Here is a coping mechanism that is sometimes taught to people who have BPD and/or other mental health diagnosis that include aggression. The technique I am talking about is cooling your extremities. This can be done in multiple ways.
The most common way is to hold an ice cube, or maybe a few of them, in your hand when you are experiencing an increased level of agitation. When ice is not available or practical, you can also let cold water run over your hands.
The reason that this works it that an increase in core body temperature increases the level of irritability in a person. When the body temperature rises, the blood vessels in our bodies open wider. When we introduce ice or another cooling agent, it lowers the temperature and causes the blood vessels to dilate.
I have experience with this technique in both a practical approach as well as an academic approach.
From a practical side I use this technique, as well as running cool/cold water over my hands, to calm myself down and it works wonderfully for me.
I have also had some academic experience with it. Back in 2012 I attended the Yale NEA-BPD Annual Conference, the topic that year was on Impulsivity, Aggression, & Legal Involvement. One of the presenters talked about this technique.
A study was done where inmates, with violent tendencies, were taught to immerse their hands into buckets of ice when they became agitated. Inmates who used this technique showed a that their agitation level was decreased more quickly then those who did not employ the technique.
Now since most of us do not have access to buckets of ice in our day to day life, holding an ice cube, or a few, will have similar affect.
It is important to remember, not every technique works for every person, but I have found this one to be very helpful and often recommend it to others.
It appears there may be some scientific truth to the old expression, “I need to cool off”.
Triggers include: depression, anger, feelings of Despair and hopelessness, torment, defeat, multiple deaths, suicidal ideation, and mention of a severe auto accident.
This post contains numerous triggers and may be difficult for some people to read. If you are in a state where you feel you are more vulnerable to external influences than normal, I would recommend either waiting until you feel more secure before you read this or make sure someone that can ensure your well-being is present. Perhaps the following is not as bad as I make it sound, but I have added this paragraph based on the reaction of someone who read this previously.
The picture (see profile picture) started out because of my love of Supernatural, but as the weeks have gone by I have come to realize they are also a reflection of how I feel inside. For those that are not familiar with the show Supernatural, characters with eyes that are solid black, red, white or yellow are demons. The show tells you that a demon is created from a human soul that has been tortured in hell until nothing is left but a black smoke.
That is how I feel at times, like my very soul has been tortured and stripped raw in hell. I feel at times that if someone were to look into my eyes, truly look into them, that they would see the pain and death in them.
Most of the people in my life, have no idea of the death I carry inside, no matter how close they are to me. Over the years, I have learned to hide a lot of my pain from most people. The people that know me from my younger years never saw this part of me, because it didn’t exist then, it didn’t start forming until around the time I started high school.
I do not think the people I went to high school with saw it that much either, at least they had no idea of the depths of the pain, by the time I got to college, I had learned to hide it.
There are a lot of things that contributed to the stripping away of my soul. Oddly, one of the smaller parts being the fact that I am a mental health consumer. Being a mental health consumer has just taken things to a new level and exasperated the problems, rather than being the main cause of them I feel.
Two of the biggest contributors have been the “decade of death”, a period of about ten years (maybe even a few more) where between my mother’s side of the family and my father’s side of the family, someone died every year, including my mother ten years ago in December.
The second major contributor started seven years ago. I was involved with someone online that meant everything to me. One night I said something to her in an email, out of concern for her because of her actions the night before. The next thing I knew I found out she almost bled to death because she had a flashback to a traumatic event. Ever since that night, even to this day, I have blamed myself for her near death. A few years later, my wife and I were in a bad car accident that almost killed my wife. I cannot help but feel like I am a danger to people I love.
The rage inside me, the rage that comes out at times, the yelling, screaming, throwing things, the bouts of self-harm, all leave me feeling like a monster or a demon at times. Other times, I just feel dead inside. I have sat there against the door, against the cabinets, against the wall, crying and begging for my heart to just explode because I wanted to die. I have sat there desperately wanting to kill myself but something inside of me, for better or worse, preventing me from seriously trying. My inability to try has, during those moments made me feel like an even bigger failure. A bigger failure, because I couldn’t even try to kill myself.
