So I want to tell you about my recent trip to visit one of my female friends who’s currently an inpatient at a mental health facility. She’s recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So yeah, she’s a “nutcase in a nut house”, her words, not mine..
So, you might be asking yourself why are we discussing this on what is essentially a dating website for men? And why the hell am I, a dating and self development coach, why would I even bother to hang out with crazy women?
Well, I think there’s two messages I’d like to put across to you:
The first one is that, I think the red pilled community and the “manosphere” at large, it tends to demonise women with mental illness.
Now look, I get it, there’s a lot of guys who have fallen foul of “crazy women”, and I’m certainly not trying to argue that it’s a good idea to go dating people with mental illnesses, that would be absurd. However, when you demonise someone it tends to have the effect of dehumanising them. And I get it, it’s a lot easier to look at things objectively when you can dehumanise someone and not have any empathy for someone.
But I want to attempt to claw back some of that lost humanity and perhaps even expand your understanding of people with mental illnesses through telling you, in the best way I can articulate it, what my friend is going through mentally and emotionally on a daily basis while she’s trying to overcome this illness.
As for my personal objectives, I really just wanted to learn as much as I could about what she’s going through and how it’s affected her life and maybe at the same time challenge my own views on women with mental illness.
Fortunately, my friend was very open and very candid about what she battles with every day. Some of it was very confronting and quite difficult to wrap my head around as a “lay” person. I mean, I’m a trained counsellor but I’m not a psychiatrist, so, trying to make sense of some of the things she was trying to communicate to me about how she feels was quite difficult to conceptualise…
Now, I just have to add a bit of a warning here: if you’re suffering from BPD or depression this video might be a bit triggering for you, so honestly it might not be a great idea for you to read this.
Saying that, I’m certainly no expert on BPD. These are just some of my thoughts based upon my experience. If you’re a survivor of BPD or you feel like I’ve got something wrong or I haven’t articulated something properly, then please let me know in the comments.
Now, with all this in mind, the other thing I’m hoping to convey here is that, mental illness is really difficult to spot in real life.
For you guys out there in the dating market, this is all a perfect example of what I’ve said in many of my videos when I say you have to stay vigilant when you’re first getting to know someone. I personally had no idea that my friend was battling with all this, and we talked at length about dating and she completely agrees it would be madness to date someone with her disorders. Yet, so many guys do, they look at a girl, think she’s attractive and then they’re just “all in”, without even knowing anything about her. So this, with the greatest respect given to my friend whose at the centre of this, will sort of be a cautionary tale for you guys as well…
I think a lot of guys have this idea that, I’m sorry to sound so uncharitable here but, that batshit craziness is so obvious and very easy to spot in someone. But I think most people haven’t had much exposure to what mental illness looks like in real life and it doesn’t look like the movies and it doesn’t always look like when you see those homeless people walking down the street talking to themselves. It can very subtle and almost undetectable on the surface, because most people with mental illnesses are completely aware they have them and will then try to, very understandably, disguise their issue.
I mean, just as a bit of a preface, when I met my friend at the clinic she didn’t act funny, she was more or less as I remembered her before I knew anything about her condition. We went out and had lunch together at a nice café, nobody was staring at us, she didn’t act weird. It was a very pleasant experience. In fact, I’d say that if it was like our first date or something, I would’ve probably walked away from it thinking “Hmm, she’s a pretty cool girl, I wouldn’t mind seeing her again...”.
So anyway, a bit of a back story.
I’ve known my friend for about 12 years now, I believe. We met at work and we just sort of “clicked”.
Now, my friend was a VERY attractive girl. She was about 22 when I first met her, she’s about 10 years younger than me. I used to joke that she reminded me of the video game character “Bayonetta”, she was quite a tall, slim leggy brunette, always impeccably dressed, she always had guys staring at her when we went to get lunch together.
But she’s not just a pretty face. In fact, just before she was hospitalised she was one of the highest paid female IT executives in the state and she was the general manager of one of the biggest IT company’s in Australia. I would say that, on the surface of it, the vast majority of guys would consider her to be quite a damn good catch.
Now, just to get it out of the way, nothing ever happened between us, we were just mates. I was happily married at the time and she was in a long term relationship so things just never developed on that front. Would they if we were both single? Who knows. But she was a really cool chick and we just liked hanging out.
Anyway, after a couple of years she broke up with her partner and I took it upon myself to be her matchmaker, not that she really needed any help. But I introduced her to a good friend of mine and to cut a long story short, they ended up getting married and having kids together.
