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Such a small sentence. With such great effect.
What I mean by this and where the problem lies, you can read in the first part of this post. Just as an attempt to change that.
"You have no idea. " Five words. Five little words that can ruin a lot of things. I can’t tell you how sick I am of this sentence. How much I would like to grab it and banish it from the German language. Someone tries to build a bridge in our heads and we take this verbal explosive charge and shred the foundation before it is even dry.
And yet I have often said it myself. And thought even more often.
I don’t have the words ..
Yes, it’s hard to describe what borderline feels like; what depression does to you; what happens to you when addiction has a firm grip on you.
You don’t explain it in passing.
And sometimes you just can’t do it. When will and or strength are missing.
Sometimes the strength is there, but no will. When you are in a good phase. And you just don’t want to think about what it feels like "there".
Sometimes the will is there, but no strength. Then you want so much to share. Explain your own world. Put the feelings into words – but the very idea of speaking or writing a sentence is so power draining that the will remains locked behind the dark wall and in the head.
For once there is neither will nor strength. When you are in the middle of it, you have other worries than wringing explanatory words from yourself. When struggling with these illnesses exhaust and drain you.
And when there is strength AND will? Then all that’s really missing is the right counterpart. But even that is not so easy.
It takes two to tango
Every affected person has probably already had these conversations that have led to nothing. In which you try to explain to someone what is happening in your own head. Although you do not understand it yourself. And always fails because there just don’t seem to be any right words. No words that can really convey how it feels to the other person.
Often these conversations end with either well-intentioned but seriously hurtful words on the part of the relative like "It’ll be alright!" – "You just need to do a little more exercise." – "Have you ever tried autogenic training?"It can’t be that bad – don’t make such a fuss!" – "Just stop brooding/drinking/starving/scoring!".
Or they end with resigned and sometimes equally hurtful words on the part of the person concerned. Because sometimes it’s just the easier solution. And then it is nevertheless pulled out again, the secret word weapon "You have yes no idea!"
Let them in instead of locking them out
We, the people concerned, know that these words practically never fail to have an effect. We are good at it, with this sentence never let whole conversations take place – or bring them to an abrupt end. I’m not writing this because I’m proud of this fact. Or because I think it’s right. On the contrary.
I want this to change! Because when any exchange is specifically and with immediate effect stopped, when serious interest is destroyed in a few seconds. Then it’s not just a pity. But it harms. To the person we’re throwing the phrase at. The relationship with this person. And us concerned.
What should someone without depression, without borderline, without addiction answer??! Because it’s true. Most people don’t know how it feels to have a mental illness. You really have no idea what the daily recurring struggle with your own head, with your own existence feels like. Thank God!
And it’s not her fault that this is so. And above all it must not mean that they are not interested in it. I don’t know what it feels like to fly an airplane until I talk to a pilot – and he lets me in on it. I also don’t know how the world looks from your perspective – no matter if you are mentally ill or healthy, a pilot or an ice cream salesman. The fact is, unfortunately, that we can’t see inside our heads. So only one thing helps: talk!
"You have no idea. " Behind the sentence is a whole wall of feelings and thoughts. bitterness. Anger. Pain. Reproaches. Exhaustion. Frustration. Sometimes pride. Not wanting to be understood. To think of oneself as so broken and sick that one is above things. But just as well it can also serve for self-protection.
But no matter for what reason it’s uttered: in most cases this is followed by an awkward silence and a bumpy change of topic. But right now would have been a great opportunity to tear down the wall. To replace the heavy, opaque stones with light glass.
Welcome to the border
And since we are sitting together so nicely, I’ll start by making the wall in my head a bit more transparent for you. I already realize that this is a very difficult request. But we don’t let that discourage us, do we?? Basically this whole page is a look behind the scenes of a "disturbed" person; the attempt to build a bridge with words into my head, into my world.
Let’s start with the borderline. Because this blog has also started with borderline. And I’ve also written a lot about the individual symptoms – how they feel to me, how they affect my life. The four that cost me the most energy and strength in everyday life are
- the unstable self-perception
- the impulsivity in the self-harming area
- the unstable emotional world
I won’t say many words at all about this quartet at this point – I can hardly describe it better than in the respective articles. I would like to be a bit more general.
Thinking à la Borderline
Because whether anger or feelings or self-awareness – all symptoms have the black and white problem in common. The all-or-nothing problem that is so typical for Borderline. My world consists of extremes. Things are either deep black or bright white. Shades of gray do not exist. Love or hate.
When I feel or think something, it’s absolutely. I think I’m great (unfortunately far too rarely) or I loathe myself (unfortunately far too often); am desperate or euphoric; depressed or happy; find a song/movie/place terrific and don’t want to let go or loathe from the bottom of my heart; am filled to the brim with rage – or completely empty. On a 45-minute bike ride, I can go up and down the entire range of emotions several times. From suicidality to the rush of happiness.
And when I’m on one side of the scale, I can’t see the other side anymore. The distance in between is insurmountable. Even though I could have hopped across again within milliseconds. When I’m having a good period, I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit on the couch, hopeless and listless. When I sit on the couch hopeless and listless I can no longer imagine what it feels like to have a good phase.
brain in the fast lane
For me borderline means not being in control. No idea who is sitting at the wheel of the roller coaster there. I am in any case rarely. Most of the time I feel like a plaything of my sensations, thoughts and feelings. I often don’t understand myself why I thought/said/did this or that; often can’t give a name to the violent storms inside myself; just try to get through somehow. Not knowing what will happen next.
And the roller coaster goes fast. My borderline brain is running at 200% non-stop. Feelings, thoughts, emotions, images, stimuli, impressions – everything pelts me unceasingly and unfiltered in double strength. Without pause. Not only from the outside. But especially from the inside.
