Irrelevant Me…

I’m irrelevant. I don’t matter. Nobody sees me. Nobody hears me. Nobody wants me. I may as well be invisible. My soul is just dying inside. Nobody tells me anything. I’m just… nothing. Irrelevant…

My soul bleeds… I scream into the void where my emotions used to be, tensing every part of me, waiting and hoping for some kind of response that will show to me that I am destined to feel more than this soul drenching pain that controls me…

I try to reach out… I reach out a hand, an arm, but before even my little finger becomes extended, she arrives. I should have known that she is on her way. I should have listened to the white noise in my head trumpeting her arrival. She grabs my arms behind my back and then she pushes me kicking and screaming into that cage she keeps for me inside the corner of my mind. Once she has me safely locked away, she is free to run the show…

Once she has this total control she begins to stamp around inside my head and the white noise turns down…

All I hear is her. Telling me that my ex was right. I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m useless, I’m ugly and so many other insults. Then she tells me that all the people who love me don’t really love me. That they are only with me out of pity and that they will leave me soon. She screams out and says vile things to the people near me. I bang my hands on the bar of my cage and scream, trying to get people to hear me but they don’t. They only hear her. The bitch is very clever, she really is…

I’m so scared that she will get so vicious and nasty that people will think “Screw that!” and just walk away from me. After all, who wants to spend their life with a crazy, fat cripple?

I’m so terrified that I will lose my family, every time they leave the house panic sets in and she is able to take control again.

I fight every single damn day to be even a little bit normal. I fight for my family to love me.

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This feels weird…

I’m now heading to having four hours of sleep in forty eight hours. My legs feel wibbly as hell and my muscles are shaking. I’m snapping at everyone and behaving in general like an Imelda Marcos wannabe (without the shoes).

Yes in my dictatorship, things should all be hunky dory. Trouble is… they’re far from OK. A good dictator should project a firm and forceful image to his or indeed her people. That’s really the first thing that should happen. Yet what do the citizens of my dictatorship get? A pathetic, useless, self loathing, fat, stupid piece of crap.

Not much of a benevolent leader huh? Wouldn’t you think that you would have someone who had a little bit of self belief? Not in my town, which is no grand open space full of happiness. My town is the mess inside my head.

Why is it such a mess? That is when it becomes difficult. Talking over the events that lead to me feeling the way I do always leaves me feeling like I am trying to swallow a lump of wet cement and the more I struggle to get the words up my throat and out of my mouth. So for me to sit here and explain  why I am so fucked up is going to be almost impossible. But I’ll try.

I was raised by my grandfather and my mum. My ‘father’ was a foul mouthed, verbally and physically abusive bully to both my mum and myself. He got off on hurting people who were not strong enough to fight back to him.

He was smart enough to never do any of this crap in front of my grandfather as he knew that my pappy would have beaten the crap out of him. The one and only time that my pappy challenged him was the time that my ‘father’ decided that he was going to move us back to the place that he came from in the North West of England.

Ever since we moved, my life became a living hell. None of the kids at my new school wanted to play with me! I was a huge target for the bullies. Not only was life hell at school, but things got a lot worse at home for me. 

My mum was sick, so he was leaving her alone. This meant he turned to me. His words were enough to cut me down at first and oh boy did he ever cut me down. I was ugly, fat, stupid, useless, idiotic and unable to get anything right.

The physical abuse came next. I always knew when I was going to get hit. He would pace up and down the room, punching his fist into his other hand. Then all of a sudden, he would lash out. Not only would he use his hands, he would use a belt, a hairbrush, his shoe and any number of other weapons. He would lock me in a small cupboard for hours at a time to control me.

That wasn’t the worst of it. It was the nights that I heard him at my bedroom door that were the worse. My monster was real. I can’t…it just hurts…too much. I remember the stench of whiskey and the pawing hands as he would say sorry afterwards. It sickens me to my very soul. I cannot even stand the smell of whiskey now.

My mum died from breast cancer when I was 16. My ‘father’ kicked me out. I ended up in a crappy little one roomed place with a job in a burger bar. I could at least pay my bills and live.

Life limped on with me getting drunk a lot. Eventually I dried out and applied for my nurse training. I was accepted!

On my 19th birthday, some of the girls from work took me out for a drink. I met a guy. I fell hard and fast for him. Within a week I had moved in with him and within six months, we were married. A huge mistake. He turned out to be a carbon copy of my ‘father’ and I became what I had sworn I had never be – a battered wife.

There are years of abuse. Much as the situation with my ‘father’. I cannot bring myself to talk about what happens. The words just solidify in my throat. I can’t say them. Maybe one day they will come out.

The birth of two children did nothing to stop him. He didn’t care about any of us. It took me a long time to build up the courage to escape him.

We may be physically free from the terror now, but I remember all too well the cold fear from even just hearing his voice. I don’t know if that will ever change. 😦

Now I’m also living with PTSD, bipolar, BPD, generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, a hatful of phobias and other problems. I also have my physical issues

So you see, being a benevolent dictator in my realm is not easy. I have all of the hate swirling round in my head. If people just felt that terror for one second, then they may understand a tiny bit of the sick fear. They might be able to dance with my demons.
I’m just hoping they let me sleep tonight. Even just a little.

The misunderstandings surrounding BPD…

When I say to someone that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, then I will normally get either, “Ooooh, what’s that then?” or “Is that like bipolar?” Either that, or a person will shuffle off with their head down and say nothing.

