Emotional Tool Belt

Lets take a break today from the hard, raw emotional shit and talk a little about things that may (or may not) help you when you’re in a bad place.  I am not trained in any of this, I am merely going to give you a few ideas that have helped me and continue to help me.  That being said this list could be endless, but given some recent life events, and some feedback from other people it seems like we all might be having a bit of a hard time for one reason or another.   For this reason I’m going to concentrate on things to do when life gets really rough, really dark and small tasks alone are hard to complete.  I found it really helpful to create myself an emotional tool belt, if you will, full of things that help.  Sometimes they made me feel better, but at the very least they kept me going.

When you are already in a bad place it is really hard to see the things you are accomplishing, its easier to get caught up in the “not enough” train of thought.  I call this first tool Counting Victories.   I used two mason jars (just make sure you can see inside them) and I bedazzled the shit out of them.  On one I wrote ‘little’, and the other I wrote ‘big’.  Little was for little victories such as: brushing teeth, getting out of bed, washing my face, doing makeup, being early/on time for work, flossing my teeth, putting 5 things away, talking to a friend.  Big victories was things like: leaving the house, spending time cleaning, doing dishes, showering, excersizing, eating, standing up for myself (that was considered huge for me).   You can make your own list of things and actually have them written out if that helps you,  I had explained this idea to a few friends who would occasionally ask about them, and sometimes they would suggest a larger sum for the victories.  So, I used change in mine, but you could use marbles, any kind of small item, just try and have a difference between the little and big items.  Little was 5 or 10 cents (depending on how hard that task was that day), and big was anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar.  This tool was massively helpful, because on those days I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything I’d do this and see the amount of money was going into my jar.  I kept it all in the jars and let it build up, but you could swap it out every day if you wanted to really see that build up of things.  We often don’t give ourselves enough credit for doing all these small things when they can be extremely hard and exhausting to accomplish.

Tool number two was one that I picked up from a therapy group, and I don’t know what they named it, but lets just call it an Emotional First Aid Kit. Now, the things that go into this are extremely individual, and like the last one I suggest setting it up when you are in a more stable ‘wise mind’ type of place.  So do some digging and make a list of things that comfort you, smells, sounds, tastes, activities (healthy ones please), and put them in a box.  You can cover this box with photos, or quotes that make you happy: animals, destinations, empowering or inspiring quotes.  I’ll give you an idea of some things that are in mine.  A little notebook and my favourite pen, some old photos and drawings that make me smile, word searches, a lip gloss that I like the smell of, tea, a candle, a list of activities like: go for a walk, watch a funny animal video, play piano, go to yoga, go to the gym.  A tiny wee stuffed animal that I love the texture of.  An elastic (I’ll get to that one in a second), a little list of happy memories, a list of people to call (thats actually not in it, but I should add it).   So get creative! Add as many things as you want, go for things that occupy your mind, or your senses.

These last two tools are smaller, take less work but I find them really helpful.  One is when I’m feeling paticularly bad I wear an elastic around my wrist and it serves several purposes.  One is occupying my hands when I start to get anxious or worked up, I’ll play with it or twirl it in my hands and it helps keep me grounded in the moment.  Another is when I am feeling very depressed and destructive, and have urges to self-harm I will snap it on my wrist to create just a little sting.   The last one is actually an app that I downloaded months ago that I found has been really helpful and its called ‘Virtual Hope Box’.  Its free and it has games, meditations, and a bunch of things that are helpful.  I actually have a little folder on my phone called ‘Distress Tolerance’ with apps that help me when I’m in a bad place-an Emotional Tool Box for my phone/to go if you will.   (Disclaimer: I am not being paid to tell you about this app, I just found it really helpful)

Those are a few things that have helped me a lot.  If there is anything that you like please leave a comment below! I love new ideas, and I’m sure it would be helpful to everyone else reading this too!

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Too Damn Much

Today was one of those damn days: everything is harder to accomplish, your body hurts, you want to cry for no (or every) reason, and every little thing goes wrong. For some kind of inexplicable reason.  Just too damn much to carry around with you, and you just end up snapping, crying, getting hysterical, or somehow keeping it together until you can hide in your bed with a glass of wine, and a to do list you’re choosing to ignore.

