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Welcome to my crazy queer life of pain: Living with BPD, ADHD and Fibromyalgia

I tried looking up the “proper” way to write a blog, but I decided to say fuck it. Doing things the proper way has never been my strong suit. So, here goes. TRIGGER WARNING: Brief mention of self harm and unaliving.

My name is Kay. I’m a 27-year-old from Canada, and I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, and Fibromyalgia. Welcome to the wild ride that is my life. Enter at your own risk. I figure I’ll start off with a bit about me for now, then start making posts that highlight my day-to-day struggles. This blog will essentially be a stream of consciousness, so don’t expect anything to be streamlined. This will most likely be an ADHD mess. You’ve been warned.

I grew up on the Prairies, with my younger brother and two parents, a fairly typical family. My dad worked as a medic in the oilfield, while my mom homeschooled us. See, my brother was a gifted kid, and school was not exactly good for him. My mom decided to homeschool him because it was easier for everyone. My jealous third-grade ass demanded to be homeschooled too. I thought he got to stay home and watch TV in his pajamas all day. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that was not, in fact, what homeschooling was about. It wasn’t as bad as I expected though. From grades 4 to 6 (2 to 4 for my brother), we did the “traditional” homeschool method. We would decide what we wanted to learn about for things like Social Studies, then we’d drive down to this store called Ashley’s Learning Resources and pick up things like science kits and those neat little blocks for counting and multiplication. We’d go to the library all the time to get books for book reports, and we got to learn about things like Greek and Egyptian mythology. The government gives a general outline as to what kids need to learn in order to actually qualify as education (English, math, science, social studies and Phys Ed), but with homeschooling there’s a bit more freedom as to how those subjects look.

Grades 7, 8 and 9 were a little different. We did online schooling, through a Catholic school. It wasn’t horrible, I guess. Most of my classmates were VERY religious, but for the most part, religion itself wasn’t part of my actual classwork. I had a problem with this one kid, who was a religious fanatic, and would constantly jump into conversations in the Student Lounge (essentially a message board) and bring religion into things. Funnily enough, I actually chat with him on occasion now, we’ve both mellowed out. Back then though, things would get so out of hand that we were both put “on contract”, which was essentially an in-school suspension. They took away our access to the Student Lounge, and our private messaging and IMing features.

Like that stopped us.

My brother had beef with one of his female classmates, though for the life of me I can’t remember what about. They were both also put on contract. But all four of us were determined. We broke the system. It was actually quite simple, really. We would go into the classroom submission folders, where our classmates would submit assignments. Think an email folder, with assignments as attachments. From there, it was a matter of simply clicking on the classmate’s submission that we wanted to talk to, and a few clicks later we were sending private messages (emails) back and forth. This was in our first year. They attempted to patch the gaps in their system after that, but it never worked. We always found a way around it. It got so bad, our second year, before the term even started, they put us on contract. We hadn’t even logged in for the first time that semester and we were already suspended. They knew who the problem children were, and they tried their best to stop us, but we were simply too powerful.

Anyway, fast forward to the summer of 2010, right before I was supposed to start 10th grade. Highschool. Despite my lack of regard for the rules, I had managed to get excellent grades, being officially invited to join the Advanced Placement classes through the online school, to start in 10th grade. Honestly, I wish I had done it. But I didn’t. I decided I wanted the Highschool Experience TM. I’ll come back to this. Yay ADHD.

It was about this time that I REALLY hit my rebellious phase. See the thing about BPD is that your entire life is a rebellious phase. It just gets worse in your teens. Like, a lot worse. By the time I started high school, I don’t think my mom knew what to do with me. I had started, and dropped out of, several things, including a brief stint in Brownies, Tae-Kwon-Do, piano lessons, guitar lessons, Army Cadets and Junior Forest Wardens. Honestly I think the only thing I stuck with longer than 2 years was EMS Cadets. That’s a whole other part of the story, though. Another part of living with BPD is no sense of identity. I honestly can’t think of how I started some of those activities, but I remember with piano, it’s because my brother was taking lessons. I’ll explain.

