The Mighty Logo

The Reality of Having Both Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Nobody talks about the dark days that come with having borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar, or even just either of them.

Nobody tells you how they really are — no psychiatrist or doctor explains this to you.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Nobody tells you about the pain, the headaches, the tears that come.

Sometimes I can’t bring myself to tell anyone how I am feeling, I can’t bring myself to text a friend or call a helpline even though I know they’re there for me to reach out to.

I don’t know what to say or how I would say it. I’ve tried, like I’m sure you have too. I say, “Oh I’m having a bad day today,” and then force myself to act OK so my loved ones don’t worry, as I know it brings the person down and I don’t want that. I’ll call a helpline ready to pour my heart out, but hang up before they pick up. Because of the anxiety it gives me. The way hearing the dial tone makes me feel like my chest is being stamped on. How my palms get sweaty and my head races with thoughts like, “What if they don’t answer? What if they don’t believe me? What if they come and take me away? What if I’m taking this call and someone needs it more than me?” I can’t do it. I just can’t. So I don’t. I just sit and take it all.

People give you quotes and statistics. They tell you facts and coping strategies. You find posts on how well people are doing or how to improve, just to give you some peace of mind. But there’s nothing about what to do when you’re whacked in the face with a mood swing that makes you want to die.

I don’t see any posts about the actual swing in emotions you experience. Or what it’s like to be so low, you’re begging for it to end. You just want to be able to breathe without choking. It makes me angry, we live in 2019. Yet we’re all so oblivious to what goes on with anyone. We’re all so scared to ask if anyone is OK or needs help. We’re all so scared to ask for help because we’re worried it will seem like a cry for attention. So, we suffer. We as a generation have never been taught how to ask for help or how to cope with the fact that the suicide rates are so high.

How did I get this low again? How? I don’t know. When things are looking up, when I should be smiling because things aren’t as bad as they were a year ago, I am supposed to be happy. I’m supposed to be grateful. I should be smiling, not lying in a bath with just the shower on, struggling to breathe and crying my eyes out. Why the hell am I here again? I’m sick of thinking. I’m sick of worrying. One conversation today has made me feel so worthless and so empty. A conversation that a “normal” person could probably deal with. But not me, I cannot function, I overthink, I cry. To top it off, I received bad news from my doctor so that again has broke me down. Even though most people would cope, I can’t. I don’t move from my bed. I sit in the bathroom crying so no one will hear me with the shower on. I break out in a rash from panic.

But no one tells you about that. Everyone thinks it’s just mental things, but I get physical reactions from the way I’m feeling. I get red around my eyes because my tears burn my skin. I break out in psoriasis when I’m overwhelmed and stressed. No one tells you about the skin picking, gum biting and hair pulling that you do just to try and stop the way you’re thinking, or to feel some pain. Because if everyone hates me, and everyone hurts me, why shouldn’t I hate and hurt me too? Everyone sees me as happy, as smiley, as funny, chatty and annoying no doubt. People say you’re so strong, you’ve overcome so much, that I don’t “seem bipolar, I don’t seem depressed.” But no one genuinely sees that it’s a fake or a front. I am genuinely always worrying about everything, scared of almost everyone. My heart races, my head spins, my stomach hurts. But I’ve become so good at faking I’m OK so no one worries, no one panics, that no one ever sees when I need them, no one sees I live daily battling myself not to end it all.

They say people with BPD often lie, often trick people into doing what they want, but for me, lies are disgusting and if you lie to me, I don’t ever forget. But I do lie often about how I’m feeling. Is that what they mean when they say that people with BPD are good liars?  It’s compulsive. I don’t think I have told anyone once in the last year, look I need you. Because I can’t do that to someone. Everyone says, “I’m here if you need me,” but when it comes to it, no one knows how to cope with me when I feel like this. I get pawned off to doctors rather than my loved ones helping me. How do I tell someone who I’m having a normal conversation with I’m not OK? When I get the message, “So how are you today?” sometimes I type not good. Explain why. Then instantly delete it because they don’t need that. I suffer. And I can’t break out of it. I get so worked up I can’t breathe, that I’m hot. I’m sitting now, not sure why I’m even writing this because I’m in a mood swing and it probably looks super “crazy.” I’m probably making no bloody sense, but I think in a way, it needs to be out there so someone who is feeling similar can see and relate. Someone can read this and be like, fuck that’s me, I relate.

