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Sometimes, I Can’t Help But Feel This Way

Living with borderline personality disorder can be a huge challenge for all involved.

This is her story:

Sometimes I wish what I had was as real and tangible as alcoholism or drug addiction: there is something real to battle and win. Instead I have this intangible illness – this personality disorder – that affects everything I do. I can never be cured of Borderline Personality Disorder, that hurts everyone, and I just have to deal with it until it eventually kills me.

I wonder how many people who have Borderline Personality Disorder die of old age? I know it isn’t impossible, but I wonder what the odds are. Even if they don’t commit suicide, borderline habits can lead to early demise.

Don’t worry: I don’t intend to turn to alcohol. I can’t mix it with my medication. And I won’t turn to drug addiction. I rattle enough as it is, with my daily meds. No, those aren’t the only reasons. My illness hurts those around me enough as it is – why purposely add to that?

All I’m saying is that “15 years sober” sounds better than “15 years off my rocker.”

High School Reflections 10 Years Later

High school was not good to me.

I was the girl people didn’t want to be around. I was too “weird” for the goth crew, but too “goth” for everyone else. I had the dyed black hair and dark clothing, but I stuck to mostly satin, lace, and velvet skirts and long dresses. I was “Romanti-Goth” where the rest of the goth crew was “Manson-Goth,” and the rest of the school wasn’t goth at all.

The Columbine Massacre had just happened and was fresh on everyone’s mind. In my school, your average goth was popular enough to get through, and they had each other. I, on the other hand, was alone.

I vividly remember the day someone spit at my feet while I was walking through the halls. Yeah, it was like that.

It didn’t help that I didn’t have the high school mentality. I wouldn’t say I was above it, I just wasn’t into it. I was a mentally-ill loner who enjoyed role-play games and people older than me. I wasn’t into dating around, parties, or the latest group of girly giggles.

Even my boyfriend was eight years older. My husband, who was my next boyfriend, is six years older. Your average teenager repulsed me, so high school was hell. It wasn’t something I enjoyed; it was something I struggled to survive.

My mental health issues became obvious in high school. Most of that time is a blur, but I do remember going and seeing my guidance counselor, looking for a push in the right direction.

Luckily, a licensed therapist was in the school every Thursday for cases like mine. I only saw her seven times at school before I had to start therapy at her at her office, but that was enough to know she was the one. She was the one I could spill my guts to, the one who would be there for me. She gave me her cell phone number in case of emergencies. She saw in me what no one else at the time saw – I was special and in need of help.

At the time, diagnoses like “bipolar” were thrown around, but they never fit. The only thing she knew for sure was that I was getting lost inside my head, and our sessions were my only chance to get help.

There was one other key figure in my high school survival. We’ll call her Mrs. M.

She was my 9th grade English teacher (and then later, 10th grade Journalism 1 and 12th grade Brit Lit). Right away, we clicked. She was the type of teacher to give me a passing grade when I accidentally answered the quiz question with the key event in Chapter 4 and not Chapter 3, when the whole point of the quiz was to determine whether I’d read up to Chapter 3 or not. I had, in fact, finished the book. Yeah, I was one of those English students. And she was one of those teachers. She spent the four years of my high school life doing her damnedest to make sure I made it through and survived. She was always there for me, no matter the problem.

When I was in 9th grade, I made my first website – it was filled with my dark, depressive poetry and even darker thoughts. My mom somehow came across it and had a cow. She immediately sent the link to Mrs. M for her thoughts on it. In true Mrs. M fashion, she informed me and my mom that it was very well-written. How much I needed help was obvious without the site. Why did it surprise my mom? I’ll always wonder.

Shortly after starting my blog, I went back to the school to visit Mrs. M. I wanted to fill her in on my life and my family. I was also excited to say the words that burst out of me. “I’m writing!” I knew she, of all people, would be proud of me.

I knew she, of all people, would look past the darker times and see the beauty of my written word.

Ask The Band: Getting Lost is Easy, But How Do You Get Back?

