*Very long post – I’ve split it up with pictures, so you can read it a bit at a time & remember where you got to, if you prefer*
I thought I might explore my past, and what may have contributed to my development of BPD. Many people with BPD experienced trauma, abuse or neglect as a child – not all, but many… and I have to say that doesn’t ring true for me, not in regards to my family. I had a great upbringing. I don’t remember much of it at all, as I think I’ve blocked the past out. I look at photos of my childhood and have no memories attached to them. I find this really upsetting actually, as I can see photos of me with my grandparents, and I recall nothing of my time with them back then. I have tiny snippets of memories… incredibly vague, and the things I remember from the past tend to be the negative bits, or silly things, like chocolate bars that used to exist when I was a kid, and remembering their taste. But when it comes to meaningful things, it’s like they didn’t happen to me. When I look at photos of my childhood, it’s like I’m looking at someone else’s childhood photos. Despite this though, I just know my childhood was wonderful. I was loved, given everything a child should be given, and was brought up well, with respect. I don’t think I was ever shouted at or anything like that… I just had things explained to me, and I understood right from wrong. We’re a quiet family, always have been… this is what made me stand out like a sore thumb at school…
The bits I remember most from primary school are centred around the isolation. The desperation to not be on my own at playtime. I remember almost begging to tag along with people, so that I wouldn’t be left to my usual fate – standing entirely alone against the wall of the main building… simply watching others play and have fun together. I would stand there, as though I didn’t exist. I think occasionally the dinner ladies used to talk to me at least, though I could be wrong.
My mum worked in the school library at the time, and she’d often be asked why I was so quiet. She’d gently respond to them along the lines of for the same reason you are noisy… it’s just the way I am. Children can be cruel. I was socially excluded simply for being quiet and shy. I was so much quieter and more shy than I am today. I was serious and hard-working. I did what I was told and never got into trouble. I guess some people don’t like people like that. I think throughout my whole school life I was seen as ‘boring’. But how wrong they were. I just saved the best of me for those who cared.
I was bullied in primary school by a girl called Nicola. It sounds petty now we’re older, but at the time it was a massive deal – she took my best friend away from me, and seemed to take great joy in it. She also had her sidekicks with her and threatened to take something of mine, unless I did what she wanted, which was telling her what my private thought was I’d just had – God knows what that was, but anyway this resulted in me running inside to see my mum and a teacher. I don’t recall too many more details, but I know I dreaded going to secondary school with her… and rightly so… she had her little group and they’d always give me looks and whisper about me.
One thing which I believe actually did a lot of damage, were the teachers. Because of their inability to command respect and appropriately deal with troublemakers, they would often punish the whole class. And someone like me – very sensitive, quiet and who never got in trouble, this affected me badly. Teachers don’t think of things like that though. They just want the power, or to make a point. We weren’t in the SAS for goodness sake!! You don’t punish the whole group for the actions of one person, in the hope they’ll learn their lesson – because they rarely did! All it did was make people like me feel frustrated, angry and embarrassed. All the times I had to sit in a classroom after school because of some stupid twat who wouldn’t shut up. It’s not right, and I remember being angry with the teachers at the time. I remember in year 10 or 11, the whole art class were kept for detention, and the people on my table complained to the teacher and said that I shouldn’t be, as I wasn’t involved in all the noise etc. One of the only times people stood up for me.
But this happened in year 5 as well. We were made to go walking around the playground as a punishment. And I think it’s wrong that someone who WAS well brought up, to have respect and know right from wrong, is punished because some parents didn’t do their job properly. That’s utterly unfair and I think it did a fair bit of damage. Teachers need to be so careful with children – they could influence their mental health for a lifetime. I hope things have changed nowadays. I even recall Mrs Bronk – a maths teacher in year 7, as well as Mr Shirley – a geography teacher too, who would suddenly shout louder than you’ve ever heard… and for someone sensitive that is terrifying. I would not be surprised if a great deal of my anxiety stemmed from these experiences. All I will say is God bless Mrs James, the RE teacher – she had such a serene nature, and didn’t have to resort to shouting, and group punishments. People respected her. There were some good teachers. Unfortunately for every good one there were probably about twelve bad ones.
It was one of the teachers in secondary school who caused me to start self-harming. She was the head of year. Funnily enough this was after I’d finished school and was in college. It was to do with the GCSE certificates evenings, and correspondence regarding that. I won’t go into details here, but all I’ll say is I took something sharp to my yearbook on her photo, and then for whatever reason I turned the tool on myself. That was the beginning of a coping strategy I’ll always regret.
In secondary school I experienced more bullying and isolation. I was still quiet and shy.. hard-working… the works…. after all that’s who I was! But this bullying intensified. I was never physically bullied, but then sometimes I think the psychological kind can be more destructive… it eats away at you for years, if not forever.
