I have this persistent, permanent underlying bad feeling… I’ve had it my entire life, and no matter what I do, I can’t get it to go away… not for very long anyway. It always returns.
The only way I can describe it is a crave, a need, to fill a void that exists in my core. it’s an empty feeling, a missing piece, a lack of some thing very important. These days it presents as an urge to put something in my mouth. Something nice, that will make me feel good. It’s often been the way, either consuming something intoxicating like alcohol or drugs, to relieve the feeling. Then there was the starving, followed by the binging and purging, in an attempt to gain power and control over it. Then there was the cutting, where I would try to drain it away.
I’m in therapy, and I can’t identify why or what this is. Is it an underdeveloped ego? Low self esteem? Anxiety? There is a huge, gaping hole inside me where something big should be. But I don’t know what! How can I fix what I don’t know?
It feels like I am lost, alone, lonely, left out, unheard, unnoticed, ignored, unimportant, bored, stuck, frustrated, angry, paralysed, muted, afraid, laughable, weak, pathetic, not taken seriously, disrespected, powerless, out of control, upset, irritated, not trusted, judged, put down, taken advantage of, used, abused, offended, tired, hopeless, unsure, uncertain, unstable, disliked, overreactive, sensitive, delicate, fragile… bad. In general. All the negative feelings and emotions you can think of.
I drink daily, to ‘take the edge off’. “Take the edge off what?” My therapist asked… a question that plagues me… what’s wrong with me? And how do I fix it?
I can’t go on using maladaptive coping mechanisms to get short-term relief from this feeling. I can’t continue to attempt to fill the void with alcohol. I need to figure this shit out and address the issue.
So I’ve been in my new (managers) role for a whole month now, (I still can’t believe it!). All in all… it’s gone very well. My manager, however, neglects to support me, which I am not used to! I get zero guidance, few instructions and minimal praise. But, it’s just meant I’ve had to stand up and very quickly become a strong, independent leader. I’ve had to put my boss boots on a few times, things are taking shape though, and i’ve got to remember that me and the team are all learning.
I’ve also started Therapy. Tuesday afternoons at 4:00pm, which would be impossible as I work 8:30am-4pm, but I requested that we do it via video calls, so I don’t have to travel a million miles across town and have to miss work.
It’s going well, only three sessions in. I like my therapist. He seem’s very fair, insightful, informed, empathetic, understanding, humble and kind. I’ll refer to him as ‘J’. He’s already gained my respect, we’ve spoken about my previous attempts at therapy and what I got, or got denied (in one case) from it. I like that he is conscious not to go over the same things as before, and he seems eager to help me. He’s commented on my ability to reflect on things and convey my message clearly, which I appreciated. You know me, love a bit of praise!
This weekend (just gone) was the annual Xmas meet up with me and my cousins. We’re all of a similar age and are quite a close knit bunch of friends more than anything. All of our partners were invited so there was quite a few of us, we planned to meet in town and go Curling at a novelty games arena/bar type place. I stressed out trying to get there on time (as I’m renowned for being late and didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of making their remarks as usual), so me and Dom got a taxi. The taxi dropped us a few streets away due to roadworks, so there was a narrow path for us to go down to get to the venue…
We politely made our way around other pedestrians on the same path saying ‘sorry’, ‘excuse me’, ‘we’re running late’, etc. When eventually near our turning we cross a couple (man and woman) with a pram each, walking as slow as humanly possible. So, we farted around the woman and was trying to over take the man when the woman piped up and said ‘watch out love, there’s someone up your arse!’ Which I thought was a bit OTT, but ignored it, he looked around snd I said sorry as we passed him (and the pram). Then he makes some obscene comment like ‘For fuck’s sake!’.. despite me being polite. I looked back over my shoulder to give him eyes, and Dom told him where to go.
THEN! The woman started shouting her mouth off at us. So I stopped walking away. I turned around and shouted back at her. To my absolute fucking surprise- she completely abandoned he own baby in a pram – started walking towards me to square up. At this point she has no fucking idea what she’s got her self into (and in a completely different way, neither do I). Me being me will not submit or cower away. So I storm right up to her face shouting as I do -harnessing the combine disorders of BPD snd ADHD- and square right back up to her. Tensions were high. Before I knew it I was throwing punches and Dom was dragging me off. Oh yeah, I hadn’t mentioned this was in broad daylight at 3:30 in the afternoon. The bloke left his pram also, in order to drag me and this bitch apart – so both their babies were left in pram son the street unattended… very fucking responsible… I continued to shout abuse such as ‘you should never procreate!’.
