I’m sitting at a gate in the airport. It’s not even the gate that my flight leaves out of. It was the empty gate when I got here, so I thought that it would be a good place for me to sit. I don’t like crowds, especially when people are all around me, including behind me. I was sitting for less than 5 minutes, when suddenly everyone else thought that the area I was in would be a great place to hang out. UGH!
I made it through security alright. Granted, I did forget to take my laptop out and remove my phone from my pocket. The excuse that I’m using is that I’m taking a red-eye flight and I’m simply overly tired. That’s a good excuse.
I have decided to take only some of my night meds. I don’t want to take my Clozapine because that knocks me out cold. If that happens, then if someone next to me touches me or if the fight attendants wake me up for some reason, I would wake up terrified. Plus, the Clozapine makes me drool (so annoying). And I don’t mean I drool a little bit. It’s a lot. Way too much. So I will take my night meds, minus my Clozapine, and add in a Valium. So that’s the plan. I guess I will let you all know tomorrow how this all went. I’m hoping for the best (at least I’m going into it with a positive attitude).
My back is feeling better from yesterday’s ECT treatment, which I’m very grateful for. I decided I could go on with my day of doing errands, cleaning up the house, and working out. I started with short Zumba video. They’re pretty fun and they work very well. My husband called while I was in the middle of the video to tell me about an estate sale just up the road that he really wanted me to go to. We’re looking for some bedroom furniture, especially nightstands. Some of our stuff broke during the move.
I felt pressured into going, so I told him I wasn’t sure if I could make it. To be honest, I was saying that so I had out. I was terrified at the thought of going. There were going to be so many people in one small house (a house and people who I don’t even know at all), I just wasn’t sure if I could do it. I took a Valium and did some stuff around the house, waiting for it to kick in. Finally, it started working. I drove over to the estate sale and parked out-of-the-way. I stayed in my car for a while, but eventually I went in.
I looked around everywhere and tried to be polite to the people I passed. This whole situation was overwhelming, especially since I didn’t end up buying anything. However, I did it, I went by myself. That’s a huge step for me. I thought my heart was going to explode the entire time, but I made it through!
I have difficulty with a lot of things. I have an extremely hard time saying no to people. I struggle to stand up for myself. Even when someone asks me what I want to do, I have a hard time answering them. I would rather do something I don’t want to do and be unhappy (without saying I’m unhappy, of course) that tell someone what I really want. Life feels like a giant problem, as if it’s an obstacle I may never complete, but I’m not giving up.
My ex, from before I got sober, was very abusive. I suppose that it just became second nature to do whatever he wanted. I would never dare to say no to him; I knew what the punishment would be if I didn’t behave properly. Even though he’s gone, I still react that way. I want to stop putting others before myself, but I haven’t been able to. Reacting the way I do is a force of habit. It has nothing to do with the people I’m with today, such as my husband, family, or friends; it has everything to do with me.
My mother-in-law called. I answered and had a nice talk with her. She told me about one of our cousins who lives close by. He just graduated from college and his wife is throwing him a party tonight at 7pm. My mother-in-law asked me if I wanted to go to the party. My heart started racing and my anxiety rapidly increased. I almost never say ‘no’ to people, but this time I did. I honestly said, ‘It would be too much for me’. I was worried that my mother-in-law would be upset or disappointed, but she wasn’t at all. Her exact response was ‘Good for you for knowing your boundaries.’
I finally set boundaries and did the right thing for myself! And even better, I didn’t disappoint or upset anyone while doing so. I always think I need to say ‘yes’ to everything, even if it would be too difficult for me to do. I’ve been working on setting boundaries for a while now. Today is the first time that I said ‘no’ right away and with ease. I’m so proud of myself right now. Practice makes perfect.
I struggle when it comes to saying no to just about anyone. If someone asks me to do something for them or help them with something, I almost always say yes, even if it’s overwhelming for me. I suppose that saying no is more anxiety provoking for me than whatever it is I’m asked to do. This is something I’ve been working on with my therapist. He keeps trying to get me to say no to something, even something small; however, I hadn’t followed through on this until yesterday.
A family member wrote a script and is filming it soon. He has all of the parts filled except for one, the part of a mother, and he asked me if I would play that role. This would be too much for me to do, even if the role wasn’t a mother. Trying to play a mother role would be way too hard for me to do since I cannot have children. I don’t need another reminder that I’m not a mom. I started to cry, so I turned the water on and did the dishes so my husband wouldn’t hear me. I guess I wasn’t up for talking about it at that time.
I told this person that I’m honored he would think of me for this; however, it would be too much for me to handle. I thanked him for thinking of me. I hope all goes well, but I will not be able to participate. I was as polite as possible, but I still feel like I’m letting him down by saying no to his request. He was a bit sad that I turned him down, but I’m sure he’ll be able to find someone to fill the part. At least I took care of myself and did what I needed to do for my comfort level. All I’m doing now is wondering if he is mad at me or not.
