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I think I have reached an epiphany of sorts...

(20 Posts)
forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 07:42:53

I have nc.

After reading this 100 common traits of people with personality disorders I thinking my mother may have had one.

To be honest, it's not a huge leap of faith, bit seeing how many of the behaviours she exhibited, it's unlikely that she didn't. I am no contact with her.

The issue for me now is this.

She has severely affected me and I exhibit a lot of the traits listed.

For example self loathing, avoidance, perfectionism, fear of abandonmemt, circular conversation etc.

I only have the traits that cause me to damage myself directly. And you only have to read the posts under my usual name to see all of them and then some.

I finding making and maintaining friendships hard and only feel good about myself when I'm single. My self loathing is inversely proportionate to the duration and quality of the relationship. The relief I feel upon ending a relationship is overwhelming sad

I don't seek to control other people. I deliberately withdraw from them so that I don't inflict myself upon them, or end/avoid relationships where I worry I will damage them.

I don't know if I have also developed a PD as a result of emotional trauma growing up, or whether I've just internalised my mother's view of me.

All I know is that I feel deeply worthless. I can't even begin to think of myself as having any intrinsic value. I feel completely vulnerable to beimg replaced.

I really do feel like I've reached a fork in the road, but I don't know what to do next.

Obviously, I can seek therapy, but I don't have much time or money to spare for it.

I've tried self help books but my beliefs are so deeply entrenched that I'm not even sure they're wrong or could be challenged. But I need to find a way to be able to live.

I don't even mean to have friendships/relationships. Just to be able to get through life.

What do I do next?

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 07:58:41

I suppose what I'm asking is how to go about it.

Do I just look on BPS website? I had a psych referral for an asd assessment a couple of years ago that I didn't follow up. Would I still be able to access that but explain this? (Didn't follow it up because, although I have aa number of asd traits, I wasn't convinced there might not be an alternative explanation)

suchafuss Wed 15-Jul-15 08:22:24

I could have written this post as i too read the same article about an hour ago! Im thinking the same that perhaps its me who has issues so I am watching with interest and its good to know that I am not alone.

saturnvista Wed 15-Jul-15 08:23:20

I think that list is codswallop to be honest. Many of those traits are exhibited by people who don't have a personality disorder as such and most of us are not entirely free from them. I would be wary of looking at a person through the lens of that list and then deciding that a personality disorder is present.

saturnvista Wed 15-Jul-15 08:25:48

Just to respond to the main thrust of your one can help you if you're not prepared to put a massive amount of time and energy into changing. Change is difficult and all-consuming. There are online programmes that others could advise better about - but you would have to be prepared to work.

suchafuss Wed 15-Jul-15 08:31:14

I want to add that i had many many relationships before getting together with my husband who was the only one to see through my behaviour and realise that i was angry about my past and had unresolved issues. I knew him for 12 years as a friend first and he knew my family so was aware of the dysfunctional family dynamics. I also started a degree in psychology that has helped me to see things more clearly but i still feel pretty worthless at times and its something that I'm working on. I know that therapy would help but just not brave enough yet. Do your work provide councelling services as part of your employment package? My husbands do so that may be worth exploring.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 08:33:24

Well no, the list prpted my thinking rather than anything. I wasn't seeimgIit as a diagnostic tool.

Probably shouldn't have linked to it! The issues with my mother are historic (I haven't seen her for over 3 years). I've spent years trying in counselling trying to correct her damage. I'm just beginning to think that it might require more than common or garden counselling.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 08:38:41

Oh and my mother's entire family is nc with her. It's not just me.

She is not allowed any contact with my children (via ss assessment) because her self centred behaviour/choices is a risk to them. I need to make sense of it somehow...

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 09:10:28

This book:
goes into a lot of the sort of questions that deeper psychotherapy looks at. Writing down answers to them might help as an initial step if you're limited in what you can afford. (Though it does have the potential to make you worry about interactions with your own children.)

This is good also, and is wise about pacing yourself which is useful to bear in mind if you are looking at doing stuff yourself, and also for learning to tell therapists what you're comfortable with:

Would also recommend: EMDR (with a therapist experienced in addressing longer term childhood trauma, not just single incident; if it works on you it can be more effective in 'bang for your buck' terms than just talking), meditation (which doesn't have to be expensive)

Anniegetyourgun Wed 15-Jul-15 09:34:57

I had a psych referral for an asd assessment a couple of years ago that I didn't follow up. Would I still be able to access that but explain this? (Didn't follow it up because, although I have aa number of asd traits, I wasn't convinced there might not be an alternative explanation)

That's slightly backwards thinking IMO. The point of the psych referral would be to explore whether that was the problem or not. So if you're not convinced there isn't an alternative explanation, a psychiatric assessment is as good a starting point as any. They can eliminate that one from the list and hopefully suggest the next avenue to look down. You don't always wait to go to the doctor's until you can tell them exactly what's wrong... do you?

