How do you let go of an attraction?

Words like “infatuated”, “enamored”, even “obsessed” don’t begin to describe the level of love – or emotional commitment – people with BPD feel towards someone. That all sounds very impersonal so I’ll rephrase: If you have BPD and are in love with someone, chances are, your feelings of attraction are so strong that you can’t picture your life moving forward without this other person. So what do you do when you inevitably have to let go of this attraction?

In previous blogs, I’ve referenced a girl I liked in college that I still have a crush on. For the record, I finished college 10 years ago. “Wow”, you’re probably thinking, “after ten years it’s time to move on and find someone else”. That’s a fair criticism if I was “normal”. Unfortunately, I have BPD and these things just don’t go away that easily. Once we BPDs get our emotional talons stuck on someone else – or our fantasy about someone else – it is almost impossible to let go unless we are forcibly pushed away by an outright rejection or some other traumatic event.

I’m not married and have no girlfriend. This is probably why I hold onto my fantasies about this girl in college: it’s more comforting to live in la-la land when reality is painfully lonely. Even worse, I can’t forgive myself for not ever asking this girl out or pursuing a relationship all those years ago. To be honest I was a bit of a train wreck at the time, but would have definitely fared better had I been in a solid relationship with this wonderful woman.

Facebook is great for socializing. It’s also great for checking in on people we still like and wish we had another chance at. The particular girl I’m referring to is now happily married with beautiful children and a loving husband. They have their own home and are piecing together the building blocks of a new family. While I’m sure there are days when things suck and the thought of changing another baby diaper breeds contempt, life really looks good for her. I’m very happy that’s the case, because she is the type of person that deserves that kind of happiness.

In my adventures with eHarmony, one type of person I’ve frequently been matched to are social workers. I’ve never visited a social worker in my life because my BPD outbursts shot me right into the big leagues with psychiatrists. Still, social workers are important contributors to the well being of the people they treat. From eHarmony.com’s perspective their outgoing, people-centered personalities balance out against my reserved, introverted, somewhat narcissistic disposition (see I said it 🙂 ).

Well, as it turns out, my crush from college is a social worker. That throws a little salt in my emotional wound in an ironic way: at a point in my life when I thought my taste in women was underdeveloped and ill-informed I actually did pick one person with whom I’d be highly compatible with based on personality type. This second kick in the ass hurts more than the first in a “reality bites” sort of way. I knew in my gut she was right for me but nothing ever materialized. Wow, what an opportunity I blew!

Now it continues to haunt me in an obsessive way that sufferers of BPD know all too well. Seeing her smile melts me now just like it did back then. A loving embrace with her children makes me long for the joys of being a parent with the RIGHT partner, someone like her. Her beautiful, down-to-earth appearance is insatiable and mesmerizing. She’s the type of person that’s easy on the eyes after slipping into a puddle of mud, just getting out of bed, or getting pooped on by a flock of pigeons. Yeah – that amazing, and I won’t even begin to wax poetic about her happy, easy going personality: the type of person who doesn’t mind having cereal for dinner one night but also knows when it’s time to look good and go out on the town. Oh, and did I mention, she’s wicked smart, too?

See what I mean? This BPD sh*t is insidious. I suppose a “normal” guy would have dismissed this crush upon college graduation. Once you’ve got that magical diploma in hand, a world of possibilities presents itself before you. You can continue pursuing higher education, get your first job, or take time off and travel. Unfortunately, starting a relationship with someone still in school isn’t a great alternative, because just as you are looking forward to a bright future of your dreams, so are they and most of the time these visions don’t match.

On top of that, my current entrepreneurial activities promoting online gambling probably aren’t what she’d picture as ideal material for a potential husband. I don’t know what her husband does, but I’ll bet you ( 8) ) top dollar he IS NOT involved in any sort of vice activity. So in reality, even if we bumped into each other again – say five years ago at around the time she married – chances are it probably wouldn’t have happened.

For people with BPD, sometimes it’s easier to live life in “what was” opposed to “what is”. I’d probably be a sh*tty husband and a lousy, moody, irrational parent. Heck, my cat hates me most of the time and resorts to urinating on my clothes when my BPD flares up. Yeah, she gets that mad/hysterical. Maybe my cat has some issues, too. 🙂

How do I put this girl aside and move forward? I honestly don’t know. Every girl I’ll meet in the future will be compared to her plus other women I though might have been my soul mates. It will be a difficult screening process for sure. Those of us with BPD make it extremely difficult to land a good – but not perfect – partner because our expectations are sky high and we tack on comparisons to every other member of the opposite sex we adored in the past.

