I Find Myself Here Again.

Most people with BPD are classed as having the same main symptom, fear of abandonment, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, driving people away because of those frantic efforts.

I have learnt over the past few years I am not one of those people, I am not scared of abandonment, I accept it as inevitable. I do not show frantic efforts to keep people close to me, I do not fight to have relationships and most of all I do not expect anyone to stay. But I do go to frantic efforts to keep people from getting close to me, I take pride in knowing that no single person knows everything about me. I let people walk in and out of my life as they please knowing they never knew me and I never invested in my relationship with them. I see being alone as a victory, that I have won at preserving myself.

There are 3 exceptions to this that I view as the people that know me the most but I’ve kept a healthy relationship with. My mum and my 2 best friends. I don’t have to try and keep them in my life, they are there for the long haul, we have smooth relationships and when I am with them I don’t feel my BPD panic tearing me down thought by thought.

The problems come with the other exceptions. I do not always have an FP (What is an FP?) like some do but I have had them in the past, and I have one now.

It always starts the same way, someone listens to me and they start to understand the way I do things and why I do them.

Then they spend more time with me and when they ask me questions I don’t make things up, I give honest answers.

Next, they start to ask me how I am and text me when we’re not face to face.

I start to crave there attention, my emotions are invested in them. Who I am is invested in them.

Then I really start to need them. I need communication with them, I need to know that if I was willing too (which I never am) they would listen to everything that happens or has happened to me and they would be OK with it.

They tell me they love me and are here for me, I tell them I love them too, always in a platonic way.

I miss them when they are not around, even if that’s only been a couple of hours, then I try to find out when they will next be around.

I need them even more.

Then something happens, we don’t talk as much, they leave (or I leave first to make sure they can’t leave me), not because they did anything wrong, or because they know how I’ve become but because life happens. I don’t fight this part like most people would, I don’t fight to make them stay, I don’t use those frantic efforts, I don’t try and get there attention again. I let them leave.

Then I promise myself this was the last time, I put rules in place for myself in relationships to avoid it. To make sure no one knows me enough, or I don’t know them enough to like them.

I put everything i can into not letting it happen, I try so hard.

Then suddenly, without noticing, I find myself here again, missing my latest absent FP, not scared of abandonment just saddened by it. I find myself here again, now, sad, wondering how long it will take me to get over this one, how long it will be painful, how long it will be between the pain stopping and the cycle starting again. Last time it was a 18 months and that is the quickest I’ve ever had a new FP, I desperately hope it will be longer this time, because the end of an FP is almost the end of me.

World Suicide Prevention Week.

I only ever seem to use this blog or any blog now when it’s a national something relating to mental health day, so I thought yet again I would reboot it for this week.

So, let’s talk about suicide.

Suicide rates in the UK rose 11.8% in the last year, 6859 people took there own life. I don’t know if I agree that all suicide is preventable, but if that is the case that’s almost 7000 deaths that could of been prevented. In America alone over a million people attempted suicide. it’s easy to talk about statistics and numbers but each number counted was a person, a person who somebody lost, who somebody cried over.

Suicide prevention will always be a cause close to me and in the years I have been writing about it on various platforms, or talking about it with people, luckily I have seen reactions change. A lot of people are less embarrassed, more willing to engage in conversation, but there are still a lot of myths that people hold on to. So for day 1, let’s look at some of them.

1- People who are suicidal just want to die.

A lot of people who think about suicide don’t just want to die (some do), most are going through something or are feeling something that they need to stop and don’t know how to else to make it stop. Normally suicide isn’t the first thing that’s thought about, it is the last thing and they have tried everything else they can think of. “The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die; they do not want to live the life they have. The distinction may seem small but is very important. It’s why talking through other options at the right time is so vital.

2- talking about suicide might put the idea in someone’s head.

