Helplessness

Why do I find it just so hard to get started on anything?

In the time since my last post, I’ve spent a lot of time writing posts in my head. Mostly while driving. The words running on and on, never with an end. I think that’s part of the reason my posts don’t get written. Once I start, who knows how long until I’ll feel I’ve said what I need to? And I don’t have hours on end to sit here and type.

But the the impulse has been pushing me to try to get some of these words out. Just do it. I’ve set another timer, because the last time I did that it was pretty successful.

It’s just getting started. That’s the tough part. Getting started with my day. Getting started writing a report for work. Getting started reading a book for pleasure. Getting started cleaning my room. The best intentions are there to do so, but there’s a block. Something standing in my way.

I feel like I’m talking myself in circles already.

So where’s my head at, right now? Where to begin? There was a period of time, right when I last posted, where things were particularly bad. I was hurting myself often, in the depths of a depression that had me smothered, barely catching any air. Getting through each day was intensely difficult. I spent my time yearning desperately to speak to J, thinking about all I wanted to tell her, and then suddenly feeling paralyzed when in her room or on the phone with her.

What I was struggling most with then, and still continue to struggle with now, is a feeling of helpless. It took me awhile to put words to the feeling, and I still don’t feel like I’ve done the best job of it.

Really, the helplessness is something I’ve tried to convey, something I’ve written, in one way or another on many posts since I began blogging.

These feelings, they are a part of me. A part of the mental illness, which has become so tightly entwined with me to the point that I know longer know how to separate us. I repeatedly come again back to the realization that emotions are part of the package.  They are, in fact, never going away. The intensity may dull with age or with medication; J believes that and asserts it often. Then again, it may not.

Things are going to hurt. All of us in this world feel hurt at times, but the hurt is triggered more easily and cuts much deeper for me than for many other people.  I have to somehow live right now knowing that it’s an unarguable fact that things will ebb and flow from manageable to terribly awful and back again.

I’m supposed to somehow accept that and keep going. To get out of bed each day not just ignorant to what intense emotions may befall me, but also expecting when they do I will wage the war against them in isolation.

This may sound dramatic, because of course I can get support from a friend on a difficult day by means of comforting words or companionship or a fun excursion. I’m not physically alone. I’m mentally, emotionally alone.

My thoughts and feelings are mine and mine only; no one else can know or feel exactly what I’m experiencing. No one can live through my feelings with me, only beside me, and that feels like the loneliest thing imaginable to me. Especially because it fuels my fear that if they can’t really know it, they probably don’t understand it, and may be judging. I live in the tightening spiral of emotions by myself, and always will.

There is nothing that can change those facts. They are, really, facts. It makes me feel so very helpless and so very trapped.

Even physically, there are limits to the level of support. There’s always an invisible boundary in how involved someone else can become as an ally in the battle. I’ve long felt frustrated with others for not doing more, saying more, being more, when I’m upset. For not being able to understand. Sometimes I didn’t know exactly what I even wanted, but I knew it was missing. I felt that no one truly cared.

Then lately there have been times where I’ve seen another person hurting and had the difficult realization that the best I could do in that moment was to offer kind words or stand by in silent support for some time. I’ve realized that sometimes there’s nothing that can be done right at that time to make it better.

Even if I wished to help them, even if I hurt for them, I couldn’t take their pain away. I could offer my support and then eventually I’d have to move on and let them get through it.

While that makes me sad, while that’s hard to recognize, it also has shown me I can’t blame people for the boundary in how involved they can be. J included.   The same way I have to get through my day, so do others. My sadness and shame and frustration shouldn’t swallow us both whole. 

If I can’t control the feelings happening and if I know the coping skills I should use to prevent destructive behaviors, why am I still going to therapy? If there is no solution that can truly fix me, no answer that will make things feel better, what is the point? I’m supposed to be relying on myself as much as possible to get through the storms as it is.

This is not a question I’m asking impulsively the way I do when I’m frustrated with J or trying to push her a way. It’s an honest one, a genuine thought born out of that helplessness.

I haven’t found an answer to this question that as truly satisfied me. When I found the courage to share these thoughts and feelings of helplessness with J, she didn’t have an answer either. There was kindness and validation, but no answer. I really didn’t expect that she would have one, although I think part of me desperately hoped she might.

All I have is the recognition that I go because even if J can’t completely understand, even if I am ultimately alone, even if it doesn’t fix me, for that hour I feel as close to understood and connected and hopeful of repair as I ever will.

Except now because these seeds of uncertainly keep worming around inside of me, I am clamming up in therapy. I sit down and stare at her, with so much to say but blocked from letting it out, in case the emotions come too.

Sometimes the words do come, but I still don’t feel any better.

When I was super depressed and cutting a few weeks ago, all these feelings of helplessness were at an extreme. They were feeding the suicidal thoughts and plans. Now, they are simply a truth. The giant white elephant in every room that I try to ignore but can’t. Because even in moments of joy, I can see the truth looking me right in the face.

I think that’s why even though I’m getting through each day right now, I don’t really feel like I’m living.  Time management is utter hell as of late and I always feel like I’m running late or letting something I’ve planned to do slip by in favor of making the mandatory responsibilities like work or babysitting get done. I’m just managing. Just trying to keep up. Every day is exhausting.

I’m not sure when that changes or how it changes, but I feel that it’s on me to change it somehow. For as little control as I have,  I also haven’t been making the best choices. Eating poorly. Not exercising. Not spending enough time on self-care. I’m not helping my chances of things feeling okay.

I know that even when I can find some strength and willpower to start turning my mess of a life around, the emotions will still be there. And I will still be weathering them alone. That’s the helplessness.

And it’s consuming.

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The Medication Situation

There’s a certain thing that J has been encouraging for months now, since even before I started my job in the fall. That very controversial thing that she has been advocating for is revisiting the idea of seeing a psychiatrist for medication.

It’s something she knows I’m wary of, since every time it gets brought up I usually respond with a simple “okay” and then nothing else follows. Until the next time, usually weeks later, when she suggests it again.

This isn’t our first dance with the idea of medicating. I tried it, briefly, about two years ago now. The psychiatrist I saw was curt and cold, and I disliked her immediately. Plus, when she shared information from my patient portal with me she stated that I denied suicidal ideation, which wasn’t at all true. So it didn’t instill much confidence in me, and not only did I not take the meds, but I never went back.

At the time, I told J that I wanted to focus really hard on getting better with just therapy and hard work. She accepted that for awhile, until she didn’t.

