The Self-Aware Borderline
Sometimes, I wonder if life was easier when I wasn’t aware of my particular label. Before I slotted myself into the “BPD” box into which I fit so perfectly, I was just this dramatic, emotional person, always looking for an escape and unaware of my self-sabotaging patterns. Life was difficult and painful. I took drugs, smoked and fucked my pain away, but I wasn’t aware then of how my brain dysfunctions so.
Nowadays my awareness is in high-definition, amplified, and I analyze everything.
Before my diagnosis, I would be moody, experiencing tremendous anger followed by overwhelming sadness and guilt, which would result in me crying hopelessly for hours, sometimes contemplating suicide. Then a sudden burst of positivity would hit, which would lead to super productivity followed by immense excitement… then I would crash again, all within a matter of days or even hours, but I never knew why. Neither was I aware of how “crazy” I came across. I think part of me just accepted I was like that due to my painful childhood and teen years, that later encompassed all the typical drug abuse and violent relationships you would expect of a young adult leaving the care system.
Now, a year into my awareness I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), although I can realize how damn unreasonable I am being, I can´t always stop it. I realize how clingy I become, and how I rapidly switch to total coldness, pushing the person away, knowing that later I will desperately want back him back, but I still cannot stop myself doing it even as I see it happening. I see how irrational my anger is, how much my children struggle emotionally with me, but at the time I just go on winding myself up more. Then come the over-explanations, the selling out of oneself, giving all my secrets to whoever it is I am talking to; because while I am desperate for them to understand me, I feel I have overexposed myself and want to push them as far away as I can.
I am aware I can be totally, overwhelmingly in love, then hate just as passionately within a minute. I hear myself say terrible things, know the consequences I will cause, but I can´t stop. My inner voice screams at me to shut the fuck up, but I just carry on.
For me, BPD is like having various lenses/filters in my brain that affect how I see the outside world. Recently, it’s like I have various rooms in my brain of which I flit in and out. At the moment it feels like I don’t have much control over it, but this new awareness is like having a light switched on inside my brain — it all depends on the room where my mind is at the moment. That’s what dictates my day, my hour, my dreams, how I see and feel the world around me.
I am becoming aware I have several components inside. My mind can play the victim movie, the little girl lost, desperate for love and affection; the damaged inner child I suppose some would call it. My mind can also play the strong, independent woman, the single mum who will do anything for her children. Then there is the “crazy,” fiery, explosive version of me who cannot stop, cannot see reason and who destroys everything and anything good in my life. There is now a counterpart to her, one that can see in color, not just black, white and blazing red. I like this new emerging part of me. She is calm, reasonable and I think maybe she is my wise mind coming into play. I see more of her nowadays.
However, once I am stuck inside one room, the lost little girl crying in a prison cell, it feels like I have always been there and always will be stuck there. Not as easy (as some would say) just to change thoughts. We feel things so strongly and we forget we are simply actors in the movie and that none of it is real. This is when BPD is at its most dangerous, and it is in this room self-destructive urges come into play and we hurt ourselves with our chosen poisons, and put our lives in danger. I prefer the angry red room to this painful incarceration.
Sometimes I see this BPD splitting of my brain is not all necessarily a curse. In fact, it can nurture huge potential for change and creativity. I don’t actually have to be that sad little girl who cries for hours and makes her self sick. I don’t have to smoke and poison myself, hurt myself or punish myself. I don’t have to be desperate for love. I can be strong, independent, creative, sexy, funny. I can use my DBT skills and practice “Opposite Action” where I smile purposely at my “tragic” circumstance rather than scream or cry for it. I haven’t smoked anything at all for weeks now, I train hard at the gym again and reward myself rather than punish myself.
The truth is, we can be whoever we want to be and right now, I am working on being the strong woman, nurturing not only my own lost inner child, but also my daughters. I am focussing more on them and less on the impossible love of my life and this makes it easier to love myself fully.
DBT has helped me a lot. Watching “The Secret” and reading “The Inside Out Theory” have made me see I have all the control inside. Also, I have to mention “Inside Out,” the kids’ animation movie. It explained so much to me about how our emotions work. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most life transforming.
I am still classed as “borderline,” and I still show lots of symptoms. I still struggle hugely when I get caught up inside my own horror movie, but the more I realize it is the inside dictating the outside, the more I realize the power of my mind and the less I self-destruct. The bad emotions always pass. Accepting allows them to leave. Fighting them makes them stronger, escaping them means they catch up later.
I opened this piece not knowing if it was easier or not being self-aware. I close it with saying, it may not be easier, but this awareness is what’s leading me out of the BPD prison. I also realize it is not all bad, and that my borderline tendencies are what make me unique and special. I am learning to love myself for all my crazy little ways, learning how to take care of myself when I am sad and allowing myself to experience all my emotions, the happy and sad ones. What you resist will always persist, so it is better to ride the wave and know they will always pass.
Follow this journey on Living With Borderline Personality.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
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Thinkstock photo via Tishchenko