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I Will Never Say Goodbye

I Will Never Say Goodbye

A while back I wrote a blog for a dear friend of mine, who is battling cancer. For those of you who may not recall, or did not read it, my friend is the reason I write. She is the reason I share my story so openly in writing and on my podcast. We have never met. We’ve only chatted on the phone and text, and on Twitter, which is where we originally met five or six years ago. I had just been diagnosed with a handful of illnesses including Borderline Personality Disorder, and had just started up on Twitter, discovering an enormous mental health community. She was one of the first people I followed. Something about her screamed “safe person” which doesn’t happen to me often. Many people with BPD were traumatized or neglected in their childhood, so when we started to chat and no red flags were popping up, I started to slowly let her in. We shared our stories, our journeys and our lives with each other, and although they were drastically different, the emotions we felt from our situations were basically the same.

Fast forward a few years, and not only is she a dear friend, but she has become like a second mom. I lost my mom when I was 19, but felt my friend held the qualities that my mom would have had, should she have lived. Without her encouragement and support, I would not be getting published in three separate anthology books this year; I would never have had a blog, and certainly not a podcast. She stuck with me during my often long, depressive episodes, reassuring me that things will work out eventually. She has my back, without question. I am not sure I believe in unconditional love between humans, but if there was or is such a thing, she would be the closest thing I have to compare to my idea of what it “should” be. Shit, if I’m being brutally honest, she is a huge reason I continue to not succumb to the illnesses. You see, my friend has been battling for her life, literally, for the past few years. If she is brave and strong enough to fight the evil that is cancer, then I must somehow summon the strength to continue fighting the darkness that calls me so often. I have to stay strong. I have to be a rock of support for her. As I tell her every time we chat…anything, anytime.

I fucking hate cancer. It has taken so many lives, for not only me, but hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is insidious, non-discriminatory and vile. It tears people away from their loved ones, far before it is their time to go. It left a permanent hole in my heart and soul when it took away my mom, and yes, time may ease the pain a bit, but nothing will fill the void that feels as vast as the universe itself. My friend is a true fighter. She has tried every possible chemotherapy treatment, endured the pain of radiation and even had a stem cell transplant. Things were looking up for some time. The cancer went into remission for a while, but like a snake in the grass, it reared its ugly head, spread out and attacked. Every effort was given by the doctors, and despite her loving sense of stubbornness, and great sense of faith, this cancer is now terminal.

It kills me inside knowing I am utterly helpless, and unable to fix this, or take the pain away for her. As most of you know, I have spent most of the days of my life with suicidal thoughts and actions, so in a millisecond I would trade places with her. She has a loving family, a good life. It should not be her time; it should be mine, so she can continue to enjoy the life she deserves. Sadly, there is no swap button or I would have hit that when she first got sick. There is no fairness or sense to when someone’s time is up and there certainly is no way to prepare for the pain that you know is coming with unstoppable force. I have lost a few people since my mom, but no one close enough to put another hole in my heart; another void in my soul…until now. I am not ready.

I’m writing this blog, because I cannot keep the tears from falling for long enough to express it properly. As soon as I think about it, I feel the tightness in my chest, the quivering in my voice and the burning sensation behind my eyes, which are desperately trying to contain some of the tears. I write this because I cannot bring myself to say goodbye. I just can’t. I won’t.  I don’t know how to. I know how to provide her the best support I can. I know how to love her, and listen, but letting go is just surreal to me. I think it is fair to say most people don’t like to say goodbye in most situations, not just with death, but people with BPD usually have attachment issues, so letting go can feel like someone tearing a layer of your skin off, inch by inch, leaving exposed nerves which for us, represent feelings, so even the slightest tug on your skin can cause indescribable pain. I have stopped and started this blog for hours. None of the words seem right; perhaps because there are no right words. I hope the brief letter below manages to somehow express all my emotions, and conveys to her, the importance and influence she has had, and continues to have in my life. This, by far is the hardest thing I have ever had to write in my life.

My dear friend; you are my confidante; my source of strength; my fountain of positivity; my inspiration, and so much more. I know time is not in our favour, and these words may be premature and not necessary at the moment, but I wanted and needed you to know what I simply can’t say. You know how much I love you, and that you’ve become not only one of my closest friends, but the closest thing I’ve had to feeling “mothered” in almost 30 years. You have given me unconditional support, encouragement and most importantly, unconditional love. Not for a single moment did I ever feel unloved or worthless. You challenged my thoughts and made me feel that unconditional love between people is possible. It may be the only time I experience that, so I want to thank you for filling a small part of the enormous void in my life. I want you to know how much your encouragement and belief in me meant, and the huge factor it had in helping me discover the paths I am on now. My blogs, the chapters for books, my podcast, all because you never doubted my abilities, and constantly reminded me that I would succeed, and that you were proud of me for achieving these things, despite my fear of failure. Your strength fighting this horrible illness, kept me alive more times than I could count…after all, if you could stay strong enough to keep fighting cancer, I had to stay strong enough to fight life.

