The Borderline Battle

I’m stable but I’m struggling, if that makes any sense. My bipolar disorder is stable, but now my borderline personality disorder is raging. I’m battling with myself constantly, trying to stay level but it’s getting harder to do so. At the moment, I am level. I feel logical and rational, but that won’t last for long. One part of my BPD will rear its ugly little head, and say “Oh hey, I heard you thought you were fine. Let me reassure you that you aren’t, because I’m here.” There are nine symptoms of BPD, and lately I’ve been experiencing all of the symptoms. I’m going to try to explain these nine symptoms, and how they manifest within me.

  1. Fear of Abandonment. Real or imagined, people with BPD have a fear of abandonment and will make frantic efforts to avoid it. I have this intense fear that my husband will leave me, even though he reassures me on a daily basis that he isn’t going anywhere. Why can’t I accept what he says? I don’t have an answer for that. I believe him, so why does my brain keep insisting that one day he will get fed up with me and decide to leave? It’s an irrational thought and I know that, but I can’t stop being afraid of him leaving. I’ve been with my husband over 10 years now, and they’ve been the best 10 years of my life. You’d think I would feel secure in my relationship by now. I’m not, though and it sucks because my insecurities cause a ripple effect in my relationship, which makes it unstable at times. And that brings me to the next symptom…
  2. Unstable Relationships. My relationship with my husband is relatively stable. Our relationship seems perfect, we rarely ever fight. My friendships are pretty stable as well. I have a history of rocky relationships, both platonic and romantic. Lately my BPD has been acting up, and it is causing arguments between me and my husband. I’ll split (switching between idealization and devaluation) on myself or him, my moods will flip, and I’ll start fights. For no good reason. I can only imagine what he’s thinking and feeling when this happens, it must be like an emotional whiplash. Not just for him, but also for me. I usually end up splitting on myself, because I feel I am a bad person for starting an argument and taking it out on my husband. Splitting is a common occurrence with me, and I’m not alone as it’s fairly common in people with BPD. I’ll explain more about splitting later.
  3. Unclear or Shifting Self Image. I’ve struggled with knowing who I am for most of my life. My sense of self has typically been unstable. For the most part, I think of myself as a loving, supportive, good person. However, I tend to experience splitting on myself and all it takes is making a simple mistake for me to split and all of a sudden I hate myself. I will think that I’m a horrible person who doesn’t deserve love. I don’t have a clear picture of my career goals, some days I don’t know who I am or what I want to do with my life. I’m a stay at home mom, and I struggle with it sometimes. I feel like I should have an education and career by my age and I don’t, and it gets to me. I’ll mentally beat myself up over being a housewife and stay at home mom, and it just makes the splitting worse. How do I deal with splitting? I do something impulsive.
  4. Impulsive, Self Destructive Behaviours. Oh boy, where do I begin… I tend to engage in behaviours that are both sensation seeking and harmful, especially when I’m upset or feeling any emotion strongly. I spend money we can’t afford to spend, I have binge eating problems, I text people impulsively. I don’t drink or do drugs, I don’t gamble, I don’t engage in promiscuous sex, I don’t drive recklessly, though many people with BPD tend to struggle with these things on a regular basis. Sometimes I impulsively harm myself, which I’ll get to in just a moment. My impulsiveness has gotten me into trouble more than a few times. There are consequences to my impulsive, self destructive ways. Maxed out credit cards, overdraft and NSF fees, weight gain, self esteem issues, the list goes on. I don’t have many self destructive behaviours but the ones I do have wreak havoc on my life.