People with BPD are amongst the most misunderstood in the whole lexicon of mental health issues. Although there are effective treatments for BPD, they can be so difficult to get access to, which leaves sufferers feeling a sense of abandonment and confusion as to where they stand.

A serious mental health concern, BPD is a “personality disorder,” which is a pattern of thoughts, feelings and actions that tends to persist over time and leads to distress and problems in functioning (e.g., in relationships, jobs). BPD involves instability in several areas of life, including relationships, emotions, identity, thinking patterns and mental state (i.e., suspicious thoughts about others, dissociation), and behaviour.

People with BPD often engage in self-destructive behaviours such as suicide attempts (up to 75% have attempted at least once), self-injury (up to 80% have self-injured) and death by suicide (approximately 9%) Many people with BPD struggle with intense self-hate, shame and feelings of inadequacy/failure. They have difficulty navigating relationships both at work and with loved ones, and difficulty understanding and managing their emotions.

In order to get a diagnosis of BPD, a person has to have five out of nine total criteria, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). These criteria include the following: problems with relationships (fears of abandonment; unstable relationships) unstable emotions (frequent emotional ups and downs; high emotional sensitivity) unstable identity (unclear sense of self; chronic feelings of emptiness) impulsive and self-damaging behaviours (impulsive behaviour; self-injury or suicidal behaviour) unstable thinking/cognition (suspiciousness; tendency to dissociate when under stress)
Although it may seem easy to “self-diagnose,” it is important to know that a valid diagnosis of BPD involves a fairly extensive assessment. This should be done by a professional trained to make valid psychiatric diagnoses, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. All too often, I have seen people receive a diagnosis of BPD (sometimes in error) based on a clinician’s impressions after a very brief meeting.

Diagnosing BPD takes time and effort and must be done using methods with scientific support, such as structured diagnostic interviews, during which the clinician asks the patient a set of standardized questions about symptoms and experiences in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Examples of these include the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SCID-II), or the Diagnostic Interview for Personality Disorders (DIPD). It is important for patients to know that the gold standard way to diagnose BPD includes these structured interviews and that they are much more reliable than the clinician simply asking questions that occur to him/her or using informal impressions to make a diagnosis.
BPD is not a life sentence
One of the most harmful misconceptions about BPD is that it is a life sentence—that people with BPD will struggle with the disorder for their entire lives, and that little can be done about it. The term “personality disorder” does not help the situation, as it implies that there is something fundamentally flawed with an individual’s personality, or who they are as a person.

In fact, there are many reasons for hope. First and foremost, studies have found that rates of recovery from BPD are much higher than previously thought. In one of the longest studies on BPD, Dr. Mary Zanarini and colleagues found that, over 10 years following hospitalization:
86% of people with BPD stopped meeting criteria for BPD for at least four years
50% of people recovered completely (as shown by no longer meeting BPD criteria and having good social and work functioning)
Many of these people were receiving some kind of treatment, but some were not. Although many people with BPD clearly struggle for a long time, BPD is not a hopeless diagnosis, and many people recover.
A second reason for hope is that treatment works. The most extensively researched treatment for BPD is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington in Seattle. DBT involves the following:
Weekly individual therapy sessions aimed at helping clients reach their goals, reduce self-destructive behaviours and move forward on a path toward a more fulfilling life
A weekly training group that teaches skills in the areas of mindfulness (paying attention to the present), emotion regulation (understanding and managing emotions), interpersonal effectiveness (dealing with relationships and acting assertively), and distress tolerance (surviving crises, and accepting yourself for who you are)
Availability of the therapist by phone, e-mail, or other means in between sessions when help is needed.
Several rigorous clinical trials have shown that DBT works.
Aside from DBT, other promising psychological treatments have emerged in recent years, further showing that there is hope for recovery from BPD: mentalization-based therapy (MBT), schema-focused therapy (SFT) and transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP).
Medication also can be helpful for people with BPD (especially mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotic medications, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). Experts caution, however, that treatment by medication alone, without any psychological treatment or therapy, is not advisable.
The bottom line is that BPD is not a life sentence: Many people recover and sustain their recovery, and effective treatments exist.
One major challenge: finding effective treatment. Despite these reasons for hope, one major challenge facing BPD sufferers and their loved ones is that effective treatments are often hard to find and access. DBT has been around since the early 1990s, and yet, waiting times to access treatment are horrendous.

Progress is happening, but many people with BPD still suffer and cannot find adequate help. I am hoping that this blog post will highlight some of the existing resources for people with BPD and get the word out that people with BPD need more available, accessible services. That first and formost, BPD sufferers are people!
Another major challenge: the problem of stigma
Another major problem to solve is that of stigma. People with BPD often suffer from stigma from the community at large, people in their social networks or professional settings, and even from the treatment providers who are supposed to be helping them.

People jump to many conclusions about people with BPD, assuming that they are difficult to deal with, angry, clingy, out of control, likely to be violent, untreatable, down-and-out and/or unable to hold a job. Most of these assumptions are simply incorrect. Some of the people with BPD that I’ve known are among the most courageous, passionate, interesting and compassionate people I have met. If we are blinded by our stereotypes and assumptions about people with BPD (or any other mental illness), we might not even notice the many strengths and positive assets they have to build upon.
People with BPD are among the most intensely suffering groups in the mental health community. They need compassion, understanding and help. Therefore, I urge readers to put aside biases and assumptions about those with BPD, figure out how you can help, listen and react to people with BPD with an open mind, and reach out to do what you can.