We all have limits, whether imposed on us by ourselves or others. In the year 2020, I had several critical things that I could not cope with, no matter what. Things that made me fall into panic and Borderline episodes of rage and mania, fear and defense. This post will give you a glimpse at what life was like for Mrs. Maria Vana during that time.
Getting overwhelmed by everything
One of the biggest things in my life as someone living with BPD is my trait of getting very easily overwhelmed. On days that start with the whole world bearing down on me, I can feel crushed by the simplest of things: One day I woke up and went into an immediate anxiety cycle because I realized I have dishes, laundry folding, and cooking to do. I got so overwhelmed that I froze and couldn’t get up, it all just seemed impossible.
These trivial, everyday things for most people, are high hurdles for me when I’m not feeling well. I still have days when I look at the apartment and want to burst into tears, only because I have some vacuuming to do. It may only take 5 minutes of my time, but for me, that can feel like a lifetime of dragging my lead-covered body all over the place, trying to breathe when there is no oxygen, and see when I’m dissociating.
After a while of this struggle, the household routines became salvation instead of hell. I became getting used to the regime and have evolved to the point where I will do the dishes no matter what because it calms me down and I know the feeling of gratitude when the sink is clean.
What goes hand in hand with getting overwhelmed is my tendency to skip on trips outside the house. I’m already a hermit, by all means, I enjoy time alone and I find outings exhausting. All the meaningless chitter and pretentious chatter is not for me. I’ve rarely had any real conversations outside of my house. With my disorder, however, this gets amplified to the max.
Visits to the store, running errands, everything makes me anxious. I don’t like to do them alone, as I don’t want to be in a situation where I get panicky by myself. This has been getting better though, more in the realm of not getting so anxious over everything. These days I mostly get dissociative when people that are trying to sell something impose themselves on me without my consent. I get scared because I’ve been taught (with an emotionally abusive stick) that telling people ‘no’ is not acceptable. I am lucky to have a husband who doesn’t give a damn and repels those people!
One of the most taxing trips I had to have (yet simultaneously it was one of the most exciting ones) was the journey to the capital to get interrogated about our marriage. An hour-long train ride to the place, waiting in the sterile colored hall, and finally being summoned and separated from my husband to be questioned for a few hours on whether our relationship is real or not. After I came out of that, I think every married couple should go through it. Nothing quite like cross interrogation to figure out if your union is legit in the eyes of the state! (Psst! Everything went fine, my husband got his residency and we were allowed to keep living our lives.)
When it comes to things of state, I’ve been tossed around and ridiculed so many times that I’ve lost all faith in the country and its systems. Not only do most of them not know English, which makes life hard for us, they are also relying on outdated, wrongly used, and unprofessional indoctrinations. The tax office allowed someone to claim they had given me a gift worth 30,000 euros (10 years ago) without providing any proof of it, leaving me to pay 7,000 euros as taxes for a gift I never got! Now I have to bloody fight them like I’m the offender here.
Needless to say, things like that stress me out. And when a borderline gets stressed out, they get dark. So I gave up on some of the things I couldn’t handle, such as the government monetary aid for unemployment. The bureaucracy and pompousness of these people are intolerable and toxic, and not good for anyone. Once again, I am lucky to have a husband that can provide us the financial security we need, with or without the government’s money. I am fortunate to be able to prioritize my mental health. For many others, this is not the case.
One faction of the infamous System I do keep battling with – healthcare. It is incredibly difficult for me, considering I get down and mistrusting easily, to keep trying to get help for myself. Too many times I have not been taken seriously in the face of my disorder, even when I’ve had people with me in the nurse’s office to back me up. This, along with the ‘professionals’ not being very cooperative when my husband asks very relevant questions about how to cope and help me as my husband, leaves me with a sense of mistrust towards healthcare. Yet I must keep trying, for the sake of myself and my husband.
Loud noises and frustration
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that life with someone with this disorder can get extremely difficult to deal with on occasion. The emotional switches, triggers that nobody knows what they are, and the constant walking in the realm of verbal beatings and emotional abuse that can happen in our bad moments. I get it, I would get ticked off too!
