The 'Frenemy' That Is My Borderline Personality Disorder

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I’ve always been a free spirit. I didn’t like to have limits or boundaries. “The sky is the limit” has been put into our head since grade school, right? I’ve spent many of my years feeling comfortable in a position of authority, but not dealing well with others exercising their position of authority. Short fuse as a child was an understatement, especially when I didn’t get my way. This is considered “normal” for a child. Whatever the doctors and specialists say is normal, anyway. However, as I moved into pre-teen and teenage years, signs of something “abnormal” began to reveal themselves.

She was officially introducing herself.

She — my borderline personality disorder — was becoming demanding and uncontrollable. There were many incidents of outbreaks and breakdowns that still happen occasionally today. This includes external outbreaks of unexplained anger and hurt resulting in tantrums, hitting, kicking, throwing and laying on the floor. I scream and cry, unable to explain what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it. When she comes out, it is only around close family and friends. She has hurt many relationships with those close to me. Other than those few who are somehow able to stick around, she stays in hiding and taunts me when I’m alone. She tells me it’s my fault, not hers. That I shouldn’t be this way and if I listen to her it will solve it. She makes me feel insecure, inadequate and alone.

Loneliness is a powerful feeling. It is just that — a feeling. I feel it for a bit and if I listen to it for too long, allowing it to trigger my brain, she will feed on it. It fuels her fire, making me sacrifice time and relationships with others in order to try and feel alive. Loneliness doesn’t have to mean no one cares. It doesn’t mean no one wants you around. It’s a temporary feeling of insecurity that everyone feels at some point or another. The temporary part is where she won’t agree with me. Aside from her, I blame the loneliness for many embarrassing and immature actions in my life.

It wasn’t until every doctor I met spent time trying to “cure me” and “solve the problem” I decided to take my alternate personality into my own control. Most people were convinced I would grow out of it, but I was told by an influential person, “Maybe you need to learn to live with her. Become comfortable with her and accept her.” I didn’t know what that meant.

I have a routine that has calmed me down and more importantly, calmed her down. I take four medicines that include two mood stabilizers. Medicine, like everything else she causes inside me, changes often. I have a few close people who can identify when I need to change medicines because the current ones have stopped helping. I’ve also learned to give her more of the attention she needs. I hear her and acknowledge her, but I can’t always agree with her. She has a well-intended heart, but a control problem. I am working each day to work on our temper and reactions. I am learning to make her verbalize what she needs. In turn, I am able to verbalize my feelings and why I am feeling a certain way. I can then relay these feeling to the few I am close with and they provide the reassurance, care and attention I need to get through her aggravating demands.

When all is said and done, I hope to come to terms with my disorder. Each day I have a decision to allow her into my life and accept her as part of my day. Every day is a journey, and sometimes a fight.

Even when she tells me otherwise, I am strong. I am important. I will make it.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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When People With Your Diagnosis Have Been Called 'the Devil'

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I was 23 when I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). I had been through this process before, diagnosed with something I didn’t quite agree with and feeling lost, another psychiatrist who hadn’t really listened to me and had cherry-picked certain aspects of my story in order to give a diagnosis.

But then I began to read about borderline personality disorder and for the first time it felt like I was reading about my own life. All the pieces began to fall into place and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. Finally, I had something to say, look, this is what has been going on all these years.

My emotions are nowhere near as bad as they were when I was a teenager; adulthood seems to have evened them out. But I still found myself going up and down like a yo-yo in a matter of hours.

Morning: wake up, positively suicidal.

Afternoon: take a nap, wake up feeling OK.

Evening: have dinner and sob into the plate about what a terrible person I am.

I couldn’t keep up. My partner was terrified watching me go up and down, bouncing all over the room with euphoria one minute before wrapping myself in a blanket and crying into my pillow about how I wished I was dead the next.

At my diagnosis I had 10 years of self-harm and at least seven suicide attempts behind me, the last one being what propelled me to see a psychiatrist this time, for my second trip into a psychiatric ward. Not all of them were genuine attempts, most were cries for help — please look at me and see something is not right here.

