Transcript #30 Bipolar Barbie: Mental Illness, Social Media and Your Authentic Self
In this episode I chatted with Bipolar Barbie - a mental health advocate and social media influencer from Australia, who blogs and vlogs about her experiences living with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
I first got to know Bipolar Barbie through her presence on Instagram, and she uses her visibility on social media to share her story to help and inspire thousands of people around the world.
I learned a lot from this lovely conversation and Bipolar Barbie even gives us a little taste of some of her spoken word at the end of the conversation.
Marcus: One day I'd like to take Ministry of Change to Australia. I feel like I can't really go anywhere without having conversations about mental health and what it means to be human, and how to navigate all the crap that life throws at us, so it's nice to be able to incorporate that into a different country. It's a good excuse to go on holiday and to do what I like.
BB: What is it like over there? I feel like if you came here, and particularly if you had a van or something done up with what you are about on it, I feel like you would quite easily start conversations about [mental health] and you would have a lot of content.
I know I can just randomly strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop, or with a random hitchhiker that I pick up, or someone I meet at the beach. Is that similar in the UK or do you think that it is very different there?
Marcus: I think it is similar. I think there is a misconception that people don't want to talk about it. I think what I've found is more that people don't know where to talk about it, or how to talk about it. People often ask how I find people to come and talk on recorded conversations about mental health. Where do you search out this small group of people willing to talk about it? I don't do any searching really. They are there.
One of the reasons that I started doing this is because that I didn't really know that you could talk about it, or have a space to talk about it for years and I could see how damaging that was so I created a space.
There are people who aren't ready to talk about it, but there are so many that are. So those people that are ready to talk about it, then I want to talk to them. And if those conversations can help other people get to a point where they also realise that it is not a shameful thing to talk about, but actually that it is empowering, to myself and to others, then that's great.
I think it's similar here. If you start the conversations the conversations happen. But a lot of people don't realise that those conversations can happen or are allowed to happen, or that there are other people willing to have those conversations too.
Marcus: How did you first start Bipolar Barbie? I mean the actual online presence?
BB: It was about 2.5 years ago now and it had a bit of a funny start to it. I was really manic at the time. I was living in this derelict house. Me and a friend were squatting in her mum's half renovated house, without a floor or anything. We were so broke and I was just painting all the time. She kept saying to me, 'Why don't you like social media? Why don't you just go on social media and be one of those famous social media people? You can just dance around in your underpants and people will just pay you to be hot online.'
I was manic so I was like, 'Hell yeah, I could be instafamous!' I went along with it until I got hospitalised and then I was like, 'Holy shit! What have I done? I’m no longer full of this self confidence and self esteem'. Now I was just back to this self loathing me feeling super embarrassed and not manic or provocative and everything you are when you are in a euphoric state on another planet. I still had a bunch of photos that I took, so I kept it up for a little bit, and it just got so exhausting to sort of live this lie. That wasn't me, and that type of person isn't me either, posting revealing pictures. After a while, I started to filter through with how I was really feeling and people started following me and saying things like, 'We follow you because of the things that you say and not because of how you look', and they really encouraged me to dig deeper into that writing side. I'd never written about anything. I was told that I was shit at writing so I'd never followed it.
With the encouragement of the people who were engaging with my content I just threw that whole idea out, I redid my page and just started blogging everyday about how I was really feeling. I think that the more support I received from that online community the braver I became in what I shared. I got to the point where I was like, 'You know what, I don't really hold anything back now. I'm like an open book and I just share whatever is going on'.
I think people in my own life didn't want to hear about or talk about it. My doctors, and psychologist in particular said, 'Do you think that in a way because no one in your life wanted to hear about it, you kind of made a point of making the whole world listen to you?'.
So it kind of started in a really weird way, but it blossomed into something that I am really proud of. I've been able to connect with so many people.
Marcus: How do you balance doing it? It's something that I question quite a lot because of what I do, how do you deal with portraying yourself very vulnerably on social media, but then deal with the pressures of social media? I find that I go through phases of being very active on social media and then just feel like I need to stay away from it. Is that something that you find?
