What follows is a long email I received from a woman with BPD who came across my website and went through my Better BPD Relationships course.
If you constantly feel like you’ll never find any true love and relationships, that you’re doomed to misery and depression, read this long story.
Firstly I would like to commend you for your website. You haven’t made any huge generalizations about those with BP and BPD which are rife all over the Internet and stigmatizes us.
It has taken me years to not be terribly effected by the stereotypes about my condition online — from out right lies and disinformation such as claiming we have no empathy and are sadistic, to telling others never to date us at all.
Unfortunately, this is not limited to those with BPD and can happen with all dating advice and stories — but it IS one of the worst for stigma.
The worst thing is that people with mood disorders often already feel doomed to a life of misery and adding the idea we cannot have happy relationships further traumatizes.
Anyway, my situation is very complicated/full on… so bear with me. I have a psych who has been very helpful and I am grateful for that support, but am trying to get all the advice I can at the moment.
Ill start with a little history…
I have bpd. I’m 26 and have been diagnosed ten years. I have been in and out of psych hospitals and am very isolated.
My life has been a Rollercoaster.
This is not so much because of the emotional lability and a lack of interpersonal skills (I have always maintained close friendships) but more to do with comorbid conditions such as body dysmorphia and anorexia.
After recovering from this (at least gaining weight) I developed an alcohol problem due to incredible social anxiety (probably because I didn’t transition normally amongst all my peers between high school/uni at the normal time and felt very displaced ).
My mental state was written all over my face. Perhaps this social anxiety and self consciousness (body dysmorphia, body disgust) has been what has got in the way more than anything else of holding down jobs and social activities.
It got to the point last year where I was so depressed I spent most of the day in bed trying to sleep (could not bare the shame I felt for ‘failing’ at life, it literally caused me terror) so I could avoid these feelings.
I was also abusing alcohol and drugs sometimes in order to force myself out of the house. I had essentially imprisoned myself.
Prior to this depressive episode which I still haven’t come out of, I was at least studying, had a boyfriend and a job. But all this went to pieces when the relationship broke up.
I became severely anxious to the point where I was having panic attacks most of the day. My blood pressure was actually higher than my 80 yr old grandmother.
Most relationship break ups are painful and traumatic for well adjusted people let alone me. But it was my first relationship with anyone due to anorexia.
As silly as it sounds, exposing my body and mind to another soul made me feel incredibly vulnerable to the potential rejection. I blamed myself for how it failed, and connected that failure to all the other life failures — and basically decided my life was over.
I was in too much pain, terror and depression to go on. I didn’t have the energy to fight when I had it solidly in my mind that there was no hope for me.
So, I continued to drink and abuse pain killers knowing that I was slowly killing myself.
I do have a supportive (though equally mentally ill family) and a psych who pushed me hard into rehab. This didn’t just help me to physically recover and give my nerves a rest, but allowed me to see things in perspective: there are plenty of men and women with far worse stories and different points in their lives who still managed to recover and have healthy and even happy lives.
I also finally felt that I belonged somewhere — which is crucial for all human beings. Isolation leaves you to your own irrational thoughts and obsessions, and without perspective these can become exaggerated and overwhelming.
But more so, being alone leaves you with very little sense of identity.
Also, having others to bounce off and have a laugh with, remind you that you’re a worthy person to be around, that you are useful and can actually not only help yourself but help others.
I realized how much of an extrovert I am, that I loved being around people and helping them, and that my anxiety had turned me into a “shy” person which I actually am not.
I realized that my ex, who was 5 years younger, fresh out of high school and cared for nothing but pot drugs and parties was really not worth the heartache.
Perhaps it wasn’t “all me” that screwed things up. The sense that I had wasted my life, and the terror of “reentering the real world” was and still is terrifying.
Strangely, amongst all this chaos I have made 4 albums, and performed at several big festivals — some solo and some with bands. This may sound strange given my debilitating mental health problems. But, because my parents are musicians and I grew up writing and singing to express myself, the need for creativity outweighed this anxiety.
After gigs I would hide from people and social interactions — but the performing itself came naturally. The music industry is pretty cut throat, and due to my recent depression I began to doubt even the creative qualities in myself (also art and design) which I had never questioned.
This was the last straw.
This had been my only identity I had. Even in rehab i didn’t manage to sit down, sing and face the piano.
A New Man Enter’s Her World
Anyway, when I was in rehab I met JAMES.
He is 27 and has bipolar substance abuse problems. He also has borderline traits (he has told me all of this).
Strangely, he was one of the few patients in the hospital I didn’t get to know that well while I was in there. He was very withdrawn and silent. Sometimes it came across as a sort of arrogance. But, it was hard to tell.
I always thought he was cute. He was grungy and into music, with long hair. He had this anarchy about him — the bad boy thing. Which, as attractive as it seemed, was exactly what kept me away from him.