The first time it came up was at the end of the summer. Then again the night of the letter fiasco, as I was sitting crying on her couch. Maybe even another time before or after that, I’m not sure.

But most recently, it came up after I texted J in lieu of our regularly scheduled Monday afternoon check-in. I couldn’t make the call during my allotted time, but I was struggling deeply with a number of feelings, including shame and dread, that were blooming with the thought of going back to work. I wanted her support desperately.

I’d already sent J a text on Friday after having a particularly difficult day. I’ve been trying like hell not to cross the boundary, to need J beyond the two specified times I’m afforded. But I did text her, twice in four days, because I was having such a hard time.

Her response was very kind, somewhat helpful. Except right there in the middle of the text back was again the mention of the psychiatrist, this time with a name and number. A direct referral.

In the moment, I completely withdrew. My mind began to spiral. I shouldn’t have texted her. I’m getting too attached and asking for too much by doing this. This is how our relationship fell into jeopardy the last time. She thinks I’m crazy and she’s trying to push me away so someone else can deal with me. I’ve annoyed her. I’m too much for her. 

I was so thrown off by the way in which she’d suggested the psychiatrist (again) that I planned to just pretend the conversation had never happened. To apologize when I saw her and move on. I really didn’t want to talk about it.

L encouraged me to be honest though. So when I saw J on Thursday, I used all my effective communication skills. I told her that while the rational side of me understood that she really wanted to help me, it felt so strongly like she kept bringing up the psychiatrist during my most difficult moments because I was too much for her.

When I said that, I could see it surprised her. She hadn’t thought of it that way at all. She assured me that she really was just trying to offer what she thought might be a helpful strategy, not because I’m too much for her, but because my emotions can be too much for me.

I told her that while I heard her, I knew she wanted me to see someone else, I wasn’t ready. I needed her to understand that and maybe leave the topic alone for a bit. I promised her when I was ready, I’d include her in the process. She accepted it. It was a good conversation for us.

I thought that was it. I thought we were done with the topic of medication.

Then the following day, my water bottle spilled in my bag, dousing my files in water and killing the laptop I’d been given to use by the school. I absolutely panicked when I realized what happened. It ignited a storm of emotions inside me, fueled by my helplessness in fixing the situation. The laptop had sat coated in water for hours before I even discovered it. I felt so supremely stupid and careless.

I cut myself numerous times that night and the feelings followed me though the weekend, which culminated in an intense self-harm session on Sunday. During that point, I was profoundly suicidal, alternating between laying in bed preoccupied about how worthless my life was and searching my phone for painless ways to die.

In the aftermath of that, I found myself thinking about what J said. That my emotions were too much for me. She was right. My best intentions to get through a day that had been otherwise okay were obliterated. This all started with a simple mistake, but it had blown up because of the intensity in which my emotions flared.

I wondered: What would it be like to have something like that happen and not have it end with me wishing that I was dead? What would it be like to make a mistake and not feel like I deserved every ounce of blame?

So on Tuesday, I made the appointment. It’s not until the beginning of May, but I did it. I’m going to go. I don’t have to accept or take whatever pharmacological intervention is offered to me, but I’m willing to at least try to hear this woman out, even if it’s a scary thought.

I hope it’s a good sign that the woman didn’t have a free appointment for so long. Maybe that means she’s good.

Right now, I have a prescription from my doctor for a common anxiety medication that I can take as needed. I usually end up taking 1-2 pills over that same number of weeks, refilling every couple months. When I do, I have noticed that things usually feel more tolerable for me afterwards, whether it’s psychosomatic or actually because of the medication.

Still, taking a pill every so often and having the power to choose when I take them is much different than taking something on a consistent schedule.

I’m scared about the unknown. Scared about the side effects. Scared that it won’t be helpful. What does it mean if I take something and find it has no benefit?

Even if it does, even if it takes the edge off, as J thinks it might, it doesn’t take away the harsh words of my internal minions. Will anything do that? Will that narrative in my head ever stop projecting negativity at me?

It feels terrifying to be hopeful. I worry instead that taking medication will just simply sedate me, as L once stated. While it would be wonderful not to feel so deeply, living with everything stunted doesn’t much feel like living.

And then, there’s the part of me that feels like a failure. That feels like if I just worked harder, done the things that J has suggested or that I’ve read in my DBT book, I wouldn’t need this. I feel like I didn’t put in enough effort or that something is so seriously wrong with me. Of course, I don’t think anyone else taking meds is a failure. Just me. Always just me.

I hope to do some research on medicating those with BPD before I go to see this psychiatrist. That will require me to concentrate on reading for more than three minutes at a time though, which is tricky for me. All joking aside, I think it’s important to arm myself with questions to ask.

For any of you out there with BPD or a similar disorder who have in the past or are currently taking medication, what has your experience with it been? Do you feel it has been helpful? I’d love to hear from people who have actually been through this.

 

 

 

 

Guess What? Things Are Still Hard

I wish that I could say my lack of posting was because I’m out in the world enjoying a good time and living free of my demons, but that’s just not the case.

In fact, lately life seems even harder than usual. I feel like I’m constantly clawing my way through each day, just trying to survive it. I’ve been in the pits of a depressive cycle for about the last week, but even before that things felt challenging and lonely.

I’ve set a timer today, because I wanted to write but kept erasing my first sentence. The goal is to type for a half hour and just see what words fall out onto the page. Maybe this is something I could do more often if it’s been helpful.

To all my WP friends out there that I’ve continuously been neglecting, I first want to say I hope you are all well. I’m sorry, again, for not being able to maintain enough focus to read and comment on your blogs.

Lately, the thing that feels the best for me is the end of the night when I’m in my bed. I love curling up under my blankets and shutting the rest of the world away. Of course, that isn’t really living. It’s an escape. Which is really the problem, I’m constantly wishing to escape. Being around other people is very much a challenge.

The negative thought spiral is working overtime in my head and it has total control. I am not in the driver’s seat right now. I don’t think I have been for awhile. Am I functioning? Yes, in the sense that I’m going to work, seeing friends occasionally, and still trying to help my grandfather each Saturday. But it still very much feels like I’m in a state of maintenance, keeping everything stable instead of really doing anything that feels fulfilling for me.

The politics of work continue to suck. Like, they are super awful. People keep telling me that it would be like this no matter what school I worked at. And I know that’s true, because people seem to have this innate ability to stir up drama sometimes even without the intention to.

But also, I hate when people say that because it feels dismissive.

