The bad thoughts 

are talking to me. They’re saying you’re a psycho. You’re obsessed and sad and pathetic. You’re trying to feel better – but do you deserve to feel better?

Rip the hair out of your head but you won’t get rid of me. I’ll always be here. I’ll always be here.

You can’t rely on yourself but you can always count on me to be here. This is where you belong and deserve to live and die.

Here is home. Listen to me. I won’t leave you. You can tell me your problems and woes. I won’t make you feel better, but I’ll always be there to listen.

I will tell you what you already believe. What you want is for people to lie to you. To tell you that what you’re feeling is understandable.

I will tell you the truth. I will remind you that you are worthless and you deserve to be knocked down because frankly, you’ve been happier for much longer than you deserve.

You always get what you want. It’s time you relearn what suffering is.

So take it, stew in it, become it. Become the pain and self hatred.

Become the bad thoughts.

Become me.

I am who you are. Let me guide you.

Let me in.

Let me drive you into the ground where you belong.

Drama queen 

Addressed to my friends and family.

I feel worthless, hopeless, and small. I don’t want to tell you because you’re logical and you’ll ask why. Then when I tell you, I know you won’t understand. Or you’ll think, oh here we go again, when will she learn? 

I am too self aware for my own good – I know that logically the “reasons” I am upset make no sense. I know that. But here I am feeling empty and withdrawn, and I already feel like that. I need help with that feeling. I want to rant about the root of my problem and I want you to patiently tell me the logical way to think about it. Because I simply do not have the ability to think about it logically in this state.

I want you to validate me – tell me that it must be hard for me going through this even if you don’t understand why. That’s all I want. Even if you cannot fathom why anyone would ever be upset over what I am sad about, tell me you understand that it must be hard for me.

I am telling you that I am not sitting here crying for attention and drama. I am not being a drama queen. I don’t want to tell you about my problems and have you jump up and tell me you’ll fix it all, or you’ll beat up who hurt me, or you’ll find justice for me. I don’t want to be dependent on alcohol or cutting or sex or drugs. I want a friendly face, a coffee, dinner, ice cream, a hug. I want you to listen and help me dissolve the pain.

Thanks for reading.

Control

I need to be in control. I want to be in control. But don’t we all? We all crave a sense of control – mainly over ourselves and our lives. When that doesn’t work we may try to control other things. Like what we eat, where we hurt. Maybe even other people.

What is scarier than not having control? Imagine driving down an icy or slippery road and you temporarily lose control of the vehicle. Those few seconds are horrifying, and when you finally screech to a stop or straighten the wheel, you’re left in a panic.

What if you could lose control of your emotions this way? Like when you’re driving, you may drive slowly, and pay close attention to your surroundings. But the minute you hit a patch of pure ice, it’ll catch you by surprise.

Some people’s emotions are like driving down a highway in summer.  It’s easy to see the signs and keep track of the road. Sometimes it rains, and that’s when it’s harder to control the emotions.

Other people’s emotions are like driving down a highway in the middle of a blizzard. They can tread carefully, but there’s a higher risk of losing control. They can put on their studded winter tires and chains, they can drive slowly and turn up their high beams, but they are navigating dangerous territory. That moment of fear and loss of control happens so often that they are stuck in a constant state of fear. Or maybe they have felt it so much they shut it out, feeling nothing at all, not caring if their car spins out of control.

These people may feel awful, comparing themselves to the summer drivers. Wondering why they get into so many more accidents and sustain so many more injuries. What they don’t realize is that the two are simply not comparable.

You won’t like me – I’ll make sure of it 

Every time I bring up an issue with my therapist, the root always comes back to my self esteem and self worth. This is especially true when it comes to relationships. Here’s the issue:

I think I’m a bad person. When people first meet me, I feel like they only like the person I pretend to be. I feel like I can be loved as a friend, but only superficially and especially not romantically.  I believe I am hard to love. So when I become close with someone intimately, I constantly feel like I am peeling back the layers of paint, leading them closer to my rotting core.

You may have told me I was beautiful and funny and charming – but that was before you saw who I really am. Do you still think those things about me? How about now? I need reassurance. I need constant updates. I keep fucking up and I know one day you’ll change your mind about me.

