Here’s What You Need To Know About Borderline Personality Disorder
From someone who lives with it.
So you’ve seen Single White Female, Fatal Attraction and Girl, Interrupted and you think you’re totally clued in on what BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) is all about.
WRONG. Of all the possible mental illnesses and particularly ones found more commonly in women, BPD is often the most stigmatized, dramatized and demonized.
I was officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2008 when I was 28 years old, after much reluctance and avoidance of obtaining psychiatric treatment for what I thought was just “the way I am”. I always had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t have that same spark as the other kids and I felt an emptiness I couldn’t describe. I struggled with concurrent opposing emotions and feelings that to me seemed normal but I later discovered where far from it.
Whilst most BPD symptoms start showing symptoms in late adolescence or early adulthood, mine became explosive and beyond unmanageable around age 19. Whilst there is still no definitive cause for BPD, family inherited biology and childhood traumatic experiences remain the key factors. For me, it was the latter.
Outward symptoms started to show more and more — emotional detachment, paranoia, anxiety about EVERYTHING (self-analyzing everything is your soul mantra), self-harm and a constant fear of abandonment. I acted out in binge drinking, tantrums, anger, risky behavior, promiscuity — all with very little care for those around me.
Then, I found a psychiatrist who got it, he got me and he damn near fixed me. He introduced to me to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, hard truths and honest emotional realizations I had not ever thought honestly about, let alone spoken about. That was the beginning of what became ‘dealing with my illness.’ Because, YES, Borderline Personality Disorder is an illness.
Living with BPD sometimes feels like you have 10 voices in your head — all telling you “what’s wrong with this?”, “why this?”, “I care/I don’t care”, “why wasn’t I invited, he must hate me, why is that person staring at me?” It can become so overwhelming and isolating that the simplest interactions and relations become a giant saga in your mind. Sometimes, I still struggle to understand the meaning or true intent of something someone has said to me as innocent as the comment may be. I want to trust and I want to let people in but that little mesh BPD net still keeps itself close by. It’s safety and it’s fear, all at the same time.
There are days I don’t want to leave my bed, days I want to spend more money than I can, days where one wrong outfit will mean canceling my going out plans, days where I will be the most productive person on earth, days where I will be the most excitable happy person around. And then there are the days where I just don’t feel I belong anywhere. One of the biggest myths about BPD is that we are uncaring and apathetic. But my BPD friends and I have often talked about how sensitive and aware we are about everything around us to the point of constant skepticism and paranoia of other people’s emotions and/or intentions.
I know now the triggers and am aware of my emotional reactions in a way I never was before. I take medication every day, which keeps me at what I call a stable or ‘normie’ level of emotional awareness. Like any illness, preventative care is important and that is how I see my medication and therapy – a way to give myself the most positive environment to reduce my triggers and maintain my illness.
If you struggle with BPD there are things you can do and there are things you should know:
Borderline Personality Disorder can be cured.
The lifelong challenge of BPD is certainly not a life sentence for all.
Seek out a psychologist or psychiatrist if you haven’t already.
This combined with medication is really the key to understanding your BPD and your personal triggers.
When you feel overwhelmed by life or a situation — take out a piece of paper and write on one side the statements or issues and on the other side “What’s the worst that can happen?”. Similarly, writing a positive and negative list about yourself is also a great way to harness and realistically and logically look at something and later you’ll think you were ridiculous for overacting.
Write, write, write.
Journals are your saving grace. Empty every bad thought, every anxiety, every feeling and emotion and set it free.
Read, write, do yoga, watch films, study, listen to Max Richter’s 8-hour Sleep album. Do whatever you have to in order to keep your mind occupied and calm.
Talk it out.
What behavior you think is normal is sometimes not to others. Be aware of yourself and talk about your issues with loved ones and friends you’re comfortable with. They are NOT you and luckily for them, they cannot read your mind.
Communication is key.
If you feel uncomfortable or you have boundaries or needs you need to be met in order to avoid episodes or triggers, speak to your partner about it.
When you are overwhelmed, upset, feel alone, lost, isolated. Reach out. The more insular you become the harder it is to break that cycle of isolation and loneliness. There is help and there are people who will listen.
Get yourself a CBT workbook.
You can get them free online, as eBooks and as hard copies on Amazon.
Don’t let it define you.
BPD is only one small part of you. It does not define you. Define yourself.
I used to think that Borderline Personality Disorder made me ‘crazy’, ‘undesirable’, ‘unlovable’, and for a long time, I was ashamed of my illness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shouting from the rooftops “I’ve got Borderline” now, but I’ve become more accepting of myself and made it my mission to remain self-aware and share my experiences with other BPD sufferers and non-sufferers.
People fear most what they don’t understand. Every day I strive to think more, create more, work more, BE MORE. This illness has made me stronger and more resilient than I could have ever imagined and it challenges me every single day to show not just to the world but to ME that I can do anything despite my BPD.
Image via instagram.com.
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