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To My Husband Who Supports Me in My BPD Recovery

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Dear Husband,

This letter is for you. A letter of thanks but also apologies.

Living with my mental health issues is at time unbearable, but trying to love someone who has them, well, I don’t know how you do it.

I know you feel a huge pressure to provide for me and our little boy. Thank you for the way you mange our bills and outgoings on just one income and manage to keep us afloat when my reckless spending sometimes takes over due to my borderline personality disorder (BPD).

I am sorry for the times my illness has made your life hell. Made me difficult to live with and difficult to love.

I am sorry for the times I frightened you with acts of self-harm and suicide attempts. Sorry for the times I left you to be both a mother and a father to our little boy. Thank you you so much for stepping up like you have done over and over again.

Loving. Devoted. Loyal. Strong. Brave. Theses are just a few of the words I would use to describe you. In truth, these words barely scratch the surface of what an amazing man you really are. Where so many would have run a long time ago, you continued to stay. I know you didn’t sign up for this five years ago when we both said “I do.” So thank you for staying.

Thank you for trying your hardest to understand and help me in a world that is completely alien and frightening to you. I know it’s been so difficult and pushed you well out of your comfort zone.

You’ve kept me alive when I believed I was better off dead. You loved me when I thought I didn’t deserve to be loved.

I am sorry for all of the sacrifices you’ve had to make for me. Not seeing your friends and family as much as you wanted to. Not being able to relax after work because you have housework to do that I couldn’t do. You deserve more, I know that. You have worked harder and given more than I would ever have expected. Thank you so much.

I’m incredibly sorry for the pressure I’ve put on you. I’m sorry it doesn’t seem enough, but I promise I will make it up you.

I know without me your life would be incredibly different. I want you to live the happy, carefree life I know you crave. I am working so damn hard to get better so you can have the life you greatly deserve. Thank you so much for baring with me. I promise I will keep fighting.

Thank you so much for telling me you are proud of me – and meaning it! It is something that means the world to me but not something I am accustomed to hearing.

Thank you for making me concentrate on getting better and not worrying about getting back to work. Without you doing this I would most certainly have pushed myself too hard to find paid work and relapsed to the point of crisis once more. Thank you for believing in me. Always. Whatever I’ve wanted to do, you have encouraged and believed in me, to the fullest.

I know this will embarrass you and I know you are as bad as me at accepting compliments, but you are an absolutely amazing man. Without you and our little boy, I would not be here to fight another day. I’ve struggled and struggled more than most people can imagine, but it is you who deserves the medal. Always working. Always loving. Always giving. Allowing me to keep on going.

You are my husband, yes, but more importantly you are my best friend. I don’t know many people who could have done and still do, what you do each and every day.

You have taught me so much. More than you realize. You have taught me what “in sickness and in health” really means. And I thank you from the bottom of heart for that.

I am stronger, healthier and braver because of you. But most importantly, I am alive because of you.

Thank you for all you do and all you are.

Yours always,

Amy

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What My Life Is Like as a Teen With Borderline Personality Disorder

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What does it feel like to me to live with borderline personality disorder?

It feels like constant rejection. It feels like constant uncertainty and unfamiliarity. It feels like dying even when it wasn’t my fault.

It includes relationship instability because I’m afraid of everything, and that includes intimacy. It includes harming myself in various ways because my brain tells me I’ve been terrible and need to be punished.

It includes strange detachments from reality because my mind doesn’t understand how to function under stress.

It includes hallucinations that make me feel trapped and like a fish out of water wishing I could scream but unable to breath because you’re stuck in fear that your loved ones will think you’re “a freak.”

It feels like everything that was supposed to make sense skipped over me, and now I’m trapped wondering what’s “wrong” with me.

It feels like daily uphill battles. And nightmares because I feel like a failure, and nothing can get my brain off the fact someone may dislike me.

Living with borderline is living with a voice deep inside me yelling at me that I’m unlovable, unworthy, underserving.

