As for everyone expressing their opinions, particularly those who say things like "How could s/he do this to his/her family/friends/loved ones?" or that suicide is cowardly or whatever other bullshit people say, she gave me a great comeback,"You just say to them,'I'm glad that you are fortunate enough to have never felt like that, but we can't know how this person was feeling. Let's just mourn for the loss and the loss of the family." Then she shared something extremely personal experience with suicide and dealing with those kinds of opinions. She told me that very few people there knew about this. But obviously she felt both that I could benefit from what she shared and that she could trust me enough to tell me.
And I wanted to write this post to express how grateful I am that she told me. Overall, I'm always thankful just to have a caring therapist who is always available, but I'm thankful that I have her as my therapist as well. This, however, was such a special experience. Many mental health professionals don't share anything about their own personal lives. Some don't even have pictures of their loved ones on their desk or any personal touches in their office. I really like that the people at the place where I receive therapy feel that sharing some personal info and experiences creates more of a connection with their clients as well as allows them to use their own lives to draw examples from. Even so, my therapist didn't have to do what she did. She didn't have to show an open-mindedness about how suicidal and self-injuring people feel. She didn't have to trust that I would not twist it. And she definitely didn't have to tell me the specifics of her own experiences. She didn't have to trust me with her personal knowledge. But I am so grateful that she did.
I realize that it must be a really hard job to do. There are so many fine lines to walk, especially when it comes to discussing suicide with someone you know has had multiple suicide attempts in their past. For example, on the one hand, you don't want to discourage our bodily autonomy, a feeling that this body we live in is ours. Many people getting treatment where I do, at the level that I am, have felt like we were forced into taking medications or forced into a "voluntary" hospitalization. We have hostility towards medical professionals who tell us that we have to do, or not do, something, so you're not going to help our therapeutic relationship by telling us that we can't do what we want with our body. I think this probably goes doubly for those of us with BPD. Another thing that BPD people deal with more often than the general population is trauma and abuse. When you've experienced a traumatic event or lived in an abusive situation, you start to internalize that your body is not your own, that it exists to serve others' prerogatives. Many of us disassociate from our bodies, our feelings, or both so we don't have to deal with this problem. The last thing we need is another person, specifically the person who is supposed to be helping us heal, telling us that our body is for someone else.
On the other hand, you're not going to tell us that self-harm or suicide is ok. You're the person trying to find the best way to get us to stop doing that shit. Even if I'm in a place where I'm not self-harming, haven't thought of self-harming or suicide for quite a while, you don't want to leave me with an idea that I might later use to rationalize self-harm or suicide. You do want us to leave continuing to feel that those are not positive, helpful coping mechanisms. You want us to feel like our bodies and our selves should not be hurt, that we have value and worth.
So I wanted to give a very public "thank you" to my amazing therapist. I'm so grateful for all your help and for this specifically.
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