Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Living in Denial

Living in denial is a way of life for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.

I’m sure I lived in denial of my actions and circumstances for years. I may still be doing so, but if so I can’t exactly see it, because the only perspective I have is my own and I can’t see how other people see me. It’s all speculation from my perspective. 

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

An excerpt from Out of the Fog:

Most people find themselves in denial in everyday living situations, particularly in handling threatening situations, grief or loss. This is quite normal not to face reality - or pretend it does not exist, as one struggles to cope with difficult circumstances.

Denial can result from experiences, memories or information which contradicts our world view resulting in cognitive dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological term for the discomfort that most people feel when they encounter information which contradicts their existing set of beliefs or values. People who suffer from personality disorders often experience cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with evidence that their actions have hurt others or have contradicted their stated morals.

However, with personality disorders, there is a phenomenon known as dissociation - which is a more pervasive, destructive form of denial - where a person is not merely disregarding, neglecting or avoiding the truth but rather forms a conviction or belief around a fictitious set of beliefs and attempts to impose, force or project that fictitious version of reality onto others.

Examples:

A family member calls you on the telephone and 5 minutes later insists that it did not happen.

A spouse commits an act of violence and later refuses to acknowledge it.

A child cannot recall an incident of parental abuse.

A divorced woman lives as though her ex-spouse is still living with her.

What Not to Do:

NT's can sometimes be stunned to discover that the personality disordered individual in their lives completely believes a completely false reality they have invented. It is common for NT's to spend a great deal of effort fruitlessly trying to reason, cajole or argue with a personality disordered individual into "snapping out of it", "waking up and smelling the coffee" or "facing the facts". It can be hard for NT's to accept that for a person who is dissociating, the denials they are expressing are the facts - at least at that time - for them.

Under such circumstances, standard communication or negotiation techniques are ineffective - since they are built on the premise that both parties can agree on what the facts are, have the ability to reason and can work towards a common interest or compromise.

What To Do:

Accept that each person's reality is their own property and everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe, think what they want to think and experience their own world without intimidation, control or persecution. That applies to the personality-disordered individual in your life and it also applies to you. That will mean you may have to "agree to disagree" on important facts, history or conclusions.

Remind yourself that one person's opinion of you does not define you. You are you. Seek out the counsel of wise, caring and supportive people who you can trust to help you rebuild your self-esteem.
If someone says something which you believe isn't true, it is appropriate to declare "I don't see it that way". Once!

{ -What I like about this is that it is non-confrontational way to approach a disagreement. Often when you are in disagreement with someone as emotionally volatile as one with a Borderline Personality Disorder they will react strongly and lash out at any affront to their world view or perception. “I” statements, do not imply anything wrong with the other persons perspective, only that you are coming from a different place. – Haven }

If you, or any children in your care, are being exposed to abuse of any kind, take appropriate action to protect yourself and your children.

After that it is appropriate to walk away from any further discussion and go about living your life in an emotionally and physically safe, healthy, and productive way.



Hm. I agree for the most part but not about the dissociative tie in. I do have a pretty severe dissociative disorder and I don’t agree that it is a form of denial. Not in the way they phrase it, “… forms a conviction or belief around a fictitious set of beliefs and attempts to impose, force or project that fictitious version of reality onto others.”  In my experience, dissociation is not something I can choose to do. It’s a slipping out of my reality. I can ‘check in’ and know that I am actually in reality but I feel other. It’s not a choice by any means. It’s something that happens in order to remove me from a painful or uncomfortable experience, but I can still perceive the world around me in a way that is not delusional. It’s also not something I project, or even can project, onto anyone else. It’s a sense of being detached and removed from others, not imposing onto others. I talk a lot about dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization.

Anyways.

