described some days as a living hell.

Distancing, communicating and expression are not on my radar when it comes to me feeling like my whole world is falling apart, I just need a hug to be honest.  All this head stuff is really counterproductive in so many ways, when it is on its own. I spoke to someone on Friday who very beautifully put it that it is my little girl who is stuck and needs support, love and nurturing to come out….that is what they call my illness! When I share my pain and am dismissed, invalidated, because someone is rushed or doesn’t know how to help, I feel shut down and it is excruciatingly painful for me.

I had a really good example of how this effects my life and I have realised a lot from it…………this week I had arranged to meet a friend at 1pm……….she was still not at mine by 1.20pm and I was really in a bad state, I had to hold onto the sofa and was sweating so badly, I felt so totally disorientated for a good 20 minutes. The pain in my head was almost unbearable. I  eventually calmed down and called her and was pretty passive aggressive, which is not helpful.  When she arrived at 1.45 I said that I really understand that she has lots to do etc but please would she call me to let me know she is going to be late………….I got the most beautiful supportive response, ‘If that is important to you Penny I will do my very best, I know I am a bad time keeper etc etc!!!  This is the difference, someone who takes responsibility and who I matter to.  It was a huge risk for me, I was scared I would loose the relationship, that she would shout at me and tell me to shut up and what is my problem, she is here now……….totally invalidating my feelings and that would be it.  I had that my whole childhood.  My mother was always late and I would wait for her for hourse, sitting on the stair, no phone call nothing.  When she arrived I would say I have been waiting for you for so long and was really upset, the response………….I am here now, what’s your problem!  That is why I am so ill, terrified of speaking my truth and splitting off.

One thing I have learnt, it takes two people to heal and I am so grateful that I have that support around me today, because it has taken a long long time.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder………….what’s worse? Week 2

It has taken me almost a week to process the information from the session on Tuesday.  We discussed Filters, which somehow put so much into context for me.  I have talked about it, thought about it, made a video talking about it and yet, the understanding still seems to come and go.  When it comes back, it feels like I have learnt it all over for the very first time.  In summary, filters are our view of the world, based on our childhood and earliest experiences, that is what the world is.  It seems to be that the level of negative experience in early childhood has a far more reaching impact on our lives than I first knew.

The last week has felt like a great big metal ball on a chain swing, rather like they use in demolition of buildings, has come along and smashed down a great big thick brick wall inside my head, from the inside out.  I am on the inside of the wall, in the corner wondering what the hell is going to happen next.  I feel more vulnerable than  I have been in a very very long time. I am having to put one foot very slowly in front of the other and my response to things is very very slow………………for the first time ever……….I just don’t know. I really do not know and it is scary and exciting all at once.  It feels like I have just woken up to be told that everything I have ever known is not at all as it is, that actually it is anything and that my view of the world is all it is, my view, and that where that has come from is why it is my view!

Really realising that all my reactions are down to childhood abandonment and very early levels of trauma is a huge amount to take in.  I am grateful for this opportunity to do the STEEPS programme,  and I am begining to see what the great teachers talk about when they say, change the way you think and you will change your life…………..!!

The video below is one I made on this subject, it really does take time to get to grips with all of this stuff

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder………….what’s worse? Introduction

This is another one of those moments when I feel like I am about to take a huge leap of faith, and am about to share yet another part of who I really am.  What will you do?

Will you laugh? Will you leave me? Will you understand? I have to be brave and not worry about what you think if you don’t get it, and hope that someone out there will really get it, and will understand.  My friend Matt called it ‘Finding Your Tribe’ and I guess that is what is so cool about being true to who I really am, I will continue to find my tribe.

At last, I have had my diagnosis!!! In one way it is such a relief and another it leaves me with great sadness that it has taken so long and caused me and others so much pain.

I have been into two re-habs, assessed by a Psychiatrist, and still, no-one knew what was really wrong with me.  I was told in the last re-hab that I did not have any signs of Borderline………….and thank God one of the support workers suggested I did not leave without connecting to my local Community Mental Health Team…………….although it has to be said, they have taken almost two years to get their act together due to lack of funds, staff cuts and all the other chaos that is around the mental health support at the moment.

I was offered this label as a possible reason for my problems way back in around 2000, when I had researched and saw that I was possibly bi-polar as my mood swings were so up and down and no matter how sober I was, my head was playing havoc and I was really mentally unwell.  That was one of the worst things about getting sober, the lack of booze to sooth my mind was leaving an even bigger issue, my mind was not right, only I had no idea until I put all the substances down.

So, in April 2010, I come out of re-hab, no money for follow up and on a waiting list so long that it took months to see a psychologist.  In the meantime, I was seen by a psychiatrist who did not understand addiction and offered me Lituium, just in case I had bi-polar or borderline, while I wait to see someone…………….no thanks.  Then, I finally see someone, the failed attempt at a form which I found ardeous and far too painful to complete and not enough time to go over the questions it all seemed horrendous and unsupported, then, she left as her job had been cut, and I was left high and dry, in the midst of an emotional turmoil which I found so hard to manage. It is because of this that I have such gratitude to my friend who pays for me to see a therapist, because without her, I actually do not know where I would be.