Now these two looked like your typical “alpha couple”. I mean my mate was a very tall, good looking guy. He’s about 6”8’, really chilled out guy. He was sort of a younger, taller more chilled out version of Liam Neeson. They just looked really good together. And things seemed to be going quite well for them. I was pretty proud of myself for having set these two up, I have to admit…
But after a few years I started getting reports through the grapevine that things weren’t going so well in paradise. The two of them kind of withdrew from all of their friends, there was obviously something wrong, but I didn’t know what. And then 2 years ago they cut all contact with me.
Anyway, just back in August, I get this phone call at night, and it’s my female friend whom I haven’t heard from in 2 years, and she fills me in on everything that I’ve missed. All the “fun and games”.
Turns out her and her husband (who I set her up with) were just terrible for each other, they’re now separated and she started self harming. She went to a psychiatrist and they instantly diagnosed her with Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Severe Depression. Apparently she’d had it her entire life and never had an official diagnosis.
Now I was obviously like “Holy Shit!”, but she seemed quite calm about it. She didn’t sound any different, she still had her sense of humour. She even joked that she felt like she was a collector of mental illnesses. They were like Pokemon, "gotta collect them all!".
Anyway, after quite a long phone conversation we decided to meet up for lunch. I was just completely intrigued. Here I was running this coaching business that teaches guys how to spot and avoid “crazy” women, and one of my close female friends, a girl whom I really admired and was attracted to, had a whole raft of things I tell guys to steer clear of.
I kinda realised there was so much I didn’t yet know. And I thought, if I could understand and empathise with what my friend was going through, well then maybe it would help me in some way to help guys who have been hurt by toxic relationships.
So, we organised to have lunch together. I have to admit I went in with my guard up. I figured my training in counselling along with my general experience dealing with women and manipulative people would keep me safe, but I didn’t know what she was capable of or if she was going to try something or whatever. I had these visions of her randomly leaping over the table and stabbing me with a knife if I “said the wrong thing” or triggered her somehow….
So I met her at the clinic and, being a red blooded male, the first thing I noticed about her when I went to pick her up was that she no longer looked like Bayonetta. Now, as I said earlier, my friend used to be a VERY attractive girl. Like, I have literally skipped queues at nightclubs and bars because she’s been in my “entourage” and the bar staff want her “type” to be seen in their establishment. I know that sounds conceited, but it’s just the truth. But to say her looks have degraded would be an understatement. This whole episode of her life had really taken a toll on her physically.
I know this sounds harsh, and kinda pointless to even bring up considering everything else going on, but the reason I’m saying this is because she’s a perfect example of how mental illness manifests itself physically. And I’m not saying this disparagingly. I’m saying this actually out of sympathy if anything.
Saying that, I mean, she still looked “normal”, and it’s only because I knew what she used to look like before all this that I was able to recognise that things were different. But if you had just met her you’d have no real idea there was all this turmoil inside of her. I mean, in the “manosphere” there’s this rule that “if she’s got tattoos, and piercings and she’s overweight and she’s got blue hair or purple hair or whatever, they’re all massive red flags because it’s signs of mental illness”. And to some degree I have to agree with this rule. It can potentially be a sign that somethings wrong inside of someone. The problem is, rarely is it ever discussed WHY these girls are like this…
So, what is it like having Borderline Personality Disorder? Well, these are some of the things my friend told me…
Well, to start off, it’s called BORDERLINE Personality Disorder because apparently doctors used to think it was on the border between two different disorders: neurosis and psychosis. Apparently it ‘s often referred to as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), which is probably a more apt description.
Basically, my friend goes through her days having no ability to regulate her emotions. Somewhere along the line she missed developing that ability that most of us take for granted where we have some control over how we feel. With her, it’s just an out of control tornado. It’s like having the volume dial on your stereo just randomly changing from 0 to 10.
For most of the time you can’t feel anything, you can’t feel love, you can’t feel joy, can’t feel sadness, until all of a sudden you get a tsunami of emotions that threatens to take your life.
So when she starts self harming, like a lot of people suffering from BPD do, it’s a response to not having control over anything. It’s from being sick of not being able to feel anything, that at least this pain that I’m inflicting on myself, is something I can control. "At least if I cut myself, I can control this feeling, I can control what’s happening".
Now BPD is so dangerous to the sufferer because it’s so impulsive. Talk therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and generally what you’d receive in counselling doesn’t work she said, and learning all these techniques and processes like mindfulness and CBT has no effect because when she’s having an episode, when she loses control of her emotions, she’s completely aware she has these processes and techniques available to her, but she say’s she becomes rebellious to them like “fuck it, I’m just gonna do what I want to do!”.
Now, in the past I’ve been quite critical of the way mental health is handled in my country, and when she told me about the treatment she was undertaking in this clinic, it seriously triggered me. She’s undertaking ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy. So what they do is while you’re under general anesthetic, they send an electric current through your brain which brings about a seizure. It’s pretty full on. It’s meant to alter your brain chemistry and it’s sort of used when you need to treat some of the symptoms of certain mental illnesses very quickly.
