Suicide and Self-Harm with Borderline Personality Disorder

Hey.  It happens.  End of article.

Just kidding.  Just like with Mary Poppins, I find that humor can be the spoonful of sugar helps to help the medicine go down, and this is some very, very bitter medicine indeed.  But first a little good news.

Borderline Personality Disorder is totally treatable, possibly even curable.  According to one study, as many as 94% of us can receive almost total remission of our symptoms.  But only if we get treatment for it.  So figure out a way to shuck out the bucks.  It’s a long, hard road (years, baby, years) but isn’t your happiness worth it?

Now… let’s look at another percentage.  If you choose not to get treatment, you have a 1 in 10 chance of killing yourself.  And who knows how high the percentage of us is that at least tries.

My first serious attempt was June 1st, 2013.

Depressed and LonelyI had been working at tough job, teaching 9th grade in a city with the second highest crime rate in America.  I had turned in my resignation, and had yet to find another job.  Not only was I stressed from not knowing where my next meal was coming from, but I had genuinely fallen in love with some of the kids at the school, and now they were all going away and I was never going to see any of them again.  Abandonment!

And to top things off, while all of this was happening, my girlfriend decided she no longer wanted to be in relationship.  That’s two, big double whammies of abandonment piled on top of each other.

Now, I’ve made “cries for help” in the past.  There have been points in my life where I would cut or burn myself as either a way to seek nurturance from someone or as a way to feel something, anything again (2the Empties.”  We’ll talk more about these later).  But this time, I just gathered the things which meant something to me—the art my ex had given to me, all our pictures and memories—place them on the bed in the spare room, and started washing down pills with alcohol.

Now don’t laugh at me.  It was red wine, not whiskey, and the pills were over-the-counter.  Enough of both would have worked.  I asked my doctor.  But here’s the problem…

I only had so many pills in a bottle, the rest were in blister packs, which I got too drunk to open.  So the next time you wanna complain about how hard it is to get into those pills, just remember that they make them that way for a reason.

Anyway, the pills and booze took effect and I wound up passing out.  I woke up a few hours later because my body was telling me I had to go to the bathroom.  I wanted to die, but I sure didn’t want to be found in a puddle.  I dragged myself to my feet somehow, slumped into the bathroom, and saw myself in the mirror.

Every muscle in my body was slack.  My mouth hung open.  My eyes drooped.  My face was basically hanging off of my skull.  I barely looked human.  And the thing in the mirror scared me.

What if I didn’t die?  What if I was stuck this way for the rest of my life?  It was a distinct possibility, but one I couldn’t think too hard about.  I managed to pee, slump back to my bed, and pass out again.  I stayed there for the next fourteen hours.

When I woke up, I still had trouble controlling my muscles.  I felt and moved like a newborn giraffe.  I made it into the living room, flopped onto the sofa, watched some TV… and started drinking again.  No pills this time.  I didn’t want to die at the moment.  I didn’t feel anything.  And that’s what we’ll talk about next.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Borderline Personality Disorder is totally treatable, possibly even curable so it`s no need for suicide and self-harm!

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)

It Is Not Just Our Own Boundaries BPD People Have Problems With

Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder, Part-2

Remember last time when I talked about the friend that “wouldn’t be my friend anymore” if I didn’t blow up frogs with him?  Well, my boundaries as an adult haven’t gotten much better.  For example:

“Sure, honey.  You can go back to your job as a stripper.  It’s just dancing, right?  I’ll totally overlook the fact that you are shaking your naked jiggly bits at strange men.  Just don’t leave me.

I’m paraphrasing, but I spoke basically those same words to my ex-wife, who also has Borderline Personality Disorder (and was in fact the first time I ever heard the term before).

BoundaryNow, I’m sure there are some open-minded guys out there who would legitimately have no problem with their wife being a stripper.  There are few guys who I’m sure would be totally turned on by it.  Well, I’m not one of those guys.  I’m old-fashioned, and by old-fashioned, I mean “jealous and possessive.”  What I wanted to say was:

“You are my wife.  Yes.  They’re your jiggly bits, but the only person I’m cool with you shaking them at is me.”

But did I tell her that?  No way!  She wanted to do it, so I said “do it.” Then went and cried about it, just like I cried about the frogs.

That’s my own biggest boundary problem.  I’m terrified both of asking for what I want and telling people what I will and will not accept from them.  And that really sucks.

