When I try to remember the day I encountered the first symptoms, it is very difficult as the panic attacks started when I was nine years old and I have lots of out-of-body memories from my early childhood. But I guess, the real BPD-stuff started when I was about 12. It is a tricky age for most people – your body starts changing, school gets more difficult, you fall in love and you have no damn clue who you are exactly.
For me, it sometimes feels as if I never grew any older since then. In 2005 I wrote into my diary “I feel a hundred years old. I am just tired and I can take no more. Will I ever be happy? Free? Or at least, will I ever know, who I am?”. Admittedly, that reads like the average, melodramatic teenage diary. But I was really serious. School was very interesting for me, still I didn’t want to go there because I was being bullied for years. Being locked into the classroom for hours or finding my exercise books in the toilet made me feel…tired. I can’t remember if I ever got angry, I just know, that I was empty and tired and just wanted it to stop. I still don’t know, why they picked me. Sure, I was small, clever and had braces, but I never gave them any reason…kids don’t need reasons for being cruel.
Who am I?
When I was twelve, I got my first kiss in a summer camp. Although we just experimented, it made me think that kissing a girl felt so right…From that day on, I tried to answer the question whether I was homo- hetero- or bisexual and it became an obsession. It consumed my every waking moment for about three years because I had the feeling that I didn’t know myself any more. People told me that it sure was “just a phase” but I had to find the right drawer to put me into. I didn’t really care, what I was or wasn’t, I just wanted to know for sure. Falling in love with a girl from my class made it even worse. I was only fourteen but I can’t remember ever feeling that lovesick since then. Today, I can say that I don’t love a sex but a person, I guess that qualifies me as a bisexual. Being able to say that makes me tremble – I put incredibly much time, emotions and power into finding this part of my indentity.
Over all of my teenage years, I attended three different schools and had four different jobs – that made many people worry about me and today I can see that my decisions were influenced by the popular BPD-instability. Nevertheless, I am grateful for all those experiences as they probably got me where I am today. Also, it shows that I can start over and over again if I want to.
Usually, schools and jobs would seem great at first and I always started things enthusiastically. Two or three months later, I would start getting bored and end up severely depressed a couple of weeks later. The same pattern also applied to my relationships but nobody was worried about that because I was just a teenager – I would find the right one sooner or later (meaning a white, catholic, heterosexual male in most peoples’ opinions).
What’s more, I felt trapped at home. There was always something to do, someone to be there for…I hardly ever went out, and if I did, I had a guilty conscience about it. It appeared to me that I would only be free after moving out (which I did quite soon). Home was pressure – I had to function so that nobody would notice that something was wrong with me. Although I spent most of the glorious summer of 2007 in bed, nobody thought of Depression. I was taken to a respiratory physician several times because I had what we thought were asthmatic attacks. The doctor never found anything in my lungs and although my panic attacks had been recognized when I was a child, nobody thought of them coming back now.
Another thing that had to be hidden were the scars from cutting – obviously! They were the only thing I ever actually lied about to my mum. Telling her I was just clumsy, or inventing more or less convincing stories. Soon, I started just hiding them or finding ways of hurting myself that didn’t look like cuts. From the age of fourteen until I got eighteen, I remember about 30 incidents – most of them when I was really distressed or out of my body. When my mum finally discovered it, I stopped harming myself for quite a while which resulted in a whole year of feeling absolutely numb. I functioned, but I don’t remember a thing about that year, I just couldn’t feel anything but the urge to hurt myself and a terrible, burning anger.
Interestingly, my family had the impression that I was a nice, civilized and uncomplicated teenager: I never came home late, my marks at school where great and I read lots of books instead of drinking alocohol. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll go through a huge midlife-crisis to do all the stuff I missed out on as a teenager. I guess I just wanted to avoid problems and having to explain anything.
After moving out, things started to get better: I had more time to myself and I felt free when I walked the streets at four in the morning, barefoot on the railways, just because I could and nobody would know…
Relationships happened, most of them where short because I left everyone – in all of my life, a single person left me. All the others where devaluated by my BPD-brain before they could get enough from me.
When I was nineteen, I first was able to cry again. In all the time between being twelve and eighteen, I only cried twice which was a reason for huge pressure inside me (therefore, self-harm and so on). The tears just wouldn’t come, I wanted to cry so desperately but it just didn’t work. When it first worked again, it came in dry, hard sobs that hurt. I had a sore throat afterwards and I felt so incrediby ashamed that I couldn’t look into the mirror for a few days. After that, it got easier, today, I cry quite often – it still feels uncomfortable but I know what happens if I don’t, so I rather let it out.
I see that this reads a little hopeless but my teenage years really were not an easy time for me. I always say that I was a hundred years old when I was actually fourteen and that I probably get a little younger since then. Last year I felt as old as I actually was for the first time in my life and I guess that’s something 🙂