In 2010 I tried to commit suicide by ingesting all my pills. I was in a bad place for someone with BPD, a small island and not a soul other than my boyfriend that I had told about my disease. But, for the 3 years I was there, life was good, I was surrounded by everything I loved, the sun, water, freedom, the taste of the sea air and the sight of the most beautiful ocean in front of me every morning and a community where everyone knew my name, it was safe and comforting regardless of my BPD and lack of network.
Then the tide began to change, my boyfriend became very jealous, angry, loud and possessive, making me feel guilty and claustrophobic at every turn. But, I, in turn, could not leave as I could not see forward enough to stand on my own feet in a time that was turning into a pressure cooker. My work environment that was once a carefree Caribbean workplace started to grow and fill with corporate US employees whose work ethics were more demanding rather than cooperative. Being non-confrontational, I retreated rather than stood up and let the dissatisfaction pile up. And when the tide shifts everything shifts with it, my favourite cousin died, leaving 2 small children behind, my work schedule kept me pinned to the island and unable to attend the funeral which caused a rift of family politics that cascaded down. My sister, in a complete shock to all, gave birth to a Down Syndrome baby, again, I was tied to obligations but her world was falling apart there as was my mother’s. Holding the glue together was becoming more difficult but as BPD tend to do when we can’t face the pain, we bury our head in the ground and hope the pain will subside. That it did not, my pressure cooker continued to grow with a boyfriend with a volatile temper, opposite to my cringing fear of anger and confrontation against me, sending me spiralling downwards into a sense of where else was there to go but to find the bottles of solace and take them, which I did, huddled in the bathroom stall, pouring pills as fast as I could down my throat, hearing my boyfriend rage outside, and praying they would put me to sleep sooner than he would enter the room.
What happened next is as expected, i awoke to find myself, stomach pumped in the hospital, alive and unhappy and as far away from a support system as I could be. No psychiatrist, no psychologist, no friends I trusted with my secret and no family in a country that did not quite understand suicide with nurses that would pass my bedside to console me with the fact that they were going home to pray for my soul.
In 10 days I was released to the only person who knew, my boyfriend, but at this point I had broken down and told a close friend the truth of my hospital visit and asked if I could come stay with them through my recovery. Much to my fear of rejection and abandonment, this sent her into a tailspin, not many people can comprehend an act of suicide and she took the guilt of not seeing it hard and from that point on, though I stayed with them, the strain took over her, and I knew, once I left the friendship was over.
2 days after leaving the hospital, to which I had explained to work I had had a nervous breakdown, they fired me.
I was not sure how much lower I could fall and spent my days drugged and stayed hidden in my dark room, waiting for day to end, night to come and day to end again till my hospitality came to a limit. I was referred to a local psychiatrist who was unfamiliar with BPD, and though the intention may have been there, we did not click and I never felt she made the effort to at show me she cared. And again, the only person I had, regardless of whether I wanted to be with him, was my boyfriend, my sole lifeline. I move into his apartment in a hole of misery, and as I know now, with no tools to bring myself out, lying on the tile floors during the day doing nothing but watching re-runs of The Kardashians and dreading the return of anyone or thing to break my trance.
Somewhere in there, I knew I had to leave and find help, and through some good friends here in Canada who stuck by me on the phone, I booked a flight out with nothing but clothes I could throw into a suitcase. I don’t remember who knew or didn’t, I put on my mask of independence and tried to muster on but with enough sense to re-connect with my psychiatrist and psychologist to lay a path forward. I hate the city I live in, it’s cold, insular with non of the warmth and friendliness of the Caribbean, a clique of people who think they are the nicest people on earth. Canadian Stepford wives.
I wasn’t sure where to start. I have a love-hate with my mother, she loves me to death and I her but she is a glass half full individual who does not handle crisis, who is passive aggressive. I never told her about the suicide attempt. Not the best mesh for a BPD. I was running out of savings fast, it had been months of no work and slow rehabilitation. I still had my boyfriend, if I could call it that at that point. I had very few links and though this was toxic, I could not let go and be alone as yet. I hadn’t told the full story to anyone but a few friends (2) and doctors. But I hated the Skype calls with him and dreaded the phone calls which should have been a glaring clue but I could not cut the cord, virtual as it was, and escalated my toxicity.
