Recovery is constant resistance 

I wish I could see what you think you see in me. Just once I would like to be at peace with myself and look in the mirror through your rose-coloured glasses. But then you would have to take them off and see me for who I really am. I don’t think I want that quite yet.

Above is an unfinished draft I wrote a while back. On the 18th of September, specifically. This was written on a bad day.

I used to deflect compliments and praise because I strongly believed that to love myself, the love had to be intrinsic. It couldn’t rely on other people’s opinions of me. While I still believe this is true, I now realize that I took that sentiment too far… As I tend to do with most things.

My emotions and thoughts shift from one extreme to another. On bad days, I think I’m worthless. I think I’m a failure. Sometimes, I even feel like I hate myself. On good days I am confident, easy-going, and full of positive energy. Obviously the good exists. It is there, and it is intrinsic. However, the habit of refusing compliments is so deeply ingrained in my psyche that even on good days I cannot accept them. On bad days it’s even worse.

What I am starting to realize is that if I open myself up and let some of the positive in from the people around me, it can help coax out the self love that already exists. This is an important realization especially for the bad days. I’ve been living so long believing in this delusion that everyone who loves and cares for me must be wrong or mistaken. I could go on like that forever, if I allowed it. I could stay miserable forever.

It’s hard to let go of those thinking processes. They’re hardwired into my brain like a bad habit; no – like an addiction. I know they’re bad for me, but I’ve lived with them so long; I’ve lived with them all my life. It’s a constant effort to break free. I improve, then relapse. Improve. Relapse. Repeat.

I’m fighting against biology and brain structure. I’m resisting the pathways that have been ingrained within me. Through my studies, though, I know that it is possible to change. The brain is surprisingly plastic and the body is surprisingly adaptive. It’s possible to override these patterns. It’s not easy, but just like anything else that takes work, it will be worth it in the end.

Heavy

Today, she had me sit down with my arms outstretched in front of me. In my hands she placed a basket full of polished stones. The point of this exercise it to show you that even if you can hold the basket with no problem, over time, the longer you hold on, the heavier it becomes. She looked at me with sad eyes. Kind, but sad. She told me I hold on too long to too much.

I’ll admit I’ve been through a lot and I always forget how much I take on others emotions. I forget how much I want to take care of others.

We went back to the beginning, where I told her about my childhood, even my infancy when my mom suffered from post-partum depression. She said when we are born, we are pure and wholesome. We are born good. Then we grow up and the world around us shapes us. Sometimes it changes us to the point of self hatred and we believe we have no self worth. She said I needed to stop taking on other’s pain. My friends, my supervisor, even my mother’s pain.

The more we spoke, an image surfaced in my mind. The image of a bright eyed infant born as a natural empath.

She rests peacefully in her mother’s arms without a care in the world. Her mother fights the loneliness, guilt, and harrowing depression while trying her best to care for her child. Holding the baby close drives the darkness away. 

The baby senses this change. The empath in her yearns to care for her mother as much as she yearns for care from her mother. They become inseparable. The child cries and will not be soothed by anyone but her mother. Adults chuckle affectionately at the attachment. The child cries when being dropped off at school. She becomes anxious when apart from her mother. Everyone assumes she is just shy and afraid of strangers. What they do not know is that she also takes on her mother’s pain. She wants to hold her pain, to take it away. To hold it in her outstretched arms, eager to help. 

How to tell if you’re an empath.
The science behind empathy.

Hangry

Lots of people experience this. That irritability that we experience while hungry, essentially. For many people, it is a short phase that disappears after eating. It is something to laugh about later. However, individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, BPD, or any other mental illnesses may feel these effects differently.

Having BPD and experiencing extreme highs and lows on a regular basis is difficult enough to deal with. This only gets harder when you lose track of basic needs such as eating, drinking water, or sleeping.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been going through a depressive episode. I spent all of Saturday in bed, but somehow kicked myself to get up on Sunday. Today I planned on going to the gym. This is why the gym is important to me: it makes me get out of bed, I will eat breakfast, I will exercise, eat again, and the rest of the day is on track. Today I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to skip the gym.

