I found a way to help myself fight negative thoughts! During inpatient treatment, one of the coping skills we learned was “CCC – Catch it, Challenge it, Change it.” The idea is identifying (catching) the negative disordered thought, challenging it, and then changing the thought to a positive one. It never seemed to work for me. However, I’m trying a more in depth version.
We write social stories for the kids. They’re stories that explain the appropriate way to act in a given social situation. For example, “When I am frustrated with work, I can ask for help. I cannot hit.”
I wrote my own social stories. It seems to help solidify the argument against my negative thoughts. We write much simpler ones for the kids!
So far, I have 2. One is about spending time with friends and one is about control.
1. Sometimes my friends are busy. Other times they may prefer a different activity or miss spending time with someone else. This does not mean my friends dislike me.
Hurting myself won’t change the situation. I can be happy my friends are having fun. I can ask my friend to hang out later. Even when I use my words to ask my friends to hang out, they might be busy. I can say, “Ok. I’d love to hang out some other time.”
Using behaviors won’t take the loneliness or jealousy away. It also won’t change anyone’s plans. In fact, using behaviors when I am upset with my friends could make them unhappy and then they might withdraw from me.
2. If someone else did what I did, would I be mad at them? If I would be mad at them, would I think they deserve to be starved, hit, stabbed, or burned?
Will what I say or do create positive change? Will it help the situation?
Will what I say or do hurt someone else or make them upset?
Do I control the situation?
When I am upset I can use my words to say I am upset. Using my words to show I am upset is a good thing. No one knows what I am trying to say with an unsafe body, but they can understand why I am upset when I use my words. My family and friends are happy when I use my words to name emotions.
I need to use my words to create change. Hurting myself solves no problems. I also have to realize I can’t control everything. Things will happen that I disagree with. It is okay for me to disagree with people. And it is okay for others to disagree with me. People do not think I am stupid or dislike me just because they disagree with me. It is not okay to hurt myself, talk to friends about hurting myself, or complain/ whine to anyone.
It is okay to calmly, logically, and privately talk to the person I disagree with. I can do this instead of hurting myself, talking to friends about hurting myself, or whining. If someone continues disagreeing with me, that is OKAY too! I can say, “Thanks for hearing me out.” and feel proud of myself for using my words, staying safe, and being nice.
Sometimes even when I use my words as well as possible, the change I’m seeking may not happen or I will still feel upset. It is okay to feel upset when I don’t get my way! If my words don’t work, behaviors won’t work either!!! Therefore, I cannot use behaviors or talking about behaviors to change people’s feelings or minds. I can do my best to SAY my thoughts and feelings.
When people don’t react the way I want them to, I am allowed to feel unhappy. I am not allowed to hurt myself, talk to others about hurting myself, or talk to affiliated 3rd parties about my concerns.
I am proud of myself when I use my words to name thoughts and feelings. My family and friends are proud of me too. I need to accept that I can’t control others’ thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Using my words gives me the best chance of getting what I want and feeling happy.
Feeling won’t kill me, but behaviors might. Hurting myself won’t make up for anything I did wrong. When I am upset and I’ve tried using my words to express myself, I am allowed to feel upset. I can let myself FEEL. Healing takes feeling.
Some days I might be too upset to sit with my feelings or I might make mistakes and complain or be unsafe. That is okay; I am human. I still need to stay safe and do the next right thing!! On those days, I can either distract myself until the emotion is manageable or release my feelings in a safe, kind way. I can safely, kindly release emotions by: Head banging on a pillow, talking to someone who isn’t involved, ripping putty, throwing a stress ball against the wall, or running. When I am calm, I can problem solve and process.
