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Why BPD Can Feel Like My Super Power

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In my experience as a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD), my condition can sometimes feel like a special power. Like when I engage with someone I can immediately sense how they’re feeling. iI is much more noticeable when they’re upset or trying to hide their feelings. This generally means that people trust and like to talk to me, because I have the ability to ask them what’s wrong and know when they mean “everything,” even if they say “nothing.” Though, like most special powers, this one can cause a bit of chaos.

Say I walk in to a room and say “Hi” to my significant other (or a friend) and the tone in their “Hey” sounds a bit different than usual. Instead of rationalizing and thinking, Oh, they’re probably having an off day. Maybe it’s something to do with work or school. If it was about you they would tell you. My brain completely bypasses that cognitive process and suddenly, my nerves are on fire. They obviously hate you and are going to leave you! It’s all your fault. You’re a terrible person! This quick shift can feel like I’m already experiencing an abandonment that hasn’t even occurred yet. Which can understandably get frustrating for the person I’m interacting with, because remember, to them this all started with a simple, “Hey.” For me though, that interaction means so much more, because my brain has already decided that they hate me. This means changing my mind about it can create a vicious cycle.

When they promise they’re not leaving me, I ask for extra validation to make sure they’re not lying. Then I feel bad for being so much of a “burden,” which in turn makes me feel like they’re going to leave me. Rinse and repeat.

This cycle has potential to cause the “abandoner” to feel as if the “abandonee” doesn’t trust them. I can promise you that for me, this is not the case. I do trust you! If anything, because so much of my disorder is often rooted in past trauma and fear of being left, such extreme feelings such as these are a compliment. It means I care about you so much that not having you around feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen. Remember, no one with BPD wants to experience such volatility in their sense of self and in quality of interpersonal relationships. Many of us wish we could just take words at face value instead of creating a whole narrative behind them.

Maybe if I wasn’t as hyper-aware of others’ emotions as I am, seemingly little things like this wouldn’t be such a trigger for me. Then again, I probably wouldn’t be able to offer the top tier love and support I give to the people who need it. This is my super power after all, and with great power comes great responsibility.

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Thinkstock photo via Malchev.

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How It Feels to Be Turned Away and Disbelieved by Therapists

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Palms sweating, I found myself nervously fidgeting my legs and glancing at the clock. I had been here before, many times over the past decade, and increasingly losing faith. At the beginning the sessions seemed to help — you could talk about how you were feeling, what you were experiencing, and you knew the person sat opposite you would believe you. An encouraging nod here and there, a patient pause while you gather your jumbled thoughts together and attempt to make sense aloud. You were safe here; it was going to be OK. It was all going to be OK now.

But as the years crawled by and the symptoms worsened, the sessions changed. The nods became frowns, and I could swear suspicion flashed in the eyes of the therapist facing me. My words faltered and become stuck in my throat, tears pricking my eyes and shame burning my cheeks. It takes every ounce of courage to admit your deepest insecurities and perceived weaknesses to a stranger — especially one whose profession is to assess the severity of your health.

As the years dragged on it became clear my condition had changed. I had been diagnosed with major depression 10 years prior, but the past year things had begun to change. I felt so out of control. It seemed like the tiniest thing could send me to my knees — an abrupt tone of voice, a petty argument, an ignored message — and I would be curled against the wall, the tears streaming, head cradled in my arms. Everyone hated me, I was certain of it. They were just pretending to care. They didn’t love me, nobody did. I was incapable of being loved — too difficult, too needy. And yet never enough — nothing I did was worth staying for.

The people in my life who cared about me were confused and concerned about my behavior. I was a ticking time bomb and a walking contradiction — upbeat and carefree one moment, full of joy and hope for the future — only to be distraught the next, engulfed by a black cloud, forced to hurt myself just so I could regain control of my intense emotional surge and be brought back down to earth. This wasn’t like me — I was always a confident person, but when left alone I was afraid of my own mind.