Talking about suicide in a constructive way will not make someone suicidal. If they are thinking about suicide they would of done before you mentioned spoke about it. Talking about suicide will not take someone’s life, but being embarrassed or not wanting to talk about it might make someone feel more alone. A lot of the time someone who feels suicidal will not talk about it for fear of the reaction they will get, what people might think of them or how it will make the other person feel but by initiating the conversation you give someone the chance to be open about how they feel.

3- only mentally ill people think about suicide.

Many are, and at the point where suicide is thought about most are seriously ill. However life events or other stressors can be a trigger without a prediagnosed mental health condition.

4- when someone survives a suicide attempt, it is going to be OK.

Someone surviving a suicide attempt does not mean they are no longer suicidal. Recovery takes a long time and is a journey, it is rare that someone will “snap out of it.” In most cases when someone survives but does not receive the right support they will try again.

5- as long as I’m supporting them they will be Ok.

People need other people, they need friends or family or people they can rely on. But that is not enough and professional help needs to be sought. Particularly when someone appears out of control or is acting in a way that might make you think about if they have capacity to ask for help or not. Being the friend supporting someone who is ill or contemplating suicide is difficult and may mean you have to make decisions like calling for professional support or using emergency services.

6- Suicide is impulsive.

In some cases it is, particularly when particular mental illnesses are a contributing factor but some people think about it for a long time or plan it or try to make logical reasons to why or why not. Each is as serious as the other.

See you tomorrow.

Because tomorrow is better with you in it.

Get help here

Remember, if someone is in crisis and at serious risk of harming themselves or someone else, use 999.

Let’s talk BPD

I have spent the last hour browsing different Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) articles online while Benidorm plays in the background. It’s rare I learn something new in these, but today I did, not particularly about my illness but about raising awareness of it. Apparently, May is Borderline Personality Awareness month.

I haven’t blogged on here for a while, mainly because I write more when I’m struggling as a way to process what’s going on and recently, for a while now (luckily) things have been pretty stable. When I read it was BPD awareness month I thought about how if I’d know i’d of written something new each day on statuses to explain what BPD really is but seen as I missed the majority of the month I thought I’d take to the blog again.

Here are 31 things about BPD, one for each day of the month. Some are specific to me, some are general facts and some are things I wish people knew.

1 – There are 40 different terms that are used when talking about BPD which all mean BPD, some of these are BPD, emotionally unstable personality disorder, emotional disregulation disorder and complex developmental trauma.

2 – These different terms make it harder for clinicians and patients to understand what is been talked about and diagnosed, BPD is still the most commonly used name despite the official name of the disorder changing to emotionally unstable disorder several years ago

3 – There are 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD, a person who has 5 or more of these can be diagnosed however all the criteria are blanket terms which branch into different issues, meaning a group of people with BPD could sit together and not one of them experience the same symptoms

4- The only symptom all people with BPD share is emotional intensity/instability

5- BPD is normally comorbid with other mental illnesses, the most common of these are depression, anxiety, substance misuse and eating disorders

6- It is common, in times of emotional stress to experience psychosis and disassociation.

7- Disassociation is difficult to describe, the best thing I can compare it with is being in a dream like trance, you’re on auto pilot, you don’t know what’s going on around you and things done feel real, but somehow you can still do things

8- People with BPD can experience flashbacks

9- No one is really sure what causes BPD, it has been suggested that it is a mixture of genetics and traumatic experiences

10- BPD is highly stigmatised, people with BPD are labelled manipulative, attention seeking, not worth the effort and hopeless cases, this stigma has caused funding to be withdrawn from treatment plans

11- the emotional extremes of BPD are not triggered by huge events, one word can trigger severe depression, one tiny change to a day can trigger mania

12- this emotional unpredictability has been classed by professionals as “unbearable” and “too much to handle.”

13- BPD has one of the highest suicide rates of any mental illness. 70% of people diagnosed will attempt suicide, 10% will succeed.

