Someone on reddit posted this: [https://www.reddit.com/r/BPD/comments/3o42jy/still_unsure_whether_i_am_actually_sick_or_just/]. Speaking up about their own feelings of invalidation over their illness.
I started writing a comment, and then realised that as always I was going to start babbling. It really made sense just to get it down in words for myself and babble where it’s safe.
The idea that my illness was ‘all in my mind’ was something I contended with even when I didn’t have a diagnosis of BPD, but was made to feel like I was, in the words of the psychiatrist I saw when I was 20, ‘just depressed’. At the time I didn’t know much about other possibilities and had posed to him the idea that I might have Bipolar.
I’ve started to wonder if the biggest issue with Borderline is a kind of self-awareness that you have of the people you can be. When I look back on my 10 year career, I realise first of all, how understanding my first boss was, without him knowing that I have BPD or even really accepting that there was an issue. I was surrounded by people who, now that I think about it, accepted me as that person who was capable of fulfilling their task without fault, but also had flashes of time when it was just impossible. I had colleagues that I could work almost perfectly with, because I was so sure of myself, the task and the children that I was working with – but even then I had ‘bad’ days and they were understanding enough of the depressive state to accept that as the ‘issue’.
I had the type of job where no two days were ever the same. Sometimes I walked into the building with a very clear-cut idea of what I would achieve as an ‘I.T Technician’ of sorts, only to be told that several people were off sick, so could I be a teaching assistant in this class with a teacher I didn’t really know for one lesson and then spend the rest of the day in the office.
Those days were the hardest, only until I got over the anxiety that I didn’t know how those teachers wanted me to act. Especially in the later months of my employment, when there was a change of management, I struggled with the concept of not knowing expectations, and people – in the way I know so many others with BPD will relate – that I ended up having far too many days off work. I just couldn’t cope with being in an environment where I knew nothing, and was expected to live up to my own expectations! How could I possibly function properly in a classroom of people I knew nothing about. I hadn’t coded them yet. Were they people I could trust, or not?
My biggest issue has always been the unknown, and now I find it easy to admit that I cannot read people, and I hate it. I cannot read their intents, I cannot read their laughter, or their emotions.
I went through a period of time where, even now I feel sure I could sense that there was something wrong. It didn’t even have to be something wrong with me, but of course I found it very easy to find a fault in myself that ‘must’ have been the cause of their unfamiliar behaviour. It landed me, and someone I worked closely with in a very difficult situation and I’m still not quite sure how I could have made it better. I wanted to be strong, to learn how to accept that I could be doing something wrong without it being the ‘I’ was wrong. I was so scared of not fitting in, and of being told that this environment that I had grown to believe was ‘the’ place for me that to take criticism of any kind was such an emotional rollercoaster. I don’t even want to say rollercoaster – it would be more like being tossed off a mountain top and being made to feel every rock as I tumbled right down to the bottom.
I’ve spent many an hour thinking about that situation and wondering how I could change myself so that I wasn’t making people worried to correct me, and I think I’m slowly realising and coming to understand that it’s me. The problem is me, and that’s what’s so frustrating about BPD. You can be so self-aware, and at the same time it’s like if you stepped out of yourself for a minute to look, you might as well be looking at some kind of alien species instead of seeing the you that you think you know so well.
I’m aware that I’m hypersensitive, and I’m aware that I don’t ‘fit’ in so many social situations despite my best efforts. I’m aware that I look for connections with people so I can feel attached to them, and I feel every single difference acutely, as if those things are a threat to friendships and relationships. As if the fact that someone enjoys rock climbing means that we can never be friends because I’m really not a rock climber right now, but I could be! I could be a rock climber too if I went on a diet and lost weight and went rock climbing, I could be that person too! We could be friends.
I’m babbling, but I’m sure there’s a point in here somewhere. There’s a connection to those feelings of fakery. Despite all this, and this is just the way I’m feeling right now, on a good day when I know the only two people I have to please are my Mum and my Step-Dad and there is no one else who will make a surprise phone call, or a home visit. I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll ‘feel able to work’ in a few days when work starts up again because there is no work. I’m safe.
Not completely safe though, because every night when I go to bed the thoughts start up. When I stop distracting myself with ‘things’, that’s when the memories of ‘before’ start and the things I did wrong, and the people I hurt, and the words I said, and the things I didn’t do.
I also wonder if some of those ‘fake’ feelings come from a place where you are safe. It’s because you aren’t working, and don’t have the constant worry about where your next paycheque is coming from, or whether your boss is going to sack you for that thing you said the other day to someone who doesn’t even know where you work. It’s because after a period of ‘protecting’ yourself from the ‘elements’, you feel a little better about things. You know you can work. You know you have amazing days. There are days when there is NO ONE who can do the job better than you. In fact, why don’t they just clone you a few times and you could do the job of all those people you work with and get it done better than them!
The idea is actually kind of sickening. That you can feel this way about people you care about, people you call your friends and colleagues that you would like to spend time with outside of work. What kind of person does that make you anyway? Then on those really bad days, it’s easy to tell yourself that they’re all thinking the same thing of you. When thinking about the people you love and care about is agony, because you think they like you – but you’re so aware of how you can hate them, what’s to say they don’t feel the same way about you?
I’ve spent time with a best friend, sat in my living room wishing that they would just go home and leave me alone – but been unable to say the words. So, what’s to say that in those moments where you want nothing more than to spend time with them – that they don’t want the same thing from you? Just fuck off and leave me alone already! I love my friends. They are all the most amazing people, for what they do, the way they think, their quirkiness and their every day ‘being’. I love them all, and I know they must be my friend for some reason, but I wish I knew what it was.
This is really turning into babble now.
I just want to be okay in the decisions I’m going to make. I’m scared. I feel fake every time I make that call into work to say I can’t make it in. I feel fake every time I have a complete and utter melt down. I feel fake every time I start thinking about that one day where I did that thing and it turns into that spiral that sometimes I feel like I can control and other times, I just can’t. It starts, and then in seconds you’re there at the bottom and the only thing you can think is ‘why am I even here?’ Anything else feels like a desperate attempt to deny all the bad things you know about yourself, and forget all the people you’ve hurt.
I don’t want to end this on a bad note, but I’m quickly losing interest in this entire blog post because it’s gone so far off course and I’m a writer – so I should be able to reign it back, but my impulsive tendencies dictate that I can’t ‘leave’ something to edit and post later. My brain doesn’t work like that.
Everything will be okay. It’s going to be okay.