10 Things I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About Borderline Personality Disorder

2k
2k
46

To the people who love me with my borderline brain,

I’ve been in therapy for seven months now and have only just uttered the dreaded words borderline personality disorder (BPD). This is my attempt at helping you to understand where I’m coming from and why I do the things I do.

Here are some things I want my loved ones to know about my experience with BPD:

1. I’m not a bad person. 

My behavior is sometimes fuelled by my disordered thinking patterns. I do things some might think are heartless, manipulative, rude, dangerous and downright horrible. And I’m not using my disorder as an excuse! I’m just trying to tell you those things are not the sum total of me. They are a product of a legitimate disordered way of thinking that can be hard to understand. So try to see past the behavior and see the person you love under it, because I’m still here, just trying to control my brain.

2. It’s OK if you can’t understand me.

This is not me “just being negative again.” This isn’t a teenage temper tantrum where “nobody gets what it’s like to be me.” This is a tried and tested theory. Unless you have a personality disorder you will not understand one. Not in any logical sense. And the main reason? Because my disorder makes no logical sense.

3. My impulses are hard to fight. 

When I get a random impulse to do something, it feels like an immediate requirement. It isn’t a want, it’s a need, and if I can’t do what I’m being told to do I become despondent, depressed and probably seem sulky from the outside. But inside I’m fighting a terrible battle of wills. My impulses let me filter out negative emotions when I’m unable to deal with them in a healthy way.

4. I’m not emotionally shallow. 

In fact, I’m the complete opposite.

One of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder is “splitting.” For me, an example of this is when I connect with someone and then almost immediately (sometimes) disconnect from them. I go from idolizing them to never speaking about them again. Understand this doesn’t mean I don’t care about people when we’re connected. In fact, sometimes I need to force myself to disconnect from someone because the emotion I feel towards them is too much to cope with.

5. When I’m down I’m not just down.

My pain is sometimes like a combination of black hole and a Dementor from Harry Potter. It can feel darker than black and deeper than the ocean. It feeds itself and grows bigger and bigger. It feels like all I can do is lie there in a bundle of tears until it goes away. So when I’m feeling down, know I’m not just sad.

6. I’m not “just being dramatic” either.

I can practically hear your eyes rolling at that last point. But I’m being 100 percent serious. Being told to “woman up,” “stop being ridiculous” or other tips to “just stop being depressed” doesn’t work.

7. I play favorites.

When I connect with somebody they are elevated beyond everyone else. If you ever feel slighted, ignored or like you’re second best, it’s probably because I only have eyes for my current favorite. But it isn’t a conscious decision to choose them over you. It won’t even occur to me connecting to someone else is an option. My “choice” is never with malicious intent.

8. I have fear of abandonment.

This means if I’m “connected” to you and go for periods of time without hearing from you, I might become panicked, depressed, irrational and bitter towards you.

9. I’m scared of losing you. 

I’m irrationally terrified of upsetting you, making you hate me, annoying you and making you leave me.

10. I need reassurance daily. 

I need to feel loved (especially by my favorite). I need to feel like I haven’t destroyed our relationship by being such a “horrible person” (or even by saying something I irrationally interpret as stupid). I need to know you’re here for me and you haven’t disappeared since we last spoke.

Living with BPD thinking isn’t an easy task. It can be painful, frustrating and dangerous for my health. I hope now you can understand me and my BPD brain a little better.

2k
2k
46

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
, Contributor list
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

An Instruction Manual to Me and My Mental Illness

1k
1k
3

Often friends and family will tell me they don’t know how to help me when I’m in a mental health crisis, or how to act around me when I’m feeling low. So to make things easier for everyone involved, I present to you: Me, An Instruction Manual.

Thank you for purchasing your very own me, with an included mental illness! Each one of us is made differently and no two are alike! Here are a few things to remember:

1. I am unique. I have bad days, good days and even days I can’t quite understand. But I’m not crazy. I simply want to be me, living life the best way I know how. Although I make mistakes, so do people without mental illness. Don’t treat me any differently.