There was a girl called Lisa who was in my tutor group. In year 8 or 9 she suddenly decided it would be fun to torment me in textiles class, when she had her posse around her. Unfortunately I sat on their table, next to her, and she liked to repeatedly tap me on the head with a ruler throughout the lesson, while her minions giggled at how ‘cool’ their leader was. This doesn’t sound serious, but the effect it had was to demean me… to humiliate me… she knew I’d never say anything or do anything to stop her. If I took the ruler off of her she’d simply start again. The teacher was bloody useless. She never made her stop. One time she was doing it whilst the whole class was gathered around our table… The teacher asked her to stop once, which she did, but she started again, and like the quiet, shy girl I was, I just let her do it. Heck if she did it now I’d snatch it out of her hand and split her head open with it, see how she liked it!! Failing that, if I was there again I would walk out of the class. The teacher would sit up and take notice then. What kills me the most about these memories, is that there were people in that class who I considered ‘friends’, and not ONE of them stood up for me. I was completely alone in my experience. This is a pattern which would continue throughout my life.
Lisa even asked me once ‘Am I bullying you?’ … to which I replied yes, and this pleased her. She would make other comments like calling me ‘spot’… because I was a teenage girl and I had spots – shock horror!! This is so damaging. I still have spots today. It’s a hormonal problem. I have PCOS. This means I have body hair and spots which I’d rather I had neither of. And I feel embarrassed admitting to. But it’s a health problem. My ‘hairiness’ seemed to be a huge deal to people at school – Lisa and her minions would ask in PE why I didn’t shave my legs….. uh, perhaps because I was still a child, and not looking to sleep with boys like they probably were!! It never even entered my mind to shave my legs. I never saw myself as a sex object while I was a child. Perhaps these people had dubious upbringings.
I also had hairy arms… in relation to other girls my age (at least until I met a couple of others!). A boy called Samuel made an unkind comment about this, and after that I started shaving my arms, and would do this for the rest of my days. I physically changed myself because of intolerant idiotic children at school. A group of boys in the year above me gave me the nickname ‘Lily Savage’ – who was a drag act in the UK played by Paul O’Grady (for anyone who doesn’t know)… because I had a little bit of hair on my upper lip – again this was because of underlying hormonal problems. People were so unbelievably cruel to me. I don’t know how I put up with it and survived it. I wouldn’t nowadays.
People would pick on me – a boy in my class called Edward, ruined an art project of mine – he did a lot of bad things and was expelled in the end. A boy in my year stabbed me in the head with a pencil as I walked down some stairs, pretending he hadn’t done anything, but I knew it was him. My tutor group got me to say ‘maths’, followed by ‘apation’, and found it hilarious that I apparently said ‘masturbation’ – what with me being all shy and innocent. People liked to publicly humiliate me. And that’s one of my biggest triggers nowadays. One hint of it and I’m cutting myself. Even teachers at secondary school were problems, and we reported one of them. I’d taken a lot of time and effort to make a poster for a science class, and was proud of it, and the teacher decided to hold them up, mine being the one on top, saying what a load of crap they were basically. She’d swear and shout at us. So a group of us reported her, and so did my parents. She then pulled me out of the class and spoke to me about it, and said I shouldn’t have reported her, I should’ve spoken to her directly. Totally unprofessional.
Another teacher in year 7 cookery publicly humiliated me when I burnt my fingers on a baking tray. Rather than letting me go and run them under water, she grabbed me by the arm and shouted that I was a ‘stupid girl’ – in what world is that okay to do?? I wish I could have it out with her now, but she was quite old at the time… she’s probably not here anymore… I struggle to remember her name at the moment too… wonder if it was Miss Worth… I’ve just broken up from writing this, to talk about it with someone and broke down in tears, as the realisation has come for why I’m so sensitive to perceived public humiliation… things being brought to the attention of others…. it all makes sense now why that is my biggest trigger. I was 11 at the time. It was so detrimental to experience something like that as a child. Teachers have a responsibility to help shape the future of young people… they should not abuse that power and leave broken adults because of their ineptitude.
There are actually so many examples of people, particularly teachers embarrassing me in that sort of way… this was devastating for me. Particularly as I was a reserved person, who didn’t like to be noticed… to then be shown up in front of people was terrible. I wonder if I had this mental illness even back then… can you have BPD as a child? Or was I just sensitive, and the constant bullying, isolation and public humiliation pushed me over the edge? I wish I could get all these people in a room together and tell them the effect their words and actions had on me in my adult life. People don’t think about it at the time, and then they happily move on. Whilst people like me are left to pick up the pieces for the rest of our lives. It’s not fair.
