So why don’t you slide

Earlier, S asked if I fancied a takeaway – curry from our favourite restaurant – and I agreed. Later he went out with a friend to buy some tools. They’re working on the basement beneath our flat, as technically that’s included in the rent. It’s currently filled with the last owner’s belongings; stacks and stacks of paintings, canvas, frames, lamps, chairs, books… Bob was a hoarder, and a painter. His work’s pretty good actually. Now he’s dead and his wife is in a nursing home (she went downhill very rapidly when he died), somebody has to clear it all. The basement is pretty big, taking up most of the floor space of the house, so it’s a mammoth task.

Anyway, while they were out I got a call from S. He asked me if I wanted to go to the restaurant with his mates instead of getting a takeaway.

Did I do the right thing when I said, “it’s okay, I’m not up to it. You can go along anyway”?

I wasn’t lying. I’m truly not up to it. I tried going for a short walk earlier, and by the time I returned, I was struggling to breathe and sweating like crazy. It’s been so long since I’ve had ‘proper’ exercise. That walk used to take me five minutes. Today, it took thirty.

Straight away S’s tone changed; the first time I’ve ever really heard it do so. He said, “oh. Okay. But we were going to have a takeaway.”

I shrugged him off, “it’s fine, I’m really, really not up to it. We can do it another time”.

He agreed, but… he didn’t sound happy. It’s only when I ended the call that I began to feel that familiar twinge of panic.

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Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god you fucking idiot oh god oh god.

I have never once done something (to my knowledge, anyway) to make S angry or disappointed. Unlike my relationship with O, I’ve managed to keep my irrational emotions in check; at least until I’m alone. I’m so determined not to fuck this up. I know it’s classic BPD to say, “oh, I love him so much, he’s my everything, I want to be with him forever” but all that’s got me in the past is a string of disastrous relationships and far too much bitterness. I almost have my head around that now, and the medication certainly helps me keep the more extreme aspects of my behavior in check. So while I know that these feeling might be BPD tricking me and that mental illness has a habit of making me cling to somebody like fuck… I want to believe this is real. I’m pretty sure I know, deep down, I love S with all my heart; how could I not? He’s the only man who has never condescended me. Who has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. The only man who I’ve felt comfortable enough with to let the mask slip.

I know I love him.

And now I’m scared.

scared-woman

So what did I do? I went straight for the Tramadol.

I’m now sitting at the kitchen table, trying and failing to calm myself with a joint. The urge to crawl into bed and hide under the duvet is overwhelming.

In which I didn’t die

When you have a fear over something – be it general anxiety, agoraphobia, spiders or – in my case – being sick –   you’re often given the advice “remember, you won’t die”.

On the surface it’s good advice, and very true. CBT (or my experience of it) focused on that a lot, and I can imagine most people who don’t experience such extreme fear see it as perfectly sensible advice which can really help. So I don’t begrudge those who tell me this; apart from those in the psychiatric profession, who should know better, because it’s all well and good saying “it won’t kill you”, but anyone living with fear knows that there’s absolutely nothing rational about the red-hot tangle of despair and terror.

But, I didn’t die. I stopped being sick once the anti-emetics kicked in, and I’ve been able to eat without feeling nauseous. I’m still scared of the idea of it starting again, and there’s a huge bruise on my  hand from the IV, but I didn’t die. I’m okay.

Somehow, it always ends up okay. I don’t know how.

moving on

And so, to hospital

I hate hospitals.

Really, really hate them.

Since childhood, I’ve been paraded around them for various reasons; hooked up to so many machines I hear the beep in my dreams. I’ve been sick on so many hospital floors, and each and every single hospital visit – be it a planned appointment or a trip to A&E – has left me a nervous wreck.

I’m not ashamed to admit this: I just can’t cope with it. The smell. The horrible lights. The feeling of vulnerability and the worry you’ll never sleep properly again. The strange faces and unpredictable noises… and the memories of the times I’ve been really, really ill. Vomiting up black stuff all over the polished A&E floor, tripping on morphine and hooked up to every piece of machinery in the world. Happily floating on a cloud of prescribed IV opiates, not giving the slightest damn about anything but going to sleep and not waking up again.

So yes.

I really hate hospitals.

hanging-iv-bag

But I also hate being sick. Admitting to a phobia of vomiting sounds weak somehow; it’s hardly the worst thing to happen to a person, but it utterly terrifies me. I suspect it stems from years of bulimia; controlled vomiting is entirely different to actual sickness, and it’s the lack of control I can’t cope with. Vomiting for days on end and being unable to take my meds, wash, dress myself, eat, drink, or even sleep in the same bed as S… it all took its toll, and I ended up in A&E this morning, wired up to a drip and covered in heart monitor pads.

