Katie Kent

@katie-kent | contributor
I have BPD and OCD and writing helps me come to terms with my illnesses and get things out of my head. If I can help people with mental illness too, that would be great.
Katie Kent

To the Critics of Simone Biles' Choice to Prioritize Her Mental Health

This past week, I’ve been glued to the Olympics. My favorite Olympic sport has always been gymnastics, and that has generated one of the biggest news stories of the Games so far after Simone Biles, unarguably one of the most successful gymnasts of all time, pulled out of the team final after one routine. Until this Olympics, Simone looked unstoppable. She already has four gold medals from the Rio 2016 Olympics, as well as 19 golds from various World Championships. She needed four more medals to become the most decorated gymnast of all time, and it seemed a foregone conclusion she would achieve this accolade. Previews of the team final talked about who would finish second behind the USA, and previews of the all-around final focused on who would come second after her. But when the Olympics started, we saw Simone was not her usual self. She was shaky in qualifications, although still managed to get the highest all-around score. Afterward, she posted on Instagram she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was a side we had not seen from her before. She started the team final, but messed up her vault, only doing 1.5 twists instead of the 2.5 twists she had planned — one of the most difficult vaults in the world. She scored 13.7, which was her lowest ever score in Olympic competition. Afterward, it was obvious something was up. She looked rattled, and immediately left the arena with her coach. She soon came back, but we then saw her talking to her teammates, and shortly afterward it was announced she had withdrawn entirely from the team final due to a “medical issue.” That medical issue, we learned later, was a mental health problem, not a physical one. Simone spoke honestly, saying she was not feeling like herself and she had just felt like she couldn’t continue. She said she had an anxiety attack a few hours before the competition, being unable to sleep. She’d never felt like that before. The news drew a lot of attention, both positive and negative. Many other people both in and out of the sports industry came along in support of her, saying how brave she was to prioritize her mental health. But there were also plenty of people slating her for being a “quitter” and for letting her team down (they were beaten to first place for the first time in years by the Russian Olympic Committee). “She should have been able to handle the pressure,” they said. As if being a world-famous athlete makes you immune to mental health issues. Anyone can struggle with  mental illness . Simone said later she has been in therapy, trying to come to terms with the abuse she had endured from team doctor Larry Nassar as she was growing up. Imagine the pressure of dealing with all that as well as being the most recognized gymnast around the world, and always being expected to succeed. It was probably no wonder she was struggling. I am an ex-gymnast myself. Not the same type of gymnastics as Simone — I participated in sports acrobatics, which involved pair work where I did handstands on my partner’s hands and things like that. I started at the young age of 4, and for a while, gymnastics was an important of my life. I did OK, I have several medals from competitions, and was doing some really difficult skills. Perhaps I could have made something of it if I’d carried on. But I quit when I was 11. By that time, my family had moved away from the gym I belonged to. I carried on going to training, with my family driving me half an hour each way several times a week. But when I got to 11, my gymnastics partner at the time left to have a baby. When the coaches started to talk about partnering me with someone new, I decided I didn’t want to continue. I struggled with mental health problems in my childhood and teenage years, which would have made carrying on difficult anyway. As it was, I was always much better in practice sessions. When it got to competitions, I’d get incredibly anxious and always mess something up. Social anxiety afflicted me after I moved house at the age of 13, and that would have made it difficult to bond with a new partner. In sports acrobatics, the bond with your partner is one of the most important things. When I was 16 or 17, I also began to struggle with  anorexia , which would have made gymnastics difficult, as I would not have been strong enough. Back then, it was not a socially acceptable thing to talk about your mental health. I’m glad that things are changing. I know the pressure to carry on. I’ve been signed off work for stress and mental health problems several times. My parents have not always been very understanding. My dad was a bit of a workaholic before he retired and I remember him telling me a few years ago, “I know it’s tempting to take time off when you’re not feeling at your best, but your employers might look badly upon you and fire you.” These words, which Simone is no doubt seeing on social media and in some newspapers, make things worse. I only got it from my family. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have that kind of criticism magnified many times when you are already feeling fragile. Some of the detractors say if Simone knew she was having problems, then why go to Tokyo at all? Why not pull out earlier and give someone else the chance to take her place? But mental illness comes and goes. Maybe she felt well enough before the Games started. When I was signed off work last year, I initially resisted it when my manager suggested I might not be well enough to work. Our team was extremely short-staffed, and I didn’t want to let people down. I wanted to push myself for the team. But it got to the point where it was dangerous to my mental health to continue working. And that was just an office job. Imagine how much riskier it would be to try and “push through” and carry on if you’re performing dangerous gymnastics routines. Apparently it’s called “the twisties,” the mental block which can cause you to lose where you are in the air and miss moves. I’d never heard of it before the Tokyo Olympics, but it sounds really scary. How dangerous it must be to perform when you’re struggling like this. Those who say she quit in a tantrum because she got a bad score need to realize it’s much more likely to have been the other way around. The bad score was the symptom, not the cause. It was the sign things were not as they should be in her head. Those who criticize and mock her make me so angry. They ask why it’s OK for athletes to quit, that they should have more “mental toughness.” I say, why is it OK for people to go against what their heads and bodies are telling them, to risk themselves, just for a gold medal? I admire Simone for taking a step back and saying, “I’m not safe to continue.” World-famous athletes are people too, and they deserve our understanding and compassion when they struggle with mental health problems, as much as anyone does. Things have gotten so much better in terms of mental health awareness since I started struggling some 25 years ago, and that is definitely something to celebrate. But we still have a long way to go as a society, and that is evident in the negative reactions I’ve been reading all week. We all need to realize we have a right to stand up for ourselves, to prioritize our mental health over work, whether that work is being in a chair answering emails all day, stacking shelves in a supermarket or performing breathtaking and dangerous gymnastics routines in the Olympics. I already admired Simone before all this, and now I admire her even more. We should all be applauding Simone for her bravery, not denigrating her.

