we should think twice before we burn everything behind us
I suffer from a debilitating and high risk mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD), which often produces a lot of emotional suffering accompanied with an inability to live anything like a normal life. Sometimes my mind feels like an abandoned building.
However, there is an odd characteristic about BPD in that suffers will often say that they either feel everything or nothing at all. What I do know is that before today I was feeling emotionally hurt and vulnerable.
People with BPD have an exquisite vulnerability to emotions, and this susceptibility is hardwired. ~ Shari Y. Manning, Ph.D
In the past week I have had some difficult days filled with jealousy, paranoia, and anger. Those negative feelings do me no good at all, and when I am in that state I say and do things I later regret. I make stupid, impulsive, and irrational decisions. I say hurtful truths to others and feel immediate remorse. I upset people I care for, get drunk, and think about just ending it all. The dark side of me seeks to punish myself and everyone else. My thoughts and perceptions become extreme, it’s black and white thinking, or what the psychiatrists call splitting. And all of it hurts.
The pain and suffering that comes from something like Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder happens suddenly. The pain and suffering affects every aspect of the identity; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And the chaos and pain can go on, and on, and on ~ until something happens that allows some beginnings of recovery. For some recovery begins with a proper diagnosis, treatment, and medication. For me recovery began with admitting that I was truly ill, and then learning all I could about Borderline Personality Disorder. For me, real recovery began with the courage to accept the mental, emotional, and spiritual pain and then decide that I don’t have to live like that anymore.
For most, the greatest pain is emotional ~ and I mean intense emotions such as anger, jealousy, regret, remorse, and hopelessness. The mental pain experienced by those with Borderline Personality Disorder is very specific and different from the anguish suffered by those with a depressive disorder. But there is one other mystery about BPD, it also produces high levels of physical pain, and yet the pain of self-harm is never felt at all. This is probably due to dissociation, the shutting down of parts of the brain due to intense stress.
This is why those who suffer from intense emotional pain also self-harm ~ the physical pain they inflict upon themselves helps to negate their intense emotional suffering
Some say that Borderline Personality Disorder is an illness that revolves around pain. And that emotional outbursts seem to come out of nowhere. All I know is that in accepting the pain I can begin the hard work of real recovery.
at the end of the day
even the best booze doesn’t help
From time to time the darkness would overwhelm me.
It turns out that I am an emotional being, which is an unwanted paradigm shift for a taciturn and repressed English guy like me. And yet, for much of my recent life I have been completely defined and driven by powerful emotions.
From time to time my psyche would spiral down a dark hole into a place where I became angry, jealous, manipulative, paranoid, resentful, unreasonable… filled with negative thoughts and feelings.
These emotions would hit me out of nowhere, coming from deep within my subconscious mind, usually when my conscious guard was down ~ because I was tired, stressed, had been drinking, or someone close had lied to me, or perhaps just because something had gone slightly wrong in my life.
And these intense, darkly negative emotions could often drive a complete change in my personality, turning me from a rational and sociable man into an irrational and dangerous Mr. Hyde.
One thing you can’t hide ~ is when you’re crippled inside. ~ John Lennon.
The reality is that intensely negative and darkly dangerous emotions are driven by fear, and in my case probably a paranoid fear of abandonment created by the Borderline Personality Disorder I have suffered from for most of my life.
Fear is powerful, deep, affecting the most primeval part of our psyche, what Freud calls the id. And fear generates the equally powerful fight or flight reflex. At my darkest I would fight by attacking people verbally and in writing, and run away into a bottle of booze. Neither of these reflex actions was in the least useful to me.
What I needed was a strategy which allowed me to accept my negative emotions without allowing their destructive power to ruin my relationships and my life ~ wanting to find a suitable way to check out of life is not good.
What I needed was to be more emotionally stable and resilient.
It turns out that emotionally resilient people have some important things in common. Emotionally stable and resilient people;
- Are Realists. Grounded. Optimists are soon disappointed and easily lose hope. Realists make the best they can of the ‘Now’.
- Have Faith. Believe in something greater than themselves, something greater than whatever bad situation they may find themselves in.
- Are extremely and radically creative.
- Have a support network of close friends, doctors, counsellors, 12-step groups…
- Have a great, but usually weird and warped, sense of humour.
These are all things that I could invent for myself. I can grow and develop these character traits that actually exist in all of us. Each day I have been able to further manifest these character traits within myself. Every hour I have become more emotionally stable and resilient.
One ought to hold onto one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.
Life goes on, and I do not have to allow my emotions to control me.
Although my emotions are an important part of me, I AM NOT MY EMOTIONS.
Some say that negative emotions have an important role to play in a happy life. And that negative emotions are telling you that you need to change and transform yourself. All I know is that you can turn things around and control how your emotions affect you.
Life does not have to be perfect to be good.