I admit, it wasn’t the plan.

I had an appointment with my GP this morning – to check up on my medications, which need to be raised or changed, how the pain is going… I didn’t make it, because I was busy concentrating on not vomiting in the taxi on the way to hospital.

If you’ve never been scared of being sick, you can’t imagine just how terrifying it is. Every movement, every sound, every thought even… if you feel nauseous, anything can and will set you off, and it’s utterly horrible when it happens. I’ve never vomited as an adult and not had a panic attack during. It’s not a pretty situation.

So I lay there. Sat up. Lay down again. Went to the toilet a million times. Couldn’t get comfy. The only time I’ve been on my own in A&E before is when I took an overdose – the latest in a line of them in my later teens – and my mother flat-out refused to accompany me. I resented her at the time, but I understand why now. I tried to quell the panic by browsing the internet on my phone, reading boring BBC news stories about absolutely nothing, trying to pretend everything’s okay.

18a_Cannula

Also, there was an added fear. One I haven’t mentioned to anyone, not even the doctor; I figured anything abnormal would show in the blood and heart tests. A few days ago I was in so much pain – agonising, screaming pain – that I caved, and begged everyone I know to find me some ‘proper’ painkillers. Z turned up with some 30mg co-codamol and, later, a strip of tramocet. Now, I’ve spoken about my little opiate problem before, but recently it’s been pretty dormant. I haven’t felt the need to self-medicate or block things out with tiny white pills.

However, fever doesn’t work well when you’re trying to be sensible. I accidentally took far too many painkillers; I don’t know how or why I did it, just that I took more than three times the recommended dose. It was in no way a suicide attempt, because I wasn’t truly aware of what I was doing. I just wanted the pain to stop, so I could finally get some sleep.

Then, days and nights of vomiting. Sweating; that horrible chemical-tinged sweat you get with opiates. Hallucinations and awful nightmares.

So that’s how I found myself curled up on a hard bed in A&E, trying to explain my ridiculous medical history, clutching an emesis basin and hating everything hospitals are.

I just can’t cope with them.

They scare me.

 

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I always find someone to bruise and leave behind: the personality of BPD

Trying to access my blog has been a nightmare today; it’s almost as if I’m being punished for putting off writing. I sit in the living room or the kitchen, staring at my laptop and willing the words to be there, but they just aren’t – I don’t particularly want to think about the negative side of things at the moment – and not being able to log in to my account all day has driven me half-crazy. Finally, I have the words… and the fear that I will never get my blog back. Similar issues have been had across WordPress according to their support forums, and my natural cynicism makes me wonder if they’ll ever fix it, or if I’ll be in blog limbo for the rest of my life, unable to download my content or ever update. It’s frustrating.

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I’m going to write anyway, because I received email notification of a comment from one of my old posts – Borderline Personality Disorder – and although I try not to put too much pressure on myself to respond to negativity, it was too tempting to reply, rather than let it go.

I can’t stand people with BPD!!!!!!!!, My soon to be ex-wife has ruined or should I say destroyed everything i built for the last 21 years. I’m retired military, she put me into 25k debt, sold my retirement gift (1972 Plymouth duster), took money from me, calls, texts, emails, hoovers, threatens, plays the victim, has filed PFA’S on me to hide her lies, told a judge she tried to commit suicide 3 times, told that crap to my youngest daughter, lied about 6 surgeries, accused me of killing the dogs when she had possession of the dogs, sold items of mine, harassed county attorney, hide my cell and car keys, twice told my daughter she doesn’t want to be her mom, called and emailed my family members about our sex live, hates my other kids, took all parental rights away from me with her son while we were leaving together, called child protective services on me for child abuse, lied about receiving taxes (my taxes 3.5k) and spent it all, gave her 4k for my daughter’s ortho and she never paid it, keeps getting into my retirement account and changing crap (it’s a federal crime!), every three days would be arguments until i apologized or caved……and so much more……..you people with BPD SHOULD ONLY BE ALOUD TO MARRY EACH OTHER!!!!!! The total destructiveness you bring into peoples/family/loved ones lives is just criminal!!!! Now I have to pick up the pieces; my daughter cuts herself, oldest daughter is on depression meds, claim bankruptcy, and start all over again age the age of 44. You BPD!!!! should never be allowed to date/marry/have kids……I feel so sorry and sick to my heart for all of your next victims…..GOD help them so they won’t be put through this hell I’m going through.

Wow. Where to begin.

