Love, Me and BPD

 

Borderline Personality Disorder basically feels like all your emotions are attached to your nerve endings, which are all protruding from your skin. They are constantly tingling and even the slightest breeze initiates a sense of pain that would be almost incomprehensible to someone who has never felt it. They fire off at even the smallest of triggers with the ferocity of an electric shock, no matter the time or place, for undetermined periods of time. It’s like being sunburnt to the point of blisters and the pain of having to put the cream on, then the gauze and top it off with the constant irritation of clothing; or like having open sores after having ripped the scabs off, only these sores are affected by words and actions instead of touch. Being around people can in itself be a challenge, but it seems for me that the closer you are to me, the more reactive my emotions are.

It’s been just over seven months since I decided to deconstruct the wall that was guarding my heart and allow someone close enough to not only invite them in, but actually allow them to cross the threshold and shut the door behind them. It is a constant daily struggle to not to rebuild my walls while slowly pushing them out the door, or to just run out the door myself. The vulnerability that is involved in a relationship is a constant trigger to my deepest fears of abandonment and being un-loveable, and regardless of the constant reassurances I require and receive, the terror continues to surface. I question things that are said or not said, done or not done, and always seem to read between lines that are not even there, creating unnecessary negative scenarios that trigger me even further, causing me to either internalize the pain or lash out, neither of which are particularly healthy. With BPD, vulnerability is far more than the feeling of being susceptible. It is more like walking down a dark alley, naked and defenseless while trying to keep an eye out in every direction knowing that nothing can protect us, from others or from ourselves.

Almost all of my relationships have had a sense of instability. Distant friends seem to be the easiest relationships to maintain because there is limited contact or communication, but the closer I am to someone the rockier the road becomes. My closest friends and my relationships often face the brunt of my BPD episodes, and despite my trying to control the impulsiveness of my words and reactions, I always seem to fail and for this reason, very few stick around. Despite my explaining my illness thoroughly it is just too much for them to understand and it is overwhelming. In fact, unless you have BPD you can sympathize but not truly empathize. The outbursts are so impetuous and the words so often hurtful that when I am rational, I can fully understand why no one would want to stay. If someone said those things to me, I wouldn’t stick around either, yet a few have chosen to stay, chosen to overlook and see past the emotional eruption I throw their way, and for the life of me I don’t know why.

So to those who have stayed in my life despite having to put up a shield from my words and my BPD driven actions, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. You have chosen to peel back the layers of my illness and look for the good beneath. You elect to not only see the positive qualities in me but point and try to bring them out. You put up with my erratic moods and my pushing you away with one hand while reaching out for you with the other. You remain loyal through the hardest times of my life and not turned your back, proving to me that there are people in my life who won’t abandon me, there are people who can love me, undeterred by my illness. I don’t test you on purpose, nor do I mean any malice with my words and I am working on learning to try and control both a little bit better, but in the meantime I want you to know your love, trust , loyalty and patience mean the world to me as I travel along this healing path. I truly love you and you are my family now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drowning In the Waters of Depression

 

 

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I don’t know if it is the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or the depression, or the two of them that work together to try and pull me into the water, after securing boulders to my feet. Regardless of the fight left in me, the weight of the rocks pull me slowly under the water, before sinking me to the cold, dark bottom. These are the times I find it hardest to keep going, to keep fighting. These are the times where I question the progress I have made in therapy and wonder why I don’t yet feel better, or if I ever will.  These are the times when the smallest of things irritates me, getting under my skin to the point of feeling angry. These are the times when I cry the most, feel the most frustrated and misunderstood. These are the times that I wonder if I should fight to cut those boulders off and float to the surface or allow the water to fill my lungs and put my mind and body to a final, peaceful rest. I have clawed my way to the surface more times than I can count and will continue to do so.

