I have taken a little break from writing my blog recently, a few weeks ago I had what is technically known as an emotional meltdown. It knocked my confidence and I've had to take stock of where I am with my recovery. I thought I’d share with you what happened and what I have learned from it.
I was out for the evening with my boyfriend, we went to see The Ladykillers at the theatre. I was feeling very good to begin with because I remembered that when the tickets were bought back in the Spring I had been extremely depressed and suicidal. I honestly didn't think I would make it through to see the play. I was very happy that I had come a long way from there and those awful dark days seem to be behind me (touch wood).
After the play (which was excellent) we went to the pub for a drink. I had been planning to go away the following weekend to accompany a friend to a wedding. My boyfriend started to ask me about my plans, and as soon as he did I started feeling very anxious. He didn't notice this at first and asked a few more questions. Soon anxiety turned to panic and I started to cry. It is difficult to remember exactly what happens in the mind during an emotional crisis but I will do my best to explain it. I seemed to have some kind of emotional flashback, to when I was very small. As a child my older siblings bullied me badly and I only felt safe with my mum, I was extremely clingy. Scream-the-house-down-if-she-went-upstairs clingy. Suddenly, sat in a busy pub on a Friday night, I felt the exact same sense of panic I felt when I couldn't be with my mum, when I felt so unsafe and vulnerable, when those feelings were so strong that they overwhelmed me and my whole life revolved around trying not to feel that way. To not be separated from my Mum. I could even see my parents in my mind's eye, looking up at them from a child’s point of view trying to get their attention.
I have been aware for a long time that when I got into my teens I transferred that addictive attachment I felt for my mum onto pretty much any boy that showed an interest in me. Feeling wanted emotionally and sexually soothed my intense need to be safe. It eased that terrible emptiness inside. I still have the same attachment issues now although I make wiser choices about who I ‘attach’ to. I have learned to cope with boyfriends going away and leaving me for a little while, but it seems I have not come to terms with voluntarily leaving them. The thought of choosing to leave my beloved when I could be spending time with him sends me into a panic.
The trouble is, on this night the panic didn't end there. It seemed to induce the good old BPD black and white thinking and catastrophising to maximum effect. Suddenly my entire life was pointless, I was only kidding myself that I was recovering, I was a mess. The friendships that I’d started to make on Twitter were just my attempt at gaining the popularity and approval I never got at school. My blog was a nonsense, arrogant nonsense. I had no right to try and help anyone.
By the time all these thoughts had gone through my head my boyfriend had bundled me into a taxi and got me home. I sat and cried like a child on the sofa and then took a sleeping pill and crawled into bed. At some point I also deleted my most recent blog post and would have deleted the whole thing if I could have figured out how to. The next day I couldn't face my new view of the world, everything was completely broken and wrong and I couldn't cope. I took sleeping pills to keep me unconscious all day.
But now I am back to feeling as well as I did before the meltdown, in fact better. After my Saturday in bed I started to think over the dreadful conclusions I had come to that night. I decided that I didn't have to go to the wedding because it was important to take care of myself, although I did feel guilty for letting my friend down. I realised that I am seeking approval on Twitter but that is ok, it is a basic emotional need to feel accepted and valued by others and I have lacked that to a large degree in my life until now. I accepted the fact that I am highly sensitive, and have a damaged inner child who needs care and understanding (as well as boundaries where appropriate). I considered that in order to write a blog that might be useful to others with BPD it has to reflect the whole experience of recovery, it isn't a straight path and there are a lot of obstacles on the way but you have to keep looking forward. This isn't the first time I've stumbled and it won’t be the last, but each time I pick myself up, learn something from it and move on feeling stronger. We can do this!