The problem is, people often assume that others see the world as they do. My immediate perceptions are black and white extremes. After I cling, obsess, or wear a person down, I believe that their perception of me switches from idealization to devaluation.

I believe that anyone I am with will eventually see me for the horrible person I really am. I believe that they will come to despise me as much as I despise myself. So I subconsciously push their limits and test them until I have created my own self fulfilling prophecy.

Once they lose their temper or give up on me, it feeds into that belief that I’m inherently undeserving of love. It’s a vicious cycle that is so hard to break, especially when I’ve lived this way for years. So unfortunately, until I start liking myself a little more I’m going to wreck any resemblance of a relationship I have. I can’t expect anyone else but me to fix my sense of self worth.

Reconciling identity disturbances

Before yesterday, I hadn’t written in almsot a month. Partially because I have no internet at home, but also because I’m typing out long posts and then deleting them when the perfectionist in my head starts pointing out every single flaw. I’m frustrated because I can’t seem to find the words to convey my thoughts when normally it comes very easily to me. Writing was my thing – I always thought I was a good writer, but recently I’ve been really struggling to communicate my ideas.

When I first moved, I made sure to take care of my health. Being physically active was very important to me, so I was at the gym almost every day. My friend here remarked how fit and active I was (jokes on her!). Last week I was bouldering and found myself so fatigued I couldn’t even make it halfway up the wall. And it suddenly wasn’t fun anymore.  I also had a cough that lasted for about two weeks, so I would also be coughing so much I couldn’t properly breathe at times.

I am studying nutrition, so I recognize the importance of good eating, but I also feel the need to fill the role of a “nutritionist” sometimes. I cooked homemade meals every day, I packed healthy snacks, and I made sure I ate at least three meals nicely spaced out throughout the day. Recently I’ve been so busy, I’ve barely had enough time to buy groceries or cook. I’m so tired I’m scrambling to feed myself, and as a result I am grumpy and sluggish.

These areas that I identifed with are currently damaged. How can I be “fit” or “healthy” or “a writer” if I am unable to do any of these now? An unstable sense of self or identity disturbance is considered a core characteristic of BPD. In general, I don’t feel like this is a characteristic that applies to me, but I do struggle sometimes with identity. One way that my therapist suggested I reconcile these difficulties is by identifying with traits, rather than roles.

Many of us, BPD or not, often define ourselves by our roles. This is why relationships can be so dangerous. My identity becomes “so-and-so’s girlfriend”. This is why I know I can’t be in a relationship right now, because I get sucked into that illusion of an identity. What happens when we break up? Who am I then?

I am proud to call myself a student and also a teacher. I am also compelled to define myself as a student and a teacher. Those are roles, though – they are not who I am. What happens when I graduate? What happens if I am no longer offered a teaching position? Who am I then? Instead, it is better to think of the traits that led me to be so successful in these roles.

I carry the role of being a friend, a sister, a person to lean on. But that is not who I am. I am empathetic (too much, sometimes), I am loving, I am protective and I am loyal.

I carry the role of being a teacher and a student, but that is not who I am. I am curious, I am creative, I am a problem solver.

I carry the role of being a writer, musician and someone who tries to be physically active and healthy (not always the case). But sometimes I sink and don’t have the energy to bring myself back up. Sometimes I can’t be a good writer. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed, never mind going to the gym for a good workout. Sometimes I don’t have the will to leave my house to get groceries to cook something healthy.

The thing is, I don’t write, cook, and workout because those roles have to define me. There’s a reason why I write, play music, stay active, and eat well – I want to recover.

I am determined.  I am strong. I am resilient.

Good things happen (in pairs and in threes)

Two nights in a row, I went out with friends, despite that looming negative voice telling me that nobody liked me, that I should hide, that I am worthless.
Two nights in a row I threw a huge middle finger up to that voice and dressed up, did my makeup, and attempted to have a good time.
Two nights in a row, I felt a wave of hopelessness and emptiness that I couldn’t quite shake, that made me want to hide, that convinced me people would be better off without me.

Two nights in a row I was given a helping hand from a friend, who listened and stayed with me until the feelings passed.
Two nights in a row I overcame the hopeless thoughts and fractured self-image and ended up having a good time anyway.
After two nights in a row, I saw a pattern emerge.

