Road to Recovery…

Last week a Reader asked:
Do you think you could share a little about how you decided to address the pain and try to recover? There is someone in our life who we WISH would seek treatment, and I’m wondering what might get her there. Thanks.
How I decided to address the pain and try to recover. I wish I could give a completely selfless answer and say that I saw how I was affecting the people around me, that I realized how hurtful I was. I wish I could say that I wanted to stop lashing out and devastating the world around me. Unfortunately when I was taking out my emotions on other people I mostly felt like it was everyone else that did not understand me and the only thing wrong with me was that I was misunderstood. I felt hopeless. No one and nothing could help me because no one understood and if no one understood how could anyone do anything at all. Eventually I began Acting Out less and turned inward. I took out the majority of my turbulence on myself, Acting In. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still affect the people around me. It does. I’m just not as actively aggressive towards other people. Anyone close to me is still caught in my wake, or at the very least, sees what I go through, realizes that I’m hurting, and wishes better for me. It came down to the fact that I wanted to stop feeling so turbulent. I wanted it for me. First and foremost I want to feel better. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a better friend and be better to everyone around me. I absolutely do, but this wasn’t my main driver though it is a product of what I’m working towards.   The people that I’m close to care about me and they truly want me to be happy.
I’ve been an emotional disaster, especially when it comes to relationships, for as long as I can remember. It’s depressing. It’s painful. How I take it out on myself is excruciating. How I take it out on others is worse. I finally came to the realization that there has to be something better than living in constant pain and depression.
Growing up I fought the idea of therapy and medication. When I moved to New York I was involved in a very abusive relationship.  I bottomed out.   Finally, I sought therapy as a last resort.
Unfortunately as is often the case, it takes hitting bottom to have the greatest motivation to dig ourselves out of the holes we’ve dug. I wish I could say that was the only time I’d hit bottom, but it happens a lot. However, it got me to open up to the idea of therapy. Having the help to work through is invaluable and I strongly encourage this.
I think the last big kick in the ass was what lead me to the Psych ER {Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Morals}. The relationship I had been in wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad. It was just boring. I had no reason or inclination to stay in it and yet, when it ended I Acted Out in a way that got the cops and an ambulance called on me. I scared the hell out of my friends, terrified my parents, could have lost us our new apartment, could potentially have lost future employment… the repercussions of my actions were just not acceptable.  Especially when there’s no rational reason for my reactions to have been as extreme as they were. I knew something was very wrong for most of my life, but this was the last straw. I determined to stay on an anti-depressant, which ultimately was not enough, but it was a start. All these things; the realization of just how bad my actions could affect me and everyone else, remembering that through previous therapy I had begun to see bright spots again. I could see glimpses of better ways of living. I wanted not just glimpses of a better way, but actually walking a better path completely. Constant depression is a vortex of joylessness. I wanted to escape the blackness. No. Not black. Everything was grey. Grey, dreary, dull, nothing being crisp or vibrant for long enough to glean any happiness from. It’s no way to live and it doesn’t have to be that way. Finally I began to want for myself what my friends and family have always wanted for me; the chance of happiness. It’s why I created this blog; to help me as I work towards this. It’s something I want for anyone fighting a Borderline Personality Disorder.
The turning point came for me when I realized I want to get better.  No one can understand me, if I don’t help people understand me. If I don’t reach out to allow myself to receive the help I need. This is also my responsibility. This is a big world. I’m only one person in this world. There are plenty of people that love and care about me, but they also have their own lives to deal with. Ultimately, I am responsible for my own happiness and healing. This sounds like a sagely bit of wisdom, but for someone with BPD who wants so much to be close to other people without actually knowing how in a  functional way, it’s anything but easy. But it is possible. And it gets easier the more we work to embrace this.
I don’t know. I’m so tired of being so self-consumingly lonely, so sad and depressed, so misunderstood… so afraid… of everything. Life does not have to be this way. I refuse to believe that this is simply my lot in life. There is only one thing that can determine my fate, and that’s me. If I choose to be a different way, I can take control of my world and make it something that is worthwhile.  
In order to do this, therapy has helped me immensely. Writing this blog has helped me more than I expected. Being able to reach out, connect with other people struggling with a Borderline Personality Disorder, knowing that I’m not alone, hearing from other people as they also fight, or as they seek advice, or simply leave a few words to let me know they’ve been by… knowing that I’m reaching out and connecting with others like me; helps. I’m also determined to stick to a medicinal regime as well. I’ve previously floundered with this a little, but I’m working with my Psychiatrist to find meds that will aid me. There is no medical cure for personality disorders, however there’s hope that meds can alleviate some of the symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Realizing just how much I could lose. The opportunities, the people I love , my friends,…  the disappointment… The thought of losing them or letting them down is my biggest motivation now. I have a lot of people that I love and care about, and I want to be able to be with them in a healthy way that won’t drive them away.
You need to understand that I’ve lived with this for well over half of my life. Almost two decades of feeling like things would never get better. It’s not something you can just turn to someone and say ‘cheer up, it’ll all work out’ when so far, for so long, it hasn’t. It’s hard to see a better way when you’ve never known a better way. It requires a leap of faith. A leap that is incredibly scary when so often things smash to bits on the rocks below. It’s looking for a safe way down to the ground when your path is lined with jagged rocks and chards of glass. Fortunately there’s never just one way around the obstacles set in front of you in life. It takes a shift of perspective, but that sense of being safe in your own Self, is absolutely attainable. At least, I believe it is.
I  hope that gives some insight into your question. Thank you for asking.
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9 comments on “Road to Recovery…