Now, months and months later, I am finally called in, told they would like to assess me, I get 9 out of 9 of the questions right and I am now on a course called STEPS, designed in America to help people who have Borderline Personality Disorder, or as they like to call it now Emotional Intensity Disorder.  I will be blogging as I go through this, it feels like my world as I knew it is not going to be the same.  What I thought was normal I am being told is part of my illness, that to me is very odd indeed, because it is who I am I thought!

One of the symptoms is the use of at least two of the following potentially self-damaging behaviours, eg: sex, spending, substance misuse, including alcohol, binge eating and reckless driving………….It makes me wonder just how many people have this and don’t even know it.

It stems from childhood, and whilst this is not to blame my parents, hard as that is cos I really feel like it and somedays I actually really do blame them, I am not there yet with that.  It stems from the level of abandonment trauma in childhood and this sets up a pattern of real or imagined experiences as we get older.  I know it has with me.  For example, I think everyone is going to leave me and never ever come back, it is agony and I find the world a very painful place to be.  It also stops me expressing myself sometimes fully because of fear of abandonment and rejection, all this has a devastating effect on my life and those around me and I am going to do my best to learn all I can.

I hope to hear from anyone who has anything to add to this and look forward to learning all about myself.  I have always found the world a very difficult place to exist, I battle on a daily basis and I hope that I will learn some tools to help me. I am a bit worried that it might be a bit of a plaster job but lets hope that emotions are encouraged to be expressed!!

Post Natal Depression and the 4children charity

Thank goodness, it is finally being talked about openly and making news headlines, the real numbers behind post natal depression.

According to the 4 children charity ‘suffering in silence’ research paper, the number of women who don’t realise they have it is 29%; the number who are too scared to tell anyone is 33% and the number who don’t think their symptoms are serious enough is 60%…..wow!

I didn’t know what was wrong with me 26 years ago when I had my son, all I knew was that I thought everyone was going to steal him away, that people would climb up drain pipes or wysteria and break into my house to steal him and I did not tell anyone, because I thought it was real.

It has taken me 26 years to really break my silence because I felt so bad about what I did.  I actually took my son away from his father, lied to him and everyone else because I thought he was going to steal him, so I left the country to get away so no-one would come and get him.

I wish to God I had told someone how I was feeling and the chances are, I may have got help, but how can you when you believe what you are thinking is real?  One of my friends said she thought I was depressed when she visited me,  because I had not got dressed for days and was just with my baby and not doing anything else really, not for a good few months.  I had shut down and put on a really good act whenever the health visitor came to see me.

Looking back now, I know it started in the hospital because I could not have my baby out of my sight and I thought the midwives were going to take him away from me.  Then it came to being at my friends house, shutting all the windows upstairs, convinced that ‘they’ were coming to get him, were going to climb up the drain pipes outside the bedroom window or the wysteria and no matter what she said, I had to have the windows shut.

I have since been told that this was a form of psychosis, and it has taken me years of therapy, years of searching for the truth to put the pieces of my shattered mind together, it has been a living hell. I am currently writing my autobiography which you can find excerpts of at http://www.ifsbutsandmaybes.com

I urge anyone who thinks they may have post natal depression to seek help before it is too late.  I lost almost everything because of the state of my mind and I used alcohol to shut my head up. I am now in recovery from alcohol dependency, and have been told that it is quite common for women to use alcohol with post natal depression, which is a relief in many ways.  I hope by speaking out and joining the desire to raise awareness that things will change around the stigma of such a crippling illness.  Thank you to the 4children charity for bringing this to light

Bravo – Esther Rantzen – has spoken out ‘I was abused as a child’

It takes a lot of courage to speak out about childhood abuse and I take my hat off to Esther Rantzen, who has been talking today in the Sun newspaper about her childhood sexual abuse trauma. It is essential for people to be heard and listened to when they have the courage to reach out and tell someone, like Esther, my mother brushed it off and told me that I would do anything for attention, this was when I was 15 and we drove past a road that I had not been on for years and I said ‘Fred lives there’ to which she replied, who is Fred? ‘I said the bar man who used to work for Daddy, he messed around with me when I was little’ to which she stared straight ahead, kept on driving and said, don’t be rediculous, you would make anything up for attention’!

The next time came at my Aunts 80th Birthday, I was standing in the reception with my back against a wall, my Uncle, her husband, also called Fred stood in front of me with his back to my mother and son, he ran his hands down my breasts and said ‘I can remember a time when I could do to you the things I would like to do to you now’ I froze, paralysed and then shook……….I walked away in a trance. By this time my mother was at the bar counter, I went over and said ‘Fred has just touched my tits’ to which she replied…………’don’t be rediculous’, I said ‘if you don’t listen to me I will scream this place down………..Fred has just touched me’……….to which she replied, ‘don’t say anything it is Auntie Joans birthday’…….I said it is always Auntie Joans fucking birthday as far as you are concerned.

I sat at that meal table and could barely eat, I was rocking in my chair and I felt about 5 years old and nobody listened, I could do nothing and it was a living hell……….it took me years to come to terms with what had happened and I urge anyone who is told anything like this, please listen and anyone who has anything to say, find someone to listen to you.

Thank you Esther for being so honest.