There is another me. I've been distinctly aware of her for years. I don't exactly remember the first time she made her appearance, but I do remember that she has disapproved from that moment.
She scrutinizes all my choices and criticizes every one. She tells me I could do better, do more, do it different, do nothing. And I feel like I'm balancing on stilts, wobbling, as I go about my daily tasks, as I pursue my fleeting goals.
Goals. Oh, they're tough. Tough to establish. Tough to commit to. Commitment seems not to exist for me. It dashes out of sight. I play whack a mole with it. It peeks out, I bring down the mallet, and it ducks away.
She sneers. She likes to see me lose. She tells me sweetly to give up. But I don't want to, because she's not sweet, and I know it's a trick.
So I go doggedly on. Dropping things, parts slipping from my grasp, trying to build a castle with dry sand.
I love my family dearly, sometimes desperately, in terror at their eventual disappearance from my life which seems guaranteed. Then there are friendships. I haven't really figured those out, to this day. They're so challenging to manage. I am distracted. I can't decide when it's right to reach out, when it's right to withdraw. I am bound in place, hands tied, feet glued to the floor, mind reeling.
The people closest to me see things that boggle. One minute, I'm generous, interested in the things they do, the things they say. I try to accommodate however I can. I do favors. I give gifts. I pick all my words with the utmost care, because I don't want to hurt anyone. I want them to feel amazing about themselves. They are so precious to me.
Then the shift. Suddenly, at the slightest provocation, I am an unruly dragon, roaring fire at those who were once my companions and are now my enemies. They're out to get me. They don't appreciate the things I do for them, my presence in their lives. They don't want me around. I shouldn't waste my time. I don't deserve this treatment. I deserve to be punished. I deserve to be valued. I deserve to lose everything.
Alone, alone alone. The wretched, captivating prospect.
It's such a see-saw of emotions. Sometimes it makes me physically ill. The whiplash drains my energy. It feels as if I'm keeping track of so many glowing points on a grid, each one's every movement, all at the same time. I get exhausted before I've even begun my responsibilities, which I've gone over in my head dozen's of times. I overwhelm myself with the process. I map it all out in my mind. This, then that, then that, then I can-- It's demanding, vicious, and futile.
My boyfriend, bless him, puts up with my mood swings, tries to understand and be accepting of my fickle, scatter-brained nature. He reassures me when the pace of everything speeds up to 100 in my head. He helps me pick a starting point. He helps motivate me not to give up. He gives me solutions to simple issues which perplex my over-complicating mentality.
I am so grateful for all the support he has provided me. Without his understanding, and my family's, I'd be such a hopeless wreck.
You may think I'm overstating things, but I can't say it hasn't impeded my progress. The willpower it takes to keep my mind straight and calm each day, even hour to hour, is immense.
There are things I've done over the years to try to cope with this disorder (And, jeez, disorder, chaos, disarray, incongruity, all feel like such apt terms for it).
I've kept journals. These have served me wonderfully. In a journal, I can be completely honest, because I know my thoughts will be kept private. I can let all the nonsensical notions bust out onto the page, the exaggerated emotions, and I can go back and evaluate them. I can see where I was wrong and be better prepared for the next time I'm faced with similar circumstances.
The problem I've had with journals-- mostly in the past, but every once in a while even now --is I'll personify it, treat it like another person, and even convince myself of the reality of this illusion. I've done this as a means to absolve myself, or to feel like I have someone to rely on when I'm otherwise alone.
There was a point when I was younger that this object personification, Synaesthesia, got especially concerning. I was very nearly delusional. On top of it, I dissociated, and sometimes thought I was somewhere other than where I actually was, with different people than I was actually with, having conversations I wasn't actually having. People close to me took to saying, 'Oh, she has a very active imagination." But, really, there were times it probably went beyond that.
More recently, that aspect has improved, but my paranoia has worsened. This shows its worst colors in my inability to hold a job. I flee from structured work. If I have to go to the place, be there at a certain time, and stay there for extended periods, show my face, multitask, I am like a deer in the headlights, irrationally terrified. It brings on awful anxiety attacks. I reason with myself, make deals with myself, with Fate, with the world around me. I try to excessively and uselessly prepare. Even when I'm not at work, I'm obsessing over when I have to go back. I am never relaxed.
It is a freaking nightmare. Oh my gosh.
I link this all back to Borderline Personality Disorder, because that was the official diagnosis made when I finally began seeing a psychiatrist. I don't see her anymore. Though I do still talk to a counselor once a month.
I talk about my experience with these issues because there are more people that deal with it than one would think. And the people who do deal with it should not feel like there is no hope. We can still live. We can still aspire to happiness.
I have painted a pretty bleak picture here. But I've had my blissful moments, when I've managed to dismiss my worries and get things done that I was proud of, or to spend enjoyable time with the people I care for, or to exercise my creativity with satisfying results. It's not all doom and gloom. It's not all empty. It's not all for naught.
When my mime comes laughing her ridicule at me, I'll walk outside sometimes and I'll notice how big the sky is. It will occur to me that I could go anywhere, if I try. And that makes it better and I breathe.