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Ask about BPD: Dissociation, Derealization and Depersonalization

Does anyone else feel like life almost isn’t actually happening? Like you’re a part in a movie, playing out a role, following a script & switching to different “characters” based on your mood?

To answer your question briefly, yes. In fact, many of us face these feelings at some point in our lives. The feeling that you can’t possibly be living out the current situation in ‘real life’ is actually more common than you might think. Oftentimes, this happens when the reality we’re faced with disagrees with the reality we hope for. If you’re a fan of reading subtitles for the entire duration of a movie, Guillermo del Torro wrote and directed a brilliant portrayal of this very premise with his 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth. Without giving up any spoilers, the basic premise is that a young Spanish girl named Ofelia finds herself escaping to an eerie fantasy land to play out the part of a legendary lost princess.

Even though these feelings of derealization and depersonalization are often brought on in response to trauma (this happens to as high as an estimated 66% of the population), as many as 5% of the population experience this on a day to day basis. I experienced this quite a bit as a child. My life lacked the similarities to the lives of my friends. We didn’t have much money, my parents were often absent, and I lived in what seemed to be constant discord with my siblings. This obviously had to be the setting of an archetypal movie in which I played the underdog protagonist. In some ways, this helped. It helped me adopt a kind of ‘what would the hero do’ approach to difficult situations. Sure, the hero in my movie absolutely wrecked the set and left the plot largely unresolved, but it was helpful to me to think that maybe this was all an elaborate setup for my movie’s defining moment. The hero needed to learn.

As it turns out, however, my movie has no script, no writers, producers or directors. There are no gaffers or set builders scurrying about to construct an elaborate dreamscape. There is only me and this ‘stock’ world. This realization has turned out to actually be quite beneficial to me. I now realize that the havoc I wreak is not easily repaired by a set-builder. I am responsible for the repairs in my life, and I am far from a master craftsman. The rebuild takes time and effort, and many times things never go back to how they were. I have begun to learn the importance of taking pause.

If you’ve never read the book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, go out and buy a copy and thank me later. If you have, in fact, read it as a kid, go back and read it again–it totally holds up. The protagonist of the book meets a character called the Dodecahedron who has 12 different faces he uses to convey different emotions. The difference between you and the Dodechedron is that you’re not limited to 12 faces. You’re allowed to express however you’re feeling with or without the aid of characters, or prefabricated faces. I don’t buy into the notion that we can change our mood on a dime, but I DO wholeheartedly feel that we can do a thing or two about it. If you dislike the characters you find yourself playing, remember that you are the author of this story every bit as much as you are the Dodechedron. This is your story, and you exist to write it, not to add commentary and deliver lines from a script that somebody else wrote.

If you’re not currently seeing a therapist, I’d recommend booking an appointment. I firmly believe that everybody needs to talk it out with a pro every month or so. Tell them that you’re experiencing bouts of depersonalization, derealization and dissociation . . . The Three D’s. Remember that you developed these skills to cope, but sometimes our coping mechanisms continue beyond their usefulness. When that happens, it’s time to modify the script.

Christmas with BPD

A Word of warning – if you’re feeling at all dapper or cheerful about 2016’s upcoming Christmas, most likely not a good idea for you to continue any further…

 

Christmas’s have always been a very bad time for me. I was never “allowed” to have them as a kid, and I have grown up not celebrating those or Birthdays (birthdays were also a forbidden thing).

With every coming Xmas, it seems my insides begin to turn even more than the previous one, with the oncoming explosion of ridiculous festivities, “family get-together” and everything else that encompasses the “stupid season”.

For someone like myself who identifies Christmas and Birthdays with trauma, bad times and loneliness, it’s upsetting and triggering to see so many people “faking” it every year just for the sake of the family or friends that they feel they need to impress in order to fit in.

Growing up, Christmas was something I dreaded every fucking year, it made me feel sick and empty inside every year – sometimes weeks prior to it even coming. As soon as I would see the decorations and stuff going up outside people’s houses, or the shops selling all the “festive” gear, my heart sank.

As I have grown older, it’s become a tremendously triggering time of year, filled with dread and a deep sickness which envelops my whole body.  Now instead of drinking myself into a lonely stupor for days on end (as I did 10-12 years ago), I am more inclined to lock myself in a room for two-three days until the ridicule dies down and fucks off permanently for yet another year.

Why does Christmas affect me in such negative ways? I have pondered on this each year at the same time, and have not really come up with a definitive answer, but perhaps the truth lies in how Christmas was presented (or in my case NOT presented) to me as a child? Sometimes I have wondered what it would have been like to have lived through Christmas’s as a “normal” child, but that idea is completely foreign to me. I cannot even imagine it (and I have a large imagination!).

I believe that those of us who suffer at Christmas and birthdays (and there are a lot of us), should be considered carefully by those who are celebrating and forming/re-forming bonds with friends and family. What about those of us who have no friends or family? That’s me, for sure, and a lot of other people are in the same (or a similar boat).

For those who “celebrate” Christmas, it may be the happiest time of the year for them, but for me it’s the worst, and it always has been. I sometimes spend the whole 11 months prior thinking about how I’m going to make it through another one.

I see Christmas not only as an over-hyped excuse to get drunk and celebrate a story (come on, let’s be honest!), but also as a time of year which holds dozens of different psychological triggers for me. This is my own personal opinion and experience with Christmas, I wish it wasn’t, but there’s nothing I can do to put back 40 years of Xmas, or to make up for them.

The idea that people somewhere are enjoying themselves with a “loving family” is somewhat foreign to me also, It’s something I have never experienced, and no longer wish for (I stopped wishing for that at around 7 years of age when I realized also that prayers did not work).

Everything that Christmas represents (right back to its roots) infuriates and enrages me to the point of almost over boiling. I find it (the older I get) increasingly hard to deal with, so that proves the old “theory” of things getting better with time – bullshit too.

