Hypermentalizing

It feels like I’m suffocating.  In recent weeks, there has been so much coming up from the past,Image particularly childhood, I seem to be reaching a point of saturation.  My brain feels like soggy paper mache. 

I’m become more forgetful and confused, and seem to be losing large amounts of time.  For instance, this morning I fed and walked Jack, but cannot remember anything about it.  As hard as I try, that memory just isn’t there.

ImageI’m currently doing a 9 week training course for Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT), which is both enlightening and extremely triggering.  Once the 9 weeks are over, individual group members meet with the Psychiatrist and decide on what is the best course of treatment, either a 2 years psychotherapy group or 18 months MBT. 

Personally, I would prefer the latter.  However, last week, just as the training group was ending, the Psychiatrist made a crass comment about how I  – not anyone else, just me – might feel more suited to psychotherapy, rather than MBT.  

To me, that crushing comment was a statement rather than a suggestion. I couldn’t see any alternative.  In a true Borderline fashion, thinking and defences went into overdrive.  My reaction might have appeared abrupt, but it was my way of trying to conquer a familiar fear of abandonment.  The intention was to speak my mind and leave it in the group.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like that.

Hypermentalizing is a term Mentalization therapy uses to describe excessive ruminating with only one perspective and without considering other possibilities.  I’m a chronic ruminator, but I don’t really know why I do it.  It’s focuses all attention within and can be extraordinary exhausting.

ImageI’ve been in a mega-hypermentalizing mode all week; stuck in the same ruminating angst, believing in my own warped perception.  It’s crazy to think of a flippant comment by the Psychiatrist completely taking over my mind.  Maybe as part of that internal drama, I am actually disassociating, hence apparent memory loss. 

I almost didn’t go to group yesterday.  There is a huge avoidant issue going on.  I sometimes wonder if I have more of an Avoidant Personality Disorder rather than ‘Borderline’.  The good thing is that I am now more aware of the process of my mental states.  I made the decision not to trust my “angst” and to push myself past that fear of rejection.  If nothing else, I could give the Psychiatrist a piece of my nasty mind and be done with it.

I asked to see Dr J.  She is a lovely person and very easy to talk to, I almost felt guilty for being so pissed at her.  To my surprise and relief, Dr J apologises and agrees that the MBT route is the best way forward for me.  Last week’s comment was more a generalised statement.  Once again, I got it wrong.

Have I learned anything from such a ridiculous situation?  Yes, try not to jump to conclusions or waste energy on hypermentalizing.  The chances are, the worst I imagine, is largely untrue.  It certainly brings my Mindfulness classes into play.

Two important questions do come to mind – What exactly lies beneath my evident reluctance to live in the “here and now”?…and..  what am I avoiding?

Image

Advertisements

44 thoughts on “Hypermentalizing

  1. kat

    i would have been triggered as you were from such a comment (even if it was intended as a generalization) and i would felt like not going and if i did go, would have had to overcome lots of fear to confront her, even if i really felt she needed confronting.

    they don’t call them triggers for nothing! i think it was great you didn’t avoid, you confronted, and you got resolution. and i agree, hypermentalizing is a curse! a blessing and a curse–we do get stuck in our heads on things that seem important, and we need to do what you said–we need to be mindful. mindfulness seems to be a very good ‘answer’ to hypermentalizing and ruminating, getting us closer to resolving what triggered us.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Mindfulness is very helpful for ruminating. I have a monthly Mindfulness group meeting. Tomorrow I will try to drag myself along to it. Thanks for commenting, Kat