2. You can’t fix me — please don’t try. Mental illness is treatable, but not always curable. But for the most part, those who seek treatment can lead “normal” lives.

3. Whatever coping skills work for you might not work for me. I’ve done a lot of work formulating my own coping skills, techniques and routines designed to help me cope with everyday life. You can’t make things better for me. Only I can do that.

4. Don’t ignore me. I find it difficult sometimes to find the words to ask for help. When I do, please don’t ignore or dismiss me. If I come to you seeking help, I need help.

5. I am not seeking attention. On the contrary, being the center of attention gives me anxiety. I’d rather blend in the background than have people worry about me.

6. You cannot get sick from me. Funny thought, I know, but I’ve actually encountered someone who thought this.

7. I have borderline personality disorder, but that doesn’t mean I will automatically make life harder for you. I’m loyal as a dog, caring and defensive of the people I care about.

8. My anxiety makes me a safe person to be around. I try my hardest to control my surroundings to make things less stressful for everyone.

9. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what to say. The worst thing you can say to me in a crisis is nothing. I just like to know someone’s there for me.

10. Know that for me, stigma is still very real. Although I publicly discuss my illness online, it’s still difficult for me to discuss it in real life, especially with people I’ve just met. If you’re one of the lucky few I’ve opened up to, it means you’re important to me. I trust no matter what I told you about my mental illness, you still think of me as the same person. Thank you.

Follow this journey on Manic Medic

1k
1k
3
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Why Having Borderline Personality Disorder Doesn't Mean I Have to Be Miserable

192
192
0

To me, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most misunderstood and maligned diagnoses out there. Openly identifying yourself as having BPD and talking about what it’s like takes incredible vulnerability. So I was feeling both proud of myself and somewhat afraid when I took the stage along with four other panelists at a large conference this summer to talk about mental health and our experiences with therapy.

The talk went well, we had some great questions and I finished the hour feeling like it was worth it, as I do most times when I speak out about my experiences with BPD. I even managed to introduce some basic ideas of neurodiversity, saying “I don’t hate my BPD. There are good elements to it.”

That all turned sour when one man came up to chat with us after the panel was finished. I was busy trying to help a young woman figure out how to find a therapist who would meet her needs, when I overheard him:

“No real borderline would say that. They all hate borderline and would do anything to get rid of it.”

I felt a flood of cold anger. I was angry at the misconceptions about borderline. I was angry at a society that finds it acceptable to diagnose a complete stranger. But mostly, I was angry I felt like I couldn’t do anything to change this man’s mind, to show him BPD is not a monolith of miserable, malicious people.

But what I can do is tell my story here, to as many people as possible. I can say what it’s like for me to live with BPD.

It seems most people think BPD is just a disorder that makes people angry, manipulative and abusive. When asked to imagine someone with BPD they might think of “Girl, Interrupted,” or picture someone who hurts themselves for attention, yells and screams at the slightest provocation or has impossible rules and expectations. 

This is not my experience with BPD.

There are a few hallmark characteristics of the disorder that show up for most people who have it, and these are usually the most misunderstood. While many people are aware of the intense anger that often comes with the disorder, there are some other traits that look very different. Here are the ones that are most prevalent in my life, and the ways they can be positive.

1. Emotional dysregulation

Perhaps the most iconic element of BPD is what’s called emotional dysregulation, but I like to think of it as living without an emotional skin. Compared to nearly everyone else I know, I feel my emotions more. Everything is intense for me. Small things feel overwhelming, big things can leave me so stimulated I shut down entirely and sometimes I get big emotions for no particular reason. That means I react a lot. I cry a lot. Sometimes when plans change at the last minute I can’t follow through because my emotions are too busy flipping out. It’s not an easy way to live, but it’s also not an attempt to be manipulative. Having strong emotions most certainly isn’t abusive. It’s simply different, and it can be managed with good support and resources.

