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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the New Method of Suicide Note Online?

 laptop writing

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Emotional Vulnerability of Love for a Borderline

 

heart-writing

 

Relationships in the best of circumstances are tricky waters to navigate. They require not a captain and a first mate, but two co-captains, who are not only plotting out a similar course but are willing to stick together when the tides change your direction. Surviving childhood sexual abuse leaves emotional scars that twist your views and feelings on life and relationships, and the after effects tend to weave their way into various areas of your life, often on a subconscious level. One of the main attributes of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aside from the intense fear of abandonment is a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. For me, the combination of the two is like being a one eyed captain trying to navigate the seas on a raft, with no compass and a map in Latin. In dealing with both of these things I had to self-protect in order to survive and my coping mechanisms involved shutting down amongst many things, trust and love.

That being said, living behind that wall of safety also limits both our life experiences and the corresponding emotions. We miss out on a lot because we are lacking in confidence, and remaining behind our wall in our comfort zone is a lot easier than facing the unknown fears outside. In my mind, it is a matter of weighing out risk versus reward. Is the risk worth the (in my mind) inevitable pain that will come at some point? I also tend to compare if this impending pain could be worse than something I have already been through, again trying to measure out the risk, and when emotionally rational, I realize there is very little in life that could traumatize me any more than has already occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, that by no means implies that I have broken down my wall and jumped head first into my fears. It is more of a case of taking down a few bricks at a time, enough to sneak out, but leaving those bricks within arm’s reach in case we need to rebuild in a hurry.

Being a survivor, I carry with me a sense of shame, a lack of trust and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being a burden. I have major attachment issues already, which are severely increased in intensity with BPD, and the combination of those plus the depression and anxiety leaves me feeling almost unworthy of a relationship. How could I burden someone with my baggage and complexities without feeling guilty, or expect someone to put up with the frequent and extreme mood swings that come with BPD. If I feel all these negative things about myself, how could they not be clear and apparent to someone else, or is it me projecting my thoughts onto somebody else? Do I even know how to love properly, or can I trust enough to let someone pass through the door in my wall? Am I just too messed up to be loved? All those things have run through my mind so often, and for so long they have become true to my emotive mind, and so I deem myself unworthy of a relationship, and by convincing myself of this it becomes my reality, and it is shoved to the back of my mind as a truth that no longer needs dealt with, after all, there are more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

Life tends to throw things our way at the most unexpected times. It happens often in therapy, where you think you have done the work to get past an issue, and boom, there it is in your face again, and all you can hope is to put some of the new coping mechanisms into action before the innate instincts of self-protectiveness so quickly take over. So after having spent the last few years convincing myself I would be alone for life, suddenly someone walks right on in. At first, I don’t take anyone’s interest in me seriously because I can be a convincing outside package but when they find out the truth about my emotional instability and the traumatic past, they don’t stick around anyway. In the past, I have tried to hide it, but one can only mask their true identity for so long, so this time I decided I would just get it over with up front…part of the basics “I love soccer, animals, ice cream, and I am diagnosed with more mental health issues that you can count on one hand”. After my spew, I put my phone down, fully expecting that like everyone else, that would raise enough red flags to have her running in the opposite direction, instead, the conversation continues. She starts asking questions about the BPD, and every answer I give her comes with no reply of shock or judgment. The longer we talk, the more she asks and although she may not understand everything, she seems to be accepting it, which is amazing, but also sets off my BPD abandonment issue; the closer they get, the more it will hurt when they leave. It also raises red flags with the survivor part of me that has yet to develop a proper sense of self-worth. So as the days pass, some of my past comes out and again it is met with understanding and empathy rather than intolerance and apathy, which brings both a sense of ease and fear to the table. Ease because the comfort level has almost a sense of familiarity to it…like you have known each other for years and the fear because the closeness is completely overwhelming. Taking a few bricks out of my wall was the plan, but now there’s a full door, someone standing at it, and not leaving.

I would like to say after all the therapies, workbooks and readings that I employed all my acquired and practiced coping mechanisms and I am dealing with the situation in a rational manner and a level sense of emotion, but that would be untrue. Instinct and BPD took over in full force and although I tried to fight it, it carries the same comfort and familiarity as that favorite old sweatshirt you just can’t yet let go of. So BPD has this fabulous quality that in essence makes you test people as a child would test their parents, almost a form of “go away you are too close” to “please don’t leave me”, and with everything else BPD related, these emotions can bounce around five times a day or 100 times a day, with almost incalculable speeds. So I push her away, thinking every time will be the last and she stays, so I pull her closer, and the cycle repeats. I discount the positive things she says about me and she patiently reinforces them, without hesitation. BPD also includes this fantastic trait of impulsivity, which for me, is primarily verbal, and when my words precede my thoughts, she doesn’t get angry, but quietly listens and asks to learn more about BPD and depression. I figure if I tell her about the suicide attempts and constant thoughts as well as the history of cutting, that will be her breaking point, and she will definitely leave, but instead, says she is sorry I had to go through all that, and allows me to express the ideations at my darkest moments, without fear of judgment. My mind is spinning…this is not how life works for me.