I may be seen (by some) to be a Christmas Grinch, I am happy with that – I find the Grinch character to be incredibly cute, and if you look back into His/It’s history you’ll probably find reasons behind why he hated this time of year so much too.

From the age of 12-14, as I my high school was putting up their shitty Christmas decorations and trees, I was always asked to be exempt from any involvement, it was upsetting for me to see and be a part of something which I could never have and celebrate like the others, but it also excluded me and made me seem (to others) like an outcast.

If I think really hard over the past 30-so years, I can probably write a whole book detailing what Christmas means to me, and why I have avoided it like the plague for 40 years. Some might find this hard to deal with, but it’s a reality for some people (me included).

More things need to be put into helping (early on) people with BPD who do not experience Christmas for whatever reason – as a child I could have benefited with early counseling to deal with my feelings around Christmas, and the neglect of it, but I was forbidden from talking about my life with anyone – until now.

Sure, there are various “neighborhood houses” and places which offer free Xmas dinners etc. for people who don’t want to be on their own, but that makes me feel like a homeless person (no offense at all, I have been homeless before, and it’s yet another triggering thing). So, I am kind of damned if I do, or don’t really.

As a child I dreamed of going on road trips at Christmas time, with a different family than my own, I wished every year (when I believed in Santa) that he would take me away on his sleigh on Christmas Eve and give me to a family that actually wanted a child, regardless of his defects and “issues”. It never happened, so I stopped believing very early on (probably at about age 7). It broke a lot of dreams for me, and forced me to accept life for the way it was going to be, WAY before I should have had to.

Had I been given the same (or slightly similar) opportunities of other kids, I would have not probably been affected by grief and loss the way I am today, I would have had better understanding of how to deal with it.

I apologize to everyone who finds this post offensive, blasphemous, or disheartening, it is not the intention of it.

What this post should do is force you to pause whilst you’re chowing down on your Christmas dinner or opening a gift – and just think for a moment about people who have never and can never experience what you are about to.

Scott

My Mother Stole my Identity.

Disclaimer. This post speaks truthfully and honestly about parental abuse and its long term effects on our development and BPD.

My Mother Stole My Identity. An Open Letter to the Woman who Ruined my Life.

 People often say they (or someone they know) are “having an identity crisis”. The true meaning of an identity crisis though can mean different things for different people.

Usually it means a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.

BUT…

What if you’re me?

I have not had a “period” of uncertainty and confusion, it has been a long-standing thing which has been plaguing me since I was born.

Sure, I did not have a very good upbringing (to say the least), which could have had something to do with my identity (or lack thereof) being shaped the way it has, but realistically, as you become older, should you not “grow out” of that pattern of thoughts?

I never did, and I still have not.

For me to explain where my identity became lost, I must take you all back in time some 35 years, to when I was perhaps four years of age, living in New Zealand, with my parents and older brother. He was nine.

I was cursed from birth, really when you take it all in – born sick, and with a (then) unknown condition.

Because of these unnatural early beginnings, I was always “different”, and my parents both made sure that I felt that way.

From my earliest memories (of 3-4 years old), any and all photographs taken of me were kept away in an old biscuit tin in the top of my parents’ wardrobe.

My brother’s face was plastered across the house on walls, on top of the old analog TV set, on my parents’ bedside tables… I was hidden, I was the sick secret, the child that my parents referred to as “him” or “sick one” when asked about me.

CUT TO when I started school in Australia at age 5. I was relatively shy, introverted, and did not like or understand the other children who were in my class. My birth-condition had now been diagnosed as Noonan Syndrome, yet I would not be told this for another 10 years.

At school I was constantly bullied, made fun of, ridiculed, and avoided as if I had leprosy. The few children who did go out of their way to speak to me probably did so out of sympathy, or perhaps they really did “see something” in me which they felt like they connect with?

At six years old I developed Perthes disease of the left hip, and was forced to wear leg braces, the old styled ones which had two bars running through the middle of them and forced me to kind of walk sideways.

School tables/chairs etc. needed to be modified accordingly. I did not feel “special” because of this, I felt ridiculous and just wanted to be like everyone else. Even though I was only 6 at the time, I knew that I most definitely was not ever going to be like anyone else.

At 7 years old, I began to exhibit behavioural difficulties, in align with self-harming. I would poke and cut myself where people would not see, because it somehow made me feel slightly more “normal” to feel pain. The pain served very quickly as a numbing gel for the inner turmoil that I was dealing with.

I was often referred to by my mother as “mongoloid”, “Spastic”, “Fucktard”, “Faggot” and “little pussy”, regardless of what I did (or said), I gave up trying to impress my mother very early on, and developed a deep-rooted hatred for the woman which I hold true still to this day.

Along with my mother’s verbal (and very physical) torture, I was also subject to ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of my lovely father. His actions were never “answered for”, and to this day, he lives a very refined and full life.

I digress, this is about stolen identity, and why this has occurred.

Along with photographs of me kept hidden away, my school reports, birth certificate, passport, and all other identifying information was kept from me (I want to say by my Mother, as it was her who had majority of control in our household, even though my Father was aggressive, he allowed her full control of us kids).

When I was old enough to begin asking questions about my identity (like, “where is my birth certificate” etc.), I was back-handed very swiftly by my mother and told never to ask for that, that it was her property, because I was her son.

I learned very quick to begin my journey of self-hatred. Self-discovery also began, but that was quickly stopped by my parents and I was cautioned to never question my gender, or sexuality, or way-of-life. I was told to never question or “tell” about anything that went on in our home, because it was “our business”, nobody else’s.

As I became older, I have developed health problems (probably due mainly to things being left for so long), and I have no record of my previous medical histories, apart from tiny snippets which I remember, and the few little details I have been able to obtain.

My mother confessed to me when I was a teenager that I would never be able to review my medical files, that she had put “precautions” in place so that I could not.