I had always known that I had sudden, intense mood changes – but I also knew that these passed relatively quickly. In the past I would just leave, letting the changed mood ruin my night.

Now I see that I can overcome these difficult moments, especially with the help of friends and family.
Now I see that I can weather the storm.

Psychosis 

Possible trigger warning – painful imagery, descriptions of injury

I was riding in the car with my family on our way to a Sunday lunch. As far as I can recall everything was fine. That’s when it hit me. I had never felt so ashamed and abnormal. I felt like a freak.

A thought crossed my mind, completely randomly. You know the feeling of having a papercut? I can’t describe it because that means I need to think about it – but I’m sure everyone’s experienced one. I thought about a papercut, but across my eyes. I winced and closed my eyes.

It was like intrusive thoughts on steroids. It kept attacking me. In mindfulness, we are told to accept these thoughts and let them pass, but these thoughts were different. I could actually feel it. I could sense the pain and felt the recoil and response a body would have to being cut.

The thought of cutting my face and small cuts against my eyes kept appearing in my brain and I felt every single sensation. When I closed my eyes, I felt something pierce through my eyelids into my eyes.

My dad stopped the car, and my mom took my sisters into the restaurant. I was sobbing and screaming, “make it stop, make them go away!” When the thoughts passed for a while, my dad and I joined the rest of my family. The thought would come in and I would shudder and wince very obviously. I must have looked insane. I felt insane. I was insane.

I ran back to the car early so I could curl into a ball. I screamed and yelled but it wouldn’t stop. How do you make something go away that is in your head? How do you get away? You can’t.

This went on for 3 days. That’s not very long, but it felt like an eternity. Was I ever going to be normal again? My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept clutching and scratching at my face, trying to get the sensation of blades running across my face off. When my hands went to close to my face, I felt the sharp burning across my hands, so I recoiled. I was banging my head against walls. I was pacing in circles squeezing and hitting my head with my hands. I was humming loudly so my brain would register another sense besides pain.

All those horrible depictions of mental illness and psychosis you see on tv was my reality for those few days. You see people screaming and hitting themselves and scratching away at their face and it’s horrifying. You think it’s horrifying to watch? It’s even more horrifying to experience.

It hasn’t happened again since, but now I have a wider understanding of what others may go through. I can’t imagine going through that every single day. I don’t think anyone could.

I always say this: people with mental illnesses are having normal reactions to an abnormal situation. If any “normal” person was hearing voices, feeling sensations that weren’t there, or having visual hallucinations, I don’t think they’d fare too well either.

Idealization/devaluation

This post is dedicated to you. Not the post you probably even wanted, but it has the explanation you deserve.

In my last post I explored my tendency to resort to all-or-nothing thinking. I am aware that this is a huge problem I have and am usually hyper-vigilant about it. The problem is, I will either drift off into either extreme (which is still better than racing there full speed) or I will become overwhelmed at times, thus reducing my ability to regulate my tendency to split.

Here is a recent example of this. Idealization and devaluation are common defense mechanisms in individuals with BPD.

From the day we met, I was very careful not to let myself fall into this cycle with you. And I was doing a great job, considering you consistently challenged everything I had previously known. There are countless instances where I braced myself for the worst and nothing happened. So really, your biggest character flaws here are:

  1. Not being so insecure that you have to put me down
  2. Not being so insecure that you feel entitled to have control or power over me
  3. Not playing games and
  4. Not taking me for granted.

In other words you were a decent human being. How dare you.

I was really worried I would start idealizing you while you were here, but I can honestly say I didn’t. I will give myself props for staying level-headed. Whenever you proved another fear wrong, I truly appreciated it, and tucked it away to create new positive memories I could look back on. This whole situation was so encouraging because it showed me that all my hard work I have put in for years was paying off. It also showed me that good people do exist and that I should never accept anything less ever again. 

Then you left. No matter who it is, I always take goodbyes very hard. This goodbye was definitely extra difficult, though. After you left, stress started piling up slowly but steadily with school, other friends, people reappearing from the past, and my health. 

