The Calm After the Storm of Borderline Personality Disorder

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As hard as it is, as many of you already know, dealing with borderline personality disorder (BPD) is absolutely exhausting. I’d like to invite you to share with me in the space I’m going to refer to as “the calm after the storm.” It’s been four years since I got my BPD diagnosis. Since then, I have gone through books, documentaries, therapy and multiple other related subjects that helped me find practices and concepts to understand and help myself during periods of crisis. Much research has been done, and with it came new possibilities for me to take control over mental and emotional turmoil. Nonetheless, I am still not a master of these skills.

I couldn’t sleep last night. In fact, I haven’t had a good night of solid, uninterrupted sleep in a while. Fortunately, right now, I’ve managed to arrive to a state of calmness, where it is almost natural. Yet still, it was quite hard to recognize that last night, when my mind was consumed by my own insecurities. I could have made a choice. I just did not.

Let’s be honest. You know the voice that speaks all the things you’re afraid of and runs a movie in your head that plays them out in your mind? It’s literally right in front of your eyes, and you are right there, just taken by the whole thing, feeling too small to stand up for yourself. Yet, you know inside the turmoil, there is shiny little light that’s worth so much more than that exhausting moment of despair you can’t seem to defeat.

I am trying to invite you to recognize that shiny, little light. To let you know that you must hold onto it during the moment you have the slightest doubt that any of your struggling is worth the pain in your chest or against others. I want to invite you to look for yourself when you are not in the condition of pain and to see if you recognize the shiny, little light. It is sometimes in the shape of the hope that we have to not just conquer, but also work with, our demons. Therein lies the switch to distract your struggle. Therein lies the opportunity for you to realize that all pain is real, but agony can be a choice.

Maybe next time, because I know there will come a next time, when I’ma bout to be taken down by a wave of fears and pain, I’ll chose not to go with it. I will absolutely acknowledge it, but I will not choose to carry its weight. Hopefully, I will manage to remember this moment of calmness, this critical moment of well-deserved calm after the storm, when I am emotionally sober enough to know I saw the shiny little light that I deserved better. I know I have to stand up for her because no one will ever be able to do for her (and I mean me), what I can’t even do for myself.

I get it now. BPD therapy techniques are all about training the brain to alternative routes of behavior, to be less harsh on ourselves, to be kinder to ourselves. We know we hit us hard. We feel run over days after emotional distress. So please, acknowledge the shiny, little light as much as you acknowledge the giant pain because oh man, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So let’s choose the “opposite reaction.”

At this point, we may start learning from all this constant pain and understand the repetitive message behind it. We must learn some self-reliance because we know it will be impossible to feel completely safe with others. The moment we can see that shiny little light, hold on to it and know it’s real, we must stand up for it. Befriend and accept your mistakes so that you can finally become more fluent at not inducing yourself into despair.

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What My 'Good' and 'Bad' Days Look Like as Someone With BPD

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Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

My borderline personality disorder (BPD) comes in waves. I’m successful, social and bubbly. Until I’m not. My mask is so permanently plastered onto my face I barely recognize myself without its fake smile and cheerful laugh. Until the real empty, shapeless shell hidden underneath can no longer be bottled up.

My alter ego is highly functional. I’m an ambitious pre-med student at a prestigious institution, founder of a new student organization, member of a professional pre-med fraternity, a volunteer in the emergency department of a nearby hospital, a practiced EMT, the list goes on and on. My padded checklist of reasons why I’m granted to survive another day, goes on and on. The only thing harder than working every second of the day is having time to be left with my own thoughts.

My accomplishments are my armor. The endless extracurriculars keep me busy enough to avoid the crumbling reality that is my mind. When my self-inflicted anger volcanoes, at least I can let myself exist long enough to attend my next class. I schedule myself to the brim to postpone the inevitable emotional disaster that can spontaneously erupt at any time. When I share I feel overwhelmed with my endeavors, I’m shamefully reminded “didn’t I do this to myself?” How could somebody so driven actually be falling apart at the seams?

On my good days, I am an invincible superwoman. I study for my classes. I ace my midterms. I’m a good friend. I listen and empathize. I genuinely care and love my friends like I may lose them at any moment. I get high off the order, the stability, the temporary feeling of being “fixed.”