      Like

      Reply
  2. Susan Irene Fox

    Cat, while you are going through this process, would it be appropriate to ask for your psychiatrist’s phone number so you can reach her between sessions? That way, if you begin to hypermentalize -and particularly since you are now aware of what you are doing – perhaps you could phone her to simply say, “I am hypermentalizing over …” In that way, a short conversation might help bring you out of that state and into present mindfulness so you wouldn’t hypermentalize the entire week. Just a thought.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Susan, that would be lovely, but on the NHS, a Psychiatrist wouldn’t permit you to call them; they probably wouldn’t even call you back. They’re on a monthly salary and, in my opinion, there is little need for them to overstretch themselves like this. However, when I start the “real” therapy in April or July, I do have a group session and a one-to-one each week, so that should help keep track of myself. Thank you so much for commenting, Susan.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Borderlion

    I’m so sorry to hear that things have been tough lately. It helped me to read about hypermentalising. That’s not something that was covered in our psycho-education and it is definitely something I do a lot. Thanks for discussing it here.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      It does help to educate ourselves with things like this. For some, it might be triggering, but in my experience, it is always empowering. Thanks for taking the time to comment

      Like

      Reply
  4. A Year in the Life of PTSD

    I can so relate to so much you say here, Cat. It does sound like the memory loss is likely dissociation. I can relate to looking for a memory that is not there, and you know it should be.

    I also ruminate to the point of torture as well. It isn’t good for us, is it? How do we make ourselves stop? An eternal question, I know. It’s more of a rhetorical desire/wish … All I can say/offer is this: you are not alone in the fight, though it may feel that way.

    Beatriz

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Beatriz, it does somehow help to know others understand. I do think I have underplayed dissociation as a huge part of my MH. I am beginning to wonder if the ruminating is a tool for deliberately dissociating from the here and now. It helped me to read about hypermentalizing. I mean, it didn’t necessarily stop me, but the awareness sort of cushions the episodes. That probably doesn’t make sense, but I know what I mean!
      Many thanks for taking the time…

      Like

      Reply
  5. vicbriggs

    My heart goes out to you. One never know where the trigger might come from and unfortunately more often it is impossible to prevent altogether, but at least you stood your ground and faced it. I am certain that you will find a way to work it through and be the stronger for it.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Vic. Recognising the hypermentalizing and pushing past it is HUGE, but I probably don’t give the positiveness enough credit. I’m sure it adds to that inner strength for future reference!

      Like

      Reply
          1. vicbriggs

            I always think it makes a great difference. Only wish we had more of it. Perhaps this spring will be the one. We’ve certainly had our share of rain for a while.

            Like

            Reply
  6. Ellen

    I wonder why the psychiatrist made that comment…to me, it doesn’t seem necessarily negative. Good for you for checking it out with her later and getting some relief to your anxiety. I found group therapy very triggering, especially with feelings / thoughts about the therapist. To me, that was the most challenging aspect. I think it’s really important to keep checking these feelings out with the T. You could look at it as a learning process, instead of being mad at yourself that it’s happening. I think it’s natural to have things like this come up. I would have huge emotions come up, and not be able to wait a week, so I’d email my T – don’t know if that’s a possibility for you?

    I think you’re real brave to go to therapy. I’m sure a lot comes up for you and it’s difficult. The time loss wold worry me – can you talk to the T about this? All the best with it.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Psychiatrists here (UK) would never give their email address or answer your calls. We are NHS and they are on a monthly salary. In their defence, they do have a lot of work and could never stretch themselves like this.
      I do think it is a huge learning curve; not to trust my obsessive rumination. I am looking forward to the “real” group therapy starting. We have that once per week and a session with our individual Therapist. I have attended groups in the past and, yes, they are extremely triggering. I like them because the focus isn’t always on me. I hate the silence in the one-to-one’s because the pain always screams through.
      Thanks, Ellen

      Like

      Reply
  7. Bradley

    I understand the forgetfulness and how frustrating and frightening it can be. I told my pdoc that I thought mine was drug related and asked if we could tweak my meds here and there but he won’t do it. He keeps telling me it’s because I’m aging. If I didn’t like him overall I would be looking for a new Doc right now.