  1. Dear Haven,I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my question so thoughtfully.It sounds as if what you are doing, and how you got there, is working for you. And that’s terrific!Sadly, what you shared gives me no hope that my fiancé, his kids or I will enjoy any respite from the behavior of his former wife/their mom any time soon. She is very high functioning, insists that the problem is with everyone else and never with her and demonstrates none of the self-reflection or self-knowledge that is at the core of your blog. Because she is so high functioning, and because her family members have learned to compensate for her specific functional deficiencies, it seems as if it may be a long time before she ever experiences consequences of her actions that are as extreme as the ones that finally changed your mind. Her kids live with her halftime (the other half here), and she functions well enough for that house to always have the bills paid, homemade meals on the table, family vacations and all the other tangible trappings of a comfortable middle class lifestyle. The kids are now old enough, and have been exposed to another more stable way of running a household (ours) long enough, that they sense something is “not right” at that house. But I doubt she would ever let anything so severe happen while they are living with her. What might happen when they go away to college – who knows? By then she will be 50 and, by all accounts, will have been behaving the way she is now for at least 3 decades. I would think that, like you, she would by then be wondering if there is another way to live that is less painful to her. Maybe when she experiences the “empty nest” she will have an opportunity for self-reflection that will bring her to the same conclusions to which yours brought you.In the meantime, while I can have compassion for the inner turmoil she must experience, I still think the healthiest thing my fiancé and I can do for the kids and for each of us and our marriage is to create rational boundaries and enforce them consistently. No matter how much she yells at us, blames us, shames us etc.Thanks again for the insight.

  2. Haven, this is a very well written,insightful post. Just want you to know I am here, listening and hoping I can help by letting you know this. By the way you can 'yoink' any quote from Camus or any other person (except me!! lol)you want from my blog…they are FREE!!!!Take care,Peace, Nico

  3. Thank you for your amazing blog, interrupted. and thank you. Haven, for the courage to document your life! I am getting hopeful one day at a time, so to speak!

  4. You are very insightful and thank you for sharing you journey. I too was amazed at how much my blogging was a turning point in therapy.Despite what "experts" and the DMS states my therapist believe that BPD can be "cured." This in the sense that I learn to be more mindful and make different choices. He also told me that it takes a very long time which most people don't have the resources to do so.