  5. Self-harm, Suicidal Behaviour. Deliberate self-harm and suicidal behaviour are common in people with BPD, and I am certainly no exception. I am a survivor of two suicide attempts. Cutting is one form of self harm, and it’s an addiction of mine. I’ve relapsed numerous times over the years, I managed to go 6 years without cutting once. Currently, I’m working towards 10 months clean from cutting. I still get urges to cut, especially when I’m feeling numb, empty, or stressed. Burning is another form of self-harm, though I don’t engage in it. I have been plagued by intrusive suicidal thoughts in the past, and I go through periods of having a preoccupation with suicide and death. I’ve planned my suicide more than once, as a teenager I honestly believed I wouldn’t live past the age of 23. I have a tattoo on my forearm, a semi colon with “This Too Shall Pass” written underneath. It gives me inner strength, and reminds me that no matter how bad life gets, the bad times don’t last forever. Good times will come. They often come sooner than later, as the good and bad times are dictated by my moods.
  6. Extreme Emotional Swings. Volatile mood swings are common with BPD. I can be elated one minute and raging the next, it doesn’t take much to trigger the mood swings. It could be a joke or an innocent remark that triggers my moods to flip and send me into a tailspin. Trying to manage my mood swings is like trying to drive down a twisting and winding road while blindfolded. Though these mood swings are quite intense, they tend to pass fairly quickly. Unlike bipolar disorder, these mood swings last maybe a few minutes or hours. I experience these rapid shifts in mood multiple times in a day, it’s exhausting sometimes. One of the emotions I struggle to manage is my anger.
  7. Explosive Anger. Most people with BPD struggle with having a short temper and inappropriate, intense anger. While my temper is pretty mild, my anger is intense and it isn’t pretty. It takes a lot for my fuse to get lit but once it is, I have trouble controlling myself. I don’t think before talking, I shoot from the hip so to speak. I have a sharp tongue, and I’m also hurtfully blunt. I become severely sarcastic, and snappy. Some people yell, others throw things. Anger isn’t always directed outwards, though. My anger tends to be directed inwards, at myself. I’ll have intrusive thoughts and get extremely angry with myself for having those thoughts. I’ll get upset with myself for procrastinating, or for having fibromyalgia pain which I can’t control. I do have the occasional angry outburst, and it scares me when it does happen. I feel cornered and out of control, it’s a horrible thing to experience. Often times when I experience explosive anger, a switch inside of me flips and all of a sudden I feel nothing, just like an empty shell.
  8. Chronic Feelings of Emptiness. Many people with BPD report feeling empty inside, like there is a void or hole inside them. Some people report feeling frequently bored or numb. I go through periods where I feel empty, like I’m nothing. When I experience drastic mood swings, the aftermath is usually feeling numb. Some people try to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, food, or sex. For me, it’s food. I LOVE FOOD. I binge eat. When I feel empty, I eat as if filling my stomach will make me feel whole again. I’ve really struggled with feeling numb and empty inside since my Mother passed away last October. I tend to dissociate when I feel empty or numb, I think it’s my brain’s way of protecting me.
  9. Paranoia And Dissociation. I’ve read that paranoia is quite common in people with BPD, though I don’t have much experience with it myself. I have lots of experience with dissociation, on the other hand. I space out often, to be honest. I feel out of touch with reality, like I’m not real and what is happening isn’t really happening. It happened when my Mother died, I was dissociating throughout my time in the hospital. I dissociate whenever rape is brought up in conversation, or domestic violence. Sometimes I feel as though I’m outside of my body, it’s really hard to describe the feeling. Whenever I get a piercing, or attend a doctor’s appointment where a physical exam will be happening, I hyper-focus on something in the room and it helps me cope with whatever is happening. I didn’t know this until recently but this is also dissociating, and a self defense mechanism.

