BPD vs PTSD

Really I just want to rant; to throw a toddler tantrum.

About what?

WHAT?!?!

This!

STUPID MENTAL ILLNESS!

I honestly don’t know which particular illness I’m most pissed at. Is it the trying to thread a needle, with my eyes closed whilst riding a rollercoaster fun of my borderline personality disorder? Because that is FUN. Tra-la-la-la going about my day WHOA! I’m super scared! Ok, ok, let’s roll with this, we can do this…tra-la-la-la I FUCKING HATE EVERYTHING. Int-er-est-ing, bit of crazy rage going on there…suck it down, cook the dinner and then? Well your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps I’ll become deliriously happy (oh wow life is wonderful!) or maybe I’ll be filled with love, or perhaps it’ll be self-disgust. Who the fuck knows? Not me, not anybody. But, you see, life must go on, responsilities must be met and there just isn’t time for a self-indulgent emotional jacuzzi. 

And it’s exhausting.

So, so tiring in a way, that I really believe, others won’t get unless they feel it too. And it’s frightening being catapulted into extremes. I become scared. I limit what I do in case it happens. I hide away. Please don’t talk to me. I can’t promise I’ll always be able to contain it so it’s best that everyone stays away.

Hell yeah, the BPD is awesome. And by awesome I mean an absolute bastard. I dislike having a personality disorder very much.

But…

…I also find myself completely fucked over by the PTSD at the same time. I mean the nasty thugs of BPD and PTSD often go around together so my experience isn’t unique here. Let me tell you, trying to control those unpredictable extreme emotional shifts is made a shitload more difficult by being constantly treated to images of the past. Oooh nightmare! Again? Yes a-fucking-gain. And I can expect one the next night, and the next, and the next… hurrah! Then of course there are the images/memories/flashbacks. How about seeing my mum sneering at me in my mind. Just pops in, uninvited. Like tonight at Body Balance class. Or there’s the sensations – someone breathing on my neck, she’s wrapping her hands round my neck oh god oh god oh god. Meanwhile, outside of my brain (in the real world), as alluded to earlier, life-goes-on. Concurrently. So perhaps I’ll be paying at a checkout or getting my daughter dressed whilst trying to stifle the fear of the prickling on my neck. I’ll be honest, it is spectacularly unhelpful to have PTSD.

The worst bit of the PTSD, for me, is the time travelling though. I can just about manage all the other crap but the time travelling is the final sucker punch that delivers the knockout. The emotions that were shut off all those years ago fire my brain up. My brain tells me that I am 14; that my children are my siblings; that I am alone and it’s too much for a young person. Too much. But it’s all lies, I’m not 14, and these lies are more powerful than any words. They play me like a cruel puppeteer ‘hey puppet, play the part of being 14!’. I fight back against it of course, I have insight at least. I do know that I’m actually a mother in my 30s but I can’t cut those puppeteer strings. I’d describe it as a game but there’s no fun in it. No, it’s rather like some cryptic challenge: behave as a 30 something responsible mother whilst also, uncontrollably, behaving as a 14 year old. 

Yes. I hate that.

So I couldn’t say which symptoms or diagnosis pisses me off the most really. It’s all crap, all of it. 

Fortunately though I look fine. Invisible illness. I wish I could show people a sneaky peek – this is what it’s like! There might be a better chance of understanding. Oh well, a girl can dream. And, on that, it’s time I went to bed for another nightmare. Toodle-oo.

Falling Apart

I thought I was pulling myself out of that last black hole. Slowly and tentatively I really thought that I would improve my functioning and coping. I know with BPD that things can turn on a sixpence and here I am, standing in an emotional tornado, trying to think. 

Observe and describe they say in DBT. Yeah done that. Panic continued to rise. Then I start pacing and want to mutter to myself but my son is in the next room so must stay calm. Stay calm stay calm stay calm. Breathe. That helps a bit. Shit! Tears now? Can’t cry. Choke them back. What am I even crying about anyway? My skin feels extra sensitive. It’s crawling just from the sensation of my own clothes. In the kitchen I pretend to shout at an invisible force “I CAN’T CRY! I’M NOT ALLOWED AND YOU WILL NEVER SEE ANYONE AS GOOD AT HOLDING IT IN AS ME!” I only mouth the words, no sound owing to boy in next room. I imagine throwing a glass vase at whatever this entity is.

The panic builds and builds because I  in charge of one child, have a 2nd to pick up from nursery soon and a dinner to make. Need to stay with it. I’ve used DBT skills and grounding techniques all day but it’s doing diddly squat now. This is what happens. I try and tell them and they never take me seriously.

I’m wondering wtf to do and remember that I have lorazepam for emergency use. This counts. I take it and 2 propranolol too. I make my son a hot chocolate and do so mindfully…stay with it, stay with it.

I realise I need help and then I remember that there is none. Why is that the story of my life?! So I write this waiting for the meds to kick in, breathing and wishing that someone could remove me from this tornado. That’d be great.

