Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Promise I Really Am an INTP: Adventures with Borderline Personality Disorder

So... I was reviewing my recent posts on here, and I found myself very embarrassed at all the feels. Sometimes I forget that people actually see my blog now. I'll leave most of it up because I didn't fully read them and determine it was time to delete them. The fact is, if I didn't say it in 8 places already, I broke off a relationship with this girl who very likely had borderline personality disorder, and she had made me sick. She didn't mean to, of course, but it happened nonetheless and so I still felt rather odd for about 9 months after I closed communication. And for the benefit of skimmers who skipped this paragraph and are going "OMG AN INTP WITH BORDERLINE WHAT'S THAT LIKE?":

I am not the one with borderline

But the person with borderline is in fact an INTP anyway.

Anyway, it's actually a really long story, and I have no evidence that anyone is even interested in hearing, so let me tell you anyway because I'm obnoxious.

I have an obsession with my stories.
I want to write them down only because I am obsessed with them. The characters, the settings, the tales themselves. All of it. Basically if no one is going to be talking to me, then I turn to a story-universe. When my best friend decided she had grown out of toys, I started making up stories in my head instead, consciously deciding that I would NOT become one of those mundane adults who does not have an imagination. This was probably unnecessary, but that's okay because I have some incredible stories up my sleeve, if only I'd finish writing them down. Growing up after toys were below my age group, I would pretend I was a character. I was a character being driven somewhere. I was a character exploring something. I was a character doing homework, or if I was in class, my eyes would glaze over as I pretended this classroom was full of my character's classmates and they were doing whatever it was they did in class. They did not replace my friends. They were me, and I was them. When I was talking to my friends, I was me. When I  was not, I was my character, doing whatever my character would do, which was not usually what I would do, because my character was probably socially inept so that they could express the inner thoughts that I would never say out loud.

The weird part begins: That may seem like an unimportant detail, but it is not. When I started to reveal this very secret inner world to a friend of mine who admitted she had "characters", I was very excited that she was quite similar to me. She was less focused on the plot aspect, but she did have characters and something of a setting. However, I didn't suspect any of the following psychological items to be of major importance at the time:

  • Borderling Personality Disorder - I had heard of it, but the idea of it didn't even cross my mind
  • ADHD - I don't get much into this, but ADHD was the root of a lot of my anxiety previous to this incident, and the anxiety is largely what caused me to retreat so heavily into this relationship in the first place
  • HSP - another cause of some anxiety, but mainly sensitivity, because that's what it is.
  • MBTI - I thought I was an INFJ, actually. Anyway, I had fun with this stuff before, but then it got kind of crazy when I started really learning how MBTI actually works. Then it was a fun puzzle and I obsessed over it. But initially I was just passively labeled as an INFJ, or in some scenarios an INFP. Neither of those is correct, obviously. But the main point is that I obsessed, and I obsessed to the point of it interfering with storying because I had a hard time not automatically labeling characters and then having them follow the formula that MBTI laid out for them. That is not the intended purpose of MBTI, and real people may have specific wirings that appear to group into the 16 personality types, but real people do not fit the stereotypes, because real people do different things for different reasons. I myself am proof of that. My characters lost their creative origins, basically.
The unfortunate thing was that she totes did have borderline personality disorder (well, probably) and we fought all the time. We mostly fought because she didn't think I was being sensitive enough in some arbitrary way that no normal human cares about on a deep level, and she had really bad inferior Fe (fellow INTP). Initially, she didn't like it when my broody character out-brooded her broody character, because mine was mean to hers and extra bitter in general. That and I'm awesome at character conversations (or I was, anyway). Then she was mad because I wasn't as into her characters as she was into mine, which I didn't get at all, because I didn't really get why she was so into mine in the first place. I mean, I was somewhat flattered as well as thankful toward the Most High because I honestly think they're a gift, and I did think they were quite worthy stories, it's just... these are my stories. So of course I love them.

Detour about fanning: When I fangirl, it's because I can see someone else has created a story that is at least as good as mine, and maybe even better, but that story is not my story. At most I want to purchase an Alaskan Willow "wand" from a local heritage festival for Harry Potter cosplay (but I'll be my own character, thanks), and perhaps a set of Ravenclaw robes. Another thing I want to do is dress my American Girl dolls up in homemade water tribe, earth kingdom, fire nation and air nomad costumes from the Nickelodeon cartoon, "Avatar: The Last Airbender". I also like a lot of Tolkein stuff. Frankly, though, characters are of 45% importance, and plot is another 45%. A unique and interesting setting is the last 10%. She was missing 45% of what makes a universe interesting to me. And just to make mention of it, yes, I fangirl about music that inspires story stuff and I don't like it if it doesn't fit with my story. Sorry country music, sorry secular pop, and sorry secular rap. You offer nothing to me.

Unfortunately, she also happened to like my ex-villain character and so her villain character (by far the most interesting personality at first) struck up a relationship during our second and only successful RP (role play). There was no way this relationship was going to go well because my character at this point was an eccentric, but whole-hearted Christian, and BPD was determined that hers would never be, which is fine but it kind of ruins either my character or the relationship. If I could have had my character kick hers out and they could have had a battle of sorts, that probably would have ended in her character getting shot or stabbed in self defense, I probably would have gone that route, but I don't think she would have liked it so I just let my character deteriorate.