In other news: Ginny was around during half of lunch. I brought nothing today. Therefore, I didn’t have anything to grab and eat like I did the other day. I feel guilty about that because I promised I wouldn’t use behaviors in front of her. On the other hand, she was only there half of the time. She wasn’t eating lunch. I wrote the first social story when I heard she went to grab food with Iris. I felt jealous and angry because (FOR ONCE) she wasn’t working during 2nd lunch, but she didn’t eat with my boss and I. I hope my restricting doesn’t discourage her from hanging out during 2nd lunch. Maybe she thinks I ate before she got there…
I want to send these social stories to Ginny, but she wants to minimize talk about disordered things and behavior. So, even though I think she’d appreciate them and maybe think they show maturity or growth, I’ll settle for posting them here.
Emotions are running high lately because of me.
A half hour ago…
Mom: “When are you planning on getting up?”
Mom: “You’ve wasted almost half the day already.”
Me: “I’m planning on getting up soon.”
Mom: *attempts to slam door* (It won’t slam because it is already broken – not by me)
Me: *sighs and starts getting up*
Meanwhile down stairs I hear thrashing, banging, pots hitting the ground, and possibly china…more things thrown on the ground…”
Me: “Are you throwing a temper tantrum like a child or are you trying to wake me up? I can’t decide.”
Mom: “I’m NOT trying to wake you up.”
*banging stops, so I venture downstairs*
As I eat Mom is stomping around and sighing heavily.
Me: “When I start working, can you please stop throwing things or I can leave the house.”
Mom: “Working? You’re not working.”
Me: “Yes, but when I start studying can you please stop throwing things and slamming doors?”
Me: “Thank you.”
Ha, I realize I’m a tough person to deal with, but seriously?! What are you, 5 years old?I’m beginning to think the woman has anger issues outside of dealing with a mentally ill daughter. Usually I would say more mean things right back, but I’m very serene this morning. I suppose it is because I just woke up. It was sweet, I didn’t get angry feeling her anger.
I can also see more of why my brother and I developed our coping skills. Mom throws things and yells when she is upset. Dad refuses to speak to you or runs away and on rare occasion hits. My brother, I have no idea what he does! He withdraws like my dad and I, but somehow he remains calm. I guess it is because he remains detached somehow? I withdraw and hide my emotions to, but I can’t hold them in like my brother. I’m not sure why, maybe I’m weaker or maybe his detachment is real and he just doesn’t care. I get caught up in the emotions of people around me; he does not. I don’t let them see my emotions because I’m afraid of their reaction. Yet, they fester inside me and I must lance their wounds. So, I cut myself, starve, binge, purge, or let someone else hurt me to erase the emotions. (The interchangeability of these mechanism is why I fear masochism is secretly an unhealthy coping mechanism for me and not just a sexual proclivity.) It is like letting air out of a balloon that is about to burst from being too full of air, instead of letting it pop.
Right now I’m coming down on the side of vulnerability and putting myself out there. I am not used to that at all. I don’t share much with people, even people I’m supposed to be close to. I don’t trust easily. I’m terrified of putting my heart out in the open, of letting myself feel.
But if I don’t give people a chance, I’ll always be alone. Love isn’t going to fall in my lap. I have to be open, I may make mistakes, I may wind up with regrets, but the only way to ensure I have no regrets and make no mistakes is by not fully living.
In order to get what I want (love), I have to open myself up to my greatest fear (loss).
When my best friend from PHP left I cried. She was the only treatment friend I cried over. I didn’t cry when anyone from inpatient left. After she left, I remember thinking the pain was not worth it. It was easier to keep myself walled off and not make connections, than it was to lose someone.
I’m standing at a crossroads. On one side there is the chance of great suffering and/or great love, on the other side there is stagnation.
Usually I run away and stop talking to people at this point. I push them away, so I don’t have to get to know them and feel the sting of their loss later. Yet, I yearn to know what love is like. I want to feel the connection songs are made of…but I’m terrified.
I’m scared of being hurt and I’m scared of hurting them.
*sigh* The irony of my love of physical pain and abnormally high aversion to emotion pain is not lost on me.