There is no moral of the story for today’s blog. I’m just stuck lamenting my crappy life, crappy decisions, and chronic illnesses that have ruined me and turned me into a fifth-class citizen worthy of no one with a good heart or physical beauty. I hate myself and my life and I loath the fact I have no life partner. Why must it be this way?

Given the opportunity to choose, should people with BPD reproduce?

I’ll be 33 at the end of March this year (2012). Ever since my late 20s – probably like most people – I’ve been pondering whether or not I want to have children of my own. At the moment this is like putting the cart before the horse because I don’t even have a girlfriend. As a result, thinking about having children when one is not a position to actually create them might seem like a waste of mental energy. In this case I’m probably just creating unnecessary stress.

These thoughts returned to my head, however, after watching a recent Anderson Cooper 360 report about an eugenics experiment that took place between the 1930s-1960s in most states across the USA. Eugenics is the practice of selective reproduction to rid mankind of any perceived weaknesses or bad genes. With respect to this particular experiment, people labeled “degenerates, feeble-minded” or otherwise not on par with social norms were forcibly sterilized to prevent their ills from spreading to future generations.

Yes, you read that right: FORCIBLY sterilized. Young men in public rehabilitation institutions (mental hospitals, orphanages, etc.) were brought into an operating room, given a mild anesthesia, and then had their testicles cut off. Literally. Women had an equally barbaric procedure performed on them that left them barren for life. The complete AC 360 Report is here.

The project was deemed so “successful” that Nazi Germany expressed interest in California’s highly efficient eugenics program, using it as a model for their eventual acts of genocide. At present, living victims of America’s eugenics program are seeking financial damages from state governments to sustain them in their later years, obviously because they have no children of their own to support them. Of more than 30 participating states, only North Carolina has apologized and offered settlement money.

I am diametrically opposed to the whole notion of eugenics. There is no way to determine the type of offspring a man and woman might produce; even if they seem like the perfect candidates for making “super” babies. The fact is, genetic anomalies in the process of creating a baby can go either way. Two perfectly healthy parents could produce a handicapped child; just as two seemingly unfit parents could produce a normal, productive human being. The premise that poor families, sickly people, or minorities are somehow ill equipped to reproduce is despicable. My belief is that if you’re alive, you have to right to reproduce. Whether or not you choose to do so is a personal decision.

That said, the question of whether or not I should reproduce – given my Type 1 diabetes and BPD – lingers in my mind. Both of these diseases are thought to have genetic components. Therefore, if I choose to have children, I risk spreading these horrific genes to the next – and future – generations. Furthermore, if I got lucky and had healthy children, chances are my BPD would wreak havoc on their childhood, exposing them to an inconsistent, highly temperamental parent that would be absent when it comes to providing a truly nurturing, validating environment.

This eventuality is the one I fear more than anything else. No matter what, good kids forced into a bad parenting environment will develop problems. At minimum it might be anxiety or anger; at maximum depression, BPD, Bipolar disorder, or worse. Toss in the fact that their father already has these dispositions hardwired into his genes, and it’s all but certain your child will be in and out of therapy into their adult life.

To be sure, I’m not trying to overestimate my importance to the human race: “generational” family problems come and go as one’s lineage further expands down the line. My point is that I wouldn’t want to cause my children any more pain and suffering than is necessary. If ensuring this goal means not having children at all, so be it.

In the immediate future, my goal should be finding a good partner who would offer some much needed diversification to my inbred gene pool 🙂 . There’s a bit too much Irish in me, and this inevitably leads to one or some combination of the 4 D’s: Depressed, Degenerate, Drunk, or Denial. My ideal partner would be someone least likely to have any of these characteristics, so that if we choose to have kids, at least there’s a 50/50 shot my genes will end up inactive and recessive.

I don’t think having BPD automatically disqualifies people from reproducing. I just think it is important factor to consider when making the all-important decision to bring children into the world. If you already know you have BPD, consider it a point in your favor. The more you learn about yourself and your body, the better you’ll be able to create a loving, informed, and nurturing environment for the children you choose to create.