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It’s difficult not to take such opinions personally when somebody says that the likes of myself and many of my readers should never be able to date, marry, or have children. Attempting not to take such comments to heart is nigh-on impossible. Those like myself already live with ridiculously low self-confidence and constant snipes from society and the media, without being told these things in shouty capital letters on a blog which – I like to think, judging by many comments I’ve received – has become a safe place to discuss issues like BPD and mental illness without being judged. Although I know there’s no way to stop such comments – and I wouldn’t want to, as everyone is entitled to an opinion – I don’t like to respond to them, as it makes me feel like a victim. The very act of explaining why I behave the way I do gives more ammunition, and I’m not always sure it’s possible to change somebody’s mind on mental illness when their beliefs are so set in stone.

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I will be the first to say that living with someone suffering from BPD must be a nightmare if they are experiencing the fully-fledged out-of-control side of BPD. If they refuse to take their medication, won’t or can’t accept help, or have attempted to get help but the system and/or friends and family have let them down, as is so common with borderline personality disorder. I will never deny that my past behaviour has been controlling and has caused pain to those around me; to lie about that would be to lie about my entire life from puberty onwards.

However, that controlling behaviour has never been out of malice, or acted out with any intent to hurt or cause distress. Describing the BPD mind is an impossible task; but, like everyone else, we have our own distinct personalities. Although outwardly we may appear incredibly bitter and resentful, hell-bent on causing mayhem wherever we go without a single thought for the consequences, inwardly can be an entirely different story. Inside there could be somebody who simply has no control over their actions, and who is lashing out because it’s the only way they know how. It may not be the right way, but it’s their way, and it’s the only thing they have at that moment because their entire being is consumed by all-enveloping fear.

BPD is not a free license to abuse people; when I was first diagnosed, I noticed a lot of resentment around the internet regarding relationships with BPD’ers, and their ability to destroy everything within sight; emotions, furniture, families, friendships, affairs… to the non-BPD partner it seems that everything their boyfriend/girlfriend touches turns to shit. That they get off on controlling others, and seek attention at every available opportunity.

This is a myth.

I have never, ever enjoyed having BPD. Since my symptoms started in puberty, my life has been an uphill struggle to find some form of sane balance. To connect with others without clinging to them. To know who I am, and why I think the way I do. It’s been hard; heartbreaking at times, and a nightmare for everybody around me. I’ve sprinted through life like a whirlwind, grabbing onto others for safety and leaving chaos in my wake. I’ve said and done terrible things. Threatened to harm myself when I had no intention. Lied. Cheated. Stolen. Caused undeniable pain and, yes, abused others.

Of this, I will never be proud.

However, I have made every effort to change, and gain control over the tangle of self-abuse and denial. Comments like the one I quoted above, and many I have read online, seem to suggest that abandoning those with BPD is the only solution. When I was first diagnosed, my mother bought Stop Walking On Eggshells by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. After she read it, her suggestion to me was that I didn’t look at the book, as there were heavy hints that walking away from somebody suffering from BPD is an easy option. I haven’t read the book myself, so she may have been exaggerating, but it wouldn’t surprise me. BPD is a mental illness like any other, but it seems acceptable to cast suffers off with “they’re a cruel person” or “it’s not worth it”. Or, as above, suggest that we should never marry or even date.

I have worked hard to get this far. I’m twenty-eight in ten days, and there was a time when reaching eighteen seemed impossible. Admittedly, I find it difficult to recognise any achievement, but I know my life is massively different to how it used to be. Medication has the anxiety and panic attacks mostly under control, and stops me going too far into depression. Without the anxiety, I don’t overreact, I don’t convince myself that everybody I love despises me. I don’t believe that the world would be a better place if I were dead.

So, people with BPD can change. They can grasp some control, if they work at it. We’re not hopeless cases.

I called this post “the personality of BPD”, because the comment above angered me. It totally disregarded any of his partner’s personality, and attributed all her behaviour to borderline personality disorder. Just like anybody else, people with BPD can be cruel, regardless of their condition. They can also be kind, although sometimes the kindness is muffled under sheer panic. Somebody living with BPD is not the whole of the condition; they’re still the person you know, with all that person’s foibles, beliefs, experiences and knowledge. BPD may be a massive part of their lives, but it doesn’t entirely consume; they’re in there somewhere and not everything they say or do is dictated by BPD.

I don’t know if this post makes much sense; my head is everywhere right now. There’s a lot to write about.

 

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Only words

You think that these are only words,
a shameless outpouring you don’t understand,
you thought that this meant nothing to me;
those feelings I offered you in my hands.

The truth should never have been so clear
in black and white, in printed ink,
you should have known what I was saying
but you didn’t see, you didn’t think
that my words could be my only way;
that just perhaps, I’m as confused as you,
you didn’t see that I could also be hurt -
that I could be feeling the same pain as you.

