“Oh my God, Zzzap! Do you remember that TV show?”
That’s what I asked Bear today after seeing something pop up on Facebook. I was sat kinda hugging him, half sat on one of his legs, his laptop delicately balanced on the other. We were laughing at funny cat videos. Well, one funny cat video. The one where the baby tiger jumps out at the adult tiger and scares the shit out of it. Then some meme thing popped up, talking about Zzzap! and various other old-school TV shows.
“I’ve never seen Zzzap! I don’t think I know of it.”
I was shocked. He’s older than I am, how does he NOT know it?
“Well, there’s like a hand puppet show thing and lots of little screens kinda set out like a comic. Actually it might be easier if I just showed you.”
I ran into the bedroom and grabbed my phone. On my return to the living room, Zzzap! YouTube video ready and waiting in my clutches, he said this:
“Yeah, I don’t care that much. You don’t need to show me. I’m not interested.”
I love Bear for his brutal honesty. And when I say brutal, I mean B R U T A L. Whatever is in his head comes straight out of his mouth and although I love that he can be himself and not feel the need to filter his mouth all the time (because I have difficulty with that too), sometimes his words hit me like a punch to the gut. A really hard and winding punch to the gut. Especially when he says things like that – that he’s simply not interested – which he does … a lot.
I hate talking shit about him. I really, really do. I have a hard time working out what part of him is playing up because he’s being a dickhead, and what part of him is playing up because he has BPD. Maybe there aren’t different parts of him at all? But I feel guilty whenever I talk bad about him, which is why I think I went silent on the blog for so long. I wanted to moan and grumble, but I half-expected people to turn around to me and say something along the lines of: “Well, you did decide to date the guy knowing he had issues … what did you expect?”
And those people would be totally right. I jumped right in, headfirst, not thinking about the consequences. I don’t regret it, but it does feel like I’ve aged a hundred years in the last three-and-a-bit. I’m either in trouble for something or I’m walking on eggshells to avoid getting into trouble for something. Talking too much. Talking about stuff he’s not interested in. Being too loud. Mumbling so he can’t hear me. Leaving the heating on. Leaving the windows open. Having too many facial expressions. Having a different opinion. Not saying what I want. Saying what I want. Pestering him for sex. Not pestering him for sex. Nagging him. Not reminding him. Waking him up. Letting him sleep for too long. Distracting and interrupting him. Spending too much time away from him.
But then there’s the other side of him. The side that you already know plenty about. The side that brings me tea whenever I ask for it and rubs my head when my temples are pounding in bed at night. The one that always comes home with snacks because he knows how much I love snacks. The one that would run out to the shops at midnight, in the pouring rain, to buy me tampons even though he asked me FIVE times if I needed anything before his earlier shop run and I forgot I needed them and said no every time.
That side of him – the good side – makes me want to be super protective of him, to cuddle away the bad days and pretend they don’t exist; and because of his BPD, I feel really shitty for moaning. It would be like knowingly agreeing to enter a relationship with someone that had another condition, such as IBS, and then complaining about how much time they spend on the toilet in the morning. I can’t just all of a sudden start hating the symptoms of his condition because I kinda signed up for them in the first place. He never lied about the darker sides of his personality; I’ve always known about them.
Plus, it’s not like I can’t handle him on his dark days. We’ve found a system that works, often involving me leaving the scene until he’s ready to calm down and apologise — which he always does. It just feels like I’m dealing with an awful lot of dark days recently, and not very many of the good, bright, colourful ones. He had a brand new mental health condition dumped on him, was offered very little in the way of counselling or support, and has been essentially left with a packet of pills and to figure it all out on his own. And he quit drinking at the same time. It’s a lot to cope with, I get it. He’s got a few get-out-of-jail-free cards to use. But there’s not an endless supply of those, you know?
“Do you know what the symptoms of BPD are, Bear?”
I’ve asked him time and time again in a bid to help him understand his own ups and downs, but he doesn’t want to have the conversation. He doesn’t know the symptoms and he doesn’t want to know them. I try to force them on him in light and gentle passing conversation, but he’s not interested. Not in the slightest. I wish he’d try to understand it better. Read about it a bit more. Accept the new diagnosis.
Perhaps he just needs more time?
When you pair his new diagnosis with lots of new pills I guess you’ve got a recipe for a stormy disaster on your hands, and that’s even more so the case when his GP screws up … a lot. We’ve had days of missed medication because Bear’s accidentally been given the wrong prescription — sleeping pills instead of antipsychotic drugs. It seems as though every time we find ourselves on a good roll something goes wrong. Every time Bear settles down and gets used to his pills (and we’re talking a number of different pills at this stage), it all gets fucked up and he’s left without them for a few days, a week, a couple of weeks. When he does start taking them again, we have the same pattern of new-medication symptoms: growling, sleeping all day, not wanting to spend time with anyone, being sad, being angry, snapping at anyone who dares to get close to him.
It’s heartbreaking to watch.
It’s also heartbreaking being on the receiving end.
I know a lot of this can’t be helped, but it does leave me with very little room for bad days of my own. So, I no longer let myself have bad days. Not really. I keep myself to myself, not complaining too much, trying to avoid the oncoming hurricane, but it’s really tough to do when the hurricane follows me from room to room. He says shitty things, I walk off to avoid saying shitty things back, I calm down, he runs after me and tries to apologise, he fails at apologising and gets upset because I am/was pissed off, and then we part ways into different rooms again. And again. And again. And again.
It’s happening more and more frequently.