On living the stereotype of psychotic bitch

I have borderline personality disorder.  That was a pretty hard statement to make in public.  It’s been a year since I was first diagnosed, and a decade since I realised that something was very, very wrong with how I experienced the world, and yet I still find it hard to come to terms with the fact that I have one of the most terrifying disorders in the world.

I’ve had to wonder what makes it so hard for me to admit to having my personality disorder.  I’ve been able to be open about my depression, my anxiety, my bouts of psychosis (for months I was friends with a girl named Alia until the psychosis wore off and I realised she was just an auditory hallucination… the delusions are even more fun – by which I mean heartbreaking…), but admitting that I’m borderline seemed insurmountable.  It took the destruction of one of my romantic relationships before I could publicly acknowledge in any real way the extent to which my personality disorder pervades my everyday existence.

The obvious answer: I’m afraid to admit to myself that I have BPD because I’m afraid I’m going to be just like my abusive mother.  But that fear exists anyways; abuse survivors are more likely to grow up to be abusers.  The perhaps less obvious answer… There’s a fairly common trope in TV dramas and things like that of a girlfriend/wife (and it’s almost always a woman) being unreasonable.  Obsessively clingy, almost psychotically accusatory, mercurial… You know the type.  I’ve been in enough social justice circles to have seen that trope torn apart as sexist and unrealistic.  And it’s hard to admit to myself, and even harder to admit to anyone else that that’s me.  That I have so little sense of self that being alone is intolerable, that I have to have someone around me because my own perception of myself is defined by the perceptions of people around me (I can only love myself if I’m surrounded by people who love me, etc).  That I experience sudden, rapid, intense mood swings, deliriously happy one moment, furious the next and then intensely depressed.  That the emotions I experience are unbearably intense; I wear myself out letting myself feel anything at all.  That the slightest thing (an almost imperceptible yawn, a glance at a clock, the weather…) can send me spiraling into rage/sadness/terror.  The slightest hint of abandonment and I’ll crash.  The slightest hint of affection, and suddenly I’m ecstatic.  That when someone makes an offhand comment, or even chooses a less-than-appropriate word to use in a particular statement, I might be sent into a panic, fearing that the other person secretly hates me, and I’ll end up doing something drastic to stop the abandonment from happening (often, by trying to be the first person to leave: declaring that I hate the other person, insisting that I’m going to run off and kill myself, etc… For some people, this can manifest as accusing the other person of cheating etc, and thankfully I haven’t gotten to that point yet).  That I sometimes get into a strange almost surreal state, where I do incredibly self-destructive or dangerous things (taking a late night walk through an unfamiliar place where there have been known bear encounters, walking down the median of the road, stepping into traffic – these are all actual real-life things I’ve done on more than one occasion).  That most of the time I’m not actually as in-control of my behaviour as I’d like to be.  I’ve thrown the most humiliating public temper-tantrums as a 19 year old… and no matter how awful I feel afterwards, the next time I’m confronted with unbearable frustration, I can’t stop myself from doing it all over again, even when I think of the humiliation of the last temper tantrum I’ve thrown.

When people see the psychotic bitch trope on TV, they laugh at it.  When I see it, I internally cringe, because that’s the reality of the life that I’m forced to live.  I have to live with the constant terror that something tiny will set me off and I’ll lose control of my behaviour again, and end up feeling like I’m watching myself from outside of my body again as I end up doing something that even in the moment I know I don’t want to do.

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Apologies

I was locked out of my WordPress account for a while, so the only recent posts are the one I had scheduled months in advance for Ask A Stupid Question Day and the post I reblogged about how men don’t suck.  I’ve been meaning to write a quality post, but I have midterms next week, and just general university stress from taking too many courses, so that’s probably going to have to wait a while.  I’m not abandoning the blog, though, just taking a break until I catch up on schoolwork.

“Men suck.”

It was so painful to watch a person I love struggle so much with possibly being a trans male because certain social justice circles tell trans men that accepting and embracing their gender is tantamount to choosing to be oppressors.
A friend was wonderfully sensitive and supportive when I told him about something that was incredibly painful and difficult to talk about. Then later he said, “I’m a straight, cis male and I’m not going to apologise for that” and then looked at me as if he was expecting me to want him to apologise for something that he has no control over.
The person who has had the largest influence on the path I ended up taking with my life was a male teacher. The parent I’m closest to is my father. My younger brother always makes me feel so incredibly lucky to have him in my life.
I simply cannot imagine what my life would look like without those men. They don’t suck at all. My life has been made immeasurably better by the part they’ve played in it.

