A Mind Tearing Apart With Borderline Personality

So I have been writing about finding my feet working within the kink world and trying to put a comical spin on it. There was a much darker struggle going on in my personal life as my professional life developed.

Personal Relationships And Working In The Sex Industry

I was with my first partner for nearly 5 years. We were engaged and we had planned our life together. We had named the children we were going to have one day. She did the make-up and hair styling for my photo shoots. Within the first year of starting out just as a hobby we were both working professionally in our respective fields. It really looked as though we had our lives figured out. There was excellent money to be made covering weddings and we were well and truly on the track to working one day a week, 24 weeks a year.

I got my first professional job assisting a wedding photographer and shortly after that I was also working in a chain studio in shopping centres doing mostly family portraiture. My partner followed me to both jobs and was soon working alongside me and also doing very well for herself. My work sharpened up very quickly, I was headhunted to work for another very busy portrait and glamour studio in the city. I also started freelancing heavily in commercial and fashion photography. At the time, I was also working nights shooting privately for many of Sydney’s escorts and exotic dancers. Updating portfolios for websites and helping newcomers to the industry get a foot in the door. I WAS BUSY.

Exotic dancer on a pole
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I buried myself in work because I was hiding from the emotional wreckage that was the failed relationship that I know we both felt totally trapped in. See, my partner was an amazing girl. She was also totally crippled by the medication she was on for anxiety. It caused weight gain which made her depressed as she was severely self-conscious. This caused a vicious spiral of eating disorders, self-harm and self-medication.

I tried to help but I soon learned, you can drag someone down but you can’t drag them up. It’s almost too easy to make someone miserable but it’s really difficult to make someone happy permanently.

I faced daily accusations of infidelity. I was confronted with “evidence” consisting of social media messages, text messages and emails between friends and clients, all of which were innocently discussing kinky subject matter.

I was photographing fashion lines for a large importing company. I was paid $250 per campaign and could shoot anything from two to ten campaigns a day. I had been working for this company a few days a week casually while their head photographer was off sick. It was made known to me that he wasn’t coming back and the position was mine if I wanted it. I wished for years after that money solved problems because I turned them down.

My partner was no longer fit for work but was not eligible for disability whilst living with me. I remember the conversation like it happened 5 minutes ago.

Me:

“I’ve made it. We can move to the city and start our family.”

Her:

“I don’t want to have children with you anymore.”

I grew up poor, my Dad stopped working when I was 13 and I started working shortly after. I didn’t want my kids to go without. I wanted them to have everything. The deal was we waited to see if working as artists was going to pay off. If not one of us would work and the other would get an education. When the opportunity to work professionally as an artist came up, I was the most excited I had ever been. I wouldn’t be working for 6 different clients on a weekly basis. I could settle into a routine and provide for a family. We had problems and I know in retrospect that I was avoiding them but at the time I thought the money would fix everything.

So I turned them down, cut my workload to a bare minimum and decided I would properly try and help her through whatever she was dealing with. Over the years she had refused professional help at every turn. Hospital visits following self-harm were regular. It was like taking a scared dog to the vet. I hate talking about it that way but that is the best metaphor I could come up with to properly illustrate the process.

See, my partner was suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness and our situation couldn’t have been more toxic for her. If she had sought out professional mental health help sooner we could have handled our relationship so much better. I know we wouldn’t have stayed together. Our values had drifted apart. We were no longer on the same journey together but we both could have dealt with the fallout without the collateral damage.

We eventually got back on speaking terms again years later and she had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Bi-Polar Disorder. She was still dealing with the same issues but was much more settled into life. She was still unable to work but hadn’t had a manic episode.

I won’t go into too much depth about these disorders now. However…

Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder Are As Follows

  • Feeling empty
  • Low self-esteem
  • Paranoia or emotional detachment
  • Anxiety about relationships
  • Making efforts to avoid being abandoned
  • Impulsive and risky behaviour
  • Self-harm
  • Threatening or attempting suicide
  • Anger, moodiness and irritability

She literally was a textbook case. Professional diagnosis and help provided immediate improvement in her quality of life once she finally went out and got it. This is not always the case for mental health issues but so many people suffer in silence.

In our relationship, I would literally be her personal Jesus at breakfast and the bringer of the apocalypse at brunch. A high paid job designing a website for a pro Dominatrix must mean that I am cheating on her. Doing a shoot for a friend means there must be indiscretions. There were many times where we would work on a shoot together and then a few days later the accusations would start. I would be questioned on behaviours that TRULY HAD NOT OCCURRED. Things I had and had not said were examined for deeper meaning. She was caught in the crossfire of a mind tearing her apart and a life that couldn’t have been more triggering.

Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder
Images: Borderline Personality Disorder

SO… Why Is All This Important?

I was going on a journey of sexual awakening alone in my professional career. I turned down massive opportunities regularly. I stayed because I felt guilty that it was all really an illusion. I wanted so badly for the picture of our lives that we had made together to become a reality. I was never unfaithful. I was working with burlesque performers, exotic dancers, pro doms and subs, escorts and more. I also learned that sex is really, really good.

And yet… I had NEVER given my first and only partner at the time an orgasm and felt guilty even asking her to participate.

The medication she had been on since she was child for depression had made her completely numb. It was just a fact of life that it was never going to happen. She was 5’8” with gorgeous long black hair, a Gothic look and… not that it’s important but a very full F cup bra. She was a makeup artist. She was ALWAYS outright stared at in public because she was breathtakingly stunning… and we weren’t having sex. Like ever.

I discovered with other partners later what a wonderful journey sexual exploration is for two people who are truly willing. This was some time ago, the leaps and bounds I have seen for help that is available for people in these situations is amazing. NO MATTER how perfect things look on the outside. If something is broken. FIX IT. SEEK HELP.

Here is the thing, I should have left her. YEARS prior but I stayed out of obligation. I should have looked for help for my own mental health and wellbeing. My own happiness had not been important for years. I had only superficially enjoyed what was an amazing rollercoaster ride of a new and exciting career.

“I don’t connect with my life partner on any level”

It was a real problem that I ignored because I didn’t know any better either.

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JJ Maher has been a professional photographer since 2008 covering all facets from shiny glamour to wedding photographs. As he progressed in his career he began to specialize in portraits of people with particular interest in adult erotica and those living outside of the norm in society. His magnificent portfolio speaks for itself and we welcome his insight and stories of his shoots, how he meets his subjects and the interesting tales he has to tell. Oh, and he is also right into music !

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