We came along this road

The journey back isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster. There are no explosions. No world-destroying earthquakes. Denzil Washington doesn’t turn up with a cartload of braille Bibles to point out the right way to go. There are no maps. No signs. You are entirely alone in the quiet, unassuming task of getting back on your feet, and the act is nothing spectacular. It doesn’t warrant any fanfares.

In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, there is a Dark Desert, with miles and miles of “brilliantly-lit black sand, under a black sky studded with cold bright stars, stretching away to distant mountains (where judgement awaits).” Thousands of souls pass each other, all walking the same desert, but they never see each other. They just keep walking towards what they hope will happen, locked in their own time.

For a while now, I have been, metaphorically and physically, taking that long walk back home.

walking-home

It began with Autumn arriving. Almost overnight, the leaves on the horse chestnut tree next door began to turn a bright, yellowy-orange, and the fir in the front garden began to turn blue in preparation for winter. Red berries briefly appeared on the bushes near the driveway before being eaten by fat woodpigeons, and the nights began smelling of leaves and bonfires; the sea air feeling chilly in the dead of night, a cat cuddling up to my dressing gown for warmth.

After a successful cortinsone injection into my ankle joint, walking has become much easier. This is the second one which has worked; and it’s worked miracles. Today, on the way to the back garden, I kicked through some leaves to entertain Stimpy. This time last year that wouldn’t have been even close to possible, and I’m very aware of the difference both cortisone and Methotrexate have made to my life.

I’m not running marathons; I still need the stick for balance and still struggle to pick things up. S still has to do most of the cooking, although I’m helping more and have cooked a few meals alone recently. I still have bad days. My health is currently compounded by Methotrexate doing the exact job it’s supposed to do; suppressing my immune system, reducing the white blood cells and calming the inflammatory response when my immune system attacks the joints.

That side of it has worked very well and I have far more movement in my fingers, neck and wrists than I did even a few months ago, however, lowered immunity means bacteria and infections have almost free reign and infection can be very difficult to treat. I’ve found this to be the case for a while now, with repeated infected cysts and tooth abcesses – which require constant antibiotics as the infection returns as soon as they’re stopped – as well as mouth ulcers, swollen gums, losing clumps of hair to the shower drain, and difficulty urinating.

It has increasingly been a case of weighing up the pros and cons of taking a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, but so far the ability to walk and go outside (the wheelchair was causing me too much anxiety; I left it at my mother’s house) and have that small shred of indpendence back is more than worth dealing with anything Methotrexate can throw at me.

methotrexate

So. Slowly, the road is leading me back. It’s a little scary to know how long I’ve felt… muffled by life. With hindsight I can see how the combination of moving in with S after living with my mother – albeit with brief breaks – in the same house since I was born, the psoriatic arthritis symptoms becoming chronic, difficulty getting diagnosed again, so many tests and hospital appointments I lost count, all built up to set a sequence of events in place which, really, I should have seen coming. I have never dealt well with crisis.

Moving away from my mother was emotional in a few ways; my time at the quiet suburban semi was often fraught, she and I fought like cats, refusing to budge on any subject until I became uncontrollable and set to destroying whatever I could get my hands on (my early teens) or saying the worst things I could possibly think of (my later teens) and the majority of the time I lived there was spent sequestered in my bedroom like a hermit, refusing to come out except to go to the bathroom, binge, or, in the later years, smoke. Sneaking down at night to use the phone to call whoever I happened to be dating at the time, trying to break into my mother’s bedroom – she installed locks – to find my confiscated medication.

I slept all day and tiptoed around like a ghost at night, flicking through Teletext at 3am, smoking out of the window, eating everything I could get my hands on and purging silently in the garden.

Despite our lack of relationship, I was nevertheless hugely reliant on my mother even if I didn’t believe it at the time. Without me knowing, she steered me through the important parts of life; albeit in a way which wasn’t always right, but she always tried. A few years ago my mother stopped speaking to my brother, C, after he never repaid her a large debt despite being able to, and yet she has never given up on me despite the years of carting me to psychiatrists, sitting in the ambulance with me on the way to A&E after overdoses, the shouting, the ignoring, sitting up all night waiting for me to come home as the police helicopter passes over me, never stopping.