I’m actually looking forward to my next therapy appointment so I can tell him that I finally said no to something. I wonder if it’s something I can do again? Now that I said no to someone once, will it become easier to do in the future?
I was having a conversation with someone I know and get along with yesterday. He was saying that he tends to get overwhelmed with all sorts of situations in life and often explodes. He says it takes him a couple of hours to cool down. I told him that I have those same feelings, but I hold them all in, which is difficult to manage. I don’t allow myself to properly express my emotions. This guy asked me why I hold everything in; he said it’s not healthy to do that (neither is the way he manages his emotions, but there’s a middle ground somewhere). I knew right away why I hold in my emotions and why my anxiety and fears are so extreme. It’s because of my ex-boyfriend, Jared, but I didn’t want to get into it then, so I just shrugged off the question.
However, the inquiry has been with me all night. Jared was physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. I was hooked in our relationship. He had me believing that everything that went wrong was my fault and I needed to be punished for the problems I caused. Over time, I stopped expressing myself. I don’t like standing up for myself anymore. It’s just a natural reaction for me now. I automatically stuff my emotions down; however, one day they will all come out, and it won’t be pretty. I already liked to drink by the time I met this guy, but being a black out drunk became normal for me because I didn’t want to remember anything. There are some situations that I remember, even though I wish I could forget them. I’m sad to say that Jared is one of the reasons I act the way I do. He has nothing to do with my bipolar disorder, but everything to do with my PTSD, which was diagnosed in 2009.
I’m getting better with time. There was a couple of year period where I couldn’t be touched by anybody, not even a handshake or hug. That is no longer an issue. I have come a long way. It’s still difficult being in crowds, having people around me that I can’t see (such as standing in a line or shopping), talking to or being around strangers, and not knowing what is happening. I like to have control over situations; it makes me feel a little safer. This may sound weird, but I tend to blame myself for what happened with Jared. If I’m to blame, then I can do something about it. If it’s entirely his fault, then I have no control over the situation. One thing that helps is that he’s dead. He was killed several years ago during a drug deal. At first, that made it even harder for me to deal with because I had no closure, but now I’m okay with it for the most part.
I doubt I’ll ever get past all of this, but I have grown from it. As long as I continue to grow, then that’s okay.
It is important for every individual to set boundaries; it is how people take care of themselves. Setting boundaries is a healthy way to build and maintain relationships with ourselves and with others. Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t make it easy. In fact, setting boundaries is one of my most difficult tasks. In fact, it’s something that I usually fail at doing. I don’t really ever say “no” to others. My automatic answer is always “yes”, even when I practice saying “no” and other similar responses. I don’t know if this is because I’m a people pleaser or because I’m scared to turn someone down, although those reasons seem to be related. I’ve been practicing saying “no” to people when they ask me something. This doesn’t mean I should turn people down all the time; I just need to find balance between saying “yes” and “no”. The following are techniques I use to work toward setting healthy boundaries in my life:
- Know your comfort level. The first step to setting boundaries is to know what you are and are not willing to do. You have to know your own limits, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Knowing yourself and what stresses you out will allow you to know what boundaries to set.
- Practice, practice, practice. I practice saying “no” and giving other responses to questions I know someone is about to ask me. I practice having multiple answers to a question or situation.
- Ask for help. I usually ask my mom or my husband to help me determine how to respond to certain situations. My mom helps me practice my responses. It’s not often that I am able to set a boundary, but when I did a couple of weeks ago, I was so proud of myself and couldn’t wait to share it with my mom; she was excited and proud of me. Asking for help is not a weakness; it helps us become stronger.
- Begin small. When you start small, it can either be with a simple boundary or by setting a boundary with someone you’re comfortable with. Some boundaries can be as simple as stating what you want; I’m not good at doing that either, but I’m working on it.
- Long explanations are not necessary. For example, if someone asks you out to lunch, it’s okay to just say, “I can’t make it, I’m busy then, but thank you for the offer.” The more intricate your reasoning is, the more questionable it appears. There is no need to justify yourself to everyone. You should be comfortable with your response, but you don’t have to make sure everyone else is okay with it.
- Stand by your boundaries. Once we finally set boundaries, we need to stand by our decisions. It’s important, but not easy, to stand up for ourselves. I’m still working on it, but eventually I’ll get there.
- Stay positive. This is something that is extremely difficult; it’s easier said than done. The first step is to stay away from negative people. When someone you’re with is negative, it’s okay to ask them to change the subject. Walking away is also okay. Our minds go negative so easily, so every time I’m negative, I try to find at least one positive thing.
- Put yourself first. Remember, you are important. Your wants and needs are significant. I often don’t stick to my boundaries because I feel guilty or shameful. However, I’ve found out that there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. It’s part of taking care of you.
These techniques have been very helpful to me. Setting boundaries is probably one of the things I struggle with the most. I’ve gotten better at it, somewhat, but I still need a lot of practice. I’ll get better with time. In this past two month, I’ve said “no” twice, that’s huge for me.