Two weekends ago, I experienced a sense of panic, a panic that felt some of the strongest I’ve experienced in a while. I was driving with friends to sing in a concert- and for some unbeknownst reason my mind fast forwarded to the following weekend, where I had nothing in the diary. I panicked. Panic manifests differently for all of us. For me, it starts as a swirling in my head, a tightness in my chest and then I have to sometimes physically hold my mouth so I don’t scream while trying not to drown. I didn’t like it.
DBT has gifted me with so many different skills and techniques for coping with my emotional pain… I have grown enormously in my ability to apply those skills- but for some reason, I couldn’t tap into that wisdom- and in my panic I acted impulsively. Impulsivity is apparently a common feature of those with BPD. I’m not sure if it is one of my primary characteristics- but in that moment I acted impulsively.
You see, I panicked at having nothing planned from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon… And 48 hours just felt too much at that point. I am normally fine if I don’t have anything on in the day- as long as I have somewhere to go in the evening. At this point I get slightly defensive as at that confession I am normally preached at by smug people who say I need to manage better being on my own… (I sometimes laugh, but normally I get angry at that- because almost always they are people in relationships with children or large extended families- so in fact they never have to face the whole 48 hour alone thing) anyway- I will try not to get on soap box!
But panic I did. So before I knew it I decided to host a party in my log cabin. Not necessarily a bad idea- but a few factors complicated things. 1) I find hosting very stressful! 2) I had such a busy week I wasn’t going to have time to a) clean and clear the house and b) purchase any food! But I thought it would be ok as I didn’t think people would either want to come or be able to come at such short notice. I was wrong on both counts. 20 replied in the affirmative… 8 of whom had never been to my house and were new acquaintances in the choir I sing with.
I had absolutely no one else to blame – except myself. The party wasn’t ‘wrong’ but my motives were. As my panic moved from fear of not being with people to fear of oh my word how am I going to manage all these people. I realised that I had forgotten to look in my diary and I did in fact also have something already planned for the afternoon that I had forgotten about… I went from the sublime to the ridiculous… Nothing to chocka in the flash of a memory.
I confessed in my DBT session with Penelope. We looked at the initial panic. We explored how I felt completely unable to cancel any of the events I had triple booked. “It was my stupid fault… Serves me right…” We looked at the consequences- what was I going to do the next day- from a house full of people to nothing… I think it’s true to say- I really messed up!
I didn’t let anyone down- I rushed from thing to thing- delegated as much as possible- asked for help and took lots of deep breaths. Not ideal. amazingly the party was absolutely great. I haven’t laughed like that in ages. I had to really stay in the moment as I find hosting quite tricky- so the focus was just what I needed. It was one of the best parties I’ve been to in a while. It was also incredibly late for me- early hours of the morning… The best part of that being I actually slept most of the weekend which was great as I was so overtired… But unable to sleep. The late night, forced the sleep issue.
So why am I reminiscing now? Because I want to learn from my mistakes. The summer holidays started for me after my last supervision tonight at 6pm. Historically summer holidays have been a very ‘dangerous’ time for me mentally. I thought I had a potential plan for next week- and it looks a bit different to what I thought… I can feel the panic rising… But I refuse to be impulsive. I want to make decisions and choices out of choice- not fear. I don’t know what will happen… Things don’t seem so certain today as they did yesterday…but I am choosing to step back from myself… Live in the moment… And breathe.
Thanks for listening.