Dom was so pissed off at me. He hardly spoke to me for the next 24 hours. Even in front of my family he kept his distance from me. I’ve been stable for literally years. I’m bound to have slip ups. I don’t think he realises how hard I find it to control myself.
Dom and I argued on the weekend. We’d been out Saturday night, had a few drinks and actually a really nice time together, however when we got home he noticed I hadn’t done the washing up before we left. He was furious. It was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. He broke up with me over it. He said the words to end our relationship. 4 whole years, finished. Just like that. Over something as menial as the washing up.
We kind-of got over it and slept in the same bed afterwards, it was (but it wasn’t) all forgotten about the next morning. The argument lingered over us, although we both chose not to acknowledge it. It lasted for days, longer than the hangover from the alcohol consumed that night. Neither of us could focus at work, last night I couldn’t even sleep. I was ruminating on it all. Questioning if he actually loves me at all, or whether he just says the words ‘Love you’ automatically these days. I then questioned if he has ever loved me, or if he was/is just settling for less than he’s capable of getting from a partner. We had a pretty turbulent relationship from the get go, partly due to my BPD reactions to being in a romantic relationship, and partly due to both our mental health conditions to be honest, that and the stress/pressure of his academic studies… but we made it work, with a lot of hard work and patients – we manage.
Last night while I was lay in bed staring into the dark, questioning all things surrounding me and Dom, I found I started to not only question if he loves me – but if I love him… Questions like: am I just automatically saying the words these days? Did I ever love him? Or was I rebounding from the previous relationship I was in? Did I latch on to Dom through the fear of being alone and single in my early thirties? I then started to question how he makes me feel. Do I feel like an equal? Do I feel respected? The answer… really, is no. I feel like he is better than me… and I feel like he knows it. I even feel sometimes (like that night) he shows it.
Then I started to ask myself if I’m the one that deserves better? Someone who would show me more respect and better understanding… after the way he sometimes speaks to me.
Today is Wednesday and this morning I addressed the elephant in the room – the argument we had on Saturday night… The argument in which he broke up with me, over the washing up… He remembered it all, and admitted that he took it too far. He apologised, as did I. Him for making me sad and me for making him mad.
The way he talks to me when he snaps is not okay. It’s cruel, hurtful, disrespectful, spiteful, and demeaning. He’s never done it sober. But alcohol is a catalyst to feelings. I think he is under a lot of pressure with his studies right now and it’s forcing him to lash out, act out of character. Should I be worried? Think less about myself and my reactions to this behaviour and more about him? And the reason this all happened? He is clearly under a lot of stress. I just don’t know how to help or what to do about it.
What a difference a week makes. Last weekend I was begging for Dom to give me a chance to prove myself worthy of staying with. I’ve spent the week making changes and trying more, and my actions and apologies have payed off. I’m serious about being a better person, for Dom and myself. Yesterday I even liked myself a bit more. I really had let everything go and pretty much given up without realising it. Now I’m awake and aware and feeling alive again.
Over the weekend Dom nearly broke up with me… to be honest……… I don’t blame him.
There is so much I’m doing wrong: I don’t pull my weight around chores and house work, I never cook, barely ever wash up – don’t even know how to use the new washing machine, I drink alcohol at every given opportunity (to excess), I act without thinking about the consequences, I’m selfish, I don’t think about other people, I’m inconsiderate, I’m entitled and expect everything to be done for me and I rely entirely on other people to do everything. I am basically a dependant child, I never take responsibility for my actions, or admit to being wrong. I find it near impossible to apologise in a meaningful way, and worst of all I never change! I blame my mental illnesses for the way I act and react or don’t act, but there is more to it. I got lazy. I lost my drive, my will power… my determination. I lost myself. Relationships are a partnership, they take work. I’ve slacked off and jeopardised everything. I nearly lost Dom for fuck’s sake! The love of my life. All because I stopped trying, at life. I stopped putting effort in and became completely self absorbed. He has the patients of a fucking saint to put up with me being this horrible, and for so long! How he’s stayed with me though my shit I really don’t know.
I apologised for real today. I can see it all now. I took a long hard look at myself over the weekend, and I didn’t like what I saw. I feel like I have woken up for the first time in literally years. He’s right, it’s repeated behaviour. Why would he want to continue a life together being my mother, my carer, my fucking slave for God’s sake. It would not be fair.
