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.

Suicide

Read the title again.  This could potentially be upsetting.  [Slightly, you may or may not want to read this.  You know me offline, and you might not want to know this about me.]

A classmate of mine attempted suicide in Spring 2013.  A friend of a friend committed suicide a week and a half before Christmas.

One would think that after seeing the shock, the confusion, the guilt and the pain experienced by the people I would be completely put off the idea of suicide, and yet, in my darkest moments, I’ve come closer to actually doing it than I feel comfortable with.

A lot of the bookmarks on my web browser have to do with suicide.  I’ve made two detailed suicide plans (one as a backup in case the first one fails), right down to where I’d get the materials I need.  I have in my phone text history, a series of text messages sent between me and a friend written at a time when I thought that the pain of dying of asphyxiation over the course of a week was preferable to the pain of living my life.  Might I note that at this point in time, the reason why I felt life was not worth living was basically that I had written something rather stupid and someone I respected had seen it, and a dog I liked had died (and I couldn’t find a photograph of the dog that I was looking for).  Each of the factors on their own would have been manageable, but given who I am, that pretty much set me up for failure right then and there.

I look back at that now and think of how ridiculous it was to want to die so badly over something so small, and yet even now, I have moments where I find myself going over my suicide plans again and again, wanting to be released from the pain of living in this world.  People often like to tell suicidal/depressed people that things will get better.  I always find that difficult to believe.  I already have everything I could have ever hoped for, and yet it’s still not enough for me to want to live.  I don’t know why.  I wish I did, so that I could stop this.  Deep down, I don’t want to kill myself.  I don’t want to feel like death is the best option for me.  But I do, sometimes.  It scares me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot.  For the past week, nearly every day, I’ve hit a point where I have seriously entertained the notion of harming myself (although I know that I’m most likely not going to make an attempt on my life).  When I was hospitalised, the first thing that I thought of was that after I was released, I might be able to use the pain meds to commit suicide (a subsequent check of the chemicals showed that they’re not actually suitable for suicide).  Thinking of the pain that I might cause to others if I committed suicide used to be enough to persuade me that it wasn’t a good idea, but it’s getting increasingly hard to believe that anyone would actually be upset.  I honestly believe that most of the people I care deeply about dislike me and I even think that my parents would be ambivalent about my death and move on quickly (even though logic tells me that this is most likely not true) because I’m slowly losing touch with reality.  Now the only thing that can reliably make me consciously choose to live is the knowledge that there’s a pretty good chance I won’t make it and I’ll wake up knowing that as much as I fail at life, I also fail at death, and I don’t know if I could deal with surviving a suicide attempt.

I don’t have a point I’m trying to make, I’m just trying to vent my emotions, really.  This is about as bad as things get for me, and I’m not always this insane.  [Slightly, if you’ve read this far, I’m sorry.  It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll do anything, so you don’t need to be worried about me.]

What Lies Beneath the Surface

I had a rather nice, honest discussion with a classmate about my depression the other day.  Most of the time, when I talk to people about my depression, I’m told that I’m just being a special snowflake and I don’t really have it (my father, most notably, although he has subsequently apologised for this, and admitted he primarily does it because he finds it difficult to accept that I’m struggling with something that he himself struggles with and finds incredibly difficult to live with…after all, nobody wants to see their children suffer) or I’m told to just do [thing] (my brother told me that he had depression but recovered by changing his lifestyle…and told me that I should just do the same…except it doesn’t work that way).  What made my discussion with the classmate so special was that this classmate just accepted that what I told him was true, and believed my version of my own experiences instead of trying to tell me that his interpretation of my life was more accurate.  At some point in the discussion, he mentioned that I don’t look depressed (without invalidating my experiences at all!) and that it must be hard for me because people don’t really realise, but I still struggle.

I’ve been told many, many times that I don’t look depressed.  After a rather difficult incident at school at the end of last year, I had to take some time off school because I couldn’t cope with my classmates’ reactions.  When I returned, a lot of people indicated that they were surprised because I’d always seemed so okay.  Even my therapist doesn’t fully understand my life, because I’ve always been told not to show emotion, and after years of having my emotions invalidated, I act okay even when I’m not, even without thinking about it, sometimes.  So yes, I don’t look depressed.  That doesn’t mean I’m not depressed, though.  I have struggled with depression for the past 3 years and very few people know (although I’m trying to be more open about it now).  So what lies beneath the surface?  What aren’t people seeing?

