I recently received an email from someone I did not recognize. He opened with, "Hey, crazy."
I'll be the first to admit that I am a bit sensitive to being called crazy. After being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, depression and a panic disorder since I was 18, I have spent a lot of time considering and trying to "cure" my crazy. Inpatient hospital stays, a multitude of psychiatrists, therapists, and well-meaning GPs, and more drugs than I can name have done very little to cure me of the crazy, but have given me perspective and taught me how to deal with my own brain working against me.
This man, Patrick, insisted that he knew me. Said I had met him through a man named Joe in the town that I live, and knew things about me. Thanks to the many, many sessions of ECT (which used to be known as Electro-shock therapy), my memory is shitty. I told him that I believed him, but that I don't know him anymore, nor do I know his friend.
He continued to send me messages, trying to jog my memory. I felt awkward, because I could not exactly say why I did not remember him ("Sorry dude, you must have been zapped out of my brain with half the other guys I dated.") He sent me pictures, and did not seem to get the hint that I had no want to know him now since I have no memory of him.
Finally, I told him that I am not the same person I once was, I do not remember him at all, and do not want to know him now. I asked him to please leave me alone. He responded like most men when rejected; he called me a bitch. He then shocked me, and said, "You crazy BPD bitches always bring so much drama." This meant that I must have trusted him enough at one time to tell him about my mental illness. He proceeded to shame me for being mentally ill.
This little email made my face go hot and heart race as I read it. The treatment I am currently undergoing helps me aim to get over the shame that comes with mental illness, but I am far from being over it. Even in the mental health community, those of us with BPD are stigmatized. Ours is the disorder that people can't stand. The one that makes us into so-called crazy bitches, screaming at people that we hate them, then begging forgiveness, saying we can not live without them.
Borderlines are characterized as being unstable in general. Unstable sense of self, unstable emotions, and unstable relationships. I have been fired by a few doctors because, "I don't have time to deal with borderlines."
I thought about what I may have done or said to this Patrick, how I must have humiliated myself. Maybe I called him 10 times in a row because I thought he was going to reject me. Maybe I threw myself at him and slept with him on the first meeting because I felt the need to not be alone. Maybe I cried and told him I wanted to die, because I have been suicidal on and off since middle school.
I have done all of these things. They are reactions to the intense emotions I haven't always been able to control. I don't feel sadness, I feel grief. I don't feel lonely, I feel desperate. Because these emotions always, always feel like they will last forever, I lose perspective sometimes and lose control.
Part of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is finding a balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. It's a horrible feeling, not knowing what I did to this man to call me crazy. Feeling shame because I believed him when he said I was a crazy bitch. However, I recently made a commitment to myself to stop feeling shame for things I cannot control. One thing I can absolutely not control is having BPD, which happens to be the one thing he was upset with me for.
I got angry. No matter what I may have done in 2011 when he said he knew me, I was not the one pushing the matter, nor was I the one being rude. I sent him one last email.
"I mean, seriously. You're going to attack someone for having a mental illness? That's the kind of person you are? You were so very desperate for me to remember you. Maybe your ego took a hit because you obviously didn't make an impression? I felt sorry for you, trying so hard. Finally, I just ask you to leave me alone, after me telling you several times that I have no idea who you are. And you decide to attack me for a disorder that you think I have. If that's how you see mental illness, just full of drama, then why email me in the first place? Trying to hook up? Can't get a woman who remembers you to call you back? It's pathetic, really."
Being mentally ill has been one hell of a roller coaster, but I was surprised to realize that it's given me thick skin. I'll be damned if I'm going to let one butthurt, mean guy make me feel bad about myself.