The weekend was an eye opener. A wake up call. I know this is not who I am. I CAN change, for the better. I know I can. It’s going to take more than therapy, it’s going to have to be driven from within me.
I said “I’m nothing without him” and that’s got to change too. I need to be a someone, I need to have self respect, stand on my own two feet. We can lean on each other for support in times of need, but the poor guy has been carrying me!
Well no more. Today was a new day. A fresh start. I’ve started to make changes already. It helps that I can see clearly now. I think I definitely have an alcohol problem. I would even say… at this point I admit to being a functioning alcoholic. I haven’t touched a drop for two days now. I’m not blaming the alcohol, but it is a catalyst to a downward spiral.
I need to be alert to my behaviour, pay attention to other people, let myself feel instead of numbing out or getting bind drunk. I will change. I’m certain of it. Even if I need to re-read this post everyday for the next five years. I can’t go on mistreating Dom, and the people I love.
Maan, I can’t focus at all lately. It seems I did a good job last week to finish my targets at work and whatnot but now I’m completely spent! and my diet has slipped big time! Which is utterly stupid because I’ve just spent £115.00 on a diet/weight loss app… I’ve not told Dom… I’m drinking all the time too, which is a bad sign that there is something I’m not coping with in life. I think it’s falling behind at work if I’m honest with myself. With each day I get further and further behind being ‘on top of things’… it gets me down and feeling guilty as hell, so I deal with that by getting drunk, which makes it hard to wake up, which makes me late, which makes me have to pay for a taxi, which is a waste of money, and I had to get an overdraft this month because I can’t afford to live like this!
I have my mid-probation (3 months in the job) review on Friday. In some areas I’m doing great, and in others I’m atrocious. I have so much e-learning to do. Really you should do that in your first few weeks… I’m three months in… shit. It’s not just that. There’s other stuff. I get so tired, I sleep in and stuff, it’s so unprofessional. My favourite phrase in work when my incompetence starts appearing is “the cracks are starting to show”. To be fair, I’m severely mentally ill, every day is a fucking struggle! How I manage to just about function – I really don’t know.
I need a week out to get my head straight and then a week of just admin to catch up with everything… unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Wahhh. Woe is me.
When lockdown first happened I reached out to loads of people who I’d not spoken to in years. I felt more forced into isolation than ever before, and I’m quite a social person naturally, I just can’t keep hold of friends for some reason..? All of a sudden I was connected again! I felt revitalised, like I suddenly had more friends than I thought! They were all just a bit dusty on a shelf hidden away in the back of my brain somewhere. We had conversations over the phone, WhatsApp groups, and meet ups over Zoom (which seemed to be the new Skype). Lockdown was a bit of an excuse to do these things. Distance wasn’t a problem OR an excuse for anyone anymore because you could be bloody neighbours and still not be allowed to see each other face to face in real life. It was a weird time, filled with boredom, loneliness and fear, but also, hope, gratitude and strong emotional bonds.
Fast forward to lockdown lifting; The incredibly, idiotically named “Freedom Day”, where everyone was… (is..?) still scared about COVID killing people, but it’s not enough to keep us apart anymore… all so it may seem.
Personally, I feel lonely again. I’m seeing wAy more people face to face now, at my new job etc. than I have done for a very long time, but I’ve gone out of my way to make sure I continue to text and ‘check in’ on those people who I reconnected with at the start of lockdown. However, I’m not getting much in return… the conversations run dry, I get short answers, or no answers at all! I know people have their busy lives back, but so do I..? – I’m still making the effort… Friendship is supposed to be a two way thing. Where are the people texting and ‘checking in’ on me? Where are my texts out of the blue?
I swear, I scroll through my phone book these days and there are so few I would actually call a friend I can’t tell if it’s sad or scary.. maybe both…
I had a conversation about this with Dom not long ago. He notices when I get down and always asks about what is making me sad. when the answer is that I’m lonely and I don’t have any friends, it can get a bit awkward. Dom likes to be a problem solver and resolve my sadness with advice, but for this it’s tough… you can’t just magic up friends. You have to build on relationships with chosen people over a long time… not only is there the ‘growth period’ that is a blocker to having instant friends, but there is the question of where the hell do you find them, if you’re not at school, college or Uni..? those were my chances to build relationships that would last me through my boring adult/‘more mature’ years. But no, BPD prevented me from ever having healthy relationships with anyone. Thanks BPD… Then, there were the ones (mainly from Uni) that I did want to keep as forever friends… but I didn’t maintain it he relationships properly when I moved back to Birmingham… “Out of sight, out of mind”, thanks ADHD… so I feel like those relationships are now beyond repair, and I’ll never have that tight bond we once had ever again… Fuck.
