Boredom and BPD – or: Borderline brain doesn’t agree with ‘normal’

I’m having a good day today. No misunderstandings. No hurt feelings. No arguments. Everything has been smooth sailing so far. Great, eh?

Guess so. After all, it’s what I strive for. Feeling normal. Not intensely good. Not incredibly low. Just normal. Perfect, right?!

NO! At least not really.

While I’m glad I’m not having an emotional rollercoaster ride today, I’m totally and utterly bored. In bold capital letters. B-O-R-E-D. It’s gnawing at me while I’m hanging around, not finding satisfaction in anything I do. It’s like being stuck in a deadening pit of unbearable nothingness.

Listening to music? – boring

Watching mom do housework? – boring

Helping with housework? – boring

Talking with mom? – boring

Playing the guitar? – yep, you guessed it: boring.

It feels like I’m about to drop dead from boredom or from gathering dust or something.

So I started bugging mom. “Do something with me! Something more fun than housework! No, playing a game is boring. Something else! No, I don’t want to go anywhere, I want to do something in the house. No, something else! Why aren’t you done with the stupid washing already?! How long can it take!? No, I don’t want to help so it goes faster. Geez, get ready, I’m so bored! Hey, look, I’m gonna eat laundry detergent!”

And seriously, I was this close to having some, only to make something happen, because of course mom wouldn’t just watch me eat laundry detergent. So while I wasn’t really planning on eating it, and wasn’t even feeling like I really wanted to, I would have only to make something exciting happen. Anything. Anything that doesn’t feel so unbearably boring.

So the wash waited as mom rolled her eyes, went for a playful wrestle for the detergent and while I was laughing (yay, finally something going on!) she declared if I wanted action, it would have to be something harmless, no absurd threat ploys with laundry detergent. We ended up playing ‘grab the thingy’ with a clothespin instead, which is a little rough and tumble game that consists of nothing more than trying not to let the other get their hands on the whatever it is and taking turns when the other was successful. It’s silly, but fun to play, and kind of intense when mom and I play, and it usually ends in laughter. So that was good. Not boring.

Thereafter mom addressed the boredom itself. I asked her why I can’t just enjoy a good day, and feel so awfully bored instead. She suggested it might be because my brain is not accustomed to average levels of excitement and feels like something is wrong if it is underwhelmed. After all my brain was exposed to very high levels of arousal for prolonged periods of time during my childhood. Threatening situations, stressful situations, painful situations and a need to be permanently alert. It has adjusted to those high levels of arousal, by releasing chemicals to match that intensity. It has not, however, learned how to produce dopamine (a joy and excitement chemical) in response to normal levels of excitement. So it doesn’t recognize normal things as good enough to trigger a response, because it’s still waiting for some high level of arousal happening. Hence boredom when there’s not.

But she also said the good thing about brains is that they can adapt to new situations. It’s a slow process, because one can’t just alter the natural brain chemistry over night, but she said it’s going to happen. So I’m hoping it will happen. If only patience was my more of a friend. At least interpersonal excitement, like getting intense attention through a little rough-and-tumble game, does trigger a happy brain response. I guess that’s something, after all this kind of excitement is usually available. As for the rest, time is probably my ally. Sigh. What do you guys do if you feel unbearably bored?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Apple
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 18:28:05

    This sounds like chronic emptiness to me, which is a symptom of BPD. Like, there is nothing to satisfy that pit of what, emptiness no matter what you do – and sometimes we turn to dangerous behaviours to fillthe void i suppose, like harming, b/p-ing etc. I dont know what I do ,I guess I don’t get to that level yet…quite often i’ll sit and do nothing, or read if i can, but when nothign satisfies me, i don’t know… sorry to not be of more use. xx

