Today has been one hell of a shit show. So this is me…it’s actually now 11:34 PM, because for almost 2 whole hours, all I could come up with was “well…fuck”. But, I’m trying to get my wits about me and put down on paper the things that really matter…the stuff underneath the fucks.
You’d think that the most pressing things on my mind would be the inconsistent, reactive, labile moods I’ve attempted to navigate today. That the tears that seem to leak out of my eyes without warning, and against my will would be a hot topic. Or that the constant barrage of self-disparaging thoughts like “why can’t you get your shit together? This is the reason nobody loves you” and “stop being such a fucking pussy…tears don’t fix shit” and “you don’t even deserve to have anything good in life. Everything you touch you destroy” and the loudest one…”nobody would even care if you died. They’d be happier, you’d be happier…you might as well just put everyone out of their misery”. Seems like a big deal…right? And it is, but I’m so exhausted from thinking about it…I’m pretty much just in the fuck it stage. So I’ll let it be. For now anyway.
The strange thing is, all I can think about is J talking to me about Quiet BPD the other day. And best I can recall, I just sat there…probably starred out the window…didn’t say very much. And I knew exactly where my thoughts went, but I couldn’t bring myself to even say it out loud. None of it. So, let’s just get this shit out so it’s not all on the inside anymore.
I remember being a junior in high school, taking my very first psychology class with Coach B. He was quite possibly the WORST teacher ever! Loved the dude, but whoever let him teach an actual class besides PE was clearly not in their right mind. He had us doing stupid busy work copying crap out of our textbooks and reading about psychological disorders. And I read a paragraph, in my high school psych textbook, and for the first time in my life, I learned about Borderline Personality Disorder. Immediately I felt with 100% certainty that what I was reading was me. That was who I was. And as I learned more about it and the stigmas attached to it, I felt intense shame. I never disclosed to anyone that my earliest self diagnosis was BPD because nobody likes to work with the borderlines. They’re so crazy! And from that time forward, even in my work in the field when I would be asked “what is a population you dislike working with? Or you don’t want to work with?” the first and immediate answer out of my mouth was, “the borderline population”. Disparaging insinuations would follow, along with my agreeance with stereotypical views…and that would be that.
From the time I was 16 years old, and that diagnosis felt the most real, the most accurate, and the most embarrassing…I fought to avoid that label throughout my entire work as a therapy client. Not only because in my mind being borderline was the worst diagnosis ever…but also because admitting to it meant I would have to be real about the struggles I had. The dificiences, the faults, the unhealthy way I ran my relationships. All those things were deep, accurate, and SO uncomfortable. And so I fought to hide the “real me” with everything I had.
Years later, after I got home from my mission, I worked with a therapist at LDS Family Services. He was kinda a goober, young in his clinical work, and I didn’t trust him one bit. So it didn’t bode well when one day in session, he leaned back in his chair, pulled out “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me” and nonchalantly flipped through it, eventually asking why I was getting so mad. In the first place, I was very well versed with the book and knew exactly what he was insinuating and it pissed me off that he wouldn’t just use his big boy words and talk to me about BPD. And also that he had a smug smirk on his face as he attempted to tell me that’s what he thought my problem was. So I shut it down. We didn’t see each other much longer after that…and I again avoided the discussion of BPD as a diagnosis.
Over the years, it has always been something that has been there. Even with my first manic episode and a bipolar diagnosis…comorbid BPD was always a big question mark for my providers. Never put down officially on paper (at least not that I can recall), but always tucked away in the back of my mind.
So that was the first thing that really got to me when J brought it up. This truth that I’ve felt and known about myself for more than half my life, and have tried so hard to burry, hide and discard…it was super uncomfortable. Not only because it was the right diagnosis…but also because he could see it, he knew me well enough to see it, and that meant that he had seen enough of my crazy to know who I am deep down…the me I try really hard to hide.
The second thing that was very bothersome about talk of a diagnosis was just that…talk of a diagnosis. Each and every time I’ve worked with a provider and we reached the diagnostic discussion…those were all really emotionally unstable, traumatic, and unpleasant times in my life. First as a high school kid being put on prozac with an MDD diagnosis, struggling with losses, addictions, self harm. The next time I was in college, before my mission, desperately trying to hide any reason for a diagnosis of anything. And yet, MDD was stamped in my patient file. And coming home from the mission…MDD…started on Wellbutrin, threw me into my very first manic episode…and BAM: Bipolar. Each time a diagnosis was given, it was not a relief like some people say it is. Everytime it was a reminder of how flawed I was. It wasn’t just a momentary flaw or mistake I made…the diagnosis meant there was something fundamentally wrong with me. That I was sick, messed up, different.
So sitting there with J, as he talked about Quiet BPD, self disclosing and trying to build rapport with me…essentially telling me that I’m not just fucked up because I make poor choices, but because that’s just the way I am…just brought about a lot of shame, feelings of inadequacy to do anything to change my situation, and anger.
While I want all of this to work…EMDR…changing my core sense of self…reprocessing shit…I feel like it’s making things not what they should be. We are supposed to learn from our past experiences, our past mistakes. They serve as teaching moments, and they shape us into who are now. And if I go about changing how my past experiences are integrated into who I am now…who does that make me? It feels like it makes me someone fake. Someone who watered down the past hurts, inserted calm feelings about them and put a bow on it. It doesn’t feel like the past will be real if it’s reprocessed. Like my entire world and who I am will no longer exist. I’ll be different, my life will be different, and it won’t be real.