You held the world in your hands,
but they were just words, you just couldn’t see
that those pieces of paper, now thrown away
were everything I had of me.

(c)

Once, I showed O some of the poems I had written about all the problems we were going through together. He’d read my poetry before and praised it, and I felt it was my only way of reaching out with any real honesty. When we sat face-to-face, glaring and spitting out cheap insults, I couldn’t speak properly. Couldn’t get the words out, because I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. 

I said things I didn’t mean instead. Anything to hide what I was really thinking. I messed up so many times, saying the wrong thing entirely rather than the truth. Things which only made O shout and sulk more. 

I showed him my poetry. He knew I was falling apart.  

He read it, shrugged, said he didn’t understand it and threw the piece of paper on the floor. It lay there, half under his bed, for months. All I wanted was for him to see the truth. He refused to see. 

Posted for dVerse Poets, with the prompt:

 It’s not fall yet, but the promise of autumn seems to tease us from around the nearest corner, and offer us something better to anticipate.

The very real but difficult to express level of delight this caused me made me stop for a moment to think about the nature of amorphous concepts like anticipation, hope, despair and so forth, and how, like so much of poetry, they express something enormous that is neither physically measurable nor concrete, that only exists in the mind and spirit.

We have science for facts and process, philosophy, metaphysics and religion for the questions of existence, but for defining and expressing our own most elusive internal constructs of emotion, we only have art, poetry and music.

That’s the coded message behind the most analytic and dry poem as well as the most saccharine pop song, conveyed with varying degrees of skill and effectiveness: that we have only these tools to try to communicate a vast reservoir of fluid intangibles we all experience but have difficulty defining or expressing any other way.

As for me? I’m doing okay. Yesterday afternoon was spent tidying up in preparation for moving; today was supposed to be an exercise in extreme cleaning (my furniture is filthy from hundreds of spilled coffees and months of dust) but yet again, fibro strikes.

Food… I’m trying. I ate a small bowl of chips last night with some bread, and a pack of bread sticks. Nothing eaten so far today, but there’s time. I’m incredibly grateful for the messages of support I’ve received over the past few weeks; I know I haven’t always responded to comments but that doesn’t mean I don’t read them and take the words on board. It’s just difficult to reply when everything is so up in the air.

They must have taken my marbles away

I often question if I’m doing the right thing by putting my personal life on show for anybody to read. As a teenager I wrote pages and pages in my diaries and wondered how it would feel if other people read my most secret and shameful thoughts. I approached the idea with a cavalier “that’ll teach them to mess with me” attitude, almost hoping that somebody would find my diaries so the world could know how unjust it had been.

Of course, my diaries eventually got read; it’s not long since I found one in my mother’s room, tucked away in a chest of drawers. The teenage romance of justice suddenly felt very shallow indeed; my life was exposed, and I didn’t like it. I’d been writing Halfway Between for a year before that happened, and I admit it did bring a new fear of being judged. Knowing my mother read that diary served as a reminder that real people are following what I’m saying.

I think writing a personal blog can have a lot of negatives, especially when it comes to subjects you’ve laid yourself bare on. My mother doesn’t understand why anybody would speak about themselves on the internet, and I’m still not quite sure why I do. Yes, it helps me rationalise emotions and let off dangerous steam, but not everybody will understand that. Not everyone who reads my posts will know how I’m really feeling at that moment, and nobody knows my entire history. In each post I write there’s an opportunity to criticise me, and sometimes the fear of that keeps me awake at night.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I can’t sit in an ivory tower and demand exclusion from all criticism because it inevitably upsets me. I’m not a special little snowflake by any means, and I can’t expect the world to surround me in bubble wrap until it feels safe. By putting my world out there, I leave myself open to everything, and I really do question why I do that. I know it helps, but I can’t help but wonder just what would happen if somebody really pushed me.

You see, I’m far from invincible. A lot of my more extreme behaviours are under control but I still have the underlying fear of being abandoned, and to my addled mind criticism = abandonment. As far as I’ve come, that fear still triggers that fight-or-flight response, and I’m not yet strong enough to stop the self-destructive thoughts which smack me in the face whenever I feel trapped in a corner by harsh words. I may not always act on those thoughts anymore – swapping knives and bulimia for writing this blog – but just knowing I still think them is a hard thing to deal with. Sometimes, the concern that I’ll act on them grows into a massive ball of fear, and one tiny strand of all those worries is the fear that I’ll be judged harshly on my words or actions.

You see, I don’t do this for attention. Nobody ever claimed I did, but I do know some bloggers consider personal diaries to be self-indulgent affirmation for weak souls.