    I’m very sorry you are going through such a difficult time.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      My pdoc told me that the meds WOULD be causing memory loss, particularly the mood stabilizer, Quetiapine. The Quetiapine and Mirtazapine (antidepressant) both also cause considerable weight gain, which I’m beginning to struggle with. Oh the trials of staying sane!

      Thanks for your kind words, Bradley

      Like

      Reply
  8. Mandy

    It sounds like you are on overload, Cat. So the forgetting things makes a lot of sense to me–I do that when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes I don’t even know I am until I find I’m in a fog. I really relate to being a chronic ruminator. I hate it but it seems to be part of my DNA. It feels like such a waste of time, and can be frustrating. It really struck me that as bad as it made you feel when you felt singled out by the Psych–you went in and called them out on it. In my book, that takes a lot of bravery. I think it was very very cool. 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Often I don’t realise I’ve been stumbling around in the fog until I come out the other side. You’re right, the depression and the rumination can transport us to every place but the here and now. Hardly surprising we don’t have memories of the auto-pilot moments
      Yes, I must take this experience with the Psychiatrist as a huge learning curve. More often than not, the things we ruminate over, seldom come true. It is wasted time and energy.

      It would be nice if awareness alone was enough to put an end to ruminating, but I guess we need to work hard at that. I’m finding Mindfulness to be a great help (Lol, when I remember to apply it!!)

      Thank you, Mandy

      Like

      Reply
  9. fotosandi1

    You know as I prepared myself for bed tonight I thought we’ll let me just check my email before I fall asleep I’m glad I checked it. I think at times I feel the way you are feeling. As I read your text I sense that you are such a fighter and each day you say to yourself that you are a winner and that your condition will not win. I have to constantly tell myself each diay that I am stronger than the problem and so are you cat, keep fighting you have the courage to win!! I love your honesty you are such an encouragement. Don’t beat yourself up you are a survivor!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Geez, thanks Sandi. I can see how I might be a fighter, but I’m usually too busy putting myself down to notice this as a positive attribute. Thank you for showing me the positive side!

      Like

      Reply
  10. A Gay Mentalist

    Hi there, I understand what you mean about hypermentalising. It’s a difficult cycle to get out of isn’t it. Especially when you tend to ruminate on what someone has said to you as well. And you did so well pushing yourself when you did! Well done, best wishes.

    Like

    Reply
  11. panikikubik

    I think you’re reaction is perfectly normal. Nobody wants to be treated in that way in a group. It was not very professional of the mentor to say so. He/she knows by his profession that everybody who is participating in a group to feel better – are vulnurable. Hang in there there and be kind to yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPZzWYkdS6Y

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, the Psychatrist did apologise for being so insensitive.. Thank you for the song, it is one of my all-time favourites…. never a dry eye! Nice to hear it again.

      Like

      Reply
  12. Gel

    I can relate to everything you’ve shared here. I call it mental obsessing (what you are calling mentalization). It’s actually one of the most difficult parts of life for me. Because it can be constant, unproductive and painful. Sometimes it has helped to sit down with someone and go talk about it, but not in a complaining way. And it has to be someone who is very patient, doesn’t try to advise me or join my mental obsessing. My husband is good at this. But I also don’t like to burden him with this processing. On thing my therapist had me do which really helped was to take a position of observing the mental process as if I would later have to describe it in detail, to him. This helped me to shift from just being stuck in the middle of it. But also to stop fighting it or criticizing myself for doing it. Instead I had to take a position slightly outside of the obsessing with a purpose….to observe it and write it to later share that with my therapist. Having that goal of sharing it with him helped a lot. Partly because I had a purpose now and I had a feeling that I would be getting help with it.

    Another thing that therapist had me do was to write it down one time and to tell myself that later I would come back to it and sort it out. Even though I often will still ruminate, I’ve slowly gotten to where it gives me a break. It helped me see that my mind got stuck trying to ‘fix’ something. And like an ear worm, it wouldn’t go away without a resolution or completion. (earworm= a song that goes over and over in your head).

