I NEED HELP.
That is perhaps the shortest phrase on the planet that strikes fear in me and is nearly impossible for me to utter. Why? It is because to me, that is the ultimate admission that I am not in complete control of all things at all time (a delusion I revel in). It is an admission that I am vulnerable, that I have feelings; that my mind operates at a diminished level that I am not comfortable with. It’s an admission that I have failed to live up to the ridiculously high standard that I like to hold myself up to. Honestly, I’d rather spend 50 minutes getting paper cuts and rinsing them with lemon juice than sitting in a therapist’s office asking for help. Why? Because acute physical pain is easier for me to deal with than emotional pain. There’s a beginning and a foreseeable end to the physical pain. The emotional? Not so much. In fact, yesterday, I was thinking about going the paper cut route, but then the news broke about Robin Williams’ death. A larger than life icon with unlimited resources felt that suicide was the only option. He is now a statistic. A statistic I don’t want to be a part of.
Shortly after clicking “publish” on my blog post last week, I received a message from a friend asking me if I had ever heard of Borderline Personality Disorder; that my recent behavior seemed like textbook symptoms. Shit. I had forgotten all about that. I was screwed. Big time. You see, I have spent so much time focusing on my recover from various addictions over the past 14 years that I forgot about the mental illness in me that rears its ugly head from time to time. Mental illness is an insidious little bitch that will lie to you and tell you you don’t have it. It is a lot like addiction in that respect and while proclaiming that I am a recovering alcoholic is easy for me to do, admitting I have an underlying mental issue is not. The stigma surrounding mental illness is still so much greater than it is surrounding alcoholism.
I NEED HELP.
The life of a Borderline is chaotic, at best. Here’s the clinical criteria of what we’re dealing with:
Borderline personality disorder affects how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave.
Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use
- Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, but sometimes feeling unable to change it
- Wide mood swings
- Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
- Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights
- Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
- Suicidal behavior
- Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless
- Fear of being alone
- Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing
When you have borderline personality disorder, you often have an insecure sense of who you are. Your self-image, self-identity or sense of self often rapidly changes. You may view yourself as evil or bad, and sometimes you may feel as if you don't exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.
Your relationships are usually in turmoil. You may idealize someone one moment and then abruptly and dramatically shift to fury and hate over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because people with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty accepting gray areas — things seem to be either black or white.
If you identify with those characteristics, don’t panic. As with everything in life, there are different degrees of everything. It is to the DEGREE (length & severity) that these symptoms interfere with your life that points to whether or not you may have a problem. I’ve had many years where the symptoms were so mild, I could chalk it up to being part of my alcoholism. Spending countless hours in recovery meetings kept everything at bay and mostly under control. So much so, that I believed it was a non-issue and hadn’t been for over a decade. It took a fresh pair of eyes from a blog reader to alert me of the re-emergence of this particular problem. I did not see it. I could not have seen it without someone helping me.
I NEED HELP
When you’re presented with a problem, there is usually a couple of options. You can ignore it and see if it goes away (which it rarely does), you can try to solve the problem on your own (which in this case, you can’t because a sick brain cannot fix its sick self), you can do nothing and let it get worse, or you can do something about it. You can ask for help. *GASP* So that’s what I did. I asked for help. After a dozen phone calls to the insurance company and different providers, I finally found someone willing to accept my insurance and take me on as a client. Then I told people about my decision and when my appointment was so I couldn’t rationalize my way back out of the decision by thinking I was over-reacting to the problem and that I didn’t REALLY need help after all. For as hard as making the decision was, taking the action of GOING to the appointment was infinitely harder. But I went. I didn’t even throw up until AFTER the appointment was over! Instead of resigning myself to a life of pain (metaphorical paper cuts), I was told that I deserve better (I’ll believe that someday) and went to someone who hopefully knows not only how to slap a band-aid on it, but deal with the root cause of the problem.
I ASKED FOR HELP.
It was painful and scary, but not as scary as looking at the future with little-to-no hope of it getting better any time soon.
I ASKED FOR HELP and YOU CAN TOO.
It might be scary and it might hurt like hell to do it, but you CAN do it. Like they say in recovery, “Try our way and do the things that those of us who have been successful do. If it doesn’t work, we’ll gladly refund your misery.”