Still, I feel alone at work and constantly question who I can trust. I have one very close friend that I feel most comfortable with. There are maybe three others I feel like I’ve reached friend status with. And the others? Many of them are super nice, but I know that I wouldn’t put it past them to talk about me behind my back.

The colleague I share an office with is one of those people. She’s a nice person who means well and she’s very good at her job. But she’s also someone that can be very manipulative in the sense that she’s good at telling people what they want to hear. Sometimes she’ll say one thing around just me and then her opinion changes when someone else is around. Which means I can never trust if what she’s saying is really how she feels.

Worst of all, she will throw me under the bus to build herself up. She did just that a few weeks ago in front of my principal. The three of us were discussing something that she and I had already talked about the week before. Except the first time we talked about it, she didn’t share with me some important information that would have been super useful to know. Then she used it as a way to make me look naive in front of our principal.

I confronted her about it afterwards by saying I wish she would have told me those details when I brought the situation to her before. She said that she’d just forgotten to mention it. Even if I give her the benefit of the doubt about that, and she did forget, there would have been a way to feed me those same facts later in a way that didn’t involve our principal.

Rude.

Do I think she necessarily meant to hurt me? No. I just think she wanted to align herself with the principal. She wanted him to feel like they were on the same side, and I was collateral damage. She and I are supposed to be on the same team, and yet she sold me up the river just for a laugh with my principal. If I can’t trust her, who can I trust?

No one. The answer is no one.

Which sucks. Because I have to pretend like this didn’t damage our relationship. Even though it did. I’m doing a bad job of pretending too, because I have zero skill in diplomacy.

I hate my job sometimes. I really do. Even more though, I hate that this is so hard for me.

Therapy is going okay. L and I decided when I met with her last week that we will begin to move towards terminating our relationship. I think once L found out that I told J about her, she recognized that enough rebuilding had taken place with J. She said that for us to keep working together too frequently could interfere with my relationship with J. Which was fine, honestly, because I’m running out of things to talk about with L. I’ll see her once a month for the next two or three months, and that will be it. Unless I need her in the future.

With J, things going to go well and feel pretty okay. A noteworthy moment occurred yesterday, when I realized that she had hung the keychains I’d given her for Christmas in her office. Apparently, they’d been there since I gave them to her but I never noticed.

I’d actually seen them out of the corner of my eye the week before as I was leaving the office, but hadn’t gotten a good enough look to know for sure if they were the ones I’d given her. So after waiting all week to be able to check, I then forgot to look at the drawer when I came in, and ended up remembering closer to the end of our session. But of course, the drawer was not in my line of sight, so for me to see it I would have had to noticeably lean forward. And what if it wasn’t what I’d given her? I didn’t want to be too hopeful.

Eventually, I did get the courage to look and it was my keychains. Since it was obvious what I was doing I commented on it. “That’s the gift I gave you for Christmas,” I said with a smile.

She smiled back. “It is! I put it there so I can see it every day.”

It really made me feel very happy, especially because there are other items in her office that I definitely think were gifts from clients. It also made me feel like she genuinely liked what I’d given her.

But anyway.

I think have been scaring J a bit lately, because my anxiety is through the roof, my self-harm is worse than ever, and I’m visiting the dark depths of suicidal thinking more than anyone would like to. I’ve been really honest about it with her, even when it makes me feel dramatic and attention-seeking.

J’s been great about validating. Last night, she kept asking me to try to remove the judgement from the room, even if just for that hour. To try to just talk to her without all of those harsh critiques caveating my feelings. She promised me that she wasn’t judging me.

I really couldn’t do it, even though I wished I could. I felt so ashamed. I asked her how it was possible that she wasn’t judging me.

“Because I see you differently than you see yourself,” she said. I asked her what she saw. “I see how much pain you are in. I do.”

And let me tell you, even if it was just for a few minutes before the minions took over, I believed her. That was a nice change.

We discussed quite a bit of the safety plan yesterday, and I’m really trying, even though all I want to do is hurt myself. It’s hard not to have plans on a Friday night. It’s hard to feel like I’ll ever be worthy of everything better.

J told me last night that since none of the evidence is working right now to help me, maybe I could try believing that I’m worthy of happiness using blind faith. Believe that I’m a good person just because.

I’m trying it, because it’s as good of a suggestion as anything else at this point. A damn shot in the dark. I know it was a suggestion borne purely out of desperation, because when she was suggesting it, I half-laughed and said. “I’m worthy of happiness. J says so!”

And she shrugged. “Whatever works.” This coming from the same woman who wouldn’t write me that letter months ago because she didn’t want me to be too dependent on her.

Well, jokes on you, J. I’m using your judgement of my value to keep myself going right now.

But here’s the thing I keep questioning. Is there anything that can really truly help me in a long-term, actual life-changing kind of way? Will anything ever make it truly better? Will it make life feel more tolerable? Or are we going to keep slapping different band-aids on this mountain-sized problem called BPD through trial and error method until this disorder finally kills me?

The Gift Exchange

At Christmastime, we had a party for everyone in my department. There were maybe 15 of us shoved into a small conference room eating catered food and homemade desserts and chatting. I sat among my still fairly new-to-me coworkers and managed to join into the conversation. It felt satisfying to feel like I even remotely belonged somewhere.

Part of our little party included a gift exchange, which I had been nervous about prior to the whole affair. It felt like there was a lot riding on picking a gift that could be considered desirable to people a range of ages and personalities. What if they didn’t like it? What if they thought I was weird for my selection?

But I bought a gift and decided to participate anyway, mostly because I thought it would be more stressful not to. We each picked a number and got to choose from the gifts in succession. On your turn, you could steal someone else’s gift or choose opened a wrapped gift. There was a cap of a gift being stolen twice.

I was nervous about this too. I wanted to show the right amount of gratitude for whatever I got, because gifts can be tricky with me and I have a tendency to feel disappointed when I don’t get something I’d like. It felt scary to have all eyes on me as I stood, picked my gift, and unwrapped it. I’m not kidding, I really hate being the center of attention even when it’s the whole point. More eyes equates with more potential for judgment I guess.

Anyway, I picked a fairly low number, which meant there were lots of people after me with lots of chances for it to be stolen. On my turn, I picked a bag and hoped for the best. Inside was an essential oil diffuser. I was excited. In fact, I had just said to my mother the night before that I wanted a new and bigger one than I currently had.

