News for August 2012

Experiencing an Episode from the Other Side

We typically experience episodes from the side of being the ones going through the episode and what it feels like. However there are two sides to each episode, the side of the person going through the episode (self-harming, whose emotions are dysregulated, etc) and the person(s) observing the episode.

Last night, I got an opportunity to be the person on the other side of the episode. My wife had a severe episode composed of intense dysregulation and splitting. I will not go into the specifics of the episode, only that it occurred, that it was directed mostly at me and what components I observed.

You might be thinking that someone who is themselves a different thinker would be at a disadvantage and bad position in a case like this.
In some ways, being a different thinker can be an asset, in others a hindrance. Part of it depends where along the path you are and what you have learned. The more you have learned and mastered the more it can become an asset.

As a different thinker, I have had to learn several ‘tricks’ to deal with my own episodes. The same tricks, I have had to learn to cope with my episodes, work just as well in coping with another person’s episodes.

One way it can help is that when you have been through episodes yourself, it becomes easier to empathize. You may not have been through the exact same thing, but you can understand what it feels like to be dysregulated. If you can keep a hold of that knowledge, you can also use it to stay regulated.

Some of these tricks can also be applied to other people as well. For example, you can easily use something like Opposite to Emotion Action with another person.
Last night when my wife was full of anger and depression, I put on a few sitcoms and Caddyshack, a movie she likes and is funny as hell to counter the current negative emotions. At the same time that it helped her it helped me from becoming dysregulated myself.

While it is never pleasant to be on the receiving side of someone’s episode, there is another positive aspect to come out of it. The episode gives you another opportunity to practice and develop your coping skills.

Today was challenging at times. I was trying to cope with the backlash from yesterday. While my wife was in her episode, I did not have an opportunity to ‘break down. I needed to remain as regulated as possible; however, this put a strain on me. This is where being a different thinker can be a bit of a hindrance. While someone who is not a different thinker may find it ‘easy’ to let things just roll off, the barrage from yesterday threatened to overwhelm me today.
In order to counter it I had to use several skills at once. As I explained to a friend of mine, this afternoon, I was doing the following things to prevent myself from being overwhelmed.

  • understanding that how she feels does not accurately reflect the facts
  • understanding that there are things that need to change based on how she is feeling #things I can do better#
  • accepting that her feelings are legitimate feelings and not ‘wrong’
  • any number of coping techniques to prevent things from overwhelming me (e.g. distracting myself with work as much as possible for now, going outside and relaxing at lunch time, etc.)

Edited: August 28th, 2012

Catching Some ZZZZ

As I sit here, tired, on the train heading to the office I am reminded of how important getting enough sleep every night is to our health. I am sure we all know that if we do not get enough sleep it is harder to function the next day.

Our bodies are more sluggish, so we are not physically able to respond to things as fast as we normally can. We are also more prone to getting sick because chronic lack of sleep alters the immune system, making it less effective.

A good night’s sleep lets our body unwind and reenergize. It is why you feel less stressed when you get good night of sleep. Lack of sleep causes increased emotional reactivity, especially, to negative stimuli. The lack of sleep affects the same area of the brain that bpd affects, the amygdala. The amygdala is one of the primary centers of emotions in people.

While sleep is important for anyone, it becomes more critical for different thinkers whose processing of emotions is affected by the way they think. Failing to get enough sleep on a regular basis will only serve to make it more difficult to process our emotions in a safe and balanced way.

I know from personal experience that getting proper sleep doors have a huge impact on my ability to control my emotions the next day. For me, I need at last five hours of sleep each night to deal with an average amount of stress with relative ease. The more sleep I get, the easier it becomes to handle increased stressors. The opposite is true as well. The less sleep I get, the harder it is to deal with even small amounts of stress.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890316/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

 

Edited: August 8th, 2012

Different Thinking

I personally hate the term ‘mental illness’. The term itself promotes stigma by implying there is something ‘wrong’ with the person. Instead, I will use the terms ‘different thinking’ and ‘different thinker’ instead. I am not even sure I like the term ‘different thinking’ because it still sets people apart from one other. Since I need some term, and I find different thinking to be much less objectionable than mental illness, I will use that from now on, on this blog.

Conditions like borderline personality disorder (bpd) and bipolar disorder (bp) involve thinking differently than others. It is not the different thinking itself that causes the problems, it is when the different thinking manifests itself in harmful and destructive ways that trouble arise.

Our ability to think differently is itself an advantage. It allows us to see things in ways that others do not. It allows us to create new things and solve problems in unique ways. It also lends itself to enhanced creativity. If everyone thought the same way, where would the world be today? It is when people think in unique and different ways that new inventions and new discoveries are made. It is people who think differently than everyone else that advance society, not the people who think like everyone else.

For example, people such as Marilyn Monroe and Princess Di are both suspected as having had bpd. While others such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ludwig von Beethoven and Winston Churchill are all confirmed or suspected of having bp. These are just a few historic people that were different thinkers.

A study conducted by Duke University found that as many as 49% of United States presidents, between 1776 and 1974 were different thinkers. There is a long list of famous contemporary different thinkers as well. Included in this list is Dr. Marsha Linehan who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to treat patients with bpd and National Football League (NFL) Wide-receiver Brandon Marshall, both of whom are diagnosed with bpd.

Unfortunately, society still discriminates, stigmatizes and harasses people that are different. The stigma associated with bpd is so severe that is hard to find a list of famous people with bpd; however, with it affecting about 2% of the population, and the fact that different thinking is prevalent in both genders, all nationalities and economic classes, you can rest assured that they are out there.

The combined contributions these people made to, and in the case of contemporary different thinkers continue to make to the world is remarkable. They have changed the world, where would we be without Sir Isaac Newton’s contributions to mathematics and physics? Where would we be without the contributions of Charles Darwin to evolution or Ludwig von Beethoven to music?

It is not although they were different thinkers that these people made and continue to make such large contributions to society. It is because of the fact that they are different thinkers. If all these different thinkers were able to have the success and make such profound contributions to the world, then any one of us can as well. The trick is learning how to control the more destructive parts of different thinking and learning how to use the positive aspects of it.

Edited: August 3rd, 2012

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