Q & A Tuesday ~ On BPD, boredom and frustration

QandA

I’ve gotten a bunch of questions in a comment, and since it would be a novel length comment back, I’ll answer them in a post instead. Here we go. Please be aware, though, that even when the questions ask “how is this for people with BPD in general”, I can’t really say.  I can only say how it is for me.

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Q: You stated that when you’re bored, you want someone to share that pain with you? Is that a common trait of BPD?

A: Like I said, I can only speak from my own perspective and I’m no shrink or anything, but I’d say boredom itself is a fairly common trait in people with BPD and I might not be the only one who has a tendency to end up sharing the misery. For me it is not about actively wanting to make anyone miserable at all, though. I feel bad about making others miserable. For me it’s more that I feel like it’s so unfair that everyone seems busy and content, yet I’m so endlessly bored and don’t know what to do about it, and then it kind of starts to feel like “if anyone cared about me, they would help my misery”. Then I’m like “hey, look, I’m bored” and if nobody reacts I get a little more annoying in the “heeeeeey, really, I’m bored!” way. Then, if nobody reacts still, I start to feel like they don’t care. My thoughts go something like “great, nobody cares about me, I knew it! They don’t like me, they just pretended, but when it gets inconvenient for them, they show their true colors. I hate them. They suck. They don’t deserve to be so content doing whatever they are doing.” But sooner or later my thinking gets a twist again and my thoughts turn on myself, like “but then, they are right in not caring. Why would they care about me? I’m horrible. I can’t even keep myself entertained. Like a baby. Of course they don’t care. They wish I wasn’t even here. They think I’m despicable and they are right. I am despicable…”

So depending on where in my line of reasoning I start to act, I’ll either try to make them miserable in return because I get angry and hurt over them not caring, or I do something to punish myself for being the way I am if I’m already further down the line. That usually forces them to interrupt what they are doing, too, because chances are I’ll do it somewhere where they are sure to notice, just to see if, by any chance, they DO care after all. (Luckily it doesn’t really get to any of those points for me, because I have a mom who is aware of my sensitivity to relationship messages. So she usually reacts to my ‘hey, look, I’m bored’, takes it seriously and helps me find ways to cope with it.)

Well, and of course, this is what happens with me, and I can only speak for myself. Others with BPD might have different mechanisms and different lines of thinking. Everybody is different.

Q: Would it be possible for someone BPD to do an activity by themselves instead seeking someone else to ‘share the pain’?

A: I think it would be possible. Not everyone with BPD will probably want to share the pain in the first place. Like I said, everybody is different. But I think that even with someone like me, who has a certain desire to ‘share the pain’, it’s possible to do an activity by myself instead. It depends on how well I am at that moment and how well I am able to resort to my own coping skills. If I feel pretty secure in my relationships at that time, if I manage to remind myself that it’s NOT them not caring, but just me being bored, then I just try to busy myself, like by drawing a new zentangle or blogging or, well, trying to engage mom or someone else at the house in a more positive way.

Q: Is ‘Non’ the right term for someone who doesn’t have BPD?

A: Suit yourself. 🙂 Non is fine because it’s short and I know what you mean. I’ll take anything, as long as it’s friendly and I know what you mean.

Q: From what I’m gathering here, there’s a lot of narcissistic traits, or at least from what I’m reading, and a lot of self-pity, with a disregard for others, notably your loved ones?

A: For me, I wouldn’t say there is a genuine disregard of others. Not in the ‘I basically don’t care about others’ way. I care a lot about others. I try very hard to be kind, I want especially my loved ones to be pleased with me, I admire and love them a lot, and how they feel matters greatly to me. What gets in the way is my emotional mess when it comes.

My feelings are easily triggered and pretty intense. I think that may be the part that ‘Nons’ have the hardest time relating to. I get pretty much the same kind of feelings everyone does, but very quickly and several times as overwhelming. Add to that that I have emotional coping skills matching that of a little child. My emotional regulation skills don’t suffice. So I do what any child who is overwhelmed does – I cry for my mom to fix it, and stop caring whether that’s convenient for her at that moment, or whether I hurt her, too, in the process, and I feel upset if I perceive her attitude as uncaring, because that directly ties in with traumatic experiences for me.

So I wouldn’t say I am particularly self-pitying, just that when faced with the full force of my emotions, I have trouble looking beyond it. Kind of like that: if you got acid on your hand and it burned terribly and you could see your flesh sizzling away, you’d probably stop caring whether it inconvenienced someone if you cried for help and got in people’s faces about it, because it hurts so much and gives you a panic. It wouldn’t mean you have a general disregard for others, but just that you are in a situation where you are suffering so much that you temporarily can not be bothered with caring for others, but need relief from the acid on your hand and need your wounds attended to. That’s how I experience emotional distress. So even when it looks like I wallow in self-pity and disregard others’ over it, I don’t really. I just don’t know what else to do about the emotional acid.

Q: On the last bit, would you prefer everyone to fail as you were to? Now, when I say fail, I mean you may inevitably come to succeed, but another has done so before you. Would you rather be stuck on the same problem and get frustrated (and who knows what else… would something like that trigger a psychological regression?) until you give up or eventually get it (and feel satisfied, possibly?) or have someone help you?