So I skipped breakfast. I skipped the gym. I went to a seminar and straight to work. I was focused on my work until around noon, when I realized I was starving.

Sometimes when I don’t eat, I’m just irritable. I get grumpy and silent and don’t want to talk to anyone until I eat. This is socially acceptable; people understand this. If anything people think it’s “cute” or “quirky”. When I’m already in a low mood, the feelings are a lot darker.

I needed to take out cash and I didn’t think it would be a big deal to go to the bank before eating. So I told my friend I’d catch up with her later.

Halfway there, an exhausted sort of feeling emerged. At the ATM, ruminating thoughts began. You’re useless. You’re ruined. You’re damaged. I started walking back to meet my friends. The exhausted feeling pressed down into my chest, hard. The thoughts were louder. You’re going to ruin this. You don’t deserve to be happy.

My heart was pounding and I walked faster. I knew I just needed to eat, and this would all go away. You should kill yourself. I stared ahead, trying to let the thoughts pass through. I knew I just needed to eat. You’re pathetic, you know that? What a fucking baby. Who gets this dramatic about being hungry? What would it be like to jump over that ledge? I shook my head and held back my tears.

This kept running through my head until I finally grabbed my food, and found my friend. All I could focus on was eating and trying not to cry. Afterwards, I felt calmer, but I was left tired and weary from the ordeal I just went through in my own head.

I went home. I’m back in bed. I don’t know whether I should cry or sleep. All I know is that I’m exhausted and all of this was totally preventable. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, though; I just need to learn from this and move forward

Just because “boring self care” is boring, doesn’t mean it isn’t so important. Sometimes the small things make all the difference. Getting out of bed. Eating. Exercising. It’s so important to take care of these vulnerabilities. Your health is important. Your needs are valid and you need to care for yourself. 

Disenchantment

This is where broken people are.
This is where they wipe their tears away
And put on a new face;
A shiny, glossy mask.
They meet other
Shiny, glossy people and exchange superficial pleasantries.

This is for the people afraid of being alone;
Afraid of being marooned –
Forever controlled
By a willfully blind puppet master.
They look for another,
Fooling themselves,
Convincing themselves that they are the ones in control.
This is where the hopeful people are.

This is where the lost people are.
Passing through crowds of people,
But not really seeing a single face.
Trying to both remember and forget,
Wishing they knew now only what they knew then.
Searching for a shard of resemblance
Of a happier time.

This is where she shall drift,
Disappointed, desolate, 
Disenchanted.

Gratitude 

Thanks for picking me up and carrying my when I was down. I blog about my pain, heartache, and troubles a lot – I often forget to acknowledge the overwhelming support I have. It would be an understatement to simply say I was “lucky”. This was no luck of the draw. I am blessed and eternally grateful for the people who walked into my life and never left. Practicing gratitude humbles our struggles. Make a point to do this more every day.

Thank you SC; CLB; RN; ACN; EG; TK; FC; EM; PW; RC; AEM; WC; SP; AV; DRB.

People say when it comes to friendship, it is better to have 4 quarters rather than 100 pennies. I am grateful to have so many people who support me, who are all worth more than their weight in gold.

I am grateful for the people I have only met within the past few months, who were kind enough to listen, value my friendship and remained in my life. I am so grateful for their willingness to have open and honest conversations and withholding judgement, instead replacing it with genuine curiosity. I’m grateful for the people who spoke to me and were open to me, even if it wasn’t always easy.

I am grateful for the family who stand by me no matter what and listen non judgementally, and respond with love and honestly. Words can’t express the gratitude I have. I may have had many difficult experiences with people, my diagnosis, and my self image, but I was given the most supportive people imaginable to be my closest support network. I am especially grateful for my parents for being so calm and open about my situation. I am always afraid to tell them when I relapse, yet they always respond with nothing but warmth, love, and concern. I am grateful for my sister and cousin, two of my best friends. I am grateful for their love, ambition, and honesty. I love the unconditional support they give to me; the support that I am eagerly willing to return.