Some of my events after this I lose timeline. With my psychologist and psychiatrist we made a plan to move forward and make a base and home here. I was still unemployed but I had a goal, something to reach for, I wanted to make it, to show myself I could create happiness in a town I hated, but I would do this for family, to be with them, to love them. My light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s not till you look backwards, hindsight is 20/20 that you see the ripples that lie under the calm. I made many changes, I moved into a new place, my storage company lost half my belongings to which I had no repercussions not having taken out any insurance. In the time I was away my ex-husband had found himself a new, young, but rather insecure new wife who was no threat to me from that angle but was with my children as she had a new-found joy to be Martha Stewart and the perfect mother to my children. This meant subversive means of cutting me out of school activities and the usual tactics played by women that I have no time or energy for but which required energy. I also needed a job but with the emotional toll of the last few months, it was clear that a high pressure job as I once had was not going to sustain my health, i had to back down if I wanted to put my health and family first.
I went from being Director of Operations making $130,000 a year tax free to being an Executive Assistant making $45,000 less taxes. It was a horrible change mentally and psychologically, a failure. My world was moving backwards not forwards but I rallied myself that my health meant my family.
I suffered through several episodes through this time, many panic attacks that took me to the hospital convinced I could not breathe.
My mania blew up, the only way I knew to hide was to distract myself, be out, be happy, be consumed or the alternative was to sink.
I found the nerve to leave the boyfriend but it was a hard fought leaving, guilt remained that he had saved my life, and with survivor’s guilt, I know now I wasn’t wrong, I felt like a horrible human being doing it. He came up at Christmas time and it was a comedy of horrors, uncomfortable and filled with spaces of silence and guilt. We tried to take a mini holiday to a ski town for a few days and he spent the days sleeping on the living room floor because I couldn’t bear to be touched. It was the the end which I confirmed by phone shortly after he left.
Life took on a bit of a manic momentum at this point, doctors, kids, work, and going out. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wasn’t sure if I was happy or who I was or why I was. Things did coalesce as my therapy went on, i went back to yoga and found calm, my children brought joy, work was boring but calm, I had a place to love I liked and i met an incredibly nice man to spend time with.
Calm before the storm? Outside was fine, I did everything I was supposed to do but inside it I was still that stone cold pit, that morass of pain and voices that I kept shutting out and pushing through. If I stayed busy enough, I could handle the noise in my head and the pain in my gut, the throbbing that never went away. I was living wasn’t I? Doing everything I was supposed to.
I had to face reality that I had run away from the Caribbean to find healthcare here but I had left in a lurch, bank accounts still open, mail boxes, clothes, like I had disappeared into thin air without telling a soul. I needed to go back and close up, finish. I wasn’t ready and now almost 3 years later I still am not. The demons launched the minute I stepped off the plane, I felt like an outsider with the world gossiping about me. You can’t try and kill yourself in a town of 5000 people and not expect everyone to know in 24 hours. Things started out bad from the get go, a friend that was supposed to pick me up from the airport, never showed up due to boat issues, but was never able to tell me, so I waited for 3 hours before making my way across island to try and island hop 2 more islands by ferry to get “home”. I was exhausted and I was still embarrassed and not ready to talk about what happened, I wanted in and out and then I ran into my ex. The shock, the confrontation, the tiredness, my mind shut down and disassociation sank in. It felt like being slammed into a brick wall with no air in my lungs and all my mind could do was split and shut down from the accusations, the tones and all else that came afterwards.
I did what I had to do and I carried on, saw friends, went out on boats, went mildly manic, packed up my things and left, again, just pushing the pain away and living with insidious moods that threatened from every angle to bring me to my knees.
