Hello from the Salt Lake City airport! Tyler and I have been in Utah the last couple of days to go to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park. I absolutely love getting outdoors- it’s a great way get back into a healthy mindset and recharge. After all, it’s rather difficult to think about offing yourself while surrounded by the snowcapped hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. As I write this, I’m feeling incredibly anxious. I don’t have a particular reason, but as I was standing in line to check our baggage, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Sometimes these bouts of anxiety will last an hour, sometimes they’ll last four days. So for now, I’ll blast the sound of rain from my phone to tune the world out and squeeze the stress ball I keep in my purse.
I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries recently. I’ve become increasingly cognizant of what my boundaries need to be during the holidays, and it’s been on my mind since work is going to be getting busier. While it’s an important part of managing my BPD, setting boundaries should be a part of everyone’s life. It’s a way to take care of myself and to value myself. To set boundaries is to acknowledge that I have some control over my emotions and well-being, even if BPD makes it difficult.
One boundary I employ often is giving myself “recharge time.” Think of me as a cell phone. Throughout the day, I run out of battery. The more people I have to converse with, or the more stimuli there is general, the faster I run out of battery. The end of the day is generally recharge time. And no, I don’t have one of those super-fast charging cords. I need time, preferably at least an hour, to breathe. Sometimes I’ll zone out on fail videos or vines, or whatever catches my eye. Tyler is the only person I can let into this bubble, but there are times that I need to be completely alone. I’ll use my google home to put on the sound of rain to drown out all other noises, and just breathe. During the day, I sometimes feel like I’m putting up a front and not showing the real me. Especially when it’s busy at work, professional, strong me needs to come on, and vine-watching silly me needs to shut off. I need my recharge time to regain the me I shut off.
There are consequences when I don’t take time to recharge every evening. Emotional hangover is real. I don’t just wake up the next morning all peachy and excited. If I don’t take the time to recharge, these feelings roll over to the next day and start stacking up on itself like a twisted game of Tetris. I start getting snappy, impatient, and critical. I become very particular about how I want the smallest things done, and I slowly lose any filter I had. Not only is it not good for me, but it’s not fair to everyone around me.
I’ve also noticed that not recharging, or running low on my emotional reservoir, makes me vulnerable to dissociative feelings. If you saw my last post, you know that this is something I’m struggling with, and can potentially be dangerous for me. I dissociate because I don’t have the tools, or the energy to handle my emotions. If I haven’t taken the time to recharge, I have no emotional reservoir to draw from when difficult feelings arise. Thus, I am putting myself at risk.
One of my boundary-related goals is limiting unnecessary disclosure. I find myself explaining my smallest actions, and becoming fixated on my explanations. This issue partially stems from a cognitive distortion called “mind-reading,” where I’m constantly guessing what other people are thinking. I start explaining myself to stop whatever snap judgement I think another person has made about me. In reality, the actions I’m referring to are so small that others around me probably didn’t even notice. If I can stop explaining myself so much, I can fight my mind-reading tendencies, and gain a little more confidence in myself.
As a final note, I need to be careful to balance boundary setting with pushing myself out of my comfort zone. If I never push myself out of my comfort zone, I literally wouldn’t leave my apartment. Seriously, sometimes I get too anxious to leave my home, but I know my boundary can’t be my doorstep. Taking care of myself also means pushing myself out of my comfort zone, as long as I’m doing it in a healthy, controlled fashion. Setting boundaries isn’t about limiting your ability to live, it’s about taking care of yourself so you can continue to live.
The video below is a TED Talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability and shame. When I started this blog, quite a few people told me I was brave to do so. I’d counter that it is only bravery if we equate vulnerability with weakness, which I do not. Vulnerability is something to consider when setting boundaries. How open (read vulnerable) do I want to be with others when explaining why I set certain boundaries? How vulnerable are you able to be with yourself? In the new year, think about the boundaries you want to set to help you live a more effective, intentional life.
Till next time, y’all.