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(Involuntary) Emotional Abuse

Alright folks.  This is it.  By far the hardest damn post that I have ever written.  I have been writing this one in my head since the beginning, and every time I write it I just start with this huge long apology, explanation and excuse for the people I’m going to mention.  I am so terrified to tell this part of my story. My heart is pounding in my chest, and I’m so scared that I’ll be judged, hated, told I’m making it up. I’m afraid that it’s  an explanation that turns me into the bad guy for telling the world (or the few people in it who read this) about my feelings and experiences relating to invalidation and emotional abuse.  But I keep having to remind myself just that.  They are MY feelings, and MY experiences, and I am speaking my truth.  One that I need to speak of, because its eating at me, it feels like someone is constantly twisting my heart into tiny broken pieces and its not okay for me to make myself suffer further out of fear.  I remember growing up it was this huge thing that I wasn’t allowed to tell my friends what went on in our house.  I remember one of the fireplace talks involving this, (the only thing was that because I couldn’t talk to them, that left me with no one to talk to) which instilled me with this sense that me sharing family things that did damage, hurt me, that were hard, was the ultimate betrayal and would result in me losing them and being alone forever.   If you are in my family there is a very very good chance you will not like this post, you may hate me, you may feel betrayed by me, you may feel guilty, sad, angry, who knows.  Thats fine, but I urge you to please not make this about you.  This, my dear lovely readers, is about my story.  I ask you to listen with an open mind and an open, compassionate heart, and thats all.  Watch any judgements, watch any assumptions.  This feels like an enormous emotional risk to take, but I had to speak about it eventually.  Just, don’t make this about you.  Imagine its someone else if you have to, or don’t read it. My intentions of this are to help people who may have been in similar situations.  Nothing malicious, negative, hateful or anything.  Only love, and thats it.
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BPD, friends, and never feeling good enough

Friends are hard.  So painfully raw, vulnerable, and they have the power to trigger so many emotional ghosts, leaving you(me, in this case) like Im never good enough.   And you know what? My heart hurts.  I feel like its sinking down, drowning, like its being crushed into a million pieces. I cant shake it, I can’t escape it.  I wake up most of the time with it like painful alarm holding me down to the bed.  Because it hurts to move.
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Personality (Disorder) Wardrobe

Think of all of the little pieces of your personality, of you.  Think of all the contradictory parts, the values the interests, the habits.   Now imagine that they are a wardrobe.  Your job merits an outfit: maybe you leave the party pants at home, and bring along your passion, or your creativity instead.  Most people have a few items they might switch up, but generally you know, you have a sense of self, you know your values, your dislikes, your fears, passions.  Borderline personality disorder sometimes feels like some asshole with a can of paint and scissors tripped and tripled your wardrobe. Continue reading “Personality (Disorder) Wardrobe”

Sleepless

Last night I woke up several times from nightmares, only I didn’t wake up screaming, I woke up feeling so sad I could never describe it with words.  It felt like a piece of me was missing,  like I had just lost everything I cared about, and the only way I could feel any ease in it was to hug a pillow.  For as long as I can remember I’ve not been able to sleep without hugging a pillow, it helped me feel that I wasn’t so alone.  I used to sit awake at night for hours because I felt so isolated, sad and alone; I used to sleep walk, sleep talk, have nightmares, and I did for as long as I can remember.  I didn’t know how to soothe myself, and I didn’t know how to make the pain go away, and I was on my own to figure it out.
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Summer and scars

Oh Summer.  A time that while on one hand great for your mental health because of all the sun and all that, also can be so hard because you’re forced to face other demons.  They might be having to wear clothes that might reveal the “flawed” parts, or clothing that reveals scars.  Sometimes it feels like a choice between being sweaty gross and uncomfortable, or cooler but still hot, gross, and uncomfortable.
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Its my fault

Another year older, and I’m not really sure how I feel.  I can’t remember if I wrote this, I believe I did, but that when I was a kid I’d say “I’m not growing up, Peter Pans going to get me and I’m going to Neverneverland.”? Part of that was because I didn’t think I’d make it through, I didn’t want to even try, I was convinced that if life got harder than it was then (as I was constantly told), I didn’t want to go through with it.  Every year on my birthday I would feel such a sense of panic, and guilt, and confusion. I felt so anxious a lot of the time, the idea of celebrating a life I didn’t even want to live felt selfish.
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