Can you picture that? Um, no.

I’m sure you’ve been asked to picture something in your head. An old memory, what someone looks like or an imaginary place. When you have been reading a book you can picture the scene in your head. Well, I can’t. I have never been able to. I always thought it was just another facet of my oddness. But it turns out I am not the only one and there’s even a suggested name for it. For the time being it is called Aphantasia. Makes it sound like something magical and wonderful, but it’s not. It can actually be horrible. My grandad passed away a few years ago and I can’t picture what he looks like. I don’t even have a photograph to look at, so I can remember him. I was there when he passed away and although I can feel the emotions I went through, I can’t picture any of it. I can’t remember seeing him for the last time. That tears me up inside. Sometimes I just wished I could remember him.

The same for my cat. Might seem stupid, but he passed away a couple of years and I had had him for 8 years. He was my baby boy. My first ‘real’ pet of my own. We had a family dog, but I had moved away for a few years when we lost her and I’ve had a few hamsters, but he was my first pet that I felt connected to. He was my furbaby. And I can’t picture him. I have lots of photos of him, even a big canvas of him, but when I look at it, it sometimes feels as though I’m looking at a pet I don’t even know, as I notice different markings each time. As I can’t picture what he looked like. It’s frustrating. I just wish I could remember without having to have a picture.

It has also made me feel stupid. People asking me if I remember things, to somewhere we went together or something they were wearing on a particular day. I can’t picture it. If they tell me, I’ll know what they are talking about, but I still can’t see it in my mind. I know what people are talking about and sometimes I can describe it, but it isn’t because I can picture it, I just know it. For example if someone asked me to draw a circle, I could. But I can’t see it in my mind. I just know what one looks like. When I’ve tried to explain this to people, they look at me like I’ve grown another head. They just don’t get it. I guess they just think everyone can picture things in their mind. I have no idea if it is linked to my mental health or if it is just something else I have, or don’t as the case may be.

There hasn’t been much research or studies done about it, so I don’t know what causes it and if I could ever be ‘cured’ of it.

So, if you cannot picture images in your mind, know you are not alone and you’re not that odd or weird.

Nat xx

BPD Symptoms – Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality

Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality

People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.

I would say I’m the opposite of being suspicious of people and actually trust them too easy. I think I’m always striving for friendships and connections with people, I end up trusting them too quickly. This doesn’t usually end well. If they reciprocate the feelings, then it becomes an intense friendship, which consumes me and then quickly dies out. If they don’t reciprocate, then I end up losing a friend and feeling foolish and too needy. So neither are good. I have been trying to keep friendships at a ‘normal’ level, but I think I unconsciously keep people at arm’s length and hold back a little. I think this is because I am scared of losing them, scared of them realising how abnormal I am and scared of becoming obsessed with them.

So I don’t think I’m suspicious, just scared and cautious.

I think I do disassociate sometimes, but I just thought I always went into my own little world. I never thought there was anything wrong with it. I guess when I get really angry and don’t remember it, it could be classed as disassociating, as I don’t remember it and it doesn’t feel as though it happened it to. It feels as though it was something I was watching on television. From a young age, I have always felt spaced out. When I was at college, people thought I was always stoned as I was never ‘with it’. I guess I’ve never really had many friends, so I learnt and got used to being in my own mind. I don’t necessarily prefer it, I’ve just got used to it. It feels as though it is a part of me, but does get more frequent the worse I feel.

Nat xx

BPD Symptoms – Explosive anger

Explosive anger

If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself.

I think to a certain degree I’m always angry. It’s always bubbling away under the surface. That’s how it feels anyway. I can get angry at the smallest thing and it consumes me. It is all I can think about and I can’t just let it go. Most of my anger is suppressed. I keep it in. It is usually towards myself anyway. But when I have lost it, I exploded. A couple of years ago, I spent a summer just getting drunk and being angry towards my partner. I don’t actually remember a lot of it, not sure if it due to being drunk or because the anger consumes me. Probably a mix of the two to be honest. But according to my partner, I was vile. I said horrible things to her and I said things to purposely push her buttons. I don’t know why. Maybe I was trying to push her away from me, because I thought she was better off without me. She is. I was never angry towards my friends or co-workers. I think this is because I always want them to like me and never want to upset them. So if they did make me angry, I kept it all bottled up and unfortunately my partner bore the brunt of it all. I haven’t been that angry in a while. I think it is because of the medication I am on, it has suppressed all of my feelings. But I have been getting angry at work, but have been trying to deal with it in a constructive way. Honestly, I can feel it bubbling up and I don’t think it will be long until I do explode again. I just hope it isn’t at my partner or my employer. Not that I particularly like my employer, I just need a job!

I am trying to control my anger and often have to calm myself down and tell myself that I am over-reacting. But then I don’t know when I am over-reacting or under-reacting or reacting in the right manner. It can be confusing. I guess I have always been a bit of a walk over and let people treat me like rubbish, because I don’t want to lose them – guess that comes under fear of abandonment. They all feed into each other and can make every day hard and confusing. When you can’t trust your own emotions and feelings, what can you trust?

Nat xx

BPD Symptoms – Chronic feelings of emptiness

Chronic feelings of emptiness

People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the hole with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.

I’ve always felt empty, like there is something missing. I’m not sure what is missing, I just don’t feel whole. I have never felt right. It feels as though there is a part of my essence, my being, that I have never had access to. If I could access that, then maybe I could understand and figure out who I am and what I want. I don’t really feel happiness or joy, not in the conventional way. I can become over-excited, almost to the point of becoming manic. I don’t really feel sad, again not in the conventional way. I spiral into a deep, dark depression. Also, I can become easily offended and either feel as though I’m the most evil person on Earth or the person who has ‘offended’ me now hates me. I could be called over-dramatic and false, but all my emotions are genuine, I just have ‘weird’ emotions.

