I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It affects four main areas of my life:
1. Emotional irregularity.
BPD is exhausting and confusing to live with. I’m never sure whether to trust my emotions, if they’re justified or if I’m just overreacting. My moods are mostly always triggered by something in my environment, but if something good happens five minutes later I’ll immediately feel euphoric.
Every emotion I feel is amplified. They can change at the drop of a hat and can last only minutes or hours. When I am in a severe crisis, where I am experiencing intense emotions, I will sometimes dissociate to deal with it. It will feel as if the situation isn’t actually real and I’m watching myself from outside of my body.
I have had difficulty controlling my anger and have often succumbed to attacks of extreme rage, throwing things, screaming or crying. It is usually very inappropriate for the situation and I can be very sarcastic and bitter. It is during these episodes of rage I am most likely to intentionally hurt myself. I am much more in control of this symptom now with the help of medication, but I still have my moments. I also usually feel very internally restless, like something is missing. I get bored extremely easily and sometimes feel like a hollow shell. I never have a sense of fulfillment.
2. Unstable relationships.
I am very sensitive to what I perceive as rejection. I’m convinced people hate me and/or are just going to leave me eventually. I will do whatever it takes to stop people from leaving me. I will even unintentionally manipulate the person without being aware I’m doing it. I also alternate between idealizing people relatively quickly, and then devaluing them just as fast because of a perceived slight.
I take everything personally, so my relationships with others are usually very strained. I can also get paranoid and suspicious in close relationships with people. I will subconsciously try to sabotage my relationships because I am terrified people will hurt me. I will reject people before they can reject me, or even test them to see how much they care about me.
Obviously this behavior will drive some people away. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course, I don’t actually want to end things, but I literally cannot cope with being hurt. So I’m trying to protect myself at all costs. Everything I do is protecting myself somehow. I know you have to let yourself be vulnerable in a relationship, but I can’t afford to do that. The risk is too great.
3. Impulsive behavior.
Because of my dual diagnosis of ADHD, my impulsivity is through the roof. I don’t think before I speak or act, and I will engage in dangerous behaviors like driving recklessly, spending more than I can afford, alcohol abuse and sabotaging success, especially when I’m upset. This kind of behavior has gotten me arrested twice. I struggle a lot with this area. I will sometimes impulsively make suicidal gestures and threats in response to perceived rejection or abandonment.
4. Identity disturbance.
I’m not sure who I am or who I should be. BPD tells me constantly I’m worthless, unlovable and my friends and family secretly hate me. Even though I rationally know this is not true, the voice is so loud and convincing. My self-esteem is very fluctuating and I can yo-yo back and forth between being very confident to feeling inferior. I am a chameleon and usually take on the personalities of those I am around. People with BPD look to others to provide things they find difficult to supply for themselves, such as self-esteem, approval and a sense of identity.
Another aspect of BPD that affects me is perfectionism. I am extremely hard on myself and hold myself to unattainable expectations, accepting nothing less than what I deem as perfection. If I don’t succeed in reaching these obnoxiously high standards, I will fly into a flurry of anxiety, rage at myself, depression and frustration. People with BPD desperately seek validation and approval from others because it determines our self-worth. If we are “perfect” in all dimensions, only then will we have unequivocal evidence we are worth something.
Despite all of the above setbacks, I still believe I am a good person with many positive traits. I am passionate, spontaneous, empathetic, devoted, loyal, creative, determined, flexible, brave, charming, intelligent and resilient. I am much more than my illness, and I refuse to let it control me.