Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious mental illness that is characterized by a lack of stability in moods, behaviours, and relationships. The name of this disorder was given because it was thought to “border” many different types of mental illness, which has now been found to be quite inaccurate. Though each case is different, there are commonly occurring symptoms that are used to diagnose. (Please keep in mind that a trained professional should be making a diagnosis, as they are equipped to do so.) These symptoms include:

  • Impulsive behaviours: These behaviours are often harmful to themselves and/or others. These behaviours may include promiscuity/unsafe sex, drug abuse, or self-harming behaviours (i.e. Cutting). Spending sprees and binge eating are also known to occur. It is important to note that not all of those who suffer from borderline personality disorder engage in all of these behaviours. It is also important to note that their self-harming behaviours are not usually intended to cause death, but are in an attempt to express their pain, have some control over their bodies, or to punish themselves for their choices/behaviours.
  • Low self-worth: Low self-worth can manifest itself in many different ways. They may speak very critically of themselves (i.e. They are ugly, or unintelligent, or worthless, etc.), or have distorted beliefs of what others think of them (i.e. No one likes them, no one loves them, no one likes spending time with them, etc.). Their low self-worth may also cause them to very rapidly change plans for their future, showing in an unexpected change in career, goals, and romantic partners.
  • Aggressive behaviours: Controlling anger is something that those suffering with borderline personality disorder struggle with. They will often times yell and scream when they are angry, and they may also lash out physically at those around them. Their anger can be incredibly frightening and dangerous.
  • Intense emotions and mood swings: The emotions and moods of a person struggling with borderline personality disorder fluctuate quite quickly and intensely. It is not uncommon for someone to be experiencing a very happy period to only hit a very intense angry and upset period a few hours later. The way that they treat those around them changes along with how they are feeling as well. They can be very loving and caring, switching very quickly to hateful and angry when they are feeling upset.
  • Intense fear of being abandoned: Those suffering from borderline personality disorder constantly worry about those around them leaving them completely. This intense fear manifests itself in “clingy” behaviours towards those around them (i.e. Repeatedly asking them not to leave, attempting to guilt trip people into being around, other manipulative behaviours) when their relationship feels threatened or close to breaking.
  • Tumultuous relationships: Relationships that a person with borderline personality disorder are involved in are incredibly chaotic. Relationships can go from being incredibly close and loving to incredibly distant and hateful in a very short amount of time. Romantic relationships can be especially so, and are often short lived as their partners have a hard time dealing with the mood swings and impulsive behaviours.

Borderline personality disorder is not a death sentence. If your loved one is struggling with borderline personality disorder, it is very important that you help to support them through treatment and encourage them to continue to work through it. Treatment for a personality disorder is often times a combination of therapy as well as medication, which can be very difficult for your loved one to handle, especially on their own. It is important that they stay hopeful and focused on the future. It is also a good idea to educate yourself on their illness. Know what the signs and symptoms are, especially when they are in crisis. Understand that you will need to recognize their signs and symptoms for crisis, not just the ones that are listed in a website or book. It is also essential that you yourself seek treatment. Their illness does affect you, whether you see it or not. Having your own safe place to discuss your feelings and emotions is the best way to be an effective part of their support system.

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Psychopathy and Relationships

shutterstock_119478667  We strive for internal balance each and every day. It is a constant struggle to maintain some sort of harmony between our beliefs, ideas, values, and the behaviours related to them. An example of this is someone who continues to smoke despite believing that it is unhealthy. Although they hold the belief that smoking is not beneficial to their health, the smoker will continue to smoke because they may enjoy smoking, or perhaps because they believe that the chances of a decline in their health are not as serious as others make them up to be. This is cognitive dissonance. Explained simply, cognitive dissonance is psychological distress when two or more beliefs are contradictory. Those with cognitive dissonance often have a hard time differentiating reality from their internal fantasy and dream world. They will often justify their behaviours and contradicting beliefs with truly ridiculous notions. Returning to the example of the smoker, how is it possible that their health would not be at equal risk to other smokers? It is this fantasy thinking that makes the contradictions stick. The discrepancy in beliefs and actions can cause a vast amount of psychological distress, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and negative self-image. With these contradictions comes a certain amount of denial within, though it is not always known to us. This denial allows us to hold these beliefs at the same time, while still maintaining the behaviour.