But looking through the list of borderline personality disorder symptoms, I can’t help but feel not all of them apply to me. Yes, there are people with BPD who can be verbally abusive, sometimes escalating to psychological and physical abuse. But there are also quieter, more internalized sufferers of this illness, afraid to speak out about their disease because of the stigma surrounding it. It’s frightening for someone who struggles with it on a day-to-day basis to see the vitriol and hate that exists out there.

I’ve heard someone say, “Mental health problems are legitimate issues and need to be focused on, people with depression and anxiety need to be given help. But not BPD, a person with BPD isn’t even really a person, they exist solely to destroy those around them.” I’ve seen people refer to sufferers of the illness as “it” or call them the devil.

But that stereotype doesn’t apply to me. Not everyone who has BPD is the same. For exampleI’m not the kind of person who will continuously text or call someone because I am afraid they will abandon me, although the fear of abandonment is there

It’s been a year since I received my diagnosis and I am no closer to recovery, or understanding it any better, as my city doesn’t have any dialectical behavioral therapy, which is used to treat BPD. I’ve come to terms with the diagnosis but still find myself reluctant to tell others for fear of the stigma, or being ostracized from my social group. I was put on medication that was meant to help, but I still have a lot to figure out.

My BPD is not all of me, but it makes up a huge part. And that’s OK.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking the following: Were you diagnosed with your disease, disability and/or mental illness as an adult? Tell us about the moment you finally got your diagnosis. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Why I'm Happy to Be a Mother With Borderline Personality Disorder

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Having borderline personality disorder (BPD) certainly has its challenges. I’m overly emotional, fearful of abandonment and argumentative when I don’t need to be. I’m so sensitive that every hurt feeling feels like a swift stab to my stomach, hard to heal from and hard to forget. When my daughter was born, I feared my symptoms would affect how I treated her. Would I be easily angered? Would I be too sensitive to her cries of protest? I surprised myself, and let these benefits of being a mother with BPD take over instead.

1. I love my daughter intensely.

BPD has always caused my emotions to be more intense than normal. Sometimes these emotions are bad, but in the case of what I feel for my daughter, the emotion I experience is great and powerful love.

2. I am empathetic toward my daughter.

Not only do I feel my emotions strongly, I feel others’ emotions intensely, too. So, every skinned knee, every fight with her friends, every break up, I will feel what she feels and be able to help her get through it better than I would if I felt couldn’t feel her pain.

3. I am passionate about her interests 

Blocks, ballet, soccer, boys. As she grows she will develop different interests, and I will be excited about each and every one. I will be able to build with her, dance with her, cheer for her and talk with her with such enthusiasm that we will have not only a strong mother-daughter relationship, but a fun one, too.

4. I will be able to teach my daughter unwavering confidence.

Part of BPD can be having too much confidence — confidence that can either be risky or foolish. Part of managing my BPD has been to channel my confidence in positive ways like having a healthy body image, enjoying feelings of success in a realistic way and teaching my daughter these healthy means of confidence are essential for her as well.

5. I can show my daughter what it means to “shine.”

On my good days, which happen more than the bad, I am witty, charming and great with people. I note how I feel during these times and look forward to showing my daughter the benefit of sometimes being the life of the party, the one making people laugh and the person who is so easy to relate to that people seek her out.

BPD, at times, has made my life hell. I have had broken relationships all my life, hurt people I didn’t mean to hurt and have feared losing the peopleI love because of my actions. Becoming a mother has made me see my BPD in a new and more positive light, recognizing that my life doesn’t have to be all about being angry, crying at the littlest things or being upset with the wrong people. I’ve discovered the beauty that is my BPD and am going to share that beauty with my daughter so she can see the light and so she can shine like her mommy shines.

The Mighty is asking the following: Are you a mother with a disability or disease? What would you tell a new mother in your position? 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 Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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With Borderline Personality Disorder, All It Takes Is 1 Minute

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All it took was one minute.

My manager had kindly given me suggestions to improve in the workplace. Until that conversation, I had been peppy and had been doing what I thought was a good job. Apparently, someone else hadn’t thought that and had spoken to my manager about it. She’d sat me down, told me what the problem was, and how to improve.