Denial. This is pretty much how I lived in my relationship with Evil-Ex. I wanted to believe the lies and manipulations he told me to keep me, which were in complete opposition to how he acted, in complete opposition to what I believed I deserved, in complete opposition to what I wanted from a significant other. I knew how he was treating me, but I couldn’t reconcile it with my emotional attachment to him, what I wanted from him, and lived in a state of perpetual denial. I also lived in a state of denial that my actions and reactions were appropriate; for most of my life really. Instead of being able to see {in reality} what I was doing, I was/am only able to feel how it affects me. I know the circumstances that ‘caused’ these feelings, and from there how I reacted was ‘justified’.  I may have been overreacting but I wasn’t wrong. I was the wronged. In my relationship with Evil-Ex I actually was the wronged. However, my relationship with my parents and siblings growing up, this was not the case. I was wrong and in utter denial that the way I functioned in my world was not appropriate.

I want to make this clear. Just because we have a Personality Disorder does not make us always wrong in our perceptions. They may be skewed, but like anyone else in this world we occasionally are on the receiving end of misbehavior which is not a product of our disordered reality.  I also want to say that denial is generally subconscious and not intentional. In order to heal, we must get out of denial.


*NT = Neuro-Typical. I use this to refer to people that are not Personality Disordered. A lot of places use Non {BPD} as well.

11 comments:

  1. Denial played a major part in my having a psychotic break. My ex would do something and then totally deny it ever happened. Accusing me of being crazy, lying, manipulative. This happened so much that I actually started believing that I was somehow "making things up". I started questioning my own perceptions, reality, and then I just fell into make believe.

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    Replies
    1. This is called gaslighting. I had an ex try to do it to me, it messed with my head something awful.

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    2. Me three. Holy crap. I thought I was losing my grip on reality.

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  2. This is a very good read. I like your explanation about dissociative disorders better. I think it is more accurate. Thank you. Hope you are doing 'okay'. Take care.
    Peace, Nico

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  3. @Interruption... yeah, my explaination of DD is based solely on personal experience. I know what both denial and DD feels like and they just aren't the same thing. A lesson in not believing every source you find I guess. Which is why I try to collaborate or elaborate on things I find.

    I'm doing pretty well today actually. And likewise, hope you're doing ok. Cheers.

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  4. @Maasiyat... I don't think it was ever that bad for me. At least I don't think so. I can't even imagine how difficult such a depth of experience that would be.

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  5. I found you through Maasiyat. Love it here. I'm BPII. I think I live my life in two ways.....denial and justification. I pretty much suck most of the time.

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  6. @Diva.... Hi there =) Don't you just love Maasiyat. I meet so many interesting people from her. Glad to have you!

    I'm pretty good about getting out of the denial side. But I still find myself torn between justifying everything I do and feeling like there's just no excuse. I can't make up my mind. Hah.

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  7. I recognize all of this from my first wife who was manic depressive.

    with anxiety, at leats my experience with it, you don't deny anything but you're paranoid about people's thoughts and reactions. That leads to irrational behavior.\

    great post Haven.

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  8. I am sort of in denial about having Borderline... some days I accept it, and other days I'm like "I'm not as bad as Mom... so were they wrong with me...?" I also think I don't have it because I don't smoke, or do drugs, or cut myself anymore (3 times total...?), I'm in no way promiscuous (23-year-old vigin *cough*) and that I was so willing to accept the diagnosis at first (which is also unusual for a borderline) that /that/ makes me doubt me having it... But yet it /does/ explain the ease in which I get angry and reactive, it /does/ explain... how in an argument why I can't just drop it for the sake of peace... It has forced me to refrain from blaming others because I feel SO aware that it's the "BPD talking" and even if it's justified, it doesn't matter because it's doctrine for BPD treatment to assume it's being blown out of proportion and to take my version of events with a grain of salt...but before diagnosis I thought I knew perfectly well who I was, and now... I don't know. So I feel like... I don't know anymore what's the BPD, what's me, what's a normal reaction... I even ask my friend's now what a normal reaction is because I feel... that reality just /can't/ exist for me. (In emotional moments at least... I may just not be giving myself enough credit though. XD)

    I am SO glad (in a tragic way lol) that I'm not alone in my fight between justification (I hate that arrogant kind of person... :C ) and and "no excuses"ness (And /that/ just makes me feel like a failure/weak when I do make a mistake). Those ARE clearly the extremes of each other, so how does one go about consolidating these feelings...? I mean... I /know/ what I should tell myself (no body's perfect, etc.), but it doesn't matter, those two things are the only things that swirl in me. Justify or blame, justify or blame? (Neither, rectify and move on. Simple. *says the current self rationally about times when I'm GOING to be irrational*)

    @lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog that reminds me of me, until it's pointed out to me... then I get embarrassed, and then have an extreme reaction of either crying or getting pissed off. Luckily my closest friends understand this and stay out of my way long enough for me to come back down.