For me, these major depressive episodes can come on as quickly as the blink of an eye. They are often triggered by the simplest of things, and last anywhere from a few days to a few months. These are not BPD depression episodes which tend to bounce my emotions around more rapidly, like the lines on a heart monitor. These are feelings of hopelessness and despair compounded with an overwhelming sadness that leaves upon me, an invisible heaviness I can physically feel yet cannot accurately describe. This depression sucks the life out of me, emotionally and physically leaving a sense of tiredness that I can’t control. The simplest tasks like getting up and having a shower or doing the dishes can leave me feeling like I just ran a marathon. The exhaustion of doing something so menial leaves me wanting to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away, and the frustration of that, draws me further towards the bottom.

The depression eats away at my desires. It sucks the pleasure out of the few things that once brought me joy, and replaces them with a complete lack of motivation. It feels like there is just no reason and no ability to see more than an hour ahead. Anything further than that feels impossible, and pointless. The depression makes my mind foggy and takes away my clarity and focus. It makes something that comes naturally to me, like writing, become a daunting and overwhelming task, as if I have to dig for the words instead of them just flowing. This depth of depression takes away every last ounce of hope I have. It makes the sunshine less bright and the flowers lose their wonder.

This type of major depressive episode has an inner monologue that drowns out any voice of reason. It is louder than and stronger than the positivity in my mind, or the therapeutic techniques I have learned to put into practice. It feeds my inner critic with falsehoods so convincing, I have to stop myself from believing them, and remember that depression is a master liar. It amplifies every negative thought or action I have ever done in my life. It takes the words from voices of my past, reiterating that I am a failure, that I am worthless, that I am all those things they said and repeats them over and over like a skipping record. It slowly eats away at my hope replacing it with overwhelmingly realistic scenarios of negativity that are as easy to fall into as a pit of quicksand. It makes me question my existence, my purpose and if I will ever be able to do anything more than just survive.

However, despite the despair and fear, I remain to fight. Despite the feeling of being constantly weighed down, I continue to fight the war in my head and survive its battle scars. I realize this will not last forever. It will pass just as the other episodes have. I know that regardless of the depths of dark, cold water I am pulled into, that I will continue to fight to untie those knots and release those boulders so I can take another breath and perhaps each time, I will spend be able to spend a bit more time at the surface.

 

Is the New Method of Suicide Note Online?

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I have been passively suicidal for most of my life and actively suicidal three times. I know what it feels like to be carrying a burden so heavy your legs can no longer hold you up. I understand what it is like to see nothing but darkness and pain in your future and to have lost every last ounce of hope. I realize the amount of pain you have to be in to get here; to reach the point where death seems like your only option, the only way out. Without getting into the gritty details, let’s just say with my last attempt was meticulous and organized. To me, suicide is a very personal and private thing and I do not want to traumatize anyone more than they may already be. I wanted to make sure the authorities found me and not leave that scar upon my friends. I think most suicidal people would tell you they are not trying to hurt anyone, they just don’t know how else to end their pain. To them, this is the only way out.

That being said, I ponder the people who are determined to make their suicide public. What drives them to jump in front of a train packed with commuters at rush hour? Is there any maliciousness towards others? Why not wait for a cargo train or an empty one? Why affect the lives of others intentionally? Have you felt so invisible your entire life that you felt this method of suicide would draw some attention to you for the five minutes of “fame” you will get as they mention you once on the news or in the papers? Do you feel that because you are in so much pain, then others should be too? These are questions that remain unanswered because there is no one left to answer them.

Technology has done so much for our society and we have come so far in such a short time. The internet has provided endless amounts of information and resources. It has connected people across the world, whether it is family or new found friends. The advancements are rapidly changing and many things become fads until the next new thing is available. We were once excited about the fact we could make a video and put it on the internet for the world to watch at any time but now that is “old”, as the latest and greatest allows you to post live and to show the world a piece of your life at the very present moment. Sadly, there seems to be no limit to what people share, or what people are willing to watch, hence the alarming raise in the number of online live suicides. Again, what motivates someone to share both the preparations for and the last moments of your life with the entire world, and what kind of twisted individual do you have to be to sit and passively watch?