Other school experiences were a girl called Gemma who kept trying to compete with me for a friendship with my best friend. I just didn’t want to be a loner, and wanted to spend time with her, but Gemma was just possessive and bitter. A lot of the time I’d end up hanging out in the library during lunchtimes. It avoided looking like a loser. I actually ended up being a librarian there – helping out the school librarian. She was nice, and this role helped me feel less alone. I even got an award for my services!
And another big issue was the school prom. I didn’t have anyone to go with, so I asked a girl, Zoe, if I could go in the limo with her and her group, as they had one space left… she apparently asked the group, and they decided no. I don’t know if she actually asked them or if she just decided for herself, but I remembered the names of everyone in that limo, for future reference. They were not nice people at all. When I questioned the reasons for them saying no, and asked if it was because they thought I was ‘boring’, she had the bloody cheek to say yes! This was at the end of a science class and I stayed behind crying. This was like public rejection.
But do you know what? I went with a different group of girls, and we had a great time. They found out I wasn’t boring at all. They did the one thing people needed to do in order to see the fun side of me… that they rarely ever did – they gave me a chance. I had a good night and looked gorgeous in my dress (I can say that about back then, as I was a spotty girl who wore glasses, so the transformation was amazing!).
This is the thing… although I was treated badly throughout school, I got awards… I came away with really good grades, including two A’s and two A*s, the rest being B’s…. I passed my piano exams with distinction. Despite these people trying to bring me down emotionally, I excelled at school. I got through it, and did the thing school’s all about – I got an education and qualifications.
It was only after school the effects really started to show.
College was the worst time of my teenage / young adult years. By the end of 2001 I was self-harming… a lot. Although it was quite superficial, it was the frequency that was the problem. I would spend most lunchtimes in the toilets, harming myself and crying. I was depressed. I was stressed and overwhelmed. In a biology class the teacher would go round the room asking us questions… of course I knew the answers to most other questions, but didn’t know the answer to my own… I didn’t get it right, so I felt stupid… again it felt like public humiliation. So in the break I sneaked my ‘tool’ into my pocket, went down the corridor to the toilets and harmed myself, before going back and pretending nothing had happened. It was my way of punishing myself for getting something wrong… which is something I still feel the need to do today.
In a psychology class I got a bad score on a test – in fact I think our results may have been read out (so more humiliation), and I harmed myself under the desk in the classroom. I passed my A Levels, but I didn’t do as well as I would’ve expected for myself. But I was sinking, and nobody knew. It was a year to 18 months before I managed to admit to my family that I was self-harming… I had only told the college counsellor until then. My parents spoke to the college about the fact I was struggling, and had I been happy for my teachers to know, I could’ve had special allowances for exams etc. But I was too ashamed at the time and didn’t accept this. So my results showed my struggle.
A lot of college I don’t remember. It was a bleak time in my life. I still felt isolated, though this was the time I tried changing, and becoming a little ‘louder’, to fit in. At lunchtime I’d sometimes sit with my brother in a quieter place near the music department, or sometimes I would sit with a group of girls in the corridor who I knew from school, but at times they’d just get up and leave without telling me, especially when a boy called Daniel sat with us. He was a newcomer at school who I befriended – he was shy and really quiet – more quiet than me. People judged him a lot, for his voice and his looks, and they picked on him terribly. I feel awful for what he had to put up with. But people also judged me for being friends with him. When he was around, they didn’t want to be around me. So I ended up isolated as a result. There were better times. There was a time I’d hang out with him, and a double act called Si and Ed… we’d sit under the stairs during lunch, and even went for a game of pool in a pub once…. (I may have won….despite being a newbie). I found guys to be better to hang around with at that point, as girls were so bitchy. Boys were far less judgemental, and more accepting of me. I’m grateful to them. I think at one point I was the only girl in my music class…. I honestly didn’t mind though – the guys were so inclusive.
People did pick on me – my brother had to defend me one day on the college bus home. People on my biology trip wouldn’t let me do the job I had to do, and were hassling me on it, so I threw the pen down and said ‘you do it all then’. They looked at me like I’d grown a second nose. I stared out to sea, wishing I could walk in there and drown myself. Back at the B&B I harmed myself. Those girls later treated me to a ‘makeover’, which everyone liked…. but now thinking back on it it’s a little insulting to imply I needed one!! I forget the details, but I know in psychology, the teacher said something to me, again, quite publicly, and it upset me. I sat there crying to myself. Even from a young age there was a pattern, that built upon itself to the point that one day it would be a huge trigger for me. At the ball at the end of college I clearly remember the looks I got from some people. People don’t realise but sometimes ‘looks’ can be as powerful as words. The image is stained on my memory forever.
