Finding Purpose in My Borderline Personality Disorder
Sometimes, I find it quite astonishing I’m here today, sitting in my room and looking back all the things I accomplished when I didn’t think I was going to be alive. Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is like that. You are constantly waiting on edge for another thing to just throw you off balance.
Friends say you are up and down. Work managers use a “wave” hand gesture to describe your emotions. Partners don’t want to talk to you as you are too emotionally-draining from the scenarios you are assuming will happen and making up in your head.
I was first diagnosed when I was 17 years old. I had no understanding of BPD and what the term meant. All I knew at that stage was I wanted to end my life, as the emotional pain I was experiencing was unbearable. I felt like I couldn’t stabilize anything, whether it was work, sports, family and friends. I felt isolated and like no one wanted me around. That is the first time I knew I was experiencing chronic emptiness.
As I got older, I learned how to present this happy, go lucky mask so people would want me around and wouldn’t have to worry about me all the time. What people don’t know is that this mask eventually comes off and I crumble, which will end with the frequent-self mutilating episodes and suicide ideation.
When I let people in, I would push them away, even though it was the closeness I craved. I wanted them to just understand me instead of always questioning and judging my behaviors. People would label me and define me because they couldn’t psychically see the emotional pain I was in. It seems when people don’t see it, they don’t believe it.
While people get other bad news and will go about their day, I will receive bad news I’ll carry for weeks or months. It depends not on the depth of care and love I had for this person or thing. I can’t shut the feelings out as it results in me becoming numb, and when I become numb I want to feel something. When I become numb, I often seek for that thing to make me feel again. There is no in between.
Relationships come and go with me. I am lucky enough to be highly emotionally intelligent, where I can talk things out and see another perspective. I also can feel what my partner is feeling at the time, and I will take on their pain too. In the past, I have entered relationships where I know I wasn’t respected and where I was viewed as the issue, even though logically I knew I wasn’t. Due to the voice in my head, which often tells me I am worthless and hopeless, I will start to believe in that again.
It’s an exhausting way to live. In my old relationships, the partner has always viewed my suicide ideation as a way to get them to stay. This isn’t the case. Being highly sensitive to the treatment I received is what made me feel that way, as well as my past abuse. Putting all this aside, this year I found out a reason to stay here. I was always so scared to open up until I realized the only thing that was going to save me was opening up to people. I started a blog to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding BPD. I also work for organizations such as Suicide Prevention Australia and Borderline Personality Disorder Foundation as a lived experience talker.
What made me survive was meeting people who have had similar experiences. I have listened to parents talk about the pain and grief that came from losing a child to suicide. When I heard that, I knew I had to stay alive so I can help these types of people. They made me feel like I had a purpose for once in my life. For once in my life, I realized I am living proof it does get better, even in near death situations. I still ride the wave of the emotional tsunami my life throws at me.
I think I have the resilience, knowledge and awareness to know when I am OK and when I am not. Some days, I still pretend I am OK but that always results in an episode. So when I have a reason to be upset, I will show people and explain to them why I am. The right people in my life who love and care about me understand and accept why I am. I am still learning to ignore the people who are ignorant and who really don’t understand the dangers that come with living with BPD.
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