One Mindfully Flashback 

Mindfulness is at the core of DBT. We learn the what skills (observe, describe, participate) and the how skills (one mindfully, non-judgementally, effectively). Personally I find these formal labels really confusing and tie myself up in knots trying to figure out which mindful skill I’m using, or trying to use.

Anyway, at the end of each module we revisit mindfulness. None of us in group like this. We all bitch and moan and roll our eyes about fucking mindfulness. Still, yesterday’s session (week 20 I believe) was about revising the how skills.


So, I still find DBT group extremely stressful and I’ve discovered that if I sit and colour in then it allows me to concentrate on what is being said, stops my mind wandering and allows me to participate much more effectively. I am calmer and remain an adult. This is good. Everyone in group gets it so they’re fine with me doing it. So yesterday I was sat colouring in, participating and all was going well. Psychologist Amy then says the whole group are going to do some colouring in and we are each going to focus on this work one mindfully. Awesome! There is an initial scrabbling for pictures, pens and pencils. I have my own so I just carry on and internally have a rueful little smile to myself; they remind me so much of the students I used to teach. Amy is teacher so gets everyone settled and instructs us all to focus and be one mindful. And we do. The room falls silent. The only sound is the rhythmic ticking of the clock.

Amy, being teacher, is now a bit lost. She doesn’t want to disturb the silence, the focus, the concentration so she starts getting bits out ready for the next bit of the session. I know exactly how she feels. I have felt that way countless times in front of my classes when they are absorbed in a task and I have become surplus to requirements. Yes I know that feeling very well and I see it in Amy. She is the teacher and I am the student…the child. Uh oh

I won’t have that sensation of leading a class because I am not a teacher anymore. A great sadness arises within me. A sense of loss. I used to be a teacher but now I sit and colour in. I let the sadness come, acknowledge it and try and focus back on the colouring one mindfully.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Just like my gran’s grandfather clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. It’s warm like my gran’s house too. Gran’s house; a place of safety. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Focus: which colour for these berries? Gran was a teacher too. I wonder what she’d make of this. She’d probably quite like it, she liked arty stuff. 

Then the smell – the smell of gran’s house. Comforting. A place of safety. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Sometimes when things became too dangerous at home I would take the kids round to my gran’s and we’d stay there. She only had a tiny flat and the grandfather clock was in the hall. Sleeping there was always so special. She would make tea and toast before bed, she would make us brush our teeth and wash our faces, we’d be tucked into a warm, cosy and clean bed. We’d say our prayers (like that helped) and then I could read. Gran had loads of books. They were old. Old book smell (yum!), tucked up in a safe bed listening to the tick tock of that grandfather clock. The rarest of moments for me, feeling safe, feeling cared for. 

But I wasn’t at my gran’s house. She is dead. Long dead. More sadness at the loss. Made so much more bitter by her dying 5 days after my son’s birth. This prevented me attending her funeral. I never said goodbye. I was given nothing of her possessions. Our relationship not even acknowledged by the rest of the family. I was out of sight, out of mind. I am no one to anyone. Every year the family travels back to where gran is buried, to remember her and to keep the family ties. I can never go because I have my son’s birthday stuff going on, which no one thinks of. To be honest I often wasn’t even invited. That hurts. A family gathering of my parents, 3 aunts, 1 uncle, their partners, my 3 brothers, my 11 cousins (and their partners and children too as they’ve grown) – but not me. And no one misses me. 
And I know it’s all part of the fucking Universal balance thing. I fucking know it. Every year I am punished. Special was she? Ha ha ha. Take her away in a way where you can never say goodbye and be always excluded. Ha ha ha. Know your place. And not to be outdone, exactly 7 years after she died (5 days after my son was born) my daughter was born. Her birthday is my gran’s date of death.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I’m supposed to be colouring in. Pick up another pen. Focus one mindfully. Fight the flashback; my vision is going dark and grainy and I feel faint – this is often how flashes come for me. But I fight it. I breathe deeply and mindfully. I fight the urge to run out of the room. God, the sadness. It’s overwhelming. If I start crying I won’t stop. I look at the chimes they use to signal the beginning and end of each mindfulness practice. I’m willing Amy to chime them. Please, please, please. 

Finally she does. With a peaceful smile she asks how we found that. I speak up. I share the sadness, the wanting to run, the near flash but I don’t share the details. Amy asks how I am now. I shyly bring my hand out from under the table. It is shaking violently. I feel faint and sick. I’m sweating. This is fear. I know this. There is no insight or conclusion about what happened and I manage it skilfully. 

When group finishes I am still shaken. Another ghost has been awakened. And I feel alone with it. Again back to the psychotherapy argument – why won’t anyone help me with my ghosts? They awaken them with their stupid mindfulness bollocks and then I am left with them. As if I didn’t have enough to manage already. 

At home that night I want to obliviate everything. Instead of taking all the meds that I want I make, what I consider to be, a wise mind choice. Instead of taking an amount of substances that would be dangerous I take 2 cocodamol, drink one beer and pop my quetiapine. Good night.

No doubt I can look forward to being bollocked for doing that later today. Sometimes I think…wilful? Wilful?! You have no fucking idea how wrong you are. Since when is fighting for survival wilful?