She says the difference is that I try to fix things.

bamboozle

I am back in therapy. Somewhere along the road was a stumbling block and I was too busy enjoying my new-found freedom to notice before walking straight into it. Overnight, agoraphbia strolled back in and set up camp without so much as a greeting and, as a result, I am back to sending S on small errands I could do myself and staying indoors for days if no appointments are due; however, I’m adoring being outside once I get through the front door. This is new for me, and I’m not sure how to make myself go outside even though there’s nothing I want more than to put my boots on and crunch through the piles of fallen leaves down the street into the village.

Despite this, the future looks bright. Or brighter, at least. For the first time since I can remember, thoughts of a possible future are beginning to creep in. Reading has become pleasurable again after being used as a distraction from unwanted thoughts and crippling boredom for a long time. S and I bought a new mattress and we’re back to sleeping in the same bed every night; he kisses me in the morning while putting his shirt on for work and I wonder how I didn’t go crazy sleeping in the spare room without him, with just the cats for company. I suppose I did in a way.

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I had a meltdown. That’s why I’m back at therapy, really; my GP referred me after seeing the cuts I’d made on my right arm with a scalpel and hearing from my mother – I couldn’t find it in me to talk and needed somebody by my side – how I’d “spiralled downhill” since a difficult hospital appointment and overhearing an argument between S and a friend in which my so-called friend called me “lazy” for being unemployed; despite him having witnessed the illness at its worse on a number of occasions. There was more to it than that, but… I flipped. Took a scalpel and  harmed myself for the first time in, well, a long time, and certainly the first time since moving in with S. I have never self-harmed with him around, and when he came inside and saw me sitting on the bed with a bloody towel inexpertly wrapped around my arm and mascara everywhere, he panicked and we argued. We both said terrible things.

We made up and the relationship actually feels even better, but ever since that day I’ve been struggling in a number of ways. Friendships are becoming difficult again; S and I are invited to a close friend’s wedding on Monday and I’m terrified of having to cope with, well, other people. Even those I know. I worried I won’t pull it off. It’s a long time since I did anything truly social and since I stayed away from home for the night (we’re staying in a hotel) and I suspect I may be more nervous than the bride.

nerves

I don’t  know. I’m just trying to grab any shred of confidence and push along the road, because what’s the alternative? Another year in bed, on the sofa? Another year of sleeping through the day, seeing S only briefly in the hallway? That was never what I wanted, and nor was hiding inside my flat day after day, week after week, nervously emerging only for appointments and to see my mother once or twice a week.

It feels better to be on the road than off it.

The snappy biting black dog

Last night, I realised something. That in itself isn’t special – I realise a lot of things at night – but I finally understood why I’ve been so reluctant to update this, and it’s a reason which makes me angry. Angry, because I allowed myself to feel scared and worried. Angry because I lost the trust I spent years building – the trust which eventually led me to feeling able to write everything down in a blog. The trust which said, ‘I don’t care what people think’.

It turns out I did care, more than I could have known. It’s not lack of time or energy, it’s not a lack of something to write about. It’s simply… I still feel broken in ways by somebody sharing this blog when they know I write anonymously. When they surely knew that the subject matter was incredibly personal and if I’d wanted it shared I’d have done it myself. Every time I have sat down with the intention to write, I find myself becoming paranoid and shutting my laptop down.

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It all comes back to paranoia. Part of me wants to shake that person; scream in their face. However, I know it’s pointless because the damage has been done and they will never, ever understand how I think and feel, and clearly have no desire to. Personally, I would never share anybody’s mental health tale, but is that just me? Has social media made it so that everyone has a right to poke and pry? I always knew there was a chance somebody would find this blog but I assumed it would be a family member or friend; somebody I knew well, who already knew about my past and would understand at least some of how I communicate and respect that. I never suspected it’d be a virtual stranger who barely knows me, somebody who shouldn’t even have an interest in what I’m doing or saying. It feels horrible; every time I sit down to type there’s a squirmy black worm wrapping itself around my words and reminding me that I’ll never be safe. Since safety is what I’ve always craved and fought for… it’s difficult. I want to ignore it because it’s none of their business what I say, but my brain just doesn’t want to accept that.

I had almost forgotten. I decided to let this blog and the hours of work and difficult words go, and move on. However, maybe I don’t want to move on. Maybe this has always helped me, and I should be doing what’s best for myself regardless of fear.

