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Sometimes my skin doesn’t quite fit. I wriggle inside of it, like there’s some kind of alien being trying to get out. I look in a mirror and wonder who I am. I can be at home yet still feel lost; feel emptiness even with a full life. The safe zones that anchor me can sometimes become destabilized in my mind, making those secure spaces feel exposed, leaving me vulnerable even to myself. Some days I just never seem quite right. Life on these kind of days can be very tiring. It can also be reflective and productive as we can share empathy with others who feel very similar feelings, but, too often it’s a daily challenge. It’s as if my soul is constantly searching for some kind of fulfillment and validation, some respite from restlessness. With mixed feelings coming and going, blending and recurring, it can be very hard to concentrate and focus, especially on tasks as the butterfly mind just wants to flit from flower to flower before appreciating the nectar at each stop. BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) can make the ordinary, every day mundane seem extraordinary as emotional states can magnify ideas and situations into epic proportions. That’s not always a negative thing. Admittedly, as we split (people with BPD tend toward splitting) bad can become real bad but also beautiful can become spectacularly beautiful. Like a Shakespeare love sonnet, it’s not all drama and gloom.
As I muse over my days, I find many aspects of my symptoms are commonly shared with others. We only need to spend a little time on a dedicated mental health forum to realize we are not alone. We are never alone no matter how much we feel like we are, there’s always someone else out there who feels in a very similar way. I’ve written about my personal experience with BPD before (see here: https://paintedbrain.org/editorial/99-ape-1-fruitcake/# ) but one thing I can never stress enough is how important it is to share feelings, wherever you are comfortable doing so, albeit to a family member, a friend or an empathic person on an online forum, there’s always someone out there ready to share the weight of your concerns with empathy and love, and, the more we open up, the more people will open up with us. Those feelings of not fitting in one’s own skin stop making us feel so isolated when we realize others feel that way too.
Chronic emptiness, not quite fitting in and feeling lost are common symptoms of BPD. Whether these symptoms originate in trauma is debatable, and I imagine different for each and every unique one of us. I started this musing suggesting that sometimes my skin doesn’t quite fit. That feeling of lacking self and place, which I suppose is a kind of identity crisis in miniature form, not too amplified but still not quite right. Perhaps the chronic emptiness creates a vacuum which sucks the self away, leaving me feeling so lost. I don’t think anyone will ever quite put their finger on it, even science is torn between a physical explanation originating in the brain and an emotional one originating in the mind. How though, can we self help on days like these? I find the best way is to channel energy into being creative, to write, to draw, to take photographs or just spend time looking at art or listening to music. The creative arts help us share and reflect, help us to focus and concentrate when the mind is unsettled, help us to express the unexplainable elements of ourselves. I may not always fit in, even with myself, I may feel lost at times, but, art in some form always gives me a home and a sanctuary. I hope it does for you too.