To my mother – Fuck you, you whore. I need help, and you denied me that, both as a child, and now as an adult. You pretended when around people to be the “perfect” mother, and then once you got me home, I was beaten, verbally abused, and left in my room for nothing.

You failed to protect me when my father abused me, you stood by and let it happen, and then when I asked you years later why you did that, you were so fucking selfish in your answer.

“I was scared he’d beat me again”.

You were a useless mother, you failed to protect me when I was bullied at school, and instead sent my brother down to fight for me, and to abuse and beat the bullies, when you could have easily spoken to someone and had the problem sorted out.

I despise you, and everything that you are – you’re a pathetic worm who wallows in the shit of everyone’s pain, you enjoy causing pain to children, and you enjoy inflicting pain throughout their lives.

You also enjoy controlling children, because it makes you feel powerful and mighty, and it feeds your need and hunger for acceptance, when you cannot accept yourself and what you do, you inflict your anger and pain on the innocent.

You have pretended to be dying more times than I can count, and each time I prayed (even though I am not religious) for it to be real. I went to your hospital bed when you had your stroke and spat at you, telling you exactly what I thought of you. I asked you to apologise to me for everything you did, your response was “I’m dying”.

You care only for yourself, and expect everyone to do the same, you pretend that you are a loving, caring and giving individual, and behind closed doors you are a sadistic monster.

When you divorced my father (finally), you deliberately went out and found a very kind, sensitive man (the total opposite to my father), in order to control and manipulate him.

I loved this man from the first time I met him, because he accepted me, but I begged him not to marry you. He was just too kind, and you’d won him over soon enough.

Another fly for your very poisonous web.

When he accepted me as his Son (he knew I had disowned my real father), and allowed me to call him Dad, you hated this. I remember you argued about it with him when I was in bed, and you made him cry when you told him that I was “unlovable”.

He did accept me though, that much is certain, and we had a great bond, yet I knew what you were trying to do to him.

You began your severely twisted manipulation game on him as well, removing him from his three sons, forcing him not to see them, you wanted this poor, defenceless, good man for yourself.

I remember you used to hold onto his arm so tight and introduce him to people as “YOUR man”. You left it up to him to name himself to people, and towards the end, he didn’t even bother, you’d won again.

You’d reeled this poor lost soul in, hook line and sinker (this is a very curious thing to say, as he used to adore fishing!).

His identity was soon stolen too.

Why did you do it, Mum? Why did you steal my identity, and not my brother’s?

I know why.

I was weak, I still am, and you saw that and quickly honed in on it like a viper.

I firmly believe (and I am no psychiatrist), that you emotionally, sexually and physically got “off” on stealing your youngest son’s identity, and that of your poor new husband.

He is dead now, I miss him, but I am glad. I am glad because he is free from your fucking clutches. He is free from you beating him emotionally, and physically (remember the time you pushed him over, drunk in the shower, and he broke a bone in his arm, bitch?)

He is free from your control, but you kept him from his Sons, and from me. You never explained why, but you didn’t have to – I knew what a sadistic cunt you were – I’d grown up with it.

When I reached my mid-twenties, I was diagnosed with various mental-health related things – PTSD, Complex PTSD, Dysthymia, Depression, Clinical Depression, Severe Social Anxiety, etc. It was not until 2009 that I was finally given a proper examination and given just one overall diagnosis – Borderline Personality Disorder. The other diagnosis was not ruled out, but they were explained by my prominent diagnosis of BPD.

It was discussed with me that my Mother (and Father), if you can call them parents at all (I would not, personally), most likely had a significant impact on my diagnosis, due to the style of upbringing I had. I tend to call it down-bringing more so than upbringing.

But, when all is said and done, can I blame you?

No.

I blame you for certain aspects of my life turning out the way they did, but I have also been weak enough to allow it to happen, to allow it to overtake my existence for so long, and to keep on letting it happen.

As a “parent”, you took the role to the absolute extreme, and so did my father, yet you really only did it with me. Because my brother fought back, I never did. I cowered in the corner, like your good little bitch boy, and suffered in silence (shhh, say nothing!).

I am a parent myself now, and even though I am not physically with my daughter, I do my fucking best to communicate with her, show support and encouragement, and love her the way a true parent should. Where did I learn do that?

Self-taught, bitch. You certainly didn’t teach me, nor did my father, nor my brother, who turned out to be violent and sadistic just like you, Mum.

My daughter comes first, I don’t verbally, sexually, or physically abuse her like you did, Mum. I cherish the small conversations and laughs that I share with her, and we are growing closer every day after so many years apart.

I am so glad that she is not in your life, Mum. You’re not her grandmother, as far as I am concerned you’re not even my mother.

You’re a woman who fucked a man, nine months later spreading your pathetic legs to let a child slide out, deformed emotionally and physically. You then chose to abuse that child, with no thoughts of how you’d fuck its future up.

You confirmed to the child all throughout its life that it was worthless, good for nothing, deformed, and “different” to everybody who surrounded it, and the child began to believe this and take this role on for eternity.

I was created by you, and forced into a lifestyle of inner torment and pain, because you chose to do that. I had no fucking choice, and you knew that. You took that choice and ran with it – the choice to abuse your child and torment it. The choice to follow on and continue doing this, whilst even on your fucking death-bed.

Still, I wish for your death, for the demise of your existence, in the hope that it can somehow bring closure to me. For some, this is hard to swallow. My whole fucking life has been hard to swallow, but I’ve done it, choking and gagging all the fucking way, but I have DONE IT.

I continued because I wanted to try and be a better person. Through numerous failed suicide attempts, you were always the one in the back of my mind, taunting me – “Do it then, cunt!” “Ahh, you’re fucking weak!!”.

I wanted to die for you, to give you what you wanted, but I stayed in order to torment you with my words now.

