The Coddling of the American Mind: How Trigger Warnings are Hurting Mental Health

I think it's mostly just that they’re young. Their passion exceeds their knowledge/nuance/empathy. I can identify with that, and I did far worse than annoy people when I was young, so I’ll cut them some slack and hope they grow out of it. They’re frustrating, but it’s not personal - they just don’t know any better. (Yeah, now I can even look at people who dismiss my experiences - just for being male - and still not split. It’s amazing.)

I actually don’t feel comfortable saying I had/have BPD given that I was never officially diagnosed, but I guess that’s just a formality - it’s blatantly obvious that I had (have?) it.

But don’t worry too much about mindfulness/DBT not completely helping. They're just a first step to get you stable. For me, given my intense need to understand the big picture, to see the forest and not just individual trees, the next step was learning a lot more about my individual issues. I didn’t want to just memorize what to do when I felt crazy, I wanted to know why I felt crazy in the first place and exactly how those skills helped.

Anxiety, for example. The DBT tactic is to ground yourself in your senses - feel your feet on the ground, listen to sounds, count the number of red/green/blue objects in the room, yadda yadda yadda. Great, but why?

The answer is surprisingly simple… My anxiety = a constant fear that something bad/dangerous is going to happen (based on a very real history of bad things happening). I don’t like anxiety, so I try to escape from it. Think about what sort of things people usually try to escape from. Dangerous things, right? So whenever I try to escape anxiety, I tell my mind that anxiety itself is something to be anxious about. So anxiety -> anxious about anxiety -> more anxiety -> more anxious about anxiety -> infinite feedback loop.

This is why I never had an answer when people asked why I felt anxious. There was no reason, I was anxious about being anxious. Mindfulness works because being present is the opposite of escaping, and because it focuses on reality as it is right now, free of past or future dangers. Nothing about the floor or the color of the wall is scary, so you simultaneously break the feedback loop and show your mind that you’re safe. Bam, it all makes sense.

My current problem: I just got back from a 5-day visit to Canada for a wedding. It was a great example of how much progress I've made - I was more social and participated far more than usual without any ups and downs. And yet, I've been an angry, compulsive, dissociated hornball since I've been back. It's bizarre and I can't make sense of it. A day in the life, eh?

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