Meanwhile, I too, was deteriorating. I'd quit attending church because I was staying up too late on Saturday nights to RP, plus I didn't really feel like going anymore. During a fight I even looked for another RP friend because I thought the whole thing was over, but apparently BPD has a hard time letting go, so she came back and apologized. Moreover, I noticed myself becoming very, very sensitive. By this I don't mean emotionally - I was actually losing passion - what I mean is physically. I couldn't stand having a lot of light or sound in my vicinity. I mostly listened to folk because other music had begun to seem offensive to my delicate ears. I also didn't like leaving the house for much of anything. I had a lot of hilariously stupid nightmares about dinosaurs and aliens, but the fear would linger for an hour or so after I had fully woken up and checked out the windows to be sure the apocalypse hadn't come and gone during my nap. For comparison, recently I had a dream that a strange leviathan-ish creature and a bunch of demons spilling out of it's mouth were attacking long island, and that terror evaporated immediately upon waking, and in fact, slightly before, because there's no reason for me to be afraid of demons when I am trusting a higher entity.

My other friends stopped asking me to hang out very often, and when we did, I had nothing to say to them anymore. At first, it didn't seem too off - my head was on stories and they didn't know my stories - but then I realized all of my relationships were dying. Normally, people start trying to talk to me when they notice me drifting into Meredith-land, especially family members, but somehow, that just didn't happen this time. It was like there was something about me that just gave off this closed-vibe so people kind of shut me out of their minds subconsciously, as I was shutting them out. I also slowly became kind of mean, but it took a long time for me to realize it. To me, the worst thing was that I was also incapable of storying. RP felt empty after that one attempt, and I couldn't get into it for very long, or if I did, BPD didn't like it and we would stop. She took up so much of my conscious brain-space, too, that I didn't story the way I used to. I couldn't step into the head of any character I was not RPing, and even then, it was hard, because from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep I was doing something in real life or responding to her, so where was there time to work in my own headspace?

Detour about MBTI: Around this time, I also discovered I had incorrectly taken on the INFJ label. I take stories like puzzle pieces that I have to put together, just bits and pieces of things I like, and it is usually in order to answer a question I am curious about:
e.g. "What makes us human?" - every sci fi novel ever
and "Why is it wrong to ________, or is it wrong at all?"
I briefly considered the possibility of INFP, but the dominant function for an FP is introverted feeling, as in, a sort of moral code that is internalized. They seem to always have words for how they feel and are not confused about it at any point, unless maybe they're mentally sick. They know where they stand on most issues and they usually get the phrase, "Follow your heart," because they do that every day. They keep their feels to themselves until the words are forced out.

(More Detour about MBTI): I, on the other hand, see myself as fluffy, chatty and friendly on the outside (Ne-Fe) but calculated, emotionally resilient, and even a bit cold on the inside (Ti-Si).  There's no evidence for being a feeler at all, Fi or Fe. I get over stuff fast, only settle a moral when I know why it should be a moral, view society as a part of a machine that doesn't work but can at least be improved, and 90% of the time if you asked me to describe how I felt, I wouldn't really know what you meant, but I would certainly give you my opinion on the situation. "How do you feel about..." to me is the same as "What is your opinion on...."

(More Detour about MBTI): "Follow your heart" is the biggest piece of crap statement that has ever reached my ears. I follow my logic, or my impulses, or get paralyzed by indecisiveness because I am stuck between the two. "Follow your heart to reach your dreams" means about as much to me as saying, "Follow your chair to reach your kitchen". Further proof against anything feels, I struggle with intellectual vanity, not moral superiority; and more often than not, I feel a little sick when I read stuff that is supposed to be inspirational, even if I think it's true. I have experimented with sharing such phrases on facebook during my dead time after the BPD incident, but not a good idea. It's too corny for me. And for the sake of all that is good, don't ever read an emotional diatribe written by me. It will be the corniest, most cliché thing you've ever laid eyes on. I also suck at poetry. None of that is dominant introverted feeling. It is rather, introverted thinking and inferior extroverted feeling.

Back on topic: It was the January after BPD and I started RPing, so almost 9 months later, and I was realizing that this wasn't going to end on it's own, so I needed to do it, but by then my brain had turned to mush and I couldn't figure out how best to close things down. Especially because BPD knew a bit too much about me. I noticed myself sink a little further at the thought. While I was thinking of this between January and March, nothing much happened aside from getting berated about being dead inside. But in March, BPD had a little adventure that removed her from my life. I was hoping it was semi-permanent, because she would be living out of state from now on. Sadly, I was still too wimpy and out-of-it to just tell her that, plus I was getting an occasional email about her not doing so well. I didn't have much to say to her, because I was doing great and it seemed kind of cruel to be like, "Oh so you're going through this crappy time... that sucks... well I don't want to be your friend anymore." So I said nothing. She sensed it though.

