Out Of My Life

I saw J on Friday afternoon. Spotted his distinctive bright green velvet jacket out of the corner of my eye whilst chatting to my hairdresser. First impressions were that he looked sick; sick as in manic, and clearly off his medication again. I watched him waving his arms around while he rocked back and forth on his heels and talked to a man I’d never met before, his head freshly shaved under his wide-brimmed black hat. I remember that hat; it’s the one he bought and wore when he was starting to get psychotic. You see, J always wore hats, and very rarely took them off; even indoors. I assumed it was a security thing.

I felt a little sad. J put me through a lot, but I did sort of hope that after the last time he was in hospital – he’s been sectioned six or seven times – he’d finally take some sort of control, or at least his family would step in for once and make sure he took the medication, or at least stayed away from the conspiracy-theorists and criminals he spent the majority of his time with. I’m still unconvinced by the bipolar diagnosis – J fits perfectly into the definition of a true narcissist – but it’s nothing to do with me now. Did I somehow think that my attempts at helping would change almost twenty years of psychotic episodes and violent outbursts? I suppose I hoped it would, but clearly it made no difference at all.


A few years ago, we were both in the same place, mentally. He was running around inventing grand schemes to make millions, and I was lying on the sofa, a joint in one hand and a bottle of morphine in the other. He was snorting experimental party drugs and screaming at me if I spoke too loud or accidentally knocked something over. I was hiding in the house, terrified to go outside. He left for days on end, with no clue as to where he was going, leaving me with no gas, electricity, and – sometimes – no door key. I slept in his car rather than have to be in the same bed as him, because he didn’t wash for weeks on end, not even brush his teeth. Once we moved into the house his parents bought, I believed things would change. I stopped the morphine and forced myself to get help from my GP. When J was sectioned after shaving all his hair off and taking a Bible into a pub – shouting about Islam and the EDL – I promised to help him. I tried. I failed.

I watched him, with his scruffy beard and the brown cord trousers he wore every day, and wondered why our lives took such dramatic turns on the day I left him. J is forty two now, and still stands in the street with his odd mannerisms, wearing poorly-matched charity shop clothes and, obviously, still not washing. He’s still in the cycle of taking medication then, when he feels it isn’t working anymore, refusing all medical help and ending up right back where he started.

Despite everything I feel about our time together, I do feel sorry for him. He never had the support of a family who were involved with his psychosis. They just pretended it didn’t happen, and never visited him in hospital; preferring to go on holiday to Venice instead. He has nobody to make sure he takes the medication or at least has somewhere safe to be when he loses it. His ‘friends’ are all ex-cons, patients from the various mental hospitals, or religious and conspiracy fanatics. He has never been given responsibility – his parents willingly throwing money at his wild schemes and places to live – and I don’t think anyone has ever suggested therapy.

Sadly… J just wasn’t a nice person. His bipolar or whatever had nothing to do with that. Mental illness or no, he’d still have been a dick. Which is why I stayed in that seat, surrounded by the smell of peroxide, and eventually looked away. He’s not part of my life anymore. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he ever entered my mind.



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  1. that was so strong of you to see him and not acknowledge him at all. Even my worst relationships, if I saw them out, I wouldn’t be able to help but speak just to see the look in their eyes to know whether I was missed, or if there was any guilt. But my worst relationships are the ones that I still seem to be obsessed with even now. have a great day sweety! ;-)


  2. When you said you tried to help and failed, this quote by Norman Maclean from a “River Runs Through It” ran through my mind, even though it’s not completely appropriate to your situation, it does suit most of our helpful interventions….
    “Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but
    what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”
    ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
    Good for you for setting healthy boundaries.


  3. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is realize that you ca’t help someone, that you can’t fix them. I’ve learned in my life the very hard way that you can’t save a person from their own choices and behaviour, from themselves really. It’s not a bad thing to admit that, because it releases that time and energy to something more productive. As difficult as it might have been, you did the right thing. *high five*


    • *high five back* You know, I expected to get a totally negative response to this post; I expect to be called a bitch for turning away from someone so unwell. So the support is a lot of help, and I really appreciate it. The day I stopped believing I could truly help him was a very freeing day for me and I don’t regret leaving at all. I just regret continuing to attempt helping when he never had any intention of taking any of it on board. I wasted a lot of hours on that man.