It is a highly stigmatized disorder, but those who don’t understand it — like the desire to constantly kill yourself, or submit yourself just for a little taste of love — might not realize the damage stigmatization can do.

It’s walking around with a label slapped on my back that I’m “oversensitive” or the “crazy ex girlfriend,” dehumanizing words for someone with a severe mental illness.

I don’t have the option to turn my back and run away, because personality disorders tend to never leave the mind, and that realization scares me while I fight to stay alive.

I am uncomfortable, with pinches of impulsivity and uncertainty mixed in with mood swings and major dissociation.

But none of this makes me, or anyone else diagnosed, any less of a human being.

It doesn’t make us any less beautiful or any less worthy of the gifts life has to offer.

Borderline may have horrific challenges, but it does not make those diagnosed with it horrific. We are brave — and that’s really what matters.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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The Struggle of Waking Up With a Flooded Mind When You Sleep Next to Someone

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Ever since I was in grade school I can remember always “acting out” in the mornings or being “overly emotional.” I was constantly sick to my stomach and had an issue with vomiting, which later on hampered my reliability at work. Even though I still experience this, I somehow manage to make it to work most days. Sadly, it is not about me fighting down the nausea but fighting back thoughts and tears that honestly have no place in my life right now.

Every morning I try my hardest, however, I still manage to interrupt my boyfriend within the first few moments of me being up. I tend to have nightmares — roll around a lot and flail my limbs erratically. Needless to say, I have elbowed a lot of faces and sacked too many poor fellows, and now it seems easier to sleep in my own bed. I feel overwhelmingly guilty when I realize my boyfriend cannot sleep because of my overthinking mind. Whenever I go to sleep downstairs I cannot help the tears from forming in my eyes, and for hours I lay in bed thinking… “We can’t last if I can’t even sleep in bed with him,” “How are we ever going to get our own place for the two of us?” “He doesn’t love me… he can sleep, he just doesn’t want me here,” — and some more irrational fears I get thanks to an abusive ex.

I’m constantly having to tell myself it’s not fair for me to be upset for him to want sleep, that my emotions are valid but are too intense for the situation. Once I start to fall tired, I am proud of myself for managing to understand the situation is for health, not preference. Eight hours later I wake up to fight that same battle once more.

First thing I feel when I wake up is panic, whether it be I have to work and worried about which manager is in or if it will be busy or not; I have a huge pile of clothes to clean and put away; my mother texted me “good morning” and I don’t know if I should respond and be guilt-ed into a visit; or maybe nothing in particular is wrong that day but every tiny thing seems to set me off into a spiral of worry and shame.

Once I have started to spiral, it feels impossible to stop the thoughts from flooding my mind. Sometimes I can manage to put a smile on my face and try to distract myself from what I know is needless dwelling, but that truly does not last more than an hour where I can to try again.

For me, living with borderline personality disorder and depression just means I need to constantly hit reset on my days. I can be at work about to snap and break into tears but if I can luckily take my break around then I try to relax and pretend I am starting a new shift when I come back. I have to trick myself, in a way, to give myself that clear slate where I am not humiliated by my emotions.

Same thing goes when I am at home. In most cases, BPD causes forms of abandonment issues (or are formed because of past abandonment). Over the years I have felt completely rejected whenever a partner of mine went out without me. To this day I still get completely out of whack and can lose myself for hours listening to music and just wallowing like I was just broken up with. Things as small as not being able to share a shower with my boyfriend or grab a coffee because I’ve been hurting financially can seem like a huge problem, when in the back of my mind I know it is not.

Throughout the day I just continue to try and remind myself that things are not always as bad as they seem and I do not always feel this consumed. Hopefully someday the symptoms will lessen and I will feel the relief of not having a flooded mind. Until then the most important thing for myself, or for any of you, to remember is to keep reminding yourself of the good things — even if it means you managed to buy that coffee. It’s only $2, but it is something.

