Who Am I?
This piece explores WE’s emotions. At the centre you’ll see they believe they must hide and contain their feelings otherwise they will explode. There appear to be four sides to WE, but the dominating character is the one that must be suppressed: Anger. Next is the figure trapped inside a box believing they have to say yes and be perfect and polite, then next a character known very well to WE, the showman. “Anything you want you can get it here for free”, along with knowing that WE can morph into anything anyone desires. Lastly, there is WE’s inner child, left and abandoned in a sack, gagged, knowing that they have to keep still and fall asleep—could that mean dissociate?*—and die.
How do we deal and own up to our emotions without the use of numbing behaviours? This could be anyone’s drawing as we all have to juggle many ‘hats’ throughout the day: professional working man, loving husband, father who has to discipline children, friend, brother, son, but what’s it like when those lines get blurred? Perhaps frustration, boredom, regrets, even fear might seep in? Can we clearly distinguish what we are feeling and why? It’s not that easy is it? It particularly difficult with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.
WE just scribbled how they felt in one moment on one particular day, but if we take this piece as an example of BPD, all the classic signs are there: extreme emotional swings, unclear and shifting self image, extreme fear of abandonment—hence having to be perfect, having impulsive behaviour and explosive anger.
When WE was diagnosed with BPD, all the ‘experts’ in the room said they had avoided this diagnosis for a long time as it is on Axis Two, meaning it cannot be treated by medication. They then asked WE how they felt about this. Wow, what a question. How would anyone feel when they felt like they had just been given a life sentence to which there was no cure from themselves? Hopeless? Suicidal? Vulnerable? Shocked? Angry that the medical profession had been keeping this to themselves? And more?
WE had no answer for them. They just saw a bleak future where they had clung onto the belief that someone could help them and this reality was quickly slipping away. Did this label help or enable WE in any way? Certainly not at the time, nor for a long time, but eventually they came to realise it was down to them to change their reality.
*Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.