BPD + Me = Forever Alone?

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.

Cry baby at weddings…

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!

Living with BPD… or me?

Who am I?

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!