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We Need to Change How We Talk About Borderline Personality Disorder

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Trigger warning: This post briefly mentions self-harm.

About four and a half years ago, I paid a routine visit to the psychiatrist I’d started seeing after admitting myself to the hospital for self-harm. Up to that day, I was unaware I’d spent most of my life battling a mental disorder. Even after I went to the hospital, I was still in denial.

During that visit, she diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder (BPD). We talked through it while I nodded along, leg shaking in my chair. She handed me a packet of information on BPD, advised me to do some independent research and sent me on my way.

By the time I left her office, my temper was simmering under the surface. I wasn’t impulsive! How dare she? I didn’t have unstable relationships… did I? Surely not. I definitely didn’t have signs of dissociation. Right?

I sat in my car thumbing through the materials she’d given me, trying to process my new diagnosis. The only useful thing in the packet was a worksheet on coping mechanisms. The rest of the pages were printouts of book summaries.

The titles?

• “Sometimes I Act Crazy”
• “I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality”
• “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder”

These titles are quite popular among people who have BPD, and many consider them helpful and enlightening. I’m not knocking anyone who has read these books and found them useful. I’m always supportive of anything that helps people battle their BPD. And no, I haven’t read any of these books because I absolutely did judge them by their covers.

I scoffed and tossed the packet into the passenger seat before speeding off. Not only was she insinuating that something was actually wrong with my brain, but she was essentially calling me crazy! How could she get away with that as a mental health professional?

Those printouts were one of the main reasons I refused to believe my diagnosis for several months. I knew I was certainly battling something that was bigger than me. I knew I couldn’t control this “monster” inside me as I’ve always called it. But I knew I was not crazy. I was just going through a rough patch, and I needed some help.

As time went on, my resolve softened, and I researched BPD for myself. One day, it just clicked. I was able to recognize many of the characteristics of BPD in my own life, which kickstarted my recovery.

But those book titles were my very first impression of BPD, and I think they’re a dangerous introduction to the disorder.

And it’s not just books. Check out some of these article titles:

• Toxic People Part II: Personality Disorders continued
• Dangerous Liaisons: How to Deal With a Drama Queen
• Borderline Personality Disorder: Is It Just an Excuse?
• Personality Disorders Are Not Illnesses

Look, I know I can be a lot to handle. Believe me when I say that no one knows better than I do. On the same token, no one wants to be written off as crazy, or dramatic, or accused of making it all up. Not only do these terms have negative connotations, but they’re also counterproductive.

What are you accomplishing by calling us crazy or trying to convince us our disorder isn’t real? You’re writing us off. You’re marginalizing us. You’re telling us that our disorder is inferior, that we’re just “being crazy.” It’s not inferior, and we’re not being crazy. BPD is just different than other mental disorders. Yes, it’s intense for us and everyone around us at times, but that doesn’t invalidate it.

If you know anything at all about BPD, you know it’s characterized by hyper-emotion. We don’t take anything with a grain of salt; we take the whole saltshaker. How on earth do you expect us to react when you say we’re crazy? It may be all we think about for hours, days, or weeks. We may physically punish ourselves for an illness we can’t cure completely.

Talking semantics may seem oversensitive, but the rhetoric surrounding BPD has got to change. Stop painting us as delirious, insane, selfish, dramatic, manipulative, etc. We’re battling a cruel, ugly monster that most people won’t understand, and we need help just as much as anyone else living with mental illness.

You wouldn’t say those things about any other condition, so don’t do it to borderlines. Giving us these incredibly hurtful labels may only send us spiraling.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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When My Borderline Personality Disorder Feels Like a Parasite

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I don’t feel like I’m in control of my own mind. I feel as if there’s some sort of parasite lurking around in my head, pressing buttons and pulling levers just to see what would happen. And what happens is total chaos.

One minute I’ll be fine, talking to a friend or watching a movie, and then out of nowhere this ache will rise up and fill my whole being from head to toe. It’s the worst kind of pain because it’s not caused by anything in particular, and it’s always there, just waiting to tell me how hopeless I am. It eats away at me, chewing apart all the things that make me feel human.

