Heavy, and dark.
And I, paralysed,
In my grave
Watching the earth
Fall onto me.
Until I am
And out of sight;
Out of mind,
And my mind.
Today has been one of these days. Literally – out of the blue I have been plunged into a pit of black.
My wife and I are on holiday with a dear friend and our beautiful dogs, somewhere in Devon. I have a final cover for my book and we have spent a happy hour or two brainstorming ideas for a book launch. All was well.
All is well. Nothing has changed – nothing at all is different, other than how I feel. It started, perhaps, with the odd fleeting pang of paranoia: Dawn and Tracey are irritated by me; they think I’m stupid; I’m a nuisance. I brushed these aside quite adeptly (I thought at the time), well aware of my propensity for these sorts of unfounded thoughts, and determined not to let them win.
We needed a few supplies for the holiday cottage we’re staying in, and I volunteered for a trip to the nearest shop. All was well. When I got in the car however, I was overwhelmed by a profound heaviness, desolation and deep self-loathing. I could not explain it then, any more than I can explain it now as I write (and the feelings have mostly – almost – passed). Such was the extent of the sadness and self-hatred that a couple of times I could barely see through my tears whilst I was driving. I was vaguely aware that to pull over and stop would be sensible, but I didn’t dare: I didn’t want to be alone with not even trying to drive to distract me from the feelings. Was I trying to run (drive) away from them? I’m not sure, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop and indulge them.
I managed – precariously at times – to not give in to the usual train of thoughts that accompany such episodes, and as a result I managed to also avoid the behaviours that might once have been my only resource in such a time.
Inexplicable panic, and pain that ambush us from out of nowhere do not surrender without a fight though: one rebuttal is followed by another onslaught, and so on. Every time it feels like the fight will never end. It almost feels as though there is no point even trying to fight, because you know you won’t win.
But I have learned that winning comes in different shapes and sizes. Resisting just one urge out of twenty to self-destruct is, in my opinion, a victory. Even thinking about resisting an urge is a huge step forward and not to be dismissed as ‘not enough’.
Today I kept myself safe. I argued with the feelings, as much as I was able to understand what they were. They argued back with vengeance: they of course were real, and my own feeble arguments were laughably irrelevant. But I kept on arguing. And I kept myself safe.
Today I didn’t (as so often I have) compound the sense of desolation and self-loathing and uselessness by acting on the impulse that would have me destroy myself from the outside in.
Managing my borderline does not mean I don’t think the thoughts are potentially dangerous. It does not mean I don’t feel things that I don’t understand, or struggle to deal with. Managing my borderline means I do everything in the power I have not to act on the impulses that I have, despite how compelled and convinced I am that these impulses can be trusted.
I’m not perfect. I don’t have all the answers, and some days I do better – much better – than others. But today I think I managed pretty damn well, all things considered.
As I write this, I am back at the holiday cottage, safe and wondering how on earth those feelings managed to assault me with such ferocity and stealth that I had no idea they were coming. I am also wondering where they are now, because out of the blue they are gone again and all is just about well at this precise moment in time.
By the way, did I mention I’m having a book published? A Sad and Sorry State of Disorder is available for pre-order right now!
Tracy Barker writes about her own experiences of mental illness, in particular her ongoing journey of learning to live with and manage Borderline Personality Disorder. She can be followed at www.thetracybarkerblogs.com or on Twitter.
Her first book, A Sad and Sorry State of Disorder – A Journey into Borderline Personality Disorder (and out the other side) is also available for pre-order now.