BB: Oh, definitely. It's something that I struggle with a lot and it's something I've really been working on. Particularly at the moment I'm in a point where I've had all of these little projects, like my books that are in an editing phase, that I've put on the back burner to work on the social media, because that is kind of an instant thing, where everything else is a long term project. It is really hard to do all of it. I've got so many channels, FB, Twitter, instagram, youtube channels, website - It's so hard, but I think it really depends what mood I'm in and being mindful of that mood. Sometimes I'm doing a lot on social media and it might not necessarily be a good thing because you can kind of get sucked into that vortex where you stop living in the real world, and stop taking care of yourself because all you can think about it what other people think of you. Sometimes I go down the rabbit hole of being really... jealous is the wrong word... I start hating myself because of how other girls are portrayed on instagram, for example, and then I feel really bad when I see celebrities and I get body image and general self worth issues. I have to be very mindful of that type of content and I try to have a no scrolling rule, which takes a hell of a lot of self discipline, but I really try and not get into that. I go on there, check my content and then I'm escaping. I try not to use social media beyond the work that I'm doing, which I think can halve the amount of time you end up spending on it. Also when I'm going through really busy periods...let's talk quietly because social media doesn't like this...sometimes I'll automate some premade posts, if I know I'm going to be overwhelmed.
I'm at the point now that I have so many followers, that I really want to be replying to everyone's comments. I get hundreds of comments and direct messages a day just on my Instagram alone, and it's so hard to keep up. It's kind of funny when people expect you to have your attention. Some people abuse me and are like, 'Oh you didn't get back to my message', or, 'you didn't reply to my comment', and I'm like... Dude, seriously. Or it's like, 'You're not following me'... I've got over 80K followers and you can only follow 7000 at a time anyway.
Marcus: I guess with what you're doing, you are connecting with lots of people that are also vulnerable and also have their own stuff to work out and I guess there is a line between where your responsibilities lie. Where does it go over into the point that, 'Okay I need to focus on my own self care and you need to focus on yours'. I guess that line can get blurred quite easily. I guess people have a very intimate connection with you because they see you a lot. That is a complicated system to work with.
BB: Yes. It's hard because they know me, but I'm like, I really don't know you. It is still kind of strange. I think it is hard when you go through a similar story to people. I have a few different mental illnesses, so I feel like everyone can relate to me in some way, but I might not be able to relate to them completely in the same way.
I only have one best friend in my life right now that I see regularly, and there are a couple of other people that I used to be close with but have moved away, that if they lived around here I would probably see them regularly, but I'm really selective about the people that I let into my life because of a lot of trauma and stuff that I have been through before. For me there is putting myself out there publically, and then there is personally. It's like, 'This is who I am, I don't mind sharing my story, but you are not allowed to get close to me'.
Marcus: Can you share a bit of that story?
BB: Yes, definitely. I like to call it a creative take on living with mental illness. I just kind of talk a lot about where I've been. Especially as I'm feeling quite alright at the moment, and the things that I have been through in the past. It's been a rough 5-7 years of basically being in and out of the psych ward, in and out of doctors offices and therapy. Medication changes. Drug and alcohol addiction. And diagnosis changes as well. At the moment they are sticking with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder. These are the 4 that they have zoned in on for a while now.
That is apparently what I have but I don't really care about the labels so much. To me a label is just a ticket to treatment. It's like, if you need to call it bipolar disorder so i can get the antipsychotics that I need... I don't really care if you give me antipsychotics or not, but if that is going to keep me sane so that I'm not hallucinating and hurting myself or someone else, then great. I just want to live a happy life.
I just kind of post about the daily struggles that go with that. You've been following my page for a little bit. What do you think about the content that I share?
Marcus: I think there is a level of vulnerability that I don't see very often, even the people in the sort of 'mental health sphere' of blogging and vlogging - your ones seem very intimate and you are very open to inviting people into the real shit bits, but also the journey. The thing I like is that it is really about the journey. I see you working things out and talking about things. It's not prescriptive, like, This is the answer. You are more like, My life is an experiment of trying to work out what works and what doesn't, what works now, what used to work and now isn't working. I think I like that.