Even though I am not religious (quite the opposite), I know that you are, and I hope that you believe that you’ve “done everything right” in your life, with the false presence of being sent to a beautiful Holy Afterlife in your mind.

When it’s all over, as you take your last pathetic dying breath – remember my face you bitch, as you travel down to burn for eternity.

It’s not up to me to decide your fate, Mother, but if your “God” is a good one, one of fairness and respect, he’ll see your judged accordingly, and you’ll fry.

I hope you look back on everything you’ve done one day and can finally see the error of your life. I hope that somehow you beg for forgiveness from me one day, only to have it thrown back in your face, for I will never forgive nor forget how you stole my everything and shaped it to yours.

I remain a person with no identity (or at least feeling like a shell, without identity). I have no gender which I am comfortable with, I am confused, and am a walking ghost.

I will haunt you til your dying day, Mother.

Bess.

PLEASE PLAY THIS WHILST READING – THEY GO TOGETHER WELL

When I was 8, my mother decided that it would be a good idea (for whatever reason) to put my dog – “Bess” to sleep.

Bess was only two years old, she was a Labrador (golden) and had significantly soft ears that I used to rub and snuggle into.

Hey, I was 8!

My mother had said to me “it’s either you go, or the dog goes, I cannot deal with the both of you”.

Bess was not a mean dog, she was not aggressive at all, quite the opposite – she would run up to anybody for a pat and a cuddle, and especially if they had food.

My father had wanted to get Bess because it was so terribly hard for me to make friends at school, he thought it’d be a fantastic idea to get me a puppy instead.

At least, that way I had someone to play with before and after school, on weekends, and she’d be a good companion for me.

Bess was a good companion. She was very loyal, very trusting, but she hated my Mother from day one, even when she was a puppy – she knew what type of person my mother was, and steered very clear of her.

In the two years that I had her, Bess developed a passion for food, digging, and running away (mostly in that particular order).

My mother used to get so agitated and furious when Bess dug holes, she would sit at the hole outside and wail at the top of her lungs like a madwoman. Bess would sit there staring at her from my side, perhaps she wondered what was wrong with my deranged mother also?
At night times, Bess would always follow me to bed, and sleep on top of me (uncomfortable, I know, but who could resist?). My mother hated Bess sleeping with me, also, for some reason. I never knew why, although whenever my mother would try and remove her from my bed – Bess would growl from deep down in her gut to let her know not to fucking touch her.

On the day of Bess’s execution, my mother was in full form – dancing and singing around the house at the crack of dawn – a cigarette in one hand and a cup of weak-brewed tea in the other.

Needless to say, Bess reacted strangely to her, and so did I – I knew when my mother behaved this fucking crazy that something was up. Something was brewing from the depths of this woman’s insanity – and it most likely way not a good thing.

My mother kept me home from school on this day, she told me I could “say I was sick”. She said she’d write me a “sick note” to give my teacher, Mr. Ryburn.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with me. Even though I was only 8, deep down inside the very pit of my stomach, I knew what my mother was preparing to do:

She was celebrating the death of the only thing in this life which brought a small amount of joy to me.

The abuse which I undertook on an almost daily basis? It all felt manageable when Bess jumped on my bed at night and I stroked her ears and rubbed her tummy for her. She would stay on my bed with me until morning.

At around 9Am, after my father had gone to work, my mother dragged me by the ear from my bedroom out into the kitchen (why she did this, I do not know – would it not have had the same effect in my won bedroom?!)

I sat at the kitchen table as my mother sat opposite me, puffing on one of her “Pall Mall Blue” cigarettes.

“Y’knnow Bess is getting killed today, don’tcha?”

(My mother had a specific way of speaking that I will never forget, it turns my stomach and makes me want to vomit, to this day).

I began to bawl (as anyone would expect – I was an 8-year-old boy who’d just been told that his Mother was killing his dog – his only friend).

My mother slammed her fist down on the wooden kitchen table, called me a faggot, and told me to stop crying immediately.

It was in this instance that I heard a torrent of speech come out of my “mother’s” mouth that I won’t ever forget.

“You bastard. You are nothing but a faggot, that is why your father’s so “close” to you too! Bess is getting put to sleep today or you’re gonna go away somewhere for good!”

I knew what she meant by that – my Mother used to like threatening to “put me away” for good, she liked to see the terror in my eyes as she explained the horrific things that were going to happen to me while I was locked up in an asylum full of adults.

I continued to cry and my mother got up, stood behind me and spat at me, directly onto the back of my neck. I could feel the smoke-tainted saliva trickle down my back as she stormed off down the hallway.

She walked into my bedroom and seconds later came out, walking my dog by the scruff of her neck.

“Oh yes Bitch, Suzie’s going to have you killed today,” she grinned, coming down the hall.

I stared into Bess’s eyes as she approached my side with my mother holding her and pinching her nails into her neck, the same way she did with me.

“Say goodbye to this fucker,” she hissed.

Crying and sobbing uncontrollably, I knelt down on the floor, eye-level with Bess as I held her face in my hands and kissed her nose, and those furry soft ears for one of the last times.

The joy in my Mother’s face was reminiscent of what you might expect from a woman who’d just given birth or was about to be married – she truly was ecstatic.

“Go and get dressed,” she commanded, pulling me up by the scruff of my neck.

I recall shrugging her off of me and making my way down the hallway to my bedroom, Bess following close behind me, always the loyal companion, even on her death day.

I slammed my door shut, knowing that my Mother would not have expected it, I was not an angry child, despite the shit that I had to deal with on a daily basis from both of my parents.

Bess jumped up on my unmade bed and made herself comfortable, rolling onto her side for me to rub her belly.

I rubbed my face against her stomach and apologised to her, knowing that deep down there was no way that she understood anything of what was about to take place.

I spent quite some time getting dressed that day, making sure that the rest of the bawling I did do was with my dog, and not in front of my Mother.

It wasn’t long before my mother crashed through the door, fag in one hand and dishcloth in the other.

