It’s funny how things are all connected, when you really sit down to look at them. Well, not funny in a comedic sense, but funny as in interesting. For years, I have had trouble controlling my impulses. Many people who knew me understood this. I, unfortunately, did not. I never realized I had a problem until it was pointed out to me by someone I loved (The Cowboy, as written about here on Mamiverse in my parenting column). While others had tried to point out that I had a problem, they were usually people I was fighting with, and I was able to brush it off as “they just hate me.”
This man who loves me, though, noticed early on in our relationship that there was a pattern in my life of what he called self-destructive failure to control my impulses. He was quite clear in letting me know that any relationship we were to have would be contingent upon this pattern of mine being fixed. No fix, no relationship.
This pattern of impulse control failure had manifested itself most obviously in various unwise moves I’d made with regards to my career, online. I’d posted scathing letters and blog posts about my employers or business associates, for example, over the past decade, and though I’d incredibly thought at the time that such actions would help me to gain sympathy, these things always turned around to bite me. In the end, the only person who ended up hurt by my public tantrums was…me.
What I didn’t realize until very recently is that there were all sorts of other ways in which this same pattern of failing to control my most base and emotional impulses was harming me. Pretty much any area of my life you wanted to look at, there it was. Failure to control impulses.
DIAGNOSIS: BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
I began to research this, realizing it was absolutely holding me captive in my own life, and was led to a therapist who wasted no time in diagnosing me with a mood disorder. I have what is called Borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder has a very bad rap among mental health specialists, because we’re the people who go nuts when someone breaks up with us, we’re the ones who try to kill ourselves, we’re the ones who sometimes turn on our own therapists, even, because we tend to have very black and white thinking. BPD has such a bad rap, in fact, that I hesitate to disclose this to you now, but I do so because I truly believe the truth will set us free. I’m not perfect. I have a disorder. I got it honestly, through a combination of biology and suffering, and I am working very, very hard to figure out how to handle it before it’s too late.
I’d gone through 42 years of life blindfolded, and this diagnosis was the first time anyone had lifted the cloth from my eyes long enough for me to see myself as I really was, and, most importantly, to catch a glimpse of a solution to this problem that had ruined just about every part of my life from the time I was 16 years old and it first reared its ugly head.
People with impulse control issues tend, among all of their other charming behaviors, to overeat. This is not a surprise. Eating right requires control. Self-control. Borderlines are notoriously lacking in this skill. Eating right also requires mastery over one’s emotions, if you are an emotional eater as so many of us are. It is no surprise, then, that Borderlines like me have higher rates of eating disorders and obesity than the rest of the population. Yes, we’re a lovely bunch, aren’t we?
There are complicated reasons I ended up this way, most of them sad and having taken place when I was a kid and had no say over what happened to me, and not worth burdening you with here. There is also a silver lining to my disorder—it has made me a very empathetic person who is able to live most happily in her imagination, where she can control everything—in other words, it made me a writer. So I’m not saying being a Borderline is all bad, though I am working very hard to correct it. I hope to remain a writer, even after the disorder that made me one goes away.
In short, my disorder, my lack of impulse control, made me fat. That’s what I ‘m trying to tell you. I see that now. I think that for many of us—though certainly not for all of us—issues with overeating and obesity can be traced to other, larger issues that likely plague other areas of our lives. In my case, I could not even begin to fix the weight problem until I honestly addressed the mood disorder. It wasn’t as simple as “eat less, exercise more” in my case. There was so much more to it.
A JOURNEY OF HEALING
I am embarking upon a journey of healing, with professional help, trying to get a handle on this monster on my back. And to my great delight, one of the unexpected side effects has been a healthier relationship with eating, and a loss of weight. We often say that there is a bias against fat people in our culture, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I think there is a biological basis for this inherent revulsion toward people who are obese. The physical body is truly a manifestation of our emotional well-being. People who are fat, as I was, walk around wearing their extra pounds as a flashing neon sign to others, advertising their emotional problems. Our bodies are the best barometer we have of how well we are doing, mentally. I know this statement will upset a lot of people, but I posit that most of that upset comes from the discomfort of recognizing a difficult truth.
To fix our bodies, we must first fix our souls. It’s as simple as that.