2. Lack of identity

Many people with BPD have a hard time forming a solid sense of identity. I have this problem and often try to make up for it by throwing myself into activities, relationships, jobs and school. I try form my identity by being good at something. I can never entirely tell for myself what my character traits are or what my values and priorities should be. That means I have a very hard time with change and sometimes will hold on to relationships for too long. It can also lead to serious shifts of opinion once I start to see the bad in something.

From the outside it might seem like I am flighty or have serious difficulties with relationships, but internally it feels completely different. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out whether I’m being reasonable or whether a friend or partner is behaving in a mean or unacceptable way. I try extremely hard to see good and commit to my relationships, so when I’ve decided someone shouldn’t be in my life anymore I have many, many reasons. While the shift may seem sudden from the outside, internally I’ve likely overthought things for a long time. This is also not a problem that is impossible to solve. Careful consideration of my values and motivations has given me a much better sense of what I want out of my life and how to pursue it in a healthy manner.

3. Self harm and impulse control

It’s also incredibly common for people with BPD to have impulse issues, including problems with self-harm. After spending more time in therapy, I have better coping skills, which means I’ve been self-harm free for a year. BPD is not a life sentence of self-harm.

4. Chronic emptiness

Chronic emptiness is one of the experiences of BPD that’s hard to explain. Much of the time I feel numb. I don’t have those strong emotions, or I don’t see the point in trying to manage my life. I can have a hard time socializing because it feels as if my whole body is heavy and weak, my mind is dulled with depression and other people don’t understand. To be real, this is one of the symptoms I can’t find any positives in, but one of the ways I combat it is by going back to my strong emotions and accepting these elements of myself. Hating my BPD will only make the pointlessness and despair worse.

5. Dissociation

It seems like people have never heard this word, but most people have experienced at least mild dissociation at some point in their life. If you’ve ever driven home and then realized you can’t entirely remember how you got there, you’ve dissociated. It’s the experience of disconnecting from your body or immediate surroundings. When I’m having a particularly bad episode, I feel as if I can’t move my body. I have a hard time speaking because my mouth doesn’t feel like it belongs to me. But, none of this means I’m ignoring anyone or being manipulative or hating the world. It’s my mind’s way of dealing with intense stress, and sometimes it’s very helpful. I’ve learned ways to bring myself back to reality.

After so much lived experience, when someone tries to tell me what a real person with borderline looks like, I can’t help but laugh. BPD is a widely varied disorder. I want to tell that man who questioned my diagnosis there are times when having BPD is actually really cool. Most of the time I like my life.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some absolutely awful times. But in the last 20 years the treatment for BPD has improved hugely, and remission is possible. That means I can manage most of the negative symptoms and appreciate the positive. I don’t just feel bad emotions intensely, but happy ones too. I have passions stronger than most people I know, and have almost beautiful reactions to plays, music and media. My strong emotions help me to feel empathy, and because I have some fears of abandonment, I work incredibly hard to be a kind and caring person.

It’s entirely inappropriate to ever tell another person how they should feel about their own mental health, and even worse to say you must be miserable if your brain is different. My brain is not entirely typical, but that doesn’t mean I hate myself. I want to combat that stigma by openly embracing my own mind.

Follow this journey on We Got So Far to Go.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

192
192
0
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

How This Woman Turned Her Depression Into a Worldwide Movement of Love Letters

342
342
1

The world doesn’t need another website,” declares the homepage of The World Needs More Love Letters. “It doesn’t need another app or a network. What it needs is really basic. Simple. Bare-boned and often forgotten in the race to get followers, likes and status.”

According to The World Needs More Love Letters founder Hannah Brencher, what the world needs is more love.

When Brencher moved to New York City after graduating from college, she thought her dream life was about to begin. Instead, she found herself facing a different beast: depression.

I found myself grappling with depression, unable to tell my family and friends because I was so ashamed,” she says on her website. “Depression is a scary thing. Depression, when you make yourself journey through it alone, is terrifying.”