There is so much more that goes on in my day to day life that contributes to my problems that makes things even worse. There are times when I do not feel like I am part of this world. I feel like I am trapped outside of life and looking in on everyone else. I feel totally detached from life. Other times, I see nothing my darkness and pain around me as far as the eye can see.
I see other people happy, sometimes I feel like I remember being happy at one point in my life. Other times, I feel rage and hatred at the world over it because I want to be happy and no matter how much I try, no matter what I do, I feel like I keep getting kicked between the legs. Every time things start to turn around and look like life is getting on track, something else kicks me down. How much can one human being take?
It has been too long since I have posted anything new. Unfortunately, the last ten months or so have been insane for me. My wife was in and out of the hospital and in a nursing home recovering from physical injuries from October 2013 until July 2014. She is finally home and things are starting to settle down, so I should have more time to write; especially, now that I have replaced my kindle that I lost on the metro a few months back.
I have a few ideas for new posts and wanted to share them with you. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Masks – every day we have to wear “masks” in public. It can be difficult, painful and even dangerous.
- GISHWHES – This year I took part in GISHWHES, created and run by Misha Collins. It was a very interesting and fun experience. For those who may not be familiar with GISHWHES, it stands for the “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen”. It was an amazing experience and a lot of fun.
- Change – Recently my work location moved, from a federal office to a corporate office. This has started me thinking about how things change in life. Whether it is “good” change, “bad” change or just plain old every day “change”, we still have to adjust and deal with it.
- Words – A few thoughts on the importance of words and their impact on people. I will talk about how words can be uplifting and how they can be destructive.
- Connections – Throughout our lives, we make connect with people, animals, and even objects. What do these connections mean and how do they affect our lives.
Tuesday evening I got some shocking news from my father. He called to tell me my ex-wife, Marcia, died that morning. I was shocked, she was only 38, three years younger than I am and nine years younger than my wife. I cannot say I felt a personal loss because I did not, but not because I am a heartless person, but because we had not been as part of each other’s lives for the last eight years. In that time I had only seen her once, for about five minutes and had not talked to her in three years.
I have felt a great deal of sorrow and loss though. Not for myself as I said before, but for those who loved her and to whose lives she brought joy. I may not have known many of her friends or family, I may not even have had a positive relationship with most of the ones I did know, but I still hurt for their loss.
There is one friend, Karen, that I know very well and who is my little sister, she may not be related by blood but she is as much a sister to me as anyone could ever be. Like they say, “family don’t end with blood.”
Marcia was her best friend. She loved that girl. I can only imagine how much of an empty spot get death must have left in her heart and soul. Karen I hurt for the most.
Marcia and I may have had our differences and problems, but she was a good and kind person. She cared about people and loved her friends deeply. The fact that the world has lost another good person, which we need more of, also saddens me.
That all brings me to today. I have been depressed all day and could not figure out why. At least, I could not figure it out until about an hour or two ago. It is because of how she died, home alone. It is actually one of the things I fear. Right now, with Anne in the rehab center, I am alone, well I do have miffy, but it is not the same.
It has reminded me of how fragile and unpredictable life is. This has all made me miss Anne even more than I already have been missing her. I only get to see her a few hours each day. Right now, as I write this about the hours before it posts, I want to run to the center and be there with her even if she is asleep.
I have seen a lot of people in my family die over the years, at one point almost one a year for almost a decade. There is so much pain I carry with me, pain that nobody knows about or understands.
I have seen so much death that I guess in some ways I am almost numb to it. I feel like I can never break down, there is always someone who needs me to stay strong. Someone who needs me not to break down.
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Today on the way home from work I was standing in front of the door on the Metro. As I stood waiting from my stop, I saw my reflection in the window. What I saw would be upsetting to most people, maybe even triggering to some.
The following may be triggering to some as I describe what I saw looking back at me in the window in the next two paragraphs.
What I saw looking back at me was death. My eyes were empty, vacant, hollow, sunken and dark. There was no happiness, joy, or hope in them. They were full of pain, sorrow, loneliness and exhaustion. There was no glimmer of life at all.