And that it did, I came back to a new hostile worker at my job that took all my fortitude to hold strong but then cry in the bathrooms, the new man I dated found out about my ex and threw me into a tailspin, how do you explain something you yourself cannot explain, money issues started to surface, all the debt I incurred unable to work and paying for medical bills could not sustain with life on an assistant’s salary, the pressure with the new wife and then my ex husband threatening to move our children to a new town, and all the voices in my head knew they had won.
They brought me further than my knees. i cried for 3 days the pain was excruciating, i crawled across the floor of my apartment and writhed from the voices that threatened to splinter me into pieces, voices that talked me into death. I cut myself to alleviate the pain and then cut some more. The fact that I had lost so much control to jeopardize a life I had just started gave fuel to more guilt. I still remember being on the wooden floor in the dark, letting the negativity play a song through my body as I watched from some other place far far away. My mind and body no longer belonged to me, possessed is a new word I have started using and my BPD had possessed me, I was ready to say, take me, you’re right, I am worthless. I lay all the pills on the bed, not believing, I again had come to this juncture of no escape. I had ruined yet another chance at life. My phone kept ringing and it was H, the new man I had started dating, someone I knew there could be a future with that my disease was never going to allow. He had rained guilt on me for my trip and lack of control in the BVI, and my words were useless against his rage, how does one explain your inability to control your mind, he had every right and I stood the abuse, though I begged and cried.
I did not end up taking the pills that night, H gave me a glimmer of maybe there was a chance we could re-build and my children’s faces swam in front me and what would it be like to know your mother had committed suicide. There they all were, my magic bright pills, promising peace and the world outside promising nothing but a will to live and survive. My psychologist pulled through and went above and beyond for me here and I am eternally grateful, I am sure she saved me.
I become fuzzy at the point but I came to a better place, with big changes, again that needed to happen. I couldn’t afford my place and moved in with my mother. H helped me into a 6 month DBT program and I maintained my yoga and the monthly therapy. Life began a rhythm it hadn’t had, I was content and the ability to connect with other DBT sufferers gave me a feeling of finally belonging somewhere where people understood me. I re-learned new tools and picked up fresh new ones to use, and they worked. The children were doing fabulous, H and I were too and work was ticking along. My episode times stretched, i was able to crack the whip with the demons in my head and keep them manageable. Don’t get me wrong there were still episodes and triggers, I was just able to circumvent some and mitigate others and of course go through some. But they were manageable. I think I can say it was a pretty decent year.
But all good things come to an end, I stopped working and went on EI. Something i never thought I would see myself at the point of, I was a career person!! Successful! My husband took the liberty of moving to a different city and then moving the children out of school which prompted my moving to a new city, which didn’t seem so bad (but change is bad for BPD, I keep forgetting that), my finances got worse from little work though I did pick up contract work that kept me going. A few months ago I was given disability by the government realizing that I was handicapped mentally. I moved out my my mother’s and was able to find a great little place that feels like home but far away from everyone I know, but the kids. Moving, threw an unknown to me, wrench into things, it disrupted a lifestyle, my exercise stopped, due to funds all my therapy stopped, I didn’t take the breaks I needed, or when I thought I did they weren’t breaks but stress vacations. My children started to grow up and become teenagers and not need me anymore. Pressure started to mount on large responsibilities and then little things grew, kids got sick, Xmas came around the corner, work got behind, and my kettle was screaming on the stove in my head. I should have seen the signs, regular headaches, pain in my body, bad sleep even with drugs, my jaw locked up from stress.
You read this thinking I am an idiot and I think same. I was devolving and not acknowledging it. H told me one night during an argument that my job in the relationship was to be happy and not burden him with my little humdrum issues. So, I shut up as much as I could, I started bleeding though it wasn’t time for me period. I locked down and I spoke to no one. I couldn’t afford psychology anymore and my doctor was on vacation.