Why I Post About My Mental Health on Facebook

As a millennial, I spend a fair amount of my day on social media. The usage tracker on my phone says that I spend approximately two hours per day on Facebook alone, which, yes, seems excessive. But consider the fact that most of that time spent on Facebook happens in the wee small hours of the morning, when I’m consumed with anxiety about an argument I had on the playground when I was six, berating myself for what I should have said to that bully. Or when I’m so locked in by my crushing fear of abandonment, I wonder why my husband is even bothering to sleep next to me when he should be packing my bags to throw me out of the house. Or those nights when it’s just plain old insomnia keeping me up, my physical body exhausted but my brain firing on all cylinders. Those are the nights I spend the most time on Facebook. Those are also the nights I get really honest about my mental health on Facebook. Which, as has been brought to my attention, makes some people very uncomfortable. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be so open about such private matters on such a visible platform. Forget about family and friends; what if a potential employer takes a peek at my social media presence and decides they don’t want to hire someone who constantly posts memes about how emotionally unstable she is? There are a couple of reasons that I post so openly, so frequently, about the state of my mental health. And none of them have anything to do with the people who don’t want me to do it. Firstly, and most importantly, I firmly believe that there are not enough people engaging in conversation about mental health. I was raised in a family rife with mental health issues — from a mother who more than likely struggled with bipolar disorder and who experienced severe bouts of depression, to a father who spent a lifetime battling a raging alcohol dependency, to not one but two siblings who (like myself) attempted suicide at some point in their lives. But there was a simple solution to the problem: don’t talk about it. Ever. When I was around 13, my sister spent a week in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital after attempting suicide. There was no conversation about why she did it, no call to arms amongst my family members to rally around my clearly unstable sister and help her get the long-term help she obviously needed. Nobody stayed with her after she was released from the hospital. A few days later, she was back at work as though nothing had happened. It was never brought up again. I had so many questions. Why did she do it? Was it an accident, or was she trying to kill herself? What about her kids? What would have happened to them if she had succeeded? Why wasn’t anyone staying with her to make sure she didn’t do it again? Would she do it again? Why weren’t we talking about this? I felt as though the most significant thing to ever happen to my family had just occurred, and it was swept under the rug and forgotten about nearly as soon as it was over. I thought she was a coward, trying to take the “easy way” out of her problems instead of just dealing with them, as was expected of members of my family. I remember feeling angry at her for being so selfish, for completely ignoring the welfare of the three little ones who depended on her, who loved her, who needed her if they were going to grow up right. The irony was not lost on me when, 20 years later, I would be sitting in the psych ward of my local hospital after swallowing my own bottle of sleeping pills while my two-year-old slept in the bedroom next door. It took a long time and quite a bit of therapy for me to come to terms with what I did and the real reasons behind it, for me to begin to crawl out of the darkness and see some semblance of light again. Is that what it was like for her? How could it have been? I had the support of my endlessly patient husband as well as my in-laws, a spot in an intensive partial-hospitalization program where my deteriorating mental health could no longer be ignored, as well as a private therapist and nurse practitioner to manage the fistful of medications I was prescribed. I had every resource available to me to get the help that I needed to make sure that I never looked down the barrel of a controlled substance again. My sister had none of that. Would things have turned out differently for me had there been a discussion at the time about my sister’s suicide attempt? Might I have had some more insight about why I did it, about the consequences of my actions, if her silent screams for help hadn’t been ignored? Would knowing more about why she did it have stopped me from doing it altogether? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but I know that I spent a very long time denying that there was anything wrong with me. I ignored the depressive episodes, convincing myself I was just sad. The 72-hour hold I was placed on (for self-harm and suicidal ideation) in college was just a result of the stress of trying to manage life on my own now that I was away from home. I paid no mind to the explosive outbursts of anger I would experience, or how that anger would suddenly dissipate as if nothing had happened. My self-harming was a childish habit that I would eventually grow out of (guess what – it wasn’t). It would be years before I would hear the terms “splitting” or “dissociation” used to describe my all-or-nothing thinking and my feeling as though what is happening around me is happening to someone else (all of which are symptoms of borderline personality disorder, which I was only just recently, at 34, diagnosed with). I brushed my husband aside when he begged me to get help because there was “nothing wrong with me.” I have spent the last 20 years avoiding getting help because, hey, if my sister didn’t need it, then why would I? I don’t speak with my sister anymore (or anyone else in my family, but that’s a story for a different day), so I can’t ask her about it. I wish I could. I wish I could tell her how much more we should have done, as a family, to support her when she needed us most. I wish I could tell her about my own stint in the hospital and the seemingly endless ramifications that one impulsively stupid decision would have on the rest of my life. I would tell her that I don’t think she’s a coward, or selfish, that I now understand what it feels like to think you have nothing left to live for, even if what you’re living for is sleeping in the next room. I want to tell her that, even now, I love her, and that I’m sorry she had to go through that alone. This brings me to the second reason I talk so openly about mental health, mine in particular, on social media. No one should ever, ever, have to feel like they are battling mental health issues alone. Mental illnesses are terrifying. They take up space in your mind and your soul and they make you feel like you are less than human. They tell you things that aren’t true, and convince you that your own senses can’t be trusted. They reach in and infect every aspect of your world, leaving you to desperately try to keep up, to desperately try to keep the pieces of your broken life intact. But you know that no matter how hard you fight, your illness is stronger than you. It is smarter than you. It is bigger than you. You are the 6-year-old on the playground, and your very mind is the bully you are trying to defend yourself against. Trying to navigate mental illness with a firm support system in place is hard enough. Trust me — it’s been nearly two years since my suicide attempt and I am still nowhere near where I want to be in my recovery process. But to have to go through it all by yourself? No wonder there were more than 47,000 suicides in the United States in 2017 alone. I belong to a number of mental health support groups on Facebook. We share silly memes and complain about our spouses, even share book recommendations and recipes (which would be helpful if I cooked, but whatever). But we also reach out for help when we’re feeling like we just can’t make it another day. We ask about side effects of the innumerable medications we are all on. We connect and we share and we support each other. We make sure that every single one of us knows that we are not alone. I know, without knowing a single one of those group members in person, that I could message them at any time, day or night, and they would respond to help. Because they have been there. They know what it feels like to battle an entity so ingrained in your psyche that it can convince you it doesn’t even exist. Talking about something makes that something seem smaller, more easily managed. Talking about something with someone who knows where you’re coming from? That takes the scariness factor down a couple of much-appreciated notches. So why not just post in those groups? Why post on my main page, where anyone unlucky enough to follow me has to read about my daily struggle to keep my shit together? Because some of you don’t know that you’re not alone. For every 10 people who have told me that I shouldn’t post such private material in a public forum, I’ve had one person message me to tell me that they appreciate the fact that I do it. I’ve had friends I haven’t spoken to in years talk about their PTSD or their depression, ask me for therapist recommendations or for more information about one of my Pandora’s Box of diagnoses (ADHD, BPD, postpartum depression, and generalized anxiety disorder for those keeping track). From people who don’t suffer from a mental illness, I’ve been thanked for opening their eyes to the difficulties faced by those who do. I don’t want to come across as though I think I’m doing the world a service by complaining about how awful my brain makes me feel sometimes. But, really? I kind of am. Because there are other people out there whose brains make them feel awful sometimes, too. I want those people to know that I feel them, that I feel for them, and that I am here for them. I want you all to know that you are not alone. I’ve been told that my constant posting of material related to my mental health (and mental health in general) is inappropriate. That it makes people uncomfortable. Good. It should make you uncomfortable. It should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up to know that a person you know is going through something so unfathomably bleak. You can never truly understand what it is like to be at war with your own mind, but you should understand that it’s happening to people you love, to people you work with, to people you meet on the street. People who seem so together and so “with it” might be struggling with a demon you can’t begin to comprehend. People you would never suspect may be holding a razor blade to their wrist at night, wondering if they can make it through just one more day. People you know are turning to drugs or alcohol to make the voices stop, to make the pain go away, to make their world make sense again. People are hurting, and you need to know about it. That’s why I post.