The examples were certainly not difficult to find.

A 12 year old girl, who had previously broadcast a few times that a family member had tried to rape her, hangs herself from a tree, live streaming the whole 40 minute video. Not only did people watch her live, but many of those people online actually encouraged her to kill herself.

Another girl who had spent her life being bounced around foster care hung herself from the shower door of her bathroom, while 1000 people watched her make her preparations, many ridiculed her. A friend saw it and alerted police but they did not arrive in time.

A 20 year old university student went on a message board and offered to kill himself online if he could get help setting up the live video stream. 200 viewers watched as he chased down pills with vodka, barricaded his dorm room door and then set fire to it while he waited to die lying under a blanket. No one online called 911.

Those who turn on their webcams during the darkest, most desperate moments of their lives must feel a need for someone to bear witness to them, or perhaps wish that somebody out of the thousands watching the suicide would care enough to intervene and alert the authorities. They feel like finally their name will be heard and remembered, however within minutes of the video being taken down, most of the viewers will have already forgotten their name.

The internet provides an outlet to suffer in public, to share pain and gain the attention desperately needed, however in these cases, perhaps the internet is just the new form of suicide note. Even though social media sites “prohibit” the promotion of suicide or self- injury and ask viewers to report to authorities immediately, there is no enforcement or regulation for these things. It is impossible for the sites to monitor everything which shifts the burden to the community to help stop bad things from happening. There are now groups of volunteers who monitor many of these live sites hoping to intervene before it’s too late, or perhaps before it is even started.

What I find deplorable are the ones that watch. Are people so disconnected and desensitized that they can sit in the comfort of their homes and not only watch, but encourage a child to kill themselves. Unfortunately it isn’t surprising that online viewer’s tap into these streams, it is almost human nature. There’s no such thing as an accident without a crowd gathering and standing on tiptoes in order to see the person lying on the ground, or people slowing down to stare at the car accident.. Violence and destruction are everywhere in society, from the news to the entertainment industry. Perhaps there is a fascination with other peoples pain because it’s only one gesture removed from our own, or maybe it is just bystander apathy, which basically is a social phenomenon where people are less likely to help someone in need if there are other people present. We are all relying on someone else to make the first move, to differentiate themselves from the crowd, when in fact we should all feel a moral responsibility to help someone at risk, whether you take it seriously or not. How is it going to sit in your mind years from now that someone who was seriously sick killed themselves while you egged them on?

I have been on both ends of suicidal situations and I know the anguish you can feel inside and the desperation to get any bit of attention, but posting a suicide attempt live is the ultimate cry for help, and I will never understand how anyone would take the time to not only watch someone make preparations but taunt and encourage them to carry through with that attempt, most often with fatal results. Think about it, someone’s life was in your hands and you made the conscious decision to do nothing but watch them die. It frightens me, the number of people who feel no moral obligations. We are all human.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We All Just Want To Be Healed

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We all just want to be healed. Regardless of what type of traumas we survived as children or adults, or which illnesses we have been diagnosed with, the end goal is the same. We want the pain and the burden of guilt and shame that we have carried for a lifetime to be eased. We yearn to somehow lessen the effects of our traumas that we drag along like a ball and chain, be it with medications, therapy or a combination of both. We’re looking for our piece of happiness and a sense of peace, but it seems that at some point in time, we all hit our “breaking” point and perhaps that is what starts us on our journey down the seemingly elusive path of healing.

The road to healing is unpaved, unstable and full of unseen hills and curves, yet we trod along, often taking one step forward and falling three steps back. We may see some progress and then suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions which send us spiraling down into the darkness of depression, yet somehow with the lure of being healed, we eventually manage to claw our way back up to continue our fight. This cycle of ups and downs may slow down our progress but as long as we advance in a forward motion, we will get there eventually…or at least that is what my therapist tells me.