Now, we face a different path; one that will physically separate us but will never be able to divide the bond that we have. You are a part of my heart, and I will carry that with me always. I will miss you so very much. I will miss our chats and texts. I will miss your words of support and encouragement. I will miss hearing you say I love you, but I won’t forget that you do and always will, and not even death can stop that. I know that you know I would trade places with you in a millisecond if I could. I wouldn’t even think twice, but that is a wish that unfortunately I cannot make come true. If I could, you know I would be sitting beside you through your journey, and I would never leave your side, however a few thousand kilometres makes that not a possibility. Please know that my heart, my love and strength is there for you 24/7. Not a moment passes that you don’t cross my mind, or that I am not sending you as much light, as I can muster. It has taken me a few days and thousands of tears to get this letter to this point, but I can’t seem to find the courage or the words to wrap it up. What can I say aside from thank you; thank you for being in my life and allowing me the privilege of being in yours. Thank you for never leaving me, for loving me and for your unwavering belief in me. Well, you know I don’t do goodbyes well at all, so I am not going to say it. I will finish simply with this…I love you and I always will. You will never be forgotten. We’ll see each other again one day soon. May you find your peace.

Until we meet again.

The Misinformation of BPD

The label Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) does not do justice to the emotions felt by those affected. Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder is likely to be the replacement, which is getting closer to describing what we go through. The problem is the “symptoms” of BPD are in such a broad spectrum, they cross over into many other mental illnesses. As I started to learn more about BPD, I was disgusted to see the number of articles that enforced the theory that because BPD is primarily treated with therapy and behavioral changes, it is not an illness, but rather an excuse for being manipulative and abusive; another reason to not take responsibility for the impulsive behaviors and the suicidal thoughts that are seen merely as cries for attention. The amount of stigma and misinformation out there is baffling.

Let me tell you firsthand that life with BPD can be an emotional hell.  I wish there was a pill to help alleviate the symptoms, because it certainly is easier to swallow a pill than it is the truth. I would love to get up in the morning, pop a tablet and have even one day that my mind is not an emotional battleground. It is so effortless compared to the work required digging through your past, and the difficulty in unlearning things you have done your whole life. The behaviors have been repeated so often they have become a part of who you are, or at least who you think you are, and unlearning them is incredibly difficult and painful.

Understand that our mood swings are so intense that they are either at one end of the spectrum or the other. There is little to no middle ground. We are either in a state of hyper or hypo arousal, which basically means we are constantly on guard, whether it be during an up period or a bout of depression. We have little control over the timing of our moods swings happen or for how long they will last. We are on high alert because we are constantly afraid. We lack a solid sense of self which not only enables our fear but causes us to be afraid of our own reactions to things. We are terrified of being abandoned or left in any manner and the smallest inclination of someone doing so can send us into an emotional and verbal frenzy.

 We are not trying to manipulate or abuse anyone, and if it comes across as doing so, please know there is absolutely no intent or malice involved. Our lack of impulse control is perhaps the most difficult part of having BPD. We may be ok one minute and the next we are spewing words we will end up wanting to take back. There is no rational mind when we are triggered by something, we are running completely emotively and our reactions are so instantaneous that the situation quickly spirals out of control. We fear being left so much that we say something in one breath and are apologizing in the next. We want you so close we hold on too tight and then fear of abandonment takes over and we push you away and then reach to pull you back as quickly as possible for fear of being alone. All this can occur in a timespan so short we hardly have time to process what has just happened.

As for suicidal thoughts or self-harm, they too are ruled by our lack of self-control. In no way are they cries for attention. At the time they are uncontrollable, instant reactions driven by our emotive brain, and that theory is largely supported by the incredibly high number of suicide attempts involving people with BPD. Cutting is, once again, an impulsive way to try and alleviate the emotional distress we are under at the time, an instant distraction from the pain. When we are of rational mind, we are aware of all of these things we do. We know our behaviors are impulsive and wrong, we just don’t know yet how to stop them. We punish ourselves in any way possible, physically and mentally, questioning every word we have said, every word said by others, and words not yet spoken. We are harsher and more critical of ourselves than we would ever be to someone else. There is nothing anyone can say to me that my inner critic has not already said a lot more harshly and multiple times.

So if you happen to be someone researching BPD, be it for yourself or someone else, please take what you read with the proverbial grain of salt. We are not manipulative, selfish, abusive monsters. We do not do things to hurt other people, we are just quicker to self-protect. We are still the people we were before we were diagnosed, and sadly that is too easily forgotten. We are the same as you except we wear our emotions on the outside, whether we like it or not.

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