The seriousness of my self-harm, and my experiences of rejection and abandonment had barely started, that was soon to come. My early experiences with men came a lot later than most people’s… 23 to be precise. I had a male friend, Adam, who I grew to like more than friends. He said he felt the same. He was my first kiss. All seemed good. And the next day he went quiet on me. It was like he switched and regretted it. He ghosted me after that. I chased after him, desperate to know what the hell had happened. But I’d never get an answer from him. I was confused and broken. In the space of a month we’d gone from friends, to admitting our feelings for each other, crossing the line of friendship, to radio silence and him leaving, going up north without so much as a goodbye, and never really speaking to me again. Our friendship was destroyed in one night. I couldn’t understand it. And it was like being shown something wonderful and having it snatched away. I had no example of consistency and predictability in my early experiences with men. It wouldn’t get any better either…
His friend, Evan, supported me through the loss. We swiftly became friends, and then more. Apparently Adam had warned him off of me, but I thought ‘Screw you, you didn’t exactly treat me with respect – you abandoned me – who the hell are you to tell me who I should be with?!‘ … He may have been right though. All was ticking along fine… I felt like I was good ‘girlfriend material’. I was happy, more confident. And then it all crashed down, very early on. He joined the Navy, and had a family tragedy to deal with, and decided the best answer was to break up with me. Of course I didn’t know at the time he was sleeping with some girl at that time – so more likely he had cheated on me, and wanted to be with that girl. But whatever, it was out of the blue and a shit thing to do. And to lie and lead me on for nine months afterwards only made things worse. He gave me hope, saying that you never know what the future holds. I couldn’t let him go. I wanted to be there for him. My self-esteem was dragged down over the months. I was no longer the person I was to begin with. Towards the end I was a mere ego stroke for him. He used me, and when he said he couldn’t give me what I wanted, I told him it wasn’t what I wanted. The next day he was in a relationship with his now wife. He was a scumbag. I was never first choice to him. There was always another woman he wanted to bed. Maybe they were easier than me. A lot of women do open their legs very easily. Not me. And I’m proud of that. Actually I’m glad I never let any of these guys that close to me. They did enough damage as it is.
His friend, Joe, was the next to destroy me. Honestly, I did learn after Joe – I said ‘No more being supported by their friends… the chain ends here’. I learnt to steer clear of that circle. They’re all as bad as each other, and between them they’ve disintegrated my trust in men.
Joe and I had a flirtatious kind of friendship, which initially I rejected, as it felt wrong after Evan… but also because Joe was not available. When he became available, I welcomed it, as it brought a new excitement and confidence into my life. Unfortunately I think I built my self-esteem around him. That was a fatal mistake. Things were good with him to start with. And then something changed. I have no idea what, but I would always get most of the blame. He might occasionally say he got ‘scared’, but most of the time it was too intense, too serious or he didn’t think I was into what he was into, no matter what I said. He was the single biggest destroyer of my self-esteem that I’ve ever known.
He was the king of blowing hot and cold. He would feed me crumbs, and me being the vulnerable, innocent, inexperienced…. doormat kind of woman at the time, I lapped them up. I came to believe I was only worthy of crumbs. I felt crumbs were better than nothing. But now I know that nothing is better… and I will wait for a whole loaf thank you. I don’t need crumbs.
Throughout our six years of communicating with each other, and occasionally meeting up, we would fall out of touch, for weeks / months at a time. Or rather, he would stop talking to me. I would say something, think I’d messed it up, and scramble to fix it with another message. I didn’t want to lose him. I totally degraded myself to try and avoid him abandoning me. I kept running back to him. And he loved it. It was all part of a game to him. I can see that now. I refused to at the time. I wanted to see only the best in him. I had fallen deeply for him, and I had a good heart and had faith in him. But I clearly had more belief in him than I did in myself.
Every time he ignored me for months, I broke a little more. He made me feel I was worthless. He made me feel men only want sex. He made me think I wasn’t good enough for anyone. So much so, that when a male friend liked me I didn’t recognise it… or I did, but denied it, as why would such a nice guy want me? I missed out on him as a result. A friend ended up with him, and I lost them both as friends – that was the final thing that pushed my life down a never-ending hole.
But Joe was the single biggest waste of my time – it might sound harsh but it’s true. Because nothing came of that time. All it did was obliterate my confidence, self-esteem and faith in men. Okay, I may have learnt some valuable lessons in that time – namely not to bother with guys like that, but other than that all it did was make me feel used and invisible. He taught me to expect abandonment, and being ignored. It was routine with him. He made me hate myself. He made me feel I was ugly in the end, and don’t deserve to get my needs met. That I’m just here to serve men… fulfil their needs. He messed me up.
But I can say it’s been more than 18 months since I last contacted him. I’ve moved on. I feel nothing for him now. I haven’t recovered from how he made me feel about myself and about men. I don’t know how I’ll recover from that. But I finally learnt the lesson and got over him… something I never thought possible.