I’m grateful for the girls I work with or went to school with, who have come to be like family: always supportive, always a shoulder to cry on, always a friendly pair of listening ears. Their unique and distinct personalities all provide me with insight from many perspectives, and though they are all very different, their love is all equally strong and supportive of not only me but each other. I’m grateful to be surrounded by such intelligent, caring, genuine women. They are an inspiration and after many difficult experiences in my past, they showed the profound impact of women sticking together and supporting each other unconditionally. I am not only inspired by the times where we were loving and supportive, but also by times of conflict. They always proved my fears wrong, and our friendship always shone through.

I am grateful for my guy best friends from home, who each lend me their own unique perspectives. Again, they are all very different, but they are all the same in their love, concern, and friendship. They are all the protective brothers that I never had, each offering their insight when it comes to my boy problems. After the experiences I have had with previous boyfriends, I have come to realize that love is not only the one who is in a romantic relationship with you. Love is also undying support, the strength of friendship, and wanting the best for one another. I have many perceptions and suspicions about boys, but I also need to remember that they are not all like the ones who have hurt me.

Having BPD is hard. Having depression is hard. Being chronically suicidal is hard. But I have come to realize that my pain and suffering has brought out the good in so many people. It has given all these people the chance to shine and it has given me the privilege of watching them do so. It has attracted the biggest hearts and the most genuinely wonderful people. I honestly do think that my friends are truly good human beings. After having so much love in my life, it has made it easier and easier to shut out toxic people. Thank you all for being there for me; I sincerely hope I have given as much to you as you have given to me.

My favourite colour is

Tw self harm 

Remember that blade I took? The one I wanted to take for a long time? I used it. And it was so sharp. It cut deeper than I thought it would. The blood was everywhere. Everywhere. No one else will want me now. You said you were my friend. You said you’d be there for me. And then you fucked me over. Deny as much as you want but you fucked me over. You’re a shitty friend. You’re a shitty person. It’s deeper than I thought. Oh God, it’s deeper than I thought. I can’t stop the blood. Just a light graze leaves a mark. What if I press harder? It doesn’t matter I can’t feel a thing. I can’t stop. Even though purple is usually my favorite, today, right now, it is red. Red is my favorite colour. And I want more. I love red. The colour that flows out of my body. I love it. Let me pull it out until my vision fades; until my there’s nothing more. Until I’m pale and drained. Until I’m dry and decaying. Red is so beautiful. Yet I am not. Take the beauty out of my body. Separate it from my ugly soul. Let the red stain my sheets and let it bring beauty to my surroundings. Drain it from my veins; drain it from my arteries.
17. 17. Seventeen. 10+7. Only 17 of them. Only 17 sources of beautiful red. Maybe more soon. Who knows? Who cares. 

Worthy

Know your worth.
Know that you, just as everyone else, is worthy of love.
Don’t let yourself stay with someone who wants to be with another
When all you want is to be wanted by someone who only wants you.
When she leaves, and you remain as his remaining crutch,
The only shoulder to cry on
You will always be wondering
What if she stayed?

Go ahead and cover the walls of your glass room with pictures of a fantasy.
Paint the insides of your eyelids with what you want to see
And tell yourself that you’re fine. That this is what you wanted.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re in control
And then force yourself to feel what you think you should feel.
Live in your false comfort.

Dream, imagine, and hope all you want
But know it does not have to be this way. 

Not as long as you believe you are worthy. 

Skin hunger 

She lived in a bubble. She was hesitant around strangers and was slow to open up. But when she did open up, she was loving, bright, and affectionate.

Over time, through the people she encountered, and situations she experienced, she learned it was better to stay in a bubble. She kept people at a distance. Because, as she had learned, physical affection means you’re asking for more.

She would flinch when others would touch or hug her, friends and strangers alike. She always kept her distance while yearning for closeness. She was lonely when she was not alone. She was starved for affection, yet her fear and anxiety held her back.

