As the holiday season approaches a large number of people suffer from depression. Between the lessening of light during the day and memories of happier times it can challenge even the strongest among us.
Having borderline personality doesn't help. This disorder stems from intense fear of abandonment. The way this has historically affected me is I deny the pain. I ignore those moments. I want to share a photo that may better explain where I am headed today....
I have probably shared my journey, beginning in HS, with many. Yet I always told my story in a monotone voice with little emotion. Like a bad movie. Internally I convinced myself that my life was fine. That I was somehow...stronger than my pain and history.
That is a very dangerous game to play. Because my mother suffered from severe depression I saw how holiday's affected her. Frankly she was a mess. She had lost her own mother at 3, her brother at 16 and her father at 17. When her Mom died her Dad went to work on the Alaska pipeline (In lieu of minor league baseball as it didn't pay enough) and her brothers were all taken in by family. She was sent to an orphanage and eventually to a distant relative in Montana.
Now...that is pain. I look back at my Mom's life and I realize I think she was borderline as well. How could she not be? With that level of abandonment...especially at age 3/4 would push the strongest of us to the brink. It's not a surprise to me that she had several suicide attempts. That's where my story begins. I was 4.
I remember the evening like it was yesterday. My father has confirmed that my memory is fairly accurate. I was trying to sleep in a room that we had as a guest room I think. I remember hearing what I thought was a party and later found out was another couple. They were drinking and making a lot of noise and I couldn't sleep.
At some point I heard screaming. I got up out of bed and walked into the hallway, about 15' from the living room. I saw blood spurting from both of mothers arms. Towels and just chaos. I heard her say (Not confirmed but not denied by Dad) "JUST LET ME DIE" I made eye contact with her and that's the last thing I remember in my life till age 6. Age 6-10 is pretty fuzzy as well.
A year later my parents were "saved from the streets" and joined a commune that I think was cult like and while Dad admits they probably would be considered that way he also tells me he never felt closer to God than during those years. "Things were really happening" At age 10 we moved to Evanston IL and joined Reba Place Fellowship. A (loosely affiliated) Mennonite community. That began 11 of the best years of my life. Reba was the antithesis of a cult. So into consensus that it jammed them up. The reason they chose to live communally was they felt like they could not minister to the poor while driving a Cadillac. Yet they emphasized extended family above all and strongly encouraged (and paid for) 2-4 weeks a year with family. To this day I love every person there with all I have.
I don't think my Mom could ever "own" her pain...it was too hard. The brother who died at 16 had been kicked out due to her and she carries that guilt with her...or did until her stroke in 2007. She had a midlife crisis when she was my age and it almost destroyed her marriage. I know she never recovered from that. She was very sad and when her daughter (My sister) died at age 36 (2005) it immobilized her.
I think there is danger in owning your pain. I think there is as much danger in not owning it either.
My borderline and narcissism developed at age 4. There is no doubt. I have had my own intense pain in my life, each and any of these episodes is bad enough. My ex walked out with no notice and took my 4 year old daughter from me. Left me stranded in a cabin (Pre cell phones)
A Part of me died that day. I will NEVER forget sitting on the steps and looking at the clock...waiting...waiting...anger...anger....fear...fear....reality. At that point I was diagnosed Bi-Polar which was removed in 2007 as "mimic" bi-polar. I have only recently begun to accept that I probably have bi-polar with depression, PTSD and of course Borderline.
Perhaps the casual reader can see what it "feels" like to continually be abandoned. Much of my abandonment isn't a "perception" its a reality. This is why the diagnosis was so easy to accept.
Again, much of this is covered earlier in my blog but from 2005-current my life has been almost nothing but pain. The mantra for BPD is "Anything to stop the pain" Again, an excerpt from my last entry, part of an interview with Dr. Seth Axelrod
I think that individuals with BPD have tried on their own, so many different ways to cope that fail over and over again, and they often been in many therapies that have failed over and over again. And so they cling to what they’ve got because at least it’s gotten them this far, at least it takes away the pain and the suffering in short term at least. While they are in misery, there’s a safety in that. And I think that general principle is true across any therapies where a person is having to change the way they are dealing with their problems and take on new behaviors.
08/2005- Call from Florida that my oldest daughter was found unconscious in a crack house at age 13.
09/2005- Sister discharged against her PCP's orders and dies at home from a heart attack after a routing tonsillectomy
02/2006- Fired, no reason given. Offered lifetime EAP in August
08/2006- The night before my mothers surgery my puppy dies in my arms from Parvo. They had discovered an aneurysm in my mothers base of her frontal lobe. So difficult to reach a surgeon flew in from Chicago (We were in KC by now) she had 2 massive strokes and almost died several times before "waking up" but it left her w/a traumatic brain injury. I *almost* made this my post today as there was an interesting topic on ECT on Twitter and this stroke "reset" my Mom's brain. She remembers the trauma but it no longer makes her sad. There is something there
03/2007- Mom nearly dies 2x in 24 hours while Dad is away. This event requires way more explanation than this particular post can afford. A week later she "wakes up" and is home by July requiring 24/7 care.
2007- Loss of 2 jobs I quit. Both professional. Both great paying jobs.
10/2007- My wife's sister dies from a routine breathing treatment. She had rescued my wife from her own abuse and was my wife's mother.
12/2007- I discover a suicide note my wife wrote and contract her to a no self harm contract. But she won't go to counseling
10/2008- My marriage is virtually over. I have checked out.
11/2008- My wife attempts suicide
Now it isn't exactly pretty from 2009- current. But better. Until 2013 when I explode at my boss and walk out of the best paying job I ever had. A year later I pull the same stunt at a restaurant.
09-2014- I am diagnosed borderline, Narcissistic PD, moderate to severe depression and possibly bi-polar.
From 09/2014 to current is my blog.
So....my fear of abandonment isn't irrational. It's not based on something I made up. But I never felt it was "ok" to be afraid. Or weak.
Brandon Marshall has touched untold numbers of people with his story. HIS strength and honesty inspires soooooo many people, self included. I just hope he knows how much he means to us and also knows we care for him as a person. I think he does.
I'm working through "owning" my pain. I'm working on letting others be responsible for what they have done to me. It's hard though because as a borderline I always believed that it was my fault somehow. That's where I am in my therapy. That's why "letting go of the past" isn't going to work until I OWN and HEAL.
As one of my favorite songs starts....."I don't know where I am going but I sure know where I have been"
But it's the next line(s) that we all need to avoid and this ties into the quote above I believe.
"Here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone"
This is why I share my journey. I know I am opinionated...my articulation can be misguided too. But I don't want to be on that "lonely street of dreams" any more
I just have to own the things that have affected my life. Once that happens you will see me praising mindfulness.
Now though....I'm still healing.
Let's spend this season not being grateful of What we have....rather who we have in our lives.