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When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Believe Your Feelings Are 'Wrong'

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I’m not certain I know who I am.

Since beginning a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) course, I have learned to become more aware of my thoughts, and it’s frightening me. I am finding it increasingly difficult to be mindful, to stay present.

I was brought up to believe my feelings had no weight. I was told repeatedly to stop thinking so much, that I was too sensitive. Can anyone identify? How was I supposed to stop what was happening to my mind?

At a particularly vulnerable time, I shared with a loved one that I had entered therapy. This was over 20 years ago and my loved one told me to stop making things up, that I was looking for problems that didn’t exist. And I won’t ever forget this because it continues to haunt me. The self-doubt, I mean. I’m in psychotherapy twice a week, and I continue to doubt my own feelings and experiences. I can only hear my loved one at those times, telling me to shut my mouth and just “pull up my socks” (what an expression!).

The self-doubt and instability mark other areas of my identity I don’t hear anyone talking about, and I hope it’s not just me who feels this way.

Things that seem inconsequential affect me personally. Like how I hate shopping for clothes because that means trying them on which means looking in a mirror and I hate looking in a mirror. I will always see someone flawed. The bad skin that my mother always pointed out. The weight I am putting on that my father likes to talk about. I just feel stupid when I go shopping because I don’t know how to dress and I don’t know what looks good on me and I hear those critical voices from the past.

The terrible isolation from my family that has come about in the wake of my latest breakdown is just that — terrible. It feels terrible because I feel as though I need to stay away from them in order to get better. And that fuels feelings of guilt and yes, shame. Which is ironic given the abuse that occurred within the family that no one will talk about.

Because if Lynn has a problem, it’s her problem, and separate from family. I have learned I can’t go to them with this. This being my pain and sense of isolation. I once told a loved one, after they cajoled and begged, that I was actively suicidal and deeply depressed. In response, I was told I should feel ashamed of myself for feeling like this. How can I ever forget that? This was one of my primary caregivers as a child.

I continue to doubt my reality, and find myself ruminating often. There continues to be a part of me that tries to run from my reality. Like literally run. I will go to the gym and get on the treadmill and start at a slow jog but then I will crank up my headphones and listen to Julien Baker’s “Turn Out The Lights” on full and I will sprint on that treadmill through each chorus.  I will try to outrun my sadness and sense of separateness.

Because I still feel as though my feelings are somehow wrong. And that I have to suppress them. As much as a I say that I have accepted my borderline diagnosis, sometimes I’m not so sure I do. I still feel as though it’s something I made up. And that my suffering isn’t real.

Even as I sit here feeling sad and somehow incomplete, I know the tide will turn and I will experience a brief reprieve from this.

This too shall pass.

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Unsplash photo via Tony Ross

Originally published: January 23, 2018
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