Tag Archives: Self-Harm

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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7-in-7 Day 4: Hope in Redemption

She was broken
But didn’t understand why
She smiled and agreed
Looked good on the outside
She tried fitting in
So she hid her hurt
She was afraid to admit
She was getting worse
She was starving herself
She longed for beauty
She ached to be perfect
Assuming it was her duty
Who could she tell
The horrible truth
She wanted to die
She felt broken and used
Every once in a while
Someone would notice
So she’d open her heart
Just to later regret it
She wanted to be happy
She wanted to be okay
But she had accepted
She’d never see the day

That’s when she found relief
In breaking her skin
For just one moment
She’d forget the pain she was in
She would watch the blood fall
And for a moment feel strong
But that small bit of strength
Never lasted too long
So she kept on doing it
Over and over
It became an addiction
She needed more to feel better
That’s all she knew
It’s how she dealt with the pain
It bubbled up to the surface
And she pushed it away

This only lasted for a season
Until she needed a change
She had to find a better way
To hide all her shame
So alcohol and drugs
Made their way to her hands
And in those moments
She found strength to stand
But she was standing on rocks
That would soon leave her shattered
And she was left to believe
Her life never mattered

Why couldn’t she shake
This feeling of being lost
She kept trying harder
No matter the cost
She worked herself to the bone
She had to achieve more
But was this really something
She was willing to die for?

That’s when something changed
God showed her grace
She saw who He was
In light of her mistakes
His love covered her
As she dropped down in tears
His arms embraced her
And pushed out her fears
“Why do You love me?
I’ve sinned way too much.”
She cried through her tears
As she clung to His love
He replied to her gently
“You are My daughter.
There’s nothing you can say or do
To lose the love of your Father.
Yes, you have sinned
And you’ve made big mistakes.
You’re broken and human
But I offer you grace.
Come humbly to Me
Give me your life
And I’ll give you hope
A future, a life.”

So she did as He said
She laid herself down
Before the cross she bowed
And He gave her His crown
She still has her struggles
This world is still broken
But she clings to the truth
Of hope in redemption


My Ankle Hurts: An Analogy for life

It’s 1 am and I am wide awake…so I’m going to tell you a story. The story I want to tell you is about my ankle. Bear with me for a minute, even at 1 am, I know that probably sounds crazy…but I promise, I have a point.

For nearly my entire life, my ankle has been weak. But where did that begin? I’m really not sure. I don’t remember the first time I twisted/sprained it – I just know it’s ALWAYS been that way. Over the years, my ankle got more and more out of whack, but my body learned to adapt. So now, after many years of learning to adapt to life with stretched ligaments in my ankle – I’ve gotten used to it. It’s part of my life and part of who I am. My body still functions just fine and it doesn’t really prevent me from doing the things I love.

Until now.

Last week I went to the doctor for a severe pain in my calf. There were a few different possibilities for what it could have been – popliteal artery entrapment, compartment syndrome, or pulled/torn muscle. I never really gave any thought to my ankle being the root of the problem. As the doctor examined my leg, he also looked at my ankle. As he turned my ankle, a look of deep concern came across his face.

“Does this hurt?” He asked as he turned my ankle further than it should go.

“No. Should it?” I answered. “My ankle has always been that way. I hurt it as a kid and I have stretched ligaments in it.”

The doctor looked at me with a bit of frustration and relief. He chuckled as he said, “You know that’s something you need to tell me.”

“Yeah, my bad,” I laughed, “I’ve just always had a crap ankle, so I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just kind of a part of who I am.”

The doctor’s original orders were to rest my leg for two weeks. No running. No working out. I had to take a break from running and Insanity classes – those were the only outlets I had for my stress and frustration and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to punch the doctor in his face for that.

It has now been a week since I saw that doctor. In this past week I have seen two other doctors, had an MRI done, worn an ankle brace, and seen a physical therapist. The final decision: the calf pain is still a mystery, BUT everyone is fairly certain that the root of the pain is the weakness in my ankle.

