I have to say that I am actually SO glad that it’s Monday. Weekends, for whatever reason, happen to be EXTREMELY difficult on me. I don’t know what the difference is because it’s not like my weekends are that different from my weekdays, but I have been experiencing some severe “BPD episodes” the past several weekends and unfortunately this weekend was no exception. Let me first say that I’m SO glad that the Celtics won though!!! (Didn’t see that one coming did ya? )
Talking about Borderline Personality Disorder is actually much more difficult than talking about eating disorders, depression, or anxiety for me. The reasons for this are complicated but I’ll do my best to explain them. First of all, there’s the stigma that comes from just reading the name of the disorder. People don’t really know what “Borderline” means because it’s kind of vague and in turn a little scary. It is called Borderline Personality Disorder because it used to be thought that the patients were on the border of psychosis and neurosis, when really it just means that the individual has trouble regulating their emotions.
The second reason is that compared to other psychiatric disorders, BPD is not as well understood by the general public, and more importantly even by those in the mental health field. So the people who are supposed to know about BPD and how to treat it often perpetuate the stigma, worsen the symptoms, and make it harder to treat. A lot of therapists and psychiatrists will cringe when they hear about a BPD patient because to them it often means that this person is untreatable, manipulative, deceitful, attention-seeking, and all sorts of other really horrible things. The problem is that these “really horrible things” are to some extent rooted in truth, but they are misinterpreted and misunderstood. This is where the problem really is because it can be almost impossible for someone with BPD to describe what it’s like when your brain turns on you and in turn, they lose credibility and believability from those around them.
I didn’t realize how severe my BPD is until recently. I’m coming up on 7 months symptom free but that also means that there is no way to regulate my emotions via self-destructive behaviors. It’s not as if my emotions were that much more regulated when I was sick, but I did get temporary relief from them when I engaged in eating disordered and self-injurious behaviors. Now my emotions are free to run wild and boy do they ever. One difference between me now and me last year is that I have this knowledge of the diagnosis, which has led me to different resources that can help me, and I no longer feel as if I’m fighting a ghost. I KNOW that I can get better. I’ve already gotten better and even though my BPD is more obvious now, at least I’m not using dangerous techniques to manage it. If I can live without my eating disorder, I’m confident that I can start to heal from BPD as well. It’s probably going to take many years and I doubt it will ever “go away” completely, but I believe in myself that I can learn to manage my emotions.
I should probably give a few life updates since it will be obvious sooner or later. Unfortunately I will not be moving to Boston as planned. I don’t wish to discuss all the details and it has nothing to do with the Boyfriend. He and I are still together and committed to making our relationship work, despite the distance. We both think it’s best that I not make too many changes after such a big one (graduating), and I will continue therapy as usual as well as starting a DBT group, which requires a minimum 6 month commitment. I am disappointed that I won’t be moving yet, but I have to put my recovery and health first, otherwise life in general and all my relationships will be in jeopardy.
Now here’s the difficult part where I talk in detail about what it’s like to have what I call a “BPD moment” or “episode.” First I think it’s important to remind everyone what the diagnostic criteria of BPD are:
Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis:DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria Overview of the Borderline Personality Disorder DiagnosisAn Explanation of the DSM-IV-TR Criteria
1. Abandonment Fears
2. Unstable Intense Relationships
3. Identity Disturbance
5. Suicidal or Self-injurious Behaviors
6. Affective (Emotional) Instability
9. Psychotic-like Perceptual Distortions (source)
So what is it like for me to be in one of these intensely, emotional moments where it feels as if my world is crumbling beneath me? I’ll try to explain…
I can feel myself getting sucked into some kind of vortex. I try to fight it but sometimes it is too strong and all of a sudden I find my mind spinning into entropy and chaos. What is this world? Why was I fine a few minutes ago? In love and happy with myself and excited to pursue my dreams and now, out of nowhere, I’m overcome by depression, by thoughts telling me that I’m not good enough to exist, that I’m worthless and have not achieved anything.
“But I graduated!” I tell these inner demons. ”I fought my way out of an eating disorder and depression so bad I almost died and then I came back to school and lived on my own, adopted a dog, and graduated with honors! That has to be worth something!!!” The demons slyly retort, “Sadly, it isn’t. It isn’t nearly enough. You could have gone to a better school, you could have gotten better grades, you were weak and let an eating disorder take over. You didn’t win any scholarships, you didn’t get the grade you wanted on your thesis, you don’t have any friends because you’re a failure.” All of these thoughts are compounded by the remarks of a friend who recently dumbed down my education, even though she also went to my school for a period of time. Her words seep in like poison, “I was embarrassed to go there and I won’t apologize for going to a better school.”
I keep sinking into the vortex, deeper and deeper, unable to get a breath of air. My body feels uncomfortable, as if there is itch that I am unable to scratch and the burning sensation fills my entire being. I don’t hurt myself anymore when I feel like this. I sit with the pain, with the feeling of not owning my own body, of being a slave to something that lives inside me that is me but also not me. I feel like a little girl, helpless and needing someone to come and rescue her. No one comes. I’m not a little girl, I’m a woman who needs to rescue herself and the only way I know how is to sit and try to tell myself that this voice is wrong. These inner demons are a product of my disorder. I’m aware that this is a borderline moment, which is progress, but how to fully disengage from it I’m still learning. Eventually, hours later, the anxiety starts to dissipate as I see the light of the moon. Nature grounds me and reminds me that there is more out there. Something or someone is looking out for me, I can feel it. When I hang on to that feeling, I start to emerge from this descent into emotional hell, and I take small gulps of air, gently rocking myself from side to side, and hoping the feeling of peace will last.
I hope to share more about what it’s like being those borderline moments, but sometimes it is so hard to put it to words and there is also the fear that I will just seem completely crazy to those who have no experience with BPD. All I know is that it is time for some intense self-care and self-love, because that’s really all I can do now. My BPD symptoms get worse when I’m mean to myself so it’s crucial that I keep doing good things like journaling, drinking tea, planning out meals, painting, playing with Angie, being outside, and lots and lots of positive self-talk or as I prefer to call it, “healing talk.”
I am also making it a goal for this month to get back into blogging more frequently, as I feel that I have been more disconnected from my blog lately, and RR is a big part of my life and self-care. I feel more grounded and connected when I blog, even when it’s about my struggles and not just the triumphs.
Here’s to a good week and fresh start for all of us!