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 under the name Clara Bridges.

Therapy Tales No. Etc- Death and Trauma. Fun.

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This wonderful post captures thoughts and feelings I have always had – am having right now – but have not yet articulated. Over the last two years I have been doing incredibly important work in therapy, but I’ve always wondered when I would be able to start talking about death, and about time, and about the fact that the latter is always running out, and running towards the former. Though I have spoken about some incredibly difficult and painful topics in therapy, I have always been conscious of those topics I have been trying to keep at bay. And yet, the amazing thing about therapy is that, eventually, you come at those topics obliquely. They may be too hard to face talking about, but eventually, the process of therapy, and the therapeutic relationship itself, bring them to the forefront of your mind – one way or another.

So many of the sentences in this post resonate with me, and stick in my mind: “Losses, fears, love – that’s basically it”. Yes, that’s basically it for what I’m experiencing in therapy right now. And somehow the loss of a cancelled session turns into the loss of therapy (eventually), which turns into the loss of my therapist (eventually, through death), and suddenly every loss going back decades is present in the imagined but real grief of those future losses.

“Memory is important to me. Memory is evasive to me”. I have so few concrete memories of my past; I find it so hard to remember. But because I’m petrified of death and of ‘time running out’, I am consumed by making the most of my time, and the way that I know I have done that, is by ‘making memories’. I find the first few days of any holiday incredibly stressful and put a huge amount of pressure on myself to ‘do stuff’. Once I have ‘made some memories’ I calm down a little. But it is for me, as the author of this post has written: “….he thinks ‘experiences’, I think ‘memories’. Already living in the past tense”. And when I think of the future, it’s about how the future will become the past, and must be ‘captured’ and ‘stored’ – forgetting about the fact that the most important thing is for it to be experienced.

But when memory is so important to you, it is so painful when it is also evasive. Because it becomes another form of loss – loss of memory, of the very thing that links you to the object or person you lost in the first place. My therapist often talks about the importance of memories, particularly when I am very distressed about the fact that our therapy will end at some point, and I will lose her. She talks about how I will have internalised her, and will have our memories to hold onto. “Memory is all we have, really”. But what if I cannot remember? What if all those memories of her, become evasive too?

I love the phrase: “…[we’ve] pulled a thread, and I want the jumper back”. I have wanted certain things to stay covered up. I have wanted not to tackle the things that may unravel me. But a few months ago I started pulling that thread, and more and more, death and loss keep staring out at me through the growing holes in the jumper. I can’t evade them anymore; but perhaps I will discover some memories that I thought I’d lost – and create some new ones in the process.

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive

Therapy is ending soon.

Losses, fears, love- that’s basically it. Losses of things I loved- including animals (I know pets die, but mine in sudden, cruel ways I can’t go into here but which haunt me) and people. They all died lonely, premature, unfair, painful deaths. As soon as I really understood what death really was (which happened when I had another loss- my friend who killed herself when I was 15), I have been completely heartbroken ever since. Of what life is. Of feeling. Of finality. Of memory. I can’t bear it, any of it. That’s when the fear really started. I’d always been afraid of my parents’ death, i obsessed over it. But that was my first big loss, of someone I’d seen so recently, so young, so similar to me. We were all steeped in bullshit pop music mythology, playing with self harm. But she died. Alone…

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4 thoughts on “Therapy Tales No. Etc- Death and Trauma. Fun.

  1. Should you ever wish to look at the issue of death in a rather academic way, “The Denial of Death” is a Pulitzer Prize winner and one of the great books of the twentieth century. Going much farther back, death was something the Stoic philosophers of antiquity talked lots about: Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

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    • Thank you:) I am amassing a collection of excellent suggestions of music and reading and, as with all things, wish I had more time! I’m not sure what it would mean to look at it in a rather academic way – most of my life I have been absolutely determined not to look at it at all! Even looking at it in an academic way feels like it would take a greater level of engagement than I have been prepared to give it in the past….interestingly, events in my therapist’s life have ‘intruded’ (as she calls it, though in fact, it does not feel like an intrusion) in a way that means that the subject of death and loss is getting a much earlier and deeper airing than it might otherwise have done, within my therapy…..

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  2. I wonder,is it common for people with BPD to have very few memories and what the reason is behind it? I’m like you, I feel this unrelenting need to make memories, mostly through photography. I often feel that I actually miss out on the actual moment because I am so hell bent on recording it. I’ve been horrible about writing in my personal and nature journals all summer and I fear now that I’ve lost those moments…just the pictures now, but no words to go with. When I read what you write, I sometimes sob out loud, like today, because once again I feel your validation of my own feelings on this topic. Thanks again for your words, they mean a lot.

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    • Thank you so much for your wonderful and kind words, which mean a great deal to me. I’m sorry to make you cry! But very glad if those tears are from a sense of validation, because I know how important it is to feel validated (until such time as we can somehow manage to self-validate!). I’m not sure if it something related to the physiology or psychology or BPD, but I have certainly come across other bloggers with BPD who similarly share the fact that they have few concrete memories. Like you, I fear I have lost so many moments I haven’t written down – although I write a fair amount about therapy in my blog, it’s all those ‘little moments’ that are constantly escaping me, that I agonise over and wonder if I will remember. ‘Little moments’, but so important and beautiful in their ordinariness – it hurts to feel them gone and imagine I won’t ever be able to recapture them. I think, maybe, we have to trust that they will come to us when we need them. That even when they’re not at the forefront of our minds, they are there, somewhere, to draw upon when we might need them most, when they might surprise us anew…..Thank you again for sharing your experience, and keep in touch….

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