14- For people with BPD suicide and self harming thoughts can become obsessive and intrusive

15- Over 40% of people diagnosed with BPD are initially misdiagnosed with something else first

16- BPD can have some strange symptoms caused by the umbrella diagnostic criteria, these include

17- Oversharing

18- Emotionally shutting off / refusing to have close friendships or relationships

19- Appearing emotionless or cold hearted

20- being tired or physically ill

21- People with BPD diagnosis’s make up at least 20% of patients in inpatient units in the UK

22- People with BPD make up almost 10% of A and E presentations

23- BPD is classed as a sever mental illness which needs long term treatment, group therapy, one to own therapy and crisis management. There are currently 3 places in the Uk which offer this, despite 0.7% of the population having this diagnosis, that’s 448,000 People.

24- BPD and bipolar are often confused as the same thing but they are very different, the key difference relates to how quickly moods and emotions cycle and the thought processes behind these

25- there are no medications specifically to treat BPD

26- Splitting or Black and white thinking is a common and misunderstood symptom of BPD An explanation of what this is can be found here

27- the focus of BPD treatment is not how to get rid of it but how to learn to live with it having less of an impact on day to day life

28- personality disorders are there own category of mental illness, they are not mood disorders, anxiety disorders or psychotic disorders by so share some of the same symptoms

29- People with BPD share some positive traits, it has been proven that generally they are more creative, expressive, compassionate and can pick up on others emotions easier than neurotypicals

30- early 20s are the most common time to be diagnosed

31- Despite the common myth, it is possible for people with BPD to go onto live a normal life with the right treatment and support

If you are worried about you or someone you know having BPD Click here

If you want to learn more about BPD, try this amazing explanation Video

If you or someone you know are in crisis call 116 123

If you or someone you know is an immediate risk to themselves or others dial 999

Am I human yet?

Sometimes I don’t feel human.

I assess my life and realise it’s a some total of experiences and memories and I get stuck. I realise to some extent everybody is made up of where they’ve been, lessons they’ve learnt, what they’ve faced. It shapes us as people. But sometimes I feel like I’m not a person, I’m a robot, who I am, what I do, it’s dictated by who I once was and who I have been. It feels like I’m on autopilot and it leaves me asking questions like why did I do that? Why are these memories still there? Why does no one know this about me? When will I just be normal?

For the past couple of weeks this has been my state. All because of one thing, one word I said. One counselling session I had and within that just one answer I gave out of many. The word I gave as my answer, a one word answer has left me experiencing flashbacks everyday. Sometimes on the days I’m not distracted, it’s left me experiencing them all day, unable to do anything much more than relive my memories.

I hate the word flashbacks.

It brings to mind Hollywood scenes of people lost in there thoughts then snapping back to reality with people around them looking confused. Whenever I think of the word my mind goes to the newer Charlie and the chocolate factory film. Where Willy Wonka flashes back to his childhood in a dramatic manner and makes people question his sanity. The reality is much different.

I always have the same one to begin with. When it happens I go onto autopilot, it doesn’t stop me doing the things I need to do. I can hold a conversation, work, go about my daily life without anybody noticing. While I’m doing that I’m also lost in my memories. I can remember everything. I can remember the conversation, how everything looked, how I felt, what I was wearing, what the 2 other people involved were wearing. I can remember how the front door looked, how the sun was out, how everyone was sat. It’s all consuming and no matter what I look like I’m doing or thinking, I’m not thinking about anything but what my brain has reminded me of.

I say I always have the same one to begin with, sometimes it’s others but when it’s this one I know I’m in trouble and it’s this one that I’ve had everyday recently.

Once that ones over it goes to another, then another, sometimes it’s stays in the same place, I relive every moment of being in that place. Sometimes it’s stays there for a while and then moves on, suddenly I’m back in the back of an ambulance, I’m back on my bathroom floor, I’m back in hospital.