On my bad days, I don’t have the energy to get off the couch. I am a breathing disappointment. I am an eternal burden to others. I am a disgusting bag of fat binge food. My everlasting emotional chaos and suicidal thoughts engulf me. Nothing matters anymore, I’m hopeless and unfixable. I just hurt people. My loved ones would be better off without me. If they knew who I truly was, they would be repulsed. There’s no point in trying to survive anymore. I don’t deserve the right to live.

With professional help, therapy and support from friends – even if they can’t fully understand me – I’ve embarked on the journey to recovery. With help, I’ve created a life jacket. With ample time spent working through my past traumas and remembering to take my medication, I have been able to ride out some of the waves. I know I’m extremely lucky to have gotten help. I am so incredibly thankful. But it doesn’t make my pain any less real. It doesn’t completely assuage the hurt. It’s still strenuous and tumultuous and unfair.

The future is bright. I can see the lighthouse near the shore. Maybe one day I may be able to thoroughly believe I have an intrinsic right to life. Until then, I will have to helplessly latch onto anything that will save me from drowning in my own thoughts.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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One of the Most Challenging Ways I've Tried to Better Myself as Someone With BPD

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Everything you read online about people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) that wasn’t written by people with borderline seems to eventually translates to: “They’re good people who are just in a lot of pain and have no control over it, but you should keep your distance from them anyway.” Which is redundant information to share, because you don’t need websites to tell people you think you’re not good enough.

Somehow people manage to figure that out all on their own.

I can’t change the information that’s being shared about me that’s not entirely accurate, but I can change the way I think about how it makes me feel.

I know I’m not an easy person to be friends with long-term. Most friendships I start never make it past the honeymoon stage — once the jokes take pause, the music stops and the sun goes down, the spotlight comes out and illuminates all my imperfections in ways that people aren’t able to handle. Mental illness leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, and a worse one in our hearts.

I understand why people run from me, I only wish I had the same luxury. The flip side to that is that I am a good person and despite the emotional avalanche I am constantly and consistently crushed by, my heart is immune to frostbite. I love my friends and family with such ferocity and devotion and there is nothing that could convince me to ever do otherwise. There is no line someone in my life could cross that would ever make me cut them off, which is a painful truth to have when you are scarred by the scissors of others.

Rewiring the way I think so that it’s separated from the way I feel is one of the most challenging ways I’ve ever tried to better myself.

Learning to ignore the knife stabbed in my heart that screams, “They cancelled because they don’t want to be around you! They hate you!” — I instead take a breath, and teach myself to understand they cancelled because they worked all day and they’re tired and it’s cold — and not because of the fight we had four months ago.

To have the self-confidence to turn my music up on public transport instead of down when I think people are talking about me and laughing about me.

Asking myself if maybe the reason I don’t know who I am is because I’m always trying to be someone else.

Pushing aside the pain from the pile of bricks crashing down on my head when I see evidence of my friends with other friends and trying to see beyond how I feel, because they don’t have to invite me everywhere they go. They’re not going to forget about me or replace me with people who are better. I don’t need to panic. Just because they have other friends doesn’t make me any less important to them.

People won’t forget me overnight, I don’t have to constantly remind them I’m here and in pain. They know, and they’re sorry.

Maybe they didn’t pour my alcohol down the sink and flush my drugs down the toilet because they wanted to make their life easier, maybe they were trying to make mine easier.

Perhaps calling my parents and calling the police wasn’t them trying to ruin my life, maybe it was them trying to save it.

Maybe they didn’t all leave because they hate me, maybe they left because I hate myself. 

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Inside the Heartbroken Borderline

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My boyfriend of eight months recently broke up with me.

As most anyone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can tell you, this is the single most painful event to have to experience multiple times.

It’s hard. We often immediately blame ourselves. We call ourselves monsters, not “normal” enough or even evil. 

Sometimes we experience such bad dissociation, it’s like nothing exists… nothing feels.

And then it does.

And every single wave of pain stings.

It’s random crying spells, feeling like you’re drowning on dry land or being set on fire slowly.

