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What It Means to Be a 'Functioning' Borderline

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I always get congratulated and praised for how well I function despite having borderline personality disorder (BPD) and emetophobia. But I don’t do it to fight through, or to seem OK.

I have this constant pressure of losing people in my life. I have this fear of letting people down, and then they leave me.

My functioning is fueled by a symptom of BPD.

That’s why I’m attending university, writing these articles and working full time.

It’s why I passed my driving test and never drink or do drugs.

“So what, your functioning is fueled by BPD. At least you’re functioning.”

I’m functioning to please this unrealistic expectation in my head that thinks I need to be doing things by societal timelines (passing test, starting university, starting a career) in order not to upset people or be abandoned. I know my loved ones really don’t care what I do, and they love me for me. But knowing that and being able to act accordingly is something I don’t know how to do.

I feel like I’m on autopilot all the time. Every success and win I have is quickly dampened by my mental health telling me it’s still not good enough and that no one I planned on impressing is impressed.

Because I am a functioning young adult, my loved ones cannot understand the magnitude of my symptoms when I decide to talk about them. How could they when there is no physical indication of my struggles? This pattern of thinking leads me to a want to be self-destructive. Quitting my job and studies would surely make people see how much this disorder affects me; then they would take me seriously.

I reach a full circle when I realize if I did that, everyone would abandon me. So I carry on as if everything is fine. Tricking people isn’t my intention, I’m just stuck on this seesaw of needing to be validated and not wanting to be alone. Currently the latter is constantly winning, which we could view as a good thing.

But I’m also aching and drowning in this disorder, and I’m doing so almost silently. This surely can’t be healthy and is almost terrifying, because I know how unpredictable I can get if things become too much.

Can you relate? Share your story in the comments below:

Getty image by Viktor_Gladkov

Originally published: November 7, 2019
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