Time and time again I traipsed back to the therapist, and time and time again my fears were shrugged off. They said I was simply lacking in self-esteem — an echo of what they told me when I first made an attempt on my life. There were no existing mental conditions for my symptoms, where mood can change in a matter of hours. I was told to keep a food diary and take up jogging. I was even told to buy a certain fitness item, a flippant suggestion that stung my heart like a hot brand considering my suicidal thoughts and how it could be used in an attempt. I was told to come back again in six weeks, and that was that.

Every time I left, my heart would break a little more. By now I had done enough research of my own to conclude I was showing signs of undiagnosed borderline personality disorder (BPD). Of the nine criteria commonly listed as trademark symptoms, I regularly experienced eight of them. It was at this time I also learned that mood swings could alter rapidly, in as little as a few hours. I didn’t know whether to feel relief that I may finally have some leads concerning my condition, or be devastated that my therapist seemed not to fully understand the signs of BPD in order to recognize them — something I chose to believe, because the thought of perhaps being too insignificant to be worth investing more resources in was too much to bear, and a cruel product of my black and white thinking pattern: “They can’t help me, therefore I must be worthless.”

Being constantly made to feel like an attention seeker, like I wasn’t really worthy of compassion or support because there wasn’t anything truly wrong, seemed to worsen my symptoms. I felt like a fraud. I often failed to really know “who” I was, and now my thoughts were racing — was I making all this up? Was I a fake? These feelings that frequently stopped me in my tracks and had me inconsolable for hours — had I made them up? Was I so wrong? After all, the experts weren’t alarmed, so maybe this was “normal.” I shrank away in fear, and found myself numb and unreachable for days at a time. Was this my life? Never getting better because there was nothing to help me?

To this day I still haven’t got the help I need. My breakdowns become more frequent for a while and I struggle to find the light. But it trickles in eventually, and I can pick myself up from the floor and pretend to be “normal.” Typically each cycle lasts a few days at most before it flips to the polar opposite, draining my energy, will and hope all at once. It is exhausting and my resolve to continue is faltering. I hope I can find someone willing to listen to me soon, to believe me when I say I need help.

I hope that if you have struggled to access the support you need, that you, too, may receive it soon. I hope one day, we never have to fight so hard to be taken seriously, to access treatment, and to recover.

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. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via fizkes

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When You Feel Like the Personification of the Phrase 'Too Much'

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My parents at some point must have felt so lucky, that their firstborn daughter would waltz up to stages “too much” — to receive awards, do speeches, perform or present. But when they tried to scold me for the little things, they couldn’t understand why I was always banging my skull against the wall. They didn’t know their words were too dreadful for me, they didn’t know how their actions made me feel unappreciated and lonely.

My high school peers at some point must have felt so lucky to have a friend like me. Someone who could always lead a group or a project. Someone who has “too many” skills and “too much” knowledge to share. But when they saw me with self-harm scars, they couldn’t understand why I still feel empty behind all the accomplishments. Of course, they thought it was just an “emo” phase. They didn’t know that until now, the hollowness still lies within me.

My college mates at some point must have felt so lucky that they found someone super cool to hang out with. They must have enjoyed having someone around with “too much” spontaneity. They laughed at all my misadventures and at my comical miseries. But little did they know, I was dying inside with all the mockery towards my impulsivity. I wish I could control my emotions better. I wish they had known better.

All the men I loved, at some point, must have felt so lucky, because when I fall, I always fall “too hard” and I always pour all of myself — or rather, “too much of myself. But apparently, “too much” is not enough to hold a relationship together. Most of the time I felt like pure havoc and pushed people away too many times. I wish they would have tried to know me better. I wish they took my issues for real, not another petty beg for attention.