I spent the last many years married to a woman with fairly severe (clinically diagnosed) Borderline Personality Disorder. I could very easily fill an entire book writing about what that experience was like, so it’s hard to know how to distill it. Here are some things I know-

-Years of being subjected to masterfully performed gaslighting has left me very unsure of all my own judgements and perceptions of reality.
-Years of being degraded and emasculated when I wanted to discuss my thoughts/feelings, being told that it is unattractive for a man to show “weakness” to his wife, has left me uncertain of when its ok to be vulnerable with other people.
-Years of walking on eggshells, trying so hard to do and say everything just right, but knowing that no matter how well I did, the next blow-up/emotional attack was always coming.. has left me perpetually anxious, and steeped so heavily in learned helplessness that I often struggle to even feel that I have any control over what happens in my life. I never used to be that way at all.
-Years of having all my contributions and accomplishments minimized or forgotten, and all my imperfections magnified and carefully score-carded, has left me with close to zero sense of self-efficacy.
-Years of living with someone who is intimacy avoidant and uninterested in sex, but being told the whole time that her disinterest is caused by my shortcomings—because I didn’t last long enough in bed, or because I lasted too long in bed (yes, both of those), or because of the stress I was causing her by me not making us enough money (even when I was bringing in over six figures a year), or because I was paying too much attention to (suffocating) her, or because I was not paying enough attention to (neglecting) her—has left my self confidence so damaged that I almost fear being intimate with someone again.
Probably the worst part, though? During the early “idealization” phase of the relationship, she was incredibly jealous and protective of my attention (which, at the time, I foolishly believed was just because she loved me so much) that, focusing all of my time and attention on her needs, I greatly distanced myself from any male friends I was close to, and completely cut off contact with all of my female friends. So once she flipped me into the devaluation phase, I was left with a partner who had zero interest in me, other than what I could fix or provide for her, and only weak remnants of friendships remained. I was effectively isolated to the point that I spent most of my free time just sitting alone in my basement, wishing things were different.
Isolation is definitely one of my biggest hurdles right now. I’d really like to make some new friends, particularly some female friends since I lost all but one or two, but no clue where to even start. I just really miss having more meaningful conversations and connections with people.
Another hurdle is figuring out how to integrate “what I know to be true” with “what I feel to be true.” For example, I can write down a list of all of my business/financial accomplishments and objectively say I’ve been successful in that area. I know this to be true. But I do not feel that this is true. I can find endless examples of things I’ve done or experiences I’ve had that show most of the negative feelings that I mentioned above are illogical or don’t line up with reality. But again, I still don’t feel that.
I would love any thoughts or advice from anyone who has gone through something similar. What worked? What DIDN’T work? How did you re-connect with yourself? How did you re-connect with other people and build some new meaningful friendships/relationships?

My Father – His Struggles with Depression and Personality Disorders

A long, long time ago, my father invented the Internet. As in, he worked for network solutions and laid down cables that later became what we know today as the Internet. A few years later, that company was bought out and the higher-ups were given a fat check and let go. That’s the official story, anyway. It didn’t really go down like that, but I’m not allowed to tell that truth. I’m sketchy on the details myself, anyway.

So, my father started plans to begin his own business. While he waited to get things set up, he did day-trading of stocks online. One thing led to another, it took a while, and then his father died. Suddenly, the money he had saved was getting his mom (who later remarried) out of financial trouble. With his money for starting the business gone, he continued to do day trading and living off of his retirement fund.

As the years went by, and the stock market started to not do so well, my father became very depressed. He had many dreams of how to support himself, but nothing seemed to be panning out. One day while painting his home, he took a bad fall off of a ladder that was located at the top of some stairs. When he fell off the ladder, he went down the stairs, as well, and the ladder went with him. This fall left him in massive amounts of pain and feeling very depressed.

Not too long afterward, my mom received a copy of his will and his suicide letter in the mail.

That was a long day.

The police in North Carolina, where he lived, entered his home to find him alive, but very sick in his bed after taking an entire bottle of morphine. He proceeded to spend the next week in the psychiatric ward of his local hospital. Around this time, 9/11 happened.

That was a long week.

The doctors at the hospital pumped my father full of antidepressants and continued to see him on an out-patient basis. That medication was not good to him.

Here is where I will never know the full truth, and I’ll explain why later.

There is a small percentage of people who can’t take certain antidepressants. The medications do not metabolize well in them. My father is one of those people. It causes psychotic breakdowns and has led to some violent crimes (for other people – my father never got that bad), as well as memory problems and seizures. When my father went to talk to his doctors about what happened, they refused to discuss it and slapped a silence order on his therapist. My father stopped seeing them – all of them – as well as going off all medications. None of my doctors in the field have ever heard of problems like that with the antidepressant they had put my father on. So is it that rare? Or is my father that messed up mentally? More on that in a minute.