Were you perhaps afraid they'd say you did have it and would be better off not knowing, or better off not having it on official record; or did you perhaps feel that you should do the research yourself because you were not worth their professional time? Because you are, you know - everyone is. You don't have to be good to be worth it, you just have to be a living human being. However badly your mother made you feel about yourself you can surely grant yourself that much.

Kintsugi Wed 15-Jul-15 09:59:50

If you have been unloved by your mother you will have developed a critical inner voice, you are very astute to realise it may be your mother..
Everybody has this "inner voice" and most people who had a normal emotional development will find it saying things like:
"I've had a really good day"
"Look how well i've done"
"This is making me happy, I must do more of this.."

someone with a critical inner voice will hear

"These are all thie things I did wrong today - I must try harder, I'm so stupid"
"Theres so much wrong with this thing I'v e done, I dont know why I try I'm hopless"
"Is this making you happy ? what do I need to do to make others love me and make them happy, I need to more..achieve more...."

same person - same events - different outlook

It really is very very hard to change that voice and there are all kinds of exercises to do this:
externalising it - so have a doll or toy that you imagine saying those critical things about themselves - often pictured as a younger you - and then in your external voice - you comfort them - and hence yourself - and you should quite quickly start to see that the critical voice is unreasonable

Challenge it
perhaps making two lists
one which you know to be facts about yourself - how you are personality traits you can own - based on evidence
and another which is generated by the critical voice
which is inevitably almost impossible to own - and certainly not provide evidence for

there is a huge amount of reading available on the subject but not all of it will resonate with you at any one particular time - depending where you are in your journey.

I know EDMR is being bandied about a lot at the moment as the "Cure all" but the evidence is that its only as effective as...talking about what hurts/hurt you whilst playing Tetris..the eye movements create a distraction and desensitise you to single traumatic events...however a whole childhood ...not so easy..

Heres a question - do you actually see yourself - or if asked to describe yourself and your personality- do you do so by patching together things other people have said about you ?

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 14:06:24

EMDR can be useful for things that are hard to verbalise eg because they were experienced very early - but it does largely target things that happened and their effects; neglect isn't quite the same as, say actual scenes of abandonment or abuse which keeps replaying themselves. There are specific protocols for treatment of long term complex trauma.

CBT, for example, by and large tries to change the way you feel via changing the way you think. When trauma is in implicit/unconscious/felt memory, that can't always get at it sufficiently, or it takes a long time. In some cases, a person can tell themselves phrases from CBT but the emotional-physiological reaction to the thing that's upset them is still all over the place and the thoughts can't control it very well. EMDR, for many of those it works for (there is a subset of people it just doesn't seem to work on), changes the way they feel first, and this can make changing the rest more rapid.

On a more personal level - something I experienced but haven't seen in the textbooks, probably less common: I found it opened something up that enabled me to benefit from simply talking about things; I couldn't really process emotions and events by talking about them before EMDR, but after a few sessions, I suddenly understood what the point of person centred, psychodynamic etc actually was.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 18:12:53

To be fair, Annie, it wasn't really backward thinking. It was very literal thinking. Which is one of the things that led them to think it was worth investigating in the first place

I didn't have anyone else, very close friends or any family, to talk it through with.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 18:13:56

Thanks for the book recommendations. I'll look into them.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 18:24:57

kintsugi not astute really. Cut contact with her 3.5yrs ago and it was still happening. I can remember much of it from my childhood very vividly.

I find the externalising approach difficult, tbh. I've also done that challenge approach on my own previously. Although I didn't realise that's what I was doing! I find it very difficult to focus on anything that challenges my current way of thinking for long enough for it to be useful. I find I have to focus really hard to stop it from slipping out of view. If that makes sense. And I can't process it. It's like it doesn't make sense and my grasp on it is quite transient.

Your last question is really interesting! I think I describe myself in terms of things I do, rather than who I am which was picked up by a previous counsellor. If I describe myself, I think I probably piece together from what others say.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 18:37:17

Marwoods thank you for your reply. I didn't qualify for cbt on the nhs and I'm not sure it would work because, essentially, I don't think the way I think is wrong. I think my mother was unkind for saying many of the things she did, but other people have echoed them since (things about me not being good enough, or too fat, or incompetent.) I just think that if I hadn't heard itlall from her first, I might be able to filter some of it out.

I think I only hear things that reaffirm the bad things I think and don't see things that might challenge it. I assume if people say bad stuff they're tellimg the truth and if they say nice stuff they're taking the piss or want something from me. I don't ever think it's sincere, even if it's something more than one person has said. And it physically hurts if I try and force myself to process it.

forkintheroad Wed 15-Jul-15 18:40:56

I also interpret things to support the negative view I have. So if it's not clear what someone means, I automatically interpret it in the most negative way.

I am aware of the alternative/more neitral interpretation (eventually), but it doesn't make sense and I can't believe it

saturnvista Wed 15-Jul-15 21:34:54

Do you honestly 100% not believe the alternatives to negative views of yourself? I think I know how that feels.

