Funny name turbulence, but that is the word that describes me best when I feel totally overwhelmed. When I am consumed with anger, sadness and pain. When the madness in my head gets too much and the pain inside makes me want to leave me own body. The pressure inside builds until it is so intense I want to scream with the pain. I want to take a knife and cut open my chest, in an attempt to get it out – whatever it is. The swirling thoughts in my head lead me to believe I want to die, that the only is escape is to take my own life.
Until Heidi (my counsellor) mentioned my severe mood swings, I am not even sure I was aware of the problem. But since she pointed it out and mentioned the dreaded BPD I suppose I have become very aware of myself. I think I always have been aware, but more so of late. Because now I have Heidi who constantly points things out and challenges me.
The last few days I have been in a state of turbulence, I am starting to return to “normal” but it is all still fresh, and very raw. So, now seems an appropriate time to reflect and understand what the hell just happened to me?!
For this meltdown for want of a better word, it began with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection and fear of not being good enough. Covid-19 pandemic is causing an economic crisis and my company, like many others are having to make job cuts. Many people have already taken voluntary redundancy but given the situation further headcount reductions are required. A forty-five-day consultation period will commence in just a few weeks. We had a call about the process two days ago and I believe this is when it started. Despite having knowledge of what’s going to happen for a few weeks, listening to this call made it more of a reality. This is a situation that I cannot run from, that I cannot stop, something I have to face it.
The confusion begins
I have two main thought process:
- How can they make me redundant? I am good at what I do, I have skills sets my colleagues do not have. I would challenge the decision if I am selected.
- Of course they will get rid of me, I am useless. I cannot sell myself. What can I offer?
The two thoughts start a battle and option 2 succeeds, of course it does! So, now I want to take voluntary redundancy, because I do not want to wait to be told I am not good enough. I do not want it confirmed that I have been right all along, that I am a failure.
This leads to another thought process:
- I can use the money to follow my dream. Move away and start again, start my own business.
- I will never work again. How will I pay the bills? I cannot cope, I don’t know what to do
Again option 2 wins the battle. To be clear, a positive thought process has never won a single battle. Then panic starts to set in. What will I do with my life, I may as well be dead. Now it feels like the decision has been made, I want to leave, I want to leave today. I do not want to face the process, the acceptance or the denial. I feel under attack. People are judging me, deciding if I am good enough – of course I wont be.
And then the anger starts. I am angry at myself. I am angry because I am a useless failure, always have been and always will be. My attempts to change this, to better myself – academically, career wise and personally – have all been for nothing. Attempts to prove myself are futile. Besides there are too many people to prove myself too and they all want different things.
The need to escape
I cannot face it, so I feel compelled to run. But I cannot run, so I decide to hide. I feel the need to shut off from the world. To hide inside of myself. But I cannot hide, because the thoughts are constant now. My head is spinning and my body reacting. I can feel the pressure building. It is me that I need to escape from. I am scared, I am alone and no one can rescue me.
At this point I need my bed. Sleep will help me escape. This is what I always tell myself. But I cannot sleep, I rarely can, because I need to analyse, to torment myself. When I do sleep the dreams torment me, scare me until I am awake, but the nightmare continues regardless. The night drags on, the more tired I get, the more restless I get. The more restless I get the more the anger builds. Why can’t I sleep? Because I am useless. The night last for an eternity. Only when morning comes do I finally feel ready for sleep. I’m too tired to function, I do not want to face the world. I do not want to face the day.
Somehow I force myself to get out of bed and into the shower. Still the thoughts keep coming. But now I do not know what I am thinking. It’s like being in a really noisy pub. I can’t hear myself think and yet 20 people are trying to have a conversation with me at once. I can only hear odd words from each person, but I am still trying to have the conversations. The noise in deafening. I want to hold my head and scream!
Work is a good distraction
Usually work is a great distraction, I become a different person. Logical, clever and funny. Nothing like the real me, for I am not logical, I am nothing but confused. I am not fun, I am sad.
But today I cannot focus. I am demotivated, demoralised and defeated. Everything I try to do goes wrong. I keep forgetting words, my thoughts suddenly disappear and the sentence I was speaking stops mid-way. There is nothing in my head. What was I saying? What was I doing? I feel the frustration add to the bubbling anger pot in my stomach. More confirmation that I am indeed useless. I cannot bear to talk to anyone today. I want to scream at anyone and everyone to “Fuck off!” Even people that I would usually enjoy chatting and laughing with are suddenly a threat. I cannot tell them how I feel, they would not understand. They do not care about me, I have no one, I have nothing! I hate them, I hate me, I hate everything!
I don’t want to work! What is the point, in a few weeks I wont even have a job?!
