Tag Archives: bulimia

Walking the Borderline

About a year ago, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Although I didn’t receive a diagnosis until 27, I have displayed the signs of a borderline since I was probably about 11. I have extreme issues in regulating my emotions, impulsivity and recklessness, and unstable relationships. 

 

I’m writing this to invite you to walk the borderline with me.

The diagnostic criteria for BPD are…

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.  

You see, borderlines do not know how to handle rejection or abandonment. There’s something in our brains that tells us it’s always going to happen and that someone must be abandoning us if that don’t respond to us.

I’ve lived, pretty much, my entire life in fear of abandonment. And my obsession with avoiding abandonment almost certainly guarantees it. 

 

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationship.

When we meet a new person who we connect with, we instantly love them. This often makes us look psychotic and pushes people away. We love deeply, but we are terrified of intimacy and connection. When we want to cling, we often claw instead.   
 

3. Identity disturbances.

People will tell you, “just be yourself.” But that is nearly impossible for a borderline. We don’t know who we are or where we fit in, in this world. Is my favorite color purple because it’s MY favorite color? Or is it because someone else wanted it to be? I don’t know anymore. I try to not wear masks and be real with people…but that’s hard when it’s all you’ve ever known.

To this day, at 27 years old, I have no clue who I am. I am a chameleon. I can fit in with anyone because I change depending on where I am.   

 

4. Impulsivity in at least 2 areas that are self-damaging. 

This is so much more than just “resisting temptation”. When a borderline gets the impulse to do something, it will literally consume their thoughts until they do it. Many of us spend too much, shoplift, drive too fast, drink, do drugs, or have eating disorders. It’s nearly impossible for us to just walk away from a self-destructive impulse. And this sucks! 

 

5. Recurrent suicidal thoughts/behaviors and/or self mutilating behavior.

As many as 75% of borderlines cut themselves and 10% commit suicide. It’s one of the most dangerous mental illnesses. Self-mutilating and suicide are often the only way we can see to get the pain to end. 

For me, self-harm was always a reminder to me that I’m still alive. I get so numb at times, that I just need a reminder that I can still feel.  

 6. Mood instability – cycles of mania, anxiety, irritability, depression, or anger lasting a few hours but no more than a few days.

People around us often live in fear of not knowing what our mood will be like one moment to the next. But we fear that too. We hate not knowing when the depression is going to hit. It’s a living hell. As much as you hate walking on eggshells around us, we hate it too.  

 

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

We feel completely alone and scared in this world. We feel completely empty, like we’re just a shell of a person. We don’t know how to get away from this empty, numb feeling within ourselves.  

 

8. Inappropriate, intense anger.

The slightest injustice, to us, turns into a great travesty. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ve exploded in fits of anger and been told I was selfish and immature because I didn’t get my way. But it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more than “not getting our way”. We’re not very flexible, it’s not by choice – we try to go with the flow, and sudden alterations in plan effect us emotionally.  

 

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

Have you ever driven a familiar road and once you got to your destination, realized you didn’t remember a portion of the drive? That’s dissociation. Borderlines often dissociate in response to stress that we don’t know how to handle. It’s not something that we do consciously, but our brains do it instinctively as a defense mechanism. Our physical beings continue to function, while our mental beings become disconnected.  

 

Being a borderline is literally like a living hell at times. I view the world much differently than those around me. Because I don’t remember things the same way as others, I’ve been told I’m dramatic or a liar – which leads me to questioning my own memories. 

Borderlines feel things MUCH, MUCH deeper than everyone else. Which means that we’re often criticized for being overly sensitive or too emotional. Which then leads us to feel guilty for our own emotions. That guilt, in turn, causes us to make ourselves numb to our own emotions. We literally only have the two extremes – overly emotional or completely numb, there is no in between. And some days, I’m not sure which is worse.  

 Many people will walk out of our lives and “give up” on us because it is difficult to love us, but we don’t do it on purpose. We hate that we have to live this way. And often we question God, wondering why He made us with defective emotions. 

Many of us were abused, in some way, as children. This abuse taught us at a young age that fear and love went together. That trust meant pain. That closeness meant agony. So we learned to live shallow lives and never let anyone into the deepest, darkest areas of our lives.  

 

Sometimes, all we need is someone to validate our emotions. We need those who love us, not to enable us, but to reassure us that we’re not “crazy” for feeling the way we do. 

Psychiatrists and therapists fear us the most. Most don’t know how to treat us – they fear treating us due to our high propensity towards suicide. 

We have no “internal governor.” We can feel profound love simultaneously with deep rage – and if that confuses you, just imagine how we feel. We hate living this way. We’re sorry for the effect we have on your life, please know that we don’t do it on purpose.

If we trust you, don’t take that lightly. If we love you, we’re taking a big step out of our comfort zones. And if you can’t handle the bumpy road ahead, get out now before anyone gets hurt.  

 

Like I’ve said before, we’re just trying to get through this world the only way we know how. 

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Perfectly Imperfect

For all the perfectionists, control freaks, socially awkward, anxious, depressed, and/or scared girls out there (myself included): stop it! Just stop it! Stop competing with each other. Stop comparing your life and your body with someone else’s. You are you, plain and simple.

You may call me crazy, dumb, cliché, narrow-minded, or any other choice of words after reading that opening paragraph; but don’t write me off just yet. I promise, I have a point to make.

So with that being said, I also know it’s not easy…I know, because I can’t “just stop” either. But our striving to be perfect and control the world around us, is robbing us from experiencing the perfectly imperfect life we are living right now. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get pretty sick and tired of people telling me to just stop. Just get over it. Just move on. Just let it go. Because quite honestly, those are just not possible without stepping backward, into the craziness that has become our minds and figuring out how and why we got this way.

