I’m still planning to update the site this year – that’s not canceled! But today I’m posting because I could use some help.
I believe in the idea of being what you want to see in the world. As someone with BPD, I always strive to keep my mood north of the equator, because when I’m happy I’m most productive, most helpful to others, most creative. Everyday doses of anger, fear, and sadness can all too easily get multiplied by the mechanics of my brain until they incapacitate me. But positive emotions can also multiply and have powerful effects, which is why I chase them any way I can.
When, starting in 2016, I discovered that nearly every social media account out there seemed designed to push others’ moods southward, I decided to devote my social media presence to doing the opposite. For the past few years, I’ve been trying with all my might to help people balance their view of the universe, remember the little things that make suffering through hardships worthwhile. And for the most part, giving this small service, in and of itself, is enough to help keep me balanced. But today, I need your help.
There are times when being a “public face” of BPD simply becomes too much for me to bear. Every time I slip, say something “off,” or admit that I’ve hit a limitation, I feel not only a sense of having disgraced and discredited myself, but I feel I’ve thrown all my friends, readers, and even complete strangers with BPD under the bus. My job is supposed to be to teach others not to be afraid of BPD. I’m supposed to be demonstrating that with treatment, people with BPD can be good friends, good co-workers, good partners, good parents.
So when I fail publicly at any of those jobs, I feel a deep-rooted certainty that all my years of struggling upstream against the current of confirmation bias has been for naught. That I’ve become one more example to my friends, colleagues, and family of why You Just Can’t Trust Someone With BPD. Why it’s better just to avoid them, not hire them, not date them, not be friends with them.
I’ve just had to “out” myself to some colleagues, in a sense–admit that the stress load of a job was triggering symptoms–and it immediately sent me catapulting into a pretty bad spell. I tried for a long time to “pass” in this particular context but I can’t anymore. It’s not as though my BPD is a secret; it’s part of my “brand.” But for the most part, if I don’t show symptoms, people choose to adopt a sort of denial about it, because the reputation of BPD is so toxic that they can’t reconcile their positive feelings toward me. They subconsciously decide that I must not really have BPD, or maybe I used to and now I’m cured. And when I demonstrate otherwise, it’s always a shock.
I’m really struggling today. It hurts to admit to people that I’m struggling when I try to be a source of hope, but I need you to understand why I’m asking for help in such a bizarre and “showy” way. Here is the problem: since I outed myself, I’ve found that I’m terrified to make contact with those I outed myself to, which means I can’t get work done. It’s completely irrational, and at the moment completely uncontrollable. I think the reason the reins have slipped from my hands for the moment is that the confession has triggered way too much related baggage.
The last job at which I admitted I had BPD, it wasn’t even because I was having problems. I simply confided to a manager, who I’d thought was a friend. She’d never even heard of it; I explained it as best I could. But I assured her it wouldn’t be an issue. I was never even late to that job. I did it absolutely to specifications, and I didn’t let my bad moods interfere, because I cared about the work. Still, a few weeks later, when my performance review came around, for mysterious reasons they’d decided I wasn’t working out in the position. They never told me why. I didn’t need to ask.
Between that and all the posts about Clarion lately (another place where I confided in people about my disorder and it didn’t go well), I’m stuck in a loop of savage self-recrimination, and so I need outside help to break my circular thoughts. So unless you’re someone I’ve ever, even once, told that your adulation makes me uncomfortable because it feels like idealization — if you’re not one of those people and you’re still reading this, I could use your encouragement.
Again I have to reiterate the caveat, because lately there’s been a very strange spell of people doing the exact opposite of what I instruct via text:
If I have ever–even once–warned you that you seemed to be idealizing me, yours is not the voice I need to hear right now. When I’m dysphoric, I trust people less than ever, and I am always wary of those who tend toward idealization. I can’t believe what they tell me, because I don’t believe they see me clearly.
On the other hand, if you have never received such a warning from me, and you have a moment, your reassurance could be very helpful to me. Our budget doesn’t allow for therapy right now and I’m mostly doing okay without it, but this is one of those days when I really wish I still had a therapist. I’m going to have to make do by putting the problem out there, crowdsourcing advice and reassurance. I need to feel better, and I can’t just wait and hope; I need to feel better immediately.
I much prefer to offer help than to ask for it. Helping others makes me feel strong, valuable. I hate looking weak when I’m supposed to be the example proving that people with BPD can be counted on. But I don’t have a lot of time to struggle through this on my own, and I know from experience that one well-chosen phrase or two can sometimes turn everything around for me. So if you have anything to say, please — now is the time to say it.