I was fragile and was not remotely interested in relationships. Since the break up with my ex, I had hooked up with a few guys as one offs or very short term relationships (I was looking for an ego boost and knew they probably were too).
It was self destructive given how sensitive I am to rejection. I have never been promiscuous or felt the need to be except for those few months of my life, newly single and very confused.
The last thing I wanted was to get involved with somebody from a psych ward mainly out of respect. We are all fragile being in there and had a kinship and privacy between us.
So, it wasn’t just that he came across arrogant… but this was my first impression which is interesting what has unfolded.
We added each other on Facebook as did many of us in the hospital at the same time. I didn’t think anything of it.
When I got out, I discovered he worked over the road from my house. A couple of times he suggested we hang out and have a chat at the park nearby.
This is literally as innocent as it was for 6 months. We were friends and had a mutual respect because both of us had been dumped, broken hearted, had similar conditions and substance abuse issues.
At some point during this time I relapsed and so did he. I did have feelings for him because we got on pretty well. He seemed intelligent and he was cute — but because he never made a move I genuinely thought he wasn’t interested in me at all.
Even though this gave my ego a bit of a bashing, I valued his friendship.
The Relationship Moves To The Next Level
One night we were both drunk. We were chatting on the phone and decided to hang out. He was very different drunk. He made me play all my music and recordings and praised them all emphatically.
He told me I was beautiful. He was incredibly open for once (not shut down) and laughed at me when I said I thought he didn’t like me.
We ended up together that night. I told him I didn’t want to sleep with him if he just wanted a hook up because it would damage the friendship… But he gave me the vibe it was going somewhere.
At first after two weeks he backed off and went camping and told me it was too much for him. I was a real mess (not because I was in love, but the rejection and also the fact it was the first shot I’d given it seriously with a guy for a long time).
A few days into his trip, he was sending me messages saying he needed me so much and didn’t want to lose me. We became very close very quickly and knew everything about each other’s histories, relationship traumas etc.
I knew very early on that I was going to love this man very much. We both love learning and reading, music and the “darker side of life.”
I could actually have philosophical discussions with him unlike my ex. I could see his bad boy image was pretty much a well practiced mask.
He was one of 3 brothers, the eldest, but the only one who had had mental health issues which made him feel less manly and tough. But, that made me love him more because this strength in the face of his clear suffering (severe depression and anxiety) was admirable to me.
It made me want to tear off the mask and let him feel vulnerable with me knowing that I would still love him. I have no idea what he saw in me.
He loved my musicianship and intellect, said I was pretty, but personality wise I am pretty transparent unlike him. I don’t hide my anxiety well. I am the big communicator, the extrovert (even though in public I’m silent as hell with people I don’t know).
I am very effusive and affectionate. My need for affection is intense (one of my issues ) and I told him about that early on. I said that I wold drive him nuts if he didn’t like affection too.
He said he loved that about me and that I was intense… so I took the risk. Even though he’s not gushy or enthusiastic outwardly, he would send me messages every day from work on all his breaks.
He took me out for dinner and gave me flowers on Valentine’s Day (none of which my ex did…I paid for everything). He was always the first to say I love you and good night and wanted to be with me all the time.
I finally felt happy with someone.
He was intense and I always knew I needed an intense person to be with. I would rather him be a little clingy than distant and cold which had driven me mad with others in the past.
Not only that but due to both of us having been cheated on, both of us were very strict about loyalty. Sometimes he was a little overboard with this, very insecure about me hanging around other guys.
But, I had compassion because I have flaws and I’m anxious and difficult for other reasons. I understand anxiety.
In the last 6 months after working really hard on myself and enjoying being in love, my dad passed away. Then, two of my friends committed suicide soon after.
I relapsed. He relapsed (though I think he had been drinking for a while without me knowing on and off). He was incredibly supportive when my dad died.
He grabbed his hand while he was dying and told my dad he would always look after “your daughter”. Thinking about this makes me cry. It was a beautiful gesture.
Like Always, The Honeymoon Period Never Lasts
Unfortunately, our relationship has gone downhill since then. I realized and hoped this was due to our mutual substance abuse. So, I went back to the hospital and stopped drinking again.
I was put on strong anti craving meds which have meant relapsing means becoming violently ill. I have tried SO hard to stop the alcohol and doing really well.
Apart from all the chaos in our relationship, it also got me in humiliating social situations. I could become quite verbally abusive and psycho. I’m quite sure I will never go back to that.
But, since all this grief I have become more clingy and on edge about losing people. He has become more distant.
In the past two months, he has stopped taking his meds. He hates his job and has even been drinking at work! He has now added pot to the mix.
I asked him to talk to his psych about all this and he got furious accusing me of dictating his psych sessions. This just isn’t true at all. He can become very nasty and arrogant when he drinks.
He has laughed in the face of my tears on occasion… but most of the time what has done the most damage to the trust is his impermeable silence and lack of communication.