Then I saw my mouth. There was no smile, not even a small one. The corners were turned down. Not only could I see my mouth, but I could feel the expression on my face. I could feel my facial muscles being pulled down. It was like I had five pounds weights on either side.
The sad part is I wasn’t really feeling depressed or being judgemental. I was just observing my own reflection. It would be like me looking in the mirror and noticing I had dark hair or that when I smile I have a simple on each side.
It is amazing the toll the last few months have taken on me.
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Trigger Warning: Since I haven’t been writing much lately, I figured I would share an update of how things are going. Here is an email I sent to a friend. It should be read with caution as it can be triggering to a number of people.
I just looked at the calendar, and I am off that Monday, 02/17 and could probably afford to take Tuesday off to travel home on that day. I would just need to leave early enough to get home in time to pick up Miffy and watch Supernatural.
I desperately want to come up and see you and everyone else. Even if not that weekend, at some point soon, but as badly as I want to come up, I am scared to come up. I am in such a horrible place these days that I do not want to bring anyone else down or put anyone “at risk”. I want and need to see you guys so badly though.
Dave has asked if there was anything he could do, even offered to come down. Problem is, there is nothing anyone can really do right now. I get up for work at about 5:00-5:30a and do not get home until about 5:30-6p. Then it is often scratch a cat, maybe choke down some food and change clothes before running off to see Anne. I finally get home around 8:00-9:00p, maybe watch a little TV, collapse in bed and pray that there are no disasters at the rehab center that require me to get dressed and drag my less than happy ass back to the center.
Most people do not realize how bad it is for me. There are days when I do not care if I am dead or existing. I will not call it being ‘alive’ because right now all I can really say is that I exist. The only time I really smile or laugh is at work, and mostly because I have to put on that ‘Confessor face’ and pretend that, my existence does not suck totally. I want to give up, but there is something inside me that prevents me from giving up. As long as I know, there is even one person in the world that would be hurt if something happened to me, I will not give up. As much as I hurt on any given day, I do not want to hurt the people I care about in this world.
There are nights I cry myself to sleep. There are nights when I come home and want to collapse against the wall, hug my knees and cry, I have not yet, but damn if there aren’t nights that I don’t want to do it. There is so much going on around here. The worst part is that there is nothing I can do; there is nothing anyone can do.
Anne’s health seems to be getting worse and it is preventing her from being able to do her re-hab. I want my wife back. I am terrified that I am going to lose her. I am worried she is going to die on me. At times, I worry she will never come home. The last two times they took her to the hospital, the hospital was worried it might have been a stroke. Thankfully, it was not. It takes a lot to scare me, at least when it comes to corporeal things. Demons, ghosts, spirits, etc., now that is another story.
Not being able to do anything to help her, not having any control makes things so damn hard for me. I am used to being in control, at least having some control in my life. The less control I have, the harder things get for me. I went about two years without any self-harm, now since October, I have beat the hell out of myself about 4-5 times, even going so far as to hit myself in the head with a pot from the stove and giving myself a nice lump.
I am a mess right now.
Trigger Warning: Most of my posts for the near future will contain a trigger warning since they will reflect my current mindset and feelings. Both of which are filled with pain, anger and helplessness. When I start the articles I do not know how they will turn out so I place a warning on them.
Lately pain, anger, helplessness and uselessness continue to consume me. I watch my wife’s health seemingly decline and cannot do a thing about it. A recent blood test showed she had low levels of red blood cells and platelets and a high level of carbon dioxide.
Today they took a urine culture. You could tell just by looking at it that she has an infection, again. This is the second one she developed since being at this facility. A few hours later I got a call from the CNA on duty that my wife was projectile vomiting. We thought we might need to take her to the ER it was so bad for a while.
Then there are the dreams she is having. The other night she called me in the middle of the night freaked out. She saw five people in Bears uniforms saying they were there to help her.
Her leg and arm muscles seem to be getting weaker as well.
All this is ripping me apart. I am falling back into the self harm mode. It is still infrequent, but it exists again. My anxiety level is through the roof. I had to get my doctor to prescribe me Xanax because the panic attacks were starting to interfere with my daily functioning.