My colleague was itching for the diffuser and told me jokingly not to get too attached. Her turn came just a minute later and although she eyed it up, she didn’t take it. I was thrilled. She actually chose the gift I had brought, a set of wine glasses with funny sayings, which she liked when it was open (sigh of relief for me!). But a couple turns later, another colleague swiped the glasses from her, and she responded by stealing the diffuser from me.

I was bummed, but tried to plaster a smile on my face and picked another present. The gift was a unique choice, perfect for the gift exchange, but it was something I already had so I wasn’t particularly elated. Another coworker eyed it up on her turn, but didn’t take it, even though I told her it was fine if she wanted it – which I then felt guilty for, because I didn’t want the person who brought the gift to think I didn’t like it or was ungrateful.

Then a minute later, someone else swiped my gift. I could either chose to open a third gift or take something else. Another of my colleagues nudged me and told me to steal back my diffuser. That would be two steals, so no one would be allowed to take it from me.

So I did!

Everyone laughed as the gifts were traded around; it was the point of the game of course! Yet as I hugged the bag with my gift close to my chest, I suddenly felt extremely bad. Why did I think that I deserved the gift more than she did? Just because I really wanted it? I felt selfish that I’d robbed her of something she’d wanted just to make myself happy.

Later in the day, I apologized to my coworker for taking it from her. I even offered her my old diffuser for her office. She laughed it off, told me it really wasn’t a big deal. Clearly, she didn’t have a second thought about it.

But I did. In fact, every time I looked at the diffuser I felt a rush of guilt again, like I’d stolen something. When I got home that night, I didn’t even take it out right away. I felt that bad about it. For the rest of the night, my mood was off.

That party was weeks ago now. I see this colleague multiple times a week. I’m literally using my diffuser right now as I type this (with the beautiful scent of lavender wafting in my direction). Yet sometimes when I think about it I still feel a little bit sad for reasons I can’t even articulate.

I wanted to post about this because I think it is a perfect example of what it means to be afflicted with BPD or any disorder that involves some level of anxiety or social interaction difficulties. I knew as I was in the moment of the intense emotions that my feelings didn’t fit the facts. I could look around and rationalize that things were fine and she absolutely wasn’t mad at me.

Yet the feelings and the negative thoughts persisted. Hard. For awhile. Anyone else would have already forgotten that interaction. Probably, my colleague has forgotten it! Still, when I see her, that’s the forefront of my mind and it requires strength not to stick that topic into our conversations. Anyone else wouldn’t think of themselves as selfish or awful just for following the rules of a game. In fact, my colleague had stolen it from me first! Of course, that doesn’t factor into my emotions for some reason.

I look around at people in my life and wonder what it might be like to be able to let things go with little to no thought about it. How do those things fall right out of their memory while they are branded into mine?

No wonder I’m so scatter-brained, the minions are too busy holding onto all this useless crap!

It’s a constant reminder in moments like this. To stay present with the thoughts and find evidence to refute them. To see if the intensity of my emotion is justified by what is actually happening. To breathe and remember that the feelings will pass. To stay engaged with the people around me when I want to withdraw.

Moments like this are the daily fight..

I See Myself In Them

Last week at work, I was sitting in my office attempting to be productive when I heard the teacher from across the hall enter my colleagues side of the room. She came over to talk about one of our third grade students, who has been having a hard time behaviorally as of late and the teacher is concerned. Or rather, she’s frustrated.

I mean she’s in our behavior disability room, so one would think this ebb and flow in behavior would be expected, but whatever.

Our office is separated by a foldable wall, so unless I fire up my noise machine I can pretty much hear everything that’s being said. Which, on that morning, was a real shame for me, considering they were talking about borderline personality disorder.

My colleague made mention that this third grade student has borderline traits. She talked a little bit about what that meant, using lovely words like “manipulative”, and painting a grim picture of the student’s future. Her tone wasn’t malicious. She was just stating her beliefs based on experience of working with borderline parents in the past.

If they were even diagnosed. Maybe she just assumed they were borderline, since we were also happy to casually lob a very significant term that carries ample stigma in the direction of a 9 year old who can’t even be diagnosed with the disorder because she is in fact only 9.

I’m sure she didn’t intend her information to come across as stigmatizing as it did. I’m sure no one else even realized how stigmatizing what she said was. You know, since the disorder is just a term for them, and not a reality.

When I heard this, all I could think of was this teacher going home and looking up BPD. She’d read the diagnostic criteria maybe, but likely what she’d end up seeing would be the media-targeted misrepresentation and gruesome statistics associated with my disordered world.

Which of course wouldn’t help her perception of that third grade girl.

Before I could think better of it, I jumped to my feet and walked over to insert myself into the conversation. I explained what BPD can feel like using less pejorative language, talking about the emotions and the experience of the person.

I don’t know why I even bothered, honestly. But I was frustrated. My colleague was making it seem like this was a purely genetic disorder that would swallow our student whole and I wanted the teacher to understand 1. The lens our student is probably seeing these situations through and 2. BPD is also incredibly environmental and not necessarily prescriptive of a terrible future.

Again, if the student even has that. She is 9, after all. Have I mentioned that?

“It all sounds very selfish,” the teacher said and I could have facepalmed right then and there. (When I told this to L, she scoffed. “Yes, it’s very selfish to be living in angst all the time as you try not to upset other people.” Thank you, L.)

I also happen to think it’s selfish to frame your student as a manipulative and devious young girl as a way to fit the narrative you’re already telling yourself instead of actually trying to see her as a sweet and clever kid who is separate from her ineffective behaviors that are rooted pretty logically in a difficult upbringing, but whatever.

I could go on, but I think you see the point.

I ended up going back to my side of the office in defeat. For a little while, I sat there listening to the conversation go on, paralyzed from doing anything else. Knowing what they were saying, as painful as it was, was better than not knowing. Or at least this is what I told myself.

What would they think if they knew I had BPD too? Would they be surprised? Would they think differently of me? Would it shut their mouths about this girl?

Of course, I did not and would never share my diagnosis with them. That’s a recipe for disaster. The point is, the ignorance of people, especially those in the mental health field, astounds me. You may remember I had a similar experience like this last year. I thought I’d escaped from that in this district, but here we are.

It’s always from people that I feel like should know better. People, like my colleague, who are smart and caring and empathetic. This woman knows so much about how to help people, and she’s so good with the damn kids. Still, she’s got misperceptions of what it means to exist in my world. Her skewed belief and very stereotypic description of BPD reminds me why so many of us keep quiet. This is what they think of us.

