Don’t Call Me A Monster

I knew I was a monster by the time I was fifteen. Everything had gone bad. I had no understanding of the things I was doing and saying. Neither did anyone around me. Well, the people who knew and that was only my immediate family. I would be too ashamed to admit it to anyone else, even though I desperately needed help.

My parents wanted to help me but had no idea how. They wondered whether this was simply normal teenage stuff. It wasn’t! They should have got me some help. But hindsight is wasted. They didn’t get me help, and it remained a secret. I had become a monster! I was sure!

What followed were major life decisions I quietly made according to my belief that I was a monster. I quickly concluded that I should never be a parent. I couldn’t inflict myself on a child, nor could I pass on any rogue genes. You see, I had no idea what was going on with me. I couldn’t risk ever becoming a mother.

I must be a monster for real! I continued to hold that secret monster close to my chest. My friends must not know because surely they would reject the monster. Even those with whom I would be in an intimate relationship would never know.

It was my secret to hold and use against myself for what has been most of my life. I was full of self-loathing and hate. I was terribly ashamed of what my family (but no one else) knew of me.

Terrified of what might be if I didn’t maintain a tight hold over my monster. I couldn’t let anyone see, for that they would surely hate me if they did.

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Actually, it would be thirty years (yes, I did say 30 years) before I had a medical professional offer me help with my monster. It was at that time that, after seeing many mental health professionals before him, one psychiatrist had the guts to diagnose me as having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

 

Monsters. Hmm.

I know better now. I am not a monster, although there are still times of self-loathing in which I threaten myself with that label. There are also times when I lose that tight rein over myself and become rather monster-like. Jobs have been lost. People have been lost. But I understand better how that comes about, and I am learning ways of being in which monster doesn’t get a look in.

Monster aside, the psychiatrist who recognised in me the symptoms of BPD did me an enormous favour because finally, I had explanations for the me who had always been me (and not a monster).

There had been mental health professionals who had gone close to identifying BPD much earlier when I was being treated for depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)and Anorexia.

They had hedged around the issue but they told me cryptically that they didn’t want to see me labelled negatively. It would apparently negatively affect how I was treated in the future. So they continued to see me as having chronic depression. In my opinion, this was simply the BPD stigma I will address shortly.

It would have done me the world of good if I had that explanation of who I was. They didn’t understand how much the monster that I knew as me was actually killing me. Had they understood, perhaps between us we might have prevented two suicide attempts that would eventually come when I could no longer stand my monster.

Those of us with BPD live with all kinds of negative labels. Monsters. Drama Queens. Attention Seekers. Manipulative. Impulsive. Addicts. We get told we don’t have a ‘real’ mental illness because what we have is a Personality Disorder. We are likened to Narcissists and Sociopaths. Yes, some would go so far as to say that we are “bad” not “mad”.

There are plenty of websites out there that are dedicated to viewing people with BPD in this light. From what I’ve seen, most are run by family members who have seen the consequences of people living with BPD who don’t have adequate treatment or support. While I understand that those family members have had a lot of pain and hurt in their lives, I don’t accept the way that they paint us to be.

I am not a monster. I am not a Drama Queen. I am not an Attention Seeker. I do not seek to be Manipulative or Impulsive. I do though, accept that I am an addict and this continues to be a thorn in my side even though I have done a great deal of work to overcome it.

I do suffer, and I do struggle to know myself as anything other than these labels. Because believe me when I say, that the harm I can do to myself with these labels is much greater than the harm you do me.

It is clear to me that there is a great deal of stigma hanging over the two in a hundred people who live with BPD.

Just last week I read the words of another kiwi writer who said that the shroud over mental illness has been lifted. I think he was writing about depression and anxiety, for which I know are much more acceptable than in the past. But for BPD, there is a very long way to go.

Even amongst medical professionals, we are often viewed negatively. It was difficult to decide whether to let anyone know of my BPD diagnosis, and there are times even now when I wish I had not let it be known.

Am I a monster? No, I’m not but I need your support to believe in myself. Don’t write me off. I am a unique human being. I happen to feel my emotions strongly but who given the right opportunity can love and be loved as much as you.

Thanks for reading

 

Cate

Image credit: Facebook Page Anxiety Depression & I

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Don’t Call Me A Monster

  1. Such an honest insight, and you’ve written this with great courage. Not a monster at all. I can understand the diagnosis as coming as a relief, a way of explaining things. You’ve shared wonderfully for those who may be experiencing the same. You’re a rockstar, never forget that! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not too sure about the rockstar, but thank you. I really hope it does help others with BPD because it is a burden to live with without the right support. I’m not sure I have that for myself but it was definitely a weight off the burden once I knew. Thanks Caz!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My daughter has BPD!! She is learning Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Menningers in Houston, Texas. She will be home in 2-4 weeks and I’m scared she won’t be supported enough when she returns. I don’t want her to feel like a monster.

