The border line.

About a year ago now a psychiatrist with an irritating air of nonchalance asked me some intrusive questions and told me I fit almost all the criteria for emotionally unstable personality disorder. That phrase was a slap in the face and a kick in the gut and I left there feeling wounded and confused and insulted. I have no idea who thought that was a better name for it than borderline personality disorder, but I hope they get some awful karma for it.

I read a little about it and felt at ease. I read a lot more about it and it felt like home. I’ve not told anyone but my mum about it because that’s not really a label I want stamped across my forehead, but I’m getting used to it. I have some idea of when I’m falling now, instead of suddenly finding myself in a hole, and I can mitigate disaster a lot of the time, and I’ve been doing pretty damn well for most of the year.

But as anyone who knows anything about borderline knows, the problems are mostly in relationships with others, which I have largely avoided. I’m getting dangerously close to starting a relationship with someone and I am noticing old patterns coming back. He send me a text I can’t answer and I delete his number and turn off my phone. I never contact him first. He compliments me and I ignore it or make a joke of it. He gives me thoughtful gifts and I cry and laugh and display them and hide them and try very hard to resist the compelling urge to destroy them.

I’ve agreed to spend new year with him and I’m so anxious I’ve cleaned the walls and the doors and the floor and the drawers and my hands are cracked and bleeding from the chemicals and I’m still staring about the place trying to spot some other imperfection I can eradicate.

I’ve not told him I’m crazy yet. I’ve dreamed of his anger. I’ve dreamed of violent rejection so traumatic I’ve not slept properly since. How long can I pretend? Should I let him prepare for the storm? Or should I accept that I will destroy this, and probably him.

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Sunrise.

I know the exact moment the depression lifted. My mum came in to say good morning one day and sat on the end of my bed, and the light hit her face in just the most beautiful way and for the first time I saw the lines on her skin and the colour of her eyes. It was the weirdest feeling; it was as though someone had finally given me glasses I never knew I needed.

Every few days after that I’d just suddenly see something in such remarkable detail I’d never noticed before. The world had texture all of a sudden, and light seemed to be reacting with every surface to create a world more beautiful than I’d ever known. I looked in the mirror one day and my face had changed shape. My skin had pores and my eyes were lighter and for the first time in my life I realised I have really great cheekbones.

That was a over a month ago now, and since then whenever I look in the mirror I see something else I hadn’t noticed before. I have the most delightful little lines forming around my eyes when I smile now, and I pull faces in mirrors just to watch them and remember that I smile enough that it has imprinted on my skin.

I’ve shown signs of depression since I was seven years old. And one day seventeen years later, it vanished. Just like that.

Training wheels.

I have a letter from a psychiatrist stating that I am mentally stable. I laughed when I opened it, then hurtled down the stairs, waved it at my mum, and burst into tears in the kitchen.

I also have a letter for the same psychiatrist confirming a formal diagnosis of OCD. I’d been chasing one of those for years. I really wanted to be firmly stamped with that label, with the notion that maybe if I knew for sure what it was then I could stop it. Turns out it’s just three words on a sheet of paper, folded haphazardly by an assistant, and promptly lost upon receipt. The diagnosis just meant they recommended a medication that left me so nauseated I didn’t sleep for three days.

So. I have an anticlimactic diagnosis (and a few bonus ones), but I am mentally stable, and I have been completely unmedicated for three months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an anxious mess, but I’m a functional anxious mess who goes to work every day, answers messages occasionally, and finds joy in little things.

I’m writing this today following a few days of shaking and nausea and the odd bit of crying. Someone at work was ill and a friend was ill and I accidentally read an entire book in the garden today and my brain’s trying to convince me that I have sun stroke. I still have a long way to go. But six months ago even, this would have broken me.

 

Peace.

I’m in a war of swords and guns and all I have to fight back with is a wooden spoon.

My brain wants me dead. My brain tells me to close my eyes and  jump off bridges and play in traffic and let knives slip. It tells me these things in the same way it tells me to remove my hand from a hot oven tray; it seems like a sensible course of action. The dog is currently whining away at the bottom of the stairs thinking I hate her for skipping two walks now, but I don’t really trust myself to be that close to a road today.

Medication has increased to the maximum level and if I ever remember to call during daylight hours I am being referred to therapy again. I’m lonely and I’m scared and I’m dreading the winter.

But if Robin Williams could make it to sixty-three years old then I can hold on too. Bloody proud of that man.

Summer never looked so dark.

There’s a weird sort of restlessness that accompanies despair. It’s always at my lowest that I feel I have the most energy, and I refer to those times as my dangerous moods because complete, inconsolable misery in conjunction with a sudden burst of energy lands me in a very dangerous frame of mind where just about anything is possible.

I have spent the past few weeks drifting in and out of despair. Little Miss Relapse is still in full force and I’m genuinely worried this time. I have surrendered the keys to my mechanical steed, I have not been offended when my mum locks the car doors when I’m inside, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week.

 

Really struggling at the moment.

Right. Update time!

I am still alive – we’re off to a good start – and barely hallucinating, I have acquired a job that actually pays me (I have no idea what I’m doing but it’s fiiiiiine…), I’ve gone out and done things and met people, and I have bought a pretty dress for no reason. I still have virtually no attention span but I’m coping with that well.

That’s life in a nutshell.

I’m doing well. I’ve been doing okay for a while, but I am finally doing well. I am good. I’m pretty great, actually! …says the person who is having to re-type most words due to shaking like a leaf on a windy day. But today’s shaky is caffeine related and not medication related OR brain related so it’s hardly even relevant!

So yeah.

I am doing really well, and it only took four months! 😀

Denial

I am on a mission of re-integration. Desperate to work again, I have been liaising with someone henceforth to be known as ‘Trevor the life coach’, who has been psyching me up and is helping me adjust back into the real world a little bit at a time. For some reason I’ve avoided working with agencies set up specifically to help people with the problems that I have until now; completely daft idea born of stubbornness and generally being a daft individual.

Denial is my go-to state of mind in times of adversity, and thus having a complicated brain is definitely worthy of denial. I do talk about it, I do tell people I have limitations, but the “it’s all in my head” mind set is somehow still lingering, trying to convince me that I can just stop this silliness whenever I like. It is this little voice somewhere inside the tangle of thoughts whizzing about my head that results in me taking completely inappropriate jobs and trying to run before I can even stand up.

It’s not even just the brain things that I try to deny until they go away; there is an extensive list of foods that my body cannot digest and that make me ill, and yet I still use them regularly and just suffer through the consequences. This is more understandable though; please imagine that one day you were told that you could never eat milk products, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fruit, and so, so many other things ever again. Now think for a moment: what on Earth can you eat?

I think it is a similar story with the anxiety problems, though; I have difficulties going outside, being inside, eating, being with people, being alone….what on Earth can I do? I can deny it. I can tell myself that it is all just a bit of attention-seeking, I defy my limitations, and I do daft things that set me back further. It makes it easier to live with.

But right now I’m not after easy. So I am not eating things I can’t eat, and I am working with people who teach people how to live with uncooperative brains.

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