But due to not really feeling any joy or happiness, I like to, no, need to do things that get my adrenaline pumping. This can be from getting piercings and tattoos to binge drinking and gambling. I’ve never really used drugs or sex to make myself feel better, but I do comfort eat, or as my partner calls it ‘mindless’ eating. I just shovel in junk food and I don’t really enjoy it, but it somehow makes me feel better. I think it is more the action and routine of eating it that makes me feel better. I have been on a diet for the past couple of months which has helped me understand my relationship with food and how unhealthy it was. I am trying to get better, but once I stop the diet, I’m not sure if I’ll slip back into my old ways. I have also used alcohol to make me feel more alive. A few years ago I spent the summer getting drunk every weekend, which I thought was great but my partner did not. Because when I came home I would vent all my anger and frustrations at her. So I now don’t drink that much as I realised I was a very bad drunk. I used to gamble a lot. I inevitably always ended up losing, as the banker always wins. I still gamble now, but only small amounts. I knew I couldn’t go on gambling the large amounts I was, as we were getting into debt and I couldn’t afford to pay my bills. I now try to do it more for fun but it is when I am losing that I somehow feel my best. When I’m losing my adrenaline starts pumping, I start feeling bad for wasting my money, I need to win to get my money back, then I win my money back and sometimes a bit more. This makes me feel great but then that subsides and I start feeling empty again, so I start putting my money back in and the cycle starts all over again. So maybe I should stop doing it all together, but it is in those few moments when I’m gambling that I actually feel some kind of emotions and I don’t think I’m ready to give that up just yet.

I don’t really do anything now to fill this void within myself, so I spend most my time feeling numb and empty, like a hollow shell. I know I need to find something to help me feel better, but due to copying other people’s interests for most of my life, I don’t really know what I like. I’m trying to figure it out, but I know it will take time.

Nat xx

BPD Symptoms – Extreme emotional swings

Extreme emotional swings

Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.

My moods have always been up and down, but usually down. I do suffer with depression and for a long time thought that was the only mental health problem I had. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t realise it was unusual to go from feeling like complete and utter shit, to feeling really happy and what has been described as manic. I can start talking in a normal manner and then by the end I’m talking at such a speed, people cannot keep up with what I am saying. Then I’m quite excitable and then a few minutes later my mood can come crashing down. This can be for different reasons, I could just be exhausted, had a bad thought or believe I have said/done something wrong and annoyed the other person. I often think I have annoyed other people. I can be talking to them and if they answer a certain way or look a certain way, I instantly think I have annoyed them and then feel completely shit. This causes me to withdraw into myself and I can even stop the conversation or leave the situation. Deep down I know it is all in my head and do try to overcome the thoughts, try to rationalise them, but sometimes it is just impossible to do. Then once the thought is there, I cannot give rid of it, until I am out of the situation.

I can also get annoyed with people. If I think they have dismissed what I have been saying or don’t look interested, I will take it personally and get really annoyed with them. I say them, it’s only really with my partner. She says she doesn’t know what she’s going to get with me sometimes, as my moods can change so quickly and drastically. I have been on medication for the last year and this has helped reduce my mood swings. Well, it has stopped me acting on my thoughts as much, due to the fact that the medication mostly makes me feel numb. But it has still happened. But I am aware of it happening and either tell her or try and remove myself from the situation. It can go the other way and I just internalise the anger and then I will explode at the smallest thing. That’s never good. But I think being self-aware is reducing the amount of times it happens, but again, it means I am always constantly thinking about whether my emotions are valid or not.

Nat xx

BPD Symptoms – Self-harm (TW)

Self-harm

Suicidal behavior and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Suicidal behavior includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt. Self-harm includes all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.

I have self-harmed in the past. I have cut myself, scratched myself, punched inanimate objects, abused alcohol and gambled. I still have the urges. I sometimes gamble, nowhere near as much as I used to, but it still gives me that sense of release, then promptly followed by guilt. Even though it is only small amounts of money, I know I am doing it for the wrong reasons. I often think about cutting myself. But I always stop myself, talk myself out of it. I also got a tattoo on my wrist, so if I do start having those thoughts, I can talk myself out of it, as I won’t want to ruin my tattoo.

I have a lot of thoughts about suicide. Sometimes these are fleeting and sometimes they are quite intense. I used to think that it was normal to think about your own demise. Turns out it’s not. But I still do it. I can be going about my day and it can just pop into my head. Just a passing thought of suicide. Nothing to bring me down. It doesn’t make me want to act on it, but it’s just there. It is as normal for me as it is someone thinking about what they will have for dinner. But then there are times when it becomes intense and it is all I can think about all day. I think about how I would do it, that everyone would be better off without me and how it won’t really matter to anyone. I know these thoughts are not rational, but they can overwhelm me.

I have attempted suicide in the past, I won’t go into details, but I have. I have also been very close to attempting several times. It has always been when I am intoxicated. Being drunk, makes the thoughts harder to ignore, makes they appear more valid. But thankfully, I have never succeeded. The thing is, I don’t want to die, I just want the shit to stop. It is exhausting living every day with this illness, second-guessing every emotion and feeling you have, trying to put a smile on your face and functioning as a member of society. Sometimes it is just too much and I just want it to stop. But it is impossible to escape your own thoughts and emotions. That’s why I can view suicide as my only option. My only relief. As I said, I don’t want to die, I just want peace.

Nat xx