    How did you expand your tunnel vision?, what model did you learn to communicate positively?, how have you maintained your balance over the years? Any advice???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first great thing that your daughter has is your support. Many people with BPD don’t have anyone that is “on their side”. She is lucky to have you. It is also great that she has the opportunity to do the DBT training. With that, and with your support, there is no reason why she should feel like a monster.

      As for me, I haven’t exactly been down such a good road, and I have very much had to stumble and learn on my own. Some people say that BPD symptoms improve with age. I am still deciding on that one but certainly, my mental health is much better now than what it was say 20 years ago. I haven’t had the opportunity to do DBT and have relied on a very good therapist who used a psychodynamic approach. That worked for me, although I accept that it isn’t a standard way of treatment BPD.

      I struggled so much for a very long time most because I had no understanding of what was going on for me, and of course, I didn’t have mental health professionals who took the time to understand either. I hope that with your daughter having the understanding, through diagnosis and DBT, that she will be able to live with BPD with some peace. I wish both you and her good luck.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank You for reaching out. I often feel so incredibly scared for my girls future — and wonder can we all make it okay? Then I found you and you made it. I’ll try to remember in the dark moments of your words NO MATTER WHAT SHE SAYS my support toward my daughter is IMPORTANT!!

        I’m glad your blog is there and I happened to find it. There is such peace in talking to others who understand!!

        I hope you have some peace in your life now. You deserve that after traveling on such a difficult path.
        Thank You Cate!!

        Like

      2. You know, all the people I know who have BPD are wonderful people, and I’m sure you’re daughter is too. Yes, she will be struggling but with support from you and others she can be just fine. I really do believe that. Good luck to you both. xx

        Like

      3. Thank You for those words.

        My girl is articulate, creative, thoughtful, hard working, silly, independent minded, caring, onry and beautiful!!!

        I believe she will live a productive life with friends and joy.

        Thank You again for your words!!
        Thank You
        Thank You
        Thank You

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I have done DBT. It’s an incredible process but needs to be practiced. It’s like a muscle it will star out weak and my tear if over used. But keep practicing it and it will make a massive change to your daughters life. Over in the uk it’s very rare to get DBT as waiting lists are as long as your arm but I can honestly say DBT and mindfulness saved my life

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank You for your insight.
        I feel scared right now because she just left Menningers!! I so want my beautiful girl to retain what she gained and move on. I’m learning it’s like going to the gym to exercise if you keep working with those muscles your body will work well but if you stop there are problems that impede you.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I totally agree that the actual diagnosis was a very good thing. For me, I finally knew what I was dealing with and for the first time, I began to have at least some understanding of who I was, let alone fighting those demons. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I too had a very long time before I was properly diagnosed, 21 years myself. I become a monster at times. I have lost friends and jobs. I often feel like I get the label drama queen and I hate drama. I would much rather not be the drama queen but sometimes that anger is so intense and sudden it comes out before I even understand it’s coming. Does that happen to you? I too feel that I am not a monster. I certainly do not mean to be manipulative or impulsive. Sometimes, after what I think is a good idea turns out not to be I end up looking manipulative. It’s maddening. The harm I do to myself is much worse than the harm others can do, although their judgement does affect my self-image when I’m around them. I’m not alone in that right?

    I’ve had a few close friends say some hateful shit to me that resonated so deeply with my self-criticism and stuck; it drove me crazy for weeks as I obsessed about it. I’m not worthless or lame as I’ve been told. I love that there are so many BPD blogs I came across for a homework assignment. I had to find 3 and leave a comment with a link back to my assignment which is also a blog post about BPD. I started one 5 years ago, CrazySexLove, which is way more intense than the assignment for school. I may get back into blogging about my experience with BPD. Blogging can be very cathartic. I also feel the need of support of others to believe in myself. I’m doing better with it, but I often find myself relying on what others are thinking and feeling about me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One thing that I am clear about is that we are not monsters, even though there will be times when we felt like we were. It’s hard living with the emotions and thoughts we live with. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and as you rightly say, the harm we do to ourselves is much greater than any harm others can do.

      Your assignment for school sounds really interesting and it leaves me wondering what course you are doing. Whatever it is, makes sure that you are good to yourself. It’s something we with BPD struggle to do, but you are a good person! Always believe it. Take care out there.

      Liked by 1 person

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