Somehow she ended up in relationships with others who would not be affectionate. “I don’t like holding hands,” they would say. “I hate PDA,” even when it was an arm around the shoulder or a hand on the knee. So it became normal for her.

“Why are you so codependent? Why are you so clingy?” they would say. Even though she thought her requests were normal, they made her doubt herself. Her doubts turned into shame, and her shame manifested itself as bitterness, self hatred, and jealousy. She had accepted that it would always have to be this way.

You could never understand 

TW SELF HARM SUICIDE GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS

You could never, ever understand how it is to be at this point. To be consumed by all the reasons why you’re damaged. To have an intense surge of insight, where the swirling fog of uncertainty and fear disappears. Clear as the day, the only thing visible is the thought that things will never change.

You’ll never understand the simultaneous relief to have an answer and despair at the prospect of staying this way forever. Not just pain, it’s suffering.

I no longer feel as if I have a hole inside of me. I feel like there is an inescapable vacuum that sucks up any good that I produce or that others bring to me.

I don’t think you’ll ever understand – I hope you never understand. I hope you never understand the feeling of lying on your bed eyeing that ultra sharp blade you’ve scavenged after many nights of resisting temptation. Wanting to cut so deep you need stitches, to lose so much blood you pass out and maybe never wake up.

I’m so beaten and broken down, actually dying would just be a formality.

Cognitive dissonance

In music, consonance is when a chord or progression is pleasant to hear. It is harmonious; it sounds nice. On the other hand, dissonance is associated with unpleasantness and instability. Dissonance is perhaps when a pianist makes a mistake and accidentally hits the wrong notes. The sound is harsh and jarring.

Similarly, the term “cognitive dissonance” refers to the uncomfortable feeling we get when our beliefs do not align – when they are not in harmony with each other. Individuals that tend to think in extremes (black and white thinking, idealization/devaluation, etc.) may do so in order to reconcile their cognitive dissonance. In BPD this may occur in the individuals unstable sense of self or relationships.

For example, an individual who has the habitual belief that they are worthless or unimportant may experience cognitive dissonance when receiving compliments or while experiencing success. Their beliefs about themselves are being challenged and this makes them uncomfortable. One way the individual may try to dissolve this discomfort and sticking to their beliefs is to tell themself that these compliments were untrue or insincere. “They didn’t mean it, they were just being polite”. Another way that the individual may try to rationalize their beliefs is by downplaying their success. “I got lucky. It wasn’t that hard in the first place. Given my situation, I probably should have done even better than I did”.

These thoughts may temporarily dispel that cognitive dissonance, but the individual will experience the same discomfort again and again. The BPD individual who sees themself as “all-bad” will struggle to change their thought patterns that have been so deeply ingrained into them.

Another example is when an individual is in a relationship (platonic or otherwise). Individuals with BPD are likely to experience idealization/devaluation in their relationships, meaning they may switch suddenly from seeing their friend or partner as “all-good” or “all-bad”. Perhaps a friend cancelled plans or did not respond in a way that was expected. The BPD individual may turn to devaluation and perceive their friend as being a terrible person. They may believe their friend hates them or is trying to avoid them. However, there may be underlying discomfort because there are many other times where the friend has shown loyalty, trustworthiness, and love. In order to remove this incompatibility, the BPD individual may experience “tunnel vision” and block out any past positive experiences with the friend.

If experiencing cognitive dissonance as above, here are guidelines that have worked for me personally.

  1. Observe the discomfort. Write down the thoughts you are having. Acknowledge the judgements and assumptions.
  2. Look at the facts. Next, write down any factual evidence that supports or disproves your thoughts. Remember: facts are facts. Facts are not “probably’s” or “maybe’s”. Facts are not judgements or assumptions.
  3. Compare the thoughts and the facts. Do they align? If they do not, reconsider other possibilities.
  4. Express gratitude or acknowledge achievements and successes.

Further reading: How Cognitive Dissonance Relates to Relationships