I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder last December, but that was only the beginning of my troubles. This is my diary of what came after.
Monday is relatively chill. I manage to make it to work for 10 AM, only 30 minutes late. I’m 100 percent sure my boss thinks I’m a dick. He most definitely treats me unfavorably and this is most definitely because I’m late nine times out of 10, recurringly incapable of hitting deadline, and I’m pretty sure he’s aware I allocate too much of the working day to sobbing in the bathroom. Nethertheless, he doesn’t say anything to me.
Before 1pm I’ve already puked once from anxiety and deleted my Facebook profile for the zillionth time this week. Around 3 PM I phone my ex-boyfriend and beg him to come back. He says no and asks me to go to the bathroom, stuff my hands in my pants and send him a photo. I do. It stops the shaking and sweating till about 6.30 PM when I get back home. My room’s a mess. Swollen with moldy plates, grubby underwear, and flies. I slink into bed, whack on Rick and Morty, neck some sleeping pills and wake up on Tuesday.
Work is impeccably whack today. I manage to make it in on time and even sneak in a two hour lunch. By midday I’m feeling unbearably anxious so I convince a friend to meet me for lunch. We hit a restaurant called Lyle’s and I have a bottle of wine, goat’s heart, and brisket. I check my phone 42 times but am feeling far less anxious upon my return to work despite being undeniably turnt and unable to do anything productive for the remaining duration of the day.
That evening my vibrator runs out of battery just before I’m about to come. Fury smashes around my body and I mash my bullet against the wall until I hear it crunch. I phone my mom and cry at her until I fall asleep.
Around 3 AM I wake up drenched in sweat. I can feel it dripping down my armpits and my T-shirt clings frantically to my soggy tits. My chest snaps frantically back and forth and my heart feels as though it’s clambering up my throat. I’d dreamt of my ex-boyfriend, ever haunted by the lack of hope he has for me. I check my phone, send round a few excuses for flaking on friends (I tend not to commit to much, as I always feel like I need to be in a situation where it’s totally OK to suddenly burst into tears, i.e. pretty much nowhere ever) and eventually fall back to sleep around five.
“I feel like my guts might spill out my arse, twisting spurts of anxiety swarm me.” Ryan Muirhead via Stocksy
Although I’d managed to hold it down entirely during the day, things got gnarly come the evening.
I’d just seen a photo of my ex-boyfriend having the nerve to eat lunch on Instagram— minor or even insignificant to most. Upon discovering it, I feel like my guts might spill out my arse, and twisting spurts of anxiety swarm around me. I hunch over, trembling; it feels like I’m barfing blades. I crawl to the kitchen, scoff three cigarettes in a row and rock back and forth, every so often chortling out a blubbering shriek or two. I can feel my body failing me. Distorted gurgles hum in my head and I slap quivering hands over ears. Sure, unsustainable anxiety levels are something I can just about hack thanks to lack of choice, but once strange sounds start gnawing at my skull, I know I’m beat. Last time I started hearing things I collapsed in a heap at Liverpool Street station and had to be led to the police station, and from there onto hospital. Impeccably unchill.
So I phone my dad in hysterics and plead he drive all the way over to my flat to get me. He does. He spends the next two hours carving through steaming rush-hour choked streets to my rescue. Major shouts to you, Dad.
I can’t go to work today. I wake up, do some puking, tell my boss I’d had a migraine and am shuttled accordingly off to the doctor by my mother. I google “how to hang yourself from a radiator” in the waiting room before ducking out for a quick cry. While whimpering in the bathroom I hear myself being summoned chirpily in the next room.
My doctor is an outlandishly comforting guy, he’s beautifully patient and has a glorious knack for making you feel slightly less lonely. His fave thing to talk about is whether he reckons my illness is heritable or contingent on my environment, and he’s always bang up for recommending I smother my wrists in elastic bands and ‘ping’ them when I feel particularly grim. I tell him the only thought comforting enough to induce sleep is the possibility of suicide if it all gets too much. He tells me he’s moving my next therapy session forward and reminds me to bell the Samaritans suicide hotline if I need to.
Sure, unsustainable anxiety levels are something I can just about hack… but once strange sounds start gnawing at my skull, I know I’m beat.
On the drive back to my parents’, my mom asks me when the last time I washed was. It’s been eight days. Appalled, she totally loses her shit. She busts me for flunking therapy a few weeks back and I try to explain I find it embarrassing, uncomfortable and unhelpful as it fails to fix the problem immediately. We fight. I blame my illness on her and ask her repeatedly to shut the fuck up.