Last week, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I begged him to talk to me and try to make a plan together to work on ourselves (substance abuse, communication, even helping him figure out another career path if he’s so unhappy doing what he’s doing).
But, he just kept saying “okay” and not initiating any ideas, following any if I suggest them. I have also asked my psych if it’s common to shut down because him shutting down is what brings out the worst in me.
I have tried every single form of communication: gentle, assertive and sometimes I just lose faith and cry or get angry and frustrated.
He is still almost completely non-responsive — just staring into space. So, last week I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. That it wasn’t lack of love or care, but that I felt incredibly unwanted, unloved and unable to communicate with him.
It frightened me that I could become so distressed in his presence — and he would not bat an eye lid. To him, I was just this nagging bitch it seemed.
Even my genuine distress evoked no empathy in him. This was too heart-wrenching. When I said we should break up, he was reluctant. He cried.
He also didn’t present another case to suggest he wanted otherwise, which hurt me more. I needed to hear from him emphatically that he loved me and wanted me in his life.
As far as I’m concerned, having been through terrible mental issues myself, I am tolerant and capable of supporting and caring for a depressed person.
But, when I sense they are apathetic to me or are just using me as a crutch, I don’t want to know. I am confused as to whether this is his depression or whether he is depressed AND doesn’t really know whether he wants me.
If it is the former, the last thing I want to do is abandon him. I guess I am just wondering whether somebody can love you, but due to this depression, temporarily stop showing it, or disconnect in such a grandiose way.
It is such a huge personality change. Since I broke it off, I rang to check on him. He was a complete wreck (as was I). I ended up at his house. He told me he did love me and wanted to make it work.
Giving The Relationship Another Shot
So, I decided I’d give it another chance. Since being here — cleaning his whole house, organizing to go to an AA meeting together, asking him as kindly as possible to try to be demonstrative and affectionate to me — he is smoking pot and drinking.
Tonight I wanted to hug him on the couch and he ignored me. I got upset and cracked because of how hard I’d tried to put things back together. I was crying and felt so pathetic having to beg him for affection.
He still didn’t respond.
He then pretty much passed out on the couch. Now all this would be more understandable to me if I knew HOW intoxicated he was. But I’m completely in the dark.
My doctor has suggested not expecting anything from him at the moment. And I know that breaking things off right now (losing another person) would be too traumatic in my current state (and for he in his too).
And that is what I am going to try to do. But, its very hard to constantly feel neglected and unloved if you feel there will be no end to it.
As I said before, I am happy to care for him and support him 100%. But, where I fall down is this sense that I’m being used or taken for granted.
If he didn’t have mental issues, I would leave for sure because there would be no excuse. However, I don’t know in this situation.
I also know, especially during this time, that I should work on myself and do things and hobbies which give me my own sense of purpose aside from him.
Its just very difficult to focus when I feel like I’m losing another precious person in my life. Thoughts?
Rick’s Final Thoughts To This Letter
And thus you have the tragic love story so many women experience in life.
It’s all thanks to metal health issues that some people have. As I have always said…
You Attract What You Project.
And, you get what you deserve.
This woman actually suffers from severe codependency and NOT Borderline. That’s why she sticks with this guy. It’s why she wants his love so deeply.
Many of my male clients have the same issues: they want a woman who’s severely depressed because they feel they can “save” her and be her White Knight.
It’s very common with the “nice guy” men, which is just another word for the Codependent Male.
But, it’s hard to cure codependency when you have mental health issues yourself. They go hand in hand.
You develop a codependent mentality because you don’t have much self-worth.
As you can see from the story this woman sent me, she definitely doesn’t have a lot of self-worth. She’s constantly depressed about her life.
As a result, she seeks out men who are just as mentally damaged as her in hopes that they can be codependent together and improve their lives.
However, codependent relationships never work. The person you want to fix will always relapse into their darkness and you cannot pull them out.
The truth is that human’s can only save themselves.
While I think it’s great that you want to help your partner be a better person and climb out of depression, you will never succeed if your lover doesn’t actually want to succeed.
You are better off spending your energy helping someone else, or putting that energy into something creative.
The best thing you can do for your relationship is to simply be your best self and move forward. If your partner feels inspired and wants to stick with you, great!
If not, then you MUST let that person go. It’s the ONLY thing you can really do for that person.
It’s the tough truth, but it is what it is. You can either listen to my advice, or ignore it and see the truth for yourself after getting dragged down into the deepest depression you’ll ever experience.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Anyway, you can learn how to Overcome Codependency with my course inside of my “Relationship Academy.”
I’m here to help you be a better person. This is how I use MY energy to pull my own self out of my head. I struggle with codependency, too. I only do well in life when I’m consistently helping people through my website and courses on a daily, consistent basis.
I encourage you to find an outlet for your creative energy.
People with mental health issues have ENORMOUS potential — you’re using a LOT of your brain after all.
Put it to good work!