“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is the human equivalent to a box full of Christmas lights. There’s so much beauty and brightness and colour in that box, if you’re willing to untangle the strings. How many times has Christmas come around… you go to the closet on a mission. This year you are going to have the best decorated house on the block. You pull the big bin of lights off the shelf, and remove the lid. And every time the same thing happens. You find an end to a string of lights, you begin pulling it out of the box, and suddenly you have the mess of who-knows-how-many strings of lights tangled and hanging from that single strand in your hand. Annoyance. Frustration. And usually anger to a boiling point where the lid is put back on and the bin is heaved back up on the shelf.
That annoyance. That anger. That frustration. That is life with BPD. We try countless times to remove the lights from the box in a tidy and untangled manor, but the reality is our lives…our minds are a tangled mess. We can’t make sense of it all. We try. We make progress. and then there’s another tangle. Always more tangles. And no matter how many lights we remove and untangle, when we look in the bin it’s always full. Always tangled. Always overwhelming. This is what I like to call the journey of therapy. It’s hugely beneficial. HUGELY!! But it’s one of those things that just when you start feeling like you’re getting it…like you’re understanding a bit of whats going on, a relapse happens. No matter how far you’ve come you look in the box and see a mess of lights and wires. It’s overwhelming. The weight of the world gets dropped squarely on your shoulders. You retreat. You recluse. You shut down.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” I hate this quote and love it at the same time. I hate it, because it’s a difficult concept to accept. I like to think that my problems are “out of my control”. I like to feel that I’m the victim to the wrath of mental illness. I like to believe I’m helpless and hopeless. But why? Because it’s easy. It’s not an easy life… not by any means. But it’s easier to just live with it. Live in misery. Live tormented. Or maybe not even live at all… maybe taking the route of ending everything is appealing. The fact of the matter is that any of these is easier than the gruelling challenge of actually dealing with your illness. Of taking the steps of getting help. Of changing that course and shifting that weight around. But as much as I hate that quote, I love and take comfort in it as well. “It’s not the load that breaks us down.” It’s not the illness. It’s not the anxiety. It’s not the depression. It’s not the anger. It’s not the self-hate. “It’s the way you carry it.” That you can change. That you can adjust. That you can alter.
BPD is maladaptive, or learned behaviours. We have the power and the ability to relearn, to alter the way we carry the stresses and the effects of our illness. We can keep carrying it the way we have been, letting it beat and bury us into the ground. Or we can chose a different course of action. Adjust the load. Sometimes it helps, other times it’ll make it worse. But the key is that “I” have the ability. The power. The authority to change the course of my life. I can either throw those strings of lights back into the bin on the shelf, or I can slowly, painstakingly, ad seemingly impossibly sort through the chaos and the mess in hopes that the end result will be a continuous strand. That is the question. That is the challenge. That is Borderline Personality Disorder.