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  • Writer's pictureNick Hartkop

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

When I was diagnosed and started treatment, I was given a workbook which I used called The Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook (Daniel J. Fox, PhD). It was a tool that helped me understand the symptoms of BPD and from that point I was able to work with my therapist on them.

The symptoms are: 1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (APA 2013, 663) 2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation (APA 2013, 663) 3. Identity Disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self (APA 2013, 663) 4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self damaging (for example, spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating) (APA 2013, 663) 5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self mutilating behavior (APA 2013, 663) 6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (APA 2013, 663) 7. Chronic feelings of emptiness (APA 2013, 663) 8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (for example, frequent displays of temper, constant anger, and recurrent physical fights (APA 2013, 663) 9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms (Paranoid ideation is being afraid that others are plotting against you, and dissociation is mentally separating from physical or emotional experiences, or both) (APA 2013, 663)

You can find this list on page 8. I will include a link to the resource:

If you have read about me or been reading these blogs, you'll know that I have displayed all of these behaviors in my life, and before I started medication or therapy, I displayed them very badly. Especially anger. Anger is the one I struggle with the most, and I still struggle with it daily. BPD is a spectrum, and unique to the individual, and my anger is intense. The book includes a lot of helpful information on controlling high risk situations, challenging and changing dysfunctional beliefs and growing beyond destructive fears, beliefs and wishes. It's a wonderful resource to use accompanied by professional help and medication. It's something that helps me actively think about my illness and to control it.

There has been a lot of good in my life that has come from the failures I have had. I am in a place where I am happier with the social circle I surround myself with who understands BPD and there is a mutual respect between us all. I get to spend every day with my wife who is my best friend and have adventures together. It is easy a lot of the time to become consumed by negativity when you are stigmatized by your mental health, but in my day to day, I live a safe fulfilling fun life. I'm going to use this blog entry to list things that I have had in my life to reinforce that it is possible to see beauty in the world and be happy even when ill.


  • Walking next to mountains holding hands with Emily. I like the way her hand fits into mine and how her palms feel.

  • The way she smiles at me and tells me everything is going to be okay.

  • The way she says I love you

  • Collecting old movies and games that we display on our shelf

  • Getting piercings and tattoos with my wife

  • Meeting with my rabbi and discussing mental health

  • Waking up every morning at 7 am to get a coffee for my routine (Routine is good for me. If I follow a day to day routine the stabilization of it helps my BPD)

  • Walking around Best Buy just because

  • Making friends with our neighbors and buying their kids gifts when they graduate school

  • Watching Emily paint

  • Writing music and being able to express myself through that

  • Having people message through this blog. It has made me feel accepted

  • Building computers. (I became obsessed with it last year, and I built a PC that was constantly struggling, so figuring that out is fun for me)

  • Going to the movies every weekend. Always stoned. Emily is straight edge, but I can't go out in public unless I smoke because of the fear I have of people wanting to hurt me

  • Cutting the grass in our backyard (Which I need to do today)

  • Looking at the sky and thinking about if there is an afterlife (It's a scary thing but something positive as well because we are all going to die)

  • Making Emily laugh

  • Emily making me laugh

  • Taking road trips (Which we haven't been able to because of COVID, but soon hopefully)

  • Going to Uwajimaya

  • Going to the bookstore to collect manga (Persona 5 currently)

  • Writing poetry

  • Being able to connect with people who face the same struggles I do mentally

  • Playing games with Emily. Its something we do daily and it's my favorite part of the day

  • Driving through the country to the little diner we go to.

  • Holding Emily while she falls asleep and laying next to her hearing her breathe.

  • Seeing people smile

  • Seeing families together having fun

  • Seeing addicts recover

  • Watching videos on people who make positive impacts with BP and BPD

  • Seeing birds fly

  • Seeing clouds just before it rains

  • Watching rain from my bedroom at night and seeing the droplets reflect off the lamppost in our neighborhood

  • Dreaming about a life where I don't feel the way I do most days

  • Dreaming about having a family

  • Dreaming about my father telling me he loves me just because, not because I had to earn it.

