Just Because I Have Borderline Personality Disorder Doesn't Mean Things Are Always My Fault
Here I am, six weeks post-breakup. Off work due to a nervous breakdown, my first in five years. I’m in psychoanalysis twice a week, and it’s the first time I have stuck with therapy long-term. I have been seeing my doctor for about two years, and he was the one who had to point out the relationship between my mood instability and my ex-partner. And he’s right. Yes, I’m sad the relationship ended, but my mood has been stabilizing. While suicidal ideation has been with me for as long as I can remember, I am no longer actively suicidal.
In relationships, I always play the same role: I am the “identified patient.” If we go for couples counseling, my depression and mood instability is talked about, and unless the therapist is highly skilled, they will use this as the framework we work from. And it lets the other person off the hook, because, if you were to listen to my ex, he did “everything” for me, and “couldn’t do anything right.” I listened to that B.S. too, until I couldn’t listen anymore.
I stayed in the relationship for three years because I didn’t trust myself to walk away from it. People in my life commented on how much he seemed to love me, and how great it was that we had shared interests. Why was I increasingly irritable, then? Why did I get so upset when he would criticize me and my moods?
“Why do you have to be that way?”
“Why can’t you be more positive?”
It began to happen with greater frequency: the low moods, the suicidality, the return to drinking, the drug use. My sense of identity had always been shaky, but after allowing myself to become vulnerable with this person, his observations and eventual personal attacks became too much.
He refused to acknowledge I had an illness I could not control. And he took my moods personally. And me? I was doing what I do in relationships: taking meds, then not taking meds because maybe it would help my sex drive so he wouldn’t think I was frigid, paying money to see a hormone specialist to see if balancing my hormones would help my moods so they wouldn’t bother my ex so much, exercising with greater frequency so I would look good for him but also to quiet the demon voice in my head, drinking and using drugs when we were together so maybe they would help me to be fun, but also so they would numb my feelings and keep me from saying anything he didn’t like.
He was a nice guy. Ask anyone. But I’ve learned that he absolutely did not have the capacity for this, and it made him ugly and cruel. His behavior heightened my sense of vulnerability. If I became depressed, he would curl up sullenly on the couch. If I became irritable, he would get angry and defensive.
When I finally was able to hear the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), I was personally elated. Because it gave me a place to start, and a tangible problem to work on. And, as much as I feel that this diagnosis is my identity right now, I think that may change.
I kept looking for the right partner to complete me, protect me, fix me, love me. And maybe he’s out there, but maybe I’m all that I need.
Yes I have borderline. Yes, I am 50 years old and still trying to figure this out. This is me.
But I am also so much more.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via Karina Tes