Life in a Bind – BPD and me

My therapy journey, recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I write for , for Planet Mindful magazine, and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by

Connection is hard


The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is ‘Relationships’. Strong relationships are vital to good mental health; but intimacy, vulnerability and connecting with another human being can be very difficult for many with a mental health condition, and in particular, for those with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

connecting with others dexter quote

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Love song

Just as children love to hear the same stories being read to them repeatedly, or like to watch the same films over and over again, I have always listened to music by having a ‘track of the moment’ which I play constantly until its time passes, and then I move onto a different song. The time for which I play a track may be a week, a month, or several months, but while it lasts, I put my ipod on repeat, and the same piece plays over and over and becomes the backdrop to all my thoughts.

My husband, needless to say, is not a fan of this approach, and I have put him off many a track for life by playing it repeatedly in the car. In order to avoid this, I put Sia’s album ‘1000 Forms of Fear’ on in the car the other day, and we listened to it all the way to the end. This tends to be the way I discover new tracks, and on this occasion, I’m so glad I did.

I’m posting a link to this song for three reasons, the first of which is that, quite simply, I love it and wanted to share it. It’s the last track of the album and it’s called ‘Dressed in black’, and has now taken over from Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ as being my ‘play on repeat’ song. I have had a keen interest in Sia since my posts ‘Intensity‘ and ‘Inner child and past child‘ which were triggered by ‘Chandelier’ and the video for it. Sia has a diagnosis of Bipolar II and it’s all too easy to relate to many of the lyrics of her songs, and the intimations of depression, suicidal ideation, desperation, self-harm and darkness, that can sometimes be found in them.

Secondly, it reminds me of my therapist. Having said that, particularly during a therapy break, almost everything reminds me of my therapist as she is almost constantly on my mind. And love songs in particular, remind me of my therapist. Not the traditional romantic type of love songs, but the ‘dark and twisty’ ones generally involving brokenness and salvation. The verses I’ve picked out in the image below, are particularly poignant for me.

Finally, whether you see them more literally in the context of a romantic relationship, or metaphorically in the context of a therapeutic relationship in which one is held and touched in very different but still very intimate ways – this song contains three of the most beautiful lines I think I have ever heard sung. “You took my hand in yours; you started breaking down my walls; and you covered my heart in kisses.”

Sia dressed in black_2


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“The song [Bonfire Heart] is about no matter who you are no matter where you’re from, it’s about the human condition which is we need to connect with people.” James Blunt

So often, the need for connection feels like an overwhelming and distressing burden to bear. For me, this song lightens the load. At the heart of BPD (and of us all) is a need to be loved. How incredibly complicated the absence or presence of that love can make our lives. For me, the joy of this song is that for just over three minutes, it makes the need for love and connection feel incredibly simple, and uplifting.

“People like us, we don’t need that much; just some one that starts – starts the spark in our bonfire hearts…..”


[This post is dedicated to two beautiful borderline blogger friends of mine, who have found love and connection over the last few months. This song reminds me of you – you know who you are].

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The dialectic of two Katys

“Dialectics”  is a concept in which opposites can be integrated in order to reach a closer, and constantly evolving, approximation to the truth.

There is a certain logic to my randomness – please bear with me. And if the logic is purely my own, I apologise, and would invite you to embrace the randomness, ignore the dialectic, and just enjoy the music.

This post has been born out of the following three things:

My own love of the Katy B song, whose words really resonate with me, and which I often have playing on repeat.

My children’s love of the film Madagascar 3, which incorporates the Katy Perry song, and which I have now seen almost as many times as I have listened to the Katy B song. [Incidentally, it’s amazing what repeated watching can do to the brain. Initially I thought that Madagascar 3 had been created by someone whilst on hallucinogenic drugs. Now I think that it’s a work of genius. Make of that what you will.]

My reading of ‘The Buddha and the Borderline’ by Kiera Van Gelder (which I can heartily recommend, purely on the grounds that although the author’s circumstances were in many ways quite different to my own, I often felt as though she was holding up a mirror to my thoughts, feelings and behaviours). As Dialectical Behaviour Therapy was a key part in the author’s journey of recovery from BPD, the concept of dialectics occurs frequently in the book.

Somehow, these three things came together in my brain, in a way that made a certain kind of sense. The challenge, as with any dialectic, and particularly for me, given my BPD, is to try and hold the words of the second song, alongside the first, without the one negating or diminishing the other. To see that they can both be true, at the same time, and that the reality of one perspective, does not erase the reality of the other.

I immerse myself in the one prevailing feeling, as I do in the one prevailing song that is the soundtrack of my life at any one moment. Perhaps I need to try and mix it up a bit. It may help me to reach a closer approximation to the truth about myself and about my place in the world. It would certainly help my children to broaden their musical tastes beyond singers whose names start with the letter ‘K’.

Katy B – Crying for no reason

“I push all my problems to the back of my brain
A darkness deep inside where I just can’t find my way
How can I walk with a smile? Get on with my day
When I deceived myself pretending it’s all okay.

I tried my best to hold it all together, I know
The strings have worn away and now I’m all exposed
I try to hide it all away on top of the shelf
I can lie to everyone but not to myself.”

Katy Perry – Firework

“You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow.”

[Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was developed by Marsha M. Linehan as a form of psychotherapy specifically designed to help those with self-harming and suicidal behaviours and those with complex mental health disorders which involve severe emotional dysregulation (including Borderline Personality Disorder). It combines cognitive behavioural techniques with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindfulness. In DBT, acceptance and change come through dialectical progress, in which thesis+antithesis=synthesis.]