Still, I really was doing great in her absence. I had quit going to church the previous year on Easter of 2014. I went back a few times between then and Easter 2015, but I'd felt no motivation to attend the whole time. But when I came back in 2015, while BPD was gone, I was ready to attend regularly again. Never mind that at this very moment, it's been almost 6 weeks since I have been to church. I still want to go. In short, I was getting better all around and I decided if things didn't work out for her to move out of state (and even if they did) I wasn't putting up with the crap anymore.

We had a fight the day she contacted me in April. I felt light and free for about two days. Then she apologized profusely and I felt guilty not giving her another chance. Little did I know, that I was incapable of giving her another chance. As soon as I felt the burden of our friendship return, it came with all the physical sensitivity, emptiness, and raise that a lack of words. To talk, after all, you need to have thoughts, but if I spent too much time thinking in the sensitive emptiness, I'd literally lose my mind. And because thinking is second-nature to me, I did lose my mind.

A month or two later in June, I had a complete meltdown because my brain was incapable of playing a story to put me to sleep and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I originally started doing stories with myself because I do think too much when I'm trying to fall asleep, so pretending I was someone else while I slept helped occupy my brain while it drifted away. Without the ability to sleep or think, I wanted to kill myself, or at least cut to see if it actually worked, but I did not because:
A) My husband would probably have stopped me/would have found out if I cut and then I'd be embarrassed most likely (it's not like it actually helps the situation)
B) I'm not really sure. I just got up and interrupted my husband's nap instead of going for the knives. I'll call that God.

By that evening, I was too terrified to die anyway (though I was too terrified to live as well) and I felt awful until my husband and parents had prayed over me and we'd played a game of Apples to Apples. By the end of that, I was knocked out by migraine medication and a lack of sleep.

Automatically, my emotional hemisphere separated itself from the rest of me. It was still there and I still reacted to things, but for some reason I wasn't processing it. It's a very difficult concept to describe, but disassociation is the psychological term for it. I was still me, but I was inaccessible. If my brain was a city, I was still in it's airspace, but looking down from someplace very high, or perhaps looking up from someplace very low, rather than being involved in it. Buildings were blowing up and I reacted, but it still wasn't me. I lost touch with all motivations and interests and obsessions, which was probably partly the medication I was on, and also just the way I was handling the emotional problems I'd run into. I talked to a pastor, visited my grandmother's every Tuesday to do a craft and chat, my mom's every Friday, and the library all of the other days.

Slowly, my relationships began to improve, but I still couldn't write very well. If I only focused on the light parts of the story, I was bored, and if I only focused on the heavy parts, I would take an emotional nosedive because what my characters would go through, especially the ones I felt most connected to at the moment, was disassociation. And that was too similar to my own issues. So my writing was very empty, or else it made me depressed. It was also rather elementary in form, as though I had forgotten how.

In the middle of that summer, I went on a float trip with some family and friends. It was a fun adventure, considering the river was flooded and if you tipped you'd be out of the canoe for quite a while. At one point, my husband and I ran into some branches and tipped, knocking a gray wolf spider the size of my hand onto our cooler. It rode with us until we managed to right our canoe. Yes, I was panicking. Anyway, while I was sitting in the warm sun after the tipping spider incident incident, I realized I always felt so much better when Ms BPD was far away, so the day I got back, I sent her an apologetic email that was probably as cold and distant as I felt from myself, stating that I would be breaking off contact from her. When she responded furiously, I replied in my dissociative manner yet again and left it at that. She was incapable of understanding what my problem was, and I was incapable of explaining it any further because I didn't fully understand it myself, and still don't.

She sent me texts, emails, voicemails and letters for a while, and every time she stopped by, I would feel low and empty for a couple weeks. It was very creepy, and it gave me an impression that something more deeply spiritual was occurring than I had realized. I knew that Evil Sunday definitely had a combo of chemical and spiritual origins, so it didn't seem out of place that perhaps the spiritual issues resided with BPD herself. Later I also confirmed that in all likelihood, she had the disorder. She left a 5 page typed letter bribing me with a $100 bill, openly admitting that it was bribery so as not to insult my intelligence I guess, and then apologizing to me, complaining about me, telling me she cared about me like a sister, but that she can't stop shipping a character of mine with a character of hers, and that she wasn't sure if she could get over this yet she'd "accept [me] back". It conflicted itself several times. I showed it to a psychologist and Borderline was their assessment. It was actually BPD's assessment too, but it didn't really matter to me if she got help at that point. As a mere shell of my former self, I was already incapable of encouraging the relationship further.

So that's what happened and why I was all weird and feely. I started improving around November when all the medication was out of my system. In January I tried a 90% paleo diet and discovered why I'd had such a painful pot belly for so many years (probably gluten, or maybe just grains in general). In February our tax return gave us a bunch of money so I started planning a vacation for May, and in March I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. By April, we were looking at houses to move into, and my preggo hormones kicked in and put me in a great mood, so now I feel normal. By May I had decided that God is my playmate and purpose in the endeavor of writing, and the stories are just little crumbs without him, so it's okay to be excited about them, as long as I'm excited because they are revealing something about him.