A: When emotionally well, I don’t want anyone to fail. When I get into an emotional unbalance (like because I am failing with something and get these overwhelming thoughts that I must be truly retarded or inept, a terrible failure myself, and certainly nobody will want such a failure in their lives) I can temporarily want others to fail, too, for two reasons.

1.) To feel better about myself, because if others fail, too, then the task must be real hard, which means that maybe I am not such a complete failure after all, if they don’t manage either, or

2.) In the hope that they will see how terrible I feel about it, because they experience the same thing, so they will then understand why it upsets me so much.

I don’t really do very well with being stuck with a problem by myself, because I easily slide down the fateful line of thinking “I must be a failure to suck so badly at this, nobody wants me if I am such a failure, I will lose them”. (Okay, that’s shortening a really long line of reasoning, but this is the essence of it.) So instead of keeping trying I will get discouraged, blame the problem for being too hard (so nobody starts thinking it might be me being the failure) or become overwhelmed with emotion (which leads to drama, that’s probably where the regressive behavior would start, so yes to that) or have someone help me (which is, all things considered, probably the best possible solution, if I manage to get someone to understand that I really need help and what reason for). Well, yeah, and if I do keep at the task long enough to actually get it eventually (which doesn’t happen so often, for abovementioned reasons), I feel very satisfied and pleased with myself.

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Okay, that’s it. Today’s little Q&A. I hope that my answers made sense?

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nobodysreadingme
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 11:46:22

    Me again.
    I know you hate people going behind your back, so I’m going to tell you something. It’s not a bad thing, and it certainly isn’t about you.

    Long before I found your blog I’d been working on a novel. One of the main characters, Charlie, has mild BPD. She’s based on someone I know, or knew. She is not based on you. I haven’t been hanging round here for inspiration, believe me.

    She’s often irascible, occasionally violent, swears a great deal, is emotionally unpredictable, rather over-reactive. She’s been badly let down in the past, and tends not to trust people, especially not men.
    However I’ve written her as a comedy character. she comes across as a stroppy cow until her boyfriend/lover, the narrator, makes it clear to significant secondary characters what the problem is, when there’s an ‘Aha!’ moment.

    I hope this doesn’t make you uneasy, or troubles you in any way. If it does you can talk to your mum (mom) and see what she says. If it does cause you any anxiety at all, any uncertainty you can block me, and I will understand.

    Have I made sense? I hope so.

    • Lola
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 13:54:15

      Thanks, Duncan! It’s really thoughtful of you to consider how I might feel about Charlie. She sounds like a fun character to write about, and hehe, like I can relate to hear. I can swear quite nicely, too. 😉 It doesn’t trouble me and doesn’t make me uneasy, especially not now that you’ve explained. I look forward to “meeting” her. 🙂 So no blocking you. In fact I’m curious now. 🙂

  2. Kyle Stanly
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 13:56:35

    Fascinating, the analogy about the spilling acid on your hand thing was great, someone else equated it to ‘having a cold and wanting everyone else to notice and help’ when in actuality most (adults at least) would handle it themselves without bringing unnecessary attention… however, spilling acid all over your hands (don’t know why you’d be playing with acid without necessary equipment in the first place) is a much more reasonable example.

    You did a very good job explaining, Lola, thank you for your time and kindness.

    • Lola
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 14:00:18

      Thank you for the kind words, Kyle, and you’re welcome. 🙂 I’m glad if you found the spilling acid analogy helpful. (And as to how the acid got on the hands in the first place…. uhm… lab experiment gone wrong because someone mis-labeled the test tubes?! I don’t know, lol! 😀 )

  3. prideinmadness
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 17:52:43

    Let’s see if I can help. Share some of my experiences.

    1. I often find myself wanting to bring others down to my level. I think it’s a part of some power thing I have. I either want to be above others or they need to be suffering with me. (I’m told this is a BPD trait)

    2. i’m fully capable of doing activities by myself and probably for the most part prefer to do some by myself because it means things will go the way I want them too. Although there are times of where I constantly need to check things I do alone because I have a fear of screwing up and making people hate me because I made a mistake.

    3. Is “Non” the right term? I don’t like that. I’m a “Non” of a lot of things.

    4. Ha ha I’m so narcissistic and I have massive pity parties! It’s all protection though. I don’t want to hurt. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that I’m ok and that can sometimes mean someone I love gets hurt. It sucks but that’s something I’ve picked up over my years of letting people step on me. (I’m told this is a trait)

    5. I want everyone to succeed. I think many people, regardless of mental health status, when they’re upset about something just don’t care about others because they’re very focused on myself. I don’t think many people realize that parts of having a mental health issue is very “in and out”, comes and goes kind of thing. I’m not constantly walking around thinking, “Oh I hope you fail”. When I’m brought down by my own failure, for example, then I get spiteful, angry, sad and self absorbed. That’s when I’d prefer others to suck just as much as I feel I do.

    Every person experiencing BPD will answer these questions differently but I’m pretty sure there are some commonalities. It’s pretty cool 🙂

  4. gypsy116
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 01:37:52

    I love the acid analogy. I dont think I could have thought of a better way to explain that.

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