    I think there are different drivers for what keeps me in a mentally obsessive mode. Sometimes it’s a worry, sometimes it’s covering over a feeling that i haven’t gotten through. I think of feelings as being connected to deeper needs and values. If a feeling is difficult and I have been avoiding it then that prevents me from contacting the deeper need. Staying stuck in the mental obsessing is partly a way to avoid the difficult feeling. But because it is unresolved the mental obsessing stays. It’s like a fly circling in the room, annoying.

    I agree with your conclusion to pause before reacting. When you have a strong painful reaction to someone else…they’re words might be totally inappropriate, but when in pain it’s not the best time to speak in most situations. Besides there is a good chance I’m not seeing things clearly because I’m triggered. Some deeper wound – that isn’t related to the present situation – might be coming up too.

    You are doing great!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      During my worst years of mental illness, I also used to call this “obsessing” and boy did I do it constantly! It has been one of my most problematic issues, made worst at one point by complete isolation.

      I like the position of being the observer. This is something that comes up in my Mindfulness. I do try work at acceptance rather than MORE self-loathing. I am starting to think that my own rumination is an avoidance of the ‘here and now’, which isn’t satisfactory at the moment.

      I like the “fly circling the room” Someone else said that their rumination used to be like this. His approach was to simply acknowledge the fly rather than running around in a flap trying to get rid of it.

      Your right, sometimes it doesn’t help to speak when the heat is on. I read on another blog, “There are three versions of the event; your version, my version, and the truth.

      Thank you so much, gel

      Like

      Reply
  13. Priceless Joy

    I can understand the lapse of time in your memory because of hyper-mentalizing. I too can obsess over comments said to me because I have an analytical personality. (I over analyze). And when I am in this mode, it is so all-consuming that my mind doesn’t register what is going on around me. You did the absolutely best thing you could do, and that is confront the psychiatrist over her comment. I am impressed that you realized you needed to do this (and I am sure she was impressed too).

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, Joy, I think you’re right about the memory loss. I’m so lost inside my head, it’s hardly surprising I don’t notice what’s going on around me.

      Thank you, Joy

      Like

      Reply
  14. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Am really pleased you were able to go to the group, when you really didn’t want to go and that you were able to clarify what was meant by the Dr.

    You’re working so hard, and it`s good to see your recognition of how important all these steps you’re taking are.

    xxx

    Like

    Reply
  15. mm172001

    I think that Avoidant Personality Disorder and BPD overlap a lot especially for those of us internal borderlines. It sounds like the situation has sorted itself out, too bad all the pain, obsessing, and hypermentalizing between. You are strong Cat and thanks for writing this.

    Like

    Reply
  16. myspokenheart

    Cat I am so proud of you! You have come so far! I know how easy it is use feeling hurt, or feeling overwhelmed etc as a reason to not go, and once you’ve missed one session then it’s easy to miss another until you’ve missed so many what is the point in going at all… It is so easy to make excuses and to give up on ourselves… But you have found that inner strength, that small ember burning hot, and you are progressing forward!!! that needs to be celebrated…

    🙂 so when’s the party?

    *BIG squishy friend hugs*…

    Like

    Reply
  17. Carolyn Hughes

    Despite all your difficulties I sense such a strength to overcome and move forward from you. And that’s what matters. Taking things a step at a time, a day at a time. You can do it 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Carolyn. I’m not sure I have all the strength and courage but I certainly do have determination to move forward. I appreciate your encouragement

      Like

      Reply
  18. halfasoul

    Tbh, I can’t believe how you were able to take a step back about the hypermentalizing and see this all as a lesson – I think that is amazing! I really admire your progress, Cat (even if you may not always feel like it is progress?) xxxx

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      You’re right, it doesn’t ever feel like progress, however, when people point it out to me, I’m able to see that it is a move forward and a huge change. I think awareness can be our biggest tool for change

      Like

      Reply

Your feedback counts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s