Some people say it’s fascinating what I overhear; that I hear pretty much every sentence that’s said within a 10-meter radius of me. Yes. Really quite great *sarcasm. It’s just stupid that it’s not only with language, but with everything else – whether it’s looks, emotions or tensions.
My antennas are just extremely fine tuned. And the filters in my brain, which in "normal" people make sure that only what is important at that moment enters my consciousness, work differently in my case. That let more through.
Film in my head
You know those movie scenes, where ten people are talking at one person? Often while the whole bunch is walking down endless corridors at high speed. At the center is the main character that everyone wants to know about. need answers. Have questions. Expecting decisions. Everyone thinks his or her concern is the most important, everyone tries to drown out the rest. Words fly around in confusion. Cell phones are held in plain sight. Waved with documents.
And then the main character suddenly turns off. Without warning. Walk through a door. In the classic case a toilet door. Go into a cabin. Closes in. Taking a deep breath. And the posse stays outside.
It’s a bit like that in my head. Except there’s not always a door when I need one.
Since I understood this, some things have become clearer to me. For example why social situations with many people overwhelm me so quickly. Why everything becomes too much so fast and I do everything to be able to break out even for a moment. Stop the constant flood for a few moments – even if it’s only to go to the bathroom for a moment. It is just too much. A mountain of stimuli that gradually buries me under it.
Cut and out
I’m beginning to understand why meditation is so good for me. Why I like to walk two hours alone at the Isar river. Why sometimes I make my headphones so loud that no sounds from outside can get through to me. These are ways to give my overactive head a little rest. To dampen the sensory overload for a while.
For this time it feels like I have at least one hand on the controls of the roller coaster. Then it loses pace. I can sort myself and the chaos from stimuli. Recharge my batteries. Take a breath.
And then I can walk down endless corridors again for a while, expose myself to the storm of stimuli. Until the next knock break.
If I don’t do that, don’t take time-outs where I sort, rest, slow down – then the tension rises. And the short knocking pause is no longer enough. Then more drastic means of shutting down are needed. For example self-harm. Or alcohol. Or indulge in some other harmful impulse.
An end to cluelessness
Now enough about me. Now it is all about you.
First: My dear fellow borderliners, co-depressives and addicts – I know how damn hard it is to talk about all these things. But doing it makes life easier not only for those around you, but especially for yourself.
The more people around you know about you and your illness the more likely they are to deal with the issue appropriately.
And yes, there are times when it is already a success, if you at least say "You have no clue!" over the lips or the keyboard. But I’m guessing and begging you: Trying to find a way to explain to other people how you feel. Look for images and ways that suit you. Talk on tape, take notes, paint your inner life. Build bridges.
And: don’t wait for someone to ask the right questions, say the right thing, make the right assumption! Just because you think something is not yet visible to others. We assume far too often that those around us should know what is going on in our heads. But it is not so! Speak up about things, no matter how obvious they are to you. For your counterpart they can be quite new.
Try to show when you are ready to talk. Open up your environment to ask questions. Communicate clearly what is working and what is not. You don’t have to explain everything in one conversation. This can be done little by little. The important thing is to start!
And to all relatives, friends, partners and interested people: don’t be hurt if your questions, worries or advice don’t always land in the right target right away. If you have the "You don’t have a clue!" – Joker gets to hear. Don’t get angry or react in a huff or with any kind of phrase.
Take a deep breath and say something like "It’s ok if you don’t want to talk right now. And probably you are right that I have no idea how you feel. But I would like to know. And if you are willing to explain how it is for you, then I will listen to you!"
Borderline is just the beginning
Before going into the commercial break before part 2 I have to get one more thing off my chest: Yes, it all started with Borderline. But the more I write and deal with myself and "my" issues The clearer I see that there is so much more.
Not only that, I also need and want to give more space here on this site to the other two diagnoses that have a big impact on my life. They have both come up here and there in the margins and in the texts anyway – depression. And also the addiction – the dependence on alcohol. I will probably say a few more words about this in the future.
But that’s not where the fun ends! Because really, my point is to change that and how we talk about borderline, but about mental illness in general. That’s one reason why I think I’m going to keep my topics broader and broader in the future. Of course I have a particularly good approach to "my" diagnoses. And they will continue to influence my everyday life. And thus what I write about.
But it’s much bigger than that.
Ending the taboo
Mental illness is still and will continue to be a big taboo subject in our society – when it’s not being draped in trendy capes and given fancy names. We talk about everything: sex, money, religion, our charming bowels – but as soon as it comes to the insides of our head, the fun stops.
People prefer to be marginalized instead of living together. Better to keep quiet than to talk openly. Rather found excuses instead of telling the truth. In short: there is a lot of stigmatization on all levels.
In my opinion, however, there are rarely bad intentions behind it. but insecurity. Ignorance. Not knowing what to say. Not knowing how to act. Then better not say anything at all. Pretending. Keep our distance. Look away.
In my bachelor thesis, I looked at how to prevent young people from stigmatizing mentally ill people. And lo and behold, it’s not so hard. You just have to clear it up! Give them knowledge. Provide facts, explain explanatory models, point out connections. Enable people to ask questions openly.
Studies show that students who participate in such, z.T. have participated in only one-day interventions even years later have different attitudes towards people who have mental health problems (one reason why I have been involved with Crazy? So what! engage).
So people! Let’s make a change! Let’s talk (affected people) and listen (everyone else) – and when I’m old and sitting in my rocking chair I want to look back at this article and shake my head in stunned glee at how retarded people were in 2017 when it came to psyche.
In part 2 of this post I try to give you an idea of my depression and addiction. Also, here’s a few more ideas and suggestions on how we can get out of this dilemma together.