(Last episode for season 1)
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Season 1 Episode 9:
Intro: Hello and welcome to “The World in Black and White” My name is Michelle and I am the narrator and creator of this podcast.
Vision: My vision for this podcast is that it will bring hope to all individuals that may be overwhelmed by the challenges mental illness can create as a person attempts to navigate life in a positive and successful way.
Crisis Helpline: I want to also make listeners aware of help that is available. Call 988 to speak to a crisis operator or text “helpline” that is H E L P L I N E to 62640 .
Stoicism says not to worry about the elements of your life outside of your control, that the only thing you can ever really control is yourself, or rather your reaction to those outside elements that you “feel” are affecting your outlook on life. I posed the question a couple years back, “can a person with BPD be a stoic?” It was interesting for me to consider that the rule was so simple, yet so foreign for someone at the mercy of overly reactive chemicals to external stimuli. To even consider that someone could have this type of control over their responses to the world intrigued me… and so I researched stoicism for a bit. It was super difficult for me to resist the urge not to react to everything outside of my control.
I’m still working on some level of a more controlled response to the world. I am still wondering if someone suffering from this brain disorder has the capability to become a stoic?
This next portion I will be sharing is a blog post I made about Stoicism and BPD in March of 2020.
Here is a previous blog I wrote about stoicism and BPD Can An Individual With BPD Become A Stoic?
So I came up with these 6 things after responding to a comment someone posted on Reddit. I will omit their comment, as it was the response that triggered this episode anyway. Sometimes we don’t know what we have learned until someone else needs to know what you know in order to get through something troublesome.
MY RESPONSE: “I’m going to sound like a b-word when I say what is required of you to “feel” better. I just need you to know, nothing will ever change If we aren’t honest about what is required to get out of your own way. BPD is a brain disorder, chemicals have hijacked YOU. Every BPD person has unknowingly given these chemicals an all-access pass to control emotional responses. We have always been at the mercy of these chemicals. 1st and foremost – stop making excuses 2. Stop justifying your avoidance to seek understanding of BPD. We must relocate from victimhood. 3. Claim your autonomy, and immediately start working on self-awareness. 4. Embrace the emptiness until it’s gone. 5. Decide that being present is more important than anything contrived in a fantasy. 6. Get active. These are not fail-proof instructions, but it’s been effective enough for me to stay present a lot more than before and focus on things that mean something to me.”
After responding to this person, I noticed that I may have some more things to share with listeners about managing their borderline personality disorder. With no real answers or cure to Borderline we must all focus on managing ourselves, until we figure out the issues causing the symptoms.
#1) If we are at the mercy of chemicals responding to our environment reactively and without permission, how likely is it that a person with BPD can control their emotional responses? Don’t chemicals just have a way of doing their thing without asking permission?
(Definitions found on newharbinger.com)
Cortisol- a chemical released during stress that helps to break down carbohydrates and proteins in order to increase the supply of glucose and oxygen in the muscles, heart, and brain. But high levels of cortisol over a prolonged periods of time lead to an increase in blood pressure and an increase in sugar levels, both of which lead to unhealthy fat build-up in the abdomen, thinning of bones, and prevention of collagen formation. High cortisol levels also suppress the immune-system response and cause the body to age faster.
Serotonin- plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, and learning. It is found throughout the brain and the digestive system, and has been implicated in depression, suicide, anxiety, and appetite regulation
Opiates- are released (under ordinary circumstances) by the brain to dull pain in response to body-tissue damage
Just knowing cortisol can affect in a negative way… traumatic events and high stress situations… you can control your actions to help alleviate some of those environmental triggers.
#2) Avoiding responsibility or competency of your disorder? Are you a “manager” or are you a “victim”?
I still catch myself saying “If you would just be nice to me, I wouldn’t have these episodes.” while this may be true. It is no one else’s responsibility to make me behave appropriately. It is my responsibility. Understanding my weaknesses, helps me manage this brain disorder. When I am feeling unloved, invisible or misunderstood, I should seek to understand the reasons this is occurring and not just try to “feel” better by any means necessary. I know that even our defense mechanisms tend to happen automatically, but if you work at maintaining a mindful existence, you will see the unhealthy ones and realize they aren’t truly helping you “feel” better, they are only interested in making the pain go away and to survive. Living a good life is much more than just surviving.
#3) You are an autonomous being with unique characteristics and specific attributes that make you, YOU. Awaken to who you are.
I am a work in progress. Honestly, I am still getting acquainted with who I am. This introspection has been motivated by a series of events that had to happen in order for me to understand I was “surviving on autopilot” and not really living the life I would want to live. Since arriving at that understanding of self I embrace that I am a strong person that has already accomplished many things, even with a disorder that creates more self-inflicted pain than living without BPD. Embrace this strength.
#4) Healing is feeling, and sometimes that means embracing the emptiness until you have squeezed every bit of it from those special compartments you like to hoard painful & unpleasant moments.
