After seven-plus years of waiting, wondering, hopelessness and confusion, I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Although I have several other mental illnesses that coincide with BPD, I identify most with this unpredictable illness.
Here are 10 things I needed to hear the day I vividly remember hearing the life-changing words, “You have borderline personality disorder.”
1. This is not a death sentence. You will have to make adjustments and they will be hard, but you can make it through this…I promise.
2. It will be a long journey to find the right combination of meds and therapy. Don’t give up. There are thousands of medications and many therapies out there. Stick with it, no matter how bad the meds make you feel.
3. Speaking of therapy, it may not “work” at first. You will have to find a therapist you feel comfortable with and trust or it won’t work. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle that is BPD.
4. This diagnosis can feel like both a blessing and a curse at times. You feel all emotions intensely, including the good ones. You will face depression, anxiety and all the negative feelings with excruciating intensity. But you will love with passion, experience euphoric happiness and care deeply for others.
5. There will be hard days — very hard days. You will feel lower than dirt, but hold on. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your body and mind are temples; treat them as such. Take time to play, get away and do things that fill your soul. Yes, you are worth it — yes, you deserve it — and yes, this is crucial to staying alive. There will be days where all you can do is eat and breathe. Even those are victories.
6. You may need to take time off work, or you may not be able to work during especially difficult periods. Embrace this time as part of your self-care and refuse to feel guilty or less than for needing the break.
7. You may lose some friends and family. They may come back, but some may not. This will hurt profoundly. However, if they truly love you, you will learn and grow together. Your relationships with them will strengthen, and things about you they did not understand before will begin to make sense. Cut ties with those who choose not to believe you or treat you with the love and respect you deserve.
8. This amazing thing will eventually happen if you can find the courage to keep an open heart. The right people will come into your life and fill the voids left by those you lost. These people will form your support system, and together you will fight, love and celebrate. They will speak truths over you, hold you and cry with you. They will say things you don’t like and probably will make you do things you don’t want to do (like taking showers and leaving the house), but this team will save your life again and again, literally.
9. Most likely you will hear many insensitive remarks like, “You’re so dramatic” and “You take everything so personally.” Work on your reactions to these negative words and learn how to “practice the pause” — pause to breathe, to think, to bring to mind those truths you have learned from experience and your team, and then pause again before deciding if the comment even warrants a reply.
10. It is OK. You will be OK. Your story is beautiful and meaningful. Hang in there, you amazing warrior, you.
Fighting and surviving for almost 10 years — I am living proof.
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