  • Watching the sun and the stars and the moon

  • Driving to the city for ice cream

  • The way Emily tells me I'm a good man and there is hope for my future

  • Being able to give Emily confidence and support

  • Cleaning the house and doing dishes so Emily has a nice home

  • Bringing her donuts and coffee in the morning

  • Having a friend and not feeling alone, even when manic, even when I deserved it. My best friend made sure I was never alone, and I make sure they're never alone either

  • Lighting candles

  • Eating Ramen

  • Playing Dungeons and Dragons

  • Printing off pictures we take and putting them into our book

  • Emily and I bought a tattoo gun and gave each other tattoos for our marriage anniversary.

These are just some of the things that are positive in my life, and when I write them out, I reflect on how much good I have. I am going to continue my treatment and journey into being the person I need to be, my past, BPD and BP do not define me, but they shape my future. I love my home and my partner, and the life we share.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to message anytime through the contact form, I will always try to get back to you.


Persona 5 Cosplay:


On a music related note, I should have some updates on merchandise and the new album soon. Thank you to everyone who has inquired about it. I've been learning the violin and am trying to incorporate it into my music. I am starting to think the release is going to take longer than initially anticipated because I need this album to be able to accurately display the emotions I am trying to convey. I am really happy with what I've written so far, but I am in no rush to put something out, because I want to write songs again that people relate to. The release will have a merch and vinyl run that will go to charity, and I am hoping to share the art and title with you soon. Thanks for listening.

