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What ‘I’m Tired’ Means to Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

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Everyone procrastinates. We do it when we would rather watch a movie or read a book than start that work project, when we would rather go out with friends for coffee than start cleaning the house or when we would rather listen to music and relax on the couch than fixing whatever needs to be done around the house. It is human nature, but we get ourselves out of it rather quickly and tackle the task at hand with full force.

However, when I procrastinate it is not because I don’t feel like it or would rather be doing something else. It is because I simply cannot get myself to function and find inspiration to do anything. It is so much more than procrastination. It is the fact that I am too tired to exist. I’m not tired because I stayed up late working on something profound. I’m not tired because I had a great night out with friends. No, I am tired of being me.

Living with borderline personality disorder, I am in a constant love-hate relationship with myself and those I care about the most. One moment I absolute love my life and the challenges I face and the next I hate everything. I hate myself for being weak and pathetic, and I struggle to comprehend who could possible love this piece of work. I expect, no, I actually welcome, loved ones leaving me because if I can’t even live with myself how can they?

I am tired because it is a battle between good and evil every.single.day. I am constantly trying to find an equilibrium, a sanctuary for the ghosts that haunt me. I am yearning for a moment in time when the voices in my head will just stop — that they will stop saying I am worthless, I am not good enough, I am a failure, I am weak, I am alone, I am a burden, I am ugly, I am fat, I am old, I am a lost cause, I will never amount to anything… These voices tell me this is the truth about myself and there is nothing I can do to change it. The people around me will soon find out what a fraud I am and leave me. I try to act out and supply them with reasons to leave because if they do at least I know I was right and actually did them a favor. However, if they don’t leave, I have a predicament. I don’t want to be alone, but I cannot bear to put my loved ones through the upset I face every day. At this point the only way out is to eliminate the chaos and stop being a burden, and the battle in my mind continues.

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How can I think about suicide if I have so much to be thankful for? If I do this how will it affect those around me (I am “so selfish!”)? “Giving up” feels like showing what a failure I am and that I cannot handle pressure. To make this turbulence stop, I reach for those pills and swallow as quickly as I can before the voices fight again.

And then I wake up in the hospital. I didn’t die. People say I “survived,” but if they knew the constant war going on inside my mind, they may not see me as a survivor. They will understand what I mean when I say, “I am tired.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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When a Doctor Said My Borderline Personality Diagnosis Was Wrong

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Back in May, I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. I had spent most of that afternoon in the emergency room until I was sent via ambulance to a hospital where they could better help me and provide inpatient services. I did not want to go at all. In fact, I fought my parents for allowing the ER doctor to send me away.

I got to the hospital and was ready to hate everything there. My eyes were threatening to release tidal waves of tears again. And before I knew it, I was in my bed, listening to the steady breathing of my roommate, wondering how on earth I was going to survive there.

I woke up the next day with my eyes red and puffy, too scared to speak to anyone. But I was lucky. My roommate immediately initiated conversation with me and introduced me to all her friends, and soon enough, I didn’t feel so out of place. I was ready to go at all the therapy sessions with my best efforts.

I was soon assigned many people to care for my needs. Each day, I was assigned a new nurse to answer any questions I had and to look after my general health. I was even assigned to my own psychiatrist. I wished I could’ve met with the psychiatrist I already had worked with at that hospital, but she was too busy.

So, I started over with a new psychiatrist. And although I was nervous to go over the same old questions and pour out my whole life to him, he seemed nice enough. I began to relax around him, and I actually enjoyed meeting with him.

We began talking about what I was struggling with, and I told him everything. I even brought up my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which was given to me only a few months before my hospitalization by two people on my mental health care team. I had never heard of that mental illness before, but it made sense and matched up with a lot of my behaviors and thought patterns.

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I was waiting for him to explain further when he cut me off.

“You don’t have borderline personality disorder.”

Wait, what? I had been told by two people that I had BPD, and now apparently I didn’t? It made no sense to me, so I asked him if he was sure.

“My therapist and other psychiatrist told me I do,” I pointed out.

