• Nick Hartkop

August 31, 2021 (Rehabilitation/Mental Health: Bipolar/BPD)

Trigger warning: This post will include language that is hurtful and offensive. I feel embarrassed to share about my struggles with toxicity throughout my life, but part of my treatment is being able to have an open dialogue about my past in order to be accountable for my future. I am ashamed of the things I will be discussing, but I think they are important in relation to being mentally ill, and becoming consumed by anger.


My mother has mental illness just like I do, she was unmedicated with Bipolar my entire life. There would be days when I would ask to have a friend over and she would be manic and happy and then if the person who came to my home didn't say "Thanks for having me" the way she liked, she would tell me I couldn't see them again. She had these two opposite ends of the spectrum with a voice and tone that was sweet and welcoming, followed by this intensive, quick, sinister tone of putting me down, putting women down, and putting people down in general. My grandmother told me that my mother stopped taking her medication because it made her gain weight and she cared about her appearance more than her mental health. My parents didn't believe in it, so I understand as an adult why she never followed through.

My mom had a hatred of women and of sex. She came from a family where rape was present, and she projected that into my home. My mom would describe women as "whores," "bitches," and "loose" because they would have sex in their relationships, and she would also fat-shame women. When I started my first serious relationship, my mom and dad would say things about my partner being "overweight" and that they "needed to lose weight" and it was shaming to me because it made me feel like I wasn't with someone that my mother approved of, and I needed her approval so she wouldn't verbally berate me with weird asides that left holes of insecurity in my brain. She found a note that my partner had written when I was young describing our first sexual experience and how she wanted me to "finger them."


When she found the note, my dad came home early from work and they sat me down at our kitchen table and told me she was a "fat whore" who I now had to break up with. I wasn't allowed to leave my home, I wasn't allowed to see anyone, and I became isolated because of having natural feelings for one another. My dad told me she was a whore too, and I remember that was the first time I really started becoming verbally abusive.


I refused to stop seeing that person, and it became commonplace for me to fight with my mother and scream that she was a "cunt" and a "bitch" and I had an anger towards her and then my partner because I felt like it was their fault I was suffering. It is disgusting to think about, and disappointing to admit, but I would use that language against my partner when we would fight. I would tell them that they were a "fat cunt" and say they should "lose weight" because of the vivid imagery of my parents looking at my partner and judging them. It was a sickening, weird, demented sense of judgment that should have never been imposed on someone.

That person was beautiful just as they were, and as we all are, but that anger stayed with me, and I used it against them when I was upset. It was something I carried with me and projected in my youth, and continued on into my young adulthood. If there was a woman who I didn't like, I'd say they were a "bitch," if there was something my partner would say that made me mad, they were a "cunt." If there was a man I didn't like, he was a "faggot" (That came from my own sexual repression of being attracted to men. My dad and uncle were so homophobic growing up that they would call me "Brokeback Mountain", and "fagatron" daily. It was a joke to them, and I don't blame them for not having the education they should have, and I was responsible for gaining that education to be better than my parents, but I used those words freely).

I would even use slurs to be shocking and try to make people laugh. Like I have described in my previous posts, I wanted to be the most shocking person in the room because I thought I was "edgy". In reality I was emotionally disturbed and thought bad things were funny, but they weren't.


These things I have listed are unforgivable for saying, they can't be unsaid, and the damage I caused projecting my own anger and abuse is disgusting. I have always had a way with words, and part of that is the tapestry of obscenity I would use against people who made me feel small. I was a small, insecure, misogynistic male and through my cancellation and therapy I have been given the education on the power those words hold and keep hold over people.

I think the hardest part is reflecting and saying "You should have known better," but I didn't care and the pain I caused from my words throughout my life were uncalled for and wrong, and in a lot of ways I feel like I received help too late. The anger I experience is not normal anger, having BP/BPD creates this weird line in the sand that I can be on either side in a split second. When I am manic, someone can go from being my favorite person who I promise to always love and protect, to being someone I verbally destroy and make feel worthless. and then destroy everything around me.

One of the first things I started discussing about this behavior with my therapist is emotional boundaries with people. It's something I lacked and had no intention of educating myself on, and it's something that has changed how I treat those around me. Abusive language is something that is extremely expressive and those words I used felt like the only way of getting across how I was truly feeling. In reality, it creates a situation where the other party cannot express themselves and begins to withdraw and doubt their self worth out of fear of being abused.


It is unacceptable to talk to people like that, and once it's done there is no taking it back, and there is no fix for it. Crossing boundaries is a dangerous road to go down, because just like my mother did to me, I became that very same way. before starting medication and treatment, BPD/BP caused me to disassociate and say and do whatever I wanted when I was manic. I had no remorse for the things I would say.


