Instant gratification. We all know it. We all crave it.
In this age of modern technology our tolerance for waiting for stuff to happen is pretty much off the low end of the scale. Wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load?! Unheard of! Got a burning question that you just know will be on your mind for many slumber-less nights? Google is your best, instant friend. Someone didn’t reply to your text in an instantaneous fashion? What the hell, man?! I know you’re always on your phone!
What I’m getting at is that instant gratification fills that empty void in our lives where we just… wait. And waiting for stuff is no fun.
Alright alright, so waiting for stuff to load/answer/reply isn’t actually the end of the world (although slow download speeds are torture) the real problem is when you add impulsivity into the mix.
And with BPD, impulsivity is a main contender in our world of chaos. Impulsivity + Instant Gratification = some poor life decisions, daily problems, monetary troubles, relationship issues etc. etc.
For example you may be cradling yourself in the depths of despair, and have a similar thought pattern: “I wish I was dead. I wish I was gone. I wish I could disappear. I wish I could go somewhere else. I wish I could get out of here. I have to get out of here. I am going to Bulgaria!”*
Suddenly everything makes sense! Everything will be okay if you just go to Bulgaria! I mean, fuck it, you have to do something to feel good, and what’s more something than going on an solo traveling adventure?!
So, a few google searches and a couple of hours on the clock and you’re all booked up on a super cheap flight (no idea how you’re getting to and from the airport), in a super cheap hostel (no idea how you’re going to eat for the duration of your stay), and viola, something to keep you occupied and ignoring thoughts about all the money you don’t have, and the relationship that crumbled, and the thoughts that you want to end your life…
What about sitting at home after resigning from your job (before they had a chance to fire you) and you feel so empty and useless and disgusting but suddenly you remember you want a ukulele.** A ukulele will fix this! A quick Argos reservation online (dammit internet you’re murdering my wallet!), a two minute trip down the road, and you’ve got a shiny new uke sitting in your lap. Perfect. Phew. Crisis averted. Until you realise that the ‘magical problem-fixing ukulele’ isn’t actually so magical, and another impulse grabs you and you find yourself in a dingy corner of a pub stuck in an endless loop of:
Feel Really Bad > Poorly Thought Out Impulsive Action > Feel Less Bad > Realisation & Guilt From Impulsive Action > Feel Really Bad Again.
Unfortunately, the impulsivity often seems overwhelmingly uncontrollable. In a bid to keep from drowning, you may cling to the one thing (no matter how irrational) that you believe will be your life raft.
Like someone dying of thirst being handed a cold bottle of beer, sure, at first it quenches the thirst; the cool, refreshing liquid rolling down your throat and soothing the sore and aching muscles. However as we all know, alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you urinate more by stopping your kidneys from absorbing water. So, after a while that thirst-quenching-life-saving beer is gunna make you even more dehydrated, and in an even worse position than before.
Someone with BPD can cling to these irrational beliefs that their impulsive action can solve the problem, or make it go away, or help them to ignore it, or make them feel better. But these constant impulsive actions can cause more problems in other areas of their lives. Some people may not only struggle with impulsive issues surrounding money, but also addictive behaviours like drinking or drugs, or being sexually promiscuous with little to no regard of the consequences.
It’s a case of learning to recognise an impulsive decision and to try a period of ‘cooling off’ or distraction, before you make any rash decisions.
If you are struggling with monetary, alcohol, drugs, or sexual issues as a result of impulsive actions there are plenty of organisations that can help and support you. Speak to your GP or Citizen’s Advice Bureaux about getting in touch with these organisations.
* I actually did this…
** And this too……