“Words read and twisted,
A single touch and I’m lost.”
Living with what I now know is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is nothing but extremes.
For many years, I was misdiagnosed and in therapies I would never follow through with, because I was never looked at hard enough. My ability to manipulate and pull the conversation in ways beneficial to me could never seem to be matched.
Since 18, I have tried community-style as well as private practices, male and female doctors, and therapists. I’ve spent time in a mental institution for days and, still, never once was I given more than a glance. I was usually passed off as a young adult going “through a rough patch,” or I was in a good swing of a mood in the moments with the doctors, so they believed things couldn’t be that bad. Their favorite diagnosis, the one they seemed to love, was when they would hear “mood swings” and assume bipolar. I’d be given medication with no real support, and since I had never really seen improvement with medication, I would simply stop taking them and stop going to the doctor altogether.
Borderline personality disorder is just that: a personality disorder versus the chemical imbalance of bipolar disorder—sometimes called emotional dysregulation. I’m finding now that this is something completely entwined into everything I do. Normally this is created at a young age from some type of abuse; even this is severely complicated, as I’ve found several contributing factors for what’s happening within me.
I’m finding even though medication is helpful for some of the symptoms, the work in therapy with a psychoanalytic therapist has been one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life. I’m having to confront my past and childhood experiences that I’d always believed was just as normal as everyone else’s. Trying to understand, at 30, why I’ve always had issues with relationships, why my impulse control is minimal at best, and how I cope with the extreme and constant emotional changes throughout the day are all ways I was just trying to survive when younger.
A single text message has caused me to attempt suicide. The way someone may place their hand on me can create a downward spiral of emotion, believing they want me out of their lives. I have no concept of things being a neutral or grey space. My extremes morph things, like my perspective of a person or even physical health.
Someone can only be all bad or all good.
If someone cancels plans, I cannot take that as simply canceling because something came up. My world shifts on that person, and they become someone who couldn’t possibly be a friend. They have chosen something else over me. They don’t want to ever see me again or to continue being friends. I shut them out and refuse to answer phone calls or texts, believing they are pretending to care. I will say awful, hurtful things to get them to stop trying to reach out.
I manipulate the situation so that I’m the one leaving. That way, I can’t be left or abandoned. These are normally the times I am at my lowest. I take this one simple, and to others, insignificant interaction with someone and experience these feelings of anger and fear and sadness equivalent to someone going through a truly heartbreaking experience, except for myself, it’s a normal Tuesday.
“That person is right. Why would anyone want to be around me? This is why I’m always canceled on. Everyone sees how worthless I am as a friend.” Usually, then I question my significance and reason for even living.
My concept of how I eat or take care of my physical health is also all-or-nothing. I am either at the gym multiple times a week and eating strictly clean and healthy foods, doing my hair every day, and doing my complete skincare routine or I’m gaining weight, showering less and less, and not taking any time for self-care. I can’t possibly live with a small amount of both. I couldn’t allow myself to do a workout in the morning but have a bowl of ice cream in the afternoon without swapping to the other side of extremes.
I feel everything to an unimaginable depth every day. As soon as a crushing breakdown from a text happens, it can quickly be seesawed to the other end. It’s as though I am snapped out of the darkness and nothing has happened, just waiting until the right conditions for that water to boil over the pot to start the chaos again. This can happen multiple times a day, switching with the emotions as the waves of crushing feelings continue.
Living with BPD at my level is manageable but also so scary. As said, I’m often not taken seriously because my mood can quickly be swapped for a functioning and levelheaded member of society. I can then, though, switch quickly to wanting nothing more than to not exist. I’ve attempted to make that a reality multiple times and have masked many of the extremes with substance abuse, sex, and physical self-harm.
I am, as someone with a high-functioning Borderline Personality Disorder, living each day with minimal amounts of people ever seeing my illness. I am a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I am so much more than BPD, but I am also who I am because of it.
I am choosing to learn who I am, and more importantly, why I am who I am. Some days my disorder makes me believe I’m not worth this fight, but the support I have now is what I have always needed. So many of those diagnosed with BPD have struggled to find someone to look past the initial façade of the disorder and truly help, and we all have such similar characteristics while having such different displays of the disorder itself.
To those suffering, I promise it is worth the pain, even if some days it doesn’t feel like it.
To family and friends, please try and be patient as we are not meaning to push you away; we just want to cling to your love.
To healthcare professionals, I speak to you as one of many individuals who have been let down multiple times; please work toward understanding we are unique and not as difficult as you were told.
To everyone, you are loved and deserve to experience happiness. The world would be less bright without your mind and soul in it.
“People with BPD are like people with third-degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” ~ Dr. Marsha Linehan