It’s definitely one of the lesser discussed effects of BPD, I mean, when you’re struggling through the minefield of self-injury, intrusive thoughts, emptiness, shifting emotions etc. it can be an easy one to ignore.
That is until you find yourself directly in the throes of tedium.
I’m sure that we as a human race are no strangers to boredom; for some it comes easily, for others it is a thing to strive to avoid, and for those with BPD it can mean being stuck in an unpredictable limbo.
To others, this mental state could probably be something akin to ‘normal’ (whatever the hell that is).
Perhaps I should clear things up by saying what it isn’t. Allow me to illustrate my point with a handy graphic:
As you can see both ‘chronic emptiness’ and ‘boredom’ fall directly in the middle of this chart ranging from highest high to lowest low. However the two differ greatly in terms of emotional experiences, I discussed emptiness here, so I won’t write too much on it in this post. The emptiness isn’t just a lack of feeling, it can be described as an ’emotional numbing’.
Boredom presents itself as more of distracted, unsettled uncertainty. Periods of tedium tend to make those diagnosed with BPD more likely to fall into self-sabotage as they may feel very uncomfortable sitting with their boredom.
As referenced in the title, it’s not dissimilar to the dull edge of a knife. Whilst you are aware that both extremes of the chart are not ideal places to be, you cannot help but feel a churning for something sharp.
This is often where self-sabotage comes into play; you sit there surrounded by the ‘nothing’, you know something should be happening, something usually happens, so the normality is unnerving.
You are used to the constant bombardment of emotions, used to the extreme reactions, used to the emptiness and the overthinking and suddenly there is a suspicious lack of chaos.
You can feel it below the surface, the little spikes of energy, the calm before the storm, the electricity in the air – but there’s no blowout, there’s no thunderstorm.
It feels weird and out of place to just be so… bored. Everything is tedious. Interest and motivation left quietly through the back door, followed closely by your ability to focus.
What I imagine other people feel like most of the time -although the overwhelming boredom is replaced by feelings of neutrality – is content or unaware of the lack of intensity in their lives.
But it’s that little niggling feeling eating away at your skull. Where is the intensity? Where is the FEELING? Where is the drama? I guess because all you know is chaos and intensity, it’s difficult to accept this neutrality, this ‘normal’ state, as something that is a good thing and to just roll with it.
So you try to make something happen. You try to create the intensity and you nudge the feeling back into your life. You have a huge gap in your life that must be filled with something. Something powerful and real, something to sweep you away and carry you off into your own reality of ‘normal’.
Hence, self-sabotage. Things are going too smoothly. Things are so… normal… so boring… Something should be happening… But it’s not, and I don’t want to sit and wait to see what life is going to throw at me next so I’ll just kick-start the process. There is an element of danger in feeling so ‘safe’ in the world of BPD that ‘normal’ must be eradicated because it is too scary and unknown to deal with.
Knowing that this is merely a lapse in the usual emotional dysregulation of your life sets you on edge as well. You are balancing precariously on the scales, knowing that at any moment you could go crashing down onto either side.
I need to learn to accept these moments that come few and far between, and to embrace them as my own, and hopefully they will replace my current version of reality with some semblance of peace.