  5. @Clueless… Yes, this is what I believe it means to be 'cured'. There's no drugs for a personality disorder, there's no cutting off a bit of who you are, but there is learning to manage your reactions and learning to deal and respond to the world around you in a healthier manner. And with time and effort, hopefully it's possible to actually see the world in a different manner. One that is more stable and pleasant to be in. It does take a long time. A long time that will be fraught with set backs from what I can tell, but the important thing is to keep pushing through. Thank you.

  6. I tried to understand myself for years but nothing has helped. When I read ur blog it was like reading my own life journey thank you for sharing it with me , believe me it is not easy to have borderline personality in Africa .

  7. Hi Haven,Thanks so much for your postings. I struggled with depression and a suicide scare this past year. I had to leave my job in Boston, all my friends, and someone I was deeply, and still am, in love with to come home to live with my parents. It was crushing to know that my inability to take care of myself and manage my emotions and obsessive thinking cycles has brought the people I care about so much pain and stress. I think you have a self-awareness that I can really relate to. On the positive side, awareness helps you realize there has to be a shift in perspective. Thinking the same way just produces cycles of fear and despair. On the flip side, I think my awareness and analytical nature also helped me to justify my feelings of despair — somehow I felt like I was misunderstood (like you) and that no one could relate, and I never wanted to reach out, because I wanted to seem strong. What really broke me out of the cycle was what I can only call a "surrender." While I indulged in my fear and despair, I also fed my ego that kept trying to hold on to the idea that I was in control and that I could and should be able to control my emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. In some ways, I was too afraid to relinquish this kind of control over myself and my life (even if it was control that led to bad things)– I justified the control with my own empowerment, because if anything bad happened or I failed in some way or another, which it did, it would at least be my own fault, and I could blame myself for not being able to do what I needed to do to succeed rather than just accepting that some things are out of my power. I was too scared to put my trust in anything other than myself. So, for me, it was a cop-out. Yet I justified it by saying that I was indeed being very hard on myself and critical and maintained my standards for how I should do good/well/right. My turning point was trusting in God. And I know for all who read this may be automatically turned off, but to me at least, God is not about abortion and gay rights or any of that. God is the light in every person, the beauty of nature, the purest most basal energy order of this world, the love and forgiveness (however limited) we experience in each other. I finally put my faith in that thing "God" and I am now starting my next life adventure in living a life with God. The beauty (and strength) of it is that it is not a "cure" that happens overnight. It is a journey of recovery, sometimes we hold tight to our faith in God or light or whatever it is and surrender ourselves to God, forgiving ourselves and choosing to love ourselves as God does, sometimes we let the doubt and negativity and despair creep in and begin again to fear (and pity) ourselves, letting the dark convince us there is no light and we are alone. But having the knowledge that there is light and peace for us in this life, with constant effort, discipline and hard work towards putting this knowledge into practice, us humans suffering what we suffer on any and every level, have a real and true hope.

  8. I am lucky that many things have worked out in my life, even if nothing is perfect. I really wish you and anyone reading this the best of luck — I have so much faith that we are all improving and growing better and stronger day by day. It is not an easy journey at all. Last thing- some really great things that have helped me in shifting my perspective (for anyone reading):1) Give thanks. Think about everything in your life that you take joy in, small things you appreciate about the people around you, the grace that God's given you. Make a list. Make this exercise about the people you love,the little things that are good and beautiful in this world, and not your inability to make the most of them in this moment or how you've failed or fallen short. My therapist once said her mother told her: "For every loss or suffering or pain we feel, there are ten blessings that we did not see"The act of appreciation and acknowledging the things we do have in our lives instead of focusing on the parts of our lives that have gone horribly wrong and things we want but don't have is a really important step. This is all easier said than done, I know it, but we have to rely on each other to get through life, we must cheer each other on and forgive each other as we must forgive ourselves. We are inherently imperfect beings. Please know I am with all of y'all in spirit and (please forgive the preachy-sounding rhetoric) that ultimately, God's got a purpose for you, and His love and forgiveness are already yours – you just have to take it.God bless.-M

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