My father still has the memory problems and the seizures. He talks to people who aren’t there. Always has. He does this when he mumbles. He’ll never admit to it, but you can sometimes hear what he’s saying. He also has fanciful tails of the security clearance he used to have for the government, the people he advised, the projects he worked on. These stories are all the truth as he knows it.

Have you ever seen the movie A Beautiful Mind? My father reminds me of the home game.

Will I ever know the truth?

Only if my father receives a diagnosis that points us in one way or the other. And with my dad’s paranoia of the system – any system – we most likely never will see that diagnosis.

My opinion is that while at times I think my mom might have BPD, I’m pretty sure my father does. Everything fits well, and my acorn did not fall far from that tree. If my father is indeed having delusions, that would fit in well to Schizotypal, only in his case, I think it’s been his truth for so long, that he honestly believes it. Or who knows, maybe it really is the truth. As I said, I may never know.

I have to wonder, will I ever know the truth?

Ask The Band: How Do I Explain My Battle Wounds?

Between 2 and 3 million people in the US alone self-injure.

This is her experience.

I just want to start out by telling you about the gift God has so graciously provided me: I have an awesome, incredible, beautiful, rambunctious three-year old named Libby. She is my everything. Her smile, laugh, voice, everything about her makes me wake up in the morning with a smile on my face. She is my best friend, my ally, my stepping stone to true happiness.

We were sitting on the couch watching TV, and she was holding my arm with her hand.

She asked, “What happened, Mama?” when she saw my scars. I was in shock. I quickly changed the subject because she has the attention span of, well, a three-year old.

But I couldn’t get it off my mind. I know if you’re my friend or have ever been around me, you must have seen them. They are pretty noticeable. I’ve never tried to hide them; there’s no point.

I started cutting myself for the first time when I was 18 and a senior in high school. I was in a bad spell. This was before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.

I lost almost 20 pounds in three weeks, I cut all my hair off, I spent hours locked up in my room, and I felt so… numb. Lost. Hurting so badly inside. I felt stupid that I was so upset and depressed. I thought I was crying for no reason, that I was being a dramatic girl.

So, I tried self-injury one night. It felt like a world full of black and white suddenly went colorful. I finally felt the pain on the outside that I was so desperately feeling on the inside.

I continued cutting.

It felt good and I loved doing it to myself, as narcissistic as that sounds. I didn’t do it for attention, necessarily. Maybe sub-consciously I did; I can’t really be sure. I didn’t do it to try and kill myself, either. It gave me reason for hurting. It gave me actual scars instead of the ones on my brain and on my heart. Real battle wounds instead of the ones I could only speak of. I used to hide in my closet for hours and self-injure a little at a time.

The closet is my safe haven in my brain. Whenever I’m super upset about something – when it’s really bad – I hide in my closest, most of the time with no lights on, and I cry. I try not to, but the reason I go to the closet is that is where I used to hide when my father would beat the hell out of my mom. I would go in there, ears plugged, eyes closed, and cry.

I stopped cutting after I found out I was pregnant with Libby. I didn’t do it for over three years, until July of this year.

I’d called my then-boyfriend one night, freaking out. I was so lost, in such a dark place, so afraid of myself. I collapsed mentally. He had to carry me out of the closet because I was shaking so hard.

I don’t know how to answer the question to Libs when she asks me again. Honestly, I’m afraid: I’m not supposed to be weak. I’m supposed to be her mom. Her protector. I’m supposed to be her knight in shining armor. How do you explain that to a child? I don’t want to lie to her, but I don’t want her to look at me differently when she’s finally old enough to understand.

Are they battle wounds or are they just a crazy girl’s self-inflicted scars?

Ask The Band: Are Mentally Ill People Responsible For Their Actions?

So, The Band, I need your opinion:

Can a person be held fully responsible for her actions if she is not of the mental capacity to understand her actions? Can the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) wife be held accountable for her uncontrollable rage? Can she be held accountable for manipulating someone when she has no idea she’s doing it?

According to our court system, a person who is declared insane does not receive full accountability for a crime she commits. But does that line of thinking apply to mundane day-to-day actions?

Should I no longer hold my husband accountable for his emotional breakdown? The one that lead to him to order me to quit my job years ago, leading to a long period of poverty, near homelessness, my own breakdown and our thousands in debt?

Are we being too tough on those in our lives who have obvious limitations? Or is insanity simply a convenient excuse to the affair between a BPD woman and her white knight lover?

Right is right and wrong will always and forever be wrong, after all.

What do you think, The Band?