“Well, you don’t. Borderline personality disorder is found in adults and in those who have had a past of abuse. You don’t match up to either of those two standards for this diagnosis.”

“Oh.” That was all I could utter. I felt ashamed. He probably thought I was stupid for matching up some of my behavioral patterns with a diagnosis I didn’t even have. He probably thought I was just some naive teenager trying to find something to blame my problems on. He probably thought I was pathetic.

And after that conversation, I thought I was pathetic too.

I was furious — not even at him. I was furious at my therapist and other psychiatrist for making me look stupid. I was mad I was working so hard in therapy for a mental illness I didn’t even have. So I pushed away that diagnosis.

When my mom visited, I told her I didn’t have BPD. She was confused just like I had been. She was a little annoyed that the doctor had disregarded a diagnosis because unlike most of the people with the diagnosis, I wasn’t an adult or abused. I didn’t really care. I decided he was right and I shouldn’t acknowledge that as a diagnosis anymore.

After my release, I didn’t work as hard in therapy. I became stubborn. And my therapist noticed. I told her there was no point in me working so hard because I didn’t have BPD.

For the longest time, I remembered that doctor’s words and associated the embarrassment and shame with them. I’d believed him. Until recently.

My mom attended a conference about borderline personality disorder in teenagers. And it’s not uncommon, although that doctor made it sound like it was. Plus, you do not have to be abused to have this disorder.

So, what’s up with that? The doctor wasn’t up-to-date on new research. My mom wrote the hospital a letter, giving them the opportunity to attend the conference as well so they could have more recent research.

All this experience with this doctor did was make me take a massive step backwards in my progress, which is not what I needed at the time. I ultimately had to return to the hospital two months later.

I don’t know if he went to the conference, but I do know how little he made me feel when he totally disregarded my diagnosis. All I can do is hope he looks into newer research so nobody else has to feel as little and ashamed as I did nor lose crucial progress in their therapy.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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When You Don’t Know Which Version of You Is the Real You

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Imagine having this thought on a daily basis: Who am I?

I don’t mean it in some round-about philosophical way. I mean literally. Imagine not knowing who you really are. There’s a point in each day of my life that this strange question intrudes my thoughts.

I am so many different things. I shift so many times in a day to keep up with the different people who surround me I don’t know which “version” is the real me.

See, this is one aspect of borderline personality disorder which is often missed. Like most things, not every one with the condition will experience this. Yet, for me, it is one of my biggest (and often, most unbearable) symptoms.

If my best friends are drinking, then I’ll be a binge drinker. I’ll live for the weekends, dance nights away and spend the following week recovering from a hangover.

If I’m with my musician friends, then I’ll be a musician too. I can ramble on about practice, technique and gigs for hours.

If I spend the day with my work colleagues, then I’ll listen to them talk about their grown children and grandchildren. I’ll try to find a way to join in the conversation, talking about my goddaughter or young cousins.

The list goes on.

Everyone thinks I am someone who I’m not. It is utterly exhausting sometimes trying to keep up with who each person/group thinks I am.

The worst part, though? It has to be the fact that I’ve created so many different “versions” of me that I can no longer identify what I’m actually like as a person. I don’t know my own personality. I struggle to find my own interests. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I dislike because everything changes depending on who I’m with.

Does that make me fake?

No, because it’s OK to take some time to find yourself. When you eventually do, it’s OK if not everyone likes you. I’m still trying to get the hang of that concept myself, but one day, I hope I will confidently be able to say, “I am me,” and that will be just enough.

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When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Feel Unworthy of Relationships

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Relationships in the best of circumstances can be tricky waters to navigate. They require not a captain and a first mate, but two co-captains, who are not only plotting out a similar course but are willing to stick together when the tides change their direction. Surviving childhood sexual abuse leaves emotional scars that can twist your views and feelings on life and relationships, and the after-effects tend to weave their way into various areas of your life, often on a subconscious level. One of the main attributes of borderline personality disorder (BPD), aside from the intense fear of abandonment, can be a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. For me, the combination of the two is like being a one-eyed captain trying to navigate the seas on a raft, with no compass and a map in Latin. In dealing with both of these things, I had to self-protect in order to survive — and my coping mechanisms involved shutting down, among many things, trust and love.

