Who Am I?

One thing that seems to be extremely common for someone with borderline personality disorder, is the lack of ‘self’. Something that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. It’s not knowing who you are at the end of the day, and it sucks so badly.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Identity Problems

I know my sexuality, I know how I feel about certain issues, and that’s just about where it stops.

If you were to ask me my favorite color 6 times today. Each time I could say a different color. Who I am as I write this could be a completely different ‘me’ if you had me write this in a few hours.

To anyone who knows me, they might be shocked. One thing I’ve always been ‘firm’ on…is who I am. Which, in reality, was me trying to convince myself. I have no idea who I am, and I haven’t for a very long time. I gravitated towards dark colors as a shield. Black goes with everything- therefor, there was no right or wrong. It can be casual, dressy, whatever. Just as I blend in with those that surround me many times.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

I’ve discussed them broadly, I believe, but I don’t think I delved into personal details.

  1. Impulsive behaviors– Back in high school, this was me. I smoked in the school bathroom, I cut school, I was involved in some B&Es, and theft. Is that who I am? I always joked that it was simply because it was genetic. That we just attract trouble. Was it really me? Or was I just driven to be impulsive? I take responsibility for my actions, I do. I’m not looking for excuses. I just honestly see those memories as someone else. I remember them, but I can’t recall the feelings. I can picture each event, but placing myself there is another story.
  2. Fear of being alone or abandoned even when the threat is not real– This one is major for me. Ask any of my close friends and they will tell you that a constant message/text they get from me is ‘I think that *insert name* is pulling away’ or ‘I don’t think they want to be my friend anymore’. As a result, I’ve put up with a lot of shit so I don’t lose people. Even when I logically know someone is busy, or having a rough time, I’m terrified.
  3. Dependent of others– I’ve never lived on my own. I depend on my husband 100%. I won’t even try to deny that. I don’t have a license, and even if we did? I’d still wait for him to go with me.
  4. Fear of rejection– Reason #1 that I won’t make a new dating profile. I found one for Anthony and I, and I keep putting it off. I keep making excuses.
  5. Make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment– I admit that I will push people away. I don’t even realize I’m doing it at the time. I’m just so fucking scared of losing people.
  6. Have a pattern of difficult relationships caused by alternating between extremes of intense admiration and hatred of others– Before my husband, my longest relationship was 6 months. Yep.
  7. Act impulsively in ways that are self-damaging, such as extravagant spending, frequent and unprotected sex with many partners, substance abuse, binge eating or reckless driving– I was diagnosed with binge eating. I’m not an alcoholic, but if it’s in the house, it’s all I want. I’ve made the conscious choice to try to only have it in the house 1-2 weekends a month. There was a weekend at one point when the kids were gone where I was barely sober. I’ve never been drunk, but it does help me relax. I love sex. Not gonna lie. I’ve slept with 13 or 14 people in my life so far, and it never seems to be enough. Is that me craving affection? Is it wanting acceptance? Sex has been a huge part of who I am since I was 15. To the point that I was even more lost than usual when we shifted from 1 kid, to 2. One of whom is clingy AF.
  8. Have recurring suicidal thoughts, make repeated suicide attempts or cause self-injury through mutilation, such as cutting or burning himself or herself– I started cutting myself when I was 14, and it was a daily thing until I was 19. It’s an addiction, and it’s hard as fuck to break. I have some of my scars covered with a tattoo, but not nearly close to all of them yet. Suicidal thoughts happen often, to the point where I just brush them off now. If they get bad, I write it out, and cry myself to sleep.
  9. Have inappropriate, fierce anger or problems controlling anger. The person may often display temper tantrums or get into physical fights– No explanation needed here. I have anger issues.

I’ve kept this part of myself tucked away for so long, away from the eyes of people I know that while reading this they may not know what to think. They may say that it can’t be true. I once told someone- I’m an actress, and life is my play. I have to be.

A friend of mine on Facebook had this to ask:

I’d like to know how you deal with this in terms of being a parent! When A is with her dad for the summer I have a terrible time with knowing who I am when I am not taking care of her. It’s easy for me to just exist as Mom. But when I’m not Mom, I have like, an identity crisis and overall my symptoms of my BPD get a lot worse. Do you ever feel similar?

Which was a fucking good question in my opinion. I rarely see anything besides anxiety and depression talked about when it comes to motherhood. And we need to change that. Many mothers are outside that little box.

I feel more centered, sadly, when the kids aren’t home. I love having them around. I fucking love my kids to death. With them, though, I’m reminded of the mother I wanted to be, and the one that will never exist. I see everything that I’m doing wrong. I’m constantly questioning myself.

When they aren’t home, I move about almost like a zombie, but I can shut down. I can veg and watch true crime as much as I want, or game. I can do everything in my power to take my mind off of everything that goes wrong, can go wrong, and will go wrong.