Then we see it…

As we tend to hoard memories, every place we visited with them, every photo, even just hearing the very name of your once beloved… it makes the pain linger.

It’s no longer just an ebb and flow, it’s a constant. We long for what we had, wishing we could do something different. Replaying the events over and over again until paranoia sets in.

Slowly we replace those thoughts and feelings with others. It may take weeks, months or even years… but we get there.

We’re never fully healed though. We remember their names, their favorite things, the way they have this cute little way of doing a certain thing and that still stings a little. Lots of us still struggle with regret at this point. Wishing we could just let it all go, every moment.

But let me tell you, every time it happens… it gets easier.

Something I have learned is that life is full of experiences. There are things to do, places to see and people to meet. Every moment is a chance to experience something. Being in love is a wonderful experience. It’s rare. At times our particular brand of heartbreak can make us completely turn a blind eye to the positive things that come from a relationship, regardless of the ending circumstances.

In your relationship, you probably tried new things together. Things you may not have tried normally.

For example, my ex and I went to a few concerts, we often tried new foods and enjoyed collecting new things together. I don’t regret those things. I enjoyed them. The fact that I’m no longer with the person I made the memory with, doesn’t mean that memory has to disappear completely. I enjoyed my time with him but, I don’t have to let him rule how I feel over a memory.

Really, we must remember forgiveness is possible.

While not all relationships end on a good note, after time and a grounded assessment of the situation, forgiveness can be achieved. We have to realize that some people just have to do what they think is right for them. After all, we are all just trying to do the right thing.

I know, it’s hard to let go, you never truly have to forget what they’ve done. To just accept (forgive) that the situation happened, that was out of your control, you will find yourself at a state of peace.

No longer holding on to past hurt, we can move forward even more completely.

We don’t have to give up parts of our lives, it doesn’t have to be wasted time. Every second of life is precious and is impossible to replace.

So from one heartbroken borderline to many others, stay strong, stay aware and remember that forgiveness doesn’t have to mean forgetting. Just letting go.

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The Ugly Truth Behind Why I Think Everyone Hates Me

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Judgment can be a painful thing to experience at any stage of anyone’s life. We hate to think of the ones closest to us thinking any sort of negative way about what and more specifically who we are. That’s the thing about living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) though: nearly all moments of my life I feel there is a constant, scrupulous judgment being thrown towards me by everyone I meet. It is agonizing to constantly meet everyone’s gaze with the presumption that they must already hate me. If I muster the courage to smile and they don’t return it – suddenly I think they think I’m ugly, someone must have told them how “crazy” I am and now I’m being shunned. These thoughts are exhausting and to most people, downright ridiculous, and that makes it all the worse.

The horrific truth, though, is in the end when I am in my most rational mindset, I realize I am the one judging myself more than anyone I see or meet throughout my life. Every day I hate myself and judge myself for being the worst person in the world. No one is more ignorant than me. No one has an uglier soul or uglier thoughts and patterns of self-destruction than I do. No one hurts the ones they love more than I seem to be able to. I see and judge myself consistently and constantly from the time I begin my day to the time I am finally able to close my eyes and sleep.

What I wish this person, this broken little girl within me, understood, is that it’s OK. It’s OK not to be that “pretty, outgoing girl everyone loves and adores” and is friends with. Because quite honestly, I’m not that person. It takes me a little longer to warm up to people and not feel so anxious around them. Sometimes I’ll need more comforting, more loving, and validation from others than most people would probably expect.

What I need this little girl inside me, the one who fears abandonment and the thought of anyone disliking her in the slightest, I need her to understand I’m still beautiful. That even though I may have a variety of flaws that might always be apart of me, I still have a beautiful soul. I feel things more deeply than most, and sometimes seeing the raw, ugly truth about something doesn’t have to be a negative. I can use it and focus it in more constructive, useful areas of my life. She needs to understand that it’s OK not to be perfect, it’s OK to be flawed, it’s OK to be broken.

And at the end of the day, my reality and who I am, is my own reality I must live with. But it doesn’t have to be ugly and painful. It can be passionate, beautiful, and honest.

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The Reality of an Often Overlooked Symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder

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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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