health

'My entire life I've been the "crazy girl" who's too much. At 24, it all made sense.'

For as long as I can remember, I have been an emotional person.

Not a cries a lot kind of person or an overly sensitive kind of person. I’m talking about mood swings that happen so intensely and quickly that they would make your head spin.

Vicious words that spill over my lips, only to be forgotten minutes later. I am the girl who goes from happy to angry to sad all before nine in the morning and then back again, with no control over any of it.

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When I was 17, I can remember a night when I couldn’t get a hold of my boyfriend.

He lived in a house with my best friend and her boyfriend about 30 minutes away from where I lived with my parents. Each time I dialled his number it would ring a few times and then go to voicemail.

Within seconds of the third call, I had convinced myself that he was cheating on me, and in my head not only was he cheating on me but he was doing it with my best friend.

Anger swelled up in me, an uncontrollable rage that was about to boil over. I slammed my hand against the steering wheel, unable to control my temper.

When I called for the fourth time and again didn’t get an answer, I left a seething voicemail about what a piece of scum he was and how I hoped he and my best friend were happy with themselves for consorting behind my back.

Twenty minutes later, he called me, confused and hurt that I would think that he would do that to me. He had been on the phone with his mum and hadn’t wanted to click over, but called me back as soon as they had said goodbye.

The “Too Much Girl”

For my entire life, all of my relationships have been a struggle.

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Even the most understanding and loving partners find me to be more than a handful. More often than not they care deeply about me, love me even, but can’t handle the ups and downs, the constant insecurities, and indecisiveness. I have always been the girl who is just too much.

One minute I am the happiest girl in the world, high on life and lucky in love. The next minute, I am accusing them of not caring about me, telling them they don’t love me, and pushing them away.

I have been known to end relationships when they are doing well because I have convinced myself that my partner is going to leave or hurt me.

Finally, at the age of 24, I was given a small glimpse of hope. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

“I’m not crazy!” I thought, at first. But that wasn’t the case. The doctor explained that not only did I have this mental illness, but there wasn’t a cure.

“Therapy should help,” he said.

So I went for a while when I had a good job with good insurance and could afford to see a therapist. But it wasn’t long before I had to leave that job to care for my son and couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.

What it’s like living with Borderline Personality Disorder

As a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder, I find it hard to not be ruled by my emotions. BPD is a mental illness that affects all aspects of my life.

It affects how I see myself, how I think others see me, and how I handle my emotions. It affects my relationships, both platonic and romantic, and affects how I parent my children.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include:

An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection

  • A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealising someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Impulsive and risky behaviour, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
  • Suicidal threats or behaviour or self-injury, often in response to the fear of separation or rejection
  • Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter

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Hitting the Bottom

Last night, I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying. Alone, wrapped up in my ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt, my back pressed against the cupboards, tears flooding downward. I felt as if my ribcage had been cracked open and my heart cut from my body.

At the time, my emotions felt so real that I was sure that I would be devastated. Waking up this morning, I couldn’t even remember what exactly had me lying in a puddle of tears on the floor.

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I live in constant fear, anxiety, and paranoia. My biggest fear is being abandoned by the people that I love and care about. The only problem is that my BPD causes me to act in a way that pushes the people I love away.

My illness causes me to be afraid of being abandoned and is also the reason I am. Isn’t that amazing?

Looking back on my dating life, I can see where each relationship started to fracture, my behaviour creating cracks in the foundation we had built.

In my last relationship, I watched my insecurities pull us apart until it had to be ended before we did any more damage to each other. The worst part is standing back and watching myself destroy the most important relationship in my life, knowing what I’m doing, but having no control to stop it.

Taking Back Control

There are ways to manage BPD and there have been times in my life where I felt like I had more control over it. There are medications I could take, but they change me too much.

I found that the medications dulled my senses, caused me to be lethargic and lifeless, and cause me to have severe writer’s block.

The few times I have felt like I had control over my mental illness was when I was taking really good care of myself. I was eating healthy, about fifty pounds lighter, drinking water, getting enough sleep, and exercising. I was more in tune with my body, more self-aware.

I desperately want my life back. I want my relationship back, though I’m not sure if that can happen. Right now I am focusing on getting back to a place where my mental illness is manageable, which means focusing on myself.

Learning to manage my emotions, my illness, takes time. There will be setbacks and relapses, but what choice do I have other than to push forward? I am not a victim, but a victor, in charge of my future. I am not defined by my mental illness or a slave to BPD.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

The post was originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. 

Ashley Shannon is a thirty-something queer mum of two, one with autism. Lover of sushi, coffee, and wine. Living a life of travel. Find more of writing here. 

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