Personally, I don’t see how writing a personal blog can ever be anything other than self-indulgent, and I don’t understand why that necessarily needs to be a bad thing; especially if it’s beneficial. Through reading blogs similar to my own, I’ve come to the comforting realisation that I’m not as fucked-up as I perceived myself to be. Most importantly, I’ve learned I’m not alone, and that’s something everybody needs to feel now and then.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been overracting to minor events, turning them into a mess of anxiety and confusion and lashing out verbally in an attempt to protect my corner. So when I received criscism on Facebook this evening regarding a post I wrote on depression, it pushed me into a place I didn’t feel at all safe in. Despite all my efforts to reign in the urge to prove myself, I freaked. My first thought was to retreat here and smack the keyboard a little until the panic subsides, but then I questioned myself.

Do people really need to hear this?

I’ve become convinced that my blog is taking up time and space which could go to a much better cause. I get these feelings sometimes – a favourite hobby is beating myself down – but right now I honestly think I’m pushing it by assuming my feelings mean anything outside my own, fuddled head.

Now, my worry is that this post will be taken as a cry for attention and a bit of sympathy; an ego-boost for the damaged soul. Perhaps deep down it is. Perhaps it’s all that keeps me afloat sometimes. All I know is I don’t want to undo the progress I’ve made by becoming wary of putting a step wrong every time I post, and there’s only so many times I can apologise for slights only I can see.

A while ago, a blogger commented that my posts were too negative. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t to this day; is there a programme I should be following? Should I gee up my posts and pretend everything’s hunky-dory because things are getting a little morbid?

I’d be lying if I did that and lying has never brought me anything but trouble, so I avoid it these days.

The reality of writing a diary for everybody to see is far from the romanticised revenge of years ago. I don’t want revenge anymore. I don’t care for sympathy, or sit comfortably with platitudes. Empathy, yes. False best-wishes? No, that’s not for me. I no longer feel 100% secure in what I write and the possible consequences my words could have. Despite appearences, I loathe attention, and writing this blog has certainly attracted plenty of that. It’s a hard thing for me to deal with; something entirely new which I was never prepared for. Like compliments, I shy away from attention because the reality of accepting either is something I just can’t process. I may have a big voice and type thousands of words about myself, but that doesn’t mean I feel comfortable doing it.

All I need’s to be with you.

I admit, the letter has been playing on my mind more often than I’d like it to. I promised myself I wouldn’t allow panic to creep in, and so far I’ve managed to hold it back quite well, but this morning I woke at 6am after a dream about O – my fifth in a row – and the silence in the house has made room for me to think. I hate thinking. Thinking nearly always leads to bad things.

I nearly didn’t post anything about the fraud officer visiting on Tuesday; I questioned if perhaps the whole privacy breach and subsequent passing around of my blog link could have something to do with the visit, and if so… should I speak about it on here? Could I inadvertently make things worse for myself? Then I realised that nothing I could say could change everything I’ve written in the past; I’ve documented the appointments and the pain and the medications. I’ve been brutally honest. I’ve expressed my hatred of claiming benefits. I’ve spoken about how I’ve tried to work, but have always had to leave voluntary jobs because of illness. So my blog isn’t exactly a hotbead of fraudulant activity.

Two things saved me from damaging myself this weekend. I wasn’t being dramatic in my last post; as I wrote, I was filled with sickness from panicking; that pre-panic attack bile rising into my throat and choking everything I try to say. As I typed, I was considering how easy it would be to dismantle a Venus Spa razor (in hindsight, it would have been impossible) and just how much food I could shovel into myself before I achieved carbohydrate calm. I just typed, and let it flow, and let the fear and anger out. Usually I censor myself a little – going back to correct mis-spellings and perhaps removing a few hundred swear words – but this time, I just wanted some sort of outlet. Some safety net which wasn’t harmful to me.

It didn’t work, but you know what did? The lovely, supportive comments which poured in. From those I’ve chatted with before, and from total strangers to my blog. Not a single cruel or judgemental thing was said. The advice calmed me. The kind words… well, I cried. I cried buckets. Even though I don’t know any of you, you still pulled around me and helped when I needed it. I don’t think replying to all the comments will achieve much – I’m trying to let it all go now and forget until tomorrow – but I do want to say, from the very bottom of my heart… thank you. When real life let me down, a group of almost-strangers (and total strangers) on the internet helped. Considering I’ve seen little kindness online… it means a lot. I hope everyone who commented knows that, and knows they helped.