I have not been able to learn what healthy communication is like, and so while I scream, being screamed at is terrifying. While I break something, someone else doing that is utterly devastating. While I try to beat my opponent shitless in my rage, someone doing that to me will likely make me jump out the window. You see, anger, shouting, all of that stuff when happening near me sends me into fight or flight.
What I find baffling, and what my husband keeps pointing out to me, is that I am able to dish out monstrous things to others, but am unable to take what I dish out. I think this is how it goes for a lot of people, disordered or not. All the bullies of the world, get bullied and see how you like it, I bet it’s not going to be a fun experience for you!
I’ve become so hypersensitive to the signs of my husband’s unhappiness that I get triggered by him being silent in a certain way. His silence means my destruction. His frowning means my end. Him speaking his mind means I’m going to be tossed out for misbehaving. This is my perception, what I’ve been taught in my life. Yet, it is not true. Maybe if I learned to not flip out one way or another every time there is a minor disagreement, life would be more tolerable for both of us.
I don’t want to go back there!
On the subject of flip-outs, I can say it is not a very amusing thing when it happens to me. Some of these moments include PTSD-like moments of being pulled back into very dark places and times in my life, and others leave me to wonder whether the world around me is real, to begin with.
It’s not a very pleasant thing to wake up from vivid nightmares that touch your cracked core with how brutal and terrifying they are. For ages, I had dreams of my husband and I being separated, and me being tossed back into my old life. Somewhere within the dream I always broke the spell and went into panic mode: Where is my husband?! Why am I not with him?! I would frantically look for him in my dreams, and when I woke up, I would still be looking for him, terrified that I was back in my old life and that he wouldn’t exist. The pain of the past is a hard thing to shake. Me being abandoned back then left me scarred for life.
The same thing happens when I get too deep into depression or anxiety. I start slipping in and out of memory. A memory where I am alone, in the shadows. Alone with my pain, being ridiculed for it, tortured with it, and having it being used to manipulate me. I have a very specific image of the place where this happened in my head. Sometimes, when I collapse from the fear, I can’t see anything but that place and feel nothing but the terror and solitude related to it. It is truly terrifying.
The time has come for me to tell you something about the most tragic of all the wounds I have. The most hurtful of my limits.
Being touched makes me flinch in fear.
The times I got grabbed, bashed against a wall, threatened, and violated, left me a broken woman. For the first few months of our time together my husband couldn’t even hug me properly because it would trigger my panicky fight reaction. He couldn’t touch me gently without telling me first because I would flinch. He couldn’t be behind me because I thought he is a threat to my safety.
There are still moments like this, and it breaks him, and it breaks me. In my moments of shadow, I can’t be approached. In the moments when I need the closeness of my husband the most, he can not give it to me. I am defending. I push, I shove, I will hit if someone comes too close when I’m terrified like that. At least I used to. I’ve gotten better at it when it comes to my husband, yet the scars I carry have now infected him as well. I see his pain and I feel my own and I want him to hug me… but we are not there yet. I freeze in terror from the thought of being touched, it is best not to touch me before I calm down, no matter how much need there is to console me. It is heartbreaking.
Let there be light!
I don’t want to end this post in tragedy, and so I will let you in on some of the improvements that have happened since I met my husband and started to work on myself!
I don’t see the nightmares about being separated and tossed back into my old life anymore, which is a major plus. I had to do some real hard-core meditation about the fears I have to get there, but it made me able to sleep my nights better! Meditate people, face yourselves honestly. It’ll be nothing short of a miracle when you come out the other side.
My tolerance for sudden loud noises and my husband’s moods has grown, I started to trust that he is not going anywhere. It’s not like he has a backlog of flying to Finland, leaving everything behind, and using his savings while taking a loan to be able to stay with me. Together with the marvel of him never once having been abusive or rude to me, even when we argue. He treats me like I matter, with respect, which is a whole new adventure for me!
Do you have limits you are working on? Let us know in the comments!
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