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide ideation and personal struggles I face and have faced through my life. _________________ Living with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder means that I struggle with the two ends of mania. When I am manically high, I struggle with anger, but when I have depressive lows I think of killing myself. It’s something that gives me this weird happiness in my chest. I have been struggling mentally, and sometimes when I’m manic, I make plans to hurt myself, and it gives me this little burst of joy that makes me feel like I’m finally free and have control over my life. I feel trapped in my body most days, like a little disturbed shell that wants to be free. I can feel that thing we have in our chests that our emotions come from. It’s like the roots to the tree of life and I think it’s my soul. And many times I feel like my soul is trapped in my body and that it would be happy if it was free from the human experience. It’s selfish and wrong and that’s why I haven’t done it, but I fantasize about it. I feel like a coward for not doing it because if I truly feel this way, I think I should just stop threatening it and just get it over with and try again in the next life. But when I think of my partner finding my lifeless body in the bathroom, I have to stop thinking about it because the pain and trauma that would cause someone who loves me is too much to do to a person. I think the saddest part of suicide is the effect it has on the family left behind. Sometimes I look up stories from people who have been left behind by someone close to them who has taken their own life, and the story is almost always the same. Usually, the lasting trauma they are unfairly forced to feel, and guilt imposed on them is along the lines of "I wish I would have known. I wish I could have done something.” It is not that person's fault, and I believe that there’s nothing an external force can do to really save someone struggling with taking their own life because the person planning to hurt themselves has to make that decision and go through with it. In my personal struggles, when I get that burst of happiness from thinking about finally going to sleep and not feeling this way, it’s a selfish disease that doesn’t care about anyone or anything because it’s all about me. I think if I could talk to people who have committed suicide, most would say they wish they hadn’t done it. In those moments of darkness, myself included, people aren’t thinking correctly. For me, every positive external force, every “I love you and I need you” isn’t relevant, because I just want the pain to stop. But I know it isn’t right or fair. I don’t believe external forces can save us from ourselves because we are the ones who have to make that choice. When I am manically low, “I love you’s” mean nothing to me because the hatred for myself overcomes it. But I’m scared of going to hell, and I’ve been a coward most of my life so I don’t want to be remembered as an abusive failure. But I honestly don’t know what to do. I feel like my mental health is a show to people and it makes me feel isolated and cornered. I wish I could show people that I am a real person who struggles and has hurt people, but is good in my soul. I don’t feel like a bad person in my heart, so I often feel like I’ll never be able to get past the fact that people define me by my past when I was undiagnosed, unmedicated, and hadn’t been to rehab or started treatment. I’ve written suicide notes before but I’ve never been happy with them. Which is stupid, but important to me because its hard to convey a meaningful summary of my life and what I am suffering through. I remember the first time I made a plan to kill myself was when I was in 9th grade. The home I grew up in was near something called, at the time, The Achievement Center. It was an activity center for adults with physical and mental disabilities, and it had this big open field in front of it that I used to fly kites in. Behind it was a path around a lake that you could ride a bike on, and I felt safe and happy there because I have a memory of my dad from when I was 10, walking with me and patting me on the back telling me he loved me. He stopped doing that once I became a problem child in 8th grade and It made me feel so alone that when I think about it still, it’s just as fresh as it was then. Trauma is an awful thing because when we focus on it and let it consume us, it’s like being there all over again. I remember having the idea of killing myself while mowing the lawn, and feeling that happiness in my chest. The same happiness I feel now because I would finally be free. Free from my disturbing thoughts, free from my anger, free from the abuse from my mother. I made the decision that I was going to sneak out and drown myself when my family fell asleep because the lake seemed like a beautiful place to stop my heart. My parents put a self-installed security system in their home so they could hear the door chime every time it was opened, because of the problems I was causing them, so I left the back door ajar slightly so it would look like all the doors were closed when everyone went to bed. I left my Spider-Man bike next to my house and I took it after everyone went to bed and rode to The Achievement Center. I remember wearing cargo shorts and a Mountain Dew T-shirt I had at the time and I walked into the lake up to my knees. It was freezing which I hadn’t taken into account, and I have this vivid memory of laying on my back and floating looking up at the moon. I remember the way the water sounded and the bugs felt flying around. I lived in a rural area so I could see the moon, the clouds and stars perfectly, and I just laid there. I laid there and cried and screamed because I was scared. And I couldn’t do it and I felt like a coward. I had less to lose as a kid, but that feeling I still struggle with was as real and as intense as it is today. But back then I had to bottle it up because my family didn’t believe in mental health. So I rotted inside. I rode my bike home soaking wet and snuck into my room, and I started kicking holes into my wall. That was the start of a lot of physical destruction I had when I felt cornered. I remember the way the wood broke on my door and how my foot went into it and splintered. I had to pick the splinters out of my toes and feet and it hurt like hell. I wish I could have a do over for my life, because I am not happy with it. I think about my failures non-stop and I feel scared. I feel so lost. I am sorry to everyone and I hope someday I won’t feel like this and that I can be forgiven. The judgment I feel perpetuates the Christian ideology I grew up with. I feel like humans hate me, God hates me and It makes me hateful of people. The sadness and regret I feel for my life isn’t a momentary thing. It’s something I feel the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to sleep. I usually get about 2-3 hours of sleep a night because I can’t stop my mind from racing, even with my medication. I wish I could start over, and that’s what suicide makes me feel hope for. But suicide isn’t right, it isn’t the answer, and even writing that I feel like a hypocrite because I struggle with it daily. Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing things like that to try to convince myself that it’s not right. I still feel pressure to be this person who can conquer these feelings, but they are very real to me and most of the time I feel like it’s a war I’m losing. I can’t hold a job, I keep dropping out of school, and have delusional paranoid thoughts of people hurting me, and I just feel so lost. I also know if I do kill myself there are people out there who would say I deserve it and be happy, and that’s what gets to me most. I feel so worthless and like I don’t matter to people, because my mental health struggles are a show. But there would also be people who think about me everyday and won’t ever heal from it, and I don’t want to force that onto anyone, especially people I love deeply Suicide is not something to be glorified, and it’s not something I am going to do. It’s not something anyone should do because of that pain, that loneliness, it’s something we don’t stand a chance against, and that decision is permanent. There’s no coming back from it, and we don’t know what’s waiting for us on the other side. I think of the movie What Dreams May Come a lot. It's a film starring Robin Williams in which he and his children are killed in a car accident but his wife survives. She is unable to live without her family, so she commits suicide. The film follows the principles I was raised on, by which Robin Williams and his children go to heaven, while his wife goes to hell because she took her own life. It’s about his journey to find her and take her back to heaven. When I think about hurting myself I think of the scene of him crossing the river sticks and the tortured souls that are stuck swimming in it screaming in the darkness. I don’t want to be one of those souls. I don’t want to drown forever because of my pain. We have to be the ones to save ourselves. I have to stay grounded in reality, I have to stay healthy, and I refuse to give up on myself, even if I feel like the world is against me. I refuse to be one of the people in the river sticks. I just want to be happy, and I am on a journey of figuring out what healing and happiness looks like for myself even when labeled by people who don’t know me. I don’t know if I’ll find it, but I’m going to continue to try. Nick ______________ If you are having thoughts of harming yourself and are in a place you don’t feel like you can come back from and be happy, I believe you can. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Update 2/20/2023: I recently was approached by to include some potentially life-saving resources they've worked so diligently to compile.