The second thing to save me was S. On Saturday, my mother decided that she had to clean and tidy every inch of our house for the fraud officer. This is nothing new; I accept our house is a little… eccentric, perhaps. Books piled in corners. Books spilling off shelves. Books tied in bundles, waiting to go to charity. Books everywhere. However, I don’t see how tidying will help anything. Surely it’d give an unrealistic view of what our real lives are like? After all, the house is usually an ungodly mess. It’s not like we’re stockpiling dodgy porn or laundering money; we read a lot of books, and books take up space. It’s hardly a crime to love reading.

As a result, she expected me to help. Of course; I live here too. I did, however, feel slightly resentful that she’s the one freaking out willingly, when the appointment is concerning my benefits. I’m doing my best to stay calm, but watching her rush around, pulling chairs out and panicking over dirty dishes… it doesn’t help. I feel guilty. It’s my fault everything is such a mess;  I just can’t cope with the housework. I try – things have slipped since I’ve had ‘flu, but I do my best to keep my bedroom tidy and I sometimes offer to clean the bathroom – but I just can’t do it. The piles of books are heavy, and as soon as they’re cleared away, we get them out again anyway. Washing the dishes inevitably ends up in my mother informing me that I “can’t wash up properly” and she re-does the whole thing, so I gave up trying years ago.

I tidied away my underwear and informed my mother that, actually, I would really like to visit S because I hadn’t seen him at all last weekend and we hardly spent any real time together at Z’s party. Earlier, she’d said I needed to help her get the house sorted – an impossible task – so I’d lost all hope of seeing S until next weekend, but she surprised me by saying it was okay so long as I was back early on Sunday. I bit my tongue at the urge to shout, “I’M TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD!” and accepted the rare gift.

S, as always, was wonderful. He knows I adore his white and lilac shirt, and he wore it for me. Gave me a big kiss – despite the coldsore – and a hug, and showed me all the ingredients he’d bought to cook me a roast dinner. I nearly cried at the kindness of it all. We sat in the garden and smoked while I told him my fears; that I’d lose my benefits – my only source of income – and would end up homeless, or I’ll be taken off incapacity and/or lose the high care component. That I’ll be forced to attend a jobcentre course to shoehorn me back into work. I’ve never worked; I can’t go back to something I never did, and what happens if an appointment with a specialist falls smack bang in the middle of the course? If you miss a day, you get all money stripped from you. I told him all this and tried not to cry – I’ve only cried in front of S twice: once when we were watching fireworks and they reminded me of my stepdad, and once when I was just tired and grumpy and needed a hug and some sympathy from somebody who wouldn’t judge me. I never set out to hide tears from S… I just don’t think they’d help when he’s so reliable with giving good advice and support.

As promised, S cooked me a roast. He’d bought me cheese and leek sausages, and made extra potatoes because I haven’t been eating properly for a couple of weeks. As he cooked, (I peeled the potatoes and crushed the garlic) we talked about the flat. The builders have started; the kitchen and bathroom need refitting, and after that it’ll need redecorating, so the plan is to move in around a month to two months. I can cope with that. At least now I have a realistic time frame to tell the benefits office I’ll be moving out of my mother’s house. I just hope it all works out. So much has gone wrong for me, and I’m almost scared to believe that perhaps – just maybe – something I long for will come true.

We spent the weekend playing Boggle and Worms: Armageddon. Bought a takeaway and watched 15 Storeys High on Sunday night. S kissed and held me and constantly made me pinch myself; how did I – a high-school dropout from a shitty seaside town – end up with such a perfect boyfriend?

We sat together on the field near his house – him lying on the ground with my cardigan under his head, me sitting up with my legs tucked around his – and I felt safe again.

I wish S was here now.

“They don’t know what’s going on inside your head — the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and guilt”

I almost lost it today.

Stupidly, I decided not to take my medication this morning. I was in a rush to get to my ultrasound appointment, and planned to take it when I got home. A few hours don’t tend to make much difference usually. However, this time I couldn’t control certain emotions and fears, and I really didn’t like it. Although I undoubtedly have BPD, most of the time it’s controlled by medication; I still panic, but can rationalise it if somebody doesn’t contact me (usually) and I’m not so prone to running away from stressful situations. I’ve been proud of the progress I’ve made in keeping the irrational fear behind a wall in my head.

Today though… I don’t know if it’s the heat, or having to get up early, or just sheer chance, but I freaked out. I got ready fine, put my makeup on, straightened my hair, put a dress on – signs I’m doing okay – but as soon as I got in the taxi, anxiety started building.

Paranoia. Panic attack. Psychosis. I don’t know what you’d call it. I become convinced everyone is staring at me and judging me unkindly; the logical side of me knows it’s impossible for a whole room of people to all hate me on sight, but logic means little when everything seems to be exploding and falling apart.