Sometimes after a few minutes I’ll snap out of it and feel I’ve got away lightly, sometimes it will be hours later and I feel unable to carry on and I beg with myself to forget about it all, to move on, to be normal.

Sometimes, like right now, I debate running away, hopefully thinking if I started a new life somewhere everything would be better, I’d forget everything that’s ever happened and start becoming a person.

Sometimes, like right now, it becomes to painful and I start to hope that I have an overactive imagination. That non of these things really happened and that I’ve made them up without knowing. But as hard as I wish that I know it’s not true.

With the flashbacks come a desperation to tell somebody every single part of my existence. Every story I have to tell and hope that makes them go away, but I know I can never do that.

Sometimes I write it all down, but I’ve learnt that that only makes it more vivid.

Like an unwelcome hotel guest they take up a room in my brain and when they come I’m reminded how much I hate them and I’m left just waiting for them to check out.

They are the part of my life I don’t have a plan for, I don’t have a coping mechanism. They come and go as the please and I am left helpless until they leave.

Fighting with Food.

I’ve never been a normal weight. I’ve always been big. When I was 5 I weighed 5 stone, and every year I put on another stone until I was 14 stone at 14. After that I started to try and do something about it for myself, I was motivated for myself rather than other people telling me what to do. I became the queen of yo yo dieting. At my lightest I was 11 stone, my heaviest 18.

Funny thing is I don’t particularly remember being an unhealthy child, I don’t have recollections of eating too much or eating junk food, I remember looking at my thinner friends at meal times and thinking “you eat three times as much as me, why am I the fat one.” I may not remember how I got that way, but I do remember what happened as a result of it.

When I was 5 my school sent me to a dietician, I was told I wasn’t allowed seconds at meal times and wasn’t allowed puddings at school. I was never bothered about losing the food, what I was bothered about was the isolation. I was 5 and I was already different to everyone else but I didn’t lose any weight.

When I was 10 my mum took me to weight watchers. She’d send me off to school with i box of lettuce (literally) and I’d weigh in with the adults every week. I never lost any weight.

When I was 12 I went on slim fast. I took milkshakes for packed lunches and ate salads for dinner every day, I still never lost any weight.

The reason I didn’t lose weight was that I ate in secret, I was and still am an emotional eater and even worse sometimes a bored eater. At those young ages, I was already unhappy, and the thing that distracted me from that was food.

But then something changed. At 13 my mood was even lower, I suddenly wasn’t just a bit sad, I was depressed. I wasn’t struggling with puberty, I was struggling with my existence. That’s a tension that takes more than food to release, that’s also when I found self harm. Suddenly I didn’t need food to calm the emotion anymore, I had a new way. So I started dieting, really dieting, i did every quick fix in the book and learnt all the tricks. I was determined and I was going to be thin. Little did I know then that that was just another coping method, another thing for me to obsessively control. But, I did it. I lost the weight.

Then disaster struck, my self harm was discovered. My mum ran through the house and collected anything I could possibly hurt myself with. She checked by bags after I’d been shopping, there was no where to hide anything. Suddenly my coping mechanism was gone.

So I ate. I ate a lot.

Then I felt guilty I’d messed up my diet. I felt ashamed I was so weak. I felt horrified at the disgusting person I thought I was.

For the first time I made myself sick… and I loved it, every single second, especially getting on the scales.

I felt safe in my habits, I would lose weight, I’d get pretty, I’d finally fit in with my friendship group, and best of all I’d never be caught. Because no one expects the fat girl to have an eating disorder.

It became a daily occurrence, multiple times a day for as long as it took for my mum to forget about the self harm and weaken her guard so I could pick it up again. When I could start self harming again the food stuff became less intense.

It was always there.

Always.

But the vomiting emerged and disappeared again like the moles in the old arcade games of whac-a-mole.

The dieting came and went.

My weight yo yod. I could go from obese to normal weight and back again in a couple of months. I was good at losing weight. I was good at putting it on.