Ever since though, I have closed off to men. Even if someone showed interest in me, I wouldn’t allow it. I also no longer chase anyone. If I even feel a hint of rejection or abandonment, including from friends, I internalise it all. I push everyone away because of it. I shut down. I stop talking to people. It’s like I resign myself to being abandoned by everyone. And their lack of protest / effort to prove otherwise, confirms my belief that nobody cares enough to stay.
Some of my issues stem from past friends too. One of them, Hannah, turned on me for reasons I still don’t understand. I think she had her own issues and took them out on me. She projected her own flaws on to me. She smeared me to my other friends, and online. She’d remove and block me, over and over. She’d have hissy fits whenever I tried to help sort out travel arrangements. She said I make life very difficult for myself by letting things get to me. She shut me down whenever I needed to discuss an issue with her, as she’d ‘forgotten all about it’. She told me the psychological help I was getting wasn’t enough. She accused me of things I most certainly didn’t do. She referred to me as ‘toxic’ to her Facebook friends, which I happened to see when she re-added me one time. She couldn’t understand my mental illness, and chose to judge me as ‘negative’ instead, and chose to see my request for her to stop hurting me, as ‘criticising her as a friend’. Despite my efforts to mend things, even when she was the one in the wrong, she decided she didn’t want a friend like me in her life… she told me so… through my best friend. She was gutless. She wouldn’t even have a conversation with me herself. She always had to bad-mouth me through other friends. She did that in our group as well – that’s what started the demise of our friendship. Instead of talking to me privately, she messaged everyone about an issue, and then when I got upset about it, she acted like the victim. And nobody defended me. This obviously tapped into memories of the textiles class where I was being bullied and my ‘friends’ didn’t stand up for me. Even messaging a group of my friends and bringing up an issue with me, had the feeling of ‘public humiliation’ for me. So it triggered me. It was yet another example of someone behaving in an insensitive way. Nobody needs to put down someone, with an audience like that. It made it awkward for me to be in the group. So I bowed out. And they all carried on as if I wasn’t even hurt. I felt neglected and abandoned. And that only got worse when two of them got together.
The guy friend I mentioned before – Sam… the ‘nice’ one, and a friend I made through therapy – Gill. That’s a whole story of its own, but in a nutshell she stabbed me in the back. She pissed all over the girl code and broke my heart, taking everything I had with her. I couldn’t forgive her for it. I couldn’t stick around and see the two of them together, not after she ruined my life. So I cut them out. I had to, to protect myself. I told Sam why that was, and that I appreciated his friendship and would miss him, and he said nothing of the sort in return. He didn’t make me feel he ever valued our friendship at all. He just waffled on about how wonderful his new girlfriend was… how she didn’t betray me (invalidating my experience – not good for BPD) …how perfect she was – forgetting the fact she had just royally screwed me over. He showed no sensitivity for my feelings – the fact I’d just lost everything and was hurting. He proved to me he wasn’t as ‘nice’ as he first appeared, so I probably dodged a bullet there anyway.
But the whole thing taught me that even my friends can’t be trusted. Even my friends don’t care about me, and will abandon me. So now I have issues with friendship. Hannah and Gill doing what they did, was out of the blue and felt surreal, as these things don’t happen to me. I never even used to have friends. And I saw myself as a good friend to them both. I couldn’t understand why they hurt me in those ways. But now… my views of friendship are ruined. And I have ongoing troubles with current friends, and the sense of where I fit in, in their lives. The slightest thing can happen, and I shut down and feel they all hate me. And none of them reassure me otherwise, so it must be a fact. I’ve become a person I don’t recognise and I don’t like. And I now feel I am the problem. In the past I was not the problem, at all. But now I am. Now I’m the common denominator in friendship problems. Friends I made through music interests don’t talk to me anymore. Friends I made through therapy don’t talk to me anymore. Pretty much nobody talks to me anymore. And it’s my fault. It’s because of my mental illness. It’s alienating me from everyone. So I’ve given up on friendship as well as men. My world is getting rapidly smaller.
I’ve learnt from my friends that I can’t talk about issues with them. They will get defensive and make me feel guilty for being upset. So I have to internalise any emotions I have. I have to stew on things that happen that upset me. I’ve been conditioned to avoid ‘confrontation’ – I don’t like it anyway, and it always takes me every ounce of courage to discuss a problem with a friend. But now I don’t feel I have that option. So I withdraw from them instead.
So it’s not just childhood experiences that mould us into the shape of our relevant mental illness… even experiences in adulthood can play their part.
When I think about this claim that people with BPD typically experienced trauma, abuse or neglect as a child, I now see it did happen to me, just not in the expected way. I wasn’t abused. I wasn’t neglected. Not at home. And the trauma I endured was prolonged, psychological – in the form of bullying, social exclusion and teachers not being sensitive to individuality.