The day I was diagnosed with BPD, I spoke to a friend who also suffers from BPD. They told me that part of BPD is having no sense of self. The analogy they used has stuck with me, and I want to share it because it explains the part about piano. Everyone has their own coat that they wear. That coat is their interests, hobbies, personality. That coat is what makes them, them. But with BPD, we don’t have a coat. Not one that we can find. So we keep trying on the coats of those around us, changing who we are to match those we are around. This includes picking up their interests and hobbies because we think that we like those things. That’s exactly what happened with piano. I saw my brother playing, and I thought I would like to play too. I believe I took lessons for a year, maybe two. Honestly my memory is very hazy, another lovely side effect of my various conditions. I just remember playing in one recital and being so nervous I thought I was going to throw up, only for my worst fear to come to life in the form of a wrong note. Instead of playing through, I got so upset I stopped playing. I was playing alongside my teacher, who had to coax me into playing again. I barely managed to finish the piece; I was so unbelievably upset.

That’s yet another fun (not) part of BPD— the extreme emotions. The way I explain it, is that “normal” people have emotions on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being those intense emotions that bring you to tears, or your knees, or whatever. But with BPD, your emotions are ALWAYS at 15. And when your hormones start getting out of whack (I’m biologically female, so you should catch my drift), those emotions get as high as 20. So, something so small like a single wrong note is earth-shattering.

I can’t say for sure how long after that I quit piano, but the main reason I quit piano, guitar and Tae-Kwon-Do is because I had to practice. I honestly have no idea what my aversion to practicing is, but if I have to practice something, I can absolutely guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will not. This has not gotten better as I’ve grown into something somewhat resembling an adult. Around 2018, I went to join the local pipe band. I don’t have the lungs for bagpipes (damn asthma), but I absolutely love them. One of my favourite sounds is that of bagpipes. So instead, I tried learning how to play drums. First, they gave me a snare drum pad and some sticks. They taught me the proper technique for how to make the drumstick bounce properly, how to make that sharp snapping sound. But I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I made it through a single practice session with the snare drum. I was so incredibly frustrated because I just couldn’t do it for the life of me. So then, they gave me some tenor drumsticks. I much preferred that, and it was so much easier, plus it looked cooler. I actually picked it up relatively quickly. But alas, I wouldn’t practice on my own. No, not wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I don’t know why, but I just can’t practice anything, no matter how interested I am in it. It’s like I’m physically incapable of it. I think to myself “I really should practice”, and it’s like I just shut down. I’m disgusted by the thought of practicing. I end up doom scrolling until I no longer have the time to practice. Maybe I’m just lazy, or maybe it’s part of one of my conditions. Who knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

I hadn’t really intended for this to get so long, yet here I am over 1500 words now. I’ll wrap up with my high school experience, and save all my trauma dumping for next time. So like I was saying before, I wanted the Highschool Experience TM. So in the fall of 2010, my mom registered me for the local composite high school. Culture Shock doesn’t begin to cover what I experienced.

I went from a school of myself and my brother, to a school of over 1500 kids. By the time I graduated, that number had increased to over 1700. Needless to say, it was a lot. Like I said, this was about the time I really hit my rebellious phase. During my time in Army Cadets (grades 8 and 9), I had made a friend that most (including my mother, ESPECIALLY my mother) would consider a “bad influence”. Naturally, we ended up going to high school together, and while I don’t feel like she had any bad intentions, it kinda pushed me off the rails. Of course, I now know that my BPD was probably a much larger factor in my derailment, but nonetheless, things didn’t really go well for me. I started skipping class with her, a lot. My grades started slipping. My attitude was getting worse. I hated everyone and everything. My depression took a serious downhill turn. I started self harming, threatening suicide. Of course, I’m too much of a coward to actually go through with that, but I was fucking drowning.

By grade 11, I was hovering slightly above rock bottom. I failed English that year. English! What kind of wannabe writer fails English? The kind that’s barely staying alive. I was barely managing to keep my shit together at that point. My depression was at an all time low (of course, it only got much worse after that), my anxiety was at an all time high (yup, it got worse too), and by second semester, I was failing Social Studies. Social Studies and History have never been my strong suits, but I could get by. I just didn’t believe in homework, and my teacher that year didn’t believe in in-class work. Every assignment was homework. He never gave us time to do the work during class. I believe it was about April of that year, 2012, when my mom got a phone call from my principal. I had a 27% in that class from quizzes, but oddly enough I wasn’t in trouble for that. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.