After 15+ years of living life with a weak ankle, my calf has learned to overcompensate and to support and stabilize my leg in ways that my ankle should be doing. In most people, this extra usage of muscular energy would be painful, but for me, it’s become normal. Really, at some point I just started to assume that my ankle would just always be that way, nothing would make it better, and I would just need to learn how to live with it. When I started running and doing Insanity classes though, my calf decided it couldn’t handle the extra work anymore and it started hurting.

Now, I get to pretty much live in an ankle brace as I go through physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and help take some of this pressure off of my calf. Wearing this ankle brace at all times, hurts! My ankle has been so used to being in a stretched position, that now it actually hurts for it to be in the anatomically correct position. And sometimes, the pain makes me want to give up this whole thing. But, I am frequently reminded that if I quit, I will go back to having that same, sometimes excruciating pain, in my leg. My ankle needs to heal CORRECTLY if I want it to function properly.

If you have stuck around and actually read all about my ankle/calf, you are lucky enough to find out WHY I wanted to share this story.

Because this is almost a perfect analogy for the “Christian” life.

Two years ago I was an unbeliever. I thought I was living my life the best I could. I thought I was free to do as I pleased. I thought I was just fine even though I was not very happy. I don’t really know exactly where the unhappiness began, it just seems to have always been there. Sexual abuse. Eating disorder. Self-harm. Abortion. Alcohol and drug abuse. Perfectionism. People pleasing. Control. It’s all just been a part of who I was. I hadn’t enjoyed it, but I had found my identity in it. The only choice I had after that was to cope – to adapt.

But then Jesus came into my life and flipped it upside down. Just like the doctor who looked at my ankle, Jesus looked at me with deep concern. Just like that doctor, Jesus needed me to be honest with Him about my past in order to heal me in the present. Just like that doctor, Jesus wanted me to get better so that I may live a full life. Just like I didn’t know my ankle needed healing until the doctor told me, I didn’t know my life needed healing until Jesus shined His light on it.

I fought at first; I was angry. I thought my life was just fine. I wasn’t happy, but I had learned to adapt. I had learned how to live my life with many spiritual, mental, and emotional wounds. Just like with my ankle, it wasn’t ideal, but I had gotten comfortable. I had learned to adapt because my wounds were just a part of who I was.

Luke 19:10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.

I was lost, and when you’re lost – you want to be comfortable. But Jesus came to find me and now that He had found me, He was telling me it was time to leave my comfort zone. He told me that it was time to quit living a life that I had just adapted to and that it was time that I learned to live life abundantly – something He promised He can give me. Everything I thought I knew up to that point didn’t make any sense anymore.

I felt like I’d gone too far. Jesus still reached out for me. I had trust issues. Jesus wanted me to trust Him. I had abandonment issues. Jesus wanted me to accept His love. I was scared. Jesus wanted to give me courage. I felt alone. Jesus wanted to be with me. I felt trapped. Jesus wanted to set me free. I felt weak. Jesus was strong.

It didn’t matter what my excuse was, Jesus had an answer for every single one. He really wanted me to let Him heal me, even though it was going to hurt. He promised me it’d be worth it and He promised me that we were going to do this together. He would be with me every step of the way – even when I want to quit. And in those times, He’ll remind me of why we are doing this – why the life He wants me to live is better than the life I was living.

Over the last two years, Jesus and I have fought, quite a bit, about whether or not I am letting Him heal me. And in case you are wondering, He always wins. He has given me a “treatment plan” and tells me to stick to it, to follow His direction and I will get better.

But, you see, my problem is this thing called stubbornness. I am stubborn and I DON’T like being told what to do – even when I know it’s what’s best for me. I often fail to follow His treatment plan and I go off and do my own thing. It never takes long though, for life to start hurting again and for me to go running straight back to Him.

On this side of Heaven, I will never be perfectly healed – but Jesus is continuing to heal me a little more every day…as long I’m willing to come to Him.

I’ll be going to physical therapy for the next 4-8 weeks in order to get my ankle back to where it should be.

Just like physical therapy for my ankle, I need to choose to go to Jesus, every day, to get my life back to where I should be – to where He made me to be.

