When a Misplaced Piece of Paper Triggered a BPD Breakdown
I wake up feeling groggy and unable to move, last night’s antipsychotic still very much in my system begging me to go back to sleep, but it’s midday, and a voice inside my head says I should get up. That voice is judgment but also hopefulness. It belongs to the fighter in me, to the part of me that wants to do something with my life. “What’s the point?” screams anger and depression. I could honestly lie here all day. It would be easy to fall back to sleep, to let the hours pass me by, to move from one day to the next without even realizing it. A part of me wishes I could live this way because nothing can hurt me while I’m sleeping. Except for the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-infested nightmares, but even those are more manageable than life itself.
Eventually, I force myself out of bed to be with my partner and my pets. As I walk downstairs, I’m careful not to fall over my feet. In the living room, I’m unsteady on my legs, spilling the coffee given to me. The room looks murky, even though I know it isn’t, and the sunlight my partner adores so much burns my retinas, causing me to cover my eyes. I feel like screaming, though to who and what about, I’m unsure.
This isn’t ordinary tiredness; it’s an antipsychotic hangover. I continue like this for an hour, unmindfully sipping my coffee and chugging down my breakfast before I’m given my next dosage of medicine.
The hunger from the antipsychotic is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, so almost immediately after breakfast, I eat lunch. From there, I sneak into the kitchen and eat whatever else I find, always in secret. My partner tells me he doesn’t care how much I eat or what I weigh, but I can’t trust his words. As much as I want to believe him, he’s always one step away from abandoning me — or so my head tells me.
Back in the living room, I will myself to work on my novel, but I feel hopeless and inadequate. “You are not a writer,” says insecurity. “You’re a fraud, a useless piece of shit taking up space in a world not meant for you.” I roll over on the sofa, careful not to move in such a way that causes me to be aware of my stomach, but it’s inevitable. I feel the thick layers of fat rub against each other. I squeeze and pinch them with anger. How could I let myself get like this?
A month ago, I purchased a cross-trainer. My latest attempt to get fit, to do something other than lying on this sofa all day. Of course, building the cross-trainer brings its own set of challenges — challenges such as strength, motivation and focus. None of which I currently have.
“Bullshit!” says determination. “Get up and build the damn thing.” And so I do. I stand up and without saying a word to my partner, I bolt out of the room and force myself to build the cross-trainer. But there’s something about my mood that scares me. I pull apart boxes and throw pieces of equipment across the floor, no thought for what they hit or how they land. In this moment, I am rage and mania, and nothing will stand in my way. A defiant box refuses to open, so I rip off the tape with my teeth. I am so, so fast, and every inch of me is now shaking. Sweat drips down my brow, and I lose it. I pull a chunk of my hair out and curse myself for feeling this way. With all parts out of their boxes, I am ready to start — that is until I realize I have misplaced the instruction sheet. Rage gushes out of me as I fly from room to room looking for the damn thing. I pull out books from their shelves, desperate to find it, but nothing. My breathing is heavy, my legs unsteady. Dizziness finds its way to my head, and I swear I’m about to pass out. Fuck it. So what if I faint? I need to find this thing. I charge about the house in a panicked frenzy.
Accepting that I cannot and probably will not find the instructions is a challenge of its own. From experience, I’ve learnt that accepting what feels like failure during the middle of a manic episode is dangerous for me. Still, there comes a point where I know I have to quit.
I sit down on the sofa and cry. I am this close to screaming, but I don’t want to scare the animals, so I silence myself and I go inwards. Thoughts of self-harm fill my head, and I’m not going to lie, it’s comforting. It’s so comforting that I fall into the thoughts quite blissfully. Ironically, they feel like the only thing keeping me safe right now.
My partner, who is currently at busy at work, joins me on the sofa and does all he can to help me through this. He understands that a major part of my borderline personality disorder is finding an immediate fix, so he calls the company to ask them to send out an instruction manual. As he fixes things, I’m joined by shame and disgust, who are utterly intent on destroying me and my relationships. They mock me, scoff at me and tell me I am poison. “How could you do this to him?” shame says. “How could you interrupt his workday like this? You are selfish.”
I cry and cry, desperate to let out every last drop of poison, but I can’t. It’s so deep within me, so finely rooted in the core of my being. I will never expel it. Knowing this fills me with a new sense of dread, and it is at this moment I realize I want to die. More than want.
I need to die.
I need to die.
Recognizing this, my partner tends to me. He administers me a sedative and watches over me closely until my eyes are heavy and I give into sleep.
When I wake a few hours later, I am calm and rested and alive. I recognize that if it hadn’t been for his calm intervention, my partner may well have been dealing with my suicide. I am grateful to him for issuing me the sedative, but I am still feeling suicidal and I know it will take some time for that to settle down.
Looking back on the events of earlier today, I feel ashamed and angry with myself for reacting so very extremely to such an ordinary set of circumstances. I understand I have an illness, and I am unfortunately not in control of my emotions. Perhaps one day I’ll find a way to cope with such mundane situations in a controlled and “ordinary” manner. Perhaps I’ll learn that self-harm or suicide is not the immediate “answer” I desire, but until then, I will work hard to understand and accept my reactions. I will try to listen to my partner when he tells me I have nothing to be ashamed of and that he loves me regardless of these breakdowns, regardless of my diagnosis.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
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Getty image by Alexander Cherepanov