Balancing on the Borderline

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    Some of us struggle to stay above the dark water threatening to pull us under. It takes so much energy and stamina, but you come out a stronger person. The trick is to look deep enough to find the strength you need. Keep's there.

    Let me just say that I am 24 years of age, which is relatively young. I first noticed something was wrong with me when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I suffered alone, though, because I had no idea what it was and my parents didn't think anything of it. Long story short, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety disorder at age 16.

    That's a lot of disorder for a 16 year old and I was terrified. I had no idea what any of that meant and I was more than a little concerned. Once explained, the problem was that I didn't want to stay on medication. After a certain amount of time, I assumed I was "better" because I felt better. After a few more visits, my doctors would phase me off of them.

    The thing is, sometimes I'll wake up and just be super happy. I'll have so much energy and feel like I can do anything. I'll be excited and looking forward to my future, thinking that everything was going to be fluffy bunnies and rainbows. I'd do all this work, clean, organize everything, and literally love life.

    The extreme difference in my thought process and emotions used to freak me out because I couldn't understand why I was suddenly happy and believing everything was golden when just yesterday I couldn't get out of bed.

    I started realizing the pattern, though, and know these happy days never last, so when they come along I enjoy them. It's a welcome relief from the pain, never-ending negative thoughts, and sporadic mood swings.

    I try so hard to stay positive and stable. I thought once I found out what I wanted to do with my life and placed myself in a healthier environment, I would be alright. I was so happy and excited to be starting nursing school.

    I had finally found my place.

    I love my classes, I'm soaking up as much knowledge as I can, and it's just fun. It's a lot of work, but I love it. It's so interesting and amazing and I was hoping everything was going to work this time.

    Only it all started to fall apart again, just like it always does. I sink down into this big black hole, and it's unbelievably dark. I can't function or concentrate on anything. I don't eat, I can't sleep. I just lie in bed in sort of a coma, for lack of a better word. I feel so worthless and hopeless.

    I don't understand it, either, because I was just doing well the other day, happy as a clam, and suddenly it's all gone. I can't even remember what it felt like to be okay.

    Now I'm struggling just to get my assignments in on time. I don't even want to think about what grades I'll be getting because I'm pretty sure I'm incoherent in most of my answers and explanations. I don't want to ruin this for myself because I know getting kicked out of nursing school would make me feel even worse and send me deeper down. I just don't get it.

    I've made positive changes that make me happy and I'm still battling the same issues. I'm considering going back on medication and hopefully finding a proper combination and dosage so I can focus and concentrate on my classes again.

    I'm terrified these disorders are going to ruin my life. I feel completely out of control.

    My emotions and moods have a mind of their own and I just can't get it together. I'm also debating whether or not to try therapy again. I never stick with it, though, because I can never be completely honest with the person, compliments of my severe trust issues. Time will tell, I suppose.

    I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has had some of the same issues. I'd love advice or to hear what works for you. At this point, I'm willing to try anything and everything I haven't already.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 13, '15
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  3. by   eatmysoxRN
    Per terms of service we are unable to provide medical advice, which it sounds like you need. Everyone has good and bad days, but the extremes you describe may mean you need help. Please seek help. Good luck!

    ~ No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent -Eleanor Roosevelt ~
  4. by   brandy1017
    It sounds like you are in dire need of seeing your dr and being put on medicine! Nursing is very stressful, I don't recommend it to you. You're still in school, it would be beneficial to change majors to a less stressful job! School is the easy part, the RN job is very difficult, anxiety provoking especially as a new grad! The board of nursing regulates our practice and can hold mental illness against you and interfere with your license to practice. Get yourself well and see your dr ASAP! Once your better than consider other fields like medical sonographer (ultrasound tech) for instance, pays well, work with one patient at a time and better working conditions in general, tech colleges offer it, some hospitals offer it and occasionally colleges offer a 4 year degree in it. Good luck! You won't be responsible for everything and everybody and pulled in a million directions. You will have just your part of the job and that is all you will be responsible for, much less stressful if you ask me! Check it out!
    Last edit by brandy1017 on Feb 24, '13
  5. by   squidbillies
    Yep, right there with you. Took me several medicines to find what worked for me. Things are still not perfect, and I've come to terms with the fact that they never will be. But meds make it tolerable. Therapy for the times when things get super bad. Keep trudging through. I feel you. Hugs.
  6. by   squidbillies
    And good suggestions by Brandy.
  7. by   IloveNursing2214
    I agree with Brandy. I am afraid Nursing may not be for you . I can tell you is very stressful. How are you going to care for patients when you are feeling down and not getting up from bed ? My advice for you is to seek help ASAP and get better . Good luck
  8. by   Sadala
    There's the no medical advice thing. So I'm not giving medical advice. I think you should seek medical advice (obviously). I don't think you can make a good decision about whether or not nursing (or any other profession) is for you until you've been very actively participating with a mental health professional as an adult.

    I will tell you (this is general info, not medical advice) that there is a lot of new research regarding borderline personality disorder and different therapies that seem to be working well. Also, there is research to show that a huge percentage of folks previously labeled as borderline do not fit the label several years later. I have seen this myself in my previous work in psych.

    Depression has some great treatments also and ditto squidbillies, lots of meds out there, and some are better than others dependent upon the individual's brain chemistry.

    Good luck to you!
  9. by   NurseDirtyBird
    Don't be discouraged. It is entirely possible to complete nursing school and be a great nurse while suffering with mental illness. I did it with bipolar disorder, and there are many nurses on this site with similar issues. If you can get yourself stable with a doctor's care, you can learn to harness your emotions and use them to your advantage.