I just don’t know how it was helpful to use the term at all. I really don’t. It saddens me. We are a school, we are not a mental health facility. Talk about the behaviors. Talk about her symptoms. Treat her by addressing those things. Don’t assign her a label of a disorder that fits her more like an oversized mitten than a glove, obscuring her unique strengths and situation.

Ugh.

They went on for awhile longer, while I stewed on the other side of the room, about ready to jump out of my own skin. In a frenzy, I texted J and asked for advice. I was desperate and alone in my pain, I just needed an ally in the battle.

She texted back awhile later. “That’s so hard. Though hearing those terms are hurtful, it may be helpful to remind yourself, first, that they are not talking about you, and second, that you have been growing your awareness of your own feelings, thoughts, and actions for a long time now. This wouldn’t bother you at all if you didn’t have the awareness you do! Advocate for your students and just take of yourself. Take plenty of breaks today.”

It was a completely well thought out response that made me feel heard, accepted, and cared for. For all my doubts about J, she can really come through when I need her.

I returned to that text repeatedly throughout the day and have discussed it with her since. Because as painful as that experience was in isolation, it also drove home another series of doubts I’ve been dealing with.

I work with kids that have various needs. I am not a trained counselor, but I have ended up in a role that involves service delivery through lunch groups and individual counseling sessions. It’s a role I take very seriously, as I try to build me repertoire of interventions so that I can be effective in helping them.

The issue I keep coming back to is that I see a lot of myself in my students. I have a young boy who struggles so deeply with high emotionality that impacts his ability to make friends. There’s a young girl with similar issues, who can leave a situation so confused as to how it went wrong. I have another student who has a harsh internal narrative that ranks up with mine in terms of cruelty. His work refusal and difficulty socially is rooted in a belief he has that he is not good enough.

Sound familiar?

These kids come to me unable to identify their emotions, unable to select tools to regulate to a calm emotional state. They struggle to see other people’s perspectives. They struggle to resolve conflicts with friends. Some of them struggle even to build those friendships.

When I see them, I remember the sensitive kid I was and the sullen teenager I became, and it’s a future I don’t wish for any of them. I want so badly to make the difference for them that an adult in school could have made for me if given the opportunity. I feel the pressure of being good enough for them.

Then I question, how can I help these kids if I can’t even help myself? Worse, I wonder if my continued struggles despite years of hard work with an actual trained professional signify that the situation is in fact hopeless for them, since I haven’t grown either. These are the thoughts that send me into a tailspin of defeatedness and darkness.

J and I delved into this during my last session. She reminded me that me helping them and me helping me are separated by an important thing: objectivity. The lens through which we view own situations is muddied by our personal biases, whereas with my students I can see their problems from a clearer viewpoint.

Plus, I have an advantage of time. Kids at their age view most things in a concrete, egocentric sense; it’s hard for them to pick apart their struggle with a friend and see the underlying intentions of a peer or how their environment intercedes. I am older, and I see the abstract pieces the way they might not be able to without a little support.

This whole time, I’ve assumed my diagnoses were working against my ability to help these kids. And in some ways, it is. The anxiety that makes me freeze up in the moment, forgetting where I should go next in the conversation. The self-doubt that makes me question whether my response to their problem is the right one. The trouble with boundary-setting, which can impact my group management. The shame that tells me bad counselor, you need to step from them and instead you are a failure.

But.

Yes, there’s another side to it too, and it’s coming into view.

My diagnoses make me empathetic. Whereas I’ve noticed others are so quick to dismiss another student’s problems, to call them manipulative or dramatic or stubborn, I have an easier time reading their pain. I see the anxiety, inability to communicate, the sadness, the frustration, that’s fueling their challenging behavior. I see it clearly, even if I don’t know what to do with it in the moment.

For that reason, I always validate their experience. I think that’s so important as someone who often felt my feelings were dismissed because they didn’t fit how they should be in the situation. I will always say something to the tune of I know that’s frustrating. I understand you don’t want to do this. I see why you’d like it to be another way.

We may then have to talk about the fact that things won’t be the way they want, that they may still be hard, but I always try to give them a moment to know that I’ve truly seen their perspective. Empathy. It’s helpful not to feel alone. I am their ally.

I also want to believe while I do see some of myself in the struggles of these kids, I also also see  myself in their persistence and their silliness. It helps give me hope for how they can grow.

And while obviously the interventions that I’m learning as an adult won’t mirror what I teach them, and our situations are identical, perhaps there’s value in examining some of my own experiences as I try to relate to them in a way that’s meaningful.

For example, for my young boy with the friendship troubles, I can consider what I might have found it most helpful to hear as I’ve strived to build my own relationships. What skills have I needed to learn? Perhaps I can begin there.

Or for that third grade girl. What does she need most? She needs to see that others withstand her storm. She needs to learn how to cultivate her own healthy sense of connection with others while also enhancing her ability to be there for herself. She needs a new way to categorize her experiences in the world beyond just black or white.

For me, this has meant learning to tolerate the things I don’t like. It’s about identifying my emotion emotions. It has included systematically deconstructing my negative beliefs and trying to replace it with an accumulation of positive thoughts and supportive measures. This has meant learning how to look at things from a bigger picture, to play the role of detective finding evidence to refute my beliefs that a situation was all good or all bad.

Maybe these are things that could help our girl? This could be the time to advocate. Despite my bias, my view my have it’s own type of clarity here.

If I am going to chide this teacher and my colleague for talking about my student in a way that just disadvantages her by focusing too much on the same, perhaps I should also chide me for doing the same with myself because of my own diagnosis.

BPD in the work world. It’s a challenge, every damn day, but maybe it instills me with a type of empathy and ability to connect that could end up being the foundation of a good counselor with some time and patience.

Maybe.

Shame and Vulnerability

At the beginning of the school year, a continuing education magazine ended up in my mailbox at work. In it was a coupon to view an hour long talk of Brené Brown’s online for free. I cut it out and let it sit in my desk for almost two months. But it was about to expire, so I decided (finally) that today was the day to watch it.

I’ve heard the name Brené Brown before, mostly from other bloggers who talk about her books. Her work had always intrigued me, but I hadn’t delved into any of it until today. After I watched this first course, I ended up watching her two TED talks.

Might I say, she’s quite the game changer.

I have written repeatedly about this distinct feeling I have that I am fundamentally flawed, destined for nothing beyond being alone and a failure. I call it a core belief, because it is. That feeling dominates me on my darkest days, and it has for some time. I’ve always thought this feelings was a figment of my BPD, which I guess is kind of circular logic.

Turns out, I have a different monster to blame.

