Part of having BPD is a raw, gutteral feeling of emptiness: not knowing who you are, not knowing what to do, and not knowing what the significance of your life is. This feeling is constant and at times makes me feel utterly hopeless. At its worst extremes it makes me feel unable to get out of bed and be productive.
The acuteness of my sense of emptiness is amplified by my BPD mood swings. When I feel good, I don’t feel empty. Feeling “good” or “normal”, however, comes at a price.
In High School, I was very detached from my peers. I was close enough to be liked by most, but never so close as to cause any negative impressions. I liked a couple girls, but never dated and never had sex – I never even kissed.
Instead, I got a fake sense of self through objective achievement and admiration from my High School’s teachers and principal. After a plain Freshman year, I gradually evolved to a point where nearly every teacher liked me and knew me. In order to further this sense of acceptence, I delved deeper into my studies and worked harder and harder everyday to earn both their admiration and high marks for my GPA.
Along the way, these same teachers nominated me for various achievement awards and prizes, all very nice gestures and noteworthy. Thus, my feelings of emptiness were evaded by the level of emotion I got from achieving something or capturing an honor. Each and every subsequent event brought me a new emotional high, so as I moved forward, I felt compelled to constantly out-do myself – even “over-achieve”.
As I wrote before, however, bridging feelings of admiration from authority figures in High School is not possible in College. I found out the hard way that in college, it is far better to have a constant feeling of self worth that comes from internal beliefs of value and happiness. External gratification from awards, compliments, and top academic marks certainly feel good, but for the most part, you’re on your own.
In College, you spend about half the time working and half the time socializing. If you had no social skills like me, due mostly to the fact that I was not social in High School, the 50% of the time spent NOT studying was time spent alone, tucked away in my dorm room, the top floor of the library, or hidden inside a music practice room. It was during these lonely times that I felt truly empty and lost.
Today, years after my college graduation and first job, these feelings linger, mostly due to the fact that BPD is still very much alive within me. I don’t have a solid inner core built on positive self esteem: instead, it is built on what people, experiences, or events on the outside have determined.
Accordingly, this is why people with BPD are sort of like hollow egg shells, defined entirely by their external environment, NOT by a pervasive and confident sense of self worth. Without this solid inner core, BPDs feel lost, powerless, and completely horrible; even to the point of self mutilation or suicide.
For me there are down moments when my mind speaks to me, saying things like:
- What is the point of getting up everyday? Why should I even care?
- What is my purpose? What should I do with myself?
- How do I feel good – and when I don’t feel good, what do I rely on to improve my mood and measure of self worth?
- Why live at all? Life is repetitive, boring, and in my case absent of love and intimacy – how can I experience these feelings and at the same time mitigate my BPD and inner critic?
Time and time again, my usual response to innate feelings of emptiness is to distract myself by watching TV, drinking alcohol, looking at pornography, or taking 4 hour naps in the middle of the day.
To me, it makes sense that if you hate the feeling of emptiness, you would naturally find ways to get rid of it, avoid it, eradicate it from your life.
Unfortunately, because of my BPD and depression, I lack the wherewithal and sense of self necessary to lift myself out of these mini emotional craters. In other words, I simply don’t have – or haven’t yet developed – the toolset required for living a life of inner solace, happiness, and fulfillment.
So, as I continue to plod along, bearing the burden of BPD, I constantly struggle with emptiness; because I have never found anything sizeable enough to fill an inner void of worthlessness, sadness, and doubt. I hope one day I will be able to find peace with myself, but for now, nothing fills me up or makes me feel truly whole.