Katie Kent

Finding a New 'Favorite Person' as Someone With Borderline (BPD)

After my previous favorite person (FP) left me, I was determined I would never have another one again. How could I? I got too obsessed, things got too intense and it hurt like hell when she left. I was sure I could never have another friend I was that close to. I have other friends, many of them close, but things were healthier. I didn’t rely on them the way I did with my FP, and that was a good thing. I was happy not to have that intense bond with anyone else. I thought I had learned something and that I could never get that close to anyone again. Yet here I am telling you I’ve found a new FP… When I met Rachel (not her real name), I was her mentor at work. She had started working with me in January. At first, I noticed nothing remarkable about her. We didn’t have much to say to each other. There was nothing to suggest to me that she might become a new FP. I had seen on her Facebook profile that she was interested in men and women (I’m gay) but we didn’t really have occasion to talk about that and I kind of forgot about it. But then another friend set up a writing group at work. We’re both writers and so we started to go to that together every week. After a couple of weeks, I wrote a story about a girl who fancied another girl and Rachel and I ended up in a discussion about women we were attracted to. It was then I realized that 1) we had the same taste in women and 2) she was a good listener and easy to talk to. Soon after, I realized I was having the same feelings about her that I had about my last FP. I’d been close to other people in the meantime, but I never felt any of them could become my FP. I honestly thought it wouldn’t happen again. And that it couldn’t happen again. It scared me when I realized it was happening again. I started to think I should stop being friends with her entirely. Because what if the same thing happened and she left me too? What if I got too obsessed and drove her away? What if I destroyed her like I feel I did with my last one? In hindsight, it was optimistic to think I would never get this with anyone else. I am in therapy, but I still have borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD can be prone to these sort of friendships. It’s part of my BPD. We have relationship difficulties. That’s what BPD is about. Often we either avoid relationships entirely or we get too needy. We often don’t have enough self-worth and so we measure our worth with our relationships. If people like us, we are worth something. If relationships break down, it proves what we have known all along — that we are worthless and that no one likes us and everyone will abandon us. So we cling to people, terrified of them leaving. We get dependent on them. We expect too much. But there are positives to this kind of friendship. I didn’t want to have to back away just because of my borderline personality disorder. I just have to try and learn lessons from how the last one played out. Make this one a positive thing rather than a negative thing. I don’t think I can help the fact I am prone to having FPs. But what I can help is the way I act with this FP. It’s already been hard. I spent several days thinking she was getting sick of me as she didn’t reply to me as quickly as usual. She was busy at work, but I interpreted it as my fault. She was drifting away. I had lost her already. I got angry at myself and very negative. I did bad things. I scared myself with the fact that it was obvious I was getting dependent. She could tell there was something up, and she asked if I was OK. As soon as we talked about it and she reassured me she wasn’t mad at me and didn’t want to stop being my friend, I felt on top of the world. And that scared me too. The fact that as soon as she was particularly nice to me, I was suddenly fine. It was a bad sign. But I have to learn from my mistakes. The alternative would be to say, “Sorry, I can’t do this.” And then I would be losing the positive things about the friendship. It’s nice to have a close friend who I can talk to about almost anything and who I can share good things with. Rachel read my article about what happened with my last FP and is as determined as I am to make sure that doesn’t happen with us. She told me I could never drive her away, but I know no one can promise that. We just both have to do our best to prevent it. So, what have I learned? Firstly, there has to be more to our friendship than my illnesses. I’m trying hard to make sure she knows more about me than just that, as there is a lot more to me. Secondly, we need to have an equal friendship. I want to know things about her, it can’t all be about me as it was last time. Thirdly, it’s OK to have time apart. I’ve just been on holiday for five days and didn’t text her once. Because I needed to prove to myself I could do that. It’s also OK for her to have days when she doesn’t text me. It doesn’t mean she’s sick of me. It’s hard to remember that in the heat of the moment when my emotions are going haywire, but I need to try. And the most important one — only I can fix myself. No one else can do that for me. I always used to think my FP was going to magically rescue me and solve all my problems. Rachel will be reading this, so maybe she would like to know how she can help me with this. I would say, let me know if I seem to be getting too obsessive or dependent or am talking about nothing but my illnesses. Make sure we have days when we don’t text or email each other. Talk about yourself and don’t let me always dominate conversations. Understand that I will panic at times and think you’re going to leave me. I am trying to be better, but my BPD symptoms are not going to disappear overnight. Paranoia is part of my BPD. It means a lot to me that Rachel wants to be friends with me and is willing to work with me to make sure the friendship works. I think it’s OK to have a favorite person as long as it doesn’t become unhealthy, like it did with my last one. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Unsplash photo via Rawpixel.