I was a very sensitive child. I was ‘different’. As was my brother. We may not have been the only quiet, shy and sensitive children at school at that time, and before, but judging by the reaction of the school, you’d think we were the first they’d seen! A psychiatrist had to actually tell them that there’s nothing wrong with us, we’re just different, and they cannot and should not try to change us.
I don’t know how much has changed in education now, but back then different needs were hardly catered for. My brother was treated differently at primary school, to try and make life easier for him… this included going to a different area during lunch, with a couple of people, instead of being out in the playground with everyone. I wish I could have had this sort of intervention. It might have saved me from spending lunchtimes stood by the wall, totally alone. This is the neglect I had in childhood – social isolation. I don’t remember it thankfully, but contemplating it I can well imagine how soul-destroying it would have been, even at such a young age.
I think schools could do with bringing the quiet ones together… having classes for those who want to get on, without disruption and without teachers shouting every ten minutes – this really was traumatic for someone like me… always on edge, waiting for the deafening voice when the class got too noisy. No wonder I ended up with anxiety, living in a constant state of dread. This might not sound like ‘trauma’ to some people – and you may think I’m a fraud… believe me I often feel like it too. But I know who I am, who I was, and that I found school and college traumatic… and my guess is that’s why I don’t remember much about those years of my life. I’ve blocked it out.
I just wonder what sort of person I’d be now, if those in my classes had been more tolerant of my differences, and actually included me. Even at that young age it seems nobody wanted to be lumbered with me. I had to ask to tag along. No kid should have to do that. It shows that even at that age I felt like a burden… something I’ve carried with me right up until this day.
It has always felt like nobody wants me around. Nobody accepts or likes me. I’m virtually invisible. This isn’t a new thing. This stems back to my earliest childhood. So I want everyone in my life now, to understand my low self-esteem, my lack of self-belief, my insecurities about friendships are coming from some of my earliest memories, as well as more recent ones.
I feel I can’t recover from my mental illness, because my mind isn’t the problem. Life is. People are. And no matter what I try to do, people don’t change. My visibility and importance doesn’t change. I don’t believe anyone will ever truly WANT me in their life. I don’t believe they will stay. I don’t believe I matter. I don’t believe people care. I don’t believe I have the power to have a different and better life – because I’ve tried, and I always get the same results that I had at primary school. When I’m faced with rejection, abandonment, being ignored… it’s never just about that incident… it’s the deepest pain you could imagine… it’s a scar that goes all the way back to when I was seven /eight years old… and every reminder of that since. And I feel every time I get the same feelings, it adds another layer of trauma. And now I have got to the point I can no longer tolerate any more trauma. That’s why I’ve withdrawn from everyone. I can’t take it anymore. And I can’t take people not understanding this concept, and my friends choosing to stay quiet rather than ease my suffering, and reassure me. They’re leaving me feeling like I did at school. So I’m done.
I believe I will always be last choice. I believe I’m a burden. I believe I’m worthless, boring, ugly, and a freak. I believe I will never fit in to society. I didn’t as a child, and having missed a chunk of my life because of mental illness, I’m behind people my age, so I feel even more that I cannot and will not fit in. I will never catch up. And I’ll always be seen as a loser. People probably view me as negative. I’ve been called it once before. Is it any wonder though? I know some people face adversity and they bounce back, but I’m not that person. As I said, I’ve always been a quiet, reserved, sensitive person. Life hurts me more than it would hurt others. And I’ve had more than my fair share. It’s been relentless.
So to that person who called me negative: you try going through everything I’ve written above, be left with severe mental health problems as a result, and tell me you would still be positive. If your answer is ‘yes I would’, then clearly you’re not a sensitive person. But for someone like me to have gone through that, and to still be going through it in some ways… I’m sorry I can’t be positive right now. My life feels broken. And I cannot fix it, because it would mean fixing and resolving my past. That can never be done. And the only other thing that could make me better, is if people started to treat me better. And I have no control over that. This is more than just an illness messing with my mind, this is people neglecting me, ignoring me, hurting me. Until people can stop making me relive my past… until they step up and provide me with what I didn’t have in my childhood from others… until people learn to be more sensitive to sensitive people, rather than expecting us to change our fundamental personalities, so that they can continue being blunt and rude… I won’t be able to live in this world. There’s no place for me.
