When I Realized I Was Thankful for My Borderline Personality Diagnosis
I was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and upon hearing those words, my heart sunk. It couldn’t be me. When I thought of BPD, I thought of violent people who get angry at the drop of a hat and lash out at any little thing. That’s not like me at all — or is it? The more I researched BPD, the more it felt like someone was writing about me. Everything I read described me exactly.
One of the defining characteristics of BPD is unstable emotions, and boy are my emotions unstable. Something so small, like a causal statement or a particular song, can send me right off the edge. Sometimes I can snap back as quickly as I went into it, but most of the time not so much. I’m stuck picking up the pieces of an emotional nightmare which might not fade for hours. I feel like I’m floating in the ocean and being tossed by the waves. Some days are good and calm with no waves, but on other days the waves are gusting and throwing me so hard I feel I can’t take it.
I feel emotions more easily and deeply than others. I see this as a blessing and a curse. Depression feels overwhelmingly deep and dark, but feeling good feels amazing, like euphoria. I feel intense joy over small things and incredible gratitude for kindness of others. Because of this, I have empathy for others — but even that’s not always a good thing. Hearing about a friend’s divorce can send me into a whirlwind of emotions. While it’s good that I can share her pain and be there with her in it, it also means it may take me a long time to get my own emotions back in order.
Black and white thinking or thinking in extremes is another hallmark of BPD. Things are either all good or all bad. With BPD you don’t see gray, it’s only black or white. For me when life is good, it’s absolutely great. Sunshine, lollipops, the whole deal. But when one little thing doesn’t go the way I think it should, bam — darkness takes over. All of a sudden life is terrible, I’m terrible, it’s all hopeless, I don’t deserve to live, etc. I experience “splitting” in relationships, too. People are either all good or all bad. There is no middle ground. I can think of someone as absolutely perfect and wonderful, and then they do one little thing and they are the worst person in the world. I can’t sit with someone being mostly good, but somewhat flawed.
But when I read about self-harm and suicidal behaviors, the BPD diagnosis really hit me. Because I feel things more intensely, overwhelming emotions are just too much. I can’t even begin to describe the torment it feels like. Imagine you’re in a sickening bright room curled up in the corner. People are pointing at you and screaming horrible things, but you can’t do anything to make it stop.
That’s when I realized my diagnosis was beneficial for me. It helps me understand myself and why I do the things I do. It helps me get support from others struggling with the same issues. A great thing about BPD is that there is a great recovery rate with therapy. It won’t be easy, but now that I can define the problem, I can start gathering the tools to make it a little easier.