The Phrase That Describes My Borderline Personality Disorder
The other day I was watching a random high school drama on TV, as something to just pass the time on a boring Thursday night. And as a lot of high school shows go, when the girl is heartbroken over their significant other, she starts going down destructive paths to try and get over that heartbreak. Then it hit me.
Hearing one of the characters say, “You promised you would never leave,” brought up everything about borderline personality disorder or BPD. Seeing a heartbroken girl, scared of being alone brought up what I’ve been realizing about myself. I’ve only recently been diagnosed with BPD and that diagnosis came as both a sigh of relief and like a rain on my parade. It has been nice to put a name to all the acting out I have done, but it has also been something I’ve let define me (though I’m working on that part). BPD allowed me to put a lot of pieces of my life together, and this show made it all the more realistic for me.
All the acting out when there is any sign of someone leaving to the point where it seems manipulative doesn’t make me “crazy,” when a lot of the mental illness is linked to a fear of abandonment. I hold the, “You said you would always be here for me and never leave,” statement so close to my heart, when in reality, a person is never entitled to be that person for me.
The way I degraded myself for the person to make sure they wanted me back, sexually especially. Or even financially by giving them expensive, over the top gifts because I thought that sense of gratification was enough to make a person stay — even if they were using me for such things.
I’ll self-destruct to make sure that person comes back to save me because they can’t leave me if I’m destroying myself. Because in a mind of someone with BPD, self-destruction means, “I destroy myself and they come back to save me.” Then they care about me and they’re not leaving… at least for now. The reality is sometimes they do. Sometimes the effects of BPD become too much for both you and the other person. And that’s OK.
What has been hardest for me is to think about all the destructive behaviors from the past. None of the behaviors above were intended to destroy, but only to keep the relationship. But that’s just what BPD is for some people. That’s how it presents itself, with the acting up and the destructive behaviors. Whether it be because you are scared of having that other person go, or because you feel like that is the only way it will make the person stay. Neither makes you a bad person for having times in your life where you let your BPD dictate your relationship and self-worth.
Admittedly for me, it did get to such a toxic low point, that I would literally do anything to make the person stay — act up, push away, manipulate, guilt trip or start fights. Sometimes even threatening to kill myself when the person showed any sign of distance. And then soon enough, going from “I hate you” to “I’m sorry, please come back” to “I love you, please stay” within a matter of hours. Trying to be on my best behavior for them because what if next time is the last time? But somedays, I just can’t help but let those feelings erupt. For the longest time, I saw myself as a horrible person and thought I deserved all the punishments in the world for being such a toxic sounding person.
Slowly but surely, and I hope this for whoever else is reading this too, I realized that no, my mental illness does not define me. Because in amidst of a storm of hurt, people realize your genuine self. I’ve learned that I have much more to offer than just the bad part of my illness. And though it takes time, and this will beat me down sometimes, BPD is not all of me and it will not always be this way.
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Thinkstock photo via agsandrew