I’ve even neglected my relationship with my brother… who for most of my life has been my best friend in the whole world. We have a closeness due to our family situation that not many people would be able to comprehend. Our family are the functioning fucked up, but however negative that sounds… there is SO much love for each other. Me, my Mom, my brother and my Dad.
Now of course I have Dom, the love of my life. I know this because he balances me out whist at the same time sticks by me and supports me through thick and thin. He has the patients of a saint, not many people would or could put up with my multitude of flaws (be that due to the personality disorder or various other factors). Dom saw something in me that was worth more than anything I could see in myself, he has spent the last four years trying to show me and to convince me to believe in myself, which I must admit is sinking in. He saw a future, he saw potential, he saw the ‘me’ beneath my collection of diagnoses and layers of medication. However dreamy snd romantic sounding this is it’s not been easy – Don made very clear from the start of our relationship that he wouldn’t be my carer, that I have to be able to take care of myself and prove that I can be independent… Which, I worked at, and eventually did. I feel like I’m still proving it, every day, but not to him, to myself. Now I want to succeed, I want to be stable and happy and one day raise a family with Dom. He gave me something to fight for. He was and always will be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
I love you Dominic Russ.
Talking about the future like this has made me realise, there are a small handful of people who I still want to be around with me on this journey. People I feel are drifting away. My brother being the main one. I have a few relationships that I need to focus on fixing, then I can think about new friends (if I need them). I’m nearly 33, where do you get new friends at this age anyway?
Those people I love, you know who you are (yet I very much doubt you know of the existence of this blog). I’m coming for you, I’ve not given up.
A few weeks ago I was a bridesmaid at my cousin Rosie’s wedding. It was forecast to rain and was set to be an outdoorsy summer affair, but thankfully the weather held out all day and the celebrations were only dampened by my many tears during the ceremony! I am so strange when it comes to weddings of people close to me (and I guess even of those not so close to me – as I nearly cried at Dom’s friend’s wedding years ago), I just get really overcome with emotion. It’s confusing, I think it’s really lovely and cute and for some reason that brings me to tears… Yet, I play the clown in gatherings at funerals… in a desperate attempt to cheer people up…
Anyway, Rosie looked stunning, her and the groom looked like Britain’s next top models! Such a handsome couple. Dom and I unfortunately were not warned in time to congregate in the marquee for the speeches, so we missed a few minutes of the father of the bride speech talking to the woman selling craft ale round the corner, when we realised we had to be somewhere, we had to sneak in and found some seats that were quite far away. At the end of the groom’s speech he announced that the day previous they had discovered that Rosie is in fact pregnant with their first child!
I am so happy for them. They’ve been together for 10 years, and they are the perfect match. They will both make amazing parents.
There kind of is nothing I want more in this world than to have a baby. So of course I’m slightly envious, but not in a bad way. It’s just natural. Dom thinks we’re not ready… I am. I want a baby as soon as possible really. I hate the idea of leaving it too late. Or even not leaving it too late and being an old mom. Women only have a certain number of eggs, we’re not like men who are pretty much fertile until they’re dead! I’m 32 now.. rapidly approaching 33. Dom is still doing his PhD. Granted, it’s coming to an end, but then he wants a holiday and then he’ll have to get a job. Will we have to move? Who knows? When do we look into buying a house? All these things are factors. But, baby needs to be a factor somewhere too.
Rosie apologised to me sometime following the wedding that she didn’t warn me of the news before hand as she knows how triggering a pregnancy in the family can be for me (after the breakdown I had when I found out my other cousin Becky was pregnant – which was about two years ago now).
Total BPD reaction, to be so jealous that you can’t function. While at the same time knowing that they deserve all the happiness a child will bring to their family, and being happy for them. I’m trying so hard not to let it consume me this time. I’m trying to be happy with what I have right now. Dom sees my over the top emotional reactions and does not understand them. He thinks I’m being a baby. I really think he needs to research borderline personality disorder a bit more, because he just does not empathise with me when I need him to most.
He think’s I’m too immature and irresponsible right now. He want me to prove myself before we even think about it. He is a very pragmatic person. He has his routines that get him through, and that is that. I don’t have that. I try, but it does not come naturally to me. But spontaneous, idiosyncratic people can still be parents. I understand why he might want me to be stable for a prolonged period of time before we decide to procreate! I mean, that’s big! Bringing another life into the world. A little helpless slither of a human, to look after and mould into a functioning, well rounded person. We haven’t even had a pet!