In the hospital waiting room, I decided a well-to-do woman sitting opposite me was staring at my face. Perhaps my hair or piercings. Maybe my choice of clothing; it all runs together. I started to panic and babbled at my mother about how much I hate hospitals, about the shabby-looking equipment and sullen staff. Anything to distract myself from the posh woman’s supposed glare. Looking back, I don’t even know if she was really looking at me. I could have made the whole thing up.

The building panic wasn’t helped by an incredibly rude sonographer. As paranoid as I was feeling, even I can’t pretend that he didn’t say a single word to me; wouldn’t even make eye contact. How difficult is it to say hello? I lay on the narrow bed while he totally ignored me, and I strained to make out the images on the ultrasound. I think I could make out the tendon; although what’s normal isn’t exactly something I can recognise.

I don’t even know where the results are going. I did ask – since I’m under both the care of my GP and Dr. B for the same issue – but I can’t remember the answer for the life of me. My head was so muddled at this point that I just wanted to get out, have a cigarette and cry.

I couldn’t go home and calm down though. My mother came with me to the appointment so we could shop in Tesco afterwards; so I had at least two more hours of panic to deal with. She spends forever looking at packages and going back and forth, and it’s not rare for me to kick off in the shop, but I’ve been doing well at controlling the rage recently. I just grit my teeth and force myself to get on with it.

In Tesco, I did well until the morning rush started. Suddenly the whole place was filled with hassled parents and middle-aged men fighting over barbeques, shoving their trolleys into the backs of my legs and blocking whole aisles with armfuls of children; all running around and screaming.

I quickly lost my mother somewhere – again, a regular occurence – and became panicked about not being able to carry what I’d already bought. Worried I’d never find her. I decided to distract myself by looking at contract mobiles (I’m considering getting a HTC Desire), and soon started thinking about the huge elephant which constantly stomps around our house; my financial situation.

In short, although I’m 27 years old, my benefits still get paid into my mother’s bank account. Why? I can only believe she’s using it to control me. She’s never allowed me to take control of my own money, although I’ve begged her many times.

When I finally found her in the vegetable aisle, I asked her if she’s going to “sort my money out”. I’ve been asking for over a decade, and got the same answer as usual: “Soon. Just let me get some stuff sorted first”.

An hour’s worth of panic and worry flew up into my mouth, and I started stammering at her. My throat tightened up and started to hurt. I wanted to cry. Scream. Punch somebody. I had to walk away feigning interest in the make-up section before I sat myself down on the floor and refused to budge; it wouldn’t be the first time. I wanted to run away and hide from all the strangers staring at me and judging my faults.

I’ve had two panic attacks recently; I don’t like to think it could be the start of something.

Bizarrely, I was saved from full-blown meltdown by bumping into S outside Tesco. Leaving to get a taxi home coincided with his lunch break at the hospital, and I couldn’t have felt more relieved. I calmed down immediately.

He’s like my own personal diazepam.

When the first cup of coffee tastes like washing up she knows she’s losing it

At 6am this morning, I sat by my bedroom window, smoking a joint and listening to the geese calling on the marshland while the sun peeked through the black clouds in the sky, and I considered yesterday’s appointment with Mr B.

All Monday night, I was smoking furiously. Drinking cup after cup of strong coffee. Anything to stop myself tipping over a precarious emotional edge. Got out of bed and tidied. Went downstairs and ate half a sultana and cherry cake. Sat and stared at the muted TV screen, watching the PS3 graphics float around. By 7am the room was filled with a haze of smoke and incense, and the floor was littered with empty mugs and Rizlas. Sleep would have been impossible, so I didn’t even try.

I tied my hair up and clipped my fringe back, put on a small amount of makeup and got dressed. I almost didn’t bother making any effort at all – I felt so out of sorts – but S wanted to meet me outside the hospital before the appointment and I’ve been absent enough recently without also looking like a total horror. As usual, my mother insisted on coming with me; she has to get involved in these things. She also has an obsession with being early for every appointment and meeting, whereas I prefer to leave it to the last minute so I have time to gather my thoughts, so my anxiety levels were peaking nicely by the time we got to the hospital. S brought his coffee outside and we chatted a little about the appointment, and when he left to go back to the lab he gave me a big hug and a kiss and told me it’d all be fine.