I am still that little girl who stood by the wall, alone… I am still the girl who was bullied in front of the whole class and teacher, and wasn’t defended by anyone… she’s still stood by that wall, waiting for someone to WANT to be her friend, not just when they have no other option, but because they want to include her. She’s stood there, crying inside. Her heart is broken. She thinks this is her lot in life. She thinks nobody cares, and she’s just there to be used and to be made fun of. I can see her clearly when I close my eyes, stood there. It’s heart-breaking to see. It must have been so awful to feel. Because she did nothing to deserve it. The reason she was socially outcast was because she was quiet and shy. She wasn’t nasty. She wasn’t strange – only in the sense that most children were noisy and didn’t behave, so she seemed alien to them. But she was a nice girl, and sweet… how could people have treated her so appallingly? She couldn’t have been able to understand WHY people didn’t like her…. the reason they didn’t was because of her personality… who she was… they wanted her to change. They’d often tell her to smile. All her school reports commented on how quiet she was, as if that made a difference to her academic ability! School reports should be about how well someone is doing at a subject, not criticism of their personality!
I can’t help who I am. And no matter who I try to be, on the inside I am that girl… alone, dejected, hopeless, broken. That’s not something I can let go of… not without a lot of help. So I ask that those in my life bear in mind that when you’re dealing with me, you’re also dealing with her. Please be more gentle and considerate. Please don’t exclude me like those nasty children did. It’s what I expect you to do – to ignore me, abandon me, leave me out of things… so I won’t be surprised when you do it. But I’ll never get better if people continue to neglect me.
This has been a really long post. But it was necessary, because it’s all been in my head. It’s so complex to explain to anyone, why I’m this way. There’s not a simple answer. It’s just been a gradual build-up over my life, and I feel traumatised by all of it. Until I started writing it out, I didn’t realise I’d gone through so much at school. And this isn’t even all of it.
Some people sail through their school life, never getting bullied. You’re the lucky ones. And if you were the bullies, then shame on you. I’m sure the people who picked on me are wiser now, and would feel bad to know the effect they’ve had on my life. But that does nothing to make me feel better. All it does is make me angry, that I have a life sentence because of these bullies, and they’re able to move on with their lives as if it never happened. Knowing they’re wiser and perhaps kinder now, makes me feel worse. If they apologised for what they did to me, it might go some way to helping, but knowing that they’re ‘better people’ now, after having destroyed my life… I feel nothing. They learnt their lessons too late for me. The damage was done.
I want to do some work on anti-bullying campaigning. I don’t want decent young people to ever experience what I did, and to end up as ill as I am as a result. I want kids to understand the devastating effect of bullying and isolation on mental health. Because at that age they don’t think anything of it. They don’t think of consequences. And they should be made to. These are people’s lives they’re destroying.
For anyone who would say I’m just a perpetual ‘victim’, or wallowing in self-pity, I’ll pray for you to one day understand and have compassion for things you know nothing about. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to be ‘different’. I didn’t choose to be picked on and bullied for being a quiet, shy girl. I didn’t ask to be socially excluded. I didn’t choose to be lonely. I didn’t choose to be hurt by men. I didn’t ask to be sensitive by nature. I didn’t ask to be robbed of most of my good memories, and only remember the traumatic ones. I didn’t choose my mental illness. I am stuck in a loop. Only, I see life as the loop. I keep seeing repetitions of traumatic events from my school days in my adult life… each time adding to the trauma, never letting me recover from damaging beliefs. I can’t challenge my beliefs anymore, because life reminds me daily that they are correct. People asking me to try and view things differently, with hope, need to realise that there is none for me. That died a long time ago. You’re asking me to picture an existence I’ve never known. It’s impossible. There’s no point hoping for it either, as it will never materialise. People are the complication to that idea. People never treat me how I wish they would. They’re all distant. They all get fed up and leave me. And there’s no way I can get them to treat me how I wish they would. But until they do, I will continue to have these beliefs. There’s nothing I can do. I feel utterly powerless.
I feel like the eight year old girl, standing by the side of the playground, watching everyone else get on with their lives, and I’m stood there wondering why nobody likes me. There must be something wrong with me. And the answer is ‘my personality’. They didn’t like it when I was at school, and they don’t like it now. Difference is at school it was my personality. Now it’s my mental illness they can’t stand… just so happens to have the label ‘personality’ disorder attached to it… (NB: I do know that BPD is nothing to do with my personality, it’s more of an emotion disorder – just ironic it implies there’s something wrong with my personality, when that’s how schoolkids made me feel!).
BPD causes the deepest sense of loneliness, more intense than unaffected people could even imagine. It’s a loneliness you feel in your bones, your gut, and every cell in your body. It’s a loneliness that doesn’t go away by being with people. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you they care, or how much you feel heard by them, you still feel lonely. You feel they don’t understand you… they couldn’t possibly understand you, unless they also experience such intense emotions and isolation. And even then they can’t possibly comprehend the trauma you’ve faced throughout your whole life. It’s the most horrendous experience, after a life of loneliness brought about by people excluding me, to feel a loneliness in my soul, that no amount of company can quell. Validation goes some way to helping, but even then after those moments of validation pass, I still go back to feeling alone.