Now obviously when I heard they were taking the quick route I instantly started questioning her about whether this was best for her, why are they using a quick fix method on her, all that stuff.
And she very calmly replied “Stu, they need to stop me from trying to kill myself so there’s a chance for everything else I’m doing to work”.
I was like “shit of course!”. That makes perfect sense. Right now the priority is to keep her alive long enough for the other treatments to work.
She told me that, because of her issues around the fear of being abandoned, she would deliberately sabotage or set up no win situations, driven by the fear that nobody cared for her. Remember, what you fear you attract. For example, when she wanted her husband to mow the lawn, instead of asking her husband politely to schedule it into his diary to mow the lawn some time, she would simply leave the lawnmower out and hope her husband got the message. When her husband inevitably didn’t get the message, she would fly off the handle at him, with the subtext being that he didn’t care anymore. So she would set up scenarios that reinforced her belief that nobody cared about her.
She’s terrified of what she’s capable of now. She is not in control of what she does. This is an important thing to remember. She has lost everything to this illness, friends, her job, her health, her marriage. She’s even lost temporary custody of her children. One of her biggest challenges at the moment is learning to attach a negative feeling to the emotional explosions she has. Presently, she says they almost feel liberating, or cathartic for her, even though they threaten her life and she’s lost so much because of these episodes.
She talked about using the "elastic band method", where the patient wears elastic bands on their wrists and every time they feel an emotional trigger coming on they snap their wrists with them causing pain. It’s sort of the Pavlov's Dog association thing, she has to learn to associate pain with negative feelings.
Another thing we discussed at length was her journey out of this dark place, so what were her plans going forward. She said she’d love to go back to work, because she loves what she does and obviously she’d like to work towards 50% custody of her children, which her ex husband completely supports, however she has to achieve some milestones before this is a possibility…
Another issue I’ve come to understand more is that I think there’s a great deal of life coaches out there that are risking people’s lives by trying to treat conditions they are completely unqualified for.
I mean, this experience reinforced to me, as a coach, that I have my limitations. Not that I want to treat the mentally ill anyway, I’m happy to leave that up to the experts. If you’ve got a mind set you’d like to change , like you don’t feel as though you’re good enough for people, well that’s where I can help.
But when I hear life coaches trying to treat depression with visualisation techniques, it makes my skin crawl. The human brain is literally the most complex thing that we know of in the entire universe and if you think that you can fix depression or some narcissistic disorder by teaching your clients a couple of affirmations in the morning then you’ve got fucking rocks in your head.
Not everything is just a mindset that you can control. Some things are out of your control, and I think that people with mental illnesses like BPD or bipolar disorder or depression need to be viewed with a bit more compassion than they are by the manosphere at large. I know that is really hard to be empathetic to someone with these illnesses if you’ve ever been on the receiving end in a relationship with someone who’s displaying all the symptoms of these ailments but hasn't bothered being formally diagnosed, but I think it’s important to differentiate the person from the ailment. I think it’s fine to be angry at the illness, but not the person. It’s like if someone you loved had cancer. You wouldn’t be angry at them, you’d be angry at the cancer inside them and I think the same attitude has to be take with people who have serious mental health issues.
Now that’s not to say in any way that, just because I’m doing a video on trying to understand those with BPD a bit better, that I’m saying that “you should date someone with BPD or some other form of serious mental illness”. I am not saying that at all. If you want a drama free existence, dating someone with BPD is an absolutely terrible idea. And my friend would absolutely agree with this. In fact, she even said she’s fully aware that she is completely unable to have any kind of meaningful relationship with anyone until she’s got this sorted, and that may take years, possibly decades.
But for you, the main take away should be that you need to stay vigilant when you meet someone for the first time. There should be no such thing as “love at first sight” anywhere near your wheelhouse. I’m not saying you have to be alarmed, just aware. You just need to give people the time and opportunity to show you who they truly are before you go emotionally committing to them.
There’s the old rule that people can generally hide who they truly are for around 90 days, so 3 months. My friend was able to hide her afflictions from me for over 10 years. Maybe in retrospect, she never let me get too close to her by design, because she thought I’d abandon her as a friend if I discovered her issues (she did look up to me as a bit of a mentor), but I think it took at least 6 months before her partner noticed she may not be the “girl of his dreams”, like he thought she was when I first introduced the two of them.
So anyway, I hope this helps you guys out there. I just thought it was an interesting experience worth passing on to you. I learnt a fair bit about myself out of the whole experience and I hope you got something out of it too.