So I wrote this poem in July of 2018 right after meeting someone that I would have an on and off toxic affair with. He came after a string of my wild phase of hookups and I guess that the chemistry I had with him made me think that maybe it would be “different” and I was quickly infatuated.
On July 27th, 2010 I was in the room with the ultrasound tech and she put the gel on my belly. I was there to hear the sound of my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I had waited a whole two weeks to hear it since I had booked the appointment. My boyfriend had dropped me off at the doctor. I was alone and the anticipation was killing me. The ultrasound tech was moving the wand every which way and had this weird look on her face. I asked her if everything was okay. She told me, “I really need to get the doctor”. I pleaded with her to tell me what was wrong. And she said, “I can’t find the heartbeat” I was in shock and numb. Then she told me to go out to the waiting room and the Dr would come get me. I remember how the waiting room was full of pregnant women and I started to sob hysterically. Thankfully a receptionist took pity on me and took me to another sparsely populated area. The Dr came and got me and told me the embryo stopped growing at 8 weeks and I was supposed to be 10 weeks along. She showed me the ultrasound. She also gave me a choice -either a D&C or let the miscarriage come naturally. I had just started a job in June and hadn’t accumulated much sick leave so I opted to have the D&C. I had all of these feelings of shame and guilt because I had seriously thought about terminating the pregnancy and I wondered if I had wished it true. I felt guilty because I had gotten blackout drunk a day before finding out I was pregnant. Also, I felt like a failure because my body had not done what it was supposed to do. I felt like somehow I deserved all of this pain and that God was punishing me. Getting through the rest of that day and putting up my facade of strength and having to tell my 2 kids along with other family members and friends was horrible.
The next morning I went to have a D&C and I woke up crying from the procedure. The nurse that was next to me told me that everything happens for a reason and to trust God. “Everything happens for a reason” and “Trust in GOD” and “It wasn’t the right time” would be among the few sayings that I would get from well meaning friends, family, and co-workers. I buried my grief in exercising and eating healthy irrationally believing that it was my body’s fault that I had the miscarriage. It didn’t help that my boyfriend was kind of blaming me as well because of that whole blackout drunk incident early in the pregnancy. Even though the logic in my head told me that pregnancy loss is a common occurrence that happens to 1 in 4 women with no real rhyme or reason for most of those pregnancies;my irrational thoughts took over for a bit. What helped me through the grief other than exercising was joining a support group and being able to process that grief and feel validated in my feelings with other people that had experienced the same thing. An experience like this changes you in a way that you remember who you were before the experience and after it. Obviously I’ve healed from that experience but I still experience some sadness on that day. One interesting thing that happened 3 years ago when I came to work on July 27 was that there was a random “Happy Birthday” balloon by the entrance of my office building. I took it as a positive sign from the universe.
I share this story because it is important to fight the stigma associated with pregnancy loss. It is also important for others to feel like they can share their stories without being judged.
It was April of 1996 and I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 3 months after he had grown distant from me. I was in a world of despair and teenage angst and longed to no longer exist. I was feeling this rush of intense sadness as I was walking home from school. I looked at the cars on the street and thought about how easy it would be to end my sadness if I got run over by one. As I was alone in my thoughts, I stopped paying attention as I crossed the street and wasn’t aware that a car was coming. It stopped within inches of hitting me and the driver honked at me and yelled at me. I continued to walk in shock of what had just happened. I didn’t know then but I would be walking into many more BPD episodes like this one.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and I’m 40, the mother of 3 kids, work 2 jobs, and have a complicated love life. I decide to go back to therapy due to some recent trauma and driving anxiety. I do a 3 hour assessment and when the feedback comes back, it’s there on my concept map: I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I expected the driving phobia but the new diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder was definitely unexpected.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
According to Mayo Clinic, “Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is amental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships.“
What are the signs and symptoms?
An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
Ongoing feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
Causes for Borderline Personality Disorder:
Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders among family members.
Brain abnormalities. Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsivity and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.
Risk Factors include:
Hereditary predisposition. You may be at a higher risk if a close relative — your mother, father, brother or sister — has the same or a similar disorder.
Stressful childhood. Many people with the disorder report being sexually or physically abused or neglected during childhood. Some people have lost or were separated from a parent or close caregiver when they were young or had parents or caregivers with substance misuse or other mental health issues. Others have been exposed to hostile conflict and unstable family relationships.
Learning about this disorder has been overwhelming and also life changing. Some of my friends didn’t think it was possible for me to have BPD because I’m too nice. I was also kind of in denial at first until I did the research and thought damn, my life finally makes sense to me. I’ve been coping with intense emotions since I could remember and have a pattern of risky and impulsive behavior and sometimes self sabotaging my own success and romantic relationships. One minute my mood can shift from happy and joyful to full on anger and sadness if I am triggered by feelings of rejection, abandonment, being criticized or judged. I also have a tendency to villainize people if I feel threatened by them. Also, when I feel like my life is “too normal” or “too boring”, I seek out an adrenaline rush and create chaos.
Throughout the years, I’ve leaned some healthy coping mechanisms like journaling, writing poetry or blogging, exercising, mediocre dancing and singing. I’ve also had some unhealthy mechanism like drinking, binge shopping, binge eating, having sex for only validation purposes. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better with time because I’ve become more self aware of myself and my need to survive not only for my myself but also for my kids.
I’m hopeful that with this new diagnosis of BPD and therapy, I’ve have way better coping mechanisms to become a better version of myself. I’m hopeful that going on this new journey, I’ll not only be surviving but I’ll be thriving. I also hope that I heal the girl in the picture above who was a teenager trying to find love for within the arms of a any dude because she didn’t know how to love herself.