Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges.

Hope for love

4 Comments

For many couples affected by mental illness, this Valentine’s Day won’t be about candle-lit dinners, flowers, or romantic dates; looking forward to the future or reminiscing about the past. It will be about getting through and trying to understand; making amends and holding onto hope. It will be about breaking down the walls around our hearts that we put there to protect ourselves and help us to co-exist without being permanently in pain.

For me, this song really captures those feelings of anger and hurt that have been so much a part of my married life for the last three years. The images convey so clearly that sense of frustration at being completely unable to reach through to someone who is only a few feet away. But it also conveys a  sense of holding onto hope in the face of pain, and fighting to keep a connection alive. It’s an urgent encouragement to keep the plane in the air and to try and navigate back to where the journey started, and to how things used to be.

“I wanna turn the clock….
Right back to where it was
So let’s build a bridge….
From your side to mine
I’ll be the one to cross over
Just tell me it’s not the end of the line

I never meant to break your heart
I won’t let this plane go down
I never meant to make you cry
I’ll do what it takes to make this fly…”

[Olly Murs and Demi Lovato – Up]

There are so many Valentine’s cards you can’t buy if you and your relationship are struggling because of mental health difficulties, because the messages simply don’t feel appropriate. This Valentine’s Day I won’t be saying ‘be my Valentine now and forever’, but ‘be my co-pilot on this rescue mission’. I won’t be saying ‘hold me tight’ but ‘hold onto hope’. If I can knock through even a couple more bricks in the wall between us this Valentine’s Day, that will be worth more than a hundred candle-lit dinners and a thousand red roses.

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4 thoughts on “Hope for love

  1. I appreciated this post – you have a keen insight into what it feels like to be unable to reach somebody else. It’s a different kind of relationship, but I had this problem with my mother for a long time. I was always upset with her for how she mistreated me in childhood, and couldn’t see that she had changed and become more kind and open in the present. So I kept not feeling connected to her and, honestly, hating her for a long time. Eventually I went to family therapy with her and that helped a lot. Being in the room with a therapist I liked made it hard for me to constantly see my mom as “bad” at the same time. It helped that it was a therapist I really trusted who I had already worked with a lot individually. Are you or your partner open to counseling together?

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    • Thank you so much, and I’m glad it touched you in some way. I guess I know what it feels like to be unable to ‘reach’ my therapist, and I can see how my husband feels about me, and to a great extent, how I feel about him these days as well. I think it’s amazing you went to family therapy with your mother, particularly given how strongly you felt. I cannot conceive of ever doing that with my parents – I have in essence a fairly monosyllabic relationship with them these days, and will not show them any emotion at all. One of my greatest fears is them finding out about my mental health difficulties. With both my current therapist and with Jane, I made it quite clear I have ‘written off’ that relationship in the sense that I’m not up for changing it. I want to understand it, and understand issues I faced when growing up, but it’s inconceivable to me that I could ever address those with them, and become vulnerable in that way. I have a huge amount of respect for the fact that you did that.
      I know what you mean, though, about being in the room with a therapist you’re close to, making it difficult to see someone they’re talking about as ‘bad’. I have a similar experience when I talk to my therapist about my husband. Her empathy but also her view on things, do help me to see things a little more from his point of view and at least sympathise, even if I may not agree. He seems ‘more human’ when viewed through her eyes. As for joint counselling…..it used to be that I didn’t think it would work because I couldn’t see how we could ever talk about stuff when it might impinge upon things that were part of my own therapy, and that I didn’t want to discuss. Then I changed my mind and was willing to consider it, but by that stage, he had withdrawn so much, it was him who thought it wouldn’t work. I think we may both be more open to the idea, but practically speaking, awful though it sounds, I’m not sure if I have the mental capacity and energy. I’m in therapy twice a week myself and barely have time to process those sessions, or else my head is constantly in them – I have no idea how I would cope with a third weekly therapy session. The other practicalities are do-able, but would still need a lot of thinking about and planning. I would need to tell lots of people at church and get some sort of rota going for baby-sitting cover once a week, in the evenings – I think that’s the only way we could manage it…..thank you again for commenting, and I am so very glad you managed to get to a better place with your mother. Although we’re not at this point in joint counselling, I’m hoping my own therapy will lead to improvements in my marriage, and very very slowly, I think that is happening. I think things would go much faster, and the burden wouldn’t fall so much on just me, if we were in joint counselling, but at the moment, I think this is the only way I can cope with things…

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  2. In addition to your strategy you could both ignore this commercial event entirely. It is not compulsory.

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    • Indeed 🙂 I hope you had a good day, whether you chose to ignore it or not! We semi-ignored it, as we tend to do, I must admit. Take-away and a film, rather than extortionate restaurant meals! And a couple of small presents rather than flowers and chocolates. It was definitely a brick-dismantling rather than a romantic event, but I’m very very grateful for that indeed. Thank you for commenting 🙂

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