I read somewhere that the thing you're scared to write is the thing that you should be writing. Well, my hands are sweaty so I suppose this is what I'm supposed to be writing.
One of the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder is identity issues, described in the DSM-5 as:-
identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
I'm not sure what exactly they want this to mean, as usual many of the DSM diagnosing criteria is, I guess, intentionally vague to allow anyone struggling to be diagnosed with something.
I think about identity a lot, the internet tells me that how we feel about ourselves is directly linked to who we think we are, ergo it makes sense in a demented way that I loathe myself because I don't know who I am. For all the titled 'how to find yourself/how to be the best you' bollocks out there, there is no definitive way of self discovery. It's something that you're expected to be able to do as you grow up.
Today is my 29th birthday.
If you follow me on social media you may know that the last few weeks have been hard - please don't pity me, at this point I'm convinced that at times things are only hard because I make them so.
Part of me was ready to end it all. The snow didn't help, snow days have always felt like suicide days. My disordered mind decided that there was something sickly poetic about killing myself on my birthday. I'm fighting through that urge though. Not because I do deserve better, but because as rotten as I feel there is a little part of me that is scared to die. (I'm scared of the unknown).
There is a lot of importance on any article to do with BPD on avoiding injurious behaviour, avoidance of suicide attempts. Thats brilliant in some ways, I had a 15 year stretch of self-harming, I suppose it's good I don't anymore. There are many articles about bPD online, but i've yet to find a linear article telling me how to work out who I am without mirroring others that I find interesting.
And that, is essentially what I'm writing about.
'Mirroring' is the classy, psychiatric way of putting it. Another, more accurate term may be copying, stealing, imitating, emulating.
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.”
I want to preface this part by saying that I have never thought "oh I know, I'll copy them they'll never notice". People do notice.
But in many ways I am Hedra Carlson.
These last few days, I have systematically been going through all social media and blocking people. Not because I don't want them to see me but because that little extra effort of unblocking someone means that I have a moment to think, and walk (click) away.
Unintentional but completely inappropriate emulation of strong personalities is something I've been aware of for the past few years, it's something that has caused hurt, anger and, on my end a deep unwavering guilt. A guilt that has previously driven me to overdoses and self harm. It's something I don't talk about because of the shame it causes me.
I hope you don't feel sorry for me because this is something I should have tried harder to address earlier.
We begin by coveting what we see every day.
- Dr. Lecter, Silence of The Lambs, Thomas Harris
I am, I think, a visual person. I can remember images, and places and spaces in my minds eye. So it makes sense to remove the things that I see on a regular basis in hope that their influence lessens.
I found an article that said this 'mimicking' was something often found in children, but that by adults they had mimicked enough, they had developed their sense of self. The article went on to say that adults who do this are often not aware of it - I am aware though, but generally after the event. Although I may not realise my mirroring actions whilst I'm doing them, I always agree when pointed they're pointed out.
Then the shame and the guilt starts.
I'm trying to take steps forward though, now. By blocking a number of individuals, by trying to come from a place of integrity. By taking time to really, really think. By calling myself out for this complete and utter bullshit, but I'm not really calling myself out, because I'm not mentioning names, I don't want to pull the innocent into my breakdown.
Because it is bullshit, and I am sick of it and I am sick of these unhealthy patterns and the hurt that it causes others. At this point it's become a sink or swim situation, I either manage to find whoever I am or, ultimately I do kill myself; I am hurt and I am tired of hurting.
Put your shame in a box
How could you be so wrong?
You sit there broken
And the world moves on
Many of these that I have emulated, copied, in the past have bizarrely been boyfriends' ex-girlfriends. It's no wonder so many of my relationship failed when I was trying to be their ex-girlfriends. Looking at it objectively, it's quite laughable really.
I sat, at 4am the other morning thinking about each individual, and what my perceptions of them were, and what qualities they exhibited. These women (there are a few men but the majority of these individuals I've been captivated by are women), I perceive as strong, brave, intelligent. It makes sense that I perceive these individuals in a good light, I fear that if I were copying the bad things about people I'd be too deep to be helped.
None of this is supposed to sound like an excuse. It's not right, I want to change. I want to be better. I want to find me.
“Understand yourself, accept yourself, but do not be yourself.”
I have, for many years, written blogs. They're scattered across the internet as some proof that I was alive and I lived it. If I do ever complete suicide no-one can say that they didn't see it coming. I have read and consumed words written by friends, strangers, faceless names on the internet. I'm not going anywhere, just yet.
I did, at one point, think of removing myself from the internet space completely - I rarely use facebook, I use twitter less and less, it made sense. But, and there is always a but, to live in a bubble does not help. I've worked for years with those marginalised by society, my work with them has always been based on not letting society forget about these vulnerable people, it has been about inclusion and diversity.
And that is where I stand now, that I have to learn, somehow, to exist in the world without being everyone else. I must be able to stand on my own feet by being myself - and the first step is to find myself.
Today I may be 29, but I feel a whole lot younger.