As much as healing is the ultimate goal, I struggle with two major issues down my path, the first being, what exactly is healed? The concept is not only completely foreign to my mind but also seems completely unattainable. I can imagine it would be like the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders, or like being able to have days where your mind does not perpetually attack you and send you into a state of emotional frenzy for minutes, hours or even days. I picture fewer tears, less ups and downs and less fear. I imagine rising in the morning and not having those instant few moments of wishing I hadn’t awoken. I picture a more emotionally stable life with healthier relationships and positive choices. Is that being healed or a fantasy I have created of what I wish things could be like?

What is often forgotten on the path of healing is that in order to get there, I have to give up my two best friends, in my case, depression and anxiety, both of which have lasted longer than any one person or thing in my life. Even though I despise the depths of the darkness I am pulled into, there is a sense of comfort there simply because of familiarity.  I have been wading in those waters for so long I no longer know the feeling of walking on dry land. I would have to walk away from the safety of my passive suicidal thoughts, the one thing I can control. I may not be my illnesses per say, but they have certainly been with me long enough to become a small part of my identity, regardless of the obvious negative aspect, and I am supposed to just lose pieces of me and trade them in for the unknown?

The same applies to my negative coping mechanisms. I have been in weekly trauma based therapy for over a year and have been taught many new, positive ways to handle different situations. I have learned different techniques to recognize where my emotions are coming from, that perhaps they are a trauma response from the past. I have been shown how to try to regulate the impulsivity associated with BPD. I have listened, learned, read books and done worksheets and yes, have even taken a few steps forward. However, learning and putting into practice are two different things. When I am of rational mind I am calm enough to remember these methods and perhaps even put them to practice, but when I am emotively driven, the new habits are kicked out the door by the old ones which have become instinctual. They may not be the healthiest ways to cope but for me, they are tried, tested and proven. They have helped to get me through the hardest of times from the earliest of ages. They have kept me safe and alive until this very day, and again I am expected to surrender them and replace them with methods that in my mind are yet untested and unproven.

The path to healing involves a whole lot of uncertainty and blind trust. It means being willing to lose those parts of you that have provided safety and comfort for all those years. It requires an open mind, an open heart and the aspiration to learn. Don’t get frustrated with not making instant or even quick progress, as it takes hours and hours of practice to replace a negative coping mechanism with a healthy one, which will take patience and dedication. All of these twists and turns on my path of healing have tested every emotion and reaction possible, they have pushed me back as I am struggling to step forward, yet I continue on. I am not yet at the point of replacing all of the old with new and have found that as long as I have the comfort and availability of the old tucked in the back of my head, then the new seems a little less frightening. It’s like wading into the deep waters but knowing there is a lifeboat within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dread of Losing My Sanctuary

 

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I have lived in the same place for 13 years now. It is a small, cozy apartment in a historic house in a quiet, old area tucked in the suburbs. Over the years I have made it as much my own space as possible. It is well suited to my needs and most importantly my budget. When I first moved in, it took quite a few months for me to feel just physically safe. The blackness of the backyard, the creaks of the floors above and the surrounding sounds kept me alert at night for months on end, and despite me being surrounded by my possessions, it was well over a year before I started to feel the emotional safety I desperately need. Having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and major depression, I tend to isolate myself from people and places as much as possible. When I am alone and safe, I can be me without worrying about others reactions or feeling insecure I can cry, scream, shout, be in the silence or do whatever it is that comforts me at the time and I don’t have to deal with the anxiety from the stigma surrounding mental health.

My house is being torn down for property development.

