Finding Beauty in Borderline Personality Disorder
In my struggle with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I often find myself completely unaware of how I’m feeling. By this I mean there is a persistent void of emptiness within me that makes fulfillment and coming to peace with myself nearly impossible.
Most days I struggle with feeling like I’m going through the motions of my life—as if I am a physical form who does what I need to do to get throughout the day. I distract myself with activities that bring me a fleeting sense of peace or happiness and try to connect with my ever-shifting self image in the best ways I can. I study astrology to understand myself better, I take and retake dozens of personality tests to remind myself of who I really am. I ask my partner to remind me of the good things he sees in me, parts of myself I can’t even remember at times because I am so influenced by the self-deprecating thoughts that run marathons in my mind.
They tell me, “you’re too sensitive and you’re too much. You are a liability to those around you. your need for reassurance is annoying. You don’t deserve the people you have in your life. You are alone and you’ll never be understood and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
I am often consumed with thoughts like these, but sometimes I feel like not much is going on in my head at all. Most days I live with the sense of having no idea what I’m supposed to do next, except when I’m with my favorite person—my boyfriend Zac, my biggest supporter and the person I love unconditionally. He makes me feel like myself; he is my whole world. When I feel his presence with me in any way, the emptiness subsides and love fills the void that presses on my chest like dead weight.
A lot of times, this emptiness I feel is suffocating and lonely and leaves me feeling restless, wondering who I am and why I feel so useless. And sometimes, the emptiness I feel is a complacent kind, not good but not bad. A void that feels temporarily filled in certain moments, but soon dissipates into a black hole of uncertainty. Any sense of goodness I feel is fleeting because eventually it is swallowed, consumed by my inner vacantness.
But of course, this emptiness and confusion of how I’m actually feeling mentally and emotionally is not permanent. Because sooner than later, an emotional response with the forces of a thousand hurricanes will surge within me. I never know quite how I feel until it hits. And suddenly, I am crushed with all of the pain I’ve felt in past years. I relive traumatic experiences with the same intensity as how I felt in those moments. I am saddened by the pain that I feel and the pain that those I love feel. I become angry with the world, with my parents, with myself, with everything. I have spiraling episode of self-loathing, crying into pillows to muffle my screams, laying on the bathroom floor wondering where it all went wrong. I ask myself over and over again, why am I like this? Why do I do this to myself? Why do I do this to the people I love?
I tend to demonize myself and insist that my episodes and mood swings are much more damaging and hurtful to people in my life than they actually are. My BPD manifests itself in a form that this community has also referred to as “quiet” BPD; this is not an official diagnosis, but I relate to it very strongly. It displays in a way where people can’t really see it, or they describe it as high functioning. Sometimes I am irritable or defensive towards my loved ones, but most of my anger is projected towards myself. And because of this, it’s hard to tell that anything is really wrong with me. Not that having borderline means I’m a bad person, but I certainly don’t fit the stereotype of this disorder. And truthfully, hardly any of us do.
I have always found that there is something beautiful about being able to feel deeply. Years and years before my diagnosis, I have had an overwhelming sense of empathy. I was described as overly sensitive and a crybaby. My kindness led others to perceive me as a doormat. I discovered I was an empath when I was probably 12, but I believed it was my superpower. I love harder than many people and I care in a way that is genuine and real. I am intuitive and gentle and selfless.
So although I struggle with this illness, the way my intense feeling and simultaneous emptiness toss and turn throughout my being, I choose to find some good within myself. I wear my heart on my sleeve regardless of the way it has bled. In all of the chaos, I seek what is beautiful and what is real about who I am, and I encourage this community to do the same.
– Julia (Lia)
Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash