10 Things My Friends Need to Know About My BPD
Everyone has demons. Some lay dormant for years and never truly escape the confines of the human body; others reveal themselves slowly until they have become so powerful, the human body is no longer able to retain them, and they reveal themselves to the outside world with such strength it becomes almost impossible to ignore. My demons do not lay dormant; they are completely exposed to not only the ones I love, but also to those who merely see me walking the streets of my college town. These demons are fueled by my borderline personality disorder (BPD).
I carry them with me wherever I go, unable to release myself from the chains that connect us. I carry them to class, to student org meetings and to parties, unable to escape. Because of this, it is extremely difficult to hide them from the ones I love, and now it has gotten to the point where the veil has been lifted completely and my ability to hide it is no longer an option; my demons are out there for everyone to see. The ones I love and care about experience firsthand the ugly side of my BPD, and as hard as they try, they can never look past the demons associated with my illness. All they see are the symptoms and this ugly and uncontrollable side of me that haunts me each and every day. They no longer see me. It is because of this I felt compelled to write to the ones I love, so they can begin to understand the inner monologue that is my BPD. Here are 10 things my friends need to know about my BPD.
1. I do not mean to be annoying.
Trust me, the last thing I want to do is be annoying. This isn’t intentional in any sense of the word. This constant need for affirmation is something I wish I could live without; it’s something I wish I didn’t need to survive on a daily basis. It is here the demon of insecurity comes out to play. I have grown up with my BPD constantly telling me I am never good enough, and that no matter how hard I try I will never be good enough at anything or for anyone. I’m plagued by this constant belief that the ones I love hate me and think I’m just as worthless as my BPD tells me. Because of this, I find myself constantly asking if my friends are upset with me, and not believing any word they have to say when I wish so desperately I could believe them. The constant affirmations I need to get through the day does not stem from me wanting attention; it stems from me being so insecure within myself because of what my demons have told me, that I need those from the outside world to combat them and tell me the things I should already know.
2. I never mean to hurt anyone.
Loving someone who lives with BPD can be extremely difficult; those struggling with it know that. I blame myself every day for everything that has happened, and have to constantly live with the fact I’ve hurt the ones I love. I love and care about others so much, and I beat myself up every morning when I think of all the damage I’ve caused and can cause to others. At times I even loathe myself for it. Those who have protected me and care for me are so important in my life, and it breaks my heart knowing I could do anything to break their hearts as well. I never mean for my anger or unstable moods and irrationality to affect anyone. I never mean for my demons to become so powerful I no longer had a choice in the matter, and begin to act in ways that hurts my friends. That is the last thing I want, and if I have hurt anyone because of it, know I’m so sorry if I’ve had a negative impact on your life. All I want to do is make people smile, and to think I’ve done the opposite breaks my heart.
This comes from the combined workings of my insecurity and my fear of abandonment. All I want in life is to be independent. I’m ambitious and motivated, but one thing holds me back — my dependency on others. I try my best to control it and prevent it from happening, but I have not yet learned the skills to combat it. I put these individuals on a pedestal, and latch onto them as a way to ensure they never leave my side (whether I want this or not). I spend all of my time with them and begin to think my world would be over without them. This is a thought process I do not like. I do not like feeling as if I need others — in fact, I actually hate it. There have been times when I’ve wanted space, where I’ve wanted to focus on myself instead of spending time with the person I love; but I can’t. It’s as if once again I’m in shackles, unable to detach myself from them for fear that when I do, they will leave. Because of this, I lean on them, never leave their side and constantly need them to ensure our friendship will last forever so I can feel more confident about us. While trying so hard to make them stay, I end up forcing them to leave, and that is the last thing I wish to do. All I want is to be independent in life, and not need others to validate my existence. Trust me, this has been something I have been working on through my treatment, with the help of medication, in the hopes I never lose someone because of this reason ever again.
4. I hate being angry.
I hate being angry. It is one of the most negative and damaging emotions out there. For me, because of my BPD, my anger seemingly comes out of nowhere without rhyme or reason. Because this happens, I am unable at times to control it, so my response may not always be a healthy one. Many times it results in screaming and yelling, attacking those who love me all because I was not prepared to feel that sense of anger at that moment. If anyone has called me a bitch, it has been probably because of this reason. Just know I care so much about others that attacking them verbally is something I would take back in a heartbeat. Anger is not an emotion I like to feel, and it is certainly not one I like to express. If I’ve ever hurt anyone because of this, know I’m so very sorry. I never mean to take out this unpredictable anger out on any of you, because I care for you.