BB: Because that's what the journey is. I don't talk about the stigma so much around mental illness. I mean, I talk about how people treat me and stuff like that, but I think a lot of mental health accounts you see are like, 'Don't stigmatise mental illness' ... We need to talk about mental illness. But I don't want people to remember the word stigma. I don't want people to only learn that there is a stigma. Ever poster I see is like, 'Don't stigmatise mental health, talk about it'. Yeah, but how do we talk about it? What are we talking about? I like to go from the point of view of let's not even acknowledge that there is a stigma. Let's just pretend that it is okay to talk about it and let me just talk about it in the way that I think it should be talked about. The way that I experience it. Then I hope that by default people won't stigmatise it because then they can understand it. Whether you are going through similar struggles and you can relate and feel less alone... you don't have to go through it alone like I did, or feel like you are the only one on the planet going through it. I just want people to know what it is like everyday, because people pretend they know what it is like for me. They are like, Oh, I've heard of Bipolar Disorder, and they might be able to tell me some of the symptoms, but would you know what it is like to not be able to get out of bed? Do you know what it is like to be in debt because you can't pay your phone bill? Just like the little everyday things that fall apart and create this huge puzzle that is really hard to put back together. It is way more complicated than anyone could ever imagine. There is no way that I would have believed someone telling my story before it all happened to me.
Marcus: I guess that is hard as well. You are the only one that can experience your life and knows about your life, and this is something I feel as well. I can't really tell people how they are feeling and how they are experiencing their life. So I guess, if you can be open and authentic about what is happening with you then it doesn't really matter if people are experiencing something similar to you or not. Or if they are experiencing something completely different but still struggling, they can still go into your work and take inspiration from the idea that, however crap things might seem I can go through it. I can navigate it. That is something I get from your work. I mean, I don't have Bipolar, or any of the things that you have, those labels, but I feel there is a lot of it that connects very closely to experiences that I have had through my journey. It connects, if not directly, it captures the human struggle.
BB: Yes. I think this human struggle bit is universal. I struggle financially because I am unable to work. Whether you are unable to work because of a physical disability, a mental disability, or you just don't have a job, the financial struggle will be similar for a lot of people. Or just the struggle of getting through everyday life. We all have issues with at least someone in our life. I think in a way I just explore the emotions that we have. I think we are all pretty emotionally retarded. We don't really get taught how to communicate our emotions and our emotional needs. I think that plays a huge part in our own human experience. On thing that I have not expected to gain from this journey but i have is an understanding of myself and an understanding of people. From a psychological point of view which I wish people understood.
I've just recently had to move home with my parents, which sucks, because we have always had a shitty relationship, but I'm here and it's given me the opportunity to actually get better and not have to work a shitty dead end job to make ends meet in this never ending mental cycle of fucking myself mentally. That has been very eye opening in itself as well. There is a lot of things that I can observe now from a third party point of view. I can see that everything that happened when I was growing up is completely due to their own issues. I really promote people to be a scientist and be their own test subject. Because everyone is different. It's just a matter of studying yourself and getting as much knowledge as you can. I always want to be the best version of myself, and I'm happy to be corrected. I'm happy for a doctor to say, Maybe it isn't that, have you thought about this? Sometimes you are like, Okay, wow, that does make sense too. You only know what you know until you know something else.