I have to isolate myself
Every little sound I hear feels like someone screaming in my ear. Everything I touch makes me want to squeeze it, smash or throw it. I cannot bear my phone, my laptop, music, TV.
I cannot bear any smell, regardless if I would usually find it pleasant or nasty. Everything adds to the anxiety, the desire to run, the desire to hide and the need to escape. I want to scream!!!! I want to hurt myself as causing physical pain will bring me something akin to relief, but not quite relief. It gives me a moment to breathe, it gives me a miniscule amount of space. It allows the suffocating feeling to relent, just enough for me to glimpse at freedom.
I am being squeezed from the outside, I am like a pressure cooker on the inside. I am going to explode and it hurts. Every single fibre of my being is on fire, is burning. The pain is killing me. But I do not know if the pain is real, physical, mental or both. I no longer have the ability to trust myself. I have no idea what I am capable of. What if I was to say something or hurt someone? I have to hurt myself! Think constantly about killing myself; I just want all of this to stop. Somehow I get through the morning, but I am exhausted.
A Facetime with Heidi
I am due to speak to Heidi soon. Again the thought process only has two options:
- Don’t call her, I do not want to talk. I do not want her to witness me twisting into knots. I do not want to hear her voice. I’m angry with her too.
- I’m so alone, I need help. I need to speak to Heidi but I am scared.
It feels like I cannot win. I do not know what I should do. I am terrified of losing her, of her hating me. Of her saying I cannot help you. If I phone I may say or do something I will regret. But if I don’t phone, will I ever speak to her again?
More pain, more anger, more decisions that I feel I cannot make. I do call her, but I don’t know what to say. I cannot hide what is going on inside. How can I pretend to her? I cannot bear to look at her, I do not want her to see me. The call ended in what felt like seconds, but was ½ hour.
I am embarrassed and ashamed. I don’t know what I said to her. My good memory has evaporated, I have no idea what happened. What did I do? What did she see and hear? Was I rude or nasty? See this is why I have never let anyone see my like this! The desire to hurt myself is too strong to ignore.
In that moment of pain I can hear Heidi “Be kind to yourself.” I remember she said to comfort myself.
Retreat to my bedroom
I am exhausted. My body feels like I have been hit by a car. I hurt and ache all over. My eyes are sore and puffy. Again I need my bed. I lay in bed, holding onto my wooden pebble, Heidi’s pebble. How ridiculous that I cannot sleep without that pebble in my hand. I am like a child. I need it to feel safe.
Another long and restless night. I keep saying things out loud. “You are useless!” “You are an idiot!” “Just shoot yourself in the head!” I believe these statements. It is like someone else is saying them to me, I flinch as the words hit my ears. I had no idea I was going to say those words, they just burst out. Like I have no control over myself. But I am glad it is myself that I say them too. If I were to say these things to others I would hurt them. Regardless of the hate I think I feel towards people, I don’t want to hurt anyone, not really.
At 4 am this morning I was wide awake. Another night with almost no sleep. Another long day ahead. But today is my day off, so I do not have to try hard to avoid anyone. Today it is just me. The thought fills me with dread. What am I going to do all day! How am I going to face the day?
I can be kind to myself
After 3 hours of umming and ahhing, I decide to get in my car. Ok, so I don’t know where I want to go, let’s see where I end up. I can turn around whenever I want. I’m very aggressive today, constantly hooting the horn and making rude hand gestures. I know that I am not a nice person. I cannot control it, it takes me by surprise. There is no warning that I am going to shout etc. I realise why I always want to hide away when the turbulence comes.
Without thinking, I drive to Leigh-On-Sea, despite the tide being out, I instantly feel calmer looking out to sea. I don’t want to get out of my car, because there are people around.
Driving back I put on a playlist called “Soppy”, not music I listen to often, but today it was what I needed. I usually listen to dance, garage and trance, but when I am struggling I cannot bear it. After 30 minutes I realised, I was singing and dancing. I say singing, more screaming. Perhaps I do know how to be kind. I realised how this playlist lets me sing, shout and scream, allows me to release some of the pressure. How have I never realised this before? Perhaps I have and that is why it exists?
I clearly need to identify things that calm me, pacify me and help me vent during these explosive episodes. Then when I have to suffer the turbulence I may be able to calm myself. I am sure to someone on the outside I must look like an evil nasty person, and maybe I am. But I wish someone, anyone, could feel what I have to feel on the inside, because it is a million times worse than what I think I show. Actually I don’t want anyone to feel it, because I don’t want to feel it myself. I hope one day, I won’t have to. Now I have a couple of hours before I have to face Heidi, OMG! Maybe I do have BPD…