Chavisory's Notebook

It was for this statement that I felt I had to unfollow a Facebook friend recently. It wasn’t the only thing that made the absolutely screwball, back-asswards social justice discourse on Facebook unbearable during the week in question, but it was kind of a breaking point with regards to my ability to not say anything about it.

And according to some people, if I were really enlightened about sexism and oppression, or had the right belief system about those things, I’d know I was supposed to take it someway other than at face value, but I’ve never been any good at tests like that, where I fail some ideological standard by taking people seriously for what they say.

And according to certain formats of discourse about feminism and privilege and stuff, it isn’t supposed to bother me. But it does, and this is only part of the reason why.

See…

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On Asking Stupid Questions

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” -Abraham Lincoln

I find all too often people are afraid of asking things because they don’t want to appear stupid, which is why I consider Ask A Stupid Question Day to be one of the most important non-holidays of the year.  I’ve had way too many of my classmates tell me they are afraid to ask a question in class or answer one of the teacher’s questions because they don’t know absolutely everything about the subject and they don’t want to look stupid.  It’s okay to not know something, and it’s okay to be wrong.  What’s not very okay is to be afraid of learning because you don’t want to admit you’re not omniscient and infallible.  This doesn’t just apply to students in schools.  Everyone runs into situations where they don’t know something and they’re with someone who does.  And it’s okay to ask a question.  And if you’re in a situation where you’re talking to an expert and you’re not sure about something, say it anyways, and maybe mention that you’re not sure about it.  If you’re wrong, the other person will say so and you’ll learn something and that’s always good.

So although Abraham Lincoln might have said that it’s better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt, I think he’s wrong.  I think it’s better to speak out, because that’s the only way you can learn something and stop being a fool.

Happy Ask A Stupid Question Day!

Exam results and clarity

There’s a moment of clarity that comes right after closing doors and burning bridges.  Sometimes that clarity brings peace, but sometimes it’s painful and bittersweet.

I got my exam results back Sunday.  It honestly feels like forever ago.  The moments since then have been a roller-coaster of emotions for me.  I had put off deciding on a career path and university course until my exam results came out, so there were difficult decisions for me to make.  Decisions so difficult that when I should have made them months ago, I didn’t.  My options looked something like this:

1. Medical school in Hong Kong.  Not sure whether I’ll get in or not with my grades, but certainly worth a try.  I think I’d be a decent doctor.  I think I’d even find it meaningful to be a doctor.

2. Engineering in Canada.  By far the best safety option.  I can’t say engineering thrills me.  I don’t even have a very good idea of what they do.  But it’s vaguely sciencey, and it’s a degree that leads to a career, and it’s achievable, which makes it ideal as a safety choice for me.

3. Going to Cambridge and trying to switch to medicine.  I actually didn’t make the conditions of my offer from Cambridge, but since I only missed the conditions by one mark in one subject, it would be worth appealing.  My parents want me to choose this option.  It’s the perfect environment for me.  I’ve always learned better in a smaller-group setting (like the Cambridge tutor system), and having a university full of interesting people doing interesting things might make it more likely that I’ll actually be able to make friends and be happy there.  At the moment, there are few people I consider friends or acquaintances.  I think I’d be happy there (or at least as happy as my depression will ever let me be).

Guess what I decided to go for?  I chose to wait for medical schools in Hong Kong to get back to me and to keep engineering in Canada as a safety option.  Against what seems to be every single person in my life saying that Cambridge is what’s going to bring me the most joy, I chose not to appeal the rejection.  I wrote an email to Cambridge, burning my bridges behind me, and now I have clarity.  There’s a certain relief in that.  In the certainty that I can no longer change my mind, and whatever happens, happens.  On the flip side, though, I’ve been crying for over an hour and couldn’t stop.  I had reasons for not going to Cambridge (most of them bad ones), but they don’t really take away the pain of losing an opportunity I might never have again.  I’m afraid I made a mistake.  When I sent that email to Cambridge, I was more afraid of changing my mind.  The fact that I was so afraid I might change my mind probably means that deep down, I want Cambridge.  I think not-so-deep down, I want Cambridge.  But I also know I’m not ready and I’m not willing to take that chance.  Because of that, there’s a certain bittersweet clarity I have now.

Horribly Embarrassing High School Moments

Tomorrow is my graduation day.  I’ve been in this school for six years now.  I could write an entire blog post about how I’ve changed and how my life has changed in this school, but I think I’d rather make this a light-hearted post.