Marcus: I think that is part of it as well. I really understand the financial struggle as well. This year I have spent quite a lot of time with my parents, because I don't live anywhere. I just travel around, because I realised that to do what I'm doing and go around collecting stories off people, it's not a lucrative business. But I couldn't carry on doing what I was doing before. I needed to start doing this journey, and I realised I couldn't do this and afford to pay rent. I don't work full time. When I do I find it doesn't work well for my personality. When I do I get stressed, anxious and depressed. I needed to realign and find something that enabled me to do what I need to do. But that has meant that after years of being independent, I've suddenly had to rely quite a lot of time in my parents house, and that brings up a lot of the shit that I've spent the last 10 years avoiding. But it certainly meant that I had to do a lot of inner work myself, and realise that actually a lot of the family shit, it's not related to me, it's other people's shit. And I think that is true of the wider world too. I've spent so much time worried about what other people thought about me, and then suddenly realising that even if other people are thinking about me, which they are quite possibly not, whatever they are thinking about me is a projection of their own shit, so it doesn't really matter. This idea of comparison is a myth. There is nobody that is at exactly the same point in their life, from exactly the same starting point, exactly the same age, from exactly the same background. That concept doesn't exist. Even if I look at my brother and sister, who had exactly the same family situation, they are completely different people to who I am. I think it is a delusion that you can compare yourself to anything, or that others can compare you to anything. That is quite a freeing realisation.
BB: Oh definitely. With my sister it was exactly the same and we are only 12 months apart. She had a completely different upbringing. I'm the oldest and I sort of stood up for myself. That is my personality. Like, No, you are not going to abuse me like that, you can't. I know that is wrong. Whereas she was more like I'll just be invisible. I think I'm just a person that can't be invisible. No matter how hard I try I always seem to be front and centre.
Growing up I was really good at school and sport. I was that obnoxious overachiever, that just happens to be good at everything, that everyone wants to be friends with, but they secretly hate, because they are thinking, How can she do it so easily? That was me. But when I left highschool and was at Law School, I got really mentally fucked up. I ended up dropping out of Law School. I think a lot of that was the expectation. I was always going to be great. I was always told that I was going to be great. I think I just became so fearful of my own shadow. I was that kid that knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was going to be a Volcanologist. Then I was going to be a vet. Then I was going to be a lawyer. I took great pride in telling people what I was going to do with my life. When I dropped out of Law School I just didn't know what to do with myself. And I hated that question that people would always ask, What are you doing with your life? I'd be like, Oh, I just got out of hospital. I tried to kill myself. You know... I'm surviving. That's what I'm doing in life.
I think after a while, I got so sick of that question that I'd just say, Oh, not much. And they would be like, No, but what do you want to be? I'm like, I want to be the most important thing that anyone can be and that is me. I don't know who that is yet, but I'm figuring that out and that is okay.
We shouldn't have to be anyone else but ourselves.
Marcus: That is a very difficult thing to vocalise, because I think other people... well this might be a generalisation... but I think people often just want a nice soundbite. I think that is something my parent struggle with. What does Marcus do? I guess they just want to say, doctor, lawyer... I don't know, whatever. But I've unfortunately presented them with this conundrum because they never know what I do. I sort of just make up shit and try and essentially work out whatever creative ways I can find to be an authentic version of myself. That can be hard.
BB: You know what is a good one? A lady I met recently who had a lot of the same interests as me, she introduced herself as a 'storyteller'.
Marcus: That's what I have written on my card, which I always forget to give to people, 'Podcaster and Storyteller'. I came to that conclusion because I realised most of what I do is either telling my story or telling other people's story. So yes, that is a nice one. I think we are all storytellers.
BB: Yes, I think that some of us are just born with that capacity. I think storytelling is almost like a dying art form. I think that is for a number of reasons. We don't pass down knowledge as much. I think we went into this really rigid education system where we stopped learning through story. It became more, you only learn what we want you to know, and anything that is outside that curriculum is frowned upon.
I think the difference between storytelling and educating is that storytelling is not forcing something on you. I'm just telling a story and you can take what you want from it. We are smart human beings and half of our problem is that we are not taught how to think for ourselves. We are not taught how to study the world around us, we are just told what to study. I think that process really screws all of us up when we get to adulthood because we don't actually know how to do anything for ourselves, or know how to figure out how to do anything for ourselves. Anyone that doesn't fit into that structure that our school system creates, there are people like you and me, that just kind of get lost and try and forge our own paths. We are kind of like, We are not like you guys. I don't know what we are but we are trying to figure that out.
