I learnt something very interesting in my psychology session the other day after I asked my therapist whether or not she thought it was possible that I could have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) due to my inability to maintain relationships and feel attachment to people. I dated someone with BPD whose similarities to me were uncanny and this, along with the fact he continually told me I suffered from it, prompted me to finally get up the courage and ask my psychologist once and for all. Turns out, there is a very fine line between simply having the traits and having the actual disorder. The way she explained it was this:
- Picture a circle with three lines stemming from it. The circle is the circle of sensitivity and each line represents a sensitivity – these being Separation, Esteem and Safety.
- The lines are like a continuum and if you sit in the circle you are what’s considered “normal” although there is no such thing as normal.
- The closer you are to the circle the further away from a disorder you are but it is perfectly natural to experience traits in each of the three categories: Separation, Esteem and Safety. It is when you cannot control your feelings/traits that each of these can then become a disorder. Separation turns into Borderline, Esteem turns into Narcissistic and Safety turns into Schizoid.
- Each person sits along these continuums and I just so happen to have Borderline traits but this does not mean I have Borderline Personality Disorder. It would also be perfectly natural for me to exhibit Narcisstic and Schizoid traits and again this does not mean I have the disorder.
My relationship problems (and she’s been my therapist through 6 relationships now) stems from my choice in men. I choose men who “need me”. Men who expect their needs to be met before my own. And that is where the problem lies. As demonstrated by the main female character in “The Silver Linings Playbook” – “Time after time, I do all this shit for other people. And then I wake up and I’m empty, I have nothing.” It is also when I am putting other people’s needs before my own that my picking gets worse. I pick at myself both metaphorically and physically.
When I am happy in life and happy in myself my picking lessens because I feel worthy! When I am in a relationship and my needs aren’t being met or are just outright being ignored I take this out on myself by picking at my skin. I also do this when someone is bothering me and instead of telling them I have a problem with what they are doing; I go to the bathroom instead and PICK PICK PICK! I need to stop internalising other people’s problems and picking myself because of it. My therapist said I need to realise that their issues are their issues and I don’t have to take them on. Their issues are for them to deal with – I have my own that I need to sort out!
Now this is hard for me to do because I like to help other people. In fact my dream in life is to help others. I feel like I have experienced so much pain in order to help others through theirs. I am also a good listener. BUT I realise now that I am not in the correct mental space to be taking on other people’s issues while I am still sorting out my own. This does not mean I have to stop being a kind, caring friend to others – it simply means I do not have to beat myself up (pick at my skin) when I cannot solve their problems. The best thing I can do right now is BE HAPPY and show them how they can be as well; and also to stop dwelling on the negatives and start focusing on the positives. Life is what you make it… and I choose to make life FANTASTIC!!
It’s been a week since I started on this stop picking journey and for the most part my skin has been getting better. I haven’t stopped cold turkey but I have definitely cut down! I was going to post a picture for you all to see my improvement but I had a little slip up last night and turned two almost healed scabs on my face into two nice open wounds. I started to get angry at myself when I saw my reflection in the mirror this morning and then I stopped. I decided to be kind to myself instead. I told myself “You’ve been sick in bed with gastro for the last two days and it’s stressed you out. You’ve only made two sores so just leave them alone from now on and don’t be so hard on yourself.” This is a big change from the negative internal dialogue I used to succumb to.
Anyway sorry all for the delayed post – this stomach flu has really knocked me. And also the conversation I have written about between me and my therapist is not to be taken as medical/psychological advice and may not be accurate word for word. This is what I remembered from our conversation and I thought the theory she discussed might make sense to others as it did to me. I have also told her I want to stop picking, I don’t need it anymore to which she replied something along the lines of “Wow this is the first time I’ve ever heard you say you actually want to stop; before you would always hold onto it because it was your only coping strategy.” So now, together with her help, we will be looking for healthy coping strategies that can be used to replace the picking as she mentioned I can’t quit until I find something to replace it with. Otherwise what will I do when I’m stressed? How will I cope without my picking?