A more extreme example of cognitive dissonance is the denial shutterstock_90072907and beliefs that are often seen with those who are in a relationship with a psychopath. Once we become aware we begin to see things for what they are, outside of the fantasy.  A whole slew of inconsistencies that we never saw before flows through to our consciousness such as manipulations, criticism, emotional abuse, lies, and deviance. Almost everyone involved with a psychopath goes through a phase (and form) of denial.  The result is a contradictory experience: a kind of internal battle between clinging to denial and accepting the truth.  It’s a tough reality to accept the sad truth when you come to realize that the person who claimed to be your best friend or the love of your life is actually completely emotionally unavailable on all levels.

To understand pathology, psychopathic and sociopathic relationships see the link below. Now it is important to not assume that the person you are involved with is a psychopath, because it can have deep and lasting effects on that person. A qualified professional should be sought out to make a diagnosis, not the internet or a personal diagnosis. The questions that often come up after a psychopath shutterstock_40397620is found out often include “How could I not have known?”, “Were there ever signs that something was going on beneath the surface?”, or even “Was there something that could have been done to help/stop the psychopath?”. The answer to these questions is never truly black and white, and this is because of cognitive dissonance. There comes a time when denial is just no longer going to protect us from the truth, and there is an internal struggle because they care deeply for the psychopath. There are contradictions left, right, and center about their lies, manipulations, criticisms, and emotional abuse, and the victim will often times find ways to justify the psychopaths behaviours through the “good times” they might have had. It needs to be noted that more often than not, the victim will choose to cling to the denial, rather than accept the truth.

What can happen when the victim is suddenly brought to the realization that their significant other is a psychopath? More often than not, they will go into shock or experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In these cases it is so important that they seek help, because the symptoms will persist and worsen until they are handled under the care of a trained professional. The therapist or counsellor will work to empower the victim, working on reminding them that they are not a victim but a survivor. Cognitive dissonance is something that can be overcome, but it is not just a simple step process. The contradicting beliefs need to be consciously acknowledged, breaking the cycle to return to reality instead of fantasy. With the help of an experienced therapist it is possible to create an action plan and set goals for the future. Recovery will take a lot of inner work and acknowledgement of the contradictions. Once the acknowledgement happens, we can begin to work towards feeding the healthy beliefs and behaviours, rather than the more negative ones. It is important to focus on the more supportive beliefs, rather than the dissonant belief and behaviour, reducing its importance. When the importance is reduced, it will be easier to change this belief into one that is more consistent with your other beliefs. The journey for balance in the connection of mind-body-soul is one that is life-long and challenging. It is important to note that change does not happen overnight. Changing beliefs and working towards an internal harmony is something that can take months, and possibly even years. This does not mean that we should not still strive for inner peace. Having a good support system and being committed to change will keep you motivated, as well as promote change.

http://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/psychopaths-as-lovers/

Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

How Do You Spot A Controller?

Controllers often have a very deep seeded need to have everything exactly the way they expect, in order to feel safe, secure, and successful.  Needing to be in control of everything and everyone around us. While in some cases having iStock_000019982235XSmallcontrol is necessary, it is not always so. Most things in life require a power exchange, giving up some of yours in order to gain some of someone else’s. This exchange is essential to healthy relationships. The lack of this exchange causes dysfunction and can lead to resentment. But why is our need for control so deep seeded?

We want control out of fear. It could be a fear of what might happen if we don’t have control. It could be a fear that we will lose all control. Regardless of what the fear is, it drives us to find ways to gain the upper hand in situations that we can’t necessarily change. Anxiety also drives our need for control. This anxiety can be rooted in a fear that our needs will not be met completely by those we care about. We are driven by a fear of being hurt, rejected, humiliated, abandoned, or failure. As a result of this anxiety and fear, we become disappointed, frustrated, and even angry when things don’t go according to plan. Vulnerability and giving over control are uncomfortable for this reason.