    I'm having a BPD moment right now. I am mortified by how childish I am coming across, but my need to post is stronger than my need to self-preserve (a ridiculous thing like "image on the internet.")

    And now I feel absolutely nothing. Thank you, Anxiety, for getting me to this point. (though... I apologize for writing such a stupidly long comment on a blog post that isn't mine...)

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  9. OOOHHH YESSSSS! Denial was and at times still is a part of my recovery from a 21yr marraige to a BP spuse...I just rambled this off..take it for what it's worth...just my intial thoughts as they came out....

    My Former - and I say "Former" because I know BPD hates the connotation X-Wife...it suggests abandonment - especially while in the throws of a "Splitting event".

    Anyway, my former filed for divorce in 08' THEN saw my absolute breakdown at the sudden and indescribable pain inflicted with the affair - "friendship" - as she described it.

    She decided to reconcile and told me she would be there to "fix" me and what she had done....BUT she would not participate in the repair of the marriage since she saw that she did no wrong.

    After 23 months of unbearable pain and blame - on both our parts - she asked me to leave and gave only the reason that "in her mind the marriage was over"...of course I retaliated, who wouldn't...month after month of therapy, being told that I participated, but I was not the core cause of the failure....The mixed signals were like a lightning storm all around....After she had an outburst of hurting our 6yr old, by grabbing his hair and almost pulling him off his feet, I decided right them we had to get help, no matter the consequences. Well again, I knew what was going to happen & it did, I was put to blame for over reacting, and the hair pulling incident was brushed aside as only a disciplinary act on her part.

    So afterward, she filed a false restraining order, stating and imagined and distorted events….years in the past...to have me forcibly removed from my home and children.

    I had enough & I filed a divorce action! Well you can only guess what I did after I calmed down...I tried to reconcile and begged and begged to put an end to it, but she was on that path, and was not going to turn back...no matter the destruction of the family structure that was occurring.

    She was in the very strong mode of "splitting" from me & I was acting in a textbook way of trying to rationalize my way back with her...HA! How-bout-that? I always thought of myself of being "Non-typical" BOY was I wrong eh?

    So as the months passed, I have lost all my friends of many years, they have totally bought into her stories, and I didn't help much either by trying AGAIN to rationalize my way with a BPD...Hmmm well can anyone see what is next in my story....ohhhh your gonna love this!

    She is now dating someone she had loathed and criticized as being "ugly" - "total nerd" and this one is the greatest part of all....she has always had a real and I mean REAL obsession with perfect teeth, and she would always say how gross it would be to kiss someone with rotten teeth!

    YEP! You guessed it His teeth are completely rotten and he even has a bridge! This is from a life time of chain drinking soda, and chain smoking for about 30 years! Hmmm funny how distortion, denial, and splitting have an affect on the BP also?

    Last thing to mention...she Mentioned that she and I never had anything in common...hmmm how funny, after I thought about it....I typed out a list and asked for impute from my remaining friends to tell me what she and I had in common...it filled an entire page at #10 size script in MS word...Carrie and Jeff....and I quote “Carrie Jeff & I have more in common then we ever did”...guess how much and what she and Jeff have?

    1- Thing
    VIDEO GAMES!

    Carrie if you ever see this - I still love you, not who you are now, but the person you were before the split - before the affairs, before the Dissociative Fugue….

    I understand why for so many years you accused your father of incest...he was your split for more than 30 years, and now he is your hero again...simply for just agreeing with your decision, and I know he will not do anything ever again to be split from you ever again….

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