Every moment I could break. I could have a meltdown, and need to hide it. I don’t want them seeing that. I don’t want them to know how fucked in the head mommy is. They know that I’m ‘sick’, and that my brain doesn’t work right, but I don’t go into detail.

To them, mommy taking pills is normal.

To them, mommy needing a nap is normal.

To them, the house going into chaos now and then is normal.

To them, having days where we all just snack all day is normal.

To them, they will never know ‘normal’. Only some sad variation of it where some days I can barely function enough to parent all the way to cleaning everything in site and making everything from scratch.

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Diagnosis Five: BPD

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide.

While mental health experts now generally agree that the label “borderline personality disorder” is very misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.– National Institute of Mental Health

Saved the best for last lol

This is honestly something that I had never in my life heard of until I was given my diagnosis. The day before my birthday, at that. November 15, 2013.

When I was 13, I was given a diagnosis of bipolar. That diagnosis was changed, however, when I finally saw a therapist that was more interested in work and progress than just sitting and talking for an hour. Of course, my thought was ‘of course, I’m fucking insane’. I felt it. I still do at times.

It’s only been the past 6 months or so that I’ve done more research, reaching out to others with the same diagnosis. I felt isolated and alone before that. No matter how much you explain to someone, they will never understand. Not unless they have been through it.

Also from the NIMH:

People with BPD may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

Other symptoms include

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

That’s my mind. Some days are mild, and I feel *almost* normal. Others, I want to bang my head against a wall to make it stop. Anything to block everything out.

BPD has historically been viewed as difficult to treat. However, with newer and proper treatment, many people with BPD experience fewer or less severe symptoms and an improved quality of life.–NIMH

Incurable is what this is. It’ll never go away. And while that is a very daunting thought, to be 50 and hit with a bad day. The idea of living like I am at the moment for the rest of my life makes it hard to face it. It makes me wonder why. What is the point of life, when you don’t live, but simply survive?

I am fighting back. I’m going to therapy, I’m on medications, we’re working on our diets, and trying to tackle the hard days with understanding.

My therapist was in awe that I’ve been with my husband so long, as many aren’t able to last. Before him my longest relationship was 6 months. It takes someone strong, but understanding, and flexible to love someone like me. I’m not speaking for everyone else with BPD, either. I’m a very hard person to deal with. I can barely tolerate myself most days, and yet- he does it with no complaints.

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Diagnosis Four: Severe Anxiety

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.National Institute of Mental Health

While some people think of anxiety as an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach or the fear they feel when standing atop a high building, severe anxiety symptoms can be much worse and downright terrifying. Symptoms of severe anxiety can create the feeling of a heart attack or even make you feel like you’re dying.Healthy Place

While this is likely the one that I’m most familiar with, it’s also the one that is hardest to describe. It effects every part of my being, and has robbed me of many life experiences, and holds me back from so much.

The therapist that leads my group therapy says it’s clever how my husband and I have worked around it. To me, it’s not. It’s not clever to be forced to plan things based on how many people will be somewhere. It simply feeds into my OCD tendencies.

Thursdays are shopping days. We do the same thing every Thursday- leave the house about 8, get gas and snacks, hit Walmart, Winn Dixie, then home.

Last Thursday I had group. I was torn. I wanted, and needed, to go to therapy. However, I nearly had a panic attack. THURSDAYS ARE SHOPPING DAYS! Was how my mind was screaming at me. The thought of doing anything different made me want to throw up.

We wound up doing shopping as we didn’t have enough gas for me to go, so I avoided a possible breakdown. If something is done on a certain day for so long, doing anything but will hit me hard. I hate it.

School orientation? Nope. Too busy. Concerts? Ha. Fat chance. I have two kids. Both of them are out going, fun loving individuals. It kills me that I can’t do some things with them because I am stuck with this shit. It’s not fair to them. They’ve done nothing to deserve this.

I made it to his school orientation last year, and wanted to bolt the entire time. I just wanted to get the fuck out of dodge.

I miss when I was younger. I didn’t have this problem.

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Hobbies and Coping

I don’t work. Well, I don’t get dressed and go deal with the public everyday. I do ‘work’. I’m a stay at home mother of two. Right now, it’s summer vacation. While my son is currently at my mom’s, I still have to pony up for my 4 year old.

My son has ADHD. My daughter just has a strong personality. Put them together, and it’s either amazing watching them together, or it’s enough to make everyone in a 20 mile radius choose to never reproduce.

I don’t find my escape in motherhood like some may.

