This is my last post for the "Relationships and Mental Illness" blog. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to write about my experience with mental illness for HealthyPlace. As I leave this blog, I'm determined to keep learning about how to love myself and others better. When it comes to writing about relationships, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that I still have a lot to learn.
Mental Illness Impact on Self
Living with mental illness for many years, learning to love myself has been an ongoing challenge. I've read many books on the topic and discussed it with many therapists, but the key to self-love has remained a mystery. Something I didn't take enough notice of, however, was the fact that I've spent years not doing the things I love the most.
For the past few years, I've decided to prioritize my mental health and not visit my family over the holidays. It's a decision not everyone may understand. Aren't the holidays about spending time with your loved ones? I do love my family, but the most loving thing I can do for myself is to take quiet time alone to rest and relax. Time with my parents and sister is often stressful and triggering for me. I've decided that my mental health is more important than anything else.
In August 2021, after watching my performance deteriorate for months, I decided to quit my full-time government job to deal with burnout and take care of my mental health. Living alone in a basement apartment during the pandemic had made my depression and anxiety worse, and I'd been finding my job increasingly stressful. Leaving without another job lined up was risky, but I felt I had no choice. I'd reached my limit.
Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), many aspects of my identity have felt unstable over the years, including my sexuality. I came out as bisexual in 2000 or 2001, but after about a year of dating women, I went on to date cis men almost exclusively. My sexual attraction to women never went away, but the way I feel about it has fluctuated. I had trouble accepting my bisexuality.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I didn't have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD). It saddens me to think about the experiences and accomplishments I may have missed out on due to my ongoing battle with mental illness. While it's impossible to know the life I could have had, it's an interesting thought experiment to look back and imagine how things could have turned out differently. What if I'd led a life without mental illness?
I've been on and off dating apps for many years. I joined a few of them again recently, and I've been struggling to decide how much to share about myself and my mental health, both on my profiles and in the messages I send.
As someone who lives with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I'm engaged in a daily struggle to maintain my sanity. What impacts my sanity the most is the belief that I've said or done something to interfere with other people's sanity. I've learned that the best way to interfere with other people's sanity is to become involved with them in intimate relationships. That way, I can offer them front-row seats to witness my cyclical descent into instability and be swept up into it themselves whenever they try to bring order to my intermittently untameable internal chaos. I don't know how to stay sane, in love, or out of it. When it comes to relationships, all I seem to do is bring my partners into the eye of the storm of a woman who's lost her center and herself.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in my 20s after a pill overdose and a pseudopsychotic episode. After receiving outpatient care for a year, I was told that I no longer met the criteria for BPD. In the years since, I've been living my life with the understanding that I have depression, anxiety, and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This changed in 2022. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Like many people who live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), the relationships in my life have been turbulent: I've been estranged from my family on several occasions, and my friendships rarely last longer than a few years. However, the most dysfunctional relationships I've had have been with my two long-term romantic partners. I don't like how I behaved in either of those relationships, yet I felt helpless to find a way to behave differently. I watched myself become passive-aggressive, demanding, argumentative and possessive. I witnessed the hurt I caused and wrestled with intense shame, despair, and self-loathing. The turmoil I struggled with in my relationship with my first boyfriend was so intense that, after our breakup, I ended up overdosing as a cry for help. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)