Quite often people have asked me what it is like living with my borderline personality disorder (BPD). They really have very little idea in regards to what it actually means. They are under the impression I am “borderline,” so I am “sort of” in the middle of having a personality disorder. Not a full blown disorder, but not quite “normal” either. I don’t fault any of them for thinking this way, as society has historically mystified, shamed and driven any talk of mental illness into the deepest, darkest depths. Out of sight… out of mind.
In truth, I am not trying to be flippant or judgmental. Not at all. This is the stigma surrounding mental health. Nevertheless, I am quite happy to say I do believe the tide is turning. There is a movement afoot to end the stigma and support those who have been shunned in the past. In an effort to support such a movement I have recorded what a typical day in my life has been like living with BPD. My hope is of course to bring heightened awareness… not scorn or pity. This is a typical day in a “down” period. I am undergoing recovery now so I am happy to say my downs are more balanced with better times. Just a warning, what I’ve written below could be triggering for people.
I wake up after a fitful night’s sleep. Actually, to call it sleep would be an oxymoron. I have awakened more tired than when I first put my head on the pillow. I am exhausted and sweating. My mind has been in turmoil all night long. I may have gotten some sleep, but there was no rest. I look out the cracked window in my room and see the people below scurrying around like ants. They all seem to have somewhere to go, someone to see… a purpose. I turn and look down at the scars on my wrists and thighs. I sigh heavily; it is another day. I choke back my meds with a glass of warm water and thus begin the daily routine.
On my way to class I have this overwhelming feeling of dark oppression combined with uncontrollable dancing butterflies in my stomach. I feel nauseous. My legs feel as if they are just going to give way. I stop and sit down on the curb for a minute to try and catch my breath. A group of young people walk by looking down at me. I am sure they are laughing at me. What’s their problem? I look at my anchor tattoo. It somehow gives me a feeling of momentary peace. I struggle up and start walking towards my class again. The peace does not last long. As I am walking I have no idea why everyone is staring at me… but it is really starting to get irritating. A rage begins to swell inside me. Every noise on the street reverberates through my head like a runaway locomotive. Head pounding, palms sweating, stomach churning. I feel a floating sensation and no longer really have any idea of where I am going. The voices are talking to me again… telling me I am worthless and useless and that is the reason nobody ever stays with me. I sit down again holding my aching head in my hands.
After a while I manage to recollect myself. I have driven the voices away for now. However, there is simply no way I will be attending class today. Waves of exhaustion have overtaken me. I manage to find my way back to my apartment. I flop down onto the bed totally disgusted with myself. I rise and go over to the refrigerator and grab a bag of ice to hold tightly. I need the distraction. I go over to the sink and splash cold water on my face… then again. I want to call my parents to let them know I did not make it to class again, but I realize that won’t end well. They will get angry with me. I can almost hear it now: You were fine yesterday! Why can’t you hold it together for more than one day at least?” This conversation will inevitably end with me screaming, crying and hanging the phone up. No need to bother with that… too tired anyways. I glance over at pictures of some of my friends on the wall. I don’t see most of them anymore. They have pretty much left me. Who could blame them? I lie down again and drift to sleep.
I wake up after a few hours, covered in sweat again. I feel some hunger but really don’t know for what. If I eat something there is no chance I will keep it down. I am starting to wonder if I need to go back to the hospital. However, I already know what they will say. “You have to work through this. There is nothing that we can do for you anymore.” That is usually accompanied by a roll of the eyes and a wave of the hand. A true outcast. I reach for my bottle of vodka and light a cigarette. Tomorrow is another day.
My message to society would be to never judge that person on the street; you really don’t know anything about them or the battles they may have fought to get as far as that curb on the road.
Follow this journey on Revolving of Doors.