I learnt the calories in everything, I learnt every pro-mia and pro-ana trick in the book. I could sit for hours and tell you the easiest and most effective methods. The film ‘to the bone’ (which is probably one of the most accurate ED films I’ve ever seen) describes this as ‘calorie Aspergers.’ Although I don’t appreciate the analogy fully, I get where this is coming from. It’s an obsession, an addiction, it’s time consuming and all consuming.

I spent years like this, and they came and went pretty quickly when I look back on it. Sometimes eating disorders are made to look glamorous but the very real side effects meant that –

I started to lose my hair.

My teeth started to rot to the point they would just break in half and fall out.

My nails were yellow.

I was always shivering.

I missed social events that involved food or drinks because of fear of calories.

I failed a subject at school because I was to scared to get up and get some more paper because I thought I would draw attention to how ugly I was.

I refused to leave the house, I firmly believed I was so ugly if someone saw me in the street it might make them sick.

I found a new thing, chewing food and spitting it out, all the taste, non of the calories.

Then I went to university. The freedom only made my habits worse until by the end of first year I was spending so much on binge food I was getting myself in debt, I was throwing up over 5 times a day. Some days I felt like that wasn’t enough so I would take 40 laxatives as well. I even started smoking because I read it was an appetite suppressant.

One night, like many others, I passed out on my bathroom floor. When I came round again I had the realisation that I was literally flushing money down the toilet.

The next day I registered for a doctor and made an appointment, I was referred to the ED department of the local mental health services (after being told, really helpfully, that I shouldn’t get my hopes up for treatment because they only treat ‘proper eating disorders’).

A few months later I sat infront of a doctor. He told me he’d read my notes and asked me what I thought the problem was.

I told him I didn’t know.

He told me that was a lie, that I was a smart girl and I knew myself that I was bulimic.

He told me we would break for lunch, he said I could stay in the room if I didn’t want to eat and he would bring me some water.

He recommended me for treatment and put me on meds to stop my oesophagus rupturing and sent me on my way.

He got it. He didn’t tell me I was to fat to be Ill. He didn’t tell me I was making it up. He told me it was real, I wasn’t on my own and I was going to get treatment. After the session I went to the shop, I bought food for dinner and I ate it, and I didn’t get rid of it.

I had a mixed experience in treatment, in the end I gave up going because it was setting me back but it didn’t make the treatment itself wrong, in fact the skills and thing I learned set me well on the way to recovery.

For a while food wasn’t an issue anymore.

But like any addiction that’s not dealt with properly it was always in the back of my mind. My mood cycles change regularly and you can guarantee that each one changes my relationship with food. My disordered food behaviours are always the first coping mechanism to reappear and the last ones to leave.

I catch myself with different thought patterns depending on my mood.

When everything so stable I get healthier, I eat better and I exercise more and I find myself losing weight in a healthy way. Weight loss is always in my mind. But when I’m stable in my mood I think about it logically, I am overweight, that is physically unhealthy and needs to change. To do that I need to eat better and exercise. I can talk about weight loss, tell you that I am comfortable in my appearance but need to lose weight for my physical health and be confident that I believe this.

When my mood is low I catch my own bad though patterns and behaviour but I’m never willing to change it. I have an underlying belief that my weight is what makes me unhappy, so when my mood sucks I believe that I’d be completely happy all the time if I was thin. So I start the quest.

Firstly, I stop eating and drinking. A few days in to that I’ll start to feel ill from dehydration so I’ll drink. Then I’ll feel like I’ve messed everything up so why stop there? I’ll eat again. Immediately after I eat I’ll feel like a failure, get rid of the food by any means possible and finally feel empty again. Feeling empty gives me a buzz, getting on the scales everyday to see the weight coming off gives me even more of a buzz. Then the cycle will begin again and will last until my mood changes, and then a bit longer while I work on breaking the cycle I create.

