Over this holiday period, I actually did something incredibly stupid.
I came off my medication.
My holiday started on the 17th of December, as the last college week my class had was actually an assessment week, so we didn’t have scheduled class time as all our coursework was in for assessment with our lecturers.
For a variety of reasons I started to forget to take my medications (the biggest being massive changes in my routine throw me) and, despite telling myself I should start taking them before I crash, I kept doing it.
But it lead to a realisation.
I like watching things to wind down. TV shows, anime, cartoons. And there were certain points in them where I could tell the writer was trying to get an emotional reaction out of me, but hadn’t quite done the legwork to make me feel like that. I didn’t care for the characters. And so, normally, it wouldn’t get the emotional reaction the writer was going for from me.
But I was starting to cry.
I knew, intellectually, I had no reason to cry. I knew the writing was bad. I could reason all I liked that I shouldn’t actually be crying. I wasn’t moved.
But I was still crying.
And I’ve been thinking about this on and off for the last few weeks. Over the last few weeks, I’ve put myself back on the medications. I’ve actually done a lot of the legwork I needed to do to re-stabilize myself. Because while I hadn’t fallen into the depths of depression like I usually would, everything was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I know what it is now. I couldn’t emotionally disengage.
You see, any other time I could watch the tv-show with the wanky writing and make comments to myself about it. I could laugh about overly-dramatic scenes and the writers failure to make me feel for the characters. Intellectually I could do this still. But emotionally I couldn’t disengage from the characters emotions, regardless of how believable or not they were.
And that’s life for me and many of the other people out there with Borderline Personality Disorder.
There have been times for me when someone, a stranger, has insulted me. And while I don’t know this person, and this person obviously doesn’t know me, I’ve struggled to move past it. What they’ve said, I know, intellectually, has no bearing on me as a person. It was a random moment in someone else’s life where they felt so bad they felt they had no choice but to insult me, and maybe they’ve hit on a sore point or maybe they haven’t. I still haven’t been able to work through it or past it.
So I talk to friends, and they tell me I’m over reacting. I shouldn’t care. They dismiss it as a non-issue because in all actuality it is a non-issue.
But the issue isn’t the insult. The issue is the fact I cannot emotionally disengage from the insult. I can know intellectually that this shouldn’t upset me all I like, it doesn’t matter because it still fucking upsets me.
It’s this inability to reconcile the difference between my intellectual knowledge about a situation and my level of emotional engagement with that situation that, for me, has been a large part of my experience of my disorder.
And I am insanely lucky that something as simple as an anti-depressant medication helps me dial back my feelings and bring my emotional engagement more in-line with my knowledge of a situation. Don’t get me wrong, they are still out of whack. But it dials it back from “completely unbearable” to “okay, I can deal with this if I work at it”.
I know a lot of people who don’t get this relief.
People question as to why, nine years later, I’m still on these medications. Doctors, actual medical practitioners who hold my access to these medications in their hands, have smiled at me knowingly when I say to them I don’t feel I’ll ever be off them (I don’t fucking want to be), and given me the line, “we’ll see”, as if they’re the keepers of some arcane knowledge I don’t and can’t possibly have.
Hell, just this summer a trainee psychiatrist base lined me – took me off all my medication – just to see what would happen. I felt like a child at the mercy of someone else’s whims.I crashed swiftly and hard, and this might have been part of the reason I didn’t correct myself sooner over this holiday period, because I knew a large part of this crash was because it wasn’t on my terms.
Friends do it, too. They look at me as if acknowledging I’ll be on these medications for a long time to come is giving up. What they don’t get is that these medications give me hope. They lessen the severity of a condition that by all accounts, all scientific knowledge, I will have for the rest of my life. I will always struggle with my mental health. I will always have a disorder that I’m fighting with to live a half-way normal, productive life. But by popping a little blue pill twice a day, I trim that fight back to one I have a chance of winning.