Fast forward to today and even with countless number of tests, the rounds of verbal impulsivity and the rest of the issues that come with my mental illnesses, she remains, and despite the inconvenient circumstances which I will not get into, she makes sure I wake up to a morning text, and go to sleep with a sweet goodnight. Despite the physical distance and her hectic schedule, she makes an effort to spend time with me and is always willing to provide an ear to listen or kind words of support. I have only ever had this depth of relationship once before, many years ago, and she remains my best friend to this day, and always. I am trying again to learn to accept love, to believe I am worthy of it and to grasp the idea that someone sees not what I think of myself, but the things I can no longer see, and as much as the BPD is screaming at me to push and pull, I am trying to recognize when my emotive mind has taken over so perhaps I can control the impulses a bit better.

This is a big risk for me, letting someone get this close, allowing vulnerability and trust all while trying to put a muffle on the BPD which is screaming about fear of being left, yet again. That being said, being a minimizer I convince myself that the possible impending hurt of being left can’t be worse than the other traumas I have endured to this point in my life. My instincts (my gut feeling) have kept me alive this long and if they are saying take a chance, then I follow that path. After all, the heart truly is a remarkably resilient organ.

I hope she knows how appreciated and cared for she is, and how thankful I am for her support, patience and understanding, and for choosing me and following me down this often dark and unpaved road with me, when she easily could have exited and taken the highway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naked Truth; With Every Loss I Shatter

broken glass 

 

I have been walking on eggshells as far back as my memory goes. So much so, that if they aren’t there it draws me outside my comfort zone to the point that I believe I subconsciously create them, not only in regards to others but for me as well. Silence your words, mind your actions, and be engrossed with the fear of failure. One that is so great, it inhibits your ability to start things from simple projects to relationships, which brings me to my point; a close friend of mine suggested instead of editing my blogs the fifty times I do, to write about what scares me, and just go off the cuff and hit publish without as much as a second glance. Sounds easy, it comes naturally to her but for me the fear of failure, the fear of a poor reaction, or offending someone is so intense that what she writes in twenty minutes may take me a week. I take the phrase “your own worst critic” to a whole new level. So, as much as it is against every grain of my being, I am open to trying most things once.

Most people are afraid of death or disease; fire, heights or perhaps something even more tangible like spiders or snakes. I will admit I am terrified of fire, and not fond of heights, however neither of those fears compare with the one terror that consumes me…abandonment. Simply put, seared in my mind is the fact that has proven true time and time again; attachment leads to abandonment which gives rise to feelings so intense, just writing this is causing anxiety. I understand no one likes to be left, maybe due to the lack of control over the situation, or the fact that it makes you question both yourself and your sense of self-judgment. Perhaps it simply is because it hurts, but for me this pain and fear extends far beyond what the average person deals with. It is paralyzing.

My birth mother was an alcoholic and drug addict. She was given 6 months after my birth to clean up and get me back, however her illness proved too much for her and the worker would tell me years later that she had showed up for visitation drunk or high, one too many times. As an adoptee, I have questioned for years why she couldn’t try harder, why I just wasn’t enough, and why she in my eyes abandoned me. Decades later, I understand the depth of her mental illness and realize that she just did not have the coping techniques required, however, nothing fills the space that holds those thought and feelings of being relinquished. I mean, who doesn’t like babies?

I was bounced around in foster care until I was adopted at 18 months. Every therapist I have seen, and there have been a few, says my attachment issues are a result of not having the nurturing and comfort that babies require. Everyone will argue with me saying it is not possible or very rare to have memories at 18 months, but I specifically remember being dropped off by a worker to my adoptive home and out of sheer terror, went and stood in the corner by the stairs for what seemed like an eternity. My mom would tell me later it was almost 36 hours before I left that spot. I was scared…scared I would be given back again, or have to go to another home where I would suffer multiple forms of abuse.

My father openly admits he hated children back then and only adopted me because my mom couldn’t have kids, and by him I was treated accordingly. Walking on eggshells was the norm and the situation became more precarious when the domestic violence started. My mom loved me, I do not doubt that, but for me the bond of blood simply does not register in my heart or soul. There was always the fear, the threat of being sent back to foster care, which enhanced the fear of attachment.  The only thing I knew as very young child is that if you become attached to something, it will be taken away. It was not a matter of it might, it was in my heart a matter of when.