Katie Kent

Object Constancy and Borderline Personality Disorder During COVID-19

I’m halfway through a long-term group therapy program, which was extended by six months due to lockdown as we didn’t meet for a while, initially, until we began to use Zoom and then Microsoft Teams for our sessions. In therapy, I’ve made good progress with my borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms. Some of them seem to be barely there anymore, and others are much reduced. However, recently, I experienced a flare-up of some old feelings and behaviors, triggered by lockdown. The first lockdown wasn’t so bad for me. Initially, I really struggled with working from home, and this caused a flare-up of some anxiety symptoms, but once I’d got over the initial change, I settled down and more or less got used to it. It was novel, and had its benefits. I saved money by not going out. I also hadn’t long celebrated my 40th birthday. I was lucky — my wife and I had had a holiday to Iceland, and when I got back I had my usual birthday do with friends. I also went for dinner with my parents, and drinks with work colleagues. During the lockdown, I stayed in touch with friends regularly. I had one friend from work whom I rang once a week on my lunch break, and from time to time I rang other friends. I arranged quite a few video calls with friends and took part in some organized by family. Working from home, my manager had arranged an optional daily video call to keep in touch, after my initial struggles, and I had a close friend in my team who I could message whilst I was working, if I struggled. When lockdown eased, I met up with a few friends and family. It wasn’t the same as usual, but I made the best of it. The second lockdown was shorter, and I got through it fine. I’d spent time with some friends and family in the intervening period, so I’d had plenty of social contact. When the third big lockdown started before Christmas, it was initially not too bad. I was upset at not being able to see my family for Christmas as usual, but my wife and I enjoyed a Christmas to ourselves and it was novel to make dinner together and spend the day with our new dog and with our cat, who is usually on his own whilst we visit my family. However, it soon lost its novelty and started to drag. Coupled with a big change at work — change often triggers my obsessive-compulsive disorder ( OCD ) and BPD symptoms — I started to slip back into old patterns of thinking and acting. Working from home, I suddenly felt really lonely . My friend in the team had left several months previously and I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about how the changes were affecting me at work. The friend I used to ring every week was now on maternity leave, with another friend and my manager also shortly due to do the same. A friend at therapy had decided to leave the group and due to the group rules, I wasn’t allowed to talk to him for over a year. With other friends, I started to read things into our interactions. If a friend didn’t respond to a message quickly, they must be sick of me. If they didn’t reach out and ask how I was doing, they must hate me. I thought about arranging calls with people, but started to think that if they hadn’t asked me for a call, they weren’t interested in talking to me. I tested people, waiting for them to get in touch to prove that they cared. It had been so long since I had seen my friends that I was sure that I didn’t have friends anymore. And that made me feel worthless. I started having self-harm and suicidal thoughts partly to punish myself for my perceived inability to have friends, and partly because I just wanted someone to care. The old BPD push-pull thinking reared its head again. I really longed for someone to reach out to me, but when I did get friends contacting me, I wanted them to leave me alone and could barely say anything to them. I had to take time off sick from work for a few days. I was sitting there at my desk crying and every time I answered an email, I felt like it wasn’t important. It seemed so insignificant when I was questioning whether I even wanted to be alive. I started to feel anxious, my head felt foggy and when I went to bed to read on my lunch break one day, I couldn’t force myself back to my desk afterward. A while ago in therapy, we covered object permanence and constancy and how people with BPD struggle with them. Object permanence is the idea that objects or people continue to exist when they can’t be seen, touched or sensed. Object constancy is the idea that someone still loves and cares about us even when they are not there. For people with BPD , childhood trauma has often meant that they did not fully develop these skills. Their fear of abandonment leads them to see temporary absences as another abandonment and they can doubt that the other person is thinking about them or even remembers who they are. I have certainly struggled with these. Working at home, I sometimes feel invisible and unimportant. When I was triggered recently, it felt like no one cared because I was alone. I was sure that everyone had forgotten about me, and that sent me into a spiral. I wanted to reach out, but I was sure that no one cared and when it got really bad, the push-pull behavior of BPD meant that I isolated myself even further. Then, a friend got in touch asking how my week had been and suggesting we have a chat soon. At first, I was so paranoid that no one liked me that I had to check that my wife hadn’t put her up to it (she had got in touch with another friend and asked them to contact me as I was feeling bad, so my concern was that people only wanted to talk to me because she had asked them to). Yet when I had established this wasn’t the case and texted my friend back telling her how I had been feeling, I started to feel a bit better. I went back to work, and although I was still working from home, the contact with people helped. Slowly, I pulled myself out of the negative thought spiral. I had a couple of video calls with friends and let people know how I’d been feeling. Lockdown has been hard for many people’s mental health and I am likely to experience further struggles working alone at home and not being able to see people. My trouble with object constancy does mean that I am liable to feel ignored when I am so far removed from anyone except my wife. But I need to try and remember that people do care, and try to reach out next time I feel like this.

Katie Kent

How the Pandemic Interrupted My Mental Health Recovery Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruption to everyone’s lives. For those of us with mental health difficulties, the change to our everyday routines has had the potential to cause a flare-up of symptoms, and this has certainly happened for me. However, as time has gone on, I have settled into the new routine, whilst still being a bit unsettled by the changes that have occurred. But one of the biggest effects the pandemic has had on my life is the alteration to my mental health recovery plan. Before lockdown, I had been attending a group therapy program for people with personality disorders for just over a year. In October I moved from the first stage of the group, the two-hour “emotional skills group,” into the next stage, the “therapeutic community” (TC). As a member of the TC, I attended the group for five hours every Monday and worked the remaining four days of the week. When lockdown began, the TC was no longer able to meet. Some video sessions were suggested, but not everyone in the group has access to the technology needed for this, although the staff are looking at ways around this in the future. So instead, for the past two months, each of us have had a 20-minute phone call every Monday afternoon with one of the four therapists who run the group (rotating on a weekly basis). We’ve had a couple of worksheets sent to us to fill out to discuss in the phone calls, but the individual phone calls have been a big change from the group dynamic we are used to. The idea of the group is that people with personality disorders often struggle with relationships, and in the group, we can practice those relationships. There are interactive sessions involving the whole group and even in the intensive personal sessions we are divided into two groups to discuss issues affecting us, so that the other group members, with the help of the therapists, can advise us and draw on their own experiences. We’ve been encouraged, as we also were before lockdown, to call each other if we are struggling, to talk through how we are feeling and think about what we can do to help ourselves. We were also asked, when discussing the possibility of sessions halting before it actually happened, to check in with each other regularly, just to see how everyone was doing. I made a commitment to ring someone every week even if I wasn’t struggling, and I have now spoken to everyone in the group at least once. Some people in the group are finding the current circumstances really difficult, and others are taking it well and seem to be feeling pretty good. But what I have heard from many of the group is that they will find it hard to go back to the TC. Many people with personality disorders are not used to reaching out for help and talking about their problems. Being in the TC has helped them with these issues, but as more time goes on without the sessions, the more out of practice we all become and the harder it will be to go back to the group dynamic. My problem has never really been not reaching out, it’s been the opposite — relying on people too much and talking about my problems too much. Yet I have made progress with this through my work in the TC. Now I find myself keeping things to myself more, with the limited time I am getting for therapy now. There is never really enough time in 20 minutes a week to cover how I am feeling and what has been happening, as well as who I have spoken to and any worksheets I have been through. In particular, I have put on a bit of weight due to not walking as much as I used to, and as someone with a history of an eating disorder, I am struggling with this. I know I can call people in the group, but as time goes on I am getting less used to talking about how I am feeling, and more inclined to keep my feelings to myself. We attend TC for 18 months. My leaving date was set for April 2021. Until then, I would attend TC every Monday. When it became clear that TC would have to stop, we were reassured that the leaving dates for everyone would be shifted to account for the time we weren’t able to attend. This means a delay in my recovery. It’s not realistic to expect that I’ll be “cured” when I finish in TC, but I’ve already started to make progress. With my leaving date shifted later, it naturally means more time in therapy and longer before I get back to “normal” life, including full-time work. With lockdown imposed, many plans I had considered putting in place to help with my recovery have also been put on hold. My OCD and traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder mean that my whole life is planned, measured or counted and I find any unplanned deviations from my routine extremely anxiety-provoking. In my three-month review in the TC, I spoke about my problems with spontaneity and how I could start to try and overcome them. One of the main things I was thinking about doing was emailing a few friends at work and asking them to invite me to lunch with them at the last minute from time to time. When I am at work, my lunchtimes are as carefully controlled as anything else in my life. I have my writing group on Friday lunchtime, and with the remaining three days I go for a walk for one, write for another and usually have lunch with a friend with the remaining one. Sometimes, a friend does ask me at last minute if I’d like to join them for lunch, and most of the time I say no, as I already have my lunchtime plans in my head, and find it very hard to change them. But I was going to practice this. Obviously now when working from home this isn’t possible. I can’t go to lunch with friends. Instead, I go for a walk with my wife and the neighbor’s dog (the neighbor is in a high risk group and is self-isolating). As the walk at lunchtime is the only walk I’m now doing every day, it makes it even harder for my brain to change my plans. The stakes are higher. However, this brings with it opportunities. A few weeks ago, it poured with rain most days. The neighbor was in touch to say her dog wouldn’t want to go out in the rain. One day I went out anyway and walked on my own as my wife wasn’t keen. Another day she came with me. But there was one day where the rain was relentless. It had been coming down all day and even I didn’t want to go out. I kept looking out of the window and thinking “maybe it will stop soon.” But it didn’t. I really didn’t want to go out in the rain, but my brain was screaming at me that I needed to go for a walk and I would get fat if I didn’t go. It was really hard, but I challenged myself. Instead of going out, I rang someone else from the TC and talked about how I was feeling. By the evening it had stopped raining and I could have gone for a walk after work, but I didn’t. I took the opportunity to challenge myself and skip that day’s walking. With the therapists from the TC, I have also thought about other ways to assist my recovery under the current guidelines. I took a half day off work and scheduled in some spontaneity. The very idea of this sounds counter-productive, but the therapist explained the idea was to do whatever I felt like that afternoon, when it got to it, rather than planning it out. I usually plan out all my days off, too. It was only half-successful — my brain just automatically plans and it’s hard to stop it. But even though I already had an idea of what I wanted to do with the time, I hadn’t planned an order and I didn’t set time limits on the activities I was doing (writing, Lego, playing on the PS4, reading). I had to put my phone face down and stick a blob of blu tack over the time on the laptop when I was writing, but it was a start. With the current situation, everyone has more restrictions than usual. This naturally means that opportunities for recovery are reduced. But I think it’s important to think of creative ways to challenge ourselves and to actively work on our recovery. For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community: 6 Tips If You’re Anxious About Being Unable to Go to Therapy Because of COVID-19 What to Do If the Coronavirus Health Guidelines Are Triggering Your Anxiety or OCD For Anyone Who Needs to Hear This: It’s OK to Just Exist Right Now Making the Most Out of Virtual Mental Health Appointments

