I will never again read a book about mental illness by someone who doesn’t suffer from it. Yesterday morning, I found my mother’s copy of a book on borderline personality disorder that I’ve long resisted reading because of its name: I Hate You — Don’t Leave Me. I decided to peruse a few chapters, hoping they might shed some light on the increased rage I’ve been experiencing. This was a mistake.
A few paragraphs in, the shame was dripping like sweat down my body. The borderline’s outbursts of rage are as unpredictable as they are frightening… Most therapists will, whenever possible, try to limit the number of borderline patients they treat.
I want to tell you about a very stupid and embarrassing thing I did this morning. (If my shame list was still being written, this would be on it.) When I got home from Milwaukee last night, I squeezed ketchup and mustard all over my face and took some pictures of the aftermath in one of many personal attempts to challenge aesthetic conventions. And then – big mistake – I posted it on social media. It went mostly “unliked” and, feeling humiliated, I deleted it. I do this quite often. I post a photo, wait to see if it’s worth any social capital, and, if it’s not, I virtually incinerate it. I then spend a few hours fighting the urge to put a Jewel-Osco bag over my head.
How’s that for an unflattering truth? I’m mortified to confess that I’ve enlisted myself in this battle for online attention, but I’m doing it because you’ve probably enlisted yourself, too.
Let’s start with a disclaimer: “Bottle Up and Explode” Syndrome is not a real thing. It’s actually the title of an Elliott Smith song that pops into my head every time I have an emotional breakdown.
Traveling alone is hard. Traveling alone with a history of mental illness can be hellish. There are days when all I want is to go home, sleep in my own bed, and hang out with friends who I know I won’t have to say goodbye to in a few days.
Unfortunately, I don’t know where home is anymore, and even if I did, I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet. I have things to undo, things to learn, ways in which I desperately need to grow. I need to learn to be okay with solitude and to take care of myself without relying too heavily on other people.
I have slept in 20 different beds since June 27.