ImagePart of my need to write regardless is down to an utterly wonderful woman – M – who has been my therapist for a while now. Last week we had our last session and a relapse prevention, and part of the prevention comes down to not letting things build up and explode in panic and irrational behaviour and my way of doing that has always been to put my feelings into words. M has been encouraging me to bring back helpful things into my life and discard the useless; to believe that I’m capable of doing so. When I was first referred, things were… difficult. I had developed full-blown agoraphobia. My flat had become my prison and I only went outside to attend hospital and GP appointments. Stepping out of the front door was the most terrifying thing I could possibly do, and it’s not that I didn’t try; I did, over and over, but just didn’t seem to have the ability. Agoraphobia is a frustrating condition, because there’s absolutely no logic to it. Logically, I knew nothing bad would happen. Logically, I knew that having fellow humans see me wasn’t the end of the world. I like logic and despise anything which is entirely illogical, and so I grew to despise myself and my inability to do normal things like buy a pint of milk. M helped me see that I was reacting to an impossible situation – physically I had been forced indoors by the arthritis, and that gave my brain plenty of time to create fear which didn’t actually exist, so when I became more mobile I found myself stuck between wanting to live a normal-ish life and wanting to hide from everything which seemed so horribly unbearable. It’s a silly thing, really. The world isn’t that scary. My street certainly isn’t. Yet for the longest time I couldn’t even look out of a window without feeling sick at the thought of stepping outside.

I’ve had agoraphobia in the past, but never at this level. I always managed to cope somehow before, putting my mental blinkers on and just barrelling through life as best I can. This time… this time, I found myself leaning against the front door after S had left for work, banging my head against the glass and wanting more than anything to be able to follow him into the world, yet totally unable to. Opening the door was like throwing myself off a high cliff; my body and mind simply said ‘nope’ and shut down.

ImageSlowly, over time, things have improved. I can now go outside alone, although walking to the shop down the road is still difficult and I’ll make excuses not to. I haven’t been near public transport since last Summer. One of the main goals I currently have is to get on a bus; such a simple thing, yet I still don’t feel brave enough. M has helped me understand why I find it so difficult, but it’s still frustrating. I live close to the railway and could go anywhere if I wanted, but all that seems so far away, so impossible. I spent an hour in the garden today, and that was pushing it.

Even now, as I write this, I’m trying to censor myself despite knowing it shouldn’t matter. After all, what’s the worst that can happen – people know I have a personality disorder? It’s not as though I’ve been murdering anyone, I haven’t done anything wrong. That’s what I keep trying to tell myself, but there is always that split part of me laughing at my paranoia and pushing my buttons. I suspect some people will never understand the concept of true paranoia and unrelenting fear and just how horrible it feels; otherwise they’d leave me be.

Heck. I doubt they’re even reading this. I know that in reality I’ll have been long forgotten. If someone were, would it really matter? What are they going to learn about me – that I have a mental illness? That’s nothing special, plenty of people do.

Still. Just typing ‘I still want to self-harm every day’ scares me. I want to be honest. With myself and with the readers who have been incredibly supportive. I know some of you are still looking in, and I appreciate the comments asking if I’m okay after such a long period of silence.

I owe myself that honesty, it’s just difficult untangling it from the snappy biting black dog.

 

“Well, I had no confidence in my ability to dent another human’s life”

Sometimes it’s impossible to even think of a title to a post, let alone which words to use. Being stoned doesn’t help, but it’s the only way I’ve been able to cope today; it was either dope, or masses of co-codamol and a bout of self-harm. I figured weed was the safest option.

Where to begin? It’s past 2am, and I’m still furious from the orthopaedics appointment this morning. As usual, nothing was achieved – my consultant wasn’t even there, and I saw a junior doctor instead, who couldn’t do anything except repeat what I’d already been told at my previous appointment – and I’m furious. I’ve had enough. This officially isn’t fair, and I’ve stood back and let this happen over and over because I haven’t wanted to cause any problems.