Throughout my childhood, this pattern of what I saw as abandonment was quite consistent. I suffered numerous losses before I was 12, including three deaths, another foster child coming to my home and being brought back to be claimed by the system. From then on, I started to build a wall, brick by brick I constructed it as high and strong as I could, and I tried my best to live safely behind it as often as possible. Try not to care too much; fight off any feelings of love and trust; and most importantly, do not allow yourself to be loved. Those were the mantras I tried desperately to live by as a kid, as a teen and for most of my adult life. If you don’t let anyone in, they certainly can’t leave and that leaves me in control of the situation thereby effectively avoiding being abandoned again.

My mom died when I was 19, after a six year battle with breast cancer that spread and ravaged her body while I sat beside her watching and doing all I could knowing it would never be enough and that no matter how desperately I wanted it to be me instead, fate did not choose that path for me. I had six years to prepare, but no amount of time can ready you for such an incalculable pain.  For me, not only had I lost my mom but the one person I had let in my wall; the one person who no matter what I did or said did not leave me until it was time for her last breathe. It will be 26 years since she passed, yet as I write this I wipe away the tears.

There are numerous scars on my heart and a voice in my mind that tells me daily it is not safe to venture outside the fortress I have built. That if I do, the past will continue to repeat itself, resulting in more people leaving and the consequent pain from the loss, which in my mind, to this day, is an abandonment of sorts.  My brain turns it instantly into self-blame. Maybe it was something I said, or didn’t say; something I did or didn’t do; maybe I showed them too much of myself. Whatever the reason, the pain with each loss for me is amplified and relentless.

Living with very few attachments is safer for me but at the same time shuts me down from new possibilities. Over the years, I have started a slow deconstruction, brick by brick and allowed a few more people in than I am comfortable with, but the intensity of the fear has not changed one little bit, and at any moment I have a construction crew at my disposal. There is no life without loss.

Self Harm and Cutting: Chaotic Mind with Painful Vice

self harm pic

The razor blade sits next to the knife on the coffee table. They are beckoning me as a shot of whiskey would for an alcoholic or a dime bag to a drug addict. Addiction does not discriminate against those who inevitably are using it as a coping mechanism, some method of escape from the pain that consumes their heart and soul. Any distraction from the savage thoughts that deteriorate what little is left of a sense of self is embraced like a warm hug from an old friend. Regardless of what we tell ourselves, the rational mind knows these means of escapism are only a temporary distraction, however, when you are in intense emotional pain and consumed by loss and hurt, any reprise is welcome regardless of the length of time. If we can’t control the suffering inside, we can control the pain on the outside. We cut into our skin because we are angry and sad; we are hurting, broken and lost. We self-punish, we even cut to remind us we are alive while drifting through the world as a shadow of ourselves. We kill the pain with pain.

The first moment that you press the blade into your skin, your eyes become fixated on the blood. The depth of the cut is irrelevant as it is not about suicide, it is an attempt at relief. You watch the blood build up and start to drip in all directions, down an arm, a leg, maybe a stomach. The wound burns, the surrounding area pulsates and your heartbeat rises from the rush of adrenaline. Your mind is instantly drawn from the depths of depression to feeling the relief this physical pain induces. You don’t think about the abuse, the emotional torment or the constant sense of emptiness and self-hatred. There is no longer a concern of whose words hold truths, who loves you, who is leaving you, who is actually a friend and who is not. Every possible negative thought vanishes as you still can’t remove your eyes from the incision that you made. The one thing you feel you can control when your world is torn apart.

Physiologically it’s not all that complicated. Self-harm releases dopamine and other feel-good endorphins in the brain, so you actually feel relieved after cutting. The endorphins released, literally make you high. It’s the same reason some people find exercise, tattoos or even sex addictive, which thereby contributes to the addictive quality of self-harm. Expecting someone to just quit would be the same as asking a smoker to stop cold turkey, or a heroin addict to flush his stash. Addiction is addiction. All that differs is the means.

Physical pain is temporary. The body starts to repair itself almost instantly, the adrenaline rush wears off and the thoughts flood back with the force of a tidal wave. The guilt, the shame, the embarrassment, the self- loathing starts to build back up, and before we know it we are immersed and drowning, just like we were at the start. Physically we heal from the inside out. The tissue and skin grows and heals underneath as if it was never separated, and we are left with a scar; the only small reminder of that rare moment of relief. The scars on the inside still holding the raw pain, never seeming to close.

Cutting has nothing to do with intellectual ability, social or financial situations. Almost every person who self-harms has experienced one or more traumas that are so tragic and harmful that the mind self protects, repressing the memories and surrounding emotions as a means of survival. Something so overwhelmingly painful happened that we may or may not ever be able to identify or deal with it. Actually stop for a minute and think about how much someone has to hurt and hate themselves in order to slice a blade into their skin; to trade blood for reprise.

So if you ask me why I cut myself, it is for the exact same reasons that you fall into your own vices