Even though I am medicated and in treatment, I still struggle with that anger. There are days where I get upset at people and become manic and those words flood my brain but there is a filter to my mouth now. I still hear my mother calling my girlfriend a whore and fat in my head when I'm angry, and I still see the ceiling of my room I would stare at for days at a time locked down in that basement where I slept. Even typing it, it makes me feel frustrated. But that is part of my mental illness, these things do not just go away. Years of projection and anger don't suddenly change over the course of over a year and a half of consistent treatment. But being able to recognize them and control them is something I have learned to do.

I feel disgusting writing this blog, and ashamed of my past. I think sometimes if I didn't have that flip of a switch like my mother, then I would have turned out to be a much better, more accomplished individual. But to wallow in that is selfish. I was abused growing up by an unregulated woman with mental illness, and I became an abuser with unregulated mental illness growing up.

I have been fortunate to have a partner who has stuck by me and helped me understand these boundaries. Emily has experienced those insults firsthand when I was at my worst, and they made the choice to stick by me and help me start treatment because they saw good in me. Having a support system with mental illness is something that I never had growing up, and my wife held me accountable for my toxicity. They established boundaries that I was not allowed to cross, and when they were crossed, they advocated for themselves and took action to help me correct my behaviors. They are an incredible person, who I love and support and respect. and I am honored that I can be there cheerleader as they accomplish great things. They have shown me love and perspective and the life we have together is a blessing. Without them, I wouldn't be here. They found me when I was overdosing and the helped the police take me to the hospital instead of jail. They sat by me when I was in the hospital, and they visited me on every single day they were allowed to when I was in rehabilitation.

When I was in rehab, we were allowed to have an hour of visitation 3 days a week, and we had to sit with a guard because of safety protocols. Every time Emily visited, they brought me a book on healing, on recovery, an autobiography of someone who had struggled at their worst but made it through to the other side. On the walk back, the guard would always say how lucky I was to have someone that loved me that much, and that was right as I was being diagnosed with BPD and starting my medication and therapy. They loved me that much at my worst, and modeled what it was like to give someone true acceptance despite their flaws. I owe them my life.


But that still leaves the question, and this is one I struggle with a lot still. How do I make up for my past? Those words I said, those emotions I projected, those people I hurt, how do I make it better? How do I take that pain I caused them and help it heal? And the answer is that I don't think I can. That's what I struggle the most with. I sometimes visualize the verbal abuse I have caused people as a cloud within their heart. So, if I could see their heart I could see all the darkness my words have left, and I wish I could reach in and take it out and tell them how truly sorry I am. Those people will always think about those words I said, just as I think about the ones my mother and father said to me, and that makes me just as much of an abuser as they were.

In therapy we discuss how the past is the past and we all have things we wish we could change, but are unable to, and it's hard for me to accept that. I want to be a good person, and if I could go back in time and take those words back, or have a sit down with myself, I would have a conversation about the lasting impact that projection causes and how even though I was unmedicated or diagnosed, I needed to be better. I should have known better, and I shouldn't have been the person I was. I have therapy tomorrow, and I will ask about the questions I have still.

I am sorry if this post has been an unpleasant read, but my past and mental illness is a scary thing, and I think presenting it in an honest, raw way is the only way to convey the true emotions someone with BPD/BP feels. I still struggle with my mania daily, and I have gotten better at it, but there are days where I am happy and up, and at the flip of a switch, I am using that sinister tone my mother would to me. I remember the way her eyes would squint and the force her words had. And I am the same way when manic. My words are quick, vile, angry. I am afraid I will end up like her, and I was on a path to becoming her, but I refuse to be that person. My hope for my past is that people are able to see that I struggled mentally in the worst possible ways, but that it is possible to come back from our worst.


That tapestry of obscenity I wove throughout my life hangs above my head still, but I have made the choice to stop adding to it. I made that choice since I was sent to rehab over a year and a half ago, and I will continue to receive treatment and be the person I should have been. I won't hurt people like that ever again.


Being Bipolar and having Borderline Personality Disorder is ugly. It's hard to talk about and seem like a normal person, and the toxicity that comes from it is shocking to a lot of people. There is a stigma around BP/BPD that the individuals with it are beyond help and dangerous. The struggles that come from them are harmful, but it is possible to live a healthy life with the challenges it presents.

I want to be someone who is upfront about their struggles and show that growth is possible. Mental illness that causes external trauma is hard to forgive sometimes, I still struggle with my mother's abuse, but I love her and forgive her. She is a good person, she just became lost in her own anger and trauma, and wasn't medicated. I think the cycle of breaking that stigma and abuse is forgiveness, and I forgive you, mom, if you read this. I love you. No matter what you said or did, I think you are a good woman who has love in your heart, and I wish I could see all the darkness in your heart and go in and take it out.

Nick


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I ordered a violin for my new album, I think it'll give a new sound that will help the thematic material of the release shine. I'll upload some photos when it arrives.



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