Marcus: I think that as well. I think throwing facts and figures at people just doesn't do anything. I think that is proven through research as well, not just anecdotally. They just don't stick. I think when you tell stories, you can dig deep down into the human emotions and the stories and the interconnectedness of things, and as you say it requires people to do the work themselves. I think fact and figures can be eye opening, but they rarely call people to action.
BB: It's hard to quantify. Earlier this year, Instagram deleted my Instagram account for some reason. All my social media got hacked, which is a social media influencers worst nightmare. My Facebook got deleted and Instagram and Youtube. I was trying to get it all back frantically.
I had about 75K Instagram followers at the time. I remember when I woke up and they were gone. I was like, Holy Shit!, they had just disappeared. But I remember looking up the statistics for the number of people that commit suicide. 75K people commit suicide each month. That amount of people that I had brought into this little community, they vanished over night because Instagram lost my connection with them. That same amount of people could be dead right now. That for me visually quantified exactly how many people we are in fact losing to this fight.
Marcus: I think those sort of figures are powerful, but I think if you think about 75K people, then it is quite easy to go and get on with your day for some reason. But if you think about that 1 person, that is just one of those 75,000 and hear their story, it suddenly makes it harder to just get on with the day. You suddenly have this connection beyond the number to the person behind that number. But I do think that statistics and figures play a part, but I like to grasp down to find out who are the people behind those numbers really.
BB: The town that I live in in Australia has the highest youth suicide rate out of anywhere in Australia, so I've had at least one friend a year. There were three in the last year and a half that took their own life. People that I was quite close to. Everyone here knows everyone. It definitely has impact when you know someone and you can relate to them. I think sharing those individual stories when you can put a name and a description, people can picture it. There are so many different causes out there and they all have statistics.
I think people get lost in this sea of awareness. Everyone is raising awareness for something, whatever niche that they are passionate about. I think a lot of the time those statistics can kind of confuse it. Why do we want to know about the 1 in 100 people that do this, when 1 in 2 people have this? I think people get overwhelmed and sort of freak out sometimes.
I know when you read those little FB stories, even about the randomest stuff, you feel a real connection to that story because you can read it as if you were it.
Marcus: I guess people do get overwhelmed by figures and then it can be crippling. I know that I need to talk about male suicide, but I also need to talk about plastic in the oceans, and I need to talk about breast cancer, and I need to talk about this, and this, and this. There are so many things to sort out, which I guess are actually all interconnected, but it can be this overwhelming barrage of how fucked up everything is. Actually I'd rather just watch Netflix. So that is that challenge as well, to not overwhelm people, and also not to guilt people into thinking this is the one thing that you need to care about more than anything else, but also providing an entrance into that conversation as well at the same time. How to balance that is a question that I hold all the time, and I haven't answered. And maybe never will!
BB: I think one thing that I find awesome about mental health is that people are always like how do you help someone one with mental illness. I'm like, it's really simple. You just shut up and listen. It doesn't cost money. You don't have to make a donation for mental illness. Just a simple conversation or a simple smile. Basic human decency. The amount of times I've been walking, when I lived in the city, walking my dog down the street and I'd literally be contemplating throwing myself in front of the next tram or train. I was just so depressed and all these people are just rushing past and nobody even notices you, and then one person might just smile at you and you are kind of just like, Oh, you know what. I'm not going to kill myself today. Just something like that, you never know when a little smile or a simple hello or asking someone if they are okay can seriously save a life. I think any conversation about mental health, whether it be small or big can really save someone's life. I think leading by example in that is a big thing. When people ask me how I'm doing I don't push the whole mental health thing on them but I'll usually say something like, Oh you know, I'm pretty good. I was a bit anxious this morning but feeling a lot better now or just something really casual. Something that they can skip over if they want, but a lot of the time it is that key that unlocks the door. Like, Oh, wow. She said a mental health term. And that invites them in if they want to discuss something.