When my mood goes up, I’m awake for days, I shop for clothes even more than normal and I work on smashing calorie and weight loss targets. I get weighed everyday and depending on what the scales say set my calories for the day, anything between fasting and 1,800 calories. I burn off what I’ve eaten because of the boost in energy that comes with hyper mania. When I’m in that state I’m always successful and nothing can stop me. I get the buzz from going down clothes sizes.

I have come to accept that although generally if my mood is stable food isn’t a big issue for me anymore, it will always be an area I relapse into. I will never have a normal relationship with food, and to be honest I don’t even know what that would look like for me. Now it’s about controlling the patterns, maybe my next relapse will only last for a couple of weeks rather than a couple of months. Maybe I can pick up warning signs quicker than normal.

A stable mood means more stable thinking, I can identify the things that trigger my behaviours and I can avoid them. I can stop conversations that will set me back. I can stay motivated by health rather than a desperation to have a thigh gap.

But nobody is permanently stable, whether it’s mental health related or not there are always Highs and lows, and for me there will always be food based behaviours that go along side that.

While I was in treatment I was given a list of what normal food behaviours were, it was explained to me that I just take them to extremes.

It is normal to eat junk food or overeat on a bad day. It is not normal for that to mean repeatedly binging and feeling guilty about it.

It is normal to not eat as much if you’re stressed or agitated or even just busy. It is not normal to stop eating for a week because your preoccupied.

It is normal to cut out certain foods to try and get healthy. It is not normal to cut out all food.

Being diagnosed with bulimia and BPD has made me realise how most of my issues come from living in the extremes and struggling to find a middle ground. I rarely focus myself on eating disorder recovery, what I need to focus on is living in the middle and not the extremes. In BPD talk we use the terms black and white and grey. It is natural for me to live in the black and white, I need to live in the grey. We also call it ‘splitting’ or ‘split thinking’ which are terms I identify with all to well. I strongly think that when I get to grey, if I ever can get to the grey, most of my issues will fall in place. I think my issues with food aren’t issues with food, they are issues from the mentality I carry in most areas of my life, they are issues that don’t belong in the grey.

The lies I tell myself.

I’m currently on holiday.

I’ve had a pretty shit few months and I thought I just want to see some sun, so booked a break and here I am, sat on my balcony I’m Tenerife, red from the sun, watching Netflix with a stack of drink from the all inclusive bar, over looking the sea.

There’s no place I’m happier than in a hot country, it’s the place I crave for pretty much every day. Anywhere will do as longs as there’s sun and sea to look at.

But I find something weird about being abroad. The sea, the mountains, the sun, it makes me realise how small I am and how actually as humans were pretty small and insignificant and I find that liberating. I also find it’s where I do my best thinking. I become this deeper person. inward looking, constantly questioning, forward planning, existentially philosophising about my life is a task that faces me and chases me around the pool.

This time I’m on holiday with my mum and on the first night she asked me some questions and there began this years questions for myself. She asked me about my future and I answered her with my rehearsed lies. The lies I tell everyone and tell myself so often I’ve started to believe them but when I said them to my mum. I instantly came to the realisation I don’t believe them. So let’s take a look at them shall we?

1-my view on having kids.

I tell everyone that asks me that I don’t want my own children, that I just don’t see the need and I’d be happier and freer on my own.

Truth is I desperately want my own children, I’d be an amazing mum. Truth is I Darn’t admit that because it would mean I’m failing at something I want because I’m such a long way off. Truth is I’d be terrified of bringing a child into the world because they might inherit the pre disposition for mental illness that all my family has, and I’d hate to think I’d bring life to someone who would battle so hard with it.

2- my views on a partner

I tell everyone I don’t want a partner, that I’m independent, that I make my own decisions and don’t have to consider anyone else and that’s best for me

Truth is I’d love to find someone but I refuse to put myself in any situation that might involve a relationship. I’m too much to handle, what if it didn’t work out and it triggered my BPD and it fucked me up even more? What’s the point in trying when I’m so unattractive? Who would ever want someone like me?

