Person 1: “When I feel motivated about work, I think that I am going to move mountains and then after a day, I lose all the motivation to work, it feels like I am a pendulum just swinging on the extremes”
Person 2: “Me too, even after five years of relationship, I feel so unstable. Sometimes it’s all the love in the world but when we have the smallest fight, I fear my world will crash”
Person 3: “I fear abandonment all the time”
All examples of borderline personality traits that might or might not convert to disorders. How would life be for someone living on the edge all the time, thinking about what ifs? That brain; that super neurotic friend goes its own way to do what it does. This article is for everyone who has ever felt this.
Pendulum Personality is a term that I use for my Borderline personality which is actually defined as a personality in which a person has an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. People with borderline personality may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days. When classified as a disorder, it is a mental condition with similar patterns in a more extreme form. People with borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad. Their opinions of other people can also change quickly. An individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. These shifting feelings can lead to intense and unstable relationships. I call this personality as pendulum personality because we keep swinging on the extremes like a pendulum with a definite hope of attaining the balance one day. For all of us, going through life all at once is an impossible task and hence what I call the therapy of ‘Here and Now’ and One day at a Time’.
My first visit to my life coach happened when I knew; I just can’t handle it. An incident happened and I was all anxious. Being a control freak, I knew that after a long time, I had lost control of a situation. Now as simple as it sounds, it took me more than a year and a half to be able to narrate it to the world. Yes, that is how difficult simple things become for a borderline personality. More than anything, I was concerned that I will be more miserable tomorrow and that is the most challenging part of the story.
Anyone who has been miserable once knows their patterns and is more scared of their patterns than the present. So that is when I told my life coach “I am so scared that I will keep crying like this, I am not going to be able to sleep”. She told me “right now you are not crying, right now you do not have to sleep. We will cross that bridge when we come to it”.
Now just like movies have portrayed it, it is very easy to live in here and now when we are happy. Who wants to leave that feeling and be gloomy? The challenge is, to practice it when upset/anxious. Living in here and now means that when the world is falling apart, we focus on ‘right now’. Maybe as simple as, ‘right now, I am feeling thirsty so I am going to go and get myself a glass of water’. If you fear, the relationship is going to end, well it hasn’t ended yet. We haven’t failed yet. The result of that interview is not yet out. If we cannot anticipate our happiness, then why anticipate our misery? FEAR is just F: False, E: Evidence, A: Appearing, R: Real.
The easiest way to the practice this is to keep a watch with you all the time and tell yourself “I am only going to breathe the next five minutes”. Breathe in with “I love myself” and breathe out with “I am letting go off anxiety”. Just the next five minutes are not miserable. For the next 5 minutes, just do what you are doing; maybe clean your wardrobe, draw, read, watch TV or anything. Only for the next 5 minutes. If 5 is too much, then let’s start with 1. It is an exhaustive practice and we might fail a zillion times but it is worth it. It worth it, to not live in the fear of a lifetime for once and just focus on ‘now’. It would come with practice and when it does, we start taking it one day at a time. The 5 minutes practice does not mean that we have to think positive. No, not at all. Let the mind do what it does, let the thoughts come and go. The best thing about thoughts is that they come and go. Do not force yourself to positive thinking; that exhausts the brain even more. Just no action needs to be taken for the next 5 minutes. You feel like calling up that friend to pick up a fight? Good, go ahead, but not now, not for the next five minutes because the brain is not in a healthy zone; let it change as many decisions as it wants to and then we will decide.
All the anxiety related to future will melt away if there was no future, right? Well, there isn’t any. Just 5 minutes at a time for one day. The therapy of ODAT just focuses in the cognitive behavior of postponement of the thought process. For people with borderline personality issues, jumping to haphazard conclusions is one of the worst nightmares. ODAT, as I call it, just helps by not reaching at any conclusion whatsoever. It is irrelevant if it is not happening now. Once this one day is over, just congratulate yourself for making it through. I know how tough it must have been but it is over and you never thought it could ever get over. You lived through those fears, those insecurities, instabilities, that anger, depression, pain and thoughts of self-harm, you lived through it. You will live through the next too.
May the force be with you?
Art courtesy: Aditi Mittal, Instagram and Facebook page: Maditiss
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Yael Rosenstock, Feb 14 2020