The first week of school was orientation week for all of us, because although most of my classmates had been in the school for more than six years already, we were starting secondary school and there were a lot of changes.  One of the activities was an exercise in leadership.  We were divided into groups and the designated group leaders had their hands tied behind their back.  The object of the activity was that the leader had to direct the group to build something using only words.  Partway through the activity, my group leader’s trousers fell down.  I didn’t want to say anything, because I didn’t know him that well and expected one of the other group members, all of whom had known him for years, to do something.  He turned to one of the girls standing next to him and asked her to help him, while the boys in our group stood back and laughed.  We were 11.  If this had happened in our senior year, maybe someone would have helped him.  I hope we would have been more mature about someone’s trousers falling down (which honestly isn’t as big a deal as it seemed at the time), yet at the time, I was impressed that nobody harassed him about it afterwards.  They laughed when it happened (out of awkwardness, not malice), and his closer friends gently teased him about it, laughing with him, but (as far as I know), he was never bullied for it.  That really struck me, because in my previous school, they would have.

Fast forward five years and a girl in history class realises she has her period and needs a pad.  She uses hand signals to try to communicate with a female classmate, but the (male) teacher notices and asks what she’s saying.  Despite the entire class being five years more mature, they still can’t talk about menstruation without blushing.

Later the same year, the school announces that everyone will be having sex education classes.  During the first class, everyone tries to sit at the back of the room and silence reigns supreme.  It soon becomes clear that only myself and one other girl are willing to discuss sexuality.  Many of my classmates still will not say the word ‘sex’, despite the fact that we’re all 17 or 18 years old and above the age of consent.

This post honestly doesn’t have a point, I just wanted to talk about how although we’ve all grown so much, we’re still children and not very mature.

Just a Few Thoughts Bouncing Around in My Head

I’ve just finished my exams (that’s why I’ve been gone for so long that I ran out of scheduled posts).  Oddly enough, I actually feel worse now than I did during my exams, as stressful and awful as they were.  I have no idea why.  Anyways, I just wanted to write about a few things I’m starting to realise/question:

1. I’ve known I am asexual for a while, but I always considered myself to be hetero-romantic.  I’m having complicated feelings for a girl, and that’s making me question my romantic orientation.   I might be biromantic or panromantic.  I’m not sure about that yet, though.  I guess I’ll see what happens.

2. My therapist thinks that obsessive compulsive disorder might be a reason for my symptoms.  I’ve been provisionally diagnosed with ADHD.  Neither diagnostic label seems to fit me particularly, well, though, and reading about the experiences of people with either OCD or ADHD have really convinced me that I most likely don’t have them.  I’ve been considering the possibility that I might be autistic.  The more I talk to people who are autistic and read about their experiences, the more convinced I am that my life finally makes sense.  I spoke to my mother, and she says that she can see that I might be autistic.  I’m pretty convinced that I am autistic, and I think I’m reasonably confident in self-diagnosing myself as autistic.  I’m currently trying to consider the advantages and disadvantages of professional diagnosis.  On one hand, it would be nice to deal with the self-doubt I have about my self-diagnosis and I might want support and assistance at university, but on the other hand, I’m concerned about the very real consequences about having a label like that attached to me.  It’s a difficult decision, and one I’m going to take a while to carefully consider before I do anything.

3. Superficial vs actual insecurities.  I realised that some of my insecurities are things I genuinely believe (for example, that I’m overly sensitive and have deficient social skills), but some of the insecurities are things that logically I know are not true, but I am somehow insecure about anyways (for example, that I’m bad at chemistry and that I’m fat).  I find it interesting that I can believe that I’m not good enough in some areas even though I have sufficient evidence to logically show that I am not, in fact, as bad as I believe myself to be.  It’s strange.  My brain is weird.

4. I’ve had depression for about three years.  I’m wondering if I might have psychotic depression.  Not that it would actually make any kind of a difference at this point.  I’m just wondering.

5. Recently, I’ve been having a recurring thought.  I keep thinking of a needle in my heart, and all the blood draining out until I die.  I have no idea why on earth I’d be thinking of that since I absolutely hate needles (despite being 17 and a half, I still act like a 3 year old when it comes to having blood drawn).  I guess more evidence that my brain is weird.

Staying True to Yourself

A lot of people like to change themselves when they get into relationships.  To a certain extent, that’s understandable.  After all, if you really care about someone, you should be willing to put in some effort to make it work.  That said, there’s a huge difference between making compromises and changing who you fundamentally are to please another person.

“I don’t want you to give up your life, I just want to have you in mine.” – Harry, from Secret Diary of a Call Girl,  Episode 4.8

If you’re in a relationship, you need to love the other person for who they are.  And you need to feel comfortable with who you are.