All composure had broken in one minute.

Over the course of that shift, I broke down sobbing, rocking myself in the corner of the bathroom, had thoughts of self-injury and lost hope for my future. I emailed my therapist and my depression turned to rage as I vented about how unjust the complaint was, how stupid my coworkers were for not seeing how good I was and how I should just quit. By the end of my shift, the depression had returned. I sat in my car and contemplated driving off the third floor of the parking garage. My life was a failure, I concluded. Everyone hated me.

It doesn’t take much for that wave of emotion to knock me to my knees. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have difficulty with managing emotions. Any bit of criticism or praise can set off a long chain that can bewilder even the most sympathetic person.

Keeping any sort of friendship is difficult for me. Finding — and keeping — my husband was no small miracle. Even now, I worry I’m not good enough for him. Relationship instability is another intense issue for anyone with BPD. I constantly have to check myself when I’m around people to make sure that I’m being socially appropriate. When I do make a connection with anyone, I cling hard to that person until it unnerves them. When they start to pull away, I panic, apologize and do whatever I can to keep myself close to them. I remember vividly when I was in high school, a girl telling me that my constant apologizing was a huge turn-off for her. Of course, just saying that is enough to unleash the tsunami of emotions. Needless to say, relationships are a very delicate balancing act.

The problems associated with BPD have kept my life turbulent. I’m covered in scars from years of self-injury. I have two separate sojourns at two separate hospitals under my belt. I’ve attempted suicide four times. I can count on one hand the amount of jobs I’ve kept longer than a year. I’ve had times I’ve been so depressed I failed out of class. Impulsiveness has led to reckless and sometimes unsavory behaviors; spending money, sex, lying.

Finding that oasis of stability has been so, so hard. The incident I opened this article with happened just last week. I’m fortunate to have a rock in my husband, my therapist and a community I’m still struggling to integrate myself into. I find that opening up to my professors and close friends about my mental illness helps them to understand why I sometimes react the way I do, or why I sometimes disappear from life for a while. Still, I don’t announce my illness to the world. I’m not ashamed I have BPD, and I’ll freely admit it to anyone who asks about my scars.

However, my BPD does not define me, nor will I try to use it as an excuse. Someday, through therapy and my own personal strength, I hope to be able to regulate my own emotions. It’s a lofty goal for someone like me.

But starting that goal only takes one minute.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

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What I Wish People Knew About My Comorbid Mental Illnesses

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Comorbid disorders means disorders that are good friends. They pretty much come together to every party. In my 10 years of experience both working in the mental health system and being a patient in the mental health system, I’ve seen it’s fairly common.

Anxiety likes to bring her friend depression. Depression sometimes enjoys bringing alcohol or drug dependency. Eating disorders enjoys the company of obsessive compulsive disorder. You get the idea.

So when recently my diagnosis from one “official” disorder changed to three, it was hardly a surprise for me. But I think for people in my life who don’t understand how the brain works, it was.

I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and this is the thing I write about the most, and the thing that has given me the most response from friends, family, professionals and people suffering from the debilitating effects of this pervasive disorder. But I can’t forget the other disorders that are all very closely linked, but equally difficult to cope with.

Bipolar disorder is a disorder of the brain characterized by episodes of mania or hypomania and severe depression. Now, imagine, if you will, the intensity in which I feel my emotions, due to my BPD, running in a yearly bipolar cycle. The results are times when I feel indestructible and can do anything. In these moods, and under the effects of powerful delusions, I’ve booked backpacking trips across the world with no money, I’ve done things people would never dream of. Published a book, been internet famous, written three albums and released one of them on the market, and I’m only 28. Luckily for me this risky and expensive behavior has worked out most of the time. Whether it’s by blind luck or something else, I don’t know.

And that’s only when I’m up, which historically has been between six and 10 months of the year.

And you may be thinking, oh wow, that doesn’t sound so bad. But just imagine waking up after a long sleep to find out you’ve given yourself a financial obligation so huge you can’t possibly comprehend how you’re going to get out of it. That blind panic when you realize you owe people money you don’t have.