That being said, living behind that wall of safety can also limit both our life experiences and the corresponding emotions. We may miss out on a lot because we are lacking in confidence, and remaining behind our wall in our comfort zone can seem a lot easier than facing the unknown fears outside. In my mind, it is a matter of weighing out risk versus reward. Is the risk worth the (in my mind) inevitable pain that will come at some point? I also tend to compare if this impending pain could be worse than something I have already been through, again trying to measure out the risk, and when emotionally rational, I realize there is very little in life that could traumatize me any more than what has already occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, that by no means implies I have broken down my wall and jumped head first into my fears. It is more a case of taking down a few bricks at a time, enough to sneak out, but leaving those bricks within arm’s reach in case we need to rebuild in a hurry.

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Being a survivor, I carry with me a sense of shame, a lack of trust and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being a “burden.” I have major attachment issues, which are severely increased in intensity with the BPD — and the combination of that, depression and anxiety leaves me feeling almost unworthy of a relationship. How could I weigh someone down with my baggage and complexities without feeling guilty, or expect someone to put up with the frequent and extreme mood swings that come with BPD? If I feel all these negative things about myself, how could they not be clear and apparent to someone else — or is it me projecting my thoughts onto somebody else? Do I even know how to love properly, or can I trust enough to let someone pass through the door in my wall? Am I just too messed up to be loved? All those things have run through my mind so often and for so long they have become true to my emotive mind. And so I deem myself unworthy of a relationship, and by convincing myself of this, it becomes my reality. It is shoved to the back of my mind as a truth that no longer needs to be dealt with. After all, there are more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

Life tends to throw things our way at the most unexpected times. I find it happens often in therapy, where you think you have done the work to get past an issue, and boom, there it is in your face again, and all you can hope is to put some of the new coping mechanisms into action before the innate instincts of self-protectiveness take over. So after having spent the last few years convincing myself I would be alone for life, suddenly someone walks right on in. At first, I don’t take anyone’s interest in me seriously, because I can be a convincing outside package, but when they find out the truth about my emotional instability and traumatic past, they don’t stick around anyway. In the past, I have tried to hide it, but one can only mask their true identity for so long. So this time I decided I would just get it over with up front — part of the basics: “I love soccer, animals, ice cream, and I am diagnosed with more mental health issues than you can count on one hand.” After my spew, I put my phone down, fully expecting that — like with everyone else — that would raise enough red flags to have her running in the opposite direction. Instead, the conversation continues. She starts asking questions about BPD, and every answer I give her comes with no reply of shock or judgment.

The longer we talk, the more she asks, and although she may not understand everything, she seems to be accepting it, which is amazing. But it also sets off my BPD abandonment issue; the closer they get, the more it will hurt when they leave. It also raises red flags with the survivor part of me that has yet to develop a proper sense of self-worth. So as the days pass, some of my past comes out, and again it is met with understanding and empathy rather than intolerance and apathy, which brings both a sense of ease and fear to the table. Ease because the comfort level has almost a sense of familiarity to it, like you have known each other for years, and the fear because the closeness is completely overwhelming. Taking a few bricks out of my wall was the plan, but now there’s a full door, someone standing at it and not leaving.

I would like to say after all the therapies, workbooks and readings, I employed all my acquired and practiced coping mechanisms and am dealing with the situation in a rational manner with a level sense of emotion, but that would be untrue. Instinct and BPD took over in full force, and although I tried to fight it, it carries the same comfort and familiarity as that favorite old sweatshirt you just can’t let go of yet. BPD has this fabulous quality that can in essence make you test people as a child would test their parents, almost a form of “go away, you are too close” to “please don’t leave me.” And as with most everything else BPD-related, these emotions can bounce around five times a day or 100 times a day, with almost incalculable speeds.

