My BPD and Me

Today is November 26, 2017.  The year is almost over and I’m currently in a nameless coffee shop in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Ok, it’s a Starbucks- I am a slave to the corporation.   I have a show in two hours in some hostel, and I haven’t really gotten a chance to write this before.

I suffer from a mental disability called Borderline Personality Disorder.  The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as: “a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.”

I’ve been living in New York for almost two months, and it has not at all been what I expected.  The first three weeks I was here, I probably told myself I was going to quit doing stand up comedy every day.  I briefly entertained the idea of going back to school, maybe find a job that paid well, tried to start a family, essentially give up.  I was not happy.  I started to get scared that maybe I chose to do something that I wasn’t able to sustain.  I think everybody going through a major change probably feels that way, but this was the first time I thought, “Holy shit, I should quit.”

I can’t keep track of how many tinder dates I went on the first month I was here, none ending well, but I don’t know if that was the intention in the first place.  I felt incredibly isolated in one of the most densely populated cities in the country, and I think I was looking for a way to connect with other people.  I’m good at finding faults, mostly in myself, and that fueled a long string of “she’s never going to like me, I’m too fat, too shy, etc.” and boy howdy is it easy to make a prophecy like that come true.  I don’t think I’m ever going to be over my ex-girlfriend, and I’m starting to accept that.  These blogs are just a place for me to vent, I think.  Weird.

Comedy is tricky.  It’s important to be funny on stage and gregarious offstage.  I’m not so good at talking to people when they can talk back.  I know that’s a control thing.  BPD can make it hard to effectively talk to people, and I think one of the reasons I found comedy to be so cathartic was because it’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable communicating with other people.  I know that seems hack, and it probably is, but I loved doing stand up because it was like hitting the release valve on a pipe that was about to burst.  Over the years, my reasons for doing standup haven’t changed, but my motivation has.  Making people laugh is the greatest feeling in the world, and I feel like I do it as much for myself now as I do for other people.  I’m not saying that I’m the greatest comic in the world, or that I’m writing revolutionary jokes, but every now and then someone comes up to me after a show to say they connected with something I said.  It feels good.

I knew that moving to New York meant “starting over,” having to prove myself to some of the best comics in the world.  I’m not patient.  I didn’t see results as quickly as I wanted to, and it made me nervous.  I felt myself shutting in and becoming a hermit.  But something’s changed recently.

I treat this blog like a journal, and hopefully someone can find something from it so it doesn’t seem as self indulgent as it feels.  I started writing and performing like I did when I first started standup.  I stopped worrying about finding the exact laugh line, or where the punch was.  I just started speaking about what made me laugh throughout the day, like I did when I first started.  I stopped focusing on how much I wasn’t getting booked, and I stopped relying on other comics for my happiness.  Man- it feels so good to just do something for yourself.

I guess I’m trying to loop this around to dating.  BPD explains why I get so frantic and drastic about the things I’m highly passionate about, like comedy, but it’s also characterized by unstable relationships coupled with an intense sense of abandonment, among other things.  Every first date I go on feels like a marriage proposal.  When I don’t get a call back or my texts go unanswered, it feels like a divorce.  I wish I could explain that to someone, specifically my ex-girlfriend.  I don’t know if you’re reading this, but I’m sorry.  I never meant to be as aggressively depressing or intensely angry, I mean it.

Knowing what I do about BPD (admittedly, not a whole lot), makes it easy for me to explain on paper, or a wordpress site that no one reads, but it’s so hard to explain to someone on a first date, “Hi, I’m an intense person.  Like so intense that I am going to probably obsess over every word I say.  And no, not in a cute way where I’m nervous, like in a way where I am legitimately terrified because when you get up to leave, that could be it for me.”  Goddammit do I beat myself the fuck up.  I do this with relationships, romantic or friendly, and I do this with comedy.

I live in a constant state of depression, which kind of feels like a fog, but I’m starting to see through it.  Comedy is getting better, I’m recognizing when I’m wandering into a manic state, and I’m starting to sort of figure it out.  Feel free to reach out, I need the friends, but if you want to talk, I would love to listen to someone else today.

 

I love you, most of you,

Max

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