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How Borderline Personality Disorder Complicates My Relationship With God

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Two weeks ago, I rushed to my computer to turn on a live stream of a church service. As usual, I was most excited about my presence being acknowledged by the moderators. However, when I sent my “Hello!” in the live chat, I did not receive a reply. There was “Welcome, John!” “Hey, Sally!” “Good morning, Linda,” but no response to me. As the seconds turned into minutes, rejection boiled inside me. My face became hot, my heart raced, tears welled up in my eyes. “They’re ignoring me,” I thought. “They hate me. They’re all making fun of me.” I exited the live stream and decided I didn’t believe in God, after all… at least for the day.

This is what life is like with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is a mental illness categorized by impulsivity, suicidality, intense emotions, unstable relationships and an intense fear of abandonment, among other things. My emotions control me and, therefore, control my beliefs. I have been a self-proclaimed atheist, agnostic, Catholic, Buddhist, Wiccan, “believer in the universe” and Christian. I have prayed to the sun, moon and Jesus. I have a cross tattoo on my wrist that is covered by a butterfly… a visual representation of my indecisiveness.

One of the things that steers me away from Christianity is the (perceived) exclusivity and stigma surrounding mental illness in the church. Sure, depression and anxiety are brought up here and there; but when has there been a sermon on personality disorders? Psychotic disorders? Bulimia? When have the severity of these illnesses been discussed? Yes, I have seen sermons on anxiety, but it is always displayed as something that everyone experiences and is easily overcome if you “put your faith in God.”

However, the reality is that an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and impact every facet of one’s life. Trusting God sounds great, but it does not get rid of an anxiety disorder. Sermons on depression often revolve around the idea that, if you truly have faith in God, he will not let you be overtaken by depression. Yet, there have been several mainstream pastors who have died by suicide, and there is no doubt that the suicide rate involves Christians. Would the church’s response be that those people didn’t have enough faith?

Although I say that I believe in God, more often than not, I don’t. I don’t sense that God is with me, no matter how much I’m reading the Bible or praying… but my faith is something that has kept me alive when nothing else does. It gives me a purpose when I feel that I have none. So, I choose to pursue God, though I feel rejected by the church. I choose to pursue Him, though I don’t feel that I have a relationship with Him. I choose to pursue God, though it would be much easier not to.

Can you relate? Let Lily know in the comments below.

This story originally appeared on Medium.

Getty image via Tinnakorn Jorruang

Originally published: May 21, 2020
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