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Share your tips for attachment struggles

A lot of us struggle with our attachments to other people in our lives, often as a result of trauma and mental illness. 

 

One thing that a lot of people struggle with is 'splitting,' which is where we can't see people in shades of grey - they are either perfect or they make us sick. There's a good article about it here - https://themighty.com/2016/12/splitting.

 

A related thing (that is a major issue for me) is separation anxiety and the fear of abandonment and rejection. If people who I idolise seem to not care about me, or reject me in any way, I become very distressed and upset very quickly, often to the point of self harm or suicidal ideation. 

 

It can be really distressing when either of these things happens with people we care about. 

 

I thought we could join together and come up with some strategies to help us cope when we're experiencing these kinds of crises. 

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Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

Some of the things that I do to help are: 

 

- Making a list of things that I love about a person; when I recognise that I'm starting to 'split' I can reread the list and remind myself of the good things about the person. I can also reread the list and remember good times I've spent with the person when I'm missing them. 

 

- Keeping memory triggers from happy times spent with people. For example, I have bracelets and wrist bands that my best friend has made for me and from events we've been to together, and I have a letter that another friend wrote for me, stuff like that. I keep them together in a basket so that I can see and touch them whenever I get separation anxiety. 

 

- Journalling. Writing writing about things that have happened helps me to track my feelings and opinion swings about people and identify triggers. It also helps me process events and things that have happened with people and to understand the way I feel about people. 

 

- Letter writing. The last time I was missing my best friend heaps, and feeling like she'd abandoned me and I was completely alone, I wrote her a letter. I've written letters that detail things I love about people and hopes I have for us, letters that I'll eventually give people. And I've also written angry letters expressing my feelings or my fears of being left behind that aren't meant to be sent. 

 

- Distraction. Funny YouTube videos, favourite tv shows or books, art, writing, taking a shower, going for a walk, doing the grocery shopping etc etc. This helps me to stop constantly refreshing messaging apps and social media and helps me cope until I hear from a person or can calm down and rationalise my emotions. 

 

- Talking to other people. If I'm splitting on someone or very anxious about them it can help to talk to someone else! Remind yourself that even if you lose the one person you're fixating on, the world will still keep turning and there are other people who care about you.

 

- Taking screenshots of nice text messages or emails. Pretty self explanatory. Looking at a recent text message that says 'I love you so much' can be very helpful when I feel like someone hates me or is leaving me. 

 

- Post it notes; I've read about this and I want to try it but I'm a bit shy about asking for someone to help me with it. Basically you get people you live to write messages on post it notes and then you put them in places where you can't see them. Things like 'I love you even when I'm really busy' or 'If I have my phone off I might be in a meeting or asleep, it's not because I'm angry at you.'

Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

these are really good @DruidChild if i think of anything else ill be sure to add them in! 

well done for starting this thread Smiley Happy

**NEVER be afraid to ask for help because you're WORTH it!**

Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

hey @DruidChild, I think this is an awesome thread that you've started - I can say that I also struggle with this. You have pointed out some great tips - something I've learnt to overcome during these times is expectations. Sometimes we put an expectation on others, and when it doesn't happen to how we think or 'expect' in our minds, our emotions go on a rollercoaster. To put it shortly, I guess I try and not to expect anything. What do you think?

Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

Thanks @honky and @scared01! Smiley Happy 

 

@honky I think that's a good way to handle things, but I would argue that instead of not expecting anything, we should try and keep our expectations realistic, because I think we should definitely always expect our friends and other people we care about to treat us with consideration and respect! But at the same time it's not realistic to expect them to always be available to us and to respond in the way we want. 

Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

Another thing that my counsellor taught me about this is that it's important to be asssertive and to ask for what you need. Something I do a lot is to message people asking for help or talking about how bad I feel, and then I feel worse when they don't respond with reassurance or long conversations. Whereas if I'd been assertive and messaged them saying 'hey I am missing you a lot, could we talk for a while?' the response might have been more reassuring or more what I needed in that moment. 

 

Basically, she asked me to reflect on 'what are you really asking for?' 

Re: Share your tips for attachment struggles

oh wow, i never really thought of it in that way before @DruidChild, thank you. I have always been told to lower my standards and expect less, but to question what you've said. How would you know whether or not your expectations are realistic? What if it is realistic for yourself, would it also be realistic for others? Sorry for the questions, I find it very interesting :-)

 

Assertiveness. I have always struggled with this. Do you have any hot tips?