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The One Thing I Wish You Knew About My Borderline Personality Disorder

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I often have said I felt like if I could walk around with a banner that said, “I am a victim of severe childhood traumas and live with borderline personality disorder (BPD),” my life would be a lot easier. I wish people I’ve hurt could know exactly how much I hate how this violent disorder makes me act.

Unfortunately, explaining the pain I carry isn’t that simple. If I could say I’m sick and need help in my worst moments, I’d far prefer that than lashing out. It doesn’t come easy for people to understand when I’m having a spell, or how to defuse it. I’m more than aware being around me is like walking on eggshells, because it’s the one thing I hate most about myself and wish I could stop.

I have a really difficult time setting healthy boundaries for myself and keeping them. I have a very unstable sense of who I am because a lot of my happiness and learning in healthy relationships was nonexistent in my formative years — coupled with sexual, physical and emotional abuse that destroyed my self-worth and understanding of consent. I don’t understand what life is supposed to be like because the greater two-thirds of mine was a slew of adverse experiences.

I feel deeply for the few I have in my life, and I genuinely love people. So much so I resent my actions when I feel that relationship is threatened, and ultimately a switch goes off in my brain that makes things a lot worse.

My worst trigger for this is being rejected, or when someone has promised something and doesn’t do it. Or, if someone changes their mind and doesn’t communicate it to me beforehand. It’s the fear of abandonment and loneliness that escalates it beyond a normal letdown. I have lived with a disorder for years that makes me feel embarrassed for my actions and worthless. I cling to the people I care most about because I couldn’t imagine my life without them in it.

I spent so much of my childhood feeling alone because I would lash out and no one knew what was going on in my home. I was afraid and embarrassed to bring anyone into it because I didn’t want to be removed from my family and I feared for safety. I didn’t want to face what was being done to me.

Breaking things, taking back or returning things or hurting people, in the moment, is me showing I’m so frustrated you can’t understand my feelings behind why I’m so upset in the first place. It’s not rational, it’s black or white. It’s never about the things I broke, the money I spent or the other petty means of getting your attention. It’s that if you don’t want me, I don’t want you to have any of my love. When I was young, abused and manipulated, it was the people closest to me who hurt me the most and I felt trapped.

Clinging to a person, wanting to burn their house down, or retreating and scrambling for what’s left of mine in a relationship is where my flight reaction goes. It becomes exhausting for even myself to deal and cope with. I feel such intense guilt for lashing out at people I love. It’s my worst fear to drive every single person I love away from me, but when I feel betrayed or threatened, it’s what I’m ultimately best at.

I unintentionally inflict hurt to myself and others when the situation escalates. When I’m in a fighting situation, I can’t bring myself back from it because I feel like my entire world is crashing down and I am so frustrated you can’t understand my pain. My rational thought turns off when I am upset and provoked.

I want people to know I really have tried to fix this. I went to private therapy for six years. I have tried more than 20 different medications. I have called the crisis lines. I have seen the specialists. I have gone to the emergency room more times than I can count since I was 15, knowing I had to be somewhere safe and isolated. I have known I have personality disorder since I read “Girl, Interrupted” when I was 12, but didn’t get diagnosed until I was 27.

I like to think back on the progress I have made and wish people could see me before therapy when I was so much worse. I wish people could appreciate how hard it is to find and receive treatment. I feel condemned to this disease knowing I still struggle, and the reality is it’s a lifelong illness.

If there was anything I could possibly do not to live this mental agony and hurt the people I love, I would at any cost.

Unsplash image by Sam Manns

Originally published: July 30, 2021
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