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What It's Like to Be a 'High-Functioning' Borderline

When you meet me, you would never know I have a mental health condition. The first inkling might be the numerous self-harm scars on my right arm, but even then they’re faded and old — they could be from years ago. There’s nothing to say I’m suffering now.

And yet, here I am.

I am cheery, I am engaged and I am sociable. I can be perfectly pleasant, and the happy façade is up at all times. I don’t let people see what’s going on in my head. I don’t let anyone but my nearest and dearest see the turmoil going on underneath.

The truth is I am a ship captain navigating the stormiest of seas. It goes up and down, on and on forever. There’s no end in sight, I’m stuck on this boat for the rest of my life it seems. Sometimes things are OK and I feel like it’s smooth sailing, we’ve got flat calm water and then suddenly one thing happens and it’s like I’m trying to stay afloat while dealing with hundred foot waves.

Someone gets confrontational with me and at first I’m angry, I’m absolutely furious and then I get depressed. I start to reflect and I think “Well, they’re probably right and I’m a horrible person — in fact I am the worst of people. They had to have a reason for what they said right? I want to self-harm. I want to kill myself.”

I bounce between the fury and the misery constantly for several hours. I cry. I debate over and over again on how to deal with the situation. “What should I say?” I feel sick, physically like I’m going to vomit. The anxiety builds over seeing this person again and I feel like I can’t cope with any of it, with life or with any people.

The worst part of it all is I don’t know what I need from people. I know I am meant to talk about this now, instead of doing the other stuff, instead of doing the self-harm and the rest of it. But what do I say? I don’t know how to get the words out, and I don’t know what I need in return. I don’t know what I want anyone to say or do. I don’t know what is going to make any of this any better.

So I go to sleep, I try to move on. I wake up the next day and I put the face back on, the wall goes up again and here I am. Happy, bubbly, I’ll laugh. I am an absolute wreck of a human being, but it’s all bubbling under the surface. You’ll never see it because I have a smile on my face and a happy disposition.

I’ll be whoever I need to be to get me through the day.

All it takes is one comment, and the smile freezes on my face. Inside the panic has already started, my heart is beginning to race, and the cycle begins all over again.

Getty Images photo via tatarnikova