Very often, survivors of childhood trauma have difficulty finding a sense of both physical and emotional safety. For me, it comes out as an intense feeling of uneasiness in public places and increased anxiety in social situations. My mind and body have become hyper-sensitive over the years which leads to me feeling like I am always looking over my shoulder, keeping my senses and emotions on high alert.  Most survivors have created their own place of safety, whether it’s at your therapist’s office or your home, a room in your home, it is a sanctuary; the one place you can just be you without fear of stigma or judgment. It is a space that provides you comfort, ease and a sense of peace.

Nobody enjoys moving. It is a big change and causes anxiety and stress for many people but when you have the addition of a mental illness to the situation those feelings increase tenfold. There’s the organizing, the checklists and the packing. There is the packing and unpacking of the truck and organized chaos while boxes are being carried to their according spaces. There is the hassle of having to dig through stacks of boxes to find the simplest of necessities and the frustration of not being able to do so. You desperately want to unpack everything, find its place and put it away as soon as possible in order to gain some control over the chaos that has become. Chances are you did not pack your home in a day so it is somewhat unreasonable to expect to unpack within the same time frame. Sure, you can relax somewhat now that the biggest part is done, but that does not necessarily put you at ease. For me, there is the stress of getting to know a new area, with new neighbors and new landmarks. There are the new creaks and noises to adjust to while I lay in bed at night. There is the gradual acclimation to the new places and spaces that I have filled with my décor to turn the new into the comfortable.

The specifics of when I will have to move are one big unknown. I have a rough idea in my head, but the fact that it is not concrete, leaves it out of my control, and has me at great unease. I have about four months to save for first and last month’s rent plus moving expenses, and that is even if I can qualify given I am on Long term disability right now. I have made countless lists of what needs to be done, down to the smallest detail and am as prepared as I can be this far ahead of time, and yet my anxiety spikes and my depression spirals down every time I think of it. Quite simply put, for me, it is far too much change. It requires time to adapt to a new environment but being able to make it a safe place, a sanctuary could take months, and that leaves me emotionally vulnerable, scared, depressed and anxious. I understand that I will have with me the things that make my home comfortable, but for a survivor, feeling comfortable is far from feeling safe. It means I have to deal with the loss of my safe space and a period of limbo until I can create a new one.

So in the meantime, I can do little other than wait. Wait and hope. Hope that the fear and anticipation won’t push me deeper into the darkness. Hope that my anxiety does not continue to snowball into a million negative scenarios and enhance the issues from my BPD. Hope that things will work out the way they are meant to be. Those thoughts however do not seem to be easing my fears.  Change is inevitable.

 

 

Just A Quick Note

I wanted to sincerely thank everyone who takes the time weekly to read my blog. It really does mean a lot to me and is very humbling. I try to post weekly but wanted to  inform you that for the first Monday of each month I have been asked by a good friend and fellow survivor to be a guest blogger on his site, so if you are still interested in reading you can find the posts at mindbodythoughts.blogspot.ca. My regular posts will be on here except for the beginning of the month.

Be well and stay strong.

My Lack of a Blood Bond

 

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I always knew I was adopted. It wasn’t sprung upon me in my teenage years causing to question my upbringing, nor did I find some conclusive sheet of paper which would turn my life upside down. It simply was a subject that was open for discussion at any point in time. I was 18 months old and had bounced around the foster care system since birth, and by the time I arrived at my parent’s home, not only was I emotionally and physically scarred but I was also aware that this was yet another family who might get rid of me like the rest had. I know I did not understand the word adoption, or perhaps even the concept, but I knew it felt different.

My mom was up front with me from day one in explaining that I had a birth mom, but that I was chosen by them to be a part of their family. As I grew older she let me know that she would help me look for my birth parents if that was something I was interested in and over the years, curiosity popped in and out of my head…who did I look like? Who had the blue eyes? Who was responsible for my pudgy little fingers? While those questions were always at the back of my mind they never became much of a priority, unlike the constant nagging of the “why” question. All I knew at the time was my birth mother was young and unable to take care of me and given that none of my foster homes opted to keep me, there must have been something wrong with me, and the fear of being “given back” was a constant shadow in my mind.

