The Reality of an Often Overlooked Symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder


Some days I look in the mirror and I have no idea who’s staring back at me. Logically, yes, I know I am looking at myself, but I have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Some days, I can’t reconcile the person in the mirror as the person who I am.

Often, I try to combat this by changing my appearance in quite drastic ways. Impulsively, I chop off my hair, get a new piercing or radically change my fashion and style. There are periods of my life where no matter what I alter about myself, I still don’t feel like I’m me.

This is really difficult. I think we take for granted that everyone has a “sense of the self,” a knowledge that the body they dress and makeup is the body they see when they look in the bathroom mirror. For someone living with BPD, an unstable sense of who you are is integral to this illness. Yet, I’ve noticed it lacks the literature and information that some of the more widely-understood symptoms have.

This lack of connection to the idea of “self” is not just limited to physical and aesthetical attributes. Most of the time, I have no idea who I am. I feel like I am completely and utterly false, getting through life by creating a mental checklist of things to reel off when someone asks me about myself. Without this list to tick off, ask me to talk about myself and I can’t. Ask me what I enjoy doing in my free time, and I have no idea. Ask me to tell you more about my personality, and I’ll draw a blank.

This is the reality of this often overlooked symptom of BPD. It’s time we start talking about it. Its consequences, such as dissociation or self-hatred, can be detrimental to our stability, mood and overall mental well-being.

Coming to terms with our identity and sense of self as someone with BPD is not easy, but as clichéd as it may sound, recovery is not a destination but a journey. The more discussions we have around this sometimes ignored BPD trait, the easier it will be for us to one day achieve greater stability of our identities.

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