Learn to love the dandelions (BPD)

A man bought a new house and decided that he was going to have a very beautiful lawn. He worked on it every week, doing everything the gardening books told him to do. His biggest problem was that the lawn always seemed to have dandelions growing where he didn’t want them. The first time he found dandelions he pulled them out. But, alas, they grew back. He went to his local gardening store and bought weed killer. This worked for some time, but after the summer rains, alas, he found dandelions again. He worked and pulled and killed dandelions all summer. The next summer he thought he would have no dandelions at all, since none grew over the winter. But, then, all of a sudden, he had dandelions all over again. This time he decided the problem was with the type of grass. So he spent a fortune and had all new sod put down. This worked for some time and he was very happy. Just as he started to relax, a dandelion came up. A friend told him it was due to the dandelions in the lawns of his neighbors. So he went on a campaign to get all his neighbors to kill all their dandelions. By the third year, he was exasperated. He still had dandelions. So, after consulting every local expert and garden book, he decided to write the U.S. Department of Agriculture for advice. Surely the government could help. After waiting several months, he finally got a letter back. He was so excited. Help at last! He tore open the letter and read the following: “Dear Sir: We have considered your problem and have consulted all of our experts. After careful consideration, we think we can give you very good advice. Sir, our advice is that you learn to love those dandelions.” ~ Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder (adapted from Anthony de Mello’s The Song of the Bird)

In this instance, the dandelions represent the intense emotions of the borderline personality.  We spend our lives trying to escape feeling, whether through dissociation or impulsive behaviours, both of which create more problems in our lives, and at some point we have to know when enough is enough.

Self harm, suicidal ideation, promiscuity and other risky behaviours are only ever a short fix, like drinking and taking drugs.  So how do you move past this?  You need to learn to love the emotions, bad or good.

Your pendulum of feelings are what make you so special and needed in this world, your motivation, enthusiasm, passion, let every emotion drive you to achieve.  You don’t need to hurt yourself.

I was told that anger is only a surface emotion hiding the pain and sadness beneath.

Observe and learn to recognise what you’re really feeling, do not be afraid to go beneath the surface, to your most vulnerable place.  Feel the sadness, the pain, it’s ok.  Recognise where it came from and validate it, nurture it.  You’re pain is valid, it is not an over reaction, you feel how you feel.  Sit with it, cry, scream, talk, write it down, describe it.

Notice how the pain affects you physically, mentally, don’t try to change it.  Breathe.

As long as you are breathing, you are alive and it’s ok.  Just keep breathing.

Eventually, when you have given the pain all it needs, let it go, let it drift away, say farewell.  You may revisit it later and that’s ok, but right now in this moment, it’s gone and you’re ok.

Remind yourself that you are an amazing person, you are unique and you bring so much to the universe, you wake us all up, you invite us into your sanctuary, into your deepest feelings and the depths of your soul.  We are honoured.

 

Why me? Mental Illness

I’m sure this is a question most people with any illness,  disability or problem in life asks themselves.  Often the question will go unanswered and the questioner lives with confusion, frustration and a sense of unfairness.   Many issues over time will be resolved or simply pass.   A common phrase is that all things pass.   But some problems are life long and can’t be fixed.   In those circumstances some kind of acceptance is necessary. Acceptance of your problems,  acceptance of your limits and acceptance that you must forge your own version of ‘normal’

I’ve suffered from mental illness most of my adult life and am still attempting to find acceptance.  At times I feel as though I have found it but then it quickly slips away.  Acceptance feels like trying to catch a slippery eel with my bare hands.  Success being only short-lived.

I wish the answer to why acceptance is so difficult was a simple subject but instead it is complex.  There are lots of reasons that is hard to hold on to.   One reason is that when mentally unwell all rationality flies out of the window and so all the reasoning behind my recently acquired acceptance becomes quickly invalid.  And partly because it’s near impossible to accept and welcome intolerable mental and emotional pain in to your life when it’s present in that same moment!

Imagine for a moment feeling as though electricity is running through your veins or worms crawling through your brain.  Imagine feeling as though your skin is covered in cobwebs and the noise in your brain is so loud that it overwhelms your senses.  Imagine feeling that you are covered in thick dirty slime just under your skin and that the only way to get rid of all the dirt and noise and putrid feelings inside is to bathe in boiling water and scrub yourself clean with a scourer and bleach or to cut it away.   How do you learn to live with that?  How do you learn to accept?

