This story was sent to me anonymously by a man I’ll call John, for my continuing series on Men with BPD. It’s long but definitely worth the read:
I had this girlfriend of two years. We’ll call her Jane. We were very much in love. We met in college at her senior piano recital. She is a composer, and a genius one at that. I am an aspiring actor. At the time of her recital, I was ready to give up on my dreams, but when I heard her music, it reignited the passion in my heart. We became friends after that and very quickly grew close to each other. We were boyfriend and girlfriend within two months and when I was with her, I was the happiest I’d ever been in my entire life. I had always felt locked up inside myself in HS and college; unable to produce many creative works on my own because of anxiety, but Jane was able to, for the most part, unlock those chains and make me feel alive again. In the BPD documentary “Back From the Edge” they say that the close relationships that Borderlines develop literally breath life back into the person. This is certainly what Jane did for me. College was a hell hole of depression and loneliness before I met her.
We both had a dream of moving to New York City together after college which we did, although we did not live together. I moved in with some friends of a friend. I didn’t know them before meeting them, but they needed a roommate and the timing just happened to work out. Living with these guys really changed me, but not for the better. They were of the YOLO generation, and not in the good way. They liked to smoke pot all day everyday, party all night, and were generally very hedonistic. I started adopting some of their behavior, which again is something we both know borderlines tend to do as they have trouble creating an identity for themselves. I basically smoked weed every day for the next year and a half, and also did coke and MDMA on occasion. It took me a year to get a steady job because I was lazy and living off my father’s good will and my acting career had fallen to the last thing on my list of priorities. I kept all this behavior a secret from Jane. I also started to question whether I wanted to be in a relationship with her anymore because, after living with these guys for so long I started to look at my situation like this: “Hey, I’m 24 years old and living in New York Freaking City. I shouldn’t be tied down like a married man. I should be out their partying and hooking up with random beautiful women and living like they do on Entourage.” Mind you, the random “hooking up” never came to fruition but I did try. Even though I was still very happy with Jane, I got seduced by the lifestyle of that city and the people I was living with and let it convince me that I somehow was supposed to be more happy than I actually was.
I ended up breaking up with Jane, though my behavior wasn’t the only contributing factor. You see, Jane also has undiagnosed schizophrenia.
So Jane. Jane, is a genius. Literally. Both creatively and intellectually. She is a composer, an author, voice actor, a radio station DJ, piano, violin and recorder player, and general master off all things arts and crafts. She has a profound knowledge of and faith in God. She is synesthetic, meaning her senses of sight and sound are crossed (she can literally see sound). She has a remarkable capacity for compassion and joy for life. She is everything I wish I was. But Jane also has a dark side to her. Jane sees and hears things that are not there. She has profoundly intricate, albeit unrealistic, delusions about the world around her, and has at least 10 different personalities. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure from what I’ve seen off Jane in the time I’ve known her that she either has Schizophrenia or Dissociative Identity Disorder or both. Over the course of our two year relationship she often had fits of rage. She beat me often both physically and verbally. I want to stress that I never, ever hit her back, although I did have to restrain her a few times. Anyone else I would have broken up with way sooner, but I didn’t with her because I knew it wasn’t her fault. I knew she was sick. However, I could never bring myself to tell her the truth. Instead I played along with her fantasies, and indulged her other personalities. You see, her delusions are so deeply and intricately interwoven with her faith in God (She thinks she sees angels, and that’s just the short explanation) and her creative spirit that I was terrified of what would happen if I burst her bubble. I was afraid that it would crush her and destroy her world. I was also very afraid of losing her; afraid that her parents would take her away from me and put her in an asylum or something (her father is very concerned with his status in their community). I thought I could help her on my own somehow, or that I could just play along for the rest of our days together. I purposefully avoided any websites, TV shows, books, or films that had anything to do with schizophrenia because I didn’t want to be confronted with the truth. I always felt that her good side outweighed her bad anyway (I still think that), and she made me happy despite the dark side, so I stayed with her. But I lost sight of that when I started hanging out with the people I told you about earlier, and I broke up with her in November of 2012. I used the excuse that I didn’t want to feel like I was married at 24. I could tell I hurt her, but coming away from it I thought two things. 1) We’ll get back together eventually, it’s inevitable. 2) She won’t find anybody else because we’re meant to be together. I was still in love with her and yet I broke up with her. Yeah, that makes sooooo much sense right.
