DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m going to cut to the chase. I suffer mental illness and boy did it f
k up my past relationship.
I was with a guy from Canada for 2 1/2 years so I already had THAT against me, what with being an American. While I admittedly had a lot of body image issues before we dated and I gave him the heads up. He accepted it and we decided to start dating anyways. The problem was, dating this guy was a mistake because he was emotionally abusive.
He pushed me to give nude photos a lot, told me if I didn’t strip for him I didn’t love him, made fun of my weight… stuff like that. I don’t even feel like going into the rest… Generally this made me WORSE but I was too stupid to break up with this guy. In return I did bad things too. I regret constantly bothering him to talk me out of suicide and cry that if he left me I’d kill myself. I was very sick. I regret it all so much now and if I could apologize from the bottom of my heart… I would if I could. My parents weren’t taking me seriously at all during the time to get me ANY real help until it was far too late.
After he broke up with me due to the stress of my mental illness I went off the wall and constantly harassed him over the phone to talk to me. At first it was because I missed him. But then it was anger over all the abuse in the beginning (there’s more but I don’t want to go in any further)
It got back to me from my old friends after a huge fallout. I was labeled a “stalker”. I guess I deserved this.
After 5 suicide attempts my parents finally took me seriously and got me help. I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
I’m currently getting help and making a lot of progress but this leads me to ask..is there any hope for me in the dating world? Let’s be real. I REALLY f
ked up and I was obviously very, very sick. I was so scared of dying alone I recently drank bleach just to end it all. So instead of wanting to die anymore.. why not keep trying to be mentally stable? but what the F
K do I do doc? I can get better all I want but whose going to want a crazy like me?
– mentally unstable
DEAR MENTALLY UNSTABLE: Can we establish something right off the bat?
You’re not broken, you’re not worthless and you’re not defined by having a personality disorder.
That guy you were dating? The one who mocked you, who pushed you to do things you didn’t want to do, who took advantage of your body issues and used them to pressure you into bending to his will?
k that guy.
You’re right: he was a great big f
king abusive s
tbird and if there’s any karma in this universe it’ll be baring down on him like an out of control semi. He’s in another country and out of your life. I know it’s hard, but deliver the ultimate insult to him by simply forgetting about him. Spending time wishing for him to be infested by radioactive mutant pubic lice would be a waste of precious brain cycles that you could be using on something more significant, like memorizing which characters joined the X-Men during the Claremont/Cockrum years.
Now here’s what you need to do. And I’m warning you, it may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but it’s absolutely necessary. With me so far?
You need to forgive yourself.
Borderline Personality Disorder is one of those mental health issues that a few people hear about and immediately blow out of proportion; people who’ve never lived with it treat it as a diagnosis of “b*tch be crazy”. People who know nothing about it aside from what they’ve read on the Internet will assign moral judgments to it and assume that everyone with BPD are just toxic drama-factories who will do any number of socially maladaptive things because it means they stay in control.
But in reality, psychologists are starting to come around to the idea that BPD isn’t just “I shall cause trouble on purpose” but a reaction to TRAUMA. You acted out the way you did, not because you’re a s
t-stirring jerk but because you’ve been through the fires of hell and you’ve got the ashes to prove it.
You’ve had bad s
t happen, but you survived. You found yourself in a bad place and realized you needed help and you finally got it. Do you realize the sort of strength that takes? To paraphrase Boggle The Owl, you’re going through the emotional equivalent of trying to fight your way through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with a stick to try to make it to safety. You’ve been wrestling with your inner demons and trying to make it through the darkest nights of the soul. That’s not someone who’s damaged, that’s someone who’s fighting with all her might to get better.
That’s what you need to realize. There’s no shame in having problems. You’re getting help and you’re improving and that’s the most important part. Defining yourself as “damaged” or “crazy” is disregarding all the work you’ve put in to getting mentally healthy again. It’s restricting yourself to who you were, not who you are or, more importantly, who you will be.
You’ve had some bad experiences in your past but you survived them. You did things you regret because you didn’t realize you needed help. It’s sad that it’s happened, but you need to be willing to let the past be the past and forgive yourself for being imperfect. For right now: don’t worry about dating or who could possibly want you. That time and those people will come. Right now, you want to focus your energy where it’s most important: on your recovery. Regain your strength. Continue to get better. There will be time enough for love.
There’s a line from one of my favorite comics that I think applies here, by the way:
“It’s never nearly as bad as it seems; you’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”
Good luck. And write back to let us know how you’re doing.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)