I want perfection. Why? Because somehow, someway I learned that beauty, love, and my all around value as a person came from the size of my waist, the number on a scale, and the beauty of my face. At no time, until recently, had I ever placed any value on the size of my heart.

At the age of 10, I started weighing myself; and every time, I thought the number was too high. By 11, I started experimenting with restricting food. At age twelve, I discovered binging and purging. And by age 13, I was trapped in the world of a crazy, eating disordered obsession.

I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be loved. I wanted control. I wanted to be protected. I wanted to be wanted. I NEEDED to feel like I had a purpose in this world. And from what I could tell of the world around me, purpose came by way of beauty, which came from being perfect, which extended from being thin.

But the perfection that I so desperately strived for, would never be possible. I would never and can never be a perfect person. But at the time of my eating disorder, I didn’t see that. At the time, I kept thinking that if the number on the scale just got lower, I would be happier and find perfection. But each time the number got lower, that voice in my head told me it still wasn’t low enough.

And since we’re talking about eating disorders here, I want to clarify a very common misconception. Eating disorders are not necessarily about weight or appearance; although that’s the way it manifests. Ultimately, eating disorders are a way to gain control over a life that’s uncontrollable. Eating disorders are just one tool we use in an effort to attain perfection. When my weight issues started, I had been sexually abused by a friend and sexually harassed online by some guy I didn’t know. I was 10 years old and I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. So I grasped for control and my grasp landed on eating disorder. For a good while, I believed that I was in control. I couldn’t control anything else in my life, but I could control food; and that gave me a sense of pride like I’d never known before.

But that sense of control and pride that I felt, quickly gave way to a new emotion: depression, the state of feeling completely and totally alone and worthless. Depression soon led to self-harm and self-harm to suicidal thoughts…all for the sake of beauty. For the sake of beauty, I was willing to flirt with death, to test my chances. Between the eating disorder, the “perfect” façade I put on, and the seriousness of my self-harm, my body was barely fighting to be alive…but my mind didn’t even know that I was slowly killing myself. I was sure that I was still in control and that I would, one day, find perfection if I could only get thin enough and pretty enough.

My point in telling you all of this is simple: we are killing ourselves for the sake of beauty and unattainable perfection. We are so pressured by the world around us and the enemy within us, that we believe the message that we’re not and never will be good enough. We put ourselves and our bodies through physical and mental anguish for the approval, praise, and acceptance of others. We rarely even stop to consider the rationality of what we’re doing; the eating disordered mind no longer understands rationality.

2 Corinthians 4:16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

The normal, rational, logical mind tells a person to eat when they are hungry. But the irrational and illogical eating disordered/distorted body image mind has been physically conditioned to find euphoria and happiness in the feeling of hunger.

I’m fairly certain that pretty much every girl and woman has at some time in their lives struggled with body image issues. I’m sure we’ve all experiences the heart-breaking pain of believing we are ugly…for whatever reason.

Maybe an eating disorder isn’t your struggle to find to beauty. Maybe your body image issues show themselves in another way. Maybe you overeat and try to make yourself unattractive so that you will never have to feel the shameful, sensual touch of a man ever again. Maybe you are obsessed with exercise, you work your body past it’s breaking point so that you can find the power to fight back. Maybe you go under the knife, you choose surgery as a way to get rid of the things you don’t want and add the things you do want. Maybe you use alcohol in an attempt to “loosen up” and be more social and friendly. Maybe you cut yourself to cope with the guilt and shame of not being enough. Maybe you jump from one relationship to another; giving your body away to every man you meet, just hoping that someone will stay, that someone will love you.

The list could go on and on…but I think you get the picture.

Our culture, our society, the messages we push out, not only to young girls – but to girls and women of all ages…it all points us to a gut-wrenching lie that we’re not good enough and, no matter what, we’ll never be good enough.

1 Samuel 16:7The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

But as hard as it is to believe, and I say it like that because I often have a hard time believing this myself, you are enough. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved. You are cherished. You are the daughter of a King.

Song of Solomon 4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Can we, for just a minute, step back, close our eyes, and stop focusing on the world and the pain that is right in front of us. Let’s look further beyond what we can see. Instead of finding our value in the mirror, let’s look at our hearts.

Proverbs 31:30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

I know that it is easy to hear all these things and think, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me. You don’t know the things I’ve done.” And you are absolutely right, I don’t know the things you’ve done or the circumstances of your life, but I can bet that whatever it is that you think you’ve done or been through that is too much for God – I’ve probably done it too. I thought the same thing, I thought I was too far gone. I never thought He would reach out to me…but He did, and He wants to do the same thing for you.

Romans 8:6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

After living most of my life in my distorted mind, I thought God could never use me. But I was seriously wrong, He has already used me and is continuing to use me on a daily basis. I still struggle with body image and eating issues. I still, quite often, fail to see myself the way God, my husband, or anyone else does. And to be quite honest, I will probably never be able to actually see myself in that way.

So ultimately, it comes down to a choice. Am I willing to accept that I am perfectly imperfect? That God cares about me in spite of and because of myself? That even though I may not see Him moving or active in my life, He loves me anyway? Am I willing to believe that I have made choices that have steered me away from Him? That my own sins have drawn me further and further away from the truth? That I have spent much of my life “spitting in God’s face” by trying to destroy my body; the very body that He created? Am I willing to confront my past and look to God for comfort and reassurance when my pain feels too great?

Matthew 7:13-14Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It’s your choice. A choice that must be made on a daily basis. What will you choose?


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