I write. That’s my biggest escape, and the best way I’ve been dealing with strong emotions. I run a blog with my best friend, and it does pretty well. There’s no money to be made from it, really, but I do enjoy it. I write pain the best. That’s my little comfort zone. Making people cry, and getting those big replies is what I do. And I love it. I love getting people to feel beyond the usual happy, disappointed, or angry. I enjoy making them feel that, and more. Give them a range of emotions so that it leaves them thinking long after they’ve read it.

I used to draw. I used to read. I used to go hang out with friends. So much ‘I used to’.

Of course, I use unhealthy coping mechanisms, as well, but that’s for another day. Out of everything I used to use to cope, writing is all I have left.

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Diagnosis Three: Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.National Eating Disorders

Growing up, I knew nothing of mental illness, eating disorders, or abuse.

I never knew that I had an issue with food. I just thought I really liked it. Looking back, after the diagnosis, I don’t know how no one saw it. How I never saw it as years went on and I learned about them.

As a child, I could easily eat an extra large pizza in one sitting, by myself. How did no one stop me? How did no one see how unhealthy that was?

Food was always my comfort, resulting in me weighing in at 220 pounds at just 12 years old. I turned to food to comfort me from hating myself. It was a vicious cycle.

When I was 17, I limited my food intake as much as I possibly could. At school I’d have a very plain salad, and that’s it. The days that I was at my then-girl friend’s house, I’d eat something small, only to appease her. This went on for just over a month before I broke, eating everything I could get my hands on.

Knowing that I’ve been dealing with this since childhood is both shocking, and not surprising. The fact that I started so young, and went so long without people noticing is the shocking part. I’m not surprised because I always knew I had an issue with food.

I’ve tried to lose weight so many times, and always failed. I couldn’t fight being drawn to food, and I’d feel so guilty afterwards. Like I’d failed.

I’m currently at my highest weight ever. 253 pounds. Seeing that number disgusts me. It makes me want to cry, to hide away so no one has to see me.

I was given Vyvance to help with my binge eating while in group therapy. I’m not hoping for a miracle, but working on it is a start.

Even if I’m full, I will keep eating. Because it’s so good. Or I don’t want to waste it. Or a million other reasons. I’ll tell myself ‘just one more bite’, but I can’t stop. I feel sick afterwards, like I’m going to throw up. I feel groggy, and I feel ashamed.

Admittedly, I hid my binging well at times. I was ashamed to be a fat girl standing up and saying that I have a major problem with food. Well, duh. It’d be stating the obvious.

I’ve spent my entire life hating who I am- especially for my weight. I’d like to get some control over it. I don’t want to be some skinny thing. Just comfortable.

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Diagnosis Two: OCD tendencies

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.National Institute of Mental Health

As many, I thought you either had OCD, or you didn’t. I didn’t think there was an in between. My old therapist explained it that I needed something to control, and I latched on to that. She said that mine wasn’t exactly ‘detrimental’ or a hindrance to my daily life, so she wasn’t concerned.

OCD tendencies mean that you may be showing some of the symptoms of OCD but do not meet the criteria to be diagnosed with the disorder.

She asked when I started this, and I told her I was about 15 at the time. For the longest time I would get teased, as my actions seemed outrageous. To me, however, I can’t do it any other way.

  1. Our closet is divided into two areas- casual and work.
  2. ANY shirt or tank top with a decal of some kind on the front is hung up.
  3. Casual clothes go on black hangers only.
  4. Work clothes on white only.
  5. Both are sorted by color (white, grey, black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and tans/browns).
  6. Shirts and jeans are separated.
  7. Our DVDs/books/games have to be in alphabetical order (we once had over 100 and one was out of place. I had to redo the entire thing).
  8. Shirts have to be folded a certain way. I will refold the same shirt as many times as I have to- even if they wind up hung up.
  9. Two plates/bowls of the same color cannot be touching.
  10. I cannot have glasses and coffee mugs on the same shelf.
  11. My cupboards are done just so, and if one thing is off, I rage clean the entire thing.
  12. I refuse to use the hot air blowers in public restrooms.
  13. I avoid even using a public restroom at all costs.
  14. I have a shower schedule that I need to follow (what days, and what order I do things in).
  15. Certain foods cannot touch.
  16. Even numbers only when it comes to volume.
  17. No red soups.
  18. I have to have sugar in my sauce.
  19. Apps on my phone are sorted by what I use on one screen, what’s used less on another. Both in alphabetical.
  20. My make up has to be sorted just so- i.e. my lipstick cannot be touching/with my eyeshadows.

That’s what I could think of. But, so much is second nature to me that I may have missed some things.

While it may not seem like those are major things- they add up. I won’t let people do things because they’d do it wrong. I’d have to redo it for peace of mind. I avoid things like the plague because I know I’ll never get it perfect. Which leads to chaos, which triggers my anxiety, and then I rage clean. Rinse, repeat. It’s exhausting. Everything requires a thought process. And then I get annoyed when I’m nodding off in the middle of the day. My brain is tired, and yelling at me to rest.

