Today Lauren Hayley posted Day 28: Do you consider yourself high-functioning or low-functioning? The question is in terms of Borderline Personality Disorder, and she includes a description from BPD Central of the traits of these two levels of functioning. As a general summary, low-functioning BPD sufferers are those who direct their pain inward with self-destructive actions, and are seeking help. High-functioning BPD sufferers are those who lash out at others, destroying relationships, and are in denial that they have a problem.
I find these definitions weird. I don’t see how seeking help makes a person low-functioning, or why being high-functioning requires fitting the negative stereotype of BPD sufferers being abusive toward friends and family. By these standards I would have to describe myself as low-functioning. Externally, I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I take things out on myself. I also am seeking help.
In my latest therapy session, my therapist and I discussed the fact that I often don’t list many skills used on each day of my diary card. One of our theories was that I’m actually using more skills than I write down, but don’t think of them consciously when it’s time to fill in the diary card. In some cases, I’m using skills I haven’t been taught yet, so of course I don’t know to write them down. One skill that has been referenced occasionally but not yet taught is “Opposite to Emotion Action”, which is what I used today.
I recently complained about Dialectical Behavior Therapy in I’m a person, not a diagnosis. I hate DBT. I’m joining a DBT group on Monday. In the orientation session I went to today, when I was asked if I wanted to join the group, my mind was screaming at me that it sounded like torture from hell. I wanted to say no and run from the room as fast as I could. Instead I agreed to join.
The woman who did the orientation said that they don’t like to do “process therapy” with people who haven’t yet learned these skills, because there is a risk of triggering negative reactions that the person can’t yet handle. This gave me a new perspective on my struggle with doing DBT in individual therapy. It’s true that when we discuss negative experiences from my past I often leave therapy feeling terrible, crying, and having urges to harm myself as a result. I need to recognize that I’m in therapy for the long haul – as much as I want it to, it’s not going to magically “fix” me in a few months. I need to have patience with the DBT now, knowing that there’s time for other approaches later, when I’m better prepared to handle them.