Dating and Mental Illness; It’s time to focus on “me” before “we”…

Warning:  This post may have information or opinions that you may find difficult to manage. TW – Abuse, Borderline Personality Disorder, crippling anxiety, sweaty EVERYTHING and all that good stuff

Me: So I texted him at 21:07pm and he read it at 21:10pm but STILL hasn’t replied. He probably doesn’t fancy me anymore right?

Friend: ERM…no he is probably just busy. Didn’t you just spend all weekend together?

Me: Yeah but he probably didn’t mean it and he is probably drafting a text as we speak wanting to end it…ahh fuck I hate myself so much right now. WHY DID I MESSAGE HIM?! I should have left it another day?! I bet he thinks I am really clingy. NOOOOOOO!!!!! Ah fuck this, I am getting into bed, wake me when McDonald’s, KFC and Nandos deliver. Oh and a bottle of vodka comes as standard…

If you are anything like me you have often realised how fucking nightmarish dating really is. I mean even the most secure, grounded and highly confident woman *ahem – Beyoncé* has probably suffered the dreaded anxiety associated with an unreplied to text. (Maybe Beyoncé hasn’t actually, I mean c’mon – look at her?!) BUT the difference between all those lovely ladies and myself is that the anxiety, self-loathing and doubts fade after a while and they remember what awesome fearless warriors they are. Me on the other hand…. not so much. I am somewhat convinced this has something to do with my BPD but also being in chronically depressing and controlling relationships for most if not all of my life has not helped.

Let’s rewind a bit here – I was abused when I was younger so my idea of relationships, love and even sex was warped. My thoughts on how to be in a relationship and keep a guy meant doing everything and anything they wanted. Sounded good in theory but unfortunately much harder to put into practice. I tried this out and don’t get me wrong, at first it really worked. I mean what guy wouldn’t want a girl who would cater to his every need AND could cook a kick arse meal?! But slowly I began to realise that it wasn’t enough. I thought by being exactly what they wanted they would never leave me and they would love me forever but as you probably already know, this was a flawed theory from the start. I never fully understood it – if you had someone who would give you everything and be who you wanted them to be, you would be happy, right? No, because you are not being you – you are being someone you are not, which after a while becomes harder and harder to fake and no matter how hard you try to hide it, the real you comes through (and so it fucking should)

So as you can imagine these relationships ended and ended BADLY because I wasn’t being me. To add insult to injury I also seemed to attract the men who loved to control me and were quite mentally abusive. Consequently, this chipped away at my self-esteem and confidence. I often got left feeling that I was the reason for the inevitable failure of the relationship and felt worthless. Everything I did was wrong or not enough according to them but all I was doing was trying to be someone they wanted.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure that self-assured girls have felt this way but I have noticed they don’t let it get to them and more importantly they don’t let it stop them. They get up, dust themselves off and carry on. True it might take a few days or possibly a few weeks or months but they don’t allow it to affect their day to day lives. Now, I can’t speak for everyone who has a mental disability or illness, but I have yet to manage that. I always jump to the worst-case scenario which is being humiliated and dumped and that’s when the ruminating, negative, detrimental thoughts occur – along with the physiological symptoms such as a panic attacks, stomach cramps, diahorrea and nausea. Sexy right?! Who wouldn’t want to get with this?!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with BPD – I have put a handy definition down below. Feel free to peruse at your leisure. But for those of you who understand or can’t be arsed to read it – BPD is basically a personality disorder where your longstanding attitudes and beliefs cause you problems in your life, you have a strong fear of abandonment and can experience extremely intense and fluctuating emotions. Loads of fun, right?! It’s kind of like being on that crazy million looped roller-coaster at Alton Towers whilst attempting to do your prom night or date night make. As you can imagine it does NOT go well.. and you end up looking AND feeling like a hot MESS

So , what am I trying to say here? What I am trying to say is that in the “normal” world (whatever normal is) dating fucking sucks but when you have that the lovely world of mental illness to contend with, it’s like trying to reason with the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

For me, I realised that although I picked some heinous guys (yes Dad, you were right!) I realised I was with them because deep down I felt I deserved to be treated that way. My self-worth was at an all-time low to put up with some of the stuff I did, so maybe the solution isn’t so much about finding the right person but more about loving yourself the right way and the way you deserve. Easier said than done I know especially after downing too many jaegers after you sent the dreaded double text but fear not!

After many MANY years of dating I have come up with some things that have helped me which could well help YOU. May as well give it a shot – if nothing else the full list will give you a slight giggle and distraction from your phone – unless you are reading this on your phone, in which case – you’re screwed.

1)      If he hasn’t replied within 10 minutes he is probably busy – I have asked my many guy friends why they do this and the answer is nearly always “oh I was busy” OR “I completely forgot” It has NO reflection on you. You are an amazingly beautiful unicorn; a lack of reply does not define you! So, take a deep breath and carry on being your magical self.

2)      Repeating positive mantras DO work – Now when I first heard about this I was like what a load of hippy shite! BUT it does actually work. Whenever I find myself feeling particularly anxious I say a phrase or “send a positive message to the universe” if you want to get all technical about it. I take a deep breath and say “I am an amazing person, I am not defined by my relationship status. I am strong, beautiful and have a lot to offer the world”  sometimes I add that I have a kick ass bod and drop dead gorgeous face just to give me an extra lift that day but you get the picture. Try it and I promise you after a few days you will start believing all that stuff which evidently is TRUE!

3)      Life is crazy short, cliché but true – there was an amazing quote I found when was knee deep in my depressive episode which really resonated with me which I try to apply to most aspects of my life. “Like a sandcastle, all is temporary. Build it, tend it, enjoy it and when the time comes let it go.” I find it hard to let go, I am so scared of losing someone that I forget to actually enjoy the time I have with them and by acting so scared I end up losing them anyway. After reading this quote I realised that, Jack (he guy who came up with this) was right, everything is temporary especially sandcastles but that doesn’t stop us building them when we go to beach even when we know we have to end up leaving them behind eventually. I think the same can be said for friendships AND relationships, stop being so worried about it ending and starting enjoying what you have now because now is all we really have. The past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet, stop getting ahead of yourself and sit in the NOW. You will never experience this moment ever again so make it worth it.

 The list goes on (I have done a comprehensive list for another post (which is coming) that ranges from intricate deep stuff to the simple “have a bubble bath stuff, so don’t stress, I got you!) – but basically the aim of this list is to remember YOUR worth and how amazing you are. You have a purpose here and you mean something so don’t worry about that one guy or girl who doesn’t like you as much as you like them – just cos they don’t feel the same doesn’t mean nobody else will and even if that doesn’t happen for you, you should know that you are already whole and don’t need anyone to complete you.

What I have come to realise is the more self-worth you have the less things like missed texts and cancelled plans affect you. Of course, it hurts and it is hard but when you remember what a fucking catch you are you remember it never is the end of the world.

Dating is hard so why make yourself feel worse? Remember that if you love yourself FIRST everything else will just slot into place.

Now…how do I do that?! Hm.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/

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