I had also been preparing to move overseas (which will be in less than a week). It will be the first time I will live away from home, my family, my support system. Sure, I’m only gone for 6 months, but understand that that is a really long time to go without therapy and support. I relapsed and overdosed last week, and this made my stress about moving skyrocket even more. I’ve been given this opportunity that will be amazing for my career, something that I’ve dreamed since the start of my graduate studies. I didn’t even think it was a possibility until after my PhD, and even then I was doubtful. But here I am, in my first year of being a PhD student, being given my very own project with this lab I admire so much as part of my dissertation. Despite all of this, I sometimes seriously consider backing out and not going because I don’t know if I will be able to make it.

Before, your validation was like a little treat. I didn’t need it, but getting it was always nice. When I began drifting back into a depression, I clung to anything that could lift my mood. 

I started thinking of you as the most amazing person who could fix everything and anything. I’m not trying to downplay how much you have supported me, my point is I was starting to rely on you too much, which is something you had noticed and pointed out too. Talking to you made me feel better, getting a message or one of your stupid snaps made my day and distracted me from the other stresses. All that hard work I had put into trying to prevent idealizing you was out the window.

My expectations of you had become too much by this point. I relied on you too much. And then things that never would have bothered me before became overwhelming. If you didn’t respond in a way I expected or didn’t respond at all, I was thrown right into devaluation – and I did not land gracefully at all. That’s it, he hates me, he’s horrible, he doesn’t care about me, I never want to talk to him again. This would happen multiple times in the span of a couple days. Sometimes you would be my favorite person ever in the morning and by night I was convinced I was through with you forever. 

The last straw was the day that I stumbled across the fact that you were connected to a painful piece of my past. What are the odds? My handle on the idealization/devaluation scale felt shakier and a lot more out of my control.

After this, everything became more confusing and tiring. My emotions became so big and out of my control, I felt like I was being whipped around incessantly. With each flip, I was hit harder and harder. It’s tough for me to know what to do when I feel such extreme emotions on both sides of the spectrum. It’s difficult to know how to weather the storm once I’m already caught up in the middle of it.

Eventually the painful moments overshadowed the good and I decided I had had enough. I cut our connections and told you I didn’t want to be your friend. My perception of our relationship was skewed because I was so overwhelmed, so tired, and I just wanted the pain to stop. I said a lot of things that were true but worded harsher than they needed to be. I said some things that echoed how I was feeling at the time, but definitely not throughout the majority of our time knowing each other. Honestly, I believed I would never talk to you again and after distancing myself I felt better. Then 12 hours passed and I realized that was not what I really wanted.

I considered everything we talked about and realized I had done that thing where I drifted off and started subconsciously splitting. I reevaluated and changed my expectations back to where they were initially. In the previous link, see the list of words that indicate splitting:

  • Always
  • Never
  • Impossible
  • Awful
  • Perfect
  • Ruined
  • Terrible

I think I said ‘I don’t think we were ever on the same page’, which is essentially another way of saying ‘never’. Other than that I think I did an alright job of not using too many dramatic words.

I think you’ll understand that I’m not asking you to condone my behavior – I want you to understand what was happening behind the scenes. I want you to know that I’m grateful for friends like you, who call me out and make me realize when I’m being unreasonable. These are the people who push me to become better.

Before, I was rambling and asking why you’d want to be my friend. Asking, ‘what have I ever done for you?’ I intermittently have these moments where I feel completely indebted to my friends because it feels like they are saving me and making such a big impact on my life, whereas I feel I do little to nothing for them.

In the end, I know that other people can’t save me or fix me. Any progress is my own doing; a result of my own hard work and resilience. And out of big moments of crisis and pain like this one, emerges a smarter, wiser, more determined version of myself. I am doing my best to build myself back up. There are people who love and care for me, and when I am in a healthy state of mind I definitely do not forget this. This has been a particularly large bump in the road, but I’m getting back on track. I will not make the same mistakes again. I would like things to go back to the way they were, and this time I’ll know how to diffuse the situation if things go south. However, I’m afraid that the damage has been done, so I will take a deep breath, back away, and give you (and I) some space.