My ability to regulate my mood is deteriorating. Little things are causing me to have intense reactions.
Even seeing others happy fills me with rage and hatred towards them at times. I feel like they are mocking me, throwing their joy in my face. I resent them for it. Why should everyone else get to be happy when my wife and I have to keep suffering. When do we get our turn to be happy and have a good life. It seems like we start to see it and then life pulls it away from us again. No matter what we do it is the same thing.
I just want us to have our turn at being happy. I want us to have a normal life that we can enjoy together. Were we such horrible people in our life that we are being tortured like this?
I only wanted one thing for Christmas, and even that was denied me. All I wanted was to have her back home with me where she belongs.
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Trigger Warning: I am not sure if anything is triggering in this article, but given the nature of it I felt it best to mark it as such. The article talks about my recent mindset and feelings of hopelessness.
Lately I have fallen into a pattern of apocalyptic thinking, fueled by my feeling like my world is crashing down around me. The feeling that there is no hope. I have only seen pain, suffering and endless darkness around me.
I have seen no positive way out of situations, every scenario I have run has seen things ending poorly. No matter how much I analyzed things, it was always the same result, catastrophic. It had all surrounded my wife’s health.
At the end of October, my wife fell and ended up in the hospital and then later a physical therapy rehab center after breaking her toe. Now, the broken toe is far from the only problem at work. She has been suffering from a rash of problems with her feet and increased muscle weakness in her legs all year. She is also epileptic and the doctor was in the process of changing her medication.
After she got to the rehab center, they started messing up her medication. I won’t go into all the details, but they messed it up quite a bit. This among other factors led to increased stress and anxiety on her part. All of it led to get having increased seizure activity.
Here is where the real problems started. For the first few weeks I was working with the center to get her meds right and reduce her anxiety, feeling that was the cause of her increased seizure activity. It was the only thing that had changed. She had been almost completely off one of one of her meds when she got to the rehab center because of the change. She had been coming off it for over a month and her level of seizure activity had not increased. The amount she had been on when she got there has no real therapeutic value.
Then one day her mother came to visit her and saw my wife having the increased activity. She ran to her husband and had him make an appointment for my wife had the neurologist. She wanted my wife back on the medication she was just coming off. It is a ****ing miracle drug in her mind. This was done without talking to my wife or I. When the appointment came around I was not available because I didn’t have enough advance notice to get off work.
Then at a family planning meeting, to go over my wife’s care at the rehab center, her mother commented about talking to her father because he has dealt with her case for years and has power-of-attorney. Next, she had the doctor increase the medication she had come off of back to three times a day, again without talking to either of us.
This was the last straw and where the damn broke. I told my wife I could not be involved in her care anymore because of her parents. If they were going to get involved and take over, then I could not be involved. I could not live with them taking over like that. Knowing her mother the way I do, I saw no way to tell them to butt out, especially after her mom threw the fact that her father had power-of-attorney in my face at that meeting, without it being catastrophic.
I could, and still do, only see the following outcomes:
1. Best case – Her parents want nothing to do with us/me for a short time, but eventually come around and everything goes back to normal.
2. Her parents tell me I am not welcome in their home anymore and want nothing to do with me.
3. Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife never comes to hate and resent me for it.
4. Worst case – Her parents refuse to have anything to do with either of us and my wife eventually comes to hate and resent me for it.
I am terrified that this will cost me my marriage eventually. I don’t want to lose my wife, but I don’t want her to lose her parents either. I would love to believe that everything will work out fine, but I cannot believe it will.
Before I start the article, I want to go over a few things. First, I have my opinions on where the blame lies for the shutdown. Second, I will not go into such things in this article. Finally, I will not approve any comments that talk about the politics of the situation.
Over the past few weeks, those of you living the United States have undoubtedly seen and heard many stories about the affect the shutdown of the federal government has on the economy, at all levels, and the affect it has on many social programs around the nation. While these are all true and serious concerns, there is one thing I have not heard anything about at all, the impact that the shutdown is having on the mental well-being of the furloughed employees and their families.