This is my life with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I hope that despite all of these, I do not let the world convince me to strive to be perfect instead of real. I truly hope that someday, somehow, I could celebrate the fact that I may not be for everyone, but I do not have to invalidate my feelings for the people who don’t try to understand. In anything I do, I want to rejoice in the fact that there could be beauty in chaos and it glows inside me. It is going to grow love from thorn and broken glass. I want to come to terms to the idea that I may be the personification of the phrase “too much,” but know that I am still the nebulousness that fills voids. I am still a seed of the universe — and its infinity has enough space for my excessive soul.

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Thinkstock photo via Tishchenko.

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How Borderline Personality Disorder Affects My Day as a Student

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

First period I sit alone in the library, probably because I don’t have any friends. I thought one girl was my friend until she responded to my invitation with a “k” instead of saying, “OK.” I think this means she doesn’t care about me. Why would she? It feels like I’m just a burden to her anyway. It’s easy to think she’s going to be happier without me hanging around her. I’ll find new friends. Then again, what’s the point? Friends suck sometimes.

Second period, I sit in the back of the class. I’m an outlier because I actually turn assignments in on time. I have good grades. I can’t be sick. If I can smile and answer questions about investments that means that I’m not sick. There’s nothing wrong. I look like I have it all put together because I can get an “A” on a test and laugh at a joke, but I feel like I’m slowly falling apart. Thoughts, feelings, actions. That’s the order. Are my thoughts fact-based?

During our 15 minute break, I go straight to my next class. I can’t run into my friends, because we’re not friends anymore. I hate them sometimes. They don’t care about me. No one does. Stop it. I’m being too dramatic, I know. Maybe I should read a book to distract myself, or I could study for the test I’m about to have since I couldn’t focus on physics last night because I lost all of my friends when the people I thought I could trust the most took five minutes to respond to my texts.

Oh no, the bell rang. I hate this class. I know this information. I bet Karen next to me is going to get a better grade. Why do I even bother coming to school? Next period means calculus and I’ll have to see my old friend. I’m going to tell him exactly how I feel about him taking forever to respond to my texts. I’m going to make sure he knows we’re not friends anymore. I’ll never forgive him.

Fifth period, I participate in class while everyone else stays silent. My old friend talks to me as if nothing happened — as if our friendship isn’t over. He thinks I’m just “mad” because of the borderline personality disorder (BPD). This time, we’re done. I can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t care about me. I take notes, but I’m not learning about Taylor Polynomials. I’m too focused on how much I hate the fact that he’s sitting next to me and acting like my feelings don’t matter.

Sixth period, he’s still there. Psychology, great. I turn around and talk to a classmate so my old friend can’t talk to me, but I think my classmate is mad at me. Why wouldn’t she be? I forgot to send her the notes from yesterday. I really messed up. I’m such a terrible person. I don’t know if I should skip lunch again today. If I go, I’d have to see my other old friend and I can’t do that, but if I don’t go, she’ll bug me about eating. I’d rather not confront her. I don’t think she deserves my forgiveness.

I work on my writing during lunch. I feel like a crummy writer. No one will ever like my stories. I am the worst writer ever. Why do I even bother? I bet my classmate is working on writing too. She must be the best writer. I probably failed the test fourth period. I feel a failure. I won’t achieve anything. Especially not now since I’m alone. My friend texts me five times asking where I am.  I sometimes think she forfeited the right to care when she didn’t give me her attention when I needed her. I don’t need her fake sympathy. It wasn’t always like this. Before, I didn’t believe the people I thought were my friends actually hated me.

Seventh period means my favorite class: English. My old friend tries to sit next to me again, but I sit on the end of the row. He doesn’t give it a second thought, doesn’t even look my way. That’s why I think he doesn’t care. He seems to be too busy talking to someone else to even notice I’m mad at him. He seems too busy to notice I’m dying on the inside and feel like I’m about to explode. I carry the class discussion as usual. I talk to my teacher about the last book we read and we have a great discussion about the meaning of companionship. I miss my friends. They must hate me.

