When Borderline Personality Disorder Is Your Biggest Bully

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is complicated and confusing. It’s like being stuck in the middle of the ocean with large waves constantly crashing over you and monsters lurking in the deep, seeking to pull you down. And the worst part is, you can see everyone around you floating with no problem. So why is it so difficult for you?

For me, BPD is all about relationships, and it starts with the relationship I have with myself. As a child, my internal voice was constantly criticizing and invalidating my daily struggle with social anxiety. I grew up believing there was something wrong with me, not knowing I had a mental illness and was not alone. When my first episode of depression hit, my internal voice just got worse.

My BPD is the adult manifestation of the psychological abuse I put myself through growing up. Schools will talk about anti-bullying, but they don’t tell you what to do when the bully is your own mind. I didn’t understand the nature of my anxiety and depression, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I constantly berated myself and put myself down for my feelings because I was the only one I could see struggling. I didn’t realize my own worth or know how to treat myself with compassion.

My BPD is a hypersensitivity to anything that sounds like my internal childhood voice. It is the consequence of years of treating myself unkindly. Anything that remotely feels like criticism or rejection feels like acid against my skin. I am much more sensitive than the rest of the world. I’m constantly fighting to prove my pain exists.

When I’m hurt, all I want is for someone to understand I’m hurt and show empathy for me. It is the quickest way of defusing my “borderline bomb” of inappropriate anger. The anger manifests when I’m made to feel like I’m overreacting, meaning that my feelings aren’t valid.

My moods are always changing and highly dependent on the people around me. I am susceptible to brief periods of elation, sadness or irritability. I am sensitive to the emotions of people around me and often have a hard time distinguishing between their emotions and my own.

BPD is intense paranoia that people don’t actually like me and a fear of abandonment. It’s dissociating under stress, crying easily and feeling out of control of my internal world. Through DBT, I am learning to control my emotions rather than letting them control me. And that’s what recovery from BPD is all about to me — managing my emotions and not letting them spiral out of control. It’s not letting the waves overwhelm me or the monsters pull me under but instead learning how to gently float on the surface.

BPD is complex and there are countless ways to experience the nine symptoms — and that doesn’t even take into account the severity of each symptom. I can only speak from my own experience, but I wanted to share with you how I experience BPD in the hopes of shedding some light on this highly stigmatized mental illness.

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