When I started this journey, I didn't know anyone that was mentally ill. I mean, I didn't know anyone that was recognised as being mentally ill. So I had no idea what to do or where to go. And that was quite a few years ago before this whole really big mental health movement started, maybe in the last 4 years or something.
Marcus: Why do you think it is so hard for people to listen to that sort of stuff, or why do you think people don't know about listening? It seems like a stupid question, but I do think listening isn't something we are really taught how to do.
BB: Definitely. I don't know if it is necessarily about being taught listening. Maybe it is, but I think everybody wants to be heard, but not many people want to listen. Most of the time if someone is listening they are just thinking about what they are going to answer. So they are not actually being clear and absorbing everything that is coming into them. I don't know whether or not you can teach that? I don't know how you could change that. But I think part of the whole mental health thing is that, yeah, people don't know how to talk about it, but people also kind of think that it is contagious. It's like one of those things that happens to those people. The idea of waking up one morning, like I did, and just losing your sanity is just so terrifying, that if that could happen to anybody, imagine what a widespread panic that would create. To justify it that that person is defective in someway or that they have done something for their life to turn out like that... because I think that we still believe that if we do good and that we do the right thing then not many bad things will happen to us in our life. So to just know there is something out there, such a severe illness, that everybody claims to have that are going through really tough times, by acknowledging it, it is acknowledging that it could happen to them at no fault of their own. That is a really scary thought for people to have.
Marcus: Yes, that is scary. In a way people think that just by ignoring it then it won't happen to them. It's one of those things that I guess often people only get interested in the subject when it does happen to them. I mean, I feel from my personal experience I guess that was true. If I look back on my life, depression is something that has been a key feature of it for many years, but I didn't have the vocabulary to understand what it was, but also I didn't want to be a broken, fucked up person. So I believed that if I went out drinking, and doing recreational drugs and partying, and just making all my mental focus on believing that everything was fine then everything would be fine. And do you know what? Strangely, that didn't work.
I know now that it is a ridiculous way of looking at it. I just think that if at the time I had been more aware of a conversation around this sort of stuff. That it wasn't just that I was the only person in the world that was fucked up, and I was the only person in the world that wasn't good enough, etc etc, and actually I could have realised that these are actually quite common feelings that a lot of people around me are experiencing, but that everyone is so scared of mentioning it, because that might make it come true. That we all think that everyone else is having this super amazing time. I spent years thinking, that I had missed the memo on how to do this. That somewhere there must have been a time when I was younger - that someone was meant to sit me down and tell me This is how it works. I looked around me and saw that everybody else has their head screwed on. They know exactly how life works, and I'm just fucking paddling for my dear life under the water, just thinking, I need to hold this together. I probably did that for about 10 years before I stopped being able to hold it together. Now I live in a van and drive around and record conversations, but actually...
BB: Ha. You are like the stereotype of that mental breakdown that people fear that their children will have. You know like, They had everything and they threw it all away, and now they are in a van and traveling around and making podcasts.
Marcus: Yes, that is basically my projection of what my Mum's head sounds like.
I mean, actually, before I started this project, I already had the idea to do, I wrote this long blog post about why I wanted to do it and what are the fears that are stopping me from doing it? And why am I going to do anyway. One of them was that I will be a just a weird, beardy man living in a van, driving around talking about crazy shit with people. Now, if I look in my life, I'm aware that I am a beardy man living in a van talking to people about crazy things. But actually, that was one of my biggest fears, it came true and it's fine. It's good. I like it. I'm much more content with what I'm doing now. I don't know what that means. But it's a but it's interesting.
BB: That feeling you were describing before, I like to call that phase 'Drowning in the seas of mental illness'. That's like when you just get dropped out that helicopter into the ocean and it's like, What the fuck just happened to me? Where am I? I'm just floating around and I'm not in Kansas anymore. I don't even have those red shoes to tap together and find my way home like Dorothy. I remember about 5 years into my journey, after being in a psych ward for 2 months, my psychologist said to me that I needed to stop think about what I'd lost, and I needed to start focusing on what I had gained. I had everything that I wanted. I had my 5 year plan. I graduated top of my class. I had a full scholarship to Law School. I was working and I was earning good money. So I had everything that people 'should' have. Everything that society wants you to pursue in your life. But mental illness really took that all away from me and I hated myself for that. I was like, Why can't I just get my life together? Why can't I be like everyone else? Why can't I be like the old me? I used to be able to do it and now suddenly I can't.