It’s not easy. It’s painful. And some days, it just plain sucks. But it is my ONLY option if I want to actually live my life instead of just surviving it.


No Looking Back

When I became a Christian, I wanted nothing more than to leave my old life behind me; but my old life was holding onto me with a death-grip. I really didn’t want to leave my past behind me though; after all, it was fun and I was in control, so what was the big deal? The big deal was that I was living behind a mask. I didn’t want my Christian friends to know about my struggles or the very “un-Christian” aspects of my life.

But apparently, God wanted me to trust Him and allow Him in to those scary, untouched parts of my life. He wanted me to share my life, my hurts, and my struggles with other believers. At the time, I thought this was the most ridiculous thing God could ever ask of me.

Nearly two years and lots of tears, emotional meltdowns, sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, and fear later – God had brought me through so much and it is safe to say that I am no longer the person I used to be. I have been set free from self-harm, depression, a love and relationship addiction, and the effects of abortion and sexual abuse. God has proven Himself, over and over, in my life. He hasn’t failed me yet; but somehow, I still struggle with letting God into all parts of my past.

Recently, I have begun a new phase of my recovery. A phase that, in all honesty, I don’t want to go through. I want change, but I don’t want to do the work required to change. I don’t really want to change my behavior, rather I’d just like to change the pain I feel while still doing what’s bad for me. Yes, I am fully aware how illogical that sounds. But that’s the problem, when our minds get distracted by things of this world and we lose our focus on God, things start to get illogical.

In the midst of my shame, guilt, anger, and self-pity, God gave me a beautiful gift today. He gave me a reminder of where my hope lies; a reminder that He loves me, that He cares about me, and that He will calm my fears.

I walked outside this evening and I was immediately blown away by the beauty of the evening sky – the way the light shined through the clouds and the sun’s rays beamed…it was, for me, just a small slice of what Heaven must be like.

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But in that moment, while I marveled at the beauty of God’s creation, I turned around. That’s when I saw the darkness of the storm clouds behind me.

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Standing in the same place, I could see two totally different perspectives – if I looked ahead of me, I saw light, hope, strength, and beauty…but behind me, there was sorrow, pain, and darkness. I saw all these things without moving an inch, it only depended on which direction I choose to look.

This is, basically, the exact definition of my life right now…I can look ahead at the light and hope that God offers me or I can look behind me at my failures and pain and be stuck in the darkness. I don’t have to move to be able to see the light, I just have to choose to look at it, it’s my choice.

You see, for the last few weeks, I’ve been looking back; looking at the depth of my sin and the greatness of guilt and shame. Looking back into the darkness had drawn me away from the light and the things I know to be true. I have felt like God was distant from me, and now I ask myself – who moved, God or me? Clearly, the answer is me.

I moved away from Him because I wanted control in my out of control life…even though I have a pretty long track record of not being able to control anything in my life and just creating an even bigger mess than when I started.

I don’t want to give up the facade of control that I convince myself that I had (even though I KNOW that’s a lie). I want to do things on my own without facing the pain. I don’t want to do what’s right because, right now, what’s right is also what’s hard…and I don’t want to deal with the hard part.

So here’s, yet another, giant leap of faith on my road to recovering from my past. I know that God knows better than I do; He knows the master plan while I can only see the small space that I occupy. I know that this new phase of recovery will be painful. It will hurt, but I’m trusting that it will be worth it. God hasn’t let me down yet, I doubt He’s going to start now.

I’m tired of looking at my past and feeling discouraged by the darkness that surrounds it. I will CHOOSE (yes, it is a choice…a painful choice…but a choice nonetheless) to look ahead of me, to look at God and seek the light. I will CHOOSE to keep moving, even when it hurts, trusting that Jesus is right there next to me. I CHOOSE to not beat myself up when I fall (because I’m sure I will fall along the way). I CHOOSE to place my hope in my Savior and not in myself. I CHOOSE to celebrate the little victories and not get caught up in the set-backs.

Philippians 3:13-14,16No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us…But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

I CHOOSE TO STOP LOOKING BACK!


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