I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD (AKA Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, EUPD) for a very long time. My life is a struggle. I’ve decided to focus my posts in this blog a bit more on coping with and managing BPD symptoms, as I desperately want to be happy in myself and in my relationships, and live a life as close to ‘normal’ as I can get. Writing seems to help me pause and reflect.
Ever since the psych told me I had BPD, I never really researched it too much. I did a bit, saw that the slipper fits and moved on. In hindsight (I think I was in my early 20’s) what I really should have done is some in-depth research to try and understand myself. Better late than never I’m starting now (age 32).
This book ‘Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies’ has been on my book shelf since I did get diagnosed. I think my Mom bought it. So I’ve dusted it off and started reading it. The book states it’s designed so that you can start anywhere you like, no real order. So I started with chapter 21, the one that will most interest Dom – ‘What to Do When Your Partner Has BPD’… to be honest I’ve been horrified by my reading. It really does paint people with BPD in a bad light! It calls us manipulative and in a lot of cases (intentional or not) abusive! This chapter really seems to feel sorry for the partner of anyone who has BPD, and gives advice on how to leave your relationship. I’m quite hurt. I told Dom to read it (before I’d read it myself), and now I’m scared that he’ll read all the bad things it portrays us as and take the book’s advice to leave me… there’s not much advice on how to maintain a relationship with someone with BPD, it basically says, if your staying with them you will need therapy to help you deal with it, but really- run for the hills!
There is a massive stigma surrounding BPD, this whole: nasty, evil, psycho-killer, manipulative, unpredictable, abusive, impulsive, suicidal, attention seeking mess. It’s also well quoted by professionals that “It’s not a mental ‘illness’, it’s a personality disorder”, making it sound less serious than it is, which is bad, because it is very fucking serious.
In the past I’ve longed for a different diagnosis, bipolar, schizophrenia, anything! Something that IS an ‘illness’ so they can give me the drugs and I’d respond to that treatment and start to feel better. But that doesn’t happen with personality disorders I’m afraid. Personality disorders are complicated. We have built up this severe mental gymnastic problem that twists everything and makes us feel emotions in extremes, black and white thinking, splitting, etc. from childhood. So it is deeply ingrained into our personality (or lack there of), and extremely low sense of self/self esteem. So we can’t just pop a pill every morning and symptoms disappear. We are wired that way, so we can pop pills to take the edge off mood swings (for example), but it won’t make them go away. To make them go away it would take years of long term intensive specialist therapy maybe as well as meds, to reprogram how we automatically feel, think, act and react to things.
Sounds like hard work, huh? well yes! It is. And it seems like it’s too much like hard work for my Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), as I’ve been under their care my entire adult life (and was under child and adolescent mental health care prior to that) and they have never offered me Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) which was specifically designed for people diagnosed with BPD.
Now that I am older and speak my mind more, less afraid of authority figures (or those who perceive themselves as that), I quizzed my psych on it last year, whilst in a (very few and far between) phone consultation appointment (not face to face due to covid). She said it was only for people who are currently self harming on a very severe level, the type where they need hospital treatment… so… why – when I cut my wrist so badly that I severed tendons and needed surgery to repair the damage – wasn’t I offered DBT??? There was the time I attempted suicide where I took a massive overdose and cut both my wrists, spent one night in a normal hospital, only to go home the next day. No psych intervention.
I was only an inpatient once and it was when I was a teenager. My parents took me out prematurely (after two weeks) against the psych’s advice because in their opinion it was making me more upset. Mental health services seem not to take me seriously, and I think it’s because I have the ability to articulate, and argue my case. They think that makes me less ‘crazy’, but I’m not. I had a melt down and got banned from the only chance at real therapy I’ve ever had, because I threw a chair across the room and they had to evacuate the other patients as I got mad… these events I’ve listed do make me sound like a ‘nutcase’ but really, I’m just frustrated and need help. No one helps me.
Long story short, I had to beg and plead with my psychiatrist to refer me for an assessment for DBT. She finally did (just to get me off the phone I think), she was sure they would not take me on. But when I explained my history to the man who assessed me he said I was a perfect candidate for it and I’m now on a waiting list.
The take home from this article is: fight for your treatment! If there is something wrong with you (no matter what it is) fight tooth and nail until you get the treatment you need. We only live once, so we might piss off a dr, so what, it’s their job to listen, and a lot of them don’t!