Whenever I fight with my husband, I try to remind myself that it isn’t me vs. him, it’s me and him vs. the problem. But then I start to think that I’M the problem, which leads to splitting. Splitting means having difficulty holding opposing thoughts. I’m unable to weigh out the positive and negative attributes of a person or event, I don’t recognize that both good and bad traits can exist at the same time. It’s black and white thinking, all or nothing. Kinda like the Sith in Star Wars. You’re either with me or against me. You put a person, even yourself, on such a high pedestal (idealization). They can do no wrong, everything they say and do is admirable. Then the legs get kicked out and they fall into devaluation, where they’re wrong and bad, and looked at with disdain. Splitting sounds horrible, but it’s actually a way of coping, like a self defense mechanism that people with BPD use as a means to prevent being hurt, or avoiding rejection. I’ll push you away before you can do it to me, sort of thing.

My borderline has been quite active lately, and it is exhausting to manage. I’m a very sensitive person, and normally I can take a joke or teasing. Lately, I’ve been taking everything as a personal attack, which isn’t like me at all. I feel like I’m losing control of myself and I don’t like it. Typically I relate to only 2 or 3 BPD characteristics at a time but this past year I’ve experienced all 9 symptoms, sometimes in the same day or week.

Living with borderline can be nightmarish, because it’s like a never ending cycle of self destruction. All of my symptoms have an overlap, they all work together, against me. My moods will flip, I’ll get intense anger that spirals out of control, I’ll feel ashamed and guilt ridden from losing control, I’ll dissociate and reach for a knife then struggle with myself because I want to cut but don’t want to relapse, and then the emptiness takes over. One symptom triggers another, and so on. When I do relapse, I become terrified that my husband will leave me because I’m crazy and too much for him to handle. I’ll feel ashamed and guilty for giving in, for being weak when I should have been strong. I regret cutting myself every time, it feels great in the moment but that’s short lived. I can’t relapse again. I won’t, I refuse to give in to my addictions.

I need to be strong and fight my BPD, not only for my own sake but for my family’s sake as well. I can’t let my disorder control me. I have three kids, and they’re watching me. They will think that what they’re growing up with is normal, and I have to be mindful of that. I don’t want my kids growing up and having to recover from their childhood. They deserve a mother who is stable, and my husband deserves a stable wife. I’m trying my best to give them that. I’m trying my best for me too, because I deserve stability. I don’t like feeling this way, when my BPD gets the best of me.

Around 80% of people with BPD report a history of suicide attempts. 8-10% of people with BPD die by suicide. I refuse to become part of the latter statistic. I am literally fighting for my life. I want to live. I need to protect myself, from myself. I need to fight on in the never-ending borderline battle.

2016 in Review

Oh, hello! *waves* I know, it’s been forever! Too long, in my opinion. Where the hell have I been for the past year and a bit?! Nowhere extravagant or foreign, just the old and familiar setting of the caverns that is my brain. Mentally speaking, that is. Physically, I have been a hermit. I’ve stayed home all these months with the exception of a week or two during Spring Break last year and this year, and all of July 2016. Those times were spent at my in-laws’ farm which is about an eleven hour drive south of my remote northern Canadian bush town. It’s a patch of paradise, I say. I love the farm!

Let’s just say that 2016 was not my year. I know, apparently it wasn’t many people’s year. For me, it was a non-stop roller coaster ride of hypomanic, depressive, and mixed bipolar episodes with spurts of fibromyalgia flare ups and BPD episodes sprinkled in for good measure. I’m going to break it down, here’s my 2016 in review.

  1.  I started out the year with a close friend leaving town to move eleven hours south.
  2.  I picked up extra bartending shifts at my local Royal Canadian Legion until I was slammed with a major Fibromyalgia flare up, it sent me spiraling into a major depressive episode which eventually dissipated a few months later.
  3.  I put my back out pushing my mattress towards the wall, resulting in a mechanical injury to my spine, L5 area to be exact.
  4.  I suffered flashbacks and nightmares stemming from my sexual abuse and rape many years ago. I didn’t realize until a while later that my flashbacks coincided with the anniversary (HA! more like date of misery) of my rape.
  5.  I relapsed with cutting, so many times I can’t count. The scars are still quite visible for some odd reason. I have been clean since October 20, 2016.
  6.  I fought off intrusive suicidal thoughts and urges while maintaining composure during my time taking care of children. Unfortunately I had to stop taking care of said children due to my deteriorating mental health, which basically ruined the friendship my family had with this other family.
  7.  I’ve stayed strong and supportive while members of my family are struggling with debilitating illnesses. I’m still keeping it together, in order to support them and help them stay positive.
  8.  I took a month leave with my kids to stay at our camper on my in-law’s farm. It was amazing and definitely helped me come out of my black depression. I love the outdoors, and seeing my kids and dogs run freely around the farm without a worry was such a relief.
  9.  We came home earlier than anticipated, as my daughter fell ill with hand foot and mouth disease. Within the week my husband and I fell ill as well. We stayed in our home all of August, in a self-quarantine. My son was lucky, as he was only a carrier of the virus. I wound up developing viral meningitis, when I went to my local hospital I was humiliated and not taken seriously because “She’s Borderline, so…”, it took me over a month to recover from the meningitis. I will delve into more detail on this in a future post.
  10. I got into some of the worst fights with my Hubby ever, thankfully our arguments always get resolved and it only made us closer as a couple. Looking back, I think I inadvertently started every fight. I am so sorry, my beloved.

That’s pretty much it in a small nutshell. There are also factors that have benefited me this year. I made sure to try my best in all of the above events. I’ve been quite the bookworm, thank goodness. I certainly missed that hobby! Now that my children are past the toddler and preschooler ages, I’m able to sit and read for longer than two minutes. I should really stick to just one book and read it through before starting the next one, but that’s why I have bookmarks. I am reading various self help books, and holy therapy Batman are they helping me!