So I push her away, thinking every time will be the last. And she stays, so I pull her closer, and the cycle repeats. I discount the positive things she says about me, and she patiently reinforces them without hesitation. BPD can also include this fantastic trait of impulsivity, which for me, is primarily verbal. When my words precede my thoughts, she doesn’t get angry, but rather quietly listens and asks to learn more about BPD and depression. I figure if I tell her about the suicide attempts and constant thoughts as well as the history of cutting, that will be her breaking point and she will definitely leave. But instead, she says she is sorry I had to go through all that and allows me to express the ideations at my darkest moments, without fear of judgment. My mind is spinning. This is not how life works for me.

Fast-forward to today, and even with a countless number of tests, the rounds of verbal impulsivity and the rest of the issues that come with my mental illnesses, she remains, and despite the inconvenient circumstances which I will not get into, she makes sure I wake up to a morning text and go to sleep with a sweet goodnight. Despite the physical distance and her hectic schedule, she makes an effort to spend time with me and is always willing to provide an ear to listen or kind words of support. I have only ever had this depth of relationship once before, many years ago, and she remains my best friend to this day. I am trying again to learn to accept love, to believe I am worthy of it, and to grasp the idea that someone sees not what I think of myself but the things I can no longer see. And as much as the BPD is screaming at me to push and pull, I am trying to recognize when my emotive mind has taken over so perhaps I can control the impulses a bit better.

This is a big risk for me, letting someone get this close, allowing vulnerability and trust, all while trying to put a muffle on the BPD, which is screaming about fear of being left yet again. That being said, being a minimizer, I convince myself the possible impending hurt of being left can’t be worse than the other traumas I have endured to this point in my life. My instincts (my gut feelings) have kept me alive this long, and if they are saying take a chance, then I follow that path. After all, the heart truly is a remarkably resilient organ.

I hope she knows how appreciated and cared for she is, and how thankful I am for her support, patience and understanding, and for choosing me and following me down this often dark and unpaved road when she easily could have exited and taken the highway.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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When You Don’t Know Who You’ll Be Anymore After Recovering From BPD

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I identify as borderline more than anything else. More than being a woman, bisexual, a daughter, an aunt or a sister. Before I am anything else I consider myself borderline.

I think that’s why recovery scares me so much. What will I be if I’m not borderline anymore? I have a lot of identifiers — as we all do — but borderline is the one I feel is most true.

Everything I have ever done is because I’m borderline. Every lie, every cut, every attempt, every cheat, every broken heart, every sexual encounter and all 10 years of treatment. At the end of the day, every move I make can be explained by this disorder.

I spend all day in borderline thought cycles. The what ifs, the maybes, the whys, the yes’s, the no’s. Every time I agree to go somewhere or decide to bail. Every decision I make is thought through the borderline pathways in my brain. It’s all ingrained.

What would I be without that? Without those pathways? Would I be “normal?” Would I have decent thoughts? Self esteem? Hope?

Would I need therapy? Could I handle crisis? What is handling crisis? Would I finish school? Could I finish school? Would I achieve my dream of being a therapist? Would I even want to do that anymore?

Recovery leaves everything unknown. Recovery means starting over new and making new paths. And that is terrifying.

All the work and effort it would take, can I even do that?

Do I even want to?

I think starting new would be scary for anybody, but recovery means leaving the only person I know how to be.

How does a person do that?

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3 Ways I Struggle With My Borderline Personality Disorder

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Although borderline personality disorder (BPD) seems to be becoming a more commonly diagnosed mental illness, it continues to be misunderstood. Perhaps its increasing diagnostic frequency is due to the wide range of symptoms it can present. At some point in time in many people’s lives, I am sure they have exhibited a trait or two off the list of BPD criteria. I have all but one, and the symptoms and mannerisms are not once in a while but every minute I am awake. So in an effort to enlighten as many people as possible, I am going to share some of my personal experiences related to the recognized symptoms of BPD.

1. Impulsive and risky behavior

Borderline personality disorder often means a life of extremes where we bounce from happiness to sadness, each emotion felt at a level of great intensity. Impulsivity is the tendency to act with little regard for restraint and without considering the consequences. For many people affected by BPD, these bouts of impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors tend to go along with the periods when we are at the extreme top end of the scale. The BPD symptoms of impulsivity can present in many ways, but some of the most common are:

I have an addictive personality by nature and genetics. I have been through a gamut of both recreational and prescription drugs, becoming addicted to a few different things along the way. My drug addictions were all short-term, and I was able to “control” them by replacing the heavier substance with a lighter one until I was weaned off one and addicted to a lighter drug — the supposed premise being that I replace the more damaging substance with something less harmful. In many cases, however, until the source of the addictive behavior itself is identified and dealt with, the addiction will linger.

