This isn’t necessarily exclusive to the upcoming “holiday,” but in light of Valentines Day approaching, I thought the timing was right. That, and the fact that this just recently happened near the end of January, so it’s all still very fresh in my mind and my emotions are still raw.
With or without a mental illness, with or without a significant other — February 14th can be a particularly hard day for people due to the fact that it’s simply everywhere. There’s really no escape of being reminded. I have the same hard time specifically with New Years. Even the popularized “Galentine’s Day” thanks to the TV show “Parks and Recreation,” is now something I struggle to avoid being reminded of. These occasions being about celebrating with your loved one(s).
But right now, the struggle for me is that commercial holiday coming up on February 14th — Valentine’s Day. I want to avoid sounding like that cliche, bitter upset girl who doesn’t have anyone to celebrate with. Because for the most part, that’s not what it’s really about. It’s more just funny timing being close to the 14th.
I have a number of mental illnesses. The most predominate being borderline personality disorder (BPD). And the man I fell for but am no longer with, broke my heart recently by using my BPD against me. Unfortunately, he used symptoms of the disorder — which are not actually true to me — as excuses and reasons not to be with me, or even directly talk to me on the phone or in person. I don’t know which hurts most — that or him saying he just doesn’t have feelings for me anymore.
Along with this, I’ve had a difficult time ignoring it. I want to ignore it because of how deep the words he said cut me and because I’m sick of crying. So I try not to think about it. Meaning, I haven’t been writing — not just about this, but in general. Writing is not just something I like to do — it’s a part of who I am. A huge part. And for the last week or so since it happened, I allowed him to take away this essential part of me because I was tired and afraid to feel or acknowledge the reality of the situation. I still am, honestly. But in doing so I’ve restricted myself from healing — my writing, which I know is only doing more harm whether I see it or not. Things get harder before they get easier. You have to hurt in order to heal.
A sort of writer-friend of mine told me something the day after that I’ve held onto — put it into my art. No shame in staying in bed all day, but refuse to let him take away my words. This is the time to cry, write and let it out. “You’ll be amazed at what heartache can create,” she said.
Mental illness is what had connected us in the first place when we met — we were working together temporarily. A couple days into the job, I was just having a bad day. And he saw that. He recognized someone with more going on inside than they let come to the surface, something he related to. And so that was the first time we talked to each other. What was the most refreshing thing was was his “no nonsense” approach. Instead of tiptoeing around and walking on eggshells like everyone else, he said what he was thinking, he was blunt. More than that, he was vulnerable back with me about himself. While we don’t share any disorders, he’s experienced his own fair share of anxiety and depression.
From the very beginning of our friendship, before the beginning of us dating, he knew about my diagnoses. Always asked about my BPD or anxieties, just trying to understand it and me a bit better. Even throughout us dating, I often tried helping him to better understand what my mental illnesses made me felt, why they affected me in the ways that they did.
He knew. I opened up to him about everything. And despite my insistent, “You’re going to get sick of me,” “You’re going to regret me,” he wanted a relationship. He assured me he knew that maintaining a relationship would be difficult, but he knew the signs of a bad day, the symptoms that affected me the most and I didn’t mean any negative things I may or may not say — some days are harder to keep under control than others, especially when it came to my BPD.
In the beginning, he did an honest job of trying/understanding. But it quickly became apparent when he wasn’t trying anymore — when he was giving up.
What’s someone like myself who lives with BPD like?
My moods can change in the blink of an eye. The “go away, don’t leave me” routine. I could be doing fine months or even years, but then wake up one random morning wanting to die all over again. I tend to feel a lot more than others, on a higher and more extreme level. I can’t think of a word strong enough for the fear of abandonment and/or rejection. I’m incredibly sensitive and take things to heart a lot of the time.
Sometimes I have a hard time showing my emotions, or am just too scared to for fear of being judged, rejected or abandoned. Sometimes I self-sabotage. Sometimes I don’t feel enough; through the constant feelings of worthlessness, sadness or self-hatred, it can become easy to internalize everything and make myself numb. On purpose or not. Because of this, I’m often called or thought of as unlikable, uncaring and hard to deal with or be around. I tend to look too deeply into what is being said to me. Therefore I’m accused of making something out of nothing — creating problems for myself and those in our lives. I am called an attention-seeker. More often than not, I’m accused of being manipulative. My feelings tend to be invalidated. I can be called a liar. People can think I’m difficult or I’m overreacting. I’m in extreme pain. A lot of us scared and embarrassed; ashamed of being this way, even though it wasn’t a choice.
We know it’s exhausting to be around us because we’re the ones actually having to live with it.
We live with one of the most stereotyped, stigmatized mental disorders out there.
And despite all of the assurance he’d given me, last week I found myself — my self-worth, my very being — being torn and belittled by the man I love. And it was one of the most painful of heartbreaks I’ve ever experienced. Hurt turned into anger and back to hurt again. It just keeps repeating.
Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe these things don’t make sense to be hurt over. But the reality is is that it does hurt. And it’s easier said than done to “not think about it.”
In the midst of this heartbreak, I can’t seem to escape the fact that February 14th is coming up. Going over the same questions… How am I ever going to find someone who will understand, still want to be with me and actually stay if he of all people couldn’t in the end?
I know I’m not someone who is particularly fun to be around. I think I’m pretty forgettable. I feel way too much and that makes me hard to love. But it’s not my fault. This wasn’t a choice. And I am not my disorder.