Our hospital is like a rabbit warren, but years of medical emergencies and referrals mean I know the place like the back of my hand. However, my mother always gets convinced she’ll get lost and panics, setting me off. By the time I reached the rhematology waiting room I was a simmering mass of fear and anger, glaring at the other patients and snapping every time she tried to speak to me. An old man a few rows across from us was reading a paperback and looking around him, and I found his movements unbearable. Just as something was going to snap and I flew at him for daring to breathe, Dr B came out of his office and called me in. We chatted about the fibromyalgia diagnosis for a while; whether I still experience any symptoms and how much the pain affects me. He opened my medical records and read for a while, commenting that I spent a lot of time in the hospital. I’d been admitted eight times or so when my gallbladder got infected, and before that I’d seen gynaecologists, ear specialists, doctors for IBS, had tests for Cushing’s and hormone malfunctions, and had cameras shoved into places I don’t want to think about. My life has revolved around hospitals and clinics and, sitting in Dr B’s office, I couldn’t help wondering if this was just yet another specialist with no answers.

However, answers were provided for once. Dr B moved my limbs around, pulling and pushing on my arms and legs and poking me my shoulders and back. He made me lie down and tried to bend my legs towards my chest. Put his hand on my knee and gently bent the joint. The pain was unbearable, but I gritted my teeth and got on with it, determined to take the advice to not hide the discomfort.

I sat back down, and Dr B explained what he’d found. I have osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, hands, wrists and possibly feet and neck/spine. The pain I’ve been experiencing is from the joints degenerating, especially in my knees. The fibromyalgia diagnosis isn’t in question; I still have it, and I’ve had blood taken to test for RA. I need an ultrasound on my left foot, possibly cortisone injections, and he’s hoping to start me on Lyrica if my GP’s surgery agrees to providing such an expensive drug. I have to see my GP in a couple of weeks to discuss any findings from the blood tests and work on a plan to manage the arthritis.

It may seem strange that I thanked Dr B for the news. Even stranger that I actually smiled. I just didn’t know how to react; I nodded and listened to his advice, but all I could hear was “there’s a physical reason why you’re in pain”. I have something which can be seen on a scan, felt under a hand… I have something nobody can deny, and that’s a feeling like no other after years of misty diagnoses and judgement.

Worry. Worry worry worry.

Found an unpublished draft when I was going though old posts. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago:

I fell asleep last night worrying that my lack of nervous breakdown over not seeing S over the weekend means I’ve fallen out of love with him. Ignoring the obvious signs that I’m utterly batshit-crazy over the guy, I decided that because I wasn’t weeping into my pillow, it must mean that somehow, overnight, my love for him has died.

Sometimes it’s like another part of myself takes over, pokes me and says, “Hey! You know the way you weren’t worrying about anything? Now you are!”. I set myself up to get upset for no reason at all, and it’s frustrating beyond belief when I start imagining that my relationship with S is doomed, because there’s very little sense or reason to any of it.

I’m not as bad as I was with O; not by a long way. Still, sometimes I do worry that I may be without S one day, or that he might in some way betray me. The thought crushes me, and I don’t seem able to entirely banish that worry from the back of my mind.

I sometimes even worry that I’m not worrying enough. Or worry because I’m worried; so something must be wrong. I’m not half as anxious as I used to be (thanks to cipralex and beta-blockers) but the fear still lurks in the background at all times. It’s still there, just muffled by chemicals.

I also worry that worrying is normal, and I’m treating something natural like it’s the enemy. I know my flight vs. fight response is broken, and I panic rather than make a useful move whenever something stressful happens. My reaction to panic is to calm myself with anything which will numb my feelings, which continues the whole addiction cycle. Is that a normal reaction? There’s no doubt that worry and fear has caused a lot of problems in my life, making me react dangerously to situations and get myself into emotional states I can’t control, and I can’t quite see that as being the way everyone else reacts.

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me to just stop worrying, and live in the present. I’ve tried – god knows I’ve tried – but all I can often see is a gaping chasm where my future should be, a dark place full of uncertainty, and it scares me. I can’t help but think about it, and thinking naturally leads to panicking.

A few years ago, I was a permanent nervous wreck. Speaking to strangers was out of the question, and I spent most of my time squashed up against a wall, trying to avoid conversation in case I said something stupid. Speaking on the telephone simply didn’t happen, and I never answered the door or knocked on someone else’s. Somebody else would have to pay for me in shops, because dealing with the whole process of speaking to staff and counting money out sent me into a panic attack. I couldn’t function.

I’m a million miles away from that now. I still struggle with worrying and panic attacks, but the medication has them mostly under some sort of control. If I miss a few doses, I’m back to hovering over the phone in case someone texts me and refusing to communicate.

It’s strange to know that, under this chemical mask, I’m still a nervous wreck incapable of reacting rationally to small problems. I’ve been this way for so long that I can’t ever see a time when that anxiety will be gone for good. It’s a part of who I am; the panic has become ingrained into my personality.