“Have you ever just stopped doing *insert behavior here*?” I hate that. I have, and I gave myself a panic attack. It’s not that simple. I’m sure others who really have full blown OCD might scoff at such things, but to me, they are major. They take a great deal of work, making all housework take 10x as long.

I don’t want to have to do things a certain way. I don’t want to be so ‘picky’. I don’t want to watch someone like a hawk to make sure they’re doing things right. But, this has been life for so long that I can’t picture my life without these needs.

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Diagnoses One: PTSD

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.National Institute of Mental Health

Many people equate PTSD with soldiers, when in fact, most of the people who suffer from it are survivors of childhood abuse. I’m one of the latter.

I’ll refer to people involved by the first initial of their first name- unless two are the same, then one will be the first letter of both their first and middle names.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it all started, but I know it was when I was very young. R came into my life for good when I was about two years old. I know that for as long as I can remember, I loathed him and feared him.

He drilled it into my head how I should behave- because I’m a girl. For years, he mentally and emotionally abused myself, and my mother. I wanted to go to Duke University from a young age. It was one of my dreams. I was a girl who loved fun, loved hanging out with my friends, had many dreams, and hope. Over time, R chipped away at that. Little by little.

I didn’t know what emotional and mental abuse were until years later. Even then, I never put the two together with how he treated us. I could do nothing right. I was in the wrong for everything. No crying, no speaking up, etc.

Years came and went, and I started acting out when I was about 13. I didn’t care. Nothing anyone did stopped me. There was this hole that I couldn’t fill.

The first time I cut, I was 14. Nothing major. I don’t even remember why, to be honest. Little did I know that would be my first addiction. Every day for 5 years I bled. Every day for 5 years, I called myself weak for not going deeper. For not just ending it all. Oh, I planned. Over and over. I planned how I wanted to die, and was always too scared. What if I failed? How much shit would I be in? Was all I could think.

The last time I saw, or spoke, to R…I was 17. Just hearing his voice made it feel like I had rocks in my stomach.

Life got worse. And worse.

When I was 18, I was living with J. I blacked out. When I came to, the bathroom was covered in blood, and I was in the middle of it. J was pissed that he had to clean it up, and bandage my arms. Not once did he show any type of concern for me.

The first time I tried to get clean, I was 18. It’s hard. People don’t connect cutting with addiction, but it is. The longest I’ve gone without since then was 2-3 years. That’s it. 14 years I’ve been struggling with this. 14 years of being an addict to something that I used to turn to when I could hear R in my head. Putting me down, mocking me, and more. When I could hear him screaming in the other room, over the music blaring from my headphones.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I was diagnosed. I didn’t think before that that I’d ever be told I’d have that. Just like many others, I associated PTSD with war, and the military. I was wrong.

It does involve a war, a war in your head.

I saw his picture one day, and had a panic attack. I haven’t seen R in 11 years, and he still reduced me to that. I shut down, and it felt like my world was coming down around me.

I’d always held this gut feeling that he’d done more, but never voiced my thoughts. I was wrong. I had to be. No one would believe me. No one would believe the mental case, right?

Finally, I did. I told my mother about the thoughts I had, and had it confirmed. He’d also sexually abused me. To what manner, I’ll never know. I don’t remember much before the age of about 6-7. It hurts to try, so I don’t.

Finding that out hit hard. In fall of 2012, I was raped by someone I thought was a friend. With those two things on my shoulders, I went through what I’m sure many did. Blaming themselves. Thinking they deserved it. I still struggle with thinking anything different.

I know that I need to face these things to move past them, but all I want is to lock them away and forget about them.

I’m still a victim. I live every day with the consequences of one person. I’m scared, and I’m broken. The smallest things can send me spiraling into a mess of a person. Leaving me in a state of depression and suicidal thoughts for days. Anger overflowing at the life that I once wanted. The personality that was buried, and died somewhere along the way. Thoughts race through my head, adding fuel to my rage.

How is this fair? How can he live happily while I have to fight to make it through the day? How can he walk into public  while being such a monster, where the thought of being around more than a handful of people scares me more than I can describe? How can he be so happy when I’m far from the mother my kids deserve? The mother I hoped to be? Why does he get to actually live, while I have to think every action through. Will drinking this finally be the time I become an alcoholic? Will I fall back into smoking? Will I relapse again? Will I have a panic attack while shopping? Will tomorrow be a bad day? Will tomorrow go fairly smoothly?

I am constantly on guard. And it’s not fair. I finally sucked it up and asked for help.

I don’t expect to be some outgoing person. All I want is to live without all the shit that comes from years of abuse. To be able to get my license. To make phone calls for myself. To get a job. To not need to walk away from doing dishes because the knives are right there. I want to live! Not just fucking survive.

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