I am 30. Now that may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I remember a time when I didn’t think I’d make it to 18. The fact that I’ve made it to 30 just blows my mind. You see, I’ve struggled with life. I’ve not had a bad life, in fact, I’ve had a pretty easy life, but my head hasn’t made it easy for me. For as long as I remember, I’ve been a bit different. From a young age, I was scared that someone was coming to get me, that my heart beat was someone walking up the stairs, that the noise outside was dinosaurs suddenly re-appearing to kill us all (hey, I was a kid!) and of course the dread I would feel when someone would walk into a classroom with a note, I was sure that note was to call me to the office and that my parents had died. I used to sleep with the light on, and I used to wake my parents up at least once a night to see if they were okay.
“With BPD it hurts physically. It is an intense amount of painful emotion packed inside of my body trying to get out.”
I’ve seen dozens of doctors, councillors, psychiatrists, and psychologists over those years, my first being when I was in year 2 at school. Things got more serious in high school and later I was (wrongly) diagnosed with Bipolar (not otherwise specified). I was then rightly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (among a few other things) when I was around 19, and that fit my symptoms more than Bipolar, and also made me understand more of why my teenage years were THE WORST. Not only was I going through the normal hormonal changes that everyone goes through, I had the added side affect that molehills were mountains.
“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” – Marsha M. Linehan
I went through a period where I hardly ever left the house, where i’d have panic attacks almost daily. I would go out to the shops and not be able to approach a counter because I just couldn’t interact with people, my Mum would have to do it for me. I’ve been to the emergency room at the hospital more times than I can count on my hands, I used to self injure, and I have tried to take my own life. I have however had help, and I have always been so disciplined on myself. BPD often comes with reckless behaviour, for example, gambling, spending money irresponsibly, binge eatting, abuse of substances, engage in unsafe promiscuous sex, or drive recklessly. Now for me, I may put $1 in the poker machines if I’m out a dinner, but no more than 2 dollars. I’ve never taken drugs, apart from trying pot twice. My sex life is private, but I can count my partners on one hand, I’m disease free, and I don’t drive. I have been known to binge eat and did have an eating disorder for many years, and I can’t save money for my life. However, all my bills and rent are always paid and I don’t have a credit card. So, i’m lucky. Extremely lucky.
I’ve come so far, it’s been a hard road, and I still have days when I can’t get out of bed, when I don’t want to live anymore. I still can’t do so many things that most people can do, but I can do more than I could. Today*, I caught a bus, a train, and went to a meeting and shopping by myself. I know that I am so tired from just doing that, that I will have an early night and I will sleep most of tomorrow. It is an invisible illness and I am a complete spoonie.
This post was more a way to share some of my story, and I guess to let people know that it can get better. I still struggle, but I can look back and see how far I’ve come and how I have a better understanding and coping mechanisms in place to make those dark days easier.
If you’d like more information about BPD, please head over to Spectrum. Project Air. Sane. Beyond Blue.
If you’re in trouble, never fear to call Lifeline 13 11 14 or the Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467
*I wrote this post yesterday and scheduled it go live today.