Well, fuck that. I’ve been in constant agonising pain for over eighteen months. I can’t walk properly and need a stick most of the time. Ice? I can’t leave the flat if it’s even slightly icy, because I have no balance. I can’t sleep. I can’t exercise. It’s all I can think about, and even strong painkillers (which I’m doing my best to avoid, for obvious reasons) only take the edge off slightly. I’d gladly take back the colocystitis pain over the constant needles and cramps in my foot.

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www.thechinchilla.com

I got home, and cried. Smoked a joint and ranted to myself for a while. Mentally calculated everything in the flat I could possibly hurt myself with. Considered making myself sick. Ate half an egg sandwich then threw it out. As it is, I haven’t eaten since; I’m hungry, but the gnawing feeling in my stomach is comforting. It’s… control.

I feel very out of control.

Since S came home from work, he’s been cheering me up immensely; so I’m coping okay. I haven’t taken any codeine, or hurt myself. Oh, the urge was there – I thought about it the whole taxi ride home – but you see… if I hurt myself, I hurt S too. It’s strange for me to feel that way, because in past relationships I’ve never truly accepted that my tendency to damage myself could have any effect on my boyfriend. It wasn’t that I was being selfish, it’s just… well, I had no confidence in my ability to dent another human’s life.

I don’t want to hurt S. He’s my world. I know I can’t care about myself, but I adore S. I assume that much is obvious from my past posts.

adore

danielleflanders.blogspot.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I go from here, and I believe my only option is to put in a formal complaint of medical negligence. As much as I’m tired of fights… I refuse to go on being treated this way. From the first time I saw a consultant for PCOS, right through to today, I’ve had sub-standard medical treatment and every single condition I have has been made worse by lack of action and misdiagnosis. I don’t think any of this is fair, and I’ve got to stand  up for myself at some point.

I confess

The drugs just aren’t doing it for me,
chemical sleep has lost its appeal
and I confess, I considered tonight
that it might be easier just not to feel.

To slip away, to take a bow,
Admit defeat and fall from my grace
and would you miss me, would you notice;
how long would it take to forget my face?

You forgot me once, you can do it again,
after all, this is only a release
breaking free from the prison we built together
in the hope, of maybe, one night of peace.

I confess, this is serious,
and if I had the strength I would leave tonight
I wish I was brave, that I wouldn’t miss you
that this time I could really give up the fight.

An empty bottle in front of me,
and pills I know I’ll never take
just further proof of my personal failings
evidence of the depression I could never shake.

Another scar to my collection,
a canvas I paint to remind me of you
to prove this reality was never a nightmare
but a waking hell, which I’m still going through.

I confess, it would be so easy,
Just a slip of the hand, just one step too far
but I’m not brave, I feel too afraid
to let myself go, to reopen these scars.

Yet I fantasise of how easy it would be,
for you to live your life without me there
I confess I think of setting you free
sometimes it’s the only way that ever seems fair.

If I left today, would you notice?
Would you realise, I did this for you?
If I slipped away past an exit sign,
would you see it as failure, or something I needed to do?

I try to remember every word you ever said,
the times you loved me, the times you were sweet
I confess, I want to forget
to make this easier for me to leave.

But how can I go when you hold me like that;
when you whisper so quietly only I can hear?
I confess, you keep me from dying,
from collapsing under the weight of my fears.

(c)

“Suicide” is a word I don’t like typing. It’s such a final solution, and the word itself makes me feel uncomfortable about the actions I’ve taken in the past. I may occasionally mention my flirts with causing my own death, but I try not to go into much detail because, in truth, I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed to know I even tried, mostly over such trivial things. New colleges and threats of break-ups. Arguments with my mother. They seem such petty reasons but back then I couldn’t judge whether an incident was serious or minor, and everything felt like a horrific attack on everything I am. The panic and psychosis (for there was psychosis; hallucinations and imagined conversations) drove me into a ball of fear and confusion and, somehow, I decided that suicide was the only logical answer to a world of horror. 

Last week, a man lay down on the train tracks between my house and Z’s, and killed himself. I heard the sirens and saw sketchy details appear on Facebook, but I still can’t let myself accept that somebody was in so much torment that they felt the only way to solve it was to climb over the barriers as traffic waited at the crossing, and wait for the train to hit; somebody just a couple of roads away from where I was sitting was going through something most people never – thankfully – have to experience.

I find myself wondering what he was like; why he felt he had to take that step, and do something so damn final. I wish I’d had the chance to know him, somehow.