I’ve learned a few things from my ups and downs during 2016, and while they are things I already knew (well, knew OF is more like it), I finally understand why these lessons are repeated ad nauseum throughout the mental health community.

  1.  MEDICATION COMPLIANCE IS A MUST. Yes, I know. We’ve all heard it before, from doctors, nurses, our parents (or maybe just mine), therapists. You seriously have to stay on top of that shit. I’ve always half assed my medication routine, regularly forgetting doses on a weekly basis. Well, I smartened up and set alarms on my phone without the choice of a snooze button. Unfortunately, we had a snag in our prescription coverage and I wound up simultaneously going off three psych meds cold turkey. FOR FOUR BLOODY WEEKS. It was horrendous. My withdrawal was starting to die down when our coverage was reinstated, so I could start taking my meds again. Going off meds cold turkey and then restarting those same meds after going through withdrawal is no pony ride. I’ve had a few missed doses here and there since the coverage fiasco, and I noticed a major difference in my moods and energy whenever it has happened, and I can feel those effects for about three days. I now keep track off all my meds and my son’s in one weekly pill case. The alarm goes off, I do my med rounds. I will not subject myself to missed doses again. Not if I can help it.
  2. UNRESOLVED TRAUMA WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU. You can run, but you can’t hide from your own memories and history. I know, because I tried. I’m 32 now; I was raped by Abuser #1 when I was 16. That was half a lifetime ago for me. The rape was a culmination of 5 years of sexual abuse. I tried to pretend it didn’t happen, but when I was 17 my parents found out, Child and Family Services got involved along with the municipal sex crimes unit, and I couldn’t pretend anymore. Once I turned 18, I had the file closed and did my best to put it behind me by ignoring what happened. I shoved all the traumatic memories into the deepest, darkest crawlspace in the recesses of my brain. I was good until I began a relationship with my ex (Abuser #2) in the winter of 2003. I was just shy of 19. That relationship lasted 5 years and 3 months, and left me with a lifetime of emotional baggage and trauma. It also left me with my beloved son, who gave me a reason to wake up and smile every day. It was in his best interest that I left my ex in March 2009, and I’m so glad I finally gathered the courage to leave him. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD, to be honest I identify more with Complex PTSD but I’m not the expert. These two abusers are largely responsible for me having PTSD.  I am finally on the path of recovery, all these years later. Hey, better late than never.
  3. SELF CARE IS VITAL TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. Seriously. Self care is key. On the days where I am at my lowest, getting out of bed is exhausting. That’s why on my worst days, I don’t leave my bed. I will do nothing but lay there in my hermit cave of furry covers and snuggle with my cats and dogs, existing. And it’s exhausting, but sometimes it has to be done. Think of it as mental self-preservation. If it’s too painful for me to move around, I am pretty much bed ridden. So I make the most of that time by doing activities that I find soothing. Colouring and reading are my big ones, along with painting. Only issue with that is I have early onset psoriatic arthritis in my hands, and when they flare up with my fibromyalgia I can’t even hold a spoon to feed myself, let alone grip a pencil crayon to colour. Sometimes self care manifests as Netflix and whatever comfort foods you can find, or devoting some time to a favourite hobby. Either way… when you are down and out, you need to take care of yourself. Self care doesn’t have to be extravagant manicures and spa days. Self care can be as simple as making sure you brushed your teeth that day, avoiding social media for the day, or simply just giving yourself credit for making it this far in life. Self care is identifying your own needs and taking the steps to meet those needs. It’s about being kind to yourself, and treating yourself the way you want others to treat you.

Learning these important lessons was not fun, as I learned them the hard way. Repeatedly. Now that the information has finally sank in and absorbed into my grey matter, hopefully I will never have to relearn why medication compliance is a must. Ever hear of Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome? Take it from me, it’s no picnic in the park. I would say it’s worse than quitting Ziprasidone (Geodon/Zeldox) cold turkey.

2016 has come and gone, along with half of 2017 already. Holy geeze, time flies. I’m still here, so I will take that as a blessing and be grateful I am alive.

***Edited to add that today is July 9, 2017. The date listed is actually when I started the original draft of this post. That’s right, I am a newbie blogger and don’t know how to edit the dates. I am the Queen of procrastination.***