Community Voices

How Covid-9 is affecting my mental health as someone with OCD

While Covid-19  spreads around the world, advice has gone out about how to look after your mental health during the outbreak.

I have OCD, and have seen many people with contamination-based obsessions and compulsions posting on OCD forums. For people who have struggled with obsessive handwashing in the past and been told to reduce those compulsions, the current advice on frequent and prolonged handwashing and other precautionary advice has been a trigger.

My OCD isn’t based around contamination and hygiene usually, although I did over the past few days become a bit panicked by articles saying how much bacteria is on people’s phones, and spent a couple of hours frantically Googling articles about how to make it clean and looking at antibacterial wipes and UV sterilizers. However, the virus has triggered my OCD in other ways.

My OCD is, as is the case with most people’s, based around control. I feel a strong need to count, measure, time or otherwise control most aspects of my life. And with the advice on precautions changing by the hour, and likely to keep changing in the future- should we self-isolate if we live with someone who has symptoms? Should we work from home? Should we go out for dinner? Should we stop visiting older relatives?- my routine has been thrown out, and this is making me panic. I like to plan out the coming hours, days and weeks with certainty, and that’s not really possible right now.

I’m worried about the possibility of the country (I live in the UK) going into lockdown in the future. As part of my OCD, I do a certain amount of walking every week. After therapy, this is much less obsessive than it used to be. I used to time my walking to the second with a stopwatch, taking it everywhere with me. I don’t do that now, but I do go out walking one lunchtime every week, as well as walking to and from the train station and work every day, and if I have to miss one of these walking sessions, I get very anxious- in fact I don’t let myself miss a session. If we are all forced to go into isolation, are we even allowed to go out walking? The idea of missing that feels me with panic.

Even worse, though, are my obsessions around work. One of my biggest OCD worries is the idea of losing my job. In a recent therapy session I explored this, and came to the conclusion that it is based around money. I was brought up to see money as important, and I panic at the thought of not having an income. I actually have a fair amount of savings and am in a better position than a lot of people, but it’s that idea of control again. I want to control how much money I have and plan what to use it for. The idea of having to spend it all to make up for a loss of income freaks me out.

My compulsions around this obsession play out at work by trying to control the number of emails I have, by avoiding answering some if I don’t think I have enough. This always comes back to bite me, as I then find myself way too busy and get behind because I have avoided answering them previously. This had recently flared up because of some changes made at work anyway. But they have got worse with the Covid-19  outbreak.

My wife had been worried about her job recently as the company were struggling to get jobs in and she is now saying this might be even worse with the virus going around. The thought of not having her income terrifies me and I’m spending a lot of time really anxious and worrying about her losing her job.

I currently work four days a week, with a group therapy programme all day on a Monday. I am lucky that my company are paying sick leave for me to attend this therapy. However there is the prospect that the therapy group might have to close down for a few months as the situation with Covid-19 gets worse. There are already people in the group who have decided not to come in because of their worries around passing the virus to vulnerable relatives.

If the group does close, I will have to go back to working five days a week for a while. I can’t take sick leave for just sitting at home every Monday! But the idea terrifies me. As well as the fact that I won’t have the support of therapy for that time (and part of the contract we entered into when starting the group was not to see any other therapists during that time), I am really scared that I won’t have enough work for five days and will run out and get fired. Logically I can see that this is OCD thinking- as it is I am not getting through all my work in four days, we are short-staffed and everyone else is struggling so I could always help them out. But I am going over and over it in my brain and panicking that it might result in me losing my job. I know my work-based compulsions are likely to get worse in the coming weeks and months.