I’m not a person who cries much, but things lately have been getting too much for me.  Last night, I was crying alone in my room and my father happened to walk by and see me.  He had to hold me for 20 minutes while I couldn’t stop crying.  My mother saw, as well, and was so terrified that she offered to let me go horse-riding after the exams (this has been an ongoing battle… my parents didn’t want to let me ride).  When she made that offer, despite the fact that I was finally getting offered a chance to do something I’ve always had to fight my parents for, I wasn’t ready to take them up on the offer because when I’m depressed, no matter what I do, I don’t enjoy it (fancy medical term is anhedonia), and I didn’t feel like I wanted to go horse riding.  That’s my depression.

I think about suicide nearly every day.  I don’t want to.  The thoughts scare me, but I can’t make them go away.  I’ve made several detailed plans for suicide.  I’ve had thoughts that go something like “I want to commit suicide the day the IB exam results come out, even if I do well”.  I chose to accept an offer from a university that doesn’t require a deposit so that if I commit suicide, my parents can save money.  That is a truly awful way to pick a university to attend, but that was my reasoning.  That’s my depression.

I don’t believe the love anyone else has for me.  Even when someone stayed up talking to me past midnight when I was in the hospital until the nurse came with pain medication and I could finally sleep, I believed that person disliked me.  When someone tells me that another person likes or respects me, I always believe that the person is lying.  Even when someone tells me themselves that they like or respect me, unless I’m having a particularly good self-esteem day, I believe that person is lying.  I’ve had days where I felt like the love and care shown to me by my best friends and family has been part of some massive joke that they’re all playing on me.  That’s my depression.

On the surface, I look happy.  Most people wouldn’t suspect that I struggle with mental illness, unwanted suicidal thoughts, self-injury or anything else.  My life looks picture-perfect.  Generally good grades (at least in the past…this year I’ve been too depressed to study or turn in homework a lot of the time and my grades have suffered), supportive parents and I always have a smile ready…but that’s not my depression.  My depression is what lies beneath the surface.

Welcome to Midnight

900 years of time and space, and I've never met anyone who wasn't important. - Doctor Who

The Doctor’s words of wisdom…

Another year is over.  Finally over, or unfortunately over.  I hope it was a great year for you.  It wasn’t really one for me.  But that’s okay.  Because a new year is a time for change, a time for healing.  Change is absolutely terrifying, but it’s also one of the most profoundly beautiful things in the universe (which has to do with the title of this blog, Le Chatelier’s Principle).

Every year at this time, people all around the world make resolutions.  Today is a time to take an honest look at our lives and rebuild them.  And that’s what I plan to do this year.   For the past year, I have let my struggles with depression, self harm and anxiety rule my life.  For the past year, I have fought my demons, winning sometimes and losing sometimes.  For the past year, I’ve fought my demons mostly alone, because I didn’t feel I deserved to share, to reach out, to ask for help.  This year will be different.  My promise to myself is to not let my belief that I don’t deserve help get in the way of my asking for help that my friends and family are waiting to give me.  I’ve survived this year, and that’s a great thing to celebrate.  But what I’d much rather celebrate is my commitment to not be ashamed of my truth.

*****

The following was taken from the TWLOHA blog and was written by Jamie Tworkowski.  It can be found here.

Five.
Four.
Three.
Two.
One.

The ball drops and fireworks. Resolutions are made.
People scream and people kiss and is it possible to change?
Is it really truly possible to leave the past behind?

Welcome to Midnight.

Another year comes to a close. Another year begins.
With a moment in between.
Why the fuss?
Why the fame and fireworks?
Is it more than hype? More than something else to sell us?
Is there something to this holiday? Something true inside it?
Because isn’t there something inside us that aches for change…
Dreams it to be possible…
To let go.
To hold on.
To leave it behind.
To start again.
To be new.
Is it possible?

