Hello, I’m crazy

Let’s talk about multiple disorders.

bulimia dissociative personality disorder doctor hallucination mental health nightmare paranoia Stephen Fry

People very rarely talk about having complex, or multiple, diagnoses.

A lot of them therefore remain heavily stigmatised and not even slightly understood – so here goes:

I have borderline personality disorder, bipolar II, and bulimia (I like illness beginning with ‘b’, it seems). Lots of fun stuff.

The best part is that nobody knows what half of that means. Borderline is mostly unheard of, bipolar tends to get associated with the Very Mad (and celebrities…) and bulimia is the eating disorder people find manky for obvious reason.

Disclaimers: I don’t hallucinate, and I won’t kill you in your sleep. Just in case you were wondering. Chances are that even if you know me, you have no idea. I am diagnostically very high-functioning, which is a blessing (because I don’t have to admit to people I’m mad) and a curse (because trying to convince a doctor I’m in danger is a nightmare).

One of Cambridge's most famous bi-polar sufferers

One of Cambridge’s most famous bi-polar sufferers

So. Here’s what borderline is. You have to be diagnosed with six or more. I have all but one… and some of them are a nightmare to explain…

1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

3) Identity disturbance (also existential am-I-real crises)

4) Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

5) Recurrent suicidal behaviour or self-harm.

6) Instability through marked mood reactivity (ie major mood swings at the drop of a hat, usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

dissociative personality disorder

Perhaps a slightly more serious disorder

7) Chronic feelings of emptiness

8) Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (often internally rather than externally manifested)

9) Paranoia, or dissociation

Meanwhile, bipolar II simply means I don’t have full mania. I have hypomania instead, which is a lot more fun – I still have some degree of control, but it’s a little bit like being on MDMA full time. I don’t need sleep, I get unbelievable amounts of work done, everything is fun, I love people and life and it’s all glorious.

Except when I then get the borderline mood swings with it, which is when things get complicated and everybody (myself included) gets very confused. I somewhat infamously laughed for twenty solid minutes at a random comment, before having a complete sobbing breakdown because my ipod had run out of charge.

My beautiful ipod, dead

My beautiful ipod, dead

Then I got angry with the person who’d pointed it out, then once I’d calmed down decided they hated me and would never speak to me again, called them seven times in a row, and by the time they called back an hour later I was happy and had mostly forgotten what had happened.

Tada!

So, the miserable part: I have attempted suicide three times to date, with varying degrees of conviction, but somehow managed to dodge hospitalisation by the skin of my teeth. (Fairly literally. Bulimia’s a bitch on your teeth). By rights, my body should have given up on me a while ago, but in this moment I consider myself extremely fortunate that it hasn’t.

The good part: I have laughed more than most people ever will. I have eaten more food and nicer food in greater quantities than most (ha ha). I have done things on impulse that led me to some extraordinary and unforgettable experiences. I have done all-nighters without noticing. I have been exhilarated beyond measure with it lasting for days.

It isn’t all bad. (well, sort of).