Now… it’s not just our own boundaries people with BPD have problems with, but respecting the boundaries of others, too.   Here’s an example of what I mean.  Let’s pretend that what follows is a series of text messages between me and a former girlfriend of mine (we’ll call her Justine, because it’s not her real name, but it’s a totally hot name for a girlfriend to have, in my opinion).  I’d like to say these hypothetical texts are wildly exaggerated, but in reality, they probably aren’t.  And yes, we BOTH use proper grammar when we text.

JUSTINE: “Sorry, Bruce, but I can’t see you this weekend.  My son has a paper I have to help him with and I’ve GOT to get this project done by Monday.”

BRUCE: “You need space because you want to work on your art?  But the weekends are my time with you!  You NEVER wanna spend time with me anymore.”

JUSTINE: “I know we haven’t seen each other much lately, and I’m sorry.  I hate to not see you, but I really will be too busy.”

BRUCE: “Guess I’m just not very important to you.  You must not love me anymore, so I’m gonna send you mean, accusatory text messages and try to make you feel like a total waste of flesh.  You hurt me, so I’m gonna hurt you.”

That’s paraphrasing.  When I’m in “the zone,” I just do it.  I NEVER admit to it… at least not until after the fact.  I’m working on it.  And then, after five or ten minutes with no response from her, I start again.

BRUCE: “I’m sorry.  I’m a terrible person.  You deserve better.  I’m breaking up with you because I totally suck and should be destroyed.”

And another five minutes.  No response from her.

BRUCE: “Please stop ignoring me!  I don’t ignore you!  Can’t you see how much this is hurting me?”

And in less than two minutes…

BRUCE: “Don’t leave me!  I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  I’M SORRY!”

And then I go cry, just like I did for exploded frogs and wiggled jiggly bits.  And ten minutes later, I get a reply.

JUSTINE: “Um… I was driving.  Stop being such a drama queen, Bruce.”

BRUCE: “I’m sorry.”

JUSTINE: “It’s OK.”

BRUCE: “Please don’t hate me.”

JUSTINE: “I don’t hate you, but I have to get to work now.”

BRUCE: “OK.  I’m sorry.”

Ten minutes.  No response.

BRUCE: “Please don’t leave me!”

I know, I know.  Pathetic.  I’d like to say I’m not that bad anymore, but considering I did something almost exactly like this when I opened my eyes this morning, I’d be lying.

Keep in mind; I’m new at all of this.  Don’t look at me as the wise old sage with all the wisdom.  I’m figuring this out as I’m going along.  

So anyway, once I realize the abandonment is only perceived, I’m able to get hold of things quickly, but I do find myself apologizing more and more these days.  Hey, at least I recognize that my behavior is wrong.  

Now… When the abandonment is real, when the relationship really is over, I’m much, much worse.  

BRUCE: “Fine then.  You don’t love me, and that’s because I’m unlovable.”

JUSTINE: “You’re not unlovable, Bruce.  I care about you a lot.  I just can’t be in a relationship right now.”

BRUCE: “That’s OK.  I understand.  I can’t be in this world right now.  I love you and I’m sorry for what I’m about to do.  Goodbye.”

And that, boys and girls, is where the booze and pills start going down the old gullet.  And that’s where I’m gonna leave (but not abandon) you for this time.

It’s an old writer’s trick.  The cliffhanger.  Always leave them wanting more.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)

Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder – Part I

Boundaries!  They’re not just for breakfast anymore!

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – (Called emotionally unstable personality disorder)

Bondary FactorsI can’t remember the product the whole “not just for breakfast anymore” tagline comes from, but for some weird reason, it seems to apply.  See, as someone who has only very recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, in the past boundaries were “just for breakfast,” meaning I knew roughly what boundaries were about, I knew I was supposed to have them, but I never really thought about them.

As someone hoping to recover, I’m eating boundaries for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks.  It’s a conscious effort, and I’ll be the first one to tell you, they’re hard to swallow.  I’m already getting sick of it.  And yes, I barfed a few right back up.

For people without Borderline Personality Disorder, boundaries are something they learned naturally over the course of their lives.  For me, I’ve gotta pack all of that learning into my adulthood, when things such as boundaries are much harder to learn.  Or rather, I have to unlearn what I learned about boundaries in my childhood.

In my last article, I mentioned the fear of abandonment being the big nasty as far as BPD goes.  I also mentioned that it’s most likely caused by childhood trauma.  So, like a horrifying, traumatic version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (“chocolate and peanut butter—two great tastes that go great together”) I’m gonna talk about boundary problems from my childhood.  And please, try not to hate me when you read the next line.

When I was a kid, I used to hurt animals.

I know what you’re thinking.  That’s the sign of a whooooole different kind of personality issue and also one of the hallmark signs of a budding young serial killer.  So before you go running for the hills thinking you’ve been taking advice from Ted Bundy, allow me to clarify.

