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What It's Like to Experience the Rapid Emotional Cycles of Borderline Personality Disorder


The “roller coaster” of borderline personality disorder (BPD) goes up sometimes.

It didn’t start out that way. I woke at 4:20 a.m. and felt like it was time to get up. Then I looked at the clock and, miraculously went back to sleep. When the alarm went off at 5:10, it was a titanic struggle to get out of bed.

And then it happened. The lows come without warning and so do the highs. Little by little, not only did I wake up, I started electric sliding down the hallway to brush my teeth. There was music in my head — the upbeat kind — and I couldn’t stop moving.

You know when this happens, don’t question it — just go with the flow.

In the car, instead of the classical music I usually get use to face the day, I listened to the curated parade of garage band music on satellite radio and I drove like I was auditioning for the pace car duties at the Indy 500. And yes, I sang in the car.

At work, I bounded up the stairs (by this time I was suspecting some unearthly entity switched my body with someone else’s), turned on the computer and put some of my favorite mambo music on mix because there was no one in the office yet.

There was no one to see me cha-cha across the office. And that is probably a good thing.

I know this isn’t mania — and that’s a good thing. I have no desire to jump back in my car and drive to Florida on a whim — although the idea sounds pretty intriguing.

It’s just Monday morning. And for whatever reason, I’m higher than a kite. And I fear someone will walk in my office and catch me salsa dancing around the copier.

But — damn it — these times are so rare that I have to make the most of them. Whether you have bipolar or BPD like I do, or any mental condition that has its unknowable highs and lows (and the lows almost always outnumber the highs — at least for me), when the highs come I’ve learned to appreciate it.

With my BPD, I never know how long it will last. I never know when the music will stop. After all, it takes one word, one look, one perceived slight and the downward slide is rocket fast.

So if the mood hits you without warning, I advise you to milk it as long as you can. Let that rare smile break the lines on your face, don’t worry about tomorrow and experience a joy you normally deny yourself.

And above all, I hope you dance… like no one’s watching.

Unsplash photo via Drew Graham