Then imagine that no one knows how to help you and that most people turn away repulsed by even the mention of ‘mental illness’.  Try to remember that having mental illness often makes a person find socialising difficult anyway.   It’s hard enough trying to maintain your own self care and daily routines without the pressures of trying to communicate efficiently,  hold small chat,  enquire about how others are keeping;  show care and concern,  try to maintain etiquette and boundaries.   Socialising becomes a juggling act with knives.  The pressure to fit in or face rejection,  disappointment and judgement and in turn more hurt.  Remember also that often a person with mental illness may already feel emotionally overwhelmed and hyper sensitive and so even a small slight or joke attack their expense could be internalised and increase a feeling of shame, self hatred,  sense of unworthiness.   Take in to account also that many diagnosis often come hand in hand with anxiety related issues that also aggravate the difficulties in social situations.   Sometimes the person can be over sensitive to sensory stimulation too – lights,  movement, noise etc..

I think taking all these factors in to consideration and more besides,  you might theorise that such a fragile and vulnerable person might need a good support system around them?   But what if now we factor in the stigma of mental illness?   What if most people feel fear, repulsion or helplessness about mental illness?   They don’t wish to approach a person with mental illness or be around them or spend any significant time with them and the few who do feel uncomfortable discussing mental illness,  don’t want to ask how you are,  don’t want to offer help because it’s too big for them to deal with.

Now imagine again that horrid feeling when you’re unwell,  add the shame and guilt, add the stigma you face from others and the difficult to think rationally and ask yourself how you accept this life?  How do you function each day?  Who can you ask for help?   How and what words can you use to ask for help and describe what you need?  How do you maintain relationships?

Now lastly do not ever think that mental illness is simple,  that a person can just think their way out of it,  think positive,  distract and it all goes away,  or that this post even comes close to describing its nature.  This post is a mere snippet of insight into living with mental illness.   It’s far too complex for me to put in one post and would take a lifetime to explain fully.

Mental Illness and Benefits/Welfare

Many people have voiced an opinion (that I have heard), that just adds to the stigma against mental health sufferers. I wanted to write an article to help inform the misinformed about the invisible illness that can strike anyone at any time. More

Positive Thinking

So have you ever wondered how you can think more positively about yourself and your life?  I know I have!  I’ve often been told by people who say all I need to do is “think more positively” and it will make all the difference in my life.  Of course when you’re feeling down or depressed, it’s easy for someone to say just think more positively, the thing is no one really explains that.   More

Setting Boundaries

What is important to remember is that there is a big difference between boundaries and ultimatums.  Firstly we need to remind ourselves that we can only change ourselves and not others, which is why setting ultimatums rarely works, because the essence of an ultimatum is to change the other person. More

Separated Parent Syndrome?

Okay so I will admit I made that up, it’s not a known disorder as far as I’m aware, but is certainly something that seems to be a spreading epidemic.  Of course I’m not attacking people for choosing to go their separate ways, but I do want to discuss how the child/children become deeply affected by the separation depending on how the parents deal with their personal issues with one another. More

Do we have the ability to control our own emotions?

So many people are full of anger towards others, they scream and shout and say nasty things and when questioned about their behaviour blame the other person for how they feel.  The thing is no one else has the ability to control your emotions.  You may find something that someone else says as triggering to your emotions but the fact of the matter is that how you react is based on your own thoughts and feelings about yourself or on something that has happened previously in your own life.   More

How can anyone be sure of a correct diagnosis? – The Rosenhan experiment

I have said for the years that I have been diagnosed with the wrong diagnosis  After receiving my medical file last month, I discovered that it was very vague and has no description of any symptoms that I have suffered from over the years let alone the ones that I ‘should have’ for the accused diagnosis.   More

Living with the stigma of Mental Illness

The diagnosis is on dodgy ground, after seeing psychiatrists since 1998 and finally getting my medical records released, only to discover how vague my file is and with no indication of how my diagnosis was arrived at.  I disagree with the diagnosis I have which is why I won’t reveal what it is or what I think I have till I’ve had my second opinion and review on my diagnosis.  However I can still talk about what it is like to live with a mental illness, the symptoms I suffer from and the stigma I have to endure day in and day out. More

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!

Whilst hoping to bring insight to people’s lives, I’m also very nervous about the idea of sharing my innermost thoughts, that for so long I have considered to be the irrational ramblings of a crazy woman!  Let’s hope I won’t be judged too harshly and people will have a bit of compassion and understanding for this hide away hermit. More

March 2017
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