    It will be hard work, you will struggle sometimes. But if you can get through it, the rewards are worth it. Get to a doctor for medical issues, and find yourself some support. You can't do this alone, and it's ok to ask for help!
  10. by   wish_me_luck
    Musical, something that helped me in nursing school and still helps me now is to keep a schedule...a very strict schedule. I wake up at the same time, or there abouts every morning; I usually have a "to do" list and I do it--cross things out that I have done; whatever I did not get done the previous day, I put on the list for the next day and I prioritize the list sometimes. It helps a lot.

    I usually try and keep a good diet (although these past few months, I have drank way too much coffee and gained some weight from it). I like going outside to get fresh air. I also take rest breaks to have fun or to sleep. Do you have a good support system? If you don't hang out with many people and want to find people who understand you--find a mental health support group (NAMI chapters have them).

    I don't know what your habits are now; but I thought I would share my habits to see if they can be of any help to you as I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, too.

    Also, I have a friend that does this, and I think it can be of great help in dealing with the irritability issues with relationships that comes with Borderline Personality Disorder--when you get upset with someone, just take a deep breath, don't get upset, and just take out a journal/notebook and write them a letter about how you feel.

    And when you get tired/exhausted--sleep! When I was in nursing school, I had a lot of stuff building up--and I became mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I ended up attempting suicide. I realized that I should have just went to bed. When I have dark thoughts now (mainly at night); I go to bed. I usually feel better in the morning.

    Good luck!
  11. by   mariebailey
    This isn't medical advice; this is advice to keep you in your nursing program. I have bipolar disorder, & I thought it wise to stop taking my medication around the time I started nursing school. I crashed, became depressed, & I couldn't concentrate long enough to accomplish even the smallest tasks.

    I came clean with my advisor, & she insisted that I take a leave of absence during the upcoming summer semester (it was an accelerated program). It gave me several weeks to get stable on my meds again; it was just what I needed.

    There is also something mentioned in previous threads called reasonable accommodations, which applies to students & employees. You can request modifications or adjustments to your schedule, among other things, to ensure you succeed academically. Look up your university's policies around accommodating people with disabilities.

    I hope you are successful in nursing school & recover soon.
  12. by   Orange Tree
    I haven't been diagnosed with anything, but I can relate to a lot of what you're describing. Sometimes I'm on top of the world- I start crying at the grocery store because the fruits and vegetables look so beautiful. I also feel elated sometimes when I see the sun shining or a breeze hits me just the right way. I get things done that I've been putting off for months or even years! On the other hand, sometimes I struggle with meeting minimum expectations and don't leave my house for a week. I sleep for 16 hours (or more) a day and avoid interacting with anyone. I've screamed and cried so loud before that my neighbors thought I was being attacked and called the police. The police wanted to come inside and look around when I explained that I was alone and that nothing was wrong. It's hard for me to maintain close friendships, even relationships with family, because I can only stand so much socializing- even with the people I like the most.

    I always manage to do what I need to do to, though. The pets get fed, etc. And although the negative thoughts can be overwhelming, I've lived like this long enough to know that they're temporary. My mind knows that I have every reason to be happy, even when my emotions tell me that I'm suffering.

    As for nursing, I do fine at work and can put on a good show- even when I feel terrible. I've learned to moderate expression of my moods, although the feelings inside have not changed. I'm also good at not reacting to other peoples' bad moods. I understand and accept them, at least for the most part. Keeping stimulation to a bare minimum when I'm not working helps me a lot. I'm also married to someone who appreciates alone time and is not emotionally needy. The relationship provides a lot of support for me without being too demanding.
  13. by   MusicalCoffee
    Thank you all for the replies and well wishes; I appreciate them. I understand what some of you are saying about nursing school and the profession adding salt to the wound, if you will, but I know if I don't try to succeed at it, I'll regret it. Nursing is something my heart really is in. It makes me feel good to be learning how to help and take care of others, which is why I have a hard time understanding why the rest of me isn't feeling that happiness. However, I will definitely look into alternatives and take the suggestions given into consideration because if it turns out I cannot be a nurse, I would at the very least like to be in the medical field helping in some way.

    I will also see what I can find on my school's policies on accomodation, though I'm a bit embarrassed to have to bring that up to my advisor. I'm not looking for special treatment and I don't want to be viewed differently because of this. I work very hard to maintain my grade point average, but at the same time, if something can help, it's worth a try. I feel a bit better knowing there are others going through similar experiences. Not in the misery loves company way, but rather it's nice knowing I'm not the only one feeling this way, even if I don't know any of you personally. I do plan on getting back on track, and again, thank you all for your comments.
  14. by   jadelpn
    I believe BPD to be trauma based, and a part of PTSD. Find a good counselor, and see your doctor. Maybe a combination of things will get you to a functional level that makes sense for you. Unfortunetely, from what I have learned and people that I have worked with for some time--as I understand it, part of BPD symptoms are sabatoge and setting ones self up for failures. This is in polar opposite of what one needs to get through a strict college program of study. As one of the PP suggested, perhaps a leave of absence is what is needed, or perhaps with some therapy, coping skills and the like, reasonable accommodation, an IEP....See your student advisor or guidance counselor. Best of luck to you!
    And BTW, there are many, many people who go through the same types of situations that you are describing. Do NOT feel embarrassed at all. You shouldn't--if you had diabetes and had to eat in a class would you feel embarrased? Probably not, so don't think mental illness is all the stigma that seems to follow it. Again, best wishes.