When I was a kid, I used to hurt animals… and then go cry about it.

I didn’t like it.  I hated doing it.  I’ve always been an animal lover.  To this day, the thought of what I did makes me sick to my heart.  See, I used to blow up frogs with firecrackers.  Not because I wanted to, but because my “friend” wanted me to.

As the nerdy, sickly kid who always got beat up, friends were hard to come by.  So when I did find one, I did whatever it took to hang onto him or her.  Even if that meant doing something I knew in my heart was intrinsically evil.  If I didn’t do it, he “wouldn’t be my friend anymore.”

Those were his words.  I remember.  So, I did it… and then went and cried about it.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder have all sorts of boundary problems.  Our own personal boundaries can be far too flexible or far too rigid.  Personally, I’m of the “people pleasing” variety.

Whatever it takes to make someone else not leave me, I’m cool with it… sorta… but we’ll talk more about that next time.

Your brother in arms,

-Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)

If You Have Got BPD You Are Hurting Right Now

Recovery and Roadblocks with Borderline Personality Disorder, Part II

So, when we left our hero (me) last week, I had been dumped by my girlfriend, was incredibly depressed, got on a dating site, found four smoking hot ladies who wanted to meet me within a week, had another friend who wanted to introduce me to her smoking hot friend that’s ten years younger than me, and managed to pull off the Holy Grail of masculine seduction: I got the phone number for a stripper while she was working!

So no problems, right?  WRONG.  It’s a very, very big problem. If I was capable of casual sex, I’d have been in hog heaven, especially with the stripper girl (they really are as good in bed as you think they are).

But for me, sex is about love.  And love, REAL love, takes time.

Borderline Personality DisorderSee, I had been in a committed, stable and loving relationship for three years.  Sure, it was long distance, but this woman really cared about me (still does) and I really cared about her (still do).  But rather than heal from the break, I immediately set out to “fill the void she left.”  But here’s the kicker.  That hole in me?  That was there long before she left.  Chances are, it’s part of the reason why she left to begin with.

But that hole hurts so much when it’s empty, you just gotta fill it.  Well, hooking up with any of those women would be just as effective as slapping a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound.

You see, I don’t know any of those women from the dating site.  I’ve never met my friend’s friend in person.  And after having been married to an exotic dancer once before, I know better than to get involved with another one.  I have no reason to love any of those women.  But within a week of meeting any of them, I’d have slept with them (I’m attractive, charming… and manipulative), and I would have made up a reason to instantly be in love with any one of them.

I’ve done it before, well, with every woman I’ve ever been with except this last one.  That one took time.  The relationship developed slowly.  If she wasn’t the right woman for me (something I’m still not prepared to admit), then I at least went about things the right way with her.

Remember that I promised news about my Borderline Personality Disorder that shocks even me?  Well here it is:

I shut down my dating site account.  And some of you guys out there are going to think I’m the dumbest man on earth, but I deleted the stripper’s phone number, too.  Sorry, ladies.  It’s not that I’m not interested.  It’s that I’m too interested.  Not in you, but in filling the hole.

And right now, I’m poison, baby.  Which, in a sick sort of way, makes me even sexier to some women.  Chances are, they’ll stumble across this blog for the same reasons you’re reading it and I’m writing it.  Because women who dig the damaged guys are probably damaged themselves.  Like attracts like, remember?

All hooking up with someone this soon after a breakup would do would be to continue the cycle.  You gotta hurt to heal, and in my case, it means I have to be alone.  And that absolutely terrifies me.  But I’m gonna do it.  I don’t feel like a “whole person” right now, but I realize, at least on an intellectual level, that no other person can “complete” me.  Only I can complete myself.

Now, I just gotta figure out a way to make my heart believe what my brain has known all along.

So if you’ve got BPD, chances are you’re hurting right now.  Just know you’re not the only one.  You got me, kiddies.  I’m right there in the trenches with you.  I know it’s cold comfort, but it’s all I can offer at the moment.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his mental health related articles)

Recovery and Roadblocks with Borderline Personality Disorder

The healing process isn’t like it is for Bipolar Disorder

I promised shocking news in my last article, so here it comes. Guess what?

You’re not a child anymore.  You’re all grown up.  Chances are that if you’re reading this, you aren’t dead.  If you are dead, well, say hi to Jimi Hendrix for me.  And chances are you’re not still living with Mama.  You can take care of yourself.  You made it.  You’re healed, right?