As one of the 800,000 furloughed employees and the only source of income for my wife and I, I can provide a little insight into this aspect of the shutdown.
The shutdown has greatly increased my stress level, kept me up at nights worrying about how I would put food on the table and pay my bills. These symptoms did not start on October 1st when the government shutdown, rather they started about a week before the shutdown as it became apparent that the shutdown was inevitable. Each day the stress and anxiety around the office increased, each day there was less productivity because all we could think about was what are we going to do if they do not pull a miracle out of their ass and fund the government? How were we going to pay our bills? How were we going to feed our families?
It is more than just stress and sleepless nights, those two combined have left me feeling physically ill.
I have on more than one occasion felt like a failure and useless because I could not guarantee that I could provide for my wife and I. It has left me increasingly frustrated and angry; especially, since I am hard working and for the last eight years have earned excellent performance reviews from my managers, performance awards and other forms of recognition. It has left me feeling helpless and powerless, to be put in this situation without having done anything wrong and not being able to do anything but sit at home and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Congress to get their heads out of their proverbial asses.
With every day that passes without a resolution, my emotional state deteriorates and I become more stressed. Everyday, I have to fight even harder to keep myself as emotionally regulated as possible. Each day it becomes more difficult.
Sadly, in some cases I am one of the luckier ones. It is just my wife and I. I know a number of people that are married with children, where both parents work for the government. Good hardworking, responsible people who are in the same situation I am in, but even worse off because they have kids. Some of them have some savings while others have had to use up all or most of their savings for medical bills.
How many other workers face mental health challenges? How many of them will suffer severe set backs to their health? How many of them will end up losing their lives if this situation drags on much longer?
These politicians forget, or maybe they do not care, that they are screwing with the lives of human beings. People that are hard working dedicated employees with families, people who just want to do their jobs. People who work for the government, for less money than they could in the private sector, because they love their country.
Recently, I received some news that has left me troubled. There are two problems with this. The first is that worrying is a useless and wasted emotion. The second problem is that at this point there is no confirmation of the problem.
The doctors require more information before they can say it is a problem. The reason is that what they are seeing may be pre-existing and not a new or worsening problem. It may just be status quo.
Let us look at both problems one at a time.
The first problem is worrying about the situation at all. No amount of worrying about a problem will correct the problem. If you worry a little, a lot or not at all it will affect things in the same manner. The effect will be nothing. It reminds me of something that the Dalai Lama once said, and I am paraphrasing, if you have a problem but no solution exists there, is no reason to worry and if you have a problem and a solution does exist there is no reason to worry.
If a solution exists, what do you gain through worrying? Enact the solution and the problem will go away. If there is no solution, not all the worrying in the world will make the problem go away and you have a great opportunity to use the skill of radical acceptance.
The second problem is that right now there is no confirmed problem. I am “borrowing trouble”, or in other words, I am creating a problem where one does not yet exist. We all have enough real problems, stress, and difficulties and flat out drama that we need to deal with every day that we do not need to make up new ones that are not there. Besides the universe will kindly provide you with real things to deal with if you really feel the need for more problems.
Worrying about problems that do not exist wastes valuable time and energy. There is a discipline called risk management in which you identify, categorize and provide a plan for how you will deal with a possible risk.
For example, if you live in hurricane alley, you know there is a high risk that a storm a hurricane will hit during certain months. You would come up with a plan on how to mitigate the risk as if you cannot mitigate it; how you would, deal with it is it happens. The plan might include having a bag packed fit each member of you household, including your pets, in case you need to evacuate. It may also include making sure you have enough canned goods, batteries, after, etc on hand in case you lose power.
Once you have the plan in place, you do not worry about it anymore. You do not sit there worrying that maybe a hurricane will hit this weekend especially if there is no tropical activity.
I joke at times, I might walk out my front door and are hit by a meteor, but you know what, I am not going to worry about it actually happening. I could be hit by a car walking across the street, again I am not going to worry about it and assume it will happen. I will make sure I am careful crossing the start though. If I worried about everything that could happen, I would be paralyzed with fear and never move.
I need to try to live my life and only deal with actual problems that exist without making up be ones.