Growing up, there was not a lot of time or emotional space to think about finding my birth parents, as the domestic abuse in my home started when I was five and ended when I was 13. My sexual abuse, which occurred outside the home also started at five and ended at 14 and my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13 and lost her battle after six long years. I was 19 when my mom passed away and although over the years, the curiosity of my origins had grown bigger, the guilt about doing it after my mom died was overwhelming and once again I pushed the issue to the back of my mind.

In my early 20’s, I was given some information about an Ontario adoption registry that allowed both adopted children and their birth parents to register on a computer program which would then search for a match. I filled out the form, forgot about it and continued on with my life. Out of the blue, when I was 24 I received a big unmarked brown envelope which I proceeded to hand to my girlfriend at the time, told her to open it, thinking it may be a book from a college I had looked into, and ran in to get us coffee. Upon my return to the car, I find her in tears with the envelope in her hand saying “it’s your past”. To be honest I had forgotten completely about it and the shock set in as I started to read the first of the pages.

My birth mother was half black, half Irish and because she had died that year in a fire I was given her identifying information, her name and birthdate etc. She had indeed been a young mother with a history of addiction and mental health problems. My birth father was of Italian descent with blue eyes and darker skin and there was very little other information about him. My birth mothers mom was still alive, and I was also informed I had two half-sisters, and with my permission and a few exchanges of letters, a meeting was set up. It is a very strange feeling to be handed family and expected to have some sort of instant connection simply because we share some DNA, especially considering that blood relations had never been a part of my life.

As the meeting approached, I anticipated the many scenarios that could occur, and although I can say honestly that I wished for a close knit family, I went in with as few expectations as possible. It was odd to finally look at someone who has some sort of resemblance to me. My birth mothers mom was a kind, elderly lady who was just thrilled to meet her grandchildren, and like many people of that generation, was not willing to divulge much information about the past. My middle sister had actually lived with our birth mother on and off for five of six years, however following numerous suicide attempts, she was permanently removed and placed into foster care. My youngest sister has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) complete with minor facial and hand deformities and is mentally challenged but was thrilled to meet her sisters for the first time. All in all, the meeting went well, and with the promise to remain in contact, we all went our separate ways.

I noticed within the following weeks a sense of resentment and anger building up towards my birth mother. I get she could make a mistake and not have the ability or support to quit her addictions, and therefore would lose custody of me, but the fact is, she was given six months of after my birth to clean up and prove herself as a worthy parent. She was given supervised visitation rights which she repeatedly showed up high, or still drunk from the night before, and as the weeks passed, the visits lessened until one day, she just never came back. It started to eat at me, what type of woman could prioritize alcohol and drugs over her children, not just once, but three times. Why could she not have at least tried to get me back, not just wash her hands clean and get back to her routine, free from the burden of a screaming baby? How could the cycle just continue to repeat itself with no intervention until a child has to be born with mental deficiencies and physical deformities? Were there more than just the three of us? Perhaps someone who didn’t register, or did she finally figure out that birth control was not as rare a diamond?

As I aged and became more aware of mental illness and addiction and the effects they can have on someone’s life, I began to be able to make a sense of peace with the anger I was feeling. Yes, I will always feel abandoned, but in this case, perhaps it really was the best scenario. My birth Grandmother passed away within a year of the meeting, and I would love to say I have two sisters who I am super close with, but despite my numerous efforts to reach out, the reality has become Christmas or Birthday text, usually initiated by me, and often lacking a response. I have made peace with that as well. I have no expectations of either of them, and as I said, you can’t just put three strangers in a room and because of one common factor, a birth mother, expect a bond to form instantly, or in this case, at all. I care about them of course, but do I love them? Hard to love someone you don’t know.

A blood bond means nothing to me. A chosen bond means the world.