If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs, then you’re alive today tonight right now.
And who can know how long we have here…
And is it a gift? Was it ever a gift? Did that ever feel true or could that one day feel true?
Are there things to fight to live for?
Moments and people… Weddings and children and all your different dreams…
Love…
Is your life more than just your own?
And are there broken things you were made to fight to fix?
Broken families, broken friends… Injustice.
Will you move for things that matter?

Wouldn’t it be nice if change took just a moment?
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?
Midnight and we’re new. Midnight and the past erased. Midnight and we’re free.

It seems to come slow. It seems to be a surgery.
Forgiveness. Healing. Sobriety. Letting go. Starting over.
It seems to happen slowly over time.
One day at a time, the choice made new each morning.
Will you fight?
Will you fight to be healthy?
Will you fight to be free?
Will you fight for your story?
Will you fight to get the help you need?

Change takes more than a moment, but maybe there’s also something to this celebration of a moment, something to the way it speaks to us, something to the way we fear it, and dream it to be true. Maybe it’s the most honest moment of the year.

It’s possible to change.

Welcome to Midnight.

Here’s to the possibilities.

Peace to You.
jamie

Bad Day

Or why when I know I’m not doing well, I should take a step back and not try to push myself.

On Thursday night something bad happened.  Or rather, a perfect storm of bad things happened. I’m not going to go into details, but the end result was that despite having been keeping myself mostly afloat for the last few months or so, I got to a point where I was once again seriously considering taking my own life.  I was making a plan, doing internet searches to see where I could buy the poison I wanted to use… And then I got a text message from a friend in Japan.  I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t texted me, but the important thing is that he did.  And that he listened.  He didn’t once express that he thought my problems were silly (which each of them, taken alone, actually was), or that he thought I was overreacting (I might have been, I don’t know).  He just stayed up late into the night with me until I felt ready to be left alone.  Until I felt I could finally get some sleep.

It helped.  A lot.  I don’t know how to express how important it was to me, in that moment, to have a friend who offered me his unconditional love and acceptance in a moment where I needed a person to listen, to care.  He didn’t try to invalidate my feelings, even if in the privacy of his own mind he might have seen them as an overreaction to the situation, he accepted that even if they weren’t real to him, they were very real to me, and to him, that was enough.  He accepted that there are things in my life, in my mind, that are hard for me to deal with, and he accepted that in that moment, I needed him to put aside whatever he might have been thinking or feeling to be there for me.  And he was.  In the end, it was really that simple, and I’m grateful for that.  But even his being there for me wasn’t enough to ‘fix’ me, it never has been, it never will be.  Depression is like that.

The next day I went to school.  I thought I was better, which I was.  I also thought I was fine, which I wasn’t.  By the time the last lesson came around, I was feeling rather awful.  But because it was my favourite class, against my better judgment, I decided to try to make it through the last hour and a half instead of calling it a day and heading home to take care of myself.  I made it through the lesson, barely.  A friend told me to stop pacing because it was making her nervous and another friend came up to me and held my hand and whispered comforting things into my ear.  The teacher gave me odd looks, but said nothing, even when I didn’t participate in class at all.

The lesson was not good.  I couldn’t even fake a smile, much less try to act like things were any more okay than they actually were.  I don’t remember the actual lesson itself very clearly.  But later, I did worry that the teacher’s strange looks meant I looked like I was not paying attention, like I was bored.  I started worrying about whether the teacher would hate me forever (this happens a lot, but that will be another post).  I confessed these fears to another friend who listened and didn’t judge.  She accepted that my fears were very real to me, and reassured me that even if the teacher noticed, he wouldn’t think that I wasn’t paying attention and that my expression had been one of sadness and struggle rather than one of boredom.

I’m not entirely sure what the conclusion of this post is supposed to be.  Initially, I thought I was writing a post about how next time when I feel that awful, I should take the rest of the day off school instead of trying to push myself to get through a lesson, even if it is my favourite.  But now, looking back on what I’ve written, I think what really stands out in my post is how wonderful my friends have been.  How supportive, how kind… how important.  So I think I’m going to leave this post like that, a monument to the people in my life who are willing to put their own struggles on hold to be there and hold my hand (physically or virtually) while I battle my demons.