So, she wrote. First, it was just in her notebook. Then notes became letters, and she started leaving them around New York City. After blogging about her experience, she posed the question: “Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask.”

11895284_866613140086288_9164701538203723418_o According to her site, she spent the next year writing letters to people from all over the world.

Now, her personal path to grappling with depression has become The World Needs More Love Letter, a community of volunteers who write anonymous love letters to those who need them most. On her website, you can nominate anyone (even yourself) to receive handwritten love notes. A handful of those nominees are featured on the site, with a backstory and address.

Andre, a 16-year-old from Australia who, according to the The World Needs More Love Letters Facebook page, needed a reminder he is worthy of love, received 201 letters. He was nominated by his mother, who wrote to More Love Letter:

We are completely lost for words. We in no way expected to receive such an out pouring of heartfelt support, love, compassion and inspiration from so many truly remarkable people from across the globe. Letters came flooding in from right across the USA and from every corner of the world including Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, Romania, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland, Uk, Scotland and of-course our treasured home country Australia.

Mary's letter request was featured back in May, and she has now received her bundle of letters! Read through the amazing...

Posted by The World Needs More Love Letters on Friday, 21 August 2015

 

The movement hasn’t lost its roots. Members of the The World Needs More Love Letters community are still encouraged to leave love letters in public places. Letters have been found in Chicago, Toronto and Nashville, and even as far as Norway. It’s proof that while depression is a global phenomena, love is too.

Maybe you need the reminder today. Keep fighting. You deserve good things for your life,” a letter reads in an Upworthy video (below). “It sounds too simple, but it is amazing the number of people who believe that for other people, but not themselves. You deserve them too. All the good things. Don’t settle. Don’t give in. This world needs you. Don’t quit.”

 Watch the original Upworthy video: 

342
342
1
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

17 Things People With Mental Illness Want Their Significant Others to Know

736
736
41

Living with a mental illness — especially a misunderstood one — can make relationships a little tough. But sometimes, the opposite is true: When a person with a mental illness finds a partner he or she can be vulnerable around, it can make for a stronger bond. Like any relationship, there are ups and there are downs.

To highlight this, we asked our Mighty readers living with mental illness what message they would send to their significant other.

If you’re unsure of how to help your loved one with a mental illness, or if sometimes you just don’t know what to say, these might help:

1. “Needing alone time and a quiet zone isn’t rejection — it’s recharging.” — Michelle Skigen

A quote by Michelle Skigen that says, "Needing alone time and a quiet zone isn't rejection — it's recharging."

2. “Thank you for coming to appointments with me, for learning about my illness, my meds and what it would take for me to climb back up out of the abyss… Together, we can slay the beast.” Patti Petz Gray

3. “I just need to know if I have a bad day  if I yell and scream and cry — you will still love me at the end of it.” — Bekah Paskett

4. “Sometimes I just want you to listen to me. No matter how irrational I sound.” — Jessica Bowers

5. “Turn off the television and just breathe with me for a little while.” — Kathleen O’Brien Casey

A quote from Kathleen O'Brien Casey that says, "Turn off the television and just breathe with me for a little while."

6. “When I’m numb or lost in the deepest and darkest hole, it’s not because you’ve done something wrong.”  Maritza Estrada Wedum

7. “Sometimes it is not enough to listen once, not enough to talk once, not enough to believe once. Sometimes it needs to be the same conversation a hundred times.” — Reanne Stayner

8. “You are my motivation to push through.” — Ashley Cardinal

A quote from Ashley Cardinal that says, "You are my motivation to push through."

9. “Don’t forget I’m still me when I’m in a down swing. I’m still me. I still love you. I’ll be back soon.” — Tristian Henderson

10. “I don’t need you to understand exactly what I’m going through, I just need you to accept me the way I am, stick with me and love me through it.” — Kerri Symes

11. “I love you even when I don’t love me.” — Jordann Chitty

A quote from Jordann Chitty that says, "I love you even when I don't love me."

