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What Saved My Life From Borderline Personality Disorder


Black and white. In and out. Up and down. Love and hate. And hate. So much hate.

Why did I do that? Why don’t they like me? Why do they like me?

Every second of every day the battle rages in my head. Never stopping, never ceasing. Fight and fight and fight and… sleep.

All I can do is sleep. And then the dreams come and I want to wake up, or never wake up. It’s never stopping — always the same, but never the same.

Exhausting. No one wants to deal with me. I don’t want to deal with me. And then they love me so fiercely I have to push them away until they don’t.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is sometimes marked by a pervasive pattern of instability with relationships, fear of abandonment, unstable or changing relationships, unstable self-image and struggles with identity or sense of self.

“It’s time to get you reevaluated,” he said. I was 24 years old and getting “reevaluated.” How many times had I been “reevaluated?” The diagnosis they stamped me with: borderline personality disorder.

I had read about BPD in “Girl, Interrupted.” And there I was, like Susanna Kaysen, being shipped off to Mclean Hospital. I had spent the past three months in bed, hoping to rot away — praying to rot away. But my friends wouldn’t let me. How do I have such amazing friends? So, for them, I agreed, again, to get treatment.

How was this going to be different? Everything was so chaotic and calm. After three months of sleeping, I was still exhausted. My mind was so murky, making everything seem like a dream. I remember walking around Newbury street, the foggy streetlights danced shadows around an old church. I saw myself in all of them. The hotel room had a TV in the bathroom mirror. I remember staring at myself. My reflection felt as fake as the pixilated figure in the corner. For a moment, we fused.

People with BPD might experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are.

Suddenly it was weeks into treatment. The other girls were afraid of me; “You need to stop smashing all around the place, you are scaring the other girls. Be gentle.”

I am 5-foot-10-inches tell, how am I supposed to not “smash around?” I tried walking slower, but that only ended in me falling, which I thought was worse than the “smashing.” No one understood me. It seemed like everything I did was offensive. Everything I did was wrong. Even in a house full of “crazy” girls, I felt like the odd one out.

The program was run by a famous doctor; a cold man, a scientist, who made his fortune by studying the disorder no doctor before him dared go near. A logical man, who sat week after week in his bowties, nodding and observing, but never revealing much. I was certain that even he felt sorry for me. He led a group where we all sat around discussing how we felt about each other, or lack thereof. Every feeling exposed on the table like a naked child — innocent yet uncomfortable to see. And every week the hot topic was me. I said things people did not want to hear. I said things without thinking. I just said things. And that made me the target. Their discomfort was tangible in my actions.

“My poor daughter,” he cried out once during group. To this day, I wonder if that was real or if I imagined it. I often wonder how many of my memories are dreams.

Symptoms of BPD can sometimes include dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body or losing touch with reality.

The doctor never showed personal emotion. He was a professional. Why would he say something like that? And then he asked me for a hug. It was touching, really, but the fact he felt the need to say that made me feel more confused and different than ever before.

Maybe he wept for me. I wept for me. I wept for others who experienced horrible circumstances. But he wept for me. I think he knew what I know; how deep down my pain will never subside because I don’t live for myself. You can’t hurt yourself when you don’t live for yourself. You can’t help yourself either. You just suffer in silence and let the wrath of the world seep deep down under your skin like a scar. I feel all of it. Everything. From everyone. I let them keep their happiness and their pain becomes my own. It scurries deep down like an insect. Sometimes I can feel it twitch.

People with BPD might feel emotions easily, more deeply, and longer than others do.

This residence was different than the other places I have been. Instead of focusing on medication, this program focused on dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). BPD can’t usually be treated with medication, but it may ease the symptoms. My real issue with BPD is the inability to think logically, on an emotional basis. So I have to train and change my thought patterns. Every second of every day becomes a battle.

BPD is a serious mental disorder sometimes marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning.

Mindfulness saved my life. Learning to redirect my love for everyone around me to myself was my key to actually living, not just surviving. This is not a happy ending, nor is it a battle won. It is a statement of hope. A hand kept out for those who need a boost. A path ready for those lost and unsure. A reminder that it is possible to love myself. A reminder that it is possible to love others and that you can love yourself, too. I just need to focus, relax and breathe. In and out. And let the clouds roll by.

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Thinkstock photo via amoklv