Black Flowers Blossom – Surfing the BPD breakers

Sunday was a bad day. From one comment in a morning conversation, a million hurts took flight. As time passed, instead of passing they grew to block out the sky, like sinister black crows in a Hitchcock film. A few hours later it felt like the whole world was having a joke at my expense. Black flowers blossomed in the hothouse of my mind, staining my brain with their blooms like cryptic Rorschach blots. Hello BPD my old friend.

Today my eyes are like pissholes in the snow (I’ve been waiting a long time to put that description somewhere, maybe things are looking up). I couldn’t sleep last night, I was still coming down. It takes a while for that kind of emotional cliff-edge to recede. I lay there and remembered how I tell people I’m making the most of S’s last year before she starts school and thought “Who the hell are you fooling?” I could be doing so much more.

So this morning, after dropping J & T at school, S and I headed over to Tim Hortons for a coffee and a box of Timbits then set out for the beach. I needed to heal and the lake is my linctus. It’s grey and gusty here today. Any leaves that still clung to branches last week are gone now. I don’t know about you but nothing makes me feel alive like the wind tugging at clothes and hair, whipping them this way and that in the same way men slap hysterical women in the movies to bring them back to their senses. See? Even the wind’s in on it.

Down by the water there were foamy breakers rolling in, their roar helped to drown out the murmurs in my mind. Away in the distance rays of sunlight tore through the clouds. That was why I came – to see Hope breaking through.

Together S and I pretended to catch fish, drew pictures in the sand then, seeing as we had a near empty carrier bag and time to spare, we wandered the length of the beach collecting rubbish. WIth chilled hands but warmed hearts we put it in the bin on our way back. Walking home I felt like I’d had a transfusion of my old self, I feel the BPD draining from my veins. I’m tired. I could sleep for a million years.



If you want to know more about Borderline Personality Disorder, here are a few other posts I’ve written:

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder – Getting a diagnosis

Battling BPD

BPD – How You Can Help

In My Head I’m Normal

How BPD Made Me A Better Expat

BPD LIKE A BOSS – Don’t let your diagnosis define you


Author’s note, June 2014: Since the time of writing I’ve been re-diagnosed with Aspergers and Bipolar II. I no longer meet the criteria for BPD and given the existing cases of Aspergers and bipolar in my direct family I have to admit this re-diagnosis seems a more accurate explanation for my symptoms. Oh, the beauty of hindsight… 


By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. Darling Aisha, my heart goes out to you. Your writing has managed to paint your pain and I feel it as if I was with you at the time. I know some of how it feels. Glad the wind, water and children helped. They always do for me… many hugs

    1. Ah Jenny, the cruel irony is even if you were nearer the only people I can face right now are my kids. But rest assured, the love and affection in your beautiful comment are healing from afar xxx

  2. So much heart and emotion went into this post; beautiful writing from someone who is worried about going to a dark place again. I hope that you have managed to find your coping mechanism for today; the beach sounded like a very good choice for you and your daughter. Sometimes the most simple things can be the most powerful.

    1. Funny, I was just thinking this afternoon, there’s nothing like the comedown after a BPD episode for making you appreciate the simple things in life – it’s like being given another chance.

  3. Beautiful photos and such evocative writing. I hope you’re able to sleep. Nothing like tiredness to drain body & mind of everything is there ?
    Thanks for sharing xxx

  4. You write so beautifully about something that is obviously a terrible thing to endure… I am sure your writing will help reassure others going through the same thing. I love your pictures, and I am glad you have the lake too…

  5. Those are beautiful pictures Aisha. I love the Fall season, the smell of rotten leaves brightens me up for some reason, maybe because I know underneath them, new life will come in the spring.

  6. I agree with all the other comments here – especially at how gifted you are at writing. I have never had to deal with any form of mental anxiety such as you do on a daily level, but through your writing I can get a glimpse into your struggle.

    1. Thanks Alex, it never feels to me as though I can provide a faithful representation, much as I try to, but it’s encouraging to hear what I do achieve gives a good idea of what it’s like.

  7. Your readers are right. You write beautifully and your photographs are wonderful. Please know that you are in my prayers.

    1. Thankyou Marge, for the compliment and the prayers – I’ve never actually considered the idea that people I haven’t met are wishing the best for me. For a few minutes there the world seemed somehow less vast and lonely. I’m tucking that feeling away somewhere I can pull it out and turn it over in my mind next time I feel alone.

  8. Very powerful imagery, my friend. Writing while you ‘bleed’ can be very cathartic, but often it becomes too dark for many to handle. Your ability to pull at least one small ray of light into the murky darkness demonstrates that all important hope and a strength of character you do possess. Your openness in sharing how you use your talents to access these strengths, no matter how deeply they are buried, for the sake of your children, yourself… and others is incredibly inspiring.

    1. Speechless Anne, speechless but happy. Isn’t it strange how a friend can make us aware of strengths we never realised we had? i just thought, “She’s right. I’ve got this far haven’t I?” Even though I’ve made the conscious choice to search for the good things in BPD it’s still hard to go against a lifetime of social conditioning that mental illness is an inadequacy or weakness, and that’s what washes over you when you’re down. This inner strength is a powerful gift I must remember I have – thanks for the moment of clarity.

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