Out of the darkness, but not into the light

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Last week I posted about being in a BPD black hole, namely because I was right in the middle of one. I can feel that sensation receding now, day by day. It’s interesting to me to track the times that those pitfalls occur and how long they last, etc.  Well, I say “interesting” but that’s far too clinical and detached: what I really mean is, I’m swamped beyond all interest, curiosity, or any other active or positive emotion while I’m in them, and then when they do recede I kind of sit up and go, “… OK what the f**k just happened?”

I want to know more about them because they basically define BPD for me. Without them, I feel like I’d be a functional, ‘normal’ person. Many times in my life I’ve thought, oh yay, they’re gone and now I’m okay! The truth is that for a variety of reasons, things would be going well enough that I didn’t fall into them, but the minute any emotion/situation arose that required my good ol’ coping mechanisms – *WHAM* they’d descend on my life like a murder of particularly ominous crows.

In fact, one of the trickiest things about BPD is that borderlines can be so damn normal a lot of the time. They’re often (seemingly) outgoing, friendly, positive people with lots of great stuff in their lives (Marilyn Monroe is famously rumoured to have been BPD). Unlike straight depression or anxiety or many other disorders (although those can definitely crop up in the life of a borderline as well), BPD can often co-exist just fine with a superficially great life for years and years – even decades in my case. I spent most of my life succeeding in ways that indicated to everyone who knew me that I was on top of everything: I had lots of friends; I had worked my way up to studying at some of the world’s most prestigious universities; I worked, earned money, spent it in normal ways; I enjoyed normal hobbies like music and travelling. But the few people closest to me (and for me that meant romantic partners and a couple best friends, as I am quite emotionally distanced from my family) were forced to see the parts I kept from everyone else: the cutting, the starving, the periods of depression, the OCD, the uncontrollable emotions that would culminate in me verbally or even physically attacking them (by the way, I don’t know why I’m using the past tense because, yeah, this is still how it goes… optimism I guess?).

My blackest depths last, on average, 5-7 days, and, like a pressure-releasing valve, they go off about once every couple months. I’ve had them last as long as a couple weeks but rarely. I’ll usually be down, depressed, tired and/or mopey after they hit (current feelings of blargh), but the real crushing point is usually a matter of days and not weeks. During those days, I feel inconsolably – and I mean utterly inconsolably – frustrated, furious and suicidally depressed. Everything and everyone that attempts to help gets attacked. There’s a vague sense that I don’t deserve or want to feel better – but I don’t know why. Sometimes there’s a sense that if only someone would do the perfect thing at the perfect time exactly the way I want, THEN I’d know that someone really cares. It’s a sort of trial by telepathy that – big surprise! – never, ever works out.

I understand that my worst periods are brought on by any strong negative emotion – even if it’s something as seemingly innocuous as disappointment over someone not saying “I love you” when they normally do – but what I don’t understand is how to give myself or the other person permission to move past them. It feels like moving on or letting go (i.e. the normal healthy thing to do) would be giving up, accepting what I know to be wrong and unjust, letting someone get away with murder – in other words, total anathema to a borderline. Once emotions ARE released, they simply cannot be moved past or it feels like we’re accepting the invalidation of our emotions that so scarred us in the past.

It is not a pleasant feeling, to put it mildly.

I’m glad to be gradually moving out of it. The problem is that each time one of these things happen, they leave a wake of pretty serious destruction. I feel permanently less trustful of the person who (I feel) hurt me, or maybe I’ve hurt them, or smashed something I really wish I hadn’t smashed (goodbye, favourite coffee mug), or said something I wish I could take back, or hurt myself so badly I can’t wear a tank top and it’s really hot this week, or blah blah blah. You likely know the drill.

And of course, for most borderlines, there’s always the threat that one of those episodes will cause the one action you really can’t take back – the one that you practice over and over and over in your mind, both as a kind of comfort and a masochistic fantasy.

This is quite the rambling post so I’ll leave off for now in order to get some more of the good stuff (sleep, water, healthy food, exercise) that helps me recover from these black spots.

Does anyone else have any insight on these awful times? How long do yours typically last? And how often?

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