I keep waiting for the numbness to hit, but it never does because my borderline personality disorder makes me feel with every fiber of my being, day in and day out. And it’s so exhausting, especially since I question every feeling I have. I can’t trust my mind, and I can’t trust what it makes me think.

If someone greets me in a different tone of voice than they did the day before, it has to be because I did something wrong and now they’re mad at me. If someone takes a bit longer to respond to my messages, it has to be because I said the wrong thing and so they don’t like me anymore. If my mom gives my brother a longer hug than she gave me, it has to be because she loves him more. The list goes on and on, and a hundred of these thoughts cross my mind every day.

It’s as if I’m an intruder in my own body, feeling disconnected from myself and the world around me. I think this is why I grasp at any form of connection, holding on tightly even when I know I should let go. Because in those fleeting moments where I get to feel part of something or someone, I feel alive. Those are the moments my heart and my mind belong to me.

It’s so easy to succumb to the voices that tell me I’m nothing but a factory fault as a result of mass production. That I came into this world with no chance. Broken.

I am not going to back down without a fight, however. Because I am not an illness or defect. I am someone’s daughter, sister and friend. And I will look back at these written words in moments of clouded judgment and remind myself again and again, until I fully believe it.

Just as I hope I can reach others who face similar doubt on a daily basis. I know sometimes it feels as if the world doesn’t care about us, so it’s our job to care about each other.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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5 Unique Coping Strategies I Use to Manage My BPD

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There are lots of lists with skills and coping mechanisms for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Skills for handling extreme emotions, stress relief, for mindfulness, meditation and self-encouragement. Some of them are really helpful but for me, some just don’t fit. As time went on, I developed skills I now want to share:

1. Playing catch.

I know to importance of exercise for stress relief, but I often cannot motivate myself to actually do it. I needed to find some low-threshold activity and eventually found myself tossing a ball with my partner. It’s playful but also physically demanding. Even more, it helps me focus and not drift off in thoughts. Furthermore, being clumsy and missing a catch brings a smile to my face.

2. Reminding myself of the “little things.”

Practicing mindfulness is a lot easier for me with a daily reminder of little beautiful things I can appreciate. I put a collage of different phrases from the “Just Little Things” blog on my wall so I do not overlook the small moments that bring me joy and happiness.

3. Writing my thoughts in third person.

Writing short stories in third person is an alternative to coping skills involving imagery exercises that may contain memories that are distressing or disturbing to me. Under a lot of tension, it is nearly impossible for me to use imagery exercises. I find it helpful to instead write about my thoughts as a third person narrator so I can distance myself from them.

4. Reading fantasy novels.

Reading a good fantasy novel about keeping evil at bay, continuous fighting and finding hope in dark places helps me a lot. Next to “The Hunger Games” and “Lord of The Rings,” the Harry Potter series is my favorite. J.K. Rowling’s books stand for encouragement and show how to live with trauma. When Albus Dumbledore tells Harry “It is our choices far more than our abilities that show what we truly are,” I felt much less burdened by my illness.

5. Listening to heavy music.

I could name hundreds of bands that are helping me to get through my struggles, but I will focus on a more popular one, Bring Me The Horizon. Listening to BMTH often fits my emotions. They are loud and aggressive as well as soft and quiet with tender melodies. They sometimes feature sounds of screams that may be intolerable to a majority of people. It seems as if their music can pick up my high level of tension, ride along with the rollercoaster of feelings and finally relieve them. It is not only their music but also their lyrics that speak to me on an emotional level.

Below is an excerpt from their song “Can You Feel My Heart” that almost perfectly sums up my feelings when my BPD is at its worst.  

I’m scared to get close and I hate being alone,

I long for that feeling to not feel at all,

The higher I get, the lower I sink,

I can’t drown my demons, they know how to swim.

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