“Get the fuck out here, boy. That mutt’s had its last day in my house,” she bellowed, still grinning.

She had gotten herself dressed also, wearing her long grey track pants and white knitted sweater. I could smell her musk perfume filling my room, which made me sneeze.

My mother waltzed in, whistling a high-pitched jig incredibly loudly as she pushed me out of the way and grabbed Bess by the scruff of her neck, causing her to let out a howl.

“Shut the fuck up, you BITCH!” she yelled, kicking Bess in the side hard with her heel.

Bess let out another whimper and I walked out to the kitchen/dining area where I waited more instruction.

It was an incredibly long walk with my mother up to the local Vet clinic. She dragged Bess along beside her, a choker collar attached to her. She gagged and coughed all the way there, and I cried all the way there, despite my previous decision not to.

Once we finally arrived, my mother sat down on the bench outside the Vet clinic and lit u a cigarette.

“Ya might want one of these fuckers before going in there, boy,” she exclaimed, pointing to the Pall Mall cigarette dangling from her lip.

I shook my head, wiped my eyes and sat down across from her. Bess nestled into the side of my leg and began panting. She was worn out.

“Hey, at least she got a fuckin’ good work-out before we slot her.”

I rubbed Bess’s ears for the final time as my mother sat there with a shit-eating grin from ear to ear, puffing insanely on her cigarette.

I hated her so much.

My mother threw her cigarette out into the street as she stood up, brushed her pants and asked if I was ready.

“No. Can’t we just go home? I promise I’ll keep her in my room, you’ll never see her!” I pleaded.

Bending down to face me, my mother grabbed my face between both hands and spat at me.

“That fucking mongrel is getting killed. I told you – either you go to the funny farm or I get rid of the dog.”

I wiped my face with the back of my hand and tried to pull myself from her.

My mother pushed me away from her with a force which almost made me fall into the road. I held on tight to Bess’s lead and steadied myself finally.

“Come on, let’s get this over with!” she shouted.

People walking past us in the street stared. It must have been a sight – crazy mid-aged woman bellowing at the top of her lungs while her young son held onto his dog for dear life, bawling his eyes out.

My mother snatched the lead from me, gave Bess one last swift kick to the back with her boot and marched towards the vet – my 2-year-old dog’s death.

Inside the small cramped clinic, we were the only ones there, and just as well too – I had made enough of a fool out of myself outside.

The receptionist told my Mother that the Vet wouldn’t be long, which made this whole ordeal seem even worse to me. I wanted to grab my dog and run, I knew my mother wouldn’t have caught me, but I was too scared of the aftermath.

Bess laid down on the cold floor and rested her head on my foot as she looked up at me.

My mother’s demeanour had changed, she’d taken a handkerchief from her pocket and was dabbing at her eyes and sniffing.

I knew it was fake, she often did this in front of others, and I’d had years of practice getting to know all of her little quirks and tricks by that stage. It made me feel sick inside, to think that she was pretending to be upset about killing my dog, when just moments before she was laughing and cackling away about it like a lunatic.

{Suffice to say, my mother was and is very much unstable, she should never had had children, animals or a husband.

When she gave birth my brother and her instabilities were present, it should have been someone’s job to have stepped in and prevented her from having me – just my thoughts on the matter. I realize and understand that not everyone agrees with me on this, but this is a free medium, and my thoughts and feelings are mine, they are all I have left.)

After a lengthy wait, a young vet surgeon with blonde hair and wearing a pale green smock appeared in the waiting area.

“Mr. Heath with Bess?” he asked.

My mother hadn’t even had the balls to book the appointment under her name. I couldn’t believe it – she wanted no responsibility for what she had arranged – the premature death of my dog.

I stood up, holding Bess’s lead in my right hand and my mother sat crumped up next to me, playing the snivelling poor role.

“Mrs. Heath, I think you should come in there with your Son, it’s not an easy thing,” the vet spoke.

Slowly, my mother rose to her feet holding the hanky to her face as she continued to fill it with fake tears.

The three of us walked to the back of the surgery where a bright room awaited us complete with a large table laid with blankets.

“Let’s pop Bess up here on the table shall we? She’ll be comfy up there.”

Why was he speaking to me like that?

My emotions completed began to shut down as I dropped Bess’s leash and the vet kneeled down to pick her up. My mother cowered in the corner of the room. She wanted people to think she was a victim in all of this.

I moved closer to the table and rested my hand on Bess’s head as the vet began preparing the injection which would end my childhood.

I looked over at my mother, pleading with my eyes, yet she had her back to me, her face pressed into the wall.

“OK, it’s time to give her one last pat, say goodbye, and Bess will be fast asleep very soon,” the voice rang through my ears as I bent forward and kissed her forehead.
“Sorry Bess,” I cried as I held her neck so tight.

If there was ever a time in my life I should have prayed, it would have been then, but I just didn’t have the words as I looked into her golden brown eyes.

In my child’s mind, my dog begged me to let her live, and I would have traded places with her (still would), but I don’t control the universe – not then nor now.

I let out one last sob as the vet inserted the needle into Bess’s leg, slowing her breathing and forcing her beautiful eyes to close finally.

My mother exited the room behind me, slamming the door. I turned around, one hand still holding my dog’s soft collar and felt the emptiness in that room as Bess’s soul slowly left it.

The vet placed his hand on my shoulder and ushered me out of the room. My mother was waiting outside the surgery; I could see the smoke billowing around her.

“You can go home with your Mum now,” I was told.

I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to speak to her ever again, but I knew I had no choice.

She had taken away my only piece of happiness, my fist dog. A child’s first pet is always special, similar (I guess) in some ways to your first initial kiss, or your first time feeling completely connected to someone like never before.

Bess certainly was my companion, and I never had forgotten (or replaced her).

A few weeks ago I suffered a terrible fever where I had visions of Bess, complete with her asking me to please not kill her etc. It lasted all day long, and has probably been what has prompted me to write about her in such a manner.