      • Don’t regret that. Learn from it. Understand that limit and learn to recognize when someone is fundamentally unable to be helped because of their unwillingness to change, to be part of any solution. Regret serves little purpose, I’ve found, because it holds us in the past. Learning brings us into the future.

        And I think we’ve all had some experience with a person we couldn’t help. The details vary, and your situation was more severe than some, but the experience is relatively universal.


  4. You say J wouldn’t have been a nice person even if he was totally psychosis free…and that is true, underneath the episodes and the meds and everything else it all comes down to who we really are and who we really want to be. At least I can’t think of any other explanation why some of us seek treatment and try to live a regular life and others don’t…family makes a big difference too…definitely for me it did, you can see a huge difference in the part of my life where my parents were in denial and anti-medication and the much shorter and more recent part where they have been supportive. But in the end it’s always been me who has saved me. Which is kind of depressing, but probably a good thing to know that I can rely on myself as well.


    • I think family was a major reason why J never got the help he needed. They simply weren’t interested in him or his life; considering they adopted him, they were so cold. Posh to the core and rich to the point of not knowing what to throw money at… I suppose they felt they had enough in life to keep them happy, and to hell with anything which might mess that up like a son who kept being arrested and hospitalised.

      I don’t think you saving you is depressing at all; I think that when it comes right down to it, we’re the only ones who can actually help ourselves. Relying on yourself… I’d say that’s a great thing to have. Hold onto it.


  5. You know, you’ve got the right attitude there. He’s not your problem. It’s right to feel sorry that he’s not ever going to get the help he needs, but it’s also even more right to recognise that you’re not the one to help him and that you’re living your own life and he’s not part of that anymore.



      • Not at all. I totally understand that – there are a couple of ex-boyfriends of mine that with hindsight, I should have never got involved in because their problems dragged me down and made “me” disappear; I became subhumed into their world and while they weren’t anywhere near like as bad as J, they were not healthy relationships – they were leaning on me and I couldn’t lean on them in return, and to me that’s not really a relationship as there’s supposed to be give and take. (You and S is completely different; you may feel like you’re leaning on him but from what you’ve said about him, he totally thinks the world of you and he’s receiving from you things you don’t even know you’re giving.)


  6. nicely written. i liked the way you described him and your relationship with great detail in short space. i read somewhere that borderlines make good writers because we have strong emotions. i don’t of myself as borderline anymore because i don’t do the cutting stuff, but i still have my issues and self-destructive attitudes and low self-esteem in general. anyway, i think you could write a book someday about your experiences, and many people would find it interesting.


    • Thanks, dear.

      I don’t think all borderlines cut; it’s just self-destruction in general. I’ve never thought of BPD’ers making better writers due to their condition… it’s an interesting thought. I know I certainly internalise a lot which then comes out in my writing.

      As for writing a book… thank you, so much. Perhaps one day.


      • i’ve had medical professionals take one look at the cuts on my arms, and flat out diagnose me as borderline. without conducting a complete interview. it used to make me so angry. borderlines seem to be considered as bad patients, who act out and all that. i’ve had therapists decline working with me because they thought i was too difficult a case and they didn’t have the skills to help me. lol. things are better for me now that i’ve stopped the cutting and most of my self-destructive behavior. but i’m on disability and not very self-reliant and haven’t worked in 4 years. except for writing, which is the best thing i’m doing with my life now. anyway. love your blog!


  7. Some people just can’t be helped, and we (the fixers even if we’re broken) aren’t ever going to stop trying to fix it/ them. It sucks, i know. I know seeing exes is weird, awkward and kind of heart wrenching, but I’m glad you’re okay. (:


  8. I’ve been attracted to your post for some time now by the picture that shows up with it. I love that picture. I understand that picture, all too well. Having said that, I’m glad I finally read your post & I’m glad I read your comments too. It has been enlightening. Blessings to you.


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