HOW TO DESTROY A GIRLS SELF ESTEEM

TW: this post talks about/alludes to emotional abuse, suicide and sexual assault

  1. Target a vulnerable girl. Someone shy, already slightly insecure, depressed. Get her to open up to you. Shower her with attention and flattery. Write songs for her. Serenade her. Show her grand gestures of love. Make her feel beautiful and worth loving.
  2. As soon as you’ve caught her, there’s no need to try. Lie to her. Start reconnecting with your ex girlfriends and flirting with other girls. Tell her she’s possessive and clingy if she expresses discomfort. Hide your activity and sneak around behind her back. To really make it sting, be just a little careless – enough for her to find some information to be suspicious, but not enough for her to be certain.
  3. When she asks you about any of these things, deny. Even if you weren’t doing anything wrong, just lie for no reason at all. Lie to make her question everything you say. If she sees text messages between you and another girl, delete them and show her your phone again. Make her question her own sanity.
  4. Make sure she knows about how attractive you find other girls. Sometimes people you know, sometimes random models or actresses. Talk about how hot these girls are. Make lewd comments and lust over them openly in front of her. Click the like button on every photo you do this to. This will condition her to remember your reaction everytime she sees a guy like a picture of an attractive girl. The beauty of this is that you can then tell her she’s being jealous and clingy. And every future guy will say the same because they won’t know what you did to make her so insecure.
  5. Tell her how hot she would be if she only looked like those girls. Maybe if she had bigger breasts. If she worked out and got a little more muscular. If she just gained a little weight. Say it in a lighthearted tone, as if they are friendly suggestions and you’re just trying to help. Then there will always be a part of her wondering if she is being compared to others.
  6. Pressure her to sexually gratify you. Make her feel bad if she doesn’t. Make it seem like what you’re asking for is normal. Guilt her. How dare she kiss you and not want to do anything else? She has to finish what she started. No, not later – now. If all else fails, remember you’re a lot stronger than her – just hold her down, ignore that annoying crying and do what you need to do.
  7. If she breaks up with you, make her pay for it. You know she is scared to open up about her depression because she fears she will “infect” the people she loves. So all of a sudden, call her up one night and scream and yell and call her every name you can think of. She’s fucked up and she ruins everyone around her. Tell her she should be ashamed because now you’re depressed and suicidal and it’s all her fault. Tell her you’re going to self harm and kill yourself and it will be all her fault. You know she cares too much and she’s too nice to hang up the phone, so she stays up all night making sure you’re okay while you tell her how awful she is under a guise of hurt and self victimization.
  8. After she finally cuts you out, isolate her from all her friends. She has opened up about all her fears and flaws. Use these against her. Make yourself look like the victim. Make sure she has nobody. Make sure rumors about her keep spreading.
  9. Eventually, she’ll find new friends. She’ll move on and meet someone new. No worries, there’s other ways you can try to control her. Send her anonymous messages over text, Facebook, and on her blog. Taunt her and harass her by threatening to talk to her father, sister, or current boyfriend. She’ll block you, but be persistent. There are so many anonymous apps and platforms available for all your harassment needs.
  10. Make a fake Facebook and email under her name and try to turn people against her. She will be terrified. She will suspect it’s you, but since you’ve turned so many people against her she doesn’t know for sure anymore.
  11. Over the next few years, keep messaging her anonymously. A nice monthly tradition. Say encouraging things to her. Typical stuff like, “Happy New Year! Hope this is the year you finally kill yourself!” Give her comments out of the blue about her outfit or what she’s doing at that moment. This will make her feel on edge. She will constantly be looking over her shoulder or peeking out of windows, unsure of who’s watching her. She will be paranoid and afraid.
  12. Eventually you will give up the game, but don’t worry. The damage has been done. Even years later, she will still have these reactions ingrained in her. When she’s in a healthy, happy, consensual relationship she will sporadically remember how it felt when you forced yourself on her, feel a huge wave of dread and break down. She will always be actively fighting the nagging voice in her head saying, if only you looked more like her. If only you were prettier, fitter, curvier… She will always be suspicious of people’s motives, she will be unable to fully trust any guy. She will self destruct and sabotage relationships with people who truly care for her.

Congratulations! After wasting years bitterly holding a grudge, stalking, harrassing, and intimidating her, you’ve done it. Was it worth it?