Not particularly BPD related, but trauma, for sure. I have phobias of vets, needles etc.

The photograph is of myself and Bess, a few days before my mother murdered her.

RIP Bess.

SIDE-NOTE:

32 years on, as I write this – it has taken me four days. I don’t think the writing itself is very good, it’s sloppy, it’s rushed (even though it took four days, I needed to finish it because it hurt). The way my mother behaved during the whole ordeal is an example of her own issues, be it what they may. She has never been diagnosed, I have often wondered – so if people have suggestions as to how her behavior may be categorized, please feel free.

A Follower’s Experience with ECT.

This was written by our follower Elaine. She wanted to share her experience with Electro Convulsive Therapy or ECT. Her hope was to shed light on this highly controversial topic. 

I’ll start off with a little bit about myself. I’m a 25 year old female. I have been through many different diagnoses since I was in 7th grade. I hear a voice in my head; I used to hear dozens. I’ll admit, the only things I knew of ECT (Electroconvulsion Therapy) were what I’ve seen in the movie One Flew Over the Coo-Coo’s Nest. Just so you know, it’s nothing like that. I was being treated with many different anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. Nothing seemed to be helping me. I was thinking about suicide frequently. I looked up ECT on the Internet and it seemed promising. I asked my doctor if he thinks it would help me. He sent me to a doctor across town to see if I was a good candidate for ECT. After meeting with the nurse, we scheduled my first session.
ECT is started usually three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I wasn’t nervous to start; I was actually excited to try a new, promising treatment. I couldn’t eat the night before because they put you under general anesthesia. They asked me when I last took my medication, when I last ate, and asked me to rate my symptoms. Then we got started with the prep.
They started an IV and gave me a medication to dry out my mouth. They attached stickers to monitor my heart rate and the doctor stuck the patches on my head that release the electricity. They started to count back from 10, and I quickly fell asleep. I woke up soon afterwards and was quickly put to the small recovery room. They offered me a snack and something to drink. The only side effect I experience is a headache. (In my opinion, the trade-off of battling crippling depression or having a headache and some body aches for a day was worth it!)
I’m on my 19th treatment. I’m now doing it once every three weeks. One family member of a fellow patient I spoke to told me his wife’s smile returned after the first treatment. I find myself no longer thinking of suicide, I laugh a lot more, and my anxiety has improved greatly! I have to warn you – it causes significant memory problems. I’m still having trouble remembering conversations I’ve had or basic facts. That side effect goes away with time. I’m so glad I’ve undergone ECT. I hope my story can help someone out there who is suffering and feels helpless. Please know that suffering is temporary.

“SURVIVE”

 

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September is Suicide Awareness Month. And today marks 15 years since my first suicide attempt. The irony huh? I went on to try about 10 more times after that. I even tried about 4 months back. But no-one knows. People think we just want attention. But if that’s the case then how come no-one knew about half of my attempts until now? I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want attention. I just wanted out. What kind of pain have you experienced? Have you ever wanted to kill it with other pain? I have. So many times. Sometimes with a razor blade… sometimes with a bottle… sometimes with a pipe… so many different ways to try to make it all go away but in the end the only way to make it go away is to face it head on. And that’s what I do everyday. I get up and face it. Sometimes just by getting out of bed. Others by going and taking a walk. Most days just by being kind to myself and realizing that I may not have everything I want but I have everything I need. Right in front of me. We yearn for things to take away the pain when in reality what we really need to do is simply allow ourselves to feel it just as it is without judgment. We crave to be validated by and remembered by others but the greatest power we have is to validate and love ourselves. Remember ourselves. And none of us want to feel alone in this waging war. But let me tell you, you are far from being alone. I’m not afraid to speak when others are unable to. I drown and bleed at the very least once a day. The world ends and in return I want to end myself.  But these feelings do pass. We are all in this as a united front. Keep fighting and don’t ever give up. WE ARE ALL JUST TRYING TO FIND THE NEXT WAY TO SURVIVE AND IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP. I did, and I am once again because I have fallen off track. Just remember, it’s never too late, to get back up and try again.

YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

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#KeepFightinG

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When The System FAILS

Respite:

When do you require respite? Before or after you finally “lose the plot”, so to speak?

In my experience, having respite before I have become unwell would have…well, prevented me from becoming unwell to begin with, and made a big difference to my overall mental health and well-being.

After telling service providers and agencies that you are noticing your old warning signs popping up again, is it not up to them to put provisions in place to prevent you from becoming unwell?

In my case, this is not quite how thing have worked.

Let me digress somewhat:

In my early childhood years, my mother constantly threatened me with institutionalization if I did “not behave” accordingly when I was beaten etc. by her.

I never thought she would go through with it, until one day she finally snapped after giving me the “hiding of a lifetime” one morning. I was sent to a place that I don’t ever want to return to, and spent about 2 weeks (I think) there.

The people there scared the hell out of me, they were both highly medicated and extremely unwell. I don’t know what any of their diagnosis’ were, but I am guessing most had been there for many years.

My time spent there was traumatizing, I saw and heard many things which still stick with me to this day, but those details remain inside my mind until my books are finished (I will be writing extensively about this period).

My experience there has affected me – I am afraid of situations where I do not know people’s true intentions (which is often the case with people who are highly medicated and/or severely unwell).  I have in the past been to “day groups” where various “clients” go to just spend time etc. I have always felt the same there – outnumbered, and very afraid of my surroundings. It is clear that this is most likely a direct response to my earlier exposure to people in distress who were institutionalized (some without consent) has affected me greatly.

These types of situations would not be “respite” to me, they would send me into a tailspin of inner turmoil, and fear, and this is something I have struggled with for years – if I do not agree to be put into these houses with these people, I cannot access any other form of respite funding.