There’s almost a sense of paranoia too, especially at the moment. It’s hyper-vigilance… keeping a lookout for any threat of abandonment. It’s one of the reasons I’ve closed my Facebook account right now. I can’t face the constant feeling like I’m either bothering people, or I’m invisible – like they’re all distancing themselves from me. It’s agonising. It’s too many reminders of the past, and too much trauma. Even if it’s only in my imagination, it’s swirling out of control and nobody seems to want to stop it for me. Friends should care. I guess I thought more of them than they did of me. I guess I was a mere acquaintance to them. The trouble with Facebook, is that most people have hundreds of ‘friends’, so I will always be lost in a sea of statuses, photos, videos etc… whereas I only have people on there who I want to talk with. So it’s easier for me to see their news (although Facebook does seem to hide some friends from me!)… I can keep up to date with them easier than they can with me. I’m sure some have unfollowed me, which is fine, I’ve done that too. But I do look at friends who have ‘new posts’ to check I haven’t missed anything. Simple truth is I probably don’t matter that much to most of them. And it’s about coming to accept that.
If I can accept that Facebook is a fake world, giving a false impression of not being alone, then the reality that I am alone won’t hurt as much. It’s just that feeling like I’ve gone from having all these great new friends, to being Lil-no-mates again, is upsetting. I just have to go back to my humble existence. There was a time, after college when I didn’t really have friends. For a few years I just had the one. I did it once, I can do it again. It is upsetting though.
I am aware that I have to take responsibility for where I am. I would have people say to me ‘Stop blaming everyone else for where you are in life, and do something about it’. They’re right of course. I am the one who has to make the right choices now, in order to move forward. But right at this moment I feel too weak to do so. I feel too depressed and need to take some time for me. I know that if I don’t push myself forward I’ll only have myself to blame, but right now I want to blame those from my past. I’ve only just explored my past to try and understand the link to where I’ve ended up. And I’m angry about it. I’m allowed to be angry about it. I’m allowed to sit and wonder how different my life would have been, if fewer people had been arseholes to me. I’m allowed to be bitter towards those people. When I’m done with all that, I’ll push past it. But for now, this is where I’m at. And I do blame all those people as a whole for screwing me up mentally.
People experience all sorts of trauma in their childhood, that they’ll never recover from… people they can never forgive… violations of their rights. I don’t claim to have experienced anything near what some people have, or still do… but everyone has a past. We all have memories and a childhood. No matter how good my home life may have been, I’ll never know, as I’ve blocked it all out thanks to my experiences at school. Those experiences changed me forever, and I will never be able to forget the psychological harm inflicted on me for more than ten years of my youth.
I cannot let go of anything in my life, probably because I haven’t let go of my childhood trauma. So everything gets heaped on top of that, and this means more to ‘get over’. I can’t let go of the pain my friends caused me. I can’t let go of negative beliefs about myself. I can’t let go of people I grow romantically attached to. I can’t let go of grudges. I can’t let go of loved ones. I can’t let go of ‘my childhood’, in the sense of ‘growing up’ – I want to be protected from this awful world. I can’t let go of anger, sadness, fear or jealousy. I can’t let go of control.
This inability to relinquish control keeps me trapped within myself. I have to feel in control at all times. I have to be in charge of myself and my emotions / behaviour. I can’t show how I truly feel because I fear the potential consequences. So I have to keep control. Perhaps this rigid control of myself prevents me from letting go in other aspects of my life too. But I don’t feel safe ‘letting go’. So apologies I can’t get over my past right now. Until I get the right sort of support this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
I’m doing the best I can to keep on living life, with a heavy and broken heart, and a mind that wants to run away from it all. I know it’s not good enough for some, and I know I’ve not made the best choices along the way. My isolation at the moment is self-preservation. I have to protect myself. And I needed a break from all the paranoia and feeling invisible. Better I’m really invisible and in control of why nobody’s talking to me – because I’ve come off of Facebook. That’s a feeling of isolation I can cope with better… not brilliantly, because I know that none of them have probably even noticed I’m gone. That’s how irrelevant I got to feeling. But at least there’s a reason they appear not to care now – because I’ve made it so.
I’m just tired of this existence, where the past, the present and the future are bleak and lonely. I had it said to me by one of the therapists recently, that people often want them to come in, wave a magic wand and take the pain away, but that’s not how it works unfortunately. He was right. It’s what I want. It’s what I need. I can’t do this on my own. It’s like I’m a toddler in a shop, and I’ve defiantly sat down in the aisle, refusing to go on any further. Life has ground to a halt, and I can’t go on any further. I’ve reached my limit.