When Parents Are in Denial About Family Problems

As I indicated in a post recently, my brother mentioned to me that he is suffering from MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). He is working a job with difficult hours, has trouble sleeping, and is currently learning the ropes of being a good stepparent. All of this weighs him down at times, and he’s been going to therapy and taking some medication (although I don’t know what exactly and how much).

Interestingly enough, MDD and BPD are related disorders, and in many instances MDD is comorbid with BPD. The fact that these problems come in tandem confirmed my long held conclusion that mental health problems run in our family genes. The roots of this realization are complicated and probably best for another post. For the time being, it’s quite clear that we were born predisposed to developing depression and BPD. In 2008, some scientists concluded that there is actually a “BPD gene”. Read that article here.

My brother and I have a complicated relationship that more often than not created an environment where I bullied him or put him down. For whatever reason, I felt that the bullying I took in school was best relieved taking it out on my family. This caused a lot of tension between us and at times it was caustic. My brother struggles with ADD and this created stress for my parents who inevitably resorted to verbal and physical abuse to control him. I was simply another poisonous element in this potent mix that pushed him towards heavy drinking and mild substance abuse in college. In reality, he’s actually a much better person than I am and uniquely gifted with a genius level verbal IQ.

So in reality, him telling me that he has MDD was not surprising. What was more concerning to me was how my parents dealt with the news.

I called my Mom the day after I spoke with my brother about his MDD and expressed sincere concern to her. I was genuinely worried and a bit scared that he was facing hard times with little to no family support to fall back on. Not surprisingly, my Mom informed me that my other two brothers had reported the same fears to her. My mother was upset but completely at a loss for what to do. In a subsequent call, both she and my father seemed almost helpless dealing with the fact that one of their children is potentially in serious danger.

I told both my parents that they should call my brother and check in. True, they are probably not the best stewards of goodwill when it comes to family mental health, but all the same they are our parents and they should be worried about the situation. Their reaction was rather disturbing to me: instead of saying “We’ll call him first thing tomorrow”, they said “Well…we almost never hear from [your brother] and don’t know when a good time would be to talk to him. He’s very busy and we wouldn’t be able to discuss it.”

I had long known that my parents are helpless when it comes to being supportive regarding depression and BPD. Their knee-jerk reaction that they couldn’t find the time to call my brother scared me. For the first time in my 32 years on earth, I realized that they will not be around forever. They are both heading into their late 60s and will soon develop health concerns of their own. In reality, they are a day late and a dollar short and lack the fortitude to reach out to their own son. Some things never change.

I decided I would have to reach out myself and initiate some sort of exchange with my troubled brother sooner rather than later. I caught him on Facebook one day and we chatted back and forth a bit about innocuous things and then I stepped up to the plate. “We [my other brothers and I] are concerned about your health. Major Depressive Disorder is serious and needs treatment. Mom and Dad also know.”

His initial reaction was a joke, “I knew one of you would tell mom and dad: there’s a joke around here, ‘Snitches get stitches’ “, referring to the health clinic he manages. I kind of laughed myself but also apologized for not observing his wishes that his MDD be kept quiet. I pushed ahead a little further: “I hope you’re getting therapy and talking to someone. Everyone is concerned and we’re here to help if needed.”

After that point the conversation fell deeper into the dark recesses of depressive behavior. We traded our medication regimens and spoke candidly about cognitive therapy. After that we even discussed the fact that both of us have harmed ourselves (cutting, burning, etc.). This came as a shock to me because I didn’t know he was that LOW. All things considered, however, it made perfect sense: combine bad genes, poor parenting, and a stressful life and you get one result: DEPRESSION.

I actually had to decompress a bit after talking to him. I excused myself to dinner and told him to keep in touch and write if he needed any help (not that I could really do anything – but it’s nice to offer anyway). Clearly our parents were at a loss for words and had a huge case of DENIAL. To be honest it isn’t that they don’t care; it’s that they don’t know HOW to care. That’s been the trouble all along and it helped produce serious mental health conditions in their first two of four children.

What to do when parents are in denial about family problems? Take matters into your own hands and deal with it yourself, no matter how awkward it might seem. My brother and I have never really had heart-to-heart conversations because we were different people growing up. Now that I see my aging parents continuing to age and our problems lingering, the onus of stepping up and doing something lies with me. My only hope is that he can be helped and nothing tragic will happen. My parents will get it sooner or later: the “later” option being most likely and potentially “too late”.