To place someone who is becoming unwell into a situation which would truly send them over the edge and make them more unwell instead of offering them somewhere to go to unwind, relax and be at peace – is this not in some ways unfair?

(Funding in this country – or at least in my state – exists for “Carers” to receive a break away – they are not offered a house with a whole lot of people who are “more unwell” than them, it would not work for them in that scenario either, obviously).

When I think “Respite” – something which would work for me would be 2 weeks in a very peaceful environment where I can just sit and be with myself, write as much as I possibly can, and just unwind and decompress from the shit which has built up over the years.

SO, why is this supported for someone who “cares” for someone like me, but not for someone like me? Confusing? You’re telling me, the whole thing is a mind-fuck of the highest order, to be honest, and sometimes it’s all I can do to prevent from completely losing it!

Some organizations in particular truly get my blood boiling (I won’t give them the satisfaction or fame by naming them), but to deny someone their wishes, even though they have confessed that they are becoming further unwell, and need this to travel forward with their recovery journey? Come on…

Knowing that others in my situation also struggle with finding funding for respite is also a worry, especially when I know of people who’ve had much more insignificant and less important things funded for them!

Seems to me that these organizations pick and choose based on a variety of “criteria” who they allow this funding to be accessible to, and the government obviously agrees with this approach otherwise they would not allow it to be so non-flexible.

To think of all the people like myself who are slowly falling through the cracks of this very narrow minded system is painful really. How many times have people asked for help, only to be told that they don’t fit into a specific category so therefore are not eligible, but so-and-so down the road has an extra diagnosis so they are?

The people I feel for are those (like me) who are categorized as “complex” or “difficult”, labels which really mean “too hard” – people who often have several overlapping diagnosis and can often be seen as “well” but feeling incredibly shite inside. These complex needs people often need more than one type of help, and often what they do have is useless to them (at least in my case).

I have been put into the “too hard basket” for years now, and still am sitting in there, unattended and missing out on some of the simpler things which people with more “common” issues such as Depression, Bipolar or schizophrenia have easy access to.

Is it fair?

It must be, because it’s allowed to continue occurring, and nothing is planned or getting done about it in my case, yet people like me are struggling to fit into a system which continues to fail providing.

A system designed to keep people like myself at bay and instead of offering them what they need (and what others have access to) – denying access to said services and treatments, with explanations so out-there and unreasonable it makes the mind boggle.

Working on someone’s “Goals” is not recovery (when they are currently so unwell that they simply do not have goals anymore).

Providing a service to someone who identifies as complex, and with various issues which does not meet their needs, but continuing to provide that service is not recovery, nor is it helpful.

Offering respite to someone who has identified fears and complex needs regarding particular people in a house full of said people is not good practice, or healthy practice.

Telling a client whose previous experience with mental health drugs is extremely bad that there’s not really anything else that they can offer them is bad, and not helpful, or healthy practice.

Offering someone with complex needs nothing but advice on what can be done, instead of helping them to do it is not helpful, healthy or good practice.

Forcing a client to admit to things to make you feel better is not good, healthy or helpful practice.

Refusing to offer alternatives is not good, healthy or helpful practice.

GET IT RIGHT!
Health photograph designed by Jcomp – Freepik.com

I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me

I’ve had a person from my past recently attempt to make contact with me again. My mind instantly jumps to the usual thoughts: “They’re poison. They’re subhuman trash. They have nothing to contribute to society. They’re completely worthless.” This person, my ex-companion, wronged me so they shall forever live in my mind as a sort of gollum: repulsive, ugly, and banished from living in the sunshine of my mind. It’s not that I think in extremes, this person deserves that label. They caused me pain. A decent person would never, EVER have done anything to cause me pain. Good people don’t do that. This person is clearly no good. Every good deed, gentle word, tender moment together, they were all part of a masterfully crafted ruse to disguise their inner ugliness. Shrewd devil, I saw right through you.

And yet, somehow I feel inferior to the non-accomplishing zero that seems to have replaced me. I can’t not be the best. I can’t just be ‘superior to them in so many ways’. I have to be superior in every way. How could I possibly be good if I’m not the best? How could I possibly be the best if I’m not perfect? Why do I even care? I’m in a happy and healthy relationship with an amazing person now and I could never see myself going back to someone so obviously vile, so why be bothered by their attempts to reconnect? I hate you, don’t leave me–A common phrase used to highlight the thought process behind ‘splitting’. For me, it’s more like I hate you, leave me alone, but pine for me forever. My finger hovers over the blue-glowing screen for what feels like minutes, though I’m sure only seconds have passed. Finally, I delete the messages, lock the screen, and once again they are little more than a bad dream.

So what happens when I split the other direction? Is it so wrong to see a person as the very embodiment of perfection? Perhaps not, provided that every interaction goes exactly to plan, but when was the last time anything actually went according to plan? Life, to me, seems like a series of poorly executed plans, like a parade in which every float is missing a wheel.

The more I look inside, the more I recognize my proclivity toward compartmentalization–I have a driving need to stuff people into boxes. When something doesn’t fit the category, I remove it like a wart. You. You are good, so you will fit nicely and neatly into the ‘good’ box. I don’t care what you’ve done, those extrusions have been removed, for now. The compartments shift like a mechanized, steel maze: solid and unyielding walls whose alignments and contents shift and change on a whim. One poorly chosen word is all it takes and the walls move; your ‘facade of goodness’ is stripped away to let your true badness show forth. No, wait, they didn’t mean it. They’re sorry. They love me so much. I’m so, so sorry it’s all my fault. I should never have thought all those terrible things. I love you, just don’t do it again. “Just don’t do it again.” The problem is that it’s already been done. Once more, the walls of the maze shift and what was once perfect is now broken, flawed, and terrible.

