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 example, I’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.