I should mention though that I wasn’t always the perfect boyfriend. I had my own tiffs with irrational rage, which I now understand are caused by my BPD. I can remember being embarrassed by her awkward behavior at my aunt’s for Thanksgiving and giving her a hard time about it. I also got mad at her at a McDonald’s once because she couldn’t muster up the courage to ask the teller for the specific toy she wanted in her happy meal. I thought it was pathetic and that she needed to grow a spine. I didn’t soften my words either. Jane is very sensitive to criticism, both constructive and deconstructive, so I know I really hurt her feelings when I did these things.
We still stayed close after the breakup. We hung out a lot, did lunch a lot, stayed over at each other’s places a lot. In March of 2013 I started to realize that the way I was leading my life wasn’t making me happy. I realized just how much happier I was when Jane and I were together. I decided I was going to give up that crazy lifestyle and commit myself to her 100%. I asked her to meet me one evening in a Midtown Panera. I told her how I’d realized this life I was living wasn’t making me happy. I told her how I realized that her awkward behavior at times was caused by her shyness and nervousness and that I should have been supporting her during those times rather than criticizing her. I told her that I still loved her and wanted to get back together with her. She told me no. She told me that she didn’t love me anymore and there was someone else. I rode the train home alone that night in shocked silence. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I just couldn’t believe it was real. I couldn’t believe that Jane, my Jane, said she didn’t love me anymore.
This was the beginning of the downward spiral that led to me leaving New York, being admitted to an inpatient program, and getting my BPD diagnosis.
After the rejection I faced from Jane in Panera, I slowly broke down over the course of a month. At first our friendship was still intact but as she started to tell me about the other boy she was pursuing I started to break down faster. I called her twice late at night one week, once while incredibly high (the last night I ever smoked weed. I promised God I would give it up if he brought Jane back) and paranoid, begging and sobbing for her to take me back, and then waited two hours in the rain outside her apartment to give her her birthday present early – a coloring book of her own artwork that I had made by hand – hoping that it would reignite something in her. Although she seemed to be happy with the gift she still wouldn’t take me back. That was the last time I saw her in person. At the time, I had just started a catering job and it couldn’t have come at a worse time because every day that I went to work, I was walking around in a cloud of depression and had to go hide in the bathroom many times to take a cry break. One day, while I was getting ready for work, I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked out to my apartment balcony and stood on the railing for a couple minutes. I wanted to jump, but I managed to pull myself back. I went inside and called my mentor back in Ohio. I sobbed and told her I was falling apart, had almost just killed myself, and that I didn’t want to live anymore. She ended up sending her husband all the way to New York in their mini van to get me and take me back to Ohio (they’re real, good Christian people, not the hypocritical Bible-thumping haters that you see on Fox news).
I was originally going to just stay for a week and then go back to the city, but it turned into a month. I started to feel better and I even communicated a few times with Jane through snail-mail, explaining to her that I was working on becoming a better man while I was back. One day, as I was nearing my planned time to return to NYC. My mentor gave Jane a call because she wanted to reassure her that the change I’d been talking about in the letters was real, and that I had been making an effort to be a better man. In that conversation Jane explained that she still loved me as a friend but that she would never date me again. When my mentor told me this I fell into free fall again, completely broke down, and was stuck in a dissociative haze for days. Now I really, really didn’t want to live.