According to Brené Brown, that feeling I have? It’s shame. Shame is the experience that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It calls into question our ability to make connections. Shame disconnects us from the world.

Shame, I learned, is different from guilt. Guilt is a focus on behavior. It’s the recognition that “I did something bad.” Shame is a focus on self. It’s what is for me a very common feeling that “I am bad.” In her words, it drives the tirade of “I am not good enough” that has played like a broken record in my head for over a decade.

When Brené Brown described shame, she used the word gremlin to describe it, which is as close of a description as I could ever imagine to something I’ve been describing in my blog for months.

I see it now very clearly. The minions.

The minions in my head are operated by shame.  Every time I take a risk, reach out for help, try to make a connection, the voices that come to the surface do so in a way that remind me I am undeserving. Undeserving of success. Undeserving of friendship. Undeserving of compassion.

By far my favorite part of Brené’s talk was when she described her own experience with this phenomenon. She’d been devastated when her husband didn’t make a big deal of her birthday, when he knew birthdays were important to her.

The outcome of that story was that when she went to couples therapy a few days later and relayed her pain to her therapist, the therapist asked her if she’d asked him to make a big deal?

No, she hadn’t. But he knew what it meant to her, she reasoned to the therapist. If she asked, it wouldn’t have been as special, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

As she told her story, I nodded along with it, fully on her side.

Her therapist’s response? “Maybe you don’t think you’re worth it if you can’t ask him”

Well, fuck.

I often believe if I have to ask for something from someone, it diminishes the value of what I’ve asked for. If I have to ask for reassurance, it doesn’t count. If I have to ask for someone to show they care, to validate, it’s not worth it. It’s pathetic. I’m pathetic. 

There I sit and wait for validation that’s been offered spontaneously without me manipulating it because I assume the other person being willing to volunteer it is an indicator of my worth. I’m trying to use other’s actions to manufacture something that’s supposed to be generated from within myself.

I don’t believe in my own worth enough, so I can’t ask for validation or care or reassurance without a hell of a lot of discomfort following.

I think on some level I knew this, but to hear it described that way was very enlightening.

For example, I’m literally sitting in therapy half the time thinking that I’m not even worth her time or mine. I shouldn’t bother her with my stuff. That’s shame talking. Shame is inhibiting my ability to participate in therapy, to improve my life, because I don’t even feel like I can ask for help from a person whose entire job centers on helping people. I don’t feel like I’m worthy of support or capable of growth.

Maybe this is part of the reason I’m feeling so stuck?

As a follow up thought, I’m now wondering if the circle of shame is also what causes my sense of connection to slip away so quickly in someone’s absence. We might connect in the moment, but I know deep down that I’m unlovable and that I’m not worthy of their sustained connection, so I don’t trust it. I can’t imagine a universe in which I would be continuously deserving of someone’s love or care.

I also think this is really important because we’ve discussed in therapy lately that socialization needs to be a big priority. We’ve discussed that I generally feel empty right now and want to make some more meaningful connections.

The title of the first talk I watched was called Shame Shields. Brené stated that we deal with shame by using one of three shields: We move away, hiding our shame with secrets and withdrawing. We move towards by trying to please others as a way to squash shame. Or we move against shame by using anger to spark more shame in others.

I’m partial to one of the first two. Either burying myself in my shame through self-punishing methods or trying to build the other person up in a manner of getting them to overlook my shameful self. To overlook that I’m a bad friend or bad colleague or bad client.

If I want to make connections, real connections, hiding behind those shields is not going to be particularly useful for the cause.

So what will?

Brené went on to state that the way to combat shame is with vulnerability. In her research, she found that people who felt worthiness were not only willing to embrace vulnerability, they felt it necessary. They told the stories of themselves to the world, warts and all.

Shit. I wanted to stop listening right there. I like guarantees. I like being prepared and knowing exactly how things are going to work out. I thrive on it. Vulnerability is the exactly opposite of that. It’s flinging yourself into relationships and situations not knowing how it’s going to end. That sounds terrible. It sounds excruciating.

So yeah, I wanted to just turn it off and pretend that what she had to say was a falsehood. Tell me how to make connections without having to feel so damn exposed all the time.

But then she said that we humans have a tendency to numb vulnerability. We numb those painful feelings by eating and spending and whatever other vices we have.

Wow. I feel called out.

Considering I feel everything at the maximum level of intensity, of course I’ve been suppressing the negative feelings. They fucking suck.

Plus, you wouldn’t think that the answer to how to get in control of your life would be to accept that feeling out of control is necessary sometimes.

Brown argues that we can’t numb the pain without numbing the joy. I can’t suppress the imperfect parts of me without suppressing the good parts too. Part of me learning to interact with and build strong relationships with people will be discovering this “authentic” self of mine and communicating it freely to others instead of hiding behind those shields, hoping that they don’t see my shame.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of worthiness, love, belonging. It’s the birthplace of creativity and change.”

I want to feel worthy. I want to have a sense of belonging and love in my life. I still have these fleeting hopes of a life with a husband and kids, a set of close friends and me being a functional part of my community.

Which means that…maybe I’m going to have to learn to start taking more risks and investing in relationships with people while simultaneously tolerating and even respecting my imperfections?

There was another quote of hers that really stuck with me.“It’s seductive to stand outside the arena and think, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and perfect.”

We’ve always been working for this, but it’s almost like I’ve still been using therapy as a method of completely eliminating my imperfections. It hasn’t worked, no surprise. She’s been telling me since day 1 that you can’t be perfect, but I’m only ever half entertaining that notion. Part of me is always still pushing, because if I’m perfect, I don’t have to be vulnerable.

But no, I have to start making these changes now and practicing vulnerability in relationships, learning to tolerate the unknown. I can’t keep putting it off, waiting until I reach a certain threshold of “good” or “healed” before I feel ready. Because I’ll never feel ready.

Vulnerability means maybe we need to talk more about my shame and it’s origins? Naming the feeling as it occurs, dissecting the thoughts, identifying their triggers. Talking about that in the context of social interactions and normalizing the feelings.

I’ve already asked for repeated encouragement and assurance from her in helping me be more vulnerable, which may not be the point, but it seems like lately the second I try to say anything vulnerable, I end up diverting to safer topics before I can stop myself. Brené Brown did say those who don’t about shame have the most of it, and that’s certainly true here.

I wonder if maybe using this language will help support that journey. I wonder if I can truly let go and let myself embrace vulnerability

I’m afraid of this because being honest about the same means letting out more of the crazy and she’s seen more than enough of that.