3- my view on my career

I tell everyone I don’t care what I do as long as it’s helping someone.

Truth is I don’t really care about that right now, what I actually want is a job that’s easy going and enjoyable so maybe just for once I could focus on having fun rather that stuff that’s so intense, but it feels to selfish to admit that.

4- my views on my past

I tell everyone I’m over it,

That it doesn’t matter and I don’t blame anyone, things just happen and now fuck it, I’ve made something of myself.

Truth is, I’m still angry. There stuff I’ve never told anyone, and even the fact I’ve not told anyone makes me angry. Truth is I feel pretty hard done by, why me? Was it my fault? Who am I to still be upset by all this stuff? But actually, why was it me? Things happen and have happened that should never and that’s not ok.

5- my views on God.

I tell everyone that I don’t believe in God, that i am against organised religion, that the whole thing is ridiculous and cult like.

Truth is I do believe all those things, but I’m desperate to believe in god again, I just don’t. I constantly flashback to my church days and I get it out of my head as soon as possible, because I flashback to the hurt and the pain and the embarrassment I faced. But I miss the purpose, I miss feeling like there’s a point. Sometimes I try and convince myself that god is real and I made a massive mistake leaving the church, but it just doesn’t stick.

I could go on and on about this topic fo days, but 5 is a nice round number and it already got to heavy for my liking, so for now, that’s all.

How I feel about the show ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ as someone with a BPD diagnosis.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a TV show that started running in America in 2015. It only recently became known to me because it was put on Netflix and a few of my friends were watching it. To be honest it came up as suggested a few times but I ignored it, assuming it would just be another rom com about a girl trying to get back with a boy and eventually doing just that. What Crazy Ex Girlfriend actually is, is an exploration of relationships from the perspective of Rebecca Bunch. The protagonist struggles with her mental health and coping with the effects on her every day life. Her story is told through comedy, musical numbers and some intense moments. In season 3 Rebecca Bunch is diagnosed with BPD, borderline personality disorder. As someone with that diagnosis, I generally think they do it as well as possible. Comedic musical theatre TV is, I imagine, a difficult genre to cover a series mental illness so let’s allow some artistic licence. That being said there are still some parts of the show that made me cringe.

What I think was done well –

  1. Ok, so I’m kind of starting at the end here, but this is the part of the show that made me think “I’m so glad they did this.” When Rebecca Bunch googles BPD the show goes into the answers you find on google about the illness. It shows the characters response to these (and it was exactly the same as my response). It shows on the screen how when you google BPD, the internet will tell you that those who suffer are unstable, manipulative, untreatable and 10% will eventually kill themselves. The show talks about how misunderstood the illness is, and even follows the googling scene with a scene from a Rebecca Bunches therapist, talking about how the internet is full or misguided and uneducated information on the subject. I’m so glad this was addressed, stigma and BPD is a massive issue, and this raised it as just that.
  2. Can we just praise the show writers for actually using a BPD diagnosis. This is hardly ever done in TVs and film. If you google shows about depression, anxiety, bipolar etc, a lot of films are suggested (I’m not saying they are correct in doing so, or that they are accurate, or that they haven’t caused damage and stigma in themselves). If you google shows about BPD, you get a list of 1, Girl Interrupted, the rest of the lists consists of fans that have suggested certain characters have the illness but it’s never mentioned. So just using the diagnosis, giving it a name and talking about its symptoms is amazing.
  3. The instability of BPD mood changes fits in perfectly. I’ll admit in the beginning it annoyed me, I felt like the show didn’t portray how long it can take to get over small events and how debilitating it could be. However the nature of TV is that things are resolved in an episode, which fits perfectly with BPD. In an episode of the show we can see a full mood cycle, which is how quick mood cycles can be in real life. It also showed how the little issues that caused instability build on each other if they are not dealt with correctly and how catastrophic that can be.
  4. The show explores moods other than depression. BPD is not mood changes between depression and “normal” it’s also anxiety, hyperactivity, over excitement, impulsiveness etc. Rebecca Bunch is a character that experiences all of these things. The show explores them, there impact and how characters deal with them.
  5. A massive symptom for most people with a Bpd diagnosis is fear of abandonment. This is the focus of the whole show, and it shows how different breakdowns in relationships can influence mood, or how successful relationships can heighten moods.
  6. The show makes reference to anxiety, delusions and disassociation. I particularly love the idea of Rebecca’s anxiety manifesting itself as a hallucination of her younger self. I also love that the show didn’t chicken out of this and made it obvious that it wasn’t just a dream or staying in Rebecca’s head but was actively effecting her ability to function and the other people around her.