I suppose that the good news is that it isn’t just a Borderline issue. Splitting is a cognitive distortion we all face, it’s a defense mechanism that we evolved with. In his book  The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life, author Paul Seabright discusses our long-running social conditioning of a ‘brothers or others’ mentality. ‘Others’ are dangerous, and it is imperative that we recognize them and deal with the threat quickly before they are able to wreak any havoc on our lives. The problem with this tendency is that those with a political agenda have learned to exploit this fear of ‘others’ and polarize us. America’s 2 major political parties have been doing a wonderful job with ingraining within us this notion that any who disagree with our ideals are inherently bad and that they have no business spouting their ideals to others. We see the same thing in religion, sports fandom, anything that makes people feel impassioned. How absurd to dislike somebody simply because you’re a Packers fan and they happen to like the Bears! I’m not above consternation here, I get annoyed going out to watch a game in public and hearing people root against my team. But just because most of us do it, doesn’t mean it makes an ounce of sense. I will be completely black and white in saying that it is impossible to lump people into simply black and white categories. We are all gray. Deal with it.

This is a difficult subject for me to find material to write about because it’s been such a difficult flaw for me to recognize. Reality is relative, and stepping outside of my own mind to gain a broader perspective is hardly a comfortable experience–there’s a reason babies cry when they’re born. But recognizing that I have this personality trait has become an enlightening experience. Feelings are not facts. Feelings are not facts. Feelings are not facts. I sometimes find this reminder on repeat inside my head now. People will fail to live up to expectations from time to time. It happens, and that doesn’t mean that one instance of being let down by somebody makes them a guaranteed failure for the future.

Just let me write

I haven’t written in a while. I’m not sure if this is something I should be apologising for. Part of me feels that I should, as I am sorry for most of the things that I do, or in this case didn’t do. The other part of me feels as though it doesn’t matter if I apologise or not because nobody actually cares. My apology will float away and get sucked up in some black vacuum as though it never existed in the first place.

A few months ago someone lashed out at a piece of writing I had published. As much as I tried to understand their reaction and their perspective and why they wrote what they did, it didn’t hurt any less and I allowed them to make me question myself and whether or not I had the right to feel the things that I feel, let alone write about them. I write so other people can feel less alone because I know how terrible it is to feel lonely. I write so I too can feel less alone. Maybe that’s selfish of me but I will keep writing all the same because it might be the only thing that saves me.

It’s been a long time since I have felt safe. Since someone has made me feel as though I am making some kind of difference, as though I’m making some kind of permanent dent on this earth. It’s hard to imagine that when I go I will leave some kind of legacy, some kind of mark, especially considering I feel so undeniably forgettable in this life. As I walk the Sydney streets, people push past me, bumping my shoulders as I try and creep by unnoticed. Nobody sees me and I try not to see them. I keep my head down, my eyes focussing on the pieces of chewed up gum that have been there so long they have turned black. As I walk, I scream in my head. I yell and I scream and I’m surprised that no one can actually see or feel my simmering hatred that surrounds me like some kind of devilish halo.

It was four years ago that I stood quietly at the nurse’s station when a fist of a stranger flew by and knocked me clean to the ground. I remember the white,hot pain and the infinite bewilderment that struck me as I sat, crumpled on the floor. Four years on and I pass the homeless on every street corner. If they are sitting down with their empty coffee cups, my heart breaks and I linger in confusion, wondering what to do. Most times I walk away without doing anything, ashamed that I’m lucky enough to have coins in my own purse. When they are standing up, when they walk past me, I imagine they will lash out and hit me square in the face, making that thunderous smack that still echoes for miles and miles in my head.

I am at work now and I will smile a brilliant smile, feeling myself push a sparkle to the surface of my eyes because I want to save everyone. I will dive into the water without hesitation and with complete disregard of the fact that I myself have forgotten how to swim. I smile because I want to make it clear that no one should feel responsible for my loneliness, even out of obligation. They say to me ‘you’re always smiling’, and I will smile for them for as long as they need me to though my insides are screaming for them to turn and walk away so I can at least find some peace in my loneliness. Though it seems that their inadvertent insults bounce like rubber off my skin, in truth these invisible-insult-spores seep in through my pores and blacken my blood with their toxic waste. I walk back and forth from my desk to the kitchen, making cup after cup of tea in the hope that it will somehow shorten the hours that I spend here.

I make no plans for the future because I may disappoint you and I feel as though I am already disappointment enough.

Please don’t mock me or tell me to calm down or cry you a river. Just let me write so I can at least find peace in my loneliness.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Its core components are emotion regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. It’s part of the 3rd Generation of Behavioral Therapy and was developed by Marcia Linehan and her colleagues. It was originally developed for people with BPD who are chronically suicidal. Studies found that people who participated in DBT were less likely to drop out of treatment, had fewer hospitalizations, and better treatment outcomes overall. It has been adapted for children, adolescents, couples or as a tool for anyone who needs a little help with emotion regulation (including but not limited to substance use disorders, impulse control disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, and other personality disorders.)

DBT focuses on a biopsychosocial (bio- biological components; psycho- psychological components; social- sociological components) model of disorders. It uses dialects or opposing points to develop a broader perspective on problems, helps with learning to see the other side of problems (known as the dialectical pole), helps consider more options as a result, and helps a person get “unstuck.” DBT therapists work hard to understand the worldview of the person, validate their feelings, then help them consider alternative possibilities. DBT believes that emotions precede thoughts and helps people find solutions that are congruent with their goals.

DBT treatment is characterized by 4 stages: 1) Therapists help people make a commitment to treatment; 2) Desensitization to past traumas; 3) Focus on self-respect, problems living, and individual goals; 4) Have the person use better coping skills to help produce a greater capacity for happiness; integrate treatment approaches into everyday life.

The success rate for DBT is incredibly high. It works because it takes you to the root of the problem and helps you squash out dangerous or self destructive behavior. As someone with BPD I can tell you DBT has made all the difference in my recovery. 

Here is a link to the entire handouts and workbook for the second edition of DBT.