Maybe I’m just like my father: of psychiatrists and psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a general term referring to therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client, patient, family, couple, or group. The problems addressed are psychological in nature and of no specific kind or degree, but rather depend on the specialty of the practitioner.

Psychotherapy aims to increase the individual’s sense of his/her own well-being. Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behavior change that are designed to improve the mental health of a client” – Wikipedia

woman-in-therapy-session

In my experience, most mental health centres and hospitals look the same. Red-brick buildings with NHS-standard signs directing patients to different departments, a row or two of (usually blue) chairs in a soulless waiting room, and old copies of Lancashire Life stacked on a low table if you’re lucky. Mazes of corridors and doors which are always kept locked. A buzzer or bell to gain entry or allow exit. Sometimes the paint on the walls differs, but it’s usually a palette of beige, pastel green or pastel yellow. “Calming” colours.

They inevitably make me think of the contents of an unwell baby’s nappy.

Our local mental health centre is, handily, in my town. It was recently refurbished and is now very different from the brief glimpses I got when I was being hauled – twice – to a private room on suicide watch in my teens. Back then the entrance led to a huge staircase which dominated the entire hallway of what used to be a beautiful old building but which has now been added to so much that it’s lost most of its character. Now, the staircase has been remodeled and everything’s been painted an off-white. There’s lots of glass and bright posters. It almost feels like a primary school, except you’re always aware that there are people upstairs, being watched 24 hours a day in case they hurt themselves.

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I sat with my mother, and waited. As my legal appointee, she has a right to accompany me to any appointments and while I usually try to wriggle out of it… sometimes I need her. My fear of going back into the mental health system after over a decade of let-downs and damage inevitably took over, and I know I wouldn’t have coped on my own. As it was, I had a small panic attack when I realised the psychiatrist was stuck in traffic and would be late; if I ever needed control, it’s when I’m about to open up my fucked-up heart to a complete stranger.

I was mildly surprised that the psychiatrist I saw was a young woman. I’ve become used to stuffy old men in shirt and tie, peering at me over their glasses and shrugging off all my concerns as being “down to my age”.

Another blue chair. Another desk, another patient file. I’ve done this so many times that I may as well just record what’s said and play it at the inevitable next appointment a few years later. You see, I have a problem sticking with things, and I’ve already spoken about how I find it almost impossible to be honest when faced with authority. When everything becomes too much I cave in and accept professional help, but I either pretend nothing’s wrong, or never go back. It’s as though I want to help myself, but the process is too frightening. Therapy means a loss of control and a need to be painfully honest; two things I find almost impossible to deal with.

I explained to the psychiatrist that I felt I was too old to still be dealing with all this, and that the mental health system has let me down a lot in the past. Picked at my jeans and stared at the wall as I detailed everything; the panic attacks, obsessions, paranoia, the total lack of self-esteem, the drugs, the painkiller addiction, the times in my teens when I relied on stolen bottles of gin to get me through the night, the self-harm, the bulimia. As I spoke, I realised that honesty was never going to come easy; although I was forcing the words out with all my strength, I still held back. However, my stumbling confessions were enough to confirm the diagnosis of BPD, and to earn me a referral for psychotherapy.

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Specifically, I’m on the 18-week waiting list for CAT Therapy.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is a form of psychological therapy initially developed in the United Kingdom by Anthony Ryle. This time-limited therapy was developed in the context of the UK’s National Health Service with the aim of providing effective and affordable psychological treatment which could be realistically provided in a resource constrained public health system. It is distinctive due to its intensive use of reformulation, its integration of cognitive and analytic practice and its collaborative nature, involving the patient very actively in their treatment.

The CAT practitioner aims to work with the patient to identify procedural sequences; chains of events, thoughts, emotions and motivations that explain how a target problem (for example self-harm) is established and maintained. In addition to the procedural sequence model, a second distinguishing feature of CAT is the use of reciprocal roles (RRs). These identify problems as occurring between people and not within the patient. RRs may be set up in early life and then be replayed in later life; for example someone who as a child felt neglected by parents perceived as abandoning might be vulnerable to feelings of abandonment in later life (or indeed neglect themselves).