“And I can’t love him and ask him to be someone different.”- Kari, from If Only by Cherise Sinclair

Being in a relationship and being true to yourself should never be mutually exclusive.

This applies to every kind of relationships, not just romantic relationships.  I’ve found that in all my relationships, I try to change myself to be more like what I think the other person wants from me.  Sometimes, I’ve found that they really just wanted me to by myself and that they’d truly love me for who I am.  There were, however, times when I knew that being who I am meant losing the relationship.  It’s sad when that happens, but I’m starting to see that a relationship like that is never going to work out and is only going to hurt me in the end.  It’s sad, but I just have to let those toxic relationships go.

Don’t Assume Girls Care About Your Opinion

The following email exchange happened a while back.  I realise that I probably overreacted, but what he said still does bother me because a lot of guys do somehow think that an appropriate or relevant response to a girl expressing her low-self esteem is to assure her that they still find her attractive…  I’m just going to leave this here without expressing any further opinion on it.  You are free to come up with your own conclusions on this.

Me: “My initial response to “I can be beautiful at my healthy weight” was “wtf, no, you need to have a BMI of less than 17 and have visible hip-bones and a thigh gap to be beautiful”.”

Him: You are beautiful now and I absolutely believe you can be beautiful at your healthy weight.  And maybe I would fall in love with you then… You know my enthusiasm for girls at/a little heavier than their healthy weight.

Me: I don’t even really care whether [my love interest] finds me beautiful at my healthy weight, and if his opinion on this doesn’t matter…I’m sorry, but yours doesn’t really either.  The thing about my issues with weight is that it’s not even about weight.  To me, skinny=self-control=beautiful.  That’s why I do it.  It’s not even about society or media or anything else saying skinny=beautiful, and it’s certainly not the opinions of men!  And if you fall in love with me for my body, you need to stop. Love is not lust, and if you think they’re equivalent, you need to seriously re-evaluate how you see women.  Also, the world does not revolve around men.  Women’s self-esteem does not revolve around men.  Women’s desire to be thin is largely based on the fact that this is what other women judge them on, not based around what men judge them for.  If men’s opinions were at all important in this discussion, the standards for beauty wouldn’t be as thin as they are.  A very large number of men prefer curvy women because they’re biologically programmed to do so, curvy women are more fertile, favouring them favours the passing on of any particular man’s genetic material.

Him: Why is it that you this sensitive over topics that have to do with how men and women interact with each other (I’m not sure that one was brought up here)? I do notice that whenever I say something that has to do with women (I don’t know what exactly about women is it anymore) you do start telling me about how evil and unworthy men are. Do you hate men? And do you believe women are superior to men or something like that?

Boundaries

PSA I posted on Facebook a while ago:
Don’t touch someone without their permission. Do not grab someone without their permission.
If you have already grabbed someone, and they try to pull away, let go; they clearly don’t want you touching them. Someone pulling away is not an invitation to grab tighter.
Some people will not verbally tell you to let go. Some people find it difficult to assert boundaries. If you are obviously making someone uncomfortable, you need to stop, even if they haven’t explicitly told you to.

This happened to me.  I would have been less bothered by the whole thing if:

1. They’d let go when I pulled away.  That they didn’t tangibly demonstrated that they had no understanding of the notion that many people are unable to establish or assert boundaries.  Since I’ve struggled with establishing boundaries before, this is something really important to me.

2. It was the first time that they’d displayed inappropriate behaviour or the first time they’d been called out on it.  The fact that this person consistently only ever does it to girls and that this person tends to treat any girl’s objection to this behaviour as not-to-be-taken seriously bothers me.  I can understand ignorance, especially in a society that fails to show people what boundaries look like, but when someone has told you before that your level of aggression makes people uncomfortable and that it’s inappropriate, the correct response is to look at your own behaviour and your own attitudes towards other people’s rights to see what needs to change, not to ignore the other person because girls just overreact.

3. If this wasn’t part of a pervasive attitude held by people, particularly guys, in our society.  I wouldn’t have posted it on Facebook if I was directing it at the person who grabbed me.  I would have settled it privately (I did, actually).  By posting it on Facebook, I was trying to tell a wider group of people that this is an attitude that needs changing (in hindsight, I should have hid that Facebook post from the person involved…but what’s done is done).

Long story short, though, for all the people who think feminism isn’t an issue, this is why it’s important.  Because women want to be safe in their communities, and they aren’t.  I was lucky, this person only grabbed me.  But people need to be taught that other people’s right to personal space and to not be made to feel uncomfortable by another person’s actions are important.  People need to be taught that women don’t actually overreact, and that if a woman says no, she means it.