One of the pieces of advice about how to look after your mental health is to reduce the amount of time you spend reading or watching the news, and to do other things to distract yourself. I think this could be useful advice for me to follow. Over the past few days I’ve obsessively refreshed the news app I use every few minutes to see what’s going on with the virus, even when watching a film or playing games. It started with just a general interest but now I think doing this is proving

counter-productive and increasing my anxiety as more and more infections are reported and precautions advised. Over the coming weeks and months, I will try to take each day as it comes and not worry too much about how things will change in the future.

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Katie Kent

Borderline Personality Disorder Makes Me Want to Stay Sick

The fear of abandonment shows itself in many different ways in different people. I hear a lot of people are too afraid to let anyone know they are sick because they worry people will leave them. For me, for the past few years, it’s been the exact opposite. I’ve had the idea that if I wasn’t sick, people would no longer care about me. I thought they were only friends with me because I was sick and they felt sorry for me, and if I got better people would leave me. I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and a minor eating disorder. Once they were all diagnosed, I told as many people as I could, because I wanted their attention. Without it, I felt like I was worthless, that if people weren’t feeling sorry for me it meant they didn’t care about me and would leave me. For months I resisted getting better at all. I was really sick, but I wanted to stay sick and I wanted to get sicker. And the more attention I got from friends, the sicker I wanted to be to keep that attention or get more of it, and the sicker I got. I wanted to lose more weight, self-harm or do other bad things, partly because I was ill, partly because I felt I needed to punish myself for having these thoughts — but also partly because I wanted people to care about me. My therapist would say to me, “I don’t know if you want to get better,” and I would say, “I don’t, but I want to want to get better.” Related to this is the fact that I feel jealous of anyone who is ill, and particularly people who seem to be sicker than me. For example, one of my colleagues got hit by a car a couple of years ago and I wished it was me. I wanted the attention. I came to realize I don’t actually want to be ill, it’s just the sympathy that goes alongside it I crave. I had to come off Facebook for a few months when it was really bad, as I had two friends who were really physically sick, one of whom was in hospital and I couldn’t deal with the jealousy I felt when people posted on their walls saying how sorry they were they were ill. It probably sounds really selfish saying all this, but I hate that I feel this way. It makes me feel really bad about myself and want to hurt myself. I believe this all stems from my childhood. I know my parents love me, but I never really felt that love. They gave me money rather than attention. When I was 2 years old, my brother died of a cot death when he was 3 months old and although I don’t consciously remember it, presumably my parents were grieving and therefore didn’t give me the attention I wanted — the attention I’ve been trying to find it from other people ever since. Recently my best friend got so tired of me texting her constantly telling her how sick I was that she left me. I don’t blame her. I was incapable of having a normal friendship with her. Every time I spoke to her or texted her or saw her, I had to tell her every little thing I was feeling. She was always really sympathetic and I loved the attention. It made me feel cared for. If she was ever busy and took a while to reply, I would assume she suddenly didn’t care about me. I would sometimes also misinterpret things she said and assume she hated me. I just wanted her to feel sorry for me all the time. Understandably, it got to be too much for her. After that happened, things got worse. Being abandoned by her made me feel she had just proved how worthless I was and what a bad person I was. I was suicidal, and I immediately told someone because I felt there was no other way to show people how I was feeling and to get them to care about me. Eventually though, I turned a corner, realizing that staying sick and getting sicker were causing the exact opposite of what I wanted — i.e. people were leaving me. Getting sicker was not making people less likely to leave me, but more likely. I couldn’t go on feeling that bad. I wanted to die, but I have a wife and I knew if I killed myself, it would destroy her. So I decided to put in more effort and do everything I could to get better. The problem is, the symptom of wanting to be ill has not gone away. I was dismayed when it came back, as I had thought I was over it. I’m definitely better than I was, but still hate that I am a bit better. I still have a desire to be sicker and I am still jealous of people who are ill. I can be having a good day but then I get easily triggered and I start to feel terrible. When we went to visit my friend in the hospital recently, I felt jealous when he talked about being ill. A friend had a seizure and I felt jealous. Another friend has got worse with her mental illnesses and is clearly now sicker than me and I feel jealous about that. Every time she tells me how she is, I wish I was the one getting sicker. It’s ironic because she’s probably envious of me getting better, whereas I’m jealous of her getting sicker. I know this is part of my BPD and the only way to get over it is to get better, but it’s hard when your brain is telling you people will leave if you get better. Logically I know it’s nonsense, but I still feel it so strongly. I am literally fighting my brain to try and get better. 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via kevinhillillustration.