Imagine running water from your kitchen faucet, take a rag and soak it with water, then ring it out. Does it feel dry, after ringing it out once? Probably not, because no matter how much you ring it, the rag will remain damp, until you lay it out flat in the sun. Our pain is similar to a damp rag, if we wad it up and stuff it deep down inside of us it doesn’t ever go away. Especially when we just keep it under a running faucet. If you want to get rid of the pain, you will need to lay it all out and with time let the light (personal insight and acknowledgement) dry it up. You may need to do this process several times. It is worthwhile work.
#5) Being present, and not caught up in some fantasy, is the only way in which you directly affect your overall mental health. There is no escaping this fact!
There are several moments throughout my day that I see people using technology to escape reality. I am wearing headphones right now listening to the Top Hits on Spotify and I am doing this to block out distractions, to help me focus on creating my podcast notes. Well, my family escapes reality by playing video games and watching youtube videos or any social media platform currently available. It is ok to escape for a little while, but if you are constantly seeking the escape, maybe you need to take inventory of what is happening around you that is inspiring this desire to escape and do what you need to do to make your reality more comfortable for you to exist in peace.
#6) MOVE your body and be physical. It helps battle the negative chemicals by releasing the good chemicals that your brain is desperate for, and the physical benefits of being active aren’t so bad either.
I can tell you since starting kickboxing and pushing to do this multiple times a week has helped my mental state in a big way. You don’t need a gym, take a walk, or buy a jump rope. Do some pushups or sit-ups and log your workouts. This activity will help you “feel” better.
BYTE OF INSIGHT:
It is so easy for me to describe to people the ways in which they don’t show their appreciation for me, and this usually looks like some sort of adolescent tantrum. The reason this expression looks like some sort of teenager not getting their way, is due to my lack of self-awareness.
In the past, I expected everyone to understand that my unloading was the only path for me to find any level of peace again. I would only offer this “explosion” as the necessary path they deserved to take with me after they so selfishly and consistently offered me their inconsiderate behaviors. Instead of halting the inappropriate talk or behaviors as they occurred, I would expect them to choose not to do those things, out of some sort of expression of love and commitment to me. I would then by way of silence, allow them to continue their behaviors towards me that I did not approve of, and this would then create an ugly pattern of behaviors and treatment that weren’t acceptable, but allowed.
I now know that this “explosion” can be avoided by establishing timely & appropriate boundaries, however this awareness took me a very long time to establish boundaries for myself and my family members and friends.
I have found the closer you are to someone the harder it will be to set necessary boundaries. I think it might also be relevant to state that this realization means that the person dealing with BPD has the hardest time setting boundaries for themself. I am able to justify just about any type of treatment I “feel” like justifying. Instead of letting my “feelings” tell me what is appropriate. I have now designed boundaries that say “Will this behavior/communication express how I feel about this person honestly?” If the answer is no, I would only be trampling all over myself and my authenticity. Which is the last thing I want to occur. I have been working hard at understanding myself and all the things that make me, ME. Beyond that… I want those that I love, to feel that love and trust my love. I want the people that I care about, to know that I hold their future and their feelings as a personal priority. This has helped me quite a bit on my journey to healing the relationships I have thoughtlessly injured in the past.
So even though I have in the past unloaded whatever it was I had been “containing” directly on to my loved ones, I was doing this to somehow attack their behaviors. But what I was actually doing, was informing them that it was ok to communicate in this way. I had just demonstrated what I accept as appropriate behavior & an appropriate method to communicate. Even though it is not how I want to communicate. It helped to create an ugly and emotionally abusive cycle. I now choose to show love and patience and seek understanding, all while hoping that I will also receive the same.
I was showing people with my own actions and expressions that this response was normal or “appropriate”. So Instead of burying the hurt or dismissing the moments I felt disrespected, I should discuss these things or events in a healthy way. Knowing that I would not treat them this way, and would like the same consideration from them, and that if they can’t show this type of consideration for my feelings, then maybe they do not hold one of the places I have reserved for my closest relationships. I should not rely on my ability to bury things, in order to keep a relationship.
Challenge:Stoicism and controlling yourself! Change your responses to the people close to you. This has been trying for me at times. When I dish out honesty it is served alongside an attitude that says “I’m right about this, you are just too ignorant to see it from my personal perspective.” I despise trying to appear like a “know it all”, because well… I know I don’t know everything. Before when I would start speaking my truth or opinions about something, I would expect everyone to just accept it as their truth as well. That will not always be the case. I have been working very hard at accepting that the rest of the world, especially those closest to me, do not experience or see the world as I do. I must first try to see their perspective then express that I understand their point of view before offering my own, and there may even be times where the other person doesn’t even want to hear it. This has been challenging for me most of my life, but since opting to try this method of communication out I have already seen positive responses when communicating my wants and needs, or when I am expressing my raw feelings about certain things, to my friends and family.
Closing: Thanks so much for tuning in we have come to the end of the podcast. What did you learn? Who can you share this podcast with? If this resonates with your spirit or makes you think of a certain someone that has experienced similar issues in their life, please share this with them. I believe mental health is something that we are overlooking on a massive scale and in order for people to heal we need to be able to speak about this openly and honestly.I believe this will also be the last episode of season 1. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wish you all a very Happy New Year! Until next time choose truth, goodness, and love.