If I could get my grades up to passing within 3 weeks, I could go to Finland. For free.

I’ll save the story of that trip for later, but yes, I got to go. The summary for now: my province had a pretty good education system at that time, and a partnership had been formed between several schools from my province, and several schools in Finland. This partnership aimed to create the best education system possible. Earlier in the school year, a couple of Fins had come to my city, and spent some time attending our school. Two students who were really active and involved in the school had been hosting them, and when it came time for the Canadians to go to Finland, one had to drop out. It turns out I was next in line. I was in the Leadership class, as well as a member of the First Responders (I’ll talk about that some other time too), and had put together a small fundraising concert not too long before all this went down. I guess that made me the third most involved student in school. Ironic, don’t you think?

Long story short, I was able to nearly triple my grade in a week by just doing my assignments. My teacher had put up a big fuss when the principal told him I would be gone for a few weeks, so to make sure I had my assignments before we left, but the principal (I could write an entire post about how awesome he was, truly cared about his students and just seriously the best) overruled him. It helped that my wood shop teacher, who doubled as a social teacher, was going on the trip. Unfortunately, my depression made it hard for me to truly enjoy the trip, but again, that’s a story for another time.

Things only continued to get worse for me. By grade 12, I dropped out. It started by dropping one class, then another. Then, I dropped my last two classes. I honestly don’t remember how I got talked into going back for the second semester, but I did. Thanks to my time as a First Responder, I had all the credits needed to graduate— I just needed Grade 12 English and Social Studies. That was easier said than done, though. English wasn’t too bad, because I had the best teacher and a couple close friends. We spent most of class goofing off and not paying attention, but still managed to get decent grades on our assignments and projects.

Social Studies was another story.

Ironically, my Social teacher was the mother of my English teacher. They could not be more different. Where he was fun and easy going, she was strict and serious. Honestly, I kind of hated her. I already wasn’t a big fan of Social Studies, but her class was like torture. I skipped more of that class than all my other classes combined. My friends in that class would track me down and drag me to class. I did participate in debates, but only to spite her. See, she had the classroom split into two sections, with the desks on either side facing each other, forming two opposing sides. She tried to get debates going, but no one wanted to participate. There was one guy on the other side of the room who seemed to be as spiteful as me, though. She would throw out a topic, waiting for people to start debating. Several minutes of silence followed, while she pushed for a debate. Eventually, one of us would say something, argue a point. Then she’d turn to the other side, and ask for opinions on that point and for an opposing argument. Naturally, we would agree with each other. You’d think after the first couple of times, she would learn that no one was going to give her the debate she wanted, but she kept trying. And every time, it would get the same result. We would argue the same point, simply picking up where the other left off. It was a small, small bright spot in an otherwise miserable time.

I honestly can’t remember a whole lot more of my high school experience. Between the severe depression from that time, and my current brain fog, a lot of stuff is just haze. I do know that my mom was called in by her. I was failing, naturally, but she really wanted me to graduate. The nasty part of my brain says it’s because she didn’t want to have to deal with me for a second time. The nicer part of my brain says she was genuinely trying to make sure I graduated so I didn’t have to go through another year of suffering. I was very clearly not doing well, everyone around me could see it. Either way, she got my mom to start pushing me to do my homework. By homework, I mean assignments in general. She made up a little plan for me to catch up on my work by the end of the term, and was willing to waive the late mark reduction, if memory serves. It was absolute hell, but I managed to scrape by with a mark just barely high enough to graduate.

I think that’s enough for now. I’m getting ridiculously close to 3k words, so I think I’ll call it quits for now. Admittedly, this was rather cathartic, and I think I’d actually like to do this again. Now if only I could write this much for my novels. Sigh. Oh well.

Until next time.

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2 commenti

02 giu 2023

Great writing, cool insights into your history and personality. I would never have suspected you had such a rebellious streak, lol.

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Kiersten Mills
Kiersten Mills
03 giu 2023
Risposta a

Yeah it used to be pretty bad. I'm just really good at hiding it these days 😉

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