I turned 26 last month. I don’t think I ever foresaw turning 26. I had a plan for 21. I knew what I wanted to do on my 23rd year. Heck, I even had a roadmap for 25. I sketchily remember a “Before 25” list I’d made when I turned 18. It was all accounted for, in my head. Goals, ambitions, adventures.
Now? I am at sea. I haven’t felt more listless at any point in the quarter life I’ve lived so far. (Also, can we not call this a quarter-life? The average life expectancy is no longer 100)
I’m not ready to come up with a To-Do list for the coming years yet. So, I’ll look back and try to find wisdom. Here’s a spontaneous thought exercise I am willing to do, for a change.
The 25 Lessons I Learnt By 25
(In random order)
I wish I didn’t fall in love like an asteroid – everytime
free-falling with purpose – in the speed of light
blazing through the atmosphere,
headed for collision
against good sense.
But I fall in love like an asteroid
I just spent the last couple hours on the Internet trying to find representations of BPD in art. Not much luck. I did rewatch “Girl, Interrupted” though. It’s literally the only acknowledged representation of Borderline Personality Disorder there is in mainstream media. That’s just disappointing. In the movie, which is actually based on author Susanna Kaysen’s memoir, the psych tells Susanna how not much is known about the disorder. We are about to step into 2020 and there’s still very little known for sure about the “disorder” notwithstanding the fact that it happens to be a rather common mental health diagnosis. A quick search on the Internet and all you’ll find are pejorative articles about how people with BPD are basically the devil’s spawn. The stigma is unimaginable. It’s also very real.
Like I’d mentioned back here, I was given the diagnosis of Cluster B for months (My prescription still says Cluster B) before my psychiatrist finally admitted that I have BPD. I finally went to a new shrink in my current city of residence and he too would not ask me outright if I had BPD. Instead, he went onto recite the diagnostic criterial symptoms from DSM and asked me to identify if I had any. At this point, I interrupted him and told him I had infact been given my BPD diagnosis a couple months back.
No doubt, there is a stigma around BPD patients among mental health practitioners. We are apparently notoriously difficult to treat as well as uncooperative. But if you have to talk about BPD in hushed voices everytime despite being a practising medical professional – you are adding to the stigma. It’s your responsibility to clear the air and lessen this very stigma.
Said psychiatrist who screened me most recently was quite surprised I held a regular job. I’m sorry if I didn’t live up to your expectation of however this disorder is supposed to manifest in a person. Unlike what popular consensus on individuals with BPD holds, I’m in no hurry to murder my ex because our relationship went sour. No, infact I’m quite functional. Admittedly, not good in the romantic relationship department. But I’ve a good number of healthy friendships. I’m very certain of who I am as a person. Infact, I’ve spent years trying to figure out exactly who I am. So no, I’ve a strong sense of identity. It’s not static as I believe identity shouldn’t be. You learn things as you go. You see the world differently and that’s perfectly okay. I definitely don’t feel empty. To the contrary, I’m enough. I’m content. I have cut in the past but I haven’t inflicted any physical self-harm in years now. I’m not suicidal. Reckless? Sure. Suicidal? No. I like life. Having seen death from such close quarters, I’ve never shared romantic notions of death like some of my peers did. I’m not promiscuous. I could go on.
Anyway, so this guy thinks I suffer from depression, like anxiety wasn’t enough. Most of you will think that’s okay as BPD is usually co-morbid with depression and anxiety. Except it’s not. I’ve had periods of grief and yes, depressive episodes too. But usually they’ve been spurred by external factors. I’ve always been more than able to cope with these. I will accept GAD as a separate diagnosis because social anxiety was very much a reality in my late teenage and early twenties. It no longer is but I do get the occasional panic attack. Depression though, not so keen. As somebody “suffering” from BPD, we are very susceptible to mood disorders. But we’re intense. So maybe your sadness is my depression.
For the longest time, I’d just define myself as “fucked up”. I was okay with it. I think I’d like to go back to that. I’m getting rather sick of all of these white-coats slapping me with a new diagnosis everytime I go visit. BPD is basically them saying, “Kid, you need help. There are way too many issues here.” An umbrella term for the fucked up, then. Why not?
It just goes to express my disappointment with the state of mental health care worldwide. If I’m honest, why should I even believe the DSM, right? It recognized homosexuality as a disease until the early 70s. Non-conforming behavior does not have to be a disorder. Maybe I’m just comfortable expressing my emotions. God knows, we are only allowed to express positive emotions in society. Like that isn’t unhealthy! Maybe I rely on my instinct to guide me. Why does impulsivity have to be pathologized?
Anyway, I’ve realized I’ve been focusing on my mental health a little more than I’d like on this blog. The point was to start a conversation about it. Not indulge in erasure. But now it seems to me like I’m fetishizing it and I don’t want to do that. So, I’ll be taking a break from this for a while. Maybe another post. I just needed to get this out. I wish there was more awareness and understanding about BPD in the world instead of this blind stigma. But hey, we’ll reclaim it bit by bit even if no one else will.
Love and Peace.
Everybody’s got monsters they hide under their bed
I just shoved mine, in the basement below
And threw off the key somewhere I wouldn’t find it,
I threw out the key – so I would no longer have to know.
But my monsters are not the kind to keep silent
They kick up a racket come time, to time,
I drown out the noise with a bottle I keep handy
Half a bottle of rum – to drive the noise out of my mind.
I know better now than to have a fistfight with my demons
– Confrontation, can be a lethal thing,
Some habits die harder, than you could anticipate
Just like songbirds grow – accustomed to sing.
Everybody’s got monsters they hide under their bed
I shoved mine in the dark recesses below
Now the iceberg’s melting, faster than I can take a step
The iceberg’s melting – and I have nowhere to go.
Love with such intensity
that love cowers to leave
Pull, at the draw strings,
of the story.. that fate weaves
I’ve learnt how to keep – the poetry alive
So, hurl your darkness at me,
and watch me survive.
“Things outside you are projections of what’s inside you, and what’s inside you is a projection of what’s outside. So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you’re stepping into the labyrinth inside.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
I finally finished this book after struggling with it for nearly 2 + months. Needless to say, it has left me devastated. I’m not very fond of magic realism as a genre or Murakami, the author. But this book really drew me in and spit me out.
To live life like a metaphor. Could there be anything more melancholic than that?