Healing from BPDNot quite.  It takes years to undo the damage our childhoods caused us, but in order to start the process, you’ve gotta be committed.  And the scariest part of all is that the healing process isn’t like it is for Bipolar Disorder.  There’s no little pill you can take to make things better.  In fact, if you’re like me, the pills just make things worse.  The pills dull the pain.  To heal from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you gotta feel it.  It hurts to heal.

And I promise you that right now, I am hurting very, very deeply.  Up until a month ago, everything was going right for me.  I had just landed my first teaching job.  My prizewinning screenplay had just entered into the development stage with an actual Hollywood director. Sometime within the next year, I’m gonna get a paycheck of anywhere between $50,000 and $500,000 bucks.

Now ask me if I care.  Nope.  Life is shit.  And all because my girlfriend dumped me.

But I’m slowly coming back from it.  And this time, I’m doing things differently, because this woman really was special.  And she still loves me.  And she’s trying to be my friend.  And she’ll continue to be my friend if I can just stop freaking out.  And she didn’t leave me for another man or because of anything I’d done.  I was the best boyfriend she ever had.  That’s what she said, and I believe her.  She just can’t be in a relationship right now.  She’s got her own issues to sort out.

Remember that, if nothing else.  Like attracts like.

And you know what?  I can’t be in a relationship, either.  Not if I want to get better.  It’s not like I don’t have the option to date someone.  I signed up for one of those dating sites immediately after she left me, which is a big clue right there.  Within a week, I had four gorgeous women wanting to meet me.   I also had a friend wanting to set me up with their (also gorgeous) young friend… who’s ten years younger than me.
And check this out.  I went to a topless club with a friend two weeks ago.  I started talking to one of the dancers (they’re people, too, ya know) and we had a lot in common.  Similar musical tastes.  Both avid readers.  Both physically attractive, emotionally damaged people.  The big difference is that she’s twenty-three, and I’m… um… not.

Anyway, I was feeling all confident and full of myself, so I poured on the old Anderson charm.  I asked for her phone number.  I got it.  And it WORKS.

Ready for some more shocking news? I tell ya, boys and girls, this shocks even me.  But you’re gonna have to wait until next time to read it. If nothing else, maybe the sheer morbid curiosity will keep you going until next time.

It’s the littlest things that often do.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and have links to several of his mental health related articles)

So What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality DisorderWell, the official answer is “who the hell knows?”  However, there are a number of contributing factors.  Biology may be a part of it, but the big part seems to be childhood trauma. So, let me tell you about my childhood.

As a child, I was both sickly and smart, a combo that naturally lends itself to the receiving end of bullying.  And from kindergarten to 8th grade, it was a daily occurrence.  It took getting my growth spurt and shooting up to over six feet tall to stop that.  Of course, snapping and dragging a linebacker across the top of a chain-link fence was the real reason it stopped.  Whole lot of stiches involved when that happens.

“Don’t mess with Bruce!  He’s CRAZY!”

See kids?  Crazy can be a good label sometimes.

So did the bullying cause it?  Who knows?  But it certainly didn’t help.
Neither did “losing my virginity” at the age of nine, but that was a fairly short term thing and could’ve been chalked up to childhood experimentation, if it weren’t for the fact that I was nine and she was fifteen.  A lot of guys would just call that “lucky,” but I’m pretty sure the law calls it “sexual abuse.”

So did that cause it?  Who knows?  But it probably didn’t help, either.

Probably the most major culprit – and something people with Borderline Personality Disorder all seem to have in common – is childhood abandonment, or at least perceived abandonment.

We may have had a parent disappear from our lives at an early age.  We may have had a caregiver who was just never around.  I’m pretty sure that with me, it was because when I became “unmanageable” and rambunctious as a child, my mother would grow frustrated with me and say things like “I can’t handle you anymore!  I’m just gonna run away from home and never come back.”

She never did, of course, but at the age of five, I believed her.  And her getting in the car and starting it up without me (“If you don’t hurry up, I’m just gonna leave you here!  You’re making me late to work!”), well… that set the whole “run away from home” thing in concrete in my developing brain.

Now, is that what caused it?  Who knows? But it certainly didn’t help matters, and now any time any woman leaves me, regardless of whether we were right for each other or not, my initial reaction is one of abject terror.

Sigmund Freud - your momIf you’re reading this, Mom, I’m sorry.  I love you.  And I forgive you.  I knew and loved your mother, too.  You just passed it down the line.  You didn’t know any better.

But anyway… I’m not gonna pull a Sigmund Freud and say “blame it all on your mother,” because that may or may not be the case.  But something in your childhood probably set this off for you.

But in my next article, you’ll get some really shocking news.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

It turns out that I’m NOT bipolar – I have Borderline Personality Disorder