There is also an aspect of denial in with certain people. Some people refuse to recognize that they are trying to manipulate and bend others and situations to work the way they want to. This causes conflict in relationships while others begin to recognize the manipulation. Sometimes denial is in the way of seeing shutterstock_83971024the need to control and an easy way to promise conflict in dysfunctional relationships.

There are just some times when we feel like we have lost all control. We may feel lost, or threatened. This can cause turmoil in our relationships and everyday life. We may lash out at those around us in an attempt to force them to give over their control. This makes the power exchange lose equilibrium, causing the other person to push back. Further conflict will just lead to further power struggle, in which no one will get what they need. We can meet our other needs without having complete and total control, but the problem most times is learning to accept that and not make the other person wrong. But how can we learn to accept that we cannot manage everything?

There is no easy answer or way to do so. We need to learn to recognize that it is impossible to control everything and everyone. The world is going to function around us as it will, and the only control we have is over ourselves. It is also important to recognize that in order to gain control, you need to give up some of your control. Relationships are a constant exchange of power, but that does not mean that one is weaker than the other.

Some people are what we call “Controllers”. Controllers try to dictate what you think, say, and feel all of the time. They are perfectionists more often than not, and will refuse to do anything that isn’t the way they would do it. They have an opinion about absolutely everything and will let you know what it is. Their comments border on irritating and abusive, making it hard to be around them. But in reality, many of us can attract a controller. Controllers are attracted to those who are the “victim” type; those with low self-esteem. Controllers find it easy to manipulate victims and have no trouble keeping them under their thumb. This is a very dysfunctional and toxic relationship combination. So what do you do if you are involved with a controller?

Well there are several approaches you can take, most of which won’t work. Going on the offensive is one way to push the buttons of a Controller, but trying to tell them what to do will not work. It is important to remain calm and confid  ent, and sticking to your guns. You can’t let a controller push you around, but you also have to learn to pick your battles. Sweating the small stuff just gives them more leverage in the long run, so standing your ground on the important issues should be priority.

shutterstock_50186851Having power can do a lot of great things as far as self-esteem and confidence are concerned, but too much is never a good thing. As with most things, control is good in moderation. It is important to keep in mind the equilibrium in relationships because they require a power exchange. Your needs can be met without having total control over every one, everything, and every situation. It is most important to remember to treat those we care about with love, respect, and humility.

I Come First: Healthy Boundaries and Avoiding Burn Out

Expectations are a part of everyday life. We have expectations of others and them of us. There are times where there is so much pressure and so much to do, that it may feel like we are running in circles trying to get things done. The constant bombardment with new tasks and added responsibilities can weigh us down. If we are constantly putting ourselves behind others, we get burnt out. There is this constant drained feeling that just overtakes our emotions and our bodies.

shutterstock_62127079  So why do we feel the need to make everyone else happy? The biggest reason may be fear; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, and even fear of being alone. These fears can cause us to do crazy and unreasonable things for those around us, while we need to be thinking of ourselves as well. Finding a healthy balance in between what we need to do for others and what we need to do for ourselves can be a daily struggle. How can you find the balance between yourself and others?

Maintain healthy boundaries. Know when to say no and let others know what you are willing to do. There is no reason for you to be bending over backwards to make everyone happy all of the time. There should be boundaries for the amount of responsibility that other people can put onto you and you onto them. It is important to shutterstock_89030563know that saying no to things is okay.

Take time out for yourself daily. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and just disconnect. Having time by yourself is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time to reflect and heal and replenish your energy. It can be 15 minutes, or it can be 3 hours. But it is important to have that bit of time alone with yourself each and every day.

