Coping mechanisms are a big part of mental health issues and it’s something that most of my therapy sessions focus around. A lot of my natural coping mechanisms aren’t healthy, when I’m already stressed my go to is to confide in someone close to me (and such people are in short supply these days). When I can’t find someone to talk to it makes everything feel so much shittier and I end up binge eating, drinking too much, etc.
Fortunately therapy comes with many handy flow-charts that teach Borderlines how to person. That’s right! It’s just that easy! Follow a few simple steps and we can pass as sane.
(Source: DBT Peer Connections, https://ilovedbt.com/2014/08/19/working-with-primary-secondary-emotions)
While these are incredibly valuable tools that have greatly helped those with BPD, the reality isn’t normally this straight-forward for myself and those who are new to emotion regulation. I think it normally ends up looking a bit more like this:
Something that I tend to do is attempt the ‘fake it to make it’ route. It’s not always as catastrophic as pictured above and when I’m feeling a bit tense sometimes that’s all there is to it; throw myself into the discomfort, act like everything is fine and maybe eventually it will be.
It’s something I feel like a lot of people want me to do; several times when I’ve been in full crisis people have told me to “just not think about it”. I talked to my psychologist about this, the constant pressure, imagined or not, for me to just act ‘normal’. While she cautions me against bottling it up, she agreed that there may be something to take away from pushing through and faking it.
Though I won’t even attempt to show my face anymore if I’m a disaster, I’ve found I can often push through when I’m moderately uncomfortable. I pretty much have a whole routine down pat prior to big social events these days. It involves a shit tonne of self-pampering, afternoon naps, scented candles, sugar free energy drink and ingesting other substances designed to relax me. Even things like over-conceptualising my outfit will help me to exude the false sense of confidence needed for me to not feel paranoid, setting me up for having an evening that induces minimal anxiety.
As a result of this finely tuned routine I think there may even be a couple of casual acquaintances who don’t realise I’m a complete mess. While this might not be exactly what my psych had in mind it works surprisingly well so long as it’s only a few hours. Hell, it’s just like Cinderella!