Eighth period I don’t know what to do with myself. All of my friends are gone. Why are they gone? I pushed them away. They weren’t gone until I told them to go. I’m lost. What do I do? How can I get them back? Why would they come back? They must hate me. I hate me. It’s very rare that I act on impulses, but I’ll always act on feelings. No one understands, they think I’m doing this on purpose. Why would anyone intentionally mess up their life every day only to hit repeat the next morning? My friend texts me again and I nearly drop my phone trying to unlock it.

“Are you OK?” Is what she’s sent.

I think for a minute about how to approach the situation. She’s the perfect human being. How else could she care so much about me? I smile for the first time today because I know that my friend cares about me. She’s the best person ever. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend. I don’t want to inconvenience her, especially since I ruined the entire day by overreacting and being unreasonable, but the clawing feeling in my stomach is telling me I won’t ever have friends again because I’m not worthy. I hate myself in these moments.

“No, I need your help,” I respond.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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

Thinkstock photo via Wavebreak Ltd.

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Thoughts: A Poem on Borderline Personality Disorder

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I don’t know why am I writing this,

I only need my feelings to let go.

My fingertips felt sleep

when my heart couldn’t resist the pain.

Am I real?

I’m agonizing.

I saw a movie last night and

it destroyed me,

the gift of having multiplied emotions.

Every word is like a knife in my neck

and my blood is a flood

in my chest.

I need shelter. I’m needy.

I can’t handle this roller coaster

alone.

I’m a leech, please don’t leave me,

I won’t.

But wait,

life is a candy!

And I’m the sweetest bubblegum,

watch me fly.

Everything is so soft,

and I’m full of life.

Nothing will

ruin me.

But wait.

Wait.

I hate you, I wanna throttle you

with my own hands.

No,

no.

What did I say?

I need you.

But wait,

wait,

I don’t even know what I’m saying,

is my pain even real?

Am I even real?

This feels like a movie

played on a DVD that you cannot pause.

All I need is some distraction

or something that makes me feel something

or something to punish me.

Blood,

fire in my throat,

whatever.

It’s alright — but wait.

It’s a matter of time,

maybe a minute

will revive me

or bury me.

I don’t believe in my beliefs,

I don’t know who I am,

who you are.

Am I sick? It can’t be possible.

I’m just “stupid.”

But wait,

wait.

Always waiting

for nothing,

for stability,

for shelter,

for another stumble.

It’s just a matter of time.

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Thinkstock photo via Archv

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Why Research Was So Important When I Got My New BPD Diagnosis

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Being diagnosed with a mental illness can be scary — especially if it’s first one.

I’ve had diagnoses since I was 10 years old. First depression, then anxiety, then PTSD. I thought I was done being diagnosed. At 29, there’s no way I could possibly form a new diagnosis, right?

Wrong. During a recent hospitalization, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). What the hell is that? Being older and wanting to understand what I’d been diagnosed with, I researched BPD. I’m still researching BPD.

I believe it’s so important to research your diagnosis. Find books that describe what the characteristics are, how it’s treated and how it affects your life (personally and professionally). I’ve learned the characteristics of borderline personality disorder and can now recognize when my thoughts are “borderline thoughts” or when my actions are “borderline actions.” Knowing this is helping me realize I need more help. I want to develop healthy coping skills. I want to know how to handle my thoughts and actions. Doing the research has gotten me where I am now.

I’m waiting for a bed at a residential treatment center that specializes in borderline personality disorder, along with my other diagnoses. What got me here? Borderline. And I can say that with confidence. After a build up of events and emotions over time, I finally cracked and my borderline thinking got me to the lowest point of my life. But I’m here to tell my story — which is clearly not over yet.

Research. Research your diagnosis and encourage your friends and family to do the same. I know it’s hard to ask someone to do research, but providing them with websites or articles you’ve already read is a good start.

Just remember, you’ve got this.

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Unsplash photo via Thomas Lefebvre.

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