Breaking point was coming. Christmas with not a lot of money is never a fun time. H took me away to a spa for New Year’s which was happiness beyond happiness, it blocked out everything, my mind was able to go blank, though all the pain still moved within me, I had gotten used to bearing it and just smiling. Then the catalyst came, the prick to the balloon. All the layers that had piled up, the drug addicts inside of me, waiting for this moment, got there fix. Over dinner, H made a small minuscule but damning comment about my time in the BVI and that I had essentially “asked for it” and the walls, all the walls crumbled in a tsunami and him not knowing what to do reacted in the way most people don’t know what to do, I was over reacting, I needed to get over it, and he shut down, which threw me into the morass of pain so strong I could have birthed demons, and looking at his stone cold face, I had no where to go but back to the knife which I did, this time deeper and harder than I had ever done and though I was horrified at first, it felt like a rush of opiates coming to me watching the blood pour out. But this time, it wasn’t enough. H had shut down and decided i was a lost case so I wrapped myself up with whatever semblance of sanity was left and took myself to the hospital to get stitched up before i bled out, not before having thoughts of slicing the other wrist too.
We rode home in deathly silence the next day and that calm, that scary calm came over me, the one where you know with all certainty that you are done. I mentally went through every loved one and realized they could all live without me, and for the first time, I realized the children could do. There was nothing left, nothing. Why was I running the rat race, hamster wheel, working through this torture everyone never saw and discounted. Clarity was a shining light, this time, I could die, happily. H still maintained his stony silence of anger that I had caused him no sleep and ruined our holiday which even that guilt couldn’t penetrate, I was going to go, none of this mattered anymore, NONE OF IT. We had 4 hours to drive and I put all my finances and my will into place in my head. I planned everything down to a science, to what I would eat, drink, wear and even smell like. It was beauteous, this was good bye and it was clean and organized.
I left H’s place and sat in my car for 2 hours writing out my will. Therein lay my mistake and as I have now learned, do not send your will till after you die and do not leave your cell phone on when people are looking for you. I was headed home, this time even taking calls from people who knew what was to happen, it was my way of saying good bye and hearing their voices, nothing was clearer to me and I knew no matter what they said I had my plan.
The next part I will gloss through, the police alerted by my sister, pinged my phone, found me and took me to the ER where H had the audacity to show up after all his talk about my being a burden, I could have punched him. The last place I wanted to be was stuck back in a hospital relegated to the psych ward that still looked like a place out of the 70s. And the irony, all my family knew that I would rather die than be placed there.
Fast forward 3 days and I am home now, home being my mother’s house watched like 2 year old, this was after 2 previous days being watched by H. To my benefit the hospital had no beds so they had no choice but to let me go.
How do I feel? Angry primarily. My choice that was thwarted by others. They say abortion is your choice, I believe in that. Death should be your own choice too. You can put your baby to death but not yourself, come on, buck up. Selfish that no one has yet taken the time to really learn how hard it is to live with BPD. Everyone swears to be my support but they know nothing and I still see the incredulity on faces. You like fine… if you like fine, how can their be any pain? Can they think how much pain it must take for me to want to die to end it? If you don’t want to be involved, go away, don’t pretend to care, call the police and then go on with your merry lives not knowing that you have now forced me to climb an unimaginably painful road back up so I can live for your conscience. Fuck you.
Abandonment and rejection, our hallmarks, the golden hallows of BPD. Did I see my family at the hospital. no. Did I see my family at home, no. I move to my mum’s house and my sister says she cant see me because she’s going to Tae Kwon Do and then to the airport. Oh ok, I don’t feel rejected and abandoned at all, let me see, you called the police, you did your job and now your life can go on and I can go fuck myself. I don’t need sympathy and guilt, you want to help, help. Pick up a book and find out you just rejected and abandoned the suicidal bitch you saved.
Right, so where am I now? At a juncture than can go either way. I haven’t found my light yet, my will to be. Since I am alive, though guarded 24/7, the laughable thing is I still need to work and pretend to go on, because, well, you brought me back to reality and reality means survival regardless of whether you wanted to whack yourself. Fun, just what I wanted, to go back to what i was, even more ill equipped and in even more pain.
I think with the right positivity and light i will move forward but I also know a few wrong moves and triggers and I will give up. There’s not a lot of hope left in this body and there are a lot of demons. The scale is tipped precariously towards more bad than good.
As of today, 6:25am, Wednesday, Jan 8, this is my story.