Katie Kent

How I Coped When My 'Favorite Person' Left as Someone With BPD

Like many other people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I had a “favorite person” or “FP.” This is used in the BPD community to refer to the person your emotions become dependent upon. My FP was my best friend Sarah (not her real name). Sarah and I had a very intense and relatively short friendship, but she became my FP very quickly. I could tell her anything and she was always there for me. If I texted her, she usually replied immediately. She never made me feel like I was being a burden. She was kind and caring. At the time I met her, I was just realizing I had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I told her about it and she was understanding. But things started to get worse with my health — I actually don’t think this was a coincidence. At the time, I didn’t realize I had BPD. But my BPD thrived on her attention. The more attention she gave me, the more I got hooked on it and the more attention I needed to get the same “high” I felt when she showed how much she cared. She continually said she would do anything for me, drop everything to be there for me. Nothing was too much trouble. I couldn’t believe a friend could care for me that much. I started to feel jealous when she said she was seeing other friends. If she was ever busy, even if she told me in advance that she would be busy, I thought it meant she no longer cared about me. She was entitled to go out and see other people and do other things, but my brain took it as evidence that she was drifting away from me and didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I was constantly in fear of her leaving me and saw evidence in every tiny thing. We would always talk about me. All our conversations in person, in text and in emails revolved around my problems. I knew she didn’t like talking about herself, so we both had reason to focus on me. I’d ask how she was and she would always say, “Fine.” I knew that wasn’t really the truth but I didn’t question her because I wanted to talk about myself. If ever I tried not to, I would end up caving in a few minutes later. The attention she gave me made me feel like I was worth something. I needed the attention to validate me. As long as she cared about me, there was a point to my life. I have a wife but I became so close to Sarah that I would tell her more than I told my wife. My wife sometimes struggled with my illnesses and so I became afraid to talk to her. Instead of confiding in her, I tried to keep things hidden from her and I didn’t even try to make things better because I had Sarah. I wasn’t being fair to my wife, but Sarah was always sympathetic and never angry with me. She even rang my therapist to discuss how best to support me. Until one day I got so bad I ended up crying on Sarah at her birthday outing. She was so caring, telling me she thought I was so ill that I needed to go to hospital. I had never seen anyone that worried about me and it proved to me she cared about me. But it couldn’t carry on like that. I needed more and more evidence from her that she cared. As soon as Sarah stopped replying to my messages, I would become convinced she had stopped caring. How could anyone show they cared more than telling me I needed to be in hospital? In my eyes, they couldn’t, and something had to happen. It couldn’t go on like that. The week after that she sent me a long email telling me things needed to change between us. I told her I agreed, but I was terrified at the thought of it. I needed her. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to deal with things without her constant contact. Two weeks went by without her texting me. It drove me “mad,” my brain was filled with continual thoughts that she hated me and that I was a terrible friend and not worth anything. I tried to think of a way for things to go back to how they used to be. I would do risky things and tell a mutual friend, hoping Sarah would find out and feel bad and come back to me. I couldn’t deal with the perceived abandonment and I didn’t know what to do to make everything better. I had thought before I might have BPD, but my doctor was very dismissive and told me he saw no evidence of it, so I had forgotten it. But when all this happened with Sarah, I started to think about it again. I went to my therapist who did a questionnaire on me and diagnosed me with BPD. Turns out she had had her suspicions that I might have it before. I met seven of the criteria needed for diagnosis (you need at least five out of the nine to be diagnosed). After this, I sent Sarah a long email telling her about my BPD and that I was sorry and that things would change. I even offered her the chance to walk away, although I hoped she wouldn’t take it. She replied with another long email that was positive, saying she had zero intention of walking away and that she had needed the space and it had helped. I had every intention of making sure things didn’t go back to the same pattern they had before. It had been a close call, and I could have lost her. But I couldn’t stick to it. I’d apologize a lot, worrying I had gone back to how I was before, but Sarah kept reassuring me I hadn’t, that I was better. But I knew deep down it wasn’t true. I just kept getting sicker, and telling her I wanted to be even sicker. She started to say things like my illnesses couldn’t justify me doing bad things. It was obvious it was getting too much for her, but I just kept on pushing, needing her to show she still cared. Then we met up for what turned out to be the last time. There were other people there, so we couldn’t talk about my problems. And I struggled massively. I had nothing to say and was quiet. Afterwards I texted her to apologize and ended up telling her how I felt, that I felt empty unless I was talking about my problems. She seemed sympathetic. A day later I mentioned that another friend had suggested I ask my friends to tell me what they think defines me, without mentioning illnesses. A day passed and then Sarah told me she couldn’t answer that as all we talked about were my illnesses and she really had no idea who I was without them. As soon as she sent that, I knew things had changed. I apologized, but she didn’t reply. A couple of weeks went by and then I ended up sending her a drunken text about how much I loved her and was sorry. She didn’t reply again. I felt like I was in a living hell, in limbo. I decided I hated her because she had let me down when I was sickest. Finally, a week or so later, came the message I had been dreading. She told me we couldn’t do this anymore and that the right decision for her was to step away. She wasn’t mean, the message was reasonable. But I was very hurt. I sent one back saying I was upset that she had taken so long to say it but that I respected her decision. That was the last conversation we had. My FP had finally left me. The one thing I had feared for so long had actually come true. By trying so hard to keep her near me, trying to prevent her abandoning me, I had actually made it happen. My desperate attempts to stop her leaving had driven her away. So surely this must have made me a lot worse? Well it was terrible, in the beginning. This proved to me people would leave me unless I did things to keep them and made me believe I was a bad person. I texted a few friends to tell them what had happened and they were sympathetic, but I was worried they didn’t get how bad I was feeling. So I did the thing I always defaulted to to try and make people care, and hurt myself. And then I immediately told someone. This friend insisted on calling help for me and I spent the afternoon on the phone to various doctors, who told me I would be fine after asking a serious of questions. Yet I now realize Sarah actually did me a favor. The one thing I was terrified of actually ended up making me better. For two main reasons. Firstly, I felt so bad in those first few days and weeks that I was properly suicidal. I wanted to die, but I knew I couldn’t do that to my wife and to my family and friends. And also, I couldn’t bear to keep feeling that bad. So the only other solution was to get better. Secondly, it proved to me the idea I believed I had to stay sick to keep people’s attention was totally wrong. In fact, the opposite had happened. By refusing to try and get better so I didn’t lose Sarah, I had lost her. I didn’t want that to happen with anyone else, so I had to make the effort to try and recover from my illnesses. It was the only option. I couldn’t completely fall apart. It wasn’t fair to anyone, least of all myself. Two months have passed since then. And I am getting better. I have bad days, but a lot fewer than I used to. And I have way more good days. I am making an effort with my recovery, not resisting getting better. I will always miss Sarah. I hope maybe one day she might give me another chance, but I am also prepared for the fact that day may never come. Either way, I will always be grateful for what she did for me. I thought her leaving would be one of the worst things that could ever happen, but I got through it and it gave me the motivation to fight my illnesses and try and get better. 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.

