4 Things I Learned About Myself This Year as Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder
1. I’m not healthy enough to have a favorite person (FP).
My favorite person left me in May because I had become too needy and dependent on her and it was affecting her health. A few months ago I found a new favorite person. I was determined to make things different this time, but it ended badly again. I’m not healthy enough to make it a fair friendship. It’s too unbalanced and just ends up with both of us hurt and unwell. If my current FP ever talks to me again I need to work hard to make her into a regular friend rather than an FP, and if I feel it happening again with someone else I need to back away and make sure I establish boundaries.
2. I’m strong.
I tell myself all the time that I am weak and pathetic. But really I am strong. I’ve managed to make good progress with my obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) through hard work in therapy. I’ve struggled with both OCD and BPD, but I’m still here and still holding down a full-time job and writing articles that are being published. Living through and coping with the pain of mental illness takes strength.
3. I need to look after myself more.
At the root of my mental illness is the fact that I strongly believe I am a bad person and that I don’t deserve nice things. It’s like a vicious cycle because the more I believe this, the more I do things I’m not proud of to try and get others to validate my self-worth, which drives them away and that makes me hate myself even more, so I get more ill, which makes me even more needy. The best way to break the cycle is to be nicer to myself. It’s hard when I don’t think I deserve it, but my therapist told me I have to force myself to show myself compassion even if I don’t believe I should. Because the more I help myself, the more I’ll develop my own sense of self-worth, which will make me better and lead to better relationships with other people.
4. There are people who care about me.
Because I don’t like myself, I assume that no one else does either. I think if people are being nice to me, it’s because they feel sorry for me. I’m constantly thinking that people are getting sick of me. I overreact to things because I take them as evidence that people don’t like me and are going to leave me. But I need to consider that there is actually evidence that people do like me and care about me. I have one friend at work who I thought was getting tired of me because she didn’t always reply to my messages. Yet one day recently I told her I was going to a trampoline park that had just opened near me. And she said, “We should go!” There was no need for her to say that, she wouldn’t have said it if she didn’t like being around me. I have another friend who I thought was just being nice to me because we worked together, but recently she left the job and she’s still talking to me and wanting to be my friend. If she didn’t care about me, she would have cut me off when she left work. I don’t understand why anyone would want to be friends with me, but it’s obvious that there are people who care about me, so they must see something in me that I don’t see in myself.
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Unsplash image via Alexander Solodukhin