I also struggle with self-harm and suicidal thoughts and have done so for the majority of my life. My body tells a story with its scars; each one tells a tale, and I wish I could tell you I remember what they all represent and why they are there, but those memories are limited to only a few. The common denominator, though, is the instigation factor: rejection. Whether it is evident or perceived, it feels completely real to me. The suicidal thoughts become so heavy I feel like I am anchored to the bottom of the ocean floor, dark and drowning. I have learned to allow myself to have those thoughts and feel the corresponding emotions, as fighting them only seems to increase the urge. I will say although I may not have control over these thoughts, I have learned to make sure they stay thoughts and do not turn into actions.

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2. Unstable and poorly regulated emotions

BPD can feel like having your emotions on constant sensory overload, or like being in the eye of an emotional hurricane. Regardless of which emotion, the intensity can present at a level that is almost indescribable. The best comparison I can think of is… imagine your most devastating moment of grief, pain, or anger, double it and live with it daily. My feelings can get so intense I feel like the only way to deal with them without physically hurting myself or verbally abusing others is to shut down emotionally or dissociate from those feelings. It has been a safety method I have resorted to since before I can remember and a skill I have yet to let go of.

Adding to the intensity and instability of my emotions is the frequency with which they occur. On a good day, I am lucky to have only three or four mood swings, ranging from anger to tears, lasting maybe 15 minutes to an hour each time. On a bad day, I can expect at least double that amount and the length of time varying so much it is too difficult to keep track of. It is like living in a state of hypo- or hyper-arousal every single day, which on paper might look like the ups and downs of an unstable heart on a heart monitor. The lines go way up then drop way down with no real predictable pattern.

So now I am rampant with intense emotions, bouncing from feeling OK to being severely depressed — emotions I can barely understand, and yet I am expected to have complete control over them. I am working through therapy to try and get a grasp on them, and I will admit my defeats far outnumber my victories in this category.

3. A pattern of unstable relationships

Given what has already been mentioned above, there is probably no surprise that people with BPD can tend to have great difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships. My relationships may be very intense, unstable, and alternate between the extremes of over-idealizing and undervaluing people who are important to me. It stems from fear of rejection and abandonment and encompasses a whole lot of push and pull and testing — almost like a child would test a parent, to see if he/she is just another person who will leave. I lost a lot of friends due to this aspect of my illness, as it can be difficult to understand why one day I am their best friend and the next I’m pushing them away, simply to see if they will come back. If you do this enough times, many people don’t come back, as they simply can’t handle the emotional whirlwind. For me, it makes perfect sense. I have to test over and over, and if you come back, I am able to build trust. I guess this is why I have very few friends and trust very few people.

This pattern of unstable relationships is not only confined to friends, but affects family, co-workers and just about anyone I come into contact with for any extended period of time. I am always so afraid people will leave that in order to maintain some control, it is easier if I make them leave and they don’t do it on their own accord. It makes socializing with friends and family terribly difficult and establishing relations with co-workers just as hard. As my resume would indicate, I have a hard time holding a job for more than a few years as the random emotional outbursts are generally not welcomed in a workplace.

Being social and wanting to have people to love and who love you is a part of human nature. It is something I desperately crave, yet at the same time, doing so leaves me vulnerable, which usually ends in me getting hurt. It feels like the proverbial being stuck “between a rock and a hard place” and simply not yet having the skills or tools to dig myself out.

I continue to try a bit more each day. I try to be conscious of my push and pull and attempt to lessen the number of times it occurs. I try different techniques so my anger does not unleash its fury instantly. I try to limit the amount of time I allow myself to feel suicidal, not that it always works, but the effort is there. BPD is a constant learning experience, and it’s a good thing I am up to the challenge.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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