This week has been a very interesting one. So, first off, I’ve always been a little bit different. Always had trouble living life on life’s terms. I have always been afraid, always been thin skinned, always taken things personally. Always been afraid of being alone, always been bullied, always been sure there was something wrong with me. Always looking at the person next to me to see how they did it, and trying to do the same. Always sure that I would be rumbled, and people would see how crap I truly was, and that nobody would ever want to be my friend.
So when did that change? Well, about eight and a half years ago, I started taking things a little more seriously. I started looking at the circumstances in my life, and how people were always being unreasonable…I started looking at how the common denominator in that was me. I started thinking that, as someone says in Bridesmaids “You are the problem. You’re your own problem, and you’re your solution”. How true. My relationships with people have always been interesting, different, fraught. And although I got help, a lot of it didn’t make sense. Not until I reached my rock bottom (those other ones were just practice), when I developed extreme Post Natal Depression, and was forced to evaluate my own life.
I was forced to see that if I always let other people define me, then when I was alone, I would always feel weird and sort of nothing-y. I learned that nobody was going to show up and help me fix my life. I began to see that I was my solution. I also learned along the way, that the reason why I behaved like this, was because I had an underlying mental illness. I have a mental illness. I don’t like having a mental illness. I want to be all better, because I decided that I should be. But at the same time, it is a relief, when I relapse and I look at the criteria for having Borderline Personality Disorder. Because, there in black and white are all the things I do. All the things that I struggle with. And I realise, again, that this is not something that I enjoy. This is not something that I brought on myself. This was the answer to the question the 14 year old me asked herself again and again “WHAT THE F&*K IS WRONG WITH ME? WHY AM I LIKE THIS? WHY CAN”T I LOVE MYSELF?”
Being diagnosed was a huge relief because it meant that there was a REASON why I found life so difficult, why I struggled so much with extremes of emotion, why I became obsessed with certain outcomes, why I struggled to let things go, why I sought to bury my emotion in food, shopping or drinking, why I felt things so much more deeply than other people did. Why I compared myself, why I judged myself and others.
So, it was a curse and a blessing. A curse, because I had all that stuff that I had to deal with, to work on, to try and live with. But, a blessing, because I finally knew what was wrong with me. I had help. I was shown the way and had a loving family, friends, and a psychiatrist who specialised in making people with BPD find a life that was liveable.
But – I still struggle. I still struggle fiercely with my emotions, and in particular, anger. I haven’t had an anger episode for a long time, but I had one last week. And it destroyed some stuff in my life. Good friends, who I haven’t known for that long, saw me at my worst, and didn’t like it. It scared them. This episode set off a chain of events that led to me having to resign from my job, a job I loved, a job where I finally felt that I had found my calling. A job that was proof that I wasn’t limited or challenged. A job where people looked to me for the answers. A job where I could give back for all the compassion and help that I’d received in the past eight years.
I am struggling to not feel like I blew it – like I should have tried harder. But, my overwhelming feeling is that I may have lost friends and a job, but that I am moving on. I have made some amazing friends through this job, and I am proud of my achievement in keeping this job, even though I wish it could have lasted for longer. I recognise that I was starting to get tired. That I was starting to get stressed. That the responsibility was starting to be too much for me. That I was feeling out of control…that I didn’t know how I was going to fit it all in. That I felt like it defined me.
And you know what? I don’t need a job to tell me who I am. I am Deborah Louise Hay (nee Cook). I make mistakes. I let people down. I fall down, but I get back up again. I am honest about my failings. I try to right my wrongs. I am what you see. I love helping people. I love being social. I love sarcasm. I love food. I love sugar. I love my family. I love my son. I love my husband. I love cats. I love toilet humour. I love that life is full of surprises and I love that I”m getting better at rolling with the punches. I love that my husband has taught me to laugh at myself, and I love that I have taught him compassion. I love that I am me. I may not be the best me that I can be, but I’m working on it. Watch this space.
Deb Hay has suffered from Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder most of her life but she’s done so with the support of an extraordinarily loving family and fabulous friends. You can find her blog here.
What defines you?