How many of us go through a breakdown because we are given too much to cope with? There is one platitude I hate when I hear it. It says God never give you more than you cope with. Bad language alert %%$£”” that is fucking bullshit!
We breakdown or breakthrough because we are loaded with something that is too much for us bear and in addition those of us who suffer with a so called mental illness or diagnosis may have actually have been overwhelmed by unrelenting trauma. I was reading about this the other day in a book on BPD. Certain individuals are faced not just with one trauma like say a death or abandonment, some also have an accident of some kind, an illness and a death. Guess what a few years ago I was coping with abandonment from the ending of a relationship with an abusive narcissist, a sibling attempting to take her life, a mother undergoing trauma following a botched surgery, root canal therapy to repair a faulty tooth amongst other challenges. These were just the last occurances in a life of trauma that started when I was very, very young when I had emotionally unavailable parents and started to suffer different kinds of injuries which culminated in an massive smash up at 17.
Unrelenting trauma you betcha! And I am only one of many.
What is actually described as mental illness is often just really a result of a trauma of some kind that we have not had adequate support or resources to deal with. Healing requires we find support and resources to soothe the suffering. For those of us emotionally abandoned or left alone this means a caring loving attachment with a consistent emotionally healthy person who can be there for us.
In my own case as a recovering addict I only began to know that addiction was a symptom or indicator of an attachment disorder about 4 years ago. Addiction was a way I tried to mediate the effects of broken or dysfunctional attachments which were either absent, inconsistent, disordered. I was also attached to people with their own issues, my eldest sister (my most significant attachment) was medicating with alcohol too. Later the medication give to deal with the fall out made her an unstable person to look to for emotional support.
In the AA fellowship I befriended someone like my Mum who was inconstant too and too wounded herself to provide reliable attachment. She did her best but was downright cruel after my marriage ended and I was living alone in isolation having convinced myself this was the safest way to go so as to never be hurt by a human being again.
Lots of attempts at therapy followed when my pain finally showed me I was in deep trouble. The hint of abandonment would make me run and I chose some therapists whose depth of expertise did not extend to the ability to provide consistent loving mirroring and attachment for me. Or if it did and there was the threat of a leaving. I ran.
This pattern healed for me last year when my therapist who was going on a months leave thought it was best for me not to be left alone over Christmas and the anniversary of some of my worst trauma. I was referred to the therapist I see now and in her I found finally the person who would provide the consistent help I needed on my terms not hers alone. WE have been able to negotiate the latest break which has involved her being away for a month. I am handling the break better this time. Before she left I was able to tell her (Not in a tantrum but in a soft way) that I was angry she was going away and leaving me and that I was scared to be alone. She was able to mirror me and unpack the related wounds this leaving reminds me of and she was also able to help me to trust that I do have the capacity now to be there for myself.
This blog was prompted by reading several blogs today, one on recovery from BPD another a personal experience of someone’s struggle with mental illness. It is a reminder that we cannot heal alone. That in order to heal we need new and healthy relationships. It is also written out of a desire that those out there who struggle don’t beat themselves up but keep looking for sources of support and nurturance that are consistent and loving and will help you to heal from the burden of all you went through that took such a toll.
I will close from a quote I read to day on the following site written by a man who has recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder. I believe it applies not only to BPD but to other mental health issues as well.
My own experience and research suggests that the single most crucial thing for recovering from borderline states in a long-term, dependent, loving relationship with somebody. It could be a therapist, a friend, a family member, or some combination of these. Feeling safe and loved by others for years is what enables children to become healthy adults, and it is also what enables once-borderline adults to become healthy adults. There is no substitute for internalizing the self-soothing and self-organizing functions of a loving, mature outside person. As I described in an earlier article, I experienced these healthy relationships for the first time with my therapist and a few key friends.