I’m afraid of this, because I’m afraid of shame consuming me. Brené spoke about these shame conversations being like an exploration into some great swamplands. The purpose isn’t to go there and set up camp, it’s to explore, become more familiar with the territory, and then return home. Talking about shame is like quicksand and I’ve found once I enter that territory it’s hard to escape. You’ll find on our exploration that I’ve got a whole freaking village set up with the time I’ve spent there.

Shame has had a place in my life for so long now, what would it mean to give in to vulnerability? To let it exist? Would I see that increased connection that Brené Brown promised? Or would it just be too painful to tolerate?

I’m not sure which one is more terrifying.

 

The BPD in Me

How often do those of you with Borderline Personality Disorder (or any other disorder!) use the actual phrase in conversation with real people in your lives?

As often as I tackle the topic of BPD on my blog, I am generally not very open about it with those I interact with face-to-face. I’ve used the actual diagnosis in conversation with my parents and a few friends, but I discuss it seldom. As it passes my lips, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the bitterness of words that are so stigmatized in our society. I often cringe immediately once I’ve said it, because I know what other people believe about BPD and I fear judgment.

On the rare occasion I have discussed it, it was often because I was trying to explain its meaning in my life. I was trying to take that demonized diagnosis and paint a picture of how it has colored my thoughts, my feelings, my actions. I was trying to put it in perspective for another person who was bewildered by my extreme mood, trying to educate a friend, or trying to quell someone’s anger after a regretful action on my part.

The problem is, I struggle to articulate further what it means beyond reading the DSM criteria verbatim. When I first started blogging, I published a number of posts that reflected upon how each of the nine borderline personality disorder criteria applied to me. I did this during a time where I was still learning about which parts of my identity were mine alone and which parts perhaps that of my disorder. It was useful, but those posts were expansive, and I haven’t looked at them in many months.

I’m very much in a phase of making everything “comprehensive” right now. Organizing the information in a way that communicates it most effectively. This is what I want to do with my disorder. I want to to highlight where the BPD exists within me, so that the next time I try to explain it someone maybe I can do it in a way that really gives justice to my experience.

The BPD in me comes out through intense emotions that cycle up and down at the drop of a hat, from the highest of high to the lowest of low. I feel my feelings at the extreme, even the positive ones. When I feel well, I am excitable, motivated, and have hope for my future. I feel productive and proud of myself for the work that I am doing. I can look back at the past and feel empathy for myself and the mistakes I’ve made, and even begin towards acceptance.

Unfortunately, I am triggered easily, by very trivial matters that wouldn’t upset other people: a small mistake at work, a perceived slight from a friend, or anything that might disrupt my routine. When that happens, my world plummets. I’ve seen the feelings described this way “grief instead of sadness, humiliation instead of embarrassment, rage instead of annoyance and panic instead of nervousness.” That is the truth. I don’t get just a dose of the feeling, I get it all, turned up to full volume.

The BPD in me takes those emotions and projects them into my perceptions of myself and others. The same way my feelings are extreme, so are my thoughts. If I’m not careful, I will paint my whole world into black and white, a series of all or nothing.

Usually, I’m at the negative end of the extreme, because the voice in my head is so harsh and so cruel. It calls me names and refuses to give me any credit for my success. I’m unlovable. I’m a loser. I’m “less than” everyone else. I’m a failure. I deserve to be punished. The good things are external, specific, and unstable; I see them, but I assume they are a short-lived manifestation of luck. The negative is internal, global, and stable. That is, it’s my fault, it will be my fault for every situation, and this will never change. I treat myself worse than anyone could ever treat me.

Because of of the BPD in me, sometimes I’m not sure what is the truth and what is not. So I tend to stick to the negative assumptions, so that if they end up being true, I’m not disappointed.

I know this is a fallacy, but it feels safer.

My BPD causes me to have trouble trusting anyone. In truth, the only people I trust not to leave are my parents. Everyone else? I assume you are going to leave and I assume it’s because of me. My flaws. My wrongdoings. My insecurities. You need to remember that I’ve had many friendships end before you, and I played a large role in it. So when you’re trying to tell me things are fine, I’m remembering the pain of those losses instead of listening to you. I’m not hearing your reassurance, especially not at first. You may need to reassure me, over and over, that you aren’t going anywhere. Eventually, maybe it will stick.

Of course, I hate to ask you directly for your reassurance. If I have to ask, then how do I know you really wanted to give it and didn’t just do so out of obligation? No, the BPD in me can’t accept your validation of our relationship unless you offer it freely, so that I can be sure it’s genuine. The BPD in me expects you to be attuned to that need at all times, to magically know when I need your reassurance. The voice is there, telling me that if you cared, you’d know and you’d ask.

Even when you do reassure me, even when you do so wonderfully, I’ll think I’m a burden for needing your support. In general, the BPD in me makes me hate myself for having needs at all. I don’t know how to prioritize myself and set appropriate boundaries because I’m so busy worrying about everyone else liking me.

The thought of someone not liking me feels personal. It feels like a strike against me as a person. Nevermind the fact that no one in the world is universally liked, I’ll still push to break that barrier. I’ll eviscerate the emotional and physical boundaries I’ve set for myself to please as many as I can. No one has asked me to do this. It’s a choice I’ve made for myself to try to maintain my own sanity.

When people do overstep a boundary, I let them right on in. Even though I should kindly lock the door, tell them to come back later, I’m too worried about appearing selfish and instigating feelings of anger.

The BPD in me shines through my recurrent thoughts that I am a burden to others and doomed to ruin every relationship, platonic or romantic, that I enter. Because of this, I struggle to maintain a connection with others when we are not together. We could have a fabulous time one day, laughing and forming a tight connection, but the second you are out of my sight I will begin to doubt the relationship. I may fear you are upset or angry with me based on the way you respond to a text message.

This is more about me than it is about you. It’s not about negative opinions I have of you; it’s about the negative tirade that’s happening in my head. I’m trying to hold onto the sense of trust and connection between us, but sometimes it slips right through my fingers and gets lost in the chaos.

You might notice that I shy away from disagreement, and will say things like “it’s fine” or “it doesn’t matter” the second I start to feel opposition from you or any sort of tension and anger on your part. I will invalidate my own needs and values, stomp them into dust myself, if I think that’s what you want to hear.

Or, more likely, I’ll just stay quiet and say nothing at all. Because if I speak in opposition of what you believe, I’m worried you will think I’m criticizing your opinions. I’m worried you will be upset with me. I assume if we disagree, it will lead to conflict, and that conflict will be the end of our relationship.