Probably 4 years after that when I was sitting in the psych ward, she tells me to think about what I have gained. So I thought about it that night and I still couldn't think of anything that I had gained, until I looked back on my childhood and thought, what did little me want? What did she want to be when she grew up? And I remember I wanted to be a fashion designer. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to be a motivational speaker. I wanted to be an artist and draw and paint. And I wanted to change the world.
When I thought about it there was an epiphany. Because of my mental illness, and because of all of this shit that has gone on, my writing is better than ever, I writing a book. My paintings and drawings are better than ever. I'm giving speeches. I've created my own unique style from that experience that I have gone through. People tell me that I am changing the world with the work that I'm doing on social media. So it was that moment of realising that I actually have everything that I ever wanted in life. Maybe this journey didn't take me off my path, maybe it put me back on the path that I should have been on in the beginning.
Marcus: That's interesting. So however difficult, painful or whatever the actual experience of the mental illness, you can actually look at that and see that it actually stopped me from living a life that I thought I should be living, to living to life that I need to be living. So although it's something I'm sure that you wouldn't wish on anyone, actually there is so much strength that comes out of that that allows you to be the person that you need to be rather than the person you thought you should be.
BB: Definitely. I don't know whether you believe in destiny. I'm writing this book called, The Story of the Borderline Princess. It's the story of this princess kicked out of the castle like I was when I was 14. I got into shitty relationships with 'princes' and that sort of thing. Eventually I find my way to becoming the queen that I was born to be. There is a chapter in there called the Prophecy. It's really funny, if you look at fairytales, like Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, it is always the father, for example, that causes the prophecy to come true. Whatever actions he takes to stop the prophecy coming to pass is literally what causes the prophecy to occur. In Sleeping Beauty he got rid of all the spindles in the land, so that when she saw her first and only spindle she touched it because she didn't know what it was, therefore the prophecy came to pass.
Whether or not if you believe in life as destiny, I know everything I went through in childhood shaped me in very predictable ways. So is there kind of a destiny for us based on our upbringing and based on the things that have happened to us in life? If something happens to you it will change you in a certain way. If we add them all together, can we almost predict what path a person is going to take?
Marcus: I believe that. If I look back to an older version of myself I would have said that that was nonsense. But this version of myself, I find it harder and harder to disbelieve things like destiny. I was filling out an application for something recently, and one of the questions was to talk about a time when you have failed. I was thinking, I don't think I believe in the concept of failure at all anymore. If I try and look back at something that I would say is a 'failure', it has always led to the next thing and the next thing. In that light, it can't be a failure.
I've noticed with everyone I speak to there seems to be this theme underneath about the path that they will end up taking. It doesn't seem to be a matter of 'if' you will take it, but more when will you stop and listen. I think quite often with someone who has experienced some sort of mental illness or some sort of tumultuous part of their life I feel that is usually the thing that has jolted people to do that listening. I rarely speak to anyone that has gone through something difficult, that despite how shit it was, I wouldn't take that part out of my life.
I think that is true for me. If I look back over my life and think about some of the key moments, it's rarely the exceedingly hyper excited moments. It's usually the bits which have been more difficult which have led to the opening up of the proper questions that I want to be asking. I think that is true of a lot of people.
BB: You don't fix something until it is broken. You don't look into yourself when you are happy and everything is going well. Why would you want to look into yourself and ask those big questions? You only have that existential crisis when you are not content in what you are currently doing. I think that is why. Something is broken. It's not working, so you want to figure out what it is. I think in that process you go through a lot of things.
