“Breathe Jess, it’s just like every other time you’ve been here.” Having to convince myself to get out of the car, I took a deep breath and slid off the seat with a “harrumph”. The walk to the door was overgrown with green leafy bushes and trails of regretful memories. My mind swirled with past visits to this dungeon of forced mental relief.
The office was cold and decorated with large photos of sailboats hanging perfectly off pale blue painted walls. Soft music was playing in the background, and a beautiful arrangement of flowers welcomed patients with a brightly colored contrast. Magazines were laid out on two glass tables with traces of coffee rings and nail tapping habits. The old pages of self-help books were wrinkled from anxious thumbs yanking at their spines. I grabbed one and just held it on my lap. The water dispenser in the corner was old and annoying. Bursting bubbles every few minutes, it would wake me back up to reality and inch me closer to the exit.
She was seemingly perfect. No doubt successful in her career (judging by the office decor, sought after sessions, and large reputation). Her hair was done just right, and with her professional appearance and amazing listening skills, I believed she earned our $90 a chat. My therapist was a wonderful individual. I enjoyed talking with her, and I loved the fact that someone would look me in the eye and truly listen to my ramblings.
“Jess, hey there! You ready?” I looked up from my torn magazine (did I do that?), nodded my head and said, “Yup.” I walked past the floral arrangement and snagged my purse on a swirly squiggly thing protruding out of the pot. It spun 360 and I swear it was as if the hydrangeas were judging me, watching me walk into my fate. You see, this was our last session. I was soon to find out what “disorder” she thought was mentally torturing me.
I smiled and took a sigh as I sank deep into the worn out leather couch. Its surface looked like an elephant’s skin and the blankets folded on its arm smelled just like…home. I reached over and hugged the huge gigantor pillow next to me. Every Wednesday, it was neatly propped up in the corner of my cozy upholstered sense of comfort. That pillow received many squeezes and screams. Lots of stories were told in this room about my past. This woman heard secrets from me I didn’t even know that I had. Now, she was giving me some insight and tools to break free from my not-so-secret hurt.
“Ok, so first of all how are you doing today?” She said as she grabbed a steaming cup of tea off her desk. I watched the bag slowly bobble in the water. The vapor dancing above her blue cup. My mind was having light speed thoughts and completely decided to blow a fuse somewhere, randomly thinking things like, “Why the crap is everything in here blue? Blue is not calming in this situation. Blue is the color of dead people. Those sailboats are awful too…Man I want a ferret that would be an awesome pet! Kardashians have more problems than me….” I looked up and realized I never answered her question. “Well, um, I’m really really great!” That was lie number 50 that I have told in this sea sick office.
I shifted my hips, cringed, crinkled my runny nose and said, “Let me have it doc.” She laughed and said, “Ok, well here are some papers for you to look over. From our time here together I have gathered some ideas of what is going on. There is no doubt that you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Wow. Just like that.
I grabbed the stack of papers handed to me and realized why the self help books where thrashed apart in the lobby. I sifted through them like a treasure map. Scanning words and phrases in minutes and coming to one conclusion of it all. What the hell does this even mean? Am I crazy?
The definition for BPD by the Mayo Clinic Staff is this:
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that generates significant emotional instability. This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems.
With borderline personality disorder, you may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.
If you have borderline personality disorder, don’t get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better with treatment and can live satisfying lives.
Good to know I ‘could’ finally have a satisfying life. How do I get one of those?
Step one: Stop denying that this is an issue in my life.
Step two: Get rid of all abusive and unhealthy behavior around me.
Step three: USE THE TOOLS for recovery.
It goes on to say this:
When you have borderline personality disorder, you often have an insecure sense of who you are. Your self-image, self-identity or sense of self often rapidly changes. You may view yourself as evil or bad, and sometimes you may feel as if you don’t exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.
Your relationships are usually in turmoil. You may idealize someone one moment and then abruptly and dramatically shift to fury and hate over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because people with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty accepting gray areas — things seem to be either black or white.
Now knowing my diagnosis, it all made sense. My ‘aha’ moment had arrived. I had been dealing with this in my late teen years, all through my 20’s, up to the present (don’t ask a lady her age just know it’s the ‘new 21’ ok?) The signs were obvious. I fear loss, I am scared that those who love me will leave me, my anxiety takes over in every timed event or stressful situation, and the biggest one was sense of worth…it didn’t exist. I didn’t exist. I was constantly asking, “Who am I, really?”
I hate being able to notice my ‘problem’. It’s extremely upsetting when the urge to change is outweighed by the emotional pressure and pain. My frustrations arise from me not being able to articulate my thoughts properly in stressful situations. This starts arguments which then fuel anger and depression. The scary part of losing ‘sense of self’ is the self harming behavior such as cutting, starvation, and extreme exercising. This was, and is, not me folks. It just happens, like a programmed robot. My confused mind literally freaks out and doesn’t not know what to do next. It is absolutely terrifying.
I left the office that day, passed by the bright colored arrangement (which was now almost completely toppled over), and ran through some gnarly bushes towards my car. Why I decided to do that and not take the path? I dunno…I wanted to really escape I guess. When I got into my car I started to laugh uncontrollably. Crazy right? Absolutely insane this mind of mine. But, I was truly happy to start my journey. I wanted to get better. My laughter was relief…from myself.
I went to group therapy soon after and began learning how to express myself under pressure. I started to use tools on how to see the ‘here and now’, and tried to stay away from phrases such as, “it’s always like this”, “nothing is ever going to change”, and my favorite “I should have never….”. I learned how to stop and breathe. Most importantly I learned that I wasn’t the only one with this problem…and it was refreshing. Plus the walls were white.
Today, 3 years later, I still struggle. The tools are really difficult to use in day to day conflicts and conversations. High stress environments put me in “shutdown mode” and I’m working on breaking through that. I have horrible arguments and anger fits that a terrible two year old would envy. I have moments where I tell myself, “Jess all you do is make mistakes. You’re ugly without makeup and you are worthless. How can you be truly loved?” However, (BOOYAH!!) I now know lies from truth. I am a deeply passionate person that loves hard and sees life with an artful mind, not a deceived heart.
I thank my husband everyday for being who he is, and working through the problems with me as a “team”. He tells me he loves me, and I believe it. He makes me feel beautiful no matter what. Then there’s this little miracle in my life. She’s the calm spirit with the old soul in a 4 year old body – my daughter Chloe Rose. I am convinced she saved my life. My family (and God) have healed my soul, but this is still a process that soon will heal my mind.
If you are in this boat with me, grab a paddle. The water is fine, the sea is blue, and the future is bright.