The show picks up on some of the small issues that generally get missed and go untalked about. In fact the whole are of BPD is often a silent one with little discussion in culture and media. This show is a step forward, it’s hilarious, brave, entertaining and educating. Also, Rachel Bloom, the actress playing the protagonist is one of the best I’ve seen, both in her comedy and in the depth of the character, she also helped create and produce the show, so you know, genius all round.

That being said, there are some issues I have with the show.

  1. Paula – Paula is Rebecca’s best friend throughout the show and although I love her on an entertainment level I have some issues with how she is portrayed. It is very clear that Paula has some faults, she’s not perfect, non of us are, but she is displayed as a positive and helpful person. This is where I disagree, Paula feeds into Rebecca’s behaviour and struggles to see it is unhealthy until a while into the show. In fact, as someone with BPD I relate to a lot of Paula’s actions and feelings, maybe even more so than Rebecca’s. The need for approval, need for excitement and the need to try and make everyone happy are all things that can also be part of BPD. If someone asked me for advice on a similar friendship I would be encouraging them to limit the influence of that person.
  2. The lead up to diagnosis, if you’ve not seen the show, before the event that leads to diagnosis everything is chaotic. Rebecca does some, well as in the title of the show, crazy stuff. I felt like this went too far, obviously there’s always going to be an entertainment aspect to a show, but watching the things Rebecca did left me in a panic of “people are going to watch this and think that’s how we actually behave. ” Although everybody’s illness is different, people with BPD are generally not stalkers, kidnappers, threatening or prone to psychotic laughing while standing outside someone’s house.

3. Now, I am not one for being adamant that recovery language is the only way we should speak to each other. If I want to call myself crazy, I will. If that’s how I talk about myself or how someone else who struggles wants to talk about themselves as a way to cope that’s also ok. If someone else wants to refer to me as crazy, that’s not Ok. Essentially that is what the title of the show does, by calling it Crazy Ex Girlfriend and then diagnosing, it insinuates that those with that diagnosis are crazy.

Finally, I wanted to separate this point because I believe it is a general issue with Netflix and other streaming sites rather than just the show itself. I found parts of the show difficult to watch. Not in a stereotypical triggering way but in a “this show is so close to home it’s sending me into my own panic” kind of way. I saw so much of myself in Rebecca’s character that it sent me into similar thoughts stemming from ‘that’s so accurate, I probably am going to be alone forever’ and ‘it’s true I have no idea who I am without that certain person as well.’ And ‘what am I doing with my life, maybe I should run away.’ In fact on the back of watching the show I applied for loads of different jobs all over the country and googled how much I’d need to save to be able to run away and start again in my own search to be happy. As dramatic as that all sounds, that’s the nature of the impulsivity, thought spirals and emotion changes of the illness the show is dealing with. Yet there’s no warning on the shows description, there’s no indicator that it may be triggering or that the show deals with a serious mental health issue, or that the show may touch on sensitive areas. Come on Netflix!