I think that is what really annoys me about when people say, Oh, you believe into the pharmaceutical conspiracy. You believe every word those quacks say to you. Just because I take medication and I see a psychiatrist and a therapist. I'm like no. I've seen a lot of different people and theories, and I embrace a lot of them. It's just that is one thing that works for me so I've decided to stick with that, because it is continuing to work for me, but I also go through a lot of other processes. I do Qigong meditation. I've done some holistic locomotion clearing processes. Everything has helped in its own way. It does kind of annoy me when people put me in that category, because I'm like, something was broken and I did everything humanly possible to figure out what it was. I didn't know what it was at first. It took me a really long time to figure that out. I think in that process is where you go through that self discovery.
For a long time I had a list of things that were line, Hell no, Hell no. There were a couple of things that worked on that list for a long time, and a huge list of things that didn't work at all.
Marcus: So in that exploration what did you find that was broken?
BB: A lot. There were some biological things, like with bipolar there is definitely something with that bipolar brain. Like with a diabetic. It's always over or under-compensating. The premenstrual thing as well. But a lot of it was going back to my childhood. A lot of the depression, low self worth and anxiety really stems back to that upbringing. For me, yes, it was physically abusive, especially from my mother, but not in the way that most people would see because I didn't have big bruises and stuff. My mum is pretty little. She beat us all the time but it was never broken bones and stuff. But the abuse that I suffered was more like an emotional and psychological abuse, people don't recognise that as significant. I didn't think that it was abuse until my doctor started pointing it out, but that was something that I really realised during that self discovery that there is a reason that I am the way that I am. My inner dialogue is so hateful and self loathing because that is what the household dialogue was towards me and around me. There was always this atmosphere of tension and trauma and negativity. There were so many things there, whether it was just the way that they validated results instead of effort, the way they always negatively interacted, there was never a good job you cleaned your room, it was always about fucking time you did something about that mess. It's those little snippets of negativity that will always eat away at you. I notice it now that I'm living back here that they will just stand in my room and just watch me. Every time I turn around they are here or there. I just constantly live in this state of anxious tension because I feel like I'm being judged. Because they either don't say anything or they will say something negative. So it's like you are constantly living in this state of self criticism and fear or external criticism, and you just don't have this stable sense of self. You are always wondering Am I a good person? Am I good enough? You never actually feel like you will achieve it because for me perfection was expected, but it was completely unattainable. That was the short version.
Marcus: Do you think that the inner work you have done helps the situation now you are living back with your parents?
BB: I think it certainly helps me. I don't think it is ever going to change, but I do think I'm a lot less reactive. It still affects me, but I'm working on it not affecting me as much. My finger was always looming over that self destruct button, every time I got triggered. So I don't do that as often anymore. I definitely notice that I have more of this bird's eye view. I've been able to detach myself from it a little bit, but it has taken a hell of a long time, a lot of therapy and a lot of understanding to be able to get to that point.
I think my fans and my social media have really helped me get to that. How can you feel so worthless when there are so many people that value what you have to say. It took a really long time for me to get there. There opinion of me should mean a lot more to me than it does, but I think when the most important people in your life can't see your worth, even if there are 100,000 other people that do, it still doesn't count as much as those two people who should love you unconditionally and think that you are the best no matter what.
Marcus: If you didn't have that social media following how much do you think that would change the situation and how you would feel about yourself?
BB: I mean, I think if I lost them now, it wouldn't be a big deal. I think they have played a hugely vital role in my personal development and the evolution of me becoming a better person and the best version of myself. I think taking them out of my journey completely, I would be a completely different person. I'd probably be the same person, but I don't think I'd have evolved so much over the past couple of years. But if the disappeared today, I don't think it would be such a big deal. I think it would be hard if that prevented me from getting my books out there and doing the things that I want to do with my life. Like if nobody wanted to know me anymore. It would be the same as you, if not one person wanted to interview anymore, you'd just be like I've devoted my life to this cause and now it just isn't a thing. You'd be super lost.
Thanks for reading! Each transcript takes me over a million years to type out, so if you found reading this useful then please do consider supporting my work by visiting my lovely Patreon page. Merci, Marcus