By Friday morning, depression has left me entirely immobilised. Not only have I skipped work again, I’ve woken up to terribly sad news—my sister’s friend has fallen seriously ill—and I don’t leave bed for 18 hours. I send a few half-hearted mumbles about being sorry down the phone to my mate and shove it to the back of my brain.
For me, one of the most debilitating traits of BPD is the inability to put things into perspective. I didn’t care about her sister. I couldn’t care. I didn’t have the energy. I’d been mangled by ferocious anxiety jitters. If you cut me I’d bleed dread. There was nothing else to me. It had completely hollowed me out.
I sleep for another few hours and wake up around 1 PM. I weep hot, angry tears. Why the fuck couldn’t I be a better friend? I was incompetent in every single way. I hate myself. I am total trash.
Work send me a crabby email about attendance. I move jobs a lot because I fuck up a lot. I have these sporadic stints of managing relatively demanding and successfully salaried careers in social media, but this malevolent sickness always catches up to me, and I inevitably piss it all down the drain time and time again.
I haven’t spoken to anyone other than my parents in six days now. Around 2 PM I’m drenched in anxiety sweats and ordering curry. Two chicken tikka mains, a masala, a korma, butter chicken, four onion bhajis, a shami kebab starter, two portions of onion rice and two garlic naans—racking up to a potent £54.
Bulimia has slithered in and out of my life for eight years. When stuff gets particularly abhorrent, I binge. Curry’s a great call for gorging as it slips up real easy. While waiting for my delivery I’m unbearably restless, so I knock back four bowls of Coco Pops.
Come 3.30 PM I’m back in bed with sharp stomach spasms and a bloated, bleary brain. I sleep till 6.30 the following morning.
I’m contemplating raking a razor over my thighs because skin slicing works a dream—there’s no other release quite like it.
I manage to cop an emergency appointment with my doctor, who also agrees I am fast becoming an unmanageable, neurotic shit-show. He signs me off work for a week and I retreat back to Mom’s with my tail tucked tightly between my legs. I’m home and sobbing stains into my pillow. My boss is going to be so pissed. Anxiety thumps sharply in my gut just thinking about the eye rolls and tuts he’ll sling out once he gets a whiff of my absence. I once told him over work drinks that I suffer from anxiety and he called me a pussy. I text him apologizing profusely and splurge promises that I’ll make up every minute missed. I’m contemplating raking a razor over my thighs because skin slicing works a dream—there’s no other release quite like it. But in keeping with the doctor’s orders, Mom’s confiscated sharp stuff from the bathroom. I scream until I tremble.
Right now I’m voiceless as fuck and stringing this together in between tears. My mom’s sitting next to me and telling me everything’s going to be OK, and I fucking love her for it. I have no idea where I’d be without the immeasurable support of my family. Retracing my week like this has been both an unexplainably terrifying and mediative process. I guess it really does help to talk about stuff. Who knew?
I’ve noticed there’s been a relatively recent influx of BPD accounts, which is incredibly dope. Although I’ve been in and out of various therapy for coming on eight years, my most recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder wasn’t until December last year. I was told this ridiculously malicious-sounding illness could account for my myriad vulgarities—everything from my shoddy attempts at empathy and blistering anger, to my penchant for self-harming. All my doctor seemed to be saying was, “The problem is not an illness, the problem is you.” Regressive as it is, I felt weird and ashamed. As a result I’ve spent 2015 chugging antidepressants, dipping in and out of cognitive behavioral therapy and sleeping 16 hours a day.
Solitary suffering is my vibe. Maybe it’s yours too.
Personality disorder or no personality disorder, forging adulthood fucking sucks. So, in part I enjoy reading other young people’s experience of BPD, because it makes me feel a little bit less alone. The flip side? Their experiences instil within me searing jealousy. I could shit spite. I’m so far from being OK and sometimes, when I read this stuff I remember that. Then I feel like I’m about to drop off into darkness again.
I’m not bemoaning other people’s extraordinarily courageous experiences with BPD. What I’m making a feeble attempt to get at is the following: I don’t have any great advice for anyone going through this. I can’t tell you you’re going to make it because I haven’t yet. Solitary suffering is my vibe. Maybe it’s yours too. Somewhat immune to help and intervention, I’m no role model. What I do know is that nothing is as healing or calming as knowing you aren’t alone in a painful situation. Knowing that someone else gets it; knowing that someone else is going through it right now and hasn’t come through the other side. Sure, solace still seems entirely unattainable, but there is one thing that’s helped me inch tediously towards it: Unclenching my tongue from my teeth. I recommend giving it a try.