Ask for help. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, ask for help. If nothing else, talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are taking on. Just getting it out can make a world of difference.

shutterstock_80333077Communicate your feelings to those around you. If you are feeling burnt out and under too much pressure, let those around you know. Communication is vital to every relationship and letting others know what you are feeling can open up doors to solutions you may not have thought possible. Just shutting yourself off from the world will not relieve any pressure, but it will create more problems for you in the long run.

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and burnt out. However, it is how you handle these times that says the most about you. Take charge, find ways to feel empowered, and take care of yourself. At the end of the day, life is much too short to spend it being anything but happy.

 

 

Expectations in Therapy

shutterstock_114450547  The reasons why people seek help in therapy varies widely, but the expectations are the same; change and insight. So why does it sometimes feel like there is little to no change? Why do we feel worse, and not always better? Why do we feel like we are still stuck in the same place as when we started therapy? These are all frequently asked questions for those in therapy. This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the therapist in therapy, as well as a misunderstanding of the client’s role in the relationship. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic relationship, and the roles of both the counsellor and client to better understand it.

The therapeutic relationship seems simple at first glance. It is a relationship that involves a deep trust and understanding, however these are two things that are very hard to develop with a stranger. Feeling unsure of how much to reveal about yourself is completely normal early on in the therapeutic relationship, but going forward it is important that the trust level is increased. Not being able to open up to your therapist slows down or brings the process to a hault. A lack of trust will lead to a lack of open communication, and expecting to get help without taking a look at yourself is completely impossible. It is fair to expect your therapist to facilitate a space in which you feel safe and secure, but it is your responsibility to open up.

Therapists are equipped with tools and strategies to help you work through just about shutterstock_117868852anything, but not every therapist is equipped to handle everything. Depending on their style of therapy and training, one may be well-suited for your needs and another may not be. This is why it is important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of therapy. This will let your therapist know if they will be able to meet your expectations, or if they will need to refer you to another clinician. Do not take a referral as a sign of a therapist giving up on you. Take it for what it is, their attempt to put the help that you require within your reach.

One assumption about your therapist that may not be a conscious one, is that they are going to be able to solve all of your problems. This could not be any further from the truth. In person-centred therapy (which is what the majority of therapy is), your therapist acts as a guide. Your therapist will ask you questions in an attempt to reach your deeper feelings and thoughts, and guide you to the realization of these thoughts and feelings. Your therapist does not have all of the answers. Inside you are the answers that you are looking for, your therapist just helps to shed a different light on these answers.

shutterstock_120187948So what is your role as the client in all of this? Well, put simply, your role is to put in the work that is required in order for you to move forward. This means learning to trust your therapist, having open honest conversations with them (and yourself), and doing the homework that they ask you to do. In order for your therapy to be successful, you need to be open to the experience and willing to take a good hard look at who you are. It is important to keep in mind that your life will not improve instantaneously, and neither will your mood. Often times bringing up the past can be very painful and difficult to deal with. This pain should not be discouraging. It is an important part of the entire process.

A really good question to ask yourself is, what are my goals?  Write them down and work with your therapist towards your goals without any expectations of a time frame.  Failed expectations bring disappointment.  Better to allow the therapeutic process to happen organically rather then trying to control the outcome.

Therapy is challenging, but it is a good way to help you sort yourself out. A therapist can be a good foundation of support and well-being in your life that you may not have otherwise. When discouraged by the process, remember this: it is not the path we take that matters, but the things we learn about ourselves.

Emotional Intelligence

National Bare Day is a campaign to advocate, educate, and change women into becoming more emotionally intelligent. It is an empowering campaign, looking to help women become stronger, more confident, and the leaders that they are meant to be. Emotional intelligence is something that is extremely important to maintain relationships and have inner peace.

Emotional intelligence is about more than just yourself. Emotional intelligence encompasses both the internal and the external, playing an important part in your relationships with others. While many models to explain emotional intelligence do exist, there are some that are more widely accepted than others.

