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When Borderline Personality Disorder Leaves You Feeling Empty Inside

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So, the other day, someone told me to stop looking for happiness outside and start looking for it within. At that moment, with the heat of my constant companion — anger — building in my stomach, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough to have a proper response to it. But now that a few days and my anger have passed, I’m ready with stretched out fingers to type out a hopefully articulate response to that statement.

To begin with, I would like to declare, that I, Lavanya Rana am a mentally ill person, and this article pertains to my experience of mental illness.

My second declaration is about my illness. I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and one of the major symptoms of this disorder I experience is a feeling of emptiness or nothingness. And I’m not talking about being bored for 10 minutes because you can’t find something fun to do.

It’s the kind of emptiness that seeps in and leaves you feeling cold.

The emptiness I am talking about is not feeling anything for days or weeks on an end.

And I don’t just mean not feeling happy when you win a competition. I also mean not feeling sad when something happens to your beloved dog. It means not feeling nervous when your exams are approaching and consequently not studying for them. It means not feeling scared when a friend threatens to cut ties off with you.

It is a blankness, that seems to encompass your entire universe and there is no way you know to get rid of it.

Except, it is not entirely blank. Irritation at everything and hot, boiling fury at others become your constant companions. So instead of just you being miserable, you spread your misery around to all the other people.

When your emotions are so uncomfortable, to say the least, it seems almost impossible to find happiness within.

So, you look for happiness without.

And I’m not talking about finding happiness by doing maladaptive things like binge drinking, or chain-smoking.

I’m talking about less maladaptive things like going to open mic nights and performing because poetry and the applause you get after makes you feel things in your tummy that are definitely excitement and happiness.

Things like watching that movie you enjoyed, twice in the theaters (don’t judge, but for me it was “Moana”).

Or doing things like spending a whole evening crying and spending the night with your roommate, drinking shitty drinks from the vending machine and talking about the wildest things.

Finding happiness outside of you in ways that don’t harm you is not a bad thing at all. It is actually quite important. From time to time you need to remind yourself that there will be times when you won’t be able to be anything but sad or empty and that is OK, because there are so many things and people and activities in the world that bring you joy and they will always be there for you, no matter what.

Unsplash photo via Vasily Kolada

Originally published: July 5, 2018
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