This link leads to their comprehensive depression and suicide resource guide, with national resources which can help you in your mental health journey even if you don't live in the Columbus area. Many of these resources also aid individuals in other areas beyond depression.

For a comprehensive guide of education of resources for substance abuse and treatment, as well as suicide prevention, they were also kind enough to share a resource from To learn more about substance abuse and how to notice the signs and take the first step in recovery, you can follow this link.

Thank you to Enmanuel for sharing these resources with us, and for seeing an opportunity to collaborate on sharing mental health education in our community. ______________

(The home I was raised in and where wrote a majority of my songs)

  • Writer's pictureNick Hartkop

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

My team and I have been having an ongoing discussion and have decided that it would be appropriate for a merch store to exist for McCafferty. I wouldn't feel comfortable having a merch store unless it exists to help people, so the profits from the merchandise that will be sold through my site will be donated to Easterseals. To be accountable, my team will update the site with the profits that were donated after a merch run, no matter how small, because every little bit helps. Easterseals is a charity that is important to me.

You can find out more about who they are and what they do here: Easterseals | The Story of Easterseals (I will also include a brief description at the bottom of this blog and a permanent section to the site). I do not have any interaction with the website or store, my team runs it and will be in charge of its day-to-day operations.

We have decided to start with 50 shirts. I have had people email me interested in merch, but I want people to feel right purchasing it knowing that it goes to helping people. If there is more interest, we will expand into other merchandise.

The new EP (which may become an album) will have a vinyl pressing and be sold through the site as well (again, all money raised on the site will go to Easterseals). I will include a mock-up of the T-shirt design we have chosen and the color we are working with, so people can see if they are interested. My team will update the blog and Spotify when pre-orders go live. The color of the shirts is subject to change because we won't know what it looks like physically until orders are up, but we are hoping it will be close to the color shown. The temporary mock-up below shows men's sizing, but the final product will have neutral sizing options. If you have any questions, feel free to send a message.

My team doesn't have specifics on cost, but we are aiming to have pre-orders up in the next two weeks (again, nothing is concrete but we have begun working with a production company).

I want to thank everyone who has been reading these blogs and connecting with them. I'm going to continue my journey of treatment for my Bipolar, my BPD and becoming the best version of myself. Thanks for listening.



The Story of Easterseals:

As America’s largest nonprofit health care organization, Easterseals is committed to the comprehensive health and wellness of the more than 1.5 million people it serves each year and is prepared to respond to the needs of the one in four Americans living with disability today with outcomes-based services for all disabilities throughout the lifespan. Among our services: early intervention, inclusive childcare, medical rehabilitation and autism services for young children and their families; job training and coaching, employment placement and transportation services for adults with disabilities, including veterans; adult day services and employment opportunities for older adults – in addition to a variety of additional services for people of all ages including mental health and recovery programs, assistive technology, camp and recreation, caregiving support including respite – and much more. Additionally, we’ve served transitioning military, veterans and their families and caregivers since WWII and continue to be the “go to” resource for them to help ensure their successful transition to civilian life. (Link: Easterseals | The Story of Easterseals)


McCafferty T-Shirt Mockup:

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