    • Lola
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 18:46:20

      Yeah, the boredom is kind of like the chronic emptiness feeling, but also independent in a way, because I can feel terribly empty inside even when there’s exciting stuff going on around me, and the boredom can also get me on days when I’m feeling okay with myself and not particularly empty. Or ‘normal’ then gets to feel kind of empty? I don’t know. The chronic emptiness feeling is more disturbing than only feeling bored, like the chronic emptiness feeling often causes me to self-harm, like you said, to feel I’m still there and to fill the emptiness with feeling something. The boredom only makes me look for ways to spice the day up, so to speak, to make something interesting happen outside of myself. Maybe that’s the difference between boredom and feelings of emptiness for me – boredom feels like LIFE is dreary and out to paralyze me with dullness, and feelings of emptiness feel like there’s nothing inside of ME, that it’s me who’s empty. Wow, that difference is actually interesting, so thanks for the thought inspiring comment, Apple! 🙂 (And sorry for the rambling.) Anyway, good luck with finding ways to deal with your feelings of emptiness and boredom!

  2. prideinmadness
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 18:55:10

    I’m bored often, especially right now but then at other times I find great joy in the smallest things and they’re preoccupy me for hours.

    I don’t have a solution to this problem except making sure you have a giant list of hobbies to go through so maybe by the time you reach the end of the list it’s time to go to bed :p

    • Lola
      Nov 05, 2012 @ 19:34:27

      Yeah, having a giant list of hobbies to go through is probably real helpful! I believe half of my trouble is that I have a hard time doing things by myself, unless I’m really fascinated by something and enthusiastic about it. Shame most stuff doesn’t usually capture my interest for even half as long. Maybe it’s time I get myself some new hobbies! 🙂

      • prideinmadness
        Nov 06, 2012 @ 02:04:57

        I understand what you’re saying. It wasn’t to long ago that if I wasn’t doing something with someone then I was hating myself.

        Blogging is a good hobby 🙂 That’s a start!

      • Lola
        Nov 06, 2012 @ 12:48:39

        You’re right, blogging is actually a good hobby to start with. 🙂

  3. readyplayer14
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 10:33:16

    If I’m bored, I like to study my thoughts. When I’m not interested in something, I simply have not got the energy to do it so sitting around with a notebook is fine for me. When I’m tense/panicked/other freakout, I write down everything I’m thinking and put it away in a drawer. Then, when I’m calm I can assess them, write what my logic brain thinks about them, and it fills up a while. But only when I know it’s not gonna set me off again. Even if no understanding comes from it, it’s killed some time 🙂

    I’ve been enjoying reading your blog (but never commented) and your mom sounds fantastic!

    • Lola
      Nov 06, 2012 @ 12:53:32

      Thanks for saying you enjoy reading my blog! I’m glad to hear, so thanks for commenting! 🙂

      Writing down your thoughts and everything when you’re stressed to examine later when you’re calmer sounds like a clever idea! Blogging is kind of similar, with me rambling to myself, and yes, it kills time. Sometimes I even end up with some insightful result! Maybe I should try writing down what I think about when I’m bored.

  4. Sparrow
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 08:08:02

    This post made so much sense to me. I find boredom unbearable, but I think for me it is all tangled up with the emptiness. I have been on high alert since I was a child too, and get very depressed when there is nothing to stimulate me. I wish I could help, but I’m going through it today. I feel bored, lonely, invisible, not a part of the world. I hate it. I always need to be interacting with someone. My blog helps a bit, but when no one looks at it, I get the feelings back 😦 Even though the point of the blog isn’t for others to read, it’s for me to sort my feelings, but feedback makes me feel like I exist.

    • Lola
      Nov 07, 2012 @ 08:37:50

      Having a brain that thinks anything that isn’t high alert is not enough to cause any level of stimulation at all can really suck. I’m sorry you’re going through it today. Yeah, and I know what you mean about the blog and nobody looking at it and needing feedback in order to feel like you still exist. Actually the needing feedback thing is such a vital thing for me, I think I’ll put it on the list of things I want to blog about. With blogging and feedback I’m really bad about the stats and how many hits my blog gets. Terrible. I wish I just didn’t care, but instead I’m repeatedly tempted to log out and click around on my own blog just to raise the number of visitors, that’s how pathetic I get. But I guess it’s just one more learning opportunity and I try to see and use it that way. Good luck to you for finding something that makes the boredom and emptiness a little better!

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