12. “Sometimes you don’t need you to say anything. I just need you to hold me. Actions can be louder than words.”  Allyson White

13. “It’s OK not to understand how I feel. I would rather hear questions than silence.” — Jennifer Thompson

A quote from Jennifer Thompson that says, "It's OK not to understand how I feel. I would rather hear questions than silence."

14. “The days when I don’t have a specific reason for feeling depressed are the days I need you to love me ‘louder.’”  Chelsea Geren

15. “Thank you for being so very kind. Thank you for being so patient. Thank you for telling me I really wasn’t that bad to be around, even when we both know I was.” — Carol Stewart

16. “‘I’m doing the best I can right now’ isn’t a cop out. Sometimes it really takes all I have to do just the minimum.” — Amanda Talma

17. “Please don’t feel like you have to ‘fix’ things. Just be there for me.” — Lindsay-Sarah Czitron

A quote from Lindsay-Sarah Czitron that says, "Please don't feel like you have to 'fix' things. Just be there for me."

*Some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

If you’re living with a mental illness, what is something you want your significant other to know? Tell us in the comments below.

17 Things People With Mental Illness Want Their Significant Others to Know
736
736
41
TOPICS
Listicle, Meme,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

4 Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Children With Mental Illness

199
199
0

The time leading up to school can bring on a sense of despair and stress for parents of children with mental illness. It can be tough to make sure they get everything they need. A lot of general educators do not receive training in mental health disorders and the only resources they have, if they chose to utilize them, are the special educators, counselors and school psychologists. This can be scary to any parent.

From someone who works with students with emotional and behavioral disorders, here are some tips that could make the transition to school a little easier.

1. Know your rights as a parent.

If your child requires an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), teachers are required to follow specific goals that have been written by and agreed on by you and your child’s team. Teachers need to respect these goals. If you don’t believe your child’s new teacher is following the IEP., you can call an IEP meeting at anytime. That is your right as a parent. Every year, you should also be given a booklet that explains all of your rights and your child’s rights regarding special education as directed not by the school, but the federal government. If you do not receive a right’s booklet, advocate for yourself and ask for one. Arm yourself with the knowledge needed to support your child throughout their academic career. 

2. Meet up with your child’s teacher.

Your new teacher may not be like the last teacher your child had, so the transition from last year to this year can definitely be stressful. Make sure you meet with your child’s teacher before school starts or set up a time to speak with them one-on-one. Communication is key during the school year for your child’s success. Any information you can provide to your child’s teacher is going to be helpful. If your child needs certain items to keep them calm, inform his or her teacher. If you want daily communication, let the teacher know. Something to keep in mind is that a teacher is potentially getting up to 30 new students, so any information you can provide will help the teacher be proactive when addressing your child’s needs.

3. Do not assume your child’s teacher knows everything. 

If your child is in regular education, do not assume the teacher knows everything about your child’s disorder. While giving too much information could offend a veteran teacher, you do want to bring some information specific to your child’s disorder. Knowledge is everything. Even if the teacher has access to the child’s IEP plan prior to the school year, giving the teacher an overview will be beneficial to your nerves, and will help the teacher prepare. 

4. For the first couple of weeks, be patient. 

Each teacher is individual just like each student is individual, and most want to do what’s best for your child. Be patient with the teacher for the first couple of weeks. If you still don’t believe your child’s needs are being met, make an appointment to address the situation right away. If the problems still exist, ask to sit in on a class to see how your child is acting. 

While special education teachers should be better equipped to address your child’s needs in the classroom, general education teachers may need some extra guidance. Don’t be afraid to talk to any staff who have direct contact with your child to ensure your child’s needs are being met. You are the best advocate for your child, so feel empowered. There is nothing to be ashamed of when talking about mental illness. It’s a part of life, and doesn’t mean your child is less valuable than a typical peer. Push for your rights. Know your rights. Ask questions. The key to advocacy is to show your child they are worth the fight.

199
199
0
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.