My mom had to leave for Connecticut to paint my Aunt and Uncle’s house while they went on vacation, and she decided to take me with her because she didn’t feel that leaving me alone in the house was a safe idea. I thought that I might be able to make a pit stop in New York and get a script for anti-depressants from my doctor while we were out there so I kept calling his office over the course of the trip. When we finally got to house, my doctor called me back. I broke down again and told him what had happened and that I really didn’t want to live. He talked to my mom and then me again and explained that he felt I needed to go to an emergency room right away. My uncle knew about an inpatient hospital called Four Winds in Katonah, NY that was near where they lived because my cousin had to got their once. My doctor faxed over my paperwork to Four Winds and I stayed there for a week and a half. It really wasn’t like a hospital, more of a summer camp with different houses and flower beds and a gym and basketball court. Not that any of that made me feel any better. Four Winds was where I got my BPD diagnosis and where I first learned about DBT. They told me I’d probably been undiagnosed since I was 17, which made sense to me when I considered my life experiences from then up till now. It was a real relief to be diagnosed; knowing my behavior issues and depression weren’t a result of me not trying hard enough but were actually caused by this force inside my head working against me the entire time. DBT offered me hope too, at first, but I don’t think they taught it very well there. It was more of a crash course in DBT than actual lessons and all I came away with other than that were some confusing worksheets.
After leaving Four Winds I attended an outpatient group therapy program meant to transition me from inpatient to seeing a therapist. The group was a nice distraction to go to, but I don’t think I learned anything useful from it. In August, I mustered up the courage to go looking for a job. I was on the wait list for a DBT skills group in Ohio that required a six month commitment so I figured I might as well be making some money and get some server experience for New York when I return (It’s hard to get a good server job in NYC without experience). To this date I haven’t been contacted about the DBT skills group though. I’m sure they just forgot about me. I started seeing a therapist after finishing up the group program. He has been helpful in that he’s someone to talk to and be objective and still optimistic (my parents are not) but for some reason he hasn’t delved into any DBT work with me even though I chose him specifically for his experience with DBT.
I have not had a single day that was completely “Good” since leaving NYC. I have mourned losing Jane every single day and prayed to God every single night for a miracle. We have slowly, and I emphasize “slowly,” reopened communication over the months but hit a few bumps along the way, not the least of which was when I tried to kill myself last month. I was really really depressed and was texting Jane repeatedly throughout the night without getting a response. I assumed she was ignoring me. Finally I told her, “Fine, I’ll just kill myself if you don’t care,” and I drank a whole bottle of ZzzQuil (Diphenhydramine). Obviously it didn’t work. Not even close. Just made me tired and confused. The next morning my mom busted into my room because Jane was on the phone with her telling her about my texts. She put me on the phone with Jane but I was so confused because I the ZzzQuil that I couldn’t hold a conversation with her. Later, not knowing if she’d respond to me or not, I told her about my BPD and asked her to watch the “Back From the Edge” documentary, hoping it would put my actions in context for her. It did. She said the documentary made her cry and she forgave me and apologized for treating me so bad. So that’s nice, although I sometimes question whether or not she meant it.
So far I have saved up $3,000 for my move back to New York. I plan to go back at the end of March. Jane and I are on limited talking terms. Usually just through text and even when they are happy conversations they don’t last long. I’m sure this is because of her illness. Now that I’ve revealed to her the truth about how I feel about her delusions she sees me as a threat to that reality and keeps me at arms length. It hurts a lot. One positive thing that did come out of my experiences this past year is that I was contacted by Jane’s sister who was also concerned about her mental health. I told her everything I know and now her and her mother are trying to convince her to see a doctor. No luck so far however. She’s currently living with her boyfriend and he perpetuates her delusions. It makes me so mad but then again I did the same thing and I can understand what his motivations for doing this might be. Jane’s sister contacted me because Jane showed her the letter in which I confronted her about her illness. That gave me hope at the time that maybe Jane would see a doctor, thought she obviously didn’t.
I am currently taking Fluoxetine, Clonazepam, Perhenazine, and Strattera. They keep me…functional. Like I can go to work and deal with my asshole of a boss just fine, but there is rarely a day that goes by where I don’t have a bout with deep, dark feelings of emptiness.
Yet, I still have hope. Hope for my future and hope for a reunion with Jane. I just do. I’ve always been one to hold onto hope no matter how high the odds are stacked against me. Maybe it’s bad that I still have hope, at least for Jane and I, because it may be false hope and I don’t distinguish between the two, but I just can’t let the hope go regardless. That’s not who I am.
John is trying to find a place to live in NYC at the end of March and anyone who might need a roommate can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, John, for your courage in coming forward with your story to encourage other men to do the same!