My Husband’s Been Married to Borderline Personality Disorder for 5 Years

CW: Suicide

 

 

This week my husband hid the Percocet without telling me. He hid the Percocet because a few weeks ago I sat on my bed with a handful of them, not feeling sad, just calm and empty and ready to finally not be alive anymore. I didn’t do it because of a strange, almost vain reasoning: the opioid epidemic. I didn’t want anyone thinking that I overdosed on Percocet because I was a closeted, functioning addict.

 

My husband hid the Percocet because he knew this story. He did it without fanfare. I only found out because I needed one for pain so he mentioned over the phone, “Oh by the way, I moved the Percocet to that top shelf you can’t reach, you’ll need to get the step stool.”

 

This is a type of everyday life for him and for us. It is the type of life where he checks in every so often to every day, depending on how it’s going, to ask me if i’m “doing okay” which is largely code for “do you want to end your life and/or never leave bed again?” and where I’ve agreed to always tell him the truth. Sometimes its “I’m fine” sometimes it’s, “I can’t do this” and occasionally it’s, “Maybe we need to talk about me going back to the hospital.”

 

Despite the fact that my husband has intense anxiety, we have managed to find balance in this reality. He is not anxious so much as concerned. My suicidality just is.

 

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. My diagnosis was very recent (within the last two years) but I’ve been miserable since I can remember.  After my diagnosis I avoided therapy so much of what I’ve learned about BPD has been from websites and forums.  The more I gathered the more things just fit. So much about what others didn’t get about me started to make sense.

 

It explained why a chief complaint of a high school friend was that I “felt too much.” It explained why I fall in love so hard, fast, and unyielding. It explained why even my depression did not seem like other people’s depression. It helped my gracious husband understand my extreme affection and dependence on another man who (despite knowing him for almost a decade) I didn’t really know, we learned together he was my “Favorite Person” (Note: for those unfamiliar, a Favorite Person or FP is an individual whom someone with BPD is extremely emotionally dependent on and often swings between intense idolizing and devaluation).

 

It explained my impulsivity which was the first sticky point in my and my husband’s relationship. He doesn’t handle change well. Not just big change either. The first time it came up was early in our relationship when while walking out to his car I told him about a battle of the bands I had just heard about and asked would he be up for doing that for our date instead. He had a bit of a breakdown. Explained how he really didn’t like that I was always changing plans after we’d agreed on what we wanted to do. He wouldn’t learn for another few years how I packed up what I could and moved across the country to be with him with no job, $500 in my bank account, and living with a guy I found on a craigslist ad who said I could have a room for free if I drove him around. What we were doing that day was small potatoes. Still, it was and is difficult for me.  We came to an agreement. I told him I’d try but that I would never be the type of person to settle down. If he needed someone that could be rooted he’d need to find someone else, but that I would do my best to try not to change things without notice unless I felt like I’d explode otherwise.  

 

I really think that is what it is all about. I have seen so many people on Twitter or forums afraid that finding love with BPD is impossible. But my relationship is not a unicorn (though I feel fairly certain no one will find a husband as wonderful as mine) but I do think it’s about honesty, which can be hard for us with BPD.

 

I don’t mean honesty as in not telling lies, but honest about what we need and what we feel. For many of us, we’ve so long been criticized because of what and how we feel; add to that a difficulty trusting and a desire to accommodate and it makes it hard to be truthful about what we need. While I’m not some type of relationship guru, I think that’s imperative.  

 

Voicing what you need to a person that you care about helps you self-care and ensures you’re with a person that can love you back because some people won’t be able to.

 

My husband loves a woman who he has to worry will take her life.

He loves a woman whose emotional buoyancy is strongly attached to a different male.

He loves a woman that can’t be still despite his need for calm.

He loves someone that rarely is able to believe he loves her and he won’t leave.

He loves someone who gets jealous at the idea of him loving children more than her.

 

But even before a diagnosis, before we had words or names for these aspects of my personality, I told him they were there and he told me he’d take them. He loved my mental illness and that helped me love myself. I am now proud that I ‘feel too much’ when before those words haunted me.

We celebrated our 5 year anniversary this week. That isn’t a long time, but I didn’t plan to live this long, so it feels like everything. I didn’t plan to marry for love, but figured I’d marry out of loneliness, so this is a gift. I guess I just want those who are so worried you’re unlovable due to mental illness to know that it is okay and you are allowed to need differently. That there are people out there who are okay with loving differently and validating you a million times in a million different ways. But I do think it takes being okay with yourself so you can let others know what you need and sometimes that part is really hard.

A Convergence or a Fork in the Road

I have been going back and forth between writing a blog or leaving it be for some time now. I feel like I have things to say, but not necessarily anything that so many other people in the disability community and beyond aren’t also saying.

And then this week happened.

This week I have been exhausted. I have both ‘mental illness’ and chronic illness and both have been acting up.  A week ago I sat on my bed staring at a handful of pills I intended to swallow not because I was sad but because I am tired.  

Then I fought through this week to Wednesday where a young boy killed 17 people and every argument I see, on both sides, points to mental illness as the culprit. I see young people scared to go to school and people realizing that evacuation practices leave so many people with disabilities in danger.

Then I get to today, when the House has voted on H.R. 620 to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act creating notification requirements and waiting periods for people to make businesses accountable for their non compliance with the law.  On top of that my body is flaring and I am in so much pain it hurts to move.

And I think, now, I can’t not say things.  I am a person with significant mental illness who lives in near constant pain and exhaustion. I am a woman with disabilities who is an advocate by profession and a burgeoning activist.  I am a student of emergency management with hopes to change the way we keep people of all functions and abilities safe.

I am also a wife. A sister. Queer. Black. Hispanic. African-American. A million other things. I hope this will be a place to celebrate all of those while being truthful about the reality created by living within those intersections in our society.

It’s been a long week. I have a lot to say about it. I guess this will be the start.