No one talks about the not bathing, not brushing your hair because you genuinely don’t have the energy to care for yourself, but you would happily jump out of bed and go see a friend if they needed you. No one talks about the self-hatred, the looking at yourself and physically hating yourself. Fucking hating yourself. Not, oh I wish I had a nicer smile. Literal hatred. Looking at your body in disgust, thinking about your personality and being so disappointed in yourself. No one talks about the sinking feeling when you walk past a mirror or when you try to take a picture and you can’t because you think you look so horrid. No one talks about the way your brain goes from two to 100, and how you can be walking down a street and you don’t see something properly like a cat and it jumps out and you’re genuinely stuck for five minutes trying to catch your breath. Thanks, anxiety.

Everyone thinks I’m OK and I’m getting better. Everyone says how well I’m doing. So how do I say, actually I’m not? It’s not even just the little things. I’m not a fully grown adult yet and I have so much going on in my life that is eating me up. I have to focus on family and the people who are dependent on me. I have to think of work, and for someone with my illnesses it’s twice as hard. I have to think about bills and food and how to provide for myself, I have to think of appointments and what money goes where. I am so bloody stressed and I just keep going with a smile and a sassy comment so people don’t worry.

No one talks about how scary being around people is, just walking down the street. For my head just doesn’t stop, doesn’t switch off. Goes into overdrive. I’ve made a promise to a lot of people this month that I won’t hurt myself again. And I’m struggling to keep it. To them that’s overdosing or cutting. They don’t see the scratch marks or indents in my hands from digging my nails in through stress, the neglect. The flashbacks are a killer, the worst moments in a person’s life going on repeat over and over again. They beat me up. I can be trapped in one for minutes. And here comes the self-hate again, the bitterness towards yourself. The coldness.

For me eating is an issue too. I overeat. I binge for days. Like eat so much I am physically sick after food. And then I can go days or a week without eating. I have issues eating around people I don’t know so eating out is hard. But then I don’t and won’t eat alone, even if I’m hungry. If I’m with someone and they aren’t hungry, I won’t eat. Some people have noticed my poor diet choices, like coming in to work with a pot noodle and sweets or nothing for days, and have told me I must eat. And it makes me sad. Like no one gets sometimes I physically can’t. I know I’ll be sick. No one sees the gum biting, chewing my lips to stop me doing something I’ll regret.

I’m just sitting here and realizing I’m not OK. I shouldn’t be so pathetic and weak. But I feel like I am. And all I hear is, “Oh, you got through this,” “I can’t believe how strong you are after that happened,” or the worst, “Come on, worse has happened to you and you pulled through, you’ll be fine.” That doesn’t make a difference. Just because something bad has happened to me doesn’t mean I am strong enough to do something else. No one gets how nice it would be to have one person who wanted to listen, who noticed that I’m not OK. And yeah, this is a momentary relapse, yeah in an hour or a day I’ll feel better and maybe even forget this feeling. I’ll be OK. But I live daily not knowing when my next swing is going to be. I live daily worrying if I’m going to be hurt or if I’m going to hurt myself. I live daily knowing if I do anything silly, I’ll destroy my family. I’ll hurt the people closest to me, so I can’t. Or I just don’t tell them. I want to be honest with a person and not be judged.

Try and love yourself a little harder. Try and latch to the good things about you, because there are loads. And right now, though I can’t see anything good about me and I would rather not exist then leave this bath, even though I want to hurt myself, I’m not going to. Because I will get over this. I will. I know that deep down.

Listen, if you’re feeling any of this, I won’t say it gets better or easier. I won’t say, try CBT, that helps. I won’t say it will go away. Because it probably won’t. You might have these relapses a lot. Just know you’re not alone, there’s someone out there who feels like you. Someone who’s also struggling. You’re not alone. And even now when I’m so low, I know I have to put that energy, that hate, into something better. Don’t sit in the bath spiraling like I am. Do something that will help. Do something that will make you smile no matter what that is, even if it’s eating till you feel sick or writing it all down and burning it. Do it. Go tell one person, a friend or a stranger. Get it all out and even if they don’t listen, you said it all. It’s out there. Know no matter what, I am so fucking proud of you because, look? You’re reading this? You got to here. That means everything.

Photo by Peter Miranda on Unsplash

Originally published: July 8, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home