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How therapy changed me and saved my life



About two years ago, my life started falling apart with an alarming clip. I was married – spoiler alert: was – and had two small children. We all lived in a too small apartment in New York and I was at a point in my writing career where things, I thought, should be easier, but they weren't. Everyone else had a house in the back country and a Subaru. What have I done wrong? I had always had big problems with my personal relationships, but as my cohort grew older and had my own children, I found that I had fewer and fewer close friends to rely on. My marriage was similarly stormy, but lately it has been stormy all day. Meanwhile, my feelings were mixed up. I struggled with intense body-hugging anger and existential darkness with squid ink.

I had lived with myself all my life. No matter how miserable I was, I was this misery if it made sense. That's why I wasn't looking for professional help. Who would I be, was I worried if the mass of chaos that I was would be dissolved? I was afraid ̵

1; afraid of what the therapy might reveal, afraid to let go of the bank and drift into the deep water, afraid to put into words what I felt.

If I hadn't had children, I would be pretty sure that I wouldn't have gone to therapy at all. But in the midst of a nervous breakdown – later I learned to call it an episode of emotional dysregulation – I tried to commit suicide. It was pretty rough. My wife let our five-year-old son Achilles speak to me through our bedroom door. He didn't know what was going on, just that something was wrong. And because trying to explain to a five-year-old that you love that what you're doing in the bedroom with a leather belt around your neck hanging on the clothes rail is too sad (and also difficult to explain with your belt around your neck) is) neck), finally I showed up and lived. At that point it was a matter of life and death for me to seek help.

Even then I wavered out of fear. But what scared me more than going to therapy was what wouldn't go. The evidence that I was struggling with mental illness was undeniable; That it affected the people I love was equally undeniable. Because I have children and love my children, I knew that I needed help, not for myself, but for them. I'm too confused to be happy. But my children deserve happiness and a father who can freely love and be loved. In my bones the thought that I would pass on my unresolved problems to them – or rather the contortions that grew like calluses around them – was repugnant.

So I ended up in therapy and talked to a nice woman named Julia. Around me, in this office suite and in adjacent buildings, people like me talked to people like you. How cliché, I thought, when I looked at her handkerchiefs and the hugging pillow made of crushed velvet. But week after week it felt really good to be able to speak to someone who hadn't been angry with me for a decade and who could see me with compassion and professional determination. Who cares if I pay her $ 200 an hour?

After a while, Julia suggested I might have a so-called borderline personality disorder, a constellation of symptoms that included suicidal thoughts and attempts, uncontrollable anger, impulsive behavior, black-and-white thinking – all characteristics that I consider to be mine had marked the ego's wardrobe. This character that I was wearing and that I called "myself"; this guy who hit walls and got angry; this guy who dries in the cycles of the mold: this guy? Not me. Not really. I found that I could leave the picture of who I was. The more I understood about BPD, the better I understood what triggered what and why. I am not saying that I am not responsible for the suffering of others that I have caused. I am. But I didn't have to beat myself up as much as I did.

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Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for BPD, no pill "stop being a crazy cock". Since much of the disorder is biochemical – basically my mind is determined to believe that the ones I love the most are constantly attacking me – BPD will be my constant companion. Since it is largely genetic, it could also be my legacy to my sons.

Therapy was not enough to save my marriage. Therapy cannot make me travel back in time to save my children from fear, or forward to relieve their suffering. But what it did and the reason I'm still grateful for the last three years of my life is that it allowed me to know myself fully. It's like I haven't put all my weight on this earth. I held part of me apart, suspended like a frightened puppet. Now I'm here. I am happy in a way that I could not be before and sad in a way that I could not be before. I am tender where I was hard, looser where I was tight. And you know what? I prefer to admit, "I'm scared" and I'm still sitting on a couch to get to know me a little better.


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