The world is full of disagreements and that’s scary to me. Remember that thing I said about not knowing what’s the truth? Well, how can I fight for something if I’m not sure my truth is the real truth? Or worse, if there’s no right opinion? Navigating all of that is fiercely confusing. Being around groups of people exacerbates these fears, because there’s a greater chance of differing opinions. The BPD in me makes me want to hide away from it all. When you see me withdrawing, it’s usually because nothing feels like the right thing to say, everything too risky.

You might notice that I apologize, repeatedly, for very small infractions. It might be something small that barely even bothered you, and here I am holding onto it with numerous apologies even once you’ve told me it’s fine. I know it’s probably annoying but I literally cannot help myself. Even the smallest of mistakes feels fatal to me, so I do everything I can to compensate for it. Everything I can to keep you with me.

The BPD in me makes me a perfectionist. I want to do everything right, to say everything right, be everything right for everyone. If I do all that, then I am in control, and I need to feel in control of my life. The expectations I’ve set for myself are beyond what anyone could ever reach, and yet I tell myself I need to aim for it anyway. I tell myself if I just try hard enough, be good enough, I can do it.

I know that it makes me look a little frazzled sometimes, when I’m obsessing about getting it all right. I’m aware that it’s frustrating for others when I’m going on and on about everything on my plate. This is why. That voice in my head, telling me I have to handle it all perfectly. That voice in my head, telling me I’m a failure each time I don’t. I get stuck in that space, trying desperately to find ways to feel like I’ve fulfilled my expectations for myself .

The BPD in me makes me impulsive. My intense emotions can feel overwhelming and I’m not always so good at sitting with them, Usually, it’s because I feel wronged and am putting pressure on myself to communicate my pain with others.  I may make assumptions about what others are thinking. I may say or do something in a flurry of feelings based purely off of my misguided belief. In those moments, I’ve forgotten to lay situations out and look at the evidence against the emotions and assumptions. I’ve forgotten to consider the consequences of my actions.

BPD has told me to act now and get it all out before it’s too late, so I do. Unfortunately, that usually hurts someone. Afterwards,  I see all that much more clearly, and I regret it immensely. It’s a pattern I’m still digging my way out of. When I’m impulsive, it may hurt you. I’m sorry for that.

My impulsivity takes other forms. I’m notorious for eating more calories than one person needs and asking you not to judge me for it. Mozzarella sticks, pizza, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, candy. These are my weaknesses, because they are a comfort, at least in the moment, and I’m often looking to soothe sad feelings.

Then there’s the financial impulsively. I will buy something frivolous: new clothes, a figurine from Amazon, Packer’s tickets. I’ll tell myself I deserve it. I’ll tell myself I need it. These are rationales used to cover the unhealthiness of my decision. The truth is, I’m trying to fill a void, because the BPD in me makes me feel empty too.

I’m grieving over absences, things I wish I’d had that were never there and never will be. Accepting that loss feels dismissive. I yearn to find ways to compensate for the things I was missing, but how can I ever make up for what was lost? Living with that knowledge just spurs resentment at others.

I resent my parents for not teaching me the skills I needed to identify, verbalize, and regulate my emotions or to build and maintain appropriate relationships that include disagreement; for instead teaching me how to get angry, to yell, and to bury everything else. I resent my friends for having the skills that I don’t, for knowing how to cultivate friendships and not missing out on those positive experiences in high school and college. I resent people with confidence, people know who know who they are. I resent people who have the life experiences I want to have: travel, weddings, families.

I feel ashamed of my resentment, a difficulty tolerating that my parents could have tried their best but still didn’t give me enough of what I needed. I feel ashamed at the way I compare myself to others. Still, the feelings continue.

At the core of me, I feel like my life has no meaning, like I’m not connected intricately enough to anyone to make a difference. In a way, I lift right out. I wish that my relationship with my parents was more solid. I wish I had siblings. I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish I had a friendship group where I was the first pick to go out on holidays, birthdays, and other occasions, instead of being the afterthought or backup. I don’t have these things.

I know that it is on me to overcome the emptiness. It’s on me to take the steps to overcoming all of this. I’m trying to fight the BPD in me, I really am. I’m no longer sure if it’s part of me or another entity, but I know that is causes distress. So I’m trying. I have to repeat that as an attempt to convince myself because I don’t believe that I’m trying hard enough.

Again, I need the reassurance.

Taking care of myself requires herculean effort sometimes. The depression makes me dread waking up in the morning. It breeds hopelessness. The anxiety has me fretting over every interaction in my path. Sometimes, the most I can manage is to light a candle, take a shower, or read a book. Usually, I just sleep.

I feel all the negative feelings and it culminates in self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Sometimes even suicidal plans. I can’t remember that last time I went longer than a day or two without at least considering suicide. I truly believe this will be how I meet my end one day, even if it’s not today.

Then perfectionism swoops in and blasts me for not being better, working harder. The BPD in me reminds me I’ve learned the skills and should be able to use them more effectively by now. I should have some of the things I so desperately want, and I’m not making progress quickly enough. Then I’m back in the space of feeling fundamentally flawed again.

This is how I’ve been for a long time. I ask myself again and again why I’m like this, and this is what the research has told me: The emotions may be out of my control, but I cling to the negative judgements and the poor coping responses because it’s what I know. It seemingly serves me to protect me from being hurt, even though it really doesn’t. It’s seemingly comfortable because it’s familiar, even though it’s also miserable.

As soon as things start to get better, the BPD in me has a tendency to jump in and self-sabotage. The truth is, I never feel at ease. I am always on guard, ready for things to implode. I am expecting that they will, because they always have.

I wrote this elsewhere before:  My mind refuses to accept that the other shoe won’t drop, refuses to acknowledge that things might just maybe be verging on okay. It’s like driving around with my check engine light on constantly. I keep checking the engine only to discover that nothing is wrong. The car is running fine. But the light stays on just in case. Just in case something really is wrong with the engine and it’s about to blow.

This is the BPD in me. It’s something I work hard against daily. It’s something that sometimes gets the best of me. It’s something I hate and wish would go away, because it makes everything more difficult.

I wish that people could understand better the totality of my experience, but I can recognize why putting yourself in my shoes wouldn’t be easy or desirable. Maybe this piece at least did a fair job of explaining the unique combination of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are common to the borderline world.

I hope I can break free of the BPD in me, but for now, I’m just working on getting through.