The way I explained it to myself was to start by thinking if I would really write someone else off as worthless - did I truly believe that some people were worth more than others? After a lot of thought I decided that while some people might have more conspicuous/useful positive traits, a lot of people were attractive and apparently of higher value because they'd been raised to think they were. I came to these conclusions after contact with children and adults who'd hadn't been well nurtured in life - they had grown up in foster care and had been rescued from abusive home situations (I didn't work with them in a professional capacity but simply as a volunteer). To see a child hurting and actually believing cruel messages from an adult broke my heart. They had clearly been given the message that they deserved to be punished and it was clearly such crap but they'd been broken to the point that they believed it. In some cases, I could look in from the outside and know they were worth more than they thought. In other cases it was harder, I think because they'd been denied what they needed for so long. I think they'd never had a chance to learn how to elicit positive responses from others and had also begun to act out the negative beliefs they'd internalised from others. All of which confirmed to them that they were as worthless and unattractive as they'd been told they were. I honestly was not able to give myself a chance until I realised that I did truly believe that every person I met - regardless of what they believed about themselves - was as precious as cherished members of my own family (who knew how to love because they'd always been loved).

All that to explain how I came to the conclusion that no one is rubbish; it was illogical and rather self-indulgent for me to think I was some kind of 'special case' in being worse than everyone else, no matter what I felt.We're all flawed and everyone finds themselves in situations where they don't look good, especially when they're too scared to act from the heart.

That's not to say I have exactly the gifts and personality traits I would have chosen. I'm not very normal. I've had to grieve for not being someone who finds life effortless. It's hard work to see the value in the person that I actually am, but over time I've realised that I wouldn't give it up to be anyone else. I actually like the way I see the world.

If you were once a little girl who heard lies about yourself, please don't be the one to say it's impossible for her to make good. You were let down by the people who should have believed in you - unfair as it is, it comes down to you now. We never really lose that child we used to be and all children come with responsibility.

forkintheroad Fri 17-Jul-15 00:16:00

No. I don't believe them.

More than that, I met a friend last night who essentially told me that I am a shit friend because I don't give anything of myself physically, emotionally, or practically.

She said I'm going to end up alone if I keep people at arms length and don't let them in.

I feel so bad about myself, and find other people so difficult, I've effectively let it become true.

My mother was right.

saturnvista Fri 17-Jul-15 08:24:32

I'm sorry you've been hurt so badly flowers

There are other ways of looking at what's just happened.

You have a friend who cares enough about you to make herself vulnerable to you - first of all by becoming your friend and allowing you close - she obviously did because this has led to her becoming hurt. When people are hurting, they often put things more strongly than they mean to. Bear this in mind. Your friend also cares enough about the friendship to ask you for more than you're currently giving and give you difficult information that she thinks you really need to have if you're going to stay connected to other people. That's a big thing in this day and age of disposable friends who are 'phased out' when they put a foot wrong. To be honest, there have been times in my life when I would have been so glad to think that someone liked me enough to want something - anything! - from me.

You've made a leap of logic that feels sensible but doesn't make sense when looked at closely - I believe that's a thought process worth challenging.

Thought 1: Friend says I keep people at arm's length and don't give of myself.
Alternative response to your response: I know I have wounds that affect how I relate to other people and want to work on this. I already know that I can hurt others in my anxiousness to avoid rejection etc. My friend obviously wants me to work on this too because she cares about the friendship enough to confront me. If she thought I was worthless or unlovable, she might not have bothered to say anything. This is a valuable opportunity for me to work on changing the behaviours that have been holding me back and preventing me from healing and getting closer to others. I now need to make sure my friend feels heard and let her know I'm open to changing.

Thought 2: As a result of the messages my mum gave me, I feel bad about myself. That's led to me behaving ^as if what my mum said about me was correct.^
This is partly true. You are recognising that your behaviour is the result of feeling bad about yourself - damage that was inflicted by your mum. You can see that this has led to a negative cycle in which you behave in a manner that makes you feel even worse.

Thought 3: My mum was right when she said I was worthless/unlovable.
This is totally illogical. Your mum told you a lie about your value as a person and you've acted as if the lie was true. It doesn't mean that the lie actually was true. Even now, the lie is still not true, though your failure to realise this has had a far-reaching impact on your friendships and self-image. The way you are acting now is in response to misinformation about yourself that you've been carrying for a very long time.

You are caught in a cycle that has the power to hold you there because you believe it. If you were to start challenging these core beliefs in your thought life and work on acting out behaviour that goes against what you currently believe about yourself, the cycle's power will weaken. This is not going to happen by sitting down and saying 'my mum was right'.

If you had a friend or a foster child who was clearly unhappy, thought she was crap and held other people at arm's length because she thought she had nothing to give, would you think, 'I know she had a cruel mother who told her she was useless. Seems like her mother was right.' Or would you think, 'It's really sad that she still believes those lies her mum told her. It's obvious that her behaviour is negatively affected as a result of what she's been told about herself'?

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