Allow me to circle back to an older post for a moment, and possibly go off on a little bit of a tangent. A while back I spoke about having a future appointment to see a Psychiatrist – well yeah, that has happened now and it did not go as I expected.
I made Aaron sit with me through the “covid safe” computer meeting. It was one of the hardest appointments I have ever had in my life. The Psychiatrist was really kind and exceptionally understanding, but he threw questions at me the whole time and they were really hard questions for me to answer. I cried a lot talking about things I had suppressed, and after going through my entire life the Psychiatrist finally stopped with the questions and said that from everything he has heard he has come to the conclusion that I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)… what the fuck? I was not expecting that at all.
Looking into it afterwards, I realised it was me. It was exactly me and it explained so much of my life to me. I feel terribly anxious about this, the stigma around it, the therapy I will now have to go through – Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – but I also feel like I finally can begin to understand myself and why I do the things I do, and that honestly means the world to me.
So, what have I learned so far?
- My self image changes constantly – I now know why I never had a constant self identity. I could go from one day dressing like a goth, the next grunge and the next a full-blown hippie… I can’t remember the last time I kept the same hair color for more than a few months! While this can be fun, having an identity disturbance means I do not know who I am and therefore struggle to create any self esteem. Lots of people experience an identity crisis in their lives, but for people with BPD it’s a constant thing and people often find themselves much like a chameleon, changing who they are depending on the circumstances.
- Unstable relationships – In the past this was a massive issue but with maturity I managed to snag myself an amazing man, and even though I stress him the fuck out quite often, I know that he loves me 😉 I have learnt a new term, too: “splitting”. Splitting is something that I now can identify in myself and hopefully work on. It means I see the world very much in black and white terms; there is no middle ground for discussion, it is all or nothing from me. People/things/situations are either the best or worst. I urge you to read up on this term, apparently it is a defense mechanism? Friendships… I haven’t quite got the hang of them yet, but I am working on it.
- Intense emotions – I think I have mentioned this in a previous blog but when I feel, I feel deeply. Now I know why! A classic symptom of BPD is intense emotions. People with BPD are not great at regulating their emotions, and they can also struggle with rapid mood swings that can sometimes be pretty intense. Another unfortunate BPD emotional trait is having a constant feeling of emptiness… no matter what you try and do to fill that void it never helps. The last one I will mention is a massive fear of abandonment. I have always had such a hard time with all of these issues.
- Self Harm – A complex issue that many with BPD will have problems with for a variety of different reasons. For some it may be the only way they know how to communicate their pain inside; others may find it is a release for the internal pain or as a way of punishing themselves. I have self harmed a lot in my life, in many different ways. Most of the time it has been in secret, but knowing now that there is help I can get makes me more comfortable speaking out about it.
- Suicide – A touchy subject, but as it is a big part of BPD I thought I should mention it. This quote I discovered describes it much better than I ever could:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flame yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don‘t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” – David Foster Wallace
Now, coming back from the tangent – whilst reading up on all of this I have found that there could be a possible link between BPD and Fibromyalgia. As in, the constant stress caused by a lifetime of (undiagnosed or otherwise) BPD could potentially be a cause of Fibro developing. But unfortunately there has not been enough research done as yet, the comorbidity between the two conditions has only recently gained attention. When I was in my Fibro support page the other day I noticed a post about BPD and many people were commenting that they had it too, which definitely leads me to believe there may be another dot to be connected in my constantly unfolding journey… there is so much more I could go into, but I will leave it at this for now and continue to look into it.
The most important thing of all I have learnt though, is that this is me. If this was not me and I had not gone through hell and back in my life then I would not be where I am today, and today I am exactly where I am supposed to be. This journey I am on continuously changes and challenges me, but this will open up so many opportunities for me to grow, heal, make friendships – and most importantly to begin my new life moving forward with a much healthier me, in Mind, Body and Soul.