When You Start to Feel the Black Cloud of BPD Coming
It’s setting in — that big black cloud is slowly moving from the horizon towards the shore. I have had some of the best days I have had in years in this sun, only to get comfortable and almost complacent in my happiness, not expecting the weather to change.
That’s what it is. That is exactly how soul-destroying borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be for me. One minute I have love, light and laughter, and the next I feel my stomach jolt, like that moment when you first plunge down a rollercoaster ride. I am no stranger to the day-to-day struggles with this illness, however I am still getting used to the diagnosis. In the last 15 years, I have lived comfortably in the knowledge that I struggled with “high-functioning” depression and more recently anxiety. This knowledge has now been tilted on its axis.
The words, “You have borderline personality disorder or BPD for short,” changed everything but absolutely nothing at the same time.
You see, I have lived a life as two people. There was this firecracker sweetheart — a sexy, confident, chatty and kind person — she was my favorite. She had lots of friends, great friends, in all different areas of her life. She sang out loud because she felt like it, she danced in the rain, flirted with the opposite sex, charmed people with a genuine personality and all the while, she struggled with high-functioning depression. But she did it — she battled her way through and looked fierce doing it. Then there was the desolate ghost — a boring, irritable, depressive and downright moody person. She was — in short — miserable.
The last few days I described above as “some of the best days I have had in years” because I showered every day, put on makeup, did my first laundry wash in eight months (I buy underwear when I run out), I had sex — mind-blowing sex — I cooked, watched movies I have wanted to see for ages and I slept only at night. It was “normal,” it was functional and it made me happier than ever to wake up as early as this morning and have that light in my life, that hope.
But as I sit here eight hours later, I feel the air change. I can see this black cloud coming towards me. I know it, I have become a master of my own weather forecast for years now, and the thought that it is coming back is excruciatingly terrifying. What do I say to the friends I made plans with next week? What do I say to my partner who has got “his girl” back? What do I say to my parents whose first solid night’s sleep came after I told them about my day in more words than, “Fine, laid in bed. Didn’t do much”?
I got help after it getting so bad that I couldn’t leave the house to meet even the best of all those great friends of mine (the majority of who have slowly disappeared due to my lack of interest in life). These were women who empowered each other and never judged… well, rarely. They knew me, had gone through everything until that point with me and yet, here I was debilitated by fear at the thought of having to converse with them.
I’ll be honest, when I decided to get help, I just wanted an increase in my medication but, thankfully my GP saw the signs of a suicidal risk and sent me to the local psychiatric hospital. That hospital has kept me alive for longer than the medication would have. It has given me a clear diagnosis and a step-by-step recovery process to help me.
The first week after my diagnosis, I looked back over years of emotions, thoughts, life choices and I connected the dots. I won’t lie, at first I was enthusiastic — I had a title, was not alone, had help and thought to myself, I most definitely absolutely completely will conquer this!
And then, I mourned.
I mourned for all the hopes, dreams and possibilities for the future I had stored in this little box somewhere in my brain. I mourned for the firecracker sweetheart. I mourned for the skinny girl in me because with everything going on, a diet is the last thing I can maintain. I mourned, loudly & alone.
One thing my psychiatrist told me after the diagnosis is that there is no medicinal “fix” for this, and there will be waves and strong currents and it will be hard work every day to just keep my head above water. But he would help, he would teach me how to recognize the signs in advance and try to approach them rather than hide. He would guide me while I learned to navigate through this new territory as a young woman with an array of mental illness issues.
As I’m looking out at the black cloud across the shore while writing, I make a choice.
I think today may be the day I learn to swim against the tide.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo Aleutie.