And when I hit rock bottom, which usually happens between September and December, a cycle I’ve tracked for the past 10 years, the other disorder comes into play. Schizotypal personality disorder. This is a fairly new diagnosis, with a new set of symptoms like psychosis. For me, this means hearing terrible voices from inside my own brain, having visions of horrible events both happening to me and to the people I love for days on end, until you feel you have to act upon them. Imagine being barraged by these visual images that you can’t switch off until you’re ready to snap.

Again, amplify that with my BPD, and my bipolar depression, and you might begin to understand how intense these crashes and peaks can be.

My life hasn’t been all bad. I can admit I’ve done some amazing things and I’m thankful for the life I’ve managed to lead, against all odds. But I’ve paid a high price. I’m almost impossible to have a relationship with, I find it incredibly difficult to connect to people and if I can, then I find it hard to continue that connection. My family life has suffered. My personal life has suffered. My professional life has suffered. And I’ve suffered.

But there is still hope for the future.

Through medication and intensive therapeutic intervention, I’m starting to build a future worth living. I’m starting to learn how to control those impulsive and disordered behaviors so I can become a healthier member of society.

And one day, soon I hope, I’ll be able to live a life of normality.

But until then all I can do is ride the rollercoaster and hold on as tight as I can.

It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. 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 Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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The Inner Monologue of Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

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I wake up with a sense of dread.

How is today going to go? How are my moods going to be? How are the people in my life going to act towards me today? How am I going to perceive the people in my life who interact with me today? Are they just being nice to me because they want something? Are they being condescending? Are they just pretending to care like everyone else? No one really loves me. How could they? I don’t even love myself. They tolerate me because I’m nice to them and I help them if needed. They can ask me to do anything and I will do it. I just want them to like me. I want everyone to like me.

I mean, why would anyone be mean to me?  How could anyone not like me? I go above and beyond for everyone. People are so ungrateful. Here I am, bending over backwards for these people and they couldn’t care less! I’m so done with them. I’m never helping them again. How hateful and terrible can someone be?? 

Wait, I haven’t heard back from them yet. They didn’t answer my text. Oh my gosh, they didn’t answer my phone call. They are avoiding me. They hate me. Oh no. I’ve ruined a good relationship again. Everyone hates me. I’m such a terrible person. I can’t handle them being mad at me. Oh no, I have to make this right. I can’t live without them. I can’t go on knowing they are mad at me. I’m so stupid. Why can’t I just be normal and get along with everyone! 

Oh never mind! They texted me back.

They want me to go to the store with them.

Really?

You ignore me and then you ask me to just get up and go to the store with you? What kind of person does that? I’m busy today anyway. I have to clean the house. It’s a total disaster because I’m a horrible homemaker. I can’t do anything right. I can’t cook, clean, take care of the kids, hold a job, finish school, be a good wife, etc. I’m just worthless really. What is the point in trying?

They aren’t responding to me now that I told them no anyway. Of course not. I told them no so now they aren’t going to talk to me until they need me again the next time. Why do I keep trying to make them happy? They are so terrible. I’m so done talking to them. All they want is for me to be around to do things for them. What kind of relationship is that?

I’m just going to text them about something funny and unrelated and see if they respond. If they don’t, I don’t even care! I am done trying.

Oh my gosh they didn’t answer. Crap. They hate me. I should have just said I would do it. I am so awful. What is wrong with me? They just needed someone to hang out with. I should have been there. No wonder everyone hates me. They would all be better off without me here.

My life is a series of questions and reactions in my head. All day long, until I finally fall asleep in complete exhaustion from constantly going back and forth between happy and completely debilitated by emotion. A life with borderline personality disorder is not just someone trying to get attention. Most of this never even leaves my head. It’s a constant battle inside my own head about whether or not I’m worth living another day.

I’m Katie. I’m a 30-year-old mother of three. I have bipolar I and borderline personality disorder. This is just a glimpse at what goes through my head in a regular day. It has nothing to do with anyone else — and yet everything to do with them at the same time.

Follow this journey on Relax and Enjoy and the Crazy.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. 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 Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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