Self-awareness is an important piece of emotional intelligence. Being aware of your own emotions, reactions and values allows for a greater insight into empathy and sympathy, two things that are essential to relationships with others. Becoming aware of your own emotions reinforces your mind-body-spirit connection. By strengthening this connection, you can come in touch with your deepest desires and goals. This is helpful when determining your values, giving you a center for your moral compass. With these values in place, you can become more aware of the impact that your actions have on others.

An exercise to improve self-awareness is to consider situations in the past in which you had a strong emotional response. Consider why you felt the way that you did, your reaction and the outcome in the situation. Consider the appropriateness of your response to this emotion and determine a way in which you could have reacted differently.

shutterstock_90072907Self-regulation is not something that can be easily mastered. With emotions like anger, self-regulation can be a challenge as it is a pure and passionate emotion. When anger goes unchecked, this can lead to serious problems in your relationships. Unchecked anger leads to senseless arguments when you lash out at those that are not the cause for your anger in the first place. Redirecting and controlling your disruptive emotions (i.e. anger) can lead to healthier relationships and a happier you.

An exercise to improve self-regulation is really thinking about what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and what the next steps are going to be. Taking a deep breath before you lash out can be the difference in between a civil conversation and a violent confrontation. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What emotion am I experiencing?

  • What caused me to have this emotion (i.e. anger, sadness, ect.)?

  • How am I going to react to this feeling?

The third question is an extremely important one. This is where controlling your response to an emotion comes into play. Think carefully before you act and react to the emotion(s) that you are feeling to gain the desired outcome.

Social skills are also an important part of emotional intelligence. Knowing how to relate to people and maintain relationships can be challenging in a culture in which rely so heavily on electronic communication. However, social skills are still as important as knowing how to communicate through text messages and e-mail. Picking up on social cues and knowing what is appropriate to say in which situations is at the core of having good social skills. There are many ways to develop better social skills. A few things to consider to develop your social skills are:

  • Approachability – How approachable are you? Do you have a friendly demeanor? Do you have an easy time walking up to others and striking up a conversation?

  • Language – Do you use language that is relatable to those you are speaking to you? Are you using language that is appropriate for the situation that you are in?

  • Active Listening – Are you an active participant in the conversation? Do you find yourself dominating the conversation? Are you really taking the time to listen to and understand what the other person is saying?

shutterstock_102337144Empathy is something that many people struggle with, but it is essential to emotional intelligence. Empathy as part of emotional intelligence is being able to consider someone else’s feelings when making decisions. It is about being able to put yourself in the other’s shoes, and truly feel how they would feel if you were to make a decision. You need to consider all possibilities, and be able to accept the other’s feelings when you make a decision. This comes into play in every relationship, and when empathy is not considered, can form a rift in between both parties.

Empathy is something that comes with time. It is not easy to be understanding and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have to be truly open and receptive to another’s emotions in order to be truly empathetic. Empathy is something that is very important during the recovery process. You need to gain some empathy in order to understand the worry and other feelings that your family and loved ones have experienced while you were addicted. You need to be able to put yourself in their shoes, understand the significance of their feelings, and how those feelings reflect on your past behaviours.

During recovery, emotional intelligence is something that is extremely key to the process. Without an understanding of yourself and the relationships that allowed your addiction to continue, you may not get to the bottom of the root cause of your addiction. In recovery, you experience a complete transformation of your routine, your thinking, and your values. You have to choose life instead of addiction in order for the recovery to shutterstock_117884191be successful. By gaining emotional intelligence during recovery, you can set new goals, new values, and start to evaluate your relationships outside of recovery. You will gain a fuller understanding of what it means to be in a healthy relationship with others, and use your newly set values and goals to determine the validity of the relationships in your life. Emotional intelligence will allow you to start making decisions about which relationships you are going to continue to be a part of and those that you are going to move on from.

Emotional intelligence is something that is much more important than many people realise. It is an essential part of daily life and relationships. Having emotional intelligence will allow you to have a stronger mind-body-spirit connection, and a deeper connection to those that you are about. Gaining more insight into your emotions and those that surround you can allow for a better understanding of yourself and others.