When BPD Makes You Obsessed With Trying New and Interesting Hobbies
If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.
My whole life, I’ve gone from one hobby or obsession to another. I used to think I was just incredibly fickle with no staying power, but since learning I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), I realize this is a very common phenomenon. Suddenly, my chronic short-lived obsessions didn’t seem quite so weird. Though not listed as one of the symptoms in the diagnostic criteria for BPD, it did seem to be a widespread occurrence amongst the BPD community. That said, I guess it could come under the symptom of “identity disturbance and a markedly and persistently unstable sense of self,” which is an official symptom.
See. everyone… I’m not fickle! I’m just your average borderline. Ha, “average borderline” — now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
Anyway, back to my fickle obsessions. It probably started for me at the tender age of 6. My stepmum used to do ballet and I would covet her ballet shoes with a fevered passion. I’d take them into the freezing cold dining room — she and my father had an aversion to heating the house for small children — hold them in my cold little hands and gaze upon them with awe and longing. “Yes,” I thought. “Yes, this is my destiny: Ballet.”
So, when they dropped me off home to my mum, I told her my plan. She promptly signed me up for ballet classes and bought all the expensive gear. Off I went to my first class in my new pretty pink leotard and ballet shoes. I was the prima ballerina and everyone would love me and gasp at my brilliance. The first class was amazing. I loved it and I was good. Granted, I was a little intimidated by the other girls, but my mum and stepmum on the bench reassured me and made me feel safe. Come to the end of the class, the teacher explained that, at the next lesson, there would be no mums so we could all concentrate on the tricky techniques. My whole body went cold as those words sunk in. No mums?! No way, I thought. When we got in, I told my mum I didn’t want to be a ballerina anymore and that was the end of that. My mum was quite baffled. Even at that young age, my abandonment fears were concrete strong and only set to get stronger. I was unhealthily attached to my mother. Looking back now, I can see she was my designated “favorite person,” another common BPD phenomenon.
Next came horse riding. My stepbrother had a horse and I decided this was my new calling. I became skilled enough that the club I belonged to wanted to enter me into competitions. Um, no. There was no way I could have all those eyes on me, judging me. So, I quit. All through my childhood, I went from one love to the next and they were always inspired by someone in my life whom I wanted to emulate. This is another unfortunate aspect of BPD that comes under that same symptom of identity disturbance. Borderlines have an unstable sense of self and we borrow our identity from those around us, known in the community as “mirroring.”
Into my teen years, and inspired by my musical peers I took up music lessons. I chose the flute and mastered it quickly… perhaps too quickly, as my tutor wanted me to play in the school band, so that was the end of that. Dance classes, ice skating, drawing, writing, and on and on it went. I got the urge for a new craft, mastered it, quit it and moved swiftly onto the next and this time, this time, I would stick at it. I promise.
Moving into adulthood, my obsessions did not let up. I was made redundant and I decided I would be a criminal psychologist, with no previous experience or qualifications. I spent hours upon hours trawling the internet and learning everything I could about notorious serial killers. There wasn’t one single piece of trivia I didn’t know about them. My husband was quite concerned about this new rather unhealthy obsession I had developed. I looked into what education I would need to fulfill my dream and as I was only educated to Level 3, it was quite daunting but a little thing like that wasn’t going to get in my way. I bought an online Level 4 course. I read books, watched documentaries, and then I just lost interest one day. I didn’t submit even one single assignment and I was seriously out of pocket to boot.
Ok, so the criminal psychologist didn’t work out. Hmmm, I needed to make money and fast. Oh, oh, oh! I had a vision once and it came true. And what about all those dreams I had that also came true? And my brother is psychic, so I probably am too. Ok, so that was my new career sorted. I’d be a clairvoyant. Seriously, how hard could that be? Off I went to the local witchy shop with smelly candles and snapped up every pack of tarot cards and fortune telling books I could find. Once home, I got to work. I practiced on myself for a few days and I was impressed. I really did have psychic skills. I did a reading one day that said there would be a death in the family, and that night I discovered my pet mouse stone cold dead in his cage! I did a little happy dance as I buried him in the garden. I was psychic! The next day, the reading said I would die a horrible death in my 40s. Oh. I threw all my cards and books in the bin and went back to work.
At work, my colleagues were into shakes and dieting so I had to get in on it. I took it to a whole new level. I chose a plan which consisted of three protein shakes a day. I spent about £500 on shakes — I ordered enough to live off for about three years. I bought ketone urine strips off the internet and tested my pee about 10 times a day to ensure I hadn’t knocked myself out of ketosis if I caved and ate a piece of chicken. I was wholly obsessed until, one day, I woke up and had some toast. I threw out hundreds of pounds worth of shakes without a second thought.
My most recent obsession was going vegetarian. At the time, I was on a parenting forum and there were lots of vegetarians on there, so of course, I had to be one too. It lasted the standard month. I watched endless videos on YouTube and bored everyone to death with stories of animal abuse within the farming and dairy industry. I was militant, but unfortunately, I had a craving for a toasted ham sandwich one day. It’s just a bit of ham, right? Eating pigs doesn’t count, right? For a few days, I hid my dirty little ham secret, sneaking meat here and there until I couldn’t be bothered to keep up the façade anymore. Hey everyone, guess what? So it turns out the farming and dairy industry isn’t quite so awful after all! Silly me. Um, can somebody pass the cheese, please?
I wonder what my next obsession will be. At the minute, I’m completely immersed in my new “favorite person,” so I have no time for any other obsession. Every waking minute is spent thinking about him, writing to him, about him or talking to him. But no physical contact, as he lives in another country and I’ve never actually met him. But that’s a story for another time…
Photo by Neil Bates on Unsplash