Girl Interrupted was one of my favorite movies for a long time, probably right up until I had my very own experience with hospitalization. I still enjoy it, but I don’t watch it as much anymore.
I’ve also never read the book, but I’d really like to give it a whirl.
I really don’t know a thing about Borderline Personality Disorder except that I explored it very briefly to consider if I might have it, probably around 10 years ago. When I didn’t really relate to many of the symptoms, I dropped it and forgot about it.
I’ve met a handful of people with BPD now, and a couple with comorbid Bipolar Disorder diagnoses. These people have always brought up something familiar to me, but I could never put my finger on what. It roused something very close to me, but not myself. Last week I finally figured out what it was.
A friend of mine took the time to describe her experience with someone close to her with Borderline Personality Disorder last week. What she said left me like a deer in the headlights, because her experiences sounded similar to some that I’ve had as well.
The singular person in my past who has hurt me the most, who constantly manipulated and abused me, well she described him to a T and she’s never met him. I always knew there was some kind of issue there, something lurking within him, something he couldn’t seem to control, but I had no idea what it was.
Now I do.
As a note, I don’t want to suggest that all people with BPD are abusive or manipulative because that simply isn’t true. Unfortunately that is just the nature of my own experience.
I feel stuck a little bit, because I find there is this very thin line.
Even though I have bipolar disorder, I need the people in my life to hold me accountable for my actions. I realize that I have done some pretty terrible things in the past, but to say, “Oh it was just mania,” or, “Oh, it was just bipolar disorder,” feels like it discredits my actions as a human being. All actions, even those that I take when I am feeling well. It is true that I have trouble controlling myself at times, but I’d like to believe that I’ve come far enough to be able to recognize those times and seek immediate help when they occur. Unfortunately, that doesn’t erase the things I have already done, but I’d like to think that it will at least help curb future instances.
So how about when the abuse I received was from someone with Borderline Personality Disorder? He was having an extremely difficult time, I know that, I was there. But how accountable can I hold him? How much of it was actions he couldn’t really control?
I waited as long as I could for him to make an attempt to get help, to work on change… but he didn’t. I don’t feel guilty anymore for ending our friendship because it was ludicrous to allow him to hurt me over and over and over again, and I know now that nothing I could have done would have helped him, he needed to want to help himself.
My sympathy has been gone for a very long time now.
But this week part of me feels some resurgent pang of sympathy, even though I was the victim. Is that crazy? I can directly relate to the difficult internal struggle of mental illness, but don’t think that will make me shrug off the iron coat of pain he built for me.