Losing Your 'Favorite Person' When You Have BPD

Like many other people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I had a “favorite person” or “FP.” This is used in the BPD community to refer to the person your emotions become dependent upon. My FP was also my best friend “V” (not her real name). “V” and I had a very intense and relatively short friendship. We met online, started talking and she became my FP very quickly. I could tell her anything and she was always there for me. If I texted her, she usually replied immediately. She never made me feel like I was being a burden. She was kind and caring. At the time I met her, I had already gone through some things in life, including losing people previously. I told her about it and she was understanding and showed a lot of care. After several months of talking, things started to get more intense and my BPD attachment was growing stronger — without me consciously realizing this. Things started to get worse with my health (I actually don’t think this was a coincidence. This included panic attacks, extreme anxiety and general lack of self-care). At the time, I had been diagnosed with BPD several months previous, however I did not pursue treatment (foolishly). But my BPD thrived on her attention. The more attention she gave me, the more I got hooked on it and the more attention I needed to get the same “high” or feeling of validation I felt when she showed how much she cared. I felt connected. I felt someone finally understood me for me. I started to feel jealous when she said she was seeing other people, despite us being “friends” at this point. If she was ever busy, even if she told me in advance she would be busy, I would think I had done something wrong and she didn’t want to talk to me. She was entitled to go out and see other people and do other things. But of course, my brain took it as evidence that she was drifting away from me and didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I was constantly in fear of her leaving me and saw evidence in every tiny thing. We would always talk about me. All our conversations revolved around my problems toward the latter part of the relationship. I did not give her space to talk about her, which was what the friendship was built on. I got absorbed in the situation between us and my fears to the point where we weren’t having any normal conversations. It was me being sad or moody, which in turn pushed her away. The attention she gave me made me feel like I was worth something. I needed the attention to validate me. As long as she cared about me, there was a point to my life. Without this, I felt empty. It eventually got to a point where we were talking less. Then it advanced to me seeing blips of things online and believing it was evidence of her wanting to leave me. For example, seeing things with other guys. which then prompted me to act emotionally and cause conflicts. It all  seemed like it was over nothing to her, but in my head I was panicking. We both came to a conclusion it couldn’t carry on like that. I needed therapy to really take myself away from the situation and come back to normality. She told me several times this needed to happen. I attempted to go to therapy and had a moment where I felt things were getting better, but I needed more and more evidence from her that she cared. Then I fell back down into this rabbit hole of overthinking and creating drama. I did not take anything seriously. As soon as “V” stopped replying to my messages, I would become convinced she had stopped caring. How could anyone show they cared more than telling me I needed therapy to help myself and save the friendship? In my eyes, they couldn’t, and something had to happen. It couldn’t go on like that. My BPD consumed me entirely by this point. I had stopped doing my daily activities and talking to friends. I stopped doing just about doing anything for myself. And our interactions with each other became only conflicts or talking about my my BPD, as if it were all just in my head. After several times of her asking me to go to therapy and to talk after, and me not doing so, things hit a wall. We had a conversation about all that had happened between us — the hurt and the conflict — and she came to the conclusion we needed space and time, for real. Then we could try to build the friendship again. I agreed to this. I would then do risky things to try to gain her attention. For example, I would post things on Instagram to try to show her I was getting better. However, some days later, I messaged her again in an emotional state telling her I missed her. In my head, I did not see this as wrong at the time. But I pushed a boundary after her asking for space. The next day, after a brief conflict, she decided to block me. She was done. It drove me “mad.” My brain was filled with continual thoughts that she hated me, I was a terrible friend who was not worth anything and I could not cope with this. This is the point where I broke down. I was not in a rational mindset. I tried to contact her anyway I could to apologize for my behavior and essentially “beg” her to come back (the worst thing you can do). I couldn’t deal with the perceived abandonment and I didn’t know what to do. After this, she sent me some long messages elsewhere explaining why she felt the way she did and why she had to walk away. I read these with closed eyes and tried to understand all she had said. She started to say things like, “My illnesses couldn’t justify me doing bad things.” It was obvious it was too much for her and she started to see me solely as my illness. She said she wanted me to continue therapy but she didn’t know if we could be friends again. I replied saying I understood and I would give space. Some weeks went by and eventually, I just couldn’t stick to it. I kept on pushing, needing her to show she still cared. I’d apologize a lot in messages, endlessly, repeating, with the same result. No reply or telling me to respect her choice. I felt a part of me died here. I felt no care from her anymore, the thing I dreaded the most. Some more weeks went by and I broke down again and contacted her. Again apologizing. At this point, she called me “insane” and asked me to not harass her. Harass? I could not take this word seriously. How can I harass my FP?  Not understanding the reality of the situation, I felt I was talking to another person. I felt isolated. My FP had finally left me. The one thing I had feared for so long had actually come true. By trying so hard to keep her near me, trying to prevent her abandoning me, I had actually made it happen. My desperate attempts to stop her from leaving had driven her away. And changed her opinion of me drastically. So surely, this must have made me a lot worse, right? Well, it was terrible. I ended up in the hospital a number of times for being suicidal and I wasn’t looking after myself at all. I was constantly thinking and being sad about what had happened. This proved to me people would leave me unless I did things to keep them and it made me believe I was a bad person. I texted a few friends to tell them what had happened and they were sympathetic, but I was worried they didn’t get how bad I was feeling. So I did the thing I always defaulted to that would make people care. I hurt myself, which resulted in hospitalization. Yet, I now realize “V” actually did me a favor. The one thing I was terrified of actually ended up making me better. For two main reasons. First, I felt so bad in those first weeks and months that I was suicidal. I wanted to die but I knew I couldn’t do that. I could never go through with it. And also, I couldn’t bear to keep feeling that bad. So the only other solution was to get better. Second, it also proved that the idea I had to stay sick to keep people’s attention was totally wrong. In fact, the opposite had happened. By refusing to try and get better and trying to hold on so I didn’t lose “V” at all, I had lost her. I don’t want that to happen with anyone else so I had to make the effort to try and recover from my illnesses. It was the only option. I couldn’t completely fall apart again and put anyone through the destructiveness of my illness. It wasn’t fair to anyone, least of all myself. Two months have passed since she made her decision. Following numerous attempts on my part to get her back, I am getting better. I have bad days but a lot fewer than I used to. I am making an effort with my recovery instead of resisting getting better. I will always miss “V.” I hope one day she might give me another chance, but I am also prepared for the fact that day may never come. Either way, I will always be grateful for what she did for me. She made me realize a lot about myself and taught me even more. I thought her leaving would be one of the worst things that could ever happen, but I’m getting through it and it gave me the motivation to fight my illnesses and try and get better.

Katie Kent

Deleting Messenger Apps When Borderline Makes Me Think People Hate Me

Lately, when I’m feeling bad, I delete my messaging apps, add them back and delete them again, over and over. It’s something I’ve done before. In the past, I would delete people’s numbers from my phone so I had no way to contact them, but that’s not something I could keep doing. Asking for people to send me their numbers again was getting embarrassing. People forgave it the first time, maybe even the second and third times, but eventually, they’d get tired of my behavior and stop giving me their numbers again. Deleting the apps is an easier way of doing this. Hardly anyone texts me these days. Everything happens through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. That’s how I get in touch with people and that’s how people get in touch with me. When I feel bad, I think that everyone hates me and they are sick of me. I’m also tempted to message people because I want some kind of attention to prove that someone does care about me. And often, once I start that conversation, I get addicted to the sympathy and find it hard to stop messaging them. Deleting the apps is a way for me to stop myself from sending people messages. It also means I don’t make myself ill by waiting for people to contact me or reply to a message I’ve sent. I can relax for a bit. But it also makes me feel really lonely. I’m isolating myself. When I reinstall the apps, I check for messages. If no one has sent any, I feel like people don’t care, but I immediately delete them again so I’m not tempted to annoy anyone with “needy” messages. If I do have a message, then I’ll reply, but if they don’t then reply back immediately, I’ll panic and delete the apps again so I can’t bother them again for a bit. I imagine friends getting my messages and feeling irritated and wishing I’d leave them alone. When I do get into a conversation with someone, I can feel a bit better, but if I’m feeling really bad then as soon as I’ve had that conversation I am filled with shame. Thoughts go through my head about how annoyed people must be with me and it makes me hate myself even more. So, I delete the apps again. I don’t know how much this behavior is a good thing because it stops me being too “needy,” and how much it’s a bad thing as it’s based on paranoia and the assumption that other people must hate me as much as I hate myself. It’s a form of isolating myself and withdrawing from people, which I suppose isn’t healthy. But sometimes, I’m just so worried I will become obsessive with someone that it seems like the only solution. Have you ever done this, or something like it, because you fear people hate you and want to leave you? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.