It all sounds like much of a muchness, and initially I was reluctant to even consider it. Most experiences I read online leaned very much towards the negative, and the idea of writing a “goodbye” letter to my therapist is an odd one; I usually leave therapy sessions by simply walking out and never coming back.

However, I’ve given it a lot of consideration over the past few days. Knowing CAT is a “cheap” therapy is a concern; does that make me a snob? I’ve decided that a minimum of eighteen weeks is a long time to think it through, and I do have the safety net of being able to leave whenever I want; I’m not being forced into psychotherapy. It’s my choice, and I think at least giving it a go is the right decision.

I think.

I hope.

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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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This is yesterday

I’ve been trying to write a post for the past week or so, with no success. Many have been written in my head – as I’m tossing and turning in bed next to S, trying to sleep through another fibro flare – but when it comes to making myself sit down at the little Ikea table in the kitchen and get those thought out onto the screen, I just can’t do it. So much has changed recently, and my mind is in a constant state of bemused flux; after years – decades- of absolutely everything being out of my control it’s near-on impossible to get my head around it all. I expected it to be difficult, but I don’t think this level of confusion was anything predictable. The excitement of finally standing up on my own feet masked it all for a little while, but now that things are settling a little and a routine of sorts is being established, those little niggles and worries are seeping back. Minor issues. Small things. Nothing important, and nothing which can stop the happiness I still feel at finally being free, but enough to remind me that I can make as many changes as I want and fight as hard as I can but it’ll never be easy.

Which is why I’m taking yet another big step and – against every fiber of my being – have made an appointment to see a new psychiatrist, almost two years after my last very brief foray back into the mental health system.
Like everything, I did mean to write something about that decision last week, and it was briefly mentioned in reply to a couple of comments on my last post, but – again, like everything else – I’ve been putting it off. I’ve always been open of my mistrust surrounding the UK mental health system; past experience has taught me nothing to convince me it’s worth feeling otherwise. While going back on the staunchest of decisions and beliefs is a classic symptom of BPD, I’m pretty convinced that isn’t the case this time. I sat on the decision for months, considering the options available and finally coming to the conclusion that if I want this to last – this normality I’ve found – I can’t go it alone, and although S is beyond wonderful and living together has boosted my self-esteem a lot, there’s still only so much I can speak to him about. I trust him implicitly  but I’ve spent enough of my life being a burden on others and I’m constantly aware that I can’t spend our relationship putting pressure on S to care for me.

The appointment isn’t just about that, though. It’s about everything. Every last little thing since that day in early puberty when something snapped inside my mind.

Over the years, all the things I’ve experienced have fragmented into a thousand threads of craziness. All match yet… don’t quite fit together. The ends are frayed and loose, tangled around each other in a huge knot of confusion. For a long time it was easy to accept that would never change and I would spend my whole life walking around with voices in my head and the inability to stick with anything worthwhile without sabotaging it. Comfort – even terrifying comfort – can be hard to leave behind. I’ve made so many mistakes; walked away from hundreds of chances to better my life, slept around in the vain hope of finding somebody who took all the pain away, thrown pills down my throat just so I wouldn’t have to feel, denied myself even life’s very simplest pleasures for no discernible reason at all. I’ve walked away from treatment. Fought against everybody who tried to help, convinced they were all part of the problem and could never be the solution.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make; not in the least. I’ve been in and out of the mental health system – more in than out, especially in my teens – more times than I care to count, and so far there’s been very little positive gleaned from the experience. My mother, she calls it damage. She says she sees the damage years of questions and let-downs and tablets and therapy has caused; can see it in my face. In my eyes. In the way I react whenever the system is mentioned.

In truth, it scares me. The thought of sitting on yet another cheap NHS-issue chair opposite a psychiatrist who knows nothing of the more subtle details… it’s terrifying. I’ve come so far, and I’m painfully aware that the slightest thing can bring my world crashing down like it always has before. Despite appearances I’ve never been strong – not in the least – and yet another failure is something I simply can’t afford anymore. Life now… I know I keep saying it, but it’s changed and I confess to being tired of change. As wonderful as everything is living with S, I want to stay here for a while. In this place. Where everything makes sense for once. I don’t want to make big plans, or look too far into the future. I just want this. Now. Here. Safety.

Yet, change has to happen.

I’m stubborn; and I’m still not quite ready to give into the crazy.