Stigma hits like a ton of bricks

Warning: mentions of self-harm and suicide

Stigma surrounding mental illness can lead to devastating  consequences. People have lost their jobs, been shunned by their loved ones, or abandoned. Me, being as naïve as I was, thought that stigma was mainly an issue in the general population. Silly me, thinking that doctors would be trained in treating various medical problems in an unbiased manner.

2 years ago, I was woken up by my mother one morning. She told me that my cousin and best friend (basically my sister) was in the hospital because she had attempted suicide. Fortunately, she got the help she needed. I was angry. Really angry. Not at her, of course. Angry because this was another reminder of how things could have gone for me, if the stigma wasn’t there.

Similarly, about 5 years ago, I also landed myself in the hospital. When I finally got to see a doctor, the first thing I remember was him asking general questions about my life and how I was feeling. He seemed a little rushed and abrupt, but still nice enough. I was already on edge, and feeling uneasy. I remember thinking, there are actually people dying and seriously injured and I’m wasting his time. I need to get out of here. Why am I even here?

He asked me if I had an “official diagnosis.” I told him I was diagnosed with depression… oh, and also that other thing – borderline personality disorder. The second that came out of my mouth, I knew something was wrong. I froze over as I watched his demeanor completely change. He gave me a smug smile that will unfortunately always be branded into my memory and asked, “do you agree with that diagnosis?”

Excuse me? I was completely taken off guard, I didn’t even expect being asked that. I didn’t even really know much about it. When I was initially diagnosed, I latched onto the diagnosis of depression because I knew what it was. So truthfully I didn’t know much about BPD. I didn’t even know what stigmas were associated with BPD.

When I gave him a hesitant “yes”, he began interrogating me. “Are you sure? Do you even know the symptoms of BPD? Do you agree with the diagnosis?” I just kept saying yes, hoping he’d let me go. He laughed. Then he said, “huh, that’s really funny. People with BPD usually don’t agree with their diagnosis.”

At this point I was overwhelmed and confused and I was sobbing and I kept saying to him, “why are you saying that?! What are you doing? Do you think I’m lying? What do you want me to say?”

He called me melodramatic. He downplayed my self harm scars. I felt trapped by this doctor, who seemed to want nothing more than to prove that all my problems were trivial.

I don’t even know how long I was there, but by the end I felt like I had aged. I felt a little more weary, and a lot more broken. At the end he knelt down so he was eye to eye with me, and said, “now, we aren’t going to see you back here again right?”

No. I’m not coming back next time. Next time I’m suicidal I am definitely just going to kill myself. That’s for sure.

And that’s what I really felt. The hospital was my last resort to save myself and this interaction proved that people like me, people with BPD, apparently do not deserve that treatment. Thank goodness my parents arrived. Thank goodness they are as supportive as they are. Thank goodness they acted quickly and put my mental health first. They hid away all my pills and sharp objects. They watched me day and night. I am so grateful.

After this happened, I immediately began researching more about BPD. I found so many heartbreaking posts. “Borderline Personality: The Disorder That Doctors Fear Most” published in TIME magazine. Individuals with BPD are “manipulative” or “drama queens”. They ruin the lives of everyone around them. People in relationships with them need to be saved. They are lost causes that can never be helped.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is often viewed in negative terms by mental health practitioners and the public. The disorder may have a stigma associated with it that goes beyond those associated with other mental illnesses. The stigma associated with BPD may affect how practitioners tolerate the actions, thoughts, and emotional reactions of these individuals. It may also lead to minimizing symptoms and overlooking strengths.

Source: Borderline personality disorder, stigma, and treatment options. Aviram et al., 2006.

There has been incredible progress over reducing stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. There are a lot of people speaking out, celebrities and role models speaking out. But we don’t have that for BPD. I don’t have someone I look up to who has gone through BPD. Whenever I read on forums where people discuss relationships, do you know how disheartening it is to read comments like, “what a fucking psycho, she definitely has BPD”?

Like I said before, when I looked into my BPD diagnosis, a lot of things fell into place. I was mistreated because the doctor made assumptions about me, my motives, and my character based on the stigma surrounding BPD. These stigmas are not me. But because they exist, I was stomped on by a healthcare system that was supposed to save me.