5. I know my self-destructive behaviors are unacceptable.
I’m no idiot. I’m incredibly aware that drinking the pain away, or running away from those who mean to keep me safe, is nowhere near healthy. I know that all too well. The problem is I have not yet learned how to properly cope with certain events that happen from time to time. My mind becomes desperate for some form of outlet that will allow me to escape from the reality I’m facing. My BPD tells me these ways work best to dull the pain, and when I get tired of fighting off my illness I have no fight left within me to resist. So, I listen to it and act in those ways because according to my illness there is no other option. I wish I wasn’t self-destructive. I wish I didn’t self-sabotage. I want nothing more than to learn how I can control those urges and continue the fight. This is something I’ve been working on in treatment, and is something I’m determined to manage as effectively as I can. Please just give it some time.
6. Patience and understanding go a long way.
I get it. It’s so incredibly difficult to have patience and understanding when it feels as though you’re being constantly attacked by my demons; trust me, I know. It takes a great deal of patience, and a great deal of learning to figure out the best way to support someone with BPD. My advice is to just be patient and try to understand how painful and tiring it is to fight this every day. Please try and walk in my shoes and you’ll not only see how much I care for those I love, but also how much fight it takes to combat the demons I constantly carry on my back. I have made many mistakes because of these demons, but knowing I have those who are patient, and who try to understand, makes the fighting less tiring and more motivated. Try as hard as you can to be patient, especially during my time of treatment, and know my only wish is that with more patience and understanding, I can recover more easily knowing the ones I’ve hurt have given me a second chance.
7. I am not my illness.
It’s difficult for those not living with a mental disorder to differentiate between my identity as a human being and my condition. My illness is only one small aspect of my life that at times takes control over me; that is still though not who I am. I am an animal lover, whose favorite move is “Fever Pitch,” and who hates being called her full name. That is who I am. At times, many of the ones I love morph the two together, and begin to believe I am just the girl with borderline personality disorder. I am so much more than that. I need the ones I love to remember why they became friends with me, and why I became such an important part of their lives before they even knew I was living with this disorder. That is the true Katie; that is truly who I am, and yes, recently I seem to have lost her a little bit, but she is still there. Once I’m healthy again, you will be able to see that Katie more than ever before. Just give me a chance to show you I am not my illness; I’m just a human being, and I am Katie. Just wait, and you’ll see; I am not my illness.
8. Please do not ostracize me or give up on me because of my illness.
I know it can be difficult knowing someone with such a severe mental illness, but shutting them out from their supposed support systems is not the way to go. We all desperately want to feel “normal,” and that is even truer when it comes to me. I wake up every day begging to be normal, begging to get back what I lost, and sometimes even hating myself because of my illness. It’s difficult in the recovery stage to try not to give up on yourself; when you feel like others have, it makes giving up on yourself seem a little easier. This fear I have of being alone worsens too when I feel as if I’m are being shunned and not included in things I normally would be included in because of my illness. I understand some of the ones I love need space, and I am fully respecting of that; just remember it’s difficult being alone, let alone feeling alone. Don’t give up on me just yet, and I’ll remind you exactly why I am your friend. Hopefully, you’ll still be mine.
9. If you have any questions, just ask.
I am not ashamed to be living with a mental disorder. I want nothing more than my loved ones to be informed about my BPD and ask questions to gain some understanding. I love to talk and I am incredibly open about it, so know I am not uncomfortable answering your questions or talking with you. I know it can be an uncomfortable topic, but trust me: I will not be insulted if you ask a question. It’s crucial to ask questions because then you can understand better, and we can begin to diminish this misunderstanding of mental illness. So please ask questions.
10. Recovery is hard, but it’s a fight worth fighting for.
I wouldn’t wish the kind of pain I have felt upon my worst enemy and the amount of loss I’ve had to face. Frequently I ask myself why I was born this way and why did it have to be me. The hard truth is that it is me, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it. I have a chemical imbalance, and that is something I have to live with. Because of this chemical imbalance though, and my inconsistent takings of my medication, I worsened. Eventually, I needed help whether I wanted it or not. I need you all to know though that I’m in recovery, and will be for a very long time because this sort of illness requires a lifetime treatment. It’s so hard trying to change a mindset and thought process you’ve had your whole life. It’s hard to break those destructive patterns you’ve used since middle school. It’s hard, but it’s happening. It’s happening because no longer do I want to hurt those I care so much about, and no longer do I want to feel as if my BPD has control over me. It’s one of the toughest fights I’ve ever had to battle, but it is one worth fighting tooth and nail for. To all of those I’ve hurt, just wait and see. To all of those I’ve lost, watch me grow, and for all of the damage done, allow me to attempt to repair it. I am proud of myself for the work I am doing here. Little victory after little victory, I am pushing through. I’ve already proven it to myself that I can do it. Allow me to prove it to you. I’m not only recovering for me, I’m recovering to gain back what I’ve lost, and to prove to others that the Katie I lost is returning with full force. Just wait and see.
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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Lead Thinkstock image via Marjan_Apostolovic. Image in the article via contributor.